30 minutes to a spotless house: lessons learned from an Airbnb Superhost

30 minutes to a spotless house: lessons learned from an Airbnb Superhost. I’ve always admired (actually, am bitterly jealous) of my girlie Malea who always seems to have a Pinterest-perfect house. Everything’s spotless. And the woman works longer hours than I do! So I pinned her down to share her secrets, and one pan of homemade sweet rolls later, she spilled everything. You’re welcome.

 

By guest contributor Malea Petersen.

I have always loved staying in hotels. There, I can require the impossibly high cleaning standards that I’m totally incapable of achieving in my own home. But when we decided to utilize the guest cottage in our side yard as an Airbnb guest suite, I realized things had to change. To be a Superhost, your place has to be “Sparkling Clean.” This is the most sought-after accolade and something that puts you at the top of the heap when it comes to searches. I knew soon, there would be guests who were just like me. They would also want glorious spotlessness in their Airbnb surroundings that was unlike what they could achieve at home, either. However, then the reality of complete strangers coming into my cottage and judging me for my slovenly housekeeping became very real. I had visions of someone wielding a black light that would illuminate my guest cottage like a murder scene in a CSI episode, and all the things I’d stuffed into drawers and hid under artfully arranged throw pillows would make their grimy appearance. Then, there would be The Condemnation. I actually had a nightmare where I was standing in a town square in medieval times and the peasants were circling me, shouting “UNCLEAN!”

It’s not that I’m a complete slob, but I did everything in half-measures, cleaning up the kitchen but leaving a pile of laundry in the hallway. Scrubbing the bathroom to a gleaming shine but never making the beds. Throw in kiddos, work, writing, and church? The house never looked clean to me. Really clean.

Because there’s only a two hour period between check-out and check-in, I had to develop a speed cleaning system that could make the entire place shiny and smelling of lavender in minutes. But once I had it down, I was unstoppable. The same plan works just as well in our house. And it’s never been cleaner. I spend 30 minutes a day making our place look like one of those “after” pictures on Pinterest. And once you get it down, I promise you’ll clean like this forever.

So, here we go…

 

1. Keep all your cleaning supplies together.

I use an old-school cleaning caddy stuffed with everything I need, from fabric freshening spray to magic sponges. I use a feather duster every time- it keeps you from ever having to drag down pictures or clear crowded spaces by simply keeping them dust-free. Window and mirror cleaner, anti-bacterial spray, extra garbage sacks, paper towels, and furniture polish.

 

2. Put things in boxes.

No, this is not like my former method where I would simply jam unrelated items into a drawer until I couldn’t close it anymore. But when setting up the living area in the cottage, I put all the TV remotes, charging cords and plugs in one pretty box. That got me thinking… Next was adorable little bottles and toiletries that all went into a basket in the bathroom. In the kitchen, food items – like condiments – nestle together in a clear plastic box in the fridge so I can track what needs to be replaced for the guests. Like items contained with like make it so easy to see what you have. Sneaky inside tip: when something is taken out of the box, basket or drawer, it is returned right back to its place as soon as we’re done with it. No sticking it on the counter with a vague promise to do it in a minute. Do it now.

 

3. Two sets of linens, but only two.

When I strip all the beds in the house – including in the guest cottage – I throw them all in the washer while I’m making the beds with the other set of sheets. Same with towels and washcloths. Our washer and dryer are in the guest cottage, so I have to speed-wash all of our laundry between check out and check-in. Sneaky inside tip: It’s easy to end up with 3,011 unmatched sheet sets with the occasional novelty Santa pillowcase. Purge. You just need two sets.

 

4. Run the dishwasher at night, empty it the first thing in the morning.

Stashing dirty dishes just after we’ve used them into the dishwasher keeps our table and counters clean. I put in the pots and pans, even if I know I’m washing them by hand later. It’s amazing how much better a clean kitchen can make me feel- no nagging sense that it’s one more thing I need to do. Sneaky inside tip: Wipe down all the appliances after you start the dishwasher. It keeps the crud from building up and turning into something you can’t get off with a jackhammer.

 

5. When taking out the garbage, take out ALL the garbage.

The kitchen garbage can fills up faster than the rest of the little waste bins scattered around the house, but at least every other time when I’m hauling out the kitchen mess, I swoop through every room with a fistful of small bin liners and replace the dirty bag with a clean one.

 

6. Clean the tub, toilet, sink, and shower every time you bathe.

Mr. Magic Sponge and spray cleaner are your best friends. Spray everything, and by the time you’ve dried your hair, wiping everything clean and shining the mirrors takes less than five minutes.

 

7. Invest in a useful vacuum with lots of handy attachments.

Cleaning is so much easier with a vacuum that goes from carpet to hardwood to tile. Those long wand attachments are great for getting the tops of shelves and swiping away cobwebs, etc.

Time it… I promise it’s all done in thirty minutes!

(Image credits via Pixabay)

(Cover image credit: Pexels)

Start 2020 with the Right Energy – The Living Light Crystal & Gem Show

Start 2020 with the Right Energy – the Living Light Crystal & Gem Show.

Entering a new decade feels like it’s an auspicious moment for something more. If you’re thinking about improving your spiritual, emotional and physical health, here’s the perfect place to begin! The Crystal & Gem Show is January 18 at Club 90 in Sandy. There’s every kind of local business offered here, from all things crystal and mineral to art, herbal and natural remedies, pet supplies, body and bath and more.

There’s intuitive readings from some of Utah’s most gifted psychics, including the brilliant Jennafer Martin, Lady Luna, Mary Karman and more. You can learn about the array of services and beautiful, hand-made items here. These are all Utah-based businesses and you’re supporting local artisans.

Best of all? The event is free. Yep, free. Because Club 90 is a 21+ venue, you must have a valid ID to enter. The show runs 11am to 5pm.

 

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin

I’m not the world’s most patient person when it comes to cooking, so if something’s going to demand tons of prep time, I … uh … make The Todd cook it. But I stumbled on this lovely pork tenderloin recipe on Roglianos.com, a wonderful Italian dressing that can be used in an unfeasible number of dishes. If you’re looking for marinades, BBQ or grilling, side dishes, pasta recipes – this is your website. And the Rogliano’s cuts out an endless amount of items you usually have to chop, or measure, or mince or whatever people do when they’re actually cooking. There’s a huge amount of recipes from Rogliano’s on Pinterest as well.

BTW: Do you have a recipe that uses Rogliano’s dressing? Submit it here and we’ll send you a free bottle! (You can also add it in the comments here if that’s easier, I’ll make sure you’re taken care of.)

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin

This is the most tender, juicy pork tenderloin you’ll ever eat, and it makes its own tasty gravy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pork tenderloins, around 2½ pounds
  • 1 bottle Rogliano’s Italian Dressing
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons for browning the meat

Instructions:

  1. Brown pork tenderloin with a little olive oil over medium high heat
  2. Season the tenderloin with salt and pepper. Put into slow cooker.
  3. In a bowl, mix together a bottle of Rogliano’s Italian Dressing, minced garlic, brown sugar, butter and chopped parsley.
  4. Pour the mixture over the pork. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.
  5. When pork is finished, put on to a plate and cover to keep warm.
  6. Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a pot, simmer at medium heat.
  7. Mix the cornstarch with a ¼ cup of cold water, add cornstarch to the pot and bring to a boil.
  8. Cook for about a minute until the sauce has thickened.
  9. Add the butter to the sauce and stir until melted.
  10. Slice or shred the pork and pour the sauce over the top and serve.

(Cover image credit: Pixabay)

5 Best Books To Save Your Life: Disaster Preparedness

(image credit: Pixabay)

5 Best Books To Save Your Life: Disaster Preparedness. My theory in life is simple: if I’m prepared for it, it won’t happen.  I recognize this is reprehensibly naive, but there you go.  So far it’s been working for me; I haven’t died (up to date Will and life insurance policies, score!)  So, you can see it never hurts to Plan Ahead.   I suspect some of the truly awful reality series aren’t helping the cause of preparedness any–yes, “Doomsday Preppers,” I’m talking to you.  But you don’t have to be a paranoid nutjob to be concerned about the possibility of all manner of disasters. Case in point?   Here in Salt Lake City, Utah, my family is less than 70 miles from the following:

  • The wildly unstable Wasatch Fault
  • The world’s largest stockpile of nerve gas and low-level radiation dumps (thanks, local lawmakers!)
  • An atomic reactor at the University of Utah–3 blocks from my house
  • Two key military bases
  • Two massive oil refineries waiting to blow sky-high
  • And word is (allegedly) scores of nuclear weaponry “out in the desert”
  • Oh, did I mention the wildly unstable Wasatch Fault?

 

You can see why at this point I’m really hoping for the Zombie Apocalypse as the best of my options. Anyway, let’s get back to Planning Ahead.

 

5 Best Books To Change Your Life: Disaster Preparedness

 

Disaster Preparedness: Urban Preppers with Kids, Pets & Parents; Disaster Survival for the Family: I love James Mushen’s book because the man is clearly smack-dab in the middle of the Sandwich Generation with the rest of us.  How do I get my father from his care center and my toddler from pre-school?  Where do I put my twin’s seizure medications?  Where does my emotionally needy Portuguese Waterdog go in the roof rack?  I love those cute little booklets that apparently think we all have families with 2.5 members.

Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit: I think some of these “experts” who write these books are forgetting that we don’t all have pack mules to carry our “bug-out bags.”  The point of said bag is that you may not be able to throw it in the back of the ol’ SUV and drive off into the sunset.  Your 8 year old might have to walk while carrying one.  Author Creek Stewart seems to understand this.

The Poor Man’s Prepping Guide: How to Prepare for Disaster on a Shoestring Budget (Stay Alive): THANK YOU.  If you have the $10,000.00 or so needed to be all kitted out for the Zombie Apocalypse, please accept my congratulations and also, send me your address because we’re coming to live with YOU.  How to build what you need on a budget.

Sigh…yeah, I know we’re all sick of the “…For Dummies” book series.  But the Disaster Preparedness for Dummies book really is very good.  And simple.  And easy to follow.

Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a Crisis: let’s face it.  The 72-hour kit only gets you so far.  What if it’s a 2-week blackout, like with Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast?  Or the End Of Everything, like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina?  This is an excellent guide to building a food storage system that protects your family not only during a crisis, but during illness, poverty, job loss, etc.  Now, that is preparedness.

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The Todd Is Trying To Murder Me:  Trazadone & The Raccoon Of Death

The Todd Is Trying To Murder Me:  Trazadone & The Raccoon Of Death

“We Have a Trazadone Issue.”

notes

The Todd likes to communicate by leaving notes on our oven hood. Which is fine, but they’re usually so curt they make sense only to him. I studied today’s with some concern. An Issue? A Trazadone Issue? What does that mean? Did Zachie get a hold of his meds? Did he OD? Is my son in Rehab? WHAT?  Turns out that the bottle fell over in the fridge and leaked out. What a relief. Today’s horrifying chain of events averted.

But this isn’t the first time.

note3

Um. Okay. I logically looked IN the oven, assuming he meant for me to take it out for dinner. No chicken. I checked the fridge. Nope. Looked outside the side door that we call our “White Trash Winter Kitchen” that we use for food overflow when it’s cold. No chicken. Then, my fears rose. ”There Is Chicken.” Did that mean one of the neighbor’s chickens had escaped and our dog Gille had murdered it and The Todd was hiding the evidence? I was beginning an apology note to our neighbors as he came in. ”Dear Shannon, I’m really sorry Gille got loose again and I hope the blood spatter from the chicken attack didn’t traumatize baby Adam and for heaven’s SAKE I hope the murder victim wasn’t Will’s chicken like last time because I know those nightmares went on for a couple of months–” He opened one of the cabinets to reveal a giant plate of ice-cold chicken. ”Why didn’t you find it?  I left a note!”

“Um, because you left it in the cabinet where we keep the dinner plates and the note didn’t mention that?”

“Where else would I hide the chicken to keep it away from the twins?” he asked, aggrieved.

You see my problem.

 

note4

Now, this note would have been especially helpful before I opened the garage door. I used to love raccoons. They’d visit us on the deck of our cabin and The Todd would leave a bowl of water and some fish scraps for them. The kids loved watching the little furry bandits eat the scraps and wash their masked faces with their clever paws. The screeching ball of death that flew hissing at my face as I opened the garage door was the Murderous Masked Ninja Avenger Of All Raccoons. He chased me around the yard as I screamed and the twins laughed helplessly, sure I was kidding around because raccoons–they’re so cute.

Did you know raccoons have really sharp claws? And that hooking one of them in your heel right behind your Achilles tendon can sever it and leave you a limping wreck for the rest of your life? Yeah, the ER doctor shared that with me as he stitched up my foot. ”You missed a permanent disability by one-eighth of an inch!” he said jovially as he jammed the last bit of cotton thread into my heel.

The Todd came home to see me hoisting my gigantic bandaged limb onto the couch.

“What’s all this? What happened to you?”

“What happened to me? What happened to me?” I hissed. “The killer raccoon in the garage happened to me!”

“Why did you open the garage?” he threw up his hands, “I wrote you a note saying ‘don’t open the garage!’ Why don’t you read these things!”

“Because I’d just come home from picking up the kids!” I shrieked. ”I opened the garage door to put away some potting soil! Why was there a raccoon in our garage!”

The Todd looked at me like he’d married the most stupid woman alive. ”Because,” he said with exaggerated patience. ”I was waiting to see if he was going to be rabid or not. It was a safety measure.”

Then, there are some notes that I just don’t want to decipher. There are some notes that make me simply pick up my car keys and exit the house. You’re on your own, honey. Good luck.

note 5

Todd & Erin’s Shop Locally Guide: Living Light Institute

Do you realize we’re about to enter into an entirely new decade? It hit me the other day that 2020 means stepping into a new decade and leaving the old one behind. Is there emotional baggage you’d like to leave behind?

 

I’ve been fascinated with Laurie Nielson since learning more about her school – the Living Light Institute of Energy Healing Arts. For the last ten years, she’s been teaching here along the Wasatch Front about crystal energy and healing. As her influence has spread, more and more people are flocking to learn about the metaphysical and spiritual way to self-awareness and healing.

 

“I’ve been offering classes for those new to crystal energy,” Laurie says. “We teach you how to nurture your intuitive side, to explore and develop that part of you. It’s important to learn about natural healing and your personal energy.” The Institute’s grown to the point that Laurie’s now offering Crystal Healer Certifications. 

In fact, if you’d like to take the course and bring a friend, Laurie’s offering buy one class, get one half off when you mention Todd & Erin. Also, 10% off all Laurie’s beautiful gems, crystals and classes when you throw in the Todd & Erin thingie.

 

Another exciting part of Laurie’s offerings is her monthly crystal and gem shows. Admission is always free, and along with the dazzling array of crystal and gemstones are vendors offering nature-based products. “We have everything,” Laurie says, “from jewelry, lapidary, decor, bath & body, products for your pets and CBD products. There’s psychic readings available, massages … we want everyone to feel comfortable and learn more about how they can empower themselves.” The next show is on January 18th at Club 90 in Sandy.

You can find Laurie on Facebook, her website, and on Instagram.

 

 

 

Hot Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes

 

Hot Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes. I felt it this morning.  Bleeech. Snow on the ground, freezing temperatures.  And then I saw the recipe for Hot Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes, and I knew I could make it through another Sleeting Season Of Death.  (Or, winter, as it is known by more cold weather types.)

 

Ingredients:

  • One box of devil’s food chocolate cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups of water

Toppings:

  • White melting chocolate – 8 squares
  • Mini-Marshmallows
  • Mini candy canes
  • 24 Lindor (or your favorite) chocolate truffles- no nuts!

Instructions:

You can make a “from scratch” mix for the cupcakes, but that seems like a lot of … you know … effort. Prepare your favorite cake mix, and pour it into cupcake tins, about two-thirds of the way full. Drop a truffle into the center of each one.

Bake at 325 for around 15 minutes. This part’s a little tricky, because inserting the standard toothpick into the molten chocolate truffle center isn’t giving you an accurate measurement of when they’re done, so I use the “shake test,” if the centers are moving sluggishly but hold firm, they’re done.

After cooling for 20-30 minutes, they’re ready to be decorated. Here’s my trick: I use white dipping chocolate, frosting never holds the way it’s supposed to and structurally, it doesn’t work for this recipe. Sneaky inside tip on the chocolate: put it in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it for a minute. Pull it out, stir, put the chocolate back for 30 seconds. Pull it out, stir and so on until it’s all melted stirs smoothly. Let the chocolate cool for 5 minutes for a slightly thicker consistency. (Sneaky inside tip #2: I’m a freak about peppermint, so I’ll add a drop or two of peppermint extract to the chocolate.)

Dip the top of each cupcake in the chocolate, then start placing the marshmallows on top. I drizzle a little more chocolate on top so I can make a nice little mountain of marshmallows. (Don’t judge me, it’s pretty.) Dip just the base of a candy cane in the chocolate and attach it to the base of the cupcake and leaning into the top of the cupcake to form the “handle.” Let everything sit for ten minutes to “settle,” and dive in. They’re gorgeous and ridiculously easy to make.

Screaming Deals – The Countdown is ON

 

I’m trying to monitor some of the biggest “wish list” items you all tell me about, so when I see a deal pop up, I’m going to post about it as fast as possible. We’re in countdown mode for The Big Day. Or depending on your family, The Many Big Days. So have a look and see if any of these help you.

 

Toms: up to 60% off and some great selections for men, women and kids. Extra bit! Free shipping with code JUST4YOU22. Ends Friday 12.13.

 

Melissa and Doug: not only 30% off, but they can ship super fast and again, free shipping with Just4YOU22.

Hanna Andersson: you’re all about the Scandinavian styles? Up to a galactic 85% off and the free shipping thingie again.

 

Lucky Brand: kid’s apparel and some tasty bits for women. Everything starting as low as $6.99, which is unheard of for this brand. Free shipping code Just4YOU22.

 

Tommy Hilfiger: adorable kid’s clothes starting as low as $7.99. Free shipping, too!

 

Weighted Blankets: for other Autism moms and for anyone who likes the comfort of a nice, weighted blanket: there’s an excellent line of these fellas for up to 70% off. My Zachie loves his, and these are sturdy, which is a huge thing. Don’t forget free shipping with JUST4YOU22.

Peppermint Crunch Cookies

(Image credit: TheBittenWord)

Peppermint Crunch Cookies

It’s this time of year when my Zoe and I develop an unnatural craving for all things peppermint. (White peppermint kisses have moved from a craving to an addiction that I might require rehab to remove. Sadly, there are no rehab centers for peppermint kiss addicts.) However! The humble Peppermint Crunch Cookie encompasses all things tasty- soft, luxurious cookie and crunchy peppermint. The cream cheese adds a luscious dimension that makes you give that embarrassing little moan when you bite into it. You know, the moan you make unknowingly when something is freaking delicious and then everyone is staring at you? That moan.

Peppermint Crunch Cookies

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 9 minutes

Yield: 36 cookies

Ingredients

1 white cake mix
1 stick butter, melted (8 Tbsp.)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup crushed candy cane pieces
Instructions
  1. Combine the cake mix, melted butter, egg, and extracts. Beat until a soft dough forms. Add the cream cheese and beat in gently until combined. Stir in the peppermint crunch pieces. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Roll the dough into 36 balls. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 9 minutes. Do not over bake. The cookies will be very soft and look undone. Let them sit on the hot cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then gently remove them with a spatula to a piece of wax paper on the counter.
  3. Very gently tap the tops of the cookies with the bottom of the spatula to even out the tops. Let them sit until completely cool. Store in a sealed container. Makes 36 cookies.
(Cover image credit: TheBittenWord)

 

Heartbreak and the Holidays

Heartbreak and the Holidays

Losing MacLean swamped me again last night. We were driving aimlessly with our kids Zachie and Zoe, looking for Christmas light displays. Like most parents who have lost children, my life is separated into “Life with MacLean” and “Life without MacLean.” As we drove, we kept up our annoying Collard commentary on some familiar sights, and that’s when it hit me that my son had been in the back seat laughing and enjoying the displays the last time we’d seen these lights. And that I would never get to see them with him again.

MacLeanie and his twin brother Zachary were born neurotypical and hit all their milestones as they should until around two and a half when they abruptly regressed into autism. Then, at nine years of age, they developed seizure disorders. Despite diets and treatment and medication and everything possible, my MacLean passed away from SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death by Epilepsy) about 18 months ago. He’d woken up that morning around 4:30 am, so I got to kiss him before leaving for our radio show. By the time our nanny frantically called us at 8 am, my boy was gone.

To be honest, I really didn’t want to write this. A therapist friend of mine convinced me that we might have coping tools that could help other parents, so here goes…

Everything turns into milestones- another Mother’s Day without my MacLean. Another un-shared birthday for his twin brother Zachary. But the holidays are the toughest for most people- where the warmth of the season and the focus on family hone our grief into a razor-sharp point. When you have other children, you don’t get to crumble and fall apart. They deserve happiness – and just as important – seeing you happy too. But I cried last night because missing MacLean turned me inside out, and my eight-year-old Zoe sagely remarked, “Oh, you’re missing ‘Cleanie again. That’s all right, Mom.” I think you have to show grief as well to the rest of the family- let them know that it’s okay to be sad and that yes, it’s normal that happy things and experiences can still make you cry.

But you can’t cry all the time.

So, Todd and I have developed some coping mechanisms over the last 18 months, some we’ve discovered, some suggested by smart friends and fellow parents who have lost a little one. And if you’re mourning a loved one gone this holiday, maybe they’ll help you too.

 

Create a special place for your child.

I have MacLean’s tree, which we placed by the window so he has a beacon when he flies by. I like to think of my son roaring along with the wind- he always loved it. In fact, on the one year anniversary of the day we lost him, a wild 60 mph wind rose out of nowhere. My boy: such a drama queen! But I stood outside in the backyard and laughed, appreciating his little greeting. For you, maybe it’s a collection of framed photographs. A tableau of beloved toys and images from some of your best memories. Todd keeps a picture of MacLean on the table at Christmas dinner so he’s “sharing” it with us. Whatever you choose to display gives you a focal point and a feeling of peace that your little one isn’t gone.

 

Include an activity or tradition your little person loved.

MacLean loved the Dollar Store run, where he’d pick out his gifts for everyone in the house. Even though Zachie’s older and capable of making more sophisticated presents, he and Zoe trek through the aisles to pick up a little something for each of us. The goal is to stimulate those happy memories of enjoying this experience together and letting them bond your family more tightly. (This picture includes a frame from MacLeanie’s Dollar Store adventures.)

 

Make a Memory Video.

I do this on every birthday, having guests share a memory to honor the new milestone for my kiddo’s lives. But the holidays tend to be when more of us get together, and I asked everyone to remember a favorite moment with MacLean. There was lots of laughter, some crying (I’m from a Scottish family, there’s always a lot of laughing and crying, often at the same time, which is quite impressive) and some incredible memories- several that I’d never heard before. Afterward, a couple of my sisters, then a stream of nieces and nephews confided that the ritual brought them a lot of relief- that they weren’t sure if they could say that they missed their cousin or if they should even bring up his name. Everyone felt more relaxed and happy after being able to talk about MacLean. This image is from a big Christmas-themed photoshoot – slash – video. MacLean was so thrilled by it all that he fell asleep. Twice. I’d forgotten until a girlfriend sent this to me. I’ll treasure it forever.

 

Don’t pretend everything is the same.

Nothing is ever going to be the same, and it’s all right to accept that. Maybe every tradition at the holidays is centered around the child who is no longer there. It’s okay – important, actually – to create new traditions, too. It doesn’t mean you have forgotten your child, but some fresh rituals that make you happy are a small, but important sign of moving through the sadness and allowing yourself and your family to experience more simple joys. Zachie and Zoe wanted to start sledding the minute it snowed this year. MacLeanie was never a fan of being cold, so we didn’t do it often. This year, I pulled out the sleds and hauled the kids into their snow pants the minute the first flake fell from the sky.

 

Say his/her name. Please.

Zoe asked me once, “Why doesn’t anyone talk about MacLean any more?” People, trying to be kind and not upset you, will often never speak about your lost child, never use his name. MacLean’s siblings need to know that he was real, that he mattered. It helps Zoe to hear about her brother because she was only 5 when he passed away. It gives her and Zachie (and us) peace and security knowing that MacLean is not forgotten. When our extended family reminisces about MacLean – sharing a memory that might have just popped up or sending a video or pictures they’ve just found – it brings him here to us again. I’ve had to ask friends to please say his name, share a memory, anything! My girlfriend Debbie breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Thank you! I’ve wanted to tell you about MacLean and this little craft we’d made together, and I just found it, and….” I can’t speak for any other parent who’s lost a child, but I can say that every parent who’s shared their experience with me all wanted the same thing. “Say his/her name. Talk about my child. He didn’t disappear.”

 

(image credit: Daria)

Heartbreak and the Holidays – This is so important:

If you or someone you know is going through the grieving process this holiday and needs help- it is SO important that you ask for it! Here are some resources I want you to use, please. And a huge hug from me and all the love in the Universe.

Grief Source Network has several different numbers from excellent sources here. 

Grief Support Directory has a host of resources here.

Compassionate Friends specifically operates support groups nationwide to help parents who have lost children, reach them here.

Please do not be afraid to reach out to friends and family. Remember when they said “Anything I can do…” when you lost your little one? They meant it. And they will be grateful to actually be able to help.

 

And if you have experienced the loss of a child and have suggestions or ideas to offer- PLEASE DO SO HERE- I learned almost everything I know from other parents who have gone through this grief before me. So please share and help others.