What’s The Name?

It’s a boy!! What a good-looking guy he is! What’s his name?

This is usually the course of conversation after giving birth to a baby. One of the first questions you’re typically asked as a mom is what’s the name. This question is asked so leisurely and carefree. As a mother, we have probably spent the last 10 months (if not years)  pondering over a name for our baby. Rightfully so, I mean this will, more than likely, be their introduction to the world for the rest of their life. A name is important.

You would think with all the weight and judgement that comes with a name, we would get more time and less pressure about naming our babies.

I personally think you should have time to get to know your little bundle before slapping a name on them. We need to see them, hold them, watch them and then we can attach a name to the person. I have luckily been able to do this with all of my kids except 1 and 1/2. The 1/2 child we named at the hospital (out of force) and then 6 months later legally changed her name.

While some of our kids names do not have a significant definition meaning, they each have personal and spiritual meaning to us. I won’t bore you with the naming process of all of my children, but I want to share our latest.

Let me introduce you to Eleven Ellis!

I know, I know eleven is a number not a name, right?  Says who? Who is the person that came up with what defines a name of a person vs object, thing or number. How did we all decide this was ok and we would go along with it? Why is hard for us to challenge social norms?

I must admit I initially was thrown off when my husband suggested the name Eleven. He and my kids are currently obsessed with Stranger Things. I personally have never seen a single episode, but they love it. My husband had taken on special liking to the character dubbed Eleven in the movie. So when we found out we were having another baby (what would be our 11th child on earth) He quickly and excitedly said we should name the baby Eleven! We can call them Elle or El for short. I laughed thinking he was joking, but quickly realized he was serious. So for 10 months we lovingly and me jokingly called the baby Eleven. We had no idea the sex of the baby, but kinda was leaning towards girl. Imagine our surprise when our daughter said it’s a boy!

Could we really and would we really name our baby boy Eleven simply because my husband loves a t.v show and this would be baby number “11”? That wasn’t enough for me. I needed to do more research, I needed to spend time with this guy. So, that’s exactly what we did. For the next 6 days I researched eleven and other names. I paid attention to my feelings and emotions. I watched him and his mannerisms. I thought about what I wanted for his future and what kind of person I hoped he would grow to be. As we did this soul name searching process, we realized he was our 7th biological child together. He was our 7/11!! (we even tossed up the name Seven Eleven)

While researching Eleven we realized the number 11 has some significant meanings:

1. it’s an angel number representing spiritual awakening and enlightenment. It tells us to connect to our higher selves and life purpose. Number 11 is usually called the messenger or teacher. This was so powerful for me! I believe each one of my children were brought into my life for a purpose and to teach me something. Many of their names represent this. This child came during a time of testimony for me. A time where I was and still am going through some major life changes. I was feeling like there is no way I can have another child right now. Number 11 is a message from my angel saying watch my thoughts and remain positive to manifest my prayers! Wow! I felt like Eleven was sent to me as a representation to continue to strive to live my life purpose, to remain positive throughout the adversity, to continue to trust. He is breaking a cycle of constant doubt and familiarity.

2. Eleven’s (the very few) are inspirational, humanitarians, they care deeply about others and their family. They are giving and have strong intuition. They can be deep thinkers and hard workers. When they set their mind to something they do it! Traits I would love for my child to have.

3. We are not religious people by any stretch, however, I do consider myself to very spiritual, philosophical, and a believer in the universe, energy, and power. I believe in omens and messages. With that being said, Jesus had 12 disciples and when Judah betrayed him the remainder disciples were often called the 11. This screamed message to me. See, Eleven is technically our 12th child. We loss our 5th child. During that time, we felt betrayed by God, The Universe, and any other spiritual form. We felt empty and helpless. We were confused and lost. There were so many different emotions. I gave birth to him in December, I was due in April. In May we found out we were pregnant again and with another boy! We went through so many changes of ups and downs. What we realized was, had we not loss LJ there would be no Major and probably Eleven. The course of our lives would have been different without this “betrayal.” We had to loose 1 in order to manifest our life purpose. “The Eleven” will represent this.

So, you see for us, eleven is more than just a number, it’s symbolic, it’s the representation and name of our newest bundle of blessing! While some people will only be able to associate eleven with a number, we hope others will embrace and come to love it as a name!

Our Eleven is more than just a number, he is our SUN, our Ellis!


inspirational, Parenting

Children Do Not Require Much

“shhhhhhhhhh, shhhhhhhh, shhhhhh. Wait Charlie, It’s too hot!” I heard my little Major say to Charlie. I went to see what exactly was to hot and what I found was the two of them nicely playing with a box. “You want to take a bath?” Major asked her as he continue to make the running water sound. I decided to sit and watch them as they carried on with this pretend bath in this box. At that moment, I realized several things. In watching this innocent pretend play among my children, I had a moment of clarity and another brick from my wall came tumbling down!

Children do not require much.

Yep, you heard it here first! But just in case you didn’t catch it, Children do not require much. I have always known that quality time over quanity of things is more important for a healthy happy child; however, I sometimes find myself getting caught up in the societal ideas of things and the idea of things my children should have. Rather it is educational toys, board games, electronic games, and the list goes on, I find myself running to the store for birthdays and holidays to buy these things, when in reality my children would rather play with miscelanous things they find around the house. Children are really simple beings, it is us who make them complicated. They only require and honestly, desire the basic needs in life food, water, shelter, and love. We, as a society, begin to put these other wants and desires into their minds and change them into something else.

As the wonderful Holiday of Christmas quickly approaches- and I for the first time in my life haven’t run out to buy up the entire stores for my children-still find my self struggling with this idea.

The noise of society swishes around in my head, “your a bad mother””what’s wrong with you” “you’re not in the Christmas spirit” “you need to get it together” “no gifts, what are you going to do for Christmas” and the noise goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying zero gifts (that many bricks didn’t fall, YET) however, I am saying quality over quantity. I am saying a packed Christmas tree is no longer necessary. After losing my mom in 2014, we decided to take a family vacation for Christmas. (A) to celebrate  what would have been my moms 50 birthday. (B) to get away and do something different after a really rough time. We skipped gifts that year and took a trip instead. Although we didn’t get to have a nice good ole fashion Christmas dinner, we did have a fantastic time. Memories were made that can’t be trashed, replaced, set aside, or forgotten.

Every Holiday we are told to go out and buy an enormous amount of stuff only to replace that same stuff with new stuff on the next Holiday. Slowly we either replace old stuff or begin to collect stuff that has no real sentimental value.

I want you to think about a thing that has sentimental value to you …………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Got it? No? Need more time?—————————————————

Ok, if you don’t have it by now, these next few sentences won’t apply to you so feel free to skip over them. For those of us who have the thing in our mind that has sentimental value, what makes this thing special? Why is important to you? What is the story behind it? What do you remember about it? Can you tell me a story about it? Sticking with the holiday theme. One thing that is sentimental to me is this little elf  we have on our tree. img_2118

This little elf is special because he has been in our family since 1978. He is important to me because he was on my granny Christmas tree, then my mothers, and now mine. I remember putting this elf on the tree every single year! I always put him on last and I remember I would get into trouble when I was younger, because I would play with him like a barbie doll with the rest of my barbies during Christmas. My granny would get so mad at me, but I absolutely loved to play with him. It was something about him that made me happy, probably the fact he is an elf!

You see the elf himself isn’t sentimental the memories around the elf are sentimental. The memory the elf brings back to my mind when I see him is what is important. Even without the elf himself, I would still have these sweet memories of putting him on the tree.

Is this resonating with you?

Are you getting this?

You see, the thing you thought of probably wasn’t opened in a sea of other things on a random Holiday full of gifts. The thing you thought of has a memory attached to it. I have bought my kids over a thousand items and many of those things they can’t remember. I believe this is because they were too busy opening the next gift and the next gift and the next gift. In a society were we are never satisfied and always saying give me more, give me more, Christmas has done nothing but to aide in this more, more, more attitude.

Think about how kids rip through gifts on Christmas, not having a moment to fully enjoy what it’s front of them, because they are looking forward to whats to come. Wow! Does that sound familiar. Sometimes as adults were are unable to enjoy what’s in front of us because we are looking for what’s next.

Learned behavior?

This Christmas we aren’t traveling, but we aren’t ripping through tons of gifts, we aren’t focusing on presents, but  we are going to focus on the present  and each others presence. I’m going to listen to my kids and give them exactly what their hearts and soul want and require connection, fully and wholeheartedly. I’m going to make memories with them that may become attached to an item they get this year, but it won’t be the item it will really be the memory! I’m listening with to my soul not to my society.

Someday, Major and Charlie will see a box and they will laugh and they will get a warm and fuzzy feeling. I imagine they will say, “I love boxes! I remember when we use to collect boxes and make up games to play with them. Now every time I see a box it makes me happy! Such great memories”


inspirational, Life strategies, Parenting

Live Inside Your Walls

After brushing my teeth, I begin to put the few things away that were straggled on my counter. As I cleared the things, I stumbled across a spiderman toothbrush cover. I picked it up held in my hand and begin to smile. It was covered in old, hard toothpaste. It must have fell behind my counter, because the kid that adored this toothbrush holder was now in college. I sat down on the edge of my bathtub and listened to the silence. The silence that was once bliss and desired more than anything in the world. Tears begin to stream down my eyes as I held this tiny toothbrush holder in my hand. I looked around my bathroom and it was spotless. Not a thing out of place. I had spent yesterday cleaning it which explains how this tiny treasure had surfaced. I had longed for so long the desire to have a spotless bathroom, you know the kind that you see in magazines. And finally the day had come, and I was sitting in my magazine worthy bathroom balling tears of sadness. Why was I so sad? I pulled myself up and got dressed. Life was so different now, my house stayed clean, I had ample amount of quiet time and I was never short on me time. My career was thriving, yet my heart wished for the ‘good ole’ days. The days when I had tiny feet running about. The days when I had people storming into my bedroom asking me for help. The days when I had tiny arms wrapping around my neck and pecking me with little kisses. The days when my days were full of joyful chaos. Why had I rushed those sweet days away? Why was I in such a hurry for things to be different? Sure, I loved my life now and I enjoyed how things were, but there was still those sweet memories of yesterday.

What is it that makes us rush our present, in hopes of a better tomorrow only to get to tomorrow and wish for another yesterday?

I find myself, as a mother of 9 children at home, hoping for better tomorrows. Hoping that one day I don’t have to fuss as much. Hoping that one day my house will stay clean. Hoping that one day I will have an hour to myself. Hoping that one day I will get a moment of peace and quiet. I find myself daydreaming of these tomorrows. The problem is while I am daydreaming of these tomorrows the today is a blur. As a mother of 1 child out of the house, I find myself wishing for yesterdays when he was tiny. I know all to well what is to come, wishing for yesterdays; however I still find myself hoping for better tomorrows.

It’s almost as though society has arranged it for happiness to be impossible. The system has been setup to never be satisfied always wishing for something. It would have us believe we are incapable of living in the present. We have been programed to be living in the past or looking to the future rather eagerly or anxiously.

I have spent a lot time talking about kicking down walls and living outside the box. But for a moment I want us to live in the box. I want us to stop and look around our tiny little box and recognize the beauty of our box. Not concerned with what is going on outside the box, not wondering how we got into the box, but simply enjoying the box. For a moment we aren’t going to try to rip down the walls and get to a better place, instead we are going to say our box is our box and it’s enough! Can you make up your mind Tanyell….. I know, I know it can seem confusing. But, part of living beyond the walls is recognizing that our walls are our walls.

Let me explain. We take the time to build our perfect little four walls. For me my walls consist of my husband, 10 children, a dog, cat, a few small animals, my private practice, our inflatable business, our spirituality and view of the world, and a few other bricks. I have been careful with building these walls, being very strategic with each brick. However, inside these walls is chaos, craziness, madness, messiness, laughter, yelling, love, tears, laughter, and a plethora of other things. People will often come inside my four walls and begin to tell me what I need to change what I need to do different. I sometimes find myself comparing my four walls to other people four walls. And slowly, the beautiful bricks that I have strategically placed and the perfectly carved wood I have placed, I begin to chisel and hammer down. I find myself beating my bricks up and cutting my wood up with should and could. I find myself saying I can’t wait until this brick is gone or this wood is moved so I can_________ fill in the blank. My once perfect walls slowly get destroyed piece by piece by piece. The light shinning through isn’t a bright happy light of promises of freedom. The light shinning through is a blinding bright light that forces me to cover my eyes. My walls are crumbling and it doesn’t feel good.

In order to repair the holes in my walls, I must begin to plug them with memories and moments of the present. Take time to enjoy the tiny moments that are happening within them. The heftiness of life and all of it’s imperfections. It means allowing my littles to sleep in the middle one more night while my husband and I hold onto the edge of the bed. It means wiping tears and cleaning non existence booboos. It means stepping over toys and framing literal wall art. It means listening to the yelling and screaming and the details of who did it. It means putting the phone down to make eye contact and fully engage in a 20 min story about a teddy bear and barbie doll. It means reading one more bedtime story.  It means walking into a bathroom with tissue hanging off the roll and toothpaste spilled across the counter top from little hands brushing little teeth.

Sometimes life beyond the walls means remaining in our four walls. Sometimes it means not allowing others to come inside of our walls and try to tear them down with their ideals and opinions. Life beyond the walls can mean seeing beyond our walls to know that everyones four walls are different and the beauty inside of each of them is to be held by the person living inside. Before you begin to chisel down the walls in your life, make sure they aren’t your four walls that you built.

After brushing my teeth, I begin to look around at the toys in the bathtub from last night baths, the toothpaste splatters on the mirror from big spits, the clothes on the floor that lead into the closet were pajamas were kept, the tissue dangling from the roll from someone who needed a piece to clean their nose. I looked around at the beautiful mess of life, fun, and memories. I took a deep breath, put my toothbrush away, and walked out of the bathroom leaving the mess for another moment. I went out into the living room and embraced myself for all the mommies and feels that were going to flood me before I could make my way to the coffee pot. I took the time and hugged each and everyone of them looking deep into their tiny eyes and feeling their tiny arms try to wrap around me. I hugged my bigs and remembered their tiny arms. I took mental pictures of this moment and listened to all the dreams and the plans for the day. I didn’t think about the dishes, the work load, the better tomorrows. I held onto this moment and closed in the holes of my walls so no light could get in and I could focus my eyes on the beauty of what was happening inside of my walls. And at that moment I begin to live life beyond the walls within my walls!


Potty Training….. Who does that?!



I started using the bathroom at the ripe age of just 1 hour old! Yep, I was a smart little cookie. I have no idea how I knew what to do, but somehow I just did! No one had to teach me this must have skill, but yet I did it anyway. I can apply this to eating, crawling, talking, and walking, maybe I am a genius! Buzz… Wrong answer! Amazingly, as humans we are designed to learn, and sometimes without the help or assistance of others! Can you believe that, our survival as humans is totally and completely dependent on us learning and mastering new skills. This information and change in thought process changed my life when it came to potty training my children.

I remember with my first son, playing games like sink the tissue and with my first daughter giving her candy every time she would pee on the pot after sitting there for hours. It was a dreadful and tedious process. I literally stressed myself out trying to get them potty trained by the age of 2! By the time my fourth child came around,  I was over the idea of potty training. Everyone I ran into would recommend books for me to read they were appalled by the idea that she wasn’t potty training. Let’s just be honest does it really matter what age you were potty trained? Raise your hand if you remember what age you were potty trained.  Was this a question that I overlooked on my college application? Does being potty trained by a certain age make you smarter than the next kid? These are the things I began to ask myself. I mean really, what is the big deal? When son number 3 child number 5 came along, I decided I wasn’t going to potty train him. GASP!!! I said to myself as long as he is potty trained before he is 5, it doesn’t matter. My philosophy became if we learn how to walk and talk on our own who is to say we won’t learn to use the pot on our own. Who became the brainiac behind this idea of potty training, and where did they get this magic number from? I was no longer going to stress myself about this. People thought I had lost my mind when I would say I am not potty training him. When I explained our nontraditional potty training, I got remarks like “ok when he is 5 and still not using the bathroom you are going to regret this.” I knew my son was smart, and he picked up on these things pretty quickly. He loved and still loves to learn, is curious by nature, and wants to know and understand everything. Wait, isn’t that every toddler? So my thought was if he saw everyone else in our house using the toilet (more so daddy) then surely eventually he would want to do the same. If all else failed, he isn’t going to walk around in his mess forever, right? So the nontraditional potty training quest began!

I wasn’t going to potty train

When my husband would use the thrown, he would allow my son to watch, explaining that he was going pee in the potty. My son was amused by this feat! First off, daddy as a penis too! Secondly, Look what daddy penis can do! (boys have to love them) Soon my son started peeing  in the shower amazed by his personal feat,  I would praise him for this! Using statements like, “Wow you went pee” “Whoa look what you did you made a peepee” or “Great Job, now you can do that in the potty like daddy”! We would do this routinely with him. Never stressing over it or making him sit on the potty for hours with nothing happening. I allowed him to run around the house without clothing and without a diaper so he understood his little penis would make pee throughout the day. After just a few weeks of this non stress, nontraditional potty training, my little 21 month old started using the potty. He started at home on his own. One day he took out running for the toilet, when I followed behind to see what was going on, I was sure he was getting into trouble. To my amazement, he was going pee! He completely bypassed me and did it all on his own! I of course praised him and genuinely praised him because I was absolutely  amazed and shocked! I got the same feeling of joy I had the first time he took steps on his own! I am proud to say he is less than 3 years old and sleeps through the night without a pull up and doesn’t have any accidents, all of this without ‘formal’ training! Yep, he pretty much learned on his own. I couldn’t care less about the age, I am merely proud because he did it on his own and without me STRESSING!

For me this changed my view of potty training and teaching for that matter. Children are sponges and they love to learn especially visually and when involved.

“Tell me and I forget, Teach me and I remember, Involve me and I learn” Benjamin Franklin


Why Not Say Yes

“May I have some candy?” NO! “May I watch TV?” NO! “May I have a pb&J Sandwich for Dinner?” NO! WHY NOT!!!! What is preventing you from giving your kids a yes?

I recently had the privilege of taking a parenting class for parents who are parenting children from hard places aka parents of adopted children, known as Empowered to Connect. The information given in this class is from the book The Connected Child written by Karen Purvis. To say that the information I was given in this class was wall breaking, is saying the very least. As a mother of both biological and adopted children, I feel like this information should be given to every parent, because let’s just face it, we all come from hard places. Being birthed alone is traumatizing and hard for an infant.

While taking this class, we were given different parenting tools to try and explore, one of the tools that impacted and knocked down so many bricks in a wall I didn’t even know I had built, was a day of yes.

Many times, we think as parents we have to provide structure and protect our children from this big bad world. While this is true, it is also important to connect with our children and build a secure attachment with them. One of the ways to achieve this goal is allowing your children the opportunity to learn they can talk to you, but more importantly trust you. Saying yes to our children could provide them space to not be afraid to come to us in difficult times and ask hard questions, because they know you will answer reasonably and fairly. They learn how to accept no better and with ease. They begin to understand the whys behind the yes and no. If you are a parent that constantly says no to your children, you risk the possibility of them shutting down and shutting you out as they get older. No does not provide opportunities for experiences, growth, or connection. 

For me, this day of yes seemed daunting, I mean I have 9 children at home 8 of them can talk and ask for things. My initial thought was this could and probably will get out of control, they are going to suck me dry. What I found, is that my bigger kids had become so complacent with me saying no they hardly ask for anything. My oldest at home, didn’t ask for anything, and my younger ones while they asked for things constantly; their request were fairly reasonable and within acceptable boundaries. If this was the norm, why was my go to usually no?

I found, I typically say no out of pure convenience and selfishness. Not only was it easier for me to say no, but sometimes I simply didn’t  want to share or stop doing what I was doing to say yes. Examples? Well, on our yes day I fixed a nice breakfast for the kids as they ate breakfast and I proceeded to sit down at the computer to do a little prep for the remainder of the day. My 4 year comes to me and says can I have an orange? Now my go to would have been no eat breakfast. It’s an orange people! Relatively healthy and again an orange. Not a bag of chips or piece of candy.  I said yes, he was ecstatic, he did a little happy dance as we went into the kitchen so I could peel his orange. As I analyzed the situation, I realized I wanted to say no because I didn’t want to stop what I was doing and get up to go peel an orange. Now there are times I would have said not right now, when I finish this, in a minute, etc etc. These are all acceptable, however, many times it’s just easier to say no. No is final! I don’t have to hear now can I have one, are you done yet, is it a minute, blah blah blah. However, yes is final too! It took me all of 30 seconds to peel the orange and he was happy and content and I could go back to what I was doing and actually get it finished. Yes was better than no. Another example, I will usually treat myself to chick fil a once a week. It’s my treat just for me no one else. I came home  with my Arnold Palmer and set it down. I only had a few sips left.a few min later here comes my 5 year old can I have this mommy? My gut turned into knots as my lips started to form no, that’s mine. (I mean can’t this mommy have anything to herself.) That’s what would have went through my mind.  Instead I formed a smile on my face and said yes. Her eyes lit up and she drank the last few swallows. She was a happy girl. In my self analyzing, I realized sometimes, ok most times, I don’t like to share. Had my cup been full I may have been more likely to fail this yes, but the reality is  I could have easily poured her some in a little cup and we both would have been happy. Win win. 

When you have multiple children, you are bombarded with questions all day long. And saying yes to all of them all of the time isn’t realistic nor healthy parenting, however, taking a moment to discern can I say yes to this is what’s important. Understanding the why behind your No.

 My challenge to you is to pick a day and on that day say yes to your child/children  (within reason)for an entire day. You don’t want your child being put in harms way, so please use discernment and common sense. Push yourself beyond your limits and say yes to as much as possible. No matter how bad you may want to say no, if you can say yes, say yes! While doing this challenge, keep track of your feelings and emotions. Remember it’s only for one day! A day of yes is an opportunity for you to not only build a stronger bond with your children, but it also provides you with an opportunity to understand yourself and why you parent the way you do. Saying yes can be enlighting as well as freeing. It opens up doors that you may have never knocked on let alone set foot in. It provides you with the chance to grow beyond your comfort zone, and what happens when we grow beyond our comfort zone? Walls come tumbling down! So, get to it…. Happy Yessing!! 


I’m the Parent. You will Respect me.

When you think of respect, what comes to mind? What does respect mean to you? How would you define respect? 

According to the merriam dictionary, respect is defined as having a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something for their abilities. With that definition, how does respect fit into parenting? 

When I was growing up, respect meant I better do what my mother says or else, it meant saying yes mam/yes sir, it meant looking at my elders when they were talking to me, it meant staying in a child’s place (which I am still not exactly sure where that place was), it meant doing things simply because my mother said so. I remember thinking when I become a parent, I am not going to make my kids do all these things and I am not going to act like this. What I found was, although I may not parent exactly like I was raised, I still had a definition of respect in my head that didn’t fit the definition of what respect really meant. I still had the same ideologies about respect as my parents and the world. I felt like my kids should respect me simply because I was their mother. I mean, I could argue that being their mother is a pretty admirable thing, right! Aside from the fact I am admirable, if I take the definition of respect literal, the reality is my kids are not obligated to respect me. Gasp….. 

Ok, have you closed your mouth and regained oxygen to your brain? Great, let’s keep going!

I have learned two things that have moved me beyond the walls when it comes to parenting and respect, 1. my kids are not obligated to respect me and 2. the things I deemed as respectful were simply things that helped my ego and pride. I know that is heavy stuff. Let’s look at the terms yes mam and yes sir. At one point in my parenting career, I required my oldest child to say yes mam/yes sir to all adults. I felt this was respectful, because my parents made me say it and taught me this was respectful. But, hold on a minute, didn’t you say earlier you vowed you wouldn’t do things your parents did? Yep, I sure did, but again I got trapped behind the walls of life and society and I found myself doing things I didn’t really want to do nor did I understand why I was doing it. But I have digressed, back to topic. 

So, I was requiring my child to say yes mam/yes sir, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why. I tried to convince myself it made him have manners, and he got a lot of attention and I got a lot of praise for his “manners.”Yet and still, Who said that these two words were the be all to respect and the cause of his manners. I mean honestly, I met a lot of other parents who didn’t require their children to say yes mam/yes sir and they were very respectful children with excellent manners may I add. I began to really research and I realized this term was geographical and mostly used in the south. I also realized the brutal history of the term yes mam/yes sir and the reality that the terminology was used to show authority, belittle, and control. It really was a prideful thing. I am your boss you need to say yes mam and no mam to me simply because I am bigger and better than you, that’s it no other reason. I quickly released this idea of requiring my children to say yes mam/yes sir a simple yes and no would be just as efficient. It became as simple as use your words, don’t shake your head at me, open up your moth and speak. Well, this is all fine and dandy if your child has the language and cognitive development to say yes and no. For some children, a nod or the shake of their head may be all they can give and they can still be just as respectful.

This new ideal of thought blew up my thought pattern and required me to question all my ideals surrounding respect. Is respect set or fluid? Is it individualized or universal? Is it earned or given? I believe society likes to tell us respect is set, it looks like this and anything different is disrespect. It’s universal, it doesn’t matter the person or situation respect is respect. And respect is simply given to people in authority, they don’t have to earn it you respect them simply because of who they are. Society doesn’t feel there are levels to respect it is what is and it certainly isn’t a feeling you feel it is a requirement you do. I, however, believe there are two types of respect there is earned respect or the big R and there is given respect or the little r. Given respect is set and universal. Earned Respect, however, is fluid and individualized. Given respect you do, earned respect you feel. Just for fun, let’s call the little r respect SURG (set universal respect given) and the big R Respect FIRE(fluid individualized respect earned). Come on humor me! 

SURG respect is the kind of respect we give to people with titles or who hold certain positions. Examples would be police officers, teachers, government officials, parents, and so on. Some of them may not deserve our Respect and some surely haven’t earned it; however we will show them a set and universal amount of respect simply because of their title. What is set and universal respect? Why I am so glad you asked. Let us turn to the big book of the bible. Although the bible doesn’t use the exact word respect, it does have some pretty good advice on giving and showing respect. Matthew 7:12 treat others the way you want to be treated. Well, Tanyell how is that set and universal? We all may want to be treated differently. Nope, every single person wants to be loved and honored. (Universal) So universal respect shows love and honor for a person. How that is done may look different, but the end result will always be the same (set) the person receiving the respect will feel good after being in your presence. You know how to make a person feel good, because you know what will make you feel good.  FIRE Respect is different, you may have Respect for your mailman because of the admiration you have for them, therefore, you may do something different or extra for them to show your respect. You may give them a card, you may address them by mam or sir because you know that pleases them and out of admiration you want or have the desire to please them. You may greet them at the mailbox every evening and say hello and ask them how their day is going. Your level of respect and how you choose to show it may change day to day (Fluid) and the way you respect them may be different from the way you respect your neighbor (individualized), whom you admire and adore just as much. 

So, how does this work with parenting? First, my kids must know there are some people who they must have a certain amount of SURG for. So, as their mother they may not feel I deserve respect or have an admiration for me, but I did give birth to them and therefore they will show me respect. This means when I am in their presence I want to walk away feeling good. I don’t want to walk away feeling degraded and bad. You can speak to me in a respectful way, you can look me in the eyes, you can acknowledge me when I am in your presence, you can answer me when I speak to you. Don’t talk to me a way you wouldn’t want me to talk to you. You want me to give you my attention when you are speaking so show me the same courtesy. It’s teaching your child to value other people the same way they want to feel valued no matter how they may feel about that other person.   The other side to this is every day I am working toward earned respect from my kids. I want them to admire me and adore me and have a desire to show me FIRE. The type of Respect that goes deep. For me, what many people deem as disrespectful as a parent I do not. My child expressing to me that they are unhappy about their chore and they don’t like doing it, isn’t disrespectful they have the right to express themselves; however, because I hold the title of parent and I provide a roof over their head and food on their table they will do the chore. Why? Because, that is how they would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. At the same time, when my children enter into a room I greet them and say hello or good morning. I don’t wait for them to acknowledge me first. Many would deem this as them being disrespectful because I am the authority, therefore they greet me first. However, because I am trying to earn their Respect I treat them with SURG. I want them to greet me when I walk into a room; therefore, I will greet them when they walk into a room. Treat others how you want to be treated. For me, respect is a two way street. You can’t demand a person gives you big R Respect, child or not. You can’t demand a child says yes mam/yes sir and expect them to continue this behavior out of love as an adult if they don’t truly Respect you. 

What does this mean? Are you saying that I should just dismiss my ideas of respect and let my children run wild? Not at all, I take you back to my original questions when you think of respect, what comes to mind and what does respect mean to you?I challenge you to break down your walls around respect and redefine what respect means to you without the world defining it for you.  Are you giving your children the same type of respect you are requiring of them? Are your definitions of respect prideful and egotistical or are they unpretentious and humble? Should you be respected out of authority or admiration? Ask yourself am I a parent worth respecting rather than fearing. Does your child obey out of fear or respect?  I have a saying, when children are young they follow the rules out of fear, but when they become older they follow rules out of respect. 

Be careful not to confuse control as respect, one is earned through admiration the other demanded through fear. 

Feeling intrigued, inspired, or even irritated hop on over to I’m a great parent , my kid is busier than yours for more indulgence! 


I am a great parent…. My kid is busier than your kid!

When did parents living through their children become the monument of parenthood? When did kids having schedules jammed pack become the staple to good parenting? When did kids being the best at everything become the focal point of conversation? What happened to children going to school, coming home, going outside, and neighborhood basketball was the highlight of their evening. What happened to the innocence of childhood? As a mother of 6, people always ask me how can you afford them, my answer- children are only as expensive as you make them. In reality, parents make the cost of raising children unbearable. Does your child need to play in every little league sport there is at the age of 3 or are you doing that for your gratitude? The only real expense to children is food, daycare, (if you work) health care, and college fund. Of course there are diapers and formula (if you choose not to breastfeed), but that is short term. Let’s be honest everything else can be budgeted and adjusted. Do you really need to shop at Macy’s for a 2-year-old and how many outfits realistically does a 4 month old need?

In reality many parents have this idea that the more my child does, the nicer their clothes are, the more money I spend on them the better parent I am. As if any of these things classify as a great parent. I have seen 3 year olds in $100 shoes, but they couldn’t count to 10,  I would argue the latter speaks volumes about your parenting. It has become that parents across the country are shuttling their poor children around from one activity to the next. I have heard parents in their circles comparing notes on whose child is busier and not to mention whose child is the best on the team or in school.  I myself have fell victim to this pomp and circumstance and was running all over the world keeping my kids ‘active’. My question is,  have any of these parents really stopped and asked the child is this what you need or for that matter want? I did and their answers were life changing!  Most kids want the simple things in life.  Many of these kids are being shuttled around, but are completely disconnected from their parents and feel alone. If you were to ask these parents what is your childs favorite color, they probably wouldn’t have the slightest clue, however,  they can tell you how many goals they scored in soccer. There is a complete disconnect happening. The idea of family dinner is being replaced by t-ball and cheerleading.

When you ask many of these parents the rationale of their child playing so many sports at such a young age, the rationale is college scholarships or the infamous “maybe they will put me into retirement” I didn’t know that children served as 401k’s now. The reality is  there are 7 billion people in the world the chance of their child getting accepted into a pro league or becoming the next president or whatever astronomical goal they have placed on these tiny souls is slim. So what is it with these demands and pressures parents place on their children. When did the idea of childhood and parenthood shift?


I was recently watching Timothy Green, and they were listing off the qualities they wanted in their child. (what happened to we just want a healthy baby) They originally didn’t want a child that was athletic, but once Timothy came that thought was booted out the window and they were pushing Timothy to be something he wasn’t. All the while, it was for their own selfish purpose. Somehow they got caught up in the hoopla of parenting wars of the whois of who of childhood. The husband wanted to redeem his failures as a child with his father and the mother wanted to save face with her sister. The big picture their insecurities were becoming Timothy’s cross to bear.

Don’t allow your fear of failure to become your childs cross to bear. -Tanyell

Timothy was carrying the weight of all his parents issues on his shoulder, and because that is a tall order for a little person, he wasn’t doing so well, which then stressed the parents out and made them want to push him more and more toward unattainable perfection.

Children are not tiny robots that we program and control, they are tiny people that we encourage and love -Tanyell

The one moment in the Movie when they thought their child was going to be the star child…. he kicks the ball into the wrong goal! Is that a not teachable moment for those parents that want their child to be the best at everything. It is so important to understand your child’s best may not be the same as Johnny’s best.

So what is this blog about Tanyell? This is about parents relaxing and allowing children to be children. This is about parents allowing their children to smell the roses and understand that life doesn’t have to be a rat race filled with an overflowing schedule and to do list. This is about parents not passing stress down to their children. this is about slowing life down. This is about parents understanding that family dinners and quality time will always and forever be more meaningful than anything else. This is about parents understanding that heartfelt conversations with your child, bedtime stories, weekend cuddles and lazy afternoons will be the moments that your child will cherish. Sure extra curricula activities are nice and maybe even a little important, however, they aren’t iron mike trophies to great parenting. Children don’t require a lot of money what they do require is a lot of love, patience, and attention. You can have all the money in the world, but if you don’t have those three things to give then maybe you need to rethink the idea of having a child.


Co-sleeping…… I need my sleep!!

Let me begin this post by stating, there is several different researches out there on co-sleeping, therefore, if you are on the fence with this topic please take the time to do the research for yourself. This is my personal opinion, beliefs, and take on co-sleeping.

When I had my first child, I had no one to tell me what to do exactly, well except my family members, they of course “knew” how to do everything! There was no one that could tell me definitively if I did A then B would happen or vice versus, so everything was trial and error. It didn’t help that I was teen mother. After I left for college and begin to study psychology, I begin to formulate my own beliefs and thought processes on raising children. There were so many different principles, beliefs, and theories, and each one of them had something that resignated to my heart. When I had my second child, I knew that I wanted to do some things differently starting with breastfeeding! I started by putting my little one in the basinet next to my bed. Those first few days we struggled. We struggled with breast feeding and we struggled with sleeping. I was exhausted! A few days later, my Granny past away, she was an intricate part of my life, and I was devastated. Suddenly, I wanted my babies close to me. I had always had dreams of my kids cuddling in bed with me and us watching family movies, but that dream seemed so silly. I could always hear people telling me I was insane for wanting my kids in my bed, and I believed them, until this moment in my life. I had so many fond memories of cuddling in bed with my Granny and us watching movies or sharing stories. I had these memories all the way through adulthood. Every time I went home to visit her, I was never to old to get in bed with her and cuddle. What a blessing to have these sweet, fond, precious, irreplaceable  memories! I immediately threw common critics out the window and decided to put my baby in the bed with me. My life changed forever!

Suddenly my baby was actually breastfeeding, it wasn’t a struggle anymore, I was getting more sleep than I hadn’t gotten in months, and life was good. As I continued this journey in co-sleeping, I realized the bond I was building with my baby was one that could never be broken. As she got older, I noticed how secure she was didn’t seem to have any mistrust issues going on, and I immediately thought about Erik Erikson trust and mistrust stage. This felt good for me. I remember taking her to the pediatrician when she was two and the pediatrician telling me to put a baby gate up at her door to keep her from coming into my  bed at night, because she needed to sleep in her bed. The thought of my baby standing their terrified and screaming was horrifying to me. Like all advice I listened pondered over it, but realized it wasn’t the right advice for my family and tossed it the minute we walked out the door. I decided co-sleeping would become part of my parenting style. I knew that one day this sweet baby girl would no longer have a desire to sleep in our bed. For all those people that ask, won’t they be in your bed forever? Today at 11 she sleeps in her own bed. *gasp*  There are still those sweet moments that she will come and lay in bed with us and we will snuggle and cuddle and I hold those moments so dear to my heart. Since making the decision to co-sleep,  I have had 2 other little ones and currently 2 little ones co-sleep with me!

When I decided to pursue my Masters in Family Therapy, I remember learning about attachment and did this spark a flame in me! I remember thinking this is exactly why I co-sleep with my babies. When people ask me why do I co-sleep, I say to them aside from the fact I can get a good night sleep? I mean seriously isn’t that enough as a new parent? When they want more than just that, I give them my spill. So why do I co-sleep? For starters when I think about birth and how scary that must be for an infant it is enough to make co-sleeping seem only natural. Let’s really think about that process for a second. Your in a place that is warm, cozy, you can hear your mothers heart beat, her voice, she is near you all the time, and you feel so safe and secure. THEN all of sudden something happens and you are being forced out of your home the only place you know pushed into a world of chaos. It’s cold, scary, bright, there are strangers passing you around, you have no idea what is happening. Strangers are poking you, pulling you, and torturing you. *side note: This is why I am an advocate for home births* No wonder babies cry!! They finally stop crying when… they are bundled tightly and close to mom again. Just that thought alone is enough to want to make sure my precious little baby feels safe and secure at all times in this big scary world. The next step to my pro co-sleeping is the anti crib in me. A crib is a baby prison. Let’s just call it what it is. Seriously could there not be any other design for a crib? (surprise there is) I remember watching babies in their cribs balling and sticking their little hands through the bars, it was heart wrenching for me. I thought once again from a baby perspective. They must be thinking, why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? And to be totally honest my thoughts were, we are not dogs so why do we cage our children like they are? My anti crib became my pro co-sleeping. For me, putting myself into the shoes of an infant made me more and more pro co-sleeping. My other line of thought process became, what did mothers do before cribs. What did mothers during cave times do? Naturally, they more than likely co-slept! Aside from what else with they do with their child, I would imagine they had to protect their young from other animals such as lions, tigers and bears. Oh my!  What other way  to protect your young during the night, but to co-sleep with them. These are the reasons I co-sleep. For me, it seems like the only natural thing to do. We are the only animal species that will die as babies if we don’t have another persons touch. What does that say about our species? That speaks volumes to me. For me it isn’t about detaching, as that is so harmful and can even kill us, but about attaching and having someone to protect us, make us feel safe and secure. For me, this is what co-sleeping does. It is the natural progression after birth to building a secure attachment and bond.

baby sleeping positions (2)

So who changed the thought process on co-sleeping…. MEN of course! Hence the above ^^^ picture!  Seriously, there is no evidence or concrete information on when co-sleeping became taboo or frowned upon. I, however, have come in contact with several women that talk about their husband’s frustration with co-sleeping or how their husbands wouldn’t agree to co-sleeping, and the number one question I get is how do you still get your groove on with your kids in the bed?! This is how I envision the change occurring. Man, “we aren’t able to procreate like we should, because of this child. I have built this safe shelter for us, we no longer need to worry about bears or tigers trying to eat him.” Wife, “What do you suggest we do with him, let him sleep on the cold concrete?” Man, “I will build something for this child to sleep in.” And voila the first crib was invented! Ok, Back to reality! I didn’t know that the bedroom or the bed was the ONLY place to get busy. My husband and I tend to be creative and actually enjoy our creativity and how co-sleeping aides in helping us keep the spice alive in our relationship. In need of some ideas on how to keep the spice alive while the baby is in the bed, watch my youtube on this very topic.  If you haven’t guessed by now, I am an advocate for co-sleeping! Surprise!! For me, the advantages far out weigh the cons or what some try to consider the dangers. According to some research, Co-sleeping may promote long-term emotional health. A study done with Infants who slept with their parents versus those who slept alone, found the children who co-slept were happier, less anxious, had higher self-esteem, were less likely to be afraid of sleep, had fewer behavioral problems, tended to be more comfortable with intimacy, and were generally more independent as adults. These qualities are the qualities I want in my children and honestly I see many of these qualities in my older children. Not toot my own horn, but, toot toot! Often times, we are approached by people astonished at how well behaved my children are. (probably because there is so many of them) This can be attributed to many things, but for the sake of this article I will attribute a portion to co-sleeping!

Am I saying that those children who do not co-sleep with their parents are doomed? Absolutely not! Co-sleeping to me is another avenue of parenting another avenue of approach, and like all things there will be cons, pros, critics, and supporters. Parenting is the only job that doesn’t require training, however, is the hardest job you will ever have. It’s always trial and error, literally on the job training and you have to do what feels right for you, your child, and your family. Remember the difference between abuse and discipline is love. As long as you parenting as your TRUE SELF and coming from a place of love, it will work itself out beautifully! The key is being true to your beliefs and loving.

I wan to leave you with a quick inspiring story that changed my perspective on birth. I hope you enjoy!

A pair of twins were having a conversation while in the womb.

Twin A – Tell me, do you believe in life after birth?

Twin B – Of course. After birth comes life. Perhaps we are here to prepare for what comes after birth.

Twin A – Forget it! After birth there is nothing! From there, no one has returned! And besides, what would it look like?

Twin B – I do not know exactly, but I feel that there are lights everywhere … Perhaps we walk on our own feet, and eat with our mouth.

Twin A – This is utterly stupid! Walking isn’t possible! And how can we eat with that ridiculous mouth? Can’t you see the umbilical cord? And for that matter, think about it for a second: postnatal life isn’t possible because the cord is too short.

Twin B – Yes, but I think there is definitely something, just in a different way than what we call life.

Twin A – You’re stupid. Birth is the end of life and that’s it.

Twin B – Look, I do not know exactly what will happen, but Mother will help us…

Twin A – The Mother? Do you believe in the Mother? !

Twin B – Yes.

Twin A – Do not be ridiculous! Have you seen the Mother anywhere? Has anyone seen her at all?

Twin B – No, but she is all around us. We live within her. And certainly, it is thanks to her that we exist.

Twin A – Well, now leave me alone with this stupidity, right? I’ll believe in Mother when I see her.

Twin B – You can not see her, but if you’re quiet, you can hear her song, you can feel her love. If you’re quiet, you can feel her caress and you will feel her protective hands.

Source: Originally written in Hungarian by Útmutató a Léleknek, translated by Miranda Linda Weisz

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While a great interpretation of perspective!