THIS WEEK IN MOM…Lil kids, BIG MESSES! Oh dear, you only turned your back for a second…

  • When I was 19, I faced a serious episode of depression that I feel lucky to have survived. Occasionally, I'll flip through my old journals and read passages from those dark days. They mostly read as the angsty ramblings of a lost teen, but occasionally, those echoes of my own words seem to haunt and penetrate me. One passage reads:

    "I keep trying to believe that there will be a time in my life when things are better, when the pain will stop. I close my eyes and try to escape to a little house in the mountains somewhere… a relationship with someone crazy enough to understand me and sane enough to function. A little brown-haired daughter with eyes like mine, climbing trees, and picking flowers. A job in the arts that I can actually enjoy, that actually sustains me. I want to find comfort there, in those thoughts, but then the realization hits that it's a dream-- that I'll probably never have that life."

    In the six years that have passed since I scratched out unheard cries for help on

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  • If there's one thing I learned last year it is this: never hesitate taking photos of your loved ones when they are ill, even if they are terminally ill. If they insist that you don't, of course you should honor their wishes. But do not hesitate asking again when it's appropriate. Because when the time is right they may say yes. And it is those photos that you may cherish the most for years to come.

    When I learned that my big brother was terminally ill last summer, I dropped everything to spend as much time as I could with him. Despite having three daughters, two pets and a traveling husband, I managed three trips in the last five months of his life and another shortly after he passed away. During that time I always brought my camera. And I took photos when most people might hesitate.

    It happened to be my big brother who set that example for me. When our dad was ill eight years ago, it was my brother who set up a tripod in the common room of the hospice and took our last family p

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  • Parenting. As mamas we work endlessly, tirelessly, and often thanklessly to do the very best we can for our children. And we don't mind. It comes naturally, driven by love. We don't necessarily expect gratitude from our children. I like to think of parenting as a pay It forward gig. I will give everything I am able to my daughter Sarah, and what I expect in return? Is for her to give everything she is able to her own children someday. That's it.

    But then sometimes? Our children surprise us in delightful ways.

    I turned 40 on New Year's Day. Forty is a big deal, or at least it is for me, and Sarah knew I felt this way about it. So what did she do? She collaborated with my parents, and threw me an absolutely amazing surprise party.

    I had not the slightest inkling this was happening. To say I was surprised is quite an understatement. Sarah gathered together friends from all corners of my life. Women I have been friends with since middle school. Friends from work. Friends from graduat

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  • My son can turn anything into a gun. His fingers. A rubber band. String cheese. Other moms had warned me of this Macgyver-esque phenomenon in young boys, and boy oh boy, it is in full bloom at our house.

    Recently, I tried to give some plastic hangers away and he almost cried because apparently they are his "crossbows." And as you can see below, our broom with attached dustpan doubles as a "rifle."

    My son's rifle.

    As we drive to school he asks me what kind of missiles or bombs I want him to shoot out of his "pumper"(a broken bicycle pump) at the bad guys hiding in the bushes. And my favorite of all?...The educational marble maze bought at the learning store that gets built into a "shooter," as well as colored binoculars to find bad guys to shoot, just not, heaven forbid, an educational marble maze.

    Where does he get it? I've never bought him a gun, a bomb, a crossbow or anything of the ilk. I encourage toe-nail polish and tea parties in a gender open environment at home. Our television v

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  • Grab a flashlight and read under the covers!

    Grab a flashlight and read under the covers!

    When I ask my kids to list some of their favorite moments in the day, "reading stories at bedtime" is always on the list. It's been part of our routine since they were babies, and even as they grow older and can read on their own, they still love that quiet time together where we all get lost in a story.

    Whether it's a bedtime story or you're cuddled up on the couch with your kids on a rainy afternoon, reading with your children is one of the most important activities you can share. In fact, literacy expert Pam Allyn recommends setting aside time during the day to read with your kids. Why? At bedtime, parents can find themselves rushing to finish a story because their minds are racing with thoughts of what they've left to do...work, laundry, prepping for the next day, etc. I know I've been guilty of speed reading bedtime stories.

    If bedtime stories are what you have to work with, you need to make the most if it. Two important aspects of bedtime stories are that you keep it calm and

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