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Parents, this post is your warning…

As parents our days can be long. Dreadfully long when the kids are young.

It’s not until we catch a glimpse of our teens, as toddlers in an old photo, that the passing of time stops us in our tracks.

In that moment we’re reminded that our children really are racing toward childhood’s finish line and they will soon cross over into adulthood.

Why are we speeding through life so fast that it takes a Facebook reminder from years past to bring us to the realization that our kids really are growing up right before our eyes?

As parents our days can be long, but the years are definitely short.

We wanted babies. We wanted a fun and connected family. But ever since our bundles of joy arrived, we’ve struggled to keep up with their daily demands. We race through life without even putting much thought into what we’re doing or why we’re even doing it in the first place.

We must slow down.

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In Arizona, photo radar cameras wait to catch speeding offenders in my neighborhood. There is a sign to warn us that the camera is ahead, but sometimes our distracted selves only pay attention after the flash goes off in our face and we’ve been caught racing through life again.

It’s only when we get caught that we realize we missed the warning sign and speeding toward our destination will now cost us.

Pretend that this blog post is that yellow warning sign for you. It’s a friendly reminder to slow the heck down because just ahead your child will be turning 18. He will soon head out the door into the real world and parenting as you know it will be over.

And just like I don’t want to see you get that speeding ticket in the mail, I don’t want you to get to your firstborn’s high school graduation and wonder how it all went so fast.

Everyday distractions keep us from focusing on what’s really important in our families. None of us want to get to the end of this full time parenting gig and say, I should’ve been more present. Or I should’ve made better choices and decisions to create moments with my child while I had the chance.

We only get one opportunity to cultivate a childhood, so we must slow down and make the most of the time we have left. Decide today to plan out what you want for your family this year and then the next and then the one after that. Don’t speed through life without an intentional destination or it may just cost you.

Parents our days are long, but they aren’t long enough.

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4 Ways to Create Meaningful Traditions in a Glass Jar

We read posts about various traditions created within a glass jar. We love the ideas, we’re motivated while reading about them, yet we never get around to actually accomplishing one ourselves.

The post about the Christmas jar tradition will start making it’s rounds around Facebook in December and we’ll be reminded that we had wanted to do that but didn’t. We need to see that post now and not when we’re supposed to actually be delivering the thing.

Let’s turn our intentions into action and start that meaningful glass jar tradition now.

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You are dying. Live like it.

What if you knew you were going to die this year. Would that change the way that you lived?

Would you make different choices and decisions in your family because you knew there was an end?

I stood in the high school gymnasium bleachers, chatting with a friend about our plans for the upcoming winter break. She said their family was booked to go on a cruise but that there was a basketball game scheduled now, so they didn’t think they were going to be able to go.

I asked her, “if you knew you were going to die soon would you go on the cruise?”

Yes. All day long yes.

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5 reasons Why Your Kids Should Write Thank You Notes

Do you allow your children to receive gifts without any expectation of writing thank you notes in return?

Is having your kids write thank you notes optional?

How do I know the practice of writing thank you notes is optional in a lot of homes today? Because I rarely receive them.

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The Power of $12

I consciously handed out Christmas cards last month to local friends to see how much I could save by forgoing stamps. It was a little experiment to bring awareness to my personal wasteful spending.

I handed out 26 cards throughout December, saving me just over $12. I purposely cut back to have some extra cash on hand for someone who may need it.

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Design A Belief Board instead of a Vision Board

Vision Boards are all the rage in the new year when people want to creatively visualize their dreams by cutting and pasting pictures and words to represent their goals in a visual collage.

Why not design a Belief Board instead?

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My One Word for 2017 is…

Here we are in the beginning of yet another year full of promise and hope. Have you noticed that you are already falling back into old habits? Have you chosen your One Word to guide you toward more meaning this new year?

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5 Ways to a More Meaningful Christmas Tree

O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree. How lovely are thy ornaments…

Every December we find ourselves wrapped up in holiday traditions. My favorite ritual of the holiday season is adorning our Christmas tree. I am fully aware that it has very little to do with our reason for the season in the birth of Jesus Christ, but I do love it’s presence nonetheless.

If the ornaments on your tree could talk, do they have stories to tell?’

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Is Your Kid Entitled to the Exit Row?

What’s the worst word someone could use to describe your child?

There are a slew of cringe worthy adjectives to choose from, but Entitled would be it for me. Spoiled brat 2016 style. I’m on a mission to parent against this ugly trait running rampant in this me, myself and I generation that we are raising.

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8 Things you Should Do for your Teen

My recent post about 8 things you should stop doing for your teens this school year went wild around the web. Parents are weighing in and while majority agree with integrating life skills into their kids lives, others have dubbed me uninvolved, lazy and say they feel sorry for my kids.

One reader said, so what do you do exactly, if you aren’t doing these things for your kids? So glad you asked….

1. Laugh and enjoy life with them

Don’t get caught up in the to do list of the day. Make connective time with your kids a priority because you can’t get one second of this back. The worst thing that can happen to us is that we have regret when our kids head out the door at 18 and we realize that we didn’t take enough time to enjoy their childhood. Seize the simple moments.

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Taking crazy family selfies after dinner on our vacation in Hawaii last week.

Purposefully prioritize time to laugh and fit in carefree fun with the kids no matter how old and cool they get. Take breaks and vacations when and where you can to reconnect with your loved ones.  Memories of time well spent together will sustain us when everyone dismantles in a few years.

2. Date their Desires

When you have teenagers, you have to be strategic to score one on one time with them. Not so long ago, I could plan anything out of the ordinary and my kids would be game. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Most ideas I come up with are met with a blank stare and a “not happening, Mom.” I must be in tune with my kids’ passions if I want to have a close relationship with them.

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Suns game with the sons!

My sons love anything sport so I take them to various college or pro baseball and basketball games each season. Or I take them to a new restaurant because food is always an easy way to a guy’s heart. With my other kids, I may choose hikes, movies, local concerts, plays or shopping excursions that feed their soul and in turn, fuel our relationship.

3.  Encourage them to advocate for themselves

Last year, a teacher forgot to input one of our son’s homework grades at the end of the quarter and it affected his final grade. The mistake had my son very upset. (He went from a high A to a low A, but to him, it was close to the end of the world.) He talked with the teacher and she apologized, but said there was nothing that could be done because grades had already been finalized. My son continued to talk his frustration out at home, so I advised him to go to the principal if he felt so strongly about it. We then talked about forgiveness and letting this mistake go, which is what he ended up doing.

What I wasn’t going to do was get involved with the teacher, even though I believed he was right. It’s hard not to write that email when our child has been wronged, isn’t it? It takes major self control to step back sometimes.  But my son needs opportunities to learn to work things out in his world without Mom swooping in for the rescue.

4. Gather for family meals

Our family dining table is a sacred space in our home. A lot of beautiful, and usually loud, bonding goes on around that table. I wrote that I no longer make weekday breakfasts or pack school lunches, but I cherish our dinnertime together.

Sharing regular meals as a family has been proven to be one of the most important things we can do in our homes. Connections are made during conversations over food. Typically, teens are spending less time with family and more time with peers, so family mealtime is an important time to be together.

5. Support their passions 

One of the most exciting aspects of being a mother is watching my kids choose their own unique paths. It intrigues me to see what makes them tick. I found myself as a volunteer judge at the high school speech and debate tournament that one son was competing in last weekend. How in the world did I end up there in my life?

I love finding myself in environments that I would never experience without my children. I’m on the sidelines of many games every weekend as well, because that’s what my others love to do. I don’t yell out or provoke them after a game, because my role is to simply support them. Their passions are not my passions and their interests are not mine. My kids know that I’ll be there when I can but that I’m not wrapped up in their performance.

6. Be the person you want your child to be

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Practice what you preach because your kids are watching you. How well are we living our own lives according to what we say is important to us? Model the values that you want to see in your kids because what they see you doing just may rub off.

I’m mindful that my children are watching me. They are seeing if what I say matters matches up with my actions and yours are doing the same!

7. Create opportunities to build empathy and compassion 

In this me, myself and I culture, it’s important that we create opportunities to serve others on a regular basis. Weave giving into your family culture so that serving others becomes who you are instead of what you do. If we want to raise kind and caring kids then we must put as much emphasis on caring for others as we do achieving good grades and winning games.

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Early Saturday morning serving with Kitchen on the Street with two of my kids!

8. Talk technology

Got kids with high tech devices that resemble a body part? Me too. We have to balance giving our teens the freedom to communicate with their peers while letting them know that we will check their phone anytime we feel it necessary. Follow your kids on whatever social media feeds they are using. Know their passwords so you can scroll through Instagram and see what their friends are posting on spam accounts. It is eye opening.  I always tell mine to remember that other parents are watching them as well. I agree with granting my child privacy, but never checking in is a mistake. We definitely grant our teens freedom and space, but they know that we care enough to check in as well.

What else should we be doing for our teens today?