None of my three kids were born in the month of their due dates. My oldest was due May 30, but was born June 6. My middle was due December 12, but was born November 30. My youngest was due July 1, but arrived on June 27.
May’s birthstone is an emerald. December’s is the aquamarine. July gets the ruby. I should have had a beautiful rainbow of birthstones for Mother’s Day jewelry. Instead, I have a topaz and two pearls. The pearls translate to a purple stone called alexandrite when you shop for birthstone jewelry.
Ladies, are you lining up for jewels in orange and purple?
No, me neither.
So my husband is screwed when it comes to finding great Mother’s Day gifts for me. Add in the fact that my birthday is typically about a week after Mother’s Day, and he’s screwed twice over. And not in the good way.
So, in an effort to make his life easier for next year (let’s face it, Mother’s Day is less than a week away. It’s too late for this year.), I’m making this list to which he can refer for all years moving forward.
A Performance Evaluation
Tell us what we’re doing well. Once we leave the workforce to become stay-at-home moms, we gain the benefits of being able to work from home in our pajamas. However, we also lose the perks of adult interaction and an awareness of what’s happening in the world outside our door. Perhaps the biggest perk we miss from our working days, though, is the performance evaluation. Let’s face it, the guilt and worry that we are screwing up our children comes with motherhood. We can’t avoid it. Someone to pat us on the back for a job well done, and an acknowledgement of all of our hard work would be a welcome surprise. It’s not a celebratory event. It’s just a small nod in our direction that lets us know that we’re not failing at absolutely everything.
A Week Off of Laundry Duty
For me, laundry is my nemesis. For others, perhaps it’s cleaning the toilet or doing the dishes. What an amazing gift it would be to have that one most-despised job taken off of our plate for a week, or even just a few days. It’s a dream, really.
A Clean Toilet
That brings me to this wish. That the toilet would stay clean. If there are boys in the house, I can guarantee you that Mom has wished there was a moat on the floor surrounding it. Boys are gross. Teach them to aim, or at the very least, to grab a Clorox wipe from the canister Mom keeps next to the toilet and wipe up their own splatter.
No Armchair Quarterbacking
Dads, when you leave the house to go to work, Mom has to get everything done for the kids. She makes 1,000 decisions each day in relation to their lives. Don’t come home and question her choices. Or, worse yet, question the kids about Mom’s choices. If you aren’t there in the moment to get the job done, you don’t get the power to criticize or second-guess. We do enough of that all on our own. Remember that every mother has built-in worry and guilt over EVERYTHING. She doubts herself enough without having you hear your armchair quarterback calls after the fact. It may not be intended to hurt, but it does. Please think before you speak.
Daddy’s Power of Invisibility
“Mommy! I need…” or “Mom! Can I have…” or “Mom, where is my…?” or “Mommy, look at this!”
When we’re in the bathroom, in the shower, making dinner, talking on the phone, or folding laundry, the short people have radar to know when Mom’s busy. For Mother’s Day, step in and intercept their requests and demands. Be like a super hero. Act like a Mom shield. Throw off your cloak of invisibility and pass that power to her for a day or two.
A Few Hours Away
On Mothers Day, moms want to be recognized by their kids and husbands for all they do every day. But that doesn’t mean they want to be around their kids all day. That’s their normal place in life everyday. Instead, send Mom off for a couple of hours to do whatever she loves best. Give her the gift of time to read on the beach, get a massage, or go for a walk. Tell her in advance that she’ll get x amount of hours alone on Mother’s Day so she can plan ahead for how she wants to spend that time. Trust me, when she returns, she’ll want to be with her short people and she’ll appreciate them so much more.
Free Fill Ups
Know her favorite beverage and keep her cup or glass full all day. If she’s a coffee lover, keep the pot hot and her mug full. If she drinks wine, grant her an extra glass in the evening without asking. That magical refilling vessel may just grant you the biggest smiles on Mom’s face all day. We’re Moms. We notice and appreciate the little things.
Fellow Moms, what are some other realistic requests you have for Mother’s Day?
On that note, what requests to the Dads out there have for Father’s Day?
I’d love to hear them in the comments!
For the second time, I have been chosen to be a World Book Night giver for our area. Today, April 23, is the second annual World Book Night. As a giver, I will hand out FREE copies of Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale” to new or light readers. I have 20 copies to give out, so first come, first served. Come out to the New Providence train station at 4:30pm to celebrate literacy and the joy of reading as part of this world-wide event!
6 Benefits of Reading for Yourself
Why read? Reading offers many benefits to people of all ages.
- Parents who read encourage children to read. Are you a parent? When is the last time your children saw you reading for enjoyment? We all want our kids to be strong readers. Did you know that you can help teach your children great reading habits just from them seeing you read? Social Learning Theory describes how modeled behaviors like reading for enjoyment, will encourage children to adopt those same behaviors in which they observe their parents’ participation. Basically, if they see YOU reading, THEY will read more, too.
- Reading reduces stress. Reading for enjoyment, especially reading Fiction, helps toreduce stress and enhances tranquility. When reading a great story, your mind lets go of its worries. Reading causes the mind to shift gears and the body to be still. De-stress your life while engaging your mind.
- Strengthen your brain through reading. Studies have proven that reading stimulates your brain in different ways that other forms of entertainment cannot. Reading sharpens memory, increases learning capacity, and makes your mind stronger. You don’t have to be reading dry, boring texts to get smarter. It’s the act of reading that strengthens your brain.
- Reading’s sexy, and you know it. Okay, so maybe this claim hasn’t been scientifically proven (yet), but there’s an entire Tumblr site dedicated to “Hot Guys Reading Books,” so there must be something to it, right? Seeing someone reading lets you get a sneak peek into their private time. Choosing to read for yourself shows a desire to learn and experience new things. Witnessing someone’s desires? What’s sexier than that?
- Win more Words With Friends and Scrabble games by reading. Want to kick butt in online word games? Reading increases vocabulary. The more you read, the more words you are exposed to. Word exposure is a big part of increased vocabulary. You don’t need to look up definitions to learn word meanings. Your brain will determine meaning through repetition and context. Once the words are learned, they’re forever in your brain bank for high-scoring games.
- Reading enhances social skills. Really! Books offer great conversation starters and topics for discussion. Simply asking, “Have you read any good books lately?” will usually spark a great flurry of chatter. (Just make sure you have a pen handy to write down all the great titles you’ll get if you ask that one!) There’s a reason talk shows feature new bestsellers. Reading the same hot titles forges connections with people. Avoid awkward silences by reading!
For more information about World Book Night, please go tohttp://www.worldbooknight.org
If you liked this post, you’ll love
I just got back from taking my 8-year-old to his first pediatric cardiology appointment. My son has Pectus Excavatum, which is a sunken chest plate, which makes it look like there’s a hole in his chest. The dip in the chest plate can hinder lung and heart function, so we need to start with baseline measurements now so we can accurately monitor it as he gets older. Chances are good that he will eventually need a very invasive surgery to correct it. But, for now, he is a strong, healthy third-grade boy.
He is my oldest, my first baby. The one I’m hardest on, and the one who I worry about the most. I don’t worry about him because of the pectus, but just because I’m a mom and he’s the one who has to pave the way for me, as well as his brother and sister. It’s not fair to him, but it’s the truth. I know this and I try to recognize it when it’s happening so I can give him a fair shake. I feel for the oldest siblings, though. They do have the toughest job.
After receiving today’s good news from the cardiologist, I was surprised to find myself crying while making dinner. I had just heard the exact news for which we had been hoping. He is fine. His heart is strong and is functioning perfectly, despite his condition.
Why then, was my heart fracturing into a million pieces?
I think, as a mom, I am capable of absolutely anything when it comes to being strong for my kids. I will do, say, or be anything to help them through the tough times. However, when the hurdles are jumped, and the obstacles are tackled, all of that mommy-adrenaline fades and I feel like a deflated balloon.
It’s relief. And I’m grateful for it. It means that my kids are okay. It’s a GOOD thing. Yet, it makes me cry and shake and crumble with the weight of the worry we moms put ourselves through. It’s easy to tell a mother not to worry, but it’s an impossible task to actually achieve. We worry all the time. Even when we don’t think we’re worrying.
“Mothers never sleep. We just worry with our eyes closed.”
I’m always amazed at the strength of mothers. I know too many women who have had to endure greater worries than I have. Mothers whose children did not get the great relief of good news from doctors. Mothers who have endured the loss that just shouldn’t be allowed to happen. Yet, even in the face of those struggles, they carry on. They continue to function for their families. Many say that their families are the only reason they can function in the face of such tragedy.
Our children, the very people who cause us such worry and grief, are also our purpose for moving forward, even through the toughest of times.
A mother’s heart is an amazing thing. I know there have been studies on a woman’s threshold for pain. It’s been proven that women can endure more physical pain because we have to bring children into this world. Our hearts are no different. Much like we get whatever extreme drive to make it through childbirth, we also get the capacity to take on emotional struggles and worry like no one else. Unfortunately, the downside of those climaxes means we crash harder, too.
After childbirth, many women go through a plummet of anything from the Baby Blues to Postpartum Depression. I struggled with it myself after each of my children. Likewise, after an emotional surge of strength for our kids, many of us come home to cry over the kitchen sink when it’s over. I experienced it after my younger son went to the ER for stitches, and I went through it again today after my oldest’s doctor appointment.
The cardiologist told me my son’s heart was healthy and strong. He didn’t tell me that my own heart was about to fracture once I processed the good news.
I found an excuse to hug each of my children extra hard, extra long tonight. Then I poured myself a glass of red wine, in the hopes that it’ll fill the void all that worry left in its wake.
I am grateful tonight for the strength of a mother’s heart. My thoughts and prayers go out to all mothers who worry (which is all of us). I hope you’re all able to experience the crush of relief from good news. But I know your hearts will stay strong to carry you through the bad.
We just got back from a whirlwind trip to Disney World with my husband’s entire family. Four days in the Disney parks with nine kids between the ages of 2 and 12, and six adults. We do this every other year as a great way to spend time with the family. Are we nuts? Yeah, a little. But we do have a blast each time. Although, as our kids all get older, we’re realizing that they can and want to do so many new things that we barely had a moment to see each other with all fifteen of us present at the same time.
This year held lots of surprises for me. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a planner. I like to know what’s coming around each corner, so I plan things out as much as possible ahead of time. That personality trait got in the way a bit on this trip. Despite the surprises, we still managed to have a ton of fun and a few laughs along the way. I’ll share our story in three parts.
On the first day in the parks, we all boarded the earliest bus together so my father-in-law could activate our park-hopper passes in person. On the bus, my sister-in-law shared her experience with the TSA out of Richmond. Now, as a mom of three, I think I have it bad when it comes to packing. But I am trumped and humbled by her. She has six kids — that’s right, SIX kids. As is common knowledge, Dads are responsible for packing one bag and their carry-on. Moms get the job of packing everyone else. In my house, that meant that I packed a total of six bags before our trip. For my sister-in-law, that task was doubled. Just absorb that one for a minute. Yeah.
Anyway, when packing bags to be checked versus carry-ons these days, we stress over remembering to put all liquids in the checked bags to avoid any complications with security. (By the way, my husband now wants to know where the TSA draws the line between liquids and solids. Can you bring Jello? How about a coconut?)
After all of the packing and organizing, they got to the security checkpoint and were stopped. For a fairy wand. In her infinite wisdom, my sister-in-law allowed her daughter to bring her plastic light-up fairy wand to Disney World for the electric parade. Since she spent the money at Disney on Ice, she thought it was worth it to bring instead of buy another one new in Florida. The TSA didn’t agree.
“I can’t let you through with that,” said the TSA agent.
“The fairy wand?” asked my sister-in-law incredulously.
“There’s water in the star,” he explained.
In the bus as she was telling this story, our whole family was doubled-over with laughter at this moment. For all her careful planning, she was being stopped for the glittery water in the star at the top of her daughter’s fairy wand. My husband had the best response.
“Forget shoes and box cutters, that Bippity Boppity Bomb is the newest threat!”
We continued laughing all the way to the Animal Kingdom. In hindsight, I now realize that my own daughter would probably get more use from a Bippity Boppity Bomb wand than a princess fairy wand anyway. That was one of my biggest surprises of the trip. Which brings me to my next story.
I have two boys and a girl. My boys are now seven- and eight-years-old and both are tall enough to ride every ride in all four Disney parks. We knew this would be the year of the roller coaster for them. My daughter, however, is four. She still lets me “help” pick out her clothes and put her hair in pigtails with ribbons. She’ll even occasionally play dress-up in one of her princess gowns. I should have taken note when, the last time she was in her Belle gown, she ran after her brothers claiming to be Princess Cinder, the Skylander dragon dressed in a princess gown.
I had high hopes for the new Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. I envisioned taking my daughter there to frolic among the castle walls and do all sorts of girly things while my daredevil boys took the more high-octane tour. It started out that way, at least.
My husband took my boys to Space Mountain and the Buzz Lightyear ride when the park first opened, and I took my daughter to the Harmony Barber Shop in Main Street USA for glitter in her hair. (Disney Tip: hair spray and glitter is free at the Harmony Barber Shop, off to the left by the Fire station when you first walk in the park. Do your daughter’s hair yourself and just breeze in and out in under 5 minutes instead of dropping a fortune at the boutique!)
After her pixie dust, she begged to walk through Cinderella’s castle where she saw the carousel. As horses are her favorite animal, we rode it twice since there was no line. A quick call to my husband confirmed we had enough time to squeeze in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cup ride before meeting up with the boys and figuring out our next plan. My daughter and I were in princess and girlie heaven. As we boarded our tea cup, I explained that Daddy and the boys were just now getting on Space Mountain since that line got long early.
“We’ve done three rides and glitter hair in the time it took them to do one ride, Peanut!” I told her.
“Girls rule and boys drool!!” she shouted and gave me a high-five.
She quickly learned how to control the speed of the spin (full tilt, spinning as fast as her little hands could make it go, of course), and decided that she LOVED Magic Kingdom and wanted to ride every ride she was tall enough to board. We met up with the boys and headed over to Frontierland to get Fast Passes for Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad before heading back over to Fantasyland for more princess fun. We picked up the new Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom cards to occupy the boys while we were in princess mode.
At least, that was the plan. One ride on Thunder Mountain and my daughter decided she was done with princesses. Four more rides and Fast Passes later, we had to head over to meet the family for lunch at the new Be Our Guest restaurant in Fantasyland. I was sure she’d see the castles and reclaim her love of princesses. But I was wrong.
My big plans for girl time were thwarted. Though I tried my best, I couldn’t convince her to stay. Recognizing defeat, we headed back over to Frontierland where we spent the rest of the day with my three daredevils riding as many times as lines would allow. For this planner, that was a big blow to me. I don’t know if it’ll be any different in two years, or if I’ll just have to adjust to my new role as the mom of three roller-coaster junkies. I suppose I win out either way. Which brings me to my last Disney story.
The Barf Bag
We rode every possible roller coaster Disney has to offer over the course of four days. My husband and I both love the thrill rides and were grateful to have my in-laws with us so no one had to sit out on the few rides that my daughter was too short to clear. On my sister-in-law’s side of the family, though, they have one son who has a history of carsickness, and a dad who doesn’t love coasters, so they are used to the divide and conquer method of the parks.
Each family found a way to make it work, though, and we laughed when my niece grabbed a couple of extra motion sickness bags from EPCOT’s Test Track after riding, “as a gift” for her brother. All fifteen of us were grateful that no one actually needed to use one from the rides this trip. Or so we thought.
In past years, we’ve taken this trip in June. Orlando is HOT in June. Sweaty, thick, and so humid it’s hard to breathe. So this year, we tried something new by going in April. Our weather while there was incredibly perfect. High 70′s to low 80′s with low humidity. We couldn’t have asked for better. Flying there and back in April is a different story, though. The different pockets of warm and cool April air made for two of the most turbulent flights I’ve ever been on. And I’ve flown a LOT.
On the trip back home, our plane was the kind with only two seats on either side of the aisle. With a family of five, that means someone is sitting alone. We put my husband with my daughter and my two boys together, with me just across the aisle from the boys. On our final descent back to Newark airport, my younger son coughed a few times before looking at me. His face was pale and pasty.
“Mommy, I don’t feel well,” he said.
I quickly grabbed the handy white barf bag in my seat pocket and reached across the aisle to hold it to his mouth. With the flight attendant looking concerned for my breach of landing rules by blocking the aisle, I rubbed my son’s back and helped him to lose his lunch in the bag in my hand.
We finally touched down and my son leaned back after wiping his mouth. I got a congratulations on a clean job from the grandmother with whom I was sharing my row as I tucked the white bag inside of plastic grocery bag I had stuffed in my carry-on. After we disembarked and were headed to baggage claim, my son looked up at me.
“Mom, Evan must really want to walk everywhere in life, huh?” he said, thinking of his carsick cousin.
Needless to say, we were grateful to be on solid ground and back home. Turns out, my son loved every crazy twist and turn of Disney roller coasters, including the drops in the Tower of Terror and the upside-down loops in Space Mountain and Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster. But the turbulence on the flight home was just too much for his stomach.
Next time, I’ll be sure to grab a few extra bags from Test Track as his gift, too.
(a tribute to Laura Numeroff and parents of toddlers everywhere)
If you give a toddler a hard-boiled egg,
She’ll want to see how far she can throw it.
When she sees you clean up the cracked eggshells,
She’ll want to throw it again “without it’s jacket.”
When you tell her the eggs need their “jackets” on so we can dye them,
If you’re not watching “Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout” on Monday nights on National Geographic, you are missing out!
This is a show well-worth letting my boys stay up late to watch each week. The whole family, my 4-year-old daughter included when it’s been recorded for earlier viewing, LOVES this show.
Yes, it’s another reality TV show, but this is one you can be proud to watch with your kids. I used to be a huge fan of reality shows before they became transparently “Hollywood.” When CBS’s “Survivor” started casting celebrities and past contestants, I tuned out and started following shows like History Channel’s “Gold Rush” and “Dual Survival” instead. (Although I’m still admittedly hooked on “The Bachelor.”)
Check out the trailer here:
The problem with most reality television is that that level of attention on real people changes them. Sure, everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame. But when performing on one season of a reality TV show gives a person celebrity status, they lose their grasp on reality and stop living a normal life. Instead, they live the celebrity life, which is as far from normal as it gets. But I’ve digressed.
This reality show is still new enough, still real enough, to be enjoyable to watch. The team of Boy Scouts on this show are authentic and represent the strength, knowledge, experience, toughness, and humility that is the Boy Scouts of America. This show sheds light on what a fantastic organization the BSA is, and how scouting is still a valid, admirable activity for boys of all ages.
As you’ll see from watching the show, the grown men who compete against the scouts struggle to keep up. Some of the competitors are former scouts themselves who want to see if they still have what it takes. Others think scouting is overrated and attempt to prove that they have all of the knowledge they need without being a scout themselves.
The challenges are all taken from real achievements boys must complete on the road to earning their top rank, the Eagle Scout. As you watch, keep in mind that most boys earn their Eagle Scout by their 18th birthday. That level of dedication, planning and follow-through at such a young age is what earns Eagle Scouts such respect.
The Boy Scouts of America is a service organization. They are not a club or a team, although the boys get all the benefits of both by belonging to the BSA. In my mind, too much emphasis is put on athletics and not enough is put on service for kids these days. By joining scouts, boys have to earn achievement markers for athletics and leadership. They are two important tenets of scouting. But helping others, doing their best, and serving their community are the bigger principals offered by scouting that is missing from many other kids’ activities.
As a Cub Scout den leader for both of my sons, I am obviously a fan of scouting. I think the BSA has a lot to offer and am thrilled to see a show like this highlighting the abilities of accomplished scouts, who retain the scouting spirit of serving their community and helping others.
Whether you and your kids are personally involved in scouting, or you’re just looking for a fun new family-friendly show to watch together, check out National Geographic’s “Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout” on Monday nights at 8pm.
(This started out as a Facebook status update, but quickly spiraled out of control.)
There’s this new book. This awesome book that is funny, and honest, and real, and filled with fantastic writing by great women. And I am insanely jealous over it.
I am not in it, not because I submitted something that wasn’t chosen and the rejection from that still stings. No, I am not it because I didn’t even try.
This is my single biggest hangup as a writer, and probably my greatest hurdle personally in life. I have a major fear of rejection. Not the best attribute for someone who considers herself a writer.
Sure, I put stuff out there all the time. I post stuff here on my blog, do guest posts, freelance writing, etc. But when it comes to the stuff that matters, like my three finished children’s books that have never been sent to any agency or publisher, or my list of written-but-never-posted articles and blog posts that are too raw, and too personal to share, I’m a chicken.
I saw the call for mom bloggers to submit a humor piece for this book. I saw it. I considered it. And then I chickened-out and didn’t even make an attempt. My excuses ranged from “I’m not a humor writer,” to “I’m just not inspired, and who can write well when they’re not inspired?” to “No one has done anything funny lately,” to “Yeah right, out of a bazillion mom bloggers out there, like I’d ever get chosen.” The list of reasons not to try was endless. And then the deadline had passed and I blew it off like I do so many other things for the same reason.
“Stacey,” goes my doubting inner monologue, “you’re a person who can write fairly well. But you’re not original, you’re not special, and you are one out of more than a million people who do the same thing, probably better than you. Being a person who writes does not make you a writer.”
And so I did not try.
About a week ago, the first of my friends who is in this phenomenal book posted something about it on Facebook. I was (and still am) so happy for her. It stung at first, but she’s an excellent writer who has been at this much longer than I have. I honestly thought, “Good for her! That’s so amazing!” and told her so on her post.
Then another friend posted the same thing. Then another blogger who I follow, then another, then another. That’s when it hit me.
The sting of rejection is nothing compared to the regret from not trying.
I have no idea if I even would have written something to make it past the first round of cuts for this book. It’s very possible that I would have tried and failed and felt that sting. But I’ll never know. And that regret just sucks.
Maybe this will give me the kick in the pants I need to write my query letters and send my writing out to be judged. Maybe it won’t. All I know is that I wish I had tried on this one.
To my friends and excellent writers, Amy Bozza who writes the blog My Real Life
and Ashley Taylor over at The Dose of Reality
who both are in this book, I am so so happy for you ladies. You each deserve it and I can’t wait to read this book! Enjoy absolutely every minute of every accolade you receive. They are well-earned!!
To everyone else, go find this book and read it. It’s not everyday that a book by real people beats out Tina Fey on the Amazon humor list!!