in june 2010, our lives got turned upside down in the best possible way: the birth of our awesome kiddo, john. in october 2013, brother charlie charged into our life to change the status quo again. and june 2016 brought us brother ben to round out our trio.

i'm proud to have "mom" at the top of the list of titles on my resume, but i'm also still a hard-working professional. how does a working mom juggle work and family? ride along with me and see if i can figure it out!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

what you need

i'm not sure when this pic was taken,
but john's facial expression so eloquently
sums up how i was feeling this morning!
this morning was not the best morning ever. there's nothing really wrong, actually, it was just one of those mornings when i couldn't quite seem to get myself together and going. i did get up and get john to school and me to the gym before work, so that's good, but it's been over a week since i last did my workout routine so it HURT. it was HARD. yuk. (and i know, it's supposed to be hard or it's not working, but today it was emotionally hard, ok?)

and then i showered and got ready for work, and my clothes felt really frumpy and not nice. (and i know, it's because i've lost enough inches/pounds that they don't fit right, so that's a GOOD thing, but it's never a good thing to feel frumpy and unattractive for any reason. even if it's because you're on the path to health and sexiness.)

and then ... god, or the universe, or fate, or coincidence, or whatever you feel apt to call it, put someone on my path that gave me exactly what i needed.

there's a sweet, beautiful woman who works at my gym. she has the un-envyable job of cleaning up the locker room and bathroom after the morning rush. don't get me wrong, we aren't pigs, but enough gals running around getting ready for work etc mean felicia has her work cut out for her.

felicia is always so nice to me - she told me once she calls me "fancy feet" in her mind because of the shoes i wear. she works hard and goes about her business but always has a smile for you.

and today, while i was standing in the mirror thinking "woe is me, i'm frumptastic," felicia happened by and said, "you look beautiful today." (cue: john's mom falling to the floor.) i smiled at her, and told her honestly, "you have no idea how much i needed that just now. thank you so much!" she smiled and walked away.

but about a minute later, she walked timidly back to me, and she said: "i don't mean to get in your business, so forgive me. but i just wanted to tell you, i pray for you that your relationship with god is strong. something has been telling me for two days now that i needed to share that with you, and i am not sure why, but i wanted to tell you i'm praying for you."

and she didn't say it in a preachy way, so even if i was for some reason opposed to the idea of me having a strong relationship with god, i don't think it would have been offensive. instead, i felt ... oddly protected. and loved. by this relative stranger who i know nothing about, who likes my shoes.

so i'll say this about god: he sure does have a way of giving you just what you need.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

affirmation

you know you are a working mom when:

on your way out the door, your husband stops you and says, "you know your sweater is inside out," and you have to answer, honestly, "no, i didn't know. thanks."

happy tuesday!

Monday, February 27, 2012

walking

"don't worry, mommy, as long as you
keep moving i won't use this stick."

the weekend started a little early at our house - unfortunately john's antibiotics kicked his little intestines into gear and the daycare couldn't keep up (can't blame them) so they sent him home thursday afternoon and said "don't come back 'til monday!"

so friday morning i did some work from home, then it was time to play. and one of the first things john and i did was take his first-ever walk. of course, he's been pushed in a stroller for walks before, but this time it was just john and me, hand-in-hand, walking through our neighborhood.

some highlights:
  • seeing the ups man delivering a package ("truck! mommy! big truck!")
  • seeing the mailman delivering the mail
  • finding a big stick to carry ("stick! mommy! stick!")
  • hearing an airplaine ("airplane?") then seeing it and discovering it was actually a helicopter (i cannot possibly transcribe john's pronunciation of helicopter but trust me when i say it's one of the most adorable things you'll ever hear.)
  • waving to all of the neighbors who drove by (complete with a "hi! hi. HI!")
  • looking at one neighbor's tree swing ("wheeee!")
  • seeing a cat, then acting like cats and meowing our way back to the house
it was so much fun, we decided to do it again with daddy on saturday. and thankfully, daddy brought his camera. so there you have it - the story of a weekend walk.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

momentum/inertia

in constant motion
momentum: the impetus of a body as a result of its motion

i have been contemplating momentum the past few days - what it is, the role it plays in my life, how to get it, how i lose it.

three things i am not naturally very good at (among many others):
1. keeping a clean house
2. eating healthily
3. exercising frequently

periodically, i get "on a roll" in one or several of these areas. while i am "on a roll," my dishes are done. my laundry is not just washed and folded, it's also put away. my floors are clean. my counters are clear. my shoes are in their places in my closet. my bed is made. i feel accomplished.

or, i make good food choices. i politely decline the treats offered to me. i appreciatively TASTE the treats when someone is particularly determined in their generosity. i stick to my meal plans. i drink lots of water. i actually stop wanting processed, un-good-for-me crap. i feel clean.

or, i am up every morning for the gym, like it or not. i take walks with my dog and my child and my husband. i focus on my breathing and my posture even when i'm not working out. i feel strong.

on the rare occasion that momentum carries me in all three areas at once,  i am a superwoman. i am so proud and so at ease and so content.

but superwoman has a kryptonite. all it takes is one busy weekend to pull the brakes on all the accumulated momentum. the laundry and the dishes pile up and the floor goes unmopped ... i say "yes" to that piece of king cake or birthday cake or pizza or whatever, and i don't say "no" the next time, either ... i hit snooze one too many times and say, "tomorrow."

the polar oposite of momentum: BOOM. inertia.

i know the only way back to momentum is one little step at a time. ofifoto* and all that jazz. so, here's to today: the beginning of momentum again. this last bout of inertia wasn't as long as some - perhaps a week of bad behavior? - so surely it shouldn't take too long to get back in the groove.

i felt like hitting snooze ... but i didn't.
i forgot my breakfast but made a healthy substitute choice.
i will put away the laundry this evening.

THAT, friends, is a very small but very powerful step toward momentum.

* One Foot In Front Of The Other = ofifoto

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

mardi gras mambo


little zebra enjoying mardi gras with grandpa
happy mardi gras!

this post started out as a blow-by-blow of the past weekend's mardi gras celebrations, but it started to sound like an essay titled "my summer vacation" that the teacher wouldn't even really want to read! ("and then we went to the grand canyon, and then we went to the water park, and then we ate a watermelon!")

so instead, some highlights:
  • beautiful weather for the southdowns parade saturday night, where john figured out that if waved to the folks on the floats, he got pretty much everything he wanted
  • horrible weather for the spanish town parade (that we ride in) on saturday - the parade was delayed several hours to avoid the worst of the storm. we finally rolled at 4pm and despite being rained on most of the way, krewe of the crooked crown had a fine time! (thanks to auntie p and uncle j for keeping the little bug while john's dad and mom rode in the parade!)
  • if you didn't know, the spanish town parade is a bit risque. here's john's mom in her naughty nurse costume:
  • mama's still got it!
  • oversleeping for the neighborhood parades we normally go to in new orleans on sunday - just barely made it there for john to enjoy an hour and a half of parades with his grandpa (my dad), but they made the most of it! john now knows to say "up" when he sees a float so he can go on your shoulders and beg for the best stuffed animals.

we're a tired little family, but it was a grand time ... and now here it is mardi gras day. most of baton rouge is not at work today. most of the kids are not at school. it's certainly another planet here in south louisiana, but we wouldn't change a thing.

Friday, February 17, 2012

all of them

what? i like animals.
it is mind-boggling to see the different physical and character traits in john that i can attribute pretty directly to either my husband or myself. we were both tow-headed blonds at john's age. john's the spitting image of his daddy at that age, too. and there's no denying those blue eyes match mine.

he's as determined and one-track-mind as his daddy is. he has his daddy's inability to focus on more than one thing at once, but he's also got his daddy's ability to do REALLY well at that thing he's focusing on. he's got his daddy's short fuse, too, but like daddy has, he'll learn to control it.

he's got my stupid sense of humor. he has my goofiness and, it seems, the music that is so deeply ingrained in me is ingrained in him as well. he is stubborn - and like his mommy, he'll have to learn to use that for the power of good instead of evil.

but the funniest thing he has in common with mom is her childhood fixation on stuffed animals. when i was young, i slept with about 50 stuffed animals in my bed - no exaggeration. and i couldn't sleep until they were each in their own particular place. i'd spend ten minutes before bed meticulously arranging my stuffed animal family.

and this morning, no number of stuffed critters could satisfy john's craving. when i put him on his changing table, he wanted the zebra off the shelf above. so i grabbed the zebra and handed it to him. he hugged it close, then reached for the pig. i gave him the pig. he hugged pig and zebra and reached for the hippo. so one by one by one, i pulled each animal down and he hugged them all and added them to the pile. and he snuggled down into the pile and giggle with glee.

that's my child!

p.s. what's black and white and red all over?

this guy!
and his christmas penguin and zebra.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

divided attention

we had a scare this morning. or more accurately, i guess i had a scare.

i was in my bathroom, fixing my hair and doing my makeup, etc. john is old enough now that he can play in the living room or his room while i get ready; he doesn't have to be right by my side. when he's in the living room, i can hear him since it's right around the corner. when he's in his bedroom, i can hear him through the wall of the bathroom, which is also the wall of his room.

about halfway through my makeup, i realized i didn't hear anything. nothing. silence. it's *never* silent in our house.

so i called out to him. "john?" walked into the living room - nothing. "john?" walked into the kitchen - nothing. "baby? john?" walked into his bedroom - nothing. i've checked almost all of the house now. he's nowhere. he can't have gotten out. what if he's hurt? what if he knocked himself out somehow? what if - oh, the terrible what-ifs of a mom's mind.

finally i went back into his room and noticed his closet door was cracked an inch or two. i pull it open, almost scared of what i'll see. "john?" and there he is, just fine. fascinated by the little mirror on an old baby toy of his, turning it this way and that, so involved he didn't even realize i was frantically calling for him.

and it got me thinking ... john is with me every morning. we get ready together, we ride to school/work together. but in those busy mornings, how much of my attention does he really get? almost none. i'm eating/feeding him/feeding the dog/showering/getting dressed/doing hair and makeup/getting him dressed/putting the dog in the kennel/out the door and gone.

so i have a question for you other parents. how do you handle this divided attention? is it just a fact of being a parent? do i just accept that mornings are for getting ready, not for seeing each other? and what if he HAD gotten out of the house, how long would it have taken me to notice he was gone? how do you balance the necessities of leaving the house with taking care of your most important little priority(ies)?

i'd love to know what other parents think, 'cause this morning made me feel pretty terrible.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

mad skills

look ma, no hands! (oh wait, i've got two.)
this morning john didn't want to get up again. i don't blame him - i rarely want to get up, even for really fun things.

so i snuggled him, put him on my lap and hugged him tight, and he cuddled up on my chest. after a few minutes, he sat up, rubbed his eyes and looked at me. from the expression on his face, it was clear he was *very* cross with mama.

"woke me up," he said, accusingly. (and clear as can be, too.)

"yes, baby, i did," i answered.

then he jumped down and tried to climb his changing table. i boosted him up, he grabbed the shirt i layed out for him and he started to try to put it on.

just a little extra help from mama - he'll be dressing himself in no time. kid's got mad skills.

ps. my favorite morning game is when he puts his hand through his sleeve. while his hand is hidden from view, he says dramatically, "oh no!" i then uncover his hand and we say, relievedly, "oh, there it is!" probably every mother since the invention of clothing has played this game. but that doesn't make it any less fun.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

on friendship.

so most blogs today will probably focus on love and romance, it being valentine's day and all. and before i get very far, i must say that i am a woman blessed in love: between my husband and my sweet baby boy, what more valentine could a woman need, truly?

but that blessing is not what i want to discuss today. what moves me today is this: friends.

i am inspired by the conversation i had this morning with a lifelong friend (we'll call her s for the sake of her privacy). we have known each other since i was 10 and she was 11. she isn't having the greatest of times right now. but she is still such a bright spot - such an uplifting spirit who asks difficult questions of herself and me, and we dance around looking for answers together. and when we finished that conversation i was left thinking: how amazing that this woman has been in my life so long, known me through so many phases and accomplishments and mistakes, and loves me none-the-less. how lucky i am.

i began a list of so many of the friends i couldn't do without, and i realized two things:
1) it was sounding like a bad oscar speech and i could just about hear the music starting to play so y'all could get me off stage and
2) i was bound to accidentally leave someone off.

so if you're reading this, the chances are you're on that list anyway. this open letter is for you:

dear friend~
thank you for everything.
i love you.
love~
john's mom

happy silly-made-up-holiday-for-commercial-romance-that-still-makes-me-think-about-love day to all of you. xoxo

Monday, February 13, 2012

no, monster, no!

i wish photos had audio so you could hear
his giggles and cries of "no, mawh', no!"
john and i have a silly game we play. (just one, you say? hush now, mom is a fan of silly games.) it's called "no, monster, no!" and it involves john jumping up and down on my lap while i bounce him as high as i can reach and we yell "no, monster, no!" at the same time. it's way more fun than it sounds.

and an even more fun offshoot of the game is john running around the house yelling "no, mawh', no!" which clearly translates from john-ese to "no, monster, no!"

this morning's first version of n.m.n. involved beating quietly on the stepladder in daddy's closet while reciting our favorite chant. hey, whatever keeps him occupied as we get ready for work, i suppose.

and the second version might have been even better:
i don't know how effective the sweeping efforts are,
but gq baby called to use these photos for a spread.
in case you can't tell from those photos, that's my son in khaki pants, khaki colored boat shoes, a grey sweatshirt and blue fleece vest, 'sweeping' the kitchen floor. (and maybe chasing the dog just a little bit.) my little preppy worker boy.

and if the monster is going to sweep, mommy might change the name of the game: "yes, monster, yes!"

Saturday, February 11, 2012

productivity

i remember many times in my life when i wouldn't even be awake yet on a saturday morning.

my how things change.

630 this morning, we heard john talking to himself in his bed. the talking bloomed into crying, so daddy went to check on him to let mommy sleep a little more. (best. husband. ever.)

but no such luck - mommy was awake. so she blearily stumbled into john room where she finds this:
the aftermath of hurricane john
john was thrilled to be busily playing with daddy:
 rarely do hurricanes return to the
scene of the crime ... but john is an exception
mommy was less thrilled to be awake:
yaaaaay.
but ultimately here it is 1030 am and the dishes are done, we're on laundry load number three, daddy's already been to the gym, we have all eaten breakfast, we found john's costume for the mardi gras parade this afternoon, we're working on the meal plan/grocery list for next week and john's down for a nap.

all before we ever would have woken up not so many years ago. not bad for a morning's work - i guess there are some benefits to our little human alarm clock waking up so early!

Friday, February 10, 2012

(un)balanced.

the funny thing about balance is that it does not look like what you would expect.

here is my mental picture of balance: a beautiful, lithe girl, on tiptoes on a balance beam, perfectly poised as she is about to spring into her next leap or tumble or flip or pirouette. she is grace personified. she knows exactly where she is and where she's going.

for me, balance is so fluid. some days i feel i've got it. those days i'm superwoman: awesome wife, excellent mother, great marketer, decent housekeeper, generous giver, hard exerciser, active participant. other days ... i think i hit mediocre at best in each of those categories.

here is what balance winds up being like in my real life: a scrambling, well-padded woman, wearing workout shoes for support but a sport coat in case the media shows up, juggling knives while keeping her active child from grabbing them. she is quick-reflexes personified. she doesn't know what she's standing on or where her next step will take her, but damned if she's going to fall. she doesn't have time.

this is not my most "balanced" week, i don't think. my house is a disaster, i've hardly spent any time with my husband, and i feel like my time with john has largely been of the eat-bath-bed variety. i don't like that unbalanced feeling ... it feels like failure to me. i am not so fond of failure.

yet just in time comes the weekend, which will be very full but will allow me to center and breathe and get my feet planted under me again. maybe there's something to this whole weekend thing.

i will probably spend the rest of my life unsuccessfully striving to be that brilliant gymnast executing her flawless routine. but you know that knife-juggling woman with reflexes of steel? i'm ok if balance sometimes looks like her, too.

she's pretty badass.

question for you, dear reader: how do you feel about balance in your life. got any tricks of the trade this busy mama should learn? or any great stories of falls off of the balance beam that will make me laugh/cry/not feel so bad? do share!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

he earned it.

morning mugs.
john didn't want to be put down this morning. he didn't want mom to go to the gym, didn't want to go to daycare, didn't want juice, didn't want the dog, didn't want an airplane puzzle, didn't want cheese, didn't want a banana. his answer to everything was no with tears in his eyes.

days like today i struggle so much with being a "working mom." surely, i could just blow off the gym, blow off work, and hold my little bug in my arms until he finally smiled? surely, SURELY, that's the right thing to do for my child?

but no. i want to be a healthy mom, i want to be a fiscally responsible and fiscally sound mom, and i want to teach my child that even on the rough days, we put on our shoes and push through. take an extra moment for a snuggle or a hug, sure, an extra kiss, an extra squeeze, but we can't stay home, my love, we have to go.

so ... off to work out and then to work i went. at least they had choo-choos on the tv when we got to school - choo-choos seemed to distract john a little bit and even made him smile as i slunk out the door.

and i guess when you really consider it, not EVERY morning can be the best morning ever. and it is wednesday. and i will see my bug in another two hours and we'll make the most of a family evening. i guess the little guy earned a grumpy morning or two ...

but it sure does make a momma sad.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

best. morning. ever.

no picture today - only because what i am about to tell you cannot be captured on "film."

i got up for the gym again this morning (i made a commitment to myself that i will do that every day this week). once i'd packed everything up in the car, the only thing left to do was dress the kiddo and get him in the car too.

i walked into john's room, singing his wake up song, and stroked his back so he wouldn't be jarred awake. i picked him up and he snuggled up close to me. i laid him down on his changing table, and he stretched out on his stomach as if he was in his bed. i laid my cheek on the table next to him and stroked his back.

john put his arm around my neck to hold me close - i could smell him, warm and sleepy and snuggly. he held on to me and muttered, "love you love you." and he kissed me smack on the lips. then he repeateded it four or five times. "love you love you." kiss. "love you love you." kiss. "love you love you." kiss.

i honestly don't think it could get any better than that to start my morning. it's the first time he ever said "i love you" without being prompted. and he said it over and over again and accompanied it with sweet snuggly warm sleepy kisses. i'm the happiest mom ever.

Monday, February 6, 2012

duck feet

we don't need no stinkin' clothes.

so here's the thing: in some ways, i'm a pretty darn indulgent mother. my child rarely wears clothes on the weekend (unless we're going somewhere) and i let him climb things no child should probably climb (though we draw the line and jumping on the couch). drumsticks are only for drums, but if you want to use elmo straws as drumsticks on the floor, toybox, stuffed animal, or real dog, go ahead (as long as the dog doesn't mind).

so on saturday when john decided he *had* to wear his size 6.5 sandals (when he currently only wears a size 4 shoe) i said, what the hey. and he duck-walked around the house all afternoon. in just a diaper. does it get any cuter than that? no, i don't think it does.

and when he wanted to wear his duck shoes to wal-mart, i insisted on clothing him first, but we duck-walked around wal-mart too.

all ducks aside, we had an awesome weekend. hung out around the house doing housework and taxes on saturday, burritos for dinner, mommy and daddy date time to watch a movie saturday night, then church and naps and super bowl on sunday. (though i don't think i watched a single play or a single commercial of the super bowl - instead i played with all the kiddos at the party. which was fine with me!)

and you'll be pleased to know john is wearing properly fitting shoes AND clothing to school today. THAT is a monday victory.

Friday, February 3, 2012

little monkey likes bananas

john is actually making the monkey noise
for me while we eat a banana. cliche? maybe.
but freaking adorable.
the greatest thing is happening: john is learning his animal noises. they may require a tiny bit of translating but they're adorable. here is the translation key:

- doggies say"fuff! fuff!" (ruff, ruff)
- cows say "mooooooooo" (that one's pretty straightforward)
- ducks say "rack rack!" (quack, quack)
- monkeys say "ah ah ah ah ah" (just say it out loud - he's spot on)
- but my personal favorite: tigers say "wahhhr" (roar) with a vicious little face

this morning john did not want to get up (i don't blame him) and the only thing that made it ok was his stuffed tiger going "wahhhr" and jumping around the room. followed by fits of giggles. and then another banana.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

rhapsody on mornings


the sleeping positions of a reluctant waker
it's probably a pretty universal thing for households with children that mornings are a little chaotic. there are two types of mornings at our house: mornings that mommy's going to the gym, and morning's when we just have to be at daycare by 8:30am so john can eat his second breakfast of the day.

either way, mornings are usually pretty full. full of fun things, true - like john running around yelling "airplane! airplane!" because he threw the airplane puzzle piece in the bathtub and can't reach it. or the dog jumping up and putting muddy paw prints on mommy's work pants. or the realization at the gym that mom managed to pack two different shoes and no underwear, so there's an unscheduled stop hope before work.

this morning promised to be no different. my husband and i slept far later than we should have. it was lovely, but underlying the peace was the understanding that i'd have to hit the ground running momentarily. soon john would wake, the dog would want to go out, and the festivities would begin.

so i pried myself out of bed, and hurriedly got ready for work, hoping to beat john's internal alarm and be ready before he was up. somehow, i did. so i decided to eat my breakfast in relative peace and quiet - a rare treat for busy mommy. so i did. and john still slept.

daddy left for work. buddy went outside for a romp, came in and ate his breakfast, and peacefully went back in his kennel. and john still slept.

i packed my lunch and snacks. loaded my stuff in the car. and still john slept.

finally, with ten minutes before we had to leave, i tiptoed into john's room, snapped a few pics of the now-stirring boo, and sang his good morning song: "hey little peanut ... good morning i love you ..."

and he sat up and the noise and hustle began. so we got dressed (where's john's shoe?) and had a snack ("nana nack mama! nana nack!" which translates to "banana snack.") and we loaded up in the car (still ten minutes late!) and made animal noises all the way to school.

and oddly, though i enjoyed my quiet morning ... i can't help feeling like i missed out on some time with my hectic, wild, crazy family today. looking forward to a not-so-peaceful night.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

clean teeth and a sense of humor

with a toothpaste flavor called
"silly strawberry," what kid could
resist brushing his teeth?


i did not anticipate that a 19-month-old child could have such a sense of humor. the funniest thing in the world, apparently, is spitting after you brush your teeth. john leans over the sink, goes "pppppt" and laughs hysterically. i guess i am just glad he finds such joy in the simple things in life!

but i think there's a difference between laughing at funny antics - after all, he's been doing that since he was an infant - and making a joke.

last weekend, grammie (my mom) came to visit, and one of the highlights of the weekend was a trip to the zoo. the baton rouge zoo has a pretty great tiger exhibit that puts the cats just on the other side of a large window:
  
up close and personal with a big kitty

the first thing john said when we got to the tiger exhibit was "kitty," which i guess is pretty accurate if a bit of an understatement. a few minutes after that picture was taken, the tiger got up and stretched, much to john's delight. john put his hand up to the glass, and the tiger put his paw up on the other side!

john giggled and laughed, and then the tiger started rubbing his head against the glass by john's hand - really like a big kitty.

i excitedly asked john, "what do you think that tiger is thinking, baby?"

he looked up at me with glee and said, "nummy!"

and you know what? i bet that was *exactly* what the tiger was thinking - what a yummy little boy treat this family has brought me to snack on!

nummy indeed.