Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What is a Mom?

Lately I've been bothered when filling out paperwork for the pediatrician, preschool enrollment, and such because the forms usually include an area to list my job. I have been leaving that section blank, which I don't like doing, because it makes it seem like I don't have a "job." This couldn't be further from the truth! It got me thinking about all the responsibilities and roles that I play as "Mom." There is no way they could all fit on a form unless I wrote really small:  

referee, personal chef, dietitian, maid, party planner, teacher, secretary, personal shopper, nurse, librarian, manicurist, exterminator, psychologist, cheerleader, photographer, family historian, coach, judge, entertainer, interior decorator, wardrobe consultant, financial planner, masseuse, hairstylist, chauffeur, Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, nose wiper, diaper changer, coupon clipper, and finder of lost things (plus other stuff that just plain defies categorization!) 

 Being a stay at home mom is a lot of work and just thinking about this list explains why I am usually so tired at the end of the day! "Child care provider" doesn't cover all of the bases. It's no that wonder people invent terms like "domestic engineer" to describe what we moms do. However, I'm not a fan of that term, either. So, what should my job title be?

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Second Time Around

We were sitting in McDonald's when someone from my mom's group said something simple but profound to me as I was feeding bits of cheeseburger to Logan (who was 9 1/2 months old at the time): "You never would have done that with Mia." She didn't say it in a critical way. It was just a statement of fact. I wouldn't have even thought to give Mia fast food until she was well on her way to her second birthday. But Logan was already over the stage of allowing me to spoon feed him and he knew how to handle ground burger, cheese, and bread, so I thought, "Why not?" and just offered it to him. That's the difference with the second child. You're so much more relaxed about things.

As a second time parent, I don't feel the need to call the pediatrician over every little bump, bruise, and tumble. I just go with my gut instinct about what is normal and what isn't. I've finally learned to trust that "momtuition" I have about my kids. I know when they're truly sick, and I rarely get out the thermometer for confirmation when I suspect one has a fever. The age-old hand on the forehead does the trick.

Logan eats just about anything, whether it's food or not. I've learned not to fight it. He puts everything in his mouth, no matter how hard I try to prevent it. I'm not nearly as concerned about germs as I was with Mia. Obviously, I don't let him eat things that I know are dangerous, and I draw the line at chewing on rocks. However, I've given up on stopping him from eating sand, grass, and dog food. It's a lost cause. Plus, I let him eat most of what we're having during meals. He seems happy that way, and it's just easier than continuing to make purees that he refuses to be spoon-fed. I will even admit that I let him have french fries for the first time recently. (I'm not saying that this is an example of fabulous parenting, but it kept him happy while we were in a restaurant and since he only has one volume level, sonic boom, this was better for everyone in that restaurant!)

Now that I have told you how having a second child has made me a bit more relaxed in my parenting style, let me tell you how I feel I have improved as a parent the second time around. First of all, I am home full-time, whereas before Logan was born I was a working mom. Second, we have switched to cloth diapers. This is better for sooooo many reasons, and I wish that I had realized this sooner. (see previous posts for more information) Then, there is the previously mentioned homemade baby food. I feel really good about that decision, and again, I wish I had done it with Mia, too. But I don't beat myself up over it because it's easier now to determine what is really important to my kids welfare. When it's your first child, everything seems like a major decision and you're afraid to screw up. Now that it's my second time around, I've finally learned not to sweat the small stuff.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Toughest Job

I've been thinking about a shirt I saw that said, "Motherhood: The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love." I have to agree that being a stay at home mom is a great job, but it has to be the hardest job on earth! Here are some of my observations on why this is:
  1. Moms are always on duty (or at least "on call"-- remember who gets up at night?). Moms don't get lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, or coffee breaks.
  2. If your kids sleep 10 hours a night, that means you work 14 hour shifts! I don't know of too many other professions that keep such long hours.
  3. Moms don't get vacation time. I think that going away is actually more work than staying home (packing, everyone is out of their routines, keeping everyone happy in the car, and then the aftermath when you return: think LAUNDRY). 
  4. Moms don't get paid (not in money, anyway). It is nice to be there to see my kids learning and tackling new things, but sometimes I wish I made a financial contribution to our family (other than selling our used kids clothes). 
  5. Moms get very little "me time," and it is hard to take that time for yourself without feeling a bit guilty. I often think, "I should be doing something productive or spending more time with Brett."
There is no doubt that being a mom is a tough job, but it's totally worth it!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Slice of Summer Watermelon Craft

The inspiration for this project comes from: http://www.kinderart.com/painting/watermelon.shtml
Materials Needed:
completed watermelon craft projects
  • red construction paper
  • black construction paper 
  • watermelon slice (real)
  • green paint
  • scissors
  • glue 
  • paint brush
Optional Materials:
  • teardrop hole punch
  • scalloped scissors
  • black craft foam

I used two different shades of green paint on this one.
  1. Eat slice of watermelon and save the rind.
  2. Coat rind with green paint.
  3. Place rind paint side down on red construction paper and press firmly.
  4. Remove rind and discard. Allow paint to dry.
  5. Cut paper into shape of watermelon slice following green outline.
  6. Use teardrop hole punch (or scissors if you don't have a hole punch) to make black construction paper seeds. (I didn't try this, but you could also use black craft foam for added dimension.)
  7. Glue seeds to watermelon slice.
  8. Use scalloped scissors to make bite marks in the watermelon slice, if desired.
    Watermelon craft by Mia, age 3 1/2 (scalloped "bite" by Mama)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summer Sunflower Craft

Completed sunflower made by Mia, age 3 1/2

Finished Sunflowers
  • paper plate
  • brown paint
  • yellow construction paper (about 2 sheets per flower)
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • glue
  • buttons
  • bubble wrap (I didn't try this, but you could paint on the bubble wrap and then press it onto the flower's center to make a print.)
  • ink pad (I didn't try this but you could make thumb print art in the flower's center- possibly for younger children)
  • sunflower seeds or dried beans (I didn't try this, but the texture would be neat, and you could make interesting patterns in the center of the sunflower.)
  • yarn (I didn't try this, but I am envisioning a long spiral starting in the center of the flower and working outward.)
  • green construction paper (Our flowers don't have them, but you could include stems.)
  1. Turn paper plate upside down. Paint center of paper plate brown. Let dry.
  2. Cut petals from yellow construction paper. 
  3. Glue buttons or other embellishment, to center of paper plate, if desired.
  4. Glue petals onto plate so that they touch the brown center section. Work around in a circle until white part of paper plate is no longer showing.
  5. If desired, cut strip of green construction paper and glue to back of sunflower.
  6. Allow to dry completely and display your finished sunflower project.
  • I made two different sized petals. For the flowers with small petals, I folded the paper into sixteenths and then cut into strips. For the larger petals (quicker to finish, possibly better for younger children), I folded the paper into eighths and then cut into strips. 
  • I made templates for the two different sized petals, cut them out, made a pile of about 6 strips, traced template on top strip, and then cut out petals. I repeated this until I had all of my petals cut out. It saved a lot of time rather than cutting each petal individually.
  • My petals were drawn free-hand. They don't need to be perfect. They took up most of each strip of paper.

Close-up of flower with larger petals
Close-up of flower with smaller petals. I think this is more realistic.
General Crafts Tips:
  1. I like Aleene's Tacky Glue. It works for most craft materials and dries clear.
  2. I use the sponge type paintbrushes for most of Mia's projects. They have a large surface for holding paint, wash easily, and are very affordable (so if one gets ruined, I don't feel bad throwing it away). You can find them on sale at Michael's and stock up (20 for $1, usually).
  3. I usually use acrylic paints for projects. They are relatively inexpensive (I recently saw them at Michael's, 3 for $1), come in many colors, and quick-drying. The main downside to acrylics, is that they stain clothing so I usually have Mia roll up her sleeves and wear a paint smock.
  4. I like to use old plastic divided trays from microwave dinners for mixing paints. They have lasted for years and it keeps something from ending up in a landfill! If I know we will use more than a couple of colors, though, I like to use egg cartons. They're a nice size for holding little amounts of several colors and keeping them separated, if that is what you want.
  5. While waiting for paint to dry, I sometimes have another project for Mia to begin. Otherwise, a hair dryer works nicely to speed things along. 
This project was adapted from: http://mama-jenn.blogspot.com/2010/05/sunflower-crafts-galore.html

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    My Mommy Style

    I took a quiz titled "What's Your Mommy Style" in American Baby magazine and was a bit surprised at the results. I assumed that I would come out as a "planner," but I actually scored higher in the "freewheeler" category than I did in the planner category. My final results classified my mommy style as an "optimizer." They describe the optimizer style as this,
    "...you read the parenting guides, but you remain calm if you notice your baby starts teething (or talking) a few weeks later than the book says he should. And although you aim to keep a schedule, you know missed naps happen. When life goes topsy-turvy, you make the best of it." 
    I read this and thought that does sound pretty close to how I operate these days. I'm not sure I would have answered the questions the same if I had taken the quiz as a new mom or if I was still a "working" mom. ("Working" mom is kind of a misnomer since all moms are working moms!) The question is: has being a mom changed my outlook on life or is that just the natural evolution of things...

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    Teething Bites!

    Why is it that when a baby is teething, we say he's "cutting teeth?" Cutting definitely implies pain, which I know my little guy is experiencing right now. If I could, I would take the pain away. Infant pain relievers only go so far, and he is not the only one who suffers through the teething process! (Plus sleep deprivation makes me just a teensy bit grouchy. Why do new teeth always seem to come at night? ) This is why I'm glad Logan's teeth seem to be coming in more quickly than Mia's did. Although, he is kind of cute crawling around with a teething ring hanging out of his mouth.

    I find it somewhat less than cute, however, when he bites me with those sharp little teeth. Given the whole Twilight craze, I've wondered if there is money to be made selling personalized t-shirts to moms of teething little ones. They would say something like, "Forget Team Edward- I'm on Team Logan" and possibly include a picture of the adorable little guy showing off his new fangs teeth.

    In addition to biting, Logan is putting EVERYTHING he finds into his mouth. Our board book library is slowly dwindling as he not only chews on books, he chews through them! I remember Mia occasionally nibbling on a book or two, but she never ate them. I'm not sure if it's partially a boy thing, but it definitely keeps me on my toes.