Thursday, August 28, 2014

Who I Want to Be When I Grow Old

An elderly man in northern FranceBy Blaikley, Ernest 

Children are asked all the time what they want to be when they grow up.   They excitedly answer with dreams of becoming doctors,  Olympians,  and parents. Their eyes sparkle at the idea of becoming an adult. But we fail to ask them who they want to be.  

As parents we try to nourish and build successful futures for our children.  We help with homework to keep grades up, send them to dance and softball practice, and we show them how to be the best parents they can be through example.  It is through example that we need to show them WHO they want to be.  

I've really been mulling over this subject the last few months. It is all due to an elderly gentleman who regularly dines at the restaurant I work at.  We have a lot of regulars, and we do cater to the senior citizen population, but this man is different.  All through society, and I see it in the restaurant every day, we see the cranky side of our elderly population.  We hear stories all the time of senior citizens complaining or being grumpy with everyone in general.  It is to the point where we expect this behavior.  I won't get into my theory that society's treatment towards the elderly is the cause of much of this stereotypical demeanor-that is a story for another day.  

But this man is different.  Everyday he walks in the door, the entire staff is delighted to see him.  He simply shines.  He is always smiling, joking, and starts up conversations.  He jokes about his slow speed and his failing eyesight.  His stories about his time in the war, his children and grandchildren, and even his doctor visits are all told with smiles and usually some wisdom.  Life has handed this man some difficult cards. In the past year he has fallen a few times, had cancerous spots removed, and is currently suffering dizzy spells.  Yet he smiles through it.  He talks about how grateful he is for everything he has.  And here I am crying and complaining because the rose bushes out front stabbed me through my gloves and left a sliver of thorn in my thumb.  I complain that I don't have the money to get my nails done or that the baby wouldn't sleep more than 2 hours at a time.

I am an asshole.  

I have 4 amazing children that I get to watch grow.  I have a beautiful home that is filled with material items and so many more memories.  I have the money to feed my family healthy meals and still take them out for a fun evening once in a while.  I  have decent health and my children are very healthy.  I have health care plans for them that help me keep them healthy.   I HAVE SO MUCH!  So why do I spend my time complaining about what I don't have?  Why do I think negative thoughts about people in the grocery store and let people who have no business in my life upset me?  WHY?

That is not who I wanted to be.  That is not who I want to be.  

So I decided to change.  

As humans we are always a work in progress and I like to think that I am making huge progress.  I try to concentrate on the positive.  If something upsets me, I try to look inside myself and find out why.  When I find myself judging the lady at the grocery store, I try to figure out what I am insecure about in myself.  

But no is perfect and everyone messes up.

I had a slight set back last week.  My hours at work were cut for a few weeks and I spent days complaining, blaming, and threatening to leave or file partial unemployment.  While I still might consider a new job and file for partial unemployment if the hours continue to be non-existent, I am not going to continue to blame my co-workers or ruin their mood by complaining about it.  I am not going to spend time thinking about all the bad things that could happen to my boss or the building.  Instead, I am going to concentrate on the large projects I want to accomplish around the house that I complain about never having time to complete.  I am going to plan some mommy-baby time and have a picnic with my kids.  Maybe even a night with Steven where we can be adults and not talk about diapers and vomit.  I have this time away from work and I don't want to be the person that can only see the downside.  I don't want to be the person who lets crap like this drag me down.  

This man at my work had 4 cancerous spots taken off his nose and he came in to say hello and have his bacon, eggs, and toast.  And he smiled and told stories about the waiting room and the other Vets he had the privilege of speaking to and reminiscing with.  

THAT is who I want to be.

THAT is who I want my children to be.

And only through example am I able to show them how to be that person.  I am so grateful that this sweet old man came into my life and showed me this.  It is my hope that through example (and the sharing of my story) that other people will see how much sunnier life is when you make it that way.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Into the Depths of My Closet

My bedroom closet was a disaster zone.  I still am not 100% sure what came out of there.  Over the last year or so it had become the dumping ground.  Too many pillows on the bed?  Toss them in the closet and I'll get them out tomorrow.  Tomorrow never came.  Where do we hide the kid's Christmas gifts?  The closet looks like a good place.  Good thing we got them all out before Christmas morning 2013.  I have too many pajama pants, can we put some in the closet?  Sure!  I'll remember they are there.  I didn't.

It go to the point where the floor had disappeared, the door wouldn't shut, and I couldn't find my clothes for work.  I couldn't put any laundry away and the couch became the new dresser/closet.  The bedroom closet had become a huge subject of stress and Steven and I were fighting about it almost daily.  My style is more "a place for everything and everything in its place" while Steven follows more of a "frat boy just moved away from home" style of organization.  Sigh.

So the other day I decided it was time.  I knew it was going to be rough.  I knew I would find a lot of "lost" goodies.  I knew I would have the demanding baby in my arms most of the time.  But I was determined.  I wanted my couch back and to be able to see my clothing hanging up.  I didn't want to use a shovel to find my shoes...okay so maybe I didn't need a shovel, but in hindsight, it would have been useful.

I should have taken before pictures to show how hard I worked and justify the almost 2 days it took to finish everything.  I could make excuses, but really, I was embarrassed.  A lot.

The first thing I did was to strip the bed down to the mattress.  I knew that I would be finding pillows, Steven's crocheted blanket, and even the box full of sheets.  That, and Persephone barfed all the bed before we started.

In the beginning Persephone chilled out in her co-sleeper while I pulled random items out of the closet and played peek-a-boo with at least half of them.  After a while, she wanted to be fed so I gave her a little bit of cereal and nursed her.  Still wide awake, I placed her on the mattress in the middle of the mess and continued the bizarre game of peek-a-boo.

Somehow she tired herself out and fell asleep.  I kicked it into high gear and had the closet mostly empty.  I also spent an inordinate amount of time organizing my jewelry box, although I rarely wear jewelry anymore.

When she woke up after 45 minutes we played, nursed, and got her changed.  This is where progressed slowed a bit.  I set her in her bouncy and she started playing.  She was making the most adorable cooing noises as she played and I had to get video.  As soon as I started the video, she started yelling and making that "I'm getting pissed off" noise.  Fortunately, I got it on video.

By this time, the closet was empty with the exception of the area behind the door as Persephone didn't like when she couldn't see me.

I picked up the baby and together we started clearing and rearranging things in the closet.  We stopped for a selfie to document the process and text daddy to tell him this was her 4th outfit so far.

When Steven got home from work, he played with his little princess and I finished getting things put back together.  Before I could finish hanging up laundry it was dinner time, which soon leads to the "witching hour" for baby.  But tomorrow is always another day.

The next day I concentrated on returning the couch to its former position as a place to sit and relax.  I also hammered in nails to hold his hats, which includes a large sombrero...don't ask.  I also went through papers that were found and had Steven get all the stuff he wanted put away into his safe.  I still have a few loads of laundry to do and put away, but it looks so much better!

My side
Behind the Door

Even more shoes and accessories
Steven's side including sombrero

Monday, August 25, 2014

Why I Gave My Baby Solids Before Six Months

The AAP suggests introducing solid foods to infants at 6 months of age and continuing breastfeeding until the first birthday.  I planned on following this advice and waiting although my other children started rice cereal a little after 3 months.  At Persephone's two month check-up, the doctor suggested letting her start solids around 3 months.  I told her that we planned to breastfeed (with the occasional formula supplement) until 6 months.  She agreed that was a good plan, but reminded us that our little girl had problems putting on weight when she was still a newborn.  Her blood sugar also had troubles staying in the healthy range and tended to drop.  It ended up in a trip to the emergency room and a 2 day hospital stay.  She gave us some guidelines for us to follow baby's queues and let us decide when to introduce solids after 3 months.

Persephone became very interested in our food.  She watched as the fork went from the bowl to my mouth.  Then she started smacking her lips as she watched me eat.  The biggest sign, however, was when she went from nursing on both sides or a 4oz bottle to nursing on both sides and a 4oz bottle and was still hungry.  She also was waking up to nurse more often at night.  Her doctor told us this could be a growth spurt, but if it lasted more than a few days, it was a sign that she was ready for solids.

I won't lie.  Part of me wondered if giving her cereal would help her sleep at night.  She used to sleep for a 5-6 hour stretch, wake up to nurse, and then sleep another 2-3 hours.  Suddenly, she started to wake up every 1-2 hours to nurse and my supply wasn't keeping up.  So we tried giving her formula or milk I had expressed while at work after nursing, yet she was still waking up numerous times in the night.

We gave it some thought, and research, and made a decision (backed by our trusted medical professional) to give her some baby cereal.  She wasn't sure what to think about it, but she was able to use her tongue to mush the food against the roof of her mouth (another sign that she was ready) and swallow without problem.  We took a video to record this milestone.

As you can see, that first bite was awkward, yet amusing.  We then remembered to put a bib on the baby (new parent brain in full effect at my house) and gave her a second bite and she took it like an old pro.  She now enjoys her "bite-bites" once a day.  She still nurses frequently during the day and her nighttime habits have not changed yet.  Perhaps we need to work on a more structured nighttime routine to help her sleep at night.

Taggie Balls!!

Perry is getting so big. She reaches for things she wants (my glasses, my food, my hair etc.,) with a determined grasp. And everything goes directly to her mouth. When MamaMade started selling these adorable taggie balls, Troy was a little too old for one,  but I wanted one.

A few years later,  Persephone surprises us and a friend gave us the taggie balls from her son. 

These baby toys are adorable, washable, and very baby-friendly.  I want more fabric toys!  I mean Persephone wants more fabric toys. The stackable rings has been on my list forever and fabric Ollie Blocks would be adorable.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Welcome Butterflies!

For a few years, Athena has been asking if we could buy plants that would attract butterflies. It has been on the to-do list but never came to fruition.  Until the other night.  We had dinner at Gunther Toody's and walked over to JoAnns to get some supplies for my Tim Burton themed craft swap.  In between the two establishments is a Lowe's and outside was a clearance rack filled with ground covers and bushes.  After my citation from the city for the weeds on the side of my house, we have been looking for ways to improve the landscaping around my house.  We decided to purchase a few Blue Juniper bushes for near the stop sign (where the weeds can grow rampant) and went inside to purchase some soil.  As we looked around the store, Athena pointed out every plant that had a butterfly on the tag indicating that it would attract butterflies.  We found some Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan) with beautiful yellow flowers that were on sale 3 for $10.  We picked up three plants and the next evening we replanted them into navy pots that sit outside the house.
We still need to get the weeds killed and the bushes planted.  I had planned that activity for today, but Perry has been attached to my breast and Troy came home sick from school.  Maybe tomorrow when I get off work.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Granny Square Blanket for Perry

After my rant and questioning of my self today,  I decided that I needed some crafty therapy.

I give you the start of Perry's new blanket.  It is a simple granny square that will keep going until the three balls of yarn are gone. Bernat Baby in the colorway Little Petunias with a size N hook. It is going quickly as this was about 10 minutes including time to refresh my memory on granny squares. Hopefully I can grab another 10 minutes or so tomorrow while the kiddos sleep.

How Did I Do It?

Today was one of THOSE days.  Long, exhausting, and still didn't have enough hours in it.  I am not sure how I did all this 6 years ago.  Check out the videos on YouTube for MommytheMaid and you will see that my house was always nice looking even with a toddler under foot.  When Troy was born, my house was still clean, the laundry hampers mostly empty, and the kitchen full of delicious and nutritious dinners and snacks at all times.  Athena was 3 and Troy was a fairly easy long as he was held and nursed every other hour.  I type this post with Persephone grabbing at my arms and Athena in the shower asking which shampoo to use.  Troy is busy to convince me that playing with his DS is the same as reading a book...and Persephone just loaded her diaper and part of my pant leg.

A day in the life of Mommy the Maid.  

Most days I feel as though I haven't accomplished anything.  I keep my goals small.  Every day I try to get the following things done:

One load of laundry (wash, dry, and put away)
One Activity with the children
One thing for myself (even if it is just a sneaky candy bar in my closet while the kids have screen time)
At least a few minutes to spend with Steven
One more small chore around the house 

On days where we have appointments, bills to pay, or errands to run, a lot of these things slip through the cracks.  When Troy was a baby I managed to keep up on the house, run to the store, feed the children homemade food, go to my knitting group, take the kids to a play date, help Alex with her homework, sew for a few hours, and spend time with my husband.  How did I do this?

Today felt productive and I am beat.  However, I only accomplished the following:

6 hour shift at work
Picked up some items for the baby from my friend
grocery shopping
Dinner (mostly frozen but I assuaged my guilt by adding a few veggies and grapes)
Folded a load of laundry and started another
assembled and put away the cloth diapers 
two kids showered and ready for the first day of school tomorrow 
swept the kitchen floor
unloaded the dishwasher

I guess the 6 hour work shift really takes a chunk out of the day.  However, without it, there wouldn't be water or electricity to do the laundry nor food to make for dinner.  So I guess I have done a lot.  I just wish that I could do more.  My house is a mess, dinners are less than nutritious, and I have a citation from the city because I missed some of the weeds on the side of my house.  If I still had that 6 hour chunk in my day, the rest of that list would have been completed before lunch time.  Maybe even some time to work on the scrapbooks.

 Where is this "balance" people speak of?

It doesn't help that both Steven and I work in the restaurant industry and work opposite schedules.  I serve pancakes in the morning and he cooks dinner for hungry golfers.  Persephone demands to be held all the time and nurses often, so when one of us is home with her there isn't a great opportunity to grab the weed whacker and trim the grass and weeds along my fence.  Since it is my neighbors complaining, they shouldn't mind hearing the weed whacker sometime in the middle of the night.

Perhaps it is also the fact that I have more children.  When Troy was a baby, Athena was in preschool.  There wasn't a lot of school related tasks during the day.  Now I have a 1st grader and a 4th grader to help out with homework that is far more complicated than I can handle.  Common Core math anyone?  I also refuse to allow screens to baby sit my kids all day.  Don't get me wrong, I am a typical overly exhausted mom and I do allow my children more screen time that I should, but I still prefer to play games, go on a walk, or bake a cake.  Catering to two kiddos with the baby might be a part of my house remaining a mess.

Another factor is my age.  I know I am only 34, but that is almost a decade older than my "prime" Mommy the Maid years.  Perhaps I require more sleep and my body just doesn't  handle it.  I don't like that excuse.  I really don't I would rather admit that my weight causes me to slow down more than my age.  

I hope that when Persephone gets a little older, it will be easier. Here is to hoping!  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Does the Fire Alarm Do if I Pull the Lever?

During the weeks that the littles (Athena and Troy) spend with thier dad, they attend a before and after school daycare program. They also attend over summer break. They have been apart of this program for a few years and are well acquainted with the building as it is ran from the school cafeteria. Even with these circumstances I shouldn't be surprised that my son pulled the fire alarm in attempt to "see what happened."
Sigh. Fortunately the alarm was turned off in a matter of seconds and the fire trucks did  not have to make an unnecessary trip.
This is my son. He harbors so much curiosity and wants to know how everything works. He constantly is taking things apart, building contraptions,  and pushing the boundaries of everything. Even me...but that is another post for a different day.
I love that he questions the world. I  love that he wants to see what happens to a bottle of water if you freeze it or even what happens when he sprays his sister with the hose.  But when is it too much? As a mother I want to nurture his curiosity, but at the same time he can't be pulling fire alarms.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Who is Mommy the Maid?

Nine years ago I stood in my kitchen and had an argument with my (then) 7 year old daughter that I was her mom and not her maid.  In that instant, Mommy the Maid was born.  I used the handle on message boards and for my crafty wares hocked at craft shows and online.  While using this name, I started a blog.  I blogged about the ups and downs of parenting, fun craft projects, recipes, and so much more.  I wrote sponsored posts for a few companies, and even published articles with Associated Content which later formed into Yahoo! Voices.  I loved the outlet that I had for writing as well as the MANY online and real-life friends I made through blogging.  I shared trials and triumphs with my fellow blogging moms.  I cheered when their kids hit milestones and posted about the mess my son made with flour all over my kitchen floor.  I shared a story of an embarrassing practical joke my husband played on me and stood up for the rights of breastfeeding mothers.  I shared my sewing projects and helped others learn to knit.  I was teased for my love of Febreze and fear of Christopher Walken.  My blog was my life recorded and shared online.

Over the last few months, I have thought deeply about why I stopped blogging and if I wanted to start up again.  The reasons I stopped included burn-out after a Blog-A-Thon (for a GREAT cause), depression, moving, divorce, and school.  I don't want to dwell on those reasons as it is only good for circular thinking.  I have changed a lot since then.  I now have twice as many children, 3 pain in the ass cats, work part-time (6 days a week), and my bedroom is currently in a state of crisis.  Even with all that change in my life, I am still the Mommy the Maid I once was, and I want to share my life with the world - or limited users that are interested in reading about my life.  

So who is Mommy the Maid?

I am 34 years old living with my 23 year old boyfriend...and yes, I have heard all the jokes.  He has taken my 3 beautiful children into his heart and we have recently brought another beautiful soul into the world.  Alexandria, Athena, Troy, and Persephone are my world.  No, I am not Greek...I just love the names and the stories told in Greek Mythology.  Alexandria (Alex) is almost 16 and a recent national champion in equitation and has placed at world levels as well.  She is getting ready to drive and taking college courses to finish her high school diploma.  Athena is 9 and entering the 4th grade.  She is dealing with high levels of anxiety and SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder.) Most days we struggle with daily life and have an IEP in place at school.  Troy is 6 and is entering the 1st grade.  He is currently undergoing the steps for a diagnosis of ADHD which is a handful.  Persephone (Perry) is working on rolling over and has started to giggle.  

The mental challenges that my children deal with stem a lot from me.  I suffer from anxiety, SPD, and two types of uncommon OCD.  I have tried medications and none of them helped.  In fact, one prescription medication made it worse.  I currently take supplements to keep it all under control and am looking into more talk therapy time.  

We live in a house in a quiet  neighborhood that isn't too keen about my large tattoos and the holes in my ears or the fact that we do minimal yard work. We try to live as friendly to the environment as can.  We use cloth diapers, eat local and organic when we can and prefer to buy second hand items or barter for handmade goods with our own.  While I spend my days serving pancakes and bacon in a family-friendly restaurant, my boyfriend spends his in a kitchen cooking for hungry golfers.  We are terrible to take out to a restaurant as we both take our jobs seriously and expect other servers and chefs to do so as well.  I have lots of work-related rants.  Just wait.  

I plan to fill this blog with the daily stories of my life.  The funny jokes Troy make (usually about farts), the awesome apron I made, the cupcakes that tasted like baking powder, and even the trials of maintaining an IEP with the school.  While that may sound like a typical mommy blog, many details of my life would say otherwise.  I love my life (most days) and this is my record of that.  

Mommy the Maid is back...just a little more frazzled and with less perfect vacuum lines in the living room.