Saturday, February 6, 2016

Why My Children Don't *Have* to Obey Me

One of these kids is not mine. 
In my younger parenting days, I believed; you told your child what to do and they did it. I soon realized children don't always DO what you tell them to do, therefore it was my job, as a responsible parent to MAKE them do what I wanted them to do.

This could be accomplished in various ways. I'm sure many of us have grown up experiencing the various ways our parents would attempt to enforce their will upon ours, even when it truly was for our own good.

These days, I am a very different parent then I was when I started out 23 years ago.

My parenting language used to go something like this: "Take out the trash." Which worked great if the particular child this was directed at was feeling compliant at the moment. If not, well, that required more challenging navigation. My language began to vary: "I want you to take out the trash." Which was at least more honest, to "I need you to take out the trash." It wasn't really a need, not like I couldn't do it myself-no one was going to die if the trash wasn't taken out.

The thing is, over the last few years specifically, I feel my parenting style and expectations have changed dramatically and it was inspired by the challenges and struggles I've had within my marriage. Learning what healthy boundaries look like (*self* control not *others* control) and implementing them have had the greatest impact on my parenting and expectations of my kids.

God doesn't force us to choose Him as our Lord and Savior. He doesn't force us to receive His gift of grace. We are completely free to reject Him. Therefore, He also never forces us to obey Him. We have the freedom to choose. There are positive and negative consequences for every choice we make in our lives.

I have found the same goes for the parent-child relationship and obedience. These days my language looks more like this (when I'm on my game anyway-come on, I'm not perfect!): "I'd appreciate it if you would take out the trash." It either gets done or it doesn't. The problem parents have, is when our will is not done. How to handle that?

I offer positive and negative consequences, just like real life! I reason with my kids and speak to them as reasonable human beings, capable of considering the 'evidence' and making a well informed decision. IF they follow instructions, they enjoy privileges. If not, they lose privileges. Tasks are required to be fulfilled to the best of their ability. I remind them these are life skills...just like I can not go to work and do a shoddy, half @$$ job and expect to get paid my full, agreed upon wages, neither can they! I can't disrespect my boss and expect to continue working there.

Here's the thing--> I CAN choose to still do shoddy work and disrespect my boss, anyone can choose to behave in any way, form, or fashion they want...because we do not control anyone! However, as stated above, there are consequences to negative choices, just as there are for positive ones. I agreed to a certain amount of pay for a certain amount and level of work--not done equals not paid! Simple.

My children CAN choose to NOT do what I want them to do. I often remind them {and myself} if I have used language to the contrary: "You have to take out the trash-wait, let me rephrase that, you don't have to take out the trash but I'd appreciate it if you took out the trash. The choice is yours. There will be consequences for either choice you make." Of course they are aware of the consequences.

The real challenge is my response when I am not getting what I want, even as a parent. How I respond when my children are not doing what I want them to do, is crucial. The bottom line is: CONTROL! I DO NOT *control* my children or any other human on the planet except myself--and sometimes I fail at that! I think this will have a great impact on their view of God and relationship with him, first as a father and later as a friend, lover, mentor, etc. I don't believe God ever attempts to *control* us.

The same way God did not create us as automatons, incapable of individualized thoughts-because that is not what He wanted-I want my children to do right because they believe and know it's right, to obey because they want to, not out of fear or due to force. Even use of force requires an act of submission at some point. I don't want my children's submission to be based on a fear. I don't want my children to grow up thinking they can or have the right to attempt to control anyone either.

Life has no guarantees. Neither does parenting. It's a long process and maybe there's a learning curve for some of you...and for the rest of us, we're winging it. With fear and trembling...haha.

Happy Parenting! 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Hike Day: {Hidden} Falls Canyon Falls, Trabuco Canyon

Adventure Kids

NO restrooms. Dirt access road is extremely rough, full of potholes. I thought I was going to blow a tire. Great for a jeep! This trail is *hidden*! There was a post floating around facebook advertising this trail. It sounded easy enough. The directions were very confusing causing much frustration. The falls look beautiful in these pictures, it's true. However, there is a TON of poison oak all along the trail. I was so stressed that someone was going to fall into it or somehow we were going to get it. You HAD to walk near it, next to it and over it-no avoiding it.

Little Prince

The initial directions instructed to look for the tree with a marker ribbon on it to find the trail....there were at least 3 trees with ribbons and the actual tree at the trail no longer had a ribbon. 

The making of the band.
Adventure Moms

From the tree, it is a very slippery slope down to the creek. Cross over the creek via log and head straight into the canyon. There is an opening to the canyon, so from the creek you keep heading straight and then a slight left. 

Looking for Frogs
As you enter into the canyon, look to the left and you will see a cave. It's really just a hole in the side of the canyon wall. Keep going and follow the trail.

Succulent growing out of the side of a rock.

The trail requires climbing steep rocks and can be very slippery, like the slope you took before the creek. The trail floor may be covered in leaves deeper than you think, making your footing very unstable. Many of the logs and large branches you come across are soft and brittle, very unsafe to step or stand on. 


The falls are tall and lovely. Vandals have scratched large graffiti into the face of the falls. That is always disappointing. The base of the falls is merely a puddle. It makes it easy to take pictures because you can get close but there is not much water play. 

The Ktbunch
Initially, we entered the trail from teh wrong tree--very confusing. We followed the creek for awhile, among the thick poison oak. It would have been a lovely hike if not for all the poison oak. 

The adventure kids enjoyed coming across small frogs. They caught and held them. The creek bed is lovely with bright green plants growing in the water with algae and moss.

The footing along the trail is so unstable one of our members fell and began to roll and slide down the steep side. She was very scared as there was nothing but flat rock below her. 

Our fallen friend!
*pic credit: T. Belk
There was nothing to grip onto and the leaves were so thick and branches fragile that every move she made caused her to slide further down. We were able to safely get her back to the trail but this could have been disastrous had it been a younger child.

Personally, I DO NOT recommend this trail. Not with current conditions. There are plenty of other beautiful waterfall hikes that are not as treacherous or risky with the poison oak. Hiking is part of my stress relief--it was no fun to feel more stressed instead. Everyone was safe and no one had any permanent or serious injuries but the potential was there, more than usual.

If not for the high poison oak risk, I would have rated this hike higher on the adventure scale. Coincidentally, this hike is right by O'niell Regional Park, where we camped for Thanksgiving! Farther up the road, you will find Holy Jim Falls Trail, which we haven't hiked before.

Enjoy your week.
Start the day outside.

{<---trail examples--->}

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Church Lady: Sparkly Purple Sweater

This is one of two black skirts that are exactly the same, except one is a matte fabric and the other is shiny. I paired it with my daughter's sparkly purple, cowl neck sweater.

Minimal jewelry since the neck is large. Purple drop earrings, from my friend who swears she orders way more jewelry than she can ever wear. Haha.

Same old wedges/sandals/chanklas! Most of my shoes are packed away in storage so I am making do with what I have. It's not a big deal though sometimes I wish I had more selection. It's definitely first world problem thinking, isn't it? I have everything I need. Why would I need numerous pairs of heels?

The clothes I do have with me, squished in the very small closet space I share with my daughter, are still more than I need to wear. Especially wearing a uniform to work...I could go an entire day in work out clothes until time for work. Sad. Very, very sad. Haha. 

I enjoy dressing nice for church's certainly not a necessity to have to wear a different outfit every week. Frivolous almost, isn't it?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Hike Day: Dawn Mine, Alta Dena

Celebrating our 52nd hike of the 52 Hike Challenge, inside Dawn Mine! 

We returned to Millard Canyon...after our Millard Falls hike last week, we wanted to try and find Dawn Mine again and we did!  Parking requires an Adventure Pass ($5). There is very little parking at Sunset Ridge. If it's full, you can drive down to Millard Campground parking lot...but that will add about a mile or so to your hike, to get back up. There are no restrooms at Sunset Ridge or along the trail to Dawn Mine, however, there are 2 vault toilet restrooms at Millard Campground. Try not to look and hold your breath if you can. 

Entrance to the fire road at Sunset Ridge.
If you are able to park at Sunset Ridge, your hike will begin by entering the fire road, past the closed gate. Shortly after you will reach a peak with a trail head to the left and a map and log book to the right. The map will offer a rough view of the variety of trails offered and historical content. DO NOT take the trail to the left. The trail to the left will lead you down to Millard Campground OR up from the campground if you parked below.

Trail markers to keep an eye out for: colored ribbons, spray painted arrows and piled rocks. 
Continue along the fire road until you reach the second hiking trail sign. That is the trail you want to follow. It is obvious for awhile at first. You will eventually hear and see Millard Falls off in the distance on your left. Eventually you will reach a fork, on the right are stairs--DO NOT go that way. Stay to the left. 

Where is the trail? Notice the pink marker ribbon?
*This pic compliments of my hiking partner/co-Adventure Mom, Tisha.
I strongly suggest researching the trail conditions before you go. It tends to be tricky and even disappear at times. Thankfully, hikers who have gone before have left trail markers but you have to be aware and look for them. There are times where there is simply NO trail. Hiking in a group, besides being fun, will help find the trail markers--the more eyes the better.

The trail can be intense and I don't recommend it for inexperienced young children or out of shape adults. You will be crossing the stream at times, it's always refreshing to hike near water. There is plenty of lush greenery right now. It gets tougher though as the trail begins to disappear. 

The actual entrance to the mine is hidden behind a rock with an X on it. You must squat down to enter. 
You WILL have to climb up and over small and large boulders, cliff faces as well as up and over or under fallen trees and logs. The actual mine is hidden behind the rock face of the canyon. There is a spray painted X that marks the spot. Walk behind the X rock and voila!

The initial corridor of the mine has logs on top of water. The logs are helpful but precarious.
You must squat down to enter the mine. Once through the wooden beam entrance, you will crouch down, crossing the water on precarious, rolling logs and beams. At the end of the first corridor, the mine opens up enough to stand--there will be a fork ahead of you where the mine splits. You will also find a log book and a map.

Ceiling of the mine, This was a shaft that went upwards, with a beam across it. 

To the right is a pool, said to be 55 ft deep. To the left is a tunnel that features a shallow, ankle deep pool initially, then puddles. There was a beam and a rope on the left of the deep pool. It's precarious but cross-able. Then a short stint of puddles before the water rises and it gets about knee deep.

There were other hikers in the mine with us and we let them go ahead. We stopped after crossing the deep pool but there is supposed to be a water fall farther along. We were not interested in taking off our shoes or getting all wet. Taking the mine tunnel to the left will lead to a definitive end. Don't forget to look up...there are shafts that go upward and with a flashlight, are very cool to look at. We did not pursue it, but there is another mine shaft entrance above this one. You must rock climb and it IS dangerous. It is said, that mine shaft is dry.

We saw a bobcat! It scrambled up the side of the rocky canyon, scared by the teens of our group, ahead of us. It blends in so well, it's hard to see.
We rate this hike high on the adventure scale due to the mine and the intensity of the hike.  Also, presume the mine to be dangerous and unstable. Venture at your own risk.The great thing is the beginning and therefore the way back, is actual trail and pretty flat so it makes the ending soft.

On our way back we caught sight of a bobcat! That was exciting for a minute. Most of the teenage Adventure Kids were ahead of us...I believe they scared it up the canyon with out even knowing. They missed it but I saw it running up the canyon first. It blended in so well, it was hard to see once it landed on it's perch, unless it moved.

A blue feather.

The trail is absolutely gorgeous right now. When you arrive as Sunset Ridge--I suggest parking head in, instead of parallel to the mountain. This will allow more room for other cars. The parking area is VERY limited and there are no parking signs everywhere-pay attention to signage. I encourage you to check out Instagram for ideas, tips and great pix. I found out about this hike via other Instagram hikers.

Enjoy your week.
See you next Friday! 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Hike Day: Millard Canyon Falls, Altadena

I've never seen an acorn hat THIS big!
I had never heard of Millard Falls. I came across it via instagram. {You can find lots of great hiking spots via instagram search!!!} Initially it was going to be a side-hike after we finished at Dawn Mine...except we didn't find Dawn Mine. (probably next week, so stay tuned!) 

A family of orange mushrooms.
THis is a great hike on it's own though. It has a lovely and well maintained trail. We encountered two volunteers working on the trail today. I made a point of thanking them for volunteering their time and energy to maintain the trail and letting them know we appreciate it.

What you need to know: There is a parking lower parking lot at Millard Camp Ground. GPS will say you have arrived a little ways before you actually have (at least it did for me), just keep going and follow signs. Adventure Pass is required for parking or risk it. You must walk through the small campground to get to the trail. There are vault toilet restrooms. Try not to look and hold your breath as best you can!!! 

The trail is not very hard and well marked with rock edges. The creek is with you all along the way. There is also a small mine opening you can slightly climb up to. I don't know if it leads anywhere or is a dead end. The opening is small and only youngest climbed up to step inside. There was water along the ground inside and I don't know how deep it may have been. 

I saw a picture of moss from another hike and told myself next time I encountered moss I would touch it.
This was the time and it was SO soft. Like velvet. 
The trail is a mix of sun and shade. There was plenty of lush greenery and visual interest. It was a cool day but the hike kept us warm until we stopped for lunch by the falls. Definitely dress in layers. The trail is kid friendly but not stroller friendly. There are rocks and rock steps at times.

Cloud cover.
The view from the picture above was actually from a different trail that takes you from Millard Campground to Sunset Ridge. We took this trail initially, in an attempt to get to Dawn Mine. The views are wonderful and this trail will really get your warmed up. If it's summer, expect to break out in a full sweat. It's like a buns of steel trail at points.

At Sunset Ridge, you will find an informative and historical map with trails of the old tourist train tracks, trails to Echo Mountain, Dawn Mine and many more. Research before you go if you want to explore any of the other trails, They are longer and more challenging (from information I have read online) but was told, totally worth it.

We met Jody and NicktheHiker today. They were full of wonderful information and knowledge, and very friendly. 
We met this lovely couple in the parking lot. I want to be a friendlier hiker and document who we may meet along the trails. I think there is a wonderful hiking community out there and hope to connect more with new faces this year. 

Muddy shoes.
This kid! With fallen logs to climb, rocks to scamper over and creeks to cross, I highly recommend this trail for kids. Totally family friendly. I find it challenging to accept my youngest physical enthusiasm aka energy, in daily life. Even more so since the trampoline broke (seriously!). When we go hiking though, there is enough space for his big spirit! I realized maybe that is the best thing. Maybe there is something to letting go of the idea of making him fit into our space and instead, find space where he has the room he needs! 

Maybe we can be a band!

The falls are beautiful and was still flowing. The pool at the base was shallow enough to get close with out getting too wet or having to soak your shoes. I got splashed during our photo opps. Haha. We enjoyed our lunch right here next to the falls. If you mind the dirt, bring a picnic blanket or something to sit on. There are only a few small rocks to sort of sit on.

The Lovely Millard Falls

This will go on my list as one of my favorites. I consider this great for beginners as it's not that long. It was fairly empty when we went. Only ran across a few extra hikers always in the opposite direction. Unlike other water fall hikes we've done where you can't even get a solo pic for all the people trying.

We did not see wildlife beyond birds...and a decapitated rooster. I have 'heard' that this was probably a sign of a religious sacrifice of some sort. The bird was beautiful and we were sad to find it. Others have reported to seeing deer or even bears. It IS bear country, as most mountains are. Always be aware of your surroundings and use caution.

This gets a fair rating on the Adventure Scale but everyone was pleased and happy with the hike. Nothing to complain about. Dogs welcome on leash, of course.

See you  next week. Don't forget to: start the day outside! 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

More to Life

This verse is often referred to as an exhortation against worry *because* of God's providential nature. It's true one aspect of His divine identity is of being a provider.

This verse hit me differently this morn, the second part, which is often over looked. At the end of the day, or more importantly, life, what you eat and what you wear, will not matter! Nothing you have or own will matter. My grandma and mother's lives, have been reduced to a small box of sentimental items. No one cares or remembers how fashionable or stylish they were or weren't. No one cares what they cooked. 

Having just gone through a major life move-being present here-looking at all I owned...very little of my belongings mattered enough to want to pack and take with me. Very little was important enough to be worth the effort. 

There is freedom when we embrace what we know matters and let go of all else. We hold on to the love a person had or didn't have, for us. What we really hoard are the feelings, good or bad, produced within us when we remember someone. We must ask ourselves every moment, with every interaction, what we truly want to leave behind, and act accordingly. 

That is the *more* to life, I see in this verse.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Friday Hike Day: Hellman Wilderness Park, Whittier

Rivets in the dirt, formed by recent rainfall.

I don't like this series of trails in Whittier, personally. Not much visual interest with all the dryness and brown everywhere...unless your a fan of city view. I am not. I need the green, the trees, water. These trails are killer in the summer in the direct sun-no shade. It's a personal preference. There were more people on the trail today then we are used to for our Friday Hike days. Obviously, these are popular trails.

Adventure Kids.

This trail head is slightly hard to find, GPS sent us up the hill a ways to a dead end residential street. Make sure you are mapping Hellman Wilderness Park. The small parking lot was closed the day we went. The surrounding residential streets have signs indicating *permit paring only*. Be aware. We parked a block away and walked to the trail head.

It was a gorgeous day and I was slightly overdressed.

There are NO restrooms or drinking fountains. The trail is pretty much up hill, uphill, uphill. There are various trails but they all head uphill. They were slightly muddy on this day but in the summer, I know they would be hot. NO tree cover for shade whatsoever. 
Adventure kid running down the hill.

This trail is great if you want a good the buns of steel level. Also if you want to break a sweat. Visually, I find them boring. Too much brown for my taste. If you're kids need to burn off some steam, this is a great place. They can run up these hills to their hearts content and not damage anything. Haha.

My favorite girl pushing through, even with a cold.
You can get a view of the city if you like urban vistas.
Over all, low on the adventure scale. A popular trail, lots of pedestrian traffic when we were there. Dog friendly, on leash of course. Expect it to be dry, dusty and full sun during summer months, therefore drink water ahead of time and bring plenty with you. Sun safety always recommended: hat and sunscreen for sure.

Ok enough for a local spot.

See you next week! 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Developing Patience While Giving Up Control

Patience, yah, yah, yah. It's easy to become impatient most days. All is well until something isn't going your way. When it involves parenting, I am learning more and more, it's less about controlling your children and more about being patient with them.

When I was a younger parent, my understanding (and teaching I received) was that the point was to get your children to obey you. If you did X, enough times or forcefully enough, they would eventually know to obey. Of course, they would love and respect you all the more.

As I have grown as a person and a parent, I realize we control no one. My children are not robots, they are free thinkers and they are free to choose how they respond to me and anyone else. I have made it clear, there are consequences to every choice, good and bad.

Some days they make better choices and others...they don't. Just as I do and don't. What is a parent to do when a child is having an uncooperative day? It's funny that we call them uncooperative, they could very easily call us uncooperative. It's the truth, isn't? We are not doing what our child wants us to do, whatever that may be in their mind at the time. Who is really being uncooperative here?

We are the adults, we naturally have more life experience. Yes, my six year old must learn to read and that learning requires he read aloud to me for a minimum amount of time. When he does not want to follow my instructions, nothing I do can force him to. Sure, I can give a swat, reason with him, try to cajole or bribe him, raise my voice or any other number of methods to convince him that my way is the right way.

Maybe one of those attempts will work. Maybe they won't. Until they do though, it is still my responsibility to remain patient. See how that works?  He is another human being with his own will, thoughts, ideas and preferences. I can have perfectly logical and good reasons for him to do what I want. To himself, he may have his own set of reasons that make perfect sense to him, why he should have things his way.

We say, Lord, give me patience. Another responds: don't pray for patience, or you will be tested on it. Okay, that is just nonsense! One fruit of the Holy Spirit IS patience. Either you have it or you don't...or...

If we believe we have the Holy Spirit living within us we will produce proof, in the form of good fruit. Here's the thing though, fruit doesn't magically appear. It takes time to blossom, and grow. You may have fruit that is not in season or ripe yet. We can develop the fruit of the spirit over time!

It's a constant pruning and nurturing to develop good fruit. The more opportunities we have to exhibit patience, the more that virtue will grow within us. How freeing! Every time another person isn't doing what I want (if we're honest, that is what it always comes down to) I have the opportunity to practice patience. In that time of practicing, perhaps, I will change instead. Perhaps I will come to see a new or different perspective I did not see before. However, if I continue to demand MY way, whether this is in parenting, marriage, friendship, at work or ministry, I have quenched potential fruit, and possibly bruised a relationship or a relationship in the making.

As a parent (or any human being really) I must be willing to give up the attempt to control others. I must allow others the freedom to make mistakes, even big ones, and allow them to handle the consequences of those choices. If the choice made produces negative consequences, we then have the opportunity to extend grace and help those we care about navigate through the consequences. It's a wonderful beauty to be part of this process.

God never leaves us alone and I don't believe He expects us to instantly get everything right, every time. His love does not change for us because we have made the wrong choice. He gives us options and encourages us to make good choices but He never forces us. He reasons with us, through His Word, gives warnings and shows us through the many examples of those who have gone before us, possible outcomes of our choices. We are though, always free to make our own choice.

He shows the ultimate patience and grace with us, sometimes waiting our entire lives, for us to call out to Him for help. I can do the same with my child in any given moment or with others I love and care about. He has given us all we need, it is up to us to reach out and access it. It's up to nurture the good fruit within to produce right when it is needed.

A child or anyone else, who is not cooperating, doesn't need more force coming against them, what they need, is more patience, grace and love. To be honest, it's probably what I need in that very same moment as well. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Friday Hike Day: Cooper Canyon, Buckhorn

Adventure Kids! 
Our first hike of the year was coooold! Really fun though! We were looking for Cooper Canyon Falls and although we followed the trail, we could not find it. The trail itself is hard to find via GPS/Google maps. Most online resources suggest parking in the campground day use lot--except the campground is closed for the season.

We found a lot located right before the campground. You can park there and then walk a little ways up the road to the campground gate. The lot does have a vault toilet. Don't forget your Adventure Pass (parking)!

They will figure it out...if we let them.
The trail begins by walking the entrance road to the campground. Follow it all the way back, you will see the day use parking lot and signs of the trail. At the start of the trail we came upon a frozen creek. The Adventure Kids had fun testing how thick the ice was by crossing it. It was exciting. A new experience for us all.

Smooch! I found that one time at Mt. Baldy.
 The trail is absolutely gorgeous...even if we were very, very cold! We crossed many frozen creeks. We threw rocks to break the ice and they merely bounced. It was fun.

A small, frozen waterfall with water dripping and flowing underneath.
 It was a fabulous way to start the new year. It has been such an amazing year of hiking since I decided at the start of 2015 to make time to hike every Friday. All the adventures we have had, the new experiences we've encountered, witnessing the growth and heart healing--in all of us. 

With two layers of fleece leggings under my jeans, making them too tight to raise my leg higher than my knee for tree pose. 
I am SO extremely grateful for the great outdoors and our time to explore it. My words can not adequately express how full my heart is.

I believe, nature really is a great healer, as God created it to be.

Happy New Year!
See you next week.
Be sure to...
start the day outside! 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Church Lady: Coral Sweater + Dressember

My son and daughter-in-love gifted this sweater to me for Christmas. It looks red in the pix but it's actually more of a coral-orangish color. It's the coziest thing ever!

Even though I am participating in the Dressember fundraising campaign, I chose to wear a skirt today. One I've had for years. a hand-me-down from one of my sister-in-loves. All my other shoes and heels are still at the old house so I've been keeping to my staples. I think the blue jewelry goes well with coral, even though I wasn't wearing anything else that color. A man at church, a visitor whom I've never met before, even complimented me on my  necklace. 

I wore a grey sweater with the skirt and the coral sweater over. Temps have been cool and today was no different. The heater wasn't even on at church and wowzers was it even colder.

I want to revamp my hair again...redye the soon as I have some free time of course. {which may be never! haha.}

Have a great week.