Someone recently gave me an excellent blog idea: Find a movie that I loved when I was around my own kids’ age and document their reaction as we watch it together in present day. The movie I selected was the 1990 holiday family classic, Home Alone.

Home Alone movie

‎Macaulay Culkin was 9 years old when he appeared as little Kevin McCallister in the holiday cult classic, Home Alone.

My oldest son is 12, my middle son is 11, and their little sister is 6. Technically, I was older than them when Home Alone was released, but I figure Macauley Culkin was about their age when he starred in this film so it passed the test – pursuant to my imaginary rules that I feel the need to justify for some dumb reason.

The following is a summary of our (mine and my children’s) combined streams of consciousness as we watched the movie together.

If you’ve never seen it…seriously, who are you?…the basic plot of this movie is that Culkin’s character, Kevin McCallister, has a large family and often feels like he’s either left out or being judged unfairly. He wishes they would all just disappear. The family leaves on a vacation to France for the holidays thinking that Kevin is with them, but realize mid-flight that they accidentally left him behind. Kevin has to defend his home against burglars while they are away. Hilarity ensues.

Not even 10 minutes in, I realize there are a lot of inappropriate words spoken that I never questioned as a child, which makes me believe I was either completely clueless as to what I was hearing back then or had become completely immune to their effect after absorbing them spoken so often at home. (My parents got their first EVER computer last year and started following my blog so I like to add in little fabrications here and there just to freak them out.)

There’s nothing quite like your daughter asking you what that falling object is (at the 1:07 mark in the clip below) to make you feel like an utter failure in the domestic duties department. Me: “That’s called an iron, sweetie. We have one…somewhere.”

I remember that seeing a tarantula crawl on burglar Marv’s head was the only thing that really made me cringe when I was a kid. Not the possibility that I could be left alone, or the fact that burglars could terrorize me, or that a boy my age had a Playboy magazine in his treasure chest.

My boys and I talked about all of the highly unlikely scenarios we were watching. How could NO ONE in a house of 20+ people wake up if they needed to leave for the airport at 8 a.m.? EIGHT A.M.?! There’s always at least one annoying morning person who is on their second cup of coffee or who has run their second mile by then. And then, when they did all wake up in a total frenzie running around barking orders at each other, little Kevin was able to sleep soundly through that mayhem in an attic?

Then the dysfunctional family arrives at the airport and runs right past the ticket lady who happily catches their boarding passes as they fling them at her en route to their seats? Not a single I.D. check? These people seem completely safe to board the aircraft I guess.

And what is UP with Uncle Frank McCallister? Is he not the biggest another-word-for-donkey on the planet or what?

I’m a realistic woman. I know my kids are far from perfect and are bound to do some pretty regrettable things throughout their lifetimes. But if any of my relatives were to snap at any one of my children like Uncle Frank yelled at Kevin, well, I’d be hard pressed not to retaliate with a few counter-insults of my own.

I NEVER LIKED YOUR JELLO MOLD OR YOUR HUSBAND, MARY!

My oldest son dryly pointed out that it took roughly 22 minutes from the time Kevin called 911 until the police actually arrived to help out. I hadn’t even noticed because I was too frustrated with the fact that Kevin refused to recruit his creepy old man neighbor for back-up. I mean, COME ON KEVIN, the guy admitted to having anger management issues which clearly resulted in him losing touch with his son and grandchildren. BRING THAT SHOVEL-WIELDING-DIRTY-HAIRY-WANNABE over to your house for protection!

Part of me was tempted to show my kids a picture of present day Macaulay Culkin, but I figured that might be as traumatic and disheartening as the whole Santa thing. Some secrets are better left untold. (OK that was mean…heaven knows I don’t look half as cute as I did when I was 9. Sorry, Mac.)

When it was all said and done, I could tell by the smiles on my kids’ faces that they enjoyed the movie as much today as I did back in 1990. I encourage you to try this little experiment with your own kids, nieces/nephews, or other little humans and report back in the comments.

Written by Heidi Woodard

When I created Maternal Media back in 2012, I vowed to give readers a place to go when they needed a gentle reminder to take everything in stride. If I’m being completely honest, I knew this site would serve me just as much as it would you.

My last post was all about viewing each new day as a sunrise as opposed to a storm. I’m a big believer in positive thinking. My body and facial expression don’t always get the memo, but my soul’s desire is to always remain sunny.

I like to follow and hang out with similar thinkers. My thought is it’s generally easier for all of us to harp on the bad stuff in life, because there is plenty of that to go around, than it is to live simplistically and seek out beauty in the everyday ordinary.

That being said…

My family is a typical over-scheduled American stereotype. Between the five of us, we’re currently “balancing” two jobs (well, four, if I count my side gigs and my husband’s refereeing), two schools, four sports, one stress-filled holiday, a geriatric dog, you get the point.

I was literally yelling out WHERE’S MY D@MN SUNSHINE?! on my birthday last weekend after learning our oldest boy was diagnosed with strep throat. This, after his younger brother and dad were both sick for over a month prior.

As the dark clouds threatened to roll over my body, I resisted the temptation to hang my head low and retreat.

Had I not looked up, I would have missed one of arguably the funnier kindergarten concert performances I’ve had the privilege of watching. My daughter’s in the black dress in the top middle, breaking pinatas like a boss. (And, in case you’re wondering, I’m still too dumb to remember to hold my phone horizontally while videotaping. Can’t Apple develop some trick to auto-correct that? They’re a freaking technology think camp.)

I would have also missed an event that happens about as often as a Halley’s Comet sighting, which was capturing both of my boys smiling next to one another as if they generally get along.

Give me one moment in time. - Whitney Houston

Give me one moment in time. – Whitney Houston

To all the parents out there, I urge you to read the words below and take comfort in the fact that none of us are doing it 100 percent right 100 percent of the time. I’m a recovering perfectionist. Trust me when I share that doing everything precisely the way it should be done is overrated, especially when it compromises your sanity.

We live. We make mistakes. We learn. We move on.

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
William Martin

Written by Heidi Woodard

As Thanksgiving break wraps up for adults and kids across America, I ask you this simple question: Are you ready to return to your state of normal, however you define it, tomorrow?

For me, tomorrow brings the end of sleeping in, the return of controlled chaos, another page flipped forward on the calendar, and colder temperatures. Really, really frigid friggin temperatures here in Nebraska.

This might just be post-holiday Heidi talking, but I think I’m ready to remain optimistic…and here’s why.

I’ve always considered Sunday night as “the calm” before returning to routine. I’m here to tell you (from experience) that there is little you can do outside of a preparing a list of priorities and getting adequate sleep to control your feelings and reactions to the events that will impact you in the days ahead.

What you can attempt to influence is your cognitive anticipation of what awaits you. You can view tomorrow, next week, the month of December, and 2015 as either an impending storm or an amazing sunrise.

Why view life as scary and unpredictable? Photo c/o MorgueFile

Why view life as scary and unpredictable?
Photo c/o MorgueFile

When you can view life as beautiful and unpredictable? Photo c/o MorgueFile

When you can view life as beautiful and unpredictable?
Photo c/o MorgueFile

I’ve been waiting to tell you all about a fun side project I’ve been hatching up since the end of September. I’ve wanted to flip the switch on this little business of mine no shy of a half dozen times, but logic tells me to wait until I am sure everything is perfect.

Since logic has never been my strong point, however, here’s a sneak peek of the website, Give The Game Back (Disclaimer: I’ve disabled the payment platform at this time while everything’s still in test mode so feel free to try it out as my first official testers and let me know what you think!)

Give The Game Back will be an ecommerce site that offers custom t-shirts that serve as visual reminders for adults to always keep perspective when it comes to youth sports. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know this is a hot button of mine.

Because I want to have a sample of the finished product in-hand before I offer it up to the masses, expect more information about how you can support this project (if you so choose) in late December.

When I consciously choose to look ahead at the colors unveiling before my very eyes as opposed to hanging my head under the down pour, things tend to work out better.

I challenge you to think of something colorful in your life and embrace it today.

Written by Heidi Woodard

I had a work colleague recently ask me how it was possible to keep everything balanced when it comes to work and family. Her parenting phase is a difficult one right now and I did the best I could to remind her to always keep perspective, that none of us are perfect, and to find one thing she really enjoys and make a point to do it.

One day later, I was hiding in the restroom of my middle child’s basketball game wiping away tears of frustration. After having already been on the road for 50 minutes because I accidentally drove to the wrong gym on my first attempt, my actions caused my boy to miss his warm-up time (which, frankly, didn’t bother him half as much as seeing his mom so stressed out did).

I had been away from my family for three days the week prior for work. I had forgotten to RSVP for a little one’s birthday party that we wouldn’t be able to make. I’ve been neglecting a side project that I want to unveil by the holidays. And then there’s Christmas shopping and my hatred of it. Have I mentioned how much I equally love and detest this time of year?

I had my recurring dream that I only experience when I’m on edge, the one where I’m at the wheel of an automobile knowing I have to stop before I collide into something else and, no matter how hard I press my foot onto the brake pedal, I can’t stop moving forward.

I’ve reflected on my mini meltdown and came to this conclusion: I need to always keep perspective, remind myself that none of us are perfect, and find one thing I really enjoy and just do it. Or, better stated: Practice what I preach.

I saw a woman who I assume was a player’s mom approach a referee at the conclusion of my eldest son’s basketball game today. She spoke to him for no more than 30 seconds and I’m fairly confident hers weren’t words of praise directed at him. I saw another grown woman with tears welling up as I was getting ready to leave, and my gut told me her emotions had little to do with what happened on the court but maybe had more to do with stuff on the sidelines.

Then I redirected my attention on the collective group of youth athletes. My son, in particular, didn’t have his best game but his team came out on top. He wasn’t ready to throw in the towel, but instead shifted focus to what he wanted to consume to replenish the absurd amount of calories his growing body needs these days. The losing team, who has been victorious in the past, seemed to hold their heads high for the most part.

They recognized today was not their defining moment. It was but one chapter in their journey.

We adults could learn a few things from a group of preteens.

Today I won’t feel guilty for missed appointments or cancelled plans. Instead I will be grateful for all that I’ve done with the hours I’m given.

Today I won’t beat myself up for never being everything to everyone. Instead I will remember I am deeply loved by the important ones.

Today I won’t feel ashamed for taking on yet another project in my overly jammed life. Instead I will remind myself that I can’t give up on something I believe is good.

Today I won’t feel like screaming out the frustration I’ve bottled up inside. Instead I will feel like singing the passion I refuse to suppress.

Today I won’t toss my hands into the air and say “Finally, I wrote something.” Instead I will quietly close my laptop and say “Thank you for reading and relating.”

Written by Heidi Woodard