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We’ve seen a lot of sadness in our corner of the world this week.  Lots of loss, massive losses to our community, and none warranted or expected.  It’s been hard to get off my mind, as I’ve watched both adults and children question, mourn, and try to make sense of events that truly cannot be understood.  While life goes on, and we have no choice but to move forward, I find we also need to take time out to process, discuss, hug, cry, and be with one another.

As a mother, as a homeschooler, as a psychologist, I’ve tried to help my own children process loss the best way I know how.  As a point of self-disclosure, I’ll also share that we very unexpectedly lost one of our sweet cats this week, only three months after having to say goodbye to our other cat.  Experiencing this personal loss, while watching the world reel from the shock of horrific shootings and an alligator attack, was just too much.  To honor our feelings and those we were mourning, I felt it necessary to take time out to just be.  No one can change such earth-shattering tragedies, but we can ease ourselves through the process of coping with loss.

Allow Your Kids to Feel

So often, our society teaches us that the best way to comfort a child is to ease their sadness.  We can be quick to say, “Wipe away those tears,” “Don’t be sad, it’ll be okay,” or “Everything happens for a reason.”  Yet, that does nothing to validate or honor the emotional process that you and your child are experiencing at the moment.  Even though I, too, would like to do nothing more than halt my kids’ sadness, I know the best way to do so is to let them experience it.  When I feel sad, when my kids feel sad, we sit and talk about what the sadness feels like.  We reassure ourselves that it is okay to feel sad, to cry, to express the pain and confusion of loss, and the fear of living in a world that seems upside down at times.  I’m not advocating for endless wallowing for the sake of doing so, but rather letting yourself, and your child, fully flesh out the sadness until it passes on its own.  Sometimes, it really helps to hear that it’s okay to be sad, to share it, and that the feelings will continue to come and go as we heal.  Permission to feel what you’re feeling is a powerful and respectful part of the grieving process.

Surround Yourself with Loved Ones

Many times, we want to hibernate when we experience profound sadness or loss.  Those feelings are normal, but I find it invaluable to also spend some time with loved ones, and allow for distractions.  Intense feelings are hard to process without breaks, whether it be cuddling up on the couch with a favorite movie, spending an afternoon with good friends, a family get together, or going to a place of worship.  In the Jewish faith, loss of a first-degree loved one is followed by a week-long Shiva, in which friends and family visit the individual who experienced the loss, and just *be* with them.  Spending time with friends and family as you feel sad can ease and help refill your heart.  Even if it is done virtually, allow yourself and your child to reach out to social supports and share feelings, benefit from the comfort of others, and experience a break from overwhelming emotions.

Kindness

Kindness matters. Being good to others matters.  When making sense of the senseless, sometimes the best thing we can do is to do good for someone else.  Bake brownies for your single neighbor, gather some pet food and blankets and drop them off at a shelter, make some PB&J sandwiches and bring them to a soup kitchen, donate your spare change to the Salvation Army, pay the toll of the person behind you when crossing the bridge, pick up trash on a hike.  It won’t change what happened, but it can change the future.  Random acts of kindness, paying it forward, and putting positivity out into the Universe can’t hurt.  If we model love and kindness for our children, chances are, they’ll embody it as well.

Talk, and talk, and talk

In generations past, kids were kind of kept on a need-to-know-basis.  Parents didn’t tell them what didn’t concern them, since hey, they were just kids.  These days, there’s no keeping kids in the dark.  With tv/the internet/social media, our kids know what’s going on, sometimes even before we do.  While we have to consider how many details they can handle developmentally, it’s not helpful to downplay what’s going on in the world with promises we cannot keep.  Instead of promising, “It won’t happen here,” it can be better to discuss what you and your family can do to keep safe.  It’s important to answer their questions the best way you can, offering to do research on a topic or find a trusted person who can shed more light, if you cannot.  When our children walk into the room when we’re discussing the most recent national or international tragedy, and we quickly change the subject or go silent, they know. They know, and it scares them, because they wonder what the adults in their world are hiding.  Instead, empower kids by helping them understand the basics of the situation, answering their questions, offering them your love, and a hug.  We can’t change what’s happened and we can’t prevent it, but we can make our kids feel as safe and protected as possible.

In the end, sometimes all we can offer one another is our love.  It may not feel like enough, but it can also be the most powerful tool for healing a broken heart and overcoming the unthinkable tragedies we see every day.  Yes, we need international change, reform, and so many political overhauls.  Yes, we cannot just sit back and love one another and expect change.  Yet, when it comes to the need to hold your family tightly and be there with one another, love is all you need.

One thing I’m grateful for is that my Mom never subscribed to the idea that Valentine’s Day was just for sweethearts. She always made sure my brother and I felt special either by buying us a heart-shaped box of chocolates or stuffed animals or making us homemade cards. Out of all the cards and gifts she’s given me over the course of my life, there is one item I’ve held onto for nearly 30 years; a home-made Valentine’s Day card written from her heart.

Homemade Valentine's Day Card

With the help of fellow moms from my Facebook moms group I’ve compiled a list of 8 fun and super sweet ways to show your kids love this Valentine’s Day.

1. Figure Out Their Love Language – If you’ve never read “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, I highly recommend it to figure out the way your partner prefers you show them love. There’s a fun quiz you can have your child take to find out their love language whether it’s words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time or physical touch. It’s recommended for children ages 9-12. Why not show them love this Valentine’s Day the way that they prefer, whether it’s with a gift, a hug or serving them their favorite dinner?

2. Create A Love Bank – With a recycled coffee can, some paper and dollar store craft supplies you can create a bank for love notes for your child. You can deposit notes for them leading up to Valentine’s Day or all year long and have them “withdraw” a note whenever they need a reminder of Mommy and Daddy’s love for them. My kids loved the bank I created for them.

Love Bank 16Love Bank 2

3. Homemade Cards – Cards from the store are just fine, but there is something wonderfully intimate about a card made by your own two hands. Kids are always working hard on homemade gifts and cards for us, so it’s extra special when we show them that we’re willing to take the time to make something for them.

5. Edible Hearts– You can put a greased cookie cutter on the griddle and fill it with pancake batter to make them special heart-cakes for breakfast on Valentine’s Day. You can cut out heart-shaped cookies and have each child decorate and give it to a family member, like Melissa from Kingston does with her children. You could also cut their sandwiches into hearts using cookie cutters like Dorothy from Stone Ridge does.

6. Hide-A-Heart – For days leading up to Valentine’s Day, Jodie from Poughkeepsie cuts out paper hearts with messages of love for each of her girls and hides them under their pillows to find in the morning. What a sweet way to start the day!

7. Hugs & Kisses Trail – You could leave them a trail of Hershey’s Kisses and/or Hugs leading up to a larger surprise like a gift or you could simply give them a basket to collect kisses Easter-egg hunt style. You might want to leave them out in the open as nobody wants to find melted chocolate days, weeks or months later.

8. Make A Date – Whether you take a trip to a museum, the movies or simply go out for lunch, letting your child decide what you should do together makes this date super special. It’s really hard to spend alone time with each child if you have more than one, so a special date alone with Mom or Dad is an amazing gift.

What are your favorite Valentine’s Day traditions with your kids?

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found blogging at Hudson Valley Parent Magazine and thenodramamama.com when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her otherwise three adorable kiddos. This frugal, “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow me on Facebook or Twitter for my delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails.

 

 

Wedding

When Your Love Tank Is Low

This morning started with a fight about money, but to be fair it started brewing yesterday. It’s probably the thing my husband and I fight most about, though to be perfectly honest we don’t fight all that often. I think there are resentments, fears and misunderstandings you need to voice in order to move forward. In a marriage, you have two people who have agreed to create a life together and it’s our individuality that sometimes gets in the way. When our love tank is nearing empty or completely dry, we get caught in the prison of our own feelings. “You made me feel this way.” “You are doing this wrong and I can’t tolerate it.” We tend to forget completely about the “we” created when you said, “I Do.” There are so many blessings that can quickly turn to pitfalls if you fail to put your marriage first. Marriage isn’t a sprint to get down the alter, it’s a Spartan race and you need to train every day or you won’t be prepared to go the distance.

It Could ALWAYS Be You

I’ll never forget talking to a woman whose husband was unfaithful and wanted to leave her and their family. It was heartbreaking. I told her, “If you still love him, you fight for him.” We’re taught that if someone hurts you, it’s the “right thing” to walk away and not to forgive and rebuild. Let’s face it, we live in a disposable world and some people view marriage the same way. I’m not judging anyone who is or has gone through a divorce, I’m simply suggesting that it should be the very last card you have to play. I prayed for her and her family for months and it bothered me so much more than it probably should have. It wasn’t my marriage after all, but I think it bothered me because I knew it could have been. No this is not a confession. My husband NEVER cheated on me, but every marriage goes through trials you think will break you and you come to the question of fighting for it or not. With my background, I knew trials were just part of life.

This Ain’t No Cake Walk

When my mother-in-law passed away just two months before our wedding, I just knew that marriage wasn’t going to be a cake walk, especially when you have to decide from the very beginning whether to go through with a celebration while still nursing your grief. I can say after going through the death of three parents together, a miscarriage, loss of a business and financial strain that I can see how easy it is to want to give up. The key is to use those times to pull you together instead of push you apart. Our natural tendency, at least mine, is to isolate. BUT the BEST part of marriage is that you are NEVER alone. I married my best friend and the WORST part about fighting with him is that I can’t talk to him about it. We do our best never to let it linger too long and we move forward together. If you want to go the distance avoid these are four common pitfalls.

1.Putting The Kids First – Ever since the day they were born it seems only natural to make sure they have every single thing they need. While your kids should be a priority, I’m saying they shouldn’t be your first one and I’ll tell you why. So many end up sending their kids out into the world at the age of 18 only to discover that they’ve spent all their energy on being parents and they don’t even know how to be married anymore. Your kids are always watching you and they are building their love map based on how they see you and your spouse treat each other. If you don’t make your marriage a priority they won’t have a clear understanding of how to work together with their spouse to overcome obstacles, and going the distance means they can expect many of them.

2. Not Having Sex – You might protest that you don’t have time, are too tired, too busy, don’t feel attractive right now and it’s just not that important anyway. Just imagine going months without hearing, “I love you.” I think that would be awful. You might laugh, but I think sex is marriage superglue. It forms an instant connection to your spouse. I can always tell if my husband and I are getting on each others nerves it’s time to do the deed ASAP. We get caught up in the utilitarian aspects of marriage; what the other person brings to the table. Did they take out the trash, pay the electric bill, or take the car in for repairs? Marriage isn’t a service industry though. It’s not about you each pulling your weight. It’s about making a choice to live life together. It’s also making sure your partner’s love tank isn’t empty. When it is, unfortunately that’s when people start looking for unpleasant ways to get a fill up.

 

3. Being A Fair Weather Fan – We all know someone who roots passionately for “their team” when they’re doing good, but the second they lose a game or they’re out of the playoffs it’s “that team sucks!” You need to be your spouse’s biggest fan at their WORST. I’m talking, “I wracked up some serious credit card debt, lost my job, kissed a co-worker” kind of WORST. People will let you down sometimes and you and your spouse are not immune. This is where choice comes in. You may not WANT to love them at their worst, but this is where you must CHOOSE to love them. Love is not this wishy washy hallmark card; it’s a Spartan race with hazard warnings. I will tell you this- there will come a day for all of us where you will find yourself thinking, “Should I stay or should I go?” If you dig deep, grit your teeth and get in the race, you will find your marriage stronger at the other end and more prepared to deal with anything life throws at you. Forgiveness is also a choice; not an easy one, but one necessary for a long and happy marriage. It should come with repentance though; trust needs to be restored in order to move forward.

4. Not Fighting Fair – I will admit that I don’t always fight fair. I get completely wrapped up in my own emotions and say things like, “Well, you don’t care about us because you did this.” I know I need to stop seeing my spouse’s choices as some grand if then statement. If you do this then you love me and if you don’t do that then you don’t. I forget that although I know him so well, that doesn’t mean I can speak for him in these one sided pre-arguments in my head. There is no completely right or completely wrong in any situation. You’ve gotta be willing to listen (really listen not just waiting for your turn to defend your point). The goal is not to WIN the battle only to LOSE the war. You should never use tactics like name calling or bringing up things that have previously been forgiven. If forgiving is hard, then the leaving the past in the past is even harder.

There are some days when the stress of life gets so bad and you vent on your spouse because they are your safe place. It happens. This is where sincere apology comes in. There will also be fights where you could repeat them verbatim from the last time. BUT here’s what I KNOW. I have loved my husband EVERY SINGLE SECOND from the moment we met 16 years ago. I have LOVED him EVEN WHEN I HATED HIM. When there is LOVE, true knock down and get back up, LOVE you fight for it. At the end of the day, there is no fairy tale just the story of your lives and you have to REMEMBER that you’re writing it together.

Love Bank 3

With the recent passing of Valentine’s Day I’m reminded of the Valentine’s Day card my mother made for me when I was eight. It was a simple cut out heart with pages inside filled with her heartfelt words about how much she loved me and how she was so thankful that God gave her a daughter like me. Over the years my mother sent me flowers more times than I can count for Valentine’s Day or birthdays, but this card I have held onto all these years. This is the legacy I want to leave my own kids, giving them words straight from my heart that they can hold onto long after I’m gone. That’s why I created the Love Bank.

Love Bank 2

I took a simple coffee can and glued construction paper around it. I decorated it with a heart saying “Love Bank” and cut an opening in the top of the lid for the depositing of Love notes for our family. I decorated it with some ribbon and heart stickers, which were plentiful right before Valentine’s Day.

Love Bank 16

I told my kids they were welcome to write notes for any of our family members and put them in there. I filled it with notes about what I love about each of my children. This morning I had them read some of the notes I put in there. Hannah read quietly, a shy smile spreading across her face. I had to read Jayden’s notes to him, which were met with, “Thanks mommy. I love you!” He even hugged Hannah after reading one of my notes to him. Hannah read some of the notes I wrote for Sydney to her. All in all I think it went over well. I think they liked reading what I wrote for each of them.

Love Bank 17

I asked where we should keep our love bank and Jay found the perfect spot – on the mantel tucked in between photos of each of my children. I hope this is a tradition I can keep going. I’m trying hard to be more intentional with my words because life is short and it’s precious. I tell them I love them all the time, but I’m attempting to fill their little hearts with all the reasons why. I’m investing in the people they will become. They will be husbands and wives and hopefully parents one day too. I want them to be intentional with their words and love.

 

I LOVE the saying, “children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the important work.” So if this post inspires you in any way to be more intentional with your words that’s amazing, but my main reason for writing this blog is so my children will one day have this unique insight into my heart and who I am. I’m dropping little bread crumbs, leading them slowly into a world that will one day be void of me. It’s my hope that all the crumbs that have been collected along the way will nourish their spirits so they can go into that world knowing exactly how loved they are.

Flowers and chocolate were so last year! With the craze of Pinterest for endless inspiration at our fingertips it is easy to get lost in find many things you and the kids can do together. If you aren’t up for it, you don’t need to be the next Pinterest Queen or Betty Crocker. Valentine’s Day is all about love, family and showing each other how much you care. With the 10 ideas below, you can keep it as simple or get as elaborate as you want. And in the comments, tell us what special Valentine’s Day traditions you have with your family.

Getting out for some adult time this weekend? Check out my last list: 10 Date Night ideas in the Hudson Valley

1. Homemade gifts. Coupon books, love letters or heart shaped gifts loveare usually pretty popular with most parents I know. But great handmade gifts don’t have to be just for mom and dad. With a little creativity you can come up with some great gifts the kids will love. A “certificate” for a mommy and me date night, or a coupon book filled with “get out of chores for a night” or “ice cream for dinner”, etc. coupons or a thoughtful handwritten letter could go a long way too. And don’t forget about the adults. In most cases, a thoughtful handmade gift goes a lot way over a store bought one. HVParent’s Pinterest Page has lots of great ideas too!

2. Decorate. I have a box of saved holiday art work from the kids, mostly Christmas pictures and crafts that I like to hang back up around the holiday. My mom did the same with our art and I love to see how my kids’ art changes over the years. So dig out love notes, those handmade cards from past years and construction paper hearts from the pre-k days and use them to decorate your home for Valentine’s Day.Bacon-Hearts

3. Start the day off with love. Luckily, Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year- so no need to get up extra early for this one. We make birthday pancakes for birthdays, snowman pancakes for Christmas and our little Leprechaun friend turns our pancakes green on St. Patrick’s Day so it’s only natural our valentine’s day starts off with pink and red heart shaped pancakes and bacon. You can twist bacon into the shapes of hearts, use (metal) cookie cutters to make eggs or pancakes into fun shapes and even cut your fruit into little bite size hearts! (20 breakfast ideas found here on popsugar.com)

4. Share the love. Chances are you are making or filling out your share of school Valentines anyway, so make a few extra to spread a little love this Valentine’s Day! Have the kids decorate paper hearts to make and take to the local nursing home, or fill out boxed cards to deliver to the local fire house or hospital. The kids will get a kick out of carrying a few for unsuspecting strangers during the day, like a waitress, cashier or neighbor. This sweet gesture will go a long way to spread a little love.

babw5. Family time. A mom- friend posted recently looking for suggestions on ways to spend V-Day with the family. I was surprised how many moms had the same plans this year. Seems like many are heading to Build-a-Bear Workshop to let the kids create their special Valentine’s Day gift. A great idea! If Build-a-Bear isn’t in the budget (they start with stuffed animals at $10) find something you can all enjoy doing together. A fun family outing is a great way to spend the “holiday” together.

Here are a few more ideas:

Family Date Night Spots

Ice Skating

Sledding

Indoor Play Spots

And check HVParent.com for a calendar filled with local fun! 

6. Dinner with your loves. You can stay in and cook, but since we moms like to be spoiled too on Valentine’s Day it might be a good night to hit the town. Nights like these I like to choose an early dinner reservation, get the kids fed, bathed and in bed early enough for some adult alone time 😉

Find a family- friendly restaurant here or here.

7. Dance Party. Any excuse is a good one for a family dance party! After dinner clear the furniture, kick up the music and put on some of your favorite love jams. Don’t forget to save some slow dancing for your significant other!cookie

8. Baking cookies. My kids love to visit the Mid- Hudson Children’s Museum to get their energy out in the winter. They love the new fire truck, and pretending to bake the tallest cakes they can. For the last two years, they have loved to come to the museum near Valentine’s Day to decorate their own heart shaped sugar cookies (event info here). I love that the mess stays outside of my house and we can pack a lunch and make a day of it. But you don’t need to head out to make pink- frosting covered memories with the kids. Whip up a batch of your favorite cookie recipe (this is mine from iheartnaptime.com) and get to work.

notes9. Exchange valentines. I saw this adorable felt envelop last year and was dying to make them for my kids (…of course I never did) but I still love the idea. The blogger who created the one shown here filled out little notes to leave each night for her kids leading up to Valentine’s Day. If you are like me and pin a bunch of things you never do on Pinterest you can always use a decorated shoe box, manila envelope or store bought little mailbox (Michaels sells cute ones!) for each member of the family. Then every night before bed, everyone can write a sentence or 2 for each person to be opened at breakfast! (Image and idea from Blonde Designs Blog).

10. Surround yourself with love. Whether you choose to stay home, go out, craft or just relax, remember to surround yourself with love this Valentine’s Day. We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get the best gifts, make the best crafts or turn our breakfast into the best heart shaped bacon our kids have ever seen. While it’s sometimes fun to go over the top, it isn’t necessary. A simple “I love you” from the heart can mean more than heart shaped pancakes and fancy gifts. Keep it in perspective, don’t stress over details and above all else surround yourself with love, after all that’s what it’s really about.

Does your family have any special Valentine’s Day traditions? Share in the comments!

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A Black And White World

We’re living in a powder keg of racial tension right now and it often makes me wonder how my children fit into a world that is determined to see black and white without acknowledging shades of gray (or brown). When I first started dating my husband at the age of 18 I did feel the need to let my parents know before their first meeting that he was black. I think based on their reactions, they didn’t really understand why I was telling them at all. They could have cared less about his race and loved him immediately.

Bi-racial Babies Are Beautiful

As time marched on, we finished college, got married, and then got pregnant with our first daughter Hannah. I’m not going to lie, I did wonder what she would look like. When my daughter came out looking white, my husband feared that despite her looking exactly like him people might assume he was her step-father instead of her biological father. Being bi-racial himself he had grown up experiencing the polarization of race. In some circles he was considered black or at least “not white” and in others he was told he was “not really black” or “not black enough.”

What Is She?

It wasn’t until a mom in the daycare I ran asked my business partner while I was out of the room, “What is Hannah (racially speaking)” that I truly came to understand what being bi-racial would mean for my kids. It means that they will get quizzical looks as people try to figure out what they are. They were born into a world that sees color as static instead of fluid. Bi-racial children like mine don’t fit the check boxes. For my part I always check both the black and white boxes on medical or school forms. To say they are white because they look white is simply untrue. They are no more mine than my husband’s (though I do like to remind him that I did all the hard work bringing them into the world).

Seeking Out Diversity

I try to immerse my children in culturally diverse environments. Their school is very ethnically diverse. When choosing a church I wanted my children to see people of all colors represented there. When we became friends with our neighbors who shared the same family makeup of a black father, white mother and bi-racial children I said a silent prayer of gratitude. As a white woman, there will always be things about race I don’t know or feel, but I do know that when I look at my husband and children I don’t see what makes us different; I simply see the people I love.

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Seeing Relationships Instead Of Race

One day about two years ago Hannah referred to our family as white. I asked her if she thought we were all the same color to which she replied “yes.” I let her know that Daddy is black and white and she is both as well. But I realized later that she had it right. She doesn’t see in shades of color, but rather shades of love and in that way we are truly all the same.

In my effort to make sure she doesn’t neglect her bi-racial heritage, I made a huge error. Children are born ready and willing to be color blind because they see through the lens of love. The best thing we can do for our children is to stop pointing out the ways we are different. If we all saw the world as children, especially bi-racial children, we would see relationships instead of race because in our house there is no “black daddy” or “white mommy,” but simply mommy and daddy who love them more than anything in the world.

I’m totally trying to tame my inner control freak. All too often I find my mind-set is always out to prove that I can do everything by myself, especially when it comes to parenting. I laugh at the grocery cashier who asks if I’m going to be able to carry all those bags by myself with the baby. “You just don’t know what I’m capable of,” I think and sometimes I say it out loud, well because I have a tendency to just blurt out what comes into my head. Despite my stubbornness, the truth is that we all need support. Parenthood is a hard and sometimes lonely road. I should know.  My husband and I were the first of our friends to get married and have kids which sort of left me waiting for everyone else to catch up.

Thank You For Being A Friend

I didn’t have friends I could call when I had a parenting question or who could encourage me when I was certain I was screwing everything up. So I’m about to channel my college years, which as weird as it sounds were spent watching many many reruns of the Golden Girls. Weird for a teenager to be watching, I hear ya, but my roommate was a huge fan and we ended up bonding over the show.

So if you’ve ever watched the show you know how very different each of the four women were who shared their house and lives with each other. It got me thinking about  how important it is to have other mom friends to turn to when things get rough. So I’ve compiled a list of the seven mom friends everyone should have. I’m not saying women are only one thing or only play one role, but typically the things they bring to our lives stand out in such a positive way that their absence would become apparent immediately.

Allison

Allison is the very best #NeighborMom friend you could hope for. She’s just a short walk away when I need her which is all the time.

The Neighbor Mom #NeighborMom

She’s there when you need to borrow a cup of sugar, need someone to watch your kids while you run to the store and just can’t deal with dragging the kids along, and who steps in when you have an emergency and really need her. My Neighbor Mom friend was there for me in the middle of the night when I went into labor with Sydney. She picked up my kids that morning and drove them to camp, picked them up and cared for them like her own for more than a day while I was in the hospital. Every mom should have a Neighbor Mom friend who is a beacon in an otherwise unreliable, unpredictable world.

The Frugal Mom #FrugalMom

She’s the one reminding you to check the price tag on that outfit before you fall in love with it. She teaches you little tricks to save money and doesn’t insist that every get together involve  going out on the town. Hanging out in a casual way is the name of the game. Think play dates in sweat pants with coffee. The Frugal Mom keeps you grounded and encourages you to think long-term so that little problems like your water heater going or your car needing repairs don’t break your bank or your sanity. She also reminds you to count your blessings instead of someone else’s.

The Spiritual Mom #SpiritualMom

I can’t tell you how valuable it is to have a Spiritual Mom friend who shares your beliefs. It can be a lonely road when you have to hide your faith for fear of other people judging you. She will pray for and with you when you just feel so incredibly empty and you desperately need to be spiritually fed. My new Spiritual Mom friend shared a prayer with me recently about how to overcome yelling at your kids. She reminds you to lean on your faith in times you feel all alone. If you aren’t particularly religious, it still might be nice to have a Spiritual Mom friend.

 

The Back In The Day Mom #BITDMom

Most of the mom friends you have were probably forged after you became a mom. While that’s cool, it’s also great to have a mom friend who knew you back in the day. You know back before your name became “Mom.” We all need reminding from time to time of the carefree person we once were. We need reminding that before we had children we were special in our own right. We had interests, talents, and yes even made hilarious mistakes for which the Back In The Day Mom will NEVER let us forget.

The Pinterest Queen Mom #PinterestMom

She bakes from scratch, throws the most amazing kids’ birthday parties, and can craft with the best of them. Not all of us have the skills to mend a tear in our child’s costume two hours before the start of the play. We need the Pinterest Mom’s creativity. They make you want to “pin” those special moments when you try just a little harder than the last time. Sure your cupcakes may not look exactly like Elmo, but the Pinterest Mom makes us want to try new things and reminds us that it doesn’t matter how you ice the cake, it’s who you bake it for that matters.

The In The Know Mom #ITKMom

She’s got the 411 on the best orchards for apple picking, knows where every free kids’ event is in a 50 mile radius, and reminds you of every school picture day, soccer practice and field trip. We all have so much on our plate it can be crazy trying to keep it all straight. I think we all owe a large debt of gratitude to the In The Know Mom who helps keep us focused on the task at hand and makes sure we don’t miss out on all our community has to offer.

The Been There Done That Mom #BTDTMom

Whether her kids are just a few years older than yours or grown and out of the house, there is so much wisdom to be gleaned from the Been There Done That Mom. She’s been through what you’re going through and lived to tell the tale. She’s got advice that doesn’t come with a side of judgment; hers comes with a special blend of understanding and empathy. She listens to your problems and gives you possible solutions to try. She knows that parenting is a LOT of trial and error. You look up to her because you know if she survived it, you can too.

So share this post and tag all the moms who make your journey through parenthood a lot more beautiful and a lot less lonely. And if you’re as nerdy as me you can even serenade her with the Golden Girls theme song: “Thank you for being a friend. Travel down the road and back again. Your heart is true. You’re a pal and a confidant.”

Me: “This week I’m writing about the reasons why we should have sex even though we’re so busy.

Husband: “Because it’s fun. Blog done.”

What else could I say?  The man had a point.  But after our stimulating conversation, I continued to think on it. After all, I had 300 to 500 words to write.

For me, fun isn’t always enough to combat the overwhelming business of life.  What I need is a whole host of whys that I can refer back to when I need motivation to get busy even though I’m busy.

So here goes…

“Why Busy Parents Should Have Sex: A Comprehensive List”

1. Because it’s fun (some of you may be able to stop here)

2. Your partner will be in a better mood.

3. You will be in a better mood.  (this magically makes your children seem easier to take care of and all around more lovable and cute.)

4. It counts as exercise (this is a helpful one if you’re like me and never get up to squeeze in an a.m. workout)

5. Chocolate tastes even better after you’ve done it.

6. You can enjoy G rated snuggle time afterwards (without anyone trying to grab your boobs)

7. Your stress will wash away for at least 5, maybe even 60, minutes.

8. You will be practicing mindfulness (nothing’s better than being in the moment)

9. You will remember your wild side.

10. It gives you a reason to change the sheets (Ew!  Gross, but true)

11.  It gives you a reason to take a shower.

12. You will most likely share a laugh with your partner either before, during, or after.  (What’s better than a laugh?)

13.  You will sleep better.

14. You will catch a glimpse of the couple you used to be, remember how far you’ve come, and you will love each other even more than you thought you ever could.  (Now granted this won’t happen during every little quickie you’re trying to fit in here and there, but it happens when you need it most. Sometimes you can  look into the eyes of the person you love, really look, and you will see the whole life you created together.)

Why do you make time to do it?  Add to my list!

 

 

 

 

 

Why, after seven years of marriage, do I find it incredibly hard to hit on my husband?

My latest line to get him in the sack was, “You’ve got some work to do tonight, baby.”  My gumption was drained as my husband laughed so hard at this feeble attempt at sexiness, that his microbrew almost came out of his nose.  On a separate occasion, I tried a few intriguing dance moves that left me looking like Elaine from Seinfeld and my husband in tears.

I used to have it.  I used to exude sexual confidence.  Now…mmmmmm…not so much.

To be clear, this is all my awkward doing.  My husband would gladly, and with fervor, do the dirty any night (or morning for that matter) of the week.  I’m the one trying to bring my sexy back, and damn it’s tough!  My husband has seen two humans come out of my lady parts, and he has watched my perky breasts turn into milk-making machines. More recently, he has picked me up from the bathroom floor after an all night pukefest when the nastiest stomach bug this side of the Hudson hit our home.  He has dried my tears when the pressures of motherhood have crippled me.

For me, these moments have committed a kind of “sexual robbery,” hijacking my confidence in the bedroom.  Ironically, those same moments have actually made me sexier and more beautiful in his eyes.  Through my husband’s eyes, watching me give birth transformed me into the most powerful superhero.  While breastfeeding, I was a tireless caregiver, on the clock twenty-four hours a day.  Supporting me during times of sickness and hardship allows him to step into the role of caregiver, reminding him of how much work mothers do each day.

Strength, commitment, dedication…these qualities are added to the definition of sexy in a marriage.

But why can’t I see what he sees?

Tonight, I’m going to hug my man, use his gaze as a mirror, and silently sing, “I’m Too Sexy” in my head.

I know you’re expecting some more money saving strategies for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but being frugal is not the obsession to save money just as the people on the other end of the spectrum obsess about spending money.  If you want some great tips for saving money on your Thanksgiving Dinner, Hudson Valley Parent has you covered. As we are rapidly approaching Thanksgiving I’m reminded of Christmas shopping because that’s how retailers are; always pushing you into the next holiday before the current one has even started.

I’ve silently watched over the last few years as black Friday deals and sales started creeping closer and closer to the end of Thanksgiving.  I’ll even admit that there was a time when I did get up before the sun and stand in line in the freezing cold to get that “dream item” I so desperately wanted to get at bargain prices. To any one who still has the motivation to do this, I say fine go for it. What I do have a problem with is retailers enticing people to push back from the dinner table early to go shopping. That’s a fine display of gratitude for what we have on Thanksgiving right? So my question is, what are we doing to our families all in the name of making them happy?

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Do we want our kids to remember that really awesome toy under the tree that we froze our butt’s off for?  Sorry, but this pretty much never happens.  What we remember from our childhoods is the same as what our kids will remember from theirs, which is being together. Toys and trinkets often get broken or forgotten before January ushers us into Valentines Day before we’re ready. Do we want our kids to love what we get them, more than they love us?  If that were the case, would we look into those beautiful little eyes of theirs and tell them we love them because they did the dishes or picked up their toys?  No, we love our kids not for what they do for us, but for who they are and I for one want my kids to feel the same way about me.

As someone who has lost both parents by age 32, there is one thing I know for sure. I would give ANYTHING for more TIME with them. It goes so fast and the objects my parents bought me, the places they brought me, and the countless things they did for me are just swirls of color in my memory. What I want more than anything is that time, just talking to them, feeling their love for me through their words and their hugs and kisses.

So while I wouldn’t be the Discount Diva if I didn’t think spending less money on the things we NEED was important, I have learned that the real gifts in life are FREE. Before your face disappears from those Thanksgiving photos with smiling people (the faces you love and cherish) I just implore you to ask yourself what that bargain is really costing you.

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