Back to School!

Please send us your stories, memories, and helpful hints for this exciting and super busy time of year! Email cshaw@themommies if you would like to be published on our blog!

Grateful.

The following is a guest blog post from mom blogger Katie of katieblake.blogspot.com

 

Have you ever tried worrying and being grateful at the same time?

Go ahead. Try. I’ll wait.

Did you do it?

Didn’t think so.

The antidote for worry is gratitude and well-being. It’s impossible to worry about something when you’re busy being grateful. Unfortunately, the same is true the other way around. You can’t be grateful for something if you’re too damn busy worrying about a million other things.

Have you ever been stuck smack in the middle lane of the interstate during 7AM traffic? Do you cope by blowing your horn, or huffing and puffing because you’re going to be late to work, only to get yourself so worked up, you actually break a sweat? And what does all that blood, sweat, and tears (I exaggerate. Kinda.) get you? A headache? Maybe two inches of black top, only to be cut off by a punk on a motorcycle? …aaaannnd, now we’re cursing.

Next time, instead of focusing on the negatives, why don’t you try being grateful? Katie, how can I be grateful for morning traffic?! Well, my friends (& I hope we can be friends!) it’s simple. You have to change your way of thinking and count your blessings: I may be sitting in bumper-to-bumper agony, but at least I have a car. There are people who have never even set foot in a car, let alone have paved roads. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful I have the money (at least for now) to fill up my tank. I’m grateful this seat belt is keeping me safe. I’m grateful I don’t have to walk to work. I’m grateful for my air conditioning & music to keep me company. And if, and only if, I’m stopped at a traffic light, I’m grateful for Facebook on my iPhone.

Have we forgotten about that punk on the motorcycle yet?

Good! And trust me, it works in all sorts of situations: Baby screaming? I’m grateful she has working lungs. Shins and calves burning after that two-mile run? I’m grateful I have legs to run on. With practice and determination, you’ll soon be riding the “Grateful Train” first-class to “Calmville.” Scout’s Honor.

Now how did I get to be all expert-y, noble & wise about gratitude?

{Hi, my name is Sarcasm. Nice to meet you.}

I am who I am today because of a nasty thing called Postpartum Depression; or “Hell,” for short. The past six months of my daughter’s life have been a whirlwind for me, to say the least. I, probably like most women, skimmed over the PPD sections in the baby books since ‘yanno… never thought it would happen to me. Ain’t that how the story goes?

Anywho… long story short: I found myself hospitalized for a week at a behavioral center. Most terrifying and astounding life-changing experience of my life! I’d like to share with you my personal testimony after spending an additional month in an outpatient recovery program:

Written on February 15, 2011

I have certainly come a long way in this ever so challenging journey. This has been by far the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. My dream has always been to be a mom, so when the foreign and nightmarish thoughts hit me like a brick, it scared the living day lights out of me, to say the least. The anxiety attacks were like nothing I’ve ever experienced or even seen before. I didn’t know who I was anymore.

The best decision I ever made was going to the hospital. Although it was absolutely terrifying at first, it was the right place for me to be. And PHP [the Partial-Hospitalized Program] has continued to help me tremendously. I have learned so much—especially about myself. I never knew I had so much strength and determination.

I learned that in order to gain massive momentum in my recovery, I had to get moving! That became my new mantra. I lacked a lot of motivation when I first stepped foot in here, but I soon realized it didn’t mean I couldn’t still do the things I used to love. I am capable. I am capable of so much. It took a lot of practice, but my mood is finally catching up.

I made a promise to myself to never give up no matter what! I wanted things to change, so with the picture of my husband and daughter in my mind, I knew the only way I was going to make that happen was to JUST DO IT! Even if I didn’t feel like it, I made myself do it because it was the right thing for my recovery. If I didn’t change my thoughts and behavior, then things were going to stay exactly as they were, and I definitely didn’t want that! I took my first step, stayed committed to my recovery, and things started becoming easier day by day.

Seven weeks ago, I was crying and screaming on the bathroom floor, begging to die; and now I’m playing flag football and caring for my daughter like I always knew I could. It’s hard to imagine I once thought about taking my own life, and now I would give it away in a heartbeat if it were to benefit my daughter.

I despised the fact that I got Postpartum Depression. I thought, Why me? Why is God punishing me? But now? Now, I see the beauty of this experience and how it has strengthened me. Every day I’m a little bit more of who I want to be. Every day I become a better person; and for that, I am truly grateful.

***

You can’t have a testimony without a test, right?

A fellow patient—a mom, who lost her twenty-six year-old [former soldier & current police officer] son, to a heinous murder as he was called to a robbery, told me I inspired her. Well if that doesn’t humble your heart, I don’t know what will! If she had the courage to dust herself off, then I surely didn’t have any excuses. I could hold my baby in my arms—she no longer could.

Life isn’t always easy. But it sure is worth the fight.

So that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it! I’m Katie. A devoted wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, who strives to be the best I can be, every day, for all the right reasons.

Loyally,

Katie

***

Katie, a Sunshine State native, created her blog, “Loyal, Loving, & Learning” nearly two years ago to keep family and friends updated on her adventures while supporting her husband (then boyfriend) through Medical School. A lot has happened since then. Six months ago, she & her husband welcomed their first daughter, Emmalyn/”Emmy,” into the world. It was her lifetime dream to become a mommy; & always imagined how wonderful it would be. Little did she know she’d be hit with the “Postpartum Blues”—big time! A nasty case of Postpartum Depression changed her life forever. Besides being a SAHM, Katie is passionate about yoga, dance, spending time with family, and being grateful for every single day.

Blog: “Loyal, Loving, & Learning” http://katieblake.blogspot.com

Discipline.

A Surprising and Very Effective Version of Disciplining.

When our kids make a mistake, whether it’s a small infraction or it’s something that sends us through the roof, punishment rarely works. I know, I know – that’s not what you wanted to hear. However, I’m not going to suggest that you have a long, ideological chat with your little one about it, either. There is a fine line between logical consequences and punishment – and it’s all about the tone of voice you use and your follow through. If done consistently and correctly, logical consequences get better results. Here’s just one example:

THE FAMILIAR SCENARIO

Four-year-old little sister Prudence is playing nicely with her six Disney princess dolls. Five-year-old, bored Justin comes up, grabs Ariel, throws it/her across the room and snatches Bell. Prudence screams, looks at you with big, sad tears that say, “Please rescue me, Mommy.” You remember how unfair your siblings were to you. You must correct the unbalanced situation. Justin doesn’t care. And to make matters worse, you have spanked him and sent him to his room several times for the same exact action.

“How many times do I have to tell you to leave your sister alone?” you bark. Well, apparently many times. You grab his upper arm and demand that he give Bell back and apologize. He gives you the most defiant look that you know is about to cause a big problem. But you are stuck. You have to make him apologize.

“Say you are sorry, Justin.” He looks in every direction but yours and his sister’s. “Justin, give back Bell and tell your sister you are sorry or I will put you in your room.”

Nothing.

He throws Bell at Prudence. She starts to cry again. Your blood pressure rises. Damn it.

“Okay, young man, that’s it.” You grab his upper arm and lead him to his room. You “accidentally” squeeze his arm.

He screams and cries. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

You don’t believe he really means it. You put him in his room and say something like, “Stay in here and think about what you’ve done.”

Actually, all Justin can think about is how to manipulate you into letting him come out.

“Mommmmmmmmyyyyyyyy.”

Prudence is quietly playing again and you’ve gone back to the computer.

“Mommmmmmmmyyyyyyyy.”

You can’t concentrate.

“Mommmmmmmmyyyyyyyy.”

You are extremely annoyed.

“Mommmmmmmmyyyyyyyy.”

Exasperated, you get up and go to his room.

“Are you ready to apologize to your sister like you mean it?”

He says nothing. You can’t stand the thought of wasting more time on this. “Okay, then let’s tell Prudence you’re sorry.”

You stand there with him. He squeaks out a little meaningless, almost inaudible “sorry”. You don’t care if he is insincere. You won. It’s over. You can go back to what you need to do.

Next day you find Bell’s head in his Leggo box.

THE POSITIVE DISCIPLINE WAY….

At a time when the family is calm and there are not a whole lot of distractions, you tell Justin you need to talk with him.

“Justin, I notice that sometimes you take things from Prudence or you hit her. This is not okay. The next time you do that I’m going to take you by your hand and I’m going to put you in your room. You can come out when you are ready to play nicely,” you explain in a pleasant tone.

This will be his one and ONLY warning.

Next day Prudence is playing with her six Disney princess dolls. Justin comes up, grabs Ariel, throws it/her across the room and snatches Bell. Prudence screams.

You don’t say one word. You simply take his hand in a kind and firm manner and lead him to his room. If he starts to drop on the floor or resist in any way, you stand still and gently continue to hold his hand. Your face is calm because you have a plan, and you are simply following through with the plan. Nothing stops you from your destination: his room. He yells and begs and says I’m sorry. You are undaunted. You say nothing. You wait patiently while he struggles in your hand, and as soon as you can, you continue leading him to his room. You may have to stop and start several times down the hall. You still have not said a word. Not one word. As you begin to close his door with Justin in the room, you say in a mild fashion, “Come out when you are ready to play nicely.”

If he comes right out and plays nicely – all is complete. The second he goes on the attack, you take his hand and begin again. This time you say, “I can see you weren’t ready to play nicely.” And lead him back to his room. Do this silently. If he should come out and harass his sister a third time, you say, “Now I will decide when it’s time for you to come out.”

If you have to hold his doorknob, do.

Each and every single time he breaks the rule, you move into action, remaining calm, quite and firm. I know how annoying this is, but you and Justin are in training – and you will see a big pay off within a week – that is, only if you don’t miss one cue. Once you give in, it’s all over.

It’s up to you, mom. Following through with a strong, kind and firm attitude, rather than giving into anger and power struggles, will work like a charm. The trick is being consistent. Once you tell the child what YOU will do, you must follow through. No further chit chatting, reminding, nagging, explaining why you are mad or letting him know how bad it is to throw, etc. Those things don’t help. Just use consistent kind and firm actions. Put yourself in the driver’s seat. Believe me, this really works!

 

Among many other things, Marilyn Kentz is a parenting coach. Go to www.marilynkentz.com or contact her at [email protected] if you want to schedule an appointment. You can order Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson on Amazon.com

 

TMAMB from a Mental Health Perspective

Click here to read a review of our show from Jessica Stebbins, MS, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern.

Glad you liked the show Jessica!

Too Much Mommie

By Caryl Kristensen

Well as the school year comes to a close I am once again reminded that our generation has gone bat  #@*! crazy over their children. I used to bemoan the fact that my own parents didn’t come to a single one of my basketball games, so in response, I went to every single sporting event my boys ever played in. I was the team mom, organized the banquets and ran them all over the state. My life was inextricably entwined in their activities. Then it came….that huge thud!  Time to send them off to college, where they would continue on with their fabulous lives while I was left to pick up the pieces of my own life, one that had nothing to do with them.  So really what favor had I done for them or for me? I certainly could have shown my support in moderation, a happy medium between our parents adage, “You should be doing it for yourself, not for us” and the helicoptering version that my generation has adopted. God forbid they should fall or fail without us on standby.  God forbid they might not actually get a trophy they didn’t earn during award season.

As a college counselor at a college prep high school, everyday I witness well-meaning parents who are stealing the essential tools of life from their kids by doing everything for them. From signing them up for the SATs and still waking up 17 year olds for school, to managing their meetings with teachers and coaches; parents are swooping in to rescue them at the expense of their children. The sooner we teach our kids how to deal with failure and adapt resilience, the more successful they will be in life.  Every time you do something for a child that he or she can do for himself or herself you have robbed them of another opportunity for them to learn how to communicate, self-advocate, critically think and problem solve.  Without these opportunities, by the time they are seniors in high school, it can be disastrous.  Just like breastfeeding, weaning them into independence is just as important as drinking from a cup.  I had a meeting the other day with a soon to be senior whose mother finished his every sentence. She came armed with a list of colleges that she thought was appropriate for him, but the subtext was clear, “Darling I love you but you can’t possibly do this without my help.” His body language spoke volumes, “why should I try, she’s just going do it for me anyway”.  The meeting soon devolved into a nagfest of how he wasn’t working up to his potential.  If she had only seen a playback of this meeting, she would have been shocked to see how clear it all was.  By contrast I had a meeting with a mom who said she would not talk unless her son asked for her input. Of course, this young man was quite articulate, able to express what his fears about college are, what he was looking forward to and how he planned to approach the process.  In their home there are lively discussions where he has been able to exercise and form his own opinions.  It was also easy to see that his relationship with his mom was an easy-going, respectful give and take.

We all want the best for our children but sometimes our best intentions get in the way of the real truth. It is possible to “mother” too much. In fact I am more convinced than ever, that the best moms, have lives of their own and that wherever their son or daughter gets into college, is not a report card on their parenting.

 

Caryl Kristensen is the other half of the comedy duo that hit it big in the 90′s in the popular television and live comedy show, The Mommies.  She co-created the comedy show for other stressed-out mommies in the hood; co-wrote the satirical book, The Motherload, appeared as the “Mom” in Palmolive commercials and has performed in numerous infomercials.  Caryl has reinvented herself in the field of education where she found a fresh new audience every year! She is presently a college counselor and co-founded, MYCOLLEGEi.com, an online college video interview platform. She is still happily married to the same root of all her humor and lives in Los Angeles, CA. Her kids are now grown and officially off the payroll.

Opening Night of The Mommies – A Musical Blog!

May 6, 2011

By Marilyn Kentz

I’m in Orlando staying with writer/producer Jeanie Linders …and her two doggies. I’m upstairs in the lovely “coral room”. By judging her beautiful house and yard (she has such a creative flair) it’s no wonder her play was such a success. Now it’s time to launch the next edition: The Mommies.

I arrived in time to see last night’s dress rehearsal – and I’ve got to tell you I LOVE the cast. You will, too. First of all, they look like real moms; that is to say, though they are all quite adorable, they don’t “do glamorous”. Wouldn’t that be irritating? I cannot bear those television dramas and movies where the female lead is way too gorgeous to be doing an autopsy or wrangling some homeless drug dealer in her pretty uniform. Please! No, our mommies are beautiful in the ways females should be: smart, funny, charismatic, and yes, a little sexy. Like they sing it, “Mommies rock!”

Tonight is the big red carpet premier. There are flowers being delivered, limos coming, dresses to be squeezed into. I’m eager to see how the audience reacts tonight. It was so much fun last night to see the songs I wrote come to life. Our mommies have great voices – something Caryl and I lacked. We had to do the Milly-Vanilly version of our song parodies. Oh, and that’s another thing…these are not parodies, they’re original songs created by the 3 of us, mostly over the Internet. Hey, it’s fitting – the show’s called: A MUSICAL BLOG. So, there you have it. I’ll report from the plane tomorrow. We’ll be on our way to celebrate Mother’s Day with our families after having walked the red carpet. Oh my!

What will they grow up to be?

By Marilyn Kentz
It starts when our babies are little. We make guesses as to how they will turn out. “He’s so creative, I bet he’ll be an artist.” “She’s so agile, she’s going to be a gymnast.” “She has a great voice, she’ll be a singer.” “He is always arguing, he’s bound to become a lawyer.”
When my son was only two I went to an astrologist, and she “saw” that he had an affinity for animals. I was touched that she knew him so well, and it verified my suspicion that he would grow up to be a veterinarian. One can never guess how these tendencies will actually play out. My son, the “artist/animal lover” grew up to be a taxidermist!
Who saw that one coming?
Accepting our children for who they are is the most important piece of our relationship with our young adult babies. I had to laugh when my son began his taxidermy studies. It fit him perfectly. Me? I’m a slightly spiritual pacifist, and dead animals don’t exactly fit in my world…or my décor. But when I was awarded a lovely mounted deer head for Mother’s Day last year, I had to embrace it. What was more important, a house dedicated only to trendy Buddhas and aromatic candles…or giving my son the message that I love and accept him for who he is?
But that didn’t stop me from putting pretty things around its neck.
Update: And here’s the kicker! This past January a film crew came out to Alaska where he works, and he is now one of the new stars of the History Channel’s show called Mounted in Alaska.  Who knew?


 

Marilyn Kentz has dedicated her career to supporting women.  During the 90’s she co-developed and appeared in The Mommies comedy show and later in the TV series.  She has co-authored three books to both empower women and give them a reason to laugh at life with her. Today she is a ghostwriter, an artist, a parent educator, and she facilitates several women’s support groups. Since her children became young adults and are out on their own, Marilyn now lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband, four Chihuahuas, two cats and two tortoises.

 

Mother’s Day Story

By Katie Jasiewicz of Katie’s Cucina

Growing up I remember my mom making macaroni and tuna fish salad. This was a seasonal dish in our house that was typically made on Good Friday, throughout the summer, and the last batch would be made for Labor Day weekend. This is the way her mother did it, and it’s the tradition she kept upon my grandmother’s passing. The mac and tuna salad (the nickname I gave it many years ago) is accompanied by salty plain potato chips. When I was younger I would use the potato chips as a substitute for silverware, scooping macaroni, vegetables, and tuna onto each chip.

For year’s we would dine out at a restaurant on mother’s day up until my freshmen year of high school. That’s when I decided that we should celebrate mother’s day at the beach: pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the sunshine together (since that’s what my mother loves to do). I would help pack the bags and coolers, but I always insisted my mother make her mama’s macaroni and tuna fish salad. To an extent, it always felt like my grandmother was at the beach with us in spirit – through her mac and tuna salad! To this day, when I make mac and tuna I think of my grandma and my own mama, bite by bite.

Recipe: My Mama’s — Mama’s, Macaroni & Tuna Fish Salad

Source: Katie Original

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serving: 8

Ingredients:

1 16oz. box elbow macaroni

1 can Solid White Albacore Tuna Fish

1/4 mayonnaise (or more if desired)

1/4 cup bell pepper, diced

1 rib of celery, diced

1-1/2 tsp dried onion flakes

1-1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  Boil elbow macaroni according to the box directions. Drain and rinse in cold water, set aside.

2. In a large storage container, add drained tuna fish, *mayonnaise, diced bell pepper, celery, onion flakes, parsley, salt and pepper and mix well.

3. Then slowly add in cooked elbow macaroni mixing mayonnaise mixture until well incorporated. Once all the macaroni has been mixed together, place container in refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.

4. Serve cold with salty plain potato chips!

*I like my tuna salad a little on the dry side—if you’d like it wet add more mayonnaise!

 

Bio: Katie Jasiewicz, an Orlando, Florida resident and author of Katie’s Cucina, a blog that was started in 2009 to document and share with family and friends the recipes she cooks. She enjoys making new recipes weekly: “To me cooking is a form of therapy. After a long day at the office I like to get in the kitchen and cook a delicious meal that is both rewarding and nutritious.  I hope that my food adventures bring a little more excitement into everyone’s kitchens!”

Blog: http://katiescucina.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @katiescucina

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KatiesCucina

 

Texting & Having Babies

By Amanda Keefer (aka Mamma Mia)

 

On our way to school today five-year-old Mia blurted out, “Mom, there’s two things I’ll never do. Text while driving or have a baby.”

When I heard these words come out of Mia’s mouth, I did everything I could to keep my composure. Her serious demeanor meant one giggle out of me would send my deeply emotional child into hysterics. Calmly, I asked if she could explain. (Which, by the way, is exactly what she wanted.)

Her response was, “Well, we saw a re-enactment of what can happen when you text while driving and it was scary. I know a baby has to come out of your private area and that is scary too.”

Cherished are the moments that make me stop and look at the world through a five-year-old’s eyes.  Oh, and it makes for great material to tweet and blog about.

 

Bio

Amanda Keefer, Orlando, FL resident and author of The Mamma Mia Blog, began the blog in 2009 after being inspired by her witty and talkative daughter, Mia. Now, a mom of two girls, Amanda has no lack of content in her busy world. Even with a full-time career in marketing and two girls (one hanging from each leg), there’s always time to blog.  Amanda prides herself on the philosophy of working hard to be a good parent, but never working hard to be perfect.  Content includes honest accounts of real life parenting situations, tips, travel, random giveaways and local events.

Blog:  www.themammamiablog.com

Twitter: @mammamiafl on Twitter

Boys and Gas

By Marilyn Kentz

 

One hot summer day, the neighborhood kids were all swimming in our pool. The little
girls were swimming in the shallow end pretending they were otters. One was playing
the mommy otter and the other two were sister otters. The mommy otter was teaching
her children how to swim on their backs with clams on their chests.
Meanwhile, the boys were seeing how far into the middle of the pool they could jump. I
heard an inventive Billy exclaim, “I know… I’ll fart!”  Apparently he thought his gas would
propel him farther into the pool.

I just don’t get it. Do you think passing gas is funny? Every single time?  On any given
night my two boys would be cutting them, laughing, imitating them, laughing, lighting
them, laughing, “hey…pull my finger”. Gas can be endless entertainment for boys. If I
should let one little bubble slip out, they’d be horrified. Everyone would yell “MOM!” in
an accusatory tone.

They are grown men now, and my oldest often brings up a bitter memory. It was a time
when they were ten and eleven years old. It was a hectic evening and the boys were
being wild as usual – intermittent squabbles, followed by chasing, roughhousing,
laughing and barking at one another. My husband and I had set their chicken patty
burgers on the dining room table and went back in the kitchen to get the fries and
condiments.

“Aaron farted on my chicken-patty!” announced an angry Richie.

“Just sit down and eat!” was the simultaneous response from both my husband and
myself.

“Are you KIDDING?”

“Do we look like we’re kidding? Just eat and then finish your homework.” We didn’t want
to hear one more complaint.

“But….” Richie tried to protest.

“Eat.”

Now, we never really believed Aaron had time to do such an awful deed, but to this day
we cannot gather round a dinner table without Richie reliving that horrid experience.
He’s about to have his first child. I really hope it’s a boy. And I hope he has another
one. It’s the only way he’ll ever see his way to forgiveness .

 

Marilyn Kentz has dedicated her career to supporting women.  During the 90’s she co-developed and appeared in The Mommies comedy show and later in the TV series.  She has co-authored three books to both empower women and give them a reason to laugh at life with her. Today she is a ghostwriter, an artist, a parent educator, and she facilitates several women’s support groups. Since her children became young adults and are out on their own, Marilyn now lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband, four Chihuahuas, two cats and two tortoises.