Last Night I Drank a Beer In The Shower

Last Night I Drank a Beer In The Shower

It was one of those days. I don’t even have to elaborate on that sentence for you to know what I mean. Whether you’re a parent or not, everyone has “those days”. The days where you just need a moment. You need some space, some time, A MOMENT, to just be.

If you’re local to Southern California then you know August and September (heck even October) can be some of our hottest months. It’s really quite a shame they make the kids go back to school during our “local summer” but I digress…Today was hot. I typically don’t mind the summer heat, but today I was not about it.

This time of year is historically busy for my work, and to throw in the “back to school” of it all, it’s just downright insane. Not to mention, we are at a new school with new rules, new friends, new processes, new teachers – it’s too much NEW.

With the heat comes the whiney kids. And the hungry kids, because they are too hot to eat, but yet somehow still find the energy to burn whatever they have stored up on the playground. And then the tired kids show up around 3pm because they haven’t eaten, they’ve burned all of their reserved energy, and they’ve whined themselves into a stupor.

But I’m a “cool mom” (despite the heat) and decided to team up with my sister and take our boys for a swim. I envisioned cooling down by dipping my toes in the pool, laughing at the kids as their dives turned into belly flops, and having easy conversations with my sister. Instead the above-mentioned kids showed up, and they brought friends – the ornery and argumentative kids.

Then something suddenly came up. My cute ponytail had drooped low behind my neck. The denim mini skirt I was wearing somehow had hiked its way up past my waist.  And I was sweating so much down my back it traveled down to my butt. It was time to call it quits.

Leaving to come home took way longer than it needed to. By the time we made it inside the door – I was done. I scrambled together some version of dinner while B showered, flipped on Spongebob Squarepants and said “It’s your lucky night! TV DINNER!” I opened the fridge and saw the most glorious cold beverage staring at me – Mexican Lager. But where could I find 15 minutes of solitude and drink this beer in piece? That’s right, the shower.

To be fair, I hadn’t drank a beer in the shower in probably 15 years. I’m not even sure if I ever had, but if I did, it for sure would have been in my “college days”.  I say “college days” because I didn’t go to college until 26, but consider my cruise ship days my college years.

It wasn’t even about having a drink, it was more about the fact that I needed a moment to myself that was all mine. I knew in that time my only moment was the shower. And to make the moment even sweeter, I added a beer. I have to say, it felt weird at first, but then it oddly felt so invigorating to be doing something out of the norm.

I soaked up every square inch of space within my moment of “me” and I genuinely don’t think I would have made it without it. Sometimes we just cannot make it to bed time and that’s okay! Throw your kid in front of the TV every once in awhile and allow yourself some time. Some days you just gotta drink that beer in the shower, ya know?

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The Summer of Me

The Summer of Me

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.”

-John Lubbock

It’s been the summer of me. And I don’t feel guilty one bit. As some of you know, in the summer my son spends a big chunk of the week with his dad. When new friends hear this piece of information I am often times asked, “Oh, I’m so sorry. You must miss him a lot?” I very kindly respond, “No, not really.”

You see, I have my son 90% of the time during the school year. His dad doesn’t live in the same city, not even the same county, so logistically it’s hard to get down there between school and sports. While I wish his dad would move closer to us, it’s not our reality right now. So, the school year is 90% on me and it is exhausting.

Between school lunches, drop offs/pick ups, play dates, homework, school projects, emotional breakdowns, teacher gifts, household duties, my full time job, and my part time job…by June this mama is SPENT. Some days getting both us out of the door on time is a task and a half. While I yearn for the weekends – sometimes those are more hectic than weekdays!

I have a great co-parenting relationship that I am so grateful for, but it doesn’t make up for the lack of co-parenting in the flesh. I am the bad cop and hardly ever the good cop. I am the enforcer of house rules and hardly do we ever have the time to break the rules. I have to create schedules and structure so that my son and I can have happy and successful days. But, when all of that falls on the shoulders of one person, it can take a toll.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom. I love my son. But when summer rolls around, it is my time to refuel. It is my time to regroup. It is 8 weeks of: mindless TV; hours spent on the couch in my robe; days of dishes piling up in the sink; laundry half done; beds unmade; clothes on the floor; cereal for dinner; staying up til midnight because I can; sleeping in until 8 because I can; solo Disneyland trips; and many Door Dash deliveries.

I never want to reflect on being a single mom as anything but positive. I don’t know any different. But no, I don’t feel guilty for my summer of me. And you shouldn’t either.

Good luck to all the mamas that are gearing up for the school year ahead. We got this! Also, does anybody know how many days until Christmas break?

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Navigating Sports as a Single Mom

Navigating Sports as a Single Mom

My son is Mr. Sports. As soon as one season ends he’s on to the next. And not necessarily the same sport. He’ll jump from baseball to basketball to soccer to whatever else he can think of. I don’t think he has a love for a single sport yet so in the meantime he wants to try it all. And at 5 I think he should! He has his whole life to play one sport, now is the time for him to find out what he loves. But, as a single working mom, juggling this athletic life can be complicated.

Last year was our first full year in sports mode. Luckily, soccer was only a one-day commitment, which made the schedule juggle super easy. We moved on to baseball in the spring and I was so fortunate to have a job that was pretty flexible with adjusting my lunch hour to be there for games and practices when needed. I also have very helpful family members to pick up/drop off when I couldn’t. And now I have a different job this year where I get to work from home, so essentially I can take my son anywhere, anytime.

But it really got me thinking – what do single working moms (or dads) do during a sport season? From my experience, practices are in the afternoon (during regular business hours), and some games are during the week. Is your child not allowed to participate in their local little league due to scheduling conflicts? I haven’t been in this sports world for too long but I really feel that there is a demographic that is completely forgotten about. Not every family is able to logistically get to a practice and/or game. It’s really not fair that they can’t participate solely because they don’t live in a two-parent household or have family nearby that can help.

I am SO grateful for my current job situation but you never know when that can change. You never know when life is going to throw you upside down. I don’t have any answers but I think we should start a conversation. Children living in a single parent household (or even a two working parent household) shouldn’t have to sit out on a sports experience because practices are at 3pm. There has to be another way!

And while we’re here… why don’t we know the practice schedule when we sign up? Why don’t we know until 2 weeks before practices start? How is anybody supposed to plan anything?! It really just feels like they’re marketing towards families that have at least one at home parent.

Do you have any suggestions on how we can be more inclusive? I would love to hear in the comments.

Earning Our Way to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach

Earning Our Way to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach

If you know me, then you know I am a big proponent of fun. I want to go everywhere and do everything. I’m always looking for the next adventure even when I’m already in the middle of the fun. It’s hard for me to really tone it down but ultimately I don’t want my child thinking he can just wish for something and it happens. I want him to understand that we must work for the things that we want. They just don’t magically happen.

Last year my son really wanted to go to Legoland. We already had Disneyland passes so I felt it was hard to justify taking him to Legoland “just because”. Instead, I made a plan. I told him that for every good choice he made he could put a mini lego in a mason jar. For every poor choice he made we had to take a mini lego out. Once the mason jar was filled up, he earned his trip to Legoland! It was such a satisfying experience for him. Especially it being something tangible and visual rather than just words floating around of “keep working on earning your trip to Legoland.” And honestly, it truly made the day at Legoland THAT much more enjoyable because he worked so hard for it.

I haven’t done anything since then because Summer came and behavior wasn’t such an issue as before. But now we’re halfway through the school year and truthfully my son has great days at school and some not so great ones. He came from a little tiny preschool where everybody wanted to be his friend. Now he’s at a school with so many kids that somehow already knew each other and it’s been a bit of a struggle for him.

His class has a system in place with a colored chart that reflects their behavior throughout the day. At the end of the day his teacher hands out “golden tickets” for those that earned them, and for every 15 they get to go to the treasure box. I have been trying to encourage making smart choices and being kind to everyone but of course my son isn’t perfect so some days he doesn’t receive one.

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I’ve decided to incorporate a similar plan to what I had last year but instead of a jar with legos I made a chart. I know similar charts can be found at Target or most any store, but I wanted to make ours unique to our goal.

Braden knows that  school is his job, so I have made the “golden tickets” his currency. Once he has received 25 “golden tickets” he can “buy” his ticket to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. I LOVE the idea of having a visual that he can look at on his wall every day  for every ticket earned he can add a sticker to a square (there are 25 squares). Once he has filled in all of the squares – he will be on his way! Having something tangible he can add to it so he knows where he is on his journey to the aquarium is so helpful. Also this way we are focused more on the positive behavior rather than the negative. Which is where my energy needs to be focused as a parent in this season of our lives.

I’m attaching pictures below of what our chart looks like. It was super easy to create and not to mention a great project to work on together.

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Do you have any reward charts in your help? What has helped positive behavior in your house? Would love to hear in the comments!

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Apple Picking in Oak Glen

“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” -Mark Twain

When I was a child, every year my family and I would go apple picking in Julian, CA. I loved it. We’d wake up really early, gather our warmest clothes, load up the car and drive (what felt like hours) out to Julian. Some years it was hot, others it was cold, but it didn’t matter. We’d walk the orchards and scour the trees for the BEST apples to take home so we could make apple pie. Once we finished picking apples we’d spent the rest of the day enjoying the small town. Going in out of the historic little shops, eating lunch, maybe taking a horse-drawn carriage ride all nestled under the blankets, and of course eat some fresh baked apple pie.

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As I got older we stopped going, but I couldn’t wait until my son was old enough to start this tradition with. Except when the time came, I was torn…Julian or Oak Glen?!  I had never heard been to Oak Glen, much less heard of it! So, I did some research, asked a lot of questions and 2 years ago I drove my son and I out to Oak Glen to start our new Fall tradition.

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This was our third year going to Oak Glen and every time I go, I find something new to do there! Below you will find my tips & tricks for apple picking in Oak Glen:

Oak Glen vs. Julian

Truth be told, I haven’t been to Julian since I was a kid so I can’t really speak on what they have there now. But, from what I’ve read, Oak Glen has a lot more activities for kids. Besides apple picking there is; pony rides, corn mazes, u-apple cider press, hay rides, petting zoos, apple tastings, and lots of games!

The big number one factor for me is the drive. Driving to Oak Glen is SO easy. I personally have a fear of driving windy roads (due to being in a car accident in Laguna Canyon several years ago). When I learned that the drive to Oak Glen was mostly on the freeway, I was sold. I took my son to a camel dairy farm 3 years ago, and it was just 20 minutes south of Julian. I wasn’t even thinking of that terrifying drive until I was in it, and I just can’t ever do that again. Oak Glen is freeway, streets, and then maybe a 15 minute drive up the mountain – no cliffs! If I can do it – you can do it!

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Go Early!

I personally have never experienced traffic on the 2 way highway, but I know that some people have. The main reason I say to go early is because there is so much to see and do. This year we couldn’t go up as early as I would have liked to. Parking was a little bit of an issue but not terrible. We had to park off the road a little further down from the orchard. But it was a totally doable walk. If you have littles, bring your small stroller. If you park on the street, you won’t want your big stroller taking up the road. Bottom line: go early and just enjoy the whole day! Which brings me to…

Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho

Yes, there are two Riley’s. No, they are not the same. Well, the Riley name is the same, but the owners of the property are different. This was our first year spending the entirety of our day here. It was amazing. We picked our apples on the Botanical Garden side this year. Truthfully, next year we’ll park on this side, but go pick apples across the street at their bigger property as they have a bigger variety of apples over there.

I will go into more details about Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho in another blog post, but here are just a handful of things you can do here:

  1. Apple Pick / Pumpkin Pick (depending when you go)
  2. U-press Apple Cider
  3. Eat at their Restaurant (we didn’t eat here this time as the line was down the road, but it smelled delicious!)
  4. Shop all kinds of yummy treats (even get a fresh baked apple pie to bring home)
  5. Taste different varieties of apples
  6. Petting zoo, pony rides, hay ride, corn maze, horse shoes and corn hole

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Bring a Picnic!

Like I mentioned above, the line for the restaurant was incredibly long and I’m sure it’s amazing. But if you have kids that are anything like my son, he will not want to wait an hour for a table. We always bring our lunch with us and luckily there is a HUGE grassy area to throw down a blanket and eat. There is not a lot of shade so either bring an umbrella or a big hat. They do have a few picnic benches under some trees but those get taken up quickly. You’ll see tons of families with their coolers and kids playing catch. It’s so awesome!

What Time of Year to Go

Personally, *HOT TIP* I would go as soon as they announce it’s time to pick apples. This year apple season came really early so you may have missed the initial announcement, or maybe you didn’t even know they made an announcement. Follow Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho on Facebook and you’ll never miss it again. This year I saw the post but I couldn’t make it out for a couple weeks. By the time we got there, a lot of the bigger and better apples were already gone. The trick is to try and go within a few days of when they release a specie of apple so that you get the first pick.

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What to Bring/Wear

  1. Depends on the weather, but most likely you’ll want to wear a hat and definitely bring sunscreen.
  2. Closed toed shoes. I know you can get hot, but you’ll come home with the dirtiest feet if you wear sandals.
  3. An ice chest/cooler with all of your food, water and snacks. The property is not that big so you can easily just slip back to your car to grab some food or more water.
  4. Backpack. You’ll definitely want to keep your wallet, water and sunscreen on you at all times,
  5. Cash. They do take credit/debit cards. But a couple of food booths only take cash. However, you can purchase with your card inside the store and bring them a voucher. But just bring the cash – it’s easier!

Those are my biggest tips for apple picking in Oak Glen. I’ll be sure to share in more details about Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho on my next blog post.

Do you go apple picking with your family? What are some of your Fall traditions?

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Will You Be Friends With My Son?

Will You Be Friends With My Son?

“Before you speak, think and be smart, it’s hard to fix a wrinkled heart.”

It’s the second week of Kindergarten and my son already got his feelings hurt. I knew it was coming because well, kids can be mean. But it didn’t hurt my heart any less – and it very obviously hurt my sons. So much so that he pushed the little boy that said ” I don’t like you. We’re not friends….I don’t like you – double.” Should my son have pushed? Absolutely not. But should he have stood up for himself? Absolutely yes.

My son is an innocent. He wears his heart on his sleeve, is built with happiness, and loves everybody. I honestly don’t think there’s somebody he’s met that he didn’t like. He thinks everybody is his friend and he can’t understand why somebody wouldn’t want to be his. In theory this sounds like an amazing human. But in reality, it’s hard putting somebody like that out in the world, knowing not everybody works like that. Heck, I don’t even work like that! I am perfectly content not making new friends and just going about my day. I have to work really hard to make conversation and build new relationship; especially when it comes to the parents of my sons friends. It’s so hard for me and I feel like it’s affecting my sons friendships. But, I’m working on it…

Little kids can be cliquey and a lot of the times I don’t think it’s intentional. It’s like they have blinders on and can only see what’s directly in front of them. They have a neighbor friend and that’s all they need. Why would they look around and try to be friends with the person next to them? The majority don’t have the instinct to do that. And that’s fine. But it’s hard to watch when my son is standing in front of a group of kids smiling, thinking he’s part of the group too. I know that they don’t notice him and it breaks my heart. I want to scream, “BE FRIENDS WITH MY SON! HE’S FUN! AND KIND!” But, I can’t…this is his journey that he needs to be on. Not mine, not ours. His.

For me this is the hardest part of parenting: letting our kids just figure it out. We can’t make all of the decisions for them, even as young as 5. I can’t be with him at school to guide him. All I can do is teach him at home, give him all of the resources and tools he needs so he can go out into the world and be successful. But, that’s not easy.

So what did I do after I heard my son got his feelings hurt and he made the poor decision to push? I wanted to cry. My son cried. His heart was sad but he also was worried that he wasn’t a kind person anymore. But, I reminded him that he was kind and he just needed to remember to use his kind heart. And I also let him know other acceptable forms of standing up for himself that didn’t involve hurting other people. He cried some more and said, “Mom, I just forgot to turn my heart on, that’s all.” We decided to pray. We asked God to help remind him to turn his heart on every morning.

I know I can’t be naive and think that this is the only time his feelings are going to be heart. But I wish it would be. I’m not asking for my son to be the most popular kid in school, I just hope and pray that he finds his little community of friends he can call home.

How are you adjusting to your kids at school? Have they had problems making friends? Would love to know your story – leave me a comment!

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Why I Chose To Work From Home

Why I Chose To Work From Home

Growing up my mom didn’t have to work. She took my sister and I to school and picked us up every single day. I never had to go to any after school program – I never even went to daycare! I was really blessed. I didn’t think much of it as a kid because I didn’t know any different. It wasn’t until I had a son of my own that I really realized that I took the presence of my mom for granted.

When my son was just about 2 1/2 I had to go back to work full time. It was so hard. I hated leaving him every morning. I had to be at work really early in the morning so some days I wouldn’t even see him before I left because he would still be sleeping. Luckily enough in the few years that I have been back working full time I was able to have a job with flexible hours or really close to home! However, it still lacked the one important thing I was wanted the most: to drop off and pick up my B from school.

At the beginning of this year I started praying for a job that would allow me to do this. I had friends and family kind of laugh it off…I mean where was I going to find this job?! I searched; interviewed; and prayed some more. Nothing was coming up. At one point I just let it go and realize it just wasn’t going to happen. I had a great job that I wasn’t going to leave for something mediocre. But then just when I wasn’t looking any more, the perfect job (for me) landed in my lap – working from home!

Actually when this job presented itself to me, I said no at first! I was really worried I was going to put myself in a position where I wouldn’t thrive. Being a single mom, I just don’t have the luxury of taking any job. I need to make sure it’s a right fit for not only me, but for my little man. Would I like working from home? Was there growth within this company? So many unknowns left me a little anxious and I was comfortable where I was. But, an old co-worker (who got me the interview!) kept pushing about how wonderful this company was. And of course how great it would be for my son. After a lot of prayer and mindful thinking, I accepted.

I’m only on day two, but it is such a dream! I get to wake up every morning with my son, make him breakfast, get him ready for the day, AND take him to school! GAME CHANGER! I already see such a difference in his happiness and all of my anxiety has gone out the window. I really love connecting with his teacher, peers and their parents every day. I’m looking forward to the school year and being able to be more present in my sons life. I don’t get the luxury of being a stay at home mom, but this is the next best thing and I’ll take it for all it’s worth.

Did you make the decision to work from home? How has it changed your family dynamics?

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