Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Is it so bad...

I'm realizing something more than ever this summer. Okay, it's something I've known for a while but haven't admitted to many.

Are you ready?

Are you really, really ready, and willing to withhold judgement?

Here it is: One of my favorite activities to do with my kids is watch shows.

It's out there. I said it.

This is our living room. Just kidding!

Why does that seem taboo to admit? I think it's because of all the "shoulds" I constantly feel. I should be stimulating their brains with puzzles. I should be organizing playdates and social outings for them. I should be working with them to create that impossible-looking Lego set someone gave us. I should...

And I do those things when I can.

But oh, how nice it is after a rushed morning, a difficult mealtime, or a harried trip to the grocery to to sit peacefully with my kids, often on the couch next to my son and with my little daughter on my lap?

It's one of my only my chances during the day to get off my feet. It gives me a chance to hold or lean into them. It's a time with little to no arguing (for a lovely 15 minutes). Are you starting to get it? It's nice.

So here I am readers-- I admit it. Watching a show (or two) with my kids helps keep me sane, especially this summer, as we have had oh so much time together. I urge you to find what keeps you sane too.

P.S. Curious to know what we've been watching this summer? A 1980's favorite of mine, the original Thundercats! It's weird and insane (the characters are half-person half-feline), but also kind of awesome. Add it to your watchlist if you dare!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Getting Older

I have a summer birthday-- June 9th-- so aging is on my mind. I never wanted to be someone who pretends to be another age (younger), or who hates her birthday and pretends it doesn't exist. Why not own who you are and all that you've accomplished?

Now that I'm in my mid-30's, I look at people who lie about their age less critically. Because I get it. There are hard parts of getting older-- physically and emotionally. It's kind of Pollyanna to act like you ABSOLUTELY LOVE getting older every year, isn't it?

I don't think most of us can honestly deny that we wouldn't mind getting rid of a wrinkle here or a sun spot there. I don't think many of us choose to let our hair go totally gray at age 30, do we? And I still flinch when the checkout guy calls me "ma'am."

A photo from my 33rd or 34th birthday (I honestly don't remember! Ha!)

In my 20's, I could pluck out those frizzly stray grays now and then (I started getting them early!) with a satisfying pull of the tweezers, but now if I don't add a bit of color in my hair, there's a definite gray cast around the temples and hairline. I'm not ready to go gray.

So while I own up to how old I am-- 35-- I don't think it's unforgivable to add a little color here, a little extra SPF there. We have to do what feels right to us as we get...older...yes, I said it.

All that said, when I reflect on my current stage of life, there are plenty of challenges (I won't go into those right now), but it's also pretty fantastic. I feel good. Happy. I have a lot of life left in me.

On Parent.co, I share 10 Reasons Being in Your 30's Doesn't Suck. I think my reasoning could expand to your 40's and 50's and beyond. I hope you agree!

Happy Birthday to all of you this upcoming year ;).

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Friendly Collaboration

Hello friends!

How is summer (here in the U.S.) treating you?

As you can see from the absence of recent blog posts on my site, summer is keeping me...busy.

Mostly busy in a good way. I love the warmer weather and the chance to spend time outdoors with my kids.

But there's also a lack of structure that my son especially craves, so that's a challenge. (Not to mention, my lack of alone time!)

However, I did have a chance to write and publish an essay, Life Imitates Art, for Mamalode recently.

I worked on it with my artist and writer friend, Swati, who you can find over at Mammabugbitme.

Swati's one-of-a-kind paintings inspired me to write about the experiences so many of us share in Motherhood-- whether we live next door to each other or across the world.

Mamalode's June theme was "You are Not Alone," and I think Swati's artwork exquisitely conveys that message.

See what I mean? Who CAN'T relate to this beautiful art by Swati?

I would love it if you headed over to Mamalode to read it and share it with any of your fellow mom friends who need support and encouragement.

P.S. And if you are in the mood for even more Frantic Mama fun, head over to Parent.co to read my essay, "All the Monsters My Kids Don't Know."

Happy Summer, everyone!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Focusing on the Good

It's so easy-- natural, even-- to obsess about all the challenges in our lives as mothers. Is your kid all the sudden not sleeping? You wonder why. Are your kids in a "I only eat plain hot dogs and Cheez-its stage?" You worry they'll never eat a piece of pizza. Are they struggling with x/y/z? Quick, search Google. Are you frustrated with yourself for losing your patience? Commence feeling guilty.

Not hard to do, right?

I read (and took) some advice in a book recently (I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood) that has added to my daily happiness.

The authors write that one behavior to practice at the end of each day is to think about and feel good about what did go well with your kids that day. It may not sound groundbreaking, but I have to say, regularly doing so has positively influenced me.

I have also started doing this throughout the day-- taking a mental note when I am enjoying my kids during the day, or when I feel that surge of love and pride for them.

Some days, yes, the hard parenting moments may outnumber the joyful ones, but by focusing on the really good ones, I still feel better.

This print was my gift to my husband for Father's Day: A good reminder that having each other is something to feel grateful and happy about every single day.

Since just last week, when I first read this nugget of wisdom, I'm feeling calmer and like a more successful mother. [To me, a successful mom isn't defined by someone else. It simply means that I feel satisfied with how I'm doing with my own children in our own lives.]

Here are a few simple joys I've taken note of in the past week... See if you can start to recognize those little moments of happiness in your day as well.

Reading aloud with each child pressed up next to me on our big yellow couch.

My son and daughter saying the best part of their morning at camp was seeing each other on the playground.

My daughter dancing like a surfer dude to her new CD.

My son making me laugh with his ever-developing and quite hilarious sense of humor.

Watching both of them try (and like!) a new food at breakfast.

Reading together as a whole family in my son's bedroom before bed (they have started sharing a room this week; it's ridiculously adorable though it brings its own challenges...).

Watching my son hit the ball at t-ball and race around the bases as fast as he can.

When my little daughter runs up to each of us and gives us a big kiss.

Letting my son steal the Twizzlers right out of my hand and laughing with him about it.

It feels really good to list all the happy moments from the last week because of course-- certainly-- there were plenty of hard ones too.

I think it's also important to note that none of these moments were earth-shattering-- there were no home runs, no winning of spelling bees or trophies, no life-altering achievements. Those big joys are rare; the real joy of life is hidden in all the tiny moments.

Life is basically a collection of moments, and I'm choosing to focus on the best ones. I'm no Pollyanna-- when there's something serious going on, it's important to figure things out. But obsessing about the countless little bumps in the road doesn't do much good for any of us, does it?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Summer Project Series: Bye Bye Wallpaper!

It's June, which means many things in our home: no school, warmer weather, my birthday, and... house projects!

What have I decided to tackle this summer?

Our kitchen WALLPAPER!

We moved into our house a whopping four years ago. We thought the first thing we would do is strip the green polka dot wallpaper (with floral border), but with two little kids at our feet and the various necessities that crop up (broken well water pumps and hot water heaters take priority, apparently), it simply hadn't gotten done.

Until one day a couple of weeks ago, I just begin ripping at that paper!

The coolest part is that I did all of the removal without using ANY chemicals or any new store-bought tools. It was FREE and nontoxic.

I ripped up the top layer by hand. Then, I soaked the bottom, adhesive layer with a wet sponge, and then scraped it off using a putty knife. It wasn't hard, but it was a long process.*

*[Very long. Because when you are home with little ones, you have to work for 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there. I didn't have, say, a block of several dreamy hours.]

Still, I did it! The bare drywall alone looked better than the wallpaper.

Next was the paint choice. My husband and I both wanted a gray with just the slightest of blue undertones. Harder to find that you may think!

Many test spots later, we settled on Nomadic Travels by Hirshfield's (a paint shop in Minnesota).

Here's one wall!

I'm still painting the walls, but whew, I'm seeing the light! It feels so good to have done it all by myself and to actually like what I see when I walk into our much-used kitchen.

How about you? What projects are you dreaming of tackling this summer?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama