When Your Nice Kid Befriends the “Mean Girl”

A friend of mine recently posted something on Facebook that made me feel pretty anxious and reminded me that there are some rocky roads ahead. She has a nice, kind daughter, and the little girl has decided that she wants to be friends with the resident “mean girl.”

My first reaction to that is, “Oh heck no! Find a way to discourage that!” But as I sat with the issue a bit, I rethought that position. Continue reading “When Your Nice Kid Befriends the “Mean Girl””

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How to Be Compassionate When Your Big Kid is Sick

As I mentioned before, there’s a new little life in our household. Baby Liana is healthy as can be, though she’d already suffered through her first cold before she was 2 months old.

Our 4-year-old son, however, has been sick more times than I can count. If you have little kids, you know. It’s ridiculous. The first few years are just a total snotfest.

In fact, one of my nicknames for Z is Boogie. Not because he loves to dance (that’s what my sweet, innocent mom thought), but because, until he was about 3, he almost always had a nose full of boogers. Guuuuuhross.

Anyway, Liana is still pretty little. If she gets really sick, I’m going to be a wreck. I have anxiety, and anytime something is wrong with the girl I go all worst-case-scenario and freak the heck out.

The other day I took her to the doctor because one of her hands was randomly turning red and looked puffy, and then it would go away and come back. I was imagining that she had some kind of crazy blood clot that was slowly making its way to her brain.

I’m not kidding. The doctor had to explain away a few concerns like that that I brought to her. Continue reading “How to Be Compassionate When Your Big Kid is Sick”

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Giving the Gift of Play

Hi! Long time no see! I had to take a break from the ol’ blog for a while for various reasons. For one, I was working full-time on a project, so I decided to put all my energy into that. I figured, work for money > work for free. When that was over, I had a baby. I figured, work for family > work for me. Rhyming unintentional, but pretty fantastic.
 

Liana new baby
Meet Liana!

But now, the baby and I have found a sort of rhythm, I’m not so terribly sleep deprived, and I am back to not getting paid… Which honestly kind of sucks, but at least it gives me time to do this again.

So we just celebrated various holidays—in my family, we do Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a light version of Hanukkah… and you know, a parents’ version of New Year’s Eve, which consists of saying, “Hey, it’s New Year’s Eve,” going to bed at 9:00, and waking up in the morning saying, “Hey, Happy New Year.”

A Gift That Improved My Marriage

My focus on this post is going to be our recent Christmas gift exchange, and how it affected my marriage, helping me be kinder to my husband.

A long time ago, I wrote about the best advice my mom ever gave me about marriage. You can read about that later, but I’ll tell you briefly, the jist of it is that we have to appreciate each other.

Well, after this past Christmas, I have a piece of advice of my own. And honestly, I have heard it before. But it is so valuable and so easily lost when we are involved in just making it through each day as parents to young children.

Continue reading “Giving the Gift of Play”

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The Best Marriage Advice I Ever Received

My mom, like most moms, gives me loads of advice. Much of it is about marriage. Thankfully, she’s not annoying about it. Maybe that’s why we’re still so close. 🙂

I usually take her advice seriously, because I know that she is a very happy person and has a lot to offer in the way of wisdom. I don’t subscribe to every single thing she says—who does?

But this one piece of marriage advice has stuck with me, and I swear by it:

Express gratitude for the things your spouse does, no matter how routine, no matter how small.

Why do I put stock in my mom’s marriage advice?

My parents have been married for 37 years.

Yeah. THIRTY. SEVEN.

happy parents
Aw, aren’t they cute?

To someone who’s been married a measly 5 (almost 6) years, this sounds like forever. And a half.

Not only are they still married after all this time, they’re like blissfully, disgustingly, still-holding-hands-and-cuddling-on-the-couch happy. And they seem to get happier with each passing year.

It’s kind of amazing, really.

What’s really amazing is that they’ve weathered some of the harshest of storms, somehow. They came out of the storms better than ever.

So, I think there is a lot of value in listening to her when she doles out marriage advice. Admittedly, I do brush off some of her ideas because they can sometimes be a little “50s housewife” for me, but this one really makes sense!

I talk a lot about modeling for your kids . . .

And model, they have.

For as long as I can remember, “Thank you for [doing the dishes],” has been a commonly-spoken phrase in my parents’ home. Usually it’s accompanied by a small kiss.

Yeah I know . . . as their kid, it’s totally gross to witness! But as an observer of a healthy marriage, it’s a super-important gesture.

The gratitude, followed by physical affection, keeps their bond firmly intact on a daily basis.

kissing couple
Ugggh. Get a room, guys.

What it looks like in my marriage

As my husband and I have settled into a routine with caring for our home and caring for our son, routine (and non-routine) gratitude has become more important than ever.

It’s so easy to take your partner for granted, and it’s so, super easy to feel like you’re being taken for granted!

So, in my marriage, there are really two important parts to heeding my mom’s excellent advice:

1. Be aware.

I make a concerted effort to be aware of what’s happening in our home, and I try to acknowledge when my partner does something that makes our lives happier, easier, or just keeps the flow going.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as saying, “Thank you for being such a great partner.” That might sound silly, but in my mind it’s really important. I want Josh to know that I truly value everything he does in our relationship, and that I see our marriage as a partnership—that I don’t feel that either of us carries more than our fair share of the load.

2. Speak up.

If I am feeling unappreciated, I have to say something before that feeling turns to resentment. This involves a lot of introspection, because resentment builds quickly and without warning.

As with everything I write about on this blog, this aspect of our marriage is absolutely a work in progress. I’m sure it’s something we will never actually get perfect.

• There are days when I stand in the kitchen and visibly and audibly cringe at the way Josh loads the dishwasher: “Aack! If you don’t turn the big spoon upside down, it will collect water and gunk and be totally nasty!!”

Oops. Gratitude fail.

• There are days when I explode in a fury of tears, claiming that I am completely unappreciated for all of the things I do in this house.

Oops. I let it get too far, and didn’t talk about it soon enough. Martyr alert! Martyr alert!!!

But the point is that we are trying. And I really think it makes a huge difference.

One Last Thing

Since I just love to shove statistics and studies at you in my blog posts, I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know that many experts also tout the awesomeness of gratitude in marriage! You can read some of these opinions here, here, and here. You’re welcome. 🙂

What’s your take? Do you practice gratitude in your marriage? How does it work for you?

What is the best piece of marriage advice you’ve gotten?

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Why I Won’t Ask About Your Family Plan

It’s not that I don’t care about your family. I do.

If I know you, your family is super important to me. I absolutely love hearing your stories and swapping tales of bliss, humor, and frustration.

If I don’t know you, I know your family is important to you, and I’d love to chat about it.

So, what’s stopping me from asking you about your family plan?

Continue reading “Why I Won’t Ask About Your Family Plan”

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NEVER Talk to Strangers?

The other day I was talking with one of my best friends, when the topic (as it often does) turned to Adventures in Childrearing. Specifically, we were talking about how our kids are starting to ask the tough questions. As interesting as it is to see our little babies grow into these critically-thinking mini-people, it can be really, really tricky when they ask questions that have deep, and sometimes disturbing, answers.

In these early years, they’re still so little.

How much should we really say? We have to walk a fine line between totally glossing over something that deserves to be discussed and overwhelming them with unnecessary, sometimes scary, information.

The question that really got my friend and I thinking and talking was that of “stranger danger.”
Continue reading “NEVER Talk to Strangers?”

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Help! My Kid Likes Me Best!

Hey! My kid likes me best. Isn’t that awesome?

Wait. A. Second.

This is actually not awesome. At all.

If you’re the one your kid likes best, I’m sure you get what I’m saying. If you don’t feel me yet, check out this scenario:

It’s nearing bedtime and you’ve spent the day doing all kinds of parenting tasks: preparing and serving meals, brushing teeth, putting on and taking off shoes, providing potty assistance, playing cars, playing superheroes, playing more cars and more superheroes, and so on. You are tired. You say, “Daddy needs to help you get into your pajamas now.” This is met with a flood of tears and screams of “You do it! I want Mommy to do it!!” 

Ugh.

Not only is it exhausting, it’s also heartbreaking.

Is there a way to guide children toward being kinder to the parent who is not the “preferred” one? How can we do it without making it into an awkward situation every time?

Continue reading “Help! My Kid Likes Me Best!”

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When Mother’s Day Isn’t a Big Deal

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means in my family.

I’m wondering if anyone else out there is like me—a total oddball when it comes to holidays like this.

Almost every day lately, I am bombarded with Pinterest pins, blog posts, emails, and Facebook posts about the “5 Best Gifts for Mom on Mother’s Day” or “Check Out These Unique Mother’s Day Gifts!”

Friends and media personalities talk about their plans to take Mom out to a nice brunch and give her flowers and chocolate.
Hmm. Well, I think my family is weird. We don’t do that stuff. I don’t remember the last time I got my mom a Mother’s Day gift, or even a card.
Continue reading “When Mother’s Day Isn’t a Big Deal”

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Opening Up About Anxiety

Ever since I was in fifth grade, I’ve suffered from moderate anxiety and depression. (Interestingly, the National Institute of Mental Health notes that the average age at which people begin to suffer from anxiety is eleven years old.) In my case, the depression usually follows an episode of high anxiety.

In this post, I’m going to delve into my own struggles and explain why I (and others) think it’s worthwhile to talk about them. I’ve noticed that there’s been a movement lately to get people talking about mental illnesses, to bring individual experiences out into the light in an effort to remove the stigma. I think that sharing our internal struggles with others is a kindness to ourselves, but is also a kindness to those who may feel alone.

Continue reading “Opening Up About Anxiety”

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