July 30, 2010

Guilty Pleasures: TV Edition

I was thinking about writing a guilty pleasures post about everything and nothing and then I realized that I had a ton of TV guilty pleasures that are really worth their own post. My husband LOVES to make fun of me for some of them (okay.. most of them).

I have only about an hour and a half at the end of the night to ever partake in my TV pleasures and I always look forward to them.

1) The Bachelor/The Bachelorette: The show is a total sham, completely ridiculous, a total trainwreck and I cannot stop watching it!

2) Soaps: I confess. I watch The Young and the Restless and All My Children. I grew up with All My Children- my parents watched it religiously every night (taped on the good ol' VCR... actually... I think they still tape it on a VCR...). These shows to most people are the biggest waste of time, and yes, they are a total waste. However. I'm totally addicted. They are a total escape and I love watching them.

3) America's Got Talent: I'm actually watching it on my DVR as I type. Why do I love this show? Because it is total raw talent of ALL ages, people, genres. I get a little bored with Idol and So You Think You Can Dance because it is so recycled- same stuff over and over. On America's Got Talent, you never know what you're going to get! I love the guy playing Soul Sister on the harmonica!!

4) Wipeout: What can I say? A giant obstacle course where people bounce off of stuff. How could you not enjoy that? My 2 year old LOVES it.

5) Hell's Kitchen: Nothing better than watching a bunch of wannabe chefs get chewed out on a weekly basis. The only downside? The show makes me hungry.

6) Desperate Housewives/Brothers & Sisters/Grey's Anatomy/Private Practice: Need I say more? Is the fall season back yet?

7) Awards Shows: Specifically... the red carpet. I have to see what all the gals are wearing and of course critique. I often wonder how I survived the red carpet before Twitter.

8) E!News/Entertainment Tonight: I have an unhealthy addiction to celeb gossip. Nuff said.

9) America's Next Top Model: Somehow I'm still watching this show?? It was fun to watch a local MN girl not to mention a Concordia St. Paul alum go so far this past season. I watched it for her!

10) Idol/SYTYCD: These have dropped to the bottom position on my list. The past few seasons of Idol have been pretty sleepy. As a singer myself, I can't not watch. I love to see some of the raw talent that is out there. I still love So You Think You Can Dance- I'm amazed by people who can dance like this. I miss Mary Murphy this season though.

So this is my embarrassing list of TV guilty pleasures! What are YOUR TV guilty pleasures?

July 27, 2010

Picking My Battles

As my son is entering into the heart of toddlerdom, I find myself saying all the time "I have to pick my battles." What does that mean? That means picking and choosing with my son which things to say no to (i.e. extreme danger) or which things to let go (i.e. throwing his crayons one by one across the room until the box of 48 is empty). It is official: we have entered into the terrible twos. Most days are pretty good, but when he is the least bit cranky? Watch out. I've had punches thrown at me, toys thrown at my head, I've seen stomping feet and headbanging... We'll just say that my child is, what's the politically correct term that is being used this day in place of devil child? Oh, right. Spirited.

Like I said, most days are pretty good. I really do have a sweet little boy and as we get to know him and his personality better, we are slowly being able to control him and recognize exactly the things that are going to piss him off. We truly think that he knows exactly how to work us though and knows when he is doing something naughty (he looks around to see if we are looking with that mischievous look on his face). We have noticed that the tantrums are becoming more frequent and it feels like we are having to say NO to just about everything in which he replies back "NO NO NO" twice as loud and twice as long. So, I've decided to consult the experts. I purchased awhile ago "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" after having pretty great success with "The Happiest Baby on the Block". Apparently just because we did the first book doesn't mean we graduate- it means we move on to the next book. I'm not entirely sold on the techniques in the book (Fast Food Rule and Toddler-ese). He does say it'll be awkward, but, that it slowly becomes easier and of course, he swears it works. I figure, what do I have to lose? I plan to give it a try and although it won't ever stop the tantrums, it will at least cut down the amount of time we have to endure them. I will definitely keep everyone posted on our progress in this department.

With any luck, tonight I will get THIS happy toddler when I get home:

Moms, what techniques do you use to settle your toddler's tantrums?

July 23, 2010

NOW I get motivated

So as November 6th draws near, and yes, it is drawing near, my bridesmaid's dress freak out begins. I have been doing the half-assed version of working out: doing enough to satisfy my guilt, but not enough to make a difference. So, over the past couple weeks, I have stepped it up. Shaking up some of the cardio by doing bike rides, I took the dog for a walk last night... It's time to really ENJOY the summer! The great thing, is that my half-assed version did start working over time and I was seeing slow changes in my body. Since I've stepped it up, the changes have been sudden and rapid (not to mention my little food poisoning stint was a nice little kick start). THIS excites me. Seeing progress makes me want to work harder and keep going. Just as a little sneaky peak, this is the style of dress I will be wearing for the wedding, only mine is in the color mocha. While this dress is flattering overall, I can still see some overhang issues under the arms and the back. Yikes. I've been following the Buff Brides program (which I did when I was a blushing bride). I liked it back then and I like it now because it focuses on on the spots that really matter when wearing a gown (arms, chest, back, abs) but doesn't forget about the other parts to help you get ready for a honeymoon. I'll look at that as just as added bonus that I can now put on shorts without being totally horrified at my legs. Anyway, my get fit journey continues on and I refuse to give up this time around.

I can't forget to talk about my latest thoughts on my big decision: continue working or become a SAHM. The latest to add to the positive and negative chart: Jack's daycare. His school, The Primrose School is phenomenal. Expensive? Yes. When we made the decision to put our son in Primrose, I about gagged at the cost ($335/week for infants) but my husband and I both agreed that putting him in the best program getting educational value from the start would be the best thing and we would pay top dollar for it. Not to brag, but last night at dinner, he spouted out the entire ABC's including "Now I know my ABC's, Next time won't you sing with me." No shit. My husband and I were jumping up and down cheering him on. Why? He isn't even 2 yet! WTH? Either my son is ridiculously gifted or, we can chalk it up to the awesomeness of Primrose. Perhaps it is a little bit of both, but we give Primrose an incredible amount of credit in his development. At the risk of ripping on myself a little bit, I just am not entirely sure he would be who he is if it weren't for Primrose. I feel like pulling him out of this school could be a bad choice and could disrupt his progress. I also suddenly feel incredibly selfish. Boo-hoo, I hate my job, so what? I'm just gonna quit? Throw a tantrum? Yank my kid out of GREAT nurturing environment in which he is thriving? How fair is that? I'm one of the lucky ones who HAS a job. I watched my former boss struggle for 8 months looking for a job supporting his two little girls on his mere unemployment check. My situation really could be worse. Shouldn't I just suck it up and deal with it for my kid's sake? If he were in a not so good daycare environment, this would be a much easier decision for me to make. But really, this decision seems to be turning into a selfish ME ME ME situation.

No, I haven't come close to making a decision yet but it helps to be able to vent some of my thoughts about it. Come November, I will lay all of this out on the table. Hopefully before then I will have an epiphany and be able to make a decision I can be at peace with both for me and my family.

July 22, 2010

Where Did My Hobbies Go?

This is a picture of the Our Lady of Victory Chapel at St. Catherine University in St. Paul. Beautiful, right?

I get the honor of singing at this Chapel for my brother's wedding on November 6th and I could not be more excited. One of the little known facts about me is that I am a professionally trained singer. I took private vocal lessons all the way through high school and college, won numerous awards and got to travel the country singing with my college choir. Why did I do it? Because I LOVED it. No other reason. I had no intention of making a career out of it. I was involved with music because it brought me joy.

In reconnecting with friends from high school and college via our good friend Facebook, I get asked all the time, "Why on earth are you not doing anything in music?" My answer used to be that I chose not to get into the music profession because of the high competition and and low pay. My excuse then turned into lack of time and that I now creatively express myself through Marketing. Now... I just don't know why. I do know that I miss it. I miss being in a choir. I miss playing the piano. I miss playing flute. And how is this for a shocker: I've been dating/married to my husband for 8 years. He has never heard me sing or make music other than the mild humming I might do along to a song or singing lullabies to Jack when he was a tiny little baby. He has never seen me perform! I think he thinks that I'm making my talent up! I find this extremely sad, but it is also directly related to my ever-growing lack of self-confidence. What if he thinks I suck? What if I am one of those people who think I'm really good but actually really suck (think American Idol auditions...). Then it dawned on me. I wouldn't have been able to be a part of my college choir or been asked to sing at weddings and church if I didn't have talent. Given my current employment woes, it makes me wonder if music could be my savior should I decide to stay home with my munchkin. If I could fit it in and make it a part of my life, I truly think it could fill my professional/career desires.

I used to call music my hobby. However, it is so much more than that. It is my passion and I would love to make it an everyday part of my life. What the heck am I waiting for? 

So I ask: Is there something that you were involved in and passionate about growing up that you wish you were still doing now?

July 21, 2010

Fresh New Look. Fresh New Perspective

I thought I would freshen up my blog a little to make it a little easier to read and, well a little more girly- just like me!

As I continue on my journey to my big decision at the end of the year I'm still flip-flopping all over the place. I've been reaching out to all of the stay at home moms that I know trying to get some perspective and inspiration. My most recent response came from a family member who, while I totally appreciate her response and honesty, confused me even further.

She is now a stay at home mom and used that time to go back to school. She now has her Masters Degree in Education and is still a stay at home mom. She struggles with the same thing I am struggling with in terms of making this huge decision: balance. If I give up my career, will I ever get it back? If I give up my career, will I regret it? Will I be as fulfilled as a mom as I am as a marketing professional? Soooo many questions that I don't even know where to begin to find the answer. I feel like the only way to know the truth is to take the plunge and try. I have always been a career girl, so I really don't know anything else other than to work. Considering the level of bitchy I am when I come home at night, I'm thinking this may not necessarily be that big of a loss. My biggest fear in leaving my job is what happens if I want to go back to work in 5-10 years? If I stop now will I have to start over from scratch later? Do I have to give up my career altogether? This is the point where I wish I could see into the future.

The other side of my decision comes with growing my family. We have always wanted to have 2 kids. The daycare I am ever so in love with now, we will not be able to afford to have a 2nd kid there. So, before I came to my revelation that my job was making me a miserable witch, we decided to put #2 on hold (which makes me chuckle considering the amount of time it took to get pregnant with #1). Let's face it. I'm no spring chicken here. I turn 35 in less than a year, and as all women know, that is the magical medical number when you're considered wicked old in terms of child-bearing regardless that it is pretty commonplace in the society which we live today. I hate the idea of waiting. I'm so ready to complete my family and I don't want to wait anymore! I didn't mention that, because of the new lack of flexible schedule in my current work environment, being pregnant again here would be virtually impossible between appointments and god forbid, additional appointments if I should develop PIH again. My former boss had mercy on me with my first and at the end of the day, just wanted me and baby to be safe and healthy. Man I miss working for him.

So I put this question out there to the universe:
Are you a mom who left their career behind to stay home with the kids? How did you come to your decision? What do you love the most about it? What are your biggest challenges? What advice do you have in terms of making this decision?

July 19, 2010

Master Step and Soul Searching

As you all know, I have been working hard on my fitness. I've had the usual setbacks between wickedly bad cramps, a husband away on vacation and most recently, food poisoning. While yes, I lost 5 pounds from my food poisoning adventure and have gained a fear of eating out, I really don't recommend that form of weight loss plan to anyone. I am to be a bridesmaid in just a few short months, my final fitting and alterations taking place in a mere month and a half. Not much time, right? Regardless of the fact that I have to wear a strapless, show everything possible around the midsection dress, I really do want to get back to the old me. For a period of about a good 6 years, I was healthy and in shape. After having Jack, it hasn't been that easy to find my groove. I went to Master Step for the first time in a long time over the weekend and I learned the reason why you should never stop once you get started: IT HURTS!!! Two days later and my calves are still screaming at me in agony not to mention my being rusty at the choreography- I'm sure I looked like an ass at this class not to mention I think I annoyed the girl next to me (10 minutes into class, she moved her step away from mine... nice). Despite some of my setbacks, regardless of how great the excuse, the determination is there.

Soul searching. I am taking the next few months or so to really search my soul and try and determine whether or not being a SAHM is the right thing for me. That said, if I wasn't willing to give things up to have kids, then maybe I should reconsider my choice to be a parent in the first place. Seeing that my career (at least in my current job) is on the fast track to nowhere, this really should be an easy choice, right? Truth is, I love what I DO at my job, I'm just not a fan of the politics. I definitely think I've come to the conclusion that Jack's daycare is not the be all and end all and I truly think, as long as I stick to my guns about early education, that he could be just as smart as well-adjusted in my care. I've taken some time to research some early preschool options in my area (very part-time, like 2 days a week) and like what I see not to mention that most of the programs are Christian programs which is hugely important to me. As you can see, the more I begin to actually consider staying home as an option, the more I like it. I have always hated that Monday-Friday I only have 10 hours with him. That's it. 10 hours in 5 days. Even when Jack becomes school age, it would be great to be able to be home for him when he gets off the bus. It's not to say that I won't go back to work someday when my kids get into their teens and no longer "need" me to be there. I'm still on the fence. I'm still thinking about it. I flip-flop my thoughts on this every day, so expect me to write more and more of my thoughts on the issue as I prepare to make this huge decision this fall.

On another note, we bought a bike trailer this weekend and Jack absolutely LOVES it! Here's a little picture treat for today:

July 16, 2010

Making The Tough Decision

For what might be the millionth time since having Jack nearly two years ago, I am once again getting the itch to be a stay at home mom (SAHM). 

When I had Jack, I promised myself that if work ever stopped being fun or fulfilling that I would very seriously consider staying at home with him. Since last fall when a lot of dirty politics went down at my office, I have been fairly miserable. My former boss and I had an understanding. We both had small children. He understood that my husband traveled (not the case anymore thank god). He didn't nickel and dime for for needing to leave a 1/2 hour early to get home to be with my boy or take him to his hundredth ENT appointment. He GOT what it meant to be a working parent (he's divorced, so he's actually a single parent). The bottom line was, he treated me like a professional. He trusted me to get my work done. That said, under his management, I excelled at my work. When he was fired (a whole other story that I won't get into), I was left to a micro-manager in every sense of the term. I can no longer take off to be able to pick my son up at a reasonable time or take him to the doctor. I have to take PTO for every minute spent outside of the office, and yes, I am being watched and it is being tracked. I was told it is because if we aren't here working in our offices 24/7 then it is possible that marketing jobs could be on the chopping block. My ideas are constantly thrown out, yet in my review, I'm told I don't generate enough new ideas? The hypocrisy is unreal and frankly, confusing. Perhaps it works to take that approach with someone new to keep them on their toes, but I've been in my position for 3 years and I work extremely hard from the minute I come in to the minute I leave often eating my lunch in my office while continuing to work. I guess at the end of the day, I just yearn to be treated like a seasoned professional rather than a high school student and simply be trusted to get my work done and do an awesome job at it. I feel like when I have to worry about things like what time I come and go or whether someone is watching me, that my work suffers. Can you tell I'm unhappy? Yeah, I'm unhappy.

That is why I feel it might just be time. I'm just not sure that looking for a new job necessarily will fix what I feel is true in my heart: that working takes me away from my son and I miss him terribly all day long. My biggest concern has been that I absolutely adore his daycare and the care he gets there, not to mention the education and the fact that he has FRIENDS there. Is it selfish of me to want to take him out of there? Am I not giving myself enough credit to say that I could ensure he would be as smart and well-adjusted under my care?

I have a million questions and a ton of soul searching to do. I plan to stick it out until the end of the year, but I will inevitably have a decision made within the next few months. I have that nervous/scared/excited feeling that something huge is coming and regardless of my choice? It will be a good thing for my entire family.

July 09, 2010

My Adrenaline Rush

I know I have been absent. With my husband out of town for 5 days last week, and the holiday, it has been a crazy couple of weeks.

Recently, it came to my attention that Dean McDermott, aka Tori Spelling's husband, was in a motorcycle accident. He's come under a lot of fire from people asking the question: do you give up your right to live dangerously and take risks when you have children? In my ever-so-humble opinion. YES. When I had my son, it changed everything from the way I drive to how I react to severe weather.

During my husband's man trip, some pretty severe weather came through my neighborhood. It was getting dark out around 8:30pm and my kiddo was already tucked away in bed. The lightning was getting worse and close which was scary enough, but not necessarily enough to make me hit the basement. My husband called out of concern from the sheer number of severe weather alert texts he was getting and I asked, "At what point should we go in the basement?" Simultaneously with his response, a tornado warning was issued and the sirens in my neighborhood began to go off. I said, "Now would be a good time," and I hung up on him. With my heart racing, I ran up to grab Jack out of his crib and we headed to the basement and turned on the news. Seeing that none of the stations thought it was important to be reporting on a potential TORNADO, I calmed down a bit. Thankfully, my sister-in-law had stayed with me to help out over the weekend so I wasn't totally alone. We waited out the warning and when it officially expired and we were in the clear, we headed to bed. Jack slept soundly the entire time.

My second terrifying home alone moment came a few days later. As I was turning off lights, locking doors, turning the alarm on and about to head up the stairs, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye at the front door. I was too scared to look at the door but stood frozen to the floor. The dog either sensed my panic or saw the same thing because she started barking which she NEVER does. No, really, our dog does not bark at anything. That freaked me out. What further increased my terror was her running to the door and watching her ears paste back, back hair stand on end and her growling with that low, angry dog growl. The moment passed and she turned and headed upstairs, curled up on the bed and was completely unfazed by what just happened. I on the other hand was still terrified. I texted and attempted a call to my husband who did not return my frantic messages for 45 minutes. He reminded me of the plan. If there were ever an intruder in the house and the alarm goes off to grab Jack, hit the panic button, call 911 and lock ourselves deep into the master closet. The mere thought of ever having to put this plan together scares the living bejeezus out of me.

These two incidents were about all the adrenaline rush I could need anytime soon. I'm not a big daredevil by any means, but I think my days of sitting out on the porch as severe weather rolls in are long gone. My son's safety is of course of primary importance; but, I have to keep myself safe and healthy for him!
 
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