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.

Mother's Day, Mother's Day gift, girl mom

Moms will tell you they want nothing for Mother’s Day. Some will tell you that you are enough. Your cute little faces and your sticky little hands. She means it, for about an hour Mother’s Day morning while you are serving her breakfast in bed and handing her sweet homemade gifts. They really are the best Mother’s Day gifts of all; tiny handprints and papier Mache flowers made with love and baby spit add to it a sweetly scribbled I love you by your little one and you are mommy mush.

But that’s not what she really wants. What every mother wants for Mother’s Day is the day off. No cleaning. No dishes. No laundry. No cooking. No obligations.

Quite frankly, the best Mother’s Day gift is the day off from mom duty.

Don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s us. Just kidding, it’ you.

Being a mom is amazing. I love being a mom 364 days a year. Ok, maybe it’s more like 355 days a year but I need days off people. Even the janitor gets 2 days off a week.

But most moms are too afraid to say it out loud because they don’t want to offend anyone, least of all aforementioned children and the man who helped make this dream of motherhood come true. But if I’m being completely honest, and I am speaking on behalf of 99.9% of the moms (I know because I took an unofficial poll of moms drinking wine and dropping truth bombs) we all want the day off.

I want to sleep in until I wake up. Then by all means, please bring me a hot breakfast in bed with milky hot coffee. Spoiler alert, mommy does not like cold food. I never have, baby. To be honest, cold food is kind of disgusting. I’d rather not eat at all. I’ve been faking it for years.

I don’t want to do anything. I want no obligations. I want to move freely in the world with no one tethered to my side. I want to play the music I want to hear at the degree of loudness I want to listen to it and I want to dance without you looking at me like I’m a weirdo.

I want to watch whatever R rated movie or mind-numbing television I want to watch with no regard for what you want to do. I want to take a long, hot bath with no one knocking on the door or hearing bickering children. I want more out of life than an unlocked, half-open bathroom door where I take a semi-private timed race piss. I want privacy.

I want time to be able to fix my hair, put on my makeup, iron my clothes and get ready without having to be somewhere. I don’t want to get ready while you rush me because I need to taxi you someplace I never wanted to go in the first place. And no, your obnoxious friend who never shuts up and is entirely too loud cannot come over today. No child that hasn’t sprung from my vagina cannot be in my house on Mother’s Day. Go bother your own mom.

I don’t want to have to break up any sibling fights. Suffer the wrath of any rolling eyeballs or be subjected to listening to endless hours of you. On this one sacred day, can it please be about me? For the love of God, can I eat strawberry ice cream? You are probably wondering what the hell I mean by this.

It has come to my attention recently that my favorite ice cream is fresh strawberry ice cream. However, fresh strawberry ice cream will never be found in my house. Want to know why? Because my children don’t like strawberry ice cream and apparently, I live my life around their happiness and forget about my own. Well, not today suckers! I am eating strawberry ice cream while drinking vodka and watching a Fifty Shades of Gray marathon. Just kidding, no fucking way am I wasting my day off watching a movie whose book reads like it was written by an illiterate teenager.

Mostly, I want to have choices to do what I want to do, free of the influence of what everyone else around me wants to do. I think all moms deserve a day off to spend however they want to without guilt or retribution. If she wants to spend it with you, she’ll call you. You don’t have to call her.

I won’t lie, I am pretty lucky. The Big Guy figured me out around my 3rd Mother’s Day. He came in and said, don’t lift a finger. I’ll take care of everything. Take the day off. And that’s when I decided he’s never getting rid of me. We are lobsters. I’m never taking my claws off him. This man gets me.

So if you think taking mom to brunch and making her hang out with the kids all day is what mother’s day is all about, you have missed the memo. We get it. We’re moms. We do it every single day. If you want to make things special. Take the kids to the park or the movies and give mom time to relax and think, maybe catch up on her favorite binge-watching a show or take that long hot bath with her 80’s music blaring. Give her time to miss you and appreciate the kids. Hell, go crazy take them away for the weekend. Come back on Sunday for the celebration.

If you want to throw some flowers, chocolate, and diamonds at us, we don’t mind. Those are the cherries on top of motherhood. But what we really want is the day off to do what we want. Think of it this way dads, on Father’s day, you probably don’t spend the day at home being held, hostage. Most dad’s get the day to go golfing or bowling or whatever it is that men like to do without kids. Why is that? Because sometimes you just want to feel like a human and not just someone’s parent. Well, we moms…we feel the same way.

Don’t get me wrong, we love those little people we created (probably more than you, if we’re being honest. After all, we’ve been known to horde teeth and umbilical cords. Some of us have even sucked snot out of babies noses and masticated their food. (not me of course. I’d never do that to food. Besides babies don’t eat cucumbers 😉 ) The thing is all good things in moderation.

We will happily accept your gifts and your notes but know, what we really want is peace and permission to be ourselves; a day to exhale. I guess what I’m really trying to say is just give mom a lot of love and a little space this Mother’s Day.

But in all seriousness, be kind to all the moms you know; yours, the mother of your children, your friends who are pregnant and even those desperately struggling to become pregnant and especially those moms who have lost babies and those who have lost their moms. And really, be kind to your mom every day, once a year is not nearly enough to show ample affection for the woman who gave you life.

What’s the best Mother’s Day gift you ever received and what’s at the top of your list?

P.S. I Love you, mom.

! Happy Mother’s Day!

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miscarriage, loss, pregnancy, I forgot, fertility, motherlode, babble.com, babble, amy klein

I Forgot

It was a crazy busy day last Tuesday.

I was flying across the country.

Headed to a conference for this blog.

Excited to see old friends.

Trepidatious for a reason I couldn’t quite place.

I Forgot.

6 years ago on that day.

All I could do was cry.

I lost my baby.

There was no heartbeat.

I turned primal and feral.

But today, I forgot.

READ ALSO: Unexpected  Pregnancy at 40, what would you do?

Every day, I think of that day.

Every moment, I know something is missing.

There is no closure but I have made peace with the pain.

It took 6 years to not wince at the thought of it.

But today, I was busy with minutia and there was no marking of time.

I Forgot.

The lady next to me on the plane had a beautiful little boy.

He climbed into my lap and held my face.

I was moved.

His little arms and legs, that smile.

I’ve missed it.

READ ALSO: Missing that New Baby Smell

But on the plane, I Forgot.

I arrived and met my friends.

I was weary and distracted,

Discombobulated and put out.

Disconnected and distant.

I was there but I wasn’t.

That’s when I realized that maybe I hadn’t remembered to cry

but my heart did not forget and it never will.

Have you ever forgotten an important day in your life and if you have, how did you deal with that?

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raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls

If you read last week’s part 1 of tips for raising teenage girls and you’ve returned, welcome back. You are certainly among friends. Raising teen girls is difficult regardless of how the kid behaves. She can be the most complacent, compliant, sweet teenage girl of all teenage girls and you will still need to know these tips because there is a hormonal storm brewing inside that child and it is our responsibility as parents, to try and make the transition as easy as possible.

Not like we can have any kind of control of what they are thinking or how they are feeling or how any of it is going to land on them. Just remember puberty is like a bomb going off inside of a girl. She has no idea how to deal with all of these emotions, her body and the sexual way she might be feeling towards boys (or girls). It’s all okay. We don’t have to fix it. We just have to be there to listen and understand.

READ ALSO: Faster than a Speeding Bullet.

I know you are going to have days where you feel at your wits end. I’ve got a tween and a teenage girl, so this happens to me quite a bit these days. I’ve learned to try and not take it personally. The truth is it hurts. There is nothing wrong with taking a minute to react. Sometimes you just have to step back, take a breath and think about what you are about to do because blowing up at a teenage girl is about as helpful as carrying a paper umbrella in a monsoon.It’s actually ridiculous and someone might get hurt.

raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls

Here are my Next 5 Tips for Raising Teenage Girls

The time for catching your teenager when they fall is over. It’s time to help them up when they stumble because they have to learn some lessons on their own.

Obviously, no one wants to watch their child get hurt. When they were learning to walk, I sheltered them; catching them before they fell. But as parents to teenage girls, you have to let go a little. This is when they learn to make good choices on their own. This is when we have to have a little faith in all the parenting we have done up until now. We have to teach them to live in this world without us, so we have to learn to trust them to make those good choices.

READ ALSO: Parent the Kids You Have

Alone time with your teenager.

Bella hit 13 and it suddenly became abundantly clear to me that our time together under the same roof, seeing her sweet sleepy face stumble into my kitchen every morning and kissing me good morning are coming quickly to an end. I have 5 years and it is not enough so make time to have alone time with your teenage girls. They may not seem like they need or want it but they do, more than ever. These alone times are when they feel free to ask you questions and talk freely. Do something they like. It doesn’t even matter what it is. It’s not about what you do or where you go, it’s about the time together. Always remember that.

Privacy for your teenager.

They are no longer children. My tween and teenage girls are starting to look a lot more like young ladies and a lot less like children but they still need parental guidance. At the same time, they need and deserve privacy to think and be alone with their thoughts. This is a delicate balance of letting go and holding on. Check-in. I know my girls need space sometimes, so do I. They are trying to figure out all of this too. Their bodies are changing. Their minds are focusing on different things. It’s like being reborn and your own skin doesn’t feel like it fits anymore and everyone you know is going through the same thing. You love it but you kind of hate it but mostly, you need space to figure it all out without someone over your shoulder at every moment. But remember to let them know you are still there, whenever they need you.

raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls

Love your teenager for who they are, not who you want them to be. They are a person, they have free thought and you have to give them the independence to explore who they are becoming.

Just love them no matter what even when you don’t completely understand or you think they are overreacting to something you know will pass. You know because you’ve already lived through it. Remember, when you are a teenage girl and going through these things for the first time, you don’t have the benefit of experience or wisdom. It is huge. Also, the teen years are for figuring out what you like and believe independent of your parents and those around you, so give them that space and don’t discourage them because they aren’t just like you were or are. Just remember how much you love them and remind them that you will keep on loving them, no matter what. Love them unconditionally. No matter how big they get, they are still your child and will always need your love and support.

READ ALSO: What to do when You Catch a Child Lying

Listen to your teenager.

Teenage girls like to talk a lot. A lot of it is not relevant to your life. I can tell you my girls love to share with me all the business of everyone they know or will ever know and everything that is going on in their world. 95% of it is not that pertinent to my life but what is very important to my life is them and keeping those lines of communication open. Sometimes you have to listen to a lot of stories about Kayley’s sister’s best friend’s boyfriend to hear one nugget of who your own teenage daughter is crushing on and how she is feeling and what is going on with that. You need to be there for that and they need to know you are listening so put on your best “interested” face and listen because it’s worth it when they talk to you about the important things.

Hope you’ll come back next week when I’ll share the last of my 5 tips for raising teenage girls (so far).

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raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls, Madison Hu, Olivia Rodrigo, #DisneySMMC

I’m officially the mom of a tween girl and a teen girl and honestly, I’ve been afraid of raising teenage girls ever since I was a teenage girl. Hormones make teenage girls feel crazy and I was awful in so many ways. I occasionally read my old diaries to remind myself that I was the worst. This allows me to have some patience with my own teenage girl.

Don’t get me wrong, I got straight A’s and I didn’t smoke or drink or do drugs but I was driving at 13 and going to clubs in downtown Chicago since I was 14. But it was very innocent because I was so naïve. I know how ridiculous it sounds.

We’ve hit that point in raising teenage girls where I can’t say, “When I was your age…” because I’ll be ratting myself out and giving them too many bad ideas. I would die if Bella wanted to drive my car or, heaven forbid, asked to go to a club in the city. I’d be too worried. Apparently, I am way less cool than my mom must have been. I want to tell my girls to keep singing at the top of their lungs when the rest of the world tells them to be quiet. That’s the kind of mom I want to be.

What were my parents thinking? Maybe I didn’t even ask. Maybe I bent the truth as to where I was going and what I was doing. I can’t even remember. I’m sure my teen brain rationalized it somehow. I just know I was doing a lot of things that could have gone really terribly and been pretty dangerous, only I was too stupid and pumped up on hormones to realize it.

READ ALSO: Dear Me: A Love Letter to my 13-Year-Old Self

My youth was not misspent, it was very much lived and I have no regrets but the thought of my girls doing some of the things that I did, scares the hell out of me. I’ve spent some time reflecting on what it really means to be raising teenage girls and figuring out how to get through this phase with our relationship intact and without them doing anything that puts their lives in too much extraneous danger.

raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls

Here are my tips for raising teenage girls (and tween girls) that I’ve learned so far.

Let them be who they are meant to become.

You have to stand back to give them space to make mistakes and not judge them and tell them that you told them so. You’re a parent so your main job is to love unconditionally and support them, even when they don’t make the choice you would’ve recommended. The difficulty of this task is not lost on this reformed helicopter mom.

Speak positively.

As a mom, for the past 13 years, I’ve had to learn to lose the sarcasm and learn to speak more positively. Thankfully, for all of us, I was getting my Masters in Elementary Education when I got pregnant with Bella and so I had a couple years of actual courses that taught me how to interact with small children. Positive reinforcement is always better than punishment, so moms, always look for the sunny side, even in the teen years.

Remember to breathe and count to ten.

This one is hard for me sometimes. Patience is not something that comes naturally to me. I am very much a speak first then think kind of person. But, especially since entering the tween years, I’ve made it a point to stop and step back for a moment before reacting. That doesn’t always work because I’m a human but just the fact that I am cognizant of the situation helps me to react better to my girls.

READ ALSO: How to Talk to your Tween about Everything

See past the eye rolls.

Oh, the amount and severity of eye rolls that I have endured while on my journey to raising teen girls has been head spinning. I find this tween/ teen habit to be particularly offensive but I try to remember how often I rolled my eyes at my parents (and still do to people on a daily basis) and I try not to be too offended. I know it’s not personal, teen girls think everyone and everything is stupid. This is their defense for when they don’t understand, don’t approve or don’t know what else to say. I’m not even sure they know they are doing it anymore so don’t take it personally and if you can, ignore it. Easier said than done.

raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls

It’s good to have expectations but don’t force your agenda on them. You can’t relive your life through them.

Your teenage daughter is not your chance to relive your youth. Don’t force them to be who you were; who you wish you were or who you could never have been. My philosophy is that they are people and by the time they are teenagers, they have formed some thoughts and beliefs of their own. You have acquired wisdom from living through it already once so be there to guide them and offer advice but you cannot tell them what to like or enjoy. They are their own people. Let them be fierce. 

These are my tips for raising teenage girls (and tween girls) that I’ve learned so far.

Well, I started writing this post and it ended up being very long, so I am making it a 3 part series. I will publish the rest of the 15 tips over the next weeks.

What are your tips for raising teenage girls?

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lying, What to do when you catch a child lying, tween, mom, how to talk to your tween about sex, mother/daughter

Do you know what to do when you catch a child lying? How do you handle it? Do you call them out? Do you go along with the lie? Does it depend on the circumstances? The age of the child? Or do you have a strict zero-tolerance policy for lies? If you would have asked me before I had children, I would have said I have no tolerance but life is seldom so black and white.

My daughter has a friend; she’s bright, funny, kind and caring. However, she is a compulsive liar. These lies of hers are not even told maliciously. To be honest, I’m not sure that she even knows what the truth is anymore.

For the longest time, I just listened (as you do to toddlers when they tell you tall tales). I shake my head in agreement and throw in the occasional, “WOW”, to let her know that I’m engaged in her story. But lately, they’ve become so obviously embellished that I realized that pretending to accept these tall tales is not helping her but encouraging the behavior. She’s not my child so what do I do?

I can’t very well have an awkward conversation with her mom telling her that her child is a proficient and avid liar. I’m pretty sure that would go over like a lead balloon. I get it. We mama bears, we don’t want to hear crazy talk from other kids’ moms.

The problem is that they are not toddlers so the other kids are figuring out that she might just be exaggerating in her storytelling. Honestly, these are not small exaggerations they are refutable, fact-checkable lies that she tells with a straight face and is convinced they are the truth or at least wants to convince us that they are.

For example, she told me that a couple weeks ago she was at Walt Disney World with her family when they were riding the “Tower of Terror” when the roller coaster went upside down and they were stuck for hours but were eventually rescued when firefighters arrived and told them to all unbuckle their seat belts and fall to safety. Can you spot the falsehoods in that statement? I can. There are actually so many that I think my mouth may have actually fallen agape while she was telling me the story. Obviously, I could easily Google all of this and know that none of this happened. I’m pretty sure something like this would have made the national news.

The other teens were audibly laughing at the lies because they were so obvious. I could see that she was getting embarrassed by the whisper snickering (that I was adamantly reprimanding on the down low). Still, she continued on. She dug in.

I wasn’t sure what to do but there was no way I was letting this kid go down in flames like this. These sorts of things can really damage a kid’s self-confidence.

But who really knows what to do when you catch a child lying?

She continued on with her stories. She was talking about her IQ of 194 and how she’s enrolled in classes at Harvard for homeschool. She said that she could go to medical school now but she’s not ready to do the residency, “and live with a mentor doctor”. Then, she told the other girls that she spoke 4 languages. This was her fatal flaw because she said 2 of the languages were 2 languages that I actually speak.

My youngest daughter said, “Oh, my mom speaks Italian and French. Say something to her.”

The girl spat out a line of gibberish with o’s at the end of it, really fast. I did not say anything because we were on our way to dinner and I didn’t want to make it my business to embarrass this kid in front of the other teens. But she kept saying gibberish to me as if she were demanding an answer. Finally, I whispered to her, “I don’t know what language you are speaking but those are not any words that I recognize.” I felt terrible but what was I supposed to do? I couldn’t play along, that would only encourage more lying.

Then, she continued on talking about her IQ and telling us how smart she is. Now, believe me when I tell you that this girl is very intelligent. She is obviously lacking in common sense and very naïve but I’m not sure where this need to lie originates from.

My guess, from knowing her since she was a small child, is that it must be some sort of cry for attention. I think she feels like she needs to impress other people and she feels that what she is is not enough. The thing is if you knew this kid, she is very impressive. She is very intelligent and very well-rounded and cultured.

I tried to shift the focus to her real strengths to try and make her see that she is more than good enough. I didn’t dwell on the exaggerations. I also didn’t call her out. I moved on to the strengths she has that I know for a fact she possesses. I even commiserated with her to give her credit. She knew enough to tell me that anything over 140 is a genius. I know this because, not to brag…well, maybe a little, mine is 147. So we high fived for being in the genius club (me just barely but still, it counts) and I listened intently while she explained that she was taking classes at Harvard, even though I am pretty sure that is not true. I asked if they were AP courses. I asked non-threatening questions that made her seem less crazy and more forgetful.

Maybe I shouldn’t have but, like I said, I think her exaggerations are committed out of a need to impress her friends and less out of a desire to try to dupe anyone. But it needs to stop before some stranger kid decides laughing at her to her face is ok. Some kid is going to call her out to her face and she is going to feel ridiculous and I don’t want that for her. That’s why I kindly, whispered that I did not recognize any of the words coming out of her face to be any of the languages that I spoke.

I thought raising teens was going to have its challenges but I had no idea that I’d find myself in the position where I had to worry about the egos of other people’s children. Yet, I do constantly. I don’t want any part of breaking anyone.

I remember my own brokenness started from a blow that began the crack when I was 12.

“Mija, you need to run more.”

Those 6 words set me on a path of self-destruction at almost killed me. The brain likes to twist and bend things at that age. Our mind is like a funhouse mirror complicated by hormones and insecurity. As a mom, it’s my job to guide the girls through this horror show with minimal damage but when something does hurt them, I make it my business to try to be the glue rather than the hammer.

This is what to do when you catch a child lying.

 

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LG SideKick, LG washing system, laundry, laundry hack, how to finally get caught up on laundry

Disclaimer: I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free but all opinions on how to finally get caught up on laundry are my own.

We are leaving for a huge family trip tomorrow. There are only four of us but it’s an 11-day trip with 4 different changes of venue and it’s on land and sea, in a completely different climate than where we live. There’s been a lot of planning and packing and unearthing of summer clothes.

We leave for our first ever Disney Social Media Mom’s Conference and we’re thrilled but it’s been, seriously, between minus 10 degrees and the 50 degrees it was yesterday. Midwest weather is varied; you can get four seasons in one day if you play your cards right. I checked the weather in Orlando and it’s going to be a solid 87 all week, to a Midwesterner, that roughly translates into about 100 degrees.

The girls have been packed for months. No lie. Tweens get excited and determined and there is no stopping them. Of course, I drive them mad because packing is something I like to do the night before. I’ve done enough traveling in my lifetime that I can pack for a month in about 2 hours but my girls weren’t having it so I had to pack last weekend (I’ve already forgotten what I’ve packed). I also went through their bags and to my dismay found too much of somethings and not one of the vital necessities.

Since they packed in October, they’ve just been adding to the pile (the one that grew atop their actual suitcases) which turned into emergency clothes when they needed them. Basically, they packed and then have been pulling from the luggage for the past few weeks. Their luggage is like a fridge that has a whole bunch of food but none of it goes together to make an actual meal. It was especially missing a couple vital components; undergarments, socks and the vital summer clothes that I had not yet unearthed from the attic.

All the laundry is done. I hate to travel and leave behind a house in disarray and I definitely don’t want to return to laundry. But as I opened the luggage last night to put a couple items into another suitcase because yes, there is separate luggage for each of the 4 venues, I found they had once again pulled from the luggage. So tonight I have to do one last load of towels and a few loads of delicates because underwear, bras and socks for 11 days for 4 people is a lot. And while you can certainly wash socks and underwear with towels, throwing bras in the mix would be a bad idea unless you don’t mind twisting up and ripping up your expensive delicates. This will take more time than I wanted to spend on this task because of having to wash separately. Now, only if there was a way to do them separately at the same time without having to go to a laundromat. Wait. Do they even still have those?

Anyways, there is. LG has a twin washing system.  What does that mean? It means I could wash a giant load of towels, undies and socks while also watching my more delicates in a separate load simultaneously. WHAT?? HOW??

The LG SideKick! The ingenious LG SideKick pedestal washer can be added to almost any LG front load washer to tackle two loads of laundry — both large and small — at the same time.

This is perfect for those small loads that are a big deal. LG SideKick is discretely styled with a concealed control panel, it not only functions as a secondary washer but also raises your front-loading washer to a comfortable height and matches the pedestal beneath your LG dryer.

  • 1.0 cu. ft. capacity is just the right size for cleaning smaller loads as often as you need.
  • Delicates, hand washables, and workout wear get the special care they deserve. Or that late Sunday night uniform shirt that was on the floor on the other side of the bed and has to be clean for Monday morning.
  • The LG direct drive motor has fewer moving parts for greater efficiency, plus a 10-year warranty
  • Magnetic remote control offers a convenient way to start, stop, or select a cycle.

The innovative LG TWIN Wash is all about efficiency, helping you get more clothes cleaner in less time. With a combined capacity of up to 6.6 cu. ft., the TWIN Wash boasts an ergonomically elevated and angled door that makes loading and unloading easier. Plus, the LED control panel is located on the door, right at your fingertips.

  • TurboWash 2.0 feature saves up to 30 minutes on larger loads with outstanding cleaning performance
  • TurboSteam technology deeply penetrates fabrics for greater cleaning power
  • The full-width lid helps prevent spills thanks to an easy-to-fill detergent tray with recessed design

This is the best of both worlds and perfect for busy moms who need to multitask to get all the things done.  I want this system for my home. If I had it, I could do both loads at the same time and use my time for other things. The LG Twin Wash system which includes LG Front Load laundry paired with LG’s SideKick Pedestal Washer is available at Best Buy

Not only do these washers have mega capacity to tackle any size load, they are energy efficient while giving you the best cleaning performance. Clean clothes that are convenient and good for the environment.

Bonus: From 1/11-4/25 you can receive up to $500 off an LG laundry solution for your home.

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florida school shooting, gun control, alan feis, Nikolas Cruz, Parkland Florida, High School shooting

Yesterday, 17 unsuspecting students and adults, including Aaron Feis, were murdered in a South Florida school shooting massacre by 19 -year-old, Nikolas Cruz. Gun control failed us again. The gunman, Nikolas Cruz, 19, pulled the fire alarm shortly before 3 pm at his former high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. As the students and faculty exited the building, he started shooting at them like fish in a barrel. But that wasn’t enough for Nikolas, he followed the people running back inside for cover and targeted those huddled in classrooms hiding. Then, he blended in with the students exiting and evacuated the school. He was arrested later that day in Coral Springs.

They’re calling it the “Florida School Shooting” to differentiate it from the other recent school shootings because they happen so frequently now. This is how we measure life and death now, by geographical location. Quick somebody drop a pin so we know where to send the SWAT team next. I’m not being funny. I am utterly disgusted at how little life means to the people of this country. We’ve done nothing since Sandy Hook. Gun control is still the same shit show it ever was.

You know, the world makes fun of helicopter moms but we’re just being rational in an irrational world. How are we ever supposed to let our children go out into the world without worrying ourselves into an early grave? No wonder so many people homeschool now because at least there you can keep your child safe. Thank God for men like Aaron Feis.

Are you there God? Where were you on Ash Wednesday 2018 when 17 people were murdered by a disgruntled ex-student, Nikolas Cruz in the Florida School shooting? What makes a person hate the world so much that they want to kill anyone and everyone that is not as miserable as they are? Don’t tell me mental illness. It’s meanness. It’s calculated. It’s evil and its people killing people with guns because they can because everywhere you turn guns are readily available. If you can’t buy the gun you want, you can buy a gun and modify it. If they won’t sell you a gun because by some miracle your crazy ass is on a list, you can build it by buying parts on the Internet. Why is this not regulated?

Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 cases of premeditated murder. News at 11. It was said on one newscast so matter a factly that you would have thought they were talking about a baby monkey being born at the local zoo. What kind of world are we living in? Where is the outrage? Where are the grief-stricken parents of the living students with pitchforks and torches demanding that our government do something? I mean, of course without a whole lot of people make a whole lot of stink the government is not going to do shit because they got paid a whole lot of money not to.

Former classmates said they were not surprised at the identity of the suspected shooter. Cruz loved showing off guns, student Eddie Bonilla told CNN affiliate WFOR.

“We actually, a lot of kids threw jokes around Iike that, saying that he’s the one to shoot up the school, but it turns out everyone predicted it. It’s crazy,” Bonilla recalled.

Why did no one call the police on this kid? He was clearly exhibiting unstable behaviors.

Cruz had once been expelled from the high school over disciplinary problems, Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.

 

He purchased the gun legally. He passed the background check. At 18 you can buy an assault-style weapon but you have to be 21 to buy a handgun. Let that sink in for a minute.

I find it interesting that as they were interviewing former classmates of Nikolas Cruz they were saying things like yeah, sure, Nikolas was the guy most likely to shoot up the school. He had lots of guns. The faculty at one point forbid him from carrying a backpack because of the fear that something exactly like this might happen. Yet, here we are. It happened and instead of anyone stopping him, they all just shake their head and go, we knew he’d do something like this. What the f*ck?

“This has been a day where we’ve seen the worst of humanity. Tomorrow is gonna bring out the best in humanity as we come together to move forward from this unspeakable tragedy,” Runcie said.

This is supposed to be our consolation. Humanity is going to be “better” for a few days.Celebrities are going to tweet out their prayers and condolences. Regular people are going to feign outrage without actually ever doing anything about it becoming themselves willing parts of the problem. Yeah, like the days and weeks after Sandy Hook. Nothing has changed. There are more school shootings than ever. I mean, what are the statistics for the likelihood of your child getting shot or murdered at school these days?

What’s worse, our government makes sure that these weapons are available because it’s a “constitutional right”. So when it’s your kid, or your wife or your husband or mom or dad who gets shot in the face and murdered just living their life tell me how important the freedom to have guns really is. I dare you to. I wouldn’t stand too close to me when you did it.

I keep seeing images of the teacher with ashes on her head, the hero Aaron Feis and a girl with a mylar balloon. It was probably one of the best days of this teen girl’s high school life and now, it will always be one of the worst days of her life. It’s traumatic and I think it’s the worst kind of monster who attacks people at their most vulnerable. Why do these shooters never open fire where there are trained people ready to protect themselves? Because they are cowards and they are afraid. They want to exact horror by murdering innocent, unsuspecting people because then they have the upper hand. Better yet, be a real man, come pick a fight…hand-to-hand with someone your own size and get your ass kicked the way it deserves to be. But they won’t because they are cowards of the worst kind.

But you know who are the bigger cowards? The politicians who allow the NRA to buy their votes. They value money over human life. Worse still the parents who fight for the right to bear arms and then send their children into the world to be slaughtered by people with guns. If not for yourself, do it for your children. Unless we are going to train and start sending every student to school with a weapon to protect themselves or impose real gun control, then we need to all be sterilized because I’d rather not bring a child into this world than to bring one into this world to be murdered by an NRA enthusiast.

We live in a world where every drop off good bye could be “the goodbye”. I know this. You know this. We choose our words more carefully. We hold tighter. We coddle. We spoil because any minute could be the minute someone sprays the hallways of the elementary school with bullets and paints the walls red with the blood of babies… our babies..my babies and your babies. Anyone’s babies because that is the truly scary part, no one is safe. Not even the child of a parent who is a staunch supporter of the NRA because a gunman with a semi-automatic weapon doesn’t stop to ask.

How do you explain to a parent who’s lost everything that your right to bear arms trumps their child’s right to life?

It feels like I’ve written this piece a few hundred times before because I think I have. Why have I? Why does this keep happening? Why does our government stand by and do nothing but come up with sound bites and excuses? Why do we the people accept this? When is enough too much? When it’s our own child whose tiny body lays limp and lifeless in the quad? When it’s our child who cowers and hides for hours as some person with a gun plays a sick game of hide and seek where if you’re found… you’re dead? When it’s your child, who even if they’re lucky enough to survive they are damaged forever. They are not the same child you sent to school that morning and that child may not have died but they are never coming back.

Nikolas Cruz, Parkland Florida, High School shooting

We live in a world where our children have to think fast enough to put their backpacks full of books on before running for their lives just to try to avoid getting shot in the spine. They have to remember to bob and weave. They have to stay silent and stifle tears and terror while their friend a foot away is shot dead in front of them. They have to play dead and pray the shooter doesn’t issue a kill shot to the head “just to be sure”.

Do something!! Stop waiting for your government to figure it out. Demand that they do something to protect our children. When is enough ever going to be enough? How many children have to be slaughtered in the streets, how much blood has to be on our hands before we have the balls to stand united and demand that there be stricter gun control and regulations on parts being bought? We need to make it impossible for everyone to get guns. It shouldn’t be a right, it should be a privilege and if you don’t earn it, you don’t deserve it. If you are not mentally equipped and stable enough to own and trained to operate a weapon, you should not be able to purchase one.

I know gun advocates like to say they need guns to protect themselves from intruders and government. To you I say, 1 you are more likely to be shot with your own gun from an intruder and 2, no gun can protect you from a corrupt government.

But amidst all of this horror, remember the victims like Football coach Aaron Feis who died while using his body to shield three female students. He threw himself in the line of fire to spare them. He suffered a gunshot wound and died after being rushed into surgery. The thing is he shouldn’t have had to die.

“He died the same way he lived — he put himself second,” Lehtio, a student and football team member, said. “He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”

 

Don’t let the Florida School shooting and the lives of Aaron Feis and the other 16 people who died yesterday have been in vain. Take action. Demand our government to change our current gun control legislation.

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Disrupt Aging, AARP, agism, Cindy Gallop

Disclosure: This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own.

As I get older, I have noticed myself starting to unconsciously recoil when anyone asks me what my age is. This wasn’t something I ever thought I would do because I just never thought age was a big deal. Age was just a number and I’ve never shied away from bucking the system. Of course, when you’re young, it’s not a big deal. It’s not until you are on the other side of young that you start to consider that you might be old. The funny thing is this isn’t even by my own doing.

Everywhere I look, society is trying to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing at “my age”. How I should or shouldn’t be dressing or wearing my hair from the ads on television and in magazines to the articles all over the internet of women judging other women. Why is any of that important and why are any of us leaving our happiness in the hands of the collective “we”? Who knows better what will make me happy than me?

Still, here I am finding myself hesitating when asked how old I am. Becoming indignant when the gynecologist’s nurse dared to ask if I was “perimenopausal” (which I found out any woman can be beginning at age 30). I was downright offended when a grandmother at the playground, asked if I remembered when “we” were young? I’m pretty sure she and I were young a few decades apart but why does any of that matter? And why was I so upset? Conditioning.

The thing is society has taught us that as women get older they get invisible but when men get older they become distinguished. We are seen as objects of beauty and when that beauty fades, we are no longer seen at all. I’m not ready to be invisible. In fact, I kind of like the fact that I can finally be seen for my brain and my personality and not just my breasts. I’m tired of being described by my body parts. Those are not accomplishments.

Still, if you ask me my age these days, I don’t particularly want to scream it from the rooftops like I did when I was 21. It feels about as intrusive as asking me my weight and we all know that’s the worst. So I wonder, how can I know this is stupid to be embarrassed about and yet, still feel completely self-conscious about the question? It’s the conditioning I’ve had from birth; the conditioning every little girl in the world has had. How do we change this? This is not what I want for my girls.

From my own experiences, I’ve made it a mission to raise strong, independent and fierce daughters. I’ve taught them to be proud of their intelligence and their personalities. I’ve taught them to love their body. I’ve raised them believing that they could conquer the world. What I’ve neglected to consider was that I’ve shown them that there is value in beauty which I never meant to do. I’ve written their narrative using adjectives like pretty, sweet and cute.

I learned through a recent conversation with Cindy Gallop that teenage girls are the most disregarded of all the females. At first, I found that hard to believe and then I realized that it is true. No one listens to a teen girl, we are all dismissive and what message does that send? In fact, I am guilty of this myself but I am trying harder.

I’ve been actively stopping what I am doing to listen to my daughters. It’s hard when you have tweens and teens. They tend to talk a lot and it’s not all relevant but it is to them. So while I may not be interested in what every one of their friends is doing at school, I am interested in the fact that my daughters want to talk to me and that makes it worth my time to listen. It’s about giving value to her words, thoughts and feelings and not just her beauty. It’s validation for the right things; who she is, what she thinks and what she says.

We’ve unconsciously allowed the male lens to form or views for so long. We even determine our own worth with how sexually attractive we are through that lens. We need to change the lens.

Young girls are dismissed for being young. As women, we need to make sure those young girls feel heard and gain confidence to become strong and never need a man’s approval on how to live her life. We need to teach our girls to live life on their own terms and enjoy the now. We need to drill into our young girls’ heads that they are invaluable at every age because their worth is based on what is between their ears and not their legs.

Older women are dismissed, as our beauty fades, society has taught us and expects us to disappear…becoming more invisible with each passing year. But we are not invisible and we shouldn’t be treated as such. We shouldn’t be expected to go quietly into that good night. Not me, I’m going to fight to the very end. I’m going to fight for every little girl in the world.

If I could give my girls any advice to live their best life, it would be this:

  • Write your own rules.
  • Promote yourself because no one else is going to do it.
  • Promote what you bring to the table at any age, no matter what that is…wisdom, experience, youth, energy, whatever it is that makes you an asset. We all have something special to offer.
  • Understand your value at every age.
  • Actively challenge stereotypes.
  • Appreciate the life you’ve lived and the stories you’ve made or will make.
  • Last but certainly not least, the most valuable piece of advice my dad ever gave me, if you have something to say, stand up and say it. Be heard and don’t let anyone tell you to be quiet.

What advice would you give your little girl or tween to live her best life?

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When No One’s Looking

Ever wonder how to teach good behavior to your child? How to instill kindness and compassion? How to raise a genuinely good person? Do you ever think about how you behave when nobody is looking? I never really did. But then I started noticing the people I love when no one was looking.

You see we live in a world where everyone posts everything they do to social media. It’s normal. I’ve seen people, literally, post every single thing they did throughout the day and where they were; even if that included a bath, a workout, crying, drinking coffee or just sitting around doing nothing. Imagine if they did something noteworthy, then they post in triplicate.

The voyeur in me kind of likes it. But the normal me thinks it’s kind of creepy. The mom in me thinks it’s absolutely insane. I’m convinced foursquare and any other geotagging apps are made by pedophiles and stalkers with the sole purpose of snatching women and children. That would be the overly protective helicopter mom in me, speaking just now.

No, what I am talking about has nothing to do with social media, who is watching or anyone else. What I’m talking about has everything to do with good home training, manners, kindness and being a general, good and thoughtful person.  Anyone can pretend to be generous and good for a second in a selfie but what are they doing when no one is watching?

I’m not a stalker but I do play one to my children and occasionally my husband. Wait, that sounded way creepier than I am. What I mean is I notice them when they think I’m not paying attention.

For example, my big girl goes out of her way to open doors for the elderly, help children and smile at strangers. My little one goes out of her way to pay everyone she meets a sincere compliment. She did it once, saw the smile and she does it constantly now. Ask any person, adult or child she has ever met. She also runs to help our elderly neighbors get their groceries in the house.  And my husband, the Big Guy, he sneaks off when we are at restaurants and takes food to the homeless outside.

For years, teachers and parents would tell me how “kind, sweet” my children were and I shook it off as that’s what people say. That’s what you’re supposed to say. But, now I see it and they’ve made me aware that everything we do should be because we want to treat others in the world as we would like to be treated, then the world would be a kinder, better place.

It’s made me think, how do I behave when no one is watching? Am I the same as when I am consciously aware that someone is watching? I’m a mother, so someone is always watching but I asked myself, would I still do the things I do and say the things I say if no one was watching?

In a world where someone is almost certainly always watching, do you thoughtfully move through the world? Are you good because its the right thing to do, because you know someone might be watching or do you just not care and why or why not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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