The Joys of Raising Boys

Joys of Boys

It is true, raising boys is not for the faint of heart.  It is true, boys are often dirty.  It is true, boys will eat you out of house and home.  But it is also true raising boys is filled with a lot of joys.

Here is a list of why raising boys is awesome!

  •  They will always be Mommy’s little boy.  They may wrestle with daddy, but let either one of my boys get a booboo, want some attention, or just need a cuddle and they come running to me.

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  • Toys are everywhere.  Here is a rock, no it’s a dinosaur egg.  Here is a stick, no it’s a laser cannonMy boys can play with dirt for two hours and be totally engrossed.

best toy ever

  • Everything is funny.  There is nothing more wonderful than the sound of little kids laughing hysterically.  Since boys think everything is funny, and live to be comedians, our house is always full of laughter.
  • No fuss clothes.  For the day to day stuff its just jeans, t-shirts, underwear.  Boys destroy their clothes anyway so there is no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on cutesy stuff.  If we are dressing up it is a pair of khakis and a polo.
  • Hair-Dos not needed.  Honestly, my two roll out of bed, brush their teeth, and that is the extent of their getting “ready” for the day.  Once in a while there might be a funny cowlick that requires a wet comb, but for the most part, nope, not really.
  • They are fearless.  For boys there is no tree too high that can’t be climbed, no hill to high that a wagon can’t roll down, and no flight of stairs too tall to be jumped off of.  It blows my mind, and sometimes stops my heart, to watch their daring stunts.  I naively tried to stop them in the past from doing dangerous stuff, but the truth is the moment you turn your back they are going to do it anyway.  So accept it and keep a well supplied first aid kit.

gonna get you

  • There is only one Princess in the house…ME.  I am a girly girl in a house full of “guys.”  All girly stuff is mine.  I don’t have to share.  My husband tells my boys to hold the door open for me, to carry things for me, etc.  Sometimes there is something to be said for being the only girl.
  • Daddy takes them fishing, boating, to shooting practice, and archery lessons…and I get to stay home and do a facial and paint my toes!

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  • Finally, because I just can’t imagine my life without them. They are my world and I am theirs.

Please share below all the reasons you love your little boy(s)!

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The Tired Working Mom’s Guide to a Little R & R

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After working a full time job that actually pays me a check every two weeks, and then coming home to my second full time job of mom, housewife, cook, laundress, and maid (for which I receive no pay other than sloppy kisses, sticky hugs and sweet cuddles), I have learned that it is important to find little ways to pamper myself.

I’m not talking about weekends in Vegas or a day at the Spa, although those would be great.  Most of us are watching our money a little closer these days, but there are things you can do on the cheap to still make you feel special.  Most days it is rush, rush, rush and sometimes you just need for the world to slow down a bit, or you need a way to shed the work day and tell your brain that it can relax now.  So, how do you do that?

1. Buy Some Pajamas

I read somewhere not that long ago many moms don’t even own pajamas.  They sleep in an old t-shirt or their husbands cast offs.  I don’t know why, but I find that information truly sad.  I love pajamas.  I mean I absolutely LOVE them!  There is something mentally wonderful in the act of taking off the clothes you have busted your butt in all day and putting on something incredibly soft and pretty.

I’m not saying you have to go all Fredrick’s of Hollywood, after two kids I doubt I could squeeze myself in anything they sell.  Not to mention, those hardly look comfy.  For myself I adore Land’s End’s T-Shirt Nightgowns and the matching T-shirt Robes.  I admit they are a bit expensive, which is why I usually buy them after Christmas when they go on clearance.  Plus you can almost always get a code for free shipping or 10% off your purchase which wipes out the shipping cost.  I get the above the knee gowns usually because I hate getting tangled up in the sheets while sleeping.  I wouldn’t say my jammies are sexy, but they are pretty, and definitely better than sweats and a ratty old t-shirt.  Other pajamas that are wonderful I have found are at Khol’s, the Simply Vera line of pajamas are made of cotton, but feel like silk.  And the awesome thing about Khol’s is they always have coupons and everything is always on sale.  Combine a sale with a coupon and you are good to go!  Check them out if you a currently pajama-less.

pajamas

2.  Audio Books

 I love to read.  During the summer vacation when I am off work I can read a novel a day.  But during the school year I am lucky to find time to read a single magazine article.  However, my commute to work is 30 minutes each way.  So for an hour a day I am in my car, five days a week.  I look at my car as my second home since I spend so my time in it.  I have my blue tooth, my beverage, and in the morning I like to listen to the radio or to talk radio, but in the afternoon, after listening to 30 six years olds yelling and talking all day I am ready for something more peaceful.  So I go to the library and check out audio books on CD.  They are free, which is always nice, and it gives my exhausted brain a chance to decompress and just listen to a story for 30 minutes before I get home and have to start a whole new round of child induced craziness.  Since I have to commute anyways, I might as well turn it into a “me time.”

3.  Pretty Pens and Paper

Most days I am writing something down constantly, whether it is writing down lists of must do things at home, taking notes on a students academic growth at work, or writing down ideas for my next blog entry so I don’t forget it.  Maybe it is because I am an elementary teacher and just love cute things, or maybe it is because I am a girl and like girlie things, but regardless of the reason, I crave cute pens and pretty paper.

Every year my school gives me three boxes of utilitarian Paper Mate blue and black pens to use.  Every year I give them to the kids to play with.  Then I go to Staples and buy myself a rainbow pack of gel pens.  My favorite brand is Pentel’s EnerGel Liquid Gel Ink.  The colors are bright and bold, the roller ball is liquid smooth, and the ink lasts a long time.  Most gel pens I find run out of ink in about two weeks.

As for paper, I find Staples always has fancy legal pads for a dollar or two with colorful prints on top and designs at the bottom in assorted colors.  For me it just lifts my spirits a little to be writing with a fancy purple pen on pretty pink decorate paper as opposed to a black ballpoint on white loose leaf.  Perhaps it is silly, and yes I know I am a nerd, but it works for me.

4.  Make Your Own Personal Treasure Box

 Some days just really suck.  Those are the days when you fell like everyone and everything is just here on the planet to drive you bat shit crazy.  There is a car accident on the way to work so your commute doubles.  At work everything you try to do fails miserably.  On the way home you stop at the supermarket to pick up things you need for dinner, only to get home and realize you forgot one of the things you needed.  Your kids pick tonight to be the night that they are going to fight with each other over the stupidest crap all night long.  It is at this lowest of points that all you want are your kids to go to bed and to not even have to talk to your husband because you are liable to say something really snarky at this point for no other reason than you are in a mood and you might as well put him in a mood to match your own.

This is the night that you need to have your very own treasure box filled with stuff JUST FOR YOU!  If you have an actual cute box of some kind, great, but for me my treasures are in one of my dresser drawers.  So what’s in my treasure box?

Samples!  Lots and lots of samples!  I love tiny things in tiny packages.  I think because it reminds me of the fun of traveling before I had kids.  (Traveling with kids is exhausting.)

I belong to several coupon sites which forever send me links to free samples.  So I hoard them when I get them and save them for a time they are truly needed.  Samples of fancy shampoo, conditioner, lotions and scrubs are among my favorites.  I also love to buy my makeup when they have the Free Gift with Purchase.  I make a quick stop at Clinique to get two lipsticks in my favorite colors and I go home with brand new eye-shadows, blush, mascara, wrinkle cream, and scrub.  What’s not to love?  Next, toss in all those tiny bottles of bubble bath, body wash, and scented lotion you get from people at Christmas time.

Samples

Also in there is scented candles, sometimes from Yankee candle, but most of the time it is just Glade apple scented ones I bought on sale at Target with a coupon.  Apple and almond are my favorite aromas.  Most other stuff is too strong for me and gives me a headache.  Finally, what goes better with a facial and a hot bath than a couple of magazines (Victoria and Travel Mags are a personal favorite), a hidden box of Godiva chocolate you bought after a holiday off the clearance rack, and a few mini bottles of liquor to mix up a quick cocktail.

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5.  Indulge in the Things you Did Before Kids

I think most moms have a habit of forgetting who they were prior to having children.  I know for a fact I am guilty of it.  You become so wrapped up in the day to day stuff and driving your kids here and there and making sure all their basic needs are met that you literally forget about the stuff that made you who you were.

I’m not talking about going clubbing, dancing all night long, and coming home at 4:00 in the morning.  Yeah, I did that in my 20’s, but I am not in my 20’s anymore.  It is a miracle these days if I can stay awake until 10:30.  I’m talking about the small stuff.

This revelation actually came to me one night while I was watching The King’s Speech.  The boys had gone to bed and Bill and I jumped at the chance on a Saturday night to watch something free of animation and rated higher than PG.

We were nearing the end of the movie where Colin Firth is about to make his big speech on the radio.  Suddenly Beethoven started playing.  The music really captured the moment of the scene, but it also captured me in a way I had forgotten.  As the music built and built to its crescendo a stirring was happening in my heart.  All through high school and college I was a bit of a nerd, okay I was a total nerd, but I loved classical music.  Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Vivaldi were good friends of mine.  As I thought about it I realized that the last time I had played classical music was at my wedding five years prior when I marched down the aisle to PacBell’s The Canon.

The very next morning I went to iTunes and downloaded all my old favorites and now I play them often, especially when I am cleaning.  Did you know you can clean an entire house in the length of time it takes to play Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture?  The music gets the heart pumping and the extra oxygen just charges you up.  Try it, I swear it works!

After that I started to think about other things I used to love.  Poetry, drawing and  writing were among some of my passions.  I am still a crazy, busy, working mom, so I had to think small.  I don’t have time to write a book right now.  Maybe some day, but a blog allows me to express myself and is short enough for me to fit it in.  I’ll never draw a masterpiece (I don’t have that kind of talent) but a small sketch pad and some color pencils allow me to copy some small pictures or cartoons I find pretty.  Poetry is naturally small, so I can read a couple at a time and then think about them while cooking dinner.

These little ideas won’t take away all of your stress.  If they did I wouldn’t be a mommy who takes Zoloft.  But they can give you small moments of peace and enjoyment, and isn’t that what everyone says?  Make sure to enjoy the small things in life?

Don’t You Just Love Being Pregnant? Uh, NO!

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Mommies love to talk.  Get a group of mommies together in a room and we will talk for hours.  We talk about c-section or vaginal birth.  We compare delivery stories and try to one up each other on whose was worse.  Always there is the breast or bottle debate and the “to work or not to work” debate.  Next will come the stories of how long it took for everyone’s baby to start sleeping through the night.  Eventually the conversation will turn to poop, snot and barf.  Retelling stories of your child’s last bout of stomach flu will get all the other mommies talking about their pooping/barfing nightmares.

All the topics mentioned above make perfect sense to me and I have participated in all of them multiple times.  But there is one topic that makes no sense to me.  There will always be one mommy to announce that she just loved being pregnant and that it felt wonderful to know there was a new life growing inside of her.

I’m sorry, but I have to call bullshit when I hear women say this.  I know not all women experience the same kind of pregnancies, and some are easier than others, but the truth is there are many parts of being pregnant that totally suck!

I have been pregnant twice.  Twice was enough.  The first time was awful for reasons beyond just carrying a baby inside me.  The second time around I had a textbook perfect pregnancy, and I can honestly say that I do NOT love being pregnant.  I love the end result of pregnancy, holding that wonderful little baby in my arms, breathing in that baby smell, and feeling my heart fill with a love so strong that words fail to describe.  But the nine months it takes to reach that point, ugh.

The first three months my hormones went berserk.  I was weepy and whiny, constantly tired, and if I became even slightly hungry I immediately felt nauseous.    Plus, for reasons I still don’t fully understand, I needed to pee every half an hour even though the baby was the size of pea.

The second trimester you feel better, but you wardrobe looks horrible.  You are now too fat to fit your regular clothes, but your baby bump isn’t big enough to make you look pregnant, just fat.  Plus, maternity clothes are too big still.  So now you have to go buy a few pieces of “fat” clothing to see you through till you can wear the maternity stuff.  Plus, that lovely glow people say you have really isn’t a glow, but a flushed face and sweat because by month five or six you always feel hot.

The final three months brings unbearable heart burn and acid reflux, belching and passing gas, and you feel like a whale.  You can no longer tie your own shoes so you wear only slip-ons.  You also lose the ability to “groom” certain areas of your body forcing you into a rather hairy situation, if you know what I mean.  Sleep becomes almost impossible as no position is comfortable anymore, and now with the baby lying on your bladder you get up to pee five or six times a night anyway.

The only thing I really enjoyed about being pregnant was feeling my boys kick or have the hiccups.  But even that became uncomfortable by month eight when those light little flutters turned into painful kicks to the ribs.  My second child actually fractured a couple of them he kicked so hard!

I love both my boys and they were worth the discomfort, but believe me, I will not hesitate to use the “I carried you for nine grueling months and this is how you repay me,” speech if the time ever comes!

Share your pregnancy stories below; the good, the bad, the ugly!
~Tina

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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.

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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

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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.

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