Snow is one of the coolest sensory play supplies ever. (Pun intended.)

And lucky for us it falls from the sky in what often feels like an endless supply of play material. (Sarcasm also intended.)

This winter, we have already received plenty of snow to play with and even I have to admit, there’s something magical about a snow day.  So I wanted to share some new and interesting ways to play in the snow.

From making a frozen bird feeder to building a snow volcano, it turns out there are way more interesting things you can do in the snow with your kids than simply building the tired old snowman.

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The idea of inequality or injustice can be a difficult concept for our children to understand. Discussing these inequalities and injustices with our children can be just as difficult.

But I’m not going to tell you what or how to teach your kids about racial tolerance. Because, if we’re being honest here, that’s something that you’ve been teaching your children through your words and your actions since the day they were born. 

And I’m guessing that if you’re taking the time to read this article that you’re doing a pretty great job at it.

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Last week, I saw a mom in the middle school drop-off lane still wearing her pajamas.

And the week before that, I saw a kid throwing a tantrum in public while my kid was also throwing a tantrum in public.

Each of these brief sightings kept me going for another day. That’s really all it takes.

Because parenting is hard. Really hard.

And on the really hard days, the ones where we question whether or not we’re even qualified for this job, it helps to know we’re not the only ones out there struggling.

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What do you do when one of your kids loves the elf and the other is terrified of his very presence? Do you destroy one child’s Christmas joy to save the other’s? It’s like a real-life Sophie’s Choice–but, like, with elves.

Okay, please don’t hate me, but I’m writing about the Elf on the Shelf.  And, yes, I know we’ve all heard every side of the Great Elf Debate.

There’s the parents who think the elf is the best thing to ever happen to them.

There’s the people who think those parents are idiots.

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You know what I hate? Stuff. If there’s an Opposite to Hoarding disease, consider me afflicted. And Christmastime is the season of stuff. So, let’s give the ones we love some non-stuff this holiday season.

1. EXOTIC PLANT
Think less boring housewarming gift and more exciting conversation starter. Get your friend a Dwarf Banana Tree or a carnivorous Cape Sundew Plant. If your friend puts one of these in her office, her coolness factor will increase exponentially. I’d much rather go out for drinks with the coworker that has a Dwarf Banana Tree on her desk than the one with the Live Laugh Love sign.

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We all know the Golden Rule of being a mother-in-law is to never dole out unsolicited advice. Ever. Under any circumstances. So I’m getting it out of my system now while I still can.

“Two things every woman needs: her own bank account and her own career,” my mother-in-law casually told me one morning over coffee. “It doesn’t matter how deliriously in love she is. If a woman is financially dependent on her husband, she’s in a bad spot. Don’t be that woman.”

This conversation took place approximately a week before I married her only son and so it kind of caught me off guard.

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With our kids spending less time interacting face-to-face and more time staring at screens, they’re beginning to speak in coarser, crueler ways to each other and to a large and captive audience. And this is having a devastating effect on their developing personalities. But taking away their devices isn’t the answer.

Remember being a kid and raising your hand in class only to answer a question totally wrong?

“What is the tallest mountain on Earth?”
“Mount Rushmore,” replies the 7th grader.
The class erupts in laughter.

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A Difficult Year

Last September, my little boy was hospitalized twice and placed in intensive care with severe bilateral pneumonia for several weeks. My husband and I took turns sitting by his bedside in forty-eight hour shifts.

When we weren’t at the hospital trying to keep our very active little boy now-permanently-hooked-to-an-IV-stand calm, we were at home trying to reassure our 3 children that their little brother was okay and would be home soon.

A few months later, while coaching my middle school cheerleading team, I received an urgent phone call from my mom telling me that my father had discovered a large tumor in his kidney that needed to be removed immediately.

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One of my earliest childhood memories is being tied to the mailbox in our front yard by my older brother. I was about 5 years old–which would make him about seven.  

I don’t remember how long I sat there.  Five minutes? Two hours? No clue. I do know that a kind neighbor eventually freed me and told me to run along and find my parents. Ah, the 1980s. Back when neighbors actually knew each other and no one asked questions.

When I brought this up to my mother recently, I was met with a “Well,

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We all know the Golden Rule of Co-Parenting: Don’t talk badly about the other parent–within earshot, at least. But what about the other stuff?

Cool shirt, buddy. I love the dinosaur.

Thanks, Mommy. My daddy got it for me.

Gut punch. My daddy. My daddy. A few months prior, it was just daddy. Where did this my come from?

Stunned with my sudden fall from grace–from mommy to outsider–I turned up the music on the car radio and stared straight ahead as my 3 year old boy nodded off to sleep,

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