October 24, 2010

Reading "Allowed"


After sorting through the hate-(e)mail from my last, seemingly innocuous {at least to me} post; about my shock and panic at my three year old “waiting” for Prince Charming -- and taking some refuge in the kind words {thank you} from the mothers and a father or two who had never dared express their similar concerns, for fear of being stoned to death by the rest of our apparently Princess Possessed society. In the angry mob’s defense, I suppose in a Hierarchy- unlike a Democracy- my opposition to the miniature royalty I see running around, would in fact, incite the vile and vehement reaction I unwittingly provoked. Well... after sorting through the good, the bad and the ugly emails, I am more determined than ever to get going on my “reading aloud project”.


My determination comes from a few places, but since I’ve just begun to recover from "stepping in it", I won’t inadvertently indict any of my readers for their poor grammar or irksome use of nonsensical, just plain made-up words, for writing a lot as one word {grrrrr it's A [space] LOT people, not "alot"!!!!!} or for another of my pet peeves; misquoted phrases. Instead I will just say, since I've already said too much – Reading is important. The time you spend "reading aloud" to your child(ren) is essential - for their imagination, self-confidence, language skills, social skills …… The list of reasons why you should read to your child goes on and on. 

 Many of you have my email already, this I know from the response to “Prince Charming will be here in 3 minutes!!” – I do in fact post it here on my blog as public knowledge. So, in good faith, I promise not to break out the red pen and correct your book report {unless you ask me too *wink*}! So here’s what I am doing to help encourage and support Moms and Dads, Aunts, Uncles and adults in general, to read to the little ones in their lives..... 


My 'request'… And know that the SassMaster from Don’t Come to My Circus and Try to Wear the Top Hat and I have a handful of must read children’s books suggestions for you if no one feels inclined to pipe up here and offer a book suggestion and a review. I’m looking for MUST READ children’s books. Not Nancy Drew or the Babysitters Club {Great series that I adored and read voraciously as a young girl} but “read aloud” Children’s Books. The kind that gets you excited to snuggle up with your little one(s) and get lost in a story.


It can be anything…. A great moral, a life lesson, an adventure, something so silly that you and your babes cannot make it through a page without a major case of the giggles! I don’t care why you love it, just that you do – Well that’s not entirely true – I do want to know why you love it, all of us will be curious why it's such a great book -  But unless it’s offensive and wildly inappropriate, I will list all of the books and my readers brief summaries of either the book or why it’s loved in their household - or both. If a number of people suggest the same book I will list all of the readers reasons for loving it that were emailed to me….

This is fun; this is our own internet version of a book swap… Maybe even a way to drum up a modicum of support for our public libraries. In this day and age no one should fear the library and its ominous card catalog. If you can use a computer {and libraries are filled with them these days} you can go to the library, look up a book online, find it and check out in a few minutes. Beside, in this economy who can afford to go out and buy new books? Especially when the library is filled with books you can take home for a bit and read for free!!


The Project:


Email me your favorite "read aloud" children’s book. Please include an age range for the book(s) – {Guesstimate if you need to} and either your few sentence synopsis of the story, or why you and your kids love(d) the book – or both! Email your suggestion(s) to me and at the end of the week I will compile a list of our favorite must read to your kid books and post it here on A Mother’s Musings, Mishaps and Milestones. I cannot wait to see what books the girls and I already love that you do too and to discover some new gems! Winter is on its way and I am wicked excited for more and more "snuggle up story time" with Gigi & Lula!


Princess stories and fairy tales welcome. I am not the Witch, Fire breathing Dragon or Troll some of my readers {or ex-readers} have decided I must be!

October 20, 2010

"Prince Charming will be here in 3 minutes!"



SCENE: Gigi, Lula and a friend are playing on the back patio. They are in Princess dresses *cringe* and playing in the girls' "sweetheart cottage" . The three of them are stitting in the cottage - Just sitting. I'm cleaning up the unending disaster that is the backyard when I notice the three of them just sitting there.

ME: Hey girls..... Whatca doing?

GIGI: {excitedly} "Prince Charming will be here in 3 minutes!!!" 

I am having a stroke! Color me disappointed and perplexed.  Prince Charming is not coming.... Prince Charming does not exist. If Prince Charming does in fact exist, he's probably searching for Prince Charming too! 

Herein lies my problem. I don't want to be Nazi-mom who refuses to allow Disney Princesses to infiltrate my home. I do make a concerted effort to minimize the Princess exposure and paraphernalia. But some Princess Play is... well I bear it. I know that the dress up and pretend play is important for creativity and imagination. Truth is I don't seem to be as repulsed by generic princesses as I am by Disney Princesses.  But the whole, Ivory Tower, life doesn't begin until Prince Charming rescues me and takes me away and blah...blah...blah... Happily Ever After.... It's so dark-ages. 

Show me a princess that rescues the prince and I will stand firmly behind her. And Don't tell me Tiana rescues Navine in Princess and The Frog, because.... Well there are still undertones of her not being able to make herself happy with hard work, determination and a dream.  Her Happily Ever After isn't complete without her "Prince". 

I want strong daughters who grow up into strong women. I want my girls to want a man, not need a man.  And if they don't want a man.... If they are happy all on their own, that's fine too. 

Oh I am aware that for each of the studies out there that say "Princess Play is bad for our young girls self-esteem and self image" there is one that says "Moderation is the key and the parents are expected to set the standard and ground their children in reality... blah...blah...blah..." And I believe both are true - to a point.  My girls are far from obsessed with Princesses and there are clear limits in my home. We own one Disney Princess dress, 2 Tinkerbelle Fairy dresses and 1 Barbie dress. {all gifts} There are 4 pair of Disney princess dress up shoes {another gift}  and NO Disney Brand clothing in our closets. I have bent my "No Character Clothes" rule by allowing 3 Disney nightgowns into our house and that's it.  Dress-up-clothes are for the playroom or back yard only. The rule is you may PLAY dress up but you may not leave the house in princess shoes or other regalia.

Oh I think dress up is fun. I think pretend is awesome. I have a basket full of hats and scarves and purses and gloves and tutus and encourage fashion shows. But I would prefer the roll play be "I'm a doctor." - "I'm a firefighter." - "I'm an astronaut/ cowgirl / teacher." Something about "Prince Charming will be here in 3 Minutes." shook me to my core.

Maybe I'm alone... Maybe I'm overreacting.... But I just don't think the Prince Charming that Gigi was talking about is coming. That's not to say that some of us don't ever find princes....

October 19, 2010

Just to reiterate

I posted this a few months back but feel the need to rally around and support my fellow SAHMs tonight - so here it is again - A day in the life of a SAHM as so brilliantly described by Caroline Hax.

"....the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense.

It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything -- language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.

It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you to mutual friends, or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand or keep your snit to yourself."

A Deer in Headlights







Oh my little Gigi...... Gigi is a supermodel. Can you tell by the Gigi and Lula photographs?? Gigi has been keenly aware of cameras since she was old enough tp be aware of her surroundings.  As a new SAHM with my first bundle of joy in a new state in a half empty neighborhood we spent hours playing dress-up and having photos shoots.  There were millions of pictures of Gigi by the time she was a year old.  As soon as she was old enough to smile on command she would do so at the mere sight of a camera. It didn't even have to be mine or aimed at her. Gigi knew a camera meant attention and oohing and ahhing and big smiles. The bigger her smile, the bigger Mommy's smile. I know that this must make me sound like a monster. NO I am not a stage mother. I shutter at the thought of baby beauty pagents and I always though that G was beautiful enough to be a model but was not willing to have her spend her youth as a performing monkey. Our photo shoots were something to do. A way to chronicle her days and show all of our family what their grandaughter or niece looked like.

Gigi is anything but a wallflower. She is a ham, and bossy and engaging and kind and playful and full of energy. She can be a drama queen and is sharp as a tack.  I have an image of her not long from now chasing down newspaper photographers at community events; much the way Muffy and I did when we were kids.  She will be the life of the party- is pretty sure she is the center of the universe- and I adore her for it.

Today was school picture day for G. She picked out a darling dress, told me how to fix her hair and practiced her biggest smile throughout breakfast. She posed and chattered on to her sister about how she was going to "look like a movie star".  This is yet another moment that I was unprepared for. Just as the Father-Daughter dance at her school last month hit me like a sucker-punch to the gut.... This milestone... being old enough for school photos... Just tear my heart out of my chest and dance the Irish-Jig on it why don't you.  I was ready for preschool, I was excited for preschool, but this... School dances, school photos... It's too much, she a baby for God's sake, she not in grade school!

Deep breath, time stand still for no one... Embrace it. She's growing up, she's amazing and she loves the camera.  Push the "she's too young" out of your mind and go off on an adventure. Heck think of it as practice... Two years of preschool photos and she'll be ready when Kindergarten rolls around!  We skipped Stroller Strides. She got to play onthe playground instead. We went to Mcdonald's for smoothies before school  {I  wish Jamba-juice had a drive-thru. Heck I wish there was a Robeck's here - I'd unload the kids from the car for one of their smoothies, but I digress.....} and then to school to join the other mom's combing, primping, redressing, washing. G seemed to think this entire adventure was exciting.  She played with her friends while other classmates had their photos taken. I saw mom after mom go behing the screen and pop right back out - Easy-Peezie. Painless for both mother and child - OK. I'm ready........

Turns out G was not. Once on the stool my little girl, my little ham, my dram queen sat frozen. Hands plastered to her lap, head straight on eyes as big as saucers and a creepy half smile stuck on her face. "Gigi..... Gigi, smile." Nothing, not even a blink.  "Gigi.... Say 'Cheese'.."  {crickets chirping} smile getting creepier and creepier.  My stomach is in knots now.... Not beacause she cannot smile or wont smile. Not because I can see this isn't going to happen or that the photo will be horrible.... My stomach is in knots beacuse I realize I have seen this smile once before....

A few weeks back we were in the ER. I know I have yet to tell the whole story and I will. It was Gigi who was in the ER.  She drank a bottle of Children's Tylenol and I rushed her to the ER.  We were there for several hours, almost all night and when the nurses and doctors needed to do anything they would wake her. She would lay there, stiff as a board, eyes wide and unblinking with a smile, a half smile half biting her bottom lip look on her face. Unresponsive, unchanging except to shift her eyes from looking at the medical staff to back to me. It was the WORST part of the entire affair. I could see my baby terrified and coping in the unnatural manner.  My heart was sick watching her pretend it was all okay that night and this same frozen panic today..... Uugh....

What do you do? Do you swoop in and save her and take her away and kiss it better and tell her it's okay - Beacuse damn the photos you don't care about them and didn't want them anyway??  Do you make her sit there and have the photo taken because there is nothing to be afraid of and facing the fear with break it???

I asked her to close her eyes and take a deep breath. The said "Okay.... One....Two...Three....Open your eyes." When she did she had at least a normal fake smile on her face, the photo was snapped I swung her off the stool, hugged her told her she looked like a movie start and kissed her all the way back to her classroom where our normal, outgoing Gigi was returned to us once again.

October 11, 2010

Yeah I run like a girl....
Try to keep up!

So it's the day after my big day...........

I thought I was feeling pretty "fantabulous" after my 5K debut yesterday. I bounced out of bed at 4:40 this morning for my Monday morning babysitting gig... Okay well I don't "bounce" out of bed at 4:40am ...ever.... but my feet hit the floor with a 'thud' and I didn't feel any pain. I stood easily and trotted down the stairs without giving my quads, calves, hamstrings or anything else for that matter a second thought. I even debated getting a run in before Stroller Strides this morning.....

7am rolled around - babysitting gig over, breakfast and then off to Stroller Strides to resume yesterday's 'Hi-5'ing with a few of my other rocking-the-5k-with-me Mamas!  ..........  YEAH RIGHT!

The first thing we did post warm up was a moderate cardio burst. I had no real issue with the run, but my legs felt 'heavy'.
Then lunges -
"Are you kidding me?"
My quads started shaking after the first set...
"Okay, so maybe I'm feeling yesterday a bit more than I thought I was."
Then another cardio burst and...
"Wheew - thank God... Push ups!"
Then another cardio burst. Each one feeling longer than the one before and each one testing the limits of my legs more and more.
"What? Now you want me to do what? High Knees, Mountain Climbers and Sprints??? You've got to be joking..." 
You guessed it - another cardio burst and now...
"Did she just say what I think she said? WALL SIT??? H E L P..."

Here's what I realized as Robyn and I were cracking wise with each other to help make the the last several hundred yards of our final cardio burst fun {final with the strollers that is}.  First - Yes, I ran a 5K yesterday-- and that was great. I am and should be proud... but that was yesterday and I cannot rest on my laurels. Keep moving forward. The 5K was a win, but what's next? Second - I ran an entire 5K yesterday. If I can run 3.1 miles, I can give it my all at Stroller Strides for 60 minutes. Yes, Stroller Strides is "more than just a walk in the park" {Honestly - it's no walk in the park.} but I am strong enough, even after a big run like yesterday to leave it all out there on the sidewalk, field, parking lot and grass.

So Kelly managed to build me up yesterday and show me that 'I CAN' ...  and then reminded me today that I still have a lot more work to do.  Oh don't get me wrong.... My head it still in the clouds about yesterday, it's simply a little further south of the moon after Stroller Strides
I'll come back down to earth soon.... But for now, I'm still savoring my little viKtory...

October 10, 2010

Project Stroller Strides: Run Like A Mother


Today was the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure 5K. -- My-first-ever-5K-run. -- I've been in 5K walks before. Honestly I'm happy to walk 3.1 miles for a good cause - But there has never been a "Wow, this is amazing moment" before for me during a 5K walk... But among a sea of pink, along side my hubby and with my daughters right there- It was pretty awesome.



I was promised by my Stroller Strides franchise owner / instructor, Kelly, that when I ran my first 5K she and the rest of Team Stroller Strides would be at the finish line cheering me across. She did not let me down! Just shy of the finish line a group of my dear SS Mamas, who had already finished, gathered and cheered and yelled and snapped photos of the rest of us. I have to say I was not really fading... or urging myself on to the finish line like I anticipated I would be; but when I approached Team Stroller Strides and heard my name and heard the cheers and shouts of praise and encouragement, a second wind suddenly came over me and I was able to sprint across the finish line.

Words cannot express the emotions or pride that I felt when I crossed that finish line. I suppose I went into this first 5K run with low expectations to shield myself from any disappointment. Each time I felt a catch in my side or started to feel the need to stop, I slowed my breathing, took a deep breath, focused, really focused on my next few breaths and pushed on.  It's amazing what you can do when you slow down and relax.  There was a running dialogue in my head for most of the run and it wasn't I expected I'd be telling myself. I have always run with "Just a few more yards, feet, etc...." --  "You're almost there." -- "You can do it..." -- blah...blah...blah... urging myself just-a-bit-further.... And if I am being really honest, it has never been all that helpful.  So today.... today I ran like a mother. *

Focus...
Relax...
Breathe...
Focus on your breathing....
Your daughters are watching....
In through your nose and out through your mouth....
Relax...
Just take a few, slow, deep breaths and you can get rid of this cramp...
Drop your shoulders -- Relax...
Your daughters are watching...
Focus...
Breathe slowly...
Relax....
Your daughters can see your strength...
I can be strong for my daughters...
Relax...
Breathe...


I never looked ahead to how much further. I never gave a thought to how far I'd run. I just knew that I couldn't stop and if I just focused on relaxing my shoulders and breathing I could do this!  AND I DID! What a difference it makes when you focus on managing only what you can control. I cannot control the distance between me and the finish line - It is what it is.... But I can control me. How fast I run, how deep my breaths are, how relaxed my frame is.... I can control me and once I started to focus on controlling me - the miles slipped away and the race was over!

Why did I run this race? Well it so happened that the Breast Cancer 5k was falling at the right time.  Brian and I have family members who are survivors of breast Cancer and family members who are currently fighting to survive breast cancer, this is a great cause and I am proud to say that in the last 24 hours hubby and I were able to raise just shy of our $300 goal for Susan G Komen. I am also proud to say that I will continue to fundraise for the rest of this "Breast Cancer Awareness" month because it's is an amazing cause. But this particular 5K was my first because it happened to fall 1 week into my new goal.

My Goal:

Last Sunday was my 34th birthday.
In my 33rd year I set a goal to set a good example for my daughters.
I wanted to show them that Strong is beautiful. -- Looks are not what make a woman beautiful. -- Confidence, and strength both of body and character make a woman beautiful. -- Brains make a woman beautiful. 

I need my daughters to know...without telling them, but by showing them; The women on magazine covers do not exist! -- Those women in magazines are mythical creatures. True beauty comes from making smart choices, taking care of yourself, taking care of your body and loving who and what you are. {or as Katie always says; "Be proud of what you've got"}  --- So I started working out again. For the first time in over three years I set a goal to workout on a regular basis and made the choice to not only do it with my daughters, but do it in front of my daughters. In doing so I learned something amazing...  Mothers supporting Mothers is beautiful. Women encouraging other women is empowering. Taking time everyday to meet just one of my needs shows my girls that I am important too. That I value myself... That, well that is a lesson I did not even know I wanted to teach.

After learning {at 33} that I needed to value myself before I could teach my girls to value themselves I decided I really needed to go a step further. If I am more than I give myself credit for - am I capable of more than I give myself credit for? Can I really say "I'm not a..." If I've never really tried to be a... ? You read all the time about older men and women picking something up and becoming a great success. A 40 year old who never played soccer a day in their life, at 41 become the star of their league. A 50 year old who never ran, cycled or swam more than a child would on any summer afternoon, enters their first triathlon and in a few years is finishing an ironman. { Wouldn't that be awesome to say you did?? } .... You get the point. So why wait?  I never thought I'd be a runner. But I have a support system. I have other women who have never been runners that want to run.  I could set my mind to something and at least try...Right? Oh look.... there is another lesson. You cannot say "cannot" unless you try. It's okay to fail. But if you try, give it your all, can you really call that a failure?  How will you know unless you try?

So my goal for my 34th year is to run a 1/2 marathon. We however live in the desert. The unforgiving, baking everything until its dust, desert. There are exactly 3 months out of 12 where you are pretty well guaranteed cool weather - there are 2 more that may or may not be "running" weather and the rest... well the rest I am pretty well convinced you could die just standing in your driveway, forget about running. So.... If I want to run a 1/2 marathon my choices are get my butt out and run because I have to complete the 1/2 marathon before the end of March or try to find a half marathon, a local half marathon before the beginning of October next year, but since October is one of those could be nice could be hot months, I really only have until February.... I am sure that my goal for 34 will have to be met in the next 4 months and I will then have to find/set a new goal without giving up on running... How I am going to accomplish that is beyond me, but control, only what I can control....

So 5K today, 9K next month, run every possible day in between; continue to kick butt at Stroller Strides and then... well then, who knows?  As for today - I RAN my first 5K, I crossed the finish line, I ran the entire race and I am proud of what I've got! A beautiful family, and a race under my belt! Today was a GOOD DAY!


After running my first 5K!






* Run Like a Mother {the book}
The essays in Run Like A Mother–a book unlike clinical, workout-heavy running books out there–replicate the lively conversations good friends have when they’re out on a run: a mix of personal stories, hard-won, helpful advice, and crack-you-up anecdotes that cement a connection that goes well beyond the miles logged that day.
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