Yes, You CAN Be A Blood Donor!

I spent the first 33 years of my life believing that I could never be a blood donor. 

Firstly, I hate needles.

Second, I’m a fainter. I have passed out in public places more often than I’d like to admit, including a movie theater (more than once!) at the mere SIGHT of blood. 

And to add insult to injury, I have terrible veins. Like, really terrible. My veins are the type that will haunt a nurse’s dreams. 

For these reasons and more, I just thought that blood donation wasn’t in the cards for me.

Then, I gave birth to a giant baby, had a few surgeries, and realized that my minor discomfort was nothing compared to the ability to save someone else’s life. So I bit the bullet and started donating. As often as I can.

And you know what? It’s actually no big deal!

It takes just a few minutes of my time, and then I’m back to my day armed with some free snacks. Plus, I found a miraculous nurse who I ask for by name (heeeeey Ebony!) who can get my awful veins in one stick every 👏 single 👏 time 👏 (She’s an angel and she deserves a raise.). I can even follow my blood donation’s “journey” to local and regional hospitals through the American Red Cross app! 

If I can do it, anyone can. So go donate if you’re eligible. It takes just a few minutes to help save a life. 

My To-Do List as I Approach Age 50

So *someone* has a birthday this year. Well (God willing), we all will, but *someone* has a BIG birthday this year. Y’all. I turn FIFTY in May. The big 5-0. Whaaaaaat?

This birthday has caused me to do some deep soul searching. Fifty isn’t old (I mean, maybe to you 28-year olds it is, but please trust me when I tell you it actually isn’t). I’m not at all bothered by it, but I do feel surprised by it. It just sounds old and it’s kind of unsettling that it’s happening to me.

But it has made me really reflect on my absurdly lucky and blessed life. And I’ve come up with five areas I want to really work on as I enter this new decade – my own little honey-do list for myself if you will. 

I Want To Be More Courageous

Now that I’m almost 50, there isn’t really anything I should be afraid of anymore. I’m not afraid of losing my job or of “The Professor” (AKA my husband) not loving me, or of my friends leaving me.

But what I want is to be brave enough to give a voice to my convictions, fears, and beliefs.

There have been times when I know I should say or do something, but don’t. Simply because I don’t want to cause a scene or make someone uncomfortable. Or maybe it’s because I don’t think it’s any of my business.

But you know what? If I am going to be the kind of person I want to be – and the kind of person I want my kids to be – then guess what? I need to be braver and call people out when they’re being unkind. Or unfair. Or downright cruel. Even if it means making someone else uncomfortable.

I’m not going to (intentionally) be a jerk about it, but I’m too old to not do the right thing (which, as I tell my girls, is usually not the easy thing) just because it might be awkward. How can I ask my girls to stick up for a friend being bullied or mistreated if I don’t do it myself? 

I Want To Live My Faith More Openly 

I’m really struggling with this one. Well, no – that’s not exactly accurate. I have a very strong faith. I love Jesus! I am a BIG fan of the guy. I’m a practicing Catholic, but the Catholic church has taken a beating.

I considered leaving even before all the abuse scandals broke out but decided to stay for a number of reasons. I don’t agree with everything the Catholic church teaches, but I pray really hard and really often about the things I struggle with.

And I’m so THANKFUL for my faith because I think it makes the world a less lonely place.

But I see a lot of so-called Christianity that I cannot get on board with and it makes me want to find a hidey-hole and never come out. I find it to be self-righteous and condescending and cruel and so terribly exclusive. And I wonder, do these holier-than-thou people really know who Jesus was? Do they know what he did?

Jesus was profoundly inclusive. He hung out with the worst of the worst. Lepers. Women. Women of ill repute (how’s that for a polite, mom-accepted way of saying it?!). Racial enemies (the Samaritans). The Impoverished. SINNERS (*Insert hand raised emoji here*).

Jesus wants everyone – and especially the sinners! He’s not waiting for people to be perfect and all sorted out. He wants the ones who are trying and struggling and failing. He wants all of us! And that is NOT what you hear from a lot of people these days. He doesn’t just want people who look like me, who think like me, who have the same problems I do.

And that is compelling me to stretch out of my comfort zone. Because I’m (almost) 50. And I have no reason not make myself uncomfortable by digging deeper into my faith and how I actually live it. I’m looking for new ways to volunteer in a meaningful way – ways I can contribute something to society that will make me nervous.

(I’m still thinking on this, but please – pass along any great charities or organizations you love who need feet on the street!)

I Want To Love The Professor Better

While my husband and I are in good health, I am painfully aware that can turn on a dime. And even if things continue as good and happy as they are, at some point, our time together will come to an end. I hope it’s not for another 35 years AT LEAST. But I’ve had a few close friends lose their husbands, and it’s a sad reminder that life can change in an instant.

The fifties are no joke. The time to do things is NOW. Which means a reshuffling of priorities is needed. 

Let’s have those adventures! Let’s set ourselves up to live how we genuinely, authentically want to live.

I want to make sure that when something heartbreaking happens, we have no regrets. That we loved each other as joyfully and as fully and as strongly as we possibly could.

I Want To Love My Girls Better

My girls are growing up so fast. Too fast. 

Our oldest will be done with high school in four years. Four more Christmases. Four more summers. After that, it could be summer school. Internships. An actual paying job.

Growing up and growing away.

And that’s what we want – we’re trying to raise adults here, after all. But the thought of it being over THAT soon? OOF. It’s crazy.

I want my daughters to look back on their childhood with happy memories and know that they were ferociously loved and cherished and genuinely enjoyed.

As they become more entrenched in the tweens and teens, that can be a challenge TO BE SURE. But they’re working on becoming adults and that’s hard. I have to remember to give them space and grace to do that while keeping them in the range of acceptable and safe behavior. If anything heartbreaking were to happen, I want to know that we’ve set them on the right path; that they have memories of fun times, and that they know they are adored.

I Want To Love My Body Better

I, like so many other women out there, have issues with my body. I carry extra weight. I know this. But also? I’m really strong. I work out regularly at a place that I absolutely love with people I absolutely love (hey, Base 10 Fitness!). I challenge myself every day I’m in that gym and have actual muscle mass to prove it. Sometimes, I even beat the younger kids at the workout!

My first goal is to FINALLY have that danged pull up that has eluded me for y-e-a-r-s by the time I turn 50. My second goal is to appreciate my body.

My body has done amazing things for me for almost 50 years. It got me here. It created and grew two of the loveliest creatures on the planet. It manages the family and inflicts (needed-but-not-always-wanted) big hugs upon my daughters. My body champions and guides and laughs and loves.

My body is pretty amazing and I need to remember that.

But even as strong as I am, I need to take better care of my body. This extra weight it carries can’t be helping things. It’s hard on my knees and will only get harder on them. Same with the hips. And my feet. And my heart has to work harder.

So it really is time – once and for all – for me to get my body in order. I’ll never weigh what the charts say I should and I’m totally fine with that. I’ve been there and it was uncomfortable and unnatural for me, but I do need to give these old bones and joints a little bit of a break.

If turning 50 is anything like turning 40, I know it will just get harder to manage and maintain it. I want to be in the best shape I can be. I want to loudly and proudly strut into middle age so I can set myself up to be as healthy as possible as I (God willing) get even older.

So that’s it. That’s what I want to work on as 50 approaches.

What do you want to work on in this new decade?

9 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever in Columbia With Your Baby This Winter

9 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever in Columbia With Your Baby This Winter | Columbia SC Moms BlogIt’s winter. The holidays are over. (Whomp whomp.) And you’re feeling stuck in the house, covered in milk, with a head full of dry shampoo and the crazed gleam of cabin-fever in your eye.

But no more!

Columbia is chock-full of fun things to do with a baby, and I should know; I’ve spent lots of time discovering all kinds of things to do with my son around town to make our days fun, adventurous, and full of wonder. So throw on a bra and a sweater, put that unwashed hair in topknot, and get on out there for a breath of fresh air and maybe even some adult conversation:

1. Story Time at the Library

We used to go to a story time, especially for young babies, at the Richland Library every single week. It’s educational, musical, indoors, and FREE. Plus, I’ve made some incredible mommy-friends just from sitting around in a circle together with our babies on our laps. Live in Lexington County? There are plenty of story times for you too!

2. Riverbanks Zoo & Gardens

A Riverbanks Zoo membership should be a required baby shower gift for every mom in the Midlands. Between the fresh air, great animal exhibits, incredible gardens and walking trails, and the absolutely MAGICAL interactive children’s garden, Waterfall Junction, there is no better bang for your buck for a mom of young kiddos. Even though the days are chillier, lots of exhibits are indoors, and hey, it’s South Carolina, which means that if it’s 25 degrees today, it’ll probably be 65 tomorrow.

9 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever in Columbia With Your Baby This Winter | Columbia SC Moms Blog
Fairy Garden at Waterfall Junction

3. Soda City Farmer’s Market

Every Saturday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Columbia’s Main Street is taken over by incredible food, live music, and local everything at Soda City. It’s also a baby extravaganza. This was our very first “fun” outing when baby was only three weeks old, and it’s become a weekend ritual ever since. So bundle up, grab some brunch from a food truck, and settle in on the patio at Drip for a much-needed mug of warm caffeine and top-notch people and pooch watching.

4. Columbia Museum of Art

The Columbia Museum of Art is a delightfully peaceful and beautiful place to explore with your little. Got bigger kids? Grab a free activity backpack for them to take through the museum to make the art more interactive or sign up for Gladys’ Gang. Gladys’ Gang is designed for children ages 2-5 and their caregivers. There are two sessions each month, divided into toddler and preschool audiences (siblings are welcome at both!). Each month enjoy a story, gallery time, and an age-appropriate studio activity that emphasizes the process of art-making rather than the final product. It’s free!

9 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever in Columbia With Your Baby This Winter | Columbia SC Moms Blog
He LOVES all the colorful art!

5. Columbia Marionette Theatre

The Columbia Marionette Theatre is a completely magical outing for kids of all ages, (even my one year old will sit right through an entire 45 minute show), with $7 performances every Saturday and the 3rd Monday of every month. Monday shows include an interactive backstage tour!

6. EdVenture Children’s Museum 

EdVenture provides hours upon hours of interactive, educational, multi-sensory fun for toddlers on up. And it’s indoors! Spring for a membership and enjoy free admission to their sister locations in Myrtle Beach and Hartsville – road trip!  

7. Drip on Main

Drip crafts hands-down the best coffee in Columbia, and it’s my personal favorite spot for a mommy-date. They have a lovely shaded patio area that’s very baby-friendly where I’ve spent countless hours enjoying some grown up conversation while the babies snoozed or tottered around, and of course heated indoor space as well.

9 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever in Columbia With Your Baby This Winter | Columbia SC Moms Blog
“Hey mom, where’s my honey habanero latte?”

8. Sweet Cream Co.

What could be better on a crisp winter day than handcrafted organic ice cream in the most unique array of flavors you’ll find anywhere? OK, if you’re too chilly for ice cream, they also serve locally roasted coffee and handcrafted hot cocoa. Sweet Cream Co. is the best, and super family-friendly; the sweet couple who owns the place love it when babies come into the shop. Tell Jessica and Joe I sent you!

9. Grab a Friend and Take the Babies to Lunch

My baby-friendly restaurant recommendations have several things in common: great food (obvi), quick, friendly service from people who don’t seem to hate children, a laid-back atmosphere, and (usually) the option for outdoor seating (ideal for grumpy infants and messy eaters.) Through tireless repeat testing, (you’re welcome), we’ve come up with a short list of our local favorites: Cafe Strudel, Spotted Salamander (get there early to snag an epically delish cronut before they sell out), Rosewood Market, Harambe (eat-with-your-hands Ethiopian cuisine), Zoe’s Kitchen, and the aforementioned Drip on Main.

What are some of your favorite winter activities to do around Columbia with babies?

Maybe This Will Be The Year I Finally Get Organized!

December was a whirlwind of chaos and busyness unlike any other month of the year. Now that the magic of the holidays is over and the dust is beginning to settle, I am left feeling completely exhausted.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful as well. This was our family’s best Christmas yet and we were able to spend good quality time together. And as a military family that is something I do not take for granted.

Now I am looking ahead to the new year, a new decade, and I am wanting to make some personal resolutions and actually follow through on them.

As a mother of three, I have realized I need more organization in my life. Not just strolling the aisles of Target buying new matching bins that just end up with random things frantically thrown in them. Nope. I am referring to mental and physical organization. The kind that will help me cut down on daily stress and anxiety allowing for more peaceful moments with my children.

So how does one achieve this goal? I am not actually sure yet, but I do have a few ideas I would like to try.

My Ideas On How To Get More Organized

A To-Do List

I decided to start every day with a realistic to-do list. I used to create one daily when I worked full-time. However, since becoming a stay-at-home mom I have found that my mind is all over the place. This is mostly due to exhaustion, of course, and then my weekly to-do lists feel too daunting. But, I found some super cute “to-do” list stationery for just $3 and I am going to put it to good use!

Delegate

This is going to be my year to delegate! I am so used to doing it all because that’s what moms do, right? Wrong!

My daughter is now five and a half years old and has a newfound passion for cleaning. Honestly, she loves to clean and I even overhear her telling her brother to pick up his toys and throw away his trash. Not that he ever does it… still, she makes me proud.

So delegating tasks to my daughter and my husband is going to be one of my priorities in order to lighten the load.

Time For Myself

I am going to find 30 minutes a day to do something relaxing just for ME. For so many years I was severely lacking in the self-care department. I was in the trenches and just ignored self-care all together. That is unless my mom was in town visiting, which was only a couple of times a year.

This led to exhaustion, burn out, depression and an array of other issues. Around that time I started blogging as a form of self-care. It was then that I fell in love with writing all over again. It was my peace in the midst of chaos.

I used to think self-care only referred to pedicures, massages, and shopping days. Now I know it is so much more than that. It is realizing that you are a person too who deserves free time to enjoy whatever it is you enjoy doing, and not feel an ounce guilt about it. Personally, self-care leads to increased productivity and therefore my “to-do” list gets knocked out quicker. 

Cut Out The Clutter

Lastly, I am going to try and cut down on the clutter in my house. I swear my kids each have 1,001 toys in their rooms that I am constantly having to pick up. Less clutter equals less cleaning and less cleaning leads to more time for fun.

So the garbage bags are coming out! With the help of my kids, I am going to start donating anything we don’t use or play with. And this time, I will not let the bags sit in the garage for three months first.

Wow, I am feeling more organized already!

How do you stay organized? What tips would you add to the list?

 

Turkey Noodle Soup :: A Kid-Approved Recipe

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A little birdie told me January is National Soup Month. Soup is the one dish that I seriously eat all year round. I don’t care what the temperature is. I. Love. Soup! For me, soup is an instant mood lifter! 

Around Thanksgiving, most of the grocery stores had turkeys on sale. I scored a 21-pound turkey for just over $6. Now, what was I going to do with that much bird? I roasted it.**

And then grew tired of eating it very quickly. Some of it was sliced and frozen for sandwiches and wraps, some of it was chopped for turkey salad, and some of it was saved for soup. Turkey Noodle Soup to be exact.

So, I gathered my ingredients and got to work. You can use a little or as much as you like. I use dried herbs for this soup because I always have them on hand. You can adjust the seasonings as much as you need to fit your taste preference.

When I make any type of broth-based soup I rarely measure the ingredients. This is such an easy soup to throw together. The use of a pressure cooker would make it even better, but I prefer to cook it on the stovetop and have the house smelling like love.

Food is my love language. So here is my super easy, kid-approved Turkey Noodle Soup recipe. 

Ingredients

  • Turkey – cooked and chopped into bite sized pieces (you can also substitute chicken and make Chicken Noodle Soup)
  • Wide Egg Noodles
  • Onions – chopped
  • Green Bell Pepper – chopped
  • Celery – chopped
  • Carrots – I use baby carrots and cut them in half
  • Garlic Cloves – minced
  • Chicken Broth – more than you think you will need. I tend to use about 60 ounces. You can also use turkey or vegetable broth.
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper – just a pinch
  • Olive Oil

Directions

  • Heat your stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Sauté onions, bell pepper, celery, and carrots for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add garlic cloves, bay leaf, and all seasonings. I like to start with 1 teaspoon of each. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out if you add too much.
  • Sauté the mixture for another two minutes. If it starts to stick to the pot, add a little more olive oil a teaspoon at a time.
  • Add the turkey to the pot and continue to stir.
  • Slowly add the chicken broth.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • You may then add your egg noodles to the pot OR you can do what I do and cook them separately. I like to cook mine separately because if you are not eating all of the soup immediately, the noodles will soak up a large portion of the broth. If you are eating it all, add the noodles (as much or as little as you like) directly to the pot.
  • If you are cooking them separately, follow the instruction on the package to cook the noodles. After they have cooked, add them directly to a bowl and ladle the soup mixture over them.

Enjoy!

**To roast the turkey, I followed Ayesha Curry’s recipe for Jamaican Jerk Turkey, adjusting for the size of the turkey. This added a delicious spin on the flavor of the soup!

This recipe is great comfort food and is also great to help combat the sniffles. This will be enjoyed by kids of all ages! If you try it, be sure to let me know how you like it!

10 Tips and Tricks For Battling Sickness In The Home

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You know that fear when you feel your throat getting sore or an itching sensation on the roof of your mouth? Or maybe your lips get dry, or your body becomes achy? We all know the symptoms that rear their ugly heads when we start to catch one of the rampant viruses of the season.

As a new mother, I have more to fear than my own body now. We all know that a sick little one is no fun. How about when your whole household gets sick at the same time? I learned firsthand what that was like this past December. We sure ended our 2019 with a bang. 

I know that will not be the last time our family gets sick. And I am also well aware every home goes through this challenging cycle. Therefore, I decided to share a few tips and tricks that really helped us get back on our feet. Maybe you do some of these, maybe you don’t and you’ll decide to start.

All I can say is, if anything on this list can help you and yours, I have done my duty. 

1. Lysol Is Your Best Friend

While everyone is in the heat of the illness and cleaning the house is not yet an option as you can barely get out of bed – LYSOL. It doesn’t have to be Lysol brand, but get a disinfectant cleaner and spray down pretty much everything. But, especially toys, TV remotes, light switches, doorknobs, faucets, appliance handles, and your couch and pillows. 

2. Make Good Use of Your Dishwasher

If you have a dishwasher, put all the dishes in there. Do not reuse or wash by hand at this point. Just let the dishwasher take charge. If you do not have a dishwasher, I recommend a good old-fashioned super hot water bath with adequate soap.

3. Replenish Those Electrolytes

Invest in some coconut water to help build your family’s immune system back up. Gatorade and Pedialyte are also great options. I prefer to use natural products if I can. If you choose to go this route as well, be sure to get coconut water without added sugar.

4. Saltine Crackers Are a Must

Saltines are the oldest trick in the book. When you can’t eat (or don’t feel like eating) but have to take meds, a few of these will help. They are a great way to ease into other foods like…

5. Eat Miso Soup

I really like the Miso soup with ginger broth at Trader Joe’s. The ginger helps with my throat. Miso is loaded with probiotics. So if you are taking an antibiotic, this soup will replenish the healthy bacteria the antibiotic kills. Antibiotics may deplete the good bacteria in your body as they do not differentiate between good and bad. If you cannot find Miso soup, buy some Miso paste and blend it with some water (see my recipe here).

6. Doing Laundry Helps Kill Those Germs

Once you are able to stand and walk for short periods of time, start grabbing all blankets, pillowcases, and any other machine-washable items. Be sure to wash everything in hot water. Every time you have the strength, wash something in that machine. Continue washing the pillowcases and blankets anyone touches while sick until everyone is feeling better.

7. Start Disinfecting as You Heal 

Once the sickness is on its way out, it is time to banish the germs from your house forever! Pull out your cleaner of choice, then spray and wipe down all of the things you previously used Lysol on. I also recommend adding kitchen and bathroom countertops to this wipe down as well.

8. A Vacuum and a Mop Go a Long Way in Stopping the Spread of Germs

If you don’t have a steam mop, a standard mopping will do. I really enjoy steam mopping because it uses only water but kills 99.9% of germs with the heat. Really can’t beat that. You’ll also want to vacuum and get rid of all the dust that can work its way into your throat. 

9. Be Sure to Let That Virus Run Its Course

Once you hit the point where you start to feel better, all the plans you canceled due to being ill start to sound really nice. However, I really recommend staying home a bit longer until all your symptoms are gone. Even if your current sickness is practically gone, your immune system still needs time to revamp in order to keep you safe from the next illness lying in wait for you.

10. Celebrate Everyone Being Well Again

Once everyone is better, celebrate your health. Throw on some tunes and dance with your family. I mean, you did just kick some butt so why not have a dance party?

This is my tried-and-true system that works for our household when sickness comes calling. So mama, if you are currently going through a sick house, I hear you and feel your pain. Just remember, there is a light is at the end of the tunnel. I promise!

Oh! One final trick…

We all know it can be a hassle trying to keep track of medication dosages. Especially if you’re giving meds to multiple people at once. In order to help keep track of who took their medicine when, use a whiteboard like the one pictured below. Then, mark the board after each dose until it is gone! Don’t have a whiteboard? No problem! Mark on the medicine bottle itself. 

What are your tips and tricks for helping your family when they are sick?

Weekend Events for Kids

** Events are subject to change. Be sure to click on the event link to verify date and time **

Richland Library and Lexington Library hold LOTS of story times over the weekend. Click the links to find a time that works for your family.

Kids Flight – HiWire

Kids age 6 and younger are always welcome to jump during standard park hours, but #KidsFlight is reserved just for these little ones from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday – Saturday. For only $9 per child, they can jump with kids their own age without the rustle and bustle of a bunch of other kids in the way. And one accompanying parent or legal guardian jumps for free.

Time: 9 – 11 a.m. 

Location: Plex HiWire Sandhills, 741 Fashion Drive, Columbia 29229 and Plex HiWire Irmo, 1019 Broad Stone Road, Irmo 29063


Pre-School Play

Kids 5 and under can play. $6 for one hour of play/$9 for entire time.

Time: 9 a.m. – noon

Location: Flippin’ Awesome, 111 Ministry Drive, Irmo 29063


Snowville

BRRRR! Bundle up for snowy fun, featuring indoor snow-tubing, “sock” ice hockey, snowy science experiments and more! Snowville returns to EdVenture! Free with museum admission.

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Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
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Location: EdVenture Children’s Museum, 211 Gervais Street, Columbia 29201


Family Storytime

Share stories, songs, and much more while building early literacy skills with fun for the whole family.

Time: 10 – 11 a.m.

Location: Richland Library – Eastover, 608 Main Street, Eastover 29044


Free Fridays at Riverbanks Zoo

Residents of Richland and Lexington counties will receive free admission to the park every Friday during the months of January and February. Guests will be asked to provide a valid driver’s license, property tax statement, or vehicle registration as proof of residency.

Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Riverbanks Zoo, 500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia 29210


Knee-high Naturalist: Animals of the ARC

(ages 2–5) Would you like to learn more about the animals behind the glass in the Aquarium-Reptile Complex? Let’s dive in and take a closer look at some of the Zoo’s smallest residents such as fish, urchins, frogs and geckos.$8 for one child (with one adult) per class. Plus admission for general public. Registration required. 
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Time: 10:15 a.m.
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Location: Riverbanks Zoo, 500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia 29210


Family Storytime

Share stories, songs, and much more while building early literacy skills with fun for the whole family.

Time: 10:30 – 11 a.m.

Location: Richland Library Wheatley, 931 Woodrow Street, Columbia 29205


Family Storytime

Share stories, songs, and much more while building early literacy skills with fun for the whole family.

Time: 10:30 – 11:15 a.m. 

Location: Richland Library Blythewood, 218 McNulty Street, Columbia 29016


Family Storytime

Share stories, songs, and much more while building early literacy skills with fun for the whole family.

Time: 11 – 11:30 a.m. 

Location: Richland Library Ballentine, 1200 Dutch Fork Road, Irmo 29063


Toddler Time

Toddlertime is an interactive program for toddlers and their caregivers that encourages early enjoyment and development of language and literature through stories, rhymes and songs. For more information, call (803) 345-5479. (ages 18 – 35 months)

Time: 11 – 11:30 a.m. 

Location: Chapin Branch library, 129 N.W. Columbia Avenue, Chapin 29036


Friday Crafternoons

Use our tools and space to work on your own creative endeavor or expand your horizons by trying your hand at our project of the week! Teens (12-18 years) and adults.
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Time: 3 – 5 p.m.
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Location: Richland Library – Ballentine, 1321 Dutch Fork Road, Irmo 29063


Crafternoon

Get your craft on! Let your imagination run wild using a variety of materials provided. Paint, color, collage, or all of the above! Join us for vision board crafts. A vision board is a visual method of displaying your child’s dreams and goals. Create a colorful poster collage to keep you motivated to achieve your dreams in the new year! Families welcome!

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Time: 3 – 5 p.m.
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Location: Richland Library – Ballentine, 1321 Dutch Fork Road, Irmo 29063


Chess Club

All levels welcome! Those 6 years old and up are invited to come learn and play this game of strategy!

Time: 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Location: Richland Library Northeast, 7490 Parklane Road, Columbia 29223


Kids Flight – HiWire

Kids age 6 and younger are always welcome to jump during standard park hours, but #KidsFlight is reserved just for these little ones from 9am to 11am Monday – Saturday. For only $9 per child, they can jump with kids their own age without the rustle and bustle of a bunch of other kids in the way. And one accompanying parent or legal guardian jumps for free.
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Time: 9 – 11 a.m.
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Location: Plex HiWire Sandhills, 741 Fashion Drive, Columbia 29229 and Plex HiWire Irmo, 1019 Broad Stone Road, Irmo 29063


Soda City Market

Whether you’re shopping for a one-of-kind gift, picking-up this week’s groceries, or spending the morning with family and friends, you’ll find a refreshing mix of local and regional food and craft vendors at Soda City — and if you’re from out of town, visit us on Main Street and see Columbia as the creative class, international, and bustling community we are! Free parking throughout Columbia on the weekends (no matter what you see on signs and stickers) including the Cannon Garage on Taylor Street between Main Street and Sumter Street.

Time: 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Location: Main Street, Columbia 29201


Snowville

BRRRR! Bundle up for snowy fun, featuring indoor snow-tubing, “sock” ice hockey, snowy science experiments and more! Snowville returns to EdVenture! Free with museum admission.

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Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
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Location: EdVenture Children’s Museum, 211 Gervais Street, Columbia 29201


LEAP: A Romp and Rhyme Babytime

Literacy, Enrichment and Play (LEAP) is an interactive program for babies and their caregivers that uses books, rhymes, games, fingerplays and songs to encourage literacy through learning. For more information, call (803) 785-2630. (ages birth – 18 months)

Time: 10 – 10:30 a.m.

Location: Lexington Main Library, 5440 Augusta Road, Lexington 29072


Musical Storytime for all ages

Bring your boogie shoes to the library for a storytime that will get you on your feet!

Time: 10 – 10:30 a.m.

Location: Richland Library – Ballentine, 1321 Dutch Fork Road, Irmo 29063


Craft Corner: Snowman Spoons

Join us for our weekend Craft Corner! For more information, call (803) 785-2680.

Time: 10 – 11 a.m.

Location: Lexington Main Library, 5440 Augusta Road, Lexington 29072


Lunar New Year

Celebrate the year of that rat at EdVenture!

  • Good Luck Scavenger Hunt
  • Science of Chinese Fireworks
  • Story of the Chinese Zodiac Animals
  • Make Your Own Chinese Zodiac Masks
  • Make Your Own Paper Dragons
  • Make Your Own Chinese Lantern
  • Practice Chinese Brush Painting

EdVenture’s Lunar New Year celebration is free with museum admission!

Time: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Location: EdVenture, 211 Gervais Street, Columbia 29201


Black History Month Fair 2020: The Jubilation Begins

Join us as we kick off this jubilant celebration of African-American’s history, contributions and culture.

The fair will feature African storytelling and drumming from Healing Force; a health fair, exercise tips and tracks, an African-American inventors display and so much more.

Main Stage:

10:30 – 11:20 a.m.     The Healing Force

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.      KID Power Showcase

12:30 – 12:55 p.m.     What’s Happening Around Richland Library

1 –  2 p.m.       Chairobics with James Anderson

2:30 – 3:30p.m.      Benedict College Concert Choir

 

Displays and Activities:

11 a.m. – 1 p.m.        Vii’s African-American Inventors and Invention Exhibit

11 a.m. – 1 p.m.        Health Fair

11 a.m. – 1 p.m.        Richland County Elections and Voter Registration

11 a.m. – 2 p.m.        The National Association of Black Engineers Hands-On Activities      

11 a.m. – 2 p.m.        Auntie Karen Foundation’s Displays of Young Entrepreneurs 

Time: 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Location: Richland Library Main, 1431 Assembly Street, Columbia 29201


Storytime and Activities Featuring How to Catch a Dragon

Celebrate Lunar New Year with this fun Storytime! The wily dragon will have to avoid trap after trap as the kids run through paper lanterns, red envelopes, fireworks, and more! Join us and color your own paper lantern to take home.

Time: 11 a.m.

Location: Barnes and Noble, 3400 Forest Drive, Columbia 29201


The Little Mermaid

The Columbia Marionette Theatre’s surprising new adaptation of the famous Hans Christian Anderson story combines a modern day setting with timeless underwater imagery. When the Little Mermaid spies a Prince aboard his yacht, she braves a visit to the Sea Witch to gain legs and be with him. Unfortunately, reporters follow the Prince everywhere and his mother, the Queen, doesn’t approve! Will the Prince choose the Little Mermaid over his fame and reputation? Incorporating detailed puppets and elaborate sets, this production is a unique and satisfying take on the classic fairy tale. Admission $7 for ages 2 and up.

Time: 11 a.m. | 3 p.m.

Location: Columbia Marionette Theatre, 401 Laurel Street, Columbia 29205


Princess Party!

Come hang out with a Princess! 
– Lunch Included
– Ice Cream Included
– Craft Included
– All the Princess Pictures you want allowed 

$15

Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Location: Sweet Pea’s Ice Cream Parlor, 412 McNulty Street, Blythewood 29016 


Bluff Road Kids Fun Run

Join us for a day of exercise and fun! The Kids Fun Run is designed to create more opportunities for kids to be active through play and exercise and teach them healthy life skills that will carry over into adulthood. Contact Bluff Road Park for more information (803.776.8698) or register online at www.richlandrec.com. Co-ed, Ages 5-12. FREE EVENT.

Time: 1 – 3 p.m.

Location: Bluff Road Park, 148 Carswell Drive, Columbia 29209


 

Snowville

BRRRR! Bundle up for snowy fun, featuring indoor snow-tubing, “sock” ice hockey, snowy science experiments and more! Snowville returns to EdVenture! Free with museum admission.

Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: EdVenture Children’s Museum, 211 Gervais Street, Columbia 29201


Tween & Me Yoga

Tween & Me allows adults & kids (tweens & teens: age 9-ish to 14-ish) to practice together in a vinyasa-style class which also includes fun partner poses! Beginner-friendly. No yoga experience needed! Pre-registration is required as spots are limited. Sign up online or using the app.

Time: 2 – 3 p.m.

Location: Pink Lotus Yoga, 711 East Main Street, Unit J1, Lexington 29072 


Please Note :: While we make every effort to crosscheck current links and event details on our guides, we always encourage you to do the same before making final plans. If details are missing or incorrect, please let us know so that we can make every attempt to correct them.

Is Your Life Ready for a Plot Twist?

Is Your Life Ready for a Plot Twist? Columbia MomYou’ve been reading the most amazing book and so far, you feel fairly confident you know what’s going on with the plot and the characters. Not that the storyline is boring, or you can easily predict how the story is going to end, but you feel comfortable putting the book down for a minute and knowing what’s going on without having to go back and reread parts of it again…

When I don’t want to be challenged or forced to pay close attention, I love picking up one of my favorite romance novels and losing myself in the simple boy meets girl drama with the obvious plot structure because it follows the romantic trope I know and love. I’m not surprised when the old girlfriend comes back and throws a monkey wrench into the newly forming love affair. Nor am I shaken to my core when the hero walks out on the sweet girl because he thinks he’s just no good for her.

Tropes are great for easy reading when I just want to escape the every day stresses of my life as a stay-at-homeschool mom who also happens to be a romance writer.

What happens when you take a step back from your own life and realize there have been no surprise developments as of late? Everything is going as it’s always gone. Nothing is broken, but nothing is changing or moving either. You know exactly what to expect on Tuesday because it’s taco Tuesday, ballet until 6 p.m., laundry day and time to wash the baseboards.

It’s nothing we can put our finger on and say… this particular thing is missing from my Tuesday, but there is something missing–maybe not from Tuesday, but from life in general. 

I know, the grass is never greener on the other side and if it is, you have no idea how they get it like that. So, water your own grass and be quiet! 

I know. I get it. If there is nothing wrong, then don’t try to fix it.

I have told myself this time and time again. Every time that restless feeling bubbles up inside me and makes my entire body feel like one great, big, open nerve ending. I can’t keep still, can’t find a comfortable position to sleep in or even the right food to make me feel satisfied.

What is it I’m looking for? What do I need?

A plot twist.

I need an unexpected development to take place in my life. Something to set my soul on fire; something just for me and my personal benefit. 

I’m a writer, I should be able to write an effective plot twist into my own life, right?

What Type of Plot Twist Do I Need?

Which of these plot twists do I need in my life at this exact moment? 

Here’s the thing. I’m 45 with one daughter living in Brazil for the next three months. Another child turned 16 this past November, and my baby will be a freshman in high school next school year. 

One would think I’ve had enough plot twists in my life to keep me busy for the next twenty or thirty years, but all of these developments have or are happening outside myself. They’re plot twists in the lives of the people I love.

Well, all except me turning 45 at the end of last year. But I expected that, so not really a surprise development. 

I’m ready to shake some things up in my life. Ready to become my own plot twist.

Looks like only two out of the eight would plot twists above would work for my self-appointed plot twist. Honestly, the one I’m most leaning toward is the one I can hardly pronounce. Thanks, Aristotle.

  • Anagnorisis–The protagonist has a new understanding of their identity; who they are internally is what flips. 

Becoming more self-aware. This is the plot twist I’ll write into my own personal story. 

I endeavor to write several plot twists into my life each year, but it’s this one that establishes how the next 365 days of my life will go. I’ll use this widely used writing technique to…

Life is a journey. Just because we wander doesn’t mean we’re lost. Don’t be afraid to be your own plot twist. 

Stay Enchanted.

Are you feeling like your story could use a surprise development? Which plot twist would work best for you as you organize your new year?   

The Unsweet Truth About Gestational Diabetes

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There are so many milestones we reach during pregnancy. Some good (like that first positive pregnancy test or hearing your baby’s heartbeat the first time) and some scary (like holding your breath for those first 12 weeks or awaiting genetic testing results).

A few weeks ago I reached one such milestone, my one-hour glucose test for Gestational Diabetes (GD). Now, full disclosure, I was not optimistic that I would pass the test. I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrom) and have been diagnosed as insulin resistant in the past. So I went in fully prepared to fail the first test… and boy did I fail it. I bombed that test so hard they didn’t even make me do the three-hour test. We went straight to, “We’re going to start treating you for Gestational Diabetes.”

My heart was heavy at first. For starters, I felt a lot of shame and failure. Even knowing what I know about Gestational Diabetes and my body and my previous diagnoses, I still felt so ashamed and so guilty.

Secondly, I was super afraid to have to be put on insulin. I don’t know why, but after everything we went through to get pregnant, I really wasn’t looking forward to daily shots again.

I cried. I vented. Then, with the help of a couple of really sweet mama friends, I remembered that this is a totally manageable diagnosis and definitely not the worst news I could have received. So I promised myself I would try my best to tackle this new journey with a positive attitude.

Here are the Top Three Things I’ve learned in the last few weeks:

The Diet Isn’t Really That Bad

Honestly, as someone with PCOS that struggles with their weight, a healthier eating plan wasn’t the WORST thing that could happen to me. Especially because my favorite foods include pizza, french fries, and lattes.

The biggest misconception I’ve heard with a diabetic diet is that people assume you shouldn’t be eating ANY carbs. In my case that simply isn’t true (though it may be true for those with more severe cases). Our bodies need carbs to function and our babies need them to grow properly.

The goal is to eat the correct number of carbs throughout the day and to aim for eating healthier whole-grain, complex carbs versus simple, white carbs. I still eat bread and potatoes, and even (gasp) pizza. But I’ve switched to whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, and thin-crust pizza loaded with veggies and protein.

Again, this is what I’ve been able to do. If you end up with a GD diagnosis a nutritionist can help you come up with a meal plan that works for you.

My Fear of Insulin was Kind of Silly

My post-meal glucose numbers were great after some diet changes, but I just couldn’t get my morning fasting number (before breakfast) into a healthy range. So my OB decided to start me on insulin at night, to hopefully help lower that number. I was really afraid to be on insulin. It was seriously stressing me out so much.

Shots in the stomach? No thank you. So you can imagine how much of a baby I felt like when I got all my supplies and saw the tiniest syringes and needles ever. I was so relieved!

Now that I have a few weeks of experience, I barely even feel my shot each night. Sure, it’s not my favorite thing to have to do right before bed, but I had built it up in my head way more than I needed to. I haven’t had any adverse reactions so far and my morning fasting number is improving every day.

More Frequent Doctor Appointments Isn’t Such a Bad Thing

One of the few upsides to my GD diagnosis is that starting at 32 weeks I have two (yes, two) appointments with my OB each week. One appointment is for an NST (Non-Stress Test) and the other is for an ultrasound to measure the baby.

Even though it’s a lot of appointments, I’m actually really looking forward to getting to see baby boy each week so close to the end. Eeeek! 

If you find yourself on a similar journey, just remember that, in most cases, there is an end in sight.

Listen to your body and nourish it with things that make you feel good. Don’t totally deprive yourself. Find ways to eat foods you love the smart and healthy way. I had the yummiest Carb Smart Ice Cream Bar tonight. It was totally within my diet plan and a nice treat after a long day with a rambunctious two-year-old.

Most of all, remember that you DID NOT cause this. You didn’t do anything wrong. So go ahead and toss that shame and guilt to the side. You are in control of your journey and you have all the power to make good choices for you and your baby.

Yes, it can be really hard. Especially when those pregnancy cravings kick in, but the high that comes with making good choices far outweighs the temporary high from a couple of really great french fries. 

How do you control your Gestational Diabetes? 

What I Did When My Toddler’s Cat Died

I guess I should have known better when we accidentally started rescuing cats, even though I’m allergic (another story for another time). Not every teeny tiny kitten is going to make it.

After we got Tipsy and then rehomed this one-pound black and white little guy with one backward leg, my daughter missed him terribly. So when another infant cat was found hot and starving in a parking lot, someone tagged me. The next thing I knew I was picking this helpless little kitten up and then picking my daughter up from preschool.

The second he popped out of the basket, they were attached at the hip. He slept next to her bed. She fed and watered him, and would gently pet him. He was a cuddly baby and quiet, which should have been a sign in retrospect.

We did warn my daughter that the kitten might have an owner or might not be able to get better. But she still wasn’t prepared.

One day after we got home from preschool, we went into her room and the kitten – she called him Cookie – was lying where he usually sleeps, undeniably dead. 

I quickly ushered my daughter out of the room. Frankly, it’s not a pretty sight and not how I wanted her to forever picture death. Nor did I want to listen to her try to wake him up for my own sake. I also knew I needed to clean the room immediately. You never know in a situation like this when there is no sign of injury. 

Aside from the practicals, I always thought I knew how I would explain this, but my kid couldn’t even grasp the idea of “yesterday” and “next week.” I knew this would only upset her, but not sink in. Using magical language would only confuse her. I’m not a fan of making up lies, especially blending them with religion. 

To add to that, she had been going through separation anxiety and just stopped crying about her best friend moving away. This was not a time for productive pain. 

Baby, Tears, Portrait, People, Babe, Little, Crying

So, I consulted the experts: Mr. Rogers, medical parenting resources, and our pastor. They all pretty much offered the same advice.

Things To Do

  1. Tell the truth and use literal language. “His body stopped working. So he won’t be with us anymore like that.”
  2. Offer a distraction. It’s okay to not wallow in grief right off the bat, and it doesn’t make you better.
  3. Show emotion. Crying can let your kid know it is sad and okay to feel sad. It validates their feelings. 
  4. Allow them to show emotion. As hard as it is to watch them cry, it’s necessary. 
  5. Allow them to move on. It’s normal for kids to go from crying to playing to crying again.  
  6. Be prepared to re-explain it. You may need to remind your child(ren) their pet isn’t coming back. 
  7. Allow a funeral or burial if it helps. However, for younger kids, you can skip this and make a memorial with a picture or favorite object, candle, etc. 
  8. Pray together for the pet or talk to them. This can be very therapeutic. 

Things Not To Do

  1. Make up pretty metaphorical/magical stories that they will outgrow, losing comfort.
  2. Use indirect language that may confuse or frighten. For example, you don’t want to say things like, “They’re watching from the sky,” or the pet has “moved on,” or “They got sick.”
  3. Shame them for being sad/Shame them for being happy.
  4. Show them the body/make them dig the grave. This is not actually productive and does not “toughen” up kids. 
  5. Talk about blame. Even if your child accidentally caused the death or someone else did, it’s better to focus on the pet. 
  6. Secretly replace the pet with an identical one. It’s tempting but this will not help your child in the long run. 

Then there’s the age-old question: to get a new pet or not. Many people will encourage you to wait before getting a new pet out of respect for the pet that passed away and to avoid confusion, skipping grieving. 

However, in my experience and many others, especially with small children, a new pet that looks very different from the old pet can help with your child’s feelings. It won’t stop them from feeling the pain or taking time to remember the other pet, but it can ease the pain.

Frankly, falling in love doesn’t lessen the love of an old friend. My grandmothers, who lived to be nearly one hundred, thrived in later generations not just by their adept adaptation, grit, and optimistic resourcefulness, but their willingness to engage with new generations and new friends. They lost so many people and yet always knew there was always someone new to love. 

The joy and never-ending quality of love is perhaps another lesson just as valuable as the finality of death. And it may also be the perfect time to teach it. 

The main takeaway from this is that it’s okay to let your child lead the grieving process. Their maturity and understanding, everything going on in their life, and how they grieve personally, will all factor into the process. You can even ask them if they would like to have a funeral or a new pet. Or you can just decide based on your child.

You as a parent know your kid best, so don’t worry about what people think of your approach. Just do what is best for your child. 

How do you help your child deal with the loss of a pet? 

Poison Control :: What You Need to Know

We recently had a parenting first in our home. 

My family was getting ready to go see Frozen 2 on a Saturday morning when I heard my daughter playing with the water in her bathroom. I took some time to finish what I was doing, then went in to see what the damage was.

As I walked in I realized there was an empty bottle of children’s Zyrtec floating in the sink full of water. I paused for a minute and then asked her why it was empty. She said, “I drank it so my throat will feel better.” Uh-oh.

I tried to remain calm as I ran to get my husband. He started googling while I started finding the number for poison control. Handily, it’s on the back of the bottle. A kind woman answered and asked for lots of details and then we discovered that the only side effect is sleepiness. Thank. Goodness. My heart recovered and I hugged my daughter and we discussed how we only take the medicine that mommy and daddy give you.

This incident could have been so much worse if it had been a different drug or a different dosage.

After this incident, I wondered if all parents know what to do in such a case or if there was anything I should know for next time.

Helpful Information for Calling Poison Control 

  1. The Poison Control phone number: 1-800-222-1222
  2. Poison Control is available 24/7, 365 days a year and is absolutely FREE.
  3. Our local SC Poison Control is called the “Palmetto Poison Center” and is run by The University of South Carolina. When you call, you will be helped by a healthcare professional that is trained in toxicology and poison information. Their website also boasts great information on how to prevent poisoning and what is or can be poisonous.
  4. Know your child’s height and weight. They aren’t looking for an exact number, but a general knowledge is required. I often hear parents say they have “no idea” how tall their child is or how much they weigh, but you need to know. Have them step on that scale at your grandma’s house. Get that tape measure out and save it in your phone.  This information, along with the child’s age, is very important when calling poison control. 
  5. Have the bottle or container of whatever your child ingested in front of you when calling. The operator will need to know the exact name and strength of whatever it is you are concerned about.
  6. The operator will also need to know the time of exposure or ingestion and any other relevant medical information about your child.
  7. Poison control can be used for adults too! It is for poisoning of any kind. You can even call if your child was stung or bit by something that may be poisonous. 
  8. Know your child and use your brain. Sometimes a call to the poison center is warranted. But sometimes you just need to call 911 or head straight to the ER. Trust your parental instincts!

I hope this information helps you be prepared in case your child or another loved one comes in contact with a potentially harmful substance.

One last thing, be gentle on yourself and others. Accidents happen. You got this!

Have you had to call poison control? What tips would you add to this list?

Wings of Love :: Confessions of an Almost Helicopter Mom

“Ugh, you’re such an airplane mom,” my daughter said to me one afternoon.

I can’t remember what we were discussing, or what I was reminding her to do or take with her out the door, but it took me just a split second to realize that she was searching for the term “helicopter mom,” and accidentally tossed out the name of the wrong aircraft.

Helicopter Mom? No way. Not me.

That remark stung a little because regardless of whether you are referring to wings or a propeller, I have really tried to be a mom who is empowering. And while I’m a pretty far cry from the free-range parenting fields of milk and honey, I’m certainly not a hovering, smothering helicopter mom.

Or am I? 

The realization set in further when I got the memo that my daughter would not be able to take her phone on the middle school youth retreat for our church. While she was 100% fine with this little detail, it left me panicked. Not because I was afraid of missing an update from her Pinterest board, but if she could not take her phone, then I would not be able to sit on my couch and track her every move up the mountain on the Life 360 app.

And if I could not track her every move, how in the world would I know when (and if, gracious, if!) she made it to the top of the mountain? And certainly, there was no way she could make it to the top of that mountain without me watching her little bubble move and willing her there the whole way, right? 

And then there are the daily reminders. Did you put on sunscreen? Brush your teeth? Put on deodorant? Remember your umbrella? Perhaps the reason for the incessant reminders is the fact that half the time the answers to these questions is “no,” and I’m just a wee bit concerned that having a sunburned, stinky, soaking wet kid would lead to tears, complaining, and a whole host of other avoidable unpleasantries. 

But where is the fine line? Aren’t those reminders and that amount of parental concern part of the job description of a mom?

I suppose the difference comes down to control. I may be just a tiny bit of a control freak and feel the need to orchestrate my own life and that of those closest to me as best I can. Perhaps I’m more of an air traffic control mom rather than a helicopter mom.

I say that because it’s not that I don’t want my kids to leave the house. I truly want my children to go out into the great world and have meaningful experiences without me around and come to learn life lessons on their own. I would just like to control those experiences so that things like human traffickers, car accidents, tsunamis and packs of angry wild wolves are not in the picture.

But, alas, I know it’s not my job to control those things, which is probably why I work so hard to control the small things still within my sphere of influence.

As an over-thinker who imagines a variety of consequences for every situation, I just need to stop and realize that while it’s okay to have rules and boundaries in place that will safeguard my kids from inherent danger, at some point I have to let go.

I have to trust that she will know from all those years of parenting that have already happened that things like seatbelts and deodorant and using the buddy system when going to the restroom in a giant sports arena are non-negotiables. And that wrapping her in bubble wrap is not going to do any good.

As you might imagine, my daughter returned home from that youth retreat safely. And I didn’t ruin my weekend by hunkering down over an app-tracker.

Perhaps it is possible to relinquish control every once in a while. If I’m going to make it through this next phase of parenting, I’m going to have to remember that my place is not in the air traffic control tower.

But I’m still going retain my mom-license to send those gentle reminders over the loudspeaker. She might just be listening to them – especially in the event of turbulence. 

Do you find yourself falling into the category of helicopter mom?

How to Empower Your Husband to Be an Awesome Father

There are several accomplishments that I’m proud of in my six years of marriage, but the thing that brings my heart the most joy is watching my husband be an amazing dad. Our daughters, who are two and four, absolutely adore spending time with him. From running around in the backyard to watching a movie in their couch fort, those daddy-daughter moments are beyond precious.

I have to admit, though, that I’ve been very intentional about fostering their bond.

Whether it’s logistics, personality, or just an innate maternal connection, moms tend to become the “default parent.” This is the case in our family because my husband has a demanding work schedule and I’m a stay-at-home mom. So not only do I get more parenting practice, but I have a natural rhythm with my daughters purely from spending more time with them.

With that in mind, I take steps to maximize the interactions between my husband and my kids.

Here are a few easy ways you can make sure that your husband has plenty of chances to flex his dad muscles.

Redirect Your Kids

When your husband is home, you can start by consciously redirecting your kids to him. It drives me crazy when we’re both sitting on the couch and my kids still come to me with every little request. I always make a point to remind them that their dad is also available and equally capable of everything I am. He can feed them snacks, help them put on their shoes, and have a tea party with them. He can even do their hair!

Training your kids to go to their dad is important for establishing him as an equal caregiver and authority figure.

Trust His Judgment

I had to accept years ago that my husband’s brain doesn’t operate exactly like mine because we’re different people. As long as we agree on the same fundamental parenting ideals, like teaching our kids manners and treating them with respect, I try not to micromanage all of his decisions. We’ll all survive if he cuts their sandwich into rectangles instead of triangles.

Sometimes my husband will ask me a question when he’s unsure of himself. That’s understandable because I have a bit more insight into our kids’ habits, but if there isn’t one definite answer, I’ll ask him, “what would you do if I wasn’t here?”

If you want your spouse to feel like an equal parent, you have to treat him like one. That includes making a million trivial choices and figuring some things out on his own.

Dad Time

You can also designate time for your kids to spend with just their dad. Whether this means you disappear for a few hours or he takes them on an outing, the only way your husband can become a confident parent is with experience.

In our family, “dad time” can be anything from making pancakes to going to the park to running errands together. It doesn’t have to be a grand outing each time; just step aside and let him handle things alone.

Aside from improving the father/child dynamic, parenting solo will help your husband realize how much effort actually goes into keeping your little ones occupied and happy. I know that my husband appreciates my patience even more after he’s spent an entire day with our kids.

Compliments

Although making special memories is a reward in itself, I try to give my husband genuine compliments about his parenting. I know that I like to hear when I’m doing a good job. Don’t you? The more positive feedback he receives, the more self-assured he’ll be as a father and the stronger our family will be.

I’m far from a perfect mother, but parenting is a skill and the more practice you have, the better you become. If your husband is struggling to feel like a wonderful father, give him plenty of opportunities to sharpen his skills and always acknowledge his efforts.

How do you and your spouse share parenting duties? What have you done to help empower your husband to be an awesome father?

My Body Image :: A Confesssion

Some days I look in the mirror and I like what I see.

Other days I look in the mirror and I hate what I see.

Rarely, if ever, do I look in the mirror and love what I see.

It’s always been this way and I fear it always will be. Feeling good about my body has never been my strong suit.

I grew up overweight and self-conscious, and I’ve just kind of stayed that way ever since. Always feeling awkward and out of place. Always feeling like people are judging me for the way I look.

I wish I didn’t feel that way but I do.

The only time in my life I’ve ever actually felt remotely happy with how I looked was when I was struggling with an eating disorder. I wouldn’t eat anything. Or, I’d eat a tiny bit of food and then take laxatives to get rid of it. I went from a size 10 to a size 0/2 very quickly and in an extremely unhealthy manner.

I thought I was happy because I was finally skinny and getting noticed by men. I felt wanted and desired and like people finally thought I was attractive. But I was lying to myself. Even when I was at my smallest, I still saw so many imperfections when I looked in the mirror.

My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) saw what was happening. He helped me believe in myself and encouraged me to get healthy. But that meant eating again and possibly gaining weight. On purpose. And it was not easy.

Since we’ve been married, I’ve had two children. As you can imagine, my weight has gone up and down from pregnancy. I’ve dieted more times than I’d like to count. My weight has continued to go up and down for years. So. Many. Years.

Sometimes I get to a point where while I may not be the weight I’d like to be, I feel satisfied with where I am. But that’s usually very short-lived.

A few months ago my husband and I decided to take a new class together at our local YMCA, where we are members. It’s similar to a Cross Fit class. Within a month I started to see areas of my body looking more toned, and I was hopeful.

However, I wasn’t losing any weight. But I thought that if I could burn fat and tone my body more that maybe it wouldn’t matter that I didn’t lose weight. I could stay the same weight but have a stronger and fit looking body. Maybe I could finally let that number on the scale go. Maybe.

But then I saw my husband start to lose weight and look more trim and fit. And I still wasn’t. I was back to square one and feeling sorry for myself again. And wishing. Always wishing I could lose more weight and look better. And, even wishing it wouldn’t bother me so much.

But it’s never that easy. Not for me.

I wish I wasn’t so obsessed with the number I see on the scale. I wish I could just once look in the mirror and be completely satisfied with what I see. I wish I could really and truly love what I see.

I’m envious of women I know and see around me who exude confidence and who are so proud of who they are and what they look like. All those women who love their bodies and don’t care what anyone else thinks. I’m jealous because I don’t know how to do that. And I’m not sure I ever will.

I wish I didn’t scrutinize my appearance in the mirror every single day. I wish I didn’t step on the scale every single day and feel upset over what I see. I also wish I didn’t analyze every single piece of food that goes into my mouth. But I do. I do all of that each and every day.

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “This woman needs to see a counselor and get help.” Or, maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “I feel the exact same way.”

I’m not sure which you are but if you’re the latter, you can relate to all I’m saying. I wish I had encouraging words to offer to help you through. But the truth is, I’m a 39-year-old woman who is pretty much never happy with her body no matter how much she weighs. So, I’m not the best person to offer advice. After all, this is my body image confession.

But, I will say this: When you do have these days where you look in the mirror and like what you see, enjoy it. Revel in it because those are the days you need to hang onto. Remember those good moments on the bad days when you hate what you see. Even if yours and my views of our bodies never permanently change, at least we will have those few glimmering moments to enjoy.

And maybe, just maybe, even feel confident in our bodies.

Do you struggle with loving your body?

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