Ducks In A Tub

Taking life's adventures one day at a time.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bad Pee-pee

Hubby and I have (sort of) started to potty train The Talker. He is 20 months old and a bit young to really understand what a toilet is for. We keep trying to guess when he needs to go and get him to the toilet, but it’s hit and miss (no pun intended) whether we’ll get him there at the right time.

Tonight, while Daddy was preparing to give him his evening bath, I needed some help in the office. I called Daddy in to help me and The Talker came running after him, naked. While standing in the doorway for 30 seconds guess what happened? That’s right, The Talker emptied his bladder on the floor.

That’s not really the surprising part, though.

He cried! I couldn’t tell if he was afraid of punishment, or if he was scared because he didn’t know what happened. It was such an *aaaww* moment. So cute. So messy. So easy to fix. A few paper towels cleaned the floor right up and got The Talker on to his bath. A minorly eventful evening.

Happy Halloween!

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Monday, October 30, 2006


Blue Eyes is having some night time problems. We’re not sure if she’s teething or having nightmares, but whatever it is she sure is sensitive.

She went to sleep at 8, same as usual. Then at 11 she woke up screaming. Hubby and I went to console her, and change her very wet diaper. Usually that fixes everything up fine. (She has a sensitive bum and needs to have her diaper changed to be comfortable.) Then at 2am she woke up again. I went in to her room to hold her and she snuggled right up on my neck without any more fussing. After a couple minutes of cuddling, I put her back to bed and she was fine until 7am. A little earlier of a wake up time than usual for her, but I guess it was time to get up anyway.

I am very disoriented today, so I’m sorry if this post sounds *blah* but that’s how I feel. When the kids go down for their afternoon naps I’ll probably catch up on some zzz’s at the same time.

Wish me luck :-)

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Who put out the light?

[sob, sob, cry, sob] Today is the end of Daylight Savings. My biggest pet peeve is when people make a big deal out of things that happen at the same time every year. When I was working before I had kids I would have to listen…every single year…to my co-workers talking about how hot it is (duh, it’s summer), how cold it is (what do you expect, it’s winter), can you believe Christmas is almost here (it comes the same time every year), and the inevitable: it is so dark/light out since we have changed the clocks.

I am about to display my own pet peeve.


There is nothing worse than losing an hour of daylight. On the other side, I truly loooove gaining an hour of daylight in the summer. But it’s not summer right now, is it? NO! It’s darned-stinking October and I am about to lose an hour of decent sun time.

This annual event always makes me physically tired. Once the sun is gone it feels like the day should be over, but there are many hours remaining in the evening. As if I need to be more tired at the end of a day. On top of this, my husband and I now have to stop our occasional evening visits to the park with the kids because it’s too dark for playing safely.

I guess I should stop griping now and go enjoy my last few hours of a “long” day.

P.S. I really think the whole idea behind the changing the clocks is pretty dumb. And next year we'll start changing them in March and November for more silly reasons. What a ridiculous political topic!

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Le Miserable

Everyone hates to be sick, right? If somebody actually enjoyed the discomfort of illness, then he or she has bigger problems than not feeling well.

I strongly detest having a cold. What is a cold? A sore throat, stuffy nose, mild headache. For crying out loud, if I’m going to be sick then I would rather be wiped out, in bed, with a fever than suffer the nagging of the common cold.

You guessed it, I’ve got a cold right now. It puts me a bitter mood. To top it off, we’ve got some pretty bad air quality in Southern California right now because of a terrible wild fire. So, in addition to usual cold symptoms, I also have severely dry skin from the complete lack of any moisture in our air.

Ick. Gross. Yuck.

On the bright(er) side, I am trying out this medicine that a friend recommended to me, Zicam. My throat started to tickle just yesterday. I started to take Zicam and I feel almost normal already instead of suffering my usual 1-2 week ordeal. I’m hoping to be much better tomorrow, because heaven knows I hate to be in a bad mood….steer clear of Momma!

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

10 normal activities that became complicated once I had children

Life before children was so simple. I thought of something I wanted to do and I did it. Now things are more complicated. Oh, I still go about my weekly routine. I have figured out how to work with the little munchkins to keep us all from being miserable. I love the challenge that my kids present, and I love the success of an activity accomplished with only minor inconvenience.

But sometimes my mind wanders to the days of ease…(wander, wander)

Here is my list of 10-normal-activities-that-became-complicated-once-I-had-children:

Eating. Such a basic function of life. Yet with children came the realization that I will always come last. I balance the meal schedules of two kids (some day more) and sometime after they are done I hope to have 5 minutes for wolfing down my own sustenance.

Go shopping. Before kids, I got in the car, went to the store, picked up what I need and left. Now, add to that list packing a diaper bag, totting a stroller, fighting off the exploratory nature of my toddler, you get the idea. It’s not so simple anymore.

Taking a walk. The fresh air, a cool breeze, it can be quite invigorating. Until my toddler decides he wants to walk on his own instead of being confined to the stroller. Then I have to keep him within reach – and did I mention the slower pace? Not much exercise in a toddle.

Sleeping in. Aaaah, those were the days. Saturday meant an extra hour or two of blessed sleep. Now, well, the kids don’t know it is Saturday and they get up for their regular routine same as usual.

Staying up late. See above. What fun is staying up late if you can’t sleep in the morning after?

Going on a date with hubby. Babysitters. Setting a date. Home by a certain time. It’s still fun, but there is waaaay more planning then their used to be for a simple dinner and a movie outing.

Getting a cold or the flu. I used to be able to call in to work or skip a class at school. Now, if I’m under the weather I still have to be “mommy” all day. AND, I have the added stress of not wanting to spread my ickies to the kids, because that really would put us in a tricky situation!

Writing. I used to be able to pen a few words anytime the muses spoke. Now I either have to wait for the little ones to be asleep, or fight my toddler for control of the laptop keyboard. Because, you know, to him anything with buttons is a toy…oh, and did I mention the countless interruptions?

Phone. There used to be days of any-time phone calls to friends. Now, with kids, those calls are cut short by cries, falls, needs for attention, etc. Even making an inquiry about a bill is serenaded by baby noise.

Driving. I find it relaxing. Cruising down a stretch of land, listening to great music, having wonderful conversation. It’s great. But, when the kids decide they have had enough of sitting in one place, they let me know, and things can get ugly. They kick, they scream, they get hungry, they drop a toy, they want to listen to THEIR music, not mine. *sigh* Another roadtrip.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

You're Never Going to Believe This One!

Triumph over the money-making corporation! Bwa-ha-ha!

Well, it’s not quite as vicious a victory as it sounds. I was shopping yesterday and the grocery store meat department had mis-priced some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The label READ correctly, but here is the kicker: it was priced at 20 cents per pound. I thought “This HAS to be a mistake” and I kept walking. I didn’t bother to tell anyone in the department that they were about to give away chicken.

When I told my husband about the error at dinner, he was shocked that I didn’t buy it at such an unbelievable price. He just had to see this fluke for himself, so we piled in the car and went back to the store. While I stayed in the car with the kids, he ran in to see if the miracle had been taken yet. Five minutes later, he came out of the store raising a bag triumphantly over his head. He had bought 4 pounds of chicken for 80 cents! Apparently, no one had bought the mis-priced package over the last 8 hours, and no employee had caught the mistake. As an extra prize, hubby also bought some ice cream for us to celebrate his victory.

Was it wrong to take advantage of incorrectly labeled merchandise? Hubby obviously doesn’t think so. I’m not so sure, but, then again, there are several good meals of chicken in my freezer and we spent less than a buck. I can’t argue too much with the fiscal side of this ethical dilemma.

What do you think?

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Don't Worry Honey, I've Got You Covered

I keep making the same darned mistake…over…and over…and over. It’s World Series time right now. The two teams are the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals. For some reason (and I really don’t know why), I keep calling the Tigers the Pirates. I just have that name in my head and I can’t seem to get it out. It drives Hubby crazy.

Great story for you, though. Last post I talked about what a huge baseball fan my husband is and how mediocre I am at reciprocating his passion. Despite my lack of intense fervor I know my husband very well and I can predict how well “his” team is doing during a game (give or take 1 run) simply by hearing the way he responds when he turns on the t.v.

Here is a list of what he says and what it means:

“All riiight!” This is a fairly mellow, but positive response. It means that his team has a one run lead. They have the advantage for the moment, but they are far from safe.

“YES!!!” or “Woo-hoo!” A more excited reaction, these terms mean that the favored team is leading by 2 or 3 runs. They are doing well enough to be happy, and blowing it with that kind of advantage would be disastrous to the fan.

“WHOOOOOA!” My husband reserves this phrase for only the most deserving occasions. A long home run. A diving catch. An amazing strike out. A lead of 4 or more runs.

“DANG IT!” This one, I think, speaks for itself. He uses this phrase any time the opposing team is dominating on the scoreboard. Enough said.

So when the Cardinals and the Pirates, errr, sorry, Tigers play tonight I'll have to keep my ears open for the tone of victory or defeat. (He's rooting for the Tigers, by the way.)

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Get your own beer!

My husband, the sports fan. What husband isn’t? Most men (and I know some women) are obsessed with any activity involving an object (typically a ball) that other men fight over, run around, or try to put into a particular place for the purpose of gaining a number on a scoreboard. What’s the point, I ask you? I just don’t get it.

But the fact that I don’t understand the appeal of such activity does not exempt me from playing the role of the dutiful wife. Whenever my husband wants to talk about the “greatest play of the day,” or “team standings for the playoffs,” I listen. Now, typically the information goes out one ear and in the other so that the next time the topic is breached my husband has to re-acquaint me with all the particulars of the subject.

Baseball is, by far, my hubby’s favorite sport. The world comes to an end between November (after the World Series) and February (spring season begins in March). No joke, he will actually mope around for a week after the season ends, mourning the temporary loss of his favorite past time. Periodically throughout the winter, he will watch DVD’s of his favorite teams winning the World Series (Dodgers and Angels). It always puts him in a funk because, gosh darn it, the season is just too far away.

Then he hears news of a player trade and it peaks his interest. For days all he can talk about is how this player will do great on that team, and, how dare that team get rid of this player. March brings the frenzy of spring training. He treats each pre-season game as if it actually mattered, and he rejoices or wallows in misery based on the outcomes. As of Day One of the “real” season he keeps track of which teams are in what place and the win-loss ratio of each ball club.

I guess I don’t mind too much. After all, I prefer baseball to any other sport. My mind just cannot wrap around the concept of a life encompassed by a group of grown men who PLAY for a living. Maybe that’s the point…my husband uses this outlet to release his inner boy. *Aaawww* How sweet.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Many thanks

I've been trying to expand my reading base and I would like to thank Everything Under the Moon, Pink Diary, and Blogging Chicks for hosting the blog Carnivals that have helped drive traffic to my site. I have put each of these websites under my links for anyone else to enjoy. Thanks a bunch, ladies!

Splish, Splash, Taking a Bath

We have a portable air conditioner that we keep in our living room. I know, it's October and I shouldn't still need my air conditioner. Many people in the country are enjoying cool, fall weather right now. I'm jealous of all of them! I live in Southern California and we've had some pretty warm, dry, windy weather lately.

But I digress.

Back to the air conditioner. It has a plastic pan behind it to collect the excess moisture from the air. Naturally, it is extremely attractive to the little ones. We have managed to "train" The Talker to stay away from it -- well, at least, I thought we had taught him. Blue Eyes is just discovering the water collector and we are having a hard time keeping her away from it. I ask you, what baby doesn't like to splash in a puddle of water?

The kiddies and I were playing this evening while hubby went to his weekend job. As usual, Blue Eyes managed to get herself over to the water pan and splash her hands around in it. Since I've seen her actually tip the pan over and spill out all the water before, I thought I was getting off light with just a little splashing. I moved her to the other side of the room and went to get a towel for the little splashes she had made.

As I turned the corner back into the room, it all seemed to happen in slow motion. I saw The Talker pick up the water tray. (I think he was trying to copy me when he sees me empty it all the time.) His little hands were not controlled enough to hold the heavy H2O and he spilled it all out. The spillage soaked through a whole beach towel. Thank goodness we have tile floors and clean up is simple!

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Friday, October 20, 2006

How my babies slept through the night and were in their own rooms by 3 months old

That’s right…3 months.

When my babies were born, my first goal was getting them to sleep through the night.

And I succeeded.

In less than three months.

See, I require at least 8 hours of sleep in order to function as a normal human being, so if my children sleep then I wake up happy and alert and ready for whatever the day holds. Call me selfish, but that’s how I am. Now, I’m not an expert, but my “method” has worked on two children, so take what you can get from it.

The basic idea is to turn your baby’s clock around. When you are pregnant, your baby is awake when you are asleep and sleeping while you are up and moving all day long. Your body motion rocks him to sleep all the hours you are active. As soon as you stop this gentle motion, he wakes up and wants to play. (Hence the sleepless nights because of the baby kicking you during the last couple months of pregnancy.) When your baby is born, he is used to his “schedule” and you need to teach him what is night and what is day.

Are you ready for the secret? This is going to sound mean, but it works. You need to wake up your baby. Creating a routine and a schedule starts at birth. (Well, a few days after birth when you’re home and ready for the challenge.) Who is crazy enough to wake up a perfectly peaceful and sleeping baby? A tired mommy, that’s who!

Most newborns will sleep 2, 3, or 4 hours at a stretch during the day. You want those pleasant hours to pass at night so YOU can get some rest. To accomplish this, wake up your baby every two hours or so. Move his arms and legs like he’s playing, undress him, rub his tummy, blow on his face, munch those cute cheeks and neck, talk and sing “it’s time to get up,” maybe use a cool (but not cold) washcloth on his chest and neck. Once he wakes up and gives you that squawky “Mom, leave me alone” cry, then you change his diaper. Maybe even let him cry for a couple minutes (not too long, of course) just to make sure that he’s good and awake. Then you feed him.

This can get tricky because your baby just wants to go back to sleep. As soon as you put the bottle or your breast close to his face he might drop right back into dreamland. Fight him! Tap his cheek, move his limbs, twist the bottle in his mouth – whatever you have to do to get him to finish that meal.

Within about a month (maybe less) your baby will be doing “the schedule” on his own and won’t need you to keep reminding him when it is time to eat. You’ll find that he now eats, plays, and naps about the same time every day. Slowly, his nighttime sleeping will increase until he has reached a solid 8, 10, or even 12 hours of down time. This blessedly calm night should happen before he is 3 months old, but only if you are diligent in imposing the schedule on him.

Admittedly, it is easier to get a formula-fed baby to sleep through the night than a breast milk baby, simply because formula is so much thicker and sits with the baby so much longer. I only nursed my first born for about 4 weeks before I switched to formula. I know, I know, that’s very un-politically correct of me, but it was the decision I made.

HOWEVER, before I switched to formula my son was sleeping 6 hours at a stretch at night. SIX HOURS!! And he was less than a month old. Maybe it was his temperament, but I like to think that it was me pushing him and waking him up regularly during the day. I did not nurse my daughter at all and she was sleeping 8 hours and in her own room at about 2 ½ months because of this “method.”

FYI: if you are nursing and you try to get your baby to sleep through the night, your fertility will probably return quicker. Just be aware. Postponed fertility with nursing is usually only true with frequent nursing. A 6 or 8 hour break is not frequent enough to delay the return of fertility, so be careful about getting pregnant again too soon.

Pleasant dreams!

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Forward Ho!

Finally! Blue Eyes has been rolling around the floor for months. She has been getting everywhere that she wants to go just by turning tummy to back to tummy. She’ll roll in a big circle all around the room, under the coffee table, over to the toy box, you name it. We had almost thought that she would not learn to go forward until she got up onto her feet.

And then, this morning, I spied her. I don’t think she saw me looking at her, but I saw…she actually scooted forward. Her legs were straight (no crawling position), but she used her hands and elbows to drag herself towards a toy that was out of reach. At last, accomplishment!

Now the real question is whether she’ll show Daddy her “trick” when he gets home tonight. Fat chance! She’s a sneaky one... *smiles*

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Talker and Blue Eyes

“Whad’ll ya SAY? Whad’ll ya SAY? Whad’ll ya SAY?” My 19-month old son’s words ring in my head.

The Talker has recently learned to say “please” and “thank you” (they actually sound like “pleeee” and “DA-say”). And then he started imitating the question that I ask him countless times in a day. He walks around the house, waving his hands around saying, “Whad’ll ya SAY?”
In fact, he has come to the point where he is learning new words so fast! He can sing “Alleluia,” hum “dun-dun-daaaa,” ask for a “nana” (banana), eat his “sp-GEEE” (spaghetti), say “weeee” when I drive the car on a hill, and of course call for “Mommy” and “Daddy.”

Meanwhile, Blue Eyes is the exact opposite of her brother, even at 8 months old. The Talker has always been a vocal child. He has baby-talked almost since he started to smile. Blue Eyes, on the other hand, rarely ever “talks.” She cries when she needs something, yells when she wants attention, and laughs when she’s being tickled. We don’t often get to hear her sweet little voice making “goo-goo-ga-ga” sounds. I don’t really think she gets a chance to speak with such an overbearing older brother. It sure is fun to see them growing up…and they have such a long way to go still! I’m enjoying every minute of it!

Check out pictures of my munchkins by clicking on the photos to the right.

For you Lost fans: we live for Wednesday nights!

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Buried in books

I love books. Really. I love, love, LOVE, love, love books. Novels, mostly. I guess I haven’t grown up enough to appreciate the non-fiction side of life. My mind just gobbles up any fantasy, mystery, romance, or classical authorship that I can get my hands on. It’s a wonderful feeling to escape from the world and become part of someone else’s. To watch the events of unreality play out before you. To feel for the characters as if you have known them your whole life. To go to places you have never been, in times that you will never experience except through the eyes (and words) of others. It’s such a thrill.
Imagine my utter glee (and minor jealousy) when my mother was given a library. Well, actually, she was given all the books in the library. My mother’s godmother started the library in a local parochial school many years ago. Recently, the school had to close and they were getting rid of all the books. My mom went to the school and took home all the books that were there for the asking. She brought home a mountain of paper and ink which she then placed into storage boxes. For several months, they have remained in storage awaiting the right time to sort through, catalogue, and organize this treasure.
I have been waiting to hear that my mom “had the time and energy” to embark on the enormous project. It is such a daunting prospect that I knew she would not enjoy doing it alone. My curiosity finally reached breaking point. I could not wait any longer to explore the priceless objects in my mother’s possession, so I volunteered to help. After all, what is more inspiring that someone else’s assistance when you have a huge project before you? For the last several weeks I have been going to my mother’s house once a week (she lives over an hour away) and helping her catalogue all the books. We spend as much time in the day as we can (i.e., as long as the kids are playing nicely) going through each book and writing out the author and title onto index cards. So far, we have processed about 600 books and we are only about half done!
We have found some amazing books. Some are out of print. Some are out of date. Some are damaged. There are mysteries, histories, biographies, poetry, classics, textbooks, sports books. All of them are unique. As we talk about what to do with the collection we always discuss how we will know what books she will want to keep. The conclusion is always the same. We will just have to read them. And we thought the cataloguing process was lengthy. Wait until we have to read over 1000 books!!

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Surprising Ourselves

Have you ever had a laaaaaazy day? I mean really lazy? Sure you have, where you bum out and watch movies all day long, eat pizza while watching your third flick of the day, then call it an early evening around 9 so you can get a good night sleep. We've had those days. Lots of them, actually. But nothing can beat today.

My husband hardly ever takes a nap. Seriously. He has to be sick or pretty worn out to deprive himself of perfectly good productive daylight to catch up on zzzz's. This morning went like our usual Sunday. Hustle the kids awake, wrestle with them all through church, take hugh sighs of relief when the priest gives the final blessing and we can leave, then home for lunch. Today we had to make a small stop to buy the The Talker new shoes. (He's just growing too fast! *sigh*)

When we got home from our errand we were completely exhausted. No reason, really, just general exhaustion. We put the kids down for their naps, then we went down -- hard! All four of us slept solidly for 2 1/2 hours. When I woke up listening to Blue Eyes cooing and giggling to herself I could not believe how long it had been. In fact, as I write this, hubby and The Talker are still sleeping. I'm about to get dinner ready and wonder where the day at home with my husband has disappeared to. Oh, yeah, it went where it should go: to the blessed relief of Sunday rest.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Poopy days

Ew, Ew, Ew, Ew, Ew. Oh, and did I saw EEEEWW!! As a fairly new parent I am growing used to the learning process of raising my babies. I definitely don’t know everything and when I have to learn I am open to the challenge. For the most part, things are fairly straight forward. There are sad owie moments, there are funny ha-ha moments, there are sweet awww moments. And then, ohhhh then, there are the utterly disgusting, make you want to gag, wonder how you’ll ever get through them without your hair turning gray eeeeewwwww moments.
This morning I had my first major ew moment. After over 19 months of parenthood I have experienced my share of diaper grossness. Both of my children have, on more than one occasion, filled their diapers to overflowing with fecal matter and the clean up required plenty of wipes, a bath, and rinsing their clothes before running a cycle of wash. Today’s poop experience takes first place.
The Talker is 19 months old. He is starting to get frustrated with wearing a diaper, but he is still too young to potty train. I frequently find him reaching into his diaper to itch his bum. When I saw him doing it this morning I reacted as I usually do and told him to stop. Little did I know the damage he had already caused. He had “done his business” for the morning. You can guess what was back there when he reached to scratch. Unknown to me, he had been at this a few minutes while I was washing dishes in the other room. When I found him, there were smear marks on the walls, the couch, and all over the back of his shorts. Can you say “EW”!!! I guess he didn’t like what came out on his fingers and used any place he could find to wipe off the offensive material. Naturally, I got stuck cleaning up. Ew!!

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Puppy in the Window

I am not a dog person. Neither is my husband. Actually, we are not cat people either. Or bird people. Or hamster people. Or fish people. I guess you could say we aren’t pet people at all. There are probably many people out there who will make the claim that we are missing out on the greatest companion of a lifetime. We don’t see it that way. When both of us were growing up there were various pets in the family, but neither one of us ever felt that special bond between man and beast that turns the disinterested party into a raving fan of the species for life. In fact, before we got married we talked about pets and we pretty much decided that we would never have any. We didn’t want to get stuck picking up slack for the child who “promised” to take care of the animal and then quickly lost interest.
Our children have never really had experiences with dogs. I know, I know, they are still very young and at their ages there is not much experience to be had anyway. To be honest, I have been trying to keep them away from the canines because they are at such an impressionable age that I fear any bark or licking from these furry friends will negatively impact my young ones for life. I myself am quite hesitant around any furry creatures that make noise or have sharp extremities. It’s just a natural caution that I have which I have never desired to force away.
Imagine my husband’s and my surprise when we were walking through the mall one day with our munchkins. Blue Eyes was sitting in the stroller and The Talker was walking next to her. As we passed the pet shop, the puppies in the window became very excited. They jumped and barked and clawed at the window, wagging their tales in a blurred frenzy. I waited for a moment to see how my son would react, fully prepared to gather his frightened little self into my arms of consolation. To my surprise, he ran right up to the window and touched the glass trying to reach the puppies! He had no fear at all. In fact he was filled with fascination at these active little creatures. We did not linger long, so I am still unsure how he would have proceeded if he were allowed to touch one of them, but his initial acceptance and joy was astonishing to my husband and me.
The event has made me ponder some questions. Are we born with the desire to bond with God’s creatures? Is our fear or apprehension of any animal, therefore, a learned behavior? How does our natural trust in goodness shift so dramatically? How do I foster that natural trust so that it does not diminish with age?
Who knows. There may come a day when my husband and I have to change our minds about being “pet people”…our son might teach us a thing or two.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Grocery day

Grocery day. For most people, this event is nothing more than a ritualistic gathering of food. For the at-home mom with children under school age, that half-dreaded but necessary day of the week comes too quickly. It is the day where you bravely venture forth into a land full of imminent exhaustion and continual physical demand. It is a veritable playground to your children who find every box, every can, every bag of food fascinating.
My grocery trip started simply enough. The kids were behaving well after breakfast, so I made the decision to embark on our weekly adventure. The baby sat prettily in the seat of the cart and my toddler looked comfortable sucking his thumb in the basket. The first stop: milk. An easy acquisition. The large gallons of white fluid are too heavy for my 1 year old to lift, so he was satisfied with simply pushing them around the spacious “cage.” We then added some cheese to the mix. These crinkly bags were much more fun for him to play with.
Up and down the aisles we went. He shook the cereal boxes and tapped the cans, making music with each new addition to his collection. And then it happened. I saw a great sale. I just had to buy as many cans of peaches and pears as I could. As the cans piled up, my son was elated to receive so much attention. He excitedly began arranging the items as best as he could. His thrill lasted only a few moments before he realized that his legs were practically buried in the cold metal objects. That’s when the trouble started. I still had to get through the produce section and the frozen foods before we could leave and I had a fussy toddler demanding his freedom. I did my best to re-arrange the tower of cans, but he would not be satisfied and his frustration became quite verbal.
Then the baby in front wanted to know what was going on. She turned around in her seat, saw all the goodies that her brother got to play with and she wanted one too. At only 8 months old, her little hands were too small to hold the heavy cans of food, so I was forced to give her a bag of spaghetti for entertainment. Naturally, that bag now has teeth marks along the edges from her “play.”
After grabbing the frozen pizza and ice cream we dashed for the checkout line. My son was so tired of being surrounded and limited in his movement that he started to throw things out of the cart. I had to get down and dirty with him right there in the checkout line. Finally, we made it out of the store and into the car.
Upon arriving home, I (naturally) placed the kids out of the way in the living room while I brought all the food inside. They were not too happy about being behind their security fence and I had to listen to the cries and make every attempt at consolation while bringing the food into the house. When it was all over, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Remind me again…how do people say that at-home moms don’t work?

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How we met - the romance story

It all began on a cold and rainy night in January 2002. Well, actually, I don’t remember if it was rainy…or cold for that matter…but it did start in January. Yes, that evening I was feeling lonely, mostly because my mother had started to tease me about how long it had been since my last date. I hadn’t had a boyfriend for a year, so it had been a while since a strong arm held me and gave me a shoulder to lean on. My mom saw an ad in a newspaper for a singles website and she teased me that maybe I ought to try it. Well, I’d show her! I couldn’t take the taunts any longer and I did something that I thought was an act of desperation, although it ended in the best possible result. I signed up for an online dating service.
After five months of going on a date here and a date there without experiencing any chemistry, I got into contact with Christian. He lived in the same county as I did and we began exchanging emails. It was only a couple of days before he asked where I worked. I told him the name of the company and was completely shocked when I received a phone call a few hours later from a man named Chris who said that he had been enjoying our email conversation of the last few days. You can imagine my surprise while I am sitting at my desk, in my office, expecting a client to be on the other end of the phone. It took me a few seconds to gather my thoughts and place the name (I didn’t immediately grasp the nickname), and then it hit me – this guy I was emailing had looked up the phone number for my company! At first I thought, “Okay, this is a little creepy. I’m not ready for this.” But then I thought that it showed initiative and was a sign of a guy who knows what he wants.
It was a short phone call and Chris asked if he could come meet me. It turns out that his office was only 3 blocks from my office! He came over later in the afternoon and during that brief, awkward visit we exchanged phone numbers. I have a rule that guys are supposed to make the first move. So, naturally, I expected Chris to call me that evening, or the next day, to ask me on a date. I didn’t get a call. My head told me to let him go, obviously he wasn’t that interested or he would have pursued me. My gut, on the other hand, told me that there was something about him worth going after. So, I broke my own rule and called him on the third day.
Quite honestly, we had a rocky start to our relationship. I expected “Mr. Right” to sweep me off my feet with his charming and chivalrous ways. Chris was not unrefined, on the contrary he was well-spoken, energetic and funny, but he definitely needed some tweaking in the romance department. For example, during our first phone call (when I broke my rule and called him) Chris asked me if I would like to go to lunch with him that day. I was interested, so I said, “Sure, when do you want to pick me up?” It was then that he told me his car was in the shop and if I wanted to go out then I would have to pick him up. I wasn’t ready to give up my old fashioned ideals that easily, so I told him to let me know when his car was done and he could come get me for a proper date. Just a few days later we arranged our first date. He let me pick the place and we had a wonderful time at a local dinner theater.
That first date went unbelievably well. In my experience, first dates have always been uncomfortable. Whether I’ve known the guy previously or not, it’s the first time I’m with someone and have an expectation for romance. There was hardly a moment of discomfort on that first date with Chris. Even though it was only our second meeting and we had never really spoken much (our phone calls were pretty short), there was no shyness on either side. We just jumped right into conversation and there seemed to be an unending supply of subjects to discuss. We both came from large families. We had similar high school experiences. We are the same religion. We even knew many of the same people because our different high school circles intersected frequently. Imagine sitting at a table with someone whom you have never met in your life and finding out that they know half the same people as you. There was an immediate connection.
Our relationship progressed rapidly. Before that first meeting ended we had already set up our next date. It was not long (about two weeks) before we were seeing each other almost every day and Chris became a regular dinner guest at my parents’ house. Within a month we were in love with each other, and by two months we were talking about marriage.
We met in May, at the end of my junior year of college. That summer we had the best time of our lives going to baseball games, museums, movies, walking on the beach, seeing concerts, and more. When school started again our activities lessened, but since Chris was working on his master’s degree we just amended our outings around both of our homework loads. Our typical day involved work and school for both of us, then dinner with my family, followed by a few hours of studying side-by-side, and wrap it up with a pleasant evening stroll or going out for a late night drink. We would study at my house (I lived at home with my parents) and my mom used to make sarcastic comments that we needed to liven up the relationship. I guess it was pretty strange to see a couple of in love 20-somethings sitting around reading books and writing papers instead of out enjoying themselves.
On the one-year anniversary of our first date, Chris proposed. His romantic side had greatly improved since our first meeting. For this special occasion, he took me to the same beach that we walked on after our first dinner date, got down on one knee and said those magic four words I had dreamed of hearing since I was a little girl: “Will you marry me?”
Eight months and one day after his romantic question, I said “yes” again in front of 200 family members and friends. Now we have two beautiful children and we hope to have many more. My sister is now engaged to a man that she met off the very same website that brought Chris and I together. She was inspired by our success, and now has her own happy ending. And it all started with the internet…

10 Unusual Reasons to Marry a Salesman

I know, I know, if you want to make money you’ve got to be in sales. But it’s not all peaches and roses if you are the wife of the successful (or unsuccessful) salesman. It can be a real drag to go through his fluctuating moods and the treacherous sales cycle. Or is it a drag? If you think about it, each of the reasons that you hate the sales career is really why you married your salesman to begin with and why you need each other. Here is my list of Unusual (e.g., at first they appear negative) Reasons why we women married to salesmen are (or could be) so happy:

He’s more popular than you. Everywhere you go you run into someone who knows your husband. He makes friends with all his clients, after all, that’s how he gets their business…by being friendly! When you are with him in public and you unexpectedly find yourself being introduced to a “great client,” you automatically hope that you remembered to brush your hair that morning and that the spit-up stain on your beat up tee-shirt isn’t too noticeable. You don’t want to spoil his perfect image. When the whole introduction and exchange of pleasantries is finally over your husband gives you a great big kiss and says that you were great. He talks about you all the time when he makes his sales calls and he’s glad that this particular client finally got the meet the woman behind the man. Your husband’s persuasive skills are so good that you are convinced you were an asset to him during that brief business encounter. His compliments let you know that he thinks you are beautiful no matter what.

He gets to do more fun stuff than you. Remember in high school and college how it was always the popular kids who seemed to have the most fun stuff on their calendar? Well, that’s how your husband is. There are so many people that like him and want him to show up to their office party, their after-hours beer social, their Christmas party, their kid’s birthday party, etc. Not only are you home all day, every day with the kids, but then there are times when you get “stuck” by yourself all evening while he’s out having a good time. While your one year old throws food at you during dinner and splashes so much in the bath that you come away soaked, hubby is out tossing back a cold one and talking sports with “the guys” who also happen to give him the business that feeds the family. By the time your man gets home you are so exhausted from the extra duties that you had to perform solo during the evening that you just want to relax. Being the wonderful husband that he is, your beloved takes your shoes off, gives you a nice foot rub and tells you that he left as quickly as he could because he just wanted to be home. You don’t want to believe him. You’d like to believe that he had a great time and didn’t miss you or the kids at all. But you can see it in his eyes – he’s tired from being on his best behavior all day and he misses you and the kids so much. He makes the sacrifices for YOU!

The women love him. Sometimes people (especially us women) just need someone to talk to. It feels like your husband is always “the chosen one” that women use as a confessor. They tell him their life story and most of the time it involves lots of mistakes. He listens to their woes. They rave about what a great guy he is. He asks for their business and gets it. You become suspicious of these women and their motives. In your mind, no women should spill her guts to a guy she barely knows as a business acquaintance. She must be putting the moves on him! What a slut! You have every confidence in your husband. He would never cheat on you. You don’t worry about him, but about those women and how far they will go to get his sympathy for their screwed up lives. What you don’t realize is that every time he hears a story from one of these desperate women he appreciates you so much more. He is thankful for your morality and your values. He loves your stability and your strength. Each tale of woe brings him closer to you by reminding him that you take care of him and stand by him through all the good and the bad times.

He’s so flighty. There’s always something bigger, something better, a more successful way to make money. His eyes are always looking around for a better offer and there is not really any such thing as company loyalty. He would leave for a competitor in a heartbeat if the pay was good enough. This can drive you absolutely crazy keeping up with all his latest schemes for getting rich quick. You just wish that he would slow down, focus, and spend enough time doing one thing to be successful at it. This is where you come in. He needs you. You might not think so because he acts all tough, but he does. You keep him stable. You are consistent. You are always there. Because of you, he will be cautious before making dramatic changes. He does not want to risk upsetting you. Believe it or not, he is vulnerable, and his weakness is you.

Income varies per month. Most people in this country have a steady stream of income. They go to work, do a job, get paid the same amount every week, and live off that money. The life of a salesman, though, is not that predictable. Oh, with success comes some measure of anticipations for regularity, but it can never be completely consistent. Some months he sells a lot, some months he sells a little. Every month you and he hope that his business makes just enough to cover your bills. This is an opportunity for the two of you to communicate. Out of necessity, you need to regularly discuss the incoming and the outgoing finances so that you are both in sync regarding your spending habits. You’ll find yourselves talking about money quite a lot, but both of you will know exactly what is permissible spending and what is off limits.

Reliance on the marketplace. Sometimes it just does not matter how good a salesman your husband is. If the marketplace is down, then he can’t get business no matter how hard he tries. It’s tough to get something out of zero. My husband was a title insurance sales rep for 3 years…the good years. As soon as real estate started to die locally, his business went downhill. He still knew the same people, was still as friendly and as good a salesman as ever, but there was no longer a need for his services in the same volumes as before. And since his paycheck depended on making sales, we struggled with very little pay for a while before he changed industries altogether. This can be tough on a family, but it is particularly rough on your husband who no longer has any control over his business. The plus side: you become very well educated in current market trends. Even though you are juggling kids all day you are a mommy who can carry on an intelligent conversation about the recent economy. Thank your husband for all the times he talks about work. At the time he’s saying it you do not particularly care, but later the information makes you knowledgeable and isn’t that a boost for the mommy-mush brain!

Inconsistent work schedule. Sometimes your husband will kiss you goodbye in the morning before you even have a thought of waking up, and sometimes he hangs around doing computer work at home until 10am. Sometimes he is home for dinner, sometimes he’s not. He could be home anytime between 3pm and 8pm. Maybe he eats lunch at home a few days a week, but you never know until an hour beforehand whether he will show up. What time will dinner be tonight? You call him at 4 o’clock every day to ask him. You just never know. On the other hand, he had the flexibility to arrange his schedule so he could be there for every single doctor visit while you were pregnant. When you want to take a weekend trip he gets home in the middle of the afternoon on Friday and you don’t have to worry about it cutting into his paid vacation time. After all, he can take phone calls in the car while you drive to your get-away place and not even consider it a day off. He can work from home while the kids are napping and you go to lunch with a friend. Yes, the flexible schedule definitely has its benefits.

He thinks that he is always right. In your husband’s world, people come to him for solutions to their business problems and his advice is usually heeded with the utmost respect and admiration for his ingenuity. Clients say things like, “What would we do without you?” and “You’re the best!” He thinks he will get the same treatment at home. While we love our husbands, they don’t always have a practical application for household problems that arise. When you complain about something the kids did today, or you tell him your latest challenge involving the education of your youngsters in proper manners, he offers a solution to the problem without any regard for the circumstances surrounding it. He adamantly defends his erroneous position and will not be swayed…until he tries to apply his “solution” and fails miserably. Then he tells you how smart you are for always knowing the right thing to do. He is humbled. He is apologetic. He admits his mistake. You are the queen.

He tries to sell you. Mr. Hot-Shot Top Salesman of the quarter is so confident in himself that occasionally he tries to apply his winning techniques on you. He thinks that this phrase or that leading question is just the thing to get you to change your mind on an issue and bring you around to see his point of view. Little does he know that you have steeled yourself against such mental invasion. You love him. You would do anything for him. He is your hero. You are far from being immune to his charm. But you live with the man. You know exactly what he says to try and get what he wants. He uses the same lines on his clients, but with you the effort does not yield the same result. When you know what his favorite closing line is, you will know when to roll your eyes, smile, and tell him you love him, but he’s not winning. The best part is, you can probably learn how to sell him if you pay attention. That’s a nice backup to have in case your other forms of persuasion fail…

His mood swings are legendary. And you thought women were prone to the emotional roller coaster! You never know when your husband will come home elated and on top of the world, or devastated beyond consolation. He may have finally succeeded in acquiring a new client, or he could have heard nothing but rejection for the last eight hours. This is your opportunity to shine! Yes, you’ve been busy all day too and maybe the kids were not as well behaved as you would like. But you have the power! The power to change the atmosphere of the whole house by simple welcoming your husband home with open arms, placing a warm dinner on the table, giving him a few minutes to vent his frustration, or sing his own praises, then gently changing the topic. If he had a frustrating day, those problems will disappear under your verbal caresses. You can lift his mood with a word, a glance, a smile. We women have the power!! Use it.

Child's Play

I tried to tell my husband a story tonight and he took it as if World War III was upon us. Ummm…sorry honey, kids under the age of 5 just don’t understand the concept of sharing…and, no, our 1 ½ year old does not need to be firmly disciplined for taking someone else’s toy. For crying out loud, my mother and I can handle a couple of selfish toddlers perfectly well, thank you! Sometimes I just don’t think he understands our kids, or children in general for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great father. He plays with the kids, they trust him, they love him, they look forward to him being home from work. He makes them smile and laugh and he disciplines with love when necessary. But, he is quite foolish regarding the regular stages of growing up. Let me tell you what happened today.

The kiddies and I spent the day at my parents’ house. My dad was at work and I was helping my mom organize a bunch of books that she recently acquired from an old school library. My son was playing with my 3 year old (almost 4) little sister. (Yes, I have a 3 year old sister. Yes, we have the same parents…long story.)

There is a 2 year age difference between my son The Talker and my sister Blondie, and another year gap for my daughter Blue Eyes. They were all playing on the floor of the living room while my mother and I sat safely on the other side of a child gate in the kitchen sorting through the many treasures of children’s literature. Before long, Blue Eyes started to fuss. She is a very sensitive child and does not like to be left to play by herself. Even though she was surrounded by toys and two playmates, she wanted mamma and so my mom and I brought her into the kitchen with us. When I told my husband this, he thought that there was something wrong with our little girl. “Why can’t she just play with the other kids?” he asked. Then he immediately tried to figure out ways to “fix” her problem. I had to stop him short and explain that it’s just a personality thing and she’ll grow out of it (or not), but she needs time to grow up. After all, she’s only 8 months old!!

I then continued my story of the day and told my husband how The Talker and Blondie had bickered like siblings most of the day (even though they are aunt and nephew). The Talker kept taking toys from Blondie and she was not too happy about it, as you can imagine. She kept telling my mother and me that he wouldn’t share with her. Well, SHE is old enough to start being taught how to share, but my son is definitely not there yet. We had to tell her over and over again how he was just trying to play with her and he didn’t mean to make her sad. Of course, at her age, she does not understand how her nephew isn’t as smart as she is. At three years old, the whole world is three years old. It was a constant struggle through the day. Blondie played with a toy, The Talker wanted to imitate her, took it from her, and Blondie cried to mommy.
My mom and I took it all in stride and dealt with each problem calmly and as best we could. When I told my husband about though, he seemed to think that The Talker needed to learn how to share and he questioned why I didn’t come down hard on the little guy to force him to play nice. I explained that he was playing nice, as nice as he could for his age. Mr. Know-It-All, thought this was a lame excuse and started pulling memories of when he was a kid and how he “never” disobeyed his parents (yeah, right!). I don’t think hubby realized how silly he sounded quoting events that were within his memory when our son is still too young to even compare to that. Ha! I’d like to see daddy-oh try to teach our one year old how to share. Then we can talk!

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Top 10 unusual reasons to stay home with children as long as possible (in no particular order)

October 8, 2006

Anyone can give you 10 “nice” reasons why they stay home with their children. I won’t deny that there are many glorious rewards to being present for all the “firsts.” But today I am talking to all the skeptics. This list is for all those people who CHOOSE to work because they see more trouble than reward out of staying home. Each of these ideas revolves around an idea that is perceived to be a negative, a sacrifice that many people are unwilling to make. I am going to show you how these “negatives” aren’t really negative at all, they are the biggest positives in the list for why we at-home moms and dads do what we do.

Top 10 unusual reasons to stay home with children as long as possible (in no particular order):

Crying. That continual wailing and screaming of a newborn. The louder and more controlled manipulation of a toddler. It can really grate at your nerves and make you wonder if you will ever succeed at parenting. BUT, crying is a form of communication. A newborn cries because they need something – food, a clean diaper, snuggling. Toddlers cry because they can’t find the words yet to tell you what is wrong. Maybe they fell down, maybe they are bored and need to play. It is your challenge and duty as a parent to find the source of the displeasure and heal it. As soon as you rescue your child from their woe, you become their hero!! Do you really want someone else, your babysitter, to take your place as that esteemed person in your child’s life? Just think…you, a SUPERHERO!

Meals. You can’t tell a child to wait just a little longer for lunch. A baby, or a toddler, does not understand the concept of delayed gratification. All they know is “I’m hungry and I want food NOW!” Your day has to stop and then the feeding frenzy begins. There are spills and messes and sticky fingers to clean up and all for what? A few bites of food that could never be enough to satisfy your hunger, but somehow it completely satisfies your child. Meals are the best time for teaching your child manners and the best time for learning how to communicate. Teaching your child to say “please” before giving him Cheerios, and teaching him to say the name of his favorite food, “spaghetti,” turns this mess-fest into a memorable moment for you to treasure always.

Naptime. Ah, yes, the quiet time of day when you finally get a few minutes to yourself. But wait, before you can relax you have an unhappy, tired child who refuses to go to bed and only wants to make your “down time” difficult by proclaiming their misery at the top of their lungs. The neighbors probably hear your little one’s screams and wonder what is going on at your house, when really the only problem is that your child won’t admit he’s tired and go to sleep. Take this time before bed to talk softly to your child. Find a toy or a blanket that is reserved strictly for the time your child spends in his bed. Maybe you and he snuggle for a few minutes before the inevitable desertion in his room. One way or another, this is a battle that you win, but you win it through kindness. Why put yourself through this struggle? Because when your child wakes up you get to experience the joyful smile on his face and the fresh step in his play and that’s worth it all.

Teething. All the horror stories are true. A baby cutting teeth will scream for apparently no reason, at all times of day and night. There will be no warning, it comes and goes, and it lasts for months. Many teething babies will also get runny noses and diarrhea to accompany the ear-piercing wails of pain. You want it to stop, but you also can’t wait to drop the kid off at daycare and let someone else worry about it while you go merrily off to work. That is not the right attitude to have. If you stick out the teething at home and see the misery that your child is going through you will feel so much more triumphant when you witness the first (or second, or third) tooth finally break through those soft little gums. You will feel the exultation of “WE did it!” It is not an accomplishment that your child makes alone, but it is one that you make together as you do all that you can to sooth his pain throughout the process.

The never-ending “no.” Everyone knows that once a child learns to speak his favorite word is “no.” You tell him to come here, he says no. You tell him to eat, he says no. You tell him to get off the couch, he says no. He is pushing your buttons, he knows it, and you can’t stand it. It is much easier when you only have to fight with him in the evenings and on weekends because, ha-ha, the sitter has to deal with attitude the rest of the time. Your little one is learning his limits. He is developing his personality and it is essential that you are present for the formation that takes place during this sensitive time. If you were home with him, he would probably not behave as defiantly as he does. Why? Because he would learn what is expected of him. You’ll experience so much joy and pride when your child finally responds to you in a positive way instead of automatically rejecting your commands. You will know that he learns his behaviors from you and he wants to BE you as much as his little self can imitate.

Getting into forbidden places. Oh, how many times parents tell their children to “get away from that!!” Kitchen cupboards are always a fun place for a toddler to explore. And remember the time he crawled into the fireplace? Let’s not forget when he tried to take a wine glass out of the china hutch. Doesn’t he understand he could get hurt? NO, he doesn’t! Kids will only understand their limits if they are surrounded by the same environment. At the sitter’s they know what is fair territory and what is off-limits, but at home he gets into everything. It’s that sense of the explorer within him. He is curious about his surroundings and he wants to learn by touching and holding and, yes, even eating things that he shouldn’t. Aside from the obvious answer of getting child-proof latches, you need to be in your home to teach your child what is safe and what is not so he can learn through experience. Eventually, he will trust and obey you. When you go to a new place and he goes exploring, and you have to tell him to stay away, he will understand and you will feel relief at him finally accepting your authority.

Not doing what you want to do. You figure that you’ll stay home and get so much accomplished because you’ll have all day to do all sorts of things, and how hard could it be to watch your child play, right? Dream on! It is a very busy day taking care of children. More than likely you will put a list together for the tasks you want to do that day and only half of them will get done. You need to get used to finding accomplishment in the smallest, most menial of duties, and it is a real blow to your pride. After all, in the world of paid employment you are an important person who gets this, this, this, and that done all in one day. Not any more, though. Or so you think. How many company executives can say that they formed the mind of the future, witnessed a one-of-a-kind musical performance, and built a city all in one day? Stay-at-home moms can say all of that and more!

Repetition is boring!! Wake up, feed kids breakfast, play, feed kids lunch, naps, wake up, play, feed dinner, play, bath, bed. It’s the same thing every day…day in…day out…week after week. Sometimes you’ll decide to go to the park or to a friend’s house for a little change, but the schedule persists, even throughout small variations. It is not exciting. It is does not have surprises. It is what it is. But, your child loves it! He knows exactly what to expect every day from the time he wakes up in the morning until he goes to bed at the end of a weary day. He knows and understands what time to expect meals, when he can run around, and when it is time to cool off by reading a book. The same routine every day is boring for you, but it gives your child security. He trusts you to do the same thing today that you did yesterday and the day before and the day before. The schedule and the repetition are his friends and he loves you for them. Your reward comes when he acknowledges the schedule and goes to bed on time, because he does not know how to stay up later than usual. J

It never seems to end. You only need to stay home until your child is old enough to go to school, but you can’t get yourself to do it. Five years is such a long time and you don’t want your career to suffer because of five years of absence. You think that work can’t get along without you because you are sooooo essential to the company and to your clients. Newsflash: They will survive!! If you died tomorrow I am sure the company that you work for, the company that calls you an employee, the clients who give the company money, will manage to continue their course of operations with only a minor bump. So, if you made the right choice and stayed home with your child, they would also continue to be in existence. The work you do at home is infinitely more important than any work you could do at an office. At home, with your child, you are teaching and molding a young, impressionable mind how to think, how to act, how to speak. You are creating another you, or a better you, if that’s what you desire. The time and effort that you invest in spending most waking moments with your child will result in his being whole-heartedly devoted to you. What client is that loyal?

Money. I know, I know. You can’t afford to stay home. You need to work because you can’t keep your current lifestyle with just one income. Don’t you think your children are worth a little sacrifice? If it takes a change of lifestyle and a reduction of expenses to allow for you to be home fulltime, then make it happen! Everyone says it, and I won’t be an exception: there is no pay that could ever equal the reward that you get from being a fulltime parent. What price do you put on a smile, or a hug? How much would you exchange to be present for your baby’s first steps, first word, first song? Most of the “first’s” you can’t control and they might (and probably will) happen at the day care, when you’re not around…because you’re making money. Just think about that.

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