December 29, 2011

A Christmas story...

Here it is, a quick overview of our Christmas...

First, we made gingerbread houses



The finished product



This is what happens when Grandma comes for Christmas



And the fun begins



Time for new traditions; our first family Christmas



Rachel all dressed up for church



She most certainly was not camera shy



Mommy and Rachel- I have two whole pictures with her from 2011.



And now with daddy



And, of course, how can we leave out this adorable coat?




I hope you all had fabulous holidays as well!

December 23, 2011

O holy night...

It brings tears to my eyes every single time.

O Holy Night

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;

In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

December 16, 2011

Merry Christmas...

I didn't have time to round up a guest for Casual Conversation Friday so I figured it would instead be a perfect day to "send" you all my Christmas card. This is for my Blog World friends who read my blog but don't know me well enough to have received this via email.

Merry Christmas to you all! Thanks for another great year!

December 14, 2011

Kissing cousins...

Last weekend my brother and his family visited for the holidays. They have three boys (I'll stop so you can all take a moment to gasp...) and Rachel adores every single one of them.

My sister-in-law snapped this picture of the two youngest cousins (they're only 9 months apart).



We may have "encouraged" this pose just a bit, but isn't it adorable?

December 8, 2011

S.O.S...

Okay folks, it's that time again. I need help.

What do you do with a 23-month old child who is experiencing growing pains and the onslaught of two-year molars? Oh, and by the way, she's a thumb sucker. She sucks her thumb so much that it's turning red and raw; and the more painful it gets the more she feels the need to soothe herself so the more she tries to suck on it... and the vicious cycle continues. And, don't forget, she also gnaws on that thumb to lesson the pain of those incoming chompers. Plus, there's a cherry on top of all of this- she misses her daddy. He's been gone a lot this semester and not having him around really stresses her out.

Last night a fly on the wall of my dining room caught the two of us crying into our dinner together. I tried everything I could possibly think of to help her.

She cried because pretty much everything on her poor little body hurt;
I cried because my heart hurt.
She watched Elmo; I sat with her and hugged her close.
She ate frozen yogurt and ice chips; I drank a Diet Coke.
She tried to stuff her thumb into her mouth; I made her cry even harder when I pulled it back out.
I gave her Tylenol, teething rings, even a pacifier (which she hasn't used since I was on maternity leave). Nothing helped.

So, I beg you. Please. Help. Me.

December 2, 2011

Journey of life...

What a special day it is! Today on Casual Conversation Friday I am featuring a dear friend from Journey of Life. Charissa and I have been friends since college. She helped me through some difficult times, was a bridesmaid in my wedding, and now lives thousands of miles away (boo hoo).

Just five short months ago Charissa became a new mom so I decided to check in with her and see how things are going.

Thanks Charissa!


Me: Sometimes new moms struggle with a loss of identity as it can be difficult to make the adjustment from “Married” to “Married with Children,” and “Me” to “Me, the Mom.” How have you continued to be “you” yet still make room for the “new you”?
Her:
Between all of the day-in/day-out feedings, diaper changes and lack of sleep routine it's easy to lose yourself and become so wrapped up in everything baby. I hadn't really noticed that I had been sucked into the loss of identity until I met with a coworker and all I could talk about, all I could think of, was my baby. Now, I'm not trying to say that thinking of your baby all day every day is bad. I just took it as a reminder that there is more to me than being a mom. I am a whole person. That whole person is made up of being a wife, being a professional worker, a performer, being a mom, a friend, sister, daughter, etc. Those are many of the identities I 'wear.'

That being said, there is one part of me that I will treasure the most all my life and that's my singing voice. I love to sing, I love to perform, I love every aspect of it. In the past, I had been involved in a caroling quartet during the Christmas season. After having my son, I had decided not to be involved in the quartet for a season. It was going to be too hard, too stressful, way too much work and all that would have detracted from enjoying the gigs/performances. I told my mom (the best mom in the world) that I wasn't going to sing this year and she reminded me of how important singing is to me. She volunteered to watch Evan anytime that was needed during the caroling season. She also told me that she would be willing to pick him up/drop him off if I needed that. And, on top of all of that, she said I could stay over at her house if that was needed. Seriously, did I mention the best mom in the world?!? All that to say, I am going to be a caroler again this season. I'm still worried about the scheduling of it all. I work 40 hours and then gig about 20-25 hours during December. It will be CRAZY! Will there be times that I wish I had not been a caroler? Probably. Will there be precious moments and Evans firsts that I miss? I don't want to talk about it :( But all in all, I know I would have regretted not being a singer for at least one month out of the year. This is the one time that I get to do something that is just for me!

Married to Married with Children...do you really want to go there? My husband and I have definitely been challenged in our marriage since our son was born, in many different aspects. We've never had such 'heated discussions' before ;) Money is tight, baby is screaming, neither of us have slept a solid 6 hours in MONTHS...of course we are going to argue. At the very same time, I've never had a stronger and deeper love for my husband. Seeing him play with Evan, seeing Evan smile and laugh at him, brings tears of joy to my eyes. I didn't know how much I could really love my husband until I saw him sleeping with my son on his chest. Granted, he was drooling so I had to laugh at him too! :) We won't even talk about the lack of marital things happening in our bed where the baby just puked all over! :)

How do I balance it all? I'll let you know after December...if I survive!! :)

Me: I’m jealous. There I said it. You have one of the most amazing jobs ever…one that allowed you to adjust your schedule and spend some of your working hours at home. How did you approach that request, and win?
Her: I really am blessed to work for a spectacular institution that allowed be to have a flexible schedule arrangement. At first, I was nervous and totally naive about the whole process and what it would take to get a flexible work schedule approved. When I first talked it over with by immediate supervisor, she was not keen on the idea. This is her first supervisor role, and to have to supervise an employee working from home was a little out of her comfort zone. She and I talked about ways to approach this kind of request and the first thing she suggested I do is talk with each of my co-workers individually and get a sense of what tasks we could swap in order to have enough 'non-confidential' tasks to do from home. (Let me say here that I work in the registrar's office of a college and a lot of my tasks have pretty confidential information involved. I knew I wouldn't be able to bring student files home with me, transcripts to evaluate or anything else with Social Security Numbers. That put quite a damper on what tasks I COULD bring home.) After we got all of that squared away and my boss approved, I talked with my HR about the process I should go through for the institution. I researched how to right a flexible schedule proposal online. It was fairly easy to find a template with questions that helped me think through many of the details that I wouldn't have thought about. I had to give details (LOTS of details) about how I would track my time, the tasks I could bring home and keep confidential items at home, the way I would connect to our schools network (www.logmein.com allows me to connect to my desktop at work from my laptop at home), the approximate hours at work vs. hours at home, the reason behind the request (DUH, I want to see my baby more often!), the benefits to the employer, etc. It took me about a month to get every word exactly the way I felt best portrayed my thoughts and desires in a professional manner. This proposal had to be approved by my boss, her boss, and then passed to HR for approval. After that, it went to the Executive Cabinet of the institution for the final approval.

It took 3 days after the meeting for me to hear that it was approved...those were the longest days EVER! I was 7 months pregnant and desperately wanted this to work out. On the third day, I received an email from a member of the cabinet. My proposal was approved with some stipulations: I had to track my tasks in a more detailed way than I had originally suggested, I had to have bi-weekly check-ins with my boss, and I was on a 3 month trial period (the schedule will be re-evaluated; it will be determined at that point whether or not I can continue). I was so excited about the approval!

Let me say a couple of things about this arrangement. It's not entirely all it's cracked up to be. Don't get me wrong, I am SO thankful I get to be with my son 20 extra hours a week. I was home the first time Evan rolled over. I'm here to help him sit up and try to balance. But there is a downfall; it is incredibly hard to get your hours in at home when your baby is having a melt down or when he decides not to take his normal 3 hour nap...three days in a row :) Evan is a very active baby and likes being held and played with All. The. Time. It just makes it hard to focus on work and getting the same quality at home as I do at work. It was a major adjustment for me and I'm still working out some of the kinks. But it's getting better with practice and as Evan gets older and is able to play by himself.


Me: What new mom/baby struggles have you faced that you weren’t anticipating? Where have you found unexpected joys?
Her:
Every mama wants to think that her baby is going to be the sweet, calm, non-fussy newborn that eats and sleeps and doesn't have major melt-downs every two hours....or around the clock. I imagined that my baby would be a dream child that was content in all circumstances. I knew that there would be moments of crankiness, I wasn't totally delusional. But, I wanted to think that my sweet boy would be angelic! HA! Was I ever wrong? The first two weeks were fantastic. Evan was small at birth (5lbs, 13oz) and so I had to feed him ever 2 hours on the clock. With that amount of food in his belly, he would go right back to sleep and stay asleep for hours. Around 3 weeks, he was staying awake longer and able to stretch feedings to every 3-3.5 hours. With that, his attitude toward life outside the uterus changed...dramatically! He was a screamer. He would cry and cry for no reason for hours and hours and hours. It was the worst thing ever! It stressed me out, I was still pretty emotional and hormonal and would just cry with him. I remember a friend came over one day and could tell that I was on the verge of meltdown myself. She gave me a great "present." She took Evan and told me to go into my bedroom and cry it out for however long I needed. Man, I cried. I cried hard and long. It felt so good (and guilt-free because I wasn't crying in front of my baby). That was the perfect 'gift' for that moment.

Unexpected joys? All. The. Time! Every time my son gives me a smile. When my husband interacts with Evan. When Evan jabbers and blows bubbles. When he squeals sitting in his bumbo while watching mama cook. When he falls asleep in a friends arms (I love watching other people love on my boy!!). Last week, he rolled over for the first time and we caught the second time on video...I didn't know my heart could sore so high! Unexpected joy found in the little things give you the opportunity to celebrate every day.


Me: Any last words?
Her: Don't you think I've said enough? :) I would love to leave you with something insightful....but I'll leave with this. Being a work away from home mom is hard. The first couple of weeks back on the job are the hardest but, you will survive. It took me about 4 weeks to get into the swing of working, coming home to cook, clean, take care of my baby, make sure my husband feels loved, and on and on. It was like nothing I every thought and everything I always dreamed. It's hard, taxing, exhausting. But it is totally worth it. I look into my son's eyes, I make some funny face/noise, he smiles at me with his big ol' toothless grin and everything becomes right in the world. That single smile gets me through the day.

Unexpected joy found in the little things give you the opportunity to celebrate every day.

Her: I am so honored to guest post for you Angie. You and I go a long way back and it means a lot to me that you would ask me to do this for you. :) Love ya, girl!



I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! And don't forget, if you would like to be featured please feel free to email me at professionalmotherhoodATyahoo.com.

November 30, 2011

Please don't hate me for saying this...

It's Working Mom Wednesday!
Four day weekends are nice but the transition back to work can be challenging! How are you doing with the transition?


Challenge? What challenge? I'm doing just peachy. In fact, one might even say that I am adjusting quite well and am rather glad to be back at work.

Before you start hurling insults and rotten vegetables please let me finish....

I love Thanksgiving, really I do. I love cooking the meal and hosting family and, of course, eating lots of guilt-free goodies (calories don't count if you're consuming them on a holiday). I love spending time with Jake and Rachel, and putting up our Christmas decorations on Friday, and watching cheesy movies on ABC Family together. I even love the cool late-November weather and the early smell of winter.

But, I also love schedules and a regular, less filling, food intake. And, I'm sure this will make me sound like a monster but, I also love that I can sit here in peace (with my Christmas jazz music) and not have to chase down a child, or scold a child, or feed/clean up after a child, or figure out why a child who was perfectly happy a second ago is now SCREAMING.

Staff who are covered by a Union at the institution where I work start earning more vacation than professional staff after they have more than a million years of service (which roughly rounds to 25). I know some of my co-workers don't think this is right; we should earn more vacation time than secretarial and clerical staff. But, honestly, I'm okay with it. I'm not sure what I would do with 216 hours of vacation time every year. Put your calculators down folks, I'll do the math for you. 216 hours is just over five weeks.

First of all, I don't have time to take five weeks off. Secondly, I can't afford to go anywhere so even if I did use that much vacation time I would probably end up being stuck at home for the majority of it...doing manual labor. What kind of vacation is that?

If I chose not to work my rear off at home for five weeks I could instead spend the time with Rachel. Yes, that sounds wonderful and yes I wish I could spend more time with her. I'm just not sure that it would be good for us to spend five whole weeks together. It would start out fine but eventually I would get tired of having to say "Stop!" so often and she would get bored with me (Have I mentioned that I'm not a hip hop happenin' totally awesome and way energetic fun bubbly mom who can chase around a two-year old all day?). If I took a few days off each month I’m sure that by August she would be begging me to stop. (Disclaimer) Okay so this probably isn’t true. I’m sure I could find lots of fun things for us to do together and honestly it does sound fabulous. So before you scold me for being a horrible mother (this is the part where you promise not to hate me) just remember that I'm a working mom for several reasons and they're not all related to finances.

Anyway, long story short (I'm not sure if that's true or not, is this short?) I loved having five fun-filled days off for Thanksgiving; I loved spending time with my family; I loved not setting my alarm every morning; I loved being able to enjoy life at home.

And now...

I'm thankful to be back at work. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the status quo.

November 28, 2011

I'm thankful for...

For some reason I can never seem to correctly time my blog posts with the holidays. I am forever posting Christmas wishes in January and Halloween pictures in December. But that's the beauty of having a blog centered around being a working mom...I can always blame it on being too busy (whether this is currently true or not).

For those of you who were on the edge of your seat in anticipation, here it is (in no particular order)...

My "I'm Thankful For" List:

1. The standard stuff that almost everyone includes on their lists. You know, friends, family, good job, a decent place to live, good health, etc. Next.

2. Enough free time to decorate my office with winter-type adornments that suggest it to be a certain unnamed time of the year (That's what happens when you work for a state institution folks...having to be PC happens to the best of us).

3. Little People Nativity sets. I bought one for Rachel this year and used it to explain the Christmas story to her. I wasn't sure if she was paying attention until I found the three wise men on the front porch...they were traveling from afar (to the living room).

4. Elmo. We have officially become "those" parents. You know, the ones who turn on the TV and let their child watch it for an hour so we can collect our sanity. And you know what? It's really not so bad after all.

5. My "social life". You should know that I use these words lightly. "Social life" actually refers to the fact that I am able to attend Bible study twice a month, Bunco night once a month, and Church Council. None of that would be possible without the help of my parents and a few other assorted angels.

6. Starbucks. Yes, they made the list. Why wouldn't they?

7. The Kill Squad. I suppose this also require a bit of an explanation. The Kill Squad is our herd of black cats that we adopted this summer. They live outside and kill mice, and by the looks of what is left on our sidewalks every morning they're doing a pretty good job.

8. Prayer. Oh my goodness. Where would I be if I couldn't pray?! Yikes.

9. My past; I'm thankful for every single bit of it- every wrong turn I have ever taken, every horrible boss I have ever had, every bad decision I have ever made....I'm thankful for it all. At times it's been a long road (and at other times it's been a fabulous journey!), but my past has made me the person I am today. And although some might not agree, I think I'm a bit of okay.

10. Laughter. What a gift laughter is. Always remember that.

November 18, 2011

Me again...

The problem with hosting a mom blog or a working mom blog is that, well, being a mom sometimes gets in the way of blogging. I had someone lined up to visit with us on today's Casual Conversation Friday but, understandably, mom stuff took over her schedule and she couldn't make it. So, we'll look forward to hearing from her next week. Until then.... you can listen to another interview with...me (Do I hear applause and cheers of joy ?).


Me: The holidays are coming! Don't you just love this time of year?
Me Again: Absolutely! I love everything about the holidays. I even love the busy holiday schedules because that means God has blessed us with plenty of loving friends and family.

Me: So, what has Rachel been up to lately?
Me Again: Well, she recently discovered mommy's new phone (my ipad) and loves to do FaceTime with Grandma Marcia. She really loves having a new audience for her ham-it-up routine.

Also, yesterday at daycare she announced that Elmo was sick, which required all the other dolls and toys and blankets to vacate the crib to make room for the oh so precious Elmo. After his nap she tossed him into the seat of her car and announced that he was going to the doctor (apparently he had a very sore throat). She continues to amaze me. Every day she learns something new...and makes us laugh just a little bit harder.

Me: How is work going?
Me Again: Oh you know, same old same old. I'm finally finishing up some projects that I started over a year ago so that's good. Other than that....I'm sure you don't care about all of the details. But, you know, every day I wonder how I got to be so lucky....I still love my job.

Me: Any final thoughts?
Me Again: I have yet to master the whole "I make healthy meals for my family regularly" thing. I know that I should do this and I know how to do it but....I just can't seem to find the motivation to plan ahead. Plus, I spend so much time keeping my life organized. Can't I just fail at this one thing...and not feel bad about it?


Thanks folks, and have a great weekend!

And don't forget, if you would like to be a guest on Casual Conversation Friday feel free to send me an email at professionalmotherhoodATyahoo.com.

November 15, 2011

I don't want (her) to grow up...

Last spring I went to a dance recital that highlighted the changes we experience in life. One of the dances featured the youngest class, dressed in little pink tutus, performing to a song that just about ripped my heart out. As they jumped and twirled to the words, "If they could stay this little" and, "Please don't ever grow up," the two oldest girls in the program (who were poised to graduate from high school) stood by and watched them, hand-in-hand, with their parents. I can only imagine what was going through the minds of all the mothers and fathers who had children on the stage.

Meanwhile, I held Rachel tightly (maybe a little too tight) in hopes that perhaps I could stop time, if only for a second. And, if I remember correctly, I cried. Of course I did.... I cry at everything.

I know that we want our children to grow up. We want them to experience all that life has to offer, and have the opportunity to change their world. But, why must it be so difficult to stand by and watch them? Rachel is already old enough to tell me, "Mommy, I do it." I can't bear the thought of what she'll say five, ten, or fifteen years from now. I'm sure it will go something more like, "Mom, I've already done it. I don't need you".

During the past few weeks several events (both personal and public) have reminded me, again, that the world can be evil. Not everyone who comes in contact with my little girl will be nice to her. She'll get hurt by boys and friends and co-workers and complete strangers. She won't always win or get a trophy. And sometimes she'll burn her hand or pinch a finger or fail a test or be turned down for a job.

Growing up is difficult. But you know what is even more difficult? Watching someone else do it.

Welcome to Parenthood.

November 10, 2011

Mrs. clean...

For the record, I am not crazy.
But, I do need to confess something...

I've been cleaning.

Like a crazy woman.

Our house is almost a century old, and is on a dusty gravel road. It collects dirt and bugs and all kinds of other yucky disgusting stuff. We also have two fat lazy cats who produce a lot of yucky disgusting stuff. In short, my house is dirty. Well, it was dirty. But now, it's clean. Spotless even (okay, so that is a bit of an exaggeration- I can tell you exactly which parts I didn't touch because I was just too tired to care anymore).

After two full "vacation" days, a Saturday afternoon, and several late evenings I can finally sleep in peace knowing that my cupboards are clean, there are no dust bunnies lurking behind or under furniture, and all dead bugs have been disposed of.

Spring is normally the time that I do this kind of cleaning, but this year I couldn't fit it into my schedule. For a while I was able to pretend that I didn't notice how disgusting our living space was getting. Sure, I clean it on a regular basis but still...it was gross. And, after twenty-some hours of back-wrenching labor (maybe not back-wrenching but hey, it wasn't a walk in the park either) our house is finally CLEAN.

When I close my eyes I see a perfectly organized kitchen, sparkling floors, and dust free door frames. It's just magical. Of course, this didn't come without a price tag. I am exhausted, my hands are sore from scrubbing, my feet hurt, and I can't get the smell of cleaning supplies out of my nose.

And,

you know what this means...

Next week, I'll do my regular cleaning and wonder how on earth the house got so dirty.

And then I'll remind myself to schedule my 2012 Fall Cleaning.

October 28, 2011

Veronica...

Okay ladies (and gentlemen?) let's give a warm welcome to today's Casual Conversation Friday guest...my cousin and dear friend, Veronica.

Veronica, bless her little heart, is a soon-to-be new mommy. She's due on November 8th(?). Several months ago she told me that perhaps she would like to have her baby on 11-11-11 (yes, that would be cool). However, she has since seen the error in her thinking and is ready to have this baby NOW. So, let's listen in on her thoughts as she prepares for the big day.

Oh, and a big thanks to V for agreeing to be my guest today. You are so very dear to me and it hurts my heart to know that you and your little one will be 1,000 miles away from me...thank God for telephones.


Me: Okay, you’re going to be a mom soon. What’s going through your head right now?
Her: I am so ready and so not prepared... all at the same time! I am so excited to meet the little guy who has been kicking me for the last several months, but terrified too. Anxiety is the word of the day (every day). I am so tired of the discomforts that seem to get worse every day. I am absolutely terrified of the delivery part of this nine-month process. And yes, I know that all of you mothers out there will tell me that I won't even remember the bad stuff once I see my little guy. But still, does it have to be so disgusting & invasive?!

Me: What piece of advice have you gotten so far that you can’t wait to incorporate into your parenting? What advice have you heard that seemed quite useless?

Her: I can't wait to take naps during the day (sleep when your baby sleeps). I am also curious about the whole whiskey on the gums when he starts teething (ha!). A bad suggestion that my grandma gave me was to breast feed in the car (while the car is moving!). Sorry grandma, but people don't do that anymore! I also heard that having a kid is like getting a tattoo on your face - you had better make sure you want it! I already have a tattoo, and I wish I could get rid of it... but, don't worry, I'm okay with keeping the baby.

Me: In just a few short weeks you’re going to join the ranks of Working Mom. How do plan to adjust to this change?
Her: I imagine I will be more grumpy due to the exhaustion. We probably won't be going to bed after we eat dinner and watch TV for an hour or two. We may have to stay up later (past 9:00). I will actually have to put effort into my time management.

Me: Any last words?
Her: I am very excited to start this journey of parenthood. There are a lot of things I want to do differently than my parents (I will try to attend more of his extra-curricular activities), and many things I want to do the same (family road trips, camping, learning to laugh together). I am also looking forward to seeing my husband as a father. I know I picked a good one!
Me again: P.S. Her family is fabulous at laughing together.


Isn't she just adorable? She's going to make a wonderful mommy and I'm fully confident that she'll one day look back on this conversation and laugh, just a little, at how much she has learned. I love you V!

And don't forget....
If you also have some great words of advice or ideas to share with the rest of us and want to be a guest on a Casual Conversation Friday please contact me at professionalmotherhoodATyahoo.com.

Anyone is welcome, so if you're not a working mom, or even a mom...no worries because we all have something to say and non-mommies are welcome to share with us as well!

October 25, 2011

How to...

I can claim that I have almost written the book on:
How to Write a Syllabus
How to Hold Effective Classroom Discussions
How to Incorporate Technology into the Classroom
How to Design Writing Assignments
How to Create Learning Portfolios
How to Motivate Students
How to Use Rubrics
How to Work With Concept Maps

and...wait for it...

How to Integrate Cognitive Processes & Learning Strategies

And that's just the beginning folks! I have such a totally awesome and way stellar life, don't I?

Seriously though.... I need the new month to start so I can take a break from writing workshop material and instead work on reconciling budgets. Now, THAT is an exciting and way stellar life.

Oh well, it could be worse.

I could be conducting a library audit. That's scheduled for later, much later.

October 19, 2011

The great pumpkin...

Question:
What does a pumpkin suitable for carving, an almost 2-year old child, and Elmo have in common?

Answer:
Nothing...until this past weekend!


The location: our backyard




And so we begin




Rachel had her very own pumpkin




Daddy hard at work




Time to get directions from the experts




Let's collect the cats so they too can be involved




Look grandma and grandpa, we're almost done!




Daddy and Rachel with their Elmo pumpkin. Of course the picture wouldn't be complete without a black cat.... and an attention-grabbing cracker.

October 18, 2011

Rachel's favorite things...

My little Rachel just hit the 21-month mark. So, what is our little busy gal up to these days?

Well, here are a few of her current favorite things:


1. Pumpkins. She loves them. Not a magazine article, commercial, or yard decoration goes by that she doesn't notice...and point out...at least a dozen times.

2. Elmo. It's not Sesame Street anymore folks, its Elmo.

3. Macaroni and Cheese. For those of you who have known me for a while, you might remember that I HATE CHEESE. So, having a child who asks for Cheese (her version of the words Macaroni and Cheese) at every, single, stinkin’ meal is just a little bit disgusting.

4. Hawkeyes. Yep, that's right. My job is done. She can't count or say her alphabet yet but she knows who to cheer for and, really, that's all that matters.

5. Books. Favorites include: Puppy Go (Go Dog Go), Man (The Gingerbread Man), Ham (Green Eggs and Ham), Baa (Mary Had a Little Lamb), and Rainbow (Moses and the Ark).

6. The Sun and Moon and Stars. She has been pointing out the moon to us for several months now but lately she has also become adamant that we see the stars and are aware that the sun is hot.

7. Daddy. Everyone else is basically just a means to get to her daddy.

8. Daycare. Rachel just loves going to Jane's house. On weekends she asks for her friends and every morning on the ride over she questions us quite thoroughly to ensure that we are, in fact, going to Jane's.

9. Monkey PJs. Her winter pajamas have monkeys on the feet and once those things are on all eyes must be on her toes. She wiggles them and then laughs as the faces scrunch up and the ears move.

10. Talking. She must get this from her dad. Okay, that's not true (at all) but all I can say is wow....she certainly has a lot to say and the part that amazes me is that we can actually understand her. Of course, lately she also feels the need to let everyone know that, "Mommy burped at table." That was five days ago folks.

October 12, 2011

Totally 80's...

This afternoon I spotted a leather jacket hanging in the window of one of our city's most trendy stores. My first response was, "Wow....I think I wore an exact replicate of that thing in junior-high!"

Either I was way ahead of my time or the 80's are back.

Yikes.

No matter how hard I try, I just cannot picture my adorable little gal with bangs piled up to the ceiling or rolled jeans. Does the world really need another round of silk shirts and leggings? Can we not survive just fine without having to tuck our shirts in (only to pull them back out a few inches)?

I used to make fun of people like me. You know, the ones who had closets full of clothes that were only worn on "Oldies" day during Spirit Week; kept in hopes that they would one day come back into style.

I shake my head and sigh in dismay at these and other strange trends that are currently the hip-hop-happenin' thing (feathers in your hair, really?).

But, I'll be honest....

I cannot wait to get my totally rad and way too cool light blue leather jacket back out!

October 7, 2011

Work, wife, mom...life!

It is truly an honor to introduce my guest for today's Casual Conversation Friday. Julia, over at Work, Wife, Mom...Life! is a super mom in training.

Julia's blog is an oasis for working moms, and her Working Mommy Network provides a perfect opportunity to meet other moms who are, most likely, facing a lot of the same issues that we all face each and every day. Please take a moment to visit her blog- you have to because it's just that fabulous. In the meantime, I present a good friend and wonderful resource for all things related to motherhood...Julia.

Thanks Julia!


Me: What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received that you would like to pass on to other moms?
Her: When you are with your kids, be WITH your kids. It's so hard because we are often distracted by stuff... work, Internet, blogs, TV, etc. But make sure that you always have time to just BE WITH your kids.

Me: What do you like most about being a mom? Working mom?
Her: I most like coming home and hearing the kids scream "Mooommmmmyyyyyyyy!" when I walk in the door. And then they rush to me with a huge hug around the legs. That doesn't mean I like being gone all day, but I love that they love seeing me. And I also love that while I can still be a great mom, I can impact the lives of other kids in the community with the work that I do.

Me: What parenthood-related challenges have you been able to overcome and how did you do it?
Her: One challenge for us was the fact that my husband has become a stay-at-home Dad. Not really parenting related, but it definitely changed things for awhile. We had to talk things out and I had to really understand where he was coming from and he to understand where I was coming from. Lots of communication.

Me: Any last words of wisdom?
Her: Your family is your core foundation. You can work and exercise and have girl dates and do things you love, but don't ever let it over take your family.



See...I told you she's wonderful. Thanks for sharing with us Julia!

And don't forget....
If you also have some great words of advice or ideas to share with the rest of us and want to be a guest on a Casual Conversation Friday please contact me at professionalmotherhood@yahoo.com.

Anyone is welcome to share so if you're not a working mom, or even a mom...no worries because we all have something to say so non-mommies are welcome!

October 3, 2011

Cookie monster...

Last Monday I remember thinking, "Wow, it's been awhile since I have had to give Rachel a time-out...good for us!"

And then Tuesday came.

Rachel will be 21 months old next week. That means she has the emotional maturity of... well... a two-year old.

When I hear a child throwing a tantrum in the store I verbally (out loud) thank God that it's not my child and pray that it stays that way for at least a few minutes because when you have a toddler, anything can happen at any time. Did you hear that? Let me repeat it.
Any emotion can begin (or end)
at
any
time.

Happiness is not a frame of mind when you're a toddler. Instead, it's an option in the smorgasbord of feelings that can be expressed over the course of a few short minutes. It's often here...and then gone just as quickly as it came.

I'm trying my hardest to be a good parent. But, there are days when it would be much easier to just let her have a cookie and deal with the consequences later. And if one more person informs me, during one of her tantrums, that I should, "...just not let her act like that" I'm going to invite them to take a turn in conveying this message to my sweet little perceptive angel in between her gasps for air. After all, I'm sure that if I would just try to reason with her she would welcome the opportunity stop screaming and sit down to discuss the situation over coffee and milk.

When your child is throwing a fit (again), telling them to, "Calm down or deal with with consequences" is like trying to whisper to a dragon.

So, what do you do?

You take bets on whose kid will cry during the family picture (mine, of course).
You scope out the pefect time-out corner of every restaurant, church, and store you enter.
You pray. A lot.
You go through your personal library and throw away every book you have on how to raise children.
You thank God that your child is normal.

And, you tell yourself over and over and over and over...."DO NOT LET HER HAVE THE COOKIE!"

September 28, 2011

Some day...

After months of trying to become THE super mom I have finally decided to throw in the towel and move on to something a little less...exhausting and unattainable. I have decided to just be...

Mom.

And you know what? I think that's good enough, perfect even.

As just Mom, I now turn my attention to a Some Day list. A Some Day list is dangerously related to the "I wish I would have..." list. But, have no fear for I have developed a fool-proof plan to turn my Some Day list into a "done" list.

HOW MY SOME DAY LIST WILL BECOME MY DONE LIST


STEP 1: DONE
Philippians 4:11 (New Living Translation)
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.


Amen to this!
Several months ago I moved into a house that is almost 100 years old and I have learned to love all of the quirks. Every cabinet door that won't close; every creaky step; every slab of wood paneling. I have embraced the joys of living in an old rental house with loud flowery wall-paper in the guest room. Why? Because it means I get to live in the country. I get to wake up to a beautiful sunrise every morning and watch the sunset over the fields every night. I can take my daughter outside to play and the only sounds we hear come from the cows in our pasture as they munch on my discarded produce. And it's just wonderful. My house might be old but I love my home.


STEP 2: DONE(ish)
Keep It Simple

Since I am content with what I have, I am also content knowing there are lots of things I don't or can't have and that's okay. I know that some day when my husband is done with school we will be able to afford some nicer things. But for now, I find joy in not having to dust around lots of decorations or find space for all of my latest finds. I will mark this step complete when I master the art of meal planning. Just thinking about that is overwhelming. There are so many in's and out's and what-have-you's that go along with meals and diet and exercise, and....let's go to the next step.


STEP 3:
Be Patient- Your Husband Won't Be in School Forever

Okay, I'll admit it. I hate this step. Too many of my sentences end with, "When Jake is done with school we'll do X." Patience is not a virtue that I possess. So, when my husband admitted to me almost four years ago that he needed to switch his major from business to science during his junior year of college my heart sank. We have two more years to go and I am already planning his graduation party (You think I'm kidding but I'm not). Until then, I will continue to be supportive and proud and maybe just a little bit jealous that he has found his passion and will, some day, be able to get up each morning knowing that he is doing what he loves.


STEP 4:
Buy, Spend, & Purchase

Don't get the wrong idea. Yes, I am content with what I have. Yes, I want to be fiscally responsible. But....Yes, I also look forward to the day when my Wants are at least in the same vehicle (but still taking a back seat, of course) as our Needs. Plus, in order to accomplish everything on my Some Day list I will have to (no get to), surprise!, spend money on things that were previously marked as not necessary.


STEP 5:
Start Again

A Some Day list should be on-going. After all, we all know that we can't have everything we want all of the time. Once I get a few things crossed off my list they will be replaced with new goals and ideas and projects. An on-going Some Day list is what keeps life interesting. Well, that and a fun new purse once in awhile.

September 23, 2011

Let's celebrate...

Holy cats! I'm back!

Has anyone else ever fell into a deep cavernous hole, been thrown a rope, and told to climb yourself out? No? Well, I'm pretty sure that's what just happened to me.

I have been struggling to climb out of my desk for several months now, but I believe I can finally see the top. I was thrown a rope that was too short and I had to free climb the last few feet but I'm here and when I look back at where I've come from....I am thankful for where I currently stand.

And so, for now, I will try to enjoy this brief spot of breathing room...

Until the next flurry of activity crashes into my office and I am again left to sink or swim. Don't worry though...I'll swim. I always do.

And here it comes...do you feel it? Another list. Yep, and this time I will list my top five reasons to celebrate. I'm not celebrating anything in particular. I'm just celebrating because I can.

Why I celebrate:

5. Wine. Which reminds me....I think I opened my last bottle of Moscato the other night. Better add that to my grocery list.

4. New couches. Our Rent-a-Center junkers were purchased over 11 years ago. And let me tell you...no one is going to steal those things from the back dumpster. But the new ones? They are fabulous!

3. Fall has begun. Second only to Christmas in "my favorite times of the year", Autumn has some of the most beautiful reasons to enjoy life and celebrate all of the bounty and beauty that God has given us.

2. My parents. Wow, where would I be without their help?

1. Family. Even though my husband leaves his dirty socks all over the house and Rachel's response to everything is, "No way!" I have to admit...they are truly my reason to celebrate.

Now....about that shopping list. Where in the world did I leave it?

Happy first day of Fall everyone!

September 19, 2011

i'm sorry, so sorry...

I have written a lot of posts about feeling guilty about a lot of things and right now I have to admit to holding a blog-related quilt that I can not seem to shake.

I was featured on the SITS blog almost two weeks ago and I have yet to respond to all of the wonderful comments that I got.

That pretty much makes me evil.

And rude.

And I have to apologize profusely.

I have been trying to make time to tell everyone thank-you but every day my schedule falls apart and the guilt piles higher. In fact, soon I'll have to duck just get out the door.

So, to everyone who left me amazing comments and lots of bloggy goodness...

Know that I appreciate every single word you said, and I'm sorry for not responding yet.

And get this, I got an email from facebook today reminding me that I haven't logged in for several days. Can you imagine?! Wow...

Anyway, it's on my list of things to do (along with reading my friends' blogs, getting my hair cut, and putting away laundry).

But don't worry.... I would NEVER put laundry ahead of my best gals.

THANKS!

September 6, 2011

The secret to success is support...

Today is a big day.

Today I put out the guest hand towels, set the good dishes, and open the fine wine.

Today I welcome guests...and what fabulous guests they are!

Today I wave my arms in excitement and welcome my fellow SITS Girls to this humble little blog.

Welcome ladies! Come in, have a seat, make yourself comfortable, and take a look around. I hope you enjoy your visit and by all means, please feel free to pour a cup of coffee and stay awhile. My posts are short and simple and (hopefully) provide a humorous and delightful view into my life- the life of a working mom.

And to my readers...
Not sure what SITS is? The Secret to Success is Support, or SITS, is a group of more than 9,000 bloggers dedicated to supporting one another by leaving comments. Lots and lots of comments. And, of course, we support each other in lots of other ways too. But, let's be honest....comments are the cherry on top of everyone's day.

Have a great day everyone and thanks again to the girls at SITS and especially Kat for making this day so special!

August 31, 2011

Mean girl...

Okay, I'll be honest. I hate some people.
I hate mean people.
I hate stupid people.
I hate rude people.
I hate incompetent people.

But....

I'm not a mean person...right?

There is only so much I can handle before I feel my sanity start to break down and last Friday I finally hit that point.

So, I sat in my office and cried. The tears rolled down my cheeks and dripped onto my keyboard and the thought of having to come back and do it all again this week just made me cry harder.

I thought the office was empty so I let it all go. And then my co-worker walked in. She didn't notice my tears because I didn't look at her. I just kept typing. It was awful.

I've been working long hours for weeks now; skipping lunch breaks, taking work home, and staying late at the office. I'm exhausted.
I have until Thanksgiving to hit my next goal weight. I set that goal for myself and would really like to reach it. I'm starving.
I started getting up at 4:45 again to make time for exercise because I know that waiting until after work is a lost battle. I'm sore and grouchy.
It's only the second week of the semester and already my husband's schedule is beginning to take a toll on me. I'm stressed out.

Stress. Hunger. Fatigue.

That would make anyone a bit "on edge", right?

But, I'm not a mean person. Really I'm not.

But, honestly....

I think my co-workers might think that I'm either
A. Completely strange or
B. A B&%$#@

Why, might they think this? Probably because I called the person who left colored paper in the copy machine a Schmoe. Or, maybe it was because I told my supervisor that I was going to be late to our meeting because it was 2:30 and I really needed to take my first bathroom break of the day. Or, perhaps they thought I was a bit grumpy when I trashed (no...vented about) another co-worker when she was out of the office (I know...totally immature and unprofessional).

Either way, I just hate the thought of people thinking that I'm a mean girl.

So, today I resolved to be nicer. I made the first pot of coffee. That's my good deed for the day. And, I feel a lot better (baby steps people).

Now, if I could just find my favorite pen I think today might actually be a good day.

August 27, 2011

Sweet caroline...

In loving memory of Caroline Jennifer
August 27, 2009

Thoughts and prayers are with Derek and Nici today.

August 26, 2011

The professional mother...

I am SO EXCITED for today's Casual Conversation Friday.

Theresa is the beauty and brains behind The Professional Mother, and she is my very first Guest Poster ever. How exciting, huh?

She's my closest Blog World friend and some day I aspire to enjoy a glass of wine with her in person. We met purely by accident- apparently I have a horrible memory and the first time I tried to type in the address of my brand new blog I left out a portion of the title, landed on her blog, and immediately started doing what any other blogger would do....lurked around her blog until I worked up enough courage to introduce myself.

So, here she is in all her glory and armed with her advice for the rest of us....Isn't she beautiful?

Thanks Theresa!



I swear I’m trying to be serious, but it was Champagne Thursday, so chances are slim. For example, I had a little photo session in my sexy pajamas with the loves of my life – wine and my dog Walter. Nah, Walter isn’t the love of my life, it’s really just the wine, but Walter was close, so there.

See the wine and numerous corks in the back and how I’m elegantly displaying our most common reading material at our home?





Me: What piece of advice do you have for working moms?
Her: The advice I have to offer working moms varies with the children’s ages. For example, when my kids were infants (two under two at one point), I was adamant that every working mother should check for spit stains, hand prints, and leaking breasts before entering the office. But the things that apply across all ages of the spectrum are remembering to not compare your child to other children, take off enough time to attend holiday performances, school plays, and birthdays. I promise you that you will hate yourself for missing open house or choir concerts (okay, admittedly, I’ve never had a kid in choir, but it could happen if one of my kids stopped sounding like a screeching coyote when they sing . . . maybe . . . or not). I digress.

And if all else fails, drink wine.

Me: What do you like most about being a working mom? What is the most challenging aspect of having to go to work every day?
Her: It really depends from day to day what I like about being a working mom. Sometimes I don’t like anything about it. But then sometimes I just love that I can say I have a career. I’m a lawyer. I have a J-O-B. I work. I am grown up. I have a salary. I have a 401k. I have a secretary. I have an office with a window – and my own printer (which is apparently a perk as a lawyer). I make a difference . . . somehow . . . I think . . . maybe. Uh, no, yeah, I totally make a difference. I do. (Ignore the hesitation indicated above.) But with all seriousness, I really do think I make a difference. Not only in the lives of my clients, but also as an example for my children. They see that I work hard. I’m committed to a cause. I am a woman and valued for my intelligence (limited though it may be.) I pursued my education and put it to work. I want my children to see that, recognize the value in it, and follow my footsteps to pursue a career that hopefully they will love.

I also love drinking wine at the end of the day.

Me: What is the most challenging aspect of being a working mom?
Her: The most challenging aspect is trying to separate your longing to hold your baby who is maybe feeling anxious about a first day of school, or not feeling well, or worried about a test, when you have to go to work. Mama said there’d be days like this, and she wasn’t lying. There are those days. Those times pass, but they are difficult at the moment. You will forget it. Your kids will forget it. It just may take some time. Splitting your time between motherhood and your career outside the home is almost impossible. You are literally employed at two full-time jobs. Actually, your job as a mother is 24-7-365 (pulling out slang from the 1990s thankyouverymuch). Without a doubt, there are those days when you have to wipe up the puke at 2:00 a.m., comfort your exorcist baby whose head is literally spinning around as she spews vomit and screams like a siren, and then pull yourself out of bed to show up at the office at 8:00 a.m. for a conference at which you are expected to expound on the variances between the Iowa statute of limitations on a claim for tortious interference of contract and the Texas statute of limitations on a claim for tortious interference of contract. (Did you see that? I totally worked in a reference to Iowa – Angie’s home state, a reference to Texas – my home state, and completely b.s.’ed my way through an alleged statute of limitations for a cause of action that may or may not exist in Iowa. I’m totally awesome and not afraid to pat myself on the back). This brings me to the most challenging aspect which is not beating yourself up for being a working mom and not being able to dedicate 200% of your life to raising your child. 110% will have to do.

And then the absolute most challenging part is making sure I get a sufficient intake of wine each evening while juggling soccer practice, homework, and baths. Okay, actually, we avoid baths because the steam fogs up my wine glass, but whatever.

Me: Any last words of wisdom?
Her: Really? I can’t imagine there are any more words to offer (since I’m sure I went over my allotted number of words. Whatever! Angie, fool that she is, forgot to enforce a word limit! Ha! Kidding! My last suggestions are (1) get yourself an amazing husband like my Chuckyluv who supports my every move as a parent and as a lawyer; and (2) to stock up on wine and dose daily . . . you know . . . for medicinal purposes.



How can you NOT love this woman?! She's fabulous!
Thanks Again for sharing with us.

If anyone is interested in being my next guest feel free to let me know (Okay so I need to work out the best way to do that, any suggestions anyone?). Otherwise, I will continue to hunt down more people to interview, or even worse....I'll interview myself again.

Have a great weekend everyone!

August 24, 2011

Guilty as charged...

Although I haven't had enough time to blog or eat right or exercise or catch up on sleep I have still managed to find time to feel guilty.

I've been working a lot of extra hours lately and was hoping that by this week things would start to slow down but after working until 10:00 last night I have had to rethink that pipe dream.

I feel guilty when I'm not at home.
I feel guilty when I'm not at work.
I feel guilty that my family is living off of frozen pizzas and mac and cheese.
I feel guilty for having given up completely on my garden when all of my neighbors are still harvesting their bounty and the only thing I can harvest is weeds.
I feel guilty that here it is, almost the end of August, and I am no where near my weight-loss goals for this time of year.
I feel guilty that I haven't exercised in weeks and have been caught several times getting off the elevator instead of taking the stairs (we make fun of people who take the elevator around here).
I feel guilty for not blogging regularly. I just can't get inspired when I'm this busy.

Oh well.

At least there is one thing I will never feel guilty about.

My drink at Starbucks can be ordered as non-fat and sugar free and that makes me smile...

As long as they don't tell me how much I just paid for that smile.

August 18, 2011

My kid's an honor student...

My child is a genius.

I think.

Jake and I are either first-time parents who don't know any better or we have what can only be described as Pure Brilliance on our hands.

Someone should probably set us straight or knock us off our pedestal because we're pretty sure that Rachel is the smartest child EVER.

Okay, maybe not.

But still, we are just amazed at what our little girl can do at just 19-months of age!

P.S. Can you hear us 15 years from now? We're the annoying parents sitting in the front row at the PTA meeting insisting that our child be allowed to take Advanced Organic Chemistry as a freshman. For that I apologize in advance.

Still though...

1. This morning she made it all the way to 'D' before her alphabet fell apart and she digressed to letters such as "Elmo", "Moo", and "alskdjfoasiej"

2. She asked her daddy the other day if her mac & cheese was hot. When he confirmed her suspicion she requested a spoon and began blowing on it to cool it down a bit.

3. Her problem-solving skills are quite amazing. She has a fairly advanced vocabulary. And, she can hold a decent conversation....kind of.

4. She knows what happens when we get to the last page of her last bedtime book....so she refuses to ever let us get that far in our reading.

5. Yesterday she informed me that she wanted fries for supper. When we decided to cave and give her fries she was absolutely thrilled and even remembered that she had made this request all by herself.

6. She has the eyesight of a hawk. Nothing escapes her.

7. Last night she was given a cup with a straw and even though it was her first encounter with such a gadget she took it on like it was yesterday's news.

8. She knows when are talking about her. This kind of sucks because it is getting increasingly difficult to keep secrets from her when she's in the room.

9. She can count to 9. Wait...I should probably explain. She starts her count at 8. But still, not bad, right?

10. She's our first child. Of course we think she's a genius.


We will be completing her application to Yale just as soon as we get her potty-trained.

August 11, 2011

Bad timing...

It's not really that it's bad timing, it's more like NO TIME.

I miss blogging.
I miss my social life.
I miss lunch breaks.
I miss bathroom breaks!

I'm not gone.

I'll be back soon. I promise.

Was that a cricket I just heard?

Wait, is anyone out there? Dim the lights, I can't see....

......

I'll be back with regular stories and complaints and joys and requests for advice...

As soon as I get through the next few weeks of work.

Sigh...

Say a little prayer for me, Please.

Or, just bring me a glass of wine. That will work too.

August 5, 2011

Introducing...

At some point during the week my visit count hit 10,000. How fun!

Let's take this opportunity to turn over a new leaf! Start fresh! Live on the edge! I'll have what she's having!!

Today begins the first in my new series...

Wait for it...

Casual Conversation Friday

I want to hear from my reader(s). What kind of advice do you have for other working moms? What parenting gems have you found? What should moms of all ages know or be on the look-out for? And for those WAHMs or SAHMs- I bet you have all kinds of great things to say. So you're not a blogger or a parent? No problem. Everyone and anyone is welcome to share their wealth of knowledge.

Here's your chance to tell us all what you think; what you know; what you hate; what you wish you knew; what you wish others knew.

If you are interested in participating just leave me a comment and I'll get in touch with you.

My first guest for Casual Conversation Friday is someone who is very special to me...me!

Me: What piece of advice do you have?
Me: Become an Amazon Mom and shop yourself silly on Amazon. Buy diapers there...lots of them.
P.S. No, Amazon isn't paying me to say this. But wouldn't that be amazing if they knew I exist?

Me: You work full-time, do volunteer work, have a young daughter and a husband who is a full-time student, live on an acreage that requires a lot work, and sometimes even have a social life (I know...gasp, right?). How do you do it all?
Me: I don't. About six months ago I finally came to terms with the idea of giving some things up so I started cleaning my house every other week. I know, that sounds lame but really, that was a HUGE step for me. Unfortunately I'm still working on learning how to take time for myself, which is why even though I have lost 52 pounds (hooray, 2 more lost this week) I still have 28 more to go.

Me: Any last words?
Me: Wear fun sparkly rings. Drink coffee. Read to your children (at any age). Don't pay $1.45 for soda when you can walk down the street and get it for $0.45.

August 2, 2011

What if...

What if we all acted like my 18-month old daughter?


1. We would run, not walk, everywhere and burn lots of calories.

2. We would only eat exactly what we're hungry for when we're hungry for it, which would also cause our waistlines to shrink.

3. We would find joy in running around the house naked.

4. We would laugh at everything, even if it really wasn't that funny.

So basically...

We would probably get arrested for streaking through the neighborhood like a crazy person who slightly resembles a skinny meth addict.

It's crazy how age dictates cultural norms.

What a shame.

Not that I want to run naked through the neighborhood like a crazy person who slightly resembles a skinny meth addict.

But wouldn't it be nice to have that kind of energy?

August 1, 2011

Today it begins, again...

So for those of you who are counting, today begins my third (recent) attempt at Operation Lose the Fat.

The way I see it, I have three months to make it back down to (almost) my wedding weight. That will give me about three weeks to bask in the glory of victory before holiday munchies set me back a few pounds. Although I fully plan on eating healthy meals and exercising and all of that stuff I am also in need of another good jump start. So, for this week I will be crash dieting. Yep, you heard it correctly. I will be doing something completely unhealthy and unsustainable in order to accomplish an end result that IS healthy and sustainable.

It has taken me 18 months to shed most of my baby weight- 50 pounds so far. And today, begins the next leg of my journey.

There is just one small problem... I'm dead tired from getting up at 4:45 this morning to exercise and dying of hunger.

But,

I say...

Bring. It. On.

Again.

July 28, 2011

Happy birthday...

Happy Birthday! (said in my best Frosty the Snowman voice)

I did it. Can you believe it?! I actually kept this blog going for a full year and yesterday I celebrated its first birthday!

I really have come a long way from my first post. Things have changed. Time has changed. I have changed. What a year it's been!

And to these amazing people (and blogs) I couldn't have done it without you!

The Professional Mother
Work, Wife, Mom...Life!
Simply Better Together
Journey of Life
Sleepy in Suburbia
The SITS Girls

P.S. There is no way I could list everyone who rightfully belongs on this list. Blog friends and followers, I LOVE each and every one of you equally. I'm just a bit short on time (Remember how I sometimes blog at work? Well, I should be in a meeting one minute ago....oops. This is more important anyway, right?)


For my blog's birthday I want to buy it a book. But not just any book- a book about, what else...my blog!

Here are a few sites I found that offer what appears to be the same services for basically the same price:
Blog2Print
Cutest Blog on the Block

Has anyone else ever made their blog into a book? Any suggestions or advice? Anyone?

July 27, 2011

If I could change my world...

Over at Working Mom Wednesday we're talking about what we would most like to change in the world.

I'll admit it- my list probably sounds a bit immature, but right now these are the parts of my world that need to change.

1. On-time Delivery. Orders with a delivery date of 1-5 days ago that are STILL making their way onto the delivery truck. Now that is just plain annoying.

2. Cheap coffee. It's nice that everyone in the office pitches in but seriously...who keeps bringing the bag of cheap stuff?!

3. No AC in the office this morning. July in Iowa (during a heat wave) is not the best time for the air conditioning to take a dive.

4. Raccoons. I hate those things. They have been dining on our sweet corn for several days now. For awhile we kept them away by surrounding the corn with Rachel's dirty diapers, but after last weekend's storms flattened all of the stalks they have been coming back in droves. I guess they figure it's worth the risk if they don't actually have to put any work into their meal. What little brats.

5. Rachel time. I've said this many times and often repeat it when we're in the thick of a battle with Rachel, "The days (or minutes) are long but the years are short." My little girl is growing up too fast and I feel like I'm missing everything. I need time to slow down for just a bit so I can catch my breath. But, when she's a throwing another royal fit...
then it's time for the world to spin just a little bit faster.

July 21, 2011

Red and yellow...

Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop (is it really Thursday already?!)
- Write an entry inspired by the word: Yellow.

When I hear the word yellow I think of two things:

1. When I was pregnant with Rachel we knew that we were having a girl but decided to keep it a secret from everyone else. So, when it came time to "decorate" the nursery we used a lot of yellow. By the way, to "decorate" is a relative term. We moved when she was 8 weeks old and, even though it's over a year later, her room is still a "work in progress".

2. My friend Melissa (whom I REALLY miss a lot by the way; why must 3,000 miles keep us apart?) taught me this little rhythm so that when I come visit her I won't die from a snake bite. What a pal she is.
"Red and yellow, kills a fellow;
Red and black, friend of Jack."
Of course, if I ever do encounter a snake I'm not sure that I would spend the necessary amount of time it takes to fully examine a snake's color pattern before deciding whether or not I should run, no, SPRINT away. But still, it was the thought that counts.

July 19, 2011

From the mouths of babes...

Sometimes we can only imagine what is going on inside the mind of our little Rachel...


While watching TV a commercial came on that featured puppies. Rachel got all excited and shouted "Puppies, puppies!" and then the commercial ended....
She put her hands on her hips, looked at her daddy, scoffed, and said, "Daddy, I want puppies." When daddy couldn't produce puppies on command she shouted at him and ran out of the room. All we could do was laugh at her disappointment which, I'm sure, makes us horrible parents.

Me: "Rachel, did you have fun at Jane's today?"
Rachel: "No..."
Us: "Why not?"
Rachel: "asldkjfonwoiernasndoh asdfnlaksefjo sndlfqwjel;n asdlfje3"
- We have no idea what that means but okay....whatever.

Rachel: "Normy, stop!"
Norman (the cat): - blank stare -
Rachel: "Normy....alskdjfowiejasdifj dkieueicl"
Norman: - blank stare -
Rachel: "NORMAN!"
Norman: "Yeah, okay"

Me: "Rach, do you want some popcorn?"
Rachel: "I WANT COPCORN!!!"
Me: "Okay, do you want to help me make it?"
Rachel: "as;ldkfjasoeir cwieckopwe eivneiiwoncow sopqmnepnven aoinex wonxkiwle cofenfo iwoenaoldjfe voe fifoenwo evjn voelsla cowlwlrn owneockoencoflekeosn copcorn!"

Rachel: "Daddy"
Daddy: "What?"
Rachel: "Daddy"
Daddy: "What?"
Rachel: "Daddy"
Daddy: "What?"
Rachel: "Daddy?"
Daddy: "What Rachel?"
Rachel: "Daddy...asldjasdoaweij?????!!!!!"
Daddy: - blank stare -
Rachel: "DADDY....ASLEROALSERJ????!!!"
Daddy: "yep"

And then there are days like this...
Rachel: "I want crap"
Me: "What....?"
Rachel: "I want crap!"
Me: - blank stare - (thinking, what is she asking for?!)
Rachel: "Mommy, I want crap!"
Me: "Rach, can you point to what you want?"
Rachel: Pointing, "I want CRAP!"
Me: "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh...." You want grape."
And then I sigh in relief....that could have been a lot worse.

July 11, 2011

Ode to Starbucks...

I hate...
1. June 30 or any other day that ends a fiscal year, quarter or period.
2. Warm Diet Coke- especially when it's my own fault.
3. Stress headaches caused by incompetent co-workers.
4. Working through yet another lunch (okay, so I'm taking 5 minutes to blog and eat my apple).
5. Typing up minutes from a meeting that was held over a week ago.


I love...
1. That tonight is "Bunko" night- a night out with the ladies!
2. Blog friends that make me laugh.
3. The rings I ordered from Lia Sophia yesterday. They can't get here fast enough!
4. Sundays at the beach with a little gal who isn't afraid of the water and fun friends who don't have kids but still let us hang out with them.
5. My Starbucks cup. You MUST get one of these if you don't already have one. Who needs a Tylenol when you can fill this bad boy up instead? Plus, it's reusable and WAY cool.

July 8, 2011

Don't be afraid...

I like to think that I am a fairly normal person. I hold a professional job, I shower regularly, I can (usually) speak proper English, and no one has ever accused me of being strange.

But, there are days that I have to wonder if maybe I'm just a bit, well, off. Do you ever feel like your co-workers are scared of you? No you say? Interesting....

Perhaps the email I sent (while in a slight fit of rage) to the office staff a few weeks ago has something to do with it. You be the judge. The email I sent is paraphrased below...



Subject: A Few Reminders and Requests

Hi folks,

Both laptops are missing and neither of them have been checked out. Whoever has them, please let me know asap and also tell me when you might anticipate their return.

Just a reminder- I don’t have time to check for supplies every day. If you see that an item is getting low or take the last of it please tell me. Otherwise, it won't get ordered until I notice it, which could be weeks after it runs out.

Also, I would really appreciate help from everyone with things like emptying trash and keeping the kitchenette area clean. If no one else has done these by Friday I try to do them but I don't always have that kind of time. Plus, really anyone can do this stuff so you don't have to wait for me. If it looks like the trash is overflowing feel free to empty it before I do it on Friday.

Thanks everyone!




Maybe "odd" isn't the word I'm actually looking for here...

But,

In my defense I brought bagels to work yesterday. That's almost like waving a white flag, right?

July 7, 2011

You need a vacation...

Do you love it or hate it? An open letter to your child’s latest obsession.
- Inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop


Dear Gerry Giraffe,

I know that you and Rachel are BFFs and go everywhere together but don't you think that maybe it's time for a short vacation, perhaps a day trip?

Can you swim? Yes? That's perfect because I really think that you would just love the tropical breezes of WaShang MiSheen. I hear that WaShang is quite lovely this time of year. It offers an array of exciting activities and you would meet folks from across the globe. And when you're done getting your groove on you can relax and enjoy warm breezes and tranquility on the island of dryHER.

I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. In fact, I urge you to consider it. Everyone needs a vacation Gerry. And as much as we all love you, I think we need you to take some time away for yourself. And, if not for yourself than for the rest of us. I didn't want to be the one to have to tell you this but Gerry...you stink.

Love you lots!
Mom

P.S. I heard that Star Blanket and Baby need a vacation too. I'll be in contact with them as well. I bet that if you all go together you will qualify for the group rate.

June 30, 2011

Come on, challenge me...

What do you find most challenging about blogging?
- Inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop


In every aspect of my life I have a problem with comparing myself to others. I look at other women in my office who are my age and wonder how they got to be so successful so quickly. In conversations with my friends (who happen to be SAHMs or some kind of hybrid of that and a part-time working mom) I hear about all of the crafts they're making and new recipes they're trying and my heart sinks because I don't have time to craft and very seldom have a meal ready when we get home from work, much less one made from a fun new recipe. When I see new or "almost" new moms who are fit and beautiful and well put-together I look at my own chubby awkward self and wish that just once I could be the hot mom.

So, when it comes to blogging I also compare myself to others. A lot. I compare my simple writing style to other more eloquent blogs. I compare my irregular postings to others who write every day...even on weekends! I compare my content to other working moms and wonder how in the world they do it all and then have time to blog about it (a small part of me hopes that most of them are embellishing the truth just a bit to make for a better story- that this perfection that some mom bloggers speak of doesn't actually exist).

Comparing myself to others has always been a struggle and when I became a mom it got worse. And then I started blogging....and took it to a whole new level.

But...

After almost a year of blogging I have learned to control the beast, at least most of the time. I can't say that I never compare myself to others (in good or bad ways) but that's not what blogging is about. At least not for me. Blogging is about telling stories, and getting my thoughts in order, and taking a moment for myself, and....having fun!

But...

Rest assured that this isn't my only struggle. Some days I get annoyed with how unorganized my blog is or freak out because I can't seem to think of ANYTHING to write about or....actually...the list goes on and on.

And honestly, right now my biggest struggle isn't blog-related at all. I'm wearing a new pair of adorable strappy sandals that I found in my closet this morning and I am finding out very quickly that the "fun" straps are not so fun after all.

June 29, 2011

Its time to eat...

Someone, anyone, please help.

How on God's green Earth do you get a child to EAT?

Rachel hasn't been eating well for about a month now and we have been told my numerous people (and parenting books- yes I have to admit that I own a few) that we need not worry, that she'll eat when she's hungry. So, please enlighten me, how soon might we expect this surge in consumption to occur?

She has been sick the last few days but when her temperature finally broke on Monday we kind of hoped that she would beg us to buy her a Big Mac. No such luck. We're suspecting that her total calorie intake since Friday (4 days ago) is around 1,000- and that includes milk. Yes, she was sick for part of that time. But, yesterday she was fine...and all she ate was a single pee (fresh from my garden of course), peanut butter that she licked off a cracker, and a few pieces of assorted cereals that we have. Yikes! Right?

Maybe our daycare provider, whom Rachel just adores, will have some kind of magic touch and get her to eat.

I hope so. True to form, I'm worried about her.

June 24, 2011

"Baby" Rachel...

Because it's Friday (and I need a break from reading horribly written applications) I'm posting a picture of my little Rachel, who isn't really a baby anymore but this morning she referred to herself as such ("Baby Rae Rae")... and our hearts melted.

Lie to me...

I've been lied to. I don't think it was intentional, in fact it may have just been a desperate (and innocent) attempt by my coworkers to ease my mind.

Last fall when I applied for this position I noticed the job description was basically a photocopy of our institution's general description for this job title. That should have been my first sign that something was odd. But, I missed it or better yet, shrugged it off as nothing.

Then came my first interview. They told me the position was new and would be located in a newly renovated office with people who were all fairly new to our organization who would be working to start several new programs and initiatives on campus. I didn't completely shrug the oddness of that off but instead choose to rename the position as an "exciting opportunity".

At my second interview they showed me my office. It was a struggle to open the door because the room was full of boxes...of what I'll lovingly call "crap". Instead of hearing warning bells I pictured myself in my own office...with it's very own door AND window. The vision apparently clouded my thought process and I left feeling fabulous about my new job.

On my first day, before I had computer access or even knew what my phone number was, I hit the ground running and started working. By that time it was starting to sink in..." What have I gotten myself into?", I wondered.

Then, the job duties and assignments began rolling in. I had back-to-back meetings and training sessions...and through it all I was overjoyed at the thought of having my own office...with a window.

After awhile it became obvious that my "exciting opportunity" was also very much a "new stressful job". My coworkers, being the dears that they are, assured me that summer months are slow and are a good time to work on large projects. So, I put several things off until June and went on my merry way.

Here's where the lie part comes in. Summer sucks.

Summer is not slow. It is not a time to work on over-due projects nor is it a time to plan on being less stressed. It is, in fact, the opposite of that.

Yes I still love my job and my office with a window but I am beginning to believe that, along with Miami (sorry folks), during the summer my office is a portal to hell.

June 16, 2011

This is ladies night...

Welcome to another entry inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop!

Girls Night Out! Describe the last time you got to hang out with your friends. What stops you from doing this more often?

I had a Girls Night Out a few weeks ago and it was just fabulous. I mean, you can't go wrong with half-price wine hour and sushi with the ladies.

Why don't I do that more often you ask?

Well, here's why...


Time flies. Where does it go, why does it move so quickly, and how do you schedule anything with such a limited amount of it?





Okay, I'll be honest. Sometimes I would rather be doing this than going out with the girls. And, as an added bonus, I would like to look this good while I'm asleep (or awake for that matter).





I hate money, mainly because we never seem to have enough of it. We have 40,000 trees in our yard and not a single one grows cash. What a crock.





As a full-time working mom, I only have about 12 hours a week to spend with my little gal. And sometimes... she is the only lady I really need.



Sometimes. I said sometimes.

June 14, 2011

Rachel's first trip...

Wow! Where have I been? I missed an entire week on my blog. Geez....

In my defense, it's been quite a busy week.

Last Monday: I had eye surgery. I'll spare you the long drawn-out story. I've been legally blind in my left eye since I was 15 and last week the final surgery was done to restore as much vision as possible. So far....it's a bit better but let's keep praying.

Tuesday: I'll be honest. My plan was to not do a single thing- doctors orders. But, I got bored watching too much TV and cleaned out the pantry.

Wednesday: Still not able to lift over 20 pounds so that meant no holding Rachel. That was extremely hard to do. Have you any idea how much I love to hold my little Pooh Bear?! I was, however, glad to get back to work for a few days.

Thursday: Work. Work. More work. You know the drill.

Friday: Family trip to the zoo! And when I say family I mean all 15 of us. And what did my little princess pick out from the gift shop? A stuffed snake. sigh....

Saturday: Family stuff and a wedding. A special shout out (do they still do those?) to my niece and her friend for watching all of the kids (ages 9 months to 11 years- only 1 girl in that mix) while the "adults" attended a wedding.

Sunday: More family stuff followed by naps for everyone and then family stuff again.

Monday: Even more family stuff. Lots of fun but I think we're all just a little bit glad to be back on schedule.

Family stuff can really wear a person out. And you know what else can really wear someone out? A trip....down the stairs. Poor Rachel. At least they were carpeted. Plus, she was quite a trooper. I think mommy cried more than she did.

June 3, 2011

Mark 10: 51-52

Mark 10: 51-52 (New Living Translation version)

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.

“My rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”

52 And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.


Mark 10: 51-52 (My Version)

51 "What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked.

"God, I've been through so much and have had so many eye surgeries that didn't go well. I believe that you can restore my vision. Please God, I WANT TO SEE!"

52 And hopefully God will say, "You're right Angie. Close your right eye and look at your daughter's smile through your left eye....for the first time."


Prayers on Monday would be appreciated.