I was at the Aquarium, Izzie on my hip, one eye on Cole and the other on Evie. Wait – where’s Evie? Oh, there she is! Yes, one eye on Evie. Check. A woman with a toddler caught my eye and exclaimed, “Wow! I’m not even brave enough to bring both my kids to the Aquarium and you’re here with three!”
I never know how to respond to these confessions from other Moms. As a Stay-at-Home-Mom, if I didn’t brave the outside world and leave the house with three kids, I’d never leave. So hiding inside doesn’t seem like much of an option. And sure, some places we go are much more painful than other places. (Yes, I’m looking at you Costco and Trader Joe’s). But a place specifically made for kids? It’s not always fun and it’s basically never easy, but I promise you that if I can do it, so can you.
‘2017 was a tough year in the KoeFoe house. My husband’s uncle passed away from terminal cancer. My husband’s grandma passed away from complications from surgery. And then my Nana….just…..passed away. Wave after wave hit us, but seemed to miss our children, who weren’t close to these family members. Until Nana.
Every Tuesday night, since before our son was born, we had Taco Tuesday’s at Nana’s. We ate, watched Jeopardy, the kids did somersaults, sang into microphones, performed and were given chocolate and ice cream and cookies, oh my! At 93 years old, Nana even “babysat” Evie (with the help of her home health nurse) every Friday for a couple hours. She was a constant fixture in our lives, until one day, she wasn’t.
We knew we had to talk to the kids, but didn’t know quite how. Izzie, at 8 months was too young to know anything was going on. Evie, at 2 years, knew something was up, but certainly couldn’t comprehend. But Cole? Cole, we found, was a wise – albeit brand new – 4 year old. He had questions, and we didn’t always know the answers.
When the end was eminent, I remember sitting with Nana. Tears in my eyes, she told me that crying was okay, that she was going to be fine, that this was God’s plan. I told her, “I know it is….I just don’t know what I’m supposed to tell Cole and Evie.” My pain was so profoundly compacted by the idea that I would also have to manage their loss, that at times it felt suffocating.
Once upon a time, when Lila was a littler girl, she became obsessed with all cold drinks. First it was the condensation on our soft drinks, and then we transitioned to Jamba Juice smoothies. Pretty soon, we introduced our family’s favorite summer sipper- Icees. And slurpees, and freezes. Whatever you wanted to call them, it didn’t much matter. She was in love with the icy cold sweetness, and at about a dollar a piece, they were a cheap and easy treat on a hot day. I have given her far more Icees in her short little life than I would care to admit. Somewhere along the line, the differences between Jamba Juice whole fruit goodness and sugar-filled-crushed-ice got blurred, and she decided Icees/Slurpees were called smoothies, too. It wasn’t something we did intentionally, but my GOODNESS does it make me look like a better mother. Continue reading “Smoothies”→
From an early age, I have always been both a teacher’s pet and an overachiever. I passed all the tests. I got all the awards. I always often came in first. For years, I’ve eagerly been awaiting my own kids’ turn. I told myself that I wouldn’t be pushy, wouldn’t assume my kid would be the best and the brightest, and was determined to let her go her own way. When the first few award ceremonies went by and Lila didn’t get an award, I tried my best to shrug it off. That’s okay! Everyone can’t get an award, or they would be meaningless! I mean, she has her moments, but she is fiery and passionate and smart and funny and AWESOME. Her day will come!
And today, when I opened up her homework folder and saw that slip of fancy copy paper, with the hint of a fancy border showing- well, I just knew. Our Her day had finally come.
“Congratulations! Your child has been selected to receive an award. Please join us for a ceremony on Tuesday, as Lila is recognized for… Alertness.”
Confession: My favorite part of fast food lunch is the part where my kids play in the play area while I relax with a soda and, hopefully, one of my besties.
This is about as close as I get to a vacation day hour.
And as luck would have it, I got to spend some wonderful time doing just this thing today. As I sat down watching all three of my kids playing happily, I thought, this is the life. The Cherry Coke was perfection. The French fries, life changing. And the conversation with my friends – PRICELESS.
Raising a bilingual child is so important these days. Many of our friends are choosing dual immersion schools for Spanish, and some are even sending their kids to school to learn Mandarin. For some, it’s about preparing kids to participate in a global economy. For others, it just happens to be the best program around. In many cases, parents just want children to be able to converse with their families.
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From the time my kids were little little, I had dreams for them. All the usual things – I wanted them to be happy. I wanted them to follow their dreams. I wanted them to be good and decent and kind human beings.
And I wanted them to love reading.
I know how much I’ve gained from falling back in love with books. From the practical – expanding vocabulary, being well-read to engage in conversations with others, having a good and purposeful hobby – to the fantastical. That feeling of getting completely lost in a book, expanding my imagination, exploring new worlds, ideas, feelings. All of it.
I wanted that for my kids.
So for the past four and a half years, I’ve surrounded my kids with books. Story time at the local libraries, reading as many books as we can every night before bed, sitting and reading a book in front of them while they play, teaching them to take a book everywhere, and basically never saying “No” when they ask for a new book. Continue reading “The Magic of Reading with Your Kids”→
It’s easy enough to pretend the Elf on the Shelf is not a thing when your kids are little. Maybe you pass by them in the store, tell your kids those are dolls, and move on with your life. Maybe you have vowed never to take up with that foul creature. Maybe you’re just bitter you aren’t the marketing genius that came up with that thing. Whatever the case may be, you’re probably okay skipping the elf without anyone knowing the difference.
Until someone starts school. And then get ready to hop up on that bandwagon sleigh.
I knew “all the kids” in Lila’s class had elves, and had even successfully fielded some questions about why we didn’t get one at our house. Santa knew Lila was nice enough already without sending an elf to spy on her, and all the elves were visiting other kids this year. She accepted it cheerfully enough and I thought we were out of the woods.
And then we had a friend from school over for a playdate, and they asked to see her elf, and Lila was like, “oh she’s on the roof today.” I was a Hill, “silly Lila, we don’t have an elf,” and she burst into tears, and I found out my daughter sits on a throne of lies (see what I did there?). She felt super left out when the other kids were talking about elves, and so she had told them she had one, too. She’d even told them stories about her elf’s exploits. So when she got busted? Yeah, she had all the feelings.
So we wrote a letter to Santa asking what the hold-up was in the elf department. Lila requested he “find a solution and send an elf to this house by Friday.” (She told me to write that part in a stern voice.) So it looks like I’m heading to Target and trying to find an elaborate backstory as to why her elf took so long to get here.
So for others who might find themselves in a similar situation…we’ve compiled this list of resources to help you. Or not. Because, despite what our kids would have us believe, you are still in charge and you can do what you want to.
So it’s no news to you that I love Chick Fil A. And, since I consider myself a feminist, I was even more eager to support the new Chick Fil A location when I found out it was owned and operated by a woman. And by support the new location, I mean go there alllllll the time (I mean, it is free after all). I go there so much that the staff now recognizes me, even said lady-owner-operator. My daughter calls her by name, and even talks about her outside of the restaurant.
So when she asked me if Ms. K liked working at Chick Fil A, I just HAD to point out that she was the owner. “She owns the whole place, Lila. She’s the boss. The #GirlBoss!” (I mean, I didn’t SAY the hashtag part out loud, but better believe I thought it.)
Last year at Christmastime, I had everything. I had a beautiful Christmas tree, home baked goods, the love of my family and friends…
And an entitled three year old who thought SHE should have everything, too. Everything from the Target toy aisle, anyways.
No matter how I tried, I could NOT convince her to pare down her list. Every catalog that came in the mail, every trip to Target for diapers, even phone calls to the grandparents seemed to unleash her inner Gimme Monster. On one particularly bad, trying-to-make-a-list-for Santa Claus day, this Mama had had enough. Continue reading “Teaching Kids the Spirit of Giving This Holiday Season”→