I usually scoff at the idea of making resolutions. But not this year.

I identified with Calvin in the past. This year? Not so much.

Come to think of it – not only do I usually ignore the idea of making resolutions, I kinda smirk when people make them.

At least, when people make resolutions that make me roll my eyes and think, Really? I mean, good for you. But really?

You know. The giver-uppers of chocolate. The ones who say they're going to yell less at their kids. The ones who say they are going to drink less wine.

People. You are setting yourself up for certain failure with these types of goals. We have young children. We need wine and chocolate to deal with all the whine and the subsequent yelling about the constant whine.

And in all seriousness – unless you are gaining a pound a week from eating chocolate, you seriously have a drinking problem, or your kids are honestly scared of you because you yell so much?

These aren't resolutions that to me, are worth making.

And anyway, when I have gotten all earnest tried to make resolutions, I just end up breaking them. Then I feel guilty. And as a Queen of Guilt (like many of you, right?) I just don't want MORE guilt.

However, this year is strangely different. I am not being snarky about resolutions. I not only have real resolutions, I have a Big One. And in spite of myself, I've already begun to tackle it.

My resolution may seem a little touchy-feely. A little vague. But for me – it's very concrete. VERY real. And I know exactly what I need to do to get there.

My resolution: I will be healthy and happy in 2012.

Yeah, yeah, I know. That's what everyone wants. Blah, blah, blah.

But you guys, I'm serious. And motivated. And it's going to happen. Or I will be in a seriously bad spot a year from now.

Why? Some of the reasons, I will write about. Some, not so much.

But. I will achieve my goal. Failure is not an option.

There are two parts to my goal.

The first: Lose 10-15 pounds by Memorial Day weekend.

Not very original, I know. Pretty common goal. But for me? Considering my love of food and loathing of gyms, my dearth of free time and my fondness for snacks … well, it may not be original. But it's necessary.

It all began with my baked-goods body parts post during the summer. That's when I started thinking about getting fit again.

I am disgusted with my bagel belly. I am annoyed that my clothes have mysteriously started shrinking. I am sick of being tired and run-down.

I am not heavy. But I'm not fit. And I am intensely fearful of becoming overweight.

So last week, I started with small-group personal training at Fitness Together. It is really hard. REALLY hard. But I know I'll stick with it because I have people depending on me to be there.

And that taps into my guilt complex in a good way. I hate letting people down. Plus, the sessions are built into my schedule. They're appointments I need to keep. So I'll be there.

The other part to my goal? Well, the first part focuses on my physical well-being. The second focuses on my mental well-being.

Like you, I don't get enough me-time.

But perhaps unlike you, this fact doesn't just annoy me or make me pine wistfully for less busy days.

Not having enough me-time makes me sad. Down. Puts me in a not-fun place.

It's not something I'm comfortable discussing in depth on this blog. But let's just say it has become abundantly clear that I need me-time to function well and to be happy.

So, this semester I am dropping a playgroup that I like. It's a tough decision, but it's a necessary one. I'm getting a sitter during that time and doing stuff for me. I'll write. Read. That's pretty much it.

It's not a time to get things done – that's what will be hard for me. Because my guilt will creep in and I'll think, I'm paying someone to be watch Miss S. I should really clean out the office right now. Or organize Miss L's birthday party. Or answer those emails.

But I need to remember those are tasks I want to accomplish. NOT things I want to do. Those are things that can get done on Thursday during those few free hours that both girls are at school. Thursdays are task days.

Friday mornings are mine. ALL MINE. I need it. I deserve it. And I'm claiming it.

Part of this thing I call momagement is managing my kids' lives. And part of it is managing myself. So in 2012, I'm resolving to manage ME better.

It may be a boringly earnest, very common goal. But it's my goal. And dammit, I'm going to achieve it.

This resolve makes me really want to ring in 2012 in an appropriate, goal-meeting way. So you know what I'm gonna be doing at midnight?

Sleeping. Because that's what'll start my year off on the right foot.

Are you a resolution maker? Or a resolution rebuffer? What are your 2012 goals? Or do you purposely have none?

Posted in Holidays, Mom confessions, Weight loss struggles, Work-life balance | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

Extra-good behavior for Santa? HA.

One of Lizzie's 15 pictures that she drew for Santa. Note the multitude of gifts.

The last few weeks I have been wondering if my girls actually don't believe in Santa, and they're just milking us for gifts.

There has been no attempt on their parts to be extra good. Extra helpful. Extra anything.

Better not cry? Better not pout? What-ev-er. Typical 5 and 3 year old behavior reigns in this house. Even when Lizzie moves the peg on the countdown-to-Christmas tree one day closer to December 25. She bellows excitedly, "Only X more days until Christmas!!!" And Sophia screeches, "I wanna move the peg!!!" And the bickering ensures.

Irony is lost on these kids.

I'm sure you're wondering – but do you have the elf on the shelf? Surely that would inspire extra-good behavior?

Yes, we do have mysterious moving elf. We have two, actually. The girls like to run around and see where they are in the morning. But they have complete disregard for the idea that the elves are TATTLING ON THEM when they are bad.

"Look, the elves moved!" exclaims Lizzie.
"They did?" Sophia asks.
"See? There. Don't touch them, Sophia. DON'T TOUCH THEM!!!"
"But I WANNNNNNNAAAAA!"

Threats of Santa bringing less gifts if they misbehave fall on deaf ears. And this has been really annoying. Because this is the time of year when I am supposed to be able to sing out the magic words, "Santa's watching, girls!"

And then they should stop whatever naughty thing they are doing for fear that Santa is, at that moment, eating a candy cane that's dipped in maple syrup and coated in candy corns, and thinking, "Hmmmmmm, I'm not so sure these girls are nice after all…"

But it's not working. There is no Fear Of Santa Not Bringing Gifts.

So what gives? Has the jolly old guy lost his ability to inspire the fear of no gifts? Do kids think he's so great and kind and nice that they'll get presents no matter what because he loves them?

I mean, we're talking about Santa, people. Not Jesus.

But as I was wrapping a gazillion gifts last night on the floor in the basement, with my body contorted into uncomfortable positions as to not bump into stacks of presents around me, I couldn't stop thinking of how completely beyond excited the girls were going to be when they opened these gifts.

And it made me so happy.

Yeah, they might not be perfectly-behaved kids. They're high-maintenance. They're spirited. They are all those euphemisms that describe kids that are not mellow, go-with-the-flow types. Kids who really, ahem, give you a run for your money, shall we say.

They're not perfect. They're kids. And they're MY kids. And I love them to pieces.

So I guess it's okay that they're not afraid that if they misbehave, Santa won't bring them gifts. Because of course he will.

Santa loves them. Santa wants to see them happy. Santa knows they really do try to be good little girls. They have good hearts. And they deserve a happy day full of gifts and fun.

But I still wish I could utter some magic words that instantly made my girls behave. Perhaps Santa will bring me a magic remote control? One that I can just click and make the kids do what I want them to do?

Do you hear me, Santa? I've been a good mom. I promise.

Merry Everything to you and yours. Enjoy the holidays!

Posted in Family, Holiday sarcasm, Kid behavior, Parenting, Raising girls, When parenting rocks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

2011 Christmas and Holiday Gift Ideas for 3 to 5 Year Old Girls

Do you need Christmas or holiday gift ideas for little girls aged 3 to 5 years old? Well I gotta tell you, I shopped online WAY too much on Black Friday and Cyber Monday for Lizzie, my kindergartener, and Sophia, my preschooler.

They're going to have a ridiculously Merry Christmas. And if you need gift ideas for the little girls in your life, my Amex bill is proof that I am more than qualified to help.

Many of my purchases were made on Amazon.com because after price-comparing around the internet, they had the best prices and free shipping. But I did score some great little finds on smaller websites, too!

I'll divide the loot up below by stocking stuffers and under-the-tree gifts, and group the gifts by category. Yes, yes, I am one of those crazy list people. I'll also include stuff I got for other little girls in my life, plus stuff I found that's awesome but I didn't end up getting.

I refuse to say how much of this my girls may or may not be getting. We've got 23 days until Christmas. Their behavior and my level of peace/sanity/grumpiness directly correlates to the amount of gifts under the tree for them.

In the end though, I am a big softie. Don't judge. ;-)

Stocking stuffer ideas for 3 to 5 year old girls

How cool are these?

Crayon rocks in a red velvet bag | Non-toxic, all-natural soy rock crayons, designed to strengthen the tripod grip. And wicked cool.

Finger printing art set | Found this at a great site called The Spoon Sisters. Create characters with the ink pads, rubber stamps for features, and colored pencils.

Little sporks | Seriously, how cool is a spork to eat you lunch with when you're five years old?

Alphabath | Fruit-scented alphabet soaps for the tub!

Mini Slinky | I got this (and a lot of other stuff) in the dollar bins at Target.

Flutophone | Remember this from grade school? Super fun addition to my girls' "band."

The best dolls and dollhouse for three to five year old girls

Fisher-Price Loving Family Grand Dollhouse | Lizzie got this two years ago and still adores it. So does Sophia. They use their little 3" Disney Princesses with it. This year we're getting Lizzie more room furniture to go with it.

Ooooh. Dreamy.

KidKraft My Dreamy Dollhouse | This is Lizzie's dream gift this year. She loves the elevator and that the toilet and piano make noise and the lamp works.

Fisher-Price Dress and Style Dora | There are a lot of Dora dolls out there but I wanted one that Sophia could dress up – and this one looks the most like Dora out of all the options.

Fancy Nancy 18-inch Doll with Book | I found this at TJ Maxx. Really nice doll and hardcover book.

"Let's Pretend" toy ideas for 3-5 year old girls

Giddyup n' Go Pony | I would have LOVED one of these as a kid! Bounce up and down and the horse really moves. Good exercise, too.

FurReal GoGo My Walkin' Pup | This is Sophia's dream gift. And my dream dog – no feeding, training, walking. YAY.

Tabletop Puppet Theatre with Melissa & Doug puppets | My girls love putting on puppet shows. Great open-play imagination toy.

Donde esta mi dinero, Miss L?

Zillionz Talking Cash Register | Lizzie got this last year. Both girls love it. It has a real scanner that scans included barcode labels and speaks in English, Spanish, and French.

Dora Mermaid Castle Tub Toy | My little Dora lover will adore this. The castle sticks to the wall or tub and comes with cute Dora and Boots figures.

Games, building, and outdoor toys for 3 to 5 year old girls

Four-foot air hockey table | Whenever my girls see an air hockey table they beg to play. This one is the perfect size for our small basement.

Diggin Squap | This looks super fun. It's catch, on steriods. The mitt launches and catches the ball.

Flexible Snowball Maker | Lizzie had a hard time making actual snowballs last year and this looks fun. I got the snow block maker, too.

Our snowman's gonna kick your snowman's butt.

Snowman-In-A-Sack from Land of Nod | No more rummaging for a carrot nose or stones for eyes. This was the nicest set I could find online.

Angelina Ballerina Dance with Me Game | A ballet game in which kids practice dance moves, step by step, to create a routine.

Charades for Kids | The girls LOVE charades. And now we won't have to make up things from them to act out all the time – we can all play!

Connectagons | Creative building set of wooden circles with eight slots on each circle in different colors and patterns. Great open-ended play!

Magna-Tiles | Tiles in different shapes that connect on all sides. Excellent open-ended play.

Books and reading toys for three to five year old girls

LeapFrog TAG Reading System | I have heard rave reviews about this toy. Words talk and sing and the stories are read out loud. Seems to be less of a learn-to-read toy and more of a way to further enjoy books.

Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? | In this book a little girl learns that being like a princess has to do with what we are on the inside.

Harold and the Purple Crayon | The classic "tribute to the imagination." A little boy draws his own adventure.

Pinkalicious: The Princess of Pink Treasury | A nice hardcover book that contains five stories, a read-aloud CD, and lots of different activity pages.

Dude. These books are kinda trippy.

The "Little Miss" Books | Roger Hargreaves classic little books address preschooler emotions in a fun way.

Arts and crafts for 3 to 5 year old girls

Make Your Own Scarf Kit | Nice rainy-day activity for my kindergartener.

Decorate Your Own Princess Castle | Lizzie will love this. Paint it, color it, whatever. Perfect for 3" Disney Princess dolls. I also got her a big pack of stick-on jewels for decorating.

No oil pastels for you, Miss S.

120-Piece Deluxe Young Artists Set | Now Lizzie can have her own art set to keep in her room, away from her little sister!

Happy shopping, my friends! I hope this list is helpful! What would you add to it?

 

I am not receiving any compensation for plugging these gifts. They are just great finds I wanted to share with you all. :-)

Posted in Raising girls, Shopping for girls | Tagged , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

It's time for the Thanksgiving Thanking Throwdown. And I WIN.

'Tis the season for all of us bloggers, tweeters, and facebookers to get all thanky-thanky. In my mind it has become a competitive sport. Because what this world needs is more mommy competition, right? I mean, really, what are the holidays for?

Who can be most sincere in their thankfulness? Who can be wittiest? Who can make everyone cry? Who, my friends, can be the absolute BEST thanker of them all?

Well, I say: Bring. It. On.

Because I'm gonna kick all your butts in what I have affectionally dubbed as the Thanksgiving Thanking Throwdown. I, my friends, am putting my thanks into … wait for it … Haiku.

What JD Is Thankful for This Year. In Haiku. Naturally.

Turkey at Grandma's.
Don't have to get on a plane.
If you do, that sucks.

I don't have to cook.
Just bringing green bean side dish.
Happy not to host!

No wicked sick kids.
Escaped the school bug so far.
No puke monster here.

Thanksgiving day drinks.
It's 5 o'clock somewhere, right?
Pinot Noir, please.

No awkward family.
Lucked out: fabulous in-laws.
Laugh, talk, eat all day.

Football bores my girls.
iPads, iPhones can distract.
Yay, technology!

I am a lightweight.
Will drink too much wine. Who cares?
Husband is DD!

Now go eat your turkey and stuffing and pie and such. Kick back and relax. While you're stuffing your face, I'll be devising the BEST FRIGGIN CHRISTMAS CARD EVER that will totally kick your Christmas card's ass.

Because as we all know, the Thanksgiving Thanking Throwdown is just a warm-up for the Cute and Creative Christmas Card Competition.

(No, I haven't lost my marbles. I'm just in a wicked sarcastic mood today. Seriously, have a great holiday weekend. See? I'm still sweet and nice. Really, I am, dammit.)

Posted in Blogging, Family, Holiday sarcasm, Holidays | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

New Gourmet Cupcake Shop Tempts Metrowest Taste Buds: CocoBeni Confections Review

Miss Lizzie, like most kids, would eat sweets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if she could. So when she heard a new cupcake shop opened up near her dance studio, she was determined that sweet treats were in her future.

And to be totally honest, she got her sweet tooth from me, so who am I to say no? Me, the mom who makes Peep Cupcakes?

When we stopped in CocoBeni Confections in Northborough this past week, yummy scents and sights greeted us. Not only were there tempting, beautiful cupcakes, but there were cookies, scones, coffee, and – gasp – Emack & Bolio's ice cream! But this day, we were all about the cupcakes.

Now, I confess, I am a bit of a snob when it comes to cake. I really dislike it when the cake looks gorgeous, and maybe the frosting is delish, but then the cake is oily. Or flavorless. Or tastes like something I could have made from a cheap boxed mix.

Regrettably, I've tasted a lot of cupcakes like this. And happily CocoBeni's cupcakes most certainly do NOT fall into this sad category.

OMG, how to choose?
The cupcakes looked great. They weren't as fancy as some I've seen, but still looked super yummy. Lizzie got their peanut butter cup flavor, and I got pumpkin – because as we know, I am obsessed with all things pumpkin. I was tempted by the red velvet cupcake, though.

Holy deliciousness, people. The ganache on Lizzie's cupcake was heavenly, the peanut butter frosting (ON TOP of the ganache!) divine, and the cake itself? Dense, delicious chocolate. Yummy. There was also half of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup on the top of the frosting, which normally I love – but since the cupcake was so good, I think it deserved a homemade peanut butter cup on top.

My cupcake was also spectacular. The cream cheese frosting tasted like a buttercream-cream cheese concoction. And the pumpkin cake was perfectly spiced and definitely cake – not pumpkin bread. Delish.

And guess what? The cupcakes are only $2.49 each. Seriously? Dessert for under $3.00? Amazing. And if you order a dozen they are only $2.28 each!

If you are looking for some great treats for the holidays, I highly recommend you check out CocoBeni Confections. Who needs pumpkin pie? Order up a bunch of pumpkin cupcakes!

CocoBeni Confections is located at 247 A West Main Street in the Northborough Shopping Center. For more info, visit their Facebook page or website.

I was not compensated in any way for this review.

Posted in Review | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Review: Braun ThermoScan Ear Thermometer

You guys, I'm embarrassed. Last year, a very nice guy at 360 Public Relations gave me two products to review: the Vicks Starry Night Humidifier and the Braun ThermoScan Ear Thermometer. I reviewed the humidifier but, well, the ear thermometer? Not so much.

Oh, I have lots of excuses: I decided not to do compensated reviews on my blog. I got sick. It was no longer cold and flu season. Blah, blah, blah.

But I'm now FINALLY making good on my review promise – because man, do we get a lot of use out of this ear thermometer. So, I present…

Why you should run out and get this Braun ThermoScan ear thermometer:

  • Takes your kid's temp super quick, which is essential with a squirmy, sick toddler
  • Has memory recall and remembers the last temp taken
  • It's rugged: I've dropped it a few times and it's fine
  • The battery seems to last forever
  • It's very gentle
  • Disposable lens filter detector covers the tip of the thermometer and pops off easily

Things to consider:

  • From what I've read, ear thermometers are not for infants or young babies. They're just not accurate in little ones.
  • I have seen a few moms complain on review sites that this ear thermometer can take totally different temps in the same general time period. I have not found this. Most reviews I've seen are excellent.
  • One criticism: I wish the temperature screen lit up when it registered my kid's temp. I need to hold it by a nightlight to read it when it's dark out. But this isn't a deal breaker for me.
  • One hint: Take your kid's temperature when they are healthy and jot it down. This gives you an accurate baseline from which to work when your kids are actually sick. My kids are never 98.6 when healthy.

Comparison: Rectal, ear, oral, and axillary (under arm) temperature readings

I am always confused about this. When to add a degree? When to subtract a degree? Here's what I found:

- The average normal oral temperature is 98.6°F (37°C). An oral temperature is 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) lower than a rectal or ear (tympanic) temperature.
- A rectal temperature is 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) higher than an oral temperature.
- An ear (tympanic) temperature is 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) higher than an oral temperature.
- An armpit (axillary) temperature is usually 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) lower than an oral temperature.
(Source: MSN Health)

I took my kids' temps when healthy and these guidelines hold true for us.

How much does it cost?

Right now at Target it's on sale for $24.07. That is a bargain, people. It retails for $40, according to the Kaz website (Kaz manufactures the thermometer for Braun).

For more information, visit Cold and Flu Central on Facebook. You can also check out my review of the Vicks Starry Night Humidifier, which we love. It’s been really reliable and Lizzie loves the stars!

Thank you to Kaz, Inc. for providing me with a free thermometer to review and keep.

Posted in Review | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Eats: The yummiest, best pumpkin recipes

Lovely pumpkins courtesy of Wikipedia.

I am obsessed with pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin spice lattes … I love it all.

But you know, I don't have an amazing pumpkin bread recipe. I tweeted out a request (twice!) for a good pumpkin bread recipe, preferably healthy, but haven't gotten any responses. Geez, are people loathe to share their super-secret pumpkin bread recipes or something? Do you have one you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments!

Here are two pumpkin recipes in heavy rotation in my house at this time of the year, plus one other one I'm going to try really soon!

Super Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

My kids live on these. Miss L can devour half a pan herself in one sitting. They. Are. Amazing.

2/3 cup sugar (I use a little less)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg or vegan egg substitute equivalent
1 can pumpkin (love that it uses a whole can!)
1 cup whole wheat flour (I use white whole wheat flour)
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I use a tad more. Okay, more than a tad sometimes.)

Directions:

- Mix sugar, applesauce, egg, and pumpkin until well blended.
- Stir in flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and chocolate chips.
- Pour into a prepared 13 x 9 inch pan. Spread it out evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle on the coconut.
- Bake at 350° for 25 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan completely before cutting into bars.

Thanks to Megan's Munchies for the original recipe!

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

I always make these after carving a jack-o-lantern. This year because of all the power outages we never got around to it. But I'm buying sugar pumpkins this week and roasting them – mostly so I can make these seeds! But I also may try to make homemade pumpkin pie. YUM.

1 medium pumpkin
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil (I use veggie oil)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut pumpkin open from the bottom, removing seeds with a long-handled spoon. Separate flesh from seeds, and reserve the flesh for another use (see Pumpkin Pie). Pumpkin should yield 1 cup seeds. Spread seeds on parchment in an even layer. Bake until dry, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let cool.

In a medium bowl combine 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne. Heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Cook until sugar melts and pumpkin seeds begin to caramelize, about 45 to 60 seconds. Transfer to bowl with spices, and stir well to coat. Let cool. These may be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Original recipe: Martha Stewart. Of course.

Pumpkin French Toast

This recipe came to me from a new Twitter bud – ahem – Old Dog New Tits. I blush just typing that. Anyway, she sent me this recipe that I cannot wait to make. Sounds like a good way to get some protein and veggies into my picky-pants girls.

3 eggs
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1-3 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 slices bread (can be gluten-free bread!)
*optional – for sweetness, add 1-2 tbsp of brown sugar

Suggested Toppings:
Pecans, chopped
Maple syrup
Powdered sugar for dusting
Butter (duh)

Directions:

In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Place the slices of bread into the egg mixture and let soak while the pan heats up [3-5 minutes].

Spray skillet with non-stick spray in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place all 4 slices of the bread into the pan and cook until golden brown on 1 side, approx. 2-3 minutes. Turn the slices over and cook until golden brown, 2-3 minutes longer. Remove and place two slices on each plate, top with toppings and enjoy! Serves 2.

Original recipe from With Style and Grace – a gluten-free cook's blog.

ENJOY!

PS – I'd reeeeaaaalllly love a good pumpkin bread recipe. Did I mention that?

Posted in Eats | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Man vs. woman: How to plan a Disney trip

You gotta love how guys can be decisive and just DO IT and get it done sometimes.

I mean, not that women can't be decisive. I mean, this woman. Me. I can't be decisive. Well, I can be. Sometimes.

*Sigh.*

Anyway. Hubs and I have been talking about going to Disney World for over a year now. We were thinking about it last year, but after the disastrous flight on Jet Blue flight #1216 … well, let's just say we decided we weren't ready for that drama again.

But now Sophia is 3 and Lizzie is 5 1/2. And they are so crazy into the Disney Princesses. So I'm thinking, I'm hoping, I'm praying, that Sophia can handle a three-hour plane ride.

Because yesterday, Hubs just went ahead and booked us a vacation.

I couldn't believe it. Could it be that easy? Hotel – done. Theme park pass – done. Princess dinners, Mickey breakfast, other meals? Done, done, and done.

All we need are the plane tickets.

*Gulp.*

Now if I was the one planning this trip? I'd be researching. I'd be comparing prices of getting a meal plan vs. going a la carte. Which hotel? Which parks and rides and princess character meals? Get that book, read this website, check this message board…

I'd quickly beat all the fun and magic out of the trip and make it one big stressful Thing I Had To Do.

This is the story of my life. This is why my boss at work has told me for, oh, five or so years that I need to learn this: that sometimes, you just need to get it done, check it off the list, and then let it go.

But why does it seem so much easier for guys to do that?

I think this flow chart explains it all. It's by ad agency McCann Erickson out of Tel Aviv. I saw it and thought, "This is how I think vs. how a guy probably thinks if someone says to me: 'Want to grab a drink tonight?'"

Again : *Sigh.*

So, yeah, the trip may not be planned exactly how I would have planned it (you know, with lots of angst and multiple decision-making variables).

But it's done. The itinerary looks awesome. And I didn't have to do a thing. And that is way more than good enough.

Now, I need a drink.

Posted in Family, Kids, Overwhelmed, Relationships, Traveling with kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Why was she mean to me?” Dealing with kindergarten friendship issues

No one wants their child to feel like this. (Source: HubPages http://bit.ly/sKlzn3)

It’s what every parent of a young child dreads but knows it’ll happen eventually: Someone is going to be mean to your child when you’re not there to help. It’s positively heartbreaking when it happens. But here are some ideas on what you can do…

Lizzie started kindergarten this fall. Apart from the devastating exhaustion she is still dealing with (she’s STILL wiped out when she gets home and even on weekends), she loves school. Her teacher is exactly what you hope for in a kindergarten teacher. She hit it off immediately with some girls in her class. Has a new BFF. Loves learning. And is getting to know lots of new kids through soccer and riding the bus.

And despite her initial anxiety about it, the bus has been one of her favorite things. In fact, she’s POed when she can’t ride the bus on the two days a week that I work. Downright annoyed with me. Because really, my schedule should revolve around her desire to sit with her friends on the bus, right?

She seems so grown-up. Suddenly she’s doing things by herself that she never did before. Reading beginner-reading books. Showering and getting ready for bed all by herself. Running off and playing with neighborhood kids when she used to hover close to home.

But then there are times she says something that startles me into realizing how young she still is. The other day, we were snuggling before bed and she looked at me with her big baby blues and said,

“Mom, why was Jamie mean to me?”

And she really wants to know why. Apparently this girl had been friendly with her and then suddenly wasn’t. Lizzie truly doesn’t understand how a girl could be nice to her one day and cruel the next. She’s still so innocent. Everyone’s always been her friend. In fact, her classmates at preschool were referred to as “friends” as opposed to “classmates.” Most little kids just naturally assume that all kids are nice and want to be friends.

And now Lizzie is finding out that’s not necessarily true.

I’ve really been struggling with how to talk with her about this, so I’ve been doing some reading on different childhood development websites. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Parents are their kid’s tour guide. SchoolFamily.com emphasizes that the world is suddenly bigger and more complex for kindergarteners. Parents can’t navigate the world for them – we need to be guides. “The kindergartner has to cross the bridge from preschool to 1st grade on his own two feet, a realization that may be exhilarating for children and more than a little scary for their parents.” Um, yeah, ya think? So how can you be your kid’s guide? Well…

Power plays start early. “You can’t come to my party.” This kind of meanness, says veteran teacher Jane Katch on the PBS Parents website, is called relational aggression. She comforts the excluded kid and tries to teach empathy to the excluders. Well, I can’t talk to a kid who got all “relational aggressive” on Lizzie. But I can talk to Lizzie.

I tried to get her to describe her feelings in simple words. Then I encouraged her to think of how to solve the problem (which I didn’t feel that I did a good job of – didn’t seem to be sinking in). But – the other day she suggested a solution to a kid who wanted something her way or the highway. The kid didn’t back off her stance then – but she has since. Lizzie has gained confidence and the kid has realized Lizzie isn’t going to wilt! Yay, Lizzie!

Keep it in perspective. Don’t overreact, Lyn Mikel Brown, author of Girlfighting, recommends. “Young children take their cues from their parents. A child may not consider a social slight a big deal until her parent reacts strongly.” Your kid might want to air her grievance and then move on. This is hard for me. When I see my baby upset by other kids, it’s a big deal to me – but I guess it’s not always to her.

Things are going to change this year. Lizzie’s going to start really thinking and maybe really worrying about who she’s going to play with each day. She sort of already does – she often frets about who she can sit with on the bus and doesn’t want to sit alone. “Throughout the year, you’ll see more and more emphasis on friendships and even the development of cliques that exclude other children,” says Ellen Booth Church on Scholastic.com. Cliques? In kindergarten?! Say it isn’t so! This means it’s very important to build your child’s confidence now, which Hubs and I are working on with Lizzie. Team sports (soccer) has been key for us this year.

So there it is, parents. Build your kid’s confidence. Teach him or her coping skills to deal with sticky situations. And sometimes – back off. Easy peasy, right???

How have you been helping your young child deal with the occasional mean kid? Does your little one deal with a mean kid on a regular basis? How are you helping him or her? Have you been surprised by how early the meanness can start?

Posted in Kid behavior, Kids education, Kindergarten, Parenting, Raising girls | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Listography: How you all find me and the weird things you search for

Kate at Kate Takes 5 does this cool link-up called Listography. She throws out a topic and bloggers write a top 5 list about the topic. I love lists (as evidenced by the 46 lists on my iPhone – I admit, it might be a sickness). And I particularly love this topic, which is:

The Top 5 Keyword Searches for My Blog

5. Overwhelmed working mom | I sometimes write about mom guilt and why I like the opportunity to get away from my kids work a few days a week. Should I feel guilty about liking working? How can we balance it all? Apparently you all want to know, too.

4. Peep cupcakes | Sometimes I cook and make something that the interwebs apparently think is cool. Like Peep cupcakes. Wild.

3. Boston mom blog | Proof that SEO works, people. I live in the Metrowest Boston area and I use those keywords in my site SEO. Lots of you find me because you’re looking for local bloggers. Yay! And guess what? This week I’ll post about our new local Wegmans grocery store. Which may sound boring to some of you uninitiated – but trust me: This is An Event, as the Metrowest blog My Southborough points out.

2. Monkey birthday party | I guess lots of you out there are planning monkey-themed birthday parties. Ours was a year ago and this post still gets tons of views.

1. My toddler cries all the time. | Every single day, tired moms of crying toddlers come to my blog looking for help and to commiserate. I have some advice. But mostly I can commiserate. Now my darling toddler is a preschooler and the crying is MUCH less. But the sleeping? It still sucks.

By far, most of you find me simply by searching for momagement or momagement matters. Which rocks, because it means lots of you actually come to my blog on purpose. Yay!

Other popular search terms: Kids won’t eat what I cook, strong-willed kid, filthy house

Funniest: “How do I survive a 3-day road trip with my husband”

Random but intriguing: “Obsessed with first love,” “inflexible hips,” and “what is bug religion”

What’s the craziest search term someone used to get to your blog?

Posted in Blogging, Listography, Overwhelmed | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments