Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bedtime For My Baby

As a woman, I believe in freedom, spontaneity and flexibility. As
a mother, I believe in structure and routines. I've seen first hand
what it means to my daughter to have these routines. It gives her a
sense of security, as well as some control and independence,
knowing what is expected of her and what she can expect from

Now I'm not saying there aren't some variations through out the day,
there are. Even if I wanted everything to go a certain way every day,
it wouldn't. That's life. One of my favorite parts these days
actually...But when it comes to things like bedtime, I've been pretty
rigid about following a certain pattern and timeline. Of course that
pattern has evolved somewhat over the last three years as my
daughter has grown. No doubt it will continue to change as she
gets older.

At this point in time, we've got the routine down pat. It works well
for both of us and it can be adjusted as needed. Here's how it goes
- We do dinner around 6pm. Usually my daughter rushes through her
meal in anticipation of her favorite part of bedtime, which is bath
time! I like to give her plenty of time to splash around and play
before we get down to the business of actually washing. After her
bath, she gets into her PJ's, which she gets to pick out. Then it's
time for a bedtime snack while she watches a little TV ( these
days there are frequent requests for Beauty and the Beast or
Finding Nemo). Bedtime Snack is always fruit of some sort
and I like to give her a couple of choices to pick from. If I can't
do that, I like to work the "it's a surprise" angle which is
generally well received.

Once the snack is gone, it's time to brush those little teeth.
Usually she likes to put the toothpaste on the toothbrush herself,
and she likes to remind me of that by yelling it during her run
down the hall to the bathroom.

Finally we get settled into bed, where she works me over pretty
good in regard to the amount of books we read. A while back I
realized that she generally falls asleep during book number two,
so agreeing to read 4 books doesn't make me as big of a sucker
as I may sound...Before we read, we make two bedtime calls -
1st to grandma and grandpa and 2nd to Daddy. She chats for
a few minutes with everyone and then it's story time. Which as I
already mentioned, generally leads to the Z's. Sometimes for
both of us.

Anyway, it works out that way most nights. No matter what our
routine has been over the years, I have been surprisingly
comfortable and even grateful for this previously foreign thing to
me called "structure". It's good for her, and it's also good for me.
Sometimes there are days when you are exhausted and at the end
of your rope, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. On those days
especially it's nice to know exactly how many hours of 'mommy'
you have left before you get to sit on the couch and relax and get
comfortable with your own thoughts.

Every once in a while you do get a night, where inspite of the best
laid plans and the most solid routine...things still turn
out...unexpected. I remember this one night in particular about a
year and a half ago....

"Just checked in on my daughter and she is sleeping soundly. Tonight
Bedtime went down without a hitch, nice and easy. Bath time,
bedtime snack, brush teeth and we rock a little. Two songs into
rocking and she was out like a light, just how Momma likes it! Last
night on the other hand, not so much...same routine- different
outcome! I was half an hour into rocking and getting nowhere.
Every time I thought she was drifting off, her head would pop right up
just to let me know that I was wrong, so wrong. Finally she dozed
off enough for me to sit down ( while still holding her - have to
make sure she's really out before I put her down) and just as I feel
my body relaxing and my back aching a little less, her head pops up
yet again. And it's back to rocking. A little while later I try
sitting again only to have my husband come home from work
moments later which in turn wakes her up once more. At this point
I've been doing bedtime for well over an hour, and I am sooo
ready for bed myself, but instead, we rock some more. A little
while goes by and finally her head is resting on my chest and I am
sure that this is finally it, when out of nowhere her head pops up
once more, only this time with her hand to her ear and a quiet
"hello?". Yes, that's right...she got a phone call."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wisdom Of Experience

It occurs to me, that tonight may be a bad night to write, as I am
feeling rather defeated and small...invisible. My thirtieth Birthday
is right around the corner, and truth be told, I'm not where I thought
I would be at this stage in my life...but in spite of the various
obstacles in my path, I am looking forward to where I'm going.

As I put the past behind me and say good-bye to my twenties, I can't
help but acknowledge the many changes my heart and my head have
undergone. Ten years ago, I hoped for nothing more but to fall in
love and get, after having been married, I realize that
who I thought I was and what I thought I wanted, were all wrong. Who
I am and what I want, unfortunately have nothing to do with marriage
at all. In my twenties I wanted a husband, for my thirties I look
forward to my freedom with the option of a boy toy, preferably in his

I was convinced most of my young adult life, that motherhood was not
for me. Maternal feelings were foreign to me. Babies didn't make me
want to ooh and ah, they made me roll my eyes and panic if God
forbid, someone tried to make me hold one. Needless to say, when the
day came that I had to pee on that magical stick, it was a bit of a
shock to my system to see the word "pregnant" flash across that tiny
screen. It's a good thing pregnancy lasts nine months, because that's
about how long it took me to get used to the idea. Even after giving
birth, the only word I could think of to describe the whole
experience was surreal. The moment I actually held her in my arms,
everything changed. It was real. I may not have believed that I was
ever meant to be a mother, but I can say without a doubt, from the
bottom of my heart, the very core of my being - I was meant to be HER
mother. In the end, it's turned out to be the one thing I really know
for sure about myself.

Some people that have known me over the last decade, may argue that 
I am a bit of a commitment phobe. Reviewing my choices to move
every six months, my attraction to men who prefer to stay
unattached and my track record with jobs, I suppose there may be 
some truth to that. Although it's probably less of a fear of commitment
and more a fear of disappointment. It takes about six months to get to
know people. After that, you have to start to look below the surface,
see beyond the superficial and the sad truth is, that often I don't like
what I moving always seemed like a good way to avoid that.
Leave on a high note where everyone is still wonderful and fun. The
thing with men is no less of a self-preservation thing. I always want
the unattainable because it's safest. No chance of actual feelings and
actual heartbreak. The job thing isn't so deep. They're jobs. That's
all. I bartend, I wait pays the bills, but it does
nothing for my soul. There's the third thing I learned about myself,
I'm a writer. Not in theory, but an actual writer. Published. The
real deal. I repeat it not for your sake, but to remind myself.
Sometimes we need to do that, bring the dream into reality. Say it
out loud to make it real. I don't know why it's so hard for us to
believe that the things we want most in life are actually possible.
Maybe I'll figure that one out by the time I'm forty.

In the mean time I guess it's enough to know what I know. So as I
look toward the next stage of my life and leave that last chapter
behind me, I also look forward to my new outlook as the 'grown-up' me.

In my twenties I thought I knew everything, now I know that I knew

I believed that love could conquer all and was always enough. That's
true for your children, not for your partner.

My judgement in men sucks. I cannot be trusted. From now on, I'm
letting others pick for me...

Marriage is all about compromise. I hate to compromise.

I am both bitter and naive. It's an odd combination. I believe the
worst about people, but I'm still stunned when I find out I'm right.

What I lack in my romantic relationships, I make up for in the
relationships with my fellow female people. The women who were
closest to me ten years ago, are still here today. In my corner, in
my life and always in my heart.

I trust too easily. It's a real problem. I'll probably keep that one

I spent the first half of my twenties building my life, and the
second half ripping it to shreds. Now it's time to rebuild. Stronger.
Better. In my twenties I believed in possibilities I wasn't ready to
pursue. I'm ready now.

So when I blow out those candles, I won't be making a wish this year.
I'll be making a promise. To myself, my mother and my daughter. To be
the woman my daughter needs me to be and my mother always
believed I already was.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Since the beginning of time, men have been trying to undermine women.  I mean, look at who they blamed in the whole apple debacle...not the snake. Most women grow up trying to find every possible way to become pleasing to men. We want to look good, smell good and act in a way that is appealing to the opposite sex. We go to all sorts of lengths to make this happen, including hours at the salon, wearing clothes that are neither comfortable nor practical, and sometimes we really lose our minds and undergo body altering surgeries.  No matter what, the approval we seek remains elusive. In the end, our emotions always land us on the cons side of the pros and cons list.  We cry and they call us weak.  We are tough and they call us butch.  We really can't win.  Why should we want to?

Women are amazing creatures. We nurture. We love unconditionally (even when it's not deserved).  We fight for those who are weak. We see the beauty in strength and the strength in vulnerability. We sacrifice, and we do it without being asked and without giving up. We are selfless when it comes to the ones we love, especially our children. We eat last and usually our dinner is cold, but we don't care because we didn't cook for ourselves, we cooked for others. We sleep when there's time and when there's not, we just don't.

How often do we send around emails reminding us to celebrate just how remarkable we truly are? We are each others constant support system, trying to overcome and undue the damage we let men do to our psyche and emotional well being. Well, I for one am done. So this is to all the men out there who have crossed my path or may sometime in the future - If you find me so controlling, bitchy, stupid, emotional, needy, crazy and annoying then F**K OFF! Quite frankly, I'm not that impressed by you either.

I'm outta here...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cookies Cookies Cookies

Now I know I'm usually an advocate for eating healthy...but I'm no
saint and I have a sweet tooth that can be matched by few and
satisfied by nothing less than sugar perfection. And if chocolate is
involved, well that just makes it so much better!

Over the last few years I took my obsession with sugar to a whole new
level. Instead of just settling for store bought goodies, I started
making up my own cookie recipes. My mother started me on delicious
chocolate mint and chocolate caramels and I loved much so,
that I wanted more! I explored every flavor from cornbread to red
velvet and I found that there was a perfect concoction to match every
one of my cravings. And I am willing to bet, there's a perfect cookie
in our collection for every sweet tooth out there!

If you want melt in your mouth 'cinnamon dreams', crunchy and creamy
'peanut clusters' or delectable 'Smores' you can have them! All of
the recipes are as easy on the wallet as they are to make. In less
than 15 minutes you could have 'hot out of the oven- goes perfect
with a tall glass of milk' cookies!

Now, for a while, my mother and I went around baking up a storm,
sharing the cookies with friends, family and yes, even
strangers...but we can't reach everyone, and so we thought that this
would be easier. After all, these cookies are just too good not to
share :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Proper Playground Etiquette

As a stay at home mom with a Toddler, more often than not I find myself at the playground.  And why not?!  It's a great place for the tots to get some exercise and also ( and perhaps more importantly ) a chance for them to practice their budding social skills. However, for me, it's not always fun and games at the park.  While my little one is running around and having a ball, I am chasing after her, making sure she is safe and also reminding her of certain rules....

For instance -

You need to use the stairs!  Just because you saw some big kids climbing up the slide doesn't mean you have to copy them.  For you, the slide is a way to go DOWN not UP.

Wait your turn.  I know you are faster than some of the other kids, but just because it takes you half the time to get up the stairs, does not mean you get to go down the slide twice as often.  Patience is a virtue...granted not one most two year olds possess, but it's a virtue none the less.

DO NOT run out in front of other children while they are swinging.  As far away as they may seem at certain times, they will be close enough to take you out in one swift motion in a matter of seconds.

Oh yes, and let's not forget to not pick up everyone that is smaller than you.  They may look little and cute, but honey so do you. That half an inch you got over them is not enough to pick them up and carry them around like your new favorite dolly. Also, they tend to cry when you try to....

That's the general routine.  Add to that the small attempts I make to socialize with other moms in between maneuvering my daughter and I am busy, busy, busy.  It also doesn't help my stress level that my kid tends to lean towards children that are older than her.  For some reason children her own age or younger just don't hold her interest for very long.  In general I wouldn't have a problem with this, except of course, for the fact that at 2 1/2 she is not as coordinated as a 4 or 5 year old is.  Unfortunately, that slows her down about as much as it speeds my heart rate up. So, I watch and try not to hover as she tears through the place, running and jumping and climbing just as fast as her two little feet will carry her.

On occasion I have also found that the older children she's so fond of, also tend to be a bit controlling, sometimes even bully-ish.  That has been challenging for the both of us.  She gets confused and doesn't understand why someone is being mean and I get hurt and wonder what I should be teaching my baby.  One day a little boy took her stuffed animal ( it goes everywhere she goes) and held it hostage.  When she came to me, I told her to say please and ask for it back. When that didn't work, I went to get it from him myself.  He proceeded to hurl her little toy up into the air and across the park.  My daughter was in tears and I wanted to shove that little snot into the ground...but I can't teach my kid that.  Thankfully, his mother was right there and once aware of the situation, handled it immediately. But, what do I do in the future?  What if the next bully has a mom who is completely oblivious?  What if the next time, I'm not even there and she's at preschool? I want to teach her to be strong and to defend herself, but how do I do that without turning her into a bully as well?  For now I guess I will settle for working on her communication skills.  If talking to the bully doesn't work, at least she can come and talk to me or a teacher and then it will be up to a grown up to handle things...and if need be - shove someone into the ground.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Things YOU Should Know Before Eating OUT

Having spent the last 10 years in the hospitality industry, I have encountered a lot of things I never knew about restaurants and how they run.  For instance, on Sundays when business is slow don't be surprised to find the kitchen missing a dishwasher...crazy as it seems, I have worked plenty of places where EVERYONE has to help out and pick up the slack and do the dishes.  Everyone, meaning the servers mostly.  This can easily explain why you may find yourself waiting 10 minutes for an ice tea you expected to be sipping moments after you ordered it. Allow me to walk you through it...You order your beverage, your server returns to the drink station only to find that nobody has stocked clean glasses.  So, he or she hurries back to the kitchen in hopes of finding a clean glass rack just waiting to be brought out, instead they find several racks of DIRTY glasses and an empty dish pit.  They quickly run the glasses through the machine and run back out to the drink station to get back to your ice tea.  At this point of course, the glasses are piping hot and your ice tea is less icy and more luke warm, so your server is frantically trying to chill the glass and keep your tea from getting watered down.  Finally you get your beverage, and rather than being grateful for everything that went into this one glass of ice tea, you are annoyed and make comments to your fellow dining associates about how slow, and possibly stupid, your waiter is.  And you wonder why we
 joke about spitting in your drinks... .

So, here's some helpful hints for practicing proper dining out etiquette in the future -


When you walk in through the front doors and you are greeted by the hostess, let her know if you have a table preference.  Don't wait until you get to your table to ask for a booth.  This may lead to you getting a dirty table, sitting in a section that is closed and no longer has a server or sitting in a section where the server is so busy it will be a long time before they even notice you are sitting there.  The truth is, that whole restaurant rises and falls with how the host or hostess does their job.  If they don't rotate the servers, servers become overloaded and fall behind, providing you with bad service.  Also, it's their job to keep a nice pace going so that the kitchen can keep up, because once the kitchen gets buried, it's all downhill from there.  So, as simple as it may seem to point at a table and say 'I want that one'- it's not.  If it were, they wouldn't need the hostess.

Tipping is not optional.  If you cannot afford to tip, go to McDonald's.  The standard for good service is 20%, if your service was adequate it's OK to lean towards 15%.  If you are leaving a 10% tip I have to assume that the service was either horrible or you are an ignorant jackass.  More often than not, it's the latter.  Server's make less than minimum wage, most of which goes to taxes and therefore we rarely actually see a paycheck.  What you tip is what we make, it's the industry.  If you want to be pissed about having to tip, be pissed, but don't take it out on us, we are simply doing our jobs...and we expect to get paid for it just as you do for yours.

DO NOT ask me to make sure your food is hot before I bring it out to you.  The only way I can be sure is if I stick my finger in that really what you want?  No, you want me to bring it to you assuming it's fine, then when it's not, you can tell me and I will gladly re-heat it or bring you something new.

A lot of servers don't write the orders down.  Don't question it.  It's not that we are geniuses, it's just that we know that menu inside and out and we know what we can handle.  Worst case scenario if I forget an order, I glance back over at you or possibly scan the menu, trust me, it always comes right back. 

IF you get your food and find that something is wrong and it's not the way you ordered it, please, do not jump to conclusions.  Believe it or not, I have seen many food tickets go to the cook, who didn't read it properly, then go to the expo (the person who adds the finishing touches and puts together each table's orders) who reads it wrong and then it may even go to the food runner, who checks the food and compares it to the order and STILL they don't get it right.  Let's review, the server took your order and then sent it to the kitchen CORRECTLY and then 3 other people screwed up.  See why you can't always blame it on your waiter?

Last, but not least, be kind to your server.  We are people just like you, and we deserve your respect.  We may be waiting on you, but we are in no way beneath you.  And while I personally haven't seen anyone spit in a drink or put hair in someone's food....I would never say never... .   

Friday, May 28, 2010

3 A Day Of Dairy - Hold The Artificial Hormone, Please!

Recently, my family and I have moved across country, and while I love my new residence, I was somewhat disappointed when it came time for my first trip to the local grocery store.  It turns out, that most of the brands I'm used to buying aren't available here.  I carefully examined every label of every item of dairy and found very little to work with!  When I consulted some of the employees, they were of little to no help...and I ended up leaving without some of the key items I was shopping for.  Instead I headed home and have found myself glued to the computer screen, in hopes of finding some brands that pledge not to use milk that was produced using artificial hormones, ever since.  I haven't found nearly as much information as I was hoping for, so my search will no doubt continue, but here's what I've come up with so far...

In terms of milk the choices are actually quite abundant.  It seems that in the last couple of years a lot of major brands and grocery stores have hopped on the ban wagon and are now selling milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST.  Here are a few examples -

Safeway (Lucerne)
Food Lion
(The last three also offer heavy whipping cream and half&half)

Next we have yogurt.  At first I was afraid that things weren't looking very good, but then I stumbled across the fact that two huge yogurt companies are now banning artificial hormones due to the increasing demand! From what I have seen, they haven't put anything on their labels yet, but the change is rather recent, so it may still be in the works...never the less, you can feel comfortable buying any of these products-

Brown Cow
Nancy's Cultured Dairy and Soy
Cascade Fresh

I am sad to say, that cheese without rBST seems to be a little harder to find.  A lot of the big brand names don't seem to be on board with the changes yet, but I am hoping that will happen soon!  Kraft is headed in that direction with their first line of natural cheeses.  Look for these specifically -

Kraft Natural Cheese made with 2% Milk
Whole Foods 365
Berner Natural Cheese
Nancy's Cultured Dairy and Soy

Let's not forget about Sour Cream ( one of my daughter's faves!- Hey, you can't have a quesadilla without it!)  We are in luck since some of the most common brands are already going artificial hormone free!

Daisy ( also look for Cottage Cheese)

Another common dairy product is butter. I almost forgot about it in my research (oops!), but at the end I remembered...


Ah, yes, the one I would never forget - Ice Cream! I wish I had more names than I do for this one, but as of right now, this is all I have come up with -

Ben and Jerry's
Lovin' Scoopful

On the upside, all of those ice creams are delicious - when you can find them.  In the mean time, be sure to check your favorite flavor and brand.  If they aren't using milk without artificial hormones to make their ice cream yet, write them!  Tell them that it matters to you. Hey, it worked with the yogurt!

Here's a few extra tidbits that I found interesting - Starbucks is using only rBST free milk in their coffees and Chipotle Mexican Grill has pledged to only serve hormone free sour cream!

I know we still have quite a ways to go, but I really feel that as consumer awareness grows and the demand for healthier products gets greater, the companies supplying our food will have to change and provide us with a product that we are willing to buy and then feed to our families! So, keep checking your labels and don't compromise on what you spend your money on.  We have every right to expect our food to nourish our bodies, not harm them!