Thursday, November 15, 2018

Laughing with me or at me?

I've known from a young age I am more sensitive than the average Joe. If there were a scale (1 being extremely hardened to ten being extremely sensitive, I'd be a solid 8 (9/10 if I'm lacking sleep)).

It helped clarify things for me when I stumbled upon the Highly Sensitive Child and the Highly Sensitive Person when my son was in preschool and I was trying to put my finger on what made him a little 'different' or, shall we say, quirky, than roughly 75% of kids (about 25% of the population, according to the author, falls into the Highly Sensitive category).

Bingo! That's it! He has a heightened sensitivity to the world around us. I remember it felt like one of those cartoon light bulbs turning on above my head. (Note: despite the name, the trait of high sensitivity isn't all about 'getting feelings hurt easily,' like most of us associate the word 'sensitive' with. That just happens to be the aspect I'm focusing on today).

As it turned out, my husband read the books too and figured out he was the same way. So I suppose we are a family of highly sensitive people.

I've embraced this trait now and I actually enjoy watching it manifest in my children. Being highly sensitive may not make things easier, but it can be a gift in many ways, and it can help us grow our empathy.

Still. With gifts come challenges, yes?

Confession time:

I HATE feeling like I am being laughed at. I hate it when I'm not taken seriously. I'm sure no one likes it, as children show hurt when being teased early on. That feeling has never gone away for me.

How about you? It's not fun for anyone, right?

Nothing shuts me down faster. The walls go right up.

As soon as I start to feel like the joke is on me, a barely-concealed mean/sarcastic face is being made about something I said, or there's a chuckle at something I said that was not intended to be funny, I commence the shut-down process.

I either:

A. Escape the conversation (in the case of a fight or flight response, that definitely falls into the second category).

B. If A is impossible, I try to refocus the conversation on someone or something else, the self-protective message being, if you are going to make fun of me, this part of the conversation is over. 

Neither of these responses are perfect or ideal, I guess, but I'm always a little in shock in the moment (the comebacks I come up with at 2 a.m. are so good though!).

Shockingly to a highly sensitive person, some people do NOT appear to pick up on Cue A or Cue B. How do I know this? Because they repeat the behavior! Over and over again. What do you do if there is a certain person or people in your life who find a way to laugh at you every chance they get? I'm asking, because I don't know!

Maybe I'm an easy target because I wear a soft-shell, but I feel like there is a small handful of people in my life who have demonstrated this behavior on a frequent basis. People I know are decent people-- they're certainly not evil! So why do they do it?

Is ignorance bliss? Are they squarely located on the 1-3 section of the scale, where it truly doesn't click that 'oh, laughing at everything she says is probably verging on Mean Girls territory?'

Or is it social awkwardness on their part? Do they laugh our of nervousness or anxiety? That at least gives me some patience with it.

Or is it something darker?

Should I just point it out right when it happens, and hope it puts things to a stop once and for all? [cringe!]

I'm not sure. It may make things worse. Or at least painfully uncomfortable. What I do know is that I don't laugh at people who aren't making jokes, and I'm teaching my kids to do the same.

I'm also asking on behalf of us 7 plusses on the scale, to all of you 5 and under folks, to take a step back occasionally during social visits with your friends and family. Do you notice you laugh at one of them frequently? Are you sure they're trying to be funny? Are they truly enjoying the conversation? It's good to remember not everything is a joke, and not everyone wants their comments laughed at or to see eyes rolling when they talk. It's belittling and hurtful, even if we try to be brave and smile through it.

That's my PSA for the day, folks. Especially as Thanksgiving is hurtling rolling towards us. We'll all be in close quarters with lots of people soon. I'm far from perfect, but I know I have a heightened awareness of feelings-- even more so now that I have children-- and I'll be working hard to be kind to those around me. That's what I want them to see. There are a lot of feelings out there, and it sure makes the holidays more fun when we take a step back and think about how we talk with people and the reactions we give them.

P.S. And if you are thinking hmmmm is this about me? Maybe pause and ask yourself, hmmmm why do I think this could be about me?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Friday, October 5, 2018

Five Friday Faves: It's BACK!

One of my favorite series from Frantic Mama was my weekly Five Friday Faves, where I picked a few things/foods/drinks/activities I was loving and shared them with my wonderful readers. That list turned into a bi-weekly one, to seasonal, to...well, it's been a while.

Life gets busy, as we all know.

But I want to revive the Five Faves this year! It is extremely unlikely (re: not going to happen) that I'll manage a new list every week, but let's hope I can share some faves about once a month. Goals are good, right?

So here we go. For the first time in a looooongggg time, may I present you with Frantic Mama's Five Friday Faves: October 2018 Edition!

1. Tone It Up Protein Powder. Did you buy tickets to the gun show yet? Because you better watch out for my killer biceps! Ha. Yeah right. But I have always been a pretty health-conscious person. Maybe a health nut, even. Whatever. I like feeling energized, strong, and active. The thing is, I also need a lot of fuel throughout the day to stay active and energized. You'll never find me without a granola bar on hand. I've been adding more protein to my daily diet, and I even started using protein powder for the first time.

This brand, Tone It Up, is something I noticed at Target on a whim. I always associated protein powder with big dudes who go to gyms (I am neither of those things), but this line is clearly geared towards those of us with two X chromosomes.

It also uses pea protein, which I prefer to meat-based or whey protein, and it doesn't have anything artificial in it. I try to mix it into a smoothie a few days a week.

Here's my winning recipe: 8 oz. almond, soy, or dairy milk, half a banana, a few strawberries, a few ice cubes, and one scoop of this powder. Throw it all in a blender and voila! A delicious protein shake that also helps get more fruit into my diet.

2. You Do You, edited by Jen Mann. I'd be remiss not to mention a little book I happened to contribute to... 

You Do You: a collection of essays from all-female, multi-generational authors, sharing their thoughts on being a girl, raising daughters, or simply being female in today's world.

It's funny. It's bittersweet. It's inspiring. Buy your copy today to support the authors. 
Share it with your friends!

Find it online, in Kindle or Paperback on Amazon, or on iTunes for your iPad.

3. Beta Brand Pants

A friend (and longtime Frantic Mama lurker ;)) told me about these pants when I noticed how nice her work slacks always looked. She called them Yoga Pants Work Pants or something like that, and since I speak fluent Yoga Pants, I knew I had to try them out.

Indeed. They feature an elastic waistband (hooray!), and the material is stretchy but substantial and not as casual as workout leggings or yoga pants. 

I ordered the new bootcut style with pockets, and it was true love!

Caution: I'm almost 5'6, and I exchanged the regular length for petite. I don't wear high heels often ever, so I wanted mine to fit with flats. Just a head's up for the under 5'7 set!

4. Magnolia Paints. 

Those who have been with me for a while know I love me a little home improvement project now and then. Well, the time has finally friggin' come for our dining room makeover!

"Makeover" might be a little strong, but I have wanted to repaint the room since we moved in about 7 years ago! 7 YEARS! It's currently bright turquoise. I love turquoise. I just don't want it on my dining room walls.

Part of the problem is that Frantic Mama Hubby is a self-admitted commitment-phobe (yes, we dated forever), so agreeing on colors was too hard, and I gave up trying to find one. 

Magnolia paints to the rescue! Who doesn't love Fixer Upper? Don't you want to climb into the t.v. and move into any single house they have ever 'fixed up?' 

It's a show both of us actually like (magic!) and we almost always agree on the design and colors Chip and Joanna choose (yes, let's say I'm on a first-name basis with them). 

Frantic Mama Hubby TOTALLY SHOCKED me one day recently, when he showed me the color sample he brought home (after nixing all of the taupes I had tried). 

Do you want to know what color he-- my duck-hunting, sports-obsessed, meat-eating, all-American husband chose?


The Magnolia pinks are SO BEAUTIFUL and subtle and not cotton candy at all. In a dining room, with our black furniture and sparkly chandelier, I think it is going to be what the kids call On Point. (stay tuned). I can't wait to get started! (One minor detail: we haven't agreed on the white trim yet. Of course.)

5. Ketel One Cucumber & Mint.

You didn't think I'd leave out a cocktail in my Friday Faves, did you? Heavens no! 

There's just one teeny, tiny hiccup: I haven't actually tried it yet. This delightful-looking concoction was an impulse buy at the new grocery store in town, and I grabbed a bottle to add to my quickly growing bill.

But don't panic. Don't worry one little bit, folks. I will do my due diligence and give it a try tonight! 

Cheers! Happy Friday!

What's on your fave list these days? Do tell! I love trying new things, and if I love yours, I'll try to feature it in a future list.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

P.S. Want to help spread the word about Frantic Mama? Try sharing this post on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Or leave a comment. Or, just find me and like me on Facebook. All of these feed the deep dark emptiness in my soul. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Exciting News

I'm soooo excited. My essay was accepted to be part of Jen Mann's newest anthology, You Do You, a collection of essays and poetry with an all-female line-up. What makes it even more unique is that women and girls of all ages contributed to this book, from high school on up!

Today is release day!

Jen Mann is the author and editor behind the New York Times bestselling book, I Just Want to Pee Alone (what mother can't relate to that? Genius.) and the "People I want to Punch in the Throat" series (yes, it's as badass as it sounds).

My essay in You Do You is in part inspired by my young daughter-- the girl in my life who constantly reminds me to evaluate how I'm currently living and how I want to live, and to make sure those are lining up as much as they can.

I am forever trying to set a positive example for both of my kids, fully aware that being a mother plays a powerful role in shaping our children's belief systems and futures.

I'm in love with the sparkly, pink cover design. 

My essay is also, in part, inspired by a frustrating trend I'd noticed on social media last year-- basically, women frequently giving so much credit to everyone else for their accomplishments. I saw a need to remind women and girls that it is more than okay-- it's the right thing to do-- to take credit for much of what we accomplish and achieve. No one does our lives for us, so let's take some credit where credit is due!

Here's the thing: I'm aware my story might rub some people the wrong way. It might come off as abrasive (or, one of my most hated terms: "femi-nazi." Just Yuck.), but it was a story I had to tell whether or not people would like it. As soon as I heard Jen Mann's concept, I knew this is the piece I had to write.

So if you're feeling inspired, intrigued, fierce-- or want to feel that way-- head on over to Amazon, iTunes, and Nook for Barnes & Noble, and buy your own lovely copy of You Do You. In doing so, you'll be supporting all of the contributors and our independent publisher.

Want more ideas on how to support me and this publication? Here are some simple ideas to consider:

  • Choose it for your next book club pick.
  • Give a copy to your daughter, niece, cousin, or neighbor in high school or college. 
  • Buy a copy for yourself and then save it for your daughter when she is old enough to read it. 
  • Share your thoughts about it on Facebook (especially if you like it!).
  • Give some as Christmas gifts to friends, sisters, in-laws, teachers.
  • Bonus Points: Boys and men can read it too. In fact, they would be a fantastic audience.

Thank you for your support of Frantic Mama and for all of the books I've contributed to! In the meantime, my wish for you is: YOU DO YOU!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Summertime, and the livin's... not easy

Ah, summertime. 

The long, warm days. The endless hours with nothing to do except lounge in a hammock...strolling to a neighborhood pub in the evening to enjoy a mojito during the last light of day... yeah right.

I suppose there is a brief time in our lives when summer feels just like that. Elementary school, middle school (without the pub), college summers-- the times before you have a hardcore summer job or are working full-time, and especially before you have kids of your own.

I enjoy summer, I promise I do: I love warm, sunny weather, of course, and I love that it stays light longer. I love going to eat outside and dragging my husband to at least one big outdoor concert. I even love baseball games. I love that I can get my kids outside to play as much as possible. Being able to go to a park, go on a bike ride, play in the yard-- all of those things help the kids and I stay somewhat sane during the summer months.

But by August, this is pretty much what I look like:

Actually, she looks better than I do. She has real pants on.

By August, I miss being ALONE. I know everyone needs alone time, but if you are introverted (meaning your energy is restored by being alone for a significant period of time), then you really start to miss connecting to your inner life and attending to the things that bring you joy as an individual.

Plus, I now officially work part-time, freelance writing and tutoring kids with special needs. I work as much as I can in the summer, but believe it or not, I actually miss working my normal hours in the summer (namely, when my kids are in school/preschool). I love what I do, and it's extremely trying to get work done with two young kids underfoot, as you can imagine.

So yeah, I'm more than a little ready for the yellow buses to make a stop at our driveway...

But in Minnesota, schools don't start back until...wait for it... after Labor Day! We kick it old school here because everyone has to go to "the cabin" for one last hoorah.

All that said, I work hard to create a happy summer for my son, daughter, and me. I don't just stick them in front of the t.v.  or set my son up with the Xbox (though those tools do come in handy when I'm about to lose my sh*t.).

My favorite thing to do is head out after breakfast-- when I still have some energy and coffee in my system-- and take the kids to a new place. Nothing too far, and nothing too crowded (introverted, remember?). Bathrooms with running water are a real plus.

Just look at this cute gazebo we stumbled upon after I made them go to a Farmer's Market with me on Friday:

They even kind of let me take a photo of them-- together!

We also [attempt] to grow 'stuff' every summer. This year, my daughter was desperate to plant veggies from seeds. It was worth a shot. We planted cucumbers, radish, watermelon (yeah right!), and carrots from seeds.

Here's what we got:

Yes, carrots. Two of them. The tiniest ones of all time. And yes, we ate them.

And check this out! We even did the whole 'making s'mores in the fire pit' thing!

I'll keep this for proof that we did outdoorsy things!

I'm not perfect. Obviously. These are just a few Facebook-worthy snapshots of some fun things we did. 

This summer, I also raised my voice more than I would have liked. The kids tortured one too many babysitters while I was tutoring or attempting to enjoy a date night. The kids never slept past 6:30 a.m. all summer. Sadly, I don't think I got in a pool with them at all, not even once. Trust me, we haven't had a 'perfect' summer, and it's more than okay if you didn't either. 

In fact, there's nothing that bugs me more than moms feeling like they have to pretend, all Pollyanna-like, that the summer months are the Best Thing Ever. They can be great, yes, and they can also challenging, no matter what your work/home balance is. Life with kids is full of these so good/so hard periods. 

As always, I push myself to keep it real. That's the whole point of Frantic Mama, and it has been since the beginning, in 2011, when I decided to let it all hang out and connect with other moms who loved their children but certainly didn't love every second of Motherhood.

So here's to all the moms (and dads) keeping it real this summer. Cheers. You deserve it.

My friend gave me this delicious beer. It's friends like her who remind me why I like people.

What are you looking forward to this September? And yes, it's okay to admit it!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Friday, June 15, 2018

How I Became a Baseball Mom

When you become a mother, you learn a lot quickly. Whether you want to or not. Admittedly, some of these lessons are painful-- how to [always] put someone's needs above your own (nursing a baby when you desperately need to go to the bathroom, anyone?), spending an entire day at the airport entertaining toddlers, excruciating nap routines-- the list goes on. 

Fortunately, some of the best lessons we learn are good ones.

I recently learned something new about myself: I'm a Baseball Mom.

If you knew me before kids, this should shock you. I used to automatically yawn and grab a book when my husband put on a baseball game. Baseball looked like the most boring sport (besides golf) imaginable. The thought of actually playing it myself in some kind of adult softball league was laughable. The idea alone of the ball coming at me and hitting my square in the face-- not in a million years, thankyouverymuch!

But then something happened. Last spring, my husband enrolled my son in coach pitch. I didn't even know what that meant (if you are like me, it means the coach of the kid's team pitches to his team, and vice versa). My son was just turning 7 at the time, and while I could tell he had some interest, and I knew my husband had dreamed of this very moment, I dreaded sitting around all evening trying to entertain my daughter while watching a sport I didn't like. 

And yet...

I got to see things like this:

My husband pitches to my son. A beautiful moment. 

As the nights went on, and the warm Minnesota spring took over, I started to enjoy those long baseball nights sitting in a folding chair, watching these still-little boys play and sometimes goof around in their tiny baseball uniforms. My daughter, as it turns out, relishes nothing more than the innocent freedom she enjoys on the nearby playground area, making new friends. In fact, she begs to go to every single game.

My son just turned 8. He is in coach pitch again-- the last year before kid pitch-- and his team is getting better each game. It is truly an honor to watch these guys (some of whom are in kindergarten!) get their hard-earned hits and joyfully run the bases. I cheer just as loud for the kids who don't belong to me. And I actually mean it! I'm excited! 

My husband is coaching again, and I am so proud of him. It is a completely volunteer position which he devotes countless hours to each week. I love his whole coaching philosophy. Learning how to play baseball isn't easy-- it takes practice, attention, and you have to stick with it to get better. His whole goal at this age is to get the boys to like it enough that they want to sign up again next year. He could care less about who wins or loses these games-- he wants the kids to be a part of a team and have a fun learning experience. I've never seen him raise his voice (unless it's to put down a metal bat), and I think the kids feel this and have a much better time because of it.

My sons adorable teammates cheer him on after a hit. Nothing's better than watching the smile on your kid's amazed face when they hit that d*mn ball!

So even though the days are long and we are all more than tired by the time we make it to our beds that night, I enjoy every minute of watching these games. I've even watched happily through the pouring rain! So this month you'll find me-- the newest member of the Baseball Moms Club-- cheering louder at any baseball game than I ever could have predicted.

Motherhood continually changes us. Thankfully it's often for the better.

*This post was written in honor of FranticMamaHubby: Happy Father's Day! We love you!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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