Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Guilty as Charged

It seems every star is guilty of something

(raises hand)

I used to be a perfect mom, until I had a baby. 

I'm guilty of being a mom, and in August that mama-guilt comes on really strong, because in two days I cease becoming a Summer-time Stay At Home Mom and once again become a full-time working mom.

And I feel guilty.

I'm trying to shake it off, I know we did a lot of fun things this summer. Ox's first step into kindergarten and Little Frog's initiation in to preschool are good things. They're ready to learn, and I'm ready to be on the parent side of things rather than the teacher side. I'm really, truly, very excited for both of them.

But I feel guilty.

If I were a better mom I would be able to stay home with my kids without going crazy, and they would both be reading by the time they were 2 1/2 because everything we do is language rich and they never, ever get any screen time.

Hah. We've watched Pippi Longstocking maybe 8 times since last week. But hey, she's a literary character, so it's almost like reading a book, right?

The thing is, I love my job. I don't want to give it up. I have serious doubts that I'm any good at being a SAHM, if the state of my house by August is any indication. And obviously despite the fact that I am a teacher, a library media specialist in fact, my 5-year-old can't read very well yet. I'm sort-of done trying, lets give his teacher a turn (but I still feel guilty).

I know mama guilt is a part of being a mom. It is probably ingrained in us so that we keep trying. In parenting there is always something more that could be done.

But I could be doing a heck of a lot worse.

So when I feel guilty I'm going to focus on what I've seen from my kids this summer:

Ox and Little Frog playing house for hours on end. Granted Ox has a garden hose sprayer that he uses as a gun to shoot all the bad animals (oops), but Little Frog, always the mom, says "Sweetie, go get that bear sweetie" or "Sweetie please don't yell at me sweetie."  For hours. Now punctuated by Pippi Longstocking songs due to their recent addiction.

Now tell me I'm thinking too much, and let it go, because in two days I'll have wished I spent my time doing something else rather than feeling guilty.

Like teaching myself to knit (hey, winter comes early in MN)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dressed for Success

I might have a problem. I've become addicted to buying clothes (online) for Ox. And since I believe in keeping my skeletons out of the closet, this post might be a bit much. But at least it's not about meth.

In my defense, when I first walked in to Babies R Us after little baby Ox was born, I was frustrated to discover that stores just don't sell nice clothes for boys. Babies R Us is one of the worst for anti-baby boy merchandise. Gymboree is a close second, followed by SuperTarget, because these stores devote nearly all of their kids' clothes section to girls clothes. Don't believe me? Walk by the boys section the next time you go to Target. Then walk by the girls section. HUGE difference.

And you know what? I'm sick of skulls and skateboards and don't get me started on basketballs. Skulls were "cute" for awhile, when Ox called them bone zombies, but that was 2 or 3 years ago. MOVE ON ALREADY!! (stores, I'm talking to YOU!)

(generalization coming up)

I am convinced that this is the #1 reason that men do not like to shop. From the time they're newborns there just isn't much for them to choose from, so they give up.  This is not a genetic gender role, men don't start out like this! It is a clear example of Nurture vs. Nature!

(generalization over - and disclaimer: I hate shopping in stores and I am a woman - it stresses me out, always has. I hate even more when people assume I like to shop just because I'm a woman. Ugh.)

The beloved Boden Bear shirt - his "need to be brave" go-to.
Ox, on the other hand, likes clothes and has a soft spot for cool shoes. When he was feeling nervous about preschool he would wear his fierce bear shirt and it made him feel braver. His DinoSoles made him feel that he could run faster. He's also held on for over a year the fact that I told him he could get Sketchers Hot Lights for kindergarten, when I wasn't willing to spend the $40 last fall. He has not forgotten those shoes. 

I've gotten a few "looks" from people when I say that my son likes shoes - which makes me mad. Who says boys can't like shoes? What's the problem with that? I will turn Mama-Bear on anyone who thinks this is an issue. 

When I first discovered Boden I went a little crazy and spent waaaay too much on clothes for Ox - then I came to my senses and started looking for Boden clothes on Ebay (they get snapped up fast). I've toned down a little since then.

But. . .

With the arrival of the Kindergarten supply list I realized it was time to invest a bit more (time, not money) in my boy's wardrobe. I made a grievous error when I bought a ton at Old Navy only to discover that Ox is juuuust growing out of the size I bought. Ugh.  So I determined not to buy anything without a discount of some type.

I discovered:

1) Crazy 8 - this is a Gymboree store, just a bit less money (Gymboree : Crazy 8 :: Gap : Old Navy). Nice boys clothes.
Recent Zulily purchase: the dinosaur shirt

2) Zulily.com - Zulily offers major discounts on select (overstocked, I think) items like Crocs* and Oilily, PLUS for every friend you refer, you get $15 credit. Woah. I've found so many great clothes for Ox because of my Zulily lurking and shameless spammy attempts to pull in all my friends. Totsy.com is also good - but for heaven's sake!! If you want to buy from them use my code so I can get the credit! (see, I'm shameless).

3) Gymboree will give you $25 credit if you spend $50. Woah. Dangerous. Maybe it was a special deal, but OH BOY I took advantage of it!

4) As annoying as they are, it is sometimes worth it to receive email updates from clothing stores. You can get some majorly good deals.

5) Buy a little at a time - and buy big. Kids clothes don't go out of style  - anything goes. This does occasionally backfire, like all the size 6 pants I bought him that are all 5 inches too long. . . but he'll grow in to them eventually.

6) I buy boys pants at Once Upon A Child whenever I can. He wears through the knees so fast there is no point in spending much. Maybe more expensive pants wouldn't wear through so quickly, but I'm not willing to find out.

7) Find someone you like to pass on the cute clothes - you can justify buying cuter stuff if you know not just your own kid will enjoy them. Or even better, find someone who has a kid a bit older than yours who also has a thing for Boden. . . 

That's it for now. Don't judge me, or my shoes. Because of course my own shoes are actually falling apart.

*The Crocs I bought at Zulily had a pretty blue trim that peeled away after a week, so Zulily refunded me the price of BOTH kids' Crocs, plus $10 extra for my trouble! I bought Little Frog a fancy winter coat and fleece-lined hoodie with the credit (MAJOR POINTS for customer service!). . . poor girl, I buy hardly anything for her a part from a few essentials. She gets a lot of hand-me-downs and lets be honest, cheapo clothes for girls are pretty darn cute - so why spend the extra? Besides, if I even start to go there with her, I'd be totally out of control with all the cuteness available. I just can't let myself even look at girl clothes.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Vacationing . . . Star Style

I would first like to point out that I love camping. . . but more in theory than practice. I loved reading The Boxcar Children growing up, the idea of living off the land (or off a rich Grandpa's left-over vegetables) was incredibly enticing and fresh-caught trout sounded so fantastic.

That being said, a week in a tent has wearied me to the bone. And that's with an air mattress.

Don't get me wrong, I really do love parts of camping. Mainly the daytime parts. During the night my mind gets WAY too active and I think about

1) Do I have to pee?

2) remote wilderness would be a good place to hide if I were a serial killer.

3) Hm. I might have to pee.

4) That guy from the next site over looked at me funny, as if he might be a serial killer.

5) What the HECK is that ringing* sound?!?

6) Crap. I might as well brave the 5 minute walk to the bathroom just in case it rains in an hour. I wouldn't want to walk through that.

. . . aaaand repeat.  I seriously went to the bathroom 5 times during one night - and 3 of those times it wasn't until I was nearly there that I woke up and realized I didn't have to go. I took a muscle relaxant the next night just to calm the heck down.

But we got lots of good pictures to show the kids when they're older so we'll be able to prove to their therapists that we did indeed provide positive family experiences such as: 

Copper Mine tour: hard hats are to protect against the zillion bats

Awkward Family Photo.
Little Frog sinking to a Lord of the Flies level of grime and mayhem.

Okay so it really wasn't so bad. I do like camping. Just maybe not in a tent for 6 days. I still feel a little crazy.

*That ringing sound we heard for 4 days straight (mostly at night) was a bell attached to a buoy out in Lake Superior, at least a mile away. Ring Ring Ring RingyRing Ring Ring Oh My Flipping RING.