By: Sue Anganes
Sometimes, I get writer’s block. I know I need to write a blog post, but why does my mind go blank? So many things have happened, yet nothing comes to mind that would even be the least bit entertaining to anyone else.
Maybe that’s the case with most of us as moms—everyday events happen and usually there’s no big, special event that demarks one day specifically from another. We are fortunate in this era of time to be able to capture glimpses of these days through digital media, and look back and realize that the sum of these uneventful days adds up to a thing of beauty. In this post, I’m going to share just a few glimpses into my family’s day to day events, some that that will be precious to me in years to come, and some that have already become sweet memories. I hope, we are all able to take note of and hold dear to the “uneventful” while it is happening right before our very eyes.
Silly Guy was my son’s favorite stuffed animal. Now, my son is a young man.
This was a wedding rehearsal fashion faux pas with my daughter. Unknowingly, we both wore the same dress and pretty much the same shoes. How could we not laugh!
Sharing an ice cream sandwich with my grandson…this age does not last long! I am going to cherish every moment.
I enjoy having lunch with my youngest two sons. Before I know it, they will be off on their own just like their older brothers. I love spending time with them while I can.
I was always hiking with my kids when they were younger. Here, my oldest daughter was carrying my youngest son. Now, she is the mom to my three grandchildren!
Here are my husband and sons trudging uphill to our appointments at the National Institute of Health. We really didn’t comprehend at the time that the weeks we spent at the NIH were a turning point in our boys’ lives.
This year we enjoyed the magnificent sunset just before the Fourth of July fireworks began. This picture will help me keep the memory of that day vivid in my mind.
Last week my sons were standing on the top of Cathedral Dome. This is something eventful because both sons have a metabolic disease which makes it hard for them to walk. We drove up to the top of the ledge by car and they walked to the edge. It was not wheelchair accessible obviously so they walked on their own.
What will tomorrow bring? No one knows. This year we still made it to the top.
By: Jacqueline Koutsoufis
Here I am, sitting here waiting for the self pity and self wallowing, for the flooding of sadness and depression to come flowing in.
Watching everyone posting on Facebook that their child has reached double digits knowing that this is the big mark for a child where they start getting excited that they are close to being a teen. You see they reach being a tween.
For the past nine years, I have set a tradition of allowing myself to sit and wallow on this day. I would go and pick out a little trinket, something to place on my son’s stone.
We would go to the cemetery as a family, place our gift, and my husband and I would hold each other and cry…
We have tried to have a cake or cupcake at the cemetery to make it a bit more uplifting, not only for my children but to make it more bearable for myself and husband.
I play the statement over and over in my head it will get easier as time goes on. It will hurt less. Every year around this time, the words play over and over in my head. And I say to myself and those who said it, “When is it going to get easier when is the pain going to stop. When?!”
I realized this year, I have been going about this the wrong way. I was mourning! Mourning every year, reliving my pain over and over, not allowing myself to heal.
I felt awful! Not only physically, but emotionally.
So this year, when my son would have reached his double digits, we are celebrating. Going all out not only for him, but our other children’s birthdays fall right around his birthday—angelversary. So on his birthday, where he would have been 10, we will celebrate his two sisters and his brother. All my summer babies are being celebrated together.
Celebrating the life I once carried. Celebrating his beautiful soul. Celebrating how much we have grown and changed as a family and couple. Celebrating and letting go of all the anger and sadness.
Happy birthday my beautiful angel, until I see you again.
Joseph 8/7/06 RIP
By: Danielle McFadden
I don’t know about you, but bedtime in my house is a PRODUCTION. Zoe is almost three years old and has never been a great sleeper… I’ll take partial blame for that. When she was a baby, I never wanted to put her down. I relished the moments when she fell asleep on me. I also think that some babies and toddlers (much like adults) are just bad sleepers. She was never a good at napping and almost always wakes up in the middle of the night.
My little guy (Landry, 5 months), however, is already sleeping better than his big sis. I’ll take partial credit for that. I definitely put him down more than I put Zoe down. <Gasp!> I even put him down awake at night to go to sleep.
(Notice that I took blame for bad sleeping habits and credit for good ones…)
Okay… I really am going somewhere this story…
The other night, I was putting both kids to bed. Landry went down like an angel. I then read Zoe three books, talked about the day (a requirement in her routine) and scratched her back under her shirt (as requested). Just as she was about to fall asleep, she started playing with her stuffed animals and telling me that she was not going to fall asleep and that she was going downstairs. This was a good 45 minutes into the whole production.
I immediately thought, how many hours of my life in the past three years have I spent just laying with Zoe trying to get her to fall asleep? No wonder why my house isn’t as neat as I’d like it, dishes are in the sink, emails are unanswered… Then, something happened. I flipped my way of thinking. I laid there, in the moment, and thought about how twenty years from now, I will look back and wish I had an hour every day to cuddle with my little girl, to watch her play with her stuffed animals, sing made up songs and request that I scratch her back.
Sometimes, we are so caught up in the moment. We are tired. We are stressed. We are pulled in so many different directions… Working Mom, cook, housekeeper… all while holding on to a piece of our old selves.
From now on, I am going to try to be deliberate in my thinking. I am going to enjoy each tired, messy and incredibly blessed moment being a Mom to two amazing little beings.
By: Sue Anganes
June flew by. My dad got bitten by a tick and spent seventeen days in the hospital. My mom had been sick and needed some help getting back and forth to the hospital to visit my dad, and also to her own medical appointments. My second son got married, and with that came all the details and scrambling before the wedding day.
Finally, it’s July, and things are back to normal.
Sunday after church, I put on my raggedy clothes and started painting a second coat of paint on my family room ceiling. The house was already torn apart with my newly married son’s boxed up belongings in queue, ready to head out the door and on to a new life. My husband was replacing bathroom light fixtures, and there were boxes of half used paper goods from Friday night’s baby shower for a friend clogging my kitchen table. My grandkids were expected to come over for me to babysit while their mom had something she needed to do sans kids, and a neighbor arrived with a new tool that he and my husband had a long (interesting to them) conversation over.
Facebook messages pinged me. My oldest son and his wife wanted to come over to visit and say goodbye before he left the following week to hike in Siberia. Yes, Siberia. (The mom in me is hoping he comes back in one piece, but that’s a subject for a future blog post).
“Sure, come on over. Nothing’s going on,” I said.
I finished my painting, and my husband finished his bathroom projects. I consolidated the piles of “stuff’ and did a quick vacuum of the past (month’s?) dust. Looking into the fridge, I realized that I could not offer anyone anything to eat except a half eaten carton of plain yogurt and a half jar of mild salsa. This called for my super powers of making a meal out of nothing. All moms do this at least a few times a year. I always find that I need to do this at least once a week.
Searching the back of my freezer, I retrieved a small package of hamburger. This would be key to my meal’s success. I browned that with an onion and a couple cloves of garlic. I added two cans of diced tomatoes. I also scrounged up a bag of frozen tortellini. I added a couple more cans of water and a half can of leftover tomato paste that was hiding in my fridge. I threw in six small, somewhat shriveled summer squash, and voila! Soup for the masses! I cut up a couple of deli rolls and dinner was served.
The most hilarious part about all this is that everyone raved about the soup. To me it looked watery and bland, but it was enjoyed by nine people! Maybe the joy around our table did not come from the soup, as much as it came from the time we had to spend together as a family. It’s always nice to have things back to normal.
Hint: You can buy sticker pads for $1.99 at Party City – they come with hundreds of stickers and they carry all the popular characters!
By: Danielle McFadden
Life with a toddler and an infant can be very hectic at times, so I’m always looking for ways to entertain Zoe (and keep her still for more than a minute).
Recently, we’ve started setting up “art stations” by covering the kitchen table with white paper (you can buy a roll for $3.99 at the Christmas Tree Shop) and giving her plenty of stickers and crayons so she can ‘create’ freely!
I highly recommend it if you have a toddler!
By: Michaelene Koskela
It was 8 am: the first official day of summer vacation that consists of 55 weekdays and 11 weekends.
Filled with anticipation for the summer ahead, my hand cradles a favorite mug, legs extended comfortably, breathing in the morning sounds from our back porch. My coffee tepid but palatable, content with the thrill of not having to rush, my thoughts skim a list of items I hope to experience with our future 1st grader, who at last check was sound asleep and hopefully will stay sleeping well into the next hour. Periodically, the peace was interrupted with the rustle of squirrels dashing through leaves or a persistent blue jay getting the few remaining morsels from the feeder. Dare it be mentioned my eyes may have rested for a few moments as the sun cast its rays through the oak tree canopy.
My perfect moment was interrupted with the whir of the sliding glass door opening, a tousled haired, puffy eyed, p.j. clad, juice-stained-lip child dragging a blanket appears. The voice does not match the appearance.
“MOM, I AM BORED!”
The sweet 6-year-old continues in song of her boredom. She has been awake merely 10 minutes at best guess and yet already the most dreaded words have been uttered. What to do in these instances? Here are my summer go to fun things that keep the words from appearing, wears the children out so they sleep past 9 am and does not cost huge amounts of money. In many cases, our fun is FREE!!
1) Local parks and playgrounds – Class parents exchanged emails and phone numbers. We take turns scheduling to meet weekly at designated parks; pack a picnic lunch, balls, kites and bubbles. The parents visit and the children spend time being kids. FREE
2) Local animal shelters – many offer daytime hours and events thru the summer with crafts and teaching children how to care and appreciate the animals. Children tend to have age requirements and parents attend with the children. FREE
3) In town day camps – contact your town or city they usually have published calendars of events and camps to register and sign up for during specific weeks. Those with large families or groups may receive discounts. Fees are based off of the supplies for each program but are reasonable. At these events, you drop your child off and pick up at designated times. $
4) Craft Stores – When visiting the big box craft stores, check out the bulletin board or visit the store online. Most offer craft summer fun classes that you attend with your child one day a week. The event is FREE the supplies for the class are donated by a sponsor.
5) Pottery or Art Schools – A day camp and class schedule for a reasonable fee- these cover the cost of supplies, and some include a snack. These are drop off and age specific; however, if you have younger children, you can paint a project with them. $$
6) Bike ride – multiple towns and cities have bike trails, rail trails or bicycle friendly paths. Put some air in those sleepy tires, load up the car, call a few friends, pack a lunch and meet for a ride. Most are virtually empty during the week. FREE
7) High school tracks – Meet at the track, bring your stroller and your running shoes. Many schools do not have events scheduled during the day and the tracks are open for you to get your run on. FREE
8) Use your YMCA membership – Get your workout in! Some Y’s group exercise classes move outside in the summer months. With your membership, you have up to 2 hours of FREE childcare. My daughter loves her time playing with her Y friends. The first week of every month, you can try the Y FREE. Contact your local Y to learn more. $$
9) Beach – plan a day trip to a state beach or park. Some of the best family beaches have adjourning parks and bath houses. Investigate in local town beaches. The fees are reasonable, and if you find you attend often, a State pass maybe beneficial. $$
10) Get outside – pack a snack, find a trail, hike a mountain. Many towns have published trail maps and hiking available. FREE
11) Baseball – find your local team; attend a day game or early evening. Farm teams or summer college leagues are affordable and often have activities specific for children. My daughter loves meeting the mascots,too. $
12) Pool/Tennis – We are fortunate to live in a community that offers these perks to its residents. Often we invite friends to visit and play. FREE
These are some of our weekly fun activities that we can manage and make memories.
By: Justina Scharf (Guest Blogger)
I remember when I was young and single and flew a lot. I hated it when I saw a mom with children waiting at my gate. I knew that I would end up seated next to a screaming child or in front of a kid who kept kicking my seat. I would think, “Why do they have to travel? Can’t she control her kids? When I have kids I’ll never let them act like that.”
I was so wrong. And dumb — O, man, was I dumb. Now that I have kids of my own, I dread the looks I get from passengers when I arrive at the airport with my kids in tow. I think to myself, “I was you once. I know you hate me, but we have to fly!”
So how do I try to control my kiddos and keep them from annoying the other passengers too much?
Location, Location, Location
I always opt for seats toward the back of the plane . This works for a few reasons. First, most other passengers are trying to get as close to the front as they can so you aren’t bothering as many people if it’s not a super full flight. Also, I’m closer to the bathroom. Which is super important when you have a toddler who has to ‘go potty’ every few minutes, because I can actually sit with my other child and be able to watch my toddler enter and exit the bathroom.
Sitting toward the back also lets me let other passengers off first so that I don’t get the stink eye from others who are trying to get off quickly, because lets be honest corralling my kids toward a plane exit is not a quick process.
When booking my tickets I always book the aisle and window seat on the flight. If three of us aren’t traveling this means that that middle seat is left available to be booked by another passenger. Often, no one books it which gives us room to spread out a bit more. And when someone does book that seat, I just ask to switch seats. I’ve never had anyone turn me down.
Make it fun
We play lots of games looking out the window of the plane. We make up stories about the ant people below us. Or we’ll try to count the number of cars. We create magic kingdoms out of the clouds.
I also bring our set of magic markers and a few coloring books along. Even the most well behaved kids tend to try to color on the walls and seatbacks if they’re cooped up too long. The magic markers give me peace of mind.
Of course we also have the iPad full of games and videos for my older child to play with. Technology has certainly made things easier!
“Mommy, I’m huuunnngry.” Almost impossible to resolve when you’re 30,000 miles in the air, unless you’ve planned ahead. I pack granola bars and trail mix for the kids. I also will bring animal crackers because we end up playing zoo with them at some point. Make sure to bring wet wipes to clean up your kids sticky fingers and wipe off the tray and window so you’re not leaving it for the next passenger.
Don’t forget to bring an extra bottle for kids that need bottles and an extra sippy cup for your toddlers. Inevitably, one always goes missing. You can’t get sippy cups through security most places when they’re full so make plans to fill them with water or buy juice or milk when you make it through security. We’ve also found that single serve kool-aid packs work great as well as I can just mix them up with water once we get through security.
*Side note: Pack an easy to access extra change of clothing for everyone, including yourself, just in case someone spills or gets airsick.
Prepare them for flying
The first time your kids fly can be a bit traumatic for them if you don’t prepare them for all of the waits and that their favorite stuffed friend will have to go through the x-ray machine. The TSA has a really great animated video for kids to watch before they fly.
Make sure to give your kids very clear expectations of what you expect from them and their behavior before you leave. Going over this beforehand gives less wiggle room for them to tell you they didn’t know.
Give yourself time
I have nightmares about being the mom from Home Alone. I set multiple alarms for this reason, so that I am not rushing to make it to the airport in the morning. I try to get there with plenty of time before we board because getting through security, especially with kids, isn’t quick.
I also like to get there before we board so that I can talk to the gate person and find out of they allow families with young children to board earlier. Many airlines do this in order to help parents and to help other passengers that board after us not have to be held up by our walking circus.
Also make sure you have plenty of time between connecting flights. Dashing from one flight to the next is next to impossible with children because they will need to stop in the bathroom and it’s also easier for them if they have a bit of time to stretch their legs before the next flight.
What tricks do you use when you fly with your kids?
By: Danielle McFadden
This week I am transitioning from maternity leave back to working full time. As my maternity leave came to end the feelings of guilt started to creep in (along with a tear or two). It got me thinking about the pressure we, as moms, face when working outside the home. The constant push and pull we feel to not only be the kind of wife and mother that we grew up with (June Cleaver), but also the type of women that our parents, coaches and teachers encouraged us to be… independent, hardworking, successful… The kind of woman who “has it all”.
“Having it all”—whatever that means— is a seemingly impossible state of being because we’re always going to feel guilty no matter how hard we try not to. The type of guilt that only a mother puts on herself. Guilty that we are not home with our kids. Guilty if we put our baby down to play while we get ready for work. (Shouldn’t we be getting our cuddles in while we are actually home to do so?) Guilty if we want to get a pedicure on Saturday morning when the whole family is home together. Guilty if we have a function after work and won’t get to tuck our kids into bed that night. Guilty if dinner isn’t on the table because there is nothing substantial in the fridge (or we’re too darn tired). Guilty if the house isn’t spic and span. And heaven forbid if we put the TV on for the kids so we can get a little work done around the house.
Essentially, we as moms, feel guilty because we can’t be OUR MOM and a career woman in unison. It’s impossible.
So for now, I’m going to try to be deliberate about choosing when to push and when to pull. And hopefully, I can have some great moments like the one I experienced last night, when returning home to my two kids, Zoe (2.5 years old) and Landry (3 months old) so excited to see their mom and totally unaware of the guilt that I put on myself. Simply happy to have a ‘picnic’ dinner on the living floor while I read them a dozen books and smothered them with more kisses than I can count. Life is good— no GREAT – and doing the best I can do for my kids, my family and myself is nothing to feel guilty about.