Life · Parenting · Relationships

He held my hand

I had a very difficult funeral to attend to this last weekend. I haven’t had anything extremely difficult like this happen since my divorce. While I don’t believe I “need” a man in my life, not having a support system at a time like that, isn’t something I’d thought about until I was sitting there listening to and crying about the amazing person that left this world.

My ex husband and I both knew this person and his family well so we agreed to drive the girls and I to the service to show solidarity to the family that the remembrance of this person was bigger than any bs my ex and I have gone through and that we can be bigger people around each other and for each other when it counts.

I was sitting in between my daughters with my mom on the left and my ex on the right.

Well during an emotionally charged song that was playing, through my plethora of tears, I reached out and took my mom’s hand on my left, and with a gusto of courage, I took my ex’s hand in the other hoping he didn’t retreat.

He didn’t.

He clasped my hand and squeezed back.

About 10 minutes later, I moved my hand to get another kleenex. After I wiped my eyes, he reached out for my hand again for the rest of the service.

After we got back home, I hugged him and said thanks for the support and we went on our way.

It’s times like these that are so important to remember that we were once there for each other in sickness and in health. While the “til death do us part” portion didn’t pan out, we still spent more than a decade supporting each other and doing what we could to be each other’s rocks.

In doing so we also showed our girls that, just like when we were married, we may fight but we still take care of one another. There have been some really rough times between us as we’ve learned this divorced/two-house route, but we’re figuring it out one day at a time and that’s what matters.

There was something extremely comforting that in times like those we could still count on each other to be the other’s rock. We have more support around us than we think and often times in some of the last places we’d think to find it. Sometimes we just need to be the first one to put it out there.

Parenting

On the road again…Top 5 must haves for a road trip with kids.

These are all of my favorite things that have helped me with my kiddos in the car and helped create our best road trips that I would happily and easily do again!

A pouch with their souvenir money inside –  I picked up zipper pouches  and  placed souvenir money inside to give to them ahead of time as a reminder for behaving well. I give one reminder warning, but every whine or fight after the warning, and they owe me a dollar from their pouch. This has worked so well in the past I’ve actually not heard a peep from them for over 2 hours before and then over the top complimentary comments back and forth just to seal the deal they keep their trip money.

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A binder for each child from the dollar store – I also picked up soft cover binders from the dollar store. I placed inside sheets I print out easily found on google. The license plate game, car bingo, mad libs, mazes, dot to dots … are all great additions. I have a laminator I like to use to keep the papers from tearing. The papers are put inside laminating pouches, which the girls can use sharpies on them (which won’t come off) or dry erase marker if we wish to save and reuse the sheets for the trip back. If you don’t have a laminator, pocket sheet protectors work great or even a strip of tape down the side and punch holes in the tape for the 3-ring binder loops. All options will prevent the sheets from tearing out of the binder before the trip is over and reduce tears or grumpy attitudes.

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A map of your route with clearly labeled states – This helps kids as young as 4 or 5 be able to see where you are in your route and how much further you have to go. Plus it gives a little fun education to which states you’ve visited and a visual of the state or country depending on how far you’re traveling. It also provides a great souvenir for when it’s time for them to tell their school or friends about their trip and where they visited. This is another great idea to laminate or place in a sheet protector and put in the binder so they know exactly where to find it.

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Small magnetic car games – These are always fun to have on the road! Our favorite mini magnetic travel car games are hangman, snakes and ladders and tic tac toe but there are so many more options as well. They keep interacting fun and eyes off the screens for a bit while the magnets ensure you don’t lose as many pieces. You do want to be careful with young children possibly putting small pieces in their mouths.

Something with a timer – I have my kids set a timer on their ipad or watch (or you could use a inexpensive kitchen timer, as well). This stops the kids from asking me “how much longer?!” every 5 minutes since they can see the countdown themselves whenever they feel like checking it. Just don’t forget to pause it for stops!

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Bonus tip…

Plastic bags – Too often my kids enjoy handing me every tiny little piece of paper or wrapper (while I’m trying to drive!). To prevent so many distractions, I like to place a grocery bag between the armrests so that the kids can take care of their own trash. Especially with all the little tiny snack wrappers and straw wrappers that accumulate during a long trip in the car. Once it’s full, just throw out at your next stop and replace with a new one from the glove box.

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Our last 2 car trips have been so successful with such low amounts of whining, I actually chose to give my girls 2 minute segments for whining a few times as rewards and stress relievers. We all agree these are ideas we’ll use every time we travel! Enjoy and safe travels!

Parenting · Saving Money · Summer

Keeping Busy in Summer

“We’re bored! There’s nothing to do.”

One of my most useful and successful tools I’ve made for the summer is a list of possible options of what we can do and how much they cost.

Too often my kids find themselves wandering towards screens because they don’t know what else there is and screens are easy to fall back on. This is why we made a list of ideas to help us.

We try to pick something off the list quite often. Typically every day unless we’re already super busy with something special.

Being that I have my girls every day, I found it was getting too expensive to just have them pick whatever adventure they wanted all the time, and whole I like to them about budgeting, I like to refrain from complaining about money too often.

Creating our list into categories gives them a better understanding of what type of activity we’re looking to do.

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I might say “you can pick from the whole list today” or “we just did something from the purple column. Let’s go for a blue today please.”

They’re just as happy with this because everything in the blue column is spending time together and sure to be a great time.

This list also gives me a reminder of everything we’ve looked up to try in past summers, and what’s locally available to us. This way I’m not starting from scratch each summer with ideas to stay busy.

Life · Parenting · Saving Money · Summer

Summer Rain

So my girls and I have a summer rule to do something active every day. We had decided to go on a bike ride as our Wednesday activity only to walk to the window and see the downpour.

The sound of rainfall is one of the most soothing sounds to me so we opened the garage door and sat watching the rain. All of the sudden I stood up and walked out in it and the girls shrill laughter made my day.

I turned around, smiled and said “let’s go!” and we were off. Running the sidewalks, jumping in every puddle, splashing water as high as we could. When the rain stopped, we sat down in puddles and continued splashing around until we couldn’t take the laughter anymore.

IMG_3111.JPGThere’s too much time in the day that’s  necessary to adult and be serious and plan. When I take a spontaneous moment to be a child and be silly, we always end up creating some of our most favorite memories together AND this is a free activity that only requires some warm, dry clothes after.

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If you haven’t already, get out there in the warm summer rain and show your kids, or even remind yourself, you still have a carefree, silly side.

Bonus: if you happen to have cool neighbors, maybe they’ll grab a hose and join in like ours did only extending the party.

Parenting · Saving Money · Summer

Book club for kids

My 7 year old has been part of a book club this summer thanks to a friends suggestion. (Thanks Heydie!) She and a few friends read half a book each week and then we all get together to discuss what they read and how they felt about it.

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We go to the library together and pick out a book that they all think looks interesting. The girls (this would be great for boys too) read a portion of the book and then we get together for them to discuss it.

They answer questions together like:

Who are the characters?

What is the setting?

What is the main idea of chapter 1, 2, 3…?

What do you predict will be the ending?

What was your favorite part?

It’s been so much fun and such a great addition to our summer. It creates a fun way for her to make sure she gets her reading in, while also working on her reading comprehension during the summer months.

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We jazz it up with tea parties, snacks or lunch, and playtime afterwards, which makes the girls even more excited to participate.

I thought this was such a good idea and so enjoyed by all of us that I would share this creative and cute idea with you.

Life

Amor Fati

Sometimes we have the best, most unimaginable phases in our lives that we can’t truly put into words what they mean to us. It’s our own personal utopias that scare us to the core they could end. That’s how you know what something means to you, think about losing it.

Then there are the phases we can’t explain for different reasons. The ones that feel like we just hit a wall, and we can’t take anymore, yet the hits just keep on coming anyway. However, we just need to live them and ride through. We don’t know what’s waiting at the end of the trip.

Now I don’t like to wish away time (my girls are only little for so long) so I try to deal with the lows with a grain of salt until they’re over, and I try to take each moment for what it is. A learning experience.

Everything is meant to teach us something about ourselves or the people in our lives. Our experiences help us to grow into the people we’re supposed to become.  Most things, after a lot of discovery, are all part of a plan to build new strengths in us and push us to new levels we had no idea were possible. Almost every negative thing that has happened has the possibility to bring something new and wonderful we had no idea even existed. We just have to remain open to new possibilities and keep ourselves from being closed off.

This is why I can’t truly be unhappy with any part of my life, and I try not to have regrets. We wouldn’t be who we are without every single moment. Get hurt, get out there anyway. Get burned, trust again. Lose someone, love anyway. When we choose to become bitter and close in on ourselves, we miss all the beauty that there is out there to explore.

Everything happens for a reason so Amor Fati, “Love your Fate” and enjoy the ride and where it takes you.

Fitness · Life · Relationships

Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.