Sunday, January 10, 2016

An Open Letter to the Cincinnati Bengals

As a lifelong Bengals fan, last night’s loss was hard to take - the hardest one yet. Even harder, however, is the conversation I had to have with my 8-year old son this morning.

Raising a kid these days is hard. Social media, school shootings, bombings. Every day there is a conversation about something scary, over which we have little or no control. These topics are not fun to discuss much less make sense of for young kids. Today our talk was hard as we tried to explain your choices during last night’s game, but different in that we do have some control. During our talk today our family decided to ‘fire’ the Cincinnati Bengals as our team.

As a member of a professional sports organization - owners, coaches, players, equipment managers - you have a responsibility. Of course, your primary responsibility is to win games – ahem.

But beyond winning, and perhaps more importantly (at least for a mother of three young children who want to be fans) is the responsibility to set a good example. To conduct yourself in a manner that your fans are proud of, one that we want to emulate.  Last night there were so many things that did exactly the opposite and the reason why I cannot let my children to root for you.

There are important life lessons that I want my children to learn by being a member and a fan of a team: Doing their best work each time. Working together for the success of the team. Displaying self-control. Being humble in victory and gracious in defeat. Respecting their opponents, coaches and the officials. Taking responsibility for your actions. Conducting themselves in a way that their team, their fans and their family would be proud of.

Players – your name is on the jersey not only on the field during play but also on my kid’s back because he wants to be like you. After last night I can no longer, in good conscience, allow my child to wear a Bengals jersey – certainly not with the names Burfict or Jones. Not after your display of selfishness, utter lack of self -control and disrespect of every player on the field, every fan in the stadium and all of us at home watching – hoping for a Bengals playoff win.

My kids will find a replacement team – it will be easy for them. For me, it is a bit harder. For 42 years I have worn orange and black, I have watched, cheered and championed your team– even before you were here. I will be sad. But I have to set a good example for my kids and help them grow up to be the things that you are not.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

For the Birds

As a SAHM, there are many things I think are ‘for the birds’ – like laundry, dishes, and cooking (clearly I didn’t read the job description before I accepted!). 

Interestingly, birds hold a very special place in my family’s heart. My late grandfather, in his retirement, built and tended to bluebird houses around a golf course and was an avid bird watcher. Many members of our family have bird figurines in our homes to help us remember him (he was so special to me that we named our first born after him). There is some irony in that our local high school mascot is the Bluebirds (aka ‘the birds’), which I find terribly humorous on several levels (is a bird an intimidating opponent?). So needless to say, we have a lot of birds in our home.

What will become more meaningful (and funny) after you finish reading this, is that hubby came home tonight and had dubbed L our ‘canary in a coal mine’ since she has been known to alert us of ‘danger’ in our home. I might have to increase our collection and buy a canary figurine for L’s room now.

Now the story I eluded to in my last post about our water problem (remember L was the one who woke us up saying she heard a loud sound….)

It was late summer (mid-late August). L had been sick for a few days, running a mild-grade fever but nothing really serious. Friday night she comes into our room around 2am and pokes me on the shoulder (why do they always come to me in the middle of the night and not hubby?). She says she saw a bird in her room. As any good mom would have done, I told her that she did NOT see a bird but that her fever must have broken. I walk her back into her room and ‘looked’ around to make sure there were no birds. Yup, no birds. Back to bed.

The next morning L comes into our room and taps me (not hubby) on the shoulder and says that she saw it again and knows that I am right. Her words exactly (I will never forget): ‘" saw it again mommy. You were right, it wasn’t a bird. It was Peter Pan’s shadow". YES! Peter Pan’s shadow. That’s it. Not a bird. So, on with our day…..

Saturday night, we had a block party and put the kids to bed a bit later than usual. I was in bed with L talking about our day (a nightly ritual we’ve followed since they were young in an effort to have them remember their childhood). Wanna guess what happens next? A BAT FLIES RIGHT OVER OUR HEADS! There is a ‘bird’ in L’s room!
The antics of the next 30 minutes are enough for another post, so I will spare you the details (although if filmed, we are convinced it would have had at least one million views on YouTube!). Needless to say, L was right. There was actually a bird in her room, although I still like to think it was Peter Pan’s shadow.  So, as referenced in my lessons in my last post, we will ALWAYS listen to L when she says something is amiss.

Lessons I (re)learned today:
·         I really hate really cold weather!
·         Perspective is important
·         Wine makes most things tolerable.

Ask and You Shall Receive

Mathew 7:7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Yesterday was a day where I should have been uber productive. Two kids back in school after an extended Christmas break (thanks to crazy below zero temps for two days) and a babysitter for most of the day (so I could get my hair done). Yet, outside of the haircut, not much producing happened. Instead, I partook in some retail therapy to help me feel better. I wasn’t sick, nor had anything traumatic occurred, something was just…… off.
I pondered my ‘problem’ for the evening (even while catching up on The Bachelor) and decided that I didn’t have Purpose in my life. I then thought about how I would find that. I thought about my volunteering and if I needed to do it more. I thought about my house and all of the projects I vowed to completed while being a SAHM (many of which have yet to be started). I thought about how I could be doing more with my kids. I thought that maybe going back to work would certainly give me something to do, but would it give me Purpose?
Ahhh, the complexity of grown up questions.
Who would have guessed that my 4 ½ year old would bring me the answer at 6:10am this morning? “Mommy, when I was walking in here I heard a loud noise downstairs.” I think I mentioned the crazy cold temps we’ve had? Anyone want to guess what happens when you have 2+ days of below 0 temp and forget to turn off the water to the hoses? Yup, broken pipes. Broken pipes = freezing cold water ALL over our basement. Bad news = we have water all over our basement. Good news = I now have Purpose!
All of a sudden I have a list a mile long. I guess I have some purpose for the next few days. Maybe I’ll figure out what I want to do when I grow up.
Lessons I learned today:
  • We should always listen to L when she says something is wrong (remind me to tell you the ‘bird’ story).
  • Things could always be worse. Looking on the bright side helps you get through the bad stuff.
  • I know better than to ask questions I don’t know the answers to!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Cabin Fever

Symptoms: excessive crying and whining elevated amounts of fighting, excessive messes around the house.
My kids have been off school since December 20 (Dec 16 for the smallest one) and we are ALL ready for them to go back! I have friends who keep telling me that when my children are older these long breaks will be so much fun. I really don’t like to wish away these precious years but BRING ON THE FUN!

I am tired. Tired of planning fun things to keep my kids out of trouble. Tired of yelling at them (yes, I yell at my kids). Tired of hearing them cry and whine. Tired of mediating sibling arguments. I am pretty sure that they are tired too. I realize that if I schedule every minute of their day that they will be too busy to get into trouble, but that is hard to do for 14+ straight days and quite honestly, I have stuff I need to get done.
One would think that the mountain of toys they opened from Christmas would keep them busy for a few days. Not so much. I will say the idle time has brought out their creativity. Microphone stands turn into swords. Blankets laid on the floor become the ocean. Chairs and pillows arranged for an obstacle course. Yes, all very cute and fun – for about 4 minutes. Then it’s back to yelling, fighting and inevitably someone comes to me crying (yes, the microphone stand/ sword resulted in one black eye on E).

My remedy – to call in my savior (who doubles as my sister) to watch the kids for a few hours so I can get my nails done (my toe nails were beginning to resemble claws they had been neglected for so long. And yes, I realize it’s 7 degrees outside and no one will be seeing my toes, but it makes me feel better okay?!). My other solution is to leave town.
While I would love to be hitting a white sandy beach right about now, that’s not in the budget. So, hubby and I are headed to Bloomington tomorrow to watch my Hoosiers try and bring home a big win against the Spartans (fingers and newly painted toes crossed).  We won’t be gone for much more than 24 hours, but by the time we get home on Sunday it will be time to get ready to GO BACK TO SCHOOL. So while I will miss my little angels a whole bunch, it is best that I get out of town for a bit so we can all remain friends.

Lessons I learned today:
  • Three hours of ‘me time’ is just what the doctor ordered to cure an acute case of Cabin Fever.
  • You don’t need to spend a ton of money on toys for kids; they will find entertainment all on their own (need to remember this before Christmas shopping next year!)
  • One of my friends has an adult daughter who has been missing for as long as my kids have been off school. I will gladly take my Cabin Fever over what he and his family are going through right now. My thoughts and prayers are with them during this terrible time and my fingers (and newly painted toes) are crossed they find her safe and ready to come home.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Can you guess what one of my resolutions for 2014 is? You guessed it, going to try and get this blog thing going again (fingers crossed).

My resolutions for 2013 all revolved around the potty – for E to be potty trained (fail!) and L to wipe herself all the time (fail!). I think I’ll put that back on the list for this year too. I am also resolving to go to church more. Because we all know how much I like lists, my resolutions for 2014 are:
1.       Document – be better at posting blogs, taking pictures and storing/ organizing pictures.
2.       Go to church
3.       Potty training (again)

Last night when I was putting J & L to bed, I explained what a resolution was and what they would like to ‘work on’ this year.  L said she would like to learn on working her whistle. I’m not sure if she meant she wants to learn to whistle or if there is a particular whistle she would like to learn how to ‘work’. J wants to get stronger this year.  Both good and doable (the most important part!).
The New Year always gets me in the mood to organize, decorate and plan. I bring out the calendar to plan trips and other fun things, make sure laundry is caught up (at least for the day) and clean out closets and drawers.

You might remember the pantry project that I talked about a few years ago. We have a huge pantry off our kitchen. On one side is all of the kitchen ‘stuff’ that you don’t need daily access to (stand mixer, waffle maker, ice cream maker, extra inventory of frequently used items). The other side is my arch nemesis – the arts and craft storage. Last year (probably around Jan 1), I vowed to organize this blessed space so off I went to Target. Fourteen milk crates later everything had its place! Fast forward 12 months and nothing was in its intended spot – argh!
So, as has become my annual New Year’s Day tradition – I embarked on organizing the pantry…. Again! I determined that the reason for the disarray was because I let the little people into the pantry to get coloring supplies. Of course, a 2, 4, and 6 year old are not going to ignore the other fun stuff and so nothing was in its place and no one could find anything. New rule = no little people in the pantry! I put a small shelf out in the ‘art’ area with all the basics, plus some extra fun stuff and little cups of crayons and colors pencils on the easel for easy access. Such a good idea, right?

WRONG! Just one day later and there are little pieces of paper all over my house and the little stamps that the girls got in their stockings are turning up in all kinds of WHITE places. I’m not sure what my new plan will be (I’ve threatened to throw away anything that isn’t in its correct spot – something I have done before (or make the offender drop it off at Goodwill) ). I think I’m just going to give it a few more days and see if they start to lose interest, or at least, start to put things away.  I think I need to add another resolution to my list: find a good solution for organizing the pantry so I don’t have to do it every Jan 1.
While I’m not really a huge proponent of New Year’s resolutions, I do like to pick a few things that I can accomplish and that are family focused. My sister recently led a fitness challenge through Facebook that I joined with our other sister. Each day there was a mini challenge – many were fitness related, but some were not. One mini challenge was to pick 10 things that I wanted to accomplish in the next 12 months. I thought very hard about what I wanted to put on that list and was surprised when it was completed there was only one fitness related item. Here is my list from the fitness challenge on 10/20/13 (because I want to hold myself accountable for focusing on these in addition to my resolutions):

1. Use Kindness as my daily guide
2. Take a trip to reconnect with my sisters
3. Focus on my relationship with my husband - two date nights a month, one that provides opportunity for us to communicate.
4. Build stronger individual relationships with my kids. Do one fun thing with each kid a month (one-on-one)....
5. Be a proactive participant in my friendships
6. Foster a service-oriented philosophy with my family by doing one service project a quarter as a family.
7. Start going to church as a family
8. Reduce inches of my waist/ tummy
9. Plan for professional next step
10. Live my life without judgment of myself or others.
You see that church made both lists. It wasn’t intentional, it’s just something that I’ve been feeling guilty about lately (I might not go to church all the time, but I have the guild part down pat!). Plus, J will be in the first grade next year and will start prep (aka CCD) classes and I don’t want him ratting us out! We started this resolution a bit early. Christmas Eve Mass and then again on the 28th while spending the weekend with hubby’s family. My excuse for not going has been because my kids are so bad I spend the entire hour ‘managing’ my children and don’t get any spiritual reward. As is most often the case, my kids are here to prove me wrong. They were awesome both times in the last week. No more excuses, look out God (and fellow parishioners) here we come!!!

Lessons I learned today:
1.       Have a productive day always makes me feel good.
2.       As hard as I try, my kids will likely prove me wrong.
3.       Staying at home on New Year’s Eve is an even better idea the next day (no hangover!)


Monday, July 9, 2012

Pity Party

I have to admit that I have been feeling sorry for myself a little bit the past few weeks. Hubby has been travelling and my fuse has been shorter than usual when the kids aren’t being absolutely perfect. I wanted whoever would listen to console me and join my pity party.

After three short trips during the week for work-related meetings, hubby left for a long weekend to golf with his high school buddies. In his defense, this is the ONLY golf trip he takes all year and has been doing it every year since he graduated from college. I earned some major points with said-buddies when hubby kept his perfect attendance after L was born - just 2 weeks old (and J was 21 months) – I know, what was I thinking??

So hubby left before dinner on Thursday and I took the kids up to one of my brother’s baseball games. For some reason, I was particularly agitated this day and found raising my three angels a bit challenging. So, sitting at the game with the other baseball moms I needed to share how hard my life was. I think my exact words were something like, ‘I’m not cut out for this single mom stuff’. Now, it’s important to remember that hubby had left a whole four hours earlier and my children were really being terrible (sitting quietly in their car seats during the 40 minute drive, playing nicely with each other at the ball park --- you get the picture).

After my admission of despair, one of the moms told me how she could relate. Her husband was in the military for 12 years and being a single mom is hard work. Awesome. Now I feel like the biggest loser in the world. What right do I have to complain about being able to do fun things with my, generally, very well-behaved children?  Zero. How can I feel sorry for myself when my husband takes one weekend a year to play golf with his buddies and is almost certainly coming home on Sunday?  I can’t!

I was sharing this encounter with my sister who is expecting her fourth kid and has been having pretty bad morning sickness all day long. She had a similar experience that put her in her place. She was upset that her three perfectly healthy children wanted her to cook meals but the smells of food made her feel nauseous. She received a call from our mother who shared that one of her childhood friends, who is a mother of a young child, is fighting cancer and it’s not looking so good. Okay, so morning sickness really isn’t a big deal!

Sometimes you get messages in unexpected ways. My message this weekend happened to come from someone I had never met before and will never see again, but was clear. I need to put on my big girl panties and be grateful for all of the blessings in my life. Even when I think it’s hard, it will never be as hard as others have it.

Lessons I learned today:

·         Planning activities while hubby is away is the best way to keep everyone sane and happy
      ·         J’s first appearance as a batboy was a success and he loved it!
·         Someone else always has it harder than you (I officially sound like my mother!)

Friday, June 22, 2012


Last night I had dinner with my ‘foodie’ girls at our local culinary institute. As usual, we enjoyed some yummy eats and great conversation. Two of us SAHMs were talking about how to get it all done. I’ve made no secrets about the fact that I outsource many parts of my job. I would love to sit here and say that I am superwoman and can do everything all by myself. The fact is,sadly, I am not super-woman (or any other super hero for that matter), and I can only do so much and remain a pleasant, caring person.

As I’ve said before, I am an ultra-competitive person. So, when I started my SAHM adventure, I wanted to do it all, all by myself. It was about 2 months in to it that I realized I couldn’t do it all – keep my house up to the cleanliness standard I am used to, keep up with the ‘Jones’’ yard/ flowers next door, entertain my children, exercise, cook a healthy, balanced meal for every lunch & dinner and have something left for my husband at the end of the day. I realized that by trying to be all things to all people, I was unhappy, ungrateful and unloving – not a good combination for a mother of three and wife!

At first, I outsourced in the old-fashion way – paying someone to do it for me but I realized that it doesn’t have to be a fee-for-service arrangement. My sister in Phoenix told me about this awesome arrangement she has with other women in her church group where you earn tokens/ credit for watching other children that you can use later to drop off your kids. My cousin here in town has bailed me out on several occasions when I needed a last minute sitter. She would never take compensation for her time so I offered to return the favor. We now have an arrangement where I watch her two kids one morning so she can go to Yoga and she watches mine so I can play tennis.

I’ve also talked with two different neighbor friends about a meal exchange one night a week. One night a week I will make dinner for my family + 2 others. Then I get their meals two other nights a week (and I don’t have to cook- awesome!). We haven’t started this yet, but I suspect that once we do we will wonder how we ever lived without it!

Not really outsourcing, but another strategy I’m working on to help reduce my out-of-pocket expense, is to exchange my talents for other services. For example – I am taking tennis lessons and have J signed up for a 4-lesson session in July at the same place. My instructore (who is also the director of the tennis center) mentioned that enrollment for youth programs has been low so he’s thinking about cutting the number of days. I told him I would use my best social-networking/ marketing expertise to get more folks to sign up. I’m thinking (hoping) that we are able to lots of kids to sign up and J will get a reduced enrollment fee.

So, while I still do pay for some things, I am trying to find more creative ways to become a fulfilled,  happy SAHM.

Lessons I learned today:
·      Outsourcing dinner at a nice restaurant with good friends is TOTALLY worth it!
·      Working on helping to plan my sister’s wedding in CA, I’ve realized that while some things can/ should be outsourced, there are some that are more fun to do yourself.
·      There are no right/ wrong answers for how to be a SAHM. If I feel good about the ‘job’ I have done 4 or 5 days a week, I am good with that!