The Daily Grind of Life on the Edge of Living

10276558_10152136056348992_1825844190_nTwo years ago, we walked Ted out of UCLA hospital after a surgery to remove brain tissue that was believed to be the cause of his lifetime of seizure activity. Surgery was a traumatic experience for me as his mother. I was terrified. And today, when I look at this photo, I see the smile of happiness, anticipation,  excitement in his eyes. I see the sweet demeanor working so fervently to peek through the temporary flattened affect that frontal lobe surgeries can cause. While those images remind me that he is better than he was two years ago, I am also quite clear that we are far from where I want to be.

“Any idiot can face a crisis. It is this day-to-day living that wears you out.” – Anton Chekhov

I’ve been thinking about this quote recently. It was a guiding mantra for me during his surgery. Oddly enough, I’m encouraged by the simplicity of the complicated things in life. Maybe it’s my dad’s voice in my head? Or my pragmatic, Kansas upbringing. Anton’s succinct reminder is that there’s really no choice but to fight and move forward, despite the seemingly overwhelming circumstances in a crisis.

Well, Ted is having part of his brain removed today. Yup. Nothing to it but to do it!

Having your child hospitalized or undergoing brain surgery or open-heart surgery is just  like that. It’s a crisis. You kiss him on the forehead before he’s wheeled back to face the team of doctors, waiting to make their play at making his life better. A few hours (or several) later, you are summoned to recovery to kiss him again. This time, you kiss him on the bandages that are tightly wrapped to compress the healing wound. And then you wait.

You wait for the next nurse to check another beeping machine. You wait for the team to make their rounds. You wait for the doctor to remind you that you also need to sleep. You wait for him to begin to show those first signs of recovery. Whether you like it or not, the crisis evolves to the next stage of no-longer-a-crisis. Whether you are ready or not, life moves on. You do your best. But the window of crisis is small and thankfully, fleeting.

1010976_10201129096378946_1284581286_n

Two years ago, after the initial window of post-surgical crisis was closed and curtained, I realized how deeply I wanted Ted to be “better”. It’s taken me these past two years to truly understand what I have been looking for in “better”. As Anton reminds us, this day-to-day living wears you out. Having a child with a chronic illness or lifelong condition is a bit like facing a crisis. A crisis every day, that is. EVERY DAMN DAY.

Every morning when I wake up, I listen for Ted. Despite having his tonsils and adenoids removed many years ago, he still snores softly. For me, it’s a sound that reassures me that he is alive. Ted’s condition increases greatly his chances of dying from SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death from Epilepsy). His risk of dying is highest at night. He is at risk of dying every night. So you can imagine that no sound is sweeter to me than the sound of my son’s snoring!

So, what I’m describing here is that I make my way through crisis every morning. By the time I’ve poured my coffee, I’ve already seen what I hope is the worst of my day. Most days I’m okay. Some days, my tears pour as thickly as my coffee. This day-to-day living really does wear me out. And the crisis part of the day-to-day, I suppose, is what allows me to get over it all and move on. At least until the next morning.

But what is it that I want for Ted? I want him to be seizure-free, yes. I want him to continue to grow and develop and improve his cognitive ability that has been barraged by 16 years of epileptic activity. I want him to have meaningful relationships with friends and family. I want him to have work that he is excited and proud to do. Above all, I want him to live. This is the important goal. I want the risk of death to decrease and disappear. I want my son to live.

10348640_10152121263946444_1635363610082840376_n

Unfortunately, my sister faces a similar journey tonight. Her son was hit by a car today. While it’s a miracle that he is alive, his little body full of fractures, lacerations, bleeding, and acute trauma. He has a long road of recovery before he’s back on the pitcher’s mound. The odds are with him. He has a strong will and an even stronger mother behind him. My sweet sister. I want nothing more than to scoop her up and tell her it will all be okay. But I can’t. I can’t because even I know that this may appear a crisis to others, but to us mothers, this is the crisis of day-to-day living.

Life is so short, considering all that we pack into it. It’s no wonder that we cling to tightly to each day. And we cling even tighter to the illusion of control over the lives that our children live. Yes, it’s biological that we would do everything in our power to ensure their survival. But, there’s only so much we can control. All we can do is show up, do our best, and accept that there are things out of our control, including brain lesions and speeding cars. 11426240_10153079969873992_5468293588372826986_n

Happy New Year!

Looking forward to the new year, most of us experience some form of anticipation. We set goals and get excited about our new routines of health and wellness. We promise to do things we have always wanted to do. We clean literal and figurative closets and throw out what is broken, mismatched, or just doesn’t fit anymore. There’s a sense of shedding to make room for growth, to crumple up what is done and start fresh.

We give ourselves permission to start over and do better.

It’s exciting.

“You should be like a farmer: the day he sows, he is not happy thinking of the future harvest, he is happy to have planted well and to have sown well.” – B.K.S. Iyengar

When I look back on 2015, I am thankful. Thankful for practice. Thankful for family and friends. Thankful for health and happiness. But mostly, I’m thankful for putting in the work. I’m sure the harvest of 2016 will reflect what we planted in 2015. It will be interesting to see what unfolds. But I’m happy to have another year ahead for more planting and sowing. I am happy to have another year ahead to put my head down and work.42.jpg

Life is good.

Cheers to you all for what you’ve done and what you plan to do. As you look ahead to the new year, I encourage you to also look back at what you’ve done. Be happy to have done well.

Happy New Year!

Grace? Don’t Make Me Laugh!

Just the other day, I was talking to a friend who is adjusting to life as her husband recuperates from a stroke. Yikes! As you can imagine, she was overwhelmed. She was navigating the ins and outs of supporting her husband’s recovery, relearning how to cook with a new and more restrictive diet, and somewhere amidst it all, her two young girls were looking for their mommy to feed them, hug them, and nourish their souls. But all that my sweet friend wanted to do was curl up and cry. Who can blame her!

I certainly can’t blame her at all!

But here’s the punch line in our brief conversation via text message… Looking for answers, inspiration, or maybe just a fleck of hope, she asked me how I handled my own life with such Grace.

Wait. Grace?

IMG_1618

Ha! I’m still laughing. Grace. Seriously, I’m crying in fits of laughter.

You see, I’ve been working for 15 years on Grace. Maybe it’s been 41 years. Who’s counting, anyway?

When our son was diagnosed with Infantile Spasms at 6 months old, Grace wasn’t even part of my vocabulary. The tears pouring down my face, my eyes poured over medical texts, research, test results, anecdotal stories from other parents, and everything I could find about how to help my son. The tears never dried, they just ran out. The feelings of pain, helplessness, guilt, fear, anger, never gave way to Grace or patience or hope back then. They raged, waxing and waning, as my energy levels would allow. But oh, they raged on.

Years went by. My son experienced reprieves from constant seizures only to have another wave of neurological trauma crash over him and the rest of us. There were good days even happy moments when the days were darkest. Joy was messy. Never clean cut. And never long-lasting.

But eventually, I began to find joy in those good days. His first words, his first arm farts, his absolute love of running, jumping, and pounding anything into whatever he could; it was all a joy to see and to experience firsthand as the mother of the boy they said would never talk, never walk, never attend school, and never find what we know as a normal childhood.

Some days were bad. Very, very bad. His second birthday when he had his first tonic seizure and lost consciousness. The night his friend slept over only to awaken with Ted mid-seizure convulsing having fallen out of bed. The day we met with his teachers only to discover how little they understood about his condition. Everyday I see his eyes heavy with neuro-fatigue, his speech slowed, and his head shifting to the side is a bad day.

Those days bring my blood to boil. Anger, hopelessness, sadness, exhaustion.  Yes, I can say wholeheartedly that Grace was never part of my operating procedure. Not even once.

So, what is it that my sweet friend sees that she thinks is Grace? (Still, I’m laughing at this thought!)

If I really think hard about it…

She sees me laugh. She sees me hug and kiss my kids (and every baby that crosses my path). She sees me putting dinner on the table for my family and then opening my door to many more friends. She sees me making jokes, dancing, and chasing toddlers while making monster noises. She sees me charting course to pursue my own dreams. She sees me hold my husband’s hand, everyday tighter than we used to hold each other because we’ve worked hard to be better to each other. She sees me clean (okay, that’s a lie. She only sees that my house is clean because I’ve hired someone!) She sees me read. She sees me write. She sees me play. She sees me work. She sees me living life.

And she sees me smile. Often the smile is accompanied by a glimmer in my eye. Is it sadness? Sometimes it’s hope. Fatigue is always a good bet. But there are moments of joy.

There are many moments of joy.

So maybe Grace is simply the act of living. The beauty of which is seen only when the act of living is pure, unplanned, honest, and yes… messy.

Yes, I think that’s my Grace. Messy but pure. Unplanned but honest. It’s real. And its value comes from the tarnish not necessarily the polish. Its beauty from the moments of joy that are strung together and broken apart then pieced together over and over and over again.

This is my Grace. And I’m thankful she sees it.

Yoga in Paradise, Anyone?

What are you doing in the new year? Join Kisa for a winter escape from January 25-31, 2016 and start your year with a fresh perspective in the lush practice space of Selva Armonia Retreat Center in Uvita, Costa Rica!

Explore the Practice and Possibilities of Yoga during this 6-day exotic retreat. Dig deep, explore, befriend, and connect to the true nature of yourself with daily asana, practical philosophy, and pranayama teachings. Outside of practice, take time to enjoy the natural and relaxing ambiance of the area.selva

Yoga is a practical practice – accessible by everyone and laden with possibilities to explore and discover the true nature of our selves. What possibilities will you find with your practice?

WHAT TO EXPECT:  A yoga practice that is based on a desire to understand and befriend, rather than assume or achieve is a powerful tool for self-enquiry. When we step on our mats ready to embrace vulnerability, explore the discipline and detachment of practice, and passionately pursue the truth of who we are, we are practicing yoga. With practice, possibilities are revealed.

This retreat is open to those with a sincere curiosity and a desire to know more about themselves and the possibilities that are revealed with a dedicated practice.

Kisa uses a playful, encouraging approach to explore movement, mind and the challenges presented when we look deeper into ourselves. During the week, we will meet with new poses, examine familiar poses, and see what possibilities unfold with the practice.

RETREAT INCLUDES:  Round-trip airport ground transportation (SJO to Selve), 6 nights of luxury accommodations, full service vegan cuisine (all meals provided throughout retreat), twice daily yoga/pranayama/meditation practices, and more!

PRICING:  $1700 after January 1, 2016 ($1550 Early Bird pricing) *Does not include airfare.

TO REGISTER: Pay Online, Call 406-752-7244, or Email kisa@theyogaroomofmontana.com

Paradise, here we come!

A Break to End All Breaks

I planned for months that week of sun and sand, swimsuits and sundresses, rest and relaxation. Maybe it doesn’t sound relaxing to take a family vacation to Puerto Vallarta with four teenagers, but it was my dream. I wanted to dig my toes in the hot sand, paddle board in the ocean, and quench my thirst with pina coladas. beach babies

The process to unwind would take a few days. I knew this going into the vacation. And, I knew that I needed rest. So I was willing and prepared to go through the process of unwinding. Much like I teach my students in Savasana.

Ah yes, Savasana. It’s often misunderstood and commonly avoided. While most of us look forward to lying down and resting our bodies after an asana practice, few people are ever interested in actually practicing the pose. We pretend to let go, maybe we sleep or dance between the dreams and waking. Rarely do we practice Savasana. Much like we rarely ever take a vacation. A real vacation.  A vacation from schedules, checking in, problem-solving, doing, trying, winning, losing, feeling, thinking, being anything other than what is in front of us at that moment.

That was my intention for this vacation. Go somewhere and let go. Just do nothing. People gave us suggestions for where to go, what to do, what to see, where to eat. I never intended to do anything other than wake up, sit in the sand, and see what happens. Truly, I was looking for Savasana.
And let me tell you. Savasana is hard to do.

On the first day we arrived, we checked into the condo and slipped into swimsuits. The rooftop pool was already bustling with happy hour guests. They swam, chatted, and admired the setting sun. My husband found a chair, tipped his hat over his eyes and quickly fell asleep. The kids dove into the pool and began their endless game of Marco Polo. And me? I tried it all. First I sat, then I swam, then I laid on the warm tiles surrounding the pool. I listened to the birds, the surf, and the chatterings of the social hour. I closed my eyes. I opened my eyes. I began reading my book. I closed my book. The spiral of anxiety over what not to do was mounting.

This is just like Savasana, I thought. Great. This is going to be more difficult than I thought.

I’ve always thought it was cute when yoga teachers describe and teach Savasana. Admittedly, I’m no better at teaching the enigmatic posture. But, when I hear descriptions like, “Savasana is a time to let go. It’s a time to absorb the benefits of your practice. Savasana asks us to surrender completely our ego. Savasana is about letting go and being present. Let go of tension, thoughts, distractions, and memories…” Well, I have to chuckle a little. Is anyone actually doing it? Or rather, is anyone really not doing?

But there I was on Day 1 of a 7 day vacation in Mexico with my family. I had to figure it out.

In the words of BKS Iyengar, “By remaining motionless for some time and keeping the mind still while you are fully conscious, you learn to relax. This conscious relaxation invigorates and refreshes both body and mind. But it is much harder to keep the mind than the body still. Therefore, this apparently easy posture is one of the most difficult to master.”

The next morning, I woke at 5AM in a panic. My jaw ached from clenching all night. My heart was racing. The sticky sea air was still cool. So, I began to practice. I breathed in and out. I softened my eyes, throat, and belly. I let go of the grip at the base of my skull. I relaxed my jaw. Or at least I tried to relax my jaw. I pulled in and let go of the thoughts that scattered in my mind. The kids. The bills. The coffee. Did we have any? The sand. Could I keep the condo clean? Let go. Let go. Let go. Just breathe. Breathe.

And I thought of my favorite Samuel Beckett quote:

“Try again.
Fail again.
No matter.
Try again.
Fail again.
Fail better.”

The practice of relaxing, vacationing, being in Savasana went on for a few days. Okay, let’s be honest. I practiced vacationing the entire span of my trip. Some days I looked to the ocean to help me relax. Some days, the pina coladas did the trick. Mostly, I tried again and failed again and then failed better.  I can’t say that I ever really vacationed in the ideal sense. I tried.

On the last morning, I pulled out my journal and reflected on the week. What happened, what did I learn, did I experience any marked transformation of any kind, etc. I couldn’t think of anything remarkable that had happened or any epiphanies that I experienced. I only had the sense that this was something that I needed to practice more often. I needed to vacation more. I needed to practice Savasana.

Over breakfast with my husband on that last day, I asked if he was ready to be home. He said, “Yes. It’s too hard for me to relax. I don’t think I’m cut out for this vacation thing.”

I smiled.

“Yes, I know. Vacations are hard to do.”

Maybe we’ll try again next year.

Hiking is Overrated

My kids were young when we first moved to Montana. I was thrilled at the prospect of getting them out of the city and into the woods. I read Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods (an excellent read for city-dwelling parents to feel completely inadequate, on a side note); and, I made preparations for teaching my children all about the outdoors. I dug out my Girl Scout manuals and reviewed knot-tying, how to work a compass, and even dusted off my hiking boots. I was ready to show my children just how beautiful the natural world could be. 

On our third day in Montana, we ventured out for our first hike. Lone Pine State Park was a quick trip from our new digs in Kalispell and it seemed harmless enough for my kids’ first hike. Joe had just turned four, Stella and Ricky were 5, and Ted was 7. Easy peasy. This short hike would be the beginning of a new life in The Great Outdoors! 

Six hours, twelve bandaids, one bee sting, and four crying kids later, I began to rethink my grand plans.

I tried again a few days later and then once more just to be sure. It became evident that my children did not like hiking. They didn’t like trails, learning about trees, leaves, water sources, or anything involving dirt. I gave up and decided to look again at the library hours and then perhaps a trip to the movie theatre, and I sent the kids into the yard to play. 

Sometime thereafter, Stella and Ricky ran into the house asking for sandwiches and some string or rope or something to tie sticks. I obliged and sent them on their way. But curiosity led me to follow them. What on earth were they doing?

I followed them behind the condo, through the empty field, into a stand of trees. Lo and behold, they built a fort. Sticks, rocks, branches – everything they could find. They worked together, they learned to tie knots, they figured out which branches were stronger and which could be easily bent and tied together. Best of all, they were laughing.

Experts agree that play is an important part of child development. They weigh in often about the appropriate and inappropriate amount of screen time, as well as how and when children should be engaged in various forms of exercise. But what few experts talk about openly is the importance of “free play” for children. This is particularly important when it comes to playing in the outdoors. Play is critical. 

Play fosters creativity, social interactions, and forces children to discover the natural consequences of actions. There was a failure-success experience for my children when they figured out how to tie together the branches to form a make-shift doorway on their fort. Play is so important that the American Academy of Pediatrics says that it is “essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them to manage stress and become resilient.” 

Experts also agree that outdoor activities are essential to connect our children to the natural world. A connection with nature as a young child gives a sense of belonging in the world and gives reference to education in the natural sciences, physics, math, and the like. But just like a playground offers a different outdoor experience than an open field, a directed hike through the woods deprives children of the opportunity and responsibility to use their own senses, reflections, and intellect to engage with the world. 

So what does that mean for us Montana parents who want to share the outdoors with their children? Nothing. Keep doing what you are doing. But in the back of your mind, remind yourself how you discovered what you know now about rocks and trees and leaves and dirt and animals. Remind yourself how you learned to climb a tree, skip rocks, and make forts. Was it because your mother showed you? Or was it your brother? Your cousin? Your friend?

20140303-192044.jpg

Yes, I want my children to eventually learn the beauty of the natural world – mountains, rivers, trails, trees, insects, plants, animal tracks, and more. But the most important skill I want them to learn is how to discover – the world and themselves.

Then maybe I will have done my job.

Creativity from Within… a Diaper.

The best part of my oldest son’s personality is his love of life. Everyday is an opportunity for a party in Ted’s world. He loves people, he loves laughing, and he loves living life to its fullest. On paper, that’s exactly what we want to say about our children. In reality, that personality trait in a child will run you ragged. Trust me.

Years ago, I put sweet Ted in his toddler bed for his afternoon nap. Most days, he was happy to curl up with a story and his blankie. His eyelids would become slow and heavy. Eventually he would fall asleep. That day, there was no heaviness in his eyelids, no slowness to his breathing, and no quiet anywhere in his room. He laughed loudly, begging for another round of Goodnight Moon. Finally, I left him with a kiss on the forehead and the book to read on his own. “Sshhhh, Teddy. It’s time for quiet. Stay in your bed and rest for a bit.” He nodded and smiled sweetly.

It took about an hour for him to settle down, but eventually I could hear him talking softly to himself and clearly taking “quiet time” to himself. So I peeked into his room.

Oh. My.

When I cracked open the door, I could see Ted standing on his bed leaning against the wall. It looked very much like he was painting or swiping the wall with something. And then, the smell hit me.

Oh. My.

I opened the door in a flurry of confusion and concern (mostly for my carpet and walls, mind you).   And sure enough, Ted had slipped off his diaper and managed to use the contents as finger paints for a mural on his wall. “See! Mama, see!”

Oh. My.

Steve Jobs once said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while”.

Clearly, Ted had tapped into his creative side that afternoon. And while I mourned the loss of my pristine walls and untainted carpet, I was immediately transfixed and suspended in a state of confusion. Ted was so happy and so proud of himself for his “work of art”. How could I, as his loving mother, condemn his masterpiece?

Oh. My.

Cultivating creativity in children can be less disturbing and more encouraging, if we put some effort and thought into it as parents. That smelly afternoon took me down a new path with all of my children. I knew that day that I had a responsibility to do better for them. Creativity is cultivated by freedom and stifled by continuous monitoring, direction and pressure to conform. In the real world, there are few questions that have one right answer. And fewer problems that have one right solution. Cultivating creativity in children makes for a better world and is crucial to the success of our species.

What can we do as parents to cultivate creativity?

1. Tell Stories. Maybe you read books or retell stories told to you. For my kids, they love reenactments and retellings of my life history. They even love hearing the stories behind the most mundane of household chores. My daughter’s favorite is how Grandma Annie taught me a slick way to peel hardboiled eggs.

2. Get Messy. Play in the mud. Stomp in a puddle. Fingerpaint. (Dirty diapers optional.)

3. Play. Really, just play.

4. Ask Questions. Lots of questions. Open-ended questions are best. “Why is that horse swatting his tail? Why do stars shine? What do you think our puppy is thinking about when he hears your voice?” Let them think, discover, and hypothesize without your know-it-all interjections.

5. Set the Scene. A big part of our job as parents is to make sure that our children’s environment is set up for them to thrive. Think of setting up a tank for a pet snake. Something to climb on, something to hide under, and some water to drink. For kids, it could be paints and paper, music and instruments, or just free time in their busy schedule to daydream.

6. Put Away the Clown Suit. I’m often quoted by even my own children saying, “My job is to keep you healthy and safe. That’s it.” In other words, I’m not a circus clown. Kids don’t actually need us to entertain them. If given the opportunity, they can be quite entertaining on their own!

7. Let Them Decide. When kids have to make decisions, they actually sharpen cognitive skills in problem-solving. If they are young, you can give them a choice. “Would you like to read Dr. Seuss or Jack Kerouac?” As they mature, let them make decisions about what they will do, how they will do it, or when they will do it. Parents should always retain the right to veto, but at least we can give them the experience of making a decision.

8. Lose Track. Turn them loose in the house or the yard or the park and see what happens. Obviously, you are still responsible for protecting your children from harmful people, places, and things. But what would they do if they had the freedom to safely explore?

In the end, cultivating creativity in our children is an essential responsibility. This can be a difficult task given an aversion to emergency room visits or a propensity toward clean carpets. But, it’s clearly as important for the development of healthy, productive adults as any nutritional, educational, or moral aspect of parenting.

One final word to the wise, crayons and fingerpaints are always easier to clean up than a dirty diaper.

20140206-152754.jpg

Sonata

Moonlight waltzes in
Between the sighs and short whispers
Of love and fear and hope.

Soft keys play but not like the children
When the light is soft and waning.
It hangs heavy. And lingers.

But it speaks. Not in a language
Of words or actions or gestures or sound 
That is ever heard aloud.

Deep within, it penetrates and haunts
Even the rooms that were locked.
The dance consumes.

As dawn arrives with full intention,
The song of the moon penetrates.
Deeper and fuller than ever before.

Gettin’ Gritty!

Teddy Boy 2002

When my oldest son was a toddler, the odds were against him. Doctors painted grim pictures of Ted’s future because of the seizures that attacked him multiple times per day. As most parents would, we went to great lengths to give him what we thought needed to learn to play and live like any other toddling boy. We scheduled an array of therapy sessions, learned sign language, encouraged him to jump and run and stack blocks and put together puzzles. We set high expectations.

By four, Ted was two years seizure-free and developing better than his doctors predicted. One hot summer day on the playground, he saw another boy make an arm-fart. The sun was shining and the trees rustling their thick manes of leaves. And Ted’s eyes glimmered in the awesome reflection of that boy’s arm-fart. I watched as Ted slowly slid his hand to his own armpit to cast his first line into the depths of body sounds. And then… nothing. Failure.

According to researchers, it is that kind of failure that should help our kids learn the keys to success. Some of history’s greatest accomplishments came only after disappointments. And yet, we all know that not everyone bounces back after failure. Angela Duckworth won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2013 for her research on “grit” – what she defines as a winning combination of goal directedness, motivation, self-control, and positive mindset. Grit, according to Duckworth, is a key factor in predicting success and more important than talent in many cases.

As parents, we see when our kids have Grit and we see when they give up. What can we do to help them cultivate Grit?

  • Start Early. When they cry as infants, we soothe. This soothing calms anxieties and develops the neural circuitry to learn to self-soothe and eventually self-regulate. As they get older, set reasonable limits and enforce them with empathy. “I know you want to eat 76 cookies. They are delicious. But two is all we are going to eat right now.” This will develop internal limits and teach resilience. Children have to be taught that they don’t always get what they want – and it’s okay.
  • Teach Them to Achieve Goals. Household chores are a great vehicle for goal achievement. Start with stacking books. Then picking up laundry. One step at a time, teach your kids how to size up a project, identify steps to achieve the goal, and how to deal with obstacles along the way. We use the same system for finishing a puzzle as toddlers to coach our kids in writing research papers as middle-schoolers.
  • Teach the Growth Mindset. Tell your children how it works. “So you want to arm-fart? All right, it’s going to take time to teach your brain to work your body to make those awful noises. With practice, your brain will learn. You have the ability to be smarter, stronger, and better at whatever you choose!”
  • Enjoy Their Joy. Find out what your kids are passionate about and be their number one fan! With your support in their passions, they will learn to persevere and succeed by facing the challenges, learning through failures, and experiencing success. Most importantly, your genuine care in their happiness will help them to develop an internal happiness that will help them stay the course in the face of disappointment.

winner ted

Thankfully for Ted, we are gritty parents. It took a full year of Ted trying to arm-fart. The day that first sound emerged from his hand and armpit is one of many proud moments. To this day, we use “The Year of the Arm Fart” as an example for our other kids and a reminder to Ted that he is capable of whatever goals he sets his mind to achieve. With Grit like that, the sky is the limit!