Rocket Pop Mania!

w rocket pop

Let’s switch gears and talk about something fun.  As much as I love talking about gender (and I do, I could talk about it forever), and as important as the heavy parenting topics are, sometimes we need to take a fucking break.  I love summer.  LOVE IT.  Sure, I have a slight issue where I faint when I get too hot and it’s too hot all summer in Houston, but I don’t care.  I could spend all day, every day, for the rest of my life in the pool or at the beach, eating popsicles and hamburgers, drinking beer, and just being with my favorite people.  My kids share this love, especially when it comes to popsicles (and minus the beer, obvi).  My daughter would only eat popsicles for the rest of her days if I let her, and in the summer, I do pretty much let her, because I can because we make them at home and they’re really, really healthy.

As long as something is frozen and moderately sweet, she is happy, but the girl especially loves Rocket Pops.  We only buy them for the Fourth of July, so I thought I would take it upon myself to try a homemade version.  They’re not as sweet, or as patriotic looking as the real deal, but they’re yummy and so healthy.


m rocket pop

What you need:

A popsicle kit (mine only makes four, but I think I need to expand my collection!)

An immersion blender (I have this one and love it)

1 cup cherries

2 limes

Sugar (optional)

1 cup blueberries

Pit your cherries, and puree them.  Add them to the mold, and freeze until solid.  Pour the juice of half a lime into each mold, and freeze again*, puree blueberries, and do the same.  Ta da.  Rocket pops.

If you want a bolder color, you could definitely cook your fruit first, but I tend to err on the side of easy.

*I don’t usually add sugar to my popsicles, so that’s why I kept the lime layer really thin.  It was crazy sour, but delicious.  It really depends on your sour tolerance.

Speaking of rocket pops, here are some cute things that have rocket pops on them, because they’re so adorable and I’m obsessed!

rocket pop

Men’s Underwear/Headband/Sunsuit/T-Shirt/Shorts

Shirt/Dress/Temporary Tattoo

Happy Summer!

Grief and Children: How to Explain Death

“Patience on a Monument Smiling at Grief” John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

After the terrible blow that was 2014, the way we grieve and talk about death have really been on my radar, especially when it comes to our daughter.  When she was brand-new I had a conversation with my father-in-law about Harry Potter.  He and his wife were watching one of the movies, and I had commented that I hadn’t read the books or seen the films, but that I would wait until my kids were a bit older and we could read and watch them together.  He was concerned about exposing children to the sadness of death, but I argued that it was a natural part of life and that they needed to know.  Unfortunately, he was one of the people we lost last year; my daughter’s first brush with bereavement.  When he was ailing, I spent a lot of time researching how to explain death to a child.  I spoke to our pediatrician, read articles, and did some soul searching.  Everything I came across gave largely the same advice.  I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but I listened to this episode of This American Life the other day, and it felt too important not to share.  So here is what I learned:

The most significant thing you can do when a loved one dies is to be direct and factual with your children.  It is so tempting to try to protect them, but you can’t really.  They always know, at the very least, that something is terribly wrong, and it’s much scarier to be in the dark than to know even the most upsetting information.  It’s especially important to explain the facts of what happened, along with the reasons it won’t happen to them. If someone died of cancer, tell them the person was sick, but also reassure them that it’s different from when they get sick, and that it’s not contagious.  It can also be helpful to let them know it wasn’t their fault, depending on the situation.

If it was a caregiver who died, children need reassurance that someone will still be there to care for them.  It may seem selfish from an adult’s perspective, but if you were entirely dependent on help, you would worry about your well being if there was no one to care for you as well.  The world is scary when you’re small. Let them know that someone will always be there for them.

If you are religious, it’s still often best to avoid talk of the afterlife, especially with a very young child. It can be confusing to think that the person is still there, but that you can’t see them.  It’s better to explain that the person is gone.  Everything I read said the same thing: simply explain that the person’s body stopped working, and why.  If they already have a strong understanding of Heaven, they might bring it up themselves, in which case you should answer their questions in a way that feels honest and simple to you.  Let them take the lead, and don’t over-explain.

Let your child ask questions, but don’t insist that they talk.  Death is a tricky concept to understand, and questions that seem inappropriate, are just their way of working through the facts.  They need space to think, so don’t press them for questions.  Just be available to answer them as they come up.  Also, let them use play to work through their issues. Play is how children make sense of the world, and is interestingly less about escape than confronting their problems straight on.

Something I found interesting in the This American Life story was the mention that children re-grieve as they grow.  Each new milestone brings on new grief.  We tend to think of grieving as something that is very intense in the beginning, but lessens with time. Children don’t necessarily follow the seven stages of grief, but grieve in waves instead.  I found this really interesting because my daughter seemed to go through a cognitive leap recently, and with it came many more questions about Pop Pop.

And to circle back to the first point, always tell the truth.  This has been the biggest theme in everything that I have read or listened to, so it seems worth repeating.  When my grandmother’s mother died when she was six, she was told her that her mom went away on a train.  She lived to the age of ninety and never forgot that betrayal.  She had to grieve twice…once for the abandonment of her mother, and again for her death.  It’s so important to really let kids know what happened so they can grieve appropriately, and hopefully only need to process one loss.

Here are the links I found most helpful when I was doing my research, along with some posts that have come up since:

This BabyCenter article on explaining death to a preschooler was my favorite.

A Cup of Jo also tackled the issue recently.

The aforementioned “This American Life” episode is great all around, but the third act is about death, and is really moving and interesting.  I definitely recommend it to all parents, not just those dealing with loss.

I haven’t read this book, but I stumbled across this post this morning, and had to stop back by the blog to add this recommendation for Duck, Death, and the Tulip.  Like I said, I don’t know much about it, but it looks interesting.

If you live in Houston, Bo’s Place was recommended by our pediatrician, but if not there are similar grief counseling organizations throughout the country.

Hopefully you won’t need this information, but if you do, I hope you find this post helpful.

Some Thoughts On Gender

dudelookslikealady

 

I took my kids to the children’s museum on Sunday.  While my husband and daughter played in the main area, I took my son to the baby room.  We had been playing outside in the water before I took him upstairs (because we didn’t think things through at all), so I had to change him into his backup outfit, which consisted of a onesie and nothing else.  Everyone thought he was a girl.  Everyone.

We make a point not to emphasize gender roles at home.  My kids can play with, wear, and be interested in whatever they want, but our day in the baby room really upset me.  Not because everyone thought my son was a girl, but because of the way they spoke to him.  I have always bristled at the way people address my daughter, but it was really interesting to see my son treated the same way.  People were telling their kids to be gentle with him. Everyone told him how pretty he is.  One mom commented on how he was playing quietly, and that’s how you know that boys and girls are fundamentally different because her boy was running around wildly (which I thought was interesting, because her son wasn’t running around, but sitting and playing with a toy).  She also kept telling her son, who was playing with mine, how lucky he was to have found a pretty friend.  I never corrected her, but as we were leaving I considered telling her she was talking to a boy, just to see how she would react.  I assume she would have been horrified.

I just think it’s strange the way we project gender onto babies.  My kids are both pretty and they’re both tough, and smart, and hilarious (in my own, totally unbiased opinion).  They’re really different from each other, but neither is 100% stereotypically boy or girl.  They’re just little people  learning about the world, and I don’t want to limit them based on their junk.  Most of the time it feels like I’m alone in that endeavor.

Drinking some Japanese Kool Aid

MELTOWNGETSHERSHITTOGETHER

Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I read “The Life-Changing Magice of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo and have started applying the KonMari method to my life.  I’m hardly the first person to obsess over this book so google away if you want to know how other people have experienced the methods, but here are my thoughts so far:

The Philosophy:  Keep only thing things in your life that “spark joy” and find a place in your home for every single thing that you do keep.

The Pros:

  • I have so much less clutter already.  I’m not even close to finished with my house, but I feel so much lighter, and actually happier.
  • Purging becomes an addiction.  I can’t wait to get home every day and clear out and organized the next category on my list.
  • Her methods work!  She does a good job of actually teaching you how to clean out your home.  For example, you don’t clean out your closet…you clean out your entire wardrobe.  You go by category, not area of your house, and then you put everything away together.  It’s a really thorough way of purging, and an effective way of organizing.
  • She really helps you let go of things you don’t need without guilt.  Which is weird because when you think of your belongings as inanimate objects you feel guilty discarding them, but when you personify them you start to feel ok letting them go (this book is kind of kooky, just trust me on this part).

The Cons:

  • It takes six months.  That’s a long time, and I’m worried I’ll burn out eventually (I’m on week three).
  • She doesn’t have kids and it’s obvious.  I don’t have the luxury of taking every belonging out of my purse every evening and re-packing it every morning.  I’m too busy explaining that we don’t watch TV on Tuesday nights, or arguing with my three year old that yes, she does have to wear shoes to school and OMG WE’RE LATE AGAIN!
  • Her methods aren’t 100% practical.  I kept only the clothing items that “sparked joy” but those items are sequined or bright-colored cocktail dresses, black lacy underwear, light and colorful dresses, and shorts of every color.  That sounds wonderful except I have a full time job and I need business casual clothes, and I never go to cocktail parties.  You can’t (or shouldn’t) wear black lacy underwear with white dresses.  Pretty, delicate blouses and short shorts aren’t the most practical mom clothes, and sometimes I need to wear something that can get dirty.  I have been inspired to buy new work clothes that do make me happy, but I can’t give up my “play clothes.”
  • I kind of want to go on a spending spree.  The point is to declutter, but when you’re tasked with keeping only the items that make you happy you start to think nothing you own is truly special enough to “spark joy.”  I’m really fighting the urge to scrap all but a few clothing items so I can start over.

The Surprises:

  • I was prepared to hate her method of folding and storing clothes.  I was oddly angry about it, but in the interest of embracing her method as best I could, I tried it and I love it.  I’m addicted to “filing” my clothes away now!
  • Keeping all of your belongings together actually makes a lot of sense.  I always kept our most-worn shoes by the back door for convenience sake, but keeping them in our respective rooms has made a huge impact on our mornings, and the feeling of the entrance of our house.  It’s slightly inconvenient to walk upstairs to put everyone’s shoes away when we get home, but there’s no longer clutter by the door, and the kids get 100% dressed before we go downstairs.  They’re weirdly more amenable to putting on their shoes when getting dressed for the day than they are when we’re on the way out in the mornings.  It more than makes up for the small effort of walking up the stairs in the evenings.
  • I didn’t feel as crazy talking to my clothes as I expected.
  • I’m way too wrapped up in this philosophy.  I’m not into self-help books, or spiritual guides, or working really hard on my house after work, but this book has gotten ahold of me and I feel kind of weird about it.  I can’t stop talking about it, and I think people are starting to suspect that I’ve joined a cult.

The Tips: 

  • Follow her methods, even if you think they’re dumb.  In the interest of doing it right, I’ve forced myself to stick closely with the program.  If something doesn’t work, you can always change it, but her methods have all worked better than I expected.
  • Watch YouTube videos.  I watched the video of her folding the perfect underwear drawer, and it was a huge help.
  • Actually read the book, don’t wing it.  You need to see the whole picture in order to do it correctly.  Read it from start to finish before you get to work.

As I mentioned, it’s a huge undertaking to organize an entire house, especially if you have a lot of junk, or kids, or a life, so this process is going to take a really long time.  So far I’ve done my clothes, and my kid’s clothes.  This is just a quick summation of my early thoughts.  So far I’m obsessed, but we’ll see how I feel in the end!  I’ll keep you posted, and I promise I’ll get some good pictures!

Mother’s Day Gifts for Terrible Children

Hey!  You!  Mother’s Day is Sunday…have you bought your mom a gift yet?  If not, here’s an Amazon Prime gift guide so you can get her something nice in a hurry.  You’re welcome.

mothers day

Coffee Mug/Pajamas/Perfume/Soap/iPhone 6 Case

This week has been insane, but I’m working on putting my thoughts together in regards to applying the KonMari method to my house.  Keep an eye out for some upcoming posts!

Recovery Mode.

July 4, 2014

July 4, 2014

I just did something crazy.  I’ll tell you all about it, but first, a little background:  2014 was a terrible, terrible year for us.  It started out fine, exciting even.  We were expecting our second child, a baby boy, to join our darling daughter.  My husband, Jake, had just gotten a new job, we were making progress on our house, everything was happy (actually, I’m kind of an angry monster when I’m pregnant, but I mean we were generally happy).  Then Jake’s grandmother was diagnosed with cancer.  It was disheartening, of course, and a difficult blow for our family, but it was just a diagnosis.  Then, in April our beautiful baby was born, and he was amazing, and his sister was amazing and they were so cute together and everything was wonderful.  Except, when you have a second child it’s really hard.  So much harder than anything I had done before, and Jake’s law firm didn’t really let him take any time off.  Splitting myself in two to care for a freshly minted two year old and a baby who had been a fetus just weeks before was unreal.  I couldn’t lift my daughter, because I had a c-section.  They both needed all of me, which was impossible.  Then I went back to work.  Holy. Crap.  Now I was split in three.  Then, the first week back, we had a long weekend for Independence Day.  We relaxed, and spent as a family, and my daughter went swimming and ate popsicles.  Then we got a call, and another call, and another.  My grandmother was in the hospital.  Jake’s grandmother was in the hospital.  Jake’s dad was in the hospital.  My grandmother died soon after and I flew, alone with a very sick (just a severe cold, thankfully) three month old to mourn with my family.  The baby vomited mucus and breastmilk all over me in the middle of the night.  Both nights.  All over the bed.  I flew home.  Jake’s dad was really sick, a brain tumor.  Jake went back to his old law firm (and they were wonderful), and traveled to be with his family and help care for his father.  The baby woke up every hour, screaming in pain from constant ear infections.  We took the kids to Illinois so Jake’s dad could meet the baby.  We were there for two weeks and we lost him.  It was the hardest two weeks.  The kids were sick, the baby had yet another ear infection and had to go to urgent care for antibiotics…we had rescheduled his tubes surgery to go to Illinois.  No one slept.  It was too cold to be outside, especially for tiny Texans.  I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for a family who had lost its patriarch days before.  My cousin died, unexpectedly, the same week.  I had just had a sweet conversation with her at my grandmother’s funeral where she complimented the obituary I wrote — high praise as she was an English teacher — and she spoke fondly of her new granddaughter.  There was so much tangible grief, that the kids soaked it up and it manifested in tears and tantrums and wakefulness.  Then we came home, and tried to be normal, but the baby had surgery and Jake’s grandmother died; two weeks after we lost his dad.  Since then we also lost my uncle and Jake’s other grandmother.  Seven people in seven months.  I don’t know how we survived that year.

And yet we did.  The shadow still looms, though, and so I did something crazy.  I tried to change everything.  You can’t do that.  You can’t fix everything at once.  I spent the last few weeks touring preschools and setting up a nanny to make things easier.  I went so far as to basically offer her the job.  Then I took it away the next day.  I panicked.  It was too much change, and a total 180 from where we are.  In my effort to simplify, I made everything more stressful, and I think the last year made me see how badly things can go.  All I could see were the worst-case scenarios.  What if the nanny was in a car accident while driving the kids somewhere?  What if someone was injured and she panicked?  What if it didn’t work out and we had to start from scratch?  What if, what if, what if?  I couldn’t do it, it was too much.  So we have a new plan…no changes.  I’m still working to simplify, because that’s just necessary, but no major life decisions right now.  We’re not in a good place to make them.  We need a year of calm before we do something crazy like getting a new job, or having another baby.  We need a fucking break.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

How I spend my lunch hour: eating gross food in my car.

How I spend my lunch hour: eating fast food in my car while running errands.

I’ve never been one to keep things simple.  I tend to overdo, over-plan, and over-whelm.  There’s definitely a feminist message in there: you can minor in gender studies all you want, but that doesn’t make it easy to crawl out from under the expectations of women.  I always joke (because I’m HILARIOUS) that I have three full time jobs : my actual full-time day job, my mom job, and the third and hardest job – the totally manufactured and unnecessary job of keeping up with society’s expectations.  The good news is as I get older, I’m finding that I’m starting to give zero fucks about the last one.  Ok, maybe not zero yet, but I’m getting there.  I’m turning 32 this weekend, and this year my resolution is to simplify my life.  EVERYTHING about my life.  Here’s what I’m thinking so far:

I need to get rid of the crap that is taking over my house.  ALL OF IT.  Like 80% of my belongings.  This book has been recommended by the entire internet, so that means it will definitely fix my life. Right?

Simplifying my kids’ routine seems worth a try (even if it’s fruitless).  I’ve been working on something like this, but in the interest of simplicity maybe I’ll just buy one.

I love the idea of a dinner schedule.  I had a similar idea that I quickly gave up on because it took a ton of planning, but it would be so awesome to have a loose theme to go on.  You could make a different kind of taco every week to avoid a rut, but still know you make tacos on Tuesday.  I would love to extend it to other meals and snacks as well.

I’ve thought about coming up with a work uniform for YEARS.  What will I wear?  I’m kind of thinking I’ll go more of the capsule wardrobe route than full-on uniform, but I have a TON of clothes and hardly anything to wear.  I would like to reverse that situation.  My husband wears suits to work, and he gets completely dressed every day while I’m still standing in my closet with a blank look on my face.

It’s also time to return to a paper day planner.  I love my iPhone as much as the next millennial mom (and by love, I mean hopelessly addicted to the detriment of myself and those around me), but it’s just so much easier to be organized on paper.  More of my thoughts on this here.

I would much rather spend my time doing this than running sad lunch errands.

I would much rather spend my time doing this than running sad lunch errands.

I have no idea how or when I’m going to implement these changes.  Per usual, I’m over-thinking and over-complicating the process, but I’m hoping I can get started soon! I’ll keep you posted!