Love beats Fear

342 days of not yelling, 23 days of loving more to go

Dear Orange Rhinos,

Tonight I share a guest post written by a friend of mine, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela. While this post isn’t about yelling, per say, the take away is one that most definitely applies and well, it really inspired me and I just couldn’t help but share. Natalia teaches a class called intenSati in New York City that combines movement and affirmations – this year’s mantra is LOVE BEATS FEAR… this is MY YEAR! I read this post and immediately thought WOW, what mom doesn’t feel afraid? Gosh I can count the amount of times I have felt afraid on one hand, wait, I don’t have enough hands! I felt afraid when I realized one year ago that I yelled too much. I felt afraid when I decided I wanted to yell less and love more. I felt afraid when I thought I was the only mom that yelled too much. I felt afraid when I dropped my son off at Kindergarten. I felt afraid when my son started having seizures. Oh yes, fear is a friend of mine, both in my life as a person and as a mom. I share this guest post tonight because I know a lot of you are excited to join my “30 days to yelling less” project and because I know a lot of you are also AFRAID of the hard work, of the change. But I also know you love your kids. I hope this post will inspire to focus on your love for your kids and not your fears. Don’t let your fear hold you back from changing; instead let your love for your kids grow.

The Orange Rhino


Choose Love over Fear in 2013 by Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

“Everything happens for a reason,” the saying goes, and the same self-help culture that gives us that maxim has made it reflexive to respond to bad things by seeking “the lesson” or even “the perfection in every moment.” Clichéd as it’s become, this dogged commitment to find meaning in — or even gratitude for — adversity is probably a good thing, even if the quest for a “takeaway” from tough moments is occasionally only a temporary distraction from the drama.

I tried, like many parents and people, to make sense of the double-whammy fate dealt in late 2012: first the Krim family tragedy in which a Manhattan mother came home to find that her trusted nanny had brutally taken the lives of her two children, and then the Newtown shooting in which 20 young children lost their lives, many in the first-grade classroom of their suburban schoolhouse. Hurricane Sandy and the destruction it wrought in the intervening weeks added to the sense that tragedy, and random tragedy at that, was closing in on us, and fast.

The only message I could discern in these arbitrary and terrible acts was powerful, and hardly positive: Danger lurks everywhere. No one can be trusted. If my children are out of my sight, it’s entirely possible they are in mortal danger.

And what were the fruits of this lesson?

After the Krim murders, at work (at a job I love), at the gym (my indulgent “me” time), and every moment my children were out of sight, all I could think about was how they might be at risk. Each night, my hand shook as I opened the door and it wasn’t until I had them in my arms that I realized I had been holding my breath, terrified of what I might find. Then I would feel terrible for mistrusting our wonderful, caring nanny and hide my feelings with false humor… And the next day the cycle would start all over again, only slightly mitigated during the hours I felt my son was “safe” at preschool.

And then the Newtown shooting happened. With another “safe space” invaded, fear resurged. I’d sit at my computer and realize twenty minutes had passed in which all I had done is map out the danger zones in my son’s school and conjured various worst-case scenarios involving my children. I couldn’t wait for the holidays — a time when I usually jokingly gripe about lack of childcare — so I could have my little ones in my care 24/7. Then everything would be perfect, right?

Well… on the first night of our vacation, far from these incidents and the relentless coverage of the fear-mongering American media, I was preparing to bathe the kids after a jaunt in the hotel swimming pool. I was holding the baby and telling my son (repeatedly) to stop playing with a glass door as my husband showered. Then, standing right between his two watchful parents, my son slammed the door into the wall, shattering it into thousands of pieces and leaving him and my husband covered in blood and glass. My scariest mommy moment to date was mercifully short: the cuts didn’t even merit stitches, my son skied for the first time not two days later, and he now boasts about the ambulance ride to the spotless Alpine hospital in which he spent just one night. We are all still breathing sighs of relief.

Once again, I sought “the lesson,” since my assumption that my presence could fend off danger had shattered as readily as the door, and this time it was crystal clear: there are things to fear ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE. Our choice, however, is whether or not to let fear define our worldview. If we do, these anxieties will surely disfigure all our experiences, whether or not they “come true.” When we are fearful, it is inconceivable to engage with the world lovingly or happily. Anything beautiful – from a child’s independence to a peaceful workout to full engagement with one’s work – is impossible to appreciate if fear is constantly creeping in to whisper what tragedy might lie around the corner.

So in this month of resolutions, I have a modest proposal, but one that is already transforming my own experience of my children and my life. I am determined to choose love over fear, no matter what. I know I cannot safeguard my family completely, but I also know I can deliberately embrace uncertainty as representing possibility rather than peril. I know I can choose to be present in every moment, whether I am reading bedtime stories, writing, running, or doing the three-hands-and-heart-full juggle inherent to parenting young children. No matter what happens, I know that it is in my control to spend my time enjoying the beauty that is in my life already, rather than fearing that one day it will be wrested from me. And to me, that is the most important lesson of all.

“30 Days to Yelling Less” Project

341 days without yelling, 24 days of loving more to go!

****Today’s date is January 17th, 2013. Due to massive interest I will take names of additional people interested up until end of day Friday, January 18th. After that date please still email me and I will sign you up for the next go around if there is enough interest!****

Dear Orange Rhinos new and old,

I have a couple of big projects on my to-do list that I have been staring at for months. Months. The problem? I just can’t seem to get started. The projects feel daunting. I just don’t know what to do first so instead I do nothing, which makes me feel overwhelmed and well, I think you know how the cycle goes. It can be a tough cycle to break and sometimes I need my hubby, or mom or friend to break it for me. Sometimes, I just need help getting going and that almost always means I need help breaking the big scary projects down into smaller achievable tasks.

You know, an elephant once taught me on “Word World” that when you have a big word to spell, take things “Bit by Bit” and it all becomes easier. Oh what a wise elephant! I know I never would have gotten here to 341 days of not yelling if my family and friends hadn’t helped me break my Challenge down “Bit by Bit” in the early days. And I know that many of you want to start The Challenge but are intimidated by the enormity of it, by the stress of it, by the sheer commitment to it, by the 12 steps I shared (read here). But please, don’t let that hold you back.

Let me break down down this daunting task of learning not to yell for you. Let me help get you going on The Orange Rhino Challenge by walking you through the steps I followed bit-by-bit. Let me spread it out over 30 days and help you YELL LESS AND LOVE MORE.

Let me guide you through my “30 Days to Yelling Less and Loving More” project:

  • It officially starts this WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2013. The 30th day is Valentines’ Day!
  • The GOALS are to (1) help you learn to yell LESS and (2) help you get enough success and self-awareness that when the 30 days are over you have the confidence to keep going
  • To participate email me at by Tuesday night, January 15th, 10:00 EST.
  • Between now and then please share this with your friends…trust me, you need their support!
  • Every morning (EST) I will email all participants thoughts, quotes, or goals for the day, for example, Day 1: Think about what moment made you realize you needed to stop yelling. Day 2: How interested are you in changing? When the going gets tough, will you quit? (Don’t worry, we won’t just jump into not yelling right away. We will SLOWLY prepare for the practicing of not yelling first. This is the part no one takes time to do; this is the biggest help I think I can be to you, helping you do the groundwork so less yelling is easier.)
  • Every night I will post on my Facebook Page asking people to share what they learned or thought about that day. This is the key part – this is where we can all learn from each other and support each other. Most likely, this is where you will realize you are NOT ALONE.
  • As this is the first time I have ever done this, we will adjust how I help you accordingly!

The simple part is how this will work. The hard part is well, the work; it’s challenging ourselves to change. It’s accepting that you might have to look deep at yourself, not your kids, to stop yelling. Or more eloquently put:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl

Or as one of my favorite authors said:

Things do not change; we change.“ ~ Henry David Thoreau

Change is hard. It can be scary and intimidating. And changing a bad habit can be an out right pain the a*s. But this change is worth it. The upside is enormous: a more peaceful life, less mama guilt, a stronger, more trusting and loving relationship with your kids, greater self awareness, a lighter heart, or the list goes on and on. But don’t let me tell you what I’ve gained, go gain it all for yourself and tell me about how you are YELLING LESS AND LOVING MORE on February 14th, 2013.

YOU CAN DO THIS. You totally can do this. What are you waiting for? Email me!

Am I an expert who knows what the heck she is doing with this idea? NOPE. (Let me make sure I spelled that right. N.O.P.E.) But I am going to try my hardest to break learning not to yell into really easy, simple, steps. And I am going to keep all my fingers and toes crossed that it helps you. 

Screw it! I quit!

337 days of not yelling, 28 days of loving more to go!

Dear Yelling,

You had a very sexy appeal this morning. Oh were you so enticing! Life felt hard and you seemed so easy, like the perfect escape from the madness. But alas, sexy isn’t always better and I am glad I didn’t give in to your attempts to lure me back in.

The Orange Rhino


Today, I just wanted to say f*** it. Screw it. I don’t care. I don’t care about my promise to my boys. I don’t care about The Orange Rhino Challenge. I don’t care about yelling.

Today, I just wanted to SCREAM out loud. I wanted to yell at my son for asking “how are diggers made?” too many times. I wanted to yell at my other son for eating his breakfast too slowly. I wanted to yell at yet another son for spitting. And I wanted to yell at my sweet little baby for screaming all. morning. long. Today I just wanted to scream I can’t do this mothering thing, I can’t do this not yelling thing!

Yes today, this morning, all I wanted to do was scream. And honestly, I contemplated it because yelling would have been so much easier.  SO MUCH EASIER! It would have released some of the stress I am feeling. It would have stopped them in their tracks. It would have made their behavior halt…for at least 30 seconds.

But then the behavior would start again. Because it always does.  Yelling doesn’t stop behavior permanently, it doesn’t even teach new behavior. It’s just a very very small stop gap. The only change this morning when the behavior started up again would be that in addition to them doing their so-called annoying behavior I would be feeling guilty inside. Guilty that I lost it. Guilty that I didn’t find self control. Guilty that I yelled at them for no real reason at all.

And that mama guilt does me no good. It just makes me more stressed, more pre-occupied, more down. And right now, I so don’t need that! I don’t need the extra mental burden – it will just make it hard to get things done, it will make it hard to stay calm with the kiddos, and it will make it hard for my kiddos to stay calm because they will sense my mood and feed off of it, driving me bonkers and wanting to yell more.

So while yelling might seem easier, it really just makes everything HARDER.

Yelling does me no good.

So I told myself that this morning. Over and over and over again. I sounded like a broken record and I even wanted to scream at myself to shut up, but I didn’t care. I knew I couldn’t yell. I knew I didn’t want to yell. I knew yelling wasn’t an option so I did whatever I could to stay in check.

Was it hard? YES.
Was it exhausting? YES.
But was it ultimately easier than yelling? YES.
Will I be saying “yelling does me no good” all day today? YES

But again, it will keep me in check. And I need that because today, this week, I feel like I am in a giant pressure cooker. And this mama is just about cooked! This mama is just about to let out lots of steam with a big ‘ole yell. Not because of the kids but because of life.

So again, yes. Yes, I will tell myself  “yelling does me no good” all day. And when that wears on me I will spice it up with one of my other popular statements…

“I’m not mad at the boys, I’m just stressed out.”
“I don’t want to yell, I love my boys.”
“You can do this Orange Rhino.”
“Take a deep breath.”
“My boys aren’t stressing me out, life is.”



And of course, the one that makes me stop and laugh,
“You can’t yell, but you can pick your nose.”

Yes I will talk to myself all day with positive comments to keep me on track. Because it works. You might be thinking I’ve lost my mind. Or better yet you might be thinking, wow after 337 days she still has the urge to yell so what’s the point? The point is that life will always be stressful. Sometimes you can change it, sometimes you can’t. And sometimes kids will be the source of stress. Sometimes you can change that, sometimes you can’t. But what can always be changed is me. My reaction to stress. And while these 337 days haven’t made stress magically disappear, and they haven’t completely ridden me of the desire to yell, they have changed ME.

These 337 days have taught ME who to control my reaction to stress; how to keep myself in check so that I don’t unnecessarily unload it on my kids with an awful, gut-wrenching yell.  And that’s the point. I’ve changed. And I still firmly believe that you can too.


I survived the day. Even when my 6 year proclaimed “Mom!!! I am so mad at you that I am going to make you made at me and yell and ruin your blog!” I did talk to myself and after my son challenged me I went through my “Favorite Song Friday” blog posts and played every single song. Check ‘em out if you haven’t! The Fighter and Seasons of Love are my favorites…



My non-blog post, blog post

336 days without yelling, 29 days of loving more to go! 

Dear Orange Rhinos,

Tonight, I wanted to sit and write a deep, thoughtful post about the important of preparing for change. The importance of putting in effort even when you don’t want to.

Tonight, I wanted to sit and write up my plans for “30 days to yelling less” project that I spoke of on Facebook the other day. It will happen by the way. It will commence sometime next week and details will be forthcoming so that you have time to share them with friends.

Tonight, I wanted to sit and write about how sometimes my posts have nothing to do with yelling, but have more to do with me and my personal struggles and how that actually has everything to do with yelling.

Tonight I had lots of plans.

But none of them will get done tonight for two reasons.

1) I am exhausted and I need to go to bed!
2) I have other things to do.

As to being exhausted…I am physically and mentally and emotionally exhausted. #4 seems to be having new seizures of a different kind (read here) and as such we are off to the neurologist again. Can’t. Write. About. It. Just can’t. Can’t write about how I need to prepare for the doctor, how I need to write up questions and so forth so that I can maximize our visit. Can’t write about how scared I am of the epilepsy diagnosis. Can’t write about how scared I am that my son won’t be able to drive when he is 16 like his friends. Just can’t go there. Can’t write about all the insightful comparisons between preparing for doctors visits and learning not to yell because I just can’t think about it. Because I will cry. And the tears will most certainly ruin my new computer’s keyboard. And I can’t do that! And I can’t cry because well, I just don’t want to. Yet. And because once I start I know it will be a late night and it can’t be. I need to get to bed so I am “rested” enough to be the best mama I can be tomorrow! Lack of sleep = BIG trigger.

As to having things to do….I love blogging. I love The Orange Rhino Challenge. There is so much to love here, so much love that goes around, so much love to be had! And I want to write a “real” blog tonight for me, for all of you. BUT if I do write, and edit, and re-edit and edit again, and therefore ignore my never ending to-do list that I have pushed aside because I just don’t know where to start well then all I can say is: I WILL YELL tomorrow. And I don’t want to yell. Not just because of my challenge. But because I am a changed person and I don’t want my stress to get to me. I don’t want it to win! I want to be strong enough to acknowledge my triggers (lack of sleep and nagging to-do lists) and manage them. So I will tackle the list now so it doesn’t grow into a huge nagging problem and trigger.

So there you have it. I will do one thing on my to-do list and then snuggle into bed. I might cry there. It would be good to as bottled up emotions are also a trigger (read here). In the meanwhile, get ready for kicking off “30 days to yelling less” next Wednesday January 16th. The project will wrap up on Valentine’s Day, the day of love! I will spend 30 days dedicated to walking anyone who wants through the steps of not-yelling. I will break down the daunting task of changing and learning to yell less into 30 days. We will together, acknowledge our triggers and kick ’em in the a*s. Or at least learn how to manage them.

Like going to bed early.

Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite (or something like that),
The Orange Rhino

My husband’s honest opinion

335 days without yelling, 30 days of loving more to go!

Note: My husband wrote the following unbeknownst to me. I didn’t ask him to write it,  he just surprised me with it on our wedding anniversary as a nod to my upcoming 1 year anniversary of not yelling. I was floored and touched and so many other wonderful feelings too! I hope his insight into the impact of the challenge touches your hearts as well. And babe (that would be my husband) I can’t say thank you enough for this kind, loving gesture.


Dear Faithful Orange Rhino Readers,

This is a message from the Green Turtle (aka: The Orange Rhino’s Husband).  I am writing because the 1st year of the Orange Rhino challenge is coming to an end and I need your help to commemorate the year.  I could write endlessly about the positive effects of the Orange Rhino Challenge, however, I’m told these posts are best when kept short and sweet…and that my wife is incapable of the short part! So I’ll be brief for her. To that end…. The Orange Rhino Challenge has had a profound impact on many lives….

1) Our Household is different and better place because of the no yelling decree.   My incredible wife has not yelled (seriously).  I’ve taken the challenge more times than I can count.   Sadly, I haven’t gone more than 30 days without yelling.  Let’s face it, not yelling is HARD.   However, because of our commitment to replace ANGER and YELLING with LOVE and UNDERSTANDING the OR+GT household is a better, happier, more positive, place.

2) Our marriage is better.  Let’s face it, marriage is HARD.  However, because we created an environment of love and understanding we’ve also created an environment of COMMUNICATION, RESPECT and PATIENCE.   I can’t speak for anyone else, but replacing the negatives with the positives is wonder natural elixir.  The past 330+ days have been some of the best days of our marriage (honeymoon aside).

3) Your lives are better.   I don’t profess to know many members of the Orange Rhino Community.   However, on occasion, my wife shares a story about someone who has taken the challenge and has remarked about the positive improvements to their lives.   To me, that’s what the Orange Rhino Challenge is all about.  It’s not only about not yelling.  It’s about taking the best things in our lives (Spouse, Children, Friends, Love) and embracing these wonderful gifts.  It’s about not taking the EASY road and reverting to anger.  It’s about making a COMMITMENT to be a better person, to be a better parent, to be a better friend and a be a better spouse.  Many of you have embraced this challenge and stories & anecdotes indicate you’re happy you did it.

So, in conclusion, I am a proud member of the Orange Rhino Community and I am an incredibly proud husband of the woman who challenged all of us to replace ANGER with LOVE.

As this year comes to an end, I would like to do something to celebrate the success of the Orange Rhino and I  NEED YOUR HELP.  I am making a craft project of pictures, anecdotes and quotes from the past year.  If you have a something you want to share in celebration of the Orange Rhino Challenge would you send it to me?  I can be reached at     


The Green Turtle

I just want the truth.

334 days without yelling, 31 days of loving more to go!

Dear Crayola Washable Markers,

Nothing says lets get this Friday morning started like turning around and seeing one son’s door covered in bright yellow marker. Nothing says let’s test mom by finding one of her favorite washcloths and trying to wash the marker off. Nothing says “hey mom can you stay cool at 6 in the morning” if we leave the wet wash cloth on the floor AND leave the guilty marker right next to it so when you jump after stepping on the wet wash cloth you fall.  Yep, nothing says, good morning like all of the above and yet, I thank you for the “colorful” morning. No really, thanks. You may have really ticked me off but at least you further motivated me to not ever return to yelling at my boys. So for that, I thank you. For the extra work you created? Not so much.

Anywho, cheers!
The Orange Rhino


I picked up the marker and approached sons 1 and 2. Lucky for them, I had showered already that morning and was awake, refreshed and relaxed.

“Boys, who drew on the door?” I calmly asked.
“He did!
“No he did!”
“No really he did, and he drew on my wall, my blinds, my bed, my desk and my toys too!”

(Photo courtesy:

I SLOWLY opened the bedroom door. Sigh. The last statement was more than true. The once white, green, and blue room was now white, green, blue and neon yellow. Awesome. Really? Really either a 4 year old or a 6 year old thought that it would be okay to decorate with a marker? I was flabbergasted. I slowly and calmly opened my breath, praying that I didn’t scream. Praying that patience found me.

“Boys. I don’t care who did it, what I care about is the truth. I just want to know the truth. I won’t be angry if you tell me the truth. I’ll be angry if you lie.”

And that was the truth. I didn’t want to scream at either one of them. I just wanted to know the truth so that I could have a meaningful conversation with the artist and reinforce that we don’t draw on walls, that we draw on paper.

There was silence. I looked back and forth between both boys. Eyes watched me.

“Boys, I’m not going to yell.  I promise, I am not going to yell. I just want to know the truth.” I reiterated.

A quiet voice spoke.

“I did it. I’m sorry. I just well, I just, I don’t know why I did it.”

“Okay. Listen. That was not acceptable. You know we don’t color on the walls. Lets clean this up together.”

“Okay” he mumbled as he started cleaning with me.

And that was that. I stopped and think. Sh*t. Was I too lax? Should I have been harsher? Did I get my message across? Did my son get the point?

You know what, I believe he did get the point. He got it when he lost 5 minutes out of playtime because he had to clean. He got it just by looking at my face. And he got it when I spoke to him calmly and clearly; he certainly wouldn’t have gotten it if I had yelled.  But do you know what really mattered to me more than, did my son get the point, and phew, I didn’t yell? The fact that my son felt safe enough to tell me the truth even though he knew I was beyond angry.

I am not sure I could have said that pre-Orange Rhino Challenge. When I used to yell, I mean really yell, I made my boys scared of me; I made them scared to tell me the truth. But now, 332 days later, my son wasn’t scared that I would yell so he freely fessed up to his artistic endeavor. In all my six years of parenting and pondering what kind of mom I hoped to be, this was the first time I realized just how much I always want my boys to feel safe enough to tell me the truth, no matter how ugly it may be.

If my son hits someone at school because he was bullied…I want him to tell me the truth so I can help him.

If my son “borrows” a candy bar from Target…I want him to tell me the truth so I can teach him.

If my son gets in trouble in high school doing gosh only knows what and is scared…I want him to tell me the truth so that I can comfort him.

There are so many things I want to be able to do for my boys, both in good times and in bad. But the truth is that I can only do those things if we have a trusting and loving relationship.  The truth is, as I witnessed this morning, my best chance to do those things is if I keep on not yelling.


Not 10 hours after this incident, two other boys wanted my attention. I was busy. So they took green and blue markers and colored on as many white walls as possible. I was LESS THAN thrilled. In fact, I was PISSED. I started to feel a yell rumble and I thought of this blog post. I thought about creating, and a maintaining, a trusting, safe relationship with my sons and my yell subsided. I hope this post does the same for you!

What kind of parent do you want to be? How does yelling hold you back from that?

I am a Fighter.

332 days without yelling, 33 days of loving more to go!

Dear Orange Rhinos,

Some of you have probably shared a goal with friends and family this week about no more yelling. And I’m guessing from personal experience that the following may have happened:

You were told that your goal of no more yelling is crazy. You were told you don’t stand a chance. You were told, by yourself, that you should just quit and give up. And so I am going to tell you otherwise.

You aren’t crazy. You do stand a chance, a gigantic chance. And don’t quit when you slip, remember that you haven’t failed, you have just fought to show your kids you love them so and you are ready to try again.

Because YOU ARE A FIGHTER. You are fighting to be the best mom you can be in any moment. You are fighting to change, which is brave and admirable and amazing. You are fighting to prove to yourself that you can do hard things, even when you and the world think you can’t.

YOU ARE A FIGHTER. You are doing this for the kids, for yourself. You are gonna turn heads this year as you change. You are going to make other parents stop and think, “wow, that mom handled that situation really well. And without yelling.”

It is Friday, a day when I share a favorite song that has rocked my world and kept me going during this challenge. I LOVE this song. I’ve highlighted the lines that really spoke to me and inspired me. Read the words and listen to the song; maybe even add it to a playlist.

And remember, I am fighting right along side with you. If you feel like throwing the towel in, if it has been one jab too many, email me and I’ll help you get back up.

The Orange Rhino


The Fighter by Gym Class Heroes.
(Original lyrics. My additions are in parentheses. The actual song can be played after the lyrics and you can find two other Favorite Songs that I love.)

Just waking up in the morning
And to be well, (and to get through the day without losing it)
Quite honest with ya,
I ain’t really sleep well
Ya ever feel like your train of thought’s been derailed? (yes, always)
That’s when you press on – Lee nails
Half the population’s just waitin to see me fail
Yeah right, you’re better off trying to freeze hell
Some of us do it for the females
And others do it for the retail

But I do it for the kids, life threw the towel in on
Everytime you fall it’s only making your chin strong
And I’ll be in your corner like mick, baby, til the end
Or when you hear a song from that big lady

Until the referee rings the bell
Until both your eyes start to swell
Until the crowd goes home
What we gonna do ya’ll?

Give em hell, turn their heads
Gonna live life til we’re dead.
Give me scars, give me pain.
Then they’ll say of me, say of me, say of me.
There goes the fighter, there goes the fighter
Here comes the fighter
That’s what they’ll say of me, say of me, say of me,
This one’s a fighter

And if I can last thirty rounds
There’s no reason you should ever have your head down
Six foot five, two hundred and twenty pounds
Hailing from rock bottom, loserville, nothing town

Text book version of a kid going nowhere fast
And now I’m yelling “kiss my ass”
It’s gonna take a couple right hooks, a few left jabs
For you to recognize you really ain’t got it bad

If you fall pick yourself up off the floor (get up)
And when your bones can’t take no more (c’mon)
Just remember what you’re here for
Cuz I know Imma damn sure (MY KIDS)

Give em hell, turn their heads

Here comes the fighter (THAT’s YOU!)
That’s what they’ll say of me, say of me, say of me,
This one’s a fighter

‘Til the referee rings the bell
‘Til both ya eyes start to swell
‘Til the crowd goes home,
What we gonna do kid? (We’re gonna do this. It’s gonna be hard. We’re gonna wanna quit. We’re gonna fall down. But we’re gonna get up. And try again. It will be a process. But we’ll get there. Every moment is a win. Every MOMENT is a way.)

Here are my two other Favorite Song Fridays:
Seasons of Love (click here)
Just know you’re not alone(click here)


A Mother Understands.

330 days of not yelling, 35 days of loving more to go!

Dear Staycation,

Oh I loved you so. I loved waking up and having nowhere to go, nowhere to drive. I loved waking up and having all my boys, all 5 of them, in my bed snuggling, being lazy. I loved having my 5 boys home all day to just hang out with. To play with. To laugh with. To smile at. To enjoy. And now you are done and I am sad and oh so cranky and impatient. But guess what? My kids are more so and we can’t all be that way. I guess I need to be the adult and be calm and empathetic until we all re-adjust. In the meanwhile, can you please make plans to come back soon?

The Orange Rhino


The extra hyper behavior, the extra tears over small things, and the extra amount of time dedicated to not listening, all made it very clear that my emotional carbon copy, son #1, was struggling with vacation coming to an end just as much as me. And all these “extras” certainly made our last day on vacation with him extra hard. It made both my husband and me extra impatient, my husband more so though.

You see, I was at least able to be extra empathetic because I knew what my son was feeling. I too wanted to run around crazy because I was so full of sadness that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I too wanted to cry over everything because I had had such a great staycation that I didn’t want it to end. I too didn’t want to listen to the “get-ready-to-go-back-to-real-life” voice in my head because I just wanted to stay in vacationland, the land of no constraints, the land of lots of family time.

But I couldn’t. I couldn’t ignore real life coming back and I couldn’t lose it with my son even though I kind of wanted to. So instead I listened to the other voice in my head, the one that kept saying over and over and over again “Do not YELL at your son. Yes, he is acting out and struggling BUT it isn’t because he is trying to be difficult or annoying it is because he is having a hard time. Love him. Listen to him. Be patient with him. Tell him you too are sad but how happy you are for the fun time we did have. Reassure him that it will be the weekend soon. Whatever you do DON’T YELL at him. He needs love right now, not anger. And besides, you will kick yourself in the a*s if you end vacation on a bad note.”

Oh I am glad I listened to that voice. Because it was right.

As we all headed up for bedtime, #1 starting running around crazy and ignoring each and every simple request asked of him. Please put your clothes in the laundry basket. No. Please get in the bath. No. Please brush your teeth. No. PLEASE LISTEN. NO NO NO! Oh dear #1 was doing everything to avoid going to bed, to avoid ending vacation. Can you blame him?

Well, my hubby did and started to lose his cool (can’t blame him either). I interrupted.

“Babe, don’t get angry with him. He is just having a hard time.” I said.

“No he’s not. He’s fine.”

I knew better. My days of The Orange Rhino Challenge, my days of paying attention to my kids, like really paying attention, told me the truth about this situation.

“He’s not. Trust me. Please.” I pleaded as I turned around to rally three other kids into a bath.

And at that point, as much as I wanted to cry, I laughed. You see, my mother-in-law always gives me gifts with thoughtful sayings about motherhood. And I always kind of laugh them off as “oh, just another Hallmark gift I’ll never use.” But this year, she gave me something that I just can’t laugh off:

Tonight, this saying rang loud and clear in my head. YES. It is so true. Today, tonight, I knew what my son was feeling without him saying it. But, that is only because of The Orange Rhino Challenge. This challenge has taught me to tune in to my kids’ feelings. To believe they are real. To believe that kids have real emotions too. To believe that sometimes kids have bad days too. The Orange Rhino Challenge has taught me to try and first understand what a child does not say before yelling unnecessarily.

After I tucked three kiddos in I went back to tuck #1 in. As I opened his door I saw a little head perk up from the pillow and the sweetest words fell from his lips:

“Mommy, I’m so sad.”

I rushed right over. He had NEVER so clearly explained his emotions. It both broke and filled my heart.

“What’s wrong sweetie?” I asked wiping tears away from his face.

“I don’t want December to end. I don’t want to go back to school. I don’t want daddy to work. I want to play with my new toys all day. I want to stay home with you. And I don’t want to miss the Superbowl.”

Oh the innocence. The truth. I snuggled into bed with him and cried right along with him. I told him mommy felt the same way. I told him I too was sad but how happy I was for our fun vacation. I told him much I loved him and that it would be the weekend again before he knew it. I told him we could play with his toys during all the months. And not to worry, the Superbowl wasn’t until February! I gave him one last hug and kiss and walked out.

And then I thought to myself as I wiped away a last tear,

“Phew. I’m so glad I didn’t yell tonight and instead had a chance to snuggle with my son and be there for him, with him. Oh, I feel so much better.”

This is just one moment WON from not yelling. Here is another one…