Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I think of you often

I don't take as many pictures of my growing belly as I did last time around.  I don't get as much sleep, or drink as much water or remember to eat my leafy greens as much as I did 3 years ago.  I don't just sit and quietly reflect on you, rubbing my belly, as much as I did with your sister.  I don't find as much time to dream about what color your eyes will be or if you'll be short like me or tall like Grandpop or what you'll be when you grow up...

But I do think of you often.

It's the way it is, I guess.  The first time around I had more time.  Now I'm busier and find less time to relax with just you and I.

But I promise it's only because we've given you an awesome sister who is learning to share us with you and she already knows how to love you so much.  And you are already just as awesome as she is because you were made with an extra person to give you love.

And I promise... I think of you often.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Where to start...?

Ever have, like, a ton of stuff to do, but every time you sit down to work on one project, you start to think that it's not the project worthy enough to take precedence over all the other projects?  So then you leave that project and start another, and you begin thinking that this new project isn't all that important to be at the top of the list, so you move on to a third.... and then you're all What was I thinking?  This project isn't very important!  You know, now that I think about it, I better get back to that first project... I really need to get that one done...

Yea, that's how my entire week went.  I don't really have a deadline for anything I'm working on, which makes it all the more complicated to choose what to do.  At one point, I was sitting at my computer staring at all the piles and the only thing I ended up successfully accomplishing was organizing my M&M's by color before eating them.


So, clearly, I need to jump right in on something here.  I have 6 bags of hand-me-downs for Baby Boy to sort through, a stack of recipes I'm slowly typing on to recipe cards to put into my snazzy recipe box, and a pile on my desk labeled "To File"- which is one of my least favorite jobs ever.

Yet, here I am, writing a post that isn't very interesting at all- in fact, I'm probably just doing this to distract myself from all this other stuff.  Maybe I just needed to get it out so I could see the ridiculousness in writing as a sort of lecture to myself to get crack-a-lackin'!

Meaning- once again- I'm thankful for Stream of Consciousness Sunday!


Snow Day!

Yesterday morning, I picked Anna up from her crib and brought her to the window to show her the wintry scene that Mother Nature set up for us during the night.  Her reaction was priceless.  She slowly reached out her hand and touched the window and said "Snooooowww..."  And then almost immediately, she demanded her "glubs and booooots!"

It was only 7:30 in the morning, it was still snowing, and I had no interest in waddling my pregnant self out there, so I told her we'd have to wait for Dad to wake up.

"Glubs!  Boooots!  Glubs!  Boooots!"

I was able to distract her with breakfast for a brief moment, but as soon as her feet were back on the floor she requested her glubs and boooots again.  I told her she could watch a tv show, and she requested Kai Lan.  The only episode On Demand is the snow day episode--- which was great in that it is appropriately themed for the day, but of course Kai Lan and her little animal friends were building a snow roller coaster, yet another project she does on that show which I find to be unfeasable for actual humans to do... Kai Lan just happened to have little roller coaster cars at her disposal, and I do not.  But of course, Anna now began shouting for Glubs, Booots, AND a Snow Coaster

Thanks Nick Jr!  

A few times, I briefly thought about taking her outside myself, but along with my fear of slipping and landing on top of my belly, I hurt my back earlier in the week and I've been walking with a limp for the past few days.

(Funny Story--- I think I actually hurt my back from coughing.  I've had awful cough for days, and it appears that I pulled a muscle in my back from the constant late night coughing fits.  I think I may have been using my back muscles to sort of overcompensate for trying to avoid using my abs because of the baby in there.  I swear, this is the kind of weird crap only I could get myself into it.)

As I sat in my comfy chair cradling my warm cup of coffee in my hands, I thought long gone are the days when snow meant sitting around in my pj's with a perfectly good reason for doing nothing.

Once Dave was awake, I began to suit Anna up for her trip out into the snow.  It was friggin COLD out there yesterday, so I did two stretchy layers of pants, a t-shirt, a long sleeve shirt, her snow pant overalls, and jacket, hat, gloves and boots.  I'm a total mom.... and of course she hated every second of getting dressed- especially the GLUBS!

I don't care because, being the mom, I know what's best.  And I have to tell you about these AWESOME gloves I got!  I wish they had these things when I was little.  

L-Bow Mittens (photo cred)
The L-Bow Mittens!  They are super insulated and warm, they have a strap to tighten them at the wrist, and the best part is this sleeve that goes all the way up the arm so that snow doesn't sneak down into the kid's hands!  You can buy them here on Amazon.  Totally worth the price.

And so Anna found the snow very exciting.  When I think about snow, I'm a bit of a party pooper.  It's cold and wet and slippery, and in a day or two it will be ugly- yellowed by my dog and blackened by the cars.  So It's funny watching her do all the things that I hate about snow- particularly the general rolling around in it.  She'd walk a couple feet, then plop down on her hiney and just get immersed in the stuff.

Then she'd flip on to her back and make snow angels- which, by the way, is something I wasn't even aware that she knew how to do!  I'm pretty sure she picked it up from watching Peppa Pig and Caillou. See, all that tv learnin' sure has paid off!

And when we were all snowed out, we came inside and I did the total mom thing and made hot chocolate.  Which was more like warm chocolate...  and the only packet I had was fat free without marshmallows.  So, yea.... I'll have to pick up the kid-friendly version asap.

How did you spend your snowy day?

*Would you like to receive my posts in your email? Just enter your email address in the box at the top right hand side of my page- You'll never miss a post!  Totally worth it.  Totally.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

MLK Day 2nd Annual Peace Up, Link Up- The Absence of Tension vs. The Presence of Justice

Last night, I almost had it out with my uncle at a family party.

Seriously?  I had to check myself.

He’s old school Italian, and we butt heads often.  As usual, I find myself caught up in some family drama, the subject of which isn’t important for the purpose of this post.  The point of me telling you that I butt heads with him isn’t for me to plead my case on the particular issue at hand or to air my family’s dirty laundry.  Not at all.

The facet of our encounter that’s most important is that since he’s old school, he believes that you don’t speak out of turn, you respect your elders simply because they’re your elders, and you don’t rock the boat.  Ever. 

I get that.  He grew up the son of an Italian immigrant married to a second-generation polish immigrant.  Those were scary, tough times.  I can’t possibly relate to the struggles they endured.  So if I don’t agree with the old school mentality, I come off as not being thankful for the trail they carved out for us with their head-down hard work.

I come off like that a lot of the time in my family---- a troublemaker, a fire starter.  Drives me batshit crazy.  Many think I’m causing problems, but I can’t help but stand up for something or someone or speak up when I know there’s some sort of injustice going on, and that gets twisted on me.  When I was younger, among the 6 kids I was called the angry one.  The reality is that I was angry much of the time.  I would see something happening that wasn’t right, speak up about it, and when I was shot down for rocking the boat, I’d get angry.

Today, I’m participating in my friend Brandi’s MLK Day 2nd Annual Peace Up, Link Up She’s asked us to write about what we believe defines peace based on the following quote by Dr. King:

"True peace is not merely the absence of tension.  It is the presence of justice."

I am struggling here because it feels insanely trivial to make the connection between my personal story and the message that someone as brave and wonderful as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to spread.  I do hope this all comes off in such a way that honors his memory…

Over the years, I’ve spent countless hours trying to figure out how to get away from that title as “The Angry One.”  I’ve done a lot of soul searching, a lot of writing, and even a hearty handful of therapy to figure out how to ditch that moniker.  It’s been an enlightening ride, and I still have so many more miles to cover--- in fact, I don’t think I’ll ever be done with this journey.  I’m never going to have all the answers, and I’m okay with that as long as I keep going.  My fellow blogger and friend Christine from The Aums shared a quote just this week:

“It does not matter how slow you go, so long as you do not stop.”

That’s exactly how I feel these days.  I’ll never be perfect, but I’ll always work toward that goal.  And what I’ve found is that I need to embrace this “angry” person inside me- because the anger is there to bring about some sort of justice.  I’m not saying it’s healthy that I walk around seething, fists clenched, all day long.  But these days, when someone tells me I’m angry, I don’t get as frustrated as I used to.  Instead, I identify that other people just seem to prefer the absence of tension--- and that’s not good enough for me.

I prefer to be a catalyst for justice.

Sometimes I get frustrated when I have a set back- like if my buttons are pushed to the limit and I blow up at someone.  I’ll get caught up thinking about how slow I’m going in this journey to a better me.  That kind of thinking used to make me stop in my tracks.  But these days, I just pick up the pieces and move on.  I blow up way less often (not, like, never—I am human!).  But I check myself because I know that kind of reaction is not getting me anywhere.  I often recite the serenity prayer:

May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

In the heat of the moment, it’s that wisdom to know the difference that I need the most!

In this shiny new year, I’m spending a lot more time reflecting on what kind of environment I need to help me on that journey.  I’m slowing down and taking in my surroundings.  I’m learning to break away from the people that are poisonous to me and I’m connecting myself with those who share the same sort of peaceful vision.  It’s tough, but fulfilling.  And with it comes a crazy amount of freedom!  My time isn’t caught up in trying to figure out why I’m not being heard--- Anger comes from an inability to think clearly, and nobody wants to hear that!  So these days, if I find myself unsettled by the eerie silence that comes from the absence of tension, I have the freedom to think more clearly and help bring about the presence of justice.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What's new on the blog

Today I thought I would use Fadra's Stream of Consciousness Sunday to tell everyone what's new on the blog.  I'm declaring 2012 my Year of the Better Blog, and I've already made lots of positive changes and additions--- and I'm only a week into the year!  (I figure by the time I have baby boy in May, I can just start coasting, right??)

The first thing I did was buy my domain name!

Way easier to remember than that super long domain from blogspot.  My original choice of Adventures in Mommyhood was taken, which was a bummer.  But in the end, I'm actually pretty happy with the one I have as it does sound more original and unique.

Next thing I did was actually create Facebook page for my blog!  I've been meaning to do this for a long time because I get a little nervous when strangers want to connect to my blog through my personal facebook account, nahmean?

My additions to the blog are 4 more pages!

About Me- where you can learn more about me than you probably ever wanted to know.

Mom Hearts Craftiness- a space created to balance my desire to share all those crafty ideas.

Mom Hearts Organizing- where you can see just how nutty I am about organizing, and maybe learn a thing or two.

Mom Hearts Meal Planning- where I re-posted a popular post (inspired by my fabulous friend Cortney!) that details how I shop for my food monthly and save lots of money and my sanity on a daily basis.  Plus, If you've written any posts about meal planning, I invite you to add your link in the comments section on that page!

Finally, you can find me on Twitter and Pinterest!

Hope you enjoy all the new changes and additions!

*This post is inspired by All Thing Fadra's Stream of Consciousness Sunday.  See what you can write unedited in just 5 minutes!  (Ok, this took me about 6 minutes and 30 seconds)  (Plus, I added the links after my time was up...)

Friday, January 6, 2012

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat"

There's alot of craziness going on in the Philly area today because it was just announced that nearly 50 Catholic elementary and high schools are closing or merging at the end of this school year.  I went to Catholic school up until 12th grade, so I have a bunch of facebook friends commenting on the matter.  I also have lots of friends who are teachers and as you can imagine this is a huge blow to job availability in our area.  I, along with my fellow classmates, have been hanging on to the news feeds all week to find out if our own alma mater makes the cut.  And I admit I breathed a little sigh of relief when I saw neither my grade school nor high school is closing.  I was surprised with myself because I really have no intentions of sending my kids to Catholic school at all (for many reasons that are not of importance to this particular post).  But I do still have allegiance to both schools, and I would be sad to see them close their doors.  (plus, my grade school hosts a kick-ass Penny Party every winter, and I'd hate to see that end!)

But it's still incredibly sad that this is happening- my heart does go out to the alumni of these places.  In fact, one of the schools that a few of my friends went to is actually merging into my grade school, so it does hit home.  Also, I feel for the kids who are now displaced- especially the ones due to graduate this year.  I switched to a public school in my senior year, so I understand what it's like to not graduate with the class you grew up with.

I think about education so often now as Anna is only a few short years away from jumping into that pool.  We are extremely fortunate to live in a suburb with an award winning public school system, but I often wish we had the money to send her to private (and by private school, again I should emphasize not Catholic.)

When I switched to public school in 12th grade, I was blown away on so many levels.  It was a very well funded public high in the burbs- state of the art computer labs, excellent science facilities, a beautiful theater--- a friggin’ ART WING?!?! I was told that the football stadium, which had been built just a few years prior, cost roughly 1 million dollars, and they also have separate fields for practically every sport.  My old Catholic high school only had what can best be described as a Football/Field Hockey Pit.  But one of the most important things, at least speaking as a parent about to send her kid off into this world, is that my new public school had a staff of social workers who worked individually with each and every student on post-high school goals and college.  If I remember correctly, my Catholic high college advisor was also my Italian teacher…. So, yea…

But there’s something to be said about Catholic education--- and I’m not talking about the religion side of it.  Of the 6 kids in my family, I am one of 3 who switched to public (my two younger sisters moved over at the same time).  I’ve had this conversation with my sisters many times--- that while we were enchanted by the bright stadium lights and the pottery kilns and state-of-the art library--- we could not believe how these kids talked to the teachers and administration and all the adults in general.  The attitude, the back talk, the open defiance--- you just did not get away with that shit at a Catholic school.

However, when I weigh apples to oranges, the fact remains that our particular public school comes out on top.  That I have intentions of sending my kids to public is a personal decision.  If religion was a factor for Dave and I, we would think differently, and it’s simply not.  But, again, that is not where I want to go with this post...

I worked as the Education Coordinator at an Art Center in Cheltenham for 3 years.  My main title meant that I hired and managed all the teachers, but I wore many hats in that job (as is the case with nonprofits).  We ran an outreach program that brought one-time visual and performing art programs to schools.  In most cases, a teacher or group of teachers at a school would get a grant to fund the cost of us to bring a project that tied into their curriculum.  It was always a very tight budget, so oftentimes I would fill in as one of the teachers because I was a salaried employee while my teachers were all contracted hourly.  I’d let my teachers- the education professionals- create the project, and I’d follow their instruction and just lead as many sections as I could.  We always wanted to work within the school’s budget because these are city schools that have no art programs whatsoever.  This is an issue that is very dear to my heart because I believe the arts, in every way, play such a vital part in a child’s education.

There’s an incident from this time that still haunts me.  Two of my teachers and I brought a clay project to a middle school in the Fishtown section of Philly.  I was in charge of the 5th grade group, and there was one boy in particular who was acting up the entire time I was explaining the lesson.  The teacher kept snapping at him to settle down, but this kid could not stay focused.  The teacher rolled her eyes at me several times and apologized for his behavior-  “He’s always a problem.  Every day.  Let me know if you want me to kick him out.”  I thanked her and said, “Let’s see how it goes once we get started on the project.”

I handed out balls of red clay to each of the students and started to explain how to work with it.  I showed them how to roll it out and break it apart and connect pieces together using a scoring and water technique, which acts as a glue that will withstand the heat of the kiln.  The kids were having a great time and being well-behaved… and then I looked over at the one who had given me a problem in the beginning of the lesson.  He was quietly manipulating the clay, carefully following all my instructions.  He was so concentrated on that project, it seemed as though the entire room and all the distractions fell away from him.  He carefully worked on his project for the duration of the class, and at the end he brought it up to me--- and it was a really great piece- and I told him so.  He smiled right at me and told me he really liked doing the project because he’s never touched clay before.  I said, “It’s kind of like play dough, right!”  and he said, “Yea, I never had that before either.”

And then he thanked me.

I think about it often---how I’m lucky to have been born into the class I was born into- in the location of the state I am from- in the part of the United States I live--- in the part of the world I claim my nationality.  I really do think about it all the time- My God- I could have been born anywhere else in the world under any other circumstances---- and there are millions of possibilities--- but I wasn’t.  I was born in middle to upper-middle class white suburbia.  I know people who are trying to claw their way out of the circumstances they were born into.  I have no idea what that’s like.  I can sit here in white suburbia and say “Shucks, now I can’t send my kid to my alma mater and all I have left is the option of a fantastically over funded public school system.  What’s a mom to do?”

The people I see on the news today are the moms and dads and grandparents in the inner city.  West Catholic is closing its doors in June, and for those parents, it’s not about their kids not being able to graduate from their alma mater or not being able to finish out their senior year with the class they grew up with.  It’s about scraping and saving to send their kids to a school that feels safe and gives a an education and a set of values that the public schools around there simply cannot afford to do.  It’s about the panic they now face with figuring out a way to get their elementary school kids on the subway and connecting to the number 5 bus then getting on the number 8 and walking four blocks to their new school every day.  It’s about their high school kid who now has to travel so far to the new school that they’ll now get home too late every day to keep that after school job which pays the money to give that extra help around the house.  It’s about the serious possibility of having to scrap that idea altogether and sending their kids to the grossly underfunded public options around them.

I’m not discounting that alumni around these parts shouldn’t feel the sadness that they feel.  I’m just saying, while we’re all crying into our Starbucks about the good ol’ days, are we using those values we learned from these great institutions to help those who cannot help themselves? Are we putting people in office that will bring about the positive changes needed to help these families?  Are we even voting?  Are we remembering the lesson that we are all brothers and sisters on this crazy rock hurling through the universe- no matter who or what created it and everything else around it- and are we speaking up for the kids who don’t have the ability to speak for themselves?

Don’t let those schools close in vain.  Let’s stop making status updates and instead--- let’s polish off that set of values and get out there and actually do something that would make your teachers and parents proud of that Catholic education they worked so hard to give us.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Top 11 Posts of 2011

I've spent the last few days reflecting on 2011- what I've learned, what I have yet to learn, etc.  I'm very excited for 2012 and what's in store for me and my writing.  in 2009, I wrote just 5 blog posts.  In 2010, I wrote 15.  I'm extremely proud to say that in 2011 I wrote 88 posts!  Progress, I say!  And so, without further ado, I give you....

Jeanne's Top 11 Posts of 2011

10- Let's hear it for the boy

While #2 was a deeply personal and wonderful piece, I couldn't deny the fact that I practically cried in fits of laughter the entire time I wrote #1.

There were many that I love and just didn't make the cut.  But these are the ones that I enjoyed writing and reading back to myself the most.

So you can go ahead and keep this post bookmarked- if you find yourself bored at work or if your kid is napping or if you have a handy smartphone and you're waiting in line at the grocery store, you can get yourself caught up in some Adventures in Mommyhood!

As for me- I want to thank each and every one of you who reads my blog!  Your comments mean so much to me and I'm simply flattered that you keep coming back- you keep me motivated to write!

Here's to more Adventures in 2012!