this week on the iPhone

I may not take as many pictures with my Canon as I used toand I should be taking more…still I manage to take pictures because there is always my iPhone close at hand and Instagram.

She really is a pretty little thing and not nearly as bendy as the haters say that she is.

Rain finally came to to the Valley and I did ask my darling husband if he would rather take the car into work in the Bay Area rather than the bike because I could easily get up at o’dark thirty to take Jodie to work and then go home to sleep until it was time to take Daniel to school. No big deal. Jodie would have a triple latte ready for me when it was time to pick her up.

No was his answer.

He got soaked.

Oh well!

The morning after the rain is the best when everything is so fresh and clean…except the mom-car.

Oh, and sunrises as I leave work in the early morning are the best because, yes, I worked! I worked callback which is even better!!

The sunrise view in my mirror reminds me that my day is done…as soon as I drop my son off to school.

This son, my favorite son, who every day, all the time reminds me how lucky I am to say that I am his mom!

But LITERALLY the most exciting thing happening under the Big Top this week was these salt and pepper grinders.


Follow me on Instagram.



a weekend off

How does that old song go?

Everybody’s workin’ for the weekend…

Egads, that song IS old, like back when MTV played music videos like all day old!

Yes, most folks are doing the Monday through Friday thing just so they can rest and play through their weekend.


Me, I work pretty much every weekend. A weekend off is a rare thing and is usually in order to take Jodie to a dance competition. Juggling the needs of this circus I have no choice. I love that I can be there for Hollie to watch the babies. Jodie and Daniel live too far from their schools to walk and there is no school-provided transportation available. Well, I did give up the short bus hoping Daniel could stay at his school rather than be moved to yet another school in the district. And then there is homework…fourth grade homework is hard, especially hard for a kid like Daniel. The kids need me. They seem to need me more the older they get. Sorry to the moms of little ones who just can’t wait for the freedom of older kids. It doesn’t always work out that way. The fact that my workplace only offers 12 hour shifts makes it all the harder. This is why I gave up my full time position more than four years ago and accepted a per diem position. I love my job. I love what I do. But my family right now needs me more and needs me to have more flexibility in when I work and when I am home for them.

In the workplace, I gave up a lot. Some think I don’t take my career as seriously I should. Some assume I’m lucky to stay home and choose not to work full time and work “whenever I feel like working”.  Not true. But it is what I choose to sacrifice the career a little for the family. And so I work pretty much every single weekend, when my family is home resting and playing.

But this weekend I had off…Friday through Sunday, which is the weekend in the night shift nurse-land.

How glorious!

How desperately needed.

So I put my calls directly to voice mail…because I knew that I would be called to come in due to staffing needs and new admissions. I was. I felt a little bit guilty because I know how hard it is to find extra staff when short-staffed, especially with surprise admissions…and especially on weekends. Yes, I felt a little bit guilty. But I reminded myself how desperately I needed my own weekend off for my own physical, mental and emotional health. It was time for me to take a weekend off and to enjoy…

a date night with the husband…

spending a few hours in my daughter’s stylist chair…

some cuddle time with a 10 month old who doesn’t believe in napping on a lazy Sunday afternoon. OMG, Fallon is TEN MONTHS OLD!!!…

enjoy some silly play when chores should be done…

and take some time to just play a little with my boy…who won’t be little that much longer…

to try out yet another recipe that I pinned on Pinterest and then sit down and enjoy some Sunday afternoon football. The enchiladas, by the way, were delicious!

And now Monday is here…back to the juggling of the kids, school, after school obligations and activities, the grandkids and everything else…oh, and work this weekend. I am so glad that I took this last weekend off.

what would I do with cash to spare?

Yesterday was payday under the Big Top and that is always a good day. In spite of what the “experts” might say about dual-income families, we are not rolling in the dough. We do not have tons of material goods: no big screen tv, no tv or computer in every room of the house, no Game Boy, X-box or any other toys like that. I only wish for fancy pedicures and spa days. Our last vacation as a family where we actually went somewhere was in 1992 and it was just Holly and Zoë back then.
No, we are not blessed with a huge disposable income. Sorry to disappoint the experts out there. We live pretty much paycheck to paycheck just like most Americans. We do know that one reason is because of poor choices we made when we were younger. But we have learned the hard way about living the American way on credit. It took a long time to pay for the mistakes we made but because of them, we live differently. We carry a one mortgage and one car payment. And although we do have one credit card with a low balance everything else is in cash including
those three sets of braces we currently have. So payday for us is bill paying day (my electric bill for those two weeks of triple digit temperatures is $500 and our ac was never set below 82°!) and re-stocking the pantry day.

So last night, after paying the current bills, I went grocery shopping to stock up the empty pantry. It didn’t take long to fill up that cart. While I unloaded my groceries onto the conveyer at the checkout, I couldn’t help but overhear the transaction ahead of me. The lady with her two small kids in the cart was having problems paying for her cart load. Her total was just over $90 but her bank card was declined. She kept trying and trying over and over again. She then began to remove items. Still her card was declined each time she tried. The clerk was getting rather exasperated with her. My heart really went out to this young woman and her kids. If I could I would have stepped up and covered the purchase. But after paying the bills I knew that I didn’t have the cash to spare. I wish I did. Someone once did that to me years ago. I was so embarrassed and yet so grateful. The person did it with no expectations in return except my thanks. I never saw that woman again but I will never forget her kind act. She will never know how much it meant to me. Someday I will pay it forward.
In the meantime, all I could do was say a quick silent prayer for that woman ahead of me as she picked up her children and walked out of the store without her groceries. God bless her.

I am a conscientious objector

My darling daughter #3, Abby, recently made an interesting and surprising observation to Bill and me. While we were relaxing one Sunday afternoon Abby commented in her usual random way, “You know compared to all of my friends houses our house is the cleanest and the nicest.”
As I looked past the clutter in the family room from our relaxed Sunday into the kitchen with the dishes from lunch still stacked on the counter by the sink, I found my self questioning her observation. True, I tend to be a person who craves organization but I live by the motto that once graced the walls of my mother’s home. “Our house, it’s clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.” Since I was the housekeeper of my stay at home mother’s home during my childhood, it would be easy to understand why I liked that little plaque of hers. Today I embrace that motto as mine because I am one of those moms who works outside the home and raising five children proves to a rather joyfully chaotic job in itself. My home will never be displayed in one of those better home decorating magazines because we happen to LIVE here.
Abby continued to maintain that of all of her friends, she had the cleanest home. Zoë joined in having hung out with some of the same people and agreed with Abby’s observation.
Still I questioned their observations. After all, in Abby’s circle of friends, Abby is the only one whose mother works outside the home. The other moms are all moms who are defined as SAHMs. As Abby continued to defend her observation I found my mind wandering to the times I have dropped her off and picked her up from her friends’ houses. Honestly, I can’t recall one house being neater or messier than my own. No, most of the homes of her friends were equally lived in as ours is. For me, her observations didn’t make me feel superior. No, instead it only reassured me that all of us moms struggled with the war against dust bunnies, laundry and smudged fingerprints. It is a neverending battle and sometimes we moms have to just walk away because we know ultimately what matters most is the time we give our families.
Perhaps I could come to a different conclusion about Abby’s observation…if I was snarky enough. I mean we live in a society where it is perfectly acceptable to tear another down in such a way so that we build ourselves up. We can be justified in knowing that we are made superior in our choices compared to the choices another makes.
Case in point: the ongoing mommy wars.
I do believe that much of the mommy wars of today is media driven. Still there are some of us moms who jump feet first into the thick of the battle ever ready to stir the pot and point out the failings of moms who make choices that are opposite to ours. Just lurk in any message board that discusses breastfeeding, bottle feeding circumcision, diapering issues, attachment parenting, the Ferber method, potty training, working outside the home, in the home, home schooling, private schooling, public schooling. Oh my goodness can you believe the things that are said?! The only right way is my way and no one could possibly love their children as much as I love mine if they choose any other way than my way. That is the general consensus of these boards. I hear these same discussions at the park, in playgroups, in Bible studies, at the gym, the hair salon and in the schools. And if it is in these places, you know it is out there in the blogs. Again, it is amazing and sad, very sad, how intelligent, gifted, loving moms will tear into the choices of other moms just to make their choices look like the best way, the only way.
It’s sad to see mothers cannibalize one another. Mommy guilt in of itself is powerful enough without tearing into the hearts of other mothers.
But maybe that is why moms as a whole seem to be sucked into the mommy wars. We feel guilty from the day we see that positive home pregnancy test. We over-analyze everything we have eaten or done in the weeks prior to that positive test wondering if it might have forever harmed our baby. We stress over how we carry that baby whether high or low and how many pounds we have gained or failed to gain. If we fail to carry to term we deal with the guilt that something we have done has caused this to happen. Then there are the choices we make in delivering our children. In spite of the alarming trend towards managed labor, the use of epidurals and the increasing rates of elective c-sections it seems that really the only good mom is the one who births that baby out without any drugs and nary a perineal tear in under four hours and then rises immediately from her birthing bed/stool/tub to clean up her own after-birth. Then it continues with the choices we make on how to feed, clean and teach our children. As our children flex their independence muscles and prepare to leave the nest the guilt and second guessing continues. I have yet reached the stage of life where I welcome grandchildren to wonder if there is guilt there too but I imagine there is…I mean was I a good model for my children as they raise my grandchildren and what if they make the same mistakes I make? Yup, that mommy-guilt is neverending. There must be a way we can somehow ease that personal guilt all of us feel….mommy wars!
I’m a better mom than any other is because I chose to breastfeed until my kids head off to preschool and cloth diaper them using diaper pins rather than those wraps or disposables and to co-sleep with my children until they were ready to leave the family bed and to refuse to allow Nintendo and Game Boy and Play Station in my home and instead read everything and anything to my children from newborn infancy on and to seek out the very best for each individual child when it comes to their preschool and child care and education and extra-curricular needs because I do work outside of the home because I choose to have my husband be the active parent that he is sharing in all the parenting and household duties I can accomplish except for breastfeeding because he wants to and because I see myself as my children’s mother not their friend and because I have chosen a career that allows me the flexibility to work full-time or part time or casually any hours that suits the needs of our family through the years and it goes on and on and on…
I COULD say all of that because it is true about me…
I could. But I won’t. I am the best mom for my children but I do not pretend to believe that the kind of mom that I am is the best way, the only way for all families. Good Lord, of course not.
We are all, thank goodness, different. What works very well under the Big Top I can be very certain doesn’t work for your household or my best friend or any of the moms of my daughter’s friends or the mommy bloggers out there who I happen to admire.
I look at my five children and I am confident that they are the amazing, bright, confident, well-behaved, loving, tender-hearted and self-reliant people that they are because of the choices Bill and I have made over the twenty years we have been parents. All the current studies and statistics can disprove this or support it (one can easily make studies and statistics favor their point of view) but ultimately it is who my children are that proves that my way and Bill’s way was/is the best way for our children, not yours and certainly not hers but mine.
Let the media and the talking heads continue on with the mommy wars all on their own. Let us, as parents, as moms and dads who love our children more than life itself consciously choose to set the example for our children of how to live the Golden Rule by applying it to other parents. Let us build one another up, support and encourage one another. I may not agree with your approach to potty training but I can certainly relate to all the stress and guilt and joy that comes with having children and raising them. Just imagine the kind of world it will be for our grandchildren if we do that.
Call me a bad mom if you will but I will not take up arms in the mommy wars.