Be Gone, You Terrible Beast

I’ve been awake since 5 this morning. I’m a stay at home mom, who doesn’t have to punch a time clock in the corporate world, so you’re asking me, “why, oh why, are you awake at 5 am?” Well, it’s because of this blog which has started growing profusely and I find myself excited and worried about what I’ll post next. So, this morning I tip-toed downstairs, made my cup of coffee, and high-tailed it straight to my computer where I began to peruse Twitter, my email, and Flipboard for anything of substance I could post this morning. What did I find? Well, quite the interesting article on sugar intake and its effect on your waist line.

photo courtesy of IStock/ThinkStock
photo courtesy of IStock/ThinkStock

I type this as I’m eating my fat free brownie (but not sugar free) and drinking my sweetened coffee. And I’m the type of person who complains about my baby bump (no I’m not pregnant, but I have a pooch I will never be free from), degrades myself for not being able to slim my hips back down to my pre-pregnancy form, and just all around feels bad about my physical appearance. And yet, I’m eating sugar.

In this article I read from Women’s Health Magazine, it throws out some statistics about sugar intake, along with the effects, and some ways to possibly beat down this terrible sugar beast! So, here are a couple of statistical facts you may or may not have been aware of.

The American Heart Association suggests that a woman should intake no more than 25 grams of a sugar a day, but that the average American takes in 92 grams per day! What!?!?!? 25 grams seems like a lot to me, so I’m sure that I’m staying within those boundaries, but let me check just in case. I bake my own bread, so that lowers the amount of sugar, but not down as low as I need. I do love my pastas and while I choose the hidden veggie pastas by Muellers, they still contain 32 grams in one box! Are you kidding me? And that doesn’t count the processed pasta sauces I buy in the can for convenience. And like I said when I started this post, there’s also the multiple cups of coffee which I sweeten with Splenda and French Vanilla creamer, or the occasional mocha latte I treat myself to at Starbucks. On the plus side, I don’t consume sodas or energy drinks.

I suppose; however, the most interesting part of this article is that I can indeed beat down this dreaded beast and actually “train” my brain to not crave sugar. According to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, sugar can affect the brain much the same way as cocaine and alcohol. It is seen as an addiction, and like with most addictions you can find a way to not crave it. How do you train your brain to not crave the sugary foods, you ask.

Stop the cravings before they hit is the key. You need to maintain your hunger level to a near minimal existence by keeping your belly full of proteins and fibers and free of the refined carbs we all seem to love. Eat good tasting foods that digest more slowly and keep that steady stream of healthy foods coming. Sounds simple enough, right, but can it truly be done? So in an effort to try out this theory of preventing my brain from going gaga for the bad stuff and trimming down those final few inches, I’m going to blog about my progress. And as with anything, I’m going to go out with a bang and in a blaze of glory. This weekend I will allow myself one final swan song in the sugar treats ballet, before going strong on Monday.

Follow my progress and help keep me accountable. I’d love suggestions on foods, things I can make for my family, but things that also won’t break the bank. We’re operating off of one salary in this household, so we don’t have the luxury of spending hundreds of dollars a week on groceries. Our monthly budget is $300. Share ways that have helped you.

And with that, let me enjoy my brownie and coffee breakfast!

Enjoying my three splenda, two French vanilla coffee.
Enjoying my three splenda, two French vanilla coffee.
Fat free brownie.  Yum!
Fat free brownie. Yum!

Social Media & A Mommy’s Guilt

“My Billy just started walking and he’s only 4 months old!”

“Susie just read her first book and she’s not even 1 yet!”

“Jimmy is already potty trained and he’s just turned 6 months old!”

So, perhaps those are exaggerations, but I can’t help feeling the pressures of raising my children in a world that is so immersed in social media (me included). I’m not just average and I don’t expect my boys to be that way either. I don’t settle. I set high goals and standards for myself, and I’m an overachiever. I fully anticipate my boys will be the same way, without me being a pushy mom.

I love social media. My iPad is always within arm’s reach and if I leave the house without my cellphone then I feel naked. I curb my intake of it as much as possible, but there are times when I just don’t want to think or work. There are times when I just want to be mentally lazy and peruse the worlds of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get caught up on what’s going on with my real friends and the other “friends”. What I’m encountering isn’t exactly what I was hoping to achieve. What I’m finding is that instead of using social media as a way to just have some down time, it’s becoming more of a hindrance and really just adds more stress to my life as I read about what other people’s children are doing.

I know I can’t be the only one who’s experiencing this. And the reason I know this is because there’s no way that the things I’m reading online are actually true. Parents are speeding up milestones to make themselves look good as parents or perhaps to make themselves feel better for not being as hands on as they should be (you know who you are). What this in turn is doing, is fueling the fire for those of us who can’t seem to turn off the social media chatter surrounding the raising of children. It can truly cause a person like me to question how I’m raising my boys, what I’m doing wrong, what I could be doing better, and in turn adding undue stress and sleepless nights. Yeah, yeah, my personal problem I know, which leads me to wonder what it was like for my parents when I was my children’s ages.

In 1977 (I was 2), there were no cell phones. Only the rich had cordless phones and answering machines. We didn’t have a computer and internet. There were no digital cameras, only Polaroids. Videos? My uncle had an old movie camera that had film rolled onto a spindle. You showed it using a projector either on a blank wall or screen and there was no sound. So, basically, back then my parents could enjoy life with me. I don’t think they ever really questioned their parenting skills or compared me to their best friend’s kid. Sure they bragged, but mostly to my aunts, uncles, and grandparents, not on a computer screen that transmits every word and character simultaneously throughout the world.

There were no immediate judgments or backlashes for what and how they were doing. Life was simpler and after talking to my mom this week, not necessarily guilt free, but a different, less stressful kind of guilt.

So, how do I go about enjoying my social media without letting it adversely effect my mommy guilt? I have absolutely no idea. I do; however, seriously doubt that other parents out there evaluate my parenting skills as much as I imagine them to. I sincerely hope that they’re more concerned with their children as opposed to making themselves look and feel better. Me? I’m completely truthful on my blogs and posts, but I gotta tell you nothing is more stressful for me right now than reading about all the other children who are potty trained and mine is still asking for diapers.

I wonder what the world will be like when my boys are parents and what sort of things will trigger their guilt as parents.

Best Education

I spend the better part of my days as a mother pondering my children’s education. Yeah, I have a 2 & 1/2 year old and a 3 month old, so I know it’s a bit early. Yeah, I’m aware that when their father and I were kids, there wasn’t as much pressure to put children into K2, K3, and so forth. Here’s the thing, though, I don’t want my kids to just have what their father and I had. I want them to have so much more and to be so much more, not that we turned out bad.

Each day, I spend some time in prayer over what to do. Should I homeschool the boys or should I send them to private school? My husband and I have pretty much agreed on the fact that they will not go into public school for various reasons of which I’ll get to later. I’ve researched a lot of homeschooling options and I’ve asked questions of others who have homeschooled their children. It’s a daunting task to consider and frankly I’m a bit terrified of it.

I have a total of three degrees; an Associates in English, a Bachelors in Communications and Political Science, and a Masters in Business Administration. I am a self described nerd who would love nothing more than to spend the rest of my life going to school and getting various degrees. Not that getting any more education would necessarily improve our household income, but learning new things and studying is almost like a hobby for me, but having all of this education doesn’t necessarily mean I’m equipped to teach my children.

I’m horrible with math. I despise it with a passion, that and all things economics. I don’t handle our finances, not because I’m not capable, but because I just loathe it. Math and economics are two of things that pretty much stumped me all through school. If I don’t understand it and I’m no good at it, then how can I teach my boys? Well, there are options such as online classes and homeschool co-ops.

Private schools cost a lot of money which means I’ll need to go back to work, something that I’m still teeter-tottering about. And even if we send them to private school, their education isn’t fully in my hands. There are still people they will encounter and standards to meet; standards that I don’t necessarily agree with. This whole Common Core thing that seems to be sweeping our country is not something I agree with and I’m not on board with my child being taught this way, much like I was never on board with the “No Child Left Behind”. Will my boys really get the best education if I put them into some type of classroom setting?

And finally there’s the whole sex scoundrel, pedophile thing that really concerns me. Just a couple of weeks ago, an elementary school principal from Georgia was arrested for soliciting sex from underage girls, and by underage I’ve read it’s more like 10-12 years of age! How do you explain something like this to your child? How do you explain that people they should trust at school, really are just immoral slugs? Apparently, it’s not just public schools either as locally there’s a former coach from a private Christian school who’s been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. So, this issue isn’t just for the public schools.

There are just so many things to consider with their education and I’m hoping the Lord will open my eyes soon or let me see what I should be doing. I want my boys to grow up well rounded, good kids, with strong Christian values…the Christian values being a big sticking point. They deserve the best and these days the best isn’t found within the public school system, at least not for my boys.

I’m curious…how many of you out there homeschool your children? How many of you send them to private schools? I have one website to visit about homeschooling… I’ve started perusing through it and I’ve even started following a few Twitter feeds. If you do homeschool your kids, what advice could you offer to me?

Potty Training: Take 2

So, I started out strong back in March (or so I thought) when it came to potty training Davey. He had just turned 18 months old and seemed to exhibit some signs of it being time to start the potty training process. I don’t want to say I was wrong with that, but perhaps I overestimated Davey’s willingness and underestimated his stubbornness.

Of course, then I found out I was pregnant and I’ve since suffered from debilitating migraines and near constant nausea. Potty training quickly took a back seat, as did most everything else. I still did my best to hold my resolve strong that the two things I wanted and needed and would (will) accomplish before Doser 2.0 gets here are: 1. getting Davey into a toddler bed and 2. getting him potty trained.

At first, I thought the toddler bed would be a bigger issue, but fortunately for us this child has slept every single night for 10 + hours in his toddler bed WITHOUT getting up. Some mornings he gets up, grabs a book, and then climbs back in bed and actually lets us sleep until about 7. That’s huge! So, toddler bed transition was pretty flawless, not so much the case with potty training.

I’ve read all the blogs, magazine articles, Twitter tips and Facebook posts about knowing WHEN your child is ready to be potty trained. For those of you who are unsure, here are just a few samples:
1. has “dry” periods of at least two hours or during naps, which shows that his bladder muscles are developed enough to hold urine (some nights, Davey can make it all the way through without a wet diaper!)
2. urinates a fair amount at one time.
3. can pull his pants up and down.
4. shows interest in others’ bathroom habits (he’s always following his daddy into the bathroom and even me).
5. takes pride in his accomplishments.
6. demonstrates a desire for independence (oh, he’s done that from day one!)
7. gives a physical or verbal sign when he’s having a bowel movement (Davey squats behind the chair and grunts).
These are all just ways to know if your child is ready to begin potty training.

Well, at nearly 21 months, I’ve decided to give it yet another go. Once again, I re-read some blogs, pinned some interesting tips on Pinterest and even bought the book “Toilet Training in Less Than a Day” by Nathan H. Azrin. The book hasn’t worked for me, but I’m not exactly following it verbatim.

Today, I decided to take the approach of one of my other mom friends who suggested that I just let Davey go naked. When I told my husband I was going to do this, he said to not do it when he was around. So, I waited until this morning to start the new potty training agenda. I stripped Davey down, put him on our porch, brought the potty along for the ride and we hung out on the porch all morning. There were no poops, but two pees (both of which did not make it to the potty in time). I purposely did this on the porch because I knew it would be easier to clean. I just kept a squirt bottle of Clorox and water on hand to clean the messes.

Lunchtime rolled around and there was a poopy, but Davey didn’t show the signs (and by this point I had put a pair of training pants on him since I was bringing him into the house to eat lunch) and he pooped in his pants. I put him down for a nap, with a clean diaper, and he slept for 3 hours with no accidents. This evening, after dinner; however was our true breakthrough.

After eating, I put him down from his highchair and let him run around. Within a matter of minutes, he ran to his potty and sat down. I pulled him back up quickly unsnapped the onesie he was wearing (probably not a good idea), helped him pull down his training pants and put him back on the potty. As I took a step back, he began to pee. Most of it landed in the potty, but he did accidentally spray the floor, it’s to be expected. But I suppose the best part for me was after he finished peeing he put both hands in the air and yelled, “I did it!”

Yes, you did, my boy. Of course, as I’m writing this, I hear my husband groan because Davey pooped in his pants and not on the potty. Maybe that’s my fault for being in here writing and leaving the potty training to my husband. 🙂

Twitter feed….to the right, please

I’m not sure how many of you follow my Twitter feed.   I’ve posted it on the home page on the bottom right below archives.  Most of what I tweet is related to my life as a mother and it usually comes from other mothers throughout the world whom I follow.   Of course, sometimes you’ll get the occasional rant (like I can’t stand Justin Bieber and I’m not sorry about it).

Anyways, I follow this one mom.   Her name is Kimberly and she is a mother of 4 (bravo to her!).   She wrote a beautiful little poem on her page and it was called Entangled Hands.   It made me smile and cry and just warmed my heart.   If you have a moment, please go to her website… and read her post Entangled Hands.    I retweeted the link and again it’s on my Twitter feed at the bottom right of my home page.