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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.

Mom matriculation, the hardest part of motherhood, college drop off

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Mom matriculation. Have you heard of this? No? Yeah, I just made it up. Its definitely the hardest part of motherhood. It’s the culmination of the letting go that begins with senior year and just when you think its at its hardest, graduation, you unlock a new, unfathomable level of mom heartbreak… college drop off day. Bella is ready to launch but I’m not ready to let go. I don’t know if I ever told you guys the story of how I was supposed to go to Boston University, but,  about 2 weeks before I was supposed to leave, 4  little words from my dad stopped me dead in my tracks, “See you next summer.” What??? Immediate failure to launch..

I had never even spent 1 single night away from my parents because in Mexican culture we just don’t do that. Due to our strong multi-generational family ties, family is not only a big part of who we are,  it’s everything.  My dad’s words had great emotional power over me, in fact, more power than anyone else’s. Not in an intentional manipulative way, its just that his words have always landed like concrete on my heart. His opinion always mattered, and still matters, the most to me.  I’ve always held a tiny grudge about this. But that was all before I was the parent having to let go of my own, precious child. Now, I definitely get it, but,  I refuse to do that to my girls. Even if it kills me, in the process. 

I thought it was all overkill, until I got my first pangs of impending mom matriculation.

Due to this particular incident, and knowing how it completely altered my timeline and changed the trajectory of my life, I swore I’d never say or do anything to hinder my own children’s flight pattern. But again, that was before I knew what I know; that was before I was the parent in the scenario sending my own precious child off into the world, alone,  without me. 

Fast forward to 10 years ago,  when my oldest nephew was heading off to college, a “mere” 65 minutes away from home. Back before I realized that whether it’s 25 minutes or 65 minutes or 12 hours away,  living away from your child is actually the same distance in mom miles because out of your house means out of your house. Your child is no longer bounding through the house, randomly hugging you and asking for a Starby’s run while blasting Swiftie or Megan thee Stallion, while you all sing to your heart’s content.

I vividly remember my nephew going away to college, instantly regretting his decision and my brother and sister-in-law immediately agreeing to pick him up  and bring him back home, regardless of forfeiting his athletic scholarship.  Absolutely without hesitation, they agreed. In my naivate, I was actually disappointed in their decision ( as if it were any of my business) and really couldn’t understand why they hadn’t encouraged him to stay a little while longer. 

None of the baby books warn you about the pain of college drop off. No one warned me that launching my child into adulthood would feel like part of my own body was being ripped away.

When I started Purdue University,  a ” mere” 3 hours from home, I remember in those first few weeks sitting alone in my dorm room feeling that it was the winter of my discontent. Wishing someone, anyone,  would come to my rescue and demand I return home. But that never happened and, in the end, everything worked out. I learned how to navigate life without my parents, eventually became adult-ish and had a terribly good time doing it. After the situation with my nephew, it reaffirmed my belief that I would “never” do what my brother and his wife did. Big words from a mom of elementary schoolers. That was before I was the mom of a college freshman about to matriculate herself out of my orbit. 

If you thought labor and delivery was the hardest part of motherhood, hold on to your Lulus because the mental anguish of letting go makes child birth feel like a cake walk and that’s coming from a woman who did it unmedicated.

Bella decided last spring to defer acceptance to her first choice college and attend a private liberal arts college nearer to home her first year. She realized after several college visits that she prefers the intimate vibe of a smaller campus over a huge bustling one. She decided that she wanted 1 more year at home. I greedily accepted her decision. The school happens to be 25 minutes from my front door. Then, she decided to live at home this year, instead of on campus. Again, I greedily and whole-heartedly accepted her decision. Next year, she has every intention on transferring to her first choice. In fact, it’s already being carefully planned and coordinated with that prestigious university. They are happily awaiting her transfer and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, 356 days from today she’s fully spreading her wings and flying away. 

Those of you who have already survived mom matriculation, the hardest part of motherhood thus far, and are letting go when every single cell in your body wants to hold on for dear life… you are so strong.

I know many of you have dropped your babies off at college in the past couple of days and weeks and have driven away sobbing as you bravely left your hearts on campus. I’ve been watching your posts and feeling those pangs of motherly heartbreak right along with you, mostly for you. But now, something strange has started to happen, I’m getting very overwhelmed and feeling very anxious in anticipation of my impending turn to let go. Fuck, I really don’t want to. ( I’m only saying this here because I can never utter the words “Don’t go” that my heart is screaming inside my head.) Just as I’m sure,  none of you wanted to. I wanted to be cool about all of this but I’m realizing that I’m probably going to be the uncoolest about  it. 

This Friday is move in day for students living on campus at Bella’s school and also, the matriculation ceremony and banquet for freshman, kicking off a weekend long “welcome to campus” extravaganza. While Bella is not moving on campus, as if graduation itself was not the signal of the end… the matriculation ceremony is here to put a fine point on the fact that your child is no longer yours but almost, completely autonomously their own. 

So while she’s still technically here, she’s really there. I know that just like on the day she was born and everything changed, on Friday everything changes again and in 356 days… everything changes forever. No matter how tight my mama heart wants to hold on to the most precious thing in my world, I know I have to let go. And at a time when all I want to do is hold her closer and cling to her more tightly (maybe more than ever), I have to gently push her away with a smile and encouragement, while convincing her that I’m fine and it’s all going to be amazing, because for her, it will be and that’s all that matters right now. 

College drop off feels sort of like we’re heading into this weird parent-child purgatory where we’re both growing, letting go and being let go of, it’s by far the hardest part of motherhood.

Then, I’ll have to hug her, a hug that I know will need to sustain me for weeks or months (this child of mine, who I’ve hugged and kissed several times a day since her existence, who I’ve shared everything with) and I have to release her as mine as she runs towards who she’s meant to be. And I have to do it with grace and unconditional love because this is about her, not me. This is the beginning of her beautiful journey. Then, I’ll have to drive away leaving my child behind, seeing her walking towards her future in the rear view mirror as I become more of her past than her future. If this isn’t the hardest part of motherhood, I don’t know what is and I don’t want to know.

Mom matriculation, the hardest part of motherhood, college drop off

This starts Friday. I can already feel it. I’ve felt the pangs and waves of letting go all summer. I don’t know how I’ll survive my mom matriculation, especially, since I have to do college drop off this Friday, then again next August and then again the following year for my youngest. I know I will survive. Because now I know, living 25 minutes or 12 hours away from your child is actually the same distance in mom miles because in your heart is in your heart and no amount of time or distance can separate the bond between a child and their parent. 

No matter how near or far she flies away, I’ll always just be a phone call, text, car or plane ride away and this is how we survive college drop offs and new beginnings, her and us…mostly us. This is why I smile for her while my heart completely breaks for me. This is how we survive the hardest part of motherhood… the letting go. 

I’m seriously thinking of starting a mom support group for middle-aged, perimenopausal moms who’ve had to send their children off to college and are trying to survive the letting go. If you want in this mom matriculation posse, let me know. We’ll get through this college drop off, suffer being left behind next chapter of our lives together. Freedom is not what its all cracked up to be. Why didn’t the baby books warn us about this bullshit?

If you can relate or just love following along, as I head off into the motherhood unknown, please like, share and follow. 

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Top 15 Places to Visit in Boston, travel with teenagers, Things to Do with Teenagers in Boston

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

We’ve been visiting Boston with our girls every summer since they were littles. Nevertheless, there is just something so fun and conducive to making lifelong memories as a family about New England. Over the years, it has become our home away from home. If you’re planning travel with teenagers to Boston, there are plenty of exciting places to visit and activities to enjoy.

Top 15 Places to Visit in Boston, travel with teenagers, Things to Do with Teenagers in Boston

For a wicked good time, here are the top 15 places to visit including must-do, must-see and must-eat ( actually coming in the next post too many to mention here) places to check out with your teenagers while in Boston:

1. Fenway Park: If you’re in Boston during baseball season, catch a Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park, one of the oldest and most iconic ballparks in the United States. The energetic atmosphere and passionate fans make it an unforgettable experience. It’s like a rock concert but with more peanuts and hot dogs and, finally, they’ll know why everyone gets so hyped and starts singing when “Sweet Caroline” starts playing.

 

Faneuil hall, freedom trail, historical Boston, Boston, family travel, fun, New England, family travel, things to do in Boston, Massachusetts

2. Freedom Trail: I know it might sound boring but I promise it’s cool. I’ve taken my girls multiple times and we still discover new and cool stuff. Take a walk along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile trail that passes by 16 historically significant sites. It’s a great way for teenagers to learn about Boston’s rich history and the American Revolution with a side of cool old graveyards,

 

3. Museum of Science: Explore the Museum of Science, which offers interactive exhibits on various scientific subjects. From the planetarium and IMAX theater to the hands-on exhibits, there’s something to engage teenagers of all interests. Seriously, who can resist getting all hands on with interactive exhibits. Feels like Bill Nye the Science guy and Netflix had a baby.

 

4. New England Aquarium: Visit the New England Aquarium and discover marine life from around the world. Teenagers can enjoy watching penguins, sea turtles, and other fascinating creatures, as well as experience the Giant Ocean Tank. If. you really want to make it an experience to remember, I would highly recommend taking a whale watching tour.whale, Boston harbor cruises, whale watching, New England, family travel, things to do in Boston, Massachusetts

5. Boston Common and Public Garden: Spend time at Boston Common, the oldest public park in the United States, and the adjacent Public Garden. Take a swan boat ride, have a picnic, or simply relax in the green spaces and make sure to see the “Embrace” bronze sculpture memorial to MLK. It is stunning and a fun photo op for the gram.

Top 15 Places to Visit in Boston, travel with teenagers, Things to Do with Teenagers in Boston

6. Boston Harbor Islands: Take a ferry to the Boston Harbor Islands, a group of picturesque islands offering hiking trails, beaches, and opportunities for kayaking or paddleboarding. Spectacle Island and Georges Island are particularly popular choices.

 

7. Skywalk Observatory: Head to the Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center for breathtaking views of Boston’s skyline. It provides a 360-degree panoramic view of the city, allowing teenagers to appreciate the city’s beauty from above. These views are unbeatable and definitely social media worthy. Your teens will love it.

 

8. Museum of Fine Arts: Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Museum of Fine Arts, which houses an extensive collection of artwork from different cultures and time periods. It’s a great opportunity for teenagers to explore diverse artistic expressions.

 

9. Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum: Experience a unique historical reenactment at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. Teenagers can participate in the interactive exhibits, throw tea overboard ( and you know how much their angsty asses love to rebel), and learn about the events leading to the American Revolution.

 

10. Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall: Visit Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall, bustling marketplaces in the heart of Boston. Teenagers can enjoy shopping, sampling various cuisines, and watching street performers in this vibrant area. Hungry? Obviously, because teenagers always are, food is sport at Quincy Hall. There’s lobster rolls, pastries and all the clam chowder your teen foodies could ever imagine or hope for.

 

11. Duck tour: Undeniably, they are a bit silly but they are a great way to explore Boston. Jump on this amphibious vehicle and check out everything bean town has to offer, including the river. Oh yes, this Boston safari will put your teens in just enough imagined danger to keep things exciting. No, they are not actually in danger but that’s not the way they’ll tell it to their friends back home.

 

12. Charles River Esplanade: There’s nothing like a cool summer or fall stroll on the esplanade. Hang by the river while playing frisbee, people-watching while taking in breathtaking views of the Boston skyline. It is instagram and TikTok heaven.

 

Top 15 Places to Visit in Boston, travel with teenagers, Things to Do with Teenagers in Boston

13. Shopping: Newbury Street, downtown crossing, Prudential center and Copley place, oh my! Boston is one of our favorite places to shop. They have something for everyone and if you have girl, like I do, shopping (and eating) are two things we can definitely agree on from Saks to Gucci to Free People and Primark, this is some of the best shopping you and your teenagers will do. May I suggest, if you are not extremely wealthy, hit up Primark first. Great fast-fashion from a European brand but with Target prices. It’s the first place my girls want to hit as soon as we arrive. You’ll thank me later.

Best Things to Do in Boston with Teens and Tweens, things to do in Boston, Boston Commons, Georgetown Cupcakes, Signature swings

14. The Swing Park at the Signature: This is such a fun thing to do for people of every age (honestly you could take your little kids or even your grandparents) but your teens will love this at night. We spent hours there, from sunset until it was dark out swinging on those glowing swings. The Lawn on D at the Signature also offers pickleball, lawn games and adult beverages.

 

15. Visit Harvard and Cambridge: Harvard is just a short drive away from downtown Boston and your teens will have a blast visiting the campus and soaking in all the ivy league vibes. The campus is gorgeous and why not plant that seed? Plus, Cambridge is full of fun little restaurants and shops to explore. My girls loved it.

Top 15 Places to Visit in Boston, travel with teenagers, Things to Do with Teenagers in Boston

This is just a get started list of places to visit and things to do with teenagers in Boston.

If you’re looking for a great place to stay with teenagers that’s right in the middle of all the Boston energy and excitement, we’ve been staying at The Hyatt Regency Boston for over a decade. If you’ve followed along over the years on my instagram, you’ve seen the breathtaking views and know, that its in the heart of the downtown crossing area.

Just a stones throw away from Chinatown and easily walkable to almost anywhere your heart could want to go in Boston. However,  most importantly, the customer service and attention to their guests is what keeps us coming back every single year. We’ve tried other hotels but nothing compares to how we are treated at the Hyatt Regency Boston. Bonus: There is nothing quite like a comfortable bed to take a midday vacation nap on and the Hyatt always delivers. Thank you Hyatt for always be such gracious hosts.

Top 15 Places to Visit in Boston, travel with teenagers, Things to Do with Teenagers in Boston

While these attractions offer a mix of history, culture, outdoor adventures, and entertainment that will keep teenagers engaged and entertained during their visit to Boston. Time to unleash your teenagers on Boston and let them explore and soak in all the culture, history, shopping and delicious food that Boston has to offer.

 

What is your top place to visit or thing to do with your teenagers in Boston?

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Things to Keep in Mind When Sending your Kid Away to College, college freshman

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Bella starts college in a couple weeks. Thankfully, she is attending college locally for her first year. I may not have to leave her on campus right now but I know it’s coming. And who are we kidding? Everything changes the moment they graduate. As a mom, you can feel it in your bones. The letting go happens at lightening speed. I barely recognize her from who she was in May. It is the beginning of the end of their time as “your little one” and the beginning of them becoming their own. All of my friends are sending their kids away to college over the next few weeks. Last night, I dreamt of going away to college. It’s been many years since I first went away to college. I’d forgotten how hard it was. There are some things we need to keep in mind when sending our kids off to college.

These days, I mostly remember how amazing it was, much like how these days the pain of labor feels like a very distant memory. The only thing remaining is the insanely immense love for my daughters. But last nights dream was a refresher in going away to college 101 and I wanted to remind some of you, especially those of you whose children will be going away to college later this summer.

Things to Keep in Mind When Sending your Kid Away to College

It’s lonely

Lonelier than I ever thought it could be. Those first few weeks, I wanted to come home 1000 times. I felt so isolated and out of my element. At home, I lived in a small house with a big family and suddenly I was alone in a 12×12 room in a city where I knew no one and had no car (freshman usually aren’t allowed). Cell phones were in existence but what college kid could afford one or the astronomical fees to use one? I’d left behind my life, my family, my friends, my boyfriend and everything I’d ever known. I went from a situation where everyone knew and loved me to no one knowing me and know one caring what I’d done up to that point.

It’s a new beginning

That sounds great, especially if you didn’t necessarily love the reputation you had up until that point. You are free and you can be whomever you want to be. In fact, this is what college is all about…growing up and becoming who you are meant to or want to be. You could start all over from scratch. One little problem, I loved who I was or at least who I appeared to be from the outside. I had worked really hard building my reputation, my circle of friends and how people saw me. At university, I was back to square one and I was all alone. I was finally the boss of me and I wasn’t sure it was all that it was cracked up to be.

It’s time to start adulting

For the first time in my life, I had to make my own decisions and I wasn’t equipped for the choices. Up until then, my parents had kept a very tight leash on my life. They made it very clear that they were the adults and I was the child and they made the rules. How the hell was I supposed to know how to make my own rules? How was I supposed to know what or where my boundaries were? Suddenly, I was faced with questions and situations I’d never been asked before and I had no idea what to do so I floundered ( a lot), made mistakes and got into some sticky situations. I’d like to say luckily I came out unscathed but that would be a lie. I learned the hard way. Adulting for me was like being thrown into the ocean without ever being taught to swim.

It’s wonderful and scary

A lot of the time, I felt like a kid pretending to be an adult and hoping not to get caught. On somedays, I still do. It was empowering to find out who I was apart from my parents. I discovered things I didn’t know about myself before and realized my parents truths were not necessarily mine because we came from different upbringings. But I also realized how scary it is to be the one in charge and making all the decisions for myself. It was terrifying realizing that there was no one to come running to pick up all the pieces when I blew up my life, just me.

It’s exciting

As scary as it was being left in a new place all alone, it was exhilarating. I really thought I might puke and cry when my mom drove away on drop off day. My roommate had made other housing plans and for the first time in my entire life, I was alone in the silence with my thoughts. I remember my first grocery run, walking around the tiny campus grocery choosing late night snacks and drinks that I wanted. It felt empowering because it was the first time I’d ever been able to make the decision solely based on myself. Making new friends, joining clubs, going to classes, learning my way around and just existing was exciting and new. I realize now that’s what college is all about, not just learning but growing into an adult.

It’s super hard and super scary until it’s not. That’s just how life works. There are definitely ways not to make the process so isolating and lonely but at the end of the day, your child has to go through this alone, without you. More if that freaking letting go that I hate so much. All of this to say, your child has no idea what’s in store or the myriad of emotions that they’ll feel once you pull away so try to keep that in mind when they’re trying to push you away.

The truth that no one realizes and you may have forgotten is that they’re even more afraid of being let get of than you are of letting go. Hug them a little tighter over the next few weeks, be a little more compassionate and make sure they know that you will always be their soft place to land. They don’t know, what they don’t know. What they do know, what they feel in their bones, is that life is about to change in huge ways for them and beneath the excitement and bravado, they are, as we’ve always known, still just our little kids underneath, on the brink of becoming who they are meant to be. Be there to help them up and dust them off when they fall but, you have to also let them stumble so they learn the right path for themselves.

What is the one thing you’d like to remind other parents to remember when sending their kids away to college for the first time?

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Lola, Nobody tells you what to do when your dog dies

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

May has been hell, to say the least and there’s still a few days left. It started on May 1st and only 5 days later, it went from bad to worse. Our dog died. Yep, it sucked even more than you can probably imagine. I’ve lost pets before but out Lola, she hit different because she was the first dog the four of us got together. Not to mention she came into our lives at a crucial time.

My parents never warned me that the price of getting to really and completely love someone or something is unfathomable heartbreak you have to endure when they are no longer here. That’s a shitty lesson that I’ve had to learn all on my own over the years.

I’ve lost people and I’ve lost pets but what we’re going through right now feels heavier and more devastating than almost anything I’ve ever experienced previous. This one, it hit different. On Saturday, May 6th, we lost our beloved Lola. It was more than just losing a pet, she was a decade of our lives. She was my children’s childhood. She was glue and we absolutely adored everything about her and every second we got to spend with her.

Lola, Nobody tells you what to do when your dog dies

Like a furry little angel, Lola came to us when we needed her most. 2012 was a really hard year for our family. It was marked by transition and loss. We relocated and left behind all of our friends in South Bend and that spring we lost our third baby and a couple months later, our beloved Saffaron (Brindle boxer, our first fur baby) who we adopted right after we were married. As a family, we were devastated and feeling a huge void from two great losses. It felt as if there was no way we could weather the storm of our life.

But on December 14, 2012, we met Lola. The most beautiful, sweet, kind, caring, funny, loving and quirky Victorian Bulldog. It was love at first sight. She even came to us on a day when our hearts were filled with sadness and she made us smile through our tears. That is what our Lola did. She was redemption and hope all wrapped up in fur and a big pink bow.

Lola, Nobody tells you what to do when your dog dies

All of us loved her just as much as we would any child in our family. I know some of you are scoffing at the fact that I just compared my dog to your child but it’s the truth. I’ve had dogs and I’ve had human children and Lola was closer to human than not. All the love we had to give, to our Saff and our third baby, was poured into our Lola and she reciprocated every single bit of it. If you were sad, she would sense it and come sit by you, snuggle in and fill you up without fail. If anything, we loved her too much and now, the hole is too deep to fill. There will never be another Lola.

Lola, Nobody tells you what to do when your dog dies

In 2015, when I broke my leg, shattering bones and dislocating ankles, and could not walk for 3 months, Lola was my constant companion. She never left my side. At a time when I felt my most depressed and vulnerable, she was there for me. She was dedicated and loyal to the very end. On her last day, I returned the favor and she died in my arms.

Lola, Nobody tells you what to do when your dog dies

She’d been sick for months. Late last summer, she was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease right before her 10th birthday. She would have been 11 this upcoming September 6th. She had suddenly started gaining a lot of weight and was very thirsty. We thought maybe she was diabetic. But a series of blood tests determined that it was Cushings.

Lola, Nobody tells you what to do when your dog dies

We didn’t know much about the disease other than it was an overproduction of cortisol. We followed the doctor’s orders and gave her the medication they prescribed and hoped to prolong her quality of life for as long as we could. However, soon instead of being overweight she was severely underweight. She lost almost 20 pounds in just a few months and looked emaciated despite the fact that we were taking her in every 2-3 months for level checks and giving her medication daily for the disease.

Lola, Nobody tells you what to do when your dog dies

At some point the medication overworked and our Lola had no cortisol. She became weak and would hardly eat. Some, most, days I had to sit on the floor and hold her while I hand fed her chicken, fruit, pumpkin and water. I didn’t care, as long as she wasn’t in pain, this was the least I could do. The vet said she wasn’t but we could see and feel her declining. I won’t go into all the details because this wound is still too fresh and I may never stop sobbing if I go down that path.

Lola, Nobody tells you what to do when your dog dies

Long story short, no matter how much you expect it or reconcile yourself to the fact that someone or something you love is dying, when the time comes, it is excruciatingly painful. No amount of preparedness can ready your heart for the monumentally gaping hole that will be left by losing someone you love. Yes, even a dog.

Honestly, losing our Lola may have been more painful than some of the human losses we’ve recently suffered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to demean any loss. I am only saying that our Lola was more than a dog to our family. She was a sister, a daughter and a friend and she is irreplaceable in our hearts. I spent almost every day of the last 11 years with her at my side, at my feet and in my arms.

Lola, Nobody tells you what to do when your dog dies

On morning that she left us, she woke up and could not steady herself. When she went outside to potty, she vomited. She never vomits. Weakly, she continued to stumble around the yard like a wobbly newborn calf and I knew something wasn’t right. She headed toward me and locked her eyes on mine. Something wasn’t right. As I was holding her, she relieved herself all over me and went limp. My heart broke, I thought she’d died.

Then, she moved. I cleaned myself up as the Big Guy and the girls cleaned up Lola. In my heart, I knew, that this was our last day with our sweet Lola. I was terrified but on the other hand I was ready to help her peacefully transition. She’s been sick for almost a year and, as much as we wanted her here with us, we could not bear to watch her suffer. I promised myself that when the time came, I would sit with her in our favorite chair and hold her until the end.

We all surrounded her and loved on her. Through our sobs we held her and told her we loved her and how good she was. We could not change the inevitable but we knew we could give her a peaceful and loving goodbye, no matter how much it broke our hearts. It’s the least she deserved after being our faithful and loving companion for the past decade. I administered one of her pain pills just to make sure she was comfortable.

I sat in the big brown, leather, oversized recliner (where the two of us sat together countless times over the years) and I put her in my lap, wrapped in her favorite blanket (she was rail thin and always cold lately), she placed her tiny head on my heart and she slept there for hours. Only rousing ever so often to gently raise her head and look at me and then drift back off to sleep much like a milk drunk newborn.

Later in the day, her breathing became labored and shallow. She was no longer conscious and was no longer lifting her head. I placed my hand on her tiny heart and I could feel it racing beneath my hand like a thousand wild mustangs running across the plains. And then suddenly, it slowed down to what felt like 1 lone baby mustang and then it felt as if she disappeared right beneath my fingers.

Her heart was beating so faintly beneath my fingertips that it was almost undetectable. But still, she was very faintly breathing. We couldn’t take it anymore. I’d spent the entire day holding her so that she could pass peacefully in my arms but even when it’s what’s best for the one dying, it is almost impossible to survive for the loved ones watching them fade away. We decided to rush her to the emergency room. Not to be saved but just to make sure that she didn’t linger in between life and death.

We walked into the emergency room sobbing, holding the limp, seemingly lifeless body of our beloved and loyal Lola knowing that this was the last time we would ever see or hug her again. Knowing that this was the last time that we would ever get to rub her neck or kiss her forehead, knowing all of our days with her, were behind us now. We were there when she took her final breath, loving her until the very end. Ushering her to the other side with an abundance of gratitude and love.

We cried all day that Saturday. We’re still crying today, 3 weeks later. I feel like we might cry forever over our Lola. It was one of the worst things we’ve gone through recently. This morning I woke up and saw that my husband had emptied her food bowl (probably to prevent me from having to do it) and I started sobbing. Last night, I slept restlessly. I woke up reaching out for her. My heart can’t get used to her little head not being on the pillow next to mine. I see her in her bed, in the corners, under the chairs and couches, around every corner. I’ve cried for days over this loss. I don’t know how we’ll ever return to normal after losing the tiny angel who saved my family from more loss than our hearts could handle in 2012.

Lola we’ll love you forever. You are, were and will always be the best girl, our sweet Floki Moki.

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night before graduation, senior year, Bella, high school graduation

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

OMG, I’m having all the feels. It’s the night before graduation and suddenly, I’m freaking the fuck out. How did it all go so fast. It feels like just yesterday I was reading that damn book The Night before Kindergarten. Where did the time go?

Am I really supposed to start letting her go? Already? I can’t. No, I won’t. I refuse.

Okay, I will but I don’t want to. I love this kid more than everything else in the world. Like take everything else but let me keep these girls. Oh, shit! Is this grief? Am I bargaining?

Wait. What? Who am I? Where am I? I don’t think I can do this. It hurts too much.

Wait? Is this labor? Am I in fucking labor? I know I can’t stop it. But I want off this runaway train. Okay, just slow down. Tomorrow.is.graduation.

TOMORROW.IS.GRADUATION!!!!!

This is not a fucking drill. My baby is graduating from high school and I.AM.NOT.OKAY! I won’t even pretend to be.

I’m freaking out. It’s like the universe is trying to steal my baby and human traffic her.

NO. Stop. I fucking refuse.

Fuck you, time. You cruel, unrelenting bitch.

Not my baby. Not today, Satan.

Oh God. I have to let her go. I have no choice. She is mine but she is her own. I raised her for this very moment.

Raised her to be strong, fierce, and independent.

I raised her to be confident and believe she can do all the things.

Yes, I raised her for the graduation of life from being my child to her own person.

I raised her to leave me.

Now, I have to let her.

Oh, but I don’t want to.

Yes, I am fully aware that I sound ridiculous and like a petulant child but I give no fucks. I don’t want to let her go. 

It all started with that damn kindergarten.

night before graduation, senior year, Bella, high school graduation

It went too fast.

I wasn’t counting the years because I was fully immersed in the moments.

love letter to my teen daughter, Bella, teen birthday

From the moment you were born, you filled me with so much love that I laughed and I cried simultaneously. I’d never experienced loving anyone as much as I did you in that moment.

Mother, mother's day,Johnsons and johnsons

I’ve spent the last 18-years of my life putting out fires and kissing booboos.

I was swaying and rocking. Meanwhile, holding tiny hands and filling my lap, saying I love you to the moon and back as many times a day as I could. I wanted to make sure it stuck.

Now, it’s the night before graduation and I’m not ready.

night before graduation, senior year, Bella, high school graduation

On other days, I was too exhausted to think and just tried to survive the day.  But I was happy. For 18 years, even when I’ve been sad, exhausted or overwhelmed, my heart has been full because of you and your sister. 

love letter to my teen daughter, Bella, teen birthday

When the world made no sense, you were my why. When life was too hard, you were my reason. You are my hope for the future. Your graduation just puts a fine point on it all.

night before graduation, senior year, Bella, high school graduation

I spent years holding you as you drifted off to sleep to the sound of my voice reading Mrs. McNosh does the Wash over and over again in silly voices. I’ve probably read it a million times, however, I’d read it a million more. I was always happy to do it just to hear your sweet, tiny giggle.

love letter to my teen daughter, Bella, teen birthday

I didn’t see the years for the moments.

night before graduation, senior year, Bella, high school graduation

Years spent driving you to ballet, gymnastics, or cheer but worth it to look in the rearview mirror and see you and your sister smiling. It was worth to see the look on your face when performed or got fitted for your first pointe shoes. It was worth it to see your months of practice pay off when you danced the Nutcracker.

raising girls, to the moon and back, ballet, nutcracker

I sat for hours in pick up lines and bleachers; watching you cheer, watching you sing, watching you play the violin, watching you dance and play soccer.

night before graduation, senior year, Bella, high school graduation

I.was.watching.you.

Always in awe and always with my chest puffed out and my heart overflowing with more love and pride than one body can contain. I wish that you could see you through my eyes.

night before graduation, senior year, Bella, high school graduation

I was watching you become you and I didn’t even know it.

Yes, I cried a lot. I cried and laughed when you were born because I couldn’t believe that I created such a perfect, tiny human.

I’ve cried from exhaustion when you wouldn’t sleep on those first nights home and kept cluster feeding.

I cried from guilt (more times than I can count) the day the doctor pricked your 3-day old foot to draw blood because you were jaundiced. I blamed myself.

I’ve wept so many tears of pride because of you. You are amazing and I am in awe of everything you do. I am obsessed with you and I’m not ashamed to say it.

I can’t wait to see what you do with this big, beautiful life you have ahead of you.

I’ve cried so many tears that you will never know about for so many reasons throughout your life and every single one of those tears was because I love you so damn deeply. Deeper than I knew was even possible.

night before graduation, senior year, Bella, high school graduation

You are the best thing I ever did, watching you grow up has been my biggest privilege and letting you go is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

I know you’re not running away tomorrow.However, I know, technically, nothing will change except that you will walk across the stage in your cap and gown and get your diploma. But, I know.

night before graduation, senior year, Bella, high school graduation

Despite my outward excitement, I know what happens next.

Tomorrow is the milestone that marks the beginning of the end of who you were and the start of who you will become.

I know tomorrow’s graduation marks the next phase of your life.

night before graduation, senior year, Bella, high school graduation

Tomorrow, I will be clapping louder and cheering harder than anyone else for you, just like always. I won’t be able to contain my pride.

But I’ll also probably be laughing and crying at the same time, just like I did the moment they laid you on my chest at 4:51 P.M. on the day that you were born.  The day I became a mom.

Don’t mind me, I’m just loving you harder as I begin to let you go. I’ll be missing you before you ever leave because…

I.KNOW.WHAT.COMES.NEXT.

It will be hard for me. It’ll probably be excruciating. You know that letting go is not my forte.

But you also know that I am so fucking proud of you. So proud of who you have always been. Proud of who you are today, who you will be tomorrow, and who you are becoming. I always will be.

Even though this is the time when I have to let you go a little, I will always be right here where you left me. I’ll always be your mom, your biggest fan and your best friend.

Love you to the moon and back, forever and ever.

Congratulations, baby girl. You’re altogether more amazing than I could’ve ever imagined. Certainly, cooler than I ever was. You’ve got this and I’ve got you.

night before graduation, senior year, Bella, high school graduation

Congratulations, Izabella and all of the class of 2023.

Hugs to all the class of 2023 mamas. I know it fucking hurts especially, since we raised them for this moment. You did great mamas. We’ve got this.

Now, where’s my box of Kleenex and waterproof mascara?

How are you surviving the night before graduation?

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Thinking of reentering the job market? I am currently looking to reenter corporate America. I took my dream job last summer. Unfortunately, it was for a boss who didn’t understand the value in the position. Even though it was brief, it was spectacular (aside from the toxicity and bigotry we were subject to during the meetings). But all lunacy and offense aside, dipping my toe back in to the corporate pond has me excited about finding a forever home with a new company. I’m more excited than when I got my first writing job and that is saying a lot.

Looking for a job can be daunting, especially in today’s competitive job market. With so many available options, it can be difficult to determine which job best fits your skills, interests, and career goals. It’s been brutal. To make the process easier and more effective, it’s important to consider various factors before applying.

When looking for a job, consider the following: 

Your skills and experience

Finding opportunities that align with your skills and expertise is important when looking for a job. That itself will increase your chances of success and job satisfaction. When you have the necessary skills for a job, you are more likely to perform well and positively impact the company. This can lead to career growth and advancement opportunities. Your experience is also an essential factor to consider. Employers typically look for candidates with relevant experience in their field, so having that can make you a more competitive candidate. Your experience can demonstrate your ability to handle the job’s responsibilities, work ethic, and reliability. It can also show that you have a proven track record of success in your industry, which can be a valuable asset to a potential employer.

The industry you want to work in 

One important consideration is the industry in which you want to work. For instance, if you’re interested in the digital marketing industry, you may want to consider options that are not only a good fit technically but are a good fit company culture wise. Bonus points for being able do something you are talented at and love. When you work in an industry you are passionate about, you are more likely to enjoy your job and feel fulfilled. Moreover, it can impact your career growth and opportunities. Different industries have different career paths and opportunities for advancement. For example, some industries may have a strong culture of promoting from within, while others may offer more lateral moves or opportunities to move between companies. 

In addition, considering the industry you want to work in can help you stay up-to-date with industry trends and innovations, as is true for the industry I’ve chosen. This can be especially important in rapidly changing industries, such as technology, digital marketing or healthcare. By working in an industry that is constantly evolving, you can stay ahead of the curve and continue to develop your skills and expertise. I am continuously taking courses, attending webinars, reading up on new trends in the field, joining groups in my industry and getting certifications. Doing all of this can also help you build a network of contacts and connections in your field over time. This can be valuable for future job opportunities or collaborations and for keeping up with industry trends and developments, so keep this in mind.

Work-life balance

Work-life balance is so important in today’s world. Achieving a healthy balance between work and personal life can help you feel happier and avoid burnout. Being overwhelmed and never decompressing is not good for you or your work performance. Feeling stressed and exhausted when work takes up too much of your time and energy can lead to physical and mental health issues, such as chronic stress, anxiety, depression, and other illnesses.

On the other hand, you are more likely to feel energized, focused, and motivated when you have a healthy balance between work and personal life. This can lead to better job performance, increased productivity, and higher-quality work. Likewise, considering work-life balance when looking for a job can help you build stronger relationships with your family and friends. Having time for personal pursuits and relationships can help you feel more connected to your loved ones and strengthen your support network. It can also help you pursue personal interests, hobbies, and a sustainable routine. 

Growth opportunities 

A job that offers growth opportunities can help you develop new skills, take on new challenges, and advance your career over time. I don’t know about you but when I’m excited about something, I’m more likely to roll my sleeves up and jump in. I love a challenge so when I have the opportunity to learn new skills or take on new challenges, I get excited and throw my whole heart and soul into my work. It’s a win-win and can help you achieve your long-term career goals. By taking on new challenges and developing new skills, you can build a strong foundation for your career, stay competitive in your domain, and increase your earning potential over time. 

In doing this, you get the chance to work with new people and build relationships with colleagues and industry experts, so feel free to consider this. 

This can be valuable for future job opportunities, collaborations, and mentorship. Furthermore, growth opportunities can help you feel a sense of personal and professional fulfillment. While continually learning and growing, you are more likely to feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment in your work. This can be an important source of motivation and help you maintain a positive outlook on your career.

What is your biggest thing to consider when looking for a job?

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How to Be a Better, More Inspired Parent

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

One of the most important facts you’ll ever learn when you become an adult is that parenting is tough and you should really think about it before you embark on that journey. You think adulting is hard? Parenting is adulting X infinity with so much love and stress that you seldom can decipher where you end and your child begins. They say the army is the toughest job that you’ll ever love. I call bullsh*t. Being a parent is the hardest job but also the most rewarding and best thing that you will ever do in your life…if parenting is for you. Just keep in mind, that its not for everyone and that’s okay.

Whether your child is 3 or 13, raising children never seems to get easier, but the problems do change. For example, you know that your three-year-old may be acting up and screaming all day long, but at least they’re in your house and you know where they are. 

Your 13 year old may not act up or scream, sometimes, but they’ll be out with their friends and you can’t always monitor them so it’s a different level of worry. Empowering yourself as a parent is not the easiest thing to do, because the days can feel so repetitive sometimes. You say the same things, and you act the same way, and you manage the same problems. Sometimes it feels like you’re starring in your very own Groundhog Day parenting edition. The good news is that there are ways to empower yourself as a parent and feel more inspired. Blogs like mine and others like Everyday Power can offer parents real relatable advice from other parents who’ve been where you are. It’s not always easy to be a better parent, and parents are constantly striving to do better than they did the day before. There is a massive amount of guilt that most parents carry especially when it comes to disciplining their children or having to say no because they have to work. 

Parenting challenges never seem to end, but there are lots of things that you can do to be a better parent. Here are some of those things.

Listen

One of the most important things that you can do for your children’s to listen to them when they talk. If you listen to the little things, they will want to tell you the big things, and children shouldn’t be seen and not heard, they should be seen and heard. Being their sounding board even for the most mundane things to you, is important because those mundane things could be the most important thing in their day. When you listen to your children you can build their independence, and you are giving your time and a listening ear to hear what it is they have to say. Children are fun, insightful and curious, and even though it can be relentless to hear so much noise all day long it’s not always a good thing to say no to listening.

Don’t compare your children

It’s the hardest thing to do as well as a parent, is not to compare them. When your older child starts talking at 18 months old but your youngest is still mute by the age of five, it can be very difficult to compare them. But children are like apples and oranges, very different but just as sweet. The trick is recognizing the moments when your actions and your reactions can help your child to learn and grow, and while it’s nice to instill good manners and good habits into your children you have to remember that these are children. Their brains are not yet developed cognitively to consider the world the way adults do, and that can be a frustration at times, but it’s also a blessing. Who wants to believe in the world being a dangerous place when you can just believe in Father Christmas and the tooth fairy?

Actions speak louder than words

When it comes to parenting there is no truer phrase.  children learn from what they see, so you are actually children teaching your children something every minute of every day. It’s not always easy as a grown up to model good behavior that you want to see in children, but if you are looking to ensure that you are teaching your children good traits and good manners, then you must do it yourself. Being respectful, saying please and thank you, being open and honest, showing love to your friends and family, your children are going to see all of this and they’re going to mimic that behavior.

Be okay with mistakes

To be a better parent you need to make sure that you are OK with your children making mistakes. That means that when they forget themselves, you need to gently remind them of their manners or the way they speak to other people. When you see that your children are building towers and they knock them down, it’s OK. Don’t avoid the crash. Don’t avoid your child falling over if all they’re going to get is a grazed knee and a bruised ego. Nice to prevent accidents, but it’s not going to help them. children need to learn mistakes and make those mistakes in one piece and be free to do so because then they can learn from them. If you keep rescuing your children they are never going to learn. This kind of mistake can help your children to understand cause and effect, but it’s so much healthier to allow your children to learn from those mistakes and grow as individuals.

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Practical Ways To Keep Your Teenager Out Of Trouble

Everyone wants to make sure their child is safe, but that doesn’t always mean making sure they don’t get hurt or sick. Sometimes, you’ll need to save them from themselves. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to engaging in risky behaviors that could be harmful thanks to pushing boundaries and gaining independence. It’s just the way it is but that doesn’t mean that you have to sit back and watch it happen. Sure, there are some lessons that teenagers need to learn all on their own but there are ways to give them space and still minimize the collateral damage they might do to themselves.

You wouldn’t want them hurting themselves or getting arrested for a class 2 misdemeanor, for example. You’ll need to know how to keep your teenager out of trouble while still giving them room to figure things out themselves. It doesn’t have to be as complicated and you don’t have to revert back to your helicopter days of their toddlerhood. It’s going to include a whole lot of trusting your own parenting, putting a little trust and faith in the good humans you’ve been raising and, unfortunately, a little bit of letting go.

By following five practical strategies, you can help minimize your worry and maximize their safety.

How to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble

1. Create A Safe Environment

If your teenager has a safe environment at home, they’ll be less likely to get into trouble. You should make sure they feel as comfortable as possible at home, especially when it comes to anything they could be doing. The more comfortable they are talking to you about things, the more you’ll know about them.

They’ll be more likely to tell you the truth, no matter how embarrassing it could be. You can create this safe environment in multiple ways, such as:

  • Showing respect
  • Using natural language
  • Showing your teenager you care

The safer the environment is, the more comfortable your teenager will be to talk to you about what’s happening in their life. You can keep them out of trouble much better because of it.

2. Make Sure They’re Supervised

Supervision can be one of the more practical ways to keep your teen out of trouble. You can be there to make sure they don’t do anything they shouldn’t. While that doesn’t mean being with them constantly, there are ways you can supervise them without being overbearing. Don’t go overboard and make them feel like you don’t trust them. Just use common sense, not every teenager is going to choose to go wild and remember, your teen is innocent until proven guilty so don’t make them feel like a criminal without proof.

Letting them spend time with their friends in your living room can be a great way to do this. It gives you the ability to avoid any potential trouble while ensuring they make the decisions they should make. It’ll also give you more peace of mind while you’re at it. My house has always been where the kids hang out and I’ll host everything just so I can get to know who my kids are spending their time with, know what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with. I trust my girls and I also know that I won’t always be there so I’d prefer them to learn to make good choices on their own while I’m nearby to answer any questions or lend support than to shelter them and as soon as they leave my house they have no clue how to take care of themselves. This is all a part of growing up, just like making mistakes is a part of learning.

3. Get Professional Support

One of the most effective ways to keep your teenager out of trouble is to get professional support. You mightn’t be able to spot the signs or symptoms of whatever trouble they’re in, and you mightn’t be able to help them. That’s especially true when it comes to mental health. You should seek professional support for this if you notice:

  • Dramatic changes in personality
  • Continually talking about shame or embarrassment
  • Unexplained cuts and bruises
  • Explosive outbursts
  • A recent loss

By getting them the help they could need, you can make sure you avoid any possible trouble and its consequences.

4. Use Effective Monitoring Practices

You can’t stay with your teenager all the time to supervise them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch with them. A lot of research shows that teenagers who are being monitored by their parents are less likely to engage in bad behavior. They’re also less likely to make poor decisions.

It’s worth using some monitoring strategies to make sure you can achieve this. There are more than a few ways you can do this, including:

  • Having them call you every hour
  • Check how they’re spending money
  • Getting the numbers of their close friends

Using a few of these strategies can be one of the more effective ways to keep your teenager out of trouble.

5. Get To Know Them

The parent-child relationship changes after kids reach their teenage years. Their interests will change and they’ll continue to grow in multiple ways. They could turn into a completely new person compared to what they were like in their younger ways. You should make sure you get to know the new them.

They’ll still be figuring themselves out, and that could be a difficult process. By putting the effort into getting to know them, you help them figure themselves out. It can avoid them lashing out and can make the process much easier for them while also bringing you closer together.

How To Keep Your Teenager Out Of Trouble

If you don’t know how to keep your teenager out of trouble, you could end up worrying about them a lot. Injuries, trouble with the law, and similar concerns can all prove anxiety-inducing. You’ll naturally want to avoid that, but it doesn’t need to be as complicated as you’d think.

A few practical tips can make this much easier. Making sure they’re supervised, creating a safe environment, and getting professional support – among other options – can all help with this. There’s no reason not to do it.

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I’m a Chicago girl and there is nothing I love more than sharing my hometown with my daughters. I love taking my children to visit my family and introducing them to the city I love. It’s nice because while I’m figuring out all the best things to do in Chicago with teens and kids, I get to play tourist.

Chicago is one of my favorite cities but when you live somewhere you never play tourist because you.live.there. When you’re young, you’re like no way, I’m not wasting my time because you think you’ll always be there. Everything tourists come to Chicago to see, we saw on field trips a zillion times with school. You couldn’t pay us enough to go willingly.

READ ALSO: Chicago Ten Things to do Before You Die

But then you grow up and you realize OMG, all of these amazing museums, art galleries, Planetariums, Zoos, Aquariums and theaters were right here and I took it all for granted. You realize that there are amazing things to do, food to eat and different cultures all around and you took it all for granted. But no more.

Of course, it is winter, and your first instinct is to be indoors feeling comfy in your best wool slippers or under a warm blanket. However, sometimes this can take you away from all the fun you can have in Chicago. As long as you are protected from the frigid weather, there are many things to see and experience. Chicago has so much in store for you and the family.

Here is a list of things to do in Chicago during the Winter months

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The Museum of Science and Industry

During the winter months, November through January, Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light is displayed. Explore rich holiday traditions from around the globe while creating your own traditions with loved ones in Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light.

It began in 1942 with a single tree. Today, the Museum’s beloved annual celebration features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe. On the weekends, you can also enjoy live holiday performances. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that brings a whole world of holiday joy under one roof.

READ ALSO: Spring Break Make It Yourself at MSI

This has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. This year, I took my parents and my daughters and it was truly magical. My only piece of advice, it is very busy over the holiday break between Christmas and New Year.

Also, if you are going during a busy season or when a popular exhibit is at the museum, be sure to get tickets for the exhibits that you want to see. There are some free exhibits that are very popular and so tickets are given on first come first serve basis, plot your plan and get your tickets as soon as you get there so you don’t miss anything.

Free admission days: The Museum of Science and Industry is free for Illinois residents with valid ID on the following dates in 2019: January 7–10, 14–17, 21–24, 28–31, February 4–7, 11–14, 19–21, 25–28

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Shedd Aquarium

If you are looking for a leisurely day to spend with children of all ages, the Shedd Aquarium is perfect. You are inside from the elements, whether it be the sweltering heat of the summer or the brutal cold of Chicago winters, and children (and adults alike) love the serene beauty that surrounds you.

Discover Aquatic Animals from around the World. You can purchase tickets online and save time. Encounter Penguins. Meet Beluga Whales. Award Winning Exhibits. Hands-On Activities. Watch Shark Feedings. Shows: Shark Feeding Tour, Behind-the-Scenes Tour, Beluga Encounter, Penguin Encounter. Our favorite was the Dolphin show and the Beluga Whales. It’s a great day of exciting aquatic fun.

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Don’t forget about the free admission days.  Check the shed aquarium page free admissions page at a later day. Check back frequently because it’s a great deal.

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Field Museum

Who can forget the iconic shots of Kevin Bacon in She’s Having a Baby at the Field Museum? If your child or teen is into history at all, Field Museum is the place to visit. Even if they aren’t, I think the Field Museum could convince them to be. The Field Museum fuels a journey of discovery across time to enable solutions for a brighter future rich in nature and culture. It’s where real science, dinosaurs, and world-class exhibits inspire fun for all. My girls and nephew loved the mummies exhibit, Sue the T-Rex and Maximo the Titanosaur.

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There are Free Admission Days, which are free basic admission for Illinois residents with proof of residency. Discounted passes are available in person and cannot be purchased online in advance.

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, located in Millennium Park, is a hub for summertime festivals like Lollapalooza, the Blues Festival, and Taste of Chicago but it’s really a great place to visit during the winter months as well. There are many pieces to be adored and to give your family something to think about Wood’s American Gothic, Matisse’s Bathers By a River, Monet’s Water Lilies, Rivera’s Weaver and even Renoir’s Two Sisters. There are O’Keefe, Toulouse-Lautrec and Warhols. All these I remember seeing as a child. But even among the Dali and Van Goghs, the piece I love the most is Picasso’s The Old Guitarist. Those artworks are probably only allowed to be shipped and prepped by top-notch art handlers to safeguard their authenticity. Having a place to go and share these pieces with my daughters, feels a little bit like going to church at the Sistine Chapel. We are overcome with awe and wonder. The art Institute is a must-visit when you’re in Chicago.

Just like all the other amazing museums in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago has free admission days.

Adler Planetarium

Chicago’s Adler Planetarium is America’s first planetarium and a premier resource for inspiring the next generation of space explorers and bonus, it is right next door to the Shedd Aquarium so you can make a day of it with the kids. If your child is interested in astronomy or space in general, how it works, what’s out there, or just connecting the constellations in the night sky, they will love the Adler Planetarium.

Countless galaxies, unfathomable distances, exploding stars, diamond planets, black holes, there’s no way around it, space is freaking awesome! Come learn more at the Adler Planetarium during our Illinois Resident Discount Days—where Illinois residents receive FREE General Admission to the museum. General Admission provides access to all exhibitions and experiences (excluding the historic Atwood Sphere Experience and sky shows.*)

Navy Pier

If you’ve never been to Navy Pier, make sure to visit on your next trip to Chicago. Originally completed in 1916 as part of Daniel Burnham’s plan for Chicago, Navy Pier is an iconic city landmark inspiring discovery and wonder. Since its reopening in 1995, more than 180 million visitors have come to enjoy the Pier’s 50 acres of unparalleled attractions and experiences. As Navy Pier enters its second century, the venue is evolving into an accessible, year-round centerpiece for Chicago’s diverse arts and cultural treasures.

There is so much to do at Navy Pier. There are restaurants, art, shopping, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and even rides. Navy Pier is home to one of Chicago’s most iconic attractions: the magnificent Centennial Wheel, offering soaring views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. And let’s not forget about the Pepsi Wave Swinger, carousel and more. Honestly, there is so much to do…just add teens and an instant good time.

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Medieval Times Schaumburg

If you’ve never been to a Medieval Times, you are missing out. I always wanted to go but never made the drive as I said, when you live in Chicago, you don’t do touristy things). A couple of years ago, I found myself at a work event with my family and guess where we ended up? Medieval Times. We loved it so much, this past holiday season when I was home visiting my parents, we took them to Medieval times in Schaumburg (just north of the city) and they loved it and so did my kids.

For the first time in Medieval Times 35-year history, a woman is in charge. All hail Queen Dona Maria Isabella. Enjoy an electrifying show featuring heroic knights on spirited horses displaying the astounding athletic feats and thrilling swordplay that have become hallmarks of this unique entertainment experience. Enjoy a “hands-on” feast as the dynamic performance unfolds before you. A sweeping musical score and brilliant lights provide a fabulous backdrop for this spellbinding experience that blurs the boundary between fairy tale and spectacle!

Yes, there is a blue knight and a red knight and you eat with your hands but so is everybody else and it was magical and splendid and I can’t wait to go again. There is a 2-hour medieval jousting tournament, 6 competing knights with real weapons, beautiful horses and a live flight of the royal falcon. Medieval Times is like nothing else you’ve ever experienced.

Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Adler planetarium, art institute of chciago, broadway on Chicago, navy pier, chicago shakespeare theater, Things to do with teens and kids in Chicago, Things to do with teens in Chicago, Chicago, Things to do in Chicago, travel to Chicago, travel with teens, teens, family travel

Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Adler planetarium, art institute of chciago, broadway on Chicago, navy pier, chicago shakespeare theater, Things to do with teens and kids in Chicago, Things to do with teens in Chicago, Chicago, Things to do in Chicago, travel to Chicago, travel with teens, teens, family travel, broadway in chicagoBroadway in Chicago

If you love the theater, Broadway in Chicago is the place to be. Hamilton, anyone? The theater district is vibrant and located within walking distance of so many great restaurants and entertainment opportunities, including the Joffrey ballet. There is no shortage of things to see and places to be while experiencing Broadway on Chicago. There is a constant assortment of plays and musicals to see on the stage, something for everyone, even the most discerning critics.

Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Adler planetarium, art institute of chciago, broadway on Chicago, navy pier, chicago shakespeare theater, Things to do with teens and kids in Chicago, Things to do with teens in Chicago, Chicago, Things to do in Chicago, travel to Chicago, travel with teens, teens, family travel, broadway in chicago

There are so many more things, these are just a few and the list gets longer during the warmer months. What is your favorite thing to do, see and eat in Chicago? The best part is that all of these places are great for just adults too.

READ ALSO: The Aladdin Experience Things to do in Chicago, Joffrey Ballet, The Nutcracker

The Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker

As you all know, the ballet has a special place in my heart because my girls are ballerinas. The Nutcracker has always and will forever be a huge part of our holiday tradition. The girls have never seen it live from the audience because, for as long as they can remember, they have danced in it. Our local production is known to be one of the best in the country but we’ve always wanted to see the Joffrey’s, one of the premier dance companies in the world today, production. This year it’s on the list. The Joffrey Ballet’s critically-acclaimed reimagined classic, The Nutcracker by Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, returns to celebrate the magic of the holiday season. Wheeldon’s American tale relocates Marie and her immigrant family to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, where Marie embarks on a whirlwind adventure with the Nutcracker Prince.

Things to do in Chicago, Joffrey Ballet, The NutcrackerThe Joffrey Ballet performs The Nutcracker from Saturday, December 3rd through Sunday, December 27, 2022.

Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Adler planetarium, art institute of chciago, broadway on Chicago, navy pier, chicago shakespeare theater, Things to do with teens and kids in Chicago, Things to do with teens in Chicago, Chicago, Things to do in Chicago, travel to Chicago, travel with teens, teens, family travel

What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago with teens or kids?

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When you have children, your entire world changes drastically. This is completely normal and understandable. If you’re not obsessed with your kids, I need to know how you do it because, tbh, I am dreading the letting go. At the end of the day, you’ve brought a little being into this world who is going to be entirely dependent on you for many years to come, and who will lean on you for the rest of their life. My girls are teens now and they still need me as much as they did when they were toddlers, just in different ways. It’s a whole lot of responsibility but a privilege and honor too.

You’re inevitably going to find yourself changing your day to day tasks and routines in order to accommodate them and provide them with everything they need to grow and thrive. Believe me, I am not the same person I was before I had my daughters and that’s fine; I’ve evolved. You’ll see your social schedule changing, your family schedule changing, your day to day tasks and to-do’s changing… the list goes on. That is evolution. One area that can change drastically when you have a child is your work life and career. Even if you have every intention of going right back into the workforce, sometimes you change your mind, like I did. They’re not overstating when they say that a baby changes everything. It really does, in every single way that you can imagine and even in some ways that you never would have. Here’s some information on what you may expect and how to manage your work around your little one.

Parental Leave

If you are in an employed role, most countries entitle you to some parental leave when you bring your child into this world or when you adopt a child. This gives you time to recover from any physical processes involved, as well as being able to care for a new dependent or familiarise them with their new home and environment. Make sure that you’re fully aware of the rights that you have in regards to this. Different countries have different rules and allow different periods of time off, paired with different levels of pay and support for time taken off. Knowing what you are entitled to can help you a lot, ensuring that you can enforce your rights and experience the benefits you’re entitled to. It can also help you to create a timeline regarding how long you’ll be able to spend at home with your child and how you’re going to want to spend and manage that time. Finally, it allows you to start looking into childcare options in advance of heading back to the workplace if this is what you’re planning on doing.

Working vs. Staying at Home

Of course, not everyone has the option of giving up work when they have a child. But it’s important to consider your options and what appeals most to you. Some people will want to get back to work as soon as possible, as their careers mean a lot to them. Some may want to give up work in order to focus on their child. Neither is a wrong or right answer or path to follow. It’s entirely dependent on a whole host of personal factors. One thing to consider is the cost of heading back to work vs. staying at home as a stay at home parent. When you go back to work, you will be earning an income, but also have to consider the costs of childcare. You may need to earn over a certain amount to make working financially viable, as childcare costs in many areas can be high. Alternatively, you may be able to turn to a family member for support, or your workplace may offer payment of childcare costs or childcare contributions. Staying at home means you may not earn an income, but don’t have to worry about childcare costs. Weigh up all of the different factors to determine what’s best for you and your child.

Do Something You Love

You need to make sure that whatever role you’re working is in a field that you love. Heading to a nine to five that you can’t stand is just going to make extra work and stress for you. Think of your personal interests, strengths and what makes you happy. Many parents find that caring roles suit them well. Nursing is a good option, as it requires less medical training than positions like doctor or surgeon, meaning you can get into the field more quickly and easily. Nursing also gives you a great sense of purpose, helping you to feel more content with the fact of facing time away from your children. Once you’ve chosen a role that you love, make sure that you have what you need in the role and engage in things that help make each day more positive. Choose Uniform Advantage Cherokee Scrubs for bold and empowering colors that will give you confidence and add a ray of sunshine to your patient’s days. Ask for support as and when you need it from your manager or supervisor. In short, make a conscious effort to make every day the best it can be at work.

Remote Work

Remote work is becoming increasingly common and is an option that allows you to work from your own home. This is becoming increasingly favored by many parents, as it allows a host of perks that benefit both them and their child. Of course, when you work from home, you still have to work, so this doesn’t mean that you will be paid to take care of your child, or that you will be able to work without having to consider childcare. You may still need to find childcare for your little one while you’re concentrating on your work. But the benefits are that you don’t have to worry about spending time or money on the commute to and from a workplace elsewhere. This frees up time and cash that could be spent on other things, such as your little one. You also haver access to your personal space during your breaks, which could be used productively, such as quickly putting a wash in, preparing some elements of dinner and more. Consider searching for remote positions if you specialize in a role that can be completed from home. Some companies also offer hybrid roles – where some days are spent working on site and some days are spent working from home – that allow flexibility.

Flexible Work

Some workplaces are stricter than others. Some will require you to be working specific times and available at specific times. Others allow more freedom, simply stating that you need to log your working hours and can do so throughout the course of the day. If you require more flexibility with your working hours – perhaps you need to drop your child to school, clubs, appointments and more – you could look for a company that’s going to be more flexible with you and your needs. Alternatively, you could try to arrange this with the company you already work for. Many will oblige, as long as you state when you are and aren’t available in your calendar. This can make managing your work life alongside your personal life a lot simpler and straightforward. This can also work well with shift work.

After School Clubs

Often, children finish school before the majority of adults finish work. This can cause issues if you’re unable to collect them from school when you’re still meant to be on shift. But this, of course, is an extremely common challenge many parents face. This is why many schools have offered up after school clubs and extracurricular activities. They will keep your child in school and provide them with entertainment, fun and games until you are ready to collect them. Not only is this fun your children, helping them to enjoy themselves around others of their own age and developing new skills, but it means you don’t have to worry about arranging external childcare or collections.

Summer Camps and Sessions

Another challenge that working parents can face is school breaks and holidays. Children get a lot more breaks than adults do – often around special occasions or summer breaks. They will be off school, but you may still be required to go to work. What happens here? Well, many solutions have been offered up as this is a problem that many parents would otherwise struggle to negotiate and manage. Common activities for children during these breaks include daily activities, where your child can be dropped off in the morning before you head to work, or camps, where children can stay for a longer and more extended period of time.

Support Networks

As with any element of being a parent, it really is important that you have a good support network around you to help you through the process of working and parenting at once. This network will differ between one person and another, and there’s no right or wrong way of managing it. There are some people who will rely on their partner to split responsibilities. Some people will rely on family members and friends for support. Remember that you are never alone. If you don’t have these individuals to count on, you’re by far not the only person to feel this way. There are others out there who will be more than happy to help, from other parents to support groups and more.

Relaxation and You-Time

If you are working and parenting, chances are, you’re pretty exhausted. Nobody is superhuman and you’re going to find that you definitely need some time away from both activities to let your hair down and recuperate. This is why scheduling some relaxation time and you-time is important on a regular basis. This can vary from one person to another, as different people unwind in different ways. It could be something as simple as getting up a little earlier than your kids to enjoy a hot drink and the news or a TV program. It could be waiting up a little after they go to bed to have a bath and soak. It could be splitting childcare on weekends so that one weekend you may take care of someone else’s kids, but the next you can look forward to an afternoon or evening spent to yourself doing what you want to do – whether that’s a meal out, cinema or simply a long, well deserved nap. You don’t want to overload yourself and experience burnout, as then you won’t be able to look after yourself or your little ones.

As you can see, working and parenting are two draining activities that can be quite difficult to manage at once. But it is possible. Hopefully, some of the advice above will help to guide you on this journey, taking the paths that best suit you, your children, your lifestyle and your needs. Give them a try and see how things improve!

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