I have been so filled with shock and emotion for days now following the tragedy in Newtown, CT, I’m still at a loss for words. So many innocent lives lost, I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t stop thinking about the little children, the teachers and their families. The grief these families are experiencing is inexplicable. I’ve been hugging my children and appreciating every little thing every day.
How has news of the tragedy affected your home?
I know so many parents who can’t stop thinking about it or talking about it. Just when I start to think I’ve reached a new “normal,” I hear something new about the massacre and start crying again. My daughter kissed me goodbye when I dropped her off at school recently, and I noticed a Barrington police patrol car in front of the school, and I lost it again.
As a parent, it hits me to the core. This national tragedy has hit so close to home for so many parents, despite the ongoing investigation, we will be wondering “Why?” for years to come. December 14 will be a date this nation will never forget.
After a local mom asked me how I was going to handle sharing news of the tragedy with my two children, it got me thinking. “Do I even want to tell them?” “Will it scare them even more?” “If I don’t, will we regret it later if it gets brought up at school?”
It’s a personal decision. A decision that families have to make on their own.
After the initial news broke on Friday, we told my 11-year-old son. We told him that something terrible had happened at a school in Connecticut. We told him that many lives were lost, that we love him and that we will always strive to keep him safe. We were very “broad strokes” with our delivery, but we decided he was at an appropriate age. We did not tell my daughter, who is eight, until Sunday. We were even more “broad” with our delivery. But we wanted them to understand that they may hear about it, and if they have any questions, they can always ask us. And that we love them more than life itself.
Like so many Americans, I have read, seen and heard dozens upon dozens of news stories about the tragedy on the Internet, the radio and on television. Everywhere you look, there is news of the tragedy, the shooter, the victims, the survivors and the families.
But there is one thing that we do at our house that has actually helped ensure that our children are not terrified even more. Although we watch TV, we don’t keep 24-news stations on 24-hours a day. And we don’t watch local news with our kids. We only watch news at night, after our children are asleep. A few moms I know said that since Friday, they have made a “No TV without permission rule” in their home. For example, The Food Network is OK, but they should not be channel surfing without permission. By no means is the rule applicable in every home, but it has worked for us. Again, it’s up to you as a parent.
My son watched as 26 flares were released into the sky at Gillette Stadium before the Patriots game on Sunday night, in honor of the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I was in tears and could tell my son was sad too. And I could tell he understood why many in the crowd had tears in their eyes. I want him to know about the tragedy, but as a parent, there is a part of me that doesn’t want him to know more than he should at such a young age.
How you can help the families of Newton, CT:
So many people want to know how they can help the Newtown community, from Teddy Bears to monetary donations via the United Way and The Red Cross. This URL provides more information. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/relief-agencies-assistance-newtown-families-005147080.html
I wish there was a way to bring a moment of silence over the Internet in honor of these families. May your family find peace this holiday season.
OK, it’s Friday. A perfect day to vent that I’m done. Not totally done with my holiday shopping. (But yes, I’m almost there thanks to online shopping!) I’m done trying to be THAT mom this holiday season. You know the one I’m talking about. The one who always has time to juggle EVERYTHING perfectly during the holidays. And the one who enjoys one-upping other moms for no reason, except to make the rest of us awesome but not-so-perfect moms feel inadequate. You know her. She’s the Stepford-wife-wanna-be who was done with her holiday shopping in September. She’s the first to volunteer with the PTO, PTA and PTB (PTB is not real, I’m just on a roll, so bear with me here) while training for a marathon, four kids and an insanely beautiful house with Christmas decorations that belong on the cover of a magazine.
We moms need to stay sane during the holidays by simplifying, not stressing out more. Life is too short to drive yourself crazy.
Is anyone REALLY going to care that I don’t put a long hand-typed letter along with 15 pictures of my kids on my Christmas card?
That I cheat and use a photo we took during February vacation?
How about the fact that I recycle the same FAKE but oh-so-cute wreath that I bought on sale from Target six years ago? It looks real and I love it.
Or that we cheat and bought a fake Christmas tree (with lights on them) when we first got our Golden Retriever puppy three years ago so he wouldn’t ingest dried up pine needles?
Or how about the fact that I make sure to bake pies and cookies BEFORE Christmas Eve so I don’t waste the whole day in the kitchen especially when relatives have traveled thousands of miles to spend quality time with us?
It’s important for us to not try to do everything perfect, or we lose sight of the good stuff. From snow ball fights with the kids to relaxing get-togethers with friends and family.
Here are some fun ways to SIMPLIFY your life during this busy time of year:
1) Ask your man. If he doesn’t already, ask your husband (or boyfriend) to help with holiday shopping, gift wrapping or even vacuuming. He might surprise you. (If he doesn’t, then you need to call me and we’ll vent over wine.)
2) Night-time folding. Do your laundry at night while watching TV. It makes it less daunting and can actually be relaxing. There is NOTHING like folding clothes while watching re-runs of Sex and the City.
3) Bake beforehand. Prepare pies, cookies and other desserts a few days before the holidays so you don’t spend every waking minute in the kitchen. Freeze meat pies. Freeze dough. It does a mama good.
4) Time it. Set an egg-timer to ensure that you get something done without interruption. (Without checking Facebook, email or Twitter.) I started doing this for work assignments years ago, and find it helps with holiday tasks as well. I set my timer for 60 minutes recently and filled out almost all of my holiday cards. I was so excited! You can do it too!
5) Wrap with Carrie B. Make a goal of wrapping at least one gift a day so you aren’t bombarded with gift-wrapping at 11:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Or how about wrapping while watching your favorite show (like re-runs of Sex and the City) (after the kids are in bed). You’ll be amazed at how quickly the time flies and how much you can accomplish.
6) Make it a family event. Have your kids help you with tasks. They can help you decorate the Christmas tree, decorate the yard, carry in firewood, and take their folded clothes to their rooms. My daughter helped me bake four dozen cookies yesterday and we had a blast. My son always enjoys bringing in firewood with my husband. The trick is to not ask them, but say, “Guess what we’re doing together this afternoon?” And nine times out of 10, they get excited about it.
The key is to stop trying to be all Steford-like and simplify so you can enjoy the holidays. Now get going and enjoy the day!
When was the last time you went away with your man? Without it being a kids’ tournament or business trip? Without the kids? Without the dog? I know – it had been a while for us too. We always go on trips with our kids. But we recently left the kids with my mother-in-law and escaped to Newport, RI for 36 hours to celebrate our anniversary. We adore our two children and enjoy traveling with them, but we so needed this mini-get-away. (I think we left skid marks in the driveway.) We stayed at a beautiful hotel close to downtown Newport with drapes so nice, I wanted to snap pictures of them and post them on Facebook. (But I held back for my husband’s sake.) We walked to pubs and nice restaurants. We ate lobster. We drank champagne. We shopped for ourselves. We left our laptops at home. We turned off our phones. We left the laundry and dishes at home. We had intelligent conversations. We laughed a lot. We even kissed in public.
Then we came home.
Two hours after we get home, I realize the anniversary honeymoon is oh so over. I had piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and a disappointed dog waiting for me. I also had a headache from having so much fun. Just as I’m about to declare it a PJ day and attempt to sneak in a nap, my son announces that he needs parental assistance with an important junior high school project that’s due in a couple of days. My daughter has run out of clothes and I’m stressed about everything I have to do before the holidays. As I’m working with my son, I start daydreaming about how the most challenging decisions we had to make during our short parental sanity trip involved whether we would choose lobster or steak. Beer or champagne. Umbrella or no umbrella.
It was so easy, it was almost ridiculous.
I wonder if this is what life’s going to be like in 30 years? (Minus double chins, grand- muffin tops, corns and arm flab, of course.)
This weekend, my husband and I will be celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary. Yes, I married my high school sweetheart (who makes me laugh every day) 17 years ago. How can it be that 17 years have gone by when we often talk about how we still feel like we’re 17? (Minus the wrinkles, back fat and the fact that we go to bed at 10 p.m., about the time all the “young people” head out.) In celebration of a special occasion, I wanted to share an excerpt from my book, How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker. This is a mommy whine of my very own and a cheese dip from a talented mom. I hope you enjoy it!
An excerpt from How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker:
VENTING 12: Chopped Broccoli and Vagina Tales
WHINE: Vagina Tales from Jackie
It happens nearly every time we get together with other couples. After dinner and a few glasses of wine, we women gradually end up three rooms away from our husbands and start swapping birth stories. Men will brag about their college drinking days, and the women will go on and on about giving birth. I know my husband is sick of me sharing my vagina tales, but I pushed two human beings into this world, so I believe that entitles me to have bragging rights for the rest of my life. It’s an inevitable topic. Had I done whiskey shots while riding on a roller coaster without puking, maybe I’d brag about that, too. After all, nobody tells you what really happens during childbirth. Sure—there are books, doulas, classes, and birthing coaches. But until you go through it yourself, it’s like trying to learn how to drive a car without getting behind the wheel. It’s not even close. My husband and I went through birthing classes together; we watched the films, practiced breathing, and he placed his hands in a bowl of ice for 10 minutes along with me. It hurt like hell and I whined like a baby, but before I knew it, it was over and we were sitting comfortably in a restaurant in downtown Seattle nibbling on pad Thai. Needless to say, I had a tough time delivering my first child. No one told me it would feel like I had been run over by an eighteen-wheeler and would have to wear maxi pads the size of Texas for six weeks. But after it was over, I was in full-blown honeymoon stage, holding this unbelievable child that looked like ET’s little brother. I was in love. And I thought we were in the clear, until we brought him home.
CHEESE: HOT BROCCOLI DIP from Rebeca at the Average Parent
My top recipe for this year is Hot Broccoli Dip, which is a variation of a recipe I found through Cabot. It’s very similar to spinach dip, with a few differences that can really make it stand out at any party.
1 (10-ounce) package of frozen chopped broccoli
8 ounces of Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar, Vintage Choice
Cheddar, or other premium extra sharp cheddar, grated
4 ounces of cream cheese
1 cup of parmesan cheese (add more to taste, if desired)
½–1 teaspoon of garlic powder (to taste)
½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
Place frozen broccoli in microwave-safe bowl; cover loosely with plastic wrap and microwave until hot and tender, about 9 minutes (do not add any water). Mash broccoli with potato masher until large chunks are gone. Add cheddar, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and pepper to bowl. Cover again and microwave just until cheeses are melted, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Stir until smooth. (If mixture seems thin, it will thicken upon cooling.) Serve with crackers.