Category:

Parenting

Parenting is nothing you expected and everything you could have imagined all rolled into one. I have been spit up on, pooped on, vomited on all before 7 a.m. in the newborn years. I’ve watched my toddler shove a pearl up her nose and poop in her mouth, and I’ve even masticated food. Not as fun as it sounds. I’ve survived breast buds and the sex talk. I share everything I ever learned and you might want to know about parenting from pregnancy to labor thru to the teens years.  It’s is hard but it’s the toughest job that you’ll ever love but the salary sucks.

sick mom, cooties, working with preschoolers, cootie pond

Good morning from the deep end of the cootie pond. I’m on day 5 of my second illness in a month. Yes, my friends, this mom has gone back to school with preschoolers and my compromised immune system is showing.

This year is a big year for me. It’s the first year, in 14 years of being a mom, that I’ve decided to take a position working outside the home. I’ve spent the last 14 years working from home so that I could be here for my daughters.

Working with Preschoolers is drowning in the cootie pond.

I never planned on being a stay-at-home mom. But the moment they laid Bella on my chest, I knew I couldn’t leave her. I tried. God knows I tried. When she was about 18 months old, I took a part-time job as a tech at the local pharmacy but I soon fell pregnant and wanted to be home with my girls. Even being financially tight it was worth it to me to be home with my girls.

READ ALSO: Back to Scholl shopping with Amazon

I still want to be there for my girls (I’d also like to have a steady income to help out financially) but now that the girls are 14 and 12-years-old, I’ve decided to give working outside of the home another try. This time, I’ve taken a part-time job at my daughter’s elementary school working with preschoolers. It’s fun and the hours are perfect. I still get to be there for my girls when they’re home.

In all honesty, I’d forgotten what it was like to be around preschoolers. 4 and 5-year-olds have a lot of energy. They’re snuggly and they love to cuddle and share everything. They are so cute and full of wonder. I love working with these little people. They honestly fill my heart with energy that only 4 and 5-year-olds can.

Preschoolers lick everything.

There is only one caveat, they are covered in germs. Like me, they have spent the last few years of life in a bubble (we’re severely immunocompromised). They catch viruses. They’re too small and young to know to cover their mouths when they sneeze and cough. They lick everything. I mean everything. I forgot about that. Little kids stick their fingers in their mouths and touch everything. I’ve seen them lick tables, their hands after touching the toilet, each other and me.

Between the licking, coughing, sneezing, touching and finger sucking, they’re like little Petri dishes of germs. Did I mention that on the first day of work the cutest little boy in the world coughed directly into my mouth? Directly. It’s through no fault of their own. They just haven’t been alive long enough to learn not to do these things. They have no self-control and they don’t understand the word no. The only thing they know is to live and love full-on. Cooties be damned.

READ ALSO: Pint-Sized Bullies Beware

Anyways, I’m on sickness number two. If you’re keeping count, I’ve been sick for the entire month that I’ve been working. The other teachers assure me that I will be right as rain after the first year. Yes, you read that right, the.first.year. I’m investing in all the zinc lozenges, hand sanitizer, boogie wipes, Kleenex with aloe and Nyquil. I spend my weekends resting and recuperating to live another school week.

There have been moments when I’ve asked myself if this is all worth it. Some days I’m not sure. But, if I’m being honest, those little cootie carriers have snuggled their way into my heart and I’m not sure I could quit on them any more than I could my own girls.

Preschoolers are the cutest little cootie carriers ever.

It’s been a while since my girls were preschoolers, moms with preschoolers how do you protect yourself from the cooties your little ones bring home from preschool?

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Back-to-school, first day of school, kids growing up, letting go

How did back-to-school come so fast? One day the kids were getting out for the summer and the next day, it was time to go back. Summer was not long enough. The older my girls get the faster the summers seem to go and, to be honest, I’m not loving it. I want to slow down time and hold on for just a little longer.

Disclosure: Amazon sent me the Happy School Year kit but all opinions are my own.

This year, my oldest starts high school, my youngest is right smack dab in middle school and I am going back to preschool. Well, I took a part-time job working with the cutest preschoolers ever. I’d almost forgotten how independent, sassy and hilarious 4-year-olds can be. Back-to-school is hitting me in all the feels everywhere this time.

READ ALSO: The first day of High School was Harder than Expected

For us, back-to-school is like New Year’s Eve. It’s a time for resetting and starting over, especially this year with my oldest being a freshman. It was the perfect opportunity to set some New School Year’s resolutions for all of us.

My oldest girl wants to keep up on her homework, get involved in school spirit and support her teams, stay physically active and get ahead on her reading. I love the way she is finding her way and becoming the fierce, ambitious young lady she wants to be. The girls wear uniforms but they are able to express themselves with their accessories, shoes and bags. Here are some of her favorite Amazon back-to-school finds, Be Brave. Be Bold. Be You. Daily Notebook, Fire HD 10 Tablet and Fujimax camera for taking pictures of all of her new friends to hang in her locker.

Back-to-school with Amazon is easy and convenient.

My youngest loves school and is a social butterfly. She is very into tech and is a bit of a VSCO girl. She’s all about being green, eating healthy and saving the world. But being that she is only 12, she is still very into fun, quirky school supplies. Did someone say  Geddes Scented Donut Shoppe Erasers,   Zebra Cadoozles Mechanical Pencils , ZIPIT Twister Pencil Case,  Wickedly Prime Plantain Chips and S’well Stainless Steel Bottle? She really loves that her  MEE KidJamz 3Child Safe Headphones and   AmazonBasics Everyday School Backpack match and she’s made them her own by adding funky pins.

READ ALSO: Back to School Breaking my Heart

As for me, I haven’t been hanging out with the preschooler set in ages so I’m stocking up on Boogie wipes, Zinc lozenges and Babyganics hand sanitizer in bulk. I’ve been a stay-at-home / work-from-home mom for the past 14-years so hanging with these little cuties a few hours every day is definitely going to boost my immune system. I should probably stock up on Vitamin C and vitamins, as well.

Amazon makes it easy to get all of your back-to-school needs met in one convenient location. We have a busy life and back-to-school is an insanely chaotic time of year for us, so convenience and dependability are very important to us. We know that we can count on amazon to get us what we need as soon as possible and that takes the stress out of back-to-school shopping for me.

Did you use Amazon for your back-to-school shopping this year? If not, why not?

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first day of high school, high school, back to school. teenagers

Nothing could have prepared me for my daughter’s first day of high school. I expected there to change. Even expected there to be stress and nervous energy. Definitely, did not expect the first day of high school to be harder than the first day of kindergarten. It was so much worse.

I not the mom who cried in the kindergarten corridor, my girls are stoic. They’re independent and they suck it up. They get that from their daddy. I’m highly emotional. I do suck it up but I always give myself permission to feel my feelings.

READ ALSO: Kindergarten, the beginning of the end

All summer Bella’s joked that she wants to be homeschooled. She’s wanted to be homeschool since about 2nd grade. Due to demanding dance schedules, Bella’s ballet friends are homeschooled. I never put much weight in it because I work from home. I’ve taught and had classroom time. But teaching your own child is something different entirely so my answer has always been a firm no.

But this summer, she wouldn’t drop it. I assumed she was getting nervous for the change to high school. After all, she’s been at the same school since 1st grade. But on that first morning, she was overcome with fear and begged me to not make her go.

READ ALSO: The Different Kinds of Moms You Meet on the First Day of School

Do you have any idea how hard that was for me? I’m very close to my girls. We’re a small family, just the 4 of us and they really are my best friends ( I know it’s not cool to say that but in our case, it is true). I don’t say no very often to things they really want. Things yes but not asks of me as a mom. This morning, I had to stand strong and push my baby bird out of the nest, for her own good.

As moms, I think most of us would love to just keep our little ones snuggled up near us forever but that’s not what’s best for them. How can I expect her to be a functioning good human being when I let her shy away from everything that scares her?

The entire car ride to school, she was silently holding back tears. I saw it. I didn’t acknowledge it because, just like when they are toddlers and you make a deal about a booboo, that’s the moment the histrionics begin. I was trying to be stoic because, confession, I am totally the mom who kisses all the booboos and makes a big deal. But I needed to be strong for her.

READ ALSO: Slipping through my Fingers

About a block from the school, we were stopped in traffic and she could see the cars lining up to make the street cross at the yield sign. She could see all the other freshman and realized that she knew none of them. I heard the whimpering as she stifled her cries. My heart broke into a zillion pieces. Be strong, Debi. You can do this. Do it for Bella She needs you. This is not about you. Do NOT fall apart woman. Not turning the car went against all of my mommy instincts.

There we were in the car at drop off on her first official morning of high school. This day was just for incoming freshman. I love that. The student ambassadors were standing outside lining the drop off lanes, holding banners welcoming the new students. Cheerleaders were cheering. Teachers were standing at attention with full-faced smiles. Even the school mascot was standing outside giving out free hugs. I felt comfortable dropping her off in this situation.

I turned to the passenger seat and there say my baby, my firstborn, sobbing from fear of the unknown and no amount of reassurance was going to fix this but neither was letting her not face it. It was now. This was her moment. It was also a really hard parenting moment because I confess, all I wanted to do was grab her in my arms, peel outta there and take her home with me and make it all better. Instead, holding back tears behind my giant Gucci sunglasses, I grabbed her hand, told her that I loved her, kissed her cheek and told her to have the best day. ” I’ll see you soon.”

first day of high school, high school, back to school. teenagers

Looking back at me with her cheetah spotted face, through blubbering from sheer panic and fear, she said, “I hate you, mom.” I knew she didn’t mean it. I knew that was her way of letting me know how very hard this moment was for her. This was her being scared and clinging to anything that would get me to stop the trajectory of our morning. She wanted off. She wanted out. She was terrified and I was the only thing that stood between her and the comfort of how things were.

I cried all the way home. I felt like the worst mom in the history of the world. I felt like I had abandoned her at the moment she needed me most. But I know that I did the right thing because it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I had to walk away when my daughter metaphorically had her hands outstretched to me, begging me to rescue her. Instead, I gently pushed her out of the nest. I’m not sure how I’m going to survive when she goes away to college.

READ ALSO:  Only 9 more Summers

That’s the thing about being a parent, we have to love them so much that we do what’s best for them, even when it breaks our hearts. We have to let them go, even when all we want to do is hold them tight. We have to love them so hard that they see themselves the way we do. We lift them up, give them courage and self-confidence when they are at their most vulnerable. We watch from the sidelines, with no glory or fanfare, being their biggest cheerleaders for all of their lives. We love them enough to convince them to see that they are as wonderful as we’ve always known they were…since that moment they were first placed upon our chest the moment they were born.

What was your child’s first day of school like this year?

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How to keep your children safe online from toddler to teen, online safety

Children and teens love being online. The older they get, the more they love it. Whether it’s watching videos on YouTube, playing Fortnite or interacting with friends from school on SnapChat and Instagram, our kids spend a lot of time online. The thing is, do we really know who they’re hanging out within the online world? We can’t even be sure that we know who we’re dealing with in this world of online personas and filters. Is anyone who they seem to be? I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to keep my children safe online from the toddler age through to their teens.

Maybe it would be easier if our kids were just playing outside. But that’s not the real world. It’s only part of it and our kids need to learn how to navigate safely through the digital world. It’s not like when we were kids. There’s a whole online world connecting our children to people all over the world. All the hoping and wishing is not going to unring that bell.

READ ALSO: Online Persona who’s real and who isn’t? How to know the difference.

There may be those that argue that digital technology makes children unhealthy from the lack of fresh air and physical activity. People will tell you that this generation of kids will be awkward and develop poor social skills but I think that’s an alarmist attitude. Our children need to have their bearings in both worlds because currently, the future is living in one and experiencing life in the other.

There are solid arguments in defense of having exposure to technology from a young age. Many games involve complex problems that need solving. Schools use online classrooms and apps to teach our kids. These same games can improve hand-eye coordination and children learn very quickly how to use technology in great depth, in a very natural and intuitive way.

A bigger concern though is how safe our children are online. With access to so much, often unrestricted content, how do we know that our children are not going to come into contact with things that they’re not old enough to deal with? We have parental controls on our daughters’ computers and phones. They are only allowed the apps we give them permission to use and we check often. But even the most vigilant parent can’t be everywhere all the time. We need to teach our children, from an early age, how to be safe and smart online.

READ ALSO: How to keep your family safe online

The other aspect of this is also a concern over who they might come into contact with. There is always a worry with social media or games that have chat functions, that children may come into contact with strangers who prey on the young. My biggest fear is a pedophile posing as another child, gaining my daughters’ trust and violating them in some way.

So how do we deal with this challenge? Nobody wants to cut their children off entirely from enjoying something they love, and with technology being a bigger and bigger part of our lives, the children of today will have even more of a relationship with technology.  As parents, we have to keep them informed, tech-savvy and safe by doing a few simple things.

Take An Interest In What Your Child Is Doing Online

Make online activities a family experience where you can. Get involved with their gaming, and spend time understanding what they’re doing when they are online. My girls only game online when their dad is playing with them. Keeping a healthy, positive interest will mean that your children will be less likely to hide activity from you. If you know the games, they’re playing, and the sites that they’re visiting, you’ll have a better idea of what any specific risks are. This will help you put things in place to minimize these risks.

Teach your children about passwords by sitting with them when they sign up to their first sites. Make sure they learn early on how important passwords are, and that they should use different passwords on different websites and use a healthy mix of letters (upper and lowercase), numbers and special characters.

Having Straight, Honest Conversations

Be honest with your children about the dangers of strangers online, and the kind of content on there, but try not to scare them too much. They do have to live and work online. Encourage them to be cautious. Encourage your children to talk to you about anything that they see so that if something ever happens, they go to you immediately.

Parental Controls

Make sure you know how to access any master parental controls from your home router, as well on every device your children might have access to. This is so important. Find out about the best apps and devices for monitoring your kids safe online activity. Make sure that these are installed and working.

“Friend” Your Children

If your children are using social media, befriend or follow them online. Your children need to learn that anything they post online has the potential to be viewed by anyone and that once it’s posted, even if it gets deleted, it could come back and cause them damage. I taught my girls from the beginning to not post anything that they wouldn’t want their grandpa seeing. I’ve also shown them how screenshot works and the reality that nothing is temporary on the internet. The Internet is forever.

How to keep your children safe online from toddler to teen, online safetyThese are just a few tips for keeping your children safe online. What’s your best tip?

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Going back to work, stay-at-home mom, new career

Are you a stay-at-home mom? Have you taken a break from corporate America to be at home and raise your family? Maybe you’re thinking of dipping your toe back in the office pond? You’re not alone. It’s scary.

A few months ago, I got really excited about the thought of returning to a corporate job. I actually got way more excited than I expected to. Dare I say I was giddy. Suddenly, the thought of someone calling me by my actual name and not needing me to keep them alive was very appealing. I felt wanted for my brain and it was amazing.

Building a fulfilling career is a challenge that a lot of people struggle with. It takes years of pushing yourself in the right direction and doing the hard work to move up the ladder. It’s easy to end up back at square one in the process, especially if you take time out for personal reasons, like raising a family. Nobody wants to hear it but it’s true even if it shouldn’t be.

READ ALSO: Working Mom Guilt; Finding the Balance 

Raising children takes a lot of time and effort, so it’s no wonder that you have to work twice as hard if you are trying to balance that with climbing the ladder in corporate America. Let’s be honest mamas and papas, I’ve only got two legs and after spending the day chasing little ones and running behind eye-rolling teenagers, my two legs and my brain are exhausted.

That shouldn’t keep us from having the careers we went to school for and worked so hard for before we became parents. Being a parent should not mean an automatic, go to jail do not pass go. We should not be penalized. Let’s be honest, parents need the money more than anyone else. Kids are expensive.

If you’re planning on returning to the workforce, hopefully, this post will help pump you up to go out there and do you.

Why Do It?

First, decide what your ‘why’ is? What is your reason for wanting to return to work? If you’re like me, your “why” are those little people whose butts and noses you’ve been wiping for the past few years. Then, get your head in the right space. There are so many reasons to want to build a career as your kids grow up, from wanting something different in your life to planning ahead for when the kids are grown. You have to decide what makes it worth it for you and your family. Obviously, there are benefits anyone would get from this, you’ll find a few below.

Money: While working any “job” can provide enough money for you to live on, especially if you are going from a 1 to 2 income household, but getting something higher up the ladder will obviously present the potential to earn more money. This extra money could go towards a vacation home, helping your kids as they start their own careers, traveling the world or just saving for a rainy day. But, I’ll be honest, if I’m leaving the house and my family, it’s got to be worth it, so the higher up the ladder, the better to me.

READ ALSO: Would You Prefer Being Divorced over Being a Stay-at-Home Parent?

Satisfaction: Personal fulfillment is a big motivator. I used to speak 4 languages. Now, my first languages are baby gibberish and teen slang. Retirement sounds like the real American dream when you’re in a job you hate. However, the reality is that spending all of that time focused on yourself might not be all it’s all cracked up. You might actually find it to be boring, especially if you take early retirement. By building a career doing something that you love you can add a lot of satisfaction to your work life and when you do retire it will be because you’re ready to relax not because you are trying to get away from a job you hate.

Personal Value: Not everyone cares about being around other people, and will be happy to work for themselves for their entire life. If you value the community to live in, maybe you pursue a career as a way of increasing your personal value to your local area. For example, entering a new field where you are contributing value to your community may be something that you find fulfilling and fills a need for the people in your area.

Your Direction

Now that you’ve considered the benefits, time to think about how you’re going to build your career. First, decide on your direction. This doesn’t have to be as specific as the company you’d like to work for or the exact role you want, as long as it gives you a clear path to follow. Not a lot of people take this approach, but it can be a good idea to build your goals into something like a business plan. Having a plan will help you find your way to the career path you want.

This is a serious decision and it’s important that you consider everything and everyone this move will affect. You’ll want a career that you will enjoy and this will probably be the most important factor for most of us, but it isn’t the only thing to consider. It’s also worth considering the things that you’re good at, as well as those things that you struggle with. With these considerations in mind, it should be easy to find a fulfilling career path that you’ll love. You’ll need to do lots of research to find something you can jump into that meets all of your criteria.

Education

There are several hurdles that you’ll need to overcome before you can find yourself a new career, and education is one of the biggest. It’s common for employers to expect degrees and certifications from potential employees, even if the jobs being advertised don’t require them. The market is oversaturated with qualified people. With Professor Google, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what you need and you can easily search for courses to upgrade your qualifications.

Research: This will start with a little bit of research, with each of the courses you have available asking for different requirements. There are websites out there which collect and compare qualifications, but you may have to do some extra searching to make sure that you’re not missing an option that could be perfect for you.

READ ALSO: If You Send Your Kids to Public School, You’re the Worst

Type Of Study: Over the last few years, it’s become increasingly common for schools to offer e-learning courses. These options are perfect for those who want to raise children at the same time as learning. Not everyone will have the discipline or attention span for something like this, so seriously consider the commitment before you decide to take on something like a BBA online to become a business manager.

Get Qualified: Once you know what kind, of course, you’d like to take and how you’d like to do it, it’s time to start getting qualified. This could take anywhere from a couple of months to several years, making it hard for a lot of people to stay focused and motivated. If you start when your kids are babies, you’ll have lots of great opportunities to do some learning as they grow up. Or maybe you prefer to wait until they are in school all day, either way, where there is a will there is a way. You can do this.

Experience

Along with working on your education to build a new career or return to the one you had, you may also need to spend some time thinking about the experience you have. While you need to work to be able to get experience, most roles will expect a minimum of a few years working in an entry-level role before you can get into something better. For some people, this will be a normal part of progression, and it won’t be too hard to push yourself to work for a few years before you can get the job you really want. However, maybe you’ve been doing some on the job training as a parent that you haven’t even considered. For example, I think my organization and multitasking skills have definitely grown as I’ve been working with children for the past 14 years.

As your kids grow up, you will have plenty of opportunities to get experience. If you wanted to become an office manager, for example, it would make sense to spend some time working in the school office or a local doctor’s office. This can be done when the kids are at school, and even as little as one day a week can be enough to build the background you need. This will enable you to slip into your new career far more quickly once the kids have left home, and won’t force you to spend the first leg of your career doing entry-level work.

Getting Your New Job

After all of this effort, it’ll feel like you’ve done more than enough to get the job of your dreams. In reality, though, you still have to go through the application and interview process. Applying for the job you like is simple enough; you only need a resume and a cover letter. There are loads of resources around the web that can help you with this. Employers will get far more applications than they need, and your documents could end up simply being ignored. This isn’t something you can control but makes sense to cast a wide nest and apply for as many jobs as possible.

If you’re successful with your application, you’ll be asked for an interview, and this will usually be face to face. This can be equally terrifying and surprisingly exciting. This is where I got to in the process. Prepare for your interview. Even if you feel confident, a question you’re unprepared for can easily throw you off your game. There are lots of resources on the web to help you prep for an interview. You might get confusing and difficult questions, but it will be worth taking the time to think about each of them. Anything that makes you feel more at ease in the interview process is an asset and a weapon that puts you ahead of the other candidates.

READ ALSO: What’s the DIfference Between a SAHM and Working Moms?

In most cases, you will only ever hear back from an employer if you’ve got the job, with the rest of the candidates being ignored. It’s not worth letting your hope die if a couple of months go by, though, as a lot of businesses have to go through long processes to hire someone, and won’t be able to get back to you until everything is properly in place. Unfortunately for me, that position that I was really excited about got put on hold according to the last email I received from the HR department. But still, it felt good to be interviewed and see a company get excited about what I have to offer.

With all of this in mind, are you ready to take on the challenge of building a career while you’re a full-time parent? And what parent isn’t a full-time parent? This approach can make your future more enjoyable with more money, satisfaction, and skills you’ve ever had before all working together to provide you and your family with a higher quality of life.

Are you ready to go back to work?

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father's day, what makes a father, how to be a good dad

Today is Father’s Day. When you think of the word father, you think of the man who gave you life. But really, a father is something much more than that, if you’re lucky. What makes a father? More importantly, how do you know how to be a good dad? A father is someone who loves you at your worst, someone who shows up every single day, even when it’s harder than anyone could have ever anticipated.

I think in a lot of ways; men are given hall passes on their responsibility as a parent. It’s like we’ve lowered the bar so far we don’t even know what makes a father anymore and no one is teaching men how to be a good dad. I’m not even blaming the men. I’m blaming society as a whole. Somewhere along the way, it became acceptable to do the bare minimum and still hold the title of father. A lot of dads just accepted the status quo. Maybe they didn’t know any better or maybe it was all of those pats on the back for taking care of their own children.

READ ALSO: Happy Father’s Day

What is a father? A father is defined as a male parent but to be a good dad includes behaving paternally. Instinctually putting your child before yourself. Prioritizing their happiness and well-being above your own sometimes. We should celebrate these dads every day of the year, not just on Father’s Day. It’s about more than gifts, it’s about appreciating all that they do.

Today, I wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the involved fathers.

There are a lot of great dads out there. Men who constantly show up and are there for their children and partners all the time. Men who embrace the title and feel privileged to be a part of their children’s lives. Men who do everything possible to create a better world for their children. I hope there are more of those dads than there are men who contribute to the genetic makeup of their children and think that’s where fatherhood ends.

father's day, what makes a father, how to be a good dad

I’d like to say a special Happy Father’s Day to my husband, the Big Guy, for being the best father and husband anyone could ever want. He is 100% my partner in parenting. There is nothing I can do that he can’t do for our girls, well, with the exception of gestating them but then again, he is the husband who had sympathetic symptoms and weight gain so he tried. All kidding aside, I know that we are lucky because he is a kind and good man at his core.

He shows up when he’s exhausted and weary. Woke up many a night with our newborns, paced the floor with a colicky baby and held toddlers with nightmares of chickens and lemurs. The Big Guy does what needs to be done even when he doesn’t want to. He’s selfless and caring. His family always comes first and even though he and I had different upbringings and came from different cultures, he saw how important family was to me and he embraced it all.

father's day, what makes a father, how to be a good dad

This is what makes a father.

He drives on long road trips so that he can show his girls the world. He treats them (and me) we unconditional love and respect so that they can see what a relationship is supposed to look/feel like. He holds them when they’re sad, listens when the world is hard and confusing, hears the things that go unsaid and makes them smile when they are sad. The Big Guy tries new things and goes out of his comfort zone so that our girls won’t be afraid to spread their wings and fly someday. His love knows no bounds.

father's day, what makes a father, how to be a good dad

He’s driven to and attended countless ballet classes, recitals and performances. The Big Guy has worked backstage and volunteered to do things most dads would emphatically refuse. He’s been there for Robotics, soccer, gymnastics, violin and cheerleading. Helps with homework and hugs them when they’ve had a hard day. Listens to them gossip about school and talk about boys. Holds their hair when they’re sick, keeps them calm when they need shots and laughs the loudest when they are funny (even when it’s not funny). He builds them up so no one else can knock them down.

READ ALSO: A Baby Changes Everything

The Big Guy spoils them and makes them feel special because they are his girls. He encourages them and supports them in all that they’ve ever wanted to try or shown interest in. He is a cheerleader and a coach. He’s a soft place to land when the world knocks them down. He is so much more than words can say. They call him daddy, Papi and papa and he is all of that and more.

father's day, what makes a father, how to be a good dad

Wondering how to be a good dad?

I am so happy that my daughters have such an amazing man as their father; a man who comes home from a long day at work and still musters the energy to play for hours with the girls. A man who listens quietly as they recount the most inane teenage drama there ever way. A father who doesn’t try to fix everything and knows when to just hear you. He makes 3 am runs for Tylenol and 6 am runs for cupcakes for school, rides your favorite roller coaster with you 15 times in a row and watches your favorite cartoon until you tire of it. He does all of this and never complains. This is love. This is what I wish for every child.

father's day, what makes a father, how to be a good dad

Happy Father’s Day to our Big Guy. We love you so much and we see you. We see all that you do for your family. We see the sacrifices that you make and we feel the love you give every single day. You are the best man we could have ever hoped to share our lives with.

Love you to the moon and back and to infinity and beyond!
XOXO Your Girls

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birthday, just a little longer, 12th birthday, love letter to my daughter

She runs up to me and holds my face in her tiny hands, “Mama, I love you foreber and eber. Ok?” Gabs posed everything in question form as a toddler. Still, my heart knew what she meant. She was going to love me as long as I was going to love her. This is our legacy, to love just a little longer.

READ ALSO: Happy Birthday to my Daughter on her 14th Birthday

Since she was born, my personality doppelganger, she simultaneously pushed me away as she pulled me near. I got it. I get it. I am her and she is me. We are the same in so many ways. When she was tiny, so tiny, she wouldn’t let anyone else hold her (except for the Big Guy but still, she preferred me over all else and I loved it.) Everyone else hated it but, secretly, I loved that I was the one she always wanted and I happily obliged. How many evenings did we spend, just the two of us, feeding and her falling asleep in my arms? I could have stayed there in those quiet moments, just the two of us, forever.

READ ALSO: Love Letter to my Daughter on her 7th Birthday

But children are like trees, they plant roots but they just keep on growing and evolving; more beautiful and more majestic with each passing year. How I love to watch them grow. It is my greatest pleasure and biggest honor. That’s what being a mom is… letting go and being thankful for the opportunity to be part of something bigger than yourself. They are my legacy.

Still, as I watch my newly/nearly/almost 12-year-old, my heart still pulls toward her and wants to caress her face softly and check that she is breathing, just like I did on all those nights while I watched her sleep as a newborn. I may have even woken her up a few times, just to be able to hold her for just a little longer.

She is growing up to be such an amazing young woman. She is strong, independent, fierce and not fearless but brave. She is scared of a lot of things; mostly big things like death and life and endings and beginnings. She is wise beyond her years.  She has the wisdom of a scholar and a heart that loves with no boundaries. I am fascinated by who she is becoming.

READ ALSO: I’ll Love You Fourever

She is me and I am her but she is so much better than I could have ever have hoped to be. My Gabs is truly a gift to all who know her. She’s effortlessly witty and funny; charming in her own special way.  I only wish that she knew how genuine and one of a kind she is. I watch her from a close distance because she is not the child who wants me to do everything for her. She wants to do everything herself.

Learning from mistakes is where she thrives. Even though I hate to watch her stumble as she grows, her independence only allows me to help her up after she falls. That is the beauty in her. She never gives up. Once she decides what she wants the only thing that can stop her is her and I admire her for that. Her spirit is like an eagle taking flight and I love this kid more than words can adequately convey. I hope she always knows how proud and honored I feel to be her mother.

READ ALSO: Love Letter to My Daughter on her 11th Birthday

 

Gabs,

 

12-years ago tonight, I held you on my chest for the first time ever. Meeting you will always be one of the most profound moments of my life. I have and will always love you more than everything. You make me proud every single day of your life. Don’t grow up too fast. I want to hold you in my heart and be your favorite person just a little longer. Keep being yourself and making your videos and cracking your jokes. Keep saying what’s on your mind. Never stop dressing and dancing they way you want. You are amazing. You’ll always be my love and my life, sweet girl. I’m going to love you forever and ever, ok?

 

Love,

Mama

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Dreft, eczema, how to protect baby, caring for baby skin, sensitive skin, spring allergies, mom tips

Do you like surprises? Me, neither. Unless it’s, here’s a bag filled with a million dollars sort of surprise. Still, I got a big one this Mother’s Day. My baby girl became a woman.On.Mothers.Day. If that isn’t putting a fine point on it all, I don’t know what is. I thought we had some time. She’s only 11, well, nearly 12. In a week, she will be 12-years-old. But if I’d been in any sort of denial about my baby growing up, welp, that’s all been slapped right out of my mind.

Mother’s Day wasn’t what I expected this year on any account. Normally, I relax and spend the day focused on myself, alone. It has been heavenly and indulgent and wonderful for my entire tenure as a mother because my husband is awesome. He gets me. He really does.

This year was different because mortality decided it wanted to pay me an unexpected visit just to remind me that I am not actually invincible. I am human. I err. I can die at any moment. We all can.

READ ALSO: How a Doctor’s Visit Saved My Life

While I’ve been secretly patting myself on the back because I don’t feel like I’ve had a “midlife crisis” like some others who have told me they are in the throes of one, I got too damn big for my britches, as my southern mama would say. While I was busy not obsessing over my looks, rejecting bread like it was syphilis and trying to fight mother nature my body played a nasty trick on me. While I was being “cool” and “aging gracefully” my body had other plans.

Here I am with a health created, self-induced midlife crisis. Suddenly, the carefree, living in the skin I’m in, tired of being fat but not tired enough to do something about it woman is now, working out and eating like her life depends on it. I’m not fighting the hands of time but I’m trying to keep death at bay. I’m trying to reverse the damage a lifetime of abusing my body has inflicted.

READ ALSO: That One time I went into “HEAT” at Panda Express

So amidst all of this, on the bleakest of Mother’s Day, laying in bed feeling completely overwhelmed by my own inner monologue…living in this moment of the winter of my most discontent…an effing period snapped me out of it. My baby girl became a woman and put even a finer point on the fact that I’ve got work to do. My girls need me and there is no time for self-pity. Self-care yes. Self-reflection? Hell yeah. I need to be at my best because my girls need me for many more firsts.

She was a little scared. It’s new and it was her first. It was different than her sister, as they’ve always been. It was magical and scary for us both. But it was exciting too because it’s her first and she’s a young woman. This is the beginning of a lifetime of womanhood. We are all three of us women. We’re like a club or a coven or something but this binds us in an even deeper way. Then we went out to celebrate with Starbucks because in our house becoming a woman is cause for celebration.

READ ALSO: Girl, You’ll be a woman soon

My babies are growing up. One of them, quite literally, on Mother’s Day. The Big Guy and my girls have been my saviors in this life, more times than once. They give me reason and purpose and that is more than enough. The Big Guy saved me from myself when he came into my life. The girls rescued me from mediocrity. Having them has always made me want to do and be better. Because of them, I am becoming my best self.

How did you celebrate Mother’s Day? What do your children inspire you to do?

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Mother's Day. march of dimes, anthem foundation, premature births, fertility, regret, postponing motherhood, baby, birth, pregnancy, labor, delivery,new mom, what labor feels like

Normally, for Mother’s Day, all I want is a day of peace and rest. The kids leave me alone (except for hugs and kisses in the morning) and the Big Guy assumes 100% of all the parenting and household duties. This has been my dream Mother’s Day for many years and I’ve been living the dream.

 

I’ll gladly accept homemade cards, baubles and gift cards for massages. I love all of those things. But mostly I love sleeping in, no bickering, not having to do dishes or cook or think. I love binging R-rated movies and blasting the music that I want to listen to as loud as I want. Now if a cleaning fairy would just show up and dust and fold all the clothes (and put them away).

 

However, this year is different. Monday I was told I’m sick. Really sick. Life-threateningly sick. So this year, while I would love to sleep in and have no bickering or do any menial household chores, I mostly want to enjoy my family because that I’ll always be here is not a given. That I can send them into another room while I binge Netflix alone isn’t what I want. This year, I feel like I can’t take anything for granted.

 

Maybe I won’t be secluding myself this year, as I’ve done for many other Mother’s Days. I won’t be over planning or trying to fit someone else’s expectation of what Mother’s Day is supposed to look like either. I don’t want roses or brunch at the Waldorf, I just want to relax and not have to be anywhere or do anything. I want to live a day at my leisure with no responsibility and yes, this year, I want it to be with my family.

 

I want snuggles and cuddles and kisses and hugs. I want talking and laughing and enjoying one another’s company. I want memories and nostalgia and never letting go. I want to be a Mother because not everyone gets to.

 

There is no right or wrong way to celebrate motherhood. For each of us, it is different. For all of us, it’s personal. Each mother is beautiful and special in her own way and each family celebrates differently. The important thing is that we take the time and savor the moment, reflecting on the honor it is that we are blessed to have children and they are blessed to have us because without one another, what would we be?

 

This weekend, we’ll be celebrating in a way that is us. Saturday, we’re taking a short road trip to see Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo and I’m super excited because it’s in the middle of the day so I don’t have to worry about early mornings or late nights.

 

Sunday, I’ll sleep in until I wake up then head to mass because this mama can use all the God she can get these days. Then, home for a healthy brunch cooked by the Big Guy. It will be a designated bickering-free zone for the day, so the lovely tween and teen will have to abstain from killing one another. Followed by watching movies, a nap, a family walk, and a delicious, yet healthy, dinner. Then, Game of Thrones and a back rub. Maybe I’ll even throw a long bath in there somewhere. I haven’t had a soak in years. Sounds like perfection to me. I know, I’m pretty specific but this is what my dreams are made of these days.

 

Anyways, that’s my dream Mother’s Day 2019. Normally, it’s to be alone so if that is your perfect Mother’s Day, I am not mad at you. We are the same people. This year, I have a different perspective and every moment with my girls counts so this is where we are…spending the day in peace and love with my family. Here’s hoping it all plays out.

 

What’s your dream Mother’s Day? If you could do anything in the world on Mother’s Day what would it be?

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Things to do in Banff with Teenagers, traveling with teens, travel Tuesday, Banff, Alberta, visit Canada, Visit Alberta, Things to do in Banff with Teenagers and tweens, family travel

If you want to take your children or teens someplace that will leave them speechless, visit Banff, Alberta. If you’re a parent, you already know how rare that can be. Children and teenagers are always in a hurry to get to the next place, the next thing and are easily bored and not afraid to tell you. If you prefer not to be serenaded by choruses of, “Are we there yet?” and “I’m bored” then Banff is for you.

I’m a talker who is easily bored and when I found myself standing at the mouth of Lake Louise, I had no words. I’m a city girl.  Grew up in Chicago. Love the city. I feed off of the hustle and bustle of people in a hurry. Kinetic energy gives me life. Standing in the stillness surrounded by all of that natural beauty, embracing the quiet is an inexplicable kind of breathtaking.

READ ALSO: Things to Do In Portland Maine with Kids and Teens

In my opinion, Banff is one of the most stunningly beautiful places on earth. The moment that I set eyes on Moraine Lake, I knew that I needed to share this place with my girls and the Big Guy. It’s a gift I want to give them.

There are certain things in life that have to be seen with your own eyes, felt with your heart and experienced to be believed. Banff is one of those places. You have to stand there and soak it in to believe this kind of beauty exists. I don’t want to oversell it, but then again I don’t think that is possible.

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Boston with Your Tweens and Teenagers

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains in the province of Alberta, Canada, Banff has mountains, rivers, valleys and glaciers. If your family loves exploring new places and going on adventures while being 100 %present, this is the perfect family vacation for the teenager or child who can’t sit still.

Things to do in Banff with Teenagers

Things to do in Banff with Teenagers, traveling with teens, travel Tuesday, Banff, Alberta, visit Canada, Visit Alberta, Things to do in Banff with Teenagers and tweens, family travel

Moraine Lake

This might be my favorite spot in all of Banff. I may or may not have requested upon returning that my ashes be scattered there one day. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of all of that beautiful? Moraine Lake’s blue waters are surrounded by towering mountains, including 11,500-foot Mount Temple, the third highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Located a 15-minute drive from the quieter more serene Lake Louise, popular Moraine Lake, can be crowded in summer. My suggestion, arrive early to enjoy canoeing and hiking before the crowds arrive.

Things to do in Banff with Teenagers, traveling with teens, travel Tuesday, Banff, Alberta, visit Canada, Visit Alberta, Things to do in Banff with Teenagers and tweens, family travel

Lake Louise

Lake Louise, located within Banff National Park, is absolutely stunning. The emerald green lake is spectacular and the region has a range of hikes from easy lakeside strolls to more difficult ascents. The town of Banff is located 35 miles from the lake, so you will not be immersed in the crowds. The Lake Louise region has a sightseeing gondola and horseback riding.

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka, the largest lake in Banff National Park, provides classic Canadian Rockies scenery. As the park’s only lake to allow motorized boating, Minnewanka is popular and crowded. Make reservations and arrive early to take a 1, 2, or 3-hour cruise around the lake. Lake Minnewanka is located a 20-minute drive from the town of Banff.

Banff Hot Springs

After a day of adventure seeking with your teens, what’s more relaxing than winding down in the Hot Springs? A natural hot spring provides an invigorating mixture of minerals to soothe your family’s sore muscles after a day of hiking, skiing or mountain biking. The Hot Springs are open seven days a week and well into the evening.

Banff Hiking

With more than 1,000 miles of trail, Banff National Parks offers path options for every level hiker. For an easy hike, try the Tunnel Mountain trail. Accessible from the town of Banff, the 1.4-mile trail leads to the mountain’s summit, with great views of the Bow Valley. Both Emerald Lake and Lake Louise offer additional easy family hikes with little elevation gain but with gorgeous scenery. In July and August wildflowers lace the Garden Path Trail, at Sunshine Village ski area.

Several outfitters offer guided hikes within the park, including the Mountain Heritage Guide Program at the Chateau Lake Louise.

Ice Climbing Banff’s Frozen Waterfalls

If your teen really wants to explore Banff like an adventurer, using an ice ax to climb a frozen waterfall is about the most exciting way to do that. Get yourself a guide for this excursion this winter and impress your teens with your adventurous spirit. You’d be hard pressed to find a cooler way to explore Banff’s creeks and canyon.

Climb Banff’s Majestic Walls

Banff has more than just fresh powder and raging rivers to offer. Being in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff has numerous cliffs and crags to rock climb. Hire a guide to bring you along on a multi-pitch trek in Bow Valley or the Ghost River area. Whether you are looking for traditional top roping or pushing your limits with sport climbing, your teens will be safe as you explore. Banff boasts some of the best limestone formations that give you the most accessible and remote areas of Alberta to enjoy.

Ski the “Big Three”

Skiing is a year-round possibility in Banff. I was there in August and it snowed. The big three resorts to go to are Sunshine Village, Mount Norquay, and the Lake Louise Ski Resort. These three mountains, give you access to 8,000+ acres, 26 chair lifts, and 30+ feet of annual snow fall. There is something for everyone, whether your teens are first timer skiers/ snowboarders or black diamond ready or simply want to take in the majestic mountains, Banff is an excellent choice.

Things to do in Banff with Teenagers, traveling with teens, travel Tuesday, Banff, Alberta, visit Canada, Visit Alberta, Things to do in Banff with Teenagers and tweens, family travel

Banff Trail Rides

Biking Banff will give you the ultimate Canadian choose-your-own adventure with all the scenic views and the opportunity to stop at will and take it all in. The best time for cycling through Banff is May through October for milder temperatures.

Banff Horseback Riding

Trail rides are a fun way to take in the scenery for those who prefer horses to hikes. Horses carry riders 2,000 feet up the mountain to the 7,000-foot-high tea house. After a break, you mount up and head back down. More experienced riders can sign on for longer expeditions that takes you through the forest, up mountain trails, to the banks of a waterfall and then high above the tree line for a panoramic view.

Banff Gondola

An eight-minute, enclosed gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain gifts you with panoramic views. At the summit, stroll the Banff Skywalk or try the more difficult South East Ridge Trail hike depending on your family’s skill level.

Snowshoe through the Rocky Mountains

If you want to take your teens on the ultimate backcountry adventure, snowshoeing might be for you. Depending on how outdoorsy you and your teens are and your skill levels, you can choose a half-day to multiple day excursions. These adventures could include climbing the Continental divide, snowshoeing across frozen lakes or seeing Banff from a mountain peak. Possibilities for thrills is endless.

Rafting the Chinook River

Rafting is something that I’ve always wanted to do and that I think my teens would really enjoy. Banff offers several different rafting routes to choose from. Two of the most thrilling river rides are Horseshoe Canyon and Kicking Horse River. These rides will leave you exhilarated and soaked after a day on the rapids. On Horseshoe Canyon, you even have the option of cliff jumping if the rapids are not too fierce. Some excursions offer a BBQ lunch and professional photos of your family in the rapids!

Canoe or Kayak the Bow River

The Bow River is almost magical, born from snowmelt from the peaks of the Canadian Rockies. It winds through Banff flowing south. You can rent a boat and go exploring alone or hire a local guide.

Columbia Icefields

On this adventure, you and your teens will board giant buses with tires the size of adults that can handle moving through the ice on the Athabasca Glacier. You are left atop a glacier where you can stand on ice created by snow that fell 400 years ago. Holy wow! Your children of all ages will love this. Imagine a snowball fight made of centuries-old snowflakes. The Columbia Icefields cover nearly 200 square miles, the Athabasca Glacier is one of the most easily accessible. Tours take place mid-April to mid-October. Reservations are recommended.

Icefields Parkway

This is where you can really get some quiet time, save for some gasps of OMG! Stretching for about 143 miles between Lake Louise and the town of Jasper, the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) delivers breathtaking scenery. You’ll pass forests, river valleys, mountains with peaks reaching 10,000 feet and Peyto Lake, the bluest in the Canadian Rockies. This bluer than blue color is a result of fine particles of ground rock scattering the sun’s rays. Bighorn sheep, elk, mountain goats and ravens can often be seen along this drive.

Sunshine Meadows Gondola

Kids, teenagers and adults will love this scenic summer gondola ride up the Rocky Mountains in Canada’s oldest national park, Banff. Begin your adventure by hopping inside an eight-person gondola at the base of Sunshine Village and enjoy a 20-minute scenic mountain ride. At the top, you will arrive at Sunshine Village.

A short walk from the gondola, visitors can hop on a four-person chairlift to reach the top of the mountain. This brings you to the magnificent viewpoint at the top of the mountain. There is a short, gravel walking trail to reach an elevated viewpoint. As you walk along the trail, you will enter the Canadian Provence of British Columbia and then cross back over into Alberta. The kids will think that’s cool.

Take your time and enjoy the breathtaking mountain and lake views from the summit and take tons of photos. Though I literally took thousands and it still wasn’t enough. Photos cannot accurately capture the magic that is Banff. These views have to be seen to be believed. Several hiking trails begin at the top of the mountain and head back to the village or you can take the chairlift and gondola back down the mountain. It’s up to you.

These are just a few of the things that you can do with tweens and teenagers in Banff. The possibilities are endless. The adventure begins with you and the feeling of experiencing it all together as a family will last a lifetime.

What’s your favorite place to travel as a family and why?

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