Friday, September 19, 2008

MomCheck Blog Goes On Hiatus

There comes a time in all moms' lives that we must re-prioritize. This is also true of entrepreneurs launching a company. Combine the two, as we are doing here at MomCheck, and, sometimes feels like we must reprioritize on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis.

We are getting ready to launch subscription service on MomCheck, which means we are finally entering the stage we've wanted to be at for a year now. It is very, very exciting (and just a teensy bit scary). Communicating on a personal level through this blog has been something we've always wanted to have as a component to our company. And we figured, there are four of us, surely we can manage! We've done okay, but we haven't done stellar, like we intended. And now, the launching of the subscriptions, coupled with 2 of us being currently pregnant...we're re-prioritizing again, and the MomCheck Blog has not made the cut.

We will be back, though! With new stories to tell! Should you find your way to our blog here, and find yourself disappointed we're on a break and you are filled with the urge to continue this blog while we're on hiatus - email us at - we'd love nothing more than to find a few moms who'd like to contribute.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Crawling and cruising and pulling up, oh my!

I knew this time was coming. I've been watching Emily get up on all fours for a few weeks now, so I figured crawling was getting close. And while I eagerly anticipated it in some ways (they seem so much happier when they're mobile), it's also scary in others. What toys are choking hazards? What have we left within reach of an infant that maybe shouldn't be? We never un-babyproofed anything, but it seems like most of the second children I know are much more mischievous than the first, so I fear the babyproofing we did for Megan won't cut it this time around.

Anyway, last week, Emily got up on all fours, then gingerly moved one knee forward, and then another. And then she came crashing down on her belly. And then she got up for more. 3 days later, I was sitting on the couch, and she crawled over to me and pulled herself up on the couch so she was standing. And yesterday, she pulled herself up on my sister's fireplace (covered in fireplace bumpers, thank goodness!), and shuffled herself over a few feet to get to a blue plastic pitcher that was on the fireplace. That's right, she cruised. Cruised, people! At 8 months. I know, it's far from unheard of. It's probably right on track. But, since my girls' birthdays are 9 days apart, it's easy for me to compare them, and I know for a fact that Megan didn't do this until a good 6 weeks from now, so I wasn't exactly prepared. I'm just hoping I can count on a few months of crawling before I have to think about walking. Ay yi yi!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

One of my favorite milestones.

Emily is sitting up unassisted now. I can put her in a sitting position, and unless she wants to fall over, she doesn't. I love it. Love it! It's really one of my favorite milestones ever. It's not that it gives her any independence, really, but it allows her to sit up with us and see the world, and I think to feel like she's more a part of what's going on. I mean, it's got to be hard just laying there all of the time. Sure, it sounds nice for a few hours, but for weeks on end? No thanks! So, she's sitting, and I'm thrilled. She's such a happy kid, and this just seems to make her happier.

I have to be honest. I love my kids, and I really like kids in general, but I prefer them to be a little older. Babies are tough for me. I couldn't love Emily more, but I do sort of look forward to her being able to walk and talk like Megan can now. It's just so fun. But, I'm doing my best to really savor this time with Emily, this babyness, because I know I'll never have it again (we're done having kids). That said, I'm finding it tough to witness some of these milestones. I'm so glad she's sitting up - that milestone was fine. But you know what got me? When she outgrew the swing. The swing that both of my girls used from the time they were itty bitty newborns. That comfy, cozy, wonderful, couldn't-have-lived-without-it Pappasan swing. I just sold it, and while it's nice to reclaim the space it took, I'm also sad to see it go. It's one of the first big baby things she's outgrown, and it's just sad to think that my baby isn't as much of a baby as she used to be. It's exciting, sure, but it's sad, too.

Motherhood. It's such a mixed bag of emotions!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Fear of the Public Toilet

Ah, the joys of potty training. Megan wasn’t the youngest child to potty train. We tried when she was about 29 months, and she got so upset about accidents, it was clearly not in our best interest to keep up with her. We tried again at 31 months, at daycare’s request, but after a bad accident there, she wasn’t eager to keep going. Finally, at 33 months, she turned a corner. I sent her to daycare in underwear at their request, and she held it all day. 9 hours. That’s clearly not a good thing, so as soon as we got home, I sat with her until she went. And when she went, boy was she excited! Ever since, she’s been potty trained, and has had just a few accidents in several months. Poop training is an entirely different story altogether, but the good news is, she waits to go until bedtime when she’s wearing a pull-up, thus saving Mommy and Daddy from ever having to deal with the vileness that is poop in underwear.

Obviously, she can hold it for awhile. Which is nice for the most part, but not so much when she holds it because she refuses to go in a public toilet. I would take her in any restroom outside of home, daycare, or her grandparents’ house, and she’d refuse to go, scrunching her face into this awfully sad look that said, “I just can’t, Mommy! Public toilets are bad!” But, we were about to go on vacation. An 8-hour plane ride to Hawaii, followed by 10 days there, and she sure as heck couldn’t hold it for 10 days. I asked her pediatrician if there was anything I could do to help her along, and in all of his helpfulness, he said, “Some people just don’t like public toilets, so I have no suggestions.” Gee, thanks. So, we bribed Megan to use public restrooms. We told her she couldn’t go to Hawaii if she wouldn’t use a public restroom. Finally, she used it. That’s not to say she’s happy about public restrooms, but I can get her to use one when it’s a necessity.

Now, I’m thankful that she’s not all that excited about public restrooms, because it means I don’t have to make a mad dash for them at the grocery store or while shopping, and I haven’t had to see the most unsavory of them and try to convince my child it’s okay to use them. But, it was a bit of a problem on the airplane. Have you seen the cleanliness studies on airplane bathrooms? Not pretty. And I don’t care how much of that blue water you suck down an airplane toilet – it’s still a dirty, dirty place. So trying to convince my child otherwise was less than simple. I’m sure it would have been fun to watch us squeeze in there, though. Me in my pregnant glory, doing my best to wipe every surface down with an antibacterial wipe, all while trying to comfort a nervous toddler and convince her that going potty in this terrible place was a good idea. And once I did get her to go, washing her hands and shoving her out of the bathroom as quickly as possible to try to avoid her coming into contact with any more of those nasty germs than necessary, all while doing my best to flush the toilet quietly so it didn’t scare the crap out of her. Because come on, that toilet IS scary!

But we survived. It’s still a battle to use most public restrooms, but at least we’ve made progress. I think my child is just too clean for bathrooms used by so many other people!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Supermom's Secret

Psst. I know the secret to being a Supermom. I do, really. I’m going to let you in on it, too. But first you must be patient and listen to the story of how I got it. (Well, I couldn’t just tell you – that ruins the fun.) The other day I was lurking on a message board (I always lurk it seems, never posting. Plus I love to use the word lurk and lurking on message boards is one of the only times the word doesn’t have really bad connotations to it) and I came across a post by a woman who was at her wit’s end with the lack of support she gets from her husband around the house. She stated she works 40+ hours then has to come home to do all cooking, cleaning, etc. and the only time her hubby helps is when she berates him. She was looking for advice on how to change the pattern. There were lots of replies. And good advice, too, like have a sit down discussion about the issue, praise him when he does small things (on the pretense he’ll do more to get more praise), divvy up the chores and post it somewhere, etc.

All these are truly good suggestions and I’m sure they work for many out there. But not for me. As I read through all the answers, I kept thinking, “What if her husband is a clone of mine? What then? Because she’s out of luck with those suggestions!” I, too, am out of the house for 40+ hours per week, and my husband also is not the greatest on the domestic front. He simply doesn’t care. Doesn’t care if he gets all his clean clothes out of the laundry basket, doesn't care if every meal is fast food. Doesn't care if he has to squash trash into an overflowing can. I’ve tried everything, too. All the advice listed above plus more. I even put signs on the appliances. Our steam cleaner has a sign that says, “Hi! I work hard to keep your carpets clean, but please empty me! I stink!” (It still stinks, but now my husband calls the cleaner Betty.)

At one point I convinced him that we should “trade” dinner nights. We didn’t have to cook, necessarily, but just be responsible for the whole dinner experience. What to eat, where, etc. I shined on my first night, giving him a home-cooked lasagna and chocolate cream pie for dessert. (Notice I didn’t say homemade, just home-cooked. My little mini Supermom secret.) On his first night here’s what I got for dinner: A hot dog, a bag of chips, and a fountain drink all consumed sitting on the tailgate of his truck in the parking lot of 7-Eleven. Dessert was anything I wanted from the candy aisle. No joke! Now, to be honest, he did do it to prove how ridiculous he thought the whole thing was, but still. Still! 7-Eleven! You know what? He was okay with it. Let me repeat that. He was okay with it. It was me – all me – with the problem, not him. I need to point out that this occurred prior to having children, lest any of you think I would have allowed this experiment with my own flesh and blood – unless you’ve fed your kids similar meals because it was easy and you knew it would be a big hit, which in that case, maybe it’s happened a few times since then, too.

So anyway, it still comes down to this: I have a burning desire to be seen as Supermom. I must be able to work outside the house in non-wrinkled, non-stained clothing, serve hot, nutritious meals that I prepare, and have a house that doesn’t make me pretend I’m not home when I hear the doorbell. The problem is, I don’t know how to do this. I try, I really do, but I feel like a hamster on a wheel. One day, I finally break down and I ask my mother how she did it. How did she raise four children practically by herself with only two hands? Did little fairies come in at night and help her? She just looks at me blankly and says, “I don’t know. I just did it.” That can’t be true. I think she’s holding out on me. I press her. She denies it. I cry. She pushes cookies. I feel better (and fatter). And she tells me the truth. She says, “Honey, the trick is to only care about some of the stuff.” Huh? That’s the secret? Well that’s just dumb. That would make me just like my husband. That would mean…..aha! That IS the trick, isn’t it? Just decide what’s more important!

Gee. Maybe my husband’s been right all along. He decided that the house wasn’t important to him, and that’s just the end of it. Maybe it shouldn’t be that important to me, either. Well, okay, maybe a little important, but maybe not THAT important? Like, dishes are important, as is cleaning the bathroom (yuck). But maybe having perfectly folded towels isn’t as important as, say, ironing my shirts. I don’t have to do both. It’s okay to just do one.

So that’s it, then. The Supermom’s Secret, not to be confused with Victoria’s Secret, which is another article altogether. Decide what’s most important and forget the rest. Is this really all there is to it? It sounds simple enough. I’m sharing the secret with you, though, because I do think this is the answer. We spend our days convinced all other moms are doing it better than we are, but they’re not, are they? The ones who project that image aren’t really that perfect in all areas. They’re just “super” in the areas that are important to them, and they choose not to care as much about the other areas. Could it be that I can finally call myself a Supermom? Can I do this? Can I really live this way? I don’t know. I’m going to have to give it a try. I’m going to have to ask my husband what he thinks over dinner tonight. And I’ll treat him to dessert, too. Anything from the candy aisle.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Starting Preschool

Last February, I started looking at preschools for Megan. I hadn't really planned to so early, but I started seeing all kinds of advertisements for them, so I figured I'd better get on it. I found a few I liked, and decided on one. It's just down the street, comes recommended by my neighbor, and had all of the good stuff I wanted. Megan will be going two days a week, from 9:30am to 2:30pm.

It's funny. Megan went to daycare 3 days a week from 8:30 to 5 for two and a half years, and that wasn't so tough. I guess it's because I was at work all day. But now, I find myself a little sad that she'll be gone for 5 hours two days a week. I've gotten so accustomed to being home with her. She's so much fun right now. She asks a million questions, and while I tire of them somewhere around question #10,452, it's also really fun to talk with her, and to get to have conversations with my own child. The other night, we were out shopping, and I mentioned that the moon was full. She said, "what's it full of?" It was such a sweet question from a 3 year-old - asked so honestly and innocently.

So, in less than two weeks, my firstborn will be leaving me. My house will feel quiet (well, as quiet as it can feel with an infant!), because no one will be talking my ear off. And while I admit to napping most afternoons when the girls do, Emily will still be taking a morning nap for at least the next few months, leaving me some time in the morning all by myself. I don't think I can swing two naps a day. Does that mean I'm going to get to clean my house during the daylight instead of at night, when my kids are asleep? That could be really nice. But just you watch me goof around on the computer!

But seriously. The quietness. My baby girl, leaving me for a few hours, going to grown-up preschool. They really do grow up so fast. She's not a toddler at all anymore. She's a big girl, full of life, full of questions, full of fun. And I just know that in the blink of an eye, she'll be in elementary school, and then high school, and then she'll leave me for college. And then the tears will really flow.

Some Cooking Tips

After a recent cooking session with a friend, I realized other people might like some cooking tips. Because really, aren’t we all busy enough? I used to spend an hour in the kitchen on each meal, but once my daughter arrived, that went straight out the door! Prep time has to be at a minimum. I don’t care if something has to cook for 6 hours, but I can’t spend an hour chopping, sautéing and straining. My hands-on time is now for my kids, not my food. So, I’ll now share some of my favorite tips.

First, if something can be doubled easily, double it and freeze some for later. If a recipe sounds huge, such as a recipe for soup, make the whole thing and freeze it. There’s really very little that doesn’t freeze well – creams and uncooked potatoes, to name two – so as long as it’s not a cream-based soup, it will freeze just fine. So, I make a huge pot of chili, then portion it into sizes we’ll eat at once and use my handy vacuum sealer (LOVE that, by the way) so we can eat it later.

Second, make big batches of ingredients you can use in other things. Don’t just make enough mashed potatoes for dinner tonight – make a triple batch, then freeze the extra. When you want to make a shepherd’s pie, or just want a side dish, just grab them out of the freezer to skip half an hour of prep time. And never make just one batch of brown rice – make a huge pot. If it’s going to take an hour to took, you may as well spend one hour cooking 6 family-sized portions instead of just one. Keep it vacuum sealed in the freezer and you always have a quick side.

My very favorite tip? Every time chicken breasts are on sale, buy them in the giant value pack. Throw them in your crockpot with one can of chicken broth and enough water to cover, then cook them on low for 8 hours or high for 4. When they’re cooked, they’ll fall apart, so shred them and freeze them in 1- and 2-cup portions. Next time you want to make any sort of chicken casserole, soup, salad or pasta, you’ve saved yourself 30 minutes of cook time. Sure, it takes a little extra time to package all of that up one night, but it’s so incredibly nice to know you’ll save all of that time later.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness

It’s the little things, isn’t it? Sure, big, great gestures bring big, great rewards, but life is made up of little things. I am a big “giver,” obviously. I support several favorite charities monetarily, donate household items, volunteer time and services…I even serve on the Board of Directors for a charity. And these are all wonderful things that help keep this world going in positive directions. But – I crave the human interaction of the little things. Writing checks, filling up boxes, and attending meetings sure doesn’t fill me with the sense of satisfaction I get when I, say, pay for the coffee of the person behind me.

Random acts of kindness are sorely underrated. And I don’t think there are too many people out there who actively practice it. It’s a great theory, and we love hearing about them, but how often do you commit one? I consistently commit one a week – more if I can. I’m addicted to it, actually. Doing little things that completely brighten the day of someone else. It’s an instant mood booster for both parties. It’s so simple to do, too. Random acts of kindness aren’t big productions – they’re usually spur-of-the-moment, opportunity-knocks kinds of things. I really encourage you to start looking for these opportunities. You will be amazed how many will cross your path and how good you’ll feel when you seize the moment and commit the act. To help inspire your thinking, I’ve compiled a list here of some little things that I’ve done:

1. Pay for anything for anyone behind you – whether at the coffee shop, the toll booth, the drive-thru.

2. Compliment a stranger. Just stop them and say something nice. “Great shoes” is one I use a lot. I even stopped a lady one time on the street and told her I thought she was absolutely beautiful. And then I just kept walking.

3. Write a nice note for your child’s teacher.

4. In hot weather, take a few cold bottles of water out to the mailman or garbage man when you see them come by.

5. Report good customer service to the management while still in the store.

6. Give a dollar to the homeless person. Who cares what they do with it? Obviously, you’re doing better than they are – so spread the wealth a little.

7. Tip really big – leave a $20 next time.

8. Have flowers anonymously delivered to someone you know could use a boost.

9. Consider yourself the Traffic Fairy for one full day – let all cars turn or merge in front of you.

10. When you see one of our troops, stop and say thank you.

Even committing just one of these will make you feel like a better person and a little more connected to the world. Go on, give it a try. I have fabulous shoes and drink a lot of coffee, so I'll be on the lookout for you.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Quitting My Job

Before I went on maternity leave, I realized that our bonuses would be paid shortly after my FMLA time was up. So, I called our HR representative and asked her if I’d still get my bonus if I left after maternity leave, and she told me I’d need to be employed the day the bonus was paid to get it. The way it turned out, bonuses were paid out 4 days after FMLA was up. And while my bonuses wouldn’t be tens of thousands of dollars, on a single income family, my bonus was definitely meaningful. So I decided that I’d return to work for at least those 4 days to get my bonus. My mom travels a lot, too, so she volunteered to come down to watch the girls while I went to the office.

My original thought was to tell work that I was quitting while still on leave. I’d tell them I’d come in for a few days to transition any remaining items that needed to be, then go. But then, a lot of people told me I shouldn’t do that, because they could very well just tell me not to come back, and I’d lose out on the money. And then, I worried about just how to tell them and when. Did I lie, and start work on that first day and pretend I’d stay, and then once I had the bonus in hand, quit? Or should I just be honest, give them my notice on my first day back, and risk losing the bonus?

I went with the honest approach. Today is the day I had to return to the office. And this morning, I told my manager I was quitting. Actually, we went in a conference room together (since I work in a cube farm), and he said, “Are you quitting?” I told him I was, then said I did want to help transition and also hoped I could still get my bonus. And instead of ushering me out the door, he actually told me I should make my last day next Friday, basically giving my two week notice. When I told him I didn’t have childcare for next week, he said I could just work from home. Since I plan to transition everything this week, working from home should mean answering an odd email or phone call here and there. My manager said he and our VP expected me to quit, and went on to say he was personally very happy that I was making the decision I was. He’s got twin toddler boys, and his wife is home with them fulltime, so he understood where I was coming from completely and was totally supportive.

I’m so glad I just stuck with being honest. I’ve been able to set expectations this morning that while I’m here, I’m a short-timer, so I’m not taking back any big projects and can really focus on making sure all of the information on my computer that might someday matter to someone else is in someone else’s hands. Or on their computer!

It’s weird to be back here, though. Before I left, we moved to flex space, which meant that no one got their own desk. Everyone just gets in in the morning and finds a place to sit. It didn’t go over too well, but we adjusted. But the problem was, there weren’t enough parking spaces in the garage for everyone. As a short-term solution, they started a shuttle bus from a nearby building. So if you got in late, spent 10 minutes trying to find a spot in the garage and couldn’t, you then got to drive a few minutes away to find a spot in a different garage, then take a shuttle to the office, where you had to try to find a desk and do it all again in reverse after work. Before maternity leave, word was they were going to build a new parking lot, so the shuttle would be a short-term thing. When I drove in this morning, I saw a parking space counter just outside the garage. It literally tells you precisely how many spots are left in the garage, so you can turn around and head to the other garage (or home!) if it’s full. And the line to get into the garage must have been 20 cars long! It was insane. And it made me very happy to quit, because I don’t want to deal with that forever! Apparently, they nixed the new parking lot, so parking woes will continue.

And now that I just called my mom and Miss Emily is refusing a bottle, I must run home and feed her, so I’m off for now.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Customer Service In Today's Economy Is More Important Than Ever

Recently, an acquaintance of mine had trouble with her lawn service company of 2 years. This company skipped 2 weeks in a row, one for rain and one because a crew member had heat exhaustion (both understandable excuses.)On the next scheduled visit day, the crew actually did not show up until 8:20 at night, after baby had already been put down for the night, and dogs let out to roam, because she assumed the crew was once again not going to show up. Needless to say, the cacophony of lawnmowers whirring, dogs running and barking, and the general melee of folks roaming around the yard, baby woke up, and mom ran around like crazy trying to quiet back down the household.

The following day, she sent an email to the owner of the company to complain about the hour of service and request in the future that all service visits be conducted prior to 5:30pm. She also requested a refund for the week's service due to the inconvenience. She forwarded me the actual correspondence, and it was very reasonably stated. The owner replied the following day with a shockingly nasty email.

In her email, the owner stated (in a very unprofessional manner) that her company had many, many customers, that the time of day was not unreasonable, no way would she ever guarantee a time frame, no way was she offering a credit because the work was performed and she better pay up, and lastly, if she didn't like it, go find a new company.

Yes, I am serious. This came from the OWNER of the company.

Well, needless to say, my acquaintance immediately discontinued service, and hasn't had time to find a new one because she's been busy telling everyone she knows about the event.

As a business owner, I am still in disbelief. (Kinda makes me want to go into the lawn service business simply because I could most definitely snag her customer base with nary a blink by simply being nice, but that's beside the point.) Perhaps she just doesn't understand customer service, and believes because she has so many customers, she doesn't need to be nice to them. In this declining economy, luxury services such as lawn care are one of the first things a family will cut out. She should be nervous. Very nervous. Not arrogant. I wish I could have coffee with this woman. I wish I could make her see the domino effect of her email. Well, since I do not know her, perhaps some of you can benefit from this event. If nothing else, think of it as a quick refresher course in customer service basics.

1. When a longtime customer has a complaint, whether you think it's valid or not, that complaint deserves attention. A phone call, not an email.

2. Apologize. Even if you don't believe your company was in the wrong. The customer thinks you are. So apologize. This isn't an ego contest. The customer is paying you, therefore, they are in the higher position. Apologize.

3. Apologize again.

4. If the customer has already told you what it will take to remedy it, do it. Anything less will not satisfy the customer, as they've already told you what will. In this case, the customer wanted to be credited a week's lawn service which costs, by the way, less than $40), and to have her lawn serviced sometime within a 10 hour timeframe.

5. If for some reason, you cannot accommodate the requested remedy, have a darn good reason why not and offer an alternative - an alternative that appears to give the customer more than they asked for.

6. If the customer has not suggested a remedy, ask. ASK!! Say these words, "Again, I can't apologize enough, how can we make this right with you?"

7. Agree on the remedy and follow through. Then follow up to ensure the customer truly is satisfied. When you follow up, apologize again, and thank the customer for allowing you to remedy the situation.

Had the owner of the lawn service company followed even one of the above, she may still have a customer. But she didn't. She allowed her own arrogance of being The Owner override her common sense. Because really, over $40 (the requested credit), and her adamant statements about being right and the customer being wrong, she just lost guaranteed revenue for the rest of this season of at least $400, future seasons with the same customer, and the word of mouth recommendation to others. (Which now is a word of caution - even more damaging.)

Just a word to the wise to all small business owners - in this economy, your customer service skills, or lack thereof, may very well be the thing that keeps you putting food on your table, or not.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Plane Ride Home

I was dreading the plane ride back to Dallas. I knew my mom could help me get through security, but no one was flying home with me. It would just be me, an 11 week-old and a 3 year-old. An 11 week-old that’s been having daily blowouts, I might add. I was really nervous about gate checking Emily’s car seat and stroller, and nervous about bathroom breaks. All in all, it went really well. But should anyone else decide they want to travel with two small children, here’s what I did.

First, I bought the Safeguard Go car seat for Megan. It works for kids 20+ pounds that are 1 year or older. It’s a 5-point car seat until 60lbs, and then a backless booster from 60-100lbs. It folds into a little bag and is lightweight. I love it. I checked the seat in its bag with the rest of our luggage. It would have been easy to carry on the plane and throw in the overhead bin, but I really didn’t need one more thing to carry, so we just checked it normally.

Next, I brought the Snap ‘n Go stroller for Emily and put her infant seat on it, then threw the base for the seat into the basket of the stroller. Emily was either in the sling or in her car seat in the stroller while we went through the airport. Megan is good at staying close, so she just walked next to me (although I did entertain the idea of bringing the Sit ‘n Stand stroller so Megan could ride, but that stroller is just bigger than I wanted to deal with – I love it, though!). Since you have to take everyone’s shoes and jackets off at security, and take babies out of slings and such, and collapse strollers, my mom got a pass to help me through security. (I would like to take this time to note that American Airlines always tells us they can’t give security passes. They say it’s an FAA regulation. Alaska Airlines, on the other hand, is nice and understanding and gives them out, because they understand getting through security with small children is ridiculously difficult. So, clearly, it is not an FAA regulation. And it really annoys me every time American says it is.)

I brought a giant diaper bag backpack, and Megan brought her own little carry on. So, we had two carry-ons, the sling, the stroller, infant car seat and base going through the airport. It sounds like a ton, but it was manageable, even on my own. Although, I was worried about how to get the stroller, car seat and base collapsed and gate checked, because I didn’t want to check them with the luggage. I ended up snapping the infant car seat to the base and balancing it on top of the stroller. I put Emily in her sling, then just needed one hand to take the carseat off the stroller and to collapse the stroller. It was easier than I thought.

The plane ride itself went really well, too. Now, I won’t kid myself and think it will always be like this. I know Emily was at the easiest age to travel with. But still, it went well, and I would (and will!) do it again. Emily ate and slept and pooped, of course, because that’s what babies do. The first time she pooped, Megan wanted to stay in her seat and watch her DVD. Fine. So I walked back with Emily to change her in the bathroom, and Megan stayed put. I got Emily changed, but when I was walking back to my seat, saw Megan heading the other direction. She had taken off her headphones, paused her movie, unbuckled her seatbelt, and gotten up on her own. My big girl! I caught up with her, and she said she had to go potty. Oh boy, here it comes. All three of us were headed to the teeny tiny airplane bathroom. And when we got in, Megan insisted I go potty first. So, with Emily in the sling, and Megan just in front of me, I crouched down and went. (I will take this time to note that when traveling with small children, always wear sweats or some sort of pant that comes off without buttoning, so that if your child is in the Bjorn or sling, you can easily pull your pants up or down with one hand.) Then I got up and moved aside so Megan could go. It worked, although none of us could have been too much bigger! Oh, and 20 minutes after we got back to our seat, Megan had to go again. Good times. But, it was doable. We got through it. I have no desire to attempt to travel with more children than my two, but I can do it with two. Thank goodness!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

They were hiding where?

We’re in Seattle now, having fun playing with family. I was raised here, and in many ways, it still feels like home. My parents are here, my sister and her family, my aunt and uncle, cousins, and several friends from high school with whom I still keep in touch. My sister has two kids – a 7 year-old girl, Lauren, and a 5 year-old boy, Mason. Megan and Mason are the best of friends. This week, they’ve particularly enjoyed playing hide-and-seek. Of course, their version of hiding is putting their hands over their eyes, while not really leaving the room, so they’re pretty easy to find, but it’s still cute. We keep finding them in random rooms, crouching on the floor, rear ends in the air, squealing their sweet little kid squeals.

Last night, they were playing hide-and-seek in my parents’ laundry room, which is just off the family room where the rest of us were talking. They got very quiet, so I figured I’d better check on them. I looked in the laundry room, and saw the dryer door open. I looked in the dryer, and there were Megan and Mason, hands over their eyes, giggling. In the dryer! The both of them! I yelled to my sister to come see and grabbed my camera, all the while telling the kids how bad an idea it was to be in the dryer and how they should never, ever go in there again. But really, it was a little funny and cute. Neither of them could have turned it on, but still – not a good place to play. And believe me, my sister and I hammered that into their heads. They won’t be playing in the dryer anymore.

I’m still glad I have a picture of it, though.

Monday, July 28, 2008

My first flight with two kids.

Recently, I attempted my first flight with two children. It sounds brave and bold, but the truth is, my sister flew down first to help me fly back up, so I really can’t be commended. But as well as the flight itself went, I really have to share our pre-flight tales of woe.

First of all, my sister flew down on a Saturday morning, from Seattle to Dallas. She was supposed to arrive around 2:00pm, but at about 1:30, a giant thunderstorm rolled in. So instead of landing in Dallas, she landed in San Antonio. Not good. It should be said that my sister has had some really bad weather when she visited me. The first time she came, it snowed, and I couldn’t even pick her up from the airport, so she ended up taking Super Shuttle, which was not a good experience for her. Another time, it iced. And another time, there were thunderstorms, and she was stuck at the airport – with her toddler – for 6 hours before just coming back to our house and trying again the next day. So the fact that she landed in San Antonio was really not good for her opinion of Dallas. She finally got her around 6:30pm. Oops.

Our flight Sunday morning was scheduled to leave at 7:00am. We live pretty close to the airport, so leaving the house at 5:45am gave us plenty of time to get to our flight. But even leaving at 5:45am means getting up awfully early, including waking the kids up. Megan was so excited for a trip, though, the second we woke her up, she was wide awake and her usual chatty self. My husband checked the flight just before we left the house, and said, “You know, it’s weird. The flight from Seattle here looks like it returned to Seattle and hasn’t left there yet, but your flight is still on time. You’d think they’d need the plane from that flight for your flight.” Weird indeed. But perhaps they were using a different plane, and since our flight was still showing on time, and it was just an hour and a half before departure, surely everything was fine.

So we get to the airport to check our bags, and had the following exchange.
Agent: The flight is probably going to leave here around 8:30am. There was a mechanical issue, so it hasn’t left Seattle yet. [Note: It’s now 6:15am.]
Me: But if it hasn’t left Seattle yet, there’s no way it will leave here at 8:30. It’s a four hour flight here!
Agent: But there’s a two hour time difference! [Seriously, this is what she said. As if a four hour flight suddenly becomes a two hour flight because of a time change.]
Me: [giving up, since logic clearly escapes her] What happened with the previous plane?
Agent: It took off and was a quarter of the way here, but there was a mechanical issue so it had to return to Seattle. Then, they had to take everyone AND THEIR STUFF [she emphasized this, as if they typically leave the “stuff” and only take the people] off the plane and rebook everyone onto the new plane they got.

So many issues here, most of which I noted above. But they got a new plane. There’s no rebooking! You just give people the same seats on a different aircraft! She just wasn’t the brightest bulb. The good news was, she allowed us to use upgrade certificates to sit in first class, and she shouldn’t have since we were on mileage tickets. Hey, I wasn’t complaining!

Oh, and the flight? It was easy peasy. Emily ate while we took off, slept for 3 hours, pooped a few times, ate again, and we were there. My sister sat by Megan, who watched movies the whole time and made one bathroom trip. Getting through security wasn’t the most fun thing I’ve ever done, but with two adults, it was manageable. And I’m pumped that the flight itself was good! Now I just hope the flight home isn’t the opposite!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Who knew? I'm a drug addict.

I want a new drug
One that won't hurt my head
One that won't make my mouth too dry
Or make my eyes too red

One that won't make me nervous
Wondering what to do
One that makes me feel like I feel when I'm with you
When I'm alone with you

Okay, it's not what you think. New research has found that a new Mom's pleasure receptors in the brain (typically associated with food, sex and drug addiction) are activated at seeing your own child smile. Your baby's smiles are a natural high! I remember telling my friends how tired I was after having my little ones (I've got more than one hence the "addict" part) but just a little smile from one of them and I would completely forget my exhaustion, be elated and gain energy to keep going despite lack of sleep or any real rest. Guess I wasn't lying.

Let me share one of my baby high experiences with you. My firstborn had 'colic' -- which turned out to be severe food allergies though we didn't know it at the time -- and I remember the nights of no sleep for many months with no idea of why my baby was hurting and still having to go to work the next morning. Ugh! Luckily for me, my DH was able to work from home during that tough time so I knew she was in the best of care. But in the midst of all that heartache, my dearest daughter had the best disposition and I always said it was her smiles that gave me the strength to make it through each day and night. Clearly, that was not a subjective feeling but quite literally, based in this research, her dear precious smiles did make me feel better and heal me in more ways than I knew then. Motherhood and nature are amazing.

After the news a while back about proven post-partum memory loss for at least 1 year, it is nice to have science 'prove' the nice things of becoming a mom, too. After all, we moms always knew them and felt them but somehow having science quantify and qualify it with data for the world adds a different type of 'cred' to it.

I'm actually visiting my (not so) little sister with her bundle of joy which while not the same as having my own is about as close I will ever get to having a darling angel without giving birth myself. I am here to tell you fellow Moms... those smiles work even if you are not the birth mom. I think it is the mom in your heart that sets it off. I am off to get my baby high with my most handsome little nephew... ahh.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Changing the World

I have had several favorite quotes throughout my life - my current favorite came from one of my business partners and I have shamelessly stolen it from her for my own use:

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

- Ghandi

It's so incredibly profound, and yet so simple. It reminds me of my goals, and reminds me to act today, not tomorrow, and it IS up to me to change the world.

I printed it out in fancy font & borders and all other nonsense, and posted it in my office above my big whiteboard, so it catches my eye all day long and helps keep me a little more focused.

Feel free to shamlessly steal it from me, too.

Friday, July 18, 2008

God bless the sling.

When Emily was about a month old, we attended a baby shower at a friend’s house. I meant to bring my Baby Bjorn, just in case she’d hang out in it, but left it at home. But while at the shower, my friend offered her sling to me to use during the night. It was awesome. Emily slept the whole evening. At the end of the night, my friend told me to keep the sling, as her kids have outgrown it. God bless her, and God bless the sling.

I have learned how to wear Emily in it in a few positions – laying down, and sitting. She falls asleep in both. And she sleeps well. And, I can breastfeed without anyone knowing what I’m doing. Emily has this knack for knowing exactly when I’m about to eat, and making sure I don’t get a hot meal. I literally picked up my fork last night, stuck it in a piece of salad, and she woke up and started crying. Awesome. So, I’ve been putting her in the sling and feeding her while I eat, because it gives me a free hand, and I can feed her either at home or in public without anyone knowing. And while breastfeeding in public should be fine, I’m just a little too modest to do it. But the sling makes it easy. I fed her tonight while eating dinner, and my dad had no idea. He said, “Has she just been asleep this whole time?!” and I had to tell him that no, she hadn’t – she’d been eating nonstop for 30 minutes. It’s a gift, I think.

Anyway, I use that sling every day. It was perfect when she was a newborn with hardly any head control, and perfect now that she has more control and likes to look around a bit. She’s comfortable, I’m pretty comfortable, and I can eat, pick up toys, vacuum, you name it. It’s also how I kept Emily on the plane. It was easy to wear her through the airport, and she ate and slept peacefully on the plane.

So, God bless the sling. It’s a beautiful invention.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Evening News Rating - 'R'

I try to monitor what my kids watch on TV. I make sure the shows have a good mix of fun and information. So it would make sense that we would want to include the local, national and world news in that mix. After all, knowledge is key to raising socially responsible and involved citizens, right? So how do you explain the news to a 7 year old when it starts off with the war with the happy story about release of hostages after years of imprisonment. These are truths that I don't want to expose her delicate psyche to yet. Still, that is what is in the news these days.
So I have stopped watching the evening news on the television in our home. We get our news online where I can control what the kids hear -- I read it to them or have them read specific stories. I go to sites like which tries to deliver the positive side of the news. Its focus may not tell you what is happening in the Iraqi War but it will tell you the human side the world with a more local news feel to it. If the world was filled with all the bad, negative things we hear on the usual evening news then I would be hesitant to set foot out of my front door. So how could our children ever feel secure or safe? Am I too protective of them? Am I taking the easy way out? Or is it alright at such a young age?

I hope I am still enabling them to grow to be involved and active citizens of our great country. I'm not sure (are we ever as parents?) but I am doing what I think is right by them.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Worst Advice Ever For A Pregnant Woman

Well, word to the wise around here...don't drink the water. It seems we're all pregnant, or just gave birth, or are attending to new arrivals in extended family. So while we were already all moms, launching a company for moms...we're now all enjoying another trip through motherhood. Which got me thinking about the months I have ahead of me and how I'll handle them the second time around with a lot more things on my plate. One thing I won't do? Fall prey again to this man (or one like him). Enjoy the chuckle at my expense as I relate to you the worst advice I have received while pregnant. (And please - send good thoughts my way that this entry will retain the Worst Advice title once this pregnancy is over.)

When I was about 6 months pregnant, a man whom I did not know at work cornered me in the break room to give me advice about what to do when I had my baby. Few things immediately come to mind, don't they?

1. Hormones & baby advice don't play well together.

2. Hormones & baby advice from a stranger really don't play well together.

3. Hormones & baby advice from a stranger who is a man - well, them's just fightin' words all 'round.

He was an older man, and had bad breath, but that's not important to the story (though it would have probably played a prominent role if I was still in 1st trimester all-day sickness mode). He had me cornered for about 45 minutes talking to me about febrile seizures and how they're perfectly normal and I shouldn't freak out at all when it happens and no need to go to the hospital or anything. My baby will eventually outgrow them, so I need to just be calm about it and boy aren't I glad he knows all about it and can save me the stress, right? No problem, he just sees it as his duty to help out others when he can.


Let's pause for a moment and consider the ramifications of talking to a 1st time pregnant lady with borderline obsessive-compulsive tendencies with most definitely a Type A++ personality about Things That Will Go Wrong.

Okay, first? He owes my employer a heck of a lot of payroll dollars for all the time over the next few months I spent frantically googling "febrile seizures", and long distance charges for me to read aloud articles to my friends and get their opinions. (and later - maybe some of my pediatrician's salary for having to talk to me repeatedly about it. Would love to see my secret chart from those first 6 months.)

Second? Total liar. Febrile Seizures are not normal! Sure, they may not be an indicator of dire diseases or anything, but they ARE far from normal.

Third? Total jerk. Seriously. I ended up moving across country before I had my febrile-seizure-free baby, but if I still lived there I think I'd wait for him some night in the parking lot and just...I don't know...kick him in the shins or something. It's been almost 5 years now and I still think about doing this a lot. I do have some vacation, no, no.

In any case, that really took the cake for me on the bad advice thing. I will never forgive that man. My hairdresser I forgave after the bangs grew out, but the febrile-seizures?? Nah - I'll be lugging that story around forever.

And PS - the best advice? That good enough is, really, good enough.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Birth Story

Since Megan was a breach baby and I had a c-section with her, I knew all along I would have one with this baby as well. And honestly, that was fine by me. I am perfectly happy having c-sections! My doctor was good enough to schedule a 7am c-section, which I have learned is a very wise thing. I pity those that have afternoon c-sections, because I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink after midnight. I’ve been chugging drinks like I live on the Equator, so the thought of not drinking for 7 hours had me all twitchy. I can’t imagine being awake all day and not getting to eat or drink!

The night before my c-section, we told Megan what would happen the next day. We explained that we wouldn’t be home when she woke up, but that we’d be at the hospital. She’d get to come to the hospital after she woke up and meet her baby sister. My mom stayed with Megan while we were in the hospital, so she was there for Megan when she got up. It was really weird knowing that the next morning, we’d have another family member. It also meant we had to decide on a name, because we really would have a baby the next day! So, we talked a bit more and decided.

We were told to get to the hospital at 5am. So, I woke up at about 4:15 so I could shower, dry my hair, and put a little makeup on (hey! I was going to have pictures taken that day!). We got to the hospital right at 5, and went to a prep room. I basically got monitored for awhile, got two bags of IV fluid, got to take a shot of this very odd-tasting thing (I forget the name, but oh, I was so glad to drink anything, even if it tasted bad!), got asked a ton of questions and laid around for a bit. At 6:45, I walked to the OR while my husband got into his sterile gear. They gave me the spinal (such a weird feeling when that starts taking effect!), brought Jay in, started the surgery, and at 7:07am, Emily Marie was born. She had a strong scream (the pediatrician later told us she had the “loudest scream in the nursery” – lucky us!) and was clearly not pleased. I love that sound, though. There’s so much life in those first cries, and it’s so comforting to hear. It made me all teary. Of course, they weighed her in the OR, and she was a whopping 9lbs 8oz. Considering I measured a few weeks behind for my entire pregnancy, I was NOT expecting such a big baby! But there she was, all pink and plump and healthy. And pissed.

Megan was a premie, so we saw her briefly in the OR, then she went to the NICU to be suctioned. We saw her a few hours later. But Emily was full-term, so my husband got to hold her in the OR, and the nurses took a picture of the three of us there, in all of our gear with our new little baby. Emily was wheeled to the recovery room with me, where she promptly latched on and started nursing. It took a lot of work to get Megan to nurse, so having Emily latch right away like that was so exciting! She hung out with us in recovery for a bit, and then went to the nursery for her bath.

Not long after I moved to my hospital room, Emily joined us, as did Megan and my mom. Megan was excited to hold Emily, and was so sweet with her. She held her gently and just looked at her. She loved to sit in my hospital bed with me while I held Emily.

Emily is great. She lost a full pound in the hospital, but is gaining again and doing perfectly well. She nurses well, and we never had to supplement with her like we did with Megan. So far, she sleeps a lot and, with the exception of when she gets hungry, she doesn’t cry too often. I fully realize this will likely not continue to be the case, but just let me enjoy it for now, ok?

I’m great, too. I wanted to avoid pain meds if I could, and I did. I just needed ibuprofen for the discomfort, but really, I wasn’t in too much pain. I feel like I recovered so much faster with pain meds, too. I’m home and mobile and so, so happy to have a healthy baby at home, and a smaller belly!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Parents vs. Peds

Ever feel like gearing up with war paint as you head into an appointment with your pediatrician? Have you read numerous articles on the topic? Talked to every mom you know in person and some more via mesage boards?

All this so that you can gain the strength to stand up to your pediatrician and do for your child what you feel is the best care?? I recall this struggle with my second child -- my dearest son. He was a slow talker who had many ear infections as an infant. My gut or "Momtuition" told me something was off. I kept asking the doctor about it but he waved it aside at the 12 month visit and again at 18 month visit. At the next visit, after I got this information from a fellow mom, I insisted on getting a free evaluation (as offered by the state via the Early Childhood Intervention or ECI in Texas). They came and evaluated him with significant development delays!

I had a friend whose pediatrician decided her son had attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The diagnosis never quite sat right with her - her momtuition was warning her. When none of the meds worked, she went to get a second opinion and a third. Finally the fourth doctor listened to her and her son is now getting therapy - not meds - for being on the autism spectrum. He is improving everyday and doing great.

I do not believe my pediatricians blindly, they are people who may know about medicine but they don't know your child. You do. What I learned is, as a Mom, I need to trust my gut - my Momtuition - when it comes to my kids, first and foremost.

It is still hard for me to talk about this topic because I didn't push as hard as I should have in my son's case when my gut told me otherwise and we are still feeling the effects of that. My only advice to Moms (new and experienced) everywhere is trust your Mom instinct, your Momtuition. It will not let you or your child down. Be a fool for your child's welfare. Let them mark you as "difficult" in their secret doctor charts. All that doesn't matter if you have your healthy child by your side. Because in a world filled with what-ifs, most of which lead to dark places, it is your job, MOM, to take the least treacherous path and be your child's warrior along the way to making him/her an independent, capable adult. Fight on, dear Mom-rior.

Since early intervention and therapy are the best weapons we have for developmental delays, here are a couple resources that list typical developmental milestones to watch for in your child:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A new place, a new face...

Hi there! We just got back from our little cabin project in the woods (we've almost got a roof on!) and I'm ready to plunge back in to MomCheck full time again. Well, ok, so "full-time" for a mom with another 40+ hour/week job is slightly less than you might first imagine, so let's just say 'consistent time'.

Let me introduce myself. I'm the geek in the group. Well, actually, I'm the hippie in the group. Ok, I'm the hippie-geek. :) When the website doesn't work right, blame me. Or... don't blame me, but at least tell me, so that I can get it fixed!

This all sounded like such a great idea when our fearless leader pitched it: Start a website to help moms find quality child care for their most precious of charges. The hippie in me said, "Yes! We can change the world! We can revolutionize the process of finding childcare and, in the process, even change how childcare centers are held accountable! We will be a cog in the wheel of change! Power to the people!" And, then, they all threw some cold water on me and I calmed down a bit.

The geek in me thought, "Yeah, a website, that will be the easy part... the hard part will be touring all those childcare centers." Was I wrong. The website IS the easy part, then then there's all this data and changing the data and lots of ideas for expansion and pretty pictures...and... ... But, at least, it's the fun part! (don't tell my partners, though... I tell them it's lots of hard work!).

So here we are. We have the basic site up now, but we are busy every day adding enhancements and brainstorming more features.

I'll be waxing philosophically here about how I work on this site and in what is a very new, green company (we are a distributed, virtually paperless operation), while balancing my work and family life and trying to keep to my very green ideals (yes, still a tree-hugger!). Sometimes these things come into conflict for me - like using disposable diapers for the convenience so that I have more time for the website. Here I will share my personal struggle with this and my compromises and thought process along the way. As I find new and/or innovative ways or products that help me merge my ideals with real life, I'll share those as well.

See you soon!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

MomCheck is now Open!

I know, it's been awhile since any of us has posted. We have a good reason, though - we are finally live with What a long time coming!

Starting a company is hard work. It's made even harder when it's 4 women who live on opposite sides of the City, have other jobs, and oh yes, let's not forget we're trying to be moms at the same time. In a normal world, people devote 40+ hours a week to their business. In our world, that was a combined total. Which means it took us about 4 times as long to get launched.

Our husbands and children have certainly been patient, so once we launched in early May, we all just took a breather and focused on quality family time. We're back now, ready to burst forward and help this company take off! Can't wait to see what's in store for us next.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It’s almost Mother’s Day, and all I want is a…mop?

This will be my last Mother’s Day as the mom of one. That’s so weird! It’s hard to believe I’m about to have two kids. And two girls! Pink, purple, dolls and princesses, oh my! Last year, I read an article in Parents magazine about the things moms want most for Mother’s Day – flowers, candy, etc. The most popular item? A day off. And seriously, who among us can’t relate with that? I love being a mom. So much that I want to quit my job to stay home and just be a mom. But at the same time, I really love a little “me” time here and there. Last year, I spent Mother’s Day afternoon shopping all by myself. It was heavenly. Better than, well, anything, quite frankly. Given my enormous belly, and the fact that no more children will be coming out of it after this one, shopping is out this year. I refuse to buy more maternity clothes, since they won’t get used again (ok, they might, because I’ll donate them, but they won’t be used by me, and if I’m the one paying for them, I have to justify the money spent on them!). The restaurant I hoped to have brunch at is booked until 2pm, which is entirely too late for me to have my second meal of the day (and before you criticize my husband for not booking in time, I will say he called a full week in advance, which is very unlike him, and they were still booked!), so we’ll have brunch there next weekend when throngs of people aren’t all looking to dine out at precisely the same time. Plus, my wonderful in-laws (seriously, they really are great) are out of town, so we can’t depend on them to cook. So, I’m out of ideas for places to eat, and I can’t go spend the day shopping, and as nice as prenatal massages are, well, they’re not nearly as good as the real thing, so that’s out, too.

But then I had a fabulous idea. We’re about to let our cleaning lady go, because it’s an expense we really won’t NEED once I quit work and stay home after this little girl is born. And, while I was cleaning my tile floors yesterday, all 826,452 square feet of them (ok, that might be an exaggeration, but it sure feels like a lot!), I thought – “A MOP!” And as soon as my husband came home from work yesterday, I told him about my wonderful idea for a gift. But not just a regular mop – a steam mop. I saw an infomercial on them and I’m sold. I mean, sweet deal – I can get my tile floors super clean with just water. Water! And I can toss the cleaning cloths in the wash, so they’re much more environmentally friendly than the disposable cloths I’ve been using, that surely aren’t as powerful as steam cleaning. And now that I’ve thought of this mop, I can’t think of much else. I really, really want a steam mop.

Who’d have thought the most exciting gift idea would be a mop? I must really be a mom now.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I originally wrote this for my mom 2 years ago when I was a writer for ClubMom. I received so much positive feedback from other women who completely identified with it, I thought I'd re-run it here, to benefit a new audience.

Ode to My Mother

When I was a baby, my mother was my lifeline. We shared the wonder of new life together. I, in my eagerness to explore this new world and her, in her eagerness to explore this new being, formed an instant bond founded upon unconditional, unequivocal love. There is such safety, such security, in the knowledge of this love. From it, we both sprang forward into unchartered territories, eager to remain partners in this journey through life. From sweet lullabies and baby powder, to bright colors and action, we moved through babyhood at an alarming rate of speed and are left with snapshots and memories that make us both smile.

When I was a little girl, my mother was my best playmate. We shared secrets, cookies, giggles, and fun. She taught me to read and we spent hours exploring the worlds of Dr. Seuss. She showed me her love every day, in every way. It was in her hands as she guided them in the cookie dough, in her kiss when her magic mommy touch took away my boo-boos, in her smile as she watched me traipse off to school, and in her tears as she watched me grow into a young lady. I returned that show of love in my own way. It was in my macaroni necklaces, my flower bouquets from her garden, my painstaking attempts to imitate her, and my hastily-given kisses as I run out the door to play.

When I became a teenager, my mother was an enigma. She was my biggest champion, no matter how many times I tried to knock her down. I turned to her when it was convenient for me, and turned against her for that same convenience. And yet, she remained a rock – solid in her love, never wavering from her devotion, never yielding to my demands, and never daunted by the task of raising such an ungrateful being. She showed her love by her silence during my tirades, her stubbornness for curfews, her insistence at knowing my friends, her dinnertime together rule, and her understanding about the angst I was feeling. I returned this love by throwing tantrums, intentionally wounding with words, and my determination not to become the wonderful woman she knew I was.

When I became a young adult, my mother was my advisor. She gave me advice on everything from making a meatloaf to choosing a career. I moved far away, I think, in attempt to distance myself from this woman (where my most recent memories were the trauma-drama of the teenage years). And yet, this proved to strengthen our bond. The miles between us, and the time between phone calls, forced our relationship to rely not on the day-to-day details of life for communication, but rather on current events, political platforms, dreams for the future, and analysis of the past. Through this, I came to know my mother as a real person, not just my mother. I’ve been privy to her strengths and weaknesses, her hopes and desires, her regrets and triumphs. And in them, I have seen myself. I have learned we cannot run from our roots, as they are in us, and are us.

When I became a mother, my mother became a grandmother. Not for the first time, and probably not for the last, but she became my son’s grandmother, and in that I see her in yet another role, another facet of her personality. I see the sheer delight in both of their faces when we visit. The unadulterated love is there, and I ache at the tenderness of it, the innocence of it. Many years, and many inventions, have come to pass since she mothered me, but the principles are still the same. She teaches me this, passes on the tidbits of knowledge. I have spent my life adoring her, loving her, repelling her, seeking her – and now, as I make my own journey through motherhood, I realize I am now being her. All the life she breathed into me, all the beliefs she instilled in me, all the knowledge she imparted to me, all the love she gave me – all of these things live on. They are in me, and live through me, and I will pass it all on to my son. Her legacy will far outlive her body.

I am on the other side, now, a mother in my own right. Sometimes I am driven to my knees by the sheer force of my love for my son. I do not know how I will possibly live up to his expectations of me. And at these time, I remember - I’ve got my mom – my best friend, my soul mate, my teacher. She taught me well, and I know I will not fail.

Happy mother’s day, mom.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The What-You-Could-Have-Been Show for Moms

It finally happened. Instead of creating television shows for us to watch, The Learning Channel created a show for us to star in called The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom. For those of you who haven't heard of it, the premise is to take a typical stay-at-home mom and let her see what her life could have been like if she had pursued her career instead of staying home to take care of the family.

The episode I watched recently was about a mom that wanted to be a police officer and got the chance to go through boot camp!! She is in the typical shape for a busy mom, too-busy-to-take-care-of-myself-because-the-family-comes-first shape! And she had to scale a wall!! She did better than I would have but it was still a cringe moment.

The concept is interesting. To give us a chance at the greener grass on the other side. But it was bittersweet because at the end of the day, this particular mom, even though she wanted to pursue more of the career option, couldn't because of her husband voted against it.

So I ask you, does this show help us or is it a dangling carrot that we shouldn't bother pursuing?? I think I'd try it but only as a vacation from my regular life.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Nobody Told Me My Belly Button Would Hurt!

I’m 32 weeks into my second pregnancy. My belly button never did pop with my first pregnancy, but it seems like it’s trying to this time. Everyone talks about whether or not their belly buttons pop, but no one ever mentions that it hurts! That poor little thing stretches and grows in ways it shouldn’t, and it is less than comfortable at this point. Of all things, that’s what seems to cause me the most discomfort.

People keep asking me if I’m ready to have this baby. I’m 32 weeks along – no one wants to have a baby that early! But my stock answer as become, “Physically, most definitely. But mentally? Not even close!” I look forward to the day when the scale actually moves in a downward fashion (please, may it move down quickly!), when I can lay on my stomach on the floor to play with my daughters and when I can move around in bed without repositioning multiple pillows along with me. And of course, there is that list of alcoholic drinks I can’t wait to get to – a fat glass of cabernet, maybe a cosmo, and there’s a new pear vodka I’d love to try. All in moderation, of course, but come on! There’s a world of good drinks awaiting me!

But, oh, how far I am from being prepared mentally. You’d think that, since this is my second child, there wouldn’t be that much to do, right? Wrong. We have to put the crib back together, get the sheets washed and on it, get all of the clothes washed and put away, get the carseat and install it. It may all be little things, but the little things add up to one giant list of to-dos. And when I see a list like that, I might freak out a little. Just a touch.

Of course, the frightening part is, no one actually knows when a baby will arrive. Our daughter, Megan, shocked us coming 5 weeks early. Talk about unprepared! We had no place for her to sleep yet, the carseat wasn’t installed, we hadn’t picked a name. And I think that’s what’s getting me this time – I know what a crapshoot a due date is. So, how much time do I have left, exactly? Will I get caught up on my scrapbooking before this baby makes her arrival?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Going Back to Work

Going back to work is one of the toughest choices to make. Consulting all the magazines and books in the world won’t make it any easier, either. Some of you don’t have a choice, some of you love what you do so much it would never cross your mind NOT to go back to work. But for the rest of us in the middle, well, it’s hard. My husband makes enough money; we could live on his salary. But I enjoy being out in the world (and having extra money), so I chose to return to work. I refuse to discuss with you that my decision had anything to do with the sheer terror and abject fear I felt at the thought of being alone everyday with just me and my baby. When his therapy bills come in 20 years from now, I don’t want to know it was 100% my fault, you know.

So I went back. And it was hard. And I survived it. And I learned that all working moms approach this differently, but feel basically the same about it. It doesn’t matter what your childcare arrangements are, either. Daycare, in-home daycare, nanny, babysitter, relative, spouse, monkeys, whatever – the first time you leave your child to go out into the big, bad world, you will be devastated to your very core. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I have the answers on how to breeze through it. But (and I’m not bragging) I was a highly decorated Girl Scout in my day and I learned a few things about survival. (And some really great camp songs, which if you think will help, call me and I’ll belt them out for you.) In no particular order I offer up to you, new working mommy, my top 10 tips for surviving your first day back to work.

1. Do not look to your husband for help. I don’t know why, I’m not a psychologist or scientist, but it’s just different for men. They’re not as freaked out about it and if you try to consult him on “how he made it through” his answer (if he has one) will baffle you and anger you and sadden you. Call your mom. She’s the only one who cares about it like you do.

2. Do not put on your makeup until you are in the parking lot at work. I don’t care if you’re horrified of the thought of your Starbucks crush (c’mon, we all have one) seeing you naked, so to speak. It is far more horrifying to spend the day with raccoon eyes, looking like Saturday morning in college.

3. Do not bring your photo album with you. You are a professional. Yes, you had a life-altering experience and you want to share. But let me be frank here, your coworkers don’t care. Do not let it upset you. They want to see one, maybe two pictures, just to be polite. Save the album for your closest coworkers and only outside the office.

4. Expect to cry at least twice. At the most inappropriate times, too. Like when calling your best client to announce your return, or in the elevator. The crying will be difficult to control and you won’t be able to explain it. Don’t try. If anyone looks at you just smile and say, “Hormones!” Trust me, NO ONE will ask any more questions after that. They don’t want to know your drama.

5. Accept that you will spend your entire day in isolation. Not purposely, but you will just feel incredible lonely and convinced that no one else has ever felt this way before you. You will be completely lost and overwhelmed. Just go with it. Smile and nod a lot and eventually the numbing will subside.

6. Call your husband just to say hi and stay connected. But don’t expect him to kick back for a nice talk-fest. He’s been back at his job for awhile now, and while he’ll want to support you, he just doesn’t get it (read #1).

7. Do not allow your feelings to be unnecessarily hurt. While you were happy and snug in your little baby cocoon, the world did go on, your company did remain open, and your coworkers continued to interact. There will be many things throughout the day that make you feel out of the loop. The new Chinese restaurant that everyone now goes to, the new guy in Accounting that holds court in the breakroom, the infamous team meeting that gets rehashed constantly. You weren’t a part of any of it, and it seems no one is going to fill you in. It’s okay. A month from now, you’ll be back in the loop. These people aren’t trying to exclude you. Again, just smile and nod.

8. Do ask for face time with the boss. Your boss, if male, will harbor an irrational fear that you have changed. You have, certainly, but not as an employee. He needs to be reassured. Spend five minutes telling him you’re happy to be back, looks like things went great in your absence and hey, you noticed the sales figures have increased. If your boss is female, she knows you didn’t change, but she’ll be marginally worried that your focus has shifted. Again, of course it has, but you need to reassure her that you’re committed to the job. And it will never hurt to tell her she looks fabulous.

9. Do bring something for those coworkers who covered for you while you were out. Did they hire a temp? If so, take him/her to lunch, bring a plant, a gift certificate, something to say thank you. Did your work get spread out to several people? Maybe bring donuts for the office, send out an email announcing your return and thanking profusely all those that made it possible for you to enjoy your time off. Acknowledge their burden. Personally, if possible. If you do it well enough, they may even ask to see a picture! (read #3).

10. Do not break traffic laws in your rush home. Your baby is there, just waiting for you. Your baby did not even begin to experience the separation anxiety that you did all day. You had a rough time, but you did it. Savor your drive home as a time to reflect on the day. What was good, what was bad, what you look forward to about tomorrow, what you look forward to when you walk through the front door. But most of all, just enjoy a moment of reflection about the new you. You’re a working mom, now. Congratulations and welcome to the club!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I’m Stuck

As you can tell by my screen name, I like to travel. A lot. I actually made the mistake of thinking that, since I like to travel, I would like consulting as a career. HA! That didn’t last long. There’s an enormous difference between vacation travel and business travel, and I quickly learned vacation travel is what I enjoy, while business travel? Not so much. Going to the same crappy location 5-6 days a week for months on end just isn’t my idea of a good time. And sticking this warm-weather fan in Michigan in the winter is akin to torture! So, I made the leap from traveling consultant, to consultant who worked locally (the commute was often horrid, but at least I slept in my own bed at night), to working for a travel website - now THAT is a better fit!

I have also learned, though, that I get mighty restless after about 2 months in one location. I don’t need to get away for some lavish vacation every few months, but a quick trip somewhere, even to my parents’ house, does me a world of good. I just need a change of scenery. My parents are the same way, so I come by it honestly. Although, they probably haven’t spent 2 weeks solid in one location in years, so they’re even worse than I am! But, I don’t love it when I’m not allowed to go anywhere. My doctor told me I wasn’t allowed to travel after 32 weeks. We took our last big vacation as a family of 3 when I was 30 weeks and went to Hawaii. It was definitely a good end to travel season! But, it also means I’m now stuck here. I can’t travel with a brand new newborn, so I know I’ll be stuck in the same city for at least 3 months, probably 4 or 5. It gives me the willies, I tell you. Right now, I have no travel plans at all. None! It just isn’t right.

I think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, though. We realized last night that my husband has a lot of miles that need to be used. At the same time, we realized that, when our baby is about 2 months old, my husband will have to be away for a week. The same week when his very-helpful mom will be on a mission trip in Guatemala. What’s a girl to do? Travel! I do believe I’ll get a few plane tickets – one for me, one for Megan – and we’ll fly up to see my family. They’ve got a crib, a carseat for Megan, a changing table, even a Diaper Champ, so I wouldn’t have to pack a totally ridiculous amount of stuff, just a semi-ridiculous amount. I could go for two weeks, and get help from my parents and sister, while Megan get to spend time with her cousins AND everyone got to meet the newest addition of our family. I don’t know how I’ll do traveling alone with two small children, but if it means I can get away, I will find a way to manage. Two glorious weeks at home with my family and oldest friends – I can’t wait!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rainy Days

A few weeks ago, we were hit with a spring storm that encompassed the entire weekend. While the rain was desperately needed and welcomed, I was also very discouraged at the prospect of keeping my 4 year old cooped up indoors. We spend our weekends outside as much as possible. Whether our own backyard or the local park, I’m committed to getting my family a little sunshine everyday. As an added bonus, when I’m outside I can’t see that laundry that needs folding, but really, that’s not my main motivation. Really.

So Saturday morning came with thunder, lightning, dark clouds, and rain. Not even 9:00am yet and already we all feel like caged animals. I’ve thrown myself into doing that dreaded laundry and ten other things on my ever-present cleaning to-do list, my husband has disappeared into the office under the guise of “finishing up some work” (Apparently, his company now requires him to research GI Joe memorabilia on Ebay – who knew?), and my poor little son was stuck following me around “helping”, playing with the dog and generally whining. On one pass past the front door, I happened to notice the water was rising alarmingly fast and was already up over the curb. Flooding? It didn’t seem to be raining that hard. Turns out it wasn’t, a water main had broken and it required immediate fixing.

Within an hour or so we had a lot of activity on our street – trucks with flashing lights, workmen in raincoats, backhoes. They had to break through the concrete to get to the water main in order to fix it. All the commotion drew my son like a magnet. He was plastered against the front door, his little nose all smooshed up, his trusty Ellie Elephant under his arm, the dog obediently sitting next to him. I was so happy for his distraction so I could get some real work done. He kept me updated, though. He would come running to find me to tell me all about what was happening. It would interrupt me and I found myself pushing him away. But his excitement couldn’t be contained. I thought how lucky he was to be so easily entertained. Then I was struck with the thought that we could ALL be entertained by this. And maybe it would pull me out of my bad mood, and get us some quality family time.

I stopped my cleaning (like I needed an excuse), made a big bowl of popcorn, got some pillows and blankets and hearded the whole clan into the spare bedroom. We climbed up on the bed, pulled up the blinds and ate our popcorn while watching the action. We had more fun in the next few hours than I care to admit. Now THAT’s the right way to spend a rainy Saturday. And that laundry? Still there. And I still don’t care. I’m anxiously awaiting to hear the weather for this weekend and a part of me really hopes there’s rain in the forecast.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Super (Single) Mom

I am guilty of having a wonderful husband. Yes, guilty. Sure, he’s domestically challenged (He’ll use paper towels before actually checking under the sink for toilet paper refills.), and he’s not that sensitive to romancing me (He bought my first mother’s day card on Mother’s Day, while I remained in the car with our son with the motor running.), but I must admit, he is great. I have forgiven him for not being George Clooney, as I’m sure he’s forgiven me for not being Charlize Theron. He’s an incredible father and a great life partner. So naturally, instead of celebrating this and shouting it from the rooftops, I feel massive guilt. Usually, the guilt is overshadowed by my even more massive working mommy guilt, but it’s still there.

Why the guilt? Well, I look around me and see so many women everywhere that are struggling to raise their kids alone. Single moms by choice or circumstance, it is still a tough hill to climb. I so admire them for their courage. My parents divorced when I was young and my mother raised 4 girls virtually alone, and my husband travels usually 2 days a week, so I do know what it is like, to a teensy degree.

Just when I think I’m doing a pretty good job at the whole balancing work/life thing and I go to pat myself on the back, I’ll catch a glimpse of the single mom – the one working 2 jobs and raising 3 kids whose bathroom is never dirty. How does she do it? I throw a party when I mop the bathroom floor and then I talk about this accomplishment for at least a week. And the single mom, well, she probably just rolls her eyes at me and goes right back to her own balancing act.

In the interest of providing you with more balancing tricks (and to add some to my own arsenal), I recently casually asked one of my single mom friends for some tips. She immediately knew I was trolling for blog ideas, but she obligingly shared with me some of her rules she lives by:

Get prepared at night. No matter how tired you are, finish everything - outfits, lunches, breakfast, briefcase, homework, and anything else. The morning will bring its own crises – don’t add to the pile by being unprepared. (I am so guilty of this.)

Do an errand a day. Do not wait until the weekend to cram them all in – if you plan your week in advance and dole out the errands day by day, you’ll greet your weekend with a sense of fun instead of the usual sense of dread. (As I have previously assumed most moms consider Saturday errand day, I am eager to start practicing this tip.)

Schedule in play time. Your children want your undivided attention, so give it to them, even if that means adding it to your schedule. (Um, okay – no problem there, I am always happy to put off dusting, you know, if it’s for the children and all.)

Use lunch times as “me” time. Figure out how to take a class, find a park, read good books – in other words, never skip your lunch hour. Eat at your desk if you must, but take the time to be with yourself. It is probably the only chance you’ll get all day. (As an employee who constantly keeps one eye on the phone for the dreaded “your child is sick call,” I am always trying to get everything done as quickly as possible. Relaxing in the middle of the day seems foreign, naughty almost. But I think I’m going to try it.)

Find other single moms in your area and form a group of sorts. Rely on this group for support, entertainment, babysitting, and everything else. Only those in your same situation will truly understand you. (At first, this one offended me – "Hey! I’m your friend and I’m not single!" I cried. "Yeah," she said, "and I love you to death, but you really don’t get it. No offense." So then I thought about it differently and applied to myself by thinking I would seek out more mom friends that work full time like me, have traveling husbands, no family in the immediate vicinity, and would never spend $300 on a toddler’s birthday party. This is my criteria and I know there has to be mommies out there just like this.)

While I am humbled in the presence of the true Super(single)mom, I am also inspired. Sure, their rules are born from necessity, but the lessons are still strong ones and can only help improve my balance.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Give Blood, Give Life!

So many people assume being good requires either a huge amount of effort or money, and sometimes both. As the Be Good Mom, I can tell you that I do not have huge amounts of either of these. I am constantly on the lookout for things I can do that put good karma in the air for relatively little. Donating blood is one of those things. I have been a blood donor for almost 20 years now, and in the past few years, I’ve switched from donating whole blood to donating platelets. I switched to platelets because instead of donating every 56 days, you can donate about every 2 weeks.

Don’t like needles? It’s certainly not my first choice of things to do either – get jabbed with a needle – but when I think about what that little jab does – helps save a life – that makes me not so squeamish. I hope you’ll consider adding “Regular Blood Donor” to your list of titles. Want a few reasons to make up your mind?

Facts about blood needs from the American Red Cross:

1. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood
2. More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day
3. One out of every 10 people admitted in a hospital needs blood
4. Total blood transfusions in a given year: 14 million (2001)
5. The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints
6. The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O
7. The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs
8. Sickle cell disease affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98% of whom are African American. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives
9. More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
10. A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood. See more facts on blood needs for various medical treatments

Besides being just a good thing to do and getting a free t-shirt, I also like to donate platelets because the process takes about 90 minutes, and so I stop by Blockbuster on my way and pick up a chick flick. Really, does it get better than that? Doing something for myself at the same time I’m doing something for others? What are you waiting for? Visit Carter Bloodcare for a location near you. Give blood, give life!

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Listening Jar

Megan is about to turn 3. You know how everyone claims it’s the “terrible two’s,” thus giving us first-time moms hope that when a child turns three, everything miraculously gets better? It’s a lie. A bold-faced lie. All of the moms of 3 year-olds I know say the three’s are even worse than the two’s. Right about now, I’m really not appreciating the way they gave me that false hope. Megan is as stubborn as ever, and discipline is a bit of a challenge.

One of my friends gave me an idea – a listening jar. We’re fresh out of jars in this house, so I’m using a little glass, but I’ve put 10 fuzzy balls in it, and if Megan stops listening, she loses a ball. If her listening is good, she gets a ball back. I started this on Saturday, when we had a particularly bad day. I was exhausted and needed a nap, and my child was clearly in the same boat, given her mood. But her nap lasted 10 minutes. 10 minutes, I tell you! Not nearly enough for either of us to calm down and get refreshed. The rest of the day went terribly, terribly downhill from there. So, I started the listening jar. We went out to dinner that night, and she listened very well so that she could earn some of her balls back. But of course, bedtime was a struggle, and she did her best to stall as long as possible to put bedtime off. The stalling resulted in her losing a listening ball. That seemed to really resonate with her, but perhaps it resonated a bit too much. At 3:30am, we heard her crying, saying, “I want my ball back! I want my ball back!” That’s right. She wanted to earn her ball back. At 3:30am. At 4:30am, I gave up, and she finally went back to sleep. Last night went markedly better, and she stayed in bed without a peep until it was light in the morning (which was what we told her she needed to do to earn another ball back). This morning, she was only too happy to drop the new ball into the listening jar.

So, we’ll see how this progresses. She certainly seems to be responding well, and she definitely doesn’t want to lose any of her listening balls, but something tells me this won’t be a cure-all. She hasn’t even turned three yet. It’s going to be a long year!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Can you make a wifi antennae from cedar?

Apparently, not. HighTechGreenWoodsMommy here... and I've found that even with my skills and resourcefulness, I cannot get a cedar to bring in a stronger signal out here. Sigh. I guess I can't "go green" on everything. But I try. Well, most of the time I try. The rest of the time I just fantasize about having the time to try harder. Between my full-time job, the company I'm starting, the log cabin building and my two year old, I don't always have the time to do all the things I'd like to. I'll admit, I've even thrown a couple of plastic water bottles away. I know, I know, but before you judge me too harshly, I have a carful of them right now because there's no place to recycle them out here in the middle of no-where and since we don't have a well yet, I have to bring bottled water for us.

I'll be posting from time to time as issues close to my heart come up.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Daycare Village

Daycare. That word evokes so many emotions, doesn't it? Some mothers when they hear it soften and smile, others shrink back in horror, and another group of us just remain ambivalent about it. I mean, we care. Of course we care. We send our children to daycare everyday, because we work. And we wouldn't dare leave our children someplace we didn't feel comfortable. But we don't quite know our roles as mothers of children in daycare, do we? We all know the cliché "it takes a village to raise a child," and we tend to think of our daycare centers as our own little villages, don't we?

We spent countless hours researching all the daycare centers. We rated them, got recommendations, decided on our "village," and in the first few weeks would spend extra time in the mornings making sure everything was okay. And then routine set in. A few months pass. We see new faces, and miss old ones, we get cute handprint pictures, and macaroni necklaces, but we don't have the time to stop and get involved. Most of us drop off our little ones in the morning and pick them up at night. We spend maybe a combined total of one hour a week in the place that our children spend more than forty. What do we really know about what they do all day? Well, along with being a working mom I'm also a pretty neurotic mom (really, who isn't?). While I felt comfortable with my daycare, I felt uncomfortable with the fact that I was comfortable about a place I spend no time. (Confusing sentence, I know, but confusing concepts deserve confusing sentences.)

So I decided to become really involved in my daycare. I made it my mission to really know the center inside and out. I carved out time in my schedule (who needs to exercise, anyway) and started my mission. I've spent weekends, weeknights, and some sick days (cough, cough) up at the center working on projects and carnivals and other such stuff. I got to know the staff on a personal level, and I found out what I needed to know: They love my little boy just as much as I do. Well, okay, not really, but enough so that I am now comfortable with the fact that I am comfortable.

Believe it or not, it's all about you, not your child. Shocking and unfair, I know, but these people know kids are kids. They are in their jobs because of their love of kids. They forgive kids, they teach them, nurture them, love them. But those same feelings don't automatically extend to the parents. The parents have to earn it. Here are some tips I've learned that will help smooth the way in your little village.

  • Get to know your children's teachers. Sounds simple, I know. And I bet you think you already do. So let me ask you, what are their last names? Their spouse's names? Children? Where do they live? How long have they been doing this? What's the last movie they saw?
  • Spend more time at the daycare. I know, I know, what time? Well, let's start with 5 extra minutes in the morning, and 5 extra minutes in the evening. 10 minutes a day. Not even an extra hour a week. Change up how you spend this time. One day, stay with your child in the room and chat with teachers, another day wander up and down the halls looking at the artwork or observing other rooms. Become a familiar face.

  • Bribe them with goodies. Bribe may be a bad word choice these days, but it's oh, so necessary here. Bake some chocolate chip cookies (or as I do, slice and bake, all the way), whip up some rice krispie treats, bring in a dozen donuts. Anything like that. They will love you for it. And even better if you have your children hand them over. Oh, the precious moment! It works like a charm. And then of course, wave away all praise with a flippant, "Oh, it's nothing. Just a little pick-me-up for all you do."

  • Become friends with the administrative staff. Don't just waltz right by each day. These people know everything. From the front desk person to the director, they keep the center running smoothly and rarely get much recognition for it. Remember them on teacher appreciation days, holidays, etc. 5.

  • Start a Parent-Teacher Association. Really, I'm serious. We now have one that meets once a month and we plan activities for the center, holiday parties for the staff, and discuss real stuff, such as curriculum, etc. I've made some good friends this way, and some real changes in the way the center is operated.

When I started this little mission a few years ago, I couldn't possibly have imagined that I would become so involved. But I'm glad I did. I feel more connected to my child. Which at the end of day, is what it's really about. It does take a village to raise a child, but it takes people to run that village, too. Become one of those people. You won't regret it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Knock, Knock.

Don't worry while I won't be knocking on your door anytime soon asking for a cup of sugar, I am The Mom Next Door. On this blog, I invite you to share your perspectives with me as I share my own stories with you.

I became a stay at home mom in time for the birth of my third child and have been discovering the secrets of this world since that time.

Myth 1: Now that I am at home, I will have time for all those projects I just couldn't get to when I was working fulltime in addition to working at the Mom Job.

This is a lie. An outright case of complete disillusionment. I have less time now than I did before because the kiddos are home with me ... Fulltime! While I have seen other moms venture out on a 4 hour shopping excursion, I am not that well coordinated or brave.

Myth 2: Stay at home moms have it easy and do nothing.

While I was never (and I mean never) a proponent of this silly theory, I heard it a lot. While there may be people that do nothing except eat bon-bons all day (I mean the expression must come from somewhere, right?) SAHM's are not the origin of that from all the moms I know and my experience. A typical day is an endless cycle of things that are done and must be redone multiple times within that day (wash dishes, cook meals, change diapers, etc). So while nothing is ever done, it is not because of doing nothing.

Myth 3: Women call have it all.

Yes, we can do it all. But have it all? No. There is always a sacrifice that we make when we are at our jobs versus at home with the kids. And I know first hand that the reverse is true, too. I think the best we can do is find the right balance for each of us individually and learn to support one another as a group. Long live the sisterhood of moms.

Join me as I share my insights on traversing the world of being at home, share tips for working moms, and try to keep up my juggling act of kids, life and love.

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Little Meltdown

I’m supposed to start slowing down now. My doctor thinks that, if I slow down a lot, perhaps this baby will stay put longer than Megan did. I sure hope that’s true. Although slowing down doesn’t really work for me. At all. I mean, how does a mom “slow down,” exactly? Can any of us actually sit around all day? Ever? But knowing that I’m supposed to “slow down,” and thinking about my giant to-do list, I have asked my darling husband to start giving me 30 minutes each night to tackle this to-do list. And the first night I asked that of him, he obliged without a word. Yay! I now have hours of his help each week, so this to-do list will be gone in no time, right? Apparently not. See, I forget that we sometimes need to remind our significant others about things like cleaning up clutter and doing housework. I’m not sure why I forget that, since I’ve been married for 7 years, but I do. Can I blame pregnancy hormones?

So the other night, my husband helps tuck Megan into bed while I look around the house at everything that needs a better home than it currently has. And the minute he gets downstairs, I lose it. “This house is too cluttered, and you’re not helping! You need to get rid of the clutter! Pick up the toys, because it’s really hard for me to bend down!” His response to picking up toys was, “What’s the point? Megan will play with them again and they’ll end up on the floor again, so why put them away?” Now, I’m sure that’s perfectly logical to some people, but it just slays me. For one thing, I’ve noticed that Megan tends to play more with things that are put away. I don’t know if it’s the fun of “finding” things, but if her toys are in a heap in the middle of the floor, she won’t play with them half as much as if they’re all tucked away in a basket. And for another, I would like my house to have some semblance of neatness at least a few hours a day.

If I thought I’d lost it before, I really lost it after that comment. I proceeded to make my way down to the floor, huffing and puffing, pick up the toys, and put them away, doing so, of course, while making as much noise as possible so it was quite clear that I was not happy. I’m pretty sure no one in this house needed to ask about my current mental status.

I think that part of this freak out is knowing the amount of clutter that can so quickly amass once a baby is here. And since the plan is for me to stay home with our girls once the baby does arrive, I also know that clutter is going to be mostly my responsibility to clean up. And even if I can get help with cleaning it, it will be mine to look at all day long, and stew at, and then blow up at my husband at when he least expects it. Because that’s what I do best! So, I need the clutter gone. All of it. And I’ve always been a bit of a clutter-friendly person, so de-cluttering is not easy for me. How do the truly organized, clutter-free people do it? And why didn’t I get the clutter-free gene like my sister?