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This Is the Year for New Traditions :: 5 Reasons to Purchase a REAL Christmas Tree This Year!

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This post was sponsored by the Christmas Tree Promotion Board, but the message and opinions are all our own.

As a woman who was raised in a pine forest, in a place literally named “Pinewood,” I have a deep, deep love for our annual REAL Christmas tree and consider myself somewhat of a tree aficionado. Our real Christmas tree is the centerpiece of our holiday home, and I am counting down the days until it once again adorns our tiny living room. 

As we all look toward a holiday season that is sure to look much different than in years past, you might find yourself feeling anxious and sad. It’s likely that holiday parties will be canceled or limited and replaced with virtual greetings, travel plans will be put on hold, and we’ll miss out on a lot of the traditional things that make the holidays feel special for our families. With all these things weighing heavy on our hearts, let’s look for the things that can remain the same: 2020 won’t take our real Christmas trees from us.

I encourage you to embrace the fact that anything goes in 2020 and use this year as the year that you create new traditions, like purchasing a real Christmas tree for the first time!

 

Here’s why:

1. The memories :: Tradition roots your family during the most difficult of circumstances. In our lives, when things feel absolutely upside-down but we are still able to lean into the small familiar traditions that have anchored our family during more “normal” times, we are brought great comfort. I have vivid memories of bundling up and trekking through a wooded area looking for the most perfect tree with my parents and sister. I remember my dad lifting our wispy white pine high onto his shoulder and plopping it carefully into the back of his pickup truck, and I remember the waft of delicious pine scent carrying through our family home as we adorned our find.

The process of picking out our tree was sacred to us, and I have carried that tradition to my own little family. I hope when my kids are grown they have similar vivid memories: the family time, the chilly air, the smell. By purchasing a real tree this year, you are cementing those memories for your family, too! In a recent survey of more than 2,000 adults in the U.S., a majority of respondents (72%) said it’s important to purposefully create good memories. So, let’s get to it!

2. Opportunity to support local businesses :: In our area, many places where you’ll purchase a real Christmas tree are SMALL BUSINESSES. Now more than ever, it’s important to rally our support for these local treasures. Purchasing a real Christmas tree is one easy way to support farmers, local businesses, and the seasonal workers who may have felt a great impact due to the current pandemic.

3. Purchasing a real tree is an experience :: The act of going to find and purchase a real tree is a family event that 2020 won’t steal from you! While many of our holiday traditions will be put on hold, this one doesn’t have to be. Make a day of it: Grab hot chocolate and coffee on your way to pick out your tree. Take photos of your process. Document the joy it brings!

4. Real Christmas trees are environmentally friendly :: Did you know that for every real Christmas tree farmers harvest, they plant at least one new tree? Additionally, research shows that artificial trees have three times the impact on climate change and resource depletion. While many things are out of our control this year, we can all lean in to being a bit more environmentally friendly!

5. Carry the holiday cheer right into the NEW YEAR! Decorate an after-Christmas tree! :: When I was growing up, my dad would carry our real Christmas tree out into the front yard and we’d create an “After Tree” by decorating it with treats for the birds and animals. It would stand there on display right outside of our living room window, and we’d marvel over the creatures who would visit our after-Christmas tree. I started this tradition with my OWN family a few years ago. It’s a fun way to extend the joy of the holiday season and the life of your real tree.

Memories. The smell of a real tree. Supporting local businesses. An experience that 2020 can’t steal. AND environmentally friendly! Have I convinced you yet?

**TRUE Global Intelligence fielded a survey of 2,019 Americans ages 21 to 49 years from July 6 to July 10, 2020. All respondents to the survey celebrate or observe Christmas and either decide or share in the decision of whether and what kind of Christmas tree to put up in their home each year or influence their home’s decisionmaker. The survey has a margin of error of ±2.2% and higher for subgroups 

*** Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of an Artificial Christmas Tree and a Natural Christmas Tree; Ellipsos, Montreal, Quebec, 2009; pages 6 & 8.

Start here: Visit ItsChristmasKeepItReal.com to learn more. 

  • Enter your zip code to find a real Christmas tree near you
    • The interactive map and search filters can help you find a real Christmas tree no matter where you live and prefer to shop:
      • Choose-and-cut farms
      • Seasonal lots
      • Garden centers
      • General retailers
      • Home improvement stores
    • Don’t want to go out to shop? Some retailers even offer online sales and home delivery.
  • Use the visual tree guide for a close-up look at the many popular types of real Christmas trees!

The Pumpkin Roll :: A Pandemic-Proof Holiday Tradition

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holiday baking pumpkin roll - Boston Moms

This holiday season seems to be the latest thing we can add to the “pivot” column. When I learned that Thanksgiving was no longer a safe social gathering, I heard Jo March from “Little Women” saying, “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents!”

The holiday season holds a number of family traditions that have been adjusted due to COVID-19. Most years, our holiday elves deliver family pajamas after we attend the Rockland town Christmas stroll together. This year, the event is canceled, so we’ll be venturing to the White Mountains to kick off the season.

Santa BabyLast year, we took an epic Santa photo with my less than enthused toddler at an annual Christmas brunch. That’s also canceled this year.

But on November 1, I turned on my NSYNC Christmas album and let my son Jackson listen to some holiday music. Today, we listened to “Jingle Bell Rock” half a dozen times in the car (lesson learned). It’s going to be a long two months, but he knows most of the words now!

My husband and I are also especially excited to start our own family tradition of watching “The Santa Clause” on Christmas eve, which he used to watch with his sister growing up, and “The Muppet Christmas Carol” while we open presents, which is a tradition in my family.

Despite the cancellations and virtual calls to come, one tradition that cannot be held back due to the pandemic is my family’s love of the pumpkin roll. This holiday dessert graces every holiday table, from Thanksgiving to holiday potlucks to brunch. The pumpkin roll is not only delicious but also travels (and freezes) well. My mother started making the recipe after a fellow Navy wife shared it at a party, and the rest is history.

Anyone who knows me knows I am definitely not a baker and tend to bake out of a box more than anything, but I can make this! It takes some practice (and I’ve had friends share their horror roll stories) but in the end, once you get it, you might just add it to your own holiday tradition list. Give it a try this year!

Pumpkin Roll

2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
1 tsp. cinnamon

8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp. softened butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1. Beat eggs. Add sugar and pumpkin and beat until combined.
2. Add flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.
3. Mix until blended.
4. Spray a jelly roll (cookie sheet) pan with nonstick spray, line with parchment, and spray with nonstick spray
5. Pour mix into pan.
6. Bake for 10 minutes or until the middle springs back when touched.
7. Take out, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
8. Invert onto a tea towel sprinkled with powdered sugar, and roll! (Some videos online show scoring the end when rolling, which appears to make a tighter role.)

While the cake is cooling, make the filling!

1. Beat cream cheese with butter.
2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla.
3. Mix until creamy.

To fill:

1. Unroll the cake.
2. Spread the filling.
3. Re-roll, and dust with powdered sugar.

Learning to Love Bedtime with Toddlers

bedtime - Boston Moms

I LOVE putting my kids to bed at night!

OK, what parent of small children actually loves bedtime? In truth, what I love is the post-bedtime silence and the ability to give my full attention to “The Haunting of Bly Manor.”

But more than that, I love that putting my kids to bed without frustration and tears (mine, not theirs) starts and ends with books. 

Bedtime can be a huge pain, especially these days. Whenever there is the slightest bit of excitement or change in the schedule, the kids fight going to bed. Fighting bedtime comes with the territory of toddlerhood. I’ve been surprised to find that incorporating my favorite childhood bedtime (or anytime) activity has been the key to saving everyone’s sanity. Growing up, I was an avid reader, and I’m hopeful that my boys will at least grow up interested in reading. But I never expected books to be the hero of our bedtime routine. 

We read up to four books each night, depending on the length of the stories. There’s usually a Dr. Seuss book in the mix; my current favorite is “Green Eggs and Ham.” Then, we have a couple of Shel Silverstein collections we read a few poems from — I get a kick out of the double entendre. There’s always a book surrounding the themes of family and love and bedtime; my husband’s favorite is “You’re Here for A Reason.” Sometimes we throw a holiday theme or construction book in the mix — those are always a hit! 

Not that every book starts out a hit. I’d say half our bedtimes start with tears. No matter what the bedtime fit is about, I only fight the “stay in bed” battle. 

“You want milk? Nope. You want a bear? Sure. But please stay in bed.”

When fighting a bedtime meltdown, calmly getting the kids’ attention is the next battle. Depending on our moods, I’ll start reading quickly and in a low voice, or quietly but without my usual excitement. Lucas may yell, and Isaiah may fuss, but somewhere between page one and “the end,” there is quiet. There are nights where everyone falls asleep while I’m reading and others where I finish book four and hope they’ll drift off to sleep in the dark.

Bedtime doesn’t have to be the worst. It’s not always going to be easy, but parents and kids shouldn’t have to dread it. I picked something I used to love about bedtime as a child to get through the craziness of bedtime with my kids. And you can too!

If you loved sneaking a couple of extra toys into the bed and playing, let your kids know they can do that if they stay in the bed. If you loved having a bedtime snack, play it up! If you’re big into skin/tooth care before bed, ask them to join! Kids love sharing rituals with us. If you know your kid is the “one more hug” type, let them come give that last hug, or read that extra story, or go to the bathroom one last time — without being upset at them for it.

If you thank them for being so quiet/responsible/healthy and send them back to bed, it’s likely to be the last time you see them for the night! 

How the Pandemic Erased Alcohol From My Life

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a pint of beer in the sunshine

According to many statistics, alcohol sales outside of bars and restaurants have grown since the pandemic started. With uncertainty and stress filling our every day, many have turned to wine, beer, or mixed drinks to help unwind after overseeing a day filled with virtual learning or to take their mind off the crushing doom they feel.

Meanwhile, I’ve stopped drinking.

I had often turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism — when I was having a hard time at work, when introverted me was trying to network, other times I was struggling. Since becoming pregnant with my oldest, I’ve worked on decreasing my drinking. I even asked my workplace to cut back on social activities centered around alcohol.

But last year, with two kids, two jobs, and a draining commute, I again found myself drinking a beer or two a night, either with dinner or at the bar at North Station while I was waiting for my train home. It stopped being a treat and more a given.

Once March came along, I found myself working endlessly. My job involved working at a local university and developing processes to secure housing for students who had no place to go once our campus closed. I would go to the office, commute home, get home just in time to put the kids to bed, and go back to working.

I wanted a beer. I needed one. The stress was too much. But alcohol doesn’t just help me unwind — it makes me incredibly sleepy. The older I get, the worse it is. So if I needed to stay up until 1 a.m. to work, beer was the last thing I needed. So I refrained — I found myself going days and weeks without any alcohol.

Even after the initial rush of COVID work finished and I found myself working from home with a preschooler and a toddler on my lap, I couldn’t drink. I needed to make up work time after they went to bed each night, so relaxing once they were in bed became a thing of the past. Night had to become my most productive time.

So while my husband (who kept working outside the home) was definitely in the “drinking uptick” category, my drinking ground to a halt.

So how have I dealt with my stress? I haven’t. I’m still incredibly stressed. But drinking alcohol would only add more stress because it would interfere with the limited control I have in my life at the moment. I can either numb myself and fall behind in work and parenting, or I can do my best to keep it all together. I’m walking a fine line as it is, and drinking would make my balancing act incredibly unsteady.

I don’t judge those who have a glass of wine at night — I’m almost jealous of them! My enjoyment of alcohol is now limited to — at most — one day a weekend, when I have my weekly football and a margarita. To be honest, I have even had to give that up the last few weekends because of work or family obligations.

The pandemic and the demands of work and family have almost erased alcohol from my life. That might be a good thing. I’ve realized that to be the best mom and professional I can be, I can’t be a “coffee at nine, wine at five” mom. It is a welcome reset.

But it has put a new thing on my to-do list: Find a new form of stress relief.

Don’t Mourn COVID Thanksgiving — Own It!

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COVID Thanksgiving - Boston Moms

Well, eight months later, we are still living through a pandemic. We are still physically distancing from others (I hope) and still wearing masks (I really hope!).

Now, the days are getting shorter, darker, and colder, and the holidays are coming.

Usually around this time, I am getting excited for Thanksgiving. For me, Thanksgiving means a visit from my parents, time with family, togetherness with friends, and lots and lots of cooking and enjoying.

This year, like much of the rest of 2020, will be different.

This year, we will be on our own.

There will be no grandparents showering my kids with presence and presents. There will be no girl time with my mom. There will be no friends at our table.

We are erring on the side of caution and keeping our physical Thanksgiving to just the four of us. This COVID Thanksgiving, we will continue to be thankful for our friends and family — we just won’t see them.

I was mourning the loss of another holiday to the pandemic. I was feeling lonely and isolated, resentful, angry, and sad. And, while I continue to feel all those feelings, I am choosing not to mourn the loss of my Thanksgiving plans but to own this year’s holiday.

This year, we will focus on our family unit: How do we want to celebrate Thanksgiving? What special foods and rituals do we want to have? Who do we want to make sure we connect with on that day?

I am putting extra effort into including my kids in the decision-making and helping them to own the holiday, too — and not focus on what is being missed. I encourage you to do the same! Here’s how:

Who

Celebrate physically with just your family unit/pod. But that doesn’t mean you can’t include others. Who will you visit safely earlier in the day? Who will you Zoom with? Would you rather Zoom serially with small groups, or do one large Zoom at dinner time? From experience, serial Zooms work better for us. 

What

What is for dinner? Will this be the first year you roast your own turkey? What special foods just have to be at your table to make it a true Thanksgiving? Are there any recipes you’ve wanted to try but just haven’t had the courage to do so? Now’s the chance to try new things and make new traditions.

What can make this Thanksgiving special for your family unit? Will it be dessert first? Will it be breakfast for dinner? Will it be pajama Thanksgiving? Or fancy schmancy Thanksgiving? 

What crafts can you do with the kids? We will be making cards to give out to family and friends to show thanks. I also hope to make gratitude turkeys, which will figure prominently on our table. 

When

Make sure to plan your day! The kids can get involved in this, and having an order of events will also bring predictability and excitement. When will you Zoom, and with whom? Do you want to make Thanksgiving a non-traditional breakfast meal, and spend the rest of the day doing a different family adventure? When will you watch the Macy’s parade reruns?

Why?

For me, this is what I don’t want to lose sight of.

Why Thanksgiving? It’s a day that we are able to pause and reflect on how lucky we are for our lot. Regardless of how the pandemic is affecting us, we have things to be grateful for. There is so much physical and mental illness, unemployment, political turmoil, social discord, and feelings of loss and isolation. Nonetheless, we all have something to be grateful for. Please, don’t forget to take the time to reflect on your own and as a family about what this means to you.

By doing Thanksgiving safely, you are thinking beyond yourself. You are helping to keep others healthy and safe, and you are modeling to your family the importance of self-sacrifice for the greater good.

Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you!

Nominate a Family :: New “Little Turkey” Baby Shower THANKSGIVE-AWAY

As the premier parenting resource in the Greater Boston area, Boston Moms’ mission has always been to enrich the lives of the moms we serve. Our goal to connect moms to each other and to their communities, to offer important resources, and to celebrate motherhood is paramount to all we do.

Today we are thrilled to announce our first ever THANKSGIVE-AWAY!

Sponsored by Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny and supported by our incredible prize sponsors, we hope to bring a little extra happy to one deserving family this holiday season.

Expecting parents aren’t able to enjoy a “typical” pregnancy, birth, or newborn stage this year. Doctor appointments are faced alone, baby showers are canceled, and family meetings are delayed for months on end while we all do our part to stay safe. Boston Moms wants to honor and celebrate the expecting parents in our community and to cheer them on as they navigate new parenthood and bring home a new “little turkey” during these unprecedented times.

Do you know an expecting family who deserves this recognition? We are now accepting nominations for our THANKSGIVE-AWAY. 

We are looking for expecting parents who are navigating pregnancy, fertility, adoption, or infant fostering during this global pandemic. ANY Boston-area parent is welcome to nominate themselves or someone they know or love to win an incredibly special suite of gifts valued at over $3,000 from our generous prize sponsors.

The winning family might be your neighbor, your friend, a member of your community, or maybe even YOURSELF! 

How to nominate someone to win the Boston Moms Thanksgive-AWAY:

  • Complete the form below to nominate a Boston-area family who is expecting a new “little turkey” during this global pandemic.
  • Submissions will be accepted through Friday, November 20, 2020, at 5 p.m. EST. 
  • The Boston Moms team will determine 5 finalists, and you — our community — will cast the final vote on Facebook beginning on Monday, November 23.

The winner will be announced on the Boston Moms Facebook page on November 25, 2020.

Our winning family’s terrific prize package from our generous sponsors is valued at over $3,000 and will include:

Finalists will be featured on Boston Moms’ social media accounts, and the winner of the grand prize will receive a special feature on BostonMoms.com!

View the Boston Moms overall terms and conditions here.

Nominate a family via the form below.

More About Our Presenting Sponsor

This initiative is brought to you in part by Boston Baby Nurse and Nanny! The team at Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny understands that welcoming a new caregiver into the home is a big decision. That’s why we are committed to providing families with experienced, reliable, trustworthy caregivers who have been thoroughly vetted, hand selected, and rigorously trained. You can rest assured knowing your baby is getting the very best of care.

More About Our Prize Sponsors

  • WaterWipes :: “Pure, gentle, and safe for the most delicate skin but in the convenience of a baby wipe, WaterWipes are the next best thing to cotton wool and water.”
  • Susie Boston Photography :: “Susie is a newborn photographer in the greater Boston area. She specializes in newborn, maternity, and family photography at her studio in Winchester, MA.”
  • Rafi Nova :: “We design our products with families in mind and hope to empower parents to take their children on new adventures, share new memories, and blaze new trails. We know every family’s journey is unique, but we also believe we share common goals of joy, health, and happiness for our children.”
  • Boston NAPS :: “Boston NAPS is a team of nurses who provide prenatal, postpartum, newborn, and lactation support and education to expecting, new, and experienced families.”
  • Baby Koo :: “Modern boutique carrying unique clothing, decor, furniture, toys, and gifts for babies and new moms.”
  • Medela
  • Gus & Ruby :: “Gus & Ruby is a custom design and print studio and trio of brick and mortar retail stores located in historic, coastal New England. We specialize in creating one-of-a-kind pieces of art in the form of wedding and special event invitations, birth announcements, classic correspondence, and so much more. Our retail stores offer the discerning shopper a curated selection of beautiful goods for the home, office, baby, and child.”
  • New England Country Mart :: “A premium fresh produce and grocery home delivery service focused on quality and community.”
  • Joy Street Kids 
  • ChappyWrap :: “We make the best blanket you will ever own.”
  • Jenny and Evie :: “Postpartum care products reimagined with moms in mind.”
  • Kendra Scott
  • Nightfood ice cream 
  • MAM 
  • Pediped 
  • ergoPouch 
  • The Red Wagon
  • Murph & Moose 
  • The Toy Box
  • Great Pond Press

I Ditched Our Playroom, and This Is What Happened

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playroom - Boston Moms

It had become too much of a burden for me. I couldn’t stand it any longer. My children did not appreciate it, and it was ALWAYS a mess. There was more stuff in that one room than my childhood house had in its entirety. It was the playroom, and it had to go.

I got rid of my children’s playroom over the summer. It was a decent-sized playroom, which took up half of our basement. My kids have not yet aged out of a playroom. In fact, they are the perfect ages for one. The oldest of my five children is 8, and my youngest is 9 months. I mean, we actually have a good five to six years left where we could provide a separate space for play. But I’m not doing it. I don’t ever again want a playroom in my home!

I decided it was time to clear it out because I no longer wanted to manage an unnecessary amount of toys. I did not want to organize them into the correct bins and boxes to be played with again. I did not want to spend an hour or two recleaning it after a playdate that resulted in the removal and destruction of Every. Single. Toy. I did not want to have a yearly purge to make room for more. And finally, I wanted more reasons to send my kids outside instead of downstairs to the playroom.

Here’s what happened after it was gone.

My housecleaning load was significantly reduced.

Three-quarters of the toys were purged or stored for future purging once officially forgotten about. The number of hours I spend cleaning up and organizing the playroom has dropped to a whopping 0!

There are fewer toys, and there is more productive play.

The toys in the playroom were never really “played” with. Instead, they became victims of a reaction to an inappropriate amount of stimulation, which resulted in significant destruction of the space. Now my children have just the right amount of toys that fit the storage space provided, and the same toys are played with daily and with so much creativity.

Their imaginations are running wild.

The toys they have now have all become open-ended and serve multiple purposes. My kids repurpose stuffed animals, shoelaces, boxes, blocks, plastic food containers, cups, hair accessories, and pillows. Now, everything can become something new. They also play outside so much more. They greet the neighbors and pet their dogs. They scooter, bike, and jump in puddles. They run, twirl, and build houses out of boxes and umbrellas. They set up a picnic under a tree and play horses on a collection of rocks. All of this requires minimal cleanup.

We argue over one less thing.

I no longer get upset at them over a destroyed playroom! I also no longer have to ask them to clean up a room that was always impossible for them to clean up. There no longer exists frustration in regards to a playroom. It is non-existent.

They never noticed.

They said nothing. They never noticed, even though they watched me do it. They never shed a “real” tear, even as we donated some of their best toys and duplicates to families in need. They actually felt good and posed for pictures so the kids who received their toys knew who they came from. They have not once asked for their items back, asked where they went, or merely mentioned their existence.

I buy fewer toys.

I’m no longer trying to figure out what their playroom is missing. It isn’t missing anything because it doesn’t exist. Now I pay attention to what they are playing with and what they aren’t, and I can quickly clear out what they don’t use or have outgrown. I can “see” how much physical and creative room they have for more. Toy purchases have become much more intentional, and my wallet a tad bit thicker.

I have not once felt guilty about getting rid of their playroom. I have felt relief. I have felt calm. I believe my children feel freer and less stressed. They never cared that it even existed.

I’m glad the playroom is gone.

This. Is. Hard.

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2020 is hard - Boston Moms

This is hard.

Coronavirus is hard. Remote school is hard. Teaching remote school is hard. Working from home is hard. Being unemployed is hard. Having no local family is hard. Having local family who you can’t hug is hard. Having people judge you for hugging your family is hard.

Missing summer is hard. Thinking of winter coming is hard. Seeing the days get shorter is hard. Worrying about your upcoming heating bill is hard. Thinking about climate change is hard. Mourning the loss of RBG is hard, and worrying about her replacement is hard. Dealing with another day of politics is hard.

Worrying about your children’s development is hard. Worrying about screen time is hard. Being your child’s teacher, nutritionist, and activities director is hard. Doing all this when you can barely get any time to yourself is hard. Doing this alone is hard. Doing this with a partner is hard. Doing this while pregnant is hard. Doing this while trying to get pregnant is hard. Doing this when you’re totally done having kids is hard.

For all of us, 2020 is hard.

I have no words of wisdom today. Except that there is a world struggling alongside you.

This is hard.

And it will get better.

Until then, let’s all try to find the goodness in each other. And the goodness in ourselves. Let’s all assume everyone is trying their best. And let’s give ourselves compassion when we simply are not up for giving our best — because it is our best in that moment.

This. Is. Hard.

Teaching Kids (and Ourselves) About Ambiguous Loss

In a recent article about how we are all coping in the pandemic, the author brought up the concept of ambiguous loss. This is often defined as a loss that is complicated and with no clear-cut resolution or conclusion.

Examples of ambiguous loss include:

The loss of a friendship
The loss of freedom
The loss of a dream or ambition

As I wrote about three years ago when my father passed away, we struggle to talk about death and loss with our children. Imagine how difficult it is to explain ambiguous loss. But that is exactly what parents all over the U.S. are having to do right now.

How do you explain to a young child that you can no longer be near your closest friends? Or that the regular routine of going to school now has to be shifted in a dramatic way? Or that the places you used to love going to together as a family are now off-limits?

We can intellectually explain this to children. We can discuss the pandemic and explain why we must wash our hands, wear our masks, and stay away from groups of people — how it’s an invisible virus but can be very dangerous and contagious.

What we have a more difficult time doing is explaining the ambiguous loss and how it affects us all.

Together we’re mourning not being able to have birthday parties, weddings, and bat mitzvahs.

Together we’re tolerating the unsatisfying but necessary Zoom calls in lieu of hugs and real connection.

Together, we miss going to concerts, movies, ball games, and community events.

This virus robs people of their health and vitality, and tragically, for some, their lives. But it’s also robbing people of meaningful connections and the ordinary joy of community and routines.

These are the conversations we should be having with each other and our children.

Simply acknowledging and labeling what it is can help. One thing I do is mirror what my daughter is saying to me and then adding something that lets her know I acknowledge how hard this has been.

“Honey, I know how much you wanted to go to that event. It seems hard to understand that something so tiny can be so dangerous and wreak so much havoc. I understand how disappointing and difficult this time has been. It’s been that way for me too. I miss our pre-virus life, but we’ll get through this together.”

One last thing I want to mention for the moms reading this. I know a lot of you are struggling with your own angst regarding life with kids during COVID. I also have clients who are moms who are telling me they feel guilty for complaining or feeling sorry for themselves when they know others may be suffering even more. But here’s the thing: You can simultaneously be grateful for what you have and still throw a pity party for yourself once in a while.

Be kind to yourself. Be compassionate to those around you. We’re all, in a way, experiencing ambiguous loss.

The only way out is through.

In November, We Wear Blue :: American Diabetes Awareness Month

In November, we wear blue. But every day, regardless of the month, I wear an insulin pod and a continuous glucose monitor.

November is American Diabetes Awareness Month, and I have Type 1 Diabetes. Being a mom is challenging; facing those challenges while living with T1D is not for the weak.

Like most moms I know, my mind is always going: Did I feed the kids this morning? Did I turn off the stove? What is my blood sugar? Is Ceci wearing the same T-shirt she slept in? Do I have enough insulin in my pod to get me through the day? Did Addie just jump off the couch, over the dog, and forward roll into her play car? Did I do too much insulin for that breakfast I didn’t have time to finish? What day is it? What time is it? What is going on right now? Some of those thoughts may mirror the thoughts of many moms, others may be similar to moms with Type 1 Diabetes, and yet some are very unique to me and my little people.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was 11 years old. I did not know anyone with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, and, if I am being completely honest, I didn’t know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 until I was an adult. Sometimes I’m still unsure if I understand the differences, and today, there are more than the two types of my childhood.

I’ve lived more than two-thirds of my life with Type 1 diabetes, and I’m not sure I would even know how to live without it now. Thinking about my blood sugar from the moment I wake up until the moment I fall asleep (and oftentimes while I’m sleeping), is second nature to me. Being certain that I have enough insulin to treat a high and enough glucose to treat a low is a necessity for me. I learned how to be on top of my mom-with-diabetes game by watching my mom be on top of her mom-who-has-a-child-living-with-diabetes game. The most used strategy? Planning and preparation.

I am thankful my mother was very observant throughout my childhood — she noticed that my little 11-year-old self was not acting “normally” — I was excessively thirsty, I was tired all the time, I was constantly in the bathroom (all that extra drinking), I had unexplained headaches, and my already tiny body was losing weight. She thought I may have a virus, so she brought me in to see my pediatrician. After almost being dismissed from the office, the nurse suggested a urinalysis (thank God for nurses!) and they found sugar in my urine — a tell-tale sign of diabetes.

I was scooped up and brought to the hospital, spending the next week of my life being poked and prodded until the final diagnosis was rendered. I eventually left the hospital with a new way of life ahead of me, fear in my head, determination in my heart, and a blood glucose meter and regular and NPH insulin in my bag.

Life with Type 1 Diabetes hasn’t been a death sentence, but it also hasn’t always been easy. There are times in my life when I’ve wanted to quit (that was a terrible decision), times when I’ve grown frustrated (like last week), and times I’ve felt empowered.

As a mom with Type 1 Diabetes, my pregnancies were automatically considered high-risk. Despite the challenges diabetes presents (like a placenta that grows resistant to insulin during the third trimester), I was able to navigate two pregnancies and stay as healthy as someone living without Type 1 Diabetes.

Both of my girls (2 and 4) know that when my phone alarms, I’m most likely low and need a juice box. They know mommy feels yucky when her blood sugar is high. They know mommy has diabetes and takes medicine to help her feel healthy. They know she works out to build a strong body and heart in order to avoid complications in the future. They don’t know the intricacies of diabetes, but they get the overall idea, and that’s important. They can learn the intricacies when they get older… or maybe they won’t have to, because I am hopeful for a cure. 

I no longer use regular and NPH insulin to treat my diabetes. I have an insulin pump with Novolog (an insulin that begins working 15 minutes after administering a dose). The insulin pump takes care of all the math calculations I used to have to determine whenever my blood sugar was high or I wanted to eat something with carbohydrates. It gives me small doses of insulin throughout the day, allowing me to manage my blood sugars with a precision I did not have when I took multiple daily injections. I also wear a continuous glucose monitor that tells me what my blood sugar is without my having to prick my finger seven to ten times per day. There are even systems out there that pair the CGM with the insulin pump to make diabetes management even more convenient and accurate. My newly diagnosed 11-year-old mind could not have imagined the diabetes technology that exists today, and I am so fortunate for these advancements.

The Type 1 Diabetes of my youth, my adolescence, and my early adulthood no longer exists. Technology has made management so much more accessible for so many — this means better health overall and fewer complications in the future. While I don’t necessarily feel lucky to be a mom living with Type 1 Diabetes, I do feel fortunate that I am able to show my daughters how to persevere despite the struggles I encounter each day. I feel fortunate that I can live as an example of someone succeeding while having diabetes. T1D may knock me down some days, but it will never knock me out. This mama has spent 28 years learning how to fight back, and she doesn’t intend to stop anytime soon. So, yes, in November, I wear blue to bring awareness to the disease that so many battle on a daily basis, and I will continue to do so until there is a cure.

Bribery — What You’ll Do for Sleep!

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I haven’t slept soundly in months. My mind is racing, and I seem to have added “insomniac” to my resume. Sleep is hard to come by, so when it does happen, I want to be comfortable. I want to sprawl out. I want my pillow to be on the cool side. 

I do not want my 6- and 3-year-old snuggling with me. AKA breathing on me. Kicking me. Wrapping their arms around my neck, like we are doing some sort of wrestling move. And furthermore, I don’t want them doing all this while my husband sleeps soundly on the other side of the bed. 

So, I did it. As I was tucking my darling children to bed the other night, kissing them goodnight, going through our routine, I thought about it. I knew the dreaded moment when I would wake to the pitter-patter of their feet making their way into my room was not so far away. Then it dawned on me.

Bribery.

They had been asking for candy all night, and I hadn’t caved… this time. How about a little bargaining? And the words rolled right off my tongue. There was no going back. 

“If you two sleep in your beds ALL night long, I will let you have candy for breakfast!”

And, guess what?

I had a peaceful night’s sleep. In between my insomniac moments and counting the hours left of sleep I could have before my alarm went off, I slept sprawled out in bed with just my husband. 

It worked!

They did not come into my room. I don’t know if it was a coincidence or if they woke up in the middle of the night and thought about the chocolate waiting for them in the morning. And it did not matter to me. They enjoyed their breakfasts with proud eyes and smiles from ear to ear. And I sat and enjoyed watching them eat their Kit-Kats and Twix bars at 7 a.m.

This won’t happen all the time. It was not one of my proudest mom moments. But it was a desperate reach for a good night’s sleep, and this mama actually got it. 

Pandemic Weight Loss Is Possible — Here Is How I Did It

lose weight pandemic - Boston Moms

I have three kids, ages 9, 6, and 3. I was overwhelmed, burned out, and exhausted before the pandemic. And I’ve been much more overwhelmed, burned out, and exhausted since March. Having control over almost nothing combined with the constant uncertainty connected to the pandemic was taking its toll. I needed something I could control. Something I could focus on that was for me and not anyone else.  

So one Monday in July I woke up and made a decision to take control of my health once and for all — and lose some weight. I already had some healthy habits. I drink a gallon of water almost every day. I replace one meal a day with a vegan protein shake. I eat a balanced diet. However, I also had some very bad food habits. I eat my emotions in sugar and carbs. I knew I was eating too big of portions, especially at dinner. I hate to and do not exercise.  

I decided to tackle three things: cut out processed sugar (bye-bye raspberry turnover, donuts, and ice cream), portion control and eat less food, and start a simple exercise routine to move my body every day.

For me, these were reasonable things I could accomplish while being home with three kids all day every day. I came up with a plan, and after doing some research about calorie counting, I decided I would track everything I ate and drank that had calories. I needed that accountability, at least for a few months. Tracking your caloric intake is really easy. There are many apps for your phone where you can scan a barcode or enter in the food directly. I started in July eating 1,200 to 1,400 calories a day.

Here’s a quick example of what I eat on an average weekday:

Breakfast: Coffee with almond milk, 1/2 cup of oatmeal with a sprinkle of cinnamon and blueberries.

Morning snack: A green drinks shot. (I was finding it hard to eat my vegetables during the day, so I drink them — it tastes disgusting but it is over in five seconds.)

Lunch: Protein shake with almond butter and 1/4 of a banana in a blender with ice. (Be mindful of the protein shakes you may consider using and what is in them. Look at the ingredients and do some research. I chose a vegan protein because whey is too hard on my stomach.)

Afternoon snack: A green apple or air-popped popcorn.

Dinner: 3 to 4 oz of pasta or spaghetti squash, 2 small meatballs, and 1 cup of homemade marinara.

I do two to three 10-minute HIIT workouts a week (search “HIIT workout for beginners” on YouTube). I like HIIT workouts because they are fast and burn a lot of calories and fat, and, like I said, I hate working out. So the quicker I can get that over, the better. I also go for walks. This is something I do in the morning before my husband leaves for work or in the evening when he gets home. I put on my headphones and take some quiet time for myself on these walks. 

So fast forward four months — I am down 25 pounds, and I feel great! I was 160 pounds when I made the decision to change my eating habits and lifestyle in July, and I am now about 135 pounds. 

I committed to myself, and it feels really good to know I did not let myself down! I think my success has a lot to do with the fact that I did not try to restrict too many things in my diet. I wanted to have family dinner and not be making myself different food than my kids or husband. Instead, I am focusing on the volume of food I eat and stopping when I feel satisfied.

I now occasionally do have a sweet treat, but I do not crave it. That freedom of not going to the cookies on a bad day and instead doing push-ups on my kitchen counter or a set of squats when I am overwhelmed is not something I thought I would ever feel.

So here’s my advice to my fellow moms who want to lose weight and gain healthy habits during this pandemic.  

Wait until you are totally ready.

For me, I was done having kids, done nursing, and done being winded getting laundry out of the basement.

Weigh yourself daily.

This was huge for me. I weigh myself every morning as soon as I wake up. It takes the anxiety of the scale away. If you weigh yourself daily, you will never expect to have some huge overnight weight loss. This means you are really never disappointed when you’ve only lost an ounce or two from the day before. But then all of a sudden you will be like, “Whoa, I lost five pounds in a few weeks!”

Focus on a few things you can and want to change.

Maybe an elimination diet is too hard to stick to while balancing parenting, especially with remote learning.

I know you may be expecting me to tell you it was really hard for me, but it was not. I WAS READY! I’d had enough of being uncomfortable, sedentary, and sugar addicted. I made the decision to change my eating habits, to change my relationship with food, and to move my body more.

This pandemic has given me the push I needed to take control of my health. I am grateful for that.

Holidays at Home :: VIRTUAL Keepsake Greetings from Santa in the North Pole!

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Santa keepsake video message - Boston Moms

Many people are working from home this year… even Santa!

Santa is staying healthy and safe in the North Pole as he prepares for his Christmas Eve journey! While we won’t be able to visit Santa for our typical holiday photos, we’ve come up with the next-best plan.

Santa is offering Boston Moms followers and their families PERSONALIZED video greetings from his workshop in the North Pole! He wishes he could meet us all in person this year but agrees that virtual greetings are the way to go!

WHO: Boston-area families

WHERE: On a computer, tablet, or phone in the comfort of your own home!

WHEN: Video arrives in your email inbox by 12/10/2020. You can choose to show it to your family whenever you are ready!

WHAT: Personalized keepsake VIDEO greetings (not interactive — Santa records in his workshop and you receive his special message via email).

INCLUDES access to the Boston Moms Christmas storytime with Santa FREE event December 19, 2020, at 5 p.m.

DETAILS:

  • A 3–5-minute recorded keepsake video personalized for your family. 
  • Each adult who registers will be asked to answer a few questions about their family through a survey provided via email after registration. Santa will use these surveys to make sure each greeting is personalized to your family.
  • Video will be emailed to you and downloadable for your safekeeping. 
  • Along with your video, you’ll receive a photo template that you can use to drop a picture of your family into as your 2020 Santa photo if you so choose.
  • A virtual storytime with Santa plus GIVEAWAYS will happen LIVE on the Boston Moms Holidays at Home Event Page on December 19, 2020. This event is free to the public, but all ticketed attendees will receive a direct link to the event as a reminder.

COST:

Personalized Recorded Greeting (emailed to your preferred email address by 12/10/20): $30/family + taxes and fees.

Storytime with Santa LIVE on Boston Moms Facebook event page: Free

There are a very limited number of tickets available, so please register your family as soon as possible to avoid missing out on the fun!

By reserving a spot, you agree to assume all of the risks associated with your participation. You further agree that Boston Moms LLC shall not be liable and shall be held harmless in any manner.

Due to the complexity of the video recordings, no refunds will be made available. Additionally, all ticket holders will be subscribed to our email list (if they have not been already) in order to provide the most timely and up-to-date event info.

Read Boston Moms full terms and conditions here

Attack of the Earworms!

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Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? Top 40, commercial jingle, or kid tune? It’s more than that — it’s an earworm. No, it’s not gross — that’s the actual name given to a tune that replays in your mind!

Remember that scene in “Inside Out” where the gum commercial song plays in Riley’s head while she’s doing homework? Or for the children of the 80s, Lambchop’s “Song that Doesn’t End?”

As the mother of a toddler who has recently discovered his voice and love of singing, my earworm playlist is on repeat every time we are in the car. Don’t get me wrong, hearing my son’s sweet little voice sing along to his favorite tunes is a milestone that I cherish and champion for him. It also tells me he’s developing a strong sense of memory. He has his favorite songs for sure, but there comes a moment when you could scream if you hear the Rock sing “You’re Welcome” one more time.

Music has always been a big part of my upbringing. As a child, I failed at violin, and my mother sang in the church choir. I sang in chorus and volunteered at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center through high school, meaning I got to see musicals that came to town for free. These days, it’s mostly shower singing and maybe a karaoke night or two.

When I was pregnant, I had a playlist that I’d play whenever I was in the car for Jackson to hear. Even when he was a baby, we’d play live concerts for him from our favorite DJs, and he’d dance in his highchair. Nighttime feedings included Coldplay’s “Yellow” hoping that eventually it’d be a calming mechanism for him. (It’s not.)

However, there are some songs Jackson associates with certain activities — “Something Just Like This” (yes, another Coldplay song) is known as the tubby song. He also refers to “Seasons of Love” as the piano song. He’s just 2.5 years old, so it’s not only entertaining but amazing to us all the lyrics he knows. He’s named for Jackson Hole in Wyoming, but he’ll belt out “Jackson” by Johnny and June Cash as if that were his namesake. Our new nighttime routine involves singing and dancing/jumping around to his favorite songs. He is our in-home DJ and will request songs, even lining them up on what to play after the current song is on. While I’m thankful he’s not into “Baby Shark” on repeat, we’ve officially entered a Disney phase of his musical preferences.

If you’re getting a little tired of your kids’ earworms, feel free to borrow some of ours today. Here are a few of my son Jackson’s favorite hits.

“Hakuna Matata” – The Lion King
“Baby Beluga” – Raffi
“Jackson” – Johnny and June Cash
“Seasons of Love” – Rent
“Something Just Like This” – Coldplay
“We Will Rock You/We are the Champions” – Queen
“You’re Welcome” – Moana
“Un Poco Loco” – Coco
“Get Your Head in the Game” – High School Musical

What’s your earworm playlist?

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The Pumpkin Roll :: A Pandemic-Proof Holiday Tradition

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This holiday season seems to be the latest thing we can add to the “pivot” column. When I learned that Thanksgiving was no longer...