Redeeming Halloween: Losing the Scary – Keeping the Fun

I must confess up front that I’ve long had a bit of difficulty loving Halloween.

There are a lot of things about this particular holiday that stress me out, from the gigantic bags full of candy that my children do not need, to the crazy scary costumes and decorations that people put up in their yards. I’m baffled by beautiful homes that are transformed into makeshift graveyards. A palm tree is a gorgeous piece of landscaping, so it confuses me when I see a bloody head hanging from the branches come October 1.

And don’t even get me started on the house in our neighborhood that hangs the scariest looking zombie man over their front door, and sets two bloodied zombie mannequins in the front yard, which they light every night throughout October with strobe lights while evil laughter cackles through a speaker.

These are things I just don’t understand.

 

redeeminghalloween

There are, however, things that I love about Halloween. The official kick off of fall is the first thing. While we don’t get much of the crisp air here in Florida, we do get a reprieve in the weather. Plus, PUMPKIN EVERYTHING!

Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin scented candles, actual pumpkins. Even the Florida heat cannot put a damper on my love of all things pumpkin.

Also, I do love dressing up my children in cute little costumes. No zombie brides for us, thankyouverymuch, but a Punk Rock Gymnast and last minute, homemade Duck Dynasty costumes? Yes, please!

A few years ago, I set out on a quest to understand more about the history behind Halloween. How did the scary-evil get started, and why? I stumbled across a resource that has since become my source of rescue. It is a book title Redeeming Halloween, and was put out by Focus on the Family as a way to educate families on the history of this holiday, and offer tips on ways to enjoy it without diving too much into the darkness.

First, it’s significant to remember the origins of Halloween in order to best understand why we celebrate it in the first place. In A.D. 741, All Hallows, or All Saints Day, was moved on the calendar from May 13 to November 1. The night before All Saints Day was given the reverent title of “All Hallow’ een,” or “the eve of the holy ones.”

It was a time to remember those who had been martyred for the Christian faith. It was a holy time of honor and remembrance. So…what changed?

The stories on the origins of trick or treating are varied, but the most popular historical account traces this practice back to the mid-1800’s when a large population of Irish immigrants who had come to America brought their practice of “mumming” or “masquerading” to the streets of the U.S. Sometimes referred to as “mischief night,” many young people roamed the towns in costume pulling generally harmless pranks, and offering up short plays in exchange for food or drinks.

By the 1920’s this practice grew more harmful, with the pranks becoming more vandalizing and destructive. In an effort to curb this unwanted practice, several neighborhoods and organizations began organizing a night in which “good” children were encouraged to dress up in costume and visit shops and homes to receive treats. At each place they stopped, these children would yell “trick or treat,” and thus a uniquely American tradition was born. To keep uniformity, it was given a place on the calendar.

October 31. All Hallow ‘een.

Halloween.

Of course, there were other pagan practices that infiltrated what was meant to be a holy holiday, but knowing that the roots of this holiday were meant to be more innocent than evil allows me to better guide my children in enjoying it.

One of the ways we do this is by keeping our costumes fun and innocent. I don’t really want to see my children dressed up as bloodied dead people. It creeps me out.

Generally we also try avoid the really scary houses, because I enjoy sleeping and prefer not to be awoken by nightmarish children for a month following what is supposed to be a fun night.

We laugh a lot as a family, enjoy a time of celebration with our neighbors, and eat too much candy. The next morning, we ration the candy out for a couple of weeks. My children don’t ever eat all the candy they receive because our dental bill is high enough already, so after two weeks of enjoying two small pieces a day, we donate the rest of the candy to ministries or dental offices who offer to ship it to our soldiers overseas.

Halloween still isn’t my favorite holiday, but we’ve made enough modifications to how we celebrate that I’ve come to enjoy the event over the years rather than dread it. The worst part, now, is getting them to decide on a costume before the big day rolls around.

How do you celebrate Halloween? Do you have a problem with the dark nature of this holiday? How do you help your young children enjoy the holiday without scaring them half to death?

The Most Delicious Glazed Pumpkin Muffins

Hi everyone!  Kasey from All Things Mamma here!  I’m back this month with another yummy recipe that you’re sure to love!  Last month I shared my recipe for The Very Best (And Healthiest) Cinnamon Sugar Breakfast Muffins that our family loves!  This month I’m sharing another favorite muffin recipe that isn’t quite as healthy but IS one I know you will love. Sometimes you have to add a little white flour because it simply makes life better.  At least when it comes to baked goods!  haha!

Glazed Pumpkin Muffins are the perfect treat!

These Glazed Pumpkin Muffins are easy to make, don’t require a mixer, and have great flavor!

Glazed Pumpkin Muffins

Just grab a couple of mixing bowls, mix your dry ingredients in one, wet ingredients in the other and then combine.  It even helps to NOT mix them too much by hand. If you over-mix, your muffins will come out too dense and hard. That’s not a good thing.

Glazed Pumpkin Muffins

You could eat the muffins just like this – right out of the oven and slathered with a little butter. But, if you want to kick them up a notch, whip up a simple powdered sugar glaze to drizzle over the top.  My kids LOVE them this way. It almost turns them into a cupcakes and who doesn’t love a cupcake? I know my kids certainly do.

Glazed Pumpkin Muffins

Either way – they’re going to be delicious.  Bake up a little Fall goodness today with these Glazed Pumpkin Muffins. I promise your family will thank you!

Glazed Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs pumpkin spice
  • GLAZE
  • I cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, salt, sugar, pumpkin spice and baking soda.
  2. Mix the pumpkin, melted butter, eggs and oil together.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until just incorporated. Do not overmix.
  4. Spoon mixture into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it's done.
  5. Cool on a rack before glazing
  6. Mix powdered sugar and milk together - whisking until smooth
  7. Can add more milk if needed to get the consistency you'd like to drizzle on muffins
http://www.extraordinarymommy.com/extraordinary-food/the-most-delicious-glazed-pumpkin-muffins/

Welcoming Baby: Tips for a Smooth Transition

eMom“Who do you like better, her or me?”

He looked up at me over the tiny nose all dotted with freckles as he gripped his new baby sister tightly in his arms. He’s six and a half, so he’s old enough to not be plagued by jealousy over the baby. His place in our family as the funny third born is solid and firm, but I could still see this sparkle of a need as he looked to me for reassurance.

You still like me too, right?

On September 22, we welcomed home our fourth child. She was the surprise baby that we didn’t really expect, but who was so perfectly meant to be a part of our family. Our other three children are older. At 6, 8 and 11, they don’t need as much physical reassurance than younger children might need when bringing home a new baby, but there are still adjustments that need to be made.

I hugged my six year old, the boy who’s been begging us to make him a big brother for years, and I told him that no one could ever take his special place in my heart. He smiled and leaned forward to plant yet another kiss on “his baby’s” forehead. That’s all he needed to hear. He just needed it to be voiced out loud.

As we make this transition from family of five to family of six, I’ve made a conscious effort to include the bigger kids in the transition. Here are a few measures we’ve set in place to make sure the transition goes over as smoothly as possible.

1.) Don’t place too high of expectations on the older children.

Life gets significantly busier when you bring home a new baby. It’s easy to suddenly expect the older children to carry more weight than they’re used to around the house, but that doesn’t make it fair.

My kids aren’t used to being quiet, so I am working to offer grace when they come screaming through the house. I haven’t reacted perfectly every time, but I’m getting there. This has been an especially difficult adjustment for my eleven-year-old, because in case you weren’t aware, eleven-year-old boys are loud. It’s just in their nature to be so.

Learning to be quiet isn’t an easy skill, but he’s trying, and I’m working on my patience when he forgets.

2.) Don’t be disappointed when the newness and excitement of the new baby wears off.

Last night, my eight-year-old informed me that she thought babies were annoying. This was after she endured her sister wailing and fussing for much of the evening, as babies are prone to do.

I gave her a little smile and reassured her that it wouldn’t be this much work forever. But yes, newborns take a certain amount of patience, and I cannot expect an eight-year-old to possess that much understanding. Grace is needed, as is a place for the bigger kids to escape to when the fussy baby becomes too much.

3.) Don’t sweat the small stuff.

With my first-born, I was super vigilant to keep things clean and quiet, and I minimized his exposure to germs at every opportunity.

I don’t have it in me to maintain that level of watch at this point. I did institute the rule that they can’t stick their fingers in her mouth if they haven’t washed them first (they think it’s hilarious when she sucks on their fingers), and that no one but the baby is allowed to suck on the pacifier. (Seriously – I had to make that a rule.)

Other than that, however, I’ve had to relax a bit when the bigs interact with their sister. This is new for everyone. It’s exciting and hard, and it is a huge adjustment. In a few weeks, though, when the haze of these early days finally wears off and we settle back into a routine, I pray that we’ll be stronger as a unit, and that resentment won’t leave any lasting marks on little hearts.

I also pray that the eleven-year-old figures out what an “inside voice” sounds like.

Have any of you welcomed home a new baby with older children in the home? How did you make the transition a smooth one for your older children? 

The Blossoming of Self Esteem: The Minutes, The Months, The Years

Self esteem is a tricky one, friends. I speak not only from experience, but from watching it grow and wane in my ten year old daughter. One day she is on top of the world the very next she lost in the waves of pre-teen anxiety. I wish I could help her to understand that self-esteem is much like a coat we eventually grow in to….at first the sleeves are too long, the buttons feel mis-matched, the bottom trails past our knees, but as we experience life, we learn to look in the mirror, embrace the freckles for the beauty they are, understand that our smile is a reflection of the joy we feel INSIDE, that our hair will figure itself out and those glasses may end up being our favorite accessory.

I look at pictures of  myself from 7th grade.

Danielle 7th Grade

And from 8th grade.

Danielle 8th Grade

And the heartbreaking commentary the younger me has written on the back.

Danielle 8th grade 2

Even now I am clear on the awkwardness felt by this girl. I remember how she felt when she first saw this picture and she realized how others really saw her – the big hair and cheeks, the freckles – oh the freckles…. and yes, that mouth full of braces. (I won’t even touch what I’m wearing)  I know how long it took for this girl to out grow the see-saw ride that is self esteem.

So long that in going through all of the photographs from the 8th grade graduation celebration at the beach I noticed something was missing: Her.

Me.

Danielle 8th Grade Beach Party

I remember so well how I hid from the camera, how I wanted to hide my smile – one imperfect for so many reasons. All I could find were my friends laughing and smiling – clearly enjoying themselves. The memories of that day, of dodging pictures, of keeping my mouth closed – I remember them well. A lack of self esteem can run deep.

I know the girl in these picture above sometimes still feels like she is growing out of it….especially as she watches her own small girl work through the same growing pains. But I’m continuously amazed by how GOOD Delaney is at embracing everything about her that makes her both beautiful and different – including those extraordinary freckles and the glasses she has just started to wear.

Delaney Mom FrecklesBeing a mother has helped me to embrace the beauty of individuality, to value my own self-esteem, to smile bigger than I ever have in my life and to witness a strength of character that I didn’t know could exist in a child so young. I would love to tell you that I deserve the full credit for that, but the truth is this child has developed a sense of self all her own. As with all girls her age, there are moments of weakness, moments she questions herself, worries that she isn’t good enough, but I’m here to remind her of her innate goodness, to help her to lead with her heart and to trust in those freckles…for within each one is the beauty of her. And while she won’t recognize it every moment of every day, I hope the days she DOES are greater in number than those she doesn’t.

For me, the tipping point was my smile. I spent more than two years in braces (see again the pictures above) and in a neck gear. But once it was all over, being able to smile with straight teeth (and without metal) was the beginning of a more confident me. It is amazing how much power resides in a smile. Amazingly now, that two year waiting period doesn’t have to be – as companies like Invisalign exist….allowing teens (and others) to begin to feel confident in the changes in their teeth from Day 1 as the virtually invisible (and removable!) clear aligners begin to work without being visible to everyone around you.

If you or anyone in your family has ever considered using Invisalign – even now as an adult – they have this wonderful Smile Assessment that will help you to understand if you might be a good candidate. Or if you already think you are a good candidate, you can find an Invisalign Doctor near you.

Because Invisalign is so committed to Self-Esteem, they are hosting the Invisalign Countdown to Confidence Daily Instant Win Sweepstakes everyday until November 1st. Invisalign is awarding one winner $100 each day plus a chance to win the grand prize: free Invisalign treatment and $1,000! Enter here. (The Sweepstakes ends 11/1/14)

What makes you feel most confident? Your smile? Your favorite outfit? A good hair day? Inner confidence? The best compliment from your kids? I’d love to know.

Disclosure: I’m happy to have partnered with Invisalign to share this post with you. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Best Bath Products (Make A Home Spa, You Deserve It!)

best-bath-products

You deserve a nightly spa treatment

The most decadent and important thing that I do for myself is take a long, luxurious bath most nights. Blessed with a full life with three children, a heavy work schedule, packed days and frenetic early evenings carting the kids to activities, my nightly bath keeps me sane.

I have spent years, years I tell you!, nursing babies, cajoling toddlers and pleading with preschoolers to go to sleep. However now all three kids are so wiped out after their own busy days, by eight or nine o’clock the night is mine.

My bath has become my new nightcap.

Baths are healthy

The benefits of a great bath are wide and wonderful. A bath before bed promotes better sleep, especially when combined with a break from electronic devices. The warm water relaxes your muscles, soothing them after stresses both physical and psychological. Combine your bath with a hot cup of herbal tea and a good book, and you have created a haven in the midst of your crazy world.

With the children back in school and carpools, PTA meetings and sports practices in full swing, you totally deserve that haven.

Great product picks

A hot bath is one of the few luxuries in life that is still completely free. However, it is easy and uber affordable to up your bath’s home spa factor with a few reasonable add-ons. Here are my favorites.

Calgon Lavender Vanilla Bubble Bath $3.50 - Now I finally really “get” those old school “Calgon, take me away commercials.” This is the most sudsy, sweet smelling and reasonable bubble bath I have ever used. The lavender vanilla fragrance is so calming.

CVS Essence of Beauty Eucalyptus with Mint Oil Foaming Bath Soak $10 - This combination of sea salts and essential oils of eucalyptus and mint is a two-fer of aromatherapy and softening of your skin.

CVS Epsom Salt $5 - This massive bag of epsom salt is so cheap but so helpful to the bod. The magnesium sulfate helps sooth sore muscles, eliminate toxins, reduces bloating plus so many more health benefits. Excess stress and adrenaline are believed to drain our bodies of magnesium, a natural stress reliever, and epsom salts help replete our stores.

Aura Cacia Essential Oil $10-20 per .25 oz – After dumping in a cup of epsom salts, add some drops of your favorite soothing essential oil. Right now I’m into frankincense…yes, as in the Wise Men. It has a incense-y, earthy smell I find relaxing.

LUSH Bath Bombs $5-6 - If you have seen the LUSH stores in your local mall, you know that it looks like a candy store. These big globes of foaming bath salts and fragrant oils are candy treats for your skin. Many of them turn your bath water to fun colors and they are so much fun to watch fizz and pop. You will emerge from your bath feeling decadent and perfumed.

Now what are you waiting for? Start those faucets!

Go Easy, Go Fun – Late Night and Mid-Day Snacks My Family Loves: Think Cereal

I have spent the past two weeks trying to get my husband’s attention. Unless I’m wearing red and reciting stats for the St. Louis Cardinals, I’m pretty much out of luck. He wandered in to my office the other day to tell me he had just been listening to national broadcast announcers talk about the Cardinals win over the Los Angeles Dodgers and he may or may not have been tearing up, “I just feel so proud…it is like they are talking about a member of my family .”

Yes, you are correct if at this moment you are thinking my husband’s love of not only the game of baseball in general, but in particular his love of the Redbirds is extreme, but I’m here to tell you, it is real. So, when we aren’t at the Playoff games, we are parked on the couch watching. Not talking, but watching. When he is especially nervous, Jeff is holding his bat, pacing the room, or snacking to keep himself focused.

Kelloggs Late Night Snacks - Cereal is a favorite.

His late night snack of choice has always been cereal. Now, unlike the average bear, Jeff may have a few bowls, but now that Kellogg’s has introduced us to a few of their late night cravings cereals – ones that are ideal for that ‘beyond-breakfast-bowl-of-cereal’ – like Krave Chocolate and his absolute hands-down favorite Special K Chocolate Almond – I have a truly difficult time keeping it stocked in the house. ESPECIALLY DURING ST. LOUIS CARDINALS’ PLAYOFFS.

And, true to the phrase, like-father-like-son, the small dude has taken to finishing his dinner, having a little dessert, but saving all of his extra tummy room for his favorite snack – cereal. Now, Coop prefers Frosted Flakes or Fruit Loops...clearly he’s a child after my own heart. Also note: when I’m nervous, I also eat. Lots of late night snacking in our future this baseball-filled week.

Kelloggs Cereal Snacktime - Cereal - not just for breakfast anymore - delicious snack options.

But in our house, cereal snacking is not reserved strictly for evening when we are avoiding treats. My small people also love having cereal as a snack for school and after school and we’ve found a way to make a few ‘mixes’ that combine a few of their favorite flavors (and even better – THEY do it!) Just watch!

Easily my favorite part of that video is how many times they sneak bits of cereal while we filmed….but then again, I’m biased. How does cereal fit in to your life? Have you considered enjoying it beyond breakfast? We’ve definitely been creative in the way we make it a nutritious, filling option for us in the morning – you can see the many ways we do that here…. but I’d love to know how you incorporate it for snack time (and desserts!) too.

Disclosure: I am proud to have a long time working relationship with Kellogg’s and am always excited to share my own thoughts and opinions with you. Naturally, everything I share with you is my my very own opinion.

 

 

Tips for Blending an Intercultural, Interracial Family

Okay, I love this topic. I know that it can be a bit taboo in parts of the world, which is bizarre to me, but I think it’s amazing. I think blended families are so beautiful.

Now, this post isn’t just for blended families. I do think  even if you are the same race and culture your family traditions might be completely different and then all of these things would still apply to you. In the end, marriage is two different people coming together to act as one…. both bringing the good and the bad with them. It’s tough!

My husband was born and raised in The Bahamas and I was born and raised in a small city in southern California. He is black, I’m white. Thankfully, English is both our native tongue, but other that that, not much of our up-bringing was similar.

In The Bahamas, parents are the end-all authority. When they say jump, you better be jumping before they finish speaking! In America, let’s just say kids have more wiggle room. Now blend those two things together as parents. He’s always too hard (in my opinion) and I’m always too soft (in his opinion).

However, he’s learning from my perspective that kids are people too and need to be heard and understood. I am learning that I am the authority and my kids need to listen to me and respect me. He’s still the strict one and I’m still the softy, but we are blending into a lovely version of parenting that is just *us*.

Our first year of marriage was probably the hardest year of my life. We fought, we yelled, we argued, and not nicely either. We had no idea how to live together as people, let alone with understanding of the other’s culture. However, we were committed to working it out and eventually we fought through. Along the way (we’re going into our 8th year of marriage now), I’ve picked up some tips on intercultural/interracial marriages. Here are my thoughts:

Tips for Blending an Intercultural/Interracial Family

tips for blended families

Be Willing to Learn

I am not black and I wasn’t raised in The Bahamas. There is no way I can ever be in my husband’s shoes. They stay up late and and we get up early. There are plenty of things about their culture I just won’t get. Listen. Ask questions. Lean in. Want to learn about the culture and lifestyle that your significant other came from. He needs to know that you care. And you really should care, it’s a part of you now too.

Be Understanding

They do Christmas differently. They might not even celebrate Thanksgiving. They threw rotten eggs at people passing by for Halloween. (We won’t name names…) Birthday went uncelebrated. It’s weird, right? Nope. That is the way they were brought up! It’s not weird to them. It might be weird to them that you make a huge deal out of your kids 1st birthday that they’ll never remember. No culture is better than the other and every one has good and bad. Just because it’s different doesn’t make it wrong. Instead of labeling it, be understanding of it and learn from it!

It’s okay that you don’t understand

You just won’t. You didn’t grow up in his (or her) home, with their parents, under their roof. You truly don’t know what it’s like. That’s okay.  You can be willing to learn and sometimes still not understand. Occasionally, my husband will try to explain a tradition to me, and I will simply have to take his word for it.

Be prepared

For the questions, comments, struggles, situations. This is especially true if you have children and they are a mixed race. My kids are very aware that they are often the only ‘brown’ kids. The kids see that they’re different. They talk about their color before we can even mention it. Not always negatively, but they are aware. Be prepared to talk to them about it and be united as parents. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

Make an effort

You’re not right in doing things your way because “that’s how it’s done.” And they’re not right doing it their way because it’s all they’ve known. When you’re blending two cultures you have to understand what you’re bringing to the table. What might seem like a normal tradition to you, may be foreign to your significant other. It’s okay! Be open to new things and make an effort to integrate these things into your life together.

My family grew up camping. I love it. Our kids love it. My parents love it. My husband hates it….with a passion. However, he still sucks it up and goes with us. We’ve made accommodations for him to make him more comfortable and he just shows up. It’s our compromise!

Blend it!

That’s just what you are…BLENDED! When I asked my husband for his take on this post he said “pull both cultures together to create your own unique culture.” What? This man was spitting wisdom tonight, ya’ll, he could have written this post himself. He probably just wanted me to stop bugging him so he could watch basketball, but we got some great advice out of it! This pretty much goes for every family, but throw what you’re “supposed” to do right out the window. Forget what is viewed as normal. Don’t look at the Joneses because they’re broke and unhappy. Just huddle together and create your own unique, beautiful culture and run with it!

I would love to hear from all of you! Did you come from a blended family? Can you relate to any of these? Leave a comment with some of your tips, I’m sure they’d be useful for everyone!

Connecting Fire Safety and Learning at SparkySchoolHouse.org

I can still remember the first time my small dude came home from school having learned about fire safety at school. He came home with the phrase ‘stop, drop and roll’ firmly implanted in his mind, he checked both floors of our home for smoke detectors (and made me prove they were working), requested our family sit down after dinner to create an exit plan in the event of an emergency and even wanted to discuss purchasing ladders for his room and his sister’s.

Much like the first time Fire Safety was discussed, it is coming up again, but this time, I made sure we were talking about it at home first, in advance of this week’s Fire Safety Week. I realize it is one of those topics that doesn’t come up every night at dinner, but it should be something families talk about. So, when I was asked to take a look at the new app from sparkyschoolhouse.org, I loved this idea – this was the perfect opportunity for us to open the conversation again and for the kids to have an active role.

Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms App: Fire Safety- ExtraordinaryMommy.com

The app makes it a priority to combine fun activities with education so that kids can learn what is important about fire safety without feeling as though they are being lectured.

Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms App: Fire Safety- ExtraordinaryMommy.com

Here’s what you need to know:

The app, from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) can be downloaded on your phone, iPad or tablet (apple or android).

Beautifully done, the app, officially called, Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms (clever!) allows you to navigate to different options from the the home page.

Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms App: Fire Safety- ExtraordinaryMommy.com

The first portion that intrigued Cooper was the story – you can read along – each word is highlighted in green as you go….your choice to have the audio on or off. This means your child can do the reading or can be read TO by the app.

Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms App: Fire Safety- ExtraordinaryMommy.com

Another option – which Coop also LOVED was an interactive game: he was helping Sparky collect fire alarms and batteries around town.

Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms App: Fire Safety- ExtraordinaryMommy.com

When Cooper was done playing and reading, we continued to explore,  finding printables that would allow he and I to keep learning….from math and word problems to options for teachers in the classroom.  I love that the NFPA has continued, for as long as I can remember, to make the subject of Fire Safety – one that isn’t scary for kids, but rather, a subject that they can talk to parents and firefighters about. Sparky was around when I was a kid too, and I suspect he’ll be a character my kids will be talking about with my grandkids someday.

Have you tried the app? I’d love to know what you think.

 

Managing the Home Chaos

I can clearly remember what I imagined parenting would look like long before I had children: the playing, the fixing of dinner, the balance of happy helping with homework with the work I would be doing.

I can also clearly hear the brakes screeching when I picture the disparity between that candy-apple version of life and the reality I live.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my small people – they are dynamite. But I definitely didn’t accurately depict the chaos that comes with living with, and loving two incredibly active kids. Somehow I missed that they drop their backpacks as they walk in the door, they throw their socks to opposite corners of the family room, they need to be constantly reminded to stay in their seats as they do their homework, eat their meals or well, do ANYTHING.

Kids JimmyDean

As you likely know, they play a plethora of sports and LOVE IT, which means we are constantly running from one activity to the next and are required to stay on track if they are going to get homework done or we are going to eat a meal as a family.

This means I need to have a way to manage the chaos – lest I lose my mind (and don’t think I haven’t had moments…)

This week, over on SheKnows Experts, I’m talking about some of my favorite tips for keeping my sanity, keeping those small people on track and managing the chaos… I’d love for you to visit me there and add your best tips.

Let me know what you think.

Breaking Parenting Rules: Making Memories Instead

I doubt that Cooper and Delaney remember attending their first St. Louis Cardinals games as they were just months old at the time, dressed head-to-toe in the appropriate Cards baby fan gear, but they’ve been going since they could hold their heads up, often strapped to my chest. Jeff and I carted Delaney around to so many places during her first game, surrounding her by so many sights and sounds, we, as new parents, spent an entire irrational afternoon fearing we had damaged her hearing just by having her out among loud cheering crowds.

Delaney 3 months 022

I’m a Cardinals fan by osmosis. My husband is a generational fan, having been given the love from his father and grandfather. He was required to recite the inscription on Stan Musial’s statue before he was allowed to enter Busch Stadium when he was three years old…. we’re just going to go ahead and say his family is serious about the game of baseball in general and St. Louis Cardinal Baseball specifically.

And Jeff and his family have passed that love down to my small people.

So, it isn’t unusual for us to go to games during the regular season.

Cooper Favs (7)

And it isn’t unusual, (though some might call it…..ummm…passionate?) to see our family room mantle turn in to a shrine come October – and stay that way throughout the playoffs.

St Louis Cardinals Shrine 2014

And it isn’t a surprise to see my husband and son assume their positions in front of the TV, sticking with their superstitions to help their team win.

CardsCoopDadSuperstition

And it isn’t unusual for us to make every attempt to make it to a playoff game if we can – we went as a family last year and were there for a clinching game – AMAZING.

Cards Clinch 2013

So….it wasn’t a surprise to me when Jeff bought tickets early to the playoffs this year to make sure we could all go. But you never know when the game time will be.

And based on wins and losses for other series, the time for last night’s game was set to START at 8pm. 30 minutes before my small people typically head to bed. We debated and debated – good idea to take the kids all the way downtown on a school night for a game that clearly wouldn’t end until after 11pm – or much later – meaning we wouldn’t get home until maybe 1am? All I could think was we were either Parents of the Year or absolutely crazy.

Cardinals Playoff Family

Would it be too cold?

Would they be exhausted at school the next day?

What if *gasp* we lost?

As crazy luck would have it, a week after buying our tickets, Jeff bought tickets for his parents and they ended up being DIRECTLY behind us.

Cardinals Playoffs MaMaPaPa

With one extra ticket, we were able to take one of Cooper’s friends. Seven of us, all together – opted to stay out late, opted for the experience – even knowing we would be tired.

CardsPlayoffsKids

We stood most of the game, we laughed, we cheered, we jumped up and down and we WON!

Cards Playoffs Group

Yes, we sat in the parking garage for 45 minutes, but the kids slept through it all. Yes, we didn’t get home until 1am, but…..the memories.

I have three small people who told me it was the ABSOLUTE best night.

Cardinals Playoffs Kids Win

Sometimes breaking all of the parenting rules in the name of making memories is the right decision.