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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

My joy for today is 9 years of wedded bliss.

A few days ago, my husband and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary!

Chad and I went to the same high school, started dating the summer before our senior year of high school, and got married the summer after we graduated from college.  So we have actually been a couple for 14 years.  Wow, that’s crazy.

A few weeks ago, Tucker had a very painful neck.  He woke up crying, treated it very gingerly throughout the day, and had trouble laying down because it strained his neck.  Besides that, he was symptom free, but of course, thoughts of meningitis, brain tumors, and deadly diseases swirled through my head.  I debated taking him to the doctor or to the ER all day, discussing it with Chad on the phone several times.  As soon as Chad got home, he took over the Tucker problem.  He played with him, tickled him, told him jokes, and amused him continuously, all while testing his range of movement and pain levels.  After his Daddy took over, I was convinced he was fine.  Chad put him to bed that night and I was totally relieved of the worry and anxiety that had nearly incapacitated me all day.  I would be a mess without my man.

Like many husbands, Chad is a “fixer.”  Sometimes, this causes tension because if the problem is only emotional, it is difficult to fix quickly, and that frustrates him, and at times frustrates me when he is focused a little too much on fixing instead of listening.  However, without my “fixer,” my world would be destroyed.  He is my partner in life, in parenting, in finances, in love.  The day with Tucker’s neck pain is a perfect example of how we complement each other.  I was being overtaken with my emotions about his pain, the possibilities of what could be wrong, and the choices of action.  Chad came home, “did” a bunch of stuff, and solved the problem.  I cannot bear to imagine my life without him.

For our anniversary a few days ago, we didn’t do anything too special.  I am thankful to be beyond the point in our marriage that we feel we need to do something amazing to celebrate.  We used a Groupon for a couple’s massage at an interesting spa, picked up food from a favorite local Italian place, came home and put our kids to bed.  We agreed to not give each other gifts, but that usually means that Chad does actually get me something little, which I love.  We gave each other cute cards, and then Chad had two gift bags for me.  One contained two boxes of doughnuts and the other bag contained a very touching gift.  I had mentioned a few months ago that I had happened to pick up an amazing water bottle from a gas station.  It just had the perfect rate of delivery of water, as well as an ergonomic mouth piece.  I just loved it, but could never justify buying such fancy water.  My second gift from Chad was 10 of these water bottles.  I was so impressed that he had remembered something that I had mentioned in passing so many months ago.

There is no way to summarize in this post my love for this man, who is my life partner, the author of the love story of my life, my faithful cheerleader, my most active blog follower and editor, and the father to my children.  I can only simply say, thank you Lord for giving me the gift of my husband.  And thank you Chad for choosing to love me every day.  You bring safety, stability, love, happiness, and overwhelming joy to my life, and to the lives of our precious children.  I love you more than words could ever say.  As you said, looking forward to the next 70 years together.

Enjoy your joys for today.

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My joy for today is birthday parties.

This past Saturday, we attended two children’s birthday parties.  We have been invited to at least one party every weekend this month.  For those of you that don’t have kids, do not be under the false assumption that we are very popular.  When you are a parent of school-age children, it is just part of the job description.  Sometimes these parties are great, sometimes they are not.  But they are always thrilling for our kids and we are always honored to celebrate a special moment in a friend’s life.

So far, we have only hosted one birthday party that included more than family for any of our four kids.  We are attempting to institute a 5, 10, 16 year old plan for big birthday parties.  Time will tell if we stick to that proposal.

In the meantime, we will enjoy entertaining our kids by celebrating other kid’s birthdays.  The cake, the presents, the games, the entertaining locations; free food, fun, entertainment, and time with friends, for both the kids and for us; it all makes for a pleasant way to spend some weekend time.

All of these parties also allows my kids the opportunity to do a lot of things that they do not normally get to experience.  At birthday parties, we have been to several farms, where we held chickens, rode horses, and got to take home freshly laid eggs, played laser tag, had gymnastics lessons, karate lessons, enjoyed bounce houses, many different pools, parks, and friend’s backyards, just to name a few.

Having kids can help you and hurt you when making friends.  At birthday parties, you have as many new friends as you choose to talk to, at least for the several hours of the engagement.  You are in it together, to have fun, to eat, to help your children with the new activities, to socialize, and to survive.  It can be overwhelming and exhausting, but as with so many aspects of having children, it is a simple, short-lived joy.  Twenty years from now, I might not miss navigating the crowds at Chuck E. Cheese, but I will miss seeing the overwhelming joy on my child’s face from a simple cupcake and goodie bag.

Enjoy your joys for today.

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My joy for today is getting close to one pound gained.

Our sweet baby girl has been struggling to gain weight for several months.  At ten months old, she weighed 15 lbs. 9 oz.  She is the size of an average 4 month old and far below the growth chart.  Between the ages of 6 and 9 months, she gained just over a pound.

Amelia is our fourth, and she is the first to ever have an ounce of formula.  I have nursed my other children for about 16-18 months.  But with exclusively nursing not really seeming to be helping our sweet girl grow sufficiently, we had to make some changes.  I have offered bottles to some of my other kids, but none of them have ever taken them.  In order for Amelia to take a bottle, it took literally about two weeks of her screaming in my face, for two hours, two or three times a day.  She will now take two 5 ounce bottles each day, with only minimal crying, in addition to nursing 3 or 4 times per day.

She does not eat solid food yet, which is similar to the pattern that my second and third children took.  They each did not really start eating any food until almost a year.  I keep offering food to Amelia a couple  times each week, and she keeps spitting it out.  Once she does start eating solid foods, we will load her up with full fat yogurt, avocados, and after she turns one, add Pediasure to all of her food.  We took this same course of action with Tucker when he had trouble gaining weight, so it is familiar territory.

Why is it so easy for me to gain a pound and so hard for my tiny princess?  It is extremely frustrating.  Most of the time, I am able to stay incredibly grateful that she is overall healthy and developing well.  I know many parents struggle with much, much larger issues.  But when anything is wrong with your little ones, it can be difficult to keep perspective.  If you are so inclined, say a prayer for her ounces to come and stay, as well as my sanity.

Enjoy your joys for today.

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My joy for today is helping to bring a voice to women.

It is a big day!  NPR responded to letters in regards to the gaffe by Mara Liasson, in which she separated educated women and stay at home moms into two distinct groups.  She admitted that she misspoke and acknowledged that NPR re-recorded the interview for later feeds of the program.

My blog was quoted in several news outlets, and a paragraph from my original post (https://myjoyfortoday.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/educated-stay-at-home-moms-an-oxymoron/) was used in many articles.  I am very proud to have helped give a voice to the many women, just like me, that were sitting alone in their cars, or with their families, or around the breakfast table , and were shocked by being labeled into such separate and insulting categories.

In the days following my post, I had a few negative comments, some alleging that I am perpetuating some “war” between stay at home mothers and working mothers.  As I said to this commenter, that is certainly not my intention.  The only “war” I may be waging is against a bias in the media towards women, and in particular, against educated, multifaceted, opinionated women, who may choose to be primarily home with their children.  I believe that society tends to want to label women into distinct categories, in a much different way than we do towards men.  I will not wage a war against the parenting choices of other women, but I will wage one against the tendency to assume that these choices were not carefully and thoughtfully made.

Also, some have said I should “calm down” about this issue; Ms. Liasson only misspoke.  Why is it that women are often told to “calm down”?  If this error in phrasing had happened against a different disenfranchised group of society, no one would dare tell a proponent of this group to “calm down.”  There is a vicious tendency to accuse women of being emotional when we are passionate.  This is unacceptable and insulting in the worst way.  When I have a right to stand up and be heard, I will do so in an educated, informed, and just enough calm manner as is appropriate.

Today, I have changed many diapers, nursed my child, fed that same child a bottle, made a meal for a friend that had a baby, rode my bike with my son to his piano lesson, had lunch with my grandmother, finished several hours of homeschooling, cleaned the kitty litter, played a game with my kids, did the dishes, watered plants, graded some research papers, responded to e-mails, and wrote this blog, among other things.  I am an educated stay at home mother.  It’s not an oxymoron.

Enjoy for your joys for today.

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My joy for today is being rescued at Target.

A few days ago, I went to Target, quite ambitiously, after visiting a friend.  I only had two kids with me, so it seemed like the trip should be a breeze.  It was going well, except for the fact that I had to pick up a few very heavy and bulky items- kitty litter, diapers, a few groceries, and some outdoor chairs.  The chairs were on sale and although I had thought about asking the hubs to get them on the way home from work, I wanted to accomplish everything on the list, all by myself.  That was not in the cards.

I got everything on my list and then went to the outdoor section.  I picked up the handy red phone, asked for help, and was quickly greeted by a Target employee with very little personality.  She was about fifty years old, and neither pleasant nor unpleasant.  I showed her the five chairs I wanted, she put them on a cart, and I met her at the register.

We had to practically sprint to keep up with my cart of chairs and the nonplussed Target employee.  Cart overflowing with kitty litter, diapers, milk, bananas, a ten month old, and being followed by a cheerful but tired three year old, we made it to the front of the store.  I paid for my items with a more friendly Target employee, although I found out later she had not applied a coupon correctly.  Another employee was called to help take my chairs to my car.  He was a young man that worked mostly in the parking lot, with several piercings, a hat, and was friendlier than employee number one.

We walked out towards my vehicle and non-smiling employee number one said that they would wait at the curb and that I should pull my car up to the entrance.  I pointed out to her that my car was right in front of us, in the third or fourth spot from the store, but she insisted they wait at the curb.

I packed my kids and all of my groceries into my vehicle, and pulled up to the curb as instructed.  I got out of the car, and thought for the first time about where all these chairs might fit in my car.  I drive one of the largest SUV’s on the market, but have four car seats inside.  As I opened the back lift gate, I started to think my ambition for this shopping trip was misguided.

Young hipster Target employee:  “I don’t think these are going to fit.”

Tired Mother of 4:  “Really?”

Hipster:  “No, I don’t think so.  I had this same problem the other day with these chairs.”

Loyal Target Customer:  “Oh crap.  Can we maybe get one or two in?”

Hipster:  (Tries pointlessly to angle a chair into the back.)  “Nope.”

Meanwhile, older Target employee stands by silently, looking annoyed.

Me:  “Well, what should I do?”

Not Target Employee of the Year:  “You’ll have to come back inside and return them.”

Annoyed:  “That’s not going to happen.”

And so began an uncomfortable period of silence.  They just looked at me.  I just looked at them and thought about how I was already running late to pick up my second from preschool, half an hour away from this store.  I also thought about the absurd idea of parking again, getting two overly tired children back out of the car, and going inside to return these chairs.

Me again:  “Can you just take them back inside and I will have someone pick them up later today?”

Employee #1:  “No, we cannot keep any merchandise that has been paid for in the store.”

Beyond Annoyed:  “Well, I’m not going back inside.”

More uncomfortable silence.

Me again:  “What if I could have someone come get them now?”

Unimpressed Woman:  “How long until they would be here?”

I proceed to call my amazing, nearly perfect cousin, Jason, who works in the area.  I was praying he was not having a busy day at work or was possibly having his lunch break.  By an actual miracle, he was right across the street at Wal-Mart (which was looking better and better all the time).  He has a very useful pick-up truck.  I told him my absurd predicament, and he said he would be over as quickly as possible.

I turned back to the Target employees and explained that my hero would be here soon.  They were surprisingly unimpressed with my resourcefulness or with my soon to be hero.  By their silence, I sensed they were still confused as to what to do.

“So just leave the chairs on the sidewalk and I will watch them.”

Possibly least helpful employee of the year:  “We can’t just leave them there.”

“Yes, you can.  I paid for them, and that’s what I want to do with them.  I will assume responsibility for them.  I will watch them from my car and if someone tries to take them, I will yell at them in my scariest voice.”

Hipster:  “I’ll be in the parking lot most of the time, I can keep an eye on them too.”

Finally, someone at this store is on my side!

Hipster:  “We could just put them by your car in the parking lot.”

An actual suggestion!  Will wonders ever cease?

Don’t worry, non-helpful woman is just silent.  She seems annoyed that this is actually working out for me.

I get back in my car, drive to an uninhabited area of the parking lot, and the Target force of two brings my chairs over on the flats.  They put them right next to my car, and I sit.

In very little time, my cousin comes to our rescue!  It was quite easy to find me, as I was the one in the huge SUV, with five colorful outdoor chairs next to my car in the parking lot.  All I needed to complete the scene was a grill.  He drove over, got out, and I told him the whole ridiculous story.  We laughed together for a while, as we do so gloriously often, he put the chairs in the back of his truck, and I stood amazed at what a joy it is to have my cousin in my life.  I am certainly not even attempting to summarize how much I adore and admire Jason in this post.  This is just a teaser.

I drove away, with a new story in the crazy times of a busy mom.  Although I am still a loyal Target customer, I was incredibly underwhelmed by the attitude and helpfulness of one employee in particular.  But in frustration and loneliness in a Target parking lot, came a chance to add yet another story in the saga of trying to do it all, well.  Sometimes we just need a little help from our friends, or cousins.

Enjoy your joys for today.

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My joy for today is my precious three year old.

Our adorable Tucker turned three yesterday.  With all the traffic on my blog from my last post, I decided to wait a day to tell the world about my beautiful boy.  Anyone who started following me because they thought this was exclusively a political blog, feel free to click unfollow now.  As I elaborated on in my last post, I am not just a stay at home mom, but I am primarily a stay at home mother and wife.  My God and my children are the primary source of my daily joys.

For those still with me, let me publicly wish my Tuck a happy third birthday.  He is an incredibly smart, funny, caring boy.  He is almost always happy and greets us every morning with a smile and a cheerful, “Good Morning” to each member of the family.  He loves Star Wars, Mickey Mouse, Thomas the Train, Caillou, Woody and Buzz, dinosaurs and cars.  He loves to play baseball, do puzzles, play outside, ride his tricycle, and look through books.  He plays make believe with his big sister for hours, pretending to be at school, Disney World, the beach, the store, or the doctor.  He loves to listen to music and is a very entertaining dancer.  He enjoys doing “shows,” singing songs for a small audience, and impressing people with his ability to identify letters and numbers.

I have a special song that I sing to each of my children.  Tucker is quite sensitive, cautious, and would not be described as adventurous.  At this point in life, he cries very easily when he gets hurt.  When he cries, 99 out of 100 times, I only have to sing the first line of his song, “Don’t cry little Tucky” and he stops immediately.  My amazing hubby can also flip this switch almost as easily by singing the one line, “If you’re happy and you know it.”

Tuck spends a lot of time with my Granny.  They are so much more than relatives, they are best friends.  They have a great time together and when Tucker knows Granny is coming over, he always cheers.  I am so thankful for this special bond for both of them.

This post does not have any deep, controversial, or momentous meaning.  It is a simple happy birthday wish for my precious boy.  Tucker, I am so thankful for you and I love you tons little buddy.

Enjoy your joys for today.  

My adorable birthday boy!
Thanks again to Spencer for the amazing picture.

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My joy for today is defending the choices of American mothers.

A few days ago, Hilary Rosen, speaking in support of the Democratic Party, said that Ann Romney could not understand the economic problems of women because she, as a stay home mother, had “never worked a day in her life.”  In the time since, the Obama campaign has emphatically distanced themselves from Ms. Rosen, the President and the First Lady issued statements in support of stay at home mothers and the personal choices of women, and Ms. Rosen publicly apologized and cancelled a scheduled television appearance.

This morning, Mara Liasson, NPR’s National Political Correspondent, was discussing the recent media frenzy over Hilary Rosen’s comment.  Ms. Liasson summarized events of the past few days and then was attempting to segue into talking about the differences in female voter support for each candidate.  In doing so, she continued the demeaning and belittling conversation on stay at home mothers.  She began the next part of her commentary with this quote:

“His [Mitt Romney’s] problem isn’t with stay at home moms, it’s with educated women.”

Stay at home moms are not or cannot also be educated?  Ms. Liasson and NPR, is this your official stance on my demographic?

I attempted to find the transcript and audio file of this morning’s broadcast.  The file that is available for the 8 am show does not contain the quote that I have discussed.  Ironically, the audio file and transcript are simply not the same as the one we heard in the car this morning.  I do not claim to understand the intricacies of radio broadcasting and realize that there may have been many versions of the broadcast that we heard.  However, the quote by Ms. Liasson was certainly part of at least one version of today’s program, and many comments on NPR’s website show that we are not the only listeners who caught this outrageous comment.  If Hilary Rosen owed women an apology, it seems only fair that Ms. Liasson and NPR do the same.  In the spirit of honest journalism, why not admit your mistake and apologize to your faithful listeners?  Do you assume that stay at home mothers are so uneducated that they were not even listening and therefore are not even owed a response?  Please do not continue to belittle us with your silence.

The many ways in which this statement by NPR is incredibly insulting seem almost too obvious to list.  But for the sake of my daughters, and in hopes that they will someday read this and know that their mother was in fact, both choosing to be at home with them, and educated, please indulge me while I expound this topic.

Hilary Rosen began this onslaught against stay at home mothers by stating that we do not work.  She was obviously referring to gainful employment, we are not paid for our profession, and so we understand her point, albeit insulting and grossly misstated.  Mara Liasson basically stated that stay at home mothers, as a group, cannot also be educated women.  I find Ms. Liasson’s comment even more insulting than Ms. Rosen’s because it is revealing her own, and possibly the nation’s or large parts of society’s, deeply held, demeaning views on my chosen profession.

Dear National Public Radio, Ms. Liasson, and Society as a whole:

Please stop assuming and propagating the erroneous and discriminatory notion that I am not educated simply because I am a woman and I choose to be at home with my children.  A degree is not required to raise my children at home.  But I have one.  In fact, I have more than one.  I choose to spend a large part of my day teaching my daughter to read and reviewing sentence diagramming with my son, but that does not mean that I could not also discuss the current political climate or the nuclear situation in North Korea.  I choose to limit myself and my career because I believe it is best for my family that I be at home with my children.  This is not sad.  This is not anti-feminist.  This is my choice as an educated American woman.

Enjoy your joys for today.

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