Learning Your Language :: A Letter to My Son

Hey kiddo, I owe you an apology. I wasn’t the mom you needed today; it pains me to know that and breaks my heart to say it. I know it because of how many times I yelled. Because your disappointed face is what I remember most, and I had to search high and low to find you in the aftermath(s). Believe it or not, I feel like I tried… hard.

I feel like I speak your older sister’s language well. Sure, the therapy helped, not to mention she’s older, so I’ve had more practice.  But you, my strong-willed, high-spirited middle child, are much harder to decipher. Some days are better than others, this was not one of our great ones. You have a laundry list of reasons to be out of sorts, but instead of being what you needed, I struck out, swinging for the fence.

You said “Nothing”

I’ve asked different versions of “what’s wrong?” more often than I could count. “Nothing” is the answer I got, 100% of the time. Sometimes, I was inclined to believe you… other times, I knew it wasn’t true. You’re so black & white, and I’m sure you wanted no part of the emotionally heavy conversations I was searching for. My one win of the day was when I convinced you to throw the football with me. We both know I’m a terrible target and my spiral-throwing skills are laughable. But, when you have a ball in your hands, you seem to mellow. Thank goodness it was a success! I didn’t even push you to talk because I was so wrapped up in watching you smile. It was a solid move, but it wasn’t enough to win the day.

I hear Everything

Like the way your breath catches when you’re sad and the low-pitch rumbles that come when you’re frustrated. I see it when you look defeated while I try to hammer in a point for the 157th time. They say the definition of insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result’. Today, your Momma felt insane.

I don’t have a lot of experience in the little boy category, and since you’re my oldest one, I’m always learning. There have been new sights, smells, and experiences since the day you were born. It would be easy to attribute this struggle to navigating those uncharted waters, but it’s bigger and deeper than that. You are amazing, complicated, and completely unique. I’m not trying to be a good boy mom, I want to be a great YOUR MOM. I want to speak your language fluently; understand every sigh, every inflection, every expression on your face.

It’s too soon to know how I’ll be with your younger brother. But I expect that we’ll have a similar, but very different conversation. I guess if I’m being honest when this whole mom-thing started for me, I thought that what worked with your sister would work with you all. It carried me through your infant and toddler years pretty well… consistency I mean. But, you’re all older now and I see now that each of you comes with your own language and very specific set of needs, wants, hopes and dreams. Maybe I fell behind, thinking that momming is a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.  I’m here now though, and I know better. So, to echo the great Maya Angelou, now that I know better, I promise to do better… every single day.

Let Them Play

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***Author’s Note :: these are my feelings. The feelings of a mother trying to protect her children but, at the same time, also trying to advocate for them.***

The verdict – for now.

It came down today that LHSAA (Louisiana High School Athletic Association) will not allow football for the 2020 Fall season until we reach Phase 4.

Honest question – have we EVER been in Phase 4?  

I don’t have the right answer. I will not pretend to know how to flatten the curve or even make it go away. I will not pretend to know how to make everyone happy all the time. I am 100% on board for lowering the numbers and flattening the curve. Believe me, I don’t want to be sick and I don’t want anyone I know to be sick. But when does this stop? LHSAA made the decision to postpone football season. Fine. Until when? If we can’t master wearing a mask, how will we get to phase 4? Will the season be postponed to the Spring? Will we be out of this by then? What about the other sports?

There are seniors waiting for scholarship money. What about the freshman who have waited their entire lives to play for their school? So much is on the line and so much more left to speculate.

It’s too much!

When will our children be able to have some sense of normalcy? We have tried so hard during quarantine to keep things normal, but really, what is normal? Nobody knows anymore. What I do know, though, is that since my oldest has gone back to {socially distant} practice, which is basically just conditioning, she’s been so happy. She has been able to lace up her cleats, touch a ball, laugh with her friends. She doesn’t even care that they meet at 7am, three times a week. It’s good for her mental health. She’s happy, and she’s having so much fun.

Please, to the powers that be … #LETTHEMPLAY
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I Need a “Thank You”


A friend asked on Facebook, “what’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself during the stay at home/pandemic period?”

I’ve learned a lot. There are some projects, regardless of how much time I have, that I will simply never complete. Other projects took 5 minutes, instead of 5 months (of procrastination). However, the most shocking thing I learned about myself is that I need a “thank you.” Not a gift, a card, flowers. Nope. Just “thank you.”

The last four months have been a challenge for pretty much everyone. We’ve been challenged beyond our wildest imagination and so many persevered.

But what happens when there are no “thanks”? What happens when you bust your tail keeping everything afloat and no one even notices?

It sucks.

As a small business owner and operator, I was left to my own devices in a time of need. Sure, there were podcasts and zoom calls offered, but I was trying to run a business, alone. And I did. I kept all of my employees employed. I kept the lights on, the business running, the communication flowing. Did anyone even notice?

I issued bonuses to my employees for working when times got tough. Did anyone even notice?

I worked 24 hours a day to keep up with policy changes, which required research all hours of the night. I’ve filled out 18 (to date) unemployment claims, some for employees simply refusing to work. Did anyone even notice?

My entire daily routine was adjusted to become mom, teacher, entertainer for my 8-year-old son WHILE doing all of the above. Did anyone even notice? Side-note: I don’t believe entertaining my son is necessary, but the circumstances this go-round required a bit of adaptation.

Then it hit me. A “thank you” and I would have felt some worth.

The thing about being your own boss is your annual review is based on company performance, not necessarily your own. The “numbers” during this period show failure, but my survival proves a success.

I hope we remember the people that stepped up during this time. The businesses that put it all on the line. The bosses that went to bat for their employees. The parents that adjusted their lives to cater to the new needs of their children.

It’s so simple. A thank you. But when it goes unsaid, it’s a lot more.

Splash Into Summer, Safely

Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s and Children’s Hospital and written by Dr. Blaine Lavergne. 

Splash Into Summer, Safely

An ounce of precaution can help you keep the focus on fun while enjoying the water this summer.

“It happened so fast.”

This constant refrain in the Emergency Room seems to surface more often during the summer months, when children are more active and enjoying the water. It’s a pretty accurate statement when referring to most accidents, especially drowning or injuries around a swimming area. Everything seems to be fine one second, then the next, tragedy.

Maybe the child was swimming and laughing one minute, then under water the next. Perhaps the child was showing off the next greatest dive to shame all other dives, but slips on the wet concrete next to the pool. Or, it could be someone misjudged the length of the rope swing, how shallow the water was beneath it or the limb where it was attached.

Drowning is a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which also notes drowning is second only to birth defects as the most common cause of death for children ages 1 to 4.

For every child who does not survive, an estimated five more are brought to an Emergency Room for treatment of nonfatal submersion injuries, notes CDC.gov. Still, that doesn’t account for broken bones, sprains, strains, lacerations and other injuries that occur on the wet, slippery surfaces next to the swimming area.

Fun should never be replaced by fear. Yet, fun should come with a certain level of caution to ensure it’s safe.

  • Ensure everyone in the water knows how to float or possesses some basic knowledge of swimming. Enroll your children in swimming lessons early in life, and repeat the lessons at least once to ensure what they learned sticks.
  • Have at least one person on hand who knows proper and up-to-date cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Life jackets and other floatation devices, especially for smaller children, are a must, even for a dip in shallow kiddie pool.
  • Have a pool? Enclose it in a fence that completely separates it from the house. Be sure gates are self-closing and self-latching, to prevent adventurous little ones from getting into the pool area without an adult present.
  • Watch everyone. Often a person who is drowning does not appear to be in distress. Drowning happens quickly and quietly. Many times the parents or other supervising adults are present and turn their eyes or attention away for a brief moment. Do your best to focus on those in the water, not on a card game, cell phone, book or tablet.
  • No running or walking fast on wet surfaces, whether next to a swimming area or elsewhere. Be vigilant while visiting a splash pad. Slips that result in a broken bone, sprain, strain or other injury can happen when you least expect it.
  • Inspect the swimming area before enjoying the water. Make sure there are no unseen hazards beneath the surface. Also, avoid diving if the swimming area is shallow.
  • Slides and other water toys are great fun. Give them a quick inspection before the festivities begin to be sure all connections are secure and there are no damaged or sharp edges jutting out that could cause injury.

Many of us have fond memories of being a kid and enjoying the water during the summer, whether it was a beach vacation, tubing down a lazy stream or swimming in a backyard pool. With a little effort, we can ensure our children, too, have those wonderful memories for years to come.

 Dr. Blaine Lavergne is Medical Director for the Emergency Department at Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital. Learn more at LourdesRMC.com.

Fussing My Way to Fitness

I have been on a health and wellness journey for the last two years. I write fairly often about it because it has become such a huge part of my life now. I totally neglected myself for 8 years of my marriage, and prioritized getting my husband through medical school and residence, and carrying, birthing, and caring for our four small children. Returning to a season of self-care has been amazingly healing for my body and soul, and I am blessed to have a husband and family who support me on this journey.

With the dawn of quarantine, I found myself leaning to more quarantine treats and less green leafy veggies. So starting Week 2, I began tracking my food with My Fitness Pal. It made it easy to see if I had room for ice cream or a vodka freezie pop, or if I needed an extra bike ride at the end of the day to work those off.

But it made me question how many calories I was actually burning throughout the day and especially during workouts. So for Mother’s Day, I asked for a FitBit, and my fam delivered. It’s such an easy app to use, and the device is super convenient.

However, one thing I did not expect was FitBit giving me more than just a reflection of physical fitness, but also my emotional health.

Y’all… Fitbit consistently logs fussing as active minutes.

Umm what?

Yep. My heart rate elevates and I typically enter the “Fat Burn” zone while fussing at my children… and it was happening way more than I would have liked for it to happen.

I see you FitBit.

So, I upped my deep breaths and really used that data as a red flag that something needs to change. And I’m not really gonna change my kids, right? It starts with me and how I react to them. So, I’m working on cooling down, so I can respond (not react) calmly and effectively to their needs.

So thanks FitBit, you are making me a better Mom.

I Know the Years Pass Quickly

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Someone asked me the other day how things were going…

Simple question, complex answer.

Some things are going really well. We were fortunate to get accepted into summer camp so my son’s life could return to some normalcy. In return, so could mine and my husband’s.

My business is ok. We’ve somewhat rebounded from COVID-19 shutdown, but we’ve got a ways to go.

Oh, and we’re opening another business. No explanation here – we’re just crazy.

As I mention a few of the above responses, because no one really has time to listen these days, I hear the same thing often “the years pass quickly.”

What if I told you I know that already? What if I told you regardless of how quickly or slowly time passes, I’m still tired?

I feel like anytime a parent makes a statement, especially right now, in regards to being tired or staying at home, there’s a quick response on how quickly time passes. As if we should grin and bear it; suck it up and be happy.

Regardless of how fast the years pass, I’m ready for normal. No, not “new normal.” Just, ya know, normal. No, I didn’t enjoy three months of being home with my child. I enjoy my child, but I enjoy working, too. I love spending time with my son, but not at the expense of both of our sanity.

“You’re going to miss these days.”

True, I also miss when he was missing his front teeth because those photo ops were my favorite. But I love watching him grow up, too. After all, we can’t stay toothless forever.

When a friend needs a break, feels overwhelmed, or simply wants to resume normal activity, let’s pause for a second and respond with some support and positivity. After all, we all have a calendar.

“Gremlins” and Parenting Lessons it Taught Me

I know.  You’re likely thinking that I’m crazy, but bear with me and I’ll explain.  I need to share a lighthearted post with ya’ll.

For those of us that were children of the eighties, we were likely exposed to the movie, The Gremlins, at some point in our childhood, whether it was in a theatre or later on VHS. For me, it was 1984 and likely late summer. I was a seven-year-old that had been BEGGING my poor mama to take me to see the movie. I mean, c’mon, Gizmo was SO cute! Anyhoo . . . My sister was five and my brother was newly four. My dad was working, but I remember us going to the theater to meet my mom’s sister and our cousins for an evening show. Looking back, I’m thinking “What was mom thinking taking a bunch of kids to a 7 pm show!” but hey – the 80’s, right? And now I know that sometimes a mama just has to Get. Out. Of. The. House!  Little did my seven-year-old self know that my mama was preparing me for motherhood.

Enter the Mogwai

This cute little furry Mogwai is purchased by Billy’s dad from a shopkeeper’s grandson in Chinatown. There were 3 rules to keeping a Mogwai as a pet:

  1. Keep them away from light, especially sunlight
  2. Keep them away from water
  3. Never, ever, under any circumstances feed them after midnight

Fast forward 30 years to my 37-year-old self that had just become a mother to not one, but two babies. Twins run deep in my family and I hit the jackpot. My new mama worry was in hyperdrive.

Gremlin Lesson Number 1 – Keep them away from light

My son was born with a cataract in one eye and was very sensitive to sunlight. Our doctor told us to put sunglasses on him if we were in the car for long rides or outside because the light would cause the cataract to change and grow quicker. Ok, we’ve got this. Sunglasses for both kids, lots of sunscreen, in the shade when we can be. We’ve absolutely got this.

Gremlin Lesson Number 2 – Keep them away from water

So our kids LOVED the water. Loved baths, the swimming pool, all of that. So much so that once they started toddling, we were nervous that they would run TO water. Again, we were really vigilant with keeping them safe around lakes, ponds, and pools that we visited. And bathing suits coupled with super precious sunglasses – SO CUTE.

Gremlin Lesson Number 3 – No food after midnight

Now all of us mamas know that you gotta feed the babes and early on they eat around the clock. This lesson applies to stages that follow that. I can remember one night when my daughter got off of her schedule and woke up during the night. Nothing would comfort her but milk, so we fed her, and then the next 3 hours were pure hell. (Did you know that Mogwai means “devil” in Cantonese?)  She cried she screamed, she wailed, fits where she gasped for air because she was crying so hard. We tried everything to calm her down. Finally, after an after-midnight run to the pharmacy to buy every gas and colic medicine we could find, we found something that settled her poor tummy. Our best guess was that her tummy was upset to start with and the feeding just made everything way worse.

There was a bonus lesson that I learned from that family movie adventure – kids will say the darnedest things at the most inopportune times. For those of you that have seen the movie, one of the final scenes is when Spike heads over to the Montgomery Ward after the theatre fire and he runs into the fountain in hopes of spawning new gremlins, my little brother yelled out in our crowded theater “Mommy! Look at all da boobies!” as Spike’s flesh bubbled up to form his spawn. My mother clasped her hand over his mouth, but it was too late. The theater erupted into laughter. I think that was my first memory of being embarrassed and looking back, I’m glad it happened. My sister and I learned a lot that night and we often laugh about how our kids could have been extras in that movie.

Knowing that this was written in jest, what event from your childhood helped to “prepare” you for motherhood? What embarrassing things have your kids done in public?  I look forward to reading your responses in the comments.  Let’s spread some smiles.

A Podcast for the Road! : 7 Family Friendly Podcasts for Your Road Trip

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I am a podcast fanatic.

I’m on the road a good bit for work, and between podcasts and audiobooks, I have kept myself well entertained.

Whenever the request is posed, “I need a podcast recommendation for our upcoming family road trip!” I am the first to respond.

When I chime in, the response is usually “Yeah…so….I was looking for something less murdery….the kids will be listening.” #truecrimefanforlife

Right.

I began to notice how many of my podcast subscriptions are true crime or politics…and it is a little unsettling. I have begun to diversify my subscriptions to add a little light to my life and entertainment for my boys in these crazy times.

Here are some of the awesome family-friendly podcasts that have been in our rotation as of late!

Dolly Parton’s America

Dolly Parton’s America is produced by WNYC studios and hosted by Jad Abumrad of Radiolab. Let me say this first. Dolly Parton is a legend. Dolly Parton is a musical genius. Dolly Parton is revolutionary.

I always knew that Dolly Parton was a wonderful philanthropist because of The Imagination Library. But, what I didn’t know about Dolly Parton could fill the Superdome. I started this podcast skeptically, but now I’m flat out obsessed with Dolly Parton. This podcast will likely be more interesting for older children, high school ages, and adults. The language is PG, the subject matter is thought-provoking and cutting edge, AND it is still appropriate for little ears. And, there are several remixes and remakes of Dolly classics on this podcast.

Reading Bug Adventures

The Reading Bug is a family-owned bookstore in San Carlos, CA. They also produce an adorable kids podcast! The stories follow The Reading Bug on vivid adventures with both suggestions for drawing and coloring activities and book recommendations from The Reading Bug’s magic book bag. This is a favorite of my soon to be 6 years old and a great way to ensure peace and quiet on your next road trip!

Hidden Brain

Hidden Brain is an NPR production, hosted by Shankar Vedantam. I could just say his name over and over. Hidden Brain explores the psychological and sociological sources for why we do what we do and think what we think. I really enjoyed the episode on memory from December, “Did That Really Happen? How Our Memories Betray Us”. This podcast will be most interesting for older children, high school ages, and adults. The language is always PG, though some episodes are more risque than others.

Radiolab for Kids

Radiolab is podcast royalty. As amazingly interesting as Radiolab episodes are, they aren’t always family-friendly content. Radiolab for kids is a collection of fascinating Radiolab episodes that are guaranteed to pique the curiosity of any aged kid and adult. They are appropriate for even the littlest of ears. Our favorite episode so far is the most recent episode titled “Octomom” about an octopus with an incredible will!

Story Pirates

Story Pirates is based on story ideas and songs brought forth by children. Each podcast has an activity guide to keep the creativity flowing-some are free and some are included in a modest membership free. In addition, each podcast ends with a “story spark” to get little ones invested in the stories and encouraged to create their own. And, if listening to spoken word isn’t your little one’s thing, you can download the transcript and they can read for themselves. The stories are fun and engaging. This is a definite hit for all ages.

The Dream

The Dream currently has 2 seasons out. The first season focuses on multi-level marketing schemes and the second on the Wellness Industrial Complex. So, is this interesting to children? Probably not. But, the subject matter is not offensive to little ears and they use little to no curse words. That’s family-friendly in my book, plus the subject matter is fascinating! It really prompts you to take a long look at what you consume and pledge your allegiance to. Super interesting!

In the Dark

I know, I know. I said no murder. The majority of the podcast is not what I would call family-friendly. But, they recently put out a series of 6 episodes specifically on the impact of the Coronavirus in the Mississippi Delta. And, I know what you’re thinking-“Why in the world would I and my children listen to something about the Coronavirus for fun?” But, I am serious when I tell you that these stories will make you laugh, cry, get enraged, and smile all in the same episode. These provide a fascinating look into the handling of the virus on many different fronts. And, I feel, provide a simple call to action for us all that even a child can understand!


The beauty of the podcast world is that there are new podcasts coming out all the time.

What are you and your family listening to?

Leave them in the comments!

I Thought I Loved You…

No one told me that your heart grows, not only for your child but also for your partner.

Marrying you was a dream. We still had so much to grow within ourselves and together but that time was golden. We had freedom we didn’t even understand until after we had children. I loved you more every day, my sweet husband. We worked to travel and own our own home. We strived in our careers and in our relationship. I thought I loved you…

Years later we were pregnant with our first child, and as I blossomed with our daughter, you were even more motivated to make our home a castle for your queen and princess. You worked hard in building her room and preparing our lives for her arrival. You rubbed my feet and told me I was beautiful even though I felt like a whale and went to bed at 7 p.m. some nights. We prepared for the birth I desired and took every course we could and we both read all of the books. I felt so seen and supported. I thought I loved you…

As the second week past our due date passed us, I felt concerned and ready to deliver without an induction. We prayed together for our baby to come on her own time. You walked with me every evening and kept the A/C cranked down while you slept under a mountain of blankets. And finally, while you slept, she began her entrance earthside. I should’ve rested, but I was so excited she was finally coming. I bathed and packed, put on makeup, and prepared myself mentally, and finally woke you and called our doula. You drove us carefully to the hospital for delivery in the morning and we labored all day. I thought I loved you…

The labor was typical for a first-time-mom. It was long and hard work but we did it together. You never left my side and even shooed people away to keep my space sacred. You fervently prayed with me and push on my lower back through our contractions. You did everything right and I thought I loved you.

Then she was born and your eyes welled up and I was in my moment of empowerment from birthing her as I desired. I felt that overwhelming, new love they tell you about when you meet your child for the first time, but what I didn’t expect is this new and overwhelming love for you, my husband. No one told me that your heart grows, not only for your child but also for your partner. I felt more intertwined with you in that moment than I ever knew I could feel. 

I thought I loved you before children, but that love matured and exponentially grew in that single moment and I am beyond grateful and overwhelmed. 

5 Lunch Ideas to Beat Summer Burn Out

We’re a little over halfway through the longest summer break ever, and we have finally fallen into a groove here. I usually have a schedule of playdates, camps, and events that fill our summer days with so much fun while still staying a little lazy. This year I feel so off since “Surprise! Summer is starting early!” Many of our normal activities are closed and play dates are very limited. I’m tempted to just throw in the towel and just do whatever, except that gets boring and then we get cranky over here. 

One thing that has really helped is making lunch an actual meal. Normally we just fend for ourselves with sandwiches, Lunchables or leftovers from dinner the night before, which is fine when summer is only 8 or 9 weeks. Going on day number 43, (897 it feels like) and the fend for yourself is getting old. So I made a list for myself to choose from relaxed, easy lunches. Meals that are good for them, not too expensive and quick to pull together. Here is our go-to list of our favorite summer lunches.  

Quesadillas

Cheese, chicken, and tortillas with a little salsa make for a quick and easy lunch that your kids can even help with. At the beginning of the week, I take a few chicken breasts, boil in water till done, let cool and then shred them for later use. You can season it now if you like or wait till you make your meal.  Sandwich the chicken and cheese in between the tortilla shells and pan fry for a lunch made in minutes.  

Roll-ups 

Using your favorite deli meat roll it up with a slice of your favorite cheese. Slice into one-inch portions and secure with a toothpick or pretzel stick! Serve it with a side of fresh fruit and a handful of chips for a well-rounded meal that works for tiny fingers. 

Chicken on a stick 

Just as the name suggests! Place several pieces of chicken on a stick and bake in the oven. I suggest serving it with a barbecue dipping sauce that your child should love. Short on time? Take a few frozen chicken nuggets or frozen meatballs and cut them in half for the skewer. Everything is better on a stick, right? 

Dress up peanut butter 

Don’t do boring old PB&J. Step it up a notch with honey, almond butter & banana sandwiches. Spread two slices of bread with almond butter or peanut butter. Drizzle honey over the butter and add a layer of banana slices. Cover with the other slice of bread, butter side down.

Mini Pizzas

This is super easy for the toddler set that wants to be independent. It can get messy, but it’s also yummy. Top English muffin halves with jarred marinara sauce. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on top. Small pepperoni slices are optional. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. 

Do you have any quick lunch favorites to share? I always am on the lookout for more! 

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