Happy I Love You Day!

Happy I Love You Day!

My daughter keeps asking me for breakfast in bed. I have no idea where this idea of hers comes from since none of us eat breakfast in bed. I can only think about the mess it will make, and wonder what can a kid even eat in bed that isn’t going to be sticky or drippy?

Just as I am mulling over the messy possibilities, I read the email from my dear friend telling me she has Stage IV breast cancer. Out of the blue. Just like that. No warning. My heart stops mid read and I fall to my couch like someone just punched me in the gut. My friend is so full of energy and enthusiasm. She is the definition of living life unconditionally. I have learned a lot of lessons from her about how to enjoy life- how to truly savor a moment. That’s when I realize my kids deserve breakfast in bed. I don’t want there to be a day we don’t celebrate the moment, or the pure luxury of today. I just want to start our day off with love, and excitement for the possibilities of where the day might lead us.

I immediately run to the store to buy their favorite chocolate chip muffins and a carnation flower in their favorite color. As I serve each of them their breakfast (and special flower) in bed I am so swept up in the thought of their excitement, I hear myself sing-song saying, “Happy I Love You Day!” Their eyes open wide and their smiles even wider. It is such a special moment to get caught up in their joy. The crumbs did not matter. Just their chocolaty grins and sheer delight of eating breakfast in bed.

Their jubilation prompts us to ignore our chores and skip making the beds. Today is our adventure! The kids decide where we go. First, a family fun day carnival. They play every game at least 20 times, get their faces painted and we take a family photo at the photo booth. We win a gift certificate to a local pizzeria and decide that is our next stop! It is heart warming to hear my kids rehash their favorite parts of their adventure so far. They decide our next stop is the animal adoption clinic they spot on our way home. It is amazing to see my girls love of the moment bubble over and spill into each next adventure.

We end our day snuggling in mommy and daddy’s bed watching a movie. The happy side effect is the kids aren’t whining as much, they aren’t arguing and they even decide to do everything together. That means camping out in their room and sleeping side by side. (They haven’t slept so close since they were babies). Watching them live so fully in the moment makes my heart skip a beat. I’ll always remember this day, and this special lesson from my beautiful friend! #HeadonHeartStrong

 

Have you ever shared a spontaneous day with your family or loved ones? Let’s hear what you did for fun!

 

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

 

That’s Where You’ll Find Me!

Where You'llFind Me

Hey All! Do you know you can now follow The Whatever Mom on BlogLovin’ ?! It’s true! If you are not using BlogLovin you will be soon! It’s a great way to keep all your favorite blogs organized in one place! (Think Pinterest for all your favorite blog posts!). Go check it out!

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If you can’t find me in any of the places listed above it means I am hiding from my kids and enjoying a cup of icy cold coffee. You know, my happy place. *wink*

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

Give Kids The World 6 Second Ice Cream Challenge

By now I hope you have all watched the video of Kevin Bacon accepting Ethan’s 6 second ice cream challenge. If you haven’t here it is below!

 

Have you ever heard of a place called Give Kids The World? If your kid has never had a life threatening illness, than most likely you have not. Give Kids The World was created in memory of a little girl named Amy who lost her battle to Leukemia before she could ever see her wish come true. All she wanted was to experience a magical visit to a theme park. Today, through the generosity of corporate donations and an amazing ALL VOLUNTEER staff, thousands of kids get to see their wishes come true each year. Children who have a life threatening illness and their families are treated like royalty at this resort at no cost to them.

gktw sign

My niece Ashley was one of those wish kids. Ashley was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was just three years old. Today, we are lucky she is a survivor getting ready for her senior year of high school. Ashley spent nearly 5 months living in a hospital and battled Leukemia for two years. After all her friends had gone off to preschool, she was still home learning how to walk again and catching up on her ABC’s. There are many kids who have endured much worse, or continue to fight against much worse. But, when they get to stay at Give Kids The World, they get to know the joy of being a kid.

Wish Stars hanging inside the Castle of Miracles. My nieces star still hangs inside.
Wish Stars hanging inside the Castle of Miracles. My nieces star still hangs inside.

I had the privilege of visiting this not for profit resort when my niece made her wish to see Disney. During her stay, Ashley and her family were given a luxurious and spacious villa to stay in. Each morning gifts were delivered to Ashley and her little brother. After leaving their jobs, but still having to pay for medical and travel expenses for two years, my brother and his wife did not have to worry about the cost of food, park ticket prices, souvenirs, or where to find fun activities. I tear up every time I remember what a relief it was for all of us to see Ashley running and playing like a typical kid. She definitely got to make up for the lost time in her early childhood.

An aerial view of the resort.
An aerial view of the resort.

I want to share this with you on my blog because I think it helps to know how truly special this charity is. I want everyone to see where their six dollar donation goes. For every dollar taken in, Give Kids The World spends 91.7 cents on providing a cost free vacation for thousands of children with a life threatening illness. A vacation they may never have known possible. The staff is all volunteer and they log in over 1,400 shifts per week. They bend over backwards to give every kid and their family … well, the world.

Please watch Kevin Bacon’s video and take the ice cream challenge and upload your own video! Six dollars does not seem like a lot when you know how much happiness those dollars bring a kid making up for lost time.

Ethan and Kevin Bacon 6 second ice cream challenge.
Ethan and Kevin Bacon 6 second ice cream challenge.

Here is your challenge step by step:

Step 1: Challenge a friend or family member to the #GKTWChallenge.

Step 2: Stuff your face with ice cream for 6 seconds. Get it all on video.

Step 3: Whoever eats the most, wins. Loser donates $6 to Give Kids The World Village. (Though it’d be pretty cool if the winner donated too.)

Step 4: Share your video using the hashtag #GKTWChallenge. Challenge friends and family members to do steps 1-4.

Keep Your Kids Safe Around Water

Be Your Own Life Guard

 

At 12:45 p.m. on Saturday July 18th I nearly lost my mind, but thankfully I did not loose my cool. I was at a birthday party with my girls at a local beach. It was a beautiful day and everyone was having a great time. Typically, I do not consider myself a helicopter parent. I feel like I allow a reasonable amount of space between me and my children for them to feel safe, confident and independent. However, that amount of space significantly decreases when water is involved. Anyone can drown in less than 2 inches of water if not carefully supervised, or respectful of water safety rules.

I am not a super strong swimmer, and I am outnumbered 2 to 1 when it’s just the girls and me at the beach. I am hyper vigilant, especially when they go in opposite directions. While we were at the beach both of my daughters were wearing life vests and only approximately 15 feet away from me. Suddenly, a rough set of waves came to shore and I saw my daughter topple over. She lost her footing and I could see very clearly she began to struggle to catch herself. She started moving her arms like she was trying to swim, but I know she does not know how to swim yet. I could tell by the look on her face she was in trouble. I immediately ran into the water and began shouting, “you’re OK! Mommy is coming!!”

I reached her in a matter of seconds. I scooped her up into my arms and sat her on my hip and began to sooth her. I was impressed at how little she panicked and she didn’t even cry. Another mom came over to chat and I told her what happened. All of this took approximately 30 seconds of time. The life guard on duty, a young teenage girl, never left her guard tower. She didn’t even come down the ladder to ask me if my daughter was OK, she leaned forward in her chair and casually called over, “Is she OK?” I was so angry I could see red. How could this life guard not identify a dangerous situation that happened literally several feet in front of her guard tower? She gets paid to keep an eye out for signs of struggle in the water. Doesn’t she know that drowning is silent?

UlsterLandingPark

I was incredibly agitated by the fact she didn’t rush down as soon as she noticed what had happened. It is her job to assess if someone is in danger. Even while I was soothing my child on my hip it was her job to confirm we were safe. That means leaving her chair to come down and speak with me directly. I was so angry I couldn’t even talk to this girl. I was terrified of how I was going to verbally rip her to pieces. Man, that mama bear instinct is STRONG!

I’ve had many friends tell me not to worry while at the beach, that’s what the life guard is there for. I have witnessed many parents lying out on the sand (sometimes napping) while their older children are in the water alone. I know I am the first one to say hey, you do whatever it takes to get through your day with kids, but water safety is one of the things where I draw the line on saying Whatever too.

Thankfully, I was very vigilant. I know that accidents happen so quickly in water. So, parents, no matter how old your children are, do not take your eyes off of them for a second. Do not leave their young lives up to teenagers who are paying way less attention. I heard from friends at the party afterward that the young guard was texting on her cell phone. Perhaps that is why she completely missed someone struggling in the water only 15 feet from her station. If you are the parent of a teenager, or parent of a young life guard, please share this story with them. Let them know their job is important as people’s lives are in their hands. It may be my child’s precious life in their hands. No text message is worth the loss of anyone’s life.

I may not have been a helicopter parent before, but I am now! Especially while at the beach!

Click here for safety tips and quick lessons from Lifeguard 101. There are options for water safety inside the home and outside of the home.

Sticker Chart Your Way To Success

Sticker Chart Your Goals

Sticker charts are all the rage now. As a mom I use them to help my kids earn prizes for using the potty, to chart their behaviors and chores. But, I never thought to use a sticker chart for myself. After all, I have been pretty potty proficient for the last 38 years and I gave up tantrums a long time ago. Well, mostly.

So, when I met with the personal trainer at my gym and she suggested I use a sticker chart as a way to visually capture my progress I thought it was silly. I’m too old for a sticker chart! Or, am I? I am a hard core type A that does enjoy ticking things off my to-do list; and I do love a good reward.

July 2015 004

Before kids I was at the gym often as a way to decompress from my day. Now, it’s really hard to get there. I often prioritize my self care after the kids needs, my husband and my house. I really need to be better about it. I hope using the sticker chart will jump start my drive to get to the gym, and create a lasting habit. Why not? Whatever works right?

I borrowed some star stickers from my girls and found a free printable calendar online. Every time I go to the gym I put a star on the date I went. It doesn’t matter if I worked out for 10 minutes, or an  hour. I earned my sticker for going to the gym.

July 2015 005

AAAAAND…. if I am using my sticker chart correctly I will also earn a reward! I’m thinking a nice mani/pedi at the end of the month is the perfect motivation to keep me earning those stickers!

What kind of rewards do you give yourself when you reach a goal?

 

Technology Killed The Teenage Romance

Teenage Romance (1)

We were so lucky to have my niece Ashley stay with us last week. My girls were smitten with having an older cousin to snuggle with and play with. They couldn’t stop staring at her the first two days she was here. It was very adorable. I was thankful for the extra set of hands when corralling two little ones. Ashley and I had fun watching TV and eating snacks, shopping and just laughing once the kids were in bed.

Ashley is dating a new boy and left him behind for the entire week. (OMG!) They would text each other from the moment they woke up until the moment they went to bed. This made me kind of chuckle when I remembered my own teenage romance… circa 1990. I was just 15 when I started dating. I fell in love with a boy who’s family lived on opposite sides of the country. Every summer he would hop a plane and travel between families for a few weeks before coming home. I remember thinking this was the biggest heartache I could ever have. Ahhhh teenage naivete.

To pass the time until we were united again we had to write each other actual letters. . .  on paper. . . using a pen. It was so exciting when we discovered email!! We could fire off a love letter at any time and just had to wait for the once a week we were able to check it! Today teenagers have entire conversations via text messaging! No more hand written letters on carefully selected (and scented) stationary.

If we wanted to include a picture of our fun adventures we had to drop off our entire camera at the drug store and wait two days for it to process. Then we put the pictures into an envelop, added a stamp and placed it in a mailbox. It could take up to 5 days for a letter to reach our love. The crazy kids of today can send pics via Snap Chat, Instagram, Twitter, or post on Facebook in a matter of seconds!

If we wanted to talk over the phone we had to wait until a certain hour of the day for the cheapest rate. Then we could only talk to each other for 30 minutes (45 if our parents were distracted). We had to pay actual money to talk to each other on the phone. Today teenagers can talk as long as they want at any time of day via Face Time, or Skype, or through any number of apps without the meter running!

There are apps and websites that exist today that allow you to track your loved ones airline flight. Back in the dark ages of the 1990’s no such thing existed. I had a hand written itinerary that I copied off of my boy friend’s airline ticket and I just had to wait. It was a guessing game of how much time it would take him to get home.

Technology has ruined the teenage romance. No more wondering, “Is he thinking of me?”  when you can text him 17 times a day, “are you thinking of me?” “how about now?” “Still thinking of me?” No more mystery of “what is she doing right now?” when you can see all the pics posted on Facebook.

I caught myself saying things this week like, “in my day” or “back in the days we didn’t have iphones.” I had to laugh a little at the thought of my 16 year old self tethered to a portable electronic device. It isn’t just the device I’d be tethered to, but the boy on the other side. It might seem convenient to have instant access to your sweetie, but where is the mystery and the romance in that?

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

 

 

 

 

To Grandmother’s House We Go!

To Grandmother's House

As soon as summer arrives the girls and I hit the open road. We make several road trips each summer to see our family and friends. This weekend we traveled home to see Nana (their grandma). The girls were so excited they started packing two days in advance. Of course all they packed were pajamas and stuffed animals, but hey they were motivated!

On a typical trip home, or an outing anywhere, I pack up individual activity bags for each of my girls. This time I decided to go with one basket of activities. This will save me from having to reload two different bags and keeping track of what items belong in each bag.

Road trip activity basket

I re-purposed a broken picnic basket I had set aside for the trash. (A small child in my care put their foot through the top while using it as a step stool. No names are given to protect the identity of the evil doer). I simply removed the hinges holding the top to the basket- viola! A perfectly usable basket!

Road Trip Activity Basket

My mom has a low tech household, which is fine because we do to. So, I packed activities they could do with grandma: side walk chalk, bubbles, card games, story books, and crayons and coloring books. I even packed our calming bottles just in case we needed to get through a tantrum while at Nana’s (thankfully they were really, really well behaved).

Road Trip Activity Basket

This basket was especially helpful during our drive! I left it in my passenger seat so any time the girls wanted a new book I could easily reach for one and pass it back to them.

The basket idea was a big hit for the girls and worked great for me!

 

What kind of activities do you keep on hand while traveling with kids?

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

 

 

My Dear Graduates

Dear Graduates Class of 2015

The girls and I are getting ready to head home for graduation weekend. I have three nephews ready to meet the next phases of their lives. The little guy just graduated Pre-K and the two older (ages 18 and 19) are graduating high school and ready to face the world.

I was just 17 years old when I graduated high school and I naively thought everything in life was going to be easier than it is. I knew there would be struggles, but I had no idea the lessons I would learn and the difficulties I’d encounter to learn them. My nephews (and my nieces) are my first kids. Watching them grow up has been a joyful experience I am so thankful to be blessed with. I want to protect them from the evils of this world. But, I can’t. So, I hope sharing these small words of wisdom on their graduation day will help them along the way.

1. Always Be kind. To everyone you meet. Not only is it the right thing to do, but one day you will find yourself in a position where you need someone’s kindness. Treat other’s the way you want to be treated in any situation, and always show compassion.

2. Always Know You Are Enough. You may find yourself surrounded by people with more money, more education, more friends, etc. But, no one holds more value than you. take a breath and tell yourself, “I belong here too.”

3. Never Be Afraid of Hard Work. Nothing in life is handed to us. If you want more from life don’t be afraid to start at the bottom and work your way to the top. It will feel difficult and sometimes pointless, but just keep working. One day all that hard work and struggle will be rewarded.

4. Remember To Rest As Much As You Work. We spend most of our young adult life working hard and chasing new opportunities. Take time to make a memory, soak in a sunset, remember the feeling of holding someone’s hand, or remember how the ocean smells. These memories will carry you through the struggles in life (and one day old age).

5. No Matter Where You Go, Just Be You. Don’t change yourself to impress other people. You are who you are (and that is enough). If you have to work to get someone to like you or notice you then the relationship isn’t genuine. You will find greater quality relationships by first accepting yourself.

6. Money Is Not Everything. Money is important to paying the bills, but it is not what you build your life on. Pursuing money above love will only bring you loneliness and heartache. May you always have enough to be comfortable, and just enough extra to buy a few luxuries.

7. Never Be Afraid To Be Generous. Give away your money, open your heart, volunteer your skills, lend out your things even if they never come back. The energy and love you put out into this world will always come back to you. If you are generous life will be generous to you. If you are stingy life will treat you the same.

8. Make Safe Choices. Sometimes it’s easy to go with the flow and just follow the crowd. You may find yourself ready to do something that goes against your instincts. It’s OK to say no and make the choice that feels right to you.

9. Take Care of Your Body. Eat nourishing food, give yourself plenty of rest and take good care of it. One day you will need it to take care of you.

10. Always Look Before You Sit. This piece of advice was delivered to me on my graduation day and I still live by it. Nothing ruins your day, or your mood, faster than sitting in something sticky or messy.

Always remember this: Always. No matter where you go in life, no matter what job you have, who you marry, no matter what religion you choose (or don’t choose); even if you chose to change your body, I will always love you. Always.

Congratulations graduates! Go make yourselves proud and build the life you were meant to live and enjoy every single moment of it!

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Simple Ways To Celebrate Dad on Father’s Day

Simply Dad

I know Father’s Day is on the calendar every year and I have exactly 1 year of planning time between each celebration. But, I always remember last minute I need to get my hubby a gift. Actually, hubby and I do not exchange gifts with each other on Father’s Day or Mother’s Day. The gifts come from the kids. He store buys my gifts in a mad panic the night before Mother’s Day, and I hand create something magical in less than 5 minutes the morning of Father’s Day. It’s really the thought that counts right?

This will be our fifth year celebrating Father’s Day and I thought I’d share a some of our low cost gift ideas and traditions.

A Picture Says It All. For my husbands first Father’s day I did my planning in advance (by two weeks). He gave up his Camaro when he found out I was pregnant with twins. So, I converted an empty formula can into a Daddy’s Camaro Fund jar. I used pretty paper to wrap the can, glued on a picture of his beloved Camaro and used foam letter stickers to spell out “Daddy’s Camaro Fund.” I paired it with a custom t-shirt. I took a picture of our twins holding a plastic set of keys. I had the picture screened onto a shirt and above the picture I had printed, “Our tiny hands hold the keys to daddy’s heart.” I spent less than $20 and hubby wears that t-shirt every single year. Print out a cute picture of your kids holding letters that spell out D-A-D and put in a cute frame for his desk at work.

Go On A Picnic. We live in an amazingly scenic valley. We walk the same walkway trail every year and stop for a picnic. Hubby wears his t-shirt and I pack a lunch for everyone. It doesn’t matter where we eat. It is just a lovely way to spend the day outside and enjoy some time together. Take your dad to a favorite hiking spot, a park or outdoor area and treat him to a homemade meal.

Make Dad The King. After we take our usual walk we return home so hubby can sit in his favorite comfy outside chair with an icy cold beer. My husband works a lot of hours so we can afford for me to stay home (and write this killer blog). It’s only fitting to let him relax while we do a little work. The girls and I wash his car. It isn’t always a perfect car wash with two littles helping out, but it is a nice way to let him enjoy some down time and I can teach my kids how to do something nice for someone else.

Kiddie Coupons. One year I was so behind in my planning that I grabbed blank, white printer paper and hand drew some cute coupons from the kids. Of course the girls helped me with the silly ideas. We made coupons for free snuggles, free date days and free car washes. Hand make some fun little coupons to let dad know you appreciate his hard work, or find a great Pinterest site with kiddie coupons and print them out!

Overall, we don’t make a big fuss about Father’s Day. My kids are still so little that it is really more about laying the foundation for showing gratitude and expressing appreciation. One day the girls will be in charge of the gift planning and I hope they understand it isn’t the amount of money that goes into a gift, rather the amount of thought that goes into it.

What are some of your favorite Father’s Day gift ideas? Please share away!

 

I Said I’d Never Do —>THIS!

Potty Fairies

I remember watching the Pull Ups commercial where the little girl is sometimes a “potty super hero, and sometimes she’s a potty princess” and I thought, “yeah that’s not gonna happen!” I am not going to make potty training this magical fun fest that never goes away. You have to pee, you put it in the potty end of discussion.

Well, fast forward to age four and a half and my little lovies are still fearful of using the big potty for more than the business of #1. We still have issues with #2 (To my child’s future therapist, I am not sharing this to humiliate my child as she will claim, but it is to help OTHER MOMS know they are not the only ones who do these crazy things in the name of helping their child “grow”).

Ya’ll… I willingly sprinkled glitter (a.k.a. magical fairy dust) all over my house to convince my children they had been visited by the potty fairy. What is the purpose of this potty fairy? Well, each child gets their own personal fairy who will go with them to the potty and keep them safe. I assured my innocent little cherubs that these fairies will give them the confidence they need to be successful little poopers. These magic fairies report back to Fairy Godmother who will grant them prizes based on their success. I said I’d never make the potty a magical place. And, now I hang my head in shame and share with the world the biggest, fattest lie I have ever told my children. And why? Because I am just trying to make it through ONE day without having to clean up you know. . . p-o-o-p.

We are on day two of the magic and so far one kid has lost her stupid little fairy, and the other is insisting her fairy will be making the poops for her, so she never has to sit on the potty again. *Sigh* I tried moms. I tried.

The most useful parenting advice I ever received: “all those things you said  you’ll never do- you will do them ALL!” So, fess up moms! What have you done that you said you would NEVER DO?