When Mom is a Bridesmaid

Mostly, I think I am a grown-up… or at least I pretend to be. There is no definitive criteria for establishing adult-hood and maturity is not automatically granted at the age of 18. Occasionally I’ll have one of those wow-I’m-getting-old moments and by occasionally, I mean all the time.

My best friend of almost 25 years is getting married. Yes, that would make us 21 years young. I am honored to be her bridesmaid and looking forward to the wedding. Although I don’t mind humiliating myself by blogging about life’s embarrassing moments, I won’t humiliate her by mentioning we used to have practice weddings in the library with paper flowers, wedding invitations written on notebook paper, and an aisle we used to walk down near the non-fiction section.

I haven’t been in a wedding since my own and I hadn’t anticipated the challenges of being a bridesmaid and being a mom at the same time.

Ah, how un-fondly I look back on that moment when the bridal shop called to verify my unusual measurements were accurate. Nonetheless, I re-did my measurements to determine whether or not having a baby had turned me into a mis-shapen mutant and it had. I not-so-enthusiastically ordered a larger dress size and was distressed when I tried it on. Snug is not a word that makes women feel beautiful or sexy. Bless the seamstress who promised the next time I try the dress on, my expression will be happier. If that is the case, I might have clothes professionally altered more often just for the pep-talks.

While we were waiting to have the alteration ticket written up, my mother and I were discussing undergarments. Yes, undergarments. My mother suddenly laughed (although I take undergarments very seriously) and I realized my son was standing on the pedestal with a young girl  who was having her prom gown fitted. Flirting already at 15 months… hide your daughters. After I offered an apology only necessary for me, I scooped him up and pondered the logistics of being a bridesmaid and being a mom.

We had a plan at the bridal shower for when he got fussy and I wasn’t able to make him happy without neglecting my bridesmaid duties, but the wedding will be a bigger challenge. I think I can hear some moms telling me to just leave him at home, but my usual childcare options will be AT this wedding and making arrangements is a little more complicated seeing as how we are traveling for the wedding.

And how will I get ready? I have been responsible for getting myself, my husband, and my son ready for the past 15 months. I’m afraid if I’m not there to help they’ll show up with no pants on or else inconveniently late. If the universe ever implodes and time collapses on itself, it is because a mother was not there to get her family ready.

This is another one of those unexpected ways a woman’s life changes after having a baby. No matter what other role I might serve as a bridesmaid, a working woman, or someone trying to wash their car… first and foremost I am a mom now!

What experiences have you had with taking your child to a wedding? Success or embarrassing disaster?  Any tips or tricks for taking your child to celebrate a special occasion?

5 Parenting Things I Should or Shouldn’t Be Doing

Although I am a working mom, my toughest job is being a mom. Children are complicated and they don’t come with any instructions.

I taught for five years before switching careers in 2008. My students ranged in age from 3 to 14 and the subjects I taught ranged from Montessori to Spanish. Some of the more friendly parents would talk to me about their parenting issues, and I assumed that someday I would be well prepared to handle it. As a teacher, I had to deal with potty fights (use your imagination), wrangled groups of kids on the playground, and helped several children deal with some serious emotions and situations.

This is where I say something like; Oh, how wrong I was.

Working with children has, in no way, prepared me for having a child of my own. I’ve looked to parenting literature, social media forums, and other parents as I struggle to be the best mom that I can be.

When I am in public with my child, I am aware of the stares I get from people who used to be just like me; the people without kids who silently remind themselves that they never want to be a mom like me. There is no right or wrong with parenting, there is just… different. But despite my open mind about parenting, others have strong opinions about how it should be done. Moms come in a lot of varieties; strict, cool, serious, kind, silly, strong, etc. I’m the confused kind of mom.

As parents, we can all agree that nothing is more important than having safe, happy, healthy, and loved children. What we disagree on is how to make all those things happen. I am aware of some things I do as a mom that other parents disagree with. Below is my list of 5 things I should or maybe shouldn’t be doing.

5 Things I Should or Shouldn’t Be Doing

What I do: I let my son brush my hair My hair is thick and long, thus taking a very long time to dry even with a blow dryer. My son has been mimicking what he sees others doing and that includes brushing his own hair in an awkward manner his motor skills can’t handle yet. He has his hair brushes, but he really likes to use mine. When I hand my brush over to him, I know it’s gonna be painful for me. Why I do It? We’re bonding; he is trying to take care of me the way that I take care of him. Kind of like the monkeys that pick bugs off of one another. He’s also learning good grooming and controlling the force of his touch (the grabbing-pulling that makes doggies cry when he pets them).

What I Do: I let my son play with my cell phone My husband, mother, and so many others have told me this is a bad idea. Mostly, they think I am teaching him playing with phones is OK and they are afraid for theirs. I have rules though. He can only play with my phone when I offer it to him. If he takes it himself, I take it away. I also require that he only play with my phone under my supervision. I don’t want him eating, trowing, or losing my cell phone. If it looks like he is getting rough, again I take it away. Why I do it? It just makes him happy. More often than not, the only thing he does with my phone is turn it on, turn it off, and smile each and every time he does it.

What I Do: I feed my son food other than fruit and vegetables I was strict on what my child ate during the first year of his life as though I was following a specific recipe to ensure healthy eating habits for life. Now? Not so much. As we added more and more foods to his diet and different textures, I don’t restrict him to fruits, vegetables, and small portions of healthy meats. I have no problem sharing a few bites of cake with him. Why I do it? If he wants to try something I am eating, then why not? It’s my job to teach him how to make healthy choices, not limit his taste buds while he’s growing.

What I Do: I let my son play with things that are not toys Like things with buttons (computers, calculators) newspapers, shoe boxes, and other things you might just throw into the trash. Currently, his favorite toy is a tin box and some ticket stubs. He loves opening and closing the tin box and passing out the tickets one by one to anyone nearby. And like a lot of other children, he also loves cooking with an empty bowl and spoon. Sometimes he even makes ticket soup. Why I do it? This entertains him for HOURS and is made up of a tin box a friend gave him and left over ticket stubs that were garbage. He plays quietly, why wouldn’t I let him play with it?

What I Do: I let my son make a mess Yes, sometimes I watch him dump his toy bins on the floor and mix the organized contents. That same thing some mother’s update their Facebook status about with pictures of the damage their children caused. Why I do it? He’s just having fun and clean up is a game for him. I cheer and praise him when he puts toys back into his toy box or the bins. So instead of telling him NO when he makes a mess, I’m telling him YES when he cleans it up. This positive reinforcement has led to him spontaneously putting things away and another game he likes to play called, pick-up-the-tiny-thing-the-vacuum-missed-and-give-it-to-mommy.

BONUS: I also let my son shower instead of bath (you just try getting him to sit in the tub), I laugh at how cute he looks when he has a tantrum, and I let him get dirty when he plays in the yard.

Do you let your children do something maybe they shouldn’t be doing?

 

Tuesday 10: 10 things I would want on a deserted island

Below is my must-have list, should I ever encounter a deserted island. I am assuming there will be food and water sources available if I know where to look and/or how to acquire it.

To be clear, it is a deserted island not a dessert island. In that case, the only item I would require is a spoon.

1. Big Gun: Not necessarily for shooting at anything in particular, just for piece of mind. When a twig snaps in the middle of the night, I’d feel much better after firing a few random shots to spook the twig away. Also, if the Hunger Games should ever happen, I got dibs on a big gun.

2. A Man: I’m not very knowledgeable about physics, but I think there is something called Fabio’s Law that says; when on a deserted island, must have a tan muscle man. I’d like to amend that law to say; must have a nerdy man with glasses. My nerd can build fires with lenses, make a stand mixer out of a coconut husk, and know the friendly edibles. Oh, and by nerd here, I mean my husband. My husband is Bear Grylls.

3. A Volleyball: Things are much less deserted on an island when you have a companion made out of a volleyball.

4. Tent: I like sleeping outdoors but I have a minimal standard. A tent is very necessary for keeping mosquitoes away from me at night and making me feel a little more secure under a dome of waterproof fabric.

5. Fire: There is a reason fire is so important for survival. It provides warmth, light, a valuable cooking tool, and peace of mind. Also, when my nerd makes me a shower out of bamboo, I gotta have hot water.

6. My Goody Brush: There is one hairbrush on this earth that can get through my thick hair without causing breakage or pain. It took me 25 years to find the perfect brush and there is no way I am leaving it behind.

7. Blank paper: I don’t need to take books or reading material with me; I love writing my own. Blank sheets of paper open up endless possibilities.

8. Sunscreen: I have had sun poisoning each and every time I have visited the beach.

9. Electronic Device: I need to be able to tweet about what’s happening on the deserted island of course and pinning my bamboo and grapevine DIY projects.. Also doubles as a flashlight, a camera, and a way to communicate regularly with Amy @ It’s 10:02 Again.

10. My son: He is EVERYTHING to me! And, he comes with a dinosaur.

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What or who would you take on a desert island with you?

Tuesday 10: Spring Color Inspiration

Below are ten colorful items all around me that have influenced my spring color palate.

1. What I Saw: Daffodil Yellow

2. What I Saw: Petunia Red

3. What I Saw: Storm Cloud Gray

4. Pop Culture Inspired: Effie Trinket, The Hunger Games

5. Pop Culture Inspired: Joan Holloway, Mad Men

5 Spring Colors sitting at my desk

6. Cherry Blossom Pink (Lotion by Bath and Body Works)

7. Dark Kiss Plum (Lotion by Bath and Body Works)

8. Fuchsia (iPhone Case)

9. Peacock (Wedding Invitation)

10. Mockingjay Blue

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What colors are inspiring you this spring?

Spring Ambitions

I’m not a winter-girl. If you’ve ever held my icy hand, you might understand why not. I don’t mind November and getting cozy in a different wardrobe, but the excitement quickly fades and I complain endlessly about how much I hate sweaters, scarves, and boots. Not sure if this is the type of thing I need to apologize for these days, but please don’t find my seasonal stereotypes offensive. Christmas is enough to distract me in December, but on the 26th I impatiently wait for spring.

I must be part grizzly, because I set my alarm clock to springtime. I awaken from my hibernation in March and have an urge to do what I am so reluctant to do in the winter; GO OUT AND DO STUFF. In the winter my errands are a chore, in the springtime they are an excellent reason to get out of the house and find something else to do. My energy level skyrockets and being busy when the season changes is less negative than it is in the colder months.

My enthusiasm for Spring doesn’t seem to be motivating me through my to-do list. We all know that no amount of enthusiasm can give you more hours in the day. Already this spring, my Saturdays and Sundays become Mondays and I feel robbed of my weekends. Every Friday in the office, we all discuss our weekend plans. On Monday we discuss what we actually did. As you can imagine, my to-do list and my I-did list look nothing alike. It’s the difference between fantasy and reality. It’s the difference between marrying Luke Skywalker and marrying a man who puts his t-shirts on backwards.

I welcomed Spring with a standard cold; no dramatic fever or vomiting, just enough to make me feel miserable and bitchy for 6+ days. Now that I am feeling like my usual awful self, I am contemplating my current reason for being bitchy. Today I will blame it on Monday. Passing the cold on to my son, mother, and husband didn’t help.

If you have never visited Washington, D.C. in the springtime, DON’T EVER! I will be forced to hate you if you dare visit D.C. in March to April when we have Cherry Blossoms and parents who think they are clever and original for being their kids to D.C. for spring break. Yes, I am that bitch who ruined your beautiful family photo in front of the Capitol because I walked right through it. And despite the fact that I might be going to the same place you are asking me directions for, I will tell you I don’t know how to get there and walk away.

Also making me miserable this Spring is grass. I love boasting to others in D.C. about our 1 acre yard. I also love bitching about our 1 acre yard when we have neighbors who competitively mow their lawn to see who can have the shortest grass. I think our neighbors have stopped judging our tall grass, because they are nosy enough to notice that nobody is home during the weekdays and the weekends are usually raining. If you are good with numbers, we cut our grass 1 time for every 6 times they mow theirs. #TeachableMoment

After miraculously managing to survive on 4 hours of sleep each night to read 2 entire books, my husband has gotten me the 3rd book in the Hunger Games series. Easy read, but not when you are the mother to an over-achieving 1 year old who wants to get a head start on his terrible two’s. Reading books is like a drug; I shouldn’t be doing it because I don’t have the time, but once I start, it is hard to stop.  I’d like to jump into Game of Thrones next… that is like me getting a good stretch after I wake up from a nap and saying I might try out for the Olympics.

I have a long to-do list, but I am sure you do too. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I always have Spring ambitions. Eventually, I’ll be realistic.

But now is not that time.

Now is the time for enjoying new possibilities and complaining about my failure to manage my time effectively.

How do you feel about Spring? Fresh start or just more to do?

The Hunger Games: A review by a mother who was reluctant to read it

Do not beware: this review does NOT contain spoilers!

Do you NEVER have time to read anymore? Yeah, me neither. If I did, I don’t even know what I would read. I am so out of touch with books, I’m not even sure they still call them books. Reading a book is a big commitment for me. I not only invest my time, but I also invest a little bit of myself in the characters.

I first encountered The Hunger Games on Twitter. Next, my coworkers were talking about it and sharing copies of the books in the office. Soon Facebook was dominated by status updates that referenced events in The Hunger Games and included many exclamation points.

I thought if it was getting attention like this, it might be a good book and perhaps I should take a look. I went to Google and discovered The Hunger Games was this massive thing I was too old to understand. Like Harry Potter maybe, or Twilight? My first surprise came when I discovered it was a young adult novel. That was hardly what I was expecting considering family, friends, and coworkers (both male and female and mostly older) were recommending the book. Recommending is a weak word; BEGGING better describes their encouragement.

Intrigued that so many adults (who are only young in spirit) were interested in a young adult novel, I read the synopsis (From Amazon):

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

(Do you see the typo in Amazon’s synopsis? It is SCREAMING at me and driving me crazy!)

Alarms were going off in my head. No, no, no! When there are unusual names for people and/or places, that typically suggests it is a genre or topic I won’t enjoy reading about. When I read, I like the creative freedom of imagining it all, but I don’t like to have to think too much. Reading is for enjoyment and I intend for it to relax me, not give me homework to do on the side to understand what is happening to who. Besides, I was expecting something else like another angsty teen drama. I visited the Wikipedia page and did something shameful; I read the entire plot synopsis. Well why not? I’m never gonna read a book like that. I skimmed the entire Wikipedia page in a minute or two, and moved on with my life.

One afternoon I was chatting with my sister about our usual topics these days: my son, zombies, dinosaurs, and bike riding. She mentioned she had just started reading The Hunger Games and I knew it was inevitable now that I would be reading it too. I purchased the book that evening and read to Chapter 3 the following day on the train before I totally stopped for an extended period of time. Several days, a week or two. I didn’t have the time (work-life imbalance) or the patience (who does with a 14 month old running around the house?) to continue reading. I resolved instead to just see the movie… one of these days… maybe.

I met with a former co-worker for coffee the following Thursday. Just before we shared goodbyes, I asked her if she had read The Hunger Games too. She enthusiastically said yes but was kind enough to sympathize with me when I told her I had read the entire Wikipedia page already. I was at work the following day and had some time to read a little more while I took a small break. I’m not sure what it was, perhaps Peeta Mellark, that got my attention. It was very suddenly Hunger Games love at first sight.

I was pissed during our evening commute when my husband was too busy making phone calls to drive. I grumbled behind the wheel and cursed each time traffic slowed me down. Didn’t these people know I had a totally legit reason my time was more valuable than theirs? I was also very snippy-shall-we-say towards my husband. I resented him from taking away a perfectly good opportunity I could be reading undisturbed.

We all know what happens when mom comes home, not that I would have it any other way, but I was feeling selfish with my time. I was patient enough with my son that I only opened my book when he was happily entertained (cross my heart I did not ignore him). Basically, I carried my son in one arm, and my book under the other. Room to room. Everywhere. We. Went.

After he was in bed, I crammed 4 hours of reading time in. Although my husband is a night owl and only requires 5 hours of sleep max., I am usually asleep at the earliest opportunity. I took his breath away when he discovered I was awake at 1:30 am.

On Saturday I considered setting my alarm for an hour earlier than my son’s anticipated wake-up time. But mostly, I did not lose my sanity. I was happy when my husband invited my son and I to tag along to an event he had Saturday afternoon. Long car ride + sleeping baby (no obligations or responsibilities in the car) = TIME TO READ (See how I did multiplication AND addition there?)

I finished the first book before the return trip home and didn’t take the time to assess whether or not I liked it before we made a pit stop so I could get the second book in the trilogy. I think that was the intended effect of the first book.

By Sunday evening, the second book was finished. I am currently DESPERATELY assessing my calendar and looking for time to finish the trilogy.

Have you read The Hunger Games?

The awesomest thank you!

When I was a teacher, we would frequently thank visiting speakers with a collection of thank you notes from the class. It was an opportunity for students to describe what they learned and express their appreciation for the visit to our school.

A message and an illustration to express 'thank you.'

As moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or whatever you are, it is no secret that kids say some silly things. When a student wrote a thank you note to a weatherman who had visited their school, unicorns with donuts on their horns, a supreme-ultra lord of the universe, and 200 story castle were involved in the awesomest thank you note ever!

Read the full story here…

What are some of the totally awesome things your kids have said?