Monday, May 2, 2016

Mom's Code Chronicle #5 Celebrations and Mishaps

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Written by Eileen Wacker

My most profound memories stand out as moments of extreme joy or pain. Many of the most joyous ones happened during celebrations when I embraced my family’s love, received gifts, ate favorite foods, dressed in new clothes, and felt perfectly carefree without school or other obligations.

But that was when I was young and sat on the fence as to whether unicorns are actually real. As a mom, I started to consider celebrations a chore.  They are endless: birthdays (including the dogs), Christmas, Thanksgiving, July 4th, Halloween, Easter, and Valentines Day are the headliners. Then there are graduation ceremonies starting with pre-school, piano recital parties and all those Monday holidays too numerous to list. So things can get a little out of control.

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It’s the end of April and I’m planning three kids’ birthday parties, an eighth grade graduation, and the family summer vacation. This is all in addition to the ‘normal routine’.

I put too much emphasis on creating perfect celebration events. As a mom of four, I feel like I own the traditions and should create memories to last a lifetime. But inevitably, a thousand issues push their way onto my perfect planning. I’ve had meltdowns at my kids’ carefully orchestrated and expensive birthday parties. One time an angry clown showed up and scared my son; to this day we avoid clowns.  Or when my daughter’s best friend ignored her during her party or yet another time when the dog took a big bite out of the Nemo birthday cake.

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Then there are vacations, which are supposed to be times of perfect familial bliss. We’ve spent a lot of money and I’ve put a lot of time and energy into planning and creating the appropriate atmosphere of excitement. Then I yelled at my kids at the happiest place on earth, yes Disney. And at least one child has packed dreadfully wrong every time. One time my son took all his clothes out of the suitcase and packed only Halloween costumes for a beach vacation. We never all have the right bathing suits, and, sunscreen leaks in the suitcase are a common occurrence. When we ski during the holiday season, there is always someone who has no pants or forgot covered shoes.

I can mess up any holiday! I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner and the oven broke two hours into cooking the turkey. So we ate take-out Chinese food (and it was delicious). Now we eat a fine meal at an upscale hotel in Kauai every year. I know I’m in a good mood when all my kids resemble glasses of champagne. And then someone actually serves me one. I look at my husband and kids and feel festive and happy. Even when the kids eat the dessert first, order French fries off the menu, and the birds swoop in and eat food off our plates.

So now, in April, I take a deep breath and remember that it’s who’s sitting next to me that make it a celebration. It really doesn’t take a lot to have fun. I know what kind of cake my kids like by now. I can handle any birthday party with one Costco run. And iTunes cards double as a birthday gift or party favor.

The Moms Code author Eileen Wacker also writes the acclaimed childrens books The Fujimini Adventure Series Many proud parents just like you appreciate multi-cultural education for your children.  Find the book series by clicking here. 

I remind myself to celebrate smaller things; celebrate good moments. I pick up my son and he tells me he got a great grade in Spanish. “You got an A on your homework? Well that is worth celebrating!” I half yell in an inappropriately cheerful voice. He looks at me with raised eyebrows and asks if I’m okay. Then I pick up my little girl and she’s had a tough day. People on her group project are not getting along and someone called her small.

I put on my pretend birthday party hat. There is something worth celebrating every day. Life is not easy for anyone, adult or child. Kids have big schedules. They have to work through adversity at school, deal with insensitive teachers and coaches. Strive to establish their identity. I want to keep the atmosphere light and happy. My little girl loves an iced tea and a chocolate croissant from Starbucks. It’s all it takes to have her light up and feel completely happy. Someday, I’m going to kill for the moments when the price of a smile was an iced tea.

I want to celebrate the journey and all the accomplishments, big and small, along the way. After all this practicing of celebrating the small stuff, I’ll be a whiz at the big celebrations. My little girl says, “Mom, all you need is wrapping paper and cupcakes.” I ask her, “For the summer vacation or birthday party?” She smiles and says, “Both. I always forget my bathing suit anyways so I can wear wrapping paper. That would be funny.”


She’s right. It would be funny and we would have another entry for our family blooper reel of celebrations.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How A Mom Helps When Holidays Go Wrong


Guest blog by Kenna McHugh
“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness.” 
― Bob Hope

My children have always loved Christmas.
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My sister-in-law announced, “We’ve decided to celebrate Christmas with the family on Christmas Eve. I know, we haven’t done it before, but we have an early flight to Mexico the day after Christmas, and we don’t want to be tired for the flight.” 
Looking at my brother’s wife, Karen, I never thought switching the date would adversely affect my family’s holiday celebration.  I said, “I am all for it. It will be fun celebrating on Christmas Eve.” 
My other sister-in-law, Cindy, voiced some doubt, “Don’t think Bob is going to budge. You know how he insists we go to his sister’s every Christmas Eve. I am just saying. I don’t think it will work."

The Moms Code author Eileen Wacker also writes the acclaimed childrens books The Fujimini Adventure Series Many proud parents just like you appreciate multi-cultural education for your children.  Find the book series by clicking here.
I lamented to myself, “Why couldn’t I be as wealthy as my brother, then my house would be large enough to accommodate the whole family. We could celebrate as usual on Christmas Day. His family can leave early, and nothing would change.”   
I informed my family about the change, and they didn’t want to budge either. My kids spoke of the tradition of opening the one present, new pajamas, every Christmas Eve. My husband reminded me that he usually works late on Christmas Eve. It’s one of the busiest days for his company.  
“It will be great because you will be with your cousins. We’ll open the pajama presents when we get home from the family’s party. Christmas will be our day together.” 
I forced a smile at my husband, “It will all work out.”
 On Christmas Eve the bad vibes arrived. My husband texts, “Snow is falling, roads are closed. I am not making it home tonight.” 
My kids were not happy, “Can we still open our pajama presents when we get home?”
“Yes. You can open your pajama presents. We still have our family to celebrate Christmas with, and Dad will be home by morning.” 
We arrived at my brother’s on time, and they were already opening presents.  My son and daughter looked at me like, “What is going on?”  
I quickly passed around the presents, confusion everywhere with my nieces and nephews playing with presents they already opened.  Their parents corralled them together to open our presents. 

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Cindy left with her family to go to Bob’s sisters house. We had no time to talk or acknowledge presents. My daughter’s favorite cousin left. She will have no one to hang out with, and she gave me the teary-eyed look, “My night is ruined.” 
My son ran upstairs with my nephew, and my daughter latched on to me.  I poured a red, and hoped for the best. Soon one of my brother’s clients and his wife and children arrived. I couldn’t control the sentiment, “I thought this was a family affair.”
My daughter and I were completely ignored, and we went home early. But then, my husband arrived in time to open the pajamas. Something as small as opening pajamas lifted the mood and we were truly happy to have Daddy back and our family together. Everything else melted away.
 The next day was wonderful, celebrating Christmas as a small family and grateful for the simple occasion. The kids, of course, loved opening the gifts and I appreciated my small circle of happy people celebrating. I changed my mind about the big house. Christmas is not about the size of the house, it’s about who is in it. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

How a Mom Handles the Holidays

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Written by Guest blogger
Shelle Lenssen

As a kid, I remember holidays and special occasions being a these fun and magical times filled with family togetherness, my favorite foods, and exciting activities. Depending on the holiday, I looked forward to a house full of visitors, opening dozens of presents, drinking out of the “fancy” glasses, and dressing up in a pretty dress and donning new shoes. I don’t think I ever once pondered the amount of time, energy, and work that went into making these childhood memories. But now that I’m a mom, and the one in charge of making holidays memorable, I know exactly how much preparation and hard work go into one simple day or event.

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I’m a list-maker, so when a holiday is on the horizon, my lists just get longer and longer. Ideally I plan the guest list and menu first, and then fit in activities and any other extras that might make the event special. But ideal situations, are just that, ideal, and aren’t what typically happens.  Inevitably, a guest (or two) is added last-minute, travel plans change, a kid spills punch on their nice clothes, or someone suddenly decides they’re only following a vegan diet. Those are the times I’ve wanted to freak out, but instead I took a breath, kept a smile on my face, and tried my best to come up with a reasonable solution. An extra place setting can be added, dinner can be re-heated for tardy guests, children can wear different outfits, and I can always throw a bag of steamed veggies in the microwave. As much as I try for ‘ideal’, sometimes settling for ‘okay’ allows me to not put as much pressure on myself and actually enjoy the event I’ve worked so hard to create.

The Moms Code author Eileen Wacker also writes the acclaimed childrens books The Fujimini Adventure Series Many proud parents just like you appreciate multi-cultural education for your children.  Find the book series by clicking here.

My absolute worst holiday near-disaster happened last Christmas. I had planned an extensive menu for my family and out-of-town guests, with a large prime rib beef roast serving as the meal’s shining star. Midway through roasting, my trusty meat thermometer quit working, and despite my best guess about cooking time, the slices of prime rib looked raw instead of the medium rare perfection I’d envisioned. I wanted to cry, have a tantrum my toddler would be proud of, and lock myself in my bedroom and not come out until Christmas was over. My good husband has learned to recognize the signs of a pending meltdown, and swooped in with a resolution to save his drowning wife. Roast slices were quickly grilled on the stove and no one had to eat raw meat. The meal turned out just fine, and by the time dessert was served, everyone was laughing over shared jokes, pouring another glass of wine, and not at all thinking about the underdone roast fiasco.


I certainly don’t want to ever have a holiday disaster like that again, but if (or when) it happens, I hope I can be cool-headed enough (or have my quick-thinking husband nearby) to go off-script and improvise.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

What Every Mom Yearns For

Written by Guest Blogger
Zainab Sulemanjee

Eileen Wacker, a Harvard Business graduate and author, pours her heart out in “The Moms Code”. The book provides great insights into the lives of working mothers who hardly live for themselves and recommends activities essential to the mental and spiritual wellbeing of a mother.  

Learn more about The Moms Code.  Like The Moms Code on Facebook  Follow The Moms Code on Twitter.  Find on Instagram.

Eileen stresses the importance of a girls night out every once in a while. Since working moms are constantly under tremendous domestic and work pressure, they need to unwind and relax with their girlfriends. Not only is a working mother continuously dealing with numerous responsibilities, commitments and criticism throughout the day, but also multitasking as her many roles demand. This time out provides a mom with the perfect therapeutic opportunity to speak out her mind, voice her concerns, and most importantly, be herself. I can relate. A few days back, my kids had exams, I was hosting guests from abroad, preparing for my sister’s wedding and had workload of writing assignments, I felt on the verge of nervous breakdown. My best friend became my savior. One evening, she dropped by my place with tickets to a movie I wanted to see and dragged me out of my house. A delicious dinner over a wholesome chat, made me understand that a few hours out just to myself was all I needed.

Eileen says that women have to save each other at different points in time.  All moms, particularly working moms are playing multiple roles: wife, mother, homemaker, and career woman. It’s a challenge to maintain your own identity and sanctity throughout it all. All these commitments may break us down at some point in time, so it is essential that we all be there for one another in times of need and difficulty. And helping without the expectation of a reward or a similar act of kindness, but be nice to other moms simply because you are the best person who can relate to them. By being available and kind to others, we are enhancing the core values in our child. He/she will be a better human being so that the circle of love and kindness can continue.

Many proud parents just like you appreciate multi-cultural education for your children.  Written by the same author as The Moms Code, find the childrens book series by clicking here.
Another part of Eileen’s mom’s code is to advocate politely. For me, this means lessening differences among moms due to unnecessary involvement and obsession in their children’s activities. Feelings of competitiveness and rivalry can flare up in such situations through hyper parenting. We need to positively tackle this issue. When my eldest started school, I was constantly in touch with other moms to determine whether my son was on par with other kids in his class. In fact I became so obsessed that I started following each and every activity of a child who was excelling in class. Whatever he did, I made sure my son attempted it, whatever activity he enrolled in, I followed. Finally, my nosy intervention resulted in an argument with the child’s mom. Later, I realized I was wrong and apologized. I was caught up but don’t want to be the constantly comparing mom so I’m working on pushing down the urge when it surfaces.


I am a mom of three who juggles raising kids, running the house, and my writing career, I can very well identify and relate to Eileen’s stance on how the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional upliftment is necessary for a woman. I yearn for a weekend break in a silent and serene environment which not only provides me with a rejuvenating feeling but also reignites the zeal to pursue my domestic and career obligations with greater enthusiasm. However, despite this I too go through difficult and stressful phases, where juggling home and work becomes tiresome. Here my female coworkers, peers and particularly my family provide me with undeterred support and cooperation.

Is Facebook Fabulous Your Real Life?

Written by Guest blogger
Shelle Lenssen

It’s Spring Break. That means every family in town has packed up and flown off to some exotic and beautiful vacation destination. The kids are all smiles in their new bathing suits on the beach, and the parents look relaxed and well-rested posing with drinks by the pool. Life is perfect and wonderful and fabulous, right? If I believed every single post and picture on my Facebook feed, then yes, I’d have to say that for many of my family and friends, life is pretty dang perfect. It also seems like my little family is the only one in the whole world not on vacation, the only one with kids who fight and parents who look stressed. If I’m comparing their Facebook Lives to my Real Life, mine loses every single time.

Learn more about The Moms Code.  Like The Moms Code on Facebook  Follow The Moms Code on Twitter.  Find on Instagram.

This doesn’t just go for vacations. I get jealous of others’ Facebook Fabulous lives in other ways too. I compare a friend’s “I LOVE my new car!” post with my “We’re fixing this piece-of-crap again?” reality. Another friend’s shiny pictures of her newly remodeled kitchen make me look at my stained tile and aging appliances with disgust. Posts of other moms putting on cutesy kids’ scavenger hunts, backyard campouts, and Pinterest Perfect birthday parties make me feel like the lamest mom ever.

All of this comparison inspired me to inspect my own Facebook profile. Is there anything on social media that others would be jealous of? Could anyone possibly be comparing their Real Life with my Facebook Life and feeling like a complete failure? As much as I’d like my posts and pictures to be an honest reflection of what’s real, I could see I was only sharing the best and forgetting the less-than-lovely rest.

A recent post shows my two daughters smiling for photos at a science exhibit outing (of course, no photos of the toddler throwing an epic tantrum in the hallway). Another post shows our family enjoying a long weekend road trip full of museum stops, lots of playtime, and general merriment. (There are no mentions of whiney, road-weary children, spilled snacks in the backseat, or parents arguing over driving directions and where to stop for lunch.) If all anyone knew about me came from what I posted on Facebook, they’d think I’m a super fun mommy who constantly takes her kids on educational excursions and is always up for spontaneous weekend adventures. I sincerely hope no mom has ever felt “less-than” after reading something I posted, but I can see how I might be part of the problem.

The Moms Code author Eileen Wacker also writes the acclaimed childrens books The Fujimini Adventure Series Many proud parents just like you appreciate multi-cultural education for your children.  Find the book series by clicking here.


The phrase “comparison is the thief of joy,” seems especially relevant in this social media age. If I’m constantly feeling like my house/car/parties/trips don’t measure up, then I’m not enjoying my life as it is right now. When I feel sorry for myself and think others have the perfect Facebook Fabulous life, I miss out on the real, messy, and pretty awesome life happening right now in front of me, and not on a screen.