Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Taking a Break

Ok, fine.  Not only am I going to post about potty training, I am going to post about how potty training has totally kicked my ass.  L will be 3 in less than a month and it's time to try this again.  We made one very unsuccessful attempt in November and L just wasn't getting it.  So, after talking to a few people, I decided to pull back and try again later.  L uses the toilet at school when he gets his diaper changed and he uses it at home every night before bath and less frequently in between, but we haven;t put him in underwear since November.  Last weekend he told me "I want to wear underwear".  I was surprised, and since it was bedtime I talked him out of it, but I know that was the sign I was looking for.  Maybe.

I feel totally overwhelmed by all of it.  The problem is, since we both work, the weekends are the only time that we have to get anything done.  If I am at home with L, it becomes really hard to catch up again.  I realize this sounds really selfish and lazy, but there you have it.  I am dreading this whole process.  I also had to talk with M about really being around to help this time, too.  If I'm stuck at home, we're all stuck at home.  I need someone to keep E from following us into the bathroom and bothering L.

I have formulated a plan and I would like to share it with you.  Maybe that will help me stick to it.

This weekend - put L on the toilet for every diaper change, lots of praise for any results.  Talk a lot about being a big boy and wearing underwear.  Let him pick out some underwear at Target.

Next weekend - I am taking Friday off and keeping Luke at home.  We'll watch movies and I am going to give him lots of stuff he doesn't normally get that might encourage peeing, like popcorn, juice, maybe even some Sprite!  I'll let him set the timer, pick out his underwear, and try to make it as fun as possible.  This will give us a jump start to the weekend and allow me to concentrate on L rather than trying to juggle everything else.

I've looked at potty watches, but the only one I found got terrible reviews for breaking after two weeks.  I might buy a fun timer to use instead.  Maybe one shaped like a chicken or something?  I am writing this partly because I need to get it done and it creates some accountability, but I also need some encouragement and/or advice.  Anything you have ever heard or experienced, whether you have kids or not, is something I would love to hear.  This has to work eventually, right?  RIGHT?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Friends Are Friends Forever


In my 20s I had many, many friends.  We took care of each other, we were involved in each others lives, relationships, jobs, etc..  There was always something to do on the weekends.  Oh, the fun we used to have.  Then, I married M and we didn't go out as much and the circle got a little smaller, which was ok..  Then, I had L and was wrapped up in my baby boy, so the circle got a little smaller still.  After E was born, I'm not sure there were even enough people to make a circle. It was a combination of my old group of friends still being single and not relating to my new life, and having no time to be the one to reach out.  The problem with adult friendships, as I see it, is that there has to be a equality of communication.  It can't be one person's job to always be the one to initiate phone calls, emails, and lunches.  I think more than anything else, that is what makes finding a friend as a married adult with kids so difficult.

Over the last two or three years my new friends have been found online, for the most part.  It started out when we tried to get pregnant and I felt like I had no support and no one to talk to about my fear of infertility.  Starting my first blog made me feel so much better and so supported by a community of people that felt the same way.  My involvement with the LLF has added many friends that I first met virtually and then in person.  There have been many days when I wished I was geographically closer.  Many journalists have written about it and I am here to say it's true - social media is a savior for a busy woman.  Sometimes, though, I think that it might also be a bit of a crutch.  There is always this base fear that you aren't worthy of friends or that people won't like you.  It starts in school and no matter how much you think you're over it, it's still there, hiding. Being rejected virtually is much easier than leaving a phone message that isn't returned.

For a while I organized a parents night out.  I planned dinners, called restaurants, sent emails, and made sure everyone felt included.  When I became pregnant with E and had some pretty nasty morning sickness, I asked if someone else would like to take over. Despite the fact that turnout was always pretty good, not one person volunteered or seemed to care that the dinners stopped.  It was a real eye opener to me.  I was really hurt and never tried to resurrect the group. I realized that just having a large number of friends, as I did in my 20s, wasn't as important as having friends that I could really count on.

I don't mean it to sounds like I am friendless.  I have some wonderful friends, although a few of my very close friends have moved away.  They are busy with work and want to spend as much time with their kids as possible, as they should.  Spending time with L and E will always be my priority, but when it's 8pm and the house is quiet, I wonder if maybe I should just embrace my loner status and go out by myself.  Getting out of the house for the sake of getting out has its value, but it doesn't really solve my desire for adult female friendships. I have a wonderful family and I am not alone, but there is a part of me that feels a little lonely, if that makes sense.

I need to figure out a way to feel comfortable with reaching out.  I tend to avoid workplace friendships since working in HR can make things messy, and it's hard to strike up a conversation at daycare when everyone is rushing to get to work, but it's clear that I need to try harder.  Work and motherhood can make for an isolated life, but I don't think it has to be that way.  Does it?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Keeping Up

Tick Tock

I really want to be a better historian for our family.  I want to scrapbook and digital scrapbook and put together photo albums and generally preserve every moment.  I'm just not that person, though.  I have yet to do baby books for the kids and we couldn't get our shit together enough to send out most of our Christmas cards this year (sorry).  I had to take a hard look at what I really need to concentrate on right now, which is school, and just make peace with the fact that things will be pushed aside until that is done.   The bad part is, this time is taking place when I should be enjoying the kids.  Ever since E was born I have become hyper-aware of how quickly this time is slipping through my fingers, and I try desperately to record it in some way. The toddler years bring changes daily and I always feel like I struggle to keep up.  Thanks to blogging and Flickr I can go back and piece together events enough for a baby book or album. My friend Maura got me a One Line a Day book, which I really love.  The 365 blog I started for the kids is another way I plan to chronicle this time, but it's hard.

L will be three next month, which is probably why the rapid passage of time has been on my mind so much.  I came across some photos of him as a baby and it seems like it was so long ago. I remember holding him and just staring for hours. I had a baby!  I also remember having sobbing break downs at 2am when breastfeeding was going really badly. I felt so alone.  I wish I could have reached out more to lessen the stress.  I know I missed out on some really special moments because I felt so overwhelmed.

For the past few days I have been thinking about the parents of the little girl who was shot in Arizona.  I think about how her father's job as a MLB scout must have taken him out of town a lot.  I think about how he must wish he had those lost moments back.  Obviously, you can't live your life expecting the worst to happen.  You need a job and a way to support your family, but when the kids spend more time in daycare than with you, it makes you wonder if there might be a better way. There must be a way to find balance and a way to handle everyday stress and not let it overshadow what's going on in front of you.  The truth is, the biggest obstacle to really living your life is life itself.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Every Penny

We try to live very frugally so that if an emergency arises we aren't put in a bad financial situation.  I was never very good with money, so when I first married M I was introduced to some basic but important ideas about saving and debt.  When we bought a new house last year we used a lot of our rainy day fund to make some needed remodels and changes so that it would be a healthier and cleaner environment for the kids. New flooring and some repairs in and around the place added up. On top of that, we paid two mortgages while we were getting ready to sell our old house, so it was a year of expenses.  Of course, just when you think that you can get a handle on things, the oven breaks.  (No, really, our oven broke.)  Property taxes are due, we found out last night that our medical insurance costs will be going up almost $300 per month, and we need a new garbage disposal along with some plumbing work.  When it rains it pours, right?  When I think of it all it overwhelms me.  Since we send our kids to Montessori school our childcare expenses are high, too.  That's not a complaint, just a fact, and we gladly pay it because we feel that they are really thriving in that environment.  However, that takes up a good chunk of my salary, so I have to be creative with money.

I am in no way trying to compare us to people that truly struggle. We have plenty of food and never worry that we won't be able to pay the water bill, but when we have months that are tight financially, I have to wonder of we just have a lot of waste in our life.  I throw away too much food. We aren't organized so I end up buying something that we already have.  Do the kids really need more clothes?  (The answer is NO).  Getting organized and budgeting resources as well as money is something that we will have to do to make real headway. We have all of the expenses that I mentioned, but we would also like the freedom to get a new TV or take the kids to Sea World one weekend. So, I am going to concentrate on organizing and reducing waste in January and February.

Here are some of my ideas:

Strict meal planning - no getting lazy and ordering out
Sort through toys - Some of our toys can be put into the garage sale box
Starbucks habit - I really need to cut down on my visits. I'm thinking of reducing it to once a day on weekends only.
No more clothes for the kids unless it is an urgent need - they have so many clothes.
Organize the pantry - I know I could make meals out of there for a week, but it's too messy for me to see everything we have

We'll see how this works.  I would love to hear any more ideas if you have them.  I am hoping that baby steps become big steps as the year progresses.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My Plan for 2011

Last year I realized that the frantic life I was leading wasn't working for me and I needed a way to get it back in order.  So, I asked friends on line and in "real" life if they would like to join me.  A group of us set goals and connected on Twitter and in the blogosphere to try to support each other and share our experiences.  As the year progressed it became harder to post the updates, but I know that several of the people in the group, like myself, kept their goals in mind throughout the year.

2010 was hectic and crazy, but I can't say that I feel as stressed out as I did at this time last year.  Looking back at my goals, I see that some of them weren't accomplished at all, some were, and the others just didn't matter as much as I thought they would.  I am going to do this again and try to keep up with the updates since it helped to keep me honest even if no one else read them.

Here is how it works:
You come up with goals, ideas, suggestions for yourself and write them down.  Some people make lists, some put them into categories, like Health or Work.  You post your goals on your own blog, The Plan blog, or both.  Every month or so you update on how you are doing and feeling, what has happened as it relates to the goals.  These aren't resolutions and no one is going to point and laugh if they don' happen.  You can even change them as your circumstances may change.  The only person yo are accountable to is yourself.  In addition to The Plan blog, there is a recipe blog where we share recipes and meal ideas.  It has some really good stuff and you will be able to post there, as well.

We are all busy and this might seem like a daunting task, but if you feel like you could use a push, some encouragement, or a community that supports you day and night, I hope you will join.  We're all just trying to make things little easier and more enjoyable for ourselves and the people in our lives.  Some of us have kids, some don't. We are all in different places emotionally, financially, politically, and that's what I loved about it.  If you are interested leave a comment or let me know on Twitter (button is on the right) and let's connect.

So, to serve as an example, here are my goals for 2011:

 - Take vitamins and keep taking them!
 - Lose 10 lbs and keep it off
 - Be more active
 - Yoga, yoga, yoga and include the kids
 - Eat less processed food
 - Go to the dentist

Family Life
- Find new meals for meal planning
- Stick to the grocery list
- Put more money into savings
- Feed my family less processed foods
- Do more Montessori activities with the kids
- Watch less daytime TV on the weekends
- Unpack the last of the boxes
- Put some art on the walls
- Have at least one garage sale
- Get rid of more stuff

- Be more patient with people, especially M and the kids
- Be more forgiving of myself and others
- Read more non-school books
- Plan out weekends so that every one's needs are met and no one gets upset
- Communicate what kind of help I need (time, housework, etc..) more clearly to M
- Post on my Tumblr blog more often

One more thing that I am excited about is my 365 blog. I thought it would be a really cool thing to take a photo of the kids every day and post it.  At the end of the year, I can make it into a book.  I am usually taking photos of them, anyway, so this seemed like a good way put the photos to good use.

You can check it out here.

So, if you were already thinking about making some changes, join us!   2011 is going to be a great year.