Weekly Photo Challenge: Oops!

This week’s photo challenge is Oops! 

‘Tis the season to revel in photographic (and/or photogenic) disasters.

I have an assortment of photos that will satisfy this challenge. Please forgive my indulgence, but I’m going to share a few. I had a hard time deciding which ones to include. I have plenty of blurry ones, but I like these the best.

I probably pleaded with him to smile for the camera. Bad mommy!

Oops3

Every half-second my kids must move, and the closer they are in proximity to each other, the less likely they will be still for the camera. Didn’t quite get this one.

Oops5

That’s not quite it either!

Oops6

Here are a few blurry ones, but I think they’re pretty interesting. I love that face and the kids in the whirling background.
Oops8

Last but not least, I have no idea what this is…but I like it!

Oops7

To see other photos of Oops, visit the Weekly Photo Challenge site.

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A Communication Tip for the Holidays and Beyond: “Me Time”

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Have you ever been in a conversation where you were so busy formulating a response that you missed what the other person said altogether? Sometimes I think life happens this way; life as a conversation where we are only half-way committed, half-way listening. Many times we are so fixated on predicting what happens next that we miss out on the actual moment as it happens. We miss what was said. We miss the moment. We miss the whole point.

I had an opportunity to attend a communication skills workshop sponsored by my son’s school called, “Communicating with Family Members During the Holidays” and how to have less stress and more cooperation. I can use all the help I can get, so I went. And I was pleasantly surprised.

First, the facilitator had us play a game. A volunteer told a story about a happy event in her life. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the volunteer, half of the room was told to ignore her. All I had to do was whip out my smartphone and become consumed. I didn’t listen to a word she said. I got wrapped up in my Internet world and tuned her out. It was really easy to do.

Her point? We, as adults, ignore our kids sometimes. How does it feel when someone is talking to you and, while you very well may be listening, are staring at your smartphone? Sure, you don’t mean to do it. But there it is! That smartphone is attached to your hand and you can’t seem to get rid of it. It’s like a leech, sucking the juices out of your brain. I know, because I do it.

Then, the facilitator introduced “Me Time.” The idea is very simple. You give your child your undivided attention for a scheduled time of 10 to 15 minutes. That’s not a lot of time, right? Anyone can do that.

“Me Time” is based on principles of play therapy, which may be more widely practiced with younger children. This session of “Me Time” could even be called “Mommy and Johnny Time,” for example, or whatever makes sense for your child. My 12-year-old son has called it, “The Dreaded Time with Mom.” So, whatever works. Really, it can work for anyone at any age, including your resistant teenager.

There are few parameters for a successful session of “Me Time.” They are as follows:

  1. Schedule the 10-15 minute period of “Me Time.” I know it’s only 10-15 minutes, but if it’s scheduled it may feel more special and purposeful.
  2. Your child chooses the activity. Got that one? Your child chooses! And you must do it no matter what! If your child wants you to hop around on one foot and blow bubbles, then that’s what you must do. If your child wants to watch TV, that’s what you do. If your kid wants to play on his smartphone and ignore you, that’s your activity.
  3. Considering #2, you may suggest that the chosen activity not break any family rules (like no balls in the house).
  4. There’s no need to spend money. The activity is for such a short period, there’s really no need. Still, if you to make certain the focus is away from money, you may want to state this up front.
  5. As the parent, you cannot correct or direct the activity. Also important, you cannot ask, “Why?” Your child may view this as judging.
  6. You can’t play unless you’re asked. Don’t assume your child necessarily wants you to be involved. This idea coincides with the idea of play therapy where the child may need time to work something out. This is best done without any interference. You are merely an observer if this happens.

Discuss these parameters openly before you engage in “Me Time.” There’s no need for secrets. Truly, I think this idea could work for any relationship, even spouses or significant others. Why not? I have yet to try that, but I did try this idea with my kids.

This is what happened with my 9-year-old. First we cuddled in his blanket cave and made funny faces at each other. Then, he did a series of musical numbers where he got up to sing and dance. I clapped and cheered. He was hilarious and clearly wanted to show off his dance moves. I had no idea. This is not something he does that often and, clearly, he wanted an audience.

When it came to my 12-year-old, he said, “I thought you were kidding. Really?” First, he wanted me to wait outside his room. His little joke. Come to find out, he needed help with his homework, so that’s what we did. To make up for that, we watched a few “Dear Diary” cat videos. Those are always a good laugh!

But the biggest eye-opener? It was so relaxing to surrender my time voluntarily to someone else. To not be in charge or direct. To just listen. To be completely present. It felt so refreshing and helped me refocus my energy on my kids when it goes astray as, of course, it happens even with the best intentions. I highly recommend you give it a shot, especially during the busy holiday season when you feel short of time and stressed. I bet the more often you share this experience with your kids, the more insightful it will become and maybe, just maybe, communication will improve all around.

Time, that thing we’re always chasing or running out of. Why not carve out a little space for the important people in your life and share the gift of time spent together?

photo credit: Merry Christmas! via photopin (license)

Aside

To all the mothers of the world, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day!

I Will Always Be Your Mom

We toil, we worry, mothers do
Our bodies bleed and stretch
Our hearts and minds grow
and love pours out

Soft bellies for a weary head
Breasts warm pillows soothe
We listen to your  heartbeat
light and quick

We sing a song or three or four
An angel in our midst
We watch your sleeping breath
rise and fall

We wipe tears and noses
Little bottoms, too
Reach for your hand
even as you push away

Moments blur and vanish
There is much to recall
But the treasured ones,
come back like fluttered heartbeats

We celebrate your joys
Listen to your fears
We watch you grow too fast
and hope we did it right

When you drift, brave and steady
We hold you closer still
Our love fierce and strong,
I will always be your mom

I Will Always Be Your Mom

The Battle of the Button Hats – Friday Fictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT – © Erin Leary

Genre: Fantasy/Humor (100 words)

The Battle of the Button Hats

Around the bend, the boy spied them, curled up under a sweeping foliage of dank earth, their button hats perched loosely upon elephant trunks as tall as trees.

What’s this? Clumps of logs amassed in heaps, proportionate in numbers and in size, clustered beneath the button hats, emitting an odor so rank, their dewiness has been compromised. The smell infiltrated his nostrils, a stench he had not endured since his voyage to the Mermian Sea.

They must be destroyed.

“Honey, it’s poop,” the mother held back the boy, fanning the air. “Take your shoes off at the door. It’s everywhere. ”

**********************

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the Fictioneers. I appreciate her dedication each and every week. Thanks to Erin Leary for this week’s photo.

All are welcome to participate in this challenge to write a 100-word story based on the photo prompt. Please visit Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple blog for instructions.

Click here for more stories from the Fictioneers.

Monday Lunch Madness

You know the scenario. It’s a whole string of events that bring you to this ever so delicate impasse: the realization that you do not have all the essentials to make your child’s school lunch.

And it’s all your fault.

If you don’t have a child, I imagine this could apply to you, solely, on any day, Monday or otherwise.

I was terribly busy all weekend and that grocery store visit evaded me. Yes, it did. All by itself! It’s amazing how this occurs. I drive by the grocery store and I’m lead to believe that it can be postponed. Whatever urgency I feel on any given day is re-adjusted to meet the more immediate need, like getting a smoothie. C’mon, you only live once. At least in this lifetime.

So, I’m making my child’s lunch and I realize I am out of the most critical essential: sandwich bags.

I’m lost without sandwich bags…

Sandwich bags
The sandwich bag box is dark and empty.

The sandwich-sized bags are gone. All that is left is the box of snack-sized bags. If you’ve used them before, you know that they are practically worthless. Worthless. I mean who invented these things? Is this supposed to be a joke? That bag isn’t remotely big enough for any necessary snack. I suppose it could hold a loose tooth or a coin.

You either buy these thinking they might possibly be a good idea, use a few and then have gads of them left, or you buy them by mistake, which is what happened to me.

I try with all my might to fit this item into the snack bag and this happens:

December 2014 282
You know you’re a blogger when, in the middle of a crisis, you document it.

Is your brain wondering why I don’t have this lunch-packing convenience?

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A little too perfect if you ask me. Will the lids and containers really be together forever?

Just hold on a red-hot minute. In case you’re dreaming I should have one of these items, I don’t. I planned on buying one of these once, but didn’t get around to that either.

Instead, I must search through my darkened cupboards, pre-coffee I might add, and try to piece random plastics together. They’re close, but these two are not officially a couple.

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Close, but not quite.

I hope my son won’t mind the pink lid. And, an apple has never been so perfect. No bag required:

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An apple a day, but my son probably won’t eat it.

Finally, the sweet treat. The only option is animal cookies from our Costco purchase made six months ago. Maybe I can finally get rid of these:

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It’s like a permanent fixture like the coffee maker or toaster oven. Please, someone eat these!

Since I cannot make any further lid-container connections, I must resort to the paper napkin. It’s kind of Hobbit-esque, don’t you think? My son can pretend it’s a leather satchel with a little healthy visualization:

Leathersatche
I see a leather pouch with gold tassels.

The biggest challenge is scrunching it all into his lunchbox. I am almost positive he won’t notice the smashed sandwich that will undoubtedly fall out of its container.

As for a beverage, it’s called a water fountain.

Lunch success!

Tell me, do you have the perfect lunch-box organizer? Do you save your plastic bags? Have you had lunch?

photo credit: Sassy On the Go Feeding Set via photopin (license)

Confetti Cake and My Inefficient Blogging Habits

Nothing says impromptu like buying fluffy socks at the grocery store. It just puts me in the mood to buy sandwich bags, milk, etc.

I can't resist, especially the  adorable ribbon.
I can’t resist. I’m ready for winter.

Oh. Are you waiting for meaningful content? Well, how about this?…

This is my 200th blog post!!!!

I just threw my own surprise party there. Did you see how I did that? Exclamation marks abound and…confetti cake all over my computer. Are you as excited as I am?

Or, are you a closet inefficient blogger looking for hope and useful information?

Is it a coincidence that my 200th blog post is about inefficient blogging habits?

The truth is I like to make full use of my time. And don’t you? While standing in line at the grocery store, I am most likely reading one of your blog posts on my smart phone. With the power of electromagnetic forces, I am your faithful reader no matter where I am. Fancy that.

While in line at the store, I may even finish reading your post and most likely have enough time to log in and appear in the “Like” line on your blog. If the grocery line is extra long, I may even go the distance and attempt a comment.

With my head just bursting with thoughts I want to share, I type my comment with my pixie fingers small as pins. Because whenever I start typing on my phone, my fingers magically become a mere 2 centimeters wide. After I correct it…and make sure it’s coherent, I put a period on it and then this happens…

Purchase Interruptus…

The clerk expects payment for groceries. But don’t you see I’m in the middle of reading a blog post. The nerve.

Sitting in my car, I try to complete the thought that is still circling my brain. I retype the comment, only to read this on my phone:

ERROR (blah blah blah…it’s too little to read)

ERROR? But it made sense. It was decent. It was, was… You broke the rules. You were not logged in properly. You lose! You stole Fizzy Lifting Drinks….but, but…I never laid eyes on an everlasting gobstobber…and my ice cream is melting.

Back home in my kitchen, multi-tasking, putting away groceries and blog reading, I return a text message.

I attempt to write:

I am capable and my comment is worthwhile.

This is autocorrected into:

Ivan Cupcake and my comet if Wiki.

Who the hell is Ivan Cupcake? Cupcake? Do I have cupcakes?

Do I have a sweet tooth while I’m writing this?

I just love the colors.
I just love the colors.

Now in my fluffy socks and lounging comfortably, both panels of email and WordPress open and waiting…I am hit with a mass of posts. I read like a hungry bear, snaking on your posts, ready for more, more, more….my brain overstuffed with comments to be divulged, shared.

But then this happens:

Cat Interruptus…

Yes, I'm talking to you, kitty. Why don't you go drag in a bloody bird instead?
Yes, I’m talking to you, kitty. Why don’t you go drag in a bloody bird instead?

Or,

Child Interruptus

I don’t care what that fox says.

“Mom, do you want to watch it again with me?”

“Um, okay.”

It won’t kill me I guess…or it might…

The fox says nothing, okay. (credit: http://www.mommyshorts.com)

So now you know why I may like your post and reply with a comment hours later. You have learned that I’m a little scattered. Sometimes, I can only read in small doses, but witness my dedication.

On another note, if I missed your post and you’d like me to read it, show me the way. Tell me in the comments or email me (thebumblefiles at gmail dot com).

Thanks for sticking with me, stopping by, commenting, all of it. It means so much to me. Thank you!

In the Words of a Child (June 2013)

This weekend we had temperatures breaking all the records. It was as hot as 111 degrees today. When I walked outside, I felt like I was cooking. At a time like this, it’s even too hot to eat. Kids, it looks like we’re having popsicles for dinner.

It’s been some time since I wrote about my sons (H and S) and what they’ve been saying these days. I thought you would enjoy their words today. I wanted to write these words down before they got lost.

From my ten-year-old:

When I get to college, I’m going to take an English class so I can move to England. (11/24/12)

Me: Why don’t you get up and do it?
H: Because I’m busy relaxing.
(1/13)

It’s easier to live with guests.
(How he refers to “roommates.” I’m sure this will change; 3/22/13)

The teacher had a creepy smile and treated us like kindergarteners. She’d say, “What will we do next?”
(The teacher was a substitute. I thought it was pretty funny, but you might have had to have been there; 5/23/13)

I’m just going to wait until middle school to find the girl of my dreams. Then there will be more options. (He just completed fourth grade. Yikes, it’s time for the talk; 5/30/12)

From my seven-year-old:

I’ll you give three words why I don’t want to go visit Grandma: Skylanders. That’s Sky-lan-ders. (Words, syllables…close enough; 11/24/12)

Me: Is your tummy full?
S: Yeah, except for my thirst tank. (1/13)

And now, a little joke:
Q: What happens when a tide comes over your brain?
A. You get brainwashed.
(“Tide” as in Tide, the laundry detergent. Aw, good one! 4/3/13)

My tooth came out with a swallow. (4/5/13)

My son drank a whole bottle of water in 10 minutes. Actually in less than 10 minutes. Are you going to put that on your blog? I think you should put that on your blog. I think you should write that.
(Yes, he said this whole thing. All right already. Done!; 5/20/13)

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.