Wednesday, March 27, 2013

the week(s) in which I feel like a failure.

Oh sure, it's nothing new. All moms feel like failures at one time or another.

It still stings.

Perhaps because becoming a mother is so much more than a personal journey. These little lives are in our hands. Literally. They see the good, the bad, and the very ugly.

Sometimes I feel like when I blog about parenting I'm usually saying, "this is rough." and sometimes I feel guilty about that, because I don't want to be thought of as whiny or a downer.

And sometimes I feel like a stinkin' schizophrenic - trying to give guidance and discipline firmly on one hand and then smiling and encouraging them on the other - it's a little exhausting!

And it IS rough.

This is the first time in my life that I've EVER mothered toddlers, two toddlers at that. Two toddlers being consumed with emotions they can't control and power that they're learning to wield. Two toddlers with colds that zap their energy and huge molars jutting through their jaws. Wouldn't I feel just a little bitchy, too? I know the answer is yes.

These last two weeks have been the hardest yet. Tantrums, snot, bad sleep, travel, a rental house with unexpected problems, and a husband working at a new business that takes him away most of the time. It all feels like a little too much, and I feel myself cracking at the edges.

With Andy's blessing, last week I packed up the girls and left for my parents for a little respite from hectic Portland life. I'm trying to recenter and actually practice the basic principles of Peaceful Parenting (I am doing a series on it, after all) along with so much prayer for patience and fortitude.

And a confession? I've swatted spanked Afton. Twice. Both times for getting upset and throwing her plate. I HATE when they purposefully throw food. It really, really gets me and I do take it personally because I tell them, "when you're done, just tell me that you're all done (make the all done sign) and I'll take your plate!" and then BOOM, on the floor.

*Stabs Self in Eyes*

Each time I felt terrible and asked for her forgiveness and told her that I'm really stressed and unsure of how to respond to her when she does something that I asked her not to do. I told her I don't want to spank her but in those moments I just don't know what else to do.

She didn't really cry, just kind of looked at me with a blank stare. That was the worst.

I'm still unsure of how to deal with the throwing food situation, and I'm searching and praying for guidance, because it is a stumbling block. It may be a small something for some people, but for some reason I take it personally. Still working through that one!

And giving myself grace in this area - even though I've compromised myself in the way I want to parent, I still realize that remaining open to them and keeping my heart soft is the most important thing. So apologizing is an important and necessary step for me. Along with being honest with her about why I'm angry, even if she doesn't completely understand.


All this to say, these past two weeks have been incredibly difficult and when (when?) we reach the other side, I'm going to be extremely thankful.

Aaaaaand my fair share of this:

Monday, March 18, 2013

strike a pose {PDX blogger meetup}

Last week I had my "headshots" taken for the first time at the "Strike a Pose" PDX Blogger Meetup! These ladies (and a few gents) are some of the sweetest, most genuine people I've ever met and I look forward to every event we have, whether it's just a social GNO or an event where we learn about social media, marketing, and other bloggy business issues.

At this event, the whole goal of the day was to get some great headshots of bloggers who aren't necessarily "style" bloggers and who don't have access to professional pictures (uh, me!). We met at the Space in the Pearl and each attendee was paired with a different photog and stylist and we walked around the neighborhood taking shots and talking about the "how" of taking great photos. 

My photographer was Linnea of Linnea Paulina Photography, and she is an incredibly warm and sweet person who I've gotten to know through other meetups, so I felt comfortable posing with her and following her lead. She took these beautiful shots and I told her I'm going to use the heck out of them! I also love that they were taken right down the street from our old apartment. 

Do you live in Portland? You should come to one of our meetups. You'll have a great time, I promise. We try as hard as we can to make it inclusive, welcoming, and a safe place where you don't have to compare yourself to other bloggers, even though we've got some very successful people in our midst. 

Jenni, Suzannah, Macey, and Bee do a fabulous job coordinating the events and I feel privileged to help out in any way I can - at this event I ran the welcome table - because they're just awesome ladies!

More from the day (thanks to Macey for the pictures!)

More blogger meetup coverage links: 

A big thank you to all of our wonderful sponsors. Each of these companies/individuals/blogs contributed in making the Portland Bloggers' Strike a Pose event successful and affordable. 

 photo jrlogo_zps8c743238.jpg  Alex Lianopoulos Photography  Murray Photography  Allegra Villella  Linnea Paulina Photography Margaret Jacobsen Photography  Motormouth Studios  Pfaus Photography  photo blackandwhite_circle_200_zps65952f2d.jpg  photo jaderoselogo_zps92d50a39.jpg  photo papermorning_zps1acc57b0.png  photo thelittlethings2_zpsaa18d792.jpg  photo ChloeandIsabel_zps8d4d1a16.jpg  photo GlassCast_zpsf053ed86.jpeg  photo marinalogo_zpsf486aff9.jpg  photo Elephants_Logo_zps36c01d10.jpg  photo url_zps148c197e.jpeg  photo adventuresindressmakinglogo_zps2633a815.jpg  photo thespicybeelogo_zpsa56f663a.jpg  photo Kaylasbuttonforonline-1_zps4961aadf.jpg  photo Awellcraftedpartybutton_zps8584b6f5.jpeg  photo thebohomama_zpsc5bde9f7.jpg

Saturday, March 16, 2013

mindfulness and healing childhood wounds {Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids series}

Nothing prepared me for the intense emotions I would feel after becoming a mother, and I think that all of us would agree that our kids have the very special ability to show us our deeply wounded places and bring out the hidden fears and anger in our hearts. 

If you're like me, that means a LOT of fear and a LOT of anger. There have been moments where I scared even myself, over little things that came way out of left field and in the scope of life didn't even matter, but it was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Why did something so small make me so angry? Why was I getting "triggered" by things that didn't really matter? 

Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, believes that those "trigger" moments show us areas in our lives that need healing, and I would agree. The moments that I found myself the most angry were when I didn't feel like I had control over a situation, and control has always been an issue for me.

One of the foundational principles of becoming a Peaceful Parent is doing the self-work needed in your own life and working actively to heal the wounds inflicted during your childhood - whether intentional or for most of us, completely unintentional!

Most of us can say that our parents meant well and did the very best they could with the resources they had. But they were also influenced by their own upbringings and carried with them their own deep wounds, fears, and weaknesses into the ways they raised us. 

And ultimately, we are all human. No one will ever get it exactly right, and it helps to embrace the fact that there will be ways we will fail our kids. We aren't perfect, so we can never be perfect parents. "No matter how much we work on ourselves," writes Markham, "we will not always impact our children positively. Our children don't need perfection from us, they need a parent who embraces growth, makes amends, and opens her heart when it wants to harden." 

How do we do that? How do I become a mother who gets angry less often, embraces growth, makes amends, and keeps a soft and open heart? 

The answer lies in one multi-faceted concept: Mindfulness. 

What is mindfulness? Dr. Laura describes it as paying attention to what you're feeling but not acting on it. Our first responsibility in parenting is to be mindful of our own inner state. Acting on our emotions mindlessly, especially when angry, compromises our parenting. 

How do we model emotional regulation? By noticing our negative emotions and letting them pass without acting on them - and our kids watch us do that, and in turn learn how to control their own emotions. 

This is a hard one for me. When I'm angry, I also assume I'm in the right. It's hard to not to immediately want to "teach my kids a lesson" when I feel wronged or frustrated. The important key to remember is to accept the anger, even while choosing not to act on it, and then noticing the "why" or "triggers" behind the anger so we can start changing our story and do the healing needed in our own lives. 

According to Dr. Laura, "if we don't heal those wounds, they prevent us from parenting our child as truly want to. If there's an area where you were scarred as a child, you can count on that area causing you grief as a parent - and wounding your child in turn."  

She shares a thought-provoking quote from Dan Siegel: "In the absence of reflection, history often repeats itself...research has clearly demonstrated that our children's attachment to us will be influenced by what happened to us when we were young if we do not come to process and understand those experiences."

So much to think about. 

The only other thing I would add on to what Dr. Laura says in this part about healing wounds is specific to me and my spirituality - Prayer. Lots of it. All the time. 

Tips for Healing (from Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids)

Dr. Laura shares some tips for healing childhood scars: 

Parent consciously: 

Notice when our kids push our buttons. "Whenever we get triggered, we've stumbled on something that needs healing. Any time your child pushes your buttons, he's showing you an unresolved issue from your own childhood." It may be big or small, but noticing what triggers you is the start to understanding and healing. 

Break the cycle: 

Hit pause. You don't have to repeat history with your kids. "Pause and remind yourself what is about to happen unless you choose another course. Close your mouth, even in midsentence. Don't be embarassed, you're modeling good anger management."

Understand how emotions work: 

"Anger is a message that something isn't working in our lives, and it's also a biological state. When your body and emotions are in a fight-or-flight mode, your child always looks like the enemy. Take a breath and wait until you calm down before you make any decisions or take any actions."

Not only understand, but also accept your emotions, even without acting on them. Being angry isn't "bad." Feeling anger towards your kids does not make you a bad mother, it makes you human. 

Hit the reset button on your own story: 

Come to terms with your childhood. It may not have happened the way you wanted it to, or maybe it was one of abuse or neglect. Whatever the case, you couldn't change that then and can't change it now. "But what you can change is what you're taking with you from that childhood," writes Dr. Laura, "You do that by reflecting on it, feeling the painful feelings, but also considering new angles." 

It's hard and gut-wrenching, but so necessary to gather up your strength and face your childhood head on. What truths did you bring with you that are actually a lie? Know this: "You were just like any child: reaching out for love and attention in the only ways you knew."


We all have a harder time being the parent we want to be when we're stressed or under pressure. Markham encourages parents to develop a routine that helps you de-stress, and if necessary, involving the whole family. Go to yoga or an exercise class, take a walk alone or as a family, dance to music, do an art project, or work in the yard. It's crazy how fresh air helps everyone. 

Get support in working through old issues: 

This might mean seeking counseling, either professionally or from a trusted mentor or friend. From personal experience, I am a big fan of counseling! Talking to someone through your feelings and struggles is sometimes all you need. And sometimes, using someone as a sounding board shows you that you knew the right answer all along. 

Thoughts? Comments? Can you think of a way(s) that your child "pushes your buttons" and what emotional scar that might be bringing up in your own life?

*This is the second post in the Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids series. Start from the beginning here*

Friday, March 15, 2013

Local PDX: Pass It On Children's Consignment Event

Living in Portland with all our great resales has totally ruined me. I cringe every time I have to buy something new for the girls - there are so many great resales around here that I can go a few times a year and stock up on clothes, shoes, books and toys for a fraction of the cost of new. 

Today was my first visit to the Pass It On sale in Hillsboro and it is the biggest resale I've ever been to - and it's also the oldest and largest consignment event in Oregon, so it's organized and well-run. Rooms full of clothing, shoes, accessories, books, toys, baby carriers, strollers, and more were filled to the brim. I forgot what I was on the hunt for a just wandered around, trying to keep Afton from scrambling out of my arms (I forgot my ring sling!) while Ruthie was happy chilling on my back in the Boba. 

If you do go to a resale, take a list with you, because the place gets crowded and its easy to get distracted by all the things you want rather than finding the best deal for what you really need.

Honestly, I didn't really need anything because we just moved into a smaller house and the girls seem to have clothes and toys coming out the wazoo, even though we try to keep it all to a minimum. I did find a little collection of wooden farm animals and a collection of Winnie the Pooh pop up books!

Pass It On is running Friday 10 - 8 and Saturday and Sunday, 10 - 5. It's worth a drive out to Hillsboro to see what treasures you can find! Check out their website for more information and driving directions. 

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