Tuesday, March 29, 2011

#8 Accept Yourself--Unconditionally

Ever have the case of the if only this or if only that? I imagine if you are anything like me it happens just about every other day.

So many times I think if only I could trade places with that person, my life would be pretty sweet! I wouldn't have to deal with infertility, job loss, a less than full bank account, or student loan debt up to my eyeballs, and I would most superbly be talented beyond measure and be extremely crafty. But looking from the outside in I cannot see the whole other lot of problems in the mix that do not appear on the surface of another person. As I realize that every person has a specific set of challenges, abilities, and experiences in this life I quit playing I want to trade places with someone else game. Oh the thoughts come to mind every so often of, "Wow, wouldn't that be nice?" but I remind myself that I wouldn't be the person I am today if I traded places because I would have to trade everything not just what I see that I like. And for that fact, I wouldn't trade places with anyone, and I feel extremely lucky to be the person that I am, even with all my faults and challenges.

"You are not just the size of your bank account, the neighborhood you live in, or the type of work you do. You are, just like everyone else, an almost inconceivably complicated mix of abilities and limitations." 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People

Saturday, March 26, 2011

#7 Turn OFF the TV

Turn off the TV!?! When you could watch hundreds of channels and see millions of shows and keep up with more than one show or game in several languages, it can be almost impossible for the TV to stay off. What in the world could you talk about at the water cooler if you don't watch TV? And how can you possibly stay current in a changing world if you don't watch the evening news? Can we truly survive without the boob tube?

Of course we can! Early on in our marriage we made a conscience decision, to not have televisions in the bedrooms of our house and to not buy cable. This may have been a mostly economic based decision, but I think we have reaped the rewards of not watching television all day long. In the past three years not having cable has meant not having television period. We do not get even one local channel, and we haven't missed it one bit. Now we do watch movies, probably too many movies, and our kids have their videos, but as far as network TV we don't have anything. Because of this we have to make concerted efforts of what we watch. We have to look it up on the internet, pull out a movie, or add it to our cue before we watch it.

Some of you might think it is crazy to not have network TV, and that we are missing out on pop culture, news, interesting facts, or quality programming for children. We can tell you we are not missing out on anything; in fact, I think we have gained so much more, more time, more love, and more conversation. And we have lost a few things as well; commercialism, kids asking for every toy or cereal on every commercial, weight, desires to look or be a certain way, sexed up shows that have lost touch with real families and real values, and we even lost ourselves in more than one book. So I guess this means I don't know who was voted off the island, I don't know who the bachelor chose, and I really don't think I know who can dance; but I really don't care.

So am I sad that we have unplugged from cable and network TV? No, not one bit.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Our Little Secret

So our two-year-old found out our little secret of what we do when the kids go to bed...no, I am not blogging about that, this site is PG, our other secret....

You see our oldest child has never questioned bed time or the boundary of his bed. Once he is in bed, well he stays there. If he needs something, he calls out to us and we go and take care of what he needs. This continued until last year and we told him it was fine to get out of bed for a drink of water, go to the bathroom, etc. But, he knows his place and if he makes too many excuses to get out of bed he has consequences.

We knew that brother would be different from the start. He has always tested boundaries. He has tested every boundary we have ever placed, including bed. We will put him to bed and every so often we will hear his thundering feet running around playing and we put him back into bed. I say thundering feet, because he sounds like a 14,000 pound elephant dancing hip hop walking around, instead of a slight 30 pound baby. He really hasn't tested the bedroom boundary at night time until last night. We put the kids to bed and I was on the computer when I hear the thuds of his feet coming down the hall. He peeked in the room and gave me a million dollar smile as if to say, "If you don't tell, I won't." Well, we are not about ready to sacrifice our alone time, so I marched him back to bed and told him that if he got up again he would be in the crib.

I thought that had cured him of the "What does Mommy and Daddy do when I go to bed?" question, apparently not. We had settled into a show and a nice Oreo shake when I looked up at the staircase. Once again I saw our two-year-old's round dimpled chinned face peering around the corner, with an ear to ear grin, he looked at our shakes and said, "wan yum-yum" Oh no, not only did he see that Mom and Dad are not in bed sawing logs, but worse... he saw that we watch movies and eat luscious desserts while he is stuck with a 7:30 bedtime. The worst part, he learned how to walk quietly, he crept quietly out of bed, down the hall, and down the stairs in cat-like formation, our alarm system of kids out of bed, ie thundering feet, turned off. Unfortunately, I don't know where the on button is located.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

#6 Cultivate Friendships

This is a good one for us...we are moving in six weeks and it is really hard. We love our friends here and know that this time here has been greatly enhanced by our sweet loving friends. Some we may not cross paths with again. I am so glad that I have a variety of friends from the acquaintances at the grocery store to the invaluable walking/jogging partners to the deep friendships of those who share my faith in God. All have blessed my life immensely and I can't imagine my life without them. I will be so sad to leave my dear friends here, but I am of course excited to build new friendships and rekindle old friendships by moving closer to family and old friends.

This past weekend I was overwhelmed by the friendship that we have been blessed with by our son's stay in the hospital. We had visits, cards, balloons, phone calls, texts, emails, facebook messages, etc. We live in a wonderful age of technology that allows us to connect to so many people.

In 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People David Niven, Ph. D reminds us not to only use technology to expand our friend base, but to become friends with our neighbors. We could spend our whole life on the computer and miss friendships right outside our door.

I have to add that friendship should not be based on age, appearance, or social status. We have much to learn from older and younger people; rough, hardened, not so attractive, or very beautiful, polished, well-dressed sorts; and we should never look at monetary wealth as our source of friendship. Each person rich or poor has something to offer, and beyond has a great need to connect to others. "People need to feel that they are part of something bigger, that they care about others and are cared about by others in return." 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People

Sunday, March 20, 2011


We have been suffering from a pretty bad case of "guacamonia". What's that you say? It is not a severe addiction to guacamole, that would be a whole lot better. We all have bad cases of walking pneumonia. My youngest had it so bad he was hospitalized to be given IV antibiotics. My oldest and I now have it, but luckily we were given antibiotics to take care of it at home. Tonight my oldest told his grandpa, "I got guacamonia!" It actually made us laugh, which has been hard this weekend with all of our sickies.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

#5 Choose Your Comparisons Wisely

I came across a desiderata back in high school that helped me greatly with this concept. "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself."

I loved that statement then, and I love it even more now. The world is full of wide spectrum of things. The beautiful thing about life is to become a little better than we were the day before, and if we do that we won't have time to make comparisons.

Right now I think of the widespread challenges in the world and I count myself blessed, and with my abundance of blessings I look to pay it forward. I want to find ways to give to those in need, and as I do I learn so many things. I learn that I don't need to compare to share. I can give and help to even those that seem to have everything, because sometimes the only thing they lack is a friend.

So if you look to compare your life to those around you, I believe that you will always come out dissatisfied. Either unhappy about the things that you do not own, or unwilling to share the bounty of your wealth.

Here is hoping on Saint Patrick's Day that we will all put way the green monster of jealousy and do some introspective thinking about what we can do to lift another.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

#4 Your Goals Should Be Aligned with One Another

Goals are so important to have, more importantly they should align with one another. I also believe that goals within a family should align. Mom and Dad should have goals that align one with the other. The family should all be on the same bus or it will fall apart. I am grateful for a husband that has similar goals to mine.

Hoping a few of our goals will come to pass.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

#3 You Don't Have to Win Every Time

When I first started playing games with my son, he would freak out if he didn't win. Now granted he was four, but it really wasn't any fun to play with him.

Fast forward two years and many upsets and fits later, we now have game Saturdays. I love it! Yesterday we played a fantastic game of Star Wars Monopoly and we both had an enjoyable time. When he didn't win the game he smiled and handed me over the money and said, "Let's do it again." I feel like I had won the lottery. He finally realizes that he doesn't have to win every time, but it might be fun just to play.

"Ultracompetitive people, who always need to win, end up enjoying things less. If they lose they are very disappointed, and if they win it's what they expected would happen anyway." 100 Secrets of Happy People

Friday, March 11, 2011

#2 Use a Strategy for Happiness

Today I think I am failing at a strategy...I am in a little bit of a funk. It seems the looming graduation date with several challenges that have been hitting us one after another has got me a little down. Now I am trying to focus on the positive and think about the great things that are heading our way, but it is hard when your laptop crashes, applications that are due are falling apart and boxes are not packing themselves. So...I will write this down now, and move forward. We keep reminding ourselves that the struggle is just the forecast of something better on the horizon, and I have to believe it or I would be crushed by the stress of today.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

#1 Your Life Has Purpose and Meaning

"We are all connected, and we are all affected by the decisions and even the existence of those around us" 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People

If we live so that we understand that we are all connected I imagine that we will have a happier world. No more evil glares or middle fingers to strangers from behind the safety of our cars. No more ranting at perfect strangers on the phone or at a service counter. Pleasant interchange would rule and our happiness would spread.

Anyone heard the phrase, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."? It is so true, moms control not only the happiness in their homes, but the happiness in the world. When a mom is happy she sends happy kids and dads to school, work and play. Their small smiles brighten teachers, lunch workers, neighbors, friends, strangers and co-workers.

Imagine what would happen if all moms pledge to send their kids to school with a smile instead of frantic mayhem in the morning. Wouldn't the world be so much brighter? Here's my pledge to prepare the night before the things that need to be ready for the day, and to send my kid to school on a positive, happy note; so in turn he can spread that happiness to those he meets throughout the day.

Hoping that you will pledge to spread a small amount of happiness in your corner of the world.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Happiness Experiment

I consider myself a fairly happy person. I am satisfied with my life and glean great joy from the experiences I have. This is not to say that I don't have "bad hair days" (just ask my husband), but I really do try to choose happiness over the crappy things of life. While I say this I believe that there is always room for improvement. I want to be able to get out of a funk as fast as possible and not dwell on the negative, so I have decided to create an experiment. An experiment that will hopefully change my life and the life of my readers for the better. An experiment that will be a journey through a book that immensely helped me on my journey to "Ritkiss".

About four years ago I received a book from my administrator with a challenge to read it. In fact he asked all of his staff to read it and I agreed. It was modestly titled, 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People. I was definitely intrigued. We were trudging through some very difficult times, and I needed the "secrets" of being happy. We had already come up with our catchphrase "Ritkiss", but I still craved more; more ways to put a smile on my face and truly feel it. I could slap a good smile on my face, but I couldn't fool too many; unfortunately I wear my emotions on my sleeve like a soccer mom cheers for her child at the big game. I wanted to feel "Ritkiss" not just say it. I truly desired a need for some happiness, and not the fleeting kind that comes from buying too many shoes, but the luscious kind that you can sink your teeth into after a hard day. So I began my journey to become more happy, and I am proud to say that this book help me rediscover some of the truths that I had been taught as a child, but somehow lost.

So now here I am, a much happier person in a much different state than I was five years ago... Please join me on my experiment with exploring this book in detail with my life. As I said, I do believe that I am a happy person, and with that in mind I will strive to become even more so as I take a deeper look into a book that help me on my journey to become much happier : 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Return of the potty humor

So I knew it was only a matter of time before the potty humor would once again resurface in our home. We went through it with our first child when he was about 3 and endured the snickers, laughs, hee haws and snorts about anything that had anything to do with the bathroom; so I assumed that our second son would enter the stage of the poo poo talk very soon. What I did not anticipate was the six-year-old reverting to his old ways of talking about the bathroom almost every other sentence.

It seems as though I will be getting a double dose of the oh so fun potty humor.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Not quite the "INFORAMTION" I was looking for

Looking for work is a pain, sorting through job postings, or lack thereof, posting resumes, hoping that someone will have the notion to look up the name on the paper.

Well we are in the thick of this process as my husband nears graduation. We are less than two months away from graduation, and our prospects are about the same as when we began...zero. Well maybe not quite that bad, but it definitely feels that way.

And to make matters worse, I opened the resume my husband has been sending out and using for the past two years. I know I have looked at it before, but somehow a big fat typo was facing me in bold giant print. My husband spelled INFORMATION: INFORAMTION. Really?!? I couldn't believe I was looking at the resume, THE resume that he had been using all this time. Was this the same resume that I so blindly sent to 40 people hoping that someone would pick it up and think wow this is the guy that we need to add to our illustrious organization? No, it couldn't be, but alas as we looked through the records it was the self-same resume that I had zipped off across the country via email.

So what did we do when we discovered the blunder of the century. We laughed, we laughed until we cried. What else could we do?

Here's hoping that our mistake has been overlooked, as we had both done for the past two years.
Curse Microsoft for not spell-checking all caps

Friday, March 4, 2011

What's a womanquin?

That's a very good question...one that was asked just a day or two ago by my six-year-old son. Mesmerized by our latest shopping trip he kept looking around at the stores in awe of all the clothes and the lifeless models that so stylishly displayed them.

He asked quizzically, "What are those people that don't move with all those clothes on?"

I said, "Oh them? Those are mannequins."

"So what's that?" He asked pointing to the woman mannequin, "Is that a womanquin?"

I couldn't stop laughing...has he really been that unexposed to shopping that he hasn't seen many mannequins before? I didn't think we had really been that far removed from reality. Now that I think about it Wal-Mart doesn't really have mannequins and with our limited budget from grad school we have been on a very few, in and out shopping trips; only buying the basics. This had been the only leisurely shopping trips I had been on with my kids since we started this back-to-school journey six years ago.

I have hope that my two-year-old won't have to wait that long to discover the world of mannequins.

Keeping my fingers crossed--economy permitting ;)