You’re Doin’ Good.

featured doin good

This post is sponsored by Minute Maid.

My friend brews me my favorite black licorice tea as soon as I walk in the door and makes me read the fortune on my teabag before I take a sip. “Compassion leads to understanding,” it says. There’s classical music coming from the kitchen, adding a calmness to the room, as if it’s possible to make this space even more warm and homey. The living room is tidy, but with enough things out of place to make you feel at home, and every inch of the room–including an entire wall dedicated to school papers and art projects–breathes, “You are celebrated, you are loved.”

“Mmmm, is that incense?” I ask.

“Sandalwood,” my friend answers. My favorite.

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My friend’s little girl follows her mama into the sun room, climbs into her lap, and the two of them melt together in a chair. I watch as my friend opens The Daring Book for Girls and chooses a passage to read to her daughter. They whisper back and forth about something in the book–something about palm reading, I assume, as her little one opens her hand and my friend traces circles in her palm. My friend then uncurls her own fingers and stretches her hand out to her girl who laughs and traces the tattoo stretched across her mama’s palm. “Fierce Love,” it says…like the fortune on a teabag. It’s served her well.

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Things have changed a bit the past few years for my friend–different from the family she envisioned when she was young–but I’ve learned so much about determination, choice and making the best of circumstances from her as she has settled into a new home. One thing that’s never changed? How she loves her children. And if there’s one thing I love, it’s watching my friends and fellow moms love their kids.

I think every mother has the exact amount of love she needs to show up for her kids, even if she doesn’t feel like it all of the time. But the extra? The back-up love we need for the really hard days? I like to think we sponge that up over time, without even knowing it, from the other moms in our lives that we’re lucky to know and watch and learn from. I’m continually absorbing new ideas, perspectives and inspiration to love well from the many mothers I’m lucky to call my friends–and this mama, my friend Rebecca? I’ve ladled up a lot from her.

Parenting is tough, complicated work, and too often we struggle with feelings of self-doubt about the job we’re doing. Are we involved enough? Too much? Do we work too many hours? Are we setting a good example? Do our kids feel loved, listened to, supported? Add social media and all the pressure of perfection, and we can so easily stray from what really matters–the simple family moments that ground us and feed us.

I’m joining Minute Maid’s #doingood campaign this Mother’s Day to help remind parents of all the wonderful things–big and small–they do to make a positive difference in their children’s lives. You know what one of the most memorable compliments I’ve ever had was? I was sitting in a booth at a cafe with my kids, trying to entertain them through lunch when an old man walked up and said, “I’ve been watching you with your kids, and I wanted to tell you how evident it is that you love them so much. You’re doing a good job.” I didn’t even know this man, but he saw something and took the time to let me know. I’ve never forgotten it.

This Mother’s Day, I chose Rebecca to recognize–to remind her that through all the hard work of single parenting and through all the doubts of “Am I doing a good enough job?”…she’s doin’ good.

I took several pictures of her hanging out with her kids last week, printed them out and tucked them into a bag. Then I added the fun part–I typed up a bunch of things she does with her kids that inspire me–all the ways I see her doin’ good as a mama.

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All of it got packaged up in a little green bag with a “You’re doin’ good” tag…

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…and last night my kids and I stopped by to bring it to her.

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I want to step up more with my friends–make more efforts to let them know I see them doin’ good, and this was such a fun way to inspire more of it. And you don’t need to go to great lengths–simple recognition is all it takes. A little “I see what you’re doing–and you’re doin’ good.”

Minute Maid wants to help encourage this recognition of other parents–friends, siblings, relatives–for the great job they’re doing as parents, and they’re asking others to tell a parent they are #doingood in an effort to promote a more supportive cultural environment around parenting.

When it comes to making juice or raising a family, when you put good in, you get good out.

You know I love a good tear-jerker about parenting. This one got me. Check out four-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist and Minute Maid partner Missy Franklin’s letter to her parents, letting them know they’re doin’ good.

Want to have breakfast with Missy Franklin following the Rio 2016 Olympic Games? Enter the “Breakfast with Missy” promotion by sharing a photo or video nominating a parent in your life who is #doingood on MinuteMaid.com or on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #doingoodcontest. Missy Franklin will select five winners and a guest of their choice to join her for a special breakfast after Rio.

When we take time to recognize others for their hard work in parenting, we’re easier on ourselves. And this Mother’s Day, I’m so thankful for Rebecca and the other moms in my life whose example and constant love help me in my own very important role of doin’ good.

Together. Happy.

Some Friday evenings feel more deserved than others, and tonight feels good. I just pulled the elastic from the tight bun I’ve been wearing all day, and the week’s stresses fell with my hair. Soft waves, slightly damp but free. And since beer and coffee and the occasional refreshment of a Salty Dog are off the list (they all sound gross right now anyhow), I’ve restablished the art of the Cup of Tea. Yes, it’s capitalized because it’s very, very proper. Tonight it’s chamomile, piping hot, in a skinny tall mug that fits perfectly in the palm of my hand.

It was a text all call this morning for a let’s-blow-this-popsicle-stand. I didn’t feel fantastic, but I had to get out. And so did everyone else. So five mamas, a mini van, three cars, ten kids and one stroller set out for a day.

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Nella’s really mad at Lainey for trying to headlock her in place for the photo

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So she ran to Heidi and tattled (…and those “Positively Peaceful” windows…yeah, ya like that?)

Let me tell you what five mamas and ten kids out and about on a hot day looks like.

First, consider the location–Tin City, this electic, colorful collection of old tourist shops in tin-roofed buildings stretched along a boardwalk on the Naples Bay. There’s a narrow brick walkway inside and a nice smattering of shell shops, t-shirt joints, a fantastic homemade soap store, a candy shop with barrels of taffy and swirled rainbow lolipops and a few restaurants, one of which serves the best Greek salad this side of–well, Greece. And when you add our crew, it looks like a daycare stampede. It looks a little bit like a zoo without cages. Actually, it looks fantastic.

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Lunch was awesome. Like eighty-six trips up to the cash register to order then add a water, add a fork, add some napkins, add an ice cream cone. And gawkers who stared in pity at the moms who wiped up messes and bent down to pick up the broken crayons and then stood back up to separate kids and put a lid on that drink and cut the food and wipe the ketchup off the bun.

Sprawled out across the tables were coloring books and cups, wadded napkins and a billion grains of salt that maybe spilled from a knocked-down shaker or perhaps–and more likely–were intentionally scattered for entertainment.

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And while they ate and colored and discretely made salt snow storms, the mamas told stories and passed Ivy from one lap to another and declared these were the best Greek salads we’d ever eaten.

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Perhaps numb from heat and a bit high on pungent feta, we made the decision to keep going. In the heat. With ice-cream wired kids. Twenty little feet scuffed their sandals and tripped on flip-flops across the wooden planks of the dock as mamas licked the salty sweat that beaded above our lips and drained our water bottles. Our kids were together and happy and, despite our discomfort, a unanimous satisfaction for those two qualities was unspoken yet present for all of us. Together. Happy.

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The last of the ice cream buzz was worn off at the park where the parched woodchip floor was anything but comfortable but suitable for a place to finally sit down in the heat and watch the kids.

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They chased each other in the spray of fountain mist, pushed each other on swings and yes, needed to be reminded of kindness and love. My friends and I talked about meltdowns and how we deal, what we’re good at in parenthood and how we struggle too. We have our moments, our kids have theirs.

It’s good that days aren’t perfect. It’s good that parenting is hard. Because it makes it even more important–this privilege of raising little human beings, of fiercely loving them, of learning more every day how to teach kindness, respect and responsibility.

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Today wasn’t perfect by any means (although the salad was). But knowing this window of playdates and ice cream and coloring books on restaurant tables is small and fleeting makes me love it even more.

A little salt on tables? Pshaw.

We are together. And we are happy.

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Friday Photo Dump:

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Friday Phone Dump photos are taken on the Instagram iPhone app (free) and dropped into a 12×12 collage using a photo editing software (Photoshop Elements works). I am @etst (enjoying the small things) on Instagram if you care to follow the feed.

And your #enjoyingthesmallthings photos. (If you use Instagram and have a photo that makes you happy, share it by using the hashtag #enjoyingthesmallthings. Yours may be chosen to be shared in a Friday post.)

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New sponsor, Allison MacPhail Photography, is offering a photography workshop in Montecito, California this November just for moms. If you’re interested in taking better photos of your children and learning more about your camera and editing, Allison’s 2-day workshop will cover all the basics.

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The bonus? It all takes place at a beautiful beachfront home.

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For more details or to register, visit Allison MacPhail Photography.

Weekend Celebrations

Our Weekend:

We are well now, our house thoroughly disinfected by my germ conscious husband. Besides predicting weather patterns and diagnosing ailments, Brett happens to dabble in germ-spreading prevention as well. I’m going to be kind and call it a “hobby,” although there are a few other terms that come to mind by which I’d like to refer to it.

Appropriately timed for a good home cleanse, we’ve enjoyed a nice cool front which has prompted open doors and windows and a steady current of germ-sweeping airflow. We spent more time outdoors this weekend, the medley of blue sky, filtered sunlight and cool, crisp air reminiscent of early spring days up north.

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I like the layers of tank top-plus-sweater-plus-jacket that shifted throughout the day this weekend. And socks–seriously. I can never find a pair of matching socks for my kids. Ever. We get by on sandals and bare feet so much down here, when socks are actually a necessity, I just start digging to the back of drawers and the bottom of laundry baskets praying I’ll find two socks–matching and appropriate size total bonuses.

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Saturday evening, we celebrated Heidi’s baby who will debut in less than a couple of months. I love seeing my friend so happy. She is anticipating this little tag-a-long with such beautifully expressed enthusiasm, and it felt so good to share it in an evening of maternal praise.

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Our friend Wylie made homemade pizzas which were out of this world

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I am so thankful for my friend, a constant support and continued source of laughter. And babies? Oh, we know how to celebrate babies round here. This one is no different–infinitely loved.

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Shower attendees taking turns wearing my fake very refective glasses.

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And because my friend is super human, not only did she go to bed late after the shower, but she hauled her bump out the next night for karaoke. Sang and danced a pregnant jig. And my oh my, did we ever have fun last night.

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It’s funny, here I was packing up my Christmas tree last week, hesitant to close shop because I was sad to let go of celebration, and yet January has done nothing so far but call for more of it. Babies and birthdays and friends and all the little things that continue to unfold all year long, inviting little bits of fanfare, toasts of gratitude, occasions for togetherness and remembrance.

Dancing to celebrate another year.

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Happy Birthday, Cash & Rocco!

Welcoming new babies.

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Lainey gave up face painting, balloon art, dancing and a slew of her friends to hold Baby Ethan at the birthday party. It’s her favorite place to be–holding a baby. I may be raising an introvert, but Sister’s like her mama when it comes to the babies.
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We visited my birthday buddy, Baby Sage, today. She is yummy.

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And I noticed even more this weekend, my big sister girl has some precious nurturing qualities.

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This morning, I wrapped Nella in a towel and set her down while I drained the tub after her bath. Of course she escaped the towel shackles as I heard her palms slap the tile down the hallway a second later and saw a wet footprint trail out the bathroom door. By the time I cleaned up and headed to find her, she was fully dressed–diaper, shirt, pants–and all properly done. Lainey was smiling. “I dressed her,” she proudly confessed.

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Our girl turns two in less than a week–hard to believe.

Photobucket Nella’s shirt, Tea Collection, half price clearance now

Things have been a little crazy this month and I’m traveling for the first time by myself next week for a couple days, so we moved her party to February. This weekend will be special though, and her day will no doubt receive its deserving honor. Tonight, I watched a short segment on NBC Nightly News about a gorgeous little boy with Down syndrome who is being featured in Target and Nordstrom ads and how, while this is deservedly getting attention, really it’s no big deal–just exactly as it should be. This isn’t the first time a child with special needs has been included in a major ad, and it definitely isn’t the last time. But I still smiled and cried watching it. I just feel so entirely grateful to be a part of this–to have two children who are different, beautiful and bright. To raise a child with special needs during an age when all the hard work of other families is being recognized. Life wouldn’t have been the same for us thirty years ago and it won’t be the same thirty years from now if together we continue to broaden our perspective. I am thankful for the message of acceptance and inclusion–a way that has been paved for our family by so many other families before us. And I am encouraged to continue the fight for more. Please keep the message spreading and help us reach our goal of 2 for 2. Final countdown and a little more than $40,000 to go.

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There’s a winter sale going on over at our Dashing Bee sponsor. Remember, Dashing Bee is an online consignment shop for baby and kid gear. I had fun making some favorite picks from the shop tonight to throw a few outfits together. Everything you see is currently for sale on their site and, better yet…incredibly affordable.

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All winter items and shoes are 20% off now. Use Code WINTER20 at checkout for your discount.
Happy Shopping.

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I’ll be stopping by more frequently this week with some special posts. Until then, we’ll be enjoyin’. Hope you will too.

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