The Days Will Be Gone

The small hand in yours. The bright eyes shining up at you, inquisitive and sensitive. Curious and intriguing.

The questions. The “why this,” “why that” of your daily life. The swordfights. The tea parties. The requests for tickles and snuggles. The cartoons. The jigsaw puzzles. The days of running through sprinklers. The days when you are their world.

They’ll be gone.

The days when you stop a chore or a conversation to smile down at that bright, sweet face and answer a question, even if it’s not a question but an important comment about the swingset that is really a pirate ship!

They’ll be gone.

What every good parent goes through. What every good parent experiences. The fulfilling, yet fleeting days spent with his or her child. The exhausting, yet priceless, days. The fresh and raw feelings that are so new to each grown-up child – adult – who looks back at his or her parent and says, “Ah…yes…thank you so much for loving me this much. I knew but I didn’t really know.” And that older, wiser parent who is now a grandparent experiencing a wonderful blessing from God: life watching your beloved child raise his or her beloved child.

They’ll be gone.

This is the moment we have. This is our time. It is poignant. It is important. You are important. Your parent is important. Your child is important. Keep them close. Stop what you are doing and spend time with that one child. That one parent. That one spouse. That one friend. Today is your day to stop and listen to your child. Today is the day to pick up the phone and call your parent. Today is the day to be quiet and enjoy the sunset with your spouse. Today is the only day.

For someday, these days, well…they’ll be gone.

J.

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Review – “Fixing Boo Boo: A Story of Traumatic Brain Injury” by Pat Stanford

My well-loved, sticky-noted copy. Only the very best books get sticky-notes.

There is nothing easy for a caretaker who is in the throes of day-to-day, intricate insanities of caring for a very sick family member. To convey the feeling and frustration, the visceral heartbreak, the moments of joy, and sheer physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional exhaustion is an incredible task. Pat Stanford not only shines in conveying the true, real, and at times, gritty, story of life as the primary caretaker for her brain-injured sister, Barb, “Boo Boo,” but she does what great writers do: she places the reader there.

After stepping over the trash-laden, hoarder-house belonging to Boo Boo, listening to the same incredulous complaints of a brain-injured lady over and over who saw herself as “cracked,” and was sure to use that to her advantage, and feeling amazed at the moments of profound truths Boo Boo communicated, the reader knows the life of the caretaker. The reader has a glimpse into the life of one who is brain-injured.

The injury changes the path. What was once hoped and planned for will no longer be for the patient and those in the caretaking role. There was never going to be a “fix” to Boo Boo. In the attempt to “fix” her, essentially help provide a life of meaning and fulfilment, we instead ourselves become fulfilled by the story Pat conveys: there is no pretty or peace in a life of one severely brain-injured. In the endlessness and enormity of the caretaking task, it seems there is no relief.

But there are lessons. And, those come from surprising places where the brain-injured person has once trod, and the point at which the injury occurred, the point at which Boo Boo’s life changed, is the point at which Pat’s changed, as does ours as readers. The choice to accept the glimpses of directional light, of hope, of understanding – makes all the difference.

Boo Boo made a difference. And Pat, in her openness and sincerity, makes a difference in our lives as readers and for those who want to understand more about brain injury with her first book, “Fixing Boo Boo.”

For an informative and wonderful read, purchase Pat’s book on amazon.com or click here. Follow Pat and see what else she’s writing by following her facebook page.

 

Tips for Fun Boating Days with Toddlers!

 

 

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Second time out on the boat on Crab Island, off season, near Destin Harbor.

Hey Parents! Have boat, have baby…will travel! We bought our first pontoon boat as a married couple when our son was two! If you’re a boater and you have a toddler, and you just aren’t sure how you’re going to get on the water this season with a little one, keep reading. You got this.

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My hubby relaxing on the sun deck!

In our family, we are at home on the water. When my son was just shy of two, I had him in his life jacket and in my lap on our 14 ft. tandem kayak, paddling our favorite river in Tallahassee, the Wacissa. (And I did my research before I took him out…I was nervous, but I knew we’d be okay, being experienced kayakers.) My husband and I are both strong swimmers, observe safety on the water, and understand rivers and currents. However comfortable you are on the water, you always should know and observe the rules of the waterways, whether boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, skiing, swimming. There are safety measures to observe.

That being said, with boating season upon us, I thought I’d encourage boaters with babies or toddlers that you can have a great time on the water with the little one. With all of my experience on the water, I was a first time boat owner, and I had a lot to learn.

I tried to be as prepared as I could be when we first took our son out on our boat, and I have learned a few things along the way. This information is strictly from my own, personal experience.

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My munchkin chillin’ on our boat (with his dog).

Life Jacket: The most important instruction I can give is get a properly sized life jacket for your child. You absolutely must have a true life jacket that fits your baby or toddler, and you must have it on your child the moment he or she is on the boat, before you take off. We have our son in his right when he gets on the boat, before we untie from the dock. Also, those “swimmies” for arms, or the ones that have a floatation device across the chest in combination with the swimmies, are not life vests. You have to have the baby or child in the life vest while the boat is under motor or in motion. If you are anchored up or beached someplace, it’s okay to take the child out of the life vest, but use caution! Currents are swift and weather is unpredictable. You can’t be too safe with the life of your child.

Boat Safety/Communication:  Have an adult who is hands-on with your child and can tend to the child if you’re needed to help with the boat. Also, communicate to your little one (if he or she is old enough to comprehend, listen, and follow directions). Establish basic, simple rules he or she can follow. Maintain those rules. If the child doesn’t follow the rules, implement a “time-out” or some consequence they are familiar with, so they understand the importance of following rules on the boat. Boating is fun, but it can be dangerous. Keep a balance with communicating that to your child.

I recommend having the following while boating with a toddler:

Potty: If you don’t have a built in bathroom on your boat, for the potty-trained child (congratulations!), have a toddler training potty and sanitation baggies if your child is potty trained, as our son was. (By the way, I had great success with the 3-day method and you can read about the prep for it here and the results here if you’re considering it.) Kiddo not quite potty trained, yet? Have your diapers, wipes, and Ziploc/sanitation bags (for stinky diapers to eliminate oders prior to putting in boat trash bag).

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Paw Patrol toddler potty. Don’t leave home without it!

Clothing/Gear: Good water/boat shoes. I recommend Crocs or a similar brand that covers the toes (for you) and for your youngster. Have an extra bathing suit and a change of dry clothes. Purchase child sunglasses and a good sun hat with a wide brim all around to protect face, ears, back of neck. Sunblock…of course!

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Mickey Mouse crocs with Woody and Buzz Lightyear. 

Entertainment: Have a bag of plastic toys, more than beach toys. If you drop anchor someplace where there isn’t a beach for your child to play on, beach toys can be boring. Bring along some old toys that are plastic. If the toy gets lost or (hopefully not!) swept away, the child won’t be too upset. Don’t bring anything metal. It’ll rust, and boats are too unsteady for toys with sharp corners.

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Toys!

 

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Entertainment!

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort: If you don’t have a carpeted floor, an outdoor runner is perfect for the floor that isn’t protected by the bimini. (Not my idea, but friends did this on their boat, and on very hot days, it saves your feet while walking on the boat. Also, we have outdoor throw pillows that are nice for everyone, and our son enjoys them when he’s tired and ready for a nap! Just be sure to stow them while driving.

Cleaning: wipes, wipes, wipes! You have the ocean to rinse in, but that’s salt water. Wipes, hand sanitizer, and even a water jug of fresh water really comes in handy.

Food: favorite snacks and juice boxes – sanity for the ‘rents and nutrition for the kiddo (Cheetos are considered nutritious, yes? lol. Kidding.) Favorite healthy snacks and yummy not-so-healthy treats are great for a boating day.

Playpen for Baby: On a pontoon boat, a collapsible playpen can be handy. Once the boat is beached or anchored, a playpen can easily be set up and used for a child to play or sleep in. My son was too old for a playpen when we got our boat, but I’ve seen how it helps with smaller children on others’ boats. Be sure you don’t have too many people on the boat, however, for space purposes.

Don’t lose your spirit of adventure! Have a “can-do” attitude and do your research. You can have a family fun-filled day with the right preparation and realistic expectations!

Bon Voyage!

J.

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Our boy, all tired out. 

 

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Me and my honey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Relaaax…

 

 

Yoga Evolution

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Royal Dancer balance position

In the last year, yoga has come to mean more to me than simply a way to exercise or a way to de-stress. It has become a grounding point for me. The lessons we learn on the mat carry over into life off the mat. The muscle memory we learn in yoga help us when pursuing sports and allows us to perform better, physically. The calming breathing techniques keep us calm in the midst of the crises that bombard our day. Are their times I practice a nice, loud lion’s breath exhale? Admittedly, only in certain company (or no company)! But, it’s the consistent practice and the experience that can keep you as cool as Patrick Swayze in the midst of a massive, ugly bar fight, Roadhouse style.

I have praised the youtube yogi sensation, Yoga with Adriene in a previous blog post. I still follow her and highly recommend her to anyone who is interested in yoga – whether a brand new yogi or an expeirenced one. She is professional, fun, and free. It’s hard to find the time to get out of the house and get to a yoga class. Parents need to take care of their bodies, minds, and souls. We have an incredible job of raising our youngsters, and raising them well. This is perfect!

Right now, I am following Adriene’s new series, True. I love that her dog, Benji, is just hanging out in the video with her. Usually, I have my dog, likewise, sleeping nearby, a little 2-year-old cat rolling around next to me, trying to attack my arms or my mat, and my 3 year old occasionally taking breaks from playing legos and jumping next to me on the carpet wanting to do “his exercise and his yoga.” His downward dog is solid. And what better way can I teach my kiddo a healthy lifestyle than by living it and being an example to him from the get-go?

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My short board praying for bigger waves. Shaped by famous board shaper Ricky Carroll at my friend Cliff Millender’s old surf shop back in da day. B-day gift from my husband seven years ago who bought it from Cliff.

We’re in surf season around here in the northern gulf. Winter/spring kicks up some good storms and some nice waves. Hurricane season will, too, but we don’t have to fear the weather channel right now. I’m a longboard girl, mostly because I started surfing later in life, and I live in Florida, but I’ve ridden my short board, and while I don’t really shred and won’t be trying as a wild card in any major surf competitions at the age of 41, surfing is something I can do the rest of my life, unlike other sports. And yoga supports my surf addiction, love for kayaking, as well as my newfound love for paddle boarding. Yoga helps my balance. I remember to lift up from my center and correct the alignment of my core while paddling. I can control my surfboard and my paddle board better because of my yoga practice and muscle memory. I can run around and play with my son, Mac. I throw a football better! I can help my husband move a piece of moderately heavy furniture. I no longer suffering from lower back issues, like I used to. None of us is getting younger, but we can feel younger in our bodies through the practice of yoga.

Whatever your workout regimen, work in a little yoga. You will not regret it.

Namaste,

J.