Sunday, December 28, 2014

Emotional Video Alert

Sometimes we take it all for granted.  We get tired, bored, frustrated, and it all just feels like too much.

Regardless of your political beliefs, I think this beautiful video clip of a son being reunited with his mother will bring a bittersweet smile to your face.  I know it helped me remember to feel a sense of gratitude for all the aspects of motherhood I often take for granted.

Click Here for the video clip.

Popular culture is intent on the belief that being actively grateful is a "key" to happiness, and I tend to agree.

What helps you feel grateful? 

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Check out the humor anthology I contributed to, Clash of the Couples!

Monday, December 22, 2014

To Have a Girl

First, my sister had a boy.  Then I had a boy.  Next, my sister had a second boy.  Then I had a... girl.

I was used to boys.  I love boys.  They are awesome.  I thought it would be fun to have a daughter; I thought it would be fun to have a second boy.  Either sounded good to me.

We waited until delivery to find out if our baby was a boy or girl, but I was pretty sure for most of my pregnancy she was a girl.  Lo and behold, my husband got to announce "It's a girl!" on September 12th, 2012.

I was quite the tomboy as a little kid, so I didn't necessarily picture (or want) masses of pink princesses and Barbies (I'm hoping to prevent Barbie from entering our home, in fact) overtaking our home, but I pictured something a little different from what I got.

(See?  I'm not kidding.  That's me at age 5, circa 1986.  The sword?  The hat? The dirty, short sweatpants?)

For example, I thought having a girl would mean:

1.  Lack of Potty Humor.  Boys are known to find bathroom humor hilarious.  Well, so does my daughter.  I'm pretty sure her first real sentence was "I had a toot!" followed by belly laughter.

(Both of my kids think poop jokes are funny.  Some days, I don't really blame them.)

2.  Little Interest in Cars:  My son was obsessed with cars for a long time (and probably always will be).  We probably have over 300 cars.  I thought I would get to start watching a few other movies, like, say, The Little Mermaid or Frozen.  But guess what?  NEITHER of my kids will watch Frozen.  I am the last mother on the planet who hasn't seen it.

(Just some of my son's massive Disney car collection; now my daughter loves them too.)

3.  You know how all of us "boy moms" talk about how our sons never sit still?  We go on and on that they are extremely active, right?  I thought I might have a reprieve of sorts with a daughter-- I pictured her sitting in one spot for 10 glorious minutes, coloring or mashing up play-doh like other little girls I see, while I sipped a cup of coffee and chatted with another "girl mom."  Nope.  Not happening.  She has been up and moving as soon as she could crawl, and I have never once gotten to sit and have a complete conversation when at a playgroup with her.

Here's the thing.  If I could snap my fingers like Mary Poppins, I wouldn't change my spunky little daughter [though on second thought, I might change her ability to sit in one spot for longer than a gnat].  She is who she is, and I am ridiculously proud of her.

My mom and sister call her a pistol, and I completely understand what they mean.  She is a bold, adventurous little sprite who doesn't neatly fit into any stereotypes.  She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me, and she likes a tutu as much as other girls, but she is just as thrilled to stay in jammies all day.  She thinks babies are cute, but she also thinks Cars 2 is the best movie ever made; she adores Mater.  In a couple of years, I picture her sporting her brother's old jeans, swinging a fishing pole over her shoulder and announcing she's Gone Fishin'.

Plus, guess who laughed the hardest when she last announced her big toot?  Me.  So the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

*This post was inspired by my friend Jennifer Sando, who was hoping to "borrow a girl for a day," on her fantastic blog, The Intentional Mom.  I told her she is welcome to my daughter, but, as you can see, I'm not sure she would fit the bill.

Did you have preconceptions about gender before you had your own children?  What surprised you?  
~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Need more laughs?  Check out the humor anthology I contributed to, Clash of the Couples!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Traditions

It's coming!  Christmas is almost here.

A few years ago, I don't think I would have believed you if you had told me that I would be as excited for Christmas as I currently am.  Now that I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old, I am as excited as they are-- maybe even more.

Disclaimer:  If you are the mother of a newborn, please do not feel the need to create a million new traditions or elaborate Christmastime cheer.  Surviving the holidays with a new baby and enjoying as much as you can is all you should expect from yourself.

Now that my kids are just a bit older, and I'm not as deliriously exhausted and overwhelmed as I was when they were infants, I find myself livening up the house with some Christmas spirit.  Nothing groundbreaking, mind you, but it's fun nonetheless.

Beyond the annual Christmas tree, lights, and stockings, here are a few of my favorite Frantic Mama family traditions:

1.  Christmas cookies:  Of course!   I like to make simple ones (store-bought mixes are far from forbidden in my home), and I give them as gifts to friends and neighbors.

2.  Elf on the Shelf.  I know the elf gets a pretty bad rap these days, and it's cool to belittle him.  However, this is the first year that he has, well, worked his magic on my son.  A little extra motivation-- and an extra pair of eyes-- watching my son be nice to his little sister is appreciated in my house.  I can use all the help I can get.  Plus, elves are cute.

This is our elf, perched atop a t.v. speaker so he can keep an eye on those below!

3.  The Festive Little Houses:  It seems like a chore to get these out of the basement every year, but I am always glad I do.  They aren't produced anymore, but my thoughtful husband found them on Ebay a couple of years ago because he knew how much I liked them.  I especially like the Old Curiosity Shoppe.

4.  Christmas Jammies:  I owe my sister for this inspiration.  I buy a new pair of pajamas for my kids to wear on Christmas Eve.  I don't like opening gifts on Christmas Eve, but giving my kids some cuddly jammies is an exception.

What are some special things you like to do around the holidays?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Find more frantic fun:  FacebookTwitterInstagram, & Pinterest
Need more laughs?  Check out the humor anthology I contributed to, Clash of the Couples!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Catching up on our Dreams (What DOES happen to a Dream Deferred?)

Think back to when you were little.  You were hopefully told you could do anything.  You spun a globe and put your finger on a country, and thought, Yes! Madagascar really could be the place I end up living as a grown up! Why not?!  

One day, you learned about marine biologists-- that's what you would be!  Then you learned about baby doctors, and then that was the ticket!  Maybe you would draw illustrations for children's books.  Or, if you were like me, you would for sure write books.

Now look at your life today.  Not in a judgmental way.   Don't be hard on yourself.  Circumstances, maturity, finances, health... LIFE, plays into what our lives as grown-ups look like.

Did you become what you hoped?  Do you have a farm filled with shetland ponies?  Do you live in a tiny cottage in England?  Do you have a handsome husband and beautiful children?  Are you a dolphin trainer in Miami?

I remember when I was 20 years old, on my first date with my now-husband (an MBA student at the time) I told him my major, English Literature, and that I was especially interested in modern poetry; he asked, in all bemused seriousness: "So, you want to be...a poet?"  Even then, I thought his MBA-self was hilarious.  No, I didn't necessarily want to be a poet.  Not necessarily.  My realistic side wanted to teach others about the beauty of poetry (and perhaps write a bit on the side).

(My son and me; I didn't know what the ins-and-outs of motherhood would involve, 
but he is a dream-come-true nonetheless)

In many ways, I did get to do that.  I found a unique job teaching high school students with disabilities English literature and writing.  I did find ways to expose them to some of my favorites, and though challenging, I was happy I was doing something I had "planned" on.

When we were dating, I also told my husband of course I wanted kids.  I love kids!  I want a ton of kids!  And I meant it.

But here's the thing, and I can hardly believe my naiveté now:  I had no concept of what raising kids would MEAN in day-to-day life.  How does one teach English AND have a 1 year old?  The reality of it never crossed my mind.  I knew nothing of daycare or this newfangled "SAHM" term.  I babysat in middle school.  That was about it.  I think I must have pictured having kids in kindergarten and up, when they would be in school and I would be working somewhere.

Currently, I have a 2 year-old and a 4.5 year-old.  They have completely consumed my life for the past 5 years.  5 years that I had never pictured back in my dreaming days.  AND YET-- they are exactly what I wanted.  I wanted a career AND a husband AND children.  In some ways, my life looks different from what I expected (I am not living in a quaint cottage in rural England, writing novels while rehabilitating owls and lemurs (no matter that lemurs don't live in England)), and in others, it looks like what I hoped for.

While I am not currently teaching, I am really happy to write that I AM working on two of my dreams I had as a child.  Dreams that were nagging at me for years in the back of my head.  Things I couldn't really do when I was pregnant, or nursing a newborn while caring for a 2 year old, etc.

Something inside me, when my son was almost 2-- and caring for him was my main focus-- made me start the first dream:  Writing.  Even if only one or two people ever read my blog (and I'm astounded that more people do), at least I was putting words down, just like 7 year-old me, scribbling misspelled words into a diary, had hoped.

(Believe it or not, I'm still gobsmacked every single time someone publishes my work).

My second dream as a child was to have a horse.  I know, I know.  Every little girl wants a pony.  That's all fine and good.  However, I wasn't a girly girl.  I didn't just want one because they are pretty.  Also, I am not a billionaire with access to stables in my own yard.  I have just always, always loved them.

As a kid, I loved taking care of them, and I loved riding them.  One thing I am SO excited about is that I recently found an affordable stable that actually teaches old people like me :).  I'm not that old, but I'm also not 11 anymore.  If you have ever picked up something new as an adult, you know that it can be nerve-wracking and scary.  You don't want to look like a fool.  You don't want to look stupid.  BUT I also didn't want to regret not getting back in the saddle (catch that?).  Never doing it was scarier than anything else.

I had my first group lesson last week, and I was shocked when I heard myself tell the trainer it had been almost TWENTY YEARS since I had taken lessons.  I let this part of myself go for 20 YEARS!  I wasn't great at it, and I'm pretty sure the trainer thought I was a bit of a mess, but it made me feel so good that I had taken the first steps towards something I had always wanted.

Now I am doing something about it-- for my current self, for my childhood self, my future self, and hopefully for my daughter, as I would love to get her involved when she is older so we could ride together.

This dream-- and most others-- does not come without sacrifices, though, I want to add (and will delve into that in a later post).

What does happen to a dream deferred?

What dreams have you reached?  What have you given up on?  Is there any way you could go back to ones that you thought had passed you by?  How?  Volunteering at an animal shelter?  Dusting off your old pastels?  Saving up for a keyboard?  I encourage you to act in a small way on just one of those nagging 'what if' dreams that still haunt you.

*I'm dedicating this post to two supportive friends who are also working hard to make dreams come true:  Natalie of Beautiful Booze and Dakota of Dakota Midnyght.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

P.S.  I couldn't resist adding a little poetry to this post.  See below.


What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?

I'm honored to be included in this book:

Friday, December 5, 2014

If They Made a Reality Show About My Life...

If they made a reality show about my life, it would be called...

Frantic Mama?  Too obvious.  How about A Day in the Life of an Ordinary Mom?  Too boring.  Or maybe not.

Unlike the Duggars, the Honey Boo Boo people, or the Duck Dynasty folks, there is nothing too unusual that sets my family apart from thousands of others around the country.  We don't have 19 kids and counting.  None of us are in pageants with Boo Boo in our nicknames.  Nor are we millionaires with long beards living in the country.  I don't mean this as a negative to my family-- or to the ones I'm mentioning-- it is just the truth.

My family is simply this: a two-parent household with two young children, trying to make it through each day with love and as much enjoyment as we can muster.

(See that photo?  Just a few extraordinary minutes of my ordinary life)

If there were to be a reality show featuring us, I suppose I could concoct all kinds of crazy staged scenarios to get the ratings up.  We live in a Look-at-Me culture, after all.  I'm sure my 4-year-old would have a blast spraying shaving cream around Target for an episode.  My 2-year-old would adore getting to run wild at an amusement park.  Both would get laughs and judgement from a t.v. audience.

But if there were a world where ratings didn't matter to networks, and people could just watch what they wanted, perhaps an ordinary life would be surprisingly interesting.

Think about TLC's show "Bringing Home Baby."  I haven't watched it in years, but I was glued to shows like it when I was pregnant with my first baby.  They document real-life families about to bring home a new baby.  There was usually nothing unusual about these mothers-- maybe that's why I was so drawn to them.  The families generously offered a glimpse into what was then unknown to me: life as a new mother.

My show wouldn't break new ground.  It wouldn't be very glamorous.  It wouldn't be salacious or juicy.  But maybe it would be simply nice.  Sometimes funny.  Other times sad.  Occasionally joyful. How life actually IS.

What would the name of your reality t.v. show be (not that you would ever do one, of course)?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

*This is a Finish the Sentence Friday Blog Hop Post!  See other participants here.

Find more frantic fun:  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, & Pinterest
Need more laughs?  Check out the humor anthology I contributed to, Clash of the Couples!

This post is part of Finish the Sentence Friday hosted by 
Kristi at Finding Ninee
Stephanie at Mommy, For Real

This week's co-hosts are:
Michelle at Crumpets and Bollocks

Monday, December 1, 2014

Not According to Plan

Sometimes as a mother, what you want most in the whole world is to get out of the house.  Anywhere.  For even just 30 minutes.  Of course, it is best if you get to exit ALONE, but that is much trickier to come by.

Yesterday was one of those times for me.  It was a balmy 34 degrees here, and I couldn't wander the house with the kids trailing me for one more minute.  It wasn't an option to leave by myself, so I exclaimed, with as much enthusiasm as I could muster, let's go on a walk!

Easy, right?  Just pop them in the double stroller.  Done.

NO!  I think I might have PTSD from the ins-and-outs of the whole ordeal.

My husband stayed inside with my son (because of all the kids in the world who would LOVE to be outside in the snow all day, mine is one who does not.  We live in Minnesota, by the way).

So it was my 2 year old daughter and me.

Let's do this, I thought.  We bundled up.

Putting on the following items took about 10 minutes:

snow pants

Then I remembered I had to pee.  I hurried to the bathroom.  My daughter started fussing and taking her boots off.

WAIT!!!! I cried, sitting there willing the pee to hurry up.  We are still going out there!

She [kind of] let me put her boots back on, and muttering under my breath, I heaved her in the stroller, which was located behind my husband's car in our garage.  Once she was in there, I realized there was no room to push it outside.

I had to remove my daughter from the stroller and lift the entire bulky thing through the garage, cursing the inanimate object under my breath the whole time: why would this friggin' thing be behind the car anyway?!

We made it into the driveway.  I put my daughter back in, much to her dismay.  Clearly, by this time, she had forgotten that she initially wanted to join me on a walk.

We crossed the street to a beautiful trail near us.  I exhaled.  This still might turn out well.

My daughter started yelling "Out!  I want  out!"  Jesus.  Fine.

I got her out.

She started jumping over footprints in the snow.  She was having so much fun, and it was really cute, so I tried to enjoy the moment, even though it wasn't what I was originally expecting from our walk.  I love it when no one is crying in my world!  So rare, but so so priceless.  It must be savored.

Eventually, I tried to put her back in the stroller so we could go more than 5 feet an hour.  She was having none of it.  I gave in to her surprisingly formidable powers and let her loose [again].

We eventually wandered down by the tiny section of the lake that is still unfrozen.  She was eager to run onto the ice to holler, "Hi swans!"  I don't really blame her; they are amazingly beautiful.  However, it is my duty to keep her alive:  Cue me pulling her back while she tried with all her might to get onto the very thin ice to join the swans.

I'll just stop there.  The walk back home was much the same.  It was frustrating but hilarious and a little fun nonetheless.

And, oddly, the entire ordeal was totally worth it.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Like this post?  You might also enjoy one I wrote about attempting to get BOTH kids out of the house last winter:  Getting out of the House (with Kids).

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