Life with Ladybug: Embrace the MOMent

Life with Ladybug logo

By Shannon Magsam, Ladybug’s mama

“Mom, you have GOT to watch this TED talk! It’s called Embrace the Shake! It’s amazing.”

I immediately starting singing Shake it Off! Shake it off! and doing a little car dance.

youtube artFor that, I got the look. The kind of look that only a newly minted 13-year-old can give you. I’d just picked her up after school and she couldn’t wait for me to see this TED talk. She’d seen it in language arts class that day and it was apparently ah-mazing.

After swinging by Sonic for a snack, we settled in at home to watch Embrace the Shake. The talk grabbed my attention from the very beginning.

Even so, when Ladybug clicked the button to make the video show in “full screen” I balked. I had planned on checking my email over in the corner as we watched it on my work computer.

But with the video full screen, that’s all I could see.

That’s ALL I COULD SEE.

I was immediately reminded that I’m awful at living in the moment. I constantly frustrate myself by thinking about work when I’m trying to play or enjoy family time. The curse of the work-at-home mom?

After Ladybug clicked on full screen, I made myself stop worrying about my email and I stopped trying to multi-task (I KNOW multi-tasking’s bad and researchers say you might as well be smoking pot when you try to do more than one thing at a time. DUDE). I actually sat back and just watched.

I’m glad I did. Embrace the Shake was inspirational and my girl and I were having a MOMENT. I let those moments pass by way too often. I’m always on the run, always thinking ahead to what’s next, not what’s now.

It’s like my mind is one of those TVs where you can watch multiple shows at once in little squares on the edges of the main event.

I want to turn those little side shows off more often. I want to go full screen and live in the moment more. Those little Mom Moments I can never get back.

I wrote a note and put it on my desk as a reminder. It says: “FULL SCREEN. Embrace the MOMent!”

Now I’d love for you to watch Embrace the Shake because it really is amazing. Be sure to enjoy it full screen for the full effect. As with everything in life :)

Click here to watch Embrace the Shake on the TED website.

Shannon headshot, peach USE THISShannon Magsam is co-founder of nwaMotherlode.com and nwaMomProm.com. She’s married to an awesome newspaperman and they have a fun-loving, artsy teen (officially!) who loves watching tv with them and drawing cats. If you have a question for Shannon, send it to mamas@nwamotherlode.com or leave a comment here.

Life with Ladybug: Horses, cabins, friends, no leashes

candle polaroid

By Shannon Magsam

When we talked about what Ladybug wanted to do for her 13th birthday, she expressed a sentiment that I could relate to: “Mom, I just want to be off the leash for a little while.”

Baby, I understand.

Sometimes I feel tethered to my computer, my iPhone, the dirty dishes in the sink. Since I work from home, paid work is always staring me in the face and so is the unpaid housework.

So we made our escape over the weekend. We traveled to a little ranch just outside Alpena (Arkansas) to hang out in a cozy cabin and ride horses. We took a few of Ladybug’s closest friends to help celebrate the transition from 12-year-old to teen.

On Saturday, the birthday girl, her dad, her friends, and her mama saddled up for a trail ride.

As I breathed in the smell of my dusty horse, I remembered that it’s one of my most favorite scents ever. Yes, I love the smell of Bath & Body Works blue spa lotion and chocolate chip cookies as they’re being lifted out of the oven, but to smell a horse grounds me and pulls me up to my happy place by the roots.

I was always a horse girl. My grandmother used to tell me about the day she looked out the kitchen window and saw me sitting atop a large stallion. I had lured him over to the septic tank and jumped on. I had no fear. The beast didn’t mind the light weight of my 4-year-old self, but my Nannie still felt panicked. I can almost hear her praying as she walked up, very slowly, and pulled me down from the horse.

Ladybug also has a way with horses. When we were at the Rockin’ Z Ranch she rode a dark horse named Pistol. She was a natural. She really wanted to gallop, but knew it would make her friends’ horses gallop, too. So she just trotted occasionally on our hour-long trail ride.

Ladybug on pistol

When we made it back to the ranch, she and Pistol kept going while everyone else’s steeds were being unsaddled and unbridled. She urged her horse to go, go, go and she rode him with such ease a passerby wouldn’t have known it had probably been about two years since she’d been on a horse.

It took a while, but we eventually pried the birthday girl and her friends away from the main house – which was difficult since it’s populated with a herd of goats, some sweet dogs, lots and lots of horses and a few cantankerous miniature ponies. It was getting dark, so the friendly ranch owner, Steve, set us up with an outdoor campfire. We roasted hot dogs and toasted marshmallows for s’mores.

We pretended we were roughing it, even though we’d stocked up with snack food of every sort, had the warmth of a gas heater, and slept with blankets and pillows on soft beds.

After the girls had gone up to their loft bedroom to listen to music (too loudly, but we were out in the middle of the woods and weren’t bothering any neighbors), my husband and I chatted and got some reading in. How often have we had time to really talk lately? Or read more than a chapter in one sitting?

rockin zOn Sunday morning, I cooked a pound of bacon and other breakfast food. The girls played a few more hands of Uno at the kitchen table before heading out to take a walk. They headed down to visit the animals at the main house and we drove down to meet them shortly.

We said goodbye to Steve, his super-kind wife, Karen, and two of their six children (the others are in college or otherwise living on their own). We said goodbye to all the livestock (including lots of cows and several adorable calves) and piled into the getaway car.

On the drive home, the girls reminisced about their weekend.

One summed it up: “Horses. Cabin. Ranch. Dance party.”

I added: “Billy goat (he thought hard about ramming our vehicle the first time we drove down to the ranch and he chased the girls into the vehicle on the way out on Sunday. They might have provoked him. Probably.). Uno (who knew how fiercely competitive 13-year-old girls could be while playing Uno at 1 a.m.?).

I looked back at my daughter and also added (silently): “Unleashed.”

Shannon close up, peachShannon Magsam is co-founder of nwaMotherlode.com and nwaMomProm.com. She’s married to an awesome newspaperman and they have a fun-loving, artsy teen (officially!) who loves watching tv with them and drawing cats. If you have a question for Shannon, send it to mamas@nwamotherlode.com or leave a comment here.

Life with Ladybug: 7 strategies to keep you from twisting your t(w)eenager’s head off

By Shannon Magsam, Ladybug’s mama

That headline is a joke, of course. I’d never hurt my kid – and neither would you — but sometimes my preshus snowflake can give me a certain look or say just the most crazy (ungrateful) things …

If you’re like me, you might find yourself in need of some, shall we say, strategies to help make it through those moments.

Here are some strategies I’ve used (sometimes daily, let’s be honest) to remain sane in the midst of a teen/mom confrontation:

ladybug in frameLook at old baby pictures. Stare about those round rosy cheeks, those sweet rosebud lips. Place a few of your favorites around the house strategically so you can gaze intently at them while channeling Mother Theresa. The nostalgia should be enough to pull you through those few seconds/minutes/hours of outrage.

I hung some of my daughter’s baby pictures in the hallway right outside her bedroom. There’s also one in the living room from when she was about four years old. Wasn’t that baby girl so sweet back then? She’s still in there. The contents may have shifted, but she’s still in there.

Breathe in and out while thinking: hormones. As the Jewish Proverb reminds us: “A mother understands what a child does not say.”

Sometimes the hormones and the stress of life can make them a little crazy. Be assured that your kids are kind and considerate to others, while saving the crazy for you. Because you’re a soft place to land. (Think: Mommy Mattress.)

Think back to how you acted when you were his/her age and ponder this word: payback. Your own mother will likely not gloat openly, but you can bet there’s a small part of her (inside) that’s snickering.

But seriously, this is a phase.

You did/said/acted some of these same way. And admit it: you were worse.

Find something to laugh about. For me, it’s usually the pets who throw me a bone when I need to focus on something funny. Our big poodle, two cats and two chickens are typically acting ridiculous, so they serve as a helpful distraction. Laughing can bring a hostility down a few notches.

IGNORE. Seriously, I sometimes pretend not to see an eye roll, hear a growl or feel the woosh of a door as it closes very, very fast. We can’t react to every single thing.

It’s ok to let them blow off steam a little. Moms do it, too. Where do you think they learned it?

Don’t worst-case-scenario things. Just because you have a little parent/kid dust-up doesn’t mean your relationship is crap and things will never be the same. Repeat after me: She will soon come out of her room, act as if nothing happened, and will ask what’s for dinner. This is normal.

Teens sometimes have a force field around themselves (when it comes to their parents) because they’re trying to separate from us. We eventually want them to leave the nest and be productive citizens, so this is a good thing. Even if it really, really feels awful sometimes.

Listen. With a closed mouth. This one may be the hardest one to do, but it will help you stay sane because it might actually lead to your kid talking it out (instead of reacting negatively to your reaction). If your kid talks it out, you might actually have a good conversation and you’ll get a peek inside your kid’s brain.

You might even be able to help them with a problem. Which will make both of you feel better.

None of these will work every time (don’t I know it), but maybe one of the seven strategies will cross your mind the next time your t(w)eenager really pushes your buttons.

Peace out, mamas.

Shannon close up, peachShannon Magsam is co-founder of nwaMotherlode.com and nwaMomProm.com. She’s married to an awesome newspaper guy and they have a fun-loving, artsy tween who loves watching tv with them and drawing cats. If you have a question for Shannon, send it to mamas@nwamotherlode.com or leave a comment here.

Life with Ladybug: Why I don’t want a DVR

By Shannon Magsam

flashMy daughter and I weren’t home on Tuesday night, so we didn’t get to watch the mid-season finale of our show, The Flash.

But we can’t plan our lives around when Barry Allen will be running super fast and saving citizens of Central City at 7 p.m. on Tuesday nights on the CW, can we? Or maybe we can.

A DVR would help, my friends keep telling me.

Yep, it’s true: I don’t have a DVR.

And I admit I feel kinda backward not having one.

But the truth is I secretly like watching shows in “real time” when I know tons of other people are watching, too. It’s a collective social experience. It reminds me of when my family would gather around the TV to watch one of just a handful of shows a week, because we only had three stations and you watched when they came on – or you missed them.

On Sunday nights when I was a kid, we’d watch the Magical World of Disney movie. My mom always cooked amazing dinners, but on Sunday nights she and my dad would have steak and the kids would have frozen pizza on TV trays. All was right with the world when I was eating frozen pizza with my siblings while watching the newest Disney movie.

And here’s another plus about watching a TV show in “real time”: No Spoilers. You don’t have to worry about someone telling you how it ended the next day at work or school.

I remember when I was about 8 and the movie Black Beauty was going to be shown on television. We didn’t have a color TV, but my favorite book was Black Beauty and I couldn’t wait to see it. My mom decided she HAD to get a color TV so I could watch it. I can still remember playing in the big box the TV came in that day and the amazing movie in vivid color that night. It felt cool knowing so many people across the country were seeing the same amazing images as me RIGHT THEN.

wizard of ozRemember when the Wizard of Oz came on once a year and it was an EVENT? You didn’t miss it. Same thing with the Sound of Music around the holidays. We don’t have those kinds of gather-round-the-TV moments these days and it’s a little sad to me.

The closest we’ve come is live musicals The Sound of Music (with Carrie Underwood) and, most recently, Peter Pan.

There’s another (in my opinion, very compelling) reason not to have a DVR: I don’t want to have a backlog of shows to watch. It’s just too  much pressure to have all those characters just “waiting” for me to watch them. I don’t need that!

Now, there are obviously a few reasons a DVR would be great. I could watch The Flash episode I missed (although I’m sure we’ll be able to find in on the CW) and I could skip commercials.

I always hated sitting through those tampon commercials with my dad while we watched a TV show together as a family. And these days, the commercials are WAY more embarrassing, like the one for “E.D.”. “…ask your doctor if you’re healthy enough for sexual activity.” So you have a question now, almost 13-year-old daughter?

For now, as much as I’d love to skip the commercials, I think I’ll hold off on getting that DVR. If I miss a show, it will be my loss as it was back in the day. Or I’ll figure out a way to be home when it comes on the first time.

So if I say I need to rush home — quick as a flash! –to watch “my show”? Don’t DVR judge me.

shan, blue dress, circleShannon Magsam is co-founder of nwaMotherlode.com and nwaMomProm.com. She’s married to an awesome newspaper guy and they have a fun-loving, artsy tween who loves watching tv with them and drawing cats. If you have a question for Shannon, send it to mamas@nwamotherlode.com or leave a comment here.

Life with Ladybug: The downside of mom blogging

By Shannon Magsam, Ladybug’s mama

Ladybug drawing among the daffodils (about the time I started blogging about her)

As you know, the name of this blog is Life with Ladybug.

Except lately, I really don’t write as much about my life with my daughter, code name Ladybug.

I’ve been writing Life posts since my little lady(bug) was in kindergarten, but she’s almost 13 now and doesn’t want the world wide web knowing about private conversations or most embarrassing moments.

As the child of a mom blogger, she often asks, “You’re not gonna write about that, are you?!”

For the past year or so, I’ve tried extra hard to respectful and discreet, writing around the edges of our life together, not going straight for the heart. I weigh every deep interaction, wondering if she’d be OK with me writing about it – or using it on the radio show Gwen and I do over at Magic. Usually I think: no.

I also try to leave her friends out of the mix, since they’re also struggling with their own tweenager identities and could be embarrassed by something I say. But I want to be real, and that means talking about my real mama struggles. These are new waters I’m wading and I’m trying to stay upright.

I know lots of other parenting bloggers experienced this same dilemma before me, when their kids came of age. At some point, it feels like it’s not your story to tell anymore. Our kids are separating from their parents, creating their own stories.

Lately, when I talk about the big things in her life, I share them from my perspective. How I feel about her turning 13 or having trouble in the sixth grade. I read and re-read my words and study the story from every angle, trying to determine whether it might make her cringe if she happens to read it.

I don’t write detailed accounts about that adorable thing she just told me — or that grown-up question she just asked. (EEEEK!! Seriously, lately we’re experiencing “the awkward word of the week” around here. It’s like Sesame Street for tweens! But I’m so glad she’s still coming to me for answers. Wait. Was that TMI? Too Much Middle-Schooler Information?)

have i everNow that Ladybug is older, I also think about the possibility of her future employers reading what I’ve written about her. I blew the kid’s mind the other day when I pointed out that her very own children will someday be able to read the social media comments and blog posts she writes between now and then.

Imagine that.

And what if, after my sweet only has her own children, she peppers a few posts on her blog with cooky anecdotes about dear old mom? I can tell you, the idea of that really makes me want to be as discreet as possible while she moves through the teen years.

“Do unto others” is a phrase that comes to mind.

My husband and I are always joking with Ladybug that she should pay attention to how nice we are to her right now so that when we’re old and doddering she’ll be as nice to us. We’re paying it forward, honey. Remember that.

shan, blue dress, circleShannon Magsam is mama to Ladybug (a salty/sweet tween girl obsessed with superheroes and unicorns), wife to newspaperman/entrepreneur John, and is the co-founder of nwaMotherlode.com

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