Friday, April 13, 2012

Working Moms

While browsing CNN the other day, (well actually it was a CNN link posted on Facebook because I would be lying if I said that I didn't get the majority of my current events from Facebook these days) I read the article regarding Hilary Rosen's comment that Ann Romney having raised 5 boys "had never worked a day in her life" and therefore could not possibly understand the economic issues that the women of this country are concerned with.

Although this isn't the first time I have heard this statement made about a stay at home mom, I saddens me to hear it come from the mouth of a woman in the political party that I choose to affiliate myself with. To basically state that because of my choice to not bring home a physical paycheck and instead devote my life to raising my children, limits mine or anyone's ability to comprehend the magnitude of the economic crisis facing women in this country is not only arrogant but completely derogatory.

Ms. Rosen, I am a college graduate, and former working mother and I can assure you that my current unpaid position of Stay at Mom is by far the most difficult and rewarding job I have held in all of my 32 years. I have been in this position for 5 years now and I am still awaiting my sick time, overtime, and vacation days. We pay for health insurance out of pocket because my husband is a small business owner, but we will save that discussion for a later date. By the way, did I also mention that I have 2 of the most demanding bosses that require that I actually raise them and turn them into people, I mean like, actual people that will one day be working, paying taxes and voting in elections. Crazy, Right?

In all honesty, for as tough of a job staying home with my children is, the fulfillment I receive trumps any paycheck that I could ever receive from a "real job" as I am sure Ms. Rosen would refer to it. This was a choice made by husband and myself in an attempt to raise our family in the best way we can. Part of being a parent at times is sacrificing for your children. Walking away from my career was a sacrifice that I was willing to make and carrying the financial burden of the entire family was a sacrifice my husband was willing to make. These choices were just that, a choice that we made together, after careful discussions, for our family. My husband does not value my opinion or contribution to our household any less now then he did when I was bringing home a paycheck just as Mr. Romney still values the opinion of his own wife. Oddly enough, I have also been allowed to keep my voter registration card and continue to vote in each election despite my obvious intellectual handicap brought on by my stay at home mom status.

I don't look down on any woman choosing to remain in the workforce when becoming a mother. I am thankful for them. I am thankful for both of my son's teachers who choose to teach my children and raise a family at the same time, I am thankful for the women that work for us at our restaurant and balance motherhood and their families needs. Just as I am sure that many of the working moms are thankful that I volunteer in their children's classrooms each month and plan all the parties and make all the phone calls to the parents and organize activities for their children. I am thankful that collectively as women we will prove to all the little girls that they also will have choices when they become mothers.

I am, however, tired of feeling as though I need to constantly defend our family's dynamic with one paycheck earning parent. I am not lazy, I do not have a Nanny, or a housekeeper. (although I seriously could use the help at times) As moms, I think it is pretty clear that we all want and need the same things.. to raise our family to the best of our ability and to be respected while doing it. I didn't accept this position because I was uneducated, unmotivated or lazy. I am just a mom choosing to raise my boys in the way that I had always envisioned, to be there for every soccer goal, every cut, every heartbreak, every school play, every dinner, every lunch...and when they look back on their childhood one day, I want them to understand that I devoted my life to raising them because it was what made me happy and fulfilled and most importantly it was what I chose as their mother.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tooth NOT for Sale!

It has been a busy couple of weeks for the Armenis family. We had some of the hubby's family in for the weekend. Last Tuesday, we attended the circus and the boys definitely thought it was the "greatest show on earth". They were certainly intrigued by the man who set himself on fire and shot out of a cannon, the trick performing tigers and the tightrope walkers, however, they both announced that their favorite part of the circus and what they found truly incredible... the elephant standing directly in front of us that proceeded to poop while one of the circus attendants caught it in a shovel. If that is to much information for you, I apologize but I can assure you that it was quite a bit of information for us observing from the 5th row also. As difficult as that is to top, the biggest thing to happen to the Armenis family this week was... (insert drum roll) Spiro lost his first tooth.

I have to admit that this momentous occasion definitely did not go down the way that I had always envisioned. (not that anything with parenting really happens the way that I envision) The hubby was home since it was his one night off of the week which I was certainly appreciative for, not only because he was able to share in this pivotal milestone in Spiro's childhood but also because as it turns out we had to take turns talking Spiro off the ledge.

It all started around bedtime. Well, not my idea of bedtime because it was 10:30pm, more the hubby's idea of bedtime because for me it was actually 2 hours past bedtime and 1 hour of me repeating Honey, seriously I need you to put them to bed now and the hubby declaring "It's Spring break, they can stay up a little later, it's not like they have school this week" Exactly, they don't have school this week, which means that I am now forced to break up twice as many fights, clean up twice as many spilled drinks, and Spiro keeps demanding Crepes and Omelets for breakfast because he says "we have nothing but time on our hands". Oh, and did I forget to mention that I think they are starting to wonder where babies come from? Put. Them. To. Bed. Now. Of course, the hubby felt that was invitation to start a tickling match because obviously the best thing to do with two boys right before they go to sleep is to wind them up. Two minutes into the tickling match Spiro was flailing all about, hit his mouth and out popped the bottom tooth that has been hanging for several weeks.

We had already discussed the Tooth Fairy, we had been checking how loose the tooth was each night when he brushed his teeth before bed. I really thought that I had been doing an effective job of preparing and building up to the occasion. Apparently not, Spiro was not happy at all about the loss of his first tooth. First, he was not keen on the idea of handing over his very first tooth to some lady called "The Tooth Fairy", he explained that he didn't care if she had plans to leave him money. He wanted to keep his first tooth so he could remember it. Billy on the other hand, began paying close attention when we started throwing out words like "money" and "toys". I watched as he began feeling his own teeth for a hint of looseness. He was quick to assure me that "when I lose my toof, I give it to the Toof Fairy for money". While Billy was busy in the garage looking for pliers, we assured Spiro that if he didn't want to "sell" his tooth to the Tooth Fairy he didn't have to.  He was definitely a little apprehensive, and was sure that this Tooth Fairy would just steal his tooth. We agreed to write her letter and place under his pillow instead.

Spiro didn't feel that he was in any shape to be drafting letters, so I wrote the letter for him. We thought our best approach was to be direct and to the point because clearly the Tooth Fairy is very busy and doesn't have the time to read long letters.

Just as the hubby and I were about to begin our parenting victory dance, Spiro began crying again about how ridiculous he looked now. He yelled at me and told me that I couldn't take a picture of him because I would just put it on my blog. He scolded the hubby and asked him "was it really necessary for you to tickle me?" We explained that all little boys and girls loose their teeth, that everyone has lost their teeth. I agreed to find a picture of me, as a little girl, with two missing front teeth. I assured him that his new tooth will come in and replace the tooth that he just lost, however, the road map that is now on mommy's forehead and the crease in between her eyes will not go away because Daddy refuses to let me get botox. So let's get some perspective here, Spiro.

As it turns out the Tooth Fairy still left him a $20 bill under his pillow last night. He excitedly woke me up this morning to show me his money. We of course called Mommom to tell her the big news and she told him not to worry, if he lost all his teeth she would just give him her dentures. (God, I love that lady) He asked me why the Tooth Fairy still left him money even though he didn't give her his tooth. Buddy, that was probably just a down payment for the rest of the teeth you will lose.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mom mom

So. Many of you seemed to be intrigued by my Mom mom, the 80 year old woman that has aided in the development of Billy's cursing vocabulary. I really should state that Mom mom isn't completely responsible for Billy's cursing, but we do hear a lot more of "you don't know shit from shiola" after one of Mom mom's visits. (seriously, what is a shiola anyway?)

I am not even sure where to begin to tell you about Mom mom. She is definitely one of a kind. She is just like any other nice elderly Catholic woman, except she doesn't attend church regularly, she curses a lot, she loves to "play the slots" and she says "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph" quite often but I assure you she is not praying. She is by far one of my most favorite people in the entire world.

I will be 33 in June, and I know how fortunate I am to still have a living grandparent and even more so to have one that has been such an integral part of my life. When I look back at all the important events, they always include the memory of Mom mom there to support me. She was even in the room when I delivered Billy, looking pretty terrified but I think, none the less, amazed that she was able to witness the birth of one of her great grandchildren. It was actually one of the only times that I have ever encountered her to be speechless, believe me it doesn't happen often.

Although we are separated in age by 48 1/2 years, Mom mom is definitely one of my best friends. We talk on the phone just about everyday, sometimes twice. She gets irritated with me when I call the neighbors if I can't reach her. I explain to her that if she just got one of those life alerts, we wouldn't have this problem but she just tells me "to go shit in my hat". (I have been trying to figure out for years why anyone would be shitting in a hat, but I guess to each his own) We also attempted to encourage her to possibly move into a retirement home last year after she fell and broke her arm but she quickly shot that down and told us that she was not going into any "god damn facility" and that we could "shove that up our ass". The hubby and I have offered her on several occasions to live with us but she refuses to live with anyone. I will hand it to her, she proved us all wrong and went back to her place at the beach after her arm healed and picked up exactly where she left off before the fall. To say she is tough, is an understatement. She tells it like it is and I never have to wonder what she is thinking, although sometimes I would prefer for her to keep a few things inside of her head. At 80 she still takes care of herself, she is never one to make excuses and losing her independence and having someone take care of her is simply not an option. She is kind of my hero.

Our relationship has evolved quite a bit over my 33 years but we have always had an unexplainable bond. When I was a child she was my protector, and as I became older she was one of my biggest supporters but now as as adult I can honestly say she is my great friend. I am so grateful to have had her input and support while I am navigating motherhood. It's one of the things that I have enjoyed the most with her. She understands the demands of  being a mother to all boys with a husband who works many hours. She has been there. She understands my want to have a little girl in this family has nothing to do with being unhappy with my sons but more the need to have that different type of dynamic that comes with a daughter. She always tells me "well, maybe you will just have a granddaughter instead". It always warms my heart at the fact that maybe I provided that dynamic for her, even if she had to wait an additional generation.

I used to try to barter with God and ask that if he could just make sure she saw me graduate college and that turned into if she can just see me get married, which turned into if she can just be with me through the birth of my first child and so on and so forth. I realized that it would never be enough because I wanted her here for all of it, for everything. The logical part of me understands that it is not possible for her to be a part of my life forever, but my heart struggles with the fact that there may come a time when I will not be able to share with her a funny story, the days happenings or discuss how much she despises Joe Flacco, who she loving refers to as a "Hayseed". Sorry Joe.

So that is my Mom mom in a nutshell. I am sure she will pop up in future posts because she is such big part of my life but for now I hope you have an understanding of what a pretty awesome lady she is. Now, does anyone know what the hell a "hayseed" is?

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Bully

In my last post, I wrote a letter to Spiro to celebrate his birthday. I touched on the fact that the world and the people in it scare me at times... "You are growing up so fast. Sometimes, I get scared about all the crazy things in the world and that one day soon you will be confronted with them." I didn't realize that that day would come this week.

Spiro came home from school on Monday very excited about the fact that he had nabbed the highly coveted classroom job of "Teacher's Helper" this week. In all honesty, this job was made for him. Helping is his thing, Responsibility is his thing. As "Teacher's Helper", one of his responsibilities includes holding the door open for the class to go outside for recess. On Tuesday, as the last child filed outside and Spiro was closing the door, a little boy came back and smacked him in the face and walked away.

We were made aware of the situation when the hubby picked Spiro up from school. Spiro had told his substitute what had happened and the boy was sent to the office. We were told that the boy hit our son because he was told to do so by another student. I'm not sure which disturbs me more, the fact that a first grade child thought it was okay to hit my son or the fact that a first grade child had the ability to manipulate another child to hit my son.

I understand that for some people, they would file this away under "kids will be kids". Simply put, I can't, I won't. This is a big deal for us. We made this a big deal to Spiro. We chose the politically incorrect route of telling him next time "hit him back, and tell him never to touch you again". Is this the right way to handle out? I don't know. What I do know is that sometimes you have to fight fire with fire and that we are, at times, forced to play in a game with rules we didn't choose.

Although the hubby wanted to pull "a hand that rocks the cradle" and jack the little boy up and tell him never to place a finger on his son again, I explained to him that despite the fact I did indeed feel the same way, I was pretty sure that jacking up students is "frowned upon" by the school and that maybe we just needed to calm down a little. We took a few deep breaths and explained to Spiro "that no one ever has the right to put their hands on you or hit you. That we think you are pretty freakin' special and wonderful and we think that you are and always will be worth fighting for. We want you to think your worth standing up for also. We never want you to start a fight or be a troublemaker but you always have the right to defend yourself. We don't care if that moves your name on red or places you in the seat of the principals office. We just want you to know that you are one the most important things to us and the thought of someone making you feel sad, hurt or not special... kind of breaks our hearts."

Spiro was nervous to go to school the next day and face the little boy. He asked to stay home from school, which I quickly made him aware was not an option. I explained to him that we don't run from our problems because they will never go away. That he needed to walk into school with his head up and proud that he is Spiro. That he is still the same smart, kind, responsible boy that he was the morning before and that no one can change that unless he allows them to. He went into school and that afternoon when I picked him up from school, he had an apology letter from the little boy.

When I get sad about my boys growing up, it's because of these types of experiences that I know they will continue to be confronted with. I really thought I would have a few more years to prepare Spiro for stuff like this. Seven years just wasn't enough time to help him decipher between being kind and standing up for himself. I'm not even sure if I know how to balance that yet. I'm confused as to how to explain to him to be tough when the going gets tough but not to let that toughness take over the kindness in his heart. How do you teach a child not to become jaded? It's as though I have forgotten to read a book that I am now forced to take a test on and I'm left trying to skim through the cliffs notes in 5 minutes for the answers.

I wrote this post yesterday but with no time to edit, I left it for today and left the house to pick up Spiro from school. Billy and I waited outside, like we always do, for Spiro's class to be dismissed and when we spotted Spiro, who do you think he was walking with side by side, chatting and laughing with? That's right, the little boy who had hit him two days before. I inquired about his new buddy after we all piled back into the car and Spiro told me. "I forgive him Mommy, we're friends. I think he might have just been having a bad day." That's my Spiro.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Another year older...

So, my mom was a little upset by the fact that the cats out of the bag about the "Breakfast Club". (if you haven't read Censorship or maybe not you can do so here) She seems to think that I was exaggerating about how old we were when my brother and I watched the movie. Being the good daughter that I am, I would like to retract the statement that we were 7 and 4 and say that we were maybe around 9 and 6 years old. (she seems to think this is a more accurate reflection) She felt that the ages of 7 and 4 were a dig at her mothering skills. Your worried about your parenting skills being in question, when Spiro is learning about Hookers at bedtime and Billy is cursing at people in Greek?  In any case, I can say with confidence, we were not of the age that the Motion Picture Association of America recommends for an R-rated film.


Dear Spiro,
7 years old today, buddy. Hey, that was the age that Honey and Pop allowed me to watch the "Breakfast Club", oh wait...Wow, where did the time go. It seems like just yesterday that Daddy and I were on our way to the hospital excited, scared and completely naive to all the ways that you would change us and our lives forever. March 9th will always be a very special day to me, not just because it is your birthday but also it is the very first day that I was a Mommy.

You have taught Daddy and I so much in your 7 years. We have learned all about patience,  how to survive on just a few hours of sleep, unconditional love, to always shield when changing a baby boy's diaper, selflessness... We learned from you, many things that we never even knew existed inside of us and Daddy and I will always be grateful for the knowledge you have provided.

We are so proud of you, Spiro. You amaze us everyday with your kind spirit and willingness to help others. Please don't ever lose those qualities. Remember that it is okay to let loose once in a while. The only advice I have for you right now is to not be so hard on yourself and always stand up for yourself, even if it is a little scary to do so. It's okay to have a "yellow" day once in a while, don't worry we all have them.

You are an amazing brother. I see how protective you are of Billy, especially when we are away from our house. I know it is tough at times to have a little brother, Mommy has one too. He bothers you and ruins your toys sometimes and you both get angry at one another but in time I can promise that he will become your biggest supporter and one of your best friends, just like Mommy and Uncle Tim. Just be sure that you are that for him also.

You are growing up so fast. Sometimes I get scared about all the crazy things in the world and that one day soon you will be confronted with them. Remember, that Daddy and I trust you and your judgement and that trust is a very difficult thing to find again once it has been lost. Fear can keep you safe but sometimes it prohibits us from doing what feels right in our hearts. Don't let fear ever stop you from doing what you feel is right. Daddy and I will always help you conquer fear, we are getting pretty good it at by now.

We hope this birthday and every birthday is as magical and special for you, as it was the day you joined this world. Happy 7th Birthday, my love. We love you to the moon and back

XOXO
Mommy



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Censorship or maybe not...

I know it has been longer then usual since my last post. Writing for me comes from somewhere deep down inside. I usually write things in my head first, I sit with them for a while, until the moment when I feel like if I don't write them down, I might burst open and lose those thoughts forever. I will never write a post on this blog just to share something, anything. I never want it to feel like a job or chore because that simply negates everything this blog is for me. Some weeks I may have plenty of things to say, other weeks I may not. Sometimes my thoughts are consumed by people or stories and I am unable to concentrate on anyone or anything else. Sometimes, Bravo is running a Real Housewives Marathon of whatever city and I can't pull myself off the sofa, away from the television. Last week was pretty consumed thinking about my friend Shannon and her girls as they confronted the one year anniversary of the death of their beloved husband and father, as well as, my Soul Sister who lost her grandfather this week.

I came from a family where my parents never really censored much from my brother and me. I don't know if it was from lack of effort or just good, old not knowing any better. In any case, we were definitely exposed to more than most children probably were. I am going to go out a limb here, but I am willing to bet that most 7 and 4 year olds could not recite the dialogue to "Breakfast Club". My brother and I could. (and still can) We were also, unfortunately, present for many of their irrational actions during their divorce and even at our young ages we understood how completely irrational they were. They were young when they married, had me when they were 22 and 21 and divorced by the time my brother and I were 8 and 11. My brother and I joke all the time how lucky they are that we turned out okay, because their parenting skills were limited at times by age and unhappiness. They were struggling to find their place in the world and ultimately that place was separate from each other. My parents have always been upfront with us and few things were ever taboo to discuss with them. It is actually one of the best things they did for us, as parents. The hubby and I try our best to balance being open with our children with allowing them to be exposed to ideas or subjects that are appropriate, however, just like my brother and me, my children have also been blessed with imperfect parents and although we try, we fail, a lot. Let me provide you with two examples if I may...

Both of the kids have televisions in their bedroom, judge me if you want, but a girl needs the evenings alone with a glass of wine and her DVR. Spiro excitedly told me one morning over breakfast, that he had found a new show the night before called King of Hill that was really funny.  
Great!  What kind of show is it.
It's a cartoon, Mommy.  
Awesome, enjoy!
Can I record it!
Absolutely, Buddy!
Two weeks later I walked into his room to turn off the television after he had fallen asleep and King of the Hill was on, and they were talking about Hookers. Wow, this is weird I thought, when did Noggin start discussing Hookers? I legitimately had no idea what King of the Hill was, I had assumed (wrongly) that it was just a regular, G rated, children's cartoon. Spiro now understands the difference between "adult cartoons" and "age appropriate cartoons", as does Mommy. Fail.


I assure you that our limitations as parents are not just limited to making inappropriate television available to our children either. One summer day last year, my husband and I were relaxing on our deck while the boys were playing in the yard. Billy had come up to the deck and began doing something that my husband didn't want him to, so he asked him to stop. Billy turned to him and told him "skata sta moutra sou". The hubby's jaw dropped and he told Billy very sternly, never to say that again. I just sat their like the little, one language speaking, American that I am and was all  "Geez, what are you getting so bent out of shape about, you wanted them to speak Greek." The hubby explained that Billy, at 3 years old, had just told him to go "shit in his face"."Well he certainly didn't get that from me! I guess the speaking Greek thing just came back to bite you in the ass."  Of course, the hubby blamed it on his father's lack of censoring his Greek language around the kids. I explained "All I know, is that you guys better get it together because I am fairly certain that if this type of language pops up while we are in church one Sunday, the Priest is not going to be pointing fingers at the little American wifey, he is going to be looking straight at you and your parents." 

I don't think anyone ever masters parenting. Parenting for us has basically been a series of missteps and blunders. If you are lucky enough, you will take notes along the way to understand what not to do the next time. (We have a lot of notes to refer to.) I know that, as a parent, I have not only benefited from all the things that my parents did right but more so from their mistakes. I am a better mother to my children because of my parents' hindsight. I am not sure, but maybe my parents wouldn't have allowed my brother and I to watch Breakfast Club if they could go back to do it all over again. I know that I monitor television much more now since the King of the Hill situation and Billy does not curse in Greek, any longer. (he has been known to throw out an English curse word once in a while, though. I just blame that one on my 80 year old Mom-mom, because she seriously has the mouth of a sailor. Don't worry, you will hear plenty about her later.) I know that these are not the first mistakes that the hubby and I have made as parents and I am sure they are not going to be the last. I think Maya Angelou put it best - "I did then what I knew how to do. When you know better, you do better." and I think that's all that any of us can truly plan for.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mommy Mondays - G-Force

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. - Helen Keller



When I first introduced "Mommy Mondays" I wanted to not only give others the opportunity to share their stories but also to brag a little about some of the wonderful moms that I have crossed paths with. I have been blessed to be surrounded by some pretty fantastic people, however, few people leave me in utter amazement. My long time friend Shannon falls into the category as one of those few people.

Shannon and I have been friends since I was 11 years old and she was 13 years old. She stole my boyfriend and apparently that was the ingredient needed to complete the recipe for a long lasting friendship. The fact that we not only share our first name but have the same middle name, as well, has always been the confirmation for me, that our friendship was not something created by chance or luck but more along the lines of something that was meant to be.

I was always the good one that played by the rules and Shannon has the kind of spirit that grabs life by the horns and makes of it what she pleases. We never attended the same school growing up but spent many of our years in high school inseparable until she enlisted in the Navy. I was devastated when she left, as a 16 year old girl, losing my best friend for 4 years was more than I could bare at times. We wrote letters, shared phone calls, and visited when possible, but as life shifted us in different directions our phone calls became fewer and further between but thankfully we never lost touch. Shannon has always been one of those friends that no matter how much time has passed, every time we talk, it is as if we have been transported back to the days of high school.

Shannon met her husband Mike while in the Navy and had 2 beautiful girls. Upon the completion of their Navy enlistment, they settled into Northern Virginia and seemingly lead a charmed life until January 2010 when Mike was diagnosed with a brain tumor. In true Shannon style, she found the strength to make the types of decisions we all pray to God to never be faced with. Mike underwent a series of treatments and surgeries with Shannon by his side. They fought with everything they had in a match up that was unfair from the beginning. Cancer proved to be a relentless opponent and Mike lost his battle on March 3rd, 2011 at the young age of 36.

To watch a good friend suffer a loss like Shannon rips your heart out and leaves you feeling helpless. To watch your good friend handle that type of loss with strength, dignity, and grace leaves you in a complete sense of awe. I can't imagine watching my husband succumb to a disease like cancer. I can't imagine telling my young children that their father has past away and I can't imagine how difficult it must be to be a widow at the age of 33 and attempt to rebuild your life. Although I am guilty of not calling as often as I should, my dear friend Shannon, I think of you everyday and when I do, I hug my kids a little tighter, I kiss my husband a little longer, and I am truly grateful for the gift of time that I have with my family.

I am honored to be walking next to my longtime friend Shannon for the second year in a row at the Race for Hope on May 6th, 2012 in memory of Mike. The Race for Hope raises funds to support innovative research initiatives and provide information for brain tumor patients and their families. Last year, Team G-Force was 150+ people strong, and one of the top ten fundraising teams. Over the past 3 years, the team has raised $50,000 to find a cure for brain cancer. If you would like to join Team G-Force or make a donation, you can do so here. My husband and I will also be holding the 2nd Annual G-Force Benefit on Saturday, April 28th at Shannon's Pub & Grille. We will be donating 10% of our gross sales on that day to the Race for Hope, as well as 100% of our silent auction proceeds. If you are interested in donating a silent auction item, feel free to email me, comment after this post, or visit my Facebook page here.
Below is a video of Mike that we shared at last year's G-Force Benefit.


video


What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. 
-Helen Keller

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Billy wants a Baby

Last year while I was holding my Soul Sister's baby, Billy walked into her living room and in a very accusing, jealous tone asked me "Why you hold that baby?". After I explained to him that I was holding him for a few moments while my Soul Sister was busy, he shot back "Put that baby in his crib." So, you can imagine my surprise when just a few weeks ago he announced that he "wants a baby".

For the past few weeks, he asks me over and over "When can we get a baby?", Spiro overheard him one night and scolded him by saying "You can't just go get a baby, Billy. You get one, when you get one!" I of course just second that notion and was all "Yeah Billy, What Spiro said!" Billy explained to him, "no, we can get one like when we got Luca". Luca is our dog. We got him last year from a farm run by a nice Mennonite couple in Pennsylvania.  Both my boys have been taught that they grew in my belly and I am not sure where he developed this notion that they are handing out babies in Amish Country but I am fairly certain that is frowned upon in Pennsylvania. I explained to him again that he and Spiro grew in my belly and that I went to the hospital for a doctor to take each of them out.

I was telling my husband about Billy's sudden interest in having a baby the other day because ironically enough, it is something that the hubby and I have been discussing. I told him we need to make a decision this month because my Mirena needs to either be replaced or taken out because it has been five years. He looked at me quite puzzled and said "It hasn't been 5 years Shannon, Billy is only 4". Now, I am still not sure where I was going with my response to him, but I very arrogantly explained to him that Billy wasn't one when he was born and that I think I am aware of the specifics of really important things, like objects currently inside my body, and if he would just take the time to do the math, my Mirena was put in in 2008 and now it is... I think he could see the lightbulb finally go off over my head.  He just started shaking his head because to say I struggle with math is an understatement and my husband is like Dustin Hoffman in "Rainman" when it comes to numbers. Seriously, I can give him any exit on 695 and he can tell me the the exit number. Yeah, it freaked me out a little too. Here, I had been preparing myself for the "big third child decision" for the past year. (yes people, for an entire year I was unable to count to 5 properly) For some reason my brain just can't comprehend numbers. I think the fact that I am responsible for helping Spiro with his math homework is questionable at the very least and to be quite honest, probably bordering on negligent. I will, however, add that Geometry came quite natural for me the second time I took the class.

So now we have a little more time to think things through  I know that no time will ever be the perfect time, but with our house for sale and possibly moving... This exact moment may not be the best time to begin adding to our chaotic family. We have already discussed with my in-laws the probability that we would need to move in with them for a few months if our house sold, until we found our new house. While they are very gracious and happy to open their home to us, I just have visions of us showing up and invading their house like a tornado invades some poor, unsuspecting, Midwestern town. We're Here! - the dog is going to destroy your gardens and yard, the kids will probably spill things all over your house, Billy might pee in your bed, plan on not having any hot water while we're here and Oh, by the way did we forget to mention that I'm pregnant, so don't bank on getting any sleep during our stay, as well. But thanks again, we really appreciate your hospitality.

 For now, we will remain a family of four and hopefully in a few months we will have a better understanding of the path that we are meant to take. I would, however, be interested in any advice or information you have to offer concerning going from 2  to 3 children. Please feel free to comment at the end of this post, or on my facebook page here. I really am anxious to here from all of the moms (and dads) that have taken the plunge and gone from 2 to 3 children. (or for the football fans, gone from a man to man to a permanent zone defense)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Benedict Arnold

I think the hubby as defected to the other side. The "other side" being the boys. Although I have explained to him over and over that the first rule in combat is to divide and conquer and that the boys have been trying to do just that for years, I think they got to him. I have also consistently reiterated to him to not be fooled by their cute little smiles or the sweet and funny things that they say, because they understand that there is strength in numbers and they have been on a mission for several years now to turn us against each other and take over this house. Billy, himself, has already told me twice this week, that when "he is big and I am small, he is going to make all da wules" and he is going to make me go to school all by myself,  like I make him. Apparently all my strategy talk and warnings have fallen on deaf ears, because after this weekend I am quite sure that Steve has left my team and joined forces with Spiro and Billy. He says that "I am being ridiculous" but he says that a lot, so the novelty of it has kind of worn off. Whatever, traitor.

It all started this Saturday, while I was preparing our house for an open house to take place on Sunday. I woke up at 5:30 that morning, unable to go back to sleep. Now I can't be positive, but I am pretty sure that when I got out of bed to go downstairs, I may have interrupted the boys daily meeting discussing their strategies for taking me down that day. However, when I peaked into their rooms they appeared to be sleeping but their breathing definitely didn't seem regulated like that of a person "really" sleeping. Of course, I didn't mention any of this to the hubby because I knew he would just say that "I was being ridiculous".

I spent the entire day cleaning the house, doing laundry... along with my routine responsibilities of wiping butts, opening fruit snacks, pouring 47 drinks, making snacks and meals, breaking up 104 fights... The hubby woke up in the afternoon after a long night at the restaurant and proceeded to drink his coffee. I guess he could see that I was a little frazzled by the days activities because he said to me "Please don't get all weird and grumpy like you do when you are getting ready to have people over our house". Okay, so I will admit that I have a slight problem (or what I like to refer to as an attention to detail) when it comes to my expectations for having company. I love having people over, but I may go overboard when it comes to cleaning before our friends or family arrive. With that being said, he is well aware that this is standard protocol for me and to make that type of statement while I was clearly exhibiting signs of irrational behavior, is simply a suicide mission if I have ever encountered one. I think my body may have actually levitated off the ground and flew around the room a few times before I explained all the "weird things" I had been doing all day, like folding laundry and putting it away, in between dusting and mopping floors, in between feeding our children, in between scrubbing toilets, in between vacuuming... You get the idea. As far as being grumpy, I explained to my hubby that it is extremely difficult to be jolly and wear a smile while you are cleaning bathrooms and the kids are throwing down in the hallway outside. Of course, he just said that "I was being ridiculous" and told the kids "Lets get out of dodge" and retreated to the basement. That's when I realized that they were all in cahoots with one another.

Now the fact that he sold out and went to the other side is one thing, but what really has me concerned is that I was unable to extract from him how he obtained his invisibility powers before he defected. You see, I began noticing a while ago that when we would be sitting on the sofa or in a room together and the kids needed something, they would never ask Daddy. It was always, "Mommy, Billy's hitting me" or "Mommy, I'm hungry. Can you get me a snack?". So I asked him one day,
"How do you do that?"
"Do what?" he asked
"You know, make yourself invisible"
"Oh, Shannon, you are being ridiculous" (you can see now, how the novelty of it wears off after a while)
"Am I? Am I really? I think I am being the exact opposite. I think I am onto you and you have no other way to try and throw me off, except to say that I am being ridiculous"
"I think you need medication"
"I bet you would love nothing more than to have me doped up and my head all fuzzy, so I would mentally be unable to figure out your little secret."

I just know that Spiro and Billy will be able to get this pivotal piece of information out of him and the last thing I need right now is the two of them having that type of insider information, especially, when they currently have numbers on their side. Don't worry though, this Mommy is not going down without a fight and I still have a few tricks up my sleeve.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Emma

We lost another casualty yesterday in the war between, our dog, Luca and the boys toys. Luca seems to have taken a liking for eating the limbs of action figures, Diego figurines, toy soldiers... Billy usually wants to throw away what is left of the mangled body but for some reason I just can't seem to let him. I don't know if it is a need for him to understand that just because Diego might be missing a leg or Batman is missing an arm, that they can still serve a purpose or that I feel the empathy, that I have felt since I can remember, for people who are struggling and might feel that they are missing a piece of themselves. Instead, I show him, that they can still fly around in his hand and ride in the Batmobile and he agrees to continue playing with them.

I can remember, as a child, placing all my stuffed animals on my bed and under the covers at night because I didn't want any of them to be cold or feel left out. I don't know if we are born with a certain amount of empathy or if we learn it or lose it along the way, but when I was little, I can remember being overwhelmed by the feeling of empathy I had at times for others.

I enjoyed high school, I had a lot of friends, I went to parties, I went to dances... But to this day, every time I think of high school, I think of Emma. Emma was not as fortunate as I was, she had untamed, flaming red hair and clothes that were not always clean nor of the latest trends in fashion. She kept to herself, mostly because I think she wanted to blend in an attempt to avoid the heckling that unfortunately happens in high schools.

My lunch table in high school was the table that everyone wanted to sit at and lunch for Emma was probably one of the worst parts of her day. At times, people would throw things at her while she quietly read a book by herself or yell things at her. For two years, although my stomach turned every time, I watched as others forced Emma to feel the pain they were obviously feeling in their own hearts. I finally realized, that if Emma could just sit at my lunch table, it would at least substantially decrease the amount of mocking she would have to endure each day. So, one day,  I invited her. To this day, I don't know if my plan was an attempt to stop her from being hurt or to alleviate the pain that I felt for her. She sat with me that day and every day after, for the rest of my Junior year.  That year I learned, that her mother had passed away when she was very young and that she lived at home with her father and older brother and that there wasn't anyone around to teach her about makeup or clothes or how to handle her unruly hair. That she enjoyed reading and spent the good part of each day lost in a book. She learned that I worked at a Bakery after school and Emma would visit me there a few afternoons and I would give her a donut and we would chat about different things. Although, I became Emma's friend that year, I was still too wrapped up in where I was socially to treat her the same way I treated my other friends and for that I wish I could tell her that I'm sorry.  My empathy for her is what allowed me to acknowledge her pain but my own vanity prevented me from grabbing her hands and helping to pull her up.

I didn't realize yesterday that one of Billy's soldiers was missing an arm until while playing with it, Spiro screamed "What are you doing out here without a weapon. Are you trying to get yourself killed?" That's exactly how I felt about Emma. I felt like she had been sent out to war without a weapon to protect her. I could never understand how God could unleash such a kind, gentle soul with nothing to protect her. Not a mother to comfort her or confide in. Not a friend for support. I still can't imagine how hard those teenage years must have been for her.  Just writing about her, makes my heart ache for how difficult her life must have been at times.

I hope that at some point my boys will read all the entries on this blog. I hope that they read this story about Emma and that it will possibly give them the courage that is needed to battle injustice. I hope that when they come across "an Emma" they will be kind, understanding and brave enough to stand up for that person and I pray to God everyday that they are not on the receiving end of the type of brutality she endured, I sincerely don't think my heart could take it. I hope that the cruelty which unfortunately exists in the world won't ever jade them or make them feel that following their hearts to make a difference, is an impossibility.

I don't know why I wrote about Emma today. Maybe it's because I think about her and wonder how she is  as an adult. Maybe it's because I don't ever want to lose that part of me that empathizes with others. My mom knows the story about Emma and she always says "that girl will probably never forget you" but to be quite honest, Emma opened up a part of me that I hope never closes and I know for sure that I will never forget her.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Dirty Mom"

This is a response to an article on curvygirlguide.com, entitled "Why I'm Not a Dirty Mom" that I just read. You can read the article in entirety on my facebook page here. Below is my response to this article.

Hi I'm Shannon and I am a dirty mom.  You said you wondered why you see us "Dirty Moms" picking up our kids and running errands in our sweatpants and baseball caps, so I thought maybe I could clarify things for you.

For the record, I also enjoy all the things you mentioned in your article like buying makeup, daily showering, and cool, hip clothes. My outer appearance at 9am dropping off my son is not necessarily a reflection of my "inner beauty" as you stated your put together appearance is.  I do, however, assure you that browsing the makeup counter and trying on clothes in a dressing room  the size of a crate can be quite trying with two little boys and while you would rather "buy lipstick than anything else", I would rather treat my children to a movie and buy a new item for my house all while proudly wearing my faded black yoga pants and my hair in a ponytail.

You said that you are proud of your life and who you are so you "get up each morning before your kids wake up, to shower, shave your legs, apply makeup, get dressed, and put on jewelry". I can tell you that I am quite proud of my life and my ability to run a household while my husband works about 65-70 hours a week and every morning I set my alarm to "get up before the kids" but inevitably I am awoken by one of my boys , climbing into bed and wanting cuddle time. I will take 15 minutes of cuddling with my kids over a shower any day of the week. I will also take a glass of wine at the end of a long day over a shower, any day of the week, as well.

I was also raised to look my best and I'm not sure who you are afraid of running into when you leave the house but I, myself,  have never been caught off guard by a chance encounter with Bradley Cooper or the President of the United State in the aisles of Wegman's or Giant. I do, however, run into my youngest son's preschool teacher at times and I don't get the impression she looks down on me because of my comfy attire. My parents never would have told me as a teenager that "I didn't have enough lipstick on to leave the house", they would have said, your face is way to pretty to have all that makeup on and I would have left the house that day with my head held a little higher then the day before.

I am glad that you feel more productive and motivated when you are "primped up" even if you are not leaving the house. Call me crazy, but I just don't see the efficiency in vacuuming and dusting in high heels and a string of pearls like I am freaking June Cleaver. By the way, 1950 called and they want their cliche back.

Society does judge a person on their outside appearance and you said "like it or not". Well, I am not going to like it. I am not going to encourage my children to value themselves, or anyone else for that matter, by the way they look. They are going to greet and view the person with no hair because of chemotherapy, the same way they would greet a supermodel and I think they will  be better, kinder souls because of it. They will always understand that they are fortunate for everything they have and that includes the nice new clothes and shoes they wear every day and they also understand that many people are not afforded such things.

I am glad that getting done up each day makes you feel good about yourself. I firmly believe that everyone, especially a mother, needs to do what makes them happy. You stated in your article that you don't think that you are better than any other mom "that doesn't shower for 3 days" but I can't help but feel that the undertone of your article is saying something very different.

Don't apologize for not wanting to join our club, us "dirty moms" tend to get distracted by shiny things like jewelry and new leather boots, so it's probably for the best, because we certainly don't need any additional distractions from taking a shower.


The Bed Making (or lack there of) Incident

My husband and I first placed our house on the market last spring and took it back off at the end of summer with the intentions of giving it another try near the end of winter. We really do love our house but the down fall is that we currently live about 45-50 minutes away from our restaurant. As our boys get older and become involved with sports and other activities, we began to feel the need to move closer to allow us to have more time together as a family.  I never realized just how difficult it is to actually sell your house. I know what you are thinking, of course it is, we have been bombarded by television and newspapers... about the housing market slump. This is not what I am referring to. I am talking about the actual process of placing your house on the market. For me, this includes completing all of these tasks with two active boys, a 70lb dog and a husband who is rarely home.

Our house will be going back on the market shortly and I never quite realized how much extra work I was going to create for myself by selling our home. In a nutshell, I think I have bitten off more than I can chew. My days last time were spent not only taking care of 2 boys, a dog and a fish, may he rest in peace, (which can be exhausting in and of itself) but inspecting windows for fingerprints and dog nose smudges, coercing everyone to use the same shower everyday to limit what I will have to psychotically clean in case of a potential showing, and searching for every kitchen appliance in my cupboards that I had hidden and tucked away so my kitchen appeared "more spacious". If we were lucky, when we had a showing we would maybe get a few hours notice. However, the norm most often then not, was about 1 hour from the time we received a phone until the time the potential buyer would show up.

As we get ready to give it the "ole college try" again, I will share with you a little story from our last attempt at "preparing" our house to go on the market. Is goes a little something like this...

After spending an entire week compulsively cleaning and de-cluttering my house as every article and website said I should do, the time had come for the photographer to come and take the pictures. Every room in the house was ready. The floors were spick and span, the windows were crystal clear, there was not a crumb, strand of dog hair or piece of dirt to be found anywhere and I had succeeded in keeping the house this way for a full 12 hours leading up to the photographer's arrival. (It really is the little things you come to appreciate when you are a mom, can I get an AMEN.) Everything went well, or so I thought, until I received a phone call while out to lunch with my Grandmother a few days later. Apparently, the photographs of our Master Bedroom and Bathroom were not sufficient and the photographer was standing outside my house trying to get in to retake them. In a panic I called my husband, who was currently sleeping in our Master Bedroom, to wake up, make the bed and let the photographer in. If this were a movie, this is where it would cut to me specifically telling my husband "to make the bed and make sure the mattress is not showing". I arrived at the house about an hour later to find my husband leisurely drinking his coffee. As I come into the house, he is quick to tell me that "he made the bed good, but not quite as good as when I make it." I relax, thinking that he probably just didn't arrange the throw pillows as I would have. No big deal, I think to myself.

A few hours later, I casually stroll to our bedroom, where I was horrified to find his version of "making the bed good". For starters, both sides of our mattress were showing because the comforter was on the bed the wrong way and needed to be turned an additional 90 degrees to fit properly. I asked how he didn't realize the comforter wasn't on right, his response "I thought it was a square". Uh, did you not notice the four extra feet of comforter you were shoving down the top and the bottom of the bed? I then ask him "But I told you to make sure the mattress wasn't showing". His response "the top of the mattress isn't showing". Obviously the top of the mattress wouldn't be showing, silly me, I should of specifically stated that I didn't want ANY of the mattress showing.  Next up, the pillows on the bed. While I was able to appreciate his attempt to arrange our throw pillows, I was boggled by the fact that there were 4 king size pillows missing from our bed. So I asked, "why did you not put the rest of the pillows on the bed, and where are they?" His response "I got confused and I couldn't figure out how to arrange them, so I hid them in our closet" Come again? You own and run an entire restaurant but you were confused by an additional 4 pillows on our bed. I ended the conversation in an attempt to protect my sanity and explained that I hoped he had enjoyed the extra 2 minutes he saved by not making the bed properly and not to worry, because next time I will just make sure our 6 year old makes the bed because he knows the difference between a square and a rectangle and he tends to not be "overwhelmed" by pillows.


Exhibit A - Proper Bed Making







Exhibit B - Failed Attempt at Bed Making


I rest my case...

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Mommy Mondays Series - Naptime Decorator

For my first official Mommy Mondays post, I am featuring Liz, also known as the Naptime Decorator. If you have been reading my blog, you know that Liz is one of the pieces of the puzzle that inspired me to start a blog of my own. I follow her blog religiously because it is A-mazing. I am not super crafty but I love to decorate and Liz has some fantastic ideas. She is the kind of girl you want with you if you are ever stuck on an island because she would be able to build you a house and make you curtains and matching throw pillows from what ever she could find. She is that good.  She is an extremely thrifty decorator and shares her secret of reusing many items and making them new with vision and a little spray paint. (FYI she loves spray paint) She offers some wonderful children's activities on her blog as well.

I am not only choosing Liz because of her fabulous thrifty decorating skills but more because she is an all around awesome gal.  She is a stay at mom to 3 children and her happiness and positivity shine through each post as you read and she is always available for questions and willing to offer up any advice. If you read my post the Key to Happiness, Liz is the perfect example of a mom doing what makes her happy. I have provided a link to her blog at the bottom of this post for you to head on over and check her out because I promise, you won't be disappointed.

Happy Monday!
Shannon

Naptime Decorator

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Mommy Mondays

I really have enjoyed "finding my voice" this last month on Secrets of an Almost Supermom. I have decided to to see if any other Moms out there would like to find theirs. We are all so different but at the same time still the same and I would like to take the opportunity to celebrate each Mom. Going forward I will be featuring "Mommy Mondays" on my blog. This is an official invite for any of the Moms who would like to write a guest post to be featured on my page. Your post can be about anything, things you have learned from other mothers, your feelings about being a mother, funny anecdotes... The sky is the limit. If you are interested, just shoot me a quick message on my facebook page and don't forget to "Like" my page while you are there. I already have one Mommy working on her post and I am so excited for her to share her story with you.  I will also take Mondays as an opportunity to share some of the awesome Moms I come across as well!

Have a Great Weekend!
Shannon

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

I think God has a sense of humor

Before reading this post please be respectful of my opinions. I am not attempting to be blasphemous in any way, shape, or form. These are the honest thoughts that float around in my head, I will never engage in any argument concerning religion because I ultimately believe that everyone has the entitlement to believe and feel what is in their heart. If you would like to comment or send me a message, the only thing I ask is that you are kind when doing so.

xoxo
Shannon

My parents did not raise my brother and me attending church every Sunday, or having long and meaningful discussions about religion. We pretty much attended church on an as needed basis, that being weddings and funerals. I know they did and still do have many unanswered questions about God and I don't think they felt comfortable forcing something on us that they had so many conflicted feelings about. My parents have never forced their opinions on us, we have always been allowed the opportunity to develop our own beliefs and thoughts. It is why I am the lone liberal in a family that is swimming with conservatives.

I have always struggled with the rules and constraints that are taught most often with religion. It is, by far, the one thing that has shaken my faith the most. I don't have the ability to see things in such black and white terms because my life consists of so many different shades of gray. I always thought that religion was just something I didn't need in my life and that I had done pretty well without it, but as my boys get older and ask more questions about life and our purpose, I find myself not only seeking the answers for their questions but for my own unanswered questions as well.

I believe in God and I honestly do think he has a sense of humor, especially when it comes to me.  I know he is super busy with all the miracles he performs on a daily basis but I think he must have a sense of humor because 9 times out of 10 that is the only way that things can get through this head of mine, is through laughter, and I think his messages are delivered to each of us in the most effective way that he finds suitable.

I realized that my belief in God did not have to correlate with anyone else. That it didn't always have to fit nicely in the same box that it may fit in for another person because it is allowed to be personal and private if that is the way I prefer it. Sometimes I keep my relationship with God like Vegas, and what happens with God, stays with God. We have a lot of discussions that never leave my head, okay well, mostly I am the one talking and he just listens but I think that's just the way he rolls. He has always struck me as more of the "strong and silent" type, which happens to work out really well when I get into one of my rambling sessions.

I can find the humor in the fact that I am compulsively clean and have a strong aversion to clutter but have been given two boys, one of whom can destroy a room in 10 seconds flat and the other whom is what I like to refer to as an "organized hoarder". This is the one area of life that is black and white for me. We are either organized and in order or I feel like we are one episode away from Hoarders. I can see the humor and irony but I can also see the lesson being taught to me to take it easy, let things go and visit "the gray area" of having control once in a while.

I can find the humor when the priest at my husband's Greek Orthodox Church asks me why we haven't been to mass in a few weeks and I'm all "I am catholic", trying to give the impression that I have been too busy because I have been out hitting mass at every Catholic Church within a 60 mile radius wearing my "Jesus is my Homeboy" T-shirt, even though I haven't attended a Catholic Church mass in probably 10 years and I don't even own one of those shirts. (For the record, I would never lie to a priest, although I don't know many of the "rules", I am assuming that this would be "frowned upon" and that my punishment would involve me reciting one of those prayers that my parents never taught us) I laugh at myself because I know how ridiculous my answer is and the laughter is what gets in my head and allows me to process the real lesson. He wasn't asking for my alibi, he was asking me to join him in celebrating our common belief.  Point taken, God.

I am very up front and honest about my lack of knowledge when it comes to religion. I will never pretend that I have all the answers with anyone, especially my children. I will never be arrogant enough to say that my beliefs concerning life and religion are the only possible way. I will always be open enough to explain why I feel the way I do, or how I came to my conclusions but I will also be humble enough to understand that I can be wrong.  My children's ability to be free thinkers is one of my most important goals for them in life. To explore things, question, and ultimately devise their own opinions on life. Although it wasn't always beneficial for my brother and I, the fact that my parents allowed me to discover my belief in God on my own terms has made it all the more authentic and maybe, just maybe, that was his plan all along.






Monday, February 6, 2012

Soccer Mom

Sunday marked the beginning of Spiro's indoor soccer season. I absolutely love going to his soccer games. This past Sunday was no different than any other game I have been to. I yelled the entire game and I got the inevitable eye rolls and looks that I have grown accustomed too.

Spiro is a child that is not aggressive and at times lacks confidence in himself. It is important for him to have positive reinforcement to help build that part of his character. I would never yell anything negative or attempt to coach him from the sidelines. It's more of a way to let him know that he is doing a great job and to help him gain the confidence he needs to grow. Maybe I am obnoxious or maybe it is a lack of shame when it comes to my children, either way I will never let someone's disapproval stand in the way of doing what I think is best for my boys.

I am going to yell when he kicks the ball, Nice kick buddy!, when he misses the ball, Don't worry, you will get it next time!, when he falls down, "Good job shaking it off Spiro!" I don't care if it is only clinic soccer and some people are annoyed by it because I am going to root for their children too. I am going to show up every Sunday in my yoga pants and long sleeve t-shirt, with very little make-up on. I am going to put my phone in my purse, where it will remain for the entire game, because I am going to be busy learning the names of every player on the team and when Spiro is on the bench, I am going to scream and yell for them as well. I want both my boys to know that Mommy is always on your team, in your corner and has your back. I don't care if they are the best athletes, or the smartest in their class, or the most talented. They are my children and I always want to them know that no matter what they do, as long as they are happy and trying their best, they will never be anything less then brilliant to me. I want them to know that the people who roll their eyes at me for cheering, are the ones that, if you let them, will chip away at your spirit. They are the people who are full of  "you can't do it", and your too much of a dreamer, and your ideas are ridiculous. Don't listen to them. Ever. They are the ones who will always be worried about how things appear on the outside, even though the inside is a disaster. I want my boys to understand that no matter what they do or where they go in life, they can always find me on the sidelines, in the stands, or right next to them cheering in the loudest way possible and that if they happen to make it somewhere really fancy, mommy promises to trade in the yoga pants for something a little more formal.

I have said before that I am a girly girl, and I wasn't very good at sports. I did, however, play rec sports when I was a kid and one specific basketball game stands out in my memory. I was about nine and definitely not what one would call "athletic". I was more along the line of what one would call "uncoordinated". I also was probably in la la land half the time because I was more worried about whether the basketball outfit I had on was cute or if my hair was getting messed up. My mom was always there cheering me along. I didn't touch the basketball that often, because to be quite honest I was scared to have the ball. I don't know what came over me during one game, but I grabbed the ball and dribbled as best as I could down the court and  all I remember to this day is my mom cheering me on the whole way. When I got down court, I shot at the basket and missed because I was that bad.  However, it was kind of a blessing that I missed because it just so happened that I had just dribbled down the court in the wrong direction and had been shooting at the opposing teams basket. Yes, I actually tried to shoot at the other teams basket, several times.  This story has become the go to example in my family when someone wants to explain by limited athletic ability.  I don't mind because the one thing that stands out in my memory from that day is the fact that my mother was cheering for me with the same excited and proud look that she would have had if I had scored the winning basket. She knew that I was trying my best and that was all that mattered to her and because of that, in the end it was all that mattered to me.
  
Spiro didn't score a goal at Sunday's game and it wasn't for lack of effort. Just like most of the players, he wants to feel the exhilaration of scoring a goal for his team. He even missed covering a player on the other team that resulted in a goal because he was busy helping a player that had been hurt and was trying to alert the coaches for help and I think it was the proudest moment I have ever had at one of his soccer games.

I missed one of Spiro's soccer games last year because Billy was sick and when he and the hubby got home, I asked him how the game was. He told me it was good but said "I couldn't hear Daddy. He doesn't cheer as loud as you". Exactly Buddy, and no one ever will.

 P.S. Although Daddy doesn't scream and yell like Mommy, he has your back too.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Key to Happiness

Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn't know you had, 
and dealing with fears you didn't know existed. 
~Linda Wooten


I recently read an article with the headline "Working mothers are less likely to be depressed than stay-at-home moms". I am a stay at home mom, and I have also been a working mom. For me, each role presented its own challenges. My choice to stay at home, was just that, a choice. I am a woman who is blessed to not only have that option to choose but also blessed to have a husband who supported me regardless of my decision.

The article didn't divulge details concerning why they thought stay-at-moms had a higher rate of depression but they did find that when working moms felt they had to "do it all", they also had higher instances of depression. If I had to make an assumption, I would say that whether a mother chooses to work outside the home or stay home with her children is not the cause for depression. In my opinion, a major factor would be our ability as mothers to find time for ourselves. As our lives evolve with marriage and children and work... our priorities shift and at times our willingness to nurture the important part of us as individuals slides down the ladder of importance

For the record, I am not depressed. My decision to stay home with my children was a reflection of what I felt worked best for me as a mother and for my family as a whole. I have been overwhelmed, felt under appreciated and lost at times, but that's because I am a mom and sometimes that's the way we feel. I started this blog because a good friend of mine suggested that "I do something for myself". Although I don't think she realized how astounding her words were for me, they sat with me for several days. When you are a stay at home mom it is easy to lose your identity.  My life is my family and it is very easy for your identity as a person and a woman to fade. At times I felt as though I was no longer Shannon, I was Spiro and Billy's mother and Steve's wife. Through this blog, I have found that I am better at not only being a mother, but also at being a wife when I carve a little time out for myself doing what makes me happy, and for me, that is writing.


I am a wife, a daughter, a friend, a sister but first and foremost a mother. I don't know if that is "healthy" or the right way to prioritize my life but it is what I feel in my heart and when in doubt, I follow my heart.  For a long time, I thought that being a good mother meant that I had to put all of my family's needs above my own but I now realize that once in a while I have to allow time for me as an individual to be a better mother. Thank you Erin, for reminding me of this very important piece of the puzzle. I am very grateful to have a friend who isn't afraid to speak the truth.

I have been told how noble it is of me to choose to stay home with my children.  I always smile politely and say thank you, but I don't believe that I am any more or less noble than Spiro's 1st grade teacher, who is a mother, or my obstetrician, who is a mother, or our pediatrician, who is a mother. We are all on the same side, we are all mothers. I am grateful for the stay at home mothers who help me organize school functions and although I don't have a daughter, I am grateful for all the working mothers who prove to all the little girls out there that the sky is the limit and that they too have choices when they become mothers.

I was frightened to allow people the opportunity to read what goes on in this crazy head of mine and I still panic every time I hit the post button, but thank you to all the mothers who have stopped me or sent me such supportive messages, it is very heartwarming and gives me the confidence to continue to take my "me" time and find my voice.







 











Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I'm just a girl...

With the exception of my bizarre love of football, I am a girly girl. Always have been, always will be. I was never very good at sports (turns out you need coordination for most of them), I don't like to be sweaty and I am not really big on the outdoors unless it involves a beach or a pool that I am laying beside. I am who I am, and it really is just fine with me. I kind of just always assumed that I would have a daughter to dress up, play dolls with or braid her hair.... After two boys, it seems pretty clear that little assumption of mine is probably not going to happen. I love my boys, and I wouldn't trade them for the world, but being the "girly, girl" mommy that I am. Life with an entire house full of people with a y chromosome (including our dog) is sometimes a little overwhelming for a mommy like me.

The following is a small list that I compiled of things I never dreamed would come out of my mouth as a mother.

 #1 - "NO! NO! NO! We don't play with poop!" This was a response that I repeated 3 times in one week when Billy was 2 and made poop his entertainment during nap time. Play with your poop the first time... shame on you. Do it a second time... shame on me. Do it a third time... nap time is now a distant memory that I still like to daydream about to this day.

 #2 - "Can anyone aim in this house" Apparently not. There is not one bathroom in my house which has escaped urine on the walls, on the floor, on the side of the toilet and behind it. I can't even begin to imagine how urine gets behind a toilet.

 #3 - "I am sorry, I am a girl. I don't know why God made me a girl, he just did" Billy was quite angry with me a few weeks ago because I was a girl. He wanted us "all to be da same" and apparently me and my vagina had screwed that up. I really wanted to explain to him that if I was the same as "da west of dem", then he wouldn't be here but I resisted when I realized the turn that conversation would probably take.

#4 - "Can I please just use the bathroom ALONE!" I don't remember bothering my mother while she was in the bathroom but I actually believe that both my kids and the dog secretly wait for me to hit the bathroom before they are dying of thirst, want a snack, or want to know "what I am doing". I have explained to them that they have never found me in the bathroom throwing a party, or eating mounds of chocolate, or playing with a secret stash of Batman toys but they still have some deep seeded fear that they are missing out on something.

#5 - "Just pee in the yard" I do at least encourage that they face away from our neighbors and we generally only do this during the warm months when they are outside and either wet from swimming or filthy from doing boy things like rolling around in dirt, but this is a complete defense mechanism created by #2.


When I hear people say that "we are just not ready" for a baby yet, I chuckle to myself because I know that not one parent, including myself, looks back and thinks "yeah we were so prepared to raise human beings".  Even when you "think" you are ready, you are not. You never are fully prepared, because we are simply not capable of comprehending any of the wonderful or horrendous things parenting includes until we are actually, in the moment. I had no idea what I was getting myself into good and bad when becoming a parent. I never understood the instantaneous earth shattering love you feel when your first child is placed on your chest or the fact that my heart could double in size to fill up with that same love when my second was born. I never understood the pain I would feel to see my children sick or in the hospital and I never understood the pride I would feel when one of them walked up in front of the entire school to receive a student of the month award. However, if I have to be honest, I didn't understand the definition of exhaustion until I had children, or that at times I would become a "mean mommy" and not always find the time to shower. Although my mother told me that cleaning up your own child's throw up at 3 am wouldn't bother me, it is still gross, I still gag and practically have convulsions but I understand that she meant I wouldn't be resentful for having to do it and for that she is absolutely right.

I know that one day I will look back at this chaotic time with fondness, and I realized that today when Spiro moved his stool away from the bathroom sink because he is tall enough now to brush his teeth without it and Billy now tells me on a daily basis that he wants to do everything "all by myself". I am always pretty honest and animated when I discuss life with all boys and I may never get the girly girl I always assumed I would have, but maybe that's the way it is supposed to be. I may be the only girl in the house but maybe I am also supposed to be the only girl in their hearts... for now and that is certainly fine with me.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Luck of the Irish

I decided to make an impromptu visit to Wal-Mart this evening after dinner. Spiro's teacher had mentioned in passing, the last time I was volunteering, that she was running low on a few supplies likes crayons and dry erase markers in her classroom and I thought it might be a kind gesture to send in a few packages of both items. As we were packing up to leave Spiro asked if he could wear my button, and I figured sure, no problem, wear the button without paying much attention to him. He found an old name tag of mine from my first job out of college a few weeks ago and sometimes likes to wear it on his shirt. So, I packed the kids up, explained to both of them the game plan and the behavior that I expected out of each of them and out the door we went.

Billy fell asleep during the car ride there which is basically the equivalent to him growing horns and fangs because he is a nightmare to wake up. My normal protocol is to attempt to gently wake him and then get the hell out of dodge, but I was limited by the fact that we were in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I hoped for the best, woke him up and announced in my most excited, mommy voice - "Wake up, we are at Wal-Mart!" He proceeded to scold me and tell me that I "never let him sleep" but I just tried to remain positive and let him know that Mommy hasn't slept in about 7 years and off we went.

We picked up everything we needed and a few items that we didn't but all things considered, both the boys were pretty well behaved throughout the store. Even the nice, little old lady who checked me out commented what nice sweet boys they were being and that she really liked Spiro's button. I told her thank you and that yes, he has really grown fond of my old name tag and likes to wear it out a lot lately.

When we got home, we went through our normal routine of putting shoes away and hanging up coats... and that's the point that my heart sank and I realized what "button" the nice, little old lady was referring to.


You can see my old name tag on the right but just in case you can't see his "other button"...

Yup, that's right.  Apparently he found this little gem earlier today in one of my drawers. I explained that this button is not a button for children and asked if he had been wearing it the entire time in Wal-Mart and he said "Yes Mommy, the lady at the checkout liked it." As proud as I am that he wanted to flaunt his Irish heritage I think I may need to explore an alternate outlet for him to do so. However, to be quite honest, "Irish I Had A Beer" too.

9KZ2F2YWKYBF

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Operation Cease Telemarketers

My husband and I recently began the process of putting our house up for sale again (which I am sure you will hear plenty about) and being the conscientious buyers we like to think that we are, we contacted our mortgage broker to receive one of those nifty pre-approval letters to submit to a seller when we start to look for a new house. Now I am not exactly sure how, but I suspect that because our credit reports were pulled, other mortgage companies also now know that we have been pre-approved. For the past week, we have been bombarded with NON STOP phone calls from these "competing" mortgage companies and when I say NON-STOP, I had one mortgage company call me 10 times in one day. Multiply that by several other companies also calling us, and you begin to feel our frustration. Even the children are beginning to become a little resentful and keep asking me why our phone is ringing all the time. So the other day, after two phone calls in the 45 minutes I was getting Spiro ready for school in the morning, the wheels in my head started turning.

Now I'm sure that many of you would just pick up the phone and tell the person on the other end that you are not interested and to stop calling but that's just not the way I roll. First and foremost I am horrible with negotiating or dealing with any type of sales people, that's more the hubby's territory. He never minds being bad cop and I like being good cop in these situations, so it kind of works out perfectly.  I don't know what it is about sales people, they just make me nervous and then the next thing you know I have 15 magazines in my mailbox that I never wanted, a "hoveround" that really isn't practical because there is no place for the kids to sit and bottles of Pro-Active showing up at my door step every month. Even the nice old lady that calls from Purple Heart or The Salvation Army can send me into an anxiety ridden tailspin and then I am running around my house trying to fill up a bag to throw on my front porch because I just couldn't say "no, I am sorry, I don't have anything donate". Call me naive, gullible or whatever, but I just seem to cave when these people corner me on the phone.

So I knew that talking to them was not an option, and I didn't want to be mean, but I still wanted to get my point across. I hatched a plan and enlisted the help of the boys. I decided that instead of myself getting suckered into a conversation with the telemarketer I would pass the phone off to my 6 year old, Spiro. (Realistically, he's probably the one who should be talking to them anyway, considering he is the maturest one in the family). I thought it was quite a clever concept myself. We practiced throughout dinner that night to ensure that we would be prepared for the barrage of phone calls we have come to expect each evening and then wouldn't you know it, all the phone calls stopped. Not one phone call in the days following. I knew they were just waiting to strike, so I kept the kids focused and mentally prepared for the challenge. I made sure Billy memorized the lines as well, as a backup in case Spiro chickened out. We practiced in the car, during lunch... and when they came a calling, we were going to be ready.  Low and behold, a few days later we saw that familiar phone number on the Caller ID and Operation Cease Telemarketers went into full affect.

The following is the dialogue from that conversation. Feel free to use our tactics as you see fit and/or share with others who may also find themselves in a similar predicament.

Me: Hello
Telemarketer: May I speak with Mrs. A
Me: This is Mrs A.
Telemarketer: I am calling to offer you a great mortgage opportunity.
Me: Maybe it's best if you speak to my "financial advisor", he just so happens to be right here.
Spiro: This is Mrs. A's  financial advisor. What kind of interest rate are we looking at?
Telemarketer: BLAH BLAH BLAH
Spiro: That's highway robbery, I could get better rates from a loan shark.
Telemarketer: BLAH BLAH BLAH
Spiro: Look, if you can throw in a few Nintendo DS games to sweeten the pot, I might be able to make this deal happen
Telemarketer: BLAH BLAH BLAH
Spiro: I think it would be best if you contacted me at my office, my number is 867-5309 and my assistant's name is Jenny.
                                                                    
                                        Score
Telemarketers - 0                                      Mommy - 1

Ball's in your court Mortgage Companies.











Saturday, January 21, 2012

Letter to Children's Programming

Dear Nickelodeon, PBS, Sprout...

First and foremost, I would like to say thank you for entertaining my children to allow me to fold laundry, sweep, cook, clean..., or lock myself in the bathroom to have 5 minutes of peace of quiet. It is very much appreciated.

Secondly,  My children have hijacked my television and it seems that you are on all day long and since I am unable to stay awake for the 11 o'clock news,  I would greatly appreciate it if you could place one of those fancy "news tickers" on the bottom of the screen that I see so frequently on news and sports channels. This would be of great help to ensure that I know what the hell is going on in the world. Last week, I found out several days after, that a Cruise ship had been sinking and today, I was shocked to find that it had snowed last night, which apparently everyone else had been aware of . Don't even get me started on politics, because at this point I am lucky to know who our current president is.  Thank you in advance for your kind consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,
Secrets of an Almost Supermom

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Soul Sistas

“It’s not where you are in life, it’s who you have by your side that matters.” — Unknown



My best friend's husband was riding in the car last year with their 6 year old son, listening to the song "Hey, Soul Sister" by Train. Her son asked  her husband what a "Soul Sister" was, and he explained how his aunt and mommy (my best friend) were sisters because they shared the same mommy and then said "but you know how Ms. Shannon and Mommy talk to each other about 10 times a day but don't share the same mommy? well, that would be Mommy's soul sister." Although I don't think that was the kind of  "Soul Sister" train was referring to, I chuckle every time I think about this story. It makes me smile and makes me feel lucky that I have a "Soul Sister". So going forward, when speaking of my best friend Sara throughout this blog, she will lovingly be referred to as my Soul Sister.

My Soul Sister and I go way back. We have been close friends since high school and even lived together in college. As our lives progressed into adulthood, ours seemed to take parallel paths. We married within months of each other had children within months of each other and lost our sanity together at the same time.

Motherhood is hard, it's not easy and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying (or heavily medicated all the time). It has so far, included my biggest accomplishments but at the same time my biggest failures. Believe me, I fail a lot and I am not afraid to admit it. When friends call me Supermom, I feel like Oz, "No one pay attention to the man behind that curtain". In short, it's an illusion at times. If you see us at a birthday party, the kids in nice ironed clothes and me actually showered with make-up on, know that it took me the whole morning to get everyone clean, dressed and out the door.

My Soul Sister talks me off the ledge on those days when I feel like I am failing most. We have a competition called Worlds Worst Mom and we like to call each other and bump the other out of the #1 spot. As of right now, I think I hold top honors with my performance this year of driving all the way to Spiro's elementary school when I actually needed to be at Billy's preschool to pick Billy up. The sad part... I passed by Billy's preschool on my way to the elementary school.

We spend a good amount of time on the phone each night making completely inappropriate jokes about being a mother that only we would get. (and praying that Child Protective Services is not listening in)  We discuss the really important, unattainable things in life like taking a shower on a daily basis, wearing heels again, and the luxury of sleeping through the night. She is one of the only people that knows the "true mommy" in me, the one that loses her patience and doesn't always feel all warm and fuzzy about motherhood every minute of every day. The mommy that feels defeated at times and can't believe she has been allowed to raise children. Our phone conversations rarely consist of completed sentences that are not interrupted by a screaming child or a yelling mother saying "stop that", "get down" or "this thing, I am holding to my ear, is  a telephone" but some how through all that, they still reach my soul. After all, that's what Soul Sisters are for. She is the one who sent me a card to cheer me up, even though she was at her darkest hour with a sick child But hey, that's what Soul Sisters are for and when her mom was fighting for her last days of life, I didn't wait for her to ask, I just showed up at her house and listened because that's what  Soul Sisters are for. She is the one that I call exhausted and overwhelmed and doesn't make me feel weak for admitting it but reaffirms that I am not alone and that she too is failing, treading water, and not sure if she is "doing it right" either.

I detest showy, bragging parents. I can remember taking Spiro to his 3 year old preschool open house and a mother inside bragging to the teacher about how her little girl knew her entire alphabet in english and spanish, yada, yada, yada... All I can remember is chuckling to myself, and thinking  I hope your kid isn't playing with my kid. I want to be around parents who are real. Who aren't afraid to say, you know what, I have absolutely know clue what I am doing either and I am flying by the seat of my pants.

It is so important for us as mothers to have a person or place to share our insecurities and doubts and not feel weakened for it . There are times when my Soul Sister and I share ours with our group of friends who don't have children yet and there look of horror is priceless but we just look at each other and know that we were much better mothers before we had children too.  I have never forgotten the cashier at my local grocery store who took pity on me as I was trying to check out $300+ worth of groceries with a screaming newborn on my chest and a very impatient 2 year old at my side, and instead of giving me a look, she quickly checked me out, told me I must have forgotten my 20% off coupon which she applied to my account and found someone to help me to my car. If I was too frazzled to properly show my gratitude that day, "Thank you, kind cashier lady, for helping a sister out and letting me know in your own way that I was not alone." My challenge to all of you is the next time you see or hear a mother struggling, find your own way to let her know that she is not alone, make a joke, help her to car, grab whatever it is that she is trying to reach for but can't because maybe she has a baby on her hip. Tell her "yeah, it really sucks sometimes, this motherhood thing" because after all, that's what "Soul Sisters" are for...