Saturday, November 7, 2009

Getting Into a Groove

I've got the new preschool routine down. I remember the key to the building (every parent has to let themselves in with a key, plus enter a code) EVERYDAY now. Lol. I also remember to drop off blankets on Mondays and bring them home to clean on Fridays, pack morning and afterschool snack (just something light, because breakfast is served a little late and afternoon snack a little early, so it helps the commute to be less cranky-filled), check the cubbies, and pay the tuition on Thursdays. Ander has homework about once a week (a little color page - they call it "no-pressure homework" because the kid is supposed to just be given the opportunity to do it and earn a sticker) and he's so excited about it that he asks for homework everyday, so if we get home and he has nothing from school, he's been coloring or writing or "reading" a book while I get Loki's supper done (if Loki is eating something different than us).

I really like that, for work, I am truly off at 4 p.m. everyday. I am forced to take a lunch break. I really hadn't realized how much I was running around like a crazy person at the law firm until I got put on a set schedule at this new job. That said, I get a lot of comp time (from the occassional meeting in New Orleans , or the phone call that comes in a 3:55 p.m. and lasts until 4:30 p.m., or the overnight trip to provide training to juvenile attorneys in another city), so I already have almost two days of leave built up (and will have about three days after next week), in case something happens with the kids. Plus, we get generous holidays.

The housekeeper coming in every two weeks forces us to put things where they belong, so our house is staying pretty neat. I am hoping that I can finally start some of the backlogged organization projects around the house in January, after the busy Christmas season is over. Knowing I will finally have time to tackle those projects is really nice!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Free Time

Free time is such a dilemma for me as a mommy. On one hand, I want to spend free time with my kids. After all, they are in daycare all day and surely want to hang with their mommy. On the other, I have tons of stuff that LOOMS to be done around the house. (Looming as we speak - island loaded with Halloween buckets to be sorted out and put away, a roast and mashed potatoes to cook, table cluttered with degrees to clean and reframe and a skirt to hang up, Loki's dresser needing too small clothes to clean out of it, and Ander needing a toy reduction before CHristmas in his room.)

But, mostly, I just want a LONG dinner (appetizers and salads followed by a meal) and a lingering cup of coffee outside of a charming coffee shop, with either my husband or a dear girlfriend. WITHOUT THE KIDS.

I feel the normal parent guilt, but without the recharge, I'm a horrible mom. I snap instead of speaking calmly. I banish to rooms. I get sucked into facebook, because I don't want to face the kiddos. I need some free time. But I worked late two nights last week and Alan works late a couple of nights this week, so it's not looking good. Plus, I have to finish up a couple of little things at the old office this upcoming weekend. Then, it's Christmas shopping time.


Is it naptime yet?


Sunday, October 25, 2009

The New Gig

Loki is totally ARGH HOW DARE YE about the new preschool. Ander likes the new school okay, but misses Ms. Jenny and Tytus and seeing Maw Maw everyday. Alan misses, I think, the flexibility I had at my old job.

That said, I love the new job. I feel like I am doing what I was born to do. I still like the people, even after two weeks ;), and the office appears to be extremely family-friendly, with dads popping in and out for parent-teacher conferences and moms taking three day vacations to tour colleges. I get to assist with forming laws regarding juveniles and I get to make sure attorneys that represent juveniles have the tools that they need to do the job. I still get to go to court, probably more often. Seriously, how did I get in this place?

We had delayed a lot of transitional things when Loki based on the fact that Alan and I had new jobs, but now we are working on those things. We are teaching Loki to sleep in his own bed. We've been putting him down there forever, but now when he gets up, we sooth him and give him a water bottle. We hope to wean that water bottle soon. We really aren't good at letting him cry it out, but at some point, it comes down to letting him cry in his bed or ours. So, for now, we choose his and rub his back and tell him night night, which seems compassionate but gives him a chance to learn to go back to sleep in his bed.

We also are offering him sippy cups during the day. We will still give him a bottle, if he gets really fussy even with the sippy cup, but we are hoping that will gently wean him from the bottle.

He's still not walking, yet, though. Physically, he's quite advanced for an almost 14-month-old, building with Duplos, throwing a ball, and climbing into a play car, riding it around, and climbing out. He can stand on his own and cruise and walk with assistance. It's more of a deciding-to-walk issue, so I'm not stressed yet. But if the stinker doesn't get in gear by next month...:/.

Ander is fully potty trained!!! Yippee. He is starting to read, a little. It's scary how good he is with words.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Daily Scheduling

The organizing and time management books that I read ALL seem to miss the mark on scheduling. The biggest mistakes they all make is suggesting that you schedule time to do certain things, like workout or clean the counter or return phone calls. The problem, of course, is that mood, well-being, and need to return phone calls (or do anything else) has to factor in or the scheduler is wasting her time doing all the wrong things. For my new job (Tuesday, starts freakin' Tuesday which is like tomorrow only three days away gawh!), I am making a schedule (much like I did for every other job), but it's much more flexible than you see in your typical time management book.

The first step in my schedule is my calendar. The key to a workable calendar is to schedule only the necessarry stuff. Routines and goals go elsewhere. So far, my calendar has one entry. I have HR Orientation from 9 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. on my first day. That's it. Note that my calendar does NOT say "return phone calls" or "check e-mail" or "workout." I will make a FLEXIBLE daily schedule, but my calendar will stay filled with ONLY appointments. A meeting with the executive staff Monday mornings at 10 a.m. makes the cut and goes on the calendar. Working out goes on the calendar, but only if I am meeting someone to workout or attending a certain class. Otherwise, working out three to four times this week goes on my goals list.

The next step in scheduling is to have a basic outline of my day that will take into consideration meetings and things that must be done, but will also give me time to work on long-term issues. In making this *outline* of my day, I take into consideration my patterns of wakefulness. The outline is much like the *schedule* time management books suggest, except that it is more flexible, works in my tasks list, and does not clutter my calendar. (I keep it in a memo in my pda and I tape a copy to my desk/bulletin board).

Here's my basic outline. Keep in mind that I'm starting a new job, so it will change as needed. Also, if I have meetings, I start from the beginning of the outline, stop for the meetings, and then move on to the rest of the outline.

*Arrive at work, unload anything coming back from home, make breakfast/coffee

*Process e-mail
(This goes early because it can be done while I eat breakfast and, frankly, because I am picky about an empty e-mail in-box. I will treat e-mail as I do paper that comes to my office - trash it, refer it (assign it to my assistant, pass it on to my boss), act on it (for example, respond if it is brief or add an assignment to my task list or a meeting to my calendar and RVSP/delete it), or file it (if I can't easily get it reproduced from anywhere else or if it is very important).)

*Clean up after breakfast

*Make/return phone calls (as needed)
(I find this is better done early, so people have time to call you back during the workday.)

*Do anything overdue or due today
(The hope is that nothing on my task list falls into the category. The reality is that doing things at the last minute happens, either because I am slacking or because someone else is or because of emergency. Might as well build it into the plan!)

*Process in-box until it is EMPTY
(I use TRAF again - Trash, Refer, Act, or File.)

*Do anything due tomorrow


*Work on anything due within the next two weeks.
(I start with the most dreaded project and get it out of the way. Then I usually try to do some easy stuff that I can cross off of the Task list. I limit this step to about two hours, max. That's about how long I can truly concentrate on the Tasks that need to be done. Exceptions are made, of course, if there is a big deadline.)

*Work on one long-term project (time-permitting)

*30 minutes before end of the day - put everything away, pack anything that is leaving the office with me, and, if time is left, process more e-mail/in-box


Sunday, September 27, 2009


Changing jobs requires a high level of organization. I need to do everything I can for my clients, including finishing open projects wherever feasible, finding new attorneys to recommend for those projects I cannot finish, and officially withdrawing from as many cases as possible. I need an entirely new wardrobe because the clothing required for a combination of one to two court dates a month, meeting with clients in a small town, and hanging out at coffee shops is very different than that required for constant travel to various courtrooms and city meetings. I have to rearrange childcare, and since no daycares are available, that means hiring someone to pick up the kids and deliver them back and forth to their current childcare. I have to close down the office and cancel all my business contracts (advertising, utilities, insurances, rent, etc.). I have to hire household help because we literally won't be home to do things we normally do. And I have to get started on the new job, including meeting with the new boss regarding a start date, attending the Board meeting to confirm my employment, and filling out state human resources paperwork. Oh, and my laptop goes back to my current supervisor (and I get a new one), so I need to back up my pda on something else. Plus, I have to physically move out of the office.

Overwhelmed is an understatement.

Good thing I have an excellent organization system in place. I can add everything I need to do to my to do list. I can go through my list of clients and send them all letters, based on a form letter I plan to create. I can glance at my calendar and know exactly what is coming up.

I can't wait until Christmas. Somehow, Christmas seems less stressful than October and November will be!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Closet

In prep for the new job, I need new clothes. Because I only had one or two court dates a month before this, I could get away with only one suit. Now, though, I'll have meetings and court (not as the lawyer handling the cases, but to evaluate other lawyers) and public appearances. And no matter how much What Not To Wear says I can mix and match my suit jacket with other bottoms, I really need to have a suit for everyday.

I currently have two black suits - one if old and shiny and one is new - because a petite size suit is impossible to find except in black. So I'll need to get some suits I can get tailored. I have a white and black jacket that I can wear with the black skirt on Fridays. It's too casual for court, but plenty dressy enough for the office. I also have two other skirts that can be worn to the office with the black suit jacket - one is tiny black and white checks (so it appears gray) and one is a light gray, almost silvery, fabric. Both need minor tailoring (a stuck zipper and a too high slit). Still, neither is technically a suit, so those things are only good for office only days.

I bought a brown suit. I didn't wear it for a couple of weeks and then threw away the reciept. I had tried it on in the store and it looked nice. It was only weeks later that I discovered that the color in the jacket and the pants, which matched perfectly under the harsh lights of the dressing room, do nto match at all. It looks horrible, so I never wear it. I really need to get rid of it.

The biggest hole in my wardrobe is probably blouses. I have trouble since I can't wear anything button up, like a crisp white shirt, so I have to shop and shop to find blouses that work.

I'm off to shop this morning, so we will see what I can find.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

On The Go

Today, I helped Alan set up a simple system in his office for getting ready for meetings. I use a similiar system at home and at work, so i thought I'd share. I've probably mentioned it already, but I call it my Launchpad.

Basically, you should designate a space for THINGS that are leaving the house/office and a briefcase/tote/folder (whatever works for you) for PAPER that is leaving the house. I'll describe my work solution, Alan's work solution, and our home solution so you can steal whatever ideas work for you.

At work, I have a cheap rolling cart that is my launchpad. When I arrive at work and unload my laptop, my open laptop bag goes in the rolling cart. That way, I can't forget to bring my laptop home. My work tote is unloaded (to the extent necessary - if something is only used outside of the office, I don't unload it) and left open in the rolling cart. In my tote bag, I have a brown, drop-in folder labeled ERRANDS. As the day goes forward, I put anything (or have my secretary put anything) that I need for out of office meetings in the errands folder, with a post-it note serving as a label for the document which notes the date and time of the meeting (so that I can have the items for the nearest meeting in the front of the folder and meetings a long time away in back of the folder). If I have court coming up, I pull the relevant folders and put them in alphabetical order in the cart. If I need to bring something home (like a printout of my calendar for Alan), I put it in the launchpad. At the end of the day, all I have to remember is what is in the rolling cart. If it's a lot of stuff (say, because I have court), I bring the whole cart with me.

Alan has an area (a shelf) that will serve as his launchpad. His laptop case and briefcase are on the launchpad. Anything leaving the office goes in his briefcase. He actually goes to a lot of meetings, so he has a meetings folder (like my errands folder). He also has fairly regular meetings with a number of people, so he has folders nearby his launchpad with their names on them. That way, if something comes up that he wants to discuss with someone, he can drop a note in their folder. When he leaves to meet with them, he just grabs their folder.

At home, it's a little bit more thing oriented and the launchpad takes up more space, but it is REALLY IMPORTANT to a smooth life. We have a two-tiered shelf in the coat closet. The bottom tier is for stuff that is leaving the house later, like a wedding present for a wedding next month. The top tier is for stuff that is leaving the house tomorrow/today, like my purse, work bag, keys, bags for grocery shopping with a list attached, or a tote with errands to run in it, like my skirt that needs to go to the tailor. Finally, the top shelf of the closet contains seasonal items that are only used outside of the house, like hats and scarfs and gloves.

Having and using a launchpad is so simple, but saves so much time in the morning and keeps the counters from being cluttered with things that will be leaving the house "later."


Thursday, September 10, 2009


On my quest to get organized, I had to learn to let others do things for me. Not having control sucks. Sucks big rocks. Big, unorganized rocks. Just sayin'.

I was watching the Duggars one day (aside - yes, usually I disagree with them...but they are truly good people with kind hearts), and the mom mentioned how she was helping her friends and that accepting help is a good lesson in humility. It truly is. When I was on bedrest, my friend Karla offered to bring me food. She is allegedly a great cook, but I never accepted. It made me nervous. I regret that. She is wonderful and, had I showed humility, I would have accepted her offer and ate a fabulous meal.

So I am working on it. I am denying my nature. I am delegating.

Delegating at home and work is different. At work, I'm Rachel's boss. Rachel understands that I am a bit anal (if she reads this, and she might, she'll totally comment, "A bit? Ha!"). I understand that I need to leave her alone and let her do her job, which, by the way, she is much better at than I am. But because I am running a business (so, if a bill doesn't get paid, I become jobless) and am a lawyer (who can get sued or arrested for failure to do important stuff), I need to keep track of what she is doing. We have a system where all assignments (except routine filing, mail processing, answering phones, and keeping the office clean) go out by e-mail. Here's the thing, SAHMs: this system might work with your husband. Husband's read e-mail! So pay attention. :)

I send her an e-mail, with a due date, a notation if a document is attached, and a description of what to do. I keep a copy of the e-mail in a folder on my e-mail server called Rachel. And once the assignment is done, she sends me an e-mail that says DONE. If she calls in sick, I can instantly look in her e-mail folder and see what needs to be done. Oh, and the e-mail program I use sorts by date, so I can see how much I've assigned out. When I get a "DONE" e-mail, I delete both the original and the "DONE" e-mail.

At home, delegating is much harder. Alan is mostly in charge of the laundry, dishes, and deep cleaning (like the occasional dusting and vacumming before parties and the bathrooms). I am mostly in charge of day-to-day putting things away, preparing stuff to leave the house (diaper bags, birthday presents, etc.), RSVP'ing and scheduling for the family, cleaning the kitchen (except the floor, which is Alan's), the trash except on trash day (when Alan does it), and any organizing in the entire house. Mostly, we just ask each other for help when we need it.

But I am about to hire someone to help and I am nervous about making it work. I need someone to cut the grass. I'll probably call my godchild, but he is so busy with work that I might have to hire a neighbor. I'm hiring a housekeeper to come in every other week, but I suspect, right at first, she'll need to come in a couple of long sessions, because the house is THAT bad. I'm thinking I'll have her deep clean all seven rooms (kitchen, living room, guest bath, our bath, our room, Ander's room, and Loki's room), then have her regularly maintain the kitchen and the living room and our bathroom every other week, plus one bedroom a month and our guest bathroom during the other monthly visit. I think I'll make a little schedule on the fridge and attach the check and any special instructions to the schedule. I know the housekeeper, so I'll probably hide a spare key (only on the day she is coming to my house) for her to let herself in. Is it okay to leave a batch of towels to fold or sheets that are cleaned to remake the beds? I am also interested in hiring someone to grocery shop for us, especially since Alan and I basically have the same grocery list every week. I think my sister might be interested, but she's really busy, and I'm not sure if it would be worth it for her to come to Ascension Parish. On the other hand, she could shop for her own groceries and the same time, and the way she eats, my payment to her would almost cover her groceries. :)

I also delegate to the kids. Yes, Loki only turns one in a couple of weeks, but he can throw blocks back into the container. I expect him to do so and make it a game. Ander can clean the living room (put blankets in the ottoman, put pillows in his room, put toys in the poroper rooms, and put shoes away) by himself. He can clean his room with just a little guidance. He can put his plate away in the sink and his milk cup in the frig. He gets little stickers on a chart for helping, but it is expected (meaning he would get punished) anyway. Still, we try to make it fun and he is really great about it.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Task (or To Do) Lists

For Stacy. ;)

I bet since paper, pen, and mom's existed, there were "to do" lists. Even though I have a great system for my Tasks list (that I'll share below), I still use pencil and paper to make a quick list of things I'm going to do for a specific situation. For a birthday party, for example, I might make a list the day before the party of all the things that are still undone (ie. get chairs out of the closet and set up). Lists keep you from having to think. That's always nice.

If you are a pen and paper person, I strongly recommend a Master Task List and a weekly (or daily) task list, stored with your calendar. Everything gets dumped on the Master list (with a due date to the left side, if there is a due date). If something can ONLY be done ON a specific date, it is more appropriate for a calendar than a Master list. When you transfer to the Weekly list, you scratch out what is on the Master list. If the Master list is just a bunch of scratch-outs, it's time to recopy it. What a pain!

That's why I use my PDA for my Task List. Here's my top-secret, extra yummy, how-to-kick-butt-at-maintaining-a-to-list secret formula, with chocolate sprinkles on top.

First, you need to recgonize that there are things that NEVER make my Task List. If something is an appointment or can only be done on a certain date, it goes on the Calendar. For example, if I am invited to a Labor Day Bar-be-que and I am bringing the ice and brownies, my calendar shows "11 a.m. Dawn's Bar-be-que" and a note is attached to the calendar for me to bring brownies and ice. Since I CAN make the brownies (but not the ice) ahead of time, my Task List will have an entry, "make brownies", due by Labor Day (and Priority 2 and in the Home category, but I'll discuss that later ;)).

Also, I keep a legal pad at my office (and in my tote for the coffee shop and at home if I'm working from the house). If a task is to be done today, it just gets jotted on the legal pad and scratched through as I do it. Only the things not scratched out at the end of the day go on the Task List. For example, let's assume I am at the office. I might have client meetings or court. And I will need to do (or assign a new due date to) everything due today and tomorrow on my Task List. In the meantime, Rachel requests that I review and sign two letters, but as she does, a client walks in. I jot "sign letters" on the legal pad, since I can't do it right away, but will do it today. The client notes that he needs to know how much it is going to cost to serve the lawsuit. I don't check during the meeting, but jot "check lawsuit filing fees and e-mail John" on the legal pad. After the client leaves, I get up to get coffee and realize I need to assign Rachel to order cups for people visiting the office. "R - order cups" gets jotted down and then I make my coffee. Notice I don't have to stop what I am doing to deal with my Task list. At the same time, it is critical that, at the end of the day, all undone jotted to dos get put on the Task list, or this system won't work. Also, take note that if something can be done IMMEDIATELY, I don't write it down. I just do it.

Another thing that does not go on the Task List is anything routine but not especially critical. We have tons of routines. We have a routine for getting ready in the morning, that includes put diaper bag in car and make coffee. But those things do not go on the Task List. If the routine is new, it might go on the Calendar until I learn to do it (if it is really important, like taking daily medications). If many of us need to follow it (like our morning routine), the steps might be posted until we learn it. But routines, like cleaning, are not Tasks. Of course, if there is special, nonroutine cleaning, that goes on the Task List. Routines are otherwise better dealt with as a separate plan, perhaps with a calendar entry to remind you "Daily Cleaning." However, even though paying the bills and refilling the meds is routine, it needs to go on the Task List, because not having meds is bad.

So what makes the Task List cut? Pretty much everything else! Since I use a pda (and the same can be done in Outlook, I think), I can categorize things in a way that works for me. This system sounds complicated, but it works well.

First, my Task List includes two kinds of entries: to dos and projects (otherwise known as multistep to dos). Projects are my secret to keeping my Task List managable. If any to do takes two or more steps, it's a project entry. For example, one entry might be, "pick up dry cleaning." There might be a note attached, if I used a different dry cleaner because of a coupon and need directions, but likely directions are in the "Yellow Pages" section of my Contacts and not necessary. However, if I need to do all the dry cleaning by the time Alan starts his new job on Thursday, it becomes a project because there are several steps. To differentiate projects from basic to dos, to dos all start with a verb (ie. pick up) whiel a project would just have a descriptive title (is. dry cleaning). Attached is a note with due dates:

ENTRY: Priority 1 - Dry Cleaning - 09/08/09 - Category Errands
-gather all dry cleaning at home (don't forget blue suit in laundry room)
-download coupon from website for one-day overnight cleaning for blue suit
-drop off dry cleaning by 5 p.m.
@09/09: pick up blue suit
@Alan: pick up rest of dry cleaning (that I didn't have a special overnight coupon for)

Once I do the stuff listed due 09/08/09, I'll erase those things from the note and change the due date of the task to 09/09/09. Had I listed all the steps, I would have five things on my Task List and it would have looked overwhelming, especially since I can't do many of the steps until other steps are completed.

Now, I want to take about each aspect of the above entry. It doesn't matter if the Task is a to do or a project, it gets a Priority, Due Date, and Category, as well as an @ if it cannot be done until something else is done.

I sort my Task List by Due Date then Priority. Due dates are set realistically, giving me a little cushion (when possible) but not too much. For example, a birthday gift purchase might be due the day before the party. Things I just "might" want to do don't get a due date, so they naturally fall to the bottom of the list.

Priorities are as follows:

1 - MUST do. Paying mortgage is a 1. These are the things that, if you are in a coma, someone else will need to do for you. So, peeps, if I go in a coma, please have someone take care of the 1s for me. ;)
2 - Do. Most things fall in this priority level.
3 - Might do. For example, I might renew my library card, if I actually find myself using it, by January 2012. I might send a thank you note to my friend for letting me crash at her place, but if I don't, it's no biggie.
4 - Pending. All of these entries start with @, like @Alan (meaning after Alan takes care fo his part) or @09/13/09 (meaning cannot do it before that date)
5 - Maybe/Someday. For all those dreams. These usually have no date.

Categories are divided by where I can accomplish them. Anywhere (the biggest category), Home, Work, Errands, get the idea. That way, if I am at the office, I can make sure to take care of all the office stuff that is due.

I use my Task List everyday, checking it in the morning and updating it in the afternoon. That is the real key.

Okay, Stacy, questions? :)


Friday, September 4, 2009

Organizing Is Important

Alan and I had an actual argument, a week or two ago (just so you know I'm not fighting with him and then coming on-line and saying bad things...:)), about in-boxes. You see, being organized is how I deal with stress. If I haven't processed the papers in my in-box, I worry that I missed something. I don't sleep. I eat too much. It sounds silly, but it really affects my life.

So I'm going to try to write a series of mini-posts about how I organize. I welcome tips and feedback. I welcome information that might help me. I'll start simple, although you should realize that my refined system is very complicated and tailored to me and the work I do.

Some topics I plan to cover (so I can keep track):
-using a calendar
-managing your to do list
-working with an assistant
-working with e-mail
-working on the road

Let me know if there is a specific organization thing that you want to ask about. I'll try to tell you how I do it and why.


Monday, August 3, 2009


We finally have Loki trained to go to sleep. At 8:30 p.m., we tuck Ander in. We then hang with Loki for a couple of minutes, give him a last bottle if he wants one, and tuck him in. He does cry, but it no longer lasts more than a minute or so. It's just a settle down cry. And he doesn't sound like someone is torturing him while he cries, like he did at first.

However, he still gets up at 4:30 a.m. He refuses to go back to sleep. A bottle doesn't work. Nothing works, for hours, unless we put him in bed with us. The problem with that is that as soon as mommy or daddy wakes up to get ready, Loki wakes up, too. And makes a beeline for the edge of the bed. Crash.

(Those two statements were worthy of incomplete sentences.)

We can't just let him cry. He wakes the whole house and doesn't go back to sleep. But getting in bed with us is unsafe. Sigh.

In other Loki news, he climbed two steps at my mom's house today. ACK! And he can stand up without holding on if he just barely leans against me. He repeats words constantly, like "bad" or "eat." He mimics. It's scary how much faster he is reaching milestones than Ander ever did, especially the physical ones. I think it's because he chases Ander constantly.

Ander and I have been talking about mistakes and how everyone makes them. We've been talking about owning up to your mistakes and doing your best to fix them or, at least, apologize.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dinner Plans

I am trying really hard to have two family meals each week. I make things with tons of leftovers that are easy to freeze (chili, roast) or things that are quick and easy (chef salad or tacos). Brien (my friend who stayed over with us this weekend) man fun of me because I watch Food Network while I cook. I also commentate my cooing, so he thinks I'm trying to be the next Food Network star. Ha ha...if only I could cook that well!

Family meals are so stressful. Alan really doesn't cook well (so there really aren't turns), the meals require lots of dirty dishes, and sometimes it takes too much time. At the same time, we sit around the table. I can afford to buy slightly more flavor (veggie sides, better meats) if we all eat. And I don't have to eat THE EXACT SAME FOOD EVERYDAY. But, ugh, it really is a lot of work.

This week will be particularly hard. We have a weeknight Little Gym makeup class and a preschool open house (I think, since I haven't gotten a phone call yet). Plus we have a jammed packed weekend coming up and then a vacation, so I won't be around home much.

I want to be one of those people who cook supper every night. Except for the detail that those people are insane.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

School Supplies

Since Ander is going to a small, at-home preschool in the Fall, we had a short list of school supplies to buy for him. It was really short and reasonable, including things like fat crayons, blunt scissors, and glue. We made a big deal of it and took a trip to Target today.

Ugh! They were out of, or just don't carry, much of the list. They had the 8 pack of fat crayons, but they were in a separate section of the store from the rest of the colors and were $3 instead of 30 cents, like the 24 pack. They didn't have nap mats, even though every preschooler around here is required to get one. (i had been warned about nap mats by my school teacher sister and had grabbed one at Wal-mart the day they put them out.)

They were out of construction paper. Who runs out of construction paper in JULY? I mean, they had to know construction paper is on every supply list, right? Big, empty space on shelf where it would be.

There was no empty space for primary colored Play-doh (as they only sell pink and orange and bright girly blue), there were only two 2 inch binders in the whole store that costs less than $7 (Ander begged for the pink one...I really wanted to just get it, but I thought he might regret it when none of the other boys have pink), and there was no art smock (though the teacher said an oversized t-shirt is fine, so we might do that).

I'm sure, with the exception of the art smock, that these things are purchased by parents across Baton Rouge EVERY SINGLE why don't the stores order these things?


Monday, July 13, 2009

Sleep Training

This morning, before the sun came up, I had a 4 a.m. meltdown. It was not pretty.

Loki will sleep one way - tucked under me. He goes to sleep just fine. A bit of cuddling and he goes in his crib and sleeps, usually until about midnight. Then...


He will scream until we put him in our bed. And then, for fun, he wakes every hour or so and wails, just long enough to wake us up. He then goes back to sleep, with no assistance from us. Occasionally, he wakes to nurse. Other than during the night, we are fully weaned, so I hate to say no. But nursing five or six times a night is NOT acceptable.

We never did real crying it out with Ander. Instead, we did a version where we sat on the floor and patted him on the back and hummed, so we weren't talking to him but he knew we were there, until he fell asleep. But with Loki, putting him to bed is NOT the problem. And waking up at 4 a.m. to pat and hum is exceedingly difficult.

What to do? I need to sleep. I really cannot function like this. I can't drive the boys to childcare like this. I keep getting sick. I NEED SLEEP.


Friday, July 10, 2009

When Mom Gets Sick

I'm so tired of being sick. I have some sort of virus right now. I knocked me out yesterday and this morning. I felt better this afternoon, but tonight, my stomach is upset again, the cough is back, and I feel weak and beat up. Don't get the wrong impression...I'm not ER-level ill. If I wasn't on Facebook, no one would notice I was sick at all. I was caught up, pretty much, at the office, so this illness won't totally derail me there. And most of it seems to be landing on the weekend. Plus, Alan took off today and did childcare (and cut the grass and did laundry), so we are fine.

But getting sick is so hard when you are the mom. There are so many things that only I can do. Loki was trying to nurse, and on one hand, it's important to give him antibodies. On the other, I was close to dehydration and exhausted. The chores I normally do - like cleaning off the counter and bringing the boys to a playdate - fell on Alan, so mostly didn't get done. Not that he didn't work hard, but he is busy doing his own chores and caring for kids mostly by himself.

It's so unfair. I've been washing my hands like crazy, but I touch my laptop keyboard and then Alan does. Ander kisses me with no regard for germs. Loki, well, slobbering all over me. So I'd better rest up, because round two could hit them anytime.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Preschool Is Going To Cramp My Lifestyle

Preschool starts August 10. We've selected an at-home preschool program, taught in a little building behind the teacher's home. There will be six three year olds in the class, where the kids will have a typical preschool curriculum of numbers and letters and stories and art projects. I've read the handbook, put the school supplies on my shopping list, and explained to Ander every morning, on the drive to work, about what his day will be like when he has preschool.

But my day is going to suck.

Right now, unless I have court (maybe twice to three times a month), I don't have to be at work until 9:30 a.m. Understand, I am generally there by 8:30 a.m., even with dropping the kids with my mom. But if there is a blowout on the way out the door, or a mildly sick kid who wants to sleep in for thirty extra minutes, or I need gas in the car, I can arrive late. Usually, I get up as Alan leaves the house at 7ish. I get the boys dressed and ready and get myself ready and go. I give them a small snack (usually, it's a glass of milk for Ander and nurse and/or baby cookie for Loki), but don't have to feed them breakfast. My mom feeds them.

But preschool serves breakfast from 7:30 to 8 a.m. Frankly, I am not going to leave the house with two kids, one of whom still keeps me up half the night, at 7 a.m. to get there in time. That means that I have to feed Ander breakfast and get to preschool around 8 a.m. It's a half hour away, so we need a plan.

I think Alan will start waking Ander at 6:30 a.m., bringing him potty, and giving him breakfast in front of cartoons. I'll need to start getting up at 6:30 a.m. instead of 7 a.m., which sounds like not-a-big-deal, until you consider that I am up all night long with Loki. Sigh. I'll get up, feed and change Loki, shower and dress, and then change Ander and get the kids in the car by 7:30 a.m. Yuck.

Plus, we already planned a vacation - for the first week of school. We'll go the first and second day, and then leave for vacation. Great.

Oh, and I often work from home on Fridays. I still might, sometimes, but it means Ander missing school. :( I know he only really needs about two to three days a week right now (all we could find is a five day program), but I don't want to teach him that school isn't important.

I suspect we'll have to be more strict about bedtime, too, and that will suck. Right now, we sort of eat, clean up, check our fb, bathe the boys, get them ready, read some books, and go to bed. The time varies, depending how long everything takes, from 8:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. If the boys seem tired, we put them down earlier. If they napped good, they go down later. I don't think that's going to continue to work.

Ugh. Preschool hasn't even started and it's a pain.


Monday, July 6, 2009

I Had This Great Blog All Figured Out

It was about buying only what you need, checking quality before price, and using coupons (something I never have found a good system for doing).

But I had four urgent phone calls regarding work this morning, no morning sitter, juvenile court this afternoon, and was briefly in the presence of a cat. Cat's make me feel like I am going to die. Slowly. Painfully. And then sneeze and then gasp and then die again. I hate cats.

So no good blog about being a better consumer.


That's all I got.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Religious Discomfort

I was raised Catholic. No matter what Catholics do - pray the Rosary, say Grace, or make the sign of the cross while driving in front of a church - I rarely feel uncomfortable with it. I don't always agree with everything the Church teaches, but I try to make sure that, when I disagree, it's a well-thought out and prayerful decision of conscience, and not just laziness. (For example, I disagree with the ban on women as priests. But I thought about it, prayed about it, read about it, and tried to see all the arguments for it BEFORE deciding that I would not act in accordance with that Church teaching. Okay, that one's a cop-out, since I am not called to religious life anyway.) Sometimes, when people pray for something that I disagree with, I find myself reflecting on the arguments for the other side of the issue in my head. But that's not the same as discomfort.

And if I feel really removed from a religion, the ceremonies and practices of that religion rarely cause me discomfort. I think I would be very comfortable at a Wiccan ceremony or a Buddhist ceremony, learning what I can and observing the ritual and finding peace with the ideas (whether I agree or not), because the religions are so foreign to me that I feel like an observer.

But other Christian religions and some of their practices make me very uncomfortable. It's a silly visceral reaction, really, because either 1) I believe what they believe and just express it differently or 2) I don't believe what they believe, so I should feel like a mere observer.

Take a pictures in Alan's home high school yearbook, for example. The teacher had his arms spread away from him like wide wings and there was a caption about prayer. (1989...AFTER teacher-led prayer in schools was established to violate the First Amendment. But I digress.) Teacher-led prayer in public school has always been a problem for me, particularly because of the discomfort I personally feel (and even felt as a child) when the religious is close to mine in belief (say, a non-Catholic Christian) but not in specifics and practice. The picture of the teacher made me shifty, uncomfortable, and, if I am to be totally honest, a bit nauseous. That said, I don't have any problem in theory with this person praying, whether he is bowing to Mecca, chanting to the ancient gods, or worshipping Jesus. Yet I have a physical reaction of slight revulsion (only accentuated by the fact that he was a public school teacher and soem children in the class were forced to participate).

Tonight or tomorrow, Alan and I probably have to attend a funeral of a great-uncle of Alan's that neither of us really know. I am bracing myself for the religious dfiscomfort, because it will be at a Baptist service. I'm sure there will be talk of hell and damnation (which really bothers me at a funeral) and, maybe, just perhaps, someone will raise his arms in a salute to Jesus. And I'll break out in hives, despite my insistence at maintaining tolerance of other beliefs and learning and observing what I can from other religions.

This is abnormal, yes?


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why Do You People Read This Crap?

I mean, seriously, I don't write anything interesting. Take today's topic - packing for a trip to MIL's house. Scintillating stuff, really. No mention of Michael Jackson (okay, this one) or Farrah (except here). Yet you still read. Imagine...


I've got my master packing list. It needs to be tweaked to involve a trip to the campground and potential water play outdoors, but it's basically all good. Nonetheless, it's hard to decide HOW to divide up the stuff. Do I pack the diaper bag for the trip up and down? Or do I pack the diaper bag for the trip up, and supplement on the way down with stuff that I pack separately? For example, we probably need three diapers for the drive up. Do I just put the rest of the diapers for the weekend in a separate tote bag? There's no right answer. The bottom line is a baby and a potty-trainer require too much stuff. :(

Alan and I have to pack separate suitcases, too, because I don't share space. Weird and anal, sure, but true. Plus, the boys have just enough stuff that they may need two small suitcases.

Do I bring a small stroller? The big one? The double? Can I even fit one?

Is it rude to bring snacks for myself? MIL has tons of food, but it's slightly off of my tastes. That's fine for one day, but not for several. For example, she might have bread, but it's white (gross) and not wheat. Or she will have oatmeal, but instead of plain, or cinnamon, or maple, or any of the thousand varieties I am fine with eating, she will randomly have peach. Peach! Yucky. Do I have room to pack food?

Not only are you reading my stream-of-consciousness, but I am not offering solutions - only questions. Hmmm.

Maybe I should have napped when the boys did.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Inspired by Green. Hooked by My OCD Nature.

Today was the first time that Alan and I used the reusable grocery bags for shopping. I've already used the bags. Yesterday, when we needed to take swim supplies (suits, swimmie diapers, towel, and sunscreen) for the boys with us to a party, my book bag was already filled with my weekly stash of library books and my errands tote was already packed with extra diapers and baby food for daycare. So I grabbed an ugly dark lime green reusable grocery bag for the swim gear and away we went. But today, we were using them for their intended purpose - to save the planet by creating less waste.

I thought they would be a pain to use. I had gotten over the what-if-I-forget-them-at-home angst by assuring myself that when I forget them, I'll get the plastic bags that we still use, on ocassion, for especially stinky diapers, lining the frig shelf when there is a leaky cooked meat product, and lining waste baskets. I had dealt with the fact that they all come with obnoxious logos by getting ones where the logo was hard to read. I had braced myself for the inevitable "green" jokes at the grocery store. (Well, I thought I had. I still blabbered like an idiot when the lady in front of me, clearly a Republican, said, "like your bags." And when the cashier asked if she loaded them like I wanted them loaded...and followed up with raised eyebrows and a snide "using plastic?" when I wrapped the uncooked chicken breasts in plastic, it was all I could do to not lecture her about landfills and smog, but whatever.)

They were AWESOME INCREDIBLE THE-BEST-SYSTEM-SINCE-THE-PDA. {stops jumping up and down} What I mean to say (maturely) is that they were very nice. Very nice indeed.

We brought five bags. Once the boys were in the carts (we use two, so each boy can sit in the front of one), we opened the five bags in one of the carts. We used the other cart for the big stuff - canned drinks, diapers, and the air filter. But in the cart with the bags, we loaded the bags as we went through the store. Frozen foods went in one. Frig foods in another. There was one for pantry items and another for bathroom or kitchen counter items (like baby food). When we got to checkout, we opened the fifth, empty bag on the conveyor belt. Behind it, we unloaded the pantry food. Then we put that empty bag, opened nicely, on the belt. Behind it, we unloaded the frozen food. And so on.

The cashier didn't have any extra work, since the bags were ready and waiting.

The exciting part, though, is that she was FORCED to load the groceries the way we like it. She couldn't put cans on top of the bread because the bread was behind the next bag. Cold food wasn't placed with the crackers to dampen the cardboard box, since she couldn't physically get to the cold foods and the crackers at the same time. Also, though the bags were a smidge heavier than usual, there were fewer (only the five) and they fit over my shoulder by the straps if I need to carry a hefty baby on my hip. Plus, I felt secure that, for once, my milk wasn't going to fall out of the bag and splatter all over the floor.

Once I add a binder clip to the main bag with a Master grocery list (printed out so we can circle what we need) and any coupons for the week, it will be the perfect system.

Why didn't I spend the FIVE DOLLARS it cost years ago to do this? It is so much more convenient and organized. (And - bonus - Loki and Ander might just be able to live out their lives on Earth.)


Hugs and Kisses

I went to two birthday parties yesterday, At one, the recipient was an adorable one year old. His mommy thanked everyone for the gifts after she helped him open them. At the other, the nine year old birthday girl, who lives out of state and doesn't know us really well, was told by her parents to stop unwrapping after each gift, find the person who gave them the gift, and give them a hug and say thanks.

I'm no Ms. Manners, certainly. I believe manners are terribly important, mostly because they help keep peace and serenity. But I don't handwrite thank you notes after a child's birthday party. I guess I'm a manners moderate.

But I thought it was awkward and unnecessary to have a little girl hug every single guest at the party. And I thought it was crazy time-consuming to seek out the gift-givers, return to the area where the little kids were watching the opening of gifts, open the next gift, and walk away to search again. It dragged things on beyond the patience of kids.

I note with appreciation the parents' intent to teach politeness. I suspect my discomfort with the whole thing comes from my aversion to hugging people. Couldn't the nine year old just say thanks? Maybe, if you really want to show appreciation, she could go around AFTER unwrapping all the gifts and thank people personally?

I think it even goes beyond politeness at birthday parties. It's the whole expectation that kids have to hug and kiss everyone goodbye that bothers me. Grandma? Yes, she gets a hug and kiss. But if your toddler sees his great uncle twice a year or your preschooler sees his aunt once every month or two, why should he has to let them into his personal space and hug them. Couldn't he just politely wave to people he barely knows, like grown-ups do? Isn't it scary and weird to hug someone that, though mom and dad may know them well, is practically a stranger?


Working Out

I keep gaining weight. I'm nursing less (a LOT pretty much totally weaned for daytime feeds...HaPPy DaNCe!!!) and have been really busy with Alan working overtime. I'm been working out some, riding my bike on weekend mornings and walking with the boys, but the weather has had nothing but record heat for a week or two, so I've been dormant.

I really need to buy some workout tapes. I can do those with the boys around and even if it's hot. I hesitate to buy them, because they are repetitive, can get expensive, and aren't as fun as being outdoors to work out. But I guess I need to face the very real obstacle in my path. It's too hot to work out outside and the boys are too much trouble to take all the way to a gym.

I'm trying to make better food choices, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. Without working out, my body just doesn't lose weight. I know this. I don't even mind the workout, per se, as it makes me feel better. (I mind the extra dirty laundry and the time required to shower twice in a day and the heat, but not the workout itself.) I just don't have time to do everything.

But working out is something I need to do. My kids needs to see me doing it.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cheaper By The Dozen

I unload the dishwasher bottom shelf first, then top shelf. First, I unload and put away anything that belongs in the area over the stove, like plates and bowls. Then, I unload the big stuff, like pots and pans, and put them in the cabinets under the island. Next I do silverware. Then knifes that go on the counter in the knife block. Finally, I move from the left to the right through things that belong in the left, middle, and right cabinet.

Why does that matter?

I would argue it matters because my system is quick and efficient. I deal with the huge assignment (shut up - you know you don't want to unload the dishwasher either because it is overwhelming...and, well, if it's not, come unload mine) in manageable chuncks. I don't have to think about it.

Other, more cynical sorts, would argue that my OCD makes me obsess in the middle of the night about how to improve my system and blogging about it is the only way to get the thoughts out of my brain (and into your reading diet...HA HA).

I never liked the cynical sort. They are right way too often.

By the way, I handle almost everything I tackle (writing a pleading, preparing for trial, cleaning off the island, packing for vacation) the same way - break it into small, spacially-related steps and do it a chunck at a time.

Two points to whoever understands the reference in the title.


Friday, June 26, 2009


I don't like Westerns. I hate shot them up space shows (like Star Wars...icky).

So why is it that I've watched the entire Firefly series as many times as I've read Harry Potter?

I'm fascinated by the relationships. The Shepard who brings respect to the Companion (translation for nonfans: high class legal prostitute). The Doctor who is awkward. The Pilot who doesn't understand his value, but is secure enough as a man to marry the strongest Warrior Woman I've ever seen. The Captain who loves his crew like he wishes God loved him.

I wish I knew such complex, brave characters in real life. I think of a few of my friends and know they have the potential for such stories inside of them. But, mostly, people in real life are concerned with what shows to wear or what to watch on tv. In today's society, relationships are second to the daily grind. Relationships are based on things rather than character traits.

I think I'm going to move towards discovering and respecting character more than I have. I'm going to spend more time interacting with people and less on the daily grind. I'm going to find some Serenity.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Kids Need Their Daddy Back

Alan worked until 4 a.m. last night. Then, he got up for work at 6 a.m. this morning. That's 2 hours of sleep.

In theory, I wasn't working and got to sleep a lot.

In theory only.

I stayed up until about 12:30 in the morning. I just can't sleep without my husband next to me. Then I feel sound asleep.

Tick tock. Tick tock. 25 minutes pass as I begin to enter REM sleep.


Loki is awake. I barely slept all night and then got up with Alan at 6 a.m., so I could see my husband for a few minutes. Tonight, when he arrives home, I will exhausted. But he'll need sleep more than me, so I'll stay up. And he wonders how I manage to not get enough work done during his overtime season.

I can't wait for a vacation. I need some solid sleep. I can't function this way. One parent with a job and two kids feels like having a newborn. Yawn.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tweaking the "Arrive Home" Routine

Arrival at home used to be a real problem. Both boys were starving half the time. Both wanted attention. The stuff in my car (for example, dirty lunch containers, milk on ice, and wet towels) HAD to be brought into the house. It was chaos.

(Aside for credit - a quick thank you shoutout to my friend Misty for her ideas regarding workboxes.)

As part of my night time routine, I've been preparing stuff to LEAVE the house. But now, I also prep stuff for when we get home. I make three workboxes (more on those below) for Ander and leave them out on the kitchen table.

Being self-employed and picking up my kids up from my mom seems to suck up afternoon time. I've made it a goal, despite those challenges, to get home an hour before supper time. When I get home now, Ander has to 1) potty, 2) do any chores that are needed, like clear out toys from the living room, 3) do the three workboxes, and 4) eat supper, before he gets to either go on a walk with Mommy or play with Daddy. If Mommy is home alone and it's too hot to walk, THEN he gets a movie. All three are really fun for him, so it motivates him (and forces me to workout).

Meanwhile, Loki watches a Baby Einsteins DVD while playing with toys and then eats supper (while Ander eats, so we are all visiting together). I still eat after that, because it's too hard to eat all together and still feed Loki.

Mommy clears out the car, supervises the boys, and makes supper while Ander completes the workboxes. It works out MUCH better than before, when I tried to entertain the boys the whole time.

As an added bonus, the workbox idea is fabulous. I put out three activities. I try to do an easy, totally self-directed activity, then an activity that takes Mommy's help, and a third activity that is really exciting. Ander can see all three and wants to do them, so he works them pretty cooperatively.

Yesterday, we first colored a picture and added Color Wonder glitter paint. We worked on writing the letter A to show it was by Ander. Then, he had a fine motor skills activity where he put stickers on a picture and colored within the raised lines the stickers left over. Finally, we made play-dough cookies.

Today, we colored a page and worked on the letter A and spelling Andersen outloud as Mommy wrote it. (We color a lot in the first activity, both because that is when I'm most busy with Loki and because he needs the practice holding pens and crayons.) Then, we took a free hurricane map I got at Subway and used pennies to track hurricane routes (from the water to the boot-shaped Louisiana) and our evacuation route to Grandma's house. (We've been talking about hurricanes on our way to and from work everyday.) Finally, we took a puzzle with animals on it and wrote a story about animals. I would write a sentence, like, "The cow mooed at the..." and he would pick a puzzle piece, like the chicken, and finish the sentence. I would write chicken. He would put a period at the end of the sentence and then out the piece in the puzzle. The task works on listening, story-telling, learning the direction of written English words, ending sentences with periods, and holding a pencil correctly. Plus, he LOVED it. He thought it was great fun!

I haven't done a theme because I really have to vary the activities based on what is easily available and how much time I have to work with him. (For example, if Loki did not cooperate, Ander could have just done the animal puzzle without the story.) Plus, I only want to do about 20 to 30 minutes of activity. It's enough that he can focus as long as the activities are interesting.

This one-on-one interaction leaves me time to get supper ready, clean out the car, and make supper. But it really is one-on-one interaction, from Ander's prospective, because Mommy helps him get his colors, tells him stories about hurricanes (while warming leftover frozen pizza...that's fine parenting), and makes cool animal noises while he plays with his favorite puzzle. Loki thinks it's pretty funny, too, and loves that he gets to play with his toys WITHOUT Ander stealing them away and Mommy fussing at Ander for stealing them away.

I'm glad I did this.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Sometimes, Your Spouse Sends You An E-mail...

...that innocently asks, "How did swim lessons go?"

Sometimes, the reply is worthy of a blog entry:

"Would me bursting into tears be too dramatic?

He refused to get undressed. Timeout.
He refused to take off his shoes. Timeout.
He refused to let me put on sunscreen. Timeout.

He refused to get in the pool, but I told him Sue was in charge and left. My errands took the whole hour (because I had to go to the clerk's office for a client) and when I got back, he was swimming a bit (though mostly hanging on to Sue). When he saw me, he started crying and begging to get out. Sue, to her credit, said, "I know you want to get out, but class isn't over. So you can sit quietly on the step and have no fun for the next five minutes, or we can try swimming like a puppy dog a little bit more." After a bit, he swam.


Then we went to Subway (because I didn't have lunch made for today). In line, I told him to give people "personal space" since he was pushing into the man in front of him. When we were sitting down, eating our lunch, he suddenly pointed his finger at a woman in line, where we had been standing earlier, and announced, "She is in my personal space. Make her move." Sigh.

Loki seems to be feeling better. He's been mostly sleeping.


Friday, June 19, 2009

The Submissive Wife

Title got your attention? Ha.

I'm not the submissive sort. (Oh, you hadn't noticed?) I was reading tabloid junk about Jon and Kate Plus 8 (yes, that's the sort I am...sad, isn't it) and the author of the tabloid article joked that Kate would announce that she was becoming a submissive wife, as explained in a book by the title The Submissive Wife. I clicked the wikipedia link and got sucked in.

I'm also reading a book called Eve (copyright 2009, about the first woman), so the topic is popping up in my life lately. (Good book, so far. Worth reading.)

I never quite understand a relationship where the wife (or either spouse) is submissive. The freedom in not having to make decisions or have the primary responsibility? I get that. I MAYBE could understand that.

The part I can't understand, frankly, is wanting a submissive wife in your life. What Alan and I have, the sharing of responsibility, is so important. I couldn't possibly take it all on myself. Neither could he. We are better people because we act as a team. Sure, there are areas where I make most or all of the decisions. And there are areas where he does. But those divisions are because of our strengths, weaknesses, and interests - not our genders.

I know I have friends where the husband is clearly head of the household. I have friends in such relationships where it doesn't work (because husband is a power-hungry dictator) and friends where it does work (because husband respects his wife and treats her kindly). But I just can't imagine the draw to such a relationship. I can't envision why one would be a part of such a relationship. I can't imagine that it's a stronger relationship than equality.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

In Discipline News


{Deep breathing}

There, all better.

We decided on the 6-kid home-based preschool near my office. If offers what we are looking for without a huge price tag and we can move up to something bigger next year. Don't you feel all updated and stuff? ;)

So on to discipline issues.


Ander was the sweetest little 2 year old. He would listen and do his very best to obey. He wanted people happy and would try to please them. And then came 3.

(On a related-but-only-through-stream-of-consciousness note, Loki was a pleasant, sweet, nonmobile 7 month old. 9 months tomorrow...and he now insists on hiding around the corner, setting off the carbon monoxide detector, and eating anything he can touch. Ander tells him, "No no, Loki. If you touch that again, Mommy will put you in jail." Lol. Jail is a pack 'n play and it's never used for more than a few seconds, unless I'm in the bathtub, but you make one joke in front of the 3 year old and bam - you are stuck with it.)

We have a Chart. On his chart, Ander can earn checks (20 = 1 Book Buck for spending at the bookstore) for getting dressed cooperatively or picking up his toys. It's the three year old version of a chore chart, since there's no consequence for not doing the stuff, but there will be when he is older.

We have Timeout. We strive to use the Supernanny method to the letter. Warning at eye level in a calm voice, 3 minute timeout, brief explanation, sorries, and hugs and kisses. We are so far from perfect, but pretty consistent. We use timeout for disobedient behavior, like hitting or refusing to follow directions. If the behavior involves an object, like hitting the wall with a bat, the object goes into timeout.

We have Chillout. Chillout is offered (okay, mandated or you get a timeout) when a 3year old shouts "NO!" at another person, runs like a mad person around the house, or has a temper tantrum. The preschooler is sent to his room to calm down. He can play with toys or whatever it takes, but can't come back until he is calm. It works pretty well in each separate instance, but happens far too often. Sometimes, it might happen five or six or more times in a single day. But it seems much more appropriate than the more confrontational timeout when I know Ander is just frustrated versus disobeying.

We have Steps. Special Agent Oso, on the Disney Channel, uses "three steps" to get his missions done. So Ander's missions have three steps, as I've described in a previous blog post.

Finally, I've recently introduced The Rules: Nice Hands, Walking Feet (when indoors or on a hard surface), Listening Ears, Watching Eyes (for making sure you can see the grownup in charge unless you are in your room or have permission to be out of sight), and Nice Mouth (for kind words and inside voice when inside). We review the rules daily and before big things, like swimming lessons. We make motions with our hands (like binocular eyes when discussing Watching Eyes) when reviewing the rules, because kids learn by doing and listening and watching and teaching, and not just by hearing.

But we are still having major discipline struggles. I know some of it is just normal 3 year old stuff. But he seems angry. And mean. And like he has no care that things might be taken away. Like timeout is whatever.

So I'm thinking of adding something. Maybe it's the school teacher in me, but I think you can never have too many tools.

I'm thinking of, first, making a big cutout of a person, with a red circle for a mouth, blue circles for ears, green circles for eyes, purple circles for hands, and yellow circles for feet. I'll post The Rules on the person so Ander can be reminded, visually. (He obviously can't read, but I can point to the yellow feet and ask him what that means. He'll learn walking feet fast enough, especially since I've already introduced it.)

Second, I'm considering making a consequence ladder, with a duplicate of Mr. Rules climbing up and down on it. (I'll make the ladder on a sturdy, large bookmark with a large paperclip holding Mr. Rules so it's easy to display but portable.) Mr. Rules will start each day in neutral territoty. For exceptional behavior (which I will warn about beforehand), Mr. Rules moves up and gets nonmonetary awards - hug from parent, parent tells Ander a story (one of his favorite things that we NEVER take the time to do), or, if he is really good, parent plays a game with him. (Pictures of people hugging, a book, and a game will indicate the rewards.) Going up will happen only when I give him an opportunity (such as when I tell him that we are going to the park and, if he doesn't go in timeout and leaves without arguing, he goes up) or when an outside grown-up compliments his behavior (such as Aunt saying he was very good at her house this afternoon).

Going down happens with each bad outside report or any timeout (since timeouts only happen after a warning, so it seems fair). Each step adds another consequence for the rest of the day. The first consequence would be unplugged (no radio, tv, or internet - yes, my 3 year old loves the internet, sigh) until he moves back up through earning it or the next day, whichever comes first), then untoyed (no toys except in his room, which would really cramp his playing style), then bed only (in his bed until he earns back privilege). He can move up from negative territory by 1) the day passing, 2) opportunity or outside adult compliments behavior, as explained above), or 3) doing a special, and decidedly unpleasant, chore of parents choosing (allowing him a chance to earn back priviledges, but not easily).

It sounds complex, but to him, it would be a really simple chart on display. The details are really for me to think it out, so I act predictably and consistently. I didn't think we would need this with a 3 year old, but things are crazy and I think we do. :(


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Give 'Em Something To Talk About

The daycare dilemma gets more exciting today, as there are now two options.

Option One is a big daycare near my home that comes well recommended. It has extended day, a 4-year-old program (which we will need next year), and tons of fun, special activities. According to my cousin Stac, whose kids went there, it also has some turnover. Also, it means dropping Ander off in town and driving 30 minutes to work to drop Loki off. It's $115 per week, year-round.

Option Two is a mile (or less) from my office. It's an at-home preschool with 6 students. It's only $85 per week. It's only during the school year, but mom could definitely still watch Ander next summer, or we could transition to the bigger preschool then. It does not require that he be fully potty-trained, either. The hours are shorter (7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.), but I have lots of backup babysitters in the town where I work, plus it's less than two minutes from my mom or my office. I could literally walk there and back to my office. The biggest disadvantage is that the lady teaching the class only has substitute teaching experience. But she is following a curriculum that is very popular in my parish and I've seen it work really well with other kids.

Ugh. I have to decide.

Alan needs to be home, but we don't have time to wait until he is home to decide. :(


Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Attitude is B A D

Ugh! Ander yells "NO!" or talks about anytime we say something lately. Little Gym was better this week, because we worked on the rules, but it still wasn't good. He doesn't pay any attention and wanders off. At age 2, this kid had the attention span of the average adult. What happened? And he used to be sweet! Argh!!!

I've been trying three things, which are new things but seem to be helping so far. I am open to other suggestions, too.

First, I am copying the Disney channels Special Agent Oso and making three step instructions for things. So I'll say, "Special Agent Ander, your mission is to put on your shoes. Step one, set up your shoes. Step two, put your feet in. Step three, buckle them up." He seems to find this fun. My favorite is when he says he cannot do something, like zip up his backpack. "Step one, take a deep breath. Step two, try again. Step three, ask an adult to help." He was tickled at step two when it zipped and shouted that he didn't need an adult to help.

Second, we are sending him away to calm down and come out nice. It's not a timeout (like he would get for refusal to listen to instructions or hitting). It's just, "you are shouting at mommy. Go into your room and calm down. Once you are calm, come back and tell mommy nicely." It's working somewhat. Yesterday, he even did it himself when he realized he was getting worked up. But he is spending, well, lots of time in his room. :(

Third, he now has three rules everywhere we go. Ears, eyes, and mouth. They vary slightly, depending on where we are going, but we review them before each situation. We make listening ears, watching eyes, and a nice mouth with our hands as we review them, to help him remember the three rules. For example, before a presentation at the library, we reviewed, "Listen to the grownups, use watching eyes to see mommy so you can stay nearby, and a nice mouth at a library means inside voice." We especially practiced watching eyes, since staying in sight of me at the library was important with so many other kids there. (Not that I would lose him if he ran away. The library has a train. That IS where he would be. :)) At Little Gym, we still used ears, eyes, and mouth, but the rules were slightly different. "Use listening ears to listen to the teacher, watching eyes to see where the other kids are and stay with them, and nice mouth to ask to potty if you need to." I find the physical act of putting his hand cupped around each body part helps him remember, plus he can remember three things (just barely...sigh).

Bonus points for anyone who can suggest a way to get Loki to quite setting off the carbon monoxide detection, which cannot be moved out of reach because of the layout of my house. ;)


Tuesday, June 9, 2009


We are considering a preschool for Ander. I've already mentioned cost, but I need to think it out even more.

For a 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. day, it costs $90 a week. For extended care, it's $115 per week. That might not sound like a whole lot, but keep in mind that we pay nothing right now. To fit this into our budget, we would add the cost of a couple of car notes. That sure seems like a lot to me.

I'm very tempted to do the $90 per week, but then I cannot head get to the office until 9, would have to leave by 2:30 p.m., and would have to take Ander with me to my mom's whenever I have court, even if something exciting is going on at school.

Another consideration is that I will now have to do two dropoffs and pickups each day. Anyone with kids knows that transitions are a very difficult part of the day. Four a day, plus packing the's overwhelming. If we do extended day, I'd probably ask Alan to do drop off on Mondays and Tuesdays (since those tend to be my busiest days at work), plus whenever I have court in the morning on another day of the week and NOT on the Mondays when I have afternoon court. On those days, Ander would be there from 7 a.m. until about 3:30 p.m. That sounds like a long day, but I just can't cut anything more from my workday and still keep any flexibility for taking time off for important things. On Wednesdays,Thursdays, and Fridays I would do dropoff (around 8 a.m.) and pickup (between 3 and 4 p.m.). I am sorely tempted to have Alan drop-off everyday, but that seems like such a long day for Ander.

Another issue is that, while I am certain Ander is ready for some level of preschool, I'm not sure he is ready for five days a week yet. I wish I could find a nearby two day a week program, but without the extended care, it's probably not feasible. The Mother's Day Out programs seem to be 8-12 or 9-2. That leaves me no time to actually work!

Finally, he must be completely potty trained.

Yah, right. Like that is going to happen.


Monday, June 8, 2009

So Tired

Mommies really should get a vacation. Between working out and Loki screaming, I am beat. I have a full plate of paperwork today, but I can barely keep my eyes open. Surely, I'll get in a nap at some point. Right? Hopefully?

Loki is officially (and quickly) crawling now. You would think he would be happier. Instead, he seems frustrated at all the new things he is not allowed to have.

Ander is moody and simply ignores us lately.

It's going to be a long week.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sleeping Through the Night

I'm not a fan of letting a baby cry it out. Honestly, I don't know if I could let Loki cry until he falls asleep. I have no problem with a bit of fussing, as I believe having to wait a minute teaches a child to deal and have patience, but full on crying - we don't do it. (Well, we do, with Ander. But Ander is old enough to understand that we love him but won't give in to his fits.)

That said, I HAVE to do something. Loki is keeping me up all night. He screams and cries, at random, even when we are co-sleeping. Some nights, he nurses a lot. Others, he refuses to nurse at all.

I am so sleepy, even with Alan doing the crib runs (getting him from the crib when Loki screams EXACTLY FIFTEEN MINUTES AFTER I ENTER REM SLEEP EVERY SINGLE NIGHT...sigh...and putting him in our bed), that I'm scared I'm going to crash my car on the commute. I literally cannot keep my eyes open. It is bad.

I don't think I can fit in a daytime nap. Take today's schedule, for example. Wake at 6:45 to nurse Loki. Bring Ander potty. Get both kids and myself ready and leave the house to arrive at mom's at 8:30 a.m. Then, I eat breakfast, check work e-mail, return one client phone call, and it's 9:30 a.m. Get Ander ready for playdate at the library at 10 a.m. Return at 12:30 to my mom's, eat lunch, and I only have about two hours left to work before childcare is done. If I nap, that takes up the work time. Sigh.

With Ander, we did a more gentle sleep training, where we went in the room and patted his back, and stayed nearby when he was awake, but didn't talk to him. But I think Ander was older.

I've heard people say that having a child means lack of sleep and parents choose it, so they should just deal. Those people are judgmental prats. (There, I said it. Ha!) Most important in this equation is that I'm falling asleep while driving my children, so something has to change.

But I don't think Alan or I can handle Loki crying. It's not even a philosophical objection. It's a physiological one.


Monday, June 1, 2009

13 Years

My husband and I have been married for 13 years, as of yesterday. You'd think 13 years would be long enough to get into a household maintenance groove. You'd be wrong?

I have no idea which of us, for example, is in charge of calling the termite guy. But for three years, we've put off termite treatment. I'm scared to call now, because what if we have termites? It would be our own fault. In theory, I should call. I am the one who will likely stay home to meet the termite guy, so my schedule matters. But Alan pays the bills and would probably want to negotiate the costs and decide when to pay the bill.

When we work together to dress the kids, it's a disaster. I get clothes out and get Loki dressed. Three minutes later, Loki is wearing something else? Why? Oh, right, hubby didn't know I had already changed Loki.

Prepping the night before works miracles for me in the mornings. When Alan takes the kids to their baths, I put everything together for the next day. But with two kids, Alan needs help. It sucks because I pay in the mornign, but two slippery kids really do require two adults at some point.

Ugh. Think after 26 years it will all be easier?


Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Moment of Silence

No, I meam actual, real live silence. It's not just a dream, I promise! It's 7 p.m., husband is not home yet, but the kids are potty'ed, changed, and feed. I've had a somewhat healthy supper of pasta salad with vinegar, lemon juice, garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, and a bit of hard cheese, plus half my usual serving of chili cheese toast. Alan is leaving work (before 9 p.m....yippee!). Harry Potter is on the tv and Ander and I are watching it together while Loki, whose been a cranky bear, sleeps.

Okay, I broke my promise. TV is not silence. But it's close. My island in my kitchen is cleaned off. It's a little thing, but it keeps me so much more organized. The reds/purples are in the dryer. The dishes aren't done, due to the sleeping baby, but there aren't many since tonight's dinner was leftovers. The trash is pulled in from the curb and my car trash bag is put out, because Ander - yes, my barely three year old - wanting to help with chores to earn a check. Oh, and he cleaned the living room (including putting his and Loki's toys where they belong, stacking the shoes near the fireplace, and putting the blankets in the storage container and requiring NO ASSISTANCE or even guidance :))for another check mark. Check marks are very powerful.

Wait, there's more!

Stac is bringing Brendan tomorrow to cut the grass and then watch the baby while I get some work done. And EBeth called and is going to babysit for our anniversary dinner, which is always exciting for Ander because he loves to play with JD.

I feel sort of peaceful.

Something terrible is probably about to happen, right?


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Seriously, I Mean It

I'm a big fan of parenting. By that, I mean I make the rules and decisions and Ander just has to follow-through. It actually drives me crazy when someone does or doesn't do something based on what their child wants.

That said, I am all about Ander and Loki having happy childhoods and lots of fun. So while I won't, say, let Ander play outside Highland Coffees in the rain just because he wants to, I will let him cuddle on my lap in the coffee shop and read the comics to him, if he asked.

I suspect, though, and perhaps it's just paranoia, that others think I'm way too strict. The whole time, I'm thinking they are way too lenient, so who am I to judge their judging?


Friday, May 22, 2009

Why My Blog Is Called Giftie...

I went to Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts (LSMSA) in high school. It is a residential high school and we, the students, nicknamed ourselves "gifties." (You didn't actually have to be gifted to get into this public high school. It was for high achieving students throughout Louisiana.)

When I define myself, it's as a LSMSA alum. Hence, the "Giftie." Everything else is the "Etcetera."

Clearly, my friend Stacy feels much the same:

The Best School in the History of Ever

Her post was too touching to keep to myself.


I Love Eating Out

There is something about someone else cooking for you. I love it. I guess I love my husband more, seeing as I married a man who can't cook.

Alan has tried to cook. And while his food (grilled cheese or omelets, mostly) is certainly welcome on a lazy day, it is nothing special. He can't grill without under or overcooking the food, forgets to stir food on the stove, and thinks that more seasoning is ALWAYS better, even when it's clearly not. *cough*fennel seeds*cough*

I cook reasonably well, but I don't enjoy cooking.

I enjoy eating.

So we eat out. A lot. My children are generally very well-behaved at restaurants. They've been taken to eating places from a young age and know the rules. Even Loki can sit quietly through a meal, smiling at the other diners. I'm not a fast food person, so this often meals actual sit down restaurants. It's almost embarrassing how well-behaved they are in restaurants, since they are too young to act that well in public. (And let's just say that they have figured out that church is NOT a restaurant, so the misbehave accordingly.)

I see other parents struggle. Their kids scream, throw food, and spill water. That's the norm, right? I think my kids sense that mommy takes food VERY SERIOUSLY and she's not messing around. :)


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Don't Do It... matter how hungry you are, don't shove down chili cheese toast in a hurry because your baby is screaming for milk.



Ugh. It's almost midnight and I am still paying. Tomorrow is going to suck.

How does this weaning thing work?


Mornings Suck

How difficult would it be, really, to get organized in the mornings? If I just checked my calendar the night before, loaded my car as much as possible (work bag and any extra stuff I need to bring, like workout clothes or swimsuits), put everything else in my "lauchpad" area with a sticky note of stuff to get from the frig, and put out clothes for the morning, mornings would go much smoother.

Hmm, what am I forgetting?

Oh, yes. Silly me! What about a nanny for Ander and Loki, since I am clearly unqualified to get them dressed.

This morning, Ander had no less than five timeouts before we left for work. He refused to get dressed. He refused to potty. He refused to brush his teeth, though he begged to floss. {rolls eyes} No, young man, flossing is for kids who listen to their mommies! {pats self on the back for that brilliant, unproductive reasoning}

We have a chart of the things we do in the morning - potty, brush teeth, brush hair, and get dressed - but he assured me he didn't want checks and would get them tomorrow instead. (He takes the procrastination problem from his daddy.) At least it was a day at work when I had no time constraints, but when I have court, this cannot happen.

He is in for a shock tomorrow. No tv before 7 a.m. He can play in his room, or, if the sun is up, cuddle in my bed. But no tv. And I won't let it go on until he brushes hair and teeth and gets dressed. Plus, if he needs to go to timeout to decide to get dressed, no tv at all (at least until after lunch). It will be fabulouso, let me assure you.

Loki was also in a fine mood, screaming about his sore gums, pooping AFTER I change his diaper and clothes, and puking all over me as we were about to get into the car.

As you might imagine, I am bad company today. Good thing I am working from a coffee shop - alone. (Good thing for the people who would otherwise be around me, I mean. Obviously.)


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Loki Is Communicating

Loki is talking. He says "da da" and looks around for Alan. (The word is old news, but the looking around and smiling when he sees Alan is new.) He looks for Ander when we say his name. He will say "ma ma ma" but only if he has a paci in his mouth. He must need to feel it to form an m sound.

He also follows simple commands, like shaking his head no or lifting his bum in the air when I say "up."

He has a mean pincher grasp and is two seconds from real commando crawling.

Unfortunately, he's also screaming when someone (meaning mommy) leaves the room. Or doesn't pick him up. Or, God forbid, deems to put food by his mouth.

Is it wrong to feed his Rice Chex because they are cheaper than Puffs? {rolls eyes at self}

I'm not ready for two kids talking back.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Losing Weight While Breastfeeding

Everyone promised that breastfeeding would just melt the baby weight away.


8 months into exclusively breastfeeding, I am probably at my highest weight, ever. A combination of illnesses and injuries has derailed my efforts to work out. Loki refuses solid foods, so I'm starving all the time. My body feels like it is starving, yet I eat constantly.

I have friends who use Weight Watchers, but I don't have the time or money for meetings. So I'm going to do what has worked for me in the past. I'm going to jog/walk and count calories. I'm fat enough that I can have 2,200 calories a day (if I'm still nursing and work out 30 minutes 6 days a week) and still get skinnier. So that's the goal.

I am so picky about calorie counting, though. It kills me to estimate. I hate when a restaurant does not provide calorie counts. Ugh! If I could just get over that. And if I could just remove my butt from the sofa...


Need to Socialize

The last few weekends have been a bust. I'd like to report that I ate leisurely dinners with friends, played at the park, or played Scrabble until 3 in the morning. Instead, I had a horrible Mother's Day and then was very sick this weekend. I feel like if I don't do something about my lack of a social life, I'm going to get overwhelmed and exhausted. Heck, the stress is probably why I keep getting sick.

This weekend, I am doing something about it. I have a social event to attend Saturday night. I have a bar-be-que to go to on Memorial Day. I am going to get out of the house for some purpose other than grocery shopping.

Two kids are a lot of work.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

How I Want Things To Go

It's May 16th. It does not escape my attention that I haven't blogged in over two weeks. I adore blogging. I feel more connected, less stressed, and somewhat (I might as well admit it, since my loyal readers have already guessed) powerful when I write these humble little entries.

So why two weeks?

Let's see: my car broke (once at home and once on the side of the road), my borrowed replacement car had a blowout, my lawnmower crapped out, my husband worked until after dark every single weekday for the past two weeks, I had catch-up to do from the week and a half off when Loki went to the hospital, I suffered my own ER trip/minor illness, work was crazy busy, and Ander is potty training (last on the list, but perhaps most time consuming). Oh, and Mother's Day sucked.

I could keep going, but gawh!

I want thing to go smoothly. I want to make a grocery list today, complete with recipes for two new foods and a standard food. (My current craving is pasta, so I'm thinking a tomato and pasta salad as one new food and some sort of creamy pasta and chicken dish as my other. I'd make roast beef as my standard food, since I'm daydreaming and there's no real effort involved in daydreams.)

I want to print coupons to go with said list, so I spend less.

I want the list typed up and saved in my pda, so I don't have to retype it next week.

I want the chores started today, but I only want to spend a brief time doing chores before I go forth and enjoy the Saturday.

I want everything in my house to stay where it is supposed to be.

I want poopy, in the potty. (A girl can dream.)

I want Loki to wean himself, starting a month ago, one bottle at a time. I want him done just in time to have exactly enough frozen milk to give him until the day he turns one year old, but early enough to never have to nurse him on a hot day in July.

I want to take my quizzes everyday and never forget. (Krumply knows what I'm talking about.)


I want to sigh less than a cranky, 70-year-old woman.

I want to workout and eat healthy and drink water and dress nice but comfy...


Friday, May 1, 2009

Mom's Night Out

Before I had kids, I thought I'd never want a night away from them, unless it was with just my husband.

Well, I still want a night with just my husband.

But a night with other moms is an experience you can't pay for. And when the moms have kids of similiar ages and are two of your favorite friends, it recharges you like nothing else.

Honestly, the food at the Japanese place we went to was just okay. But the company was wonderful. I desperately needed a break and now I feel recharged. I missed my kids - just enough to really appreciate them. :)


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Feels Like Law School

I'm sitting in a coffee shop, with a legal pad doubling as a mouse pad. I've got a hot medium roast with two creams and five Splendas. My glasses are on, but since I only need them for distances, they are propped atop my forehead, holding my hair out of my eyes. I have a stack of work beside me and the plan is to get through it all.

It's almost dead week at most colleges, so people all around me are working. One 25ish lady has little forms spread out around her. I overheard enough of a conversation to assume she is almost done student-teaching and is finishing a project related to that. Another lady, closer to thirty, is writing a paper. It looks, well, PAINFUL. Glad I'm not her. The other person is just straight up studying for a test. Reading notes, highlighting, and writing mneumonics down every now and then.

Other people in the coffee shop include a 30-40ish male reading the paper, wearing jeans and a t-shirt bought in Tahiti. He doesn't look rich, so I wonder how he finds time to sit around and read the paper.

A businessman is one the phone, sipping coffee, talking to his office, and clearly waiting to meet with someone.

Other people pop in every three or four minutes, grab coffee, and run back to the nearby offices.

I feel like it was when I used to study in law school, except that Ander and Loki are at my mom's, I can't skip lunch because I'm a nursing mom (though I'll settle for a bagel with cream cheese and honey), and I have to leave on time to pick up the kids.

I wonder if these other people have kids. And, if so, what are their kids up to right now.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Can Only Do So Much

I have a ton of work to do, after taking a whole week and a day(and now yesterday afternoon)off to take care of Loki. But I feel like I have the flu. I don't have fever, so no swine flu here, but my poor baby if he felt this way last week. Alan's working crazy and unpredictable overtime, meaning I am stuck trying to get the basics done.

I never, or rarely, hear anyone else complaining about being this far behind. Hello? Aren't the rest of you overwhelmed, too?

More coffee.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Interesting Breastfeeding/Family Leave Discussion

While sitting home with Loki a couple of days ago, I happened to turn on the public broadcasting network. There was a fascinating discussion of breastfeeding and it's affect on income. Apparently, a study recently came out that said, over a woman's lifetime, she makes less if she breastfeeds. As a working and nursing mom, I'm not shocked.

Sure, maybe in the end I'll spend less on medical bills (doesn't feel like it this week, though, with our doctor and hospital visits :/) and less sick time off. But, right now, breastfeeding cuts into my pay, probably more than formula would cost. I took longer off of work to nurse Loki. I go in later, take a longer lunch, and leave earlier, all to nurse my baby.

I'm okay with all of that. My choice to breastfeed was not based on money, but what was best for my family. I do think some moms HAVE to work and end up using formula because of it, but I could afford a little bit of a flexible schedule, at lower pay, to breastfeed, so that wasn't a real factor for my family. (I'm not okay with my infections, overproduction, lack of breaks, lack of sleep...but that's a different story. :)-)

Back to the discussion, though. There were liberal women there discussing how paid family leave would be fair, so moms could breastfeed. They pointed out that giving mandatory breaks for pumping and supplying private areas would go a long way to helping moms breastfeed. I agree.

And then the more conservative women spoke up. And they talked about how a family works together to pay the bills. Sometimes, that means mom takes a year off and a cut in pay (over time) to nurse each baby. I agree.

I found myself wanting paid leaves for moms. (As a small business owner, this would be tough for me to provide. But if all small business owners had to do it, prices would go up to cover it, and it's something I could budget for.) But I also find myself thinking that families do need to rearrange things, not necessarily to breastfeed, but to give the baby extra attention in the first year. Maybe part of that is breastfeeding. Maybe it's not. But babies take a lot of work in year one and families need to be available for it.

I rarely agree with a conservative viewpoint. And, clearly, I was MORE in agreement with the liberal speakers. But I understood the conservative viewpoint, too, which was sort of disconcerting for me.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chore Chart

The chore chart we made for Ander is working great. It has 8 or 9 things on it each day. They are sort of divided into morning (brush teeth, brush hair, get dressed without a fight), daytime/afternoon (help with household chore on Sat & Sun, clean room on Sun, Wed, & Fri, pick up toys left in the living room on days when he doesn't clean room), goals (potty dry all day and poopy in the potty), and nighttime (brush teeth and floss). Although someday it will have consequences attached to it, right now it's just a motivational tool. He loves putting checks when he does the stuff on the chart. If we are out of the house, obviously he won't get all the checks. But so far, he is doing great getting some every single day, like brushing his teeth. On an average day, he gets 5 or 6 checks.

I'd like to incorporate a bigger reward. We are thinking about giving him "book bucks" for each check. Right now, I'm thinking he gets a nickel credit for each check mark. At 5 check marks a day, that's about a quarter a day or a dollar and a half a week. In three weeks, he could pick out an inexpensive book (and, more importantly, make a trip to the bookstore to play with the trains ). More often, and we won't have time to take him to the bookstore. Plus, it wouldn't be as big a treat. But I'm nervous that it's not often enough. He gets excited by the checks, though, and I figure he will probably be excited by the "book bucks," so the trip is just extra, right? Also, I don't want to pay him for chores (because they are just expected), so this way, he gets books instead. Once he gets an allowance, it will be tied to chores, as in if you don't do them, you don't go anywhere and don't get your allowance until they are done, but not a dollar per chore or anything like that. So, in a way, I suspect I might be setting a bad precedent. That said, i really am trying to motivate him and I think books are a great reward and something we like to get once a month or so anyway.

I probably ought to do a chore chart for me and Alan. That would motivate him! But what happens if we don't get our chores done?


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Little Things

It seems like the little things (and the big things, like hospital stays, when you really think about it) are always slowing me down.

Take this morning as an example.

I slept in until 8:30ish (except for waking twice to nurse the baby). Sounds lovely, right? Then I reflect on the fact that I couldn't sleep last night, despite exhaustion, because Loki was coughing and fussy and Alan was so tired and I was nervous and watching Loki until almost 1 a.m., despite not sleeping all of Monday and Tuesday night because of the hospital and all of Wednesday and Thursday night because of the sick baby.

Ander joined us in bed and cuddled. Then we woke for the day. I got dressed and ready to leave to work at a coffee shop. But Alan wants to that a bath and cut his hair before I go. If that happens, I won't have just nursed Loki (which means having to pump). The boys will be ready for a nap when Alan gets home. And I won't get home early enough to make a chili. But Alan really needs a haircut. It sucks all around.

I leave for said coffee shop. I stop to get desperately needed gas. The pumps say pay inside. I go toward inside. The door stops me. It's locked. The gas station is out of power (despite lights being on) and is closed. Of course, it's on the wrong side of the interstate.

Despite leaving the house at 9 a.m., I arrive at the coffee shop (the closest one to my house with tables to work at is at Perkins and Bluebonnet...many, many minutes away) at 10 a.m. Blah!

It's traffic jams and spilled drinks and potty incidents and closed gas stations and a thousand other little, unpredictable things that slow me down.

It suckith mightily.