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April 17, 2014

How Busy Moms Benefit from Pampering Themselves


Although it sounds cliche, motherhood truly is one of life's most rewarding experiences. While being a mom can be both promising and fulfilling, it also requires a lot of time and energy and can be a bit overwhelming and stressful--particularly if you don't have any help or are a single mom. New mothers and moms of multiples may find it even more difficult to balance quality time with their families and time for themselves. Add a job or school, and your chances for having any spare time to yourself diminishes even more.

When you enter into motherhood, free time becomes a thing of the past. Simple activities such as reading a novel while enjoying a cup of coffee are no longer easy routines, and tasks like shopping trips aren't so quick and effortless when you have little ones in tow. Social activities, like a spur of the moment night out with friends or a romantic dinner with your significant other, are all but non-existent when you have small children. Even daily beauty rituals and other areas of self-maintenance suffer as routines such as applying makeup or doing your hair often become virtually impossible once you set off into the world of motherhood.

Though it may seem like there's never enough time for you, there are many ways that busy moms can pamper themselves without sacrificing quality time with their families and children. And, according to BlueSuitMom, taking time out to pamper yourself is vital to your personal and mental well-being. Not only will it mentally and physically revive you, it also helps put your life--particularly the aspects dealing with your family--into better perspective.

You spend your days giving out treats to your little ones, but how often do you stop and treat yourself? Pamper yourself by carving out a chunk of time in your day and do something solely for you, whether it's spoiling yourself with an in-home pedicure or indulging in a soothing, relaxing bubble bath. No matter your pleasure, making time for yourself is essential to maintaining your sanity when you're a busy mom. Even taking five minutes for something personal can make a difference and change how you feel, as Babble suggests. What it comes down to is this: partake in an activity that's solely for you.

When you pamper yourself, the focus should be on you, however, you may want to include your relationship and intimacy with your partner in the mix. Marriages and relationships often go through changes when children enter the picture, and, due to the unrelenting schedule of parenting, your sexual and intimate relationship with your partner may suffer. This is detrimental to your relationship because, as My Life Stages highlights, intimacy in a relationship is critical to its survival. Just because your sex life has waned, however, it doesn't mean you and your partner are less attracted to each other. It simply indicates that the two of you must make your love life and relationship more of a priority. Adam & Eve notes that regular sexual activity is beneficial to both your physical and mental health in this blog post. As for their reason? Apparently physical contact stimulates bonding hormones that can help soothe your mind and body, which can be quite helpful to an active mom. So bring back date night or encourage occasional weekend getaways for just the two of you.

In order to maintain your mental health, you must engage in quiet, soothing activities from time to time. Therefore, you should set aside some quiet, reflective time. Rise and shine ahead of your family and go for a walk or do some yoga as these activities allow you to work both your mind and body. Spending time meditating can help busy moms calm their minds and remember what's important to you, claims Michelle Noehren in 2013 Huffington Post article. They also offer the opportunity for some time to reflect and mentally prepare yourself for the hectic day that awaits you.

Similarly, it's important that you have a calming bedtime routine. Once you get your kids off to bed, take time to wind down. Read a book, have a nice glass of wine, take in a movie or television show, or indulge in a lengthy and uninterrupted chat on the phone with a friend. Regardless of the activity you choose, make sure it's something that you enjoy and helps you relax before bed.

As moms, we all need a break every now and then. Pampering yourself not only provides you with the opportunity to relax and de-stress, it also helps boost your mental and physical well-being. This in turn makes you a better friend, partner, and, most importantly, the best mother you can be.

April 1, 2014

Slim's cup runneth over......

Despite today's date, this is no joke. Slim tells me yesterday that he got an O+ in cup stacking. Yes, you read that right: cup stacking.

Apparently, cup stacking is now something that my children participate in as a component of their physical education. Now I'm no gym rat, but I'm pretty sure that cup stacking is neither physical nor educational. I guess if you're somewhere in the 7-10 year old range you might consider it fun, but maybe I'm too old to understand that kind of fun.

Red Solo Cup
Now THIS is educational.
http://gizmodo.com/5918077

When I was that age, fun stuff usually involved ACTUAL physical activity, like riding a bike or playing tag or jailbreak. Our parents told us to "go play." And we did. We went outside for hours and ran around. We played games and picked blueberries in the woods. When the kids say they're bored am I supposed to tell them to go stack some cups?

And whose idea was this? What meeting of the minds came up with cup stacking as a Phys Ed activity? Oh, I'm sure it's budget friendly. Those red plastic cups are surely cheaper than playground equipment (although you wouldn't know it by the way I wash and hoard them after a party.) And I'm sure the teachers were grateful for an alternate indoor activity after the crappy winter we've had. Red Light, Green Light and Duck, Duck, Goose probably got old way back in November. Bring out those cups, Bob!

Now, lest you think I honed in too quickly on the cup stacking itself and neglected the part about the O+, wait no more. Let me rephrase my opening sentence:  My son was given an actual freakin' GRADE on his CUP. STACKING. So not only did someone think this was worthy of the curricula, it was elevated to the level of a graded activity.  So they're not just passing time, or keeping the kids occupied, teachers are evaluating cup stacking skills! Is this for real? Yup. Our taxpayer dollars at work. 'Merica.

I mean, we live in a college town, so my kids' exposure to Red Solo cups is already far greater then the average kid in East Bumblestick, America. It really isn't necessary to introduce them in the fourth grade. Obviously my biggest concern here is really that this cup stacking stuff is just a gateway activity to something far worse. We all know that once your kid handles some Red Solo cups the stacking is just the beginning. It's just a matter of time before they're playing beer pong and tailgating with Toby Keith.

March 10, 2014

The Day I First Met You (and You, and You)

This week I have so graciously been given space over at The Day We First Met sharing all three of my birth stories.  I recently published Moo's on her birthday last month and they are starting with that one there tonight.

Moo, Slim, The Geel and I are all honored to be featured there and hope you will check out our stories. Definitely head on over to the site and check out all of the ways in which they celebrate different families. You can also find them on facebook or follow them on twitter.

Moo's Story:  Unto Me, a Moo Was Born
Slim's Story:  Not-so-slim baby Slim
The Geel's Story: That's What Little Geels Are Made Of....

February 13, 2014

That Lovin' Feelin'

The Sarge and I are not big romantics.  We met at a club about 16 years ago and it was not love at first sight.  In fact, I was not really sure I liked him at all and ended our conversation with empty promises to try and catch him at his landscaping job in the South Jersey shore town where I would be vacationing with some girlfriends at some point during the following weeks.  I never did.

It was at the same club about six or seven months later that we met up again and this time made more of a connection.  We talked all night and made plans to see each other again at the club.  A few weeks later we had our first date NOT at the club, but the place was a favorite of ours and our respective groups of friends and so we continued to frequent the place.

Because we lived nearly an hour apart, when we first began dating we would mostly plan to meet at the club. Maybe it was because we each went with our friends, or maybe it was just because neither of us was particularly needy individuals, but even as a couple we would go to the club and kind of do our own thing.

Part of this was the nature of the beast.  Sanctuary was (for lack of better descriptives) a Gothic/Industrial place filled with an "Alternative" crowd.  Windmilling around the dance floor is not especially conducive to dancing with a partner.  And although I've seen couples moshing, stomping and even skanking together, none are likely to be considered typically romantic.  

Of course we spoke and had drinks and hung out, but we never danced "together" and we didn't wander around holding hands or falling all over each other. Even after we were spending a lot of time together and actually travelling there with each other we could spend most of the night hardly seeing each other. I'm sure a good many people didn't even know we were a couple.

But aside from the environment, we were just not touchy-feely people. I come from a large Italian family on my mom's side, and we can hug you like nobody's business (seriously, it can take me over 45 minutes to say goodbye to everyone at a family gathering) but the whole PDA thing has never been my bag. I will hug my friends upon seeing them; I have ZERO qualms about smooching my kids whenever and wherever; but I have never been a big lovey-dovey, hand-holding, kissy-kissy foo-foo face, arms-around-each-other-walking-around-town-because-I-NEED-to-touch-you kind of person. And neither has Sarge.  

We're okay with it.  But people think it's weird. And perhaps weirder is we're not especially affectionate talkers either. We don't often say "I love you" after phone calls and such, or even face to face a whole lot. We say it when we need to, or maybe when we think it needs to be heard. Of course, I would never knock anyone that says it all the time, but for sure I can say for us:  it's not automatic, rote, or expected.  

Of course, Valentine's Day is upon us, (not to mention that our 10 year wedding anniversary just passed--uncelebrated) and although I don't hate on this romantic "holiday" I am largely apathetic about it. I find the whole thing to be grossly commercialized--like SO MANY holidays these days--and, well, cluttered.  

Maybe I'm just too practical for Valentine's Day. Everything just seems to be a waste. Flowers? Dead in 3 days. Chocolate? A moment on the lips...and you know the rest. (I don't need that extra work, ya feel me?) And stuffed animals? Seriously, it might be simpler to give your loved one a bag of dust mites and some allergy medicine. Who needs another stuffed monkey holding a chocolate rose and a balloon on a stick?
http://www.majorgeeks.com/news/file/3189_happy_valentine,27s_day.jpg
Honestly, this wasn't meant to be a hatin-on-V-Day-post. It just seemed the right time to put it out there that it takes all kinds--and their significant others. Some of us are just a little (or a lot) less public about it and totally okay with it. You keep your sloppy kisses on the sidewalk, I'll take my grabass in the kitchen doing the dishes. It may not be ideal, or even normal to some, but it's all we need.

February 10, 2014

Unto me, a Moo was born.

My Moo turned twelve today. Not the most momentous of birthdays, but her last as a PRE-teen. Next year it begins: I shall know the torture of life with a teenager.  But I'm getting way ahead of things.

I started this blog when I found out I was unexpectedly (and not entirely welcome-ly) pregnant with The Geel, but truthfully none of my babies were planned. And although they were all unexpected, none were unwanted. Moo was, of course, our first surprise....

The Sarge and I were not married and had been together for almost four years. I found out I was pregnant the week preceding Father's Day. I bought him his first Father's Day card and that's pretty much how I told him I was pregnant.

After the initial 13 weeks of "morning" sickness--which was "all the time" sickness for me--everything went well until a late ultrasound showed that Moo had an enlarged kidney. I don't want to make light of this because at the time we were pretty upset and very worried about it, but it is apparently not terribly uncommon and a lot of infants "grow into it" and that is what eventually happened with Moo.

Friday, February 8, 2002 rolls around and I am getting ready to make spaghetti and clams for dinner. One thing I hate is waste--especially when it comes to food.  I will eat leftovers that the dog would pass on, just so I don't have to throw them away. So of course, as soon as I crack open the clams, my water breaks.  We had a 45 minute drive to the hospital, so we didn't wait around.

I got there and they basically told me that it wasn't my water that broke and that I just peed my pants, but since by then I was having some contractions they would be nice enough to let me hang around and walk some laps around the ward in the hopes that my labor would progress and they wouldn't have to send me on a 45-minute drive home. It did.  We stayed.

My contractions became pretty regular but not earth-shattering and I did my best to rest through the night, as much as anyone can with the automatic blood pressure cuff reminding you that you are alive--yet not asleep.

In the morning my labor was going well and my epidural was going even better. I basically sat around doing crossword puzzles while my contractions got stronger and stronger. When it came time to push, the epidural was working a little too well, and I had no idea what I was doing.  The nurses were telling me to push harder, breathe, good job, whatever; I was just doing my best not to look like I had no idea what I was doing.

At some point someone told me to wait before pushing one last time--which I didn't hear in all the hubbub--so I kept bearing down and out came 9 pounds 2 ounces of Moo, breaking her collarbone (audibly!) and shredding my undercarriage on the way.  Two-plus hours of putting Humpty Dumpty back together and I was finally able to hold my little pink bundle of sugar and spice and everything nice.

She was a big baby, a solid little toddler and is now, at 12, nearly as tall as I am. She will always be my first baby and I will always remember the time we had together just Mommy and Moo until Slim came along. She has grown into an awesome girl and I could not be more proud of her. I can't and probably don't tell her enough. She is beautiful in so many ways and I hope she knows it and feels it about herself.

January 6, 2014

Just Say No. (or If The Drugs Don't Kill You, I Will.)

Today I had to help Slim with a Cub Scouts project.  Among other tasks he had to tell me why smoking and drinking are bad for one's health.  Then he had to tell me why drugs were bad.  Slim was a bit stumped and admittedly, I was kind of proud. I'm no expert, but my first place poster in the "Say No to Drugs" poster contest in the third grade kind of gives me a leg up, I think. However it dawned on me that his naivete and book-smarts may be no match for an on-the-spot "Psst-do-you-want-to-try-this-it'll-make-you-feel-good" scenario.

I will be the first to admit that I watch too much I am a big fan of Dr. Phil, but one of the scariest things I see on his show is those kids who are addicted to one drug or another and who he is shipping off to some rehab ranch out in the middle of nowhere. I watch those episodes with equal amounts of terror, it-couldn't-possibly-happen-to-me/my kids/my family and maternal guilt (that I am not preparing my kids enough for the inevitable invitation).

Although the Sarge and I have never had a specific conversation regarding our kids and drugs, I am 110% certain that his entire argument is "Don't do drugs or I will kill you." Period.  And although I agree 110% with the sentiment, I feel like an actual conversation needs to be had.

Slim is nine, and he's very intelligent, but I wanted to keep this as simple yet thorough as possible. I explained the difference between OTC drugs, prescription drugs and street/illegal drugs.  I explained that OTC drugs can be harmful when used incorrectly and that even prescription drugs can become illegal when put in the wrong hands.

We talked about the body and the mind--how drugs can effect you physically AND mentally.  Thoughts, feelings and actions are all altered. How you can quickly become addicted and how that vicious cycle can spiral out of control. How they can take over your life and ruin everything. Physical and figurative poison.

I didn't want sound like a naive third grader making a poster.  I have had up close and personal daily contact with people on drugs. My sister's high school boyfriend died from an overdose.  My old roommate and best friend smoked pot quite frequently and a former (relatively recent) coworker was an addict.  I have also tried them myself--something I did choose to tell Slim. I smoked pot when I was 20. It was never something I did with much regularity and it was a choice I made as an adult (albeit a young one with few responsibilities). Thankfully it was not something I was ever pressured to do when I as younger.

Although I was fortunate never to have encountered drugs at his age, I told him that there was a very real possibility that he might. I told him there are three reasons that someone might try drugs:  they feel pressured by friends, they are trying to escape reality or they are curious. I want my children to have the confidence in themselves to not feel that pressure, enough happiness to not ever want to escape their reality and enough pride in their accomplishments to not want to satisfy that curiosity.

I feel that the worst thing, the absolute worst thing about drugs is that they change who you are--in every conceivable way--and I want them to love themselves enough to not ever risk changing that.

December 7, 2013

Little Moo Lost

I don't even know why I started writing this today.  I mentioned the incident to someone who wanted to hear how the story ended.  But one of the things I so love about writing is that it has the ability--regardless of whether you've heard a story before or not; or perhaps even whether or not you initially set out to tell it--to take someone (even the writer) on a journey.


When Moo was in first grade I worked at my first (nearly) full-time job since having kids.  It was sometimes confusing when it came to after school arrangements.  Because The Sarge works shift work as a firefighter, some days I would pick her up at the school and have to go pick Slim up at a friend's. Other days I would pick him up first and drive home to get her off the bus. There was no easy pattern to which days were which.

One particular morning, on the drive to school I told her to get on bus that day. The work day went by and I left to pick up Slim and get Moo at the bus stop.  

She did not get off the bus.      

Although my stomach lurched a little, I just assumed that she had gotten confused because of the unpredictable pick-up arrangements and was sitting at the school waiting for me.  Since driving to the school would take almost ten minutes,I rushed up to the house and called the school.

She wasn't there. 

Now my whole body felt like jelly and I started to shake a little.  I called the police.  I was starting to cry as I explained what was happening.  The officer I spoke with was extremely calm and was trying to keep me calm as well.  I was losing it quickly and beginning to shout into the phone. 

I can't accurately describe what it feels like when you hear a police officer ask you what your child is wearing.  Your mind skips back through the day and searches the flashcard moments of that morning. Breakfast, clothes, riding to school.  The clothes.  And the worst things also flash through your mind faster than you can imagine.  You think about your child being scared, alone, or not alone.

When I think about it now I'm not sure I could answer that question on any given day lately.  In the whirlwind of school clothes, tweenage fashions and dressing three kids for school every day, I might not be able to recall what outfit was donned by whom on any particular morning.  But back then there was only Moo and Slim and I remember my mind focusing like a laser on what she was wearing that day.  

As I described her outfit to the officer, I paced around the living room feeling panicked and sick.  I had no idea what to do.  I wanted to race back to the school but the officer said it was best if I stayed home.  I started to call my mom (who lives three hours away) but I didn't want to tie up the phone.  I was terrified, frantic, overwrought--no word I can find now can really sum it up.  To sit and wait for the phone to ring was simply maddening.

I lived the longest ten minutes of my life before the phone rang.  It was the Police Department telling me that she was back at the school.  I cried and cried with relief all the way to the school.  One thing I clearly remember is her puffy, tear-streaked face looking up at me when I walked in the office.  That fear and disappointment--a little lost trust.  I squeezed my baby girl so hard and we both cried together.

When I hadn't come up to the doors that day Moo had crossed the street looking for me.  She was standing by a tree where I normally parked my car to walk up and get her.  I am not sure how close he was or if he had noticed her crying, but a man had seen her and watched her from afar so that he did not scare her.  For whatever reason he was certain that she was either lost or at least should not have been waiting there so long alone.  He watched for about 15 minutes before finding a woman to approach Moo to ask her if she was okay and walk her back to the school.  As far as I know the man never went near the school and the woman left after Moo was safely inside.

I can't say that I really learned any deep-seated personal lesson from what happened.  I think we tried to establish something more routine all around.  I know we thanked God, Fate, Allah, Karma, our lucky stars and whoever and whatever could have been responsible for our lack of tragedy; just as in the opposite situation there would be no object too small to blame.

I never met the  man or the woman who helped her that day, but obviously they were good people.  I am so grateful that they were there that day.  I suppose some people might call them angels or heroes, but really it shouldn't require an act of heaven or heroism to believe in the simple kindness of others, or to find faith in our fellow humans.  

November 18, 2013

Motherhood Mondays at OutsmartedMommy.com

I was graciously invited to repost an old post of mine by Jennifer at Outsmarted Mommy.  She does a series called Motherhood Mondays and today is featuring This is Motherhood, a post of mine from nearly a year ago.


Jennifer is a mom to two cute little guys and a fellow wife of a firefighter.  I am so honored to be introduced to her readers and I hope you will visit her site and check out some of her wonderful posts.

October 16, 2013

I'm a LOSER. (Why I DO workout.)

If you didn't catch my last post about working out, Why I DON'T workout feel free to check it out. This isn't a series or anything, but it might make for good comparison, a good show of progress, and a definite change of heart/mind/attitude.  Hopefully to soon be followed by a change of body.

So tonight I sat down to watch The Biggest Loser Season 15.  I am a fan of the show (among other weight loss shows) because I am amazed at the transformations that take place.  I am always interested in the journey these people take to free themselves of the things that weigh them down--and not just the extra fat on their body.

I'm a loser, baby....
In the past my usual M.O. while watching The Biggest Loser was to plop down on the couch with a bowl of ice cream and stuff my face while watching the people on TV kill themselves in the gym.

This season is different.  Tonight I sit down with a much smaller portion of ice cream--a reward of sorts after having done my own workout and held up one end of a bargain with myself to down a full glass of water before the ice cream ever touches my lips.  Ice cream is it's own revered food group in our house and although there are nights that pass without it, I usually try to allow for it in my daily calories.

Mint chocolate heaven.
I don't follow any sort of "clean" eating or any structured diet.  Clean eating for me is anything that hasn't touched the floor or been fondled by grubby toddler fingers before being ingested.  I simply use an app on my smartphone to ensure that I don't take in 7,000 or more calories a day, and to track my daily workout. Yes, daily.

The toddler bites diet, anyone?
Now I do not think that I am doing anything extraordinary.  In fact, my results are pretty meager for the much-touted workout program I am doing.  So far I have lost about a pound a week.  Which is healthy and safe, but nobody's knocking down my door to have me star in the next infomercial.  That said, major weight loss is likely lacking because I only started watching my food intake after week three of what has been 8½ weeks.  And it's possible I have built up some muscle while losing some fat so that doesn't help in the equation of actual weight lost.

Results that can't be quantified.
What does equate for me is that I feel awesome.  I have more energy and I feel fit.  I'm not what even I would think of as "fit" just yet, but compared to where I was I feel great.  I feel myself changing; my body transforming; my mind re-thinking the way I want to treat this body.  And I realized recently that this is the only thing that I have truly done just for myself (on a consistent basis) in over 12 years.

This blog is something I love.  I love to write.  It is part of who I am--I constantly compose things in my head that I just don't make the time to get "on paper."  But as much as I love it, I feel I neglect it to a degree (a HUGE degree), and it suffers at the hands of a clock that squeezes the life out of every second of my day. It falls down the ladder of priority in the face of kids, dinner, laundry (ALWAYS the laundry!), bedtime routines and (now) working out.  

My new mantra. #everydayisnextMonday
It is actually rare that I even sit down to watch TV (in the face of the two loads of laundry sitting across the room needing to be folded).  But I can't regret it for this.  I am healthier, I feel better, I will look the way I want to.  It is happening.

I AM DOING IT.  I AM A LOSER. 

And sometimes I sweat.....
...a lot.

October 10, 2013

Burgled.

The other night our minivan was ransacked.  We were EXTREMELY lucky or blessed or whatever you want to call it, because the thieves somehow overlooked my wallet (which I NEVER EVER EVER leave in my car) and a house key.  Our loss was limited to the large handful of change they grabbed from the ashtray, which is fine because since I've been working out, I really don't need that McDonald's-vanilla-cone fund anymore.
I miss these.
I don't want to over dramatize and say I am traumatized or feel excessively violated.  I mean, I'm more kinda pissed off and perplexed.  Our neighborhood is very blue-collar and not well-to-do by ANY stretch of the imagination.  But I guess anyone might leave some cash in an unlocked car--which IS common around here because we live on the outskirts of a small town where people are trusting and unbelieving that this type of thing would happen to them.  We have lived here for nearly eight years and people laughed at us when we installed deadbolts on our doors when we moved in.

The vandals hit several dozen cars in our neighborhood.  No one in our neighborhood is laughing.  What is even less funny is the fact that the State Police (who are the responders where we live) flat out told us they weren't coming out.  My husband and a neighbor waited for two hours after initially calling them, thinking that someone would be out to take statements or at least write up a report, but when they called again they were told that that wasn't going to happen and that basically it could be chalked up to "we shouldn't have left our cars unlocked."  Our tax dollars at work.  Thanks for that.
More useful and zero tax dollars spent.
flickr.com ©Mark Turnauckas2012
One piece of information we did get from the police was that they had over 100 calls about vehicle break-ins that morning.  I'm not sure if the police were implying that they were all committed by the same people, but if it was a group and they were moving that fast and there were enough of them, its not inconceivable,I guess. There were at least 15 incidents that we know of in our neighborhood alone.  And that was just people The Sarge spoke to that morning.  I later found out about a few more from others.

I found it strange that a lot of people in our neighborhood didn't seem to be troubled by it whatsoever.  One lady had her driver's license, insurance card, registration and a debit card taken and yet she did not want to wait with my husband and the neighbor for the police. I mean, personal information was stolen and she begged off because she had to be at work.

Like I said, I'm not seriously traumatized.  Obviously it was dark and whatnot but you could tell they were moving fast and just looking for cash.  They actually missed a ten dollar bill in our visor because they likely never took the time to look up and around there.  They swept out all the low cubbies in the dashboard (where my wallet and the key were) and dumped the drawer under the passenger seat and the glove box, grabbed the change in the "ashtray" and that's it.  But if I'd had personal information stolen?  You better believe I'd want to talk to the cops.  It's hard to imagine that I'd be so worried about missing work that I'd ignore that kind of violation.

The other thing I question is that is this just "Shit Happens" to them?  Because "Shit Happens" to me is NOT burglary. "Shit Happens" is like, the game was rained out, or I forgot to bring my coupons to the grocery store, or the toddler crapped in her diaper 17 seconds after I changed her.  Burglary is NOT the shit I want happening around here.
flickr.com ©rick2008