I’m Turning into My Mom

0

I'm Turning into My Mom | Twin Cities Mom Collective

I texted my mom the other day and told her the inevitable was happening: I was turning into her.  She seemed pleased.  We had a good laugh.  I’m 40 now and I vividly remember when my mom turned 40.  I was 10.  We had a surprise 40th birthday party for her and she was wearing a navy blue dress with a large white lace half circle collar.  It was the 80’s.  She had short curly hair.  At the time, I thought she was so old!  After all, her hair had begun to turn gray!  She fell asleep on the couch each night watching TV!

Now when I look back at her 40th birthday party pictures, I think she looks so young and vibrant.  40 isn’t even mid-life.  And when I look at myself, now 40, I look older than I used to, no doubt, but I don’t look old enough to be 40, do I?  I still think like a young person.  I know what “on fleek” means, even if I had to google it first.  There was that one time I accidentally called a hashtag a pound sign, but come on, everyone makes mistakes!

Yes, life has come full circle in so many ways.  Besides me being almost 40 with a 10 year old daughter, yanking gray hairs out of my head to avoid the inevitable need to dye, and dozing off on the couch by 8pm when really I’m just “resting my eyes,” there is also something else I’ve slowly started doing over the past five or so years that is completely reminiscent of my mom…

I’ve started talking to random people.

As a kid, I was constantly embarrassed by my mom chatting up strangers.  I couldn’t understand why she would waste so much of her energy and my time just talking to people she didn’t even know!  I tried to shrink into the shadows when she did this, and she did it all the time!  I tried to hurry her along and did a lot of eye rolling.  At the store, at my school, in the line at the grocery store…  I was humiliated, and I let her know how uncool it was to be so friendly.  I was certain that random people didn’t want to talk to my mom either.  The world was supposed to revolve around me, and I felt this unnecessary friendliness was ridiculous.

One of my most embarrassing moments from high school was a time my mom picked me up from speech and debate practice after school when I was a freshman.  We lived about 4-5 blocks from the school and as we drove home, we passed by a senior who was also on the speech and debate team, walking down the road.  I thought this guy was pretty cute but I never, ever would have admitted it.  I just knew I was going to die a slow and painful death when my mom suggested we pull over and ask him if he needed a ride.  No, I insisted!  Really, he most certainly DID NOT need a ride, especially not from us!  But my mom, being the friendly and helpful person she was, pulled over to the side of the road, rolled down MY window, leaned over me, and offered the guy a ride.  She even took it a step further and chatted with him about school and sports.  I was absolutely horrified as I melted into my seat.  Thankfully he declined the offer and said he was just getting some exercise.  This embarrassed me even more, because who asks someone who is out exercising if they need a ride?  We drove away and I swore I would never be able to show my face at school again.

My girls are not even teenagers and yet they’ve already coached me not to talk, hum, or especially sing in public.  I’m allowed to sing in the car, quietly, on limited occasions.  And the times we’re walking on a beautiful day and I feel a joyful spirit tell me to jump up and click my heels?  Not a chance.  They’d rather die.  If I say hello to someone (especially a boy) from their school that they weren’t planning on saying hello to?  Major faux pas.  The times I talk with another mother or teacher at the kids’ school, or make small talk about the weather with a stranger?  “Oh, Mom!”  If I see someone in uniform or wearing a veteran hat and choose to shake their hand and thank them for their service?  Well, I just as soon could have run out of the house naked based on the way my kids react, utterly embarrassed and horrified.

Perhaps it’s just a rite of passage to be horribly embarrassed and humiliated by your parents’ mere existence?  What goes around really comes around when it comes to kids being embarrassed by their parents.  Maybe it’s a just a matter of growing up and gaining more life experience to make you not only appreciate your parents but understand where they were coming from?  One day you realize interacting with your fellow human beings isn’t so bad after all and being yourself is okay.  If my children don’t die of humiliation, it will only make them stronger!  Excuse me while I go embarrass my children now, right before I fall asleep on the couch with the TV on.

Tips & Tricks: Creating a Fun Backdrop

Tips & Tricks: Creating a Fun Backdrop | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Personally, I love a good backdrop for any birthday, holiday, or kid photo! It helps focus the theme of an event while encouraging people to get into the spirit of celebration. At my company, construction2style, we’ve actually had the honor of creating some of the backdrops for previous Twin Cities Mom Collective events.

So today, I wanted to share a few simple tips when you’re trying to create a fun photo backdrop for your kids – or maybe even adult – parties and gatherings!

Less is More

When it comes to setting up displays, I like to live by the rule: less is more. If you have an open wall in your home, shoot it there as it works as a blank canvas to work with.

And remember when snapping the shot to back up. That’s what we all tend to forget to do. Don’t be shy and ask the person taking your photograph to back up too. Quick tip: If someone doesn’t know how to run a camera, just tell them to back up five steps because you can always crop it later!

If you don’t have a blank wall in your room or home, think about the different rooms you do have and what makes your heart happy – that’s always the best place to start.

In our personal home, we always use the biggest wall in our house which also happens to have the tallest ceilings. A win-win when gathering people together for a memorable photo op!

Tips & Tricks: Creating a Fun Backdrop | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Awhile back, I hosted a Galentine’s Day party in our home and quickly put together this fun balloon arch. In fact, we have a full tutorial on our blog for you to recreate this, 6 DIY Galentine Party Ideas.

Tips & Tricks: Creating a Fun Backdrop | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Wrapping Paper to Make it Easy

The best thing about wrapping paper is that it makes for a great backdrop! (And no, I’m not referencing wallpaper… which does the job too!) But actual wrapping paper, as it’s so inexpensive.

Any event we ever host, I always want to create a good backdrop and the first thing I do is go to the dollar store to buy wrapping paper in a fun print…roll it out, hang it up, and tape it securely on the wall. Another key tip is to try to use a space with hardwood or smooth flooring; because if the photo op is on the carpet, the second someone stands on the wrapping paper it might just tear your whole backdrop down. However, if carpet or other soft flooring is your only option, simply end the wrapping paper at the wall and throw down a fun rug or blanket to help create more of a vignette.

Throw up a Sheet

And if you don’t have a blank wall or want to spend money on wrapping paper, a plain, flat bedsheet works great as well! A simple sheet, either plain or with a pattern, makes for the easiest, yet fun backdrop.

And as you can see here, we added a rug and some simple decor to create another fun little vignette too.

Tips & Tricks: Creating a Fun Backdrop | Twin Cities Mom Collective

[Image courtesy of Samantha Lewis Photography]

Add Some Greenery or Florals

You can never go wrong with greenery or florals. With every TCMC backdrop, we’ve utilized florals and greenery as our go-to. With greenery, you can go simple or strong and it always makes the classiest statement.

I hope these few simple tips are helpful for you to create your one of a kind, fun backdrop for any special event. Or to simply snap some fun family photos! Here’s another spring inspired backdrop we completed a few years ago for some inspiration.

Just remember… have fun and get creative!

The Beauty of Hindsight

0

The Beauty of Hindsight | Twin Cities Mom Collective

There are so many things I wish I had known 6 months ago…

Six months ago, I wish I knew the world was about to drastically change. And not just my world, but the entire world.

That fast forward to the world today, August of 2020, and I would find a world so surreal, often times I wake up in the morning wondering if finally that extremely strange “dream” is over. But wait… it’s real life.

Six months ago, I didn’t realize my friend’s and family’s worlds would be completely different. The stranger walking into Target with her nose and mouth covered by an animal print face mask would be just as affected. In fact, most likely, that stranger went through the same challenges I’ve been through. Strangely unified in our separate fights against COVID-19.

Six months ago, my morning routine was seemingly set in stone with my kids. I was probably (always) racing around the house with my make-up done yet still in a bath towel, all while making pancakes and going through the “make sure you don’t forget” list for both me and my kids.  

I’m sure I got everyone loaded into the car, and then gave them a half-hearted good-bye because, even though I wasn’t at work yet, my mind already was. Already prioritizing my 30-minute drive to think through my work day ahead.

Six months ago, without a thought, I walked into my favorite coffee shop to grab my large latte… with my face in my phone, scrolling through social media. I noticed how many people I knew were taking early spring breaks. It looked like such a great idea!

So very recently, I was going to work like everyone else. I had a tiny office – as small as a walk-in closet – and yet, oftentimes my coworkers joined me in that  tight space for work projects and catching up. Our faces and bodies crowding close so we all could view a single computer monitor.

Six months ago, 5 o’clock in the evening would roll around with rush hour traffic moving at its usual slow pace. I was probably rushing to get a child from somewhere. On my drive some nights, I would be too exhausted to be excited about the upcoming evening activities. Some nights, I was a better mom than other nights.  

My days would end the same each day with kids’ bedtimes before mom’s hour of alone time. And my day would end without me ever wondering how the next day would look. Because my tomorrows were always so similar.

Six months ago, I wish I would have known that everyone in the world would be so deeply affected by a pandemic. I wish I would have known that a hug should always be cherished. Then, I wouldn’t have been afraid to hug my loved ones too tightly. And I would have hugged everyone just a bit longer… 

I wish I would have known that I would miss the simple things. You know, like seeing a smiling stranger passing by at the grocery store or enjoying a meal at a favorite restaurant with a group of friends. I also would have told myself not to worry about all the noise of the world, and to only focus on true human connection. And to cherish it.  

Six months ago, I didn’t know. 

But what I DO know now is that the people in our lives and our relationships are important. As is self-care. I now know that my children don’t actually want that much from me, even on the days I feel worn out. They’d prefer quality time spent with family over just about anything else. Was it really only six months ago that I only spent an average of 12 hours per day with them? And most of those hours we were all asleep? In fact, if your kids are like my kids, they have loved having their mom home.  

At the end of this journey, I know that I don’t want to look back in another six months from now only to see that I’ve missed the opportunities that this unique time has afforded me. I don’t want to have slipped back into the habit of focusing only on the seemingly big things in life, but instead to remember the simplistic joy of seeing a stranger’s smile as we pass each other in the frozen food aisle. 

Teamwork

Teamwork | Twin Cities Mom Collective

In an effort to escape the unflagging summer heat, our family makes a weekly pilgrimage to the beach. This past week our 2 young boys splashed in and out of the cool water lining the lakeshore and dug holes in the sand as I casually reminded them, “don’t drink the water,” and “stop throwing sand,” followed by the empty threat of “or we will leave,” per usual. However, within the familiarity of the day, something extraordinary happened.

Someone’s kid began building an elaborate sand canal equipped with a dam. My kids were intrigued and soon they were in on the action, one digging, the other fetching water. At first, other kids stood back and watched, but one by one they wanted to play too. The momentum was contagious and eventually every kid on the beach was working together.

These kids were of every race, age, gender and, I assume, economic status – but none of them had that on their minds. They all needed one another to work as a team in order to complete their sandy undertaking. It was a perfectly orchestrated collaboration. They listened to one another’s ideas and were eager to help, all while sharing their plastic tools. Once they finished they smiled at each other, beaming with pride over their magnificent creation as their parents praised them with “good job(s),” and “well done(s).”

As I sat in the gritty sand, basking in the sun and the pride of my boys’ contribution, I couldn’t help but see their canal building collaboration as a beautiful analogy of what we need in the current state of our country. As parents we are used to teaching our children, however in this case, perhaps we should take their lead. Our young children understand the simple concept of working together as a means to create something amazing. In this way, they all shared in their success of the creation.

This is a time when our country, state, even our local communities need collaboration from every able bodied person of every color, age, gender and economic status. We need change. We need to bring our tools. We need to listen to each others’ ideas. And above all, we need to be eager to help. If we all work together as a team, perhaps our momentum will be contagious and we can create something magnificent. Something that will have us beaming with pride too, and perhaps our kids will praise us with a “well done” one day.

The Season of Yes

0

The Season of Yes | Twin Cities Mom Collective

No doubt, this is a strange time for all of us. It requires adjustment, sacrifice and reassessed priorities. This is a season where we are finding value in family, determining what really matters and discovering a new normal; which will likely just become the only normal. As a parent, saying no is something that happens often and out of necessity. As a working professional, saying no is about managing your time and how you want to spend it, as well as what needs to be done and what needs to be done well. It’s about learning to delegate. But during this strange time, I’ve been surprised to find myself in a season of yes.

Throughout these weeks and months, we were blessed to have a nanny who allowed me to work from home with kids under foot. With a first grader who needed help with distance learning, a pre-K preschooler who missed her friends and a toddler who was busy but loved having her sisters at home, our house was incredibly active (and messy). But for about 6 weeks toward the end of the school year, our nanny needed to take leave to be with her father, who was suffering from an auto-immune disorder.

This meant I was parenting three kids while also trying to work full-time. Some days were easier than others and some just plain sucked. This was a period of time when I said yes to things I might not normally say yes too… like screen time. There is a running joke among parents that there is no such thing as screen time limits during COVID-19, but I still didn’t want my girls to spend all day glued to a screen. Ultimately, I had to be flexible and compromise more than I might have liked in order to participate in meetings and get work done. I also tried to be intentional about time outside, mid-day walks around the block and arts and crafts (thanks to my mom and her weekly boxes filled with things from my childhood).

Lately, another area in life where I find myself saying yes more… is to work opportunities. Perhaps I’m alone in these feelings, but with so much unknown about the future right now, nothing seems certain. This pandemic, while temporary, has no end date. So, I find myself saying yes.

  • Yes to projects at work because I have a job and I want to contribute.
  • Yes to freelance opportunities because I don’t know how long they will last or what might come next.
  • Yes to stretching myself thin because I want to do what I can to prepare for an unknown future.

But I’ve also realized, this is a time to say yes to new things and more help. Being a working mom has never been more challenging. While our nanny is back, my kids still see and distract me throughout the day. This often means that I’m catching up on work in the evening. Further, spending so much time at home has made meals feel much more challenging. It’s daunting to plan what to eat each week, and to have enough on hand for kids who love to snack. When I run to the grocery store, it’s like a competition to see how quickly snacks can be consumed. So as time has passed, instead of shouldering it all alone, I’m accepting help with the household chores, meal planning and errands when I need it.

Because as much as I want to believe it, I cannot do it all. This season of yes means I still have to make choices to make room for the things I’m saying yes too. It’s about priorities and managing my time. I’m saying yes, because I need to, but also because I want to. I’m controlling what I can in a world that feels very out of control.

So tell me, what are you saying yes to lately?

Culinary Adventures to Promote Learning Development

Our partners at New Horizon Academy are here to share how cooking boosts language development, fine motor skills, and math abilities, introduces complex scientific concepts, teaches life skills, and creates lasting memories that both you and your child will treasure.

Culinary Adventures to Promote Learning Development | Twin Cities Mom Collective

At New Horizon Academy, our teachers use classroom cooking activities to promote learning, and you can, too! Please visit our website https://newhorizonacademy.net/look-and-cook to access the recipes.

We understand cooking with your child takes a little more time, a lot more patience, and involves extra clean up, but it is totally worth it! Cooking boosts language development, fine motor skills, and math abilities, introduces complex scientific concepts, teaches life skills, and creates lasting memories that both you and your child will treasure.

Language Development

  • As you talk and describe what you are doing, your child develops new vocabulary words.

Fine Motor Skills

  • Mixing the ingredients, handling kitchen tools, and rolling the dough are all wonderful ways your child develops their fine motor skills.

Math Ability

  • Cooking involves a great deal of math. From measuring, estimating, and sequencing (“What is first…next…last?”), your child is exposed to a multitude of math concepts in fun and meaningful ways.

Scientific Concepts

  • Science is a huge part of the cooking process.
  • Your child will learn what happens when you mix ingredients together.
  • They may even learn about the changing state of matter. Yes, the changing state of matter. The simple act of melting butter provides a wonderful way for your child to learn about a solid turning into a liquid.

Life Skill Development

  • Cooking is a terrific life skill to help your child develop.
  • With each cooking activity, your child will learn important concepts of how to safely use a knife, the importance of not touching a hot stove, how to clean up after they are done cooking and much, much more.

We encourage you to try our Look and Cook Recipes. These are fun, simple, and educational cooking activities that you can do using ingredients you already have in your kitchen. The recipes have a child-friendly design, so that your child can easily follow along, and perhaps make them on their own!

Home Improvement Pep Talk: From One Mom to Another

Home Improvement Pep Talk: From One Mom to Another | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Home improvement projects can be expensive and intimidating.  

When we first moved into our home 7 years ago, I knew what it was going to take to make this fixer upper feel like home. And not only that, this fixer upper was about to be fixed up by a DIY-er (and her friends and family). 

The house was in a prime location with an unbeatable price tag. At first glance, we confidently pronounced, “it’s live-able with a few changes.” Fast forward quite a few years of home improvements, and I now know the real truth behind “a few changes.” It’s like that classic children’s book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…

In the years leading up to the pandemic of 2020, I worked most evenings and weekends, had another child, experienced a spousal separation and a myriad of other life things (like… life!). Shockingly, I never found the time or energy to finish fixing up my home.  

Now, as mentioned, we find ourselves in the middle of 2020 and we’re in the midst of a pandemic which has put a stop to our normally crazy schedules. Nearly all areas of life have come to a screeching halt. But hey, when life gives you lemons… am I right? So I decided to tackle my house.

At first, my self-talk was extremely negative. I wasn’t sure if my planned home improvements were projects I could handle. In all honesty, I was afraid that they may only be things a man could do. After all, single women in DIY home improvements can be hard to find. This would be my first project with power tools, hardware store runs and sleepless evenings thinking to myself, “Oh man, why didn’t I leave this up to the experts?!?!”…  

Leading up to my start date, I planned for a few weeks by watching videos on YouTube that would teach me the basics: like how to drill a hole, fill a hole and anything else I could think I might need to know once the project commenced. I frequented the hardware store, many times purchasing the wrong supplies. Often times I found myself peppering an employee at the store with questions, only to receive the “you must not know what you’re doing” feeling. Therefore, a continuous cycle of purchasing and returning seemed to be the best solution. I’d figure it out eventually, right?

And yet, with lots of perseverance, within a few weeks I had removed popcorn ceilings as well as created a mudroom/bench area in the landing area of my home!

Granted, a big game changer that helped me with this process was finding a community of people to help me: a close friend who could jump in and offer a helpful hand, as well as a group of women online  and in my community where I was able to ask questions. And I realized, it’s fun to connect with other women who have had to overcome the fear of not being able enough to complete a home project. During a pandemic and all, it was such a relief to find this unexpected community of supporters.

An added positive was that in almost no time at all, my children saw Mom do it all.  In fact, after the project was done, my daughter was ready to pick up tools herself and get started on the next project.  

I know home improvement projects can seem daunting and unattainable. But I am here to tell you, there is nothing like the experience of getting started on a project, finding yourself in the middle (when you inevitably hate yourself) and then the wonderful end result.

So just remember: If I’ve got this, so do you. 

A Love Letter to Minneapolis in the Summer

a love letter to Minneapolis in the summer | Twin Cities Mom Collective

My own childhood summers feel like a string of events, peppered by a sort of sparkling magic that only Minnesota can provide. For me, and like other kids, my world felt bookended by two main events: Christmas and summertime. My younger years were good albeit a little non-traditional: I stuck out among my towheaded peers, my parents were divorced, but that didn’t seem to matter because summers felt like worlds all their own set across the backdrop of what I thought was the best city in the world. I could dive into all the things I found joy in, and I wasn’t oppressed by the schoolwork I found daunting and boring.

For a few years, my dad rented a cabin on Madeline Island, a small dot of land on the Wisconsin side of Lake Superior. Sometimes we went up in the winter, too, and that involved driving straight across the ice, not taking a ferry, my dad’s brown hands gripping the steering wheel with a gleam in his eye. Most etched into my mind besides the log home we stayed in, was the small grocery store in the center of town. Inside you could purchase dry goods, basic food items, but also check out library books. I’d read for hours from paperbacks dating to the 1970s, one a scary ghost story that left me too afraid to sleep, instead spending the next morning and hazy afternoon snoozing on the couch. A long set of stairs at the cabin led to the lake, not too cold for a desperate eight-year-old who loved to swim. Oftentimes friends would join us as the cabin, people my dad worked with or families from our South Minneapolis church. I loved sharing the evergreens, midnight blue water, and cute town that I loved with our city friends. One memory remains distinct: my dad’s best college friend and his family, came up with their kids for a weekend. We spent an afternoon on a pebble beach laughing and brought rocks home to decorate with acrylic paint illuminated by a sun filled kitchen table window.

My mom faithfully bought seasonal passes at Shady Oak Beach, just a few minutes from the home I grew up in in St. Louis Park. She encouraged me to dive off the highest board, gave me change for purchasing orange push pops from the ice cream stand, and sat peacefully reading under a wide brimmed sun hat while I made sandcastles or day friends by the shore. Before she outfitted her home with central air we’d sleep in the basement on oppressive nights. Mom would pull out the couch, make a giant bowl of popcorn, and put on a movie on our old, swiveling TV set. I’d wake to the sound of her upstairs in the kitchen, baking or chatting with my aunt on her cordless phone the screen door letting in the sounds of birds.

On weekend days my dad would drive me over to the old Linden Hills Co-Op, buying up fresh black berries and lunch ingredients for grilling. The location has since moved, but every time I’m in the area, my eyes wander for the small grocery. Years later, in my early twenties when I moved just blocks away with college friends, I felt like a small part of me was returning to a memory. Saturday nights dad would take me to the Blockbuster on Hennepin that’s now a restaurant, then returning to his Kenwood apartment to watch whatever I chose by lamplight. There was also Sebastian Joe’s, a fixture so important in my childhood that I captured a photo of it, and had it blown up on canvas for my dad as a gift. When I was pregnant with Priscilla, another memorable summer, I walked in and purchased a patch to sew onto a onesie. Their space has been remodeled, but the counter and chocolate dipped cones still brings back all the nostalgia.

Is it any wonder then that both my children hold summer birthdays? The holy grail of a Minnesota childhood I’d say, ensuring fun and outdoor parties or camping trips. My prayer and hope is that my own children will remember their summers as fondly as I do mine.

a love letter to Minneapolis in the summer | Twin Cities Mom Collective

A Place to Fail

0

A Place to Fail | Twin Cities Mom Collective

I recently went through a week where I made a new-to-me recipe every single night. I didn’t realize I’d done this in my meal plan until about Wednesday, when I noticed I was continually looking at my phone for reference, as opposed to all the recipes that have become standard in my rotation over the years which I’ve memorized and adapted. 

It could have been a case of my subconscious telling me, via meal plan, that it was sick of our days all looking so very much the same. Or maybe all the foodie people I follow on Instagram posted especially good recipes that week. It was probably just a fluke. I don’t know. I guess I needed something different in the routine of the day. I cooked my way through a Thai chicken curry and a simple Mexican chicken and rice skillet and a black bean soup which we ate with a generous amount of tortilla chips. (The kids preferred the tortilla chips solo.) 

It occurred to me while making one of these meals how easy this came to me. I like cooking. I regularly pour over books about food, follow a ridiculous amount of those aforementioned food-related accounts on Instagram, tend to enjoy meal planning, and spend a good amount of time each day thinking about food. I’ve made dinner almost every night of the week since my husband and I were newlyweds. Then, it was because we didn’t have much money for eating out. Most nights I found a way to turn chicken breasts and onions and bell peppers into stir fries or fajitas or rice bowls or pasta.

Fridays were, and still are, the exception. I almost always take a day off each week. “I don’t think I’ve ever cooked on a Friday night,” I heard my grandma say once when she was well into her 80s. That sounded to me like a pretty good #lifegoal. Before we had children, or really before we had our third and were outnumbered by children, we used to go out on Friday nights. 

When our twins were born, they followed us along to Friday night dinners. We ate at 4:30 or 5:00, in near-empty restaurants, before we needed to be home for the bedtime chaos to begin. We’d request a booth and they’d rest next to us in their carseats. As they grew older they sat with us — their tiny-for-their-age bodies swallowed by cavernous high chairs, held up by the blankets we brought with to stuff around them. I’d order grilled chicken and broccoli, which we chopped up small, and they ate by the tiny fistful.

Now we don’t usually eat out on Fridays. Instead, we order takeout after the kids are in bed. (At home date nights: highly recommended. Mostly because you can eat Thai food in your sweatpants and have no need for mascara.)

The point being that Friday nights aside, the vast majority of evenings find me in the kitchen.

I realized, while standing over the stove, that I can do this not just because I follow food blogs and don’t have to Google how to poach a chicken and can adapt recipes on the fly. Because now, if dinner turns out to be a total flop, I can afford to throw it out and begin again. (Though for the record: that week they all turned out delicious.) I mean, because I’m an Enneagram One I will feel awful—terrible—just like I did at Christmastime when I made a pan of cranberry bars that somehow never baked through quite right, even though I’ve made them every Christmas for almost a decade now. The soggy bars—the entire pan of them—went straight into the trash. I’ll moan and gnash my teeth at the waste and the thought of the people who grew this food only for me to throw it away. And truly, it’s not the end of the world. If all else fails, we can grab takeout or make grilled cheese. The five of us don’t need to worry about going hungry if it turns out awful.

I recently took up knitting and was struck by this same thing. I could knit for awhile and make a mistake and the worst thing that happened was having to unravel it all to begin again. It was a safe space to fail. In that way, it reminded me of being in the kitchen.

And this feels like such a gift. In a world where failure is frowned upon, where the stakes seem so high for virtually everything else, there’s something to be said for taking a chance on a recipe, if you can. The world isn’t going to burn because I overcooked the chicken. My kids will survive if they don’t eat a vegetable with dinner for the third night in a row because I know they’ll eventually eat some broccoli again.

In a life where everything feels so high-stakes: work, parenting, marriage, social distancing, social justice, politics, where carelessness in our choices could mean actual life-and-death, there’s something to be said for being able to take a chance without any major consequences. I think we all need a safe place to fail, to drop a stitch, to burn the cookies, where the biggest calamity is to start over and try again. When our lives, particularly now, are so consumed with mothering and caregiving and so many decisions, we can stop to whisk some eggs, pick up a set of knitting needles, or swirl some paint and know we might create something beautiful.

Reminder: 2020 Open Call for New Contributors

2020 Open Call for New Contributors | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Hey there, Mama!

Are you a Twin Cities Mom who enjoys writing?

Are you interested in connecting with other moms and rediscovering your love for creative writing?

Are you the in-the-know mom? The one whose friends always text because you’ve got the scoop – whether it’s knowing what’s happening around town or knowing the how to’s when it comes to your baby/toddler/teen? Twin Cities Moms Collective welcome your know-how, and we’d love to share your voice!

We want to hear from women who are often unheard or under represented when it comes to all parts of their motherhood experience. We have some of your stories, but there is always room for improvement, and we will keep working to share the stories of ALL mothers. For this open call, our goal is to give space to the voices and experiences we aren’t publishing yet. If you enjoy writing, are passionate about motherhood, and don’t see your experience represented by TCMC content, we’d love to hear from you.

So, is it your voice and experience that we’re missing? We want to hear from you!

Maybe it’s not you, but your friend who would be perfect for this! We hope you’ll tell them about this opportunity!

*This is a volunteer role with great exposure! Interested? Check out the full details here!

Turning 40: Quarantine Edition

0

Turning 40: Quarantine Edition | Twin Cities Mom Collective

This year of quarantine has made everything (for everyone) strange and different. Lots of bad and negative things have happened. However, it can be said that there sure are some great things to come of this as well. For one thing, we have learned to bond more and turn to each other for support and love.

In this strange and confusing era we are all still trying to celebrate births, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, loved ones passing and beautiful weddings.  Trying to see the good, and the parts of life that are important. These days bring so many feelings and emotions.

I turned 40 on May 18th, 2020. Leading up to this year, I never had any expectations or fears of turning the big 4-0. I told myself “it’s just a number.” Because you are only as old as you feel… right? And I still feel like I am 25, most of the time. (Except when I try and party like I am 25, then the next day I sure feel old.)

Turning 40: Quarantine Edition | Twin Cities Mom Collective

This year, since everything was closed and we are not suppose to gather in large groups, the options for doing something for my birthday were pretty limited. I told my hubby just being with the family was all I needed. And yet, to my surprise he planned a birthday distance walk, and at each pre-planned stop a new friend joined in on the walk. As a socially distanced group we walked to a park where we could enjoy coffee and catching up.

Seeing all these people – my people – who love me and were willing to walk with me on the journey of turning 40 was pretty amazing. The symbolism was not lost on any of us. And it struck me, we are all so blessed in so many ways. Many times we don’t get a chance to slow down and realize all the people that make our days, weeks, years, and very lives amazing. So as I turned over a page into a new chapter of being 40, I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate another year of life.

Which is what birthdays are all about… celebrating life.

Happy Birthday to all the Mamas out there celebrating during this historic time (and always). Remember you are important, you are special and there is no one else like you. Enjoy your day!

Love,

Mama Janna

2020 Open Call for New Contributors

0

Hey there, Mama!

Are you a Twin Cities Mom who enjoys writing?

Are you interested in connecting with other moms and rediscovering your love for creative writing?

TCMB Open Call for Writers

Are you the in-the-know mom? The one whose friends always text because you’ve got the scoop – whether it’s knowing what’s happening around town or knowing the how to’s when it comes to your baby/toddler/teen? Twin Cities Moms Collective welcome your know-how, and we’d love to share your voice!

We want to hear from women who are often unheard or under represented when it comes to all parts of their motherhood experience. We have some of your stories, but there is always room for improvement, and we will keep working to share the stories of ALL mothers. For this open call, our goal is to give space to the voices and experiences we aren’t publishing yet. If you enjoy writing, are passionate about motherhood, and don’t see your experience represented by TCMC content, we’d love to hear from you.

So, is it your voice and experience that we’re missing? We want to hear from you!

Maybe it’s not you, but your friend who would be perfect for this! We hope you’ll tell them about this opportunity!

*This is a volunteer role with great exposure! Keep reading…

So…how does this work?

If you join our team of contributors, we’ll provide space for you to submit one original post per month that fits within the brand and mission of Twin Cities Mom Collective over the course of the next 12 months.

We put the photo and bio of all of our contributors on the Twin Cities Mom Collective Writer webpage and once it’s safe to be together again, we’ll gather for an official professional photoshoot so we can provide you with a great headshot as an added bonus.

You’re able to put links to your personal blog and/or social media handles (if you choose to share them) in your author bio below your articles, and you may be eligible for opportunities to test out products and/or services before reviewing them on the TCMC website. We’ll also always provide professional editing by our incredible Content Editor on every article you submit.

We do ask that you:

Reside within the Twin Cities metro area
Have passion for women, especially moms, and our community
Be available to be in our private Facebook group for our writers and be available to connect with one another.

So, what’s next?

Fill out the application below and submit your writing sample. Once we close submissions, we’ll let you know that we’re on the way to bury ourselves in all of your content. Ongoing updates will be sent by email!


We are excited that you would consider sharing your thoughts and experiences with the Twin Cities Mom Collective readers! Before you think more on the opportunity, please read the following guidelines and feel free to contact us with any questions.

Think LOCAL | We love to keep our content relevant to the Twin Cities metro area… or at least within driving distance for day trips and outings. Articles can feature places to go and things to do while more general topics {potty training, DIY, working, etc.} are given a local twist simply because they are written by a local mom – YOU!

Think MOMS | It may sound obvious, but TCMC’s target audience is made up of moms, and our deeper mission has always been to serve the woman behind the mother. We were all someone before we had kids and we’re still in there. Always consider that woman through phases of childhood development (how does this affect mom or what does mom need to know), tips and tricks (how does it help mom more than anyone else…even if you’re providing tips for helping kids, it’s to ease mama’s day too), etc. If you have an idea that interests you and your friends, our readers would probably love to read about it too!

Think CONNECTIONS | We encourage you to think critically about ways to engage your audience. Spark our readers’ curiosity, and give them a reason to comment by asking questions – “So tell me, what is the most awful potty training experience you have ever encountered?”
Most Importantly | Write what you love, and love what you write!


As you consider what content to submit as a sample with your application, please think on these important guidelines:

  • Your sample submissions must be original to you, meaning, you are the original author. We take copyright infringement very seriously and always want to honor the work of each individual author as such.
  • The submission with your application should be a sampling of what you’d like to share on the site (500-600 words). You can write a content piece, a how-to list, a need-to-know article or otherwise – we want to know what YOU know about being a mom or a woman and can’t wait to hear what you have to say.
  • Content should be free from the following: profanity, sexual language, political endorsement of a party or candidate, political commentary, op-ed commentary on controversial social and/or political issues, and derogatory or inflammatory language.

School This Fall: We Can Make This Good

School This Fall: We Can Make This Good | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Yesterday I masked up and went into a store. And right there by the entrance stood a display that gets me excited each summer – bright, colorful teacher supplies. I’d normally load up my cart with bins and pencils and materials for my incoming Pre-K students, imagining the names I’d be writing on the nameplates, eager to see their little faces and welcome them to my classroom. There is nothing I love more about my job than open houses and new supplies and sweet, little, shy kids that are on the cusp of discovering who they are this year. I love being a teacher.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has walked into the store and has seen the school supplies and had it hit them all over again – this won’t be a normal year. I didn’t load my cart up. I wanted to. I wanted to as a display of my love for my students, whether they’d physically be in my classroom this fall or not. I mostly wanted to as a sign of hope – a sign of hope that even if they aren’t in my room this fall, I am still ready for them when they do come back.

Everyone is talking about what will happen in the fall with our children’s schools. 

Students are worried.

Parents are worried.

Teachers are worried.

I am a parent and a teacher, so I am worried times a bazillion, because the weight of everyone’s fears is mine. Sometimes the anxiety of what’s ahead consumes me a little more than I’d like to admit. 

In the spring we quickly jumped into survival distance learning mode without any warning. We did what needed to happen for our families in a situation we had never been in before. Would it be two weeks? Would it be a month? Would it be the rest of the school year? We followed orders and obeyed new rules and did everything we could to keep our families safe and healthy by staying home and pushing through a difficult end of the school year. 

Many of us had both jobs and parenting to tackle at once and it pushed us to our limits.

But, we did it.

Before summer started I was deeply saddened that we wouldn’t have the normal summer we usually look forward to. Lost trips to visit family spread around the country and time at the pool were some of my greatest grievances. We weren’t sure how we’d do this summer in a way that made us happy, but we are doing it and we’re doing it pretty well. We are finding new ways of giving our children some semblance of normalcy and fun. I am adapting, the kids are adapting. 

Have you noticed how anytime you think about the unknowns of school in the fall there’s a creeping sensation that we won’t be able to do this? And how it instantly sucks up your current joy and pride in all we’ve accomplished thus far in a pandemic? We suddenly only remember the struggle of the spring. We remember the anxiety and the pain and sadness we felt in our unsatisfactory jobs and our children’s school experience and everyone’s mental and physical health. The thoughts are intrusive and scary.

But, those thoughts and feelings are an important part of moving forward. I’m learning to acknowledge them and talk through them. In the spring the best part of teaching was taken away from me – time with my students. However, we discovered some pretty great ways of keeping in touch. It wasn’t perfect, but we did it. 

In the spring the changes were sprung on us quickly and we acted quickly. Now, we are slowly creeping forward with a number of scenarios being thrown at us, none of which we are comfortable with. This is our current problem and this is the scariest part – we are afraid we can’t do do it again. Some of us know we can’t. I know that many can’t. And the lack of control can be paralyzing. We are being thrown into new situations without much agency to control change. 

As a teacher, I look at the fall and don’t see any good options. They all trouble me and they all steal my usual start of the school year joy. This is where my mind goes when I think about the fall – that it’s just too much to try to do. 

I’m not here to tell you you can do it and it’ll be fine. But I am here to tell you that you’ve been doing it so far and if we have to keep doing things in a new way this year, we don’t need to do it alone. We can do it.

We can pool together our mental health resources. 

We can pool together our academic resources for our children.

We can get creative when it comes to socialization and combating isolation.

We can support our teachers and school staff and make sure they feel safe and appreciated. 

We can encourage our children as they embark on a new adventure and surprise us with their resiliency. 

We can help each other out with finding childcare resources and we can definitely encourage each other when we feel overwhelmed. And please, remember if this is to be done as a community, we must include most vulnerable families amongst us. 

We’ve never done whatever it is that’s going to be asked of us this fall, but we’ve done hard things this year and I believe we can do it again. Some days I feel we can because I know we are stronger than we realize, but some days I mostly believe we can because we have no other option. 

I am afraid and concerned for my family and my students, but my plan is to take my fears and concerns and know that they will be moved to action just as they were before. Because quite honestly, the thought of not going into this fall with a positive mindset scares me even more. I am a weary and tired teacher who doesn’t want to lose the most amazing part of my job this year – time with your children in a safe setting. So, I, like you, will take baby steps as we move forward and I promise I will be ready for them this fall in whatever way I need to be. 

It may be hard, but we can make this good.

Keep Planting

0

Keep Planting | Twin Cities Mom Collective

Every year I’m inclined to plant a vegetable garden. I begin with hopefulness and resolution. I plan what I want to grow, and dream indulgently about the armloads of produce I’ll collect by the end of the season.

Our family designates a weekend in May, and then we get out the gardening tools and till up the soil. We labor over hoeing straight rows, then we empty the paper seed packets as we carefully space each tiny seed out in the soil.

And then….well…it gets too hot, or too humid, or I’m pregnant, or there’s a mosquito plague. The weeds grow faster than the vegetables, and pretty soon I can’t tell where our straight rows of produce went.

Fascinatingly, I keep planting a garden every year! I keep fighting the weeds every year, but there’s something in me that just can’t give up on this idea. Each year, the possibility of a different outcome woos me to try again.

I was thinking and thinking about why I do this. Why do I keep planting when I don’t know if it will actually work?

I think I plant because I know the outcome if I don’t plant – nothing will grow. That is certain.

So each year finds me planting again. Watering again. Weeding again. All in hopes that it might produce something of worth.

Isn’t that parenting?

We keep going day after day, week after week, year after year. We encounter new challenges as our kids enter each new stage, and we keep reading and learning and shaping and loving. We keep pouring into our kids, not certain of the outcome, but doing so regardless because that’s what we do as parents. We know the outcome of doing nothing – the weeds will grow up and swallow the potential that these little ones are capable of.

So we pick up our tired bodies. We ready the soil of their hearts. We carefully choose the seeds that are right for each kid, and then we plant. We work to remove the things that don’t belong and the things that would hinder. We pour out our love to nurture them.

And then? Then we step back and watch them grow.

FOLLOW US

42,372FansLike
17,735FollowersFollow
2,617FollowersFollow
3,440FollowersFollow

Mom Life

I’m Turning into My Mom

0
I texted my mom the other day and told her the inevitable was happening: I was turning into her.  She seemed pleased.  We had...

The Beauty of Hindsight

Teamwork

A Place to Fail