Monday, December 31, 2007

A Winter Dip in the Pool

For some reason the holidays kept us in the house so much more than we are used to. Whether it was having family over or just getting stuff done around here, we found ourselves constantly in the cabin, which created some miserable kids and adults too. Today I broke out of the mold. I left a half undecorated tree and boxes of Christmas stuff that needed to go back to the attic in the entryway and we left the mess simple as that.

I called up a friend that also belongs to our local YMCA and I convinced her to meet us there- although she wasn't in love with the idea. It was a fairly easy sell since she fished around for a good excuse and couldn't come up with one, so she grabbed her three girls and met us there. Finding swimsuits mid winter was a challenge, but it also reminded me of how much work goes into a day at the pool. We had to dig out towels, swim diapers, and a change of clothes since in the summer it's easy to just throw a cover on the wet bathing suit and head outside- not the same in the winter. Winter coats, towels, long clothes, and a bottle of shampoo (one must take a shower afterwards just to check one more chore off the list for the day)

Although it was a hassle, it felt great to get out of the house and into a winter escape that gave us a quick taste of the summer. The kids came home starving and tired, so everyone had a great nap- or is still having one.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Door To Door Organics!

Ah, my dream has finally become a reality. A few weeks ago I got a flier on my front door for fresh organic produce delivery and thought, hey, it's finally happening. Cincinnati is catching on to the importance of organic produce. The beauty of delivery is that it is the luck of the draw, and I love that surprise. I joined a produce co-op last spring/summer/fall and not only did I cook more, I tried new vegetables that I had always shunned in the past and I was fortunate enough to acquire some new favorites too. This system seems pretty flexible in the size order, and what you select. If you only want fruit, then sign up for just fruit. If brussel sprouts make you cry, let them know and they will give them to someone else in trade for something you do like.

Support local businesses and locally grown produce. They start delivery in January, so sign up soon! I'll keep you posted on how I like it.

Speaking of Laptops- Don't buy a Dell Alienware Laptop

I hate my Alienware laptop. I know harsh words for a semi-lover of computers but it's true. I feel like it's my mission in life to stop at least one person from making such a crazy purchase. My husband bought it a few years back claiming to love the slim size. Sure I think it was more of a marketing job well done, since it's a computer geared toward gamers- did I forget to tell you my hubby is a video game efficianado. After about 6 months, the battery died. What is the point of having a laptop if you must keep it plugged in. So we spent I think around $60 replacing the battery. Did this solve our laptop problem? No, not at all. It over heats too. Not a big deal in the winter right? Wrong. One must save work constantly or risk deleting everything you are working on. I can't tell you how many articles I was in the middle of writing for Stuntmom, only to be discouraged by my lovely Alienware shutting down.

I did read in PC Magazine back in March that Dell bought Alienware , so maybe they will turn them around, but don't count on it. Again, if I can stop just one person from buying Alienware computers, then this article has served it's purpose.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Laptop for Kids

My husband has a passion for computers, some might say an obsession. So it's no wonder friends might ask me if I think kids need a laptop. Do they "need" one. No, of course not, but would it be nice if they didn't break yours as they are fighting over who gets to play next?

Here is his suggestion for the season. It's great, buy one, and they give you one to give away- yes it's a tax deduction. Here's the website. It claims to be durable and you can't go wrong with green and white!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Should You Work or Stay Home?

Ah, the endless question. At 2:00 today I'm meeting with a friend that is looking to sign a year contract to go back to work but is in a state of panic over it. She has the same dilemma that filters through so many of our heads. She said she went back into her old office last week to pick up a few things and felt so energized by the office that she said she had a really hard time not signing the contract on the spot. She sent me an email requesting advice, and I really didn't feel that an email was going to give her what she wants. I did admit though, that my advice about working or staying at home changes from day to day.

I remember bumping into a woman that I new stayed at home and mentioned to her that I was going to be staying at home in a few weeks and wanted to know if she had any advice to offer. Her number one tip was to treat your stay at home life like a job. Get up before the kids, shower, make coffee and have a few minutes to yourself. She said she can't stress enough about the shower, and she also said she puts on make up to make herself feel like she's working. Oh wait, she is endlessly working! But I think this is where my friend is having such a hard time. She's at home with a newborn, so she doesn't even have someone to negotiate with, or talk to at all. She also said she is busy, or at least has no problem filling up her days, she is running errands all day long, cooking and cleaning, so she hasn't made any time for her social life. She doesn't have any friends who stay at home! I think every mom that is new to staying at home has found this to be the case. Stay at home mom's don't just appear on your doorstep.

I remember being in the same spot which is why it's so crucial to get out to the park, gym, playgroups, story time, just to be around other moms. How can you meet other people that stay at home if you are only making it out to the grocery stores? I realize it's very had when it's just a newborn, since they don't need to go to the zoo or children's museum, but adults do!

Never cancel your plans as a stay at home mom. It's so easy to have an excuse to cancel plans, but nothing makes yourself and the other friend feel worse than a last minute cancellation. I did call my friend to make sure we were still on for today and she said... "well maybe, my kindergarten er is home sick" so I immediately invited myself over to her house and told her to shower before I arrive. I know, tough love.

It's such a hard decision since we do get so much out of working. One really has to look a lot harder to see the hidden benefits of staying at home. No one is there to thank you for a job well done, you just have to look at your kids to see that you are making an impact.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Meet Max

Don't ask me how, but this sweet little 100 pound baby became ours yesterday. No, we weren't in the market for a full grown bullmastif, or a dog at all for that matter, but we are happy to have Max join our household. Three dogs, three kids..... and for those wondering, Max is a birthday gift to my husband. Not that I would call him a dog lover, or even a dog liker, but the girls and I thought he needed another boy around the house. Happy Birthday Michael!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Junk Mail

I just can't get over the volume of catalogs we receive. Karen's article inspired me to go back through and cancel all of the junk I currently get. Here's what was in the recycle bin for the last two weeks:

Tiffany & Co.
L.L Bean
Bed Bath and Beyond
Wine Country Gift Baskets
Vista Print
Oriental Trading Company
Pottery Barn
Red Envelope
Pottery barn Baby
Company Kids
Arhaus Furniture

I was able to cancel them all using the website except for the last two which will get a phone call. I will continue to keep track over the holidays and will let you know if it's really working. It all just seems too easy!

Point to note, they need your name as it appears on the catalog, so hang onto them, until you delete them. Oddly enough, I was listed 11 different ways, had 15 different catalogs for the last two weeks (recycling didn't make it to the curb last week). Great website Karen.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


From Zen, meditations on being a mother, Roni Jay
Sourcebooks, Inc., Naperville, IL:


Henry Ford said, “Whether you believe you can or whether you believe you can’t, you’re absolutely right.”

The ability to believe in the improbable is a talent for life. If we don’t believe in magic when we are children, we have no hope of believing in it as adults. One of the greatest gifts a mother (or father) can give her children is a sense of magic and wonder, so that their imagination can blossom. Any opportunity to create magic for a child is an opportunity to give that child a truly valuable gift.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Catalog Choice

I was talking to my mail man yesterday and congratulating him on getting through all the political mailers that had been adding to his load (something we had discussed a few days prior). He said that the political mailers were nothing compared to the rise in catalogs that he expected would continue through this holiday season. I mentioned that I had signed up for Catalog Choice, an amazing Internet service that lets you opt out of any unwanted catalogs that come to your door, and he was so pleased! So, for mailmen everywhere (oh yeah, and the environment too, I suppose), I am sharing this info....

Just keep track of the name to whom any unwanted catalog you receive is addressed and/or the customer number, and create an account at You will create a running tally of every catalog that you enter and its status. You can change the status at any time.

In our conversation, my mailman also painted an interesting picture of the effects of our consumer choices. He shared with me that each day he brings about 3 1/2 crates of mail to half his route (the Clifton Gaslight district, which is the section my house is in) and 1 crate to the other half (a stretch of Vine Street). The two halves he was describing represent two very different demographics. And the difference in mail volume, he said, is made up in catalogs. So, basically, most of the folks up in the Clifton Gaslight are shopping away to their hearts' content, and with each purchase generating a new slew of catalogs, while the folks down on Vine are not. The mailman also noted that my house probably received the lowest mail volume on my half of his route. I was surprised that he would have even noticed. It was a great reminder to me of how often people are noticing our actions and their effects even when we aren't even aware that they're noticing.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Forget it

It's Sunday morning, 10:30ish, I'm without a shower, teeth are brushed, my hair is pulled back in a headband in a semi effort to look like I can be seen to let the dogs out, but nothing more. I'm doing a month's worth of ironing, the kids are dressed but hair isn't brushed, not sure if their teeth are either. Clothes are spread all over the house as I'm working to finally pack away the summer wardrobes for three kids. The doorbell rings and my husband offers to go get it.

He opens the door to find a woman dressed as I would call "business casual". Make up, hair done, and dressed for a meeting or calling on a friend you haven't seen in a few years. He asks if he can help her and she asks if this is Jennifer's house. He replies with a simple yes, and continues to just stare. "Well, we have a play date", she says. "By all means, come on in".

They walk to the back of the house and I holler, "who was it?" Michael coolly replies, "hey, your play date is here". Of course the first thing she says is "oh, did you forget?" Now this is where I wish I could do so many things over, other than have remembered in the first place. I say, "oh no, of course not". Why, Why, Why? Why couldn't I have just said, "oh my, I'm so sorry, but wow, I'm so happy to see you and glad you remembered". But instead I continued to put on this act that I was fully ready for her arrival. Also, if there is one thing I can't do well, it's act. I was so embarrassed to have forgotten, but now I'm even more horrified that I tried to cover it up. Maybe it's because I don't know her too well. Or maybe because she is always so well put together that I didn't want to seem so flaky. But instead I just looked like a fool that can't admit to having forgotten something. I really wish I could do the whole morning over again. First I would have taken a shower. Second, I would have looked at the calendar. If I failed those two, then I would have at least been honest and said, sorry, I'm so forgetful now that I'm working again- who am I kidding, I've always been a little forgetful. In the past as a stay at home mom, my few scheduled social interactions played a bigger part in my life and now I try to focus on way to many things. I beat myself up over the things I have forgotten since going back to work, like bringing an apple to school for my preschooler's project, or sending a birthday card to my cousin who ALWAYS remembers mine. Is it really working that is making me forget since I'm spread so thin, or am I just getting older and more forgetful? Heck, I turn 40 in a few weeks, what can I expect?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Getting Your Kindergardener to Talk- Easy Right?

The first month of school came and went and I had no idea how my daughter was spending her time. She would get off of the school bus and I would have a pile of questions waiting for her only to be followed with a one word answer. I was feeling lost. My oldest child has a life of her own and doesn't want me to be part of it, I thought this only happened in the teen years.

I tried a few things. The younger two girls and I set up a tea party for when she came home in the late afternoon. We sat around drinking tea and eating a snack while we talked about anything but details of school. "What are you learning?", "Did you talk about any numbers or letters?", "What was your favorite part of the day?". These were all questions met with, "I can't remember".

We played a game of Zingo together hoping the time would lead to dialogue, but no luck there.

Dinner time. Not a chance. Not a story to be shared other than what kids got into trouble. So there we have it, out daughter at school and the only thing she is learning about is what kids to stay away from if she wants to stay out of trouble.

A few weeks later after story time and everyone is tucked into bed an idea popped into my head. If she could tell me stories about school, then I would lie in bed with her while she talked about her day. Amazing how fast her memory recovered. It is now her favorite part of our bedtime routine, and mine too. Sure I have fallen asleep since the stories are so long, but at least I'm getting a view into her day. I will have to clarify that not all of the stories are real, since she makes some up just to keep me in her bed, creative thinking gets some points, but it seems to be a big part of our quality time together at the end of the day. Last week she ended the discussion with, "tell me about your day at work". Wow, that is really desperate, and could easily put us both to sleep, but suddenly I realized where she gets her inability to remember the day, or realized there is little to talk about, or little worth talking about.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Maybe It's Not Work That I Love So Much

My husband pointed out this weekend and I have thought about endlessly ever since, that it really isn't the fact that I'm working that has lifted my cloudy fog, it's change. I am a change addict, if I can be bold enough to self diagnose my problem.

Work provided so much change for me over the years. I would work a year and a half to two years in one position, then they would give me a new job, so things never got old. I was in a constant state of change. As soon as I figured out how to do my job, they threw another one my way. I was always challenged.

Two and a half years home with the kids and I started getting a little stir crazy. Sure, I was constantly challenged, almost on an hourly basis, but it was starting to become obvious that I was never going to be able to master this job. It's the hardest one out there, at least with my kids it was. Although I image there are mom's out there that have it all figured out, but I'm not sure I need to meet them.

So for the change addict in my, my life at work is great. It's stirred things up for awhile. I've already figured out this new job (since it's what I did before I opted to stay at home), so I see it getting old fast, and that will be just in time for the eight month project to be over and I'll be back to Stuntmom, the stay at home Mom again.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

EcoMom Alliance

My friend Sally sent me the link to this website. The woman was interviewed on the lap top lunch website (see stuntmom laptop lunch article may 15, 2007) I'm going to commit to changing all of my lightbulbs by the end of the month.

10 First Steps for Sustaining the Planet- You can help stop global warming.

1. Change a light. If every household in America changed out just 5 light bulbs to energy efficient CFL's it would be equivalent to taking 8 million cars off the road.

2. Drive less. If we each drove just 10 mile less per week, it would save 20 billion pounds of CO2, and you'd find more time in your day.

3. Shop local, fair trade and organic. Most food travels an average of 1,200 miles before it reaches your table, so by walking down to your local farmer's market, you'll not only reduce fossil fuel waste, you might also reduce your own waist.

4. Use non toxic products for cleaning, bathing, even make-up and you'll protect the environment as well as reduce you and your family's risk of disease.

5. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Cutting down on garbage by just 10% can save 1,200 pounds of CO2 and you'll have less junk around the house!

6. Turn off and unplug electronic devices and you'll reduce your exposure to electromagnetic radiation, and save on energy and CO2 emissions. You can also start having dinner by candlelight, which your kids, and your partner, will love!

7. Re-think your laundry plan! A favorite of many EcoMoms. Doing less, using cold water and line drying when possible you can save over 500 pounds of CO2 and over $600 per year.

8. Check your tires. By keeping your tires properly inflated, you can improve your gas mileage by over 3% and save 20 pounds of CO2 per gallon not used.

9. Buy carbon offsets and reduce mom guilt, like the SUV you still have. Offsets are kind of like eating too many brownies one day and jogging extra the next. For more information you can visit Play more. This is my son Corbin's favorite (of course!). In today's world, we get so busy checking emails, running errands, taking our kids from school to soccer, or ballet, that we often forget to take the time to connect and play with the people we love . . . So do things that make you happy. It's all connected. Sustain your Self, Sustain Your Home and Sustain Your Planet. That's it. You're on your way to being an EcoMom!

Contact: 415.246.7691 and the EcoMom logo are registered trademarks 2007

Disney World Dreams

I was certain I would never take my three girls to Disney World until they were 100% certain of who they were. I didn't want Disney to turn them into princesses if they were destined to be tom boys. I was determined that they would always find a hike in the woods to be the highlight of their week, and not a thrill seeking ride or a hyped up trip to "make their dreams come true". But last night we returned from a four day trip to Disney World with little life changes.

The highlights were as follows:
Eden lost a tooth while in line for a ride. The tooth fairy was able to locate our hotel, so she made out like a bandit. A whole dollar for your first tooth! And she likes to tell the story that when my dad was a kid he only got 5 cents.

Eden fell out of bed and got a bloody nose, a fat lip and a scraped up face. It was a highlight since there was blood everywhere, including our princess nightgown that Grandma bought for the trip.

We got to ride endless buses too and from the hotel-airport-park. Everyone got their fill of buses and continued to find the school bus exciting the week we returned.

One thing I loved about the vacation was how kid friendly it was. I know, what was I to expect but when I think of eating out, I usually don't think of relaxation. At Disney World it was relaxing. I didn't have to pack a million toys and activities each day in effort to entertain them while out to eat. Disney did the entertaining for me during our meals. I didn't have to pack my own vegetables to eat out like I do at restaurants around home. Healthy food was served everywhere. Not to mention vegetarian options! I had a hummus sandwich with Broccoli slaw on whole wheat bread! All of the kids meals came with carrots and applesauce, unsweetened- what's not to love about the place? For background info-those that don't know, my in laws require us to eat out with them on a weekly basis, so we spend an unhealthy amount of time and money eating out with our kids. Good thing though, is that they really know how to behave in a restaurant- most of the time.

So would I go to Disney World again, you bet I would. There are no lines in September, which is all I remember about it as a kid, other than the "small world" ride. But I think I would wait a few more years. Our two youngest were much to young to keep up, let alone enjoy themselves for the whole day without a nap. It wasn't a cheap vacation by any stretch, but it was time well spent with the kids and in laws together.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I Love the School Bus

I love the school bus. I have to admit I felt a lot of guilt about letting my kindergartner ride the school bus since it seems like most of the "good" parents in my neighborhood wouldn't think of letting their precious little one's ride the bus. But I took on the issue with gusto this year. I really believed that if I claim to be the environmentalist that I am (or wish to be), then I better get my kid to ride the bus. Not only do I need to get my kid on the bus, but I need to get others to think the bus is a fine idea. Four weeks into the school year, I think it's been a success. My daughter and her friends have come to LOVE the bus experience, except on the hottest days of August and September when they were suffering in the thick heat of the bus without air conditioning.

My daughter, who is rather emotionally delicate, loves the bus as much as I do. She isn't verbally abused by the older kids on the bus, as some stories had led me to believe is the case with the youngest riders. She isn't left wandering aimlessly around her school trying to find her class and the best news is that this article from the NY Times is saying it's the best way to go on all sides of the debate. Check out the last part of the article that talks about walking pools instead of carpools. I love the idea of taking turns with your neighbors to make sure the kids make it to school together and in a supervised environment. Maybe getting her on the bus is brave in my eyes, but it's also the right decision. I am a good mom, right?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Working World

I'm back into the swing of working for a week and a half and oddly enough, it feels great to be back. Sure I have a lot of guilt when I'm experiencing breif periods of down time, but for the most part it's all good.

I really feel a big part of the success of it all is owed to our great nanny. She should have joined our family about 5 years ago. She is one of those people that sincerely loves kids. Or at least really understands how to interact with them. She treats them with respect and at the same time they already know that she can't be pushed around like their mom. They are happy to see her arrive in the morning and slightly sad to see her leave in the evening (usually I have to devote 100% of my attention to all of them when I arrive home, whether I worked for 2 hours or 8 hours) so they are only slightly distracted with her departure.

She doesn't clean during the day- and if you remember correctly, neither did I. But she does one thing differently that I never seemed to get down, she cleans up as the three of them move from room to room around the house to eat or play.

So at the end of the day I come home to a tidy house and a kitchen ready to cook in since for once the counter top isn't piled high with dishes, play dough, paints and what not. Let's not forget that I can now pop into the grocery store for one item needed to make dinner without bringing three hungry kids along. So in the week and a half, I've managed to start cooking again.

I'll keep you posted as I imagine not all days/weeks are going to go so smoothly, but the end of week one is complete and I'm giving it the thumbs up.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Super Natural Cooking

I have fallen in love with this cookbook Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson. It is full of beautiful photos and a million ways to cook whole grains. They are all so beautifully photographed that you can't help but want to eat better. And as my friend Tracy says, "it is designed for tomato haters". There are few, if any tomato recipes. I couldn't help myself, I had to buy one for a friend just to get the free shipping from Amazon. Go figure.

I just tried this recipe and found it healthy (so it wasn't too popular at our house) but a few friends, and my wonderful nanny found it great. I made a few changes, like I always do, so here it is.

Wheat Berry Salad

2 cups wheat berries, rinsed
6 cups water
2 tsp fine grain sea salt (I would use less next time)

Grated zest and juice of one orange
1 Tbsp of lemon juice
1 Tbsp minced shallot
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil ( I split it up and put half flax seed oil)
fine grain sea salt and pepper
3 large handfuls of spinach
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 crumbled feta cheese

Combine wheat berries and salt and water in a large pan and cook for over an hour (you must taste them to determine if they are finished) I cooked them in a rice cooker so I could forget about them. Drain and season with salt if desired

combine the orange juice, zest and lemon juice, shallot and oils, salt and pepper

Toss the hot wheat berries with the spinach, pine nuts, and dressing. Top with feta

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Gossip Hangover

Guest Editorial from Karen

I just had a great night out with a couple of friends. What is it, though, about sitting around for a couple of hours in a restaurant, that degrades the filter between what I'm thinking and what I'm saying? The good part of this is that it raises my awareness of the kinds of thoughts I've been having -- clearly a few thoughts in there that, when spoken aloud, have the potential to give me a gossip hangover. Mostly these are thoughts about people that I feel have wronged me in some way and children that I feel have wronged my children in some way. And like alcohol, which I used to drink a lot of, and now drink a little of, I used to gossip a lot, and now do it a little. So, I think I notice the effects more of how it makes me feel.

During my weeks as a single mom, outside of work, I talk mainly to my children, so I don't tend to talk about things that induce a gossip hangover. We talk about the ways we like to interact with the world, how to make good in the world, and how to turn "bad" into "good." If someone does something to one of my kids that he doesn't like, I believe it's my job to help my child make good choices on how to respond, and not to try to control the other kid. Each of us, from kids to grown ups, get to make our own choices and unkind choices have their own effect on the person making them. Celie in "The Color Purple" says to Albert, "Everything you done to me, already been done to you." There's a lot we don't control in the world around us (i.e. if someone hits us or yells at us), but we always get to choose how we react to what people "done" to us.

I've also been noticing how we can create the world that we interact with. The more positive I put out there, the more positive I feel coming back. I've read, and believe, that when you're planning to do something like improve your eating habits, it's best not to tell a bunch of people about it, but instead just to do it. So, I'm a little hesitant to form a public intention, and yet, I'm thinking it might help me accomplish this if others know what I'm working on. Here it is --

I believe that:
-Bringing my judgments of people's actions into a discussion produces no positive outcome
-I can function and act entirely independently of the actions of others, if I don't like what they are doing, and that this is a better solution than bitching about them
-Acting on what is true for us, and being open to what others have to offer, is the best way to bring positive energy into the world
-My truths are only my truths and not The Truth
-It takes more energy to reject what someone is doing than to accept it.

Based on these beliefs, I intend to release judgments that come into my head, rather than seek validation for them from myself and others. Before speaking, I would like my words to meet at least two of the three criteria: "Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?"

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The End of Stuntmom?

I know, so dramatic. I've been tossing this article around in my head for days now trying to figure out how to approach this subject, but I wasn't sure. However, I am 100% sure things are changing. I'm still planning to write, but I think my readers need to know one thing--I'm going back to work. I've managed to work out the details with my past employer, and I will be returning to work next week.

Why, when I love the stay at home life? I love my kids endlessly and want to see them as much as possible. It's a funny question that I'll do my best to explain. These last three weeks have been by far the hardest for me in my two years at home. I spent two of these weeks in Maine visiting my family without my husband since he was working. Wow, I can't imagine being a truly single mom, with no help.

When I came back from vacation, the baby was sick, and the two older girls were endlessly fighting (possibly not feeling that great either). My oldest daughter started kindergarten, attended for two days, and then school was canceled for the next two due to heat. We were stuck in the hottest, driest days ever in the history of Ohio (or at least the history that I can remember; you have to trust I know the weather.)

I would call this third week "rock bottom". I was in such a bad place in my head everyday and nothing seemed to help me out of it. I didn't feel like taking care of the kids, the house and certainly not the dogs. The thought of making one more PB&J just made me want to run back to bed. I don't know why, but suddenly I just didn't want to do this anymore. Maybe it had to do with some of my friends who were going back to work after some time off or I was becoming distanced from friends that I was hanging out with--but something in my head was changing. I couldn't explain it to my husband--sure I was on vacation for two weeks in nice cool weather, but really I need a week without changing a diaper, not getting endless glasses of milk, not having little ones constantly asking "MOMMY, HELP, I NEED THIS NOW." I had this need to leave everything and go live alone for a week or two just to clear my head.

Then I got an email from my previous employer with a job offer on the Friday morning of my worst week ever--such amazing timing. (I should mention that every time a head hunter would call over the past two years, I would ask them to keep my number on file--it gave me a certain amount of security knowing there were still people out there that thought I was employable.) The job I got an email about was tempting. I called them up after looking into how easily I could get a nanny. I called the office and spoke to my potential new boss so I would have all of the details to present to my husband over the weekend. I admitted to them that he was going to be the hardest sell of all. (Please keep in mind our deal has been if I wanted more than two babies, then one of us needed to quit our job. When I was pregnant with number three, I quit my job.)

Michael easily agreed to my going back to work. I'm not sure if it was because I was in such a bad place and he understood I was quickly falling apart? Or that he too thought it was just such a great offer, how could anyone turn it down? He agreed on a few conditions. One being that we hire people to help us out. I agreed to hire a cleaning lady to do the work that I very seldom ever did anyway. I also agreed to hire a nanny. No early morning daycare drop off. No arguing over who's job is more important, my main job will still be managing the house, but now I get to leave it for part of the week.

So, I'm going back to work and I couldn't ask for a better deal. I still get to work out of my house with an occasional trip into the office or down to the customer. I will still have the summer off, since it's a temporary position, I'm going to be working on a specific project that will end around the same time as school. Once the project is done, then I'm done. Also, I get to set my own hours.

I'm really embracing this change. It will give me an opportunity to take a break from my kids. I know I will really miss them for the hours I'm out of the house. It will also give me a chance to appreciate them again. It's sad to say, but once I accepted the job, I started being a better Mom again. A light switch went off and I started to really want to spend quality time with them again. I know I was taking them for granted, so I feel it couldn't have worked out better.

Suddenly I'm grateful to be a mom again. Does any of this makes sense? Am I crazy and just need a good counselor? I know I should be happy that I don't have to work, but I think this is just the thing that is going to make me a better mother.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

You Need a Phone

You Need a Phone by Karen Marsh

I just got off the phone with my soon-to-be-ex-husband. I’m in my office, where I have a phone. During the weeks that my husband takes care of the kids, I stay in a condo and do not have a phone there. I don’t have a cell phone either. My friends have stopped saying, “You need a phone.” My husband has not.

What gave rise to this particular assertion that I “need” a phone was an issue related to one of the kids that he would have liked to have heard about last night. Instead, I told him about it this morning. He feels that he might have done things differently this morning had he known the information last night. Hence, “Karen, you NEED a phone!!!”

Well, do you know what? I DON’T need a phone. And there are a lot more factors playing into the fact that my husband did not have the information he wanted when he wanted it than simply the fact that I don’t have a phone. Take for example the fact that he is choosing to exit our marriage. Yes, I think that probably has an effect on our level of communication. And I’m not telling him that he should stay in the marriage. It’s about personal choice. One of the beautiful things about dissolving a marriage is realizing that you are not “in the orbit” of the other person. I like the freedom of not having a phone some of the time. I also like being 100% present with my kids when I am with them and basing my decisions on my interactions with them. I have not yet felt that my abilities to parent them were compromised by the fact that I could not get information from someone else on the phone. Also, I actually don’t think that being slightly compromised is always a bad thing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Waiting by Tracy Houston-Smith

Guest Editorial by Tracy Houston-Smith

As a first time contributor, I will introduce myself as a working mom (teacher, so kind of best of both worlds) with one almost 6 year old daughter. We are trying to adopt a second child, but feeling the sucking, festering melancholy of THE WAITING. We waited 3 years while trying to conceive a second child on our own and with fertility treatments. We waited while we decided if fostering or adoption was right for us. We waited for our home study from the adoption agency to be completed, and now we are waiting for the phone call that will tell us someone has picked us to be the parents of their child.

There is no 'nine months' here. There is no known time-frame, nobody telling you that your due date is their second cousins' birthday. We have no idea when to get a baby's room together and set up that crib. There's no shopping for that one little baby item that you pick up as a secret treat when you're sure of a pregnancy (mostly - are you ever completely secure?) We have nothing ready, nothing done, and nothing bought. What would we do? Set up a nursery and have it sit expectantly in a little sequestered room like part of Mrs. Haversham's house? For how long? 3months? 3 years?

I see families with more than one child and I see complete families. In my mind, I am in the limbo of waiting for my complete family. I love my daughter very much, but I have always felt like there was a person missing in our family. It's not so much that we are waiting for a new arrival, but that we are waiting for the missing person, the one that's supposed to be here. It's very hard to wait for that. There aren't many other people I have run into that can commiserate with The Waiting, who can give me tips for how to get through it. I apparently know a disproportionate amount of very lucky people. How long did you have to wait, I would ask - Oh, six weeks. Seriously.

The hardest part about The Waiting is the uncertainty. Or rather the certainty that it may not happen at all. That we could wait and wait, and never get that phone call, that no one will choose us. Part of me has already prepared for that. In fact, in my mind I have already set my deadline (my daughter's seventh birthday) at which point I will give up The Waiting and go back to just being. Just being the family of three. Just being the mother of a daughter who will have no brother or sister to share all her family complaints with ("do you remember when mom and dad made us...took us to...embarrassed us..."). I suppose that's the most depressing part, that we're waiting, but all the things we're waiting for aren't certain to happen and that person we've been waiting for may never come to our house.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Our Road Trip Begins

This Saturday morning we will be leaving for the 18.5 hour drive to Maine. It's a great time to be leaving Cincinnati since we are experiencing typical August heat- Mid 90's, humid, feels like 100F.

I won't have much time to write while on vacation -Michael is driving us out and then flying back since he doesn't have endless time off from work like myself. So please feel free to submit any articles while I'm out. Send them to Any and all content is appreciated.

If you don't have time to write but want to read, check out my sister Heather and her husband Todd's blog of their three week road trip with three young boys riding happily in the back of the station wagon. It's a great blog with excellent writing. Worth checking out especially if you tire of my "interesting punctuation and spelling".

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Columbus Zoo

With rain in the forecast, umbrellas in the trunk and enough food to get us through a long day, the girls and I, along with another family of three, piled into our minivan for the two hour drive to Columbus.

"Is our Cincinnati Zoo not good enough for you?", I was asked by a friend. Of course it is, but having gone there every week for the last two years, I needed a change. I needed to see something new more than my kids did. I needed to leave behind the messy house and typical places we have been going all summer.

I have to report back, it was worth the drive. The girls walked for eight hour straight looking at all of the new sights. We did sit down to eat for about 10 minutes, and took a boat ride that was maybe another ten minutes of relaxation. The new playgrounds were as exciting as one can imagine in a young child's mind. Not to mention the excitement of just taking a road trip. I'm certain they enjoyed the new variety of animals too, or at least I think they did.

The best part- I'm certain you are thinking it would be the two hour drive home in peace and quiet, but it wasn't. The kids talked to their friend in the back, and looked out the window while listening to music (no fighting). They stayed awake for the whole ride home -including the baby. We got home well past bedtime, took a quick bath, then their heads hit the pillows hard. So now you are thinking that they slept until 10:00am. But this is not the case either. They still woke up at the usual 7:00 am, but the long nap the next day from all three was what made it worth while. They slept for 4 hours in the afternoon which was what I found to be the greatest reward.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Chart of Praise

This is my second serious attempt at getting our kids to remember the simple things they need to do everyday. Our first attempt ended with a complete lack of wanting a reward such as a sticker, to misplacing the chart and never mentioning it again, until the recreation about two months ago.

We drew the charts together with paper color choices selected by the girls. Our charts are nothing fancy or special, they are just charts that we have hanging in the kitchen next to a pile of tiny stickers. The jobs are pictures that I drew, so they know what the tasks are. Once they learn to read, if we are still doing the charts, then I imagine I will write the words.

Moments after breakfast the older girls, age three and five race to the charts to see what jobs they have yet to do for the morning:

  • Dressed themselves?
  • Fork and spoon for their meals?
  • Brush their teeth? This usually ends the chart review with a rush to the bathroom to check off another box.
  • Pick up their toys? This line remains almost empty. Don't ask why, but they would rather do anything than pick up toys.
  • Go a day without hitting anyone? (Found only on the three year old chart and the line is almost empty with the hitting phase stopped shortly after the chart into so there is a lack of interest)
  • Potty by themselves? (Again found only on the three year olds' chart since the five year old has been using the potty unassisted for a few years)
  • Bed's made?
  • Dog's fed?

Amazing how just a simple piece of paper and a little time has changed our lives for the better. The girls love being responsible and nothing can beat stickers! Friends have asked if they get anything when the chart is done and originally it was never mentioned, but with the suggestion from others, they now get their own sticker book when it's too full. We'll see if they remember that since it is not the motivating factor at all. They just love to see the lines fill up.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sicko -in Theaters Today!

Michael Moore's new movie is at theaters now! Playing at the Esquire theater Support your local independent theater, and see something that will make you think.

check out the Michael Moore website for all of your political news

And of course, Michael Moore for President!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Post Vacation Blues

This is our first week back from a relaxing sunny week at the beach with all of my sisters, our husbands, kids and my parents. Sound like a nightmare? Well oddly enough it was great. It goes back to the good old Hillary Clinton phrase of "It takes a village". It was wonderful having all of these adults and kids around to play endlessly day and night. It made me think back to a time when life was probably much more like a week at the beach at any given street in any town.

It seemed as though I did little childcare for the week since our main goal was to make it to the beach everyday, which usually happened before 9:00am. Once at the beach the kids played endlessly in the sand with the cousins. Gone are the days of reading on the beach, but I found life relaxing enough just sitting on the beach talking to the other adults around, which was usually at least one or two sisters that I needed to catch up with the latest in their lives.

Today is the first day I was able to snap out the of the post vacation blues since I sat around chatting with a few friends as our kids played in the backyard together for 4 hours. No fighting, wining or constant interruptions, just playing and playing. I feel as though it was a day at the beach since I wasn't the sole person in charge of entertaining my kids. For some reason returning from the beach with so many people around constantly for a week left me feeling isolated for the first time since I've been staying home with my girls. I need to remember the importance of getting together with the other mom's that stay home in effort to make this a good experience for us all.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Follow Through With Your Plans!

Guest Editorial from Karen

If 99% of life is just showing up, then why do so many people cancel? I think that contagious illness or severe physical/mental discomfort are good reasons to cancel plans. (Mental discomfort is a tricky one because sometimes going through with plans can actually make you feel better, but I also want to recognize that a really bad mental state can be as bad as a really bad physical state). Beyond those, are there good reasons to cancel? Plans that have been made are an open door to the world beyond yourself and your own household. If you made the plans in the first place, why don't you trust the self that made them that the plans are worth your time? And let's not forget the other person/people involved in the plans. Now that I am living a divorced lifestyle, I am much more appreciative of plans. I make more plans than I used to and as such, I have more people cancel out of plans than I used to. Now, some readers might suggest that I should take this personally. If so, I disagree. I think that in this modern day culture that is increasing more supportive of our daily whims and "needs," we often put the plans we make on a second tier and what will make our lives easiest on a first tier. Why not just accept whatever is laid out before you (including plans you have made) as just as easy in the current moment?

My bookclub just finished a book called the "Book Thief." In it, there was a wonderful character named Hans Huberman. He was a solid individual who was always there for the people who needed him. That might mean staying up into the wee hours reading to a little girl and being bone tired the next day. Or painting someone's house for a glass of champagne. I was inspired by this character because he wasn't consciously selfless, but it was just a way of life for him. If someone had invited him to dinner, I just know he would be there.

Yes, I have canceled plans before. My intention is not to do so in the future. I think I do believe that 99% of life is just showing up.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Should You Work or Stay at Home with Your Children?

A pregnant friend and her daughters came over this morning for conversation and coffee. She currently is a mother or two and teaches full time during the school year. She was looking to me for advice to see if she thought staying at home would be a good fit for her based on my experiences. (She doesn't know many Moms that stay home, or at least not yet) She is trying to gather up as much information about the decision before she needs to make the call, which I can remember doing only two years ago.

Of course, having been in sales, I'm always pointing out the benefits and neglecting the downfalls, especially when I imagine sitting around having great conversations with friends like her on a weekly/daily basis. Sure, why wouldn't I want all of my friends to stay home? Would there be anything better? So after she left I started really thinking. Is staying at home really the best for everyone? Of course not!

My friend pointed out that it would be hard not to be making money from a mental standpoint. I countered with, "well, I do my share around here and my day is not over at 6:oo pm or on the weekends". Then she said, "but I feel like all of my time would be spent cleaning and picking up after the kids". But then in reality, I said, "yes, I thought that way at first too, but then soon realized there is more to life than having a clean house". So we went back and forth about the realities and whether it would really work for her. After she left, I realized one of the most important factors in staying home is having a spouse that supports the idea 100%. This is the big difference I have found in many "stay at home" families. My husband wouldn't want it any other way, at least at this point in our lives. Sure, when they are in school, I will go back to doing something to generate income but until that time comes, I will just love being with my kids as long as possible and hopefully my husband will continue to appreciate the job I do here too.

So before quitting your job, I would work out a list of expectations from the working partner. My mom was expected to have a clean house and a home cooked meal nightly, or at least this is what my mom thought was expected, whether it was her doing or my Dad's. If this is what is expected, then by all means stay at work, it could save your marriage in the long run, especially if you are like myself and almost love the chaos from a messy house. There is no right or wrong answer about staying at home, but there are a few significant issues to work out before leaving your job/career.

Let's not forget the obvious- decide if you can afford it. I'm not talking about "affording" meaning whether you can still have your back yard pool built if you quit your job, I'm talking about paying for food, clothes, shelter. Are you fine with changing your lifestyle to a simple one? Less consuming, more experiencing. If you are going to be arguing about money nonstop once you are down to one income, then maybe no one is gaining anything from being at home.

Does your career really define who you are? I struggled with this one for about a year after I quit my job. I felt I always needed to have people understand that I was once a corporate woman with an "important" career. Now I would say it's the last thing that I offer up about myself. I now know that I need to find meaning in my life since that is what I want to teach my children. It's not how much you make in this lifetime, it's how you spend your time. I know, how cliche, Let's make this world a better place, not buy a better life. Could I teach my kids this if I was trying to make money a priority over them? I do understand the majority of people need two incomes just to survive, but we did not. So if anything, I'm teaching my kids what is important.

There is no right or wrong answer about staying home, but I do think having support from your spouse must be the number one determining factor. I get the feeling if my husband envied or was jealous about my life staying at home, then I would have a completely different experience. It wouldn't be enjoyable at the end of the day to tell him how much fun we had at the zoo or the pool, which is why we are eating spagetti for the third day in a row (sauce from a jar too). So before quitting your job, make a list of everyting that your partner expects- I know if Michael stayed home I would be much more demanding than he is of me, so most likely it wouldn't work out, that is without a load of personality counceling on my part. So good luck making the decision if you are lucky enough to be contemplating a stay at home life with kids.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Living Simply with Children

The Clifton Library in Cincinnati has an amazing children's librarian. Story time is Tuesday at 10:00. Mr. Eric brings his guitar and sings lots of tunes that we know and love, and has also created some of his own songs from the lyrics in books. One of my favorite things about the library is not just story time, but his excellent choice in books.

Usually when we go to the library to pick out books, the girls select them from the shelves below, and I usually take what he has on display since I'm seldom disappointed. One books he had on display a few weeks ago is, "Living Simply with Children" by Marie Sherlock. It's a book, about living simply with children, obviously, but it's so much more than that. I keep marking the pages with ideas that might be obvious to a simply living family, but it's not so obvious to me. One thought that is sticking in my mind is giving your children an earth friendly explanation for things we do. I have my kids now saying, "we don't need a bag for the fruit or Band aids, we can carry them". Yet I haven't given them the reason why. They know not to use a gob of toilet paper, but do they know why? I need to explain in more detail as they are getting older that all of these things are done to save the earth, not to be miserly.

Medium Image

Check out this book, not only is it a good read, but the list of resources is reason to have the book on hand.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Being Bill McCarthy

About eight years ago I met tall, bald, funny, thick Boston accented Bill McCarthy and his wife Deb. I'm not quite sure how I met him, I think it was through a friend that invited me out on a bike ride. Before I knew it, I was riding my newly purchased bike across Iowa a couple of times and then riding my bike through the rocky mountains doing an organized ride called Ride the Rockies. For some reason when Bill was around I found that I was never at home. He was this amazing organizer. The moment I was sitting around trying to figure out what to do with my weekends, Bill would call up and say, "come on over for some Margarita's or a barbecue". As all good things must come to an end, Bill and his wife along with their two kids moved back to Boston. It took me about a year to realize they were gone. When they moved away I was busy being a new mother, possibly suffering from Postpartum Depression, never wanting to do anything.

Without trying to sound mellow dramatic, Bill has been back in Boston now for a few years and it just now seems like I'm finally trying to pick up where Bill left off. Many weekends would come and go and my husband and I would find that we didn't do much of anything. Sure, we would clean the house a little, maybe go out to eat, but very seldom would we do anything fun. The weekends dragged along. What I mean by fun was friend filled Bill McCarthy fun. Bill McCarthy fun also usually included his kids and lots of interesting friends. When he lived here his two boys were young and most of the time they too were in tow. (For our backpacking trip, they did stay home with Deb)

Memorial Day weekend started my quest to have Bill McCarthy fun. We had a last minute BBQ where Michael called all of his friends that knew his old business partner Ed- since Ed was intown for the long weekend, and all through the evening and night friends called up saying "I'm on my way over". We also invited friends that didn't know anyone, and soon they were enjoying the new conversations and unique people. We kept bringing out tables and chairs, the more people arrived. What made this party so fun was that we didn't expect anything. No planning went into it. I did very little cooking and no cleaning. We just ate what people brought, drank what was available and the last people stayed until 2:30am. Even the kids had a great time staying up long past their bedtime and playing with the one guy there that loved to play games with kids. I have to add, my oldest daughter wet her pants twice laughing so hard. She just didn't understand how that could happen since she has been potty trained for 3 years now.

Memorial day we went to two other parties where there were lots of couples with kids and the girls played until we brought them home completely exhausted and dirty from a day outside.

This past weekend we took all three girls camping and invited three other families with kids. It rained for the majority of the trip, but it was still great fun being outside with good friends, old and new. In two weeks, we are all getting together again to try it at another venue.

This weekend we are celebrating my daughter's third birthday with friends and family. We are attending the Gay pride parade with friends- my kids love parades, then heading off to a free concert supporting a local building they are turning into an art center called the Clifton Cultural Arts Center.

When I look back on my life I have always befriended people that make plans for me. I'm not sure I ever let them know how grateful I was for this. But if anything, it's time I started making plans for myself and my friends. I'm not sure what I was afraid of, but I'm finding it's pretty easy, it just takes a little self motivation. I think I lived in fear of people not having fun then blaming me. But really, people are just happy to have someone making plans and being included or at least this is my theory. If we can have 15 people camping in the rain and I'm the only one unhappy (temporarily) about it, then it's a plan that worked. Bill, although not a reader of Stuntmom, thanks for giving me the inspiration to plan friend filled events.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bottled Water Says "I Hate the Environment as Much as SUV's"

Nothing drives me crazier than the bottled water phenomenon. Why do we need to fill landfills with plastic when it comes from our taps, and most of the time it's filtered there too? But this article gives me hope that it could be coming to an end. If restaurants in California are catching on, then maybe it will hit the Midwest in 7 years too. Check out this article from the New York Times.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Getting My Kids to Eat

It's summer time and it means that the girls and I will be eating out on a picnic blanket a lot over the next few months. We will leave the pool with hungry bellies, so I am inspired again to get them to eat new things when they are desperately hungry without other options around.

This New York Times article inspired me since it seems like we have fallen into the kiddie menu. This summer I'm hoping back onto the "kids eat what the adults eat, or they can just be hungry" mentality. Read the article, it's great to know restaurants are starting to realize we would eat out more often if the kids had options other than mac and cheese, grilled cheese and chicken chunks. I couldn't help but copy what one reader wrote in response to the article, since he does have a point. Most of what I ate growing up was total 70's crap-tastic food.

Oh come on! The author ate what her parents ate- that proves this young
generation is going to pot. What a lot of hooey. I suppose if I too grew up in the upper echelons or in NYC, we’d have eaten out too. But growing up in the 70s, with four kids and a station wagon, we didn’t even DO restaurants. And we ate crap food at home: hamburger stew, mac and cheese, meat and potatoes. Inexpensive and something both kids and adults would eat. Where do you think ‘comfort food’ came from?
And not surprisingly, the 70s children grew into
anorexic children of the late 70s and early 80s, and many are now fat adults
that eat frozen meals from the grocer.

My point? There is nothing inherently wrong with ‘today’s generation’ and just because you got to travel Europe and eat Julia Child food hardly means the current generation of kids is somehow uniquely impoverished because they can eat out and have chicken strips. With some many pressing issues of the day regarding children of the world: child labour and exploitation, poverty, AIDS, and starvation and the best you could come up with is a rant against chicken strips in NYC restaurants!?

posted by Adios Amigos

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ice Cream

My husband and I don't always agree. Shocking to know that, right? It's usually the little things that we don't always see "eye to eye". Sunday evening after dinner we took the girls, and ourselves on a nice leisurely walk out for ice cream. It's something we do every few months, so it's a very exciting event since it's out of the ordinary. So this past Sunday we were sitting at the ice cream parlor eating our cones and my oldest daughter dropped her half eaten cone on the floor. She immediately looked at me waiting for me to say "hey, this floor is clean, carry on with eating, not a big deal". But I didn't. It wasn't even an option. She was so upset and the verge of tears so I offered her my cone since I had the cone filled ice cream left in mine. But due to our flavor differences, it wasn't even an option for her. She was not about to have fruit in her ice cream no matter how desperate the situation. I mentioned the idea of a replacement cone. I said that I was certain it happens all of the time and I'm sure the kid behind the counter could make us a new one without charging us. Michael, my husband was appalled. He said it was a lesson of life. Kids need to be more careful and how will the learn if their cones are just going to be fixed by parents throughout life? I'm paraphrasing of course, but it was something like that. So I suggested a compromise of having my daughter, who is five now, ask the kid scooping if they make replacement cones for kids. She did end up asking in a quiet and polite voice, that he couldn't help but get her another cone. Don't worry, I did ask him to make the ice cream slightly peaking out of the cone since that is how far along she was.

So my question is, "is it ethical to ask for a new cone"? Am I babying my kids too much that they won't even be able to hold down a job one day? Should she have to sit there while we all finish our icecream and reflect how things could so easily have gone differently had she been more careful?

Friday, May 18, 2007

An Affirmation

Guest Editorial from Karen

If you're ever feeling low, see if these words are helpful:

I am what I am right now. Those around me are what they are right now. Discontent with what I am, or with others, does not change what is causing my discontent -- it only creates discord in me. Even feeling bad can be embraced -- it's just a feeling. Peace within me comes from creating resonance within me in response to everything that life presents to me. This includes my own thoughts. When all else fails, laughing at my flaws and weaknesses can lift the burden of the perceived importance of self.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Getting Through Divorce

Guest Editorial from Karen

I must say that tonight I am thinking, "thank goodness for the Internet." I both found some great support just by Googling "getting through divorce" and I'm able to air my thoughts, too. Today, a friend and I were wondering if someone had documented classic post-marital-breakup emotional stages, and sure enough, the first article that I pulled up did a great job of doing just that. A couple of excerpts:

The adjustment period after divorce trauma (whether you are the "leaver" or the "leavee") is between two and five years, depending somewhat on the amount of pre-grieving you've experienced. Some people begin the emotional journey when they realize the marriage is dead -- sometimes well before they mention the word "divorce" to their spouse.If you're in the early stages, you're probably wondering what to expect -- and how to accelerate (or even bypass) the painful stages to reach the place where you feel whole and happy again. Unfortunately, recovery from divorce is not an express elevator from the basement of grief to the penthouse of joy. It's more like a maze: you go forward a bit, become confused, find the way forward again, hit a wall, retrace your steps, find a new way forward, realize you took the wrong turn and back-track again. Like wandering through a hall of mirrors, you confront yourself -- or what looks like yourself -- around every corner.

The first year is characterized by numbness, denial, relief, acute periods of pain, and back to numbness again. This is the divorce roller coaster, which includes periods of euphoria ("how nice to be rid of that louse!") followed by deep lows ("oh my God: she's really gone!"). During the first year, you may sometimes feel like a robot going through the motions of living without really participating in your own life, or like an unwilling passenger on a wild roller coaster ride.

The whole article is at this link.

Another great article is on gratitude in divorce. Here is an excerpt:

During my marriage I learned and experienced at least 100 things that have contributed to my life. When I breathe them in and honor my life by honoring my experiences, I bask in the joy of emotional freedom. My list of the gifts of my marriage looks like this:
I have the child I always wanted.
I moved to beautiful La Jolla, California.
I get to be a parent to Beau.
My sister moved to La Jolla to be close to us.
I began working with Deepak Chopra.
I developed the Shadow Process.
My ex-husband paid off my school loans.
I was able to experience having a family of my own.
My parents moved to La Jolla to be near Arielle, Beau, and me.
I received enough money to stay home and write my first book.
I had the privilege of being the daughter-in-law of Bernice and Marty.
I've learned how to look at life through the eyes of another.
I learned that you don't have to go to Harvard to be brilliant.
I've learned how to share and include others in my life even if I disagree with them.
I've become more thoughtful in my words.
I received the inspiration for my second book.
I've learned to not verbalize every thought I might be having.
I've had the profound experience of seeing how others change as I change.
I learned that I could make it on my own with a child.
I'm learning how to be a good mother.
I've learned that co-parenting can be a joy.
I've learned that in conflict I need to keep the attention on myself.
I had the wedding I always dreamed of.
I've learned to ask for what I need.

How can I resent a man who has given me so many gifts?

Lastly, I ran across the following fantastic tip in another article. How ready I was to start making a new life out of new changes, but now I realize it is wise to:

Delay major changes
Who you are today is not who you will be tomorrow or in a year from now. Fears will be resolved. Don't dismay if one day you feel confident and strong, the next ragged and worn out. Delay any major changes for six months. In a separation, when your self-esteem may be low or your anger may seek revenge, this especially means great caution with the opposite sex. Dr. Joy Browne best explains rebounding in "Dating for Dummies" where she advises waiting at least a year to date. I loved her line: "Hang out with friends, large groups, small countries." She's right. You can meet your social needs without risking heartache.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Laptop Lunches

For those of us with kids starting school in the fall, and those of us that are freakishly concerned about nutrition in the cafeteria, check out this site. The website makes me hungry.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Organization Help?

I know this is a funny post coming from me, but my neighbor is a professional organizer. She is amazing. Every single time I've been to her house, not a thing is out of order. A great example for myself. Oddly enough, every time she has been in my house she has said "You know, I organize professionally, don't you"?

I thrive on the mess and disorder, but for those of you that don't....



Does it take you a long time to find things?

Are your closets so full your clothes are wrinkled?

Do you miss important dates because you lost the invitation?

Are you usually late for appointments?

Call her- Edy Allen, she will change your life, that is, if you are looking for a change.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Lovely Day For a Hike

On occasion being a stay at home mom gets to me. I get tired of the potty accidents, the spilled food, the constant fighting, the endless sink full of dishes, the house that is never clean.... and the list goes on. Then the weather changes. Life is suddenly so amazing. We have been blessed with the most incredible days these last few weeks. The sun is shining, the air is warm and lacking humidity, our windows are open and the rain comes in the evenings or for only a few minutes- it's impossible to be inside.

The girls and I have been able to take full advantage of these days by going on daily nature hikes. This is the reason I wanted to stay home. To teach my kids to love the outdoors. We start off the day with a quick read of the paper, by just me, interrupted frequently of course. Then we head outside. Now that I have a five year old who is strong enough to manage one of the dogs, the three of us have been hiking everyday, with the two dogs. One dog goes off leash, one on leash, held by my oldest daughter. I hold the hand of my soon to be three year old, and the baby is in the backpack. All is wonderful. We hike for a little over an hour each day, and suddenly there is the absence of all fights, and other things that can get us down over the course of the morning. Today we mixed things up a little, we went to story time at the arts and crafts library in Corryville, Wednesdays at 10:30am, and went hiking in the evening- all to end our day with a picnic dinner at the park with some friends and their dogs.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Breaking a Habit

Doesn’t it feel great to do something different than whatever you tend to do by habit? And you know when you’ve done it, too. Some of the habits that we have are clear for all to observe, if they happen to be watching – smoking, drinking, watching tv, etc. Others, only those closest to us know about. Still others might only be known to ourselves. We are definitely more intimately involved with our own habits than anyone else is. And they fit our psyche so very comfortably. Mental patterns and actions that others wouldn’t even want to try on, and to which they would definitely never create feelings of attachment. But it goes both ways – their habits wouldn’t suit us either. Just because a habit suits you doesn’t mean it’s a keeper, though. I think that even so-called “good” habits are worth shedding once in awhile. I think it’s like dropping a piece of luggage – it can make you feel a little lighter.

Monday, April 30, 2007


Have you heard of the 10-10-10 guideline for making decisions? I just read about it in O magazine and it's stuck in my mind long enough to make me think it's worth sharing. Even while we're living in the current moment, enjoying the power of now and all that, we do need to make decisions that have longer term ramifications (or, as the folks in my yoga teacher training course would say, that generate good or bad karma). So, how do you know your making a good decision or taking a right action? Well, according to the author of the article that I read, you apply a 10-10-10 guideline and ask yourself how this action/decision is likely to play into the next 10 minutes, 10 hours and 10 years (I would add 10 weeks and 10 months, just because 10 years seems like an awfully long way away. I would also do a second round of questioning, adding on to the question "if I were to make this action/decision repeatedly"). So, for example, you may want to figure out if you should leave work on time despite a work crisis, so that you can make it to your child's ballet recital. How will each possible decision affect the next 10 minutes, hours, weeks, months and years? (Now try adding "if I were to make this action/decision repeatedly," just so you're ready to recognize a pattern if a similar decision-making process pops up again). Or, you want to figure out if you should stay home with your kids rather than work in the office at all. It's a nice reminder that at each of those slices at the 10 mark, things external to you are likely to be radically different. Some things that seem important now will have lost meaning at those milestones. Your action now can start to pitch things in one direction or another. We tend to succumb to what will serve us best in the next 10 minutes, but especially once you get into your late thirties, I think 10 minutes of self-serving gratitude tends to look pretty worthless if it is likely to compromise what happens around you in the next 10 hours or even weeks. Posture is another great example. If you slouch now, how is that likely to affect the next 10 minutes, hours, weeks, etc.? If you slouch repeatedly, how is that likely to affect the next 10 weeks, months, years? At your core, be the woman you would like to be in 10, 10, 10 and 10, and you will become that.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shattered Plates

My first "career" out of college was a job sculpting at an art restoration company. Loved the job, the people and the art, but the money was hardly enough to survive, but that is besides the point (back to Jayne's theory of the demise of the creative class) One of the most interesting pieces that I remember working on was a Plaster of Paris circle with a child size hand print in the center. We all have one, or have made one in our lives, right? So why was this so interesting? It wasn't the work of art so much as the attachment the woman had to it that I just didn't understand. Why was this woman spending hundreds of dollars to get a piece of junk repaired? So often people would come in and before leaving their art they would ask if it was worth more than they were spending on the restoration. This woman didn't ask and she didn't need to, obviously she must not know what to do with her money is all I could think of while I was was gluing it all together and filling in the missing plaster with new. I was fixated on this woman. Clearly her son that made it must have died, that has got to be it. He could no longer make another hand print. But it wasn't. He was alive and in college.

A few weeks ago I realized I had become this woman. My kids and I spend hours doing art projects together, it's something that I love - explains why tonight at 10pm I was still cleaning paper mache glue off the kitchen walls and floor.

A few years ago I took the girls to a paint your own pottery studio and had them paint plates to their young specifications, which is to use as many colors available in the shop, which we were discouraged against since the people working there think brown is a tragedy. The girls finished up with a wonderful hand print in the center of each plate. The plates were so beautiful that we used them daily. But one day our little baby learned to take dishes out of the bottom rack of the dishwasher and the first one she grabbed and threw to the floor was my treasured hand print plate painted by my oldest daughter. I was devastated. It was at this moment that I finally understood the "crazy lady" that had her child's hand print restored for gobs of money. They are little for such a short time that we really need to hang onto these little treasures that they create. It took me a few hours or maybe days to realize that my memories of painting together are so much more valuable than the end product. I really have been able to get over the plate- although I can't throw away the pieces just yet. So who knows, maybe someday some new college grad is going to think the same of me, but just think how it will all change when she has her first child, or maybe not.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Birthday Parties

It's birthday season at our house. They start April 29th and continue through June 9th. When I was growing up my parents didn't do birthday parties, just a cake and presents, and I never felt deprived that I didn't have a yearly party with friends. A side note, I do remember having one party in first or second grade. It was one for both my sister, whose birthday is the day after mine, and myself and I recall we each got to invite a fair amount of friends too.

So here it is, birthday season and I start to stress. Why do I do this year after year? I hate to say it, but I'm so fixated over the party this year that I checked a few books out from the library to help guide me. Funny thing, they are really quite helpful. They suggest a short window of time for the party, which I opted for the suggested hour and a half. This way I will feed them kiddie unhealthy foods, play a few games then send them on their way. Oh, and I will take photos just so I can document that I had parties for my children. But why is this such a big deal to me when I never missed having them as a kid? Granted my oldest daughter is very excited for her party and has been helping with the planning every step of the way. But I am certain she would be just fine having the family together over cake and a few gifts.

The horror of planning happened when I read my soon to be five year old the invite. The last line reads, "no gifts please". She replied with "But Mom, that is the best part. Why did you add that?" I explained to her that she has too much stuff that she doesn't play with, what's the point of having more. I also said "the reality is that a party is really for friends to come together in your honor to have cake and wish you well". I also added "your parents and grandparents will be giving you gifts and we aren't skipping that, so really it's just your friends that won't be bringing gifts". With that she understood and accepted it.

A friend told me that was a harsh idea when our kids go to so many parties where kids open so many gifts. Or shall I say "tear" through them without even glancing to see what is in the box. But I explained that it is a pact that some friends and I made where we have agreed to accept an invitation that says "no gifts please" and stick to it. My sister in New York had a party for her daughter years ago that I attended and thought it so strange that her daughter didn't open her gifts from the girls that attended. She plainly stated, "that's just the way they do it around here". After that, I thought it was brilliant. What an idea. This way kids aren't crying that they don't have anything to open since it isn't their party. The books say that kids love to see their gifts opened, but I really sense they don't care when it's all said and done, they just remember having fun, playing games and eating cake. Off to make the dalmation pinata....

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Indianapolis Children's Museum

I got a call from a friend's husband the other day asking if we could get the kids together for a play date since he was home with the kids for spring break. They were supposed to go away for the week but their plans were cancelled at the last minute, so they were in town with nothing planed. Unlike myself, when I called back to accept the invitation I suggested we drive to Indy for the Children's Museum. Heck, I have a minivan big enough to hold my three kids and his too, so we set off early Friday morning for the adventure.

The museum is amazing. I was a little intimidated by the huge parking garage, and the fact that we parked all of the way on the top floor of it, but the museum was large enough to absorb the crowd. Along with the four floor parking garage, the museum is also four floors. We managed to see only two of the floors since the kids really enjoyed playing in the Clifford temporary exhibit and then on to the area for kids under 5. The babies couldn't get over the fun of the great padded climbing area's that were perfect for the curious crawlers. We also spent some time in the multicultural exhibit in the basement, but by then the kids were falling over from being so tired.

Really, if you are looking for something different to do one of these days, you really should take the drive to Indy for the children's museum. We all had a great time and have talked about it for days. Oh and not to forget, the children slept for days afterwards. They were as tired as a trip to Disney, or what I imagine Disney would do to them.

What we figured out too late:
  • There is a designated brown bag lunch area with lots of highchairs. (Great that they are fine with the packers) Also there are outside picnic tables
  • They do not accept reciprocal membership programs from our Cincinnati Children's museum, but it is well worth the spend, especially if you can skip naps and really spend some time there
  • The carousel is only one dollar. We stayed away figuring this is where they might really get us financially
  • Skip the sections immediately if you think they are not age appropriate. Also, there is someone at each door to tell you the age of the children that will get the most out of the exhibit
  • Doll houses are not just for kids- there is a whole society that really gets into the crafting of miniture houses. I was skeptical, but really fell in love with some of the reproductions from the victorian era, once I was educated.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What is Wrong With You?

When my husband and I were getting married we befriended a couple that I met in my running group, that was also getting married and it was the second time for her. I thought they were a couple that we could learn from since she was "trying again". They were going through the Catholic pre-marriage classes (although they were not catholic) and so did the couple that introduced me to my husband. It sounded like a brilliant idea. I think I wanted someone of authority to tell me my marriage was going to work, or to tell me to get out before getting in. I tried to convince Michael that we too should go to the classes, but he would have nothing to do with them. He was so convinced that we would be fine without a marriage "specialist" telling us to "go ahead, you will last a lifetime together". So instead of the classes, we settled on a book- recommended by the priest that was counseling the first couple. It was something along the lines of Seven Signs of Marriage Success, or you know what I mean, right? The book was fine, we made it through all of step one, maybe the first half of the second question when we came along our favorite quote of what never to say to anyone, especially your spouse, our favorite "what is wrong with you?" question. It has become such a funny thing that we say all of the time to each other, knowing how terrible it could seem to someone, especially someone that might have read the book seriously.

So what is wrong with you? I hate to say it, since it sounds like I might be missing all self confidence, but I ask myself this so many times throughout the day. I ask it with a bit of a joking tone, but today these are the times I asked it to myself:

1. Why did I have so much fear when telling my insurance agent of 15 years that I was leaving them for a cheaper rate. My "good neighbor" totally understood, and when I told him what a hard call this was to make and it felt like I was breaking up with him, he felt bad for me rather than trying to ask me to stay. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

2. I promised my two year old a dinner of ice cream for pooping on the potty. Not that this was reason to ask myself the question, but when in the same two hour window of time I had a contractor over for an estimate - I had to ask him to step over a pile of human poop in the middle of her bedroom doorway. And here is the clincher, we still rode our bikes into town for an ice cream dinner. Afterwards when I was carrying the bike home when the training wheels fell off, I had to ask myself the question again. What is wrong with me? Why didn't I cancel the ice cream dinner since really she only started pooping on the potty and finished up during nap time.

3. Why did I carry the bike home? It was a $5 bike from the salvation army. It was cheaper than getting my back fixed from lugging the cumbersom bike. But no, my daughter was convinced that we would never see the bike again if we left it while we walked home to get the car. What is wrong with me? Why can't I be incharge of the kids? I know I'm older, I have more life experiences, but sometimes I just trust that they know what they are talking about, and yes, I would feel terrible if the bike was stolen since she has only had it for a few weeks with the training wheels. This one gets the big What is wrong...

4. I went grocery shopping with a list and I still left the store without formula for the baby....

5. My neighbor had her cat put down today. This cat was her baby- seriously. But rather than letting her have the story, I had to say, but at least it wasn't your husband. I have a friend whose husband died last week.... blah blah blah. What is wrong with me???? I'm not certain why I couldn't just let her grieve for her cat. I just had to have a better story, or a story to try to distract her. I'm such an ass sometimes.

It's been one of those days.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Are we raising a nation of little egomaniacs?

I can't tell you how many kids I see these days that seem too overly confident that they often don't feel they need to listen to adults. Thoughts on this article from Newsweek?

While experts debate just how much praise is appropriate to lavish on children, there are some parenting points they all agree on:
— Give accurate feedback. Nobody can master a skill or even get better if they don't have genuine feedback. Of course, be kind. But also be truthful.
— Don't overpraise. Kids can't be great at absolutely everything. If you tell them they are, they'll soon find out the truth and not trust you. Be encouraging but don't overdo it.
— Promote new activities. The more kids try, the better the odds they'll find something they're great at. Also, the experience of not being good at something is valuable.
— Let them suffer consequences. Kids who aren't allowed to take responsibility for their actions don't develop responsible characters, a linchpin of solid self-esteem. So if they don't study for a test or do the homework, don't call the teacher for special treatment.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Advice for my Children

I’ve been thinking a bit about the little bits of wisdom that I want to pass on to my children in their growing years, and one in particular has risen to the surface of late:
-Don’t try.

This, of course, counters a common message that children receive:
-You should always try your best.

The reason that I prefer the former message to the latter one is that I think that trying is overrated. One can often hear words of support like,
-Well, maybe you didn’t win, but you tried your best.
-Good try.
-Please just try.

If it’s a “try” and if we’re “trying,” then that suggests that the outcome that we’re trying for is better than any other outcome. It also suggests that the outcome is better than the current moment. And the current moment is all that we ever have. So, we might as well enjoy it. Instead of trying, let’s just do. Forming an intention never hurts, but beyond that, just enjoy what you’re doing. You don’t need to try to win a race. You can just run it. The one exception is that yes, you should try to pee before bed.

Monday, March 26, 2007


This can actually be pretty cool if I let it be. My husband and I, hearts broken open, are venturing out into the world as independents after fourteen years as partners. In our most recent interactions, we are being consistently supportive of one another. Last night, when I couldn’t turn off the tears, while going through the weekly transition of one of us moving in and the other moving out, he was a serene teacher. He reminded me of what my mind sometimes feels hell bent to ignore or forget: Everything is okay right now. Without letting the mind drift forward or back, everything is okay.

I was proud of my husband for making that statement, and for his serenity in dealing with the moment. In past stages of this marriage dissolution process, I have seen him choose to carry the burden of any pain I am going through in terms of “guilt” and “fault.” I have seen him inflate problems that may never be problems…how our kids will be affected by our separation, etc. And I have seen how it has taken him down into despair. Last night, he was doing none of this. His example is important because I can see so clearly how much peace comes from choosing not to inflate problems that may never be problems. We are walking such a similar path as we go our separate ways.

Nothing is a problem until someone chooses to make it one. Our minds make our problems. Last night, my emotional outburst was probably most influenced by two things: 1) I was having my period – I can’t deny that the time of month has a strong influence on me! And 2) I wanted to make a problem where there wasn’t one. It was actually harder for me to have my husband come to the house and seem peaceful and strong than it had been when he was struggling. On a certain level, tears are a power play. The ego part of me that was feeling bad could celebrate a little victory if my tears brought my husband down a notch. But they didn't, and I'm glad.

I think my husband and I both know that my tears are not about him, but are really about me. And that as is the case with all things, whether married or not, I am the one who can choose sadness or contentment in each moment. The last “tragedy” that we went through was one that we went through as a married couple. And it’s kind of neat that when I compare the two processes in my mind, I realize that they are not all that different from one another. We’re still talking, caring, and supporting. The only real difference is that at the end of that, we go our separate ways. Like friends do.