Category Archives: parenting

The Bean Finds Her Voice

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The Bean has been playing lacrosse for over 3 years. The first few years, she loved it – the physicality of it, the speed, the great kids she played along side. Then last year, she started to make noises about not wanting to play anymore.

The thing about the Bean is she *never* wants to play anything. She is happiest in our house, Facetiming friends or playing on her phone – but, 9 times out 10, when she gets out of the house to do whatever activity she’s been dragged to, she’s happy to be there. So, when she started saying she didn’t want to play lacrosse, I pretty much ignored her and I signed her up for the season anyhow, figuring once she got in the swing of it, it wouldn’t be a big deal.

<Hi, my name is Heather. Evidently I’m new to this parenting thing.>

When lacrosse season started, Bean had to miss the first few weeks of practice due to conflicts. She kept telling us she didn’t want to play but we kept assuring her she’d love it and not to worry. I figured she’d fall into the same routine of complaining and then being fine once she was actually there.

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Hahahahahahaha….in theory, yes. In reality? Not so much.

 

Finally the first practice she could attend arrives and I knew I was in for a battle, but I figured within 5 minutes or so she’s be resigned and we’d be on our way.

Or…..not.

Me: Hey, you have practice tonight. Eat your dinner and we’ll head out in a bit.

Bean: I’m not going.

Me: Yes, you are – we’ve talked about this. You love lacrosse! Eat up and we’ll go!

Bean: I don’t like lacrosse and I’m not going- I told you I’m not playing this year.

Me: Yes, you are- you’ve made a commitment.

<This is normally where she cries. Once that doesn’t work,  she folds, grumpily gets ready and away we go to have a good night.>

Bean: (completely calm) No, I did not. YOU made the commitment. I told you I didn’t want to play, you signed me up anyhow. So the commitment is on you.

<Huh. Welllllll, this isn’t going to plan. She has a point, but I’ll be damned if I tell her that.>

Me: Either way, you’re on the team. They are expecting you – go get changed, we have to leave in a few.

Bean: No.

Me: (clearing losing here and more than a little flummoxed) Well, if you don’t get changed, I’ll take you in your school uniform. I don’t care.

Bean: Neither do I.  You can take me in my dress clothes – when I get there, I’m just going to tell the coach I don’t want to be there and sit on the bench. You can make me go, but you can’t make me play.

~*~*~*~

I always knew the Bean had a bigger back bone than most people. She’s been stubborn from day one and I know this trait will help her move mountains when she’s older. But now? Now, when she’s 11, I really just want her to do what I tell her to do. It would make *my* life a thousand times easier.

But did I really want to teach her that she has no voice now? Did I want to stifle her autonomy and force her to do something she really didn’t want to do – something I knew she didn’t want to do, but I signed her up for anyhow, ignoring her wishes? Do I want her to be a person that gives into what other people tell her to do just to make the other person happy?

Hell no!

I grew up with the philosophy that once you committed to something, you saw it through and have tried to raise my kids with the same mindset. But, in this case, she didn’t commit to something- she was 100% correct that the Hubs and I made that decision for her.

Sometimes, as a parent, it’s easy to make a proclamation and decide that the most important thing is to force your kids to do what you say.  You dig in your heels and decide that that decision is a hill you’re willing to die on. And sometimes, as a parent, you’re 100% correct and your kids just have to deal.

And other times you wise up and realize that raising a kick-ass kid with a mind of her own and the strength of her convictions is a thousand times more important….no matter how much you miss watching her play.

 

 

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13.

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Dear Scorch-

You turned 13 this month.

You are now a teenager.

I don’t know how that happened either, but it did. I swear it was last Mother’s Day that you came roaring into our lives…but it wasn’t, was it?

Before I became a Mom, all I really knew were babies and toddlers. Those were the ages of the kids I babysat for, the ones I liked the most. When I envisioned being a mom, I pictured chubby cheeked infants (which you were), sturdy-legged toddlers (also you) and that was about it. I didn’t give much thought to parenting a child, let alone a teen. I realize it seems silly when I write it out, but that’s the God’s honest truth.

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~*~*~

This year, you started 7th grade. You moved out of your small, protected Catholic school with 14 kids in your entire grade to the public middle school with 200 kids in your grade. You know your father and I battled about this – he wanted to send you to a Catholic school 45 minutes away to keep you safe and swaddled. And I did too- but the logistics just didn’t work so instead, I became the cheerleader for our local public school hoping hoping hoping you would thrive there, all the while so freaking nervous about it, I couldn’t sleep some nights.

When I think back to my middle school years, I just remember how precarious things were. Friendships were constantly shifting, bodies were morphing, voices were changing – nothing was static and, for someone like me, who loves to know what’s going on all the time, it was scary as all get out. But middle school in 1991 is very different than middle school in 2019 so I held out hope that your experience would be better than mine.

I warned you that things would change this year. Friendships may not be the same, dating was going to become a thing and expectations were going to be a lot higher. We established some ground rules, let you (little, slight, small YOU) join the modified football team and prayed things were going to be OK.

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And you know what? They weren’t OK.

They were amazing.

You, my funny, goofy, amazing kid, thrived in 7th grade. Yup, friendships were challenged, dating was a thing (not for you though – sorry, your parents are mean) and expectations were a lot higher – but you met them all. Except for that 43 in Orchestra- but you fixed that fast enough and took allllllllll the teasing that went along with it (because, really, who gets a 43 in Orchestra?!) with good humor and determination to do better. You learned how to schedule your time, take responsibility and make things happen.

You made new friends, learned a whole hell of a lot of new words, saw a lot of fights, decided both your father and I were cringy at various times during the year, learned that just because your friends “shipped” you with a girl doesn’t mean you have to date them, saw that the world is made up of a lot of different colors and sexualities and took advantage of a lot of the opportunities offered to you.

You have always been one of my favorite kids in the world, but, to my absolutely delight, you’re growing into one of my favorite people in the world.

~*~*~*~

So now, 7th grade is almost done and you’re 13. We’re seeing glimpses of the part of teenagedom we were warned about- the hormones, the dramatics, allllll the feelings. I know it won’t always be sunshine and rainbows, but I’m hoping we’ll keep talking to each other, sharing our experiences and working forward.  I’ve promised you this a million times – your family will always be the first to support you when you try new things, the first to correct you when you’re being a jerk and your safe place to land no matter what.

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Here’s what I hope for you in your 13th year:

  • Keep being kind. You’ve seen the kids that don’t have kindness in their lives this year – how they act, what they do. Don’t be that kid. Be the kid that makes sure people are OK and lend a helping hand. It costs you nothing, but it could mean the world to someone else.
  • Use your position to lift others up. Don’t ever punch down to make yourself feel better, you’re better than that.
  • Keep making new friends. The friends you’ve had forever- keep them close and cherish them. But don’t be afraid to meet new people too. Befriend the band kid, the art kid, the computer kid – they all have amazing stories to tell.
  • Hold on tight to your self-confidence. Know that you are worthy of good things and make smart decisions even if they aren’t popular decisions. Being a leader is freaking hard work – do it anyhow.
  • Take advantage of the opportunities school provides you. You’re going to a big public school with sports, groups and organizations. Explore them all to find your passion.

~*~*~*~

While I couldn’t have imagined raising a teen 16 years ago when we we started trying to expand our family, now I can’t stop being amazed over how very lucky I am to be doing so. I’m so excited for you, Scorch. It’s a privilege to watch you grow, knowing how many fun things are coming for you – new friends, first loves, learning to drive, going to dances, heart breaks, discovering what makes you happy, finding your true tribe, going to college.

So, here’s to 13. May it be your best year yet, my boy – and if it’s not, know that we’ll love you no matter what.

All my love,

Mom

 

 

 

Nope, Not the Cool Mom

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Back in the fall, I took Scorch to one of the varsity football games. He was settling into middle school and feeling like the big man on campus wearing his modified football jersey to hang out with all his friends under the lights. Oh, he thought he was hot stuff and he was feeling it…

…until I made him leave before the game was over because he had a 3 hour long practice starting the next day at 7 am.

He wailed, he pleaded, he tried to bargain – he was pissed at me like never before because I was making him leave early.  He was in SEVENTH GRADE and he was NOT A BABY and why was I SO MEAN?!!?  He ended his fit asking me if I wanted to be a COOL MOM because this was, unequivocally, not cool.

I'm not like a regular mom, I'm a cool mom

NOOOOOPE

~*~*~*

Fast forward 3+ months and Scorch, the Bean and I have had lots of conversation about the fact that I am not the cool mom, the Hubs isn’t the cool dad and we’re all OK with that.  Because right now, to my kids, being the cool mom means letting them do whatever they wants….and nope, not going to happen.

Here’s what kind of mom I am though:

  • I’ll be the mom that shows up. Games, recitals, plays, concerts – if my kids are in it, I’ll do my damnedest to be there. I might complain because it’s freaking freezing, unbearably hot, or boring as hell, but you’ll still see my ass parked in the stands without fail.
  • I’ll be the consistent mom. The kids might not like my rules, but they’ll know them. Their friends will know them. Heck, our neighbors will most likely know then when I yell them at the kids loudly (hint: I’ll never be the quiet mom). The rules won’t change, ensuring the kids will know what’s expected of them, and they’ll be expected to follow them.
  • That said, I won’t be the dictator mom. Rules will flex as the kids age – we’re all going to have to adjust. I’ll always be willing to hear the kids out in a respectful way – it may not change my mind, but they’ll never be discounted or ignored.
  • I’ll be the mom you can blame. Both kids know that I’m always happy to be thrown under the bus. If there is anything they don’t want to do, or feel uncomfortable with, they’ve been told that saying that their mom / dad will kill them is a very welcome excuse to give. I don’t care if my kid’s friends think we’re nuts, as long as my kids are safe and happy, make me out to be the bad guy as much as needed.
  • I’ll be the mom with the open door. I admit, the Hubs and I like a peaceful home and having a ton of tweens over is the exact opposite. It’s loud, chaotic and expensive as those kids can eat. And that’s 100% fine with me. My door will be open anytime the kids wants to have friends over. I want to be the house that my kid’s friends feel comfortable in because I know as they get older, my kids and their friends will need safe spaces. We’re it. Nope, we will never condone drinking or drugs ever, but need a break from your parents? Had a bad break up? Need a warm meal? My door is open.
  • I’ll be the mom you can talk to. My kids know that they can talk to be about anything and I’m there for it. Question about your body? Hit me with it. Friendship quandary? Let’s talk it through. Mad at a teacher/coach/friend? Unpack that drama. Sex, alcohol, drugs? Get it alllllll on the table. There is literally nothing that they can bring up that will embarrass me or shut us down. If they are willing to talk, I’m willing to listen. I may laugh like a loon with them, I may have to work really hard not to throw out advice – but I’m always here.
  • I’ll be the mom who is a vault. Admittedly, this is a new one for me. Before if my kids shared stuff with me and I repeated it, it wasn’t a big deal but now it is. So the kids and I have agreed that if we pinky swear on it, nothing will go past me unless the information involves someone getting hurt/hurting something else/self harming/doing illegal things. Those things are going to be shared with the appropriate adults, but the other stuff lives and dies with me.
  • I’ll be the mom who laughs – a lot. This age is hysterical, the kids are AMAZING and there is nothing wrong with having fun. I’m going to poke fun at kids, allow them to tease me and call out their friends as needed. It’s way too easy to take life too seriously especially as a teen. I’m here to point out the crazy and to laugh at it all with my kids – otherwise, what’s the point?!

 

Maybe one day I’ll earn some cool points, but I’m not losing any sleep over it if I don’t.

Middle School Joy

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School has been back in session for a few weeks now and, so far, the transition has been a smooth one. Bean is still in her beloved school – only this time – for the first time ever –  without her brother there with her. In her words, it’s amazing. And Scorch transitioned seamlessly from his tiny Catholic school to the much larger public school.

I think it helped that for the first year ever, we’re letting Scorch play tackle football. Trust me, we debated this decision over and over and over – but what finally got me to say yes is the fact that my kid thrives on a team. He soaks up everything about being a teammate-  having kids to hang out with, having a set schedule, being forced to manage his time. Football here meant summer conditioning sessions and practices that started the week before school started so he went into the new school already feeling like he belonged, which is a really good thing.

Last week, Scorch was supposed to have his first game so the Bean, Hubs and I went to the field. There was a tennis match going on below the football field and a cross country meet happening on the far side of the field. The Powder Puff game was going on after Scorch’s game, so the entire athletic area was packed. Warm up music was blaring and kids were hanging out in groups – teasing, laughing and carrying on. It was a loud, chaotic, fun community atmosphere.

It may be 22 year later, but damned if the sounds, sights and smells weren’t exactly the same as when I was in school.

I freaking loved my teen years. Not in a Glory Days way where I want to go back and relive those times again – but those years were a lot of fun. Sure, there was the typical drama that all teens go through – first loves, fights among friends, pushing boundaries and figuring things out – but overall, those years rocked.  And as I looked around at where my kids were going to be living out their teenage years, I became excited for them.

I know that being a teen today is a hell of a lot different than being a teen 20+ year ago, but I’d like to think that the foundational things aren’t that different. Social media adds a whole new levels to things, but at the core, middle school and high school years are about starting to figure out who you are and who your tribe is. It’s about exploring your interests, stretching your wings and taking those first steps to adulthood.

Sure, it can also be about drama and angst – but, thanks to social media and the news, it’s easy to think that’s all it’s about. But it’s not. It’s also about joy, friendship and crazy love. Come on???  Don’t you remember that first exhilarating car ride you took with your friends with no adults in the car? Finding new friends that you clicked with? Discovering a new activity that you loved? Riding the bus home from games, celebrating the big win? Taking class trips? Sneaking out of your house to meet your friends and getting away with it (or not- thanks, Mrs. Wilson!)? Picking out your outfit to your first formal dance?  The thrill of your first kiss?

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We called this our 90210 pose. Awkward as hell middle school years? You betcha. But I’m going to on vacation with these ladies next month to celebrate our 4oth birthdays!

*sigh* I want my kids to have all that and more. I want them to be 40 years old and look back on that crazy time with a smile on their face remembering amazing friends lost and the amazing friends still in their lives. I want them to laugh over the stupid things they did and realize how those years helped to make them into the amazing adults they will become.

So, instead of freaking out about all the horrible things that the media tells me lurks for my kids as they get older, I’m going to concentrate on all the awesome things that will also happen. My eyes will be open to the bad – I can’t pretend it’s not out there – but that fear won’t take away the joy that I know will be there too.

 

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Dear Bean-

You have been blessing this earth with your sassy attitude, funny personality and charm for a decade now.

Girl, you’re old.

How in the world did that happen? Aren’t babies supposed to stay babies? I think there is a law about that somewhere that you broke with all this growing up you’re doing.

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We were in FL back in March, on the beach in St. Augustine – you were all long, skinny, tanned limbs and my heart stopped just looking at the gorgeousness that is you.  Not just your physical features, but your sparkling eyes and loud laugh  – that was the moment I got a glimpse into you who you’d grow up to be and it was astounding.

~*~*~

You are still my mystery girl. Your brother and I are very similar- what you see is pretty much what you get. We like people, we like crowds and there are no such things as strangers- just friends we haven’t met.

You, on the other hand, are much more guarded. You keep your circle small, your friends close and list of things you love to do pretty damn small. Getting you to try new things is like pulling teeth and if you’re not sure you’ll be 100% successful or comfortable doing something- you’d really rather not.

Parenting you is sometimes one of the most challenging things I do  – and I’m so thankful for it.  You, my Bean, make my life a 1000x more interesting. You keep me on my toes, you show me a new way to look at things and you’re constantly wowing me with your intelligence and humor.  In short, I adore you.

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~*~*~*~

This past year was a great one for you. You rocked 4th grade- adoring your teacher, getting good grades and working hard. This year was the start of some serious girl drama as you discovered that have 2 BFFs is hard. But you ladies figured things out and learned a bit more about kindness, compromise and what being a friend is about.

You kept playing an instrument, even though you complained once a week about that. You played lacrosse again and killed it – even though you complained about that too. Your father and I have figured out that you’re going to complain about most things that take you out of the house- but once you’re there, you shine. You’re dedicated and work hard and more or less remember your manners.

The only things you never, ever complained about? Playing flag football and horseback riding. You’ve already stated that in 7th grade you’re playing real football because when you grow up you want to play in the NFL. Then become a marine biologist. You don’t care which you do first- you’re just going to do both of them. And I really don’t doubt you will if that is what you really want.

As for horseback riding- you started taking lessons about a year ago and fell in love. I don’t know if it’ll be a long time love affair- but you have never once tried to get out of riding and you’d pretty much rather be at the barn than anywhere else (except home- you always want to be at home). It’s a joy watching you find what makes you happy – and right now, being on a horse is one of your most happy places.

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~*~*~

You start 5th grade in a month – and it’s the first time in your life you’ll go to a different school then your brother. You two make each other crazy, but you’re also each other’s BFFs and I wonder how this will go for you. I have a feeling you’ll find a sense of independence you’ve never had before and I can’t wait to see how you stretch your wings.

As you start the first year of your second decade, I wish so very much. I wish you:

  • Friendship: keep your BFFs close, but don’t be afraid to make new friends too. Let people surprise you in the best way possible- because people are amazing.
  • Kindness: I hope the girl drama stays to a minimum and you all remember the importance of being kind to others- but to yourself as well.
  • Courage: try something new. Venture out and do something that scares you just a little. You are smart, funny and amazing- hold on to that knowledge and step off that ledge.
  • Determination: some things are going to be hard. You’re going to have to work really hard at some thing, or you’re going to be faced with a situation that will need strength. Stick to your guns, see it through and know that what ever it is, you’ll succeed.
  • Confidence: Know all the way down into your bones that you are worthy of love, kindness, friendship and compassion and settle for nothing less. Be true to who you are. That may mean that you won’t be loved by everyone- and that’s OK. Be confident in yourself enough to know that it’s about the quality of those around you and demand what’s due.
  • Curiosity: don’t be afraid to meander down different (physical and metaphorical) paths if something interests you. Sometimes you’ll find the most delightful surprises at the end.
  • Conviction: as you get older, knowing your own mind and sticking up for what’s right becomes more and more important. Ask question, figure out how you feel about things and stick up for yourself and others when you feel you’re not being respected.  I have all the faith in the world in  your ability to move mountains.

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You, my darling Bean, are one of the best gifts I have ever received. You are my heart – my wild child, my rule breaker and my stubborn mule. Watching you grow is my greatest privilege and I cannot wait to see what the next 10 years bring.

Love,

Mom

Broken- and Why I’m the World’s Worst Mom

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When Scorch was in 3rd grade, he started snowboarding. He worked so freaking hard to learn- it took him all 6 weeks in row of weekly 2.5 hour lessons to finally- FINALLY- get his green pass. He hasn’t looked back since. Last year, the Bean and I started skiing. She’s fantastic, I stink- but we are, officially, a family that skis. (Except the Hubs- he wants nothing to do with it thanks to his previous 5 knee surgeries.). We love our Thursday nights on the slopes- Scorch heads off with his friends while the Bean and I stick together and she makes fun of how slow I go. We meet up randomly and then have a fun dinner out. #bonding

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Last week, just as the Bean and I got off the ski lift at the very top of the mountain, I heard my cell phone ring. I ignored it and we continued on with our group lesson, slowing inching our way down the hill with our instructor and 8 other kids. All was going well enough until I got a tap on my shoulder from another chaperone who some how tracked me down to tell me Scorch was hurt and that I needed to go check on him ASAP.

Which was doable – in theory. Except that I was stuck at the top of a trail I didn’t know with my 9 year old who promptly fell over, lost a ski and started to sob that she was never going to get up again. So I called the head chaperone who was with Scorch, determined that no bones were jutting out, EMTs were not called and he was calm – then I more more less told the Bean to calm down, pull herself together and get moving.

15 agonizing minutes later I rushed into the room where Scorch was to find him acting completely fine. Sure, he had ice on his wrist, but there were no tears, swelling or bruising. It was rather anti-climatic after our rush down the hill.

We headed home and had the Hubs (a former EMT) look at Scorch’s wrist where he deemed it fine. We asked Scorch to perform a bunch of mobility exercises, that he did successfully and then basically shrugged our shoulders and figured he was fine.

The next day, the wrist was still sore, and, given that Scorch had a basketball game and two football games the next day, we decided to get him x-rayed just in case. The doctor we saw agreed that it was probably nothing but ordered the x-ray just in case.

You know, just in case his wrist was broken in two places. Which it was.

Scorch handled this rather well all weekend long – until Monday when the cast was put on and reality set in. That night, my sweet, patient, loving child lost his ever loving mind as we drove to the gym (something we so every Monday, Wednesday and Friday so the Hubs and I can work out). There were tears, yelling, stomping of feet- and then finally, after getting the Bean all riled up – The List.

My kiddos spent the last 15 minutes of our drive to the gym outlining all the things that I don’t let them do that I should:

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For the record, I defending myself against the “lying” accusation by noting that telling my kids that they can do something, only to find out what they wanted to do wasn’t offered at the time they wanted to do it (something out of my control) was not lying (that happened the week before). I also told them I’d stopped yelling in the morning (why do I yell? So we get to school on time. I didn’t yell yesterday once, we were 20 minutes late). The rest? Well, they’d just have to suck that up- that’s called parenting.

Bottom line: Scorch is in a cast for the next 3 weeks, he’s a resentful mess over it and I’m wondering how much a kid with a broken wrist would get me if I sold him to the circus.

 

Taking My 6 Year Old to Therapy Was the Best Decision I Ever Made

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Way back when I dreamed about becoming a mom, I dreamed about babies. Sweet, smushy, cuddly babies. Babies with chubby cheeks and heads I’d want to sniff for hours (it’s a thing, trust me). I didn’t picture having a kid with anxiety- I mean, who does?

This is Mental Illness Awareness Week. I hesitated to write that. I hesitated to link my child with words like mental illness. It makes my gut clench and it makes me second guess the writing of this.

But that’s why I am sharing this. Because I have to get over myself, my prejudices and my fears. Because I’ve talked to more parents this year than I ever have who have shared their stories of kids who are struggling and their feeling helpless, sheer exhaustion and frustration that comes with that.  Here is what I wrote a year ago on a community blog I contributed to about why therapy was the best decision we ever made for our kid.

When my son Scorch was 5, he saw a movie that he had seen before but, this time around, the villain in the movie- a hairless cat- terrified him. It sounds silly when I write it out, but it’s the truth. Scorch was petrified of that cat and his fear went from something that we joked about lightly to something that took over our lives very quickly.

It started with not wanting to go to bed by himself. The lights had to be on and we had to sit in his bedroom with him. My child who went to bed relatively quickly turned into one that took hours to fall asleep. Once he did fall asleep, nightmares became commonplace and all hopes of a good night sleep for Scorch, the Hubs and I went out the window.

We would sit in his bedroom as Scorch’s brain whirled on over drive – Mommy, what if the cat gets in the house? He won’t, go to sleep. But what if he does? Scorch, he can’t- all of our windows and doors are locked. What if he breaks in? Daddy is a police officer- no one is breaking into our house. But what if? The questions went on and on and on- it was like his brain was on a track that he simply could not get off.

A month or so after the worries about hairless cats popped up, Scorch watched my daughter Bean get sick in the middle of the cafeteria at school. She was fine (minus the 24-hour stomach bug), but it was like his fears jumped tracks and now he obsessed over getting sick. This fear became even more consuming and Scorch would have panic attacks before school because he was so worried he’d get sick there.

I remember going to dinner with my girlfriends one night and crying the minute that I sat down. I was so tired. The Hubs and I were fighting with each other and Scorch every night as we begged him to go to sleep. Please, child, just relax and sleep. Nothing we said to him made a dent though- we couldn’t rationally talk to him about why he wouldn’t get sick, or what we’d do if he did, and how getting sick was no big deal.

My mother had been gently hinting for months that Scorch’s anxiety level was a lot higher than most kids, but I kept brushing her off. He was 5- just about to turn 6 for goodness sake- what in the world would we do? He’ll get over it. Then another close family member on my husband’s side of the family shared that she had developed an ulcer at age 9 due to her anxiety. An ulcer at AGE 9.

That stopped me in my tracks and really made me evaluate how the Hubs and I had been reacting to Scorch’s fears. The child had had at least 3 legitimate panic attacks. He had missed school because he was so scared that he was going to get sick even though he was completely healthy. His sleep – 8 months later- was still horrible. And our approach wasn’t helping a darn thing.

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At times, it felt like Scorch’s anxiety was going to pull us under.

Had my child had long-lasting fevers, unexpected bruises or crazy insulin readings, I would have been camped at the doctor’s office 24/7 as we tried to figure out what was wrong. I would have called specialists and driven all over God’s green earth to get him healthy. But because his issues were in his mind, we excused them and assumed they’d resolve on their own.

We were idiots.

When we finally called a therapist, they were very open about things. First, they’d meet with us, then they’d meet with Scorch (with or without us in the room- it was up to us) and they’d let us know if they thought he needed to see someone or if this was simply a case of a worried kid and overreacting parents. After these appointments, they were pretty sure Scorch was dealing with generalized anxiety and would benefit from talking to a professional. We agreed and Scorch saw his therapist for well over a year- first weekly, then bi-weekly and then monthly.

Scorch’s therapist did Play Therapy with him and gave him a safe space to talk out his worries. She also gave him tools to handle his anxiety- worry dolls, rhythmic patting, breathing exercises and the like. These tools made a world of difference. It’s been 4 years since we started therapy and we have had to go back to see his beloved therapist a few times when things seemed overwhelming, but for now, Scorch knows how to handle his worries. He knows how to talk things out and self-sooth. Sure, some of this may just be his increased maturity as he got older, but I credit 90% of his coping abilities to his therapist. We haven’t seen his therapist in over 2 years, but the number is still in my phone just in case.

I know that anxiety may rear its head again as Scorch gets older, as diagnosed anxiety disorders run in our family, but now I feel like that we – he, the Hubs and myself – have a clear vision of what’s going on. I’m as committed to making sure my kids are as healthy mentally as they are physically and I refuse to be embarrassed or worry about the stigma of my son being in therapy. Scorch is wonderful, intelligent, funny, athletic, kind and anxious- all these parts of him help to make him completely perfect.

Thankfully, Scorch’s anxiety is well in check right now. Certain things will still trigger his panic, but it doesn’t rule our life like it did when he was younger. But he’s growing and puberty is going to hit us all in the face soon and I don’t know what that will do to his brain chemistry. What I do know is that I (with Scorch’s permission) will keep sharing, keep talking, keep normalizing any struggles he may have.

6 and 4

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After one of the craziest, most fun, busiest summers ever, we’re firmly back into the fall routine. The kids are happy with their teachers, school is going well and we have a nice rhythm going on. This is actually our quietest time of the year with minimal after school activities and I’m enjoying every.single.second of the peace – because you know it won’t last long.

So, the summer. We did a lot – we visited Lady Liberty…

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Saw a professional ballgame (or 3 – baseball was big this summer)…

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Visited with hundreds of our friends at a local music fest…

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Spent The Best Week Ever in the Outer Banks with family…

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Visited a Fort…

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And drove a dragon in a Harbor.

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The kids went to different camps each week- school camps, nature camps, sports camps. The Bean learned to sail a boat and Scorch got to hang with friends. In short, the summer was really just about perfect and I was beyond sad to see it go. But you know was solves your dread of summer being over? Having your kids home for 2.5 weeks before school starts while you’re working full time. Trust me, that’ll teach you to embrace a schedule.

So- 6th grade and 4th grade.

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This picture of their feet makes me laugh every time I see it because it captures them perfectly. Scorch will stand still and do what’s asked of him because it’s easier and he likes to please. Bean is literally trying to back away out of the picture as quickly as possible because she wants no part in following an order and cooperating. His feet are 2.5 sizes bigger than mine and she’s still obsessed with all things gold.

I love those freaking kids so much and I’m so very excited to see how they grow this school years. But honestly- I’m even more excited for next summer, because summers are the best.

To Infinity and Beyond

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We just (a month ago…but it was “just” when I started writing this) returned from our annual trek to Florida and I’m trying not to question too deeply why we live in NY instead of a place where the sun comes out and the air doesn’t freeze my nostrils together. I know there are a million reasons we love living where we do, but when you leave 80 and sunshine and come home to 30 and sleeting, those reasons are hard to remember.

We knew going into this trip that it was going to be different than any other we’ve taken because we were going to fly. I know, I know- not a big deal for most, but we’ve always either driven or taken the train- but we got such a great deal on airfare that it was dumb not to jump on it. So we did and the kids were giddy about it. Truly, I think they were more excited about flying than they were what we were doing in FL.

4 days before we were scheduled to leave, Scorch came down with the stomach bug. Thankfully it was a 12 hours of sickness + 12 hours of recovery time- so nothing too bad and he was back to himself by Monday night. Tuesday, Winter Storm Stella hit our area so the kids were home from school Tuesday and Wednesday. We held our breath on Monday and Tuesday waiting to see if the Bean would get sick, but by Wednesday, we relaxed. It had been 72 full hours and if she hadn’t gotten sick yet, she wouldn’t. Surely, she wouldn’t.

(Do you see where this is going?)

Wednesday night at 10 pm, the poor child woke up and was violently ill. Between bouts of puking, she sobbed because she was sick on our last vacation to St. Louis and during Christmas and now she was going to miss going to FL. It was damn near the most pitiful thing I had ever seen and I was thisclose to crying with her as the Hubs and I freaked out over WTH to do. We were set to leave for the airport in 9 hours and there was was no way we could make this poor baby get on a plane. That wasn’t fair to her or the people on unlucky enough to be stuck on a flying tin can with us.

After some serious scrambling and a lot of late night phone calls, we were able to switch our flight to the same time on Friday, change our hotel reservation and rebook our rental car all with minimal fuss- thank goodness! Thursday we went to the pediatrician and got medication to prevent vomiting just in case and prayed everyone would be well enough to travel the next day.

Friday morning, the Bean wasn’t 100%, but she hadn’t been sick in 20 hours so we hit the road and drove the 3 hours to the airport. The whole first flight experience could not have gone better. We had zero lines, lots of time to kill and super excited kids who were thrillllled to be there. The flight itself was super smooth and we landed in FL almost 2 hours to the minute of taking off. We grabbed our luggage and rental car and took off for Disney, patting ourselves on the back over how well we handled the past 48 hours, ready to start enjoying vacation.

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The Hubs starting puking 10 minutes after we arrived at our hotel.

*sigh* At least he made it to FL. We settled him in the room and I took the kids to the pool and to get dinner, basically putting the poor man in isolation. My wonderful mother-in-law was in FL to spend 4 days with us so when she arrived at the hotel, the 3 of us moved into her room to stay as far away from the germs as humanly possible.

The good news isolation worked. I never got sick and the Hubs was up and rolling by mid-day on Saturday so vacation could officially commence! And we had the best time…

From the hotel pool, where I treated myself to a few of these…

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Watching the kids swim, praying the alcohol will kill all the germs.

To the parks…

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These guys were electrifying…so very cool!

And then finally over the West Coast to the beach…

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Dear Gulf Coast, I love you.

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At the aptly named Sunset Beach on our last night in FL.

…it was perfect.

And now, back to reality. Since I started writing this post, Spring has really started to bloom in NY and I’m remembering why we live here. That’s not to say though, I couldn’t be persuaded to live in paradise full time…

Oh, Christmas Tree

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Saturday was the day. We were going to get our tree, come hell or high water. I love Christmas Tree Day. While we don’t cut ours down (we know our limits), we go to a lovely tree lot, and carefully look around until we find the The One.  The One must be a concolor fir- not a very common type of tree- so it can be a pain, but it’s always worth it. We were going to get adorable selfies and a great tree and a great time will be had by all, damn it.

So, Saturday morning the kids and I set off to meet the Hubs at the tree lot. I had an inkling my plans for a perfect day were doomed when the Bean refused to wear her boots. When forced into doing so, she borrowed my phone while I was driving and texted the Hubs to come get her because she needed to be rescued from me. Nothing says family love like a stalemate over footwear and SOS text messages. When we got to the lot, the Bean refused to get out of the car because of said boots. Upon hearing that, Scorch then informed me that if she wasn’t getting out, he wasn’t getting out either- the adults could pick out the tree on their own.

Hell.No.

This is FAMILY FUN, DAMN IT and they would participate and like it even if it killed them! To prove that, I yelled/hissed at the Bean to get her shoes on and for both of them get out of the car before I counted to 10 or so help me God…

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The Hubs still wasn’t there yet, so when the children finally emerged from the car and started to run around like feral animals playing hide and seek between the trees, I found the man in charge and asked him to please point out all the concolor firs to me. And then….I saw it. All 9 feet of it in all its glory and I knew, I knew, it was our tree.  I mean, who cares that the diameter is so large that I couldn’t see around it and that it was 9 feet tall. We could work with that, right?

When the Hubs got there, he initially told me I was crazy but I knew his inner Clark Griswold was going to come out. I gave him a minute and sure enough, I saw him circle the tree a few times. I knew he was hooked. Only the Hubs asked the man in charge to take 1.5 feet off the base of the tree, so it wasn’t quite as majestic when we loaded it on the truck, but common sense does have to come into play at some point.

While the Hubs and the man in charge loaded the tree on the truck, I had the fun of running around yelling for my kids who didn’t want to get out of the car to stop hiding on me and to get back in the car. I’m pretty sure they would have paid us to take the tree had we let the kids run around much longer.

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Our tree goes in our living room. There are only so many ways to arrange our living room furniture, so for the past 14 years, our tree has stood in the same spot… it’s proper spot, right in front of our picture window. But that doesn’t mean the Hubs doesn’t have to spend a good hour trying all sorts of other configurations of our furniture before giving up and moving things to the same spot they go in every year. This year included the extra added bonus of muttering under his breath when he realized that our kids actually *gasp* stored things in the drawers of our coffee table. Doing so evidently made us into “pack rats”. Who knew?

But, the tree is up. It’s gorgeous. The kids are happy and we’re happy. Nothing about getting our tree or putting it up may be picture perfect- but neither are we.

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