My Sweet R came home yesterday upset. She was having your typical elementary school frustrations with friends and disappointments. This isn’t super common, she loves school and overall has fantastic days. But yesterday was just one of those days. We all have them. On days like that, you just can’t seem to shake the frustrations. They seem to build on each other.
After cleaning up from dinner, I asked her if she’d like to join me on my nightly walk. Truthfully, it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I look forward to my nightly walks, they bring me peace. It’s a time that I either listen to the hum of nature, my own thoughts or some podcast; whatever I’m feeling on that particular day. But I could feel that she would benefit from a nice walk where she could tell me all about her frustrations while moving her body. Literally moving the frustrations out of her little body.
And boy did she talk. I mean, if you know her, you’d already know that she’s a talker (she gets the gift of gab from her Dad). My goal of our walk was to teach her that there are healthy ways to let your frustrations out. Ways that don’t involve alcohol, drugs, social media, overeating, hiding…you pick your own destructive behavior.
My job, as a parent, is to attempt to teach my kids how to deal with their feelings. Which is hard because as an adult, I’m a work in progress at dealing with my own.
At the beginning of 2020, before the world took a turn that I never saw coming, I started a Gratitude practice. First thing in the morning, I would write down 3 things I was grateful for. It took practice to get into the routine, but I did it for 2 months (January – beginning of March). Somedays it was hard, but it became something that I looked forward to.
Then COVID hit and I lost the discipline of it. Life got hard and I stopped doing it. Honestly, I should have kept with it. It probably would have made the hard days better.
I got lost in life and so did my gratitude. Maybe, just maybe this was related.
To this day, I still haven’t picked it back up again…until today.
I had a rare 2 minutes to breathe this morning before Sweet R came down for breakfast. I quickly jotted down on a piece of paper, “Let’s Start Our Day Out Great! The 5 things I am most grateful for:” with the numbers 1-5 below it. I made one for myself as well and filled in 3 of them before she walked down, so she had an example to help her along. It was waiting for her at the breakfast table with a pen. She looked at me a little funny at first, but she humored me and filled it in. Using a pen is really cool at her age and I’m not a complete idiot in her book quite yet.
This was my attempt to start her day out better. I didn’t want her frustrations that she let go on our walk last night to creep into her day today. But truthfully, it was just as much for her as it was for me. It reminded me that it made a difference in my attitude too.
Quickly this morning I made a Weekly Gratitude Journal that we are going to start using. If you want to download it and use it yourself, it’s available below.
Have you ever tried a Gratitude practice? If you have, did you like it? If you haven’t, would you consider it? Involve your kids, it’s never too early or late to help them add positive tools to their life or your family.
Let’s make this short, sweet, raw and real. Something so refreshing happened to me a few weeks back. We were outside enjoying one of the nicest days of the year and our sweet neighbors came outside.
To preface this: throughout COVID these sweet people were some of the only real life people that Sweet R saw. Sweet R is a talker (if you met her Dad, there is no questions where she picked this trait up). She talks in her sleep, to her self ALL DAY LONG, and to my husband and I ALL DAY LONG. I am amazed that she doesn’t get in trouble at school for talking too much. Our neighbors always genuinely listened to her and interacted with her.
Anyways…our neighbors have a little one the same age as Beast R. The impossible age of somewhere between 2 and 3. The age that makes working from home IMPOSSIBLE. The age that makes pretty much anything productive impossible, unless it revolves around them. So my neighbor tells me that she had to end up sending her little one to daycare full time because she just couldn’t work from home and try to entertain a 2 year old anymore. She follows up her statement with ‘for my mental health.’
I wanted to reach out and hug her. I don’t hug people, hugs aren’t my thing. But standing right there I finally heard someone come out and recognize that the mental health of parents is at stake. For a year I have heard these BS canned answers about COVID being great ‘family time’ or a ‘great time to slow down and do things they haven’t been able to’. I’m sorry but I don’t buy it. I don’t buy your Facebook posts or perfect IG photos with smiles. I’ll be the first person to tell you that I can recognize some good things that have happened in the past year. There have been some positive things.
But one of them is NOT trying to working from home with my entire family there. Nor is one of them listening to Moms (and Dads) lying through their teeth about how great the family time has been. I pulled my hair back into a half pony tail last night to wash my face and made the mistake of looking in the mirror. Oh my god, I have infinite more gray hairs. Some of them might come from age, but alot of them come from parenting in a pandemic.
So thanks neighbor for telling the truth, for acknowledging that pretending to be mentally ok is exhausting and just being real. It does not mean that you love your kids or family any less.
Hey everybody, it’s been a hot minute since I sat down at the computer to write any kind of blog…an unbelievable, unprecedented year to be exact. Some days I think, its only been a year? And some days I think, ITS ONLY BEEN A YEAR! Anyways, the truth of what has happened in a year is not what I came here to talk about today.
I started to transition this site to a new platform, and was going to dedicate my time to new graphics. Unfortunately other things have just taken over my life and my time. Just bear with me for now, I still have ideas in my head and I absolutely need to get them out. It turns out writing is sort of like my therapy and Lord knows we could all use that after the past year.
Last year I saw a pin on Pintrest that featured a picture of hearts on a kids bedroom door with writing on them. It looked pretty cute, but I quickly dismissed it. I didn’t have enough time or energy and my kids couldn’t read, so they wouldn’t even know what they said.
This February rolled around and even though I still didn’t have time nor the energy, I decided we needed to embrace ‘Love Month’ this year. Our entire house needed this project.
I cut out hearts for both kids, one for every day of the month. It’s the shortest month of the year I told myself as I felt like I was cutting forever. Midway through I told myself this was dumb, but I kept going. My hearts are all shapes and sizes, some looked horrible and others looked perfect. Sort of like real life, I suppose.
Every night I got a heart out, wrote one thing I loved about each kid and stuck it to their door for them to see when they woke up in the morning. At first it was really really easy to think of new things, but as the days went on it definitely got more challenging. Not because I don’t love my kids, but just because 28 days of new things you love about each individual kid…holy $hit guys.
What started out as a project for my kids to see and enjoy, turned into something that definitely benefited me more in the end.
No matter what kind of day I had or what they did that was sooo super annoying that day. At the end of the day, I forced myself to write down 1 thing that I love about them. And even on my hardest days, I still found 1 thing that made me smile.
Obviously my kids loved the project. I mean who wouldn’t love seeing hearts gathering on their door? The one that could read, loved reading them… and the one that is too young to read yet, loved seeing ‘balentines’ on the door.
It changed my perspective and brought gratitude into my life. Two things we all need right now.
Today was not my finest day. Today I was not my best self, I was not the best mom/wife. Today I had a ‘poor me party’, where I was the only one who showed up. Today I wouldn’t of won ‘Mom Of The Year’. Today I was mentally checked out, unavailable…just going through the motions. Today I failed.
You see I’ve been up since 2:15am, when my son started restlessly coughing. By 3:45am, I was laying on the couch willing him to close his eyes (more like screaming in my mind to go the f&$k to sleep, which I might of said out loud at one point). I dosed off between 4am and 7am, but any parent who has slept with a kid on the couch knows…it ain’t sleeping.
My hat goes off to all the Stay At Home parents out there. I will never pretend to be one or want to be one. I am not cut out to stay home, it’s not in my DNA and I’m ok with that.
I’m lucky that I am able to be off on Mondays to spend time with my kids (it came with a price of 1/5 of my salary, but the memories I’ve made with my daughter have no price tag). My job allows me to work from home on Tuesdays, I’m lucky and thankful to have that flexibility. Don’t confuse that flexibility with ease. Working from home with kids is a challenging struggle, to put it mildly.
Without that flexibility, I would of easily lost my job by now. Since the middle of January, I’d be lucky if I have made it to work 3 full weeks (which is only 3 days per week).
Of all the things we’ve caught this year, not a one of them has been a break.
If you read my last blog, you’ll remember that our Disney trip was one big fail which ended in non-stop sickness throughout February. Sadly, March has been no different. We’ve had cluster headaches, the stomach flu, pink eye, an ear infection/earache and a thrown out back (don’t even ask).
(And for anyone who would like to point out that my 8 month old goes to daycare…you are correct. My 8 month old does go to daycare 2 days a week. And in the past 2 months I think he’s made it to daycare 4 or 5 times (2 weeks). So keep your daycare judgements to yourself. I don’t judge you for your nanny or your in-home care or your family member or for being a stay at home.)
It’s March 25th and I’m just done…fed up, tired and frustrated. Everyday I look in the mirror and I see more grays, more wrinkles, more bags. My body feels so beat up and I’m exhausted.
You know the last time I did anything leisurely? The last time my husband and I had dinner together that didn’t consist of keeping other humans occupied? The last time I went to the gym? Watched TV? Slept without interruption?
This is real life. This isn’t some fake Facebook best life post. This $hit is hard.
So to all you parents out there that are struggling, feel like you can’t catch a break, are rundown, feel like you are sinking…
Today I failed…but I’m gonna wake up tomorrow (maybe at 2:15am again, who knows) and I’m gonna try all over again.
One month ago, we left on our first real family vacation.Let me rephrase that…One month ago, we left on our first real family trip.
Yep, that’s better. Trip is way more fitting, because damn this was no vacation. This trip was more work than the hustle of an ordinary day at home.
This was no ordinary trip tho. This was THE TRIP. The one my husband has talked about since the dawn of time…the one that I had to hear about for the past year (which really felt like the past 10 years) as he planned our every move on this week long trip. THE TRIP…
Anyone who knows us, knows that we don’t share the same appreciation of Disney at all. In fact, we have the opposite ideas of the place.
:: MY HUSBAND ::
Complete Disney Freak.
It’s slightly disturbing to me that a grown man likes Disney as much as he does, but alas…he does. Honestly, it’s become just slightly less disturbing as my daughter now shares his love of all things Disney & Princess (two of my all-time favorite things…complete sarcasm).
:: ME ::
Not a fan of crowds or standing in long lines, especially crowds or long lines with whiny children surrounding me.
At 7 years old, I wasn’t impressed with the place…turns out not much has changed in 30 years.
We flew down the 3rd week of January with my parents, our 5 year old, 6 month old and what felt like our entire house packed in 5 suitcases. We didn’t stay on Disney property. My parents were kind enough to reserve their timeshare for all of us, so we all stayed in a 3 bedroom condo together. Everyone was excited to make awesome memories and share laughs. We had no idea that it’d turn into the never-ending vacation with fail, after fail, after fail.
Disney didn’t disappoint, it was exactly what I thought…
The “Happiest Place On Earth” where kids turn into assholes & parents look permanently pissed off because they dropped a ton of money for their kids to act like little turds.
No doubt, my daughter turned into a turd and I was a parent with the pissed off look.
There were glimpses of greatness & fun, generally followed by “what am I doing” moments. It was comforting to look around and know that you were not alone. Numerous times, I found myself chuckling listening to other parents having the same talk with their kid that I just had.
To get the full effect of what happened in the next week (and honestly the following week), I’ll give you the play by play.
Epcot was a complete disaster, which included being drenched in rain that never-ended and my 6 month old going for a ride in the stroller when it fell backwards and hit the pavement. He wasn’t buckled into the stroller for the first time ever. Can you say Parents of the Year here? I turned into Momma Bear / Hulk in the middle of “The Happiest Place on Earth”. This would mark the start of the longest weeks I’ve had in a long time.
After being at the parks all day, we put the kids to bed and I hear my husband yelling for me. It’s 11pm and he starts frantically telling me that our flight home on Wednesday has already been cancelled. Cancelled? OMG, I can’t be stuck in Disney World. Truly that could be my version of hell.
The Polar Vortex was hitting Chicago. It was going to be -53 (yes that says NEGATIVE 53) and they were rescheduling all flights. He had turned his email notifications off and we were 5 hours late to the party to get a new flight home.
A quick call to Southwest with a hold time of 2 hours told us that everyone was also grappling with the same problem we had. We searched for any available non-stop flights (no way was I going to be taking a layover and risk getting stuck in an airport for days with 2 kids) and the best we could do was a Saturday flight at 6:30pm, so we took it. Of course, my mom and I click the change reservation button at the exact same time on the Southwest app and they didn’t get on our flight. Now we are on 2 separate return flights. Fantastic, since we took transportation to the airport together.
While at the park, we get a call from the vet that our dog is staying at. Parker has completely licked his back raw. They had to put him in a cone, treat him with antibiotics and they mentioned how depressed he is.
Of course, he’s depressed. This is the first time we left him since Cliff passed, and now he’s stuck until Monday…4 days longer than planned. He isn’t the most easy-going dog. We rescued him from a vet where his last family left him in the waiting room. He basically trusts no one.
We call my sister. Parker likes her. She agrees to go pick him up on Friday or Saturday. However, she has to take him back to our house because he trusts no one and she has a puppy at home. The second problem, she only has keys to our front door, but not the storm door. The storm door that is locked. In order for this plan to work, we’d have to get her keys somehow. She agrees to try to break into our house on Wednesday.
Luckily, I have family that lives in Tampa who graciously offered to open their home to us. Not only did it save us money, but it was nice to be in a house with the kids.
Since we have no where to be, at no particular time, we ask the timeshare we were staying in, Bluegreen Vacations, for a late check out. The answer was NO. My parents are owners of a timeshare, you’d think they’d be more understanding of our current situation. It’s not like we are simply hotel guests here. But they said NO, so we pack up the circus and head to Tampa by 10am.
The Polar Vortex hits Chicago with unbelievable temps. I am checking our Honeywell WiFi thermostat repeatedly to check the temperature in our house. (Did I mention that 3 weeks before we left for Disney, our furnace went out? Yes, that was how the fun of 2019 started!) That’s the perk of a WiFi thermostat, you can view it from anywhere. Except that I had received an email from Honeywell the day before we left for vacation, that they’d be doing server maintenance and we’d be losing connection to our thermostat intermittently.
Just perfect timing right? Record low temps and a new furnace. Every time I can see our thermostat, which is like every 12 hours or so when it reconnects, it is 55 degrees in my house. 55 DEGREES IN MY HOUSE, what in the actual F*&k.
Meanwhile, my sister and brother-in-law try to break into our storm door. A car keeps circling the block and watching them. It’s so cold out…the car freaked them out…they can’t get it. We find the nearest UPS Store to send our keys out. We OVERNIGHT the keys to my sisters house. OVERNIGHT, as in get there Thursday. This will mark the last time I use UPS.
All day I keep an eye on the UPS tracking, the package is out for delivery all day long. It is suppose to be delivered by 5:30pm. At 4:30pm, the package is all of a sudden ‘still in transit’. My husband calls UPS. Nobody knows anything about anything at this point, it’s still on a truck. Our package doesn’t make it overnight.
It is still 55 degrees in my house.
Keeping an eye on the UPS tracking, the package is out for delivery all day long. By 5pm, I start to lose hope that this package is going to be delivered today.
I hear my husband outside on the phone at 5:30pm. I walk outside and he’s on the phone with my sister. The package was delivered at 5:28pm to my sisters front porch with a huge slit in the bottom of the envelope and MY KEYS ARE GONE. GONE. No damage to the envelope, just a slit at the bottom.
The UPS driver left the broken open package on my sisters front porch tucked under her welcome mat, like nothing was wrong. Luckily, my sister noticed the UPS truck in the driveway and stopped him. God bless her, she proceeded to cry scream at the driver and demanded to search the UPS truck for the keys. My brother-in-law and sister get on the UPS truck with flashlights. The keys are no where to be found. The UPS driver claims that he has to take the package back to mark it damaged, so he gets back on his truck with the damaged envelope. It’s 6pm on Friday now and nobody will help us.
It has now hit 62 degrees in my house.
At 11:30am, we pack the van back up and head back to Orlando to catch our 6:30pm flight. We are all so ready to be back home.
We stop in Disney again and find a playground for my 5 year old to run around for a little while before we have to sit in an airport for the rest of the day. While at the playground, I decide to check our flight. DELAYED 2 HOURS. I feel like crying at this point.
We catch wind of the news. The Orlando Airport (MCO) has been shut down and all flights have been grounded. A TSA agent has jumped and committed suicide in the security lobby of the Southwest gates. I can’t even form words at this point, so many thoughts are flooding my mind. One of which is: Are we ever going to make it home?
My sister decides to pick up Parker at 11am, even without a way to take him back home. He cries hysterically after seeing her, and jumps at every car in the parking lot, like “Lady, I don’t what you drive, but get me in that car and let’s get the hell out of this place.”
It has now hit 66 degrees in my house.
We have been in touch with UPS who has told us that the UPS Store has to make it right. Apparently UPS and the UPS Store aren’t one entity. It’s like nobody wants to own what has happened. Of course, the UPS Store owner doesn’t work until Monday.
At 1:50pm, they reopen the airport and flights are starting to take off and land again. We start making our way to the airport, having no idea what we are going to encounter. We check our bags, which includes my daughter’s car seat and a large tub of formula that we now have to carry home because we ran out while on this never-ending vacation (We use Costco brand formula, they only sell it in Costco size tubs. We brought 1 with thinking it’d be gone for the trip home).
To our surprise, the security lines are short and we get through without much trouble. As we walk down the terminal, it seems that a majority of flights have been cancelled for the day. There are lines everywhere…long lines. Our flight is still good and is now only a 45 minute delay, we get in line for Family boarding at 7pm. It’s 7:10pm, our plane has arrived, but we still aren’t boarding. My phone buzzes, a text message from Southwest…
YOUR FLIGHT HAS BEEN CANCELLED due to weather. Our flight and my boarding pass has completely disappeared from the Southwest app.
I look up and see my husband’s face, who has just received the same text message..a look of panic. One by one, I can look around and see others on the same flight getting the same text message from Southwest. The terminal seems to be going up for grabs, it’s getting louder and people are running to get in line. My husband books it down to farthest gate to try to be first in line. We speak to a gate agent, soonest flight they can offer us is a 7:50pm FLIGHT ON MONDAY. You have got to be kidding me? We ask the gate agent if we can retrieve our bags. I mean my 6 month olds formula is in one of the bags and I don’t have enough formula in the diaper bag to get us to Monday. She can’t help us, we need to go to baggage claim to see if our bags are still in Orlando. Meanwhile, my husbands books a rental car. Driving home is sounding more appealing by the minute.
We get to baggage claim, just a complete cluster.
I am by no means a seasoned traveler, but I travel more than the average person. I’ve been to my fair share of airports across the country. Never in my life have I ever been part of such a cluster f*&k like this. We waited 3 hours for our bags to come out.
It is now 10:15pm, we pile all of our worldly belongings in this van…8 suitcases, a stroller, 2 car seats, 2 kids, and 4 grown adults. At 10:30pm, we point the van north and start driving.This is NOT how I thought this day would end.
We drove all night and finally arrive home at 2:30pm. I swear the van and all of us smell like the worst funk I’ve ever smelled. But it has never ever felt so good to be home. It was finally 68 degrees in my house.
My sister brought Parker home around 3pm. He is 5 pounds thinner and bald on his lower back. When he saw us, he cried like he never thought he’d see us again.
My husband is on the phone with the UPS Store first thing in the morning. The owner, Mark, tells him that the package is actually marked ‘Out for Delivery’ today and he can’t do anything until that package has been delivered. **Eye roll** An empty package is ‘Out for Delivery’…
5:08pm: I get a call from my sister.
Me: “Hey.” My sister: “You aren’t going to believe this.” Me: “What?” My sister: “Your keys were delivered to my house today.” Me: “What?” My sister: “Your keys were placed back in your slit and ripped open envelope and taped back together. The envelope was placed in a plastic bag and hung on the door handle of my front door.” Me: ** No words are coming out of my mouth.**
So my keys magically showed up at my sisters house.
We demanded an explanation from UPS on what happened because, of course, there was no note with this magical package. The manager of the local UPS hub that delivers to my sisters house called my husband as directed by Corporate UPS. The manager knew absolutely nothing about my keys or any lost keys at the UPS hub, which gives me a warm and tingly feeling. The manager ‘looked into the matter’ and called my husband back to tell him that my keys were found on the truck. The same truck my sister and brother-in-law searched with flashlights. If the manager didn’t even know my keys were missing or they were suppose to be looking for them, how on earth would anyone know that those keys belonged to us or that package?
The only way my keys were on that truck is if they were in the drivers pocket. I’m sorry, but my keys were stolen. I have felt that way from the beginning.
6:20pm: My 6 month old starts throwing up while we are all eating dinner.
For the entire rest of the month of February, I spend my time cleaning up vomit, diarrhea, administering medicine for a double ear infection, nebulizing a viral lung infection away, wiping & plunging massive boogers, and disinfecting my entire life, all while NOT SLEEPING, figuring out why my piece of $hit Honeywell thermostat still doesn’t work, fighting with UPS and getting my house rekeyed.
We wont be doing business with Honeywell or UPS anymore. UPS is the worst company to try to deal with. Neither the UPS Store or Corporate UPS will even so much as give us our money back for the overnight shipping cost that obviously didn’t get provided.
It was the vacation that just kept giving. Numerous times I thought we were on candid camera or the ‘Griswold Family Vacation’. Needless to say, we wont be taking a family trip for a long long time. Because remember ‘vacations’ are only ‘trips’ when you bring your kids along.
As a child, I have great memories of the entire holiday season. As an adult, the holiday season seemed to take on a different meaning. Some years I have been very into the season, and other years…well I could take or leave it honestly. As a parent of a Santa believer tho, it’s the best! Absolutely pure magic, more magical than being a child.
We believe in Santa in our house..hell I still believe in Santa today. When I was young and getting toward the age when I began having my doubts about the guy, I can remember questioning my Gram about whether she believed in Santa. Her response was so golden that it has stuck with me to this day. It’s a response I plan on telling my kids in years to come when they start questioning their beliefs.
Yes, honey…absolutely 100 % I still believe in Santa. What’s not to believe? As long as you have the magic of Santa in your heart, you’ll always be a believer.
My daughter has never ever been a big fan of the guy. When she was 3 years old, we started a yearly tradition of going to see Santa at the ‘North Pole’ (otherwise known as the Hesston Steam Museum in LaPorte, Indiana) and taking a ride on the Candy Cane Express. Our family gets about 5-8 minutes alone with Santa. It’s really a cool experience, an experience that I would of simply loved as a child. My daughter likes the tradition, but she’s still is not a big fan of the guy.
The Yearly Evolution of Santa
2015 :: 2 YEARS OLD
“Tell Santa to leave my presents at Kylee’s house (our neighbor at the time), I don’t want him to come to my house.”
We have no pictures with Santa from this year. She didn't even want to be in the same room as he was, and certainly under no circumstances was he to come to her house.
2016 :: 3 YEARS OLD
“It’s okay if Santa leaves my presents on the front porch, but he can’t come in the house.”
As you can see, she wouldn't even take her death stare, also known as her RBF, off of him long enough to take a picture. She had to make sure he wasn't coming any closer and he COULD NOT touch her. Although she did accept a candy cane from him, that was huge!
2017 :: 4 YEARS OLD
“Santa can come into the house, but he has to stay on the 1st floor. He isn’t allowed to come upstairs and go in my bedroom. He sees you when you are sleeping and he’s not going to see me.”
She is sitting across from him...willing to take the sticker that he offered to her. She told Santa about a couple toys she had been wanting 'really bad'. All of these toys were news to our ears, super enlightening for two apparently clueless parents. I guess I shouldn't be surprised tho. She acts an awful lot like my Mom, who doesn't tell anyone her $hit.
It’s a new year and a new age. I don’t know what age 5 will bring us. It’s always interesting with this little mind, she’s a thinker. I will never push her to sit on his lap. After all, the premise of Santa is quite creepy. An old overweight man, who you barely know (except for the 5 minutes you visit with him once a year), who knows an awful lot about you, who sees you when you are sleeping and knows when you are awake…comes IN YOUR house one night. Honestly, that could be an adult nightmare.
So I’m ok with my kid being slightly skeptical of the whole thing, but I still see the magic in her eyes and hear it in her voice when she talks. And I just love this time of the year, and I will always believe in my heart.