Ditch The Dolls, Girls Deserve Better Toys

As I was in the middle of a rough Tabata session today, the instructor brought up dolls, and I realized, our girls deserve better toys.  She said she never let her mother buy her daughter those American Girl dolls… and then I was too busy doing kegel exercises in between jumping jacks to hear the rest.  As I was surrounded by women, of all shapes and sizes, lots of mothers, college students, young and old, I realized that the dolls of my youth, did a terrible job of representing my worth as a woman.

As I left Tabata, red faced and drenched with sweat, I felt like a strong, sexy woman.  I didn’t care if my makeup was running, because I didn’t have any on.  I didn’t care that I had armpit stubble every time I went up for an extension. I didn’t care that my chub roll showed each time I sat down, or that my sports bra did a terrible job of hiding my back fat.  I didn’t even care that through the smell of sweat, I detected a faint smell of urine (must do more kegels).

I was the complete opposite of any perfect little girly, girl doll of my youth and yet I felt strong, empowered, and beautiful.  Fuck you, Barbie.  Thanks to you, (and other pink plastic toys) it took me 36 years to get over the definition of feminine in my own head.  In that moment, walking out of the gym in all my glory, I was the definition of woman.  

It’s no wonder that my daughters have never played with Barbie dolls or owned any doll that eats, pees, poops, cries, farts, or whines.  A relative bought them each an American Girls Dolls and they sat in a stuffed animal bin until their blonde silky hair got matted and I gave them away.  Rag dolls and porcelain dolls creep me out, almost as much as a Barbie Doll with a 3 inch thigh gap. These types of dolls serve no purpose in raising self sufficient girls.  

I’d rather my daughters have a doll with dirt on her face.  One who drives her own truck, rather than ride shotgun in a convertible.  I want the dirt to come from fixing her own flat tire and thick, beautiful thighs to show she lifted that truck tire into her flatbed by herself.

A girl needs a set of weights in addition to a kitchen set so she can not only learn to cook her own healthy meals, but build the muscle to become strong.

Instead of a princess castle, she needs a tool set.  The pallet crafts of today, will be tomorrow’s home repairs, making her more independent and empowered.

If you still need to get her dolls, ditch the high fashion outfits and tutus, and buy female dolls dressed like professionals, doctors or scientists.  These are positive images that will inspire them into these careers as they get older.

Pretend play is important, just make sure your kids have a lot of options.  We had a dress up bin that contained princess dresses, but it also had everyday hero costumes like a firefighter, super heroes and professional costumes, like a veterinarian.

Whether you subconsciously buy the same toys you played with as a kid, or you think you’re doing what every other parent does, stop and think of it’s purpose and most importantly, it’s message. Paint the image you want your children to see, don’t let others control that.  


Holiday time is coming! Please consider buying purposeful gifts this year.  If you need toy ideas, click on the red hyper links in the text.  It will bring you to samples through my Amazon account.

It’s Time To Change The American Dream

When my kids grow up, I want their hearts to be free, their souls to be nourished, and their burdens to be few.  

Part III: It’s time to change the American Dream

College grads with more debt than job opportunity.  Jobs that take us away from our families while barely paying us enough to make repairs on our home.  Happy marriages that are statistically more likely to end in divorce.  Entitled kids that can’t see beyond their tiny phone screen.  16 million people suffering from depression in America.  Food that is literally killing us.  These are all things that are “normal” in American society.  All things that are part of the American Dream, we are unconsciously living.

This version of the American Dream is soul crushing and has to be changed.  Recently, my husband and I tried to make some drastic changes to our American Dream.

We put our 2000 square foot home on the market to live in a 700 square foot camper for one year.  We were only going to keep the essentials (clothes, sentimental items, etc), pack them into the truck and travel with our 3 girls across the country (and back).  I had a writing gig for money and of course, we would have some money from the sale of our home.  We were going to document our travels and share with the world our new version of the American Dream.

More importantly, we were going to fulfill our dream of spending a year together as a family, seeing things none of us had ever seen before.  As a teacher, I could teach the kids their online school work to ensure they met the “standards” but in traveling, they would be learning through experience, and there’s no greater lesson than that.  Exploring caverns, and writing about adventures.  Meeting Native Americans and learning about their sacred land. Camping under the stars and learning about science in our true environment.  These lessons would be truly unforgettable.

However, this didn’t happen.  We expected to sell our house in days, it sat on the market for weeks.  We started to get pressure from family regarding our parenting and whether we were thinking of our own children in all this.  It turned nasty, because some were too stuck in their selfish feelings that they were not able to see the amazing experience this would have been.

What I’ve learned is that the majority of people are afraid of change.  They’ll work a dead end job where they spend more time at work than with their family, because they’re afraid to take a risk to try something different.  They’ll listen to their kids complain about countless tests and an epidemic of bullying, because they don’t understand the endless school options now available.

I’ve also learned that many of the people who judge us, are the same people who discriminate against others.  Their fear of the unknown motivates them to have a very closed-minded, one-sided view of the world, and they’re not afraid to give their very judgmental, biased opinion.

While these people are driven by fear, my husband and I are driven by purpose.  Our purpose is to expose our girls to things in life beyond their current understanding.  To bring experience and passion into their lives so when it’s time, they will make decisions based on experience, rather than someone else’s belief.  They will be strengthened through our ability to take a risk without fear of failure and given the confidence to follow through on their dreams.  Most importantly, we’ll give them the freedom to choose because we realize the importance of never telling someone who or what they can be.

Our dream is on hold right now, but it’s not dead.  This year holds a lot of changes and we are very excited to embrace them and share them with all of you.

To be continued…

Want to see how these views were shaped?  See About a Boy and About a Girl.

One Simple Wish for My Children: About a Girl

When my kids grow up, I want their hearts to be free, their souls to be nourished, and their burdens to be few. 

Part II:  About A Girl

Her parents didn’t have money to send her to college, they didn’t even have the means to make sure she finished high school.  She was determined to go to college because there she would have freedom.  All she ever wanted was a happy heart and a soul mate.

She thought she’d be a Sports Broadcaster, do something many women weren’t doing at the time.  She loved football and imaged herself on the sidelines calling the game and talking to athletes.  She was a dreamer.

Unfortunately, without any money, she had to work full time just to pay for part time credits in college.  She was really good at her sales job, so much so that she made more money than her mom did that year.  Her dad, who wasn’t in the picture much, was also in sales and applauded her choice to choose work over school.  She had approval, money, and a boyfriend, but she was unfulfilled.

She worked at that company for 5 years before transferring to another city to follow her boyfriend.  He had his degree, there was never any question that he was going to be in business.  She found sales to drain her and went in search of something more.

She ended up getting married and having babies.  Her heart was full as a stay-at-home mom.  At night, she attended college classes and eventually earned her degree in education.  She loved learning, it fed her soul.

Unfortunately, once she found herself, she lost her husband.

She could have sacrificed herself, forgiven him and moved on, like she had before, but this time even though her heart was breaking her soul was full.  She chose to muster her strength and seek her happiness again.  She found it, within another, but most importantly, within herself.

She never lost faith in herself.  She was given the power of making her own decisions.  She was given the trust to fall, knowing she would have to pick herself up again.  She was given the confidence of unconditional love.

She has a free soul; Society resents her.  She refuses to fit in a mold; Baby boomers judge her.  Her heart can be a bit of a kamikaze; Realists laugh at her.  She doesn’t care.  Her mind is as open as her heart and she refuses to let anyone tell her how or what to think.

How do I use experiences like these to teach my girls how to be happy and empower them to make their own decisions?  Read more below:

Part I:   About a Boy

Part III: Guiding our kids to be happy, healthy, and nourished within.

About a Boy: The American Dream

I have one simple wish for when my children grow up; I want their hearts to be free, their souls to be nourished, and their burdens to be few. 

Part I:  About a boy

It was Senior year, he had taken all the classes his parents told him to take and ended up with a very high GPA as well as a partial scholarship.  When asked what college he was going to, he answered with the same college his mother went to.  When asked what he wanted to major in, he answered with the program his dad guided him toward.

He chose finance because, well, money makes the world go ‘round.  His parents assured him he would have no trouble finding a job after college and that his salary would be along the lines of what he had been raised on.  His parents had money, and their spending whether it be on the design of their beautiful home, or extravagant trips, was never a secret.    

He graduated with a Business Degree in Finance and got a job with a local branch of a Wall Street giant.  Less than a year later, when the greed and corruption of floating money hit the fan, he was let go.  He moved to Tampa to follow his fiancé, and has been crunching numbers with the same company for over 10 years.

He eventually married his high school sweetheart, bought a nice house in the suburbs, and had a couple of kids, but he wasn’t happy.  Why wasn’t all of it enough?

It wasn’t enough because he was living someone else’s dream.

He sacrificed his love of art, and his dreams of living in a big city.  He never took his musical talent seriously, even though music is what nourishes his soul.  He liked the attention of exotic girls, and imaged himself dancing with them until the wee hours of the night at an underground nightclub in London.  The image of himself in his heart and in his soul, were unrealistic compared to who he had to be in the eyes of others, so he killed them.

He stopped dancing.  He stopped making art.  He stopped making music.  He hated his job.  He got divorced.  He felt like he sacrificed it all, for what?

His soul was lost in an American Dream he didn’t create.  It’s like a version of the Truman Show where everyone is controlling your life without you realizing it.  One day you wake up, and go “who’s life I this?  Who am I?”

He lives without true freedom, without a happy soul, and with more burdens than he can carry. 

Want to read more?

Read Part II Here

Read Part III Here

How To Answer Questions About Sexuality

“Mom, is being gay cool?”

Heck yeah, and why shouldn’t it be?  The right to love who we want to love and sacrifice it all is a story as old as Adam and Eve.  Aside from Adam, nobody has given up more for love than our beloved gays.  They’ve redefined the word PRIDE and continue to fight.  That’s really fucking cool!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t explain it like that.  I had to explain the dark, ugly side where people still discriminate against those who are different.  I had to explain that our society only embraces what it can understand, but give her hope that the positive changes will continue because of people like her.

The new normal

American culture tells us that normal relationships include a man and a woman with approximately 2 kids, who are 50% likely to get divorced.  The debt and destruction from these types of normal relationships are part of our views of “normal.”  I’ve lived this version of normal, and yet still managed to open myself up to love again.

As a privileged straight female I am free to marry again and again and again and again.  I can have babies, adopt babies, even give up my babies.  I can kiss my husband in public, I can hold his hand and sit on his lap without getting any disgusted looks from people passing by.  I can abuse the privilege of love given to me because I’m straight.

Our gay friends do not have the same privilege.  One friend who has given his life to help those with intellectual disabilities can’t be given the peace his partner brings him when in the hospital.  He’s dying of cancer and spends weeks at a time alone in the hospital without the love of his life.

Another friend and I have had numerous talks about his struggle to come out and his tremulous past.  After ending a 10 year relationship, he talked to me about how difficult it is for a gay man to find love when there is still so much unease in society.  If he gets a mixed signal and flirts with a straight man he could be assaulted.  We’ve talked about Tinder and oversexualization and STD’s, the list goes on.

These men, my friends, are over 50 years old and have lived a life in fear of expressing their God given right to love.

I like to think that the millennials are changing this.  That we are embracing love as love and opening our minds to a world where gender and sexuality are less black and white.

What’s really cool is having an open dialog with our kids when it comes to sexuality.

As a mom, I don’t worry whether my children will be gay.  I worry that they will not be equipped to handle the heaviness of sexuality.  It is my job to make sure they are educated in all aspects of sexuality including their own bodies and choices when it comes to sex.   

From breasts to bodily fluids, I’m the kind of mom who isn’t afraid to talk about sex.  While I don’t make it a point to do it in front of other people’s kids, my daughter asked me a question in front of one of her friends, and when I answered her friend said, “oh my gosh!  My mom never talks about periods.  She says it’s gross and tells me to be quiet.”  It seems, some adults even have trouble talking bout “normal” things.

If our kids can’t turn to their parents for answers, they will turn somewhere else.  Their confusion could lead them to misunderstandings about themselves and about other people.    

Here are 3 ways I approach questions regarding sexuality:

1. Listen

I listen to the stories of people who cross my path.  I share their stories and sometimes make changes to my approach because of their experiences.  I am constantly evolving because I recognize that as long as we have differences, I have more to learn.

I also listen to my daughter’s stories about what happening in their world and help them navigate the rocky waters of adolescents.

My oldest came home from school telling me about a friend, Arianna who cut all his hair off and is now Ari.  I didn’t offer any judgement or assumptions, I simply talked to her about it.  I asked her whether it changed their friendship, she said it didn’t.  We talked about whether his parents were supportive.  They have him in counseling to help his transition.  Finally, we talked about how hard this must be for him and why it’s so important to treat every person with kindness and respect.  When I listen, I don’t judge.

2. Avoid labels

During middle and high school students feel the need to label their sexuality; gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, gender neutral.    I had a 7th grade student who came in to talk to me during lunch to tell me she thought she was asexual.  When I asked why, she said, “because so many of the girls here like boys or are having sex and I don’t want anything to do with that.”  I smiled and told her she’s perfect just the way she is.  She, of course, rolled her eyes, but her teeth showed through her lips as she realized she didn’t need to label herself according to her peers.

Make sure kids know that there is a wide range of maturity at this age.  If they are not having sexual desires, that is definitely okay.  If they are, make sure they know about personal responsibility and the power of their choices.

3. Share many stories of different kinds of love

To a sexually mature adult, it is obvious that loving your best friend is different than the romantic, sexual desire you feel for your husband, but kids don’t always know there are different kinds of love.  As a result, they may think that their love for their best friend means they are gay or bisexual.

One way to make this distinction is to share the story of how you developed feelings for their mom or dad.  Talk about romantic love through the butterflies in the stomach, the tingling feeling you get when you hold hands.  Romantic love can also mean being so nervous you sweat or fantasizing about the other person.

After meeting my friend Sam for coffee, my daughter who was with us, asked if he was gay.  I said yes and she smiled like she already knew.  She asked if he was married and I had to explain to my 8 year old that gay people couldn’t marry in our state.  She was shocked and said, “nobody should be able to tell you who you can love forever.”  Even she knew that love is not a tangible thing to be controlled, but a feeling.  If you tell someone not to love, you will be met with confusion, anger or resentment.

Instead, of telling our kids who they can love, we should teach them how to love.

Talking about sexuality with your kids is not an easy thing to do.  If you are having trouble, seek help.  If your child is really struggling with an issue that is beyond your understanding, get them someone to talk to.  Counseling or online support groups are a great place to start.

How to Co Parent Teens After Divorce

Earlier this month I was asked to write a guest post for StopMedicineAbuse.org, a website that educates parents on the dangers of over the counter medicine abuse as well as important topics regarding teens.  

JUNE 06, 2017 – published on stopmedicineabuse.org

 Co-parenting teens can present some unique challenges. As a parent to three girls soon entering their teens, I worry about whether I will be able to give them all the guidance they need to become self-confident, independent women. For 320 days a year, I try to parent selflessly and place them at the center of my world, while the remaining 44 days a year, they are with their dad whose parenting (and lifestyle) is very different than mine.

My daughters ask me many of the same questions I have to answer as a high school teacher. Students come to me with fear and confusion because their lives are changing so much at the hands of their parents, and they feel like they have no control. I often ask myself how I can create a soft place for them to land when I have no control over what they’re going through outside my classroom.

When my kids, be it my daughters or my students, aren’t with me I want them to have the tools needed to navigate through any situation and still feel a sense of safety and control. Here are some things parents can do to help their teen through divorce:

Read more here: http://stopmedicineabuse.org/blog/details/how-to-co-parent-teens-after-divorce

 

Fathers-day-loss

To My Husband Who Might Be Suffering on Father’s Day

I wonder if Father’s Day is hard for you.  You count your blessings and remain strong for me, but I wonder if you secretly mourn the babies we lost.  I do.

Society tells you to be strong.  They tell you to “man up” and not show your feelings, so you rarely do, but on days like this, I wonder if your insides burn with what never came to be.

Mine do…

I can’t help but imagine how you would look holding your own baby. His or her tiny body in your giant arms.  The look every dad has in his eyes when he stares at a reflection of himself in amazement.  I’m angry that you have been deprived of seeing the miracle of life, a part of you being brought into this world.

I wonder…

Would he have had your beautiful blue eyes, your tall, strong build, your massive calves?  Would he have your amazing athletic talent, and your annoying competitive nature?  Would she have your ability to turn sun kissed skin into a beautiful bronze tan?  Would she have had your smile that immediately makes everyone happy?


It seems the questions never end.  Even after nearly 3 years of marriage and no baby, people still ask the inevitable question, “when are you having a baby?”  Does your mind scream like mine does?  I want to tell them that we wanted a baby, what we went through to try, the losses we suffered and how hard it was to finally give in to God’s plan.

We now know that there are some things in life you just have to let go of, and have faith that this is part of the journey.

When we met, you weren’t sure if you wanted to date a girl with three kids,

                              5 years later, those blue eyes sparkle when you talk about “our” daughters.

dad-life

Your arms hold them tight when they need a hug or lock them down when they try to get away.   They may not have your bronze skin, but they smile just as big as you when you leap over waves together or build sandcastles in the sun.  They may not look like you, but they’re starting to act like you and will carry the lessons you are teaching them throughout life.

On our wedding day you said, “I believe God put me in your path for more than just one reason, I believe it was for 4 reasons.”  We didn’t know then, that we’d struggle so much trying to grow our family, but I always knew you were meant to be a dad.  

I hope today, and everyday, your heart doesn’t hurt for what never was, but rejoices in what is.

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husband sets standard

5 Ways My Husband Sets The Standard For How A Woman Should Be Treated

Sometimes I look at my husband and think, how did I get so lucky?  Other times I want to tear his lips off because his loud, wet, open mouthed chews classify him as a full neanderthal.  

Sometimes, at night I find myself counting his flaws like sheep while I lay awake listening to his deep, guttural snores.  He’s obsessed with the gym, extremely impulsive, loves food, craft beer, sex, cut-off shirts, the beach, and just about anything that takes him away from having to do yard work on the weekends.  

Neither of us are perfect (I’ll get to some of my flaws later), and our relationship began at a time when our flaws were probably most visible.  I had just ended a terrible marriage and he had just stopped dating his on again, off again high school sweetheart. Normally this would be a no fly zone, and we definitely didn’t entertain the idea of anything serious for a while.  

I’m not sure my husband knows how infectious his love is.  I’m certain there were girls before me that fell hard for him, and he didn’t really know why.  I know this because loving other people is just part of his nature, it’s not an act or something he forces himself to do in order to make others happy, he just does.  As time went on, I saw his unconscious love as a son, friend, brother, and eventually as a husband and step dad.

I want to clarify before I continue, that Brent’s love is not completely selfless.  He needs affection and love as much as he gives it… a lot!  I am not, and have never been, the most affectionate person in the world, so I have to make valiant efforts to reciprocate his affection on a regular basis.  Like all flaws, it’s a work in progress and I often find myself jealous of his effortless affection for others.

There is no perfect relationship, Brent and I have serious struggles when it comes to our flaws, but there is one thing we never struggle with, and that’s loving each other.  

Here are 5 ways my husband sets the standard for how a woman should be treated

 

  1. He never points out my flaws

standard for men

 

I think I might be a bad wife because I started this post by pointing out a few of his flaws, but we can’t talk about marriage like it’s always perfect.  He’s flawed, I’m flawed, you’re flawed, we’re all flawed, especially when it comes to relationships.  Blending two lives isn’t supposed to be easy.  

The first few years of our relationship people would ask what my quirks were and he’d say, “nothing, she’s perfect.”  I’d laugh inside my head and think, just wait, buddy.  I’m not always affectionate like him, I worry a lot (which could possibly come across as nagging), and I get annoyed at things like chewing and wearing cut off shirts outside of the gym, but he never points out my flaws.  Instead, after 5 years, he still treats me like I’m flawless.

  • (Me) “My ass is getting big”                           (Him) “No it’s not, it’s perfect.”
  • (Me) “Is my make up in the car?”                (Him) “You don’t need makeup.”
  • (Me) “I feel like the worst mother ever!”  (Him) “You’re the best mom in the world.”

No matter what I say, he comes back with a comment that makes me feel like I’m beautiful.  Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror after a really icky day and think why?  Then, he comes up behind me, puts me in his strong embrace and I suddenly feel like the sexist woman on the planet.

 

2.  He TELLS me he loves me

Some people think that their partner must know how much they love him/her because they married them after all.  This belief is not enough to sustain a healthy marriage.  We change, and our relationships change so much, that we need reminders of love often.  Here are some things Brent does to remind me he loves me everyday:

  • He sends me a text every morning to say I love you and good morning.  Sometimes he adds a little something extra in there 😉
  • He says I love you every time we hang up the phone.
  • He wakes up from a dead sleep and says, “I love you,” and then gets mad when I don’t say it back (okay, maybe that’s a little annoying).
  • He hugs me tight and says things like, “have I told you how much I love you today?”
  • He sings, terribly off key, love songs to me.

 

3.  He SHOWS me that he loves me

I thought constant affection wasn’t important, until I got it.  I’m not talking about the smothering kind.  Usually husbands and wives can’t smother each other because you barely have time to touch each other.  I’m talking about the kind of affection that reminds us why we’re married in the first place.  If there’s no affection, it’s just a roommate sitting next to you on the couch.

When it’s easier to tell someone you love them than show them, try Brent’s approach:

  • He hugs me everyday, as soon as he gets home.
  • He kisses me at least twice a day (more often if I let him, lol).
  • He always wants to sit next to me to hold my hand.
  • He brushes my hair and gives me massages because he knows how much I love it!
  • He chooses me – Affection isn’t always about touching, it can also be showing love in your choices.  Coming home on time (or even early), skipping an invite to spend time together, or choosing not to drink at a party and be the DD are all choices that SHOW your partner you love them.  When you’re married you always have to think about how your partner would feel about your actions.

The best part about all this, is this is who Brent is.  I don’t guilt him into doing these things, he just does.  When you’re shown this kind of love on a regular basis, it makes for a very “healthy” marriage!

4.  He’s a great dad

Brent didn’t just marry me, he became a father to my 3 girls.  It took me a while to introduce them (a year maybe), but when I did they bonded immediately.  I knew this would happen given Brent’s nature and I took so much time because I wanted to wait until we were in a serious, committed relationship.  

Of course, it wasn’t until they met that things truly got serious.  He was a natural dad, playing with them all the time, listening and taking part in all their daily routines.  He rearranged his work schedule to get them ready and take them to school in the mornings.  He was a natural at taking care of them, and making them feel loved.

He’s not their biological father but he sets the standard for what a dad should be.  Here are some things he does that makes me feel loved through his love and care of them:

  • He’s present; he’s not on his phone or working when he’s with us.  
  • He’s home on time to have dinner as a family every night.
  • He asks the kids about their day and listens.  He responds without criticism.
  • He helps with a little homework, especially math.
  • He knows what the kids like (food, movies, etc.) and surprises them often.
  • He has no problem getting the kids ready for school or to go out.
  • He helps with housework (most notably the dishes) so we can cuddle on the couch asap.

 

5.  He’s my biggest fan

Without his encouragement and support, I would be in a miserable job, but instead, when I reached the end of my rope, he gave me the freedom to let go.  

  • He trusted me enough to know the weight of my decision and didn’t parent me with all the possible negative outcomes.
  • He had faith in my new venture and encouraged me to go for it it in spite of our finances.  
  • He believed in me and bought me flowers when I launched.  
  • He never once said, you could fail.  
  • He never once made me feel guilty for my choice.
  • He doesn’t come home and ask what I did all day.  

Like love, trust and faith are also strong points for my husband. I know that as freely as he gives these things to me, I must treat them with extreme care.  If ever, any of those things were violated, he would be broken.  

There may have been some luck that brought Brent into my life, but keeping our marriage healthy has nothing to do with luck; it’s work, it’s compromise, it’s looking past the flaws and appreciating all the qualities that make your partner, and therefore your partnership, unique and amazing.  

I get to spend my forever with this man <3  


What makes your relationship unique?  How does your partner let you know how much he/she loves you?  Share your comments below.


 

read-rap-like-ludacris

Why Every Parent Needs To Rap Like Ludacris With Their Kids

Have you ever heard something you want to listen to over and over again? Ludacris rapping “Llama Llama Red Pajama” just made my night.

When my kids were little I used to rap all. the. time. I didn’t do it because I wanted to be a cool mom (most moms who try to rap to be cool end up being the opposite), I rapped to them because I got so tired of reading the same thing and hearing the same songs over, and over, and over again.

I’m also a little bit gangster

One of my kid’s favorite books was “Pout Pout Fish.” How many times can you say Blub, Blub, Blub, before losing your freakin’ mind? So my girls and I took turns using different accents for all the characters and every time there was a Blub Blub Blub part, they had to change it up. For example, “blub to the blub to the blub, blub, blub.” When he met the pretty lady fish, I always added a few fun slang words in there. That was their favorite part!

Changing up a story anytime it gets boring not only makes the same stories better, it makes time together creative and fun.

When each of my 3 girls were born, I gave them a song; “You are my sunshine”, “This little light of mine,” and Brahms Lullaby. They always begged for me to sing their song before bed and as much as I loved it, as they got older I had to change it up. After they’d ask me to sing it, I’d ask them how they wanted it; country, rap, rock and roll, or opera.

The giggles that came from those nights were unforgettable.

Even as an English teacher, I changed up the classics. I taught rhythm and rhyme using 2Pac’s, “Dear Mama” and turned Homer’s Odyssey into a campfire country song. Music and literature are embedded in my life and I never waste a moment sharing those lyrics with the world.

I had to share Ludacris’ simple retelling of “Llama Llama” because it not only reminded me of those irreplaceable moments with my daughters, but because it can inspire other parents to read, sing, change it up and be silly with your babies every chance you get.

coparenting holidays

How To Co-Parent During The Holidays

If you’ve been through divorce, you remember the day that changed your life forever.  For me, it was Easter.  My husband had made some extremely selfish choices and I was left to protect our girls, 5, 3, and 11 months old who no matter what came my way, managed to keep me going.  

This was me walking to my first Easter celebration alone.  I had 3 babies and a dog as I walked up to greet my entire family who were full of questions I didn’t have the answer to.

That Easter the girls had no idea what their dad and I were going through.  They were so happy to find their Easter baskets and they picked through each egg one-by-one.  They held up their Easter goodies and snuck sweets well before their traditional bunny pancake breakfast.  I made sure to keep their normal traditions and routines alive, while their dad spiraled out of control.

A lot has happened over the last 7 years.  Holidays have come and gone with or without their dad.  He missed his daughter’s first steps, first birthday, first Easter, and continues to choose which life events are worthy of his time.  Through it all, I have been their constant. 

Except this Easter.

  • This Easter he decided that it was on his weekend so I did not get to spend Easter with them.
  • This Easter he decided that the Easter bunny wasn’t coming, even though 2 of 3 kids still believe. 
  • This Easter, the girls didn’t wake up before the sun to scurry find their Easter baskets, instead they were ignored in their room until 11:00
  • This Easter they didn’t get to eat my famous bunny pancakes
  • This Easter he decided church wasn’t important.  

How many more years do they have before they stop believing?  Before they don’t wake us up early and find pure joy in the surprises those baskets hold.  How many more years do we have before they don’t care about bunny pancakes?  When will they stop having faith because of the inconsistencies in their parents?

This Easter, I cried all morning long.  I couldn’t even look at Facebook because all I saw were happy Easter pictures.  All I could think about were my kids ignored in their rooms on a day that is usually filled with so much love and magic.  

I texted Madie to make sure they knew the Easter Bunny didn’t forget about them:  

“Did the Easter bunny come?”

“NO.”

“Well, he came here!”

“He did!”

“Yep!”

“What did he do?”

“Well, I went to do laundry and found a basket in the washer machine!”

“OMG!!”

I called to talk to Makenna and her little face was pouty as she stared at her iPad.  I told her the silly Easter bunny messed up and came to our house instead.  She said she wanted to come home and I told her she’d be home soon and I’d leave everything the bunny brought for her to find when she gets here.  

I underestimate their intelligence since even when we were camping last year, the Easter bunny managed to find our tent, but they went along with it and I sent my Easter love before hanging up and bursting into tears, again.

Why do I always find myself making up for his mistakes?  It’s an easy answer… While it’s not fair to me, it’s what a good parent does.  A good parent is consistent and always makes sure that their kids feel safe and loved. A good parent is selfless when it comes to their child’s needs.

This is not the first, and it is definitely not the last holiday celebration he will ruin.  One year, he returned all of the kid’s Christmas gifts, because he said I was ungrateful.  I went to the store and purchased them again.  

A few months ago he told them to bring a lost tooth home because the tooth fairy didn’t come to his house.   On Halloween, he posted pictures of them in their homemade costumes and said he was getting ready to take them trick-or-treating.  Meanwhile, he had chosen to not see them in over a month.  He doesn’t seem to care about actually spending holidays with them, as long as it can look like he did.

So, why keep them from me this Easter?  It has always been my holiday.  He is not religious, he’s never done Easter bunny duties, he doesn’t find joy in waking them up to spend Easter morning with them.  Another answer I can’t swallow; even after 7 years and all I’ve done to raise our kids with consistency and love, he still uses them to hurt me.

I have learned that the secret to coparenting, is to rise above.  

Easter holds some bad memories for me and this year just adds to it, but I will rise up.  I will celebrate Easter because it’s a day of rebirth.  It was the day my daughters and I rose from the ashes and started a new journey together.  This year, I realized that he isn’t capable of hurting me, because through his actions, I have only become a stronger woman and a better mom.