Food Allergy PSA

Unsolicited PSA: If you don’t know someone with a food allergy, it’s hard to understand the seriousness of it, I know, I was that person once. But, it’s not about a kid getting a stomach ache and hives, it’s about them not being able to breathe. And, as a parent there’s only so much you can do, at some point you have to trust others with your kids, and you need to know they take it seriously, too.

Whether it’s a babysitter, a teacher, a coach, another parent, people are constantly giving your kids food. And, when you have to plunge a needle into your baby girl’s thigh to get her to breathe and then be rushed to the ER in an ambulance, you don’t forget that. You live in constant fear of having to do it again, or worse, someone else having to do it…and not knowing if they will. If you meet someone with a food allergy kid, please be compassionate, and willing to listen and learn. It takes an army to keep our kids safe, please help be a part of that army if you can.

Field Trip Day!

Nathan and Lottie go to different schools, with different schedules. This means not all their days off are the same. Since both Craig and I work full-time, this can be kind of a pain in the rear, especially since it seems like these days often fall in close proximity with each other. Think school closed Monday, so Nathan gets Friday off for teacher institute, and, whaddaya know, Lottie has Tuesday off for teacher institute. So, now that’s 3 days off to figure out.

Late last year I took a day off when Lottie was out of school. I wanted to do something fun for the day, rather than stick around the house, but felt bad that Nathan would miss out if we did something he’d also enjoy. Then I realized he was going to have a day off just a couple weeks later, so “Mommy-Nathan and Mommy-Lottie Field Trip Days” were invented. A full day of fun spent one-on-one taking an adventure, eating the food they like and enjoying each other’s undivided attention. The nice thing is these days often fall on non-regular days off, so most places are pretty much deserted.

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One day Lottie and I went to the Art Institute and drew all the paintings. The museum was empty, so we had the run of the place. Another time Nathan and I spent the day bowling and cooking together. Lottie and I visited Craig at work another day, and took him out to lunch, then visited the DuPage Children’s Museum. Tomorrow Nathan has the day off, he’s been watching a lot of Mythbusters, so we’re headed to the Chicago Children’s Museum Tinkering Lab to see what we can build, but not until after he hits the polling place with me to vote in the Illinois Primary, and visits my office for a bit. And, Lottie is off in a couple weeks, not sure where that day will take us, but I can’t wait.

Next year they’ll be in school in the same district, and have the same school calendars. While that will make life a little easier, sometimes the hard stuff makes for the best moments. I’m gonna miss our special days off finding adventure together. 

Check out #mommylottiefieldtrip & #mommynathanfieldtrip on Instagram for some pics.

Friday Nights are My Favorite

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Hands down, there is no part of my week that’s better than Friday night. It’s the most laid-back, chill time of our week. And, it’s all about the four of us. No plans, no place to be, just us having our awesome, same-every-week Friday night routine. And, it’s perfect.

First things first. I get home from work around 6pm and make myself a nice big cup of strong, black coffee. This is essential because I want to be able to stay awake long enough to enjoy as much of Friday night as possible. And, I’m old and tired, so if I don’t drink coffee, I’ll be asleep on the couch by 9pm.

Craig and the kids are already home. The kids are likely in the basement playing or outside running around with friends. I sip my coffee and talk to Craig about our day, plans for the weekend. And, most importantly what delicious food he wants to cook Saturday and Sunday, so I can make the grocery list.

At some point, we determine our dinner order. We get dinner every week from the same neighborhood joint. Nathan’s obsessed with their blue cheese dressing, and it’s Craig’s own personal Cheers!. Craig heads over to the restaurant and places the order once he gets there, which gives him some time to sip a beer and talk to friends and neighbors he runs into there every week. This usually means I have 30-40 minutes of quiet time to weave, read, write, catch up on social media or watch tv. By this point I’ve moved on from coffee to beer/wine/bourbon, whatever suits the day.

When Craig gets home, we all sit together to eat. We have a weekly contest of who has the “Poten-tater” (ie.longest french fry). After we eat we often play a game together or watch a movie. Sometimes there’s a dance party. Always there’s lots of laughing and poop jokes and nonsense.

Then it’s bedtime for the kiddos. And, Craig and I settle in to watch some tv…which usually results in him falling asleep. This is the only point in the week that I ever have control of the tv. So, I often pour myself another drink and watch my shows from the DVR into the wee hours of the night.

The whole evening is the perfect combination of having fun together, and getting quiet alone time that I so desperately need to recharge. And, it’s maybe the only part of our week that doesn’t ever feel rushed. I hate rushing, but I’m always, always rushing. It’s unavoidable. Rushing to get to work, rushing to get home, rushing out of the house, rushing back to the house. There’s never enough time in the day. Except on Friday nights when it all miraculously slows down and we’ve got nowhere to be, but home. And nothing to do, but just be our little family in our little corner of the world. Friday night, it’s exactly where I want to be.

 

Now’s Not the Time

Been thinking a lot lately about unsolicited opinions. I’ve always really struggled with being graceful when presented with advice and opinions about my personal life that I didn’t ask for. Not from people that are close to me, but rather from people I barely know at all. I really hit my breaking point on this during my pregnancies. A pregnant belly is like wearing a sign that says, “my whole life is totally up for discussion” even if we’ve never met before this very moment. I remember thinking that pregnancy was great and I’d be happy to go on being pregnant for many more months if only I could do it without having to speak to anyone.

I’ve tried to let this feeling go, and chalk it up to the fact that people mean well. They’re only trying to help. But, lately I’ve come to realize that it’s not the advice in and of itself that makes me crazy, but rather when it’s given. If I’m struggling with a decision, it’s absolutely, 100% helpful for me to hear the thoughts and feelings of the people I trust. So I can take it all into account, and make my decision from there. But, if I’ve already decided on something….please just keep your advice to yourself. Who exactly do people think they’re helping by jumping in when you’ve told them you’ve decided to do something and saying they’d do the opposite. At that point, you’ve gone from advice to judgment, and I’m not sure who that helps.

If you truly have someone’s best interest at heart, wouldn’t you simply offer support in whatever they’ve decided? Rather than sitting in judgment of their decision? I’m still going to keep working on receiving advice and judgement gracefully, but I’m inclined to give some advice of my own, think before you speak. 

What’s My Patience Temperature?

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I’ve been working on a campaign over at The Land of Nod called #celebratetuesday. You can read more about it here. The basic idea is that life with kids is chaotic and hard, but the little moments mingled amongst the hectic every day are the ones that weave together to create the story of your family. So, no need to try to create epic events and memories or live up to impossible standards in order to be a good parent. Just give what you can each day to your kiddos and all those little happy, silly, ridiculous moments will add up to a happy childhood, even if they do feel few and far between some days.

We partnered with Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind on some posts. This was her first post. She talked about how some days she’s the mom that lets her kid push the kid cart in the stores, but some days she’s not. And, that’s okay. Reading her post, I was struck by an observation of my own parenting rhythm. I’ve learned that it’s important to me to take my “patience temperature” before agreeing to an activity with my kids. I’ve learned that if I force myself to “be the parent I think I have to” but I really don’t have it in me that day to enjoy it, it ends in disaster. On the flip side, some days my patience is overflowing and I’m up for all the ridiculousness. I can be in it, and enjoy it.

So, sometimes I’m the mom that lets my kids play with glitter and glue at the dining room table, never giving a thought to the mess they’re making. But that’s not every day. And that’s okay.

 

 

A Letter to My Daughter

In honor of International Women’s Day, a letter to my Lottie.

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Dear Lottie-Lou,

You are so awesome. There will be times in your life when you’ll forget that, so surround yourself with people that will remind you. You are so strong. Find people who support and respect that strength. Some folks will be threatened by your conviction, don’t let that deter you. Be who you know you are and do what you believe is right. You are so loving and compassionate. Love as fiercely as you do today, even if that means getting hurt. The world needs the type of love you have to give. You are hilarious. Don’t forget to find the humor in the everyday and share that humor with the world around you.

You have an insanely fantastic imagination and are an incredible artist. Keep creating the world you want to live in, and dreaming up new ideas. Imagination isn’t just for kids. You are brilliant and curious. Never stop learning.

You are uniquely you. You’ll try to fit into molds in your life, and live up to what you see as expectations. But, you’re the only you there will ever be. No one can tell you the right way to be you, that’s for you to decide.

I love you more than I could ever put into words, more than I can even fathom. There’s nothing that you could ever do to make me love you less. In fact, though it doesn’t seem possible, I love you more with each passing day. No matter what choices you make in life, I will be here for you to remind you what an incredible person you are.

You inspire me to be better a woman every day. Thank you! You’ll never know how much you’ve given me.

Love,
Mom

Just When I Think I’ve Nailed It

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Today Lottie and I donated a trunk-load of dishes, toys and clothes to our local resale shop. After I unloaded the goods Lottie asked, “Mom, why do we donate stuff?” I was so ready for this one…..a teachable moment that I actually had the information ready in my brain to teach. Much easier than the other day when during dinner she randomly said, “Mom, did it hurt when the doctor took me out of your belly? How did he even do that?” “Ummmmmm, can you pass the ranch, please?”

This was an easy one. “Well, we do it to help people. We don’t need these things in our house anymore so it helps us. People can then buy it from this store for a lower price than buying new, so it helps them. And, people who need jobs are able to work here and that helps them. So, we donate stuff because it helps a lot of people.” Cue applause in my head. Nailed it. She’s going to grow up to be such a great member of society. I totally got this. Brilliant. 

But, then, she interrupts my internal celebration and says, “Really? Well, what about French people? Does it help them?” “……wait, what, huh…..can you pass the ranch, please?”

Damn this kid really keeps me on my toes.