Posted in Family, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

Explaining Death to Children

Not the best topic in the world for a blog post by any means, but thanks to some unfortunate circumstances in my life I have been thinking about this a lot lately. How to explain death to a child. Some children unfortunately experience it early on, some don’t

until they are older and arguably more able to deal with it. Some people like myself, don’t lose anyone close to them until they are an adult. Everyone grieves differently and everyone processes the idea of death differently. Kids included.

Having a five year old that I have to explain this concept to is not something I am super excited about. You can’t really avoid the topic of faith and spirituality on some level when death becomes a point of conversation. For someone like me (I’m sure some of you can relate) who struggles constantly with their faith, it becomes even harder sometimes. I know what I need to say in so many words but how? and what do I leave out?

I know her little inquisitive mind is not going to be okay with “well he’s in heaven now”. “Where in heaven? How do I see him? Can he see me? Can he hear me? Should I yell louder so he can hear me? What if wants to come back? What if he gets lost? What if he’s not there? What if…how come…when does…”

I can’t answer all of her concerns honestly and I’m a terrible liar trying to make up the answers as I go.

I did find some good resources I wanted to share in case anyone else might be going through this situation as well:

How to Talk to Kids About Death

 

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Posted in Education, Family, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting

What ADHD is really like

I wanted to better explain what ADHD of a small girl is really like. It’s not just chasing butterflies and rambling topics of conversation. There are layers and layers to it.

I wasrecently published over at Scary Mommy! Check it out.

Posted in Family, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

Why so serious (mom and dads)?

It’s amazing how loud pots are when they are being beaten together by little hands. It’s amazing how mud seems that much more impossible to clean when your toddler comes inside caked in it. Craft supplies can seem daunting to get out because every craft requires a mess. Every water play activity requires mopping after. Every play bath requires at least one outfit change on your part.

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Having fun and playing with your kids can sometimes lose it’s spark. You can get more concerned with the aftermath than the actual play time. My daughter asked me the other day if we could make a craft, which she loves to do, and I said “no honey I just wiped off the kitchen table”.

Wait what? We can’t craft because I wiped off a table? What kind of logic is that?

Sometimes it’s hard to drop what you’re doing and say yes! Yes we can. Screw the laundry, who needs clean plates, my pants will wear another day…probably. For me it’s even harder to not dread the aftermath, as mentioned above. But kids don’t grow up and remember having a spotless home, they grow up remembering when you played super heroes together in the backyard. They remember trips to the ice cream shop and visits to the zoo. But you can’t live in a pig sty either. Cleaning and chores kind of have to happen. Sometimes you have to be the grown up and be serious. So how do you balance it all? I honestly don’t know.

I got called a Pinterest mom the other day and at first I was insulted just because I didn’t really know what the hell that meant. But then it was explained that I do things you see on Pinterest but never actually do with your kids. Then I was flattered but I felt a little like a cheat because there is plenty I don’t do, that I should. So, how do you become a not so serious, Pinterest, fun mom? Again, I don’t really know, but here’s the best advice I can gather for that question.

Step one: stop being so serious

My daughter is that special stage of life when she knows exactly what not to say, and that she has the ability to say it whenever she wants. That age when I feel like a 13 year old is trapped in my 4 year old’s body. That oh-so-magical age where I hear “we aren’t friends anymore, you’re mean” at least four or five times a week. We just had a long discussion about what a mortgage was the other day when she decided she was going to run away. More on that later.

I find, the best way to handle a little bit of sass, is to make fun of it. I make fun of how silly she sounds when she’s having an attitude. I put my hands on my hips and shake my head and say “does this look nice to you? or does this look like someone who is not going to get what they are asking for?” I exaggerate her movements and voice enough that usually, it causes laughter. Laughter leads to happiness and happiness leads to no more attitude. At least for the time being. This is not to say that I do that or think it you should look over blatantly bad or disrespectful behaviors. Just pick and choose your battles.

It’s the picture frame argument my husband and I have. When a kid draws on the wall you can a) freak out, b) quietly find a magic eraser and start erasing, or c) frame it. I choose to frame it.

Step two: have family time

This is the step I struggle with because this is the step I want more than anything else. As a working mom I really feel like I miss out on quality time with my kids, and even my husband. We all know that complaint, but it is a valid one. Sometimes family time is also errand time. Like grocery shopping or running into town for a certain bill that needs to be paid. I try to turn these moments into family time. My daughter and I go to the farmer’s market at least twice a month together to get our produce in the spring and summer. It’s always fun to walk around and see the flowers and pick out a special treat for later.

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It’s important to make the distinction between quality time and quantity of time. Just because you might be with your kids all week if you stay home, doesn’t mean you were actually with your kids all week. You probably plopped in a movie or two or maybe three. You probably found some coloring books or crayons and pushed them into a corner somewhere. You did chores, you worked, you prepped dinner, you did things you have to do on a daily basis, which means it probably wasn’t quality time. Not saying there’s anyway around that, just make the mental note that ‘yes, I with baby girl today but we only played together for twenty minutes after lunch’. Then you can try to fit in my quality time at the end of the day or the next day.

Step three: Us Toys

Not Toys-R-Us, Us Toys have saved my relationship with my daughter in a lot of ways. Without going into her anxiety and other issues, the book Growing Up Brave is a great read for any parent that is struggling with a child with emotional problems. It is geared for anxiety but I think a lot of the tips and ideas mentioned would work for a variety of disorders.

Anyhoo, one of the things I took away from that book is “Child Led Play”. For ten minutes, everyday, you play with your child but you let them lead the playtime. Now this may sound easy and like something you already do, but I assure you if you really start listening to yourself while you’re playing, you will hear a person you didn’t know was there. During your child led play it’s good to have a box or bag filled with stuff just you two play with. Ours was a mermaid dress up game, two Barbies, a sticker book craft, and some art supplies to start. Now we usually just do a craft together because her father isn’t very “artsy” and that’s our special thing to do. They do puzzles or blocks. So you get it, you have something that’s just for you two, you pick a place where you won’t be bothered by the other parent, siblings, phone calls, anything.

Completely uninterrupted playtime that they lead. Don’t interrupt them, don’t correct them, don’t even give them ideas to a certain extent. It’s their party for ten to fifteen minutes. Try it for a month and I’d be surprised to find someone it doesn’t help your bond with your kid.

Posted in Education, Family, Library, literature, Opinion, parenting, pop culture, reading, Uncategorized

6 Children’s books that are just wrong

This post contains affiliated links

I love seeing spoofs of children’s literature, even the obscene ones. However, as I was reading to my daughter the other night I started to notice there’s enough creepy nonsense in a lot of these stories to begin with. Spoofs may not even be necessary.

So now I will ruin some childhood classics-

Corduroy

Corduroy is one of my favorites. I loved it as a kid and I love reading it still. However, this is the first book that I really was like, “huh, I can’t believe I didn’t notice that before.” In most of the pages all the other toys are staring straight ahead, with that deadpan flopped head look they are supposed to have.

When Lisa comes back to buy Corduroy however, things turn dark. All the toys glare at poor Corduroy and the bunny next to him stares hard with bright red eyes. RED EYES?

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cord

Goodnight Moon

You may already know my stance on Goodnight Moon. It’s not great. It’s so easy to find flaws in this comically nonsensical children’s book. One can argue that Brown was a revolutionary, writing children’s books that represented life at the time of publishing (1947). Before that most children’s story were telling tales of far away places, fairy tales, and other things that were not super relatable to children.

I would still have to say…I just can’t stand it.

Why is that fireplace so big? Where are the parents stopping the children from toppling in and cooking themselves into a nice rabbit stew? Who is the decorator, because they need to be fired.

Green walls, red carpet, yellow and blue curtains, we want this child’s room to be avante garde…nailed it. Oh, but throw in a tiger skin rug, that will really pull everything together.

The color scheme we're going for is

Love You Forever

I know some of you are going to be like “noooo, leave Love You Forever alone!” but come on.

Books blog

Why is she crawling? Why is she crawling into her teenage son’s room? I have a son, I will not be doing that.

Then continue on to see her spooning her adult son like he’s still an infant. Shoulder to cry on? Sure. Rocking to sleep at 25? Probably not.

In a Dark Dark Room

At least this book is supposed to be creepy, but I had to add it. I saw in another post someone mentioned the green ribbon story. I second that fear. That story has stuck with me my whole life. When I started teaching I saw this book in our collection and was like “oh man, that freaking girl with the ribbon is in there, nope”.

And Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? The stories aren’t even scary but those drawings are terrifying.

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Arthur

There really isn’t anything wrong with the Arthur books, I actually really like Arthur. Arthur the Aardvark, the story goes that Marc Brown’s son wanted a story about a weird animal and the first one that popped into Brown’s head was an aardvark. The first illustration is from the original Arthur books published in the 70’s. The middle is Arthur’s transformation in the 80’s. Then the last is him now. I can’t even tell what the last Arthur is anymore! Is he a dog? A giant hamster type thing? Maybe a bear?

Richard Scarry Butcher Shop

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So the butcher character is in multiple Richard Scarry books but there’s a common theme for the character…it’s a pig. A pig, slicing up ham and sausage and pork chops and bacon and…yeah it’s a little gross.

Curious George Takes a Job

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Curious George is a favorite at my house. I did not realize this one particular book actually has quite the following. Curious George Takes a Job is like all classic Curious George tales of mishap and mayhem…except this time George tries ether.

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So…yeah kids try drugs and feel like you’re flying and rings and stars will dance around your heads then you’ll pass out with a giant smile on your face while your family looks down at you in shock. I guess it’s accurate at least.

What are some more classics that maybe need to be reread with adult eyes?

Posted in DIY, Family, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

The Closet- Minimized

closet

This smattering of clothes and piles of random items was my closet. It’s embarrassing how bad it got but I have to show the disarray in order to show the difference that downsizing can make. In this picture, our master bedroom, we had two dressers (one for each- mine is on the other side of the room), a closet (not walk in but not too small), and a mess of shoes, hats, and misc home stuff on the ground. We don’t even have doors on the closet so I have to look at this every morning. Not a great way to start the day.

This post contains affiliated links that help me survive, apparently I’m supposed to say that now.

  1. The dresser

Why do I need a dresser? Do I need somewhere fancy to store t-shirts and underwear? Do socks need a whole drawer to spread out in? Not really.

I went through my dresser first and did it in steps. First, I made all my foldable clothes fit into one drawer as opposed to three. I had an affinity for funny shirts and graphic tees in high school and college and wore them much longer than I rightly should have (let’s be real I still do at home).



After sorting through those and saving some for a future quilt (yeah I know), I was able to get everything into two drawers, then one. This took a few times of sorting. I really felt like I needed a pair of sweat pants for every day of the week. But I wear the same three over and over again. Once the dresser was out of my room and gone and I saw the open floor I was addicted.

2. The Closet Planning: Capsules

Then came the more fun part: capsule planning. Now for some people that probably sounds “so bored” as my daughter says, but this was my favorite part. I got to go on Pinterest and plan my wardrobe. There are sites that you can pay and they will help you but I wanted to do it myself. Also, I am using “capsule” very loosely. For many people who have a real capsule wardrobe of 30 pieces I still look like a lush. I still want to downsize some more but right now I’m at a good point (I have about 55), and I’m not buying anything else to add so there’s a win.



Some things I learned from capsule planning are:

Pin outfits you really like. Don’t worry about if they would actually look good on you at this point just find stuff you like. Look for patterns. If you see a lot of tanks with maxi skirts than there’s a good bet you should have that in your closet. If you don’t see a lot of flowy tops but you have four of them hanging up, maybe time to get rid of them. I even printed out my top favorites and made a visual list of items that I should have to create the outfits I like. I have never been the most fashionable person in the world so this step was kind of new to me.

Selecting a few colors really does help. I had a lot of pretty bo-ho tops that I never wore because the colors made me look ill. I had a lot of colors that just plain didn’t match as well. I narrowed mine down to neutrals (white, black, gray, and navy) and accents (blush, yellow, teal, and olive). Anything not primarily in those colors I took out of my closet and boxed them up. I didn’t throw them away right away I just removed them to see how I would feel.

Duplicates need to go. I always though I needed like ten black shirts. They all fit different, I argued. I now have two, one loose and one tight, and that’s all I need.

3. More perks of less clothes

I have gotten a lot of compliments in the past few months about my style change and I think creating this “capsule” really made that happen. It takes half the time to get ready in the morning and I’m not saying I feel great every day I walk out the door but what I’m going to wear doesn’t consume as much time as it did.

I still have a ways to go but I managed to get rid of enough clothes that my husband was able to build a book case in the closet. That was a HUGE motivator for me. I have more books than anything else probably and wanted storage for them, even though I am still minimizing and getting rid of some. It’s a long process.

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Last thing I would like to point out is when you are minimizing your closet/wardrobe make sure you gather ALL your clothes. From the laundry, from the car, from your work, everywhere. Don’t just do the clothes in your room.

Hope this helps some of you out there! I had a few emails about the bedroom so please send me your thoughts I love hearing them.

Posted in Family, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

Mighty Minimalism: Step 1, the bedroom

Things have the taken the world over. We have so much stuff, most of it we don’t even

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need or use. Most of it, we wouldn’t even notice if it were gone. With the holidays creeping up on us this is the time of year consumerism is at it’s prime and more things enter your home.

 

I don’t really care if I have the newest phone (not that I could afford an iPhone X anyway). I don’t have a kitchen gadget that does something I can do with a knife. Half the time I don’t even use a strainer when I make pasta because I don’t want to dirty another dish (you just tilt and turn to get the water out, it’s a very precise system).

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However, my weakness is collecting items that relate to a memory. A napkin from that weird bistro in New York, or the rock from the bank of a river in the Shenandoah Valley, or movie stubs, or concert tickets, or trinkets- those kind of things are what make me somewhat of a clutter bug naturally. It’s taken a lot of hard work to change that way of living and focus on the memories, not the stuff.

One of my first projects on this road to minimalism has been to condense my closet to only 50 items. That may sound like a lot to some and not enough to others, but to me it’s a good sweet spot for now. I have to dress nice for work and I barely get out of my sweat pants at home so I can’t have a simple capsule wardrobe like those I admire on Pinterest. Maybe one day when I work from home I can throw out all my dress pants.

I then expanded to the whole bedroom, which is a small bedroom by most standards. As I looked around I realized on a daily basis we always had stuff on the floor. Books, clothes, kids toys, shoes, jackets; always something. It started to drive me nuts now that I was focusing in on it. So my overall goal became- declutter and minimalise my bedroom.

When you start to Google image search you come up with many cold looking rooms. Modern furniture with bare walls and no color scheme to speak of. This, to me, is not comfortable. Not in the slightest.

Very comfy

Then came Hygge. It’s a new craze (well not really new but starting to get around more) that is kind of minimalist at it’s core, but cozy. They use the word cozy a lot. It’s basically minimalism with scarves, fluffy blankets, and a hot beverage. All the things that make you comfortable, and nothing else.Image result for hygge

 

 

Minimize your bedroom:

A) The Closet

B) The Furniture

C) The Art & Knick-knacks

D) The Books & Work

 

 

Posted in Family, Holidays, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

In bed by 10; Halloween has really changed

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Halloween.

Just saying it gives you a feeling. Or at least it should I think. Every time I say it I feel this overwhelming sense of mystery and warmth. I feel the cool autumn breeze and smell the dead leaves on the ground. I see the lights of all the decorated homes, and taste the candy and Halloween inspired shots (don’t mix the two). And I mourn a holiday that is so much different now.

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Before kids, I looked forward to Halloween all year. Ever since high school, I started planning my costume in July. I prepped and prepared and made them from scratch (I don’t sew so the “scratch” thing may be a little misleading). Image may contain: 4 people, people standing and indoorI picked which parties and bars to attend on which nights because just one night wearing my costume was simply not acceptable.

 

 

This year, there will be no shots. There will be no hangover. There Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, selfie and closeupwill be no loud music and slutty costume contest. We have tried to have both and I fear that we failed, miserably. In the past few years, even after becoming parents, we tried to rally for all nighters on Halloween. Did the costumes, found a sitter, and saved up a little bit of drinking money. Lets just say, it didn’t end well and nursing a hangover around chocolate and screaming kids is not my idea of a good time. We did trick-or-treating, we went to the pumpkin patch, and we let the kids stay up a little later

Image may contain: 3 peoplethan usual. That was much more entertaining than throwing up at a gas station (no need to point fingers at who). (It was me).

 

This year, we are doing the family things. We are going to the Halloween parties, the Trunk-or-Treats, the pumpkin patch. We’re going trick-or-treating and celebrating at my library’s Halloween maze. We may need to skip the “adult Halloween time” for a yeImage may contain: 4 people, people standing, sky, shoes and outdoorar or two. Image may contain: 2 peopleNot something I ever thought I’d hear myself say but the time might be here that I need to hang up my witch’s hat by 10 instead of 3am. Is that bad? I don’t know, maybe. Maybe in a few years I’ll be craving the excitement of going out on the town for Halloween. But for now I’m looking forward to taking my bugs out, watching them get excited by all the costumes and decorations, and just hanging out with family. Not to mention the two weeks of horror movies, that needs to still happen or why are we even doing this?