Nov 242014
 

Sometimes it feels like you are just going to snap. Keeping calm is not an easy thing, and motherhood can be so demanding. But if you allow the breaking to be cathartic, you may just be able to clean up the glass and move on.Sometimes it feels like you are just going to snap. Keeping calm is not an easy thing, and motherhood can be so demanding. But if you allow the breaking to be cathartic, you may just be able to clean up the glass and move on. It might even feel pretty amazing when you get all the tears out...I love my kids. I love the way my son works passionately to understand EVERYTHING and how he insists on praying for China at dinner because he is fascinated that it is already breakfast time there.

I love that the knees on all my daughter’s pants are stained and worn because she throws herself into playtime with vigor and how she gives me sweet little back pats when I hug her because it’s a Mommy-thing to do.

I love their laughs, their smiles and even their messy backpacks strewn all over the kitchen. It’s evidence that they are growing, learning, and thriving, right?

I think of making cut-out sugar Christmas cookies with them and the flour getting stuck into the wooden floor cracks for weeks, and I still love them. Right after I bang my head against the wall for a few minutes.

Despite all this loving, they wipe me.

Some days I don’t know what is up or what is down or which way to even start looking if I did have time between apple juice refills to figure it out.

This life is not an easy thing; it’s not supposed to be.

That’s okay.

But some days when the demands are raging, and the middle-of-the-night cries were plentiful, breathing in and out becomes a bit tricky. It’s a feeling of being swallowed into a complete loss of sanity, strength and self.

One day recently, my daughter was having A Day. You parents know what I mean. It can be tempting to check a child’s behavior as faulty discipline or poor boundaries, but after hanging out in motherhood for a few years now, I have learned that there are the children who break into an emphatic hour-long rolling tantrums because the color of the plastic Goldfish bowl they were handed is not pink and there are children who just eat the Goldfish.  There are children who can remain in a generally seated position throughout church and those who spontaneously turn into a wild climbing monkey as soon as the pastor begins speaking. I know, because I both types of children.

My daughter is more of the tantrum-ing monkey variety.

I do not want to point the finger at her exclusively. On this particular day, I was especially over-tired, my son was struggling with homework, and dinner was burning. In fact, I had already called my husband in tears twice that day, threatening to quit. Quit what, I’m not sure, as Motherhood allows no take-backs and my only boss is myself; I can’t imagine how pissed she would be if I handed in my resignation.

In any case, I sent the children out to play and decided to take one small productive step for my day; I would put away the dishes. I opened the cupboard and a glass flew out at me. It shattered all over the open dishwasher, counter, sink and floor.

It shattered all over my last tether to stability and I fell to the floor, sobbing. I crouched there, among the broken glass and just let the wails rack me, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t do this any more….Ican’tdothisanymoreIcan’tdothisanytmore…” Over and over and over again.

If anyone had been watching, it would have seemed a dramatic movie scene. The sheer, unprovoked action of the glass throwing itself out of the cupboard at me seemed horrifically cruel. It felt as the weight of a thousand impossibilities was exploded at me and were escaping through my my cries.

It felt cathartic.

It felt real.

And as some innate part of me found its way through my hysteria to carefully clean up all the glass shards before they met tiny little toes, I knew this one truth: I was right; I couldn’t do it any more.

For that day, it was too much. I had been stretched and pushed too much, and I broke. But in the breaking, the well of of all I was holding in found a way out. And that part? Felt wonderful.

I will always love and care for my children. Even when I think I can’t find a way to tidy up glass shards, I somehow will.

I will also break sometimes, and that will be okay. And on those days sobbing it out will feel pretty darn good.

And on those days I will quit. After I clean up the broken glass, of course.

 

Image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:2534803, copyright:sirylok

Nov 222014
 

Managing multigenerational needs can be stressful. Here are tips and advice for doing it with ease and grace. The sandwich generation has a tough calling--but it can be done!I am 35. What does this mean in this today’s world? I have young kids who run me ragged with Daniel Tiger parties while I have parents who are entering their more aged years. Or I would have “parents”, except my mother left us a couple years ago, and my very boss father is now running solo.

I’m the sandwich generation, and I’m not complaining. I think it’s a wonderful gift to have kids who know their grandparents, I like having people of different stages who need me on this earth. I like to be needed; it helps keep me away from compulsive cross-wording in boredom.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t share how tricky it can be.  I will never forget the poignant sticky-wicket of being 7 mo. pregnant with a 2 yr. old at home and visiting my father in the hospital for a health situation while caring for my dying mother. That was not “supposed” to be. But it was.

The reality is that aging parents is part of our reality in this era of quality long-living and thriving. What a blessing! But for all the times it gets tricky (managing health needs, insurance coverage, etc.), it’s great to know there is a supportive resource in Grandparents.com.

What is Grandparents.com?

It is a site that provides valuable information to consumers about the health needs and interests of our parents and grandparents. Aetna recently teamed up with Grandparents.com to evaluate what issues are most weighing on this population and what we can do to help them address their needs.

In attending a briefing regarding the findings of this study with Dr. Randall Krakauer, M.D., Vice President and national medical director for Medicare Strategy and Innovation at Aetna and a recognized leader in geriatric care and board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology, it was reported that grandparents often regret not making wiser choices in caring for their health from a younger age.  While they often have computer and online access, navigating through healthcare responsibilities and Medicare Open Enrollment can still be a daunting task.

As the General Open Enrollment period runs from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015 and Open Enrollment for Medicare beneficiaries runs from October 15, 2014 to December 7, 2014, the holidays are a great time to discuss benefits and health goals with our parents and grandparents. Resources such as Grandparents.com or AetnaMedicare.com can be very helpful in working with your family members to make informed decisions regarding their coverage.

In addition to teaming up to navigate through insurance needs, we can also help our loved ones care for themselves by encouraging healthy living habits. How can we do this?  As Dr. Krakauer says, “Don’t neglect your own health! Pay attention to your own exercise and diet and set a good example by learning about and practicing healthy habits yourself. As far as working with parents or grandparents, it is going to be very helpful to remind them that that it’s never too late to get healthier! Even if you have had high blood pressure, you can still prevent future damage by getting your blood pressure under control.”

By caring for ourselves and paying attention to our own health needs now, we can not only help our parents and grandparents, but establish healthy standards in our homes for our children as well.  It’s truly a win-win-win situation.

And while technology is newer to the older generation, as noted above, most parents and grandparents do have access. Use the internet to access great up-to-date information, and if you live further away from family, it can be a great way to communicate and check in on maintaining healthy goals. I know my dad, sister, brother-in-law and I have a lot of fun becoming Fitbit friends and keeping up with our daily progress. Sadly for us younger folks, my dad always schools us with a higher step count! Grrr.

I’m very fortunate in that my dad is incredibly savvy navigating his own way through all the Medicare choices and decision-making and does a fantastic job staying active and healthy, but I know this isn’t always the case.  The older years can be a tricky ones to find your way through, so don’t be afraid to seek help. And online resources like Grandparents.com or AetnaMedicare.com are perfect places to start.

Go navigate through these years the smart way, friends!

 

****I participated in this program on behalf of Aetna and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.****

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:10848277, copyright:Wavebreakmedia

Nov 202014
 

Anxious to get your kids away from the videos games and doing something active or creative with their minds? This new version of Tic Tac Toe is so much fun for the whole family! Family game night is ON!I won’t lie. Sometimes when we’re on our 1600th round of Candyland for the afternoon, I am saying silent passionate prayers for the UPS man to ring the door bell…or for the washing machine to start shooting bubbles at the ceiling…or any kind of anything that could be an excuse to toss down my plastic gingerbread dude and walk away from the game.

Playing games with my kids can be very cool, but every once in a while, shaking it up is a good idea, especially as we break into these long stretch of indoor months.

When my family received a Tic Stac Toe game to check out, I was pretty excited. Tic Tac Toe is a classic!

Except this isn’t Tic Tac Toe. It’s Tic STAC Toe, and this is not the old game.

No, Tic Stac Toe is an incredibly creative spin on the classic concept. Winner of the 2014 Creative Child Award, the Tillywig Best Family Fun Award and the Parents Choice Recommended Game Award, this is an exciting new 3D strategy game. It’s the kind of game that the whole family enjoys and engages in (nothing against Candyland, of course…)

But this isn’t why I love it.

While it’s fantastic to have something that pleases everyone for Family Game Night, what’s really cool about this game is the way that it encourages my children to build and play. Creator Robert Appelblatt and Tim Crean talk about how it “helps kids with spacial thinking”. For my son who loves to construct, piece things together and look for patterns, it is a perfect fit!

Tic Tac Toe has been rebooted in this cool new board game. Endless ways for kids of all ages to learn and grow with this as an educational tool and perfect fun for family game night!

When I’m busy juggling something online with trying to get dinner together and cranking out a few zillion other things, my son is happily set up at the table with his new toy. He will group the X’s and O’s, add them up, build towers, and then proudly ask me to check out his work before he dismantles it all and starts all over again. The pieces easily snap together and come apart–no sweat for younger child. Like I said, perfect toy.

So go get it! Tic Stac Toe is a fun, original game that will be a hit for all ages on your shopping list. Not just for the game itself, but for all the other learning and play it offers. Snatch up a bunch now and go be the cool holiday gift-giver that impresses everyone by having such a creative gift idea.

It’s truly Tic Stac Toe for the win!

Playing board games with our kids is so valuable for so many reasons! Take the time for a family game night tonight!

****Compensation for this post was provided by Tic Stac Toe, but my family’s enjoyment of this game is 100% genuine!****

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:25835207,copyright:alistairjcotton

 Third image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:10503233,copyright:photography33

Nov 172014
 

With cold and flu season upon us, knowing how to safely give your kids medication is so very important. Follow these tips and tricks to keep your family healthy--plus a bonus idea that is so smart I'll never go without it!I’d guess since my son was born five years ago, the dosing recommendations for children’s OTC medicines have changed at least 116 times. This may be an exaggeration. But it does seem like every time we go to the pediatrician, I get sent home with a new proper dosage instruction sheet. Generally,  I panic so hard over not losing the paper and putting in a safe place that I end up stashing it somewhere so secure it can never again be found. This leads a lot of frustrated crying to my husband in the midst of managing middle-of-the-night fevers, “I thought YOU knew what the right amount was.”

He does not. Neither do I. Ever.

One easy way around this would be for us to simply read the label. The logic of parents in the wee hours of the morning cannot be denied.

The thing is, we’re not alone in battling making a mistake when giving medicines to our kids.  In October,  Pediatrics revealed the results of a study indicating that every eight minutes, a child under the age of 6 experiences a medication error  outside of the doctor’s office or hospital. Most of the errors come from giving kids liquid medicine, giving them the wrong dosage amount or giving them medicines twice.

So what can we parents do to keep our kids safe? Educate.

Parents are responsible for their kids' health. Educate yourself and make sure you know how to properly dose and administer medications to those sick kids!

Knowing that cold/cough and flu season is upon us, OTCsafety.org is sharing some other tips and information that will help you make sure you are medicating your children the right way:

  • Always read and follow the label.
  • Always give the recommended dose and use the correct measuring device. Never use longer than the label instructs or at higher doses, unless your doctor specifically tells you to do so.
  • Only use the medicine that treats your child’s specific symptoms.
  • Never give two medicines with any of the same active ingredients.
  • Never use cough, cold, or allergy medicines to sedate your child.
  • Never give aspirin-containing products to children and adolescents for cold or flu symptoms unless told to do so by a doctor.
  • Do not use oral cough and cold medicines in children under four or give a medicine only intended for adults to a child.
  • Stop use and contact your doctor immediately if your child develops any side effects or reactions that concern you.
  • Keep all medicines — and vitamins, too — up and away and out of your child’s reach and sight.
  • Teach your child about using medicines safely. Tell your children what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them. Never tell children medicine is candy to get them to take it, even if your child does not like to take his or her medicine.

Dose medication for your kids safely and keep everyone healthy this season!

This might seem like a lot of information, but read it over a few times, share with any adults who care for your children, print and post it inside your medicine cabinet if it helps–you need to be comfortable with safely medicating your child!

As for those blurry middle of the night efforts to squelch fevers or other nasty symptoms? My husband and I will always be a bit of fumbling mess, I’m sure, but when I was reading Meredith’s of From Meredith to Mommy essay in Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness, something she said struck me as brilliant. She mentioned pre-dosing her kids’ meds at night before she goes to bed if they are sick. Wow! Why had I never thought of that? What an easy, doable trick!  Make the measurement before you are fumbling around in the middle of the night trying to soothe a fussy child.  So simple, yet something we are definitely going to start doing in this house.  Thanks, Meredith!

Do you have a great trick that helps in your home? Please share any ideas you have to avoid medication errors with kids with us below–we can all educate and help each other. And a huge thanks to OTCsafety for providing so many great tips to help us care for our children!

****I am compensated as an OTCsafety blogging ambassador for this post, but my opinion are my own.****

Image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:4648483, copyright: matka_Wariatka

Nov 122014
 

Having kids makes it a bit tricky to get an evening out. Here's how my family figured out a way to have a fun night with friends while staying in--and keeping the kidsMy husband and I have never been very big on leaving the house. At first, it was money, or lack thereof. And then it was kids piled on top of money. Let’s be honest; even if we could manage to find a sitter, she probably doesn’t want to get paid in leftover Goldfish crackers?

So we’ve gotten good, very good, at the at-home date. Stash the kiddos in bed, crack open a bottle and cue up the latest episode of Parenthood. Or, if it’s a really adventurous night, it might just be worth a swing by that nifty Redbox. We cozy in and love it up. It works.

Most of the time.

But see, once in a while…I want a teensy bit more of a soiree. Rarely, as people generally scare me.

So when one of my very best friends mentioned she had to burn an hour every week during her daughter’s lesson across the street from our house, my wheels got to turning.

What if…? No, that would be insane.  But we could…

And as soon as the thought formulated, I knew it was meant to be. With a swift call to my friend and a bottle of wine snagged, it was official. Thursday night Happy Hour in our house was ON.

How does it work? My friend brings her kids. If it’s nice, they run wild on the yard while we chill on the deck. Now that it’s bit chillier, who really cares about a tidy house? I can put all the legos away tomorrow…or never. The point is that the kids are playing together and having a blast.

The adults, my husband, friend and I cozy up to the table, pour a glass and munch away on whatever culinary fail I’ve dreamed up for the week. I am not a chef.

(But truth told, it is kind of fun to put together some yummy bites I’d never normally serve. This week I’m doing homemade soft pretzels with cheese fondue. I know, my waistline is drooling with you. But what better excuse to make something so comfort food-worthy?)

After a few weeks of our weekly dates, I got smart and started beefing up the spread a bit so it could count as dinner and I didn’t have to cook again. Score!

While the food is yummy-ish and the company superb (my friend is amazingly cool and easy to hang with), the real win of the night is that we RELAX.

Come again?

I know, I said relax. Because we do. Yes, with the kids present. After our very first Thursday Happy Hour, my entire family was in bed and snoozling by 8:30pm. It was a miracle. Talking to my husband about it the next day he said, “But we actually stopped. Hanging out like that let us all relax.”

 

Kids tying you to the house? Have fun anyway! Invite friends (and their whole families!) over to hang out! No stress, easy family time for everyone.

Come Thursday night, I feel beaten up by the week. Something that can help my family chill and smile? A Godsend. We pour ourselves into our hours, our days, and forget to take minutes to come up for air. Thursday nights are a sweet reminder to lift our heads up and breathe deeply.

I love them. We all do. We all look forward to our weekly Happy Hour and all the sweet breathing room that it offers.

My excuses of no money or no childcare? Shove them under the kitchen table. Uber-cheap wine and allowance for kids’ temper tantrums between sips works perfectly well when the friends are real–and the value of time together supersedes all else.

Cheers, friends–however you find your Happy Hour or make it happen!

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:3756992, copyright:Valdemar

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:10836012,copyright:Wavebreakmedia

Nov 052014
 

I am always, always scared of taking big leaps, but I've learned this is the smartest thing we can do in this world. Be open to new things and go for it!It was typical Tuesday night. I was desperately trying to crank out some overdue blog work while hollering at my husband to just give up on the chicken nuggets and “get the kids in the bath already!”. Then my phone rang, and it was Stephanie Giese of Binkies and Briefcases, “Hey, do you want to go down to Texas and be on Glenn Beck with me?”

For those of you who don’t know Stephanie, here’s the short story: SHE IS ROCKING THE WORLD. Her recent post about the astounding inappropriateness of girls’ clothing on the mass market went beyond viral. While she’s busy managing the response to this, she’s also running full speed ahead with the Blog U 2015 conference (the second annual installment of the insanely successful conference she founded last summer), and oh, raising three young children.

So basically, when the scary-fantastic Stephanie asks, you say yes.

Glenn Beck wanted us to come on his show and discuss appropriate Halloween costumes from a mom’s POV. I could do this??

Forget the chicken nuggets; I called out to my husband, “Hey babe, how do you feel about me popping down to Texas?”

We live in Pennsylvania.

Fast forward three weeks and a lot of finagling, and I found myself on a plane. And then in a green room. Like, a legit green room–you’ll excuse me while I pee myself a bit here.

And while I was hanging out in the very green room, forcing myself not to on-air nervous puke, post-show pal-ing it up with Glenn Beck and his very sweet daughter (who thanked me for doing the show because it “meant a lot to her dad”) and then madly snatching souvenirs for my kiddos in the airport while we dashed to our plane, I had some important realizations.

I have people. Not as in a “my people will call your people” situation, but as in, I’m not alone in this world. When Steph first asked, I thought, “yeah, right–I could never actually pull this off”. And then my husband offered to take a day off work, my mother-in-law drove out to help with the kids for a night, and my friend jumped at my plea to pick my kids up from school. When I asked my dad for airport transport, he simply told me give him the times–of course he would do it. Another friend was willing to cover a few-hour gap in childcare if need be and yet another friend quickly started helping me research Glenn Beck and reviewing talking points.  Hundreds of people on Facebook took the time to weigh in and help me sort out attire dilemnas–the most import element of the entire trip, obviously. The support and encouragement of others as I prepped for and then went on this wild-to-me adventure blew me away. And that people actually took the time to tune into the show and then encourage me afterwards? My eyes welled with tears as I checked my phone that night.

I know this life can all too often feel lonely, but sometimes it’s when you most need people that you realize you aren’t alone. Through this trip, I felt caught. I felt blessed. I felt grateful.

This life can be so mundane...fantasizing about how the other half lives can be so fun...really fun! Hop over for a minute with me!

Jumping is ALWAYS boss. I was the kid in college who had to take Ativan before any presentation so I didn’t faint away in panic of public speaking. Needless to say, this appearance on Glenn Beck was NOT “right up my alley”. It was very far removed from my alley, several lanes over, in fact. That and despite the nerves that left me literally shaking a few days prior and post-show, I will never, ever regret that I did it. Truth told? The green room, private hotel room and car service were pretty sweet perks that just make me feel boss. I’m okay with that.

I know how hard it is to manage this life. But listen, carving out a few minutes for friendship is one thing you will never, ever regret.  Do it now! Trust me ;)Real friendships are good. Steph and I have done a lot of huge life experiences together–cranked out a blog conference, thrown book signings, hosted a ladies’ night out, family-timed it up on the Fourth of July, and endlessly supported each other online. She wows me, of which I’ve made no secret.

The thing that you may not know is that she’s terrified of flying.  And I’m not uber-touchy-feely. I love greeting with hugs and kisses, but beyond this, not so much…Steph and I held hands on every take-off (and with lay-overs, there were several). As soon as the cameras cut on the show, she walked across the stage and I squeezed her hand for dear life. I needed support–emotionally and so I didn’t fall over in my heels. We prayed together before we went on set, and I endlessly told her how proud I was of her for accomplishing all that she has. We shared a messy steak sub in the airport and ignored the crumbs on each other’s faces. When I froze on camera, I will never, ever forget her mouthing “Isaac’s costume” from across the set to cue my talking points and help encourage me.

And none of it felt weird.  At 35, I’m not sure I was supposed to meet a genuine real-for-life friend that I can totally be myself around. But I did. And I don’t have the words to express the realness of this blessing.

I am also realizing the value of full-on supporting someone else in this world. I am so proud of what Steph is doing, and the opportunity to be there for her and help her promote her message? A gift in its truest form.

Regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen going forth with this whole blogging business, I will forever be grateful for the time I hung out in the green room with Steph–and for all the too-important lessons I learned while we were there.

To Texas, Glenn Beck, and crazy life experiences you were never supposed to have.

You can catch a longer clip of the 10/28/14 show and read about it here, but please pay the $1 and subscribe to 30 days of The Blaze TV so you can watch the whole show–I say way more semi-intelligent things in the second half so I don’t look quite as vapid. xo ;)

Oct 312014
 

Daylight Savings Time has a bad rap--well earned, but there are some potential highlights.  Like the extra 60 minutes and all the crazy things you can do with the bonus time! Set those clocks back and enjoy!I understand that logically, it’s not really an extra hour.  When you factor in all the gradual shifting of daylight and the hour forward in the spring and blah blah blah, it really makes no difference. I don’t care.

I understand that with kids, it’s really the same difference. Despite the clock reading a different time, you still have children. They are still active–and whiny and need juice cups filled. I don’t care.

I spent 99% of my life scrambling for minutes. Clearly, my last week’s goal of letting go of the bondage of my to-do list is working out so well.

So when Father Time decides to throw me an extra hour, I’m going to squee like a school girl with glee.  This mama needs time. In bad way. Yes, I might have that time all clouded up with young kids needing attention, but it’s time all the same.

This weekend, while Halloween is definitely the shining star, I’m going to go ahead and celebrate another little highlight.  It’s called Daylight Saving Time: The Fall Version.

All logic-filled explanations shoved aside, when I’m offered a free hour, it’s sweet news.  I’ll instantly start plotting and planning exactly how it should best be spent. Of course, I will end up just grumpily attempting to sleep in while my children awake at the literal break of dawn and commence racing through the house, but this is so beside the point. I will fantasize about that hour and I will fantasize well.

I may not have much, but I have my imagination. And I’m clinging to it.

After crowd-sourcing on Facebook, it became apparent that the #1 thing all moms long to spend an extra hour doing is SLEEP. I totally get this. Covert sneaking the Ambien your way and with you, my friends.

Other moms sagely spoke of using the hour to plan more sneaky alone minutes. Smart! Love the way these ladies think.

Someone else misread crowd-sourcing as crowd-surfing, and suggested this might be fun diversion for us moms. Others agreed, and we now apparently have a night of Moms Gone Wild planned. Works for me.

So what would this Mom of the Year do with that sweet, sweet extra 60? (Assuming sleep as a given and the children were entranced with Frozen…)

Sometimes in life, you just have to take the bad selfies--psychotic hair included. Snap away and find your sanity!

 

1) Watch a TV show. I remember a fun little something called Revenge??

2) My nails. They look like hell. I try not to make them look this way. I’ve been unsuccessful.

3) Read a rag. I don’t care what anyone thinks; I’ll never give up my crush on Star magazine.

4) Organize my Christmas list.  HaHA! Oh wait, that was a joke.

5) Take more stupid selfies of my crazy morning hair. Because it never gets old.

6) Watch Wheel of Fortune. Yes, I like it. Shut up.

7) Plan how I can see all of the book-to-movies that are coming out at the end of 2014. Then pinch myself and wake up; under no earthly circumstance could this happen before the next millenial.

8) Clean the playroom. Or not.

9) Tackle the beasty-things my eyebrows have become. Because it would take the full hour.

10) My husband. Yeah, because despite the bee-stings, I still kind-of have a crush on him.

So what ever your plans are for your luxurious “extra hour”, friends, enjoy. I will be right there will you, celebrating each minute for what it’s worth!

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:40622725, copyright:creatista

Oct 272014
 

I spend so much time being scared of the next move I should make, when the truth is, I should channel the fearlessness of my daughter and just jump!A fan of change, I am not. I’m still working to wrap my mind around this whole Sunday package-delivery jazz, and my husband knows if WordPress updates to a new layout, it’s best to just pass me a paper bag and walk away.

To me, life is full enough as such; the added stress of adapting to new things only exhausts energy. Energy that I don’t have, and if I did have it, I’d rather spend it tackling that inane junk drawer. Or, let’s be honest, catching up with People Style Watch.

But the darnedest thing is that life doesn’t stop. God kind of designed it this way, an ongoing cycle of flux and flow. So the nasty beast of change crops up.

New things.

Firsts.

Being the calm, pulled-together mama that I am, I tend to handle any new event with a hefty dose of hysterical fuss. Consider this an open apology to my husband, family, friends and people I run into in the school parking lot for having to put up with me. I am really sorry.

It can be for big things. I was very open about how much the start of Kindergarten slayed me.

It can be for smaller things. I phoned three other moms last week begging them to explain proper Book Fair protocol.

You see, we had never done a Book Fair before. As it turns out, we survived. It was also not horrible, kind of fun, and next year I will likely spend less time the night before undue panicking over cash versus credit card. But for this year, it was new, and so it was scary.

I don’t think it matters if you have kids or not, or how old the kids are if you do have them. Or if you work outside the home or in it. Or if you are 5 or 65.  As long as you’re living and participating in this life, there is always going to be something new coming down the pike. A first. And if you have any measure of my nervousness in you, it might feel frightening, even overwhelming at times.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t do it.

It's scary to leap into the next part of life, but making that jump isn't only necessary, it's the smartest thing you can do for yourself. Take the jump!

Many firsts we don’t have a choice about–my son’s class was going to the Book Fair and I was expected to be there. Other firsts are fuzzier; agree to a national TV appearance? Burying self in hole under bed feels so much cozier.

Since my mother died, I’ve gotten better about pushing myself off the ledge and simply jumping. Part of it for me is that, in many ways, the worst already happened; The Horrible is no longer a first so I fear it less. The other part is the brevity of life became too real.

I highly doubt I will stop crowd-sourcing the merits of Dress A vs. Dress B on Facebook any time soon, but I do know I’m going to pick one of the dresses and just put it on. And go.

Go. Jump. Move. Staying in the same place is just so five minutes-ago.

 

First image credit: Thanks to Jen B. Studios for capturing my daughter’s fearlessness all in one picture!

Second image credit: Depositphotos.com, ID:4754565,copyright:monkeybusiness

Oct 232014
 

Looking for a fun family fall treat? Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster has it all, or check out a similar amusement in your area--this truly was the perfect fall outing for our young family!

Remember that sweet place in Lancaster County where we love to hang out, Dutch Wonderland?

We are kind of totally in love with it.

So when they invited my family back to check out their Halloween Happy Hauntings, there wasn’t a whole lot of arm-twisting that had to happen to get us there. In fact, there was none.

We excitedly packed our daypack and costumes (yes, the park encourages guests to delight in the season and dress-up!), and headed off. Factor in a few temper tantrums and about 10 trips back to the house for things we forgot, and you’ll get the accurate picture of what goes down when my so-together family decides on a day out.

I like visiting Dutch Wonderland in the fall because all of the rides and attractions, excepting those with water, are still open.  Granted, my kids love the water park, but there is still loads to do on the drier side of the fun. This also allows for a cheaper admission price and a slightly less packed agenda–more time to simply explore and play always works for us!

Dutch Wonderland’s Happy Hauntings is perfect fit for young ones. The rides are still smaller-kid friendly as they always are, and the park does an excellent job of embracing the season–without being too scary. Pumpkins, costumes, and cobwebs galore adorn the park, but there are no horrifying super-spooky ghosts or goblins. This works for us–my children battle fears of the dark without any extra reasons for nightmares.

The smaller-kid friendly rides and attractions at Dutch Wonderland are a young family's dream come true! Visit next time you're in Lancaster County, PA, or check out a kid-friendly amusement park in your area!

The highlight of our visit was the Trick or Treat trail.  Crossing over the bridge into the back of the park, we found Exploration Island transformed into a Halloween wonderland! At each dinosaur exhibit, the kids were treated to some yummy candy by the very creatively costumed-employees. I won’t spoil all the fun in case you are planning to visit (Happy Hauntings is open both this weekend, 10/25-26, and next, 11/2-3), but my favorite dinosaur exhibit themes were the Dr. Seuss and the Crayola crayon box–you haven’t really lived until you’ve seen a dinosaur dressed as a pink crayon…

The Trick or Treat Trail was the perfect way for some safe trick-or-treating fun with a lot at some of the coolest costumes themes around!

 

I can’t say how fun it was to let the kids run around in their costumes and have a blast in a family-friendly environment. I even felt sort of vindicated when the hood of my son’s knight costume started to tear a bit after some very active sliding board fun. “See!”, I plead to my husband, “They DO get enough wear out of their costumes!” I may have slight obsession with gearing my children up in adorable coordinated costume themes each year.

The coordinated costume at mention, our little knight and princess combo couldn’t have been more perfect for the royalty theme that Dutch Wonderland is known for year round.  Now if they just start letting us bring in our dog dressed as the dragon, we’ll be all set…

Dutch Wonderland Happy Hauntings @meredithspidel

Head out to Dutch Wonderland, friends.  In a season when there are so many options for fall fun, this is the one that truly brings it all together and creates a whole autumn-full of special memories!

****Thanks to Dutch Wonderland for hosting my family for the day. All opinions expressed remain 100% my own.****

Oct 202014
 

To-do lists are daunting! Actually getting stuff done is so hard! I finally figured out this one trick to not letting these lists loom scarily large over my day.I love my husband a lot.  He’s a good man.  He’s a smart man.  Some of the things he says makes me want to scream. Sometimes I do scream.

You see, he has this lovely gift of practicality and perspective. God decided to skip those traits in me.  I got ginormous thighs and a bent towards being ferociously emotional instead.

Often the things that I’m most passionately frustrated over my husband eradicates with a simple sentence. This is both a gift and highly annoying.

Most recently, I’ve had my panties in a bunch over my perceived lack of hours in the day. One particular evening, channeling my inner-Caillou, I broke into a rather heated whining rant, “There is just no way I can get everything done! I am slamming out every second of the day and still can’t keep up…I can’t keep doing this.”

My husband answered easily, “Then don’t.”

The screeching as my mind did an about-face was almost audible.  Whaaa?? “What in the world do you mean?”

“Stop. God didn’t design your life to be this way, tired and stressed all the time.  There are 24 hours in a day, and if you can’t get everything done you need to in that time, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

Scary red flags of indignation started waving wildly.  How dare he? Who does he think will drop his children off at school and wash the excessive number of dishes he insists on dirtying? Would his boxer shorts start washing and folding themselves?

I huffed away. I was right, and he was wrong, of course. Certain of his cruel insensitivity to the magnitude of responsibility I shoulder each day, I thought loads of helpful thoughts, like “Typical man!” and “He will never get it!”

My thoughts weren’t wrong; he is a man, and no, he won’t get it–just as I will never fully get his work.  But, as it turns out, as I allowed my rage to chill (frantic slamming of pots and pans around the kitchen always helps), he wasn’t wrong either.

In fact, he was very right.  Right in the punch-me-in-the-gut kind of way.

Crap. Darn. Shoot. I loathe it when he’s right. I more loathe it when it’s time to revamp my way of thinking because I’ve been completely wrong.

When your husband is right @meredithspidel

For days, for months, for years even, I have been approaching each day as a beast to be tackled. Something that if I plan just a little bit more, a little bit harder, I can form it into something smoother. Maybe even easier?

Wrong. The truth is, this life is never going to quit. There will always be another task that needs to be done and another ask from someone seeking something. Whether it’s my children needing their bums wiped or the Home and School committee looking for Book Fair volunteers, it’s never going to end.

I will always have a to-do list.

It will always be long.

I won’t get it all crossed off.  As long as I’m living and engaging in life, I’ll never get it all crossed off.

Huh.

So this is just the way life is.  And last I checked, there were no plans to add more hours to the day. And God is pretty darn wise; He knew what He was doing when He designed this whole ball game. 24 hours was and is the length of our day–the way it was meant to be.

Knowing that the circumstances of busyness nor daily time limitations won’t change, it appears there may be a distinct truth to my husband’s words. If the circumstances aren’t going to change, that means I have to change.

I don’t know how to make my days or my lists manageable, but I can handle waking up every day, and saying a silent prayer, “I don’t know how to do this. Let what is important get done. Help me not to panic about the rest–or at least send a sturdy paper bag my way to breathe in.”

And do you know what? When I do this, when I say this prayer, when I finally let go, the frenzy of the day dissipates.

No, my to-do list doesn’t magically shrink. There are no sweet miniature helper elves who come to my aid. Darn. But I am able to put one foot in front of the other.  And somehow the important things, the really important things manage to get done.

So that is my secret, my trick to finally, for once and for all, not allowing your to-do list to dominate your life. Let go of it. Allow a peace to prevail.

It’s a choice and you can do it–paper bag in hand if you need it ;)

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:21915393, copyright:gpointstudio

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:49375597,copyright:Dmyrto_Z

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