On Lying and Grace

Black and white portrait of a 9 year old boy.

“You know the best thing about a rough day, buddy?” I said to him as he laid down next to me for our nightly snuggle chat. “They end. And tomorrow we get to wake up to a beautiful sunrise and start over again.”

How did we get here? The day started like every other day in the Solar house. Jenny sleeping in a bit. I’m up working on breakfast and prepping for the day. The kids wake up groggy from our late nights of playing with this gorgeous weather, and I struggle to get keep them focused on the simple tasks of getting dressed, eating breakfast and putting their shoes on. We manage, though, Jenny comes in and makes 3 healthy lunches and I dropped them off at school like any other day, and as they hopped out of the car, I shouted, like I always do, “Remember to be kind and seek awesomeness today!”

Normal day stuff happens.

Flash forward to 3:45 and Lia comes running out of school smiling, arms wide open waiting for me to pick her up and twirl her, like I do every single day. Ava comes out and yells, “Try and catch me, daddy!” and I chase her around the grass until I finally catch her. Then Max comes out, looking really bummed. “The first half of today was bad, but then it got better after lunch,” he said.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Well, at PE today, we were playing ball, and I tagged a kid out at home, and he stuck his middle finger up at me and yelled F@*$ you at me. So we had to go to the principal’s office. After that, we promised to be nice to each other and then the rest of the day was good.”

Cut to playing basketball out front. I overhear Max saying F@*$ you to no one in particular, and, having never heard my son say that phrase out loud before I was kind of shocked. I’ve said those words maybe 10 times his entire 9 years of existence, and I know it’s just cussing, but it’s not a nice phrase. I’ve tried and tried to teach them we should spend our energy on positivity. From our thoughts, to our actions, and our words. If we focus on adding positive energy into the world, we’re doing our part to make the world a better place. Now I’m getting way off topic.

“Max, did I hear you say what I think you said?” No response. “Max, answer me, did you say what I think you said?” No response. One more time I asked, “Max did you just say the f word?”

“No,” he replied.

It’s one thing to cuss, but it’s a whole other thing to lie. I know he said it. I heard him. Lying, I will not tolerate, ever.

“Max, I get it, you’ve had a rough day. You heard a kid say this to you, and you repeated it. You know better than to talk like that, but you said it, you feel bad, you apologize and move on.” At this point, he has tears streaming down his face because he feels bad. I know he feels bad. My boy is a sensitive dude, and I love him to pieces for it.

We’re inside an hour later and just finishing up dinner. I’m doing the dishes and as I unpack Max’s lunchbox, I see an empty Smarties wrapper in his lunchbox. Now, kids eat candy, but Max has been sick for 15 months now, fighting sinus infection after sinus infection with a horrible cough. He’s been on a very strict whole foods diet with no sugars, and he’s never cheated before. So I asked him, “Max, why is there an empty Smarties wrapper in your lunchbox? Did you eat Smarties?”

“No,” he replied. And with that he had lied to me again.

Jump to our nightly snuggle chat. “You know the best thing about a rough day, buddy? They end. And tomorrow we get to wake up to a beautiful sunrise and start over again. Max, I get it. You’re 9 years old. You’re just figuring out this crazy life, and you mess up. I’m not perfect, either. I mess up plenty. In fact, way back in the day, when mommy and I were first dating, I lied to her a lot. And let me tell you, nothing good ever comes from a lie. Ever. We all do things we regret, but here’s the thing. We can’t change the past. We can’t change what we did, and we can’t dwell on our mistakes either. Just like mommy forgave me and trusts me, I forgive you, and trust you. Do you know the best part about this whole situation, though?”

“God still loves me?” he asked.

“Yes, God will always love you, even though you’ll make plenty of mistakes in your life, God will always love you. And, just like, God, I will, too. That’s the beauty of grace. We make mistakes, we move on and learn and grow and do better next time.”

And, with that, his rough day had came to an end…

I’m scared, friends. My kids are growing up, and I want them to know they are good, no matter what. There’s goodness in their hearts, and it’s always there. They’re so innocent and creative and care free. People say they can’t stay that way forever, that they have to grow up. And, to an extent, that’s true, they do need to grow up, but I want them to know…

They are loved…
They are enough…
They are good…
Their dreams matter.

The Portrait Project {Week 116}

Our Weekly Portrait Project. Something I started over two years ago and have decided to continue on until the kids graduate high school…

I wanted to encourage other parents to join in with their own portrait projects, and here’s how. At the bottom of this post is a spot to link up your own personal portrait projects. There are no rules at all, if you want to do one portrait a month, cool, share it below when you share yours, if you want to do weekly like I do, that’s awesome. When you share your personal portrait projects on your own blogs, just come back here and pop in your link. Each Sunday I’ll have a new link up created. I think it’ll be fun and inspiring for all of us to check out each others portrait projects in the weeks to come.

If you choose to link up, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for participating. Documenting your family is important. Like, super important.

Portrait of a 9 year old boy.Girl playing at Science City.Girl with a homemade easter bunny mask.

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On Balance

I’ve been fascinated with the idea of balance ever sine I was a kid. I would try to walk across just about anything without falling off… including the fence at my grandma’s house. As I’ve gotten older, obviously my idea of balance has expanded tremendously. These days, I spend a lot of time trying to attain that elusive work/life balance thing that so many people talk about. Heck, I’ve even talked about it!

But I’m realizing more and more lately that in order for me to achieve balance, I’m going to have to redefine what it means to me. Because right now, well… balance in my mind means:

I ran the laundry AND put it away.

I went grocery shopping, made a meal plan, AND actually cooked dinner every night.

I made a healthy breakfast for the kids AND for myself.

I went to the gym AND cleaned my house AND wrote a blog post AND answered emails AND worked on my Kickstarter campaign AND had a girls night AND remembered to send snacks to kindergarten AND filed my taxes on time AND spent time with my husband AND played with my kids AND…

Well, you get the point. And I know that life isn’t supposed to be easy all the time and I certainly know that I’m not the only one that has an incredible amount of responsibility. We all do. That’s the problem. We keep adding more and more to our plates and we keep believing in this idea of perfection. I know I’m guilty of that. I’m an incredibly motivated person and I know that I can do just about anything I put my mind to.

But the truth is, even though I know I can do anything… I can’t do everything. I just can’t. So I’m making a commitment to change my definition of balance. Because my sanity depends on it… and because I think it’s high time we all join together in being more realistic about what’s possible. And because it’s just easier to know that everyone struggles with balance and it’s okay and we’re not alone. Right? So here’s my new definition of balance:

I ran the laundry. It won’t always get put away before it gets wrinkled… isn’t that why they invented the wrinkle cycle on the dryer? Hangers are overrated anyway.

I went grocery shopping, I made a meal plan, and I heated up Paleo Meals four times this week. It’s a home cooked meal even though I didn’t do the cooking. That’s a win.

I made a healthy breakfast for the kids… and two eggs for myself. Eggs are better than not eating until lunch!

I went to the gym once this week, but hey I went. I avoided email all week, didn’t blog last week but scraped together a post this week, forgot to send snacks to kindergarten three days in a row but remembered on the fourth day, and filed my taxes ON TIME! I worked night and day on my Kickstarter campaign and ignored everyone I know… but it’s a three day weekend and we’ll have lots of family time.

And that’s okay. Because balance is no longer about doing it all, all the time. It’s about not caring that my house is a mess because I’m doing important work. It’s about working thirty hours in two days so I can get important work done… and then spending the whole weekend with my family. Balance is not about perfection anymore. It’s about doing what I can and not stressing out or feeling guilty about the things that have to wait. Especially if it’s laundry!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on balance… especially how you’re trying to redefine it for yourself! Leave me a comment below.working on work life balance

Five Simple Steps for Choosing Your Kids over Your Phone

five simple steps for choosing your kids over your phone

I still remember the moment we decided to cancel our Sprint contracts and buy iPhones. It was one of those random moments when I mentioned to Josh that if he was willing to sell his massive CD collection, we could probably score enough cash to pay our termination fees of $400.

He leaped at the chance, boxed up his beloved CD’s, and drove straight to Vintage Stock. Two hours later, he returned home victorious… with a check for well over $800! His ridiculous music collection paid the termination fees AND bought our shiny new iPhone 3GS’s.

Fast forward four and a half years and I’m ashamed to say that I’m addicted to my iPhone. It is WAY cooler than I ever imagined. I do SO many things on my iPhone, including tracking my sleep patterns, tracking my weight, checking the weather, catching up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest… and not paying attention to my kids.

I know. It’s crazy, right? There are times that I get so caught up playing around on my phone that my kids have to shout my name four times before I hear them. And the craziest thing is, I know I’m not the only one. So, I decided it was high time to make a real change. I knew it had to be simple. So, here are my five simple steps to putting down your phone and getting your life back.

  1. Make a commitment to put the phone down and make it public. Tell your friends and family that you’ll no longer be available every minute of every day. Post it on Facebook that you’re going to play with your kids instead of your phone. People love to get on board for a cause. Tell your kids that you’re going to choose them instead of the phone. I guarantee they will help keep you accountable!
  2. Turn off notifications. Turn off the notifications for every app on your phone, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Paypal, and anything else that makes noise anytime someone sends you a virtual high five.
  3. Quit thinking that you’ll just ‘check email really quick’. We all know that once you get on the phone, you’re probably going to check email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and then start reading a news story on NPR. If you must stay connected, schedule planned ‘connected times’ when you have downtime from parenting.
  4. Set up custom ringtones and text tones. Every time my phone rings, I run through the house to see who’s calling. Once I set up custom tones for the people I care about most, it made a huge difference. I suddenly knew how important the call or text was based on the sound.
  5. Put the phone away somewhere out of sight. That old saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ really works. We created our very own Phone Monster to help with this! Anytime we are hanging out with the kids, Ned “eats” our phones. This removes the temptation to pick up the phone for “just a minute” because it’s so handy. Want to get your own Phone Monster?! We’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign in May, so head over to the website and sign up for our email list to be notified when that happens.

Ned the Phone Monster put down your phone pick up your lifePlease note: This is an old post that I updated and recycled because I think the content is still relevant:)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] fabulous mommas! We created iPhone monsters, inspired by The Happy Family Movement‘s post: Five Simple Steps for Choosing Your Kids Over Your Phone. Checkout some pictures from today’s [...]

  2. [...] enjoyed our petite cakes with a game of skip-bo today, then nancy (ned’s wife) got hungry and i was unable to document the remainder of our dayshe’s sneaky like [...]

  3. [...] social media sites about putting down the iPhone and being a more present parent.  Thanks to this blog for the inspiration for our “iPhone fish.”  We’re trying to fatten him up by [...]

  4. […] help you and your kiddos make the most of your time unplugged.1. Have your kiddos create a “Ned the iPhone Monster.” Feed Ned!2. Read “The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers […]

  5. […] Here are five simple steps for choosing your kids over your phone. And a tutorial for making Ned the iPhone […]

The Portrait Project {Week 115}

Our Weekly Portrait Project. Something I started over two years ago and have decided to continue on until the kids graduate high school…

I wanted to encourage other parents to join in with their own portrait projects, and here’s how. At the bottom of this post is a spot to link up your own personal portrait projects. There are no rules at all, if you want to do one portrait a month, cool, share it below when you share yours, if you want to do weekly like I do, that’s awesome. When you share your personal portrait projects on your own blogs, just come back here and pop in your link. Each Sunday I’ll have a new link up created. I think it’ll be fun and inspiring for all of us to check out each others portrait projects in the weeks to come.

If you choose to link up, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for participating. Documenting your family is important. Like, super important.

Tired boy.Girl ready to longboard.Girl with veggie juice mustache.

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