Attack of the Boob Nazis

Attack of the Boob Nazis

Before I even start this post I feel I need to put in a disclaimer. I endorse breastfeeding. I would have done it myself if for no other reason than breast milk is FREE and formula used to cost me about $150 a month!!

Having said all that, however, I think some women who breast feed need to cut women who can’t a little slack. I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis. Eighty percent of women go into remission during their pregnancies. For my first child I was unfortunately in the twenty percent that didn’t. That pregnancy was beyond awful. I had to give up all my RA medicines for the sake of the baby. So not only did I have morning sickness and the less than fun parts of pregnancy to deal with, but I also had a disease that was raging out of control.

To try to control my pain and the swelling that was damaging my joints the doctors put me on high doses of prednisone. When it didn’t work, they just increased the dose. Thanks to all the steroids I was taking I blew up like a balloon. Seriously, I didn’t even look myself by the time I got to the eighth month.

My RA pain was unbearable and I was practically bed ridden from month 5 on. My legs and feet swelled so badly that the doctors and nurses felt sorry for me. My OB/GYN decided to induce my labor at 37 weeks for the purpose of getting me back on my medicine because I was building up inflammation around my heart and organs.

I had known all along that I would not be able to breast feed. The five different meds I would take to treat my disease would turn my breast milk to poison. I was not happy about that, in fact I felt a great deal of guilt over the fact that I couldn’t breast feed. All through my pregnancy well meaning women asked me if I was going to breast feed, and when I explained that I couldn’t almost all of them tried to tell me why I should. Once I was on bed rest I didn’t see too many people anymore so the topic stopped coming up, which was a relief.

Then that glorious day came. I was induced and after a long labor I pushed the baby out. After recovery they rolled me into my semi-private room and pulled the curtain. The nurse wasn’t gone even a minute before the lactation consultant (a.k.a The Boob Nazi) was pulling back the curtain and smiling at me. She came armed and ready. Six assorted pamphlets and booklets were thrust at me and she proceeded to ask me what my plans were for managing breast feeding.

I explained that because of my medications I would be unable to breast feed. She just stood there, still smiling, as if she was unable to clearly hear what I had just said. Then she asked me if I would like a consultant to come and show me how to have the baby latch. Seriously!

I repeated the whole explanation once again, this time a little slower since she was clearly not following along. This time her smile began to fade as she realized I was serious about not breast feeding. Then she actually had the nerve to ask me if I could just not take the meds, even if for just a few weeks. The whole purpose of inducing my labor at 37 weeks was to get me back on the meds, and here was this crazy lady asking me now to voluntarily not take them. At that point I picked up the six pamphlets and thrust them right back at her and told her I did not need her services and to have a good day.

To add insult to injury, during the 48 hours I was at the hospital I was visited by two more Boob Nazis, both of whom were as hard of hearing as the first lady. I was so happy to leave the hospital with my bundle of joy and return to the privacy of my own home.

When I became pregnant with my second child I blissfully went into remission and had a perfect pregnancy. However, it was recommended that I get back on my meds as soon as I delivered because once the pregnancy hormones were out of my system I would quickly come out of remission.

I was no first time mommy anymore. I knew what to expect and I was prepared. I used the same hospital, and I literally made them write on my charts while I watched that Lactation Consultants were forbidden to enter my room. I even made sure to tell the nurse who rolled me into my private room to please tell everyone and anyone that I would not be breast feeding and that I didn’t need anyone to come and explain to me why the breast was best.

I also realized the second time that I felt no guilt. Now I knew I was a good mom and I had managed to provide my children with proper nutrition while dealing with my own medical needs. Sometimes it isn’t just a good thing to put your own needs first, sometimes it is mandatory that a mom take care of herself, otherwise she will be in no shape to take care of anyone else.

It no longer bothers me when people ask me whether I breast fed or not, but I still hear it said to many other pregnant women. It seems to be the first question asked once anyone announces that they are preggers.

“I’m pregnant!”
“Congratulations! Are you going to breast feed?”

The shocking truth is it really isn’t anyone’s business. I know some people mean well and are looking out for the baby, but I also know how judgmental and superior some women like to feel over their peers. They wear their saggy boobs like a badge of honor.

To all the breast feeding moms out there I say “Good Job! You gave your child something I couldn’t give my own.”

To all the formula using moms out there I say, “Good Job! You are providing your child with nutrition and your baby is growing just as well as breast fed babies.”

Being a mom is hard. We don’t need the added burden of guilt or judgment.
~Tina

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A Crooked Tale of a Crooked Penis

A Crooked Tale of a Crooked Penis

So often I think to myself that children in general just can’t shock me anymore. I mean 20 plus years as a teacher and 12 years as a mom you’d think you had pretty much seen or heard it all. My twelve year old proved me wrong.

He was never very shy. In fact only about eight months ago he would still run around the house butt naked with me yelling at him to get in his room and get dressed. Finally, he reached the age where he realized he shouldn’t be naked in front of his parents anymore and started using a towel or pajamas when coming out of the bathroom after a shower. I blissfully got used to this new modesty and was happy my son was growing up.

So it came as a bit of a shock when he came to me and said that “something” was wrong down there. I asked him what he meant. I was thinking that perhaps he had a bit of a rash or something and was about to get the Gold Bond Medicated Powder which seems to fix rashes down there rather quickly.

“I need you to look at it,” he announced. “Can’t you just tell me?” I asked, not really wanting to look at it. “No, you have to come and look at it,” was his reply. He looked genuinely concerned so I followed him into the bathroom where he pulled down his pants. He looked at me and said rather fearfully, “I think I broke it.” I worked really hard not to laugh because he was so serious. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Look at it! It’s crooked! I broke it,” he said loudly. I looked, and yes, it was indeed crooked. It had grown as well.

I calmly told him to pull up his pants and explained that probably one side had grown a little faster than the other side and it just needed time to catch up. His reply to that was to tell me that when he peed he now peed on his leg which explained why the bathroom was always pee covered and smelled of an outhouse. Once again I bit back a laugh and told him that he could no longer just stand there and do his business that he now needed to hold it and AIM! Then, I told him if he had any more penis questions to ask his dad since he had personal experience of having a penis and that I did not.

The next day I told this story to my fellow teachers, all women, and we laughed hysterically. That day I was really glad to be a woman. I know guys are really proud of their penis but based on how many times my boys have taken a hit to it and now it being crooked, I think they are more trouble than they are worth.

On a positive note, a visit to the pediatrician confirmed what I told him.

A Low Tech Family

A Low Tech Family

My 12 year old doesn’t have a cell phone. He asks for one all the time, but I have been very firm in my reply. No, not until he is older. “But mom, all my friends have one.” My response is always the same, “Good for them.”

I know my son very well. If I let him, he would play video games all day. When I tell him to turn the game off he always says the same thing, “Just let me finish this level, or just five more minutes, or I can’t save my progress if I shut it off now…” I let him have his five minutes, and then tell him to turn it off, level done or not. If he had a phone he would live on it. He would end up on the 5 o’clock news as the child who sent 30,000 text messages in a single month. Because I want my son to listen to his teachers, look while crossing a street, and actually do his homework while in his room, he will not be getting a phone for several more years.

If something happens at school and he needs to contact me he can go to the office and use the phone. If something happens while he is at piano lessons he can use their phone to call me. If something happens while he is at a friend’s house he can use their phone. If something happens while he is at baseball practice he can use his coach’s phone. He is never in a situation where he is unable to contact me or his father in an emergency. Plus, because he doesn’t have a phone to play with he is able to give his full attention to the activities I just mentioned.

Neither of my boys have a computer or a television in their bedrooms. If the laptop is needed for homework or just to browse, then it is used in the kitchen or the family room where I can see just what he is browsing. Does this make me a nosy mom? You better believe it, but in this world of child predators my boys will just have to get used to it.

As for TVs, we have two big ones, one in the living room and one in the family room. This is for two reasons, first it keeps the family together as opposed to everyone going to their own separate space in the house, and second I can see what they are watching. As I said in an earlier post, children who see too much violence become desensitized to it. They will have their whole life ahead of them to watch whatever they want once they are older, but right now they are young and impressionable. This arrangement allows their bedrooms to be a place they can retreat to for quiet play, reading, and of course sleeping.

I know this will come as a shock to many people, but I don’t have a smart phone, and neither does my husband. Our phones can text and talk and we are perfectly happy with that. There are days when I think to myself that I would love an iPhone, but then I hear people talk about their monthly cell phone bills and I am in blown away. I have many friends who are paying for four smart phones a month (his and hers, and two kids) and their monthly bill is bigger than a car payment!

Besides, between work, blogging, Facebook, and Pinterest I already spend enough time in the day ‘plugged in’. I think I can go to the mall, the doctors, or get my hair done and survive the hour or two that I am actually away from an internet connection. If I am going somewhere and I know I will have a lot of time to kill, then I take my Kindle and read. I have one of the original Kindles that only does newsprint style books. I do love my Kindle. It is much smaller than a real book and very practical, but we still go to the library and borrow real books all the time.

Do all these rules get on my son’s nerves? Sometimes, but he is also learning a valuable lesson. When he started middle school this year I actually offered to let him have a Facebook page of his own with the condition that he friend me. He told me that he didn’t want one! He said Facebook would only cause problems because kids at school do nothing but fight and bully each other online. He actually said he didn’t want to be a part of all that drama. That was a very proud day for me as a mommy. So often it feels like I am doing this parenting thing wrong but that day I knew I had done something very right.

Dear God, Give Me the Strength to Make a Difference

Dear God

During my senior year in high school I had already filled all the credits required to graduate, but my school didn’t allow for early dismissal.  So I spent forty-five minutes a day helping out in the kindergarten and first grade classrooms.  Until that time I had thought I would go to college to be a lawyer because I am very good at debate and making a persuasive argument, especially when I am passionate about the subject.

However, working with those adorable five and six year olds was just too much fun, and by graduation I made up my mind to be a teacher.  While still a freshman in college I became a teacher’s aid working in an elementary school five days a week.  I maintained that job all through college.  Then I subbed for a year before I finally was hired.  If you add all my years together I have been working with children of assorted ages for over two decades.  Add to that mix my own two boys and I think it is safe to say that I know a thing or two about kids.

Lately what I seem to know I find more than a little alarming.  I work in an inner city school system and children are growing up way too fast, know things they shouldn’t know way too soon, and are failing to truly take to heart empathy and kindness for others.  But it isn’t just a city problem.  Just watch the news and you will know that.

My children are not perfect, but I am proud of the fact that my kids still act like the kids that they are.  It is something I worked hard at.  They play with a wide range of toys, run through sprinklers, build snowmen, and love bedtime stories.  On family movie night we watch The Sand Lot, Matilda, Peter Pan, and movies that are designed to inspire and amuse.  Sure, we watch The Avengers, Spiderman (the one with Tobey McGuire) and some PG action movies too, after all they are boys.  But my children have never seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Dark Knight, Jason vs. Freddie, and the like, not even my twelve year old.  Yet most of the first graders in my classroom have seen all of the scary movies I just mentioned and even some I had never even heard of until they told me about them.

After dinner and on weekends my kids are told to go outside.  They ride bikes, climb trees, and play with other kids in our sub.  Where I teach there is supposedly thousands of children living in roughly a two mile area, yet if you go up and down the streets you see almost none of them outside.  They are all inside playing video games, day after day, week after week, and yes, year after year, even in the summer time.

I see firsthand how children are becoming “desensitized” to the world around them.  Early in my career working with children it was normal to have two, maybe three kids in a room who were quick to shove, punch, and basically resort to physical aggression as their way of dealing with frustration.  Today, I look around at class after class and I see ten or more kids in a room who resort to that type of aggression.  Plus, the fuse to trigger those angry outbursts is shorter than ever.

I also find shocking the amount of sexual knowledge early elementary kids have.  I am talking about first and second graders knowing about a whole lot more than just kissing.  They think it is “nasty” when they talk about it but I am shocked none the less when a six year old raises their hand and starts talking out of the blue about topics that literally make me blush.  Equally shocking is how fast children are developing these days.  When I was young most of my friends and I started “that time of the month” when we were in middle school.  Girls didn’t develop womanly
curves until seventh grade or later. Today I could literally show you second graders sporting a B cup.  Don’t tell me all those growth hormones being given to dairy cows and other animals aren’t having an affect on our kids.  Girls in the third grade should not need maxi pads.

But the most alarming thing I see in children today is their lack of sympathy or caring.  If you talk to them you quickly learn that they know all the right buzz words and phrases:

“We keep our hands and feet to ourselves.

We should never bully another kid.

We feel better when we fill someone else’s bucket.

The easiest way to fill someone’s bucket is to be nice.

Calling names makes other people feel bad…”

Just because they know these words and phrases doesn’t mean that the meaning of the words have traveled farther than their brain and into their belief system, however.  Otherwise, how could a 16 year old girl in Ohio be raped by not just one but two different boys, with an audience of 60 other teenagers?  How do we reach a point where out of sixty other kids, all with smart phones, not one of them thought to use that phone to discreetly call for help?  Not one?!  Instead they all took out those smart phones and snapped pictures and created video recordings to later humiliate the girl.  Those phones were used to upload to Facebook and Twitter a criminal act that apparently didn’t seem wrong at all to all these teens.

Even the other girls at the party did nothing to help.  Remember when girls were sugar and spice and everything nice?  Don’t let the pigtails and Mary Janes fool you.  Girls today have become mean.  Think of the movie Mean Girls but only much, much worse.  Go to YouTube and search “girls fighting”.  You will get 828,000 matches for your search.  Sugar and spice?  These days it is more like vinegar and crushed red pepper.

So what do we do?  How do we make a difference?  As a parent and a teacher I can say that it starts at home.  I know you have heard it before but it is the truth.  I see my students about 30 hours a week for about 9 months and then they are gone.  In that time I work hard to teach them not just reading and math but good behavior and to do the right thing, but I can NOT change a negative attitude that has been developing for years.  I may be able to reach some of them but I will never successfully reach all 29.

Make sure you know what your kids are watching and that it is appropriate.  Limit video games to a few hours a week or use it as a reward to get chores and homework done and don’t purchase the games that are nothing but violence and swearing.  Don’t dress your little girl like a hoochie mama even if it is the fashion.  Pants with the word DIVA written across the rear end need to be left in the store.   Even if you don’t buy into a religion you can still teach your children about morals and ethics.  There are many fabulous children’s books to check out of the library to read at bedtime and talk about once the day is winding down.  Encourage your kids to be kids for as long as you can and maybe girls will be made of sugar and spice and everything nice and boys from snails, whales and puppy dog tails once more.

What No One Tells a New Parent

Casey Scream

There are parts of being a parent that is really rewarding. It is magical to see your child take that first step, sleep through the night, ride a bicycle without training wheels, give you a hug and a kiss each morning and another one just before bed. I love the smell of my kids’ right after a bath and breathe in that Johnson & Johnson smell as I give them a big squeeze. I can watch them run around outside in the sprinkler for hours.

Then there are the parts of parenthood that are shall we say, less rewarding. All new parents think the first year is the hardest. They are sleep deprived. They clean poop daily. The baby cries. Diapers cost a fortune. New parents are in for a rude awakening once that first birthday comes and goes.

There are two really big lies that are told to new parents. The first is that it will get easier as the baby gets older. It just isn’t true! The baby stage is the easiest part of parenthood. Sure, they puke on you, wake up multiple times during the night, and generate so much laundry that the laws of physics must be broken. Even with all that the baby stage is still the easiest. Babies stay where you put them. They don’t break things. They don’t demand that you give them mac and cheese for lunch eight days in a row like toddlers. You think a colicky baby is loud, wait till you have a toddler or a preschooler who gets told “no” while shopping in Target, or told it is time to go home after doing something fun like playing in the mall or sledding.

Plus, babies are still wearing diapers. Sure diapers are expensive if you go the disposable route, but it is even worse when you are away from home and your just recently potty trained child announces that they need to use the bathroom right now. Toddlers and preschoolers never give you a five minute warning. One minute they are fine, the next they are doing the potty dance and you are running around like a mad person trying to find a toilet.

So now you’re thinking it gets easier when they start school. Think again! With school comes homework, band concerts, holiday performances, fighting with friends, and juggling multiple birthday parties (Although I am famous for messing up the dates and going to the wrong party at the wrong time…twice!) Also add in piano practice, t-ball practice, t-ball games, and karate lessons. Not only does all this stuff keep you trapped in your car driving back and forth like a maniac, but it also costs a bloody fortune!! Yet, if you live in the suburbs and your kid isn’t part of some sport, some artistic or musical endeavor, or at least in boy scouts or girl scouts you are labeled a lazy parent.

DCIM100SPORT

Surely it gets easier when they are in middle school. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Sorry, let me catch my breath. Living with a middle schooler is like living with someone suffering from split personality disorder. On the one hand they are a “big kid” now and no longer need you to do things for them. On the other hand they are still “just a kid” and want you to do everything for them. The problem is you can only help them when they want you too, or you will start an argument and your tween or teen will turn into the anti-christ. But how do you know when they want you to help them?? If someone has figured out the answer to this question please feel free to share it with me because I am at a loss. The only time I know for sure my middle schooler wants my help is when he has homework, but then he tells me I am doing it wrong. I am a teacher!! You would think I would know how to help my child with his homework but not according to him.

The next big lie is that two kids are easier than one. I admit, when I had one little boy it was my job to play with him and entertain him. Now that I have two boys it is my job to keep them from killing each other. It’s not that they don’t like each other. They actually love each other a lot. But boys live to wrestle, jump down as many stairs as possible, climb trees as high as possible, and encourage each other to come within an inch of killing themselves. This year my oldest broke his nose from a tree and right now the youngest is sporting about 30 bruises on his legs. You ask him how he got them and he will tell you he doesn’t know. Last year the big one put the little one in a big cardboard box and was just about to push the box down a flight of stairs when I walked in the room and screamed! Both boys looked at me like I was the crazy person in the house.

up a tree

Also, with two children you get jealousy, competition, and five times the volume. Yes, I said fives times. You would think two kids would just be twice as loud but kid noise works on a level similar to the earthquake Richter scale. The volume goes up exponentially with the addition of each kid.

So my message to all new parents is to stock up on ear plugs, buy lots of band-aids, take a course or two to refresh your memory of all that homework stuff you forgot years ago, and learn to enjoy those good moments, and even the bad ones, because it is the bad moments you will laugh your ass off over as you retell them to friends while sharing a bottle of wine.
~Tina
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Tiny Loud Wrecking Balls

I still remember my oldest son’s third birthday. The day before, I took him to Art Van Furniture so he could pick out his “big boy” bed. He picked out a Captain’s bed that had plenty of storage underneath. He didn’t know about storage, he just thought it was cool. I also remember three weeks later crying as I scrubbed futilely at the scribbles of Sharpie marker that had magically appear all over the side of it.  When did he do it?  Where the hell did he even get a Sharpie marker from anyway?  I didn’t know there was one even in the house.  Actually I have this theory that children between the ages of 3-6 have the ability to make Sharpie markers appear out of thin air.

A year later I decided to replace the shredded and cat clawed sofa and loveseat that resided in my living room.  I purchased a chocolate-brown studded microfiber set that was gorgeous.  I selected chocolate-brown because I knew it would hide dirt beautifully.  I purchased microfiber because the salesman swore it was impervious to cat claws.  The new set was classy.  It was sophisticated.  It was the first pieces of furniture that I bought brand new just for myself.  Up until then everything I owned was someone else’s castoff.  It was all too soon attacked by a preschooler with an ink pen.  Again I cried as I scrubbed and scrubbed to remove line after line of blue ink.  Thank God after about an hour I had pretty much all of it off and the bit that was left was barely noticeable.

Tomorrow my husband and I are closing on our dream house.  It is a beautiful brick ranch with custom hardwood floors, tile and stone bathrooms, stainless steel appliances, oak cabinetry, and I absolutely love it.  Yet, I am also terrified.  I no longer have one tiny, loud, wrecking ball, I now have two, and between the two of them they can break a house as easily as Mario and Luigi can break bricks.

I look around our condo we still live in for the moment and there are gashes and missing chunks in almost every wall.  The carpet, good God you don’t even want to know how disgusting the carpet is.  There are nicks and gouges on the banisters and several cabinets.  The door to the washing machine touches the floor when you open it because my oldest decided the best way to remove a pot that was stuck in the bottom rack was to use his foot to push down on the rack as he pulled up on the pot.

I can’t wait to move into my new home, but I want to leave my two wrecking balls here in the condo.  We can visit them everyday and then afterwards head home to a perfect house free of damage.  I want to spare my new sanctuary the wear and tear and utter destruction that my two boys will rain down upon it.  Unfortunately there are laws that prevent that.  One thing I can say is that there will be NO SHARPIE MARKERS to ever pass through the front door.

Tired Mommy Survival Tricks

Survival Tricks

Over the years I have learned many coping strategies to survive being a working mom.  Little tricks to survive the rush, stay organized, and not completely lose my mind.  Below are some of the tried and true daily actions that make life a bit easier.

laundry-pile-5501. Do One Load of Laundry Everyday

I don’t know about your house, but in mine laundry multiplies faster than bunny rabbits.  Between school clothes, gym clothes, baseball uniforms, a husband who wears one outfit to work and then a different one to relax in at home, and four people taking baths or showers in the evening, laundry piles up ridiculously fast.  My trick for surviving this mountain of smelly and stained clothing and linens is to do a load every single day.  In the morning before I go to work I quickly toss one load in the machine.  I have been doing this for so long now that I can seriously grab dirty clothes, load the washing machine and throw in some detergent and fabric softener in under three minutes.  If I miss an item of clothing, no big deal, since I will just get it next time.  This way I leave the house and my washer is working even when I am not there.

2.  Turn on the Dishwasher Before Going to Work

This is similar to the laundry.  I love knowing my machines are cleaning away as I drive to work sipping my tea.  As soon as the last breakfast dish is loaded I toss in a Cascade pack and turn it on.  As for emptying, my oldest son now has that lovely task.  His chore as soon as he gets home is to empty the dishwasher so I will have all the kitchen tools I will need to prepare that night’s dinner.  Plus, doing it this way means the dishwasher is empty and ready to be filled with dinner dishes, pots and pans.  I hate cooking dinner only to find out the dishwasher is still full of clean dishes, or even worse, full of dirty dishes!

3.  Get the Right Tools for the Job

I remember when Swiffer brooms and dusters, Clorox wipes, disposable toilet brushes, and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers first came out thinking what a terrible waste of money.  There was nothing wrong with my mop and bucket, my bottle of 409, and paper towels, and if you are single, or maybe married without kids yet, its true.  But once the kids come the most precious thing on earth…time, becomes a commodity you will never ever have enough of.  If you don’t use these items yet sign up on P&G’s website.  They will mail you high value coupons.  Also, the last Sunday of the month P&G puts a pack of coupons in the newspapers.  Clip those coupons and purchase yourself wipes, a Swiffer Wetjet , and the like.  These items save you valuable time.  I remember the first time I caved and bought this stuff thinking how on earth had I survived this long without them.

4.  Oil of Olay Regenerist Facial Cleansing Cloths

After a full day of teaching, parenting, cooking, grading papers, and dealing with whatever crisis has arisen, I am practically dead on my feet come bedtime.  I’ll confess a dirty little secret.  For years I went to bed with my makeup still on.  I was just too tired to care that my pillow the next morning was covered in mascara.  I washed my face every morning and applied new makeup.  Then one day while clipping coupons from a P&G coupon insert, I saw coupons for Olay Daily Facial Clothes.  I bought a pack.  I have been purchasing them ever since.  Now at bedtime I grab my adult version of a baby wipe and in about 10 seconds I am makeup free and no more black smudges on my pillow case.

clothes cubby

5.  Buy Each Child Their Own Monday-Sunday Hanging Cubby

You can get them at IKEA, or I just ordered mine from Amazon.  You hang it in the closet, and then every Sunday I stuff the cubbies with pants, shirts, underwear, and socks.  I take care of my five years old’s and I did my other son’s for years, but he is now old enough to do it himself.  Every Sunday I check to make sure he has filled each cubby with needed items.  If certain days require school spirit T-shirts or you have to wear a school color just stick it in the cubby for the day of the week it is needed.  This trick saves tons of time in the morning.  No looking for lost shirts, no squandering time deciding that days fashion choices.  Just grab and go!

6.  Lay Out Your Own Clothes Each Night

You have probably heard this one before, but it is true.  Each night I pick my complete outfit, shoes, socks, and accessories before I go to bed.  I check the weather to see if I need my water proof coat or if I can wear my wool coat.

7.  Buy Black Pants…Lots of Them

I own 7 pairs of black pants.  Seriously.  I have some awesome jeans but I can’t wear them to work.  I have khaki pants but teaching first graders all day who use dry erase markers for assignments and are sticky from lunch time inevitably means spots and marker blotches on them.  I wear black pants to work pretty much every day.  I wear all kinds of colors when it comes to my shirts and sweaters, especially jewel tones like red, purple, and emerald.  I love my leopard ballet flats, my sandals, and my black ankle boots.  I love scarfs and toss one around my neck all the time.  But, ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am almost always in black pants.  It’s just my thing and it makes putting outfits together so much easier and for my busy mom lifestyle it just works.

8.  Deal with the Mail as Soon as it Arrives

1 blog pile on desk

Sometimes I feel like mail and paper are the bane of my existence.  I hate junk mail.  I hate bills.  I hate catalogs that just tempt me into buying things I don’t need.  I have gone to websites to try to stop it, but since I do a lot of online shopping for the sake of convenience I get massive amounts of catalogs, fliers, advertisements, you name it.  I have learned to deal with the mail on the spot or it quickly consumes the entire counter top.  I don’t even bring the catalogs in the house.  My recycling bin is in the garage and I go through the garage to get to the mail box.  Before entering the house ALL items of junk mail, or items that could lead me into making unwise spontaneous purchases (Pottery Barn, J Jill, and Land’s End) are placed in the recycling bin.  Once in the house bills are sorted and put into a folder marked BILLS.  Other items that need to be dealt with are placed in their own folder for when I have the time to sit down and address them.  In the end there is NO mail left on the counter top.  I do the same with the boy’s book bags and notes home from school.  If a note comes home about an activity it is put on the calendar with any directions we need and the paper tossed in the recycling bin immediately.  Fliers for things we don’t plan to do go in the bin or get used as kindling for the fireplace.

9.  Accept the Fact that Your Kids are Going to Watch TV

I know a lot of moms like to brag that their kids never watch tv.  Well goodie for them.  Mine do.  There, said it.  After school the oldest goes in his room to do homework, but the youngest is allowed to turn on cartoons.  This is how I manage to cook dinner and fold laundry.  Otherwise my kindergartener would be wanting my attention every five seconds and I would get absolutely nothing done.  The tv goes off as soon as dinner is on the table, and from then on we limit screen time but I am pretty sure watching some tv will not completely fry my children’s brains, and it helps to save my own sanity as well.

10.  Use Your Grocery Store Sales Paper to Plan a Week of Meals

Each week I look at my store sales paper to see what items are on sale.  I clip whatever coupons I need, and then decide what I will be cooking for the next several days, or if possible the week ahead.  Tuesday is piano practice so no time to cook, which means Monday’s dinner must be a double batch so we will have leftovers.  Friday is T-ball so Thursday’s dinner needs to be a double batch.  Just a little bit of planning can save a lot of time.  I hate coming home and everything is frozen and I have no clue what to cook.  I am not saying that never happens, it does, but I try hard to have a plan so we eat healthy as much as possible and I’m not stressing out.  I do have some emergency backups.  Two bags of Chicken Voila Alfredo are always in my freezer, as well as frozen Oreda steak fries and from Costco the 100% White Meat Tyson breaded chicken tenderloins.  Add some frozen veg and dinner is served.

11.  Buy Lots of Wine

I have GOT to get me one of these!!

I have GOT to get me one of these!!

Or vodka, or gin, or what ever special mommy juice you need for when even your best laid plans go to hell in a hand basket.

Feel free to add to this list in the comments.  As a busy mom I will never turn away from a great idea or suggestion.

The Curse of Perfectionism

The Curse of Perfectionism

I am a perfectionist. Yes, a type A, full blown perfectionist. Now you may think that is a good thing. Everything I do must be great right? Nope, you would be dead wrong! Being a perfectionist is not a blessing but a curse. I think of it as its own version of OCD. No, I don’t relock the front door 50 times a night or rewash my face several times before bed. Perfectionism manifests itself in other neurotic ways.

I was introduced into the world of perfectionism from an early age. I could read by the time I was three. That is more of an accomplishment on my mom’s part than mine, but still, I performed like a trained monkey for friends and family. In Kindergarten the teachers used to take me to the fourth and fifth grade classrooms to show how smart I was. The problem with performing like a trained monkey is you become a praise junkie. I was as addicted to praise from my parents and teachers by the age of six as a junkie is to crystal meth.

As I grew I continued to strive to be the best always.  I won science fairs,  placed in spelling bees, was photographed and had my picture in the local newspaper.  I was on the National Honor Society and Student Council. By this time there was no hope of curing my perfectionism, it just got bigger and bigger. But that was when my only responsibility was to be a good student and a good daughter.

Fast forward 30 years. Now I am still a perfectionist, but I am a mother of two, home maker, teacher, and a woman who takes Zoloft to deal with my anxiety. Yep, Zoloft. God bless that stuff. At school my classroom must be the cutest. I used to tell myself that it was because I spent so much time in my classroom. I mean, if I am going to be in there for 40 hours a week I might as well be in a pleasant environment, and there is truth to that statement. But here is another truth. I get a warm fuzzy every time a parent or a coworker or a student walks in my room and gushes about how cute it is. Praise meet junkie. The same is true with my teaching. It is not acceptable to just be a “good” teacher. Oh no, that just won’t do. I have to stay current.  I have to work hard.  I have to spend two to three hours a night grading papers and writing lesson plans.  Oh, and yes, my lesson plans are absolutely adorable with the cutest clip arts you ever saw.

Then there is the house. I can honestly say my house is not perfect, but it is NOT from a lack of trying. Honestly, with two boys and a husband who drop things where ever I just can’t clean fast enough for it to look immaculate. I am out-numbered, but still, if there is laundry I will wash it, dinner is cooked seven days a week, etc, etc, etc.

All this crazy ass perfectionism is the leading cause for why I am so darn tired. I know that. I wish I could stop. Sometimes I wish I could just not care. I’m not talking about quiting my job or suddenly having my house show up on an episode of Hoarders, but there must be some kind of happy medium. I still haven’t found it, and I am not even sure where to look for it. So in the mean time I’ll just pop another Zoloft and pour another glass of wine while I work on cleaning the parts of the house I couldn’t get to during the work week.

Three Guys Do Not Make for a Clean Bathroom

clean-bathroom

I dream of a clean bathroom that is all my own. A bathroom that is completely free of pee on the walls, pee on the floor, and pee on the toilet seat fills my imagination. I want to brush my teeth over a sink that isn’t caked daily in giant globs of bubble gum flavored toothpaste and puddles of blue foamy spit. I want to apply my make-up in a mirror that sparkles in the light, not one that is speckled with even more blue foamy toothpaste spit. I want to brush my own teeth over a sink that doesn’t have a ring of shaving cream and beard stuble in it.

Living in a house with one bathroom and three peckers is truly a nightmare. Yes, I should be grateful because somewhere in Africa there is a mother squating in the corner of a shanty, but I still can’t stop dreaming of my own bathroom.

The only thing worse than having to use this bathroom is having to clean it, especially since none of the mess is my own. I never leave dirty clothes in the bathroom floor. I never leave my used toothpaste in the sink, and after shaving my legs I always make sure that all, and I do mean all, of my leg hair is rinsed down the drain and never left for the next person to have to deal with.

Someday I will have my dream bathroom, and when I get it I plan to put a padlock on that sucker and no one but me will have the key!

But I Don’t Want Another Boy

When I became pregnant with my first child I was just so happy to be pregnant after two years of trying I honestly did not care if the baby was a boy or a girl.  Everyone kept asking me what did I want, and I repeated over and over that it didn’t matter.  I was pregnant and that was all that I cared about.  At the 5 month ultrasound the technician told me that if it were a boy I would see a turtle on the ultra sound and if it were a girl it would look like the side view of a hamburger.  I don’t know why, maybe I was hungry, but that image really stayed with me.  Sure enough, once the exam was done and she looked for the sex, there was a little turtle shape clear as day, a round shell shape with the head sticking out.  Baby number one was a boy.  My days were soon filled with Tonka trucks, hotwheels cars, dinosaurs, and everything blue.  I was a very happy mommy and my little man was the center of my world.

A divorce, several years, and new husband later, I was pregnant once more.  This time I wanted a girl.  As much as I loved my son, I was ready for pink, lace, ruffles, tea parties, Barbie dolls, and all things princess.  After seven years of rough and tumble I was ready for sugar and spice.  The thought that I might have another boy didn’t seem like a reality to me.  I looked at magazines filled with pink nurseries, I scoured Pottery Barn Kids catalogs for frilly nursery bedding and furniture.  I started looking at the cutest outfits in pink, lavendar and yellow.  I was ready for my daughter with an anticipation that can’t really be put into words.

My husband went with me for the 5 month ultrasound and I sat their patiently with my legs firmly crossed after having drank what seemed like a swimming pools worth of water as required.  I laid on the exam table and waited for the confirmation to come, that yes I was indeed having a little girl.  And then, there on the monitor appeared a familiar turtle shape.  Even before she had the chance to say it out loud I knew in an instant I was having another boy.  The bubbly technician announced a boy and congratulated us.  My husband squeezed my hand and gave me a smile, but I knew he knew.  He was only too aware of how much I wanted a girl.

I smiled, said thank you, and then burst into tears.  I’m not talking about a few tears leaking out of the corners of my eyes.  Oh no, I am talking about crying that I was unable to stop even though I was mortified to be crying in front of a stanger when I had just been told I was carrying a healthy child.  I excused myself to go to the bathroom and cried some more in private.  Then I cried all the way home where I called my best friend and cried into the phone.  I knew that this was going to be my last child.  The truth was I was an older mom now and my husband was older than me.  We didn’t want to be seventy with a teenager some day so this was it.  My one and only shot at that precious daughter was gone.  It didn’t seem fair.  My husband already had a baseball loving fishing buddy.  Where was my shopping companion?  Where was the baby that I would dress all in pink and then paint her little finger nails later when she was older?  Where was the little person who was supposed to be a reflection of me that I would share all my womanly knowledge with one day.  I was in mourning for something I had never had and now never would.

But luckily time does heal all wounds, and by the time my darling second son was born I was honestly happy to be having another boy.  Today I couldn’t even imagine my life without this precious little boy who is cute as a button and knows it only too well.  His hugs and kisses and cuddles make my day and he shares them happily.  Still, sometimes I will see a mother and daughter when out in public and I will get this crazy sensation deep in my stomach and the thought that maybe we weren’t so old or maybe we should have tried one more time will pop into my mind.  Still, a third baby didn’t necessarily guarantee a daughter.  It could have just as easily been another boy.  The fact is my family is complete, and it is perfect in its own way.  Each day is filled with love and challenges, happiness and silliness, and just a touch of crazy to keep it interesting.

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