Tip #57 Always Make Time for the Gym

Last week I had to run in to the grocery store quickly on the way home for one missing dinner ingredient. My youngest daughter insisted on getting a cart because her new shoes were bugging her. I picked her up and plunked her into the cart and headed into the store for the one ingredient.

IMG_0139Half way to the bakery section my older daughter jumped on the back of the cart. As I turned and manoeuvred through the store with both girls in the cart it began to feel like I was steering a freight ship! “Wow this cart is heavy”, I said and then asked my eldest daughter to hop off as it was too awkward to push. She promptly replied in her clearest voice, “it’s fine you need the workout”. From behind a display I heard a fellow shopper giggling at my 6 year old’s matter of fact comment.

I wasn’t overly embarrassed given the giggling lady and I hadn’t made eye contact so, I continued on to the free cookie basket at the bakery in hopes a treat would keep the girls in line while we checked out. Just as the bakery employee was handing me the second cookie, I noticed a lady approaching us. She leaned in and whispered, “you deserve a cookie too after your workout!”. And off she went giggling!

Patricia
Surviving motherhood, gracefully!

P.S. I totally ate a cookie for surviving embarrassing mom moment number 2,374

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Tip #55 Will the Worrying Ever Stop?

I was at work and my phone started to ring. The call display read “School” and I immediately felt my heart sink. I answered and right away the sweet woman on the other end said “your daughter is fine, we just need to update some information”.

To be honest, as soon as I heard she was ok I stopped listening for a moment while I got my nerves under control. It is so scary as a mom to get a call from the school or a caregiver and I can’t help but immediately assume the worst…this is the stuff they don’t tell you about in the books!

imageSince I have become a mom, I worry constantly. I know it sounds crazy, but in the back of my mind I am always thinking: hold the railing, look both ways, don’t talk with your mouth full, run on the grass, don’t talk to strangers, be careful! My husband can tell when I’m holding my breath and he quickly reminds me to relax. But as a mom, you just can’t!

I used to always tease my mom and say she was only happy when she was fussing over someone; well I get it now! If I am worrying about my girls then I feel I am doing everything possible in my power to make sure they are ok.

I know they are kids and I can’t (or should ‘t) hover around them forever. But, even when they are old enough to bike to the park alone or walk to a friend’s house after school, I will always worry! There is no fighting the mama bear instinct, you just learn to live with it I guess…and the grey hair and ulcers!

Patricia
Surviving motherhood, gracefully!

Tip #54 Sweet Dreams Snow White

Well I put my girls to sleep about an hour and a half ago and started watching TV in my bedroom down the hall. I could still hear some giggling so I went in to check on them. My 3 year old was literally snow white! She had found a tin of butt cream in a drawer and decided to put it all over her face instead of sleeping. It was on her lips, eyes, neck! It was in her nose and all over both hands.

imageSo down the hall to the washroom we went. Anyone who has ever used a baby butt cream knows the stuff is a wicked thick paste and, does not come off easily. It’s whole purpose is to protect the skin from moisture so forget just rinsing it off with a bit of water. It’s 8:30pm and my daughter is staring at me in the mirror, white as a ghost. I wish I could say I gave her a firm talking to but I could not look at her with a straight face.

Warm water and a few cloths later her face and hands were mostly clean from the paste…perhaps because it was all stuck under my fingernails? Back to bed she went and I made sure to confiscate the tin of cream on my way out of the room.

So what did I learn this time? Kids can get in to trouble even while in bed. When the girls are giggling, check on them sooner. And, zinc butt cream can work wonders on your cuticles in the winter!

Patricia
Surviving motherhood, gracefully!

Tip #53 Moving the Poles

So this year it is my goal to declutter, paint, stage, photograph, list, and sell our house. The catch…we are going to attempt to do it all ourselves.

Over the last few years we have added our personal touches and made this modest townhouse ours. This is the first home we had as a married couple and it’s where we brought our daughters home. It’s hosted birthdays, baby showers, and a few headache inducing Canada Day block parties! But, we have slowly outgrown our home and the time has come to pass it on to a new owner. Well hopefully anyway!

imageThis process has been a learning experience and this is what I can pass along:

1) If you can afford to, use a realtor. This is a tricky and time consuming process so it’s best to have an experienced person leading the way.

2) I worked my way through every room, shelf, drawer, closet, appliance, nook and cranny to declutter, clean, and organize the house. Potential buyers look everywhere I hear!

3a) We freshened up the paint in the front hall and the girls’ bedrooms. By painting it all the same shade of Cream Puff (off white), we kept it neutral and stayed on budget buying just one colour.

3b) Never tell your husband he missed a spot when you are painting.

4) We had a wall of photos and instead of taking down the frames and leaving holes, I got a bunch of different post cards and just swapped out the family photos.

5) If you have any photographer friends, borrow a camera and fancy lens to take the photos for the listing. Although mine are by no means professional quality, they look better than ones I’d have taken with my iPhone!

6) To help with showings, keep a few empty Rubbermaid containers ready. When you have an appointment just clear the counters and any other clutter into them and throw them in a closet. You can also put all the dirty laundry baskets in the car for showings!

7) It is expensive to keep fresh bouquets of flowers on hand (especially in January); I bought a mix of white silk flowers and filled a vase for a table centrepiece.

8) The dollar store is a great place for inexpensive staging accents like placemats, candles, boot mats, and baskets for bathroom cupboards.

We have a bit of painting to finish up this week and then I’ll give the place a good cleaning! Fingers crossed we can list next week and the buyers come with offers in hand. Here’s to accomplishing our 2017 resolution and moving our family!

Patricia
Surviving motherhood (and moving), gracefully!

Tip #52 Repeat after me…Baking soda and vinegar!

Since thanksgiving our household has been plagued by the flu 3 times. The first one being the absolute worst I’ve seen yet as a mom. On thanksgiving weekend I made a big dinner with all the trimmings for the first time. This dinner was worthy of its own episode on the Food Network! After tidying up and letting the food coma kick in, it happened….my eldest was sick all over the basement carpet. Every last bite of that dinner was on the basement floor, baseboard, and walls.

I scrubbed and scrubbed the carpet 4 times that night since I was up doing laundry after the flu kicked in for daughter number 2.
I got the stain out but the smell lingered. The ONLY thing that worked for us to get that awful smell out of the carpet was baking soda and vinegar!

imageA fellow, more seasoned, mom friend recommended this all natural remedy….

Clean up what you can then sprinkle the carpet with baking soda and let it sit for a bit. Using a spray bottle, lightly cover the baking soda with vinegar. Let that combo bubble and do its thing. Once it’s dry, vacuum it up! We tried three different carpet cleaning products and a bottle of Febreze but this quick and cheap recipe was the only thing that worked!

Hopefully you won’t need to try this little trick anytime soon, but there’s no harm in having a bottle of vinegar and a full box of baking soda in the pantry just in case!

Patricia
Surviving motherhood, gracefully!

Tip #51 But all the other Moms are doing it…

Well September is upon us, Starbucks ads for #PSL are everywhere, and Tuesday is the first day of school. This time last year I was nervously getting my 4 year old ready for her very first day of kindergarten.

We took our supplies list and went shopping for the 17 items. We found a backpack that fit her little frame, got our indoor and outdoor shoes, discovered that twistable crayons are now a thing, stuck our Mabel’s labels on everything (and I mean everything, all 95 of those little suckers), and purchased a drawer full of snack containers she could easily open and close. I felt accomplished; I was a good mother and survived my very first back to school shopping trip on the paying end of things! And, I was confident my little girl would fit in and have everything she needed to make it on her own in a kindergarten class of 30 kids.

That first day of school arrived. I helped her pick out an outfit and proceeded to take 789 photos! Like all proud parents do, I opened up Facebook to share the memory with our family and friends. That’s when my news feed started blowing up with kids holding these amazing little Etsy meets Pinterest meets Martha Stewart looking signs. All the children in the photos were proudly holding up small signs with their name, grade, and other fun details like favourite colour or what they wanted to be when they grew up!

Panic immediately set in. A chic personalized sign was not on the supplies list? With no time to check this off my list we packed up and walked to school. I dropped her off in the yard and stood all sappy and teary-eyed at the gate as I watched her class walk into the school in two straight little lines like in the Madeline books. Ok maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but I did stand watching those tiny fresh faces awkwardly carry their giant backpacks inside for their very first day of school.

I ran a few errands, drove by the school five or six times, and still could not stop thinking about those little signs. How did I not know about these? I guess I’m not as on top of things as I thought? What if she is the only kid in her high school graduating class that doesn’t have a kindergarten photo like theirs for the slideshow? So I did the most rational thing I could think of…I went straight home, googled “first day of school sign” images, pulled out our art supplies, and made one for my daughter.

imageWhen it was finally 3:30pm, I picked her up from school. We went straight home and yup, I will fully admit, I got her to sit in the front hall holding her little sign. I posted those pictures on Facebook and, was just like all the other moms!

As I look back now, I can tell you that silly little sign taught me a valuable lesson. I was a thirty-ish year old woman who got sucked in by peer pressure! This year I will not allow myself to feel like any less of a mom if my daughter doesn’t have personalized labels all over her belongings; a permanent marker works too. I don’t need to flat iron my hair so I can take photos in the school yard with her; a genuine smile is just as beautiful. And, I now know being happy, healthy and learning truly are the most important things on the first day of school.

So fellow Moms, do not let yourself get struck by a case of sign envy!

Patricia
Surviving motherhood, gracefully!

Tip #50 The Hardest Part of Potty Training

I took Friday off from work and was home with my 2.5 year old. It was a pretty big day in our house and one I’ve been somewhat dreading. I dropped my eldest daughter off at daycare and took my baby out shopping where we bought…underwear! My littlest girl has been waking up dry every morning for a week so we figured it was probably time to get rid of the diapers and attempt a weekend of potty training bootcamp.

imageAfter the milestone shopping trip we went straight home and got all set up and ready to focus on the task at hand. My alarm was set for a date with the bathroom every 40min. I pulled out the little reward bowl we used last time we were potty training and filled it with mini M&M’s; one for a number one and two for a number two. We were a few hours in to the bootcamp training schedule and so far so good…well for my little one anyway.

It is kind of sad to come to the realization that this is the last “baby” thing I have left. My youngest has been eating everything we eat for quite some time so my Baby Bullet is currently on loan to one of my best friends. My baby is talking in sentences and knows exactly what she wants; this also means she has no problem telling me, “no, I can do it by myself”. Both my little ones now sleep in their big girl beds and nobody seems to need me to rock them or sing for a few minutes before falling asleep. And, both girls now want to walk beside the grocery cart in the store and no longer sit up in the seat where I can steal kisses as we roam up and down the aisles. So, once my youngest is out of diapers she really will be independent and, I might not be needed as much?

Sure it will be nice to reduce my my bills by $40 now that I can skip the diaper aisle but, it also means I’m now the mom of a pre-schooler (and I’m probably getting older too….eeeek). The thought of this transition is proving to be much harder on my heart than I imagined.

So I guess I should find the positives? The garbage cans in the garage won’t smell as terrible; and, given its August and we’ve had a record breaking hot summer, this is a big bonus. There won’t be any running out to find a 24 hour grocery store mid-week because I forgot to pick up diapers for daycare. Now that my babies are becoming children, we can finally start playing all my favourite board games. And, we can go out and enjoy the afternoon sun since nobody needs a nap anymore either (well most days anyway).

So there it is, the hardest part of potty training is letting go and opening yourself up to new beginnings. Even though this new beginning means I won’t be shopping for cute little onsies or snuggling up in the rocking chair every night, I know they will always need me. Only their Mom can kiss a bruise or wipe tears away when they fall off a bike. Only their Mom knows how to make their favourite dinner and cut their sandwiches into funny shapes. And, only their Mom knows the password for the iPad so they can watch Peppa Pig!

Patricia
Surviving motherhood, gracefully!

Tip #49 Keep the AC on and Your Windows Closed

It has been ridiculously hot in Ottawa lately but the other day it cooled down a bit so I turned off the air conditioner and opened up all the windows in our house. It was nice to get some fresh air, hear the birds chirping, and feel the warm summer breeze.
These lovely sounds of summer were cut short the moment my children woke up. It wasn’t until that evening I realized how loud we can be sometimes and, that we could quite possibly be “those neighbours”!

The girls only seem to call for me when I’m a floor or two away. They can sometimes (well more than sometimes) be heard arguing over a toy, bellowing out a juice request from the basement, or singing cartoon theme songs. I will fully admit I’m no saint… I too have been known to call across the house when dinner is ready or every now and then can be heard saying, somewhat loudly, “girls, don’t bug each other”! But the other evening, my 5 year old really confirmed for me that we need to shut our windows and keep the AC running so the neighbours don’t have to listen to us!

We had just come in from a bike ride and I was in the kitchen filling up some water glasses. My eldest daughter was in the washroom at the front of the house and I heard the faint sound of her talking to me over the running water. I turned off the tap and could then clearly hear, “Mom, I’m taking a poop!” She then followed that up with the very loud proclamation that, “it must be a diarrhea, it stinks in here!” So like any good mother would do, I quickly made my way over to her…and shut all the windows!

imageSo note to self and an apology to the entire neighbourhood who had to listen to the echoing play by play of bathroom antics coming from our house. I promise to keep the windows shut until November when the heat is turned on!

Patricia
Surviving motherhood, gracefully!

Tip #48 It’s All Fun & Games Until You Cram 3 People into a Changeroom

My husband is working today and I had planned to do laundry, tidy, and get the house looking presentable. I had zero motivation so instead I took the girls to the outlet mall.

We went in to a few kid friendly stores and then strolled in to Old Navy. Things were going well as they followed me around the store patiently. They each grabbed a pair of shoes to try on in the change room while I tried on some compression leggings for running and a few dresses. The lady was kind enough to give me the large room so we all comfortably started trying things on. Sounds fun, right?

image.jpgWell, it may have been the sudden feeling of being caged in or the 2 Tim Bits kicking in, but the girls went feral. Picture this… Maddy is screaming her foot is stuck so I hop across the change room with one leg in and one out of the compression leggings I was trying on. Just as I get the foot out of the shoe, Gillian walks up being me and starts drumming on my a$$ singing her version of AC/DC’s Back in Black. Maddy thinks it’s hilarious, and Hulk Hogan style, rips the tags off the shoes, hops off the bench, and starts moving towards the change room door. I obviously see where this is going and dive ahead of her so she doesn’t whip open the door, exposing my half dressed self to every shopper waiting outside the room.

Well I stuffed the ripped tags inside the shoes and tried my best not to make eye contact with the teenage girl as I handed the clothes back after exiting the room. I think I have post traumatic shopping disorder!

Shopping with two girls under the age of 5 is not at all glamorous like on TV or in the magazines. The truth is, shopping with kids is not for sissies! However, they will one day be teenagers and not want to come shopping with me at all so I guess for now I should enjoy the company?

Patricia
Surviving motherhood, gracefully!

Tip #47 Tale of a Working Mother

A few weeks ago I presented a new concept to my boss’ boss’ boss and, they all seemed to like it! Today there is a follow up meeting with all the players to start hashing out the finer details. Last night I painted my nails, picked out my “I know what I’m talking about” dress, and planned to go for a morning run to start my day out right.

Well, plans change. I was up all night with a coughing, puking, grumpy 5 year old. My husband recently started a new job and isn’t able to take time off yet so, that leaves me. I called in to work saying I would be off today and left the meeting in the capable hands of my co-worker.

These are the moments they don’t tell you about in all the What To Expect, Baby Whispering, 101 books.

For just a second I was disappointed I’d miss my chance to impress the higher ups; but, then I checked in on my sick baby girl who just wanted me to sit beside her and rub her back. There will be plenty of opportunities for me to sit in a meeting before I retire in 2038 but, my little girl will only be little for a short time.

imageSo while my daughter is sleeping I had to skip the run and trade in my dress and the boardroom for yoga pants and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. But you know what…that’s ok! I’ve heard people say parenting is sacrifice or maybe, it’s just getting your priorities straight?

Patricia
Surviving motherhood, gracefully!