Friday, July 30, 2010

Confessions of a Less-Than-Perfect Mom

I enjoy the compliments that I have gotten recently. It makes me feel awesome that people think I'm a good mom! Really, I live for this, but I have to be honest. I am far from perfect, and here are some reasons why. (Note: This list is not exhaustive. I'm sure I have selectively forgotten many offenses.)

10) This morning, I let the kids be entertained by a beetle crawling around on the bathroom floor so that I could take a shower.

9) I always forget to give Logan his vitamin.

8) Sometimes I let my children eat food that has fallen on the floor.

7) I have forced Mia to go to Story Time and play dates when she didn't want to because I HAD to get out.

6) Occasionally I paraphrase or omit words when I am tired of reading and just want Mia to go to bed.

5) I have been known to call Mia and Logan by the wrong names, including the dog's name.

4) If Mia catches me eating chocolate and asks what I'm eating, I lie and tell her raisins.

3) At 3, Mia already knows the word "frustrated" and often asks if I am feeling that way.

2) Sometimes I run into the bathroom and lock the door so I can have a couple of minutes to myself.

1) There are times when I wish that I believed in spanking.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Contests, Giveaways, and Sweepstakes, Oh My!

I have a problem. I'm currently addicted to entering drawings, contests, and sweepstakes. I am obsessed with entering them in an attempt to win free stuff! There, I said it. That's the first step to recovery, right?

I've always loved the idea of getting something for nothing. Not that this happens often, but I still keep trying, always hoping to be the lucky winner of something I obviously cannot live without (but still do not want to spend the money to purchase for myself). The appeal of winning free toys, craft supplies, or some other great thing is too much for me to resist. I will even admit that I have entered the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes on at least one occasion. You know, "You may already be a winner!" It's hard to pass up such an opportunity even though I am normally a reasonably intelligent person. I know the odds are not in my favor. That's why I don't buy lottery tickets.

Going from a two-income family to a one-income family has renewed my interest in giveaways. I've been going a bit overboard now that I have discovered a bunch of them on Facebook. And they're for cloth diapers and cloth diaper accessories, another love of mine, so it is tough to pass them up. I really am trying to cut back. I know I can't go cold turkey, and really, why should I? There might be some fantastic contest right around the corner and I will be drawn in by its Siren song. Anyone know of a twelve step program for giveaway junkies?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Story Time

The recent finale of summer Story Time at our local library had me reflecting on the reading that I have done lately. Mia logged something around 26 books for that final week (and that is just the titles that I recorded-- not counting 2nd, 3rd, and umpteenth readings of any given book). I am glad that she loves to read, but I do get tired of reading the same books repeatedly. This is why I made her get in line with me to get the free book that Ms. Irene was giving the kids at the end of Story Time. Mia has been oddly shy around Ms. Irene this summer, and has refused to go get her rewards each week. I have stood by and watched her do this even though it frustrated me a bit, but I was not passing up something NEW to read! (Plus, she was giving out Dora coloring books, and I knew that Mia had to have that even if she claimed she didn't like Dora. Obviously, this is not true, and she asked for it later that day.)

I am sad to say that I don't remember the last book I read for myself. I know it was at some point when Logan was still unaware that books existed he would let me read while nursing. Now, he tears the pages and eats them. (In case you are wondering, I am still able to frequently use my computer while he nurses.) Sometimes, I miss those days of reading whatever I wanted. Both my mom and my sister-in-law have loaned me books and I wonder if I will ever get around to reading them. And I love reading. I just find that there are so many things that need to be done that at the end of the day, when I have a few moments to myself, I would rather do something else (like vegetate in front of the TV). On the other hand, it would be nice to read something that doesn't rhyme.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do You Know the Muffin Man?

It seems like I am constantly humming or singing some kids song or nursery rhyme. They play in my mind for hours and sometimes days at a time. Recently, I had "The Grand Old Duke of York" stuck in my head. I think it was the last song we had heard in the car, and then it played on an endless loop in my head until our next car trip. After that I was stuck with "Do You Know the Muffin Man?" for the next day or so. I don't know what it is about these songs that makes them so hard to forget. It could be that they are short or that we listen to them over and over and over. Or maybe there is some weird conspiracy to make parents slowly lose their sanity in an attempt to keep kids reasonably happy during car trips. Lately, Mia won't even let me listen to the radio. She asks to hear a CD. I know I shouldn't always give in to what she wants but sometimes listening to kids CDs is better than listening to a whining child. Plus, if I'm ever on Jeopardy and the category is Nursery Rhymes, I'll clean up since I know that the Muffin Man lives on Drury Lane.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In Search of Super Mom

Lately I have been thinking about the ideal of "Super Mom." I wonder if she is really out there or if like Big Foot, she's a fantastic story that few truly believe in. I suppose it's a matter of opinion, depending upon what expectations you hold for the title of "Mom." Here are some ideas I had for myself.

Before I had kids, I wanted to be the mom who baked and decorated all of their birthday cakes instead of buying them from the store. So far, I am 3 for 3. Mia's first two birthdays included cupcakes that I frosted and then displayed on a tiered metal stand. This was fairly simple, but the effect was nice. For her third birthday, I decided on something more elaborate, a three-layer castle cake with ice cream cone towers. My practice cake was a disaster, but miraculously, the actual birthday cake looked wonderful (and was delicious, too!). Of course, the problem now is how to top that? Logan's first birthday is quickly approaching, and I feel the need to make sure his party is as nice as Mia's was! This could be an issue.

Before I had kids, I wanted to be the mom who made all of their Halloween costumes. Brett got me a sewing machine, and I attempted to learn to sew. My sister-in-law kindly spent a LOT of time working with me. I did manage to finish a couple of projects, but I determined that I do not like to sew! As far as making Halloween costumes goes, I am 0 for 4. I didn't feel to badly about buying all of Mia's costumes so far (pumpkin, butterfly, and pink poodle). Logan's first Halloween costume was handed down from his cousins, and he was a darling little sweet pea. I accept the fact that I could never had made anything so cute, anyway.

Before I had kids, I wanted to be the mom who breastfed for at least a year (exclusively for the first 6 months). I succeeded with Mia despite working full-time and frying a couple of AC adapters for my breast pump. Then, at about 23 months, I decided I was done with nursing. Now, Logan is 10 1/2 months and going strong. I am hoping to be able to let him nurse until he decides he is done. We'll see how that goes...

Before I had kids, I wanted to be the mom who made all of her own baby food. I was too overwhelmed as a first-time mom to manage this while working full-time. I feel a bit bad about that since Mia ate that awful jar stuff (although, she never complained)! Once I started making food for Logan, I realized how easy it was. I was sad when he decided he was going to feed himself, and I didn't need to keep making yummy, fresh purees for him. It's so much cheaper, plus he has had a greater variety of foods and everything looks, smells, and tastes more like actual food.

Before I had kids, I wanted to be the mom who does sign language with her baby. It definitely did not happen with Mia. However, she turned out fine! Once she started talking around age 1, she quickly strung words together, and now she is extremely verbal. People comment everywhere we go about how well she speaks, and they are surprised to learn that she is only 3. Logan is very different. He is much more active, although he is becoming more and more vocal. I am considering brushing off this ideal and trying out the sign language with him. Notice I have not committed to it, however.

Before I had kids, I wanted to be the mom who cloth-diapered. I gave up on this idea pretty quickly when considering day cares for Mia. In retrospect, I wish I had checked out the options. I didn't even realize what major improvements they've made to cloth diapers, and now I realize that we could have cloth diapered at home even if we used disposables for day care. I began thinking about this again when I was pregnant with Logan, but I still wasn't sure I could manage it. After 2 months of trying everything else to clear up his diaper rash (he was red everywhere the disposables came in contact with his skin!), we borrowed some cloth diapers from a friend and never looked back. I LOVE our Fuzzi Bunz!

Perhaps the oddest part of all of my expectations for myself as a mom is that I wanted to do all of these things while working full-time. I am finding it is so much easier to be the mom I wanted to be since I am at home with the kids. On the other hand, it makes me want to be that much more of the ideal mom! I have tried to remind myself that there is really no such thing as "Super Mom." There are women who have done all of the things I hoped to do (and perhaps, more), and they are all SUPER. And there are women who have done none of those things, and perhaps, they have found other ways to be SUPER. What I really try to remind myself is that all moms are SUPER just because they are moms. We have to be. Failure is not an option when it comes to our children. The important thing is to recognize success, no matter how small. After all, it's the little things that matter the most.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Guilty Pleasure

I will admit that I watch "Toddlers & Tiaras" on TLC. Brett calls it my "guilty pleasure," but I prefer to think of it as a "reality check." This show reaffirms that I am a good mom. Okay, normally I try not to be too judgmental of other moms. I know that everyone is doing the best they can, but the moms who are featured on this show are a bit nutso, if you ask me! Plus, it is hard to feel guilty about judging people who voluntarily go on a reality-type TV program.

To listen to these moms talk, their kids must have the best of everything in order to compete. Supposedly they will be found lacking if they don't have a $1500 dress, false eyelashes, professionally applied makeup, and a spray tan. Not being familiar with the pageant scene, I don't know if this is true or not. I understand that it's a competition and small details can make a difference in scoring, but where do you draw the line as to what is essential and what is over the top? Personally, I think the flippers are a bit much. Do children really need false teeth to look beautiful? I suppose they do when the desired outcome is for the child to look like an adult beauty queen, who would obviously have all of her teeth.

What drives these moms to put their kids in pageants? They often say for the prize money, which they claim will help pay for college. I'm not sure how that works when they've invested far more than the top prize just to compete, often thousands of dollars a year. Then, of course, there is the cost of preparing for the next pageant (spa treatments, travel expenses, entry fees, more clothes, etc.). I have to believe that the cash prizes are not the draw of pageants. Do pageant moms want to live vicariously through their daughters? Or is it about self-esteem issues? Some of the moms say that they do pageants to build up their daughters' self-esteem, but I wonder if it is actually the moms who need the boost. I have heard at least one participant say she was going to "win a big crown for Mama!" So, who's the real winner in pageants?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Away We Go!

We just recently returned from our first real family vacation (of more than one night away from home), and it goes without saying that traveling with kids is quite an adventure! I realized at some point during our trip that I was never really going to be able to relax. We were away from home and completely out of our routines, however mundane they may be. I spent most of a week preparing for the trip which lasted 4 days and three nights at my parents' house Up North.

First, I made a packing list for Mia, Logan, our dog Ritzy, and myself. I knew I would be responsible for packing all of our stuff and Brett would have to take care of his own packing. Next, I spent quite awhile figuring out car activities for Mia to make it through the 5 hour trip, which I was sure would take much longer. (It didn't, thankfully!) I really, really wanted to be prepared for entertainment, and we don't have or plan to purchase a DVD player for the car anytime soon.

I looked all over the internet for car game ideas and asked friends and family for suggestions, too. Then, I took the ideas I thought would work best and started assembling a car trip kit. My kit included 6 lace-up cards that I made from cereal box sides cut into animal shapes, hole-punched around the edges, and threaded with yarn that I had taped on one end so it wouldn't unravel. I made a lion, a generic bird, a penguin, a parrot, a dog that looked like Ritzy (bichon frise), and a bunny. (Mia wasn't interested in these at all, but at least I have them for our next trip.) One thing that I included that Mia did enjoy was stickers and large index cards to put them on. Another idea I got from my sister-in-law was giving her surprise bags every so often. I made six in case I needed one for each hour of the trip. Each one had a small treat (Dum Dum sucker, trail mix I made with stuff from the pantry, fruit snacks), sticker sheet, and a small toy. She liked the vinyl window clings the best. I think I will go to the Dollar Store for more the next time we are traveling. Mia also liked the Disney princess slide puzzle, even though it may never look the way it did originally! She was excited about the beach ball and red, white, and blue headbands (which I knew were not really car activities, but I thought she would like them). One definite mistake I made was the Dora paddle ball toy. This is NOT a good car activity, especially when the person using it is sitting right next to a baby! I had Color Wonder coloring books and markers, which we had laying around at home, but she didn't want those in the car. Also, I made a reusable activity book that I thought was perfect. It included coloring pages, activity pages, and car bingo games and a car scavenger hunt (which I found on a nice website called I put these all in plastic page protectors and had dry erase markers to use with them plus pocket tissues for cleaning them off. Mia wasn't at all interested in this, but again, I have it for the future. I was proud of myself, though. I made almost all of that stuff and didn't have to spend any money except $6 at the Dollar Store for the little toy items and a bag of Dum Dums.

In retrospect, packing more food would have been better. We stopped for fast food both on the way there and on the way back. We're pretty cheap about what we get, but still, we could have saved some money. On the other hand, we made these stops approximately half way through our journey (both ways) and it was a good way to break up the trip. Luckily, both kids slept well, 2 or more hours of the drive. We made it through, and learned a few things for when we hit the road again.