Feb 012016
 

First tooth lost? Call in the Tooth Fairy, however she comes! We are ready to meet her! And here are some wise tips for bracing yourself in a realistic way for that first lost tooth!My son is a wee little guy. Aside from being a cute ball of love, he saves us a ton of cash by rocking the same sizes for years at a time. Needless to say, his physical development proceeds not at a soaring pace. So when all of his cohorts began losing their teeth, we spent a fair bit of time prepping our little dude to wait it out for the long haul; the Tooth Fairy might be more of a future visitor than a present.

But lo and behold, a couple months ago we met up with our first wiggle. EXCITEMENT!!! All hands on deck. Tug the Tooth was secured and placed at the ready. Nightly checks for wiggle progress commenced. Christmas festivities be darned; in our house, potential tooth loss was The Occasion.

We were ready for this tooth.

And then it happened.

My son, in his bumbling, fumbling bus-exiting explosion greeted me one day post-school with the words, “I lost my tooth at school today.” Yay! “Wa-hoo, buddy! Let’s see it!”

“No, mom, I lost it. Everyone looked for it really hard, but we couldn’t find it.”

Screech!

Okay, so by lost he meant lost.

“But it’s okay, mom. I have a note we can give to the Tooth Fairy so she’ll understand.”

Oh be still my mama’s heart…what?!?

Yes, yes. My child actually had a verified note from his teacher addressed directly to the Tooth Fairy. Have I mentioned I love his teacher? I do. So very much. Check her perfection below:

First tooth lost? Call in the Tooth Fairy, however she comes! We are ready to meet her! And here are some wise tips for bracing yourself in a realistic way for that first lost tooth!

Right, I know. She rocks.

I heard from another class mom that the kids indeed searched for my love’s missing tooth extensively. To no avail.

What is a mama of a first-time tooth-looser to do? ACCEPT.

Yup, you heard me. Zen it out, friends, and channel that acceptance. First child, first tooth, baby book and fancy cute lost tooth holder at the ready?

Screw it. Screw it all.

You see, this life is abundantly full of things to teach us. At every turn, at every pass, if we only dare to look. And my son’s lost lost tooth scenario was only too clear evidence of this.

I might have easily thrown a fit and protested the tragedy of no first first lost tooth to keepsake. Instead, I raised my glass to the irony and thanked God for fitting my son with a teacher who had a heart big enough to write a personalized note to the Tooth Fairy in the midst of her incredibly over-filled day.

First tooth lost? Call in the Tooth Fairy, however she comes! We are ready to meet her! And here are some wise tips for bracing yourself in a realistic way for that first lost tooth!

What really mattered at this moment in time? That my son was in the care of a teacher who cared about him. That he was loved enough by his classmates for them to be willing to crawl around on the floor in search of a tiny tooth. That he was six years old and lost a tooth! The events of this life merit celebration in and of themselves, you know.

We might mourn all that is lost in this life; God knows I’ve done that enough. But we might also take a minute to see what we have and be grateful, most simply, for what is in front of us.

What is in front of me? A very empty first tooth treasure box and a heart very full of gratitude. I’ll take them both, in their imperfect perfection.

Go get your own imperfect perfection, however it rolls out, friends. It’s such a beautiful thing!

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:8845778, copyright:zurijeta

Last image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:91481114, copyright:soleg

Jan 292016
 

Struggling as a new mom? No worries! You've got this! Get all the first-time mom tips, tricks, and lessons from a mom who's been there and can give you the real scoop on what you need to know. Some of these truths will surprise you!

I’m tickled to have Kathy Radigan of My Dishwasher’s Possessed! on Mom of the Year today sharing about the 10 things she wished she knew before she had her first baby. Kathy is a dear friend and fellow blogger I’ve known for a few years now, and I always enjoy reading about her life as a mom to three, wife to one, and the owner of a possessed kitchen appliance. I know you’ll love her as much as I do!

Seventeen years ago I was hugely pregnant and watching the calendar roll further and further beyond my due date. When I did finally have my baby 10 days past that elusive date, I was thrilled. But I was also completely shocked at just how much real life differed from my fantasies about childbirth and new motherhood.

I read the books and took all the courses. I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong.

My first baby is now taller than I am and is learning to drive. I’m feeling nostalgic about those first few days, months, and years so I am sharing 10, (for how many days past my due date I was) things that I wish I had known back then.

  1. Expect the unexpected when it comes to actually having your baby. I had heard enough of my friends’ birth stories, from perfect dream deliveries to deliveries from hell that I thought I was pretty prepared. I was not. Twenty hours into labor, I said to my husband, ‘You know, I think this just isn’t going to happen today. Let’s go home and try tomorrow.” For a minute, I really believed this.
  2. The more expensive a newborn or a child’s outfit is, the more tiny snaps or buttons it has. Those snaps can be really hard to manage in the beginning or after a full week of no sleep. Go ahead and buy all the cute things that are sold in the speciality baby stores, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  3. Just when you feel you have mastered a stage of development with your newborn, infant, toddler, or even teenager, they will move into a new stage. If you are feeling on top of your parenting game, enjoy it. Your kid will move into a new stage any day now.
  4. Since we are talking about stages of development, want to toilet train your kid? Buy diapers or pullups in bulk when they are on sale. Once the three-month supply of diapers or pull-ups is in your closet, your child will decide it’s time to use the potty. It’s not a completely foolproof method, but it has proved effective with my three.
  5. If you really feel like you are done with raising babies, make sure you are using a very effective form of birth control before getting rid of your baby furniture and baby clothes. This is from someone who needed the help of a fertility doctor with babies one and two. Baby three was a complete surprise that came right after I gave away all crib bedding and baby clothes.
  6. No matter what you choose for your baby — bottle or breast feeding, cloth or disposable diapers, staying home or going back to work — someone, somewhere will say you are wrong. Don’t be surprised if close relatives are some of your loudest critics. The sooner you realize that the only people that matter now are in the family you have just created, the sooner you will enjoy your life as a mom.  
  7. The faster you can meet other moms that you really connect with, the faster you will start to really enjoy your new role. Meeting these friends might be harder than you expect. Especially, if like me, you have recently moved to the suburbs and left your job. I was astounded at how lonely I felt those first few months being home with my baby, and I was equally shocked at just how much time and effort I had to put into finding my mom “tribe.” But it was so worth it.  
  8. Your little one will not care if you have the flu, pulled your back out, or are in active labor with their sibling. They want you when they want you. It has always felt more than a little daunting to me just how important I am to my three kids. Even now that they are teens and tweens, I hold a place that nobody else does. We moms have magical powers. But our kids are glad to have grandma or another trusted caregiver watch them them so that we can get better. Take care of yourself. This has always been easier said than done for me, but it’s vital to my family and me.
  9. If you don’t want your husband or partner to think of themselves as a “babysitter” or “part-time” caretaker, don’t treat them that way. I was so convinced that only I could give a bottle or diaper our babies the “right” way, that I had a hard time letting go and letting Joe find his own way with the baby. Once I did, it made a really big difference in our marriage and in his relationship to all three of our kids.
  10. People are going to constantly tell you to enjoy every moment, and that it all goes by ridiculously fast. Women whose kids are days away from their 17th birthdays may be the biggest offender of this. It’s totally normal to want to scream at me, I mean them, and tell us to shut the heck up. After all you are knee deep in diapers, bottles, and toddler tantrums, and the last thing you want is some weepy, sappy, middle-aged mom smiling at you and getting all sentimental. But file it in the back of your mind because trust me, it’s totally true.

 

Kathy Radigan is a writer, blogger, social media addict, mom to three, wife to one and owner of a possessed appliance. She posts a weekly essay each Sunday on her blog, My dishwasher’s possessed! Kathy is the author of the viral post An Open Letter to My Teenage Son About Drinking. She is a Huffington Post blogger and a frequent contributor to What the Flicka and Scary Mommy.. Her work has also been featured on, Yahoo, Elephant Journal, What to Expect,and other online publications. Kathy lives outside New York City with her family. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Google +

 

Jan 272016
 

Have a boy and a girl and want them to be friends? I believe mixed gender close sibling relationships ARE possible and here are the ideas and tricks I'm using to make it happen--I can guarantee the first one will shock you! But it WORKS!!I’ve not yet shared the truth of when I first learned I was having a girl for my second baby: I sobbed some very agonized sobs. You see, it’s not that I was opposed to girls. I, in fact, am a girl and generally like girl-related stuff. The problem came into play in that I was beyond convinced I was having a boy. I was, more accurately stated, certain I was having a boy.

My husband was one of four boys, and my sister and I rolled female herd as the only children in our family. To me, that was simply what siblings were–boys or girls; not boys and girls. With this skewed understanding, I set forth and made my plans. As a dedicated planner, I took these plans very seriously. When my first child entered this world as a boy, it was set: I would have a family of all boys. Our dog is even male. I resolved myself to a lone journey in our household as the sole bearer of two X chromosomes, the only family member who could ever properly appreciate Gilmore Girls.

And then the ultrasound tech uttered the unfathomable: there were two teeny lines on the screen. Screech! Halting screech on all life plans. “But what will we name her?” I wailed to my husband and then bawled for a successive two hours. Pregnant women are very boss at the whole drama thing. Also, I simply didn’t think Luke would suit well for a girl.

Let’s fast-forward a bit on this tale of ridiculous woe and transform it into what it really is: sheer, utter delight that I have a precious little girl and we can share this female gig together on this earth. Praise God.

But what really was the cause of my anxiety? Aside from the fact that I couldn’t reuse my perfectly packed away and labeled by three month size increments clothing for my next child. It was the friendship factor.

Ultrasound results not what your were expecting or hoping for? It's a hard shock, I know. Really, I've been there. Here's how we coped and found significant joy. Get the real, honest scoop and know that you aren't alone--the truth is brutal, I know!

Because my sister is my best friend. My go-to, my love, my heart and soul. We have the most fun together and “being together” is plan enough for any evening or day of the week. Through all the storms life has thrown at us, she is my anchor, my person…and my heart worried hard that a brother and sister could not share this connection.

So I soothed my soul by soaking up any example of brother-sister friendships I could find, anywhere I could find them. And now, five years later after all this extensive searching for examples, I’m most stoked to report the coolest find of all–the peace that has come with choosing not to care what paths others have taken. It’s up to me and my family to write our own story.

While I most sincerely hope and pray that my children find the joy of a tight sibling friendship, as it’s been one of the very greatest blessings in my own life, I can’t predict the future. I don’t know if they will be close or not in years to come. I don’t know if any distance will be due to a mixed gender relationship or rather attributed to one of the myriad of other reasons that might tug at a sibling relationship throughout a lifetime. I do know that I can do my best to facilitate their connection with each other now, and you can be darn sure that I’m doing just this.

How do I do this? True story: mostly it’s an instinctively graceful situation in which, upon becoming exasperated with their “energy”, I scream, “Go play with each other! That’s why I had two of you!”, thus forcing them to spend time together.

Have a boy and a girl and want them to be friends? I believe mixed gender close sibling relationships ARE possible and here are the ideas and tricks I'm using to make it happen--I can guarantee the first one will shock you! But it WORKS!!

But “encouraging togetherness” is only the half of the battle. Here are a few other tricks for building mixed gender sibling closeness I have up my sleeve…

  1. We embrace natural inclinations to gender roles. I know, I know. Scowl at me all you want. Also please trust that my family has delved further into the exploration of gender role formation in our lifetime more than most could imagine. True story, with potential blog post to follow someday. Regardless of details, with this perspective poignant, we allow our daughter to delight ad nauseum in her beloved princesses and gird my son up with his swords and action figures, per their request. Allowing children to pursue their individual interests and differences is a very important component of facilitating their friendship.
  2. Concurrently, we fully anticipate they will both play with each other and each other’s preferred toys. For example, my children play together every morning before school. Many days my son says, “Let’s play dolls!” while my daughter often requests a lively game of Angry Birds tag (don’t ask me what the rules for this are, I couldn’t even begin to guess) or picks up a paper towel roll to start a sword fighting match. We all play with each other’s toys in this house–and it’s fun :)
  3. I encourage their reliance on and responsibility for each other. When my daughter can’t zip up her doll’s life jacket and requires assistance, I send her to her brother. This isn’t entirely self-serving because I am desperate to finish a blog post and can’t be bothered. Rather, this maneuver is born more of the intense first-hand knowledge that siblings are meant to live together on this earth long after their parents have exited. I put one of them in charge of getting us out the door in the morning–they are responsible not only for getting their own coat on, but making sure the other has their coat and mittens on too. This is very intentional care-taking consciousness-building. I know that someday I will be gone and my children will have only each other. This can be such a beautiful thing.
  4. We teach them to know each other. It may sound small, but I take pride in the fact that my daughter knows my son’s favorite color is green and always reminds me to save the green bowl for him. Even at ages 4 and 6, we help them budget for and select birthday and Christmas gifts for each other that will genuinely be appreciated. When one of them is having a hard day, we say the words, “Give him/her a hug, say you love them and then give them space.” An essential part of being a good friend is knowing and respecting your friend for who he/she is.
  5. Time together is something to be celebrated. Sleepovers are a big deal in this household–saved for weekends and special occasions. We make it fun and hype it up. Similarly, early dismissal dates, days off school and family trips are planned and anticipated well in advance and regarded as a treat. Regard time together as a blessing if you want it to be a blessing.

Listen, I very likely am screwing this all up. I really have no clue what I’m doing. The only thing I do know for certain is my goal: to have my kids cherish and love each other, gender identification disregarded. So I make active day-to-day choices that feel conducive to facilitation of this goal. And I hope a lot. And I pray a lot. As parents that’s all we can really do, afterall.

To sibling friendships however they roll out and go down. They are worth the good fight!

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:10816281, copyright:opolja

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:23086398, copyright:jovannig

Third image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:24681119, copyright:gabczi

Jan 222016
 

If you've ever struggled with all the changing seasons of life and been overwhelmed with your role as mom, this one's for you. Growth and change with different ages and stages is a real thing we moms grapple with, and here's some real perspective that will help...or at least make you feel a teensy bit more normal. Especially with the 3rd to last item on the list!I’m tight with the bank drive-through. We’ve got a good thing going. It’s been there for me ever since those crazy little people in car seats first began cropping up in the back of my minivan and as a faithful visitor, I rarely fail to pop by for my weekly hello.

Yet yesterday, as happens in all long-term relationships, the drive-through and I hit a rough patch. I pulled up, intending to slickly withdraw some money and be on my way. Yet a teensy glitch with my Driver’s License left it missing the canister entirely and skidding dramatically across the pavement and under the minivan in such a way that I was required to backup my ride, get out, crawl under the vehicle, retrieve it, drive back up to the teller, and apologize shamefully for my incompetence. TRUE STORY.

After getting myself sorted. I then made an unusual request: for quarters. I know, who uses quarters any more and why on earth did I need them? It was at this point, the teller politely informed me that coins cannot be sent via the tube system. Modern science.

My mood was now totally soaring.

As it turns out, it was 10 degrees outside and I had both children with me. Super-great. There was lots and lots of, “But WHY, Mom? Why do we need to go IN the bank? It’s COLD.” As I madly herded my troops through the door promising obscene bribes as we tackled this foreign territory together, I had the thought, “I used to be able to visit the bank without being an emphatic circus show.”

Inside, things took a turn and went startlingly well. My daughter went full-on adorable, cutely flirting with the teller and garnering us complimentary coos. My dicey mood quickly melted into a beaming reassurance that I was indeed Mom of the Year. I was killing it, and so had my second “I used to…” thought of the day, “I used to never have cause to feel like such a rockstar in public before.”

Back in the van, I took a glance in the rearview mirror, and felt a punch of relief that my freshly washed hair hadn’t air-dried into a mysterious gravity-defying configuration. And the thought, “I used to check my appearance before leaving the house” unwittingly popped into my mind.

Huh. Okay, well played, God. This day was obviously meant to be a day of reflection. The floodgates opened and the thoughts rolled in…about what I used to be or not be, do or not do. Game on…

If you've ever struggled with all the changing seasons of life and been overwhelmed with your role as mom, this one's for you. Growth and change with different ages and stages is a real thing we moms grapple with, and here's some real perspective that will help...or at least make you feel a teensy bit more normal. Especially with the 3rd to last item on the list!

I used to not know all the names of the My Little Ponies and their corresponding cutie marks. I used to not know what a cutie mark was. I used to not know what a “brony” was. I used to think this was normal.

I used to not check the moon calendar as evidence the the level of psychosis in my home was definitively related to celestial activity. I used to not care about the moon calendar.

I used to not attempt to hide from my family members in the bathroom. But, I used to not have family members to hide from.

I used to not spend hours upon hours upon hours planning a Disney trip. I used to not be peeing myself in excitement over taking my kids there.

I used to never imagine I’d have cause to play a video game. Then I met this little guy.

I used to not be able to correlate the quality of my sleep to the number of death-defying temper tantrums I survived in one day.

I used to think parents whose kids had tantrums were deficient. I used to think parents whose kids required special help were maybe missing the mark too. Ouch..but true.

I used to wake up in the morning without anyone attacking me with violent hugs. I used to not understand how simultaneously boss/alarming violent hugs can be.

I used to be able to speak in complete sentences. Remember dates. Know where I kept the glue in my home.

I used to not burn spaghetti noodles when cooking dinner because that was something only insane-not-together people would do. I used to be semi-sane. Now I’m semi-not.

I used to not crave 7:30 (bedtime) with the passion of a thousand fiery suns.

I used to envy other women for the size of their thighs. I now envy other moms for the size of their thighs. Nothing changes, really.

I used to think I was tired. HaHA!

I used to not know who I was. Now I don’t know who I am, but I am too tired to care.

I used to be me. Now I’m still me, just more of me in a different way.

And that works. Mostly. Or not…but again, I’m too tired to care. Or, busy diving under a minivan in search of my personal identity cards. Either way, I’m just going to go with it.

To all the “I used to”s in your lives, friends, and to all the places you now are…Go get ’em!

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:21562943, copyright:Ariwasabi

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:11252677, copyright:Angel_a

Jan 192016
 

Go make your life better with this Happy Mommy Course! Smart, hands-on practical steps you can take in the midst of your busy days to find happiness and sanity in your life. The tips are surprisingly easy and the freebie included here is incredible! Go make time for your self-care!A friend who helps you grow is a boss blessing on this earth. Someone who helps you be a little kinder or laugh a little more, feel calmer in the scary storms of this life, or learn something smart and new? A true gift.

I have a friend who does these things in spades, and she wows me. Julie Bel Conner inspires me so much with her sweet friendship and talented life coaching skills. I have shared before about the incredible experience I’ve had as one of her clients, and her savvy perspective was also featured here in this post about a cool life-changing trick that will benefit all of us.

What I haven’t shared is all of the behind-the-scenes support Julie pours into my life. I will call her when things feel too scattered and panicky and she immediately offers clear, solid direction to help dose sanity into my days. She knows and understands what my ultimate goals in this life are and always helps me progress in the direction of achieving them. One of my favorite things about Julie is that she has been through the fires of life, and she gets it. She gets how hard it is to put one foot in front of the other sometimes.

This smart woman, who will be the first to admit her yoga pants are smeared with peanut butter and her house is pocketed with elements of chaos, has her crap together. Yup, she has her crap together in a powerful way that so many of us do not: she knows what is important in this life and that is what she focuses on as she lives her daily life. The superficial things are let go so she can tend to what matters. Julie genuinely commits to finding, knowing and celebrating joy in her home and in her life with her children.

While I aspire to the ideals of peace, serenity, and happiness, Julie actively lives her life in pursuit of making the goals part of her day-to-day. And she does it well. That’s why she’s a talented life coach, and that’s why she’s got a ton to teach us.

I am thrilled to announce that she is now offering a…(wait for the fantastic title, because it rocks)…Happy Mommy Course. I can’t say how much I love the name of this course, because it says it all. Because when you get down to it, that’s the basis of what we moms really want: to be happy with our kids. Julie gets this, and that is why she has designed an entire course to help you get there.

Go make your life better with this Happy Mommy Course! Smart, hands-on practical steps you can take in the midst of your busy days to find happiness and sanity in your life. The tips are surprisingly easy and the freebie included here is incredible! Go make time for your self-care!

Even cooler than the title is the design of the course. First of all, it’s all digital (yay for being able to learn in our jammies!). Secondly, it’s broken up into four videos that can be viewed at a pace that works for you. While they work well when done on a weekly basis, this is not necessary. There are slides in the video that well accompany Julie’s instruction, but they don’t progress quickly, so it is very possible to take in the course while attending to one of your mundane mothering tasks (e.g., I listened to one class while washing dishes and cooking dinner).

The four classes topics are Control and Perfection, Focus on Gratitude, Communication Key, and Finding Space in Your Life. Very prevalent topics and very needed instruction to us mommies in search of greater balance and happiness!

At the end of each class, there is a (very manageable and genuinely helpful, trust me) homework assignment to help you process the material presented. Again, this can be completed at your own pace, and Julie well reinforces this in her videos. She gets what it’s like to be a crazy busy mom, really.

To cap it off, Julie offers a free 30 minute life coaching session to each participant. YOU WANT THIS. Again, trust me.

Is this course worth it? Yes. A hundred times over, yes. I say this with a sincerity and an assertiveness I reserve for those dearest to me. In fact, as I write this post, a friend just called from the midst of a very tricky, exhausting life situation. She has no bonus time to think or indulge fanciful things, yet still, I said, “I am here, I am thrilled to listen always and pray for you; also, there is a course I need you to take. I promise it will help.”

I believe the course is so wholly effective because I myself approached it with an admitted skepticism: do I really need this? I grumbled in my head about not having the time or the money, and then I took it. True story: those few hours I spent listening to Julie were some of the most peaceful I’ve had in memory.

What is the course about? Exactly what it says; Julie teaches the value of happiness in our lives as mommies, and offers practical, hands-on, well broken-down steps we can take to achieve it in the course of our busy days. As I listened, I felt myself calming as she taught the very powerful truth of sanity-saving grace. Moreover, I found her words echoing back to me days well after I’d completed the course. Her wisdom is real and it sticks.

Go make your life better with this Happy Mommy Course! Smart, hands-on practical steps you can take in the midst of your busy days to find happiness and sanity in your life. The tips are surprisingly easy and the freebie included here is incredible! Go make time for your self-care!

I think the best personal testimony I could offer is a simple event that happened after I finished the first class. Feeling freshly empowered to care for myself, I ignored the looming laundry pile and I took a nap. That I desperately needed. And I didn’t feel guilty about it.

And I knew Julie was there, cheering me on.

Go take the Happy Mommy Course, friends, and I say this because I love you. The laundry will wait.

******If it’s not clear, my high opinion of this course is 100% genuine. Thank you to Julie Bel Connor for allowing me to sample the material so I could share the Happy Mommy Course with you******

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Jan 132016
 

Struggling to make your budget work? This simple trick for cutting your electric bill is a one-step easy way to start saving more money for the things you need. Stop throwing money out the window and start saving some coins in that piggy bank! So glad I found this idea!When Direct Energy asked me to share some of their New Year’s deals with you, I realized it was the perfect time to share my own family’s efforts to save money and get a little smarter about budgeting.

You see, we’ve recently started this crazy business of trying to teach our children responsible saving. I won’t lie: this is primarily inspired by our upcoming trip to Disney and my kids’ intense desire to buy ALL of the Mickey Mouse Mr. Potato Head parts they’ve heard rumors of the toy stores carrying. Maybe don’t tell my husband about all these planned spud-related purchases; let’s just silently pack an extra bag and break it to him gently after we’re there?

In any case, their desire to get their shop on was the perfect opportunity to roll out an important life lesson: if you want something, you need to save for it. So we rolled out a simple coin reward system that encourages good behavior with the addition of coins to their jars. Unseemly behavior results in taking away coins. Largely, it has worked really well. Except for the panicky moments during the morning dash to school when I madly vacillate between absurd pleas and threats: “If you buckle yourselves in in five seconds, you each get 3 coins!” “If you ever touch your brother again, you will lose ten coins!” Mommy’s sense of reason tends to be a tad off when there are excessive coats and mittens to manage before she’s had her whole dose of coffee.

While there are less coin jars in the world of adult budgeting, the concept of needing to save money is the same. And the new year is the perfect time to kick off a fresh budget and get more serious about banking your cash instead of spending it, especially on unnecessary purchases.

One unnecessary purchase that is super easy to cut? Overpriced energy! Electricity is something that we rely on in our homes, and is a regular, necessary part of our budgets. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t save money when paying for electricity.

Struggling to make your budget work? This simple trick for cutting your electric bill is a one-step easy way to start saving more money for the things you need. Stop throwing money out the window and start saving some coins in that piggy bank! So glad I found this idea!

Using this current fab deal from Direct Energy if you live in Pennsylvania can help you bank way more of your hard-earned cash. Direct Energy has special offers in PA the month of January! In Pennsylvania – Save up to 16%* over MetEd’s electricity rate, and up to 12%* over Penn Power’s electricity rate. There’s more! Save up to 10%* over Penelec’s electricity rate! That’s some sweet savings.

Why is Direct Energy such a smart choice? It offers a fixed-rate energy plan: your electricity rate won’t fluctuate throughout your contract term. Even if you aren’t a PA-resident, Direct Energy offers different savings depending on where you live – plug in your zipcode on the landing page to learn about the offers available in your area. You can also score big with Direct Energy as it’s the only energy provider to be a part of Plenti, which allows you to earn monthly rewards.

So check it out! Snagging the best deal on electricity can create a ton more wiggle room in your budget, helping you save money for the important things on your list—be them of the Mr. Potato Head part nature or otherwise 😉

Go get your energy savings on, friends!

Struggling to make your budget work? This simple trick for cutting your electric bill is a one-step easy way to start saving more money for the things you need. Stop throwing money out the window and start saving some coins in that piggy bank! So glad I found this idea!

*All savings refers to the current difference between Direct Energy’s fixed rate offer and the Utility’s current Fixed Rate for Basic Service as of January 8, 2016, and does not include any other component of the electricity bill. Utility rates are subject to change and there may be no savings following the respective official utility rate change date.  Direct Energy’s fixed rates include electricity supply charges only and excludes delivery/transmission charges, taxes, and all other utility-related charges. Offer is limited and valid for new residential customers only.

***This post is sponsored by Direct Energy, but my excitement for saving on my energy bill is all my own!***

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Jan 112016
 

This mothering gig is HARD WORK, especially when we aren't sure what to do or are feeling overwhelmed. It's a scary feeling to make sure we are giving our kids enough love and the proper attention, especially when they leave for school. Here's the trick I've found to having peace about making sure they are okay and being well cared for, even when I'm not with my children.It was December 18th, we were on our way to an IEP meeting, and I was grouchy. Christmas-grouchy, to be specific. You know, the kind of grouchy where you are so overwhelmed with holiday tasks, having to participate with the world at large seems irksomely superfluous.

I wasn’t in the mood to have a whole table of professionals delineate all the many challenges my son faces. I wasn’t in the mood, better said, to be defeated. I already felt defeated. I felt tired from life and trying to keep up with it and I had just spilled coffee on my new shirt, so it might be fair to say that my grouchiness level was full-on cranky.

But I pasted my smile on, kicked my husband under the table, reminding him to be nice, and all seven of the professionals required to facilitate my son’s participation in the school system filed into the room. And the meeting began, and the smart experts started talking, and my preciously coddled bad mood went exactly where it should go–flying out the window.

Because as these ladies spoke of working with my son, one very true truth was quickly revealed: they cared about him. They spoke of his strengths and struggles and they did it not only with kindness, but with a genuine affection for who our sweet little dude is. They giggled over the silly things he says, they told stories of comforting him when he was scared, and delighted in the growth that he’s made.

My son is a sweet, sweet boy. He has many faults, for sure, but above all, he is a kind, endearing ball of love. And while this has been mentioned at earlier meetings, at this meeting I could hear how continued time with my son had more wholly warmed their hearts to him. And what did this do for my own heart? It made me feel blessedly peaceful.

You see, I know our job as moms is not to care for our kids all the time; it is to make sure they are being cared for all the time. And up until this big bad thing of a school bus rolled into our lives and snatched my baby away, I’d had a lot more control over how this caring went down.

This mothering gig is HARD WORK, especially when we aren't sure what to do or are feeling overwhelmed. It's a scary feeling to make sure we are giving our kids enough love and the proper attention, especially when they leave for school. Here's the trick I've found to having peace about making sure they are okay and being well cared for, even when I'm not with my children.

Crazy things like professionals and people who were way smarter about a lot of things in his world than I will ever be started weighing in with very valid ideas and opinions. I knew my mama’s voice still mattered, and that I was still ultimately in control, but there was a lot happening for my little guy that I wasn’t ready to trust as being good or bad for him. And that is a scary place to be as mom.

I couldn’t name it as I was walking through it, but I think perhaps the root of this past year’s pain and struggles with my son’s schooling has been fear. We were in uncharted territory without our own map and I didn’t know if it was safe for us to rely on our guides. Scary. My job was to make sure he was well cared for, and I honestly didn’t know if he was. I was sending him down the street to let a whole bunch of people work their magic on him, but I wasn’t yet sure the magic was a good thing.

Until this meeting. It was as if something gave way in my heart as I saw the heart they had developed for my son. Before the meeting, I knew the people in the room were savvy and talented. After the meeting, I knew they were also kind, caring people who loved on my little boy. 

Wow.

This mothering gig is HARD WORK, especially when we aren't sure what to do or are feeling overwhelmed. It's a scary feeling to make sure we are giving our kids enough love and the proper attention, especially when they leave for school. Here's the trick I've found to having peace about making sure they are okay and being well cared for, even when I'm not with my children.

Now I could rest easy knowing I was doing my job, my mama’s job of making sure my son was being cared for all the time. Yes, even when he was in that daunting elementary building (the happy rainbow paintings on the walls, the flower-topped pens in the office, and the giddy giggles of children on the playground can seem down-right menacing, no?), he was not only safe, he was exactly where he needed to be.

Yup, I realized that day that it was probably going to be okay, I was freed to go back to my Christmas-grouchy. Except I didn’t feel grouchy any more, I just felt free.

Check one off this mama’s current task list–my son is in good hands.

 

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Jan 062016
 

The doubt and discouragement we face as moms and parents can be so overwhelming. Snag some needed hope here and learn the real, true, healthy perspective to parenting and healthy daily living that will give you hope and encouragement. Boot that lonely, defeated feeling with this truth!It happened yesterday. I was having a Tuesday. A Tuesday still shadowed by post-holiday slumpiness and house mess. A Tuesday in January, no less. Why on earth God found fit to throw this horrid month into the year, I’ll never understand.

I was stomping fabulously around the house, trying to watch a 4 yr. old, unpack a massive grocery run, tackle the dirty breakfast dishes still on the table and take a business call all at the same time. A day of a tight schedule, I was also eyeing the clock heavily, knowing I had to finish up by 11am if I was to have any hope of getting my workout in before the next school run.

I could do this, really.

I could not do this. Because I’m human. It didn’t happen.

Cognitively, I’m down with this whole being human business and the implied limitations. I requested my superhero cape years ago, but it has yet to materialize.

What I’m not so cool with is those paralyzing moments when you just don’t feel so okay about those limitations. When it feels scary and uncertain if you’ll make it through whatever it is you need to make it through.

It might be something like the surface of a Tuesday: will I ever be able to get this pit of a household in order and still make it to our next appointment?

It might be a Tuesday that resonates a little deeper: will there ever be a point in my life when I can shower like a normal person and not feel like a walking circus show? I am so, so tired of being a circus show…

It might be the stress and strain of having a child you don’t know how to best care for, despite all your good intentions and powerful love.

It might be the hurt and logistical chaos of having an ill or dying loved one.

It might be the endless confusion of planning a Disney vacation for the first time. Go ahead and laugh: I used to, now I’m actually doing it myself and end up quaking in fear with my planning books more nights than not.

It might be having a sick kid–for the umpteenth millionth day in row.

It might be other stymieing first-time events: potty-training, PTA meetings, attending a Bikram yoga class, going back to school, an aggressive plan to address the weight situation you’ve been ignoring for too long, or dating when you haven’t done it since you were a hot little young thing.

It might be a complicated battle with the cable company. Or panic over news that a new water heater is needed. Or the unfortunate realization that your neighborhood’s desperate electric service will not permit getting through winter’s worst sans the purchase of a powerfully terrific generator.

In my most neurotic of days, it might be adjusting to the use of a new, simpler paper planner system. Yes, I’m serious.

In my darker of days, it might be that impenetrable feeling of loneliness or missing someone who’s gone known only to those who’ve been in such shoes.

The doubt and discouragement we face as moms and parents can be so overwhelming. Snag some needed hope here and learn the real, true, healthy perspective to parenting and healthy daily living that will give you hope and encouragement. Boot that lonely, defeated feeling with this truth!

As I look at this list of what might rock and shake our worlds, I didn’t plan to link to so many previous posts about personal fires. Yet that’s a pretty cool testament to my mantra. You see, surviving storms has nothing to do with strength, but it has everything to do with the mantra that began continuously streaming through my mind since my first child was born, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).

I repeat it when I battle to find time for that work-out or a shower. I repeat it when my daughter screams through her 16th temper tantrum of the day. I repeat it when I’m scared, when I’m confused, or so tired it takes me a long minute to remember where the washing machine is in my own house. True story.

I repeat it, and repeat it often. And it is always, never not, pervasively, wholly true. And it is my strength, and it carries me.

Yet on my most recent Tuesday, truth told, what I most wanted was someone to say to me was, “You’ve got this.”

I needed to hear those words. Those exact words.

The doubt and discouragement we face as moms and parents can be so overwhelming. Snag some needed hope here and learn the real, true, healthy perspective to parenting and healthy daily living that will give you hope and encouragement. Boot that lonely, defeated feeling with this truth!

And so, in turn, I’m saying them to you, my dear readers. In case you need to hear them. In case you need strength for your journey, whatever that journey is.

I don’t know what you are facing, what it is that you must go through, but I do know, in my heart of hearts, that you are sold-out trying and this life has a crazy ability to resolve itself, for good or for bad. And so I know that you’ve got this. You’ve so, so got this.

When this life feels scary or uncertain or insurmountable, you’ve got this. I say this as a fellow mom in the trenches, and I say it with all the love I could ever hope to pass on. In these moments, above all else running through your mind, know that YOU’VE GOT THIS.

Really. xo

 

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Dec 302015
 

Feeling down and depressed? You aren't alone. Dark places are known by so many, even though we don't always discuss. Beating yourself over something stupid? Find light and hope here with this one simple realization.Lest you’ve ever felt things have ever been slightly out of control in 2015, this re-post’s for you…and here’s to fresh starts, friends!

I’d like to report that Monday, the three year anniversary of my mother’s death, ended up being a day of blessing, a day of reflective happiness spent with my children, niece and sister. Instead, I drove the minivan through the garage door.

You know that AllState commercial when the garage door is shattered by the foolish home owner? THAT WAS ME.

I’d love to share happy, gainful sentiments on how the death of one’s mother can be a beautiful self-growth experience. But I cannot. Because I was an idiot.

I could blame my daughter’s incessant 3-yr. oldness for my break with sane, rational precautions. Like opening the garage door before I drove through it. I could blame my continued destabilizing grief for not thinking clearly. I could blame preschool for the last-minute curve ball of needing to find the perfect solution for Dr. Seuss Hat Day.

The truth? It was all these things.

But I was still an idiot.

I very cautiously guarded who I could share my mess with. Because it was so very real, so very desperate, and so very, very messy. With that one horrific crunch of metal crashing upon metal, everything quickly fell into a rather dark state.

I wasn’t just mad and sad, I was hurt. I was ashamed. I felt alone in my stupidity and lack of ability to get it together. And truth told, I might have bottled up my circus show and privately berated myself for the pain of my mess, except…

My sweet sister. She visited shortly after the savage garage door attack. As I expressed my disillusion with my life with her through broken sobs, she very sagely, kindly, cautiously suggested that I am not the only one in this world who does stupid things.

Huh. I still refused to believe that anyone could be as big as a fool as me, but wondering if there might be truth to her bold insight, I ventured to tell a few others of the colossal disaster my day had become.

Accidents and stupid mistakes happen--to ALL of us, really. Feeling down and depressed? You aren't alone. Dark places are known by so many, even though we don't always discuss. Beating yourself over something stupid? Find light and hope here with this one simple realization.

And you know what? Almost everyone else had a story of some bone-headed move they’d rocked with their own vehicles. Tales of walls side-scraped, parking meters nailed, even getting stuck teetering on top of a median. My sister was right; I am not the only one who has done something fantastically stupid with their car.

I am not the only who has cost my family 1500 unavailable dollars by doing something really dumb.

I’ll be vulnerably honest, readers, I am still in that dark place, still furious with myself and genuinely doubting whether I will ever competently function on this earth.

But I will accept this: I will accept that I am not the only one who has been in this crappy place.

And lest you are in this place too, my only prayer is that you will confidently know you aren’t alone either. Supposedly there is a flip side. Supposedly someday we will laugh about tossing money at maintaining our homes after we’ve attacked them in our fits of foolishness.

In the meantime, cozy up here for a hug. I love you; God loves you. And there is a really fabulous circus show going by that we are privvy to watch.

 

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Dec 282015
 

This was by far my most visited post of the year. It was written in the corners of a desperate, tired afternoon as I fought with my son over reading homework and burned dinner on the stove…I think this is why is resonated so much. I love you, friends. Truly, I love you…

If your kids ever seem weird or different, YOU AREN'T ALONE. I promise! Navigating challenging behaviors and raising positive children is the hardest parenting task we face, but we can do this, really! Grab this perspective and ride it out. I promise this honesty will feel refreshing!Last week was a tad on the brutal side for me.

You see, I had dedicatedly laid the ground work to rock my Mom of the Year title by volunteering to help with not one but BOTH of my kids’ class parties. Yup, silly things like work assignments, laundry piles, and Mommy’s sanity be darned! I was going to be there, it was going to be shiny perfect and we were going to celebrate Halloween like nobody’s business.

The sad news is my happy plans fell to crap. Crap in the form that both of the aforementioned parties ended horribly. In tears. My children’s tears to be exact. My daughter’s meltdown centered around some passionate 4 year old personal space issues, while my son’s delicate tether to appropriate behavior was lost to overstimulation and defeat in a BINGO game. Brutal scenes, like I said.

So how did I, in my infinite lack of wisdom, handle it? Endless calls to husband at work, panicked development of Pinterest-sanctioned reward/consequence behavioral systems, and of course, a friendly glass or two of wine. Oh, and prayers, lots of them, because the defeat I felt was poignant, and ultimately turning elsewhere felt horridly empty.

The thing was, I was sad. My heart was hurting. Badly.

I looked at, I watched, I saw the other children in the classrooms. The ones who were happy to just be there. The ones who giggled and laughed sans shedding a single tear. The ones who were too consumed with glee over Halloween treats and games to throw a scene. The ones who were normal.

Ouch.

Ouch.

Where did I go wrong? I am so far from ideal, but my children have a relatively good home environment. They are fed, clean, cared for, played with, read endless Berenstein Bears stories to, held when they get boo-boos, socialized, and forced to slug through homework nightly with two decently-educated parents. Most importantly, through a hodge-podge mess of our day-to-days, my husband and I have managed to pass on our faith to our children, in a very sincere way.

We aren’t doing that badly.

Are we??

I distinctly remember a chat with a mom a few months ago when I was describing the epic force of my daughter’s tantrums. She said, most clearly, “Oh, I would never allow my children to behave that way.”

Ouch.

Because I suggest my daughter roll on the floor, wailing. Because I control the volume of her cries and her stubborn, stubborn spirit.

I was talking to another mom and mentioned my son’s (very intricate) IEP. She asked, “What’s an IEP?” I worked hard to describe the general concept of putting additional measures in place to promote a child’s success in the school system. Her confusion didn’t abate, “But why can’t he just do what the rest of the class does?”

Ouch.

If your kids ever seem weird or different, YOU AREN'T ALONE. I promise! Navigating challenging behaviors and raising positive children is the hardest parenting task we face, but we can do this, really! Grab this perspective and ride it out. I promise this honesty will feel refreshing!

After my splendid afternoon with my son’s class, I was lost. Simply, lost. I put my fab hip dark grey minivan in gear and landed myself at a friend’s house. I sat at her kitchen table and wailed, “Why are my kids the weird ones?”

She said, “You aren’t in those other families’ homes. You don’t know what happens there.”

Gah. She was right.

I glared at her insight. I didn’t care. My kids were weird. I was embarassed. And I had surely failed as a mother. In fact, surely, there was some sort of Adequete Parenting Board who would be knocking down my door soon, demanding return of my membership badge.

The truth is, I was sad, I was hurting. I am sad, I am hurting.

I don’t know if God will have my children abandon their ill socially-acceptable behaviors.

I don’t know how I will to cope with their differences.

I don’t know why they are different.

I don’t know what to say to people who have perfect children.

I don’t know how to reflect their judgey glances and not feel an acute pain.

I don’t know if their glances are actually judgey or I have ventured into paranoid psychois.

I don’t know how to be perfect.

I do know, that if you understand any of my words, you aren’t alone.

I do know that I get you, that I’m here.

I know that I won’t judge you.

And I know that I’ll keep praying endlessly, to the end of my days, that we might feel a peace in our hearts.

Because, did you know, that our children are gorgeous? Exactly as they are. I know this in some core of my being.

Weird, stupid temper tantrums, awkward, awful post-Halloween party visits in the guidance counselor office, and neurotic needs to not lose BINGO included.

I don’t know the future, but I do know the present. And for those of us who hurt, it may not be pretty. But it’s gorgeous in the realness that we will continue to love our children–to the best of our ability, just as they are, just as we are.

You can do this, friends. And you aren’t alone.

 

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