Do you want to join me?

Lost ToothHaddie lost a tooth today. Technically I pulled it and then I cried.

I don’t remember my mom crying when I lost teeth, but I just couldn’t help myself. Before I knew it my eyes, stinging, filled with salty water and spilled over. I remember carrying her pink and toothless into our snug little apartment just seven short years ago. I remember cheering the day her first tooth popped through.

“Look, can you see it, daddy? If you don’t see it, you certainly can feel it if you rub your finger along her gums.” We were two proud parents. I think it was those precious, wonderful years that the tooth symbolized for me that turned the waterworks on today.

It goes fast, yes? You blink and that tubby baby is a gangly school kid. She’s reading, she’s adding and subtracting, she’s riding her bike like a pro, and she is losing her baby teeth one-by-one. And while the years are short, the days can seem long. Some days it feels like feet go round and it is all you can do to serve three square meals and you long for the peace and quiet that comes when house and inhabitants are asleep.

Then here I stood tears sliding down my cheek, back turned, remembering all the joy this sweet girl with this missing tooth has brought our home. And quickly doing the math – “in 7 more years she would be 14 and oh my, that was terribly close to college-aged” – realizing what this meant, considering how the first 7 just sped by. It didn’t help with the tears.

Haddie was curious why mommy was crying. I hadn’t been so good at hiding the evidence, apparently. Even with my back turned. “I love you Haddie and I am so, so glad to be your mommy. These are happy tears,” was offered. A gapey grin and the words, “I love you too mom,” were my reward. Bliss.

It’s moments like these that remind us what Continue reading

Mom, always be who you are

Mom always be who you are

Mom and childYou are unique, one-of-a kind. You were hand-selected to love and care for your children.

Mom, always be who you are.

Even on your difficult days, you are more than enough. Allowing your children to watch 20 more minutes of TV, having to say you are sorry because you were short, and serving cereal for dinner, doesn’t make you a failure.

The fact that you are there, that you are trying. The fact that you care enough to worry, says that you are a great mom. The fact that you are able to say that you are sorry when you are wrong is better than never being wrong.

Your love and support and care is the water that is nourishing your children and helping them grow – helping them flourish. You are more important to them than you or they will ever know.

Mom, always be who you are.

There are days when you wonder how you will put one foot in front of the other. You wonder if your struggle at life will somehow mess your kids up. You wonder if perhaps they will grow up and not like you.

Instead, wonder at how many beautiful experiences you have shared. Wonder at all the laughs and giggles, all the cuddles and kisses. Wonder at all that you have been able to do right.

The person you are – your love and compassion, your strength and fortitude, your gifts and talents – is shaping your children’s lives. Never forget that.

Mom, always be who you are.

When the days are long and memories are short and you ponder why you do what you do, know that Continue reading

22 ways to enjoy vacation with small kids even more

Child eating a donut

Martha's Vineyard with small kidsLet’s face it, once you have children, vacation changes drastically. What was a time of couple fun and relaxation in years gone by, can become hectic and challenging with the addition of little people whose schedule has been thrown out the window.

We by no means have vacation with kids completely figured out (our oldest is 7 and we only have 2, after all), but there are some things that we have done over the last couple years that have made family vacations much more memorable and enjoyable. I thought I would share. Of course, every family is unique and what works for one may not work for the other. Feel free to pick and choose!

Leave plenty of wiggle-room in the schedule. 

We have found that allowing some room in the schedule with kids is a must. Trying to squeeze in too many activities or not having time to just rest makes for a less happy group. Let’s face it, things just take longer when you have kids. Embrace the slower schedule and it will be a blessing.

Plan a picnic at a memorable location. 

We did this for the first time during our recent trip to Martha’s Vineyard and it was so much fun. We packed a picnic lunch and took it to a lighthouse. It was refreshing to eat in the beautiful outdoors while taking in a scenic historic location. Afterwards Brance and I chatted while the girls ran around on the lawn. This simple picnic ended up being one of the highlights from our trip!

Martha's Vineyard CliffsScale back activities. 

Don’t omit activities like a hiking, museums, sight-seeing etc. all together. Just make them kid-friendly. You might not be able to hike for miles or spend hours exploring ancient ruins or wandering through a museum, but you can still enjoy those activities as a family in a different way. Since we aren’t likely to make it very far on a hike, we love to observe birds, plants, and animals, something we often missed before kids. There are advantages to slowing down.

Keep plenty of snacks and water on hand. 

It never fails that one of my kids is hungry between meals. Rather than spending your time looking for snacks or eating meals before the rest of the group is ready, having snacks on hand is a life-saver. We often think of snacks being just for kids, but we grownups benefit as well. Especially if we have healthy snack options that keep us from buying yet another ice-cream cone. Water goes without saying.

Include the kids in some of the decision-making. 

Our kids’ eyes light up any time we give them several options for the next activity or restaurant. Kids enjoy their vacation more and are more pleasant if they have a voice. Letting them choose some of the activities will make the vacation more fun for everyone. In fact, my daughter told me this was, by far, my best tip ;).

Spell each other. 

If hiring help is not an option for you or something you are interested in, giving each other time off is wonderful. For us it is a must. Brance usually takes his time early in the morning. He’ll get up before the rest of us, dress, and then spend time reading in the hotel lobby or restaurant or exploring something close to the hotel. I work mine in later in the day. If you have younger kids, nap times are a great time for one of you to get some much needed alone time.

Bring something for them to do. 

Bring coloring books, notebooks, matchbox cars, dolls, an Etch A Sketch, or whatever your kids are into. It’s so helpful. We always have something to occupy our kids while traveling – whether on a plane, in the car, or in a hotel room. We try and fit it into one small bag that we can easily keep up with. And I  oversee what goes in the bag. The few times they have been allowed to pack their own bag have resulted in us lugging randomness (bits of string, broken pencils, filled notebooks etc.)

Child eating a donutChoose kid-friendly activities and restaurants. 

While certain activities can be scaled back and enjoyed with children, others probably should be avoided all together. While Brance and I would love to take in the late-night music scenes in every city we visit, we know that we wouldn’t enjoy it one bit with tired kids and then the next day we would be one grumpy, sleep deprived family. So when family vacationing we omit. Also, we try and pick restaurants where we can relax and kids can be kids (within reason :). Continue reading