Sunday, January 31

The New Normal

This little bit of truth dawned on me this week-

Life changes. We adjust. Life changes. We adjust. Life changes......We adjust.

Simplistic I know, but sometimes it's the simplest concepts that finally resonate that seem to pack the biggest "ah-ha" punches. 

Ella will be one in just over a week. I can hardly believe an entire year has gone by! Those who have children, especially very young ones, you know how much of a paradox the passing of time can be. The day to day seems SOOOOO slow and tedious sometimes-- it's what Scott and I like to refer to as "the grind"; the dishes, the laundry, the messy floors and diapers and hands, the baths, the toys, the bedtime routines and the sometimes sleepless nights. Then, one morning, you wake up and an entire year has gone by and you have to ask yourself where it went. 

But, in that year, we have learned to become parents to not one child, but two-- a change of pace that has felt monumental and overwhelming at times, but one that we seemed to have finally adjusted too. I had a moment earlier this week when I was cleaning up the kitchen and the girls were playing quietly together in the living room and we were just all in our own little grooves for a couple of minutes and I thought, "Hmm, this is our life and I'm cool with that, even happy."

We have reached a point where we have all figured out how to live together and with each other. We each have a role and we have routines. I know they won't stay the same, but there is a sense of normalcy in the day to day again. 

Every time you bring home a new child there is some major boat rocking that happens. New schedules, new personalities, new likes and dislikes, new demands on your time and energies...and with the second a new need to balance the needs of an infant and the wants of a toddler...and in the beginning, it all seems a little chaotic and then you eventually just start to get into a groove- you get to know each other, love each other, you get frustrated with each other and move on.  You develop a new normal. 

To quote a song, "it's this crazy little thing called love." And it's called family. And it's really cool and wonderful and I'm thankful for it all. 

"You don't choose your family.  They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."  ~Desmond Tutu

Saturday, January 30

Have you ever...

 Spent 35 minutes typing what you thought was a very insightful blog post, only to accidentally somehow press the right combination of keys on your keyboard and have the entire thing disappear right before your eyes? 

In my Bible study earlier this week we had to answer the following question: "What trait do you think God might be 'pruning' in you?"

Answer: My impatience

Ok. Ha, ha. 

Do these things only happen to me?

Oh well. I did find a very funny quote in the process that didn't really relate to my first now I'll leave it here!

When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen.  When they're finished, I climb out.  ~Erma Bombeck 

Wednesday, January 27

Messy is Ok

I imagine my life is not the only one that feels messy more than it feels neat, orderly and in control. 

By messy I am referring to the physical and the circumstantial. For example, my house. It is WAY more often messy than it is clean. Here are a few pictures from today:

This is really pretty clean for the house, but you know what I mean. There is always, always STUFF all over the place. Random stuff. Dumbells, diapers, a toothbrush, a bracelet, pieces of toilet paper, empty bottles (baby bottles, that is...don't get the wrong idea here!), toys, scarves, miscellaneous shoes, cups, socks without a partner...stuff. 

A friend of mine (Here's to you Ellen!) joked the other day that she felt like a perfectionist, but not an ordinary perfectionist, a perfectionist in her mind! You know, you want things to be perfect but are so overwhelmed by the task that you don't actually make them perfect and so you live in chaos, but frustrated about it, because you want it to be perfect. Do you ever feel that way? I do all the time. 

I am a type A person in my head. The type that wants my surroundings to be neat and orderly in order for me to feel peaceful. The type of person that likes plans, and to know what is coming next. I make my husband crazy planning our days minute by minute sometimes...poor guy. The thing is, especially with little kids, and because neither my husband nor I are super disciplined people, that things are not always so neat and orderly and planned...and therefore I find myself feeling frustrated by that a lot of the time. How silly is that?! 

Having kids has been a real lesson in patience in this area of my life. In learning to LET GO! 

I was reminded of this when I started painting with Ava earlier today. 

I looked at the table at one point and wanted to start cleaning everything up, putting everything in order, wiping her hands incessantly, but instead I stepped back and said, "Lisa, let it go. Let her paint. Let her smoosh her hands in it and get it ALL over the paper. It's part of the process." 

Deep breath. Ok. Let go. 

And so I did and it was fun. 

 I'm trying to do that more with life. Deep breath. Ok. Let go.

After all, I figure, if things are going to be messy more often than they are clean, why would I want to be crabby more often than I'm happy? 

Boy, sometimes I think I'm finally growing up. 

But then someone pulls all of my maxi pads out of a box and leaves them scattered around the bathroom floor and I sigh and huff and puff, and realize I have a LONG way to go...

Monday, January 25

The Crazy Hazy Blogosphere!

I have decided tonight that I am completely overwhelmed by the world o' blogs.


Because I just spent an hour and a half blog hopping from one site to another and another and another and another....instead of spending time writing original content of my own, reading my book for book club, or even, dare I say, cleaning my house! Oi! It's worse than Facebook!

I love that I have started this blog. It has been a great outlet for my mommy angst and it also helps me to laugh at myself...and perhaps that is as simple as it needs to be. The thing is, you start blog hopping, and realize that there is this major popularity contest going on out there-- there are buttons, and giveaways and blogrolls and fan pages, and followers, and beautiful web designs, and...oh, my head spins just thinking about it.

Here is the thing-- I'm not out to win any popularity contests, but somewhere along the line I'd like to pick up a few readers. I mean yes, writers write for themselves, but they also write as a means of communicating with others, a way of connecting with others. At the end of the day my desire is to connect with others through this site and my stories; to encourage other moms merely through sharing our common experiences.

So, if you happen to stop by in the next couple of months and actually read this post, leave me a comment so that I know I'm not little space in the blogosphere will not be flashing with neon signs or Vegas like billboards, it's a quieter space, on a quieter street-- the kind of place I like to retreat to after the girls have gone to bed and my thoughts re-enter my head. I hope, in time, it is the kind of place where a mom, or woman can stop, take a breath and feel rejuvenated by some word spoken, some verse  written, or some experience shared...

Here is to quieter spaces and places in a world of stimulation overload-


Sunday, January 24

Our Little Princess

This was our little cutie before church today. I put this outfit on her and she said, "Mommy, do I look pretty? Do I look like you?"

And another from our pre-dress up before this weekend's princess party:

At which point she asked, "Mommy, am I a pretty princess?"

So sweet. First of all I'll take it as a compliment that she's insinuating that I'm pretty because there will come a time in her life when she may be more critical of the mom who is dropping her off at school, or kissing her in front of her friends or wanting to walk around the mall with her. I like that she views me adoringly at this stage of the game, so I'll take it as long as I can.


Really, I was just slightly taken aback that already at 2 1/2 she has the awareness to ask if she is pretty. And, it reminded me of the task at hand as parents; instilling a sense of self-esteem in our children, from a young age, that confirms in them that they are valuable, that their traits and characteristics are wonderful, and that God created each one of his children to be beautiful.

I admit, I have no idea how to do this on a tangible level. I feel SO ill-equipped for this mommy job sometimes, except that I know that I am doing the best that I can, and as my girls grow and mature I will continue to try to be knowledgeable, aware and most importantly prayerful about the things going on in their lives.

I do know, from my days of teaching high-school English, that self-esteem infiltrates ALL areas of a a child's life; their behavior, their confidence, their ability to connect with others and to make choices for themselves. I want Ava and Ella to have a strong sense of self, not one placed in outer appearance, but one placed on who they are on the inside; the skills, talents and personality that they were created with.

And, I realize, that that type of self-esteem comes from an understanding of oneself that goes WAY deeper than "Am I pretty?" Of course I will always remind my children that they are beautiful, but I will also try to teach them that it is the inner stuff that counts; how are you treating your sister? how do you treat others? how can we help others? how does God see you? what talents do you think he gave you that he wants you to share with others?

I'll end with a verse from my favorite Psalm, the Psalm that we read at Ava's baptism/dedication:

"For you created my inmost being;
     you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well."
     (Psalm 139:13-14)

So, while I know that I won't always know what to say or how best to tell my children that they are beautiful and wonderful, I'm comforted by the fact that we have a God, a creator, who knows them even better than I do...and also knows me as a mommy even better than I know myself, and that by His grace we'll all make it through.

Wednesday, January 20

Another Messy Mommy Day

It's been one of those days. 

Scott works from home many days and his office is in our about 9:30 this morning he said, "Lis, what the heck is going on up there?"

I just raised my eyebrows and shook my head. Crying baby, whining toddler, food smattered around the kitchen, explosive poopy diapers, said baby pulling things over, said toddler knocking baby over. 

These are the days that usually prompt me to think that it is a good idea to get out of the house.

These are the same days that it usually turns out to be not such a good idea to get out of the house.

Nonetheless, we took another afternoon trip to Wegmans to do our grocery shopping. I was going to go last night, but it got late and it was snowing pretty heavily so I decided to try to take the girls today. 

I stopped grocery shopping during the day after Ella was born, and now I remember why.   

Wegman's has a childcare room for kids 3-8 (I know Ava is not yet 3, that's another story all together.) When we entered the store I was holding Ava's hand and had Ella in the shopping cart, but knew I should take Ava to the bathroom because whoever the childcare worker was was not going to be able to take her. So, we parked our cart outside of the bathroom, I carried Ella in, and then proceeded to balance her on my knee while I put toilet paper down, unbuttoned Ava's jeans, helped her up on the potty, helped her wipe and then helped her get her pants back up. 

We didn't even wash her hands (gross!!!) because I didn't know what to do with Ella(there were no stools and the sink was higher than Ava's head)! This was the first time I took both of them into a store with Ella out of her infant carrier. She is getting way to big for it, but now I remember why I've kept her in it for so long...because I can just set it on the floor while I do things like help toddlers go to the bathroom and wash their hands. 

We finally get Ava into the childcare room, which she seemed ok about (a small miracle) and Ella and I began our shopping. Twenty minutes later my pager starts going off. 

Ava has a tendency to freak out in childcare settings sometimes, so I'm imagining her red-faced and crying screaming for me as I push the cart all the way back to the front of the store to check things out. 

She's fine. She just claims to have to go to the bathroom. 

Alrighty then. 

We push the cart, now half full of groceries to the bathroom, leave it parked outside the door with my purse, jacket, and Ava's coat, go in, wait for a very small stall and, guess what?

I balance Ella on my knee while I help pull Ava's pants down, put toilet paper down, and hoist her up on the toilet at which point she does in fact poop for the first time in a public restroom. 


We wipe, pull up pants, flush toilets, and cannot wash her hands again because my hands are holding Ella, but we do find some hand sanitizer. 

I put her back in childcare, manage to launch $170 worth of groceries in my cart because I can no longer think clearly about what I need and Ella has eaten my grocery list. 

Here is the funniest part of the entire afternoon; after the very nice lady at the checkout offers a grocery pick-up for me, which I readily accept, I get the girls both strapped back in the car, take a deep breath and proceed to drive home...Without my groceries. 

Yes, that's right. We drive a good 200-300 yards from the grocery story before I realize that my groceries are waiting at the pick-up door! 

Me: "Oh Shoot!"

Ava: "What's wrong mommy?"

Me: "I forgot our groceries!"

Ava: "YOu forgot our groceries?!" 

Me: "Yes." 

Ava: "Oh. We better go back and get them."

Me: "Yes, we better." 

We finally got home almost two hours later and I managed to put the girls down for naps and laid in bed for a good 40 minutes myself...just because I felt so beat up. 

I love my children, but I won't lie, I look forward to the days when they are in school and I can grocery shop by myself again. I don't want to rush things...but...

I guess I'll go back to night shopping for now. 

And, when I'm most crabby, I force myself to count my blessings, so here goes:

1. a hubby who give great neck rubs and gives them freely.
2. the ability to buy groceries and to have a house to return to with them.
3. an hour and a half of mommy time while the girls nap to collect my thoughts.
4. Bible Study tonight.
5. Our wonderful friends Mark and Sara and their two little girls who were able to visit from Massachusetts this past weekend. Hugs to you all. We miss you already! 

Friday, January 15

Praying for your children

This may be a short posting as the girls are due to wake up any minute, but it's an important one, so here goes! 

I've been reading through Genesis this month (it started as an attempt to read the Bible in a year, but I've taken that expectation off of myself. I'm enjoying reading at my own pace-- some days more, some days less. My intention is to read through the whole Bible, but not on a timeline) and have been encouraged by God's conversations with Abraham. 

While I could go on and on about the interactions that Abraham has with God in these early chapters (perhaps I will at a later time) I was most struck this morning by a verse in chapter 17. Abraham is talking to God, who promises to give him a child through his wife Sarah. As part of that conversation Abraham says to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!" (Ishmael is his child born to him through his wife's maidservent in an act of distrust that he would ever have a child through Sarah). 

I love the heart of Abraham here asking for a blessing for his child. I'm ashamed to even admit this, but in the 2 1/2 years that I've been a mom I don't know if I've ever formally asked God to bless my children. I've prayed for them, though not consistently...I've said bedtime prayers with Ava, though not consistently. But I don't know if I've ever just said boldly, "If only Ava and Ella might live under your blessing!" Wow. That's powerful. It feels like maybe the most important thing I could do for my children. 

Boy, do I ever feel like I'm just stumbling along as a mom sometimes, especially when it comes to integrating my faith and motherhood. I am thankful for new mercies and a new start every morning. 

Thank you God for your word and it's teaching in my life. I pray that Ava and Ella may live under your blessing. Amen. 

Tuesday, January 12

Big Girl Beds and Princess Parties

While the daily grind of motherhood has often seemed to move so terribly slow in the last two and a half years, there are moments that have made me stop to say, "Whoa, where did the time go?" I know Ava is still very young, but there have already been occasions of growth, monumental in a child's life, that have taken me by surprise because they seemed to arrive so soon; things like potty training, being able to sing full songs, brushing her own teeth, and this week both moving from her crib into an actual bed and receiving an invitation in the mail to a princess party! 

I know these are small things, but when you are in the midst of them, especially for the first time, they are huge! I also know that these are the moments that all of the older moms I meet are referring to. The moms who stop me in Wal-Mart or at the mall or in the deli line at the grocery store to say hello to my smiling toddler and baby and tell me "It goes fast. Enjoy every moment. They get big so soon." These are the sweet moments I will miss and so I'm trying to hold onto them as tightly as I can for as long as they last in the middle of the chaos that is inherent to them as well. 

To expound just a bit, let me tell you about the bed first. I was talking to my good friend Sara earlier this week. Her oldest in nine months older than Ava and her baby is about nine days older than Ella. She is in Massachusetts and I am now in Buffalo, and we both miss our regular mommy interactions but still share "war stories" over the phone. During I conversation I said something about Ava still being in her crib and she said something like, "Oh, that's right, I forgot Ava was still in her crib." 

Truly, she meant nothing by it, but after we hung up the phone I was thinking,''Uh-oh, Ava is still in her crib!" She is 2 1/2 and I don't know what the average age is for switching from a crib to a bed, I've heard as early as 15 months, but quite frankly Ava was getting quite big for her crib and we've procrastinated with the bed mostly because we have been so busy with life...and partly because she has been sleeping pretty well and one never wants to mess with good sleep. But, alas, I decided the time had come and so we put forth the effort to make the switch. 

So anyway, we put together the hand me down bed we received from Ava's Aunt Caitlin, ran out to buy a mattress last night, and after a few other delays (long story) finally had her crib up and her in it by 10:15 last night...a bit on the late side, but mission accomplished nonetheless. We were slightly worried about how she would sleep, but we ended up waking her up at 9:10 this morning because a) she never sleeps that long, no matter how late she goes to bed and b) we were so excited to ask her how the night went! 

And, guess what she said when we went in there? 

"Mommy and Daddy, I just want to lay in my bed for two more minutes." 

So darn cute! 

So she laid there for a couple more minutes, got herself out of bed and in a very chipper voice came down the stairs and said, "Good morning!" She never says good morning! She's always crying from her crib for me to come get her out! 

So, as strange as it is to see her in an actual bed, it has been fun. I am surprised by how sad I am to take the crib down-- apparently I've become more attached to it than she has. But, I do have to say, that as sad as I am to see the crib go, my new favorite mommy thing in the last two days is laying next to her in her bed for a couple of minutes before her bedtime and nap this afternoon. She asked me to tickle her arm before her nap and I was thrilled to just lay next to her, curtains closed, smelling her hair and tickling her arm while she started to fall asleep. 

As for the princess party invitation, there isn't much to say except that it is her first official invitation to a themed birthday party.  All of the girls are supposed to dress up, the invite was addressed to "Princess Ava" and I'm sure it will be a lot of fun. It's just another moment where I realize she is growing up and that it will go fast, and that I will recall these days with fond memories down the road. 

The moments are sweet, they are precious and they are a blessing and I am simply trying to make a conscious effort to be thankful for them.

Friday, January 8


"...was reminded while reading Genesis 1 that if God created the world in six days, I need to stop doing everything in one." 

I posted this on my Facebook page yesterday and was surprised by the amount of feedback I received...I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I'm not the only one trying to take on all I want to accomplish in the world in one day, everyday, and finding myself frustrated when I get little more than the kitchen cleaned up  and the toothpaste back in the drawer. 

Why are we such impatient people? 

I was reading the early chapters of Genesis this week and was surprised that the concept of patience kept reasserting itself as the word, or impression God seemed to be trying to leave me with. If you had asked me what the lessons of the creation and flood story were I would have recited something to you about original sin and God's punishment because of it. That is not what I learned at all, and that is what I love about the life that God's word can take on when you open yourself to it. 

Here are the impressions I came away with: 

1. God created the world over a period of time, focusing on one group of tasks each day. Really?!!  This is not a new fact for me, just a new realization. God is God and I often picture him with a great big wand and the ability to wave it and have what he wants done instantaneously. 

The fact of the matter is that he likely could have created the world in one day. I don't know that for sure, but God can do anything, right? So there is something more to the story here...something we may not know during our lives on this earth. God chose to take his time...perhaps he was enjoying the process of creation, wanting to make sure it was just right and in the process serving as an example to his created that things don't always happen instantaneously. 

Sure fast-food, and microwaves, and wi-fi, and airplanes and all sorts of other things lead us to believe otherwise...but I can attest, especially as the mother of two small children, I place a LOT of expectation on myself to make things happen at a quick pace and have been feeling pretty tired and frustrated because of that lately...last I checked frustration wasn't listed as one of the fruits of the spirit...

2. God put Noah on a boat for a long period of time, not to frustrate him, but to save his life. I was trying to add up the amount of days Noah was on the boat...I didn't come up with an exact number, but there was 40 days of rain, and then 150 days of the water just sitting on the earth, and then weeks before the water receded...The patience lesson I learned here was that we need to trust where God puts us, at certain times in our lives; that the place may actually not be to frustrate us, but to help us or save us in some way. 

This hit me because I have been feeling nudges of discontent lately. I miss New England, I miss being able to drive to Boston...even though I grew up in Buffalo I haven't been convinced lately that I'm super happy to be back in Buffalo. That said, I haven't really been asking God what he may have for me in Buffalo...maybe it's just a chance to exercise patience, maybe it's an opportunity to strengthen relationships with my family, and maybe, if I'm just patient, there is even something more to the plan that I cannot see right now. Whatever the case may be, I need to trust that God knows the boat I'm on right now and that he can also see the bigger picture. 

So, that's it for now. My thoughts on patience and my impatience. 

I'll end with two quotes on the subject that made me smile, hopefully they do the same for you:

"Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead of you." (~Mac McCleary).

"You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have for instance." (~Franklin P. Jones). 

Wednesday, January 6

Fitting in Time for Getting Fit

I'm no fitness guru.  I'm not as fit as I'd like to be, nor do I workout as often as I would like to or probably should, but I do try my best to get to the gym as often as I can, and do manage to go 3 times a week on most weeks, 4 on a really good week. 

This is one area of my life where I can honestly say that while I'd like to be doing more, I realize that realistically with two small children and the chaos of life, that I'm doing as good a job as I can and I'm proud of myself for that. Sure there are women, even moms, who get up at ungodly hours to get their workouts in more often, but with inconsistent sleep schedules and unexpected night wakings at times, I'm not an early riser at this stage of my life and I'm ok with that.

All that said, getting to the gym is not always easy, but it is a choice. And, even when I do get there I sometimes have to lower my expectations. Take today for example. 

Scott is working until 9 p.m. and worked until 8 p.m. last night so I knew I needed to get out of the house today, and a workout seemed like a good option. My gym (Fitness 19) has childcare in the mornings, and while it is not ideal to take the girls (for obvious reasons) there are days when I'd like to get a workout in and I know my choice is to take the girls or not do it at all. So today I took the girls. Here is a brief synopsis of what it entailed:

  • After breakfast I ran upstairs, put my gym clothes on, then came down, put my boots on and went out to scrape the snow off of the car and start it so that it would be warm (it was 19 degrees out).
  • I grabbed clothes for Ava and Ella. Laid Ava's on the floor and asked her to take her jammies off and get dressed while I dressed Ella.
  • Ella of course had a poopy diaper which she HATES to have changed, so while I changed a screaming baby's diaper, and managed to take her jammies off and force a onesie, jeans, socks, sweater, shoes and jacket on her, Ava managed to put her shirt on backwards and pull her pants up but they remained unbuttoned. 
  • I fixed Ava, wiped the remaining breakfast off her face, asked her to put her boots on and strapped Ella into her carseat.
  • I packed a water bottle for me, plus my sneakers ( I was wearing boots because it was so yucky out), a sippy cup for Ella, crackers for Ava, an extra diaper, wipes, my headphones, and money for the nursery into the diaper bag. 
  • As I carried the carseat to the car I realized Ava had her boots on the wrong feet, but it didn't matter at this point. I got both girls in the car and to the gym. 
  • I took Ava's boots off (no shoes allowed in the nursery), took Ella out of her carseat and bid goodbye to them both. 
Now, the last time I brought the girls to the gym my brother, who works at the gym, stopped me on the treadmill 20 minutes into a 30 minute interval workout because Ava was demanding to use the bathroom and there was only one childcare worker, so I needed to take her. Today didn't go much differently. I finished 25 minutes of cardio on the elliptical and one arm exercise (I was hoping for 10 more minutes at this point) when one of the trainers came over and told me that my daughter was screaming in the nursery... 

Let's cut to the chase here... That was the end of my workout and now I needed to dress two children, including a very whiny and red-faced toddler and get them back into the car, while people are staring at me (probably thinking, "Glad I'm not her!"). 

So I got into the car slightly frustrated and wishing mommyhood were easier and that it didn't infiltrate ALL parts of my life so deeply sometimes, but then, for some reason, I just decided to rephrase the conversation going on in my head and determined that I was thankful for having gotten in the 35 minutes of working out that I did. It was a choice I had made to get out of the house and do something for myself, and while it didn't go exactly as I had expected, I did get to workout today. 

So, the nugget of encouragement that I'd like to share is to at least make the attempt a couple of times a week to do something physical. Maybe it's to just walk by yourself outside,  or to go for a 20 minute jog. So many things seem out of my control at this stage of life, but when I'm on the treadmill or the elliptical I feel like I am taking control of some small part of my life and that makes me feel good. 

Here are a couple of other things that help me make it happen:
  • Mix up the time of day. No one time is super convienient when there are small children involved, so I mix it up and it seems to work out well. I try to go once a week in the morning before Scott goes to work (at 7 a.m.), at least once on the weekend when time is more flexible and once a week at night after he gets home. This way I don't feel the pressure to get up every morning (that would be daunting) or to go every night when I'm exhausted (that would be impractical), but by mixing it up it seems to work out.  If those times don't work out, I take the kids once or twice a month and leave them in the nursery. 
  • Lower your expectations. If I told myself I had to run 3 miles every time I went to the gym, I wouldn't always go. Somedays I run 3 miles and somedays I walk on the treadmill on an incline. On the days I'm really tired I tell myself I just need to walk for 20 minutes and I take a magazine to read. I usually end up doing more than that, it's just getting over the mind games to get out of the house!
  • Buy yourself some workout clothes and keep them in one specific place. Nothing is more frustrating than getting ready to go workout and not having anything to wear. I have a drawer full of sports bras, socks, pants and shirts and I keep them in the same place so I can grab and go. On the nights I know I will be working out the next morning I grab my clothes and put them on the bathroom counter so it is one less thing to think about. 
  • Get an MP3 player and download some good music. My music is what helps me to pick up the pace; I even have a techno version of "We Will Rock You"!! 
That's all I have...a word of encouragement a few simple suggestions that work for me. So, if it is something you've been thinking about, find a way to MAKE IT HAPPEN! It is one of my measures of sanity and it will help make you feel better about your post-pregnancy body (believe me, mine has needed work!).

Good luck! And let me know if you find things that work well for you, especially as a mom. 

Monday, January 4

The Grocery Game

I HATE the grocery game.

I was sitting at Barnes & Noble a couple of weeks ago and flipped through this book on how to save money at the grocery store while still being able to prepare tasty and healthy meals for your family. The author claims that she now spends like $65 a week on groceries, and I'm sitting there thinking, 'I don't know what kind of canned corn and white rice you're eating every night lady, but there is NO way I could get my bill down that low.'

That said, I felt challenged to see if I could reduce our grocery bills as well. Including Organic formula and baby food some of them have neared the $150 mark lately, and that is WAY over our budget.

My mother is the queen, and I mean the QUEEN of all bargain shoppers. I still remember her cardboard box filled with the hundreds of coupons she would sift through each week in an effort to feed a family of six on a budget and salary that was, at times, probably half of what ours is now.  Now that I have a family of my own, I admire her efforts and the amount of time necessary to shop sales, track coupons, and sometimes visit multiple grocery stores in order to eat well on a budget.

I am an intermitant coupon cutter. I'll do it for several weeks, use a couple of the coupons, they will all expire, I'll throw them out, and a month or two later I'll try again. Well, the author of this book, she is a lady that knows how to play the game... she even talked about organizing her coupons in a binder with those plastic sheets used for baseball cards, by category and takes a calculator to the store to tally everything as she goes!

So, last week, I followed some of her advice. I read the ads (we have 3 major grocery store ads each week), cut my coupons and cross referenced the ads and coupons for the best deal.

Tops had a coupon for $5 off a $50 order, plus 2 coupons that would double a coupon up to $ the words of the book I had read, coupons are like money, so I was pretty excited to already have an extra $7 towards groceries. Here is where the problem lies:

Wegmans roasting turkeys were .79 lb., while Tops were $1.19 a lb.
Tops had ground turkey on sale for $2.99 lb., but Wal-Mart regularly carries tubes of turkey meat for $1.99 lb.
Dash's has chicken breast on sale for $1.29 lb., far better than all other stores, but I've heard they're more expensive on everything else.
Aldi has a 3 lb. bag of oranges for 1.69 and grapefruits for .29, but I can't do all of my shopping there.

Ugh. You get the point.

So, in the end, I decided to take my chances at Tops with my $7 in store coupons, plus a couple of manufactuerers coupons I had clipped.

Scott took Ava to Lowe's. I packed Ella into her car seat and dragged her to Tops. I put her car seat in the big part of the cart and stacked my groceries on the seat and all around her. Onions and potatoes and yogurt and Special K, all sorts of stuff piling up in the nooks and crannies around her car seat while I shopped for bargains.

After 45 minutes of shopping, picking up everything on my list and a lot on sale and feeling really proud of myself for saving money I get in line and before I even look in my bag I have a huge, "O shit" moment.

"Oh, shit, I left the friggin' $5 coupon and the two $1 off coupons sitting in my newly created grocery folder at home!!!!!!!"

I don't have a Tops card so the girl has to get one. My onions, for some reason, don't ring in buy 1 get 1 free like they were supposed to, so now she has to call the manager over. One of my coupons that I did bring didn't work because I got the wrong vegetables. Ella is getting fussy because she has been strapped in her car seat for 45 minutes while I try to bargain shop and the poor lady behind me in line has like eight items and a front row seat to watch this whole thing go down.

On a positive note, they told me I could bring my coupons and my receipt back tomorrow when the service counter is open to get my money back. Like I have time for that!!

So, as I drove home, I had to tell myself what I tell myself a lot lately, "Lisa, you're doing the best you can."

That's all we can ask for on most days.

Saturday, January 2

Terrible Twos

It has been a chaotic morning. If one child wasn't crying they were getting into something that they shouldn't be getting into and vice versa. Non-stop. All morning. Finally, at around 11:45 I announced that we were going out to lunch because the prospect of handling the girls at a table outside of our home seemed more appealing than messing up our kitchen and the table in our home again. So we packed up and drove to Wegmans.

By this time, Scott was frustrated, I was frustrated, Ella was tired and crabby and Ava was in a momentary peaceful mood. Until we got into the car and Scott told her she couldn't have the freeze dried baby bananas and strawberries that I had brought for Ella. Ava wants to eat EVERYTHING except her meals lately. All of Ella's food, anything we're eating, anything she can find in the cupboards, anything except for her's a constant battle.

I would have given her some of them, but Scott told her no and then she started screaming. Loudly. I told Scott I would have given her a couple, so he snatched them out of my hand and gave the entire bag to Ava and sarcastically said, "This is what you get for screaming."

Oh boy.

So we kept driving (the drive is less than 10 minutes) and Ava proceeds to dump the entire bag of freeze dried fruit into the cup holder of her car seat.

Great. I keep my mouth shut and keep driving, because things have gotten hairy enough.

Ava demands meatballs at Wegmans, which of course they don't have for some we end up giving her fried rice, fruit and crackers for lunch.

Lunch was relatively peaceful until it was time to go home. Then, Ava NEEDED to use the potty. I took her and the entire process was, "I do it. I do it. I do it." Ugh. She wants to sit on the potty, get the toilet paper, flush the toilet, pull her pants up, all by herself. She is 2 and though she wants to do these things be herself, they are messy, and dirty and she really needs helps, but gets very frustrated when you try to help her. 

Finally we make it out of the bathroom and I leave the girls with Scott while I go to get the car because it's cold and snowy outside. While I'm getting the car Ava reminds Scott that we promised her that she could see the Lobsters after lunch. Scott realizes that we did tell her that we would go look at them and so he takes her back to see them, which is all fine and dandy until she sees cookies on the way to see the Lobsters and asks for one and is told no. Here we go again.

I park the car out front and walk to the front of the store where I hear Ava SCREAMING long before I  see her. I grab her, put her in the car, Scott puts Ella in the car and we pull away while Ava is screaming about cookies at the top of her lungs.

I proceed to turn up the CD player as loud as I can. So now we are in the car with a screaming toddler and Scott's favorite blue's artist whaling on his guitar at a very high decibel. Scott is playing air guitar, I'm driving as quickly as I can to get home, Ava is red in the face from crying incessantly and Ella falls asleep in the middle of it all!

I felt slightly guilty about turning the music up to tune Ava out, but you just cannot reason with her sometimes. She just throws these fits of whining and crying that make you feel like you'd rather be doing just about anything else in the world than sitting in the same room, much less the same car. I would have rather been collecting the trash in 15 degree weather, or chopping onions for eight hours straight.

The title of this blog alone likely speaks volumes for our current stage of life experiences. I wish I had a note of optimism related to our experience to help encourage another mom, but alas, all I have is our shared experience. 

I did try to start my day on a positive note, before the chaos began and read a wonderful essay in a little book I picked up at Barnes & Noble called "Attitudes of Gratitude".  The essay told the story of a man named Tom who eventually turned to a therapist requesting Prozac for his depression. The therapist instead asked if he'd be willing to try something everyday for a month. In the morning he was to ask himself "What do I feel grateful for about myself?" and in the evening he was to ask, "What did I do today that I feel good about?" 

The author goes on to say that "Gratitude makes us feel good because it helps us widen our frame of vision. Under depression or stress we can develop tunnel vision, seeing only this problem and that difficulty...When we experience gratitude we give ourselves a dose of mental sunshine." 

So I did wake up this morning and before the chaos began I told Scott I was grateful that the girls had slept in (it was already twenty after 8!!!) and that we had a comfortable king bed to snuggle in with the girls on many mornings. I'm also grateful for the ability to have had two healthy children; I know this is a struggle for many people. 

So that is my mental sunshine for the day and I'm hoping it is enough to get me through.

Friday, January 1

The mind is on to new things and New Years!

So now that Christmas is over and I don't have things like gift lists, and decorating, and wrapping and baking to distract me at 6 a.m. when I'd rather be sleeping, my mind has found its way to a new topic to mull during the wee morning hours; the new year and what I want to do with it!

(As an aside, I so wish I could just stop my brain from churning so much...this morning when it started going, I starting yapping away to Scott in bed until he turned over and said, "Lisa, if you don't stop talking my brain is going to start thinking about all of the things you are talking about and then we'll both be awake and one of us might as well get some sleep right now!" Well, you can't really argue with that...I think I wake up sometimes and I want to chat, chat, chat because it's so much better then allowing the chatter to just go on in my alas, my few blog readers, you can hear my chatter!)

So here is where my thoughts are about my resolutions...the thoughts haven't finished baking yet, so to speak, so they're a little globby and not yet firmed, but beginning to take shape (sorry for the bad metaphor, but I seem to have an affinity for them!):

- There will be NO resolutions about my body shape, circumference, or weight this year! I'm doing the best that I can with what I have at this point in my life, and though I hope to be a little lighter by the end of 2010, I'm making no resolutions to do so.

-Learn to paint. I've always been an artistic person in the sense that I have a nagging desire, that prompts me often, to want to create. I have yet to find my "art" so to speak-- I think that is part of my resolution this year, but at the very least I am making it a goal to find and take a painting class and to see where it goes and what it brings me to.

-Establish a concrete part-time writing/editing/or publishing gig of some sort. As I mentioned before, I can't imagine someone else taking care of my little girlies everyday, but to quote from a conversation with another mommy friend, I feel a bit like a "caged bird" sometimes! I know that might sound odd, but being a stay at home mom has always been and will likely continue to be a conflicting dynamic for me. I've come to peace with the fact that there will always be a slight tension there...a pulling between wanting the girls to be raised in their home and trying to quiet the me that LOVES to create, to connect, to collaborate with others on life. So, my hope is, to find a good fit; a job that allows me to utilize the parts of the brain that I am still paying tuition money for having wanted to expand, but also allows a good balance of time at home with Ava and Ella.

-Run a 10k and run it well. I haven't run a 10k in a couple of years (since being preggo, and having babies) and I'd love to do a couple of them this year. I LOVE races. Mostly because I love the vast groupings of people, from all ages and stages and walks of life, moving in energy together. I love that I'm never first and never last, but pulled along somewhere in the middle and happy to be there. My sister is trying to get me to commit to a 1/2 marathon... we'll see.

-Publish a couple of newspaper/magazine articles. This one may be the most vague. Since we moved back to Buffalo I've been trying to find a writing outlet, and with the craziness of life it has been hard (moving, setting up a new house, taking care of the kids, holidays...). I'm happiest when I'm researching, writing and then getting to see the work in print...I pray that God blesses me with an opportunity to do that this year.

-Become more organized! I need to expand on this, but will leave it at that for now...

-Floss more. I'm not going to commit to everyday, because, while I won't admit to how poor of a flosser I am, we'll just say that if I started flossing 2x per week, we'd be making incredible progress!

-Reach outside of myself to meet the needs of someone else. Neighbors, friends, siblings...not sure who, or when, or how, but I do feel that God calls us to bless and encourage and help in the lives of others and when we become to self-absorbed, things get pretty ugly. I don't want to be self-absorbed. God, lead the way and I will try to be a better listener.

That's it for now. I'll expand on these more as I progress.

Would love to hear from others-- what are you going to do this year?!