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Redefining Myself Through Volunteering

I may not have mentioned this already, but last year my husband and I made the decision that I should leave my job.  Working nearly full time - even telecommuting from home - and raising a child with a husband also working full time was causing a lot of stress on my life and my marriage, but it also wasn't allowing us to raise our child the way that we had hoped.  The transition from paid worker to unpaid servant was difficult.  And, it's still something that I cope with each day.  However, I've found ways to redefine myself not just as a mom, but as a professional with some serious clout!  I became a volunteer.

Volunteers aren't typically thought of as being professional nor building career reputations.  This image is definitely wrong...when you've got the right organization training you.  Several years ago, I made the decision to join the Junior League.  While I originally did this to make friends, this decision has grown into a commitment and a personal developme…

Words out of a mother's mouth

Ever since becoming a mom, there are key words and phrases that I have tried my best not to say.  It's not that there's really anything wrong with these words and phrases...it's that I don't want to become the cliche mom who is always saying things like, "Because I said so" or "When I was your age..."  So far, I've done pretty well at skipping these phrases, but I've been shocked at some of the other things that come out of my mouth when talking to my sweet pea.  So, I thought I'd share...

We don't touch puppy/cat/pig/goat/bunny bottoms.
Heads don't go in potties.
Dip your food, not your fingers.
We only spit after brushing our teeth.
Puppy food is for puppies.
You pooped in the potty!!  YEAH!
We don't drink Bud Light........yet. (Hey, I'm from St. Louis)
What phrases have most surprised you after flowing from your lips?

My Conclusion

It's been a while since my last blog.  Life seems to take up so much more time once my Sweet Pea started walking.  It's been just over a month, but I've already lost the ability to focus on individual tasks as they continually get interrupted by the need to get someone out of the dog bowls, out of the plants, into the potty, or redressed.  Busyness has been completely redefined when you're looking our for someone with a 30-second attention span.

However, life as a mother is also a lot more interesting and challenging as each new accomplishment is achieved. My Sweet Pea interacts with me (albeit, not always for the best) and tells me some of what she wants (apparently, I never feed her as she's always asking for "more").  She looks at the world with eyes I wish I still had...eyes that never get bored.  She can read Dr. Seuss's Mr Brown Can Moo over and over and, every time she gets to "He can sound like a hand on a door..." she knocks her own …

One Regret

Before having a child, I thought that I didn't have many regrets.  I have had a good life and been blessed to do many things.  What was there to regret?

However, as I watch my child grow, I notice that there are so many times when I have rushed through life and avoided really focusing on what's around me.  Having a child has changed that.  Not only do I now have to notice everything around me (for fear that my child will get into it), but I have to teach my child about all that surrounds her...to know the difference between red and purple, one and ten, dogs and cats, edible and yucky, play time and quite time, good and bad, right and wrong, and so many more things.

Just this morning, I found myself trying to rush through the day so that we could get to nap time.  I needed rest after the lack of sleep this week has brought me.  But, my daughter didn't want anything to do with it.  She wasn't throwing a temper tantrum (thankfully) and she wasn't screeching in excitemen…

Why Red Robin is great

I love to eat out.  I'm not quite a foodie, but I do appreciate a restaurant with a peaceful ambiance and fine cuisine.  Now, this past statement and the title of my blog may appear to be a paradox but, as many mothers may agree, it is not.

Red Robin, and similar restaurants, is one of the most relaxing places for me to enjoy a peaceful night out with my family or just my daughter and me.  It's peaceful because I cannot hear my daughter screeching over the sound of the music, other patrons, and other kids screeching around us.  It's the perfect place to go when you don't want others to know exactly how loud your child can get when out in public.  It's also perfect because they serve meals that resemble healthy food.  You can order grilled chicken with fruit and vegetables instead of everything fried. 

Now, the games in the waiting area may appear to be distractions which have the ability to cause tantrums at the drop of a dime (or dollar, as inflation seems to have g…

Surviving Single Parenting

For those of you who read this - I know it's not too many - some of you know me personally, so this won't come as a shock to you.  But, for the rest of you, there's a minor, personal detail which I've left out of my previous blog posts.  If you've been following me for any period of time, this may be surprising to you as I've shared the in's and out's of pregnancy, labor, and delivery, as well as many other sordid details of parenting.  But, alas, there is one important item which I've neglected to share.

I am a military spouse.  Now, you may be wondering what this means and what it has to do with the title of this post on being a single parent.  This essentially means that there are times when my husband cannot be around to be the father that I know he wants to be.  There are times when I must make the decisions for my family.  And, there are times when I must struggle through tantrums, milestones, life lessons, and other childhood dramas without su…

Stripping Cloth Diapers

It's been over a year now, and I am so happy that I have stuck with cloth diapering.  Not only have I saved money, but my daughter knows exactly when she has a dirty/wet diaper.  She is VERY vocal about this!  I hope this translates to easy potty training, but that's yet to be seen.

The one minor detail I've noticed as I've cloth diapered is that, occasionally, there is a smell to the diapers when they become wet or dirty.  It makes me think that each diaper is a poopy diaper, yet when I open it up, it's simply wet.  This has gotten kind of annoying. So, I did some research.

Did you know that cloth diapers need occasional maintenance in order to maintain their absorbency and eliminate detergent buildup?  I didn't.  You'd think that this information would be more readily accessible within the cloth diapering community.  But, seeing as I am one of the first of my friends to use cloth diapers, perhaps it's just not known in my community.

It's possible tha…

A Mother's Job

With Mother's Day quickly approaching...hint, hint to all the father's and children reading this blog post...I thought I'd do a quick recap of what I've learned over the past year about a mother's job. 

A mother's job, while quieted within society, is rarely filled with quiet.
It's filled with spills, spit ups, pukes, poops, dirty laundry, and dirty diapers because it's not a clean job. 
Because of this, we fill the diaper bag with a change of clothes for both Baby and Mama
Our days are not filled with sleep.  Sleep is overrated; naps are essential.
As is coffee...more than one cup.  The coffee shop knows to keep that cup full.

Happiness for a mother is that first night you get four hours of sleep.
It's the first smile and laugh - even if it is because of gas.
It's finding time to take a shower and fix your hair.
It's making it through a day with no blow outs.
It's eating a hot meal.
It's finding your belly button and taking those first steps…

Life Lessons According to Sweet Pea

It's amazing the way that toddlers look at the world around them.  I'm continually learning something new each day.  Here's what I've learned from my toddler today...

1.  Food tastes much better after it's sat on your head for a while.
2.  If at first you don't succeed (with eating utensils), just dump everything on the floor.
3.  McDonald's isn't healthy; dirt tastes much better.
4.  I know when Mama's not looking.
5.  Toys and books are fun, but puppies, remotes, and phone are more fun.
6.  I will teach myself to push buttons, then I will push them constantly.  It never gets boring.
7.  It's more exciting if I make Mama dress me while I'm running away.
8.  Why on Earth do I need to learn the word "mama", she's always there; I never need to call for her?

Independence

Independence is an amazing thing.  I recall moving into my first "real" apartment after college.  My parents were no longer footing the bill.  I had no roommates.  I was responsible for everything: decorating, cooking, cleaning...  My complete independence had begun!


What seems like ages since then, I've now learned that independence comes in cycles.  We're continually moving through periods where we become dependent on things and/or people.  Or, others are becoming dependent of us.  Such is the case with parenting.

This past week, I have been working with my Sweet Pea on her own independence...mainly so that I can once again have my independence (at least during meal times so that I can sit down and enjoy a hot meal).  We've been working on using utensils to eat, eating finger foods (although nearly every food has become a "finger" food whether I want it to be or not...think applesauce all over the floor!), and entertaining ourselves.  These skills, as w…

I See - I Need

Let's face it; I'm not really made to be frugal.  However, in today's society, frugality can be a necessity.  So, I try.  I have saved money using cloth diapers, making my own baby food and home-cooked meals without going to the grocery store; I gave up clothes shopping for Lent (probably my greatest Lenten sacrifice to date)...I'm making a real effort at not spending money.

The difficult thing is that I have wants.  They're not needs.  They're not, "I can't survive without it" or "That will make work so much easier."  No, they are wants...I want what others around me have.  I want the nicer car, the exotic travel, the ease of life that seems to come if I just get that newer gadget...you get the idea.  These are all a part of the "I see - I need" syndrome which I have to resist on an hourly basis.

It's not easy to resist these urges.  I am the person that marketing departments are trying to get when they put items in the chec…

Transitions

Transition is always difficult.  Whether it's moving to a new home, changing jobs, changing relationship statuses...there are always obstacles to overcome and challenges to face. 

The same is true for transitions in my Sweet Pea.  The periods of transitions are the toughest for us.  First, it was transitioning from in the womb to in my arms.  After all, she had to learn to breathe on her own, nurse, sleep during the night and stay awake during daytime - not to mention allowing all of her body systems to function.  That's one tough job for someone so tiny.  The next major transition was to eating solid foods.  She had to learn tastes, textures, swallowing while getting rid of the tongue thrust reflex.  Other transitions are to moving her own body via crawling or walking, talking and communicating, playing on her own or entertaining herself.  The list goes on and on and on. 

While these periods of change have included many sleepless nights on my part, they have - as I look back - …

There's Hope For Me Yet!

This past week, I was blessed to be able to listen to a fabulous presenter, Will Parnell, Director of the Helen Gordon Child Development Center at Portland State University.  During his talk, he discussed how we, as adults, can look at our children not as children of needs, but children of rights.  With this approach, we can actively listen to our children and involve them in society instead of assuming that they are helpless and are in constant need of our assistance.  Even at a very young age, children have possibilities.  We just have to listen to them - even when they can't speak for themselves.

As a mom, there are days that go by when I wonder where the hope is for me.  My Sweet Pea is either not sleeping well, not eating well, not building her vocabulary, not crawling, not walking...you get the point: she's not doing what I see other kids her age doing.  I know, I know...every child develops at a different rate.  You hear this over and over from other parents, relatives,…

Leftovers

I have a lot of friends that are gourmet chefs.  While perhaps not classically trained in the art of cooking, as I watch them meander through their kitchens preparing delicacies from around the world, I realize how much of a foreigner I am in my own kitchen.  I tend to stick to the easy-to-prepare, no-fuss recipes.  My go-to recipes tend to include chili, meatloaf, pot roast, enchiladas, grilled chicken, salmon, and spaghetti. My husband is the king of leftovers and so I rarely have to eat this after-thought of my preparations.  I don't like leftovers.

However, as I begin this new challenge of not spending money on groceries and simply using what I already have, I found that I have a ton of leftovers in my fridge and freezer.  While, in a typical month, I would probably just toss these if my DH hadn't eaten them in a week, I feel like I need to also partake in this cleansing so that I can truly fulfill the goal of my challenge of not wasting food.

Therefore, on the first two day…

A Challenge

Perhaps if you've been reading my blog for a while, you've realized that I'm a person who loves a challenge.  I think that's part of why I've survived being a mom for nearly an entire year...yes, my Sweet Pea is almost one!  It's amazing how fast the time flies.  Granted, I don't remember half of it, but I have my previous blog posts to help me remember it all.

As my second year of being a mother begins, I had a thought...really a dare from my husband.  We have saved so much money by using cloth diapers and cloth wipes - as well as making most of our own baby food - that I wonder where else I could save money.  After all, I love to spend money, but I can't spend money I don't have!

So, here's the idea.  For the month of March, I am going to attempt to only make meals with items that I already have in my pantry, fridge, and freezer.  I'm going to attempt to spend nothing - or next to nothing - on groceries (which is usually one of our top expen…