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We’re a Frozen Nugget Kind of Family

 

No seriously, frozen nuggets. As in, he opens the freezer pulls out the bag of Tyson Dinosaur Nuggets, and starts gnawing on it like a frozen ice pop. And when you stare at him in complete horror (as any sane human would) he looks at you and says “What?” as though he was nibbling on an apple.

 

The first time I saw him do this I screamed with panic and had him spit it out and throw it away instantly as I grabbed my phone and googled what kind of parasite I just knew was going to be growing from his body.

 

Turns out… I got nothing. Zilch. Nada. Zero parasites coming his way. Thanks a lot, Google, anytime I have a sore thumb I’m next in line for amputation due to some rare disease but when my son is chowing down on frozen nuggets you give me nothing!

 

So when the next time came, because of course, it was going to, and he grabbed the bag and happily snacked away… I realized… he’s just fine.

 

There is so much information out there about what to feed your kids, what not to feed your kids, both in utero and out. So much information that it is causing arguments from all sides and actual divides between people and judgment, so much judgment. And here’s the deal, no matter what you choose, they’re going to be fine.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying let your kids run amuck in the frozen food aisle or chug a 12-pack of Sprite, but what I am saying is that maybe instead of us focusing on the foods we are steering them toward or from we should focus on the relationships we are creating with them and food. Those relationships and mindsets will far outlast their desire to sneak Halloween candy at 7 am. Those attitudes and views toward food will carry them into adulthood and help them cultivate a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Everything in moderation right?


My son may eat frozen chicken nuggets but he also picks fruit over candy, has never had soda, and isn’t a big bread fan (the last part makes me think he’s not mine).
The point? Balance. They’re kids. They’re not going to love everything you want them to and you’re not going to love everything they do.

They will survive. They will be healthy. They will be happy. Give them grace for being kids and having quirky habits and tastes and move forward. Because one day they’ll be grown-ups eating kale salads and lemon water and you can remind them of their frozen chicken-eating days. 

What I Know About the Enneagram

Let me preface this by saying I’ve been in a small group for a few months now, where we are studying the enneagram and how it can help us understand ourselves and others better, thus allowing us to extend grace to others. We have been using the study guide written by Suzanne Stabile, who has been studying the enneagram for 30 years. You may be familiar with a couple of her books: The Road Back to You & The Path Between Us

Before I go further, some of you may be wondering what the heck the enneagram is. It’s a nine-sided figure used in a particular system of analysis to represent the spectrum of possible personality types. It describes how we see the world and manage our emotions. It describes how we relate to each other. It’s about our motivation or why we do the things we do. 

In addition to the number types, there are also wings and stress & security numbers. We all have dominance in one number. Some of us aren’t 100% one number. We take on some of the characteristics of a wing number. The wings are the numbers on either side of our dominant number. Someone that is a Peacemaker, or type 9, can have some characteristics of the Challenger (#8) or they can have some characteristics of the Reformer (#1). In times of stress, the Peacemaker can take on Loyalist (#6) tendencies. In times of growth, the Peacemaker can take on Achiever (#3) tendencies.

The enneagram has been around for thousands of years. It has roots in Greece and Babylon. Contrary to the budding popularity of it these days, it’s actually been around for a long time. No, it’s not hokey or some form of voodoo. 

The enneagram has been used for personal, professional and spiritual growth. No, it’s not for everybody, but I like it. It works for me. I am understanding myself better, as well as my family, friends & coworkers. And with that understanding, I can better myself. As Suzanne Stabile says, “We need to be about the business of growing & changing”.

Now, do you want to know what number I am? Some of you that know me may not be surprised that I’m the Investigator (#5). Another name for it is the Observer. 

The Investigator is naturally withdrawn and hoards their time (or other resources) from others. They’re also independent and don’t like asking for help. It’s interesting that out of me and my four siblings, the two Investigators are the ones that moved the furthest away from home. 

Avarice is my passion. Avarice is greed, but this is avarice for time, energy, feelings, information, affection or other resources. I’m constantly calculating how much time and energy things are going to cost me. I fool myself into thinking I need to conserve my energy, but in reality it only heightens my anxiety to detach myself from others. My mantra to better myself is “It’s okay to engage with others”. If you only knew how true this is for me! Ha!

Every number has one of three repressed centers: thinking, feeling or doing. Mine is doing. I would rather think about something first, then feel it, and forego doing anything about it. My husband is a Peacemaker (#9), and his repressed center is also doing. What a combination! If we can work on what we repress, we can become a healthier version of ourselves. Yes, each number has a healthy version, a normal version and an unhealthy version. 

The last thing I want to mention about the Investigator is that I desire knowledge, but I never feel competent enough. This is true when I’m working on presentations for work or when I’m diagnosing my kids’ sicknesses, for example. I’ve learned that I should be focused on wisdom more than knowledge, which is just putting that knowledge to practice. At some point I should stop researching and DO. 

I should add that the enneagram should not be used as an excuse for your bad habits. Everyone has the ability to improve their flaws, and should. You should also not try to type others, as you don’t truly know their motivation. Yes, it’s fun to try and guess, but don’t take it to heart and definitely don’t share those thoughts with strangers. The police that pulls you over for speeding may not appreciate you telling them that you think they’re an 8. Lastly, taking an online test for your enneagram number is not suggested. While it can yield accurate results, not all tests are created equal and you may feel stressed at the time you take the test, which can skew the result. If you want to start somewhere, check out the books mentioned above. 

What are your thoughts on the enneagram?

Know Where to Go: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This post has been written and sponsored by Attorney Katherine Mazaheri at Mazaheri Law Firm, to provide valuable information to our readers!

As a lawyer, I often encounter people in the worst moments of their lives. Many times in a consultation, people pour out their pain, their struggles with issues of domestic violence and/or abuse at home or with a significant other. As an advocate, I empathize with them, and I am dismayed by how many of these clients are unaware of their rights under Oklahoma law. My compassion for survivors of domestic abuse and violence led me to become a proud board member of the YWCA of Oklahoma City. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, and as a YWCA board member, wife, mother, and a family lawyer, I want to take this moment to inform all Oklahoma City Moms: if you are in a situation of domestic abuse or violence, there is assistance, there is hope, and there is a way out to a different life. Mothers, if you have been beaten down physically or emotionally, let me tell you right now that there are ways out and people to reach out to. These attorneys, organizations, and resources are your allies in finding a better life free from abuse.

YWCA of Oklahoma City

At its core, the YWCA is a provider of emergency crisis-intervention services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The YWCA provides many crisis programs for victims of domestic violence, but the first step for a victim should be to call the YWCA safeline at 1-800-522-7233. Advocates are available 24/7 and will assist you with your immediate needs and help you plan an escape from a difficult situation at home or with a partner if needed.

Victims of domestic violence in Oklahoma County may also have access to the Thelma Gaylord emergency shelter. It is the only certified shelter for women and children in Oklahoma County. If you, either alone or with your children, are fleeing from violence at home and need somewhere safe to stay, reach out to this hotline at (405) 917-9922.

If a domestic violence survivor wishes to press charges against their abuser, the YWCA will provide advocates to assist them with court services, filing, accompanying them to court when appropriate, and anything else that may come up, explains Laura McDonald, Director of Domestic Violence Victims Assistance Program with the YWCA of Oklahoma City.  Survivors of domestic violence have many issues they need to work through, whether their abuse was coercive, emotional, financial, and physical, so the YWCA also provides access to various counseling groups and support services. For more information, check out the YWCA website.

McDonald explains that children of domestic violence survivors also have traumas that they need to work through. The YWCA also provides children access to counseling programs designed specifically for them to help them learn how to break the cycle of violence. These programs give children tools to live a healthier life.

Leaving an abusive spouse can be a frightening notion, especially when the abusive spouse is the sole income earner. This is why the YWCA also provides financial help. The Economic Empowerment Program provides survivors with career and life skills, mentoring, and job placement so that survivors can recover from the financial toll of being in an abusive relationship.

Lastly, the YWCA provides specialized health care for survivors of sexual assault or rape. The YWCA employs specially trained domestic violence nurses that can examine you and help you through the healing process after trauma. These nurses specialize in collecting and preserving evidence after trauma. They provide strangulation assessments that document injuries, signs, and symptoms and give medical referrals if needed. The nurses provide these services at no charge through the YWCA, and without the necessity of having to press charges on the abuser.

Domestic ViolencePalomar Family Justice Center

The Palomar Family Justice Center is often referred to as the one-stop shop for survivors of domestic violence. They provide support for survivors, support for families, legal assistance, holistic healing, housing and financial assistance, and offender accountability services. The YWCA has advocates at Palomar available to assist clients. Many times, the YWCA and Legal Aid work hand-in-hand to provide services to victims. Check out their services page for more details on the services Palomar provides.

Attorneys

Our job is to be there for you in your time of need. We know how messy separation, divorce, and custody issues can get, and more so when issues of abuse or violence are involved. Our responsibility is to listen to you and help you decide what is in your best interest and in the best interest of your children. Our clients come to us because they know they can trust us. They know we will treat them with compassion and help them move forward from the worst moments in their lives. 

One thing our clients often ask us to help them with is Victim Protective Orders (VPOs). We stand with our clients from the onset of abuse or stalking. We help our clients fill out VPOs and file them. We then represent them to the utmost of our ability at their emergency hearings or VPO hearings in front of the judge. We understand how important it is to have these protective orders in place and how detrimental it can be to you and your family without them.

If you are facing domestic violence at home or with a significant other, please reach out to either of these organizations. If you know someone who is facing domestic violence at home, please share this information with them. Unfortunately, in 2018, Oklahoma ranked 3rd in the nation for its rate of women deaths at the hand of men. 97% of those deaths were by men the victim knew. You are not alone. We have to look out for each other, especially during this pandemic. COVID has raised issues with domestic violence services, both because victims have been unable to get help due to advocacy center closures and because domestic violence has increased/worsened due to stay-at-home recommendations.

If you need a VPO and would like help filing one, we are here to help you at Mazaheri Law. We have extensive experience in helping survivors and can help you take the next step to bettering your life moving forward.


Katherine Mazaheri-Franze is an Oklahoma City “law mom” of 4 children of a blended, multiracial, and multilingual family.  She has 5 year old boy/girl twins, a 7 year old, and a step-daughter currently attending the University of Oklahoma.

During the day, she works full time as Founder and Managing Attorney of the Mazaheri Law Firm and at night she’s an insta-pot home chef, boogie-monster eradicator, and trying to stay awake long enough to occasionally be the tooth fairy.

A portion of Katherine’s trial practice is devoted to assisting families in times of crisis. She assists clients with divorce, custody and visitation, property division, victim protective orders, and step-parent adoptions. Along with divorce, she assists couples in negotiation of pre-nuptial agreements and protection of assets.

Her heart for social justice has influenced her passion for employment litigation involving claims of wrongful discharge, sexual harassment/assault, employment discrimination (based on race, age, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, and disability), retaliation, as well as disputes involving wage and hour matters, medical leave, confidentiality and non-compete agreements, employee handbook and company policy violations and breaches of employment agreements.  As the Founder and Managing Attorney of the Mazaheri Law Firm she is proud of leading an all-female team of attorneys who for over a decade have gained a powerful reputation for taking on cases that attack various social injustices leading to extensive recoveries for clients with compassion and integrity.

 

Four Life Hacks For the Burned-Out Mom

The COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for seven months now. Yep, you read that right: SEVEN. MONTHS. 

And, if you’re like me, you’ve experienced moments of pure joy, extreme sadness, and basically every other emotion in between, sometimes all within the same day. (My sister refers to this as the “coronacoaster”.)

Back in the spring, I was full of hope and went through the “color-coded schedule” phase until summer came when I felt like I had pretty much given up on life. June, July, and August were not my friend. I felt extremely overwhelmed, overworked, and over-stressed. It was too hot to do anything and I had zero motivation. I was completely burned-out. Now that fall is here I am starting to get into a groove with our routine and I’m feeling much better. I came through the summer with a few tricks up my sleeve to help me (and my family) survive those seasons of having a burned-out mom at the helm. 

Teach Your Kids Independence

Yes, this takes months and even years of work but it is so worth it in the end! Before Baby #3 was born, I taught my six-year-old how to do her own laundry. I put stickers on the washer and dryer knobs so she would know where to turn them, instructed her on how to pour fabric softener, and that Tide Pods were NOT for eating. Now I can say, “Sis, go do your laundry,” and she can successfully start a load of clothes, switch them to the dryer, and sort them without any assistance! It has been a lifesaver!

Invest in Audiobooks

This summer I had very low energy; by the time bedtime came around Mommy was fifty shades of DONE. Inevitably, the kiddos would ask for a story and I would want to cry. I was wiped. I had a brilliant idea: get audiobooks from the library! I checked out several audiobooks, uploaded them to my laptop, and then transferred them to my phone. Now we could snuggle and listen to Eric Idle read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory without Mommy having a breakdown. And guess what? The kids LOVE it! They like listening to someone new read to them and they soak in those extra cuddles. 

Institute “Pantry Plate” Night

I don’t like cooking. I cook almost every single night but it is not something I particularly enjoy. Enter: “pantry plates”. “Pantry Plate Night” is when everyone chooses their own dinner. The only caveat is: it has to be an item that does NOT have to be cooked/prepped. For example, my son’s favorite meal on pantry plate night is a fruit bar, yogurt, goldfish crackers, and applesauce. My children thought this was so great because they were in charge of their meals! Added bonus: I felt less overwhelmed and also learned to let go. Plus, it was super helpful during the summer months when it was too hot to light the oven for dinner. 

Use Screen Time Wisely

I’m kind of a stickler when it comes to screen time. My kids only get their tablets in the late afternoon and I set a timer for how long they’re able to have them. For a while, I would use that time to get extra chores done. After all, it was the only time in which the kids were occupied and I could work without interruption. I soon realized, however, I needed to use that time to refresh and reset. Now when screen time starts, my kids know that they have to keep the volume down and stay in their rooms because Momma is resting. Some days I actually nap. Other days I’ll lay in bed and re-watch The Office for the seventy-third time. And, on other days, I’ll use that time to call a friend or write a blog post–ha!

These tricks helped me to get through one of the hardest parts of 2020 (for me). I loathe the overused phrase: “in these unprecedented times” but we are truly living through something we never thought would happen. We’re all stressed. We’re all worried about the future. We’re all struggling. Even if you’ve been handling things well for a while, there will come a time when you need a respite. You need to just “be”. There’s no shame in that, momma. This is just a season and you will get through it! 

 

Retainers and Your Teen

This post was written and sponsored by Dental Depot, to provide valuable information to our readers!

retainersFor all of us who have gone through orthodontic treatment – whether as teens or adults – there’s few things more freeing than the day the braces come off. A healthy, straight smile is the reward at the end of the road, but for many orthodontic patients, the road isn’t over just yet. In fact, most patients will need to maintain their smile for months or even years to come with the help of a retainer. And while some adults still struggle with regular retainer wear, it’s teens who have the biggest struggle when it comes to compliance. 

So, what’s a parent to do? First, educate yourself and your teen on what a retainer is, how it works, and why they should do their best to maintain compliance so they can enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile for life. Often, being transparent about the consequences of not wearing their retainer can go a long way towards maintaining compliance and proper care so they can enjoy their smile the rest of their life – without another round of orthodontics!

What is a retainer?

Retainers are most commonly divided into two categories – fixed and removable retainers. Both kinds of retainers have the same job – keeping your teeth in place post-orthodontic treatment so teeth don’t shift back to their original places.

A fixed retainer is a small metal bar that the orthodontist cements to the inner arch of the teeth to keep them secure. A fixed retainer requires special attention while brushing, and flossing is a necessity (as it should be for everyone – braces or not!). The flossing needed for fixed retainers is at least similar to how your teen would have flossed when they had braces on.

A removable retainer, often either a clear plastic aligner or a brightly colored piece of acrylic with wires (called a Hawley retainer), is most commonly worn by patients after treatment. While they’re called removable retainers, the retainer should only be removed for eating, drinking, and dental hygiene. Removable retainers have special care needs to keep them clean and sanitary, and we’ll cover that below.

How do retainers work?

Retainers are molded to match the final stage of orthodontic treatment, and will help keep teeth in place now that the braces have been removed. Because orthodontic treatment works by exerting constant, steady pressure to move teeth into place, it’s natural for teeth to want to shift back into their original positions without that force to keep them in place. Retainers will hold the teeth steady while they get used to their final position. 

Why should orthodontic patients wear their retainers?

  • Teeth Will Move Without It. The roots of our teeth shift without a retainer to maintain the bite, steadily undoing months or even years of orthodontic treatment.
  • Skipping Days Will Hurt. The longer your teen goes without their retainer, the more uncomfortable it will be when it’s time to put it back in. It’s easy to get discouraged when this happens, which is why regular wear is important to keep them comfortable and their teeth secure. Over the counter pain medications like ibuprofen can help ease the soreness and discomfort that comes from skipped days.
  • Their Teeth Will Be Healthier. Straight teeth are typically healthy teeth because they are easier to care for, while crooked teeth give plaque, tartar, and debris places to hide and can create cavities in hard-to-reach places.
  • Orthodontic Treatment is an Investment. Even if your insurance covered part or all of your teen’s orthodontic treatment, they shouldn’t let it go to waste by failing to wear a retainer as instructed. While extreme, some parents will make (or even just threaten) their teens to pay back a portion of their orthodontic treatment if they continue to fail at wearing their retainer.

Retainer Care and Maintenance

Retainers require quite a bit of care to keep them looking good and functioning well. The most important lesson you can impart on your teen is that if their retainer isn’t in their mouth, it should be in its case. In addition, the only time their retainer shouldn’t be in their mouth is when they’re eating, drinking (except for water), or cleaning their retainer. Because retainers are only plastic, they can’t handle the pressure our jaws exert while chewing, so it’s important not to eat with them in.

Cleaning removable retainers is pretty straightforward – dedicate a spare toothbrush for retainer cleaning, and brush it in the morning and then again at bedtime. Rinse off the retainer with water before putting in its case to rid it of saliva, or invest in an antibacterial case to keep it clean. Depending on the material of your teen’s retainer, your teen’s orthodontist will recommend the cleaning products that are most effective, as some can be cleaned with toothpaste and others with dish soap.

It’s also important for your teen to keep a travel toothbrush and toothpaste with them, so they can brush after every meal. If they skip brushing at lunch and put their retainers back in, they’re creating a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, plaque, and leftover food particles to hang out in until bedtime. You can tell when your teen has neglected to clean their retainer, as it becomes foggy and can even smell awful. If brushing the retainer isn’t doing enough, plan to soak it in a rinse made specifically for cleaning retainers.

Losing or damaging a retainer can be a costly mistake, so your teen should keep up with their retainer and case at all times. Countless retainers have met their end because they were wrapped in a napkin and thrown away, forgotten on a cafeteria lunch tray, or because the dog chewed it up. (That last one happens way more than you’d think, too!)

Retainers Aren’t Forever

We know that the call of appliance-free living is strong, especially after years in braces, but accepting a retainer as part of your teen’s new normal is a necessity. If your teen is having a particularly difficult time with compliance, remind them that retainers aren’t forever.

While every patient is different, most orthodontists instruct their patients to wear their retainers 24/7 for several months, and gradually move to nighttime only wear. Your teen’s orthodontist will explain how long retainers should be worn and the more compliant they are, the sooner than can enjoy their smile retainer-free. Regular retainer checks with your teen’s orthodontist will also help to track progress and crush goals to set your teen up for a healthy, beautiful smile that can truly last a lifetime.

 

 

 

5 Things to Know About Job Hunting During a Pandemic

What do you do when a global health crisis, civil unrest, racism, abundant conspiracy theories, and distance learning just aren’t challenging enough for you? You start looking for a job!

The truth is, all of those things were plenty challenging. However, they were happening at a time when I just happened to have more time at home to think than I used to. One of the problems with having more time to think is that you start questioning parts of your life that you didn’t want to acknowledge before.

Like, for instance, whether you’re satisfied with where your career is and where it is going. It seemed like such a privileged position to be in when people all around me were losing their jobs, but after three months of trying to shove the thoughts away, I finally let myself think them.

“Where do I see myself 5 years from now? Not here.”

I had no major issues with my job, and if you had asked me two years ago, I would have said I could stay there another 10 years or so. But there is something about living in the midst of history-making times that brings things into sharp focus. And the picture I was getting was that I was wasting time. So I started sending out resumes and filling out applications.

“Did you get the invite?”

I figured if anyone called me for an interview, it wouldn’t be too hard to navigate since I was working from home anyway. What I didn’t take into account was how nerve-wracking a Zoom interview would be. Sound and connection issues are challenging enough for Zoom conferences or happy hours or helping a school-age child integrate into their online classrooms. Thanks to quarantining I had learned a lot about attending meetings virtually. A virtual interview was uncharted territory.

“Can everyone hear me?”

Establishing rapport with people you’ve never met through tiny windows on a screen is nearly impossible. How do you make eye contact when no one can tell who you’re looking at? Sure, they can’t see your pants, but they can see your house. (Unless you use a virtual background; and where do virtual backgrounds fall on interview etiquette?) Was that lag in response because of the connection or was it an actual awkward pause? Participating in a Zoom interview really drove home the importance of being able to observe body language and take advantage of the natural flow of conversation.

“I promise, I’m smiling.”

Another new experience was socially-distanced, masked in-person interviews. While it was much easier to make eye contact and detect nonverbal cues in person, there were still some awkward hurdles to get over. What do you do when you can’t shake your interviewer’s hand? Waving seems frivolous; bowing seems dramatic if neither you nor the interviewer is from a culture where bowing is common.

I eventually settled on being overly enthusiastic with verbal greetings (somewhat necessitated by having to project my voice across a room through a piece of fabric). Not being able to tell if someone was smiling, because not everyone smiles with their eyes, added an interesting element to one of my interviews. When trying to build rapport, it is helpful to know if the joke you just told landed, and masks aren’t really conducive to that.

“5 Things Your Mask Tells Your Interviewer About You”

The pandemic has forced people to draw on or learn skills they never knew they would have to use. Amazingly, there are quite a few guides for job hunting in a pandemic. I ultimately ended up securing a new job but I can’t say if it was because of, or in spite of, the adaptations I had to make in this new environment. It has certainly given me even more of an appreciation for everyone who has had to adjust their protocols and find a way that works while trying to stay safe.

What are some of your experiences with job-hunting during a pandemic?

No, I’m NOT Sad to Be Leaving the “Baby Stage”.

I’ve always loved babies. I have pictures of myself at 11, holding and obsessing over tiny little babies. I took care of them every week at church and babysat all my friends’ kids for years. I had friends who just claimed they weren’t “baby people,” but oh, I was.

When I finally had my own babies, I was terrified to miss out on the precious, beautiful, SHORT period of time I had with baby coos and toothless grins (maybe I read one too many social media posts about women wishing they could go back to the baby stage).

However, I’m pleasantly surprised by all the treats I’m discovering on the exit ramp.

Exhausted but Blessed

Since I had two kids so close in age, I spent well over two years deep in the trenches of babyhood–changing diapers on two different humans, dealing with teething, tantrums, crawling babies trying to eat everything on the floor, waking up 3+ times per night, getting milk cups and snacks approximately 42 times a day, and knowing that any moment my eyeballs weren’t on my child, there was a strong possibility that they were in a truly mysterious and dangerous situation.

It was exhausting, but I was so blessed to be able to soak every minute of the chaos and cuteness up completely. And honestly, I loved it. I feared that I would painfully miss these days in a few years.

The baby and toddler stages are so precious. I would not trade one single second of my time with my babies for anything in the world.

But guess what I’ve discovered? I don’t want to go back.

You see, it is possible to enjoy something, and also move on.

A few months ago, my youngest turned three. For me, his birthday was a celebration that I had officially emerged from the baby years without truly traumatizing or damaging these two small humans.

This is a milestone worth a serious celebration. Seriously–why are we not celebrating this globally?

9 Reasons I’m Not Sad to Leave the Baby Stage

I’m getting off the babyhood highway and heading to big kid land. These are the eight top reasons I am not sad about being on the exit ramp:

  1. Kids can get their own water and snacks – and sometimes even brew my coffee. 
  2. They can follow directions – they don’t always want to follow directions, but the important thing is that I’m able to keep my butt planted firmly on the couch, where it belongs, and tell them where to find things, instead of having to do every tiny task myself.
  3. They can be left alone in a room without risking their lives – Do you know how many hours of my life I’ve gotten back, just from being able to stay in a different room than my kids? I basically have enough time to figure out how to put a rocket on Mars. 
  4. I get to watch them find their passions – Watching those little personalities unfold is just as incredible as any baby milestone.
  5. I get to have full conversations with them – Preschoolers are probably the funniest group of humans on the planet. This is peak comedic genius.
  6. I don’t have to wipe butts all day, every day – This one should be in the #1 spot.
  7. They choose to cuddle and say “I love you” – I used to think babies were the cuddliest. I’m grateful to have been wrong. Kids know how to squeeze your neck, write sloppy letters, and fill up your heart in even deeper ways.
  8. Sleeping through the night – I was wrong, this should be the #1 spot. I love sleep. Sleep and I really missed each other for those few years, and I’m not letting it go again.
  9. The cuteness has not decreased – In fact, it’s never wavered for a second! Is it possible that there is even more cuteness in our home these days? It’s too close to tell.

Of course, the baby years were beautiful, but imperfect. Having two school and preschool-aged kids is also extremely imperfect–but it’s a different kind of beauty that I don’t want to miss.

It turns out that I don’t have to wish myself back to the baby years, because there’s so much beauty in every stage.

Peace out, babyhood.

5 Meaningful Ways to Help a Family Diagnosed With COVID-19

If you give a family COVID, they’ll be stuck at home for over two weeks. When they’re stuck at home for two weeks with no end in sight, they’ll probably lose their minds. 

I won’t turn this into a witty children’s book sequel – because I’m not witty enough – but I AM here to give you some extremely practical tips on how to serve and encourage your COVID-infected friends. 

Our family is coming off of two full weeks being quarantined at home as my husband I have both had COVID. Three months ago I didn’t know anyone who had actually tested positive for this crazy virus. Now, it’s very close to home. 

Chances are you know someone who has tested positive for COVID. If you don’t, just wait – you will soon. It’s draining, exhausting, and lingers way longer than any sickness I’ve ever had. On top of actually being sick, the daily responsibilities of keeping the tiny humans alive do not disappear.

When the parents get sick, their job just gets harder. So here are a few ways you can encourage your friends and family members and walk along side them through this challenging process:

1. Drop dinner off at the door.

This is so easy, yet so helpful. The last thing anyone wants to do when they are sick is to plan or cook meals. Throw in the forecast of not having the energy to do so for at least two weeks and the task of dinner prep is absolutely daunting. So, cook an extra pan of frozen lasagna, grab a bag of bread sticks, throw in a package of cookies, and drop it all off on the doorstep. You will be the hero of the day.

2. Send a meal delivery gift card.

Not a big cook? Worried you’ll make something your friends won’t like? No worries. Door Dash and Grub Hub are amazing services that allow meals to be ordered and delivered from all the best restaurants. You can buy a gift card on either of their websites/apps and send them via e-mail to your sick friends. This is a fantastic way to relieve meal-time burdens, serve the family, and keep your distance from germs. 

3. Send the kids small gifts through Amazon.

The hardest part of this COVID journey for our family has been having perfectly healthy children who had 100% of their energy while my husband and I did not. While we wanted to be on the couch napping all day, life carried on for our kiddos who wanted to play and run and exercise their very strong lungs.

One of the best days of our quarantine was when we received an Amazon box from grandma full of sticker books and Halloween stories. These sticker books kept our kids occupied for several days and added an exciting element to a not-so-exciting time at home. So remember the little ones in the house and add some sunshine to their days, too. 

4. Deliver groceries.

There are some pretty great grocery delivery services around and many stores offer drive-up pick-up, but there’s always that one thing you forget. I’m notorious for this and usually have to wait until the next week because for some reason these grocery delivery services don’t want to drive all the way to my house to deliver an $0.89 packet of taco seasoning.

For this reason, text your friend and let her know that you are headed to the grocery store. Ask what she needs. Not if she needs something, but what she needs. Not going to the store already? Lie and say you are.

5. Bug the crap out of them.

Two weeks at home, not being able to leave, feeling horrible, and raising littles all at the same time is a lot. It’s isolating, discouraging, and makes you feel like it will never end. Your friends need you to text them, ask them all the questions, and keep offering to serve. If they say they don’t need anything, ask again the next day. Eventually, your persistent offers to help will overcome their humility and push them to honestly ask for help. And they will be forever grateful.

These are all sweet ways that our family and friends have cared for us from afar over the last few weeks. I’m so grateful for their kindness and hope to be able to do the same for others as we continue to walk through what is sure to be an interesting next few months. 

10 Ways to Add a Buck to Your Budget!

If “staying home” is the new “going out”, why not make it work for your wallet? Being home gives us more opportunities to organize, declutter, and save up – just in time for the holidays. Below are a few of my personal tips for creating some extra cash…ASAP!

  1. Sell Your Clothes
    Go through your closet and collect the clothes, shoes, and purses you no longer use. Swap them for cash on the spot at places like Daisy Exchange, Plato’s Closet, and Uptown Cheapskate, all of which have multiple locations around the metro. To get the most money, make sure the items you sell are clean, in good condition, and on-trend.
  2. Sell Your Kids’ Clothes, Toys, and Equipment
    Our kids outgrow everything. And believe it or not, there’s a lot of money to be made when it comes to their clothes, shoes, and bedding. Now is a great time to bag up and sell these items. But don’t stop at clothes! Remember to gather their books, videos, highchairs, strollers, and bouncy seats, then head to Once Upon A Child. They will give you cash on the spot or store credit.
  3. Sell Your Books, Records, and DVDs
    Have a bunch of books and movies lying around? Head on over to Half Price Books and turn them in for some extra cash. You can stop in from noon to 5:00 p.m. with up to 70 items (beyond that, you’ll need to set an appointment). Payment depends on supply and demand, as well as the condition of the item.
  4. Sell Household Items on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist
    Challenge yourself to find 10 things around your house that you could post for $10 each, making a quick $100. Keep it going and post 20 items for $20 each, then use that $400 for Christmas presents this year. From pots and pans to wall art collecting dust in the garage, you never know what people are looking to buy. Posting is easy, and you can choose where to meet for the sale.
    BONUS TIP: Choosing a public place like a local gas station is always a good idea.
  5. Turn Your Hobby Into a Money-Maker
    Good at calligraphy? Start making rustic signs. Play the guitar? Start teaching lessons. Excel at math? Become a tutor. Lovemaking jewelry or restoring old furniture? Start using your creative talents for a profit. It’s okay to start with a small goal, such as selling one item or teaching one client a week, then building from there. Even an extra $50 a month can boost your budget. Go ahead…tap into your creative potential and make some extra money doing it.
  6. Have a Garage Sale
    This might be the least glamorous idea of all, but it could be the most profitable. Even a one-day sale could easily yield a couple of hundred dollars.
    BONUS TIP: Do this on a “big trash” weekend, so you can leave the items you don’t want on the curb for the city to pick up the following week.
  7. Sell Your Electronics
    Have old phones you don’t know what to do with? What about old gaming equipment? You can turn these electronics in for cash at CDR Electronics, which has a few metro locations. If you aren’t well-versed in resetting your phone, the employees are trained to handle this process. Like Half Price Books, CDR Electronics also buys DVDs, so feel free to bring those here as well.
  8. Meal Plan
    …and stick to it. You can save a LOT of money by eating at home. Challenge yourself to cook what you have, and reserve a pizza night or meal out for the weekends.
  9. Shop for Better Insurance Rates
    You could be getting a better deal, so shop around again. I did that this year with my auto insurance and nearly cut my payment in half each month. Cutting a line item down significantly can revolutionize your budget.
  10. Be a Quitter
    Giving up or cutting back on a habit or vice WILL make a difference in your daily budget. Smoking is expensive, and so is that daily trip to Starbucks. Even cutting soda out of your diet can help you spend less throughout the year (I know this to be true because I personally implemented that change in 2020). Our daily spending really accumulates, so it can work FOR us rather than against us when we change our habits.

Remember, times are tough, but we are tougher. I hope at least one of these tips inspired you to make some extra money this week!

No, Really. I’m Allergic to Exercise.

Every year after the OKC Memorial Marathon I see photos of friends donning their medals, posting adorable photos of their kids and families cheering them on with signs at the finish line and beaming with pride and sweat and think “I’m going to sign up to do that next year!” That thought is immediately followed with another thought: “No, you nimrod. You actually CAN’T do that. Don’t you remember what happened in 2015??”

A seemingly harmless bike ride through my neighborhood in September of 2015 nearly (at the risk of sounding highly dramatic) cost me my life.

You see, I have a very rare condition called Exercised Induced Anaphylaxis – this is when anaphylaxis occurs after physical activity. Couple that with being severely allergic to every tree, pollen, grass, weed & basically anything else that grows in Oklahoma, and I’m pretty much a walking disaster. 

My first experience with this was my junior year of high school. It was in September when the ragweed pollen is extremely high. (I was completely unaware at the time that I was allergic to anything.) I had just come in from outdoors and was anxiously practicing a dance I really wasn’t prepared to perform at a pep rally in a few minutes. My eyes started itching like crazy, and I was worried the friend’s eyeliner I had just borrowed had somehow instantly given me pink eye.

A few minutes later my eyes were so itchy I couldn’t see, and my best friend and coach both kindly said “UM. You need to go to the doctor. Like NOW.” My mom rushed me to the ER down the road and by the time we got there I could hardly breathe, my throat was swollen almost shut, and I had caught a glimpse of myself in the side view mirror and was terrified my face would never go back to normal. I looked like Will Smith when he ate the shellfish in the movie Hitch.

We visited an allergist the following week and discovered that I’m allergic to approximately 97 of the 102 items they test you for. Along with being allergic to all these things, the doctor said I have what is known as Exercise-Induced Anaphylaxis.

The doctor told me that I am literally allergic to exercise.

When I exert myself physically, especially outdoors where I’m breathing in all of the things I’m allergic to, I break out into full-on anaphylaxis.

Fast forward nine years. I knew I’d never be a runner, but I thought surely I could handle riding a bike. I quickly found out in September of 2015 that I was very wrong. Bored one evening, I decided to go for a ride. As I was walking back into my house afterward, I started sneezing. I could feel a sensation of heat radiating throughout my body, and I knew exactly what was happening.

I jumped in the shower to wash off really quickly and then started digging through the cabinets for some Benadryl. In a matter of minutes, I was covered head to toe in hives and my entire body was as red as Clifford the dog. I could feel my throat swelling, so much so that I could barely swallow the tiny Benadryl.

Being home alone while this was taking place was a bit scary, but what made me even more anxious, thus exacerbating the anaphylaxis, was not being able to get ahold of anyone close by. My husband was with a client so he wasn’t answering his phone, my mom was playing tennis, and my dad’s phone was on silent. I could hear the worry in my husband’s voice when he finally saw the missed calls, as he said he could hardly hear what I was saying through my swollen throat.

Needless to say, I now keep Benadryl as well as an epi-pen in my car at all times, and I only do simple at home workouts that don’t really even make me break a sweat. Allergies are super common, especially in Oklahoma, but you definitely get some strange looks when you tell someone you’re allergic to exercise!

 

5 Tips for Surviving Election Season

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It seems as if every presidential election season is one to be survived, but the year 2020 seems like a particularly hard presidential election season. As a mental health clinician, here are my points on how I am choosing to survive the election. As I tell my clients, take what fits for you, do not challenge yourself, and leave the rest that does not fit.

1. Contribute to campaigns that align with your interest and that you support.

You can support campaigns in a variety of ways. You can donate your money, your time, or your voice. You can write letters, you can door knock, or you can text and call family and friends and share with them what is most important to you about this election and encourage them to vote.

2. Limit consumption of political news.

Some news stations thrive off of emotional responses and opinions. Listen to news outlets that don’t use sensational language and that choose to merely just report. It is easy to get swept up in a high-stress environment where there may be yelling, name-calling, belittling, etc. What we consume via media has the same impact on our emotions and mental state. Stay informed to your desired degree, but also protect your peace.

Next time you watch or listen to news about politics, listen more intently. We are moms; we can tell when our kiddos aren’t levelheaded by the way they speak and the body language they display. News anchors and reporters are no different. Become a critical observer, and save yourself the emotional rollercoaster of regularly engaging in watching sensationalized political news.

3. Don’t talk about politics with others!

4. Scratch #3! I am actually not a fan of the “no talking politics rule”.

I would reword that idea to say, “Don’t talk politics with people who don’t have tolerance for views that don’t align with their own.” If you are that person that cannot tolerate someone disagreeing with your views, “KNOW THYSELF” and refrain from engaging with others about politics. If you see the conversation going in circles or becoming disrespectful, choose to walk away.

I think a large part of what makes a presidential election season so difficult is the idea that adults are incapable of having mature conversations about issues that are important to them. One bit of advice – refrain from having these types of conversations on social media. Social media is full of “keyboard thugs” who certainly act differently behind a computer screen than they would in person. That “critical observer” can come in handy here as you observe whether who you are engaging with truly wants to understand your viewpoint or if they just want you to adopt theirs. Instead, choose to have these crucial conversations with others in person, through video chat, or on the phone. 

Remember: it is okay to disagree, it is okay to challenge one another, and it is okay to ask questions. Stretch yourself, challenge yourself, and get out of your comfort zone. Your voice matters and it is okay to share that with others, while also learning about critical issues that are different than your own. 

5. Last but not least is “up” the self-care game.

We have heard over and over again that 2020 is hard. 2020 feels like merely surviving instead of thriving. Self-care is easily the most important item on this list. Self-care can look like detoxing from social media to baking and enjoying that chocolate cake. It can look like reading a book to catching up with friends. It can even look like locking yourself in the bathroom or closet just to get some much needed alone time to maintain your sanity.

No judgments here! While we cannot ignore all of what 2020 has dumped in our laps, we do have the power to turn down the volume on the chaos and turn up the awareness of what we can control. We have the power to control how we survive the 2020 Presidential Election season. 

Trick-Or-Treating in the Age of Covid-19

Hooray for Fall…?

Ah, October. The weather changes from unbearable to mostly bearable (it is Oklahoma, after all), coffee shops have started serving pumpkin-themed items, costumes and decorations are everywhere for the upcoming Halloween festivities… except this year is different. Thanks to Covid-19, Halloween won’t be any fun. Right? 

Not necessarily. With a few extra precautions and awareness, Halloween CAN still be fun and safe. If you are determined to make the rounds with your tiny candy enthusiasts, perhaps we can take a clue from history to learn how to do it with class.

We were born for this

I’m a child of the 80s, the age of urban legends telling of poisoned candy and razor blades in apples. It was part of the Halloween ritual for millions of Gen-X children that we were not allowed to eat any candy until it had been scrutinized and deemed safe by parents. We had candy rules, and we followed them. We can do this. This is not our first rodeo.

In the spirit of Gen-Xers making due in less-than-ideal circumstances, here are some tips for a safe pandemic Halloween. 

  1. Mask It Up!

We all know the Rules of Covid: Wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance. Halloween is perfect for this, because costumes are an integral part of the system. Sure there are people like me who work harder on finding a creative way to describe my non-costume than on actually making a costume (things I’ve been that don’t involve actually dressing up: Time Traveler from the Future blending in with Now and a Survivor of a Zombie Apocalypse who found clean clothes). But this is not the year for such creative laziness.

Make your mask work with your costume. Ninjas, animals, and comic book heroes are perfect for masks. Anything with 2+ layers of fabric that covers your face is a chance to look great while staying safe! Heck, even a printed image of your face is certainly weird enough to work as a Halloween costume (seriously, it’s very off-putting). 

And, as always, DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE MASK.

2. Emphasize the Distance part of Social Distancing

I’ve been in neighborhoods where the hordes of children swarming from one house to the next is as intense as a black Friday opening at Best Buy. These kids are serious about their candy acquisitions! I get that, but this is the year to be more like a claustrophobic recluse. It’s best to keep the pack you travel in limited to people in your family or those you already spend a lot of time around. If you see a group at a house, hold back until they are finished and have moved on. The candy will still be there whether you are 1 foot behind or 15. This is the year to master patience.

3. Sanitize all the things

Candy comes individually wrapped. That means that before you tear into the sweet loot, take time to wipe down those wrappers with wipes or hand sanitizer. Most candy packages are sealed up enough to not be impacted. Wear gloves if possible when sorting through, and of course wash your hands often. 

Use discretion. If you see a house where an unmasked candy distributor is letting everyone stick hands into the bowl, maybe skip that one?

4. Safe Distribution of Candy is Essential

Here’s the key to all of this. The safest way to get through a pandemic is to limit contact with potential spreaders. The less hands that touch the pieces of candy, the safer it is. If the bag is ripped open, dumped into a container, and tongs or gloved hands are used to drop pieces into waiting bags, that cuts out all contact. Don’t let random strangers reach in and get their own. That’s waaaay too much contact. 

In fact, there are ways to reduce human contact even further. Dollar Tree has these amazing tongs shaped like skeleton arms that are perfect for scooping candy. You can put treats on sticks and put them in your yard, like a candy cemetery. If your porch is elevated, you can make a candy slide with paper tubes and slide candy down into waiting bags. Or, my personal favorite, create a catapult and fling candy at children in the yard. WIN-WIN!!

SAFETY FIRST; SAFETY LAST; SAFETY ALWAYS

In the end, we must all do our best to stay safe. Keeping our communities healthy is more important than accumulating large amounts of sugar, but I recognize that it’s been a hard year. In some ways these sacrifices can begin to feel like a bridge too far. So if you must get out, you must engage in festivities, remember: SAFETY FIRST. 

In the words of Seth Meyers of The Late Show, “Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask, we love you.”

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10 Ways to Add a Buck to Your Budget!

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If “staying home” is the new “going out”, why not make it work for your wallet? Being home gives us more opportunities to organize,...
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