Saturday, May 24, 2014

Change is Good

When you’re a new mom, especially for the first time, those first few months of your infant's life seem to last forever. Literally. When you are sleep deprived and up to your eyeballs in dirty diapers and burp cloths you absolutely cannot imagine life beyond the immediate demands of a newborn.

Somehow you survive those early months and transition into the next challenging phase of parenthood; toddlers. Temper tantrums, time outs and potty training take a relentless toll on moms. It is only with a steeled determination to survive that we approach each day hoping, fingers crossed, that we'll make it across the finish line that is bedtime.

Blink and it's the first day of kindergarten, the day that mother's weep in awe wondering how it is that the longest five years of their lives have passed so quickly.

And it doesn't stop. School days lead to teenagers, which precedes driver's licenses, graduation, college and empty nests. This is the way it is.

Gloria Ruben, author of the Happiness Project says this about parenting; “The days are long and the years are short”. I'm not sure if truer words have ever been spoken.

As a mother who’s bore witness to the many seasons, and subsequent challenges, of parenting I can attest; time moves on, our hearts will never be prepared and yet, somehow it's all okay.

I often find it amazing that we humans despise change so much for our entire lives and even our environment is in consistent transition. We age, the planet spins, seasons come and go as do jobs, houses and even relationships.

I hope, the older I get, the more open I am to change. I've recently discovered that when I stop fighting against change I'm freer to appreciate the memories as they are unfolding. Unfortunately, this understanding may only come with age. I think that's why experienced mothers tend to encourage the newer moms to cherish the early years. I now understand what that change means.

When I was a young mom I remember despising words of encouragement about the future. It was unfathomable back then to think I might miss the hard work parenting young children requires. When you're in the throes of discipline and laundry and field trips you can only see what needs to happen today, so much so that we fail to notice the future creeping in.

Bifocals = change
It wasn't my fault though. I could only see as far as my eyes could see. Back then, there was only time before me. Now, I've noticed (with the help of my new bifocals) that there is time behind me as well.

I think change is good for us. It keeps us on our toes, creates opportunities for gratitude and makes memories. Perhaps, instead of despising the future or mourning the past, we should learn to accept change and therefore be free to live and love in the moment. Collect moments, remember them and create them because parenting, like anything, will change. Enjoy it while it lasts. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so. That's why.

For 18 years Stephanie Sikorski has been a Parent Educator joyfully serving local families and providing early childhood activities. But like all things, jobs change and this is her last submission to the Review Atlas. She wants to extend a heartfelt thanks to the staff who have allowed her space and the readers who have supported her work. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Sweet Bouquet

My house is littered this post Mother’s Day weekend with hand picked bouquets and crayon cards of adoration. It’s simple and it’s sweet. It’s also age appropriate. However, I have since discovered that not everyone feels the same way.

I watched recently as my children entered school one morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, when a classmate joined the line with a fistful of dandelions. Proudly he presented his bouquet to his teacher. She graciously accepted the gift, patted his head and walked her class down the hall.
I smiled at the gesture until a parent leaned towards me, having witnessed the same gesture, and said, “I never accept dandelions! I mean it sounds harsh but kids have to learn they are really weeds. Right?"

I was appalled.

You see here’s the great thing about children: they are children, innocent and full of life. Children are so trusting and simple. They have the ability we’ve long lost as adults – to see the beauty in something so common.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Greatest Enigma of them all: Motherhood

It has been said that motherhood is the most rewarding role in which a woman can embark. It is also simultaneously the worst. It is exhilarating and exhausting. It is both seasonal and everlasting.
Motherhood is one of the world's greatest enigmas.Click to tweet!

Here’s a confession; mothers are a great army of pretenders; but it's not an indulgence. Secretly we hate the charade but it’s a hazard of the job as appearing inept either involves social services or worse, risks mutiny from our children. Either way the truth is most of us work very hard to appear suited for the motherhood.
If you overhear a mother talking about her struggles take heed because you are in the company of bravery. Moms who speak of their struggles do so out of desperation and exhaustion. Be kind to them because parenting can be awful. I know because parenting involves potty training. Sadly it is easier to train a puppy to pee on the newspaper than it is to cajole, bribe and trick a two year old to relieve himself while sitting down.

Don’t even get me started on the temper tantrums, food jags, math homework, curfews and driver’s permits.

Sometimes, rarely, we moms accomplish something and it makes us feel triumphant. Which is a rare, good feeling we should hold on to for as long as possible. Certainly once you believe you've arrived at success a new phase hits and you’re mortified to find yourself back at the beginning. Then sometimes, you cry in the shower because you realize really, you’re utterly ill equipped. Or is that just me?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Menu Monday

I hope you enjoy taking a peak into my kitchen today!

All my dinner's are made with "real" food, adhering to a strict budget & usually come together in a snap.

Even if you're not a menu planner, I hope some of the recipes will encourage you to bring your family around the table.

It's a busy, demanding world out there..... putting it all on hold so I can sit in the presence of my loved ones makes all the prep, planning and cooking worth it.

Here's what the Tribe is eating. Enjoy! Click to tweet

SUNDAY BRUNCH - Hootinany Pancake (with 4 ingredients you just HAVE to try this delish dish!), sausage & fried apples
SUNDAY DINNER - Stroganoff (so easy when you have leftover roast! optional: saute mushrooms & onions & add your 2 favorite cream of ___ soup & heat through, add sour cream just before serving. serve over mashed potatoes/egg noodles/toast)
Mexican MONDAY - Taco Bar (which included everything you imagine but instead of chips I offered tator tots for those of us who wanted Tat-chos)
'Talian TUESDAY - White Cheese & Chicken Lasagna (so, so good but I did make ahead of time!) with Six Sisters Cheesy Garlic Texas Toast
WEDNESDAY -  Roast from Stockpiling Moms, Mashed Potatoes, Corn Casserole & Roasted Carrots
THURSDAY - Chicken Fried Rice (easy just save leftover chicken from last week's Italian Chicken)
FRIDAY - (at the ball park) Chili Dogs, Potato Chips & Sugar Cookie Bars
SATURDAY BREAKFAST - French Toast (I love this recipe w Texas Toast, strawberries optional)
SATRUDAY- Grilled Sausage, Southern Fried Red Potatoes, Asparagus (except I broil mine) & Pasta Salad

Also, if you love the idea of Menu Monday be sure to check out OrgJunkie! She has the biggest link up I've found!

Follow all my Tribe-approved recipes on my Recipe Box Board on Pinterest!
Follow Stephanie Sikorski's board For My Recipe Box on Pinterest.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Rose is a Rose. A Person is a Person.

(This article originally appears as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting series for The Daily Review Atlas) All week, everywhere I turned all I heard all about was the NBA Clippers owner Don Sterling. And for a lady who’s interest in sports is limited to my expected attendance at my children’s various events, I was quite annoyed.

Usually I’m vaguely aware of most news headlines. I prefer to focus my energies on keeping my own little corner of the world as drama free as possible. Truthfully, I barely have time to watch the daily weather report but even I couldn't avoid hearing about the racial firestorm Mr. Sterling started with his conversation with V. Stiviano. 
image from

In case you’re unaware, Sterling was recorded telling his girlfriend (presumably ex now) that he does not want her bringing "black people" to his basketball games. Incidentally, the woman to which he is speaking is black and Mexican. But that’s not all. The recording goes as the two discuss Sterling's request that Stiviano not publicize the company she keeps on her Instagram account.

By the way, I love Instagram. In fact, it's one of my favorite apps on my smartphone. I enjoy browsing photos from near and far and typically it’s what keeps me entertained as I wait every afternoon to pick up my daughter from school.

This is precisely what I was doing recently, windows rolled down, enjoying a freak bout of warm springlike weather when I heard the school bell ring. I looked up from my phone to scan the bulging crowd of students scurrying towards freedom hoping to get home quickly because I was longing for my yoga pants and a cold glass of iced tea.

Disappointed I didn't see my child, but committed to remaining patient, I went back to perusing photos of the Eiffel Tower, the London Underground and Rome (a girl can dream, can't she?). That is until I overheard a disheartening combination of shouting and laughing.

My heart sank as I observed a group of cajoling boys across the street. A tease was going on. A group of kids were trailing behind a set of boys calling out horrible names, accusations of sucking male body parts and demands to learn, and I quote, “American”.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

God is an Author (Italy Presentation 3)

I have been sharing in pieces (read the Intro here & here) parts of my presentation from the EMERGENCE women's conference I attended in Bari, Italy earlier this year. 

Here, the presentation continues with my belief that evidence exists pointing to the fact that God is an author. 

Which is pretty cool since I'm totally into learning about story & story elements. Heck, it's even why I titled my blog To Write a Better Story. 

I believe story to be very important. In fact, it might be the MOST important form of communication. 
We tell stories over coffee.
Book and movies are stories.
I call my friends and tell them a story about my day/my kids/my job.
That's a story.
I write, here on this blog, stories.
Everywhere, anywhere we communicate you'll find story.

It's been this way since the beginning of time.
In fact, I think God invented story. I even looked for a verse to prove my point. I found that Hebrews 12:2 refers to Jesus Christ as the author of our faith. And if one conveniently referenced scripture isn't enough, think about the first line written in the book of Genesis; "In the beginning ..." It totally reminds me of "Once upon a time". Then page after page, the book is chock-full of stories.

I looked up the definition of author. An author is someone who has an original idea or plan.
Is God the first one to ever record a story? Well, as the creator of time (and fish and birds and water and the moon, but not in that order) and characters (Adam & Eve, of course) He created an opportunity for a story!
So story has existed since the beginning.
And story still lives on today!
I'm writing a story now.
I told a story in Italy.
Story transcends time. It grows and snowballs. It gets retold. It exists and lives and breathes and transforms and inspires. God then, may have created this world to be the very location where the most beautiful love story of all eternity could take place.
Perhaps that's why in all the stories we love we can identify a delicately woven, common thread of hope and sacrifice.

Didn't sisters Elsa and Anna show us that true love, even in the midst of a frozen curse, is sacrifice?
But we knew that from Aslan and Les Miserables, Romeo and Juliet and the Crimson Tide swimmer who just days ago held up a basement wall so his fiance could survive a deadly tornado outbreak in Alabama.

These are all stories born out of the great story He is telling. What a miraculous and beautiful reminder of God's everlasting love for you. It means He set a story in motion that winds down through the ages, in different characters and in different decades to remind us of the power of love and hope.

This is good news! Since we can trust He is the same forevermore, I can conclude that if He had the foresight to invent and tell the first story, that today He continues to write. In addition, if He WAS a good author than He STILL IS a good author.
And if He's writing a story then He could be writing MY story now.

Stories communicate. Stories bind. Stories teach. Stories entertain.
Stories are pivitol.
And a good story, a good page turning, can't put the book down story, is what I desire for all the days of my life.
I used to have no idea what I was asking for when I said I want to live a great story. Now I've studied story elements and man! Whew! Boy was I in for a lesson in character, scene, plot twists and resolutions.

But more on that next time! Stay tuned!

If you'd like to read my presentation "Your story; Is it Being Written the Way You Hoped?" in order it's (to date in 3 parts)
The Struggle
and today's entry God is an Author
I'm honored that you would read them. When I'm done (& if I'm brave enough at the conclusion of my Italy entries I'll post the recording of the event on the blog)!

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