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Monday, April 29, 2013

Top 10 Advantages to Having an All-Girl Family


As a mom of three daughters, I have no idea what it’s like to raise a son. At this point, I may never know, and I am no longer wistful about it, especially when I look at the bright side.  For starters, one major benefit, which really isn't all that exclusive to females or males, is the ability to pass down an entire wardrobe – among other things like toys, hair accessories and entertainment -- from one daughter to the other.  It’s certainly a temporary benefit, at least until middle school when it won’t be so cool to wear to your older sister’s hand-me-downs, let alone clothes from last season. There are so many other advantages. While many are clich√© and have been accumulated by word of mouth over the years, they all somewhat ring true. Check out some of the other advantages to having an all-girl family. 

1.    Lower car insurance for females. Who knows why insurance companies charge higher rates for male drivers? Perhaps, girls are not big risk takers (see #4). Whoever said that hasn’t met my two-year-old. In any case, with the probability of three teenage drivers in our house at one time, I’ll welcome the lower premiums.
2.    Cheaper grocery store bills. As a general rule, girls eat much less than boys. I would argue this advantage only comes into play later in life. In my observation, small children (under the age of five) regardless of gender, eat about the same amount of food. Teenage boys, especially athletic ones, can eat as much as a small village.
3.   Girls smell a lot better. By the time a girl turns three or four years old, she begins to care about her hygiene…a lot more than a boy would. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Just visit a middle school girls’ bathroom! But, in my experience, I’ve encountered way more foul smelling boys than girls.
4.    Your heart may stay intact by not having to deal with daredevils. As the old saying goes, boys will be boys. They are rough and tumble -- fearless and spontaneous. They often live quite recklessly. The advantage to this lifestyle is boys tend to be ambitious go getters, but they get hurt…a lot! Girls aren’t as prone to jumping off the top of the roof or driving vehicles at extremely high speeds. So, I am hoping this means more restful nights for me and less visits to the hospital although in my five short years of being a parent, I’ve been to urgent care for falls at least three times.
5.    Girls can be more sensitive to others’ feelings and needs. Girls are emotional, which many consider a downfall. But, at the same time, emotional people tend to be more sensitive to others’ feelings. When a loved one is upset or hurt, girls go out on a limb to help. Particularly for the oldest girl, adopting that nurturing motherly instinct is almost a given.
6.   Girls are A LOT more talkative. That’s probably good and bad, but for the sake of the argument I’m making here, I’ll only discuss the good. Female humans in general tend to be much better at expressing themselves. How they’re feeling and what they think about anything is never really a secret. As long as your daughter is on speaking terms with you, she is an open book—even with thoughts you don’t want to hear. Mine are often quite sassy. For instance, just the other day, my five-year-old daughter asked me with disdain, “Mommy, are you going to wear THAT?” On the same token, girls are equally likely to share compliments. With boys, it’s sometimes hard to figure out how they are feeling, since many are devoid of emotional display. Again, there are exceptions to the rule.
7.    Sleepovers are just easier when there are no boys in the house. We have plenty of friends who have both sons and daughters whom we love dearly. However, I can’t say I would be completely comfortable allowing my girls to attend sleepovers with their sons in the house. The reciprocal isn’t more appealing either. Imagine if I was the proud mom of a teenage son, and one of my daughters invited a female friend to spend the night at our house.  A non-relative girl sleeping over with my son under the same roof? I can list a number of reasons why it would make many moms think twice about it. Perhaps, this girl is just using my daughter to get closer to my son and plans to seduce him when the lights go down. I’d be on high alert all night long listening for every peep (lucky for me, I am a superbly light sleeper)! Of course, I’m generalizing, but that’s the fun of it. For the parents who allow their daughters to have a sleepover at my house: you can rest easier since there are no boys living here!
8.    Moms have an advantage with girls since we were girls…once. As an adult woman, I know what it’s like to be a girl since it wasn’t exactly eons ago that I was one. Some things have changed over the years. But, for the most part, the growing up part—becoming your own person and separating from your parents –is all the same.  I understand the need for girls to meticulously protect their privacy. I understand what it means to be fiercely independent. I understand that moms have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and don’t really “get” their daughters.  Of course, none of this will make me any more willing to compromise my beliefs or the values and morals I expect my girls to exhibit when they leave our home. But, I will utilize this advantage wisely.  For what it’s worth, it will give me pause before I open my mouth to nag, lecture, shame, offer unsolicited advice or delve out punishments. Which brings me to the next one…
9.    Daughters emotionally check out and leave you as teens, but they eventually come back. Boys and girls both start pulling away from parents as soon as they hit puberty – or a little earlier. But, once the boys pull away, they’re never yours again (Sorry moms of sons...it’s true.). Why? Well, when your son gets married, you’ll have to share him with his wife. Most women really aren’t all that amenable to sharing the men in their lives, but that’s a topic for another post. When your son has another woman in his life, it’s difficult to repurpose your relationship with him into that intimate, profound bond, which many moms and daughters enjoy (In all honesty, that’s why he has his dad.). If your son grows up to have his own daughter, you might as well just forget it. For moms of girls, after your daughter is married, as long as you have forged a good relationship as adults, you’ll pretty much have her forever—and possibly unlimited access to your grandkids as a result.
10. Daughters offer better long-term care options. When I am old and decrepit, most likely I’ll have a shot at one of my daughters taking me in their home to live. Shhh…but, I have already secretly selected the daughter with whom I want to live.  She’s also the one most likely to feel guilty enough to take me in. My husband can live with one of the others. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Highlights of March


Do you know what happens when you have a blog and a busy life? You have all these great things write about it, but no time to actually write it. How many things have I missed blogging about since the last post? Quite a bit! But, I'll cover the most important items of the month.

Our First Girl Turns Four
My oldest daughter, Jamison, turned four on March 3. It’s hard to believe that time has flown by so fast, and my once little baby is now a little girl. It’s bittersweet, but it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to watch her grow up the last four years. She’s too sweet and kind for words. And, while I’d love to overindulge her with lavish parties every year (since she totally deserves it), we opted for a low-key birthday to reign in those future expectations. 

To celebrate Jamison's special day, we went to the movies to see “The Lorax” with two of her girlfriends and of course Mom, Dad, Tatum and our cousin. She had a great time although it was quite the experience to be out with three four-year-olds at one time. I admire moms of multiples. Your mom duties are certainly complex. When you get a bunch of four-year-olds together, I swear herding cats just might be easier.

After eating pizza in the mall, we walked to the theater. It was an argument over who would sit where and what snacks they were going to eat. But, being the adult in charge, I quickly told everyone where they were going to sit and what they were going to eat. 

While I thought the movie was entertaining, I thought it was a bit too slow and grown up for three four-year-olds. All three of them lost interest about ¾ of the way through.  My youngest started to unravel, but held it together well enough to sit through the end. On a good note, "The Lorax" did leave you with a great message about being considerate of our environment. And, I think the evils of big business and the capitalist economy were lost of the young moviegoers. Here’s a picture of the birthday girl with her friends.



Pregnancy Week 38...And Still No Baby!
It’s now coming upon the end of week 38 of my pregnancy and still NO baby! This is officially the longest I’ve ever been pregnant. It also marks the first time I’ve been pregnant without experiencing hypertension or being prescribed bed rest. Walking around, working, caring for the children and living my life normally so late in pregnancy is definitely new for me. I honestly thought I’d have a baby in my arms by now. It’s what I’d been planning since the very beginning. But, of course -- life is full of surprises.

What is that popular quote about making plans? “If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans.” While I certainly didn’t tell Him my plans, I sure did mention it to everyone else.

My birthday is this Saturday, March 31. I’ll consider it a blessing in disguise if the baby holds out until April 7 – my official due date. Because, this could actually mean instead of walking around like a sleep-deprived zombie holding a newborn baby girl, I may get to enjoy my birthday sans children after all. We’ll see what happens though I’m not about to make any plans just in case. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5 Real-Life Love Stories...Including Me and My Husband

As mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I were interviewed by Real Simple Magazine for the February 2012 issue featuring real-life couples and their love stories.  
Image Courtesy of Real Simple
Photo by Gail Albert Halaban
Little did we know that this story was also picked up by MSN. Take a look at our Real-Life Love Story, and let me know what you think!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

At What Age Do Children Learn to Manipulate?



Since becoming a mother, I’ve always wondered at what age children learn how to manipulate their parents.  While I’ve never subscribed to the theory that babies can manipulate by crying and expecting to be held all the time (I always hold my babies as often as they need without any fear of spoiling them.), toddlers and preschoolers are a different story.  My oldest daughter, who turns four next week, is such a loving, caring and sweet girl. But, even she has already started honing her manipulation skills.


Is This Sweet Face Really Capable of Manipulation?



Last night we were all sitting down for dinner, when my 21-month-old toddler didn’t seem to be enjoying her meal like she normally does. When I say this girl can eat, I mean it. She can put away some food. In fact, she eats more than her big sister.  

As dinner was coming to a close, I see my toddler growing impatient. Naturally, instead of sitting quietly and waiting for everyone else to finish eating, she starts crying, whining and demanding to be let down from her high chair.  Typical for a toddler...no surprise there. However, at this age, I’ve learned not to jump the second my kids cry or want something. And, it’s not to torture them. I just think it’s beneficial to everyone in the family when a kid begins to learn patience at a young age.  


In any case, my toddler is still learning. So, out of frustration, when we didn’t immediately let her down from her high chair, she began throwing her food on the floor in protest. At that minute, mid-bite what I really wanted to do was yell at the top of my lungs. Instead, I just rolled my eyes, sat quietly and gave the little girl my evil eye while I finished my meal. 

My oldest witnessed this silent exchange and decided to pitch in and help. She started cleaning up the food her sister tossed on the floor without being asked!  My husband stared at her and proudly declared how remarkably helpful she was for picking up her sister’s food. He looked at me for approval, but for some reason I couldn’t agree. Somehow, I knew my oldest had an ulterior motive for picking up the food. Not that she isn’t helpful, but it’s rare for her to volunteer to clean up without a fuss -- particularly when her younger sibling is involved.  

Next, I looked at my oldest child's plate. It was completely clean. She never clears her plate…EVER! And, that night I prepared a new dish she’d never eaten before, so I was even more surprised when she finished her food. Then it clicked!  The little mastermind wanted something in return clearing her plate. And, cleaning up behind her sister was just the one thing she thought would tip the scales in her favor. 


So, after the floor was clear of the discarded food, my oldest joyfully shared that she’d cleaned up all of Tatum’s food. So, she started staring at me lovingly, and almost as if I were talking to a teenager instead of a four-year-old, I just came out and asked what she wanted. She smiled ever so sweetly and asked for candy. How could I say no to that sweet face? Totally manipulated…I gave in, and let her have that candy necklace from the pantry.


After yesterday, I have no doubt in my mind that young children can manipulate their parents, even if they are sweet, loving little beings. But what’s funny is that even when I realized I was being manipulated, I still gave in to my daughter’s sweetness -- thereby allowing her to control me in a way. But, what can I say? At least I didn’t have to sweep the floor.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dad Shoots Laptop – Is Facebook Humiliation Sensible or Not?


I’m sure by now most people have seen the video of the dad shooting his daughter’s laptop because of a message she posted on Facebook vilifying her parents for assigning too many chores.  It’s went viral online and snippets of it have been covered in local broadcast news. Here’s a link to the video in case you haven’t seen it.



A lot of people have shown support for the Dad while opponents felt he stooped to a child’s level and his rant was excessively violent.  While I can’t really say whether he was right or wrong as I am still parenting toddlers and preschoolers at this point, I do empathize with a parent’s feeling of being at wits' end and willing to try anything discipline wise to get your child’s behavior to change for better.  I am not a fan of brandishing guns, particularly when children are present. However, had one of my daughters posted that venomous message about me and her Dad on Facebook, I am sure I’d be extremely hurt, angry and ready to rip her a new one.  

I think one of my most diplomatic parenting resources, Positive Parenting Solutions, probably offers the sanest opinion on the dad's method of discipline. In many ways, such an extreme response from this father may have irreparably damaged a long-term relationship with his daughter.
 
What do you all think? Do you think the Dad’s actions were justified? Do you agree with how he handled his daughter’s tirade on Facebook? Or, do you think shooting the laptop was too violent? Do you feel Facebook humiliation is an effective way to discipline kids? 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Rising Cost of Daycare Forces Alternative Working Arrangements


It’s no secret that like all family expenses daycare costs are rising – causing some families to make the difficult choice of both parents working outside the home or one staying at home. With three children not yet school age, my day care expenses would be so exorbitant that both my husband and I would have to be neurosurgeons, professional athletes, celebrities or independently wealthy for us to be able to afford the costs and have a quality of life.

In the article, 5 Reasons One Parent Should Stay Home, the cost of childcare for one child was estimated be about $4,300 per year. I have no idea what market this figure is based on, but in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area where we live that figure is off -- significantly. Just recently, I figured our daycare costs to be about ($30,000 annually for three kids) $10,000 a year per child not including gas, meals, field trips and other school fees. In fact, that's on the low end compared to some other families I know who spend upwards of 25 percent more per child. 

While the article presents a number of compelling reasons why one parent should stay home, money has always been the driving factor for me. It looks like I’ll be kissing my part-time office job goodbye for the next year or two because it doesn't seem prudent to spend $30,000 on daycare. What I will be doing is finding creative ways to manage my time while working my freelance copywriting business. This way I can still earn some money and avoid the expense of daycare for three kids. I have no doubt this will be a challenge, which is why I’m open to any and all suggestions from other work-at-home moms on how best to maximize my time.  


If you're a mom (or dad) who works from home with kids, how do you maximize your time daily? What suggestions do you have for scheduling time for work alongside other responsibilities at home?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

To Snip or Not to Snip? That is the Question...


Now that I'm 30 weeks pregnant, I'm on the home stretch. The closer we get to labor and delivery, the more apparent it’s become that the hubby and I need to make some tough decisions on permanent birth control.

As you know, we’re 100 percent certain that with three our family is complete. I can tell you without a doubt that I don’t want my tubes tied. Aside from the long-term complications some women experience after a tubal ligation, I just don’t feel it’s my cup of tea. Seriously, after carrying three babies (for almost 30 months combined) as well as birthing and nursing them (for 24 months and counting), I feel my body has been put through enough turmoil and pain. Frankly, I think it’s time for the other parent get off the bench, get in the game and take one for the team.

We’ve talked about the big V openly. For the sake of privacy, let's just say the idea is on the table. As a man though, I can understand if he's on the fence.  Perhaps, because of signs like this.

image courtesy of GoodMenProject.com
If I saw this, I can’t say I’d be dying to get cut by this guy. Now this one attempts to make it seem like a vacation.  


image courtesy of bitsandpieces.us
Yeah right! A vacation it's not. But, recently it did come to my attention, there are many urology practices nationwide that run vasectomy promotions around Super Bowl weekend. Hey, with Super Bowl XL VI less than seven days away, I wonder what kind of last minute discounts can be had!

I know it’s scary to make light of it, but now I see why some men won’t go through with it and why others are on the fence until they’re shoved off by their wives.

Like some wives, I'm admitting to being on the fence myself. But, not for fear of any surgical complications. I’m sure the reputable urologists out there know how to protect the family jewels. My hesitancy has more to do with this unnerving thought in the back of my mind -- once men have vasectomies they have nothing holding them back from cheating on their spouses because of a built-in protection against pregnancy. 

It's not that I believe in my heart of hearts that my husband will cheat. However, if he's snipped, we have certainly removed a major obstacle if he ever decided to do it. Some would consider this a good reason not go through with it.

After reading this blog post, No Strings Attached, other wives seem to have a different view on the subject. This popular DC mommy blogger mentioned that there are some women who actually take comfort in their husbands’ vasectomies. Why? Because in the event of divorce, he’d no longer be able to have kids with any other woman.  


In this case, a vasectomy is some sort of insurance for the first wife that her kids will always be her husband's (or dare I say ex-husband's) primary focus. Sounds rather conniving and somewhat sinister, if you ask me. Not to mention, self-serving. I mean as married couple, you shouldn't make decisions based on the possibility that you may get divorced. Much to my husband's relief, I can honestly say that this thought has never crossed my mind. And, I think if we posed the reciprocal – men being happy over their wives' tubal ligation because she could no longer produce kids with a new man – women would be up in arms.

So, ladies and gentlemen what do you think? Is it wrong to be happy about a man’s vasectomy because he can’t reproduce with another woman? Or, is it natural to feel this way? And, for those on the fence about vasectomies, has the possibility of cheating ever entered your mind and made you reconsider? 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Top 10 Advantages to Having an All-Girl Family


As a mom of three daughters, I have no idea what it’s like to raise a son. At this point, I may never know, and I am no longer wistful about it, especially when I look at the bright side.  For starters, one major benefit, which really isn't all that exclusive to females or males, is the ability to pass down an entire wardrobe – among other things like toys, hair accessories and entertainment -- from one daughter to the other.  It’s certainly a temporary benefit, at least until middle school when it won’t be so cool to wear to your older sister’s hand-me-downs, let alone clothes from last season. There are so many other advantages. While many are clich√© and have been accumulated by word of mouth over the years, they all somewhat ring true. Check out some of the other advantages to having an all-girl family. 

1.    Lower car insurance for females. Who knows why insurance companies charge higher rates for male drivers? Perhaps, girls are not big risk takers (see #4). Whoever said that hasn’t met my two-year-old. In any case, with the probability of three teenage drivers in our house at one time, I’ll welcome the lower premiums.
2.    Cheaper grocery store bills. As a general rule, girls eat much less than boys. I would argue this advantage only comes into play later in life. In my observation, small children (under the age of five) regardless of gender, eat about the same amount of food. Teenage boys, especially athletic ones, can eat as much as a small village.
3.   Girls smell a lot better. By the time a girl turns three or four years old, she begins to care about her hygiene…a lot more than a boy would. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Just visit a middle school girls’ bathroom! But, in my experience, I’ve encountered way more foul smelling boys than girls.
4.    Your heart may stay intact by not having to deal with daredevils. As the old saying goes, boys will be boys. They are rough and tumble -- fearless and spontaneous. They often live quite recklessly. The advantage to this lifestyle is boys tend to be ambitious go getters, but they get hurt…a lot! Girls aren’t as prone to jumping off the top of the roof or driving vehicles at extremely high speeds. So, I am hoping this means more restful nights for me and less visits to the hospital although in my five short years of being a parent, I’ve been to urgent care for falls at least three times.
5.    Girls can be more sensitive to others’ feelings and needs. Girls are emotional, which many consider a downfall. But, at the same time, emotional people tend to be more sensitive to others’ feelings. When a loved one is upset or hurt, girls go out on a limb to help. Particularly for the oldest girl, adopting that nurturing motherly instinct is almost a given.
6.   Girls are A LOT more talkative. That’s probably good and bad, but for the sake of the argument I’m making here, I’ll only discuss the good. Female humans in general tend to be much better at expressing themselves. How they’re feeling and what they think about anything is never really a secret. As long as your daughter is on speaking terms with you, she is an open book—even with thoughts you don’t want to hear. Mine are often quite sassy. For instance, just the other day, my five-year-old daughter asked me with disdain, “Mommy, are you going to wear THAT?” On the same token, girls are equally likely to share compliments. With boys, it’s sometimes hard to figure out how they are feeling, since many are devoid of emotional display. Again, there are exceptions to the rule.
7.    Sleepovers are just easier when there are no boys in the house. We have plenty of friends who have both sons and daughters whom we love dearly. However, I can’t say I would be completely comfortable allowing my girls to attend sleepovers with their sons in the house. The reciprocal isn’t more appealing either. Imagine if I was the proud mom of a teenage son, and one of my daughters invited a female friend to spend the night at our house.  A non-relative girl sleeping over with my son under the same roof? I can list a number of reasons why it would make many moms think twice about it. Perhaps, this girl is just using my daughter to get closer to my son and plans to seduce him when the lights go down. I’d be on high alert all night long listening for every peep (lucky for me, I am a superbly light sleeper)! Of course, I’m generalizing, but that’s the fun of it. For the parents who allow their daughters to have a sleepover at my house: you can rest easier since there are no boys living here!
8.    Moms have an advantage with girls since we were girls…once. As an adult woman, I know what it’s like to be a girl since it wasn’t exactly eons ago that I was one. Some things have changed over the years. But, for the most part, the growing up part—becoming your own person and separating from your parents –is all the same.  I understand the need for girls to meticulously protect their privacy. I understand what it means to be fiercely independent. I understand that moms have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and don’t really “get” their daughters.  Of course, none of this will make me any more willing to compromise my beliefs or the values and morals I expect my girls to exhibit when they leave our home. But, I will utilize this advantage wisely.  For what it’s worth, it will give me pause before I open my mouth to nag, lecture, shame, offer unsolicited advice or delve out punishments. Which brings me to the next one…
9.    Daughters emotionally check out and leave you as teens, but they eventually come back. Boys and girls both start pulling away from parents as soon as they hit puberty – or a little earlier. But, once the boys pull away, they’re never yours again (Sorry moms of sons...it’s true.). Why? Well, when your son gets married, you’ll have to share him with his wife. Most women really aren’t all that amenable to sharing the men in their lives, but that’s a topic for another post. When your son has another woman in his life, it’s difficult to repurpose your relationship with him into that intimate, profound bond, which many moms and daughters enjoy (In all honesty, that’s why he has his dad.). If your son grows up to have his own daughter, you might as well just forget it. For moms of girls, after your daughter is married, as long as you have forged a good relationship as adults, you’ll pretty much have her forever—and possibly unlimited access to your grandkids as a result.
10. Daughters offer better long-term care options. When I am old and decrepit, most likely I’ll have a shot at one of my daughters taking me in their home to live. Shhh…but, I have already secretly selected the daughter with whom I want to live.  She’s also the one most likely to feel guilty enough to take me in. My husband can live with one of the others. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Highlights of March


Do you know what happens when you have a blog and a busy life? You have all these great things write about it, but no time to actually write it. How many things have I missed blogging about since the last post? Quite a bit! But, I'll cover the most important items of the month.

Our First Girl Turns Four
My oldest daughter, Jamison, turned four on March 3. It’s hard to believe that time has flown by so fast, and my once little baby is now a little girl. It’s bittersweet, but it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to watch her grow up the last four years. She’s too sweet and kind for words. And, while I’d love to overindulge her with lavish parties every year (since she totally deserves it), we opted for a low-key birthday to reign in those future expectations. 

To celebrate Jamison's special day, we went to the movies to see “The Lorax” with two of her girlfriends and of course Mom, Dad, Tatum and our cousin. She had a great time although it was quite the experience to be out with three four-year-olds at one time. I admire moms of multiples. Your mom duties are certainly complex. When you get a bunch of four-year-olds together, I swear herding cats just might be easier.

After eating pizza in the mall, we walked to the theater. It was an argument over who would sit where and what snacks they were going to eat. But, being the adult in charge, I quickly told everyone where they were going to sit and what they were going to eat. 

While I thought the movie was entertaining, I thought it was a bit too slow and grown up for three four-year-olds. All three of them lost interest about ¾ of the way through.  My youngest started to unravel, but held it together well enough to sit through the end. On a good note, "The Lorax" did leave you with a great message about being considerate of our environment. And, I think the evils of big business and the capitalist economy were lost of the young moviegoers. Here’s a picture of the birthday girl with her friends.



Pregnancy Week 38...And Still No Baby!
It’s now coming upon the end of week 38 of my pregnancy and still NO baby! This is officially the longest I’ve ever been pregnant. It also marks the first time I’ve been pregnant without experiencing hypertension or being prescribed bed rest. Walking around, working, caring for the children and living my life normally so late in pregnancy is definitely new for me. I honestly thought I’d have a baby in my arms by now. It’s what I’d been planning since the very beginning. But, of course -- life is full of surprises.

What is that popular quote about making plans? “If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans.” While I certainly didn’t tell Him my plans, I sure did mention it to everyone else.

My birthday is this Saturday, March 31. I’ll consider it a blessing in disguise if the baby holds out until April 7 – my official due date. Because, this could actually mean instead of walking around like a sleep-deprived zombie holding a newborn baby girl, I may get to enjoy my birthday sans children after all. We’ll see what happens though I’m not about to make any plans just in case. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

5 Real-Life Love Stories...Including Me and My Husband

As mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I were interviewed by Real Simple Magazine for the February 2012 issue featuring real-life couples and their love stories.  
Image Courtesy of Real Simple
Photo by Gail Albert Halaban
Little did we know that this story was also picked up by MSN. Take a look at our Real-Life Love Story, and let me know what you think!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

At What Age Do Children Learn to Manipulate?



Since becoming a mother, I’ve always wondered at what age children learn how to manipulate their parents.  While I’ve never subscribed to the theory that babies can manipulate by crying and expecting to be held all the time (I always hold my babies as often as they need without any fear of spoiling them.), toddlers and preschoolers are a different story.  My oldest daughter, who turns four next week, is such a loving, caring and sweet girl. But, even she has already started honing her manipulation skills.


Is This Sweet Face Really Capable of Manipulation?



Last night we were all sitting down for dinner, when my 21-month-old toddler didn’t seem to be enjoying her meal like she normally does. When I say this girl can eat, I mean it. She can put away some food. In fact, she eats more than her big sister.  

As dinner was coming to a close, I see my toddler growing impatient. Naturally, instead of sitting quietly and waiting for everyone else to finish eating, she starts crying, whining and demanding to be let down from her high chair.  Typical for a toddler...no surprise there. However, at this age, I’ve learned not to jump the second my kids cry or want something. And, it’s not to torture them. I just think it’s beneficial to everyone in the family when a kid begins to learn patience at a young age.  


In any case, my toddler is still learning. So, out of frustration, when we didn’t immediately let her down from her high chair, she began throwing her food on the floor in protest. At that minute, mid-bite what I really wanted to do was yell at the top of my lungs. Instead, I just rolled my eyes, sat quietly and gave the little girl my evil eye while I finished my meal. 

My oldest witnessed this silent exchange and decided to pitch in and help. She started cleaning up the food her sister tossed on the floor without being asked!  My husband stared at her and proudly declared how remarkably helpful she was for picking up her sister’s food. He looked at me for approval, but for some reason I couldn’t agree. Somehow, I knew my oldest had an ulterior motive for picking up the food. Not that she isn’t helpful, but it’s rare for her to volunteer to clean up without a fuss -- particularly when her younger sibling is involved.  

Next, I looked at my oldest child's plate. It was completely clean. She never clears her plate…EVER! And, that night I prepared a new dish she’d never eaten before, so I was even more surprised when she finished her food. Then it clicked!  The little mastermind wanted something in return clearing her plate. And, cleaning up behind her sister was just the one thing she thought would tip the scales in her favor. 


So, after the floor was clear of the discarded food, my oldest joyfully shared that she’d cleaned up all of Tatum’s food. So, she started staring at me lovingly, and almost as if I were talking to a teenager instead of a four-year-old, I just came out and asked what she wanted. She smiled ever so sweetly and asked for candy. How could I say no to that sweet face? Totally manipulated…I gave in, and let her have that candy necklace from the pantry.


After yesterday, I have no doubt in my mind that young children can manipulate their parents, even if they are sweet, loving little beings. But what’s funny is that even when I realized I was being manipulated, I still gave in to my daughter’s sweetness -- thereby allowing her to control me in a way. But, what can I say? At least I didn’t have to sweep the floor.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dad Shoots Laptop – Is Facebook Humiliation Sensible or Not?


I’m sure by now most people have seen the video of the dad shooting his daughter’s laptop because of a message she posted on Facebook vilifying her parents for assigning too many chores.  It’s went viral online and snippets of it have been covered in local broadcast news. Here’s a link to the video in case you haven’t seen it.



A lot of people have shown support for the Dad while opponents felt he stooped to a child’s level and his rant was excessively violent.  While I can’t really say whether he was right or wrong as I am still parenting toddlers and preschoolers at this point, I do empathize with a parent’s feeling of being at wits' end and willing to try anything discipline wise to get your child’s behavior to change for better.  I am not a fan of brandishing guns, particularly when children are present. However, had one of my daughters posted that venomous message about me and her Dad on Facebook, I am sure I’d be extremely hurt, angry and ready to rip her a new one.  

I think one of my most diplomatic parenting resources, Positive Parenting Solutions, probably offers the sanest opinion on the dad's method of discipline. In many ways, such an extreme response from this father may have irreparably damaged a long-term relationship with his daughter.
 
What do you all think? Do you think the Dad’s actions were justified? Do you agree with how he handled his daughter’s tirade on Facebook? Or, do you think shooting the laptop was too violent? Do you feel Facebook humiliation is an effective way to discipline kids? 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Rising Cost of Daycare Forces Alternative Working Arrangements


It’s no secret that like all family expenses daycare costs are rising – causing some families to make the difficult choice of both parents working outside the home or one staying at home. With three children not yet school age, my day care expenses would be so exorbitant that both my husband and I would have to be neurosurgeons, professional athletes, celebrities or independently wealthy for us to be able to afford the costs and have a quality of life.

In the article, 5 Reasons One Parent Should Stay Home, the cost of childcare for one child was estimated be about $4,300 per year. I have no idea what market this figure is based on, but in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area where we live that figure is off -- significantly. Just recently, I figured our daycare costs to be about ($30,000 annually for three kids) $10,000 a year per child not including gas, meals, field trips and other school fees. In fact, that's on the low end compared to some other families I know who spend upwards of 25 percent more per child. 

While the article presents a number of compelling reasons why one parent should stay home, money has always been the driving factor for me. It looks like I’ll be kissing my part-time office job goodbye for the next year or two because it doesn't seem prudent to spend $30,000 on daycare. What I will be doing is finding creative ways to manage my time while working my freelance copywriting business. This way I can still earn some money and avoid the expense of daycare for three kids. I have no doubt this will be a challenge, which is why I’m open to any and all suggestions from other work-at-home moms on how best to maximize my time.  


If you're a mom (or dad) who works from home with kids, how do you maximize your time daily? What suggestions do you have for scheduling time for work alongside other responsibilities at home?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

To Snip or Not to Snip? That is the Question...


Now that I'm 30 weeks pregnant, I'm on the home stretch. The closer we get to labor and delivery, the more apparent it’s become that the hubby and I need to make some tough decisions on permanent birth control.

As you know, we’re 100 percent certain that with three our family is complete. I can tell you without a doubt that I don’t want my tubes tied. Aside from the long-term complications some women experience after a tubal ligation, I just don’t feel it’s my cup of tea. Seriously, after carrying three babies (for almost 30 months combined) as well as birthing and nursing them (for 24 months and counting), I feel my body has been put through enough turmoil and pain. Frankly, I think it’s time for the other parent get off the bench, get in the game and take one for the team.

We’ve talked about the big V openly. For the sake of privacy, let's just say the idea is on the table. As a man though, I can understand if he's on the fence.  Perhaps, because of signs like this.

image courtesy of GoodMenProject.com
If I saw this, I can’t say I’d be dying to get cut by this guy. Now this one attempts to make it seem like a vacation.  


image courtesy of bitsandpieces.us
Yeah right! A vacation it's not. But, recently it did come to my attention, there are many urology practices nationwide that run vasectomy promotions around Super Bowl weekend. Hey, with Super Bowl XL VI less than seven days away, I wonder what kind of last minute discounts can be had!

I know it’s scary to make light of it, but now I see why some men won’t go through with it and why others are on the fence until they’re shoved off by their wives.

Like some wives, I'm admitting to being on the fence myself. But, not for fear of any surgical complications. I’m sure the reputable urologists out there know how to protect the family jewels. My hesitancy has more to do with this unnerving thought in the back of my mind -- once men have vasectomies they have nothing holding them back from cheating on their spouses because of a built-in protection against pregnancy. 

It's not that I believe in my heart of hearts that my husband will cheat. However, if he's snipped, we have certainly removed a major obstacle if he ever decided to do it. Some would consider this a good reason not go through with it.

After reading this blog post, No Strings Attached, other wives seem to have a different view on the subject. This popular DC mommy blogger mentioned that there are some women who actually take comfort in their husbands’ vasectomies. Why? Because in the event of divorce, he’d no longer be able to have kids with any other woman.  


In this case, a vasectomy is some sort of insurance for the first wife that her kids will always be her husband's (or dare I say ex-husband's) primary focus. Sounds rather conniving and somewhat sinister, if you ask me. Not to mention, self-serving. I mean as married couple, you shouldn't make decisions based on the possibility that you may get divorced. Much to my husband's relief, I can honestly say that this thought has never crossed my mind. And, I think if we posed the reciprocal – men being happy over their wives' tubal ligation because she could no longer produce kids with a new man – women would be up in arms.

So, ladies and gentlemen what do you think? Is it wrong to be happy about a man’s vasectomy because he can’t reproduce with another woman? Or, is it natural to feel this way? And, for those on the fence about vasectomies, has the possibility of cheating ever entered your mind and made you reconsider?