Monday, February 21, 2011

Avoiding the Mom Frump-Help!

When Munchkin was first born, I was so overwhelmed, tired, and honestly, stunned by how much the ta-ta's HURT when my milk came in, that I spent the first several weeks relying on my collection of nursing shirts and my robe to get me through the constant feedings.

Then I muddled through months 2-4 post-partum relying mostly on maternity clothes, waiting on my belly puff to go down (still waiting a bit!) and sprinkling in a blousy top here and there.

So, Munchkin is now 6 and a half months old. I can happily say that I'm no longer wearing maternity jeans and haven't for a while. In fact, thanks to nursing, sporadic exercise and small miracles, I'm now into size 8 jeans. Well, in certain brands. But that's another blog post. But I'm still having issues fitting into most of my tops, because my body is different now. I'm still working on it, exercising, trying to eat right, etc. The Girls are definitely different, especially since I'm still currently nursing. However, I have a feeling that due to the fact that I gestated and birthed another human being out of my body, it is forever changed. And I'm truly, truly okay with that. I'm proud of what an awesome miracle and accomplishment this is for my body, especially with the worries we had about my heart condition.

Here is my problem now-I want to avoid Mommy Frump at.all.costs. Well, okay, not all costs- The Wiz would have an issue with me spending all of our money on clothes. Ahem. But I'm 29 years old. I am a stay at home mom. I no longer have a classroom to report to, nor 25 students to teach, lead, whatever. I have NO idea where to start in finding clothes to suit my new life. On a daily basis, I wear the following things: jeans, t-shirt, usually a Univ. of S. Carolina t-shirt or a solid colored crew neck shirt, and running shoes. At some point on any given day, I'll don exercise pants while Munchkin and I do our neighborhood walk, then after I shower the black yoga pants come out for the rest of the evening.

I'm tired of the t-shirts. I'm tired of feeling like I look like a slob. But where do I shop??? What kind of clothes suit my new lifestyle, a new lifestyle complete with spit up, urine, breast milk leakage, baby food scraps and the occasional poopy diaper blow out?? I don't need or want to look like a trendy, prissy, coiffed down to the toes mom. That's not really who I am 24/7. I enjoy dressing up like a hot mama when The Wiz and I go out, or when I have a girl's night, but I wouldn't enjoy it every day nor would it be practical.

I just need some direction, some inspiration for where youngish stay-at-home mamas can get some cute, attractive, non-slobbish yet resilient clothes. I want to look feminine, but not frilly or fussy. I want to look my age, not like I'm channeling my inner college student. I want to look like I give a shiz, not that I pulled today's wrinkled t-shirt out of the dryer before slapping my hair in a pony tail and running out the door. Oh, and I don't want to break the bank. Did I mention I'm a stay-at-home mom? One income, friends. You know how it goes. So I need help, friends. If you have had success finding such treasures, please give me a clue as to where to start.

So, please, please, help a mama-sister out! :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

YBR Mama's Top Ten List for the Wiz

I am completely stealing this idea from my friend Melissa over at All Things Hilton. She made a top 10 list of things she loves about her husband for Valentine's Day. The Wiz and I don't really go overboard for this day, we just like to spend time together. I'm not one of those anti-Valentine's Day people, I think the day should just serve to remind people to stop and spend time with those they love. It's so easy to get caught up in life-laundry, babies, diaper changes, bills, spit up explosions, oil changes, housework, family obligations-that we forget to do something small for their spouse and enjoy his company. So, here is my list of the top 10 things I loooooove about my husband, the Wizard of our Oz. (They're in no particular order.)


1. I love that we can be so silly together. Your ability to make me laugh, and the way I feel so at ease to be as goofy as I naturally am with you is one of the best things we have. Our ability to laugh together has helped us get through rough patches, make memories and make every day life so enjoyable.

2. I love your sweetness and gentleness with the Munchkin. You have no idea how much it warms my heart to see his face break into a giant grin when you come through the door, because he loves his daddy SO much. He has a great man to follow and model himself after.

3. I love that you are a morning person. I am absolutely NOT a morning person, but your cheerful spirit each morning helps me remember how blessed we are to have a new day to live and love each other.

4. As awful as it sounds, I love that you'll sit through The Bachelor and Real Housewives with me- only because hearing you make fun of these shows make them entertaining.

5. I love that I can look at you from across the room and can guess what you're thinking, and you can do the same for me.

6. I love that you're my sounding board when I'm frustrated or stressed. You're empathetic when I need it. You're also not afraid to hold up a mirror and help me see that my feelings or behaviors aren't what they need to be, which I appreciate.

7. I love that you call me on your way home EVERY DAY to ask if I need anything. That means so much, because it shows that you're thinking of me, and trying to make my life easier.

8. I love that although you're not a details person, when we travel, you take the time and effort to sit down and plan our activities. You research the best places to eat, the best places to visit, sights to see, and so on. You work so hard to make sure every time we travel that we have the most memorable, fun time possible.

9. I love your passion for the things you love in life. Me, your son, your family, your writing, you traveling, etc. You have a larger than life, boisterous presence that rubs off on all those around you.

10. I love that you give me time each weekend for me to have me time, even when I feel like I should stay home and work on my to do list. You encourage me to go to Starbucks, run errands, go shopping, or hang out in Barnes and Noble for a while.
You recognize that I need time for myself, and you encourage me to take it.

I love you, honey!!

My mini Valentine. What a love bug!

Need I say more?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

PYHO-You want me to do what? (Long!)

I was a public school teacher for six years. I taught four years at the elementary level, and my last two yeas were spent at the middle school level- sixth grade. For the most part, especially at the elementary school level, I loved it.

Sure, I had parents intimidate me, students challenge my authority, and coworkers question my teaching methods, even after my students' test scores showed I knew what I was doing.

I also had more fun, more laughter, more ah ha's!, more moments of clarity, more moments of courage, moments of determination, and moments where I just knew that I was doing what I was meant to do than I imagined possible.

One thing about teaching that becomes crystal clear before the school year even starts is that a teacher's job is never finished. A good month before school starts (if not earlier) is spent dusting off and improving long range plans, setting up your classroom, making copies, gathering materials and girding your mental "loins" for the big show down-the

The first week of school is make it or break it for a teacher. If you don't present a calm, cool, organized, confident, front-and trust me, it is a front;all teachers I know are seriously nervous before the first week of school-then your school year is potentially screwed. Once you get past a successful first week of school, the work falls into a routine.

On a weekly basis, you'll have the following: papers to grade, parent phone calls and emails to return, parent conferences, tests to write, copies to make, bulletin boards to create, meetings of all kinds-IEPs, 504s, Child Study meetings, class newsletters to write and copy, class websites and blogs to maintain, morning duty, afternoon bus duty, lesson plans to turn in, student folders to stuff with school newsletters, lunch menus, PTO news etc., and oh yeah, lesson plans to prepare just to name a few.

Another thing about teaching is the fact that if you need to be out, you not only need to find a "replacement" for yourself, but you have to do all the work for them ahead of time so that they can get through the day pretending to be you.

None of this stuff really bothered me for the first 5 years I taught. I found my groove and started to thrive on the constant busyness. Everything started to become routine, even the after school activities. I didn't mind being the Beta Club sponsor, spending time lining up speakers for our induction, taking the students after school to Wal-Mart to buy gifts for needy children at Christmas time, or even Family Science Nights, which required my team and I to be at school until 7 pm or later. I actually kind of enjoyed our Spring Carnival, which was a huge undertaking, requiring each grade level to come up with an idea for a booth and work several hours on a Saturday doing set up, participation, and then clean up. It was nice to see my students and their families in a relaxed setting, and I felt like part of a larger family.

Many of my coworkers would often bemoan the extra curriculars we were expected to take part in, complaining about how much time we already put in, both while we were at school and once we went home. Large, overstuffed bags full of papers to be graded were the trademark look for us each Friday as we departed for the weekend. I could understand intellectually why they would dislike having to be at school for so long. I knew they had children to take care of, husbands to spend time with, and entire houses to maintain. I, too, enjoyed my free time- working out, cleaning the apartment, traveling to see my sister and niece. But it really wasn't so bad for me. I enjoyed feeling the sense of connectedness to this larger school community.

Until, that is, I got pregnant.

Then the prospect of being forced to attend my school's "book fair night" at the local book store, to garner money for teachers to spend on classroom books, was simply exhausting to think about. You want me, 6 months pregnant, exhausted, up since 5, to teach all day then head to the book store to schmooze with parents until 6 or 7 pm?

You want me to show my face at "Family Bingo Night" so that I can present a happy front?

Well, I did it. I am, after all, a good girl who (mainly) does what is expected of her. But I was starting to get a clue about why my coworkers had been so averse to such activities.

Then, my precious baby boy was born. My Munchkin, born on a sweltering South Carolina August morning. And my world was turned upside down, inside out, totally and completely filled with my little man, his daddy, and finding our new normal. My heart aches when I'm away from him, so much so that I couldn't imagine going back to work, and we managed a way to work it out.

Recently the Munchkin and I were at the local bookstore, and it happened to be "book fair night" for my former school. I overheard conversations of former coworkers talking to parents, putting on a happy, outgoing, friendly persona while interacting with the kids. And I was surprised by my emotional reaction. I looked down at my little boy in his stroller and was overcome with anger. Anger towards all those extra curricular activities that have taken my friends away from their families. Anger for my fellow teacher, mother of three, who had to juggle how to pick up all three kids, get one to soccer, another to dance, and bring the third to book fair night because 1. her hubby was also a teacher, who spent afterschool time tutoring,
2. she felt guilty asking for a more preferable shift time, and 3. she refused to entertain the idea of asking to be let off the hook for this school event (again, guilt at work here.)

I looked down at my Munchkin and realized how sad, pissed off and disgusted I would be with my workplace if I was forced to leave my little guy at day care, and then miss our evening time together so that I could shmooze with other children and their parents.

I'm the first to recognize the importance of teachers' role in forming good relationships with parents and students. I also recognize that a teacher's job is never finished. But at what cost? As for me- not at the cost, not EVER at the cost of my time and relationship with my family. Call me self-righteous, call me crazy, call me judgmental. Don' I will do whatever it takes in the future to spend time with my family and put them first, as much and as often as possible. Schools need to do the same. Happy teachers =happy students and parents.

Friday, February 11, 2011

More confessions- getting to know YBR Mama...

Every once in a while, I'll ask my husband to tell me something about him that I don't already know. We've been together for 4 years, married for 3 in March, but it's always fun to see what he can come up with. Here are a few of the random things I have thought of to tell him...

1. I can be extremely nosy. For example, on trash day, I like to check out what people have in their recycling bins as I drive by. "Neighbor Allison's been through a case of Diet Coke this week. The Johnson's must've had pizza again last night. Oooooh, the Smiths have a new Plasma screen tv...jerks." However, I draw the line at actually slowing down to see said items, nor do I dumpster dive. That's beneath me. Sniff.

2. My day dream life rivals that of Ralphie from A Christmas Story. Remember how he had all those elaborate day dreams throughout the movie, defeating Ol' Black Bart with his bb gun? Yeah, I would totally whoop his arse with my day dreams. They are incredibly vivid, detailed, and unrealistic. They usually feature a size 6 me (ha!) doing something spectacular like winning American Idol, taking over Oprah's job, or finding myself on an airplane in first class, seated next to Vince Vaughn (don't laugh-funny=hot!) who can't stop himself from flirting with my hotness. "Ohhh, Vince- please! I'm a married woman! I'm just an old frumpy mommy- I can not run away with you! The Wiz and the Munchkin need me!! Silly man."

3. I believe coffee and sugar have magical powers. Evil, addicting magical powers that make it impossible for me to resist them or to function without them.

4. When I was a kid (fifth or sixth grade) I played rec soccer. I had zero endurance, so the coach stuck me in the goal. I was a pretty petite thing who didn't hit puberty until several years later. My nightmares now consist of overdeveloped, buxom girls hurtling towards me at light speed, ready to pulverize my skull with either the soccer ball, or their ginormous recently-developed-just-finished-puberty breasts.

5. When the soccer coach would deign to let me play in the field, I would often run out of breath and pretend to be tying my cleets so as to avoid throwing up from overexertion. True story. My parents actually have pictures of me doing this.

6. When I'm nervous, anxious or bored, I tend to trace things with my eyes and count the edges or corners. For example, waiting in the doctor's office at OB appointments, I would trace the door frames, base boards and service window. I think that points to my smidge of OCD.

7. When I was a kid, numbers had colors associated with them in my mind. As in, when I thought of the number 8, it was always a blue eight. Six always looked red, as did nine. One white, 2 was green, 3 was also blue. So, either I'm really odd, or I spent entirely too much time watching the number segment on Sesame Street. "One car, two cars, ah ha ha!" (My blog impersonation of SS's Count Vampire Dude)

8. In the third grade, one of the options for free time in my class was playing with a Oiija board. It gives a whole new meaning to "No Child Left Behind." Ugh-scary.

9. I will never again question whether my younger brother knows which cables go where in trying to jump start a car battery. When he followed my suggestion for how to put the cables, we set both his car and mine Sparks, smoke, flames.

10. The first person I called as my car was still flaming and smoking? My older sister. Who lived in Colorado. Just goes to show how much stock I put in her advice and opinions. However, her advice turned out to be to call the fire department, which I scoffed. Ew! A firetruck? In my apartment complex? Because of me?! Embarrassing! So I whipped out the old fire extinguisher and let 'er rip.

That's all for now. What weird, funny or silly things could you share about your life or yourself?

Monday, February 7, 2011

8 Week Sugar Detox- WHUCK?!

Sigh. I've got to do something. I know, in my heart of hearts, that I'm not eating like I should. I try to stick to a "healthy" diet, but I'm starting to feel like it's not good enough. I've been reading so much about whole foods, vitamins, and organic living lately and a part of me is wondering if this is a path I should try to take. The Wiz (my new nickname for DH; get it, Yellow Brick Road, Wizard? Oh, never mind) and I have been struggling with keeping and staying healthy for what seems like a long time. He is a meat, potatoes, cheeseburger, wings, pizza lover. Me? We have had some success in the past, only to fall of the wagon again and again. But the stakes are higher now. Now, we have our little Munchkin. Not only do we need to be around for him, but I feel a HUGE sense of responsibility to feed him healthy foods and to teach him how to live a healthy life style. I recently Twittered my way to a new blog, Naturally Knocked Up, and I was fascinated! Because, beyond living healthily every day, I've also struggled a bit with fertility (it took the Wiz and I a year to conceive, I had issues with hormone levels-check out some bits and pieces of our story-). Also, at 29 years old, with my first pregnancy and no family history, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I had a manageable case, but the fact remains that I'm more likely to develop it with future pregnancies, and I'm more at risk for Type 2 Diabetes later in life. The Wizard and I would love, love, love to have (at least) one more precious baby, and if I can find natural ways to improve our collective fertility and avoid diabetes, I'm all for it.
A part of Naturally Knocked Up's blog is an 8 week sugar detox. As in, the end result being *off* sugar. Gulp. Like I said, I love sugar. It tastes soooo good. It makes me happy. I enjoy dessert. I savor my coffee creamer, cookies at Christmas, chocolate.............but something So, here it is. I'm going to attempt Naturally's 8 week Sugar Detox. I am making NO promises about my success, but I'm definitely going to try my best. I plan on chronicling my plight, er, journey to a healthier lifestyle, so check back with me! Wish me luck!

Toddlers, Tiaras and Tyrannical mommies

My hub would testify in court that he thinks I am a reality TV junkie. In my defense, I do enjoy the Office, The Middle, Law and Order, etc. But TLC and Bravo tend to be my go-to stations. I don't watch or follow soap operas, but The Real Housewives are close to the "soap opera" type category. One show that is particularly similar to a nine-car pile up during rush hour traffic is the show Toddlers and Tiaras. If you're unfamiliar, the show chronicles tiny tot beauty pageants. It follows the plight of the stage mommies, as their little girls, from birth (yes, BIRTH) to 10, 11, 12 years of age practice their routines, get spray tans, don veneers, endure the application of fake eyelashes, and cavort around in costumes that resemble lingerie I received at my bachelorette party. TLC had a marathon of the show on yesterday, and I caught some snippets. Now, I realize that many, many, many of these little girls WANT to do these pageants and enjoy it. I am by no means saying that all of these little girls are forced to be a part of this against their will. There are two sides to this coin, but I take issue with both sides. Let's start with the easy one- the poor, tiny little girls who don't truly want to participate or are too young to let their opinion be known. One mother entered her 2 year old in a pageant. This beautiful little girl endured extensive make up application-specifically, bright blue glitter eyeshadow for her "Little Boy Blue" talent performance. Then, her mama walked her on stage, positioned her for her talent performance. Music started, baby girl just sat there. Mom proceeded to holler "encouragement" from the audience, "Get up! Stand up! Come on!" Then, baby girl started to cry. What does mama do? She gets up on stage, talks to her daughter, then leaves her daughter on stage, still crying, in hopes that she'll get it together and start performing. Did I mention this girl is 2??? Finally, the mama took the girl off the stage. It was painful to see, and it hurt my heart to watch. I'm not proud of watching, but like I said, it was like a car wreck- hard to look away. I don't need to say much more about what's wrong with that picture, do I?
Now let's talk about the little girls who want to be a part of the pageants. That is a different story, but one I still find fault with. I have two nieces, one of whom is the ultimate princess lover, the other who is the ultimate shoe lover. Shoe-lover is not even two- and my sister is NOT one to push gender stereotypes on her kids. Her girls are who they are, and they like what they like. I get that. But something seems terribly wrong with 5,6,7 year olds dressed up to look as if they are in their late teens- from how their hair is done, to their make up, their costumes, and don't get me started on their "dances". Something is terribly wrong with these little girls focused on "winning" trophies based.on.their.looks. Something is terribly wrong with the way these little girls are treated like superstars, or mini-goddesses by their parents. Something is terribly wrong with little girls being sexualized. And that is the crux of these little girl pageants. Five year olds aren't supposed to have perfect teeth, even tans, and voluptuously luxurious eyelashes. There are already too many pressures on girls today- we know that. What happened to balance? What happened to letting little girls play dress up, without teaching them that they main thing they have to offer the world is how they look? (after adjusting, squeezing, tweezing, and lacquering over their natural beauty of course.) I could go on and on, but the heart of the matter is this- I wish for a world in which all little girls, teenagers and young women are focused more on how they can work to improve our world and improve their hearts, rather than be preoccupied from the tender preschool age with shaking their recently potty trained tooshies on stage for trophies.