I'm thrilled to share with you the cover of the funny, brutally honest relationship anthology, Clash of the Couples, which includes one of my essays (watch out FranticMamaHubby!), available November 3rd.
Coupledom. Fact or fable, Adam and Eve birthed the perpetual
relationship drama as seen on TV today. Despite the serpents, this couple HAD
IT MADE. Luxury real estate, lush gardens, and privacy out the yin-yang. Life
was glorious until the bare-bottomed babe could no longer resist temptation. Despite
her better half’s warnings and threats to sleep in a tree, she tasted the
forbidden fruit. One bite of that seductive, juicy contraband and the stage was
set for eternity— a nibble that has blossomed into an endless supply of tiny
tidbits that divide lovers to this day!
Taking a cue from the naked explorers of authentic sin, Clash of the Couples is a new anthology featuring
a collection of completely absurd lovers’ squabbles and relationship spats. Think
couples fight over kids, sex, and money? Think again! Furniture, the last beer,
and where to store the placenta are what genuinely ignite our feuds. And no
argument is off limits.
Inside you’ll find a compilation of stories such
as: “I Can’t Believe You Ate My Sandwich," "Never Assume Anything,"
"Only I Can Talk About Me," and "You Want Some College Boobs?"
from forty-three fearless writers. Prepare to laugh, roll your eyes, and
shiver in suspense. While Eve may have had the first bite, we ate the whole
tree. And made pies.
If you are a regular blog reader, you will surely recognize some of your favorites as contributors to the anthology. In no particular order, they are:
To support the book and its writers, please check out and like the Facebook page here, and follow the Pinterest board here. The book will be available November 3rd, 2014 just about wherever books are sold.
Thank you for your support! This is going to be fun :).
There is a saying that goes something like, 'you never appreciate your health until you don't have it.' Or, here's another way to look at it: when you are healthy, you rarely think of your health, but when you're not, you can hardly think of anything else.
This is so true. And my 4 year-old son's recent accident reminded me of that.
We were visiting family out of state, and in the hustle and bustle that is getting a 4 year old and a toddler to and from the airport, sleeping in new situations, adjusting to time zone changes, etc., I took for granted the most basic luxury we had-- that our kids were healthy.
One afternoon we were in a hurry getting ready to meet my sister and her kids to spend the afternoon at the pool. The biggest worry on my mind was getting both kids fed, dressed, and in the car in a somewhat orderly, non-tantrumy fashion.
I was in a bedroom for 2 minutes packing my own bag when I heard a scream. I inhaled. I hoped it was an overreaction. My mom yelled my name. I looked down at the bottom of the steep wood staircase to see her holding my 4 year old son, who was crying and looked beyond scared, while a gigantic lump was already forming and protruding from his smooth forehead. My mom looked terrified.
(Not a bad rendition of my son's temporary new look.)
I had never seen what I now know is called a "goose egg" like that on a forehead before. I took one look and thought it was a completely broken nose or cracked skull. Within seconds, my mind pictured every catastrophe I could think of, and I almost passed out.
My husband came back inside from packing up the car to find us all screaming and crying. He held our son, and I asked if we should drive to the hospital or call an ambulance.
My husband had seen this type of head injury before, so he didn't freak out as much as I did. We hurried to a bedroom and iced my son's little forehead, despite having to pin his arms down so he wouldn't push away the cold ice. I put on a Cars DVD so he would have something else to think about (it worked a little bit) and my husband and I hugged him close so he would feel safe.
I felt sick. How could we have let this happen? Would he ever be the same? Did he have a concussion? Was his nose broken? What would we do, out of state, thousands of miles from home with an injured 4 year old?
After a long time with the 3 of us resting on the bed, we all started to calm down. I begin to feel incredibly grateful that a bad bump and a possible broken nose or loose tooth/teeth were likely the worst of his injury.
For several nights, my husband and I had trouble sleeping. We became very emotional about our son, who is far from easy, but far from replaceable. We treasure him as much as parents possibly can.
All this, and I know that some families have it so much harder-- children with chronic or terminal illnesses or debilitating injuries.
My son had two black eyes and significant swelling for a long time after the accident; when we took him to the doctor she assured us there was nothing else we could be doing for his fall, that nothing looked broken. There is nothing else we could have done...I guess...
Has anything shaken you to the core recently? I'm not sure I will ever be quite the same after this one.
Many toys seem to come and go in our house, but it is so nice when I see my kids (now 4 and almost 2) continue to play with certain toys months-- or even years-- after they first receive them. I love it even more if both of my kids will play with a toy at the same time.
Here are a few favorites that fit the above criteria. You might consider adding them to your stash (and please share your own favorites in the Comments or on my Facebook page!):
Mega Blocks Play N' Go Table:
My sister gave my son this Mega Blocks table for his 1st birthday, and he played with it a lot. Now my daughter, almost 2, loves it. They even throw me a bone and occasionally play with it together.
Fisher Price Amusement Park Wheelies Car Ramp:
This is a fun toy for all little kids. My son received it at age 3, and he and my daughter immediately started sending Wheelies down it. They still play with it daily (and it remains front and center in our very un-fancy family room). Hot Wheels and the ever-popular Disney Pixar cars usually work on it too. The music is cute and gets my kids excited, but you can turn it off if it doesn't excite you so much. Every kid who comes over makes a beeline for this toy. Step 2 Chalkboard Easel and Magnetic Whiteboard:
This easel gets a lot of mileage at our house. One side has a magnetic chalkboard, and the other (see above) is a magnetic whiteboard. I consider it a major bonus if each kid "works" on his or her own side so that they are sharing without really sharing. Micro Mini Scooter:
My mom gave this to my son when he turned two. Before he could actually scoot on it, I let him run around pushing it in our basement. Now, at 4, he can actually scoot on it. My daughter, almost 2, likes to push it frantically around the yard like a little stroller or push toy.
One final tip: Rotate your toys. Even though I rarely actually do this, I still think it is good advice. My Shortcut: Even if I just move toys to different rooms, the kids notice them all over again and play with them more. What are some of your long lasting toy favorites?
For the love of all that is good and holy, will people just STOP saying "Good Job!" to my kids every two minutes?!
When I was a high school teacher, I often used praise as a way to encourage my students-- students who frequently came into my class barely reading even though they were at least 15 years old. Some of these kids could barely write a complete sentence. So when they did make progress, you can bet I was proud of them for realizing their potential. Consequently, I didn't think too much about praise when I had my own kids. Praise = good, right?
My now 4 year-old son has taught me to feel differently. It has not been an easy lesson to learn.
When my son was a baby and toddler, he had a charming way of deflecting praise: he would cover his eyes, look away, or even sniffle a little if someone too enthusiastically shouted "yay! hooray! good job!" It surprised us, but it was endearing. My husband and I are modest people (I think? I hope?) and that is a trait we of course want our children to possess.
When my son turned 3, things got more complicated. His reactions became stronger, and other people didn't always think it was cute. We didn't always think it was cute either. It put us in some embarrassing, awkward situations. First, trying to laugh it off...then trying to change the conversation...then explaining it to the other adult... argh. I tried everything to get through those moments. It wasn't easy.
Preschool further complicated things. Everyone wants their child to make a good impression. For the teachers to see the best of their child. It is hard to ask people if they can simply "tone down" the praise and hoorays that, honestly, are hurled at children left and right these days. Who am I to ask other people to hold their tongue? Wouldn't it seem odd to mention this quirk to others? But, then again, isn't it my job to set my son up for success? I was torn. I'm still torn.
Here's the twist: it can still drive me insane when my son barks at a stranger to "not say that" if they tell him "good job!" (and Trust Me when I tell you that I may stay calm in the moment, but I am of course talking about the incident with him later in private), but recently, I see it more from my son's side: the constant stream of good jobs can get really, really annoying sometimes.
Because here's the thing: nice, well-intentioned people have told my son that he is doing a "good job" for the stupidest things. I'm wondering if he is onto something. Because, while no, it is not okay for him to yell at someone who is trying to be nice, maybe it is okay not to praise someone's every move. I am starting to see how freaking annoying it is when a kid scribbles some blue crayon and someone booms GOOD JOB! like he just won the basketball tournament. Why? I picture my son wondering. Why are you so excited about me right now? What did I do? It makes me so uncomfortable.
I have no answers here. No big revelation other than that seeing things from my son's eyes helps me retain some shreds of patience and sanity when he seems about to crack. Recently, he is trying harder to control his initial outbursts; he is slowly learning that such reactions aren't going to make new friends. I am slowly learning to save my praise for the times when we both know he has earned it.
~Julia @ Frantic Mama
Now that my son is now 4, I'm ripe with ideas of fun extracurriculars I want to sign up for-- both for his sake, but also because I have always loved learning new things. It is really easy to say before having kids, "I won't sign up for every little thing. Protect their free time! Just spend time alone together!" However, once I had kids, a primal instinct emerged-- at least in me-- to provide them with as many rewarding experiences and advantages that I can.
While I won't be able to whisk them off on a private jet to the Great Barrier Reef anytime soon (though Australia-- flying commercial-- is definitely on our family bucket list!), and we won't be enrolling in the fanciest private school in town, I do want to give my children as many opportunities as we can.
But how much is too much? My son falls squarely into the Highly Sensitive category, which in this arena translates to him becoming easily overwhelmed when faced with too much stimulation or when too many new things or people are introduced at once. I am the same way, though as an adult, I know how to protect myself from too much of anything (saying "no" to extra committees, too many social outings, etc.). A 4-year-old has little experience being protective of his own needs; such protection still requires much parental involvement.
As a result, I am trying to find a balance between introducing my son to various pursuits that he has expressed strong interest in-- learning another language, taking up a musical instrument, trying a couple of sports-- and his need to have plenty of downtime. All this on top of another year of preschool starting soon.
Of course, I must also consider this: how much money can and should we throw at every opportunity that comes our way? Surely, my husband and I can impart at least some wisdom free of charge. (And there's always Dora. Just kidding (kind of)).
My current strategy is to sign up for what matters and seems appropriate to him and to us, and then to drop things as necessary in order to respect his personality and our family time.
What about you? At what age did the extracurriculars ramp up in your house? Did you or will you sign up your kids for lessons or sports at a young age? Why or why not?
I'm at it again: Another little DIY project in the Frantic Mama household.
We converted a small room in our basement into a guest room, and like most guest rooms, all of our least favorite furniture ended up there. While it looked fine, I wanted to spruce it up. I am always happier with a project on my hands [even if it takes forever to complete because I can only work on it for 5 minutes a day with two little monkeys children on my hands].
My husband bought an inexpensive 3 piece wood veneer dresser and side table set at Target about 10 years ago (how is that possible?) before we were married. They were passable but a little rough around the edges at this point.
(The Before shot)
We recently repainted the playroom, and FranticMamaHubby had gone a little overboard on gray paint samples-- he was determined to find the perfect one. As a result, we had LOTS of samples of lovely gray paint sitting around. I hate wasting anything...but then I had a light-bulb moment: I could use the samples to refresh the old Target furniture!
(The After shot)
The two small side tables needed just one container of the Benjamin Moore sample paint (2 coats each). I used the shade Cobblestone Path, a soft gray with slight blue/green undertones. Once the two coats of paint dried, I sprayed on a coat of Rustoleum Clear Gloss to give them a shiny, finished look [Major Important Tip: You should spray paint outside or your entire house smell for at least a day]. Voila!
It took a little elbow grease, but as always around this house, the hardest part was finding time to paint without my kids hanging on me. Mission Accomplished!
(Stay Tuned: The coordinating dresser is getting a fresh coat of paint as well.)
P.S. I'm honored that Mamalode is sharing my piece about the postpartum anxiety that many mothers face but few discuss. Read Angel in a White Coathere, and please share with anyone you think might benefit.
What DIY project have you tackled or hope to tackle? Do you have a favorite DIY website or Pinterest board you follow?
Here's an alarming thought: There are HUGE, gigantic pockets of my life that I have completely forgotten. Especially from my childhood. You know how people ask, "what's your first memory?" I have absolutely no idea. I can tell you what my first favorite book was (Green Eggs and Ham) and about the charming old cottage in Michigan we visited in the summers, but I barely remember anything specific and concrete from before I was about 6 or 7.
That begs the question: Will my two children, to whom I devote most all of my days now, remember anything from the past several years? Will they remember that visit to the Children's Museum one hot summer morning, the spontaneous trek to a new park one afternoon, the exciting first trip to the local zoo...anything?
(Photo from our most recent trip to the beach, last spring;
it was our first morning waking up there, and we were all so excited to go see the ocean!)
I heard somewhere that once kids turn 3 or 4, their memories improve. That offers at least some comfort, except it still means their first three years-- the ones that fill a disproportionately large part of my own memory space-- will be a complete wash for them.
My husband and I take lots of photos, and this helps capture special moments and then relive them when we occasionally look through albums. Still, something makes me quite sad that my son will probably not remember our family trip to the beach when he was 2, when he was our only child, and that my daughter won't have any recollection of visiting my sister's boys in North Carolina for the first time when she was just 11 months old.
(At the zoo, checking out the leopards.
I have mixed feelings about zoos (the poor, trapped animals!)
but it is amazing to let your kids see them up close.
On a bad day, when anxious, lonely, or frustrated, I could easily ask myself, Is it worth it?The effort and exhaustion that creating extra special memories requires if my kids won't even remember them?
However, I am proud of myself when I do consciously up the ante and take my kids on an adventure. Maybe those special trips-- when sprinkled into our regular, routine but still mostly happy days-- will give them an overall fond, albeit foggy, impression of their lives as little people in my care, and will give me a chance to remember this time fondly as well.
P.S. I'm honored that Mamalode is sharing my piece about the postpartum anxiety that many mothers face but few discuss. Read Angel in a White Coathere.