Saturday, December 17, 2011

Family Traditions

I’ve learned recently that holiday traditions can be a little tricky once you’re all grown up. Which ones from your childhood do you continue , and which ones do you leave behind? It’s important for new families to create their own traditions, but we also want to carry on some of those cherished memories from our own childhood.

These are a few of my family’s Christmas traditions:

Christmas Tree. I’m insistent on this – the tree goes up NO LATER THAN the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. Even if it takes a week to decorate, the tree is in our house. Lately, our tradition has been to pick one out at Lowes (LOL) … but I hope to get back to a tree farm soon.

The Elf on the Shelf. We started doing this last year. Stanley comes to visit us just after Thanksgiving. He’s very formal, and we always greet him with a hearty, “Good day, Sir. Nice to see you again. We’re so glad you had a safe trip back.”

St. Nicholas Day. We began doing this last year. St. Nick brings Christmas PJs and a book to everyone’s stocking on December 6th. Next year, this tradition will include reading the story of St. Nick.

Angel Tree. Husband and I have always selected names of children in need from the Angel Tree at church. We shop for these kids, and we do our very best to GO ALL OUT! If it’s at all possible, we purchase every single thing on those kids’ wish list so that, at least in this way, they have a very Merry Christmas. This year we started taking Baby with us to do the shopping.

Nativity Adventures. Our nice nativity set is packed away, and we’ve been using Baby’s little plastic set for the last couple of years. It’s much safer that way! The Baby Jesus stays tucked away in a drawer until Christmas, and the Wise Men are also missing until they begin their journey (around our house, making their way to see Jesus) on Christmas.

Birthday Cake for Baby Jesus. This will be the first year we do this. With Christmas on the heels of Baby’s late November birthday, she is really starting to understand the concept of a birthday. This year, completely based on her idea, we will be making cupcakes and having ice cream for His Birthday party. We will also leave Him presents.

Next year, I’m also planning to have 24 wrapped Christmas books, one for Baby to open every day in the month of December until Christmas … a cute little idea I saw on Pinterest and forgot to pin. I’ll be stocking up on books this year when they *hopefully* go on sale!

What are your family traditions?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Christmas List

I almost hate to write about the things I want for Christmas, because Husband and I actually already gave each other our gifts. Unbeknownst (love that word!) to each other, we both bought Kindle Fires for one another and exchanged them last weekend.

We don’t usually do gifts early, but I had planned to have Stanley (our Elf on the Shelf) deliver ‘books’ to Baby and Husband the first morning I was going to be away this week. I had a cute little plan, and I really didn’t want to change it just because my trip got canceled.

So, on Sunday morning, Stanley arrived back from the North Pole with a gift for both Baby and Husband – Husband got the Kindle Fire and Baby got a fake little pink iPad (side note: this thing cost $14 and I’m almost ready to pay the $600 price tag of a real iPad to get rid of it … most annoying thing ever!). In turn, Husband also gave me my Kindle Fire on Sunday.

I have to say, these things are pretty amazing. It’s taking me a little time to adjust to the android features since I’m so used to my iPhone, but I love it!

That said, who doesn’t have a long list of things you might like to have?! Here’s mine:

-A RED Electric Tea Kettle like this one!

-An iPhone Photo Printer. It’s sad, but true. Almost every photo we take of Baby is on my phone. I do my best to email them to Snapfish and order the prints, but this would be nice to have too!

-Books. The print versions. (Yes, I know I have the Kindle Fire now, but some books are meant to be held.) On my list this year: Les Miserables, The Grapes of Wrath, The Glass Castle, and Of Mice and Men

-These pretty diamond hoop earrings.

-A pair of cowboy boots like these. Though my dad might not think much of me ordering a pair from Amazon. He has his hand made out of things like alligator and ostrich. I don’t think I need to go that fancy.

-Anything Tory Burch. I’ve been eyeing the snakeskin Reva Ballerina flats for years (YEARS!), but I also really like these camel colored croc-skinned ones. Okay, okay, maybe Dad and I don’t have very different taste in shoes after all!

-Other kitchen items. Really, you can’t go wrong with kitchen items for me. Right now, I really want an immersion blender and a new regular blender. I swear I smelled burning plastic coming from mine the other day when we made breakfast smoothies.

These are just a few things that I would love to have. Of course, there are more things I could add. And, I also don’t expect to get half of these things. But it really can be fun to think about the things you’d like to have for yourself.

Especially when, if you’re like me, it feels like you’ve spent the last month shopping for everyone else in the world.

So, what’s on YOUR list this year?

Blogging into the Christmas Spirit

When I initially thought I’d be out of town for work for four days the week before Christmas, I was more than a little bummed.

When that trip was cancelled due to an ear infection that prevented me from flying I thought … this is NOT what I had in mind when I wished I could be at home with my family instead.

And now that I am home, sinus/ear infection in full swing, it’s been a little hard to get into the Christmas Spirit.

Or to get much done, for that matter.

Actually, motivation to do just about anything – Christmas or otherwise – has been hard to come by.

Stanley, our poor Elf on the Shelf, sat in the same place (our kitchen table centerpiece) for the entire weekend.

I looked at him. I thought about moving him. Then I thought: I’ll do it later. Can’t get off the couch just yet.

But I didn’t move him. Not on Friday. Or Saturday. Or Sunday. Or even before Baby woke up yesterday morning.

It would be fair to say that I’ve been moping around a bit these last few days.

If it hasn’t been on my computer or available via the TV remote, it just wasn’t getting done.

Until … I took a quick look at a few of your blogs.

There are crafts and recipes and stories. There is joy and holiday cheer all around.

So, thanks everyone, for helping me get a little bit of the Christmas Spirit back …

I’m not quite sure I’m up for doing a lot just yet, but I’m definitely making plans!

On the agenda for later this week …

Holiday Cooking: mint truffles, cinnamon/sugar pretzels, chex mix, cookies, reindeer noses, and more!

Holiday Crafts: Cinnamon/Applesauce ornaments and about a half dozen cute hand/foot/finger print ideas

Holiday Decorations: We’re getting the lights up outside … Whether or not it is cold or raining!

Holiday Fun: A party, spending time with friends and family, making those recipes and projects

Blogging: I’ll do my best to blog my way through the holidays, too! You know, me – the extremely non-crafty mom who will now have to make a special trip to the store for supplies for all the things mentioned above.

Tomorrow, by which time I better be feeling better!

For today, we’ll start small. Stanley has a new set of wheels!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sick Day

I can’t believe how many of our sweet, precious babies endure ear infection after ear infection in the first few years of their lives.

These past few days have been miserable for me, and I am an adult who can fully process what’s going on (i.e., feeling like you’re trapped in a tunnel is no fun!).

I feel terrible for Baby when I think back to the first year of her life. I think she had 6-8 ear infections, maybe more, before we ultimately put tubes in her ears.

She was such a trooper too – sometimes we wouldn’t even know she was sick, because she was such a happy girl.

I, on the other hand, have not been such a model patient.

Cranky and extra cranky is more like it.

I spent the weekend trying to rest and recuperate, let the amoxicillin kick in, and pretend like I could hear what everyone around me was saying.

Who knows what I nodded ‘yes’ or ‘no’ too … hopefully I didn’t commit myself to anything too undesirable. Or let Husband squirm his way out of putting Christmas lights up outside.

Baby also decided to pick this weekend to stop napping.

(Somebody, please tell me it’s too soon for that!!! )

Up before 6 am both days, and nothing but fussing in her bed during nap time on Saturday. And on Sunday.

This mama has never been so happy to see Monday arrive. Now I can finally take a much needed sick day.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Grounded

All that anxiety last week, and it turns out that I won’t even be making my business trip this week.

I’ve been grounded. By the doctor.

I thought I was battling allergies all week – how could I possibly be sick? Again?

I had some variation of a cold for literally the entire months of September and October, which finally came to an abrupt end with a steroid shot right before Halloween.

I was feeling fantastic, and I really didn’t think I could possibly get sick again.

At least not so soon.

Baby’s 2nd birthday came and went, and I silently celebrated the end of the “your child will be sick as a dog from 0-2 years while she’s in day care” phase of our lives. I was very quick to welcome the latter half of that saying: “and then she’ll never get sick again.”

Now, not even two weeks later, I’ve got yet another cold-sinus-something-or-other which has prompted the doctor to advise against my flight, which would have been Sunday night.

I got the approval from my bosses yesterday, and canceled my travel arrangements this morning. Just in time, too, because Husband and I had this conversation this afternoon as we ran a quick errand:

Me: Oh wow, my ears are popping. Ouch! That really hurts!

Husband: Well, it’s a good thing you canceled your flight, because that was only an altitude change of about 30 feet. Your ear drums would have definitely burst on a plane.


The diagnosis of an inner ear infection also explains the bouts of dizziness I had been experiencing, which, had I even survived the flight, would have made for an interesting experience – dizzy driving in the greater Los Angeles area.

So, yes, I’m definitely grounded at this point. It will make for a very busy January, with several other scheduled business trips, but that’s okay.

For now, I’ll just wait around for the amoxicillin to kick in. I wonder if a glass of wine would help it out a bit …

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Does she know?

Husband says I’m paranoid. Or, at best, I’m just reading too much into things.

But I think she knows. I don’t know how, exactly, but I think she does.

Sure, oscillating temper tantrums and bouts of being overly clingy are a major part of toddlerhood.

As is finding new words and phrases daily.

“No, mommy, STAY!”

“Sit on bottom, mommy. DON’T MOVE!”

“Mommy, mommy … NO GO BYE-BYEEEEEEEEE!”

Of course, I am sensitive to these words. I know I am leaving for another trip soon.

I know it will be a long trip this time. Four full days and nights.

Just before Christmas.

Two time zones away, with little to no opportunities to Skype or even talk on the phone.

I know I will be gone, but I wonder …

Does she know?

”"
Linking up with Shell at Things I Can't Say for Pour Your Heart Out (not sure why the button won't work??)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Questions

Baby asks a lot of questions these days.

Some of my favorites are …

What Mommy doing?

Where we going?

Even in her sleep, she indignantly asks … Where my (insert any random object) at?!

The question of this past weekend was … what raining doing?

And, recently she asked the question that I know will soon take over our lives …

Mommy, wh … wh … Mommy, WHYYYYYYYY?!?!

I don’t think she fully understands this concept just yet. She was probably just mimicking me, but still – it’s a sure sign of what is to come!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

How many Christmas Gifts do you give your kids?

I’ve heard some great ideas about Christmas gifts for kids.

Only give them three gifts, because that is the number of gifts that were brought to the Baby Jesus.

Or, the 4-gift rule: one thing they need, one thing they want, one thing they’ll wear, and … oh something else. I’ll have to check Pinterest to remember!

I’m a little at a loss on how to handle Christmas gifts. I really like these ideas, especially since Christmas comes on the heels of Baby’s birthday and we’re usually swimming in toys by December 1st anyway.

However, at this age, I feel like she constantly needs new things. New clothes as she gets bigger. New cups to replace the sippy cups. New shoes, because her feet (that didn’t grow a single size for an entire year) are now growing a half size a month. New toys for developing new skills.

The thing is, I really don’t want to get in the habit of buying her these things on regular trips to the store throughout the year. I don’t want her thinking that she gets a toy every time we pop into the grocery store for milk.

So, a part of me thinks that birthday and Christmas are the perfect time to just load up on presents to last all year. We could keep some of them in a closet and pull them out as needed.

On the other hand, I don’t want to miss the meaning of Christmas all together and only focus on gifts.

What’s your philosophy? What does your family do?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sweet Baby, you are two!

Sweet Baby,

Yesterday you turned two, and I really can’t believe it. It’s true what they say: the days are long, but the years are oh-so-short. With another few blinks of an eye, you’ll be all grown up … and there are some very important things that I want to remember and that I want you to know about your two-year-old self.

You are fearless.

You take “no” as a dare to jump headfirst.

You don’t like loud noises very much (“Big Choo Choo loud!”).

But with a little reassurance, you own your fear (“Hush it, Choo Choo, hush it!!!).

You have been talking up a storm for at least six months. Your vocabulary is huge, and you speak in complete sentences. You’re even starting to pick up on context.

My favorite thing that you say right now is that you don’t just call us mama and daddy. You say, “I love you, my daddy,” or “Thank you, my mama.” So sweet!

Your favorite question is: What mama doing? What daddy doing?

You also love noticing and saying what we’re doing together: “We walking together.” Or “We eating together.”

You’re independent. Strong willed. Confident.


You are not shy, except in new places or with new people. Once you warm up, you’re happy to belt out your favorite songs at the top of your lungs. (ME AND MY BEST TEDDY BEARRRRRRRRRR!!!!!)

You’re a joker. You taunt us and sneak up to ‘scare’ us and psych us out.

You never sit still. Your feet hit the ground in the morning, and you run all day.

You’re a very busy girl.

You love animals, especially puppies and kitties. You’re not sure about real animals, in person, but in books, on TV, on shirts, and from a far distance … you looooove animals.

You love stickers. It’s our best method of bribery with you right now. 

You have amazing hearing and eyesight! You can see planes in the sky that barely glimmer against the sun. You hear the trains going by from across town. It’s amazing.

You love purses and make-up and shopping, a girly girl for your mama.


You love being outside, rain or shine, just like your daddy.

You still like your face in the wind, even on the coldest day of the year.

You’re a picky eater, but you do love: grilled cheese, pizza, egg tacos, ice cream, waffles, chex/kix/cheerios, goldfish, crackers, any dessert you can get your hands on, pureed fruit/veggie combos (we call them “squeeze” because of the containers they come in) …

As eating goes, you’re a grazer. You constantly carry your snack cup with you, much to your daddy’s chagrin.

You’re a little organizer, also like your daddy. Sometimes I think you carry your snack up with you just so you can transfer your chex from it to another container … one. at. a. time.

You love playing with your babies. You’re such a little mama – you pat their backs goodnight and kiss their ‘boo boos’ when you think they need extra loving.

You’re not much of a snuggler, unless we can sneak them in first thing in the morning.

And, you are a morning person. You wake up early, giggling, excited, and ready to play.

You love books: It’s Pajama Time, Goodnight Moon, Runaway Bunny, I’ll See You in the Morning.

You love music. Right now, you’re taking two music classes in school, and you’d probably do more if you could!

You love to sing. Baa Baa Black Sheep and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Me and My Best Teddy Bear (from Barney) are your favorites. You also like: the ABCs, Old McDonald, and The Farmer in the Dell. At night we sing Amazing Grace and Like a Sunflower.

You love to dance. You throw your hand in the air. You bounce up and down. You sway. You twirl. You do it all, with or without music.

You are sweet. You give the best hugs and kisses in the entire world.


You are a spark of light, so full of joy and energy and life.

You are the most wonderful, amazing little girl. You are happy.

Thank you for showing us what life is all about and what true love really feels like.

Thank you for bringing more joy to us than we ever knew possible.

Thank you for letting us say, at every new stage: this is the best one yet!

Mostly, thank you for being ours.

Love,
Mama & Daddy

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Baby Turns Two!

Is anyone still reading this blog? Ha! I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer is no. Especially since I haven’t updated it in … months.

What can I say? Life happens!

Apparently being a wife, mom, sales rep, MOPS Steering member, Macaroni Kid publisher, and … blogger can be overwhelming from time to time. (okay, okay, and my new addiction to Pinterest has also taken some of my time lately.)

Something had to give.

Anyway …

Baby turns two on Sunday, and we celebrated at our local Train Museum last weekend. Here are a few pictures to catch you up on my growing girl.







If you’re still here, THANKS, and please stick around. I hope to start posting more over the holidays.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Resolution

As Baby’s second birthday approaches (in November), I’ve had a bit of a revelation. My child is almost 2, which means I’ve been doing this working-traveling-mom thing for almost two years.

And, for each and every one of those 650+ days, I’ve stressed, worried, and guilted myself about being a working mom.

Is day care a detriment to my child’s development?

Will our bond be permanently stunted because I am not there each and every minute of her life?
Have I failed my child?

Have I failed my husband by leaving him with the bulk of the responsibilities on a regular basis?

What if something happens while I’m away?

What if they need me?

What if they don’t?

These questions, along with – oh about ten million more, have plagued me constantly since the day my maternity leave ended.

But, yesterday I woke up, skyped with my happy, smiling, little girl who tried to feed me bites of waffles through the computer, and I realized … she knows how much I love her.

She knows that she is the most important, cherished, beloved part of my life.

So, I resolved to stop the guilt. Stop the anxiety. Stop the stress.

I felt good about this resolution, confident even.

Two minutes later, day care called. Baby fell on her face while going outside. She has a bump on
her head and a scratched up nose.

My internal thought process in the following 4 seconds: I’m in the middle of freakin’ nowhere, three hours from home, stuck behind a semi going 40 in a 70. How the hell am I going to turn this car around and get to my child in under an hour? I’m pulling her out of day care, quitting my job, and holding her like an infant until she leaves for college, if I even let her go to college. How irresponsible are these day care workers to let her fall on her face?! What am I going to do?

Reality check: Five seconds later, they’re telling me that she’s jumping, playing, and dancing around outside and didn’t even cry. They just wanted to let me know what had happened. There is no need to come get her.

Of course, I call Husband immediately to let him know that he needs to quit his job, pick Baby up, and hold her like an infant until I can be home in three hours.

He tells me I’m crazy. Remember, she fell on her face a dozen times over the weekend and was just fine – she’s a high energy toddler who runs – never walks – everywhere, and she’ll be fine. She didn’t even cry.

Hmpf. I guess my resolution is on probation. God is definitely testing my resolve. I’m going to try it out, but honestly … guilt is my middle name. If this is going to work, I could use a day or two (or, you know, at least 5 minutes) without being tested.

It's been a while, but it feels good to link up again with Shell at Things I Can't Say for Pour Your Heart Out.


Note: I know I’ve been MIA lately. What can I say? Life gets busy sometimes. But I have been keeping up with y’all, reading your blogs, and attempting to comment … blogger has it in for me and won’t let me comment on about 80% of the blogs in my reader. Sorry!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Mom's Silly Heart Break

Usually Husband drops Baby off at day care. It’s so hard for me to leave her. You’d think I would be used to it by now … we’ve been doing this for over a year and a half.

But it hasn’t really gotten any easier for me. There is sorrow for missing out on parts of her day. There is guilt, of course. There is the crushing heart break every time her little face twists into a frown and she starts to cry for me to stay.

I thought it was bad she was younger, but it’s even more torturous now that she has words. Oh, how they cut like a knife.

It’s funny, though, because today brought on a whole new kind of heart break. And, silly though it may be, I’d be lying if I tried to say it didn’t hurt just as much to watch her stand by our door this morning, begging to go to school. Begging to leave me and go play with her friends. Begging to go (“Now, mama, now! Let’s go!”) for her music class this morning.

Oh, how it cut like a knife.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

PYHO: On the Road Again

It’s been a while since I truly blogged. Life has been … busy. To say the least.

The crazy part for me is that the summer is my ‘slow’ time at work. I’m supposed to have more time to spend with my family, with Baby, during these summer months.

And, to a certain extent, I have. Instead of spending nights away from home, I’ve been able to pick her up from day care early in the afternoon. We’ve run circles around the house, playing all afternoon. Oh, how we’ve played! And (of course) her favorite … we’ve been shopping!

She chants: Shopping! Shopping! Shopping!

I just can’t believe that it’s already August. I can’t believe that I leave for my annual sales meeting on Monday. This is the event that essentially kicks off my traveling season for the fall, and it will be followed by a couple of long, difficult months of being on the road again, spending several nights each week away from home and away from my family.

In the next month, I’ll cross the country twice. In the next three months, I’ll build more frequent flier miles and hotel points than most people do in several years.

And, it’s not easy. I HATE leaving. I HATE being gone. I HATE that I miss those precious moments with my ever-changing toddler. Sometimes, I notice that her hair has grown when I’ve been gone for a mere 48 hours.

Then I think about all that this job really does afford me – flexibility, salary, insurance. More than that, too, this job provides security in turbulent times. And, I really like what I do, so that also provides a certain set of perks.

I realize the benefits. I really do, and I’m not ungrateful.

But I also struggle. All. The. Time.

Husband asked me last night if I was just over-thinking the situation. (I was trying to explain to him that he would need to spend more quality time with Baby next week, because she would already be thrown off by my absence.)

Maybe I am. Kids are resilient. I know they are. But I don’t want to be the reason my child has to be resilient. I want to be her security, her sense of normalcy. Her home. And I hate the thought of being the inconsistency in her life.

I thought my traveling was hard last year, but I can already tell this year will be much more difficult. Baby has words now. She has opinions. She can tell me exactly what she thinks, and I’m just not sure what she’ll think about my coming and going so frequently.

And, the really, really selfish side of me dreads the day when she no longer clings to me. It’s not that I don’t want her to cling to Husband. It’s just that I don’t want her to not cling to me. It’s one thing if she does it by some natural choice, but I hate thinking that I might cause her to pull away simply by being absent.

So I will work extra hard these next few months. I will take 6:00 am flights on Monday morning instead of flying out Sunday evenings like most of my co-workers. I will do in three days what most others do in four (or more). I will work hard to be home, with Husband and Baby, as often as possible.

Linking up with Shell at Things I Can't Say again this week for Pour Your Heart Out Wedneday. Join us.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sentences

Baby: Mama, I see a truck!
Me: You do?
Baby: Uh huh. I see it.



Twenty months old. Speaking in sentences.

Forgive me for bragging a bit, but I’m one proud mama!



Baby talks non-stop. When she’s not talking, she’s singing. And, whether she’s talking or singing, she is always on the go.

Busy baby plus busy mama equals one very full life, but we’re having a great time!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grown up grief

Grief. Loss. Sadness. Regret.

These emotions have been a fairly consistent part of my life for over a decade. Maybe longer.

One of my step-brothers died in a car accident when I was 16. Following that, I experienced the loss of a friend or loved one every couple of months for about a year.

It was by far the most difficult time in my life, and I learned a lot about grown up emotions before I had really grown up myself.

Flash forward almost 15 years, and those emotions are right back at my doorstep with the recent loss of a very dear friend.

Grief, loss, sadness, regret. They all come tumbling down when you lose somebody that you have loved.

The thing is … the experience is so incredibly different now. I feel the impact.

But I also see and even accept life as it continues to go on around me.

I have a child now. She is too young to expose her to my sorrow or to these grown up situations. She doesn’t need to see mama cry. There is no way a one-year-old could begin to comprehend death, but she would certainly be affected by seeing me upset.

So, not only does life go on, but so do I.

That wasn’t the case all those years ago. I was able to give so much of my time to my grief.

Am I jaded because these are no longer brand new feelings? Possibly.

I think, though, that it’s more likely that I’m simply experiencing grown up grief.

It’s not that the loss is not felt just as deeply. Or that the life was not just as significant.

It’s simply that my life now, including all of my experiences – good and bad, is no longer just about me.

Even when I’m sad … breakfast must still be made. The Tickle Monster is still required to make an appearance. Barney-Elmo-Baby-Woof Woof requests still fly on a regular basis.

Even when I’m sad … it’s still my job to comfort and nurture and love Baby. To make sure that nothing in her world changes or is impacted by my own experiences. To make sure that her biggest concern of the day is that she had to eat yogurt when she really wanted ice cream.

And that’s okay. That, I think, is both how and why life goes on.

Pouring my Heart Out with Shell this week, maybe more than ever before.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rockin' the Baby!

Day One ...



Six months later...


Today ...





She's unlikely to let me hold her like this for more than 2 seconds these days (as you can see from the last photo where she's obviously trying to escape), but I'll always remember how great it feels to rock my sweet baby.

Linking up with Shell's Rockin' the Baby!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

George

A brother. A son. A husband. A friend.

My Friend.

At one time, my very best friend. My rock.

No time or distance will change the fact that your friendship saved my life.

Your presence truly made this world a better place.

Most people around the world today will not notice. But so very many will.

We will notice that the light around us shines a little dimmer today, and every day going forward.
But tonight we will also take notice of a brand new star in the sky. One that seems to outshine all others. And, if we listen very closely, we may just hear a hearty chuckle escape the night’s sky.

And we will know that it is you. For there is no mistaking your contagious laughter, your incredible joy.

Many wonderful things have been said and written about you in the last few hours. You were a friend, a listener, a brother, an angel. The one that resonates the most for me is this …

You were truly a gift.

Dear Lord-One day you will reveal to us your master plan, and we will share in your knowledge, your wisdom, and your understanding. Until that time, please hold us close and comfort us as our grieving hearts ask: Why?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Macaroni Kid!

Have you heard about Macaroni Kid? I’m a Publisher Mom for my local Macaroni Kid newsletter, and I love it! We tell local families about all the kid happenings around town. With a calendar of events, parenting articles, and craft/recipe ideas, our goal is to arm parents with enough activities to entertain, stimulate, and exhaust their kids … without exhausting themselves.



We also just launched Macaroni Deals, which is an awesome super coupon website targeted specifically to families, kids, moms, etc. I love being a part of Macaroni Kid and Macaroni Deals … it really is so much fun!

You can check the national site to see if your area already has a newsletter. If so, sign up now. It’s such a great resource, and you’ll be so glad you to have all the relevant kid info in one spot! If your town/neighborhood doesn’t already have Macaroni Kid, ask me how you can become a local Publisher Mom. It’s really easy and a lot of fun!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life: Prediction v. Reality

Some of my oldest friends (and as J points out, that means that we’ve known each other for a long time … not that they’re old), who also happen to be bloggers, recently approached me with a fantastic idea. Let’s talk about life - love, family, and career. How did we think things might turn out? What predictions did we make in the past about our future lives? And, how have those things played out in reality?

So here is the challenge... what did you expect your life to look like? Is it anything close to what you once imagined? The best way to attack this topic is to compartmentalize into three major subsections: Love, Family, and Career.

LOVE
Prediction: I had a firm plan that I wouldn’t even consider getting married before age 30. I would first conquer the world, then think about settling down. What I did know, though, was that the person I ended up with would be as many of the following things as possible: Catholic, tall/dark/handsome, refined/educated, smart , driven, successful. He would be all of those things and still willing to let me rule the world. I would also not end up with somebody who ‘had potential’ … it would have to be someone who was already achieving their potential.

Reality: I met Husband when I was 23, almost 24. The rest, as they say, is history. The walls came tumbling down, albeit after some resistance on my part. Husband has a much more elaborate and exaggerated version of this story and how I ‘ran like a scared rabbit’ … yes, even educated men in the south use expressions like this. As it turns out, Husband actually had every single quality I ever imagined wanting. And then some.

Breaking it down: I’m not sure my predictions could have ever really been based in reality, because I don’t think it is possible to plan for something you don’t know exists. Husband, while meeting all of those superficial characteristics I mentioned, is so much more loving and supportive that I ever thought possible.

FAMILY
Prediction: I was all over the spectrum on this one, ranging from thinking I would never have children to thinking I would have or adopt a whole litter. The thing I was fairly certain of was that children wouldn’t really enter the picture until much later in life.

Reality: I turn 30 this October. I’ll have an almost-four-year old marriage and an almost-two-year-old daughter.

Break it down: Who knew?! This might be the one and only time in my life that I’ll admit to having been wrong and actually be happy about it! Pregnancy was hard, and Brian is not as into the idea of adoption as I am, so the future remains to be seen. For now, we’re good with only having one toddler rule the roost.

CAREER
Prediction: I’m not sure I ever had a specific plan of my own. Which is strange considering how much of a planner I am. Sure, there were times I thought I’d be a lawyer or a counselor or something truly noble. But, I think I just always expected to graduate from college, move to New York City (or Milan or Paris), find something interesting and important to do – anything ranging from human rights to fashion – become insanely wealthy, and never look back.

Reality: In one word – family. I was ultimately just too tied to my family to move far away. The more detailed description, of course, involves: applying to law school, not getting into the schools I wanted (probably because I didn’t put a ton of effort into my applications or the LSAT), studying for both the GRE and GMAT but never taking either ... and subsequently just needing to ‘get a job’ … which, I did. I sell textbooks. Glamorous, I know.

Breaking it down: It’s actually been a really enjoyable career path. I work for a phenomenal company that really takes care of its employees. I’ve been able to travel all over the US for work and to some more exotic destinations on incentive trips. I have more hotel and airline points that I will probably ever know what to do with, so traveling is always affordable for us. And, working in the publishing world has opened doors for me that I might never have considered otherwise ... blogging, publishing Macaroni Kid, and more.

One thing I know for sure is that I will forever be ruined for any kind of desk job or position that requires set hours or being micromanaged.

How does your reality compare to your predictions? I’d love to host a linky, but I have no idea how to do that and no time to look into it! If you post about this topic, comment below with your link!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Baby Talk

I’ve blogged recently about how talkative Baby has become. Although I try not to brag, I really am a pretty proud mama. She has an excellent vocabulary, and is adding new words and phrases daily.


That said, like most mother/child duos, I would guess that I’m the only one who can recognize about 60% of what she says. I know exactly what she’s saying, and it all makes perfect sense ... to me.


However, to others, it still just sounds a lot like gibberish.


To that end, I thought I’d interpret her latest monologue for y’all. I’m sure that some things will be lost in translation, but you’ll get the gist. It goes something like this …


“Hi! My name is Baby, and I’ll be your tour guide today as you journey through The Land of No-No-Mama-Bye-Bye-Go! I’m a super smart little girl, so you might hear me refer to this place from time to time as ‘Adios Mama!’ (because can totally pull off 'bilingual') or as ‘Be Seein’ You’ (because I can play ‘casual’ pretty well too). Whatever I call it, it all means the same thing. You want me to do something that I don’t want to do, so I’m telling you to leave. I will attempt to push you into corners or close the door in your face. I will run away from you, and make no mistake – I’m fast. I’ll even occasionally throw in a kiss or two just to throw you for a loop. You’ll think I’m sweet, and I’ll get what I want. That’s just the way I roll. I’m 19-months-old, and I’m awesome. Also … I own you.”


Anyone else been to The Land of No-No-Mama-Bye-Bye-Go? I’d love to borrow your map and/or itinerary. I wonder if Frommer’s has a book out on this place yet…

Friday, June 17, 2011

Potty mouth

I always thought I’d be the one to have to watch my mouth. Especially as Baby learns more words, is mimicking and talking more, and generally becomes more aware of what is going on around her.

This, however, is not exactly the case. I’ve actually been pretty careful about my own words.

And, I’ve literally had to squelch my overflowing pride a time or two so as not to boast that my 18-month-old has an incredible vocabulary. I’m really not trying to brag (okay, maybe a little), but she does know over 100 words. She has several phrases. She chimes in on songs.

Words seem to be her forte.

The problem? Her pronunciation.

Of course, as her mom, I know exactly what she’s saying, what she means, and what she wants.

And, at times, I forget that my understanding of her words doesn’t exactly transfer to others.

Which isn’t a huge problem.

Except when you’re sitting in a public place. And your oh-so-sweet daughter sings ‘quack quack quack’ or waves out the window to the ‘truck’ … and it does not sound at all like she’s saying ‘quack’ or ‘truck’ …

No, it doesn’t sound like that at all.

Then you start to wonder how many public places you’ve visited where she exclaimed these words and you never even realized what it must sound like to those around you.

Oh my. She really doesn’t have a potty mouth. But I bet it sounds like she does to other people.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rockin' the Bump!

Husband and I were discussing my pregnancy over the weekend. He mentioned that, although he remembers me being pregnant (how could he not recall that miserable time?!) ... he actually doesn't remember much about my belly.

So, I thought I'd join Shell at Things I Can't Say for Rockin' the Bump as a little reminder!



A friend took a couple of maternity pictures for me about a month before Baby was born. At this point, I was finally feeling a little better for a few hours a day (thank you, zofran!).





This was at 37 weeks...just 2 weeks before Baby was born!


Novemer 27th - Birth Day!



I wouldn't say that I 'rocked' much of anything during pregnancy, but the one thing I actually do miss is that sweet little baby bump!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The toddler years

I think we all have our fears and concerns about being mothers.

Will I be good at this?

Will I be good enough at this?

How and when and where will I know what to do? Or how to do it? Or if it is the right thing to do?

I’m sure we all have a handful (or more) of questions that linger in the back of minds.

But then something amazing happens. You baby is born and instincts kick in. You just know how to nurture that little bundle of joy. Sure there are things you have to figure out along the way – lessons you learn the hard way – but overall, the whole mothering things comes much more naturally than you ever expected.

It’s pure bliss. Only you don’t realize how blissful it is until … WAHM! The toddler years hit.

Suddenly you find yourself sitting, defeated, on the bathroom floor as your naked one-year-old runs around taunting you. She’s got your parenting book in one hand (no clue how that ended up in the bathroom!) and a dirty diaper in the other, and it’s sooo obvious that she totally owns you. She will scream bloody murder as you attempt to get her into the bathtub, then laugh maniacally as she escapes your grasp. And, instead of the shampoo, it’s this process that you rinse and repeat for the next half hour.

This is the moment when you reflect back on her infancy and yearn for those blissful days where you were actually in control. If only you had been able to appreciate a baby who not only needed you, but wanted you. If only, instead of Mozart, you had thought to send a few subliminal messages at night …. Mommy is in charge. Mommy is in control. Mommy is the boss.

Of course, you’re not really sure if you should have played those for Baby or yourself. Or both?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Monsters.

Baby loves Cookie Monster. She’ll dance her little heart out to “C is for cookie” … she will literally stop in her tracks for this monster.

And, though she may not realize it, she also loves the Tickle Monster. She’s most ticklish on her neck and collarbone, but you can pretty much get her giggling with just a little tickle of her ribs or legs or knees or feet.

Those monsters are fun.

There are other monsters, however, that are not so fun.

The Sleep Deprivation Monster (AKA, Baby). Sure, she’s had a good 10 hours of sleep by the time 5:00 AM rolls around, but I have not!

The Please-Don’t-Ever-Put-Me-Down-I-Want-My-Mama-And-Only-My-Mama Monster. Also known as Baby. Sweet little girl that she is, she loves her mama sooo much. Honestly, I am kinda loving this monster. Most of the time. Except when I need to take care of a few simple tasks … like drink a hot cup of coffee. Or go to the bathroom. Or do anything that requires more than the use of my left hand, especially since I am right handed.

The I-Will-NOT-Go-To-Sleep-Not-Without-A-Fight Monster. Yes, this too is my child. We’re working on crying it out. And, by that, I mean … she’s crying. I’m crying. It’s not a pretty picture. I’m crossing my fingers though, because I don’t think she has yet caught on to the fact that self-induced puking will quickly get my attention. It’s only happened once. Yuck.

Then, my friends, there is the Green Eyed Monster.

Jealousy.

This beast recently has recently reared its ugly head inside of my child, and … wow.

It is ugly.

My sweet, loving little girl transforms into a little bit of an actual monster herself. One that hits and throws tantrums and is defiant and is generally not very nice.

The trigger? Me.

Yes, she loves her mama soooo much that she does NOT. Want. To. Share.

And she is not afraid to make her opinion known. I am her mama, and only her mama. My affections are for her and her alone. Kiss her daddy, and he gets slapped. Hug her stuffed tiger, and she starts beating on him too.

Terrible Twos: You are 6 months early.

Time Outs: You are virtually ineffective.

Parenting Books: Well, when my toddler is chasing me around the house while holding
you, I’m not sure you’re much help either.

Moms in the blogging world: Thoughts? Advice? Help?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spirited.

Somebody recently shared with me this notion: from 18 months to age 3, toddlers have a minor meltdown every 6 minutes and at least 3 major meltdowns every hour.

Let’s just say that Tantrum Tallulah, as we sometimes call Baby, has been around a lot lately.

Thus, I was inspired to order the book The Happiest Toddler on the Block. I’m only a few pages in, and I can already tell you that I will be taking to heart some very valuable nuggets of information regarding toddler behavior.

Case in point: You cannot think of toddlers as mini-big kids. You must think of them as mini-cavemen.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never read a more accurate statement in my life.

You could look at the sky on a crystal clear day and state, “The sky is blue,” and it still would be a less accurate statement than asserting that toddlers are essentially cavemen.

I’m seriously not more than 20 pages into this book, but I have also learned one other helpful bit of info regarding my toddler (who I still adamantly call Baby!).

Spirited. She is spirited.

Apparently there are three kinds of children: Easy, Shy, and Spirited.

Personally, I think Baby is actually a mix of all of these, but the majority of the time … she is spirited.

Strong willed. Very high highs. Very low lows. Easily distracted, but simultaneously unwilling to give up on something she has set her mind to achieve.

Oh, and this is my fave: never stops going. And, I mean never.

She’s up before dawn and doesn’t stop moving until she literally crashes at nap time. Immediately following a good nap, she’s on the go again until she crashes again at bed time.

In all honestly, though, I love having this term – spirited – to explain Baby’s personality. I think it’s an ideal description. She is truly full of life.

And, yes, sometimes it’s exhausting for me. Okay, okay, it is quite frequently exhausting for me, but I really couldn’t imagine it any other way. I can’t even imagine wanting it to be any other way.

I love my head-strong, opinionated, spirited little toddler. And she knows it!


[P.S. Nobody asked me to write about this book. It just happens to be what is going on in my life right now, and I thought I'd share the link in case any of you are interested.]

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I miss you.

I know, I know. I haven’t always been very nice to you. There were days when I woke up cursing your name.

I’ve referred to you as hateful. Obnoxious. Just plain mean.

I’m pretty sure I’ve even threatened physical violence a time or two (or ten).

But, these days, I find myself missing you.

I find that I miss waking up next to you.

I miss being asleep until the exact moment when you wake me up.

Oh, alarm clock, how I wish that I wasn’t awake loooong, looooooooong before your chiming sounds greet the morning.

Oh, alarm clock, how I miss you.

I do still hear you. But I am usually across the house when you start singing these days.

One day, I will be back. I promise. I promise we’ll resume our love/hate relationship again. One day.

Until then, I’ll be rocking my sweet teething, growing, screaming, unhappily not-sleeping child. I won’t be there when you wake up, because I will be with her. It’s where I’m needed right now. It’s where I’m supposed to be.

But my sweet alarm clock, you know my deep, dark little secret. As much as I love snuggling my baby girl …. I do miss you too. I’m trying to negotiate some sort of an agreement (snuggles with her at night; snuggles with you in the morning), but so far she’s not buying into this plan.

Please, please don’t give up on me. I miss you.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I'm back. Maybe.

Sorry to have been MIA for such an extended period of time. And without any explanation. Life happens, I suppose, and I hadn’t exactly planned to stop blogging these last few weeks. Many, many things have been going on.

Births. Babypolooza, I call it. I know 6 babies that have been born within the last couple of weeks, a couple more planned for this week, and a couple after that this summer. Lots and lots of babies!

Deaths. Close friends have lost people they love. It is truly heart breaking to watch people you care about suffer great loss and not be able to truly comfort them.

Difficulties. Among the many births, one was especially difficult. A dear friend is still recovering, as is her sweet baby, who remains in the NICU. Please pray for them. Another difficulty of a different nature – professional issues for somebody I love very much. Watching a person who has literally given decades of their life to a job only to be put through the ringer for personal reasons is tough.

And, herein lies the problem with blogging for me. These are the things I’ve wanted to write about. These are the things that I’m currently passionate about. But they’re not my stories to tell. It’s not my place to blog publicly about other people’s private lives.

So, I’ve been quiet. I do ask for your prayers. Prayers for Baby G, that he continues to recover fully. For my friends who are desperately trying to make sense of their loss. And for somebody who means the absolute world to me, who will hopefully have a resolution to this professional mess very, very soon.

If you’ve stuck with me this far, and you’re ready for something much less vague (and assuming you’re not sick to death of my writing about day care issues), read on!

I. HATE. DAY. CARE.

I wish I had more productive things to say. I wish I could be more insightful. I wish I had more to offer. But, really, I am just fed up. Such is the plight of the working mom, I suppose.

It’s ridiculous, though. I am so tired of my child coming home every single day with a new incident report, a new injury. It’s not that I don’t expect one-year-olds to tumble, fall, bite/hit each other, etc. I get it. It’s the age.

My problem is that there are entirely too many incident reports that cannot be explained. Too many instances where the teachers just don’t know what happened.

Although, I really do like a couple of the teachers, the ratio is just too high. Twelve unstable toddling children is too many for two teachers. Especially when one of them sits with her back to the kids when they’re on the play ground.

So, I’m obviously looking for new options. I’ve got a couple of places that are run by churches and that have been recommended to me by people I know and trust. I’m just hoping their hours will line up with what we need and that they have availability. I hate to transition Baby again, but I am really not sure what else to do.

Sorry to come back with nothing but complaints. I’ve got some fun stuff coming up, promise! Just needed to get this off my chest today.

Anyway, I'm back. Maybe. Assuming I don't pull Baby out of day care with no back up plan, I hope to be back to blogging and visiting all of you again soon!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A break.

Whether she’ll admit it or not, every mother craves a break every once in a while.

An hour or two for herself. Sometimes a day or even a few days of peace and quiet.

A time to relax, rejuvenate, and come back to parenting energized and ready to go.

I had this great opportunity last week, as Baby spent a few days with her grandparents before our family got together to celebrate Easter.

It was bliss. I slept All. Night. Long. I slept until 8:00 a.m. It was going to be a great day.

Until.

Until I realized that I didn’t have an excuse to wear that super cute shirt with a stain on the front.

When Baby is with me, I can always say … oh she just did this after we left the house. There was no time to go home and change.

I also realized a few other ways that I benefit from having Baby attached to my hip (aside from the typical “my baby is cuteawesometheloveofmylife yadda yadda yadda” stuff).

For example, it’s perfectly normal to belt out lyrics from cartoons while your child is dancing along with you. But, it’s a little strange to do it in the presence of two adults.

Going to bed at 8 pm after playing with your kid aaaalllll day makes perfect sense. Doing it when you’ve basically just been sitting around on your keester is a little pathetic.

Staying in your pajamas until noon isn’t really a big deal if you’re just chasing your toddler around all morning. But when you actually have the use of BOTH hands and that elusive little thing called free time, there really is no excuse not to get dressed, do hair and make-up, and actually resemble a living, breathing human being.

It didn’t take long before I started to realize that the benefits of having my messy, energetic child in my daily life far outweigh any negativities (like, say, wearing eau de spit-up for the first 10 months of her life).

Then she came home.

And, inside of an hour: I had veggies spit in my face, I was peed on (diaper leakage), and I was attempting to apply make up with my left hand (I’m right handed) while holding Baby on my right side.

Ah, motherhood is bliss.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday: A birthday and an award!

I just received an official blog award! This is something that has not ever happened before, so I’m incredibly excited!



Thanks to Living at the Whitehead Zoo! How she has time to hand out awards is beyond me … she’s the mom of a teen, a tween, and a toddler. Whew! And I thought my life was difficult with just one kid!

Anyway, apparently there are ‘rules’ for this Versatile Blogger Award, and they include:
-Thanking the person who gave you the award (but, please don’t feel obligated – It’s Easter weekend. You’re busy moms. I get it!)
-Divulge 7 things about yourself
-Award 15 bloggers with this award (also, don’t feel obligated about this part either. It’s incredibly time consuming! But, fun ... so do it if you have the time!)

Sooooo, 7 things about me …
-Today is a Baby-free day in my house. She’s with her grandparents until tomorrow.
-So, I slept until 8 am today. Bliss.
-Tomorrow is Husband’s birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY SWEET HUSBAND! I LOVE YOU!!
-Today we plan to do absolutely nothing productive. We’re both off of work and without responsibility.
-As nice as a ‘day off’ is, I already miss my sweet little girl.
-In less than 2 days, I will be reunited with the love of my life: diet coke. Why I chose this year to start giving something up for Lent is beyond me. No mother should ever give up caffeine. Ever.
-I’m super excited that the photobucket issue has been resolved and I have my background back. Motherhood is still misspelled, but I’m thinking about leaving it that way!

Now, the bloggers I must award as ‘Versatile Bloggers’ …
1- Life of a New Mommy
2-2 Much Testosterone
3-Amber Page Writes
4-Day to Day
5-Holly’s House…not a perfect moms blog
6-Momma’s Pixie Dreams
7-Mommy’s Fabulous
8-Mommy Loves Stilettos
9-Mommy’s Sippy Cup
10-Single Mom in the South
11-Taming Insanity
12-The Thoughtful Parent
13-Work, Wife, Mom … Life!
14-I’m Living Proof that God Has a Sense of Humor
15-Life in the Pitts

I have NO idea if I did this correctly, but it was fun taking a closer look at some of my favorite blogs. I love them ALL, so this was hard to do! If you haven’t visited these blogs, take a look … they’re awesome!

Happy Friday! Happy Birthday to Husband! Happy Easter! Have a good one!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mother of Two

No, I’m not announcing a pregnancy.

I’m also lucky enough to be one of the few women who doesn’t count my husband as a second child.

We don’t have any pets either.

So how am I suddenly a mother of two?

It’s simple. My incredibly sweet, loving, adorable little girl has an alter ego.

A body-flailing, fit-throwing, screaming, pouting, not sweet or loving or adorable personality.

Sometimes we call this alter ego Tantrum Tallulah.

Sometimes I refer to it as the growth-spurt-teething-tantrum demon.

Whatever we call it … it is most definitely NOT my child.

Except that it is!

When Baby goes into that mode, I could swear that she is a completely different child.

I’ve heard of the terrible twos, but I didn’t realize they could start 8-9 months early. At least, I hope that’s what this is … I really hope it doesn’t get any worse!

Fortunately, even following a nuclear meltdown of epic proportions, it only seems to take a second or two for her to recover and return to my sweet little girl again. She can literally go from a tantrum to a snuggle in the same breath.

And, for that, I am incredibly grateful.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Poker face

We used to have lofty academic goals for Baby. We dreamed that one day she might attend Harvard or Oxford, because – after all – she is the smartest baby in the world. (What parent doesn’t think that, right?)

These last few days, however, Husband and I have begun to have new career aspirations for our child. All inspired completely by her own skill set and not by our hopes and dreams.

And because of our concerted efforts to base our plans for her on her own talents, we’ve come to the realization that she is most likely to grow up to be the world’s most successful poker player. Ever.

Or a scam artist.

Ivy league education be damned. This girl is sneaky, and she has the best poker face I’ve ever seen.

At a mere 16-months-old, yesterday she sat on the floor sobbing after she took a little tumble. She was rubbing her arm like she was really hurt. The second I got to her, she started to laugh maniacally and scooted away from me.

This morning, she had Husband jumping through hoops. She would cry while still in her crib (before 6 am, mind you). As soon as he entered the room …. maniacal laughter.

Let’s be clear. We’re pretty good at deciphering her cries, a fact that she must have figured out recently. Because we’re not just catering to her ‘let me throw a tantrum or try to get attention’ cries. She’s been using her best ‘I’m hurt and I really need you’ cries for these incidents.

Oh yes, she’s a trickster. And a pretty good one at that.

At least I don’t have to worry about paying for her college tuition anymore. Even if she chooses that path, I’m sure she’ll be able to scam her way to a full scholarship all by herself.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What the heck?

What's up with my blog and the lack of background design? Heck if I know ...

I'm planning to try to figure it out soon, but it will be a few days.

Hope everyone is doing well!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A biting matter.

Occasionally – yes, even in Texas – we get terrible, blustering winds. Quite literally, they are the worst biting, ice cold winds.

Occasionally – even with the best of friends, but generally more with acquaintances, we make comments in passing. These comments can be hurtful (whether or not they’re meant to be). Or comments are made toward us that catch us off guard. These comments can be quite biting.

But these are not the biting occasions that are currently on my mind.

Today I’m talking about biting in the most literal sense. You know – when your 16-month-old child takes a bite out of your leg. Or your shoulder.

And then does it again.

And again.

And then laughs when you tell her ‘no’ … laughs when you tell her that biting is bad … laughs when you attempt to implement a time out or any other form of punishment.

I swear, the first time she did it, I was 100% confident that it was a teething thing. I still am. Those first few times were in the midst of a sweet nuzzle or cuddle, and I know she was cutting four teeth at a time.

HOWEVER …

However, things have changed a bit since that first time.

For one, I now think she occasionally does it just to get a rise out of me. She loves my reaction and simply laughs at it.
Over the weekend, for the first time, I’m pretty sure she actually bit me in a moment of defiance. She wanted my phone, which I did not give to her, so she crawled over and bit my leg!

The third element here is that she has been bitten at day care. I think that this is where she learned the behavior in the first place.

And I’m at a complete loss. Reprimanding a 16-month-old seems to be utterly useless.

Although time outs seem to be the most effective mode of punishment with her, I am fairly certain that she has no clue what she’s done wrong once those 60-90 seconds are up.

I know consistency is key. And that, eventually, she will get it.

But, until that time comes … how do I manage to keep myself from becoming a replacement for Sophie the Giraffe?

More importantly, how do I prevent her from doing this to others?!

Fortunately, she seems to single me out. I ask her teachers every day if she has been biting, and – so far – she has not. I sooo don’t want her to be ‘that’ kid.

I know I have some reading and research to do, but I’d love to hear from y’all. I always find real life experiences much more useful than theoretical books.

Not that I won’t be reading up, but I typically have to explore several different approaches and then mix them into some formula that best fits our family.

And usually, after spending lots of time doing that, I realize that half a dozen moms right within my reach of communication could have just told me up front what I ended up figuring out … so have at it! Any suggestions? I’m all ears!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Men.

I’m excited, because we have some very dear friends coming to visit us this weekend. Their son is almost three and Baby just turned 16-months … and, because of one or the other being sick, we’ve rescheduled and rescheduled this visit soooo many times.

It looks like we are finally going to get together this weekend. It’s just been too long!

Last night, Husband was on the phone making the final arrangements with them. They were discussing what time they might arrive and other details of the weekend.

I had asked Husband to let them know about all the things we already have so they don’t have to pack everything – extra stroller, high chair, etc.

I had asked Husband to tell them to check the traffic website, because I recalled hearing about major closures this weekend (KK – are you reading this???).

I had asked Husband to discuss some things I thought would be helpful to our friends who are driving roughly three hours to see us.

But, what did they discuss instead?

Scotch.

Yes. Scotch. The various kinds that we have at our house. The kinds that they will bring with them. And, then they talked about beer and wine.

But never did I hear a mention of the pack-n-play or booster seat that we already have on hand. Never did I hear Husband mention any tidbit of info I had asked him to pass along.

Can the entire blogging world – even the entire ‘real’ world – hear my huge, deep *SIGH*???

Men.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Motherhood. Work. Guilt.

You might think I’m a total hypocrite. Especially after my recent rah-rah-rah post about leaving the guilt behind to go on vacation sans Baby.

But, I think this is different.

Leaving my child in the loving and capable hands of her grandparents while I vacation with Husband is a little different than leaving her at day care while I’m gone for … work.

It’s a different when I am away for work day after day after day. Night after night. Missing out on special times with my family.

It’s different when I come home only to be gone again just a few days later.

Oh, the guilt.

Baby has been clingy and fussy. And, I’m pretty sure it’s all my fault.

Her schedule these last few weeks has been far from familiar and consistent. I’d be fussy too if I didn’t know what was going to happen in my life from day to day.

And, yes. It’s definitely my fault. (Mine and those pesky teeth she’s cutting right now.)

Between my traveling for work and some very important personal obligations, we’ve had a few extremely busy weeks.

I keep telling myself that it will only be like this for a few more weeks. That consistency for Baby’s schedule (and mine) is on the very near horizon.

But in the meantime … it’s hard.

Yes, it’s true that I’m fulfilling my professional obligations. Meeting my commitments. Providing income and insurance for my family. And I know that will set a good example in the long run.

But, it’s still a choice – albeit an incredibly difficult choice – but one that I make every single day. To go to work. To pick up and leave. To spend nights away in a hotel. To keep Baby guessing as to what will happen next.

Of course, I tell her what will happen, but at 16-months-old, her typical response is usually … “cow?” Or, sometimes it’s, “car!” (Or cup. Or more. Or other similar words that essentially mean she has no clue what the heck I’m saying).

Still, I make the decision every day. I do literally have to talk myself into going to work every day. And it’s true that there’s typically about a 50/50 chance that my decision could go either way (don’t worry, Husband, I won’t do anything drastic!).

But, so far, I have been able to talk myself into it.

Why? Because, at least for now, this is how our family functions. And, really, truly, we are blessed. My job does require me to be away, but only for a few days at a time – not months or longer like some families must deal with. My job is trying, but the difficult times are temporary, with long periods of incredible flexibility. My job does not make every day of our lives ideal, but it does allow for some pretty ideal circumstances that would not be possible if I didn’t work.

As hard as it is on me, I know that I can handle it. I think Baby is pretty resilient too. It is a temporary situation, and she’s learning that Mama will always come back.

And I am learning that motherhood is full of difficult decisions – figuring out how to weigh, measure, and balance the various circumstances of our lives to provide the best possible lifestyle for our family.

It’s not always easy, but I am grateful for the fact that the choices are mine to make. The guilt certainly prevails from time to time. Okay, more often than not. But that’s okay too … maybe it’s just there to help keep the balance.

Today, I’m linking up with Shell’s Pour Your Heart Out!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Work ...

Sometimes balancing work and motherhood means blogging less.

But I hope to be blogging (and commenting) more regularly very soon.

I am really starting to miss it ... and y'all!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Honored Guest

I'm so excited to be guest posting over at Momma's Pixie Dreams today!

Check out what I have to say about baby registries ... and the items I should have included on that list, had I only known then what I know now.

And, please, weigh in! What would you have registered for if you had had even a single ounce of parenting experience at the time?

Seriously, that 'comprehensive' guide they hand you in the big box baby store makes no mention of registering for dishwashing soap. Or wine.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Vacation Recap: Guilty.

A couple of weeks ago, I admitted that I never actually planned to take that dream vacation that Husband so badly wanted. Although I consented to the trip, participated in booking all the details, and talked about what we would do when we arrived … I never actually thought I would go.

Then something crazy happened.

I went.

I boarded the plane. I didn’t ask the pilot to pull back to the gate. I didn’t hop right onto a return flight the second we landed in Jamaica. I didn’t ask to change our original return date to a day or two (or three) earlier.

And even though we never managed to get Skype to work, I was okay.

Even though we were only able to keep up with Baby via (very slow) emails, I was okay.

Even though I was sick the entire time, I was okay.

I was okay.

Actually, I was more than okay. I really and truly enjoyed this vacation. I enjoyed relaxing on a beach, sleeping through the night without a baby monitor attached to my ear, and having adult conversations with Husband. Not once did we discuss diaper contents. And, although there was a close call with a peacock (which are much scarier than they are pretty), we didn’t have any instance where food was spit into our faces or thrown onto the floor.

It was nice to reconnect with each other, and with ourselves. I spent hours in the afternoon reading, napping, and just recuperating. Husband, from the inception of this trip, had said that we were long overdue a few days off. He was able to say out loud, what it took me many months to even consider admitting to myself … that my difficult pregnancy had taken a toll, not only on my body and his sanity, but on our relationship.

And throwing a new baby and the new state of parenthood into the mix literally two seconds after I stopped feeling like death on a stick (note – hyperemisis literally disappears the moment you give birth), well … we were tired. We needed a vacation. I just couldn’t admit it. And, of course, I didn’t want to leave Baby for an entire week.

I know A LOT of moms out there in the same boat. It’s that damn crippling mama-guilt. And, I suppose we wouldn’t be good mothers without it, but I still think it’s highly unfair to have to endure this constant struggle: balancing emotions with logic … the guilt over leaving your child for more than 2 minutes with a reasonable need to recharge your own batteries.

Here’s the thing: Baby was FINE. Actually, she was more than fine. She spent the entire week at the equivalent of baby heaven/summer camp/Disney land. She spent the week being loved and spoiled by her grandparents. And she loved every single second of it. I have a feeling that she had more ice cream in those short 5 days than she’s had in her entire life.

Here’s the other thing: almost two months later, there are NO negative ramifications from us having been gone. When I think back, I realize … I would have felt just as guilty leaving her at day care every morning to go to work (guilt I feel every day anyway). So why not feel that guilt while sitting on a beach for a few days?

I did notice that her hair seemed to have grown while we were away and that she was much more confidently able to stand up when we returned. But, you know what? I’ve notice those things happen during the course of a single normal day too. She’ll look different when I pick her up in the afternoon than she did in the morning. If I was going to miss out on something, wasn’t it better to do it while spending time reconnecting with my husband than typing away on a keyboard at work?

The most important thing, though, was that Husband and I were able to recharge. Ourselves. Our marriage. Our family. Aren’t these the important keys to protecting Baby in the long run anyway?

As with my business trips, leaving is always the hardest part. Getting out the door, in the car, on the plane … always the most difficult aspect. That, and grappling with feeling so dang guilty about leaving. I’m not sure that part will ever go away.

And that’s okay. I can live with the guilt.

But I won’t let it control me.

Not all the time, anyway.

I'm linking up with Shell at Things I Can't Say today for Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday. Happy FIRST Birthday PYHO! It's been a great year ... here's to many more!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

PYHO ...

I know, I know … I promised you all part two of my vacation recap this week. But, after a weekend plagued by food poisoning or a stomach bug or whatever it was, I haven’t had an opportunity to get to that just yet. It’s coming, I promise!

For today, I simply have a very important, albeit unsolicited, public service announcement.

This week, a young mother in the town where I live, forgot to drop her baby off at day care. After nine hours in the car, on a day that reached almost 90 degrees, the infant died.

I read about this last night, while sitting in a hotel room many, many miles from my own child. I cannot tell you how, as a mother, this literally buckled me. It took nearly everything I had not to get in my car at 10 pm and make the 3 hour drive back home. If for nothing else, just to hear the sound of my own baby breathing in her sleep.

I’d love to offer an insightful perspective of a working/traveling mom who hears this kind of news while away from her own child. It happens to me quite a lot, actually … a school shooting, a plane crash. It all makes me want to flee right back to the comforts of my family.

But I simply cannot wrap my brain (or my heart) around this topic without literally losing it. Perhaps because it does hit too close to home. We’d all like to think that this could never happen to us. That we’d never let it happen. But, it is my opinion that that assumption in and of itself is quite possibly one of the first steps that can lead to tragedies like this.

My heart breaks for this family. For that poor baby. For anyone who has ever lost a child.

Another mom in my community shared some very helpful tips, that I thought I’d also post here.

1. Put a teddy bear in the car seat. Then when putting the child in the car seat, remove said teddy bear and put him in the front seat with you.

2. Put your briefcase, purse, cell phone, lunch or whatever in the back seat. Obviously something that you remember to take into work (or wherever) with you.

3. Ask your daycare to call you if your child doesn't show up within a short window of his or her normal arrival time.

One thing that I personally always do is immediately open the door to the back of my car when I park. This is most feasible when I pull into the garage at my house, but it works other places too.

If you have other suggestions, please share.

But, I am asking that all judgmental, hurtful, and mean spirited comments be omitted. This family, although anonymous to most of you, will already endure immeasurable pain and grief. There is no need to further tear them down with destructive comments.

Thanks. And, please, hug your babies a little more closely today. I have to wait until tomorrow before I see Baby again … I’m counting the seconds.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

This time last year ...

Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop asks: What were you blogging about last year at this time? What has changed?

To that, I respond: Baby, of course!

But, more specifically, I was blogging about being a new mom. About figuring things out. About learning my way as a working mom. About choosing my battles and finding my identity in this new life of motherhood.

I wrote a concession ‘speech’ to the formula we ultimately put Baby on after my attempts at nursing completely and utterly (pun intended) failed. Right now, we’re currently – finally – able to transition Baby off of formula to whole milk. Her weight issues have all but resolved themselves. Thank you, solid foods.

I blogged about poop. Yup, that’s right. I opened that subject up right on a public forum, something I never would have done in my pre-parenthood days. Today, I could probably mention diaper contents in the course of a professional conversation and not even realize it. Although I generally try not to go there at work …

And, I wrote about a conference I had to attend, the first trip (of many) that I would be required to spend nights away from home. I think I must have written a small (or maybe not so small) instruction manual for my mere 2 day absence. I also wrote my first survival post! Something I’m currently in the midst of doing again this year, but for a completely different reason (vacation, not work!)

A year in review: it would seem that life is both very similar and very different all at the same time. I think the major difference now is that I know I can do this! The motherhood thing. The working mom thing. It was all so daunting a year ago.

Of course, that could have had a little something to do with insane hormones and total sleep deprivation. But, even though I’m still learning as I go, it’s not a total guessing game anymore.

There are some things that just come naturally now. Like turning on the coffee maker while still asleep. Seamlessly slipping on a pair of flats instead of heels. And, you know … other important parenting skills, too.

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Incidentally, this week, I’m also celebrating my one year anniversary of publishing my Macaroni Kid newsletter! I think it’s pretty awesome that I’ve been able to successfully balance getting this thing together Every. Single. Week. for an entire year. I’ve really enjoyed doing this, and I’d love to tell you more about it if you’re interested in publishing for your own community. Just ask!

[And, I'm sorry .. .I can't get Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop button to work, so I'm just adding a live link.]

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vacay Recap: Part 1

Truth be told, I wanted no part of this dream vacation.

Pristine, white beaches. Warm, turquoise waters. All inclusive resort.

I wanted nothing to do with any of it. I wasn’t ungrateful. I just didn’t want to go. I couldn’t fathom choosing to leave Baby behind for an entire week. Especially not when I have to be gone so often for work. I couldn’t wrap my head around leaving by choice rather than obligation.

But I agreed anyway.

I agreed to take the trip. I made the decision almost a year in advance of our departure date. And, I can honestly say that somewhere in the back of my mind, I never really planned to go. I lived in a state of denial all summer, fall, and most of the holiday season.

But, I had agreed to take the trip with Husband.

Why?

Because Husband really wanted to go.

He wanted to go so badly that he did the research. He made the plans. He booked the trip. And, he paid for it all.

Something that hasn’t happened in all of our relationship. In all of our travels, I am usually the one who makes the arrangements. But, this go-round, Husband needed a break. He needed that vacation.

And, when you have a husband like mine – one who does more than his fair share, who rarely complains, who you don’t actually count as an extra child – you want to do what you can to make him happy.

Husband is wonderful. He is not your average husband. He goes above and beyond on a regular basis. And he rarely asks for anything in return.

But after nine hellacious months of pregnancy and almost 15 months into Baby’s short life, Husband was tired. He wanted a break. A little getaway. Six days and five nights on a Jamaican beach.

Honestly, I was tired too. If I was honest with myself, I could have used the break, too. The last couple of years had been trying for me, as well.

But ... I. Did. Not. Want. To. Go.

Get on a plane? Fly away from my child? By choice? Nope.

Truth be told, I spent a solid nine months prior to our vacation pretending that I wasn’t even going to Jamaica. We had the plane tickets, and the resort was booked. But I would deflect the conversation anytime Husband would bring up the subject. Sometimes I would play along, but I almost always mentioned some caveat that ended with a comment like … “IF I even get on a plane.”

Flash forward to our day of departure. I’m putting one foot in front of the other. Taking baby steps, if you will. Telling myself that I don’t have to get on the plane. I just have to pack my bag. Put the bag in the car. Drive to the airport. Baby steps.

All the while, I’m an emotional wreck on the inside. Add to it an inexplicably, inconsolably screaming child.

I'm researching our cancellation policy a mere 12 hours before our scheduled flight. I am NOT going on this trip.

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Tune in next week to find out how and why I actually did get on the plane. How I not only left Baby, but left her while she was sick. And how … at the end of the day, at the end of the week, everything actually ended up being just fine.

Today, I’m linking up with Shell at Things I Can't Say for Pour Your Heart Out Wednesday, something I haven’t done in quite a while. It’s nice to be back!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

CSN Stores Review

It seems that CSN Stores have been all over the blogosphere lately, and I’m very excited to tell y’all that they have not given up on me! Although they approached me back in October, and I have procrastinated and procrastinated, they’re still on board!

In case you haven’t heard of them, you should know that they’re an amazing, comprehensive network of over 200 online stores. They offer everything from kid/baby/family-type products that are always on my mind to things like video games and TVs and LCD TV stands, which are always on Husband’s mind!

I’ll be doing a product review for CSN Stores shortly, so stay tuned!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mama Meltdown

No, I did not shed a single tear.

I didn’t.

Not in public.

At least, not on the outside.

On the inside, however, this mama was a melting down mess.

Why?

Because my “baby” is growing up.

Yes, I realize that everyone else has known this all along. I am also willing to admit to some
deliberate denial on my part. She’s my baby after all.

But this week, Baby needed some new clothes. It’s February in Texas, which means that summer is just weeks away. Baby needed some non-winter clothes to handle our 80-degree afternoon temperatures.

So, I made my way to the usual spot in my usual store. The same spot that I’ve been shopping for over a year. There were some really cute items. I found a few that I wanted to get and started searching for the right size.

Gasp.

The sizes stopped before I got to one that would be big enough.

Gasp. Again.

Okay, and maybe again and again.

I had to move over to the next section of the store. The one for … older kids.

No, I didn’t melt down in public.

At least not so anyone could see.

But on the inside, I was definitely freaking out a little.

Okay, a lot.

Fortunately, a little retail therapy helped me find some composure.

And a few cute outfits for my sweet BABY.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A letter

Dear God,

Listen, you know I’m one of your biggest fans. And, I do my best not to question your ways. In fact, although I’m often curious, I absolutely have complete faith in all that you do.

But here’s the thing.

And I know I’m no expert.

But.

But, maybe … just maybe … it might be beneficial to program babies for holidays and the occasional weekend? Let them know they don't have to be up at the crack of dawn (or earlier)?

Just a thought.

I’d be grateful if you’d consider it.

Thanks!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Uh-oh.

Baby’s Rule: When you accidentally drop/spill something, the appropriate response is … uh-oh. Similarly, when you intentionally drop/spill/throw something, the appropriate response is also … uh-oh.

For example, when Baby is too wobbly to walk while holding the 4 items in her hands that she insists on carrying and subsequently falls, dropping everything to the ground, she says … uh-oh.

Or, when she tosses bath toys over the side of the tub, she says … uh-oh!

Or, when she holds her (recently and defiantly removed) bib or bites of unwanted food over the side of her high chair tray, drops them to the ground, and giggles maniacally, she also says … uh-oh.

To that end, tonight this mama is subscribing to Baby’s Rule. By that I mean, every time I spill wine down my throat, I say … uh-oh.

Cheers!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sweet, screaming baby

2:21 am - Baby stirs

2:23 am – Baby launches into an all out wail

2:24 am – Husband has a bottle for her, and I’m changing her diaper

2:27 am – Baby is back down, as per our usual clockwork.

2:28 am – Baby launches into an all out wail

We repeat this cycle for roughly 90 minutes.

5:40 am – I’m up and out the door for an early flight to West Texas for work.

Thank God for strong coffee and a good husband. Or is it … a strong husband and good coffee?

Either way, I’m lucky enough to have all of these. As well as a beautiful baby girl who woke up smiling and happy. And completely oblivious to her parents’ exhaustion.

I’m thinking … maybe she was just reeeeallly excited for today. So, when she woke up in the middle of the night, she just had to wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day.

But if that’s the case, I’m gonna have to get that girl a blog of her own. Enough of this trying to yell messages clear across Texas to her grandparents and other family members. Heck, it’s entirely possible that my uncle who lives in Japan might have heard her.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the real world.