Sunday, May 31, 2009

Four fabulous years old

Most kids' loveys are a piece of a tattered baby blanket or a pale, washed-out little stuffed bear that is slowly falling apart and could be missing an ear or a paw or even an eye. Not Ian's. His lovey is Gymbo. The bright colored clown they use as a mascot for Gymboree. Ian's lovey matches his personality to a tee. Funny, happy, smiling, colorful and a personality that comes through from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. Ian discovered Gymbo at a Gymboree class when he was only 13 months old. Ever since then it has been one mad love affair. Inside our house, Gymbo is constantly by Ian's side; when he is having his milk in the morning, watching tv in the afternoon or needing someone to snuggle with at night in his bed. Gymbo is even available for the hugs needed to soothe a meltdown or temper tantrum when Ian realizes he won't be getting his way. The two of them are quite a pair. Fortunately Gymbo is mass produced and we have about 6 of them ready to go and step in should the main Gymbo doll not be able to fulfill his lovey duties. We joke that our back-ups have back-ups.

My firstborn turns 4 today. Somewhere along the way he went from being a baby into a very smart, loud, energetic little boy. He calls himself Tigger and gets most adults and kids to follow suit. The definition for "high-spirited" is: 1. characterized by energetic enthusiasm, elation, vivacity, etc. Ian is the epitome of high-spiritedness. He boldly throws himself into everything he does; from making friends to building train tracks, to playing on the playground and acting out his favorite skits. Ian has an imagination and creativity that would rival even Walt Disney's vision for Disney World. He lights up a room when he enters it and his enthusiasm is all but contagious if you are around him.

Ian says the cutest things. A few months ago we were driving along in the car and as we were on an overpass, he proclaimed, "I just love overpasses so much I can't stop." Other times, Ian will say something so thought-provoking, you are amazed it came out of the mouth of a 3 year old. We were at Starbucks on a particularly blustery winter day in January and Ian was enjoying his favorite "cold vanilla drink" (it's really a vanilla bean frappacuino - no coffee in it whatsoever). While he was holding the cup and having a sip, he said, "boy, this is colder than the weather outside". Other times, his observations of the world and the things he sees in it, are downright funny. Like the time we were in the car, turning in to the neighborhood we live in. There was a woman, who looked to be about 11 months pregnant on the sidewalk. As we passed her, Ian said, "She shouldn't be walking to the hospital, she should be driving."

And, have I mentioned how courteous he is? After I got home from my appendectomy at the end of January, Ian must've asked me every day for approx. a month how I was feeling. At dinner each night, he'll ask Jeff how his day was and what did he eat for lunch. He listens to what the answers are and will make appropriate comments as feedback.

Ian is a planner. I'm not talking about planning his day or the week out, but years in advance. He has detailed ideas on themes, presents, invite lists, and locations for his next 10 birthdays. I think he even planned a surprise a party for himself one of the years. If you ever get tired hearing him talk endlessly about his future birthday parties and tell him to stop, he will just move on to Halloween. What costumes he will be wearing and who he will go trick or treating with. Ian can live in the moment and still be thinking about who he'd like to be for Halloween 5 years from now.

He loves to cook his own scrambled eggs, but still wants help putting on his shirt each morning. He will try anything once and if he didn't have a great experience doing it the first time, it will be near impossible to get him to do it again. Getting him to the dentist is a battle, but fortunately we no longer clear out Cartoon Cuts each time we go for a haircut.

Ian is such a sweet, loving little boy. He will very easily hug and kiss his friends & parents and profess his love. I used to say that when things are going his way, he is most pleasant, happy child to be around. But the minute he is not in control of the plan, he is a nightmare and no one, not even his mommy or daddy wants to be near him.

He likes to start his day off with the weather forecast on tv. If the weatherman says it is going to be scattered showers and it isn't raining the moment we are walking out the front door, he'll say "awwwww man, the weatherman got it wrong again." Even on days with a mean overcast, he'll look up at the sky and say "What a beautiful day!".

Ian has totally come into his own this past year. I can see glimpses of what he will be like 10 to 15 years from now. He will be loyal to his 'best pals', a warm, caring, incredibly bright young man with a wicked sense of humor. In fact, he'll be a lot like his father and in my book, that is a good thing. A very good thing.

Happy 4th birthday my little pumpkin. You make mommy and daddy so proud of you. We love you so much.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

But will it really do that?

Ian is a marketer's dream. He almost has me convinced that if I buy him the "Touch N Brush" he will willingly brush his teeth, not one but two times a day! The Touch N Brush is the incredibly simple invention of putting a plastic container around a tube of toothpaste and adhering it to the wall. You put your toothbrush under the opening and get the exact right amount of toothpaste needed. And all for the low, amazing price of $19.99.

These infomercial people are brilliant. They run the same commercial over and over again on an all kids' tv channel until the child can miraculously convince you that you need to buy this item right now! Ian will even add in a few of his own benefits of why he needs it that the commercial misses. "But Mommy, I can even put my step stool right under it and easily reach it with my Diego toothbrush."

A few months ago, PBS Sprout was running a carpet cleaner ad. Ian did a great job of promoting this one to me. "Look, it will even make your white carpets sparkling clean! We need that, don't we?" "And it works great on area rugs too." "Can we get it, please? Oh please?"

These marketers must have gotten a great deal on the frequency run. It seems like the commercials are running the same ad every 10 minutes. Ian is like a sponge and absorbing it all. We'll be in Bed, Bath and Beyond and he'll see the same exact product they are advertising and start telling me all about it. And of course, why we need it.

I fear for the day when Ian realizes they have a "As Seen On Tv" store already in malls around the country. I am sure in no time he'll be asking to go there instead of Toys R Us.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Split down the middle

My sister is getting married. When it looked like she was close to getting engaged, I made an announcement at one of my mommy bookclub meetings stating that as soon as Ben pops the question, I will go sign up for Weight Watchers. I refuse to be a fat Matron of Honor! While it wouldn't be so bad being "pleasantly plump" the day of the wedding, I would absolutely despise having a constant reminder of it in the wedding pictures that will proudly be displayed in every relative's house I go to visit for the next 40 or so years.

Little did I know that Ben would be getting down on one knee that exact night I made my bold statement to the group. No turning back now! I've been doing Weight Watchers religiously since September 2008. It is an easy program to follow and for the most part I love it. My goal was to lose a total of 56 pounds. I've currently said good-bye to 38 of them and can see the light at the end of the tunnel to the number I will be jumping up and down (and of course screaming with joy at the top of my lungs) if I ever see on the scale. Even if I didn't lose another pound and simply maintained what I've been able to do up to now, I'd be a happy camper. A very happy camper in fact.

So my mom was in town for the kids' birthdays and wanted to go look for her Mother of the Bride dress to wear when the wedding takes place in October. We were tight on time and had a little less than one hour to look at Lord & Taylor on Wednesday before we were due to meet up with some friends for lunch. In the dressing room I gave Sam some cheerios to munch on while my mom was trying on dresses. More cheerios were ending up on the floor than anywhere else, so I bent down to start picking them up.


My pants (only wore them one other time) split right down my butt - from one end clear to the other. Oh no! After we got done laughing, we finished up with my mom and I ran out of the dressing room and asked where the closest section of capri pants were. I had on white ones and wanted to replace them with the same color. I normally don't shop at Lord & Taylor and will very rarely spend what I was about to on a pair of pants, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I went in wearing a size 10 (they were a bit big on me) and came out of the store that day wearing a size 6. I am happy to report they fit perfectly. Yay! Yippee!! I almost didn't mind how much these pants cost. Although, in the back of my mind I am thinking, if I can split a pair of a pants in a size 10, what will happen in my new size 6?!?!?!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The morning after...

I've survived. The leftovers have been put in Tupperware containers, decorations taken down, gifts unwrapped and the growing pile of trash taken out. The weekend was mostly a blur of activity for me and I am sure everyone else I roped into aiding and abetting. Between getting the kids' pictures professionally taken Saturday morning, Samantha's party at the house later that day and Ian's party at My Gym on Sunday, it was a huge adrenaline rush for me and I anticipate the crash will come sometime tomorrow when the last of our company leaves to go back to Florida. My to-do list is longer than ever, but I refuse to stress over any of it. The posting of pictures, writing thank you notes, journaling baby books with new milestones, completing annual photo books for each of the kids and other miscellaneous items will all be done in their own sweet time.

All the time and effort in planning was more than worth it watching Samantha and Ian enjoy their parties. I really do believe that Sam knew Saturday's party was all about her. She loved being around all the family and the pictures of her eating cake for the first time will be a timeless souvenir of how cute she looked with chocolate frosting smeared all over her face. She even somehow knew to adjust her naps that day to be wide awake, fully alert and smiling for when it counted most.

Ian had a blast at his party. From the moment he ran in the front door to the last second of the party, he was a 38 pound ball of non-stop energy. He loved being the center of attention and ate it up. Ian sure knows how to have a good time.

Having two kids born just a week apart (and 3 years) I thought was going to be hard to figure out the birthday party thing. But I came to realize this past weekend that it was nice to have the parties back to back in the same weekend. Family was able to come in town to celebrate and get a 2 for 1 deal on the kids' birthdays and I can now take almost a full year off before having to start this over again.

The highlight of the weekend for me was taking a few moments at each of the parties and to watch it through the kids' eyes. It was heartwarming and made me feel so good to see how much they were enjoying themselves surrounded by family and friends who loved and cared for them so much.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Party, Party, Party

Today is Sam's first birthday. It feels so surreal to think a year has gone by since her birth. She is my golden girl who can do no wrong in my eyes. Samantha has a very sweet disposition and laughs easily. It took her awhile to learn to crawl, but now that she can, she is a girl on the go. She loves to go exploring and see what she can get into. If she finds a cabinet with a childproof lock on it, she doesn't get frustrated and will quickly move to the next one.

She enjoys music and tries to dance or sing along to whatever is playing. Her favorite game is peek-a-boo and the dog is her best friend. Each morning the first thing she looks for is to see where Bailey is. She doesn't mind the endless licking of her face and he has become so tolerant of her pulling on his tail or trying to drink from his water bowl.

Just two days ago, Sam said her first word. Funny enough, it is the same exact first word as her big brother. "Uh-oh". Should I at all be worried that both kids' first words was "uh-oh"? Is this a sign of things to come?

Samantha is a flirt and will catch the eye of a table of strangers in a restaurant or a random person walking nearby and captivate them with her charm. She is endlessly cute and very chubby. Her rolls of fat have rolls of their own.

One of her favorite things to do is take a bath with Ian. When she hears the water running, a quick smile comes on her face and she loves to splash and make waves. Sometimes when I let her crawl about on her own upstairs, I'll find her on her knees up against the bathtub looking in. She is a true water baby at heart.

I didn't realize what my life was missing until she came in to it and made it complete. Happy first birthday my sweet little angel. We love you so much.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Let them eat cake!

I am not sure if there is a condition called "2nd Child Syndrome" or not, but if there is, I am well on my way of making Sam a permanent member. I feel like she is already getting the short end of the stick on the lack of playgroups, music, gym and swim classes I've yet to enter her in. Although to my defense, I did just sign her up in a My Gym class we go to while Ian is in school. She absolutely loves it and of course, that makes me feel bad for not getting her involved in this sooner.

When Ian turned 1, we (okay, I'll admit it, it was mostly all my doing. My husband tried hard to get me to scale back) got VERY carried away throwing him a party. We invited over 70 people (56 adults, 23 kids), hired a hot children's band to come play, and ended up renting tables and chairs for our backyard, so people had a place to sit. I can look back now and say that was mostly for my benefit as Ian had no idea what was going on and would've been happy just being with his parents eating cake for the first time.

Having learned my lesson, the party this Saturday for Samantha's first birthday is most definitely on the small side. The invite list totaled 15 (almost all relatives) and will not include a band. There is one thing I can do however that I did for Ian and want to go that extra mile for Samantha.

Right now I am in the process of baking a cake in the letters of the name of my sweet little girl. I did the same thing for Ian and made him 3 cakes - an "I" and "A" and an "N". I baked the cakes and took them to a local bakery for them to frost. It turned out really cool and the pictures are pretty awesome for Ian to look back on and see the fuss that was made for his first birthday. How can I not do the same for my 2nd child? The part that sucks is, Ian has only 3 letters in his name and Samantha has 8! Oh my. So yes, I am currently baking 8 separate cakes. I am getting it all done tonight so that I can drop it off tomorrow at the bakery for them to frost and decorate. I do know my limits! However, hindsight is 20/20 and if I realized I was going to get this hair brained cake idea, I would've named her "Lia".

Family from out of town has been invading our house this week and more is to come in the next couple of days. It is fabulous having them here and makes me really wish we lived closer year-round. An extra set of hands (or two) is a good thing. I really don't mind doing all the party preparations when I know my two little ones are having so much fun hanging with Mom-mom and Pop-Pop Jim.

Slowly but surely, I feel like I am getting my life back. The events job sent an email today asking if I could work some events coming up in the next couple of weeks. I told them I had too much going on and needed to take a break for the next month or so. Score one for me! And soon, my tv watching will be taking a hiatus too. With the season finale for 'American Idol', 'Biggest Loser', 'Celebrity Apprentice', "Desparate Housewives", and series finale for 'Prison Break' recently airing, I can now spend more time on reading and finishing the books in a timely manner. This should make the library very happy. And, I might even have time for a conversation with my husband.

The sun has been shining and so have I.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Follow-up to starting a blog and Boogers!

I was pleasantly surprised at how well-received my first blog entry was. Thanks to everyone for suggestions, support and sympathy for what we all are going through, each in our own ways. No matter how green the grass looks on the other side, it is just as dry and in desperate need of water too!

A big shout out to everyone who told me that Blogs should be a lot shorter! Yes, I hear you loud and clear. I just had a lot I needed to get off my chest and boy, do I feel better. Don't worry, I'll keep my future entries short and sweet (or as much as that is possible coming from me!).

I do have to mention my dad's comments on what I wrote take the cake for being the funniest. He said he'd like Richard Gere to play him in the movie should my blogging ever make me that famous. Ha! And, people think I get carried away. Now you know half of where that comes from.

Here is something I hope puts a smile on your face:

A great friend once shared with me the key to success in being able to cut their son's finger nails and toe it while they are sleeping. We used to live in fear of breaking one of Ian's limbs trying to keep it still. We'd schedule the nail cutting-wrestling-screaming match after we were sure he had enough time to digest whatever he had eaten for the certain result of him making himself throw-up. It was a disaster on gigantic proportions. Ever since I've been given this tip, Jeff and I go into Ian's room every few weeks or so and go to town getting the job done. We've had peace and quiet cutting Ian's nails now for approx. 1.5 years. It has been fabulous!

We'll last night the nail cutting team did their job and Ian was none the wiser. This morning, Ian was watching his favorite channel (not just one show mind you, but the whole entire line-up) and I was getting some laundry started. He looked down at his nails and held out his hand for me to see. He said, "Mommy, you didn't do a good job. I can't pick the boogers out of my nose now."

heheheheheeh. I think we just hit on another benefit of keeping Ian's nails short. :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Something's Got To Give!

I am not sure how frequently I’ll be blogging. Right now I have a lot to say, and occasionally I do have really great material to share with the world. I’ve been told that I should start ‘blogging’ and it would be a huge hit. Write it and people will read it is what one of my friend’s soon-to-be fiancĂ© (get engaged already!!) keeps telling me. Apparently I can write a pretty captivating story and keep people interested until the end. Up until today, all my emails are rooted in humor. My kids have been giving me endless amounts of material and even in the messiest of situations, I can see how funny it is and share it with my close friends and family.

I have two kids; a very bright, incredibly imaginative, loud, high-energy little boy named Ian. He will be turning 4 on the 31st of May. His vocabulary and speech is off the charts and literally causes people’s mouths to drop open in awe when they hear him talk. He uses words like “conveyor belt” and “overpass” and “suspension bridge” regularly and in the right context. My other child is an incredibly sweet, happy-go-lucky little girl named Samantha. She will be turning 1 on the 23rd of May. She is my golden girl and is the complete opposite temperament of her big brother. Whereas Ian has never been one to go with the flow or sit still, Samantha is laid back and very content to sit and people watch. She decided she wanted to be born 4.5 weeks early and has been doing everything on her own timetable ever since. In her own, subtle way, she lets us know what she requires. For example, she wanted nothing to do with baby food. Rather than throw a fit and cry each time we tried to feed her the mushy, pureed stuff, she would just sit in her high chair and refuse to open her mouth. No amount of trickery worked and after a few frustrating weeks of trying we gave up. A few nights later she was sitting on my lap while I was eating dinner and grabbed a French fry out of my hand and started to eat it. It was one of those big, long, steak fries. She had no teeth at the time and couldn’t get her hands on enough of them. We took our cue from her and began to feed her real, people food. Wouldn’t you know it, this is what she wanted all along. She completely skipped the baby food stage and went straight to adult food. At 7.5 months of age, she was eating pancakes, all types of vegetables, soft fruit, bite size pieces of meat – all without teeth! It was pretty amazing. But then again, she is pretty amazing.

I have nicknames for my kids – “The loud one” and “The other one”. I am pretty certain you can figure out who is who.

Anyway, as I was saying, usually I write humorous stories to share, but for the past few days I’ve been feeling very unsettled and feel that if I can write it all down, I’ll be able to make sense of what is going on and use the writing as a cathartic way of dealing with it all. I am overwhelmed in a very big way. I think this may have all started at the beginning of January. I took the kids down to Orlando where both my parents live and spent the Winter Break (2 weeks off from Ian’s preschool – DUDE!!! What’s a SAHM to do!?!?) hanging out with the family. It was a fantastic trip and everyone was having a great time; especially the grandparents who got a lot of quality time with their grandkids. Plus, it is always a nice break for me. I get the most amazing amount of help from my mom and stepmother. Yes, I am the product of divorced parents (it didn’t happen until I was 18) and will spend half the week with my mom and stepfather and the other half of the week with my dad and stepmother. It is a bit of a pain in the neck packing and unpacking everything usually for a count of 4 to 6 times each trip, but it is more than worth it. You see, my mom only works on Fri, Sat, and Sun. Therefore, she has Mon, Tue, Wed, and Thur to play. My dad and Rita do best with us coming for the long weekend (Fri to Sun). I know once the kids get older and don’t need so much gear (pack-n-play, diapers, high chair, endless amounts of toys, etc) it will get easier. But for now this is the reality I live in.

So, it was the beginning of the new year and I decided to come up with my new year’s resolutions. This year I was going to make it easy and come up with only two; 1. Simplify my life (I take on way too much) and 2. Put me on my own to-do list. I really wanted to have a consistent work-out schedule at the gym and was having a tough time finding the time to go during the day. Between needing to run errands, being home for Sam to take a nap, and taking Ian to all his activities, getting to the gym got lower and lower on the priority list. As for simplifying my life, the best way I can describe this is trying to accomplish 4 different things on our way to somewhere fun for Ian. For example on our way to playgroup at Ethan’s house, I’ll make us stop at the post office (just need to run in and mail a package), and then a quick stop at Target (although, is it ever a quick stop at Target?), run into InkStop for some printer ink and meanwhile, I’ll check email on my cell phone and make a few calls that need to be taken care of while driving us around. Oh, and did I mention that I’ve given us only 20 extra minutes to get these errands done? So imagine taking 2 kids in and out of the car 8 times before even getting the 1.5 miles down the road to the house we are going to for playgroup. It just wasn’t fun for anyone and by the time we arrived, the kids are exhausted and I am ready to go home. But hey, I was able to cross off 4 big things on my to-do list. And getting this satisfaction was more important to me than not driving my kids crazy. No more! I recognized what I was doing and decided to stop it once and for all.

In theory, these two resolutions seemed reasonable and doable. While still in Orlando, I got a call from my husband who said he just found out that his job was ending on Jan. 15th. The entire team was getting laid off due to the client not being able to pay her bill to the company my husband worked at. Yikes!! I always told Jeff (husband) that if anything ever happened to his job, I would do whatever I could to get a job and contribute to the household. We never really saw eye to eye on me being a stay-at-home mom. Jeff was willing to let me stay home for the first 6 months with Ian and then return to a full-time career. I, however, couldn’t bring myself to let my baby be raised by strangers. We don’t have family nearby and it would’ve been so incredibly difficult for me to hand Ian over to someone I didn’t know. Between the commute to my office, rush hour traffic and the workday itself, I’d be gone from 7:15am to 7:00pm each day. I waited too long to have kids (I’m 37) and wouldn’t feel right with someone else seeing Ian grow and develop. I have the most wonderfully supportive husband and he was okay with me never going back. I am so fortunate that he was willing to do whatever it took to make it work for us financially. We’ve had to compromise and do without to make it work, but in my opinion it is more than worth it to be home with my two sweet rugrats. New cars, vacations, and dining out are the big things we’ve cut back on, but there are plenty of years ahead for that. Jeff has always had a lot of pressure being the sole breadwinner and that is why I threw him a bone and said if he ever lost his job, I would go get one.

It was now time for me to make good on my promise. Upon hearing the news of him being laid off, I instantly told him I would do what I could to help. However, it was important to me that I find employment that was part-time and would occur on nights and weekends, as it wouldn’t make sense to find a weekday job and then need daycare while Jeff was doing his job search and going on interviews. My paycheck would be going to just pay for childcare and that wouldn’t help things at all.

As soon as I landed back home, I started a job search on Craigslist under ‘part-time’ employment. I really lucked out and found two fabulous sounding jobs that offered the flexibility I needed. Of course I don’t do anything in a small way and went after both jobs, got them both and decided to work them both. So much for simplifying my life, right? That lasted what, one week?

The first job is with Aidell’s Sausage. On Saturdays and Sundays I go to local grocery stores and cook up their sausage and meatballs. I hand out samples and cross my fingers they like the product enough to buy some. Each store has a goal and if I can sell above and beyond the goal, I’ll make .75 per package. This is in addition to $14 an hour. Yowzer! I work 6 hour shifts. Set-up and clean-up is incredibly time-consuming and a pain in the butt, but it is well worth the money. And given my personality, I can sell, sell, sell this stuff! Here’s the big ironic twist. I am mostly a vegetarian (I’ll do chicken if it doesn’t look like chicken) and have never eaten Aidell’s sausage. Ever! But it doesn’t stop me from selling it!! For example, I’ll have a store goal of 36 and I’ll end my shift having sold 85! Or, when I worked at Costco one time, the goal was 140 packages, and I sold 285. Yahoo!!

The 2nd job is with Pros in the City. It is an event company that does speed dating, martini cruises, seminars, dances, etc. I attend these events and help run them. Check people in, do security, take pictures, help rotate the speed daters, set-up, etc. This job pays $10 an hour.

While neither job is going to cover the mortgage or even our grocery bill for that matter, it did show Jeff that I was helping out and contributing in some way. Both jobs send out an email once a month asking when I can work or what events I would like to sign up for. I have flexibility in that if I need a Saturday or Sunday off, or even the whole weekend off, I can take it. With the event job, I can work as many or as little of the events as I want; they mostly occur on nights and weekends.

Fortunately, it turns out that Jeff was only unemployed for two weeks before finding out he was offered a job. His new opportunity was going to be a great career move. Yay!!

Just as both jobs were getting started in full force, I came down with appendicitis at the end of January and needed to have unplanned, unexpected surgery the same day it was diagnosed. Oh my! I was in the hospital for one night and instead of getting rest and taking it easy, all I could think of was the condition the house was in before I left for the 24 hour emergency clinic. My in-laws dropped everything they were doing to come to our rescue and help with the kids.

Once I was back up to full speed I resumed the part-time jobs with all I’ve got. I also decided the best way to fit in the exercise I so desperately wanted (remember, resolution #2, put myself on my own to-do list) is to get to the gym before everyone wakes up, which means getting up at 5:00am and being at the gym by 5:15am. And then coming home by 6:15am and giving Bailey at least a 30 minute walk. It used to be just the two of us for so long and I feel like I need to pay him some attention and get him exercise on a daily basis. Oy! I’ve been doing that now Mon. thru Fri. for the past 4 weeks. It feels wonderful to know I’ve gotten my work out in and can start my day off on the right foot.

This is all leading to my overwhelmed, out-of-control feeling I’ve been experiencing. I feel like I am trying to achieve too much. Between trying to juggle the two part-time jobs, spend one-on-one time with my husband, giving the kids a good life during the week, keeping a close connection with my friends (the best group of girlfriends anyone could ask for), getting to the gym at 5:15am in the mornings, walking Bailey for 30 minutes a day when I get back from the gym, keeping the house clean, and trying to find time to spend as a family, something has got to give! I am not achieving a good balance and I feel like I am headed for burnout. It is seemingly impossible to be able to have it all and still keep sane. I feel like I am coming undone and losing any sense of enjoying life in the moment. I am constantly thinking of what needs to happen next, where I need to be next and what I need to do to prepare for next. It is driving me crazy. Not to mention I keep losing things. I’ve lost my engagement ring during some kind of cleaning frenzy. I lost my brand new cell phone that was only a month old and had all the bells and whistles anyone could want. For pete’s sake, I even lost my appendix! Thank God I haven’t lost the kids yet. Every time I turn around I feel like I’ve misplaced something else. This is so not like me. The old me (pre-kids) was so on top of everything. I never lost anything, never needed to write anything down and could remember lists in my head better than elephants. Now, if I don’t write it down, it doesn’t happen. I used to be organized. I used to be in control. I used to never leave dishes in the sink for longer than 5 minutes. Now I contemplate leaving the house with a dirty bowl and spoon in the sink. I still can’t bring myself to do it and will make us late getting to our destination putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. For that matter, I used to arrive early to wherever I was going. Now I am regularly 10 minutes late. It is horrible! Who knew there would need to be so much ‘loading the car’ time needed with 2 kids?

I sometimes think that mothers who have a full-time job in a regular office environment have it easier, much easier. They leave the house early in the morning, their kids are taken care of and everyone comes together at the end of the day for dinner. They get to go to the bathroom by themselves throughout the day, eat lunch with other grown-ups and not deal with whining or temper tantrums. These women get their weekends off from work to spend with the family or even split their time and see friends. And because they are making a nice salary, they can justify having a cleaning lady clean their house. Furthermore, there is no added stress to make sure kids activities are planned and executed on a daily basis. There is no worry that you are royally screwing up the kids being the main caregiver. And it is so easy to tell someone else that we don’t let little Joey watch tv. Ha ha ha! If anyone knew how much tv Ian watched in one single day, I would probably get reported to child protective services. Fortunately I will say, the constant tv watching has done nothing to hamper his creativity or speech. And every time I say its time to go, he is the first one to put on his socks and shoes to leave. I want to expose Ian and Sam to as much as possible and will plan everything under the sun, from a day at the zoo to all kinds of museums. If the weather is nice, you won’t find us indoors, but at one of the infinite parks and playgrounds Fairfax County has to offer. Ian has a ton of friends outside of school and we make sure to see them regularly. He doesn’t lack for socialization or the opportunity to play and run around. Since he was 6 weeks old, I’ve had him out and about doing stuff. We’ve had some good days, better days and days that we should’ve just stayed in. But for the most part, it has been wonderful getting out and about with Ian and now his sister Sam. I feel like I’ve been so blessed to be able to expose them to so much our wonderful city has to offer. There is no outing too scary or daunting for us to try. If it’s a failure, we can always get back in the car and never return.

I know the easy thing would be to quit the part-time jobs and simplify my life very easily in just two quick phone calls to the people I work for. However, the jobs turned out to have a lot of benefits I didn’t count on. The main thing, it is nice to get out without the kids and have something that is just for me. I get to do my own thing and create a little life for myself outside of the SAHM thing. No one knows I have kids or even cares. Conversation isn’t dominated by what they are doing or are into. And because I lost my engagement ring at the end of 2008 and Jeff made me take off my wedding band until I am done losing weight and get it resized, no one even knows I am married. It is wild to be doing these events and not have the mom identity hanging all over me.

The other added benefit is the money. I mentioned earlier that it isn’t covering any of our bills, but it is adding up nicely. In just 3 months, I’ve earned over $2,500. Wow. Who would’ve thought?!?! I’ve instantly come up with a list of things I would love this money to be used for. Living on one salary has been extremely tough and we aren’t really able to do any of the “it would be nice to be able to do this” type of things. For instance, a house at the beach for a week over the summer. I have dreams of being able to do with this family each year. We’ve never had the extra money available. Or, be able to do the landscaping we’d like to do in the front yard. And, this October, my sister is getting married and we will have a lot of wedding related costs we will need to take care of. This money is giving us the luxury of being able to do all this without all the added stress of figuring out where the money will come from or not doing it at all.

I feel like I am coming off as being unappreciative. I realize I got to enjoy doing pretty much whatever I wanted for close to 4 years. I didn’t bring in one dollar to the household and my wonderful husband stood by my side supporting this decision. While it was not the life he wanted for us, he understood my need to be home with the kids. He says I come out of retirement in 2015 when Samantha is in school full-time (1st grade). However, this is when the kids will need a parent the most and make sure they are staying out of trouble after school. I will get a more full-time job and be productive during the week, I am just going to work hard to find a situation that offers working school hours, and flexibility if one of the kids gets sick or the odd teacher work day occurs.

And now that I’ve gotten a taste of life outside of being a SAHM, I have to admit it is pretty sweet. I’ve always had full access to all the money Jeff was bringing in, but knowing I’ve got a small stash being squirreled away for what I see best to do with it, is awfully nice. As I’ve told Jeff, his money is our money and my money is my money. But every penny I earn will go to benefit the family – either funding my girls’ spa weekend we do annually (therefore contributing to my mental well-being!) or being applied directly to the family.

Another reason I have to feel fortunate is Jeff comes home at a reasonable time during the week and jumps right in with both feet taking care of the kids. He enthusiastically walks through the door by 6:15pm each night and takes care of whatever needs his attention the most; usually Ian. And, with me being gone most of the Saturdays and Sundays in any given month, he is planning outings and juggling two kids about town. He was always a super father, but now he is just as equal as me in caring for the kids for long stretches of time. I knew I loved him as a boyfriend, fiancĂ© and husband. But you never know what kind of father they are going to be until it is too late to do anything about it. I got seriously lucky and hit the daddy lottery. I couldn’t ask for a better man to be raising and taking care of these kids with me. He is truly my superstar and well worth the 32 year wait.

So maybe rather than feeling overwhelmed by it all, I am feeling more guilty than anything. I have a great situation and for the most part am living my dream life. But there are times when I feel like I am letting someone or a group of people down. I belong to a mommy bookclub that meets only once a month; the 2nd Monday of every month. No matter how tired I am, I can’t say no and not show-up. The women in this book club are fabulous and it is my one chance to have a very enjoyable evening discussing everything under the sun from our kids meltdowns to our endless search for the perfect pair of shoes. Oh yeah, and we do discuss the book for at least 15 minutes. I can relate to these women and they can relate to me. I leave their houses at the end of the evening feeling like I am not the worst mother in the world.

I do a Let’s Dish session once a month on a weekday evening. This is the type of place that lets you prepare 4, 8,or 12 meals (we take home 16 entrees that serve 3 each) in advance. This is the main method dinner is getting prepared at our house. It is nice to know that I can have dinner each night on the table usually within 30 minutes and with very minimal effort on my part. Plus, someone has done all the calculations on the Weight Watcher points and it makes sticking to the plan very easy. Got to love it when you can kill two birds with one stone like that!

Then there are these really fantastic group of girls I am extremely close to. I’ve known them going on 14 years and thank my lucky stars they’ve come into my life. It is so rare to have made friendships like these outside of school. But, I did. I met Kristin at my first job out of college and through her I met Heather. Through Heather I met Wendy. And through Wendy I met Jennifer. Jennifer introduced to us Dustee. And I can proudly say that I brought Ivy to the mix. She used to be my neighbor before I sold my condo to Jennifer. And did I mention that Dustee sold her condo to Wendy? Yes, we are that close and it is wonderful! We get together to celebrate each girl’s birthday and when we turned 30, the girls threw big surprises, or parties or weekends away for each of us. They are like a 2nd family and have no qualms about giving their honest opinion and laying it on the line. They were with me before I met my husband and he jokes that he knew he had to win them over to win me over too (along with the dog of course). I am constantly trying to stay in close touch with them and not let my mommyhood existence take over. This is a difficult balance and will try my best to always be available for whatever gathering is going on. One of the things that helps is touching base with all them periodically throughout the week. Each weekday morning Heather and I talk at 8:30am. Sometimes our calls will last for 5 minutes and other days before we know it, we’ve been on the phone for an hour. And, of course there are frequent calls throughout the remainder of the day to fill each other in on the latest. Heather has 3 girls close to the same ages as mine and most likely we are discussing the kids or something having to do with the kids 95% of the time. But, to me it is so cool to be able to know that Heather is dealing with the same day-to-day crap I am. And, Heather has come to my rescue more times than I can count. That goes pretty far with me. I can’t see not talking with her each morning just because my house is a zoo and I am ready to run away from the chaos. We have two volumes of noise at our house; loud and louder. Between Ian either whining because he woke up way too early and is not happy or refusing to eat breakfast and the 95 pound German Shepherd barking his head off at something he sees outside, it is enough to make you wish you were deaf. I am sure I don’t help the noise level by talking endlessly on the phone from 7:30am to 9:15am each morning (my mom, heather, wendy and ivy get top honors) or having a tv on in every room I walk in and out of. Then there is the baby who is finding her own way to contribute and make noise. It is nuts and not a calming way to start the day.

But my point is that this all helps me feel like I am losing it and one step away from a complete breakdown. Sometimes Jeff can hear it in my voice and does his best to be extra supportive. He suggests I go out and get some alone time either by myself or go to a movie with a friend, but this is the last thing I want. I don’t want to have to prepare for one more thing. I don’t want to have to think about what the kids will need while I am gone and then have to fill someone in on their schedule. Or, think about what I need to do in order to leave (take wallet and cell phone out of diaper bag, put on presentable clothes, make-up, comb hair, etc). It is exhausting and I’d rather stay at home and read my book. I don’t want to talk to anyone on the phone, I don’t want to carry a conversation with Jeff. I just want to be in a quiet room with my book. I want the kids asleep and no longer whining. Most importantly I want to turn my brain off and not think about tomorrow and all that will need to be taken care of. By the end of the day I am exhausted. And, this is if I don’t have plans in the evening to work the event job, go to bookclub, see the girls, get together with other friends, or do let’s dish. And, the most exhausting thing is it all begins again next morning at 5:00am.

Time being spent as a family has greatly suffered and I feel guilty about that. We used to spend the majority of our time together on the weekends doing everything from the mundane, like grocery shopping to fun adventures like picnics at Gravelly Point watching the planes takeoff and land. No more. Now we pretty much take care of the kids in shifts. I get them during the week and Jeff is Mr. Mom on the weekends. For the short term this is okay, but how much longer is this going to work? I will say that when I do have a Saturday or Sunday off, we definitely appreciate our time together more – unless of course I’ve asked for the day off to spend it with the girls.

I just feel like I am having a tough time pleasing everyone and meeting their expectations, mostly mine. I guess everyone would understand if I said I couldn’t make it and needed more down-time. But with who do I do that to? I so badly want to be a part of it all. It is a never-ending battle to find the delicate balance. And, I haven’t even touched on time just for myself. This is very rarely occurs. I actually look forward to being in the car driving places to meet up with people or go to my various jobs, because this is usually the only time I get to myself.
I am not sure what the answer is or how to solve my problem. But something has got to give and I need to figure it out before it starts to doing serious harm to my mental state.

Do others feel like this?