Friday, March 29, 2013

Nurturing the Soul of Your Family

From time to time, I am contacted with opportunities to read a book and then let you guys know what I think about it.  Most of the time, I delete the messages because the books just aren't anything I'm interested in.

But then this book hit my inbox and the title captured me right away.

I thought it would be a nice little read... I thought I might get a few ideas from it.

This book has the potential to be life changing.

This is a book that I want to give every new mom.  Because even if she doesn't need it right away, she will need it in the years ahead.

In all honesty, the first two chapters spoke directly to me.  I might have just stopped after those first two chapters and that alone would be enough to start making changes.

Part 1: Heal Yourself, Heal Your Family
Chapter 1: The Transformative Power of Self-Care
Chapter 2: Peace Begins With Me: A Journey to Wholeness

The first thing that grabbed my attention was that each chapter has a "Pause for Peace" blurb.  It's a little exercise to do to help you get focused.

I start reading this chapter on self care and am thinking that it's just going to make me feel guilty for not exercising, not having a spa day, whatever.  Then I turned to the second page of the chapter and saw this subtitle:

"Self Care: Beyond Massages and Pedicures"

You've got my attention.

"The same love, gentle care, and compassion we offer so generously to our little ones should be extended to ourselves as well. Regardless of what we tell our children, we teach them about self-worth and how to honor oneself through our actions, not our words."

"I define self-care as the art of attuning and responding to your deepest needs and desires.  More than anything, it's about cultivating a new mindset in which we slow down, tune inward, and repsond to what we need most in the moment."

The book goes on to give ideas and examples of self care in terms of physical, amotional, spiritual, and mental care.

The book is loaded with spiritual depth - I recommend reading it through once and then using it like a textbook.  This is a book that you can continue to go back to, to reference, to use continually.

Beyond self care, the book also focuses on reconnecting (unplug the electronics... plug in to nature... find spiritual renewal), spending time together, defining your family culture, doing less and experiencing more, and building your support network.

I really enjoyed the chapter on defining your family culture.  It gave me a lot to think about and work on.

Here's the bottom line - when I think about what I want my life to be like... when I think about what I want my kids to say about their childhood... I have to be making choices now that get me to what I want in the future.  If I want my kids to remember fun and compassion and generosity as the lessons and values of this family, I have to make sure we are living those values.  If I want my kids to have memories of fun times with mom and dad around the city, going to the park, hiking at the nature center, whatever... I have to make those things happen.

Nurturing The Soul Of Your Family is written by Renee Peterson Trudeau.  Renee is a coach and consultant and is passionate about helping people find balance in their lives.  I am very eager to check out other titles that she's authored - next on my list is The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate, and Re-balance Your Life.

There are moms I know and I observe the bits of their life that I am blessed to see... and I sometimes wonder... How can I be more like her?  How can I bring to my family what she brings to hers?  I don't compare myself to her... but I think about what she seems to have that I want for my family.  This book helps me figure out how to be my best, balanced, amotionally connected self.  Once I am taking care of me, I can define my family culture - I can take the things I see in those other moms and figure out if those things can be part of our family culture.  And once I know what I want as a mother, I can use my support network to carry me on my journey.

I highly recommend this book.  Go buy it.  Read it.  Study it.  Do the activities and journaling.  Set it down and contemplate it, let it sink in.  Go back for more.  But it as a gift - for a new mom, a mom you know who is struggling, a mom that you admire.

I was provided with a copy of this book in order to read and share my thoughts with you.  The thoughts I've shared are completely my own.  The links are given are just for your convenience - no affiliate links or anything (I don't make any money if you go buy the book from my link).  I don't generally take the marketers and publishers and such up on these offers - but I am so glad that I said yes to this book.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Parenting by Pinterest

I pinned this the other day.

I read it, thought it was really interesting and pinned it.

The other night, Teagan did something unfair to Zach that hurt his feelings.  She shut a door in his face.  He started to cry.  I called both kids to the hallway and explained a new family rule.

If Mom or Dad catches you doing something that hurts your sibling, you will have to do something kind to make up for it.  You have to do something kind to help mend the relationship since you just caused harm.

I told Teagan - you just hurt your brother's feelings by shutting that door in his face.  You need to do something kind to show him that you love him.

I was about to go on and give her the thing to do - I was going to have her give him a piece of candy.

Before I could say a word, she agreed with me and went into Zach's room.

She made his bed.

This is now a permanent rule.

Restitution Consequences.

Try it.  Let me know how it goes!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

All This Gay Stuff

Were you on Facebook yesterday?

Did you notice a lot of red?

It really depends on who is on your friend list.  I'm relieved that my news feed was showing a lot of red.

I've never been quiet about my opinions, about my beliefs, about my faith.  Like here and here and here and here and here.

Prop 8 went in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday.  DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) is up today.

California Proposition 8 first in the scene during the 2008 election season.  It's state legislation that declares that a marriage in California is only valid if it is between a man and a woman.  In August of 2010, a US District Court judge issued an injunction against enforcing Prop 8 and the 9th CIrcuit Court of Appeals continued the stay.  That stay is now the subject of discussion in the US Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court is being asked to decided whether the ban on same sex marriage wrongly denies the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples.

The Human Rights Campaign traditionally uses this symbol for support of equality:

In support of equality this week, they've updated the logo to red and are asking people to wear red to show their support for same sex marriage.

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments on DOMA.  In 1996, DOMA passed Congress and became Federal law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.  President Clinton signed it into law.  Many legislators and President Clinton have since publically rescinded their support of DOMA.  Today, the Supreme Court will be hearing and having arguments about the constitutionality of DOMA.

I'm really not a fan of laws that determine that human beings aren't equal to one another.  That human beings can't have the same rights.

Yesterday, I posted this image and changed my profile picture.

And even though I'm open about my opinions... and even though I firmly believe in my stance...

I was nervous when I posted it.

I was worried about what others in my church might think of me.  I was worried about what my family members might say.

And it struck me - if I'm a little nervous about possible backlash from people knowing that I support gay equality, imagine how I would feel if I was about to come out to friends and family as being gay.

But then the "likes" of support started up.  And some friends even shared the image on their own walls.  And a couple of my favorite gay guys expressed their appreciation for my sentiment.  And as the day continued, I saw other people from my church and elsewhere posting their own symbols of support.  A Sunday School and preschool teacher... a teen daughter of a friend... friends from my Jesuit college... a friend from high school who is now a United Methodist pastor.

The tide is changing.  And many who have been hiding within their churches, afraid to speak out against the majority are starting to use their voices.  There is a growing population in our churches, who follow the teachings of Christ, who are getting louder.

We believe in the things Jesus taught.  About love.  And forgiveness.  About kindness.  About acceptance.

Calling someone a pervert who isn't a pervert is harmful and damaging.  Telling someone that love is an abomination is cruel.

You might not agree with me.  You might have a hardcore, faith based stance opposite of mine.  All I'd ask is that you take some time to sit down with someone who simply wants to love and marry the person they choose to love and marry.  And if there isn't anyone in your life that is gay... I will introduce you to one of my friends.

We have to be unafraid to speak up for love.  We have to be bold in voicing our support of those who are treated differently, unfairly, and even cruelly.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Indiana Artisan - A Very Cool Giveaway!

If you are from Indiana and have ever shopped at a Farmer's Market, Fair, or other event, you might have noticed this logo on certain products.

I purchase Indiana Artisan products from my local Farmer's Market, at the Indiana State Fair, and in shops that support local businesses.

Indiana Artisans are artists in many forms - glass work, photography, jewelry, canvas, woodwork - and "foodists" - everything from wine to marshmallows to bloody mary mix to noodles to honey!

There is an event coming up that sounds very interesting... the Indiana Artisan Marketplace.  "The Marketplace is at the Expo Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. This year, doors will be open Saturday, April 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, April 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Want to get in early, when the artisans have all of their one-of-a-kind work available for sale?  This year, join us for “A Taste of Indiana Artisan Marketplace” preview party.  Friday, April 5, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. all the food Artisans will provide samples, four wineries will pair their best with cheeses from Traders Point Creamery, and a trio from the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra will provide lively music to entertain as you roam the Expo Hall. "

Here is a video of last year's event:

Indiana Artisan Market Place 2012 from Visible Horizon Media on Vimeo.

I am very excited to offer 2 tickets to the Marketplace to one of my readers!!

Leave a comment below or leave a comment on the posting on my Facebook page... I'll draw a winner by Weds night (March 27).  This is a QUICK contest!  Tickets can be left at will call for the winner or can be mailed.

***CONTEST HAS ENED*** Congrats to winner Chris J.!!

Hope to see you at the Marketplace!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Zach's Musical Messages

Every body can be different
You can have brown skin or peach
And we can still be friends

We can go here or there
All around the square
Near and far
I don't care what you wear
And still be friends

We are all different
We are all different
All different persons in the whole world!

I wish I had captured the video... Zach was playing by himself and just singing this lovely song.  I asked him where he learned it - he made it up.  I think we can all learn a lot from it.

I also think you can learn something from Zach's love of dancing and Gangnam Style (be sure to watch around the 50 second mark for a good laugh).


Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Silence is a gift that people don't like to accept.

But silence is such an important tool.

In my business world, I've learned that sitting silently in a negotiation can sometimes mean that the other side will continue to talk and will eventually bring themselves to the place where I want them without me even having to say anything.  Silence is also an opportunity for me to gather my thoughts before I respond.

In my personal life, I've learned that silence is an important part of being a good friend, spouse, and parent.  There are times in conversations where sitting quietly and waiting will yield more sharing from the other person in the conversation.

In my faith life, I've learned that prayer can be very powerful when I sit quietly and just listen to God.  If I do all the talking when I pray, there is never a chance for God to answer and speak to my heart.

It seems to be our nature - or maybe our culture - to fill silence with noise.  In a group, we keep the conversation going, we crack jokes, we change subjects, we interrupt and talk over each other.  When alone, we turn on the radio, the TV, we talk to ourselves or sing out loud.

We can't just... be.

As Will Rogers said, "Never miss a good chance to shut up."

As Woody Allen said, "God is silent.  Now if only man would shut up."

As Lao Tzu said, "Silence is a source of great strength."

As Leonardo da Vinci said, "Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence."

Pay attention today.  Pay attention this week.  Find times when you want to respond but maybe don't need to.  Find times where simply being quiet is enough.  Seek silence.  You might be surprised to find that you will gain a lot when you stop trying to create things to give in a conversation.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Why Do We Sing?

I've been doing a lot of thinking and praying and pondering about Worship lately.

Why do we worship?  What does worship really mean?  Why do we sing in church, sing to praise, sing to worship?

Worship.  Reverence.  Respect.  Adoration.  Affection.  Love.

Worship is a way that we show love to God.

So why do we sing?  Why do some raise their hands?  Why do we move or even dance?

I think of Worship as... an art form that expresses my love for God, my deep respect for what He does in my life, an expression of my reverence for Him.

I sing.  Often with abandon.  I've been getting bolder.  I've been singing louder, moving my body more, raising my hands, allowing the emotion to wash over me.

When I sing, it's usually between me and God.  Sometimes, as part of our Worship Team, it's about connecting to the congregation through music.

I raise my hands sometimes when I sing.  Sometimes, I raise my hands as a sign of praise.  Sometimes, I raise my hands because I am reaching for God.  Sometimes, I raise my hands because I desperately want Him to reach for me.

But why do we sing?  Why do we start our church service with singing?  Why do we end with singing?  Why does music fill me when I am praying?

I'm not even going to try to get into a history lesson on music and churches.  Gregorian chants and hymns written by Martin Luther and all that...

But if I'm going to look back at history, I think the piece that stands out to me the most is all the mention of singing and dancing in the Bible.  In the Old and New Testaments, there are many references to praising God through music and movement.

Psalm 100 starts out with one of my favorite verses about worship - Make a joyful noise to the Lord!  Come into His presence with singing!

The Psalms are full of verses about singing and praise.

Psalm 95:1-2   Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Psalm 147:1   Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.

Psalm 144:9   I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,

Psalm 33:3     Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

Psalm 104:33  I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

Psalm 105:2    Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!

But there is more than just the Psalmists telling us that our worship should include singing.

Ephesians 5:19    Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

James 5:13    Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

Colossians 3:16    Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Exodus 15:1    Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.

One of the most moving examples of singing being part of our faith comes in the book of Mark - they sang at the end of the Last Supper.  These followers of Christ, who have seen His miracles, witnessed the imapct He has had on people, who have travled with Him, given up everything for Him... they sit together for this meal and hear from Christ about this bread being His body, this wine being His blood.  It was anemotional experience on many elvels - Jesus spoke of one who would betray Him.  Before leaving the supper...

Mark 14:26  Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

They sang together.

We sing together in church.  I sing alone in prayer or at random times of my day.

So why is it that we come to church and we worry so much about what the people around us are going to think of us?  We become self-conscious and don't sing loudly in case someone doesn't think our voice is pretty enough.  We don't raise our hands because it feels weird or someone might look at you funny.  We don't allow emotions to come into the song - we just stare at the screen or stare at the page and mouth along with the words.

I grew up in a church where we sang good, solid old hymns.  And I had a voice that I could raise with the best of them and I could loudly sing the melody or the harmony.  And I thought I was really praising God because I was singing so loud and studying the notes.  But God wasn't in my heart when I sang.

I remember the first time I went to a church and saw someone raise their hands in the air.  I'll be honest - it was a bit much for me.  It was weird enough coming into a church with a praise band and guitars and drums and contemporary music that I hadn't ever heard before.  It was several years before I returned to a church with any sort of contemporary music.

If you come to my church, I will most likely be singing up on the platform with our Worship Team.  There will be drums and guitars.  And there will be some of us on the platform who raise our hands when we sing, who might cry, who grin with immense joy.  And there will be some in the congregation who raise there hands, who sway or move with the music.  And there will be some who stand still, staring at the screen, waiting to be able to just sit down again.

I don't think worship is defined by how loud you sing, how well you sing, if you dance, or if you raise your hands.

Worship is defined by what is in your heart.

When you take time to focus on God, whether in church,at home, in a forest, in your car, walking down the street... if your heart is open to Him, if your intention is to lift your heart to God through this song... that is worship.

If you are focused on the chores to do when you get home from church, the annoying person you share a cubicle with, the frustration you still have towards your kid from the day before... your heart isn't in worship.

But when you are focused on the blessing God has given you, on opening yourself to the message God is bringing to the church that day, on turning to God to carry you through a struggle...  that is when you are worshipping.  No matter what you are doing with your hands, with your voice, with your body.

Why do I sing?

Because it's what I was created to do.


Friday, March 15, 2013


Daddy has been away on business this week.  He left Tuesday and is coming back this evening.

The week had mostly been fine.  Thanks to flexibility with my job, I was able to work from home one day this week and that helped a bunch.

But knowing that he is coming home today... knowing we made it through the week without issues... my kids are showing signs of the stress of the week.

Both of my kids are worriers.  Both of my kids internalize their feelings.

After a few days of holding in their worrying and their concern and their stress, after a few days of trying to ease through different routines... the stress came seeping out this morning.

For Teagan, an evening with too much sugar, a late night, getting up early, and some drainage from some stuffiness meant an upset tummy this morning.  I wasn't too worried until she refused to eat a waffle.  She did finally eat some apple slices and then perked up.  But she was also asking to stay home, was laying in her bed, wanted me to pick her up right after school, wanted me to come have lunch with her.

But after the apple slices and some water, she perked up a bit and went off to school.  I could tell she felt better but that she wasn't 100%.

For Zach, he was just sad.  He held it all together until after we had taken Teagan to school and we were driving to his school.  He sounded so sad as he asked to stay home... asking if he could be "a morning friend" (a child who only comes to the morning session at school)... saying he likes home better than school because he can play anything he wants or he can just lay in his bed.

Today was a special day at school - Dress Like Your Favorite Book Character Day.

Historically, we are terrible at this day.  It's usually a last minute thing and we are usually struggling to figure out which character to dress up as.

This year, we started talking about it earlier in the week.  The top ideas were to dress like an artists (he is a great artist and loves to draw and color and his teacher has talked with him a lot about the artists they read who start by making pictures and then write stories around the pictures) or Corduroy (we don't have any overalls, though).

Last night, he decided that he wanted to dress up as Daddy.

Thankfully, we have a book that goes perfectly with that idea.  So we found a button down shirt and his jeans.  And it turns out, his outfit was almost exactly like one of the pictures in the book.

He was so sad when I left.  It broke my heart.  He just wanted to be with me.  He gave me the longest, sweetest hug.  He was trying so hard not to cry.  But his sadness was all over his face.

Even the dog has made it known that she doesn't like this change in her routine.  We had a poop incident that was very clearly a statement of her displeasure with her day.

No matter how hard I try to make the week as smooth as possible... no matter how much I try to make it special... not having Daddy there is different and it's hard and we don't like.

As much as I like having the bed to myself, I wake up in just my spot, on my side of the bed.  As much as I like knowing that I can handle getting everyone ready and out the door on time, I miss having someone who thinks ahead and warms up my car for me.  As much as I know I can do it on my own... I just miss having him here.  

Come home soon, Daddy!  We've all missed you!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Experiencing the Holy Spirit

There is a lot I can't explain about faith, about God, about Christ, about religion.

I don't have all the answers and I certainly have questions.

I've also had experiences in my life that, for me, cement my faith in God.

Spirituality, faith, religion - these are deeply personal, intimate topics.

Sunday morning, I experienced the Holy Spirit in a deep, intimate, and overwhelming way at church.

When I woke up, God was immediately on my mind and in my heart.  I'd had some important conversations the day before - some in a big church setting and some in an intimate one on one setting.

There were plenty of little things not going right in my day.  My hair was not cooperating.  I got a run in my pantyhose.  I couldn't find the skirt I wanted to wear.  A nervous energy settled into me... like anxiety but different.

Sunday mornings aren't just about going to church for me.  I go to church to serve others.  I'm part of our Worship Team and I want to lead others to experiencing a closer relationship with God through worship.  I lead a small group of kids in learning about singing praises to God in between services.  I open myself to be a funnel - I pray for God to use me to reach others, to be open to what He wants from me.

Second service began.  First service had been fine.  Choir with the kids had been fine.  Second service was starting out just fine.

Then we started the third song.  Great I Am.  And it started.  The music filled me.  And I was suddenly overwhelmed by... not emotions.  But it was emotional.  It was joyful, it was this sudden awareness of how blessed I am, how much joy is in my life, how loved I am by God.  But not just loved by God.  Loved by the people that God has put in my life who are filled with His love.  Love that doesn't have a human definition.  I was almost numb but also on fire when the song ended.

The way our church works, we sing, we meet and greet (walk around and say hello and shake hands and hug), the kids have small talk (children's sermon), and this week - offertory, sermon, communion, close with another song.

Meet and greet is one of my favorite times - I love seeing people, saying hello, getting hugs.  This time, it felt like an intrusion.  I was still feeling electric from the experience I'd just had.  I greeted some people and quietly exited the sanctuary - I just needed some time to gather my thoughts.  I ran into a friend in the sanctuary and she's a friend I can very openly talk about these God things with and I shared with her and cried with her... happy, joyful tears.  We spoke about the amazing things we are both seeing God doing as He works through people in our church.

Suddenly, I heard the music for Offertory.  I was supposed to be in there, on the platform, singing with Worship Team.  I'd never missed like this - and I had a part in the song that was just mine.  I rushed into the back of the sanctuary... feeling horrible, feeling like I'd let down my commitment to the team.  For 3 verses, I felt this hot, awful dread and disappointment.  And then the fourth verse started.  And a young woman that i love dearly covered my part.  And the beauty of her voice, this team... it overwhelmed me all over again and I cried again and was overcome by the love I have for others and the love they have for me and the work that God is doing in our lives.

I sat alone in the cry room during the sermon.  I'd grabbed my notebook and pen and was just writing.  I didn't listen to much of the sermon - but enough of it to hear messages about grace and comfort and getting uncomfortable for God.  And I've been realizing more and more lately that all of the hardships of last year were preparing me for something.  That God was with me through it all but that the reason I had to go through it was to realize what God wants from me, where my focus needs to be, and how to grow past my comfort zone into the areas He needs me to be in.

Then came Communion and I cried more - but, again, happy tears.  And happy isn't even the right word because it's too human of a word.  I was overcome, overwhelmed.

Time to sing the last song.  Live Like That.  And this time... I wanna live like that.  And give it all I have.  So that everything I say and do points to You.  If love is who I am, then this is where I stand.  Recklessly abandoned, never holding back.

If love is who I am.

And love is who I am.  Love defines me, fills me, flows through me.  And as I sang these words, and as my heart continued to be filled with the experiences and feelings of the morning... I couldn't sing.  I wept.  I put down my microphone and I stepped back and I raised my hands in the air - Father, I am reaching for You, hold me, lift me, embrace me, guide me.  The song ended and I went to the altar and knelt at the base of our church's cross.  And I cried.

And every tear was an expression of joy, of blessing, of love.

I wiped my eyes and my face and stood and some of my church family had come to embrace me.

One of my favorite people held me and told me that she had wanted to run up and just grab onto me.  Another friend hugged me and said I could talk to him or his wife any time about what I had experienced as I have had open conversations with them about their own worship experiences recently.  And one of my favorite kids was standing there, wanting to make sure I was ok... and I was able to hug her and tell her that my tears were happy tears, joyful tears.  And more of my church family came to make sure I was ok, that there wasn't something wrong.  And some knew that I was experiencing something powerful and positive and overwhelming.

Some of you reading this might have experienced this same sort of thing.  Some of you haven't but have seen it.  Some of you believe I had gas or some unaddressed emotional issue or have some other logical explanation.

But I know that the Holy Spirit was doing something through me, in me.  I don't know what.  I don't know why.  But I know what was going on.  In all the ways I've had experiences with God that have cemented that foundation of my faith... this was a new one, an intense one.

1-2 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.  3-5 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!   Romans 5:1-5 (The Message)

And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love.  Romans 5:5 (The Voice)

The Holy Spirit has flooded my heart with God's love.

That is what happened to me on Sunday morning during worship in my church home.  I was flooded by the love that God has for me, that God has put in my life, that God has put in me for others.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Milestone - Lost Tooth

Teagan is a late bloomer - just like her mom.

I don't remember exactly but it may have been second grade before I lost my first tooth.  And I am pretty sure I was the last kid in my class to lose a tooth.

Teagan is in 2nd grade.  She is 2 weeks away from her 8th birthday.  Until this week, only 2 kids in her class hadn't lost their first tooth - Teagan and another little boy (who lost his first tooth at lunch on Weds).

Monday evening, Teagan bit into a cheese stick and realized that her tooth was loose.  Thursday morning, that tooth fell out on its own.

That's the facts only short story.

Here's the rest of the story.

Teagan's anxiety has taken a big uptick in the past couple of weeks.  At the flip of a switch, she will be in meltdown mode - sometimes intensely sad, sometimes incredibly angry.  The words that she finds to express her feelings come out in loops of jumbled emotions.  "I feel like everyone at school is perfect and there is soemthing wrong with my brain.  I feel like everyone at school knows something I don't.  I feel like they don't see me the way I see me."

We created a Worry Box.  If she is worried about something, she can write it down, put it in the box, and when she wakes in the morning, her worry will be gone.  It's worked great for other kids.  Not for my kid.

We have great concern about one of her friendships since a lot of the anxiety and trouble tends to somehow involve this other girl.  But we can't make her friendships for her, only try to guide her in how to make her best choices.  We do encourage her to keep other friends in mind, to walk away from this girl, to focus on friendships where she feels good about herself.  We try to teach her that how she feels on the inside when she is with someone will help her know if that person is a good friend, if she is able to be a good friend to them.

I have even incorporated some homeopathic things to help with anxiety and stress - Bach's Rescue Remedy and some essential oils/aromatherapy.  Even if these just end up providing her with a psychosomatic positive response, I'm ok with that.  The aromatherapy is a blend of essential oils that we put on her wrists, like a roller ball perfume.  Last night, I went to check on her before I went to bed.  She was starting to get restless and upset in her sleep.  I gently said "Remember to smell your wrist" and moved her wrist to her nose... and she inhaled and relaxed.

When she discovered her tooth was finally loose, there was a moment of excitement on her face and then it turned into tears and upset because she "didn't know it was going to hurt!"

But when that tooth came out on Thursday morning with no pulling, no pain, no issues... she BEAMED.  I could see this level of anxiety lift off of her.  There were tears of relief.  There was a huge smile that wouldn't leave her face.

She had been feeling like she was "less than" because she hadn't lost a tooth yet.

She had been scared of loosing this tooth because it might hurt, the experience was unknown.

She had been feeling like everyone else already knew what it was like to lose a tooth and have the tooth fairy come and visit.

She had been feeling like she wasn't as "grown up" as her friends.

She's has separation anxiety when it comes to spending the night away from home.  With one family, her friend is very supportive and understanding.  With another family (one where we don't know the family as well), the friend gets angry with Teagan, the little brother makes fun of her... and I think having not lost a tooth and not being able to spend the night away from home has left Teagan feeling like "a baby."

I've been focusing on finding ways to provide a lot of positive affirmation for my daughter.  She likes to push limits and have extreme emotions so it is often challenging to parent her because I feel like the interactions are more often negative and disciplinary instead of fun and loving.  But I'm trying to stay focused on positive, loving, fun interactions.

This "first tooth lost" milestone is about way more than losing a tooth.  I didn't realize how much anxiety and negative emotion my daughter was holding in that tiny little tooth.  She holds in all of her emotions until they bubble over in fits of anger or sadness or meanness.  I don't think she can yet find the words for what she is feeling and why and how those feelings impact her choices, her experiences.

And I guess that's one of the great challenges of parenting.  Guiding our kids through that first lost tooth and realizing how much more it really means.