Screen Time Guilt

My three-year-old had his annual check-up a few months ago and they handed me a form to fill out about his development.  I knew they would have a question about his amount of screen time and I knew I did not want to answer it honestly.  The question was specifically worded like this, “Do you limit screen time for your child?”  My husband was next to me, as I was filling out the form.  He said, “Nope.”  I said, “Yes, I do.”  Granted, I don’t limit it as much as I should, but if I have to hear twenty billion times a day, “Can I watch TV?” then that means I have taken some measures to limit it.  Of course, we still got “the speech” about too much screen time from our pediatrician, since I fessed up that it was more than 2 hours a day.  I get it.  I really do.  Too much screen time is bad for our children (and ourselves), but I’m tired of the screen time guilt I feel every time I say ‘yes’ to the TV or iPad.  Frankly, I’m tired of the guilt that I feel for every shortcoming I have as a mother.

Here’s the deal.  I’m working on my 50 Fabulous Summer Bucket List Items along with the twenty additional ones I have that are location specific, and we are flying through them.  We’ve been to a rodeo, had a water balloon fight with some 30+ kids, gone on several picnics, gone camping, visited a fish hatchery, attempted letter-boxing (couldn’t find it), gone on a surrey ride as a family, had a lemonade stand and a garage sale, hosted a talent show with friends, drawn sidewalk chalk drawings, played board games, gone to our local outdoor swim facility, eaten snow cones, taken a trip to a local lake, played at a water splash pad, been working on our library’s reading program, gone to the $1 movies at Regal Cinemas (saw Annie, which was really quite enjoyable), gone swimming at a friend’s pool, built an indoor fort, and my daughters are in the middle of writing and illustrating their own stories, among other things.  Yet still, they probably average 4-5 hours of screen time everyday.  Depending on when they wake up, they sometimes get two hours of TV time before I’ve even rolled out of bed.  It’s terrible, I get that.  But I feel like a Cruise Entertainment Director and sometimes I just need my kids to sit and chill and not fight.  So, why must I feel the screen time guilt every time that happens?

Screen Time Guilt

Is there an escape from said guilt?  Because I imagine even if I just let them veg out with a screen for only two hours, I would still feel guilt for those two hours.  I feel guilt every time that I am not 100% engaged with my children.  I’m really good at this whole guilt thing, apparently.  I get that I am going to miss these days.  Actually, my eldest is already old enough that I do miss those days when she was a baby and it was just her, and she was my shopping partner and listening ear when I talked to myself in the stores about the products I planned on buying.  I already miss her chubby little hands that looked like they had been screwed on her arms since she had a huge crease between the two.  I already miss how she would say “Hokey Pokey” instead of Pinocchio.  You see, I get that time flies.  It’s racing faster than I can process.  But sometimes, time drags.  It drags on those days when I just don’t feel well, when my husband works long hours for days on end, or when my children bicker endlessly.  And on those days, which is most days at least one point in the day, screen time sounds lovely.

All that being said, I do turn off the TV and make my kids go fight about what to play with each other.  Even worse, I make them clean up their messes.  Their messes that obviously prove they are not having screen time all day or else the messes wouldn’t be there in the first place, right?  My house is too much of a disaster from children’s items for my kids lives to be entirely dedicated to screens.  Is it odd that the mess gives me a bit of relief as it is an indicator that my children still know how to imagine and create?  Or the paper scraps?  Oh my heavens!  The paper scraps around my house.  I’m convinced there is a forest missing somewhere due to my girls alone, and yet the screen time guilt remains.  You see it doesn’t seem to matter how much I do to keep my kids busy or what they do to keep themselves busy, at the end of the day, I just seem to focus on the hours of screen time they should not have had.

The real reason that screen time guilt hits me, is because I know they’re missing out on stuff, just like I’m missing out on stuff when I spend hours checking (and re checking) social media.  I get that we have less time to engage with one another when I so quickly say ‘yes’ to screen time.  One Sunday, a couple of weeks ago, I was frustrated as I looked around and noticed that every family member, aside from my baby, was on a screen.  That’s not the type of life I want to live either, y’know?  I made everybody get off their screens and talk to each other.  I realize that I don’t do that enough.  And that is where the guilt comes from.

So, dear readers, help me out.  How do I rid myself of screen time guilt for the times that we all just want to veg?  And how do I better moderate the screen time use so that we don’t miss living life to the fullest?  Before I open myself up to judgment, please consider that my baby still takes two naps a day and my three-year-old cannot engage with someone else without screaming at the top of his lungs at some point, whether it be in frustration or happiness.  He is loud.  So, half the time the TV is on as a tool to keep him quiet and the baby sleeping.

My daughter’s annual check-up was just last week and I had to answer the same question.  This time, I told the pediatrician, “She is on a screen more than she should be and less than she wants to be.”  That answer didn’t suffice the doctor either.  I was given “the speech” again.  At the next check-up, I want to answer the question with more honesty and less guilt.  Can I have both without removing all screens from our home?

Feeling Uniquely Wonderful

As it states in my About Me section, “I receive daily opportunities to debunk my irrational thoughts and live to the measure of my full potential.”  This past Sunday was one of those days, when I noticed a trait in a friend that I wanted to work on in my life.  She is a woman I know through church.  Joy is written in her countenance and it’s amplified through her energetic smile and engaging eyes.  When speaking with her, it’s clear I have her full attention.  Not only do I have her full attention, but she appears genuinely interested in what I have to say.  Even more than that, she showers me in compliments when it seems there is nothing compliment-able about me.  In short, she makes me feel like I’m the coolest person in the world every single time I talk to her.  I admit, it’s pretty good on the ego.  Here’s the catch though, if I were to ask someone else if this friend left them feeling uniquely wonderful as well, they would all answer yes.  So, does this mean that she is not sincere?  The sincerity of such a friend, has always left me in question.  If someone makes everyone feel like they’re the coolest person ever, who really is the coolest person ever?  I think I finally found the answer to my internal debate this past Sunday, when I came home from church feeling uniquely wonderful.

Before I share my answer, I think it’s important to give some background information so that you know that I truly have struggled with this for years.  It all started with my Grandpa.  Every time that I arrived in my grandparents’ home, I would give both my Nana and Grandpa a hug.  And every time I hugged my Grandpa, I would ask him how he was.  And every time I asked him, he would always respond, “I’m better now.”  Every time.  I immediately felt like I had made my Grandpa’s day.  He was better because I was there.  It took years before I realized that he said that to everyone that went up and hugged him and asked how he was.  Everybody made him better.

But, how could that be?  Wasn’t I the best?  That’s probably the real issue in this debate, is that I somehow need to know where I land in the ranks of someone’s love and devotion.  Somewhere along the way, I came to believe that if I was not the best, then I wasn’t really enough at all.  Woah.  There’s a personal realization that I wasn’t expecting to stumble across while writing this post.  I digress.

So, my Grandpa was the first person I noticed that has this ability, and my church friend is the most recent.  But there are others that I have crossed paths with that have this knack.  I’m sure you can think of such a person in your own life.  They’re the type of person that makes everyone they come across feel perfectly okay being exactly who they are.  They celebrate you every time they are around you so that you walk away feeling uniquely wonderful.

Perfectly Okay

As I’ve come in contact with more of these people, I’ve decided that they are completely sincere.  My Grandpa really does feel better with each embrace he receives from a loved one.  My friend genuinely enjoys when I teach a class at church.  Other friends with this gift, really do find me enjoyable to be around.  They don’t say these things just to say them.  They see the positive in people.  They recognize the joy that others feel when they know they’re loved and appreciated.  They, in turn, feel joy knowing they have brightened another’s day by expressing their uplifting remarks.

As often is the case, I have discovered something about myself through the exercise of writing a post.  Where I was originally planning to share how I would like to become better at uplifting others, as these type of people do, I now want to remove this subconscious thought process of ranking myself in other’s eyes.  For instance, let’s say that someone tells me that I’m a good cook (keep your laughter to a minimum, please) and I hear that same person tell another person that they’re a good cook.  Can we not both be good cooks?  What is it about me that needs to know what level of “good cook” I am versus the other person?  Oy vey.  I’m flashing back to my post Stop Comparing and Reclaim Joy where I referenced Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  This need to compare and rank truly is the thief of joy.  It’s caused me to take the kind remarks from a friend and question their sincerity and my worth.  How sad is that?

Well, it seems as though I’ve got a bit of debunking to do, if I want to rid myself of this ridiculous need to rank my level of awesomeness in the eyes of each person I meet.  If I do slip up and get this insatiable urge to rank myself, perhaps I’ll have enough wisdom to recognize that I am #1 to one spectacular husband and four incredible children!  It really is no wonder I struggle with insecurity when I’m subconsciously filing myself in a particular category for each person that I know.  Oh man.  Why do I feel like I’ve opened a can of worms with this realization?

#1 in their eyes!
#1 in their eyes!

Before I freak out anymore, let me answer the question I originally posed, “If someone makes everyone feel like they’re the coolest person ever, who really is the coolest person ever?”  My answer: All of us.  All of us have the right to be around people who leave us feeling uniquely wonderful.  And my heart’s desire is to make sure I am better about leaving people feeling just that way.  I’m certain that the more I accept the compliments given to me as being sincere and the more I strive to show my love and appreciation for others, the better suited I will be to live to the measure of my full potential.

50 Fabulous Summer Bucket List Items

For many, Memorial Day Weekend is the kick-off for Summer.  School does not get out until mid-June for my kiddos, but that’s not stopping us from getting a head start on some summer fun!  This weekend, we’re going on our first camping trip as a family.  So, I’m sure you can expect a camping related post in the near future.  In the meantime, I am so excited to share with you my 50 Fabulous Summer Bucket List Items to do with your kids!

2015 Summer Bucket List

My personal summer bucket list includes the following 50 items along with 20 more items that are specific to the region where I live.  I highly suggest that you take this list and add some of your favorite things to do locally.  Most of these were on my list last year, but I’ve added some new ones and removed the ones that were a bust.  This will be my third Summer using a bucket list and I can’t wait!  My Summers have never been better, since I let a bucket list guide my way.  My love of completing lists keeps me motivated to carry out all these items, and makes it a fantastic Summer for all of us!

  1. Find and Follow a YouTube Tutorial – The possibilities are endless.  I recently just used a YouTube tutorial to create a low-budget Cleopatra costume for my daughter’s Wax Museum Project at school.
  2. Take a Full Moon Walk (6/2, 7/1, 7/31, 8/29)
  3. Do a Day of Service – Last year we spent the morning serving at a church event, then we took cookies to a Fire Station, and homemade cards to a local Retirement Home.  We did this with some friends, which made it that much more fun.
  4. Celebrate a “National” Holiday – National Ice-Cream Day is on Sunday, July 19th, this year.  If you’d prefer National Watermelon Day, you can celebrate on Monday, August 3rd.  Don’t let me hold you back though, celebrate as many as you want by looking through Foodimentary’s National Food Holidays.
  5. Do Letter Boxing – What a fun activity this was to do last year!  I had never done it before.  We did it as a family with my BFF, who was visiting from Southern California.  If you’re not familiar with it, it’s like going on a treasure hunt.  I feel like the Letterboxing websitemay be able to describe it better than I can.  We completed two locations.  Not only was it fun to follow the clues to the Letterbox, but it was also nice to see the beautiful sites along the way!

    Letter Boxing
  6. Attend a County Fair
  7. Participate in a Reading Program – Last year we did the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program.  Your local library likely has one available as well.
  8. Have a Water Balloon Fight
  9. Go on a Picnic
  10. Make a Popsicle Stick Puzzle

    Popsicle Stick Puzzle
    Popsicle Stick Puzzle
  11. Have a Family/Friends Game Night – I may have cheated and had our friends play Pictionary with us (#45 on this list) last Summer, so I could kill two birds with one stone.
  12. Host a Minute to Win It Night – My best suggestion is to hit up Pinterest to decide which games you want to do for this one.  We did a few different ones that involved plastic cups so that we could get the most out of the supplies we had available.  We also did two activities that used a tissue box.  One activity was to see who could empty a tissue box faster removing the tissues one-by-one.  Once we had an empty tissue box, we used it for the Junk in the Trunk game.  Some of my most hilarious video footage from the Summer was from this night with friends.
  13. Go Camping
  14. Go on a Bike Ride
  15. Wash the Car
  16. Stargaze
  17. Help in the Yard
  18. Have a Lemonade Stand
  19. Play Glow Stick Horseshoes – We played glow stick horseshoes while we waited for the fireworks to start last Fourth of July.  As I noted last year, I found this cool activity posted by one of Design Dazzle‘s contributors, Jamie from C.R.A.F.T., titled Summer Camp: Glow In The Dark Ring Toss
  20. Do Sidewalk Chalk Drawings
  21. Write and Illustrate a Story
  22. Host a Talent Show – Hands down my favorite Summer Bucket List Item.  I have done this for the past two years.  Every family that participates has to have at least one child and one adult perform in the talent show.  We use my friend’s sound system, and families bring their chairs, some treats to share, and their talent.  We hold it in our backyard and it is such a fun night!  You can learn more about this activity by checking out my post The Power of a Bucket List, which also includes my first Summer Bucket List.
  23. Complete a Jigsaw Puzzle
  24. Get a Manicure and Pedicure
  25. Visit the Coast
  26. Read a Book, Then Watch the Movie – As mentioned in last year’s Free Printable Ultimate Summer Bucket List post,  Andrea’s Notebook is perfect to make your search easier for the right book-movie.  We did Nim’s Island last year, which my kids love.  I’m thinking we’ll do Charlotte’s Web this year.
  27. Build an Indoor Fort
  28. Play a Board Game
  29. Make Play Dough – I have not done this before.  I’m going to try out a no-cook Play Dough recipe I found on Laughing Kids Learn.  This recipe calls for glycerin, which is also found in the Mega Bubbles recipe (#36 on this list).  I had no idea where I could buy glycerin last year.  I ended up finding it at Walmart in the First Aid aisle.
  30. Sleep Wherever You Want Night – A friend of mine does this in her home sometimes.  The kids get to pick where they sleep that night.  Sometimes her kids have chosen to sleep in the closet or in an empty bathtub (ouch).  Kids just love to try something different.
  31. Pick a Craft to Make and Make It! – I am not crafty, so I was happy that my Mother-in-law took this item on with my girls.  They made charms out of clay.  She purchased the kit at Barnes and Noble, but I found the same Make Clay Charms byKlutz for cheaper on Amazon.

    Clay Charms
    Clay Charms
  32. Eat a Snow Cone
  33. Have a BBQ with Friends
  34. Watch Fireworks on July 4th
  35. Attend a Farmer’s Market or Festival
  36. Play with Mega-Bubbles – This one was a blast!  An important thing to note is that the mixture needs to sit for at least one hour before use.  I didn’t see that until after the kids were already geared up to start making bubbles right away.  Take that time into consideration.  Also, the more bubbles you make, the easier the mixture gets to use.  Last year, I used a Homemade Giant Bubble Recipe I found on the website Happy Hooligans.

    Mega Bubbles
    Mega Bubbles
  37. Read a Book in the Shade of a Tree
  38. Play Balloon Ping Pong – All you need are spoons, a balloon, and a table.

    Balloon Ping Pong
    Balloon Ping Pong
  39. Make a Backyard Obstacle Course – MyBFF and I set up this course for my girls to do, but we took our own turn at it.  We each  did the course one at a time and timed each other to see who could get through it the fastest.

    Backyard Obstacle Course
    Backyard Obstacle Course
  40. Go on a Scavenger Hunt – My favorite scavenger hunt to do is one where you have each letter of the alphabet with a blank line following it.  This makes it a little more flexible, plus it helps the younger ones work on the letters of the alphabet.  For instance, we had spent a couple of days with a scavenger hunt list and we had yet to find something that started with an “O.”  We went to watch a movie and during the movie one of my kids spotted an octopus, which gave us our “O” item.  I thought this was a fun way to integrate our activities.  Last year, we did the same type of scavenger hunt on a road trip to help the drive go smoother.
  41. Do a Science Experiment – Last year, I did a couple of science experiments that didn’t prove as exciting as I had hoped.  We did the paper towel/food coloring/water experiment, but it took too long for my kids attention span.  I plan to pull from BuzzFeed’s 24 Kids’ Science Experiments That Adults Can Enjoy, Too for this year’s experiment.

    Science Experiment
    Science Experiment
  42. Write & Mail a Letter to Someone
  43. Play Hide and Go Seek
  44. Go on a Date with Daddy
  45. Play Charades or Pictionary – Pictionary seems to be a crowd favorite at any age.  The best part is that all you need is a Game Word Generator, a large paper pad, and a pen.
  46. Have a “Late-Over” Night – I’m a “No Sleepover Type Mom.”  This is the alternative that I give my kids.  All the fun of a sleepover, but the other kids head home around 10 PM.
  47. Have a Tea Party – I have a friend who has four daughters.  It’s an absolute blast to co-host this one with her every Summer.
  48. Play at a Water Splash Pad
  49. Go to $1 Movie at Regal Cinemas – The 2015 Summer Movie Express includes nine weeks of kids movies offered for $1/person.
  50. Kids Cook Dinner Night

There you have it, Folks!  Please feel free to download the free printable version list of my 50 Fabulous Summer Bucket List Items.  Preparing this post has me pumped up for this coming Summer.  It was fun to remember all the activities we’ve done since I started this tradition two Summers ago.  I can’t wait to see what the Summer of 2015 has in store for us!

Our Parents’ Children

I was reading a book called Defending Jacob by William Landay for book club last month and I came across this line that read, “At some point as adults we cease to be our parents’ children and we become our children’s parents instead.”  I wrote it down because I know that it rings true in my life.  However, this past weekend, on Mother’s Day, I realized how much I still wanted to be “our parents’ children.”

Our Childrens' Parents

This Mother’s Day was particularly rough for some reason.  I did my best to hold it together.  A couple tears were shed here and there in the morning.  Then, we went on a little walk as a family with my dad and step-mom in the afternoon.  It was then, as I was hugging my dad goodbye, that I lost it.  I didn’t want to let my daddy go.  It was Mother’s Day and I wanted to be on the kid end of the day.  I wanted to celebrate Mother’s Day as a daughter.  Thankfully, I was able to hang on to my dad for a bit and cry while my husband took the kids and got them in the car.

Prior to losing my mother, I believed that the pain and emptiness of losing a loved one was due solely to their being gone.  I’ve learned that you also end up mourning the role you played in the relationship.  I am no longer a daughter to a mom, but fortunately, I still get to be a daughter to a dad.  I had never given it much thought until I stumbled upon a book that dealt with grieving.  Sadly, I have no recollection of the title or author.  What I do remember is that both of the author’s parents had passed away.  She spoke to the fact that she was no longer someone’s daughter.  I remember standing in the middle of the book store and thinking, “Thank goodness I still get to be a daughter to my dad.”  I’m not ready to stop being a parents’ child.

Being a daughter means different things in different families.  I played a large role in my mom’s life, as she had not remarried and we had always been particularly close. I did my best to be there for her whenever she needed me.  I made her my priority.  I don’t say this to boast, but just to express how much my role as a daughter to my mom made up my identity as a whole.  Though my relationship with my dad is a strong and healthy one, he remarried after my parents’ divorce and my role as his daughter is less involved.  So, while I am still a daughter to my dad, I continue to struggle with understanding the missing piece of me that was devoted to my role as a daughter to my mom.

But, as the quote says, “At some point…we cease to be our parents’ children and we become our children’s parents instead.”  That’s certainly the case for me.  My role as daughter, whether to my mom or my dad, has taken backseat to my role as parent.  It’s a demanding role, that doesn’t leave much room for lack of responsibility and vulnerability.  As a mom, I am called upon to be the strong one when my kids face trials or heartbreak.  I am the one that is meant to offer comfort.  I am the one that is supposed to have my act together.  While I am grateful for my role as a mom, I have not lost my desire to be a daughter still.

Sometimes, I just want to be the kid.  This past Mother’s Day was one of those days.  I wanted to have my dad hug me, tell me he loves me, and assure me that it’s gonna be alright.  And he did, as he has done several times in my life.

Our role as a child or a parent is a huge part of our identity.  I think my reason for sharing this topic today has more to do with me processing that concept than it is me trying to provide some sort of inspiration.  As I mentioned, in losing my mom, I was misled in thinking that my pain came only from the loss of her.  When she passed away, I also lost a part of me.  Acknowledging that fact and allowing me to mourn that loss, helps me to heal.  Thankfully, I still get to be a daughter to my Dad. It’s not just that I still have my Dad around, though that’s a blessing as well, but that I still get to be “our parents’ children.”  I can still cry into the shoulder of a parent who has known me all of my life and has watched me grow through all of my trials.  I hope that I can be for my kids, what my parents have been for me.  As true has Landay’s quote feels, I think I’ve decided I don’t want to cease being “our parents’ children;” I want to be both!  I suppose it’s a good thing that I believe in eternal families, as it provides me the opportunity to be both the child and the parent without end.

Everything Happens for a Reason

It’s so cliché, “everything happens for a reason,” isn’t it?  But if the saying is a source of comfort and greater understanding, is there such a thing as overuse of the phrase?  As I continue to reflect on Mom Season and other events that have brought our family to this point, I continually take comfort in my belief that, inconsequential things aside, everything happens for a reason.  Of course, at the time, we don’t always recognize or understand the reasoning behind certain events.

Everything Happens for a Reason

This was the case with an event that took place three years ago this month.  It was Memorial Day Weekend and we still lived in Southern California.  My husband had already left for his swing shift at the hospital.  My cousin was having a BBQ and swim party at his home.  I decided to bring the kids to the party on my own.  I let the girls swim with family, while Auggie and I sat poolside.  It was time for us to go home so I went in the bathroom to help my daughter get out of her swimsuit.  I wanted to wash my hands before helping her, so I reached out for the soap and my left arm went limp.  It came down like a ton of bricks and knocked the soap over into the sink.  Before I could even process what had happened, my left leg went limp and I leaned into the sink to hold myself up.  I remember being inside my head saying, “Call for help!  Scream!  Why can’t you talk?!”  No sooner had panic sunk in when all of my strength returned and I was able to talk and move about as if nothing had happened.  Still shaken up from the strange event, I left my daughter in the bathroom to let my aunt know what had happened.  I asked her to check on me if I didn’t come out in a normal amount of time.  I still felt fuzzy headed and disoriented, but I seemed to have all of my facilities about me so I pressed forward.

Not knowing what to do and having no witnesses, except for my unaware daughter, I tried contacting my husband to get his insight.  No answer.  I shared my event with a couple of family members, as I was concerned about driving home.  However, seeing that I was now fine, it was presumed that the heat had gotten to me.  Having lost my strength in my left arm, I had immediately thought that I was either having a heart attack or a stroke.  My heart felt fine, so I crossed that off of my list.  If it was a stroke, it wasn’t what I had understood of them then.  So, I got in my car and drove my three kids home and asked my eldest, who was only 6 at the time, to help keep an eye on me.  What she could have done to save us while driving on the freeway should another episode occur, I knew not, but somehow I needed her eyes on me as back-up.

As soon as we were home, I did the bedtime routine and sat on the couch and did what any sane person would do – hit the Internet.  I went down the Wikipedia rabbit hole in relation to TIA‘s (mini-strokes) that night.  I also happened to remember about how my physician had told me that I should take a baby aspirin due to a blood disease I was born with called Spherocytosis.  The blood disease is noted by the red blood cells being in a spherical shape versus a disc shaped, thus increasing the chance for stroke due to clotting (though Wikipedia is not stating this, multiple physicians have discussed this connection with me).  Somewhere in the middle of the rabbit hole, my husband finally had a chance to call me back.  His first response was, “It sounds like a TIA.”  He then asked some of the Emergency Department (ED) Physicians their thoughts and they all said the same.  I then  realized two things: I should have gone to the ED immediately and I should have been taking that baby aspirin for years.

A round-about diagnosis isn’t iron clad, so I thought I would head to a specialist.  I’ll skip through this part a bit faster, as I don’t mean to draw this story out.  An MRI  was ordered.  It came back clear.  An Ultrasound was ordered for my heart.  It also came back clear.  One final test, per the Neurologist’s orders – an EEG.  As soon as the electrodes were taken off my head and the tester let me walk out the door, I assumed I was fine or else she wouldn’t have allowed me to drive myself home.  A few days later I got the call straight from the physician.  We all know that when the call comes from the physician it is not good news.  So, as I sat poolside again, plugging one ear with my finger and trying to hear the physician through the phone in my other, all I heard was “non-epileptic seizure.”  What the freak was that supposed to mean?!

Oh heavens, I’ve gone and done it again.  Too many details.  Let’s just get to the part that pisses me off, whaddya say?  Based on this lame-I-don’t-even-know-what-that-means diagnosis, my driver’s license got revoked.  That’s right, folks!  Because the physician deemed it seizure related, he notified the DMV that I should have my driver’s license taken away from me.  It still enrages me.  So, I got a second opinion, obviously.  The new physician calls BS on the first diagnosis and signs off on the paperwork for me to get my license back.  The second opinion was that I had a stress-induced episode or severe migraine that resulted in weaknesses.  Also, a pretty lame diagnosis, but it got me my license back.  Plus, by that time, there was no way to prove I had experienced a TIA, though all signs seemed to point in that direction.

The description of this event took me five lengthy paragraphs to convey, but I feel that it accurately captures how the episode disrupted my life for several months.  It was a scary and frustrating process to work through.  But, everything happens for a reason, right?

That same Memorial Day Weekend, my Dad and Step Mom were up visiting Central Oregon to scout it out and see if it was where they wanted to retire.  My husband and I had toyed around with the idea of leaving Southern California, but it never seemed to feel right.  I specifically remember, while driving home from my cousin’s house, thinking, “I can’t do this anymore.”  Whether it was heat stroke, a TIA, a seizure, or whatever, it felt scarier dealing with it alongside the stress I was already feeling in my daily life with the pressures of living in Southern California.  I desperately wanted Central Oregon to be the answer for my parents, so it could also be the answer for our nuclear family.  It turns out that it was.  That episode, whatever it was, was one more confirmation for me that it was time for us to leave Southern California.  As much as I miss my family, friends, Disneyland, the beach, and sporting events down in Southern California, our move to Central Oregon was one of the best decisions my husband and I have ever made.

So, that puts a little purpose behind the actual episode itself, but what about the misdiagnosis? Why call the episode a seizure when the symptoms were the opposite from the way a seizure behaves?  It’s safe to say, based on my very real Stroke of Luck, that the episode three years ago was in fact a TIA.  Had I been taking my baby aspirin, perhaps it would not have happened.  The full stroke that I had recently was believed to be postpartum related, which I have learned is quite common.  The baby aspirin can only take on so much.  Due to my stroke, my current Neurologist has now diagnosed that first episode as a TIA. per the knowledge we now have with more EEGs, MRIs, and CT Scans having been performed.

With the proper diagnosis of my 2012 episode in mind, I recently sat on the couch befuddled about why we had to go through that whole drawn out process.  I told my husband how annoyed I was with that first doctor, his misdiagnosis and the actions he took to revoke my driver’s license.  He simply responded, “He was a blessing to us.”  I sat there trying to come up with any possible reason as to how this physician, who was generally annoying to begin with, could have been a blessing to us.  My husband, obviously seeing my confusion, added, “If he had diagnosed you with a TIA, we would have never had Hans.  We would have known the risk of a postpartum stroke and stopped having kids.”  His words hit me so hard that I immediately thanked my Heavenly Father for His tender mercies in our lives and took comfort in knowing that everything happens for a reason.


We don’t always see it at the time, but there is a bigger picture with greater purpose in our lives.  I cannot imagine our family without Hans in it.  He completed us.  Yes, the period of postpartum after Hans did result in a stroke, but even that happened for a reason.  That stroke happened for reasons already known and reasons yet understood.  I am truly humbled by my husband’s insight and how it has strengthened my faith.  And this is just one experience of many.  I look back at events that seemed to have no greater meaning than heartbreak and pain, but that is not the case.  I have a testimony that everything happens for a reason.  That reason is that we have a loving Heavenly Father who knows each of us, knows our needs, and knows our potential.  These things happen for a reason, because He wants to give us every opportunity to succeed.  He wants this for everyone, believers and non-believers alike.  I know that if we are pure in heart, He will provide a way for us to return to Him and everything leading up to that moment will have happened for a reason.

Mom Season

There are holiday seasons and seasons of the year, but starting April 20 of each year a different sort of “season” begins for me.  I have yet to give it an official name.  It lasts roughly three weeks.  This “season” was not even in existence prior to 2008.  The catalyst for this “season,” let’s call it Mom Season for lack of a better name, was April 20, 2008 – the day my mom passed away.

Now, why would Mom Season begin as soon as my mom passed?  Well, for one reason, I had to carry on as a mom without a mom.  Two days after my mom’s passing, I still had to put on a smiling face to celebrate my eldest daughter’s second birthday even though my heart had broken in ways I could never have understood previously.  Three days after my daughter’s birthday, I attended my mother’s funeral where I lead the procession of men carrying my mom’s casket and gave a talk about my mom.  Two weeks and a day after the funeral, I went to the hospital for preterm labor for the fifth time during that pregnancy.  This fifth time left me stuck in the hospital for 4 days on bed rest.  In that four days time, when I wasn’t completely doped up on magnesium, I spent several hours lying their alone aching over the loss of my mom.  Then two weeks and three days after the passing of my mom, our second daughter was born 6 weeks early and taken off to the NICU before I even had a chance to hold her.  I remember sitting there alone after delivering her, my husband and daughter off in the NICU, and wanting so badly to call my mom and tell her the news of her granddaughter’s arrival.  Of course, my mom knew the news already.  Two days after her birth, I had to be discharged from the hospital leaving my daughter in the NICU.  This day also happened to be, what should have been, my mom’s 56th birthday.  Two days following my discharge from the hospital was Mother’s Day.  It was my very first Mother’s Day without my mom and I spent it with my time split between holding our premature daughter in the NICU and snuggling with my two-year-old daughter at home.  Mother’s Day marks the end of Mom Season for me.

I thought it would just be that year where the whole three week period would be an emotional roller coaster.  I didn’t expect to feel such contrasting emotions around the first year anniversary nor every other anniversary since.  It wasn’t that I didn’t expect to remember each of these significant dates, I guess I just thought I would be better at separating them.  It’s just tough.  It’s this period of time where I get to focus on the blessing of two beautiful daughters being born into our family, but I also can’t ignore the emptiness I still feel over the loss of my mom.  Why her death date, her birth date, and Mother’s Day all have to fall so close, I’m not sure I understand.  A part of me has felt that maybe it was a tender mercy from Heavenly Father to have such tough times juxtaposed next to two joyous occasions.  A tangible reminder of the circle of life?  A purpose for moving forward when my life, as I knew it at the time, seemed so bleak?  I try to look at it that way, but it’s hard not to feel like the wounds have been reopened when I face these dates at the same time commercials and e-mails advertise how I should “Get Mom Something Special This Year.”

This post has no real message, it is more a cathartic exercise to help me sort out the difficult feelings I face each year during Mom Season.  Today, being April 21, I sit between mourning my mom’s loss all over again and celebrating the beautiful daughter that I, with my husband, have the privilege of raising.  When it comes to the loss of my mom, I rarely spend too much time thinking about the “could have been” moments in life, as those thoughts tend to beget more sorrow in me.  Rather, I think of the “one day” moments.  One day, I will be back with my mom.  One day, I will feel her embrace again.  One day, she and I will replay the countless inside jokes we had together.  One day, I will dance with her again.  One day, I will watch her interact with her grandchildren and watch her face fill up with joy as she revels at how incredibly beautiful and funny they are to be around.  One day, I will hear her laughter again and I will laugh too, because that’s the affect that her laughter had on all those who knew her  One day, I will talk with her about all the things I’ve learned as a mom that I never understood as a child.  One day, Mom Season will not be something I have to process.  One day, it will just be an eternal life where I can live with my mom and as a mom simultaneously.

One day…

Mom Season

Who Do I Want to Be?

Recently, I listened to a talk given by a religious leader, Dale G. Renlund, which spoke about our ability to try to be something more than what we are now, persevering in our efforts to do so, and being patient with others who are striving to do the same.  The essence of the talk was that our focus should be more about who we are now and what we are becoming rather than what we once were.  In his talk, Renlund quoted a line from As You Like It by William Shakespeare.  In the scene, the eldest brother, Oliver, is being questioned as to whether or not he plotted to kill his younger brother, Orlando.  He responds to the inquiry with, “‘Twas I, but ’tis not I.  I do not shame to tell you what I was, since my conversion so sweetly tasted, being the thing I am.”  In modern terms, Oliver is expressing that he did plot to kill Orlando and he has no shame in confessing it, as he knows he has since been converted from his evil ways.  As I listened to the line from Shakespeare, I kept repeating the words in my mind, “‘Twas I, but ’tis not I,” and then I asked myself, “who am I now and who am I no longer?”  I’m thinking now, though, that the best question to ask would be, “who do I want to be?”

So many different thoughts race to my mind when I ask myself, “who do I want to be?”  The overwhelming thought being that I would like to be healthy.  My greatest desire for myself is to be physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially healthy.  When I put it that way, though, I see the list, get overwhelmed, and prevent myself from trying at anything at all.  Then, I get the idea that maybe if I just pick one thing that is of the utmost importance it will have an affect on the other categories?  Or better yet, maybe I need to pick just one thing to improve upon from each category?  The physically healthy category should be the easiest, as right now I’m at Level Zero, despite the fact that Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda claims, “There is no such thing as Level Zero.”  The other categories may be a little more challenging.


Physically Healthy

I recently posted the image above on my Facebook timeline because, while this is not actually a picture of me, it is me to a T.  Would you like some proof?  Go ahead and type ‘burger’ in the Search field on the top right side of my website and see how many posts reference my love for burgers.  While the image perfectly captures my current stance on fitness and burger intake, I am embarrassed that I make light of the topic so much.  Contrary to my actions, I really do believe in the importance of being physically healthy.  My road to being physically healthy will look different than your road, as cheeseburgers may not be your weak spot.  So, if you are seeking a healthier lifestyle, then ask yourself what steps need to be taken to make that a reality.  I have plenty of things I can improve upon in the realm of diet and exercise.  If I’m only picking one, I think I’ll go with only allowing myself one burger a week.  Yes, this is a challenge for me.  Remember, Level Zero.

I’m picking this one over an exercise related one, as my cholesterol numbers are less than favorable.  After the Stroke of Luck, they did some customary blood work.  In the past, my numbers were of borderline concern, but these new numbers were embarrassing.  I did learn that postpartum cholesterol numbers are skewed, but to avoid added risk post-stroke, they placed me on cholesterol medicine.  Apparently, cholesterol numbers do not level out to an accurate reading until one year out from delivery.  This means that in July I have the chance to get off of cholesterol medication.  While I am a big supporter of medicine, I think it’s silly to be on medicine for something that can be controlled with proper diet and exercise.  So, long story short, I’m starting with my cutback on cheeseburgers.  I’m going to imagine that in five years from now somebody will confront me with, “Did you once eat so many cheeseburgers that you were on cholesterol medicine?”  Then I can respond, “‘Twas I, but ’tis not I.”

Who Do I Want to Be

Emotionally Healthy

I often wonder what “level” I would be at in the emotionally healthy realm if I did not suffer from Bi-polar II?  Mental illness is a tricky beast because sometimes you fall for the old-fashioned beliefs that if you just do XY&Z, then you can be cured from such an illness without medication ever being needed.  I don’t doubt that doing XY&Z can lessen the blow of a low in the depression cycle, but I’ve yet to witness a natural solution in my nine years with the illness.  So, what other options do I have in this category?  I would like to stop yelling at my kids.

I am not a frequent yeller, but the fact that I yell at all upsets me.  I may be the worst type of yeller, because I don’t yell at all people.  I imagine a person that yells at everyone in their life just doesn’t know any better.  But if I do not yell at strangers, nor my husband, nor my friends or extended family, then I must know better.  My children are the only ones that seem to get my wrath.  I hate it.  It’s such an ugly trait.  It’s definitely less than it once was, but I have yet to eradicate yelling from our home.  I’m not even going to excuse it, per my previous post No Excuses, No Explanations.  No excuses; just solutions here today.  How about a “Yell Jar” instead of a “Swear Jar”?  Heck, this could end up helping me with being financially healthy.  I may have enough money to buy myself something nice.

Spiritually Healthy

If I had to pick a category that I was the healthiest in, it would probably be this one.  However, I am still lacking plenty.  I’ve always been good about bedtime and mealtime prayers, but morning prayer tends to be a hard one for me.  Mainly because I am not a morning person.  I stay in my bed as long as humanly possible, thus not allowing for a couple extra minutes for morning prayer before having to tend to children.  However, studying the scriptures can be just as crucial as morning prayer in becoming spiritually healthy.  Ugh!  It’s a toss up.  Perhaps I will cheat in this category and do two?  Morning prayer and scripture study combined are likely to have the greatest impact on improving my health in all categories.  For the non-Christians out there, a good alternative may be to add time for meditation to your daily routine.

Financially Healthy

Remember my love for cheeseburgers?  Well, I don’t eat them at home.  I eat them at my favorite restaurants.  It turns out that eating out adds up when you have five other companions joining you.  Meals out are pricey with our family size.  Eating out is a huge weakness of mine.  I would much rather spend money on eating a meal out with my family than buying myself a new outfit.  I don’t even have the courage to admit to the amount of money spent from our budget on eating out.  Let’s just say that I will cut down on our restaurant budget and frequency by at least 20%.  Whew.  That feels like a lot to swallow.  I suppose with my burger cutback, this may happen naturally.

It’s as I suspected, improving something in one category has an affect on other categories.  As mentioned in It’s a Habit!, the average length it takes for something to become a habit is 66 days.  To help me with my goal, I just went and installed the app HabitBull on my smartphone.  Only three of the five changes mentioned are really habit forming.  I added the following habits to HabitBull: daily scripture study, daily morning prayer, and a one burger a week tracker.  The yelling will be managed by the “Yell Jar” and the 20% cut in restaurant budget will be tracked through You Need A Budget (YNAB).

Wish me luck in helping me become who I want to be.  Thankfully, like Oliver in As You Like It, I do believe that I can be converted, as I have seen changes already in my life from what I once was.  What a remarkable thing it is to be able to grow and develop into something more than we are today.  Think of all the opportunities that lay before you, if you just ask yourself, “Who do I want to be?,” and then strive to become that person.

Worthy of Love and Belonging

Last Thursday, I had one of those moments with my eldest that reminded me that I had Enrolled in Parenting 505.  A simple task that I had given my daughter to do turned into a yelling match for some reason I still don’t understand.  I ended up embarrassed by my own role in the argument and hurt by the words that my daughter yelled at me.  It wasn’t pretty.  We didn’t end on a bad note, but the sting of my hurt stuck with me and I went to my room and cried, once she had gone to bed.  It’s moments like these that I wish I could will my mom to be alive so that I could call her and be comforted.  Thankfully, I had the forethought to reach out to another mom who is always good about reminding me of my worth and how we’re all imperfect people trying to do our best.  However, I still somehow managed to forget her words of encouragement as the evening passed and I went to bed with a series of self-loathing thoughts and tear-stained cheeks.  A few days later, I was reminded of something I read in one of my favorite books, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown, “If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe we are worthy of love and belonging.”

I don’t know how one grows to feel unworthy of love and belonging.  I don’t think there is some statistic that ties such a thing to something like “being breast fed versus bottle fed” and, if there was, I wouldn’t believe it anyway.  You can’t isolate feelings of unworthiness down to one source, so I see no point in trying to figure it out.  But, sadly, I am a victim of believing myself unworthy of love and belonging.  I can say with certainty that these feelings were felt long before any diagnosis of depression or Bipolar II Disorder.  Before you go worrying about me, I know in theory I am worthy of being loved and accepted.  Most of us know that in theory, right?  Also, I don’t want people worrying that I grew up without “I love you” and support from my family, because I did have all of that.  Again, I don’t know the source of these feelings, but the fact is that I somehow have deemed myself unworthy of love and belonging.

Worthy of Love and Belonging

The scariest part of coming to terms with how I feel about myself is realizing that, based on our last argument, my daughter appears to be having a similar view of herself.  My daughter was able to articulate herself in such a way that I knew the source of her words had to do with her feeling unworthy of love and belonging.  While I don’t go blaming my parents for my feelings of unworthiness, I certainly blame myself for my daughter feeling this way.  I don’t know if that’s unfair or justified for me to do so, but if my eight-year-old feels like less than enough, then I cannot separate myself from that.  Now the question is, what do I do with the knowledge that my daughter and I are facing a similar struggle of believing we are unworthy of love and belonging?

There are several points that Brown makes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, but I think a big one for my eldest daughter and myself is that we confuse guilt and shame.  If I boldly reprimand my daughter, her instant response is to cry out, “I’m a bad person!” or “I’m the worst kid ever!”  Mind you, I have said nothing about her character in my disciplining nor any such thing about her being a bad person or child.  I merely pointed out that she didn’t listen or that she made a bad choice.  She is the one that turns it into, “I’m a bad person.”  I am quick to correct her about the difference between shame (I am bad) versus guilt (I did something bad).  The interesting part is that I find it so absurd that she takes my disciplining and turns it into a five-alarm situation of self-loathing.  But, guess what?  I do that too.  I don’t cry out with wailing and gnashing of teeth, but I sure as heck go to my room and tell myself what a horrible person I am for yelling at my daughter.  Then to make sure I really give myself the proper punishment, I begin to tell myself all the other aspects of life that I am horrible at.  I am a horrible wife, because I don’t prepare dinner.  I am a horrible at-home Mom, because my children watch too much TV.  I am a horrible friend, because I don’t serve others enough.  I am horrible with finances, because I like to eat out.  You get the idea.  I’m really good at this self-loathing thing.  Well, well, well, looky there!  I just gave myself a compliment.  At least we know I’m good at something – shaming myself.

Here’s the best part – I just had this epiphany of the similarities between my daughter and I while I was typing this post.  That’s how blind I’ve been to hers and my struggle.  I recall my therapist trying to teach me the difference between shame and guilt years ago, because she saw that my confusion between the two was having a damaging affect.  I didn’t understand how I was mixing the two up in my daily life nor did I grasp the negative affect it was having on my emotional wellbeing, until now.  I understood the difference in theory, but I did not understand their difference in practice.  Does that even make sense?  It’s the same thing with feeling worthy.  I logically understand that, as a person, I am worthy, but I don’t feel worthy.  Just like I get the difference in the definitions between guilt and shame, but I don’t recognize when I am mixing the two up in my daily life.  I honestly did not get it until this very moment.  ::mind blown::  I am behaving in the same absurd manner as my daughter is when she takes my discipline and turns it into believing that she’s a bad person.  I throw the same fit.  I just do it in a more controlled manner and somehow I’ve convinced myself that that is okay.  Oh my gosh!  I now get why my husband gets so frustrated with me when I share my self-loathing with him.  He sees how absurd it is for me to believe myself a bad person for having made a mistake in a particular moment.  He knows better.

So, is confusion between shame and guilt the only cause of feeling unworthy?  No.  But it certainly doesn’t help my situation if I’m turning my mistakes into a blanket statement of me being an awful person.  It’s no wonder I feel unworthy of such love and belonging.  Woah.  This is a lot to process.  I guess the first step would be to catch myself in the action and teach myself to separate shame and guilt.  My husband is always good about stopping me in my tracks when my self-loathing begins, but he’s not always with me.  He simply says one line, “Put the phone down,” to get me to stop speaking negatively about myself.  His line is in reference to the fact that he once told me that my self-loathing is like having Satan on speed dial, calling him up, listening intently as he whispers all these terrible things about me, and then foolishly believing him.  So when I get going on my laundry list of reasons why I am “less than,” my husband quickly tells me to, “Put the phone down.”  It works every time.  I can be redirected, because in theory I know I am worth being loved.  The breakdown occurs when I’m alone with my thoughts, I pull up my speed dial, and suddenly Satan and I are catching up on old times.

I know that I am loved and accepted.  I’d like to believe that my daughter knows she is as well, as I try to show her often and tell her regularly.  However, she and I both seem to have some miscommunication between what we know and what we feel.  As a mother to this special little girl, I’ve struggled greatly with knowing how to raise her when I feel like I haven’t even figured myself out.  How do you teach a child about self-esteem when you seem to have so little regard for your own?  How do you teach a child about healthy living, when you struggle with proper diet and exercise?  I don’t know the answers to these questions.  My only hope is that open communication with her about my weaknesses and imperfections will help her to realize we are all imperfect individuals, but we are also beautiful and incredible people trying to do our best.  Perfection and worth are exclusive of one another.  I do not have to be perfect to be worthy of love and belonging.  The sooner I can learn to separate the two, the sooner I can help my daughter on her path.  We are all worthy of love and belonging, when we believe that in practice, and not just theory, we will free ourselves up to fully experience those same beautiful emotions.

You Can’t Have a Good Day with a Bad Attitude

I recently had the pleasure of surprising my family in Southern California with the selfish desire to hold my newborn nephew.  They were completely shocked to see me at their door and I have the footage to prove it.  This was also my first time ever being away from my kids for more than 36 hours, which made the trip an even bigger deal for me.  I had a lovely time.  Sadly, however, I ended up bringing back a strained AC joint (or so the doctor has diagnosed it), a head cold, and apparently a bad attitude.

You may be thinking the bad attitude was due to my vacation coming to an end too soon.  This was not the case.  It was more due to the fact that I am a wuss when it comes to pain.  I wish I could say I was hardcore like my mom was in this way.  I would listen to her, time and time again, indicate her pain level as a “2” on the 1-10 pain scale.  My Mom was a cancer patient on chemo, I’m pretty sure 2’s don’t exist.  She was bad-ass that way.  Me, not so much.  I’ll say a 4 or 5 right off the bat because I want pain relief and a 2 isn’t going to make that happen.  Being in pain tends to mess with my emotional state as much as my physical state.  I have a hard time separating the two.  If I’m in pain, my head gets stuck on repeat, “Pain. Pain. Still pain. Make the pain stop. Pain. Pain.”  I’m not good at moving beyond it and, as a result, I get in a bad mood.

I didn’t recognize my poor attitude when I first returned home.  I told my husband that my shoulder was hurt and that my head cold was bugging, but I had yet to realize that it was seeping into my emotional state.  I heard myself saying a lot of negative things and bringing up the pain quite a bit, but I still was happy to be home and grateful for my trip and doing well enough despite the pain.  It wasn’t until the first full day home, when I replayed all of my words and actions from the day prior, that I realized I was being a real downer, particularly towards my husband.  I hardly showed any appreciation for all that he did in my absence and all that he did to make the trip possible in the first place.  It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate him and all he did to keep our home running, it was that I was so self-absorbed with my pain that it consumed me.  Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not excusing my behavior, because I already shared that No Excuses, No Explanations is the way to go.  I just personally needed to figure out what would possess me to be so unappreciative and grumpy towards my husband and life in general.

Once I realized that my bad attitude did nothing for the world around me, I knew my husband deserved an apology.  Is it just me or is it difficult to come forward and apologize?  I find it’s even harder to do so when nobody has even expressed offense having been given.  My husband hadn’t said, “Sara, you’re being ungrateful and grouchy.”  He was moving forward and doing his thing.  So, I had to voluntarily swallow my pride and fess up to screwing up and being a drag.  Thankfully, I married a forgiving man.

My shoulder still hurts and I anticipate that it will continue to do so as it heals over the next week.  However, I’m doing my best to prevent the pain from pulling my mood down now.  You can’t have a good day with a bad attitude, and you can’t have a bad day with a good attitude.  I think we all know this to be true already, I was just given a fresh reminder.  Letting the pain get the best of my attitude, and my attitude get the best of my day, was just making matters worse.  So the opposite has to be true.  A good attitude can only beget a brighter day.


Perhaps this is why my second eldest never seems to have a bad day?  She walks around with a positive attitude.  So much so that she received a Certificate of Character at school for having a positive attitude.  They announced the winners for each class at an assembly that my husband and I were able to attend.  The teacher had informed us that she would be receiving the award, but she was unaware.  When I heard her name be called for the award, I had to laugh, as I watched her skip happily up to the front.  That’s the type of girl that deserves such an award.  One that skips, and dances, and appreciates, and smiles, and laughs, and embraces the good all around.  Sure, she gets mopey at times, particularly when she wants someone to play with her, but overall she’s a ray of sunshine.  I could stand to learn a thing or two from her, as I strive to have a good attitude that brings forth a good day.

We reap what we sow, do we not?

First Friday Find: A Five-Year Memory Book

This past Christmas, I was blessed with wonderful and unexpected gifts from loved ones.  My all-time favorite gift from this past Christmas was the mattress that my husband and I got each other.  Our mattress before was aggravating my back with each night’s rest.  This new mattress rejuvenates me.  However, I’m not writing this post to tell you about my mattress.  I’m writing to tell you about my favorite Christmas gift that I actually got to unwrap.  This probably would have been better suited for January’s First Friday Find, but I had yet to fully appreciate the item, at that time.  What is it, you ask?  It’s Mom’s One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book.

This little book is so awesome!  Each page is set aside for a day in the year, starting at January 1.  The page is then broken up into five smaller sections.  Each section starts with “20__” so that you can indicate what year you are referencing and has a few blank lines following it.  It’s such a small section, but not too small, that it allows you to write just the right amount from the events of your day.  Then, when a new year begins, you go back to January 1 and start filling out the second section.  At the end of five years, you will have a record of what you did everyday on a specific day of the year all briefly stated on the same page.
I have made a point to keep my comments appropriate for anyone in our family to be able to pick it up and read from it.  In fact, my daughter has already snuggled up to me and had me read the events from our past month.  As I was reading, she would exclaim, “Oh, I remember that!”  We were both enjoying looking back on just the few short weeks that I had already recorded.  Then, she and I discussed that she would be twelve-years-old when I finished recording in the book.  Can you imagine all the memories we will have made together in that amount of time?
The best part is that it’s so dang simple.  I just keep it by my bedside and fill it out just before I kneel for my bedtime prayers.  It takes just a minute and I can already tell the results will be invaluable.
I was happy to find that they also have a journal option that is not gender or relationship specific: One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book.
Seriously, this is one of my most favorite gifts ever.  Go get yourself one!  

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