Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Growing up


If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that I haven't had the easiest time with my son. He recently turned 7, which I both can and can't believe.

I've written about his high sensitivity before. It's hard to put a finger on the challenges I've faced with him since he was a baby. He was a beautiful baby, and I was so thrilled to have him, but very soon after birth I noticed that his disposition was 'harder' than other babies. He cried and fussed more; he was not happy-go-lucky. As a toddler, he was the 'hardest' in any playgroup, and then in preschool he continued to be challenging, often getting into issues with other children or acting out with the teachers.

It is impossible to sum him up with a few words. He has a hidden old-soul sweet and sensitive side, and a hilarious sense of humor. He has also always been easily overstimulated and overwhelmed, and that's when negative behaviors occur (yelling, hitting, outbursts). You might say he's quirky, to put things lightly.

As a very little boy, he didn't get along easily with other children at the park. His social struggles have made me sad countless times, and I know he isn't unaware of his challenges. Though, with time, he has made some friends. I am so happy for him.

I'm sure he could see the differences between himself and the easygoing kid at the park who easily blends in with other children (like his sister). He still cries and angers easily, to the point where I can lose my patience and question every decision I ever make, but that's also dissipating somewhat.

When my little guy started kindergarten, to say I was nervous would be an understatement. How on earth would he be okay away from home for 8 hours a day? Here's the silver lining: my son had a great 1st year of school.

His experienced kindergarten teacher seemed to understand him almost immediately. She quickly recognized his intelligence as well as his challenging [often obsessive] need for perfection. She easily grasped that he loves a challenge and loves working hard and learning new things, but that he also has a low tolerance for frustration and for other kids picking at him.

Here's what I learned from his teacher: she didn't expect him to be perfect socially. What I think she recognized early on that I'm just beginning to accept is this: you can't be perfect-- or even good-- at everything. Everything can't be easy for you.

She focused on his talents rather than his struggles. She was excited about his abilities. He had another great 1st grade experience. He made a few good friends. He laughed more. He enjoyed his sports and even went to some birthday parties. School has suited him.

When we have those hard, patience-testing moments, I'm trying to remember this: No one is perfect at everything. No one is even good at everything. This should be my mantra-- for both of us.

When my son triumphantly arrived home after finishing his last day of kindergarten, and again after his first and last day of 1st grade, smiling and proud, I felt proud of him too.

In those brief moments, I feel myself letting go of the constant worry, the wondering if he will be "okay," because while he may never be like the vast majority of his peers, he is special the way he is. I'm a better person because of him.

I'm excited to see what my bright, challenging boy will discover and accomplish in his life, and what will emerge from his unique brain. I hope I'll be the mother he deserves to support him and embrace him as he grows.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama


Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Favorite Kids Clothes


I love a good hand-me-down. I do not feel compelled to buy my kids fancy clothes they'll wear once or never. However, as a mom, you've gotta #treatyoself sometimes, right? It's fun to occasionally buy cute outfits for the kids. And we all deserve some fun.

My friend Leah Adamski sells Peekaboo Beans children's clothes. It's now my go-to brand for well-made, nice-looking clothes for my son and daughter. They have simple designs, bright colors, and best of all, they are sensory-friendly-- no tags, no itchy spots, no ridiculous buttons and ties that are impossible to buckle. The whole point of the line is to make your kids comfortable so they can play and have fun. [Okay, and look cute doing it.]

I'm trying to eliminate unnecessary chemicals in our home. Unlike mass produced children's clothes, Peekaboo Beans are free from carcinogenic dyes, heavy metals, and chemicals that can be absorbed by the skin. The company pays fair wages to its employees, and they support Playground Builders, a non-profit charity that builds playgrounds in war torn countries. Plus, the entire company was started by one mom. Moms are awesome.

My favorite purchase so far is this pair of stretchy bell bottom jeans for my curvy little girl. The waistband is elastic to fit comfortably on little buddha bellies, and they wash and wear so well. You would have no idea she's been wearing hers for a year!


My son, one of the pickiest clothing people on the planet, willingly wears these cool lightweight, elastic-waist shorts:

My next purchase is going to be this sweet little play dress that will take my daughter from summer to winter (just add leggings and a long-sleeve shirt under or over it):

Browse the shop and connect with Leah:  www.peekaboobeans.com/GGBeans 
Leah's e-mail: leah@thebetterbeing.com

*Psssst....It's a Canadian brand, so their prices are currently listed in CA dollars. American customers, make sure to do a currency conversion. Otherwise, Whoa! Sticker shock!

I'd love to know if you end up trying Peekaboo Beans! What did you order? What do you love? Is there another brand of kids clothes you love? Please share!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama




Saturday, July 15, 2017

Surviving Summer with Little Kids


It's now almost mid-July. How YOU doing?

I'll tell you how I'm doing: not terrible. not perfect. somewhere between meh and pretty, pret-ty good [channeling Larry David there].

Things get easier in the summer months for work-at-home and stay-at-home parents once your kids are a little older, mainly because there's more they can do! My daughter is 4.5 and my son just turned 7 (SEVEN!). They do a morning park camp most days of the week, which is when I work, get caught up on errands, and/or catch my breath a little. The afternoons are... pretty much wide open. Which is good until it isn't.

You see, I love getting outside in the summer, exploring new places, working in the yard, and doing All The Things. My kids don't always agree with me or with each other on these little adventures, and they are kids, so naturally, they get crabby, hot, hungry, tired, wet, etc. That's when Chaos Ensues.

Sometimes my kids make me want to tear my hair out. The bickering, the yelling, the crying, AHHHH! I like peace and quiet, or at least laughter and joyful screaming.

To cut back on the "Save me!" and support the "this is fun!" I have a few go-tos to help us get through the dog days of summer with as little pain and as much enjoyment as possible. I want to look back on these summers and remember the fun we had, not all the exhausting, annoying stuff. Who's with me?

Here are a few simple survival activities:

Parks. The less crowded, the better. I'm an introvert, remember? Pretty much the last thing I want to do at a park is try to carry on a conversation with another adult while also focusing on keeping my kids well-behaved with each other and all the other kids. I don't want to have to scold my kids constantly and I don't want to undergo the exhausting process of acting like every second is wonderful. I just want to sit for a few minutes and watch my kids play. Is that too much to ask? They have a ton of energy and a new playground is usually a good bet to occupy them for a while.



Library visits. My kids and I don't do great on super hot, humid afternoons (we're Minnesotans!). One way to escape the heat without turning on a t.v. is to visit a library. Even better if it's a new one or a less busy one (see above). Some of the local ones offer free programs throughout the summer like magic shows and a yo-yo master (seriously).

Cooking. My son has very little interest in cooking, but this is something my daughter LOVES. So I'll often pick out a simple baking recipe and let her help stir and measure. It's an activity we both enjoy, and we can do it in the comfort of our own home on a lazy afternoon.

Planting fun. Growing stuff may not sound interesting to everyone, but as luck would have it, my son shares this interest with me. He especially loves learning about and watching the vegetables we plant in the spring grow throughout the summer. We often walk around the yard to inspect which plants are doing well and which ones aren't, and he likes helping water them. It's another mutually enjoyable hobby we can do in our own yard.

In the meantime, let's drop the "everything is wonderful!" charade this summer, folks. Saying you had a hard day/week/summer with your kids does not mean you are a bad parent. It means you are a human one. The more open we can be with each other, the healthier and more real we'll all be.

What are your summer go-tos?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama




Thursday, June 29, 2017

5 Friday Faves: Summer 2017 Edition


Summer has officially begun here in the U.S., and it still baffles me that our friends over in Australia are gearing up for winter, correct?

Anyway, believe it or not, it gets warm-- hot even!-- here in Minnesota, not that I mind. I love summer. It's the best. That said, the kids have much less structure (i.e. school) June-August and therefore require a lot a lot a lot of attention and intention on my part. As they get older, summers are getting more fun with them, but it's still tricky to find the balance of work time/kid time/me time.

Here are a few of my summer faves to maximize our enjoyment this summer:

1. A summer read is a must-have, isn't it? Of course, most of us with kids have to wait until they are in bed to read more than a couple of sentences at a time. I've managed to read a couple of good books recently, so I'm cheating and adding two here (click the images to order your copy ;):

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman





The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende



(For more Frantic Mama book picks, check out #franticmamabookclub on Instagram. I add any books I'm currently reading to it).


2. Tiny House Hunters on HGTV. I cannot explain this addiction. There is just something about this 30 minute show (OnDemand, of course. I have no idea when shows actually air). Maybe it's the tiny-ness of it. The cuteness of it. The usually very unusual people house shopping in it. I love all of it and find it the ideal summer relaxation show to watch with the hubby when the kids are in bed (yeah I guess a lot of my fun is after the kids are in bed! Ha!).

Photo from HGTV.com. Taken by Wheelhaus.


3. Arbonne Awaken Sea Salt Scrub. Ohhhhhh my. This might be my favorite shower product of all time. It's a huge tub of delightfully uplifting salt scrub scented with essential oils "for happiness." My skin smells good all most of the day when I use this in the morning and I do think it helps me "awaken."

Smells so good you'll want to eat it.

4. Cheeseburger Pie. Yeah, the name could use some work, but I can't think of anything else that accurately describes this dish in a more...elegant...way. In Minnesota, it's a hot dish. Anywhere else, it's a casserole. You can find my mom's recipe and my photos for this delicious dish on Splendry, where I contribute from time to time. The site is super cute and positive, and trust me, this recipe doesn't disappoint!

Nom. Nom. Nom.


5. What's summer without a few cocktails? Dumb, that's what. Here's an awesome spirit to add to your bar, and it's made right here in Minnesota (and no, this post is NOT sponsored by them). Tattersall Distillery's Sour Cherry liquor. I initially bought it because the bottle features a horse (and I'm obsessed with horses), and I love all things cherry. I do not regret this purchase. Add a generous splash of this ruby red spirit to ginger ale, drink it straight, use it in a martini...it'll be good.


Off to make a cocktail...


That's all for now. What are your summer faves?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Find more frantic fun on Facebook!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thoughts on my birthday...


Well, folks, tomorrow is my birthday. While they are not as exciting as they are for our little ones, birthdays have a way of making us pause and reflect on the past year, the future, the present.

This year flew by for me for many reasons. One reason is that my son is in school now. As soon as he started kindergarten last year (he's now finishing up 1st grade), time sped up. Add in sports and extras, and the wheels haven't stopped in our house. Gone are the endless baby and toddler days, and that's mostly a good thing. I'd rather be out, busy, enjoying life than spending time in the house warped in nap schedules and baby routines (so new mamas, take heart-- there's hope!).


Oddly enough, I found this image with the "36" (my new age) on a photo database.
A sign of...something?
Also, I wish that were my cake :).



I also took on more work this year. I tutored throughout the school year, took on a regular contributing writer/reporter position for our local newspaper, and contributed more frequently to magazines and websites. I also renewed my teaching license. 

Whew! 

I'm tired just thinking about it all, but I don't regret the extra time I carved out for these professional and personal pursuits. While taking on more work projects ate up what remained of my meager social and free time, it feels really good to have my foot back in the teaching realm as well as quite a few publications under my belt.So what goals do I have for this next year? Truthfully, I haven't had much time to think about it [see above]. I'll have to keep you posted. I suppose at this point, my motto is 'keep on keeping on!'

How about you? How do birthdays make you feel? Old? Young? Accomplished, or not so much? Do you set goals each year? If so, what are they?

There's still a lot I want to do in my life. I hope I continue to be inspired in the upcoming year. I hope to be a content wife and mother while making room for my own passions and career.

And of course, I hope to write fresh posts on my trusty Frantic Mama blog for another year!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama