Archive for January, 2011

Work – Love – Play

Monday, January 31st, 2011

From Monday Mom – Melissa:
I recently saw the movie “Eat, Love, Pray.” While I didn’t particularly enjoy the movie, the message did hit home with me: balance. As a work at home mom for over 5 years, balance has always been difficult. Now that Brady is in preschool, it is a bit easier to balance my regular hours. However, I recently got a lawyer bill that was astronomically high. (When they say divorce and custody court costs a lot both financially and emotionally… they are being very serious.) So now I am trying to keep my balance, while I greatly increase my time working at both my online content manager job and the teaching business that I own.

Often I feel like I am either on a treadmill and keep running and not getting much accomplished. Or worse yet, swimming and treading water while only coming up for air occasionally. Please tell me that I am not the only mom who has trouble balancing it all!

Family members have offered to help watch Brady, so I can get more work hours in. I have taken them up on the offer. My goal is to be debt free by the end of the summer. Sometimes we all have to make short-term sacrifices for the long-term advantages and freedom. But I need to be careful to make sure I keep the balance of Work-Love-Play with Brady.

Yes, I have bills to pay and debt to creep out of. But I also have a little boy who isn’t going to be five forever: so he needs to feel my love and know I can play (sometimes). So right now I am on that treadmill: running fast, holding my baby’s heart in my hand, and fitting in as much play time as possible! I have to run now, heading outside. I have some snow to go play in: some angels to make, a snowman that needs building, and lots of sledding fun in my day.

Snow Day

Friday, January 28th, 2011

From Friday Mom – Jaime:
It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I’d root for snow days. My sister and I would dress in our pajamas, backwards and inside out. (Since no one could agree whether it was the backwards or inside out that made it snow, we decided not to take any chances and would do BOTH to cover our bases.) We’d do a little dance to the snow gods before bed and, lo and behold, the next morning there would be no school.

Snow days were AWESOME. We typically didn’t do anything, but still, we weren’t at school. It was great to have the day off, even if it meant that at the end of the year they were shortening spring break or lengthening the school year to compensate for all the extra snow days.

But I never really understood why mom or dad would groan every time the schools closed… Until now.

Snow days take on a whole different meaning when you have kids. Suddenly, you’re the one groaning at the school closings. The debate begins over who has to stay home with the kids. “I have a 1:00 conference call that I organized. I can’t miss that” versus “I have a meeting with a new client at 11 and I have to prep an order to show cause.” Fortunately, hubby and I typically don’t have to be at court on the same days at the same time and we can juggle pretty well. But other times, it’s far more challenging.

This winter has been harsh. I don’t know where we’re going to put any more snow if we get another storm. It feels like every week, we’ve had a major storm and yet another school closing.

Today hubby and I both decided to stay home and work from here. With Andrew. He’s watching a movie while hubby is on a conference call, and I’m trying to respond to emails from my cell phone. It’s not ideal, by any stretch of the imagination. But it was great bundling up Andrew this morning in his snowsuit and boots (and hat and mittens and jacket, until he was waddling around like a little black and green penguin) so he could play in the snow.

Andrew has a little blue shovel that he likes to push along the sidewalks and the street. So while we were digging out the cars, he was “helping” with his tiny little shovel. (He actually wound up dumping snow on his own head because he would lift the shovel straight up in the air and cackle hysterically as it would rain back down on him). He climbed through snowbanks. He threw himself backwards into them yelling “CANNON BALL!” and proceeded to make snow angels. It was adorable.

Maybe snow days aren’t so bad after all…

Sweet Pea Swap

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

From Wednesday Mom: Janelle…
Twice a year there is a children’s consignment sale held here in my town.  It is a very organized “swap” that is well known throughout our area.  I attended it last spring when I was pregnant with Tate.  My friends informed me about it and told me to check it out. I was guaranteed some good deals.  I decided to see what it was and to my amazement it was spectacular.  It is held in an old department store ( in the mall) that has since been closed down.  The square footage is very large and the entire store is filled with good quality children’s items at a discounted price.  Some items included are clothes, shoes, toys, maternity clothes, accessories, bedding, strollers, carriers, other gear and furniture.

As a consignor, preparing your items is time consuming.  The team that manages the swap has strict rules on not only what can be sold (which is a good thing) as well as registration, ticketing your items, the use of certain hangers, pins and tags and when to drop off your items.  It is a lot of work, but this is the best thing I have going to clear out the baby “stuff.”   I decided I’m going to participate as a consignor this year to earn some extra money and provide other unfortunate people with a great deal.

My husband is very busy at work this week, so what better time to sort through everything.  After I put the kiddos to bed I am sorting, ticketing and hanging all my pieces.  I am hanging on to several things to give to my grandchildren some day.  It feels great to clean out the bins, but also a little sad.  These are items that both my babies used and reached milestones either wearing it or using it.  I ask myself every night if I’m ready to get rid of it just yet.  For now, I am going to organize and prep everything.  I still have a month until the sale so if I change my mind I still have a little time.

Sweet Words to My Ears

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Brady is five now. It is hard to believe, but the baby is growing up. Throughout the years he has always shown his love and been a mama’s boy. But a few nights ago, I heard words out of my little boy’s mouth that I truly never expected.

We were saying our bedtime prayers and Brady thanked God for his “Cool Mama.” Yes, you read that right. My five year old thinks that I am cool. Wow! I am the strict parent. I do (and always have done) all of the disciplining. I don’t allow certain tv shows at my house that daddy does, etc.. We follow a pretty structured life. Daddy often gets the “cool” comments: he has a motorcycle, better games on his cell phone, and more. I on the other hand drive a . . . . minivan.

I realize it may seem silly. But today I am cool. At five my son thinks I am cool. I have been told to frame this comment. Apparently at ten he will think I know nothing and am completely lame. At fifteen it gets even worse as he will probably be embarrassed to even be seen with me, let alone give me a hug or kiss. Scary to even consider what he will think of me at twenty!!

So for now, I am taking my “cool mama” statement pretty seriously and basking in the rich aroma of coolness. And you know what? I think Brady is pretty cool too!

Splish Splash

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Andrew has been swimming since he was six months old. I think if the Y had let us bring him in the pool before then, hubby would have happily started their swim lessons earlier. The lessons have been great, in a number of different ways.

The kid has no fear of water. He loves to splash and jump in the pool. He’s gotten really good at putting his face in the water and blowing bubbles. More importantly, one of the first things they teach the kids is that when they get into the pool, they should turn around and come right back to the side. The idea is that if they learn it with us right there next to them, if they ever fall in the pool, they’ll come right to the side… (Hopefully Andrew will never need this skill)

The swim lessons have become part of our Saturday morning ritual. Daddy and Andrew go swimming. They get to spend some quality time together. And I usually sneak off and go work out while they’re doing their thing.

Now that Andrew’s three, he is in a class where he swims by himself. He still wears a bubble on his back, and there are teachers who help them swim, but daddy is no longer in the pool. I think that was more traumatic for hubby than Andrew.

He was worried that Andrew wouldn’t listen, that he wouldn’t wait hanging onto the wall for it to be his turn to swim… that he’d just be a total crab and whine the whole time he was in the pool.

It turns out that (so far) those fears have been unfounded. Andrew’s doing great. He even managed to wait for his turn to swim (mostly). I think hubby misses spending that time with Andrew in the pool though…

It’s great they still have that time together, even if things have changed a bit…

Have a great weekend everyone.

Time out for Mommy

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Mommy needs a time out. Daddy works strange hours based on his military service but it can be 12 plus hours a day. Today was one of those days. He was gone before the kids were both up and back just as I was putting them to bed.   I was the only parent on duty for our 3 ½ year old and 6 month old. I managed to take the eldest to pre-school, with baby in-tow, go to the grocery store, work out and picked up Jack all before noon.

Somewhere in there I made sure Tate got one on one time with me.  Then I prepared lunch and didn’t get to eat it because the baby was screaming. Despite changing, feeding, bathing, and playing the baby would not stop whining and crying. After several hours I had to put the baby in his crib and put myself in a “time-out.”

I called my husband at work and we tried to laugh about it. How on earth did I parent by myself while my husband was on two six month deployments??  I ask myself this all the time.  We both know when we have reached our limits and I needed a break. Eventually things calmed down for a few seconds and then Jack wanted his turn with me.  I simply can’t say no to his, “please play with me,” requests. The rest of the day was a juggle of needs, smiles, tears and tasks that ended with Daddy arriving home just in time to give the boys a kiss good night.

As much as I try to stay organized, and no matter how many things I try to do in a day, there always seems to be something else on my to-do-list.  Prioritize is the word of the day for me.  Thank you for reading about my demanding day.  I am sure I will have many more and hopefully will look back and laugh about it.  A glass of wine and some cheesy TV are calling my name!

Yours, Mine, and Ours

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Last weekend, the man that I have been dating for over a year now asked me to marry him. So now starts the process of blending his two little girls (ages 5 and 7) with my little Brady into a happy family of five. I realize the task won’t be easy. But we have been preparing their hearts and minds for months now: asking how they felt about us getting married, how it would be moving to a new house together, how they would have a brother or sisters now, etc.. So when the kids found out, they weren’t surprised. All three were quite happy.

The first time after the engagement the 7 year old saw me, she ran and jumped in my arms and said, “there is my new stepmommy.” Wow – not the response that I expected. It instantly reminded me of the story, Cinderella. Now, she has been asking since May “Daddy, when are you and Melissa getting married. Let’s do it already.” She is a funny girl, whom I quickly grew to love. Ironically, I have had the 5 year old in Sunday School since she was born. I fell in love with her back then and always had a strange connection with her, even as a toddler. I never knew her dad, Mike, until Fall of 2009.

Then there is our little Brady. Yesterday he asked me during lunch, if he was allowed to call Mr. Mike  “Daddy Mike” now. Brady isn’t quick with affection or trust. So for him to even consider such a name is a true honor. I feel so happy that the kids have all accepted everything (so far).

Of course everyone’s question now is “when are you guys having YOUR baby.” That is the funny thing. The girls already feel like my babies, and Brady already feels like his baby. We both are so happy and content with our three, that neither one of us has any desire to add a fourth that would be “ours,” because all three of the wonderful kids are OURS. We are not just marrying each other, we are really marrying the entire family.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I have heard that blending families together is tough ~ and to be prepared for the worst. So far, I guess we have been blessed and we just take it one day at a time. But moving into a new house together will be a challenge for all five of us. Brady will be going from an only child to the youngest of three. I am going from having one child to three. Mike is used to two calm little girls;  now he is going to have an extremely energetic little boy too. I am sure there will be lots of bending and blending on everyone’s part. But, I feel like I have finally found a true partner to hold my hand through the good times and the bad. We are all excited about this new journey together. And so the next chapter of my life and Brady’s begins: with the addition of three new wonderful characters.

Can’t Believe Everything…Or Can You?

Friday, January 14th, 2011

You can’t believe everything you hear on the radio. Or watch on television. Or read on the internet (or the paper if you still actually read your news in print)

And you really can’t believe everything your three year old says.

We’re still in the bribing (I mean REWARDING) stage when it comes to potty training. Andrew knows that if he goes at least five times, he’ll get a present. So if you ask him, he will always tell you that he went to the bathroom five times. His impish little smile gives him away…

Last night, I asked hubby to get me some Tylenol. Immediately, Andrew started saying that he was sick and needed medicine. He begged for Tylenol, which for some unknown reason, he loves.

This morning, he woke up and began telling us that his tummy hurts. He whined that he was sick, that he needed medicine. Then he immediately started running around the house, playing with his cars and bouncing off the walls.

When I picked him up from day care, he immediately said, “Mommy, my tummy hurts. I need to see doctor and get medicine.” Then he proceeded to run around the classroom yelling “shake your booty” at the top of his lungs. (Don’t judge…He did NOT pick that one up from me!)

So I’ve been watching him all night, looking for signs of this mystery belly ache. Is he actually sick? Is he making it up? I have no idea.

You can’t believe everything you hear…or can you?

Have a great weekend everyone.

Cold, Cold go away…

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

You may think I’m talking about all the wintry weather that is dumping down on half of the country right now, but unfortunately I’m talking about all the germs dumping down in Jack’s preschool.  Jack and the rest of our family have been battling a cold/illness since the start of preschool in June.

I knew Jack would be sicker than he was before once he started preschool, but I didn’t think it would be every day.  The doctor informed us that the first year of school is always the worst, and although it’s heart wrenching to see your child sick ALL the time, it does benefit his immune system.  I keep telling myself every time I wipe his snotty nose that this particular illness is making him stronger.  I know how much of displeasure it is for me.   I can only imagine how terrible Jack feels.  Luckily, the three weeks off over Christmas break gave his body a chance to recover before he caught another virus this week.

My husband and I seem to catch one of these annoying bugs every few weeks, but my other concern is the health of baby Tate.  Keeping Jack away from Tate and not making him feel too alienated is tough.   Tate encountered numerous colds in his first 6 months of life. I’m hoping by the time he gets to preschool he will be immune to everything.  Fat chance, I know.

We’ve taught Jack how important it is to wash his hands and cover his coughs.  He has been reminded so many times that he has formed a habit to wash his hands the minute he comes in the door from preschool or really any public place.   Often times he reminds my husband and me to wash our hands and cover our cough.  I understand fighting germs are a part of life.  I am looking forward to the day when all four of us are healthy at the same time and able to breathe the fresh air.

I am conscious of how minor my germ problems are compared to what other people deal with on a daily basis.  I count my blessings often, knowing the good health of my family.  I am aware of what illnesses and diseases are out there, and hope they don’t strike my family or anyone for that matter.  If you are cursed with a life-threatening sickness my heart goes out to you and I hope for a speedy recovery.

School is Back in Session

Monday, January 10th, 2011

I am not sure if I ever shared this, but I was an elementary school teacher before Brady was born. I worked in the district where we reside, and I taught gifted/talented (mainly grades 3-5). Since then I have started a teaching company and I also write/edit/blog for another teaching company (99% from home). So I am a teacher at heart ~ no matter where I go. I have taught Sunday School for the past 5 years, enrichment classes for over 10 years, and formal classes for another 10+ years.

So you can imagine my surprise when my son informed me that he didn’t want to go back to school last Monday! He “hated” school. Wow – not the words a teacher wants to hear. Apparently, he likes school once he is there, but would much rather stay home and have mama be his teacher. (We did homeschooling for the first 4.5 years of his life). Of course, homeschooling is no longer an option for me as I am a single mom with full custody of my son. I need to support him, so homeschooling just won’t work.

What do you do to help your child who really doesn’t want to go to school? I know his teacher is very loving and kind, there has been no bullying going on, and he does enjoy it once he is there. Heck, one of his best friends (and neighbor) is in his class. I have been talking up the positives about school and telling him what a big boy he is now, how lucky he is to have his teacher “Mrs. M” and how much she loves him, and trying to ask him about his favorite parts of the day. But alas, he just wants to stay home. Let’s hope this is just a short phase.

How do I foster my son’s love for school? I dread the upcoming 17+ years of formal schooling. He “hates” preschool, which is a wonderful play-based and child-led school. I wonder what his thoughts will be when he enters public school and realizes that preschool wasn’t that bad after all. I guess these are the challenges that parents need to deal with.

Honestly, as a teacher, it is a hard pill to swallow. Now he says he would like to go to school if I was his teacher. Hmmm – do you think the schools would let me follow him and teach kindergarten through grade 12? Just kidding; although I am certified K-12, I am not crazy!! Let’s all hope that Brady’s attitude changes and he falls “head over heals” in love with school.