Being Josh’s Mom

My 8 year old son died on July 7, after a 13 day battle with E. coli. This post is adapted from what I read at the celebration of life event we shared with family and friends.

In my most enlightened mommy moments, I tried to remember that we do not own our children- we are entrusted with their care for as long as they are with us.

We thought we would have Joshy longer than this.

Joshy at one of his favorite places.

Joshy at one of his favorite places.

Josh was so social, he so easily made friends and related to people, but would often want to just be on his own, introspective, focused on his own thoughts and experiences.
I would often have to force him, drag him out to do things, but once he left the comfort of his cave, he embraced experiences. He lived with full force. Laughing and discovering- I couldn’t help but laugh and get lost with him, sometimes wanting to pause and put off everyone and everything else to see things through his eyes for just one more minute.

I was often in fight mode- pushing Josh to do things according to our guidelines (brushing teeth, going to bed, getting assignments done on someone else’s time line.) Pushing myself and others to see things from Josh’s perspective. Forcing myself to put down my lists and set aside my silly timelines. Finding ways for a child to do the things he loved and cared about. I don’t know how to not fight for my son now that he is gone. I don’t know how to accept it.

But I will honor him. This little boy, so wild and wise. So fearless and now free.

Joshua cared so much about fairness. He had such clear cut ideas about right and wrong and was moved to help whenever he thought he could. So, we will continue on that path for him. He loved to choose goats and ducks and sheep from the Heifer catalog for holidays and special occasions. He loved to know what IFAW was doing around the world and helped raise money for local efforts. He cared about dogs and cats who needed homes and homeless babies and children who needed comfort, clothes or food. He knew how to be a friend and never had a harsh word or judgment for anyone (save his sisters) and he loved to learn about other cultures and traditions.

We will remember and honor what our little boy stood for.

 

For more information about Joshua and the Joshua Kaye Foundation, visit https://www.facebook.com/JoshuaKayeFoundation

6 Reasons I Love That My Kids Watch My Little Pony

Last year, when my son discovered My Little Pony on TV and sat with his sister, staring starry eyed at the screen, mesmerized, my husband was less than thrilled. We both have a pretty low tolerance for crappy kids shows, and he assumed that MLP fell into that category. I’ll be honest (as always)- at first glance, it seems like fluff. The big eyed, sickeningly sweet-voiced, dramatic cartoon would not have gotten approval from me had I not overheard an episode while shooting off an email.

This show has more substance than pretty pastels! Each episode seeks to leave their little viewers a bit wiser and empowered than they were a half hour earlier. These feisty little fillies focus on big ideas and they hammer home their messages in a way that resonates with kids.

6 Lessons To Be Learned from My Little Ponies:

My Little Ponies!

My Little Ponies!

Acceptance/Embracing Differences
Self confidence
The importance of Honesty
Compassion
Problem solving
True, Supportive Friendship

So, as much as I like to minimize TV time (and I prefer PBS), I have to admit that I’m a fan of My Little Ponies.

 

Shy and Sensitive…Slow to Warm Up…Breakdowns at Birthdays?

Photo taken by my 5 year old while she observed the latest gathering at school

Photo taken by my 5 year old while she observed the latest gathering at school

On a mommy board today, another mom asked for advice about handling things for a child who seems to have a hard time handling new things- to the point that his parents feel traumatized and wonder if they should skip activities altogether. My husband and I have been through this with our kiddos. Here was my response:

My girls are this way. My oldest was like a koala stuck to my leg or shoulder everywhere we went until she was 5. My youngest, now 5, still takes lots of time to warm up. We have noticed that they like to observe for a while (sometimes a LONG while) before they join in, but often they really enjoy observing and will talk about it later as if they had been fully participating. Things that have helped us:

-Prep the child. Tell them casually about the place you are going, what it might sound and smell like, who you might see there, what activities will take place.

-Arrive a few minutes early so you both can take in all the sights and sounds and greet friends one at a time as they arrive. This is a major help, still, for all 3 of my kids.

-Don’t expect or push him/her to participate. Let your child know that it is ok to watch. My kids have loved to use a camera since they were two. It helps them feel like they are involved in a very non-threatening way.

-Let them know you will be there and don’t make a fuss if they want to be with you the whole time.

-Bring a snack and a quiet activity they enjoy. My 5 year old used to bring crayons to the playground! She loved to go, but for the first hour would sit next to me and color, and then go on the swings for 10 minutes before we left. Now, she runs through the gate! (But sometimes likes to walk around with me before she jumps in)

-Be ready to leave a little early and don’t feel badly- your child will pick up on it. Just say something like, well, it looks like we’re ready to go….

-Praise him/her for trying and say that you’re looking forward to next time. (But no pressure)

Nobody likes B.O., right?

Since my children were a thought in my head I have been grappling with how to be the healthiest I can be and how to get rid of all the chemicals I ingest or use like as in shampoo, soap, lotion, makeup, cleaning products, over-processed food, etc…. My biggest struggle has been deodorant. I don’t want to stink and I don’t want my children to be the “smelly kid” in school. It is bad enough that my oldest (12) is the only one at his lunch table that uses a re-usable bag for his sandwich and re-usable water container, thank goodness he doesn’t care all that much…..

I have experimented with deodorants over the years…. I grew up with Secret, and boy oh boy do I love Secret. There are so many scents to choose from and I don’t ever smell bad when I wear it. But I remember becoming concerned when I accidentally purchased their “clear” line and it just didn’t wash off. I felt like I had a thick layer of rubbery plastic under my pits…. for days…. I hated it and stopped using it. But it got me thinking about exactly what am I putting on my freshly shaved, open pores, right next to my breast tissue and directly on my arm pit….

I am not a scientific person at all and usually don’t retain the large words that I can’t pronounce of the ingredients of products I use (unfortunately). Aluminum is the key word that I do remember,look for and avoid. I also recall reading an article about women in America having a much higher rate of breast cancer than women of other countries. It had been linked to the fact that women in America shave their armpits and then put chemicals directly on that freshly shaved skin that cause cancer. Makes sense to me. Also scared the crap out of me and thus began my search for deodorant that would help me not smell like an Italian sub (love Italian subs, just not the smell btw) and not put large quantities of chemicals in my body. So I have been on a mission on and off for a number of years and I think I have finally figured out the answer….

I have tried every single all natural and chemical name brand deodorant out there. Nothing works like antiperspirant with chemicals. I can work out and sweat all day long and still smell like fresh flowers…. Some of the all natural products actually make me smell worse before I even sweat!! This past week I was determined to find a winning all natural deodorant and I think I did. I put the chemical antiperspirant under one pit and the all natural under the other every day this week…. I varied the all naturals based on what I thought did a good job keeping me smelling clean :-). By the end of the week, I just wore my new favorite winning all natural deodorant all by itself and really worked my butt off at taekwondo on Wednesday night and then worked out on Thursday morning WITHOUT showering and you know what??? I didn’t stink…. I even made my husband sniff me… Yeah whatever, he doesn’t mind 🙂

The winning deodorant is… drum roll please…. Crystal, I have two; one is Crystal Body Deodorant Spray and the other is Crystal Essence Mineral Body Spray. They are basically water and mineral salts and they really, truly work. I prefer the Pomegranate scent but my son and husband prefer the plain…

Jenn's deodorant :-)

For the record, I am not being paid to speak about this, nor have I been sent a sample (feel free to send me samples btw :-)), this is just my opinion on something that has been bugging me for years. I love solving problems and I think I have solved this one, for me by the way… Upon further investigation this deodorant has two ingredients, one is purified water and the other is natural mineral salts (Potassium Alum). Alum? Isn’t that short for the word I am trying to avoid??? Argh!! I have read some more about this and the belief is that Potassium Alum is a much larger molecule and not very absorbable through the skin which is different from Aluminum Chlorohydrate which is a common ingredient in chemical deodorants. From what I have read, this is the winning deodorant for me.

On to finding the right chemical free shampoo, suggestions please!!!

Here is the link to my new favorite deodorant…. http://www.thecrystal.com/product_information.cfm

Jenn

Gettin’ Judgey…

No complaints about his booster seat!

No complaints about his booster seat!

 

I’m not usually judgmental when it comes to the different ways people parent, but safety issues set me off.  I have noticed many times, driving around my town and even driving on the highway, little kids bouncing around the back seat, or hanging out the window. I have seen parents pull out of a parking lot with the kids not even in the act of buckling, just not buckled. This makes me CRAZY! I don’t care if you grew up not buckling and you survived, it is the law for a reason. I have had a rule in my car, even for adults, long before I lived in a state where it was the law. My rationale is this- even of you don’t care about yourself or your kid, I don’t want to deal with the trauma of seeing you fly out of the vehicle if we crash! I don’t want to have to explain to my kids that a child they knew is dead or severely injured because their parents made a stupid decision and did not make them buckle up. I don’t care how much of a fit your kid throws when you tell them to buckle. It is a safety issue and it is the law in most states, especially for children.  The car should not move until all passengers are buckled. Period. 
 
In MA, and most states, all children under 12 must be buckled and in the back seat. All children must ride in a child safety seat or a booster seat until they are 57 inches tall. That is 4’9″. Some kids hit that height mark by 8, others ride in a booster through 5th grade. Every child is different and it depends on the vehicle, so once your child reaches the height requirement, if the seatbelt is touching their neck, or sitting on their belly, they should continue to use the booster for a little while longer.
 
Here are some helpful links:
 

Why are good habits so hard?!

Why is it that good habits take so much effort, and bad habits are so easy that you can just fall into them? I was thinking about this today as I struggled to stick to my guns over a screen time dispute with my 8 year old, and again as I came head to head with my 4 year old about eating a healthy dinner BEFORE dessert.

I’m not always a stickler for the rules. I’m happy to serve chocolate chip pancakes (GF/CF/SF baby!) for dinner from time to time, but in general, life seems to go easier if I hold strong to limiting sugar and screen time. The trouble comes at times like this- post World Series victory (we let the kids stay up- we’re big Sox fans) post-Halloween, super busy weekend, Daddy traveling all this week. I am exhausted, the kids are a wreck, and it is so tempting to feed them pancakes and bacon in front of the TV and then let Josh play Minecraft til his eyeballs fall out. Except that he would. Play until his eyeballs fall out. For days straight until that happened, if I let him. And when I do let him play too much, or when we get out of the good habit of a super healthy, real food menu, the behavior takes a turn from life with normal ( but still a little crazy-in-a-fun-way) kids to I Want To Duct Tape Them To The Walls and Run Away To A Private Island for Three Weeks- and it happens so quickly! I know I am not alone here, so I ask- why do we do it? Why is it so hard to stick to good habits, when they work so well -and so easy to just trip and fall right into the bad ones?

I think the answer is right there- the bad habits form from doing what is easy. When I am stressed and busy, it is easy to say yes to screen time so I can focus while the kids are quiet. When we have an especially busy week, or someone is sick, it is easy to serve quick meals, or skip veggies. When I have a lot on my schedule, it is easy to skip working out, and to stay up late to work, while the house is quiet…. But we all know where these things lead. So, I am working on identifying the bad habit red flags and finding ways to make the good habits easier.

What tips can you share? What are the bad habits your family falls into? What good habits would you like to have instead?

– M 🙂

Falling in…

Why is it that good habits take so much effort, and bad habits are so easy that you can just fall into them? I was thinking about this today as I struggled to stick to my guns over a screen time dispute with my 8 year old, and again as I came head to head with my 4 year old about eating a healthy dinner BEFORE dessert.

I’m not always a stickler for the rules. I’m happy to serve chocolate chip pancakes (GF/CF/SF baby!) for dinner from time to time, but in general, life seems to go easier if I hold strong to limiting sugar and screen time. The trouble comes at times like this- post World Series victory (we let the kids stay up- we’re big Sox fans) post-Halloween, super busy weekend, Daddy traveling all this week. I am exhausted, the kids are a wreck, and it is so tempting to feed them pancakes and bacon in front of the TV and then let Josh play Minecraft til his eyeballs fall out. Except he would. Play until his eyeballs fall out. For days straight until that happened, if I let him. And when I do let him play too much, or when we get out of the good habit of a super healthy, real food menu, the behavior takes a turn from life with normal ( but still a little crazy-in-a-fun-way) kids to I Want To Duct Tape Them To The Walls and Run Away To A Private Island for Three Weeks- and it happens so quickly! I know I am not alone here, so I ask- why do we do it? Why is it so hard to stick to good habits, when they work so well and so easy to just trip and fall right into the bad ones?

I think the answer is right there- the bad habits form from doing what is easy. When I am stressed and busy, it is easy to say yes to screen time so I can focus while the kids are quiet. When we have an especially busy week, or someone is sick, it is easy to serve quick meals, or skip veggies. When I have a lot on my schedule, it is easy to skip working out, and to stay up late to work, while the house is quiet…. But we all know where these things lead. So, I am working on identifying the bad habit red flags and finding ways to make the good habits easier.

What tips can you share? What are the bad habits your family falls into? What good habits would you like to have instead?

– M 🙂

Let the guilt go!

I realized this morning that at least half of the time I spend talking with Healthy Homes clients is dedicated to counseling clients, new and old. So many people feel some level of guilt or shame over wanting or needing to hire a cleaning service. Never in American history have we seen so many demands on our time as individuals or as parents. It is no surprise that we can not keep up with the carpools, packing lunches, doing laundry, making dinner, planning birthdays, working AND keep the house clean! It’s time to let the guilt and/or shame go! If you need or want help in any aspect of your life, go for it! Think of it as delegating. If you were running a business, would you take care of every single task yourself, or would you delegate tasks to some other capable person so you could focus on tasks more important to you? Hiring a cleaning company, having groceries delivered, calling Doody Calls, or having your teenage neighbor mow your lawn- these are all smart delegating decisions so you can focus your attention and time on other important things- like your family- and not feel so stretched!

Stop beating yourself up and free up some valuable time!

-M 🙂