Is it you or are you surrounded by assholes?
Having kids really does show you what you're made of. It also shows you what the people nearest to you are really focused on.
How do you live an authentically happy life? There are a lot of aspects to being happy, one of the big ones for me is Being Around Like Minded People. If your life is a lovely quilt then you need to create the pattern of love by cutting out people that make your world ugly. For example, I went on a trip and the weather dropped 25 degrees and I had forgotten to leave my heat on. So I naturally asked around to see who could drop by my place and turn on the heat. Only one person was happy to help me and it really made me think. This was a chance to learn a really valuable lesson: don't surround yourself with people who take and don't give.
Several years ago I had a New Years resolution of being more selfish. It was a great journey of learning about setting boundaries and putting joy before unnecessary help. Now I really understand that I can't be loving towards my family if I'm not loving towards myself.
One of the biggest eye openers I had in my first year of parenting was that I was kind of surrounded by assholes. Don't get me wrong, I can be an a-hole too; we all have our bad days when we aren't living up to the kind of people we know we can be. But as I really looked around my life I realized how many people were just not kind to be around.
3 ways to know if you're surrounded:
What is the last nice thing someone said to you? As I have had different phases of clearing out friends I have really learned to think and listen. Often I discover that someone in my life has not sad a single nice thing to or about me for years.
Who would water your favorite plant if you went away? I know this sounds silly, but give it some thought. Who would water your plant? It is not about finding people who will do things for you but having people who want to see you happy.
Are you happier after spending time with your friends? This can be a painful answer to have to give. Sometimes you will realize you feel worse after spending time with a friend. One close friend of mine was always subtlety putting me down so I would feel bad after spending any time with them but I could never quite put my finger on why.
It is surprising to realize how many people around us aren't really nice people. I talk with other moms and it is a common feeling. We are all busy, sure. We're all a bit distracted, ok, but are we really all kind? Practice kindness in your life towards your children, your family and yourself but don't accept anything less than kindness from your friends. Is it you or are you surrounded by assholes?
5 free ways to entertain your toddler this summer
Any mama on a budget understands how hard it can be to come up with fun outings that don't end up costing a bunch. I love doing something fun with my little guy every week during the summer to break up our routine just a bit and give us quality time for fun without mom worrying whether the dishes are washed or the deadline has been met.
Pick wild fruit. My son firmly believes blackberries are perfect for both body war paint and eating. We spend all summer picking wild berries and singing the yummy in our tummy song while walker-by's hurry up to avoid us.
Build mini rock forts at the beach. My toddler isn't quite big enough to build drift wood forts so we stick to building with materials that help him feel big and powerful.
Spot minnow in the creek. There are a couple great creeks near our town and my son is just starting to enjoy looking over the little edge and splashing his feet. Bring a towel and some diaper wipes for the muddy feet.
Be pirates for an afternoon at the playground. Wearing fun outfits and being silly are as part of our week as bouncing on mom while she does yoga. I love making the every day of playground play a little bit more magical or silly.
Collect moss or leafs in the forest. We do lots of short forest walks in the warm months and my son loves finding sticks for both of us so he can beat small plants and cackle at his misdeeds.
Whatever your summer plans are there are always fun ways to play with a little one that doesn't cost anything. Take their playtime as a reminder to be freer and play too. Adults can learn a lot from toddlers; be focused on fun, feel deeply in the moment and hug your mom.
Getting rid of internal ageism. The ever present disordered thinking when it comes to age is one of the biggest killers of our joy as we age. What about aging scares you? I know too many women who don't enjoy themselves because they are so worried about getting older. I am getting older, you are getting older and we don't have to be scared. Getting old is a pretty cool privilege. I'm so excited to greet each year of life, to watch my son grow up and to see each year how many people I can help be happy and live vividly. It's an honor to be alive and when I start to freak out over a wrinkle that no longer goes away when I'm not smiling I remember that life is for living not for fearing death.
Lets break apart a few common concerns about aging:
Your family leaving you alone. This is a big fear I hear from retired family. A sense that their children are too busy for them, that their grand-kids won't know them and that in the end they'll be alone. Building strong bonds with your children as they transition into adulthood will save you a lot of worry down the road. This means being present and mindful as a parent. Once your children have jobs, families and obligations of their own keep in touch and be helpful. Send a box subscription, mail the grand kids snacks or call and ask how their day is going. All these little things will help lessen worries of being left alone.
Becoming less attractive and not being wanted around as you age. This seems to be a really big one for women hitting middle age. Guess what ladies? You're amazing! And, in all honesty, you age way better than men. Think about it, I see amazing lovely and talented women over 50 all the time but men over 50 have a much steeper decline in looks and energy. So when a man, and trust me it's always a dude, tells you that younger girls are sexier just know that it isn't true and you will always be wanted.
Do you fear being isolated and ignored as you age? One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give to both women and men is to cultivate relationships that will grow with you as you age. As a mom it can be imposable for me to get out and spend time with anyone that isn't my toddler. But I make a big effort to see my sisters, my brothers, a friend or two and my extended family regularly. When I can't see them I send emails and cards in the mail with photos and stories. Staying connected will make aging so much easier.
Aging isn't simple for us emotionally but it can be a wonderful thing to grow older and know what makes you happy. Do something every week that will make you happier in 10 years. Live an amazingly vivid life and don't let fear control how you age.
I love the Vancouver Aquarium because it is such a fun place to take little kids and see their minds grow bigger.
This summer my son can play and learn about topics that might not come up otherwise. Reading about turtles or how one kind of fish lives is something that would only come up going here.
5 ways to have fun and not stress out with kids:
Babies can enjoy the wonders too just be sure to babywear and let them reach out and touch things. Keep little babies engaged by being more tactile. When they are over tired a nap in the baby carrier is easy and allows everyone else to keep having fun.
If baby gets hungry you breastfeed while viewing the jellyfish. This is so much fun and something my son and I always do as a little break in the action.
Toddlers are made for fun aquarium outings. Make sure you're playing and interacting with them about each area's unique topics. Every fish has a story. They'll learn more and gain a much deeper sense of fun that way.
Bring a picnic for the whole family and head to the playground after the aquarium for swings and snacks.
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What I didn't like about my carnival cruise
The buffet was worse than the Norwegian cruise I took last year. Omelets were just burnt eggs and unmelted cheese.
Catching an elevator was imposable. Really, I had to carry a 33 pound toddler and a stroller up and down dozens of flights of stairs because the elevators took so long.
The kid zone did not allow parents to play with toddlers so there was no play area for a little kid who was uncomfortable with being alone in a strange place.
The bathrooms were no better than an RV. They were tiny and water would get everywhere when we washed our hands or showered. My son hugged the bathtub when we got back home.
The excursions were very pricey, poorly organized and the excursions desk didn't have any real advice for people other than 'read the catalog'. The best time we had off ship was just hoping in a taxi and going to the beach.
Don't go on the carnival dream expecting to have an awesome time. My little family will not be going on another carnival cruise. It was a pretty bad experience filled with incompetence. I love that cruises offer a stable room for naps and bedtime while letting us explore different places with the attention span of a wee toddler but the dream needs major work.
Wherever we go I try to make sure we have a fun time and my son had moments he really enjoyed as did I but everything was colored by the poor experience on board and on the excursions.
What carnival can do to improve:
1. Train staff to know more details about destinations and be actively helpful.
2. Create edible food. This might sound mean but I think a lot of the food was simply not edible. Working on creating meals that leave a lasting happy impression would go a long way to improving every family's sailing experience.
3. Make the ship more friendly towards toddlers. This is tricky because I understand that it can be difficult to create a space just for kids. However, a parent welcoming toddler friendly spot would be a super great additional feature on board.
Why did I decide to make funny tees?
I have been thinking about doing humorous shirts since before I started my youtube channel. Finally, this year I got brave enough to put my ideas out there and offer fun clothes for parents.
If you love breastfeeding but have a hard time finding funny and comfy outfits I've just started designing funny tees, hoodies with easy zippers for feedings and cute baby clothes. If you love breastfeeding but have a hard time finding funny and comfy outfits I've just started designing funny tees, hoodies with easy zippers for feedings and cute baby clothes.
I Citizen's Breastfeeding Infographic on Foods to Avoid for Better Milk Production
Stop telling me how Jewish I am
What makes a person spiritual or religious? How much of the foundations of the faith must speak to us or how many of the dogmatic rituals must we follow to be of the faith?
I am Jewish, I'm raising my son in Judaism's wonderful embrace. I've never formally converted because I have yet to find a great reconstruction rabbi within an hour drive of the last two states I have lived in. Sometimes I tell myself I'm too busy or something comes up and I don't engage in tradition enough. But every time that I connect back to my faith I feel enriched, whole and at home.
People never cease to amaze me at how rude, ignorant and distasteful they can be. They also sometimes surprise us all at how interconnected and loving they can be.
How can single moms bring Judaism into the home?
Read stories and share the meaning behind them. Discuss everything. I talk about the bad and the good and never try to gloss over real issues with some of the stories of historical barbary.
Light the shabbat candles. My son helps me light the candles and is just starting to be interested in covering his eyes as we recite our blessings over the lit candles.
Talk about the modern ways Judaism effects us. I believe faith is alive and ever changing and growing. I share these values with my son. We should never take anything at extreme face value and allow dogma to drag us down. I try to help my son see that we should all rise ourselves higher in our study and thought of the torah and g-d.
As spring creeps up on us winter weary mamas I thought a fun look at our camping trip in Northern Washington state would inspire a bit of planning for outdoors fun.
One of my great rules in life is that whatever you're doing is only as fun as the people you're doing it with. So bring along other parents to share in the joy of letting kids sleep on the ground, play in the dirt and walk till their little legs can't go any further.
A good, lightweight travel towel
Breastfeeding while camping. You can easily breastfeed when you are out hiking and camping, just remember that you need lots of extra water. Pack a good assortment of high protein snacks. The best idea is to make some lactation energy balls with peanut butter, nutritional yeast, chia seeds, honey and wheat germ. These little power balls will energize you and make sure you have lots of milk while camping.
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