As a mom of 4 school-aged children, this year’s back to school is like no other. Virtual school is new for many households. I’m sure many parents are feeling that sting of trying to take into account multiple factors (working, schooling, living).
I, however, have yet another obstacle to conquer. I’m also a teacher/librarian. Birmingham Teacher/Mom Kayla E. said it best, “When people ask me how I feel about school beginning virtually, it’s hard to pin down the right response.” So while ensuring that my own kids are focused and doing what they’re supposed to be doing, I’m also responsible for making sure that my students get a quality virtual education as well. While I am definitely pro- Supt. J. Ray, and agree with the decision he made to start the school year virtually, this does put me in bit of a pickle.
(But I would rather be in a pickle than in a petri dish.)
This school year, my oldest will be entering 7th grade, the twins will be in 3rd grade, and the boss-child will be entering 2nd grade. (My daughter is an exact replica of Diane from Black-ish.)
Do I know 7th grade curriculum stuff? Maybe…Well I should. What about 3rd grade math? Surely, as long as it’s not that weird math they’ve been doing lately. And what about 2nd grade? Those cheesy stories are sure to be the death of me. But the curriculum and what they will learn are honestly not my major concern. I know that SCS already has the curriculum ready to roll. Plus, many teachers have been working since early May to learn how to give effective virtual instruction.
So what does concern me the most? It’s the logistics of everything! I’m not worried about my middle schooler at all. He the most responsible child I know. He will do what he’s suppose to do, when he’s suppose to do it, and he will do all of that to the best of his ability.
But those twins. Nah Mane!I could make sure they’re logged on to their virtual school platform and leave them to learn in their rooms ONLY to get an email from their teacher/my colleague that they can see them playing with legos in the background. Furthermore, I already know that my 2nd grader has the instructional endurance of a gnat. Mainly because she feels like she knows it all. (She is 6 yrs old and starting the 2nd grade, so maybe she is a little smart.)
Here are the things I’m really concerned about:Where can I effectively put everyone so they can have the best at-home, virtual learning environment?
Where will I keep all these school supplies?
How can I fix lunch and teach my students at the same time?
Will the Pandemic EBT continue?
What happens if the internet goes out?
Can our internet actually handle 4 laptops PLUS the tvs, iPads, and phones that are already connected?
How will I be able to function without a midday nap?
Am I going to get headaches again from looking at the laptop too long like I did from March to May?
Will my kids have ill effects from virtual learning too?
If I’m in the middle of a lesson, but my personal child needs help, what do I do?
I have so many questions about how to navigate virtual school for my family, but not enough answers. Here’s what I do know:
My oldest wants to be left in his room. No surprise there. I plan on the twins each learning in their bedrooms, and just pray for the best. My little girl will be at the dining room table. I must keep an eye on her.
It’s going to be difficult being the kids’ educational facilitator while maintaining my own full-time work schedule. I had plans to hire a college kid, but those plans fell through. Plus, this blue-collar family of 6 can only afford to pay so much. So, in true mom form, I will be putting on multiple hats!
I have less than 2 weeks to get my family ready for virtual learning. Bedtimes are now in place, meal plans have been made, and the kids practice “virtual learning” 2-3 days a week. But I feel in my gut that the preparations we have in place may not be enough for them. If I’m being honest, sometimes I wonder if my love for my job overshadows my primary duty as a mom. It would sure be easier to be a stay-at-home mom right now. Even when we had the option to choose for our kids to learn in-person or virtually, my husband and I felt that virtual would be best. We had even looked into Homeschooling an option. But I love my job. And it makes me happy. So there’s that.
Well, I start work on the 24th and the kids start their virtual school on the 31st.
In the midst of this racial uprising (yes it’s still going on), I am so thankful for my White Allies. I really wanted to say that I’m thankful for my white friends, but I was afraid that I’ll sound like that person that says, “I’m not racist! I have a black friend.” Yea. Saying, “I have a black friend” sounds just as stupid as saying, “I have a white friend.” It’s not the having of these friends that makes one not racist, but it’s how you live life with these friend that factors into one’s racism or bias.
So, I decided to use the term allies just so you readers can understand the context in which I am coming from. But don’t get it twisted, these women are my friends; I only share them with the public and their families sometimes.
George Floyd’s murder left me completely and utterly exhausted. I only made one “I’m tired of this” post on Facebook. Don’t try to find it, because someone reported it as bullying. Facebook said that my post went against their community standards on hate speech and inferiority. (Although we all know that there are groups created on Facebook just for hate and inferiority, yet they still stand.) Yea, even Facebook dislikes an angry black women, even when we have every reason to be angry.
It seemed like the moment my voice was semi-silenced, my personal White Allies got louder! Their posts questioned the actions of racists or really, really biased people. They encourage their other white friends to read books and educated themselves on race relations. They protested. They called government officials. They gave me a hug and whispered in my ear, “Let’s fight.”
Do you want to know the most beautiful thing about their notion of refusing to be silent? They were never silent! What the world is now seeing about my White Allies, I was always privy to seeing. They were always vocal about racial injustice. They never stood silent while Memphis had vast food deserts. They were always organizing something to ensure that women and mothers have everything they need to survive AND thrive.They have never treated me like “the help.” They don’t cry when I disagree with them and say they feel attacked. I love how they understand that we have cultural differences.
They are just as comfortable in their Whiteness as I am in my Blackness.
I also appreciate that they don’t feel the need to call me and say, “I’m so sorry that this is happening. I just want you to know that I love you.” I already know how my White Allies feel towards me and about what’s going on in the world. It is evident in their actions daily. They don’t feel the need to “make sure” that I know how they feel about the situation. They don’t need affirmations of acceptance or the security of knowing that I know how they feel. Their actions speak louder than words. Rather than calling to say, “You KNOW I love you right? You KNOW I’m not like “those other people,” right? You KNOW that I don’t agree with what’s going on, right?” My White Allies say, “Honey, this crap is crazy. Let me know if you need to vent.”
Now, if you’re a White Ally to someone, don’t be silent about it! I attend a multicultural and multi-ethnic church and some of our members are eerily silent. (Insert cricket sounds.) How they feel about the BLM Movement is questionable and unknown. I don’t know if they are “for” my Blackness or “against” my Blackness. (I’m just saying how I feel.) For example, if we were out somewhere and someone made a racist remark towards me, would these silent, but self-proclaimed White Allies:
I love and appreciate my White Allies. They are unrelenting in their efforts to make Memphis equally as good for People of Color as it is for White People. They see Color in its most vivid form and they appreciate and adore all shades of the human rainbow.
Most importantly, they pour that same energy into their kids! Some may have explicit conversations about race with their kids, while others don’t. Nevertheless, they model for their children love, respect, and equity for all humans. This gives me hope for the future. Because if you were to ask my kids if anyone has ever treated them differently because of their skin color, they would say, “No. Why would anyone want to do that?” They have friends of many nationalities, religions, races, ethnic backgrounds, and socio-economic status. And not one of their friends or their friend’s parents ever treat them differently.
So, my White Allies, don’t stop, don’t settle, and keep that same energy! As Betsy G. from Birmingham Mom Collective said, “I am still in the beginning stages of becoming a true ally to the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in our country, but I do know this: Racism is not a battle for people of color to fight alone. We white moms must take up the fight for our brothers and sisters and teach our kids to do the same.”
Everyone’s Quarantine Life is a little different. Mine consists of 4 kids: an 11 yr old boy, twin 8 year old boys, and a 6 year old girl. I understand that my kids are supposed to be engaging in virtual learning sessions and crafts to enhance their home-based learning. They’re doing that, minus the crafts, but they have also picked up a few new skills too. Some of the skills are beneficial, while some are quite questionable. Here 46 things my kids have learned during Covid-19 Quarantine: (Psst…and none of it is school related.)
One thing I have realized during this Covid-19 Quarantine is how much I love my kids. Not just a surface kind of love, but an unconditional, laugh when I think about them kind of love. I have fallen in love with my kids all over again. Each day they teach me something new and give me a new outlook on life. Here’s a short list of things I have learned from them:
So Father’s Day is fast approaching and I’m desperately trying to figure out what to give my husband. I am clicking on Facebook Ads, Googling everything, and even searching through my “other” email account for deals that companies might have sent me.
But still, with Father’s Day less than 2 weeks away, I have nothing. Every gadget he wanted, he has. Places to go? Everything is closed. I did find this neat grooming kit for men that included cologne, a comfy shirt, a beard kit with a special bristled beard brush, and a few other items. Since it cost $100, I thought our 4 kids wouldn’t mind contributing $10 each to buy their Dad this Father’s Day gift. But they did mind. They said, and I quote, “Dad looks fine. He doesn’t need that stuff.” Then they proceeded to tell me all they things they were going to make for Daddy. In other words, I am on my own. Even though the kids are making cute crafts and painting, I’m sure he wants more than that. I mean, when it’s Mother’s Day, I adore those macaroni frame pictures, but come on…..give me more please.
So I started thinking, what gets my husband really excited?What is something he would really appreciate? What could make him say, “Thanks, baby. That was amazing!”? And honestly, the only thing that came to my mind was sex.Anytime I mention “riding the pony”, my husband gets really excited and it shows. It doesn’t matter if we just made whoopee less than 24 hours ago. He is always appreciative during and after a good rump. He will literally say “Yes” to anything and everything. If moans of yes aren’t signs of appreciation, then I don’t know what is. Although he doesn’t say “Thank you” after we Bang, because that would be weird, he does say, “That was amazing.” Sex is fun and has tremendous power to join together the heart of husband and wife.
Well now I feel like I might be on to something. “Hooking up” gets my husband really excited and he seriously appreciates it. So is Vagina a good Father’s Day gift? Or no?In my opinion, sex is like an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence for men. It doesn’t matter what words the sentence has in it, as long as it ends in an exclamation mark. In other words, I doesn’t matter what the gets for Father’s Day, as long as the day has a “happy ending.”
If you give your husband a Maserati for Father’s Day, but he goes to bed with a dry pecker, I’m sure he’ll say, “Yeah Man! She got me a Maserati for Father’s Day, but I didn’t get to put the ‘P to the V’, if you know what I mean.”
And the other guy would say, “Aww, man. You didn’t get lucky on Father’s Day?! That’s messed up. What does a man have to do to ‘lay some pipe’ around here?!”
Yep. That’s exactly how that conversation would go.
I think I am a really good gift! After all, I’m pretty good in the sack. (I’ve been told that we didn’t get 4 kids by sitting on our hands.) I’m flexible and adventurous and I’m sure I could create a sex move in his honor. And (I don’t want to brag), I’m pretty sure I give the best fellatio this side of the Mississippi. So, yes….this “gift” is sounding very promising.
But, I digress. Is vagina a good Father’s Day gift or no? I’m seriously asking the public here. I know the “V” puts a smile on his face. But it’s not like he doesn’t get it on the regular. But then again, the V is amazing and mind-blowing all on its own, even without the use of hands, lips, boobs, and celebratory cheeks. (For you Rated-G moms, celebratory cheeks are when you make your cheeks clap, and I don’t mean the ones on your face.) Plus, my eager beaver is the only reason he’s a father anyhow! So this should be an annual commencement to celebrate the life-giving power of the V.
But I can hear some of the naysayers mumbling, “Would you like it if he just gave you ‘the wood’ on Mother’s Day?” Honestly, no I wouldn’t like it. Like most women, I’m a little more complicated. I would need at least some flowers and a foot rub with lavender oil. After that, it would be “Open Sesame!” (And if he buys me a book too…….he can get IT!)
So, with no gift yet, other than the one between my legs, I think I might have to rely on the vajayjay to make this the BEST FATHER’S DAY EVER! And if you have a little baby, don’t count yourself out. Sex After a Baby is real!
And by the way, I did ask my Hubby if vagina was a good Father’s Day gift. He said, and I quote, “Of course! It’s a good Father’s Day Gift and a good birthday present too!”
In early January of 2020, I read the Memphis Moms Blog article titled, “Dry January: Going Booze Free After the Holidays.” I read the article with an intrigued interest. I had NEVER heard of Dry January. After reading the comments, I was surprised to find that this was something that several people did. (Who knew.) I read and reread the article. Although it was written in an informative manner, I felt like this was more of a persuasive blog. Then I thought, “I wonder if I could do this? Can I give up alcohol for a month?”
I told my husband that I was thinking about going “dry” for January. He looked at me. No, correction. He stared at me. Then said, “Uh, okay.” Sooooo he wasn’t enthusiastic about my new adventure. No problem. I told my sisters about my idea. They had a mixture of feeling. “Do you Boo! But don’t drag me into this!” “Yea right, I give it a week.” “That’s so nice, honey.” “Bless your heart.” If you’ve lived in the south for any length of time, you should know that “Bless your heart” is not a positive comment.
Nevertheless, I decided to try something new. I decided to go DRY. Honestly, how hard could it be? I’m not an alcoholic nor do I drink excessively. So this should have been a breeze. Emphasis on SHOULD.One day after deciding to go “dry,” I came home from work and started on dinner. My typical dinner-cooking ritual involves an audiobook and beer or wine. As I reached for a cold Gotta Get Up to Get Down, I remembered that I was going “dry.” So I decided to have some decaf coffee instead. Let me tell you now, cooking with decaf coffee IS NOT THE SAME as cooking with booze. Feeling dejected, I finished up dinner and sat down with the family. With great sorrow, I sipped on some tea with my dinner. At the end of the day, I was feeling stressed. So I went to bed early.
The next day was very similar. Boozeless dinner prep and boozeless dinner. A few days later, I had a really tough day at work. I wanted to come home, drink wine, and loose myself in a good book. I was suddenly smacked back into reality. It was still January and I was still “dry.” Then everything hit really close to home. My sisters and I were having some Saturday night fun. There was Mexican food, beer, homemade wine, and “dranks” galore. I was already bummed because there weren’t a lot of meatless options. (I stopped eating meat in November 2019.) And now I couldn’t even replace my meatless meals with booze! The travesty!
But at the end of this very, very late evening, I had an “AH-HA” moment. I had a lot of fun! I laughed and had a really great time. AND I didn’t have a single drop of booze. WOW! Surprise! Surprise!On Sundays, my oldest son has a church youth group meeting from 6:30-8pm. After I drop him off, I usually head to my favorite bar, Casual Pint. I have a couple of beers and laugh with the beer-tenders. But now that I was “dry,” I needed to find something else to do. So I drank coffee and read in my car. Occasionally, I used this time to complete errands or just go for a long walk.
After 2 weeks, my old habits started to drift away. I no longer reached for a beer when I became frustrated. I no longer needed wine to make cooking dinner more enjoyable. My social habits did not revolve around what was in my hand. I drank more coffee, decaf of course. And I enjoyed my tea. (Unsweet please. Sugar in tea is gross.) But I noticed something even more miraculous.
I have atrial fibrillation. Even though I had an atrial fib ablation surgery 2 yrs ago, I still monitor my heart rate regularly. On January 5, 2020, my average heart rate was 80 bpm. Within 3 weeks of being dry, it had dropped to 70 bpm. The ONLY thing that changed was my alcohol consumption. WOW! Surprise! Surprise!
After January ended, I went out and bought a mixed 6 pack of my favorite beer and my husband bought my favorite wine. That night, I discovered that I was now a “lightweight.” My tolerance for alcohol had dropped terrible low. Dry January had broken me. That night I drank 1 beer. Are you understanding me!? I drank ONE beer while I was preparing dinner. I drank on the same beer during dinner. And I took the same single can of beer with me to the living room to Netflix and Chill. And now it’s May….5 months later and that fact still remains. When I pour myself a glass of wine, it’s the same amount that you would get at a fancy restaurant. (Not much.) And I would sip on that little glass of wine all night along.
But nothing beats the day I decided to have a beer with my sisters at Causal Pint. When I walked in, time stood still. The beer-tenders yelled, “Patricia! Where have you been?” With a simple smile on my face I said, “I did a Dry January thing…..and it broke me.”I never drank excessively. I drank during social occasions and I drank to destress after a hard day. But Dry January broke me in a way that I don’t want to be fixed. I am now more aware of when, why, and how much I drink. Because even fun has a dark side.
Thank you, Erin.
I have 4 school aged kids. They are in the 1st grade, twins in the 2nd grade and a 6th grader. When the Superintendent of Shelby County Schools announced that school will be closed for the rest of the school year, I went to bed. Yep, I walked into my bedroom and threw the covers over my head and snuggled down. I knew I need to rest. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I would need all of my energy to get through this.
On March 12th, when it was announced that school would be out for an additional week, I thought, “I could use this extra week to deep clean the garage.” Little did I know what was truly about to unfold. This “Covid-19” would extend school outage from March 30 to April 6, and from April 6 to “until further notice” and finally…closed for the remainder of the school year.
The week after our official Spring Break ended, my home was bombarded with virtual education, Zoom meetings, Team Meeting, Virtual Planning, Social Media Team Meetings and much, much more. My regular school day was 8:45am – 4:30pm. Now, my days started at 7:30am and ended around 7pm. Each of my 4 kids had Virtual Classes, Learning Packets, iReady Reading and Math Online Lesson as well as other “recommended” assignments to complete. On top of their work, I had 2-3 virtual meetings each day. I also read to students, collaborated with other teachers and our social media team. After sitting in front of a computer for an unknown amount of hours, my eyes hurt and my booty was flat.
By that Friday, March 27th, I was exhausted. I thought, “What in the new hell has happened here?!” I decided to use a quote for inspiration, “Prior Proper Planning Prevents a Poor Performance.” So Sunday I planned out the kids lessons, I planned out a daily schedule and I even synced my work calendar with my personal calendar so I could keep up with it all. I also created a meal schedule because those questions, “Mom, what’s for lunch?” started to turn me into ______________.
So Monday came and I was equipped with all my plans. The only thing I lacked was the effort to follow thru. Monday went perfectly. The kids completed their 2 hours of studies and I didn’t forget about a single meeting I was expected to attend. I read to Kindergarteners. I worked on our yearbook and answered an endless amount of emails. Tuesday came and went without concern. But Wednesday. Wednesday was the quiet before the storm. I didn’t want to do anything. My kids asked, “Do we have to do Academic Time today?” I paused and considered the following facts:
So now, I make sure I have a moment to myself eat morning. I ride my bike with the kids or go on long walks. (No flat booty here.) I tend to my garden and try to convince my hubby to get chickens again. The kids still have Academic Time for 2 hours each day. They don’t get everything done what their teacher expects them to, but they are working on what’s most important. I’ve memorized several Disney Shows and I have become a professional BeyBlader!!! I make time to cook, read and watch anything that Netflix recommends.
My days are still full of virtual meetings, teaching the kids, virtual lessons, learning packets, iReady Reading and Math Online Lesson, virtual professional development and so much more. But I do not answer my phone or check emails before 9am and nothing after 5pm. The kids only do 2 hours of meaningful academic time from 10am -12noon. The rest of their day is spent playing, doing crafts, cooking, tending to the house and engaging in quiet time. I have built a moat that “No Work Shall Cross!!!!” I think I am just starting to make sense of this new way of life.
Part I: TwinsI have a set of 7 year old twin boys. And these past 7 yeas have been a roller coaster ride. Whenever someone approaches us in public, they say, “Awwww, they’re so handsome. I wish I had twins. You know twins run in my family!” First of all, no ma’am; you’re a stranger, thus I don’t know anything about your family. Secondly, have you really considered what you’re asking for?
Being a mom of twins is no walk in the park. It’s more like a ride through Narania. Yea, it’s beautiful, but you can die too.My husband and I had stopped all birth control in order to give our then 3 yr old a sibling. (We can only watch so many episodes of Super Why and Fresh Beat Band.) When I started feeling bloated and lethargic, I decided to take a pregnancy test. This test happened in New Orleans…1 day before our cruise…a cruise full of tasty alcoholic drinks. So, yea, I endured a dry cruise because the results came back positive. Was I happy? Of course, my oldest would finally get someone to play with. Was I bothered? Of course!!! I wanted to drink my “dranks” and pretend I was in Alice in Wonderland. Nevertheless, adulthood prevailed.
After we got back, I went to the doctor. The nurse said, “Congratulations! You’re having twins!!!” I found myself unexpectedly expecting…TWINS!!!! I said nothing. She asked if I was okay.
I said nothing. In my head I was having a conversation with God. It went kinda like this:Me: God, what did she just say.
God: You heard her my child.
Me: But God, surely she’s mistaken.
God: I assure you that she is not. Rejoice!
Me: Hold up, Oh Mighty Lord! This is not what I asked for.
God: You asked for a playmate for Aiden.
Me: Me, exactly. Playmate. SINGULAR
God: I would never put more on you than you can handle, my child.
Me: But God, you just did. Literally. Put one more thing on me that I can’t handle. Clearly you can see I’m not taking this well.
God: All will be well. Go forth. Be fruitful and multiply.
At the end of this conversation with God, I was in my car. I don’t recall what the nurse said, what the doctor said, or who else I encountered. It is quite possible that I grabbed my things and the ultrasound of Baby A and Baby B and just left.
I drove to the nearest place of comfort: my mom’s job. When I walked up to the front desk, the receptionist asked if I wanted to see my mom. I nodded. (I was calling God in my head again. He kept sending me to voicemail.) My mom came to the desk and I handed her the ultrasound pic. She rejoiced!!!! I left before she could finish her praise dance.
The pregnancy was typical… until it wasn’t. When I was six months along, I went to my high-risk pregnancy doctor for my normal checkup. (Ok, I realize that there’s nothing “normal” about have a high-risk pregnancy doctor. But in mr defense, I thought all pregnancy doctors were the same, but that some only take the “risky” cases. And being pregnant with twins turns out to be a little risky for most, if not all, women.)
I was getting an ultrasound done, and it was taking a little longer than usual. The nurse was doing a lot of clicking and measuring. A LOT of clicking and measuring. Finally, my hubby and I were asked to sit in the consultation room. We obliged and and sat and waited. About 30 minutes later, the doctor walks in and says that our room would be ready shortly, then he walked out. I looked at my husband and said, “What did he say?” My husband replied with a question, “Why do you need a room?”
So, I called God again. This time he picked up.Me: God, what in sam-hill is going on here?
God: Be patient my child. You will know everything in its due time.
Me: Or you could just tell me now. You know I have anxiety and hate waiting.
God: ***Gives me silent treatment.***
Me: ***Gives Him the silent treatment back.***
God: Patricia… (I know I’m in trouble when He calls my name and not just “my child.”)…Just rest in the fact that I am GOD!
So I was quiet for a bit…to God. Pretty soon, the nurse came with a wheel chair. I asked where I was going, but she wouldn’t say. We arrived at the hospital admission office. The attendant read something from a piece of paper and gave me a room number. I asked her what was going on and how long I was suppose to be here. She stated, “You’re here under observation for a few days.” God said, “She’s lying.”
Those “few days” turned into 3 months. I was on hospitalized bedrest for 1/2 of October, all of November, all of December, and 1/2 of January. I had my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and my baby shower in the hospital.Some days I was allowed to walk to the window at the end of the hall. Most days I remained in bed. When I became tired of hospital food, Meals in Motion saved me. (This was 8 yrs ago, before Uber Eats was invented.) Sometimes I cried. But for 3 months I was poked and prodded every 4 hours. The nurses fought EVERYDAY to keep me from going in labor. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.
The twins were born on January 16th at 2:15am and 2:17am. I had a c-section, because Baby B was breach. After being born, they had a 2 week stay in NICU that took me 2 years to pay off (with the use of insurance). And yes, there was a medical bill for Baby A AND Baby B. STICKER SHOCK!!!
So whenever someone says, “I want twins.” I think to myself, “Do you really?” Because up to this point in the story, they’re only 2 weeks old. It does get better; but it gets worse first!!!!
I’m trying real hard not to fall into the cycle of “New Year’s Resolution.” I just CAN NOT deal with the pressure. I see everyone on my Facebook feed committing themselves to some amazing pledges. They have joined accountability groups, enrolled in gym memberships, and have even taken pictures of their successful meal preps. People have taken their before pictures with their intended weightloss goals as caption. On IG I have seen gym selfies and clips of workouts at Planet Fitness.
I just don’t have the energy to do any of that. Yea, I workout and eat like I’m 35, but not with the same gusto as these “resolution-ers.” In the past, I have made New Year’s Resolutions and New Year’s De-Solutions. I have tried Weight Watchers, personal trainers, Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean, protein shakes, intermittent fasting, and much, much more. And with each try, I lost a little weight. And I always found it!!!!
I have the willpower of a toddler in a candy store.So, Nope! I CAN NOT!I have been a size 18 for most of my adult life. During my PK (pre-kid) years, I was a size 14. After the first pregnancy, I was a solid size 16. I maintained a size 18 for 3 more births. Three pregnancies and 4 kids later, my stomach looks like a tiger clawed it. I have a mom pooch that can only be removed due to plastic surgery. My leggings, jeans, and tights all bear war-wounds from my thickalicious thighs. When Aunt Flo visits, I have the puffiest muffin top that was ever created. If it wasn’t for a breast reduction 10 years ago by Shell Cosmetic Surgery Center, I’m sure my girls would look like socks with balls in them!!! Whenever I wave at someone, my arm waves too. It’s like my imperfections have a mind of their own.
So, Nope! I CAN NOT!Sure, I wouldn’t mind losing weight, erasing my stretch marks, have thicker hair. and less cellulite. Sure all of those things would be nice. But I want to love the body I’m in. I want to have some “Lizzo” size confidence. I want to parade in public with a crop top and high-waisted jeans. I want to go swimming in a two-piece without a coverall. This year, I want to love and appreciate the body that has given birth to 4 children. The body that continues to allow me to enjoy 5ks and Zumba class. The body that craves black coffee and German chocolate cake. I want to appreciate this body that can twerk like the girls in music videos. This body that my husband loves to cuddle close to at night. This lap that comforts my kids. And these arms! They are the best huggers this side of the Mississippi. Should I dislike the body that gave me so much?
Nope! I CAN NOT!
I can still touch my toes, dance with my daughter, and race and wrestle with my sons. I may not be in the best of shape, but I’m done with trying to get “in shape.” So first, I’m gonna embrace all this gushy-gushy and enjoy my beer. I will learn to love my stretch marks.
I’m 35 years old and there are some things about me that aren’t going to change much. But the one thing I can change is how I see myself. My kids, nor my husband, have ever called me fat, unfit, out of shape, or lazy. They say that I am fun, caring, sexy, and the best baker ever! Therefore, next, I’m going to embrace all the adjectives that show me in a positive light.
Finally, as a young girl, I remember asking my Grandmother why she went to the grocery store in a moo-moo instead of putting on regular clothes. She looked at me with impatient eyes and said, “The older you get, the less you care about what other people say about you.” So, yea. Now, I know Grandma. Now, I know. I CAN NOT deal with the pressure of a New Year’s Resolution. This is the year of me…ALL of ME!
My wallet and I vow to do better every year, and most years we fail.Christmas is supposed to be a time of giving. But for me, it is a time of empty wallets and “unique budgeting.” You know the kind of budgeting I’m talking about…..robbing Peter to pay Paul. Yea, these aren’t my proudest moments, but it’s the truth. I definitely wasn’t using the “B-Word“. Here’s another truth I have to admit: when we had kids, Christmas slowly became an obsession of what toys we could get the kids and what gifts could we give to show someone we loved them.
Yes, we were giving, but for all the wrong reasons.There was a lot of self-gratification in our spending. And our wallet was angry. We have 4 kids, 3 grandparents, 5 uncles, and who knows how many cousins! Christmas for us was an EXPENSE!
Our Christmas Spending had gone wild in all the wrong ways.
After robbing Peter to pay Paul, and watching our wallets “Make it Rain” in Wal-Mart in order to get our kids everything they wanted for Christmas, our kids would only play with the toys for a month. In some cases, the kids would play with the BOXES the toys came in instead of the actual toy! They would create rockets ship, train cars, and medieval weaponry. So I decided to wise up and sought advice from my mom tribe in order to get my Christmas spending under control.
My sister has automatic deposits that go into a “Christmas Account.” They use that money to buy whatever Christmas gifts they need. It works for her, but for me, I need all my money during the year to create a nice “nest egg.” (Which hatches whenever I catch the travel bug.)
I have another friend who doesn’t celebrate Christmas at all. Instead her family celebrates Kwanza. The few gifts she gives are more of the meaningful variety, rather than materialistic toys from commercials. She also spends considerably less during this giving season than I do. I mentioned that idea to the Grandparents, and they replied verbatim: “I don’t care what you do, I’m gonna buy my grand babies whatever I want to buy them!”
So with that logic, I decided to skip that plan. Well, I still want to teach them about Kwanza, but I will also keep the Christmas traditions.
One day I came across a Facebook post. It went something like this, “Something they want. Something they need. Something to wear. And something to read.”
In other words, our kids would ultimately receive 4 gifts each. Not just any 4 gifts, but 4 USEFUL gifts. I decided to give it a try. (What’s the worst that could happen? I spend less during Christmas?! LOL) If 4 gifts is too many, read “Our 3 Gift Christmas.”
Each of my kids received a toy from their list to Santa for the “Something they want”. We would limit this cost to $25 per kid, unless the gift was something that could be shared by all of the kids. (Like a gaming system, board games, or team play gear.)
In the “Something they need” category, I bought shoes. We all know how quickly kids grow out of shoes. The shoes we bought at the beginning of the school year are either too small now, looking like “buddies,” or are talking. (Talking is when the sole of the shoe is coming apart from the rest of the shoe.) We would spend about $45 or less per kid in this category. There are always shoe sales going on. Shoe Carnival always has the BOGO 1/2 Off deals.
For the “Something to Wear” spot, we would always get pajamas. And yes, I mean always. Again, kids grow like weeds. We would buy them their favorite PJs and put it in their Christmas Eve Box. The Christmas Eve Box would consist of their favorite movie snack, a mini-mason jar of Hot Cocoa Mix, a pack of popcorn, and of course, their new PJs.
The “Something to Read” was super easy. I would get the latest Dogman Book or fantasy novel or anything Pinkalicious. If I had trouble selecting inexpensive books, the staff at Novel are always helpful.
Our Christmas Spending usually is as follows: $100 for the “Something You Want”, $180 for the shoes under the “Something You Need”, $50 for PJs and maybe $40 for book with “Something to Read.” (I’m a librarian, so free books kinda just fall in my lap.) That’s a whopping $370 we spend for our kiddos during Christmas. At first, we were spending about…wince…$800-$1000. Yea, again, not my proudest moment.
To satisfy the adults in our family, we play Dirty Santa.
Each adults agrees to purchase 10 small gifts. These gifts range from a set of washcloths from Wal-Mart or holiday-themed lotion from Bath and Body Works to a tin of homemade cookies or a $20 Amazon card. (Seriously, it’s so random and so fun.) We play Christmas Trivia games using a Jeopardy Game that I create myself using PowerPoint. (You can also use KaHoots too.) If you answer the trivia question correctly, you get to retrieve a gift from under the tree or steal from someone else. Everyone LOVES this! We usually contribute about $50-75 worth of “gifts” for Dirty Santa.
If you have any more Christmas Spending Tips, share below! Help a Sista OUT!
Thanksgiving is usually a time where people remember the things they are thankful for. It’s a time for families to get together over a grand meal and fellowship together. For some families, it’s about the deals and steals they can get on Black Friday. For other families, it’s a time to work off those Halloween candy calories by trotting like a turkey. But whatever your family does, Thanksgiving is definitely a MOOD by itself. Even the ballons from the Macy’s Day Parade agree that Thanksgiving has moods.
I don’t know about your family, but sometimes it’s difficult to determine WHERE to have Thanksgiving. Do I go to my in-laws home? Should we go to my mom’s house? Should there be an alternating schedule? As my life changed from single college student, to married youngster, then wife with kids and stuff, Thanksgiving has always been a Mood.
At first, we would always go to Aunt’s house. She loved hosting Thanksgiving each year. My mom, brothers, cousins, grandparents, nephews, nieces, second cousins, and family friends would all be there. We would eat, laugh, and play until the wee hours of the morning.
But as I got older and had all the kids, I preferred something a bit low key. Celebrating Thanksgiving with over 50 people became too much. There were never enough seats. Someone always wanted you to run to the store for something! The loud old uncles got louder while the rude, old aunties got just a bit sassier. And the noise! Whether you were in the living room, den, or the backyard, it was always loud. After the twins kid came along, I was done with “extra-large” family gatherings. I was ready for a mood change.
I’m smiling, but it’s scary.So I opted for a smaller, family Thanksgiving. But then the ugly question rose its head again: Whose house do we go to? My mother-in-law didn’t do the full spread I was used to, but she was a great host and welcomed everyone. My mother can cook like Gordon Ramsey and she was also very welcoming. So, where to go? Eventually, we ended up alternating. If we did Thanksgiving at one in-law’s home, we would do Christmas at the other in-law’s home. That worked for a few years, but then my Thanksgiving Mood changed again.
My husband and I now had 4 small kids. Packing to spend the whole day with relatives required a minor U-Haul. (Just kidding, but definitely a full SUV.) It was a major production and it always felt like I was working on Thanksgiving versus just enjoying myself. Feeding toddlers, changing diapers, pretending to listen to adult conversations, all while what I really wanted to be doing was sleeping in the guest bedroom. My hubby and I would literally communicate through “silent looks of exhaustion.” I was so over Thanksgiving, yet again. I was ready for a new mood.
Because my husband and I are the only ones who have kids between our other 4 siblings, we decided that it would be easier if we were to host Thanksgiving. I love to cook, I love to have people over, and I wouldn’t have to lug a TON of baby crap to another place; sounds like a win-win situation.
So for the next 4-5 years, I hosted Thanksgiving. I cooked delicious meals and mouthwatering desserts. My mom also pitched in so I wouldn’t have to do all of the cooking myself. My mother-in-law and hubby would take over cleanup duty! Everything was great, except the leftovers. THE LEFTOVERS! Have you ever seen Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs? Remember how food was everywhere? That was my refrigerator. We were up to our ears in leftovers. I tried to do some “creative” leftover meals, but that would only entertain my palate for a couple of days. I bet you’re wondering why wouldn’t I just cook less food? I did that for one Thanksgiving.
The complaints about the lack of food rained like $1 bills on a stripper.
We bought the “good” tupperware in the hopes that people would want to take leftovers home in them. But there’s only so much turkey, ham, dressing, and pies a person’s waistline can take.One Thanksgiving, we flipped the script completely. We went out to eat Thanksgiving dinner. We searched for restaurants serving traditional Thanksgiving meals and our family of 6 went to dinner! We tipped our server 100%, because it’s terrible to work on Thanksgiving, but at least the tip would help. The cost of our dinner and the 100% tip was nearly equal to what we would have paid in groceries. This is my favorite Thanksgiving mood. No cooking, no clean-up, no leftovers, no fighting for seats, and no all day festivities. We would watch the parade, eat a delicious dinner out, go home, and watch some football. But due to the traditionalist in my family..ahem…my mom, this Thanksgiving Mood is barely tolerated.
But whatever your Thanksgiving Mood is, let it be a happy one. It has taken my family several different Thanksgiving moods to find what works for us. So my advice to you is to just make it meaningful. And by meaningful, I really mean less stressful.
I don’t need a lot of food to remember what I’m thankful for. I don’t really need a special day to sit around and commune with family or friends. In short, I don’t really need a Thanksgiving Day. So this year, I have decided to let my kids take over Thanksgiving. Here’s the menu they decided:
Turkey w/ Cranberry Sauce
The kids would also like to invite their friends to break a piñata and play board games and video games. I’m not 100% sure this is possible, but we’re going to try.
I wonder how long this Thanksgiving mood will last.