Take Summer Out With a Bang With LivingSocial #Giveaway

living social

I am super-excited to bring you a sponsored giveaway from LivingSocial! All opinions are my own.

You guys KNOW I love a deal, so when LivingSocial debuted a few years ago, I was on it like white on rice. If there is an event or activity my family wants to do nearby, I always hit LivingSocial first to make sure there’s not an awesome deal. We’ve done some really fun family activities on the cheap with LivingSocial including our favorite local waterpark, bowling, and mini-golf! Bobby and I have also had some frugal date nights by purchasing LivingSocial vouchers for some local restaurants. And – beyond local, I’ve gotten some great deals on gifts at LivingSocial, too! I even got my Costco Membership for an awesome price there!

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Another fun way I use LivingSocial is by checking out their local deals when we go on vacation! I’ve added some bang to our vacation budget by finding LivingSocial vouchers for family fun activities and eateries in the town we’re vacationing in! Bonus!

If you haven’t tried LivingSocial yet, you are REALLY missing out! So,  I am going to give you some incentive. To celebrate the end of summer and making the most of what’s left of fun in the sun, I’m giving away $50 in Deal Bucks to LivingSocial!! Whoop whoop! It’s easy to enter: simply leave a comment below telling me the BEST deal you’ve ever gotten on LivingSocial. If you’ve never tried it, go to your local LivingSocial page and tell me which deal you most want to purchase.

One winner will be chosen at random on Thursday, August 6 at 6pm EST. GOOD LUCK!! Don’t forget to share this giveaway – and the LivingSocial love – with all your friends!

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And then yoga made me cry.

Just when I think I’m starting to get a handle on this whole menopause thing, something ridiculous happens to prove me wrong.

Yesterday I went to my first post-surgery yoga class. Up until now, I’ve been making a point to stay active, making sure I’m hitting my goal on my activity tracker each day, but I hadn’t really done anything except walk and play catch with Baseball Sammy. I thought I would ease my way back into it with yoga – something I love and had been fairly accustomed to at one point.

But as soon as I hit the mat, I could tell things weren’t the same. Nothing hurt per se, but everything was just different. As strange as it sounds, I couldn’t inhale the way I used to. I couldn’t get my lower abdomen to expand enough to take a deep yoga breath.

That’s when I started crying.

Even though evidence from the past two months points to the contrary, I am not a crier! That is Jenny’s role in our relationship, and as you know we try maintain our status as polar opposites.

But I sure was one yesterday. I think it was a combination of the realization that my body has actually been through a pretty significant alteration recently and processing some of the emotion I hadn’t really brought to the surface until I was in the quiet, intentional space that is yoga class.

It was so frustrating to me that my body wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do. I eventually sorted out, though, how lucky I am that my situation is temporary. I have no reason to believe that it won’t improve with time and practice, and plenty of people don’t have that light at the end of the tunnel.

If nothing else, this entire surgery/recovery experience has been a lesson in compassion and gratefulness that I desperately needed, and that’s something I want to make sure I don’t lose sight of as regular life resumes.

In the meantime, I am just glad people keep their eyes closed in yoga class, so only the teacher will think I’m crazy!

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Oh, Hi, Downtime. I Vaguely Remember You.

My family and I are on vacation at my parents’ house in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And it. is. fantastic! See?

porch view

The view from the front porch is pretty bangin’.

This has been a weird summer with me working from home, squeezing in 30 hours of work with just 14 hours of childcare, and still taking the kids to all their camps, summer school, VBS, speech therapy, and other activities that they want to do. I get up at 5:45 so I can get work done before they wander downstairs. I tell them they can’t get out of bed until 8, since they all still don’t know how to sleep in (although that’s not quite fair, Joshua WOULD if Jonah would let him, but alas, they share a room.)

So, basically, I have never needed a vacation SO BAD in my LIFE. And I am super-thankful for this week with my fam to REST and chillax.

I love my job, and I love my family, but I can’t wait to get back to the school schedule so that I feel like LESS of a CRAZY PERSON!

26 more days for the big kids, but I am still not sure how many days ’til Jonah goes back, because it’s always different for the preschool than it is for the elementary. But for this mama, it can’t be soon enough! I am ready for me work-life balance to go from non-existent to at least kind of existent.

In the meantime, I am soaking up this week with my beautiful family in this beautiful place!

 

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Replacing My Hormones

In this week’s installment of Emily’s Adventures Through Menopause…

I’ve started hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

And I will tell you more at some point but right now I’m going to interrupt the regularly scheduled boring post because OMG you guys, in an effort to add some pizzazz to my drivel I just did a google image search for menopause, and I must share the results. Because I am scarred for life and I want you to be too.

Let’s start by looking at the symptoms of menopause, so we know how to interpret the rest of the pictures.

MIU menopause 1

So, to recap, anything you can dream up? Probably a symptom of menopause. (Also, electric shocks? Burning tongue? W. T. F.) (My god, changes in odor?!? This just keeps getting worse.)

Now for the first picture. I’m gonna assume she’s experiencing incontinence, bloating, and/or panic disorder. Probably all three.

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Picture two, which I like to call “Watch Out, Menfolk.”

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Picture three. I just don’t even have anything to say about this one.

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Picture four. “I am devastated. I am experiencing loss of libido and vaginal dryness. But fortunately I have a supportive partner who likes to lounge around in all white clothing to support me.”

MIU menopause 3

“Unstoppable desire to rip off ones clothes” and “Inhuman skin color” must be symptoms 35 and 36.

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There’s this.

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And then there’s this.

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HILARIOUS. I’m ordering t-shirts with both of those images on them – let me know if you want one as well. (Where is the sarcasm font when I need it?)

Nearly every other picture was of a woman holding her head. I am not even joking. Either debilitating migraines are in my future or the menopause people and the headache people got a two-for-one deal with the stock photo people.

MIU menopause collage 2

MIU menopause collage 1

And I had to save the best for last.

MIU menopause 16

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Inferior Parent Alert!

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Bobby and Joshua are currently on a father-son trip. This is their third year to go to Audiofeed Music Festival, listen to loud music, eat canned beans, and bond. Subsequent children get to join when they are 10, so right now it’s just the two of them. One subsequent child named Jonah is super-pissed that Daddy and Joshua have left him alone with ME (and Sophie).

From last night’s epic “I want Daddy and Joshua to come home” pre-bedtime meltdown:

jonah losing it

THE HORROR!

Jonah LOST HIS MIND. He is very, very attached to Joshua, and he really, really, wants Daddy to put him to bed every night and spend every minute that he’s not at work with him.

Because…DADDY is the FUN parent.

Last weekend I went away to my 15-year college reunion (let’s  NOT talk about the fact that I am old as dirt right now, k?). Let me just say that while I was gone, the kids were with their dad and NO tantrums were thrown by ANYONE about my absence. AND when I got home, Bobby and the kids were out, so I was by myself for a bit. When they got home and we were lovingly reunited after 48 hours apart, the FIRST thing Jonah said to me, the FIRST thing out of his sweet little lips was:
“I want you to go work.”

What the FISHITY FISH!??! Knife. In. Heart.

Clearly Jonah knows that the fun stops when Mommy enters the building.

This week, on Tuesday, we were enjoying a nice family dinner and near the end of it Jonah said: ”Mommy are you going to go to the store?” (I had gone to the grocery the previous night after dinner.)

Me: No

Jonah: I want you to go bye bye and go to the store!

Bobby: Is it because you think Daddy’s going to let you play video games?

Jonah: Yeah.

INGRATE! So carrying you for 9  months, nursing you for two years, and meeting EVERY SINGLE NEED YOU HAVE EVER means nothing apparently. Seriously, the parent who knows his #$%! shoe size, makes all his meals and SLAVES over trying to get him caught up on his language should get SOME points, right?

Nope.

I give.

All hail the fun parent. I’ll just be over here folding the laundry.

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Stay Safe with Kidde

June is home safety month, which is fitting because summer is rife with opportunities for kids to hurt themselves.

Looking back on several of the “exciting” things that have happened to us, it seems to fit:
- Sam stuck a pretzel up his nose, landing himself in the emergency room – August 2010
- Sam busted his head running around with friends, ditto on the emergency room – May 2011
- Sam sprayed himself in the eye with spray paint, called poison control – July 2014

I’m sure there are more examples that I’m forgetting. See also: boys.

Of course, summer is when we tend to spend more time away from home as well. But even when we’re not there, we want to keep an eye on our house, kids and pets – enter the RemoteLync from Kidde.

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The RemoteLync listens for a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm and then uses wifi to alert the homeowner on iOS and Android-compatible devices.

It works with existing alarms, doesn’t require a monthly fee, and is easy to set up. I plugged ours in, downloaded the app, and got connected all within 10 minutes.

When an alarm is detected, the RemoteLync sends an email and/or text message to designated people, who can then directly call 911, temporarily silence the warning, or call a friend or neighbor to check things out.

Here’s the test text message I received.

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A few things I like about the RemoteLync:
- It’s reasonably priced. The RemoteLync can be purchased at Home Depot for $99.
- There are no hidden costs. It doesn’t require a subscription or monthly fee.
- It’s easy to set up. Just plug it in, download the app, and go through a brief set up. Like I said, the whole thing took me less than 10 minutes.
- One device monitors an entire home. It’s designed to cover the average-sized US home, approximately 2200 square feet.
- It provides peace of mind. You’ll be the first to know if something goes wrong at your house.

We all know how important fire safety is in our homes. The RemoteLync from Kidde adds another layer of protection so we can act quickly even when we’re away from home.

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This post was sponsored by Kidde. All opinions are my own.

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5 Foolproof Ways to Have a Really Awesome Summer

Dear Joshua, Sophie, and Jonah,

Hey kids! I’ve got some great ideas on how to make this the Best. Summer. EVAH! You know as a mom I have struggled in the past with having you home all summer and up in my GRILL,  but those days are GONE. I’ve come up with 5 ways to make this summer super-tastic and I think if we all work together on these, we are gonna have a GREAT time. Ready? Here goes!

5

1) Get up early

Listen up, pups. You know I get up at 5:45 every day to work while you’re sleeping, but the truth is that the whole time I am drinking my coffee and being super-productive, I am longing to see your little faces and be constantly interrupted. Plus, there are SO MANY EXCITING SUMMER  THINGS happening in the WEE HOURS of the morning, you just do NOT wanna miss it. So PLEASE, do not sleep any later than 7:30 a.m. every day or our summer is gonna SUCK.

2) Ask me for stuff constantly

Just because you’re old enough to make your own cereal, use the microwave, and get yourself dressed doesn’t mean I still don’t want to do EVERYTHING for you. I’m a MOM,  even though I have a work from home job now. If you fail to interrupt me every 5 minutes to look at your latest bug bite or tell me a really annoying story or ask me to do something that you can totally do for yourself, I will FORGET WHO I AM and become completely depressed. Please do not under any circumstances attempt to be independent!

3) Beg me to have a friend over at least 3 times a day

School’s out! YAY! I love summer! Except for when I remember I won’t spend all day, every day with my friends! Easy solution to this one kiddos. I LOVE to be nagged, I also love to moderate play dates when I’m trying to do my job, SO – please request the presence of a friend at least 3x daily, or I might think that our house and yard full of toys is enough to keep you content and  busy. Also, please pick the friend that lives the farthest away to avoid any attempts at convenience.

4) Fight with each other

There’s nothing worse than peace and quiet on a summer afternoon so for the love of all that’s holy, PLEASE BICKER ON A REGULAR BASIS. If you need tips on how to get a row started, let me know. If you don’t give me a fight to break up I’m going to a) get super bored and b) have really low blood pressure and c) be extra-productive at work and possibly break the internet so – start being jerks to each other, STAT!

5) Say you’re bored

This just in: I LIVE TO ENTERTAIN. And since we’ve already established that I have nothing better to do, y’all need to keep me hopping by claiming  boredom so I can come up with a huge list of activities to combat that. BONUS POINTS if you reject ALL my ideas and go back to doing what you were doing before you claimed boredom.

Are you ready for some FUN, kids? I’m sorry I wasted 3 weeks of summer before coming up with these,  but we’ve still got 56 more days to rock these five steps out to the MAXIMUM! Don’t let me down!

Love,

Mom

 

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Incision Indecision

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So… I am starting to feel better, but as it turns out it’s really easy to not do much when one feels like crap, but harder to rest and recuperate when one feels slightly less like the walking dead.

In other words, I think I’m doing a little too much.

Which is bad, because really I’m not doing much of anything. I am caught in this conundrum between feeling really lazy and useless and, well, being concerned I’m opening up my incision.

I have like zero stamina and get so worn out after doing anything as complicated as going to the grocery. I just can’t imagine ever feeling like myself again, as ridiculous as that sounds. I can’t picture ever being able to do yoga or play tennis or whatever. I know intellectually that I will be able to, but my body feels really far off from that right now.

And OMG THE HOT FLASHES.

What HAPPENED to me??

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It’s not too late to get started with Brain Chase!

Brain Chase logo

I’ve talked about BrainChase.com a couple times lately, and I wanted to give those of you who may be on the fence about it a couple more pieces of information.

First of all, the key to summer is flexibility, right? Brain Chase is right there with you on that, and no matter if your kids are going to camp or participating in sports or if you’re traveling the country, Brain Chase is designed to fit in to you schedule. Kids spend about five hours a week for five weeks participating in the challenge, on their own schedule, and it’s web-based, so they can do it from wherever they are. And, if they fall behind, Brain Chase allows them to catch up on past weeks (although they can’t work ahead!).

Brain Chase is a great way to supplement experiential, outdoor fun with screen time that is meaningful and educational. It’s not too late to register! In addition to the regular pricing package ($199 for the first registration, and then $100 for each sibling), Brain Chase has now begun offering their premium pricing package ($249 for the first registration, and then $149 for each sibling). The premium package includes Brain Chase registration plus a Brain Chase-branded adventure backpack, a Brain Chase t-shirt and Sunstone of Cortés patch. Later in the summer, these items will be available for a la carte purchase.

Check out what the New York Times has to say about Brain Chase here or this short video.

I’m excited for Kate and Sam to get started on Brain Chase!

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This post was written in partnership with Brain Chase and TheMotherhood.com.

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What My Grandmother Taught Me Without Saying a Word

grandma and jack 2

My grandma turned 90 years old a couple of months ago, on April 6, 2015. A few weeks later, my cousin Anna snapped this photograph proving she is still young at heart.

Grandma swinging 2

It was the first birthday she spent away from home. Though we celebrated her at my mother’s house and had a wonderful time, I know we all wished we were celebrating her as we usually did, at her green house across the street from our favorite park.

Grandma's House

But about 4 months ago, due to early Alzheimer’s, Grandma had to move into an assisted living cottage. As we were going through some of her things at her beloved home to see what keepsakes we might want, as we were running our fingers over her memory-laden dining room table one last time, as we stood together as cousins in the emotion-filled rooms where we also became friends, I began to think about all the lessons I have learned in that house. It dawned on me bit by bit, memory by memory, that my Grandma taught me about what is really important in life – the most profound, meaningful lessons a child can carry into adulthood. And she did it all her way, which is, without saying a word.

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No, my Grandma is not mute. She is quiet, but she talks perfectly well. It’s just that she’s the kind of person who shows and teaches by doing. The consistent actions of this quiet woman assured that she’d never need to deliver a lecture.

Every Sunday for my entire life, and indeed, long before I was born, Grandma’s family gathered at her house Sunday afternoons. She cooked us a smorgasbord of food: meat loaf, biscuits, green beans, corn, pork chops, roasts, cauliflower salad, fried chicken, and always, always desserts: chocolate pound cake, Hershey pie, home made cookies and apple pies and an endless supply of ice cream.

grandma cooks

 

She spent all morning cooking and always had the big table and the kids’ table set for a crowd. She made sure everyone had their plates and glasses filled and rarely sat down to eat herself until everyone else was almost done. When she was doing for us, she was truly in her element.

grandma table food

And she loved every minute of it.

By serving us cheerfully and tirelessly, my Grandma taught me that there is great joy and value in serving others. 

After lunch and more dessert than necessary at Grandma’s we kids would run off to play. Grandma, who had just served lunch and dessert to a minimum of 10-12 people, never cleaned up a dish or accepted help with the dishes in our presence. She preferred to sit and enjoy her company and clean up the mess when her house was empty again. A dozen or two plates, ice cream bowls, glasses, sets of silverware, and serving dishes sat there for hours until all her company had left with a grocery bag stuffed with aluminum-wrapped leftovers, and then, and only then, did she tend to them.

By saving the clean-up until after we were gone, my Grandma taught me to savor each moment with the people you love, and to prioritize time with loved ones over the “clean dishes” of life.

jack at gma table

Grandma loves children and she absolutely delighted – I cannot think of a more fitting word – in her five grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren. She was definitely one of my very favorite playmates. She would play hide-and-seek with us for eons, never tiring, and finding the most creative hiding places.

grandma hide n seek

“Here I come with big eyes open,” she’d say loudly in a sing-song voice. It was then that we knew the hunt was on and we’d better not move a muscle.

Even into her 80s she would get down on the floor with my children and play blocks or ball or whatever they wanted. Grandma was game, no matter the game. If we wanted to do it, so did she.

grandma and Lily 2

Grandma loved to play with us. With us.

By prioritizing play with me as a child, my Grandma taught me the paramount significance of playing with my own children, and of speaking a child’s love language.

Grandma And Jack

Though Grandma loved to play with us, she was, as I have mentioned, a quiet person. Sometimes we could get her to talk and tell the old stories but mostly she preferred to listen. When I struggle with patience when my daughter verbally details and categories every last mosquito bite on her body, I think of the way my Grandma would sit silently at the dinner table with us, not talking much, but very much engaged, listening to everything every one of us had to say. I think of the way now, with her hearing going, she leans in and concentrates when my children want to tell her something, because she wants to hear it. It is not manners that dictate her behavior, but true interest in what each of us has to say. She has no motivation, as I often do, to pepper the conversation with witticisms and draw a few laughs. She doesn’t want to be the center of attention, but she’s excellent at giving attention.

By listening thoughtfully to me, my Grandma taught me that what I had to say had value, and that listening to someone who needs to talk is a gift.

My Grandma now lives in a small room in an assisted living cottage. I take my kids to see her about every other week. Because of her Alzheimer’s, she may forget a name or say something a little wacky, but she is for the most part, the Grandma I know, and I am thankful. She still went down the slide at the park with my kids today (and almost got stuck), she still scrounges up some candy or a drink to feed us as best she can, and she still listens intently to everything we have to say – even if she can’t hear. But the truth is, there is a time coming when, even though she may be living still, I will not have my Grandma anymore.

And that pains me more than I can say. I would love to be eloquent about it, but all I can say is – it really hurts.

But below, above, and around the hurt there is gratefulness. There is serving joyfully, playing with abandon, knowing and doing what really matters in life and saving the small potatoes for later, and there is listening to others and showing them they matter.

Those are values I will always possess, and when I intentionally act them out every day with my loved ones, I will have my Grandma with me.

I will always have the things she taught me without saying a word.

Thank you to Anna for the beautiful photographs.

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