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You’ve got me and I’ve got you.

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The way my husband talks about his Army buddies you’d think they live around the corner and he sees them every day. The truth is he hasn’t seen many of them in over 5 years, and only talks with them every few months. I haven’t questioned him about how he feels so close to them when to an average person it appears that they hardly know each other because I know that it’s just different. Going through deployments with people who literally have your back (and you have theirs!) makes bonds between people a different kind than your average friendship. Literally facing death with another person puts you at a whole different level.

That being said, while I wouldn’t dream of comparing and contrasting parenthood with a lovely deployment in Iraq, I understand the concept of needing someone when times are tough, and having your friendship shaped by those tough times.

There’s something to be said about having a best friend that is down there with you. Deep in those trenches of sleepless nights, tears, frustrations, and body fluids. They understand you, they have your back, and even though they probably don’t know what the heck the answer is either, they share in the search with you.

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I rarely even get to see my best friend. She lives 10 hours away and we have 6 kids between the two of us. But when we do get to see each other, it melds seamlessly into laughter and butt wiping like there hasn’t been any time passing at all. She’s my person. We always joke that we’d be happiest living in a commune being sister wives and just throwing all our kids together and forgetting about who belongs to who. We’ve gotten so good at reading each other that I can tell when she’s irritated purely by the way her punctuation is in her text messages. She just had her 4th baby, sweet little Colin, and I just came back from trying to help her get last minute things together before adding another pup to the pack. Everyone else sees the fun baby stuff, the cute newborn, the perfect Facebook pictures. But we know better. We know the nitty gritty of each other’s lives. We know that just before the nice picture, someone pooped on the driveway. That one of us was crying the night before. That our appliances are all breaking down at once and we’re going broke. That work is killing one of us. That we both have huge wishes and dreams but only a miniscule of a moment and pennies to try to achieve them. We know the real deal. And not only do we love each other in spite of them, we love each other because of them.

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Every parent needs a person. I think sometimes that person doesn’t show up when you think they will, but this whole parenting gig is so much more emotionally stable when you have a person. And for every person out there who doesn’t have that friend, there’s probably also someone out there who doesn’t and is looking. I bet if someone up and made a “I’m 4 Cups of Coffee Deep, My Kid Just Bit Me and Peed on the Cat, I’m Exactly 203 Minutes Late for A Dentist Appointment, and I Just Wish I Had Someone to Commiserate With!” website, similar to a dating platform, they’d totally be on to something. Make yourself a profile and find your match. Find your similarities, and what differences balance each other. Christine and I are like the Yin and Yang of vomit. She hates it, and it totally doesn’t bother me. Perfect balance!! I’ll take the puke, she can take early mornings. Done!

So there is never any question from my husband about how a person I am lucky to see once a year is the topic of so many of my conversations, a big voice in my decisions, and a familiar person to my kids. Sometimes when someone is so entwined in your life, even if in spirit, there isn’t a question. It just is. We’re both fighting the same battle, having each other’s backs, and trying to get everyone out in one piece.

Tell us about your person. Who are they to you, and what makes them a part of you? Is there someone you know that you think could use a person? Maybe it could be you. Reach out!

Happy Haunting!

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It’s almost Halloween! And nothing says Halloween like a post reminding you of all the things that could go wrong on Halloween and how to avoid them. I don’t think that’s very festive though, and I’d like to think most of you folks out there know not to throw your kid in front of a moving car when they’re wearing all black at night, and that you shouldn’t let your toddler crack open a glowstick and drink it.

You know what else says Halloween? Late night snacking. That’s right. You know you do it. After the kids go to bed from now until Chistmas you will be raiding their candy. I’d also like to bow to whoever invented the Switch Witch. Pure genius I tell you. I can just picture it now, because it was definitely a mom, sitting in her living room, yelling “It’s mine! All mine!!” while scooping up candy. And all she has to do is make a trip to Target (yeah, real big punishment there) for a toy. Bonus points if you live in a neighborhood that hands out good candy. You know, quality stuff like Twix and Kit-kats. The candy that says, “hey, I’m a great neighbor that enjoys Halloween”. Tootsie rolls? “I forgot to buy candy till 3pm Halloween day”. Bit-O-Honey? “I hate you and Halloween”. No offense to the fans of Bit-O-Honeys. I still think you’re crazy but I do respect you for your…classic taste. Please don’t smash my pumpkins.

Last year's haul. Kids totally thought I wouldn't sit on the couch and pig out on their candy. Jokes on them! Crispy the cat was the only witness and he never tells.

Last year’s haul. Kids totally thought I wouldn’t sit on the couch and pig out on their candy. Joke’s on them! Crispy the cat was the only witness and he never tells.

They’re not kidding when they say Halloween is a time for the Underworld. Apparently everyone is trying to send you there with the blinding masks so big that you walk into a mailbox, and  the princess skirts that are so haphazardly hemmed that every little girl must faceplant at least once while trick-or-treating. Don’t forget all the elderly folks still insisting on baking cookies (of death?) to hand out even though every single mother out there makes their kid throw them away. And pennies. What’s with the pennies? You telling me to choke to death or wither away in poverty? Not sure of the subtle message of that. Granted, I was ecstatic to get pennies as a kid so I guess my Scrooge is showing. My kids love pennies too so heck with it, bring it on!

 

"Hey Declan, I'll trade you my Bit O Honey for your Twix" "Nope."

“Hey Declan, I’ll trade you my Bit O Honey for your Twix”
“Nope.”

In all seriousness though, Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. I love the whole month of October, the excitement of choosing a costume, the pumpkins, the festivals, the beautiful days. Just when I thought it was getting a little weird for me to be so Halloween obsessed, I had kids and an excuse to continue my crazy. So Happy Halloween to every single one of you! Be safe, have fun, don’t throw your kid in front of cars, watch out for mailboxes and fallen princesses, and don’t feel guilty about eating the Twix and saving the Bit-O-Honey’s for your little honey. You gave them life after all.

Basically sums up my kids in one picture.

Basically sums up my kids in one picture.

It’s the Great (Teal) Pumpkin!

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teal-pumpkin

Halloween trick-or-treat alternatives for kids with food allergies

I vaguely remember this movement last year, but never actually saw it in execution. To be fair, we live in a rural area where you can’t exactly trick-or-treat farm to farm, but even at the many trunk-or-treat events we went to I didn’t see anything regarding teal pumpkins. I saw it all over Facebook, but that was about the extent of it. It seemed like a cool idea, and I was hoping it would gain popularity.

Apparently it did, because this year I see the tell tale teal pumpkins everywhere! In the places you’d never expect…the local grocery store, our farmers market, sitting at the end of a dirt road on the drive of an old farm straddling the border of North and South Carolina. It has arrived. The Great Teal Pumpkin is here!

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The Teal Pumpkin Project focuses on bringing the joy of Halloween to kids with food allergies. Although it took awhile to reach our neck of the woods, the Teal Pumpkin Project was actually started back in 2014. According to foodallergy.org, 15 million Americans have food allergies, which accounts for about 1 in 13 children. How many kids are in your child’s class? Usually 20+…so it’s safe to say you have at least one, if not two, kids that have a food allergy.

To participate, all you do is place a teal pumpkin (or a sign) outside. That’s it. This indicates that you have non-food treats available for children who cannot have candy. Suggestions for non-food items are bubbles, stickers, pencils, tattoos, crayons, and bouncy balls. I was at Costco last week and saw a giant bag of tiny containers of Play-doh that would be absolutely perfect!

Halloween is a magical day. It can also be crushing to a child when their magic is ruined. Kids with food allergies face a struggle every day of their lives. Let’s give them a day off to just be kids.

 

We don’t need no education…

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Okay, obviously not true but all I could do at open house this evening was sing Pink Floyd in my head and think of random Kindergarten Cop quotes. And come home to write this.

Dear teachers,

I bow to you. I really do.  As a mom who homeschooled and now is sending a kiddo to navigate the waters of school at his request, I don’t know how you do it. Teaching and corralling my own children is nerve wracking enough. I can’t imagine doing it with 20+ kids who aren’t even your own. Add the pressures of testing, teaching styles, grades, and various other controversial  topics and I imagine your days are just full of stress.

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Let me just tell you something. Something that you may already know, but maybe just need to hear it again.

I don’t really care how my kid scores on all these exams in the long run. I don’t care if he’s top in his class. I don’t care if he won a spelling bee or if he’s a faster or slower reader than other kids. If the way it’s being taught doesn’t work for him, then we will find another way. As long as he’s doing his very best and is happy, then right now that is enough for me.

What I do care about is that he is learning to love and respect others. I feel like I’ve been teaching this at home, but it can only go so far when your world consists of your family and friends. His world is about to get a whole lot bigger, and I need you to help him navigate it. You are there on the front lines with him. I need you to be his role model and his platoon leader.

Obviously there are lots of things going on lately that are hateful and confusing. I feel like especially right now our society has reached a critical point where we need to alter our direction of where we’ve been heading in regards to basic respect and courtesy. Kids may not know the details but I guarantee you they know the underlying feel of it. I’ll be damned if my child ever feels it’s okay to hurt or belittle another person for who they are. So please, help my child feel safe to stand up for what’s right. Help his classmates embrace him for who he is and him to embrace them for who they are, each individually. Help him to trust his “inside feeling” when something isn’t right. If a child is lonely, encourage him to find a way to help. If he is the lonely one, encourage another child to do the same for him.

This all starts at home, and I need you to help me continue it at school.

I don’t care how fast he can do a math worksheet or how neat his handwriting is. I care about whether he’s happy. I care about what things make him happy. I care about whether he loves others as he loves himself and that he loves himself as he loves others. I tell him to always help others because it is the right thing to do. To always have open arms.  I need you to show him in action.

I’m sure this is redundant, and something you already do without question. Maybe I’m just writing this to reassure myself.

Thank you for teaching our kids math, handwriting, and all the other academic necessities that serve us well in life. But mostly thank you for training up our kids to be humans when they are with you. Good humans. Humane, kind, generous, strong humans who will steer humanity in the right direction. I could do it all by myself, but I’m choosing not to. I’m choosing not to because I feel like it takes a village, and our family extends beyond blood to the people around us that we share aspects of our life with.

 

From my hands to yours.

rabbit