Category:

Parenting

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

A Dog's Way Home, pets, Lola, kid's crafts, art

Are you a dog person? Is your furbaby showered with love and adoration? Do you have a special voice you use to greet your four-legged friend when you get home? No shame in our game, we definitely do. We love our Lola. She truly is one of the family. I don’t know what we’d do without her and all the joy she brings with her happy tail wagging and dog kisses.

Lola was a Christmas gift for our family to ourselves after a particularly hard year. In 2012, we suffered a miscarriage and lost our first fur baby, Saffaron. We were gutted. There was so much upheaval in our lives from the losses and so much love in our hearts that needed to be given and had no place to go.

The girls had been begging for a pet to fill our dog-sized hole in our hearts. It feels weird now to think that one goes to a place to “buy” a pet, especially since they are so much an integral part of our family’s story.

Lola was like salve to our hearts. She is our constant companion and loves our daughters as fiercely as we do. When I work at my desk (or on the couch or from my bed), Lola is always beside me. When the girls are sick, she sits by them until they are well. When the Big Guy has had a particularly bad day, she knows and she lays her head in his lap and soothes his soul.

I can’t even imagine a world without Lola in it. Who knew you could love a four-legged friend as much as you love human family? But how could you not, they are always there to make the world a better place.

Gabi wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up and she has a particularly special relationship with Lola. She calls her, “my sister” and she means it. In a lot of ways, Lola has healed us as a family and there is nothing we will ever be able to do to repay her for that. For now, we love her with all that we’ve got and she does the same in return.

Gabs painted a canvas of Lola to put on her wall in her bedroom and it is adorable. I think this is a great activity for all kids to do. It gave Gabs some one-on-one time with Lola and now, she has this sweet memory of the day her and Lola sat together for an hour as she tried to get her sweet face just right. I love it. I want one for the wall in my office.

A Dog’s Way Home chronicles the heartwarming family adventure of Bella, a dog who embarks on an epic 400-mile journey home after she is separated from her beloved human. A Dog’s Way Home is based on the book by W. Bruce Cameron with an all-star cast including Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King, Edward James Olmos, Alexandra Shipp, Wes Studi and Bryce Dallas Howard.

“Finding Bella” takes us on the journey of a dog trying to get back to her owner. Bryce Dallas Howard, the voice of Bella, shares the story of how Shelby the dog was rescued and goes on a journey of her own. Discover Shelby’s epic adventure as she finds her forever home and new life purpose as a therapy dog.

A Dog’s Way Home In Theaters January 11, 2019

 

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organization, Marie Kondo, clothing organization, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, KonMari Method

My house is in disarray. It needs tidying up like I need sleep. Desperately. I don’t know about you but when my house is in chaos, my mind is in chaos. When my mind is in disarray, I feel overwhelmed and it’s hard for me to get my bearings.
When my perspective is skewed, it’s hard to stay focused on the positive and when that happens, it’s impossible to hit goals and chase down dreams because you’re too busy chasing your own tail. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo organization method is helping me to organize my life, my home, my mind and my soul. Who knew the KonMari organization method would work for me.

Enter fate and an unlikely Netflix binge, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Not going to lie, I bought the book a couple years ago. I started reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and it made sense but I’m a visual learner. You can tell me but it’s better if you show me.

Friday night, I turned on Netflix to find my next great binge and there it was, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

Not normally my cup of tea but as I’m trying to be more positive and I know my method of tidying up is not working, I knew that organization is not my strong suit but it needs to be.

As soon as I saw the look of being lost on the first couples face, I could relate. It’s like one day you look around and you’re asking yourself, how did I get here? Whose life am I living because it’s so off the mark from what you imagined for yourself.
Before we had kids and when the kids were toddlers, my house was immaculate. Organization was my jam. A place for everything and everything in its place. Tidying up was not a problem. Then, the Big Guy lost his job and we had to do the whole commuter marriage thing and I was alone with a 2 & 4 year old.

READ ALSO: What is Commuter Marriage?

I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and if I’m being completely honest, a little depressed. Everything became too much and something had to give. I had to let go of the idea of a perfect house and focus on taking care of 2 small children by myself. The house went on the market and loads of stuff went into storage so the house could be shown. A couple temporary moves with stuff in storage and us in small quarters and somehow we acquired more stuff.

Then there was the miscarriage, our dog dying and the year of living with our in laws while stuff was in storage. My goal was just to survive. Tidying up and organization were not my priorities. It was just one more thing to do in an ever growing pile of things to do. Things that were overwhelming and exhausting at a time when I was already buried up to my neck in obligations and in full survival mode.

We’ve been in this house for 6 years and we’re still not fully unpacked and we’ve accumulated so much stuff just to replace stuff that was in storage or unfindable when we needed it. There’s always a holiday, visitors, traveling or some other obligation so we never get the time, or if I’m being honest, have the desire to sift through and sort through our lives so we keep the downstairs clean while the attic and garage are bursting at the seams and clean, folded laundry is stacked in all the bedrooms towering over us while we sleep.

READ ALSO: How to Get Your House Company Ready without Killing Yourself

organization, Marie Kondo, clothing organization, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, KonMari Method

It’s embarrassing, all the “stuff” we have. We don’t need it. But I’ve realized, the way some people eat their feelings, I shop to feel better. Then, I feel worse when I get the bill and I feel complete shit when I see my house full of stuff. I feel guilty. I actually feel embarrassed to carry my Louis Vuitton handbag bought for me as a gift by my husband because I feel like it’s just one more possession; a luxury that I either don’t need or don’t deserve. I haven’t quite figured out which.

I saw Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and learned the KonMari method of organization at the right time.

Just as I’ve recently decided that there is no more try only do. I decided we were doing this. Saturday morning, I asked my family to watch the first episode with me so we were all on the same page. We’ve started with the clothes. We’re still sorting through them. I went through so much clothing and moved so much clothing, shoes and bags around my room that after 15 hours, my entire body was aching; buckling under the physical pressure of organizing closets but my mind felt free and light. That is worth as many hours as it takes.

organization, Marie Kondo, clothing organization, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, KonMari Method

We each went through our own stuff because I feel like only each of us can decide what’s important and sparks joy for us. At 11 and 13-years-old my girls can do that plus, they’re going to be more respectful of how they treat their belongings and how they appreciate the work it takes to tidy up more if they do it themselves. If we do it for them, they can’t fully appreciate what that entails. We all worked all day doing this.

organization, Marie Kondo, clothing organization, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, KonMari Method

We started Saturday around noon collected about 15-20 bags of clothing to donate to the women’s shelter. We’re not even done yet. There will be more. I plan to use the KonMari tidying up organization method throughout my entire home over the next month or so. We’re in it as long as it takes. I will keep you all updated on here on Mondays.

How does Marie Kondo’s tidying up method work?

It’s not about throwing out all of your stuff. It’s about keeping what makes you happy and letting the rest go because, after all, it is just stuff.

Does it bring you joy?

Pick it up in your hands and decide if it sparks joy. If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t give it to someone who it will spark joy for.

For me, there are exceptions, there are articles of clothing like undergarments, socks and pajamas that don’t particularly spark joy but are necessary so I kept them but if they caused annoyance or I just had a dislike for, I threw out.

The goal is not to have to rebuy spanx but to not have clutter and not hold on to stuff just to have stuff.

What to do with the stuff?

It’s hard for me to get rid of stuff because I grew up poor. I tend to want to hold on to things and I form emotional attachments to things, especially where my kids are concerned. Marie Kondo has a sentimental category and it makes you take a moment and consider what things really mean to you.

I’m still going through my clothes, shoes, handbags and jewelry in my bedroom but I’m planning on doing the entire house. It may take me a couple months with work and life but purging feels good, folding in threes calms me and the less stuff I have the less overwhelmed I feel. Maybe I’m a minimalist on the inside?

organization, Marie Kondo, clothing organization, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, KonMari Method

Where do I start?

The life changing magic of Tidying up with Marie Kondo and the KonMari organization method should be done in this order;

Clothing

Hold each piece in your hand and decide if it sparks joy in your heart. If it doesn’t, give it away.

Books

She says to give them a little shake to wake them up and then decide what sparks joy. The rest donate to your local library, school or build your own little free library for your neighbors and friends.

Papers

Bills, receipts and etcetera.

Komono

Kitchen, Bathroom, Garage, Attic and everything miscellaneous.

Sentimental Items

Things that have sentimental value to you like photos, videos, heirlooms and things that bring you sentimental joy. It’s personal and only you can decide. It doesn’t have to be logical or make sense to anyone else. Besides, you can always go through your “Stuff” again later.

I fully realize that for some people tidying up and organization is not life changing. Some of you already have a handle on this aspect of your life but some of us are out of control and the chaos of the clutter is an outward reflection of the inner mess we feel; controlling one helps us to reign in the other. So maybe cleaning up and folding in thirds is not your jam, maybe you don’t have “too much stuff”. Maybe you think its crazy to throw out perfectly good stuff. I have a problem with this too. That’s why we’re donating our stuff. Then I can feel like I am controlling my mess, getting the closet organizers and clearing my mind without guilt about waste.

organization, Marie Kondo, clothing organization, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, KonMari Method

 

What are your tips for keeping your house clutter free and making your home feel peaceful?

Are you experiencing the Life changing Magic of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and trying the KonMari organization method as your guide to your closet organizer?

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elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze

It’s that time of the year again. You know the one. The time of the year when the elf on the shelf arrives. Also, coincidentally, when parents have about 5 whimsical, hilarious and creative elf on the shelf ideas and then, we’re out. Even if we’re not out, we forget. Oh, the horror. Why must those little guys need so much assistance?

Let me tell you a little story about the dumbest parents in the world, that would be the Big Guy and myself, in case there was any confusion. The elf on the shelf started coming when Bella was 2-years-old. We thought, “OMG, it’s so cute every kid should have one of Santa’s adorable elves come to visit them at Christmas.”

READ ALSO: The Elf is Back in Town

Our first elf on the shelf arrived that year, in a box (with little breathing holes in it) from the North Pole (sent from Santa Claus himself, no less) and a letter from the Jolly Big Guy.

His name was Ed and he was freaking adorable. No, he didn’t look like the other elves. He’s pleasantly plump and has kind eyes and I’m assuming that he is probably Santa’s favorite because he kind of looks like Santa himself (maybe he’s Santa’s illegitimate son? I’m not saying he is but I’m not saying he isn’t either.)

After all, Elf on the shelf can come in all sizes, shapes and colors just like people.

Ed was fantastic. Bella loved him and so did we. An elves life is pretty sweet when kids are toddlers. Toddlers have the attention span of gnats. Ed could literally move his lazy derriere an inch a night and Bella was perfectly tickled.

By 2008, we had two little girls and, for some reason, Santa thought it would be cool to send 2 elves. One for each girl. Ed and Ana Lee (who’s a little old guy who came with a name tag). So, then there were 2 elves, 2 daughters and the 3-year-old was pretty perceptive. Life gets more complicated when 2 lazy elves have to put on a dog and pony show every night. 2 kids, this mommy was exhausted.

READ ALSO: Elf on the Shelf Run Amuck

Well, if you think things were getting crazy, well, you have no idea. Ended up moving a couple times and well, let’s just say for the arguments sake, that our elves got confused for a couple years and we ended up with 3 more different elves, Herbie Hancock, Rick Astley and Darling Nikki. Moving is not good for elf consistency. So, for those of you keeping track, now that we have lived in this house for 6 years, all 5 elves have been showing up. It gets chaotic up in here.

Here are some Elf on the shelf ideas for Parents and Elves who are Out of Ideas

1.The Elf on the Shelf with Proof

Have the elf show up in a box with holes from the North Pole and a letter from Santa. Remember to remove all name tags they bring with themselves, as to allow for a more suitable name to be given to said elf.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze, hostess

Photo Credit: @Frugalmom

2. The Hostess with the Mostest Elf

Has your elf shown up with a welcome breakfast for the whole family? Wouldn’t that be awesome? Maybe you help the little guy out and host your own north pole breakfast.

3. Paratrooper Elf

Has your Elf on the Shelf parachuted in? It’s different, unexpected and really brings the adventure. I mean, if he’s arriving by parachute, what might this little guy (or gal) do next?

4. Kissing Elf on the Shelf

A bag full of kisses for all the bubs and sisses. Maybe your elf is just not that into boxes maybe he arrives with a note from Santa and a bag full of chocolate kisses.

5. Full of Hot Air Elf on the Shelf

Forget the box altogether, and forget Santa’s predictable sleigh, why not arrive by hot air balloon, zip line or under the Christmas tree locomotive? After all, Danger could be his middle name (check the “name” tag someone forgot to remove).

6. Do you want to build a snowman Elf on the Shelf

If your kids are like mine they are Frozen fanatics and they also love building snowmen, so kids find it pretty cool when their Elf shows up and writes Frozen lyrics all over the bathroom mirror and builds a toilet paper snowman. And hey, if it’s snowing out, parents, you’ll get bonus points for taking those kiddies out and building an actual snowman!

READ ALSO: The Elf on the Shelf Problem

But be careful, our 5 elves have been known to toilet paper our house, the tree and anything else when hopped up on too much peppermint. I’m pretty sure that our elves turn into chain-smoking, drunken frat boy hooligans at night.

7. Loco for Coco Elf on the Shelf

Maybe while you’re outside building the snowman, maybe Rick Astley (that little go-getter that he is) the elf decides to put together a surprise coco bar for the whole family. How thoughtful. Best.elf. ever.

8. Like a Wrecking Ball Elf on the Shelf

Maybe your elf is MacGyver and he likes to live on the edge. So he takes some string, a toilet paper roll and he swings in overnight to make an entrance.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze, smores

Photo Credit: @CameronsCoffee

9. S’mores Elf on the Shelf

I’m not one for advocating that elves play with fire but it sure would be nice to return from a cold day at school to find Smoky the elf carefully making S’mores. That would be a nice treat, right?

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze

Photo Credit: @Craftywayout

10. Pump You Up Elf on the Shelf

Schwarzenegger elf really doesn’t like to miss his workouts, especially around the holidays with all the yummy desserts around the joint. Maybe he concocts marshmallow dumbbells to keep in shape and keep those love handles at bay.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze

Photo credit: @Juliee_1985

11. An Angel Gets its Wings Elf on the Shelf

Frosty the snow elf really loves playing in the “snow” so beware, he may go to extreme lengths to feel at home and make sugar, rice, powdered sugar or sprinkle angels.

Mischievous Elf on the Shelf Ideas for the elves who want to live on the edge.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze

Photo Credit: @Dopedreams_3X

12. Pooping elf on the shelf.

I am not sure what exactly these elves eat on a regular basis, but I can say that we’ve caught them pooping a toilet full of chocolate chips in the Barbie toilet. We’ve also caught them making not so nice toilet humor and playing pranks in the bathroom.

13. Tawanda! Elf on the Shelf

Ever caught your elves mid mischief? Well, one of our elves favorite things to do besides swing from chandeliers and cozy up to the Barbies and American Girl Dolls is sledding down the stairs. We’ve caught them doing it in the Barbie car, in toilet paper tubes and even by wrapping themselves in the toilet paper, yelling “Tawanda!” and just rolling. Silly elves, toilet paper is for wiping butts not sliding down the stairs.

14. The Godfather Elf on the Shelf

Our girls know that touching the elves is strictly forbidden and strips them of their North Pole magical abilities, so they don’t touch them but those elves are sneaky. When the girls have had talkback, push the boundary days, our elves have not been above crawling in the bed with them and sleeping on the pillow next to them. It’s pretty Tony Soprano sleeping with the fishes/ waking up with a horse head in your bed thug like.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze15. Shoe Conga Elf on the Shelf

Elves like to be silly. I once saw our elves do a shoe conga from the living room, through the foyer and into the movie room. They’ve also been known to do this aboard the Polar Express beneath the Christmas tree.

16. Horsing Around Elves

They’re just like us and they get bored. I’ve seen them rally all those stuffies, Polly Pockets and Barbie dolls lying on the floor and let the sack races begin.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level

Photo Credit: @Pittmankid

17. K-Cup Criminal Elf on the Shelf

Did you know that elves love coffee and hot chocolate almost as much as they love peppermint sticks? They do. I’ve caught them on more than one occasion reusing my old K-Cups. I’m cool with it. I’m all about recycling and reusing.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze

Photo credit: @elfontheshelf

18. Sick Day Elf on the Shelf

Well, even elves get cooties sometimes. In these situations, it is best if they leave a doctor’s note to let the kids know why they’re not moving. Enjoy your sleep and take advantage of those days that you don’t have to chase him down every night. P.S. It’s the worse when the elf catches a cold from your kid but the guilt does buy you a couple extra days of relief.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark

Photo Credit: @lips_last_with_Selena

19. Elfy sharks doo doo doo doo doo doo 

We have an entire family of elves, therefore, why wouldn’t they want to get in on the latest craze? You just know they’re going to show up as the family of sharks one day, perhaps with the JAWS music playing softly in the background. Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo.

20. Picasso Elf on the Shelf

Our elves seem to get increasingly mischievous the closer we get to Christmas. One of their favorite things to do is climb up our shelves and draw silly mustaches and unibrows on family photos.

There are ( as my teen would say) “literally” 1000 other things your elf can do and mischief they can get into. I can go on for infinity.

If you are looking for some other great ideas check out this awesome elf on the shelf checklist.

I can say that our elves are a bit rambunctious. On their last night at our house, we almost always find them hungover after a night of drunken debauchery; gorged on peppermint and passed out in the middle of their Go Fish game.

They’ve even been known to toilet paper our Christmas tree and fill our house with paper snowflakes while we were at a holiday party. Elves are awesome but they sure love their shenanigans. They also have a penchant for stealing phones while you sleep and leaving random #elfies on our phones.

elf on the shelf, elf on the shelf ideas, elf on the shelf funny ideas, keurig, elf on the shelf expert level, baby shark, kinderegg, febreeze

What’s your best elf on the shelf ideas? What’s the craziest thing your elf has ever done?

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How to Help Your Child Navigate Grief, Morgan Grady, children and grief, car accident, explaining death to children

This is not the post that I thought that I would be writing tonight,  How to help your child navigate grief. I wish I wasn’t. My kids aren’t allowed to eat raisins. Sounds crazy, right? Yep, I’ve spent about 13 years getting weird looks and judgy faces from playdate moms because I politely declined their offer of raisins and grapes to my children. Oh yeah, did I mention that when I send grapes in my daughters’ lunches, I quarter them? Yep, even at 11 and 13-years-old.  And now, I will always pick them up from college when they come home to visit or they will fly. I will not allow them to drive alone in holiday traffic.

You are all scratching your heads wondering why I am outing myself as a crazy, helicopter mom, right? Before you judge me, get to know my “why”. We are all a sum total of our whys in life. We become what our life circumstances mold, bend, flatten and tear us into.

My children are not allowed to eat raisins and grapes because when Bella was just around 18 months old, she almost choked to death on one. Not coughing and freaking out, she was full on turning purple, could not make a sound, there was no air moving, suffocating before my very eyes…choking.

I did everything my brain could think of to do to dislodge that thing. I was seconds away from performing a makeshift tracheotomy. She could live with a hole in her neck. She could not live with all oxygen deprived from her brain. Luckily, I knocked it loose and cleared her airway before my husband got back to me with the kitchen knife. You think I’m kidding? I.am.not.

READ ALSO: The First Cut is the Deepest

I saw the most important thing in my life slipping away before my very eyes and I refused to watch helplessly. That is not how I function. There are things that happen so fast and so furious that we cannot do anything about it. I know this and I know ultimately I have no control over anything but I can’t quit, not on the people I love. And why can’t they eat grapes? Why are they quartered? Because a grape is just a fucking raisin in training and that sneaky bastard is not getting the chance.

Why will I never let my girls drive home in holiday traffic alone while under my care, you ask? Because life is unexpected and cruel in ways that you can’t imagine until it hits you like a mac truck. This is where we get to helping our children navigate through the grief part. The horrible part of the story, in case the toddler choking on a raisin didn’t scare you enough already.

As I’ve mentioned, probably a zillion times on this blog, my daughters’ dance ballet at our local city ballet. Dance is a huge part of their lives and the people they meet there, the girls, boys, men and women they spend hours a week of their lives with are important to them. Those people are family. When there is blood, sweat, tears and blisters shared between people you become more than just acquaintances. You love these people who you laugh, cry and live with day in and day out and we mourn them when they are gone.

READ ALSO: Tiny Ballerina

Well, on Sunday night, we suddenly lost one of these family members. She was a young, bright and beautiful woman who taught both of my daughters. They loved her for her big heart, giant spirit and infectious smile. She cared about her students and it poured out of every part of her. But now she is gone in a very sudden and shocking way. I’m not going to share all of the gruesome details but she was traveling to visit her mother and was the victim of a tragic car accident. My girls are gutted. Our ballet family is gutted. I can’t even imagine what her actual family is going through.

One minute my daughters were brushing their teeth for bed and the next they are Facetiming with friends and everyone was sobbing uncontrollably. I felt so helpless. I’m sad. Hearing of her passing shocked me. It sort of stops you in your tracks to lose someone so young, so much alive, so unexpectedly. The grief is palpable.

What could I do? There is no Heimlich maneuver to be done to soothe your grieving child. There is no tracheotomy to be done to remove the hurt. You can’t call the ambulance. You can’t take death off the menu of life. All you can do is hold them and explain that this is just one part of life. You have to go through it with them. Hold on tight and reassure them that you are there for as long as life permits you to do so but in the end, you have to be honest. At 11 and 13-years-old, I had to reiterate that life, in all of its pain and glory, is finite. None of us live forever.

READ ALSO: Teaching Your Children about Loss

If you believe in life after death or a higher power, you let your child know that while those of us left behind feel pain and sorrow from the loss, those we lose feel no pain. They are beyond that. They are at peace.

Now, I don’t really know if I’m comfortable with telling my children that there is a better place or a worse place because I’ve never been dead, so I don’t really know. I, personally, hope that there is a peace beyond the pain and I think that peace might look and feel different for everyone. But in the end, I hope my peace involves all of those people I love surrounding me on the other side. Like a world of only the people, places and things that I love.

Whatever it is I hope that lovely, young, vibrant soul went to her place of peace immediately. I pray that she didn’t even see it coming. I’ve never wished for an instant as much as I hoped it happened in an instant in this case. I’m praying for peace for her family because I know their hearts are shattered into a million little pieces. And I pray for sanity for her parents because when your heart is so broken, it’s easy for the mind to give way. I’ve had a taste of loss and it nearly broke me. The thought of losing my girls in their twenties, just as their life is beginning, guts me.

How to Help Your Child Navigate Grief

This is why I will never let my daughters drive home from college in holiday traffic. This loss has altered my perspective forever and there is nothing that will change my mind. I know that it doesn’t make a difference who is driving and that accidents happen all the time. We can’t stop them but I can do what I can to make them less likely.

 

How to Help Your Child Navigate Grief, Morgan Grady, children and grief, car accident, explaining death to childrenRest in Peace, sweet Morgan Grady.

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kixteen period proof panties, The Ever Changing Rules and Regulations of Being a Teen Girl

My oldest is 13-years-old. Where did the time go? They are growing up faster than I feel like I can let go. Pretty soon, they are going to have to pry themselves from my cold dead hands. Then they’ll still probably have to break them in order for me to release, I’m just holding on that hard.

But the Big Guy, for as liberal as he pretends to be, is going to have an even harder time than me. He’s actually told the girls that they can’t date until they are 18 and he.was.serious. I just laughed. I told him that’s what my dad said too but I started dating when I was 15. I just didn’t tell my dad. That’s not what I want for our girls so we’re all easing into it.

READ ALSO: My Daughter Loves Me

The kids at school are all pairing up. 13-years-old, for me, is a bit young to be paired up BUT I do remember being that age and having crushes. In fact, I think somewhere in 8th grade is where I lost my mind and went completely boy crazy. At least that is what my 8th-grade diary would have me believe.  #SoEmbarassing

Bella’s always been too involved with ballet to have time to care about boys. But recently, there has been KJ Apa, Cole Sprouse and Robert Pattinson screensavers where there once was unicorns. But apparently, this is the case for the entire eighth-grade girl population.

A couple weeks ago she was homesick and instead of binge watching funny fails on Youtube she binge-watched the entire Twilight series and can’t stop talking Jacob’s chest. Kiss/Kill/Marry is the new favorite pastime with the girls.

I just watch and listen and let them know that it’s all normal. I don’t encourage or discourage. I simply pay attention and try to guide them through these confusing times of hormones and puberty.

There have been a couple boys and I can tell by my daughter’s sheepish smile and sparkly eyes that these boys are as good as KJ Apa and Cole Sprouse. But I don’t push. I don’t want them to feel like I’m pushing them to like boys (or girls) but I also don’t want them to feel like I am holding them back. I want them to know that as long as they respect themselves and aren’t cruel to anyone, it’s their choice to make. It’s a natural part of growing up.

Obviously, they are too young to actually date anyone but I can’t stop them from growing up. I can’t stop them from having feelings or wanting to get to know someone better. I can only encourage them to do it in a respectful, honest and dignified way.

A few weeks ago, when I picked Bella up from school, she excitedly recounted the day’s events which to my surprise involved a certain young man who knows how to use his words. It was a dress-up day and this boy, very sweetly pulled up his pant legs to reveal to my daughter a pair of socks with hearts on them. Then, he says, “I wore these just for you, Bella.”

She turned 50 shades of red and changed the subject. I know this because it’s exactly what she did when she told me about it. She’s shy, especially in this situation. What new teen wouldn’t be? Though I’m not quite ready for this next phase, the story was very sweet.

She’s starting to embrace becoming a teen and all which that entails; the good, the bad and the terrible. She’s even looking forward to high school when just this past summer, she wasn’t. She really is growing up so fast.

I’d like to think it has something to do with our style of parenting; let them know your love is unconditional and you will always be there to listen with understanding ears and an open heart but really, I think we just got lucky with a couple of good girls.

READ ALSO: Girl You’ll be a Woman Soon

Just a few months ago, puberty was barely on the horizon, off in the not so far distance. But that milestone has come and gone. We’ve got puberty covered. Thanks to lots of reading, lots of remembering my own teen years, lots of understanding and Knixteen’s period proof underwear and bras. Things are different from when I was 13-years-old.

Apparently, the teen years are a roller coaster of emotions and feelings and parents and kids alike are strapped in for the duration. All we can do is hold on to one another and try to enjoy the ride together. Never stop talking and more importantly, never stop listening. You never know what you might hear or what they might need you to say.

I know these sweet moments of blushing and sparkly eyes are just the beginning of what will become her long, complicated and beautiful story. I just hope she writes it down somewhere so when she’s a mom, she can look back and remember she was once at the beginning when things were confusing and new and scary and that will help her have the patience and courage and love it takes to get back on that roller coaster with her own daughter.

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the conjuring, Best Horror movies, teen horror movies, best horror movies streaming, Best horror movies to introduce your teen to scary movies, Halloween, the Exorcist, Amityville horror, carrie, poltergeist, texas chainsaw massacre, nightmare on elm street, Friday the 13th, When a stranger calls

I’ve been waiting for his moment for 13 years; the moment that I could watch horror movies with my daughters. I’ve been into the horror genre since I was about 7-years-old. It was the early 80’s and parenting was different back then. I’ve compiled this list of the best horror movies to introduce your teen to scary movies.

Ok, I’ll back up because I know that there is no world where I would allow my 7-year-old to watch horror movies. I had an aunt who was 17 when I was 7 and she would let me read her horror novels and even took me to see Friday the 13th in the movie theater. If you think that’s bad, she took my brother too, who was 5-years-old. If it makes it any better, she was married with a baby. She’d swap her baby for two of my mom’s kids. That was irresponsible babysitting swapping of the early 80’s.

I tried it and I loved it. Soon I was watching horror movies all the times. I was renting videotapes of horror movies for sleepovers.  I read all the Steven King books before I watched the movies.

READ ALSO: Most Bingeworthy Halloween Shows to get Your Fright On

Anyways, I still love the horror genre and can be found watching horror movies from June through November. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.

Until this year, going into the Halloween Store scared my oldest so badly, she’d cry when the animatronics would activate. I figured I was doomed to a life of streaming horror movies after the kids went to sleep but this year, that all changed. My oldest asked to watch horror movies with me. A horror fans dream come true.

At first, I was leery because you all remember my girls co-slept? I totally don’t want them back in my bed long term. It feels like I just got them out. She seemed serious and really wanted to try it so we started with some silly ones. One night after being terrified of clowns for the past year from the promo for IT by Stephen King last year, Bella asked if I’d watch it with her.

Best Horror movies, teen horror movies, best horror movies streaming, Best horror movies to introduce your teen to scary movies, Halloween, the Exorcist, Amityville horror, carrie, poltergeist, texas chainsaw massacre, nightmare on elm street, Friday the 13th, When a stranger calls

I said sure because, full disclosure, I don’t find IT scary. I find it more silly and funny like Ghoulies or Gremlins. Clowns don’t scare me. We watched the new IT and it’s been popcorn and teen horror movies ever since. In fact, we just took her and her bestie to see The Nun when it came out.

Here are my best horror movies to introduce your teen to scary movies.

1.Friday the 13th  1980 Rated-R

A group of camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp which, years before, was the site of a child’s drowning.

Basically, this horror movie is a tale of the ultimate helicopter mom. These counselors let her son drown. I find it completely acceptable that she’d go all crazy bear mom on them. In her mind, if they weren’t so busy making out and were watching the kids, her Jason would still be alive.

Let that be a lesson folks. In fact, I told my daughter ( teachable moment), “That’s why when you babysit, you pay attention to the kid you’re babysitting and don’t answer the phone.” Which brings me to the next movie.

2. When a Stranger Calls 1979 Rated-R

A psychopathic killer terrorizes a babysitter, then returns seven years later to menace her again.

This movie really used to freak me out because obviously anytime you would babysit in the 80’s your stupid friends would call the house line and breathe heavy and ask you, “Have you checked on the children?” It was completely freaky and anytime I watch this movie, if the phone rings, I still jump.

*Also, if you like this one, be sure to watch the horror movie Black Christmas ( 1974).

Best Horror movies, teen horror movies, best horror movies streaming, Best horror movies to introduce your teen to scary movies, Halloween, the Exorcist, Amityville horror, carrie, poltergeist, texas chainsaw massacre, nightmare on elm street, Friday the 13th, When a stranger calls

3. Halloween 1978 Rated- R

Fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield to kill again.

Halloween, the original, is definitely one of my favorite horror movies of all time. I love the music. I love the idea. I love the cheesy screaming and gasping. I love the whole concept of a horror film about a child who is capable of such depravity. It is creepy.

All that being said, I hate most of the sequels. Stand-alone, some of them are interesting and funny but they don’t follow the story and they just seem absurd. Though I am looking forward to the latest installment with Jamie Lee Curtis.

If we are being honest, I totally love the 2 Halloween remakes made by Rob Zombie. The story is more cohesive and makes more sense.

4. The Omen 1976 Rated-R

Mysterious deaths surround an American ambassador. Could the child that he is raising actually be the Antichrist? The Devil’s own son?

The Omen is an interesting take on horror because it insinuates that even something as innocent as a child could be the anti-christ. It’s also scary to think that a child could be so malevolent that he would attempt to murder his own mother.

Best Horror movies, teen horror movies, best horror movies streaming, Best horror movies to introduce your teen to scary movies, Halloween, the Exorcist, Amityville horror, carrie, poltergeist, texas chainsaw massacre, nightmare on elm street, Friday the 13th, When a stranger calls

5. Carrie 1976 Rated-R

Carrie White, a shy, friendless teenage girl who is sheltered by her domineering, religious mother, unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates at her senior prom.

This movie is completely different than any other horror movie because it’s basically about a fundamentalist Christian girl who has telekinesis. That in itself wouldn’t be so scary except she is relentlessly bullied by everyone in her life, including her mother.  The girl reaches a breaking point and instead of killing herself, she goes crazy on everyone else. I think of it more as a cautionary tale than a horror movie. It was a great teachable moment to remind my girls that this is why we don’t make fun of people.

Best Horror movies, teen horror movies, best horror movies streaming, Best horror movies to introduce your teen to scary movies, Halloween, the Exorcist, Amityville horror, carrie, poltergeist, texas chainsaw massacre, nightmare on elm street, Friday the 13th, When a stranger calls

6. The Exorcist 1973 Rated-R

When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.

Not going to lie, I am Catholic so possession horror is really the only kind of horror that scares me. The Exorcist terrified me because she was just a kid and she got possessed, meaning demons do not discriminate. I found her vulgarity, spider walking and head spinning vomiting to be particularly terrifying.

If you want to see a more contemporary possession that will truly haunt you ( but I would not recommend for your teens because it actually terrified me and I haven’t been able to watch it again) watch The Conjuring. The whole series is scary but the original Conjuring is still the one I find the most frightening.

READ ALSO: The True Story Behind my Ghost Photo

7. Poltergeist 1982 Rated-PG

A family’s home is haunted by a host of ghosts.

This is a good movie to introduce your teen to the horror genre because it is very PG. If you are afraid of clowns and televisions, it might keep you up at night but really it’s very mild. Of course, a little girl is imprisoned into another dimension via her tv so that was a little disturbing.

The creepiest thing about the whole movie was the fact that the house was built on a burial ground and apparently, no one bothered to move the bodies. Yikes. Buyer beware.

8. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974 Rated- NR

Two siblings and three of their friends en route to visit their grandfather’s grave in Texas end up falling victim to a family of cannibalistic psychopaths.

This is one of the most macabre horror movies, I’ve ever watched. I don’t know if it’s the fact that the Leatherface character is based on the serial killer, Ed Gein, the fact that they preface it by saying its a true story or just how creepy it is to think that something not supernatural but just evil could actually happen. Another good teachable moment for your teens.

I know one thing it taught me to never pick up hitchhikers, never go wandering off in Texas and always wear gym shoes so that I can run away from maniacs with chainsaws.

9. Nightmare on Elm Street 1984 Rated-R 

The monstrous spirit of a slain janitor seeks revenge by invading the dreams of teenagers whose parents were responsible for his untimely death.

Firstly, a teenaged Johnny Depp is in this horror movie so you have to watch it.  This is the perfect horror movie for teens because it is their age demographic. It was unique too in that it made us believe that the horrors we dream of in our nightmares could actually come true. It also made us feel isolated because no matter who the teens told, none of the adults seemed to believe them.

I don’t know about you but if I thought a burnt dude with daggers for fingers could attack and kill me while being a pervert in my nightmares and I could wake up dead, I’d be afraid to go to sleep too.

Best Horror movies, teen horror movies, best horror movies streaming, Best horror movies to introduce your teen to scary movies, Halloween, the Exorcist, Amityville horror, carrie, poltergeist, texas chainsaw massacre, nightmare on elm street, Friday the 13th, When a stranger calls

10. The Amityville Horror 1979 Rated-R

Newlyweds move into a large house where a mass murder was committed, and experience strange manifestations which drive them away.

This is the ultimate buyer beware story. Newlywed couple knowingly buys a house where a mass murder was committed because the price was so great. Unfortunately for them, it was too good to be true and the house came with a demon.

READ ALSO: The Walking Dead Season Premiere Gave me PTSD

Dad gets possessed. Mom is seeing things. The priest comes to bless the house and almost doesn’t live to tell the tale. The boys are maimed. The little girl is hanging with a demon pig and even the dog is being assaulted. The whole thing is a sh*t show but it’s scary because it was also touted as a “true story”.

 These are my best horror movies to introduce your teen to scary movies.

This is the list we started with because they’re classics. They are scary but they don’t have the special effects and gore of some of the newer ones. I feel like introducing teens to horror movies should be like lowering yourself into a warm bath, not too fast and not too sudden so no one gets hurt.

Best Horror movies, teen horror movies, best horror movies streaming, Best horror movies to introduce your teen to scary movies, Halloween, the Exorcist, Amityville horror, carrie, poltergeist, texas chainsaw massacre, nightmare on elm street, Friday the 13th, When a stranger calls, best horror movies to watch with your teens

Also, it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyways, watch the movies with your kids. Don’t let them watch them alone. You need to be there for moral support, to explain some of the themes and possibly the lingo back in the day.

Do you watch horror movies with your teens? What are your favorite teen horror movies?

 

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adventures by Disney, Japan, Teen Travel, vacation with teens, see the world, have teens will travel, family adventure, disney

Anyone who knows me knows that my dream would be to gift to my girls the world; a life filled with adventures. Of all the things I could give them, aside from kindness and tolerance, I’d love to introduce them to different cultures. I’d love to raise good human beings who were strong, independent.  Teen travel is so important. Start them young as babies and your vacation with teens will be an adventure you can share together.

It’s a very different life when you live in a bubble compared to when you’ve seen the world. I know it’s not possible or probable for most and I know that some people don’t care about global citizenship the way or to the degree that I do. It probably has a lot to do with my father not being from this country. It probably has more to do with spending my summers in Mexico.

This has always caused me to be more enthusiastic and open to adventure. Having a father whose first language was not English, made me more patient and tolerant of those who didn’t speak English. It made me want to learn other languages so that I could understand and communicate with others. This is why I spoke 4 languages by the time I graduated from college.

I appreciate the differences in people, places, and things. It’s more interesting to be surrounded by difference than sameness. My girls are falling into this same pattern. They see differences as an endless possibility for adventure and travel as the ultimate exploration. This is why I am so excited for Adventures by Disney. They have something for every family member.

READ ALSO: Top  Secret Tips to Rock Your Disney Vacation

As you know as a reader of my multiple posts about our trips to Disney World, Disneyland and on Disney Cruise line, we love Disney. The thing is you can take a short escape or a long one. You can travel in the United States or internationally. It really is a choose your own adventure Disney style and as anyone who has ever been to the happiest place on earth can attest to every adventure by Disney is different. Make of it what you and your family will.

Adventures by Disney offers many different destinations and new ways for travelers to experience the world’s most remarkable destinations with guidance, which is always nice especially if it’s your first time in a city or country. Teen travel is exciting and hectic because not only are our children changing at a dizzying pace, showing them the world is amazing. Adding a guided vacation with teens allows you to eliminate the frustration and just enjoy your time together.

In 2019, Adventures by Disney travelers will experience the captivating culture and rich diversity of Japan during a brand-new itinerary, with expeditions ranging from ancient locales steeped in tradition to fast-paced modern cities. Adventures by Disney collaborated with the Japan National Tourism Organization to create a trip that is both culturally authentic and deeply immersive. Whether exploring a breathtaking bamboo forest, centuries-old temple or high-tech metropolis, vacationers will be fully immersed in the ancient customs and storied traditions deeply rooted within this cultural wonderland.
During this 11-day, 10-night itinerary, travelers will visit Kyoto, Osaka, Takayama, Hakone and Tokyo.

In 2019, a reimagined Alberta, Canada itinerary will offer all-new adventures in Calgary, before traveling to breathtaking Banff National Park and the stunning Lake Louise. In Calgary, travelers will be welcomed as honorary citizens during a traditional ceremony before visiting some of the area’s ranches and farms.

Banff is one of the most beautiful places in the world that I’ve ever traveled to. I’ve not taken my family there yet. When I went I came home with an entirely new outlook on life and appreciation for natural beauty. There is something about standing amongst ancient glaciers and surrounded by pristine nature that makes you feel so small and lucky at the same time. Banff is on my family travel bucket list. I think this Adventure by Disney would be perfect for my family.

Adventures by Disney also recently announced an array of offerings that can be added to a Disney Cruise sailing. Talk about the ultimate land and sea vacation. In 2019, travelers can journey to unforgettable locales such as Barcelona and Copenhagen. All while enjoying renowned Disney service and storytelling. Can you even imagine?

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know about the Disney Dream. 

These unforgettable trips join dozens of Adventures by Disney vacations worldwide, including a new itinerary on France’s Seine River. Revel in the beauty of the sites of Paris while engaging in immersive activities for the whole family. Paris has been on my travel bucket list since I was in 7th grade.

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The 2019 Adventures by Disney land tours feature a wide variety of vacation destination options, something for every traveler. Families will find a wealth of unforgettable moments imbued with special touches that are uniquely Disney.

READ ALSO: Free Tips for Maximizing your Disney World Trip

If you prefer s short trip how about a best of Boston adventure? Treasured American history and contemporary culture come to life in Boston on the new Short Escape itinerary.

adventures by Disney, Japan, Teen Travel, vacation with teens, see the world, have teens will travel, family adventure, disney, boston

Guests are immersed in the city’s legendary stories. During a privately guided tour along the Freedom Trail, families follow 18th-century costumed guides back in time. A private, after-hours tour of the Old North Church places travelers in the famed footsteps of Paul Revere, while another special after-hours visit to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum concludes with a private dinner steeped in the city’s storied roots.

Other family-friendly excursions and activities include rowing along the Charles River and biking the city on a private sightseeing tour. Perfect for teens are exploring the grounds of Harvard Yard. Perfect for the entire family, indulging at a private New England clambake on Thompson Island.

I can tell you from going here every year with our children, there is no shortage of things to do in Boston. You could go back time and time again and still find things to do.

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Looking for the ultimate family vacation that’s teen friendly?  Whether you prefer beaches resorts or outdoor adventure, Adventures by Disney has you covered. What are you waiting for?

What Adventures by Disney trip would be perfect for you and your teens?

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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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ballet, dancer, cheerleader

This year, my youngest daughter decided that she wanted to try something new and she doesn’t want to dance anymore… for now. She wanted to try cheerleading. She’s been dancing since she was 2-years-old. I started to feel her pulling away from dance last year. I tried to resist. If you could see her do ballet, she is a natural; graceful and refined but she longs for something different.

She’s trying to escape the shadow of her sister and is tired of being referred to by most as simply, “Little Bella”. At school, everyone constantly compares her to her big sister. They mistake the 2 of them all the time. They call her by her sister’s name. People have asked if they are twins, despite the fact that they are 2 years apart and look very different and have even more different personalities.  I don’t see it. I never have. I see Bella and I see Gabi.

ballet, dancer, cheerleader

But Gabi has been feeling dwarfed by her big sister’s shadow. I was the big sister so I don’t know exactly how this feels. But I am sympathetic to her challenge.

Bella in the past 2 years has been diving head first into the deep end of ballet. She loves it and she wants to move forward. She’s in the youth company and she’s dedicated to the point where she has dropped every other extra-curricular activity that she was involved in. Bella knows that ballet is a sacrifice but she doesn’t mind.

READ ALSO: How to Raise Resilient Children When Everyone Gets a Trophy

Last year, Gabs wanted to do the same. Well, she wanted to be with her big sister. She joined the company and she was there a lot of hours for a ten-year-old. I was afraid it would overwhelm her. Yet, in the deepest recesses of my heart, I had daydreams of the two of them dancing Russian in Nutcracker together. I know it sounds stupid.

By the middle of last year, Gabi was overwhelmed and she quit the company before the 3rd production. I had to let her because she’s the one doing all the work but it hurt. It wasn’t what I had seen for her future.  I know ballet is not forever for them but I really wanted to see them perform together on stage.

ballet, dancer, cheerleader

Then this summer, she told me that she was not doing Youth company and she wasn’t sure that she even wanted to dance. She wanted to cheer with her friends. Bella used to cheer but she’s always been more of a ballerina than a cheerleader. There is a big difference. Both take a lot of work but it’s different.

Anyways, Gabs told me that she was only going to do 1 of her recommended 3 classes and she was going to do pointe and tap. I knew, in my heart, this was letting go. She had one foot in each world. I’ve been watching her cheer and she loves it. Whether it is being with her friends or just the freedom to be loud and unrestrained, she seems happier. She looks like she can finally exhale.

ballet, dancer, cheerleader

But she is such an amazing dancer. She is one of those people with so much natural rhythm and grace that it is almost a shame to not dance. She is one of the most beautiful dancers I’ve ever seen. Her lines are exquisite. Plus, when you are dancing, you are the star. Even when you are part of the corps, you are still dancing in a spotlight. Cheerleading is being the support for a team. It’s being the woman behind the man and that makes me cringe, just a little bit. But she lights up.

She was doing both. In fact, she insisted that she audition for the Nutcracker this year when I was sure that she would want to sit this one out. She cheers at games a couple times a week and then there is practice plus her dance classes. But she was adamant about auditioning.

Recently,  the cast list went up and when she saw that she was assigned a part that she has done twice previously, one that she did not do last year because she had leveled up, she was heartbroken and there was nothing I could do.

READ ALSO: What’s so Special About the Nutcracker

I tried to explain to her tiny heart broken into a million tiny pieces that when you straddle too many worlds you do them all disservice. You can’t give half the effort and expect twice the results. You have to give the dedication and hard work to move forward; to move up. It’s so hard to explain this concept to someone so young.

After a long, long cry she came to me and told me, very maturely, that she doesn’t want to dance anymore for now. She feels overwhelmed doing cheer and ballet because both schedules are demanding.

On the inside, my heart was breaking because I feel like she is making a mistake. I feel like she has a gift for ballet and she is throwing an opportunity away but then I remind myself, it is her gift to do with what she may.  I can’t force her to do the work and I don’t want to make her hate it.

ballet, dancer, cheerleader

So, I told her that she can take the year off. She will still be doing barre work and bands at home and at the end of the school year, we will reassess. Maybe she’ll realize that she misses performing and dancing. Maybe she will be glad to have it off of her plate but either way, I will always be here to support her and love her.

But, in my mamma heart, I still have big dreams of my girls dancing Russian together on the stage together. For now, you can find me on the football field cheering on the cheerleaders, at the ballet cheering on my ballerina and at home telling them both that they can be anything they are willing to work hard for and nothing worth having is free. I’ll keep leading by example and hope that’s enough.

Either way, it’s not about me. It’s about them. My hope is to raise good, hardworking, honest, self-confident girls who feel like they can come to me and talk about everything when they need to. I will listen and try not to judge. Make good choices girls but also, I will be here to guide you because that’s what moms do…even when we’re letting you choose. We let go, even when we want to hold on tighter.

The bottom line is we can’t force our children to do anything that doesn’t bring them joy and expect them to excel at it. They have to do the work and we have to respect that. But we can hope.

What have you had to let go of and let your child make the decision for themselves?

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The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

I can’t believe that Nutcracker season is already here. If you’re a ballet mom or a ballerina, you know that we mark time by Nutcracker and Swan Lake seasons. It is common knowledge that the weekend after Labor Day, Nutcracker season begins. You can’t even imagine the excitement in my neck of the woods ( the ballet studio) about the upcoming movie Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

While the rest of the world is celebrating Pumpkin Spice season, we’re celebrating the Nutcracker Season. This is our life for the next 4 months and we love every single second of it (mostly). Little kids tend to complain in the middle of it but the moment they take the stage and bask in the glow of the house lights, the magic is worth every single rehearsal, sore foot, and achy hamstrings. Believe me when I tell you that ballet dancers are more than graceful, nymph-like fairy creatures… they are fierce, elite athletes. Don’t be fooled by the tutus and pointe shoes. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to look that graceful.

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READ ALSO: What’s so Special about the Nutcracker?

My girls have been dancing since they were 2-years-old. It started with creative dance classes, once a week for ½ an hour. Now, at ages 11 and 13-years-old, they dance 5–12 hours a week, respectively and this is with scaling their schedules back. They love to dance but the intensity and dedication can be a little overwhelming and challenging, though embraced, for children this young. The commitment and passion are real.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

My husband laughs at me because every time I watch them perform, my heart swells with pride and my eyes leak because I’m so proud of them. I’ve been driving them and watching practices and rehearsals since they’ve been toddlers and what the audience sees as a few minutes, I know the hours, years and dedication it has taken to get to that one minute. I have never been so devoted to anything, except for being their mother. So for these young ladies and gentleman to give so much of themselves makes me proud of them in ways that are hard to put into words.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

Nutcracker is one of our biggest productions. Our ballet produces one of Forbes Magazine’s top 10 Nutcracker productions in the country. That’s a big reputation to live up to every year and still, every year, our creative director rises to the challenge and levels up in new and unexpected ways. Each year the Nutcracker is more magical than the last.

We had auditions last weekend and soon, we’ll find out what parts the girls have been assigned. This is my Bella’s 9th Nutcracker and will be Gabi’s 6th Nutcracker season. It’s something we look forward to every year and celebrate as a family. Nutcracker and family night, celebrated with some sugary indulgence befitting of the Land of Sweets.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

My girls and all of their friends are excited to see Disney’s new big screen version of our favorite classic ballet, the Nutcracker and the Four Realms. I’m interested in seeing the adaptation and how Disney tells the story of Clara’s adventures. The synopsis is as follows.

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The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key – a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key—which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets.

Misty Copeland, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key. Hopefully, returning harmony to the unstable world. Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Disney’s new holiday feature film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston. Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms is inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale.

Misty Copeland, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

This part, the Fourth Realm and the idea of Mother Ginger as a villain have me very intrigued. I can’t wait to take my daughters to see how the story unfolds in mysterious and intriguing new ways. You know with a little Disney pixie dust, Clara’s adventure can only get more magical.

Have you seen the Nutcracker classic ballet on stage? If you have, it’s probably close to your heart and surrounded by a lifetime of fond memories.

Nutcracker, ballet, ballerina, Christmas traditionAre you looking forward to seeing Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms?

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