Life with Coco and Gigi... and Jack-Jack too!

Life as a Mom, A Homesteader, A Blogger and A Wife.

Parenting in a world of tragedy


One of the biggest challenges I face as a mother in 2016 is the level of chaos and terror that I cannot protect my children from. When the kids see a news story of a devastating earthquake, tornado or hurricane I can say with a fair amount of confidence, "don't worry kids, we live in New Jersey and these things just don't happen here."It's possible but when I tell them this it is the reality. What do I tell them when people blow up buildings full of innocent people are shoot entire night clubs full of people doing absolutely nothing wrong. 


It is a challenge we all face collectively. We can't shield them from it because they are going to hear on the bus or the playground. In a class full of 20 kids you better believe that half have already heard it. So, how do you explain these atrocities to an eight year old? I don't have a solid answer to this question so I have a few guiding principles. 1. Only answer what they ask. 2. Be honest and direct, shielding them from the truth will bite you in the end. 3. Allow them to be scared and upset and help them understand that although the world is scary it is our job to live our lives every single day. 

I'd like to think it was easier to parent 50 years ago when war was something a million miles away. I'd like to think that in the past kids were better off not being bombarded with stories of death and hate. Unfortunately that doesn't help the moms and dads of today. It's our jobs to ban together and help make our own part of the world a little safer. 

They're listening

Jack has always been a big fan of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, in fact I am fairly certain he is considered an honorary member. Part of the reason I am a fan of the Disney Channel is not the constant bombardment of the Disney brand (which I do love) is that they try to use the old fashioned PSA to encourage kids to do good.

One of their promotions is something called "The Power of Doing Good." It is a segment where they highlight a child who is doing something proactive in their community to help people, the environment, animals, or another cause. A nice idea, right?

Last week we finally had some nice, warm weather and sadly Jack and I were cooped up in the house, me working and him watching the tube and playing. I took out the dog to soak up five minutes of sunshine and when I came back in I found Jack rummaging through his toy bin. I asked what he was doing, to which he responded simply, "looking for my grabber for the power of doing good." I was a little puzzled what he meant when it hit me that one of the segments was of a little boy collecting garbage on the beach with his grabber and throwing it away. I smiled, helped him find his grabber and off we went.



So for ten minutes, in the middle of the day, my four-year-old helped in the power of doing good. Such an amazing reminder that although they're listening every time a curse passes our lips, we glance at our phones while driving or gossip about a neighbor... they're also listening to the good in the world. Sometimes I am frightened by what is blaring from the television, what comes out of the mouths of my children's friends and what messages are bombarding my kids. I can't control it, I can't stop it, I'm not even sure that I can balance it out. Then something like a simple PSA reaching a four year old in the middle of the day reminds me that there is *some* good and kind things influencing my kids. That might be enough to help me win the balancing act and raise kids who are kind and caring. Amen to that!









Spring Sports Lament

The end of winter and beginning of Spring proved to be a wet, chilly and downright depressing couple of months. March and April surprised us with days in the 80's and we all thought the groundhog finally had it right. But alas, definitely not the case. Our Spring track season began, and this year with a notable difference. Brian is now the person in charge of the program.



One hundred and eighty six kids, a boat load of parents and siblings and a wide range of opinions and egos to match. There were definite growing pains and many sleepless nights. There have been battles and differences of opinions, but thankfully cool heads have prevailed. The thing we were not able to overcome was out tete a tete with Mother Nature. She cancelled practices, got us wet, forced us to move meets (which is a big undertaking at the last minute). I think she got a great deal of satisfaction out of creating a "baptism by fire" experience for us.

So now it's 90 degrees, after sweatshirt weather last week. We should be used to this in New Jersey but every year we all cry out the same tune of "where did our spring go?" The program as a whole has swung from "track is hard in the rain" to "track is harder in the heat." Personally I'll take heat over rain but then again clapping and cheering is largely unaffected by weather.

So our regular season winds down and the girls have started training for AAU qualifiers. Abby jumped 9'7" last night. Grace is stuck around a 7 minute mile but she'll get her time down. She is throwing the turbo javelin about 34 feet. Not too shabby.

I'll be glad, just as long as it's not raining.

Volunteering

Over the course of my adult life I have almost always been involved in volunteer work. My parents had us begin volunteering in middle school as helpers for the Special Olympics. Early on I discovered the immense benefits of helping others. Since middle school I have been a school volunteer, room parent, teacher at my church and most recently helping fulfill the responsibility of running our local track program (with Brian). There are weeks that it feels like too much; my job, being a mom and wife, a catechist and the track responsibilities.

What has occurred to me lately is that there is a small group of people in the world who are the doers. The ones who put in those extra time to help fill a need or run a program or teach a room full of eager children. It is the same faces I see over and over and over again when you ask for extra help. They’re quiet about it. They don’t brag about all the time they spend helping where no one says thank you and no one even notices. They just fill the need because they know someone has to and they feel like it is their responsibility.


I am lucky that my parents taught be the value of helping. I don’t need thanks or notice, I simply love putting my time and effort to good work. But remember that when you see the person who volunteers to teach, coach, organize or help, a thank you might just fill their spirit.


Faith

I am a former lapsed catholic.

For a long time I found my inner voice constantly telling me that I did not need any formal church or building or affiliation to be a believer. I have always felt that in the wind or a sunset is where I truly saw God. It felt like being required to have my butt in a pew every single Sunday was an imposition on my life. Now don't worry, you are NOT about to read a preachy post about going to church. Where you spend your Sundays is your business. This is just about my own journey.


In my teen years I bounced from church to church. I tried the baptist church (which was fun) and evangelical. I tried several non-denominational Christian churches and they only ever felt like home for a short time. When we got married we chose a highly educated reverend who would marry us in a general Christian ceremony.

When we had the girls the idea of baptism struck me from time to time but why baptize them in a church that wasn't "our church." This is when the search began again. We looked around but nothing seemed to suit us as a family. The thought occurred to me to try on my old religion and see if it still fit. Slowly, over a matter of months it started to sink in. My non-catholic husband even started to feel at home in the tradition of the catholic church.

As an aside I will say that being a catholic in this day isn't always easy. There were horrific actions by member of my faith that should have been punished to the furthest extend of the law, rather than ignored. There are parts of my faith that I quietly disagree with. Then there are the looks you get when you say you can't attend a get together until after 6 on a Saturday because you have to go to mass. That's the moment when you get the "can't you just skip it look."

So it became obvious we needed to move on this whole "becoming a catholic family thing." Brian began to attend religious formation (RCIA) classes and I initiated the process of having a catholic wedding ceremony to make us official and a baptism for the girls. Within just a year we were married by the church (no we do not celebrate two anniversaries) and had our daughters baptized on the same day!


My catholic faith is something that I need to stay grounded in this crazy world. I teach, volunteer and organize at my church because when I am there I don't feel the crunch of regular life. Time moves slower when I working directly for God. The light shines brighter there. So if we can't make it to a party or a get together until 6:15 on a Saturday night just know that it is for a good reason.





Trim Healthy Mama


From the time I started the process of infertility treatments I watched the number on the scale climb slowly higher and higher. It is an unfortunate side effect of both the PCOS and Insulin resistance but also the medications that are sometimes used to get and stay pregnant. It was a price I was willing to pay to be a Mom. 

Now that my "baby" is four years old I think the time for blaming the "baby weight" has long passed. I have tried no carbs (lost 30 pounds and gained it back), weight watchers, atkins, sugar busters and nothing worked long term. Everything seemed to work in the short term but rarely anything lasting. 

I recently heard about a very different kind of eating plan called Trim Healthy Mama. No food group is excluded completely and people all around me were achieving great success. So I have decided to try it! I am reading the book and it is simple enough at first. As you read on the complexities of the plan become obvious. That being said, it also seems incredibly sensible and logical. It is a thorough book, although it might require a few chapters be reread a couple times. 

As I work through it I will try to update on my progress. Here goes nothing!

Fun Run Sponsor's

A Message From Abby and Grace:

Hello Friends and Family,

Abby and Grace will be participating in a cool program called the Rice Owl Fun Run. They’re  raising money for their school and learning about fitness, leadership and character. On November 18, 2015, they will run 30 to 35 laps around the Fun Run Speedway to help our school. Would you please be one of their sponsors? They can't wait to run with all of their classmates. Even just ten cents a lap would help! They'll tell you how many laps they ran after the Fun Run! Thanks for sponsoring them!

Thanks!!

Kristen, Abby and Grace

Click here for Grace’s Page: https://funrun.com/a/s/4LqBX6eH 
Click here for Abby’s Page: https://funrun.com/a/s/C6bWWViw 


Preschool Drop Out

Unfortunately Jack's run at 3-year-old preschool was a bust. After about three weeks of screaming, crying, hitting himself in the head (that's what his teachers told us he did when he got mad) and being completely a mess we decided he was too young. It certainly didn't help that we were not in love with how the school handled his lack of adjustment. There was a lot of shooshing and telling him he was upsetting the class. They were pretty cold and that made matter worse.

So, now he is back at home with me. I am taking him to classes at the Y twice a week and we will try school again (at a different school) in January or next year. It's sad that his experience was so poor.  It was a disappointing experience all around. Hopefully our next attempt will be a smashing success.





On a more positive note, someone if officially COMPLETELY out of diapers!!! Hooray. NO. MORE. DIAPERS!!

School 2015

The summer drew to a close and it was time for school, yet again. The biggest difference this year is that all three of my children were getting ready on the first day of school. The girls were pleasantly ready to go back to school. And Jack-Jack was pure excitement. The first day came and went and for the girls it was anti-climactic. I guess by third grade you have the hang of things.



The girls are in the same class again this year. Partly because they are very autonomous at school and partly because they are both still in the inclusion class.



Jack did great on his first day. No tears, not sadness just smiles and happiness. That certainly made my transition easier. I went to Trader Joe's BY MYSELF! 


 Unfortunately that was just the calm before the storm. When I picked him up on day two I was informed that he screamed (not cried, screamed) for two hours. I was a little surprised but had hoped it would be a steady process.
 Day three was a little better with some crying on and off but definitely improvement.


That brings us to today. Day four. He woke up and immediately cried about going. He cried all morning. He cried on the way there and the walk in. He walked into his classroom and started to sob. In those moments, what the heck are we to do. He is there for fun and learning. He's just three. But if I walk out with him that isn't a great message to send. So here I sit, with a pit in my gut and a close eye on the clock. Please God, let him have settled in.




Is it too late for Easter Pictures?

I definitely think three or four months is the perfect amount of time in which to pull pictures off of your camera. 




They sure do clean up nice!






Us

Us

About this blog

Over 8 years we have struggled through 3 IUI's, 6 rounds of IVF, several RE's, hundreds of appointments and the loss of three little angels. Now we find ourselves the proud parents of two perfect little girls and a wonderful little boy!!

Both of our girls struggle with some disabilities but that won't keep us down. Each day has it's own brand of insanity but we love it. Most days I am more monkey wrangler than mother but I do the best I can. Todays goal - getting to tomorrow.

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