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5 Fun Date Night Alternatives to Beat the Blahs & Reconnect with Your Spouse

“…I completely forgot about my daily responsibilities. I didn’t worry about the children at all. I rediscovered the fun version of myself again…”

Life is busy, and when you’re a parent it can be difficult to find time alone with your spouse to reconnect. It’s so easy to fall into the rut of a daily routine filled with work, school, packing lunches, laundry, doctor’s appointments, soccer practice, grocery shopping, ballet lessons, more laundry…well, you know what I’m talking about. Last week I was feeling a little down about all this monotonous drudgery, and confessed to my husband how much I missed the days when he and I were less fettered by obligations and able to enjoy each other’s company, like when we were dating. With two kids and very limited babysitting options, it is rare that we are able to have a date night.

Later that evening Tropical Storm Colin rolled onto the shores of Florida, bringing buckets of rain, downed trees, and flood waters to our town. The next morning my husband surprised me at breakfast by asking if I wanted to ride around and look at the storm fallout while the kids were in school. Continue reading “5 Fun Date Night Alternatives to Beat the Blahs & Reconnect with Your Spouse”

How to Keep Your Latchkey Preteen Safe this School Year

“Although I had been a latchkey kid in middle school eons ago, I was still nervous about leaving my daughter by herself…”

 

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©Tuja66 Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

It’s back-to-school time again, and if you are working full-time outside of the home then you may be faced with how to handle after school care for your preteen.  Middle-school-aged children are beginning to discover their adolescent independence and part of this journey includes the desire to be as autonomous as possible. They no longer want to have adult supervision be referred to as “babysitting” or “childcare” and they may insist that they are old enough to stay home alone.

 

When my oldest daughter was twelve, she begged and pleaded with me to me to let her stop attending the afterschool program and start riding the bus home instead.  Since my husband and I were both working full-time, she would have to walk home from the bus by herself and then spend three to four hours home alone every afternoon. Although I had been a latchkey kid in middle school eons ago, I was still nervous about leaving my daughter by herself for this length of time each day knowing that I wouldn’t be there if she needed help in an emergency. I addressed this by establishing a few guidelines that she agreed to follow and we set up a safety plan together.

Here are a few ways to keep your latchkey kid safe (and you anxiety-free) while you are at work.

Ensure your preteen has access to a phone.

This is essential to any minor that is staying home alone. Review with your preteen what circumstances are appropriate for calling the 9-1-1 emergency dispatch line and what information to report. Make sure they know their home address and phone number.  If possible, install a landline for your child to use in case of emergencies. When 9-1-1 is dialed, land lines can be easily traced by emergency personnel even if your child is unable to speak. In some counties, an ambulance or police officer may be automatically dispatched to the address to check on the caller. This can be life-saving for your child if a true emergency arises while they are home alone. If your preteen has a cell phone, you can teach your child how to use the one-touch emergency call option. Program your contact information into the cell phone using the prefix ICE. This stands for In Case of Emergency and is one method emergency personnel can use to locate your contact information if your child is found unconscious. This article has additional tips on how to use a cell phone during emergencies.

Arrange for your preteen to send you scheduled updates.

Set up specific times for your child to text or call you with updates so that you know when they arrive home, that they have locked the doors, and that they are safely inside.  If your child has access to a cell phone or computer with a camera, ask them to text or email you a “selfie” picture with the afternoon update. This will reassure you that they are home safe and provide you with a current picture should an emergency arise. Because most parents do not remember what outfit their older children wore to school each day having a recent photo is imperative if your preteen should go missing.

Teach your preteen how to maintain home security and personal safety.

Stress to your preteen the importance of not opening the door if someone knocks, keeping the doors and windows locked at all times and setting the security alarm if your home has one. When my daughter first started staying home alone, there were a handful of times that I arrived after work to find her keys still hanging from the doorknob outside. I explained to her that even though she had dutifully locked the door from the inside, it didn’t matter since anyone could’ve easily unlocked it. She was still having trouble remembering to take her keys out of the door. To help her remember, I insisted she text a photo to me of the front door knob after she removed the keys. Some scientific studies have shown it takes at least 66 days to establish a habit, so I had her do this for two months. Though she complained about it a little, it was very effective and she no longer leaves her keys in the lock outside.

Develop a network of emergency contacts.

It is important to establish at least one contact person that your preteen can ask to help them if they are not able to reach you. Where we live, the power and phone line services are frequently interrupted by afternoon thunderstorms, making it difficult sometimes to contact my daughter from work. When this happens, I am able to call one of our neighbors, who agreed to check on my daughter as needed. My daughter knows that she can go to this neighbor’s home in an emergency. We also keep a list of emergency contacts posted on our refrigerator, as well as storing them in my daughter’s cell phone.

Teach your preteen what to do if there is a fire.

Before leaving your preteen home alone for the first time, make sure you review proper fire extinguisher use and fire escape routes with them. Check your fire extinguishers to ensure that they are not expired and that the pressure gauge needle is still in the green zone, indicating that it is ready for use. Store them where your child can easily access them and walk your child through the steps of operation. Keep your fire escape route and safety plan posted on the refrigerator and stored on their cell phone (if they have one).

After we settled into a routine, I was no longer anxious about my preteen staying home alone after school and my daughter enjoyed her new independence.

The Myth of White Privilege: A Southern Woman’s View

“Because I am white, I don’t have to care about black issues.”

I passed these stairs on my daily walk today while thinking about the state of our nation. Suddenly it struck me that they represent what I, and so many other people, are feeling about racism in America right now. We are stuck on a stairway that’s going nowhere. I am not a historian, a professor, a politician or an expert in race relations. I am just a average person living each day in the best way I know how, raising my girls to be the best they can be, and trying to learn from my mistakes as I work at being a wife, mother, daughter, friend, neighbor, and citizen of our great country. I also happen to have been born of parents with German and Scottish decent, so I’m considered a white woman. Does being white really mean I am treated better than someone with a different skin color? Is the concept of “white privilege” just a myth perpetuated by those with an agenda to further divide us and keep us fighting with one another?

Let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about what this concept of white privilege really means.  Because I am white, I don’t have to care about black issues. I get to decide if and how much I want to pay attention to Black Lives Matter. I am in the protected class of people in the U.S. who have the option of choosing to turn off the news, switch on Netflix, and ignore the violence that has been going on for centuries in the black community. Being white means I have the luxury of pretending none of these “black issues” apply to me because I can still smile my way through a traffic stop or play the sympathy card when my car breaks down on the side of the road. I know that I will always be given a pass and that my white children will be accepted by society based solely on their skin color. As a woman growing up in the South, I was taught by example how to “get by” using my feminine looks and my white privilege. Of course it was never labeled as such, but every native of the South knows these unspoken rules. Anyone who says that they don’t is either lying to you or themselves.

If you are confused about what white privilege looks like, keep reading.

Once I had to bail a boyfriend out of jail. I had been up all night worried about him and got lost trying to find the right courtroom. A bailiff helped me find my way. He happened to be white. He offered me a tissue when I started crying because I was afraid my then-boyfriend would go to prison. The judge, also a white male, asked who was here to speak for my boyfriend. The bailiff spoke to the judge and motioned towards me, smiling. The judge set a low bail amount, which was not typical of the type of crime my boyfriend was charged with. One could argue that this could all be coincidence, but it didn’t seem like it to me. At the time, however, I didn’t care. I was glad I was perceived as a sweet little white girl because it worked to my advantage. This is what what white privilege looks like.

When I was much younger, I was hired to work as a hostess in the dining room at a prestigious retirement community.  The first week there, I noticed that I was the only white person working in the cafeteria other than my boss. All of the kitchen staff were black and hidden in the kitchen or behind the food line. I was put out front to greet the retired residents, who were predominately white. After working there for a year, I was approached by someone in the front office and offered a job in bookkeeping  — though I was only nineteen years old, had no college degree and absolutely no experience at all in office work. The housekeepers, janitors, and cooks were all black. Following this line of thought, it goes without saying that all of the administrative staff members were white. Every.Single.One.Of.Them. In the five years I was employed there, this silent unacknowledged job segregation continued and I imagine it is probably still the status quo. This is what white privilege looks like.

And then there was the time one of the (white) residents paced up and down the hallway of the retirement home yelling indignantly for her “nigger girl” to come and walk her to the dining room. The “nigger” she was referring to was a twenty year old college student who was hired by the woman’s family to help her with daily activities. Not a single person in administration spoke up to correct the elderly resident, myself included. Being white and choosing not to speak out when faced with blatant racism — This is what white privilege looks like.

Today I read the Facebook status of a friend, who is black, that described the palpable fear and tension she feels for herself and her beautiful children when around white police officers. She instinctively pulls her babies in closer to her now when white uniformed officers pass by them in a public setting. This is a fear I have not had to face for myself or my family. I’ve always told my girls to trust the police because they are here to protect us. We’ve read books about Officer Friendly and discussed how he will help them if they feel unsafe. This is what white privilege looks like.

In an online group, another friend of mine (who is white) confessed to being raised by racist parents and taught to hate black people. This friend has made conscious efforts in adulthood to turn away from her racist childhood and is by all accounts a loving, accepting and open minded person who is raising her children to embrace all humans equally. However, she said it is an ongoing mental battle for her to push the unwanted automatic racist reactions out of her mind that were programmed into her head during her formative years. My dad was from Kentucky and though he paid lip service to the idea that race didn’t matter, I still remember the time he called someone (black) a “nigger” when they cut him off in traffic. This is the stuff white privilege is made of, folks.

It is the unspoken, unacknowledged, unbidden thoughts and actions that make up our daily choices. It is the words we refuse to say aloud when we witness injustices, the tension we feel but never dare to point out, and all the times the tiny voice in our heads whispers to us with relief, “Whew, at least I don’t have to worry about X,Y, Z. That’s only a problem for black people.”

This brings me back to the original question: Is white privilege really a myth?

To which I counter: Was Hitler’s antisemitism a myth?

Perhaps more than ever before, we white people need to hear these words of Martin Niemöller (1892–1984):

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

If we continue to hide behind our umbrella of white privilege, then we should not be surprised when one day there is no one to speak out for us. We are all people, regardless of skin color. We must learn to face the horrible honest truths that we’ve allowed to dominate our subconscious minds and prevent us from doing the necessary hard work to change this culture of racism in America. We are not special because we are white. We are special because we are people, bound to one another by compassion and humanity and love.

What are your thoughts? Do you think white privilege exists? If so, how has it impacted your life and those that you love? Please let your voice be heard in the comment section below. Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts.

 

 

Rabbit Ears and D.J.s

“Maybe this is why I feel like I’m masturbating all the time …”

As I sit in my kitchen listening to the endless Florida rain, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the feeling of seperateness – how modern society provides a million different ways for humans to connect via the internet and yet we seem to be more disconnected than ever before.  I miss local radio stations with old-fashioned disc jockeys and not knowing what tune was going to play next.  I miss television with rabbit ears and waiting all week to watch Saturday morning cartoons.

We live in the pre-planned, pick-your-own, have-it-your-way-all-the-time era.  Netflix is cued to play only the shows we want to watch at the time most convenient for us, and music is selected for us based on our predictable pattern of past choices.  Maybe this is why I feel like I’m masturbating all the time – there is no sense of spontaneity in anything we do anymore because everything is available all the time with no waiting and no anticipatory excitement – just dull, flat, lukewarm enjoyment.  

I know it’s trite and has been discussed ad nauseum, and perhaps saying these things defines me as ancient, old, uncool, and not part of the current lifestyle – but what I see in this age of extreme convenience is profound unhappiness, impatience, and less tolerance for others. Everyone expects everything to take 7 seconds or less and frankly, I find I’m overwhelmed and bored at the same time.  I want to suffer through that song I “can’t stand” on the radio that the D.J. plays every hour – you know, the one we hear twenty years later that we know all the words to because it was played so frequently on the hit radio station when we were young.  I want to stand around the water cooler with my co-workers discussing if Carrie will finally admit that she loves Mr. Big in next week’s episode.  And when that Musak version of “Purple Rain” pops on in the elevator, and we all start quielty humming to it, I want us to remember that no matter how different we may seem to one another that we are connected by our humanity.  Put down your smartphones and smile at someone today. Ask them about a show they watched or a song they heard recently that reminds them of their childhood. Slow down and take time to connect in person with your friends, your neighbors, your community.  

Veggie Quiche

This Father’s Day I decided to try my hand at making quiche for the men in my life. I made a meat lovers quiche for the boys – my husband, stepdad, and father-in-law – and a veggie version for the girls – my mother, teen, preschooler, and myself. I didn’t follow a recipe but, they turned out great!

DISCLOSURE

This site does incorporate paid advertising and affiliate links.

MamaMadHatter is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen pie crust, whole wheat
  • 1 1/2 cups white potatoes, boiled or steamed and seasoned to taste
  • 1 zucchini, raw and quartered
  • 1 yellow squash, raw and quartered
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup raw yellow corn, frozen or cut fresh from cob
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 eggs, raw
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • Himalayan salt to taste

Prep & assembly:

  1. Mix eggs and cream together until slightly frothy.
  2. Stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese, zucchini, squash, carrots, corn, and spinach.
  3. Layer bottom of pie crust with potatoes, pushing down with fingers to form a base.
  4. Pour egg-veggie-cheese mixture on top of potatoes.
  5. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cheese over top.
  6. Place pie tin on another pan to keep from dripping onto bottom of oven.
  7. Bake at 375 F for 60 minutes or until cooked through.
  8. Cool on baking rack for 15 minutes before serving.
  9. Freeze for later or enjoy now!

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How I Stopped Plantar Fasciitis Pain and Kept Moving

“…I was having trouble putting weight on my foot without wincing.”

Last summer I was racing my kids down the street in flip flops when I suddenly noticed a sharp stabbing pain in the bottom of my left heel. I limped the rest of the way home to the hoops and hollers of my girls yelling, “We beat you; we beat you!!” Later that evening the pain increased and I was having trouble putting weight on my foot without wincing. I tried elevating my foot, icing it, applying heat, and massaging it – nothing worked. I took some ibuprofen and hoped it would be better in the morning. It wasn’t. Being the wise  nurse that I am, I talked myself out of going to see the doctor because nurses are always the worst patients and never follow their own advice.  Continue reading “How I Stopped Plantar Fasciitis Pain and Kept Moving”

Why MFP is my New BFF

“MyFitnessPal (MFP) has made logging my cardio minutes and keeping up with my calorie intake and expenditure a piece of cake.”

After reaching a plateau in my weight loss, I decided last week to start the next chapter in my health and fitness journey: running.  In my quest to gauge and track my diet and fitness goals, I downloaded the free version of MyFitnessPal app to my phone. MyFitnessPal (MFP) has made logging my cardio minutes and keeping up with my calorie intake and expenditure a piece of cake. I wish I had used it sooner!  Continue reading “Why MFP is my New BFF”