Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Family in Need of Prayers and Appreciating Donations

Your child is in pain.

*Cue the parent's nightmare*

His doctor calls and tells you to head to the closest big hospital for testing. Scans indicate a mass. Biopsy indicates the mass is malignant.

......

If you're a parent, you may be tearing up, and we're right there with you. Lisa and I (Liz) know of a mama who is experiencing this scenario this very day. This very minute.

Except

The family doesn't have insurance.

So not only are they dealing with the stress of a new diagnosis of cancer, they're looking at medical bills that none of us can believe.

As I write this I look around my home office at the pictures of my boys and I cry. Because I don't know what to say. Because I wish I had better words than "I'm sorry." And because I wish that we could fix it. Pixy dust, magic princess wands, poof! No more cancer.

But we can't fix it (unless you're an amazing oncologist - if so, message me). What we can do is pray for the family (or whatever it is that you and yours do, think good thoughts, keep them in your heart...). And if you can, you can make a donation. $5. $10. $20. $20 can pay for gas for the family to get to the hospital for treatments. Heck, $1,000 can pay a bit of bills. Wish we had an extra $1,000...And I know most of our readers don't. But I bet you could contribute $5. Imagine if everyone did. Last month we had over 2,000 views on the blog. That could be $10,000...

I sent my $5. Can you send yours? Every little bit helps and is greatly greatly appreciated.

Friday, August 30, 2013

50 Shades of Him

Ooooohhh...yep, that's it! I think: How does he do it? Oooh, and so well!!

It's his amazing hands that know how to get into every crevice and just rub it out. He won't stop, and never gives up until he's completely done. Sometimes he sweats, it just depends on how fast he's working. I swear, my man is so determined to get it right. I can hear the water running, and I know it's piping hot. He likes it hot. Hot and steamy. In the midst of everything going on in our lives, I think 'how does he do it? He knows exactly what I want and need done. Its never the same when I try to do it myself. I mean, I can get it done solo. But why, when i have him? But, he just does it so good. He's so thorough and provides complete satisfaction. I wish you could see the sparkle in my eyes when he's done. 

He just gave me a Cleaning-gasm! In case your wondering, this is something that can only be achieved when he cleans up after dinner so I don't have to.

Yes, my man cleans my kitchen every now and then.

And that, my friends, is how you know that you truly love your spouse. When he can do the smallest things and excite me from across the room. 




Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's tough being a rock star!

My husband is a rock star. Seriously! He is music's Clark Kent or a robot (we will stick with the Superman thing, I think): he works a great job as a Navy Band musician during the day, but at night he is a freelance musician, mostly working for the awesome group The OJays. Tonight is no exception...he's already on the road into DC for an OJays gig.

It is a great gig for him! He gets to play great music with other musician friends, have a "break" from his crazy work routine, and get to do what he loves. Notice, that I didn't mention our little wolfpack on that sentence. I'm not going to lie, it is tough on me sometimes. Part of me wants to be sitting on the amps listening to the show, but the reality is that nighttime is my break from the day-to-day shuffle. I look forward to sitting on my rocking chair and devouring a novel, but it is difficult on nights that he is away on a gig. The girls know he is gone, get upset he won't put them to bed, and go through periods of wakefulness asking if he has come home yet. Sigh!

While I know that days like today are tough on me, they are doubly hard on him. He often feels like he is a stranger in our little group. He is up and out the door at the crack of dawn for the Navy, often being the first in the building, and is the last at leaving his job too. So, the sad reality is that we don't see him very much and when we do get a chance to see him....well, it feels like we're playing catch-up. It definitely puts us in a hard spot as parents, because it can get difficult to keep up with routines, and even harder to discipline. It is quite confusing for all of us. Add to his crazy schedule some nighttime gigs, and it is a whirlwind.

Good thing about this, is that for the most part we discipline the same way. Sometimes just a look is needed and that's enough to get the little monsters to behave. Where it gets crazy is that there might be things that the girls do that are allowed by me and not so much by him. Granted, there has not been that many incidents but as I write this, I remember the night where the girls asked for a quick five minutes playing with their dolls before bed. Granted, it was already a little past their bedtime, they had already bathed and dressed for bed, but they had been in the car a lot that day. I had been running errands and they were having a little bit of a hard time settling down...it made sense to let them okay for five minutes. Daddy did not agree and let them know so. Off to bed they went and it took them a whole two hours to settle down to sleep. I think the look I gave him said it all, but I didn't want to say anything out loud because I could tell he felt bad, especially after the zillionth time that the girls called me into their room to help them with blankets.

This is our norm. We try to get routines down and live around his schedule- he is on duty every day, rain or shine. It does get confusing but the thought of asking him to give up anything related to his music is something we would never do to him. It is his outlet, his gift, and he has to use it. We are so proud of him for all his accomplishments with his job, with his music, and all while providing the best life he can for all of us--he really is Superman. But, as everyone knows, even Superman has a bad day and as I see him get dressed for another gig, I feel bad for him. We've agreed though, that we are going to try our best to keep him more included in our daily successes and failures, so that he doesn't feel like he's a stranger in the house. It makes for lots of text messages, phone calls, and pictures during the day, but I'm sure he appreciates it. It makes for good stories! I mean, who doesn't want to call their Dad to tell them they grabbed a worm, or ate some delicious ice cream? We're making it work, day by day, for all of us. Just add love, laughter, and mayhem. Sounds good to me.

Have you ever been in this position? How did you include your partner in your day-to-day? 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

That One Piece of Cloth Diapering Wisdom

All three Mamas have cloth diapered at least one baby and continue to do so, so they must be doing something right! If you were to give a new mom (or soon to be mom) one bit of advice about cloth diapering, what would it be?

Robyn: Cloth diapering has evolved since the days of pre folds and diaper pins. They aren't your mamas old diaper anymore! With so many choices, brands, styles, colors, and patterns, cloth diapering is fun! It's like picking out an under-the-outfit, outfit for your little tyke. Watch some YouTube videos, experiment, fail and succeed. Plus, it makes you feel more accomplished about saving the planet, and saving $40+ each month in disposable diapers. Win, Win!!!

That cute baby is wearing a cloth diaper
Liz:
I would tell anyone interested in learning about cloth diapering that they can totally do it. I've met a few moms who say they are interested in trying cloth but are worried that they may ruin the diapers (and thus lose their initial investment in diapering). To this I say, "Honestly? There's not much that you can do to them that I can't fix." Stains? Dealable (and still usable). Leaking? There are reasons (and we can figure them out). Too bulky? There are options (specific brands) for that. Not a lot of money? Prefolds and covers. Smells? There's a reason (or two) and we can figure them out. Don't get overwhelmed and quit (or quit looking into using cloth). It's totally do-able and there are lots of resources to help you.

Lisa:
I would tell anyone that wanted to cloth diaper, that it is easy. Imagine not having to run to the store for diapers if you run out, just run the washing machine and you're set!! They come in great prints, colors, and styles, which caters to just about every lifestyle out there. You can use them at daycares that are cloth friendly, take them on trips, you name it. Educate yourself on what type of diapering system fits your lifestyle and budget, take some cloth diapering workshop classes (offered at most local cloth friendly stores), practice on a doll or teddy bear. Don't feel overwhelmed! You can do this!

Have questions about cloth diapers? Post them in the comments and we can help you!

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to School Mode – Mommy Beast Mode?

Are you in “back to school” mode? If so, be sure to check out our affiliates on the blog (the banners on the right side of the page when you view the blog). 
EcoLunchboxes are fantastic ways to tote your edibles to school (or work) – view a video from the creator of EcoLunch here to see why she created these stainless steel bento boxes. Amazon.com has an overwhelmingly awesome selection of back to school supplies (droooolll…I love school supplies). 
Zulily offers great deals on clothes (and…erm…other things that mommies might like such as mommy clothes and household stuffs). Next week you'll be able to find discounted stuff from Teva, Birkenstock, and lots of other retailers so be sure to check them out daily.
Abe’s Market has great natural food (and other) items to send your health-conscious family members off to school and work with. 
Overall, we have a great group of affiliates. Be sure to consider them when you’re making purchases. We try to make sure that the affiliates we choose are a “good match” for our readers and for our topics, so hopefully they’ll help you too. Be sure to visit our affiliates by linking through the blog (it tells 'em that we sent 'ya)!
Monday, August 26, 2013

On Getting Children to "Be A Good _______"

Today I was shopping (ok I was at Target - be quiet you) and I observed a man talking to a shamefaced little boy who focused on that spot on the floor. "Do you want to be a good boy?" the man asked him. No answer. The man repeated the question. Still no answer. So the man walked away from the child (leaving him standing in the foyer of Target alone - pretty sad sight actually).

But I'm not going to focus on that. The man's statements bring up a good question - what does being a good boy MEAN? How does one do this being a good boy thing? Can anyone do it? What do I have to do? What do I have to avoid? Some of you may be thinking, "They should know." And you know what, older kids should for sure. But when we're talking about a really small kid or a kid who is in a brand new environment, we can't say "they should know." We don't know what's expected of us sometimes even as adults. And that's what it boils down to - not knowing the expectations.

As an adult "in charge" of a child, we have to think at their level and speak at their level. I recently took my two sons (ages 3 and 1) to an atypical memorial service. I had options. I could expect them to "behave" or I could let them know what "behaving" meant in this situation and take into account their ages and cognitive abilities to understand instructions in a new situation and follow those instructions. I did the latter. As we drove to the memorial I told Sials (the older one) where we were going and what we could expect to see. I told him how we were expected to behave. There was a whole slew of kids there, so they all kind of banded together and attacked this large hill with lots of rolling and laughing and dirt and the parents (well most of them) were fine with that (but everyone was fine with them enjoying themselves). One child shied away from the others, not even walking up to the hill and watching other kids. "Be careful, don't get dirty, stay by me," I heard his mother say.

Whether we agree with her or not, she set the "be a good boy" limits for him and he did follow them. If we want children to behave, think of it as a game. I can't play if I don't know the rules. I can't play well if I don't know where the playing field is. What's allowed? What's not tolerated? How do I score? If we can't give them these bits of information, then how can we expect them to follow the rules that we haven't given them access to?

So how do you get your child to "be a good XX or XY?" You tell them how. You reinforce the behaviors that move toward the goal ("You're doing such a great job listening today. I really appreciate that."). We punish (or ignore if possible) behaviors that don't move toward the goal ("We already said there's no jumping off the bleachers, didn't we? What did we say would happen if we did? That's right, time out, so you're going to sit in time out for 3 minutes."). Let them know the rules. Level the playing field. Allow the child to play "right" instead of punishing them or chastising them for not playing right.

What behaviors have you tried to instill in your children to make them "good" boys or girls? How did you do it?
Sunday, August 25, 2013

What We Learned This Week (August 25th Edition)

Do these weeks fly by for anyone else? It seemed like it was just yesterday we were writing one of these things. So without further adieu, I give you...the Mamas.


What did you learn this week?

Lisa:

I was able to enjoy a little bit of down time from the move and went with the family to the Renaissance Faire. We had a blast! The Sailor and the girls got to ride on an elephant together, the girls got to hold a snake, we ate yummy food, and took a picture with King Henry and Queen Katherine. I got to see the Sailor smile a lot and that was worth all the money in the world! He has been having a tough time being busy and it was nice to see him let loose a bit.

I splurged a bit and bought Cubby a little gift for his arrival in December. This is HUGE because I am a wee bit superstitious, and I generally wait to see if everything is completely all right before I go nuts nesting. All is fine with the bloke, so I figured it was ok to get him a little something to match his old man once he comes out.

I learned that I still love back-to-school time. I got a rush out of walking into the school building and seeing all the classrooms ready for the children...until I remembered that this is the year that both girls will be out of the house for most of the day. Then, I got a little sad. Banshee will be attending a morning preschool and Pixy will be in Kindergarten. What will I do after I drop everyone off?! Aaaah! I quickly recovered as I will still have a new house to put together when the girls are in school, but it was just another new beginning to think about. Bittersweet those new beginnings, eh? ;)

Robyn: 

There IS hope for my teenager! He started showering (regularly, YAY!). For clarification, I mean normal showering. Like, stepping foot INTO the shower, soaping up the ENTIRE body, and thoroughly scrubbing his head. (Not just the hairs, you must wash the scalp, dude!) This used to be a daily struggle. His argument was 'you never told me that'. Gee, would you like me to be in the bathroom and SHOW you exactly how to bathe? Didn't think so. We dyed his hair (goth black was his choice) and now he's ready to start high school. I cannot confirm or deny anything about the basket of strategically placed condoms on his dresser with a candy bar with a note saying: "Be safe, or you will be kicked to the Milky Way" 

Tomorrow is the first day of school! (YESSSS!!!!) It's really bittersweet, because its not that I want the cute little turds to be out of the house. Okay, who am I kidding, that's half of it. But the other half of it is that I learned about myself. I realized how much I miss making them treats for when they get home from school. Seriously, what's better than coming home to the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies on the first day of school? Uh, maybe seeing those suckers on a plate with some milk at your place at the table?  Best way to sit and do homework yo! 


Both Sean and Kasen are a little too young to completely comprehend the concept of breastfeeding. Wow, say that 3 times fast. Well, they don't know the schmatics. Like, that milk actually comes out of nipples to feed babies. They just know that their sister gets hungry. She cries. Mommy covers up with a blanket. About 10 min later, Reagan emerges again and TA-DA, now she's happy!  I'd hate to scar my kids for life, so I'm not gonna show them specifics with my own jugs. This week, Sean saw Reagan with just a diaper on. He lifted up his shirt, pointed to his nipples and said "Baby has mine right mom." Yes, Sean. Reagan has nipples just like you. "She want to eat like  mwah mwah," duck face in full force. "C'mahhhhhhhn. Lemme try. I can do it". Ah, crap! *Dont over-react (I told myself) he's just trying to help.* Nope son, Mommy's got this. "Why?" There's not enough money in the world for the life-long counseling you both would need. Love you buddy.



Liz:
This week has been what we call "Faculty Week." It's a week of meetings and short blocks of time (snicker) for faculty to prepare (prep) their classes that start next week. Monday was a 3 hour meeting, Tuesday 1 hour, Thursday 2 hour, and Friday 3.5 hour. I was trying to make sure I stayed on my running schedule as well (and pick up little boys by 4:30). So more than once I considered skipping meetings to prep classes. But I didn't and I'm glad I didn't. During Friday's meeting I was awarded an Excellence in Teaching award - imagine if I hadn't been there. I'm sure my office mate would have yelled from the back of the auditorium, "She's in the office prepping!" Note to self. No skippy meetings.

I re-learned I have massive respect for (good) daycare providers. These people amazingly patiently hang with our Littles for hours a day. I took the boys to the Children's Museum for 2 hours with 3 other adults and I am nap ready.

I wanted to take a minute to recognize our amazing readers, friends, and family members. We were nominated for a blogging award last weekend and started off in 49th place (out of like 52 blogs). We're now in 8th. You. Guys. Rock. Keep up the amazingness.

What did you learn about life, yourself, your family, or anything else for that matter this week? If it's funny we especially want to hear it. We like funny. Be sure to leave your story in the Comments at the end of this post.

Don't forget! If you use BlogLovin, be sure to follow us (and if you don't, you should, it's a pretty cool program). Vote for us at the Circle of Moms and on Picket Fence blogs to share the love of snarky parenting. All of the buttons for these can be found on the left.
Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Haunted Baby Monitor

It's the witching hour, 3am, and a male voice that wasn't my husband's woke me up. This had been going on for a while, and just when I was awake enough to investigate, the voice would fade away into nothing. Talk about living in your own personal horror movie.

It took me a while, but one night, I managed to stay up and wait for the voice. The clock struck 3:00am and bam!! Like magic, the voice came through the baby monitor. Did I panic? Nope. Mainly, because I could see the girls' room from my room and I knew no one was in there. I quieted my breathing and I solved the mystery. My baby monitor was picking up radio waves and the voice I was hearing was a DJ from Tennessee!!! Unbelievable, right? After the initial shock wore off, it was actually a lot of fun listening to the show as I drifted off to sleep.

Next night,as a storm raged outside, I heard something else coming over the baby monitor. It was a radio station from Cuba. That night was beyond wonderful. I listened to music that reminded me of being back home in Puerto Rico, and the soothing tones of people speaking Spanish from the Caribbean. It is completely different in its tones, rhythm, and meaning. I fell asleep listening to old school boleros and I had the sweetest dreams ever. This was awesome, I was hooked! I needed to wake up every night and listen to whatever was streaming through my monitor.

Since it was raining, I figured that the next night, I would pick up the Cuban station again. I was disappointed because I got a station from Kentucky. It was mostly a talk show, but I did listen for a bit. It quickly turned into a habit, this nightly surprise over the monitor. I really did look forward to waking up at 3am and listen to whatever was streaming live. It was fun!

Of course, every once in a while, I would cringe because I would read articles on how baby monitors would pick up random phone conversations, or in the case of the video monitors, someone else could peek in on your baby. If I was hearing radio stations over my monitor, were other people hearing things over theirs?

Truth is, I didn't worry about it too much. I talked to a friend of mine who likes to use old radios to listen to radio shows from all over the place. He said that at one time, he would drive to a special spot up on a hill just so he could catch a different station from his car. Talk about a fun night!!

Am I gonna go out and get a radio? Not yet. I think I will use my monitor as my tool for now. It has many uses: listening in on the girls to make sure they're ok is a huge one. Maybe eventually, I might turn this into a real hobby. For now, I will just wake up at 3am and listen in on whatever station my monitor happens to catch. I'm crossing my fingers that tonight is the night that I catch that one station that's strong enough to be "caught" by the monitor every night. I love listening to the radio...even if it is an unconventional one.

Do you have a nighttime routine or something that helps you sleep? What is it?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Vote for Us! And Win a Tablet...? What?!

The Mamas feel so blessed. We've been nominated for the Top 25 Southern Mommy Blogs from Circle of Moms. Voting ends September 5, and we need your help to reach our goal of being in the top 5 (or heck, even being #1). So how do you help? Super quick vote as often as possible (up to once per day). Go to Circle of Moms and scroll down until you find us, then click vote. Easy peasy right? We appreciate you!

Now here comes the "win a tablet" part. We're working with BlogSetupGuide.com to bring you an awesome opportunity to win a Google Nexus 7 (the same tablet Liz has). We're really excited for this opportunity, and hope that everyone enters (you can't win if you don't enter, right?). Click here to enter.

Once you've voted and entered, comment at the bottom "done" so we know who to thank!
Thursday, August 22, 2013

Does that make me crazy?

Road trip? Just the hubby, baby and I? Overnight? Baseball game? Sign me up coach! 
Wait..Scurrrrrt (tires screeching) Hold up!

As I start packing, this is what runs through my mind:

Wait, holy (insert favorite 4 letter word) do I have enough outfits and jammie's for Reagan? OMG what if she leaks through. Okay, I'll need atleast 3 more pairs. *Run back upstairs* What if the sun is in her eyes in the car? Crap, can she get sunburned through the windows of the car? Is that even possible? Car manufacturers must think of these things while building cars. Okay, think trip, Robyn...on the way out tomorrow, we'll need sunscreen too, just in case. Plus wipes because all we use at home is cloth ones, not disposables. We still need to look for a baseball T-Shirt to support my Texas Rangers, too. Geez, I should just go to the store now. Just suck it up and go this late at night. Oh wait, it's tax free weekend. The crowds will be insane. No getting in and getting out of these stores when Mexico has migrated up here for the weekend. Seriously at 9 at night, I'm sure there is a line of weirdos at Walmart with shorts on with their cheeks hanging out. Nope, not the ones on their faces! Butt cheeks, and maybe some frontal cleavage hanging out too. UGH! I almost lost my dinner. Something tells me 'bootylicious' is written across the cheeks of those daisy dukes (look a likes, posers!) in purple glitter that has been thru the wash too many times. Their all faded and straight up on a nasty mess of a girl who thinks she is sexy. Really, just a bath would make that retchet thing climb a notch up on the nasty tree that she's hanging from. Plus, there's bound to be only one teller open. You've seen her, and you get stuck in her line when you're in a hurry. It's that slow, retired, elderly woman who (moves like molasses) has a night job just so that she can talk to someone else besides her husband. She's so slow, it's like watching paint dry. It's torture!!! I'm sure she's been married for 60 years. She's done with snuggling up to her husband on the couch like during the 'newlywed' phase of marriage. They both have separate recliners on opposite sides of the living room now. He's going blind, she's nearly deaf. They battle back and forth of "WHAT?"'s and "SPEAK LOUDER YOU OLD BAG!" The two eat in silence at Jim's (best breakfast in Texas BTW!) 5 days a week. Wow, I never ate dinner. Sheez, I'm hungry! I could totally go for a western blend breakfast taco with a side of buttered hash browns and a cup of fresh strawberries with bananas tomorrow morning. That with a cup of coffee (decaf, remember? Still BF and want baby to sleep on the road trip tomorrow)mmmmmmmm...

Then, the thoughts just cease. I must've passed out on the couch, because I wake up in a pile of drool and a dry mouth from keeping it open (and probably snoring) for who knows how long. Thank goodness I didn't wake the baby! Better creep up the stairs, and snuggle with my hubby (who I can also hear snoring once I open the bedroom door), and relax before our first out of town trip with our daughter.

Maybe it's more exhausting for mommies just thinking about the mini vacay than actually going on it. Am I the only one that thinks like this, or is it validation of me actually being branded as crazy? 

Mommy note: **Everything went perfectly to plan on Reagan's first road trip! She even slept through the night! We had a blast while the boys got to get spoiled (rotten) by their grandparents**
Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Techy Parent and Techy Policies

I'm the type of person that loves my tech...sometimes too much. Macbook Pro, iPhone 5, Google Nexus 7 tablet (what no iPad?!). While I've never been an early tech adopter, I'm a "pretty quickly" adopter, so I've tried a lot and I'm also willing to let something go if it's not meeting my needs. I have, let's just say, a very active eBay account. If something doesn't work for me, it goes. I won't sit on it (except my first Dell laptop which is a useless paperweight which I still can't get myself to get rid of).

As a parent and a parent who thinks about how they parent intentionally, this brings up a good question - how do you juggle tech and kids? Do you put policies in place (no cell phones at the dinner table), do you have "times" (cell phones only after the kids go to bed), do you integrate tech (even the kids have their own iPads and can order kiddy Netflicks if they so choose)...there are lots of options and lots of questions that you wrestle with as a parent. I really try to think, "What am I teaching my sons by doing this?" If I'm watching a movie with them and am on Facebook messaging with the other Mamas, what am I saying to my 3-year-old?

My personal policy is to try to avoid social media type tech when my kids are awake and playing with me. If they're playing together I may hop on my phone and check FB or my email (especially over the weekend when my students have these huge horrific problems - I call it "being on fire" and Mike jokes that I have to check to make sure my students aren't on fire). If they're napping...usually I'm napping, but if I'm not I can be found working on a blog post or cruising mommy blogs.

What I don't want my kids to learn is that this "other stuff" comes before them. Now, don't get me wrong, if I'm typing an email to my Dad and Silas comes up wanting something RIGHT NOW I will definitely give him the, "I'm typing to Grandpa and will be done in one minute. If you can wait one minute, I will help you. Thank you for being patient with me." But unless absolutely necessary I never want to appear to my kids that "this thing" is more important than what's going on in front of me or around me. I want to be as present as possible, especially right now when these little boys have such amazing stories to tell me.

What's your parenting and tech policy? Do you think technology has influenced your relationships with your children or spouse for the better or for the worse?
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy"

The title of this post is from a book I (Liz) read to my kids about sleepy animal babies ("Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy" by Denise Fleming, $14ish at Amazon.com). It's supposed to lull them to sleep I think. But they're not feeling it. But whenever I read it, I think about how sleepy parenting makes you and how we do stupid stuff when we're so sleepy. Have you ever been this sleepy? Read on...

"I think the #1 most tired I've ever been was when Silas was a baby and he was still sleeping in our bed on our chests (so maybe 3 or 4 weeks old). He was actually, that night, sleeping in his bassinet by the bottom of our bed. He woke up and cried. I gingerly picked up the baby from my bed and passed him to my husband because it was his turn to quiet the crying baby. Both of us became frustrated when the baby didn't quiet. That's because 'the baby' I'd just passed Mike was a pillow, and Silas was still crying in his bassinet." - Liz


"The sleepiest I've ever been...was shortly after Pixy's third month. I
woke up during the night to use the bathroom. The baby started to cry and I was lolling asleep as I was sitting on the toilet. I still don't know how I did it, but I managed to walk to the nursery with panties around my ankles and pick up the baby. Sailor woke up to figure out what I was doing, because he heard the toilet flush and the baby stop crying, but we were not in our room. He ended up laughing at me. It took me all of two minutes to figure out what was so funny. His laughter, though, kept the baby awake. Fun times!" - Lisa

"You know what real sleep is? Like hours of interrupted bliss and the. waking up while smiling from an amazing dream, while the sun plays peek-a-boo into the window with you. Well, after a long night of couch dozing, Reagan wouldn't fall into real sleep. Hell, she wouldn't even fall into an hour of fake sleep. (She's a newborn, remember?!) She fussed and fussed. Mike had given her Gripe Water and it seemed to relieve gas in her belly. At least that's what I picture is little ninja's popping bubbles with their swords once she swallows a dropper full. So, she started crying after a feeding and I ran over to the kitchen counter to find half the dropper still full. I instantly put it in her mouth and she swallowed. As I'm in the darkness,  I peer all squinty eyed and see something move on my counter top. Ah, sugar ants...why would we have.... THE GRIPE WATER! It's sugar water and that's what those mooches are after!! There was a little black spot when I had put the dropper into my baby's mouth but didn't think anything of it. Omg, AN ANT!!! I'm horrible, I fed my baby a sugar ant!" -Robyn



You know you have a story. Share. Make us all feel better. Did you make sandwiches with just mayonnaise? Did you send the kids to daycare with no diaper on? Share your story in the comments at the bottom.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

We Want YOU

This is new.

This is exciting.

The Mamas are getting all techy-techified on you. (Not really...well for us maybe)

You see that link down below this? Click on it. It will take you to a page where you can sign up for our mailing list. How cool is that? No more pressing F5 to refresh your page all day to see if there's a new post. You'll get it in your email. Sa-weet!

Mama Around the House email list

Click it.

You know you want to.

Why should you? Well, that's an awesome question. Because we have plans. Big ones. (Stop thinking about boobs). And we want you to be invited. But only email subscribers may be invited to some of these smokin' hot parties. Parties with prizes.

I like parties, you think. I like prizes.

Well click it. 


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Things We Learned This Week (August 18th edition)

The Mamas are back with what they learned this week. In no particular order they are...

Robyn:

1. Sean made a new best friend with a frog he found. I know this because he asked if his friend could come inside. He proceeds to come in with his hands behind his back, head to the side, and til-toe'ing (I think to try and go unnoticed.. "Nice try mister. Where's your friend, Sean?" He opens his hands literally 2 inches from my eyes and yells "TA-DA!". Whoa kiddo! Now, we get to work on a personal bubble lesson :) He grabbed a bug jar, and headed out the back door. When he went to revisit him later that afternoon, he learned a lesson. Frogs that are left in a jar in Texas heat end up looking like tanned leather! Yes, my son fried his bestie. Instead of offerering to have frog legs for dinner, i offered my motherly version of a service. We had a burial with plastic shovels and a tree limb cross... RIP Froggie. BTW, Kasen is still upset and crying about their loss.

2. Halloween e-mails have been flooding my inbox this week. Not to mention any names...*Ahem* Spirit Halloween *Cough*... 3 emails a day is too much when were still trying to focus on back to school at the moment. Seriously, calm your pants down.

3. When your teen is in their room with the door closed: always, always, ALWAYS knock. Then, WAIT for a response before entering. Some things cannot be erased from a parents'mind.

4. Lastly, I started wearing pre-pregnancy shorts this week. Well, let me clarify. I wear them around the house ONLY. The muffin top is too big to go public, but I consider it motivation to eat the right stuff. It's easier to eat fat foods (woot woot for cheesecake!) in fat pants (Victoria Secret sweats, anyone?) than fat foods in skinny shorts (dont wanna bust those Jessica Simpson forever cuff shorts at the seams!) BUT, id rather be a skinny biotch than natty fatty, so here's to almond butter and celery sticks, folks!

It was a rough week, but nothing that a long run and a beer can't fix. Here's to this week!

Lisa:

1) Took a trip to my happy place, Amish Country in PA, and went completely unplugged. It was so refreshing. We all rebooted, ate delicious food, played with our friends, and had a blast.

2) The spawn are ready for school. They have all their supplies, their clothes and shoes....now, the incessant whining to get to school NOW has begun. Not sure whether to be happy or just shake my head at all of it.

3) Sailor has started to play with my baby bump every single time he enters the room I am in. He shakes the tummy and tries to get Cubby to move around, which always works. They're banding together already. Very, very dangerous!

4) Never assume that your littles don't eavesdrop on your conversations. They seriously know everything. I overheard the girls mentioning to the Sailor my plans for his birthday. They told him everything: dinner plans, presents, special day trip or something....ALL of it. Lesson: close the door or wait until they're napping. Meanwhile, I have to find a way to change all birthday plans, so the Sailor is surprised still. Sigh!

Liz:
1) The easiest way to get Silas to eat something is to threaten to eat it yourself.  Obviously this only works if I'll actually eat it.

2) If you don't want an infant to play with something, ignore their attempts to play with it otherwise they'll find the value you do in it and continue to go after it. My friend Michelle has an amazing tea set from her travels on a low shelf. Silas broke a cup 2 years ago. Sage is after the rest. Incessantly.

3) It's not really something I learned, more of something I remembered this week: I miss my friends in Victoria. Being here for a little bit makes me remember what it was like to have lots of people around to talk to and hang out with <3

4) Silas told me this morning, "I can't have a banana! I'll get big!" That's the goal right? So don't eat bananas, you'll get big. Then as Mike was walking in from just waking up Silas said, "Look! It has a 'dicker for me!" meaning the sticker on the bananas. Ummm, he started. "Sticker babe."

What did you learn this week? Anything fun? Share it with us! We love to learn new things too.
Saturday, August 17, 2013

My wool dryer ball frustration

I think the scream I let out as I opened the dryer door probably frightened the neighbors. It happened again!!! My wool dryer balls unwound and practically disintegrated into my dryer. I usually have 6 in there, but now its down to a lonely 3...clearly not enough. Man! I really didn't want to send off for another bunch of them, as all the ones I've been getting have had some issue with them. If you had asked me this afternoon, I would have said 'forget this Eco-crunchiness, I'm gonna let the dryer take up its whole drying time!'. Silly of me, right?

Truth is, I was disappointed because I have really tried to remain Eco-friendly throughout the years. I have microfiber rags in the kitchen(I still use paper towels but a roll lasts me a while), cleaning products that are safe for the environment(i even use some old time fixes: basil leaves as ant repellent), we cloth diaper our children, use natural light during the day and rarely use the lights--you get the idea. So, having been told that wool dryer balls would lessen my drying time, therefore reducing the amount of energy I used, sounded really good. I jumped in and found that they really did help drying time, especially on thick diapers! It all went pretty well for about 3 years and then...the unraveling began, the loss of fragrance in the dryer ball...you name it! Everything was wrong. I hadn't changed my drying routine or my washing routine, so what was going on?

My frustration was quietly building up. Yes, I was frustrated at the dryer balls, but I was also frustrated that I was all worked up over wool dryer balls?! Who is this woman and what have you done with the real Lisa? Sheesh! I was watching my budget on household supplies vanish on dryer balls. They come in different colors, sizes, some are felted, some are just natural and wound. The options are endless and sometimes, overwhelming. No wonder there's all this frustration in the air.

I really didn't know what else to do but give up on this Eco-friendly adventure. Until...in a conversation with the other Mamas around the House, which I swear could have been written by Mel Brooks, I found out that I wasn't alone. The wool dryer balls were failing them too! Haha!! I really did feel relief at that, as silly as that sounds. It was a legitimate concern for other people as well. I wasn't hyper focusing on something small. Yay!

 So, how does a MATH(Mama Around The House) deal with such a huge problem? We buy a whole bunch of dryer balls  and test them out, then share the results. I hope that I find a solution to my dryer ball problem soon. I also hope that I haven't lost my edge. (Confession: I am listening to Type O Negative as I write this, just in case I've gone soft. Haha!) Has having children changed me so much that I worry over things like wool dryer balls? Probably, I guess I'm not sure. What I do know, is that I will be doing some product reviewing in my future, so I can find the right product for me. That must count for something!!

Have you tried to be Eco-friendly? What has worked for you? Has having children made you Eco-conscious? 


Friday, August 16, 2013

Your Exercise Play List

Last week we asked readers on our Facebook page to participate in an activity where we asked people to give us a list of their favorite exercise/running songs. Here's the list they came up with.




Kelly Clarkson- Stronger
Sabotage - Beastie Boys
DJ Khaled - All I do is win
Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins
Reel 2 Real - I like to move it
Pink - Fun house
Taylor Swift - Trouble
Eminem - My First Single
C&C Music Factory - make you sweat
Champion by Kanye West
Party Rock Anthem
Black Eyed Peas - Pump It
Sevendust-black
Sandstorm - Darude
We Own It (2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa)
Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke
Bowling for Soup - 1985
John Mellencamp - Hurts so good


What would you add to the list? What gets you moving?
Wednesday, August 14, 2013

On being "The other parent"

Confession time! Well, maybe just one! At 18, I was young, dumb, stupid and thought the world owed me something. I had that 'I can't wait til I can get my own apartment (with what credit at 18?) land an awesome job (with no education?), buy a new car (with tip money from waiting tables?) and be on my own. What was I thinking?! That was the problem: I wasn't.

Fast forward 10 years. Every Thursday night and every other weekend, my boys (from a previous marriage) get to spend time with Bio dad. Fortunately, he is actively involved in their lives. He attends parent teacher conferences and sports games. Unfortunately for me, he spoils them rotten. The boys run the house at their dads. They climb on counters to get suckers, start fires in the grill just to put them out with a water hose (grr...so much for us teaching fire safety!), and eat dinner in separate beds while watching their iPads. They tell their dad and step-mom how the weekend will go. "I want to do this. I want to go here. I want a Red Bull..."( I was livid when I got that phone call!) Then, they get every single request granted. They get every over-sized plush toy and trendy accessory out there. When one of their pillow pets breaks, the Bio's reply "Oh, we'll just get you another one" I can't forget their birthday presents? Kasen got an iPhone at 3, and Sean got a digital camera at 5. (Eye roll) My boys get to spend their summers at theme parks with wind in their hair, daily mall visits, and swimming pools at water parks. Every year, it's season passes to a theme park just to visit the pool. No doubt a great way for them to cool off on these hot summer days! The repercussion? Sean loves repetition and has anxiety when something isn't in his normal daily schedule. When we all try to make a day of Sea World to see the animal shows and eventually land in the water park, Sean freaks out the moment we walk in the gates. He repeats "We go to the water" from the instant we get there, and doesn't understand "Not right now". Even "First, 3 animal shows, then the water" doesn't work. This causes more anxiety and over stimulates his senses. He goes into sensory overload, and nothing can calm him down. We usually end up leaving the park shortly after. Meh. 

When they come home even from a weekend of free reign, it's usually a 48 hour adjustment period. Their manners are out the window. They don't want to follow our rules. Just because they don't 'want' to do somethings at our house...doesn't mean JACK. For example, bringing toys to the dinner table just isn't allowed at our house. That time is family time. No TV, no phones, and definitely no toys at the table. But, they always try to sneak them by. Our lives are busy enough with picking up and dropping off kids at sports, ROTC practice, Choir camp, and boy scouts. (Hello taxi Mom!) This is the one time a day to gather, pray and get quality time in. After all, it's our job is to raise smart and productive children. Therefore, we have to be the mean ones. I don't let them forgot how to use 'sir' and 'ma'am'. I say no to TV watching for more than an hour at a time. I tell them to go make the outdoors be their iPad. (Just plain mean right?) They are reminded to put their plates in the dishwasher, pick up their toys, clean their rooms and make their beds. Chores? Yes, they have them. Mowing the grass, taking out the compost (for the garden), and sweeping the floor are all done once a week. They don't get daily shopping trips, or new toys because they were 'a good boy today'. They get weekend trips to the beach, and family vacations to Disney World for having integrity throughout the year.

It must be hard to live with two sets of rules as a child. Knowing that you get everything you ask for at one place, and getting everything to sustain you at another. Hearing 'I want to go to dads' from my kids when they are in trouble is rough. It breaks my heart because we can't be the 24/7 fun house. Our home has to be structured, have rules and I have to be more than just their friend. Mike and I provide love, encourage creativity and teach them how to entertain themselves. We are truly the lucky ones. While someone else can only buy the memories, we get to create them. 

What experiences have you overcome while trying to co-parent from separate households?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Stress, moving, and cardboard boxes...

I hate cardboard moving boxes! They smell odd, they take up a lot of room, and they mean change even if they don't always mean that there will be a move going on. I am in the middle of the biggest moving project ever. Three houses: move my mom's stuff out of her house, move our junk out of ours, and move it all in to the new house we bought for our growing family. Did I mention I am pregnant? Yup, this is going to be interesting.

Yesterday, we completed the move out  phase on my mom's house. It was a bittersweet moment, as my father had only passed away 5 months ago, and lots of memories are attached to that place. We cleaned it, moved boxes out, and with a lot of help got the furniture into a pod. It really was therapeutic because we purged a whole lifetime (and then some) of stuff out of that house. To say that I never thought there was that much stuff is a lie. We all knew that my old man was a packrat and when I got moved out of the house, he decided he had carte blanche to stuff the place to the hilt. He never listened to my Mom's requests to clean up, because "he marched to his own drum, basically". There was some collateral damage, as Pixy decided to color on the newly painted walls for no reason: "They needed a pop of color". Sigh! But, it is all done and the house is ready for new occupants.

I walked through the shell of the place, spraying room spray to get rid of the cardboard smell, and made peace with the house. I remembered reading somewhere that every house is a living thing, and you need to talk to it. I also remembered reading that there are little creatures called house brownies, whose job is to take care of a home for you. Even though we don't reside in Ireland, I didn't want to take any chances and talked to the house, let it know our plans for the future. The Sailor thought it was a good idea, and as he worked, he patted the walls here and there. This was a huge feat because there were a lot of boxes, so he probably did this a few hundred times. All three of us, my mother, the Sailor, and myself, kept saying that we were swimming in our version of cardboard purgatory. It is now done..what do we do with ourselves? It was hard to have our thoughts move on to the other house. We didn't get to relax at all.

No rest for the weary, though. We now have to work on moving this house into the new one. It is going to be yet another monumental task and I am finding that my nesting routine is going into overdrive. I am so completely overwhelmed by it all and the pressure to have it all done, that I can't organize myself to think 'MOVE', when all I think about is 'this is a lot of work'. So, there are over 30 boxes that are still left to be packed up and sealed, with a lot of miscellaneous things to give away or throw out. It is enough to make me scream.

Instead, I decided to start taking it one day at a time. Today, I registered Banshee in her new school, we drove by the new house to make sure the girls saw it, we even had lunch near the house to learn a new route! I checked off a few things on my list and I found I could breathe a little bit better, even if I can't really nest until we get to the new house. Hopefully, this new routine of taking it a couple things at a time, will really help me out to destress. Even though, let's face it, moving three houses and getting two little girls back-to-school, all while pregnant...yeah, it is enough to make anyone's head spin. Here's hoping I handle the rest of this with grace. Ha! From the looks of things, the girls and the wolves are doing the best. The rest of us really could use a vacation!

What have you found has helped you during times of stress? Have you ever had huge changes one after the other? 
Monday, August 12, 2013

Quick! Cook This!

Cooking. Something many adults hate. One thing I hate about parenting (and being an adult really) is food decisions. I hate deciding what to eat. I hate grocery shopping. I hate cooking while trying to entertain children (helloooooo NickJr). I would be perfectly happy ordering out pizza every day...probably for a week. But you get my point. Cooking and related behaviors no bueno.

UNLESS.

Unless I have a great recipe which means it's easy and requires fewer than, oh, five ingredients (remember, la-zy, say it with me). I'm constantly trolling the internet for easy yummyness. Thursday I was in luck - I scored two quick recipes off Twitter by 8 am! Go me! So I paired them together and voila, adult dinner!

Zucchini fries. Eat them.
Taco Pockets. Super yum and easy
So check these out. First, baked zucchini fries from My Organized Chaos. 8 ingredients, super easy, and super tasty. I made the mistake of only making one baking sheet full - don't make that mistake. Cook the whole zucchini or it will end up looking like this before dinner's served. 

Second, Taco Pockets from To Be Thode. Four ingredients. Super simple.



What are some of your favorite quick and easy recipes? Share in the comments!
Sunday, August 11, 2013

Things We Learned This Week (August 11, 2013 edition)

What have the mamas learned about life, parenting, and the mix this week? Read on. At the end feel free to add what you've learned by adding a comment - we'd love to hear from you!

Robyn:

1. Forceable love

My 14 year old son, Bailey, and 5 year old son, Kasen, have had some difficulty getting along lately. They bicker and complain constantly (ex."He hates me" "No I don't" "Yes you do" "No I don't" "You said you did" "No I didn't") I now know how my mother felt all those years that my brother and I did the same thing. It just makes me want to pull my hair out, and lock them in a closet with a juice box and some Cheetos until they work it out themselves! DING!!!  In my head, my creative parenting lightning bolt turns on. I'll make them work together. Instead of being a bully, I offered the choice of being grounded for electronics for a week (which is like death according to my teen) or to teach his brother some board games. They both didnt want to do it, cried like babies, and then an hour later, I hear laughter. Ahhh...Bliss! Then today, they even hugged each other!  Mom-1, kids-0

2. Put that thing away!

 I'm always looking at the newest things people come up with. Gadgets and gizmos of plenty...whozits and whatzits galore (can you name the Disney movie? Little Mermaid!) It never fails that every time I see a 'as seen on TV' item in the local grocery store, I think two things: 1. OMG I NEED THAT! 2. Does it really work? Reality sets in with thought #2, and then I turn and walk away. The latest seen gadget blew my mind. Have you heard of mouth guards? What about toe guards? What about CAMEL TOE GUARDS? That's right ladies. I've learned that there IS such a thing. You can get your very own Cuchini! Your 'V' cleavage is noticed, but you should buy bigger yoga pants or (seriously) hide that shit. Or maybe you like to advertise that moose knuckle. But please, I beg of you do everyone else a favor and buy a Cuchini!

3. What's really in BC?

Taking birth control in the pill form sucks. It's not the physically taking it part that's bothersome. It's the remembering to take it. Everyday. Around the same time. I can barely remember if I showered and brushed my teeth today! As I was taking my vitamins and BC in the dark kitchen the other night, I felt a pill slip and heard it hit the floor. Oh No! Instantly, I hit the ground like a soldier in the field. Trying to get eye level with the tile, my husband says, "What are you doing?" I frantically replied "I dropped my BC. I have to find it. We can't have another baby! I need it. Help me please! Gotta find it (as I'm bearcrawling through my kitchen)" To which he says "Huh. Maybe BC really does have crack in it."

Lisa:
1) Hard work really does pay off. I worked hard on a photobook for Banshee's first official year of school and it turned out really great. Better than I expected. Seriously loving on Shutterfly right now!

2)Sometimes taking a break just to play together is a blessing in disguise. We all decided to hang out in our bed and have a tickle fight. It was awesome and gave us the energy to continue packing all our things into boxes.

3) Taking 15 minutes to clean one spot in the house, really does help me out. I have been attempting this FlyLady program for years; it hasn't really worked. Mainly because I am tired. But, this 15 minute cleaning has really helped me out this time! Especially now that our house is constantly being visited by  inspectors in preparation for the move.

4) Take time to commune with nature. The girls and I like to take nature walks and bug safaris. It is during this time that we really listen to the sounds of nature and just learn to take a minute to breathe...until one of the wolves ends up jumping off the observation deck into the pond while chasing a goose. Sigh! :)

Liz:
1) My 1-year-old hates shoes. Like hates them. He won't walk with them on. He'll crawl instead and cry the whole time. Really kid? So I've started putting socks on his feet all the damn time so that he gets the idea. Sometime soon hopefully we'll graduate to shoes without drama.

2) I tell everyone else not to procrastinate but man, if procrastinating working on my dissertation was a job, I'd be on the cover of Forbes. Here's the sad part. Once I sit down and write, I'm great, I can do it for hours. It's the forcing myself to open the file folder full of interview transcripts that is daunting I guess. I'm forcing myself to do one per day (at least reading, coding, and writing about the data). I will be done. I will not be ABD.

3) Telling myself that I have to save money elsewhere because gas for the Pilot is literally 3x as expensive as the Prius is hard. I didn't do very well this week. Mike's laptop died so I bought him a tablet...and a keyboard...and one for myself (to work on the blog, ya?) and a keyboard for me, because that's fair...here's the funny part. That same day Mike came home and told me he'd gotten assigned two projects at work that required a database program or at least Excel but the computer he used at work only did ordering. "Aw what if I told you you could do them on Google Docs and save it to Google Drive and access it anywhere?" Well that would be great, he responded. "OK good, our tablets arrive Friday." Liz for the win!

What did you learn this week? We'd love to hear about it - add it in the Comments section!
Saturday, August 10, 2013

I said No (and I Meant It)

You probably know at least one person who has this problem saying no, either at work or at home (or with their unruly kids). Erm look in the mirror - is that the person you were thinking of?

It is for me. Here's my problem: my brain wants to be busy (so yeah to all requests!) but my mental energy, my personality, needs a break every day. I can't go go go. I can't. I go to conferences for work and it's just people people people back to back insane and there's Liz...taking a break in her room.

If my calendar has one "extra" item (extra meaning not the classes I teach or office hours), I'm OK. Two extras...mmm three...errrr. Any higher and I go home and feel as if I have nothing left to give anyone. And this feeling of anxiety sits by my lungs and I just want to sit somewhere quiet by myself.

So that's the first problem. Here's the second: I'm apparently competent when I do say yes. People keep asking me to do stuff. Even when I'm not on contract (such as during the summer) I get asked to do stuff. 

And that leads to the third problem - I tend to say yes to everything people ask me to do (because I feel guilty if I don't). After Sage was born, I started recognizing how my behaviors influenced my stress and that influenced my home life, my stress, and my boys. Not cool.

If this is you too, how can we avoid the Over Yes-ing (when possible)? First, keep your calendar(s) up to date. I have my work Outlook, my Gmail (personal), and my paper schedule book (I love laper for some reason) all synced and updated. That way if anyone asks if I can do X, I can check what else I've got going on that day. If there's a conflict or it would send you over the edge energy-wise, suggest moving the date to a day you have clear (or clear-er). If that's not possible, think about the necessity of this event. You may be thinking, "Couldn't that take some time?" And you'd be right, so saying, "Let me get back to you by 3 pm by email" would give you that time to think about your role in this activity. Are you necessary? If not, would it be a work or career foible to say no? Is this an annual thing, could you offer to do the next one but just not this one? Could someone else do it (and stop thinking "but I'd do it better" - we're talking about decreasing your over-scheduling here). 

If the answers of the Magic 8Ball indicate that you must go, see if you can move around anything else that's scheduled. Tell your spouse that any expectations of you for that day are going to get sacked because you may be left with nothing energy-wise. Better yet, discuss with them your conundrum before agreeing to it (if possible). I am usually the one who picks up the boys after daycare - if I know my day is full, I will warn Mike and ask him what he wants fast-food wise for dinner.
Friday, August 9, 2013

How Do We Love Two Children?

Silas love
Silas was my first son. He was born in 2010 and we spent almost two years becoming "bess frens" (best friends) before his brother, Sage, was born in 2012. If I had to say Silas was more attached to one parent, I would say he was my right hip and Mike (my husband) would agree. For months I wondered if we should have a second child, or if we should just leave well enough alone and be happy with what we knew (as opposed to what we didn't).

Coming from a household with only one child (yes, I was an only, what?), I wasn't exactly sure how the whole "loving two kids" thing would work. Could it work, I wondered. Could I do it on what felt like my already strained emotional budget? Having an anxiety disorder takes up a lot of your available energy so I worried (HA! Me! Worry!) that it would be a bad idea and I'd screw up two children's lives. What parent doesn't though right? (Admit it, at least to yourself, you don't have to do it in public)

As luck would have it, I didn't get the chance to decide yes or no on the second child bit - we found out November 14, 2011 (my birthday, aww!) that we were expecting again and I was...angry? Probably because I didn't get to decide that this is what we were doing. (While you may think we could have had an abortion that wasn't a thought in either of our heads). And then I had a rockin' pregnancy (sarcasm) and Sage was born early (see the previous posts in July 2012 to read more) and that all added to my worry that my idea or not, this was Not Going To Be Good.


But then I sat in the NICU with this tiny boy's hand wrapped around my finger...and I cried. What I worried about, it didn't matter. It would be what I did with these two amazing Small Men that would influence them to be amazing people - at least the part of their lives that I could influence. So I promised my little fighting preemie that I would give both of them everything I had.

Fast forward to a year later. Sage is 13 months. Silas is 3. Sage has gone through these spurts where he seems to have a delay of some sort (which I could totally give him, I mean, he was early) but then catches up super fast. He's walking. He's harassing his brother (i.e., "Say, be quiet!" Sage blows a raspberry at Silas and laughs. "Be quiet Bother!" Raspberry. "Mom! Say won't be quiet!"). I try to divide my time equally between them, but I'm also trying to show them how triage works (one has a dirty diaper, and one is bleeding...help one while explaining to the other that they are next in line and their wait time is approximately 3 minutes). I'm trying my best to show them how to be good brothers. I share kisses, tickles, and love equally (I think). I think.


So how do you love two children? Differently. Each has different wants and needs (and is at a different stage of childhood). You do, quite literally, the best you can. I noticed that Sage developed this "thing" where he would play Peekaboo with you and look super cute until you picked him up. If you didn't (and you walked away), well, he screamed. Rather than getting angry I realized this was probably his way of telling me he needed more attention than what he was getting. Parenting adjustment. Then Silas started not doing so well with potty training. Adjustment.

Adjustment. It's what's for dinner. And I can tell you, as someone with daily anxiety, that's freaky (man). But I've learned to roll with it and pick up the closest child and love on it. And that's all you can do, right?

How did your family adjust to a new addition? Do you wonder if you "have it in you" to have children (or more than one child)?



Thursday, August 8, 2013

How well do we know our neighbors?

"Our first home together," my then boyfriend (now husband) said as he unlocked the door. We opened the door, and the scene was straight out of a movie. An 80's movie that is! Stained carpets, holes in the drywall, and missing fixtures. The best part was the yellow counter tops in the outdated kitchen. Sweet! Our first fixer-upper! We fixed it up all right. From repairing walls and laying the whole downstairs in tile, to picking up broken pipes (not the kind for tobacco) in the bushes of our front yard and fixing door handles so the lock wasn't on the outside anymore (to lock the previous owner's kids in), we busted our butts! Every day for 3 months, we worked on this house. It took a lot to start to make it a home.

Soon after we moved in, the neighbors wanted to get to know us. Come to find out, they just wanted to make sure we weren't drug dealing and nude sunbathing delinquents that lived here before. An invite? I'm down. When? Happy Hour. Where? Next door. When? Every Friday night! Who? All of us. Even better that we can walk next door, bring the kids and knock back a few while the neighborhood kids play (and wear themselves out) together. We were told that when the red flag was up at our neighbors house, c'mon in! Awesome neighbor alert! Until their teenage son decided to knock up some girl (back to back). Now, they are raising grand babies. Happy hour is officially cancelled for the next 18 years. Whammy!
Then there's Norma. She sits on her front porch with a shotgun waiting for activity. Especially those pesky HOA who drag around their kids in 100 degree Texas heat in strollers to write violations. "One blade of grass is 2 inches higher than the rest." Really? You're taking this WAY too seriously. I swear that hill in her front yard is a grave from the last guy who gave her lip! Not only did she chase him off her front porch, she followed him in her car all day going from house to house.One time, my husband was teaching our nephew how to drive. He had the boy take the car around the block a few times. All of a sudden..bhew-whoop, a police siren. She had seen a car circle the neighborhood and called the cops on a suspicious vehicle...on the people she sees every week at happy hour!

Two houses down, lives our oldest neighbor. Older than dirt, he tops the charts at 97. He has been through 3 wars, has retired twice, been through two wives and was a witness to when the Air Force was created in 1947. His hearing and eyesight is fading, and his Parkinson's is getting worse. But, he's outside everyday detailing his wife's car, blowing leaves, and throwing dirty stank eye looks when anyone drives by. I park, get out, wave, and he rolls over in his motorized wheel chair. He gets straight to the point (probably cause he could croak at any given moment and doesn't want to waste time) and tells me "No bullshit, dammit. Never stop moving. That's when you'll die...when you stop moving. You got that, girl?" That's when he turned and brushed my butt with his shoulder as he scooted back home in his power-mobile . Wait a second, I think to myself. Did that..??? Yep, that just happened. I swear, old people really do get away with anything.

Our neighbors are old, young, drunk, and fun. They are old enough to know better, but still too young to care. We make up our own neighborhood watch program and dare anyone to try and challenge us when they think we're not watching. The neighbors would call it 'being taught a lesson' to someone who tries to steal, cheat or lie to any of us. It could also be considered 'Lead Poisoning' in this neck of the woods.

We've all got wacky neighbors - what's your story? How well do you know your neighborhood people (and do you want to)?
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Music Party (with Prizes)!


This evening (9 E/8 C) we’ll be playing a quick game where you could be entered to win one of two $10 iTunes gift cards. All you have to do is suggest songs for an exercise/running playlist on the thread on our Facebook page. Once we “close” the game at 10 p.m. Eastern, 9 p.m. Central, we’ll randomly choose two participants to win (using Random.org). By providing us with a song you are indicating that you would like to be entered into the drawing. Winners will be contacted and need to provide their email address for the gift card to be sent.



First, make sure that you like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mamaaroundthehouse



Then at 9 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Central, come hang out on the page. We’ll announce the start of the game and ask you to post at least one song (title and artist) for a running/exercise playlist. These songs will be published as a list on a future blog post as well (and we’ll probably use them as we train for our 5K in September).



Want extra entries? Tweet about the game (tagging @MamaArndThHouse) and provide the link to our blog post about the game. Tweets must be sent prior to 9:30 p.m. Eastern/8:30 p.m. Central to count.



A possible Tweet looks like this: 
 
Love  ? Come play tonight at 9E/8C! @MamaArndThHouse http://mamaaroundthehouse.blogspot.com/2013/08/music-party-with-prizes.html

My own game of 'dungeons'...

If you watch Adventure Time, or even just heard of it, you know that Finn likes to play a game/quest called "Dungeons" when he is bored. The game basically consists of finding a hidden dungeon and ultimately to solve the quest by finding the treasure at the end. Finn is usually successful at this game and can be quite OCD on the steps to solving his "dungeon" puzzle.

Why this random comparison? It is the one that best fits. For the last couple months I have been playing my own game of "dungeons" with regards to my 3 year old, Banshee. You see, Banshee began to show signs of autism when she reached her second birthday. She was very particular about the way she dressed, about closing doors, shutting the AC vents, what she ate, and the fact that she wanted to spin constantly. Because I had worked with children living with autism before, I knew the signs and knew that we needed to seek answers. Thus, "dungeons" began.

I would like to say that my quest was fruitful in the beginning, but that would be lying. It was anything but. The first developmental pediatrician kept referring to autism as the "a word", and while the doctor accepted that there were signs, her age was most likely the cause. I think the most frustrating part about all this was the fact that in that moment, sitting in the antiseptic doctor's office while looking at my child, I knew that I would have to play this part of dungeons alone. 

Enter my adventurous spirit and thirst for answers. I knew Banshee was a puzzle and we needed help to get the right tools to work with her--autism or not. Through my investigations, and with the help of some friends who were going through the exact situation, I learned that there was a program in Baltimore that provided early intervention to children who presented the symptoms of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I set the wheels in motion, and after some testing to qualify (it is a research program), Banshee was enrolled in the Kennedy Krieger Institute's Early Achievements Autism Speaks preschool class. The relief I felt that I was on the right track was huge and grew more when the interventionists said: "You have no idea how big this is. Just by starting the process, you've already helped her." SCORE! 

It seems, that I had found the right dungeon. Now, I needed to find the right key to open the treasure chest that is Banshee. She was a complete puzzle and didn't fit into the categories that the diagnostics called for in a child with autism, but there she was presenting lots of red flags. It was disheartening to say the least, we just want answers, and they weren't that forthcoming. The good thing is that I was surrounded by other parents that were in the same boat and by the professionals at Kennedy Krieger, who kept comforting me with this saying: " If you have met a child with autism, then you have met only ONE child with autism." I'll say! 

Another difficult concept that as parents to a child on the ASD spectrum we have to learn, is that once you have  someone that is diagnosed with autism, your whole family is now diagnosed with autism too. You must all learn new techniques of doing things, routines, new approaches to parenting that seem alien but are so helpful, you tend to go through a period of time when you beat yourself up. Why didn't I think of that? The answer to that, is just that you are too deep to think clearly and it takes a lot to get to the point of being able to admit that. It was great to be able to share all of these thoughts with people, who wouldn't judge you for it.  I can tell you that all of us have grown through this experience with Banshee and even though she was the one receiving therapy to give her the tools she needs to succeed, we were getting therapy too.  

My dungeons game came to a stand-still as Banshee, even after diagnostic testing and visits with the professionals at Kennedy Krieger, remains without a diagnosis. She is too  much of a puzzle even for them! There is no doubt she is on the ASD spectrum, no one is sure where she is. I want to say that if I had remained the same as the beginning of this experience, I would have remained disappointed at the lack of answers. The me now, remains frustrated, but am more open and invite this game of dungeons to continue. I mean, do you really have to find the treasure chest immediately to count as a quest? Or do you count the work you have to do in getting the clues, in order for the real quest to be won? I think dungeons is different for everybody. The good thing is that we don't have to feel alone or need to do it alone. Sometimes, the best way to beat a dungeon of our own making, is simply to let others in to help us through the quest.

What "dungeons" have you experienced in your life (as a parent or otherwise)? What keys did you find that worked to open the treasure chests?
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Making a Parent's Life Easier

Within the past couple of weeks I've had a couple of friends observe me at home (not in a creepy way, we were hanging out and I was multitasking) and comment that I make "it" (being a parent) look so easy.

*Giggle* Easy?!

Another one said, "You don't freak out, you just roll with it." Why yes I do, otherwise I'd be in constant freak out mode and that helps nobody.

So what do I do that makes "it" easy? Read on. Will all of these work for you and your fam? Maybe not. But one may help and if so, that's awesome.

1) Make schedules. For example, we menu plan and I type it out and it goes on the bulletin board. As I'm making the menu for the week I keep in mind what meals are super easy and the days we could use super easy. If you have multiple family members with activities, make a calendar so everyone can see. Use the calendar to plan ("Well I could grocery shop while Ryan's at soccer practice" if you don't mind missing soccer practice). I even have a cleaning schedule and I don't break it unless there's a disaster. You know why? The toilet can really wait to be cleaned until Saturday (its scheduled day). Nobody will die if we wait until Saturday. Now if they will, that's another story.

2) Multitask. Laundry going, dishwasher going, vacuuming, while my hair is dying? Done it. Just remember you can't multitask things that take a lot if brain power!

3) Plan ahead. If you have 5 minutes, do what will need to be done for later. Prepare dinner (OK that takes longer than 5 minutes). Set out the kids' clothes and pajamas. Or better yet make them do it! This way, when that activity (i.e. making dinner) comes up, you're not scrambling. It's leisurely. Scrambling is stressful.

4) Do now for a better later. If you have kids, they want a relaxed and undivided you. They don't want Texting Mommy or On Work Email Daddy. So if you can do that stuff now to spend a block of time with them later...well that's what I'd do.

5) Most important: give yourself a break. I mean this in two ways. First, literally, take some time for yourself when there's nobody saying, "Mommy? I ha some cheese? Mommy? I watch Handy Manny? Mommy?" (or is that just my house?). Second, forget other people and seriously give yourself a break - the vacuuming will get done eventually (on Sunday says the schedule), and you ARE a good parent even if you don't look like the neighbor who has five kids (and a nanny). Give yourself a break. This isn't Mommy Wars. We're not competing.

What, if any, of these suggestions are you planning on trying? What may work for you and your family? Do you have any other suggestions to add to the list?
Monday, August 5, 2013

Bloggers Chat about Breastfeeding for World Breastfeeding Week

Liz: August 1st through 7th is World Breastfeeding Week. If I remember correctly the whole month is National Breastfeeding Month. I wish we lived in a world where we didn't have to have weeks and months to remind us about our feeding options for children, but I think that's the goal - acceptance and support. After reading a post from the Huffington Post about bloggers suggesting we support all moms and their feeding choices, I knew that it would be interesting to dialogue with my fellow Mama(s) about their choices and how they made them feel.

How many children do you have and how old are they?
Liz: Two boys, Silas and Sage, 3 and 1.

Lisa: Two girls, Pixy and Banshee, 5 and 3. One boy, Cubby, in utero.

Robyn: 3 boys, Bailey, 14, Sean, 8 Kasen 5, and 1 girl, Reagan, 1 month

Did you breast feed, formula feed, supplement breast with formula...?
Liz: I formula fed with both of them. I initially tried breast feeding but wasn't able to do it.

Lisa: I breastfed both of the girls for 11 months and they weaned themselves. With Pixy, who was a tiny 5lb thing, I supplemented with formula to fatten her up.

Robyn: Breasfed all the way. Step-son Bailey was formula fed.

Why did you make the choices you made?
Liz: I had high risk pregnancies after having a stroke in 2008. I took medication that decreased blood clotting and apparently influenced milk production. After both boys were born I tried to feed them both for about 3 weeks. I put a lot more effort into it with Sage because I thought maybe I hadn't tried hard enough or long enough with Silas. But as soon as I stopped taking my anticoagulant medication my milk completely dried up both times. So sometimes it feels like formula was a choice and other times I think it was a choice made for me by my body.

Lisa: Honestly, we are a military family on a budget. I knew that formula was expensive and I figured I would give breastfeeding a try. It was difficult, because all the women close to me had formula fed and I didn't get the support I needed. This was something women with no other recourse did, not someone from this century. But, I stuck to my conviction to try and if it didn't work, there was always formula. I am all about rolling with the punches.

Robyn: It just seemed natural. Plus, breastfeeding burns calories!

How did you feel about your choices?
Liz: With Silas when I finally decided to only FF I felt guilty like I was doing my kid a disservice. Even though I knew I'd done everything I could. When I decided to FF only with Sage I felt less guilty because I'd been through it before and knew that feeling guilty was silly - it wasn't like I was not feeding my kid.

Lisa: I was at peace with all of my choices. My body said it was "all systems go" to breastfeed and I felt I did it well. Every once in a while, I do feel guilty that I didn't ask the girls to breastfeed longer, but honestly, if they were ready to stop at 11 months I wasn't about to force the issue. I think we have all turned out great.

Robyn: I felt great knowing that my body was put here for a purpose (not just for dudes to check out my rack).

What do you wish you could tell other moms who are facing the challenges related to choosing how to feed their child(ren)?
Liz: I teach child psychology classes and even though the books don't talk about this, I do. We talk about feeding options. I talk about BFing and the services available to help (lactation consultants at the hospital, BFing classes before baby's born, La Leche League mentors, etc.). I also remind students that sometimes, moms don't choose to FF and relay my experiences. I also talk about how sometimes Mom is sick and can't BF and these are all things we need to think about before we look askance at someone who's feeding their kid in public in a way that we didn't choose. I would love to tell Moms of the world to put all the Mommy War social comparisons aside and just support each other. You know how hard it is to mommy (and if you don't yet, you will). Why add that extra stress of being crappy to each other over feeding strategies? Feed your kid. Bam.

Lisa: Do what you think is best, regardless of what information is out there. When it comes to mommyhood, there is no right answer! All children are different, all Mamas are different! Why should we pressure each other to fit a certain mold? Some women will be able to breastfeed with no problem, others might require the help of formula. As mamas, we can never truly prepare for everything, but we can educate ourselves and support each other, to make the right choices for us. Mommyhood is not going to be stress-free, not by a long shot, just get it done and be happy.

Robyn: To grow into the idea of telling society to beat it! Sometimes it's not just the mom's decision, it's what works best for the family. Find the support you need (friends, family, other moms, groups, discussion forums) when you make the decision of breast or bottle. Once you have support, you'll feel more confident that you're doing the right thing.

How would you answer these questions? If you're a mom, what was your feeding experience like and how did people respond to it?