Category: parenting

 

~ Guest Post By Emily Allen ~

I stood in the back of a women’s conference session with six-month old baby (my first) on my hip. A content, but increasingly active baby, I swayed with her and nibbled the side of her neck every few minutes so she’d light up and giggle at me, batting me with her chubby hands. A few feet away, an older woman whom I greatly respect, who has always been warm and encouraging whispered to me, “Enjoy her now while she is little and sweet. Before you know it, she’ll be driving you up the wall, and you might not even like her.”

I nearly gasped. How dare she say such a thing?

I smiled awkwardly and offered a courtesy laugh, but I could not fathom such a day would come when I would be anything but smitten with this darling little curly-haired creature and absolutely everything she did. I was in the honeymoon phase of mothering; a new mom just beyond the challenging newborn days (my baby slept mostly through the night by this point), but still quite unaware of how demanding parenting becomes as a child grows.

Five more babies came after her, and as each of them reached new milestones, so arrived new perspective. Read More…

You guys, September is here!

(I like to start out my letters to you by stating something boring and obvious. It just really gets those creative juices flowing, you know?)

But do you know what this means?

It means Fall is here!

Isn’t Fall just the best?

It’s my absolute favorite time of year.

Not because of pumpkin spice (ewe) or the cooler temps (yes please) or even all the football (I’m a little peeved after losing in my fantasy league last year. I was literally The Biggest Loser. I now drive with a license plate of shame).

No, I love fall because it is the biggest re-set of the year.

I loooooove me a fresh start.

All the things get an overhaul. The schedule, the routine, the bedtimes, the… okay I just realized that was three different ways to say basically the same thing. So I guess my favorite part of of Fall is just the fact that I get my structured schedule back. Sue me.

Over here in southern Oregon the kids don’t go back to school until Sept. 5th, which is apparently like, an entire month later than the rest of the world? I don’t get it. Not only are we always behind because of time zones, we’re also behind in just about everything else. Which is why fidget spinners only became a thing for us like, five minutes ago. There’s probably already a new Taylor Swift song out that we don’t even know about yet…

Anyway, I’ll just be honest and admit that normally by the last week of August I am so ready for my kids to go back to school. Like, packing-up-their-backpacks-on-a-Saturday-even-though-school-doesn’t-start-until-Tuesday-ready.

I start off the summer feeling like Leslie Knope on a Monday morning- full of hope and good intentions…

but then I end the summer a lot more like Sunglasses Amy, trying to care that she’s supposed to be hosting the Oscars right now. Read More…

In a couple of days I’ll be hitting the road with my best friend (the other Amber) and all of our kids for the long-awaited Road-trip of 2017.

It’s a tradition we started 5 summers ago, after reading stories from one of our favorite authors (winky face to you, Melanie Shankle) about the adventures and memories that came from doing the same thing with her best friend and their kids every year.

We loved the idea so much that we started our own version of the tradition: No husbands. No plane rides over oceans. No babysitters. No fancy Pinterest-worthy handcrafted car-entertainment. Just 2 Ambers, 5 kids, and the open road. Actually, this year we’ll have 6 kids because one of them has reached teenager status and officially needs a friend to survive a long car ride with “the littles”.

Every year the Road Trip is the best of times:imageimage

And the worst of times:

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But it never fails to be the highlight of our kids’ summer and the thing we all talk about for the rest of the break.

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One year the car broke down.

One year we promised to take the kids to the famous Sea Glass Beach, got lost on an 11 hour tour of the coastline, finally discovered that the beach was too dangerous because of high tides, and settled on getting ice cream as our “fun” for the day.

One year Amber was kept awake all night long for two nights in a row, driven crazy by the faintest sound of a Mariachi band that she assumed was outside her window (because that’s normal…?) but it turned out that the radio next to her bed was set to the Spanish station on the lowest volume.

One year my 6-year-old son lost his ever-loving mind in an Oscar-worthy meltdown at Disneyland because he was terrified of Johnny Depp- a fact we were all unaware of until we were boarding the ride for Pirates of the Caribbean and he literally tried to jump off the boat in a mix of terror and fury.

This year we’ve got Yosemite on the docket, then we’ll head to a random water park in a little town called Gilroy, which is apparently famous for it’s garlic production… So basically Gilroy Gardens will either be really cool or really lame, and I guess we’ll just have to find out when we get there. (Sidenote: “Gilroy Gardens” is actually harder to say than you’d think, so now we just choose from “Gilmore Girls”, “Bilbo Baggins”, “Gilroy Bilbo”, “Guru Gardens” or any other wildly incorrect but fun to say pairing of words.

After GooGoo Gardens we’ll head to Santa Cruz and Capitola for the last couple of days of our trip where we’re guaranteed some beach fun and delicious pastries from our favorite little cafe there, aptly named The Buttery. We’ve made it a point to stop there almost every single year, BECAUSE BUTTER.

When all else fails, we always have The Buttery.

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I guess you could say we’ve learned a few things about road-tripping the hard way over the years, so we thought we’d share a few insider tips, in case you’re hitting the road with your littles this summer too.

  1. Whatever number of water bottles you think you’ll need for a long car ride- double it.  This will also double the number of potty stops, but by God, we can’t let them go thirsty.
  2. Crossing the street with children is the equivalent of crossing the street with 5 drunks. Proceed with caution.
  3. Never underestimate the power of candy. Also never underestimate the power of promising a “surprise” even when you have no idea what that “surprise” is yet.
  4. If you’re wearing flip-flops in the vicinity of little kids, your toes will be stepped on multiple times a day. You will be expected not to mind this.
  5. Anytime after hour 7 in the car, there will be psychotic bursts of hysteria: laughing and gleefully shrieking one minute, crying and wailing the next. The kids may do this also.

Good luck, go with God, and, wish us luck on our next adventure!

I’ll let you know how it goes….


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While our kids played in the next room, my friend and I stood in her kitchen, sipping coffee and talking about our dreams- in hushed tones peppered with nervous laughter, as if the very topic was somehow taboo.

Frivolous.

Indulgent.

Maybe even selfish?

“I feel like I’ve lost pieces of myself since having kids…” She spoke quietly, almost to herself, but her words echoed loudly inside my own heart.

I knew exactly what she meant.

I think in an honest moment, many of us would admit we do.

Motherhood, especially in those early years, can be an engulfing experience. It’s a deeply beautiful, life-giving (literally), and fulfilling role that some of us have always dreamt of, but there can be moments when it feels as if motherhood and the minutia of the day might swallow our identity whole. Like we’re constantly needed yet rarely seen.

We’re busy doing those million and one little things that we worry don’t matter, even while knowing, deep in our hearts they do. We teach, we train, we pray, we worry, we kiss, we rock, we soothe, we comfort, we’re filled up and emptied clear out 100 times in a day. We lose sleep and gain access to chambers of our hearts we never knew existed. We’re driven to the edge of our sanity and then pulled back again in one suddenly tender moment.

We ride that rollercoaster of fear and worry, pride and dismay, wonder and bafflement, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

We love our life.

And yet…

We wonder about those pieces of ourselves that seem to have disappeared. Our audacity, our playfulness, our ability to dream. They don’t call. They don’t send flowers. They just slipped unceremoniously out the back door.

Will they ever come back? Read More…

I’m not sure where you find yourself reading this, but over here in Oregon, we are still smack dab in the middle of a Snowpocolypse.

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And after 23 days of straight togetherness with my little people there are only two things I have to say about this:

  1. Oregon, you are beautiful to look at. Stunning, even. You are such a show off with your wild mysterious rivers, your wide open prairies, and your jutting snow-capped mountains. I love you. You’re gorgeous.
  2. But if you don’t calm down with the snow and the cancelled school days I am going to move away and never look back. I hear Texas is real nice this time of year. I’ll do it, I swear.

Read More…

By the time you read this, some of you have already enjoyed weeks of your littles being back in school.

It’s okay. It’s fine. I am not jealous of you.

It’s something I’ve learned to deal with, living in our time zone over here in the Pacific Northwest. The views are stunning, the air is crisp and clear, the rivers are wild and mysterious. But living life on some kind of delayed loop from the rest of the world really bites sometimes.

It seems that %80 of humans get to experience most of life a solid 2-3 hours ahead of us Oregonians. When it comes time for anything really important, like election coverage, the Bachelor finale, or one of the precious few new Game of Thrones episodes, I’ve learned the hard way to STAY OFF THE INTERNET. Otherwise it all gets spoiled.

Also, don’t judge me for putting the election in the same category as junk TV. This is where we are in 2016.

Adding insult to injury, everyone and their Aunt Fay also gets to be on a school schedule that is roughly an entire semester ahead of us. Every single May I see pictures of my internet friends’ kids doing cannonballs into pools with Hasthag-FirstPoolDay while I am counting down the 17 lunches I still have to pack with Hasthag-DoUncrustablesCountAsLunch?

Every single August, when we are finally finding our summer groove, everyone else is posting pictures of their littles holding tiny chalkboards with their new grade written on it, or pictures of their own feet on a charming brick path next to the one maple leaf that has managed to dislocate itself from it’s home and fall to the ground, indicating that Fall has indeed arrived.

What’s the deal with that anyways? Everyone needs to calm down already with all this “Fall in August” talk. August is not Fall! August is definitively a SUMMER month. Can we please sort this out, because it seriously messes with my head and gives me a severe case of FOMO.

Just when I think that I am truly enjoying the days at home with my littles, and patting myself on the back for ‘counting my blessings’ and ‘soaking up the moments’, I see a picture of some first grader with a backpack on and I start sweating and rethinking my whole angle. Read More…

Well the third annual Road-trip is officially on the books and I can honestly say it’s been the best one so far. Which is saying a lot, because we spent more time in the car than any other year.

32 accumulative hours, to be exact.

Not that I’m counting or anything.

As I told you guys last week, Amber and I decided to go big this year and brave the 12 hour drive to Disneyland. Which was really more like a 16 hour drive because CHILDREN. We spent 4 eight-hour days in the car (round-trip) and I’m happy to report that the kids handled it amazingly well. There was no melting down. There was no fighting. There weren’t even any complaints of hogging air-vents, or “she won’t stop looking at me!” like we’ve experienced in years past

And bonus: we listened to the entire Hamilton musical on the way, because what the heck else are you supposed to do in a car for 8 hours? Now, I should pause here to admit that I have been extremely resistant to all of the hype surrounding Hamilton. I had no intention of getting sucked in. I had no intention of caring at all. I certainly had no intention of becoming one of those people who are always blithering on about a musical and insisting other people listen to it.

But you guys.

It’s so good.

It really is incredible.

I had chills more than once listening to it.

It was kind of like that one time I thought I’d casually watch just the first episode of Scandal, and the next thing I knew it was 3am and I was in too deep to ever turn back. I’m afraid that Hamilton, much like Scandal, is a polarizing trend. You’re either in, or you’re out. There is no gray area. Read More…

Well I don’t want to jinx anything by saying it out loud, but I do believe things are finally quieting down around here. Our schedules have been so busy for the last two months that I’ve landed in July and I’m not even sure how I got here.

I’m entirely disoriented but I only have 5 days to get my bearings, because the most important week of summer (as far as the kids are concerned) is almost upon us.

It’s here, you guys.

It’s time for The Annual Ambers Road-trip. Read More…

If you know me well at all, you know that there’s nothing I love more than sleeping in. Maybe that makes me sound like a lazy, slothful woman but I may as well own it because it’s the honest-to-God truth. If you ask Husband about how much I love my sleep and he’ll shake his head and mutter something about how he’ll “never understand.”

Husband could never possibly understand though, because he has the terrible misfortune of being physically incapable of sleeping in. On the rare occasion that he can manage to keep his body down for more than 7 hours, it punishes him by waking him up with a terrible headache that lasts for half the day. He may actually be allergic to sleeping in. It’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.

He’s not only up with the birds each day, but adding insult to injury, he also wakes up with the sun shining out of his butt. I mean, really. He’s relentlessly cheery in the mornings. Don’t ask me about it or I’ll just shake my head and mutter something about how “I’ll never understand.” Read More…

As you guys know, Husband and I have deemed this our Summer Of Fun.

Sounds amazing, right?

Don’t we sound like such cool, carefree parents? (Don’t answer that. It was rhetorical.)

Well it’s officially our first day of Summer break over here, and if I’m being honest I should tell you that we’re already playing it fast and loose with our definition of “fun”. If you count getting woken up by an early-riser (why, God?), putting out a fight over who gets the last of the Frosted Mini Wheats, answering 47 questions about the plan for the day in a way that does not dash all hope but also can’t later be misconstrued as “you promised!”, and paying bills all before 9:30 am as “fun”, then YES, we are having so much fun already.

The thing is, we did deem this the Summer of Fun, but we don’t exactly have a mile-long list of riveting activities to keep the children entertained for the next 85 days. (I like to call them “the children” every now and then, because it makes me feel fancy.)

Other than a couple trips to the beach, a camping trip with friends (in a trailer, because air-conditioning and coffee pots), and the annual road trip that Amber and I take with our kids, we don’t have much on the calendar.

And you know what?

THAT is fun.

The lure of freedom and all the possibility it represents is the most thrilling thing in the world to me right now.

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For us, The Summer of Fun is mostly about choosing to consciously find and appreciate the fun in regular-life moments. There will be lots of swimming and Popsicles, outdoor movies and late bedtimes, family game-nights and spontaneous picnics in the park.

I guess what I mean is that we will not be standing on our heads and dancing like monkeys in an effort to keep the kids happy. Because everyone knows that ‘keeping the kids happy’ is the biggest booby-trap in the entire world. They would ride that wave until we are fully capsized on the Sea Of Parents-Who-Died-Trying. Read More…