Monday, February 29, 2016

Talking Politics

I can't believe I'm about to say this but I have to thank Donald Trump. Yup, that's right, I'm thanking Donald Trump.  

Let me explain:

I like to say I was born a Democrat. I just kind of always knew it. When I was a little kid, I remember sitting next to my mom watching the election returns to find out if Carter or Reagan would be our next President. My mother was hoping Carter and my father in the other room was hoping for Reagan. I remember crossing my fingers for a Carter win and then well, we know how that turned out.

Years later I was on a vacation in Disney World with my father and I saw a very perky, preppy family wearing matching Bush for President buttons. I remember feeling annoyed as we got on the monorail.

I can't even really tell you why I naturally felt like a Democrat. Aside from watching the news every now and then about elections, neither of my parents were very political or even talked about politics.  But I was always fascinated with politicians, the process and social service and people who fought for justice and change.

Here's a pretty cool Republican, and a hero of mine.

I loved reading about politics and watching movies and shows about politics.  The first time I voted in a presidential election was thrilling. It was 1992 and I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska and going to college at University of Nebraska. I voted for Bill Clinton and wore my "I Voted" sticker with great pride.

Back then I enjoyed talking to people with all different opinions. College campuses are great for that stuff. We were all trying to figure out who we were and what we believed and debating wasn't personal it was about learning and growing and finding what fit.  I continued to be a proud Democrat and enjoyed politics. I even used to pop popcorn and get special snacks for the State of the Union like it was an Oscar Party.

I never stopped being interested and fascinated by politics, and different opinions. I fell in love with and married a man with many opposing political views. We had, and still have, lively, passionate conversations about our beliefs. We disagree, we agree, we laugh about it, sometimes we get a little annoyed about it, but mostly we appreciate it. We appreciate the fact that we can have different opinions and still respect each other and love each other.

Becoming a mother didn't stop my interest in politics, it intensified it. Ever since my children were babies I was bringing them to political rallies and fundraisers and committee meetings and phone banks. 

A couple summers ago I took JT and Lucy to Washington D.C. with a bipartisan group who was protesting for cleaner air and fighting for emission regulations. We got a chance to protest on the steps of the Capital and meet with Representatives and members of Congress. During one meeting, a State Representative Dan Kildee from Michigan, showed JT pictures and told stories about the annual baseball game between Republicans and Democrats. He laughed about how they all fought hard to win but also had a lot of fun together. It was pretty amazing and gave me hope that even people in Washington could have different opinions and still respect each other and have fun with each other.

Kildee showing pictures of the D.C. baseball/softball game they played.

Lucy never seemed all that interested in the rallies, fundraisers, D.C. or even meeting Melissa Gilbert who is running for the senate in my district. Nope, she seemed more annoyed than inspired; more over it than into it. 

Lucy so over me being so excited to meet Melissa Gilbert.

Until the other night, when she announced at dinner that "Donald Trump is sexist and racist." She was angry when she spoke. "What are we going to do if he is elected President?," she asked.

She cares. She is angry. She is passionate. She wants to get involved. She wants to know more. She wants to do something. 

It's awesome, it's my dream come true. Except it's not. Because I hate that my daughter has to try to figure out what she believes in such a volatile, hateful political climate. 

I mean we're talking about Donald Trump and building real walls and sending Muslim people out of the country and sexist bullshit and making fun of people and rallies and tweets full of hate. It's all spinning out of control 

The only thing I can think and hope for is that all of this hatred and negativity will shine a light on the racists and the people that don't want women to have equal rights. If there are white people that think racism and hatred isn't a thing, they know better now, right? I mean they have to be appalled by Donald Trump's politics and rallies and tweets. Right? Maybe the Republican Party will adjust and be better. Maybe Hillary or Bernie will get elected and work hard to create real change. Maybe people will be inspired to get involved in their own communities and run for office and contact their representatives and educate themselves and organize and have healthy political debates and discussions.

I am mostly hopeful that all of this hatred and negativity and all of this Donald Trump craziness will make people say ENOUGH! Maybe we will all be thanking Donald Trump for making us care and get up and do more to create change and get involved and be more compassionate and stand up to the haters and bullies. Maybe? Hopefully.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Snow Days! And What I Know For Sure

I know for sure that snow days are amazing. The end. I mean I really could end right there, but I won't. When I got my job in the preschool last September part of the appeal was that when my older kids had days off school, so did I. Which is a really big deal as a working parent. It was such a perk. Another perk was that I would get to share in all the excitement of snow days. Except, um, thanks to El Nino or global warming or well, I can't think about it too much because I get anxious about it...anyway, it's been an incredibly mild winter here in southeast Michigan.   But this week as people were putting away their snow pants and shovels, a snowstorm hit the area. Woot! Woot! AND WE HAD A SNOW DAY!!!!!!!!!!!

It was a Saturday on a Thursday. It was sleeping in and having breakfast at 10. It was asking the kids "hey what do you want to do today?" It was board games and movies.  It was snowball fights and hot cocoa. It was playing pretend in the back yard. It was sledding hills and skiing. It was no school and no work and no games and no practices and no commitments. It was awesome.

Today it's back to work and you know what? It's totally okay because it's FRIDAY!!!!!! I know for sure that I love snow days (and being outside and enjoying nothing to do and being with my kids and not worrying about homework and being places on time and freedom!).

Here's what else I know for sure this week:

  • Stretching is important, especially as we, I, get older. Ahhhhh. I feel like I have to stretch before I do anything these days or I will pull something. No joke. 

  • I'm watching the Oscars. I may have only seen one Oscar nominated movie and I may have real issues with the Oscars in general, BUT I plan on watching the show on Sunday. Are you?

  • It's going to be an amazing Listen to Your Mother Show in Detroit on May 1. We held auditions last week and will be making the cast announcement very soon. If you want to buy tickets, click here.

  • The election is crazy. I have a lot to say about a lot of it. But for now I will say this, I'm with her. Here's my vintage Hillary shirt from the 2008 campaign.

  • The story of the Dancing Starbucks Barista gives me hope. Saw them on Ellen and cried happy tears. Check it out.

  (Click here to watch.)

What do YOU know for sure right now? Tell me!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Not So Terrible Teens

Last week was full of  chaos. I mean every week is, but this was more and it felt even harder because Tim and I were both sick. I mean siiiiiiiick. By Friday thankfully we felt better, shaky, but better. 

Tim left town with the little boys. He took Wade and JT on a bus with his high school basketball team to the other side of the state for a tournament. The boys were so excited. They loved hanging out with the older boys and have become the official water boys for the team.

They also loved the pool and the hot tub at the hotel.

Tim kept sending me text messages about how impressed he was with the kids from his high school. How they were looking out for JT and Wade, laughing with them, playing basketball with them, watching their language around them, making time for them and being so nice to them.  

Speaking of being surprised by teenager type people, back at home I was hanging with Lucy and Peyton and we were having a pretty good time. It wasn't total smooth sailing however. There were mood swings and misunderstandings and a few breath noises and eye rolls (from all of us). But there was also lots of pizza, movies that are so not appropriate for Wade and JT (like Pitch Perfect 2), talks about politics and social media and more.

Selfie with the tween and teen. Awwww. I think Peyton is saying I'm the number one parent. Right? Take that Tim. lol.

I miss when my kids were little. I LOVED those days. But here's the thing, teenagers can be fun and interesting and kind. Teens and tweens get a bad rap, much like two-year-olds get slapped with the whole "terrible" label. With both age groups there are so many exhausting worrisome "terrible" stuff, but there's also so much good. And when it's good, it's funny and heartwarming and awesome. 

I am going to come back and reread this post next week when I'm "so over" parenting older kids. It's hard to remember the good when it's all eye rolling and tough choices and never knowing if I'm  parenting the "right" way. Ahhhhhh. But I do want to reread this and remember and acknowledge and appreciate the good moments. And I want to create more opportunities for my teenagers to show their goodness, and for me to see it in others like Tim's basketball players being so kind to Wade and JT. 

Now go hug a teenager. Or if they push you away and look at you weird like Lucy did to me this morning when I tried to hug her, just maybe say something good about them. Put that positivity out in the universe. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Working Mom Cliche

So I'm working now, a lot. I'm working more hours at the preschool. I'm writing like crazy for the other job and even spent some time being all corporate-y the other day. I spent hours in a building with co-workers and even wore a blazer. Yup. I am bringing home the bacon. I mean some, not that much, but a little bacon.

Because I'm completely immature, I had to take a selfie in the corporate bathroom with signs like this. I thought I was hilarious.

For the most part it feels pretty good. I love contributing some bacon. And helping pay bills. And I love a lot of parts of both jobs--the sweet kiddos, the challenges, trying to make customer service sound Ahhhhmazing for the corporate folk, the people, wearing pjs to work at the preschool and wearing a blazer to the corporate-y gig. It's fun. It's fascinating. I like that my kids see me in a different light.

But yo, it's definitely challenging. There are a lot of times I feel like my head is spinning. My house is A DISASTER. I've made more gluten-free sandwiches for dinner than ever before. Days are jam freaking packed and I want more time. More time to do laundry, answer emails, hang out with the kids, actually talk to Tim, do more work, cook better dinners, walk the dogs, watch Real Housewives, work out, make to-do lists, sleep, ahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

What's funny though, is that Tim's life doesn't seem to have altered that much. He still does what he did before. And so do I. Yeah, I still do all the cooking, shopping, laundry, cleaning AND now some working. I cannot fucking believe I have become another cliche. Before this phase, I was the stay-at-home mom blogger who drove a minivan, um hello cliche. Now I am the working mom who does too much and then complains about it on her blog. Are you kidding me? How did this happen? 

I mean I'm supposed to be this incredibly liberal feminist married to a somewhat progressive conservative.  We were supposed to be better than this, more balanced, less traditional.

I guess it's an adjustment for all of us. For almost 12 years, I stayed home and took care of all the home stuff so I get that we need to maybe have a meeting and redistribute responsibilities. (Look at all that corporate meeting stuff rubbing off on me already. lol!)  The only thing is that Tim seems completely fine if some things just don't get done. He is perfectly okay to sit next to a laundry basket full of clothes waiting to be folded and NOT fold them. He is okay with playing a video game on his phone. He is more than okay with it, he seems totally happy and relaxed.

Maybe I need to learn to let some of the things go a little like Tim. Maybe.  Who knows? I have ZERO answers. I'm new at this. 

There was this article on Huffington Post about "having it all" that went viral this week. It's interesting and funny and rings true in parts to me. But I'm totally not trying to have it all or get ahead in any super driven career path. I mean I love my life. I'm just trying to do the best at jobs I'm getting paid to do and help pay bills and be the best parent and enjoy my family and life. That's all. 

This clip from Black-ish is more where I am right now....I love this.

(click here to watch the clip)

Tim plays a Simpsons game on his phone and every now and then Homer's voice will say something from his phone. If he gets a point or something Homer says "Better him than me. Doh." Yeah. While I'm stressing about laundry and balance and oh my god how do I do not all of it but most of it!!! Tim is playing  a Simpsons game on his phone. Oh.My.God.

We'll figure it out or we'll bicker and laugh about it and revel in our cliche-ness.  Life is intense in good and bad ways. It's full. It's busy. And hey, I'm bringing home some bacon.

And oh my god, since I talked about bringing home the bacon I thought I would put in the commercial from the 80s. You HAVE to watch this. No wonder we are so screwed up with expectations and roles and responsibilities. I mean this is nuts, hilarious, but nuts.

(click here to watch it)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Balance- Parenting ADHD

JT has ADHD. He's pretty chill about it. He's a pretty chill kid. He's more day dreamy than hyper active. He's forgetful as hell and completely uninterested in school. He's funny and sweet and wonderful too.  

All week he works hard in school, he tries to remember his homework, he makes lists, he goes along with routines...but after school and on the weekends when he gets on a court or a field or in the backyard, he comes to life.  It's like magic.

Oh my god, look at that smile. Ahhhhhh.
He's the kind of kid that doesn't fit into certain parts of this whole standardized testing world we live in. And it bugs him. And I get it. I get not fitting in. I get growing up with a brother and sister that are uber smart and have brains built for school and taking tests, and how that feels all kinds of intimidating. I get that being free and moving means everything. 

I get it all because JT gets all this ADHD crap from me.

So, last week when JT was having a rough couple days and it snowed (finally!), I picked him up early from school and we went skiing. 

I wanted to show him that there's more than school and grades and tests that matter. I'm not starting an unschooling movement, but balance is key for brains like ours. Balancing all the have-tos with the let's get out of here and see and do and run and be free moments, yeah those are definitely key to feeling better. Along with love and patience and compassion and moving, lots of moving. 

As school gets harder and social stuff gets more intense, I know things will get tougher for JT, and for me and for all of us. Parenting a kid with ADHD is no joke. I want to protect him and save him and make the world less standardized. But that's not how it works. So, I will teach him what I know about balance and embracing all the great parts of ADHD and being wired a little differently--the daydreams, the emotional intelligence, the fun, moving, being bold and unafraid of so much of life that scares other people, and so much more. And there will hopefully be a lot more mid-week skiing over the years!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Valentines & Older Kids (A Pinterest Poser Challenge)

Lately I've struggled a bit to figure out my role, or my place, within my own family. I mean duh, I'm the mom, the driver, the meal maker, the care taker, the anti-video game lady who is constantly terrified of football and online predators. Right. But I miss being the baby rocking, comfort giving, craft making, nurturing lady all the kids went to for advice and fun and hugs and kisses.  I can honestly say, I totally nailed my role as mom to young kids. Not that I had all the answers and was perfect-y perfect mom all the time. I just really enjoyed the hell out of it. I felt like it was the job I was meant to have, I felt completely comfortable in that job/role. 

But the mom job is evolving because woah, the kids are getting older. They are no longer impressed with my ability to make a happy face sandwich, and my silly dancing in the kitchen no longer makes them giggle. And that's OKAY. I get it, they are teenagers and this is the stuff that's supposed to happen and they are good kids, no, they are great kids and I love them madly. I'm just trying to figure out how to hold onto parts of my old position and still grow into my new of older kids.

Holidays are different with older kids. But last week I found ways to hold onto my silly traditions and include a couple of my bigger kids.  It's this week's Pinterest Poser Challenge, check it out.

*In an attempt at not being a Pinterest Poser,** every week-ish I detail a new project/idea/recipe inspired by Pinterest.
**My definition of a Pinterest Poser is someone who is all pins and no substance.

I don't care how old kids are, they will ALWAYS like dessert.  Wade is still young enough to want to bake with me. So, he and I baked Valentine's inspired cupcakes for the older kids and their friends the other night.  It was great one-on-one time with my youngest and a great way for him to not feel left out of the big kids' fun with their friends.

Oh my god, isn't he so cute. He's my baby!!!! And of course there is a ball in almost every picture because there is a ball in almost every room of my house.

I found these cute little cupcake toppers at Kroger for a couple dollars. Boosh! Happy Valentine's Day!

The kids only sometimes sit with me and make crafts anymore. Other times they ignore me and go do their own thing. And still other times they make the crafts I start on their own and that's cool.  When I suggested we make a heart garland for Valentine's Day, Lucy said sure but she was going to do it while watching a movie. That worked.

She drew the hearts on scrap book paper I had and then cut them out while watching "Jem and the Holograms."

I used a needle and thread to sew my hearts together while watching a movie later that night on my own. Our creation now hangs in the kitchen and I love it. 

I saw this on Pinterest somewhere years ago and made it before (click here to check it out)

I know, my kitchen looks like my Pinterest Poser Challenges threw up. Lol. It's not for everyone, but I love the homemade, chaotic look.   

I decided to add a few inexpensive decorating touches around the house that are really geared more toward younger kids, or the young at heart. I realized I just kind of dig all these cutesy decorations and maybe I wasn't even doing them for the little kids all those years, maybe I was doing them becuase I just liked them. So I put up pink doilies I got at the Dollar Store. I wrote a message on the chalk board that I want everyone in the family to know/always remember this Valentine's Day and forever.

Inspired by a million chalkboards on 
Pinterest and copied from one of them.

I don't know if the big kids even notice all my dumb decorations, but I hope they know that I love them. And that I'm going to figure out my role/place/evolved job as mom to older kids but I may never stop making crafts and making dessert for Valentine's Day, the Super Bowl, birthdays, special days, anniversaries and whenever anyone needs to feel better. I'm going to keep learning and keep growing and keep worrying and keep baking and keep mothering no matter how old we all get.

Have you made anything inspired by Pinterest lately? Got any favorite holiday crafts? Let me know in the comments or over on my Facebook page.

Here are some of the Pinterest projects I've done/made/attempted:

DIY Snowman Ornaments- click here
Milk Carton Halloween Luminaries- click here
Fall DIY (Painted Acorns)- click here
Kale Smoothie- click here
Power Tools- click here
Painting Sticks- click here
Homemade Pesto- click here
DIY Map Craft- click here
Homemade Chalk Paint- click here
A Flower Crown- click here
The Rainbow Challenge- click here
DIY Trundle Bed- Click here
DIY Artemis Costume- click here
Taking Pictures of Your Kids- click here
Gluten Free Pretzels- click here
Cinnamon Sugar Doughballs- click here
Painted Lockers- click here
Melted Beads- DIY Suncatcher- click here
Tissue Paper Pom Pom Garland-- click here
A Delightfully Simple Birthday Party--click here
Make An Awesome Omelet--click here
Outdoor Lights Inspired by the show Parenthood- click here
Herb Garden with Chalkboard Pots- click here
Backyard Graffiti Art with kids- click here
Happiness Notecards- click here
Gluten Free Rainbow Cake- click here
Fruit Roll-Up Fortune Cookies- click here
Make Your Own Magnets- click here
DIY Painted Clay Necklace- click here
Dixie Cup Lights- click here
DIY Ornaments-click here
Gluten Free Clay- click here
Make Your Own Stamps- click here
Birthday Shirt- click here
Gluten Free Pop Tarts- click here
Front Porch Kid Art Display- click here
Door turned into Table- click here
Summer Wish List Chalkboard-click here
Peanut Butter Nutella Cookie Sandwiches-click here
Painted Mason Jar Vases-click here
Cinco de Mayo Paper Flowers- click here
Earth Day Cupcakes- Click here
Nail Art-click here
Homemade Photo Booth Fun- click here
Fake Bangs- click here
DIY Subway Art- click here
Furniture Painting and Bench/Chest Makeover- click here
Thanksgiving-y Project/Gratitude/Holiday Countdown- click here
The Smoothie-click here
The Free Printable Turned Artwork in a Boring Hallway- click here
The chalk board-click here
Seven Layer Dip in Individual Cups (my favorite so far!)-click here
The pumpkin address-click here
The Kitchen Dancing Sign--click here