Monday, August 30, 2010

What I Learned this Week: Travel Edition

Well, we just got back from a 3-day trip to my hometown, a place I haven't lived for 18 years now. Our purpose was to visit family and a friend, but along the way, I learned a lot of things.

1. It can take you longer to get through one little town with a gazillion lights (all on red when you get to them) than it does to travel like 80 some miles from one large city to the next (no kidding).

2. Many more stoplights are added to a town in 18 years, and they can drive your husband bonkers, as they are not timed with traffic, causing him to shout, "I could never live here!" You calmly have to state, "Just keep in mind, when I lived here, there wasn't a light here, or here, or there, or there, and as a matter of fact, there wasn't even a road there, or here, or there...." Things sure can change!

3. Not only do you have to watch your own child at a playground, but you have to watch others so they don't harm your child. Picture this. My son and I are on the upper layer of a playground thingy and a little boy (maybe 4?) is down below poking a stick through the metal. Sure, he's playing, but what the heck? What if my son falls on it, huh? Then my son starts to climb down this plastic rock wall, and out pops this kid, stick in hand, and proceeds to poke my son in the side of his leg or shoe with the stick. I yell, "Hey! We don't play like that!" and either me shouting or the fear of my son being poked by a stick causes my son to fall cheek first off the wall. Ending in this and tears. Can you see that poor cheek? I sure hope picture day isn't coming up!
4. Hotel beds are awesome playgrounds for kids. Pretty much anything related is called, "Fun!"

5. Waking up at 5:15 and getting to eat snacks and watch the DVD player until Daddy gets up is "Fun!" too. (Not me...I was the one supplying the snacks.)

6. Having an extra day off in the week is really FUN!

7. While you can bring along your weekly grocery flyer, coupons, and list, you can still go through your trip without touching any of it and deciding to "wing-it" the rest of the week.

8. As I've heard before, vacations are fun for kids and a lot of work for parents. So true. How can packing for a little one be 5 times harder than for oneself?

9. While your little one can be so well-behaved for 2 1/2 days, just 2 hours from home, when you stop to get lunch, he can completely meltdown, throw his lemonade across the restaurant floor, cause his mommy to have to take him outside and sit on the sidewalk while he freaks out, respond to a police officer who happens to be going through the drive through who asks, "Having trouble?", and hear from a patron later, "Just realize, it only gets harder when they are teens. You'll remember the good ole days," with a smile.

10. Lastly, spending time with family you don't see very often can be so rewarding, and any of it spent helping your children get to know them when they are here on this earth, is a wonderful thing.

For more, see Julie's blog.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

WFMW: Routine

For more of What Works for Me Wednesday, go here.

 I have always heard that children do best with routines. So do I, I think!

Ever since my son was born, I've done my best to have set routines for our mornings and evenings (he goes to daycare M-F). Our routines look something like this:

I'm up and I do hair and makeup
I get my son up and changed (his Pull Up)
Start the coffee and get my son some apple juice (1/2 juice/1/2 water)
Make and eat breakfast (usually while I check email or blogs) and he's allowed to bring a toy to 
       breakfast, but not dinner
Teeth brushed, dressed, and sunblock on
Then he gets to watch a show we have DVRed (I've created a verb here!) while I get finished getting
Then I come out, put on his shoes and we hit the road

When we get home from work and daycare, my son gets to watch a show while I make dinner (safer 
      for everyone involved)
We wash hands and eat, then my hubby cleans up
My son helps me put more dogfood in the dogs' bowl
We do a variety of things until 7 pm: art projects, play trains, play on the computer (he's great with the laptop mouse, bath, etc. Quality time stuff
7-hang out with dad while I shower
7:30 bedtime stories and sleep

It works great for us, and he seems to love the routine.

What kind of routines do have set that work for you?


I've been learning a lot lately. Doesn't it seem like there are weeks when we do, and others where we forget so much?

I went to this neat Mom2Mom sale this weekend in our area, where mom sell their baby and toddler items out on tables, just like you would for a yard sale, but in the comfort of an air-conditioned hotel conference room. If I had a baby still, it would certainly be the place to sell. Having a tall 2 1/2 year old, however, I was somewhat limited to toys and books, as he is on the tail end of his 4T clothes, moving into 4s right now already.

What I've learned lately is that no matter whether a toy is used or not, if a little one thinks it is cool, it doesn't matter how much it costs. Case in point:
This is a toy train that comes apart (the cars do), that I got in a ziploc bag for $3.99 at a resale shop this summer. It has been one of his favorite toys since! He can put lizards or dinosaurs, or little characters in the rail cars, and pull it around all over the house.

Keeping this in mind, I found some great little toys at the Mom2Mom sale, knowing that even though he may get only a few months of use out of them at his age, it mixes things up a bit and allows him a few more options for play, while Mom saves some money!

One thing that has come up in conversation lately with friends is:
How many toys are too many toys? What do you think?

I am all into getting rid of the toys your child is too young for, so we don't have many of those laying around, but do you find your child is growing so fast that they need a variety?

For more, visit Julie's blog.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Money Saving Monday

You know, I've been reflecting on this whole money-saving by using coupons/shopping ads campaign I've been on, as well as the one where I'm using cash only for groceries.

Here are some conclusions I've come to:

1. There are a lot of coupons out there, yes. Besides healthy and beauty coupons however, most of the coupons are for junk, junk food, not the things that are so healthy for you. If you try to save money by making those sorts of purchases, you may add to your waistline or just not eat as healthy.

2. A lot of the weekly sales also follow those coupons are are the things that aren't so great for you.

3. It is easy to overspend, or almost overspend one's budget trying to shop sales and get good deals to stock up.

4. CVS can have some great sales with their register rewards but it takes some planning to get back into the store again and make a thoughtful and needed purchase with those earned bucks. Otherwise their prices seem high on others items. That takes some planning. I had a good situation a few weeks ago where I needed sunscreen, used $3.99 in RR on a $5.99 sale item, so only paid $2 plus tax. I had to really think about that purchase though, and as a working mom, that's tough.

5. I realized I had a lot of success this summer, when I had time off, but realistically, I only have time for one grocery store and 1-2 other stores during the week. I already typically do Target once a week also, so it leaves little else. I also had more time to menu plan this summer.

6. Lastly, I need to experiment, yes, to save money, but also be able to work within parameters that are reasonable and HELP me save time and money, not add more time/planning than I'm already doing.

On the cash only, 3-month trial, that's going pretty well. I have one more month to go. I've actually liked it, in that I've had cash too for those quick out-to-eat purchases and it has seemed quicker to pay that way too, with less to track in my budget.

What have you learned lately related to saving money?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Made My Day

As I reflected on my friend, Vicarious Chelsea's post about what a crazy day she'd had, about an hour later, a colleague walked into my office and just thanked me for what a great job I'd done at our meeting, being so prepared, giving them so much useful data, and just being who I am.

Wow, she truly made my day. She did. On all those tough, struggling days, when you feel like you can't keep up, aren't giving your all to all who need you, that just feels soooo good. Why can't we remember these moments when times are tough? Too bad I couldn't have made a video of her (think she'd mind reenacting it) to play when I need it!

When is one of those moments you've had lately?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

WFMW: Scheduling

I am somewhat of a structured person. You can say I like routine (although there are those days I feel there are so many scheduled things I want a day to do nothing...).

What works for me is to have set days throughout the week when I know certain things need to take place. For instance:

Mon after work: student blogging club I'm organizing
Wed after work: allergy shots (something new that I have to do for 10 months every week)
Fri after work: grocery shopping
Sat mornings: laundry
Sun afternoon: something fun with the family

That leaves me two days where I can plug in other errands, like a trip to Target or the library (today is library day).

While I would love to just head home after a busy day of work, having a two-year-old kind of forces to me try to get as much done in the hour or so I have before picking him up each day after work, and spend more quality time with him on the weekends.

On that note, how many of you do, or used to tote around your young ones to run errands on weekends? I think I would like to, but I worry that I'll feel rushed or make poor decisions, just trying to keep him from getting frustrated. He's a go-get 'em kind of child, so he'd have to be in a stroller or cart while I shop. I'm sure this will change as he gets older, as I'd love to have him with me too.

For more of WFMW, see We're That Family.

WILTW: Stress Relief

What I learned this week (and for more, see Julie's blog) was how to cope with lack of sleep and stress. Being a mom at 40 is sure a lot harder, I'm guessing than 20, but I'm so much older and wiser, right?

Some of these are anti-stress related, some not.

1. Feeding ducks at the zoo lake is a lot more fun when there is actually food in the machine. (Last weekend we put money in, only to discover there was no food. How do you explain that to a 2-year-old?)
2. A hike in the mountains can be so relaxing and fun, away from the heat. Anytime I feel stressed, being outside is my best cure. Okay, that's not me, but picture my face on the other side of the receiving end of the pinecone.
3. Reading is relaxing. Okay, not me again, but I think I'm going to attempt to do some reading around my son soon, so we can both relax and enjoy our own books. I found him here one day, all on his own with a book I'd brought home from his daycare.
4.  A digital clock may just help your son understand staying in bed. We're working on 5:20 right now, versus 4:15...AM

5. Non-stress sure is fun starting a blogging club for early teens. I had a blast with them yesterday and they are soooo excited! The most excited ones are 2 boys too!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

WITLW: Lots and Lots 'o Things!

Yes, it has been another week of learning a lot of things....I guess when you have a toddler, perhaps your learning ability is on as quick a speed as theirs?

1. Since I'm linking back to Julie at From Inmates to Playdates, one of hers was that she learned cactus can have beautiful flowers. Yes they can Julie! Here's one from our yard last week!
On the cactus note, I learned my son, at 2 1/2, knows cactus out and about when he sees them!

2. Spending a day giving a presentation in another city can really be inspiring and refreshing with the right people, for the right people.

3. Two nights of good sleep can make one feel so refreshed (note #2 was refreshing too!) and alive.

4. Great food when one is feeling down can lift one's spirits. See this amazing recipe for carnitas! Amazing! Thanks Becca, for the recommendation of the site! I'll be back for more. My son may not have wanted his (He actually threw it at me and got in big trouble...way big trouble...but I was so engrossed in my dinner I got over it, and he later got a quesadilla after he apologized.)

5. Having a complete meltdown can be good for the soul. I'll never forget crying in the hallway and my son pulling out his toy piano and making it play while my husband tried to console me. So sweet. It also ended in a pedicure later in the day (also refreshing, especially if you get little flowers painted on, and little blue happy), and a few hours away shopping, needed shopping, but a little break.

There were oh so many more things I learned, but these were some of the highlights. What did you learn this week?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Just Another Manic Monday

Yes, I think I had it easy when our son was a baby. Maybe we even had it too good, in that now, at 2 1/2 plus (sounds like a hefty size, or "Pretty Plus" as they called it for hefty teens when I was a teen), our son is taking us for a ride. Joy ride? Certainly not, though I must say when he's in good spirits, we all are and he's a joy to be around.

Last night was the first night of 7:30-5:00 sleep. nice. Yet he woke up in a bad mood and that carried him through the morning, being tantrumy and fiesty, to the point I was wrestling with him on the floor to brush his teeth and get him dressed, like a buffalo in heat (me or him, you ask?) In any case, it was not a pretty sight, and I got to where I felt like I just wanted to call in sick..mentally, but I have a big presentation with a partner to do out of town today. Got to plug ahead. I know all of you moms have been through it yourselves, and just keep reminding me, please, because it really helps. You feel so all alone in those wrestling, tantrumy moments that all you feel like wanting to do it have a tantrum of your own (That's okay too, right, sometimes, in the privacy of your own bedroom?)

Ever have those moments where you feel you're not cut out to be a mom? Oh, I would so love to hear everyone tell me they have felt that way. I just have to feel good this morning knowing that I followed through and was consistent with my expectations and consequences. No following directions, no getting to watch your favorite show. No coming to Mom to brush teeth or get dressed? Well, Mom is then coming to you and it won't be fun. You will get more mad and shed more tears. But by golly, Mom has to get to work and can't stop on a weekday to let you debrief about your feelings.

You love your child. At least I love mine. SOOOOO much. And I hate it when he doesn't follow directions, then doesn't understand the consequence (or so it seems), and suddenly not only is it his battle of wills, but mine too. I always heard consequences are just as hard for parents at time because they lose out too. I can kind of get a better understanding of that.

I just have to remember moments like this, where my son is so creative and so enjoys the simple things in life.
I also need to remember this:
I'm being a good parent by having having rules, expectations, and consequences, and I just need to stick to my guns. He will cry and he will get upset, because it is not what he wants, but as a parent it is my responsibility to let him know what expectations there are and how to be a responsible person.

Now, if I can just remember that on those manic Mondays, or Tuesdays, or......

What do you remember being some tough days of your child's life? Or yours, for that matter?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Fatigue and Me Time

Okay, maybe there is no carnival, but I could start one?

It is not really so bad, but after a successful morning of getting up at 5:10 AM yesterday, today my son was calling for me at 4:20 AM, and I couldn't get him to go back to bed after a long sit on the potty (him, not me), as he'd really, REALLY wanted to go so he could get an M and M. (He gets one if he goes pee, which isn't very often now days.)

So now, I'm feeling that Friday Fatigue. I'm trying to learn to be creative with the time, like write a blog post while he watches TV, or start a load of laundry, or one day, I think I mopped the floor. I suppose I could be watching his show with him, but this kind of mommy loves TV time to get MY things done and get a little ME time. Do you do that too?

Here's my little guy taking some "Me Time" for himself one morning. He took apart and toy and created his own little car ramp. I love the creativity! When he does things like this he can get so occupied and I just want him to go with it.

I just realized yesterday I still have a giftcard for a pedicure/manicure, and that would make for some great "Me Time" soon. How would you spend some Me Time right now if you could find it?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

WFMW: Keeping My Wardrobe Manageable

If you were to look in our walk-in closet, you might see that I actually have fewer clothes (at least out, hanging) than my husband. You would never call me a hoarder of clothing.

You see, I tire of clothing pretty easily, and I find myself just stopping wearing clothes that I don't care for anymore. I try to take these clothes, prior to them getting too worn, and fold them up to take to a resale shop so I can at least look for some new items or get some things for my son in exchange. It also gives me an excuse to go out and shop for new things!

Every few months or so, I take out those items that I don't really love anymore. I find that those things I do love I sear all the time, and truly those are the "keepers". This is at least for my work and casual clothes. Of course there are those items you want for those rare special occasions too, and those are worth holding onto.

That's what works for me. What works for you?

WILTW: Stress and Sleep

What have I learned this week?

1. Sleep habits of a toddler don't change overnight and one can get somewhat used to rising at 4:30 AM every day. That is, unless there are two additional times your child wakes up during the night, leaving YOU then awake and not able to go back to sleep. Last night was one of those. So. Tired. Today.

2. Lack of sleep can make you not function so well. You forget things. You don't do things you should. You do things you shouldn' is all a muddled mess.

3. Lack of sleep can cause stress because you just don't keep up with things like you normally do. But, you're so tired you can't even cry. You just complain a lot more and grow tired of hearing yourself.

4. Just because your child goes on the potty in February doesn't mean by the first of August he'll be doing anything that resembles being potty trained. As a matter of fact, another thing I've learned is that little boys can shoot right throw a Pull Up and soak their shorts without even touching their Pull-Up. How on Earth does that happen? Oh, and that doesn't help adding to 4:30 AM wakeups...

5. I learned it is possible to plan too much in one weekend and just want to quit.

6. Lastly, I learned, reading on the Internet at 2:30 AM this morning, that maybe putting your toddler to bed even earlier can help them sleep later in the morning. I am willing to try this!

For more, see Julie's blog!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Time for 10 Things

I'm thinking it is time for a 10 Things post again, 10 Things I am truly thankful for.

When I'm feeling stressed out and like I can't handle things, in the past, this was THE best remedy, because it helps me realize what wonderful things I do have in my life and to not take myself so seriously. On that note, I will try to look at things and laugh a bit while I write too.

1. I am thankful for the pain on the top of my foot, where it feels like a giant must have stood and jumped up and down. It is either from my wonderful son standing on top of my foot sometime this weekend, while he danced around as I changed his Pull-Up, or it is residual pain from these really cute strappy sandals I wore to a great brunch reception this weekend. In any case, I should be thankful, right, for my great son or a great brunch in cute sandals?

2. I am thankful that I am getting in bed soon to watch two great shows: Entourage and Hung, that we DVR'd. Love those shows and a great way to end a weekend. Okay, nothing funny about that, unless you've watched Hung. Funny concept, especially in my profession.

3. I am thankful for friends who still want to come over for dinner (they are childless), even though we have a 2 1/2 year old. I wonder, really, how much of the conversation involved discussion about our son (do they really care?) and really about topics that interest them. What does that seem like from an outside to wonder.

4. I am thankful that I am in the mood to do a post, and try to get myself to laugh. I was close to tears, and tearful several times this weekend as I let my son let me get frustrated. Don't you hate those moments? I love it when my patience is even-keeled, not just on the brink.

5. I am thankful for zoos, where mommies can take their children when they are on such brink (see #4) so that their child has fun and so do they.
6. I am thankful I'll get to see some of my favorite people back at work tomorrow, having been out since basically Wednesday due to presentations and meetings. They make me smile, and laugh so hard sometimes I want to (well, not want to, but almost just DO) pee my pants.

7. I am thankful that I am so busy that I have to write everything down so I don't forget. I could be jobless in this economy, right, and have to stay home because I can't afford to even drive my car? (Okay, that's pushing it, but I'm trying to gain some humor on this one...)

8. I am thankful for my husband, who this morning, offered to give me a hug when I felt so overwhelmed. His hugs melt my heart and make everything feel right in this world, at least just for that moment. Thank you.

9. I am thankful for the random cash I have lying around. What, you ask? Well, I'm trying this cash only system, and in order to keep things accurate sometimes, I move things here and there with stickie notes, and, well, at times I worry I am going to lose some, or lose my mind trying to keep track of the different parts and pieces of the cash. Okay, maybe that one didn't work, but I guess I'm happy to have cash, or at least money, for my bills?

10. I am thankful, lastly, for being able to find so much to be thankful about. I need to remind myself of this exercise and try to keep perspective.

What are you feeling thankful for today?