Category Archives: Hard Reality

Snowflakes for the Newtown, CT Students Return to School ~ How You Can Help!

Everyone has been deeply affected by the tragedy that took place a week ago in Newtown, CT.  All of us at Suede Sofa were teachers prior to turning in our plan books for diapers and mommy blogging.  I was a 1st grade teacher, Lara was a music teacher, and Robynn was a science teacher and school counselor.  Now being stay-at-home moms we felt compelled to do something for the children of Newtown, CT who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School the day of that senseless act that stole the lives of 20 children whose ages are similar to that of our own.

snow

The following letter explains a simple snowflake project that you can do with your children or grandchildren to send to the Newtown PTA to help decorate the new school that the children will be going to after the Christmas break.  Although my children are too young to understand what took place, I was happy to make a special snowflake with each of them to send off in hopes of putting a smile on the face of another child.

snowflake~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Jersey Strong and Thankful

There is nothing that could have prepared any of us for the DeVaStATiOn that resulted from Hurricane Sandy blowing through the Jersey Shore.  My children are the 4th generation of family spending summers on Chadwick Beach so seeing homes that have been in the backdrop of photographs with my grandparents  tossed on their sides and nearly unrecognizable was heartbreaking.  Those of you who follow our blog know how much the beach means to my family.  From my seaglass collection to finding special shells with my children to make wreaths or to just paint for fun, Chadwick Beach has been our own little paradise right here in our own backyard.  Chadwick Beach is on a barrier island that rests between the Atlantic Ocean and the bay.  During the storm the water from the bay and the ocean met causing extensive flooding.  Our family home was filled with a foot and a half of water in the first floor, but thankfully it is still standing.  Others were not so lucky. Neighborhoods of houses were completely washed away into the Atlantic Ocean.  Another beach suffered a tremendous loss when gas lines exploded and blocks of houses burned to the ground.

Abby on our beach path Summer 2012

Back home we lost power from the storm for six days and lived on a generator that we used conservatively because of a major gas shortage in the state of New Jersey.  My brother-in-law waited on a line for four hours in the middle of the night to fill up his car and some gas cans to keep his own generator running.  It was a very scary week for all of us and at the same time we were trying to find out any information we could about the shore house.  Thankfully my parents had full power fifteen minutes away and we were able to drive over there during the day to watch the news, stay warm, and let the kids play in some normalcy.

My second summer at Chadwick Beach ~ Summer 1978

Now that the power has been restored, the gas lines are back to normal, and we look forward to rebuilding our Jersey Shore back to its original beauty I am trying not to focus on what was lost.  The hurricane may have washed away many of the buildings and landmarks that were symbols of our shore, but nothing can take away our MeMoRiEs.  Let’s be thankful for what we have, and not ever for a second take anything for granted, it might not be there tomorrow.

This picture shows the two houses that line the beach path that Abby was on in the above photo.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving  celebrating

all that you have to be ThAnKfUl for!

My little loves

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Just Do It – Say “I’m Sorry”

As humans none of us are perfect and we all make mistakes.  Sometimes on accident, sometimes on purpose.  And occasionally sometimes those mistakes call for an apology.  Whether or not we give one is completely another story.

Knowing I need to say “I’m sorry.” to someone gives that sinking feeling in my stomach because a true apology requires complete humility.  It requires that I put aside any justification on my part, any of those pathetic, “I’m sorry if I offended you.” pseudo apologies and just say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”  But when I finally do, I feel like I’m walking on air.  I guess that is because a clear conscience is as the MasterCard commercial says, “Priceless.”

Do you need to make a sincere apology?  What are you waiting for?  Free yourself from the pain of a guilty conscience and just do it – say “I’m sorry.”

:) Robynn

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Mommies…Can’t we just support each other?

I have to admit I am a total junkie for the Your E Cards that have been popping up all over Facebook and Pinterest, but this one really pushes my buttons.  When my son was born my husband and I made the decision together that I would leave my job and stay home to raise our kids.  I understand that this choice is not something that is possible for every family and that there are many women who may not want to leave their career.  However, I am finding there is still a disrespect for the stay-at-home mom with the “What do you do all day” AtTiTuDe and in turn the working moms seem to face the, “Oh you’re so lucky you get a break at work” NoNsEnSe!

Keep in mind…I’m not an expert.  I am basically going off of my own experience and that of my sister who is a working mom of a 3 1/2 year old.  In this day and age we are all just trying to get through the day whether we work or not.  When are we all going to WaKe Up and realize that stay-at-home, working, part-time, full-time, married, divorced…WhAtEvEr…we are in this together.  Instead of putting others down or making them feel inferior maybe we should take a minute and think of what their day might be like.  I think a better rule of thumb would be…

Don’t Judge Until You’ve

Walked A Mile In Their Shoes

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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You Can Do It!

As many of you have read I have struggled with finding the will to exercise for many years now.  I’ve made excuses for excuses and had convinced myself that even walking was just too much for me to handle.  While reading an article on the beach last week something FiNaLlY sank in and I thought to myself, “Stop making excuses…YoU CaN Do It!”  I have a feeling it was the cute pair of pink sneakers that got me, but who cares…I am happy to report that I’ve walked 4 mornings this week and my goal was only to walk 3!

Is there an area in your life that you’ve been neglecting?  Maybe it’s not exercise or weight loss, but a hobby you’ve been meaning to get into or a project you started that you’ve been pushing aside or didn’t even start because you thought it was going to be too difficult.  Try to remind yourself that starting new endeavors can’t always be easy.  Feeling proud about what you’ve accomplished makes it all worth it!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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A Tradition of Giving

This past weekend my son went to a 5th birthday party for his friend, but instead of bringing a present for the Birthday Boy, he brought a bathing suit that will be donated along with a sackful of others to children who until now didn’t own a bathing suit of their own.  My friend Bridget started a tradition in her family where her boys choose a charity to collect items for in lieu of gifts at their birthday parties.  I was so ImPrEsSeD with the uniqueness of this idea that I had to share it with all of you!  I hope it will touch your HeArTs as it has mine and that maybe you will start a similar tradition with your children as I plan to do with my kids in the future!

Cael with all of the bathing suits he is donating to the children who attend Camp Hope NJ!

RoByN: What first gave you the idea to collect something for charity in lieu of gifts at your kid’s birthday parties?
BrIdGeT: The idea really came just because they have so many toys and what more could they possibly get??? We like to have big parties, but I (selfishly) couldn’t stand the thought of another 20+ toys in the house.
RoByN: Did your boys give you a hard time at first?
BrIdGeT: They never had a problem with it (surprisingly). They are given a choice of a big party with donations or a special birthday experience with 2 friends.  They always choose the party.  We then take some time to find a charity that they are excited about donating to.  Of course, they still get presents from us and our families.
RoByN: How did you hear about Kids4Kids Project Camp Hope, the camp that your son chose to collect swim suits for at his recent birthday party?
BrIdGeT: We heard about Kids4Kids Camp Hope through my older son’s school.  They were collecting suits this spring for the camp and it seemed to be a great fit for a summer birthday.
RoByN: What other charities have you donated to in the past for others who are looking for ideas to get started?
BrIdGeT: We have donated to The Pajama Program, Toys for Tots, and  I also looked into toy donations for The Valerie Fund.
RoByN: What do you hope the children attending the parties will learn from bringing something for someone in need?
BrIdGeT:  My kids have learned that it actually makes them pretty happy to help other people.  It’s the reminder they need once in a while to show them how fortunate they truly are.  There are so many great charities that the kids can relate to so that they are excited when the donations come in.  Cael was so happy yesterday to see that someone donated an Angry Birds bathing suit!  So I’m hoping other kids will learn that giving to others can also make them pretty happy too!
~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Filed under Getting Real, Good Life, Hard Reality, Holiday, Kid Stuff, Life, Parenthood, RANDO•RAMA, Relationships

Mommy Guilt

Ever feel like you are FaiLiNg as a parent? Chances are your kids would disagree with you.  There have been countless times when I have planned an activity that didn’t work out, attempted to bake brownies that came out burnt on the sides and gooey in the middle, or promised to devote uninterrupted time to my kids but got sidetracked by the phone, doorbell, email, or some other emergency that needed to be taken care of.  I truly believe we Mommies are much harder on ourselves than any jury of kids would ever be.


I was reminded of this just last week when I tried out a recipe for sidewalk paint made with food-coloring and cornstarch.  In my mind the paint was a total fail…it was too runny, made a giant mess, took me too long to make, and it stained the patio.  If you asked my kids what they thought I guarantee they would disagree with me.  They loved watching the red and blue paint turn into purple and had a BlAsT  painting each others feet with this new concoction of color that Mommy made for them.

The next time you are being hard on yourself as all of us Moms do…take a look at life through the eyes and mind of your child and you will find that you too are a SuPeR MoM!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Are You Focused?

Have you stayed focused on the goals you set for yourself to accomplish before the summer months hit?  Are there areas you need to target as the weather warms up and the BBQ’s get grilling?  I think we all start out with great intentions to succeed, but somehow LiFe just gets in the way of achieving our goals.

For me the struggle continues to be diet and exercise.  I’m not going to lie…It’s been weeks since I wrote a post about starting The Lazy Girls Workout and this lazy girl has not worked out OnCe since that day.  That is unless you count a few games of freeze tag around the yard with my son, but other than that…NoThInG!

I think when life gets too hectic to find time for ourselves or when we are finding it hard to get moving (in my case literally GeT MoViNg!) it is important to find things to use a motivators.  For me it is going to be my new right out of the box Lands End bathing suit.  Don’t give up on your goals…we all have time to get back in the GaMe!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Rated G Does Not Mean ALL AGES

As a mom I feel that almost every decision I make has some influence whether it be great or small on my children.  If I send my son to school without a coat, “Will he be cold at recess?”  If I let my daughter skip a nap to go to a playdate, “Will she be cranky all evening?”  If I keep my son from watching cartoons that his friends are watching, “Will the other kids tease him?”  So many decisions and so much to WoRrY about as parents.

My son has recently started a fascination with dinosaurs.  He has been learning about them in school and can’t get enough of them.  A friend let us borrow a National Geographic DVD about dinosaurs that Nicholas loved.  It was really realistic looking and it had all of his favorite dinosaurs.  Only problem was…it was a little TOO realistic.  Nicholas had a few nightmares and we sent that DVD back.  We found an old G rated animated dinosaur movie named, The Land Before Time to give to Nicholas for Easter.  It looked adorable and I was thrilled that even though it was created in 1988 it was available on DVD.  Without a second thought I put in the movie and started breakfast only to hear my husband calling me into our family room a few minutes later.  Nicholas was curled up on the chair with tears in his eyes and wouldn’t talk.  We shut off the movie and I sat down with him to find out what happened.  He told me that in the movie the T-Rex hurts the mommy and he gave me the tightest hug his arms could give.  Later that morning I found the scene he was referring to.  Not only does the T-Rex hurt the mommy, but she dies right in front of her baby.  I went right to the DVD packaging and read the description that mentioned NoThInG about the outcome of the scene that was so horrifying to a four-year old to watch.

A sickening feeling came over me that I couldn’t shake for most of the morning.  Why didn’t I preview the movie before I let Nicholas watch it?  Nicholas has been attached to my hip since the second he was born.  He is a MoMmY’s BoY who still ends up waking up next to me more morning than not.  Watching that baby dinosaurs mommy die must have been horrifying for him.  How long is it going to take for him to forget how upsetting this scene was to him?

If anything good has come out of this, it’s that I have learned there are NO true G Rated shows, movies, apps, etc. in life.  Kids have so many different personalities and QuIrKs…what sets off one may be the opposite of what sets off another.  There are too many times when we let a false sense of security take over for our better judgement.  Please learn from my mistake and take the time to really SEE for yourself!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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{Just Go Home}

Disillusioned with God?  Feel like he has let you down?

This reminds me of the little kid who decides he is fed up with Mom and Dad and is going to run away from home.  He packs his bags and heads out the door down the long driveway.  When he gets to the end of the driveway he pauses.  As he looks back at his house he begins to realize that home is the place where his toys are, his comfy bed is.  It’s where MaC & ChEeSe is served just the way he likes it, along with his favorite chocolate milk.  Home is where his mom’s warm embrace and dad’s strong protective arms are.  Turning back towards his house he decides to just go home.

Jesus’ disciples had a similar experience.  After a multitude of people left Jesus because they were offended by His teaching, Jesus asked his disciples if they were going to leave Him also.  Peter, made a profound statement, “To whom shall we go?  You have the WoRdS of LiFe.”  (John 6:67-68)  Regardless how uncomfortable life could be at times, what was the alternative?  Jesus had the words of life.

As Easter approaches maybe God seems distant and you don’t understand why life has turned out the way it has.  Maybe you have unanswered prayer.  I wish life never went this way, but unfortunately at times it does.  That’s why God’s given us FaiTh.  He knew we would need it in the dark nights, deep valleys and stormy blast.  The times where understanding eludes us, life doesn’t make sense, and we can’t see our way.  It’s in these times that more than ever we need to JuSt Go HoMe.

:)

Robynn~

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