Sunshine and Gray Skies: How I Explained Anxiety To My Kid

Anxiety Starter Pack

Congratulations, you’ve been born with a predisposition to Anxiety!

I’m not an expert at anything except my life, which is what I write about here. (This is a disclaimer.)

I’ve long been diagnosed with Anxiety disorder and was diagnosed with ADHD about two years ago. As my mother likes to say, I come by it naturally, which just means a ton of my family has their own beautiful shade of “the crazies.”

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When Will There Be Cupcakes Again?

When I was in grade school I read Number The Stars by Lois Lowry about little girls living in Denmark during the Holocaust. Since the Nazi occupation, resources are scarce but the little sister, Kirsti, longs for a “big yellow cupcake, with pink frosting.” For some reason, I have never forgotten this detail.

My daughters both have summer birthdays so they miss out on the fanfare of having a school day birthday. Instead, we celebrate their half-birthdays. Today we celebrated my sweet Savannah sunshine’s four and a half birthday. I sat in a tiny purple chair and read a few of her favorite books to a bunch of wide-eyed, pink frosting-covered, grinning little faces.

Milestones always make me sentimental, even arbitrary ones, like a fifteen-minute preschool half-birthday party, but I genuinely believe in celebrating as much as we can, while we can.

When I was in first grade, I remember the exact moment I heard my teacher say the word “war” as it related to the Gulf War. As a Senior in high school, I remember silently watching Mrs. Goldberg scrawl the name “Osama Bin Laden” across the chalk board on September 11th. My own first grade daughter overhears words in the media like “protest” and “gender inequality” and “racism.” Though I grew up hearing about military conflicts, my own children are growing up amidst wars between all kinds of people, and it’s nearly impossible to tell if anyone is winning.

But my little four and a half year old is still blissfully unaware of such topics. She thinks the President’s name is Donald Trumpet and once asked me to help her fill out a postcard to send to the White House because she overheard concerns of people losing their rights, but she heard “writes” and surmised he was stealing crayons and various other items. For real, we actually sent a postcard we tore out of a Highlights magazine to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue asking the President to please stop taking things from people and also give Savannah her fictitious stuff back. She doesn’t worry that someday someone could come into her school with intention to hurt people for no reason. She thinks skin tones come in colors called “brown” and “blonde.” She doesn’t live in fear of friends or family being deported. She doesn’t worry that she’ll be denied an education because she’s female.

And she loves cupcakes.

So as silly as it may sound, I made these symbolic cupcakes to mark an arbitrary milestone with a bunch of preschoolers today. Because I can.

And that’s something to celebrate.

Cupcake

“Mama, is there anything to eat?”  Annemarie asked, hoping to take her mother’s mind away from the soldiers.
“Take some bread.  And give a piece to your sister.”
“With butter?” Kirsti asked hopefully.
“No butter,” her mother replied.  “You know that.”
Kirsti sighed as Annemarie went to the breadbox in the kitchen.  “I wish I could have a cupcake,” she said.  “A big yellow cupcake, with pink frosting.”
Her mother laughed.  “For a little girl, you have a long memory,” she told Kirsti.  “There hasn’t been any butter, or sugar for cupcakes, for a long time.  A year, at least.”
“When will there be cupcakes again?”
“When the war ends,” Mrs. Johansen said. 
She glanced through the window, down to the street corner where the soldiers stood, their faces impassive beneath the metal helmets.  “When the soldiers leave.”

-Lois Lowry, Number The Stars

 

Take No Preschoolers

Savvy 1 month

This morning my four-year-old Savannah (pictured above when she was blisfully unable to make biting, hurtful remarks) asked me if she could have a “healthy breffast, with no sugar.” I happily agreed to make her some eggs. About two minutes into me cooking, she took one look at the eggs and said, “NOT LIKE THAT! OH MY GOSH I WANTED THE KIND THAT ARE ROUND AND YOU CRACK THEM!”

“I don’t have any hard-boiled eggs cooked though.”

“NO, YOU DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND ME! YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO COOK THEM YOU GET THEM OUT OF THE ‘FRIGERATOR!”

“I do understand you, but I’m telling you that I have to cook those kind of eggs FIRST before you can get them out of the refrigerator.”

She then let out some sort of primal scream of frustration and flung herself onto the staircase crying, “NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME IN THIS HOUSE! YOU DON’T EVEN LOVE ME!”

From his chair where he was enjoying his hot coffee and reading the news, my husband muttered, “Jesus, what is she, on her period?”

In this moment, I realized two things. 1. My husband is 100 percent going to infuriate my daughters when they are teenagers and I’m going to sit smugly in the corner with my hot coffee and watch him try to figure out what he said/did wrong. 2. My four year old is just a small version of me when I’m PMSing, hangry, drunk, or some combination therein.

We recently watched the Judd Apatow stand up special on Netflix and in talking about his wife and two daughters he hilariously said something to the effect of, “I don’t just live with three women. I live with three ages of the same woman.” So if that’s true, my husband is in for hell on heels.

Since Savannah’s been having these outbursts, I’ve been looking up a lot of parenting resources on discipline and how to curb anxiety in your children before it gets out of control. But probably the most useful article I came across is not a parenting article at all, but it should be. It’s called, Hostage Negotiation Techniques That Will Get You What You Want. It includes this chart and points out that the reason most people aren’t great negotiators is that they skip the first three steps and move straight to Influence, when the step that actually weakens someone’s defense the most, is actively listening while they talk.

hostage-negotiation-techniques

Via

So the moral of the story is Savannah ate Lucky Charms and I’m turning to the FBI for parenting tips.

Happy Friday, Y’all.

#MommyBombing

I got the idea for this post when I was volunteering at my daughter’s school and a fellow mom acquaintance dropped a snide comment on me that had me like,

The Audacity

Lucille Bluth

So I posted a call on my social media for what I’m referring to as “mommy-bombing” stories, meaning those verbal grenades lobbed by fellow parents during an otherwise friendly conversation that leave you like:

Excuse me what just happened

And you guys did not disappoint! So here, edited for brevity, is a gold mine of your experiences with Mommy-bombing:

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Am I Doing This Right?  

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Being a borderline millennial and having two daughters has made me a devoted Taylor Swift fan. Since her new album dropped it’s all I listen to with my girls, which gets dicey because it’s got some “grown up words” in the lyrics, but damn that girl writes catchy tunes.

There’s a line on her new album that says, “And I know I make the same mistakes every time, bridges burn, I never learn, at least I did one thing right.”

Obviously Tay’s not writing about parenting, but when I heard this line it was like she unwittingly summed up everything I feel about my identity and how it’s tied to motherhood. Continue reading

KC Live: Blinded By The Light (And Cool Products for Parents made by Parents.)

Actual things that happened before this segment: at 9pm on Sunday I realized I needed a drill to put together the Tot Tower. My husband was on a plane to Chicago and our drill is MIA and probably dead, but luckily my neighbors are an incredibly nice Canadian couple with grown children and the husband was able to come over and help me put it together. He really had the best joke when I said, “thanks! I’ll give you a shoutout tomorrow!” and he said in his endearing Canadian accent, “Oh, hey, don’t do that. I don’t want people saying I was over screwin’ at the neighbors house.”

Cut to Monday morning: after making breakfast for two dogs and two kids, packing lunches, dressing Avery in spirit wear, packing not one, but two halloween costumes for Savannah’s preschool party, showering, doing my full hair and makeup, going over my talking points and loading my car with all of the things for my segment, I was trying to get us out the door to school with my hands full and my plastic cup of crystal light hanging from my teeth (moms know this move) when I stepped down the garage stairs and splashed crystal light DIRECTLY IN MY EYEBALL and all over my face. I was completely blind for 45 seconds as my eye burned with the fire of a thousand suns. My brain went into damage control denial, like, “This is fine. I’ll just wear sunglasses for the segment and go to the ER afterwards. I can totally drive with one eye.” Luckily I regained vision in time to see the tributaries of black eye makeup streaming down the left side of my previously contoured face. But there was NO TIME, so I grabbed an old paper towel off the floor of my car to wipe off the black makeup before it dried, made it to school drop off, then went to the TV station where I had approximately two minutes to fix my face before I was on live TV, 8 minutes into the show.

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KC Live: Solar Eclipse Toys (Balls for the Wall)

The week before this segment I made my sorority sister Rachel help me carry a body across a busy trafficway and shove it in the trunk of my car. This time I made her carry a big ole bag of balls. Actually they were inflatable planets that you can hang from the ceiling, but still. Sisterhood at it’s finest.

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Here is the info for where to buy some awesome space toys, as well as some pictures from my segment on KC Live! Savvy’s favorite was the Giant Inflatable Solar System (she even loved the pump that comes with it which saved me a lot of work) and the Motorized Solar System is one of the coolest toys I’ve seen and super easy to put together. Definitely check out the Hide-A-Boos because there are fantastic designs and much better quality than those pop up tents that always end up breaking. I would like to go on record saying that my husband put together the Solar System Puzzle and he enjoyed it. Kuhlguy approved. We haven’t played the game yet, but the pieces are adorable and I love that it has different modes to play.

Happy Solar Eclipse Day!

Giant Inflatable Solar System at http://www.learningresources.com
GeoSafari® Motorized Solar System at http://www.educationalinsights.com
The Purple Cow’s Mapedia Solar System Puzzle at http://www.Amazon.com
Paul and the Moon at http://www.HABAusa.com
Outerspace Hideout at http://www.hideaboo.com (They are having a big sale right now and free shipping!)

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KC Live: Shark Chic

 

If you didn’t catch me on KCL Tuesday morning you can watch the clip. This segment went much smoother than the whole bathing suit/baby pool incident. One of the other people booked for the show that day was an Air Guitar Champion who goes by the name “Rockward Silence.” I mean, I thought I had blind confidence but this dude performed air guitar on live TV at ten a.m and he went.for.it. I was like, I bow to you, Sir, and your total lack of Fs to give. Continue reading