kids

People always say not to sweat the small stuff, but sometimes it’s the small stuff that can make he biggest difference.

This summer I have been trying to do little things around the house just to make life simpler or prettier or just nicer in some way.  It’s funny what can change your life in a small yet very significant way.

calendar

I am not the most organized of people and with two kids in two different schools this year, I figured I needed to create a way to keep track of who needed to be where, what forms needed to be filled out and returned and what days I have a meeting or Karli is going to be home late etc etc etc.

With school starting last week this has really been my first introduction into the crazy schedule of a family of four.  To help me stay on track, I dedicated a wall in my kitchen to family organization.  I have two white board calendars as well as cork boards and white boards for notes and forms and stuff.  I even found a stick on post-it dispenser and some really cute orange cube push pins.

My office supply fetish is definitely satisfied on this one.  We even have a different color pen for each member of the family.

kitchen_window

Another addition to my kitchen is the hanging fruit basket.  This worked out really well, providing plenty of room for all the fruit bowl items and keeping the onions and garlic separate from the fruit.  By finding a creative solution to the overflowing fruit bowl we also cleared up some much needed counter space, which is at a premium in my tiny kitchen.

Cleaning out the garden window which had previously been filled with all my poor suffering house plants cleared enough space to start an herb garden in that window which had always been the plan and only took me 8 years to get around to.  We also gave the window sill a fresh coat of paint which really brightened it up.  It is so nice to be able to look out that window and see the kids playing in the back yard.   I don’t know if I ever thought we would get there.

pantry

Probably the biggest kitchen impact came from the addition of this giant pantry unit.  We finally got the extra shelves we needed and the drawers we forgot to buy the first time around and it is now complete and a fully functional pantry.  Having this extra space makes all the difference in a tiny house with little storage.   And I finally have all my little plastic storage containers with labels and everything.  Mmmmm, it makes me all warm inside.

house_plants

And yes, those suffering house plants (there are many more) have finally found legitimate homes throughout the house.  I look forward to watching them finally thrive and grow.  Only a few weeks later they are already looking very very happy.  They even all got matching pots in complimentary colors.

It is really amazing how much more alive and homey my house feels now.   Having the youngest to an age where he no longer feels the need to tip the plants over and dig in them is a great relief to both them and me.

towel_rack

And last, but certainly not least is the new over the door towel rack in the main bathroom.  There has never been a really good place for a towel rack in this bathroom and since I am sharing this bathroom with the kids for the time being, where to put he towels has been an ongoing struggle and trial and failure.

But here it is, my big beautiful towel rack.  Like I said, it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference.  Ahhh!

It has been an interesting couple of weeks since attending the forum.  I have been mourning a part of myself and learning to live in a world where that part me no longer exists.  Of course this is a good thing, but that certainly doesn’t mean it has been easy.

I have caught myself falling back into my depression routines which is pretty frustrating.  I am also noticing new layers or levels of issues to deal with.  This is also a good thing as these are the real issues, the rackets I have built up that were hidden beneath my tortured soul persona.  The good news is that now that I am past all the bullshit  I can concentrate on going after the stuff really getting in the way.  It is like all that anger just wrapped me in a blanket of safety and now I am fully exposed, left to look for and examine the real issues I was just hiding from before.

My therapist is thrilled and I am working on being thrilled, but right now I just feel a little let down.  See there, that’s a racket talking right there.

I have been finding it hard to write.  This post have been sitting in my draft posts in various stages of undone for about a week now.  I ended up having to write it by hand to break through the block and it hardly resembles what I meant to write when I started.  When I think about it, I wonder if much of my inspiration came from my angst and resentment and blame.  This is a new place to write from for me.  This is a new place to do everything from for me.

Although I see the future in a whole new brighter light from a place of knowing I am not only capable but also deserving, insecurity and fear are still rampant and restraining.

But alas,  life rolls along and time speeds past and there is much to be done.  School starts this week and a new stage of life beings for our family. Ada starts kindergarten on Thursday and Ian will be attending preschool two mornings a week starting next week.    This leads to many new challenges and some great opportunities as well.

I am not the most organized of people, another racket I run to avoid being responsible for my own life — See how those can get in the way?

So, this week I have set myself up to succeed and started a fresh school year with a fresh outlook.

Taking responsibility for my life means many things to me.  Much of the big stuff like the wall I put up between myself and others and how angry I was and generally nasty sometimes are gone – vanished like some sort of magic.  What’s left are those things that can make a huge difference in my day to day life.  These include being organized and responsible for remembering what forms need to be filled out, that there is a field trip tomorrow and I need to send snacks to school on Wednesday.  It also means taking responsibility for my health and my body and finally doing what it takes to be a healthy, confident, beautiful woman.

Maybe we can throw in figuring out what I want to be when I grow up as well, but that is the big scary monster in the room right now and a lot of baggage lays between me and that goal, although I have been having some thoughts about what it might look like and that is a surprisingly big step for me.   In the meantime I can concentrate on getting the things I do have under my control under control.

I have already made some big strides.  Today (well actually yesterday but it took me too long to edit this) I have eaten great, exercised, cleaned the house and spent quality time with the kids, while still managing to get some work done.  It is possible to be productive and get everything done.  It’s amazing how much time opens up when you stop worrying so much about how overwhelming it all is.

The challenge will be to keep at it for more than a couple of days.  This is another racket I run.  I have great intentions and a strong start, but the follow through tends to go by the wayside.  I have put many tools into place to assist me in overcoming this weakness and I will share them with you over the next couple of weeks as I discover the successes and failures.  I hope that maybe an idea will spark you to create a less overwhelming life for yourself as well.

The Nest - Flexible Hourly Child Care - Woodinville WA

I am proud to announce the launch of my latest professional project  TheNestKids.com.

The Nest provides flexible hourly childcare in Woodinville WA.

The Nest is owned by two mothers, who are both savvy business women and stay at home parents (or should I say formerly stay at home parents :-D ).  I am so proud to know them and to have helped them to create a really nice online presence.  I wish them best of luck in their new endeavor.

I also can not wait to become a customer.   As a stay at home parent, I know I often struggle to plan appointments or meet a friend for lunch, because I always have the kids (or at least one) with me.  I don’t need a regular child care provider, but could definitely use someplace safe and fun to drop off the kids when I have something I need to do that they can’t attend.  This flexibility could be just what many of us are looking for.

They will also offer evening care for the occasional dinner out or a movie.  Finding a babysitter can be quite a challenge and even if you have a great one they are not always available.  This could provide a safe place to drop the kids that turns into a night out for them too.   I have heard a couple of whispers about the great activities they are working on and I am really impressed.

Can you tell I am excited about this one?

As far as the site goes, I collaborated with designer Michelle Poole on this one.  She created the beautiful banner, images and basic layout and then I worked directly with the business owners to turn it into a cohesive product that we are all extremely pleased with.

Like many of my sites, I used php includes to separate the code from the editable content.  This simplifies maintenance and provides an environment that the owners (should they ever decide they want to) could update themselves.   I also used php to create unique seo friendly meta data for each page within the site.   I used W3C valid css and xhtml to create a strong foundation for the site and the jquery ajax library to add a lightbox popup.

This has been a really fun project to work on.  If you live in the area, The Nest will be opening in September.  I recommend checking them out.

I have been a little absent for the last week or so, somewhat due to the fact that summer just boggles my mind.  I always wonder how we are going to fill the days and we strategize about how to best take advantage of the summer with trips and bbqs and house projects and then all of a sudden the summer is booked solid and half over.  It gets so busy…  How does that happen?

But the main reason for my absense has been the sickness that has run rampant through our household for the last week.  I got a really bad cold at the beginning of the week and then by tuesday Ian was throwing up.  As the week went on we both got sicker and sicker.  Mine was manageable under normal circumstances, but with him being almost scary sick, I never got the chance to rest and get better and by friday afternoon I was just in tears.  I was so damn tired I couldn’t think straight.  Thank god my mother arrived later that day and did a really impressive job of knowing exactly what would help me the most and make me feel better.  Thank-you Mom!

Ian has never  been this ill.  He is generally a really healthy kid.  I am pretty sure he got rotavirus, a very common childhood illness but it also could have been viral gastroenteritis (although none of the rest of us got sick so I doubt this).  It says that almost every child will get rotavirus by the time they are three and that in parts of the world it can be a significant cause of childhood death.  Scary and I can see if you didn’t have resources or access to decent healthcare that this could turn into something very significant for many children.

I remember Ada had this when she was about eight months old and both Karli and I got it as well.  I have also heard from several friends on their first kids that they have gotten it along with their kids recently.  Must be going around.  From what I read, you usually will not get it again or if you do it will be very mild.  When you do get it again it is often due to a new strain, which would make sense why we get it when we have kids as I am sure the strain has changed since we were kids.

So days of fever and puking and diarhea came and went and Ian aquired one nasty case of diaper rash.  Ooh, it was ugly.  We tried everything we had left over in the house and nothing was helping and he was experiencing a significant amount of discomfort.   Finally I remembered that I had heard someone at a baby shower recently talking about this amazing diaper cream you could get by asking the pharmacy.

Unfortunately I didn’t remember what it was called.  So I sent Karli to talk to the pharmacist who looked at him funny and said Uh a lot.  But finally she gave him a tub of cream called Calmoseptine.  It contains 20% zinc oxide, which is significantly higher than your average diaper cream.  It also contains menthol, calomine and lanolin among other things.

Well, let me tell you, it totally worked.  Within 24 hours the rash was really starting to look better and was all but gone in a couple of days.

I’m not sure that this was exactly what was recommended at the baby shower, but I know that I can now fully recommend it.

Mom Tip:  Calmoseptine Diaper Rash Ointment

for persistent, severe, and painful diaper rash

At our pharmacy we had to speak with the pharmacist to get this stuff, but it does appear that it is available at amazon so it may vary from place to place where you will find it.

I has been very exciting watching the transformation of our backyard.

Just yesterday we completed the deck.  Done, finished.  It only took a little under a year.  No biggie.

And the lawn is coming in really nicely too.  It’s still a little thin, but starting to fill in.  Another week or so and I think it will be ready for the kids to play on.  This is just so exciting for all of us.  A real back yard, Wow!

I was just marveling yesterday how a year ago I drew a picture of how I wanted it all to look and now it actually looks just like the picture I drew.  It’s a huge sense of accomplishment, especially since we have been so paralyzed by the overwhelming task for so many years.

It’s amazing what a small boy’s never ending energy can drive you to accomplish.  Go outside and play please!  Yea!!!

Here are the latest photos…

New Grass Coming InLast bit of deck completedAnd the Last Bits of FasciaIt's Just so pretty

Having two kids with birthdays four days apart was a really bad idea, not that we consciously decided to do it that way.  Whatever you do, don’t try to get pregnant the same month more than once.   

As a result of this momentary lack in judgement, April is crazy crazy crazy.  There is Easter and the grandparents visiting back to back and double birthdays to plan and shop for. 

We did try to down play it this year with just a small family gathering for Ian and a fairy extravaganza for Ada and her four closest girlfriends, but it doesn’t seem how simple we try to make it, it still involves a lot of stress and energy.

I would never want to deprive my kids of anything, but this is only going to get more complicated as they get older.  There has to be a way to avoid having to do back to back birthday parties for the next 10 years, as it is both emotionally and financially challenging.  Would I be wrong to limit them to big parties every other year and a family party on the opposing years?  It seems fair to me, but I don’t have siblings and so I don’t have an understanding of how that might play with them.  Anyone have any good ideas?

This last week, I was feeling very overwhelmed by the whole thing and being generally cranky.  I even had an angry day and have had a hard time sleeping, which I haven’t encountered in a while.  I talked to my therapist about it yesterday and she thinks it is probably just some emotions that were brought up in therapy last week (we had kind of a break through session) that I didn’t have time to deal with and process appropriately because of family coming into town and Ada’s party and such.  We did some work to integrate some of it and I feel a little more centered this week, so that is good.

With all that said, the look of joy on Ada’s face as she bounced around for three days in anticipation of her friends coming to celebrate her birthday with her was worth every bit of stress and tiredness.  She just beamed and sparkled through the whole thing. 

With Ian turning 2 this week, I can’t wait to see him realize for the first time that everyone is singing for him and dig into a piece of chocolate cake with reckless abandon.  Priceless!

Now, if I could just get rid of this kink in my neck.

So Dr. Laura is on Larry King right now discussing her new book “In Praise of Stay at Home Moms”.  I have to say that I am a little confused about what to say about this.

I am more than slightly uncomfortable with the fact that Dr. Laura is the new spokesperson for stay at home moms.  Her traditional value system and outdated theories certainly don’t represent me as a stay at home mom.

But with that said, I am glad that someone is speaking to and about stay at home moms.  I have said before that I feel very fortunate to be in the position to stay at home with my kids and I do, but it was a choice that we made for our family because we felt that was what was best for our family.

This was a very significant sacrifice for us and  we struggled financially for a long time.  But with careful planning, stategic budgeting and a lot of self control, we have been able to not only survive, but thrive in our situation. Karli has worked so hard to advance his carreer so that we can build our life and provide for our kids.

And now that the kids are getting  a little older there is an opportunity for me to remake myself professionally as well.  I put my career on hold to stay at home and it is undeniable that I would have been very successful by now in that career.  But, that doesn’t mean that I can never work or build a new career for myself.  It just looks a little different now and for me that is the best thing that could have happened.  I feel like I am going to get my cake and eat it too –  a professional life that fits my lifestyle and the family life that we have chosen to build for ourselves.

Choosing to stay home has been the most rewarding and challenging thing I have ever done.  It isn’t easy and I am certainly not lazy or stupid.    I have heard that this is a common perception, but I have never experienced that.  I work very hard and give of myself on an emotional level that I think is hard to understand or relate to unless you do stay at home.  But I also reap the biggest rewards and I think my kids do as well.

But, I also don’t think it is productive to perpetuate the divide between stay at home and working moms.  We all work very hard to care for our children in the way that works best for our families.   My closest girl friends work outside the home and I have a great deal of respect for them and there choices just as they have respect for mine.

We often joke that we couldn’t imagine how hard it must be to do it the other way around and I think that says that we have made the right choices for us.  Moms should support and respect each other, no matter what our circumstances are.

On somewhat of a side note…

A while back my step sister in law (is that the way I say it?) posted the article below on facebook.  I felt this was a pretty good representation and until now forgot how much I wanted to share this with you all.  Now seems like an appropriate time.  Click on the image to make it big enough to read.

mom_articla_washpost

When Ada was younger, she had terrible cradle cap. Not your average cradle cap that most kids get, but persistent cradle cap that would not go away and lasted until I finally beat it when she was three.

I was especially panicky about this because I had the same thing when I was little and it took my mom until I was five to get rid of it. By that time, I was picking at it and pulling off the scabs. My scalp was so damaged that I still have bald spots where the cradle cap used to be. I was totally freaked out and determined not to let this happen to Ada, so I scoured the Internet for any ideas.

My pediatrician, although wonderful and I love her dearly, was really useless with this. She just kept saying to put olive oil on her head and then scrub as I washed it out. Well, this didn’t work worth a damn.

What finally worked for us was The Original Little Sprout – Moisturizing Baby Shampoo (4 oz).

This shampoo is especially made for gently getting rid of cradle cap. It comes in a 4 oz and 16 oz size. It is very concentrated and it only took one 4 oz. bottle to get rid of Ada’s cradle cap. You have to use very little, the size of a dime is plenty, especially for a small child. I would recommend starting with the small bottle and don’t be alarmed by it’s small size, just use a little bit.

When washing the hair, I recommend letting the shampoo sit on the head for a few minutes if you can. I know this can be difficult with small kids in the bath, but if you can manage it, letting it site for even just a minute will help.

This will take a little while to work, but I started seeing results quickly and within a month or so it was completely gone and has not even threatened to make a reappearance. And, the biggest thing for me was there was no scraping or scrubbing, which my daughter simply would not tolerate. It is a gentle and natural product  that I felt good about.

There are a couple minor downfalls. It is pretty spendy, but you will likely only need one bottle and I believe well worth the price tag. The other thing is that it isn’t tear free so be really careful around your child’s eyes. I find that putting a washcloth over her eyes worked well. She was old enough to hold the washcloth herself, which gave her a sense of control during an activity that she absolutely hated.

Another great product that I discovered for hair washing is the Lil Rinser Splashguard. Forms a seal on the forehead while still allowing the water to run over your child hair. Pretty slick.

When Ian was just a few months old he broke out in what I thought was a rash.  He had patches of light pink bumps all over his body.   I was not familiar with exzema and this didn’t look like the red raw patches I had seen on other kids with eczema.  

I took him to the doctor and they made me go in the back door where they send the really contagious kids.  I was a little freaked out.  What did they think it was?  But, it was a simple case of eczema.  Ok, now what.   She recommended that I lotion him up twice a day and if that didn’t work I could call and get the prescription cream.

At the time Ada was taking a class at The Little Gym (a wonderful place by the way, especially for the toddler age group).  I was talking about this with the other moms there and one of them popped up.   Her son had also had eczema and she recommended
Cetaphil Cream.

She said that she had tried everything, even the prescription cream and nothing had worked very well until another mom had recommended the
Cetaphil Cream.  

Well, it worked like a charm.  I lathered him up twice a day and within a couple of days there was significan improvement and then it was gone and hasn’t really been back.  I continue to apply the cream after every bath and then when I see I little patch I go back to twice a day and it never even gets going.

I recently recommended this to a friend who was going through the same thing and was about to start on the prescription cream and she tried it and it worked great for her too.  

If your child suffers from eczema, this is definitely worth a try.  It is very inexpensive and overall a great cream.  I now use it as a body lotion because I have pretty dry skin.  

Mom Tip – Recommended Product for Eczema – Cetaphil Cream

This is the kind that comes in a tub, not a tube.  There is a lotion and a cream.  Make sure to get the cream.

I also use the Cetaphil cleanser as my everyday facial cleanser andI love it, cheap and works great.  Gotta love that.

Do you have experiences with eczema, cetaphil or other words of wisdom on this topic?  Please share by adding a comment below.

This is part 1 of 1 in the series Mom Tips

There are many times when the little pieces of wisdom learned from other parents, friends, teachers, grandparents, coworkers or whomever come screaming to the rescue. These bits of information that lie in the back of our minds are very valuable and should be openly shared and cherished between parents. It is our job as parents to support each other and we have so much knowledge and experience that we may never share with each other, but definitely show.

A couple of weeks ago some dear friends of ours were visiting for dinner. As you do when visiting with other parents we were sharing our little worries and goings on with our kids. It just happened that I had also recently dealt with similar issues as my youngest is just a few months older than her youngest. I was able to share a couple of products and experiences that turned out to really work for her. These same products were passed onto me from other moms who had dealt with similar situations in their pasts.

I also have a few lines of wise words that were shared with me by teachers of classes I have taken that have shaped who I am as a parent. I find myself sharing these with others regularly.

This is how is goes in the world of parenting and these things have inspired me to start a series of articles called Mom Tips.  Although I will be sharing my mom tips, I would also love to hear yours.  You can share in this discussion by commenting on individual posts with ideas or questions about that particular topic. Or if you have a mom tip or would like to discuss a new topic, I would encourage you to contact me with your mom tip or question and If it is appropriate for my readers I will post it to the Mom Tips article series. Just use the contact me form and make sure to include your website URL so that if I use it I can give you proper credit.

I really look forward to sharing in an open dialog about products, tips and words of wisdom that make us all the fantastic parents that we are.