Friday, May 27, 2011

Faking It - Do you?

There are a few things that come to mind when you say "faking it" - usually the first is orgasms.  But there are a whole lot of things that people fake in their lives.  I don't think faking it at times is all bad - it has it's time and place.  Can you just imagine if people didn't fake things on a regular basis?  Say, for example, when you ask someone "How are you?".  They may actually be feeling like crap and be miserable, but they will probably answer "Good, and you?".  Would you consider this faking it?

It made me start thinking about what else people fake, and why they do it.  Here is a short list of things people often fake:
  • being nice to someone you don't really like
  • being sick (or the good old "headache")
  • knowing about something you really don't know anything about
  • being rich or successful
  • weight
  • confidence
  • a smile or laughter
  • giving an honest opinion (really, those jeans don't make your butt look fat)
  • your resume
  • your age
  • a tan
  • plastic surgery
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and some may cross over into "lying" territory rather than "faking it" territory.  So in which situations is faking it a good thing?  I see nothing wrong in little white lies where you have someone's best interest at heart and no harm is ultimately done.  I also believe in faking how you feel at certain times.  If you're down in the dumps, it's often easier to fake being happy - not only for you but also for those around you.  Often pretending to be happy results in you ultimately being happy.  Of course I'm not talking about major things but rather more temporary or trivial things.  I don't propose that people suppress their negative emotions and not deal with life's challenges... but sometimes it can be useful.  I remember faking being happy after a breakup - not only for his sake, but also for my pride and for the sake of my friends (who I'm sure did not want to hear for the 100th time what a jerk the guy was).  I've also heard that smiling boosts our immune system, reduces our stress, lowers our blood pressure, and makes people like us more. A pretty good argument for putting on a happy face.

I'm also trying to be a believer in the good old "self-fulfilling prophecy" philosophy.  I was recently given a book to read called The Biology of Belief.  There are people who just generally believe good things will happen, and for them, they usually do.  Take my husband for example.  He never worries about parking, he just expects there to be a spot.  Most of the time, that's the case.  On the other hand, I worry about finding parking and I often have to circle and circle to find a spot.  So I've been trying hard lately to "fake" believing in the things I want to have actually happen.  I guess when things do start to happen, I'll become more of a believer.  I will say it's hard to make the change in my head.  I think some people are just born as positive thinkers and believers, while others who are more worriers - like me.  I'll let you know if faking it helps change that!

I also think faking confidence is a good thing.  I remember my first day on the job as an articling student at a big downtown Toronto law firm.  One of the first tasks I was given was an Affidavit of Documents.  I think I was hyperventilating because I had no idea what it was.  But I remained calm and when I found out what it was... no big deal (basically just filing all of the documents in the case in date order).  I take this lesson into many aspects of my life - I reckon I'm bright enough to figure things out in most cases - so why not fake it till I do?!

I think we fake things for the most part to mask insecurities and to feel better about ourselves.  We're concerned with the possible judgment that may be passed by our family, friends and peers.  I think this is especially true in motherhood.  We worry about so many things and wonder if others will find us lacking if truth be told, we didn't always have all of the answers.  I'm sure we've all had those mom moments when we discover that another mom has a similar challenge and concern and we feel utter relief that we are not alone.  Those are the times I think faking it is bad.  The times we need the support and encouragement from fellow moms.

At the end of the day, we all do it to a certain extent.  As long as we do for the better good and stay true to ourselves, I really see no harm.  When faking it ends up suppressing or hurting ourselves in some way (or others), then it's time to step back and re-evaluate.  In the meantime, I'm super happy it's Friday afternoon and the weekend is upon us.  And I'm not faking that at all!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kids Who Don't Listen - Do You Have One?

I've noticed a disturbing pattern developing in our home lately and it seems to be escalating.   It's also one I need to break... quickly.  In one breath I'll tell one of my kids to either (1) do something or (2) not do something... and they just completely ignore me.  It's like I never uttered a word.  Does this sound familiar...

Myles/Charley (insert your child's name), dinner is ready - go wash your hands and come down to eat.  Nothing.... Did you hear me?  Dinner is ready, let's go!  Nothing... Myles/Charley, stop colouring now and come down for dinner!  Nothing... If you don't come down right now, then there's no TV and no dessert tonight!

Or how about...

Don't touch the papers on the kitchen table.  I turn around for a second and when I turn back, papers are scattered all ove the table.  I said don't touch, which part of "don't touch" did you not understand???  Only to have the same thing repeated with something else 5 minutes later.
You get the picture.  I have to say, repeating myself 100 times over is driving me crazy.  Of course my fustration is mounting and so when this now happens, I've begun snapping.  I don't want to be be snapping AND it doesn't appear that the snapping is helping anyway.  I've also tried the good old "If you're not going to listen, you're going for a time out" and "If you're not going to listen, I'm going to take away XYZ".  Nada.  I need a new tactic!  Or two or three.

So first off, I wanted to check how common this problem actually is.  Check out this tidbit I found:  "Most children don't listen much of the time. In fact, Sandra Rief, a noted educational specialist, reports research that suggests children only retain about 25% of what they hear as compared to 50% of what they see and hear. In parenting, as well as teaching, there is too much reliance on talking as the primary means of getting children to learn new behaviors or follow the rules."

I also found this very interesting piece on Ezine Articles about what we might be doing wrong:

1.  We talk too much. Loving parents want to do the best for their children so they feel if they tell them all the stories of how they struggled and how they know all the answers, the child will give up and do what we ask. This method of communication is lecture, advise, order and threaten.
2.  We talk too loud. We feel that if we raise our voice they will respond. Actually, it is the opposite. When you speak softly, they have to pay attention to what you are saying.
3.  Every conversation is a criticism. The parent feels the way to motivate is through blame, shame, name-calling, sarcasm or jokes in order to put the child down.
4.  We don't listen when they speak. Good communication in a family, workplace or world is built on mutual respect. That means we allow others to express their beliefs and feeling honestly, without fear of rejection.
5.  They have trained us to nag. Why should they pick up their jacket the first time you tell them if they know by experience that you will yell 6 times and then do it yourself?
OK, I see the point.  Perhaps I'm making a few of those mistakes.  When I review this list, I know that I hate being yelled at, interrupted and being nagged, so why wouldn't they?  I know I can definitely keep trying to talk more in the positive.  It's just that it comes more naturally to state what you don't like about the behaviour rather than turning it around and finding a positive way of saying it.  But if it works and it benefits my kids, it's well worth the effort. 

Here's another solution suggested by iVillage:

I suggest parents teach their kids to listen using the A, B, C and D's.
A. Ask in a no-kidding-around tone of voice
B. Be clear and specific
C. Communicate your request in six words or less
D. Don't make not listening an option

For instance, if you ask the kids to get ready for bed and they tune you out, say, "Bedtime. Please, turn the television off." Don't walk away and hope the kids will do as they're told. Stay with them until it's done. Turn off the television yourself if needed, and just thank the kids for listening. Don't yell, don't threaten the kids, just do it. Be creative. Getting ready for bed can be turned into a game, or you can give the kids motivation to cooperate by saying, "Go get ready for bed and choose the book you want me to read."
I will definitely be giving all of these tips a try.  Albert Einstein did say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.  So I obviously have to make a change.  At the end of the day, all I really want is a peaceful home, and a peaceful home includes children who listen.  I'll let you know how it goes...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Do Your Kids Play Outside Unsupervised?

I recently read a comment from a mom who let her 3 and 5 year old play on their street unsupervised (they lived on a quiet court) and was upset because one of the neighbours was a fast driver and she felt she should slow down and pay attention to the small children playing outside on the street.  Wow!  My kids are 4 and 6 and I'm thinking their not playing outside without someone watching for a LONG time to come.  We do let my 6 year old son play in his sand box in our fenced in yard, but only if the dog is out there with him.  Even then, I'm usually in the kitchen and checking on him regularly.  But it did make me wonder... at what age should they be allowed?

When I was a kid, we all played outside without supervision from a very young age. That is not the reality in today's world... we are either much more knowledgeable or much more paranoid, but either way, it ain't what it used to be!  There are no laws that stipulate at what age a child can play unsupervised, so I went to look online... there are lots of conversations on the topic, however, no real consensus.  I guess there are too many factors to consider... if you live in the city or in a more rural neighbourhood, your child's personality, if they have older siblings, if there are other neighbourhood kids playing outside unsupervised, etc., etc.  

In the US, there are many Home Owner Associations that are passing regulations that children under the age of 16 cannot play outside alone.  I found articles on the topic from Colorado and from Florida.  Personally, I think 16 is a little crazy - but it appears that the HOAs are not only worried about safety, but also vandalism (and one in Florida is a retirement community - another whole story there). 

Basically, I found nothing.  If I had to go on pure impulse, I would say somewhere between ages 9 and 11  - depending on my child when he/she reaches that age.  What do you think??? 

And here's something else to consider... because we don't let our children play outside unsupervised, they are less active, watch more TV and play more video games.  What about those consequences?  I read an article from the UK Telegraph discussing the fact that limiting unsupervised play may affect our children's development - here's a quote:
Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary, said it was important that children were given more opportunities to play outside.
"We know that 80 per cent of children prefer to play outside and 86 per cent of parents agreed that on a nice day their children would prefer to go to the park than watch TV," he told a Sunday newspaper.
"Yet children spend less time outside than they would like and less than parents did as children. In our consultations parents told us this is because there are not enough safe places to go - and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that parents think their children are safer playing inside on a computer than outside."
The consultation paper follows a report by Dr Tanya Byron, a psychologist, on the harmful effects of video games and computers on children.
I definitely want to make sure that my kid are active... which means more structured activities.  That's of course another topic of it's own.  It's also important to me that they enjoy the outdoors.  When it's nice out in spring/summer/fall, I do try to take them to the park or let them ride their bikes/scooters in front of our house after dinner, but as a working mom I'm not always up for it at the end of a long day.  It's a challenge sometimes, but I do try and push myself since our nice weather is so very fleeting.  Thankfully, they've always had time outside at day care and now at recess.  I'm so looking forward to this summer when my son will go to day camp for the very first time - he has no idea how much fun he will have being outdoors all day, every day.  I will, however, point out that this is still ALL supervised outdoor play.

What I remember from my childhood was running wild with friends and exploring.  That must do something for our sense of adventure and self-confidence.  How will our kids fare when they are finally allowed out on their own?  Does it make the world a scarier place?  Will they be so used to our guardianship that they won't know how to take care of themselves?  Or will they rebel and be risk-takers?  All scary stuff with not a lot of answers.

As our world continues to evolve, so does our parenting.  We assume that we know more today as parents than previous generations, but do we really?  I feel like we are often in uncharted waters and just hoping we are heading the right direction.  One thing is for certain, we can't go back... so here's hoping that what we do today will do right by our children's futures.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Do You Live Beyond Your Means? How Do People Do It These Days?

Between mine and my husband's salaries we make a pretty good living, and yet we never feel like we have a whole lot of disposable income.  I often look around at friends and acquaintances who can't be making that much more than us, but who seem to live much more lavish lifestyles - more trips, bigger houses, fancier cars, dinners and shows, etc. I can't help but wonder, how do they do it? 

We try hard to put money away toward savings, but I never feel like I'm doing enough.  Our priority right now is definitely our children's education - we contribute the maximum to their RESPs every year.  And of course, money goes toward RRSPs.  I recently created a budget and tried to figure out where to cut on expenses... I didn't have a whole lot of success.  And I kept asking myself, are we doing something wrong?

Expenses for certain things have definitely gone up - I find our grocery bill ridiculous.  I saw an episode recently of TLC's new show Extreme Couponing and thought maybe I needed to try coupons.  Then I read a couple of blog posts from women who had also seen the new show and experimented... the time it took to find the coupons and go to the right stores didn't seem to make it worthwhile, unless you wanted to do it as a full time job like the women on the show.  Since time is something I don't have a ton of as it is, I'm thinking this is not the way to do it for our family.  Although using a few coupons here and there can't be all bad if they are for stores where I'm already shopping... I'll put that on my to-do list.

In all seriousness though, I did a little search on "how to live within your means" and found mostly the same stuff.  Here's an article that had one of the most common list of tips.  We already do quite a bit of what was included:  I have created a budget so we know what comes in and how much goes out, we don't have credit card debt, we don't eat out often, I bring a lunch almost every day, I don't buy coffee daily (although my husband often does, despite my purchase of a Nespresso machine), I make a shopping list before doing the groceries, etc. etc.  The reality is, we are pretty simple folks.  We don't make extravagant purchases or feel we have to keep up with the Joneses, but somehow, others seem to just do more.  Of course, they may be living in debt or on credit, who knows!

This is one of those areas that just doesn't get discussed amongst friends, and often even amongst family.  It seems intrusive and off limits.  But I am asking... how do you do it?  For any of you brave enough to answer, I'm sure that I'm not the only one wondering! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Would You Consider Plastic Surgery?

As I edge closer to my mid-40's, I understand how natural it is for many women to contemplate plastic surgery.  So far, I'm pretty darned lucky and look much younger than my age, however, I am definitely noticing changes with my body.  Probably the most notable to my own eyes is my skin tone - it's not as smooth and even as it used to be (yes mom, I know you told me the sun is poison...).

I'm not a vain person but I do start to wonder how much one's looks are tied up with both one's self-confidence and happiness.  There's no question that when you're at your best (i.e. good hair day, feeling less bloated than usual, brighter eyes from a full night sleep, hot outfit, etc.) you feel better and your whole mood changes.  So as things start to droop and sag, I wonder if I will be able to maintain my sense of self-confidence despite the aging process.

I've always said that there was no way I'd go under the knife.  I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with it if you do, but it's just not for me.  I might, however, be in the minority.  With the ever growing popularity of cosmetic procedures, it has not only become widely acceptable, but also widely accessible.  In addition, there are also many less invasive and less expensive options to choose from... which may be the reason so many more women are turning to these types of procedures.

Here were the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures for 2010*:

2010 Top Five Cosmetic Surgical Procedures
Breast Augmentation 296,000 (2% increase from 2009)
Nose Reshaping 252,000 (1% decrease from 2009)
Eyelid Surgery 209,000 (3% increase from 2009)
Liposuction 203,000 (2% increase from 2009)
Tummy Tuck 116,000 (1% increase from 2009)

2010 Top Five Cosmetic Minimally-Invasive Procedures
Botulinum Toxin Type A 5.4 million (12% increase from 2009)
Soft Tissue Fillers 1.8 million (3% increase from 2009)
Chemical Peel 1.1 million (no change)
Laser Hair Removal 938,000 (5% increase from 2009)
Microdermabrasion 825,000 (9% decrease from 2009)

*Source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons

I get it... if there was no pain, no risk and it cost nothing, I'd be the first in line for the tummy tuck!  Birthing two kids in my late thirties... well, need I say more?  In the meantime, I just work the abs as best I can and suck it up that I now have a permanent muffin top.

When I look at the stats, my concern turns to what this means if we choose NOT to pursue any kind of procedure, invasive or not.  Is it possible to age gracefully while we socialize with friends and family who look "better" or "younger" because they chose cosmetic surgery?  Do we develop a stronger sense of self-esteem as we get older (in addition to the lines and wrinkles) to deal with this? I'm not so sure.  Of course, there are many examples of cosmetic surgery gone bad and in that case, those of us who choose to stay "au naturale" will feel much better.  With this ever-growing popularity, I think that many women are going to feel like this is one instance they may have to "keep up with the Joneses".  For me, unless they develop some very cool laser that is painless and risk free and makes us look 25 again, I'm out of this rat race.

My bigger concern, however, is what this means for our daughters.  They're growing up knowing that if you don't like something about yourself, you just go have it fixed.  What happened to self-acceptance and appreciating our uniqueness?  Will they want to achieve the media's version of beautiful and end up all looking the same?  And then when they have daughters who look nothing like them, then what? 

And how sick is this - a plastic surgeon wrote a book called "My Beautiful Mommy" for mother's with young children contemplating plastic surgery.  So we're supposed to explain to our young daughters that mommy is just not beautiful the way she is and that she has to go through painful procedures in order to be so... while at the same time telling them they are beautiful just they way they are?  Talk about being a hypocrite.

I'm all for making ourselves look and feel our best.  I also completely understand fixing a feature that has caused abject embarrassment and teasing, especially when it gets to the point of damaging our self-esteem.  But where do we draw the line?  When is enough enough?  Let me know what you think... would you consider plastic surgery (or have you)?  If so, why?

Friday, May 6, 2011

How Did Mother's Day Get Started?

Like many holidays, we take them as they come but don't always think about their origins.  I was curious on this one so I did a little digging.  There's a very handy site called that provides this kind of information.  Of course, honouring mother's goes back to Greek times, but if we are speaking specifically about our modern version, here's what they had to say:
In the United States, Mother's Day started nearly 150 years ago, when Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker, organized a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community, a cause she believed would be best advocated by mothers. She called it "Mother's Work Day."

Fifteen years later, Julia Ward Howe, a Boston poet, pacifist, suffragist, and author of the lyrics to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," organized a day encouraging mothers to rally for peace, since she believed they bore the loss of human life more harshly than anyone else.

In 1905 when Anna Jarvis died, her daughter, also named Anna, began a campaign to memorialize the life work of her mother. Legend has it that young Anna remembered a Sunday school lesson that her mother gave in which she said, "I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother's day. There are many days for men, but none for mothers."

Anna began to lobby prominent businessmen like John Wannamaker, and politicians including Presidents Taft and Roosevelt to support her campaign to create a special day to honor mothers. At one of the first services organized to celebrate Anna's mother in 1908, at her church in West Virginia, Anna handed out her mother's favorite flower, the white carnation. Five years later, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution calling for officials of the federal government to wear white carnations on Mother's Day. In 1914 Anna's hard work paid off when Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother's Day as a national holiday.

At first, people observed Mother's Day by attending church, writing letters to their mothers, and eventually, by sending cards, presents, and flowers. With the increasing gift-giving activity associated with Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis became enraged. She believed that the day's sentiment was being sacrificed at the expense of greed and profit. In 1923 she filed a lawsuit to stop a Mother's Day festival, and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a convention selling carnations for a war mother's group. Before her death in 1948, Jarvis is said to have confessed that she regretted ever starting the mother's day tradition.

Despite Jarvis's misgivings, Mother's Day has flourished in the United States. In fact, the second Sunday of May has become the most popular day of the year to dine out, and telephone lines record their highest traffic, as sons and daughters everywhere take advantage of this day to honor and to express appreciation of their mothers.

It is amazing that so many holidays with more meaningful origins have evolved into Hallmark occasions.  It's like it's not a holiday unless we commercialize it in some way!  In our house, we don't usually exchange much in terms of gifts, but we most definitely do cards.  This year, like last, we'll go with my husband's family to their golf course for brunch.  The kids have a blast because they usually do some type of entertainment for them.  Last year it was a magician.  Not sure what this year will bring.

I think my most special Mother's Day was my first.  I felt awed by the mere fact that I was on the other side of the holiday for once.  Since I had my son at age 36, it was a long time coming!  Since then, I take them as they come.  I can't say it feels different than any other day.  In my house, every day is Mother's Day (unless the kids are really being a pain in the ass... then not so much).  But no, really, I appreciate motherhood so much and never take it for granted.  You know that feeling when there's something really, really good in your life that you're afraid if you blink it may disappear?  Kind of like when you were younger and had just starting dating a guy you were really into and you were afraid to use the term "boyfriend" because you knew as soon as you did, he might break up with you.  Well, that's how I feel every day when I look at my kids.  I'm so crazy about them and I feel incredibly blessed that I have the honour of being their mom.  To me, that's all the gift I need.

Happy Mother's Day to all.  Hope it's a wonderful day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Read Together, Eat Together - A Recipe For Success

As a very busy working mom, my brain doesn't always retain everything I would like, but something said by my son's Principal at her welcome speech last fall is still crystal clear hear in my head.  She looked out at the sea of parents sitting in the school gym and said, I have two pieces of advice for you that will be fundamental in the parenting of your children - if you hear anything tonight, hear this:  read to your children and sit down and eat dinner together at night.

Maybe the reason this resonated with me so much is because I love food and I am a passionate reader.  I loved food and cooking so much that I went to culinary school and got a degree.  As for reading... I was that child my parents had to discipline to get my nose OUT of the book.

Let's start with eating together.  We are almost there - I sit down with the kids every night for dinner, but my husband is usually not home in time during the week.  I know this poses a problem for many families and can be a challenge.  My suggestion is trying to at least accomplish dining as a family a minimum of 3-4 times a week.  Perhaps there is a night or two during the week where schedules can be flexible, and if not, then weekends are a must. 

OK - so we have mostly accomplished the dining together part... but I'm not sure yet how it's actually faring for me.  You see, dinner hour is often the most stressful part of my day.  We're all tired from a long day and it's easy for the little things to get to us all.  Here are some of the highlights of a typical dinner hour at my house:
  • Calling the kids to the table approximately 6-10 times before they appear
  • Kids complaining about what's on the menu (or what's not on the menu)
  • Kids getting up 2 minutes after sitting down to use the loo
  • Kids getting up for any reason whatsover
  • Kids not sitting properly on chair... leading to spills and other fun accidents
  • Kids arguing over who gets juice poured first (or which cup they want... buy duplicates!)
  • Kids using cutlery to make music or gouges in my table... and inevitably landing on the floor
  • Kids playing with their food
  • Kids talking over one another and fighting over who spoke first
  • Me resorting to negotiating (close to begging) to get them to eat... you know, the countdown of how many more bites and the dreaded "no dessert" threat
Believe me, I try.  I imagine the whole Leave It To Beaver good old-fashioned mealtime and try to emulate it... so honey, tell me about your day?  How was school?  Did you listen to your teacher?  Did you get along with your friends?  I always ask them what the best part of their day was (what made them happy).  I find this puts a positive spin on things and hopefully gets the conversation on a positive note too.  In a perfect scenario, we all chat amicably, eat peacefully and are just happy to be together.  Unfortunately, it usually doesn't go that way (see bullets above).

So I thought I would search for some tips on the web on how to make dinner time more peaceful.  Welllll..... surprise, every tip I found was stuff I was already doing!  Things like setting expectations, turning off the phone, including your child in the conversation, teaching manners, taking turns on who can speak, eating what is prepared (i.e. don't be a short-order cook), etc. Since I appear to be doing the right things but clearly not getting the desired results... I am going to ask for tips from any of you seasoned moms out there... and I'm going to switch to part 2 of this post... reading together!

I have always been a passionate reader.  I love to lose myself in the many worlds and lives found in books.  On my recent post where I discussed the things I missed from before becoming a mom, you will notice that reading a book was NOT on the list.  That's because I can't NOT read.  One way I've been able to do this is by incorporating reading into cuddle time with the kids.  I will first read to them - thankfully, they love books as much as I do.  After reading to the kids, we snuggle up in front of the TV so that they can zone out and watch cartoons before bed.  I find it's a great way to help them relax and transition.  So while they are watching cartoons, you guessed it, I'm reading.  This is also part of our Saturday morning routine.  We get cozy together, they watch cartoons and I read.

There are so many great books out there for children.  We recently got the Leapfrog Tag Readers and the kids love it.  They can not only read the books themselves but also play educational games.  A great feature is that you can attach headphones so not everyone has to listen (great for restaurants).  I love how interactive the books are - it really captures their attention.  We also read tons of regular books - interesting enough, even if I'm reading girl books for my daughter, my son will sit in rapt attention and vise versa.  We haven't yet experienced that they won't listen if it's not one of "their" books.

We're in the process of helping my son learn to read.  He's definitely wanting to, but I think he's also a little bit afraid to really try.  It's a work in progress and I just keep plugging away at it.  I'm sure it will simply click one day.  I did find this very helpful guide for parents on the Ontario Ministry of Education website.  I think, however, that even when he does learn to read by himself (and my daughter too), I will keep on reading them stories at night.  I think there is something very special about reading out loud and sharing the story together.  I hear about parents who take more advanced books and read a chapter a night... definitely something I'm itching to try (I just have to find the right book to start).  Suggestions welcome!

As an avid reader, I'm always on the lookout for good books myself.  I keep a memo list in my blackberry and keep a running list of books to read.  I always have my phone with me so no matter where I am or who I''m speaking with, I can keep an updated list.  Since I have a kindle, I purchase almost all of my books on  They send me regular emails on new books and book recommendations based on my purchases.  I love that.  And when you are on the site reading a book review, they always have a ton of other suggestions based on the book you are reviewing. 

I also joined something called Goodreads which allows you to share book recommendations with friends.  I only have one connection at the moment - but she always makes good choices and we have the same taste in books!  And I of course always exchange book titles with my other avid reader friends.  Feel free to comment on my blog post below with any of YOUR recommendations, or if you connect here from my facebook link, on there as well.

So I leave you with one thing in mind... read to your kids and dine together as much as possible! Until next time...

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Things I Miss From "Before Becoming A Mom"

There is an endless supply of advice from all kinds of people when you are expecting - everyone has an opinion on what you should do and what to expect.  When pregnant with my first child, I heard things like sleep as much as you can before the baby comes (as if you can actually bank those hours... not), see lots of movies, read lots of books, got out to lots of restaurants, etc., etc. In other words, do all of the things you like to do as an individual because after the baby comes, you're just someone's mom and you come last.

Personally speaking, I paid attention to what people were saying but not whole-heartedly.  I had waited a long time to become a mom (I was 36) and so all of those things I would easily give up for a baby and the chance to be a mom.  They seemed inconsequential (and often still do).  With Mother's Day fast approaching, I started to think about how I've changed in the last 6 1/2 years and what I miss most about my previous "self".  I would obviously not change a thing about my present life as a mom, but you don't stop being you and so it's completely expected that looking back, there will be things you will miss.

Here are some of the things I came up with (in no particular order)...
  • a day spent leisurely and aimlessly shopping with friends... and spending money on frivolous things just for me
  • my completely flat stomach
  • going to the toilet in privacy (that includes taking a shower)
  • traveling without a million bags, extra changes of clothes, toys, etc.
  • watching what I want to watch on TV
  • seeing all of the latest movies in the theatre, instead of on video
  • getting only myself ready in the morning
  • taking a "time out" - you never just get to turn off as a mom
  • my things were "my things"
  • talking on the phone without interruptions
  • saying bad words without fear of imitation by small humans
  • eating a meal without getting up 10 times (especially to wipe a butt)
  • having a clean car without crumbs and sticky stuff
  • a third glass of wine which would actually make me tipsy (any more than 2 and I feel it the next day, even if it doesn't make me tipsy - that sucks!)
  • being sick without having to get up and take care of anyone else
  • exercising for more than 20 minutes, especially taking long walks
  • just being alone
So here's a surprise as I write this post... after finishing the list, I realized that in fact, I actually don't care all that much about most of it.  Sure, it was fun to think about. Those things are nice and all, but they can't hold a candle to what I have now.  Here's a glimpse... yesterday was a glorious day and we took the kids out for a picnic lunch on the mountain.  As we walked toward the mountain, my 4yr old daughter held my hand and started skipping and singing "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay".  I don't know much of the lyrics but after the first two lines, she kept singing the words and actually knew the song.  It was the cutest thing ever.  I looked over at my husband and our eyes connected and I knew he was thinking the exact same thing - we were amazed and delighted.  It may seem like a small thing (my daughter singing a song we didn't know she knew) but it was so much more.  Her happiness and free spirit as she skipped and sang was so pure and so innocent.  It captured a moment of such joy and I loved being a part of it.  I loved being her mom.

It's moments like these that make me realize how much I have changed in the last 61/2 years.  I may miss glimpses of my old life but those things will come again one day.  In the meantime, I have gained more than I ever thought possible which has made me a much better version of myself.  I can't express how blessed I feel that I have the privilege of being their mother.  I may worry that I don't always do the job perfectly, but I will always try my best.  There's no better job in the world...