Love and Happiness

Welcome 2013! It’s so good to finally meet you!

I had a very crappy 2012–I’m glad it’s behind me.  I dealt with broken bones, damaged relationships, and the death of my best friend. It was a very long year. Lots of different and complicated emotions to deal with.

A year ago, when I was dealing with some issues, I bought myself a pair of earrings with Chinese characters. The box said the characters represent the symbols for “Love and Happiness.” I wore those earrings the entire first week of 2012 to give me strength. I’ve noticed that I have been wearing these earrings as my “go-to” earrings throughout 2012 and going into 2013.

earrings

 

May everybody find strength in knowing that Love and Happiness is possible and attainable. Just believe.

Happy New Year

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Electronic Devices

I have decided that I have a love/hate relationship with electronics…..especially actually when it comes to my kids.

Up until recently, my kids have not been video-game junkies. They have had Leap Frog game consoles, then we got a Wii, then Nintendo DS.  The Leap Frog and the DS were primarily used for car rides and restaurant trips.  Isn’t it nice to go out to dinner and have the waitress say “What well behaved children you have!”…..only to secretly thank the Japanese for their technology. At home, they have always had a nice mix of TV, books, games, creative play (LEGO, manhunt, pirates, etc), sports.  And some “gaming” thrown in too.  I was never worried or concerned about over-excessive thumb use.

Until recently.

This past Christmas, Santa was so kind to bring each of the big boys an iPod Touch each.

And it has been non-stop thumb work-outs. I’ve tried to set limits.  One hour per day.

They would wake up and play, and then I’d say “OK, one hour is up”…..one would complain that he only played for 1/2 hour (because he woke up later), so I would have to keep track of another 30 minutes. And then they’d go to school, do their homework, and whip out their iPods and start playing again, and get away with it, because I’m busy making dinner….they are quiet….and I forgot about the mornings One-Hour Rule.

And then I would have Little Guy complain “But I didn’t play for an hour!!”…..and sometimes he is allowed to play his bro’s IPT (as it is referred to at our house)…..but sorry, Little Guy…..I consider standing over your bro’s shoulder and staring at the video screen for two hours pretty much the same as actually playing.

And now summer vaca has rolled around.  The first three weeks of their vacation has been pretty tiring (IMO….perhaps it’s just Mommy-Guilt). First week was basketball camp in 90 deg temps, 2nd week was non-stop 5 hrs of flag football camp, and last week was full day (8:30am-4:30pm) YMCA camp.  On top of that, they had soccer team tryouts, Wed. night Summer Basketball, two nights of fireworks, parties with friends.  Seeing how tired my 3 fellas were, I thought being a couch-butt wouldn’t be a bad thing. I  allowed them to play their electronic devices (the DS’s came back into action too….as well as their computer MINECRAFT game). And then I noticed….from 6am til bedtime (while not in camp) all 3 kidlets were on an electronic device.

But then, I realized that it’s summer.  Being stuck inside should be a winter thing.  I asked, requested, cajoled, instructed, and then finally DEMANDED they go outside.  It was as if I was asking them to enter Hades. And the temps aren’t scorching like they are in the rest of the country.  Mid 80’s at best. They would go out for 10 minutes, and come back inside for more thumb workouts. I hope this isn’t the redefined “summer vacation.”  Where are my creative, energetic kids?

Yesterday, we thought it might be a nice day to take the boat out—Hubby’s foot has been doing much better—we gave the kids a choice —go boating or spend the day playing video games (this was a test from Hubby).  T-Man answered….”Dad, we could have the best of both worlds–play video games for the 2 hr car ride up and 2 hr car ride back, and be in the boat during the day.” M-Man (my outdoors guy) ACTUALLY said he rather stay home because he can’t get wi-fi in the car!  The look of disappointment on Hubby’s face was indescribable.

So I have taken away all electronic devices for the entire week.

The car ride up to the lake? One hour of playing car games as a FAMILY, and one hour of reading.  One the way home–one hour of talking about what a great day we had, and one hour of reading/talking/playing. Absolutely fabulous.

This week’s VBS camp is only half-day, 9am-12pm.  Plenty of time to enjoy the fabulous 80 deg, sunny weather we will have this week OUTSIDE PLAYING.

Right now, as I type this….on my electronic device….I can hear the TV on in the other room…but I also hear them creatively role-playing. It is awesome.

I think we’re going to have a great week around here. And in the mean-time, I think the VP is going to have to re-work the Electonic Device Policy.

The Life of a Working Mom

What can I say? It’s been….what….3 or 4 months since my last blog post? I checked my stats before I hit “New Post” and was shocked to see that I still get approx. 14 hits per day.  I was expecting….ZERO.  But I guess that is the Life of a Working Mom….having to make decisions on where one’s time is spent.

Today is my 6 month annivesary as a Working Mom.  And I have the day off!! (HAHAHA)  Somewhat by design…..today is also the boys’ last day of school….and I wasn’t about to give up our tradition of going somewhere fun (their choice) after I pick them up. I am, after all, a MOM first.

Today’s plan….Ice Cream for lunch, and some mini-golf.  Ok…..Ice Cream for Lunch….I guess I do influence their decision a bit.

How have the last 6 months been? Are there any battle scars? Is everyone surviving?

IMO, they have done very well.

In terms of the “flow of the day”…..very little has changed. I take the kids to the bus stop or school…then I go off to work. And I am there either to pick them up from school or the bus stop. [As I feared, Lily was the only one who struggled with the transisiton.] For the most part, the kids didn’t really notice a difference. Their lunches/snacks are put together, dinners remain “normal” (maybe a few more crock-pot meals than I would normally cook), everyone was on-time to their sports games/practices. The only noticable changes are that I would have to sometimes drag them to the grocery store or some other errand after school (whereas a SAHM mom would do the errand while they were all at school), and that on the weekends I would get a pass to go run errands….Target, mall for Bday pressies, etc.

What about sick kids or school activities?

I have to say that my employer has been stellar. Very understanding and accomodating. In the past 6 months, we have had 2 major injuries in this house. First, M-Man broke his arm in February–which required surgery, a hospital stay, and several follow-up appoinments. My supervisors were great about letting me take the time off I needed to help my son.  Then in March, Hubby broke his foot….such a long story….but it required me to take up a bigger chunk of the responsibilities at home….as well as taking M-Man to the Doctor appts that Hubby had volunteered to go to. I will admit, it exhausted and overwhelmed me at times.

And, I have had to make choices. As a SAHM, I attended every school function that I could. And I think if it wasn’t for the time off I took for M-Man’s injury, I think I would have made a greater effort to attend some of the events these past few months.  I chose not to attend any of the boys’ spring concerts. I couldn’t volunteer for field trips. I made a choice to attend T&M’s Yearbook party rather than the “move up to Middle School” ceremony. And there is some Mommy-guilt for sending my kids to camps for vacation rather than hanging out with them and doing stuff (or not doing stuff).  But I counter that with *knowing* that each summer they HAVE attended summer camps for most of the summer (this year, it just happens to be all non-traveling weeks)…Some of them are 1/2 day camps, so that makes me feel better.  And again, my employer is being fantastically flexible in allowing me to work around the boys’ camps schedule.

On the flip side, going back to work has been such a confidence and morale booster. On an almost-daily basis, one of my boys will ask “How was your day, Mom?”  This was not a question that they asked often while I was a SAHM. I have had several of the hiring managers or directors at the agency stop by my desk and say “You are doing a great job” or “Thank you for your suggestion–it worked out great!”  I have stream-lined processes and solved database problems that have plagued the department for YEARS.

I was originally hired through a staffing agency (and actually, am still working through the staffing agency). I was told this was a “temp” assignment, and at some point they would be looking for a FT 40-hour person. They asked how long I could stay on. I was honest—I would/could stay through the school year. I figured I wasn’t going to go through the hassle of arranging camps for my boys on a “maybe” work schedule. At the end of April, I approached my supervisors reminding them that they should probably post the FT job if they intended me to “train” my replacement.   Well, one day, my direct supervisor came in and said…”we love you so much, and our department finally has some stability, I don’t why the 30 hrs can’t continue to work.” She went on a CRUSADE to keep me–she wrote a 2 page proposal and then personally met with all the decision-making “powers that be.” And everyone agreed, “She fits so well….keep her.”

So here I am…..a working mom.

Friendship

Little Guy had his first ever elementary school concert yesterday. He and his fellow first graders recited a poem about Friendship.  As I have had a pretty bumpy 6 (plus) months, and have relied on my friends to listen, bitch, comfort, counsel, hug, understand, and support me….I dedicate this post to my friends.

 

FRIENDSHIP

A friend is a person who wishes you well,

And keeps all the secrets that you like to tell.

Friends share their toys and their storybooks too,

Friends can be older or younger than you.

Friends can be real or made up in your mind,

But they’re always thoughtful and always kind.

Friends can live nearby or very, very far,

But your friends are your friends, wherever you are!
~Risa Jordan

Getting Hosed

Call me a traditionalist. Say that I’m a glutton for punishment.

I like pantyhose.

I like how they make my legs smooth and shiny.  I like how the “control top” keeps things “together” a la spanx. I like how during a New England Winter, it ads that extra layer of warmth.  And along the lines of New England winter, they add color to my pasty white winter legs.  (But just for MORE information, I don’t wear hose in warmer weather).

So I have to admit, that over the last 15 or so years I have rarely purchased pantyhose/nylons. For four years, I lived in California—no need for warmth or tanned-looking legs—I had the real thing going on. The last 10 years, as a stay-at-home mom, I rarely had an occassion where I needed pantyhose/tights.  Once a year …….maybe.

But now that I’m working, I seem to be wearing more skirts, and hence need pantyhose.

My Go-To store…..mainly because of convenience and reputation for “good deals”…..is Target.  Do you know how much ONE PAIR OF PANTYHOSE COSTS AT TARGET?!?

$8

A Pair.

And they are NOT super-strength that last for several wears.

I don’t want to date myself here, but last time I was buying pantyhose/tights “in bulk” I was paying $3-5 per pair.  GRANTED….. that was a WHILE ago, and I have to take inflation into account….but I really don’t think the technology has improved (clearly) or the material is in short supply.

Sigh.  Seems like I have to go to the mall and start some comparison shopping. For Hose.

Really?

The Winter that Wasn’t

Looks like we’re heading to another beautiful spring-like winter week here in Suburban Boston.  By the end of the week, it’s reported to be in the 50’s (again).  I almost wished I hadn’t put my feet in hibernation for the winter season, because I’m thinking sandals or flip-flops might be in order!

Sad, of course, for Hubby who is taking T-Man and Little Guy for a short ski-vacation at the end of the week. Granted, it won’t be 50 deg in New Hampshire (I think), but it will probably be like skiing in mashed potatoes.  I’ve heard from lots of people that the only place to find snow in New England is on the ski slopes themselves. The areas just outside of the ski resorts are as barren as my front yard.

Remember last winter? Record snowfalls?…..a snow storm every three days?

Here is the snow pile from January 13, 2011

2 weeks later....Jan 27, 2011

In comparison, here are this year’s TWO snowfalls….

January 10, 2012

Our second snowfall this year…..

Enough to make foot prints in

And now, it is February 20th, and here is my front yard…….

Pretty……barren, huh?  Being a life-long New England Girl….this is strange to say the least. Perhaps Mother Nature is just trying to even things out after last year?  But I have to admit, I wouldn’t mind one good dumping….just to go sledding, have a snowball fights, stay home from school…..isn’t that what winter is supposed to be like?

Mommy Fail

Everyone knows that being a Mommy is quite possibly one of the hardest jobs.  The rules change, there is no manual, unexpected things happen. We all try our hardest, but sometimes come up short.

One area which I have come up terribly short this year is Little Guy’s Birthday. It’s in the middle of February.  Every year I feel like Little Guy is gipped in some way.  It’s too close after Christmas, I have 3 January Birthdays to deal with first,  the ho-hum cold dreary days of February aren’t very motivating, and then I”m usually focused on planning a short little ski get-away for February break.  Very low on my priority list is Little Guys’ Birthday.  And this year, because of M-Man’s broken arm…..we don’t even have a present for Little Guy!  (but he is SO hard to buy for as he only plays with what his brothers have or sports….and we really don’t need any more balls in this house!)

HOW TERRIBLE OF ME!!!  He is such a ray of sunshine, such a happy guy, and his Bday takes a back seat!!

Luckily for me, he is also very low key. He has *never* asked for a huge party at an (expensive) venue with his whole class.  He’s very content and pleased-as-punch to just invite 3 or 4 of his closest mates for a little get-together.  This year’s fete was a sleep-over, where I invited his friends 2 days before. And can I tell you? They had the BEST time building Lego, playing video games, and playing football in the front yard.

And…..the Birthday cake….I was inspired by fellow blogger who tried to make a LEGO cake for her son’s Birthday.  I’m not a great baker.  (if you have a good memory, you’ll remember I really don’t like to bake.) But because I strive to be a good mommy, and I know good mommy’s make beautiful cakes for their children’s Birthday, I have on occassion tried to create for my own kids.

For T&M’s 7th Birthday, we were living in England, and the boys wanted a Knight-themed party, so I built a castle.

And for Little Guy’s 3rd Birthday, when he was going NUTS over tractors, I ordered a Tractor cake pan from the US and  spent HOURS decorating the Famous Tractor Cake:

This year’s attempt at the LEGO brick cake…..well…..take a look and feel free to comment (NOT)

But the beauty of it is, the kids don’t care. Little Guy loved it…..and he had a great 7th Birthday!!  His smile takes away this Mommy Fail.

And on a side note, I’ve already got NEXT year’s party all planned….and I will call the Baker!  Cheers, all!