App-sessed! How did our mothers ever survive?

Ok, I love a good organizational tool just as much as the next OCD mom, but I feel like every component of my children’s lives is connected to an app. I’ve had to become “app-sessed” if I want to know the latest information about their activities so I show up at practice when I’m supposed to and deliver orange slices to the soccer team on the right weekend. There are apps for each classroom, an app for the soccer team, and a group chat for scouts. I’m sure I’m missing one, but just know there are multiple groups with lots of people in them.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the fact that these apps allow me to connect with the people I need to, but it does get me wondering…how did our mothers ever survive? Forget about there not being apps 30 years ago, there weren’t even cell phones! Yet, I still got to where I needed to be at the right time and the soccer team had their orange slices on the right weekend. It was pure magic!

I remember my mom being part of a  “telephone tree” when information for school or an activity had to get out. The idea of a phone blast was not even a thought! My mom would actually pick up the phone to call someone to relay a message. I know…the horror.

Nine times out of ten they even picked up the phone since there was no caller ID. They couldn’t just let it go to voicemail to avoid having a conversation (not that anyone would ever do that these days). She actually gave up five minutes of her day to have a live conversation with another human being. Imagine!

There were no group texts to send out and get information. She didn’t have to worry about being part of a group text where everyone needed to text back the entire group to say that they not only got the message but to also say thank you five minutes later! I now turn off notifications because I don’t need twelve people saying “thank-you” at midnight. Yes, that’s happened and I’m sure many of you can relate.

Sure, I could choose to not download the apps and not join the groups. Then what? I wouldn’t know what’s going on in my children’s classrooms, I would overlap with someone else’s “orange slice weekend” and my kids would miss practice or worse, we would show up on the wrong day.

Call me crazy, but I would love to go back to the days of “telephone trees”. Granted, I may not answer the phone all the time, but one solid, informational phone call versus 20 text message sure sounds good about now. It was a much simpler time back then and things still got done and we all survived without our apps. Our “app-less” mothers still got it done, and probably better than we are today.

Is anyone else feeling “app-sessed” these days or is it just me?

 

 

The Most Important Back to School Lesson

Parents, it’s that time. Perhaps it’s the one you’ve been waiting for since the middle of June.

It’s back to school time!

Cue the applause!

When it comes to back to school preps, there are so many things to do. From clothes shopping to making sure you get the right school supplies not to mention the back to school haircut, this time of year can become exhausting.

Amid all of the running around, you’re probably instilling some reminders and some new rules too. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
  • Don’t be too chatty in class.
  • Try to actually eat your lunch at lunch so you’re not starving when you get home.
  • Pay attention in class.
  • Raise your hand and ask questions.

These are all things I’ve been telling my little ones. But none of those is the most important lesson of all.

The most important back to school lesson that I’m trying to instill in my girls is to be kind. 

I tell them while you don’t need to be BFFs with everyone, you do need to be kind to everyone.

What does that mean?

It means greeting everyone with a simple hello or good morning.

It means not taking part in any name calling or bullying; in fact, if you witness any of that behavior you need to tell an adult so that it can stop.

It means not laughing at someone when they trip or give the wrong answer in class.

It means offering a helping hand whenever you can.

It means asking another student to sit with you at lunch when you notice they’re always sitting alone.

It means not saying anything if you have nothing nice to say.

It means treating other people as you want to be treated.

Basically, it means just being a good little human.

While all of this sounds pretty easy, ask any child if it is and if many kids do it and they’ll tell you that’s not the case…not even close.

Kids can be downright mean to one another for no reason.

They name call, bully, and can be rude.

Why?

I truly believe that no child is born that way; rude, mean, and with no regard for others. I wholeheartedly believe it starts with what they’re learning at home or not learning for that matter.

Is there anyone there who is telling them not to make fun of the other kids or to always say good morning?

I think in more and more cases the answer is no.

Sometimes parents are so busy with their own lives or making sure their kids are competing academically that they forget about the basic need to be kind. In some cases, there are some parents who may not even find that important.

That’s why I arm my girls with the cold hard fact that some kids can be mean so that they’re not surprised when they encounter them. They already know it’s true because they’ve experienced kids being cruel as young as six years old. They’ve been on the receiving end and know how horrible it feels. That’s even more of a reason to be kind.

Being kind is one of those things that doesn’t take much effort but can mean the world to someone without you even knowing it.

As you get your kids ready for school and see them off on the first day, don’t forget the most important back to school lesson…be kind. It will go a long way in school and in life.

 

 

 

You Know It’s the End of the School Year When…

If you’re a mom you don’t need to look at the calendar to know it’s the end of the school year. There are many signs, some obvious, others more subtle, to let you know your children are about to be home for the next two months or more. In case you didn’t realize, that’s 56 days, perhaps more depending on when your kids are getting out and when they go back.

That’s a lot of trips to the liquor store!

Take a look at these signs and how to deal with them to survive this crazy time of year.

Your child tells you his shirt is too short when he raises his hand in class. If your child says this you can simply tell him to just stop raising his hand. It’s an easy fix.

Your child tells you her pants are getting too short. There’s a simple answer to this one too. They’re not too short. They’re actually these really cool new type of pants that get shorter as it gets warmer so you can wear them as capris.

Your child tells you there are no more potato chips to take to school with his sandwich. Show him where the potatoes are and tell him to improvise. Wait, I still have to make sandwiches??

Your child brings home tests and papers from October. It’s unclear whether they were in their desk for this long or if the teacher just got around to giving them back now. Either way you no longer need a table cloth for your kitchen table because it is now covered with dittos and tests. Somehow you need to get rid of these when your child is not looking because you’re expected to keep every piece of paper they ever put their name on. #impossible

Oh look, another field trip permission slip is shoved in front of your face. So basically kids are not doing any more school work these last two weeks, is that right? Great.

Your child wants to wear a poop emoji shirt to school and you don’t even flinch. As long as it’s the rainbow poop emoji and not the original it’s all good. The original would be bad.

A birthday invitation for a classmate’s party in August comes home in June. You don’t even know this child. Your child “thinks” it’s the kid who sits in front of her. She’s not even sure! Did I mention the party is not until August?

Your child doesn’t want to get up for school and you don’t drag them out of bed. They won’t even notice if he’s late. Are they even taking attendance any more?

Your child’s book bag has a hole in it and he wants a new one for the last two weeks of school. No. Simply, no.

Third grade math has stumped your child and you are of no help, none whatsoever. Go in the bathroom and just Google the answer. She’ll never know and you won’t have to admit you can’t do third grade math. Five months ago you would have sat and down and tried to get the answer and explain it, but not now.

Your child wants to wear a wrinkled shirt to school. You let it slide. You have no interest in ironing. Your child could care less and at this point you’re right there with him.

End of the year activities are consuming you. Forget about keeping up with the Kardashians. You can’t keep up with the Kindergarteners.

Let’s do one more year-end fundraiser. Let’s not and say we did. #overit

Let’s face it, as much as the kids are going to get on your nerves over the summer, we’re all ready for a vacation from school and all the craziness that goes along with it. So when your kids are fighting over which Barbie gets the glitter dress, remember, it could be worse. You could be doing fractions and multiplication tables every night and making lunches…wait you will be in another 56 days! Happy summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re the best mom…sometimes

As we approach Mother’s Day, the one day of the year when our kids are obligated to be nice to us, clean, make us a card, and maybe even get us a present, I’m reminded of something my youngest daughter said to me this week.

“You’re the best mom.”

Awe…how sweet!

Wait for it…”sometimes.”

#awkwardsilence

I looked at her, and thought, what? wait…really? Sometimes? Talk about a backhanded compliment!

Then I thought about it and realized she was right.

I am the best mom…sometimes.

As much as I would like to think I’m on point everyday, there are days when I look in the mirror and know I’m far from it.

There are days when I cringe after hearing “mommy” for what seems like the 100th time. Can’t I change my name?

There are times when the sound of little feet running into my room before 7 a.m. on the weekend makes me wish I had a trap door under my bed that I could escape into.

There are days when the thought of making another school lunch drives me insane.

There are days when I’d rather poke my eyes with a spork then go to soccer practice, another birthday party, or the park. What happened to the days of going to yoga and watching “Lifetime” movies? Oh yeah, I had kids.

There are days when I just want to scream “leave me alone!” But I know I can’t.

There are days when I swear too much and hope my kids won’t repeat what they’ve heard at the most inopportune times.

These are the days when I don’t feel like the best mom…not even close! These are the days when I feel like a hot mess…days that I question how I’m going to make it through to the next.

Then there are the days when my kids snuggle up next to me and give me the best hugs ever.

There are the days when I multi-task like it’s no one’s business and nail it.

There are the days when my girls get upset and I come up with some witty and comforting words from God knows where and they tell me they feel better afterwards.

There are the days when strangers come up to me and tell me how well-behaved my kids are.

There are the days when my kids accomplish something so wonderful that I can’t believe how proud I am of them.

These are the days when I do feel like the best mom…like I must be doing something right to have such great little humans.

I think being the best mom is realizing that you don’t always have the answers and you’re going to make mistakes. There are countless times that my kids ask me a question and I will tell them I don’t know…that includes third grade math homework!

Letting your kids see you’re not perfect is good for their souls because they hopefully will realize that no one is perfect and that it’s okay to make mistakes.

So when my daughter tells me I’m the best mom…sometimes, she’s just keeping it real. And I’m okay with that.

 

I hate you…I love you…You’re my sister

Growing up as an only child, I missed out on the sibling spats that so many of my friends had the luxury of enjoying. As much as I wanted and truly thought my stuffed animals talked back to me, they didn’t.

Fast forward thirty years and as the mother of two girls, I can see how siblings fight and can change their moods in a matter of seconds. It’s like watching an animated film turn into a horror movie right in front of your eyes.

I’ve heard all the stories but really never believed them until I experienced them when my girls started to talk. Ever since, the pendulum has swung from hot to cold in a matter of seconds.

It doesn’t really matter if I’m in the room or not because they get their crazy on right in front of me. There’s no shame.

One minute they’re playing Barbies or a game and it’s so serene I swear I can hear “The Sound of Music” in the background. Barbies are going to a party; my girls are telling each other how much fun they’re having. Then before you know it, I think the Barbies are fighting over the corvette when in reality it’s my little Skippers who are engaged in a battle royale. I let it play out until push comes to shove…literally. Then I have to “momaree” the event and it’s never pretty.

It’s certainly not my finest moment and definitely not theirs.

There’s yelling, there’s crying, then it all stops with the signature ending of my girls saying they hate each other. Yep, another banner day of parenting!

They huff off into their separate corners while I retreat into another room to regain my own sanity.

As I replay this latest episode of “I hate my sister” in my head and try to think of ways for them to stop, I hear something else from the other room.

I peak in and see they’ve each come out of their separate corners. They look at each other and one asks the other if they want to play.

Wait! What?

Five minutes ago you wish you had different mothers, now you want to play? I’m still reeling from the headache you gave me and counting down the hours until you go to bed. Now you’re ready to play nice?

Then I hear three words that must signal I’ve entered the Twilight Zone; either that or I’ve actually slept long enough to have a dream.

“I love you,” says one child. “I love you too,” says the other.

For the love of Christmas! You girls are nuts! More importantly, you’re driving me nuts!

Don’t get me wrong I truly do enjoy the fact that they can make up that quickly, but why all the drama before? I was pretty sure Barbie was going to slap them upside the head because they were acting so crazy!

This is why I’m getting gray. Yep. Totally why.

I know, I know, it’s normal and it’s only going to get worse. Blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard it all before. But, if you go through this too you know how much it sucks in the moment.

It feels like someone kidnapped you and put you on a crazy train. I guess this is what I missed out on by not having a sibling! My Care Bear never told me he hated me. He never told me he loved me either, but I digress.

So what’s a momma to do? Buy ear plugs? I’ve seriously thought about it but realized I would still be able to hear them.

Nope, guess I’ll just grab a book and cozy up on the crazy train because it’s going to be a long ride…

 

 

 

Why Do I Love Them?

Okay, so it’s a given that we all love our kids. They drive us nuts but we love them to death. Hopefully you tell your kids you love them a couple of times a day. When they leave for school in the morning and when they go to bed are probably the two biggies.

Sure you say the words but do you know why?

Do you know why you love your kids besides the fact that they’re you’re kids and that’s what you’re supposed to do?

Crickets.

Think about it. We say the words all the time, but have you ever said to your child, “I love you because…” I know I don’t. That’s why I found a particular project interesting.

You’ve probably seen it (and maybe even done it before). It’s all over Pinterest and the web and often dubbed “Heart Attack” for the bedroom door. It looks like this:

Basically you cut out paper hearts and write something positive about your child for the first 14 days of February leading up to the big heart day…Valentine’s Day! There’s a number of ways to do this, but I chose the “I love you because…” and filled in a reason each day.

At first my kids thought I sniffed the glue gun too much and didn’t quite know what to make of mommy’s new project.

“What are you doing to our doors?” they asked at first with skeptical looks on their faces.

But, when I explained what the project was, they smiled.

“That’s cool. So everyday you’re going to put a heart with something on our door?” my oldest daughter asked.

When I told them yes, they actually let out a big “yeah!”

OMG! They actually liked it! I haven’t lost them yet! One point for Mom!

So, for the past 13 days, that’s just what I’ve been doing. The first couple were easy. But, honestly, it’s been getting hard to come up with 14 unique reasons why I love my kids. I know that may sound horrible but when someone asks you to actually think about it, it’s tough! Not find new “Elf on the Shelf” hiding places tough, but tough in its own regard.

Despite the challenge, I have to say I’ve really enjoyed doing it. It really made me think about what it is about my kids that’s so awesome. I think it’s a great confidence builder for them too. So many times they hear so much negativity in the world that it’s comforting to know they can find happiness and positivity in these little hearts. They can know what it is about themselves that makes them such wonderful kids. It’s something I think they truly internalize and remember.

Although this little “heart attack” is over tomorrow, I’m going to make more of an effort of telling my girls the little things that make them big stars in my heart everyday, not just the first 14 days of February.

 

Read by Example

If your child is in elementary school, chances are reading is part of their nightly homework. While my kids truly do enjoy reading, getting them to do it after a day of school and other homework isn’t easy, to put it mildly.

I can’t say I blame them really. After I write all day, the last thing I want to do is more writing at night! As much as I want to tell them I totally get where they’re coming from on the reading thing, adulting must happen which means I must encourage reading.

After realizing that telling them to read wasn’t really cutting it, I had an “a-ha” moment. You see, I always complain I don’t have time to read or that I’m too tired. One of my many resolutions this year is to try to read more. What better way than to do it with my kids? I get to read, they get to read, and there’s peace and quiet in the house, even if it’s just for ten minutes.

I wasn’t sure they were going to buy it at first, but I pitched it anyway.

“How about we all read for ten to fifteen minutes tonight together?”

Blank stares followed by, “What do you mean?”

“I mean we all pick a comfy spot, grab a book and just read…together…but by ourselves. You read your book, I read my book, but we’re all doing it at the same time.”

Silence.

“Okay, sure…and then we can tell each other what we read,” chimes in my oldest.

Praise Jesus! Maybe you are my kid after all!

“Yes, that sounds like a good idea,” I answer.

So, we read…together…but by ourselves for about 15 minutes. When we’re done, my kids actually do start talking about what they read. It’s working, it’s really working!

I follow the rules too and tell them about my book…which means no reading any “50 Shades” type of stuff with them.

The next day we didn’t have our reading time because we were doing other things. I know, I know, after only one day and I screw it up!

Before all hope is lost, my kids tell me at night, “Hey, we forgot to do our reading. Can we do it tomorrow?”

Amen and Alleluia! I didn’t screw it up…yet!

It’s always the little things that really turn into the big things when you’re a parent.

Why 2018 Should be the Year of You

As moms we tend to put everyone else’s needs in front of our own, and that includes Barbie who always gets her hair knotted in her elastic and needs help buttoning her pants.

Why do we do this? Is it just a case of our mothering nature? Maybe it’s a part of that unspoken oath we all took on the delivery table as we gave birth. Whatever the case, it can leave a momma downright exhausted and feeling empty.

That’s why it’s time to let 2018 be the year of you.

Isn’t it time to give yourself some of that energy you so quickly give to others? Sure, it’s easier said than done. I always say I’m going to do it and then something happens. Who’s fault is that? Is it my kids? Is it Barbie’s fault? No, it’s my own. I’m not saying we, myself included, need to start being narcissists and let our kids fend for themselves 24/7, but a little more self-care never hurt. After all don’t all the experts say you need to be happy and take care of yourself before you can make anyone else happy? I know I’ve heard that countless times before.

That’s where choice comes into play. I’m a firm believer in choice. We all make choices and those choices affect how we live our lives and how we feel about ourselves. If you choose to forego that workout because you’re afraid your kids will miss you too much and no one will be able to do Barbie’s hair like you do, that’s on you. We all know how guilty our kids can make us feel. Plus, Barbie can wait. She’s not going anywhere. But, think about how bad you’re going to feel if you miss that workout you so desperately want. You may become so resentful that you end up taking out your frustrations on your kids instead of zumbaing it out. Get to the gym!

What about skipping out on that date night with your significant other just because the thought of getting a babysitter is exhausting? Trust me, they’ll survive. That time away is a good thing. It gives everyone a much needed time out and time to refresh. I always feel like I’m a better parent once I’ve had some “time off”. Sometimes you need a break, even if it’s just a quick dinner out for a couple of hours. Go out!

When you become a parent your hobbies seem to get lost in the Legos if you know what I mean. I used to be an avid reader, and not of kid’s picture books…of books with actual chapters and paragraphs longer than two sentences. It used to relax me and give me a much needed escape. Why did I stop? I could blame it on my kids, but it really was my choice. I chose to do other things, like folding clothes, putting dishes away, etc. with whatever free time I had. If 2018 is going to be the year of me, it means more reading too. Get reading!

Another “mom thing” seems to be the incessant need to say “yes” to every invitation you and your kids receive. You wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, would you? What about your feelings? What about what you want? I’ve learned the hard way that it’s okay to say no. Quite frankly, no one really cares if you make it to their event as much as you think they do. Ouch! I know that’s hard to hear, but it’s the truth. Sometimes free time is more important than taking your child to a birthday party of a classmate she hardly knows just because she wants to be nice. Get used to saying no!

I think by doing these little things or whatever else you’ve been neglecting can truly help you make 2018 the year of you. What do you say?

 

 

 

The Santa Interrogation

So, I’ve been off the grid for awhile, dealing with all things holiday…shopping, decorating, waking up in a cold sweat when I realize I forgot to move the darn elf, and oh yeah, dealing with the Santa interrogation.

Up until this point, I’ve been able to play the Santa thing with no problem. No questions. No doubt. My kids just took everything I said about Santa as gospel.

He lives at the mall until Christmas Eve.

He has elves that go to Target while the other elves stay at the North Pole to make the other toys Target doesn’t sell.

He manages to come down the chimney without setting the alarm and yes he eats ALL the cookies ALL the children everywhere leave him. That’s why he’s so big.

But, this year, both of my girls want to know more about this man we call Santa. Anyone who knows me can tell you I don’t have a poker face. So, lying is not my specialty. But, for the sake of Santa and all things Christmas, I do my best. I think it’s working…well sorta.

Cue “The Santa Interrogation”.

My 8-year-old has been asking me about all the other “pop-up” Santas we’ve been seeing at different craft fairs, tree lightings, and other events.

“Those aren’t real, right mom?”

Think fast woman!

At the risk of having her believe that Santa runs around all over and leaves his post at the mall, I answer, “Right, those aren’t real. They just help Santa because they know he’s so busy. They’re kinda like elves, but just a step up.”

Buy it, come on, buy it!

“Yeah mom, that’s what I thought. But the one at the mall is the real one, right?”

Quick answer here.

“Of course, the mall Santa is the real deal.”

Now the trick is to only go to one mall so they don’t see all the other ones. Oh yeah, he sleeps in the food court at night too…no I didn’t say that, but I wanted to.

Whew! Dodged that one.

Next.

Now my 6-year-old is getting in on the action.

“Mom, how does Santa make it to all the boys and girls on Christmas Eve?”

Why, why do you want to know? Think fast…

“It’s part of the magic of Christmas. No one really knows.”

Really lame answer, I know. 

Silence. No response. She may be on to me.

“Santa always remembers what I want, that’s cool.”

Yes! Faith restored. We’re good! 

“Mom, what does Santa do when it’s not Christmas?”

Who cares?!?

“He takes a nice vacation because Christmas makes him so tired.”

That was an easy one.

“How does Santa know where we live?”

He googles us.

No, really, “He just knows. Santa knows everything.”

Silence.

Exit children from the table.

The Santa Interrogation is over…for now.

Sigh.

Although the endless questions can get a bit much I know I’m going to miss this time. When else can I tell my kids that it’s okay to sit on a strange old man’s lap and it’s even more okay to let him break into our house once a year to leave presents without taking one thing? What’s even better is that he knows when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake, so don’t bother sleeping with one eye open because he’ll know that too.

Christmas truly is a magical time, isn’t it?

 

Too Sexy for Halloween

Halloween costumes have come a long way from the plastic outfits with matching masks that tightly pinched the back of your head. I remember buying them with my mom in the grocery store for under $10. Looking back, those masks weren’t probably the safest, nor were the 100% plastic costumes we walked around in, but in the ’80’s, E.T. and Strawberry Shortcake never looked so good!

Fast forward thirty years and good luck finding a costume for under $10! Not only that, if you want to dress up to go trick-or-treating or to go to a Halloween party with your kids, good luck finding a costume that doesn’t look like you walk the streets the other 364 days of the year for different kinds of tricks and treats.

I’m not saying we need to go out covered head to toe, but I also don’t think some of these super sexy costumes are practical for the average mom on-the-go at Halloween time.

Recently I went to one of those pop-up Halloween stores…you know the ones that disappear November 1st. I just needed a costume that I could wear to a party with my kids and for Halloween night. Shouldn’t be too difficult, right? Well, you name it and nearly every costume was way too sexy! From nurses to police officers to maids, there wasn’t anything I could see myself wearing comfortably. On top of that, I couldn’t find a costume for under $30.

It’s funny, when I clean my house I don’t look anything like those maids do on the costume bags, nor do I look like any of those nurses when I’m cleaning puke at 2a.m. I think having a maid costume consisting of old bleach-stained sweats, a tank-top and a headband is more appropriate. But, what do I know?

Needless to say, I walked out of the store a half-hour later costume-less. So, I went to a few more stores in search of something that was fun, practical, and somewhat comfy. I was disappointed to discover the same types of costumes. Unless I wanted to be a bottle of ketchup, a minion, or a hot dog, there wasn’t much out there for this mom. So, I went home without a costume.

I was ready to dust off my kitty cat headband and wash my black leggings and shirt for yet another Halloween when a lightbulb went off. Well, not really, I saw a pair of my husband’s shorts and I remembered a costume he put together to make the kids laugh. It was a nerdy looking guy with big knee socks, shorts hiked up, a sweat band, and funny glasses.  So, I re-created the costume for myself and couldn’t be happier! This was far better than anything I saw in any of the stores. It was comfy, funny, and practical.I added my own touches with some new socks and a t-shirt that was on clearance in Target. The bonus was that I spent under $20! Take that over-priced Halloween stores!

So, here’s the bottom line. Costume makers, can moms have some variety? Can you make some fun stuff for those of us who don’t want to catch pneumonia on Halloween by going out in barely nothing with our treats hanging out? Something besides ketchup bottles and hot dogs, please? Many of us would greatly appreciate it! Thank-you and Happy Halloween!