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Holding down the fort

holding down the fort by frugalista blog

 

McSweetie and I went away for a weekend without the kids. It was nice. I mean, except for the 5 hours of bickering in the car or how he doesn’t wear his seatbelt for the first 30 seconds of driving, WHY? and then his tendency to take 10 minutes to figure out which beer on tap he wants when we order at a restaurant worse than Sally in When Harry Met Sally. BUT OTHER THAN THAT, we had a great weekend. For real.

The kids are 15 and 12. Still too young in my opinion to leave alone over night. Right? I was wondering this and wasn’t sure what the rule was. My kids are mature and have been left alone quite a bit during the day or whenever we go out. But overnight? That seems weird, right?

We had my sister in law and niece stay with them for the first night. They were in town visiting, so I designated them as their babysitters. It worked out great! Thanks Katherine! They got to do fun stuff during the day and then she was the designated adult to stay in the house.

So what if Emma forgot how to turn on the dishwasher and had to text me for directions. That’s a minor detail. Okay. Let’s be real. My kids are really bad at housework. They need constant prodding to do laundry or pick up after themselves. They never clean the cat box, although Emma is really good at looking after her hamster. For 15 and 12, they are behind when it comes to household tasks and knowing how to do them. Is this because I’m a control freak and only like the way I do it? Shhh. We can talk about that another day.

What I’m trying to say here is, I had really low expectations while we were away.

The second night we were away, they slept at my parent’s house. My folks brought them back home before we returned. This was good so that they could let the dog out to pee, and settle in and it saved us a trip to get them.

It was so nice to come home. The kids were greeting us enthusiastically, and even the dog was happy. She was dancing on her back two feet. We hugged and danced in a circle for a bit. And that wasn’t even the best part.

As we settled in, Emma told me that when they got back to the house, Owen emptied the dishwasher and put away the dishes, and she had noticed the dog had a messy backside after going out to poop. Wiping the dog’s butt with paper towels was only making it worse. So she needed to bathe her. She put her in the kitchen sink, which the dog hates, and had to keep her from jumping out. She hollered orders at Owen to grab a big towel (he came back with the largest beach towel ever) and hand her the soap. She said they were a tag team like in surgery. She said it was fun. I was thrilled to hear they didn’t leave the messy dog around with shit smears for me to clean up!

I was impressed! Emptying the dishwasher, and a washed dog? I’m the luckiest girl ever!

Emma shared that once Owen was done in the kitchen, and had finished his dish duty, and the dog was drying, he sat down on the couch and let out a long breath. It must have been from all the messy dog excitement.

He announces: “Being a mom IS the hardest job. I only did one mom thing emptying the dishwasher, and I’m already tired!”

No kidding buddy.

It’s stuff like that that when you hear it, it just makes this whole mothering thing worth it.

Did Emma smack Owen in the arm at dinner when he got in her way over the milk? Yeah. Oh well. Kids are still kids. They are not perfect. But it’s good to know that left to their own, I can count on some things getting done!

We just need to work on the laundry stuff next.

 

My kids are growing up and it’s freaking me out!

I’m sitting here in my room, typing on my lap top. My bedroom window is cracked open to let in the fresh air of this June rain we’re having. It’s nice. Refreshing.

But also, about a half mile away is the high school. And it’s the last day of school, class just let out and I can hear the cars honking, the tires squealing, and the shouts of ‘no more teacher’s dirty looks’. Well, not that last part. But amongst all that hoopla is Emma. Her last day as a freshman. She’s off to spend the day with friends and I texted her to be careful and watch out for the crazy drivers because kids are stupid. And kids are stupid when they are goofing off especially.

So I just get to sit here and fret over my kids being out in the big wide world. Which isn’t even the real BIG WIDE WORLD yet like the kids who have graduated this year and what their parents must be feeling! This is what keeps big pharma in business- the Xanax that parents like me will be popping like PEZ squares to keep from literally pulling out my eyebrows one hair at a time.

Owen is thrilled to have his first year of middle school under his belt and tucked away for good. Not because he enjoyed it, but that means he’s down to 2 more years in that place and he can’t wait to get out. Face it. Middle school sucks. He’s doing well, and it’s not horrible, but it’s still- well, middle school.

Middle school is only fun in your 40s when you’re at a themed dance for other moms and bloggers. But the real middle school is just shit. What is with the administration being so freaking uptight? I guess when you’re dealing with 1,200 11-14 year olds, it makes you kind of a tight ass.  You breathe wrong and the Vice Principal hands out a detention.

But high school has been the opposite. Emma has flourished as a freshman and has enjoyed more autonomy, responsibility and new friends than ever before in a school. She’s been lucky that her teachers ‘get’ her. During her health class when they were in the Sex Ed unit talking about STD’s, there were wooden penises on each desk to be used for a demonstration on proper condom application. Emma picks up her wooden penis and shouts to the teacher, ‘Hey! Look at my woody!”

Thankfully, the teacher burst into laughter and said that in all her years, she’s surprised that Emma was the first one to make that joke. Emma was just all, ‘How can you NOT make that joke?”

Also- just the idea of kids her age becoming sexually active- I mean. No. Just no. But I’d be dumb to pretend that’s not the case, so that’s why we talk about stuff all the time. Because OHMYGOSHNOTMYBABY!

She’s overcome so much in the way with her health issues; maintained a great GPA and has signed up to be the football team’s water girl/ team manager in the fall. What the hell you ask? Same here.

She knows little about football, isn’t athletic, but apparently is a hoot and a half filling the giant water jug and taking it to the field for the players. And the coaches like her and think she’s responsible. So hey, good for her.

Emma will also be taking Driver’s Ed this summer. Driver’s Ed. She’ll be maneuvering a car in traffic. Among other cars. And drivers. I mean, that’s how it works, I know. But still. OHMYGOSHDRIVERSED!!!!

SEX ED AND DRIVER’S ED!!! My baby!! I need to get a grip.

Owen is happy to be a 7th grader. He keeps counting the days to when he’s in high school. And then eventually both of them will be on their own and won’t need me for everything (thank GOD) but I will feel useless and it will force me in to some hobby or crisis that will cause me to wall paper our house in hideous floral patterns and install track lighting. Maybe even wear elastic waist pants.

I guess I have to just sit back and enjoy the bloom that emerges from the flower. It’s so freaking hard though!

Everyone knows that the best thing is for them to leave the nest, but I just don’t want them to fly too far.

I’ll stop making metaphorical comparisons to nature and my children growing up.

I was kind of hoping that as my kids got older I would like them less. You know, the teen years being so awful and all, it would just make me glad that they move out and go off to college. But it’s the opposite that’s true. They’re pretty cool though. We have fun together and I love them even more now than when they were born. Dang it!

My kids are growing up and it's freaking me out

 

When the fear of being wrong keeps us from doing what’s right

I’m not an expert on psychology or people’s motivations. I didn’t major in sociology or anthropology or any other subject at school that would make me know the inside of the human mind’s functions. But I’m a parent. And trying to teach kids from knowing right from wrong is pretty much what we live and breathe by, college degree in the subject or not!

One of those lessons happened to Owen in second grade. I remember it so well because I think it applies to most adults these days. Politicians caught in a scandal. Police officer questioned for misconduct. A spouse suspected of adultery.

When you do something wrong, the fear of the consequences makes for greater motivation than the interest of doing what’s right.

Owen is a good kid. He is one who listens, follows the rules, and really doesn’t like to get in trouble. But he’s human, so he does goof off. And occasionally he can manage to go too far. But he never got in trouble at school. Unlike the three detentions Emma got in 1st grade. I know, right? He’s my golden boy.

Okay, so he comes to me one day stressed and in tears. I ask him what’s wrong. He doesn’t want to tell me at first. His guilty conscience is heavy and he has a hard time facing me when he knows he’s done something that might disappoint me. But he also knows he needs help. So the need for help prevails and he bursts into tears and tells me the whole story.

He was stressed over some hoodlum in his class extorting him for money and toys!

This kid, Joey was getting a dollar here and a dollar there, not to mention some prized Legos out of the deal. I asked Owen what on earth he did that gives Joey so much power over him!

Owen said that one time at lunch in the cafeteria, he spit his food out to be funny. Some of it flew off and landed by Joey and he threatened to report Owen to the lunch monitor. Owen freaked out! He didn’t want to get in trouble so he said to Joey he would do anything to keep him from telling.

The first thing Joey extorted was a Lego key chain that Owen had kept on his backpack zipper. A friend gave it to him as a sympathy present after a kitten we had for a few weeks died suddenly. Then came Joey asking for a dollar for Owen to bring him the next day. Then two dollars another day.

Finally the toll of Owen giving up his money, and not to mention that he missed his key chain, put him over the edge.

He came clean with his story to me and I told him how we would handle it.

I pointed out that what was the source of his anguish was his first offense in spitting at lunch. He wanted to avoid the wrath of the lunchroom monitor and a possible detention, so he panicked and jumped to damage control.

I parted his sweet little blond hairs from his blue eyes and held his face in my hand. I told him that if he got in trouble at lunch, I would understand that we make mistakes from time to time. And that even though it wouldn’t have been much fun, his punishment would have been completed so that he could move on with this life. But instead he handed power over to Joey. And that power was his own guilty conscience.

When I said that in the morning we would have a face to face with Mrs. Peterson, his teacher, and tell her everything, he felt better. I told him that if there was a disciplinary action that still needed to be carried out over his behavior, he would accept it. And that we would tell the teacher what Joey was doing so that she can address that issue with him so he doesn’t do it to other kids too. Because a real friend doesn’t make you feel bad and take things that are yours.

The relief Owen felt was palpable. I knew that he understood that his first course of action was a rookie mistake, led on by panic and fear. And now he felt he had the strength and confidence to face the music.

We went to the teacher. Mrs. Peterson understood exactly what Owen was telling her about Joey. She said that he’s done something like that before. She told Owen to point out the key chain and tell her exactly how much money he gave Joey. She would have a conference with him and he would get his items back. As for the lunch behavior, the statute of limitations for spitting food out seemed to only have a short time span. Owen knew not to do anything like that again. But if he did slip up, to face his consequences.

Isn’t it funny how we can use a simple elementary school cafeteria extortion scenario to play out life’s moral code? How much better the world would be if people could own their wrong doing up front instead of creating more and more mess to cover it up?

I actually think that Owen won’t forget this lesson. Even though it happened almost 6 years ago. He remembers Joey and to steer clear of him even now in middle school. I’ve told Owen that getting punished by a teacher or administrator for something he did wrong doesn’t make me happy. But the disappointment is greater from me if he were to try and cover up his errors with more wrong doing. I’m more proud of his ownership of his actions, than whether or not he gets detention.

Fear of being wrong blog by Frugalista Blog

 

Big or small, old or young, I’m letting them all have the fun.

Just a short message from me today.

There has been so much discussion, blogs, and articles about the appropriate age for trick or treating. When are kids too old? What’s the cut off age?

Well, isn’t it funny how we constantly point out that the kids today seem to be leaving childhood behind so quickly? Whether it’s how they dress, use social media, are exposed to sex and violence, etc.

So on this holiday of fun and child’s play, let’s let the kids be kids. Whether they are 5 or 15.

If someone comes to my house in a costume and politely says ‘Trick or Treat” I will give them candy. If they look like they probably drove here with their friends in their dad’s car, that’s okay.

My kids are 11 and 14. Our neighborhood is one of those neighborhoods families drive to to take their kids door to door. It’s busy and bustling, kids and families are out in packs. My kids are trick or treating.

Emma, 14, is heading out with a group of her friends. And I’m certain that because they will handle themselves appropriately, they will get candy at every door they knock on.

Owen is with a bunch of kids age 11 to 14. They will go door to door as well.

Because they are all still kids!!

My friend Jen over at Real Life Parenting said that when a teenager comes to her door without a costume and seems to expect candy, she tells them they can have the candy but after they sing a song or do a dance. It makes great entertainment around their friends!

I love that idea. Remember the old, old, old days where Halloween was more tricks? Kids soaping windows, building bon fires in the middle of the town square, throwing flour on folks? Okay, I watch a lot of old movies and Little House.

So I’m letting the kids be kids. Everyone gets candy here.

Of course, it might be some leftover Easter candy or last year’s candy, but hey- Tricks on you!

Happy Halloween.

Be safe.

Frugie Halloween Let the kids trick or treat

 

A kid’s guide to how to ask your parents for a hamster

 

A kid's guide to how to ask your parents for a hamster by Frugalista Blog

My daughter knew her father would be a tough sell on getting him convinced she could have a hamster.

We have a cat and a dog and despite my request for a houseful of kittens, he says that we have all the pets we’ll ever have.

Emma is a pretty clever kid.

So she knew that if she left the gate with just, “Dad, can I have a hamster?” the answer would be “NO”.

She decided to come up with a plan.

First- clean your room or bathroom, wherever you plan on keeping the little furry rodent’s dwelling.

Second- don’t ask for anything for awhile and come across as very low maintenance.

Three- have ovary surgery where they rearrange your insides.

Okay, that’s not fair. Not every kid can pull the surgery card, but it does work well if you do have it in your deck.

Find a time when dad isn’t stressed or just came home from work, isn’t distracted by a World Cup game, watching the NBA draft, or finishing his roster for coaching your brother’s soccer game. Yeah, if you understood that sentence, that means there’s very little time dad isn’t stressed or distracted.

Have a whole bunch of your babysitting money saved up so you don’t ask your parents for funding this furry venture.

Once you’ve accomplished all the above, sit down with your dad casually. Probably while he’s chilling with a beer.

And then in your sweetest, yet direct on mature, but not too mature voice, ask, “A lot of my friends have gotten them, and I know it seems weird at first, but I think you’ll consider the idea, can I get a belly button piercing?” Then hold for dramatic pause.

Then when he looks at you in shock, appease his worries with soft laughter,

“Ha ha, I’m just kidding.” “But rather, actually, can I have a hamster?” Then look him squarely in the eye and smile.

Ha! See? It’s the old ‘bait and switch’ tactic!

Once the shock of the thought of his little girl getting some kind of ornamental piercing hanging from a part of her body that he once bathed and applied ointment to the first few days after birth to ensure it healed properly, he can wrap his head around a furry little friend joining your home that pees and poos in a cage of wood shavings.

If at first he gives you the no answer answer, which goes like, “Oh, a hamster, ha ha. I get it. Hmmm…”  and then goes back to his beer and laptop, don’t fret. That’s not actually a ‘No’. It’s a non-answer that just hangs in the air.  What’s critical here is not to press him. Just go with the flow.

If you’re mom is already on board and supporting you with the decision, then let her do the closing.

Do your research and maybe mention a few people you know who have experience with hamsters as pets. Stress the low maintenance feature. Dad’s appreciate this.

It doesn’t hurt to take a trip to a few pet stores and scope out the one you want to get.  Once you find the one you fall in love with, bring back these anecdotes of how you held the cutest, sweetest hamster of the bunch and we wouldn’t want him to get purchased by someone else.

Have your mom approach him casually with, “well, Emma’s gotten all she needs for her hamster and we’ll head to the pet store tomorrow to bring him home. It really was the cutest one and it liked her immediately.”

When your mom helps convince your dad, you’ve hit a home run.

Bring that fur ball home and congratulations! You are now the owner of a tiny rodent.

Oh, and the pee and the bedding do stink. I’m not gonna lie. Be sure to tidy it daily, and clean its shavings weekly. If the smell overwhelms your parents, you’ve failed at the hamster parenting task and they’ll never trust you again.

For part two of this story, stay tuned on how to retrieve your hamster from the floor boards when you lose him behind the bathroom cupboard. That was fun. (sarcasm font)

 

 

 

My America. Your America.

Are you a Republican? A Democrat? Maybe you’re an Independent. Maybe you’re apathetic and seem to just ignore politics and those public figures.

Are you Christian? A Jew? Athiest?

What I’m getting at is, it doesn’t matter. Regardless of your beliefs or ideals, some things are just a big deal and really cool to experience.

Yesterday, I got to do something with my children that we will never forget. It was something only a handful of people get the opportunity to do.

We greeted Air Force One and shook President Obama’s hand!

Yeah! Pretty freaking amazing!!

Have you shaken a standing president’s hand before?

Have you been [this close] to Secret Service? It’s pretty cool.

We have a lot of crap going on in the world. A lot of ills and worries. But there’s also lots and lots of cool and wonderful things. I like to focus on the wonderful. But that doesn’t mean I’m not helping or trying to help the ill or ailing as well.

We took the kids to Washington D.C. in 2010. Seeing the Smithsonian monuments and hearing all the history was a banquet of memories and emotions for the kids and us. We love history. We love this country.

I watch documentaries on presidents all the time. I have a fascination with the Kennedy’s. I modeled my wedding dress after Jackie’s gown. And then I got to see it at the Kennedy Library on our honeymoon, but only by coincidence. I didn’t plan things THAT well!

Politics and politicians can be incredibly divisive. We have a tendency of hearing things on 24 hour news channels and either wanting to believe them because they fit with our ideals, not having the energy to disbelieve because ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’, OR, wondering if everything you hear you need to take with a grain of salt.

I respect the office of the presidency of the United States of America. And whether or not you voted for that particular president that comes to your town, doesn’t matter. The president is in town! How cool is that?

We have a lot to be grateful for. I am grateful for my rights as a citizen and enjoying the freedom to shake a president’s hand, go to my church, and love who I want.

Oh, and I asked about your religion earlier because, had I met the Dalai Lama or Pope Francis, would you spew your religious inclinations my way? Your grievances with the Catholic church or Tibet? I hope not. I would hope that you can understand that it’s awesome and fabulous, and an experience that should be respected.

My kids got to do something they will tell their kids about one day.

So here you go. Our pics with the president.

Frugalista blog with Air Force One

The kids and I  pose in front of Air Force One in Seattle.

 

President Obama with Owen

President Obama chatting with Owen, and Emma’s head in the foreground.

 

The money shot and Owen shaking Obama’s hand.



Birthing a teenager

When you have a baby your thoughts are surrounded by this little bundle of joy. Wait. Scratch that. Bundle of joy? Bundle of crying, pooping, difficult to latch on toothless beast. That’s more like it.

Emma is 14 today. I remember when she was born and the soft skin on her back felt like I put my hand in a vat of warm butter. I had no idea what to expect. I could barely wrap my mind around the number of cells that divided and divided over the 39 weeks bringing me this fleshy, peach fuzzed, pink child.

The sense of overwhelming duty to feed this human was daunting. Everything hurt. My boobs were sore beyond imagine. I couldn’t get her to latch on. Her cries of hunger brought me to tears. Like Pavlov’s dog, her squawks sent chills straight to my nipples. I wanted to run away. But I also wanted to love her and never let her go.

Then a thought occurred to me, somewhere in that first week of having a newborn. What if I don’t like her when she becomes a teenager? What if we clashed and hated each other and didn’t speak? Maybe she would rebel against me. Maybe she would slam the door in my face every time I attempted to connect with her.

When babies grow to be 3 year olds, everyone says, “Wait until they become teens. Then you’ll really have your work cut out for you.”

Guess what? Everything I feared, hasn’t come to fruition. Yet.

I find myself loving and growing with Emma more and more as she enters womanhood. We bond over gross things like tampons and body hair! She tells me about her friends. Her fears and her loves. We still ooh and ahh over Disney princesses.

We have frank discussions about sex. She asks me questions, and I answer. Always trying to wrap it in a context her young mind and heart can relate to. But trying not to sugar coat things to unrealistic proportions. I want her to be a strong, sexually independent adult female. I want her to gain her own claim on her boundaries, intimacies, and relationships.

Radical? I don’t think so. I think one of the greatest hardships we face as parents is letting our children actually leave the nest. I don’t want her to leave. But I want her to. You know what I mean?

She has the spirit and poise and intelligence to do wonderful things. Could she be a UNICEF ambassador to developing countries? Sure. Could she travel the country in a Broadway production? You bet. Do both of those scare the shit out of me? ABSOLUTELY.

But I can’t let her know those fears. I think what scares me most, is if she DIDN’T try those things. If she limited herself and succumbed to her own fears and shut herself in to just stay close to home, and follow the simple path.

Don’t get me wrong. Her happiness is based on her choices. If she goes to junior college and finds a nice job, gets an apartment nearby, and is happy- then perfect.

If she decides to live in Belgium? Then perfect also.

Where am I going with this? All of a sudden I’m breathing in a paper bag realizing I have four more years before she is emancipated in the eyes of the state.

Back to the little girl I’m raising. None of the things I feared have come true. Her door is open, our conversations flow. We’ve had words, she’s rolled her eyes at me. She’s stomped up the stairs and looked at me like I had two heads. But in the end, we connect.

And that’s all I can ask for.

Dearest Emma, I truly want your heart and mind to soar to its fullest potential. To find love and content within yourself and the people you surround yourself with. God bless you and keep you.

xoxo

 

You and me girl. Let’s keep it goofy always.

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without swearing under the tree

We have a fake Christmas tree. Maybe Martha wouldn’t approve.  I’m okay with that. Some families go to tree farms and cut down the tree themselves. Some go to a tree lot and pick out the best looking, least Charlie Browniest they can find.

We used to do that. And then there was the year James brought the chainsaw into the living room, and something had to change.

We never did the tree farm thing with the kids. Just the tree lot. We’d drive down the two miles to the fruit stand that sells the Christmas Trees in December. It’s right across from the Starbucks, that we would visit afterwards, or before, or both. The guy at the lot straps the tree on top of the minivan and off we go to decorate it. It’s like Norman Rockwell. Or the Griswolds. I don’t know if the Griswolds paid $95 dollars for their Fraiser Noble, but we did.

Emma and Owen were smaller. Probably 7 and 4.  They knew what bad words were. Like ‘shit’ and ‘damn’. We tried to keep it innocent. Mostly. That would all change at the holidays.

Now, the tree strapped to the minivan was at least 8 or 9 feet tall. We wanted it grand in front of the living room window. It was also about 7 feet in diameter. And so pokey with all those pine needles. They don’t call them needles for nothing.  We, James and I,  mostly just James would lug the tree through the front door and shove it into the tree holder. This would take a lot of screaming on my part, because of the pokey needles, and that  it weighed 400 pounds at least. Getting it just so, in the hole with the screw thingys all tight meeting in the middle. This would work very easily with a 5 foot tree, about 4 feet in diameter and with a trunk only about 6 inches. This tree we got, had a trunk about a foot wide. Clearly our tree isn’t going to fit. But what’s hard about realizing this, is you are still holding this 800 pound tree (it gets heavier with each minute that passes) with all the pokey needles in your hands and up your nose and stuff. You can’t just lay down a 9 foot tree in your living room. Well, you can, but then your couch will probably have sap all over it and pine needles all over the carpet. Which are anyway after it didn’t fit through the front door and it needed to be shoved over the threshold. So I stood there holding it up and James says he’ll be right back. Meanwhile the children are anxiously putting ornaments on it while you are holding it, and you’re telling them now is not the time to hang Rudolph on the branches and that Daddy is going to fix it so we can get the tree to stay up without mommy holding it up. So BACK OFF. I mean, ‘Go watch Dora for a minute sweeties’.

So the part I haven’t told you yet, is the colorful words that come forth from daddy when the tree doesn’t fit. I don’t know why he’s the one swearing. I’m the one holding the 1200 pound tree. But I’m not swearing in front of the children, because that would be wrong. When he returns to the living room, he is holding a chainsaw. Or was it a circular saw? It was a power tool with ‘saw’ in the end of it’s name. I think it plugged in instead of using a pull string to start it. So maybe it wasn’t a chainsaw. Either way, it looked dangerous. And dirty. And not something that belongs in my living room.

Laying down the tree-very carefully-(because I am NOT holding it anymore since power tools are involved).  James starts cutting the crap out of the bottom of the stump to fit it into the tree stand. There’s wood chips flying everywhere. It was working. Sort of. What was this tree made out of, metal?  It was very loud and I worried that he wasn’t wearing protective eye wear. I think there was a knot in the branch that was at the bottom of the tree. It would be nice if the tree guys could whittle it down like a pencil to fit perfectly in the tree stand. But that’s hindsight I guess. So James fought that knot in the stump with valor. It had no chance. Eventually.

Once we heaved ho-ed it into the stand, screwed in the screws at the bottom, took turns standing across the room squinting to see if it was straight or not, James got the pleasure of getting the massive spider’s web nest of tree lights out of the bin to find that probably 3 out of 5 strands had dud bulbs in them and he needed to go to the hardware store anyway. More swear words. At this point the children have learned the finer language of truck drivers or sailors, or long shore men- just pick a profession that swears a lot and that is what the children learned.

So, to make a long story, kind of longer. We decided that even though it might not be eco friendly- totally sentimental, or even have that piney smell, it was time to get a fake tree. We didn’t care that they were made in China, that you paid about $400 for a decent one. We just wanted to save Christmas from the litany of profanity that came with the tree. It was our duty as parents.

So the next year, we packed up the kids and drove to Ace (it’s about a half mile from our house) and picked the display model that was discounted for only $150 (a steal!) and, you guessed it, went to Starbucks after to celebrate. The cool thing about most artificial trees is they come pre-strung. The lights are all good to go. You pop it together, plug it in and voila, O Tannenbaum.

Now Emma says when we put the tree up, “It’s just not the same without daddy swearing.” Cheeky.

Work at Home Moms- WAHM. Not to be confused with 80s pop sensation WHAM.

Everything needs a label these days and it’s driving me nuts. Do you work at home? Do you stay at home? Do you work away from home?

Are you a SAHM, WAHM, or WAFHM? What? I know! I’m confused too!!

When I chose to have kids, all I wanted to do was just not go back to the job I was currently at. My husband and I saved up my income so that after the baby was born, I could be home with her.

Then it worked out that the company I was employed with went out of business. There wasn’t a job for me to return to. I loved staying home with Emma. I couldn’t imagine having to arrange my lifestyle to go back to an office and leave her with someone. It just never occurred to me.

HOWEVER, I never did mind anyone that did make that choice to go back to work after maternity leave. We all have different reasons why we want to. So who cares?

But it seems lately if you are a mom, you need a label as to what you do with your time. Here’s my rundown of the latest.

Do you work at home doing a job for a client or a boss and check in remotely? That’s a WAHM. Work At Home Mom. This is tricky. Then you have to keep the kiddos occupied while you get your job done. Maybe you have someone come and help with the kids or you take the kids to day care. This might save you from commuting to an office, but still allow you to get some work done. Maybe the kids are off to school while you work.

Or do you work at an office? This is a WAFHM. Work Away From Home Mom. Then you have the same situation of dealing with childcare, commuting, and even if the kids are at school, someone has to be there for them when they come home.

Finally, there’s the moms who stay at home with their kids and don’t get paid anything from anyone. That’s a SAHM. Stay At Home Mom. We know what she does. Wipes up spills all day and poo and puke,  entertains, is a concierge, laundress, cook, nurse, craft adviser.

Then there’s the SITMVAD. Stay In The Mini Van All Day mom. She can be a combination of some of the above and this at the same time. Some may call this a Soccer Mom. I just call it a mom who is busy and needs to drive all over creation for her kids.

Don’t forget the mom we all went to be- SAHWWM. Stay At Home With Wine Mom. This needs no explanation.

Not only is this a handy guide to some of the acronyms you’ve been seeing lately, it’s also a good reminder that ALL MOMS WORK FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

And I respect each and every one for the jobs they do.

The next time someone asks what I do, I will say, “I’m a mom”. And that should be enough.

 

 

My thighs are flabby, and I’m trying to love them anyway.

The other day on my Facebook wall I asked if people could have one wish, what would it be for. About 95% of you said you want to be skinnier, or be able to eat what you want and not gain weight.

I should also add that people wished to be richer too. I wouldn’t mind that either.

But as far as weight goes, let me try and help. Ladies listen up.

I want to tell you that you are just fine.

You want to fit in that swimsuit because online websites like E!Online post pictures like this one-

with a headline called ‘Bikini Body Wars’ and have viewers vote on which one looks better. Really? There’s mommy wars and now bikini body wars? Because I think it’s great to line up three women who look amazing all in their own way, and let the scrutinizing public pick which one ‘rocks a bikini’ the best.

Insert big eye roll. Oh wait, I just saw my brain.

The Girl made a comment to me in the car when I pointed out someone we know who has what I called, ‘a beer gut’ (he does like beer). She said, “well you have a mom gut.” Ouch.

That stung. I told her that I have a perfectly fine tummy that has squishy skin from having babies, but please don’t imply that I am fat.

I sat in the front seat facing forward and pouted a little. How am I to continue my own body love and try to encourage her to love herself, if she makes flippant remarks about my flab?

She apologized and said she was only joking. But it still hurt. Now this isn’t to get all down on Emma. She was just being a sarcastic teenager, which 90% of the time, we banter back and forth and have a good laugh afterwards.

But that particular moment, I wasn’t feeling it. I felt like crying instead. I felt like screaming, “I can’t be perfect, I can just be me!”

Later, she and I had a private exchange that ended in hugs and tears. She apologized again and told me how beautiful and chic I am. Which surprised me because I thought she thought I was a dork.

I told her that I’m always praising her wonderful body for the way it is. And it means a lot if she would do the same for me. That even though I’m older, my thighs are dimpled, my butt jiggles when I run, and my boobs look like sad, sad strawberries left in a food dehydrator too long, I still need acceptance. I work for how I look. I try to take care of myself and do things for my health, inside and out.

And then I realized, I need to stop describing myself with these words- flabby, jiggly, strawberries…

I think she saw me as a woman at that moment, and not just her mom. I’m hoping it was a breakthrough. This is when the tears came and we hugged it out.

I want us all to have these breakthroughs. To be forgiving of each other and ourselves. To know that if you are doing what you can to eat reasonably well, get in some exercise and look after yourself- you don’t have to look like Gisele Bundchen or Jennifer Aniston or Kate Beckinsale. Do I try to improve how I look? You bet. Here’s one way I’ve done it- read here.

I want to be sinewy and sleek. Toned and taut. But hey, I’m okay if I’m not those things. Remember this post about me in my bikini? Am I Fat?  I’m a little soft and squishy, but I think I look damn good.

I want you to say that about yourself too. I want you to look in a mirror and realize that you look damn good. Whatever you’re trying to change- if it’s for your health and strength- keep doing it. Great! If it’s because you think you need to because of what 3% of other gals in this world look like, then pause, and tell yourself how good looking you are right now in THIS moment. Not tomorrow. Not after your diet. Now.

And dear sweet Emma; you are beautiful now and you will be beautiful in 30 years when you have the same stretch marks and cellulite that I have. And I hope you have a child that tells you that you are the most wonderful woman who is beautiful inside and out, just like you told me that night.