A Business Proposal!

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For a while now, I’ve been at war with myself. I LOVE being at home with J and A in so many ways, yet it isn’t exactly mentally challenging. Well, it can be challenging to my sanity at times (like when they are both insisting on wrestling in the bath tub), but I miss the mental stimulation from my pre-mommy career as a teacher. I missed the structure, the deadlines, the autonomy but I definitely didn’t miss the set hours and the fact that I would be away from my kids for so long each day (let alone the work teachers take home).

Enter the war, do I stay at home or do I go back to work? What is the best solution for our family? For my soul? I wasn’t sure, but then I got inspired. We all have that super cool friend, don’t we? Well, to be honest all of my best friends are super cool and I aspire to be like them in many ways, but I digress. One or my friends, has always marched to the beat of her own drum. When we were in our early 20s she traveled the world by herself and on one of these trips she found herself a husband. To simplify things, it was love at first sight, followed by a whirlwind romance, a wedding very shortly thereafter, and they’ve been living happily ever after for 7 years now.

How do they figure into my story? Well, they are entrepreneurs. They have several businesses and both manage to work from home, which is the best of both worlds! I can set my own schedule and still get the fulfillment of a career. Winning!

So, I set to thinking about what I could do. I made a list of my skills and passions and from a long list, I whittled it down to two I felt were the most important to me. 
1) Educating young minds and creating an excitement about learning.
2) Creating a community for parents to help them be the best parents they can be.
From these two principals, I am in the process of planning and opening my first business, Play, Craft, Love. Play, Craft, Love is a program for kids, ages 6 months – 3 years, and their parents.
The program provides hands on activities (sensory activities as well as crafting partnered with stories) that develop cognitive and motor skills as well as promoting early literacy and developing skills needed for pre-school, in a format that engages both parent and child.
As anyone who’s opened a successful business can tell you, research is key! So I have a favor to ask. If you are the parent of a child under 3, could you click the link at the bottom of this page and take a survey?

The survey is 10 questions and takes less than 5 minutes to complete. I’d love your insights! If you have any additional thoughts, feel free to comment below or email me at rain.dancing.mama@gmail.com. THANKS!

Play, Craft, Love Survey

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J turns TWO!

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Well folks, it’s official. J is the big T-W-O. I don’t know where the time has gone, and it seems utterly impossible, but it’s true. Although the last two years have flown by, I can safely say that they have been the most fun and challenging years of my life. We are so blessed to have a son who is not only hilarious and smart, but also kind and generous.

Not to go too proud mama on you all, but at two J knows lots of colors (including magenta) and can count to 6. To be honest, I’m not really sure if that’s impressive in general, but I’m impressed. I’m also not sure where he learned to count to 6, but he apparently took it upon himself to go above and beyond learning to count to 5 like we had been working on.

To celebrate J’s big day, I’d like to commemorate some of my favorite J quotes.

1.  “I have boogers, Mommy. I need medicine. Yup.” This little gem comes out any time he has a moderately stuffy nose. Mind you, when he is really sick he refuses to take medicine without reenacting a scene from a horror movie.

2. ” HEY! Mr. Seagull, stop being so terrible.”  Yelled during lunch at a seafood restaurant after being told that he couldn’t share his french fries with said seagull.

3. ” It’s poop.” (Followed by hysterical laughter) This quote was in response to me asking about some food he had hidden in his high chair during dinner. It was his first poop joke, and since I’ve had many more to enjoy.

4. “I need coffee.” Yes, this is a statement my two year old makes. Of course he doesn’t get it, but it might be indicative that mommy has a coffee problem.

5. “I LOOOOVE IT!!!!” J never passes up an opportunity to emphatically declare his love for something. I wish I could phonetically type it the way he says it, but there is just no way to do justice to the cuteness that is him declaring his love to/ of various things.

6. “I’m mad. GRRR.” Thank you, Daniel Tiger. Ever since we watched the episode where Daniel gets mad, J has decided he will grrr when angry. Just in case you didn’t know what he meant when he said he was mad.

All in all, there are just too many precious moments to recall. My sweet, adventurous boy gives me something to look forward to and make me laugh even on the most challenging of days. His sweet little boy kisses, hugs, and giggles make my heart sing and drive me to be the best person I can be. I can’t wait to see the wonderful young man that J grows into, and look forward to enjoying many more birthday celebrations!

Dear A, I love you but…

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Dear A,
Let me start by saying I love you dearly. You are a ray of sunshine in my world and all of that loveliness, BUT we need to have a chat. This business with you not sleeping is not going to cut it.

The past four nights you’ve woken up at ungodly hours, and tried to go about starting our day…during the middle of the night. You talk, you coo, you stand at your crib rail, and try to persuade me. It’s all very cute, I guess. But here is the thing, we need sleep. Like, biologically need it. And I need it to insure I don’t lose my sanity.

You seem to feel pretty strongly about this not sleeping business, but I assure you I feel much more strongly about it. So you can keep up that angry screaming, since I won’t pick you up and play, but I think we’d both feel better if you threw up the white flag and went back to bed.

Love,
Your sleep deprived mom

Staying Sane During a Nap Strike

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Both J and A are currently trying to negotiate our naptime arrangement. I feel VERY, VERY strongly that they should nap. Specifically, I feel A should nap twice a day, J should nap once, and that they should overlap at least a bit.
Totally unreasonable, I know.

Apparently, that’s how J and A feel about it. They’d like for naptime to be more of a free flow, “why don’t you hold me or sing to me for a few hours and let’s see where it goes?” type of affair. As this approach is not super practical, we are still in negotiations.  But what is a mama to do when there is no nap time respite in sight? Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with. Some of them I have tested, others are purely hypothetical. Please keep in mind that these are mostly tongue and cheek, so try not to get too shocked or outraged if some offend your sensibilities.

1) Write about it. Isn’t writing wonderful? It helps take me out of the moment and look down at myself from a distance. To quote the great Bette Middler, “From a distance you look like my friend/ Even though we are at war.” Sometimes writing about it can put things back into perspective and help you ease the tension. So blog, status update, or journal away!

2) Pick your poison. We all have a guilty pleasure. Perhaps it’s a glass of wine or perhaps it’s brownie fudge icecream. Mine is much worse, it’s spinach… Ok, ok, full disclosure it’s the two aforementioned poisons. This might be a good time to stock up on your poison of choice. A little scoop of brownie icecream goes a long way towards keeping me patient and kind during these struggles. And a glass of wine doesn’t hurt either.

3) Call Grandma. Seriously, call Grandma or Auntie or someone who’s lived it. Tell them all of your frustrations and worries and let them fortify you with their, “been there, done that” wisdom.

4) Get your sweat on. A little workout helps ease stress by releasing feel good endorphins and helping to burn off your poison of choice from #2.

5) Stick to your guns (within reason). It’s my personal opinion that sticking to the routine should be the first course of attack, but sometimes that just isn’t going to work. If you’re about to loose your ever loving mind or your kiddo is genuinely distraught, wave the white flag. Call an audible. Postpone naptime if you have to. Maybe it’s a fluke and tomorrow will be better, maybe they need a new naptime that’s earlier or later. Who knows? This is what I’ve found to be true: if you keep beating a dead horse, it can’t run any faster. Some naps just won’t happen and it helps everyone in my house stay happier if I just acknowledge that and move on.

What are your nap strike tips?

Freedom!!!!!

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FREEDOM!!!!! Motherhood is a tricky, tricky mistress. In order to keep my sanity, I often find that I don’t notice how restrictive a particular phase is until it’s passed. For example, co-sleeping. With J I co-slept out of necessity. A colicky baby and a husband who worked grave yard shifts meant that if I wanted to get any sleep, it was going to be with that little boy tucked in at my side. Now, I know that there are risks associated with co-sleeping (and that’s really not the point of this post), but I weighed the pros and cons and decided that our best chance of survival was to make co-sleeping as safe as possible and run with it.

It took ten months to get J to sleep on his own, and eventually we resorted to a modified cry-it-out to get him in his own crib. I SWORE with A that I wouldn’t make the same mistake, and to my credit I’ve made it to a much lesser degree. A was a wonderful sleeper for exactly the first three months of his life. He would sleep for 5-6 hours at night and during the day he was on a two nap schedule from literally the day he came home from the hospital. It was insane! He would nap for three hours each time, no cajoling required. I thanked my lucky stars, because with a husband in school and a very active brother I don’t know how else I would have survived.

Perhaps it was the dreaded four month sleep regression, perhaps little A knew Daddy had finished school, or perhaps all good things come to an end. Regardless of the reason, my precious little A stopped being a perfect sleeper. At first it was just a few more night wakings, but we had gradually progressed to full on melt downs any time sleep is involved. Which led to co-sleeping. Which is fine, and I do love having my baby snuggled in tight with me, but I LOATHE  the restriction of my morning wake up time. As soon as I would get up, so would he. Since babies need sleep, this led to me staying in bed until he or J got up.

Now, I don’t know about you but I’m a much happier mama if I get to have my morning coffee and me time. I had forgotten that until this morning. You see, I bit the proverbial bullet (with some assistance from my mom since we are visiting their house) and forced my little one into his crib. MUHAHAHA! Actually, it wasn’t really all that dramatic and A didn’t put up too much of a protest at all. This morning I was able to get up BY MYSELF for the first time in months, and I felt positively giddy. I’m so glad this phase has come to an end, and excited for the ability to get some me time before the day begins.

So if you’re going through your own version of this, have hope! There is a light at the end of the tunnel, mama. Press on!!! Until then, keep your head high.

What the eff did I accomplish today!?!

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I woke this morning as I do most every morning, with a to do list 10 miles long and every confidence that I would get it done through my superior multitasking and my free time during afternoon naps.

At 10 am, as I was pleading with Alex to take his nap I had a depressing realization. My to do list was not going to get done. Not even close, and in that moment I had a choice to make. We’ll come back to that in a minute, but first let me digress.

In my pre-mommy days I was a high school teacher and cheer coach. I thrived on the chaos, the long days, the social interaction, but mostly on the structure. Every day I knew what I was going into and what needed to get done. Sound familiar? I would have never thought so at the time, but a lot of the joy I derived from my job was rooted in ego and pride. I loved hearing feedback from my students and administrators because it was generally a pat on the back or the feedback at least gave me ideas on how to improve and refine my skills. I loved seeing my students thrive or pass tests because it was an affirmation I was doing my job well. And both of those things were feeding my ego and fueling my pride.

Well, there is no room for egos or pride in parenthood and try as I might to implement structure sometimes it just doesn’t work. When it comes to my career as a mommy, humility, humbleness and flexibility are crucial to my success or failure. Gone are the days of praise for a job well done and short term feed back. As a mom I know my feedback and evaluations happen continuously, but in a lot more subtle ways. I know this is not a unique struggle, but it is one of the hardest I’ve faced being a mom. How to stay motivated, on track, fueled without that external structure and feedback.

So, back to today. I could have chosen to feel hugely defeated. I mean, I had been working on the same blog post for FIVE days. FIVE. It has taken me five days to not complete something. Not exactly encouraging is it? I could have chosen to resent my children. Why do these little people need so much? How is it that they cannot allow me to finish a simple task? I’m not asking for hours here, kids. I’m asking for maybe 45 minutes. It seems reasonable to me. Maybe I should just give up blogging? Take one thing off the to do list?

I know all moms have had some version of these thoughts and fought this same battle. It’s a battle that needs to be fought over and over again, but here’s where I landed: my kids will only be little for a while and I’m going to try my best to enjoy EVERY second of it.

Embracing that mentality, I reexamined my accomplishments from the morning. No. I hadn’t worked out or paid my bills  (sorry, hunny. Don’t worry- I’ll probably get them paid before anyone comes to repossess anything). But here’s what I had done:

1) I kept everyone alive and in one piece.
Seriously, huge accomplishment with two mobile children. Especially when they both seem magnetically drawn to climbing, electrical sockets, and anything that could be potentially harmful.

2) Nourished two children I brought into this world.
I prepared wholesome from scratch meals and snacks for J and nursed A. I swear, both kids are going through growth spurts, so this meant multiple meals and nursing sessions. We’re talking hobbit style eating- breakfast, second breakfast, snack, second snack. You get the picture.

3) Taught my children how to cope with disappointment and negative emotions. Both of my kiddos had faced disappointments and had meltdowns during the morning. I know that A’s was over naptime, I can’t remember what J’s was about just that there was more than one. The point is, I didn’t bribe them into good behavior, I didn’t break down and yell or hit- I stuck to my guns while acknowledging their emotions and not caving to the urge to yell or give into frustration (with them or myself).

4) I modeled how to chose love and flexibility.
For some people going with the flow and not getting frustrated is easy and second nature. For me, not so much. It is a battle to remain loving, calm, and kind when chaos breaks out sometimes. But my hope is my kids will grow up seeing those qualities and knowing it’s a choice you make.

Looking at it like that, laid out before me in list form, it was a HUGELY successful morning. I’ll leave you with this quote,

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Let’s define these moments friends, for the moments are defining our children.

How (NOT) To Get Ready For Vacation

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Tomorrow, I will embark on my first solo plane trip with two children… and a small dog. Right now I am in the throws of preperation due to a large lack of planning on my part. The above is a picture of my attempts at packing while my children ran/crawled around helping in the way only small children can. How did it come to this you ask? I asked myself that too.

I mean, I’ve been setting clothes aside and making lists and timetables for the past few days trying to get ready but I made a few critical errors. In an effort to prevent you from suffering the same fate, I present you with the following list of how (not) to get ready for vacation.

1) Forget your actual departure date. Yes- I did this. I mean, I knew I was leaving on the 4th, but I thought that was Wednesday. Apparently I can’t read a calendar.

2) Keep your children out late the night before so that their entire routine is confused. We had dinner at a friend’s house last night, which was lovely, but resulted in a later than normal bedtime. As any parent worth their salt knows, this spells disaster.

3) Spend a lot of time doing things unrelated to your trip. Since I had our departure date mistaken we went to ab exercise class, played at the park, assembled some new toys, and a whole boat load of other things instead of packing. Seriously, face palm.

4) Spend a lot of time  (unsuccessfully) trying to get your kids to nap. Since bedtime was off last night, naptime suffered today. I told myself I would pack and clean during afternoon naps, but the boys had different plans. After an hour or so of trying to get them to nap, I gave up and loaded everyone in the car to run some last minute errands. On cue, both kids zonked out immediately.

5) Sit in the parking lot  and wonder how you’re going to get everything done. This one is pretty self explainatory, but I should add I occasionally burst into hysterical laughter as I’m editing my to do lists.

6) Take a deep breath and know that it will be ok. We will all survive. My house may be a mess when my neighbors check in on the cat, but that’s ok. I may not get everything on my lists checked off, but as long as I have happy(ish) kiddos who I did my best to care for and shelter from the shit storm of the day, that’s what matters.

But seriously, prayers and positive energy appreciated. Seriously.

Pregnant with a Toddler… The Truth

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My husband was away on a business trip when I found out. After a week of being sick I was still feeling nauseous every night to the point all I wanted to do was lay down and sleep. My mother in law had called to check in on J and I and jokingly suggested I take a pregnancy test. Although I was pretty sure the outcome would be negative, I took one any way.

Four tests later, I stood staring at them lined up on the back of the toilet as my ten moth old unwound the toilet paper. I had too many thoughts going around in my head to even attempt to correct him-  according to these tests I was most definitely pregnant.

Being pregnant with a toddler under two can rattle even the calmest of mothers (and I’m definitely not even close to the calmest of mothers). How can you possibly juggle another human? You were just getting a handle on having one little person to care for and now you’re going to have TWO? Of course my husband and I were shocked and overjoyed to be welcoming another baby to our family, but we were also scared to death! We oscillated between telling ourselves this time would be so much easier and wondering what had made us think we were qualified to raise tiny humans in the first place.

Now that we are six months in to being parents of two under two, I’m happy to report that our fears were largely unfounded. Everyone has survived (mostly) unscathed. Neither the husband or I have completely lost our sanity and both boys are clean, fed, and dressed routinely- daily even! Quite impressive, if I do say so myself. If you find yourself in this same situation, allow me to share some pearls of wisdom with you that I’ve gathered over the last half year.

One of the biggest worries I had was how I was going to manage to get two kids out of the house. I’ve never been a punctual person, although I do try (most of the time), and I struggled to get anywhere even remotely close to on time after my first was born. Let me share a secret with you, you will find a way to maintain your status quo. I find that with two kids I am no later than I was when I had one. In fact, if anything, I’ve become more punctual. The less time you have to waste (and you won’t have any to waste at all) the better you will become at managing it.

You’ll also probably learn to let a few more things slide. With my first kiddo, there is absolutely no way I would have left the house with him in his pajamas. With two kids, I’m much more apt to let my youngest leave the house in not only pajamas, but anything that’s clean and fits.

The other big fear that I had throughout my second pregnancy was that I would miss the one-on-one time I had with my oldest son. I was keenly aware that this would be the last time we would spend our days just the two of us. I loved spending our days together; running errands, playing, reading, just enjoying his company and getting to know this wonderful little human. I worried that with a new baby, who would need a lot of my time and attention, I wouldn’t have time for these special moments and that our bond wouldn’t be as strong. I was worried that he would resent his new brother, that he would miss my undivided attention and that he was too young to understand all of the changes in his life.

I’m not going to say that none of those things happened. He did, and sometimes still does, have a hard time sharing my love and attention with his younger brother. What I didn’t understand though was that he would be in complete awe of his younger brother. That he would love him and work to make him laugh when he’s crying, to lavish him with hugs and kisses, try to sneak him pieces of his crackers and sips of his juice. I couldn’t have foreseen how beautiful the love between my sons would be and how it would warm my heart.

I also couldn’t fully appreciate how I would come to treasure the opportunities to spend one on one time with one of my boys. I can’t give them each my undivided attention every waking hour, but those moments where I get to be alone with each of them are that much more special. A friend of mine summed it up perfectly when she said the day she became a mother, her heart grew three sizes. That was true when my first son was born, but my heart grew exponentially when I became a mom the second time.

So yes, mama, there will be hard days ahead of you. There will be frustrations and tears,  but there will also be joy and laughter. At the end of the day, that joy and laughter will override everything else.

Myths From the Delivery Room

Today, we have a very special guest post from the hillarious and talented Jessica from Wit and Spitup .
If you enjoy her post, hop on over and take a look at her other fabulous work!

Birth is nothing like they show in the movies or on TV. Yes, there is screaming and sweating, but other than that what they show looks more like a confusing gynecology appointment
where they hand you a 6 month old baby lightly dipped in jelly.
First of all there is no sheet covering your lady parts. By this time the orderly who delivered your meals has not only seen you on the toilet, but has probably caught a pretty good peep show of your butt. Remember those “breathable” robes they have you wear during your gyno appointments, that’s your attire for the next several days. They only open in the back and going commando is a requirement. I remember being confused because I had packed special granny panties just for the occasion, but apparently they were blocking the only exit route and it most definitely was an emergency, not a drill. This is your orientation into nudity 24/7, so if you were modest before you are quickly cured and now adequately prepared for the boobie festival in your future, if you choose to breastfeed.
You are not swearing at your partner (necessarily). There is no directed blame, just a general panic because this cannot possibly be right. No human is meant to survive this level of pain. Enter the anesthesiologist, aka your new BFF, and from that moment on you are no longer in a scene of Alien Vs. Predator.
No one cares if you poop (and my apologies but you will probably throw up). Whenever I see this as a list of fears from expecting mothers I always laugh out loud. Your world is about to be so incredibly rocked by the shocking amount of bodily functions, some are yours but most come from your child, that a little bit of poop never killed anyone. In fact, if it gets the baby out faster somehow you will wish you had Indian Food as your last supper.
Now that you have read this and scheduled your elective C-Section, I will tell you the good news. Birthing my daughter is the most powerful, incredible thing that I’ve ever done. Post-delivery, you are a superhero because you’ve created life and it’s here in your arms. That feeling stays with you forever and your decision to have more children has nothing to do with what did or did not occur in the delivery room. So first time moms, please turn off Knocked Up, any birthing episode from Friends and the YouTube clip of “Women Gives Birth to a 10 Pound Baby in the Car”, you are about to write your own delivery room drama and it’s got your baby’s name written all over it.

Another Post About Poop

I wish this wasn’t my second blog post about poop because, well, what does that say about my life? It says that poop is a real issue in our house. You can bet if it’s made it up here twice it’s definitely a part of my daily experience and not in a good way.

Poop in our house seems to go hand and hand with nap time (or what should be nap time). This happens in one of two ways:
1) Someone who is supposed to be napping poops.

2) J uses poop as a reason to interrupt his brothers nap or, more bluntly, to express his dismay at being forced to play by himself while I put A down for a nap.

Allow me to elaborate on each of the above situations. Earlier this week I was putting A down for a nap when I heard a knock on the bedroom door, which of course was perfectly timed to startle A from his pre-nap trance.  The following conversation then ensues:

J:”Mommy, Mommy, Mom, Mama… Come?”

A: “Waaaa-Waaaa.”

Me: “J, I’m with A right now. I’ll be out in a minute. Is something wrong?”

J: ” No. Night-night, A.”

A few minutes pass. Another knock at the door.

Me: ” J, I’ll be out in a minute. Do you need something?”

J: ” No, I go play.”

A: “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.”

Me: “Ok, just another second.”

Finally, poor A falls asleep. And I walk out of the bedroom to step squarely in POOP. J had apparently been trying to tell me he needed to go to the bathroom.  Classic situation number 1.

Today, we encountered the first situation. My mother-in-law is visiting and she and my husband watched the boys while I ran to Target to meander run some very important errands which happened to coincide with nap time. I came home to both boys asleep, but only after a lot of coaxing, singing and bribery from my husband. As is often the case in these situations, the sleeping babies did not lie.

A woke up fit to tie, angrily screaming. At first I attributed it to teething since the poor kiddo is cutting three teeth right now, but he wanted nothing to do with teething tablets or gum massage. So then I thought maybe he was hungry, but again he wanted nothing to do with eating. Finally, I checked his diaper. Jackpot. It was chocked full of poop.

Now, I’m not sure why, but for some when my napping children poop it acts as a huge stimulant. I may as well give them a pot of coffee. Because once that wipe touches their tushies, they are awake. There’s no rhyme or reason, but it is an accepted fact in our house just as much as the sky being blue.

Yes, these are the glory days of our lives. Spent wiping poop off the floor and cute little bottoms. Amidst holding my nose and trying not to gag, I can’t help but laugh. Soon these days will have passed, and I’ll long for the days when I could solve my boys problems with some diaper wipes and a clean diaper. So for now, I’ll continue to let my days revolve around poopy diapers and I’ll relish in it.