20 Easy Summer Outings for Family-Fun!

The saying, ‘time flies when you’re having fun’, certainly seems to pertain to summer. Before you know it, it will be August. Days will become more rushed, while schedules will quickly fill up. The wonderful thing about summer break is that we have more freedom to choose what to do. So while we have this precious free time, let’s fill it up with memories, friends, and exploration.

There’s actually a lot of fun to be had in and around Knoxville. Swim teams and camps are already in full swing at this point. Vacations have been planned. Lessons have been scheduled. Teams have been formed. And while all these structured opportunities are wonderful, often preferred by some, there are also a lot of amazing, free opportunities for fun and exploration right in our back yard.

We should seize this season and schedule quality time with our children. Knoxville actually offers a lot in terms of family outings but most of us have had our share of the Zoo or Jump Jam. So, here is a list of inexpensive, free, or just simple things to do with your kids before life gets crazy again. Skip the chaos and keep things simple with:

·        Mead’s Quarry at Ijams Nature Center: You can rent paddleboards, canoes, take your own, or just go for a dip.

·        Ijams Nature Center: There’s some learning to do inside, special educational opportunities on their calendar, and lots of simple hikes, as well as movie nights. But, the sunflowers along the Forks of the River are out of this world!

·        Navitat at Ijams: This adventure ropes course does cost money but it’s a pretty setting to face your fear of heights. $

·        Frozen Head State park (Morgan county): Home of the Barkley Marathon, this is a great trail for hiking with dogs and kids while also getting a little wet by the series of small waterfalls.

·        Bald River Falls (Tellico): Take a day trip to Tellico Plains to eat in the adorable bakery and snap some amazing photos by the large falls. You can hike as little as you like because you basically drive right up and park at the falls (if you can get a parking spot!).

·        Big South Fork (Oneida): If you don’t mind a little drive (plan on 1.5 hours), there are wonderful camping and hiking options in this less crowded park. Check out the natural arches on the Twin Arches trail or a great view on Angel Falls overlook.

·        House Mountain: This is such great option if you don’t want to drive far and want a nice vista without investing a lot of time. The parking area gets full on the weekends, though.

·        Big Ridge State Park (Maynardville): This quiet park not too far away offers swimming and fishing in Norris Lake. There are 15 miles of peaceful hiking trails.

·        The downtown Farmer’s Market (Saturdays): It’s grown in popularity but it’s an easy Saturday morning to stroll with a fresh cup of coffee or homemade pastry.

·        WDVX Blue Plate Special: Monday-Fridays at 12, there are free concerts at the Knoxville Visitor’s Center on Gay Street. It’s a fun way to surprised by some free music!

·        Trolley ride: It’s free and fun just to ride the trolley around our growing downtown. When the kids are little, any moving vehicle is fun so jump on board!

·        Baker Creek Preserve: Grab your mountain bikes and helmets and check out this mountain biking course close by. Although some trails are not for beginners, there is a small loop for kids. And, you can always grab a bite at SoKno Taco afterwards!

·        Rainforest Adventure (Pigeon Forge) : If you are willing to brave the roads and want a day filled with animals but have used out your zoo pass, kids love this place. $

·        Sunsphere: It is free to tour the Sunsphere and kids think it’s pretty cool! While you’re there, make sure they have their bathing suits because the fountains on the lawn are a blast too.

·        Maple Lane Hall and the Phoenix Pharmacy: If you are willing to spend some money, an afternoon bowling downtown and authentic (delicious and expensive) ice cream treats are appreciated by all! $

·        Central Filling Station: This food park off Central Ave. is pretty hip. With a variety of food trucks and even adult beverages, it’s a pretty fun place to grab some grub if it’s not too hot. You can even bring your dogs! $

·        School of Rock concerts: School of Rock is a music studio in West Knoxville for kid rockers. Throughout the year, and especially during the summer, they offer lots of concerts that showcase their stars. It’s cute, cool, and impressive all at the same time!

·        Painting with a Twist: Sure, this is nothing new but did you know that you can make your own class? If you have a small group of family or friends, they will make a class for you. You choose the theme and people, and they’ll provide the paint. It’s a creative way to bond. I like the one downtown. $

·        Humane Society of Tennessee Valley (Bearden Hill): Until recently, I had no idea that you could get your fix of cuddling puppies even if you’re not adopting….just be prepared that you might fall in love.

·        River Rats (Townsend): When it gets just sweltering hot, floating down the creek on a tube is not the worst idea. With a group of friends, you can make a day of it! $

This summer, think outside the box! Grab a friend. And, try something new with your family. Vacations are great but ‘staycations’ can be too! Experiencing something new together makes for great memories, inside and outside of East Tennessee. And, we all get in a rut sometimes so I’m sharing some of my family’s favorites. Hope you venture out and experience something new this summer too.

 

 

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No, leave the hill.

couragebraintumor

March 17, 2018

For those of you who exercise, you know why you do. Yes, there are all sorts of health benefits. But, for me, the reason I run or do yoga is for my mind. My clearest moments of clarity are often while exercising. Movement plus sweat equals some peace for me.

By the time you’ll read this, the secret will be revealed. But like exercise, I write not for people to read, actually, but for myself. So, this secret has been known to Bo and I for months and months.

Yesterday’s run was no different. It was a crisp, sunny afternoon, and I am some extra energy to spend because I was so hyped up over discovering that Weigel’s was going to be a Presenting sponsor for our race ($5000!). A childhood friend, Meg Weigel, made that possible for us. And, one act like that and I’m wired so I needed a run on this sunny day.

While on the run, there are many hills in my neighborhood that I’m mostly used to. But, there is one that gets me every time because it’s short and steep. That’s when I had my moment of clarity. Something Brody said a couple days ago clearly came back to me, “No, leave the hill. It’s how I catch up and beat people.” He was talking about the horrible short, steep hill at Ijams at the very end of the Starry Night Knoxville race. That’s the only way back into the main area but it’s a really hard way to end the race so I’ve been trying to brainstorm an easier way. While sharing these thoughts, Brody was adamant that we leave it the way it is.

He’s won the race the past 2 years. First, he cheated! (not on purpose but because of crazy things that have happened to make them believe the turn-around was before it actually was). So, no he didn’t run a 5-minute mile like we first believed! And, there may have been other kids that would have beat him had he gone the whole distance. Who knows….But since it is a race in his honor, he does have a bit of an advantage with the adrenaline. And, he’s won!

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He said he hasn’t been ahead in the short race until the hill. The hill that people dread is his favorite part of the race because he catches people on the hill. *****moment of clarity**** This is just like his brain tumor diagnosis.

Brody is just an ordinary kid. And, the way we look at his brain tumor is that, while we would never choose this path, it’s made him extraordinary. Like the race, he’s normal and chugging along in life and then there’s the steep hill. It’s not long but it sucks. It’s steep. Most ordinary people would choose to skip it; that’s why I considered rerouting the race this year. But, not Brody. He actually likes the hill. Now, he doesn’t actually like having a brain tumor but it’s allowed him to really shine in situations that are challenging to say the least. Maybe, it’s even allowed him to come out ahead. Yes, that sounds crazy but I’m a cup half-full person.

We have to look at his diagnosis this way. I’ve even told him before that carving into his brain may have even made him smarter; she scooped out the bad stuff! The hills help him, unlike most. Why? Because he puts his head down, plows into it, and races ahead. He saves the best for last! That’s what he did before and we have all hopes that he can race up that hill again.

Friends, we are having another sharp hill. On Tuesday, May 15th, Brody will undergo another debulking brain surgery. It’s the same place and same surgery. After having months to digest this, I can type this without crying. We have known this would be coming, unfortunately. Would we choose it? No, and yes. We are choosing the date. We are choosing to stay here at ETCH again. We are choosing to look at this as another short, steep hill even though just like before, there are LOTS and LOTS of risks to this surgery….

But, we just focus on ‘winning’ or beating this brain tumor. We hope she can get it all this time. Although it feels like a race or battle for our whole family, this is really Brody’s race. All we can do is cheer him on. Believe he can sprint up that hill again. Believe in Dr. Savage. Believe that she can get the tumor and cyst in it’s entirety this time. Believe that again he will make a full recovery. Believe that Brody will be running the race in November.

SN40

And, by the way, the hill isn’t going anywhere! Brody is my race consultant and the reason Starry Night Knoxville is at Ijams! So whatever lies ahead, help us believe that he will keep racing ahead in life. It’s not an easy race, and it’s a steep climb. But, he’s an ordinary kid doing extraordinary things.

(The song below is one that was played at the end of fantastic yoga class led by a close friend. She played the song on the morning of the day we told the kids, April 14. The lyrics couldn’t be more perfect and aligned with our mindset on this next hurdle!)

His surgery is Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

Resiliency

There is one good reason that I choose to work with kids. I could tell you all the things that are challenging about my job, or all the reasons NOT to go into Education….but, the good things outweigh the bad at the end of the day. In short, kids are amazing.

Since 2003, I have been a public School Counselor. I’ve worked in very rural schools with a very homogeneous population (loved those country kids!). Then, in Knox county, I have worked with a very wide variety of children. From African American to Caucasian, from inner-city to affluent, from Chinese, African, and Middle Eastern, I have met all sorts of kids from all over of the world, and there is a common thread. Kids are resilient.

  • children in our very own city who are abandoned
  • children who have grown up in refugee camps
  • children who have parents who are drug addicts
  • children who have lost a parent
  • children who don’t have dinner on the table
  • children who don’t know their father
  • children who have 10+ siblings
  • and, children, like my own son, who are battling brain tumors

What do all of the above have in common? First, they are living with unfair and really hard situations! Second, they don’t have a choice and this is a hard daily reality. Third, they are children who wake up and face battles far greater than many adults…..and they can do it with a smile on their face.

That’s why I keep doing it. That’s why my job makes me a better person. That’s why my son makes me a stronger person. If a child can smile, show kindness, face the unimaginable and keep on, then the world is a better place because of it. When students can live in the moment without the worry of the future, they inspire.

As adults, I know we get tired. We get weak. We get scared….But, like children, we have to press on. Their pure hearts remind me that no matter the circumstances, we can and should be our best even when the circumstances aren’t the best!  We adults make excuses. We get down. We over think.

Children are examples of how to live. Full, real emotions (good and sad). Deeply in the moment. Caring about friends. Easily distracted. Ready to have fun. Playing, running, goofing off. That’s how to live. That’s how to love.

So, as tired as this old School Counselor is and as sad as their stories may seem, we should live more like children. Resiliency isn’t even a word they know….but they certainly live out. Children show us a thing or two about living.

Persevere.

Live childlike.

Inspire.

clowns.jpg

 

 

Spring cleaning 

Maybe it’s the Gemini in me. Maybe it’s the time of year when things are changing. Or, maybe it’s growing older and gainer more perspective but one life lesson that keeps resurfacing lately, as a parent, adult,  and School Counselor is that balance is crucial in leading a fulfilling life.

Image result for balanced scaleBoth personally and professionally, I see the effects of over and under-involvement from parents. We learn from our mistakes if we are paying attention. But, we can also learn from others. And in the wake of another tragic school shooting, my eyes are open to how we are failing our children.

It’s the age of extremes. Extreme opinions. Extreme politics. Extreme religions. Extreme views. Extreme gaming. Extreme extracurriculars. Extreme competition. Extreme testing. Extreme neglect. And, extreme parenting.

Every day as a School Counselor, I witness the effects of extremes from the list above.

  • Kids home alone a lot without anyone to help with homework
  • Children living with changing marriages, guardians, and new parental boy/girlfriends
  • Kids spending EXCESSIVE amounts of time gaming
  • Children viewing a plethora of adult material online
  • Families obsessing with being top-dog
  • Parents overreacting and overstepping into teacher territory; nit-picking 
  • Too many students living with anxiety, mental illness, and depression

Image result for stress in children

How do these all relate with so many various parenting topics? Many adults are failing to take a step back and review what’s best for their child’s development. It seems that many parents are loosing perspective on best practices and healthy habits while neglecting the most basic developmental needs like time for self-development, time to reboot, and time to care about others.

A lot of people are living in the age of selfishness. It’s all-about-me-world. Wanting to have people cater to me, being the best, and competing with others for grades, sports, and attention is a value in this country that is leading to self-destruction. Or, on the opposite spectrum, parents wanting what they want and not taking time to care for their kids, regardless of what their child needs, is equally destructive.

This rings true for the most neglected children and also the most overparented children. There are parents who really don’t want to be parents therefore, they go about their lives with their priorities coming first (instead of balancing the needs and wants of others). These are the children who are living with anxiety because they are forced to live in an adult world. It’s environmental stress. They know about the fight between mom and boyfriend last night. They don’t have anyone to read with them at night. They get off the bus and go into an empty apartment. They don’t sit down and eat dinner with a family. They often have an absent biological parent, or often an incarcerated parent. (But, they do have good clothes and shoes…priorites)

And then there are the parents who simply do not have any life outside of their children. No hobbies. Too much time on their hands to obsess about what their kids are doing. Too much attention is given to every little grade and performance. Their children often are successful and popular because they’re bred to be. But, these kids aren’t always happy or kind either. Kids who are overparented are often plagued with anxiety and performance-induced stress. This extreme parenting looks supportive on the surface while teachers complain behind their backs. Parents send their children to school but kind of want to be in charge of their curriculum and grades, truth-be-told. When the kid gets a B on the test, it’s catastrophic. The parent takes it personally because the child’s performance is their hobby.

Both parenting styles are unhealthy and unappreciated by educators. But, we are all guilty at times! When I write, I share these thoughts for ALL of us to pause and reflect. Self-awareness and perspective is a value that we are losing in their country because everyone is so busy! But,  balance and moderation are key to leading a satisfying life.   So, parents, it’s ok to….

  • worry some
  • relax, some
  • do your own thing some
  • Get excited about your kid’s grades, some
  • Allow some failure
  • Take some time to reevaluate your values

And for our children, moderation also helps develop healthy human beings:

  • Some technology is ok
  • Some downtime is good
  • Some family time is important
  • Some true friendships are crucial, while being popular is not
  • Some failures are normal
  • Some success should be celebrated
  • Some time should be spent thinking about and helping others

Moderation and balance is key. We have to keep perspective. The stress in this country is breeding a lack of awareness and healthy values in all types of families. We feel it in schools, one of the  most fundamental establishments in our culture.

So, this spring as you’re doing your spring cleaning, take a moment to declutter your lives along with your closets. Take a moment to reflect and evaluate if you’re living out your values. What can we eliminate and what can we add? Just like with chocolate or wine, a little bit isn’t going to kill ya (and may even be a little beneficial) ! It’s all about moderation. The habits we are teaching our kids will impact the adults they become. Be balanced. Be aware. And, have some fun too! Happy spring cleaning!

Image result for spring flowers

“That’s racism.”

This week’s topic in our ‘leadership’ classes was good citizenship. That’s an easy pillar of character to tie into the history of Martin Luther King Jr. We began by looking at simple examples of actions good citizens would or would not practice. If it’s an action good citizens would do, the children move the snowflake and positive action onto the winter tree. Examples include: loving animals and people, caring for the earth, and loves learning.  (Wouldn’t it be nice if most adults practiced good citizenship!?)

Then, we listened to Martin’s famous, ‘I have a dream’ speech. I gave a short explanation into segregation and the civil rights’ movement as an introduction. Let me tell you the perplexed looks on their little colorful faces! They were confused and also disturbed to hear that 55 years ago, they wouldn’t be sitting next to each other in class or attending the same school. They wouldn’t be sitting together on a bus. And, they wouldn’t be allowed to drink from the same water fountain. In fact, they wouldn’t have been allowed to play together or be friends. They were blown away! Unfathomable!

When I explained that some people used to believe that white people were better than any other people of another race, one little adorable, smart Middle Eastern boy said, “That is racism.” Yes, yes it is. Then, we looked around our melting-pot-of-a-class with around half of the students being caucasian and took a moment to shake hands or give a high-five to someone with a different shade of skin. This is the kind of world I want to live in. And, this is our little reality at Bearden Elementary School.

Even with leaders in this country who are racist and still living in the past, I have hope with the children I work with. When a colorful group of 6 years olds get it and are appalled to think or live otherwise,  I know there is hope in this country. I see these little ‘good citizens’ and know they are wiser than many adults because they aren’t  seeing the color of one’s skin.Today, we honor and celebrate you Dr. King. And, many little souls honor and get it too. Thank you.

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Watch your words, boy!

My children, 2 years apart, are always so encouraging, complimentary, and helpful towards each other. They don’t argue or fight. They point out the positive. They never get revenge. And, they truly enjoy each other’s company.

If I am describing your life, congratulations, but all of the above is a big, fat LIE! In fact, I’d have to say today is opposite day if I were to convince you of such non-sense! While it seems unfair to blame one child, in this case, it really is my eldest who does 90% of the instigating! And he’s played the ‘Anna’s-your-favorite’-card, I would have to agree to her behavior is usually my favorite. That’s fair.

Action-reaction.

Yes, many times she does react but it’s Brody’s put-downs that really must stop. So, last night at dinner when he gave yet another insult, I told him there’s a new deal around here. For every put-down, there must be a compliment. Humans mostly hear and remember negative comments anyway .I think you’re supposed to give 7 positive comments for every negative just to break even. (Brody has a deficient too!).  He has a lot of making to do!

Bo agreed that he was sick of it and upon hearing Brody’s sarcastic tone when he did say Anna ‘is good at soccer’ (she did smile by the way!), he added on. Now, not only does he have to give a compliment but he also has a chore to do. Now, that sure got his attention! He did one after dinner. And today, he’s done two.

It’s become such a habit that it’s a natural part of his vocabulary. And while it is normal, makes him feel a little better about himself, and it does toughen her up a little, it still gets old. And, it’s become more frequent than acceptable. So, “you’ve got rocks in your head” earned him vacuuming the hallway upstairs. Then, the “baby” got him another room! Many times, he’s not even mad so he’s tried  the ole’ “just kidding” card. (Oh no you don’t , with this School Counselor mom. Nice try!)

At this house, we believe in consequences. Consequences are what children need to learn. However, sadly, we are moving away from consequences in public schools. There is a push towards positive reinforcement and planned ignoring. We don’t want to suspend kids, much less send them ot the office. Punish at the last resort. And while I am the first to believe in relationship-building and mutual respect, the idea that we can teach children without consequnces doesn’t prepare them for the real world.

When teachers are expected to praise Johnny for keeping his clothes on, not biting, hitting or yelling every 5 minutes on his cute behavior chart, Johnny has learned to work the system. Johnny hasn’t learned that his actions impact others. Johnny doesn’t learn to think about others. Johnny hears a lot of false praise. And, Johnny doesn’t miraculously transform into an empathetic human. Johnny is a jerk, and Johnny needs to understand he’s being a jerk and get a consequence or reaction that matches his action.

Does this sound harsh? Maybe…but my job as a mother (and a School Counselor) is to help children grow into responsible, empathetic, kind human beings. We aren’t doing kids any favors when we deny the truth, when we avoid consequences.  That’s not how life works.

There is a reasonable middle-of-the-road. While I would never tell Anna to call Brody something mean back to make things even or tell the teacher to bite Johnny back, I do think that we help children (and adults for that matter) when there are consequences for actions. Call them punishments. Call them making-them-do-something-they-don’t-want-to-do! If punishments are reasonable and fair, then they work. Brody hates chores (who doesn’t?!) so giving extra chores on top of having him practice complimenting his sister is a WIN for all.

So while I do not agree with beating your kids or sending them to bed without supper, I do think reasonable consequences are healthy for all. I think working and chores are more than reasonable; they help everyone. It’s easy to get lazy. Take away their gaming system. Have them clean. Write an apology letter. Do something that takes times to think and reflect. Tough love it where it’s at, people!

How many chores do you think he’ll ‘earn’ tomorrow!?

 

Courage

Every day, we have a choice. We can be depressed about all the tragedies, disparities, and unfair circumstances that plague our world and, sometimes, even our own lives. Or, we can take unfortunate situations and use them to drive us. It’s easier said than done, yes. But, there are silver linings everywhere.

This fall, we were sitting at dinner and Brody defined “courage”. I think it was a dinner question. Or, maybe it was a sidenote of another brain tumor talk. Regardless, I loved his definition so much that I jotted it down and there it’s sat until I recently straightened up a little for Christmas decorating. Here it is:

courage

“Courage is the will and the wanting and the motivation to get through.”

Courage doesn’t always feel brave. Courage isn’t always obvious and loud. Courage pushes us on in the face of circumstances that we didn’t choose or that are less than ideal.

Today, I started to write all about the messy details of a sweet, little boy who asked to see me this week but his story is just too personal. Sometimes people, young and old, get more than their fair share of challenges. So, let me just summarize a few situations I heard about this week that would have caused a lot of adults to give up.

  • a boy goes home to domestic violence every day and has nowhere to hide in their one-bedroom apartment
  • a boy lives with his alcoholic mother during the week, while longing for the weekend when he’ll get to be with his best friend and the man who raised him, his Popaw
  • a girl comes to my small group and shares that this group makes her feel “happy” because now she feels like she’s not the only kid not living with her mother and father
  • a new child in Knoxville is diagnosed with a brain tumor and undergoes emergency surgery
  • my own son goes to his check-up at the hospital, a now routine MRI to check on his brain tumor

These are only a few tragedies, and I know there are far worse. And, sometimes it’s just sad. It’s easy to just sit with sadness. And, it would be easy to feel depressed when faced with any of the above. But, while it’s ok to feel sadness or anger , it’s not helpful to stay there and not push on.

I share just a few of these ‘sad’ situations not to be depressing , but because children are inspiring. Kids can accept hard truths and press on in the face of adversary. Children can take challenges and ‘get through’ because as Brody articulately put it, it’s “the will and the wanting and the motivation to get through”. 

Whatever is ailing you this week, this time of year, or this moment, have courage. Be child-like and live in the moment instead of the future or the past. Push forward. Someone is facing way worse. And, celebrate the silver linings in your life.

 

Chistmas Wish List

As you all know, I am a local elementary School Counselor in Knox County.  Most of you know that I work in two very diverse, little schools. One of my schools is a low-income school with many needs. Fortunately, many of the student needs are met at school because we are a Community School. In fact, we were the first Community School in Knox County. This means that many, almost one-third of our students, may stay after school until after dinner for free.

Students participate in clubs, meet with Big Sisters, have special programs and visitors, get to participate in activities like circus (walking on stilts, doing acrobatics, and cool tricks) and tennis for the first time. Then, they eat a warm meal before their parents pick them up. Parents can eat dinner with them, as well as take advantage of many life-skills opportunities like resume-building workshops and English class. The University is heavily involved and brings a lot to this program. So, it’s a great wonderful, life-changing program.

Without these opportunities, these pivotal years may look a little different for many of these students who have limited transportation and resources outside of school. Many of our students are ‘disadvantaged’ or ‘at-risk’. Many live in single-parent homes. Many have an incarcerated parent. Many depend on the free lunches and breakfast to provide 2 meals for their child. Many families take home free, supplemental food on the weekend. It’s not unusual for a DCS worker to come check in on a student. And, we have many community agencies and churches donate shoes, coats, backpacks, and necessary basic items to our children.

But, what does all of this have to do with Christmas? Well, like the need mentioned above, the school is also helping with Christmas. So, in early November, I checked my box at school. There was a Christmas application that our neediest families received to ask for Christmas help. Local community groups such as churches have committed to helping serve these families at Christmas time. Like many schools, we have our own Angel tree at school. On this simple form, parents select 2 needs and 2 wants. Then, shoppers will choose one of these wants and one of these needs. One family returned the form immediately. As I picked up the simple application, I read this:

2 needs:      backpack /   jacket

2 wants:      a Christmas sweater /   shoes

It’s moments like this, when I see such simple wants and true needs, that I realize that Christmas is meant to be simple. My friends reading this live a privileged lifestyle. We may not feel like we do, but stop and think about your children’s Christmas wishes. Are they wants or needs? Will they be asking for a backpack for Christmas? Is a new Christmas sweater going to blow their mind? We are so blessed but all should remember the true meaning of the season. Count your blessings and rejoice. Simple gifts are everywhere.

Siblings

In my daughter’s eyes, there is no boy on earth that is as funny and as cool as her brother. As far off as that may be, in her mind, he’s the king. Nothing makes her happier than for the rare moments that he gives her attention. When he says, “let’s play dawg”, which is code for wrestling, she’s pumped. If he elbows in her in her eye, like last night, she is quick to forgive and wants to go again tonight!

Every night she says, “I love you, Brody. Good night” before bed. If she’s lucky, he will say I love you too, but that’s not common either. He rarely compliments her but is quick to put her down. Most days lately, he’s just plain mean! Yet, she still worships him. And, deep down, he loves her too. Life just wouldn’t be the same without their bickering, tattling, and put-downs! And, that’s ok because there are moments like these:

thankful

I didn’t see this paper until this slacker-mom checked her backpack Sunday night. Inside, I found this treasure. Two and a half years later, it still makes me do a double-take when reading these words.

“I am also thankful for my brother to live because he had a brain tumor and we were very thankful that he’s alive. “

(Amen, sister! Isn’t that the truth!?) This is our truth, and we are ok with this truth. In fact, we are thankful with this truth. As a parent and a counselor, I want my children to stay positive, show gratitude, and be mindful. Are they always? No way. But, moments like these make me recognize that we are teaching them to rejoice in the triumphs instead of wallow in what’s history.

When Brody read this tonight, he didn’t say a word but his face lit up. He immediately asked her to go play ‘dawg’ (code- I think you’re pretty cool!).

The last sentence that runs onto the back of the page is the simple summary:

There is so many things that I am thankful for.

Yes, yes indeed.

 

 

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