Insanity of Motherhood

Motherhood, marriage, and midlife.


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Wednesday Words of Wisdom – Travelista Blog

Traveling abroad is no easy feat with five family members. Several months ago as I was preparing for our family trip to England/Ireland I did research on how to pack lightly.  Packing light was a necessity for the family and I because we were traveling with a large group.  Packing less meant saving money, time, and effort.  Our family goal was for each person to be able to include all the needed items for the trip in one small carry on bag, per person.

Amazingly we achieved our goal.  Each of us brought only one carry and a smaller tote bag on the plane.  We didn’t check any bags in on any flights we flew on.  Packing lightly was not easy for me.  I’m an over packer.  I love to be prepared for anything and have an outfit to wear with any event.  The idea of packing two weeks of clothing, in a small carry on, was stressful enough, but I was also concerned about how fashionable I would look on my travels.  I wanted to enjoy the sights of Europe looking as if I was meant to live in there, not like just another American tourist making their rounds.

Fashion and travel don’t always go together, but luckily I found an addictive website that helped me pack only the necessary items and look like the fashion guru I’ve always hoped to be.  The travel site I found is called Travelista.  It is a small site that focuses on simplifying traveling, especially when in comes to packing light.  I love, love this website.  The packing advice given has changed my travel life forever.

Two must read articles are How to Pack Light and 8 Ways to Pack Like a Fashionista.  The information and advice shared in these article is great.  I thought I would show you what I packed for my two-week trip to Europe using the advice given from Travelista.

I tried to follow the packing guidelines as closely as possible.  The color combinations may seem dull for Fall, but I was happy with my choices.  Every item of clothing could be easily worn with each other and perfect for layering.  Layering is the key to successful light packing.  I will show you my Spring/Fall packing list and one for Summer.  The colors in the Summer packing list are much for colorful.

Spring/Fall Items

Summer Items

The tips used for packing aren’t just for women.  I applied the same principles to pack for my husband and three boys too.  We had room for all of our personal grooming things  and were able to accommodate temperature ranges rain/sun and from the low 40 degrees to the lower 70 degrees.  In case you are wondering we did laundry three times during our trip.

Pretty cool, right?  I certainly think so.  Since our trip to Europe I’ve spent hours preparing for our next family adventure.  Traveling with the kids may not be easy, but at least I won’t have to worry about packing.

 

 


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Wednesday Words of Wisdom – The Read-Aloud Handbook

With summer just around the corner I thought back to a blog post I did a while ago about summer reading.  Today I thought I would re-post the blog and make a book recommendation for parents who hope to encourage reading this summer with their child.

All three of my boys have learned to read at different ages.  The thing that has been consistent with all of them is my husband and I have always read to them every night.

“You may have tangible wealth untold:

Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be…

I had a mother who read to me.” -Strickland Gillilan, The Reading Mother

My children have opted not to do any summer camps this year.  They did not want to do any camps last year either.  As much as I like saving money,  I was sure hoping they would sign up for something.  The thought of entertaining three boys, all day, all summer long seems a bit daunting.

We have been doing different fun things this summer, but to be honest, I cannot do a ‘big’ outing everyday.  Most days they will have to find ways to entertain themselves.  I have increased their computer and TV time for the summer, but it is only an hour a day, during the week.  So, what are they doing with all the extra free time?  Read, of course.

One of things I have noticed different about this summer, is my middle son is now reading chapter books in his free time.  Tall Boy has gained confidence in his reading this year and now sees reading as something to enjoy, opposed to a chore he was required to do.

Tall Boy, has found a great book series, Warriors, and is slowing working his way toward reading the entire series.  Every day I find him laying on his bed reading…it’s really wonderful.  Considering not only two years ago, he was struggling to even read at grade level.

The Warrior book series is about cats.  His aunt started giving my Old Boy the books after she would read them herself.  She loves cats and thought my oldest son would enjoy them.  Old Boy has read them all and now the books are in the boy’s bedroom.  Tall Boy must have come across a book one day, started reading, liked it and the rest in history.

Children reading is not as common as it used to be.  Reading takes time and quiet time at that.  But one of most important things about reading, when it comes to children, is an interest and motivation.  A child must have an interest in wanting to read and that will be his/her motivation.

But how can parents get their children interested?  Any parent of reading children will tell you, because they already know the answer.  You must read to them.  Starting when they are very young and continuing as long as possible.  When parents share the world of books with their kids, they begin to see their value and are motivated to learn to read themselves.

When I was pregnant with my third child, I was working at the boy’s school, as teacher’s assistant in the classroom.  One day the school’s librarian came up to me to give me a gift for the baby.  It was a book, of course.  What was interesting about the book was it was not a book for the baby, it was a book for parents.

The book was called, The Read-Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease.  The book is not a parenting book or a how to teach your child to read, but a book about teaching your child to want to read.  It clearly explains why to read aloud, when to begin and end, do’s and don’ts and ways to encourage independent reading.  One of my favorite sections of the book is, the Treasury of Read-Alouds.  It is a complete listing of books to read to children from infant to young adulthood.

Most parents read to their children when they are very young.  Each night the bedtime routine consists of bath and reading time.  It sounds familiar right?  But once the child learns to read on his own, the parent suddenly stops reading to the child.  The wonderful nighttime routine is over.  But in the book, The Read-Aloud Handbook, the author says the routine of reading, daily to your child should continue well into the teenage years.

Every night, my husband still reads to the teenage boys.  It became my husband’s responsibility, because he is gone all day and at night he then can have one on one time with the boys.  My oldest son has always been an independent reader, but my Tall Boy has not.  After my husband and I read the handbook, we both agreed reading daily to the older boys should continue.  Interestingly, the boys continued to enjoy their Dad reading every day to them.

My middle son had an interest in Harry Potter books, but when he wanted to start reading them his reading level was not high enough.  My husband slowly, chapter after chapter, read all the books to the boys.  It became a great source of connection for them.  They would discuss the books, see the movies and talk about the characters.  Now this week they will be seeing the final movie in a great fashion, at the midnight showing.  Their love of the books now becomes a celebration, along with millions of other Harry Potter book lovers.

Because my middle son was read to, and listened to books on CD (a handbook recommendation), his comprehension level was higher than his reading level for many years.  Then one day, the reading level met the comprehension level and result is independent reading.  It has been a slow process, but a good one.

One of my favorite memories with my Mom and Dad, is when they used to read to me.  Mom would read picture books and Dad the comics.  I remember often it would be my only one-on-one time with them.  As my husband and I read to our boys, I hope they will have the same wonderful memories…being read to.


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Wednesday Words of Wisdom – Henry & Tink A Remarkable Romance

A while ago I was looking through the paper and came across a book review that caught my eye. The book Henry & Tink, written by Cathy Conheim and B.J. Gallagher, is a children’s story about a friendship between a dog and a cat.  But it isn’t the friendship that’s unique.  It’s the animals themselves.  The sweet dog (Tink) was born with only two legs and the kind cat (Henry) lost one of his legs and now only has three.

Henry & Tink is a delightful book written for children, but everyone will enjoy the story.  The book is simply written telling who Tink is and how she was found by her owners.  Once Tink is adopted her new owners meet Henry’s owners and they decide the two animals must meet.  The story is about how the two animals come to enjoy each other’s company and become friends.

What makes the book wonderful is the lovely illustrations and the message that being different isn’t good or bad.  Each animal is aware they are different, but know they are capable of loving the same as anyone else.  Love has no boundaries, even if someone is missing a limb or two.

I recommend this book for preschool aged children and beyond.  My husband and I both enjoyed reading this book to Little Boy, but caught the teenagers reading it too.  Animal lovers will enjoy this book as much as the children.  Love has no boundaries between animals and humans either.

I would like to dedicate today’s blog to my two beautiful sisters.  They are two of the best pet parents I know.  My oldest sister is a devoted, caring cat owner and my middle sister is a loving, compassionate owner of two adorable dachshund dogs.  You can understand now why this book caught my eye and has a special place in my heart.

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Happy Reading!


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Wednesday Words of Wisdom – Girlfriend Circles

A while ago I was talking to my husband about our friendship. We discussed my frustration with him about a male/female situation we were dealing with.  We both had very different ideas on how the situation should be handled.  The differences came because of our gender differences.  It was one of the first times I didn’t feel understood by my husband.

About midway through our discussion I told my husband I needed to talk to someone else.  He agreed with me.  As I walked away I tried to think who I could talk too.  The problem was the situation was personal and painful.  I couldn’t think of the right person to discuss things with.  My husband has been my best friend for over 20 years.  He has always been the one I talked to when I needed someone.

I let the issue go and worked it out myself.  But after a while thought how nice it would be to have one or two close female friends who I could confide more, personal things.  I am very fortunate that I have a lot of close friends, but not one best female friend.  Best friends are very popular these days.  We hear the term BFF (Best Friends Forever) all the time.  My oldest sister has a BFF.  They have been best friends for over 30 years.  When a situation comes up they call each other first.  Often they travel together and have leaned on each other during the hard times.  I began to wonder if maybe I could find a BFF too.

During my search on the internet I came across a wonderful blog about female friendships.  The blog is called Girlfriend Circles, written by Shasta Nelson.  The blog is about friendships, not just best friends.  It focuses on the importance of having and maintaining friends through our lives.  Using research based information, Shasta, writes ways to improve you existing friendships and even how to find a BFF.

One of the most interesting parts of the blog is understanding what types of friendships we need for happiness.  I was under the impression friendships were basically in two groups:  close friends and acquaintances.  I learned that there are several more groups of friendships that we need types.  Shasta writes about the concept of needing different types of friends with her “Circles of Connectiveness Continuum“.   The Continuum is a broken down into five friendship groups.

  • Contact Friends
  • Common Friends
  • Confirmed Friends
  • Community Friends
  • Committed Friends

Each groups of friends needs to be cared for and developed.  After reading “Circles of Connectiveness” I realized I have quite a few contact, common and community friends.  I consider myself to be social and have many connections.  However, because I know so many people I often have trouble making deeper connections with people who could lead to the BFF group, Committed Friends.  It makes sense.  It you spend your time with many people you don’t have enough time to develop deeper level friendships.  It also explains why my husband is my best friend because we spend so much time together.

I love this blog for so many reasons.  Each week a different topic about friendship is discussed everything from, “What to do with a toxic friend?” to “How to make new friends in a new city”.  Often we take times to learn ways to improve our marriage and parenting so why not also have a resource to help out with friendships too?  Shasta has a new book recently published which I plan to purchase called, Friendships Don’t Just HappenThe book reviews so far look good.

I hope this will be a helpful resource for you. It has been for me.  Who knows?  Maybe finding a BFF will happen sooner than I think…if I can remember to make the time.


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Wednesday Words of Wisdom – Spoken Words

I’m a fan of quotes especially motivational quotes.  If my brain seems fixated on a particular situation, often I will read or hear a sentence that will help me to snap out of it.  Some of the best words of wisdom have come from people who are closest to me.  Sometimes they have repeated a known quote, but more often they create their own thoughts and share their knowledge with me.

Today I thought I would share some of the best words of wisdom I have received from my friends and family.

Life is too short to hang out with people you don’t like.

This quote comes from my mother.  Many years ago I asked her why she no longer stayed in contact with a friend.  She told me the friend was critical of her housekeeping habits.  My mother was a single parent at the time raising five children.  Between working full-time and caring for the children she didn’t keep her house as clean as she used to.  Her friend came over to our house one time and told my mother she needed to mop the floor.  My mother realized she was not the kind of friend she needed and slowly ended the friendship.  She showed me the importance of surrounding yourself with support, not criticism.

Everything will be alright in the end.  If it’s not alright, it’s not the end.

This quote came to me printed on a card years ago.  I received the card from my older sister.  I had recently received a diagnosis, Sensory Processing Disorder, for Tall Boy.  I was overwhelmed with the diagnosis and how to support my him.  My sister sent me the card and a lovely note reminding me how everything would be fine.  She was right.  It took a few years, but things turned out alright.

He is trying to separate from you, but realizes he still needs you. 

Years ago when Old Boy was in middle school he changed from a sweet, considerate boy to a difficult, grumpy boy.  Most of his anger and frustrations were taken out on me.  I was confused why his behavior changed and lost how to help.  This quote came from my older brother who explained to me how a boy wants to be independent from his mother.  In the process of separating some boys are mean to their mother in order for the separation to happen.  The boy often feels conflicted for his desire to be independent and to stay connected.  My brother’s quote allowed me to be less emotional as the separation occurred and to not take my son’s comments so personally.

They don’t give out awards for suffering.

One summer I experienced a terrible ache in my side.  The pain was unbearable.  Instead of going to the doctor right away I stayed home.  After a long while I called my friend, Jane Ann, who told me to end my suffering and go to the emergency room.  She mentioned they don’t give out awards for tolerating great pain.  I went to the emergency room and discovered I had a kidney stone.  I was given medication for pain and my suffering ended.

Don’t listen to Mom.  Do what’s right for you.

Prior to meeting my husband I applied for several jobs located outside of the United States.  After meeting him I was offered a job to work in London, England.  I knew after just a few months of meeting my husband that he was the ‘one’.  The problem came because I could decide whether to take the job or stay in the states.  I called my mom for advice and she told me I was a fool not take the job.  Heartbroken I phoned my oldest sister who told me to do what was best for me and to not listen to mom.  I followed her advice and ended up taking the job and had my husband move over to London to live with me.  Best decision I ever made.

It’s your blog do what you want.

When I started my blog I had no idea how to make it work.  I wanted people to read, but felt pressured to create something others thought I should write.  I spoke to my husband about the pressure I was feeling and he told me there were no rules for my blog.  He said it was my creation so I was the one who could decide what it should be about or look like.  His statement gave me the confidence to try different styles of writing that were not normally found on a mother’s blog.  The results have been positive.  I’m so grateful for his support.

Wisdom comes from all sorts of places.  I am fortunate to surround myself with loving people who are honest, intelligent and genuinely concerned for my well-being.   Sometimes the best knowledge comes from the people who know and love you best


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Wednesday Words of Wisdom – Tiny Buddha

Today’s blog is a day behind because yesterday was a crazy, busy day.  A while ago I did a blog post about a book I recommended.  The book was called Buddhism for Mothers, by Sarah Napthali.  Although I am not a practicing Buddhist, I enjoyed reading this book and have found many of the aspects of Buddhism helpful.

My spiritual path lead me to learn more about Buddhism.  One of the great resources I have come across is a wonderful website dedicated to the roots of Buddhism.  It is not a religious site, but more a place to gain simple wisdom and live a happier life.  The website is called Tiny Buddha.

Tiny Buddha was created to gain insight and apply it to our stressful and complex lives.   The website features real stories from people around the world.  There are stories about happiness, motivation, inspiration, love, relationships, meaning, possibilities, mindfulness, and letting go.   Each article provides wisdom to improve the quality of our life.   The website publishes daily blog posts with wonderful inspirational quotes.

Recently I came across an article featured on Tiny Buddha that sent a message I needed to hear.  The article called 10 Ways to Be Who You Really Arewritten by Paula Grieco.  It provided me an important reminder to be my authentic self.  There was one quote in particular I really enjoyed.

Every time we make small decisions to fit in, whether as a child or as an adult, we are burying a little part of ourselves down deep. This is really serious business, this denying of who we are. Make it a habit, and you risk becoming confused about who you really are.

When I became a mother years ago something switched in my brain.  The uncertainty of motherhood created doubt in my ability to do the job.  Instead of relying on my instincts (my normal way of operating) I began to seek others for advice.  The more advice I sought, the more I wanted to do things differently than I was doing.  I began to want other people to approve of my mothering.  Approval meant doing things the way others thought was best for me.

As time went on I became quieter about my mothering views.  I also became quieter about other aspects in my life.  My desire to be liked caused me to gravitate toward strong personalities who wanted to be in control and voice their opinions, but not listen to mine.  Overtime I began to deny who I really was.  I became someone other than myself.

For the last 2 1/2 years I have searched for my true self, the person I lost many years ago.  I believe I have found her and I like who she is.  The article reminded me how to focus on being myself, not an image that I think someone wants me to be.  I am happier now than I have been in a very long time.  I am grateful to Tiny Buddha for the reminder to keep doing what I am doing.

I hope you will find Tiny Buddha to be a helpful resource in your spiritual path, no matter what your religion is.

To learn more about Tiny Buddha please check out the website here.

 

 

 


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Wednesday Words of Wisdom – Cats in the Cradle

The other day I was driving listening to the radio.  A song played that I haven’t heard in a long time.  It was called, Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapman.  I remember hearing this song all the time growing up.  I know all the words to the song, but that day I paid close attention to the lyrics.  The lyrics talk about a man who becomes a father and how he doesn’t slow down his busy life to enjoy his son.

What made me listen closely to the lyrics was a conversation my husband and I had recently.  My husband expressed how if he had been more aggressive at work early on he would be farther ahead career wise.  Now in his mid forties he was finding it hard to make big career advancements.  We talked about it and I explained how his choice to be home every night for dinner and do little travel was a good one.  Although he could be in a career making more money, money could not replace the amount of time he spends with his boys.  My husband is home every night to play with Little Boy.  He helps with math with Tall Boy and takes Old Boy out to practice driving.  His contributions to our family are invaluable.  I could not imagine doing the job of parenting without him.

My husband and I have worked hard to keep our life simple.  We focus on caring for our boys in hopes one day they will choose to do the same for us.  We role model what we believe is truly the most important thing about being a parent…being there.

Today I thought I would share the lyrics for the song Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapman

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say “I’m gonna be like you dad
You know I’m gonna be like you”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home dad?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw”, I said “Not today
I got a lot to do”, he said, “That’s ok”
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
“Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?”
He shook his head and said with a smile
“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle and kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son? I don’t know when,
but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

Here is musical link to the song if you have never heard it before.

The lyrics give a reminder of what can happen if we lose sight of enjoying time with our children.