Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I should have been named Lucy...

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So as always, something I posted made a scene and I've been told in the words of my Nonnie's and I's favorite show hunk, Ricardo, "you've got some splainin' to do"...although it was by some really good friends who actually thought the whole story would be beneficial in the long run so per their advice I'm going to do what I don't normally do. I'm going to actually explain where I was coming from with my last post, RSVP 

I had several people call me or approach me even at church with smiles and concern just wanting to make sure that I wasn't referencing them. I was blessed to have the chance to explain to them already I was talking about a business man who had just sent my blood boiling that day but in order for the whole picture to be seen we're going to back up a month. Ten amazing vendors and I spent hours putting together a craft show that involved a lot of money to take care of enough food to feed 40 people (per the rsvp of 30 plus the 10 vendors), the decorations for eight tables, and the gift baskets that were donated by the vendors for our raffle. This was all done voluntarily by spouses who wanted to do something nice for other spouses. We had 30, count 'em 30, RSVP's that said yes we will be there. 6 showed up. SIX! Some of the vendors were upset. I was upset. My husband was upset because he helped pay for the people who never showed...When I finally got home that night after two amazing spouses I had just met helped me with so much I sat down and just talked with my husband. One of those eye opening, dot connecting conversations that happen when you're just worn down in life. That's when I realized how I felt about our generation and RSVP practices. We don't treat appointments this way I thought. Just each other. Just parties and play dates and Facebook related events...

So I sat down and vented about it. Because that is what my blog is for. To vent my opinion. In my safe zone.

Fast forward a month when life has gotten crazy and I have three posts sitting there untouched just waiting to be finalized and posted...because in order to post I have to move something else off my calendar and that isn't easy during the holidays. Normally I write Holiday posts during the summer so all I have to do is hit post. 

That's my dirty little secret of the week. I, like so many other bloggers, cheat!

All of a sudden though, I found myself with time. Time that normally I would spend with my son. This day though I had a fire lit under me because of a phrase said by a professional at a reputable college.

A phrase that had fire because of two weeks of work that went under because of one little person. You see two weeks earlier I decided to pick up a dream that I had set aside when I got married. I decided to finish my degree. Except I spent two weeks having to prove who I am as a person vs an appendage because the government thinks that as a married woman I am nothing more than a surname. Want to go to school under your married name? Fine. Have your husband sign this form. Orrrr....fill out this packet of info. Changed your SS info to reflect your marriage status? here's a packet of info! Want you transcripts sent over? Fill this out! Taxes for Financial Aid? Packet. I spent weeks printing, filing, scanning, emailing, calling, loopholing, proving to everyone that I'm a real person who can stand on my own and not as an adjective to someone else, ie: Airman's Wife or Monkey's Mama. It was degrading and frustrating and then when we're down to the wire after dealing with transcripts and 5 different schools and so many people I lost count it came down to one crucial appointment over the phone with a Financial Aid Manager. 8:30am Friday morning. School started on Monday bear in mind...but you know 8:30 came...and went. So did 8:45, 8:50, 8:55...9:00 hit and I called them. Thirty minutes later I was finally put in touch with the right person. THIRTY MINUTES! I was told my number had been transposed. Instead of the guy saying "hey, this girl has been successfully contacted for 2 weeks now so something must be wrong", He just went about his day. When I finally was about to be transferred to him they told me he would just call me back later because he was about to do something else. Welllllll, that didn't work for me. Appointments are appointments for a reason. I had planned my day to accommodate him. Cleaned my house, cooked lunch, prepped for a playdate that didn't happen, all so I could give him my undivided attention. When I told the CSR that He needed to speak with me then this is the response I got. "It says in your chart...   

You're a SAHM. It's not like you have anything else to do today".

I about pulled the poor kid through the phone line and ripped him three new holes to operate with.
RSVP issues suddenly aren't in Facebook land. It's in our professional world. Appointments mean nothing. Our time means nothing. My time as a mother was severely disrespected yet again by a man in a suit who thinks I'm sitting on my laurels eating chocolate watching soaps...when in reality I am now plotting how to pull his butt through a phone to beat it for the sheer impertinence of his statement. 

*LiGhTbUlB* RSVP Post! I already have it ready...tippity tap tap...finalize it in anger at this stupid stupid man and then on with my day I went...until shit hit the ceiling.

Suddenly I have someone mad because it must have been directed at them. I have someone else messaging me because they wanted to check it wasn't at them. Others are still coming out of the woodwork asking me about it from all over the U.S. and while some are really sweet about it others are not. It's just like every other post. I'm used to the dialogue at this point. Someone tells me to "see it from the other point of view" and inevitably brings my kid into the mix and my husband and I end up laughing in the kitchen over it. I tell him what's said and inevitably he asks "Has anyone asked you what was going on behind the scenes with you?" and my answer always has to be "No". No one has actually asked me what my family is dealing with. I am an open book. I will tell you what we deal with if asked but I find that most people genuinely don't care enough to ask. And the ones that have are never the ones that get upset over my blog. 

And my kid...my crazy amazing kid who has beat odds that most people don't even know about...In the last month he finally tested at the low end of the acceptable normal hearing levels. For the first time since he was 6 months old. He's got more testing to go through for other things and various doctors are thinking he might be borderline spectrum so when people throw my kid in the mix my husband and I laugh at that too. Inevitably my husband asks "so having one kid makes your emotions moot?" and I always have to say "apparently so". It is so stupid to us for two reasons actually. One, Having one kid doesn't make our feelings matter less or us understand less. In fact, little known fact about me, I have 4 years as a live in/ full time nanny under my belt. Those moms we make fun of...the SAHM who don't stay at home because they're too busy working out, shopping, or brunching...yea. I was that nanny. The one who from sun-up to sun-down was mom. With 4+ kids. Cooking, cleaning, shopping with multiples is nothing to me because I was doing it at 19. 19 people! It takes planning and a schedule and it blows but it was a choice. That I made and loved actually. We have made a choice for medical reasons to have one kid at this time, against what we actually wanted to do when we got married, so throwing that at us isn't ok anymore than using your kids as an excuse for always being late is. Get up earlier. You chose to have multiples. I have friends and family who have 5+ kids and they're always early. It's not only possible it's just as required as anyone with just one kid. We don't get an excuse and neither do any parents with more than one. And gender doesn't matter either. I'm so tired of hearing this. There is good and bad for both genders so when people tell me it's easier to deal with my boy it makes me want to punch something. I have a son who doesn't mentally comprehend on some days how to put a shirt on. other days he's fine. His comprehension is hit and miss so I get to get up early regardless because we never know what type of day we're going to have.
Every parent's day is determined by their child's mentality and comprehension not their age and gender.


And that doesn't even begin to cover the rest of the stress going on...Because that's part of why I posted what I posted. I am so stressed with Permanent Leave starting on the 18th, the temporary apartment hunting, the permanent house hunting, the packing for the move, the VA loan, the two job hunts happening simultaneously, the school research for me and Monkey which impacts the house hunting and job hunting in so many ways it's comical, the Dr. switching for all three of us...and doing all of this blindly because that's the way we do things in the Military. Better yet with all of our support multiple states away. I am beyond stressed. So stressed that to have someone tell me that all the work I do as a SAHM doesn't actually happen apparently, threw me over the edge. Instead of playing nice and blowing it off, I posted about it.

So yes...There is always something happening behind the scenes in peoples lives. No, I was not lying about the last post when I said it was a generational issue that needed to be fixed across the board. Yes, it had been written ages before it was posted. No, to all the lovely people who came to me graciously and asked me...it was not about you. It was about that idiotic professional at school if it's about anyone. 

The best part about all of this is that it worked as this weird sort of weeder for my life. In one fell swoop I found out who would forget everything they knew about me and focus only on the bad vs those that would give me the benefit of the doubt. Those that would jump on an invisible bandwagon and choose sides without ever stopping to find out the truth vs those that would pause and realise that while I am a lot of things, subtle has never been one of them. I found out that in the midst of this crazy busy and incredibly stressful time that is threatening to drown out my family who I can really count on, and for that I am grateful. I had prayed for help in paring down our lives and focusing on those that were best for our family and God in His weird way, answered that prayer. He used a genuinely innocent post done in anger towards a faceless man to show me the true feelings of soooo many people around me, both good and bad. With that note I am done. I am done explaining our life and my state of affairs.  You can take it or leave it as you wish. But from here on out I have decided that all laughing with my husband in the kitchen will be over things that are worth remembering. This Season in life is too precious to miss and as stressful as it is, I for one don't want to miss the other amazing ways God will show Himself.









Best Wishes, 


Jules & Hubby
























Friday, December 5, 2014

The Lost Art of the RSVP

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    In today's culture of Facebook parties, E-vites, and one touch responses to any and all invites to games, magazines, and online subscriptions we have lost something so special. We have lost respect for the RSVP. We have lost the value of what it means to say we will be somewhere and then actually follow through. It is so frustrating as a party loving type A personality to go through the hassle of anything in today's day and age just to have it fall flat because everyone around me doesn't seem to understand that a simple press of a button has huge ramifications. So let me break it down for you. 
    RSVP: répondez s'il vous plaît, In other words...Please Respond. It doesn't mean Please Say Yes. It simply says Please Respond. Use the best logical, according to your calendar so we can plan accordingly as well, response to our invitation. Annnd here's why...


1. The Food: When you say yes, the amount of food goes up. The amount of money going into the food goes up. The amount of time going into the preparation of that food gets longer. Have respect and don't waste the Hosts time, money, and energy. Respond Accordingly.

2. The Cleaning: Depending on the person and the venue the amount of cleaning that happens is directly correlated to the number of people coming or the number of new people coming. To be honest I normally stick most of my laundry in the laundry room and shut the door, scrub down the toilets and the sink in the bathroom we'll be using and call it a day. Unlesssss... it is a big fancy party then it's an all out cleaning fest for three days in which my whole family hides and cries for their toys. Show some respect for the energy spent people. If you say you'll be there. Be there. 


3. The Time Spent: For most Moms who are planning any sort of get together it takes more time than the average person solely because we  have a mess making force sucking Being following us around all day. Errands to pick up plates and decorations? 3 hours instead of 30 minutes because we get to drag a little person and 2 bags plus 3 sippy cups, a stuffed animal, and a crumbling pack of crackers up and down every aisle that is approved for not causing temper tantrums just to make it to the party aisle that doesn't include Frozen or Jake and the Neverland Pirates rather than bee lining it like normal people...and don't get me started on hanging the decorations if they are awake. That's a hazard in and of itself! Want to make cookies instead of buying them? Plan on making double because little ninja fingers will poke holes in half to claim them as "theirs" before the party starts...Favors? Have to be done during naptime and bedtimes so any sharp objects don't become WMD to the poor animals in the house if you have a little boy who thinks he's a TMNT. Think sleep is happening? It's not...Respect the time spent people. There's so much more happening behind that cute hairdo and lipgloss sheen of a smile that it will make your husband's nightmares look like unicorn and rainbow sprinkle dreams. 


4. The Money Spent: For every "Yes", the average party can cost between 5-15 dollars depending on the occasion and event. Your haphazard Yes that should have been a Maybe that actually was a No just cost that Host money. Are you reimbursing them? Probably not. Be respectful. Think through your schedule. Realise that not everyone has the money to blow and some of them do this because they love to tak
e care of people and hosting is one way of doing that. 

5. The Emotions: Do you know what it is like to deal with a heartbroken child who thinks people are coming to a playdate...and then not have them show because of last minute issues. That could have been resolved with simple adult steps in place. Like an alarm clock? Do you know what it is like to have people text you last minute because they forgot that so & so was supposed to be in town that day so they had to cancel on you instead? yet again...adult invention...a calendar. Do you know what it is like to spend weeks organizing an event just to have the 30 Yes' turn out to be 6 because everyone in Facebook land are button pushing happy people who have forgotten that on the other end of that Yes is an actual person with actual feelings?  



I do. 

I know what it is like to have too much money spent, too much food left over, no one show, people show up 3 hours late because apparently that's ok now, and a heartbroken boy who thinks no one likes him. I know what it is like to be mad at this generation for thinking all this is ok and not knowing what to tell my kid because at the end of the day...I'm right there with him. I feel just as heartbroken and rejected and lonely as he does when all my hard work and energy is so easily blown off and forgotten. What's worse is that the outcome of all this are people who are giving up on people, in my son's case - a hardening towards people at a young age because of early heartbreak that shouldn't be happening. It makes people distrustful, builds fake relationships that are online only, false hopes every time we see those numbers climb online, and ultimately it shows our true lack of respect across the board as a generation. 


I for one am tired of it. I'm tired of all the planning and hoping just for all the letdown and heartbreak because as a mom you still have to smile and act like it's ok. You have to be the bigger person and say that everything is fine when it's not. So let's try three things:
1. Check your schedules. If your busy, say No.
2. Mark your calendars and set your alarm clock. Be an adult and utilise the tools given you on your phone. Your using it to read this, use it for other things as well ;)
3. Actually show up. Be Respectful to your host and be there on time.

Hopefully it will help turn around this horrid trend of today. Good luck with your next party.






Best Wishes,

Jules & Monkey


Thursday, October 16, 2014

When Santa says you suck...

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      So I'm running around the other day desperately trying to play catch up on errands and grocery shopping and play date planning all while dragging my toddler with me, because let's face it...they go EVERYWHERE with us! Here I am fresh in the world again after recovering from strep with my hair a hot mess rockin out leggings and boots (like the mumu of our generation that they are) with my son high on the steroids they gave him for his pneumonia and laughing at everything...

I'm pretty sure we were the walking version of what every mom fears that day.

And as I'm walking around I realize through the haze of flying cereal trying to attach itself to me and my son trying to lick random strangers (yes I said lick) that I am surrounded by not one, not two, but three...count them, THREE holiday displays. 
      A Halloween Cupcake decorating display on how to throw the best playdate for your little with the creepiest chocolatey fingers in town! A Thanksgiving Tablescape display on how to wow your guests with your savvy plate setting expertise (more on that later)! Annnnnnnd Christmas! A pint sized Santa staring at me with a half off sign begging to be bought so he can hold our guests cute little scarves when they come in the door! All of this within 2 aisles of each other!!!!!!!!! I'm fresh in the world again hoping I get the right deli sliced ham through a medically induced haze and I have this shoved at me. I have a crazy kid singing "I like that booty" at the top of his lungs and Santa staring at me disapprovingly and the only thing I can think of is

 "Where's the Nutcrackers? Can they squish my head?"
My dream and nightmare every holiday season...

     No mom should feel this behind. This early in the game. Halloween isn't even here yet. I'm still

Halloween 2013 :)
carving pumpkins and painting with apples. I'm still looking for a leaf pile to throw my kid in and a way to have Fall pictures without an actual Fall season down here in good 'ol Mississippi. I don't want to think about Tablescapes. I have all next month to freak about Thanksgiving Dinner. In fact I will do just that. Not the dinner itself because I'm awesome, and you can be to thanks to my Dinner Prep Post Here, but the people around and whether they thought it was good enough. Whether they liked my plates and my house smelled sufficiently like fall and if my kid didn't try to build a sandcastle out of mashed potatoes because that seems to be a distinct possibility this year. I have allllll next month to worry needlessly about all the things that won't go wrong about Thanksgiving, so why push that on me now. On October 15, 2014 why is it necessary? WHY?!
    
This is my husband's Awesome Family for our second Thanksgiving:)

    
     And Christmas...good 'ol Christmas. Why is Santa lurking in the aisles waiting to pounce on me with that judgemental stare? Who is he to judge my guests scarves and where they go? Who is he in the middle of OCTOBER to come out of the woodwork and give me that judgey look of disapproval. If he isn't dressed as a zombie and pretending to be on the Walking Dead then I don't want him around right now. I can't handle him right now. Him and his horrible little helpers who jump out in the cooking aisles and preach about perfectly cooked hams and the tree aisle (yes, there's a tree aisle) to tell me my tree skirt is all wrong for this season and I am failing as a decorator can just go back to the North Pole until it is their turn! People, I just wanted to buy fresh deli sliced ham!
     
     Then I realized I was being told by Santa that I suck. As a Mom, a Decorator, a Wife, a Consumer, a Woman...
     and I punched him.
I punched Santa.

 I really hope it didn't scar my son and to be fair he laughed at it like everything else that day. I just couldn't take it! Here I was in the aisle turning slowly around with all these advertisements bombarding me and Santa just staring at me and I snapped. I'm sorry Santa, I really do love you. During December where you belong. Not here though and not now. I get told everyday through magazines and billboards and facebook how I can be better as a... fill in the blank...but I don't want to be told that by you. 
     
Maybe my reaction wasn't the best. In fact picking on pint sized plastic well dressed Santa's with great boots is not highly recommended. Punching things is not either. Shopping so soon after recovering from being sick is no longer either...which I only was doing to fulfill the role everyone has written for us moms. Things crash and burn when we get sick and we race around to play catch up too often too soon. Instead of asking for help and getting it, we give in to the judgements and overdo it and end up punching Santa. I know over commercialization will not end with the holidays and I will never be able to keep up or tune it out completely. I am learning to laugh at it. I am learning to go with the commercialized couponing flow and I am learning what is important to our family. I'm slowly learning to tune out the media and tune into me and my awesome family. The very same ones who eat the deli sliced ham even when its the wrong one and laugh at me when I go off on a plastic toy for being detrimentally judgemental. Hopefully somewhere in the chaos of these upcoming seasons you can come to some peace about it to. If not, there's three other Santa's in the BX who could use a good 'ol West Side Story "Dance off" if you know what I mean. ;)


 Best Wishes, 
Jules & Monkey



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DIY Advent Calender

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      I LOOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEEEE the Holidays! I love the smells, the food, the guests, the made for TV cheesy movies that my hubby laughs at me for...I love it all! I especially love that for the first time all year the whole world seems to be in sync with teaching my child about selflessness and giving and love for others. I love that there is an entire season that is dedicated to my Savior and the songs that everyone plays on the radio are about family and love and togetherness.
   The one issue I find though is that with the constant commercialization of Christmas it can be overwhelming for a toddler, for anyone really. They hear "if you're good Santa will bring you presents" or "You better behave if you want gifts!"...I don't want my son to think that Christmas is solely about what he can get. It's not about the haul he makes every year under the tree...don't get me wrong, he's spoiled every year by all the grandparents and aunts and uncles and gets more toys than I can count...but my job as his mom is to teach him to be thankful for them all because of who gave them to him, not because of what they are. Does that make sense? I firmly believe that a gas station toy truck picked up last minute is just as meaningful as a fancy electronic gizmo and should be treated with the same respect and sense of thankfulness. That doesn't happen overnight though. We instill that into our children over time with our words and actions. We model that behavior and also show them how to do so by allowing them situations to practice it. 
   When I started researching Advent Calenders I didn't find any that fit my needs financially, family wise, or time wise. I needed something that could change yearly as we grow as a family, move, or as our finances change. So I took several ideas that I liked and combined them with some of our favorite family traditions to create our Advent Calendar. I'm hoping it works for you too!
 
Not above using Grandparents to my advantage...

 


Kept him behaving for two weeks!





   Here's how it goes...

1. Start with 25 Envelopes and Cards of your liking. I personally use Kraft Brown for both because it matches our Christmas decor and wrapping but you could use whatever you want!  On the Envelopes write the Numbers 1-25. On the Cards write one thing from your list of things that you decided upon. Match your Card with your Day and put it into your Envelope. The best part is that next year you can change the order of you need to, just remember not to seal the envelope! :)

2. Decide upon your order based upon your checks, school activities, work days, family movie preferences, family visiting on certain days, etc...there's a lot going on in life. Don't let your calender be a burden. Make it work for you! Just be smart about it, obviously certain things need to be done earlier in the month than others. whereas baking cookies for Santa may need to wait a while :)

3. Some days require things to be done and therefore require supplies to do them. I start picking the supplies up as early as possible. PJ's on sale, Gingerbread house kits in October, Mini Candy Canes from the dollar tree...I scour Pinterest starting in July when I have free time for ideas that are cheap and quick but still meaningful and then make a supply list. As things pop up on sale I buy them and stash them away. Come November the Advent Calender is done. I even wrap the supplies so my toddler and hubby feel like they get a gift every day. It's cheesy but effective. It gets them hyped about family time and community service. Having everything pre-gathered makes it quick and easy as well as one less thing I have to stress about. It is also one less thing in the budget to worry about.

4. Below is our list but you can change it to fit your traditions. I promise no one will be offended :) Think of it as a kickstarter for your brain. Just try to keep a balance between family time and community thankfulness. It is about teaching your child  
Home Depot for a tree...weird I know!
Some kids are soooo dramatic about hanging lights...

1. Let's Go Christmas Tree Shopping!

2. Let's Decorate the Tree!







Ornament 2013


3. Homemade Ornaments for Grandparents


4. Write Letters to Santa
Torts are easier :)


5. Bake an Apple Pie



6. Take Cookies to Fireman

















                      7. Family Movie night ~"Charlie Brown Christmas"
Like Father, Like Son
Mason chose the colors across the board
on this. Let your kids have a say :)



8. Build A Gingerbread House
9. Family Movie Night ~"How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
10. Homemade Hot Cocoa with the Family


11. Teacher Appreciation Day












                             

PInterest is your friend!

12. Visit Veteran's Retirement Center with Mini Candy Canes
13. Pull Names and go Shopping! ($10 limit)
14. Visit Santa!






15. Daddy / Monkey time :)

Kid Crack!!!!





16.Quiet Day (no yelling, timeouts, etc...everyone on their best behavior for Santa :D)
17. Put together Present Bags for Teachers!
18. Take Presents to Teachers :)
19. Take Mini Stockings to Policeman (filled with candy of choice)
20. Clean out toys and Donate them
21. Christmas Shopping (last minute if needed)
22. Look at Christmas Lights in the neighborhood
23. Bake Cookies for Santa!
Nothing sexier than a man who bakes ;)

24. Polar Express Night!
  1. Put on your new PJ's
  2. Make your Hot Cocoa
  3. Polar Express Movie
(this is my favorite night of the whole thing! We actually take a breather before the chaos and I love the family time together.)






25. Merry Christmas!!!!

    At least that is what the kids look for right? Here is what we do...We "feed the reindeer", put the kiddo in bed, make it look like Santa was here, put the rest of the gifts together, make elf prints, clean up the house, prep for breakfast, chug about a gallon of Coffee, try not to kill all the other adults in the house as we run into each other in the process, and somewhere along the way we get great memories like these...


     Christmas is so magical when you're little and soooo much work when you're older. But with a little planning and clear goal in mind I've found that it can be a lot of fun as an adult too. Just remember that in the long run it's about family and giving and not about the gifts. Just keep it simple and family oriented and I guarantee you will have a fantastic Christmas Advent Season. Early Merry Christmas Planning Everyone!

                         
Best Wishes,
Jules & Monkey






















Friday, September 26, 2014

Presto Pesto Love

Pin It      I love this pesto! It goes with everything! I put it on sandwiches, pasta, sausage, veggies, chicken...anything really. It is the absolutely perfect pesto. After so many people have asked for the recipe I figured I would post it here. The original recipe can be found HERE on Food Network. The Sandwich King of Food Network came up with this delicious date night sandwich only a man could conjure up (and I have made it and loved it!) but the pesto he put on it was to die for! I altered it a bit for my taste and to compensate for the fact that we do not have fresh basil at our Commissary (still working on that one...) and what do you know? Perfection! 

What you need:
1 Tub of Basil Pesto (plain)
1 Head of Garlic (roasted)
2 Tbl of fresh Rosemary
1/4 C Romano Cheese
1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil


How To:


Roast your Garlic :)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Cut the end off your garlic and wrap in tinfoil. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for about thirty minutes or until smelly good and browned.


Puree your Rosemary, Cheese, and Garlic together in a food processor (or Ninja) until semi fine. Add the Pesto and some of the Olive Oil. Add more Olive Oil as needed until smooth. This Pesto is a little on the white side due to the cheese and garlic so don't worry. 


That's it. It's that easy. Now my favorite recipe for it is this.

Italian Hoagie Roll
Deli Turkey
Deli Ham
Roasted Red Peppers
Swiss Cheese
Rosemary Garlic Pesto
Mayo

Load it all up together. Wrap it in tinfoil and place on a baking sheet. Throw it in that oven that is still preheated (you know you forgot to turn that oven off with all the chaos going on Mama!) and place a heavy skillet on top. Let it stay in there for around 20 minutes. It will be a nice grilled panini when it comes out. 

Cut it in to slices, make some Lemonade, and invite some friends over for a Play Date.

Enjoy the recipes Ladies!



Best Wishes,
Jules and Monkey!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Hurt behind the Truth

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His Best Friend "Al the Moose"

    I have a rule with my son that when things happen in life that are unfair or hurtful, I tell him the truth. It's not easy but as parents it's necessary. I'm not talking is there a Santa (still believe in him) or who ate my Jelly Beans (probably me...) but why did they call me names or why don't they want to play with me questions.

The ones that punch you in the face as parent and bring out your inner Chuck Norris.

    I've spent so many moments in a church hallway, a park bench, and now tomorrow my own home, explaining to my son that there are people out there that are sometimes just mean. Sometimes they don't know any better. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they are asking honest questions about him and sometimes they are asking him to change. The one consistent thing in these talks is that my son is hurt and crying and doesn't understand why people are mean. Too be honest...neither do I.

    For those who haven't read any other posts here, My son is an amazing, strong willed, red-headed
Shout out to the Parents who have taken "that walk"...
bolt of energy that tires me out on my good days. The reality is I wouldn't change that. He got really sick when he was about 6 months old with chronic ear infections. Just one right after the other till his little drums busted...and then started over again. He has such a high pain tolerance that most of the time you wouldn't know he was sick. He was always smiling and laughing. The problem is that he wasn't hearing. We weren't able to communicate. So we taught ourselves our version of sign language based on what he was already trying to sign. As well, he was really good at reading faces and body language so that helped him understand what was going on to a degree. After he had tubes put in at 2 years old, his hearing got better, his speech therapy has helped his actual speech, but his comprehension still has some holes in it. This is where it gets complicated. People see a rambunctious 5 year old who is willfully disobedient. In reality he is a 4 year old who has trouble assessing the situations sometimes and over compensates by being crazy. Don't get me wrong...he's willfully disobedient too, but not every time like people think.
Willfully Crazy here as he "runs away"
yet again.


He's too loud because he can't hear his own volume correctly.

He's too big for his own age group.

He's too "dumb" for the older kids.

He's easily hurt by every insult thrown at him by everyone like Frankenstein, Monster, Stupid...You understanding the picture yet? Here's where I get angry though. Kids are kids. They learn as they make mistakes. Adults though? They should know better.

    I found out last night that a situation that I thought was a non-issue is actually a big issue. That two sweet friends of mine are stuck in the middle having to choose sides like it's middle school again. That apparently another girl, a mom nonetheless, will not be in the same room as me because...who knows why. Last I heard it was vaccination opinion differences but given that it has escalated this far over the course of a few months without me knowing about the seriousness till this week, who knows the reason now. What I do know is this girl putting her foot down in such a childish manner has caused our mutual friends to have separate play dates, girls night ins, you name it. It went so far that when we were invited to the same play date, one of us couldn't go.

    My sweet friend was put in the position of "uninviting" us to appease this mom. I honestly don't blame them. It's simple logistics and timing. But I do blame the mom who started this. Who couldn't come to me like an adult and talk things over when all we had was a simple difference of opinion. Because now, thanks to her actions I get to explain to my little boy tomorrow when he asks "when are we going to go see my friends?" in reference to the play date he knows is happening...that we aren't going. Not because of him. But because someone has an issue with a decision I made in regards to him. A decision I have the right to make. What's worse is that none of this will affect her. She won't be the one wiping his tears, or explaining that it's really not him this time. She will be able to get away scott free on this matter when it comes to the damage to my son. And she probably won't even realize it.

    I know there are some that are reading this and thinking, "just lie to him then". I don't do that with my son for two reasons. First, it's a commandment. Thou shalt not lie. One I'm pretty adamant about. Second, if I want my son to trust me then he has to know he can. Lying undermines trust like nothing else. The truth hurts like nothing else sometimes but it has never undermined trust. He needs to know that I will always be honest with him on these issues so in the future we have a foundation to help us through bigger issues that can have an even bigger impact on him.

    I get that we all parent differently. We are all different people with different beliefs and different backgrounds. But while I would normally be nice and wrap this up with a great little pick me up today I'm not. Today is different because today I get to be the bad guy and break my little boys heart and then try and repair it. So while we go about our parenting today can we all remember that we don't have the right to inflict our beliefs on others. We don't have the right to bully others. We certainly don't have the right to dictate to others how to raise their kids. And if we can't get that, then remember simply that your actions as adults have an impact on innocent children. 






Best Wishes,
Jules & Monkey

Friday, August 29, 2014

Packing like a Pro

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Over the river and through the woods to Crazy Town we go...you know you sang it :) Every time we take a vacation I go crazy. There is a week when I live on coffee and lists and feel like i'm always forgetting something. It's a week of planning and cleaning and packing and prepping and hair-pulling and...insert bad mommy habit here. But in the end, we have everything we need, the trip goes smoothly, and the lil' monster is happy on the car ride. Both Ways! So this time I'm sharing my lists and awesome crazy with you - so you can appear less crazy :)

To start with you will need:

  • A Pen
  • A Trip Notebook (A three ring binder with a clear insert on the front)
  • Clear page protectors (dollar tree has packs of 10 that have a 3 hole punch)
  • Blank Paper for random notes to yourself :)
I then added my Notebook cover page.

From there I use my page protectors to build our trip. Here's the order I use. You can do it differently, obviously, if you want.
  1. Trip Cover page: Destination, Dates To & From, Occasion if needed
  2. Printed Map To & From (in case there is no GPS reception)
  3. Hotel Confirmation Page
  4. Activities we are doing / Itinerary
**When the trip is over I put all the pages together in one page protector behind the Cover Page and put it in the back of the book. The next time we would like to go to that destination we have most of the info ready to go!

Next up is the car...the dreaded car. I actually take most of the responsibility for our car because I drive it the most. It is the quintessential Mom Mobile and as such I like to do most of the work with it. I keep it up to date season wise so come trip time there are a few things to do to prep it.
Normally how my car looks minus the stroller that resides in it :)
**My hanging organizer is a shoe rack from dollar tree that I cut in half and nailed in. We don't plan on selling our car. Just driving her till she dies :( The other organizer is a traditional car organizer from an Auto Store that I have had longer than I have been married...That's been with me through all 5 of my cars. You all need one. Seriously. Now. :)
  • Clean it: Take out the trash, Vacuum it, Get those random toys out. Wipe down the windows and surfaces. 
  • Restock your supplies. I keep a first aid kit, a medicine bucket, a restaurant activity kit, and extra diapers / wipes / trash bags in my car at all times. I also keep tissues packs in the doors for the random runny noses. As well, an extra outfit for oops-es since my son still has the occasional accident when he is sleeping.
  • I maintain car tools for breakdowns in my car as well. We live in Mississippi right now but I did my time in PA with a car that liked to breakdown...I learned my lesson. I always keep a few hot hands, ponchos, umbrellas, flashlight, tools, fuses, as well as the basic car jack / spare tire. 
Now when I know trips are coming up I take the toy bucket out of the car and replace the toys so they seem brand new. Best Mom trick E-vah!!! I also start in on the trip fun. Trips are tough enough with kids, but cranky kids make a trip unbearable. With a little planning any trip can fly by and be a lot of fun actually. Most of the ideas I use I got from friends, family, Pinterest, his nursery, his speech therapist, VBS...the places are endless. Just raid your home first before buying anything, and talk to everyone for great ideas!
The Trip "Kick-Off" Bag

  1. He had a bag to kick the trip off. Some old toys from a garage sale he
    The Blue Bucket holds his toys on the floor
    normally. On trips, it's within arms reach :)
    had forgotten about plus a new cowboy gun and sheriff's badge (to be the man of the house while Dad was away). Bonus: That bag was used to collect treasures along the way throughout the vacation!He had his Toy Bucket back with "new" toys.
  2. I bought a kid desk at Michael's on discount since it was a little beat up to help him with his art projects. Highly suggest these things. This one tucked neatly into the back of the chair when not in use :)
  3. He has a Kurio with lots of educational kids games and netflix (bonus!) but didn't even ask for it this time :)
  4. The Bonus Bags. Best idea ever! Brown lunch bags with random toys in it. I mark them 1- whatever (normally one for every other hour of the trip both ways) and close them up. Bring a dice and let them roll. Use these bags as bribes, incentives, lures into the restrooms...I don't care...They are awesome! I Never give Monkey the toys out of his happy meals because he's too busy playing or sleeping, so they all go into a box for later. I raid that for these bags :) When he's (fill in the blank here) I let him roll the dice and he gets the bag to match that number.
  5. The Fruit Loop "Candy" Bracelets. A snack Ziploc bag with
    Fruit Loops and a Bendy in it. They string the Fruit Loops on it then you close it up and they can wear it while they eat it :) Self Contained fun game that will last awhile, and its a snack! Two-fer!
  6. Small Cookie Sheet and Magnets. Put the Magnets in a Ziploc Bag for your own Sanity.
  7. Empty Egg Carton and colored Puffs. They can sort to they're hearts content. You can be super cool and put stickers in the bottom of the egg carton for them to match the colors to. 
  8. Extra plastic cups as well for sorting is always fun. 
  9. Coloring books with wonder color markers and stickers. Just remember to turn your  OCD off because those stickers will end up in weird places :) The endless giggles will make it worth it though.
  10. Pillow :)
    Car Pillows go a long way...and are not hard to make ladies :)
     **Get a solid Flexi-Bucket for the front seat that can hold the extra games, toys, and food within arms reach to make life easier. This is especially necessary if you are road-tripping by yourself! Otherwise get a little one that fits by your feet and when you stop, change it out! Keep them guessing or you will be miserable.
My "Blue Bucket" with extra activities, My Orange cooler tote with
snacks / drinks, and my new yellow Life Bag with my Trip Notebook :)

Plan your food. Its easy to pack breakfast and lunch. Freeze some water bottles as ice packs and throw some fresh fruit and bagels in a cooler. I always bring some PB&J and deli meat / cheese as well as an unopened juice bottle for Monkey. As well, pack some snack packs of your favorite things and keep it handy. I gave Monkey his own Snack container (old Baby Wipes container) that he could choose things from. A little freedom can go a long way in making kids happy. And don't forget to bring some for the ride home :)

Suitcases! the bane of my existence...Its been too long since we have been on a plane so this is in no way how to pack according to weight restrictions. This is how to pack with kids. Period. I use my trusty Packing List - Toddler. Altered from the original Packing List - Baby. I throw everything in the suitcase as it is washed so it doesn't get worn and then two days before the trip I lay everything on the bed and match up the outfits, fill in the blanks on the lists, and stuff the suitcases. My hubby and I share one suitcase and our son has one. That leaves a cooler, tech bag, life bag, pack~n~play, and stroller to pack. Remember I have a permanent diaper bag with a change of clothes in the car :) 

     My son's suitcase is packed a little differently than ours. I put his outfits together (underwear and socks included) and put them in gallon Ziploc bags. Push the air out when you seal them and they lay really flat. They also double as dirty laundry bags so if there is an accident you don't have to worry about the smell or mess in the suitcase. Bonus, your kid can get dressed themselves without your fear of not matching. If you need certain outfits for certain days, just number the bags to match the days in your vacation. His blankets, noise machine, diapers, etc...all go in his bag so I pack his carefully.

I always clean my house before leaving for vacation. It's why I stress so much. The timing is so close together that I feel like I'm sleep deprived going in. However, I hate coming home relaxed to a huge mess and more work. I change the sheets, clean the bathrooms, do all the laundry, and run the dishes as i'm walking out the door. Don't leave laundry in the washer or dishes in the sink as that will cause a huge smell and no one likes a smelly home fresh from vacation. I also throw some powder down on the carpet and vacuum the day before so everything smells amazing and feels amazing. We always leave really early in the morning so we leave the house beautiful :) I love it but it does take some work. 
Our Lt. Logan going to the Dog Sitter! If you take your animals in the car, get them proper restraints. We were going five houses down, but he is normally in a harness with his car leash :)
If you have animals, please take some time to find the best place for them. They are family and deserve to be treated as such. We now have 2 dogs, 1 cat (who thinks she's a god), and a turtle. The turtle is the easiest out of them all :) We have to board the dogs and find someone to come once a day to the house for the other two. I print out Caretaker Lists for anyone who has our animals to help. I included them to give you an idea of what to include. At the top I also try to write who they are going to and the dates we are going to be gone. 
After Animals, Before Children...

That trash bucket is a permanent feature and I love it!

We have a Bear Rug that my Son takes everywhere right now :)
Freaking people out on the highway was fun though...

Trips are time consuming and difficult but with a little planning and work they can be a lot of fun and definitely easier than we anticipate. Keep everything for your trip in your binder. In the long run, the best thing to remember is that the trip is not about the destination, it's about the journey. It's about those adorable little people in the back seat taking that journey with you. It may not be like that vacation you used to have where you packed a duffle bag and hit the road for the beach and sipped margaritas but this time is so much better. You get to be a pirate and a cowgirl and a princess all in one day. You will be told "you're the best" a hundred times over a simple candy bracelet. You will get to see about twenty different restrooms and suddenly appreciate yours so much more :) You will be exhausted and beat down and smell like cleaning solutions and yet there will still be a precious little person who wants to climb into bed with you and snuggle when you get to your destination. Because, let's face it, we're parents. We're Moms. Our destination is our children. and it's the best destination in the world.





Best Wishes,
Jules & Monkey