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Archive for the ‘Thoughts and Observations’ Category

I just bought 12 ounces of organic raspberries at Costco for only $3.99.  In one sitting, my three kids polished off nearly 10 ounces of that package.  I wish they would tell me they were going to devour the whole package, so I could plan ahead and buy two packages.  Of course, had I purchased two packages, they would have sampled one raspberry each, and declared them “yucky”.

I wish my kids would tell me when they are going to nap for three hours at a stretch.  Then, I could plan ahead properly and begin a serious project.  Or (gasp!) take a nap myself.

I wish they would tell me when they are going to throw up.  Then I could swiftly guide them to the bathroom.  In time.  No fuss, no muss.

I wish they would tell me which stuffed animal will become their favorite of all time.  The one they must have to fall asleep.  Armed with this knowledge, I am Supermom.

All of these wishes, when boiled down to the core, simply would allow me to be prepared.  I love being prepared.  I love having the right snack and the right time, and preventing a hungry, toddler meltdown.  I love having the diaper bag stocked with all the necessities, allowing  me to deal with whatever life throws at me.  On the flipside, I hate being unprepared.

All of this leads me to this, one of motherhood’s best lessons:

Be as prepared as you can be, when you can be.  But, also be prepared to be unprepared.  Learning to roll with it, learning to adapt, those are skills we as moms have developed, honed, perfected.  So, just because you don’t feel prepared, doesn’t mean you’re not succeeding.

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What my husband did last night when he said he was going to go to bed:

  • Went upstairs
  • Brushed his teeth and flossed
  • Plugged in his phones to charge overnight
  • Got in bed
What I did last night when I said I was going to go to bed:
  • loaded the dishwasher
  • put away some laundry
  • cleaned off the kitchen counter-tops
  • set up the coffeepot for the morning
  • made my son’s lunch
  • started a blog post
  • read about potty training (next big thing for BDog)
  • wrote a check for Kindergarten tuition
  • fed the fish
  • put away stray toys
  • went upstairs
  • brushed my teeth and flossed
  • washed and moisturized my face (sucks to get old . . and live in the high desert)
  • checked on sleeping babies and gave them one more kiss
  • got in bed
Sound familiar, moms??  No wonder I never get to bed before 11:30pm.
What do you do when you say you’re off to bed?

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I was inspired to write this blog post by Kathy, over at Mama’s Losin’ It.  She got the idea from Ree, over at a little blog called The Pioneer Woman. Maybe you’ve heard of her?

Thanks for the inspiration, ladies!

So, here goes.

I am 36.

I have never:

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1.  Set foot in Mexico

2.  Eaten rabbit

3.  Made my own tomato sauce

4.  Flown first class

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5.  Ridden in a hot air balloon

6.  Gotten a tattoo

7.  Been to Africa

8.  Had a caesarean section

9.  Watched The Real Housewives (of any city)

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10.  Been to Austin, Texas

11.  Made my own pasta (See also number 3)

12.  Been scuba diving

13.  Ran a marathon

14.  Been serenaded

15.  Feared for my life

16.  Sang karaoke (you’re welcome)

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17.  Swam with dolphins

18.  Bought a loaf of Wonder Bread

19.  Driven a boat

20.  Pole vaulted

21.  Set foot in Europe

22.  Learned the butterfly stroke

23.  Received more than 7 comments on a blog post.  Will this be a new PR?  (I mean, I’m not asking for 800+, like Ree’s post, jeez!)

What are some things you have never done?

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Maybe your child is not as mature as you think she should be.  Maybe you think he’s little for his age, and could use another year of pre-school under his belt before starting in the big leagues.  Maybe you’re a sports-minded family, and you want to give your mini linebacker the best odds at athletic success.

Experts say, however, delaying kindergarten is not the right answer.  In fact, you just might be doing your little pumpkin a disservice.  The New York Times recently published an article highlighting  a study which tells us, in a nutshell, the best academic tool we can give our children is school itself.

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According to this article, for students young for their year in kindergarten, greater strides were made during the school year in reading and math than in children who were older.  The article discusses how children grow when they are pushed:

“In this respect, children benefit from being close to the limits of their ability”.

Just let that sentence sink in for a second.  Give it a second read.  Absorb it.

What this tells us, is that it is good to push our kids, within limits. If a child is faced with a task that is challenging, but not out of reach, it encourages them to try harder. To want to be better.  On either side of this fine line, however, children (and teachers) face the consequences of boredom or frustration.

I’ve learned this first-hand, with my son, who happens to be in kindergarten (not early, not late, right on schedule).  He does not know all of his letters yet, although he’s getting there.  He is far from reading, however.  So, I have started working with him each day.  We don’t do a lot, anywhere from 5-20 minutes when there is some quiet time just for the two of us.  And, based on this new ritual, I have learned three things about him:

  1. When pushed just a little out of his comfort zone, with support, he flourishes. “No, no, Mommy, don’t tell me the answer, let me tell you the letters!”.
  2. When pushed a lot, he shuts down.  No wonder he literally looked the other way when I was trying to teach him sight words when reading a bedtime story!  It was like asking him to do calculus before he could multiply.
  3. When he’s presented with a task that he has complete mastery of, at first it’s a confidence booster, but that quickly wanes.  What is left is boredom (“Ok, ok, Mommy, I know those letters, but what is that one, again?”) and potential disruptive behavior.
Of course, there is no right or wrong answer that fits everyone.  We must make our own decisions, based on what is best for our child.  And, no one knows your child better than you.  This is also about more than just reading, math, and kindergarten.  It is a life lesson, too.  After all, we not only want our kids to learn, we want to teach them to be lifelong learners.  We want them to have a thirst for knowledge.

We, as parents, are helping our children learn how to learn.  What a gift.  I promise, I’ll try not to screw it up.

So, what did you do, or will you do about kindergarten?

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My husband is out of town.  I can say this because by the time you read this, he will be back.  He has also been uber-busy at work lately.  He generally works a lot, but the last couple of weeks have been exceptionally crazy.  So, it didn’t surprise me at all when last night, at about 10 o’clock, he says casually, “Hey, did I tell you I’m going to Vegas tomorrow?”.

Um, nope.  No, you didn’t.  He’s not so much into the details sometimes.

At least this is only a one night trip.  Not at all like the time I found out he was going to Brussels, Belgium because of some flight times I saw scribbled on the back of a grocery receipt he left sitting next to the laptop on the kitchen counter.  I know, I know, his communication skills are positively astounding.  In the end, his trip got cancelled anyway.  But, I’m getting a little off topic.

It just so happens that I had already made plans with some girlfriends to go out tonight.  I planned it carefully, so that the baby would already be asleep, and the boys would be fed, and in their jammies.

So, now I’m faced with a dilemma.  I could a) scrap my plans for a Girls Night Out (which honestly only happens every six months or so for me.  I know, I know, I need to work on that), or b) call my Mother-in-Law.  I do have a couple babysitters that I use, but now that school is in, they are busy with sports, boyfriends, part-time jobs, and oh, yes, school.

I decided it was important enough to me to give her a call, last-minute.  Turns out she was available and happy to do it.  I am a lucky woman.  Side note:  She also watched the kids one other time this week, and has plans to help me out twice next week.  Am I taking advantage? I hope not. But, possibly a little.

Not everyone has a great relationship with their Mother-in-Law, but after 14 years of marriage, here are a few secrets I will share with you about your Mother-in-Law:

1.  She really does want to help.

So, let her.  Let her hold the baby.  Let  her do a load of laundry.  Let her take the kids to the park.  She wants to do it, and it’s really okay.  Really.

2.  She has the best of intentions.

Yes, she may feed the baby at the wrong time.  Or not warm up the bottle enough.  She might even (gasp!) stop for an ice cream treat before dinner. She is not you.  She will not do things exactly as you do.  But, if you give her instructions, she’ll do her best.  She doesn’t intentionally sabotage your children’s sleep schedule.  She’s finding her way in this whole Grandmother thing, just like you’re finding out who you are as a Mom.  And, she’s waited her whole life to be a Grandmother, so cut her a little slack.  Even if it’s a really, really small amount of slack.

3.  She loves her son and her grandchildren.  But, she loves you, too.

She loves you in a different way, and that love may change and grow over the years.  But, she loves you in a way that says “thank you for sharing your life with my son, and for letting me be a part of my grandchildren’s lives, too”.

4.  She appreciates a Thank You.

It’s easy to take anyone for granted.  I think it’s especially easy to take your Mother-in-Law for granted.  So, remember to appreciate the good things she does.  Even if it’s sandwiched in between things that frustrate you.  She’s a good person.  See Numbers 1 and 2, above.

5.  She has more life experience than you.

This one might be hard to swallow for some, especially if your Mother-in-Law is one who is constantly offering up advice, or insinuating that her way is better.  But, it is true.  She’s been married longer, and even though her children aren’t little any more, she’s been a Mom longer, too.  So, listen to her advice, and allow it to sink in a little.  No one says you have to follow it.  But, you never know what you might learn if you’re open to it.

I mean, maybe she really does have a terrific chicken recipe that’s easy and delicious (and if your husband likes it, you can just wink and say, “I know, yum, right?! It’s just a new recipe I’ve been wanting to try”). Or you can give her credit, if you’re feeling generous.  Men usually don’t care too much about that kind of thing anyway.  Either way, it’s a win-win.  Or, if you’re Michael Scott, a win-win-win.

6.  She knows you hold the cards.  And, she appreciates that you put up with her son.

It’s true.  You have a lot of power in this relationship.  And, he is the boy she raised: the good, and all.the.faults.  See paragraph 3, above.

Anyone else want to chime in?? Come on, put me in my place. 🙂

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How much time do you spend in the kitchen?  If you’re anything like me, you spend at least 50% of your time here on a daily basis.  It’s probably even higher than that if I actually logged it.  Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve both discovered and developed over the years.  They make my life easier, and make me more efficient in the room I spend more time in than any other in my house:  the kitchen!
  1. Disinfect your sponge.  There are two simple ways to do this.  The first is to dampen the sponge and stick it in the microwave.  In an 1100 watt microwave, it takes only 90 seconds.  If you have a lower wattage model, it might take from three, up to five minutes.  You can also throw it in the top rack of your dishwasher each time you run it.  For me, the microwave option is easiest.  It seems I can’t go one dishwasher cycle without needing the sponge, so unless I run it overnight, I just choose to zap it.
  2. Clean your microwave.  Simply put a bowl of water in the microwave, and let it run at 100% power for five minutes.  Then, wipe the inside clean.  You can throw some lemon juice in the bowl for a little extra cleaning power and an oh-so-fresh scent if you have some on hand, too.
  3. Store your staples so they’re handy.  I put sugar, flour, bread flour, brown sugar, and chocolate chips in Tupperware containers.  In those containers, I include a measuring cup in the size I most often use for that staple.  For example, in my flour container, I have a 1 cup measuring cup.  In my brown sugar container, I have a 1/2 cup measuring cup.  This saves me from a) searching for the right size measuring cup and b) washing it every time.
  4. Mount a pretty towel hook near your sink.  My dad did this for me about a year ago, and I can’t believe I ever lived without it.  It is a simple hook purchased from Home Depot.  He mounted it just where I wanted it, just to the left of the sink.  Out of the way of the most used side of the cabinet, and super handy for the 203 times I wash my hands every day.  I have never looked back.  I don’t care if it seems like I’m already a grandma.  I no longer have to search for a clean hand towel, I don’t create extra waste using paper towels, and it automatically means I keep my hand towel separate from any towels I use to clean dishes, etc.  Brilliant!

5.  Have a Snack Box.  On an easy to reach shelf in the pantry, I have a large, clear plastic container that I keep stocked with (mostly) healthy snacks.  When my kids ask, (and they know they are supposed to ask first, because it might be meal time), they know they can choose anything in the box, nothing is off-limits.  Things I regularly stock this box with are: Stretch Island Fruit Leathers, Zbars, Annie’s Bunny Grahams, granola bars, and Trader Joe’s Apple Crushers.  Basically, these items are fairly healthy, and are obviously non-perishables.  I often do dole out string cheese and fresh fruit, but if they are hungry, this is extremely helpful to me, and even my 2-year-old can be self-sufficient.  That is good for everyone!

What are your favorite time-saving and sanity-preserving tips and tricks for the kitchen?

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Have you discovered dry shampoo yet?  If you have not given this stuff a road test, I challenge you to give it a try.  It might possibly change your life.  I cannot promise you that it will make you a better mom.  However, it will save you time, and make you look polished in no time flat.  Anything that eliminates a step, or two (hello, blow dry AND flat iron) in the morning has to be worthy of a second look!

It will make your beautiful blow dry last a day longer.  It will make your life easier.  Who says you can’t buy happiness?  Here are a few to try.

1.  Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo   $11 Sephora

I have used this, and can personally attest to it’s awesomeness.  It completely gets out the oily residue that I always have if I don’t wash my hair in the morning (when will this not be an issue?).  And, it is simply marvelous to be able to reap the benefits of a fabulous blow out or flat-iron “do” for another day.

2.  Tresemme Dry Shampoo Products  $4.79 Target

This is actually a collection of products, including Dry Shampoo in Volumizing, Strengthening, and Smoothing formulations.  There is also a Moisturizing Waterless Foam.  That just sounds fun.  These are more affordable than the Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo.  I might have to pick some up at Tar-Jay next time I swoop in.

3.  Suave Dry Shampoo    $3.50  Target

The least expensive of the bunch, I think this is going to be my next purchase.  I do love me some Suave products, so I’m sure this one will not disappoint. Can’t wait to try it out!

What are some of your favorite products to save time in the morning?  (My other favorite: coffeepot with timer = heaven!)

Note:  I was not compensated for this post, all opinions are mine.

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