Thursday, March 29, 2012

What Do You Use?

As I sat there watching commercials the other night, I wondered, does that new cream from Oil of Olay REALLY reduced wrinkles? And will those new magical Tide pods get the grass stains out of B’s white sweat pants? (Please feel free to comment on the fact that I purchase white sweat pants in the first place.)

As a working mom, I am typically looking for products that work quickly but don’t break my wallet. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for the extreme couponing, nor do I receive the Sunday paper. (Wow – I remember getting the G’burg Register Mail every day for my Dad – what happened to those days? Sorry – tangent!!)

So I started thinking about all of the products I use and wondered if you had any suggestions?

First, I will start with laundry – do those Tide pods actually work? Also, I have a red-headed hubby and blondies for children – so All Sensitive Skin/ All Clear detergent is a must. Any other products for sensitive skin you would suggest?

Second – make-up/lotions. This may surprise some of you, but I actually work out over lunch. Which means, make-up in the morning and reapply after the workout/shower. Is there a mascara you use that won’t smear/need to be removed after the shower? Or one that won’t leave black rings under my eyes? Also, for the dark circles, any magic potion you swear by? Or a moisturizer that helps with both wrinkles and zits BUT won’t leave your face oily?

Oh – and while I am thinking about it – any great shampoo and/or conditioner you use for swimmers’ hair? A & B are in the pool all of the time, and the chlorine just destroys their hair!

Finally, cleaning supplies. While my hubby would argue that this is not my area of expertise (and he would be right!), is there cleaner you use for your kitchen counters that will easily clean up everything from stuck on suckers to purple pop AND not smell like bleach?

Thank you for your tips! Have a great day!
Jean Anne

P.S. Sorry for the brief hiatus.  I was enjoying Spring Break in the Dells and did not touch my laptop for over 5 days!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Painful Goodbyes

I’ve always been a working Mom. Since the time J was 9 weeks old, I started working. Therefore, I’m no stranger to the repeated heartbreak us working Moms have to endure every day when we say goodbye to our kids and head off to work.

I’ve always had trouble with goodbyes. From the time I was a kid I cried pretty much every time I had to say goodbye to anyone. Movies with painful goodbyes? I was a wreck before the emotional instrumental interlude that plays as a car headed down the dusty dirt road even started. I was the kid that got homesick on sleepovers. I even hated college because I was away from my family.
But I was not prepared for what a true heartbreaking goodbye felt like until I had kids. To this day, I have delegated drop offs to my husband. I can’t stand being the one that has to take them to daycare and hear the cry. I’ll be the first one there to pick up and see that smile and running feet, but drop off…no way. Yes, I use my "I carried them for 9 months and had three c-sections, what did you do???" card with this chore.
Now I have to admit, I really don’t have any trouble leaving J and H anymore. I mean, technically now that J is in school, she “leaves” me in the morning. She heads off to Kindergarten bright and early and enjoys school so much, I don’t have a twinge of guilt about working. H is in pre-school and so we still have to drop him off, and yes there is the occasional “Do you have to work today?” moan from him on a Monday morning. But overall, he’s 4 so he gets it. He understands by now that Mom has to go to work, but then she’ll be back and in his mind Mommy works so the transformers and monster trucks can be in abundance. In other words, he'll bear some time without me for Bumblebee or Grave Digger.

But, then there is L. My baby. Not only my baby, but my baby baby, my youngest and last child. He by far and away has put me through the most heart wrenching goodbyes.
It seems L and I have had the world trying to keep us apart literally since his birth. When he was born, he swallowed a lot of fluid during my c-section and so instead of getting to hold him right away off he went to Neonatal ICU. He was kept from me for about 3 hours, well actually after about an hour I threw such a fit with the nurses in my recovery room that they made an exception and wheeled me down to visit him briefly. His was my only c-section that I didn't recover quickly and so I had to have a lot of help in the first couple of months. L was the easiest baby known to man and so when he was a baby, my husband opted to “take care of him” when we would go somewhere, leaving me to chase after a then 2 and 3 year old J and H.

L is now almost 2 years old and he is a notorious Mama’s Boy. It didn’t start this way, as he was started as Daddy’s little guy. But suddenly around 18 months old, he became glued at my hip. Now everywhere we go he’s right by my side.

And this has lead to L winning the prize of being the hardest person I have ever had to say goodbye to. I have to say of my three kids he wins the prize for breaking my heart the most at goodbyes.

When J was little she would cry when I would leave. She would even try and follow me to the door. But, once Todd lifted her up she stopped crying. H was a little harder in that when he was toddler and I would leave in the morning he would always say “Wait Mommy” and run and try to grab his shoes. But all I would have to do is pick him up and sing him our song (I stole from Wonder Pets) of "Wherever you are, whatever you do, I'll always always come back for you"...and instantly he was calmed down.
L? Well, I'm not getting off even remotely that easy. Every time I have to leave him he comes up to me with his huge brown eyes and says “Momma, I’ll come with you”. He repeats this over and over while he follows me around. Sometimes in a statement, and sometimes in a question begging me to let him come.

I don’t know if it’s the sound of his voice, or the fact that this is the first sentence my quiet son has spoken, but each time he says this it breaks my heart a little more. It’s like a small crack in the wall of an aquarium each time he says it another crack, another one, another one…and I feel with every line it’s going to shatter and the water (or in my case tears) will come out.

I know someday he'll understand. I know he'll learn like J and H that Mommy honestly does not want to go and will be back before you know it. But until then I just have to endure the line, or in reality try and sneak out the door as fast as I can.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Lately, things have been rolling along pretty smoothly. No major issues at work; no major issues at's starting to make me a little nervous!    My daughter is just her same old perky, quirky self.   I have no concerns or complaints about her, other than she is WAY emotional - especially when she feels like someone is making fun of her (usually her brother).   Better yet, I haven't considered calling in an exorcist to deal with my son for at least a week!
    Over the last few weeks I have been polling my friends and colleagues who have boys just to confirm that my son is not really the devil incarnate.  This led to a very interesting conversation with another attorney friend, who has a teenage son.  Not only did he confirm that B's behavior -defiance, testing limits, etc.- is completely normal for his age, but went on to advise that this behavior is not likely to change until he is in his late teens/early 20's.  IN FACT, it might actually get WORSE as he gets older.  He advised that studies have shown that boys actually STOP learning how to be common-sensical when they become teenagers.  They can't help it - their brain stops maturing; so the reason that teenage boys act so dumb is, well, because they ARE so dumb! 
   As frustrating as that makes the future sound, it's actually a relief to me.  There have been times over the last several months where I have consulted professional friends regarding whether B needs psychological intervention.  I work a lot with kids that have been diagnosed with  Oppositional Defiant Disorder and, frankly, see many of those traits in my son at one time or another.  I also work with their parents, and there is nothing so sad as a parent trying to help a kid when it doesn't work.  It is one of my deepest fears that one of my children will have a psychological or psychiatric condition that can not be "cured."  
    So, finding out that B's behavior - no matter how awful, loud, mean and, ultimately pointless (because honestly, does he ever actually WIN? - NO) - is completely normal is a relief.  It also makes the next several years seem less daunting.  He's a smart, willful kid, so I don't see him making this easy on us, but at least I can take comfort (when I am secretly wanting to wring his neck) that he's a normal kid. It makes dealing with the disrespect and conflict a little easier for me to handle. After the confrontation, I don't have to worry that he's literally out of control and how to deal with it; I just have to prepare myself for the next battle. And keep reminding myself that things will get better, things WILL get better...things will get better....(in about 10 years - but that part, I choose to ignore!) 
   So, maybe things are not so much changed at home; I just am dealing with it in a more pragmatic way... Anyway, to all of you out there fighting the fight to raise good, kind boys and men, I commend you! We have our work cut out for us, but I know we can do it!     


Monday, March 12, 2012

The Car Ride

A dark night. A quiet road….the perfect recipe for something to go wrong.

There I was with my family driving home from a night at my parents house. It was  a great night. Todd and I were able to get away for a date night and had a wonderful dinner together. The kids had a blast (as usual) playing with my parents.
So around 8:30 p.m. we packed up everyone in my new van. Last month Todd and I bought a new Honda Odyssey and as all my friends and family know…I’m in love with this van. It’s the first car I have ever bought that is completely loaded. You never know its possible to love a car until you can leave your iPhone in your purse and it magically will play without being plugged in. The love for a new van begins about the time your butt is first warmed by the heated seat....

But I digress. So there we were loading up the van. I put J and H in the way back and buckled them in. I gave them their pillows and blankets as I knew they would certainly pass out from all the fun they had at their Nana and Opa’s house. And as my luck would have it my kids were picky about what blanket they wanted: “I want the Iowa one, that’s my blanket…etc. etc. etc.” So I threw in about every blanket in my van, put on Toy Story on the DVD player. Made sure L was ready to go and off we went.
Now I usually love car rides home at night with my family. My kids usually pass out by the time we pass the Dairy Queen in my small town, and so Todd and I usually just talk or listen to some music. It’s a quiet opportunity to relax, hang out with my husband, and just veg out for the hour long drive.

We got on the interstate. It was pitch black, quiet, calm. I put on my favorite Adele album and Todd and I just talked about random things.

Suddenly a small voice from the back…muffled and quiet came from H.
“What?” I said. It was repeated but I still couldn't hear him. I turned down my stereo and said “WHAT?” again. Still couldn't hear him, so I thought...well I guess it is not that important.

But oh was it important as my little H was warning me about what was to come. About 2.2 seconds later my princess Diva of a daughter was screaming…”EEEWW He’s throwing up…Mommy he’s throwing up”.
It’s about that time, that reality kicked in and I learned the lesson that when a four year old little voice says something you can't hear, make sure you hear it! When my husband turned on the lights in the van, there was H throwing up all over my new van. Luckily we weren’t that far from the gas station and so we pulled over. We pulled in, J was seeking someone to acknowledge that she was wronged as she was thrown up on, Todd said he was starting to feel sick too. Only L and I stayed calm…he because Buzz Lightyear was entertaining him. Me, because well there was no one else.

It was one of those times where you just don’t know where to begin to clean up the mess. Thankfully due to the Blanketgate battle between my kids I had about 5 blankets in the back so the blankets took the brunt force. But still, H had thrown up a lot and it was all over.

About ½ hour later, three trips in and out of the gas station, 2 eye rolls toward my husband when he said they didn’t have cleaners or garbage bags in there, and one “I saved my brother” speech from J after she realized that she alone alerted me to the mess, I had him and the van somewhat cleaned up.

As I held another Walmart bag out for H to again throw up in, my husband walked away and said “I don’t know how you do that” feeling the twinges of his own stomach flu about to hit.

I love when people say that…”I don’t know how you do it”…I mean come on, what were my options? I’m his mother. It’s my job to get puked on apparently. And come on...does the person who's holding the barf bag every really have a choice???

When H finally had a little more color to his cheeks, I walked him into the gas station bathroom to clean up (again). He started to cry. ‘Mommy I ruined your new van”. I can imagine why his tears were so strong. I mean after all, I was still somewhat in the honeymoon phase of my van…you know the phase where you tell everyone they can’t eat or drink in your car, wear their dirty shoes, or climb on the seats. So I bet to my little 4 year old, he thought he committed a cardinal sin that would land him in time out forever.

He was relieved when I just smiled at him and gave him a huge hug. I grabbed his shoulders and said “Hey, no big deal H. I mean you throw up in every one of my cars, so hey at least we got that over with now right?”

Yep, that’s the job of a Mom. We get thrown up on, watch our new car get slimed, and yet, the anger we think we would feel in a situation, we don’t have. All I felt in that situation was helplessness that I still had to get my little boy home and we had 45 minutes to go.
I climbed in the back seat with H, for two reasons: (1) I wanted to comfort him and catch anything else and (2) because I knew J would surely need a therapist if she was forced to get thrown up on again. In the back, I sang to H, rubbed his head, adjusted the large garbage bag we managed to find and drape over H like a bib. I popped Altoids consistently in my mouth to try and drown out the smell.

And you know what? Still in all of that there was no place I’d rather be. We got home just fine. Cleaned up the mess on the kitchen floor that happened after H got sick yet again, tucked him in, and as I hugged him I heard him say his little “I love you Momma”.

There it is. "I love you Momma". If my husband wasn't in the bathroom dealing with his own stomach flu I would have told him those four words right there are the reason why Moms can do what we do. We'll get thrown up on, we'll be tired beyond belief, we'll put up with crabby toddlers...all usually without notice or appreciation. But we do it because of those four words. Plain and simple. 

And yes, I tried to remember this as I spent my Sunday scrubbing up the remains of the joyous car ride with the car wash spot cleaner! 


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Top 5

As I attempted to find time to write my blog post this week, every opportunity/brief opening I had suddenly seemed to fill up with meetings, errands, reports, etc.  For some reason, tasks that should have taken 10 minutes suddenly took an hour.  And things that I delegated soon came right back in my inbox.  Even now, A just came downstairs to see what was going on.  So given this madness, I feel that this post should just be fun! 

I not sure how we got talking about this, but someone began talking about favorite episodes of "older" TV shows - Seinfeld, Friends, etc.  And, of course, someone mentioned the "Top 5" episode from Friends (you know - the one  all consider what five celebrities would be on their "freebie list?).  So today's post is all about who would be on your "freebie list."  (And yes, we are all happily married...but this is just for fun!!)

My top 5 list is:
1. Matthew McConaughey - from Dazed & Confused to his Dolce & Gabbana ads..."alright, alright, alright."  This man looks great in a $3,000 suit, in a pair of ripped jeans ("A Time to Kill) or without a shirt.  Plus, I love his accent.
2. Sean Connery/Pierce Brosnan/James Bond - I have had a huge crush on James Bond ever since I was a little girl.  The cool cars, the style, the confidence.  And who doesn't love Sean Connery's voice?
3. Mark Harmon - I love the tv characters he plays.  Plus, he played QB for UCLA!  And if Scott were to go gray...please be like Mark Harmon!!
4. Aaron Rodgers - QB for the Packers.  Hot guy who loves sports and just seems like a regular guy.  Let's hope he stays on the list longer than the last Green Bay QB. 
5. Any of the hotties from the USA network shows (Matt Bomer from White Collar, Gabriel Macht from Suits, Jeffrey Donovan from Burn Notice or Christopher Gorham from Covert Affairs).  Can you tell what my DVR is set to?  And yes, NCIS also shows reruns on USA too!!

So that's it!  There have been many changes over the years (thank you Brett Favre and Tiger Woods for your scandals!!).  And this list is not static (although Matthew M has always been there). 

How about you?  Who would be in your top 5?  I love the hear what people have to say - there are always surprises!  My favorite one was "David Beckham is my #1, #2, #5, #17, #95 etc." 

I hope this makes you smile :)

Jean Anne

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sacrifices Part II

Okay, I want to preface this Part II with the following: First, I in no way intended to imply that letting your children watch inappropriate television is grounds to have them removed from your care – at least not with the examples that I used. Second, I am not a Saint – I freely admit that I have made my share of bad parenting decisions. Finally, I am IN NO WAY trying to tell people what to do. These are my thoughts only. I am not planning to run for Congress and force my idea of parenting on ANYONE.  Those disclaimers being made…

Sacrifices Part II – The Sacrifices We Make Our Kids Make

        Firstly, I use the word “sacrifices” in this context ironically.  What my kids think is a sacrifice is what I think of as common sense.  What I mean by the title is that I believe we have a duty to our children to tell them “No” and to not allow them to rule the roost.
        This applies to just about every aspect of childhood. “Can I eat cake for breakfast?” – No; “Can I have $20 to buy Pokemon cards?” – No; “Can I play outside in the winter with no coat?” – No.  And, in the interest of full disclosure, at my house these requests are not so kindly made – if they are made at all.  More realistically, it’s either my husband or I catching B sitting in the living room watching cartoons with the candy jar hidden beside him…or outside in the winter without a coat.  Or demanding money for whatever he wants. There is no asking involved…and there’s usually a subsequent argument.  That’s real life.  And it can be ugly and frustrating, but it’s important, I think, that kids learn that instant gratification is not as cool as it seems.
        Goodness knows my kids WANT everything. But what they NEED is to learn that money has value, that people have to work hard to earn the money that they earn and they need to work hard to earn their own money. More importantly, they need tor respect and be grateful to those that do spend money on they things they want.  Without that respect for the difficulty of obtaining cash, kids think they are entitled to anything they want, that there is no reason why they should not and cannot have it, come to expect it as a matter of course.  Now, I'm not naive or "liberal" to the point that I don't see that this applies to adults as well, but that's another topic.
        When it comes to raising children, you have to be mindful of the boundaries, and make sure that the things they do and like are appropriate for them.  My son is 9. If he had his way, he would spend his life watching cartoons and shows about teenagers being rude to their parents and sometimes cruel to each other in the name of comedy on Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.  And while I understand that he s almost a 'tween and that his friends are all watching these shows, I don't think they are appropriate, so I have to say NO. He learns the little sayings and behaviors anyway, but at least I can say that I did not contribute to it!
        But I know that if I did let him watch those shows, or did take him to the Fast and the Furious in his pajamas when he was 2 just because I wanted to see it and happened to have a kid, he would be a LOT worse.
        B also has a chore chart. When he does his chores, he earns $5 per week. I encourage him, but usually don’t force him, to do his chores.  If he does, he gets allowance; if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. Simple. And because he now has some responsibility I can say – “If you want the Pokemon book, you spend your own money. You don’t have enough in your allowance account, yet.” That’s not to say that he doesn’t grouse about it, but he accepts it as a No. –My son hears “No” a lot. He is on the cusp of actually understanding that just because there are credit cards in my purse doesn’t mean they are attached to unlimited amounts of cash.  So when I do buy him something, he is starting to see the value in the gift (I hope).
        Anyway, the moral of the story is that kids need boundaries if they are going to grow up and be socially-conscious human beings that other adults are willing to be around. In my opinion.     

Monday, March 5, 2012


Well, you may have been wondering where I was last week. Exciting cruise? Exotic vacation?


The reason for my blog absence was simple and not nearly as exciting. For the last few weeks I seem to have been taking on yet another job to add to my resume. Mother, Wife, Taxi Driver, Cleaner, Chef, Nurse, Attorney, and (drumroll please)….Saleswoman.
And boy has my Saleswoman life has been in overdrive.

Have you ever noticed that once you become a mother to a pre-school or school aged child you are instantly made a salesperson? I don't have a degree in sales, never been any good at it, yet as a Mom I am forced to be an expert at it. Now don’t get me wrong, I have fond memories of being so excited to earn a heart shaped cassette player or set of fruit flavor smelling erasers after going door to door to sell wrapping paper or summer sausage to my neighbors…but why does it seem like now a days it is so much worse? One fundraiser a year is a lot different than 1 a month.

Now, before you all jump down my throat, I do understand that fundraising is important. But I have to sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to just send a letter home to parents: "Dear Mom and Dad of student, we want to update our school and hey, we don't have the money. So please send a check for $X of dollars so we can keep up with those fancy schools you see on TV. Sincerly, Your School". Trust me after the fundraising stint I have had lately, I would happily rip that check out of the check book and would even add on $20 for not having to look like an idiot walking around selling bread dough. So just ask me for money....I promise I'll give it to you!

From the moment J started school it literally feels like almost every month there is a new fundraiser in her backpack. Pizzas, cookie dough, you name it, they want J to sell it. And because J is only in kindergarten this means that I have to sell it. Not J.

We just finished a stint of the biggest fundraiser we’ve had to date….girl scout cookies. I swear God is paying me back in kind for every hurried trip I had to Wal-Mart and breezed past those little girl scouts standing there selling cookies. J’s troop leader encouraged the girls to hit a goal and thankfully for me J wanted this little stuffed animal thing and only had a goal to sell 150 boxes. Okay, 150 boxes, we can do that right? Actually what I honestly thought was “Okay get my calculator, how much would I have to write a check for if I couldn’t sell them”. So we started selling girl scout cookies. At first it was easy, as Todd works nights at a factory and so those guys were eating them up (literally). But after 75 boxes we hit a stall. Fundraiser Mandi stepped in and my Facebook, emails, and office were filled with “Buy J’s Cookies” speeches and posts. Finally, we sold the last box of Thin Mints and we were done.

Now I’ll be honest, I don’t really mind cookies or stuff like that, but the absolute worse fundraiser out there, the one that makes me cringe every time I unzip the backpack and see it in there is... MAGAZINES. Seriously, who was the person who invented making kids sell magazines? I mean I can't talk my co-worker into buying a box of Caramel Delites, but you think I can convince them to have a year subscription of Better Homes and Gardens for $49.99?  Cookies, bread dough, commitment, but magazines that's a commitment. 
 No joke, J has had 3 magazine fundraisers this year. 3! The only one we did was the girl scout one because I was terrified if I didn’t do it that J would be the only little Daisy up there without a patch. So I emailed my family, begging them to please get a magazine from J. Sure enough we sold them, as I think my family could sense the desperation in my typing. But oh it wasn’t that easy, as now my brother texts me at least once a month telling me that some random Bass Fishing magazine or something he didn’t ordered has filled his mailbox. So now in addition to the sales department I am head of the complaint department as well. Oh how I hate the magazines.

The bad thing all this fundraising has done is that it has just made me mad about them, and so I’ll admit that 3 out of 4 times I don’t even do them. But then I realized that’s not good because every now and then there is a good one I want to help. For example, just as I boycotted all fundraisers I realized almost at the last minute that J was doing Jump Rope for Heart…and that’s a good one. So, I grabbed my check book and instantly wrote out a check. I felt bad I almost missed a good one just because I was so burned out on sales.

The sad thing is that I have 1 child in school now. H is right on her heels and L is a few years away. I can’t even imagine what it will be like when all three are in school. I’m literally going to have to create a facebook page of “I have something to sell, so please buy it”.

So next time you see a fundraiser in your break room at work, or you see a little girl scout at Wal-Mart…do me a favor, buy from them. Not just for the cute little boys and girls selling you stuff you don’t need…but simply for the Mom, as behind each cute face is a stressed out Mom that desperately needs you to buy their stuff so she can stop selling and get on with her life!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Suddenly, It's March

Welcome to March! I know that we had an extra day in February, but sadly, I am still behind. Could it be that we are almost at Spring Break? (And as I type this my lack-of-focus brain thinks – “Spring Break – woo-hoo! Oh wait, I’m not in college anymore!”)

I was supposed to have so much completed by this time:

• New pictures in frames in hallway

• Lose 10 pounds (or at least 5)

• A & B eating healthier

• Better communications with my family and friends (not just the occasional random email)

• New databases at work

• Better filing at work

• Summer “nanny” for A & B

• New recipes for home

• A pedicure

Do you know how many I have completed? One – maybe – if you count that A is asking for bananas rather than Airheads and B is living on yogurt instead of cheese puffs. What happened?

The one that currently concerns me the most is the summer “nanny” for A & B. (I am using quote marks around nanny, because I really hate the term sitter and I typically think of a nanny as also running errands, doing light cleaning, cooking, etc.) At this point, we don’t have any person lined up for the summer to watch A & B. And I am not sure where to go next….

A & B currently have it pretty easy. After school, we have a wonderful person who picks up A & B, and watches them until Hubby and I get home from work. She is great – lets them watch a little TV, helps them with their spelling words, gets them a healthy snack, etc. Plus, she also helps get them ready for swimming, dance, soccer practice, etc. Given the fact that A & B get one-on-one attention (for the most part), this is well worth it (and a lot cheaper than before!).

Unfortunately, she is unable to watch them full time during the summer. Which leaves us with finding someone new. While we have been in our house for almost 8 years, we still somewhat feel “new” to the area and don’t know that many people. Even more difficult is the fact that I am trying to find someone that fits perfectly with my family.

I currently am stuck with trying to find someone responsible who can “haul” A & B around all summer, whether it be to swimming, soccer, softball, dance camp, camps at the SCI or Blank Park Zoo or maybe just spend a day at Adventureland. And I honestly think, most days, they are pretty easy to hang out with.

But, I am not ready to give this responsibility to a 16 year old. Hello – do you remember how you drove when you were 16? And for most of you, the distractions didn’t include texting/IMing while driving. On the other hand, I am not sure a college student I barely know works either.

So all thoughts would be appreciated. What are your plans for your kids this summer?


Jean Anne