KEEP IT TO YOURSELF!!!!!!


This post took an odd turn. It started as a post about coffee and then I went on Facebook. Stupid Facebook!

So I was on Facebook and a friend posted about a conversation she had with her daughter about school lunch. Apparently the little girl saw the lunch ladies making soup. Loooong story short this woman was basically posting about how awesome she is because she cooks with all whole, mostly organic ingredients, and her kids find it to be the best food ever and blah blah blah.  I found her post really annoying.

Not to disparage this woman. She really does do some amazing things as a mom. First she has 4 kids all under 8 and she is still sane (a win in and of itself). Then there is the consistently awesome dinners. No school lunches for those kids! Fantastic chore charts, potty charts, elaborate birthday partes that are super crafty, PTA involvement, community involvement, etc., etc., etc…Plus she is always talking about how Lucky she is to have such a wonderful family.  So yes, she really is as fantastic as her post about her self implies.  It’s still annoying.

Unfortunately I have the bad  luck of meeting some of the most AWESOME MOMS EVER!! Seriously!   I know another woman who believes children should have an “experience field trip” at least once a week. Once a week they do something completely out of the box. You’d think by the time your oldest was 8 you would run out of new ideas but she doesn’t!

I  can’t stand their awesomeness. It is exhausting! and depressing!  Why can’t they just be “normal” !!!! ? Like me :)

Not only are the parents crazy amazing but these kids are super kids too. One little girl for her 5th birthday asked that her friends not give her toys. Instead she wanted everyone to buy gifts for, or give donations in the name of, a little boy from her church that was in the hospital with cancer. WTF !!! That was so beautiful it almost made me cry!!

I can’t stand it. I know I sound like a jerk.. But WOW! Really!?  When I asked my son what he wanted for his 5th birthday he said, “EVERYTHING IN THE STORE MOMMY”  Not sure if I am doing something wrong or these other people are just nuts!

Honestly, who has the energy to be so amazing? I certainly dont. Why the heck do they have brag about it so much too?  They are making me feel like I am not doing enough! It stinks because most of the time I go along thinking  I am doing a pretty good job and then BAM I see a Facebook post or whatever….KEEP IT TO YOURSELF!  Cant they just be happy without sharing it with the normal population?

I have said this out loud to 1 or 2 other people and mostly I get a “you’re acting kind of weird” look, and the polite laugh.  Also annoying by the way!  So I am putting it out into the blogosphere. I can’t be alone in finding their awesomeness eye roll worthy.. Right?

The 5 Most Important Things to Consider When Choosing a Daycare..

busWhich daycare/preschool should you choose? 

This is one of the most important choices you will make for your child. You are sending a branch of your heart out into the world.  Children enter daycare as early as 3 months old…  It is hard to feel comfortable with the idea of depending on someone else to take care of and love your child when they are so young.

I chose to go back to work when JR was 3. Finding the right fit for him was hard and we switched twice before we found The One.  The traditional information you will find is great but didn’t give me all of the tools I needed to find the right place for my child. These 5 things were not discussed much, but for me they were the most important things to consider!

  1. You are looking for Daycare NOT SCHOOL! – Your child is NOT going to school at 3 months, or even 3 years old. They are going to daycare !!! Even though there will be learning, and you will probably call it school, and the care providers will call themselves teachers -> it is not school. Until your child starts kindergarten it is Daycare.  CARE according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary means, ” things that are done to keep someone healthy, safe, etc.” School means “an organization that provides instruction” Don’t forget the younger a child is, the more they need to be cared for!
  2. Know your child –  This is the most important tool you have when determining which place is The One.  There are things you will want for your child that your child can not or will not tolerate.  For example I would love for my son to sit and attend for long periods of time, but he simply could not do that at 3.  Putting him in a very structured facility that focused on fine motor and sitting at attention was not a good idea.  He needed a place that maximized outdoor time and indulged in gross motor activities, while slowly introducing positive ways to attend in a group setting.  When looking for a daycare your child is the KEY!
  3. Just because your friends like it doesn’t mean you should like it- This is a tough one! It is natural and recommended to ask friends and family for daycare suggestions.  Their recommendation can provide information that is not visible or discussed during a visit. Their information can be invaluable.  However, just because your neighbor or friend thinks a place is great doesn’t mean it will be a great place for your child. It doesn’t even mean you will like it!  Every child is different. Every parent has different expectations from their childcare provider. Keep that in mind when you’re consulting  friends and family!
  4. The Big Box Daycare Center is not always better –  Let’s be honest, there is a HUGE focus on early childhood education these days. There is so much pressure for children to always be learning that many of the big box daycare centers (and some small centers too) have responded by having a setup just like an elementary school. Children learn in many different ways.  For some kids the elementary school form might be great, but for others it can become a source of tension and frustration.
  5. Listen to your gut –  Some places look perfect, sound perfect, but feel wrong.  It’s ok to say no just because you have that feeling.  Guess what? If you put your child there you might find your feeling was justified and then you will be sooooo mad at yourself!!!  Sometimes your gut is your best guide!

 

 

 

 

HI HO HI HO Back to Work I Go……

2014-09-25 12.37.46I started this blog about a year and a half go. My intention was to write at least once a week. That never happened  as you can see.. The short story is I decided to go back to work.  The main reason I went back to work was because my youngest was 3 and would be starting preschool.  The idea of being home alone while the kids were out of the house did not appeal to me.  I know I could have sent him to a part-time program but I realized part of me wanted to go back to work.

Not that being an at home mom was not work- It was!  Stay At Home Moms have THE HARDEST JOBS EVER! Some people will probably get mad at me for that statement but it is true.  Nothing compares to the physical, and emotional endurance you need as a SAHM.  When I go to work it is way more peaceful.  I interact with adults about topics totally unrelated to my kids. Every morning I sit in a quiet office with a nice hot cup of coffee, papers in piles around me, waiting for me computer to turn on. It’s blissful!  I have bathroom breaks that don’t include a little person.  My lunch is MY LUNCH.  Sure there is the  excitement of  deadlines and figuring out a process, but those things can actually be really fun too! There are some hard and stressful things that happen at work but overall it’s … dare I say it… easier than being a SAHM!

I  am lucky though..  I have a very flexible job with a lot of time off, short hours AND if I need to I can work from home.  I work for an amazing non-profit where I get to feel good about helping people and the community, plus I am at a high level so I feel somewhat important.  Putting it down on paper (or actually screen) makes me realize I might have the best job ever.. So you might not want to take my SAHM versus Working Mom comments too seriously ;-)

The downside? The fact that I enjoy working so much makes me feel guilty.. DAMN THE GUILT!

Guilt about enjoying the fact that I go off to work while my son is at daycare -> all day

Guilt about not finding the “right” daycare the first time.  (more on that later.. if I keep up with my writing this time)

Guilt about not having enough time anymore. We TOTALLY missed apple picking at our local farm this year. That’s right our local farm is OUT  of apples already!  We have gone apple picking at the local farm EVERY YEAR ! We will go to another farm but we -or really I-missed it. I let the time get a way from me and it put a hiccup in our tradition.

Guilt about sending my oldest to camp for the summer instead of having him home with me  to play all day and learn the amazing way boredom can turn into the best adventure EVER!!!

Guilt when I come home from work and order a pizza because I am too tired to cook them an organic cornucopia of food

Guilt because I just don’t want to be an At Home Mom any more

Guilt because I missed taking care of myself

Guilt because I wish I had the inner strength to be at home with them for just a little while longer

Guilt because I want to be the best mommy ever but I don’t know if I am even close

GUILT!

I don’t know how to get over or around the guilt. Most days I just let it be, and try to accept it. It is what it is… I hope that some day when I look back I wont feel the guilt.  I hope to some day forgive myself for not being the perfect mom, and accept that doing my best is the best I can do!

My situation is the Worst!!

Recently I was having coffee with a group of friends and the topic of having more children came up as it sometimes does with a group of moms.  This lead to a very contentious almost argumentative exchange. Here is what happened:

One mom (we will call her Jane) started to say that she would love to have more kids but she has a very small support system and really doesn’t think she or her husband could handle it emotionally.

Another mom (we will call her Tara) responded that she too has a small support system but if you love having children you should be able to figure it out.

Jane then tried to explain that she too loves having kids but, “you don’t understand what it is like to be the sole support for everything”.  Even something simple like a girls night out takes a lot of planning at her home and she is frankly exhausted physically and emotionally.

Tara responded with an eye roll and explained that everything is on her shoulders too, but maybe if Jane was more organized (like herself) she wouldn’t feel so “overwhelmed” by having children.

Before you make a judgment call  here is some background:

Let’s start with Jane. Jane and her husband are from Ohio and both went to college in MA. After school they found jobs in Mass and decided to stay.  All of their extended family is a good distance away from their current home, not that they have a large extended family. Jane’s parents both passed away suddenly shortly after they graduated college. She has a couple uncles who live in one of the southern states that she hardly ever sees. They visit maybe once a year. Jane has no cousins and her grandparents are also deceased. Her husband (we shall call him Dick ;) – get it Dick and Jane.. maybe I’m dating myself with that.. ) Dick’s father died when they were in college, and his mother isn’t very involved in their life.  Dick has aunts, uncles and cousins, that they see around the holidays but their relationship with Dick, Jane, and the Kids is more peripheral as well.  Jane has told us how sometimes cry’s when she fills out the emergency contact sheets for the kids because they don’t really have emergency contacts..with the exception of a couple friends and she feels bad to put that burden on people who are not family..

Tara on the other hand was born and raised in MA.  She is an only child and her parents, who are retired, live around 45 minutes away. Tara’s parents see the kids at least once a week sometimes more. They love to babysit, take the kids to events, and they have attended every sporting or other event the kids have had since infancy. Her parents are.. quirky.  Her mom was a teacher  and can be controlling and a little pushy (all with good intentions). Her dad is low key and helpful but kind of tough on her husband; though they have a good relationship. They can been pretty annoying sometimes but again they have really good intentions. Tara has a large extended family that she sees primarily at holidays and special occasions. Her husband- we will call him Don- has a sister who lives a couple hours away but visits at least once a quarter.  Don’s Dad is deceased as well, and he doesn’t have a very large extended family.  His mom is very judging and hard to get along with. She sees them often but isn’t very involved.  She’s the type of mother in-law that comes around to tell you what you are doing wrong and how you are damaging your kids.

Both ladies have challenges.

Tara has to make sure her parents don’t drive her husband and her self crazy, while deflecting the constant attacks from her mother-law. She does all the planning for the kids etc. She is the one right in the middle and keeps everything in her home running smoothly.  An exhausting job indeed!

My heart breaks for Jane. I cannot imagine how isolated she must feel.  I cant imagine what it must be like to have no one to rely on. To never witness the beautiful bond between a child and a grandparent. To never be able to call your mom and ask advise. Simple things allude her..  Sunday dinners with the whole family.  Emergency contacts that are family instead of people you met 5 years ago.  Exhausting and emotional

However, I think the winner of the most difficult situation is Jane.. but that’s just me.

The point of this post is not to figure out who has the most difficult situation. The point is I am confused about some things:

First, whenever stuff like this comes up  No one ever seems to feel bad for Jane. Huh? Maybe it’s  just too  emotional for most people to deal with but she is met with a lot of, “oh, that’s sad.. Anyway”

People with fairly stable and nice situations like Tara seem to want credit for having challenges from people like Jane.  Everyone has challenges. It wouldn’t be real life if you didn’t have challenges,  so why does it seem like most people want their lives to be the most challenging? It’s not like you get a reward!

Also the people who have minor challenges but have an overall good situation seem to receive the most sympathy. Like the situation above Tara seems to receive the most of support from friends and outsiders.. What is that about ?

I just don’t do get it.  What do you think?

Induction Cookware

Big news at our house ! I got a new toy!!! It is a Samsung Induction Convection oven.  Induction and Convection cooking is new for me. My old oven was a very sad regular electric oven. It had no special tricks at all so this is a big step up for me :)

photo (2)

In case you don’t know what Induction or Convection cooking are here is some info:

Convection cooking uses a fan to circulate the air inside the oven so that the food is evenly cooked. This technology also has the added bonus of decreasing your cooking time.

Induction burners actually induce the heat right into your pot or pan, versus transferring the heat to your pan via coils. The bonus to this technology is faster more precise cooking. If you have electric and you want to cook like you have gas, induction is the way to go.

( Both convection and induction are more energy efficient as well)

With my old electric range I used stainless steal pots and pans by Wolfgang Puck. Unfortunately those very expensive stainless steal pots and pan were not magnetized which means they will not work with my fancy new induction burners.  You need specially induction cookware to cook on induction burners. The pots must be magnetized.  To tell if your pots will work on an induction burner simply try to stick a magnet to the BOTTOM of your pots or pans. If it sticks you should be good to go. If it doesn’t stick it will not work. If it sticks lightly it might not work or work as well. This is why cast iron works the best on induction cook tops.

So right after I bought the stove I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and bought a cast iron pan, dutch oven, and a pots and pans set. The set I bough was  Denmark Tools for Cooks 10 piece ceramic non stick aluminum cookware set.photo (3)   The box specifically says it is compatible with induction burners. photo (5)It was one of the less expensive sets but it looked nice and since I am not the best cook there ever was I figured it would be good enough.  On the day my fancy new stove was delivered I wanted see how fast the induction really worked . So I pulled out my new 2QT pot filled it with water and turned it on. Actually I turned it on and turned it up to Boost which should boil the water Super fast! After about 30 seconds I got an error. The stove was telling me the pot would not work…. So I filled up my cast iron pan with water and tried the test again. In less than 1 minuted the water I put in the pan was boiling! Awesome! Except my new pots and pans set wasn’t working…. I tried every pot in the set and not one worked on any of the burners.

When I went to return them to Bed Bath and Beyond the manager confirmed they should work. He then pointed me to the 2 other induction sets they had which “should definitely” work, but 1 set was 2x’s and the other was 4x’s the price of the one I originally bought.  This made me a little sad as I didn’t want to spend all that much for pots and pans…. In my quest for a less expensive option I headed to Target armed with my magnet. Honestly there wasn’t much.. They had some generic brands, Giada De Laurentiis, Rachael Ray, and Paula Deen sets. When I checked the Ray and Deen sets the  magnet fell right off. :( Then I tried the Giada pans and the magnet stuck – HARD. It stuck almost as hard when I put it on the cast Iron. So I picked up the 10 piece set for  $149 – Not a bad price.  At home I tested and they worked great!photo (6)

I have had this oven for a little while now and I love it! It’s awesome. The convection keeps the food juicy and it cooks faster. The induction is soooooo fast which means I have to do my prep work before I put the pan on the burner.  With my old stove I had time to chop while my pan warmed. It brings water to a boil SO fast – 1 Qt in less than a minute (using the boost function)!!!

If you are thinking of switching to induction just be careful which pots and pans you buy, and keep your receipts just in case. ;) Otherwise I would say go for it!!

Child Tax

I went to the store today and I was what I like to call Taxed.  Every time I go to a store with the boys I get an additional child tax. What is the child tax ? It’s that additional item(s) you buy for your child that are NOT on the list.  Today it was chocolate milk straws. I didn’t even know chocolate milk straws existed until today. Some how my 3 year old who was riding in truck carriage found them. My thought is they were placed at the exact height of the truck carriage opening so as to entice the little people into pestering their parents into purchasing them. They are actually pretty awesome so it wasn’t that bad.

REASONS YOU GET TAXED:

1) You are tired don’t have to the energy to say “NO ” to the constant “mommy can I have this ? Please? Please? Please??????? PPPPPPPLLEEEAAASSSEEEEEEE?”

2) The store is really busy and you are focusing on getting through the over crowded isle while making sure you actually buy the items on your list. Anyone who has been to Market Basket knows what I’m talking about.

3) The store is really crowded and the child is on the verge of melt down and the best way to ensure you make it though the store with out a stage 5 melt down is to throw food or toys at the child.

4)The child has made it through the store and was absolutely awesome the whole time!!! You can cant help but happily allow them to buy that candy, gum,or  overpriced toy.

I will try to post some pictures later but we literally have 10 +  M&M fans in the playroom. Not all of them look like m&m’s some look like airplanes, helicopters, flowers, angry birds, etc. etc. It’s amazingly annoying that they make these over priced fans that have a little character and a tiny bag of m&m’s or other junk candy. They charge between $1.99 and $4.99.  Of course they are typically at the check out line  with in reach of 2-8 year old children.  Adults don’t even notice these items until they see their 3 year old clutching  a toy-candy fan for dear life and squealing out to the check out lady, “can you scan this and can I have it back please? ”  ( a phrase that Jr learned at 2 and started as just “scan peess”).

The entire impulse candy, toy, gum, razor setup at the check out is such a mess for me. The kids are in a frenzy to get their hands on one last item and I can taste the freedom from the store.. I typically get hit hard at this point..Half time time I’m also throwing down cherry tic tacs, and a chocolate bar because I need a little reward for making it through… . Have you been taxed today?

 

My 1800Flowers Experience

007Valentines day has always been low-key for me and my husband.  On our first valentines day my husband actually didn’t get me anything! Well that’s not exactly true. He had taken me away the prior weekend and told me it was my early valentines gift, but I was still expecting flowers and/or candy. Neither flowers or candy arrived that v-day.  My hubby is a very loving guy but he is not a romantic by any stretch. His idea of romance is cuddling on the couch with wine, beer, and pizza watching our favorite shows. Usually I don’t mind not getting the over the top romantic gesture. In fact for the last 13 years most valentines days have been ignored for the most part.  However, every once in a while  he will do something surprisingly sweet like diamond earrings, taking me to dinner and this year midday chocolate and flowers..

Around mid afternoon the door bell rang and guess who it was? FEDEX003! with two packages. One contained yummy delicious over the top chocolates and the other was from 1800Flowers. Since flowers and chocolates are two of my favorite things I was totally over come. It was so unexpected and so perfect.. sort of..

The first thing I opened was the big beautiful box from 1800Flowers. It contained a dozen long steamed pink and yellow roses (my favorite) with a purple vase. I removed the vase first and readied it with water and the flower food packet. The roses were packed tightly together with a clean plastic sheet so I had to remove all the wrapping to get a good look at them. When I did I was a little bit sad.  My yellow roses had brown wilted petals and the pink rose petals were crunchy and wilted as well.  My beautiful new roses were really not so beautiful.006 In fact  my thought went to women who received flowers like these at work  and how embarrassing that must be.. The gesture was so sweat and so unexpected I didn’t have the heart to tell my husband.  Instead I called 1800Flowers.

004Valentines and Mothers Day are like the Super Bowl for the flower industry so  I expected to wait quiet a while for a representative. Wait I did.. Almost 30 minutes on hold for a  customer service person.  I kind of expected the agent argue with me and I had pictures ready to email to prove the flowers arrived in bad condition, but the customer service person was awesome. After finding our order and hearing my story she apologized and offered either a new delivery or a refund. Since valentines day is one day I opted for the refund. After processing the refund she also gave us a $20 gift card to use on our next purchase.  They did a great job of turning a bad experience into a pleasant one. It was one of the easiest customer service phone calls I  have had.

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Even though my flowers came in rough shape I would use 1800flowers. Why? Because I understand that they must get TONS of flower orders for during the holidays and some of those orders might not be perfect. Obviously the company is willing to take full responsibility when someone is not satisfied, and they do it without making the customer feel bad.  If they are willing to take that level of responsibility then I bet they work hard to make sure it doesn’t happen often. So yes I will order from them for mother’s day. My mother-in-law loves flowers. Plus she will be honest and tell me their condition when they arrive. If they are not perfect I’ll let you know but I have a good feeling they will be.