To Each His Or Her Own Journey

Now that Halloween is over, I have been seeing a certain video being shared on my Facebook newsfeed. You may already be familiar with it, the latest video by Jimmy Kimmel showing the reactions of children who have been told their hard earned Halloween candy has been given away. On the opposite spectrum, I’ve also seen lots of posts in various parenting groups I’m a part of regarding the disbelief and disgust that such a video was made, let alone shared on social media. I can empathize with both sides of the story though, because I have actually been on both sides.

As a mother who follows RIE parenting principles, which is based on respect and trust, I am also now disheartened every time I see a video that exploits children in such a way. I admit however, that I didn’t always feel this way. I am completely guilty of watching Jimmy’s first video, laughing, and <gasp> even sharing it. Yup. That was a time when I was still living in NYC, not yet pregnant, and childless. I hadn’t yet begun my research into peaceful parenting, so like the majority of American culture, I didn’t understand the depth behind a child’s intense feelings and emotions. So I get it, and can empathize with the urge to laugh and share such videos. Some of the children’s surprisingly mature responses I still find endearing today.

If you’re a bit confused as to why this video is up for debate, let me briefly explain. Candy to a child, who has worked so hard for by dressing up, going door-to-door, reciting “trick-or-treat” for two hours, and staying up past his or her bedtime, is a very, very valuable commodity. Being told it was given away without their permission by the people they trust most, their parents, is the same as if your own parents came to your house and told you they gave away your most prized possession that you worked so hard for, like your week’s paycheck that you worked overtime for. On top of that, they filmed your reaction and put it on the internet for the world to see, laugh at, and share. Does that seem very nice? Not really.

Parents are often quick to ask a child who does something undesirable, “How would you like it if someone did that to you?” Us parents should be the ones asking that question to ourselves when we say, share, or post embarrassing situations of our children to the public. It takes years, 18 to be exact, to be considered an adult, so why do we expect children to have and understand adult emotions and feelings? Most adults still can’t properly process their own emotions and feelings. I see it all over social media on a daily basis when people post overly-emotional information regarding their personal life.

This happens in all aspects of life though. For example, I happen to choose to eat organic food whenever possible. I, again, didn’t always think this way though. As a child, I was the pickiest eater who refused to eat any cooked vegetables; except maybe corn. They had to be raw, and they had to have ranch. If someone would have told me that within a decade, I would eat pretty much anything and be rather health conscious, I would have scoffed at you and rolled my eyes like a hormonal teenage girl is often known to do; and continued eating my fast food, fountain soda, and candy bar.

Once I “saw the light” and began eating healthier and learning more about the poison that can be put in our food, I wanted to tell the whole world and thought everyone should know and follow. I began preaching to my friends and family, causing some of them to either scoff at me or feel bad about their own choices. Well, that wasn’t very nice of me was it? I would also get really upset that some people couldn’t grasp or understand how important it is to choose a healthier lifestyle.

I finally learned, however, that we never truly grow up. Just like toddlers, if you force someone to do or hear something one isn’t prepared for, he or she will more often than not, reject it. Adults are just like children, in this aspect. If you push too hard, we push back. We have to be ready to accept change. I am still realizing that if I just focus on my own life, and simply live by example, people who are interested in hearing what I have to say about a certain subject, will eventually inquire about it. Once a person is open to and interested in an idea, he or she will always seek out more information.

Hindsight is always 20/20; or at least it should be. But it’s so easy to judge a person or get upset by someone who has not yet received that hindsight. It’s not worth our time and energy to get upset about things or people we cannot change, or who are not yet open to that change. It’s also way too easy to get upset or defensive when we find out something we personally did or thought, wasn’t the best decision or correct way of thinking. This is something I have personally always struggled with. I get very easily embarrassed, and have an extremely hard time earning up to my own truth.

If you’re reading this and feeling guilty about your reaction to the videos, please don’t beat yourself up about it. I was there once too. We all are on this journey to see the light, and some are further along than others in different aspects of life. Find empathy and compassion in your heart for those who are still learning, even when it’s yourself. Remember, when we know better, we do better.

Baby with ball of light

Guatemala – La Segunda Parte (Part Two)

If you didn’t get the chance to read my first post on our trip to Guatemala, you can do so by clicking here.

Last time I traveled to Guatemala, I didn’t get to really experience much of life outside the orphanage, other than taking the younger children to the children’s museum and for lunch at Pollo Campero, which was totally fine and still an unforgettable experience. This trip however, we traveled about an hour and a half by van to visit Antigua, the oldest city in Guatemala.

Driving through Guatemala is when it really sinks in just how fortunate we are in the US. Our impoverished areas, although heartbreaking, are still nicer and safer than how the majority live in developing countries. It is so inspiring to see how hard they work, for basically nothing, and are relatively happy. There is no unemployment or welfare to live off of. They work their asses off just to survive. Period. It often makes me wonder what our country would be like if we had that sort of accountability and responsibility.Guatemalan Woman Guatemalan woman carrying on her head

Truck Trailer Half way there our van began to overheat. Jorge, our driver and Madre Ivonne’s brother, had us all get out while he lifted the front seats up to reveal a smoking engine. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly concerned. Eventually it cooled down enough for us to be on our way. Some missionaries had to use the bathroom so a generous neighbor let them in their hut to use their toilet, which I heard was literally a hole in the ground. We were then able to take the older children and teenagers on a field trip to the beautiful Jade Museum. Missionaries waiting for van to cool down Missionaries waiting for van to cool downEntrance to the Jade MuseumJade MuseumJade Museum Recycling at the Jade Museum Bench at the Jade Museum Jade MuseumJade MuseumAfterwards we were able to treat them to ice cream and enjoy some entertainment in the park. Mayan women with their babies walked around selling handmade items, while we happened to become quite the tourist attraction. All the blondes and Fr. Daniel were asked to be in random people’s photos!Ice Cream Shop in Guatemala Ice Cream Shop in Guatemala Antigua Mayans Tourists in AntiguaWe had to part ways with the older children and teenagers so they could resume their school day back home, so we headed to a coffee farm for some delicious lunch, and afterwards did some shopping at the local market for souvenirs. Jorge assured us the particular market he was taking us to was full of handcrafted items in Guatemala, not China, and they had a good working relationship with these people.

Then he took us to the neatest little ice cream shoppe I’ve ever been to. Not only did it have delectable flavors like black bean, cheese, and guava, but the inside was decorated beautifully with antiques and handmade items. We sure were glad we held off getting ice cream earlier. What a treat!

On our way home we had to give the van some time to cool down again to ensure we made it home safely, so we stopped at a shop that had all sorts of beautiful artwork and furniture made by local artists.

Guatemalan coffee farm

Guatemalan Fare

Guatemalan Ice Cream Shop

Guatemalan Ice Cream Shop

Guatemalan Ice Cream Shop

Guatemalan Ice Cream Shop

Guatemalan Ice Cream ShopGuatemalan Ice Cream ShopGuatemalan Artisian ShopGuatemalan Artisian ShopGuatemalan Artisian Shop That was such an enjoyable day out, and am so glad my team and I got to experience it, broken down van and all. It is so important when traveling to new places, especially places of a different culture, to emerge ourselves into their daily life as much as possible. It is the only way we truly grow and have understanding, empathy, and compassion for different ways of life and thinking.

Stay tuned for Guatemala – La Tercera Parte!

How Not to Pose for Your Passport Photo

We’re preparing for our missions trip to Guatemala this spring, and Big Guy needs his first passport. Instead of paying up to $15 to get his photo taken elsewhere, I figured like most things around this household, I could easily do it myself. All I needed was a white or off-white background. What I didn’t realize was how difficult it would be to get a photo of him with a neutral facial expression!

I took a bunch of photos, and thought I had the perfect one. I went to upload it to the travel site to make sure I had the correct dimensions and positioning, and realized he was not supposed to be smiling, and we didn’t have enough time to risk it getting rejected. So alas, we had to keep trying until it was “perfect”. This morning when filing the application, the really nice clerk at the Post Office told us, and I paraphrase, they would have accepted a photo of him smiling, they are usually more lenient with children. I am surprised at what they let slide and what they don’t though. One time this little girl took the cutest photo, but because her head was tilted to the side, they rejected it.

Yea, I’m still glad I didn’t risk it.

The “out-takes” were just too sweet not to share though. How not to pose for your passport photo…

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Birthday Brunch

This past weekend we hosted brunch for my parents birthday’s, both of which are in February, but one year apart. They were on vacation during my mother’s birthday, so this was the first opportunity we had for the family to all get together. If you know me or my husband personally, then you know that he owns and I help run an event production company in NYC, so we love to host parties.

Happy Birthday ChalkboardCopyright Anna Zoe LLC

While we were waiting for the food to be ready, it was all about the grandchildren of course. My nephews are just the sweetest. We don’t have regular TV (only Apple TV, so pretty much just Netflix or what we can get to load on the computer) nor many toys for older children since Big Guy is only 7 months, so they were forced to improvise. Children never disappoint with their creative minds when there aren’t electronics to distract them! On second thought, we do have a Wii we inherited from Matt’s office, but our forgetting we even have it available shows how much we use it. We do have a set of Lincoln Logs that were given as a gift for when Big Guy is older that they were able to put to good use. They did bring their own toy cars and trucks. Those boys and their vehicles!

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Eventually, however, the most popular “toys” became:

1) Jumping on our bed. They know they can do it ever since they did it for our family photoshoot back in November.

2) Throwing around Big Guy’s set of sensory balls.

3) Stacking our homemade monogrammed wood coasters.

4) Drawing on the chalkboard.

5) Curling up in Kona’s dog beds.

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I had every intention of taking photos of the delicious(if I do say so myself) spread, and totally forgot. I prepared a salad with dried cranberries, goat cheese, and almond slices dressed with olive oil, lemon, and freshly cracked sea salt and pepper. The night before I prepped everything for a western ham and egg casserole that I was able to just throw in the oven an hour before we were ready to eat. I also prepped a fruit salad the night before consisting of blood oranges, kumquats, kiwi, and champagne mango, dressed in a little fresh lime juice and maple syrup. So, here are some remnants…

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And, of course there was cake! My brother and sister-in-law brought a yummy ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. I haven’t had one in years, and haven’t even had any ice cream since the first week Big Guy was born when I found out that lactose unfortunately affected him! The boys all helped blow out the candles. Too precious. Please don’t mind my dying succulents. I am afraid to admit how many succulents I have successfully killed. Plants that grow in the cracks of sidewalks, die in my home. I have grand plans to try planting wheat grass next.

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My parents always do so much for us, so we got them a gift of those awesome Spring Floats by SwimWays to use in their pool this summer. I got the idea last summer during the blistering heat when I was nine months pregnant and could do nothing but lay like a walrus in their pool but had forgotten my own float. They’re awesome floats because you’re able to sunbathe but still be in the water at the same time and not get overheated. The boys, of course, helped open the bag.

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And last but not least, I had to get some photos of the hosts! One day I will get a smiling photo of Big Guy and myself that isn’t either blurry, a selfie, or a blurry selfie. I love you anyways hon. It’s the smiling baby that’s most important, right?

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Happy Birthday Mom and Dad! We love you.