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.

coparenting

The Greatest Lesson In Co-Parenting

There is no secret to co parenting. Some people may have a great relationship with their ex, and make it look easy. Others may never get along and the kid’s suffer. I am somewhere in between. I’ve been separated from my ex since April 2010. The catalyst may have been his 8 month affair, but the separation triggered a year and a half of hospitalizations that left me alone to care for our girls.

Now, he claims to be in a good place. He’s married to a women with 3 kids, all of whom were involved in his wedding. Our girls were not invited. When his kids come to visit they sleep on a pull out sofa and an air mattress in a living room they converted into a media/guest room. They fall asleep to pictures of their dad’s memorabilia, mainly special edition horror DVD’s.

It could be worse that’s for sure, but for 40 days a year, that’s their life. They sit far away from friends and social life. Far away from their bedrooms decorated by and for them. Far away from their home with 2 loving parents who help with homework, volunteer at their school, pack nutritious lunches, make them go to bed at a reasonable hour and tuck them in every night with cuddles and love, and maybe even a booty shake out the door.

I can’t protect them when they aren’t with me. That is the hardest part about co parenting. 

Give them confidence when they question his love

The only thing I can do is to try to make them strong and happy the 324 days a year they are with me. When they are exposed to one of his episodes, I do damage control. I say things like,

Your dad loves you, he just shows you love in a different way that we do.
Your dad doesn’t always make the best choices, but he always loves you.
Your dad doesn’t get to see you a lot so he probably doesn’t know ______.

Encourage them to share their feelings

My girls aren’t actually themselves when they talk to their dad.  With me, they have no problem expressing themselves, but with him, they act the way they think he wants them to act.  I encourage them to share their feelings because I can’t always fight their battles. Depending on his mood, I’m either a controlling bitch or great mom who they girls are lucky to have. Of course, what he thinks of me doesn’t matter, my priority is making sure the girls feel safe and loved.

Remember it’s not about you

I have spent the last 7 years protecting our children from his inconsistent, selfish behavior. I have shown them happiness when everything was literally falling apart around us. Some days have been hard, and I wish he would fall completely out of their lives for good, but then I remember, it’s not about me.

I can only hope that after my daughter’s experiences with their dad, they will not feel unworthy of his love, or rejected and damaged. Instead, I hope they will learn the true lesson of unconditional love.

To My Husband on our 2nd Anniversary

My husband and I got married two years ago. He was the cute guy standing across the restaurant and I was the girl on the rebound after a 12 year relationship. Mutual friends introduced us and after nearly a year, we started dating exclusively. There are a lot of missing pieces that I look forward to writing about soon, but today I just wanted to introduce my husband with this video.

The Domestic Struggle is Real

 

Have you ever had a week where you feel like your flaws consume you?  I’ve been so down on myself this week and while I think it’s hormone related, I can’t seem to pull myself out of it.  I feel unmotivated and avoid everything from taking the dogs out to complex things fixing my daughter’s bed so she can actually sleep in it.  I’m being hard on myself for the condition of my house right now, instead of getting up and cleaning it.  I have only been to the gym once this week and my skin feels awful.  I haven’t wanted to shave, put makeup on, and avoid mirrors.  I feel physically and emotionally blah!

My schedule is out of whack.  For the last two weeks I’ve been trying to get my mom and kids to come with me in the evening and somehow convinced myself I didn’t have to go in the morning.  Also, since all of my laundry was dirty, I had further reason to skip the gym.  I even told myself, wash them today and go to the gym tonight, and then didn’t even take the time to swap the wet stuff.  In fact, I had to wash it twice before swapping it to the dryer days later.  It will probably stink when I do wear it to the gym… If I ever go back.

I feel like I clean constantly and my house always looks like shit.  I can’t count how many times I’ve cleaned up dog pee and poop this week.  I think there’s still some under the coffee table because every once in awhile I smell it.  Of course, it could be on the pile of laundry that still hasn’t gotten done.  Eight loads this week, and after camping there are at least eight more to go.  I clean my kid’s room constantly.  So much so, I don’t even clean my own room, but I did this week.  On Monday, the kids had off school so I made them clean their rooms while I cleaned mine.  I got about halfway through my room due to all the interruptions.  The result in the kid’s rooms, a broken bed and a pile of garbage, clothes, and toys I pulled out from underneath.  The eight loads of laundry I did were mostly theirs, but they haven’t bothered to put them away.  Probably doesn’t help that the broken bed is now propped against their closet door.  How does their room get so messy, so fast?  I seem to be donating or throwing away shit every couple weeks.  

Homework has been an afterthought this week and I’m not sure why.  My older two are getting better at doing it themselves, but my youngest probably hasn’t read for a month – so much for my English teacher roots.  Kaitlyn is developing the typical teenage “I hate everything” attitude.  At night I hope it’s nothing more and pray that my kids are happy.  Madie and Brent got into it last night and I always seem to be in the middle.  They’re best buds most of the time, but by 8pm I have 4 very tired and cranky individuals in my house.  All a mama wants is peace at that hour.  They all fall asleep around 9:00 I’m alone again with my guilt.

I try to give myself the freedom to not feel guilt about EVERYTHING.

  • The house is always a mess – You have 3 kids and 3 animals, of course it is!
  • You can never seem to complete a job – Nobody with all these responsibilities could.
  • You didn’t eat well this week – So what? Eat better next week.
  • You didn’t go to the gym enough – Double up next week.
  • You look like hell – Shave and go put make-up on.

But my surroundings are still the same.  I have piles of laundry waiting to be folded while another week’s worth lies in the bathroom floor.  My kids still have a broken bed and my dogs still haven’t been walked.  I have a garage sale tomorrow and the last thing I want to do, is enter that garage and prepare for that!  

But I will…

         I always do.  

Now, it’s your turn.  Comment below and tell me about your struggles.  What you do to get yourself out of a funk?  Why are some weeks worse than others?

There Goes My Baby

My youngest daughter, got on a bike at 5.  After a couple pushes, she coasted off into the sunset, only to fall seconds later.  She insisted we put the training wheels back on and for years we let her hobble along.

Fast forward two years (and many camping trips later), Santa brought a brand new bike for our growing girl.  Last weekend, during our annual Valentine’s Day camping trip she got tired of watching her sisters ride off without her and begged us to help her.  The road was rocky but she was persistent.  On her second try, I told her to look at the road ahead and it will help her stay balanced.  Off she went!

As I watched her ride off down the windy road, I got teary.  There goes my baby…  From walking to running and swimming to riding her bike, the milestones keep ticking away like the hands of a clock.  I can’t seem to stop time although I’ve done my best to delay it.  I hope the lesson I taught her, to focus on the road ahead, no matter the bumps in the road, will continue to guide her, even when I’m not holding on to the back of her seat.

Do I really have to let go?

Mom, Why Is The First Lady Naked?

After googling Melania Trump, my daughter ran to me with questions I didn’t want to answer.  Nude photos, some with her and another woman led to all kinds of questions about our values and femininity.  I’ve raised my daughter to feel like she can come to me with questions regarding sexuality but often times, I find myself stumbling to find the right words.  My flawed response and deeper thought on the issue may help other parents navigate these questions.

“How can our First Lady have pictures like that?  Didn’t they check online before they voted?”  Hmmmmm, I have to figure out a way to remind my daughter that not all public figures are role models and respond as unbiased as possible (even though I share her shock).  I want her to have female role models whose most powerful weapon is their mind, not their bodies.  “Once something is online, it can’t be unseen.  Even if it’s deleted by the user it’s most likely been shared, retweeted, etc.  I’m not sure whether she is proud of those pictures or whether she regrets them but you and I know that being famous for your mind is way better than being famous for your body.  Stick to googling your favorite role models, like J.K. Rowling.”

“Ohhhhh!  I looooove her!  That’s so embarrassing though!”  I mean people from other countries can see our First Lady naked!” “MMhmm.”  That’s all I got.

“So, is she like, a lesbian?”  

“No, she’s married to Donald Trump.”  

“Well then why is she kissing a woman in the pictures?”  

Clearly she has not been introduced to porn, thank God! My internal struggle:  Men like lesbian porn but  I can’t say men like lesbian porn to my 12 year old! She might think she needs to do things against her beliefs just to attract men.  I could say she might have been an actress and being a lesbian was her role. – START AGAIN –  “Well, maybe she acted in a movie where she was a lesbian or posed as one at a modeling shoot.  In real life, you know that being a lesbian isn’t something people do to be sexy or cool, it’s who they are and it’s about love.”

“Uh huh, but why did she need to be naked?”

“Probably because that was part of the role she was paid for.”  

Uh, isn’t that called prostitution?”

Great, now I’ve somehow made my daughter believe that our First Lady was a prostitute.  I can’t tell her that women sell themselves out all the time for the pleasure of men. A $12 billion dollar porn industry proves that, and since I have no idea what Melania’s motives were, I’ve got to lessen the impact of her naked photos by putting her celebrity into perspective.   “No, prostitution is having sex with other people for money.  I’m not sure why she chose to show her body.  Celebrities sometimes do things that aren’t acceptable in real life.”

“If a girl at my school did that nobody would care why, she’d just be called a slut.”  

There’s that word.  The word that fills young girls with fear because it comes at the cost of their reputation.  The word that elicits confusion because she’s not yet comfortable with her sexuality and can’t determine what actions make her a slut. Is it okay to like a boy at her age?  Hold hands with a boy without others assuming that she’s having sex with him?  Kiss a boy without him expecting it to go further?  So she does nothing and eventually ends up being labeled prude, or one of today’s favorite “insults”, a lesbian, making her question her sexuality even more.  Back to sending a picture, “It’s NEVER okay for a young girl, or anyone else for that matter, to post or send a naked picture of her.  That’s child pornography.  After college, if you want to become a nude model, let’s talk again.”

“WHAT?!?!  I don’t want to become a nude model!  I’m never showing my body to anyone.”  Yes!  I raised a strong, independent girl!  Wait, is she ashamed of her body?  She just got boobs and her curves are starting to fill in.  Has she been harassed or embarrassed because of these changes? I want her to have the confidence to be proud of her naked body but the values not to show it to just anyone.  “Trusting someone with your body is a HUGE deal.  You should be proud of your body but I’m glad you’re taking responsibility to protect it.  I think one day you’ll show it to your husband.”

“Ew, Mom. Gross!  And I would NEVER marry someone like Donald Trump?”  

“Why?”  

“Um, he treats women like poop and only cares about their body, and business.  He probably only married her because she posed naked.”

“Do you think that’s why men marry girls?”

“No, I think it’s why men like Donald Trump marry girls.  I’m going to marry someone who’s as smart as me… and makes me laugh… and is home at night to brush my hair…”

One of the hardest things about parenting a tween is the complex balance between preserving innocence and preparing her for reality.  It’s even more complex when reality contains social diseases that she will most likely experience but are not acceptable.  I hope that she never feels pressure to show off her body, or pressure to hide her body.  I hope she always knows that her mind is more valuable than her body, and that she never has to sacrifice her beliefs because they don’t fit into the traditional mold of a woman.  

My job as a parent is not to pass on my belief that another human being is lesser because of their choices, but to make sure that my children understand that self respect and integrity are not only values that are important to our family, but to being a woman.