This is what’s clogging up my brainspace this week:

Take that, Valentine's Day!

Take that, Valentine’s Day!

Another snowstorm’s coming, with up to a foot of snow being discussed at the time of this writing. Must stock junk food. But why? I don’t even eat junk food usually! Something about snow just screams cookies to me. Can you relate?

I’m thinking about journaling again, and really holding myself to spending 5 minutes every single day writing down my thoughts and feelings in an effort to help me sort them out. But of course I worry about privacy issues. I’ve had my journals read by people I trusted, and it was somewhat traumatic. So today I found myself googling “privacy issues with journaling” and reading about some options for keeing my thoughts private. Something that resonated with me (because I’m guilty of this) was advice that if you’re censoring yourself in your writing because you’re afraid of who may read it, you’re just wasting your time and not getting the full effect of journaling. Do you journal? If so, is privacy a concern?

My dad is having heart surgery this week. I plan to take the day off from work and hang at the hospital with my mom, keeping her company and keeping things light as we wait for updates. But that snowstorm is supposed to happen on the same day, and since schools will likely be cancelled, I think my new plan will consist of maintaining my sanity at home with an energetic 4-year-old while waiting for updates from my mom, also while attempting to complete a full day’s work from home. Working from home is hard most times, although sometimes we nail it. I wrestle with balancing my work with my son’s constant requests to play, and there is often a lot of guilt that comes along with telling him I can’t play until I get some things done. It will be a challenging day, to say the least. If you know any snow dances–the kind that would push this storm far off the coast, perhaps–please do them now! I’m also accepting thoughts & prayers for my dad and any work-from-home advice you’ve got!

Valentine’s Day. Sigh. Someone very important to me died on the night of February 13th, ten years ago this year. I can’t help but associate the day with my grief. His death triggered my anxiety in a way I’d never experienced it before. I remember that Valentine’s Day like it happened yesterday. I sat in a Japanese steakhouse, picking at my sushi, pretending to be OK as I celebrated my first Valentine’s Day with my now-husband. I secretly didn’t want to be there, which made me feel badly. I wanted to be with my family, or alone to cry and grieve. That was the first time Valentine’s Day felt fake to me, and I can’t help but carry that with me all these years later. There’s too much pressure. I have a list of people I’d wanted to buy or make things for, but it’s already Tuesday and I’m out of time. I sure hope Valentine’s tweets instead of treats are acceptable! And I’d like to find time to grab some new Legos for Jax for his special treat, in lieu of candy, since his life revolves around Legos right now. I still have to help Jax write out one set of valentines for his pre-K class (their party is tomorrow) and one set for his daycare class (their party is Friday), and I have to provide healthy snacks for both…on top of all the other things I have to do this week! This is only my first year with a kid–one child!–in school. I don’t know how parents juggle it all!

I feel like if I make it to Saturday without losing my mind, I owe myself the biggest glass of wine, the longest bubble bath, and other mega self-care.

If you’ve made it this far into this post, you deserve a glass of wine, too! ;)

I just needed to put all that out there so maybe some of it would get out of my head for a little while. Ahhhh. Thanks for reading.

p.s. Have you entered my Valkee 2 giveaway yet? I’m choosing a winner on Valentine’s Day (well, evening). Maybe you’ll get lucky on Valentine’s Day afterall!  ;)

photo by: andertoons

guest postWhen writing a will, it is not uncommon to think about the legacy you want to leave behind. Although it is imperative that you get the important aspects of your will out of the way – who you are leaving your estate to, naming the executors etc. The need to leave messages or requests for your loved ones is great, and your last will might be an opportunity to do that, as these examples show.

Eternal Love

The story of Sue Johnston in Texas has been widely shared throughout social media, and is a great example of showing your love for someone even after you are gone. Every Valentine’s day for 46 years, Sue’s husband sent her a bouquet of flowers with a special note. The Valentine’s Day after he passed away was no different – he had prepaid the florist for many years to come to ensure that on this day, his beloved wife would receive flowers with the note ‘My love for you is eternal’.

Enduring Love

It is not just romantic love that can be shared after death, and the story of six-year-old Elena Desserich from Wyoming, USA is the perfect example. Elena was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer and given a short time to live by her doctors. On her own initiative, she began to hide hundreds of notes around the house for her parents to find after she had gone. And her parents were still finding notes as long as two years after her death. This prompted her parents to turn their story into a book called Notes Left Behind, which also details her battle with brain cancer.

These are good examples of showing that you don’t necessarily need to use your will to tell your family and friends that you love them. You can even use email and social media to schedule future messages to your loved ones after you have gone. It is up to you on what you want to include in your will, but for help and advice on writing your will and avoiding disputes check out http://disputingwills.co.uk/.

 

 

 

I might be the last to know about The Switch Witch–you tell me. Have you heard of her? Have you introduced her in your home?

In case I’m not the last to know, the way I understand this concept to work is this: Parents who are tired of all that Halloween candy sitting around the house (you know we are the ones eating most of it!) introduce the concept of The Switch Witch to their littles, telling them that they can trade in their candy for a toy to be delivered by her while they sleep.

How we worked it in my house is that I had Jax write a letter to The Switch Witch (I used a pencil to dot the words he dictated to me, and then he traced each letter with whatever color marker he wished to use–this was a fantastic exercise for him to practice letter writing, by the way). We left the letter next to his bowl of Halloween candy when he went to bed the other night. First, though, I let him choose a handful of his favorite candies to retain because I felt bad having him turn it all in.

This is the stash Jax asked to keep.

This is the stash Jax asked to keep.

"Take my candy, leave a toy..."

“Take my candy, leave a toy…”

The next morning, the candy was gone and a toy was waiting for Jax when he woke. The Switch Witch had come in the night, much like The Tooth Fairy.

The Switch Witch delivered!

The Switch Witch delivered!

He was so happy. I was so happy. My co-workers who stop by my cubicle for a candy fix are happy.

I think we will continue this tradition for a few years. If we didn’t, what ultimately would have happened is that I would have continued to eat a little candy here and there each day until I needed a bigger size, Jax would have had a bunch of sugar highs, and then in December I’d have ended up throwing out a ton of leftover candy to make room for Christmas candy. Ugh.

What do you think? Will you be using The Switch Witch? Or are your kids more into candy than toys?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of KinderCare. Tracking Pixel

Jax turns 4 next week, and as far as I can tell, age 4 is going to be the year his interests really develop. Over the past few months, he’s shown an increased interest in nature—in particular, bugs. And we all know how I feel about bugs. But I put on a smile and push aside my own disinterest (I’m using a very mild word for how I really feel about bugs!) and I read to him countless facts about all his favorite insects and arachnids. Among his favorites? The Black Widow, the trapdoor spider, and the dung beetle–no surprise there, right?

Since a visit with the Bug Lady in May sparked his curiosity about 6- and 8-legged creatures, Jax has been unquenchable. This week alone, I must have read his new spider book–complete with larger-than-life images in full color–at least twice each night, answering questions such as “What’s silk?” and “Why does a spider need turn his prey into liquid?”

Our nightly reading. No nightmares yet!

Our nightly reading. No nightmares yet!

I believe it is my responsibility to foster that curiosity and nurture it as it grows with him–even if it means endless documentaries about house spiders and wolf spiders!

Watching National Geographic's Super Spiders documentary. Ick!

Watching National Geographic’s Super Spiders documentary. Ick!

As parents, we fill their children’s lives with learning moments. Routine activities, such as reading books about spiders, can provide educational opportunities for young children. Participating in my son’s education also by making informed decisions about it is essential. For example, I remember spending countless hours with my husband, deciding on Jackson’s care while we’re at work. Determining what’s best for our children can be challenging. Because I’m always interested in opportunities to ensure Jax is receiving the best education for his changing needs and interests, I’m excited to learn more about KinderCare at their Open House on August 13th.

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KinderCare is holding Open House events at all of their learning centers across the country on August 13th, 2013. Families are welcome to visit during the Open House to see what quality early childhood education looks like and get to know their local KinderCare teachers and staff. Families can visit KinderCare to locate their neighborhood center. This link can also be used to schedule a tour at a different time, if that’s more convenient for your family.

KinderCare’s first ever Back-to-School sweepstakes will award five lucky families a scholarship for one calendar year of free tuition for one child at a KinderCare or Knowledge Beginnings Center. From now through October 18th, 2013, new families who visit any participating KinderCare or Knowledge Beginnings Center and take a tour will be entered to win one of five grand prizes. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit KinderCare to see the Official Rules.

The KinderCare August 13th Open House theme is “Learning Moments.” Learning moments are instances when learning happens away from the chalkboard. KinderCare focuses on capturing these moments every day and making every moment a teachable one. Sounds like one of our goals as parents, right?!

KinderCare provides high-quality early childhood education and childcare for kids who are infant aged through kindergarten. One of the best ways to learn more about KinderCare is to attend their nationwide Open House on August 13th, 2013. Visit KinderCare to find the Learning Center or Knowledge Beginnings Center closest to you. If you’re going to check out the one near us, maybe we’ll see you there!

And don’t forget: KinderCare’s Back-to-School Sweepstakes will award five families a scholarship worth one calendar year’s tuition for one child. To be eligible, families must visit their local KinderCare Center and take a tour. Terms and conditions apply. Click here to see the Official Rules.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of KinderCare.

I’m SO thankful for parents who speak openly about their struggles as parents, in particular as parents of children ages 3 to 4. I wish more of us would share our horror stores of toddler parenting, so that fewer of us would feel like parental failures!

You cannot convince me there is any harder, more challenging age than this. At least, I hope you won’t even try, because I can’t bear to hear there is a harder age unless you first tell me there’s a decade of sheer bliss before it!

Age 3 has been…interesting. I read recently that between the ages of 3 and 4, a child’s vocabulary explodes from 500 words to 1200 words. That’s more than double, meaning they have a whole new vocabulary for expressing all the ways in which they’re displeased! You’d think this would mean the end of the tantrums that peak between ages 2 and 3, right?

Notsomuch. At least not for us.

The other day, Jax tantrummed because I wouldn’t let him bring a dead (crispy) worm into the house to keep as his pet. The next night, he tantrummed because I didn’t eat the ginger that came with my sushi.

Reading back on those sentences, I laugh a little at how absurd these scenarios sound. But if you have a toddler, you’re probably shaking your head and saying, “Yup, sounds about right.”

Living with a toddler is like living with an adorable but psychotic dictator. You just never know when the most trivial thing will set him off and what punishment they’ll dole out when they’re unhappy. You pray it will be quick and painless. It rarely is.

One minute, they’re playing happily on the swingset in the backyard, and then suddenly they’re charging you with their fists ready to flail, and you have no idea why. And then just as suddenly and dramatically as it began, it’s over.

Post-tantrum make-up session

Post-tantrum make-up session

That’s what some days are like. Other days are perfect—although I suspect my standard of “perfect” has dramatically decreased to mean any day that doesn’t end with me in tears, hiding in the bathroom, clutching my wine glass tightly while praying for an easy bedtime.

Like you, I adore my child beyond words. I can’t spend enough time with him! I think of him constantly when we aren’t together. Parenthood has been the wildest, most awesome ride of my entire life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and don’t regret my choice to become a parent for even a second. And I enjoy more moments than I don’t.

But that doesn’t make it any less challenging and crazy.  And when, during those moments, I vent to my friends about my lunatic child or I pour myself a second glass of wine, that doesn’t make me any less awesome a mother. It makes me normal.