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The Happy Mommy Project

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Last Wednesday I dropped both kiddos off at preschool and a strange sensation washed over me as I drove away alone. I smiled as I recognized the feeling. It was unbridled happiness brought on by emancipation. I was free to do whatever I wanted for the next 5 hours. This was a first in I can't even remember how long. The thought made me so giddy that I got an endorphin rush and promptly passed out for two hours on the coach. Seriously. Then I met up with Caroline Paul (author of Lost Cat: Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology. I give it two paws up!) for coffee and conversation. It was thrilling to talk to another adult about something other than diaper rash, daycare, or Dora.

In the blink of an eye it was time to pick up the kids. Another weird feeling crept up over me as I steered the car down the interstate. I felt level. The usual stress and exhaustion of caring for my kids all day was missing and I was relaxed. The feeling gave way to excitement see my kids because I missed them. My voice was light as I asked Marlie about her day. I noticed that I was not annoyed when she lagged behind and took forever to get in her car seat. I noticed I was not snapping at them during chaos of making dinner and getting them ready for bed. I was in a good mood!

By Serge Melki from Indianapolis, USA (YepUploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I got a satisfying taste of mommy/me balance and I want more. every day. I don't want to take drugs to be a better mom. and I don't ever want to become a mom who regrets having a family. I have been working with my shiatsu therapist on identifying and alleviating my depression triggers. For instance:

  • not getting enough sleep makes me grumpy
  • feeling overwhelmed and crowded makes me grumpy
  • being rushed makes me grumpy
  • neglecting myself makes me grumpy
  • feeling invisible and unheard makes me grumpy
  • being taken for granted makes me grumpy

I sound like a victim with no say in her life, no wonder I am in a perpetual bad mood! The good news is I do have control over my life and self-determination. The rigors of motherhood are always going to be there. I need coping techniques! So I am making "ME" the focus of my new project. The objective is to turn myself into a happy mom, one whose default setting is a good mood and whose family enjoys being around her. It begins with listing the things that make me happy and then doing them:

What makes me happy: How to make it happen:
having time for myself makes me happy carve out alone time to pursue my interests like writing and reading
taking care of myself makes me happy Exercise regularly and go to bed early
doing something nice for myself makes me happy Make 1 out of 10 things I do daily just about me
getting help when I get overwhelmed makes me happy Ask for help when there is too much on my plate and don't take no for an answer
making others happy makes me happy spend more time playing with my kids and start volunteering

Simple, right?! What makes you mom happy?

Review: Nui Organics 100% cotton kids clothing

Monday, April 22, 2013

You know I a HUGE supporter of Eco-fashion. So I happily accepted an opportunity to review Nui Organic's line of organic cotton apparel for children from newborn to 6 years old.

The collection includes organic essentials like onesies, sleep bags, tights and tees, but also sportswear and darling heavier weight cotton sweaters. In the Fall and Winter they carry fabulous merino wools from t-shirt weight to thicker gauge knits (peak at their online lookbook). The best part is that everything is 100% organic and certified by the Global Organic Cotton Standard (GOTS). I selected this Weymouth Terry Playsuit in Gold for Marlie. It's breathable and itch-free, so perfect for the warm weather. Plus she looks muy fashionista!
organic cotton terry jumper
price: $34. Also comes in sky stripes and teal. Free shipping on orders over $100.

Ever since a popular television spot crowned cotton the fabric of our lives I have been educating myself on cotton production. Cotton fabric has been used to make clothing as far back as the prehistoric era but this natural material is now being grown and manufactured with toxic chemicals. The residue from these chemicals get absorbed through your skin and can harm your health. They are also bad for the environment.

Nui Organics is improving the environmental impact of cotton by using 100% certified organic cotton and sustainably sourced merino wools. Nui is an Austin based brand founded by Amanda Searanke, an eco-conscious expat New Zealander and mom. In Maori, the native language of New Zealand, 'nui' means 'big' or 'important' hence the name Nui Organics. They believe a clean start is a big thing for a little person. No harsh chemicals for your child, or their planet.

You can help support organic textile manufacturing by shopping at Nui Organics and receive your package via carbon neutral shipping!

 photo img_reviewgiveawaydisclosure_zps6aa41ede.jpg

Transitions. Or, Who Moved My Macaroni and Cheese?!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I bet you all thought I had abandoned my blog after two weeks of silence. I wouldn't blame you if you abandoned me in return. If you still subscribe or follow me on other social media then you saw me reappear over the weekend.

I'm back, but things are different. Change is coming folks and I have been busy bracing for it. And, no, I'm not pregnant.

As an adolescent nothing filled me with more anxiety and dread than unexpected change: divorce, death, the birth of yet another sibling. I felt helplessly and hopelessly at the whim of the adults in charge who constantly sprung big changes on me without so much as a warning and never bothered to ask me how I was handling all the upheavals in my little world.

The constant seismic shifting made me into an adult who is very sensitive to change. I hate daylight savings, and I don't like the change in seasons! It would be springtime all year if it were up to me. Planning, preparation, predictability are my good luck charms. I can handle change as long as I am given advanced notice and I have time to ease into it. Better yet, I am golden if I have say in it.

So much is about to change that I had to pause to make sure my kids were ready for the transitions. The biggest change is my return to the workforce. I have been talking to Marlie about this in a casual way in an effort to make it as seamless as possible. This, after all, is the child you freaked out when I switched her toothpaste. As I got dressed for an interview last Friday she asked me if I was going to work. I don't think she has ever seen me wearing business attire. I was thrilled that she accepted me out of my mommy clothes and I let out a sigh of relief that the idea of me going to work seemed natural to her. But then again, nothing in her life has been displaced so far since I haven't been hired yet. I still take her to school, pick her up, make her dinner every weeknight, chauffeur her to play dates and activities. Will she still be as good-natured when we have to give up our standing Friday play date? Or when she is eating left overs?

Desmond is taking the changes the hardest and rightfully so. Last Monday, he started his transition into child care. The school requires a trial period to gauge his readiness. I stay with him during this time as he gets used to the new faces and surroundings. It's been slow going, but he is staying longer each visit while I watch him from the observation room. On top of all this, he has spent the entire night, every night since last Monday in his crib instead of curled up next to me. It's been rough going, but his daddy dutifully goes in and massages him back to sleep each time he wakes up and starts to cry. It doesn't help that he has a cough waking him up frequently. I am thinking maybe I should let him co-sleep again until he's settled at preschool. It's a lot for a baby to adapt to.

Lastly, this blog is going to undergo some changes. For one, I don't feel the need to make weekly reports on the kids anymore now that they are 1 and 3.7. I would love to write more anecdotal posts about them that tell stories versus quick updates. I am aching to make this blog a journal again. I am envisioning less reviews/giveaways and maybe even a move to WordPress with a re-design. I am still thinking it through so it's not going to happen overnight.

So, that is what's been going on. Lots of change to look forward to, but I am ready.

The Hottest Looks for Spring 2013 From the Macy's Men's Style Event

Monday, April 15, 2013

A working blogger's work is never done. Just this past Saturday I had to drag myself over the Bay Bridge to San Fransisco to attend the Macy's Men's Style Event and watch modeling hopefuls get their pictures taken for DETAILS Magazine's casting call. sigh. I also picked up some sartorial tips for my man when I wasn't ogling the eye candy. It was such hard work, LOL!

Seriously though, there is something special about potentially being witness to someone's dreams coming true. Each candidate was so handsome and debonair. I would hate love to be on the judging panel that selects the lucky winner who gets to be a feature model in DETAILS June/July issue. Who knows, this could be their big break into fashion modeling.

DETAILS Magazine casting call
Is this the face of DETAILS magazine casting call winner?!

The folks at Macy's were on hand to review the fashion trends for men this season. The look is called Modern Minimalist. I interpret that to mean investing in a dozen or so quality pieces that you can mix and match. Bold, bright colors are also in this Spring. I even saw some shoes with pops of color in them. This is a welcome departure from the white boat shoes and brown sandals you see this time of year.

Check out the cool looks for men this spring. Don't you love all the color?!

I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post about Macy's Men's Style. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

GoGreenMarketplace.com Coupon

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Coupon Code: earthday2013
Expires: April 26, 2013
Deal: 20% off entire purchase at Gogreenmarketplace.com

Happy 1st Birthday Desmond!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dear Desmond,

One year ago I was blessed to give birth to the surprise gift that is you and our family became complete. You came into the world so quietly that the doctor massaged you to make sure you were okay, but that is just your way. Even now, you only make noise when you need to. You cracked your first crooked grin a couple of hours later and you've been smiling ever since. You are the cheese in our ham sandwich.
birthday collage
We all marveled at the breakneck pace at which you developed over these last 12 months. You sat up at 4 months, crawled at 6 months and walked at 9 months. It feels to foolish to call you a baby when you are more like a mini superhuman. Your freakish strength is sometimes a challenge like when I am trying to change your diaper, but you never fight me to take a bath. We nicknamed you The Hulk because you can go from sweet, docile baby boy to mean, destructive mutant in a split second when someone or something makes you mad. It just takes a hug from mama to calm you down and you are back to your sweet self.

You love to eat, play with trucks, the basketball, blocks, and watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. But above all this you love your big sister and look up to her with those big eyes as dark and brilliant as two chocolate diamonds. I can tell you think she hung the moon and you follow her around like a puppy. Your eyes light up when we pick her up from preschool and you wiggle out of my arms to go to her. I know sometimes she acts like she can't be bothered with you, but she loves you to pieces. She proudly tells everyone that you are her her baby brother. In the last month you two have become closer and started to really play together. Sometimes you two fight over toys (or who gets to sit in my lap), but the beef usually only lasts as long as a commercial break.
birthday collage
You and me have been road dogs for the last year, a journey that has taken us to a new city, new home, and new friends. You've been my constant companion through it all. I rarely went anywhere without you strapped to my chest in your carrier. You helped me with the transition more than you'll ever know. I relish the fact that I can always decipher your baby babble or your facial expressions. It's like we have our own secret language. My heart soared when you first started calling me mom. I hope we will always have this special bond.

You were supposed to start school yesterday because I am plotting my return to the workforce. But since we all have a bad cold, everyone stayed home. I can say without feeling guilty that I am happy for the extra snuggle time. It's proving harder to let you go since you are my youngest (and last). I am sorry that you are sick on your first birthday. We are going to try and make this a happy day for you with a homemade Mickey Mouse shaped cake.

Happy birthday my son. I love you to the the farthest star and back, and I can't wait to see how much you grow in the next year!
Desmond street sign
you are so special they named a street after you!

How Much Should Parents Be Saving for Their Kid's College Fund?

Monday, April 1, 2013

The answer I received from a MassMutual Financial Adviser surprised me--it depends on each family's financial situation.

Like all moms I want to make sure that my son and daughter can pay for their higher education and I have been feeling guilty for not having college funds already set up. But according to Court Creeden, a Financial Representative with MassMutual, putting $50-$100/month into a college savings plan without looking at the big picture is not the best way to secure my children's future.

The big picture means figuring out if you are in a place to save for college right now. Do you have outstanding liabilities like credit card debt with high interests rates? Are you contributing enough in your retirement account? Do you have the necessary life and disability insurance to cover expenses in case of an unexpected tragic event? Is your emergency savings enough? If the answer is no, then you are best served holding off on the 529 plan until your financial house is in order.

If this sounds backwards to you, then welcome to the club. I am from the school of thought that puts my kids first even if it means I have to sacrifice what I want. But after talking to Court my attitude changed a bit (at least when it comes to finances. I am still giving my kid a kidney if s/he needs it).

Court says the best thing parents can do for their kid's future is to be financially fit themselves. He used a pretty effective analogy to illustrate this point. On a plane you are instructed to secure your oxygen mask first in the event of an emergency before you help your child. Makes sense, right? The last thing your child needs is for her parents to wind up living in their car so she can graduate from law school. As Court put it, "there are no loans and scholarships for retirement."

With so many competing priorities, it's hard to know where to begin. You could try guesstimating a financial plan and get most of it wrong or a better idea would be to sit down with a professional financial adviser who will take the guesswork out of the equation and help parents come up with the right financial formula for their family. Take this cool quiz to learn about your financial personality and get useful tips on becoming more financially savvy. My results indicate that I am a "knowledge craver," someone with the desire to take charge of my family's finances, but who feels there isn't enough time.

This is the year my husband and I recommit to our financial plan. We had one before the kids were born, but it hasn't been updated or followed in a long time. I would like to become more involved in the process, even in a small way and I am going to make that my goal.

Take the Quiz
Disclosure: I wrote this post as participation in in a blog tour for Mom Central on behalf of MassMutual and received compensation in the form of an Amazon gift code to thank me for taking the time to participate.
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