Nine Years

4:59 a.m.

Around this time nine years ago, I was in active labor. I knew I was having a son. I knew his name would be Tobias. I knew his crib was at home, set up and ready.

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Crafting a Creative Kid: How to Raise an Artist

My eight-year-old son is the creation I am most proud of, and becoming a mom at nineteen & figuring this all out as I go along is no doubt my greatest adventure of all.

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When I studied writing, I learned with the rest to “write what I know.” This is why this is not, nor could it ever be a Mommy Blog. Read: I have no idea what I’m doing. Half of what I know about raising a family I learned from twentieth century sitcoms like Family Matters, Full House and The Brady Bunch. No lie.

Sometimes my husband asks, “Why do you bake him cookies for after school? That’s a dessert, not a snack.” And well, that’s why. Leave it to June Cleaver. I cringe when people tell me I’m a good mom, because it invalidates my constant negative self talk and second guessing myself. What do they know? They haven’t seen me loose my temper!

That being said, as I meet more children that are my son’s age, I find that he’s pretty darn creative. When he’s not working on his studies or doing his household chores, he’s making something, no doubt.

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Jamming out in the basement while making clay sculptures

Sometimes people ask me how I pull him away from video games long enough to make things and how he’s so creative. I don’t think this is something that’s hardwired, and there’s a few things that I’ve done to facilitate his  artistic attempts. Continue reading

Birdwatching in El Yunque National Forest and Loquillo Beach

Spring has certainly sprung over in our little corner of Coastal Connecticut! For me, that means spring cleaning every nook and cranny, yard work, and enjoying the heck outta the outdoors. But! I can’t let one more day go by without sharing the final full day we spent in Puerto Rico–it’s been a week and a half since we were there.

The visitor center at El Yunque National Forest was great- all outdoors, but well covered. There were many exhibits on the wildlife, Rainforest preservation, and we caught an English version of the documentary that shared all of this information in a way that our seven year old could bear.

El Yunque is the only forest in the United States National Park system that is a tropical Rainforest. With my obsession with National Parks (Remember, I eloped in one?), it’s suitable that we showed up to el unique El Yunque during the National Park Service Centennial.

Visitors Center for El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico Continue reading

My Face Hurts.

Deciding to become a stay-at-home mom was a long, drawn out process that was fraught with worry and hesitation. In May of 2013, after a few long and hard years of going to college while caring for a child, most of which was during a divorce, I graduated from a four year university. Those school years were plagued with doubt, and I was constantly terrified of how disappointed everyone would be if I couldn’t get a job after those years of leaning on others for support. I took the second job I was offered. Then, I stumbled upon an opportunity that was better for me and my home life, and jumped at it. Working from home, part time, for 150% better pay than the first. Perfect.

It was only a couple of months in before I realized how unsuited I was for the gig. I was disorganized, I lacked passion about my subject matter, and I lacked self-motivation. Week after week, I was suffering from self-imposed stress because I was focusing more on my duties as a homemaker and a mother than on being an employee. I was a failure. One day, in tears, I lamented to Mark, “I could climb the corporate ladder, I could be an entrepreneur, but nothing will give me as much satisfaction as raising my kids!” Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for me. Continue reading

Thankful.

Never am I a stranger to gratitude, but still, this past week that surrounded Thanksgiving precisely encompassed all that I am currently most thankful for.

On Monday, I spent my day creating crafts and keeping the calm with preschoolers at the local Women’s Shelter as they prepared for a special family meal with their mothers. Directly after that, I rushed to the store and then home to self-consciously make dinner for a mother of Tobias’ friend from school, a chef whom I deem a friend of mine, that recently underwent surgery. Then, I rushed back home to make dinner for my own family, though that meal stopped short at hum drum.

Tuesday, I chaperoned Tobias’ field trip to the zoo, where the children acted more bestial than anything in a cage, a boy from another group chanting to me that I’m a “fat girl” while students in mine are running aimlessly in the crowded zoo haze. All while cursing the teachers who planned a field trip when many students are out and about for the week.

On Wednesday, I visited a friend of mine for over thirteen years. She recently left her husband, and is in a similar situation as mine four years ago, except with two kids and just beginning her career, rather than one while in school. Tobias brought them some of his toys as gifts for their new apartment, but I had a hunch that they were just fine with their new minimalist lifestyle. (Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.)

We woke up extra early on Thanksgiving Thursday so that Mark, Tobias and I could all run a Turkey trot, I Pinterest-failed a baked cornucopia, threw it out, then delivered my disappointingly under-cooked pies to my mother’s house, who was hosting a Thanksgiving that included my ex mother-in-law and my new mother-in-law. Prior to our departure, Tobias and I both started feeling unwell, and I spent my entire Friday in bed–not figuratively–aside from eating a bowl of soup and using the bathroom, I kept my body in that same spot while Tobias wallowed in his own sickness and mind-numbingly watched his tablet computer.

I had a resurgence of energy after Mark brought me breakfast and coffee on Saturday, so I went to the salon to take off the terrible acrylic nails I was reluctant to have, had my nails painted, then proceeded to do yard work for hours on end. (Which would seem to most to be a terrible idea.) Today, Sunday, Mark woke me up before dawn to say goodbye, for he’s on a business trip for the good part of the week. I finished the book I began reading during my indisposition, then proceeded to flip flop between tasks all day, not getting anything done rather than deeply researching trips I’m taking four and eight months away.

Trust me, it all relates. Drum roll, please. The trite phrase you’ve been waiting for….

I’m thankful for…

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The 3 Best Comebacks for Snarky Moms

Moms are conditioned to put their guard up, beginning in the early days of pregnancy. From the first signs of a baby bump, all-knowing and well-seasoned mothers and grandmothers are more than happy to delve out advice for what worked for them, and are unaware of the critical glances they give as you state that you’re doing the opposite. We’re all self conscious of whether or not we’re doing the right thing by our children, so when someone challenges it by taking a different route, panic ensues, and defense mode leads to rude expressions and disapproving comments.

I get it, it’s a nerve-wracking job to take on. Just when you’ve convinced yourself that something isn’t a big deal, there’s a Dr. Freud or a Dr. Sears to let you know that you’re potentially ruining your kids’ psyches. Whoops!

Here’s the thing: parenting isn’t a competition. Here’s another: you’re not right, and neither is the other person–there’s no right way to do it. And something we all need to be reminded of: Your [honest and truthful] best is good enough.

Not everyone has been reminded of those things, so when you come across someone that’s being snarky, here are some of my favorite comebacks: Continue reading