Overrated: ALL Clear and Free Laundry Detergent

Hola!

Know what’s overrated? ALL’s Clear and Free Laundry Detergent. I used it for years when my kids were little babies. I was part of the new mom group that lacked the confidence to just do things my own way. I was scared into using anything that wasn’t ‘free and clear’ of literally everything. Perfumes, dyes, harsh soaps, mineral oil, lavender, baby powder, common sense, etc. You know the drill. You announce your pregnancy and expect to spend the next few months of the first trimester glowing and day dreaming of your new little squish. You linger in the baby isles not knowing if you are expecting a boy or a girl but adorning over the tiny little things that fit newborns. And that lasts all but an hour. Ha! Yes, literally after I announced my very first pregnancy a friend IMMEDIATELY sent me a text containing critical advice. She didn’t even let me enjoy it for a full 60 seconds before sucking me back down to earth. Bitch.

And that was just the beginning.

I was scared into using products and not using products that sent my head spinning and my self-confidence down the drain. Included in those scare tactics was ALL Free and Clear Laundry Detergent. I’ll admit…it doesn’t have a scent and it’s not supposed to. But let me spell out what that means for you and your clothes.

You will smell like what is in your house.

Have dogs? I guarantee that’s what you smell like…a dog. Have cats? That too. Have a smoker? Yep, you guessed it.  It does the job of keeping perfume and dyes out of the wash…but it leaves the wash open to absorbing what it is surrounded by. And even if you can’t smell it the rest of us can. I promise you. Do yourself a favor and throw this crap in the garbage.

You’re welcome. 

Now rewash the dog smell out of your entire wardrobe.

Dye free is not for me,

Your Mediocre Mom

Verse of the Week: Matthew 11:28

 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Amen. Can we just take a moment to say Amen to this? He sure knows the labor of the mother, no matter if she is away at work, working at home, or a stay-at-home mom. He knows. And He will give us rest. Amen. Focus on that this week. Focus on the rest He gives us.

Short-Cuts for Everything

 

Hey there. If you are like me, you often take short-cuts for everything. You don’t know you’re doing it but trust me…we both do it. Here are a few…

  1. Cleaning:

Oh honey this is a BIG one! Admit it. When you sweep you don’t clean the baseboards. When you clean the bathroom you don’t dust the lights above the sink. When you add a load to the washing machine you don’t wet a dirty item in the load to wipe the inside of the washing machine lid clean. Let’s face it. We ALL take short-cuts when cleaning. Here are a few more lazy ways to clean….I mean ingenious ways to appear that you’ve cleaned well. Ha!

Use a carpet freshening powder.

Why not? Don’t give me that crap about the  baby crawling around on residual chemicals. Sprinkle that shit on the carpet and quickly run the vacuum. Your husband will come home thinking you’ve washed everything including the curtains. Trust me. I have two toddlers and an inside dog (black Lab). If anyone’s house usually stinks it’s mine! This stuff makes the surrounding rooms smell glorious, too. And it lasts for 3 days. Voila!

Clorox Wipes

Or whatever brand you use. Forget the dusting spray and old rags….use a clorox wipe on everything!! Like, EVERYTHING! Run a few of those bad boys on every surface in the room. It literally takes less than 3 minutes and they smell good.

The “junk box.”

Yep, we could all have one if we followed this tip. Forget the junk drawer. Let me introduce you to the “crap! a visitor is on the way over!” junk box. It’s when you take an empty diaper box and run through the house (okay, really just the three rooms your guests will see) and throw everything that needs to be put away, in the box. Every piece of mail still laying out, misplaced toys, misplaced dirty socks, misplaced anything….throw it in the box then stash the box. The good thing about this is, you can always walk around the house with the box putting things back where they belong. I once got so behind on tidying my clutter that each member of the family had their own junk box. Yeah, gross. I will give you one warning with this one, though. When you remove all the clutter you will see that you need to dust. See the info above about Clorox wipes to quickly deal with that.

The dog.

Yep, I said it. My furry old lady loves to quickly clean up after the children’s delicious droppings of crumbs, nuggets, and even greasy finger prints left on….anything. And sometimes when I don’t have to time to mop right away I’ll call my old faithful friend and she quickly helps me out until I can get to that mopping. I’ve even caught her cleaning the baby’s face a time or two. Ha!

2. Food/Cooking:

Watering down.

Okay yall, this one makes me laugh, but gosh dawg kids can put down some juice! Fill that sippie cup half-way or 1/3 with water and make that crap last longer. Geeze! Sweet tea drinkers? Do yourself a favor and let them drink half-n-half.  (Half sweet tea, half unsweet) Or cut the amount of sugar in half that you put into the tea to begin with. That last tip is a cardinal sin in my family, so we let the kids drink stevia sweetened tea. Ah, nothing like pumping our kids’ kidneys and livers with chemically processed crap. I mean, if it’s all going to cause cancer at least I can tell the doctor where to check first. (Totally not funny. Sort of.)

***Let me make a VERY IMPORTANT announcement here…..Never ever and I mean NEVER dilute/water down formula or breastmilk. Never. It messes up the level of electrolytes and is very very dangerous for the baby’s body to process.***

“Portion Control”

When you have two chicken breasts and four folks, cut those babies in half and give the lecture about working more on “portion control.” Just be prepared to circumvent the response you get next time they all get a full chicken breast. I have one prepared you can borrow….”I still want us to watch portion control, but sometimes I just love you so much I want to be generous every now and then.” Boom.

Crock-Pot

Come on. If you aren’t using this one already at least twice a week you are killing yourself. Please, Mama. Save yourself some sanity and use your crock pot! Bonus if you make a meal that can be doubled or tripled for other meals throughout the week. (Ex. Chicken chili can be eaten as chili, chicken tacos, chicken nachos, or even cold on a salad.) I have been using my crock-pots for years and finally bit the bullet and used the liners. I LOVE CROCK POT LINERS! Everyone hates cleaning the crock pot. Now we don’t have to. Win-win.

3. Laundry

Okay, if someone in your house just has stink-butt syndrome, these may not work for you. But most are pretty typical.

Re-hang/Re-use.

Sometimes, if my family just leaves the house for a couple of hours, like to go to church. I will spray a light mist of febreeze on our jeans, pants, sweaters, dress shirts, dresses and hang them back up. Laundry is a never ending task anyway. Take short cuts and keep your clothes looking good, too.

When I was a newly wed I couldn’t understand why we went through so many bath towels. Almost 5 years and two kids later I still have to sneak around to do this one. Hang your shower/bath towels up and reuse them the next day. Guess what? They were clean when you first used it and you only used it AFTER you got clean yourself. It’s not technically dirty. Hang it back up and it will be dry to use the next morning. Even with the kids, they only get carried to their rooms in them, they aren’t getting dirty! If the lightly used feeling bothers you so much, pop them all in the dryer with a dryer sheet for 20 minutes and voila! You’ve still saved time from doing a load of towels.

**Let me make a note here that dishrags and towels are a little different. I don’t know if the rest of the family has honestly only used the dish towel to dry their hands AFTER washing them….or if they’ve used it wipe something up. So those don’t get re-used too long.

 

Well, those are my quick short-cuts to cleaning, cooking, and laundry. I know there are others but it’s time to blow the referee whistle in the living room. Share your short-cuts in the comments below!

In half the time,

Your Mediocre Mom

 

Verse of the Week: 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corithians 12:9

 

Focus this week on knowing that our weakness is okay because His grace is sufficient enough to cover ALL. Those moments we yell too much at the kids….it’s covered. Those moments we are butthole wives….it’s covered. Those moments of mom-weakness…it’s covered. We are covered. Now if we can remember to also extend that grace that is extended to us….we’d be on the right track.

Focus this week on knowing His grace is sufficient for our weaknesses.

 

In His Name,

Your Mediocre Mom

The Work-Horse Husband

I recently read a blog about being a butthole wife. Guilty. It’s true though isn’t it? If my husband was reminding me to do things differently all the time (like I do) it would drain me too. I would always feel inadequate. Like I could never do anything right. And he doesn’t deserve that from me. Not from anyone.

He’s a work-horse husband.

Before we were married we went through this really amazing pre-marital counseling program. It shed a lot of light on how we see things because of the way we were raised. How we watched our parents handle conflict. How we were disciplined. What we were inadvertently taught about how to handle money. What was important to us when raising children, how to discipline them, what to teach them about responsibility, money, conflict, etc. It was very eye opening and it saved us a lot of tears down the road.  That experience was a priceless investment into our marriage.  Even then we understood that investing in our marriage had to be intentional. So at least once a year we attended a Christian marriage conference to keep our goals and focus intact. We always found we had drifted from the previous years goals.

Life gets in the way.

I can’t remember which conference or  book it was….but I remember a bit of information about husbands that were supporting the entire family by themselves. It recommended he sign up for weekly or bi-weekly counseling. Not to “fix” anything, but to offer him a safe place to unload his stress, anxiety, and worries just from being the only breadwinner. I strongly believe in counseling, so this seemed like an excellent idea to me. The world is always busy telling me that I should be the one that he can unload those fears and worries to.  After all, I am his wife. If he can’t come to me as his safe place, then what kind of message is that sending? What is that teaching our children about the sanctity of marriage?

The truth is….I can’t be his only safe place. I am busy picking up his laundry as if he’s a toddler. I’m cleaning up half-ass jobs that he is not doing right. I’m always rearranging the silverware drawer and angry because he can’t tell the short forks from the long forks. I’m wiping the sticky counters from his mishap breakfasts before work, after I’ve stuck my elbow in it. I can’t be his safe place because I’m too busy being his condemner. I can’t let him unload his crap because my tray is already full of crap that I’ve been carrying around since I woke up that day. I can’t rightfully ask him to tell me how to help him be happy and then criticize what he opens up to me about.

I can’t be his safe place because my heart isn’t in a safe place.

He is a work-horse husband. He started a new job in the last 6 months and he is working non-stop to be great at it; to make sure his company knows they hired the right man and made the right decision. He answers calls after hours, is always in-tune to his emails, and uses his spare time reading articles about how to improve what he’s doing. Not to mention, he changes clothes as soon as he gets home and gets in the floor with the kids until it’s bedtime. He knows that I’ve been watching the clock since 3 P.M. for him to walk through the door to give me a break. Sometimes I don’t even have anything to eat for him. Isn’t that pathetic? I’m so tired and full of my own day that I failed to fix anything or have anything planned. Know what he says? “It’s okay, we’ll put something together.” Yeah. It’s okay with him. Is it really? I don’t know. But he sure didn’t respond the way I do to him with things he doesn’t get done. Things that aren’t even important. He could seriously say, “That’s two days this week. I reminded you last week that it was important to me.” But he doesn’t.

He doesn’t because his heart is in a safe place.

He works so hard for us. He doesn’t get to take a nap when he’s tired at 2 P.M. and the kids are laying down. He doesn’t get to turn the world off for a few hours a day and find solace in his space.  I love him so much it would make me physically sick to be without him. There have been numerous times in the recent past that I have prayed that the people at his new job are kind and helpful to him. Sounds like I need to refocus that prayer, huh?

He deserves better and I’m going to give it to him,

Your Mediocre Mom

 

 

The Over-Reactive Mom: From Bruise to Cancer

I have two children. A three year old little boy and a one year old little girl. I’m a parent but I still have A LOT to learn. And just like any mom with grown children will tell you, the days are long but the years are short. That couldn’t be more true. I’ve also learned that there is nothing in my life that I am more judged for. Seriously. The mom judging and mom-guilt are out of control. If you are also a mom, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I have also learned there are two main types of reactions moms have. We are either over reactive or under reactive. Meaning, there are moms that see a bruise on their child and immediately begin diagnosing iron deficiencies and leukemia risks. And her arch nemesis, the under reactive mom….uses duck tape to keep from taking her kids to the ER for stitches. I mean, if it can stop bleeding after several changes of band-aids it’s okay, right?

Just in the last 48 hours I have been accused, numerous times, of being the over reactive mom. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I don’t really think it was a fair assessment. And I need to shed light on why. Will it solve anything? No. But the mom judging and shaming needs to stop. It happens unintentionally because we think we are offering words of wisdom or a comforting sense of optimism. But the truth is, we aren’t. We’re telling each other that we know nothing about the details but decided to downplay their situation, anyway.

His name was Bobby. We grew up together. Kind of. He lived in the house right behind mine. We would simply jump the chain link fence and be in each others’ back yard. He had a trampoline and a kick-ball field. When it was just him and his sister, MaryAnn, they used it for him to practice pitching. He was a really good pitcher. I can still see little MaryAnn crouched down in that catching gear with her long blonde hair dragging in the dirt.

He was my first little boyfriend.

He was also my first kiss as a little girl. I remember the first time he held my hand. It was freezing outside. We were sitting on the swing in his backyard and we were about to have to go inside for supper. I had on this huge pink puffy coat. He went to grab my hand and grabbed my arm instead. I tried to pull my arm back some so he could reach my hand but he thought I was trying to pull away. Poor kid. He ran inside. I jumped the fence and went home. He apologized the next day but I explained what happened and we laughed it off.

He also bought me my first Valentine’s gift. I don’t remember where I was, but I remember coming home and my dad telling me that Bobby had walked over to give me a gift. It was a huge vase of a dozen red roses, a balloon and a gold bracelet. Seriously. Dad said I needed to go right over and thank him. There’s no telling how much that bracelet costs. We were just kids. Maybe 7 or 8? I still have it. You see…

Bobby developed cancer.

He had been complaining of leg pain and after the xrays and tests, they discovered cancer. I remember when he lost all of his hair he was so ashamed. So my dad and my brother and Bobby’s dad all shaved their heads, too. I will never forget the look on Bobby’s face when we all knocked on his door and there we stood with their heads bald. I remember being able to go into his bedroom and just talk. I discovered he had a HUGE love for Mariah Carey. Seriously. He knew every word to every album. Still to this day when one of her songs comes on the radio I smile because I think of him.

He made it to high school. I would always see him walking home and try to give him a ride. Sometimes he would get in, and other times he would refuse because the doctor said it was good for him to walk. It was hard driving away. He was always limping. His family moved to Texas so he could get better treatment and I never heard from him again. My dad later told me that he had passed away. I never got to see him or say good bye.

The next time I experienced anything like that was in college. There was a young mom in my English class. Her 18 month old son also started having trouble with one of his legs. He, too, had cancer. I didn’t know her personally. Just through class. But I couldn’t help but think about Bobby. He was freshly on my mind for a while after that.

As my friends began getting married and having children I would sometimes hear them mention their sons having bad growing pains in their legs. My heart would race with anxiety thinking about the possibility of it being cancer. How would they know if they automatically assumed it was growing pains? How long would their sons go with cancer before they even guessed to check for it? Still, I never mentioned it.

Fast forward to my own parenting experiences…..My son recently woke up in the middle of the night crying from leg pain. Out of nowhere. The next morning I discovered that he couldn’t walk on it. He couldn’t even put weight on it. Just before bed the night before he was running, jumping and laughing. It just didn’t make sense. I have to make sure you know, I didn’t automatically assume it could be cancer. All I wanted was for someone to x-ray it. I just wanted to see if we needed a walking boot or cast. I just wanted an explanation for his pain. When the x-rays came back clean as a whistle….THAT is when I thought about my past experiences with little boys with unexplained leg pain. So when I got several responses about being an over reactive mom….I was offended, angry….and, well, just outright pissed. These people have no clue about my family’s prevalence with multiple types of cancer (it’s literally how we “go”). They have no idea about my life experiences with just this one type of issue.

Truth is, I’m the opposite. Us under reactive moms often hear phrases from nurses and doctors like, “Poor thing, he must have been hurting for at least a week now,” “I can’t believe you didn’t notice any symptoms,” “why did you wait so long to bring him in?” So, no….I’m not over reactive. When my son’s xrays came back clean and he is still in front of me crying and unable to use his leg, thinking about the possibility of cancer is actually pretty normal for me. I understand it’s rare. And by the way….jumping to the conclusion of cancer isn’t the “worst case scenario.” If it is for you, consider yourself lucky.

And from here on out…..drop the mom judging and shaming. If you see a mom with a worry for her child only offer her what she is asking…your prayers. She doesn’t need your uneducated opinion on her situation.

He’s doing fine now,

Your Mediocre Mom

I Declare War!

My husband has an amazing family. They are crazy like any one else’s in-laws (and my family!), but they are so awesome.  And as awesome as they are this is the public profession that I am declaring war with them.

He has a really precious Aunt D. She is the most faithful (to God) woman I have EVER met. Literally. This is the lady so crazy for God that she speaks to strangers at the gas pump about Him. She runs across parking lots to invite people to church. She stops for people broken down on the side of the road. She sees a woman without a coat and pulls her own off to gift it to the lady. …..and she thinks nothing of it. This is a woman that understands her job on earth and works non-stop at it. Diligently. Relentlessly. She is the poster-child for God’s foot-soldier. She’s amazing.

…but I have beef with her. So I have decided to declare war with her.

A while back a movie came out called, War Room. I didn’t get to the theater to see it. So I asked my husband for it as a gift for something…birthday, anniversary, etc. It’s a good movie about the power of prayer. I have literally heard dozens of people that have seen the movie say they want to create their own war room. A room devoted to prayer. A room devoted to declaring war against the work the devil is doing on earth. I’ll admit, it sounds nice. But where on earth would I put one?

We just moved to east Tennessee. Our new home was built in 1965, so you can imagine our storage issues. The master bedroom is tiny and the closet resembles a single use space. Definitely no room for all of our belongings. If you could see where we live you would understand why we compromised on such issues. Point is…we don’t have any space.

There was an oddly placed ‘closet’ right off the kitchen sort of in the laundry room area. It was completely bare. No racks, no hanging rods, no shelving, nothing. Was it a former pantry? Did the lady keep vacuums and mops there? What in the world did she use that big empty space for? (Ding!) That’s the sound of my thinking lightbulb turning on.

I had a crazy idea to purchase a closet kit from Lowes and turn that big space into a closet for me and my husband. It’s oddly placed in the house, but we have no other use for it and were lacking closet space. We made the conversion and got used to it. But now there is a small closet in our bedroom. Perfect for hanging my husbands nice work clothes, my dresses, etc. You know, things that need to be dry cleaned and you don’t want to wrinkle in the jungle of t-shirts and sweaters. So it served as a place for shoes and nice clothes. Perfect space. Both issues solved.

Fast forward to a month or so ago…..Aunt D discovered cancer. Talk about a heartbreaking blow. I never did call her. I don’t know what to say. I don’t understand it. Why on earth would God choose to give one of his biggest soldiers that challenge? Surely this isn’t her demise. There is no freaking way. Like, literally no way. He wouldn’t call someone that has a personal life mission to spread his light and gospel. Someone that is actually doing what they are supposed to be doing….what they were created for. The VERY reason they were created. That’s what she’s doing. It just doesn’t make sense. She was even planting seeds to the person taking her blood for testing. I don’t understand it.

And I don’t like it.

The more I thought about it the more angry I got.

I recently read a book on the KonMarie method of decluttering. And I jumped in. So far I’ve only done my clothes. Once I got rid of 90% of my clothes my husband was so impressed he wanted to read it. So I’ve been waiting on him to finish it before we completely declutter the house together. Once I had gotten rid of most of my clothes I didn’t need my small closet space any longer. My husbands work clothes also naturally found a new spot and it seemed inconvenient to have to access that one space just to get shoes, so I also moved those to a better spot. My once tiny closet problem has now turned into an empty useless space. Ironic.

Enter the war room!

I needed to pray for Aunt D. Hard. Not the every night before bed kind. Or even the chosen fasting periods of the day kind. But the kind that reaches the heavens with boldness. The kind that sends sounds waves across the seas to let the devil know God’s army is rising. The kind that demanded justice for her; that declared her healing; and thanked God for his mighty power over her life. The kind that declared war. ……..and you know what? I happened to have a space for it. So I waited a few days until my older toddler when to school. I laid the baby down for her nap and I got to work. I swept, mopped, and painted the inside of that closet. I nailed a cork board to the wall and added a little chair and a lamp. Voila! Time to get to work! It’s time to wage a war WITH Aunt D (not against her)!

Many many many prayers will go up in war in my war room. And God has chosen to use Aunt D to give me the kick in the butt (and the space) to do it! If you have wanted to created your own, I encourage you to make it happen. Consolidate what you can. Move things around. Trust me, it’s like rearranging furniture- it’s refreshing. Do what you have to do to make it happen! This is a war folks. Stop putting it off and pick up your swords!

Give prayer a fighting chance,

Your Mediocre Mom

 

The Ultimate SAHM Checklist

Maybe you have one child. Maybe you have six. Maybe you are pregnant with your first, but already know you will stay home with the baby. Our tasks are never ending, and our homes are never spotless. Let us pause for a moment and give praise to God for the blessing of being at home with our babies. It doesn’t matter if your family makes enough money so that you are at home and comfortable or if your family makes great sacrifices, we are all blessed to be able to personally witness each and every milestone our children make. Maybe this is not an “ultimate” list.  Nonetheless, it is a list of things I deem necessary to keeping a happy home, and my sanity, as a stay-at-home-mom.

 

1. To-Do Lists

This is a given, but let’s evaluate it’s importance in the home. Currently, I have a dry-erase calendar on my fridge, a small pocket calendar in my purse, and written to-do list on my kitchen counter. The dry-erase calendar is, by far, the family’s communication hub. Let’s face it, we are way too busy. Even on the days when we don’t leave the house we are just busy. I will often forget to tell my husband about plans made or upcoming events. This way, we can all see what’s planned and what’s coming up. He has often said, “I see we have such-and-such on Wednesday night, do I need to ask my mom to keep the kids?” Having everything in one central place allows us to keep tabs on helping one another. Also, don’t be afraid to put common household items on there. One or two, or four, weeks of house cleaning have gotten away from me, before. When that happens I will literally pencil in “CLEAN HOUSE” on a day we don’t have anything planned. That way we actually make a plan to get it done.

My pocket/purse calendar is just a carbon copy of the main calendar. The only reason I keep it is for when I am out and about and make an appointment. That way I can just transfer it over to the fridge when I get home.  It has also come in handy when I am out of the house and my husband calls to ask if we have plans for a particular date. I can quickly check to see….with the disclaimer that, “I will double check the fridge when I get home, but my pocket calendar says No.”

The written to-do list is already a household basic. My life revolves around lists. I have literally made a list of all the lists I need to make. With that said, be sure to take a few moments to mentally organize what you would like to accomplish for the day and WRITE IT DOWN! I find that the best time, for me, to do this is at night right before bed. Writing the list before bed helps me do two things: include items that I didn’t complete the current day; and empty my ever-running mental to-do list before going to sleep. I don’t know about you but there are always items that I never had the time to do and cross off my daily to-do list. I usually evaluate if it’s something I really need to do, versus just wanted to do. If it’s something I actually need to do I will put it on the next days list. (Side note: Don’t be afraid to put small detailed items on your list. If you were supposed to call your best friend three days ago to catch up, make it a priority and put them on the list! I always get too busy and forget to make tea. When that happens I’ll put it on the list. You get the point.) Making the list at night really helps me sleep better. Have you ever lay awake at night thinking of all the things you need to do the next day? You, too? For some reason, I have found that writing those things down helps tell my mind that I have prepared to tackle them and can now not think about them. It seriously eases my mind. I highly recommend making your to-do lists before bed.

2. Have-Done List

Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of this. Actually, scratch that. I hope you haven’t heard of the have-done list. That way you will have learned something from this blog. I’ve already mentioned how much I love lists.  The have-done list is my very very favorite. No matter how much I support and understand the to-do list, the have-done list will be the one that saves my sanity at the end of the day. My husband is amazing. He works so hard so that I can stay at home with our children. I try, but let’s be honest, I could never repay him for that. Yes, I sacrifice a lot (my time, my multiple degrees, my career, myself, etc.) but I cannot put a price tag on this season of being home with my children. But…I am willing to bet that your spouse has come home from a long day’s work and ask you “what you did today.” Nothing would get under my skin more, than this question. I immediately wanted to respond with, “What did I do all day?! Keep your children alive, clean up spill after spill, fight a kicking and screaming child while changing their soiled diaper, watch Elmo all-freaking-day, etc. etc.” But I choose not to. Instead, I would usually respond with, “Oh, you know, I was a mommy all day.” After a while of wanting to claw my husband’s face off, in response to this daily question, I started realizing that he was just being polite. He was just asking me how my day was. It’s not the way I prefer he ask, but still.  Why was I being so defensive? Why didn’t I have a list of things that I felt were significant enough to tell him? I think it’s because I didn’t feel like the torture of watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse ten times in a row was enough to satisfy his request when he had been at a “real job” satisfying a boss and leading a team as a manager. And to be honest, I couldn’t remember what I really did all day…..I mean, what DID I do? So one day, I quit letting my to-do list stare me in the face, at the end of the day, with only one or two items crossed off.  Instead, I put a sheet of paper on the refrigerator and started writing down everything I did. I still had a to-do list to help guide me throughout the day, but I found that the list of what I was actually doing was MUCH longer than the list of things I had planned to do. I think my first have-done list had almost 25 items on it.

My husband came home that afternoon with his usual question and, with a smile on my face, I got to point him to a list. I can’t describe to you the feeling of hearing him say, “Are you serious? You really did all this today? While watching the kids?” Success! It had some really silly stuff on it, like : made tea, unloaded dishwasher, loaded dishwasher, wiped down all door knobs and light switches, changed diaper geanie, organized children’s books/puzzles, etc. Looking at a list of what all kept me busy throughout the day was liberating. No matter how insignificant it was. It gave light to “what I did all day.” I will never spend another day without a running have-done list. I highly recommend you make it part of your daily routine. Speaking of routine…

3. Schedule-Schedule-Schedule

I have a confession to make. This is my current weak spot. God blessed us with a beautiful new tax deduction a couple of months ago. She is simply amazing. Since she was born I have yet to get back to a permanent routine. I am trying. But, for purposes of this blog, I cannot express how important a schedule is. Children thrive on them! You don’t have to be so regimented that they panic at the slightest off-set. As a matter of fact, I recommend routine non-routine days in your schedule. Pick a day of the week where you and the kids all know there is no time-flow to their activities for the day (with the exception of things that always need to be at a specific time- meals, naps, bedtime- whatever applies to your family). Think of your day like a kid’s school day: there is a specific time they need to wake up in order to be ready and at school on time, they have specific times for certain subjects/activities, there is a specific snack time, more subject time, lunch time, play time, nap time, go home time, snack time, homework time, chore time, reading time, family time, bedtime. You get the idea. Having a schedule keeps your days from slipping away from you.

There have been plenty days that I have looked up at the clock only to see that it’s 3:30 p.m. and my kids are still running a muck in their pajamas, with appropriate bed-heads. Ugh. Thirty minutes ago it was just 9:00 a.m. When I first started scheduling my day, I quickly learned the art of setting alarms. They didn’t include the sound of an obnoxious morning alarm clock, but instead sounded like a pleasant reminder that it was time for a change of scenery. (Tip: Scroll through the many alarm sound options on your phone and choose one that is pleasant.) After I started setting alarms for my schedule I figured out that I needed a warning alarm, with a different sound, to help tell me that it was time to wrap up what we were doing, because the next item was just 5-10 minutes away. Some kids actually need this transitional warning. It’s like hearing a teacher say, “In five minutes we’re going to the lunch room, be sure to start wrapping up your projects.”

 

……Okay, HUGE confession time here. I wrote everything you just read back in February of 2016. Almost an entire year ago. And I’m here to tell you one thing.

You. Need. Alcohol.

List complete.

 

Love in the real world,

Your Mediocre Mom

The Toddler’s Guide to Wine

Hi. My name is Page and I have a toddler. You, too? Well, then allow me to offer you a hug and a glass of wine. Join me on the sofa where the cushions contain missing pairs of dirty socks and hidden nuggets. Never mind the carpet. Or the laundry room. If I could get to a few loads maybe I could at least shut the door. Anywho….back to the whine, I mean wine. Since you are also the mom of a toddler, whether it’s the terrible two’s or threenagers, you know they come with a whole range of emotional outbursts. Sometimes they are victorious exclamations of conquering the living room lava river and other times they are full-blown fits of grocery store rage meant to test which level of law enforcement we intend on involving. Don’t tell me you haven’t considered if it’s worth going to jail over. I know you have. Ha!

It’s okay, momma, there is a wine guide.

Did you know these toddlerisms have appropriate types of wine? Well then, let me introduce you to them. It’s good to keep a few of these handy; especially if you are parenting a child between the ages of 18 months – 3.5 years.

1. They spent the night at Grandma’s = Morning Mimosas

Champagne technically falls on the dry side of white wine….but, yes, this deserves a drink! If my little curtain climber stays the night at Grandma’s….you bet your brunch I’m having a Mimosa in the morning! Why not?! Don’t answer that. I’m not saying get tanked before 10 a.m. But I am saying you need a celebratory adult beverage that is both refreshing and, well, reminds you of the first morning of your honeymoon. Trust me. Find a bottle of champagne and a good orange juice and enjoy a grown-up breakfast beverage before you pick up the kids and get busy with life.

2. They have just started potty training/your attempt at being a Pinterest mom = Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a red wine that is right over the line of being sweet, which means it’s average between dry and sweet, but not too sweet. Let’s face it. You’ve made 100 gazillion trips to the potty to instill the meaning of “going potty,” with absolutely no actual potty success. You know it’s part of the gig, but at the end of the day you are exhausted. I mean, did you even remember to watch the clock to make them try every hour on the hour? Probably not. Me either, by the way. And if this is one of those craftsy days where you spent too much time the night before on Pinterest, well…….then you’ve also been busy trying to referee the use of glue, finger paints and salt dough. So after they are in bed, a full glass of pinot noir is in order. It’s not on the strong side, so it’s just right after a long days busy work with the rug rats.

3. They have cabin fever, boredom, and sugar and are on a destructive path through the house….for maybe all day = Sauvignon Blanc

Okay….we all have these days. Especially in the winter when it’s too dadgum cold, or wet, or both, to be outside letting them blow some steam. And yes I, too, have bundled them up and sent them outside when it was too cold, or wet, or both to try anyway. But sometimes it just can’t happen. And when those times are upon us, the kids think it’s a free-for-all pass to act crazy and destroy every room they enter. You may also recognize those days when you get tired of straightening massive messes, yelling at them to straighten them, or just give up and let them trash the place. I am guilty of all three. But when they fall asleep, and the house is trashed, it serves me right to pour a glass of sauvignon blanc and take my sweet time using the foot mop to push as many toys against the wall as I can. I need to make a path to the kitchen that doesn’t involve me stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night. Wait….I TOTALLY meant that I pick up the house before bed while drinking my wine (wink, wink). Sauvignon blanc is a white wine that’s strong, a bit dry and just right for me not to have to worry over it staining my teeth….I mean carpet, as I stumble around all those damn toys.

4. Your husband is out of town working (day three of five) and the dog is sick to her stomach…on your carpet (a.k.a. The Single Mom) = Red/Rose Zinfandel

Hear me out….. We are strong. We are mothers. We can roar with the best of them and then devour our enemies. But after three days of manning the troops alone and everything possible going wrong while you don’t have any help, a really strong red wine is in order. Don’t be afraid to pull this one out before the kids’ bedtime. It’s necessary. There’s no telling what time you will get to bed, so don’t put this one off. Pop a few Tylenol and pour a glass. Cheers, momma bear!

5. Day 5 of the same scenario above = a shot of whiskey

Yep, I said it. Sometimes wine doesn’t cut it. Neither does Nyquil, or beer, or melatonin. This is when Grandma comes over to let you catch a nap (that you and I both know you won’t take). It’s also when you take your butt back to your bedroom, shut and lock the door, and take a shot of whiskey! Don’t smell it, don’t over think it. Just take a big swig, lay down and close your eyes for a few moments. Your husband will be home tomorrow. He’ll see the dog’s stains on the carpet, smell the house, and see the bottle on the bathroom counter….and he’ll completely understand. He may even ask you why it took you to day 5 to pull it out.

6. A full blown tantrum meant to test who in the general public will call 9-1-1 = a bottle of what ever you want, sweetie

Yes, there is such a thing as picking your own when it comes to toddler wine. Ha! Episodes like these earn you what ever your heart desires. Maybe that’s a case of beer. Maybe it is a milkshake and half a chocolate cake to yourself. Maybe it’s leaving them at a safe-house for the time being. Totally kidding about that last part. Maybe. So have at it momma. My tip…take the whole bottle with you. No need in worrying about serving sizes when one of these babies shows up in the grocery store.

7. It was a good day and the kids went to bed peacefully on time = Riesling or White Zinfandel

Ah, alas….we end with the very thing we pray happens every day. The kids were happy. The kids listened when asked/told what to do. They didn’t put up a fight when it came to eating and bedtime routines, and actually went to sleep when they were supposed to. Mom, it’s time to pull out the Riesling, run a hot bath and enjoy a light, white, sweet glass of cool wine. It was a really great day. Savor it. You deserve it.

There you have it! Tell me, what are some drink ideas you suggest while enduring the challenges of parenting toddlers? Be sure to leave them in the comments.

Cheers!

Your Mediocre Mom

 

 

 

You Need People

There is an old phrase that has stuck with me, “The older you get the more you need the people you knew when you were younger.” I searched for an authentic author but came up empty handed. I first heard it in a slide show labeled, ‘Wear Sunscreen.’ I haven’t thought about the phrase for a while. We just celebrated Christmas 2016 and it proved to be in interesting one. My husband and I, along with our children, moved 7 hours away from everything we knew about six months ago. We still don’t regret it. It was the best decision we’ve made so far. The holiday season proved to be different. I’ve personally been traveling back and forth a lot to allow the grandparents to visit with the children and allow the children to visit with cousins, etc. We even drove back to celebrate the baby’s first birthday, there. You get the picture. My toddler asks for and misses his grandparents daily. Especially his cousin Abby. So we were excited to visit for the holidays.

The week we were packing up to leave the stomach virus hit our house. First it was the toddler….then my husband. Luckily, me and the baby did not catch it. When the time came for us to leave everyone was feeling much better. Off we went. We stay at my Mother-in-Law’s house when we travel. She is very hospitable and gracious with the mess the children make along with any arrangements that need to be changed in order for us to be comfortable. We can sleep upstairs, downstairs, in her bed, in the guest bed, wherever we need to be so that the kids are okay. And that means the world to me. It’s difficult to travel with very small children. Having a host that loves your kids as much as you do really helps!

I’ve also learned that your friends will fade and wither as you move and visit. There will be some that make an effort to plan to see you even before you start traveling back. There will be some that want a heads up when you are in town to see what they can swing. And still there will be some that won’t even bother when you are in town celebrating something really important to you. And that’s okay. All friendships have their seasons. This experience has me pondering that old quote I came across a while back.

Yeah. I believe that. The older I get the more I tend to look back on experiences of when I was young. For example, I think all parents have learned to have a new appreciation of their own parents. I have two small children so I am always thinking back to how things were with my own parents. How I was disciplined. How I was encouraged.  I wonder how I measure up sometimes. Other times I look back on experiences with friends. Have we really been in a sparse season for a while now and I’m just noticing? Am I giving her as much effort as she’s giving me? Are my efforts being matched? Again, how am I measuring up?

Since we’ve moved I haven’t made any new ‘friends.’ I stay at home with the kids so other than taking them on outings (which I never see other moms at) I don’t really have an opportunity to meet new people. My husband has met a few people at work, and the kids have adjusted well. My toddler LOVES his little school. So I was thinking….what if I didn’t have any friends back home either…what would that be like? And that’s when the quote popped into my head. “…the more you need the people you knew when you were younger.” And I do. Something about hanging onto them helps me hang onto my past. I like my past. Most of it. What would it feel like to really let go of the friendships that are just lingering because it’s too awkward to break the ties? What would you have left to connect you to your past? Memories aren’t warm tangible breathing links.

Once we got to my Mother-In-Law’s my toddler starting screaming in pain. He had be treated for an ear infection 4-5 days earlier and was pulling at his ear a lot. I took him to his old pediatrician in our old home town for a check. His full physical exam turned up clean but his blood work showed a little trace of the viral infection he had earlier that week. Since one of my parents doesn’t have an immune system we couldn’t take him to my family’s house for Christmas. And since my stomach started hurting later, I couldn’t go either.  Damnit. Well, that night my little man slept terrible. He was cranky all the next day, too.  And sure enough when it came time for bed he was screaming so bad that he was actually biting his pillow in pain. Literally. He kept screaming, “Momma my ear!” So at 9:30 PM on Christmas Eve me and my husband took him to Lebonheur Children’s Hospital. They, too, found NOTHING wrong. We asked every question about anything even remotely related to what it COULD be. I know he was hurting, I saw him with my own eyes.

Fast forward, we get him home with no treatment and finally to sleep. Santa Claus showed up, Christmas Day was perfect and you never would have known we were even at the hospital hours before. Because we were possibly harboring a virus we never could go visit with my family. My dad came over to see us for 2 hours to play with the kids, etc. but it wasn’t the same. I feel bad for saying it but it was a bad Christmas for me. It just sucked. I missed just being with the people I love and know.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about why it weighs so heavy on my heart. And it’s true…..I need the people I knew when I was younger. I need that connection. I need that warm-bodied reminder that I existed in another time period with someone, anyone. And that I was still considered a priority to exist with them now, too. Yes, I need my friends back ‘home.’ I need them to need me too. And I think they do. Some are in a quiet season with me and there’s a mutual understanding that comes with that. We are raising babies, fulfilling dreams with our spouses and doing our best to prevent/rid wrinkles and cellulite. All with a plate of tacos and a monster margarita. Missing my family and friends this holiday season really brought to light how much I will always need them. No matter who moves away or stays safely nestled in the ‘what-I’ve-always-known’ zone. No matter who is healthy as ever or walking through a valley. And most importantly no matter how old we get. Because we are, after all, getting older.

 

Happy New Year,

Your Mediocre Mom

Where there's no guilt in cereal for supper.