Dec 31, 2008

Lack of Time and Focus....

Well, I had to skip creating any new blog posts in lieu of tending to all that Christmas entails. I jotted down numerous notes on new ideas and topics, but things are still going.

The day after Christmas, my husband took our 3 children to his mother's house for 3 days. Exciting stuff. I organized and accomplished much on my To-Do list--stuff that I need to get done to place myself onto the top of my priority list for a change, guilt-free. See, I cannot just do it knowing that so many other things require my attention, so the solution is to put things just so to avoid this line of reasoning.

Hubbie brought the kids home Sunday night. He complained that he didn't feel well and my oldest expressed the same. As I unpacked the luggage, I noted that he had packed all 3 of their toothbrushes together in the same baggie - you just shouldn't do this on a good day, no? Just thought he and my oldest had eaten something bad because nobody was actually "sick" and it was past their bedtime when they arrived, I ran their toothbrushes under very hot water, thinking it would be sufficient. It wasn't long before my oldest vomited first in the middle of the night and DH started with the "other end." From there, my 3-y/o joined them so that Monday was an extraordinary day to say the least. Tuesday, nobody was up for eating still and only the youngest was still having the hind-end issues. My daughter, with the sweet tooth of all sweet tooths....although she said she felt fine, she did not eat anything nor drink much over the last couple of days, including sweet stuff, so I knew she was out of sorts, but at least she didn't spew anything.

Hubbie kept apologizing that now I was running around like a headless chicken, cleaning this and that, wiping up this and that, comforting all, offering fluids of all sorts to each whatever the special request might be. I told him that I was only disappointed in 2 things....1 that neither he or his mother had the sense to move the 3-day visit after discovering she was having diarrhea, and 2 that he put all those toothbrushes together like that and probably had them that way throughout the visit.

I was as careful as I could be, but despite that I now have the GI bug, albeit less in severity than they. There just isn't any way to avoid it at ALL costs when so many are running around with the same virus. However, they are all up and about and arguing tday so I asked DH to not go to work today. I slept most of the day away bundled up, despite not having a fever. It's really the first time that everyone here has caught such a bug - wow, does that keep you on your toes. DH and I have discussed, off-handedly, what is it that prevents your tummy from accepting that which is not causing a problem, to make it literally pump out the contents in order to empty it? Not fun and feels totally different as an adult than I remember it as a 10-year-old. lol.

So, instead of sharing some cute stories over the past week, I sit here completely unmotivated and not very creative. Upping the quality of the posts I'd like to share in the New Year is a goal of mine, whether I decide to divide my blog into many or find a way to learn how to organize this one the way I would like it to appear - that's the organization freak in me....I don't like these 3-column deals...I want categories. lol.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Dec 17, 2008

Our 12th Wedding Anniversary......

Okay, so a little hubby is terrible at gift-giving.....well maybe not for every gift, but hearing me drop hints and even directly pointing out the item I would love to have, he seems to miss the mark.

I should've realized this would be a lifelong issue throughout our marriage the moment he proposed with the ring that I had specifically said "No, I don't like that one. In fact, I actually hate that one." when he took me shopping. lol.

Again, after becoming a mother, I pointed to a mother's necklace that was different from the one everyone else was getting at that time.....he got me the one everyone was getting at the time.

A couple years ago he bought me the past, present, and future ring that I wanted, BUT he added a bunch more little diamonds all around the main stones - it now looks like a cocktail ring - not my style. It was obvious how that happened, despite my specificity with him on that one, as I later met the jeweler when I took him out shopping for an anniversary gift a year later - that man was a pure salesman and didn't like it when I told him he shouldn't try to talk people into something other than what they were after because they wind up with an unhappy spouse like me. lol.

I'm just a balanced and simple person. I don't like abstract, curves, waves, or tons of little diamonds scattered about in my jewelry - straight lines and balance is what I need, clean. Can't get anymore specific than that, or can you?

Anyway, we just celebrated our 12th anniversary. We've been together for 18 years total. We were talking and I said "Maybe we should just stick to that old tradition that lists items made of paper and woods and such for gifts, or maybe even go with the newer, more updated version. He said, "What could I get you made of paper? Paper lingerie? A paper airplane? Is plastic one? You could wrap yourself in cellophane and I could wear a condom!" @@@ I think we'll be sticking to whatever floats his boat at that moment, as his options for a crack at the traditional gifts appear to represent a bigger challenge for him! He may be clueless when it comes to gift giving and what I like or dislike, but he is definitely my best friend and I'm glad he's mine.

Dec 9, 2008

Secret Santa and Gift Exchanges at School

So many fathers like to label us mothers as crazy or half deranged raving lunatics when it comes to some of the things we encounter at school or the demands our children's schools can place on us, so it's been particularly entertaining listening to my husband's rant this evening.

He's managed to cover many of the concerns I've shared with him over the years as if his expression of them is the first time anyone has ever thought of them. Too funny.

It started with him greeting the kids upon their return from school and unloading the dreaded backpacks, but this time he actually decided to sift through the onslaught of papers himself since I declared it was not specifically my job and I taught him how to read them, jot down important notes/dates, etc. and THEN pitch them (his previous method was a quick glance and a toss into the trash--needless to say a lot of things were falling through the cracks here.)

I'm sitting down here working on accounts payable to hear the basement door unlock and open, to hearing his voice, "You HAVE to get up here and SEE THIS!" I'm thinking the baby is entertaining the family, but when I get up there, he thrust this piece of paper in my face.

My daughter's 3rd grade teacher has sent home the Secret Santa information, only this time, it is a bit excessive. Usually, if your child has a teacher who does this sort of thing at all, you are looking at a Secret Santa gift limit of around $5.00. Oh no, not this teacher. There are explicit instruction to buy 4 gifts each not more than $2.00 in value - $4 x $2 = $8. That's not the end of it.....then there are instructions to buy a "big" gift not more than $10.00 in value - $8 + $10 = $18.00. I guess the plan is to gift the children daily and give them clues as to who their Secret Santa is - cute concept and all, but couldn't the kids maybe make some gifts for each other or just give daily hints as to who the Secret Santa is throughout the week for the "big" gift giving day?

Hubbie is just livid that this could be expected of just anyone, despite it not breaking our bank so to speak. lol. He's rattling off the things those with a gift of consciousness have in relation to those less fortunate, i.e. Not everybody can afford this!-This is crazy!-SHE is crazy!-You know how many kids might be made to feel badly because their families can't do this?-Is she high?-Why on earth would we buy any child in that classroom more than 1 gift period?-Does she know that some families have 30 people to buy for?-Why waste the money on useless dollar-store crap rather than a thoughtful gift?!, and She's only given everyone a week to accomplish this!, etc.

It is definitely entertaining. It is usually me freaking out about things like the Simple Machine projects that make me thank the powers that be out loud that I have a husband to help my children accomplish them, but because I remember the struggles my family faced as a young girl, I ALWAYS think of those who are currently struggling.

We aren't stingy people. We do what we can to help those in needy families whenever possible.

I'm thinking there may be a series of complaints lodged with the school tomorrow, so I'm going to sit tight for a few days until I'm certain this stays this teacher's game plan. It's only one year, right? Unless, of course, our next child gets the same teacher. lol.

I could go on all day about the craziness we've encountered at school, the strange rules individual teachers can impose upon your family at their very whim that they themselves completely contradict, like the teacher who outlawed treat sharing on birthdays and instead wanted the birthday child to supply the whole class with gifts and yet handed out candy daily as a reward, but I'll save that for another post.

What do you consider a reasonable amount for gift exchanges at school? What do you consider a reasonable number of presents for gift exchanges at school? (barring those who do not participate in Christmas at all obviously).

Dec 8, 2008

So It Isn't Melamine or Shrapnel, but......?

What I found this time gearing up to eat a meal was disturbing - what is it exactly? So, it's round and shaped like the rest of the Is it a burnt meatball? It doesn't smell burnt? It doesn't really look burnt, other than it being black......Had this rolled into the pan anywhere near the day I already cooked up and eaten a batch of turkey meatballs for my family, I would have been really close to "tossing my meatballs" so to speak. The sinking feeling I developed in the pit of my stomach when it did so a week later was enough as it is.

Yes, I plan on making a telephone call today about it. I can tell you, however, based on past experiences......finding a piece of metal in my child's pudding cup, emptying out a can of green beans to witness a blackened corncob chunk fall amongst the beans, feeding pickles to my toddler (who would eat absolutely anything) only to discover somewhere in the middle of the jar it tasted as if they were packaged using a liquid chemical of some sort, finding the dead-dressing-drenched ladybug in my prebagged salad mix "that are used in the pest control process," which I chased around my bowl thinking it was a scrumptious bacon bit, capturing it, and only noticing the curled up legs and orange color as I brought it to my mouth.....I can say the numerous coupons about to be sent my way in apology will NOT be enough to encourage me to give it another shot.

So I cut it in half - texture of a crouton - probably burnt, although I have yet to see any meat this burnt look this way.

Sure, the metal-inexcusable; the corn cob-just another vegetable, right?; the chemical pickles - don't know-what do you do?-hire a testing company?; and this black little ball of a thing, probably just a burnt meatball?

Well, the metal, ladybug, and the corn cob only serve to make one wonder "what else" could possibly be going "wrong" in the manufacturing process. The chemical taste in my pickles only cause pause in wondering just how much better we are than China.

The apology coupons in an effort to keep me coming back, rather than being an apology with a request to send it back in for testing at their expense with a personalized followup answer, is disturbing as well.

Is it just me encountering these issues time and time again? I would think it happens to the majority of folks once, but over and over?

Nov 30, 2008

Very Thankful this last Thanksgiving

Despite being very thankful for the health and well being of all of my loved ones first and foremost, among the other many things I am thankful for, I found myself being extremely thankful this of the "funny" stories I have permission to share? Not sure yet -- maybe funny in a couple of months....

I was doing the usual running around all Thanksgiving morning trying to pack a lot of things for a day away from home....I pack a few toys to keep the youngest of the entire family entertained and out of mischief since he came so far behind the other cousins, extra clothes in case the cousins want to have a last-minute sleepover, extra clothes for potty emergencies for the youngest, cooking lunch while waiting for my outfit to dry (something is apparently wrong with our dryer), know, the hectic part about the holidays. I had turned on some chicken noodle soup for lunch on the stove so the kids could eat a little something before we left (they don't like holiday meals really-only the treats). I was folding laundry and DH hollered that it was boiling. I responded, "Well, it's ready then. Can you do me a favor and scoop it into bowls for the kids to let it cool?" He did this and then left for work.

I continued to gather things together, gate the dog into the back hallway (parents live 1.5 hours away and it always turns into a 10-hour total trip), load the car, etc. As I pulled into my mom's driveway, I realized I forgot everything I was supposed to bring. Sigh. I left the kids with her and then went about locating a store to repurchase some of those items.

It just seemed to be such a stressful start, worrying about being late, etc. to forgetting that "stuff," and then onto the know, some of the really annoying things that family can do. I don't want to get into details, but I pretty much just sat back and watched it all go down. Some things just really make me scratch my head. I wasn't up for it since I was running on 4 hours of sleep. As others would hear kid noise and ask, "Is that my kids?", I was the one to get up and check it out, etc. At one point, I was sharing a story with my mother as I helped her take the leftovers out to the garage fridge to note, by what she was saying, that my sister had some sort of problem with it. I'm confused, no idea why, as she and I had this discussion only a month earlier. She also happened to be interrupting me with a part of my story that *I* had shared with her and just had not yet gotten to yet with my mother. She came in really condescendingly, and I snapped.....don't get me wrong, when I say snapped, I don't mean lose my cool, but rather I called her on it, which nobody dare do with her. "Why are you saying this? Didn't I say this exact same thing to you a month ago?"

As we get ready to leave and I get everyone and everything back into the car (one of the cousins developed a fever during the visit, so no overnight), we can't find the DVD player remote for the car. So now I'm dreading NOT having THAT because I'm already listening to DH go on and on about how DS lost his Nintendo DS that he only had for 2 weeks, and I just can't imagine having to tack this on. See, DS loses his mind when he gets excited. He's just like his father this way, although DH will never admit this. DS had the remote as we pulled into my parents' driveway. He started squealing with delight and practically jumped out of the car before I had a chance to stop. At any rate, I then turn OFF the car, which has already been running to warm up for a good period, and head back into the house to try to find this remote. My parents look at me as if to say "What's up?" and I just let it go with a bit of a rant -- again, not something I usually do. I was definitely agitated by this point, about 9:30 p.m., about 30 minutes of searching. We found it and we headed home.

As I pull into the garage, DD wakes up crying that her arm hurts. I tell her to hang on because I have to rush to let the dog out and ungate the foyer so the kids and I can get through. As I enter my house, I notice an odd smell. Just didn't smell like our house. I let the dog out, and I can hear my DD screaming about me ignoring her. Couldn't believe my ears, but I was most certainly not going to rush to her side and reward her behavior. I went out to get the youngest first, again, her screaming her head off when I shut the door (I can literally hear her in the other end of the house from inside a closed car!). I went out again to get her, but she was still having at it, so I decided to unload all of our "stuff" first and told her she could climb up front so I could get her when I got back, and if she was still having a fit at that time, she would be walking herself), and on the last pass back by the stove, I definitely smelled gas. DH had turned that burner down to low, which we just cannot do because the slightest breeze knocks out the flames (even just walking by), but he continues to do this for some reason. I can't even believe I'm still standing there, let alone my home....this gas has been running on low for 10 hours! The dog was still okay. I noticed that I had luckily left the kitchen window open about 3 inches. I can't even imagine how much worse it would have been had I not done that. I opened all windows and doors to let the house clear out, turned off the furnace and turned on the fan unit, etc. The smell cleared out relatively quickly this way and now I only had to contend with DD and her hour-long crying fit about now it being too cold to change, don't want a shower or brush teeth, etc. @@

I called DH to tell him what he had done. I said "Umm, you left the stove on, and we're very lucky our home still exists after 10 hours." You know what he said?--"I didn't touch that stove today." (and this isn't the first time he has left the burner on, although I usually catch it within about an hour) @@. I just hung up. I just didn't have it in me to go into the explanation proving it was in fact his doing. I then called my dad after thinking about the "what if".....picture having a bit of a fit, more frustrated than anyone has probably seen me in a long while, news coverage....."local woman suspected of killing herself and her 3 children by blowing up the house....her family members tell us she was a bit off her rocker this evening, but they can't imagine her doing something like this." I told my Dad what happened and said "Dad, I just want you all to know that no matter how off my rocker I may seem at any given point in time, I would NEVER 'off' my family, OK?"

Nov 23, 2008

Might I recommend a solution now?

Well, I admittedly went off on a huge rant about not being able to easily locate and purchase things that magically appear in excess on E-bay....I got my undies in such a bunch I forgot to share how I deal with not being able to locate and purchase that one item the kids have specifically asked Santa for....

Create a letter on your computer in a really cute font that you feel best represents the magic or whimsy of Santa.....type your child a note and personalize it with compliments about some good things, such as doing so well with their manners, etc. and also with just a little reminder for improvement in any other area such as "Please try to be nicer to your sister next year." Add in a little thank-you for the Santa treats you plan to leave out, comments about how much the reindeer enjoyed their carrots, maybe even a little story about how worried he was as to whether or not Comet would get over his cold in time for Christmas Eve. Find some cute Santa and Rudolph style clip art and put it where you feel it fits best. Sign your letter from Santa, Mr. C, etc. with a colorful marker. After all of this, whichever parts you may choose, you can do 1 of 3 things, depending on the age of your can include an explanation of how the item your child asked for was so popular the elves just couldn't keep up and he is therefore including the coupon you've made to get that item from the store when it first becomes available (which you find a way to pay for, of course, on the sly somewhat), you can also include the cash for that item or a gift card to the store you plan to get it from later and entrust your child to safeguard it, or you can include a note for your child to hand an included envelope to either parent to be in charge of the cash for the more expensive item that is just too much money to hand to a young one.

Hope this helps for those times you just feel like a failure for not getting that one possibly year-long coveted item asked specifically of Santa!

By the way, I got my ornaments after a few phone calls and a short drive! Yeah, me!

Nov 18, 2008

Taking Yet Another Stand This Christmas Season

I don't know about anybody else, but putting aside the free enterprise BS, those e-Bayer sellers who constantly run around buying up products just because they know they are the "in" product, or discontinued product, or the last item in a series so they can grossly overcharge an innocent consumer who wants nothing more than to see their child's eyes light up upon discovering that much-coveted toy is now theirs or to hand them something meaningful to pass on to their own children some day are yet grating my last nerve again this season.

I took a stand when the Hallmark Polar Express Bell was gobbled up by the greedy opportunistic e-Bay sellers in the hundreds of listings on e-Bay by the same sellers instead driving 30 miles away to buy them in-store (and buying some and holding them for other family members who also could not find them) as my children fell in love with the movie magic created by the movie release a few years back at the precious ages they were then. They were oh so happy to wake and find those tell-tale red and white striped packages under the miniature trees we keep in each of their rooms.

I took another stand a couple years back when they did the same and when my daughter desperately wanted the Butterscotch life-like pony that you could sit on, feed, and brush that made galloping sounds, chewing sounds, whinnies and neighs (sp?), etc. that already cost $230 in a regular store instead calling a local retailer every single day two to three times a day for weeks, having the manager take my note to place upon one in the next shipment to arrive, etc. - BINGO. I even called stores 100 miles away trying to find one.

I took yet another stand last year and got really miffed as I tried to locate, and well before Christmas, still in November, the 3rd baby ornament in the series for my youngest. I started a first Christmas through fifth Christmas series for each of my children. It was frustrating to discover that the series was being ended early and if you wanted the fourth or fifth Christmas, you had to buy all three. I managed to find the third and fifth Christmas, but not the fourth. Wouldn't you know it, TONS of them on E-BAY! Completely infuriating. Nope, I'll just tell my child what happened to his series when he is all grown up. He'll live. No way on earth I would pay someone 3 times the price plus shipping when I believe their tactics to be wrong.

I went out today to try to buy the eighth in a series Hallmark ornaments for my two oldest--Gone already. I won't even look on e-Bay. I KNOW they will be listed there and will continue to be listed there for the next couple of years. Who knows, maybe longer. Another stand.

I will start my city-wide and then state-wide search in earnest tomorrow. I would rather drive 300 miles or pay a gift store $300 to obtain them than I would pay an e-Bay seller.

I estimate it wouldn't take long for everyone to follow suit for the dream crushing and keepsake-prevention to cease. It is the over-eager, competitive, and/or willing consumer who enables this practice to continue.

Put it this way, I'd much rather see someone with the wrong intentions get saddled with a deficit/loss each year, and a few phrases jump to mind because it frustrates me to no end.....sit and spin, take that ___ and shove it, and I hope you choke on it.

I will, however, buy interesting, unique, one-of-a-kind, handmade, original items on e-Bay.

Sorry, as I don't really mean anyone any harm--just being as blunt as I can be and honest about it.

I fantasize that one day as my children help my grandchildren hang those ornaments and share memories of hanging them themselves long ago, part of the story will include something like "Back when I was a kid, there was this online auction/selling company where people tried to buy up things they knew others would want just so they could get paid 3 times the amount it cost in the stores, but not your grandma - oh no - she was stubborn and strong willed and she took a stand! She hoped enough people would do the same, and they did! That's why my fourth Christmas ornament is missing."

Nov 5, 2008

Working at Home & Isolation

What happens when your husband lands a new job 100 miles (and more) from all of your friends and family just before you give birth to your first child and quit your full-time office job to move that far away with him?

You run the risk of people acting like you live on another continent altogether. People hardly come to visit. Over the years friends have even reverted to e-mail contact rather than telephone calls. Let's face it, talking on the phone with little ones is challenging on a good day, and since I became a mother later than most of my friends, once they achieved telephone-talking-with-ease status they then entered the overscheduled-child phase, which to this day does not afford anyone spare time. Still e-mail contact. Sigh.

Now compound that situation with working at home in a digital/internet era....practically no adult interaction/contact. My life literally consists of upstairs, downstairs, school, and the grocery store. You can throw in the doctor and dentist outings and only 1 sport each per child.

It is isolating enough that when my mom called at the last minute to invite me to travel to Illinois and camp out overnight in freezing temperatures to try out for Deal or No Deal, I actually jumped at the chance - it was actually appealing! Luckily, the folks at the Pier let everyone who could fit inside into the building so we wound up non-sleeping warmly on the floor of a public building with complete strangers. We met some funny folks and did have a good time. (Didn't make the show though). My husband was dumbfounded that I said, "It sounds like fun. Why not?" As soon as I said it and knew the weather forecast, I knew I was truly a desperate woman with a skewed perception of fun these days.

As a work-at-home mom whose job is computerized, including most communication with clients, you take chances to get out whenever they present themselves whatever the opportunity.

I've made new friends in this city, but I am forced to keep my distance somewhat, for my own sanity. The downside to being a work-at-home mother is that it is a rare person who understands that you have a real job to do and that you still have deadlines. If they could stop asking me for bogus play dates at my house wherein they arrive and announce as they wave goodbye they will be gone for 6 hours to another city or quit copping out on the kid swaps we've tried to plan (I keep their kids for 2 hours and they keep mine for 45 minutes or can't do it), I'd probably have more of a life, but that is not, nor has it been, my reality in the 10 years I've been working at home unfortunately.

You get the requests to let so-and-so's child ride the bus home with your child until they can pick them up 2 hours later from those you hardly know because they merely heard you work-at-home and must therefore just simply be at home, whether it be due to an older sibling's appointment for which they don't feel 2 or more children should be pulled out of school early, or not being able to greet them at the busstop for any reason, to the parent who is trying to accommodate the child who just simply does not wish to attend their sister's cheerleading competition or sports event and hearing a mother of a boy making a play date with your daughter while saying "Every Wednesday we need him to have a play date due to *this reason.*" Hmmmm, a/k/a free babysitting service. (Just FYI, if the play date is with your middle-child daughter who has a "cool" older brother, there is nothing but trouble, as that child will inevitably ignore what was supposed to be his playmate as he gravitates toward the boy stuff and older boy). It can get really astonishing the requests you receive with no attempts at hiding the true motives behind them, but worse, with no real consideration as to how this request will impact you. (You might not know it moms, but we're onto you!) It drives me absolutely crazy when a parent allows their too-young children to play with mine on days I have hired a baby-sitter to help me out - I still can't get work done worrying about whether or not my sitter can appropriately tend to my kids, let alone the 3 extra small ones who don't belong here, and on my dime picturing the other mother accomplishing her dish washing, laundry, or simply having an uninterrupted telephone conversation with her friends).

Don't get me wrong here either. I do readily do things out of the kindness of my heart such as snatch up the neighbor's older 4 children under the age of 6 just so that she and her newest baby can nap together, etc., but I have to do those things when I am able to, not because other people think I am able to or should be able to. I'm the first one to offer to take a child, even if it is inconvenient in someone's time of need, but I don't consider your schedule, other child's appointment, or your social life a time of need. When one of my children has an appointment, they all come with when there is only one parent available. I once sat here with 3 children down the street whose parents had to rush to the hospital to have a baby. This was no problem for me. I was happy to do it. It became a problem, however, on this school night, to learn that grandma and grandpa were also at the hospital rather than caring for these children. Couldn't they see that all of these children were going to be exhausted for school the next day, as it was now 11 p.m.? Couldn't they see that because they couldn't get to sleep due to the excitement (their children and mine at the novelty of a sleepover on a school night), that this was setting my work back hours and that I would have to stay up later to get it done? The answer is "No." The work-at-home life seems a breeze to outsiders.

For me it got to a point where I knew not to answer my phone, that I had to outright say "I'm sorry, but I can't because I have to work." and NOT buy into the child-swapping ideas with just anyone. Funny thing is, out of all these people, those who only required my friendship to serve their purposes no longer call at all and are therefore not a true friend. Because I can't tell who these people are or are not in advance, I have to keep my distance.

It is important to take into consideration that a work-at-home mother does have a job to do and that while you think she is always available, she is not. A work-at-home mother would LOVE to be your friend because she craves adult interaction due to her isolation, if friendship is all you expect or demand of her. Talented at juggling, time-management, prioritizing, and sacrificing is the work-at-home mother, and she will be there for you, and even offer to be there for you, whenever you need it or could just use a helping hand regardless--if you don't abuse her. She could certainly use a helping hand herself some days.

Has this been your experience being a work-at-home parent? How have you dealt with those who just don't understand? How have you dealt with the isolation or how do you combat it?

Nov 4, 2008

Even the Best Laid Plans.....

It's been crazy here lately. I've been getting lectured by other working mothers about how I should just buy a store-made cake, store-made costume, etc., but the fact of the matter is that I WANT to do these things. I actually ENJOY them. I actually believe I was meant to do them. I get such satisfaction from doing them as well. I hate that my "life-n-stuff" gets in the way. I do the best I can.

I know my 3-year-old doesn't mind what his cake looks like as long as it had some train tracks and a Thomas engine on it and I know he didn't even care what he was for Halloween, other than avoiding scary since he's a big ol' Halloween chicken. lol.

I know not every working mother encounters the same issues as I do because circumstances vary so greatly. For me, however, I've learned that with working opposite schedules as my spouse so that there is always one of us with our kids, the days of the week an event/holiday falls on combined with his rotating schedule really impacts whether or not I can accomplish what I have planned. See, if Halloween had been on a Monday or Tuesday this year, I could have had "my" weekend days to tend to finishing the costume, baking the cake/decorating it, creating those mummy cookies my oldest son unknowingly volunteered to bring to class for his party, etc., but Halloween was at the end of the week and DH wound up having all sorts of last-minute overtime last week on his "weekend days" that I was counting on, including "my" whole weekend prior. Since I work around his schedule, it drastically cut down on my available hours to accomplish work, let alone all of these other extra to-do items I added to the list.

To complicate matters, my parents decided to come out for a visit on Halloween day for the first time in 18 months! Now instead of pizza and on-the-go foods (parents have dietary issues), I needed to cook a meal! I needed to have my 3-y/o's birthday party between 4:30 and 5:30 (the time the older kids get home and he wakes from his nap), serve up a dinner, finish sewing that bone on the costume, cake and presents, get 'em all dressed and go trick or treating in a one-hour period!

So, the cake didn't get decorated the elaborate way I had planned. Instead I did it in 20 minutes flat - thank goodness for green icing spray paint--I didn't have to tint the frosting myself to cover the top only for grass! Heck, he didn't even say a word about the pink frosting that should've been red!

I didn't get to make a new loin cloth for the Bamm-Bamm costume that was too tight for my little T-o-T'er, and the fleece body suit I made from a jammie pattern in a large size was now too big because the weather was so nice and we didn't need the extra clothes beneath them. This in turn meant that the red drape over his shoulder also fell down frequently. There was no pattern for the Bamm-Bamm parts - I just winged it. I think it was pretty darned good considering that was my first crack at sewing since 7th grade home ec! (the costume dilemma was also compounded by the fact that since the pattern actually fit all 3 of my kids I decided that I could make them all jammie bottoms, but this meant I needed to start with cutting out the largest size first and then reducing the pattern to the smallest size before I could get to the costume for the smallest kid!)

The foam DH bought from the craft store to carve into a club and a bone for the costume couldn't take the spray paint. The spray paint ate the foam, some sort of chemical reaction I suppose. I had to scramble to find a paper mache recipe, which is surprisingly easy - messy, but easy. Flour, water, and salt and newspaper strips. Set onto a heat register, it dries relatively quickly. This could now take the spray paint. (Beware of dogs, however, as ours wanted to eat them in a bad way - couldn't stop trying to lick them before the paint was added!)

I also did not make a salad for the dinner. Instead everyone settled for the cornish game hens with sausage stuffing and garlic asparagus only.

I also didn't get to send in the mummy cookies with my child to school that morning because we ran out of white chocolate chips and I was 2 cookies shy of making the class count (would have only been 1 shy had I not eaten 1, but they are so good and fudgie AND it seems some pantry gnomes were munching on the white chips, hence the shortage). The night before, I knew I was going to be cutting it close. I asked my son if it would be okay to have Dad stop and buy a store treat for the school party, but his eyes welled up and he explained that he had bragged about those cookies and another kid who had them had chimed in on their deliciousness, so all the kids were looking forward to them. Sigh. Yummy mummy cookies it is then. The cookies were finished the following morning and dropped off at school by noon.

I got it all done somehow, but my back and feet were aching from being on them for 2 days straight. Wouldn't you know it, all that work on the costume, which wasn't too bad, just stressful timewise with a little stinker who liked to sneak up on me and step on the sewing machine pedal, and my little real-life Bamm-Bamm decided after about 40 minutes that he wanted to go home and play with his new birthday presents. lol. Where are the Flinstones these days anyway? I had to find an online Flinstone episode to show my baby who Bamm-Bamm even was! It was the episode he got adopted and my baby loved it - took to clubbing items right away while saying Bamm-Bamm. He was really impressed at how strong he was. lol.

I took all day Saturday, a weekend day DH had in common with me for a change, and we both just recuperated from our week together as a family, which doesn't happen but once a quarter it seems. Sunday I worked all day catching up what I had to ignore on Friday, cleaning up, invoicing, etc., then back to the usual. What is really important to me is that all 3 of my kids were happy and have no idea what I went through just to see those smiles on their faces!

Oct 27, 2008

Tis the Season for Crud - Prevention Tip

We survived the strep and pinkeye with only 1 of 3 children catching it.

Obviously, I go from room to room with bleach disinfecting all commonly touched items such as toilet handles, doorknobs, faucets, and light switches, and I even still take the toothbrushes, the toothbrush holder, etc. and place them in the dishwasher as soon as diagnosis occurs or meds are started, but even that never stopped illness from spreading in the past. (Please note that I do NOT disinfect all toys, etc.! Only wish I had that kinda time).

I thought I should share the most effective way I've found of preventing spreading illness amongst the sibs to compliment the above-mentioned precautions that never seemed to work alone......the big reveal.....installing a multi-pegged towel rack and buying hand towels specially for each child that they recognize specifically as their own! Prior to buying this actual pegged rack, I had bought the stick-on towel-hanging deals - they were okay, but they fell off and broke if tugged on too hard.

I have 3 hand towels, of their own choosing, for each child, and they get washed every couple of days. A towel goes on each end peg, and the middle towel splits the middle two pegs to allow as much space between them as possible. They still touch slightly, but the kids don't use the sides - always the middle. I highly recommend adding this little trick to your arsenal of preventative measures! All I can tell ya is that I haven't had all kids sick simultaneously since installing it, and it has been years!

Why do I suddenly find myself wishing I had that block of wood to knock on that was in that The Big Idea voting contest I posted earlier? I hope my new desk is made of wood!

Addendum: 11/4/08: I just had an idea to keep these towels from touching yet still allow them to stay more up on the hooks than down.....grommets (sp?) Easy 'nuf, right?

Oct 24, 2008

Help Preemies and Their Parents!

When I was 14, my baby sister came into this world 3 months early. I also have 2 nephews who were micro-preemies, one born at 28 weeks.

The March of Dimes proves to be the champions fighting for preemies and research regarding the causes of premature birth.

Sign the Petition for Preemies urging support from the federal government, federal and state policy makers, hospitals and healthcare professionals, and business and workplaces. By signing the petition, among many other issues, you will be promoting the 14 proposed business and workplace standards including employee education on all aspects of a healthy preganancy, providing reasonable accommodations for nursing mothers in the work place, as well as for expectant mothers, job protection beyond FMLA including adoptive and foster care parents, and scheduling accommodations to facilitate and promote flex time if possible and time off for appointments through baby's first year!

Go to to browse their site, to sign the petition if you require further information, and to find out what you can do to help and how to donate!

Another "leak" story....

As a work-at-home mom, I work in the basement. Despite having heating vents down here, it is cold as all get out. In the summer, I frequently wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts, but am able to forego the slippers. Not in the winter. In fact, I sometimes add a blanket over my shoulders and a heating pad underneath my slippers in the winter. My feet still get cold, probably due to the concrete floor under my carpet.

A couple of years back, with feet that almost burned with cold, I finished for the night, at around 2 a.m. as usual. I went upstairs to wash my face and ready myself for bed. I had, however, noticed earlier I had an eyebrow hair, a stray one that appears from time to time, that needed plucking. I remembered I wanted to pluck this as I warmed the water running in the sink. This eyebrow hair, however, takes multiple attempts at plucking for some reason. It is almost as if it is cemented to my brain or something. All the while the water is running just under my nose in the sink as I stood there in my socks AND slippers on a bathroom area rug leaning in close to the mirror.

Suddenly, I felt this wonderful warmth spreading over the sides of my slipper-clad feet starting from the bottom up, slowly. I welcomed it. It felt so good. I thought for a brief second how wonderful it felt while wiggling my toes to suddenly realizing there was no heating vent underneath my bathroom vanity! I looked down and could see the rug beneath my overprotected feet was wet. What's worse I lifted the rug and could see the water it had damned up to remain under the bathroom vanity. I shut off the water, and suddenly I could hear more running water through the laundry chute door! I ran to the top of the stairs, and opening the door was as far as I needed to go. I could clearly see the waterfall I had created cascading from the ceiling. I hollered for my husband to come help. Firstly he was not happy about being awakened due to my stupidity and secondly he was not happy at how extensive this little mishap turned out to be.

As we stood in the basement waiting for the water to stop flowing through the ceiling and as I amazed at how that little vanity getting soaked upstairs for about 5 minutes could equate to a 6-foot radius circular waterfall over the entire center of our house and directly over the furnace and duct work, etc. combined with how it happened, my enjoyment of warm feet and having a blonde moment, the thought about the story from the view of sharing it in the future hit me and I got hit with the giggles. Who knows, maybe I was slap happy, but I do often tend to not get out of sorts because it just means you are still dealing with what needs to be dealt with, only now you're mad on top of it and complaining never helps anything......DH was not amused. He was scrambling around, as was I, and he yelled "I don't see what the hell is so funny!" He does now, but he didn't at that moment! Luckily for me, and DH's tendency towards a foul mood, the furnace survived and there was no extensive damage due to that part of the basement being unfinished at the time.

Oct 23, 2008

Is there a Positive?

Try as I might, I'm not able to find anything positive in this one. This is a photo of items that had been neatly organized and labeled into our storage room. Only a few have been removed so far too, the most important items. The rest is yet to come.

Why are they no longer neatly resting on the shelves from which they came? Because the toilet located on the floor just above them in our half bathroom overflowed and all of the water came down through the floor somehow around the floorboards and through the duct work via the vent next to the toilet.

I heard swearing and then "Get up here!" As he continued on, I said "I'd better go downstairs and check it out." Sure 'nuf. The large blue and white boxes are the boxes containing my wedding dress and train, the large slab of wood to the left is our extra table leaf. Both items I'd prefer do not make contact with remotely crappy water!

I think I mentioned before I had started a basement organizing campaign, and the storage room looked so nice. Everything in those labeled paper ream boxes now need to be placed into new boxes. The wooden shelves need to have bleach thrown on them, and I can barely type it, everything within them needs to be bleached as well, including the concrete floor. Overkill? Maybe for some, but for a feces germophobe, there is no other way.

I just spent the last 3 days trying to enter an invention/idea contest in my "spare time" and could not get either of my computers to upload media. I'd hit that upload button, but nothing would happen. Apparently the problem wasn't limited to me, and in the end, literally in the last 8 hours before the deadline, the sponsors agreed to let me e-mail them my 30 pictures. Felt good to have them finally there and my submission accepted, but the 3 days it took of downloading software, updates, trying this and that, changing settings, etc. really set me behind. When I got the kids into bed last night, I logged on to find that my submission information was completely gone and so was the contest. I thought, "All that work and it's over before midnight on the deadline date?!" I cried and decided to take a shower. The powers that be for the invention contest fixed the problem and brought back my information. Had this toilet issue happened last night during my meltdown.....who knows. lol.

I neglected my kids somewhat in an effort to make it, to edit pics, fill out forms just so, etc. (not really neglected, but it wasn't fun for them either)....they wound up missing half of a class they had on Monday as I attempted to videotape a presentation. They were angry, but in the end they didn't miss much and felt better. I completely forgot that I needed to pick them up at school before they got on the bus because bus delivery is later than the start of this class. I stayed up extra late trying to squeeze it all in. We had the strep throat and pinkeye, lots of disinfecting upstairs. It just seems like a blur. I was happy that task was over so that I could move onto my next major task that once completed is completely out of the way -- creating 56 bar graphs in Excel to put onto a website. Once this task was completed, it was time to get to the business of organizing my basement so I could start a brand new workout routine - how long this is now delayed, I can't even say for certain. I'll be bleaching and reorganizing that storage a little at a time in the little time I have.

What a bummer. It's hard to literally not raise up my hands and yell "What did I do? Why? Somebody somewhere hates me!" While I don't believe in self-sabotage, it sure feels like I'm being sabotaged a lot of the time, that there are forces working against me. Don't even know how I can type that out, as I also believe everything happens for a reason. Here's to hoping THIS positive reason magically appears, but somehow I doubt it. We might just be able to get my husband to laugh about it in the next 6 months. He doesn't tend to laugh about these things. I usually can, but not when my wedding dress and table leaf are mentioned in the same sentence as sewer water. Ugh.

Oct 20, 2008

Lovely - NOT - Discoveries of Motherhood

Three guesses what this picture is of!

This is a picture of me extracting some vampire teeth from my purse after blindly fishing for my keys and discovering their presence upon taking a peek inside. What's the big deal, right? Well, my son received these at a party the night before the discovery. The day OF the discovery he was diagnosed with strep throat AND pinkeye!

Ah well, I guess it's still better than the mom who discovered her child was using her chapstick on the cat's rectum because it looked chapped! LMAO.

Needless to say, all contents had to be disinfected for my own protection!

Oct 18, 2008

Kid-Free Jam-A Must Do!

Hubbie took all 3 kids to visit relatives today ALL BY HIMSELF! Woo hoo! I can get soooo much done so quickly when I'm alone, cleaning or otherwise--anything.

I know it makes you feel neglectful when you don't accompany your husband and kids on a trip to visit your in-laws, but I'm tellin' you, sitting my husband down and asking him to be adventuresome and take the kids to visit his family more often alone like I do when he is at work to give me alone time was one of the BEST things I've ever done. He has done it three times now in the last 4 or 5 months, which is the most time I've spent alone in all of 11 years of being a mom and all of the 12 years we've been married.

I also crank up the music and clean my hiney off - dancing and cleaning is actually fun in my opinion and good exercise, as evidenced by sweating! Thank God nobody can actually see me! At risk of showing my age, I'm gonna share my 80's list that I listen to. (keep in mind I didn't actually have all the time it took to find and upload 45 songs in order to get to use this player, but it's pretty close to how I would have made it had I had that kinda time!)

Oct 17, 2008

Fair voting on ideas....

I watch The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch whenever I am able to. They have a new segment where they challenge 3 people to pitch their ideas in 30 seconds that we, as consumers, fellow inventors, family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. can vote on as being the best of the 3 ideas.

One of the things that bothers me with running contests in this manner, is that one factor in particular can skew what may be the true results.

We see it all the time - Vote for me here (link provided), and some do so for online contacts even. Some people have more friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, etc. than others who would vote just to support you, not necessarily your idea. How do you vote when asked to?

Due to these reasons, let's try to give the participants of this "contest" some fair feedback, a fair vote! I call upon all of us, complete strangers, to vote on which idea we feel is best!

I do not know any of these contestants. I was just really irked by one of the past votes held here. I compared all 3 ideas, and reviewed them for practicality purposes, and the most impractical idea, in MY opinion, was winning! How could this be? Do people not see how completely impractical that item was/is compared to the others?!

Come back after reviewing their contestants! Let's talk about WHY you feel one product idea should win over the others! In the process, we can learn about the current state of consumer thought processes and attitudes!

View contestants here!

Halloween-Yummy Mummy Cookies

These cookies are a family favorite and they look forward to them every year now. It definitely takes some time, and although it looks like a fun project for the kids to work with you on, proceed at your own risk! I have let them help twice in the past, and I'm sure it would only get better each passing year, but now that I have an almost 3-year-old who must participate in everything, I will still be making these alone during naptime and coating after bedtime! The only drawbacks are the white chocolate hardening to any surface it comes in contact with when the kids are helping and having to keep two dishes of white chocolate simultaneously warmed and going rather than one when doing it alone. They are absolutely perfect PMS fix!)

(Note: I've had better success at achieving the mummy wrap look drizzling a cooled-down white chocolate mixture, but the toothpick method works okay too - you'll just need to find the right temperature to make it work best).

2/3 c. butter or margarine, softened
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
2-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (10-oz bag)
1 to 2 packages of white chocolate chips
1 to 2 tbsp. shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread, or oil)
1. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl until creamy.
2. Add eggs; beat well.
3. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended.
4. Stir in 1 cup mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough 15 to 20 minutes or until firm enough to handle.
5. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

6. Using 1 tbsp. dough, roll into 3-1/2-inch carrot shape. Place onto ungreased cookie sheet.
7. To form head, using 1 tsp. dough, roll into ball the size and shape of a grape; press onto wide end of body.

8. Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until set. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

9. Place 1-2/3 cups (10-ounce package) white chips and 1 tbsp. shortening in microwave-safe pie plate or shallow bowl (I use a a glass meatloaf pan). Microwave at HIGH (100%) 1 minute; stir until chips are melted.

10. Coat tops of cookies by placing one cookie at a time on a table knife (I use a cake-frosting knife) or narrow metal spatula; spoon white chip mixture evenly over cookie to coat. (If mixture begins to thicken, return to microwave for a few seconds). Place coated cookies on wax paper. Melt additional chips with shortening if needed for additional coating. As coating begins to set on cookies, using a toothpick, score lines and facial features into coating to resemble mummy. Place 2 mummy chips on each cookie for eyes.

11. Store, covered, in cool, dry place.

Oct 10, 2008

A 3-year-old's Idea of a Great Time...

Yes, he is almost 3 and, yes, he does use the potty. We have a number of diaper boxes we keep on hand for sorting, storage, etc. Use a karate belt to put through the handle holes of the box and make some choo-choo noises....pull slowly throughout the house.....and you have an imaginary train! There were frequent "All Aboards" as well, and each room was a station. I imagine if you have the time or energy, you could really decorate this box up well for the car, bus, or train fanatic! (This should work well for regular-sized toddlers -- my little guy is the size of a 5-year-old and the box held.) This actually seemed more fun to him than riding his actual battery-powered ride-on train.

Oct 9, 2008

Channeling My Old Self

I've recently felt the need to draw upon the days where I was required to keep CEOs organized, and the days where I had to keep 4 worldwide corporate headquarters executives organized simultaneously......if I could do it for them, shouldn't I be able to do it here?

I'm giving it a shot in my best problem-solving and practical way. No more sacrifices over here. No more making due with makeshift homemade solutions that aren't' working well enough just because they saved money. I need what I need. I'm spiffing it all up. If that means I have to hang those cabinets in my laundry room myself or hire someone to do it, I will.

I'm starting with my office and the basement simultaneously, since one seemingly runs into the other.

I am channeling the woman who used to be me. What tools did the companies I worked for allow me to buy to be at my best and most efficient? One of my favorites was a label maker. It allowed me to organize my drawers by color and, more importantly, read the labels quickly with ease. Colored hanging file folders mean the folder tabs are usually that color as well, which can be dark when you are using reds and blues and typing or handwriting the labels. The old file folder labels that we used to crank out in rolls on a typewriter were okay, but the label maker--THAT was something. I went out and bought one for just under $30 at our local office supply store. LOVIN' it. Here is an example of the difference!

Even though I'm not supposed to use it for anything other than my business, I thought I would share the ways in which someone who doesn't buy it for their home office could use it....pretty much for anything you want to! You can buy clear tape, colored tape, plain white tape. You can put symbols on your label ranging from the Poison skull and crossbones to a No symbol (the circle with a line through it), and even a present, telephone, or paw print (and many more). You can even print labels with borders that have your title surrounded by a candy wrapper or a banner style, and even a statement bubble or wooden board sign. Different fonts, different font sizes, bold, underline, time and date. You can even create a label with 2 lines of text. You can print off up to 9 copies of the same lable too. You just enter the data, hit print, hit the cut button, and remove the sticky backing and apply your label. Here is a picture of some herbs I cut and put in the freezer for storage.

I can't wait until all my drawers are divided appropriately by color and look neat and tidy with my new labels!

Oct 8, 2008

Support Fellow Entrepreneurial Women!

Being an entrepreneurial woman, I feel it is extremely important to support others! Together we can rule the world!

I was pointed to Darlene's blog from Our Creative Life. She is having a link exchange today of women entrepreneurs on her blog. If you are a woman running a business or making and selling a product, run on over and add your link, but be sure to also leave a comment so that everyone can learn a little about you and your business in return! Go visit and support other entrepreneurial women at!

Oct 3, 2008

Knee-, Back-, Water-, and Time-Saving Bathtime Tip....

Growing up, I remember my mother saying (in reference to my grandmother's bum knees), "She spent XX years on her knees bathing children every single night."

Now that I'm in my 11th year of giving nightly baths (only missing a few nights I can probably count on two hands due to children who love to run barefoot and get sweaty or dirty), I "get it" now.

I look at my knees and the first thing that stands out are the dark, rough patches that lotions just do not seem to help. It's worsened with shaving I think too. I can sometimes see how the razor has made its way into those calluses on occasion -- this can only exacerbate the issue.

I kneel on nice bath mats, so why this? Well, being a mom, THIS isn't the only time you kneel. You find yourself crawling on floors for various reasons - spot carpet cleaning, playing with the kids, cleaning the tile floors, the toilets, etc., but with 3 kids, the longest and most repetitive task is the bath. This can go on for who knows how long - depending on the number of kids we have I suppose. Sure, it didn't bother me much the first, oh, maybe 6 years.....but 11.....that's when the long-term effects set in! Start while it doesn't bother you and avoid it, period!

When I was pregnant with my last baby and was dealing with some severe back issues, I remembered spending nights at my grandma's house. I remembered getting baths in the basement in their concrete laundry tubs. I remember we loved it. My husband and I went out and bought a new, divided laundry tub for our basement. (I couldn't imagine putting them into the nasty ol' stained one that had been here probably since the house was built.)

After the baby was born, I returned to bathing upstairs in the regular bathtub. Then we ran into the issue of who to wash first and whether or not I would have enough hot water to accomplish all 3 each evening - the little guy liked to potty in the tub, which required a complete drain and refill, and the older 2 were too dirty to go first - gone were the days where I could just get all 3 in one tubful of water....ever heard the saying "Don't throw out the baby with the bath water?" I decided it was time to move back downstairs, all but the oldest who is bummed about it, and we have all loved every single minute of it.

Just as I did as a kid, my kids loved it and still love it. Even though our laundry room is unfinished and a tad creepy by kid standards, they still love it. They request it. My 11-year-old is now too big to fit and takes showers upstairs now anyway, but he does still try to work his way in for a crack at it. It's like a mini hot tub to them. As you can see, my 8-year-old still loves it and still fits (She hates showers.) The water is deeper for them, and they therefore stay much warmer throughout their bath. They also get to visit and pretend play with one another (even though there is 6 years between my last 2).

The bennies are:

  1. You use less than half the amount of water for both sides of a divided laundry tub than you do in a regular bathtub. (When you put the kids in, the level rises).
  2. You get to stand through the entire bath time.
  3. The bath time lasts about 20 minutes, including play time, for 2 kids together, rather than the 20 minutes for each individually upstairs for a total of 40 minutes.
  4. The dirty laundry hamper/sorter is right behind me, dirty clothes are put directly where they need to be.
  5. I can fold and sort laundry while they play. (Just don't start a load while they are in so as to not add washing machine drainage into one of those tubs!)
  6. They stay warmer with deeper water.
  7. They get towels warmed in the dryer to dry off with (wish I did!).
  8. My knees and back have been spared with no back issues since adopting this method.
  9. Toddlers don't tip over in a square tub like they do in a regular bathtub.
  10. My husband has agreed to finally "finish" this half of the basement. The creepy factor will be eliminated, I will get a new laundry room, and I still have at least another 4 years of bath time!

Oct 1, 2008

Children of the Library

I guess it turns out I have more to blog about than I originally thought!

Anyway, I can't quit thinking about a situation a worker at our local library shared with me a week or so ago. I keep trying to think of a solution. Is there even a solution? I had no idea people did this. Am I too isolated working at home? The only solution I can think of is moms helping other moms, and as a result their children.

Here it is in all of its ugliness.....Did you know that some parents leave their children at the library ALL DAY long in the summer day after day after day, for specific, obvious working hours? She shared that it isn't against the law to drop off well-behaved children to "spend time at the library." They, as workers, notice the patterns. They try their best to look after these children. The parents are even supplying them with a lunch to eat while there. Our library has a kiddie play room/activity area, even computers for them to use, etc. The scariest part is that she shared they also notice the elderly men sitting on benches in the kiddie room watching the children for extended periods of time. Sure, some elderly people simply enjoy watching youngsters, as it makes them feel young, as put to me by my neighbor who shares how much she enjoys watching my children play, but the alternative is a really scary thought and a complete possibility.

My first instinct was to berate these parents within my own head as I rolled my eyes at her in disbelief and disgust as she spoke to me, but the more I keep thinking about it, the reality of today is probably more likely the problem for the majority of these families. The majority of today's parents MUST work full-time jobs to make ends meet. Daycare is outrageously expensive, and really prohibitively so for many families. Single parents may be faced with the dilemma of "Lose your job if you call in sick one more time.", and consequently their insurance, even if it is through no fault of their own, i.e. because their child is sick or their daycare provider backed out on them at the last minute.

I try to envision how that completely frazzled mother must feel about the choice she just made. Was it the right decision? Child at risk over becoming homeless? I don't personally think so, but it certainly is a desperate choice to make in my opinion, and I find my heart aching for the women who feel they have to make the other choice. I'll never understand that, but it is not my place to judge another mother. (Also, I'm not "feeling" for those nonparenting parents that we all know exist).

It makes me that much more appreciative that I am able to work from home. When something unexpected pops up here, I can tend to it and just pull an all-nighter to accomplish the work. The only negative is that I am not up to par the next day. I don't have to explain to anyone what is happening here. I do, however, remember the days of having to call in for reasons other than myself being ill and experiencing that guilty feeling I should not be feeling.

What are your thoughts? Can you think of a solution for these people that I may be able to share with my local library? Maybe they can make gentle referrals to these parents out of the welfare of the kids?

Sep 29, 2008

The economy and my goals - scary LifeStuff!

I have to admit that I don't get to follow the news much, as whenever I have a child-free or husband-free moment, as well as no domesticated task to tend to, it is spent on working my transcription business and working on my patent and all the future tasks coming 'round the bend involving this new venture.

I had listened to a couple of friends and family members express how scared they were last week about the economy. Since I've felt a sense of fear for the future of my children since the big September 11, I didn't realize all this was going down. After the third person mentioned it, I decided to take a break and turn on the news. I can hardly tear myself away from it. I was unaware just how serious this was.

I'm worried. Not only am I worried about all of us because of what I'm watching and hearing, I'm worried about our livelihoods, my transcription business, and being able to move forward on my invention. Have I really waited almost 2 years from concept/prototype to being within weeks away from a final provisional patent application that I may not be able to move forward?

This brings with it many more questions dependent upon what I heard throughout the day...."Companies can't get loans to pay their employees." clients will pay their employees before me if that is the case (and understandably so).....What happens if my current clients are unable to pay me? What happens if I'm in turn unable to pay the girls depending on me to support their families?......"You may go to the bank for a withdrawal and nothing comes out."....Despite my money being in an FDIC bank, will I be able to take out a large lump sum in two months IF I'm able to even find a manufacturer willing to work with me in this economy? Might I lose out on the 12 months of my provisional protection coverage because I can't even get a professionally manufactured version made? Will I even be able to apply for the utility when the 12-month period expires? "It is wrong to call this a bailout deal, as it is actually an investment deal, and this is a good thing...." I'm so confused and tired of thinking in all these different directions.

For the first time, my carefully laid plan seems so weak, as does the future I have chosen for myself.

At the very least, no matter what goes down, my family and I will remain a family, and we will persevere, albeit possibly with a saddened or disappointed mommy and wife.

I'm lucky in that I know how to survive when the chips are down, thanks to my mother and grandmother. I come from a long line of women who have triumphed through some extremely trying times due to their strength, and I know I can weather any storm -- it is the storm that comes with strict rules, stipulations, and deadlines that is bothering me at the moment combined with the uncertainty as to whether or not I can meet them, especially knowing that I could have met them all last week. The unknown scares the heck out of me.

How 'bout you? What scares you most right now about this situation?

Sep 26, 2008

WAHM-Frustration Meltdowns can be productive too...

Compared to yesterday, today was an extremely productive day. I've both accomplished a little bit of everything and fully accomplished a few things.

My PPA is reviewed and marked up with edits (lotsa typos) and questions for clarification (Can you hear the "cha-ching" that I did with each pen stroke? I don't think I should be charged for editing typos - do you? lol. Lawyers are expensive!) Of course, now there is a whole weekend to pass before they are received by the attorney, but they are there.

I think temporary frustration meltdowns and feel-sorry-for-yourself days are not only completely normal but completely healthy to have. I believe that you can be twice as productive as soon as the moment passes as well. As problem-solving mothers, the whole time we're sulking, we are thinking of a solution or a way to combat the problem the next time around.

Not only do I tend to clean and organize while I'm sulking about being pulled away from the task I would rather be tending to, I get some minor things accomplished that I don't even really notice until the end of the day, such as art project time with the kids as I simultaneously clean out the fridge here and there and remove old artwork cluttering the doors, as well as outdoor play time with the kids as I play a little and also somehow simultaneously fertilize and prune the landscaping. Each accomplishment is a plus, no matter how little. Granted, I was up 'til 3 a.m. finishing the work that can only be tended to after they go to bed, but I enjoy having an excuse to also spend that extra time with them, so instead of viewing DH being called away to work as imposing on my time, I turned out appreciating the extra time with my babies.

Try to remember to make yourself a little list, even if a mental list, of all of the minor tasks you completed when you feel as though you are accomplishing "nothing." Feeding and bathing the kids counts as something! We do so much in a day that we tend to overlook the everyday mundane and trivial tasks we complete. They are all accomplishments! The trivial, everyday, and mundane tasks will need to be dealt with on another day anyway, and now it won't be the day you get to tend to the more pressing and important tasks! There always turns out to be a positive somehow!

Do you feel that you can never catch up? Is each task, no matter how small, somehow a victory?

Sep 25, 2008

WAHM/Patenting-Temporarily being shelved - AGAIN.

Yes, I'm having a whiny day. I feel I have a right to feel whiny every once in a while. I am constantly working on so many different projects and working in so many different roles, and I feel that I could get it done if I had some help around here. Don't get me wrong, my husband does do some dishes, and he even does a little laundry and makes beds - he surface cleans here and there - but working around being a mother to a toddler, whom we refer to as my butt barnacle for obvious reasons, my two older kids' schedules, and my husband's unpredictable schedule just about brings me to tears some days.

Today I wanted nothing more than to break out my provisional patent edits that I received last week to review them. I've had one 6-hour period of time on one of our rare coinciding weekends in which I could really get into it. He could be with the kids, and I could get down to business. Believe me when I tell you it needs "getting into." It is so technical and so in depth, that it is sometimes hard to believe it is my invention being described. I even had a dictionary on hand to learn the literal meanings of certain words. (Did you know that furniture means any piece of useful equipment?)

Every time I pick it up, during brief openings seized during my working hours with lighter work loads and nap times, and start getting into one paragraph and making a notation that may or may not reveal itself in another paragraph within this 15-page document (not counting the numerous drawings that require simultaneous review due to the descriptions referring to enumerated components), I have to stop, only to find myself starting all over again later.

My 2-year-old is the cutest most loveable child, but he also happens to not want to sit silently at any point throughout a day. There is no getting away with a "uh-huh" and a nodd of my eyes must literally avert from my task at hand to prove to him that he has been heard and that I have seen what has him excited. This then MUST be followed with a comment. lol. It isn't like I'm all work and no play. I spend hours with him each day. We learn ABCs, colors, shapes, play games, do puzzles, etc. I just need someone to give me some time here to get this finished!

Hubbie has been called into work. He can't understand why I am near tears. This is my priority at the moment, and it really should only be a priority task for a day, not 2 weeks! Can I find a sitter right now to ease my stress and anxiety - nope - they are all in school! He works my weekends, and I work his weekends, but when he is here, I should be able to have the whole day to accomplish what I want, but it never works out that way. Somebody always needs something, and this even includes HIS employer, as well as him, the kids, my clients, my subcontractors, etc. A lot of it is my fault - I slacked off in some departments to make life easier for a period of time only to find that doing such a thing really isn't me, and now there are projects that are 10 times bigger to face and to fix. I'll explain later.

Okay, I feel I've been heard, despite the fact I have no readers yet! lol. Off to go pay my subcontractors and feel down about shelving the ONE task I would really actually enjoy doing at the moment. Sigh.

Inventor Moms

An unspoken prerequisite of being a mother is problem solving skills. Moms problem solve every single day. Let’s also not forget that there are many wonderful inventor dads out there as well though too! Inventor moms seem to target the problems other moms face, so they therefore become more well known amongst other mothers, the women who happen to be making the majority of purchases for their households.

I have a folder chockfull of ideas that I have written down for inventions that I would like to bring to market – products that solve problems, issues, or frustrations I have experienced as a mother and problems that friends experienced before I had children of my own. The one problem I faced in my dream of seeing my ideas available on the shelves for purchase by others is the daunting expense of it all. Not only is the patenting process extremely expensive, prototyping and just getting set up for manufacturing can be double to triple the expense of a patent. It just depends on your idea.

Being a mother running a service-based business around the needs of my family and my husband’s erratic and unpredictable schedule, I knew that I was unwilling to risk it all, my home, my credit rating, etc. to take a chance. There had to be a way to achieve my dreams while minimizing the risks for my family and their futures.

While I pondered how I could get from point A, an idea in a folder, to point B, a product on the shelves, I started saving money. As I researched each idea and figured out what help I would need in designing a prototype, the manufacturing, etc., there just wasn’t anything reasonable. By the time my latest idea, the one I am pursuing a patent on currently came to me, I had enough money to move ahead on this idea. Since I was able to prototype this idea myself, this alone made this idea my starter idea and saved me upwards of around $30,000 for some and more for other ideas paying specialists and engineers to help me.

My husband wanted nothing more than to support me, but the whole risk of it all scared him silly. Once I was able to discuss my estimates with him and explain to him that the expense would be somewhere around the amount of a new car, a new car that never appreciates in value and actually depreciates the moment you drive it off the lot, with no potential for return whatsoever, he caved. It was simple, sacrifice a couple of new cars over the next, oh, 15 years to compensate for the loss should it fail. It wasn’t that he would tell me no, but it was important that he have as little anxiety about the process as possible. He knows that only 1% of inventions actually make enough money to cover the costs of getting it on the market – not good odds.

The whole process that I’ve been through so far led to me to the realization that someday my children may be working for a living, a slave to something that doesn’t make them happy, only to discover in their late 20s or somewhere in their 30s or 40s they want to take a chance on a dream, a dream that often doesn’t reveal itself to people until they have some time and experience under their belts…..I am starting a dream fund for each of them, just as I did for myself. If you don’t have one now, start one for yourself. Somewhere along the line start one for each of your children. How many people go to college for one field of study because they think it is what they want to only discover they want to change, and how many change a few years to halfway through the job they landed as a result? Too many. Too many people wind up locked into a job and life they can only wish they could change. Something in the dream fund is better than nothing, and it is a start! Neither you nor they will ever be failures because they gave it a shot! If my product idea failed, I know I could lie on my deathbed with no regrets because I gave it my best! Sooo much better than wondering “What if I had only…..”

Do you feel your dreams are just out of reach, or are they attainable?

Sep 21, 2008

Random-What does this mean?

Does this mean my clothes aren't really clean and I need a new washer?

Sep 20, 2008

School Fundraising

So today my daughter really wanted to try her hand at fundraising, and here I was really excited that this year they were accepting donations in lieu of fundraising. I was prepared to donate $100 - $50/school-aged kid, which is more than the kids can earn the school via the fundraiser, but they can’t have both my time and my donation. Fitting in the time for a fundraiser is hard work around here, especially considering the goods are delivered in November when the sun goes down around 5:30 p.m., I have a little one napping ‘til around that time or later, and I’m the sole caregiver most nights. We have one hour a day to distribute deliveries, which can take weeks to accomplish due to those who placed the orders keeping various schedules and never being home.

When I was a kid, fundraising wasn’t an issue for me until I was technically old enough to handle peddling the stuff on my own, around the age of 12, which I gladly did time and time again, and I could go ‘til the sun went down for days on end in an attempt to win the grand prize the top seller was eligible for. It definitely was never an issue for my parents. My parents had only to help me pick up the order. Delivery was, again, my responsibility. Granted times are different now, as far as feeling comfortable letting even a 12-year-old go door-to-door, but a 12-year-old can handle all the steps in between independently.

Apparently things are different now. Earnings for each school are based on the individual sales of each school within the district, so now you have the poor-selling neighborhood schools upset about how unfair the new equipment the top-selling neighborhood school was able to earn. They feel like the district “step-child.”

I feel bad for my kids in this department. The fundraisers always clearly indicate children should NOT go door-to-door and that parents should hit up family, friends, and coworkers out of “safety for the children.” These people get sick of being hit up year after year after year, especially when it’s coming from multiple sources at the same time. I actually feel mostly guilty knowing that all of my neighbors living on fixed incomes repeatedly buy from my children simply because they feel obligated and because they like us. For us, it is further compounded by the fact that I have no coworkers being a WAHM and by the fact that DH only has 13 coworkers whose children are all selling items at the same time.

Let’s face it – the school hardly makes any money and everyone feels they’ve been had when they pay $10 for 6 tiny chocolate-covered peanut butter bears (I think at last check the school received 5%). Even if you stick them to the roof of your mouth to let them melt as slowly as you can, it still doesn’t seem to be worth $10 ($0.50 for the school).

They take these kids into an assembly and get them completely psyched out of their little minds about possibly winning an X-Box 360 when they all wind up with that same plastic crap they buy with tickets at places like Chuck E Cheese’s that never gets touched again after its extraction from the prize box. The worst of it is that they include even the kindergartners who don’t even have a clue and never hear anything beyond “Win this prize and that prize!” Suddenly, by not aiding them in their attempt to win the master prize, even if it is because you have limited contacts and live in a small neighborhood where 16 other children are also selling the same items, you become the bad guy and they feel sad and a little like a failure the day the grand prizes are awarded to those few lucky children who have parents working in large companies.

It is also really hard to get excited about foodstuff fundraising after being stuck with hundreds of dollars worth of overpriced frozen/keep-refrigerated food when DH picked up the fundraiser orders and set them under a table in the family room that had become the catchall/temporary holding place of everything during a kitchen remodel for me to discover 11 days later! I noticed them one day as I sat trying to locate some of my ovenware to make dinner one night and said “What’s in those boxes under here?”

I was only comfortable letting my daughter sell alone on our street where we know everyone, so when she was done, she came back to get me.

What I didn’t know as we walked out the door, and as I mustered up the most enthusiasm I could about doing it, was that she had invited 2 other children to join us. They had both been selling with her on our street as well, which I discovered when reviewing my daughter’s order form and she turned up with 2 checks and yet no matching orders for them. It took a couple of minutes to figure out which girl took what order and which payment went where. Both of these other girls are 6 years old and spend much time with us at our house. My daughter is almost 9.

So as we proceed down the street passing each of the other girls’ homes so they can pick up their packets on the way, and as I’m trying to just forget about the provisional patent application draft waiting for my review on my desk, all of the regular work I’m facing tonight, and that we will be having a very late dinner, one girl’s mom calls her back to the house after giving her permission to join us indicating her dad wanted her home. We reached the point where we are walking slowly in front of her house to find out if she would still be able to come along when suddenly, speeding down the driveway and straight past us on a mission at warp speed with noses down, helmets on, and all the exertion they could muster, (everything minus the evil laugh), they just rip on by and keep going heading to the last house on the street that we had not yet hit…..not a word to us – nothing.

I’m scratchin’ my head wondering what on earth that was all about. It soon became obvious dad had turned it into a competition and had decided I must have no intention of being fair. How odd. My husband is competitive, but only when he is playing a game or a sport, and never with the kids’ activities. We round the corner and there they stand soliciting an outdoor dinner party, all the while looking over their shoulders at us as if to say “Ha, ha!” We just picked the next street and continued on, never to see them again. In the end, it worked out better for us, I assigned each girl to a side of the street, which is hit or miss for both, but it also meant faster coverage. When I told DH today’s story about my daughter’s friend’s father, he said “Okay, Bob (name changed), Game on Beeyatch.”

Lessons learned in fundraising so far:

1. It is actually a plus to take 2 kids at once on opposite sides of the street – it saves time;

2. Make sure you record the street number and name, even though there is no room to do so, because you will NEVER find these people by name again when the items are delivered;

3. Pickup of the goods usually happens during the time your youngest is napping and you are home alone with him/her;

4. NEVER just assume that if your spouse happens to be home that day that he will remember there were food items in those boxes or that he will even open the boxes to double check the orders, let alone realize items need refrigeration.

5. Don’t knock on your neighbor’s door after dark to make a delivery, especially the old ones who live alone – it scares the crap out of them.

6. It could take up to 6 years before your child comes to the realization that being a top seller is near impossible for most kids and decides on his own that he/she does not want to participate – maybe longer.

7. Be prepared to foot the bill for those who "will pay upon arrival" until then.

7. If you don’t have a story like mine today to share with your competitive husband, make one up, as now I don’t have to fundraise tomorrow because DH made it his personal mission to womp Bob in sales!

Sep 19, 2008

WAHM-Funny Video

So what's it like working at home? Here's a sample!


Me woman! (I talk caveman for my husband frequently - he seems to understand me better this way).

What else is there to say? It means there is no stopping me and there is no limit to my capabilities. It means I am a master of multitasking and am spread real thin. It means that I don't always make the best decisions and that I have faults. It means I put everyone before myself (trying to change that) and that I am hardest on myself. It means some nights I plop down onto the couch with a sigh and not enough energy to drag myself into bed feeling defeated.

Feel free to join me on my adventures through life and all of its "stuff" as I continue to struggle running a service-based business, being a work-at-home mother to 3 children, and a wife, as well as a wannabe inventor/entrepeneur in that elusive thing called "spare time." I'll discuss the fun and the varied challenges I've faced being involved in so much, which may not be "as much" as some of you (hey, we all have different threshholds), my frustrations in general, and what things have worked for me, as well as those that have not worked for me. I also welcome hearing about the "things" that have worked for others and the "things" that have not as well!

My life is far from perfect, and I can admit that. There is humor to be found in each lesson I've learned along the way!