Top 10 Life Lessons

I was challenged by my uncle to list my Top 10 Life’s Lessons. I think I relearned all of these lessons simply by thinking about them all over again.

I saw this quote today not long after I received this challenge and its so fitting:

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What a great way to move forward and be present: reflect on how the past has made me who I am today.

1. Don’t gossip:
At a very young age I learned how hurtful words can be. It’s not worth trash talking people I love for the sake of keeping other “friends.” If they gossip to me, they’ll gossip about me.

Learn who you can trust:
My most valued and cherished friendships are girls who are honest, brutally honest sometimes, but who love me enough to be honest. There is no flattery! There is encouragement. We aren’t afraid to be down in the trenches with each other when needed, but we also help lift each other out of them.

2. Stop worrying about what others think of me:
I still have to remind myself of this one. Most of the time what I perceive other people to be “thinking” are just my own insecurities projected onto them. God gave me my own conviction, passion, and vision. The more I focus on others’ approval the less I focus on God’s purpose.

3. Don’t be afraid to try new things, especially when it comes to food:
I lived most of my childhood hating seafood. I had only had salmon BBQd, “well”-done, with a either lemon or a brown sugar glaze. Bbllleecckk! Now, hand over the sashimi or catch it fresh on the rivers of Idaho and sear it with a little salt and pepper medium-medium rare…now we’re talking!! I had never tried sushi until I was 21 because I was told eating raw food was dangerous.

Most everything tastes good if made the right way!!!!

4. Smile:
If someone looks grumpy or rude, smile, say “hello”. I’m only responsible for my own attitude and actions. More often than not, I discover how nice people really are. Some are just deep in thought, more reserved or not having a good day. When I smile, it makes their day and my day too!

5. I am my son’s (and soon to be born daughter’s) Mommy for a reason:
God gave him to me, not someone else. Not the over-opinionated old lady leaving the grocery store who thinks my 8 month old needs to be wearing sunglasses for his 30 second trip inside. Not to the family member or friend who sees things differently. We (my hubby &I) make decisions for our children based on prayer and the convictions God has given us.

It is important to learn from other people’s experiences and heed the wisdom, but discernment is also necessary. Just because there’s a blog that says this or that doesn’t mean our choice was wrong…just different than how that family decided to do things for their child(ren)…and that’s OK!

We need to support and love each other with our words and actions, not judge and tear each other down.

6. Forgive myself:
I make mistakes. I can and have been well-intentioned and still hurt people. Good people do bad things sometimes, and it’s not always on purpose. Being humble and apologizing is huge, but still not always received. Forgive myself, learn the lesson, move on and don’t repeat the same mistake. Living in the past just prevents me from being my best now and in the future.

7. Quinoa is a superfood: It is a complete protein:
It serves as a great alternative for pasta or rice. There are many delicious ways to cook it, both alone- hot and cold (mmm yummy greek salad!!)- or in a casserole or some other fun Pinterest recipe. Try it!
(This leads me to my next lesson)

8. Quinoa should not replace everything:
Meat is good! Sometimes you just need a good steak…or chicken…or ground beef or sausage. God created plants AND animals for us to enjoy. There are few things better than my Nana’s Rosemary Garlic Rack-of-lamb or All Day Meat Sauce!

9. Lighten up:
I’m still working on this one… One of God’s greatest gifts to me is my husband Joseph. He teaches me how to laugh at myself and not take life so seriously all the time. And now I have a son, with his Daddy’s sense of humor, who by 16 months had discovered the humor in hiding and jumping out to scare me.

I love to laugh and have a good sense of humor, but I also know I’m not that funny, so my most memorable moments are when I surround myself with people who help bring the silly out of me.

This reminds me of one of the funniest road trips: crank up the music in the car with a good friend, do some hand motions while you dance, and sing as loud as you can…and if you end up on the wrong freeway, remember the lesson: lighten up:)

10. Miracles do happen:
God heals! The stories in the Bible are important to teach us lessons in history, but Go is the same God now.

I, personally, within a 6 year period, was diagnosed with a chronic digestive disorder, suffered migraines, anxiety, had mysterious inflammation that “wasn’t quite rheumatoid arthritis”, a brain tumor, and was told it would probably be impossible to have children. All of which through prayer and God’s Grace are completely gone.

God wants to be present and in our lives, but He doesn’t force Himself. We must invite Him to participate. He wants to show us His power that will work in us, through us, and around us.

Until my munchkin’s next nap time: I challenge you and encourage you to Make your own list.

It’s really cool what happens in your brain and in your heart when you write stuff like this down. If you’re comfortable sharing some of them, I’d love for you to comment. I can always handle some more learning from others.

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The Traveling Toddler: Adventures with The Little Man

“You probably shouldn’t put your drink there,” I warned him, “He will grab it!” “Oh that’s ok.” He assures me.

Have you ever traveled with a baby? A toddler? If so, you know that even a couple-hour car ride can mean a peaceful nap, but any longer and you better be prepared to read, sing, feed, change a diaper, read, sing, feed, change a diaper at any given time.

We weren’t driving this trip either; we were flying. That’s not even the best part; our flight tickets are standby. So if anything can go haywire, it probably will, and I not only must improvise at any moment to entertain the little man, but I also get an audience of spectators.

Nothing better than a free, last minute, random, spur of the moment, all-day travel excursion alone with a toddler. Anything for Grandma!

Did I really attempt to fly unassisted with a 13 month old?

Yes, yes I am a little crazy! This trip is giving “flying by the seat of your pants” new meaning.

The ultra- planner in me started packing at the beginning of the week. We were leaving the 80 degree sunny Southern California on our way to 24 degrees and snowy Idaho. As if remembering all the extra gadgets and books wasn’t enough, I needed to pack triple the clothes so my poor little munchkin wouldn’t freeze.

I wake up extra early on Saturday morning so I can load the car and finish all the details before driving to the airport, and of all mornings the little man wakes up early. He pretty much wakes up between 7:30-7:45 every morning, but its mornings like this (or Sundays when we need to be to church on time) that he decides to change things up. This day he woke up extra early: 6am sharp!! Time for Daddy duty!

We get in the car a few minutes early to my surprise so I decide we should grab a quick bite to eat. We order. We get our food, but wait…they’re running behind of course. We pull into the drive-thru overflow parking space A couple minutes later, they bring out the rest of our order. We’re on our way.

About 30 seconds into our drive, I notice we are going a different way than usual, but since its my husband’s neighborhood he grew up in I hesitate to say anything. Men always know the best way, right?!
I’ working on this self-control issue I have, so I decided to put cold water on the boiling curiosity.

Finally I ask gently, ” Why did you decide to go this way…” I’m trying, really I am! He explains how he didn’t want to turn left to cross traffic…” We were supposed to actually turn right, but I accept the answer.

Fighting my control-freak nature, trying not to get frustrated, I start eating really fast, feeding the munchkin, and shuffling through by bag nervously. Finally, about five minutes later we’re now driving south west and the airport is north east, I can’t help myself:

“Ok, I don’t mean to question you,” I interrogate ask calmly, “but why are we going this way? Ontario Airport is off the 60 freeway, since when do we go this way to get to the 60?”

“Ontario? You said nothing about Ontario!” He answers, “We always fly out of Long Beach!”

He quickly turns around and we try to “laugh” it off, after all we did leave a little early. I’ll be gone over a week; now is not the time to argue over something so silly.

He turns and says, “I’m ready for my sausage biscuit now” as I look down at the empty wrapper in my lap, chewing the last bite in my mouth, I guiltily realize that I was in such a hurry I ate his sandwich instead of mine.

“Oops! I still have the McMuffin… (insert scrunchy face)”

He is so bummed! “I don’t want the English muffin, I was really looking forward to the biscuit.”

I_really_feel_terrible, but I look at the time and we’re now 30 minutes behind schedule. I rudely tell him to stop acting like a child and we can’t stop to get him another one. Wow! That turned bad really quickly. Insert foot in mouth!

I apologize.

We arrive safely at the airport. We unload my two suitcases, one carry-on, my diaper bag/personal item, stroller, carseat, and a munchkin. We kiss and say good-bye. I check in.

After a long wait through the security line it’s finally our turn. I hate this part! Since the first time I traveled alone, at 15 years old, I get randomly searched every time I fly somewhere. No surprise, they pull me aside wipe my hands to test for unnamed “residue” and sure enough the alarm goes off. They take us to a private room. I unstrap Daniel from my carrier and place him in the carseat. I get pat down. All clear! This is why I don’t eat fast food! The only thing on my hands from that morning was the food I ate, and it was so greasy it set off the security alarms; disgusting!

Now, it’s waiting time. I went to the desk to find out how full the flight was and they told me there was one seat left, but I was seventh on the standby list. The sweet ladies asked why they didn’t put me on the flight that left 30 minutes prior? I kindly said I wasn’t sure, but inside was screaming, “If they didn’t make me get searched from head to toe for 30 minutes maybe I would’ve made it here sooner!!” It wasn’t looking promising, but we decided to pray instead of worry. Regardless of my negative human internal dialogue, I was confident we would get on because I know how cool God works, but He does tell us to ask Him to intervene, so I did.

An hour later I hear my name called. We got a ticket. “Thank you Jesus that in spite of my horrible attitude and desire to control everyone else when I can’t even control myself, you allowed me to get on this flight so I can go see my mom.”

We board the plane trying not to hit people in the head with my bags as we squeeze through the tiny aisle to find we we’re given a middle seat; at least we got on!!

Fortunately to my right was a nice lady, who I quickly learned was a mother of two teenage girls, and to my left was a young guy in college.

We take off with ease. The little man does great through the take-off and is just hanging out by my feet reading books and exploring everything around him. It’s now time for the lovely flight attendants to bring beverages and snacks. The lady next to me and I decline, knowing they would get knocked all over us by my little investigator, but the guy next to me orders his ginger ale.

“You probably shouldn’t put your drink there,” I warned him, “He will grab it!” “Oh thats ok.” He assures me.

Within seconds there’s soda all over the poor guys lap…I felt so bad, but…I warned him!

Breathe! We arrive at our first destination, Seattle, get lunch, change planes, and a quick hour flight later head to baggage claim in Boise and are greeted by my mom “Grandma Linda.”

Let the vacation begin! The anticipation of a relaxing week did not disappoint! We had such a great time! I hadn’t seen most of my mom’s side of my family in almost five years. It was so refreshing to catch up after so long. We watched football, played in the snow, ate good food with good company, saw life-size ice sculptures, fireworks as good as Disneyland, and so much more.

We finished our trip with a quick stop through Northern California to see my sisters and nieces and aimed home early the next morning.

I am so refreshed!

On the flight back the little man passed out in my lap and I started to read Dr. Kevin Leman’s “Stopping Stress before It Stops You”. How fitting! So far I’ve learned (paraphrased), life doesn’t give us stress, it gives us pressures, and whether we handle the pressure appropriately or not will determine if we have stress.

This information would have been helpful prior to the beginning of my trip, but now that I’m rejuvenated and have a clear head, I’m excited to learn different tools to apply in this next season life is taking us into. The first tool is having the right perspective. Onward I read…

Until my Munchkin’s next nap time: I encourage you to evaluate your perspective. I hope you’re able to step back and look at your circumstances, better than I did, and choose to breathe through them and smile, instead of getting easily frustrated. I encourage you to rid the negative self-talk, and rather than running from life’s disheveled circumstances, laugh and embrace the crazy!

What are some of your crazy travel stories? Any advice for a mom that will always be on the go?

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