Wednesday

My Mother's Day Thank-You-Notes



Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12. In honor of this day, I would like to take a moment to recognize some of the amazing women who have helped me with motherhood lately. But I don’t know their names.
I’m talking about complete strangers who have made small gestures that helped me save my sanity when my kids were wearing it down. On Mother’s Day, I’m remembering these occasions:
  • The time my 3-year-old took off running toward the street and I barely caught him before he reached the pavement, all while juggling a toddler on my hip. I heard a stranger shout out, “Nice catch! Way to go, Mom!”
  • The time my 1-year-old threw a full-blown, screaming, lying-on-the-floor tantrum in the middle of a store because I would not buy her the candy bar she had swiped from the check-out line. Instead of making me feel bad about my screaming kid, a woman swooped in behind me, discretely took the candy bar and returned it to the shelf, thus letting me book it out of the store.
  • The time my two youngest were having meltdowns in a parking lot and refused to stand up to walk to the car. I was struggling to lift two dead-weight kids when a lady appeared and helped boost each kid onto my hips.
  • The time I had two kids arguing and picking at each in line at Costco and I had to step in with my “Mean Mom” voice and separate them. An angel of a woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You’re doing a good job. Parenting in public is hard.”

Obviously I will spend Mother’s Day celebrating the mothers among my family and friends. But I also will be sending out a giant “thank you” to the universe for the women who take time to offer help or kind words to an overwhelmed mother in a public place.

They look like they're being so sweet and playing nice ... don't be fooled.





Thursday

The Gift of a Diagnosis


Our daughter’s ADHD diagnosis is the best thing to happen to our family in a long time.
Let me explain that – I’m not thrilled that my child has a disorder that makes life more difficult for her.
But I am relieved that we now have an answer to the struggles we had been facing. I am happy that we have the resources to help her learn how to best manage her symptoms. That is why I view her diagnosis as a kind of gift.
ADHD has a variety of symptoms in children. It’s more than hyperactivity. It’s impulse control, social cues, sensory processing, memory challenges, emotional regulation and more.
I wanted to share some of the resources I found that might help other parents.
“Learning to Plan and Be Organized: Executive Function Skills for Kids With AD/HD” – This book is written for the child, not the parent, which makes it a valuable tool in giving children a role in
their behavior plan. The book is
written for an audience of ages 8-12
and includes fun illustrations, fill-in charts and “brain break” word games every few chapters.
“ADDitude Magazine” – This publication has a wealth of information for children and adults with ADHD. The website, www.additudemag.com, has articles on nutrition, technology, medication reviews, behavior management plans and more.
Support Groups – Whether online or in-person, Lexington has support groups for parents of children with ADHD. A quick Facebook search will find local groups for caregivers of children with ADHD.
My sweet girl with a beautiful, differently-wired brain.
Your Child’s School – The school counselor should be able to walk you through creating a 504 Plan to make accommodations for your child in the classroom.
Whatever avenue you choose to manage your child’s diagnosis, support is vital, and there is a community of parents and professionals ready to help.

What to Ask A Babysitter


Finding a great babysitter is no easy task. Without family or friends nearby to help with childcare, you have to find a perfect stranger to trust with your children.
We’ve been extremely lucky with our past childcare providers. But we recently found ourselves needing a new regular sitter for our youngest daughter.
I posted an ad on a Facebook group that connects caregivers with parents and was inundated with responses.
I began sending out my interview questions but quickly became tired of the cookie cutter answers I received. I wanted to ask these potential sitters what I was really thinking. For example:
What I ask: What first sparked your interest in childcare?
What I mean: Do you even like kids? Because they can be really annoying.
What I ask: What types of activities do you like to do with kids?
What I mean: How much TV do you plan to watch while I’m out of
the house?
What I ask: Do you feel you provide a nurturing presence to children?
What I mean: Are you a sociopath? Please, just tell me if you are a sociopath.
What I ask: Are you CPR certified?
What I mean: Are you going to feed my child uncut grapes or wander off while she is eating?
What I ask: Do you have reliable transportation?
What I mean: How often are you going to bail on me because of  “car trouble”?
What I ask: What is your requested rate?
What I mean: Please don’t bankrupt me. Your payment is tax-free.
I realize that asking my questions in an unfiltered way is extremely unprofessional and makes me seem a little crazy.
But when choosing someone to be responsible for your children’s safety and well-being, maybe being blunt is the best way to go.
We hit the jackpot with childcare, though.



A Very Chill Christmas


We didn’t have very elaborate Christmas traditions in my house growing up, but December 25 holds some of my favorite childhood memories.
My dad is a physician and was often on call during the holidays.
His beeper might interrupt any celebration, so we kept things low-key.
On Christmas morning our presents from Santa were laid out, unwrapped and already assembled.
We could dive right into playing without waiting.
My mom would make cinnamon rolls straight from the tube and we would stay in pajamas most of the day.
If my dad wasn’t on call, we might go to a movie.
It was lazy bliss. No frantic hustle of traveling, no dressing up for fancy meals.
When my first daughter was born, my husband and I decided we would embody that same Christmas laziness.
The day would be spent at home, in our pajamas, no obligations.
We would play with new toys,
read new books and watch
Christmas movies on cable.
Technology has somewhat interrupted this tradition in a way that simply didn’t exist when I was a child.
Now grandparents can be included by Skype or Facetime, our kids receive electronic toys that don’t require us to play with them, and Netflix means we can watch pretty much anything, not just whatever Christmas classic is on TV.
Not all of these tech advances are negative.
It’s great to be able to see relatives without the expense and headache of travel. And Netflix has a decent selection of Christmas movies.
But I am tempted to cut the cord on Christmas and let our minds take a break from being plugged in all the time.
Because my favorite Christmas memories will always be the ones spent at home with just my family and store-bought cinnamon rolls.

PJ's All Day.

Books. Beanbag. Bliss.


Weird Parenting Quotes



The other evening as we were preparing our three children for bed, I walked into the bathroom and stopped in my tracks.
“Who pooped in the shower?” I called out to my family.
No one confessed to the crime, but I narrowed it down to the two children still in diapers.
While I was bleaching the shower floor, I realized how a sentence such as, “Who pooped in the shower” seemed totally normal to me now.
Before I was a parent, I never thought I would utter those words.
But that seems to be what happens to parents. Our kids do some weird stuff. We end up saying absolutely absurd things in a casual way.
Here are some of the craziest things I’ve ended up saying to my children recently:
  • “Do not lick my eyeball.”
  • “Why does your breath smell like cat food?”
  • “Please stop pretending your penis is a fire hose.”
  • “Paper towels are not food.”
  • “I’m not making you a grilled cheese sandwich. Because it’s 5:30 in the morning.”
  • “Don’t put that down your pants.”
  • “Can someone take the pencil sharpener away from the baby?”
  • “You can’t take the butter knife to bed with you.”
  • “Why are you licking the baby’s head?”

What makes these phrases so much funnier is the tone used. They weren’t shouted or exclaimed.
We say these things with boredom because nothing can shock us anymore. Kids are so weird that eventually, crazy seems normal.

"Are you basting the baby?" Another sentence I never thought I would say. 

Tuesday

Bring Back Vacation Mom



We are back in the grind of the school year and our family is still working on our daily routine.

We have three kids and two working parents, so structure and organization are necessary. Alarm clocks are set, a bulletin board holds a monthly calendar and the words “responsibility” and “expectations” are said a lot.
Keeping order during the school year isn’t exactly easy, nor does it make my kids like me very much. I realize how much I miss Summer Vacation Mom. My kids love Vacation Mom.
Vacation Mom doesn’t care if you get dressed at all that day.
Vacation Mom serves PB&J for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Vacation Mom takes naps with the kids.
But Real-Life Mom? She has schedules to keep, chores to finish and meals to plan.
I know that I can’t be Vacation Mom year-round.
Being late to school has consequences. Eating “convenience foods” in excess isn’t a healthy lifestyle. Naps are nice, but not as easy to sneak in with the To-Do list growing longer each minute.
So while I cannot be Vacation Mom 365 days a year, I am trying to bring pieces of her back to life this fall.
I can say “no” to over-scheduling, so we have more free time as a family.
I can say “yes” to my kids when they want to stay in pajamas all day on Saturdays.
I can cut myself some slack on meal planning and just order a pizza.
We can’t live every day like we are on vacation. But we can bring some of the vacation attitude to our daily lives. I think we all will be less stressed if we just put on our flip-flops and order the pizza.
Ah, Vacation Mom. You are so much more chill.


A Coloring Book for Mom

I had a flat tire last week. Normally that kind of inconvenience would have ruined my day. Instead, it was the catalyst for something pretty great.

Once I got my van to the tire shop, I was told it would be at least an hour until they could patch my tire. Thankfully, the tire shop is right by our friendly neighborhood Kroger store which contains a Starbucks. I hiked my way to the grocery, planning on buying a tea and reading a celebrity gossip magazine to pass the time.

Instead of a magazine, a coloring book caught my eye. I know that adult coloring has been a huge craze in recent years. Coloring is a kind of creative meditation. It's supposed to be relaxing and a stress reliever.

On a whim, I bought the coloring book and a pack of colored pencils, deciding I would try to use this free hour for some self-care. It took me the full hour to do an intricate design on a page that read "Be Yourself."

Not sure what to do with my final product, I thought that my 7-year-old would appreciate it. I usually write her little notes on the napkin I stick in her lunchbox each day. The next day, I folded the completed coloring page and slipped it in the lunchbox.

She came home that afternoon and couldn't wait to tell me that she LOVED my picture. She said "thank you" repeatedly and told me that her friends were all jealous. (What mom doesn't secretly love to hear that she made her kids' friends jealous?)

That excitement has prompted me to make coloring a part of my day. Usually when the kids are in bed and I'm winding down for the evening, I will color a new page in my book and have it ready for CeCe's lunchbox the next morning.

This new tradition is so good for both of us. My coloring is not perfect. I am often outside the lines and I don't always pick the most complementing colors. But it's time away from screens, away from people, and I end up with something that makes my kid feel special.