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Women’s Mental Load

There were many articles published last year about the invisible “mental load” after French artist Emma brilliantly illustrated this phenomenon in a comic titled You Should Have Asked. The mental load refers to all the household management work that isn’t clearly visible, but requires maintaining an ongoing mental list of things that need to be done. It’s an immense amount of work, and it is almost exclusively carried by women.

Even though our division of childcare and chores looked pretty even on the surface, I was still responsible for the mental load. And while Mr. Bee would gladly help any time I asked him, the point of the cartoon was that I’d have to ask whereas I, the mom, would automatically assume the role.

mental load comic

Examples of the mental load I carry include:

  • scheduling regular doctor/dentist/optometrist appointments for the entire family
  • keeping up with vaccine schedules
  • scheduling vet appointments and all animal care
  • scheduling haircuts for the kids and cutting their nails
  • keeping track of groceries and household items that need to be replaced and then purchasing it all
  • meal planning and cooking
  • buying clothes for the entire family
  • buying birthday gifts, Halloween costumes, Christmas gifts for the kids
  • planning birthday parties
  • buying gifts for teachers, weddings, other children’s birthday parties, etc.
  • staying on top of school forms
  • planning all travel from booking tickets to packing for the whole family
  • enrolling kids in summer camp and all extracurricular activities
  • purging outgrown clothes and toys
  • all laundry
  • opening mail/paying all bills

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Dogs vs. Cats – Our Experience

I have always been a passionate animal lover and rescuer. Animals have taught me so much about unconditional love, compassion, trust, loyalty, and responsibility and have enriched my life in so many ways. I want my kids to be able to have that same experience so I always knew that they would have pets. Plus dog owners live much longer! Mr. Bee says I’m going to live forever since I love dogs so much.

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We had 2 senior cats when our kids were born and the kids were interested in playing with them, but unfortunately the feeling wasn’t that mutual. One of our cats died of cancer shortly after Olive was born, and her sister is almost 17 years old living with a friend in New York. When we moved to the Philippines, the kids were 4 and 6 years old, and we quickly rescued and adopted over a dozen dogs. We rescued weeks old puppies to injured dogs to senior dogs, and the kids adored them. The dogs were all so grateful to have been rescued. Rescue dogs are the absolute best.

Fast forward two years just before Olive and Charlie turned 6 and 8. We recently rescued a litter of 6 abandoned kittens that were 4 weeks old and kept two — the largest one and the runt of the litter. We’ve fostered lots of puppies, but this was our first litter of kittens. I never imagined that the kids would love kittens as much as they do, but Charlie did ask Santa for a kitten last year. Olive in particular adores the kittens. She would let them nap in her lap for hours each day and was amused by their kitten antics. I think she liked that they were so tiny and she could carry them around, whereas even our smallest 6 pound Yorkie was pretty heavy for her. As cute as puppies were too, once they started teething and biting the kids, the kids weren’t such fans.

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Snapshot: Baby Cupcake at 18 Months

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He’s one and a half! Can I still call him my baby??!!

Fitz sure is a joy to be around! He is still pretty easy going and has a calm temperament, though he is starting to communicate more of his preferences now. He doesn’t say no (which is odd, considering we tell him no all the time!), but he does shake his head “no” when he doesn’t want something. He is the main attraction at my family gatherings, and all of his older cousins entertain him and give him lots of attention. He is super snuggly and when he first wakes up or when he’s getting tired, he will cuddle with me on the couch for quite awhile.

Here are some things that my 18 month old “baby” is up to:

Eating: Almost everything! He loves it all now: meat, fruits, veggies. We went through a picky phase a few months ago, but we pushed through and thankfully now he basically just eats what we’re eating. He is also learning how to use utensils, and he especially loves the occasional cookie or M&Ms that we give him!

Sleeping: Fitz loves to sleep. He will sleep 12 hours at night, and then last just a couple of hours before he wants a morning nap…and then he will also want an afternoon nap! I’ve been asking around and all of his little friends are already down to just one nap, but this works for him so I guess it’s okay. When he gets tired he will actually tell us by waving and blowing kisses, asking for his pacifier, and pointing to his crib!

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Lil Pizza turns 5: A tea party themed birthday party

I can’t believe it but Lil’ Pizza is 5! Earlier this month, we celebrated her birthday and threw her a “fancy tea party.” She was inspired by one of her favorite books from the Fancy Nancy series, Fancy Nancy Tea Parties and requested a party that involved dressing up, making crafts, having a tea party and dancing! Lil’ Pizza’s birthday falls soon after the busyness of the holidays, so we tried to brainstorm our ideas well before Christmas and then started to prepare for the party right after New Year’s Day. I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked but here’s a glimpse at the party!

The guests arrived dressed “fancy” and were brought downstairs to start with crafts. They decorated crowns, fancy cups, place mats and made plume pens. While they were doing crafts, I had two grown ups do hair and nails on the girls. This was a big hit and the girls looked quite glamorous all dressed up with their curls and up-dos. I was also amazed at how patient the little girls were when they got their nails done.

After the girls finished their craft activities and had gotten their hair and nails done, it was time for the tea party. I used tea cups and tea pots from a variety of tea sets and the girls were delighted to use them to fill their cups with pink lemonade. I also laid out cards that had some of Fancy Nancy’s suggested words to use at a tea party which were mostly French. There were notes that mentioned to drink with their pinkies up, to say “merci,” and to call each other darling. As for the food, there were some sweet treats in addition to some simple tea sandwiches with strawberry jam and cream cheese, cucumber spread, ham and cheese, and fairy bread (apparently an Australian favorite which is basically just butter spread on bread with sprinkles).

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Link Roundup – January 11, 2018

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I always think about getting in shape, but in reality I haven’t exercised regularly since I was pregnant with my son over 8 years ago! What makes this year different is that I’m turning 40 years old. That and I live on a tropical island where we wear swimming suits year round. So this is the year… bikini body by 40! Do you have any resolutions this year?

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H E A L T H

Do Parents Make Kids Fat? via New York Times

Fish May Be Good for the Growing Brain via New York Times

Why Is Giving Birth So Hard? via The Atlantic

Why the United States is ‘the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into’ via Los Angeles Times

Over half of American babies are given solids too early via Medical News Today

California flu season could be one of the worst in a decade, state officials say via Los Angeles Times

We’re Not Ready for a Flu Pandemic via New York Times

Ibuprofen linked to male infertility, study says via CNN

Could Weed Be the Next Big Morning Sickness Cure? via Fit Pregnancy

E D U C A T I O N

We can draw school zones to make classrooms less segregated. This is how well your district does. via Vox

When It’s Too Cold For School via Citylab

P A R E N T I N G

Be the Parent Who Puts ‘No Gifts’ on Your Kid’s Birthday Party Invite via Lifehacker

Yes, you should hover! Why kids in school need helicopter parents via Salon

How parents tackle bedtime around the world via CNN

Is Your Child Lying to You? That’s Good via New York Times

Paddington 2 Is Children’s Entertainment at Its Finest via The Atlantic

Why Teens Aren’t Partying Anymore via Wired

Large Shareholders Ask Apple To Help Wean Digital-Addicted Youths via NPR

Will Robots Take Our Children’s Jobs? via New York Times

Here’s how parents can raise successful children, according to a Stanford dean via World Economic Forum

The Great Bra Hunt

After two pregnancies, and two rounds of breastfeeding my bras were in sorry shape. I didn’t invest in new bras after my first pregnancy because I was trying to lose weight and anticipated getting pregnant again. And honestly, I didn’t have a good reason to hold off on bra shopping after my second baby, except having a large bust has always made bra shopping tricky and time consuming. But over the past two months, I focused on finding new bras like it was a life goal and found several styles I love!

First things first, go for a bra fitting if possible. I had my husband watch the kiddos at the mall, while I dashed off for a fitting. This gave me a baseline size to work with. Really, I used the fitting for the band size. For cup size, I knew I wanted full coverage for most of my bras. My day usually involves chasing around my wild three-year-old in a tank top, or teaching in front of college students. Either way I want full coverage bras with some padding. To get full coverage, I went up a cup size and kept the band size the same. I thought I would choose a wireless bra because my old bras were digging in. However, by going up a cup size the wires didn’t dig in and were supportive, which is crucial with a large bust. As with all my shopping adventures, I wanted to find bras that were affordable and fit within my budget. This would allow me to buy a couple of bras in the style I liked. So here are my top picks for affordable, full coverage bras:

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Aerie Sunni Full Coverage Lightly Lined Bras – These are full coverage with padding, and lace trim. This is my new favorite style, and I bought several of these.

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Soma Embraceable Full Coverage Bra – This style was comfortable with great coverage. I alternate between this style and the Aerie bras for comfort.

It’s also nice to have casual comfy bras, especially during the summer humidity. So here are my top picks for casual bras but with less coverage, slightly less support, but very comfortable.

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Gap Body Everyday Smooth Wireless Bras –  These are wireless, so more comfortable, but they still have some padding.

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Parenting as an Introvert

Lately I’ve been feeling burned out even after taking time off over the summer to spend with my kids full time and travel. At first I chalked it up to working too much and having too many side projects. But while spending some time alone last week, I realized that I wasn’t burned out because I’d been working too much; I’d been feeling burned out because I have virtually no alone time. We live in the middle of a resort so there are staff and guests around 24/7, I don’t have any days off, and my kids are homeschooled. That translates into me interacting with people all day every day, and as an introvert alone time is an absolute necessity to recharge my batteries.

Extroverts get energy from being around other people while introverts get energy from being alone. At the end of a busy day talking to people all day long, I’m emotionally and physically drained. My kids have a very late bedtime, and the last thing I want to do is deal with their bedtime shenanigans because by that point I’m completely depleted, and I take it personally when my kids won’t listen and go to bed. I hate that I get so frustrated with them when it isn’t really their fault. I wondered why I got mad at the kids so much more often than Mr. Bee. Was he just way more patient than I was when it came to parenting? I finally realized that I need way more alone time to function than he does, and it was an aha moment.

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I prefer to do most things alone — shopping, running errands, cleaning, etc. I don’t mind eating at restaurants, watching movies and traveling by myself. I not only crave alone time, I need it. But in the daily grind, it can be hard to carve out time for myself when I prioritize family, work, friends, pets, the household instead. In New York, my kids were in school most of the day and I worked at home alone, so I had lots of time to myself, even if that time was spent working. Work was a welcome respite from parenting, which always required a lot of energy for me, and it oftentimes caused me guilt because I wasn’t enjoying it more.

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