Wednesday, January 29, 2014

M is for...


Her very own purse!

For her birthday, Addy was gifted her very own little purse from her great Aunt Cathy. Inside the purse were two $1 bills. For a few days, Addy would carry the purse around the house, and it ended up finding a home on my purse hook in the kitchen. 

While she was playing with her purse one day, she dug out the dollar bills, crumpled them slightly, and threw them in the trash. Our household doesn't operate on cash - we use our debit cards for every purchase - so she had no idea that the dollar bills were of any significance! Enter her first lesson on money...

I took the bills out of the trash and explained what they were, what she could get with them, and how she could earn more. I told her to keep them in her purse, and the next time we made a trip to Target, she could spend her $2 on whatever she chose. She seemed to understand, but I was skeptical. She never brought it up again.

Roughly one week later, I announced we would be going to Target that afternoon, to which Addy immediately and enthusiastically replied, "Ah, I can take my money and see what I want to get!!!" 

I had so much fun watching her go up and down the aisles at the One Spot, picking up just about one of everything and examining it. She would make a choice, then keep looking and find something else she wanted more, so she'd put the first item back in its spot. She must've done that five times. She really wanted one of the $3 items, but I reminded her that she had only $2 to work with. She was disappointed but moved on quickly. In the end, she chose a bag of iced animal crackers and a little plastic blue truck. I had quite a laugh when, while holding the blue truck and a curling iron/brush set, she weighed her options and said, "This truck is very better!" At the checkout, she completed her very first purchase by handing the cashier her items, then throwing her dollar bills at her with a huge smile of satisfaction on her face.

We decided to keep the money lessons going by telling her she could earn one quarter for every new food she tries. As we prepared for our trip to Target today, she got her purse out to count her quarters. Together, we counted out four quarters for each dollar, and her total was $2.25. Her shopping time today went much like the first time, though she ultimately made her decision more quickly. She chose a pink squishy bear and a book of 300 stickers. 

She's about to cover her legs with stickers...

As we were driving home she said, "Oh no! I forgot to get the animal crackers!" So I told her she'd have to try more foods to earn more money and remember to get them next time. She was cool with that.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Totally Cute Tuesday

She's pretending to be Bob the Builder.

Season Greetings!

Hello from Addy, currently celebrating Cold & Flu season! 

This is what happens when a rambunctious three year old gets less than two hours of sleep at night because her nose is blocked solid. Asleep on the couch, during daylight, by herself. It lasted less than 20 minutes.

The night following this, her and I ended up sleeping together on the couch, with her body propped up against mine. And before dinner, she fell asleep on me for a few minutes while she was listening to music on her tablet. She fell asleep to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It might be a little bit selfish of me, but I love the cuddle time I get when Addy is sick. It makes the lack of sleep completely worth it.

Since being sick made Addy more calm than usual yesterday, I thought I'd take the opportunity to see if I could get her to focus on a sit-down activity:

I found this Leapfrog double-sided dry erase mat at the Target One Spot for, you guessed it, $1. What a great find! This was the very first time Addy has truly sat down and tried to trace letters with a writing utensil. She's done some tracing apps on the tablet, but that's the extent of it. I think she did pretty well for her first time! She really liked this mat, and was very excited to show it to daddy when she saw him next. The Target store in Fairlawn had a great selection of various Leapfrog learning tools like this, from flash cards to small workbooks, covering letters, numbers, math, shapes, and colors. I picked up everything pertaining to letters and numbers for Pre-K through 1st Grade. I plan on giving her the rest of them for Valentine's Day, though I may give her the numbers dry erase mat earlier. 

Being sick sucks, and being responsible for a sick child sucks sometimes too. At least this time around, I got some cherished cuddle time, and Addy got some valuable focused skill development time. 

Addy is sleeping right now, going on 11 hours with just one short awake session at 3am to blow her nose. Let's hope the much needed rest has her feeling better today! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Farewell, Home Depot

The second item on my list of huge changes I've made thus far in 2014 is the conclusion of  my being employed at The Home Depot.

I was hired at The Home Depot in August 0f 2001, as a cashier. During my 12+ years there, I worked in various positions including: cashier, head cashier, bookkeeping/computer room associate, district office assistant, scheduler, and RTV clerk. I have worked full time, part time, and most recently as a one-day-a-week cashier. It has, at differing times, been my bread and butter, my savings, my health insurance, and lastly, my safety net. Because of developments in my husband's career, I finally reached the point where I was comfortable with letting go of the safety net. Thus, with the full support of said husband, I turned in my two-week notice at the end of December. I worked my last shift on Sunday, January 12th.

Had it not been for my experiences at The Home Depot, I'm confident I would not be the person I am today. I worked with so many wonderful people that I truly see as my second family. They watched me, and helped me, grow up through my twenties. They supported me through hard times, comforted me through bad breakups, celebrated with me through every happy milestone, from graduating college to buying a house to getting married. They blew me away with their overwhelming generosity when they threw me a baby shower fit for a king. And they've supported me every step of the way on my journey through motherhood thus far. I am truly blessed to have been in the presence of such wonderful human beings for the past 12 years. And I've very lucky to have met two of my closest friends, Jennifer and Candy, while working there. Though I am sad to leave this family I've known, I am very excited to be devoting all my time and energy on being the best mother, wife, and household manager that I can be.

I definitely would not have been ready to let go of the safety net had it not been for my husband's level of support. We had talked a few times over the past year about me quitting, and he always told me to do what makes me happy. I hate that sentiment - it's so selfless for him to say it, and so selfish for me to act on it. So it was never enough to give me that push to go through with it. The turning point came on the evening of a family gathering; everyone in the family had plans to gather for a special breakfast the following morning, and I was expressing to Matt my disappointment that I wasn't able to attend because I was scheduled to work. His response was, "Why don't you just quit?" It was the first time HE initiated the discussion, so I took it more seriously. The next morning, I was leaning pretty heavily toward turning in my notice, but was still on the fence. My decision was finalized when I received the following text from him while at work:

It brought tears to my eyes when I read it. I have married such a considerate, selfless, understanding man, and I have no idea what I ever did to be deserving of him. They say that women often marry a man that reminds them of their father. It's true in many ways for me, and if it rings true for Addy, then she will find herself with a fabulous husband too. As of yet, I have no idea what my hobby is going to be! Crocheting? Crafting? Reading? Right now, I'm just enjoying having no weekend commitments!

After I announced to my Facebook friends that I would be deleting my account the following day, I remembered that I had planned on posting a status update announcing my departure from Home Depot and saying thank you to all my coworkers. So my final Facebook post ended up being just that - a farewell to Home Depot post.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Not your average party

What do you do when you have 52 plastic dinosaurs and your mother is tired of making up voices for all of them? You hold a dinosaur tea party of course!

She received dinosaurs for her birthday and for Christmas. They are the biggest hit on most days, and I'm not at all surprised. They play hide and seek, they destroy towns, they climb volcanos, and now they have tea parties. I love it. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Farewell, Facebook

As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently made the decision to remove myself from Facebook.
I won't deny that there are numerous benefits to this popular social media outlet. It's a wonderful tool to stay in touch with far away family and friends, it's the most convenient way to find information on local businesses (though that can be dangerous when a newsfeed contains the daily flavors at three local cupcake companies!), and it's a great source for breaking news. Despite these benefits, I had been feeling for a while that Facebook, for me, was becoming increasingly negative. After my usual morning scrolling one day last week, I reached the end of the updates and thought, I just don't feel the need to do this anymore. Nothing in particular triggered it, I guess I had just had enough. So I made what I thought would be my final Facebook post (I'll explain why it wasn't my last in my next blog post). My status update read as follows:
"First I deleted Candy Crush, followed by Instagram. Next up on the chopping block, scheduled for tomorrow morning: Facebook."
During my final day on Facebook, I was flooded with comments and private messages from people telling me I would be missed, that they'd miss seeing pictures and posts about Addy, and giving me their phone numbers so we could stay in touch. Of course, I've also been asked by numerous people WHY I would choose to quit Facebook. I think I've given a different answer to every person that has asked me, because there really are quite a few reasons, such as:

  • My newsfeed is cluttered with advertisements that I do not want
  • I don't care about the comments and likes the my friends leave on pages of people who are not my friends
  • I am not interested in knowing everyone's political views
  • I am not interested in reading bible verses or otherwise being inundated with religious propaganda
  • I want to puke every time I see a "1 Like = 1 Prayer"

and so on. But really, those are just a few annoyances, which I could probably look past, and change my block settings accordingly. My ultimate reason for leaving, however, goes much deeper and is much more personal.

If you follow this blog regularly, perhaps you've picked up on the fact that I don't find motherhood to be particularly easy and fun. Or maybe you haven't, I don't know. Maybe I've painted sunshine and roses and "I'm so perfect". I'm not really sure. At any rate, let me set the record straight. Motherhood is HARD. Being a parent is constantly challenging, rarely forgiving, always demanding, and I don't ever get to take a break. Sure, there are days that are completely sunshine and roses, days when I think I've really got my shit together. But seriously guys? Those days are few and far between. Most of the time I feel like I'm doggy-paddling in the pool, straining my neck to keep my head above water. More often than not, I'm questioning every single thing I do, wondering if I'm handling a situation right, if I'm teaching Addy enough, if the effort I'm putting in now will result in a good human being later down the road. This doesn't make me unique, it makes me like every other mother in the world. Do you know what that means? That means that every other mother I encounter could be an ally, someone who could tell me I'm doing a great job. Someone who could remind me on my darkest days that it's all worth it. And you would think that Facebook would be a great tool to bring together all these allies to find support and encouragement.

But do you know what I found on Facebook? In short, it has become the war of the mothers. Every day, my feed included multiple posts on parenting topics - articles, memes, status updates, new studies. Article titles like Killing off Supermom and Dangers of "Crying it Out" , or what may as well have been titled Shit You're Doing Wrong. And every day, I felt like my parenting style and my parenting choices were under attack by the very people that should be my allies.

I know what you're thinking. "But Stacy, those are just well-meaning mothers happy with their choices and opinions and wanting to spread their parenting ideals around to help other mothers." And yes, you are probably correct. I'm sure that no one was ever personally attacking me. But here's the deal: I struggle every single day to find the right balance of kindness, compassion, discipline, punishment, healthy eating habits, rewards, etcetera, etcetera. Being bombarded with 87 different viewpoints just made me second-guess my abilities as a mother. Constantly.

And the labels. Attachment parenting, helicopter parenting, natural parenting, organic parenting, Supermom. Why do we feel the need to slap labels on everything?!!? Doing so enables us to very quickly categorize a mother, compare her to ourselves, and immediately pass judgement on her entire set of capabilities. I'm guilty of that, and I don't want to be any longer.

As I type this post, as I think back on various articles and such, I can actually feel my blood pressure rise. I know I felt that on a daily basis while scrolling through Facebook. So, my friends, that is why I quit.

Going forward, this is my new test for judging a mother, as well as judging myself: Do you love your child? Does your child know they are loved by you? If you answered yes to both of those questions, then Congratulations, you're doing an excellent job!

For the record, I have been Facebook-Free for 9 days, and I have not missed it for a second. At this point, I have no intention of resurfacing anytime soon, if ever.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Taking control

I tend to shy away from New Years resolutions, because making them typically means I'm bound to fail. Almost as if, somewhere in the back of my mind I'm saying, if I don't succeed, there's always next year...

If I took the time to search through my blog posts, I know I'd find one where I laid out three or four resolutions for that year. Something to the effect of: become a better listener, lose weight, be a better friend. I don't remember them exactly, but I'm pretty sure I didn't meet any of my goals. 

But alas, here we are at the beginning of another year. Though I didn't start with intentions of forming any resolutions, I can tell you that something wonderful has sparked inside me and I have uncovered a resounding theme to year 2014. This is the year that I take control. This is the year that I create a healthier mind, body, attitude, and life. And this year is off to a smashing start.

As I said, something sparked inside me, and I'm pretty sure I know what started it. In mid-December, I began taking an antidepressant because I felt myself sliding into all too familiar territory, and I didn't want to be there again. By the year end, I felt less anxiety overall, but no significant change otherwise. And then something awesome happened - I noticed that my thought processes began to change. Every time I was faced with a choice, I found myself asking, which choice is the healthiest for my well-being? This way of thinking has led to a newfound focus on the negative triggers in my life and how to eliminate them. 

So far, I have made three huge changes to my daily life. HUGE. I quit Facebook, I quit the part-time retail job that I've held for over 12 years, and I eliminated gluten from my diet. I have more to say on all three topics, so I feel they deserve their own posts, to be written soon.

For the first time in, oh, EVER, I feel like I have a solid grasp on who I am, what I am doing here, and what I want out of this life. Cheers to a promising 2014, and hopefully many more...(I'm lifting my almost-empty wine glass).

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bath Time

Bath time for the toys, that is! 

I'm not generally interested in cleaning toys, disinfecting anything, or shielding my daughter from germs. I believe that our bodies need to come in contact with germs in order to become stronger, and I believe that the prevalent use of various disinfecting methods ( e.g. hand sanitizers and disposable wipes at public places) is contributing to an increase in sickness and disease.

That being said, these plastic grocery items have been played with for over two years, placed in countless mouths and covered in baby drool repeatedly. But the germs they likely carry weren't so much of a concern to me, rather, it was that they just felt icky and sticky. So I gave them a nice soak in the sink. 

And since Addy's grocery cart was empty while these were soaking, she spent a good 30 minutes taking her stuffed animals for rides around the house in the cart. Adorable.