Connecting with My Kids Is Worth Every Minute I am Disconnected from My Phone

Hey, hey, hey! Last week I was on vacation with the fam. It was the first family vacation we’ve taken that no one had a public meltdown! We didn’t even argue. We had a few kid attitudes and grumpiness, but I was totally impressed by my kids use of manners in all the public places.

We spent time at museums, aquariums and shopping in crowded candle shops (with lots of breakable things), we hiked and played outside and discovered we all love the hot tub. My kids not only handled it all, but they seemed to actually enjoy it. There were no complaints of being bored, or begging to go home? Color me shocked!

I never go into a family vacation with the illusion I will get time to relax. After all, parents are never off the clock. If your kids are picky eaters at home, they will be picky eaters on vacation. If your kids have melt downs at home, they will meltdown on vacation. When you are a parent, there is no real vacation, just a change of location. However, this time, I actually felt relaxed. Another shock!

This wasn’t our first family vacation together. We’ve had many colossal vacation fails over the years. So, what was so different about this trip? Was it the extra sleep? Was it less whining? Did my kids suddenly mature since our last vacation? Was it less time on my cell phone? BINGO!

It turns out, it is totally possible to unplug when you are on vacation. Before kids and cell phones my husband and I never made a single phone call, or checked an email while on vacation. We didn’t have the technology attached directly to our hip and it was cumbersome to locate the business center tucked away in a remote area of the hotel or resort, we never bothered to find it. Who has time for that?

This vacation, I decided to live like it was 1990 something. Well, sort of. I limited my social media check-ins and text message replies to early morning before the kids were up and again after the kids went to bed. I locked my cell phone away in the safe, or my purse during the day while we traveled. And surprise, surprise I didn’t miss a thing! Just like in the 90s, if there were any kind of emergency, my friends or family would have left messages for me and awaited my return call.

Besides my limited screen attachment, this was the first family vacation where my husband wasn’t bombarded by several text messages every hour asking him to put out a fire hundreds of miles away. Before cell phones people knew you were on vacation and had no way to reach you. Today, those boundaries are nonexistent with a 24 hour connection.

I noticed our family was feeling more cozy and connected. My husband and I weren’t agitated by other people’s demands and taking it out on each other. I never realized before how having a stressful interaction online or via text message made us less patient with our kids and each other. Toward the end of the week I witnessed how our connection to technology affects family life.

When we woke up to a rainy day we cancelled all our travel plans and planned to hang around the pool instead. The pool was empty except for ourselves and we took full advantage by cranking up our volume and jumping into the pool. After an hour, another family entered. Both parents remained on deck, while they sent their preteen son into the water alone. No judgement here, I don’t know their full story. Maybe it was their first day off in a while and they needed some down time for themselves too. But what I saw next really broke my heart.

One parent opened up their lap top and pulled out the cell phone and had one eye on each, splitting their attention between two screens. That left little time for their kid bobbing around the pool. The other parent laid back on a chaise lounge and pulled their screen to their face and never looked up. Here’s where my heart break came in.

As my heart warmed watching my husband willingly embarrass himself playing Marco Polo with my kids excitedly running and splashing through the pool, my heart broke watching this kid all by himself looking at us and back at his parents and back at us again. I know we don’t have to be our kids only source of entertainment, but the look on this kids face made it clear he felt like he was alone in the pool. He lasted all of 20 minutes in the water before asking his parents to leave. They willingly obliged and packed up.

In that moment I realized just how much our own addiction to being attached and busy affects our kids. I am not comparing my story to theirs, or my family to their family, but watching their child’s experience definitely made me reassess my own digital dependence. Not being connected to a virtual world made it easier to connect to the world right in front of me. And the benefits of my family feeling more balanced and connected was worth every minute I didn’t have a screen in my hand.

The Mom Gear You Didn’t Know You Need!

The Whatever Mom pre-sale logo travel tumbler and V-neck t-shirt.

My fondness and love for Rosie the Riveter began with one simple poster I hung on my wall in college. I hung that poster by my door, so it was the first thing I’d see before leaving, and the first thing I’d see upon arriving. The words, “Yes, We Can!” were written across top, her arm flexing with sleeves rolled up just below. She was ready to believe in me and now, so was I!

I have carried some form of that poster with me for over twenty years to remind myself that no matter how hard things get yes, I can do this. So, when I became a twin mom overcome by fear, confusion and exhaustion, I carried that image on my cellphone and would look at it on my hard days.

It only made sense to me while designing a logo that I incorporate Rosie’s inspiration from my life. She is one-part Rosie the Riveter, one-part me. Ultimately this little logo represents me cheering on every mom. Sloppy bun – check! A tasty cup of motivation – check! And the attitude that yes, we can do whatever it takes to get through the day with our crazy little human tornadoes – check!

Thing is, after I had the logo in hand and slapped it on every social media platform I own, it kind of sat there. Waiting for bigger things. Well that day has come. I am launching some exclusive The Whatever Mom gear this week and showcasing my logo! You can get all the details and pricing options here —-> https://forms.gle/RgmwijA4cLj28NHc7

I selected a sleek 30 oz insulated tumbler to keep your coffee warm no matter where you leave it and a wash and go V-neck t-shirt to kick off my selection of mom gear. It’s all about the lifestyle. I hope to create additional fun and useful pieces to add to my shop very soon. Right now both of these items are in *pre-sale* which means once I reach a minimum quantity of orders my friend Kelly at Olive & Elm Crafts can begin production! This sale will shape all future swag found in my shop, so no pressure! 🙂

My oath to you is that I will not promote anything that I do not use or want for myself. I ordered the tumbler and t-shirt for myself to test out how it fits into hectic mom life. My kind of hectic may not look the same as yours, but at the very least, owning one of my logo pieces will be like having a little Whatever Mom alongside you through the day reminding you that YES, YOU CAN do whatever the day demands from you.

To treat yourself to something JUST FOR YOU, click this link to grab your order form. This pre-sale closes on November 1st 11:59 p.m. EST. When minimums are met and forms complete, invoices will be sent between November 1st and November 4th, 2019. Invoices must be paid in full by November 6th 11:59 p.m. EST. (If for some reason the minimums are not met any paid invoices will be refunded and you will be notified accordingly).

I am deeply grateful and incredibly excited to show off our solidarity and connect our mutual mom philosophy – just do whatever works for YOU!

5 Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Last week I shared in my newsletter how hard it is for me to keep up when I get sick. Life gets a little derailed and the timeline of our week is tossed around like a jumbled pile of fall leaves. In my house I am the keeper of all of the details and manage everyone’s schedule. So when I need to take time out for myself to heal up and rest, things come to a halt. I can delegate tasks from my bed, but that’s not really restful now is it? My husband gets sick and stays in his room without a peep. If I get sick it’s a million questions about where things go and what foods can everyone eat for snacks.

So my plan is to just not get sick, ever. Maybe that plan is not entirely realistic, but I can do my best to keep colds and viruses from taking over. And when I do get sick, I can give myself permission to rest when I need to.

Top 5 things you need to do to stay healthy this flu season:

1. Wash your hands! Teach kids to wash their hands when ever you return to the house. As soon as they come home from school, a birthday party, or just shopping, everyone must wash their hands. 

2. Remove your shoes! Think about where your shoes go in a day. At some point you are walking through a public bathroom and not everyone is an “expert marksman” if you know what I mean. Bacteria or viruses that stay on the floor travel home with you. Take your shoes off and leave them at the front door. 

3. Change your clothes! Kids are gross. They never look before they sit and don’t seem to mind wiping things on their clothes. Put their school outfit right in the wash in exchange for a clean outfit. It might make extra laundry each week, but worth it when that laundry isn’t due to a 2:00 a.m. vomit session. I also change my clothes when I’ve been in a doctors office or emergent care.

4. Toss the lunchbox left overs! I know, it isn’t a frugal idea to toss the leftovers from the lunch you lovingly packed for your child. But most cafeterias do not have circulating air, so when the kid next to your kid sneezes at the table it’s most likely to land in their lunch. If the food isn’t sealed, it gets tossed.

5. Disinfect the lunch box! Get a small spray bottle of peroxide at the dollar store. Use it to spray the inside of your kids lunch bag and then wipe it clean before putting it away. You can also run your child’s soft lunch box through the washer set on the gentle cycle once or twice per month.

I work from home so I am not exposed to all the germs my kids are. They are like little germ mules carrying bugs through the borders of our home. I can’t escape colds entirely and I get that we need to get sick now and then. But, most of the time moms do not have time to spare to heal from sickness. So by making sure my family and I are following healthy habits it helps block the amount of germs we bring into our house.

Parenting in Survival Mode

My husband traveled every week for the entire month of September and it sucked. It felt like he was home for a day or two with just enough time to unpack before repacking and leaving again. That left me to manage my kids, the house, the chores, the lunch packing, my blog and gave me zero time to take care of myself. Let me tell you, working from home isn’t easy when you’ve got last nights dinner dishes calling you from across the house. And of course it doesn’t feel like I’m winning mom of the year when I forget to pack an extra snack for my daughter’s long bus ride home. Ooops!

Chaos coordinator reporting for duty! When I am left alone to hold down the fort, I go completely into survival mode. Every parent knows survival mode. It’s what gets us through those lengthy stretches of teething and middle of the night vomit. There is nothing glamorous about survival mode.

For the first three years (or four – it’s kind of a blur) after my twins were born, I lived in survival mode. I mostly remember my husband working 17-19 hours per day while I was home alone with two infants and not a single extra helping hand. I cried a lot because I was so exhausted and in constant management mode. I actually made an appointment with a neurologist because I was convinced the exhaustion and dizziness were signs something bigger was wrong. She simply looked at me and said, you’re perfectly fine. You just need more help. And that’s when I realized perfection cannot exist in survival mode. I was trying too hard to make every piece of the puzzle fit perfectly and it was only hurting me in the end. Those early years really taught me how to live life with the bare minimum and that even the hardest days will pass. 

Thankfully, my husband doesn’t travel often and today he only works around 9 hours a day, but there are times those survival skills come in handy! It’s what gets us through a rough week, kid sickness or when things go a little off kilter. It’s good to have those skills, but survival isn’t a place you want to live in for too long. Believe me, there isn’t much joy in it.

I know there are plenty of you out there doing this gig solo every day. Whether you are divorced, widowed or maybe your spouse travels routinely for work. No matter what the reason, carrying the parenting load all alone is incredibly exhausting. My hat goes off to you! I’m sure you are familiar with survival mode, but I hope you are finding the support you need!

It has been a chaotic month for sure. It is also amazing how quickly I can slide right into trading perfection for whatever works. If I slow down and focus on each moment as it comes and not think too far ahead (and extend myself a little grace), I find it easier to survive when the wheels fall off the track.

How are you surviving this week?

Tips if your spouse travels for work:

If you know your spouse is traveling, prepare as much as you can ahead of time. Start by writing a simple menu for the week so you aren’t caught off guard at dinner time.

Use paper plates to eliminate the big clean up.

Line up the help you need – a cleaning lady at the end of the week, or a baby sitter during the week so you can run errands or grocery shop kid free. Order your groceries online and pick up at the store to save time.

Being out numbered by picky eaters and time, I try to keep dinner super simple. I will sometimes call a DIY sandwich night and round everyone up for a picnic on the living room floor, or I might put out a picky platter like this and let everyone chose what they want.

Use your calendar and sticky notes to keep you on task. I try to look at my calendar each night and make a list for the next day of the most important things I need to accomplish (lunches, phone calls, emails, etc). I write my list on a sticky note and I leave the note on my kitchen counter to review again in the morning.

Lower your expectations. Do not expect to fit everything into one day, or make all the ends meet. Your perfect plan will be destroyed by kids with a stomach bug, or a sudden school event you forgot about. Just keep things basic and aim for survival until help returns.

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Pirate Ringo’s Salsa Review – Arrrr me tasty!

Photo Credit: Pirate Ringo’s Salsa

Pirates are kind of a thing at our house. We speak in pirate often, well because it’s just fun. We have pirate jokes, enjoy pirate trivia and now we have a pirate salsa!

My friends at Pirate Ringo’s Salsa sent me a jar of their Original salsa to sample. Being the salsa junkie that I am I obliged me mateys (see…no end of pirate puns here!). This blend of medium heat spices and chilis has a good smoky slow burn to it. I tested it on a tortilla chip. It goes down easy before it releases the heat. I reluctantly shared my jar with my husband who lives for spicy food. In fact, there was a time he and a group of co-workers instituted the Iron-Stomach award for their weekly dinner outings. Whoever could finish the spiciest meal on the menu and walk away won bragging rights. This salsa isn’t that level of spicy, so even a light weight like me can handle it. The flavors shine through before the chili’s demand your attention.

As a self-proclaimed salsa junkie, I will eat salsa on a box, in my socks, over here, over there or anywhere. I top my nachos with it, my salads with it, add it to my scrambled eggs, top my baked potatoes with it and toss it into various recipes when I need some good flavor. After tasting this take on Tex-Mex, I knew what I had to do… I had to make a big crock pot full of my award-winning Lazy Tex Chili. If you are a chili lover pressed for time, this recipe is for you! It’s called Lazy for a reason. I literally dump everything into the crock pot and let it simmer for hours. I never touch it again.

But before I share my recipe with you, I have bigger news to share! Pirate Ringo’s is giving my readers an exclusive 20% discount to try their salsa! A jar or two of these salsas will make a great gift for the foodie in your life, that hard to buy for friend, or share for a unique hostess gift this holiday season. Chili is the perfect fall food, so you want to stock up on a few of these fiery tasty treasures to add to your favorite chili. Go to the website and pick a salsa to try and when you add it to the cart enter code WHATEVER20 (This code is only good through 10/2/19 so hurry!).

 * * Now for the recipe * *

This is the first time I am sharing my award-winning recipe for Lazy Tex Chili. I’m not kidding that it is award winning! A group of my friends held a chili contest and we sampled around a dozen different chili recipes among ourselves. Mine won first place! And, much to my husband’s chagrin, my lazy recipe won out over the chili he spent two days sweating over. Nothing says legit chili maker like a tiny plastic gold star trophy proudly displayed in the kitchen. At the time I created this recipe my twins were still toddlers, so I didn’t have a lot of time to stand around in a kitchen cooking with two kids hanging off my back pockets. This recipe was born out of my love for chili and having zero time to invest in making it. Grab a screen shot below!

If you want more simple recipes sign up to receive my newsletter! I send it out only two times a month and I make it short and sweet because we are all busy people! You’ll also get exclusive first looks on giveaways, discount codes, freebies and other fun stuff before it goes live on my blog and social media!

Moms, We’re All Running the Same Race

Last week I shared in my weekly newsletter that I was joining a 5K to support a local charity. Well I did it! I drove an hour to walk 3.26 miles in 47 minutes before I drove back home. It was a great morning adventure that gave me time inside my own head to ponder life. I have to say once those endorphins kicked in, it was pretty hard to feel stressed.

The funny thing is, I did zero training for this. I think I walked almost 3 miles like a month ago when I went live from the trail, but really, I had no idea what to expect. I simply slapped on my walking shoes, grabbed a bottle of water and took off when they said start.  I have to say I am really proud that this middle aged mom bod got me through. I have friends that spend months preparing for a 5K race and I literally just showed up and my body did not fail me. Woot! So much for having to count calories and macros. Clearly a steady diet of kid leftovers and bubbly cocktails is all you need to get through race day!

I woke up so early and just jumped on the road before I even had a drop of coffee. I am glad I just made it to the right event. But here is what came to me during my walk (because I certainly wasn’t going to do any running): We’re all running (or walking) the same race. OK, motherhood isn’t an actual race. No one is getting to the finish line in record speed. And certainly no one is getting a big shiny trophy. But we are all running toward the same goal – raising healthy human beings.

A sunny start to my first 5K!

I spent the entire race walking behind a woman pushing her teenage daughter with different abilities, in a push chair. She had two other team mates along side of her keeping her pace. Here’s what I found so incredible about her, she never stopped. Not once. Not even when it got tough getting up the hill. She didn’t break her pace either. Her partners slowed down to walk briskly by her side, but she didn’t stop. We were “running” the same race but having two different experiences. Much like motherhood.

While motherhood itself isn’t a race there are times when we feel outpaced by other moms whose journey’s seem more graceful than ours. Or maybe we are the mom ahead of someone else on the track and can look behind us with wisdom about the trail she is about to take. 

Even though I was not there to compete, it was hard NOT to compare my race to all the other experienced racers. They seemed so prepared. But I kept reminding myself it’s OK to stay in my own lane and keep going at my own pace. I’m not running this race for anyone else except myself. And that’s all I can do as a mom too- keep a steady pace in my own lane and not compare our journeys. 

So moms (and dads) keep running your own race. No one is built for it better than you! Even if you don’t have any training, haven’t slept in years, or you’re living solely on tears and cracker crumbs trust that you are right where you are meant to be – raising those dirty, sticky little humans. (Sorry that’s standard issue for everyone in this race).

Seconds before I hit the finish line and closed the book on my first 5K!

After committing to a race I had no intention of winning and spending zero time training for it, things turned out pretty good. It just reinforced how far I’ve come in letting go of making things perfect. I wasn’t there to make perfect time. I was there to enjoy the journey along with other like minded people. (Much like my time with you!).

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Why I Like to Spend Time Alone

I took a walk all by myself today, literally over the river and through woods. It was glorious!

I rarely get time to myself, but this week my husband is on vacation. It means I am on vacation too.   I know, I know “but he works!” Well, so do I. I work from home as a freelance writer while making sandwiches and packing two kids for a day at the beach. He works only one job at a time, albeit stressful he isn’t managing meltdowns while trying to look professional to a client. We both deserve a break. But while he is working 70 hours a week, I am covering all the childcare needs while simultaneously running a business. I’m not kidding when I say, if I go down no one knows how to the food gets in the house or when the toilets get cleaned. It’s all courtesy of moi!

I walked 1.28 miles one way without pushing a stroller or with any kids hanging on me!

Today, I chose to visit one of my favorite walking trails because it is quiet and has such beautiful views of the Hudson River. I’ve only ever walked this trail with my kids, so it felt strange not pushing a stroller or pulling a heavy wagon full of screaming kids. I made pretty good time walking nearly three miles. I had my favorite music pushing me on and no one to talk too. The silence was golden.  

No answering questions about sea creatures.

No organizing lunches.

No packing up a swim bag.

No blowing up pool toys.

No slathering sunscreen and carrying an armful of towels to the pool.

It was a glorious start to my vacation!

This is the first break for myself I’ve had all summer. My kids and I have been tethered since their last day of school. It’s OK, I love them. But as a work from home/stay at home mom the daily tasks of motherhood can become the weekly grind. It’s almost cliché to call my job as a mom exhausting. Everyone knows how tired we are because we can’t stop telling everyone we are tired.

View from 212 feet in the air walking over a converted train bridge.

Taking a walk while you’re that kind of exhausted sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s exactly what I needed! To roam freely, unattached to a to-do list, or locked into mealtime demands. Listening to my own thoughts without interruptions helps me declutter things that are bugging me. Do I really need to hold on to that friend if she clearly let me go? How about cleaning out some of this guilt about letting my kids eat so many hot dogs? Being alone allows me to regroup a little and feel lighter. It’s like therapy.

Are you someone that likes to be alone in your head? Or do you enjoy escaping from the mom demands with friends? Leave me a comment below, or feel free to join the conversation on Facebook! 😊

Roxanne Ferber is a freelance writer and owner of The Whatever Mom blog. Nearly nine years on the coffee wagon and she still doesn’t have enough energy to keep up with her twins. But she is a survivor and she’s gonna make it; even if she has to white knuckle it through each day until her kids graduate. Follow her on FacebookTwitter or Insta.

JORD Wood Watch Review and Giveaway!

I have partnered with JORD Wood Watches to provide this review. All my thoughts about this Cassia are uniquely my own.

wood watch with clock face
Cassia walnut and rose gold watch from JORD Wood Watches.

Lately I feel like I have become complacent with my no-frills wardrobe and accessories. I wear pretty much the same thing every day because it’s easy.  That has been the extent of my fashion choices for nearly a decade because that’s what works as a busy mom to young kids. Now that my kids are older and can do more for themselves, I have time to put effort into what I wear.

This summer, I am committed to purchasing sustainable, quality pieces that will last a long time. Whatever I buy must be something I love and leave no lasting trace in our environment. When Jord watches invited me to partner with them to showcase their wood watches, I dug a little deeper to learn more. The biggest draw to Jord wood watches is their sustainability

Jord watches (pronounced YODE) are made from reclaimed materials and yet so glamorous. I selected the Cassia watch made from walnut wood and rose gold for its classic features and gorgeous color combo. Rose gold is very popular right now and I am smitten with its mild tone against the warm dark color of the walnut. According to Jord’s website, the wood used in their watches is naturally sourced and supplied largely from reclaimed pieces. There is no use of toxic chemicals to treat or maintain the wood. So, after decades of use and care this watch will still be here, and in its end of life the elements can be recycled.

After wearing my stunning new watch for two weeks I’ve discovered:

This gorgeous watch is a nice departure from the fitness tracker I typically wear. It’s a great way to zhush up my outfit while running errands in public, or when I’m sitting alone at the local café to get some work done.  Plus, it doesn’t buzz at me if I am sitting at my desk for too long or tether me to a digital device (my phone) to operate.

The size and profile of the watch fits into my mom life of chauffeuring kids, doing dishes, running errands, and tossing in a load of laundry. I don’t need to feel stylish during these moments, but it is nice that the watch fits seamlessly into my busy task list-oriented lifestyle.

I truly love how unique this watch is and that it creates conversations about my eco-friendly values. Taking care of my family and the earth doesn’t mean I have to give up on quality. A hand crafted, sustainably sourced watch is a great first step in designing my new classic go to style.

The price range for these gorgeous watches is $100-$300. I recognize this can be above a family budget and it is a splurge for moms to spend that much on themselves. I totally get it! It is rare that I personally buy something for myself. It is more likely that my family will treat me to something this sophisticated. But I only share products I use myself so I can give my authentic review. After wearing my Cassia for two weeks I can tell you this watch is an investment in sustainable luxury that you can wear in good conscience for years to come.

When I find a product I love, I want to make sure my readers can get in on the love too. I am grateful to Jord for giving away a CHANCE TO WIN $100 off a purchase of any watch in their collection! And, since you are all winners in my book, Jord is also giving every entrant a 10% gift code. Now there’s really no excuse not to treat yourself to something just for you! CLICK HERE FOR YOUR EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT!

#ad #modern #unique #jordwatches #thewhatevermom1

Roxanne Ferber is a freelance writer and owner of The Whatever Mom blog. Nearly nine years on the coffee wagon and she still doesn’t have enough energy to keep up with her twins. But she is a survivor and she’s gonna make it; even if she has to white knuckle it through every day until her kids graduate. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Insta.

A Cynic’s View of Valentine’s Day – Celebrating Love and Grief

Valentine’s day seems to bring out two kinds of people. The ones who love everything about the holiday and the ones who hate everything about it. I used to be one of the folks that hated it. I thought it was some dumb made up holiday created to dupe people from their dollars with useless trinkets and overpriced flowers. Gift giving is easy but loving someone every day is the hard part. A total cynic, even after I found love with the man that is now my husband.

We were dating only a few weeks before Valentine’s day, so I gave my new love a card and a funny pair of joke boxers out of obligation. I was clearly in the no frills, less is more camp. Only after arriving at his apartment for a home cooked meal, a surprise dozen roses, some chocolates, gold jewelry and a sappy card did I realize he was in the other camp. And that made for some very awkward dinner conversation.

A lot has changed since our first Hallmark holiday. For our second Valentine’s day, we celebrated the birth of my nephew. Our third Valentine’s day we celebrated my niece’s victory over childhood cancer and on our fifth Valentine’s Day we attended my father’s funeral. Valentine’s day has not always been all roses and chocolates for us. We’ve watched friends marry and divorce on Valentine’s day, and we’ve watched atrocities of mass shootings unfold on Valentine’s day. This Hallmark occasion has become a mixed bag of emotions for me. I’m always torn between throwing love around like confetti or sobbing in a closet. In between all the gifts and romance, funerals and cancer diagnosis’ we’ve learned that we need this one day on the calendar to remind us to slow down and check-in with those around us. I am always thankful for that extra reminder.

Today marks our 19th Valentine’s Day and again it is a day of celegrieving
(Note to self: coin the term “celegrieving”). We lost four amazing people in the last month. Grieving on Valentine’s day isn’t new to us, but it does put a crimp in our celebratory mood. Yet in a way it doesn’t. (There’s that mixed bag of emotions. You just don’t know which one I’m going to pull out). We don’t need flowers, or grand gestures to celebrate our family and friends. We are grateful for the memories we have with our Uncle Mike, our friends Michael, Jennifer and Erica. They are among the reasons we rejoice. We celebrate them and the wonderful gifts they’ve given us. Each of them taught us something, showed us kindness in every day gestures and made us laugh. Oh, how I will miss hearing their laughter. And their smiles when we talked. The run-ins at Walmart. And our shared stories with funny inside jokes. This holiday wasn’t invented with grievers in mind, and it isn’t my fault that my grief comes with a side of glittery wrapped dark chocolates. I guess grieving on the high holy day of chocolate has this one small benefit.

Despite my sadness this morning I decorated our kitchen with red and white crepe paper and scattered chocolate kisses all over the breakfast table. I surprised my girls with some special gifts, and I wrote love notes in everyone’s card. No, my husband’s presents and impressive dinners over the years have not converted me to the commercialism of Valentine’s day. But living in a world where it is easy to become so busy that we lose track of time and each other has changed our view of what this day means for us. All the materialism celebrated on this day will fade, but the lasting memories we forge together will get us through the low points, like when we can’t make sense of death. Even if this holiday is just another day on the calendar, I can still gift my family with joy over the cynical harshness of life. And what I’ve learned from the last 19 Valentine holidays is that every second we are alive is worth celebrating. Also, if you buy your brand-new boyfriend a pair of goofy boxers for your first Valentine’s day, when you get married, you can coast along on those low standards for another two decades.

Roxanne is the head writer, creative force and marketing guru at The Whatever Mom. She started this crazy blog before her babies grew into smarty pants little people leaving messes all over her house. Eight years on the coffee wagon and still folding nine million pairs of socks. But she is a survivor and she’s gonna make it. Even if it means white knuckling through every morning until her kids’ graduation.     Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

You Need Monster Jam this Weekend

I received complimentary tickets in exchange for this post. All opinions are mine.

It’s that time of year again! I am taking my family back to Monster Jam to enjoy some indoor arena fun and to get us out of the cold.

After our meet and greet with the drivers and getting some pics and autographs we will settle into our seats for a couple hours of adrenaline pumping, family friendly entertainment. These drivers take their jobs as role models seriously so there’s never any aggression, smack talk, or unfriendly words spoken between them. Just fun, friendly competition with lots of support for the game.

The audience gets to vote on who wins, which my kids love! They get to participate in judging each stunt. Of course we each have our favorite drivers to cheer for, but we are really here for the crazy truck flips and tricks.

If you are in the Albany area this weekend, get yourself to a show! Plan to have a day in with the family and enjoy falling in love with Monster Jam. You won’t regret it

Find your tickets at the Times Union Center.