Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Losing my SAHD?

Despite the financial disadvantages of living off one meager, maternity-leave lessened teacher's salary, I have really enjoyed having my husband at home the past few months.  It has been invaluable since my return to work last month--laundry is done mostly during the day, dinners are prepared with no stress and little to no night-before prep work.  There are only two people to get out the door each morning instead of four and I have the luxury of taking Zumba class at the gym on Mondays and Wednesdays after work.

Upon returning to work, I learned that there will be some pretty serious layoffs coming.  Given my measly four years seniority and my ever-popular teaching endorsements in secondary language arts, drama, and reading, I was advised to brace myself for the worst possible outcome.  Part of the preparation was finding a second source of income, hence losing my SAHD.  Initially, we decided it wasn't worth it for him to even look for work until the spring or early summer so that Li Li could spend his first year at home with a parent but given that we need at least some money to pay the mortgage each month and access to a health plan for our family, he has begun his quest for new employment over the past two weeks.

Yesterday, he had a phone interview.  The reality set in that we may soon be getting four individuals out of the house by 6:45 every day.  It also occurred to me that I will have to give up my workouts........that means I will remain fat indefinitely.  Ugh.  My dilemma is this: stay fat and get my kids from daycare by 4:30 (closing time), or get the kids by 3:20 on Mondays and Wednesdays and take them to the childcare at the gym until 5:30 (more childcare and less Mom/Dad time).

I know most, if not all, of my current readers are SAHMs, so while I ask for advice, I understand you all may not have any to give.  But perhaps you know someone who has managed to make it work.....with the exercise and all.

Suggestions are welcomed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ain't I a Mama?

As I read more of the natural parenting and "mama" blogs out there, I feel as if I am in the minority on many issues, however, in the real world of Portland, Oregon USA I think I'm pretty typical, and in other parts of the country, dare I say, "weird."

The quintessential Mama is an educated (usually with an advanced degree) woman who relinquished her career in order to funnel her intellect into parenting and writing about it while her husband works to pay the mortgage or a woman who works at home part-time either in her chosen profession or creating some kind of hand-made items to sell on etsy (how's that for a run-on sentence!).  She goes to playgroups, effortlessly whips her baby into that Moby wrap, has never given her child a bottle or let him cry while she pees or showers.  She also does not send her children to public school (unless it's a magnet or charter).  She never uses the word "no" with her child and somehow manages to keep her composure and always re-frame everything in the affirmative.  The Mama never makes mistakes.  She does everything right and agrees with all the other Mamas about all things parental.  She does not do TV, or Santa, or candy and her kids don't mind because none of their other playgroup peers have access to these evils either.  The Mama knows everything there is to know about attachment parenting....she can actually channel Dr. Sears...and she is more than willing to advise you on how to pee on an airplane while baby is in the Moby (yes, I have had this conversation with one of them).  The Mama is the ultimate PC-er (except when you're referring to computers, then it's Mac all the way).  She bends over backwards to accommodate those less enlightened because she prides herself on being tolerant of others.

The most important thing to know about a Mama is that.........................................................................


This is something I have to remind myself of every so often when I'm rolling through Bloggyland.  Because I do not fit the Mama mold in its entirety, my guilt snowballs as I click through page after page of like-minded woman spouting their reasons for doing elimination communication, not doing circumcision, not vaccinating and the plethora of other things that exclude me.  I find myself lamenting with a bag of Skittles and asking ain't I a Mama?  

The answer is a simple one: Yes, you are! 

The truth is The Mama is an illusion.  She is a composite of all things deemed "perfect" in modern parenting.  She is like a Barbie in that she has bits and pieces of us, but in totality is a physical impossibility.  Most of the Mamas in Bloggyland are writing about their successes, not their shortcomings.  They are writing about their topic......natural/attachment/whateveryouwanttocallit parenting, so in order to stay on-topic they do not write about the time when they bribed their child with a cookie so she would just hold off the temper tantrum until they left the grocery store.  They write about the aspects of perfection that they can attain and just don't talk about the ones that don't fit into their realistically imperfect lifestyle.

But guess what.......I will!  I will share with you my successes and my failures.  What works for me and what doesn't.  Because I would hate for any of you to sit on your couch at night crying into a sugary snack while sobbing, "ain't I a Mama?"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thank You, David Brent

Okay, I'll be back to comment on this later, but just wanted to make sure I got it out there now.  I discovered the article on semi-crunchy mama's Facebook update and now I'm passing it along....

A Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais

I have finally returned for a very brief commentary on atheists vs Christians.  And that sentiment is precisely what bothers group "versus" the other.  Despite trying to remain respectful of the faithful, Ricky still turns to an "us against them" mentality.  I would never ask a believer to defend her's rude and disrespectful.  Likewise, I expect to be treated with the same level of respect and not be asked about why I lack faith in a specific doctrine or doctrines.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One More Day!

As of yesterday, I have been back to work for one month and I'm already living for the two-week holiday break.  Teaching is hard work.  I like my job on most days, but I wish that I could work half time and spend the other half of the week with the kids doing playgroups.

As a result, I try to jam as much "mom" time into my breaks.  I have fun mommy-group stuff planned for much of the next 2 weeks.  I just need to survive one more day with my 6th, 7th and 8th grade students.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gluten free----not for me

I have not enjoyed doing this gluten-free trial during the holidays.  It's hard enough avoiding dairy and soy proteins, but throw gluten into the mix and eating out is truly impossible.  Yes, I could pack my own food when going to someone's home for a party, but bringing your own meal is definitely frowned upon at restaurants.  This year it just so happens that three holiday events are taking place at restaurants.

Yesterday after another exhausting day at work, I rushed to pick up Zozu, go home and nurse Li Li, and get to Laurelwood in less than an hour.  We arrived about 10 minutes late (not bad), but this did not allow me to eat beforehand so I was left with two choices: 1) starve, or 2) just eat and not worry about the gluten.  I chose option #2.

Honestly, I have not felt any change in my body since going gluten-free and while we have seen some improvement in Li Li's disposition, it has been very slight and most likely due to him just getting older and less fussy.  He still spits up and still does not have daily poops.  So I will consider last night's meal a test to confirm that gluten is in fact not an issue for us.  I plan to resume gluten-free eating until Christmas and if there are no ill effects from the burger bun and beer, I will be enjoying some gluten-filled foods on Christmas day!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Last night, Chris and I went out to dinner sans kids for the first time since August 2009 and to a movie for the first time in about a year.  We began our evening at Mio Sushi where I had a bowl of miso, spicy white tuna rolls and a rainbow roll.  I was stuffed.  We then headed over to Laurelhurst Theater for the movie.  The theater is right next to the building where my midwives are located so it reminds of being pregnant.  I was so full from the sushi that I kinda felt pregnant!

Now, back on topic.....dreaming.  The movie, if you haven't seen it, is about the layers of reality that our subconscious creates and how that gets tapped into when we dream.  In the film, there are a group of people who mess around in the subconscious of others in order to extract information from them while they are asleep.  This is typically to gain secret business info, access codes to money, etc.

I have always been a very vivid dreamer and really intrigued by how our minds work while we sleep to reorganize our emotions, anxieties, and relationships.  So I am asking for help from my handful of readers today....share a dream you have had.  It can be recurring, recent, once from childhood.  If you don't have clear memories of your dreams, please share how you experience dreams...what do you remember, how do you feel during and after?  Do you notice specific foods that trigger more vivid dreams?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Health Stalled

I have to make a confession........for the past week I have NOT tracked my meals and I have barely exercised.  My return to work is not as easy as I had hoped.  It is so stressful for many reasons.  In order to facilitate weight loss I decided to cut out wine except for on weekends, but that has not worked out so well.  I have also found gluten-free, dairy-free sweets in the house and am eating them.  Yesterday was my weigh-in and Weight Watchers meeting and I did not stay for the meeting (too many papers to grade) but I did weigh in and for the first time I didn't lose anything.

The gluten-free experiment is not yielding clear results.  Li Li is pooping more regularly, but still spitting up a lot.  I feel no change in myself.

Another drive-by post today.....better luck tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Battling Exhaustion

As the recession continues, those of us left in the workplace are working 2-3 times as hard to cover the workloads of those laid off.  Add a new baby and a toddler into the mix and it makes for one constantly tired and crabby mom.  What's even worse for those of us in the education field is that our federally mandated "standards" and government determined "progress" toward those standards continue to increase as our staff decreases.  So we are left to do more with less.  There are definitely not enough hours in the day to accomplish all the data collection, analysis, and meetings on top of planning instructions, keeping gradebooks up to date, filling out daily behavior reports, calling parents.......ugh.....the list never ends.

So today my post is disgracefully short, but I need to fit in a shower, making and packing breakfast and lunch, cleaning and packing the breast pump, and getting ready to lead a meeting all in 1 hour.   Ha!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Breastfeeding and the Working Mother

As I continue to breastfeed my second child while teaching full time, I've come to realize how few teachers actually pump milk for their children once they return to work.  In the 3 1/2 years I've been teaching at my current location, five other women have had children and returned to teaching before their babies were 6 months old.  Only one of them breastfed and pumped after returning to work.  The truth is, it is hard to pump milk when teaching at our over-crowded school.  There is no opportunity to close the door and pump in the classroom while grading papers.  Every classroom is used every period.  In fact, every single room in the school is used for something: an office, a classroom, a meeting room.  There is only one place left.....the bathroom.

According to Oregon law (and federal mandates put into place by the new health care reform) an employer with more than 50 employees must provide a space other than a restroom for mothers to express milk and the breaks necessary to do so.  I do get the opportunity to pump every 4 hours, but that is my prep time which means I have to do the grading that would have happened during those breaks on my off-time.  Also, pumping every 4 hours is not enough to feed my 5 month old son pure expressed breast milk.  His daytime bottles are mixed half-and-half with formula.

As I browsed the list of employers who have been recognized by the state of Oregon for following, and pioneering, the mother-friendly workplace guidelines, I noticed not a single school district was listed.  Am I the only person that finds it appalling that public organizations devoted to the care and development of children do not support breastfeeding mothers?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

This month's "theme" is.....

The theme for December is ZEITGEIST. You have 31 days to try to capture the mood of your culture and your life as they exist right now. Use every tool in your blog box: words, photos, music...?

Currently, the "mood and culture" of my life is strongly influenced by my desire to restore my aging body to its former, pre-childbearing state.  The state of Oregon has offered all public employees the benefit of Weight Watchers as part of our preventative health plan.  Having recently given birth and gaining 40 pounds, I took advantage of this free service and have lost 12 pounds since starting the program two months ago.

I also hope to get in great physical shape...meaning my 40th birthday which is less than three years away.  My goal is to finally take the honeymoon I never got because we couldn't afford it.  We want to go to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary and I want to be able to wear a bikini.....yes, a bikini at 40 years old.  I haven't worn one since I was 25.

So a large part of my culture revolves around healthy eating and working out.  I run and do Zumba 2-3 times a week and I do weight-lifting/strength training and yoga each one hour per week.  I'm at the gym 5-6 days a week.  

My diet is made up of 95% non-processed, fresh, organic food.  I do not eat gluten, dairy products, or soy proteins.  I eat tons of meat, rice, and vegetables.  The dietary restrictions are most likely temporary.  The dairy is due to my baby's intolerance to it through my breast milk and the gluten is a "test" to see if it helps my (and the baby's) intestinal issues.  I plan to continue a limited dairy and soy diet since these products are difficult for the human body to digest in large quantities.  And if the gluten-free diet does not change how I feel, then obviously I will return to eating the full range of grains.  As a family, we are getting away from processed, pre-packaged foods.  My husband became a stay-at-home dad after getting laid off last June which allows us more time for healthy food preparation.  Luckily, he enjoys cooking.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Take Two

My efforts at posting every day in November were clearly insufficient.  I simply got too tired to blog in the evening after teaching, working out, getting kids bathed, fed and ready for bed.  I figured December might be easier since I will have my in-laws visiting to help with the kids and I will have half the month off work.

This afternoon is my post-Thanksgiving weigh-in at Weight watchers, so stay tuned to find out how much I gained.