Thursday, July 31, 2008

If Moms Ruled the World There Would Be a Lot Less Bellyaching!

I came across and article yesterday about how a recent poll showed that 78 percent of workers feel burned out at work, and it got me thinking.

The article notes that 46 percent of workers say their workload has increased over the last six months and approximately the same percentage describe their current workload as heavy or too heavy.

I’d argue that my workload has increase over the past six months since having another child.

For starters, I now have to do at least one extra load of laundry each week. This includes sorting, folding and putting away. I have an extra bedroom to clean, I wash far more dishes now that we have four mouths eating at each meal, I have more places that I have to take my three-year-old to keep her busy which means more hauling of a 14-month-old, I have one more person who I have to make happy during each waking hour, I have more toys to clean up off the floor, I have double the kisses, hugs, stories and prayers to say each night, there are bigger boo-boos to kiss, more reasoning to be done on a daily basis with people who don’t want to listen to me, and more weight to carry on each arm when getting in and out of the car (36, and 20lbs, respectively).

So, do I get a vacation away from my “coworkers” or “employees”? Let me check my calendar. Oh why waste my time. The answer is no. Should I expect more pay? Oh, silly question. So, what does a burned out mom do to stay sane?

Actually, I have to admit that I think I am lucky to have an outlet by going to work a few days a week. Others may have differing opinions. When I go to work I get to dress in something other than my usual stained t-shirt and jeans, drink coffee in front of my computer without the fear of second- or third- degree burns occurring at the hand of a 14-month-old, see and speak to other like-minded adults and eat lunch without having to stop 12 times a minute to get a napkin for someone else, wipe their butt after using the potty, refill a sippy cup, cut up more grapes, or wipe up the spilled jelly on the floor.

But the bottom line is that I’m still a mom, and there is no escaping that. You get burned out and you have to deal with it. You “rise to the occasion,” do what you have to without complaint and manage as best as you can. We cant just quit. We’re moms and we’re truly blessed by the beautiful gift of of children.

The article does offer some advise, however, that applies to all working people; and we all know raising kids is one hell of a job! Here are a few tips which we all can apply to our daily lives:

* Learn to say no. Reduce your commitments both at work and home.

* Get organized. Create a checklist of things that need to be addressed for that day and focus on those tasks only.

* Get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet and remember to exercise. Working out can significantly reduce stress levels.

* Finally, give yourself a break.

So, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And P.S. I won’t tell if you add a splash of vodka!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Here kitty, kitty!

Ok, so we have two cat-- although if visiting you’re almost certain to see only one. One is a little, let’s say, feisty. To say he’s not much for visitors would be an understatement.

Gunther came to us from a family of other kitties whose mom was a stray. A friend of my husband saw the mother cat struggling to carry her babies one-by-one across the street under a bush when the family came out and rescued the handful of kittens and finally the mother cat.

We had done some research and decided early on that the best fit would be to get a male cat, as our other cat, Flika, is a female. When we first visited Gunther he and his sister and brothers were resting comfortably in my husband’s friend’s basement weeks away from safely being adopted. We scooped all of the kittens up and placed them in our laps. Each cuddled up nuzzled into crevices of our arms, legs and neck—except for Gunther. After each placement back into our lap, he’d land on the floor, or climbing behind our heads or wherever he could get that was just enough out of reach that we’d have to get up and move to get him. “That’s the one I want!” exclaimed my husband. Great. Let’s settle on ADD cat!! That will go over real well with my charming little lady cat who’s as docile as docile can be.

Well a few weeks later we drove up to claim our new kitty. At first he was a sweetie. He’s nap with you, and cuddle. He and Flika had their moments until each got used to the other being a part of the family. Flika especially since this was her turf and now it was being invaded by ADD cat.

Fast forward six years and two children later. Gunther is less than amused by our girl’s chasing him down to pet him, which is a daily occurrence in our home.
This all started, and has now become a steady post-dinner ritual, when Alexandra was about two. Dad and she would run upstairs and announce “Let’s get Gunther.” Everyone lands on all fours with cocked heads to the side to get a glimpse of two scared cats under the bed. Gunther inevitably hisses and on occasion spits, but dad and the girls seem to think this is a real treat. Until today…

Alexandra has recently learned more about danger and now finds Gunther frightening if he’s a little too aggressive. As she lifts the bed skirt, Gunther lets out his usual barrage of hisses warding of the enemy. Cats do this as a warning, right, but no one here seems to heed that warning.

Annika now has gotten in on the act but has yet to learn danger. So Gunther is a little more feisty than usual today—what else is new, right. Well, Annika has now half of her miniscule cranium under the bed, arms sweeping back and forth, and until like a scene from Discovery, Gunther lunges at her and swats her chubby little arm as if he’s a lion after a gazelle.

She’s completely freaked by this incident, as is Alexadnra. Now I have two children in hysterics. After a long drawn out few mintes of wiping tears and calming fears, the girls quickly recover.

Bath and bedtime come and go, and as I exit the bedrooms after my last kiss goodnight, who’s looking at me purring? You guessed it. Gunther, the same cat who will cuddle up with me for eight hours each night and rest comfortably until a new day dawns; and the girls look for another day ofa cruel game of hide and seek.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bringin' it real the New England way!

For my friends from the Main Line to Maine, enjoy!!!
Thanks for bringing me back "home,"Laurie!

Friday, July 25, 2008

His "last lecture"...

With equal parts humor and heart, Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch delivered a one-of-a-kind last lecture that moved audiences around the globe.

Randy died July 25 of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 47.
If you've not seen his "The Last Lecture" do so today. It's an amazing display of love for his family, and his life.

Watch Randy's lecture on YouTube, download the transcript [.pdf]. (Due to heavy traffic, the transcript site may experiencing problems.)
***REPRISED VERSION given on Oprah. This is only 12 minutes long. If you see nothing else, please see this.

Learn more about Randy's book "The Last Lecture"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brains are 'a poppin'!

After watching this video you will question if you ever should talk on that phone again!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Great minds sometimes forget--or get lost!!!

I used to boast a terrific memory. I also used to think I was a terrific planner. For whatever reason both of these have taken a back seat to my kids and thus forgetting is art of my nature now.
I always was the person who sent cards on birthdays, planned for various aspects of my life—daily ad future—and was always one step ahead. Gifts were wrapped the night before a party, bills were paid a week or more in advance, lists were checked and rechecked but now I am lucky to have anything done in advance. Every aspect of my life is late, worse, lost.

Does it have anything to do with age. Maybe. But moreover I think it has much more to do with the number of balls one has in the air at once. The juggling act could warrant addition to the circus, but I think those folks actually remember what they’re tasked with!

I really do have a lot of moving parts occurring right now. I start several days a week with kid undressing and dressing, feeding, changing, remembering to remind my big girl to use the potty, wash hands, prepare and eat breakfast, pick up toys, stop hitting your sisters, and on and on. Empty the dishwasher, add more dishes, clean up breakfast, dress myself, refill sippy cups, sweep up the floor, and then we get to 8:30 when the doorbell rings and Beth our trusty second set of hands arrives and off I go to manage a whole new set of responsibilities. I end my day with more changing of diapers, full family preparations for feeding dinner, changing of clothing, baths, snuggles, stories, a variety of songs and prayers before heading back to the kitchen to prepare more meals for the following day, opening the mail, loading the dishwasher, jotting down what I need to remember for tomorrow and finally working out, folding and putting away laundry returning calls, showering, checking my email messages for the last time that day, saying prayers and hitting the hay. Ultimately something is left undone,. But that’s life, right?

Recently, I have had yet another thing that been mind consuming. It’s that Beth will be driving the kids to and from activities. Maybe some would shrug and think this isn’t a big deal but for me it’s a battle of my conscious and has kept me up for far too many nights than I care to. It’s not that I don’t trust Beth, it’s that I don’t trust anyone else.

Take for example that Alexandra was driven once in her life by another person other than me or her dad. It was the day Annika was born and my step-MIL drove her to the hospital, and back home. That was it. So now I am supposed to take a deep breath and hand over the most important people in my life and I am freaking out. I mean boarder line schizo. Beth is totally stressed out--and it doesn’t help that my husband does not have a poker face and was stressing about the car seat not having a latch! –and I am stressing about her driving, and now everyone is uncomfortable! HELP! Am I crazy, for real? I think so. I just need to breathe, to let it all out and I guess this is my own way of expressing myself for now. So, deal with me as I rant and feel free to send along any encouraging notes you may have. I sure can use them! Because for now, I am really am “losing” my mind.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Where did all the good TV go?

My hubby and I flipped through the dozens of TV channels last night to discover that MTV has yet another ridiculous, sleazy TV show--I Love Money. It's basically all of the leftovers from various seasons of I Love New York, Flavor of Love, Rock of Love, and others grotesque reality shows that feature men and women who make total fools of themselves as they try to win the "love" of a pseudo celeb. What ever happened to real TV, the goodies, the oldies?
On occasion we'll stumbled across a retro night special on a random station that feature programs like classic drama Law & Order, or funny Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, or, my hubby's fav Tool Time (don't ask me...) and get overjoyed starting with the singing of the theme songs and chiming in along with the audience laughter. We chat about how young they look, comment over the corny jokes and lighthearted dialogue, and wondered “Where did all the "good" TV go?”

One of our very favorite TV shows was American Dreams. It's a classic American tell-all dreamt up by Dick Clark and aired several years ago on NBC. It is set in the early- to mid-60s and features a middle class family in Philadelphia. Shows racial strife, political scenes of its time, teen, family and marriage struggles, and the effects of war on families. We bought the first season on DVD and luckily found the remaining seasons (three) on the web from some brilliant fellow in New Jersey who lucky for us Tivo'd the episodes. We happily bought them and enjoy them regularly.

It's certain to be a show we share with our girls, though they'll surely turn their head in disgust because of it's "old" feel. Heck, by the time they see it the show really will be old, but my thought is that it could actually serve as a lesson in history, and if nothing else, an excuse to get together in front of the TV to watch a program that where strippers are not shedding their clothing for a chance at $50!

Don't get me wrong, there are several reality TV shows that i actually do find entertaining but more that i wish would head for the hills. The Hills, isn't that one of them?

Until network execs find that reality TV has reached its hay day i suppose we'll watch reruns of American Dreams courtesy of our shady Jersey friend, and hope that our girls will enjoy it too.

Let's Hear it for this Mom!

Swimmer Dara Torres beat the odds and earned a fifth Olympic berth with a victory over the American-record holder Natalie Coughlin and coming within 0.02 of her best time ever. It is simply amazing to realize that Torres, now 40 and a mother of a two-year-old, competed at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, a time that many of her competitors weren't even born. The link below points to a pre-Olympic trials interview with Women's Health magazine where she drives home 3 points:
(1) your body can be rock-hard at 40;
(2) a baby doesn't have to slow you down; and
(3) when it comes to any goal, it's all about how bad you want it.
Let's hear it for this mommy!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Words to Live By...

Bigger Barns
"Bigger barns are what I need!" So a rich man said one day." From my worries I'll be free when my wealth is stored away."

"Fool!" God said, "Today you'll die! Will your wealth mean anything? All life's blessings really lie in my life that wealth can't bring."

"Bigger barns are what we need for our money, gadgets, more!" Lord, we're tempted to believe having wealth, we'll be secure!

Somewhere children cry for food or to have a doctor's care. Can our bigger barns be good when poor neighbors know despair?

God of love, we long to know what will make us truly blest. Jesus taught us long ago wealth won't give us peace or rest. You are our security! Safe in you, we serve, O Lord. May we find we're rich indeed when we're sharing with the poor.

My Story

Ok, so it’s been, what, a measly week since I started this blog and everything I think of that would be neat and interesting to write about--to keep readers coming back for more--when put on paper sounds so bland. So i thought I would start with my story. Don't get too excited. I am sure this is going to be as enticing as mashed peas but i'll let you be the judge...

I thought about what I wanted to achieve by blogging. Why do people blog? To tell a story--their story of live and love and the pursuit of somethingness. What that somethingness is I do not know, but I can write about the others because I am lucky enough to have experienced them in my life.

As I round the corner of my mid-30's [my 35th is a matter of days away (gasp!)] i find myself looking at things with a different set of lenses. Let me explain. Short of looking myself in the mirror and actually experiencing what other more mature women have said for years---that you really do take on a different look as you age--i have found it also takes on a whole new meaning too. Recently I learned that two people whom I am fortunate enough to have met during my life's journey are struggling in life. One—a high school classmate who was the funniest, best-looking, most popular and best overall athlete--has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and the other—an amazing mother of triplet three-year-old-girls and a boy six whom I worked with and have since become close to-- from multiple myeloma (cancer). When I first learned of these tragedies and the severity of them, I realized that we 30-somethings actually do have to be concerned with life and quality we give it. I never did think of it before, really. It is a true shock to my senses. And yet their lives are challenged each day yet they are living life to the fullest. We all should take their examples and start living today.

Far too often we bellyache that we’re not successful enough, or fit enough or smart enough. What I have learned from them is this:

“When we choose to place our lives on hold until we think we are good enough or attractive enough or thin enough or rich enough or wise enough, we quite often discover, to our dismay, that life simply isn’t long enough. You did not come here to wait. You came to live.”

I also have learned that at this phase in live we have to ask ourselves, where are you going and what kind of mark do you want to leave behind. There are three kinds of people: 1) Those who watch what happens 2) those who make things happen 3) those who wonder what happens. What kind of person do you want to be? Makes you think, huh?

So maybe I started my blog off a little too deep. But hey, it’s my story, right? And thus my life, so lets all start living.
Until tomorrow, God bless~

Thursday, July 3, 2008

To grandmother's house we go...and return

The girls and I just returned from our jaunt to the grandparents. We did a lot more running than I expected, and sadly I think the girls had spent more time in the mac truck—Oh, and did I mention that gas there is a whopping $4.80 per gallon!--in front of a video screen than I would have preferred, but it was well worth it. Got to see the family—all of them. Great-Grandparents (blessed that we have them), grandpa and grandma, Auntie Jen & Uncle James, great aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins. Headed to the Cove to ride bikes, play in the water and sand and visit with the ocean life. I got my exercise in thanks to Alexandra and her quick wheels, and Annika just loved life getting pushed around in her buggy. More about my cove adventure to come...

My only sister who teaches first-grade is convinced after being around my crew that she’s a one and done kind of mom of the future, if she even decides to get there. Here’s one example: I’ll simply and clearly call it shopping at the mall—with kids.

So, Annika pretty much had to forgo her naps all week. She slept here and there in the car, and was surprisingly a real peach. I would never have expected the same from Alexandra at this age. Anyway, anyone with kids knows naps are a sacred act of sanity and should not be messed with—ever—but hey, I never said I was perfect. So, we fashioniesta are at the mall at nap time and quickly attempt to grab and go few items to spruce up the ‘ole summer wardrobe when I have to try on a few things. Normally I would just buy and try but I already have a car load of things to take home and was quickly running out of room so I go into the fitting room and take my shopper in training with me while my loving mother maneuvers a double stroller through the zig-zag pattern of the store. Anyway, Alexandra asks if she, too, can try stuff on. Sure, why not. This if fun, ad will buy me a few minutes of trying stuff on myself. Well, she’s got all of this stuff on and really does look adorable. She then decides it would be a great idea to limbo under the fitting room wall with the clothing on her back to my sister in the next room. The shop keepers are looking at me mortified that their stuff is being dragged across the floor being pulled and prodded, and I don’t blame them. She managed to get approval from my sister that she looked like a princess and agreed to release the merchandise before we all ended up being part owners of this store.

Meanwhile, I return to my mom to see that Annika is screaming bloody murder—she wants out of the stroller—and to top it all off, her finger gets caught in the sun shade.

So, off to the registers I go only to have the cashier ring and then re-ring my stuff (this was not my fault, mind you) while my baby is in hysterics, my preschooler is trying on jewelry, sunglasses and throwing handbags over her shoulder and nearly toppling the display! My sister looks mortified, my mom is laughing inside because as a mother I am now getting a dose of what her life was like when I was a kid, and when I apologize TWICE to the cashier, he doesn’t acknowledge me!

Looking back at this day, I think my sister may just stick to her guns after all!