Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Summer is here!  For me, that means some degree of bliss in not needing to stick with a strict bedtime or rush to do homework after work.  It means extra time to hang with the kids in the evenings. However, it also means a certain level of frustration at the loss of personal / husband / tv time in the evening and less sleep. :)  Everything has tradeoffs.

The kids are home during the summer with a family member.  As of now, they are all playing nicely together and generally getting along except for some one-off throwdowns.  Since we are into July and summer reading has barely begun in my house (oops), I decided that they need some structure. They now must earn electronics time.

I got the idea from another online mom, without a blog and I thought others might benefit.

Before any electronics, the kids must:

1.  Get Dressed

2.  Eat Breakfast

3.  Brush Teeth

4.  Do a chore

5.  Read for 20 minutes

6.  Practice math for 10 minutes

7.  Write  (3 year old can doodle, 5 year old practice his name and address,  older children paragraphs)

8.  Play outside for 30 minutes.  In case of rain, play inside.

9.  Get active for 30 minutes

10. Tell a brother or sister something you like about them.  It must be a different person than yesterday.

This week is the first week.  So far, a decent amount of grumping from the older two.  Hopefully they get used to it (grin and bear it?) soon!   I personally am not worrying much.  It's valuable stuff! They only need to do this during weekdays, only for the month of July! It's a light list compared to others. They are still getting plenty of summer vacation! :) 

I have tossed out an extra incentive for each full week they complete the list.  Probably I'm being soft? But... and this is the key.... these extra fun things are all things I planned to do anyway.  Sometimes it's really fun to be the mom! ;)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Things I've learned from my children

1.  I say, "Yup" too much.  (repeated by my toddler in much cuter fashion)
2.  My husband says "damn" and "crap" too much.
3.  If you tell a child to get in their damn bed, they will reply that they ARE IN THEIR DAMN BED.
4.  It is very hard to keep a straight face in the face of all of the above.
5. "You won't get so fat if you just stop eating SO MUCH"  (Advice from my then 5 year old... I was pregnant)
6.  It is possible to skate on the kitchen floor if you toss a bunch of flour on there.
7.  Blackberry stains are really hard to get off of the ceiling (or anything else)
8.  Potty training is a marathon not a sprint
9.  It's hard to be 3 years old.  Or 7. Or 9... but 4 seems like a great year.
10.  A certain religious figure, who rose from the dead and ascended into heaven on the 3rd day... might also qualify as a zombie. Technically.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

An interesting article

A great perspective. I think I've almost reached the same conclusion. Yet I still find myself trying to do it all, 90% of the time.  And then deciding that I can't do it all 80% of the time.  And achieving perfect balance 10% of the time.  And giving up completely 10% of the time...   Normal stuff I think.

  I am comfortable with my place today.  I work. I volunteer. I carve out time with my kids and for my kids.  Sure, I don't see what my daughter wears to school because they are just waking up as I leave... And sure, I'm not working as many hours as I could to be move up at work faster.  But this is a balance that is working for me.  I'm there for my kids a whole lot.  A lot more than I could have been in a prior job that was not flexible and had no work from home capability. 
Balance is all you can do :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tips and Timesavers

In 2013, I'm finally embracing the power of saying NO. I admit, I'm an overachiever. I like to volunteer and I have trouble admitting that I can't do it all. But the bottom line is, I can't do it all! So lately I've been prioritizing based on HAVE TO, NEED TO, and LIKE TO classifications. Work can fall into all three, but I tent to put individual tasks into these categories to help me stay organized. On the home front, the prioritization is key. I hold these truths to be self evident:

 1. What gets attended to, gets done
2. Do it now, lest you forget later
3. Embrace the chaos
4. Do, or do not. There is no try. :)
5. Plan ahead
6. Do what has to be done.
7. Let go of the rest.

In that frame of mind, there are tips and timesavers that can help you succeed.
Personally, I use a day planner type calendar. And I write down EVERYTHING. Ok - I try to at least. I'm not actually anal retentive. At least, I don't think so. I'm just a busy mom who has too much going on to try to remember everything. I need to write it down. I tell my husband, write it down or it didn't happen. ;)

It's kind of like my method of housekeeping. I never used to worry much about putting things back immediately. Now? My counter is cluttered 90% of the time. I HAVE to put things where they belong quickly. At least the important things! Otherwise it will get lost in the paper mountain, never to be found again...

* I use a large bulletin board to pin important paperwork like school schedules, permission slips, song lyrics for a concert, tickets to the circus etc.

* I use highlighters to bring out doctors appointments in one color, important meetings in another color, etc in my day planner and on the family calendar.

* I found the wonderful idea on pinterest to hang clothesline across the wall and use clothespins to hold artwork. I have two of these going. I have a self generated rule that I must take down something when I put something else up. And then either throw away or file.

* Kids papers or pictures that I save go into a hanging folder of my "KIDS, to be filed" initially and later to their individual plastic totes (large size) that I keep in the basement. I wish I could say that I have neat and organized folders by grade or age? But in my house, it's a bunch of momentos piled in there (generally in time order) for the kids or me to explore later. It works for me.

* Homework papers go in another hanging file for each child. I need to do better about sorting out old papers we don't need anymore, but at least we know where homework is!

* Each child has a basket / bin that they keep some toys and books in, for the main family room. They have a toy space elsewhere as well but this is an attempt to keep them neat in the main area.

* As I said in a prior post or two, I use my crockpot a lot. It's a relief to have a meal ready when I get home.

* As I said before as well, I try to keep veggies chopped and frozen for quick inclusion in meals (ie green peppers, diced onion, sliced carrots etc).

* I try to meal plan weekly and make grocery lists at the same time. When time is short, this item slips, as it has been lately. I keep frozen meatballs and jarred sauce, fish sticks, and the whole grain chicken strips on hand for quick meals on nights that I haven't planned.

* The kids do some chores like feed the dogs, set the table, clear the table, empty the dishwasher. We have a chore chart to show who's turn it is, which cuts back on fights. This frees up my time to do other things that need to be done.

* My toddler loves to sweep the floor. I give her the swiffer type sweeper and let her loose. This keeps her from clinging to me while I'm making dinner. And usually she picks up some dog hair at least!

* If the swiffer doesn't work, I like to put her in her high chair with some measuring cups and either frozen peas or cheerios (or both) to pour into the cups, stir and snack on. It works to occupy her for a while :)

* I set my 4 year old to work "washing" dishes. He loves it, it occupies him, AND it usually saves me time washing later.

* I use a rice cooker! I LOVE that thing - set the rice and hit the timer and forget about it. Easy cleanup.

* I have personal email on my phone. I know this isn't for everyone, but there is NO way I'd be able to handle what I do, if I was needing to login to my home computer every night. It just wouldn't happen. This way I can check in periodically during my day and respond to teachers, coaches, PTA etc.

There are lots of areas that could use improvement and I continue to learn every day. But these are a few items I think I do well. :) Leave me your tips and strategies!

Friday, January 4, 2013

I know I've been gone...

I know I haven't been posting and I have to apologize to my few followers (thanks by the way) for my lapse.  It all boils down to me not understanding or having the time to try to understand how this new version of blogger works! haha.  Basically my old version of Internet Explorer is causing trouble. And my Mac version of Safari wasn't doing very well either.   So needless to say, I've been gone. 
However, in light of the end of a year of challenges and the opportunities in front of us for 2013, I felt a post was necessary.  Please forgive me if my formatting and such is completely out of whack. Forgive the utter stream of consciousness that this post is going to follow.  I promise and resolve to figure this out sometime in the next 3 months. Along with lose weight, eat healthy, exercise, be nicer to my kids and husband, and generally kick butt at work ;).
I've never really experienced a true attitude problem.  Of course, I have atittude challenges during a certain time of the month but I've grown accustomed to that and am self-aware.  2012 brought me attitude troubles almost every day of the month.  I admit I felt beat down and broken. I feared I'd never climb out of the dark hole. 
I realize now that I was suffering from post partum depression, as well as dealing with some bad luck health wise and relationship wise. I didn't recognize myself!  Angry, mean, negative, sad, lacking self-esteem! Who is this person?  The depression put pressure on all areas of my life.  Work was a struggle for me to care enough to get done what had to be done (which I did get done, but not easily).  My husband didn't recognize me either and so we fought a lot more than ever.  My children had to deal with a mom who was no fun and seemed to get frustrated far too easily.  My health was possibly a reflection of my attitude but I spent a solid 2 months in the spring dealing with repeat sinus infections and the awful pain of plueresy.... which I was sure meant I was dying of some strange and horrible disease. Or had broken a rib. Something was NOT right with my lungs.
Finally my husband and I took our long awaited anniversary trip to Europe.  I went with 4 prescription drugs for all my issues, including the depression.  I came home with one.  The wonder and joy of that trip and the reconnection with my husband served me well.  I came home rested and whole.
It hasn't been all roses since that time. The second half of the year has been a struggle as well, with health issues that continue to pile up.  I went on a weight loss journey and started to exercise.  The stress of the holiday season with extra busy work time made me reverse direction and gain back a good bit of weight.
I feared that all of these troubles and my attitude issues (my complete inability to drag myself back into the light of positive thinking that I've had for my entire life before this)... were just a lead up to the end of the world.  In some ways, the apolocalypse would be a relief.  If we all died, we'd be in that better place with no more worldly concerns.  But it was the possibility of living in the dark that was concerning.
The horror and tragedy of the Sandy Hook shootings hit me very hard. I still cannot imagine a world or a mind that would think it's ok to kill or hurt innocent children.  I cried.  I hugged my kids tighter. I still tear up when I think about it. And I'm angry.  I know logicially that there's no value in my anger.  This was the act of a person who was mentally ill and not right.  Logically I know that there are few people who would ever do anything this awful.  But in my heart, I hurt and I'm angry and I want someone to undo it. Or since it can't be undone, I want someone to guarantee it will never happen again.
No one can make guarantees. But we need to make changes to ensure that mental illness is properly diagnosed and treated and recognized AS an illness.  We need to change the laws so that background checks include some kind of flag for mental instability, or a personality quiz to pick up on threat type mindsets.  These are done for employment, why not gun ownership?  There should be education for gun owners on care and storage of their weapons so that a child cannot make a horrible decision in the heat of the moment. There needs to be serious (and God willing, not political) discussion on the best way to execute these kinds of safeguards while still maintaining the freedoms we are accustomed to and require.  I am not willing to sacrifice my right to bear arms and I for damn sure want to be able to defend my home if some crazy person tries to hurt my children.  There must be a balance between these two goals.  There must be a REAL SOLUTION that will actually help the PROBLEM and not just make a good soundbite.  I'm sure that I haven't considered all the angles yet but I think we can all agree that some change is warranted and a discussion must be started.
Coming back off my soapbox, 2013 is looking bright.  We didn't all end on December 21st or at the end of 2012.  We've made it to 2013!!! Hurray!  This means that we can start planning for tomorrow, and looking to our future. We can do anything in 2013. It all starts with our good intentions and us doing something to move forward.  I spent 2012 afraid to step for fear of being wrong or too sad to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 2013 is going to be a year of running forward to meet my goals and get into the light.  I refuse to let the negative attitude return.  There will be challenges and things won't always go the way I want. But I will meet 2013 with hope and a smile and know that it's all possible. I choose happy.  I hope you do too.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You know you're a working mom...

1. When you can power clean your house in 2-3 hours on a weekend (or evening or holiday) because you can't waste more time that that.
 2. When your crockpot is your best friend.
 3. When you have to hide (and sneak to the bathroom!) to actually get work done at home, so the kids believe you've gone to work and will leave you alone.
 4. When you typically spend at least a few minutes of your lunch break planning something else (meal plan, grocery list, birthday party, calendar etc).
 5. When you only have one speed, and that speed is RUSH.
 6. When you can dry your hair, entertain your baby, and eat breakfast all at the same time.
 7. When you reach into your purse for a pen during a meeting and pull out a toy car, play phone, golf ball (!)...
 8. When Your dogs go crazy as soon as you put on your sneakers because it MUST mean they are going for a walk. Mom doesn't wear sneakers for anything else. ;)
 9. When you keep your dress shoes at work (to save your feet) and thus have nothing appropriate to wear for special occasions on the weekend.
 10. When your most common phrase to the doctor's office is, "Do you have anything early in the morning or late in the evening?"
 11. When a good part of your life revolves around keeping your calendar updated and accurate, so that you can fit everything in.
 12. When your able to successfully ask sacrifices of your husband just by uttering the phrase, "I WORK TOO!"
 13. When you find it perfectly natural to be cleaning breast pump parts in the ladies restroom, using hand soap and paper towels.
 14. When you store your breast milk in the public refrigerator.
 15. When you have at least once, had to have an awkward conversation with your (male) boss about your time spent pumping.
 16. When you've taken a conference call, in the mothers room, WHILE pumping.
 17. When you won't even entertain the idea of working for a company that doesn't have flexible work options.
 18. When you've done work from home on many occasions after the kids are in bed or before they wake up, so you can "do it all"
 19. When YOU are the go-to person in the office anyone who needs a bandaid, tylenol, antacid, feminine product, toy car, golf ball etc
 20. When you pretty much are never expected to drive your coworkers to lunch, because your car has car seats, sticky seat belts, random goldfish, crayons and toys all over.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Homemade Vegetable Soup

I watched a random Rachel Ray episode in late fall or early winter, that was directions for making a spur of the moment vegetable soup with whatever veggies you have on hand. The premise of this struck me - I can experiment with making soups! I kind of enjoy having recipes. It's a predictable outcome if you follow directions :) But I have tried the soup idea a few times and I always enjoy my result so I think I'll share with you. Maybe you will feel inspired to give it a shot and adjust it to your tastes. I begin with a little oil in the bottom of my heavy soup pan. I heat the oil over medium heat. Add 2-3 cloves of garlic (I love garlic but not everyone does so if you don't maybe stay on the lower end of this one). a few shakes of crushed red pepper (to give it a little zing and clear out your nose if you have a cold) Heat for a few minutes until the garlic "speaks" in the oil (sizzles) Add a chopped onion and cook until onion becomes translucent. From here - it's really your own tastes. Personally I like: A can of diced tomatoes sliced and peeled carrots (about 2) sliced celery (about 2 stalks) about 2 cups of chicken broth or more to your taste a few shakes of dried basil a shake of black pepper I let this simmer for about 10-15 minutes on medium-low. Then I add: sliced and peeled zucchini (1 big or two smaller) maybe some frozen or canned green beans or any other veggies you like :) Cook for another 5-10 minutes, taste testing and adjusting the flavors as needed. Yesterday I made the above soup and cooked some small frozen tortellini in there with the zucchini step. The tortellini adds something special and makes this a stand-alone meal. I also cheated yesterday and used the canned carrots to speed up the whole process. It still tastes good to me! You can add white beans, Broccoli, cauliflower or any other veggies you like. To make this all vegetarian, you could use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth. Take the plunge and experiment! It's worth it to have a homemade veggie soup. Enjoy