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Vacation of a Lifetime

Vacations with family are very important to me. When I was a child, we would take long road trips in the family van with our back seats folded down to create a large bed-like area complete with pillows and blankets. Gone are the seatbelt-free days, especially for children! Yes, my kids are being raised in a very different time. So different, in fact, that we’re flying south of the equator for our upcoming family vacation.

My little family of four is heading to the land of giant tortoises & iguanas, sea lions, and the place that inspired Charles Darwin. As exciting as this is, we are not going until mid-April and in kid time this may as well be an eternity. Luckily, there are many informative sites I can show them to keep their interest. And keeping their interest is crucial when using a trip like this as motivation to finish chores, eat their veggies or brush their teeth. You know, the awful stuff that mean moms make their kids do.

So when they claim to not care about going on the trip I can simply pull up a picture of a giant tortoise, recite a fun fact, or even take them on a virtual tour of the islands and bingo, they’re devouring their broccoli with gusto. Okay, maybe not that enthusiastically, but they do at least get down one or two bites more than usual.

So that is our big news of the moment. I may be more excited and impatient about this trip than the kids are! There is so much to plan for when leaving the country that it can be a bit overwhelming. Have you taken your kids out of the country before? Any tips?

 

 

 

Energy Boost for Mom

Any parent knows that chasing after kids (let alone two busy boys) is a never ending duty. It seems the times I am most exhausted and ready to put myself in time-out are those times when I am really needed. Breaking up fights, cleaning up spills, bandaging scrapes (or bruises that don’t even need bandaging). What? Another broken light fixture just as I sit down to a cup of tea? That’s okay. I like my tea at room temperature anyway.

But I digress.

Obviously there is no stopping the tornado of energy that kids have. I think the only reason it really gets to me is that I’m jealous. Can they just share a little bit, please? Since I can’t siphon off energy from my children, I have been looking into alternate ways to boost my energy… naturally.

Simple Mom has 16 tips on her site.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Choose nutrient-dense food – Fruits and veggies are the best way to go.

  1. Increase physical activity – Hate running? Play tag, go on a walk, or dance with the kids.
  2. Oxygenate your body and mind – Sometimes all you need to do is breathe.
  3. Twist and stretch – I try and make a game out of this; Simon Says or Twister work nicely.

Try as I might, it is difficult to get all my nutrients through food. There are just some supplements that I feel are necessary to get me through everyday life. Usually vitamins D & C along with an Omega 3 do the trick for a lack of energy. I feel like I’m on a continual search for the right brands but occasionally I find a winner that is worth a repeat purchase.

I just found a great vitamin C that I think is worth sticking with. I’ve learned that most vitamin C available is water-soluble which I thought was a good thing but actually is not. Apparently when it is water-soluble, some of what you take can’t make it past the digestive juices in your stomach. This means that it can not be absorbed into your bloodstream. So, aside from throwing money down the drain, what is the point?

Through my research I came across Altrient C, a very potent form of vitamin C that is formulated in non-water-soluble liposomes that are able to pass through your intestinal wall and be absorbed into your bloodstream with very little waste.

Now, I know all supplements make promises. I know they all promise the best delivery system but after just a few days of taking Altrient C, I am really feeling a difference in my energy! It is rare that I actually notice a difference after starting a new supplement and, if I do, it seems it is very subtle and I end up thinking it is all in my head. Not this time. You know that 3 o’clock in the afternoon slump feeling (sometimes I seem to actually have it all day)? Haven’t suffered from it since I started taking my Altrient C. That boost alone is worth the purchase price.

Do you supplement your diet with vitamins? Which have you found to work best for you?

Diet Pills

Unlike those mutant freaks at Victoria’s Secret who pop out a baby backstage and then walk the runway in wings and a smile three minutes later, my figure did not instantly snap back to its prenatal shape. It took me a long time and A LOT of hard work to lose all of my baby weight from William and I am still carrying 20 pounds of baby weight from Ryan. And Ryan is in kindergarten. This is not good.

A few months ago I decided that enough was enough and got serious about buckling down and losing weight. I soon started seeing slow and steady progress on the scale and how my clothes fit, but being the Type-A super nerd that I am, slow and steady wasn’t cutting it. I am not proud of myself, but I started to look into some quick-fix solutions or anything that might speed up the hard work I was already doing.

In the course of researching various diet pills and supplements, I stumbled across something altogether different and exponentially more disturbing. Because I am the mother of two boys, I had never considered how a child’s body image begins at home. Make no mistake – boys are not immune to an unhealthy self-image or disordered eating. The fact is that boys simply are not affected in the same way as girls are by the onslaught of images and ideals to which they are exposed at home, at school, and all over the media.

My friend Kara is the daughter of a successful fashion model from the 1960s. Kara has a gorgeous figure (even after three 10-pound babies!), she has a healthy lifestyle, and she has always seemed sensible about food. She’s the friend who will order wine and dessert with dinner, and she’ll enjoy both without spending 20 minutes explaining how she hasn’t eaten all day and how she’ll starve the next day to make up for it. I called Kara to talk about what I’d read. I was astounded to hear her agreement. Despite the fact that Kara wears a size 6-8 and weighs just about 10 pounds more than she did in high school, she says that growing up with a woman who made a living from her looks was devastating.

Look,” Kara said. “My mom is tiny like Audrey Hepburn and has eaten a hard boiled egg for breakfast every morning of her life. Getting ‘crazy’ for her is milk in her coffee and I’ve never seen her enjoy a meal.” Kara went on to say that it took years of living on her own to accept that it is not a bad thing to actually derive pleasure from a meal, and for her to accept that she just isn’t built like her mom. She works hard to balance the occasional indulgences with more moderation, but she has to be vigilant not to “punish” herself after treats. Kara’s daughter, Finley, is just now turning two, but my sweet friend is already worried about how to present a healthy, whole and sane body image to her little girl. “It’s a little nuts,” said Kara. “I never even thought about this crap with my boys. They just ate what I put in front of them, I made sure to go easy on the Happy Meals, and that was that. With Finley, I’m already panicked.”

To read more, take a look at http://www.womenshealth.gov/body-image/kids/

I’m interested to hear from all of you – especially the mother of girls – about your own experiences growing up. Do you have a positive body image? How much of your body image do you honestly think you attribute to what you saw at home? What do you plan to do differently with your girls?

More in a few days,

Corey

 

Hurricane William

“It must be easy staying at home all day,” said the irritating woman in line at the kindergarten fundraising meeting. I was so shocked to hear such an inappropriate, non-pc statement that I was momentarily rendered speechless. Since this woman has a child at Ryan’s school, I just smiled and turned to my other neighbor, but her comments gnawed at me all day and I just seethed. Haven’t we, as women, gotten a little further than this in the mommy wars? What I wished I could have done was whisk her back in time a few years ago when I was home with William (then a toddler) for a few weeks when we had just been relocated to a new city for Ted’s job. I was interviewing with the local newspapers, but was taking my time with it and really enjoying a small window of time with my sweet baby boy.

On this particular morning, Ted was on a business trip, as per usual, and my precious angel and I made our way downstairs so Mama could guzzle some espresso while William spaced out in front of Elmo. (Hey, it’s PBS, right?!)

The smell hit me before the sight. Our geriatric miniature dachshund (RIP, Catfish) had not quite managed to wait to be let outside to conduct his morning business. I burst into tears and then got on with it. I grabbed some Clorox wipes to scoop up Catfish’s copious poop, disposed of it, cleaned and sanitized all affected areas of the floor, scrubbed my hands, and then prepared coffee and breakfast for us.

I had no sooner gotten breakfast together when I noticed that William was in the process of pulling out every single aforementioned Clorox container. I picked those up and stuffed them back into the plastic tube. While I was putting the wipes back under the kitchen sink, I heard a shriek. William, who surely is destined for NBA greatness as his reach defies all rules of physics and proportion, had sidled up to the breakfast table and pulled his Cheerios and ice cold milk off the table and all over his head and the floor. You don’t have to be a housekeeping genius to appreciate the fact that spilled milk really is a hot mess, so I immediately set about getting that disaster cleaned and mopped up. I returned the mop to the garage with a relieved sigh and headed to my corner of the sofa where I curl up with my latte each and every morning. I was greeted with the unpleasant visual of – you guessed it – Hurricane William, who had in the meantime shimmied up onto the sofa, dunked his enchantingly grubby baby fist into my beverage, and was licking his fingers delightedly and mumbling “mmmmmmm”.

The first ten minutes of that day left me shattered, and I wound up napping with William immediately after lunch time. I vividly recall thinking how women who choose to stay at home must be NUTS because I would much rather put on some pretty clothes and get out of the house and chase a story. (I got the journalism job of my dreams a few weeks later and this little chapter of staying home with sweet William drew to a close.)

Fast forward to the present, of course, and I have willingly joined the ranks of those nutty women who choose to exit the traditional workforce. Because, while there are still many mornings/days/nights when I want to pull my hair out in despair, there is still nowhere else on earth I’d rather be. And the next time some asinine person asks me if staying home is easy, I will mentally punch them in the throat while sweetly replying, “No. It’s not easy at all, but it is rewarding.”

More in a few days,

Corey

 

Goodwill

In the midst of all of the winding down from the holidays, I got into a bit of a purging frenzy. When this happens, Ted knows to get out of the way and not ask any questions! As always, I am starting 2012 with the very best of intentions regarding an organized, de-cluttered and serene home. (Also, as always, my inner cynic suspects that I will slide into 2013 as a disorganized mess, but isn’t the New Year about hopes and dreams!?)

Today, I took a load of no-longer-needed baby items to my local branch of Goodwill. While it’s always thrilling to take bags of stuff out of my house – a tiny victory in the endless Battle of the Clutter – I was also left breathless by the bittersweet nature of this task. Given my haphazard driving ability and poor packing skills, it is not surprising that one of the donation bags spilled all over the “way back” in the short journey between home and the drop-off site. What did surprise me was the prickle of tears that hovered as I repacked the stack of tiny snapsuits, unopened packages of burp cloths, my beloved black-and-white diaper bag, and the baby wipe warmer that was theoretically very clever, but which went virtually unused by this lazy mama.

There is simply something special about your last baby. We are the lucky parents of two precious, precious little boys who were born a handful of years apart. We were so contented to have William, but our dreams for our family always included a second child. For that reason, in the years after William was born, there was always the hope of another little one coming up the ranks to dazzle us with his/her accomplishments, hilarious malapropisms, and general tomfoolery. With Ryan, our caboose, every single stage from infancy onwards has been met with equal parts joy and maudlin sentiment. Conversely, every cliché is true about not filling in the youngest child’s baby book. (I will have to rely on my Facebook statuses someday if poor Ryan asks how old he was when he took his first steps.)

A good friend reminded me recently to take joy in every stage and celebrate every accomplishment because there are some children who never take a step, or draw a picture, or learn to hold a spoon. Whoa. Getting deep there. I hope you appreciate my point and understand the spirit in which it was offered. We mothers need to celebrate our children’s accomplishments, whatever they may be, and take joy in the passage of time, not sorrow.

I’m curious to know if your children’s milestones ever give you the blues. If so, how do you cope?

More in a few days,

Corey

Lots of Kids!

As a young girl, my favorite books in the world were the “All-Of-A-Kind” series by Sydney Taylor and “Cheaper By the Dozen” by Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.  One of these families had six kids and the other twelve which you might have guessed from the latter’s title.  At any rate, I loved reading about both the sheer chaos and the madcap merriment that went on in both of these households.  And while Ted and I decided that two children were enough for our family, I still enjoy reading about and watching anything I can about large families.  (And, yes, I’ve watched every moment ever filmed about the Duggars.  Sue me.)

I loved this homeschooling mama of four’s perspective.  http://shine.yahoo.com/moments-of-motherhood/parenting-guru-10-little-things-i-love-about-having-a-house-full-of-kids-2445646.html  Even though our personal situations differ pretty substantially, much of what she said applied to me.  Frankly, some of it applies with just one kid at home.

First of all, I am all about the hand-me-downs.  I saved Williams’s clothes for Ryan, I split Ryan’s cast-offs between a cousin and a neighbor, and William still receives a steady stream of clothes from his older cousin.  (Thank you to my nephew Phillip!)  I’m certain that I’ve saved thousands of dollars through the generosity of relatives and friends, and I’m so glad to pay it forward.

And, even though it’s just the three of us most of the time with Ted gone for work so often, I am never bored.  The boys and I really and truly have fun together, and we’ve developed a few little rituals which I treasure.  We love to walk around the neighborhood collecting data to later chart at home.  (This requires a special shout-out to my homeschooling neighbor Donna who taught me this trick.  Just this afternoon, we counted three joggers, zero dogs, and eleven moving cars.) 

We love to make stovetop popcorn and old-fashioned hot cocoa and hunker down over old Scooby Doo marathons.  I can usually buy myself enough comparative silence for a Diet Coke and a phone call by breaking out the art supplies on the kitchen table, and we love, love, LOVE to read aloud.  It is particularly sweet to see William drop everything to snuggle with us on the sofa while I’m re-reading some of his childhood favorites to Ryan.

Finally, the author is right on about the family cooking.  We’re not gourmets by any stretch, but I love to see William and Ryan collaborating in the kitchen.  I know it may sound trite, but a peanut butter sandwich prepared by my favorite little hands is just about the most delicious thing I have ever eaten.  And the first time I saw the boys work together to cook boxed mac & cheese?  I still get sentimental thinking about it.  We have the most fun, however, throwing things into our slow cooker.  The boys are fascinated by this simple appliance’s seemingly magical alchemy.  It is just so counterintuitive to their little brains that the food cooks ALL DAY.  BY ITSELF.  I recently made applesauce overnight in the slow cooker and Ryan is still talking about it.  (“You made this while we were sleeping, Mama?  Cool!”)

I’m not Pollyanna by any stretch of the imagination, but I am so glad to  have these years at home with my boys.  The old expression about raising children is so true: the days are long, but the years are short.

 

I’m curious to know what’s working for you and your kids.  Whether you have two or twenty kids, how do you combat cabin fever?  What are your favorite things to do as a family?  Are you developing your own routines and traditions?

More in a few days,

 

Corey

Hand Sanitizer

I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the line, I turned into one of those hand sanitizer-toting nut jobs.  I never got as bad as clipping a travel sized one to the side of my purse, but still…I became the person I used to mock.  I first picked up some hand sanitizer on a blissful pre-kid trip with Ted to New York.  I knew from previous trips there that my hands felt gross after grabbing the poles on the subway and I also knew how fond I was of eating food off of a pushcart, so it seemed like a no-brainer.  Somehow, though, this admittedly wonderful convenience tool morphed into something I used several times a day.  Sometimes, even after I’d washed my hands with soap and water.  (I’m not OCD, but some public restrooms facilities make you wonder if it would be more sanitary to skip the sinks altogether.)

Anyway, the topic of hand sanitizers came up at play group the other day, with one of the other moms talking about how hand sanitizers were a hot topic at her daughter’s Montessori preschool.  I had to mediate a squabble and I missed the background of her story, but the gist of it was that some parents at this particular preschool objected to hand sanitizers as unsafe and unhealthy.  Honestly, I had never even given their safety a second thought.  I just loved them for their efficacy, and, as the daughter of an ER physician, I love the smell of alcohol and institutional cleaning products of all kinds.  I usually keep that last bit of information to myself, but I’m just being honest here.

My curiosity was definitely piqued. As soon as I got the boys into bed late that night, I did a little reading on the subject.  I wasn’t surprised to confirm that generally, washing hands with soap and water was preferred, but was stunned to know that some liquid soaps contain an undesirable antibacterial triclosan that many groups are petitioning the EPA to ban.  (Of course, that led to a 20-minute scrutiny of every bottle of liquid hand soap in the house, as well as my bulk warehouse acquired stockpile in the garage.)

I was also stunned to learn that the average American washes her hands twice a day, and one of those times is in the shower, at that!  Gross.  I don’t get on a soapbox (pun intended) very often, but I can certainly think that we can all do better than that.  I keep forgetting to track my own hand washing, but I garden and cook and clean so much that I’m sure it’s 12-15 times per day.  And back when I had babies in diapers?  I still cringe when I think how raw and chapped my hands got from the constant washing.

At any rate, I was already familiar with the controversy about alcohol-based gel hand sanitizers, but hadn’t taken the time to see if there were any other options.  Like I said before, I like the “clean” smell of rubbing alcohol.  But if you are inclined, there are definitely some all-natural, plant-based varieties out there.

The real take home message for me was to make sure my boys practice proper hand washing with soap and water, but to know that hand sanitizers have their place, too.  For more, check out http://blog.oregonlive.com/pdxgreen/2011/01/sanitizers_get_hands_clean_are.html

Are your kids’ classrooms equipped with hand sanitizers?  Do you keep one in your car and another in your purse?  Do you sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself while washing with soap and water to make sure you scrub long enough?  J

More in a few days, Corey

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