Thursday, September 29, 2011

Don’t put me in a box. Ever.

I have had TOO MANY interactions lately with people who seem to think that American values are going in the toilet, and part of the ‘fix’ would be returning to the ‘good old days’ when all women stayed home with their kids all day and built community through volunteering and charity work.  This is an extension or part of the ‘let’s stop supporting and funding birth control’ conversation.  Forgive me while I roll my eyes and puke and gag all at the same time.

What is happening here?  What it is ain’t exactly clear.
Is this - as suggested by a very smart friend of mine - a symptom of the current trend of glorifying the 50's and 60's in TV shows such as Pan-Am (career choice for women = stewardess and only if you were ‘attractive’), Mad Men (career choice = secretary, coffee getter and object of butt pinches), and Big Love (no career choice, many sister-wives living in submissive harmony)??  Or perhaps people are starting to again believe women are stupid – from shows like Two and a Half men and Jersey Shore.  Or perhaps the rise of pandering on behalf of certain sneaky trojan horse type people under the guise of rising political parties who have strong opinions about ‘a woman’s place' and gaining traction that way. 

Who knows.  I honestly haven't watched many of these shows so need to put that on my 'to do list' to see if that is indeed a contributing factor.  But I hear too much screen time rots your brain.  Plus need I remind you – I have two youngsters, ONE husband, 3 dogs and a full time job. 
The truth of the matter is those ‘glory days’ sucked for women big time and I have no interest in returning there.  What woman in her right mind would want to???  

The other truth of the matter – on a personal note - is I don’t want to stay home with my kids all day. 
My parents worked hard to put me through college.  I worked hard to pay for and earn two master’s degrees.  I have an impressive 12-year resume in a field of work that I absolutely love (toot tooting my own horn).  It fits me like a glove.  I am so much better at doing my day job than everything I know I would try to do at home: do daily educational and art lessons, provide 3 healthy meals and snacks, coordinate sleep schedules, ensure socialization with other children, make sure they spent time outside.  I know I would not be good at that.  I would be depressed.  I would wind up doing volunteer and community work, figuring out how to take my children with me to city council meetings, trying to arrange daycare I couldn’t afford.  I call all of that work and I might as well get paid for it! 

Do NOT mistake this for not loving my children. They are first in my heart and mind ALWAYS.
Do NOT mistake this for disrespecting or thinking less of women who choose to work at home, taking care of the house and everyone in it.   (See above.  They probably do more work than I do daily.)

Do NOT mistake this for an opinion about how others should live their lives. It is what's best for me and our family.  My husband knew this about me from the start and supports me in every way.

The beauty of the world today is women have  more choices.  Not as many as we should, and they’re not available to all women equally across socioeconomic classes, and the jury's still out as to whether we can truly 'have it all.'  But the *availability of choices* -- THAT is where the cultural shift needs to happen. 
Women don’t need to change.  Don't take away my choices.  Don’t take away my birth control.  Don’t force every one of the eggs in my ovaries to become a baby.  Don’t put me in a stay-at-home box or a working-woman box.  Don’t put me in a box at all.  Ever.  Don’t try to change women or moms to fit the current messed up socioeconomic, health care, daycare, employment, good-old-boy, (etc.)  systems. 
Change the Systems to fit us.  All of us.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pedicures: Pathway to Peace

10 years ago I was in the Peace Corps in Togo.  50 years ago the Peace Corps began.  I missed all the anniversary festivities this weekend in Washington DC because of rain, kids and life.  That's ok.  I don't need to go to festivities to remember my time there (though I do crave Togolese food something awful!).  I think about it almost every day.

There are threads that run through life that connect people, places and moments through time and space.  Oddly enough, Pedicures are one of those threads for me.

One of my favorites memories from the early days in my village began with pedicures.  I remember the first nights being in self-imposed seclusion in my house, not comfortable speaking the language, not comfortable with the dark of night, with only using a lantern to get around, with being an object of curiosity.  I would shuffle about in my little house, feeling all of the children's eyes peering at me from outside.  Fish in a bowl - that was me, except the barrier was a mixture of culture, awkwardness and curiosity. 

Former Peace Corps volunteers had recommended packing nail polish.  One night, I wanted so badly to make a connection with my new 'family' outside and so I finally remembered - the nail polish!  Be bold!  Be brave!  Be enameled!  None of us could speak to each other, but I opened the door and showed them all the colors of 'vernis.'  Floodgates open!  Within minutes, all the children were in my house and it was the biggest pedicure party I'd ever seen!  They spoke to each other, tried to speak to me, I tried back, and somehow we all got our nails done and made friends.

From that night on, pedicures happened pretty regularly, which opened the door for card-playing, hand-clapping games, and even the littlest ones trying to teach me the local language.  I finally had friends who eventually became like family and I miss them dearly to this day.

Peace through pedicures.

Tonight, the kids and I did pedicures!  Somehow, that same magical thing happens in our house when we bust out the nail polish.  Even the guys want in on the action!  Hurt feelings get smoothed over, tears and frustration are gone for a short while and none of us have to be on the same page to be happy with each other....  as long as after everything, nails are blue or pink or red.... with sparkles of course!

What problems have you solved with nail polish?  :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

We have a winner!

Congratulations, Amy!!  You have won my first giveaway - a free copy of the My Memories Suite software!  I loved how you said you would use it, to make a baby book for your daughter.  I am so excited you get to do that now.  I will send you your code soon - please report back about how you liked it!

For those of you who didn't win, fret not!  My $10 code is still good and $29.97 is a steal for this software.  I played with a little more tonight and was able to download 12 free pages and sets for free -- but there were over 50 to choose from!  These items alone would have easily cost $30 in a craft store.

The code to get $10 off plus a $10 store coupon is STMMMS40533!  

Thanks to everybody who entered -- and good night!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Memories Suite Giveaway This Weekend!!

I am so excited this giveaway that I can't wait any longer.  I'm giving away a FREE copy of the My Memories Suite Software this weekend!!!

How to win:  Simply visit the My Memories Suite webpage, choose your favorite design, and comment below telling me how you'd use the design and the software!  SWEET! 
*BONUS entry if you also become a follower of my blog or LIKE the MyMemories Facebook page!

If you don't win or can't wait, I have something for you too!  Simply enter the following code to receive a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software (making it $29.97) and a $10 coupon for the store - $20 value!  STMMMS40533

Tell your friends and family to do this too!  I LOVE giving free stuff away!  Trust me - this is worth it if you love scrapbooking or doing creative projects with photos!  It's great for the working mom to save time, money, space and hassle.  Look at what I did this morning in 10 minutes!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mommy Haiku

Lollipop lovers
M&Ms melt in their hands
Bathed in saliva
But not in the car seat

Driving home from school
Humming along to veggies
Who sing about God

Cars at the daycare
Bland colored piano keys
Running to and fro

Ballet class.  Pink walls.
Tiny feet, moms' finger tips
Tap tapping away.

Naked baby blast!
Shake your booty in the bath tub!
Happy artist time!
Bubble manicures.

(Former title:  Tired mommy 5-minute red light break time Haiku.)

Share your mommy haiku with me!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Day in the Life

This may sound crazy but sometimes I feel if I talk candidly about some of our 'normal' days, that they will sound crazy to most people.  Even more crazy (see - that's the 3rd use of the word 'crazy' (4) so read on at your own risk)...  I feel like it may out ourselves as doing the completely wrong things or scare people away from wanting kids or more kids, or that I will somehow reveal that parenting ain't all it's cracked up to be.  See - crazy, me thinking I would have all that power....  but truth is, some days are no cake walk.  Here's the breakdown of our day yesterday.

6:30  Wake up, have leisurely hour or so having fun, getting annoyed with each other, getting over it
7:30  Finally decide we're all going to get donuts and get advil for baby Roy who's had a fever all night
8:00  Eat donuts; the kids eat all the frosting; we get all the rest; most ends up on the floor
8:30  Navigate grocery store with Big Sister to get advil, diapers, others - I'm sure I forgot something
9:00  Head home, get "real clothes" (forgot to mention kids are in pajamas) and head to zoo despite it being overcast!
9:30-11:30  Have a great time at the zoo!  Despite not feeling well, Baby Monster and Big Sister love it.  The clear highlight of the day.
11:30-12:00  Stop at home improvement store - make decision to move forward with getting carpet, after months of discussion and indecision!  We leave without doing that due to Big Sis having diarrhea again and being trumped by people looking at higher-price carpet.
12:00-4:00  Snacking/eating, reading books, lots of crying and naps.  Baby Monster seems to be feeling worse.
4:00  Big Sister and I go to the library.  Get lots of great books!  She has lots of diarrhea and we leave with her going commando and me smelling like, well, you know.
5:00  Get home - decide Baby Monster needs to see a doctor. It's Saturday evening.  Thank goodness for Kid Med.  Catch up with a friend while cuddling in the doc's office and make plans for next weekend!
6:00  Baby Monster as 102 fever (they took it the 'old fashioned' way), diagnosed with ear infection  My poor baby :(.
7:00 Fill prescription at Walgreens.  He's starting to smile and laugh and feel better - so relieved.
8:00  Finally home.  Big Sister has no pants on -- has had diarrhea again.  Has it one more time.
9:00  Baths!  Officially way past bedtime....  we read some new books and....
9:30  Crying ensues.  Lots of it.  Unsure why.
10:30  Both kids asleep.  I can't sleep so get to read The Help FINALLY after it being on my book shelf for 6 weeks.
11:00  Realize I still have my day clothes on, and still smell a little like diarrhea.  Take a shower, then Thankful for the peace and quiet.... and that we had a nice day despite all the sickness and diarrhea and that everybody has a path to wellness now.

In the end, we all love and took care of each other.  I guess maybe it doesn't sound so crazy after all.

Friday, September 16, 2011

More Fun with My Memories - and a Rule Change!

Ok.  Clearly I am not in sleeping mode tonight.  Plus it's a Friday night and what better way to party in my jammies than to play with the My Memories Suite scrapbooking software?  Let the good times roll!

But seriously - Look what I've done!  I did these pages in about 15 minutes.... plus my cool new banner for my blog (see top of page).  I am feeling pretty positive about my creative crafting skills right about now!  I used a template for a whole book that had about 10 pre-designed pages...  but you don't have to use them all and you can change the layout and add words, embellishments, ribbons, bows, more photos... and it's super easy to use.  If you can use a computer, you can figure it out without a manual.

Also I've changed the rules for my FREE giveaway!  I can't wait until September 30, I'm too excited!  So I'll give away the My Memories software to a lucky reader once I get 1500 page views on my blog so spread the word!  If you'd love to have the software and haven't done so yet, visit the My Memories Suite page, pick a layout you love and 'comment' on my blog telling me how you'd use it.  Extra 'entries' for following my blog and 'liking' the My Memories facebook page!  (You have to tell me you did that).  Also make sure I know who you are when you 'comment' :)

Finally - if you can't wait or don't win, use my CODE to get $10 off the software PLUS a $10 store coupon - a $20 value!  That's $29.97 after the coupon!  A great deal.  The code is STMMMS40533. 

Good luck - and good night!  I'm going to bed!

Positive Princesses? Perhaps.

My daughter is three.  What can I say?  She loves princesses!  Specifically, the Disney variety- but we have some 'generic' princess movies she likes too.  WAIT - what?  We let our child watch movies?  On a TV??  I understand that some parents don't allow kids to watch TV and we do try to limit it since we understand that research shows that screen time may turn tots' eyes turn to jelly and their brain into goo.  So far, on less than 2 hours a day ( the recommended limit I believe), no sign of jelly or goo.  Plus - no shows with sex, guns, drugs, violence or cussing.  But bring on the rock-n-roll! We're good.  Moving on.

We have approximately a thousand movies.  Maybe less.  I got a sweet deal on VHS tapes on Craig's List.  She has diverse taste, but Big Sister will usually choose a Disney/princess or Barbie/princess movie.  I struggle with the Princess movies and the whole capital-P Princess phenomenon.  I too loved them when I was little but I have grown up and it's hard for me to not see the negatives:
  • The motif of an absent biological mother and and evil stand-in-mother figure, usually a stepmother or witch of some sort, set against a bumbling, arrogant or otherwise flawed mostly-absent but wealthy man.
  • The consistent theme of marriage being the girl's ultimate dream, goal and the 'happy ending' of the story - usually at the age of 16!!??!!
  • Somebody else having control over the girl-slash-princess's freedom
  • The clear depiction of beauty=good, ugly=bad, or just defining a certain look as being beautiful (long flowing straight hair and dress, perfect skin, youth....)
  • The woefully underdeveloped "prince" characters
  • The portrayal of animals as talking.  Animals don't talk!  Dragons don't exist!  Clearly I'm KIDDING - these are great parts and if anybody finds a magic wand please let me know I want one!
Is this really what I want my daughter to be learning about the world and how it works?  On the other hand, do I want to endure the battles that would ensue if I eliminated princesses from her world? 

No, and No.

So I've decided that it is my job as parent to explain these shortcomings to MY SON AND DAUGHTER (despite their puzzled facial expressions) and also point out the positives about the princess stories.   Positives you say - what are they?  Funny you ask.  I've thought about a few:
  • Ariel (the Little Mermaid) is curious about the world, has a rebelious streak and has a great imagination, telling stories about the objects she collects.  Also she saved the prince's life, instead of the other way around.  She is perhaps my favorite.
  • Snow White is a survivor.  She ventures into the woods, makes a life for herself without help from anybody (the dwarfs weren't much help at all) - and emphasized proper hygiene.  She's an honorary Peace Corps volunteer and public health worker if there ever was one.
  • Belle loves to read and speaks two languages.  She also loves her father very much.  (Again, where are these girls' mothers???)  Other than that, her story is - in my opinion - among the worst.  Enslaved by a beast until she loved him?  Gross.
  • Cinderella is a toughie.  She is kind to animals and to everybody.  She embodies 'turn the other cheek' which is a good skill to have sometimes
  • Sleeping Beauty is tougher still.  She walks in the woods and sleeps a lot which are good for your health.  That's all I got.
  • Pochahontas, however far from the original, has a lot of good lessons.  Protect water, trees and animals.  Stand up for what you believe is right.  Learn about and value other cultures.  And it doesn't have the marriage-as-a-happy ending thing.
  • Rapunzel is brave and adventurous and goes for a thief instead of a prince, whose life she saves at least once.  I like this girl. 
  • Also, Princess Fiona in Shrek 4 is awesome.  A mom-of-triplets turned leader of the anti-dictator rebellion.  My hero.
The other princess movies, we don't own or I haven't watched enough.  I'll put it on my long to-do list!  Right below "Invesigate good role-model type movies for boys that my son can enjoy" (am accepting ideas!) and "Make sure my kids grow up to be kind, thoughful, brilliant, family-oriented but independent people."  Check!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Digital Scrapbooking with My Memories - My First Giveaway!

You may not know that I love scrapbooking.  Over the years I've made quite a few but when Big Sister and Baby Genius came along, all scrapbooking ceased.  What's sad is this is the time when I really wish I could do more of it to put the HUNDREDS of pictures we take to good use AND compliment my journaling with beautiful photo books.

{Insert a shout-out to my mom, who has made several scrapbooks for me and my kids!  But there's just something about doing it yourself... you know?}

Enter:  MyMemories Suite Software.  I am flattered that they found my blog and approached me to try it out and tell people about it.  It is the coolest thing!  Look what I made in less than 10 minutes.  It was super easy, fun and fast.  I would not lie to you.  And the coolest part is I can print it, download it, email it, make a book, a JPG, share it on Facebook or whatever!  There are lots of pre-set pages or you can design your own; there's a nice selection of embellishments, paper choices, and so much more! 

The price is pretty decent too - $39.97 for the software (or $29.97- keep reading!).  I once tried one of those online upload-your-photos and make a memory book.  I had a Groupon and still paid something like $30 for the small, basic book.  For almost $40 you can make unlimited pages - a much better deal - AND you can make books, calendars, movies....  lots of cool things!  This would be a GREAT tool to make home-made Christmas cards and gifts!  (Think... calendars for the grandparents...)  Truly if this is your 'thing' you should check out the website:  My Memories Suite.

Here's the best part:  For my readers, enter the following code to receive a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the store - $20 value!  STMMMS40533! 

But Wait!  There's More!  I also have a FREE giveaway for a lucky reader!  Simply visit the My Memories Suite webpage, choose your favorite design, and comment below telling me how you'd use the design and the software and you could win a free copy of the My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software!  SWEET!  (Drawing will be held Sept. 30!)  *BONUS entry if you also become a follower of my blog or LIKE the MyMemories Facebook page!

Tell your friends and family to do this too!  I LOVE giving free stuff away!  Trust me - this is worth it if you love scrapbooking or doing creative projects with photos!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where My Girls At?

This post is rated G!  :)

Yesterday I did my first 'show' type event with Scentsy.  It was fun.  It renewed my energy to sell Scentsy.  Why do I sell Scentsy, do you ask?  Even if you didn't ask I'll tell you because I think a lot of people who know me think it's unlike me.  First of all, it's fun.  It smells really good.  It makes our house smell great...  it masks the everpresent odor-mix of diapers, wet dog, multi-species poop/pee/vomit mix and dinner-du-jour.  (By the way, I've been meaning to invite you all over for the weekend -- sound appealing?)  Also, the success of it depenends entirely on my own steam which is appealing to me.  What can I make of it?  I've always had a tiny dream to own my own business and it's giving me a taste (or scent - ha ha) of that.  Finally, I make some money doing it.  A hobby that actually makes you money?  What's not to like. 

So yesterday at Victory Lady Fitness in Short Pump, I met some awesome women who own, manage and go to that gym.  I'm thinking of joining myself!  They did not pay me to say that.  Also - I met some great potential customers and some very cool women who also sell stuff.

Now I arrive at the point of this post.  There are a lot of companies out there that women are selling things for.  Scentsy.  Avon.  Mary Kay.  Party Lite.  Thirty-one.  Stella and Dot.  ItWorks.  Pampered Chef.  Arbonne.  Miche bags.  And more - and my apologies if I misspelled any of these companies' names.  This is my blog-version of a Shout Out to them. Where my fellow sales-gals at?  Holla!  I realize - as we all should - that you're doing something you enjoy, trying to grow yourself and support your families.  Double holla!

Since I started selling Scentsy I've gotten a variety of reactions.  Some people act like I'm selling used cars or suddenly have a contagious disease and avoid me and the topic.  Some people act like it's a bother that I even told them about my new endeavor, saying that they just steer clear of friends selling things.  Some people have been really supportive, respectfully interested - and some couldn't wait to try it out! 

I encourage you all to try out this last category.  Let me ask you.  Would you rather buy Maybelline or Cover Girl, and support Queen Latifa's or Drew Barry Moore's paycheck?  Or buy similarly-priced products from Avon and support your neighbor's bottom line?  In a time of high unemployment, I unequivocally vote for the latter.  I love Queen Latifa but I'm pretty sure she makes more than my neighbor.  And if you buy Yankee candles anyway, why not give Scentsy a try?  It's safer and you are helping a friend instead of a faceless far-away company.

I don't care if you ever buy anything from me, but if you did you'd get the highest quality customer service, as I'm sure is true of many of your friends who may be selling stuff.  Think about this as Christmas approaches, or the next time you buy a tube of lipstick at Walgreens or a necklace you just have to have.  Imagine that 20% or more of your purchase could help a fellow mom or friend put food on the table (or get a newer car, get new carpet or go on a real vacation - these are my goals).... and maybe you'll make a different choice.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Heart Birth Control

I woke up yesterday morning and all of a sudden it seemed like National Stupid People Day.  In addition to people going absolutely nuts in rain-driving department, I heard an infuriating story on NPR about how people are now not only opposed to abortion but to birth control in general.  Note:  I am not calling these people stupid, but they said things that sounded stupid to me.  I heard one female elected politician compare insurance coverage of birth control to covering manicures and pedicures.  I heard a male politician voice his opposition to birth control because it 'prevents babies from being born' and defended the provision of Viagra but not birth control by saying that sexual dysfunction is an 'actual medical condition' while people can decide whether to have sex or not.

That's right.  I just used the "s" word.  That's my first rant.  Apparently politicians think that the only purpose of having sex is to make babies... but I bet if you ask marriage counselors/therapists/ANYBODY they would tell you that sex is an important aspect of a relationship that builds and expresses intimacy and affection with your same-or-opposite-sex life partner and within a marriage, it makes that marriage stronger which is what I thought politicians on the same side of these anti-family-planning-nonsense would be in favor of!  This is truly hippocracy at its worst (or best).

Also - wrap your mind around this.  By covering Viagra but not birth control, I believe these politicians are advocating cheating on your wife.  If a man is using Viagra he clearly intends to have sex.  But if he does not want that sex to result in a pregnancy, he cannot have sex with his partner.  Catch 22. 

So here is my ode to birth control.  And let me be clear here:  I'm mainly talking about the pill, IUDs, that a) women can control, b) have lower failure rates than condoms... but condoms are great too.  And I'm not leaving out the men but let's be real here, the burden of all things pregnancy-and-baby-related falls more heavily to the woman.

Birth control, birth control, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  You make it so that women/girls who make a perhaps-unwise-and-regrettable choice of having sex with men/boys can avoid a life-course-altering pregnancy and possible abortion.   Oh birth control, you realize human dignity and that humans should be able to plan their life.  You help those are interested to do so.

Oh birth control, your starring role is helping women plan their lives, live their dreams, and not be subject to unlimited childbearing.  But if that is a woman's choice, that's cool too.  You help the woman who wants to wait until she's married, or 28, or has a career.  You help the family who wants to wait to have a baby until there is money and food to feed the baby and rest of the family without having to rely on government assistance (Pay Attention, oh hypocritical politicians). 

Birth control, my ode to thee includes Thanks for for helpings couples be able to space their babies, for you understand that it is often easier and more healthy for everybody if there is some healing time.  And thank you for helping these couples decide when enough is enough.  And I'm not talking about manicures.  I'm talking about babies.  For you recognize the wisdom of couples to realize their means and be able to live within them.

Oh birth control, you neither hate babies nor want to destroy them.  You love them, and want to help them be born healthy and their parents be happy and healthy too.

Oh manicures and pedicures, how did you get into this conversation?  Providing birth control to women is NOTHING like providing manicures and pedicures.  That's just plain stupid, so mani/pedis you're officially ejected from this Ode.

UPDATE:  You can read the original story here.  Sandy Rios is NOT an elected official, but a woman with a stage and conservative opinions who made the mani/pedi comments.   Her website is  Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) made the other lovely comments; you can reach him at

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mommy Blogger Reject

Perhaps I am trying to do too much.  It doesn't feel that way.  We've (that's me and Roy) got it all under control.  I work full time (leave at 7 coffee and necessities in hand thanks to Roy, home by 6, grocery shopping on my lunch break, dropping up and picking up both kids thank you very much!).  I sell Scentsy on the side for fun and a little profit (hopefully).  We spend all our free, extra, evening and weekend time focused on the kids.  And I like to write so I dabble with it for, and here on my blog. 

So why do I feel left out of the blogosphere?  Maybe I'm late to the train.  The train left several years ago and I'm trying to jump on board.  I read through mommy blogs and it seems like there's a whole community and a whole lingo and to be accepted into Their Community would take an additional piece of my brain I just can't sacrifice.  Plus I wouldn't even know where to begin. 

Who are these mysterious mommy bloggers with witty and insightful musings about their lives and children?  How do they have time for daily posts?  And who are the select handful whose musings turn into book deals?  Who can be accepted into their community and boards?  Clearly not I.

So where does that leave me?  I have one follower other than myself.  I don't even think people read this.  My husband wonders why I do this.  Well, because I look at other mommy bloggers and I have stuff to say every bit as important as what they're saying...  just with less time and no foot in the door.  And so I trudge on... trying to be the voice of the full-life mommy/wife/woman, sharing my own occasional musing about it on here, and not caring if somebody reads it or not.  (But if you do, leave me a comment so I know!)