My 9 year Old is Teaching My 7 Year Old How to Use the Stove!

I am keeping my distance allowing her to take the lead and teach him how to make his grilled cheese sandwich.

I have some mommy guilt that I am not the one teaching him.

I am also bursting with pride that my two youngest are helping each other to be self sufficient.

I kind of want to step in so nobody gets burned, but I don’t want to hover, plus this is a great lesson for us all.

Hot pan!

 

Judging by the way they are speaking to each other, I feel like I did something right along the way.  I chose not to interfere and now they are enjoying each other and their lunch!  ❤️

Deep discussions over lunch :-)

Deep discussions over lunch 🙂

 

5 Genius Ideas for Chore Charts!

My kids don’t mind helping around the house, but there is no routine- I have to ask them to do each thing I’d like help with. “L, please empty the dishwasher.” “A, please put your toys away” Feed the animals, bring your laundry down, dust your room, make your bed, brush your hair!

We’ve tried a few things in the past, but nothing has stuck. A few cute ideas have popped up on my screen lately, so I think it’s time to try something new. Here are my top picks for great Chore Charts!!

1. Clipboard & Velcro from Just Between Friends

Clipboard & Velcro Chore Chart from Just Between Friends

Clipboard & Velcro Chore Chart from Just Between Friends

This one only requires a few supplies and looks like it will come together really quickly. I love that they can be hung easily or carried around the house. I know Little A would like the concrete action of moving the chores from “To Do” to the “Done” side.

2. Post-it Note Printable Chore Chart from Tatertots & Jello

Post-It Note Chore Chart from Tatertots & Jello!

Post-It Note Chore Chart from Tatertots & Jello!

I think this is my favorite. I’m usually not super fond of playing with our printer, but my kids have an odd fascination with Post-Its and I think this will go over really well!

3. Simple Chore Chart from My Name Is Snickerdoodle

Simple Magnet Chore Chart from My Name Is Snickerdoodle!

Simple Magnet Chore Chart from My Name Is Snickerdoodle!

This is definitely easy and effective for younger ones, but at 16, L might be offended if I make a chart like this for her.

4.  Printable Chore Chart From The Gilded Pear

Printable Chore Chart From The Gilded Pear!

Printable Chore Chart from The Gilded Pear!

This one takes the least amount of effort and still looks great! Just choose the color you want and print!

5. Popsicle Stick Chore Chart from Everyday Commotion

Popsicle Stick Chore Chart from Everyday Commotion

Popsicle Stick Chore Chart from Everyday Commotion

This one is also great- I think Little A would love moving the sticks and seeing her progress, but the board is a bit bulky.

Which ones do you like best?

How to Not Build a Closet (Or, as Babble Titled it, Do We Unconsciously Pressure Our Kids to Grow Up Straight?)

I’m honored to be published again on Babble.com. This is an important topic and I’m anxious to hear about your thoughts and experiences, so please read, share and post in the comments!

❤M

 

One of My Favorite Quotes…

ItAlwaysSeemsImpossible

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. As a mom, it speaks to so many things. Some days, it refers to the dishes or laundry. Right now, in Boston- it’s the snow removal.

-M

A little love reminder…

Do you ever catch yourself looking at somebody you see every day, a little differently? Tonight, my husband said something that was kind of funny in a dry, sarcastic manner. I looked at him without thinking and for whatever reason I found myself gazing at him finding him extremely attractive.

I think he is attractive in general but I feel like most of the time I don’t actually see him.

I go through the motions of life, busy with four kids, a business, a dog, a few gerbils, a guinea pig, writing children books, a blog/radio show, family and friends. Most days I am blinded by getting to the next activity or “to do” thing on my list.

Then there are times like last tonight where a small glance turns into a full on, full of love moment.

 

image from Shutterstock

image from Shutterstock

We got a lot of snow these past few weeks (life in New England). My husband has been out snow blowing and shoveling our businesses most of the time (small business owners). The kids and I have barely seen him. He came home last night and taught my oldest son how to play a Beatles song on the guitar.  My heart melts when I get to enjoy moments like that.

I love that my kids love the same qualities about my husband that made me fall head over heels in love with him so long ago.

He still gives me butterflies when I see him.

It was such an unexpected treat to really see the guy I fell in love with 25 years ago.

Happy Valentines Day!

That little negative voice in my head…. NaBloPoMo day 4

Daily challenge question: Have you ever tried to break a habit and failed? What made it so difficult to break?

This was a tough question to answer. It stumped me for a few days. I am usually pretty good about breaking habits. I have had some bad ones but have dumped them along the way. How is it that I can’t think of one bad habit I have had but failed? I am so far from perfect, why is this so difficult?

Then it struck me. I am far from perfect, that is what I said to myself over and over again. Then I started to listen to that little voice speaking to me. It never has anything good to say. NEVER. I consider myself a pretty self confident person. I am not all that thrilled with my appearance at the moment but over all I am happy and optimistic.

Then there is that voice. Right now it is telling me this blog post is stupid and makes no sense. It is also saying that I should be cleaning (my house is a mess). It is also telling me I have too much work to catch up on then to sit here and write. It also just reminded me of my laundry, and how I didn’t call my mom back, or visit my mother in law today like I planned. I also didn’t eat healthy enough today. According to this voice, I am a major failure.

Unfortunately I think this little voice begins for a lot of girls when they are relatively young. We are taught to hate ourselves, not sure how it happens but it does. I hear young girls all of the time stating how much they hate their hair, ears, nose, eye color, thighs, belly, height, weight, etc…. It is so wrong but so prevalent. I felt that way about myself for a very long time. Obviously that voice is still there so it is a hard habit to break.

Thank goodness I don’t listen to this voice very much. Or maybe I do listen too much and it is this voice that pushes me to constantly try and better myself.

I think this negative voice is the habit I can’t break. I am trying to incorporate meditation daily in my life. I am trying to quiet that voice and replace it with the positive. This past September I had the honor of attending a Hayhouse weekend seminar called “I Can Do It”, with Wayne Dyer as one of the headliners. It was amazing! Over and over I heard stories about being positive and attracting better things into your life. I have incorporated a lot of what I learned that weekend into my life and have a very long list of books to read that were recommended.

I do not put myself down in front of my children, never have. I am constantly explaining how believing in yourself is how to live. One of my favorite quotes is by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
Whether-you-think-you
Now that I have really thought about this and put it in writing, I have a feeling that little negative voice will soon be a thing of my past.

Life is full of firsts….

Josh's RainbowFirsts are so much fun when you have a baby. First smile, first time rolling over, first belly laugh, first steps, first day of pre-school.

We keep records of these. They go down in our pediatricians files to make sure kids are on the right track. Now with social media, we share them with friends and family, far and wide. Sometimes, we even prepare, searching Pinterest for creative signs for kids to hold- think first lost tooth, first day of 3rd grade- so cute!

Sometimes, firsts are not so great. On July 7, 2014 my very dear friend, Melissa Kaye, lost her 8 year old son, Josh, after a 13 day fight against E-Coli. Since then, she has experienced a whole new series of firsts. Heart-wrenching, can’t breathe firsts. He died in July, his birthday was in August, his first day of fourth grade would have been in September, first Halloween without Josh in October, first Thanksgiving in November, and the upcoming holiday season. Every day without him is an unimaginable first.

Our children were friends and went to the same school, where they arranged for a grief counselor come and speak. She was wonderful. She spoke about the different ways our children may grieve, and what we should look for and how to react. It helped.

Something the grief counselor said that night stuck with me. She mentioned that a lot of parents lose friends after losing a child. Their friends are usually parents who have children the same age as the child who died. The parents of the living child often have survivor’s guilt and that is beyond uncomfortable. But to lose your friends in addition to your child is just not right.

I can see why this happens. It is definitely easier to avoid situations that make you feel uncomfortable than to face them. This is a first for me. To witness my close friend’s loss, the loss of a child I knew well, but I have faced those feelings head on with my friend, her husband and her daughters. I am there for them regardless of how heart-wrenching life can be for them with all of these new firsts.

The first few months after Josh passed, I felt as though I didn’t deserve to be happy. Why should I get to enjoy my children when this wonderful, loving family cannot enjoy their son? Everything I did, I felt guilty about. It is such a desperately low, dark, and painful place to be. The loss of a child is just unthinkable- unacceptable. But time goes on and the days keep on coming even if you aren’t ready for them. I wanted to rewind time. These raw, emotional days happened over the summer, when I was surrounded by my own four children all of the time. I have never been as grateful for them as I was this past summer. I felt as if I was living in slow motion and really started to see life as it should be. I spent the extra time reading bed time stories. I paid attention to sunsets and rainbows, and really listened. I allowed myself to cry in front of my children and accepted hugs.

I don’t ever want to experience anything like this again. However, I have been shown just how beautiful life can be, even in the midst of the ugliest thing I have ever experienced. I cherish each and every moment I get with my children, even if I am yelling at them (which still happens more frequently than I care to admit). I take stock of all the good in my life a few times per day now. I count my blessings and the Kaye family is one of them. I am a changed woman, for the better. Josh’s death is still unthinkable for me; I don’t understand it. I do understand that the small bullshit things that used to bother me just don’t matter anymore. It may sound cliche to tell you to try and be more present with your life and give hugs when you can, but I have to say it anyway.

I’m Sad to See Another Child Poisoned by Laundry Pods!

Brightly Colored Tide Pod
Below is a post I wrote in September of last year. I was horrified to see a similar story in my Facebook feed today. It sounds like the mom of sweet, little Cate was generally very careful with the pods, but it only took one moment, one time. I wish I could reach every family to fill them in on the safer options available! Toxic chemicals just don’t belong in our homes.

Courtesy of Jill Koziol 8 month old Cate in the ICU

Courtesy of Jill Koziol
8 month old Cate in the ICU

My original post from September, 2013, with safe suggestions:

As I was going through my email this afternoon, I saw an email from change.org- a mom asking people to sign a petition to make Tide laundry pods look less like candy so more kids aren’t poisoned like her son was.

Read the story and petition here

I felt instantly torn- so sad for her that they had to go through that and so irritated that companies don’t think these things through, or make changes when almost 6000 children have already been similarly sick from accidental ingestion. BUT, what made me pause is that the author of the petition (and mom to that little boy) was fully aware and did not seem to mind that there are dangerous chemicals in the laundry soap. I do not mean to imply that this was her fault- accidents happen even to the most careful parent, but WHY are people so OK with using chemicals to CLEAN their clothes? Why are so many parents so complacent to use chemicals that we KNOW are dangerous to our health? This is the bigger issue for me. So, I hope this mom gets the attention of Proctor and Gamble, but I’d like to see it taken one step further- get rid of the nasty chemicals and the toxic dyes so that there is no risk of poisoning another child, or the environment!

Bi-O-Kleen makes a safe laundry soap, but my favorite is Eco-Me. I love their natural fragrances and they offer fragrance-free as well.

Yell Less, Love More! The Orange Rhino’s Book is Ready to Order!

A frequent guest and contributor to our radio show, Sheila McCraith has finally stepped out from behind her secret identity as The Orange Rhino to share her fabulous book, Yell Less, Love More. Sheila is an everyday mom who is just trying to do her best, like all of us. When she was stunned by an aha moment, she decided to share it with the world via her blog. Now, she shares more- and it’s awesome! Pre-order today for Nov 1 delivery!

I’m Jealous of Your Noisy, Messy Days

There are a lot of moms and dads on Facebook, posting updates that chronicle their parental struggles- kids misbehaving, making too much noise or mess, fighting with siblings, refusing to get ready for school.

My house is relatively quiet. There are no noisy arguments or fighting between siblings. On school mornings, I don’t feel like I’m pulled in 5 directions. I don’t have to nag at everyone to get ready. And if I forgot to take the bento container out of A’s lunchbox last night, no stress- I have an extra in the cabinet.

Our bedtime routine goes smoothly-no chasing kids in different directions or playing musical beds to settle kids down. My husband and I have plenty of time to watch a show or read a book before bed.

Right now, you might be jealous, or think I’m a braggy mom- but really I’M jealous.

I miss the sound of sibling arguments. I would give anything for a night of being driven crazy, returning my son to his bed every ten minutes, not getting to watch that show my husband DVR’d to watch with me.

Struggling to get the kids ready, juggling schedules and different moods, 3 different meals for dinner, doctor’s appointments, dirty socks left strewn around the house, 10 thousand questions and 20 thousand strong opinions every single day.

I miss being nagged for screen time and begged to check out his Minecraft world. Reading “just one more chapter” before bed. And I hate that there is an extra of everything, because my son isn’t here to put those things to use.

When your children are healthy, and you can assume they will be driving you crazy for the rest of your life, it is normal to be frustrated and irritated by the things that we, as parents, find challenging.

I urge you, though- take a step back every now and then and think about how much you will miss those moments when your child is grown, or what you might have had more patience for if you looked back from my perspective.

Enjoy the moments with your children. Try not to take things too seriously. Remember that things can change in an instant. Love really is what is important in life. Surround yourself and your family with love.

M

Our sweet, crazy boy

Our sweet, crazy boy

*Read more about Joshua’s life & legacy and how we’re working through life without him here