A Memorial Day Thank you to All

In honor of Memorial Day I want to send a big thank you to every soldier past, present and future. I want them each to know that every single step they took and will take in years to come is appreciated. I believe that everything I do today ….everything my children do….it all is made possible by the service and protection from our armed men and women.

It goes deeper….we need to also thank everyone in the world that make it possible for our brave Armed Forces to do what they do each day….to protect our freedom.

Thank you to the little girl who takes her grandpa to the father daughter dance. She proudly explains that her daddy couldn’t come because he is fighting for our country. Thank you to the little boy who waves to his mom during tee ball….who pauses for a moment ….wishing his dad could have seen that first homerun. At such a young age they shouldn’t have to feel that weight on their shoulders….but they feel it daily….words could never thank the children enough.

Thank you to the mommies and daddies at home…..who assume both roles while their spouses serve our country. They play baseball, check homework, fix boo boos, provide both discipline and comfort to their children so that those fighting can focus on their duty…knowing their families are safe. It is difficult to carry on daily functions such as laundry, dishes…taking out the trash…. when your significant other is half way around the world. Somehow those at home manage to survive….they stay strong in honor of those they love because they know that it makes fighting easier.

Thank you to every mother who has ever hugged her son or daughter as they were deployed. It takes great strength to watch your child….a part of your soul…. walk away…knowing with great certainty that they may never come home….knowing that the battles ….both big and small….that await them will be difficult and painful. These mothers pray daily for their children’s safety…..constantly worrying. They deserve great thanks for the sacrifices they have made.

We owe everything to our Armed Forces…. men and women from all walks of life that give up so many important things… tee ball games, father daughter dances, family celebrations and hardships…. they give up these things so that those of us at home can enjoy them. In their honor embrace your life…. hug your children, visit your parents, do your job with a smile, if you’re in college take advantage of the opportunities in front of you….no matter what you do just do with pride and gratefulness…because I guarantee somewhere in a country that doesn’t have the freedoms we do….there are those wishing they could live the American dream, even on our darkest days we still have so many reasons to be thankful. So please….on this Memorial day from the bottom of your heart… say thank you to our Armed men and women but also say thank you to those who fight for us from home.

memorial day thank you
Orginally featured at The Ada Herald (adaherald.com) by Columnist Megan Watson

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Keep your problems

While swapping “this has been a tough year” stories with a friend, they shared with me some words of wisdom that had once been passed down to them. Something their father had always said was if you and everyone around you all tossed your problems into a sac and then you got to take turns drawing new problems, you would pray that you got your own back.

Sometimes our personal struggles seem unbearable. The thought has often crossed my mind “if they only knew what I was dealing with” but most people carry more pain, worry, fear than we realize. While we are taught not to judge a book by a boring cover….the same goes for people. Just because someone doesn’t appear to be struggling today doesn’t mean that they are not hanging onto their happiness by a tiny thread.

While we need to nurture ourselves…remembering to cut ourselves slack when needed….we also have to do our best not to judge those around us. Until you have seen your neighbor pull his problems out of his pocket and drop them into the sac…. don’t assume you understand his struggles. Think about this….in that sac could be death of a newlywed, the loss during natural disasters, childhood cancer, a tragic fire. So before you wish your life was different…. think about how different it could be if you didn’t have your best friend, if you lost a child, or if you didn’t have a place to call home….. keep your problems, they are yours and if you knew how much bigger they could be you wouldn’t want to trade them.

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Let go….but hold tight

As a parent I often ask myself….when is it time to let go? At what point do we stop protecting our children and allow them to stumble….allow them to make mistakes….to learn their own lessons?

My 1.5 yr old makes me ask this question almost daily. She LOVES to run. As I watch her dash across the pavement, my little mommy voice says ”please don’t fall please don’t fall” and while I know I could stay a step ahead of her, preventing her from the inevitable, I stand back and watch. I know that she won’t get seriously hurt. It is important for her to believe in herself, if I constantly stop her ”no no sweetie you can’t run that fast” then I create fear. When she falls she learns the importance of slowing down, but she continues taking risks and trying new things. If she heads towards the road, I grab her instantly. This teaches her that I am here to watch her explore, but that when needed, I will take over to protect her from harm.

This doesnt stop when children outgrow the clumpsy toddler stage. My 5 yr old is about to start kinder garden. She is so very excited. I am really proud of the big girl she has become, but at the same time I know that kindergraden is a big step for me too. It means that for 8hrs a day she is out of my sight….I can’t protect her….can’t kiss her boo boo….can’t remind her to wash her hands. She is ready. What I can do is be there for her when she gets home. Listen 100% when she shares her day with me. Help her when she has a new situation to deal with. Remind her that I believe in her and she can do anything she puts her mind to if she works hard.
Throughout every stage of parenting, your child will always need you. It is part of the job to know when to step in and guide them and when to let them walk alone. Sometimes we have to step back and let them run, knowing you will pick them up when they fall is what gives them the courage to take chances.

A parent must hold their child’s hand for a little while…..to steady them as they learn to walk in this big world…..letting go as they reach for their future….but always being close enough to pick them up when they fall off their path.

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Staycation: A creative alternative to the classic family vacation

With summer right around the corner vacation time is on everyone’s mind, but for some the classic family vacation just doesn’t fit the budget. If you have little kids they are sure to be bugging you about what you are doing this summer. When their friends talk about going on a hiking trip or spending a weekend with an oceanfront view it is only natural that they want a fun adventure to share too.

So as an alternative to an expensive trip away from home, why not have a Staycation. A staycation is a way to create a fun relaxing weekend without ever leaving home. You save time, money, and get to skip the endless ‘are we there yet’ conversations. The best part of taking a staycation is that you can plan it with the kids. You can really unleash the creativity in your family.

Camping makes a great base for planning a staycation. You can pitch a tent in your backyard so that the important amenities are close but the kids still get that ”vacation” feeling. Plan campfire meals such as baked corn on the cob, tinfoil burgers, and hotdogs. Countless ideas can be found online by searching pinterest and Google for campfire cooking. Any outside games will work; with a can of spray paint you can quickly create a tic tac toe board or giant twister that will provide hours of fun. Once it gets dark, glow bracelets placed in easter eggs make fun nightlights.

If backyard camping isn’t an option for you, let the kids camp out in the living room. Push furniture around and build an old fashion tent with blankets and pillows. The kids will love it if you get involved and help them create doors and rooms, let your inner child help too!
No matter how you plan to spend your staycation, the most important part is spending time with your family. Detaching both parent and child from the daily electronics that often make us only partially connected. We all fall victim to the phrase ”just a minute” during your staycation live in the moment. Follow the kids lead and have fun!

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DEAR MOM

Dear Mom
While I was inside your tummy, I listened to your heart beating every day. The sound of it was my bedtime lullaby. I kept warm because of your body and your blood brought me oxygen. The nutrients from the foods you ate kept me healthy and helped me grow. As you gently patted your swollen tummy….knowing it would never look the same again….it reassured me that you knew I was in there. When I was born this big bright world was different and frightening, but wrapped tightly in your arms I feel safe and secure. I know sometimes it seems like diaper changing will never end and that you can’t even remember what it felt like to get 8 hours of sleep, but please know that I will only be little for a little while. What you do for me each day keeps me safe and happy….I am so thankful you are my mommy. – from your baby

Dear Mom
Mom..mom…mommy! Hey mom you weren’t listening… sorry to interrupt you phone call mom. I just wanted to tell you how glad I am that you do everything you do. Without you I wouldn’t know my spelling words, my baseball uniform would still be the color of mud, and I would probably be late to school every day. As much as I try to act cool, it is because of you that I picked up that turtle and moved him back into the grass….it is because of you that sometimes I eat lunch with the kid everyone ignores. Please know that while the world often overlooks your powers…. you are my superhero mom. – from your grade schooler

Dear Mom
I know I don’t call often these days….college sure is a unique experience. Between exams, lab manuals, and parties (trouble free I promise) it just doesn’t seem like there are enough hours in a day. I do miss you…and think of you often. It was really nice getting that goodie box you sent. I am so thankful you made me buy that shower caddy…turns out you were right…it is important to know which bathroom stuff is mine and it comes in handy that I can just pick it up and go. Cell biology sure is tough… but thanks to you I know I can do it. You have always believed in me. I promise I will come home to visit soon. Love ya mom! – from college

Dear Mom……. from a Mother to her Mother
Wow …. I have never understood your life better than I do at this moment….now that I am a mother myself. I had no idea how hard your job was and yet how it also so rewarding. That must be why you were smiling through your tears on the day I graduated. There is so much that I have yet to learn about what it means to be a mother, but I can look back on my childhood and see so many answers there…from you. I now know why you followed my bus to school, I know why you didn’t let me go on to that party, and it is clear now why you waited up for me til 2am on prom night. Most importantly I know why you always hugged me even when I had done something wrong. mom… thank you for being you.- from a Mother to her Mother

Dear Mom
Oh mom…. how I miss you. I think of you every day, but Mother’s Day is always harder. It isn’t so much that I wish you could be here for me, as it is for the little ones who miss you. While you were a one of kind mother….you were by far the best grandmother I knew. I know you are watching over us…smiling as our family grows. Life without you hurts, but my life is wonderful because you were in it and I wouldn’t trade a single day. As my family showers me with Mother’s Day love…. please know that it belongs to you as well…because without you I wouldn’t be me. I love you always Mom. – from a daughter sent up to heaven.

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Follow your dreams….. listen to your heart

I love the person that I am today…..but I am nowhere near where I expected myself to be. As I threw my cap into the air with the rest of my graduation class, I knew that an exciting journey awaited me. Back then, I really thought I had all the answers…or at least knew where to find them. I was certain about who I wanted to be someday and what I would do for a living.
The plan was go to college, study Pre-Med, get into medical school, residency, then become a successful pediatrician. It was a long road, but I knew I could do it. The academic part came easy, and I had tons of support from my family and friends.

Sounds perfect doesn’t it?

It wasn’t. I failed to look outside the scope of my goal. Three years into my degree….MCAT completed Med schools applied to….I realized that I didn’t want to be a doctor. It was like the Brooklyn Bridge had collapsed. Years of work and pediatrician had gone into my “future plan”, it was all I ever considered doing. The scariest part, I felt like I was suddenly standing on the edge of a mountain with no way down. I had no idea what path to take. No idea what career was right for me. So what I did was take some time to reflect on myself and my skills. I have to give my mom credit for making me buy one of those cheesy career books, the kind that have a zillion quizzes that help you pick a career. While I don’t remember the book helping me make a choice, what I do remember clearly is that it helped me to really ask myself what impact I wanted to have on the world.

So I collected what pieces were left of my “future plan” and I started asking myself the big questions. What matters most to me? What skills do I do best? Where is there a need for the things I can do? When I am gone….how do I want to be remembered? This led me to an answer…. although it wasn’t an easy road or one that showed me a clear endpoint. I knew that I wanted to help people. That’s what drew me to medicine in the beginning. I believe in people, and it’s my goal in life…no matter what job title I hold….that I always keep my focus on helping others. I honestly can’t tell you what “job” I will be doing 5 years from now…. But what I can promise you is that I will be changing lives through everything I get the opportunity to do.
If you’re struggling with your “future plan” I ask that you step back just a little. Look at the big picture, ask yourself the deep questions and have faith in yourself. You will find the path that was meant for you. Follow your dreams and listen to your heart even if it leads you down the harder road….it will guide you to where you are meant to be.

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A Forest of Memory Trees

We just celebrated my husband’s birthday last weekend. When you get
to a certain age birthdays just don’t seem to be as fun as they used
to be when we were little. My kids are constantly teaching me things
and what I have learned from my 5 yr old about birthdays is that no
matter who it is for, a party is always fun. So a few weeks back I
set out to help my daughters plan a fun day for their dad.

My husband isn’t one to get hung up on the latest gadget and while he
likes trucks and guns as much as the next outdoorsman, he didn’t
really “need” anything specific.

We both grew up in the hills and valleys of eastern Ohio, where the
woods are thick and you can’t see a few yards away let alone miles
away. While we love the beautiful open fields and the picturesque
farmland, we sometimes miss our home town and joke about planting a
forest in our back yard. It was during one of those moments that the
idea came to me. We could buy my husband trees instead of traditional
presents.

So the girls and I headed to New Leaf. They were both very excited to
pick out a special tree. We talked about why this would be such a
great gift. It would not only be a really fun activity – planting the
tree with their dad – but it would also be something that would
provide fruit for our family for many years to come. I explained to
my oldest that it would be a really nice memory for daddy, but my
little girl had no idea what a memory was. I told her that a memory
was something that helped you to remember a really good time in your
life. In the sweetest little voice she said to me ” well mommy let’s
buy a tree for all the fun days we have…..let’s plant a forest of
memory trees!”

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