I'd never have known all this if I hadn't had children

As the mother of four children, ranging in age from 6 to 17 years old, I've picked up a few ideas along the way. Most of what I've learned has come to me through watching my children, and noticing their view of this world we all live in.

I've discovered that it's OK to get your hands dirty – it's even kind of fun. I've learned that peanut butter and banana sandwiches, though not on the menu at my favorite restaurant, are actually very tasty.

My children have taught me to wear what makes me feel good – even if that means rubber boots and Hawaiian shorts.

I've discovered that nature is a wonderful thing to behold when seen through the eyes of my children. Trees used to be just trees, but now I notice leaves of many shapes, sizes, and colors. The birds that once annoyed me in the morning are now a source of entertainment as we try to guess which one is calling out as we eat our breakfast.

Watching a butterfly flutter from place to place always seems to give a child a reason to giggle. Some kids have been known to abandon their positions on the T-ball field to follow the travels of a butterfly as it circles in flight. There is no way to feel stressed out while watching the flight of a butterfly.

I have had the pleasure of seeing my children's friendships bloom – and it reminds me to nurture my own. I see how they find the good in things, and I am encouraged to do the same.

Some other tidbits of wisdom I have learned through experience:

• Toy cars and Barbie dolls do not flush well.

• Goldfish cannot survive without water.

• A Lego will fit up your nose.

• Peanut butter sandwiches will fit in the VCR.

• Dogs do not like mouthwash.

• Putting the garden hose in the dryer vent will flood the dryer.

• Caterpillars do not swim.

• "The Little Mermaid" is still enjoyable after 56 viewings.

• There is a five-second rule on candy dropped in the dirt.

• A weeping willow branch will not hold a 5-year-old.

• Sliding into home base while wearing white pants is really cool.

• A teenager can survive days without water, but only 35 minutes without a phone.

But sometimes the most important lessons I learn are the simplest: My children have taught me how to have fun – how to put my feet in the wet sand, wiggle my toes, and enjoy life!

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