Minnesota Mamaleh: Crabby- Bad, Gratitude- Good

Anyone else afraid for the teenage years at our house?!

Kayli hasn’t been herself lately. My candy-coated girl has been tired. Crabby. And hungry.
I mentioned these not-so-subtle changes to Jason as we were doing morning bustle. Coffee. Keys. Lunches. Shoes. Hats. Mittens. Layers. So. Many. Layers.
I was absentmindedly chit chatting, venting really, so I almost missed his response: Sounds familiar. I stopped short and stared at him blankly, so he went on: You’ve been tired and crabby lately, too. He stayed away from hungry. Smart, smart man.
And while my instincts might have been to get all sorts of fired up and start WWIII with my dear, sweet lovable husband, I didn’t.
I know— I can hardly believe it either.
Because I know that he’s right. I have been all of those things that shall now not be named; overwhelmed by the too many commitments that I’ve taken on. And clearly, the best way to get all of that stress under control is to think about it. All the time.
No. It’s not.


The best way to get out of my rut is to refocus and recenter and quite literally force myself to SEE the good stuff that’s all around me. Because once I SEE it, I will begin to FEEL it, too.
Early morning snuggles. Little dog, big bone. Dance parties. Kids falling asleep together. Giggles. Rosy cheeks. Pink heart marshmallows in their hot chocolate. Kahlua in mine. Piano music. Our home. Our family.
Seeing the magic in the everyday. Taking stock of all that I have. Breathing it in. And seeing, knowing, feeling, that I am so very lucky.
That’s what gratitude is all about.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and this red and pink-candy and chocolate-hugs and kisses-cards and kindness favorite holiday of mine is an absolutely FABULOUS time to teach my children, and to remind myself, about GRATITUDE.
The Hebrew term for gratitude is hakarat hatov, which means, “recognizing the good.” Practicing gratitude means recognizing the good that is already yours.
How amazingly wonderful-warm your heart up RIGHT NOW is that? I’ve learned this lesson before. In fact, I’ve learned it overandoverandoveragain. But sometimes we all need a sweet nothing reminder. Or a swift kick in the butt. Either one.
And seeing my girl  mirror image my own sullen-ness? Was my very own custom made reminder. It’s time to refocus.
Last year for Valentine’s Day Jason and I gave the girls Gratitude Journals. Yes, they were more for Kayli, who was just beginning to stretch her writing muscles. No, I couldn’t bring myself to leave Chloe out, who in my Mama eyes was just turning from a toddler to a kid. And yes, I did thoughtlessly skip buying one for Brody who was still then, and probably always will be, The Baby. Don’t judge.
We aptly called these journals “Love Books.” Again, don’t judge.

The Love Book (Anyone else humming "The Love Boat" right now? You're so welcome!)

The first page reads: "I love baking cookies with mommy." Love her.

Kayli loves Louie. About six months BEFORE we got him.

Once a day the girls and I sat together all official with their books and my markers and they told me what their love of the moment was while I helped them write and draw and Eeek about it.
It was simple. And fun. And so, so very sweet. It brought us together, focusing on the positive.
Admittedly, we don’t write together everyday anymore. Like many wonderful traditions that we start and have high hopes for, the Love Books get pushed to the side when life gets in the way. Dance class. Homework. Play dates. Outings. Messy house. Laundry. So. Much. Laundry.
But the books are a wonderful resource to come full circle to. As a fun activity. And as a reminder of how very good we have it. Because refocusing is a skill that I want for my children. And a finer tuned version of it for myself.
I obviously need to do due diligence and talk to my girl. Dig a little bit deeper to make sure that the crabbiness is only stemmed in being oh-so-very-almost seven.
And I also want to make sure that I’m practicing what I’m preaching and documenting my own gratitude. I suppose, in many ways, blogging serves as my gratitude sieve. I don’t have a small book that I can crack open and feel the smooth pages between my fingers. But I do have pages to scroll through. Words to read. Pictures to gaze at. And enough nostalgia to keep me teary eyed (in a good way) for a long, long time. And I need to share that goodness, that sieve, that gratitude with my kids.

She's a keeper. Even if she does love Winter.

For our family, I’m hoping that refocusing on gratitude, hakarat hatov, will ground us again. Make us less crabby with each other. More connected. And help us feel all of the little things that make our days so breathtakingly wonderful. Perhaps, it’ll help us all…wait for it…feel the love.

And just in time for Valentine’s Day– perfect!
Happy Valentine’s Day to you, friends! I hope that your day is bright and positive and filled with all things that are lovely and good and kind and chocolate. Never forget the chocolate.