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, we can do 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 to inspect what 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

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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


Friday, June 2, 2017

Amazon Prints is REALLY worth the try! $1000 of Amazon Gift Cards to be Won!

I'm a big fan of Amazon.com. Amazon and I go way back-- I remember when they just sold books in ye olden days when I was in college. Now you can get just about anything from them, photos included.

I'm obsessed with taking photos of my family (and of nature and animals and everything else). The problem with all these digital photos is that they often add up on my phone and camera instead of being printed and organized in a nice album or photo gift we can actually enjoy.





Amazon to the rescue! 

Amazon has launched a photo printing service that allows all customers to print their memories. Prime members can upload images to their Prime Photos account, print the product of their choice, and receive free delivery. 

If you’re not a Prime member, you’ll receive 5 GB of storage free on Prime Photos and be able to print your photos. Prints start as low as $0.09, but I'm a sucker for the photo canvases and photo calendar creation (I give my husband a family photo calendar with our favorite photos each Christmas. He says it's his favorite gift.). 

Here's a fun gift card giveaway I'm a part of in collaboration with Amazon: 






I hope one of my readers wins the big cash prize (because naturally my readers are the best!). In the meantime, keep snapping those photos! If you're anything like me, you'd rather have too many than too few :).

 ~ Julia @ Frantic Mama


*Thanks to Amazon for sponsoring this post and providing prizes for the giveaway!
**Amazon, Fire, and the Amazon Fire TV logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Thoughts on my First Born's 7th Birthday


OMG. Omggggg you guys. My first born turned 7-- SEVEN-- last week. My longterm, loyal [amazing] readers know I reflect every year on my son's birthday, ever since I started the blog, right before he turned 2. TWO!

You know how everyone loves to inform exhausted, overwhelmed new mothers that "it goes by so fast-- enjoy every second!"? And how that 'advice' is completely annoying most of the time because if you are home all day every day with babies, toddlers, and young children the days go by anything but fast? Don't worry, I'm not one of those people. I don't have the Motherhood Amnesia so characteristic of mothers-in-law and random grocery-store shoppers.


This photo courtesy of the Mother-Son date I took him on for Mother's Day.
I treasure our rare one-one-one times and need to make them happen more often!

I can now say that okay, yes, I see how (in a way) the years do go by fast. But not the days. Definitely not the days. I've had some doozies in my life as a mom, and I have earned each one of these 7 years (~2,555 days) as a Mom Veteran. I'm a fighter, baby! And I'm still standing.

Still, I've said it before and I'll say it again this year: What my son's birthday most poignantly reminds me of is that Motherhood has brought me the greatest challenges in my life, but it has also brought me the most joy in my life. I'm forever grateful for my son. I love the person he has always been and, maybe even more, the one he is becoming.

Here's to the next 7 years of Motherhood... the challenges, the joys, the heartache, the triumphs... ALL of it.

Much love from me to all of you who have been with me since the beginning, and also to newer visitors. It truly takes a village-- and I don't care if it's online!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

You can find more of me on Facebook.