Wednesday, December 29, 2010


When I was nursing the babies, I would alway say, "if you can get the food yourself, it is time for you to stop nursing."  Today, I discovered a new one; "if you can change your own diaper, it's time for you to poop in the potty."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Innocent expressions of Love

Last night, I put on my "far-sighted" glasses. Now, I don't wear them often because i still haven't come to terms with the fact that after having perfect eyesight all my life, I turned 40 and suddenly became far-sighted.  I was reading a magazine and realized that my arms were not long enough to hold the magazine far enough away that I could actually read it so I pulled out and dusted off the glasses.  As I put them on and started reading, Dumpling, who is always joined to my hip, looked over and said, "mommy, you are beautiful!!!"  Pretty amazing compliment from a 3 year old. No motive, nothing needed, just a pure, simple compliment. Those will always be the best.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Raising Boys we would want to marry

Yesterday, I was pondering the correct age to start assigning chores to the boys. Why? I want them to be able to be confident in every aspect of their lives. They should be able to confidently perform any chore around the house, including cleaning, cooking, sewing, lawn maintenance and fixing any and every thing that breaks.  My oldest son is an awesome helper; every Saturday morning we get up early and he helps me tidy up the house. He vacuum cleaner is his favorite toy.  I am grooming them to be competent in every area of their lives. In 20 years, no maybe 30, they will not only be great  well rounded guys but an awesome spouse to a very happy wife. Here is a cool article on the subject.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Are Friendships Forever?

I have always believed that friendships should not end, so I have never ended one. Some of my friendships simply fade away, some fade away forever, while others return stronger after a few months or years with little or no communication. I sometime mourn once close friendships even though I know that we all grow, sometimes in different directions. Sometimes I get nostalgic and call someone that I have not spoken to in 10 years and after 15 minutes, I remember why. In other cases, we both realize how much we have grown and changed in the passing years - after 10 year, the fact that I missed a significant life event, or didn't like a now former boyfriend, or gave criticism when empathy was needed, all seems insignificant.

Friendships sometimes change due to a major life event such as marriage, children or embarking on a new career. A recently read a wonderful article in More magazine about a woman who adopted 2 wonderful children at age 55. Her friend just frankly told her that she thought that she was making a bad choice adopting at her age and didn't want to stick around to hear about the challenges of raising kids. As a mom of three boys under 6, I am very familiar with how "diaper talk" can scare away friends without children, or how the nesting stage of marriage can scare away single friends.  These are the friend who slowly return after they get married or start to have their own children or just become more confident in their own life choices.

Have you ever had a friend who you loved but was just not the right friend for your current situation. Maybe you were changing religion and that person could not provide the support that you needed, or you pack up the family and move to a new city and your friend can't understand your choice, or you decided to quit school and travel the world and needed to take a break from the friendship to avoid the disapproving comments.  We all have these challenges that can either result in momentary breaks in friendships or long term rifts.  If you take a temporary break, it is possible to come full circle and have an even stronger friendship.

We all have a deep need to connect with each other. I still believe that friendship is forever, even when it ends or fades away.   When a friend enters our lives,  he or she touches our hearts, minds, and soul in a special way and whether they remain a constant in our lives or they change course, their imprint remains. Today as I make my Sunday phone calls, I will call a friend that I have not spoken to in a few years and see if the absence has made our hearts grow fonder.

Autherine @

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

For the Love of a Pissy Cat

He was a gift from a dear friend. He came to me at a time when I had surgery, was getting my life together after a long term relationship ended and I needed a friend. I named him Rudy, short for “rude boy,” a popular term in Jamaican culture. I treated him like my first child. I fed him, hugged him when he would let me, changed his litter and sometimes he even slept in my bed. Then came the kids and my focus shifted. He grudgingly lurked in the shadows of my life as my primary focus became baby no 1, then 2, then 3. He acted out many times, often showing his displeasure by leaving nice “presents” for me in my shoes, my purse, my sofa and even my bed. Still we are together, Rudy and I. I have been asked on occasion, “why don’t you get rid of that pissy cat.” Well, he is like a member of the family to me; at 12, he would be considered an elderly relative that I treasure. The way I was brought up, when your relatives get old, you don’t send them away, they move in with you, until death do you part. Pets teach us love and responsibility. They take us through the cycle of life by preparing us to be good parents and eventually how to take care of an elderly parent, if the need arises. 

There are so many thing that I love about Rudy.  I love that he is temperamental and aloof; he gives love to those who love him and has disdain for those who are not "cat" people. He focuses on getting his basic needs met. He is not needy, he loves the great outdoors, even though he is an indoor cat.  Just when I think that he doesn’t care, he shows up and rub on my legs or sit comfortably next to my feet just to let me know that he still loves me. He holds a grudge. When his litter bin isn’t clean enough, he pees in my shoes and my purse; it takes great skill to do that. He loves wet cat food and he can hear the can opening a mile away.

Recently, I rushed Rudy to the hospital because he was bitten by an animal.  I wasn't sure if it was a wild cat or snake but it was a nasty bite. We become reflective and sentimental when we almost lose someone that we love, which is why some who is famous for not being sentimental is trying to wax  poetic about a cat. A friend once complained that people spent too much time loving animals when they should be loving humans - there is room in our hearts to do both.  Rudy and I have made it through over 10 years of the rollercoaster of life, including 3 moves, 3 babies, 4 job changes, boyfriends that he liked, boyfriends that he hated instantly, a husband who is allergic to him, and boys who pull his tail.  He pick something that I love to piss on everytime that he is upset with me, including my resume right before an important job interview. I have been told that I can put him on Prozac to stop the bad behavior but that is the way that we communicate and I really hope that he will be my pissy cat for another 10 years.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rethinking Good Study Habits

Child´s BrainImage via Wikipedia

"Varying the type of material studied in a single sitting — alternating, for example, among vocabulary, reading and speaking in a new language — seems to leave a deeper impression on the brain than does concentrating on just one skill at a time. " This is a new theory put forth to disprove all the others that we have been relying on to help our children learn. Soon there will be another article disproving this one. I find that there is some value in most studies, and the more tools that we have to help our children learn the better they will perform in school.  Every child learns differently, so read with a cautious eye and employ the method that will best suit your child. 

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Dads - Both sons and daughters need you.

father in nuclear familyImage via Wikipedia
Just read a curious article that stated that having a son will reduce the likelihood of divorce. I am a fan of anything that will prolong marriage so if having a son helps, that is a good thing. I am worried that this infers that girls just are not as valued a boys. A father should give as much care to the thought of walking away for a daughter as he would to a son. I can't overstate the need for a dad in a young girl's life - beauty and status in life should be the least of a father's concern.  Every morning, my boys wake up and if they see dad, they say "where is Mommy", and if they see Mommy, they say "where is Daddy?". I certainly hope that Mommy and Daddy will never be further than the next room.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dangers of Psychosis Drugs for the Young

Young children, especially boys are being medicated with alarming frequency. A New York Times article highlights the story of Kyle Warren, a boy who was given psychotic drugs from he was 18 months to 3 years old. After many incorrect diagnosis and years of taking medication usually reserved for adults, he was admitted into a program that got him off the drugs and gave him the counseling that he needed.

Both the article and the comments are informative and a wake up call for parents, especially parents of boys. Visit the links below for more information.

Dangers of Psychosis Drugs for the Young: 

Can Preschoolers be Depressed?

The Medicated Child: 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Boys: Knives, Lipstick and Pumps

A pair of black patent leather court shoes wit...Image via Wikipedia
As the only woman in a house with 3 boys, a husband and a male cat, it doesn't take much to convince me that boys are different. I am not sure if they are from Mars but I know that they are from a planet where there is a lot of yelling, jumping on tables, hitting, laughing about body parts and getting excited over strange smells.  I spend a great deal of time saying, " don't hit your brother", "no, I don't agree that your poop is cool", "please don't pull the cat's tail", and "please don't swing from the chandelier." My boys are happy, energetic and prone to pinching each other when I am not looking. On the other hand, both have been so fascinated with my lipstick that I lock my purse or keep the lipstick on the top shelf.

This week, I read two articles on the New York Time's "Motherlode" blog about raising boys.  The first was about the seemingly inherent violent nature of boys and how teachers react to boys in the classroom and the second was about "toughening up boys", particularly boys who have a fondness for lipstick and high heel shoes.   I have enclosed links to both posts below. I say let the boys be boys. Let them safely define their own path. Growing up, we had several breaks during the school day where boys and girls were allowed to run free. I think that the boys, who had boundless energy, loved those breaks more than the girls. Now there is little time during the day dedicated to sports or free play and boys are labeled as hyper at a very young age. In the second article, parents worried about their son's love for traditionally feminine products. I have not met a boy who at one point in his young life was not curious about lipstick and high heel shoes.  I love that boys are complex. I love that the same boy who wants to collect bugs in the yard also wants to try my lipstick.  I hide my knives, lipstick and pumps, not because  I fear that my boys will march down to the local Target and trade in all their cars for dolls (I would probably support the trade) but because lipstick on the wall is a pain to clean and I would prefer not to spend my night in the emergency room dealing with a broken ankle.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Devean and Ja'van: Your Life Mattered

The story of Devaen and Ja'Van, two lovely boys who were killed by their mother has stayed in my consciousness since this tragic ending to their lives.  Only the mother truly knows what led her to murder her two boys but reports are that she was unemployed, a single mother, overwhelmed, and that she couldn't handle the harsh criticism of her own mother. Everyone desperately searches for answers when a mother takes the life of her child; we want to believe that she is mentally unstable or a bad person but the answer is often more complex. In the wake of this tragedy, there was a news report that a mother takes the life of a child every 3 days. There is no spin to put on this story, we can only learn from the tragedy.  

As mothers, we all have moments, days, and even weeks when we feel overwhelmed by parenting, we fear that we are failing at it, we have little personal time, and we have great moments of insecurity. Have you ever slumped down on your sofa in defeat saying, "I can't even get a 3 year old to listen to me?" If you have seen the movie "Sex and the City", there was a moment when Charlotte was so overwhelmed, even with a nanny, that she went into the pantry and cried. Well, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making sure that the kids are safe and then taking a  moment to go into the pantry or the bedroom or bathroom and taking a moment to cry, center yourself or just breathe.  When all 3 of my boys are crying at the same time and I am feeling outnumbered and unable to meet all their needs, I just have to cry too, or call a friend for help and not feel guilty about it.  Thankfully, most mothers won't seriously harm a child but when you will find yourself yelling too loudly, too often, swearing, feeling hopeless, overwhelmed or just saying to yourself, "maybe, I wasn't cut out to be a mother", it is time to ask for help. It is just fine to say to a friend, a family member, a co-worker, sometimes even a stranger, "I NEED HELP!" You will be surprised how  many people are willing to assist.  There are no perfect moms, just moms doing our best everyday in our own way. 

It was reported that the worker who retrieved the bodies from the water didn't immediately put them on the stretcher but hugged them like the precious babies that they are. When I look at their photo and into the beautiful eyes of Devean and Ja'van, I silently say to them, "boys, you were here, you were loved, your life mattered." 
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pick safer school supplies with EWG’s back-to-school guide | Environmental Working Group

Front of Crayola No 54 crayon boxImage via Wikipedia
Today is the big shopping day for back to school items. I dutifully went to the school's website and downloaded the list. 

2 packs Crayola crayons (24 count)
1 pack Crayola crayons large (8 count)  
1 pack Crayola thick classic markers (8 count)
              (*no neon, pastels, skinny, etc. markers)
2 Dry Erase Markers (1 black/1 blue)
1 (3 prong/2 pocket) plastic folder   
2 4 oz. bottles Elmer’s white glue
2 Glue Sticks (Jumbo size)
1 pair Fiskars blunt tip children’s scissors
2 boxes Kleenex 
** 1 bottle hand sanitizer
1 ream letter size printer/copier paper
  Kindergarten supplies continued…..
GIRLS: 1 box 24 ct. Ziploc bags (quart size)
1 container Lysol wipes
BOYS: 1 box 25 ct. Ziploc bags (gallon size)
             1 container baby wipes

 Hard not to notice that almost all the product were listed as "Crayola" or a name brand. Crayola must be a huge supported of schools to have such a hold on the market. Or maybe it is because they have been around since 1903.  Dare I buy non name brand crayons, markers or lunch boxes? No kid wants to be the "different" one, especially on the first day. I was surfing Twitter this morning at 5am, otherwise known as mommy-time, and conveniently stumbled on a list of environmentally safe school supplies. I will be taking this list with me to the store today. Hope that I can get away with buying a few items, especially the environmentally safe lunch-box. I bet that it doesn't have Batman on the cover.

BTW, I wonder why the girls are asked to bring Lysol wipes and the boys are asked to bring baby wipes? :-).  If I chicken out on the environmentally friendly backpack, at least I can get soothe the guilt with the environmentally friendly baby wipes.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lost the car key found the key to my happiness

Have you ever had a day where nothing went as planned? Have you ever became so worked up over something minor that you had to talk yourself down from an emotional high, or maybe I should say emotional low?  That was my day on Monday.  My husband left for work and I had the boys fed and ready to rush out the door to school and work when I discovered that my car key was missing. 30 minutes later, I still couldn't find them. Searched the entire house, climbed on chairs, rummage through toy boxes, looked under sofas and even went outside to peer through the tinted window of the car. No keys. The kids, feeling my anxiety were getting cranky, the extra key is with my hubby 60 miles away and I am living in a new city with very few friends to call. Taxi to work and school would be about $30 and no child seat for the boys. The main road is about a 20 minute walk away and public transportation is practically non-existent. I started feeling overwhelmed and had a funny thought "if no tears fall, is it actually crying?" I took a deep breath and "centered" myself. 

Now that I can see and think clearly I had a great idea - walk the kids to school and then get a ride to work with a friend a few hours later. Problem solved. It began to rain. Called my husband who thankfully simply sympathized. 

Better idea! I have a bag full of lemons; boys do you want some lemonade?  Why not relax, take the morning off and have a leisurely morning with the kids. We had more breakfast, we played with cars, we listened to music and before we knew it it had stopped raining. Gathered the boys and we turned a 15 minute walk to school into a 30 minute leisurely stroll. We stopped under every tree to hide from the sun, picked up rocks and sticks, strolled along the pond and made it to school late and hot but blissfully happy. As I dropped the boys off, I thought "wow, what a wonderful morning!" I didn't get to work until 2p.m. but work is not the most important thing that I do everyday. Losing the key reminded me to focus on what is really important; my heart is happy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

But Will it Make You Happy

"Running with the seagulls", Galvest...Image via Wikipedia
"New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material objects, when they relish what they plan to buy long before they buy it, and when they stop trying to outdo the Joneses. Attached is a NYT article about what makes up really happy."

All the material things make me happy in the short term. It is instant gratification. Buying a nice dress that I don't really need, looking at a bigger house, the concept of a great big screen TV....all gives us that feeling of excitement. That feeling is often mixed with a sense in the pit of our stomachs that this new toy is too expensive or that the money would be more wisely invested in the retirement fund or the kids college fund.  I am far from perfect at this; we all chase what we perceive as happiness.  However, we can all try to identify what really makes us happy in our souls and channel our energy towards that purpose. Most often we will find that it is not a thing that money can buy.  Playing in the backyard with the kids, walking on the beach or even looking at a beautiful photo of the beach, a peaceful afternoon nap, writing a free blog, catching up with an old friend, watching the kids discover something new, are all things that make me blissfully happy.

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Nervously anticipating Kindergarten

A 2010 Girardin MB-II school bus belonging to ...Image via Wikipedia
We are entering the strange land that is called Kindergarten.  Gian is excited about new friends, going to a big school and the school bus. We are nervous about the big school, new friends and having him ride the school bus.
Is 5 too young to ride the school bus? Not sure, so I will be driving him until we both get comfortable, which may be in a week or never.  I have created a family calendar to keep track of all the activities.  Already, there has been two mornings of pre-kindergarten camp, which we missed b/c mommy didn't rsvp on time, a parent orientation night, a meet the teacher night and two more "practice" days b/f the big first day. Apparently, the school is nervous about this too. I somehow felt comforted when I read his supplies list and saw that the major item was crayons - maybe, things aren't moving too fast, after all.
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Smile for the camera - all together now.

What a great achievement it is to get all the boys to look at the camera at the same time! I take credit for the photo of just the boys (after many tries) and thanks to the very patient photographer at the Kennedy Space Center for the group photo. The photo was overpriced but we were so grateful to finally get a group shot that we purchased it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Divinely Inspired

The view from our window showed a torrential rain storm. The patio was flooded, thunder roared and lightening filled the sky. The boys and I spent all morning getting ready for church and now we were impatiently waiting for the storm to let up just enough for us to get to the car. It took us a few hours just to get 3 boys ages 5, 3 and 1 ready for church so we were too invested to think about not going to church. It was now 11 a.m. and church, which is 30 minutes away was just getting started. We debated about whether the church service ended at 12:30 or at 1 p.m. We left the house at 11:25 with hopes of arriving by noon, dropping the kids to kids church and at least catching the sermon. We were almost at church when we realized that all 3 boys were sleeping in the back seat.  I whispered to hubby, "I have a secret to tell you; we are not going to church today." With time on our hands, and a rare moment to have adult conversation, we talked about blogging about raising our boys. I am already blogging about love and friendship, why not blog about something even closer to my heart. As an added bonus, hubby and I can actually collaborate on something that as he joked "doesn't involve baking a bun.". So off we go and we hope that you will join us!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Are we all connected?

Recently a friend had an accident; she mentioned that she was hurt and alone.  When she shared the story, I thought, “What was I doing at that very moment.”  I firmly believe that as humans, we are all connected by our human spirit and by love. Regardless of where we were born or our status in life, we all have the same desire to love and be loved. Some of us can sense when someone we are close to, usually a child, is in trouble.  I sometimes get a strong urge to check on one of my children; most of the time they are just fine but occasionally someone needs my help. I usually refer to it as “mommy’s intuition.”  We frequently hear stories of twins who can sense each others joys and pains.  It would be amazing and  somewhat frightening if we all had the same connectedness to each other. As I sit here, thankful that my friend is doing well, I am hopeful that one day we all evolve to a place where we are never alone, mentally, physically and spiritually.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Uplifted by Great Service!

When you love your job it shows; you are happy and it spreads to everyone around you.  Unfortunately, I had to take my precious cat to the Vet because he was bitten by another animal. It was a sad morning for the both of us.  This was an emergency call at a new Vet so I didn't know what to expect. Surprisingly, I received the best service that I had ever received at any doctor's office, including my own doctors. The staff welcomed me with a smile, the wait was short, I wasn't charged for the emergency visit, the doctor was knowledgeable and my technician, Jo was amazing! She treated Rudy like a member of her own family. She cuddled him, gently treated his wound, and made great suggestions for keeping him safe and happy. Both Rudy and I left feeling uplifted.  I complimented her on her enthusiasm for her job. Great service is so hard to find that when you find it, acknowledge it. If someone has uplifted you, share the love and uplift that person with a genuine show of appreciation.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Song that takes you to your Happy Place

The kids were watching the movie "Cars" this evening and when the song, "Life is a Highway" came on, my son ran to me and said, "Mom, your favorite song is on." Well, it is not my favorite song but it is one of many "rocking" songs that I love. I love music and when I have a rough day, I turn to my special playlist of songs that I can sing out loud in the car or in the shower or at my desk at work.  Music is great for the mind and body and soul and the heart and every pore in the body.  You can't help but feel pure joy for 3 minutes or longer if you have a great playlist. Everyone should have a song that takes them to their "happy place". Some songs that I like to sing out loud are (Life is a Highway, Beautiful Day, Girls Just Want to have Fun, Let the Music Play, Stir it Up, Testify, La Vida Es Un Carnival) .

What is your song?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Potty training as a measure of success

Is there any greater accomplishment than getting a child, especially a boy, potty trained? Apparently not.  I was feeling great about life this week when my child's teacher reminded me that he is the only child in his daycare class who is not potty trained. Suddenly I felt dejected, but why? There is so much pressure on parents to excel in every tiny aspect of parenting.  Any parent will tell you that potty training is a big deal but we have to set our own goals and timelines.  So I tell myself that I will have a potty trained child and the process will be fun for both of us.  Happy, healthy child, that is my barometer for success.  This weekend will be filled with hugs, kisses and potty lessons but if it takes him a few extra weeks to learn - no worries. As a friend reminded me when I was potty training my first child, "he won't go to college in diapers." Thanks, friend.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A second chance at childhood fun

I had a wonderful childhood, having had the good fortune to grow up in a place when people loved and trusted each other. I ran free, played with friends for hours in our yard, ate fruit directly from the tree, and played hopscotch with friends. I am not sure when it happened but life took a serious turn and became about doing and saying the right things, working hard, and achieving.  What happened to the joy of playing just to have fun and with no agenda?  Then came kids. They can roll on the ground without being embarrassed; they can laugh without checking to see if someone is laughing with them; they can laugh at the same joke a hundred times; they laugh from deep inside the belly. For kids, play is just as important as everything else in life.  Yesterday, it dawned on me that I am having as much fun as I did as a kid, if not more. I play peek-a-boo with the boys over and over and over again and it never gets old. I have seen the movie cars at least a hundred times. I get to visit Elmo  and play in Legoland. I sing along to all the songs on Nick Jr.  How awesome is it to go to work and then run home to play ring around the roses.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Flying high but slowing down

Kids are really great at forcing us to ponder. On the flight coming back from vacation with my 5 year old, he had a million questions....mommy, when we are flying on the plane, are we closer to God? Is God a man or a woman? Was Abraham Lincoln the best President and if so, why is he on the $5 bill? Is a hippopotamus slow? It would be so easy to give a glib answer to a 5 year old. If I was not on an airplane, i would be tempted to rely on Google, but thankfully I was forced to slow down and focus on my son as well as the questions that were certainly very important to him. I may not know all the answers but I said, Sweetie, if we were made in God's image, he must be a little bit of both. What do you think? And so begins a great conversation with my son.

Old Friends

I just spent a few days with friends who know almost everything about me and still love me. What a wonderful feeling!!!! I recently relocated to a new city and meeting new friends has been like dating. "What is your name", "What is your sign", "What are your likes and dislikes". With every date, you have to sell yourself again. We should always be open to expanding our network of good, true friends but how awesome it is to fall back into the arms of old friends and know that you always have a safe place to land?

5 Reasons to Be Thankful

Today and everyday, I can’t help but thinking of Ms. Linett Wills, one of the mothers who raised me. Although we had little material things and couldn’t afford a feast for the holidays, she thanked God daily for her blessings. Although she passed away ten years ago, she is always in my heart and I try to live my life in accordance with her teachings. She always gave thanks everyday be saying to God, “thanks for waking me up this morning and starting me on my way.” This thanksgiving season, I echo her sentiments and I am blessed to be able to add a few more to her list.

1. Happy and healthy kids
2. Wonderful friends that are just like family.
3. A job in these tough economic times.
4. The ability to have a positive outlook on life.
5. The Gift of God.

What are you thankful for this year?

A taste of single motherhood

I spent the last three weeks getting a taste of what it would be like to be a single parent. My husband had to go on a three-week business trip - something that rarely happens in our relationship. Three weeks seemed like a long time. I know, for you single moms and super moms out there, three weeks is child’s play. Although I was raised by a single parent, we were surrounded by family members who could pitch in instantly. Today many families are miles away from the nearest relative. We rely on the good will of friends and a sitter when we can afford it. As a mother who works full-time, the thought of getting two young kids ready and out the door every morning, working a full day, picking them up, feeding and getting them ready for bed (neither sleeps through the night) and then doing it all again everyday for three weeks, seemed daunting. Below are the survival skills that I learned in the process.

    • enlist the assistance of friends and family
    • create a schedule and stick to it as much as possible
    • get a good night’s sleep, you need your energy
    • arrange play dates, preferably at your house
    • try to cook for at least 3 days and pack lunches in advance
    • order guilt-free meals for deliverykeep secret weapons (new toy, favorite snack) handy in case of an emergency tantrum
    • make a “to do” list and focus on the important things, everything else can wait
    • If you need to pick up a few things at the supermarket, enlist a friend or sitter to watch the kids; nothing can send a parent over the hedge faster than a child in the supermarket.
    • So what if your little prince pours an entire bottle of baby oil on the floor, or the baby throws up on you on your way out the door? The unexpected happens, just take a deep breath and go with the flow.

At the end of the three weeks, and lots of help from friends and family I survived. I have to admit that I am no super mommy but I at least both kids are alive and well. I hope not to repeat this experience anytime soon but now I know that if I had to do it, we would all survive, just like the millions of hand working single moms out there.

Traveling with kids can be peaceful and stress-free

I recently read an article about the challenges of flying with young children and was not surprised to hear that parents experience high levels of stress and anxiety from the experience; however, I was amazed at how much anger and resentment other passengers directed at the traveling parents. Some readers commented that parents were “selfish” to travel with young kids and that the kids should be “drugged” with Benadryl. Those were the nicer comments. Several airlines are now considering placing families with young children in the rear of the plane and there have been several stories of parents being forced to leave the plane because of a crying baby. No one is more stressed by a crying baby or a toddler in the midst of a tantrum than the parents. Our family recently survived a 2 day, 12 hour road trip in the car with a 3 year old and a 1 year old. We also survived a seven hour (delayed flight) trip to the Caribbean. I decided to resist the urge to focus this blog on the controversy surrounding travel with young kids, and instead focus on helpful ways to have a peaceful and stress-free trip with the kids.

As both trips were manageable, but not entirely stress free (one roll on the floor tantrum in the middle of the airport, several “are we there yet”, and “yelling and fighting in the back seat”), I asked a few friends with kids to offer suggestions. Below are the top ten suggestions.

• Buy a brand new toy and hide it until you get on the airplane or in the car. A new toy should buy you about 2 hours of quiet time.
• Even if the young child is potty trained, try using a pull-up for long trips. This will lessen the anxiety for both parent and child. No emergency stops on the side of the road or needing to go to the bathroom just when the flight attendant is blocking the isle with the drink cart.
• Give just enough juice and water to keep the kids hydrated. The last thing you need on a long trip is a child on a sugar high.
• For kids that are of TV/Movie age, pack a portable DVD player with at least 2 of their favorite movies.
• Bring their favorite snacks. Kids may not want those delicious snack packs offered by the airline
• Kids are weary of new surroundings, so bring a favorite toy, book, blanket, or stuffed animal – anything to make them feel at home.
• If possible, try to get seated in the same row on an airplane. If you have a toddler, seat her on the inside so that she will not be tempted to run up and down the aisle.
• If you are flying, take advantage of early boarding so that you will have time to get your bags stored and child settled.
• Whether you are traveling by car or air, travel light. No need to bring a case of diapers when you can pick up more at the local supermarket. Several airports/destination cities will have a place where you can rent a car seat and a stroller.
• If possible, drive or fly at nap-time. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if your child could sleep through the flight or road trip?

If despite your best efforts, a tantrum ensues, the child gets an earache from the cabin pressure, or something unexpected occurs, take a deep breath, don’t panic, and try to address the child’s immediate need. Drown out the little voice telling you that everyone is looking at you and judging you as a parent. Hugs, kisses, reassurance and maybe the promise of a favorite treat at the end of the trip can turn a frown into a smile.

Have a good traveling tip? Help out your fellow parents by posting it below.

Vacations: Free yourself to live in the moment

I am back from an extremely relaxing five days on vacation. We left a few days early to escape the path of Hurricane Hanna but didn’t leave without taking my oldest son in the ocean to ride the waves. There is nothing better than listening to him squeal with joy as we get hit by wave after wave. As I allowed my hair to get wet so that I could enjoy the moment, I began to reflect on all the things that I do on vacation in order to live in the moment. There are two rituals that I tend to live by. I skip the makeup (I cheat occasionally with eyeliner) and I keep my hair in a ponytail or a similar no hassle hairdo. You would be surprised at how much time this frees up to engage in other pursuits. Here are a few others that I love.

  • Downsize. Eliminate everything that is time consuming. No high-maintenance hairstyle, or long make-up ritual and definitely do not pack any clothes that will require ironing.
  • Shop at stores unique to your vacation destination. You can always visit the Gap and Target when you return home.
  • Try a new restaurant or a new cuisine. Save the trip to the Cheesecake Factory or Red Lobster until you return home.
  • Break the rules. Sleep late, let the kids stay up an extra hour, partake of that dessert you wouldn’t dream of eating back home.
  • Toss the car keys. Walk, bike, jog and meet a few new people along the way.
  • Risk embarrassment. Limbo dancing or karaoke anyone?
  • Break a habit. Stay away from the cell phone, laptop, CNN, blackberry and focus on your travel companions, new friends or new venture.
  • Experience something new. Always wanted to play golf, scuba dive, finally learn how to swim? Go for it!

It is often difficult to free ourselves from the walls that are built around us or those we build ourselves, but a week or two away is a fine time to try. A few years ago, I would have admired the ocean from afar because I told myself that I couldn’t go into water where I couldn’t see my toes, or I wouldn’t get in because I didn’t want to get my hair wet. Over the years, I have learned that vacations aren’t just “same thing, different city” but a chance to relax, release and sometimes even reinvent ourselves.

A vacation for the Soul

The wind is blowing a cool breeze, the ocean is playing a sweet melody and I am standing barefoot at the edge of the ocean with my 1 year old son in my arms. Yesterday, as we drove the 12 hours from Washington, DC to Hilton Head, South Carolina, I repeatedly asked myself why I was taking this long drive, with two young kids in the back seat of my car. A few days ago, my husband confirmed that he would have to cut our vacation short to head to Texas for training. This meant that I would have to do all the driving on the return trip. I am not a fan of driving, so why not just cancel the trip? Standing on the edge of the ocean, I discovered why I came. I felt joyful, at peace, alive and free to exhale.

I am so used to my daily routine of getting the kids ready for school and our nanny share, sometimes having a bite for breakfast, speeding through traffic to get to work on time, working a full day, picking up the kids, doing evening chores, having playtime with the kids, getting them ready for bed, and getting up and doing it all over again, that I didn't even realize that I was not exhaling. As I write this, I am sitting at a table in our little cottage looking out at the beautiful grounds. I have many of the same responsibilities, but for the next five days, I have time to stop and enjoy my time with the kids and inhale the ocean air.

For anyone who is thinking about skipping the vacation this year, remember that a change of scenery awakens the soul and it allows the mind to embrace new possibilities. When your mind is uncluttered and your soul is at peace, you are free to contemplate how to get that promotion at work, how to carve out more time for the family, how to finally find the time to unclutter your house, how to get your financial house in order and how to engage in spiritual activities that feed the soul. I can't wait to dip my feet in the water again tomorrow
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