5 Signs of Screen Addition in Your Child

light fashion people woman

There’s no question that technology has drastically changed how people live. And while there are many benefits to incorporating screens into children’s lives, there is also a dark side – screen addiction. With over 47% of male teenagers reporting video gaming addiction, it’s no wonder why parents are concerned. Here are five signs that your child may be addicted to screens: Continue reading “5 Signs of Screen Addition in Your Child”

3 Ways to Spend More Quality Time with Your Children

3 Ways to Spend More Quality Time With Your Children

Are you feeling like you do not get to spend enough time with your children? Spending plenty of time with them is important because you want them to know that you love them, are there for them, and enjoy spending as much time as possible with them. However, hectic schedules and busy lives can often make it far more difficult for you to get that quality time in with each child. There are some simple ways to spend more time with the kids while focusing on building a much tighter and stronger bond. Continue reading “3 Ways to Spend More Quality Time with Your Children”

On the Move Again

moving, moving cross country, bekins van lines, bekins moving, planning a move

Twirling the events of the past year through my head like balloons whipping in the wind, The Chad and I are just amazed at all that we have experienced over the last nine to twelve months. In just three short weeks we are moving, yet again. Seems as though we only arrived here in Orlando a few days ago, but we are almost into this adventure a full year. How is this so? Apparently time truly does fly despite times where we think time is standing still. My twins were just born yesterday too if you ask me, here they are, a decade older and I continue to be in disbelief I gave birth and raising twins. Much like my disbelief that we have to be on the move again, only this time, our roots will be firmly planted here in Florida. Our family will be able to officially close our chapter of life in Arizona as we close on our home in Oviedo, just outside of Orlando. Continue reading “On the Move Again”

Love Doesn’t Flow Up

Events in our lives, such as the death of a loved one, can seem to bring about great reflection regarding life. We often reflect in a rear facing manner on the “could have,” “should have,” and “would have” in relation to the loss of our loved one but never about the can and will be of the future. The loss of my maternal grandfather resulted in one of many talks The Chad and I have had over the years about our upbringings, our great similarities and triumphant differences. What we found in our discussion regarding family is that love doesn’t flow up. With that idea we both vowed to intentionally raise our children a bit differently, giving them what we did not have in our lives, in our relationships, fulfilling our needs and those of our children. Many parents say they will raise their children different from their parents methods, however they fall short to parenting by default, parenting by what was learned. Continue reading “Love Doesn’t Flow Up”

Single Parenting

Growing up in a single parent home we sometimes fail to recognize the struggle parents experience without a partner to assist in raising children and running a household. My mom went about raising myself and my siblings all by her lonesome. A mortgage, car payment, grocery shopping and ensuring our safety, well-being, education and care landed squarely on her shoulders. Many of my friends experience this same challenge everyday. I commend them for their single parenting as I only experience the challenge when The Chad goes out of town. Continue reading “Single Parenting”

Wisdom of Youth

smart kids, kids of the future, teenagers, learning from teens

“Respect your elders” my mother used to always tell me. Then I watched as the elders, elderly, and the older than me would disrespect me and what I had to say. As if my point of view and intellect carried any less weight as a human than theirs. Sure, they have walked the earth for some time, but does that qualify them for some hierarchy of respect that is given and not earned? Continue reading “Wisdom of Youth”

It’s Cool to be a Christian

For many years I walked in shame for my faith and beliefs. Truly mortified to speak them aloud, I even went as far to recant that I ever truly believed in the first place. I thought being a Christian meant carrying this tremendous burden of shame, embarrassment, yet for years I never truly understood why. The moment was truly divine and as if God struck me across the back of the head; I was paralyzing my thoughts, my beliefs and my faith until that moment. My realization allowed me to confront that my beliefs were not about me, but about Him, my life was more than just me and that life was cool to be a Christian.

My friends of various faiths, Judaism, LDS, Catholics, were all staunch with their affirmation in their beliefs, as if they paraded like the emperor in his new clothes. I could not fathom the realism of being myself, in my own skin, with my own beliefs with all the looming disgrace of being me. I never understood, not until I was 35. I felt like Moses, having lived this long in my life with no spiritual intervention and then wham, this life. The life I love came to me. Realization came when I saw how the veil was torn. I saw His grace, love, sacrifice.

gospel, Bible message, The StoryThat.

That epiphany defined the genesis of shame and embarrassment. Our culture, society, those who truly do not get what being a follower of Christ truly entails, defined who a Christian was “suppose” to be, who I was suppose to be amongst my peers. The skewed and obtuse perceptions, interpretations, and teachings create this shame; finding yourself kicking a toe in the dirt, a low hung head and sheepish voice claiming, “Yeah, I’m a Christian. I believe.” You know that moment, you have felt that burning into your soul. Chills quiver through your existence that you might be rejected by your peers for loving something greater, desiring Greater. Dare you speak a whisper of your faith, the succeeding actions from your audience are of heavy sighs and a possible eye roll. Pity.

As of late I have seen such a beautiful and genuine emergence of “cool” Christians; wearing their flaws on their sleeves, these broken people shout to the heavens how much they love Him, love themselves, love others. These folks aren’t kicking the dirt, they are initiating a new breed, transcending the stereotype. Escaping the traditional fire and brimstone, maladies of classical hymns by a choir on Sunday that would showcase who we wanted to be and hiding who we really are as a people. Sinners.

I ran into a friend from church the other night while dropping the kids off for their Wednesday night life groups. Our encounter humbled me ever more. She told me, “I love your writing. Keep writing. I know very few people who are our age that get it.”

She got it. She got that I got it. Praise God. Maybe my age, our age has everything to do with faith, our faith. Relinquishing the fear of judgment from others, which is a mortal reflection of insecurity and personal fear. Grieving our former selves, loving them all the same as they have shaped us into the people we are today, bounding with love, benevolence, calm and a bit of whimsy.

As I progress into my elder years and I have accepted that life is more than just me, I want, I lust, I desire more of this life, my life, the life of and for my children. Communing with people, tendering a love the way He did, and exploiting the whimsy for life by unlatching the societal norms, the harnesses confining our being.

Some 25 years ago I was confined to my grandmothers Pontiac, the travel from her home in Eloy to my childhood home in Chandler felt like an eternity in her car. The endless stretch of desert was like a sea of beige back then, littered by the occasional eye candy of a billboard. Cruising along as a passenger I remember battling for the radio station. She had her presets, Christian music, as I say that in the most childish, sarcastic voice…possibly with an eye roll. While I, on the other hand, fought to listen to Top40 pop. I was an 80s child, dear God, anything but old hymns. I could feel the yawns and an overall feeling of sleepiness with the suggestion of the organs playing in the background.

Christian music was not what it was today. The best  you could get was Amy Grant, but she was like Debbie Gibson, catchy but you would be caught dead listening to her. Yesterday’s Christian is not today’s Christian. My grandmother is a perfect example that Christians today are not as they formerly were. Grams was, is, the strongest woman I know in Christianity. A warrior of faith, love, sacrifice and selflessness; her grace for the love of the Lord has evolved so magically and enviably. Today she rocks her Christian stations, the same one’s I do, she even does so in her Ford Mustang GT convertible. She has helped me embrace the evolution of owning brokenness. Shattering my own veil that I have a perfect love in an imperfect world.

christian, Christianity, TheFiveFish.comListening to the traditional hymns and psalms in my grams’ car was reminiscent of the shame, the culture, the secret we all bore but never uttered. Our hidden heathen, God truly forbid we ever let the bastard roam free amongst all the other hidden heathens, declaring our humanity. How could we display the truth outside these ecclesiastic moments; broken people, sinners, lovers of the Lord existed as a singularity. Not today. Today’s music, I can crank in my Jeep with the top down, all windows down and never feel ashamed to be broken, to love worshiping out loud. Bands like Lifehouse, P.O.D, Jars of Clay, FlyLeaf, Switchfoot all derive their music from strong faith, religious roots and stream into our homes on traditional Top40 radio. I have even become THAT parent. While I still have my normal radio stations I find myself cringing and changing the channel when I truly hear the lyrics. These words playing into my children’s ears, minds, and then they are spouting them. Last thing I want is my seven year old daughter spouting off about menage a trois from Katy Perry while riding in the Jeep. So when they ask for “Greater” by Mercy Me…

Cool.

What is on the other side of your cool? What about your faith, what quality causes you angst? Are you in the disavowal stage? Accepting who we are and in our faith does not mean that we are, for lack of a better term “Bible thumping.” We can be who we are, be in our beliefs, and share the good Word just like we share small talk. Like breathing.

How can life be cool to be a Christian; just do these three things. Get over it! Get over what you thought you knew. Find a home that tells the story of the Bible, but be ready. The story is a romance, a love story of a Father who so loved his children he sacrificed his only son. Get under it! Serve your community, serve the way Jesus did, because you know this life is not about you. Get with it! Be with other people who love God. Do life with these people. Because what is this life if you cannot share with others? In my walk, I have found more people, friends, who have helped me redefine my cool.

Honoring Family

Family is one of my most precious commodities. The holidays always seem to make me feel nostalgic and crave my family ever more. I am the oldest child and I considered myself rather close to my siblings and my parents. The Chad used to harass me about cutting the umbilical cord to my mother when she and I would partake in our monthly conversations while living in Albuquerque. Looking back, I see this was awkward for him as he was not close to either of his parents growing up, while I was close to much of my family. I see being close to my family as a way of honoring God, by honoring my family I am doing what feels right in my heart and in the eyes of the Lord.

My Mom and Dad, we talk rather frequently either on the phone, via text or I try to stop in and visit when I can. I suppose I am doing as the Lord has asked, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12) My father and I have a beautiful rekindled relationship. We were never very close, but today we are and he is such a strength and light in my life. He brought me an amazing wisdom professionally and lifts me up personally. I have found great knowledge in learning more about myself by interacting with him, learning from him and learning to be a better mother, wife.

I am rather close to my grandmother, my father’s mother. She is someone I look up to on many levels. A fighter, a prayer warrior, God fearing woman and lady. She is always well kept, adorned with jewelry, the lightest touch of rouge, and I can always smell a new perfume on her. Her perfumes are the one thing I vied for as a young girl, she hooked me on the classic Lauren by Ralph Lauren circa 1978.

One afternoon this past November I had the most priceless opportunity to spend almost an entire day with my grandmother. Her home still smelled as it did when I was a child, while the dwelling and it’s locale completely different through the years, the smell remains the same. We swapped a few stories and then I sat like I did as a young girl, entranced in her many parables of love through the ages. Tears began to sweep across my face as she spoke so candidly and lovingly of my grandfather. I could still smell a hint of my grandfather in this new house as we discussed his antics. A warm, earthy, musky scent that wrapped around me like a warm blanket. The smell was comforting in spite of my feelings. I felt an emptiness as we both paused, his presence and lack thereof was so heavy and grand, the true patriarch of our family.  Despite his passing I know my relationship meant that much more to visit my grandmother, to honor my grandfather, to honor her. His passing would not suggest that we have any less of a relationship.

Imagining a life without family and extended family would not behoove me. Confusion waves over me as I attempt to understand family who choose a distant life; to not have a close relationship, to be out of touch, estranged. The Chad and I have family who are not engaged in our family, they choose to not be active participants and rarely if ever keep in touch. I struggle deeply with these family members choice to be absent, more over to be absent from my children’s lives. Such a deep loss to miss out on watching these young people grow, evolve, and come into their own. I could not fathom a life devoid of generations of family, the stories, the experiences, missing their love and friendships.

I suppose had life been that way for them during their younger years, that the cycle of being with kin would be continued. Maybe I am the exception; to have had the opportunity to spend so much of my youth with a great deal of my family that I am in tune with them on many levels, through generations, and now with my children’s engagement in the same fashion.

Christmas Eve was indicative of the various lifetimes, spanning the ages through storytelling, reminiscent of my former childhood. My aunts and uncles were swapping stories of years past. Suddenly I was transported to a time where I could recall this same revelry as a child and a tremendous amount of joy filled my heart being with my aunts, uncles, cousins, my Dad and my grandmother. Memories danced in my head as the same laughter carried me to a time where we lit luminaries on this same cold evening. Moments flashed before me as I was of similar age to my children, adoring how my aunts and uncles were so in love with one another at such a joyous time. Laughing, joking, carousing around the Christmas tree and I watched in awe so hopeful to one day experience this same love and rejoicing in the name of our Father.

Which brings me back to why family would choose to be nonexistent in each others lives. Emptiness creeps in as I begin to imagine this life. I’m saddened by family who make such a drastic choice. I suppose in some way The Chad and I have made this choice. We chose to move to Arizona to be closer to my family and left New Mexico for the toxicity we experienced while living in that environment. Today we see that our choice was ours and was not malicious, healthy, but we see the toxicity even more so now from afar. So I find myself praying that one day the hearts of our family would be healed so they could see past their own pride to come visit as we have done for so long.

Family is such a funny thing. I never saw the mechanics of how the dynamics worked in a family. I just thought we were all one, and one for all. Yes, I suppose very fairy tale-esque of my beliefs, an optimist by heart.

As an adult I see the mechanics more clearly. I share these same dealings and workings with my children. I do not shelter them from the pain and suffering sometimes felt and inflicted by the ones we love. Maybe I share more for the simple fact that they should not be as I was, living a fairy tale of lies that family will always be present in our lives. Family isn’t always joyous, despite our best efforts.

I have faith. I have a hope that one day all our families will be able to share with one another once more. We can all celebrate again, together. Holiday’s can be spent together, with each other, carousing around dinner tables, experiencing the revelry as we trip through memories past. Or as I said, maybe I am the exception to see such a tremendous strength in the power of family, a legacy to pass on to our children and their children. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Proverbs 127:3-5)

For now I keep the faith. I never falter or get angry, more sad and disappointed, I make attempts to understand the point of view of these relatives who have made the choice to be estranged. I still honor family with cards, emails, texts and phone calls. I still reach out. My hope is that one day we can agree we have differences and embrace our differences as family, set aside our anger and our pride, to come together for the inheritance of our children and their children. Family is but our legacy.

Are you a good mom

Today I was having lunch with my best friend as I do each and almost everyday. She told me that her dad and sister would be coming to lunch and invited me. I was gracious and obliged, how would I pass up meeting her dad that she talked so candidly about. We passed stories along and my friend’s father was telling stories of how he lived abroad, then randomly, as my friend does, blurts out how you would never know I have three kids.

Twins and Mama on BeachMy friend’s dad perked up and was too surprised to hear I have three kids. He then complimented me to the point where my skin matched my red dress when he said I could “be a Bette Middler stand-in” and again I was humbled. My dear cohort continued to add about the twins. I laughed holding my humility and he looked at me very kindly and said, “You are a good mom.” I again, maintaining my air of humbleness thanked him kindly and said “some days.”

Rather I wonder some days if I am a good mom. I know my children are well fed, well loved, have better manners than most adults stating their gratitude and always being thankful for what they have and do not have. They are dressed accordingly and their clothes are in good condition and I do not in any fashion neglect them. I always listen attentively to their needs, their wants, and their antics. But sometimes I let the demons that walk this earth bore into my psyche where I question if I am a good mom. I know better, but my weak moments take over, thinking I could always do more.

However, I realize only then I cannot give my children anymore. The life lessons they learn by working hard for what you want in life, gratitude, humility, respect, and the plain and simple fact nothing is owed to anyone is all I can give them. I cannot give them anymore love than I already have to offer, which I would die for them. No matter what edge of sanity they may drive me over, through, and towards, my unyielding and unbridled love for these people is amazing. The encouragement and reassurance of their intelligence and that they can do anything they put their minds too provides them with the self-esteem and self-assurance they need to conquer any task or lead any board room.

When I was younger, even before I had children, I would judge children and parents based on how the children acted, how the parents acted. Now I pity them, and hope that one day that those children would learn such qualities of humility, respect, self-preservation, perseverance, hold a high level of self esteem. I pity only because I know that those children and parents are only privy to the tools they were provided, and while they are not perfect, nor am I, some individuals do not have access to certain life skills and tools that are much more valuable in life than what the brand on the tag of the clothing states.

Which brings me to the fact that I am far from perfect and I should be able to walk through life and my children’s life knowing that while I am not supermom of the year, I sometimes have trouble getting the stains of a shirt (especially since my Holy Cow went out of business….sigh), I sometimes forget to sign a note right away and it is a day late, or I forget someone’s blanket before leaving for pre-school. But what I never forget is to tell my children endlessly each day how much I love and adore them, how brilliant they are, how talented they are, how they are such great children despite any behavior issues, and I never forget they are mine. No one can tell me how to raise my children, live my life, and I have hope for humanity when a complete stranger can look at me and make the judgment of how I am a good mom.

With that I can sleep well knowing that good people still do exist, who do not judge harshly, ill willfully, and are good at heart. I can take that and pass that onto my children for their karma. Because how one person acts is their karma, how you act is your own.