Archive for November, 2010

The Joy of the Season

Monday, November 29th, 2010

From Monday Mom – Melissa:
You know, I seem to have a love-hate relationship with the month of December. I love the spirit of the season, finding the perfect gifts, celebrating our holiday traditions. But I hate the rush of it all. And it isn’t so much the rush of the actual holidays, but all of the added pressures that seem to follow me every holiday season. Sort of like the ghosts of December. You never know what the new pressure will be. But with December looming, the season has begun and the ghosts have started to appear!

All through high school and college my family had a holiday store that we ran from November 1st through the middle of January. I was the only kid at home. So guess who did all of the decorating, gift buying, wrapping, etc.. Yup, yours truly. Then I started to teach full-time and, CRAZY lady that I am, I decided that it would be great supplemental money to offer Christmas Craft workshops (for the 4-6 weeks prior to Christmas). So I would work full-time teaching, then offer classes from 4pm-8pm most evenings. On Saturdays, I would have a daytime offering 10am-2pm, and a PM offering 4pm-8pm. This evolved into offering 30+ workshops last year.

Of course, my son (the silly boy that he is) also decided to make his arrival early in December (Christmas Eve) back in 2005. Thus adding to the “rush” and “joy” of this month. Thankfully, we did a summer birthday party this year (as he wanted a dunk tank for his birthday – won’t work in PA in December). So that is one less stressor, although I do feel pressured to have some sort of small party – but I am trying to hold myself back!! This year in addition to all of the normal crazy workshops, my regular online job, and mommy duties – – I also have my final custody court date to prepare for and a quick business trip in the mix.

So, although I LOVE this season (I am the woman who starts playing the Christmas music on November 1st and puts up my tree and decorations the first weekend of November), I wish for just one year it could slow down. I am going to share now with everyone that next year – 2011, will be MY year to slow down and enjoy the holidays: bake extra cookies, have craft play dates with the kids, offer only 3 Craft workshops (you know I can’t quit cold turkey – it is great money and basically pays for all of my holiday shopping), and try to enjoy the season slowly.

I wish all of you the joy of this season. And regardless which holidays you and your family celebrate: may you have the time to soak it all in, relax, and enjoy the quiet of the evening (at least some of the month). December….. here I come, my engine is revved up and I am ready to go – Ka Chow!! (Any Cars fans out there?)


Friday, November 26th, 2010

From Friday Mom – Jaime:
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love that the family gets together.  It’s one of the few times a year that I love being in the kitchen.  And I love our traditions.

I think everyone is grateful that my sister and I have stopped fighting over the holiday menu and who gets to cook what.  Over the years, we have gotten better about sharing our space in the kitchen and can now successfully occupy the same room at the same time while cooking.  (Hey, this may not seem like a big thing –  but there were years that we couldn’t be in the kitchen at the same time when we were younger.)

I’ve been up at my parents’ house since Wednesday afternoon.  I left work early, picked up Andrew and trekked up to Nana and Papa’s house.   I immediately started in on preparing my half of the holiday meal.  Nana happily entertained Andrew so I could get to work.

Turkey day began as it usually does.  My mom made the stuffing.  My dad and I tried to steal it and, no matter where she was in the house, she ALWAYS heard the oven door opening and would yell to us that we needed to get our hands out of the stuffing.  My sister and I watched the parade on TV while finishing up making the meal, followed by the dog show.

My uncle and his family came over late, but not as late as I laid odds on.  The routine and tradition feels good.  Unfortunately, Hubby’s brother and parents couldn’t be with us this year – but hopefully they will come down and join us next year.

Andrew refused to eat most of the meal.  (He’s still on his mac n cheese kick.)  So did my cousin Matt, who wanted to eat hot dogs or pizza instead of turkey.  The meal took days to cook and was consumed in what seemed like seconds.

However, noticeably absent from the celebration was my grandfather.  Grandpa always carved the turkey, removing every morsel of meat from the bird.  He would slip the dog choice pieces when he thought no one was looking.   He would sit at the head of the table, surrounded by his family, loving every second of it. And after the meal, he would pass out in front of the tv with some football game playing in the background.

This year was different.

Still great, just different…

Have a great weekend everyone, and I hope you had a good Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Thanksgiving is a time to put things into perspective. Like anyone, I can find things to complain about, and I do. When my children were sick last week, I was buried in Kleenex.  When I got sick too, it seemed like the world was collapsing. My husband reminded me that our kids had colds, not cancer, and we should be thankful.

My boys (and husband) are a handful at times. I am constantly dealing with some kind of mess, but I couldn’t imagine living everyday life without them.  Through the screams, whines and little tiffs, we grow stronger every day.

In a world where people (myself included) always sweat the small stuff, we often fail to realize how much easier our lives are than even fifty years ago. We have cars that can take us anywhere in amazing comfort. We can communicate instantly with friends anywhere in the world, and we can visit the most famous landmarks of the world without leaving our homes.

Whether it’s as profound as your family or as petty as your cell phone, there are plenty of things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Picky, Picky

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

From Monday Mom – Melissa
Brady has never been the best eater, but he has always eaten a healthy variety of things. At 4 (and a half – don’t forget that, or he will have a meltdown), his variety is slim pickings. I often wonder if this is a normal 4-year-old behavior or if it is a control issue. He does have some extenuating circumstances that he can’t control (divorce). It has gotten so bad that he won’t even eat most pizza or Wendy’s chicken nuggets!! I used to be able to get him a $2 meal there (chicken, fries, and a cup of ice water). Oh well, we still have Burger King’s value menu when we are in a pinch. He has ONE brand of mashed potatoes he will eat (and they aren’t his mama’s homemade ones). He has specific chicken seasoning, types of fries, etc..

I have basically told Brady that he isn’t required to finish his meals. However, if he chooses not to eat his meal (or at least most of it), he is not allowed any snacks or food until the next mealtime. I have often saved his meals in the fridge, and he can have them reheated to eat later (this option has never gone well – not once)!! I do try to offer him a variety with meals (grilled chicken, peas, and a baked potato – for example). So then there is at least something that he likes. And typically he will try some of the other stuff. But then again, I always try for one item that I know he will like.

Waiting this stage out seems to be my only option at this point. His snacks are only healthy, unless he finished his entire meal (veggies and all). So sometimes that does happen. Ironically, he does eat healthy with the few foods he eats. For example, his favorite lunch is tuna fish and watermelon. His favorite snacks include bananas, yogurt, and pretzels. So all in all in could be worse. Thankfully he eats healthy food. But boy, is this picky stage frustrating as a mom (and cook)!

All About…Me

Friday, November 19th, 2010

From Friday Mom – Jaime
You know what it’s like. You’re mom (or dad), employee, friend, boss, spouse, kid… the number of hats we wear during the course of a single day is staggering – and sometimes exhausting just to think of.

So, sometimes – not always, not even often – but sometimes, it needs to just be about you.

I’m writing this post at 1:30 in the morning. I have to give a presentation in a couple hours and write a few briefs. But instead of feeling exhausted (though I am), I feel great. Because tonight was one of those rare nights where it was about me.

I left the office early to pick up Andrew from daycare. We made the drive up to my parents’ house, where I dropped off the little guy with my mom, who was totally psyched to see him and he was completely jazzed about seeing her. My dad and I picked up hubby from the office and went into the City together. On the way in, we actually got to talk.

Not about cars. Or Toy Story. Or Clifford the Big Red Dog. We talked… It doesn’t matter what about – the point was, it was actually adults having a conversations where they could use words stronger than “shoot” if the situation warranted.

We sat court side at MSG to watch the Terps play Pitt. The seats were amazing (thanks again mom). The company was great. Maryland’s ability to hit a free throw? Kinda sucky.

But it was awesome. A great night. One where, for a few hours, I got to be Jaime. Not mom. Not attorney. Just me.

And it was so worth it.

So, I think I’m going to stagger up to bed now and collapse. Have a great weekend everyone. And for a little while, try to do something that’s just for you. Even if it’s only for a few minutes. It’s so worth it.

Setting goals

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

From Janelle – Wednesday Mom:
Recently, my husband and I have been explaining to Jack what goals are.  We gave him some examples, like being able to jump 10 times in 5 seconds or getting rid of his night-time pull up by a certain holiday (hint, hint).

Jack loves to draw and color.  I asked him if he could write any letters for me.  He was able to write a few.  Some were really legible and others… well… he put forth a great effort.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, there is a letter of the week at his school.  Last week it was the letter J.  He was so excited because it was the first letter of his name.  He would run to my car after school each day and hold up what he crafted that started with the letter J.  First it was a Jaguar, and then a coloring about the story of Jonah and his favorite was a candy cane which upside down is the shape of a J.  He consistently asks us to write his name and spell out the letters.   When we are out and about he sees it on everything.  It’s amazing how many products have the word “Jack” in them.

Together, Jack and I, came up with the idea or goal for him to write (or sign) his name on the letter we leave for Santa this year.  He thought that idea was just too cool and wanted to leave Santa a letter that very same night.  After explaining to him that Christmas was several weeks away, I told him we could use that time to practice writing every day.  He agreed to the challenge and was ready to reach his goal.

So far we have been practicing every day.  He is getting better and better and I know he will be able to do it.  It’s amazing how much Jack has learned and retained over the last several months.  It seems like just yesterday I was trying to get him to say “mama.”  I know there will be many, many other goals in Jack’s life that he will work at and conquer.  Writing his name for Santa will be just as wonderful (if not better) as the icing on the cookies we leave for the big guy.

10 Days of Thanks!

Monday, November 15th, 2010

From Melissa: Monday Mom:
One of the more challenging parts of parenting a 4-year old is teaching him to be thankful for his many blessings (home, safety, health, toys, etc..). I have tried to model this behavior with our prayers at night. He is “okay” with this skill. But still needs some improvement. He was actually much better at this when he was younger.

I would like to start doing community service projects with him this year. I have been thinking about having him go visit a nursing home (maybe braving it, and taking our dog). Once he is a bit older, I hope to have him spend some of his holidays helping out in the soup kitchens in inner city Harrisburg. But at this point, I feel he is too young for that undertaking. We also sponsor a child in Africa. (Obvious is his name.) Brady has prayed for that little boy to get water and food every day for over a year now. He even told his class that he was thankful for his “brother Obvious – whom he has never met.”

Last year, we went to visit Santa and Brady informed him to send his toys to kids who don’t have anything, because his mama already bought him too much. Sadly, the child is right. Now his toys are nearly all educational, but he does have too much. I plan to pack up a lot this season and give it away. Most of it has never been used. Brady is happy with his Moon Sand table, cars/trucks/trains, and Wii. I plan to go light on birthday and Christmas this year too. We are not in a good place financially this year anyway, so it is time. It is hard though, since his birthday is Christmas Eve. But I will try…. I promise!!

One thing that we have always done was the 10 days of Thanks. I use Facebook as the method to share our thankfulness and Brady and I each post one thing we are thankful for (on my page), every day for 10 days. This has really made us think about what matters and what doesn’t. Now of course, since Brady is 4, some of his “thankful” items are for his geotrax (and other “toy” items). But I bet 6-8 of those posts are deep. So, today will start our annual 10 Days of Thanks. I can’t wait to see what little man has to say this year.

Walking the line

Friday, November 12th, 2010

From Jaime: Friday Mom
I’m writing this post on my Blackberry as I try to put Andrew to sleep. He, of
course, is more interested in spelling out his name and singing a lullaby to
himself under his breath. We are still having an issue with Andrew getting up
in the middle of the night.

Not even Bob the Bed Fairy is enticing Andrew to stay in his room these days.
And Bob has some awesome presents – including Toy Story 3 – in his bag of
tricks. Andrew steadfastly maintains that he doesn’t want his room. He wants OUR bed.

He has taken to jumping into our bed in the middle of the night. We’re
both a bit tired, so if this post seems a bit unfocused, it’s the product of a very tired mind…

Friday I have to be in the city for a conference that starts at 8. The logical
thing to do would be to go in the night before and be a couple blocks from the
conference instead of being a couple hours away. If I head in Friday
morning, I basically have to leave the house around 5. I’m a firm believer that
no one should see 4 a.m. unless they’re still awake from the night before.

The decision should be an easy one – and I’m sure you all see the glaringly obvious right answer. Yet I’m struggling with what should be a very simple decision

The truth is, I just feel guilty when I’m not around. I don’t stop being mom when I have my attorney hat on. I know my guys will function just fine without me – but it’s harder to leave them alone when I know Hubby’s been sick all week.

Are we seeing a theme to many of my posts? Every day, I walk the razor thin line between being mom and attorney. Balance is hard to come by. Some days I’m better with it than others. Today’s not one of those better days…

Daddy’s turn

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Wednesday Mom regrets to inform her readers that she is officially too exhausted to write a blog today. Her usual work load of infant feedings, changings, and care coupled with a demandingly intelligent three-year-old and a husband whose schedule can vary significantly day to day have left mom wiped out. Only minutes ago she put our oldest to bed with a high fever. I will be writing on her behalf.

I usually try to give my wife a break on the weekends when it comes to the early morning feedings and oatmeal distribution duties. This weekend was no exception. I work during the week, so I am often gone before the shenanigans even start. I can’t help but think that when I fail at some basic parent task my wife is quietly elated to watch me flail. Basically it is “mom appreciation.” She never fails to remind me that it is her job 24 hours a day. She is right, of course. So I laugh along with her, covered in vomit.

My wife and her sister have huge respect for the single moms of the world too. They have both been through multiple 6-12 month periods with their husbands deployed all over the world. That is called “single parent appreciation.” No matter how you split the duties, parenting is physically and emotionally taxing.

So I am glad I got to take my wife’s blog this week. Think of it as a bonus mother’s day gift.  I hope your nap on the couch goes as well as it is deserved, mommy. I’m glad I could help take daddy’s turn.

The “Gifts” of Gifts

Monday, November 8th, 2010

With Christmas creeping up on me quickly, I am trying to determine the ideal gifts. For Brady, I like ones that grow with him, have multiple uses, and aren’t priced outrageously. Some favorite gifts of the past (from both Brady and my perspective) have been his Geotrax trains, Wii, and Moon Sand.

The interesting thing about his trains is that I used to build the tracks (when he was 2) and he would just wreck them and giggle. Then about six months later, he started to just watch the trains going around the tracks. By 3-years old, he had learned how to operate the remotes (forwards and back). Then at 4-years old the trains magically became a problem solving activity as he learned to build tracks himself. Now at nearly 5-years old, he has started more imaginative play with the people, trees, and more. So it has been 3 years of play and we are still going strong.

The Wii, well, it is great physical play on rainy and cold days (and we have a lot of cold days from November – March in Pennsylvania). I’m not sure of the educational value, but we surely have enjoyed the sports! And the Moon Sand has given Brady HOURS of entertainment both with and without company. Now, I do have a love/hate relationship with that MESSY stuff. But we put it into a water/sand table, and it has been great.

So, now what to get this year – – that is the big question! Brady is convinced he wants this racetrack called: Criss Cross Crash (you can imagine what this toy does). That is the only gift he has requested, so Santa Mama will have to get it, I guess. I have also seen they are now making Moon Dough: never dries out. Sounds like a good change from the Moon Sand table, although Brady may miss his buried treasures inside of that sand.

Otherwise, I am thinking a good old-fashioned marble run and maybe one big toy for his playroom (like a mini air hockey table). I don’t know. His Christmas Eve birthday is a blessing and a curse: lots of presents to buy, to receive, and to put away in our already overstuffed playroom. Guess it is time to clean out the old bins of toys and start preparing for the new arrivals.

Thankfully, Brady has never asked for much. In fact, last year he told Santa to give his toys to the “poor kids who don’t have water” because his mama had already bought enough. Wow – the honesty of a child! So, I do plan to scale back this year. But what to buy… that is the question?