Category:

Little Kids

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 working with preschoolers. It’s fun and the hours are perfect and I still get to be there for my girls whenever 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 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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eye rolling, how to get your teen to respect you , how to get a toddler to respect you

Ever wonder how to get respect from your teen? I remember wondering how to get respect from a toddler. It’s simple really if you want respect from your toddler thru to your teens,  you have to respect them too. I know, crazy, right? I’ve been all for treating my kids as little people from the day they were born. I just adjusted as needed, Age appropriate and full honesty has always been my long term parenting style.

Do your children roll their eyes at you? Mine has on occasion. They’ve been doing it since they gained control of their eyeballs and realized that sometimes, as a mom, I’m winging it. Some days, I don’t even have a clue and feel like the poster child for “ParentingFails.”

I definitely don’t feel like I know how to get respect from a toddler.

I don’t get made though. They come by their champion eye-rolling skills naturally. I’ve been known to roll my own eyes quite frequently — an unfortunate habit leftover from my own teen years. But, being the recipient of a serious eye rolling while I’m talking to my children annoys the p*ss out of me. In my book, it’s as disrespectful as walking away when I’m talking to you. It’s the nonverbal expression of: “You’re so annoying. I’m not listening to you!”

READ ALSO: Toddler Selective Hearing Syndrome

I get that it’s the sort of rebellious behavior one might expect from their tween or teen but now, even preschoolers are doing it. I know this is just one of those awesome hormonally fueled ways that my daughters are trying to exert their independence and test my boundaries but I hate it. As a parent, I need to figure out a way to get respect without hurling insults or being intentionally hurtful. We need to be the change we want to see in the world — so, if I don’t want to get eyes rolled at me, I need to first and foremost stop rolling my eyes. To get respect, you have to give respect. Yes, even to toddler and teens and all ages in between.

Maybe your toddler or teen is just unhappy or frustrated and eye rolling is his or her way of expressing that. Maybe it’s not personal at all. Either way, if it’s bothering you, it’s worth being discussed. Don’t get sidetracked by the rudeness and don’t engage in the same behavior. I know it’s difficult to ignore being ignored.

Try these tips to help guide you in how to get respect from a toddler and how to get your teen to stop rolling their eyes at you.

Expect respect

If you accept rudeness, you’ll get it. Parents who refuse to tolerate rude behavior tend to have kids who aren’t rude. Decide what’s most important to you. Let the house rules be known, and then hold your child accountable.

Choose your battles

You can’t punish your tween every time your child misbehaves. If you try, you will spend all of your time frustrated and yelling. Soon, you will drive yourself crazy — and your child will just start tuning you out. Instead, decide what you’re willing to tolerate and what you’re willing to overlook.

Out of bounds

Warn your kids when they are nearing intolerable behavior. For example, I count to three in Spanish, and my daughters know when I get to one, they have crossed a line. This will let you warn them without embarrassing them. It’s a private mom-and-child code that leaves them with some dignity.

Don’t get down on their level

When my girls roll their eyes at me, my instant reaction is to roll mine back — but how is that helpful? It solves nothing, demonstrates just how immature I am and sets a bad example. So, no matter how hard it is, try to take the high road when disciplining your child. Remember, you are an adult — behave like one.

READ ALSO: When Mom’s Stop Being Nice and Start Being Honest

How do you get your child to stop talking back or rolling their eyes? What is your way to get respect from your teen?

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parent and teen communication, center for parent and teen communication, raising teens, teenagers, tweens, raising girls

Ever wonder why parent and teen communication is so important? Remember all of those years of talking about everything and nothing, when your kids were little. Answering ” why?” about everything and anything they asked, for hours and days on end. There was a reason, at least for me there was. I listen and answer everything then so that now, they feel comfortable enough to ask me anything. I listen to the mundane and every single thing that happened to every friend that day, just so I don’t miss the important things that happen to my daughters.

This post is sponsored by the Center for Parent and Teen Communication.  All memories are my own.

Then

When Bella was younger she was timid. She was always cautiously aware of consequences, unlike her baby sister, but she never let that stop her from pursuing what she wanted to do. She wanted a juice box, she pulled a chair over to the refrigerator and got one. She wanted to perform in the Nutcracker even though hundreds of people were watching and she was terrified? She auditioned. She went to every single rehearsal and she performed her heart out in every single production. And on her first day of kindergarten, when it was time for me to leave, her lip quivered and she gave me her nervous little smile but she sucked it up and she walked chin up right into that class like she belonged. She has never let fear stand between her and what she wants.

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls

Now

center for parent and teen communication, raising teens, teenagers, tweens, raising girls

While all of her friends are trying to fit in, Bella doesn’t care if she stands out. She doesn’t overly concern herself with what everyone else thinks about her. She cares about what she thinks about her. She’s always known we have her back and as long as she respects herself and is respectful of others, she knows the only person she needs to make happy is herself. She still kisses me goodbye at school, hugs me goodnight and tells me she loves me no matter who hears. She’s had friends who’ve wanted her to be someone she isn’t and instead of giving in to the pressure, she’s walked away from the friendship and I couldn’t be prouder of her. I love what a great example of independence and self-confidence she is or her little sister.

READ ALSO: How to Talk to Your Tween about Everything

The video goes hand-in-hand with this piece from Dr. Ken Ginsburg at the Center for Parent and Teen Communication.  It helps to reflect upon all the things I loved about my girls when they were little and see that a lot of that behavior is repeating in their teen years. Please check out this new resource as a guide on your parenting journey.

What are your favorite memories of your child when they were little? What amazing things are they doing as teens?

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Sandy Hook, Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown Connecticut, Adam Lanza, Mass shooting, gun control

I woke up this morning, then, I remembered what today is the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.  It’s 11 days before Christmas. It’s the third day of Hannukah. It’s also the 5-year anniversary of one of the most heinous mass shootings in the history of America. The day 26 innocent children and adults were brutally murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary.

My girls gleefully squeed this morning when reminding us that TODAY is the day that we adopted our puppy, Lola. She was a Christmas surprise for our girls in 2012 after a particularly hard year; we lost a baby, we lost our family dog and we moved away from everyone we ever knew. But, I know today is something else.

Five years ago today, a man murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. On Dec. 14, 2012, a 20-year-old named Adam Lanza fired his Bushmaster rifle through the school’s locked front door and commenced a killing spree. At the time, it was the second deadliest mass shooting in US history. What seemed to shake the nation the most was the age of the victims, children who were just six and seven years old. On December 14, 2012, my daughters were 5 and 7-years-old. The Sandy Hook events shook me to my core.

Sandy Hook, Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown Connecticut, Adam Lanza, Mass shooting, gun control

Today is December 14th. A day that changed the way I parent forever; a day that changed me. Today, on a morning just like this in the small town of Newtown, Connecticut, parents dropped their children off at Sandy Hook Elementary and kissed them goodbye like I did on that same morning in a sleepy town in Indiana.

You drive off, probably listening to Christmas music with your heart all full of that feeling of positivity and cheer we all feel at this time of year because it’s in the air. People are nicer, friendlier and generally, the world is just slightly better.

I remember dropping our girls off and the Big Guy and I took the day off to finish our Christmas shopping. In fact, we spent most of the day playing with a certain puppy and the rest was spent wistfully having lunch and laughing as we ducked in and out of stores thinking of how happy each this or that would make our daughters on Christmas morning. All the while, we counted ourselves lucky that our children were safe at school.

It wasn’t until the pick-up line that afternoon that we actually heard the horrific news of what happened to those 20 beautiful children and the 6 adults who tried to protect them and my heart broke as all of my faith in humanity drained slowly from my body, as I held it all together at pick-up. It wasn’t until after bedtime that night that I could fully digest the scope of what Adam Lanza did that day.

Lanza then entered a first-grade classroom where Lauren Rousseau, a substitute teacher, had herded her first grade students to the back of the room, and was trying to hide them in a bathroom, when Lanza forced his way into the classroom.[44] Rousseau, Rachel D’Avino (a behavioral therapist who had been employed for a week at the school to work with a special needs student), and fifteen students in Rousseau’s class were all killed. Fourteen of the children were dead at the scene; one injured child was taken to a hospital for treatment, but was later declared dead. Most of the teachers and students were found crowded together in the bathroom. A six-year-old girl, the sole survivor, was found by police in the classroom following the shooting.The surviving girl was hidden in one of the corners of the classroom’s bathroom during the shooting. The girl’s family pastor said that she survived the mass shooting by remaining still, and playing dead. When she reached her mother, she said, “Mommy, I’m okay, but all my friends are dead.” The child described the shooter as “a very angry man.A girl hiding in a bathroom with two teachers told police that she heard a boy in the classroom screaming, “Help me! I don’t want to be here!” to which Lanza responded, “Well, you’re here,” followed by more hammering sounds.

Lanza next went to another first-grade classroom nearby; at this point, there are conflicting reports about the order of events. According to some reports, the classroom’s teacher, Victoria Leigh Soto, had concealed some of the students in a closet or bathroom, and some of the other students were hiding under desks. Soto was walking back to the classroom door to lock it when Lanza entered the classroom. Lanza walked to the back of the classroom, saw the children under the desks, and shot them. First grader Jesse Lewis shouted at his classmates to run for safety, and several of them did. Lewis was looking at Lanza when Lanza fatally shot him. Another account, given by a surviving child’s father, said that Soto had moved the children to the back of the classroom, and that they were seated on the floor when Lanza entered. According to this account, neither Lanza nor any of the occupants of the classroom spoke. Lanza stared at the people on the floor, pointed the gun at a boy seated there, but did not fire at the boy, who ultimately survived. The boy got up and ran out of the classroom and was among the survivors.

Hartford Courant report said that six of the children who escaped did so when Lanza stopped shooting, either because his weapon jammed or he erred in reloading it. Earlier reports said that, as Lanza entered her classroom, Soto told him that the children were in the auditorium. When several of the children came out of their hiding places and tried to run for safety, Lanza fatally shot them. Soto put herself between her students and the shooter, who then fatally shot her. Anne Marie Murphy, the teacher’s aide who worked with special-needs students in Soto’s classroom, was found covering six-year-old Dylan Hockley, who also died. Soto and four children were found dead in the classroom, Soto near the north wall of the room with a set of keys nearby. One child was taken to the hospital, but was pronounced dead. Six surviving children from the class and a school bus driver took refuge at a nearby home. According to the official report released by the state’s attorney, nine children ran from Soto’s classroom and survived, while two children were found by police hiding in a class bathroom.[41]:14 In all, 11 children from Soto’s class survived. Five of Soto’s students were killed.[62]

I was mad. I was devastated for those who lost their lives but even more so for the parents and family members who, just like me, dropped their beloved everythings off at school that morning and that very night sat sobbing with empty arms. It was so unfair and so horrific that I almost couldn’t allow myself to believe it.

I’ve never been one to live my life in fear but that day and every single day since I’m afraid every time my children leave my arms. Every morning I send them to school, I pray God sends them back to me. Every time I hear a siren, I hold my breath and hope it’s not a shooting at their school; that a man with a gun having a bad day doesn’t decide to take his hatred for the world out on my children. His collateral damage will be my complete undoing.

I think often, almost daily, about the parents and children of Sandy Hook. I can’t imagine what the world must look like to them. I don’t know how they’ve survived these past 5 years. I’m assuming with a lump in their throat and a fight in their bellies.

I know they will never get justice because they will never get their tiny loved ones back and each passing year is a reminder of what should have been. I imagine this time of year has lost all of its glisten and glean for those families and in its place moroseness and sorrow has settled in. I wish there was a way to bring their children back to them but I know that is impossible. But what we can do is make their deaths not have been in vain.

We must continue to fight for stricter gun control laws. No one’s right to bear arms should outweigh a parent’s right to hold their child in their arms; to watch them grow up and spend a lifetime loving them.

My husband dropped our girls off at school this morning. I kissed and hugged them all just slightly longer than I should have this morning and I began to pray the moment they walked out the door. Please let them return to me. This is my daily prayer that I say with earnest but even more so on this morning, December 14th because I know there are the parents of 20 children whose hearts are being shattered all over again this morning.

So please, whatever you are doing this morning, wherever you are in the world, whoever you may be, stop and pray for those families who lost their children and those children and brave staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary who went to school on a day just like today, five years ago and never got to come home. Pray that those parents have the strength to continue carrying on and they can someday get some peace.

But don’t just pray, do something. Fight for the safety of our children. Stand up for better mental health coverage and stricter gun control. Make good choices and remember that while you are listening to your Christmas music, doing your last minute shopping at Target and drinking your latte, there’s a mother in Newtown sobbing uncontrollably; there’s a father whose loss has turned to bitterness and he doesn’t know how to fix it; there are a brother and sister who will never get to hear the laugh of their little brother again. There are gifts that never got opened and holiday celebrations that had to be repurposed into funerals.

I’m begging you, if you are weary from all of these mass shootings, tired of innocent children being nothing more than collateral damage to a system that continues to value an outdated right to bear arms over its children and tired of being constantly afraid that your children won’t come home because guns are too readily and easily accessible stand up and fight like your life depends on it ( because it might) for stricter gun control and legislation to regulate the purchase of parts to assemble semi-automatic weapons because even though we do have weak gun control laws in place for purchasing guns, there are none for buying the parts and assembling your own at home. Think about that for a moment and do something.

Whatever you do today, never forget the 26 innocent children and adults who went to school on a day like today and never got to come home because a sick man had easy access to guns and rained down devastation on the world. Hug your children tight.

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Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Last night the Big Guy surprised the girls with tickets to see Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, now playing in theaters. This should be no surprise to anybody who knows us because everyone knows that we are huge Disney fans but more importantly, this is one of our favorite Disney films.

I went to see Beauty and the Beast with big expectations.

I wasn’t sure that the movie could live up to the way I felt about the animated movie. I mean, I’ve loved that movie for 26 years. I won’t lie, Beauty and the Beast has a very special place in my heart. In a lot of ways, the Big Guy and I are very different but when we met, we both agreed that we loved Beauty and the Beast. It was one of the first things we had in common.

The Big Guy is an artist and he loved the original Beauty and Beast because it was animation at its finest. It was traditional Disney. He’s old school like that. I loved the original movie because it was an epic love story between a bookish, headstrong brunette with a wanderlust in her heart ( ahem) and a Beast who became beautiful on the inside as his true nature was revealed. I loved the story and the characters. I couldn’t wait to see how that parlayed into live action.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

I knew the cast was stellar and so was the directing. Bill Condon outdid anything I could have expected. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s father; Josh Gad as LeFou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the candelabra; Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe, the wardrobe; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; Hattie Morahan as the enchantress; and Nathan Mack as Chip, the teacup; with Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts. With this cast, how could you go wrong?

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” a stunning, cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told.

“Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart of the true Prince within.

My family loves musicals and Beauty and the Beast did not let us down.

I’m listening to the soundtrack as I type this post. In fact, we’ve been listening to it since watching the movie last night. The original score by Alan Menken was stunning and new songs added a level of depth to the live-action movie that wasn’t there in the original. My favorite songs are Days in the Sun, Gaston, Be Our Guest, Something There and Evermore. If you weren’t in love with the Beast by this point in the movie, his very Les Miserable like solo Evermore would make you fall head over heels with this character.

 I absolutely loved the live-action Beauty and the Beast. Dare I say, even more so than the original. The story was just as beautiful but the cinematography was out of this world and there was something about the film that not only told you what was happening but was so masterfully written, acted and directed that it immersed you in the film. I felt the film.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Scene by scene, you fall in love with the Beast along with Belle.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

We get to know his soul and it is beautiful. Near the end, when the enchanted household items begin to turn into just household items, I felt the souls leave the pieces. I know it sounds crazy but it was that good. You felt it, you didn’t need to be led by the nose to the outcome.

 

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Emma Watson was the perfect Belle, for me. She is girl-next-door, smart and strong and she plays the part without being ostentatious. I feel like Watson’s Belle was right on the mark. Her understated reaction to everything balanced out Dan Stevens powerful presence as the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellan as Lumiere and Cogsworth were marvelous. The Be Our Guest performance was nothing short of magical. I would have to say that it was so spectacular that it outdid the original in the wow department. I really didn’t think that was possible. Ewan McGregor’s delivery of Be Our Guest was reminiscent of Cabaret’s Vilkommen. Also, Disney fan alert, be on the lookout for the easter egg during the song.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Emma Thompson’s Mrs. Potts was spot on. She was just as wonderful as Angela Landsbury in the original but softer around the edges.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Luke Evans was the perfect Gaston. He was definitely more despicable than I remember. I guess there must be more redemption for animated characters because in that version I found his bumbling endearing. In the live-action film, I hated the character. Luke Evans played the part perfectly.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Josh Gad as LeFou was one of the highlights of the movie. I’ve loved Josh Gad since Book of Mormon (I told you we love our musicals) but Gad made LeFou endearing. In the animated movie, LeFou was annoying and a pest. In the live-action version, he was the voice of reason. He served as Gaston’s ignored moral compass. In the end, he did the right thing. His rendition of Gaston was one of the highlights of the film. Gad played LeFou with flawless delivery.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Here are our reviews of Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast.

I love it! I would see it 100 more times and I just might because it was that magical to me and who can’t use a little more Disney magic in their life? The story was even more endearing to me than I remembered it being ( and I just watched the original over the past weekend to prep for the movie.)

The Big Guy, who I told you is an artist, an animation traditionalist and this is his favorite Disney animated film, said that he loved the live-action film but still prefers the animated one. He said he didn’t like some of the creative license that, he felt, deviated from the original. I thought it filled in the gaps nicely. Then again, I am all about the story because I am a writer and he is more about the animation.

Bella, my just turned 12-year-old, is with me. She said she LOVED the movie and she can’t wait to see it again. Her favorite part was the Be Our Guest sequence and she loves Emma Watson as Belle. She loves the pageantry of Beauty and the Beast and she said that she loved absolutely everything about it.

Gabs, my sweet 9-year-old, said she loved the movie but she isn’t ready to say whether or not she loves it more than the original. She’s my analyzer, she likes to weigh her options. However, she’s promised me a video interview that I will add later today.

Overall, our family emphatically agrees that Disney’s Beauty and the Beast live-action film is a must see.

It’s the perfect movie for all ages. The only warning I have is if you are taking really small children, there are a couple times that the Beast roars really loudly and it may startle toddlers/preschoolers but other than that, be prepared to be wowed by the magic. And you might as well get the soundtrack now because you will be wanting to play it non-stop afterward.

If you’ve seen both Beauty and the Beast versions which is your favorite and why?

 

 

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Inside Out, Halloween, trick-or-treating

Our entire lives have been upside down and inside out since I broke my leg but we are learning to deal with it. Honestly, this broken leg has not just changed my life it’s upset the entire ecosystem of my family. It’s been a crazy couple of months so this Halloween, we fittingly went as characters from Inside Out.

joy

I haven’t been out a lot lately so I was really excited to take the girls Trick or Treating. The Big Guy was Anger, which made us all laugh since Anger is small and my husband is 6’5”. My oldest was Joy and my youngest was Disgust. The obvious choice for me was Sadness, to round out the crew, but I figured there’s been enough sadness so I chose to go another route. I decided to be Bing Bong.

Inside Out, Halloween, trick-or-treating

Why Bing Bong from Inside Out, you ask?

Well, I felt like I needed a little whimsy in my life. Though I must say, it’s a challenge trying to bring a child’s imaginary friend to life on Halloween or any other day of the week. I spent the night being confused for Katy Perry and Niki Minaj as the Big Guy wheeled me around the neighborhood.

Inside Out, Halloween, trick-or-treating

It was exhausting to be out and around in the chilly, autumn night air but at the same time it was invigorating. I felt like a human again. Hearing my girls giggle as they ran door-to-door trick or treating made my heart happy.

It’s funny how sometimes the simple things like being outside of your own four walls, participating in life can make all the difference. For one night, I felt like I got to escape my injury and do the things I’ve always done with my family. I felt normal and it was amazing, even if it was while I was dressed as an imaginary friend.

Inside Out, Halloween, trick-or-treating

In the end, maybe I looked like Katy Perry in a wheelchair with a broken leg and a crazy pair of Olivia Newton John sparkly hot pants and not Bing Bong. Maybe no one quite got what I was supposed to be but I needed it.

 

We all needed a little Inside Out to get right side up.

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I spend my days, feeling like I am wishing them away. Don’t get me wrong. I adore my girls but when the girls are screaming, the dog’s barking, the food’s burning and the doorbell ringing…I’m wishing it was bedtime, or tomorrow, or next week. I’m wishing they were older and things were easier.

In my defense,that was a lot easier before I realized how fleeting the tiny years truly are. I want to stop wishing away the moments and enjoying every single second. I want to find joy in the rain puddles, laughter in a broken lamp, patience in the face of tantrums.I want my time with my girls and my husband to be about adventures and memories not aggravation and frustration.

This week is spring break and we have decided that we are going to spend it having fun together. We are going to enjoy the  time together and whatever “adventure” that life has to offer. We are getting in the car and driving south in search of sun. Only God knows how this might turn out or where we might end up.But we’re excited. I ‘m tired of wishing away my childrens childhood or wanting for something different, I am embracing the journey here and the now with the the three best traveling companions I could ever want for. It’s time that I remember that with children the days are long, but the years are short.

How do you make the short years count with your children?

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Every year since Bella has had a birthday party, it’s always been a really big deal. I believe it has something to do with the fact that when I was little I seldom remember having a party.So,when it comes to my girls, we love to celebrate the party in a big way. I mean, who doesn’t love a party? I am fully aware that the Bellapalooza of 2009, when she turned 4, was a bit excessive. I do recall something like 4 parties being had in a one week span of time. There was the family party on her actual birthday, the Fancy Nancy tea and spa experience with her fellow ballerinas, then there was the birthday play date celebration and last but not least the extended family and traveling friends party. It really was Bellapalooza but it was so much fun & Bella has since referred to her birthday week as Bellapalooza.

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The cakes made by the Big Guy!

This year, Bella was adamant that she wanted a Alice in Wonderland birthday party.This girl always wants a theme that is “not available” in stores. Of course you can’t find party favors for Alice in Wonderland, so we  improvise..as always. But this year, I was determined to keep the party to 1! After 6 years of birthday parties, I’ve come to the realization that the party is about the birthday girl having fun..the rest is not important. So, after much searching and creativity, we found just the right decorations. It was a small party with all the immediate family and  a few friends and classmates.

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Obviously, Bella dressed as Alice.She dresses in costume for every theme party.

The Wonderland aspect of this party was really the friendship and family. Bella was over the moon that her friends from school and her play date friends were all there to celebrate with her. She was also over the moon because her Grandpa Manny, my Dad, who normally comes and serenades her on her birthday ( this is a long standing tradition in our home. He has serenaded me and my sisters every birthday with Las mananitas (traditional Mexican birthday song) since we were born. Bella was absolutely devastated that he would be out of the country for this birthday party) called from Mexico to play the guitar and serenade her.All was right with the world!

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Bella (Alice) & her best friend.By sheer coincidence, he came as the Mad Hatter (her favorite character).*Awwww,swoon*

Party was a huge success and birthday girl was over the moon! The.End!

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Wonderland punch!

 

 

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Today is the last day that my Bella will be five. It is the last time I will put her to bed and kiss her on her sweet five year old head. The last time she will look at me with her big blue eyes and ask me, “When will I be six,Mommy?” I know that babies are born to grow up. But must they do it so quickly?

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The Day before she was born in 2005, it was 70 degrees in Tennessee. Today, it was snowing in the Midwest.

 

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The waiting was maddening.I had no idea what was in for. This caption should read:Last missed opportunity for restful sleep!

Six years ago tonight, I was so anxious and excited, I could hardly sleep. A new life was on my horizon and but I  had no idea that I was about to welcome into my life the most important human that I would ever have the honor of sharing space and time with, sharing air with, sharing evolution with. I had NO idea what my baby would bring to my life. A love so deep that I can barely grasp it on most days. A fulfillment that I had searched for for the previous 32 years of my life, a void was no longer.

I had NO idea what to expect.This was the moment I was born for. This was the moment that I had waited my eternity for. But that night 6 years ago, all I could think was..did I deserve this?Was I good enough?Could I do this?Was I ready for this?What if I fucked it all up beyond recognition? What if what I wanted and what I deserved didn’t align? What if I was wrong? What if I didn’t know what the hell I was getting myself into? And I didn’t. I had no idea.

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The MOST IMPORTANT Moment of my life!

 

I remember lying in bed, on my back, listening to the stillness;staring into the darkness. Sleep was no where to be found. Only a million different thoughts, not the least of which was…I wonder what labor will feel like. This was the night before my very first baby was to be born into the world.I liked my life. I had the good fortune of marrying the best man I had ever laid my soul open for. We were happy. We had been married for 5 years and life was an open ended opportunity for us. As I laid there, trying to see our future in the darkness, I realized that no matter what happened the next day…our lives were going to be changed forever. The couple we were, would no longer be..we would be three. We would be a family.

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I'm exhausted.She is perfection wrapped in a blanket.

 

Tonight, as I put Bella to bed, I see the excitement in her eyes. The unknown. She knows that she will be six tomorrow at 4:51 PM. She has no idea what that means for her or to us. I’m pretty sure she will spend tonight the way that I spent the night before her birth day six years ago, lying in the darkness contemplating the future. Maybe not to the breadth and depth that I did, but she knows tomorrow is special. Tomorrow, she will have surpassed being that newborn that I held in my arms for the first time that moment that she made me a mother. That first baby of mine who came into the world and in that instant altered the path of mine for all time. She is no longer my precocious crawling baby or curious toddler. She has passed the  stage of being my preschooler. Tomorrow, she graduates from being my kindergartner to being my little girl. She becomes a little more like me in her thoughts and actions every day and in each of those moments she becomes more independent. Moving further away from my protective grasp and a little further into the world. And all I can do it’s let it happen.Because the most important part of parenting is knowing when to loosen the grip and allowing those perfect life changers of ours, to become the people they are meant to be in the world. This is how we repay the favor of them allowing us the gift of loving them.

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I was the most tired I'd ever been and I was also the MOST happy!

 

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

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This is what my heaven looks like!

 

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I used to take great pride in the fact that I could speak four languages. *Yes,I’ll pause a minute while you gasp in awe* I have loved languages since I was a small child. I grew up in a household that spoke two and as I grew, I had a voracious appetite not only for the written language but for the spoken one as well. As soon as I could take a language, I did. I took Spanish, which was the other language spoken in my home.This was, obviously, very easy for me to pick up.After a few years of Spanish, I added French to the mix. The grades were so good in Spanish that a teacher volunteered to tutor me French.I was allowed to split the period. By the time I graduated from High School, I was fluent in English, Spanish and French. This all fit very nicely into my master plan. You know, the one where I was going to move to New York, work for a big firm as an International lawyer and travel the world. Once I began university, again I added another language..Italian. I had to.How was I supposed to understand the sweet nothings my hot Italian husband ( that I would surely pick up on one of my summers in Italy) was whispering into my ear as we lingered in bed under the Tuscan sun. I loved my languages. But then life happened, as it tends to do. Here I am, many years later, A Work at Home Mommy and my passport has not been used since high school.The languages I learned may as well be Sanskrit, no more than I use them.Sure, I can watch most foreign films without the subtitles but without practice ( other than Dora cartoon explanations) I’d say “fluent” would be pushing the term a bit.I just don’t think I have the Mommy brain space available to speak more than 4 languages, and so I think I have maxed out my quota.

But, there is a bright side. After all, I am Ms. Glass half full (Most days). I have acquired two new languages in the last 5 years that I believe, in my circles, is much more valuable than Spanish, French, Italian or even English. I am absolutely fluent in baby and gibberish. You heard me right. NOW, you are envious right? Yes, both my girls tried to talk way early and both were very frustrated when I couldn’t understand them so I decided I had to learn.Good thing because BOTH still talk baby talk.Don’t get me wrong, they have an extensive and impressive vocabulary but they still have that baby speech.You know “Sure” is “Shua”, Gabs has issues with “S” consonant blends so “Spoon” is “poon”, etc. I paid attention to everything they said, what they were doing, what they were looking at, where we were at and then the context clues ( NEVER thought I’d need that skill in real life) provided me with what exactly in the hell they were saying. Now.I have a very working knowledge of Bella and Gabisms.Thank God. I think all those years of listening to my father intermingle his Spanish and English and trying to decipher what he was saying have played a huge part in this capability…super power if you will. (No, I don’t think calling the ability to understand baby talk and gibberish a super power is an overstatement.I think I am spot on with this one.) See this is a usable skill. I should offer a class to all Mommies. This could be my ticket to fame and fortune.  Who’s in? Classes registering now. Forget about “my baby can read”. Who cares if your baby can read.The question is can you understand the words that are coming out of his/her mouth?

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