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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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Late Spring Means All the Feels

Just about any mother will tell you there are countless bittersweet moments that arise from the very beginning of parenthood.

For me, many of these feelings are especially powerful in late spring, a time when certain events/patterns/routines come to an end, and new beginnings are on the horizon.

In the next week, my daughter-- my baby-- will graduate from preschool. If you've been reading my blog since the early days, surely this shocks you as much as it does me. This is my second baby, who was born September 12, 2012. That makes her 5.5. (Yes, she missed our kindergarten cut-off by 11 days!).

Recently, I've been feeling myself tear up when a certain nostalgic song plays on the radio or when I'm dropping her off and picking her up from school. 

We drive by her future kindergarten and part of me is excited for this new chapter, I'll admit. For the first time in over 8 years, my days will be my own again. I'm excited to get back into the classroom again more, devote more time to writing and tutoring, take care of our pets and our house, and even indulge in a little self-care now and then.

But mixed into that excitement is a sense of loss. I'm sad this chapter of our life-- little feet in velcro shoes scrambling to get ready for preschool after her big brother gets on the bus, attending every one of those crazy and adorable preschool Christmas concerts, even just time spent lying around on the couch together in the afternoons...all those little things we shared for the last few years will be over.

I hope she'll still say "I love you" as heartfelt and as fervently as she does every morning now when I drop her off. Though I know surely these profusions of emotions will fade as she gets older. I wonder if she'll remember all the time we spent together, just the two of us while her brother was in school, doing simple everyday things-- eating English muffin pizzas for lunch, kicking an old soccer ball in the yard, making dozens and dozens of cookies, or just running to the grocery and convincing her not to dump every bag of Nestle chocolate chips into our cart.

What an overwhelming sense of gratitude and grief these transitions bring us. What's your next chapter going to bring?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Writing for Fun and for Purpose

Now that years of blogging has turned into a dream-come-true freelance writing career (not magically, but after long hours, patience, honing my craft, dedication, and many a bruised ego later), sometimes I forget why I started blogging in the first place: for fun!

Yes, the purpose of Frantic Mama was to reach out to other mothers and to serve as a creative outlet for the frustrations and joys of new motherhood, but it was also simply because I love writing and always have. Why not blog?

It's easy for me to forget now-- in a world of deadlines, nerve-racking interviews, and editor expectations-- that the primary reason I type away on my trusty little computer in any spare hour I have rather than, say...go to a yoga class or clean my because it's a part of me. If I go too long without writing for the pure enjoyment of it, I start experiencing a very specific feeling of malaise that something is missing. It takes a bit of soul-searching for me to put my finger on what is causing the funk. Which is ridiculous because I should know by now.

Oh well.

Here's my point: One of my new professional writing avenues has been animal writing (yeah, it's a thing), often equestrian-focused. If you know me in person (and have for a long time), you know I'm kind of obsessed with animals-- big, small, tiny. All of them.

To live out my goal of having more fun in my writing and finding ways to contribute to animal welfare, I've volunteered to help out a dog rescue and adoption organization with their website content (NBRAN: the National Brittany Rescue & Adoption Network). I am really excited about it-- and to think, I'm not getting paid! Not a cent! And I'm glad! Taking on un-paid opportunities to write is the best kind of fun for a writer.

Photo from NBRAN Website: the National Brittany Rescue & Adoption Network

[Pssst... I can't keep secrets from all of you! I do have a wee bit of a side motive here: I'm working on convincing Frantic Mama Hubby that the time has come for us to add our (hopefully) final family member to our pack!]

Here's the rescue organization's site. I'm writing the bios for all the sweet Brittanys (one of my favorite breeds of all time) who need loving homes as well as other content/newsletter stuff.

In the meantime, I have a little takeaway for anyone wanting one: remember to make time for fun in your life. Of course I know writing essays and blog posts isn't everyone's definition of fun, but what's your definition of fun? And how will you make time for it in your own life to be the best, happiest version of yourself you can be?

Yes, you are busy. So am I. We all are. (Have you ever met someone who said they weren't). A third generation (very busy) Nebraskan rancher I recently interviewed said this: "Busy people find the time." If I weren't married, I'd fall in love with the guy! Truer words were never spoken. I totally agree-- if you want to do something, you can and deserve to make the time to do it.

I'd love to hear from other mothers (and fathers) who are busy with children, careers, hubbies, etc., but who make time for pure, un-paid FUN. How do you do it and what do you do?


~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

New Family Member (no, not a baby!)

I had no shortage of pets growing up. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish... you name it, we likely had it!

Then last year, my own family brought home our first family pet-- a sweet, tiny, fluffy calico kitty, Pikachu (named by my son). My little guy had been in love with cats as long as he could talk, and he got me on board quickly. As luck would have it, at the barn where I ride (yes, horses are another 'pet' of sorts), a quiet little calico looked less than thrilled with being a barn cat (year after year!).

She made the PERFECT transition to our home and we wouldn't trade her for the world. I think she was holding out for us all those years on the barn bench.

Fast forward a year, and welllll... I might have been scrolling through the Humane Society "adoptable animals" page late one night [#insomniaprobs] and happened on a photo of the most charming, unusual little creature I had ever seen. Upon closer inspection, it turned out he was a Lionhead Rabbit. And he needed a home.

The next day was Valentine's Day, and I figured it couldn't hurt to go take a peek at him and also give the other homeless animals some love on that day of love. My daughter and I had a wonderful time there and of course decided it was up to us to give the somewhat grumpy, fluffy gray bunny a new lease on life in a loving home.

The next day, I had things ready for him at our house, and he was now officially named Georgie (i.e. Sir Wigglestail III).  Naturally, he was shy and scared of us at first. But I read everything I could on rabbits, and he is really seeming to be enjoying his new digs, and we are giving him the space he needs to feel comfortable here.

He's a free-roam bunny, which means he has run of our entire upstairs most of the day! Yes, you can litter train rabbits! They are much happier when they have plenty of room to hop around. He loves his greens and his hay, and I've even caught him 'playing' a bit-- hopping as fast as he can down the hallway. I imagine he would say "bah humbug" a lot if he could talk, but that only endears him to us even more.

The only slight challenge has been introducing him to our sweet "Peeks." You see, cats are predators, and bunnies are prey. Yeah. Though they are both adorable little fluffy-fluffs, that doesn't mean they become instant best friends.

So far, the interactions are going fine. Pikachu and Georgie are starting to slowly approach each other and sniff (under our supervision). Georgie usually ends up getting gun-shy and offers a big thump and hops away. I have the sense Pikachu's feelings get a little hurt feelings from this, so I'm determined to keep trying.

Here they are! Doing their best to ignore each other!

Updates will continue! Be sure to follow our adventures with Georgie the Bunny and Pikachu the Cat on Instagram (where I apparently can't stop posting photos of them)! (

Do you have pets? What kind and what will you get next???

~Julia and her budding zoo @ Frantic Mama