Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Self Esteem & Siblings

I think it was before we'd started "trying" for our second son that I'd read "warnings" in my pregnancy and baby books: They instructed me to consider carefully the prospect of giving my baby a sibling too soon--or at all. My immediate thought was "How ridiculous!" (Now, before I continue, I in no way want to offend anyone who has been unable to give a child siblings; that's far from my point.)

Now, I do believe in nurturing my child's self esteem, mind you. I praise him for good behavior and achievements, including putting away his toys, showing me the "all done" sign, or even getting up from a minor fall without a tear--or in hopes of no tears! (Yes, we're crazy like that. Our kid falls down and we shout "yea!" and clap. But guess what?! He usually gets up clapping, too, instead of crying, so it's totally worthwhile!) I want him to know I love him and will hug and kiss him and hold him often. And when he's hurt or sick, I'll drop everything to care for him. (Clarification: I won't literally drop Josh! I will, however, sometimes let him fuss a bit while I prioritize Caleb.) I believe giving him that kind of security is truly foundational.

That said, the words of warning that I read and promptly dismissed as silly, have cropped into my my thinking many times in the past year. Yes, year. Before Josh was even born, he was crowding Caleb out of my lap space and taking some of Mommy's energy. I've thought that in some ways, having them so close together robbed Caleb of some of his own "babyhood."

Well, that idea is quickly giving way to a new perspective on my little man. I watch with wonder as he brings his brother his favorite toys or brings his pacifier to him when he cries. He lets me know when Josh has something "not for Josh" (a phrase I try to use instead of "no"). In his own little way, he shows loves his brother, even now. He seems to truly understand when mommy can't hold him right now, because she's feeding Josh. Increasingly, he's learning to "man up" to his new(ish) role, and his dad and I are, well, impressed. (Okay, we're proud.) His seemingly premature status as a big brother is giving him a chance to develop a side of him that other 25-month-olds might not have quite yet.

Here's where I guess I'm different from the typical cheerleaders of self esteem: I believe that Caleb's learning to esteem others and their needs above his own is even more important than his having his desires met. It's beautiful, really, and it's preparing him for real life and caring about others. Couldn't this world use a few more people like that in it?

Warning, schwarning, I say! Do you agree? I'd love to read your thoughts.

This is

reminding you that the days may be long, but the years are oh-so-short!

(For some reason, my server wouldn't let me post last night, but it was done by 11:55!)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Carpe Tractorem

Okay, so after a fabulous belated anniversary overnighter (my parents watched our boys for us!), we returned to a major dose of "welcome back to real life." I'm taking no poetic license here; these circumstances are quite real. But my husband is teaching me that even on days like these, the idea of "Carpe Diem" still applies.

For one thing, Josh (my 7 MO) had taken a 3-hour morning nap; I knew this would mean a very slim chance of his taking a decent afternoon nap, making the hoped-for bliss of tandem napping a dream I knew wouldn't come true today. He'd also failed to poop the entire 24 hours we were gone, so I knew a real doosey was in store. (By dinner time, we'd change his clothes, just as I had laundry finished up.)

Since we'd left our minivan at my parents' house, we took two separate vehicles home. My hubby wanted to get a nap in before he went to work (I guess I wore him out!), so he headed home first.

We already knew that the parking lot at our apartment complex was being replaced this week, but we didn't know that they'd be working right outside our building this afternoon with heavy (read LOUD!) machinery. So before I even got home, I'd talked with Jonathan and learned that not only was the noise nap-prohibitive, but our internet connection was down. Great. I was pretty much thinking it was the kind of day that had made Alexander want to move to Australia, and my attitude wasn't much better than his.

After a slightly longer walk from the van to the apartment than usual, I was greeted by a still sleepy but smiling Jonathan. He took the boys from me and sat down on the step. "Look, tractors!" he said. "Cackers," Caleb echoed (sort of). Both boys smiled. All 3 watched the yellow giant effortlessly use its claws to peel the pavement back, then smash it with an iron fist and scoop it up into the waiting dump truck. Peel, smash, scoop. The rhythm seemed to transfix all of us.

I can learn a lot if I just pay attention to my hubby. Even though he would have preferred to be napping, he seized the moment, "Carpe Tractorem," if you will.

I have to admit that when my toying with the router didn't work, I returned to my terrible tizzy, but my hubby again calmed me. He wasn't gone to work an hour when he called to say his breaks were acting up. (After the funeral we attended last week, this was not something to take lightly.) I made an appointment for tomorrow, and went to follow him to the shop to drop it off. He took us home, just in time for bedtime rituals to start.

After his Carpe Tractorem example, I was able to Carpe Daddyem and appreciate the rare chance for the boys to see their daddy on a weeknight.

Even in the midst of an Australia-move type day, there's always a way to seize it and make it yours and make a happy memory for your kids.

This is

reminding you to carpe whatever-um today, because even if it's long, the years will still be oh-so-short!

Friday, May 13, 2011

5 Fabulous Excuses for my Still Full To-Do List at the End of the Day

Okay, here's my pa-the-tic list of excuses for not having my home cleaned up or my other goals accomplished for tonight. And that vlog I'd planned to do? Well, my excuse fot that is that my home is not cleaned up, and it was one of the goals that I just mentioned. (If anyone starts paying me to write this, I think I might be able to move it up a notch or two on my priority list.)

1. I keep staying up late and waking up early, hoping somehow the two will magically switcharoo someday, and I'll get to go to bed early and wake up late, someday.

2. I have a baby who seems to think I'm the only one in the world that can feed him. (Well, in his defense, I am nursing exclusively.)

3. I have a toddler who thinks "entertain yourself quietly" is an invitation for him to throw his toys at his brother's head.

4. I keep cleaning the dishes and the kitchen, but then I cook a meal, and *poof!* It's like I'm right back where I started.

5. I started drinking a cup of coffee sometime this morning, but then I found a mug of cold brown liquid after lunch and realized I never had my caffeine. Since I hadn't had my caffeine, though, I wasn't mentally awake enough to make a fresh cup, then.

So that's my list of 5 Fabulous Excuses for my day. What's yours?

This is

reminding you that the days may be long, but the years, they tell me, are still oh-so-short.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Work-from-Home Wednesdays--Getting Organized as a WAHM

Why is it that I forget I need to create a banner for my Work-from-Home Wednesdays until it's dangerously close to being Thursday?

I guess that leads me to my topic for today. (I'll give you another week to answer all those questions about your own at-home business, okay?) My life is currently a multitasking nightmare--or is it a dream? Anyhow, I'm currently going into overdrive to get my freelance writing business started, in addition to taking a related online class and--of course--being a wife and mom and friend and all of that!

In the class I'm taking, one of the first suggestions was to establish a "writing routine." This concept can apply to any at-home business. Basically, the idea is that I need to set aside blocks of uninterrupted time in which to focus on the main event--in my case, writing. For you, it might be creating new designs or painting plaques. The point is that the other aspects of your business--and mine!--can be worked in randomly throughout your day. You can reply to client e-mails, do some marketing, or blog about your latest gig just about anytime, from anywhere. But the major part deserves some good priority time.

That concept alone has helped me a lot, this week. So have the following tools:

1. Tick Tock Timer This can provide great motivation and a competitive aspect to any item in your to-do list, whether it's racing to see how much tidying you can get done in 15 minutes or aiming to get an article done in less than an hour.

2. Remember the Milk To-Do List I love this thing! Not only is it available across various platforms as an iPhone or iPad app (I'd love to have an iPad someday!), but it allows you to list work, school, and personal items separately, while still allowing you to view items for today as a single list. LOVE IT!

3. Online Fax Service Freebies This is a listing of various fax services you can use to send and receive faxes without a fax machine. I signed up for eXtreme Fax, and I used it for the first time today. (You'll want to use the link embedded in the list I linked above, to get your 30-day free trial, though; normally, they offer only 7 days for free.)

I had to sign and fax a couple W-9 forms this week for new clients. Basically, they need that kind of paperwork on independent contractors who earn more than $500 through them, and some companies like to get it out of the way when you first start earning with them. I also had to sign a non-compete agreement for one firm.

Seriously, with these tools, I would be way ahead on all my deadlines, if I hadn't agreed to make dozens of cookies for one friend and bring a meal to another one, besides creating bridal shower invites and . . . well, you get the idea!

I hope thse tips help you (and me!) to get a little better organized, this week, whether you're starting your own business or simply trying to be an effective home manager.

This is a wired but tired

reminding you that the days may be long, but they're longer if you stay up late and get up early!

P.S. In lieu of my missing out on posting a Mommy Moment this past Monday, perhaps you'll appreciate this eloquently written piece by a friend of mine. Somebody pinch me, too! :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

5 Fabulous Baby Products

If you're expecting a little one and want ideas for budget-friendly, versatile baby gear to help you care for your bundle of joy, I hope you'll find this vlog helpful:

Since that video ended up a bit longer than I'd anticipated, here's a summary:

1. Boppy pillow
  • Tammy Mommy's recommended uses:
    • counter pressure after surgical birth
    • comfortable seating after an episiotomy
    • arm support for mom during nursing or bottle-feeding
    • infant upport for tummy time
    • fall protection for supported sitters
  • Pros: versatility, popularity (easy to find used, on Craigslist)
  • Cons: originally designed to help supported sitters, not to aid in nursing; allows small new babies to roll toward you, especially if you have a small build
  • Tammy Mommy's Suggestion: Get a "bare naked" pillow and at least two covers (find one to suit your unique taste here), or--for a product exclusively suited for nursing--try My Breast Friend, instead.
2. Moby-style Baby Wrap
  • Pros: 
    • more stylish and more comfortable than backpack-style carriers
    • more conducive to movement and more comfortable, for mommy and baby, than pocket-style carriers or slings--particularly as baby gets bigger & more mobile
    • versatile, with several ways to position baby
    • easily transportable, washable, and "makeable" (I think I just made up that word!)
  • Cons:
    • a bit pricey, if you get the name-brand model
    • slightly challenging to wrap, the first few times
  • Tammy Mommy's Suggestion: Buy some fabric, and make your own or buy a homemade knock-off! Also be sure to check out these videos (& more on YouTube) that show you how to wrap it.
3. By-Your-Side Infant Seat
  • Pros:
    • Higher than most infant seats, providing greater safety (especially with animals and other children) and convenience (particularly after having a surgical birth)
    • Longer than many similar seats, accommodating babies who are long
    • Neutral colors, storage shelf, and soothing music
  • Cons:
    • A little pricey, compared to traditional bouncer seats
    • Hard plastic and pathetic pillow
    • Cover that's difficult to remove
    • Takes up a lot of room, similar to a small swing
  • Tammy Mommy's Recommendation: If you buy this  or a similar seat, be sure to use a protective pad, and use this seat for sleeping, but only when baby is congested and uncomfortable lying flat, and  only with baby secured in 5-point harnass.
  • Side note: It's currently very hard to find, brand new; I'm not sure why, but I'll try to contact Bright Starts and find out. I am selling mine, soon, though, so if you live in Wisconsin, I know where you can buy one!
4. Piddle Pad
  • Pros: inexpensive & time-saving
  • Cons: NONE
  • Tammy Mommy's Recommendation: Buy one of these to protect each item that has stainable, hard-to-remove fabric covers (car seats, infant swings, bouncy seats, etc.).
5. Diaper Champ
  • Pros: Easier to use and less expensive than the Diaper Genie; helpful for those who use cloth diapers
  • Cons: NONE
  • Tammy Mommy's Recommendation: This is my #1 "must-have" nursery item! Make sure to be consisten with the "default position" so you eliminate icky odors as much as possible.
Wow! That took a lot longer than I hoped it would, this Friday afternoon! I hope it's helpful to Stephanie and other mommmies-to-be. If any of you other "seasoned" moms have suggestions for them, please comment below!

This is

reminding you that the days may at times be long, but the years--especially that first half year!--is really way too short!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Work-from-Home Wednesdays--Getting Focused as a WAHM

I still don't have a banner for this series yet, but I'm very proud of myself for keeping up with these themed posts for the past couple weeks, now. Why? Well, I've taking in more writing gigs this past week than I did all last month, for starters! Add to that the fact that my dishwasher has decided to retire, and you can understand my pride.

Anyhow, I'm still very new to this whole work-at-home-mom stuff. I'm sure you can find more seasoned professionals out there, but here you'll learn with me, a rookie Work-at-Home Mom (or WHAM), as green as green can be!

Maybe I'll make the banner green--to symbolize my newness at this as well as what we all hope to earn! What do you think?

If you're considering starting your own small business or otherwise earning money from home, I have a few key questions for you to consider. Answering them will help you get focused so you can succeed, with the minimal amount of disruption to your family life, possible. This is not a test: No answer is "wrong." The point is to help you evaluate your reasons for and goals in working from home. Next week, I'll give you some tips based on your answers.

1. Why do you want (or need) to work?
  • I just want to fill my time, beccause I'm bored and/or lonely at home.
  • I feel feel unfulfilled or embarrassed being "just a mom."
  • I want to help save for college or other long-term hopes.
  • I desire to afford some extra luxuries, like manicures, vacations, and "toys."
  • I need to make money to help make ends meet, pay for basics like gas and groceries, and keep (or get) my family out of debt.
2. If you chose the last option above, why have you decided to stay home instead of pursuing outside employment?
  • The cost of daycare and other work-related expenses would make outside employment financially unwise.
  • I want to  better prioritize my family and home.
  • Flexibility with scheduling is important to me, or necessary for my situation.
  • I think I might be able to make more money or "easy money" from home than I could in the work force.
3. Do you have specific goals regarding your home-based career?
  • Yes, I have a specific amount of money I need to make each week or month, right now.
  • Yes, I have an amount in mind I'd like to eventually earn each week or month or year.
  • No, I don't have a goal in mind, but I need to make as much money as I possibly can.
  • No, I don't have a monetary goal, because I'm more interested in pursuing career goals or building my own brand or reputation with something I like to do.

Well, if you are an aspiring or struggling to get focussed as a WAHM, I think considering your answers to the questions above can be a help. (My husband and I have been discussing these issues and fine-tuning the goals we have for our family.) Like many other freelance writers I've "met" lately, I'm discovering that there's more work out there than I can take in with the time I have. (If you lack writing training but think you might want to give it a try, check out this post of mine.)

Well, nap time is never long enough, so I must bid you adieu. I hope your Mother's Day is a little more relaxing than mine was, last Sunday, but either way, this is

reminding you that the days are very long, but the years are oh-so-short! (But not as short as nap time, so bye-bye!)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Stupid Mommy Guilt

Until about 3 weeks ago, my baby shared my bedroom and my dresser and solely lived off sustenance provided by my body; he woke up in the night, and I would feed him and hold him and fall back asleep with his breath against my cheek. It was exhausting, in reality, but in hindsight, it sounds sweet.

As of today, none of that is any longer true. First, we transitioned him to eliminate night feedings, then we moved him in with his 2-year-old brother. He now sleeps there from 8:30 p.m. or so until 8:00 a.m., give or take. (Once, we even had to wake him up at 10:00!) My husband and I like being able to sleep all night in the same bed and having the option of talking to one another while we're there in our own room.

Last week, we bought a $30 dresser off of Craigslist, and it matches perfectly! It's solid wood (pine, I think), with freshly painted red drawers boasting brand new hardware.

Now that Josh's clothes are in his own dresser, my socks and unmentionables are finally free to mingle loosely in my dresser drawers instead of being crammed tightly together with no room to breathe. And I'm happy for them.

My baby will be 7 months old this week, and today was his for-real start on anything but breastmilk, and he loved it! The weaning process has begun. A part of me likes the idea of going to fewer feedings a day and even *gasp!* transitioning him to a bottle, at some point.

But then there's another part of me that feels guilty for being happy that my dresser is my own. I sort of miss him, and when I don't, I feel sad and think I should. The mommy-guilt is stupid, sometimes, isn't it?

I feel so guilty that I have to post another picture just to show you that I really do love my Josh-a-boo baby. Isn't he a cutie?

This is a very silly, sappy

reminding you that the days may be long, but even half a year seems oh-so-short!