My family went on vacation recently. We had lists and charts outlining everything we needed and how to fit it into our allotted luggage. Packing for any vacation can be stressful, but when you throw kids into the mix it’s downright overwhelming. Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, carry on bags are arguably the most important bags that you’ll pack. They will be your lifeline to sanity and can make or break the travel portion of family vacations. Throughout this process, there were 4 things I did that I would recommend for any family travel.
I feel like it was just yesterday that my son was still latched onto me breastfeeding and I researching on my phone looking into all the different schooling options he would have when he finally reached that age. In hindsight, this is comical because it seems like I blinked and then there we were last year sending him off on his very first day of preschool. And now, I have blinked again and here we are about to start his second year of school in a Junior Kindergarten program at a local private school.
I have spent much of the last year working on simplifying, minimizing, and organizing our lives and our home. About a year or so ago, I decided that I had had enough with all the extra stuff or “fluff” as I like to call it. I felt that we were consuming too much, purchasing too much, and holding onto things for no real reason. In an effort to find a bit more peace of mind for my family and to show my son what is truly important and worth valuing in this life, I have worked very hard to clear through the clutter and focus on the things we really need. Figuring out what we really need and what constitutes fluff for our family is an everyday learning process, and with back to school upon us it has given me a fantastic opportunity to re-evaluate what is REALLY essential for going into the new school year.
No matter how much I keep hoping these boys will stop growing so fast, each year seems to come and go, flying by faster than the last. As a full-time working mom of three active and energetic boys, the hustle and bustle of getting ready for a new school year has already begun. Between soccer sign-ups, school supply shopping, and a baby on the way, this year is going to be exciting and busier than ever as my oldest enters 2nd grade, my middle child heads to kindergarten, and the youngest begins his adventures into the realm of extracurricular activities… oh yes, not to mention the new addition arriving in February.
Trying to keep track of everyone’s schedule – school and extracurricular activities – while working full-time, making three healthy, organic, and edible meals for five people a day, and getting anywhere on time requires patience, planning, and a lot of preparation. That said, it is always fun and exciting to jump into a new school year watching my boys thrive socially and academically while discovering the joy that comes from learning.
Raising children is a full time job. Raising children on top of holding down a part-time job (or jobs!) from home means life is often chaotic, stressful, extremely fast-paced, but all around rewarding. For some, holding down a side job while being a stay at home mom means bringing in extra income needed for day to day life. For others, it’s a form of holding onto one’s self – the part of yourself that holds onto childhood dreams, career aspirations, and passions outside the realm of child-rearing. It’s a part of how we stay whole, and albeit sometimes arguably, sane.
My little family was established, for the most part, in a suburbia outskirt of Denver, Colorado. About a year and a half ago, our family packed up and moved back to my hometown in rural Michigan to embrace and embark on a new lifestyle. I jokingly call our Michigan home a “farm,” however, that’d be kind of a stretch as of now. Our dream is to one day have a fairly self sufficient home, with little bits of modern technology thrown into the mix (like WiFi is an absolute must-have, as well as Netflix and a climate controlled atmosphere that is constantly 70 degrees indoors… well, I think you get my gist. I’m kind of a princess in those ways.)
What is the first thing that pops in your mind when you hear bachelorette party? Budget? Organization? Creating a plan? Maybe these aren’t your first thoughts, but if you are the maid of honor or designated organizer of a bachelorette party, you will soon realize all the details don’t just fall into place. Well, not without hard work, planning ahead, and careful attention to detail. Lucky for you, moms are natural planners, organizers, and master party creators, so we’ve compiled some tips to help you plan a “hashtag worthy” awesome bachelorette party.
Sending my first baby off to kindergarten is a huge milestone for our family, finally concluding the end of toddlerhood, the first test of how well did I prepare her for the real world. Perhaps sending her to kindergarten is more than just a milestone: it’s her first flight in the big world. The biggest lesson she needs to learn doesn’t have to do with numbers, letters, or sight words – it is understanding this world is bigger than ourselves. A world that isn’t protected by Mommies and Daddies, where big sisters don’t chase all the monsters away, and little brothers aren’t always there to play – a world with confrontation, beautiful songs, and great sadness – a world that is hers for the taking.
As the events in Charlottesville unfolded, I know mothers everywhere wondered how to respond. Do you talk to your kids about what you believe? Do you talk to your kids about what those marching believe? How do your kids see you behave toward people different from you? What values are they tucking away in their little hearts? Is this something you even need to address with a child as young as five years old? I can’t answer those questions for you, but I can tell you how I responded as a southern Christian mama in an effort to try and process it all for myself.
Back to school shopping as a mom of all girls means we are in constant motion to find the cutest, the hippest, the brightest, and the sparkliest shoes, clothing, and gear stores have to offer. As a self-proclaimed “dress yourself to express yourself” mom, my girls often look like they spent some time in a Frozen-themed glitter factory. And most days, I don’t mind that. But this is the first year that everyone will be in some type of “school” (big kid school and preschool), and I feel like I need to step up my game in the back to school arena. Don’t get me wrong – they will still be rocking dinosaur dresses and cowgirl boots with a bright pink backpack – but at least they will have some of the coolest gear around.
I’m separated… from my husband of would-have-been nine years this past spring. There’s no need to go into the gory details that led to the most tumultuous time in my young life of 29 years. If you’ve been married for any significant length of time, then you probably have a good idea of what can go wrong. I didn’t expect this, though. I wasn’t the wife who one day woke up and stopped loving her husband, or who decided she wanted different things, or just hated his quirks and decided to jump ship. I was side swiped. Never saw it coming. Until it did… and for the last 12 months, I’ve been trying to understand what went wrong, baffled how I never saw parts of it beginning to unravel, and coming to grips with what my new future is to hold, which still is a mysterious black hole looming in front of me.
I’ve been mentally preparing myself for this day for years. My oldest child is finally old enough to go to kindergarten.
With so many schooling options in our area, choosing where to send my daughter to school hasn’t been simple. However, I’ve ultimately decided to send my daughter to a public charter school. With that decision, I’m heading into this school year with a much more organized and uniformed approach than I’ve used over the past five years. However, I think it’s safe to say that we are both super excited to see where this year will take us.
There seems to be a universal misconception out there that every time each one of us has a baby we are automatically ready or wanting to have another. We have all heard the questions…
- “When are you going to have another?”
- “Are you going to get Baby X a little brother or sister?”
- “When are you going to have that boy/girl?”
In the daily struggle of what to wear, how many days would you say you end up in a comfy and stretchy pair of leggings and a plain tee shirt? We mean, some days doesn’t it just feel like the true “mom uniform”? While we’re sure we all enjoy getting dressed up, sometimes as moms it is just easiest to grab, put on, and go be a superhero. You are the packer of lunches, lover of amazing and spirited little ones, cleaner of toilets, late night researcher of everything parenthood related, and a just all around hardworking mama. Shouldn’t your daily t-shirt collection get a boost from a few companies that make products designed JUST FOR YOU? We certainly think so. Check out these amazing graphic tee companies who are certainly upping the anti for the perfect mom shirts!
#IMOMSOHARD – we mean, what mom doesn’t?? Well, a couple of moms decided to grab a camera, set the stage in the playroom, and talk about how they were screwing it all up – hard! Meet Jen Smedley and Kristen Hedley who discuss the ongoing cycle of criticism, whether real or perceived, that causes moms to lose their confidence. They paired up with Yoplait yogurt to discover new research that suggests moms are internalizing the judgment and even changing the way they are parenting as a result. To judge or not to judge, what’s funny about that? Well, if it has anything to do with these two… you might be surprised!
“Are you done yet?” After a cordial hello how are you, greeting, we’re then met with that direct and curious question my family hears quite often. Who in this day and age has a family with 9 children?! Sure, you could watch the amazing families on TV who are famous for their multiple children and the lives they lead, but what about the families in your own home town? We’re just like the neighbors next door, but we happen to celebrate more birthdays, more chairs around the dining room table, and believe it or not… more love and compassion to feel for each other.