Choosing Not to Spread Valentine’s Day Cynicism to My Children

mom hands and child hands holding a hear_valentinesdaycynicism_rockinrandommom

Valentine’s Day is over and the stores are selling all the leftover chocolate for half off. Or 75% off, whichever. I’m writing this post in the aftermath of the holiday because for one, I have pictures to share and two, I want to talk about how parents influence their kids, even when they don’t mean to. My Valentine’s Day cynicism is the perfect example of that.

For any of you who read my blog and have read my past posts on Valentine’s Day I am a bit of a cynic. It’s not that I don’t believe in love (though my thoughts on that are quite complicated) but that Valentine’s Day puts too much pressure on couples, especially married couples with kids. However, around Valentine’s Day I get a bit extra cynical and it has affected my boys. Because of them I have learned to curb my Valentine’s Day cynicism.

my sons playing an arcade driving game_valentinesdaycynicism_rockinrandommom

For the past few years I have verbally expressed my dislike for Valentine’s Day and romance. I did this without realizing that young ears were listening and young minds were being influenced by their mama’s negative opinions. My Valentine’s Day cynicism was rubbing off on my favorite and most precious people on the planet.

Take Adam for instance. He loves celebrating all holidays. Or at the very least getting excited about them and making everyone aware of said holiday. Hanukkah is one such day. We don’t celebrate this holiday but rest assured that Adam makes it known when it arrives every year. His knack for knowing these things is incredible to me. Even smaller days that most people don’t even know exist. So when Valentine’s Day comes around he wants to celebrate with as much enthusiasm as we do with Christmas and Halloween.

Only one problem with that. He heard me tell someone else how much I dislike the holiday so now every year he gets upset and has adopted the same attitude towards it. My Valentine’s Day cynicism rubbed off on my sweet, funny, happy-go-lucky boy.

my son at his old elementary school playgroud_valentinesdaycynicism_rockinrandommom

Have you ever said things to someone else that you never intended for your kids to hear but they heard it anyway? Yeah, it’s happened to me. This goes beyond Valentine’s Day though. I have developed a very negative outlook on romantic relationships and love. I have been a bit more outspoken about it than I probably should have considering little ears were listening.

This is Conner. He swears up and down he will never get married and never fall in love. Now anyone reading this is probably thinking he’s just a kid and doesn’t know yet. You’re right. He is just a kid but I see in some of his mannerisms and remarks he makes that make me aware of my mistake. Both his father and I have repeatedly said over the past 6 years that we will never remarry.

Over the years he has developed the same attitude and I don’t like it. Not one bit. While I understand as a parent I do have the most influence over my kids, I also encourage them to find their own way. Their dad and I both encourage our boys to have their own opinions and beliefs. But here I am with a child who sees something he barely understands the same way I do. It’s not fair to him. I don’t want my boy to go out into the world with this cynicism about love and relationships.

my son at the arcade_fighting Valentine's Day cynicism_rockinrandommom

So My ex and I had a conversation about this and we thought, “Hey, why not turn this day into a fun family day?” We both decided in order to change our children’s way of thinking about this holiday and about love and relationships, the best way to start would be Valentine’s Day.

We are in agreement that yes, we are both products of divorce and we were never really shown what a healthy relationship looks like. We know that while our marriage failed we have worked very hard to have a healthy co-parent relationship and friendship. We also agree that just because we aren’t together doesn’t mean we’ve doomed our kids to a lifetime of negative relationships.

So to fight our own Valentine’s Day cynicism and to help fight for our kids, we planned a fun night with our boys. I made them cupcakes and chocolate gift bags with their favorite candy inside. Then we took the boys to this new arcade that just opened up at the mall.

giant pac-man game at arcade_fightingvalentinesdaycynicism_rockinrandommom

As it turns out Valentine’s Day wasn’t so bad after all. It all depends on how you choose to celebrate it (or not). We didn’t need a whole bunch of extravagant gestures. All we needed was an evening at the arcade then we ordered some take out afterwards. It was a great night for all of us!

What do you think about how much influence you have over your kids? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks so much for reading!

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Celebrating Valentine’s Day with My 15 All-Time Favorite Love Songs

headphones over a heart_15 favorite love songs_rockinrandommom

As you all know, Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite holiday. However, this year I want to share with you my 10 favorite love songs of all time. Now, I have to be honest. When I decided to write this post I had no idea just how many love songs there actually are. I also had no idea just how many love songs I really enjoy so narrowing down to just 15 was extremely difficult. As I’m writing this I am still struggling to pick just 15 of my favorite love songs.

I have seen blog posts about TV’s best couples and the best romantic movies of all times. As a music enthusiast though, I really want to share my 15 favorite love songs because for me, in many ways, music trumps TV couples and romantic movies. Side note: I am aware many of these songs appear in the latter.

So without further ado, here are my 15 favorite all time love songs:

Oh, and these are in no particular order. That was just way too hard.

Nickelback is one of my favorite bands. A lot of people apparently think these guys are too corny but I love them and this was the song that made them a favorite. This video gets me in the feels every single time!

I mean, come on. Who in my generation hasn’t seen this movie or at the very least heard this song? I adore this song and I loved the friendship between Andie and Duckie, even though he was madly in love with her. I will always root for Duckie!

Everything by Lifehouse has to be on this list of my favorite love songs. The lyrics are so beautiful. “And how can I stand here with you, and not be moved by you?” It’s all about the vibe. Simply standing next to a person and feeling so moved. No words, no gestures. Just vibes. Or maybe a look. That is my favorite line in the whole song and makes this one of the best!

Now you know I wouldn’t have any playlist on my blog without a Bon Jovi song! There are a lot of songs to choose from here. I’ll be There for You, Always, and Thank You come to mind when I think of Bon Jovi songs but Born to be My Baby is my all-time favorite. I love that his wife is in this video too. Their real life love story is inspiring.

Lover Dearest is by Marianas Trench. I discovered them through this song while watching Mass Effect music videos so it’s only fitting that I use the video that started it all.

One of the best TV shows of all time equals one of my favorite love songs of all time. I can’t really say much else about this song other than it always cheers me up. Most love songs don’t do that.

Now I went way back and I personally don’t think you can have any list without at least one song from the King.

Theory of a Deadman isn’t a band most people are familiar with but they are another one of my favorites. The end of a relationship is never easy and this song says it wonderfully.

If you grew up in the 80’s then you know this song. This song will ALWAYS be one of my all time favorite love songs!

This was one of the first songs I heard from Hinder. They still remain one of my favorite bands to this day. This song also partially inspired me to start writing supernatural fiction.

Oh yeah! Did you really think I wasn’t going to have Buffy on the list? Not a chance! While this song was in a different episode, the song sums up Buffy and Angel’s beautiful but tumultuous relationship.

Dido’s song Here With Me became the opening theme song of one of my favorite shows, Roswell. Jason Behr changed the way I looked at aliens;)

Madonna was my first introduction to the love song. When I was little she was my idol. I wanted to be just like her. This song will always be my favorite Madonna song.

Okay so I know this song is cheesy but the romantic in me really loves this song. This is another song that actually lifts my mood. I can’t help but sing along every time I hear it.

Okay so now for my last song. Ya’ll have no idea how hard this was to pick this last song. But I couldn’t let this list go without the beautiful angelic voice of the late, great Whitney Houston.

Wow! That was rough! I have so many other really great songs on my list but these are the ones I chose for the purpose of this post. What are your favorite love songs? Let me know in the comments.

Want to read my other Valentine’s Day related posts? Here ya go:

You’re Prince Will Come

Why I’m Not In Love With Valentine’s Day

Real Love

Thanks so much for reading!

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Book Review #5: The Historian

girl reading a book_book review_the historian_rockinrandommom

I love a good Gothic novel. Ever since reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in college I have loved the writing style and the eerie feel to the descriptions used in these books. The Historian is such a novel. Written by Elizabeth Kostova in 2005, I finally got around to reading this book that had been sitting on my shelf for two years.

Blurb on the Back:

The Historian is the story of a young woman plunged into a labyrinth where the secrets of her family’s past connect to an inconceivable evil: the dark fifteenth-century reign of Vlad the Impaler and a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive through the ages. The search for the truth becomes an adventure of monumental proportions, taking us from monasteries and dusty libraries to the capitals of Eastern Europe – in a feat of storytelling so rich, so hypnotic, so exciting that it has enthralled readers around the world.

As you can see, it’s about the search for Dracula. Well, its a search for the truth that leads to the search for Dracula, er go, I had to read this book!

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What more can be said about The Historian?

Well, it starts off with a teenage girl who has a very close relationship with her father. However, he keeps secrets and goes away on a lot of secret trips. Then he disappears. This prompts the young woman to go searching for him. Through a series of letters, she finds out more about her father, mother and her father’s mentor – who is the reason this search began in the first place.

There are many stories being told within the main story but the main story actually has four stories in one. Try saying that five times fast, ha ha! The young woman, her father, mother, and her father’s mentor. They are all historians in search for the truth.

The mentor, Professor Rossi, starts the adventure through basic historical curiosity that leads him down a dark path. He disappears. There is a book left for the father, Paul. He follows the bread crumbs which lead him to meeting his future wife and mother to the young woman. Together, they go looking for the professor, traveling around most of Europe and down the rabbit hole of evil.

My take on The Historian:

While I generally enjoyed the book, there are some things I didn’t enjoy about it. The story itself is amazing. I felt like I was reading a tamer version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The writing however, reminded me a bit of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (a book that is mentioned a few times). It was kind of dry in certain parts. There were too many descriptions. Even the various monasteries described in the book were too long and I often found myself getting distracted by the descriptions that I forgot where I was in the context of the story.

Describing a great scene is pivotal to storytelling in my opinion but too much description takes away from the story and I found my mind wandering several times throughout the book. Telling a story within a story is challenging.

I have been writing a story about four vampire siblings for ten years now and am still struggling with telling the stories without boring the reader. So, I like that Elizabeth did this. What I didn’t like though was in the first part of the book, the stories are swapped so much that again, I found it difficult to follow at times. This may be a hard read for some.

The writer puts a lot of real life historical facts into the book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I learned more about the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria then I ever thought I would even like to. The Historian was more than entertainment for me. It was learning.

She also did this with Vlad the Impaler. I know a lot about the man but a lot of the history of who he really was and his achievements (and atrocities) are still a mystery to this day. So I really enjoyed learning more.

Dracula is a character who everyone loves to write about because he was a real person. Kind of like Robin Hood. At one point in history a real Robin Hood existed yet the legend has been told differently throughout the ages. He has become more fiction than fact. The same is said of Dracula and people love to write about the legend.

All in all I really enjoyed reading this book. I have made it a point to make reading a part of my bedtime routine so that I can get more reading in. I am looking forward to writing about the different books I plan to read in the coming year.

I hope you enjoyed my book review on The Historian!

Thanks so much for reading!

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Ode to the Books of My Childhood

girl reading book_ode to books of my childhood_rockinrandommom

2018 is the year I make books more of a priority in my life. Right before Christmas, actually, I started reading a book as part of my night time routine to get myself ready for sleep. I’ve been reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I will write my own review on it next week. Anyway, it got me thinking about my history with reading. While Music has always been my first love, I can say that reading was always my second.

Music and books did something wonderful for me. They allowed a lonely and unwanted little girl to escape the realities of her life and enter into new worlds. So I’m going to go through and talk about each book that held significance in my young life and why two of them are still so prevalent for me today.

Where the Wild Things Are:

favorite childhood book_rockinrandommom

I was 7 years old when I saw this book at the library at my school. Smokey the Bear was visiting our school that day with several firemen and it was held in the library. It was 1983 and I was living – to put it nicely- in my father’s house. A lot of bad happened there. This book helped me deal.

I remember how much I wanted to be like Max and escape to another world where the monsters felt more human to me than the humans I was under the “care” of. Those monsters seemed like a lot of fun and they loved Max. I thought, “Could they love me too?”

Of course, I wouldn’t go without bringing my little brother along. We would ride in our own little boat across the ocean to where the wild things are. This book encouraged my imagination to soar but it also allowed me to see a different world where children were valued and loved.

Years later when I had my own kids, this was one of the first books I bought. Of course they never had the appreciation for it that I do but it still sits on my bookshelf with pride. Now I look fondly back on a book that helped to keep me from drowning in darkness.

Nothing’s Fair in the Fifth Grade:

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I don’t know if any of you remember this book. My aunt found it at a flea market when I was 10 and it was perfect for me at the time because 5th grade was when I started puberty. I got teased quite a bit and felt very much like an outsider. I no longer have this book. I lost it a long time ago but it helped me feel better about my situation by reading about Elsie’s.

Dream Boy:

1980's teen romance book_rockinrandommom

This was my first romance novel. By the time I was 14 romance was my thing. I was a dreamer and wanted nothing more than to find a boy like Michael. I actually read this book twice, haha! Those days are long gone though but this book represents for me the girl I used to be. The romantic who wanted so much to be loved.

And finally, the book that gave a young woman hope that lasted for years. This book didn’t just touch the romantic in me. This book touched my tougher side. My stubborn and ambitious side that needed a push. 

Anne Of Green Gables:

classic childhood book_rockinrandommom

No other book has captured my imagination and my love as much as Anne of Green Gables. At 16 years old, I became obsessed with L.M. Montgomery books because of this stubborn and willful redhead who I identified with on every level. Anne was my hero! She represented everything I felt and everything I wanted to be in life.

While there were some differences between Anne and I she had become my fictional best friend. Anne suffered through a lot. She was lonely and felt unloved. Anne was teased at school and made an outcast by several narrow minded parents in town. A child who was immediately looked down upon because of her background. She was a girl who used her vivid imagination to escape. Exactly like I used to be.

However, Anne triumphed and gained the love and respect from everyone in her life. This fictional character filled me with hope for my future. It was almost like she was Alice and she gave me the looking glass. That looking glass allowed me to see beyond my hopeless present and look to a future full of possibilities. I even wanted to have five children because of her and I was going to name my first daughter Anne.

I owned every single L.M. Montgomery book for many years. Then during a flood in an old apartment, I had to throw them away but I will get them back. One by one I will add these precious books to my library again.

What about you? What were your favorite childhood books? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Rockin’ Quote #35: Love Yourself Enough to Set Boundaries

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It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a new quote. I belong to a positivity community on Facebook. My friend and fellow blogger, Becky posted a wonderful quote that really resonated with me. Love yourself enough to set boundaries. So I’m going to share it here because it fits so well with my life and my blog.

It also works well with my recent experience with a friend. He said something that offended me but also made me question some decisions. Then I saw this quote and I was immediately reminded of why I made my choice. It is a reminder to love yourself. It is also a reminder not to be afraid to set boundaries with others.

a quote to love yourself_rockinrandommom

Over the weekend I was gaming with one of my best gal pals when we started playing with another friend of mine. He is also friends with my ex-boyfriend. Since the breakup and my decision to exclude him from my life, I don’t chat with our mutual friends as often.

For whatever reason, my friend decided to comment on this fact and he said we both were being immature about the whole thing. I’ll admit that I was definitely offended by his remark. While I can have my immature moments as we all can, making the decision to eject someone from my life who was affecting my mental health and happiness was about boundaries and that is the opposite of immature.

I don’t believe my friend had any vicious intent when he said that. His perspective on life is different from mine. He’s also young and like myself at his age, he is surrounded by negative people and isn’t given many choices to see life from a different perspective. However, his words did affect me. They made me think twice about my decision not to continue any sort of friendship with my ex-boyfriend.

I was going back and forth about this for a couple of days when I saw the quote. It was like a light bulb went off in my head. Bam! I have set a boundary for myself and I intend to keep it. My decision is based on what I deserve. It’s about the kind of people I want to have in my life – and the kind of people I don’t want in my life.

loveyourself_rockinrandommom

If you love yourself, naturally you will set boundaries for yourself. But is it as cut and dry as that? It took me a long time to learn to love myself. It also took me a long time to recognize my own worth and set boundaries. However, I didn’t always know what boundaries even meant. Growing up, kids were “just kids”. Boundaries wasn’t even a word in the vocabulary in my house.

My aunt often reminded me that my room was her room because it was her house. My clothes and toys she paid for so if she decided to take something away from me, I had no right to argue. If she was mad at me – which was often – she would either take something of mine that I loved or break it just to prove a point.

As a parent, I see my children very differently than she saw me. I value them as human beings with the right to their privacy but also the right to set their own boundaries. I tell them all the time to “love yourself”. That includes setting boundaries. I have two examples of this:

From the time my youngest was a baby, during tickle time I would often pat him on the butt. When he was about 6 years old, he came to me one day after I patted him and said, “Mommy please don’t do that anymore. I don’t like it.” While I will admit that it was tough to break the habit, I respected his wishes. After all, if I’m teaching him to set boundaries with others, then I must allow him to set his own boundaries with me as well. It’s his body and he has a right to say no, even to me.

My second example is my teenager. He closes his door and shuts himself in his room every day. As his mother who is used to just walking in at any given moment, I had to re-adjust my habit to knocking before entering. It was hard at first going from having a little boy whose door was always open to having to knock but this is his boundary.

loveyourself_rockinrandommom

This isn’t something that is necessarily taught or modeled in all households. So not all children become adults that understand their own boundaries, let alone understanding and respecting anyone else’s.

I can now say with full confidence that I have set a boundary and those boundaries will be respected. If not, then those people who fail to be respectful of my wishes can step away. As the quote says, my time and energy is precious. I get to choose how to use it. Love yourself. Only then will you truly know what your boundaries are.

What are your thoughts on boundaries? Leave me a comment below.

Thanks so much for reading!

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