Monday, October 16, 2017

Letting Go of Holiday Card Angst


It's fall, arguably the most gorgeous season of all, which can only mean one thing... golden leaves? plump pumpkins? Nope. MAKING HOLIDAY CARDS & the frantic attempts for the perfect photo.

[insert blood pressure spike here]

Let's take a deep breath together now... Innnnn....Outtttt...

Whew!

Isn't it defeating to point of it all-- spreading good cheer-- to make the annual holiday card some kind of competition/stress case/source of insomnia? I've noticed over the last few years that the majority of cards we receive are professionally created and beautifully crafted. Nothing wrong with that. IF you enjoy it. After all, I love a great family photo, and I think the expense of getting them professionally done now and then is worth every penny.

BUT an annual formal family shoot with the intention of sharing it with everyone on our address list totally stresses me out. Planning the perfect time, place, outfits, and most challenging of all-- getting the kids to behave-- is the stuff of tension headaches and heavy drinking.


#reallife

This year I've let my expectations go. We will still make a card, of course, but I have let go of the idea of the 'perfect' one.

Last Sunday, in fact, my husband asked, "should we take a photo now?" I looked at our clothes-- we happened to still be in church clothes-- not perfect, but not bad. The sun was out. The leaves were pretty. The kids were...well fed and relatively content.

"Why not?" I shrugged. While smiling and kneeling on the wet grass with wiggly children wasn't the most fun 10 minutes of my life, it wasn't so bad. I liked the spur of the moment feel because there was zero pressure and buildup.

Are the tripod results yielding my favorite photos of all time? Not so much. But all four of us are looking at the camera with some semblance of a smile on our faces with our eyes open. This year, it'll do.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Favorite Fall Shows


I'll admit it: I love a good show I can really sink my teeth into. In general I prefer comedies, but I'm not averse to the occasional drama or reality show.

Here are a few shows I'll carve out time for when I can this fall (usually OnDemand!).

1. This is Us
A rare drama in the Frantic Mama household. If you are one of the few people who has not yet watched this gem (which started last year), you are missing out. Such good acting. Such a cool concept (jumps around various time periods). Just. So. Good.




2. Young Sheldon
Why did they only show us 1 episode and then announce it won't really start until November? I don't know, but that one episode has piqued my interest. If you like the Big Bang Theory (and I do), then you'll probably like this one: it's all about young Sheldon (aptly named). It's not all snark and sarcasm; there's a real sweetness to it. Plus, the boy (in a good way) reminds me of my son, and any camaraderie I can get with that situation is embraced.


3. The Middle
What an underrated show! It's been around forever, so you'd be remiss to start anywhere but the beginning. I'm thrilled it's on for another season. The characters are SO REAL. This is one show (besides sports) FranticMamaHubby likes too.


4. Before the 90 Days
My guilty-not-so-guilty pleasure. Delicious in all its reality show glory. This is about couples spending time together before their 90 day visa begins (based on the main TLC show, 90 Day Fiance, about couples who meet abroad (or online) and then have 90 days to marry if one of them moves to the U.S. due to citizenship laws). These shows document-- quite realistically in my opinion-- what happens during such a unique, emotionally intense situation. I Can't Look Away. Don't make me.





5. I'm open.
No, that's not the name of a show. I really am open to suggestions. Someone mentioned there's another season of Curb Your Enthusiasm coming our way? Is this true? If so, sign me up! What about Portlandia? I think I'm all caught up unless there's a season 8 or 9? I don't want to miss out on any Women and Women First action. Anyway, I want to hear what you love to watch, so tell me!




~Julia @ Frantic Mama 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How to Make Glitter Slime


Yes, you read the title correctly: I'm writing one of my rare how-to posts.

But first, a little backstory: All summer, my daughter asked if we could make slime. She saw it on some silly kids channel online and was dead set on making her own. Plus, she loves anything having to do with mixing and measuring. All summer long, I put it off. "Sure, sure we can do that...at some point." Well, all the sudden, it was the last day of summer break, and I felt pretty crummy-- we still hadn't made the darn slime.




I'm happy to report, however, I pulled up those shirtsleeves and we did it. We made slime. The incredible part was that for the recipe I found, we actually had all of the ingredients (there were only 3, but still).

Ready to show your kids you still have a little fun left in you?

Here's what you'll need:

Baking soda, glue, and contact lens solution.
Ingredients:
4-6 oz. glue (we used the blue glitter kind, naturally; or, if you're using white glue, you can simply add glitter into the mixture).
1/2 tablespoon of baking soda (we used a little more)
1/4 -- 1/2 tablespoon contact lens solution (if the slime seems too sticky, add an extra tablespoon of this)
This is not a perfect science. Play around to get the consistency your kid likes. 

Here comes the tricky part-- NOT-- You mix it all in a bowl.




Mixing was her favorite part. 
We added more baking soda than the original recipe to make it thicker.





That's it! She got her slime, and I got...a sticky bowl and a happy kid. 

P.S. I used old dishcloths to scoop out the slime and throw it in the trash when she was finished. I didn't risk putting it down the sink and clogging everything up!

What "fun" activities did your kids convince you to do recently?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama



Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hummingbirds, Elmer's Glue, & an Umbrella

Yesterday, while in a waiting room, I had the chance to page through a magazine I've never read before: Birds & Blooms, all about, of course, birds and flowers.

This particular issue focused on one of earth's most magical creatures-- hummingbirds. Plus, it was the only magazine in the waiting area, so I opened it up.

Paging through the issue, I happened to land on an incredible true short essay that caught my attention. It made such an impact on me that I want to share the gist of it with all of you:




One day, the author noticed a tiny hummingbird nest on a tree in their yard in Arizona. The eggs must have been miniscule. A few days later, however, the nest and its two eggs were on ground. The mother hummingbird frantically flew around the fallen nest, clearly distraught. One of the baby birds didn't make it. The other egg, however, was still intact.

The author somehow thought to use Elmer's glue to help restore and secure the tiny nest to its tree branch. The mother hummingbird went right back to guarding her single egg. She didn't abandon it.

The mother and her nest were soon in for another challenge as a hailstorm was fast approaching. The author stood out in the hail to protect the nest using an umbrella. Eventually, the wind was too much for the umbrella and it snapped. For rest of the storm, the author used her hands to shield the nest. Miraculously, the egg and nest remained intact after the storm.

When the bee-sized baby bird emerged from its fragile egg, it appeared the mother and baby hummingbird knew how much this human had helped them. Hummingbirds are notoriously skittish, but these two happily buzz about the author and her husband. The baby has even perched on the author's shoulder.

I find this story remarkable for so many reasons. I love witnessing that fierce, instinctual mother-child protection. In this story, we see two versions of it-- with the mother hummingbird, and with the human.

I love that in a world so often filled with cruelty and sadness, one where everyone always laments how "busy" they are, someone devoted so much time and care to help one of earth's tiniest creatures.

And I love a happy ending.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama 


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