Always wrestling with each other!
I'm so over and past the stage of potty training, tantrums, nightmares, snakes and snail and puppy dog tails. As I peruse blogs, articles, and magazines on parenting all I can find information for the parenting of the wee ones. If I do happen upon information regarding parenting teens and grown children ( I am of the camp you never stop parenting) it is generally information on the wayward child and offers of military school.  

Why is it seemingly so difficult to find joy in the parenting of teens and share it?  I have 6 teens (plus one tween) right now, and I can tell you some days it is no cake walk, however it is filled with wonderful moments and days of profound joy as I watch them rapidly racing toward adult hood! It is exhilarating and terrifying! I want to watch their lives with an open eyed expectation while holding my breath knowing there are pitfalls along the way. Skinned knees give way to broken hearts. Bicycles give way to (gasp) cars. Their choices can lead them down paths of no return, and yet there is so much to look forward to. 

I love that my house is full of loud, often off color humor which I have to obviously curtail. I love that my referring has decreased as they have matured but that every now and again I have to "blow the whistle." I love I am often the go to girl for problems and when I am not, my husband Seth is...and when things are especially not parent topic comfortable they have learned to talk with each other!  

It is a balancing act raising teens. When to hang on...when to let go...when to talk...when to listen...when to draw in the boundaries...when to let go...when to trust...when to investigate and show up at midnight to make sure they are where they said they were going to be. When my children were young I was physically exhausted, now I am just emotionally exhausted. 

I have learned how to watch the roll-o-coaster and not ride it as the emotions are all over the place in a house full of kids! I have learned that eye rolling means "this aggravates me but thanks for caring." A slamming door means they really want more attention, and that sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing. The main thing I am learning from my teens is what my parents must have gone through when we were getting ready to leave the nest, and a remembrance of where I was as a  young adult with no concept of the wisdom age, responsibility, and time brings. 

Most mornings are mass chaos in this household for the span of an hour and a half before everyone catches the bus to school. There is some order to the chaos though. Alarms are set in varying time frames so there is some semblance to shower order. They came up with this on their own, which I feel means we must have done something right. Every fifteen minutes a new alarm goes off with the final teen waking up to his siblings telling him once and for all to get up so he doesn't miss the bus!

 Then there is the music of the morning. Our lives seem to revolve around music. The other morning it was the "Eye of the Tiger" full of leaping air guitars, lip syncing, and dancing as they headed out the door. Previous to that my son serenaded me to "Aint No Mountain High Enough" which threw all of us into a good mood and fits of giggles. There are no dull moments.  

Gone are the school yard days, kissing boo-boos, potty training, and everything else small children entail. It has been replaced with it's own kind of new mayhem, but with it has come the sweet sweet recognition of the people they are becoming. There are some days I shake my head and wonder where we went wrong but many more days I marvel at what we did right to be blessed with a house full of loud, fun, amazing young people!

I am not one of those people who are anti vaccinations. My children have had most of the recommended vaccines.Despite everything I have read regarding them, it was the decision we felt most comfortable with. It wasn't made lightly, and with our physicians help we immunized on a far more conservative schedule than recommended.  
I'll go on record as saying  am not in agreement with the chicken pox vaccine for our children and yes all of mine had chicken pox ( six at once!)  and are no worse for it (can't say the same for me).I am on the fence as to whether it is healthier for the immune system to be inundated multiple weakened strains as in most shots, or fighting many of them off on the chance your child contract a childhood disease.  I'm not a doctor, just a mom trying to make the healthiest and best decisions I can for myself and my children. 

Every year around this time we are inundated with flu vaccine recommendations and information. I am not recommending flu vaccines or recomending not having them. I have been reading through blogs, and informational articles regarding the pros and cons. People are pretty passionate on either side of the fence as with many issues. 

It's something as a mom and an asthmatic I have struggled with, and while I have read all of the compelling stories and information, to date I have only been vaccinated once, and was deathly ill all winter. I cannot in any way blame it on the flu shot as I most likely would have been just as sick without it. We have just really weighed the pros and cons, read all of the studies and chosen not to vaccinate for flu. 

I have seen and been a part of many spirited debates in regards to vaccinations. While I believe debate is healthy as long as people are civil and respectful with differing views, I am am disheartened at all the mud slinging I often see on websites regarding the opposite points of view. I'm also increasingly alarmed at the stand government agencies are taking in regards to this decision. I do believe it should be a parents right to make this decision. 
Making these decisions regarding our own health and that of our children has become more and more difficult (and easier)  in many ways, with all of the information via the world wide web. All I can say is please educate yourself, talk with a trusted health care provider and make the best decision you can. I have included two links on different sides of the flu shot debate. 

(Not intended as recommendations medical or otherwise. Please speak with your own trusted health care provider)

 I'd love feedback in the comment area. 

The first I found on Dr. Christiane Northrup's Facebook status update. 
Flu Vaccine Worsens Flu-Fighting & Cancer-Fighting Immunity in Children
The second I found on a Blogher site. 
Why Every Last Mother & Child Needs a Flu Shot

When I was a little girl, I remember the exact moment I discovered Santa was not flesh and blood. We lived in Phoenix at the time, and I got up late one Christmas Eve for one reason or another. As I was walking down the hallway toward the living room, I heard my parents discussing which presents were going to be wrapped from them and which ones were from  "Santa." I remember being very upset and I came around the corner, much to my parents surprise and cried " You lied about Santa? I'll never believe you again." 

They consoled me and tried to get me to help wrap presents for my siblings, but that moment must have carried with me. I kind of feel sorry for my parents now, having such a black and white precocious child as it must have been a challenge!  While I carried on the pretending of a mythical, fat, jolly,  stranger man coming down the chimney to deliver presents to good boys and girls, I decided early on in my parenting it wasn't a tradition I would continue with my own children. Being a young mom I still viewed the world as very black and white and the idea of "lying" to my kids didn't set well. 

When they were old enough to ask questions, we explained to them Santa was kind of like Mickey Mouse and other characters in stories. Santa was based on stories about giving. I read them stories from around the world about dear old Claus. They were encouraged early on not to spoil the secret for their friends at school. 

When I moved with my children back to Montana and subsequently remarried, there were many challenges and differences in our parenting which Seth and I had to navigate. Santa Claus was one of those. My oldest daughter, who is a chip off the old precocious block, informed me she thought she could manage to pretend to believe in Santa for the sake of her new siblings as long as it meant extra presents. She also informed me it would help her out at school when asked what Santa brought her for Christmas as when she had replied "nothing" her peers thought she must have been particularly naughty. Not something I ever thought of when I was making these important parenting decisions. 

The second Christmas we shared as a family was a memorable one. Two dear neighbors decided they would enjoy playing Santa with the Beech kids. Ron dressed up as Mr Claus and Wendell was his helper. The joy those two men bringing a bag of gifts to the Beech kids is not one I'll ever forget. I watched as the children thanked "Santa" for their gifts and I caught a glimpse of the magic of the season. I remembered raising down the stairs as a child to see what Santa had brought us. I even recalled the year my cousin got a box full of hickory switches in place of a train set and being thankful I hadn't been naughty. The "joke" was later rectified and he received his train set. 

I now can see the value in the tradition of Santa. I can see the lessons and morals it was originally intended to teach. Now days with all the commercialism, parents face many challenges in sharing traditions and values in a meaningful way without all the hype over shadowing them . 

My dad loved the Christmas Season. He loved surprises and loved giving. I miss him this time of year. He and my mom made sure we had many memorable family moments to look back on. I remember my dad taking us shopping for a family who was in need of a little Christmas Miracle. We sat in the Suburban as he delivered a tree, ornaments, and gifts to a mother with 3 young children. The excitement and joy on my dad's face as he told us of her thankfulness spoke much to my young heart. My parents taught us the spirit of Christmas. It is in the giving. 

My faith tradition is that of a baby being born in a manger in a Little Town of Bethlehem. It is of the Son of God bringing peace and glad tidings to all of mankind. It embraces the epitome of giving to others. Whatever your faith or traditions during this season, I hope you will find simple joy in the act of giving and encourage you to look outside your own home and life and see just where you can be a blessing to others.