Sunday, August 9, 2015

Family Friendly Music that Makes Kids Smile

We were just introduced to a new CD for the family called Cuddlebug Parade! And I'm so glad we were! Michal "Peanut" Karmi is the L.A.-based musician who has created this little gem.

As a mom of three children, music has always been an important part of our everyday experience. Now that my kids are getting older (10, 7.9 and 4.6 years old), their tastes and requests are evolving more into the pop genre, which includes the Kidz Bop and Disney channels on SiriusXM, away from the Kids Place Live, that has always been my fave choice for the family ride. Cuddlebug Parade has brought back some of that early childhood silliness that we love.

To be honest, in attempting to review this CD, it was extremely difficult to get all the children to settle down and listen with me. 'Herding squirrels' is my reality these days. However, I was able to play Peanut's music for the kids individually, one-by-one, and even for their neighbor friends. Here are some of the comments I gathered from them:
"She's so pretty!"
"I love her voice!"
"I like her creativity!"
"I love ALL the songs!" 
Personally, I am smitten with Peanut and Cuddlebug Parade. It is definitely NOT obnoxious and annoying like some children's music. The songs are all very unique; some are silly, fun and playful, others are educational, while others are sweet and mellow. The lyrics are so cute and catchy, as are the various instruments that are played (ukelele, drums, bass, not to mention hand claps and finger snaps.) My youngest chickadee and I listened to the whole CD together and were immediately singing along and laughing with the music. I treasure sweet moments like that with my children. Especially now that I'm getting a taste for the pre-teen angst with my oldest. :/ But I'm hopeful if I continue to play quality music like this for her, it will suspend some of her hostility.

I genuinely think that Peanut is one of those gifted people who connects with children and touches their lives. Reading about her background is very inspiring. Peanut says of her musical journey:
"After I graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Sustainable Food Systems and Environmental Ethics, I looked for a way to combine this rigorous course of study with a profession that was right for me. Happily, my efforts led me to build a career in children's music through an eco-friendly, animal-friendly, humanitarian, love-oriented lens. Besides, when my voice makes tiny little humans light up, and I see that it is touching their hearts, I know I'm doing what I'm meant to do."
"My great joy is sharing my music with children.  All I ask is a chance to touch their lives with truly appropriate, kid-friendly music that makes children smile, feel good, and think at the same time."
I think it's so cool that Peanut is fluent in three languages (English, Spanish and Hebrew) and incorporates it in several of her songs. She was raised in Israel and had lots of travel exposure including backpacking/hosteling in Central America. Apparently she performs at the farmers market in L.A., which would be awesome to go see sometime.

We watched some of her videos on YouTube and they are highly entertaining! I encourage you to watch them with your kids. It's irresistible to smile and sing along. This one was my youngest chickadee's fave - "Silly Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

The Cuddlebug Parade CD include these songs for your listening enjoyment:




Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this music review; I was provided a free download of the CD to facilitate a review. My opinion of the music is authentic.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Time and the Livin's Easy...

One month of summer vacation down and one left. Now's the time when back to school ads are everywhere, followed by Christmas ads.  (Exaggerating slightly.)

I'm now ten months into my 'new job' and starting to feel acclimated and in a rythym. I don't have as much debilitating anxiety and self doubt. I like everyone I work with and there is always something interesting going on.

This coming week I'm excited to report that we'll be taking an actual week long family vacation! This is a very rare occurrence and I'm excited, but hesitant at the same time. The work at home and at work will pile up and I will quickly get annoyed by my family and their chaos. Thankfully we'll be in the great outdoors so I can hike off any negative energy.  (While searching for a wifi signal.)

I'm always so entrenched in my work and domestic chore routine, that's it's difficult to relax and have fun. Not to mention that managing the children and their constant whining and bickering, detracts from any supposed vacation.

My now ten year old daughter (the one diagnosed with ADD/ODD a few years ago) is increasingly moody, negative, oppositional and straight up RUDE. It's really difficult to be patient, loving and kind with her. She torments her siblings continuously.  I'm at a loss. I would plug her into sports if she didn't day no to every sport I suggest and have her arm in a cast. (No I wasn't the one who broke it.  Lol.) Yet she can be very sweet at times. Especially when she wants something.

What makes weekends and vacations with the family more challenging is having to hear Daddy O bark orders, lecture the kids and basically huff and puff. Parenting is losing its charm.  All the joys are being sucked out, replaced with struggles with discipline, organization, cleanliness, timeliness, manners and more. It's hard to stay positive and enthusiastic.

I am going to try to chronicle my motherhood journey more and write honestly about my struggles. I hope it doesn't come across as excessive complaining.  I'm hoping some of you can relate.

Happy summer to you!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Joy

Greetings and happy Easter!

This weekend was full of family fun time and now it's the end of the weekend, all the wee ones are sleeping and I should be heading that direction too. I thought I'd give blogging another go since it's fallen to the wayside.

This morning I wanted to skip church and go straight to the beach to kayak or stand up paddle. I'm glad we went to church though. We went to a new 'campus' of our mega church and it was actually very peaceful and beautiful. The kids loved it too. I think we'll be back each Sunday.

After church we went to Baby Beach in Dana Point. I laid out and took a nap (a first falling asleep at the beach since having kids); what awoke me was a Smashball ball landing between my upper thighs. Awkward.

The oldest chickadee set up a play tent and hid in it, Daddy-O and the other two kids built a sandcastle. Sorry to say, I don't enjoy building sandcastles, moats or any of that sand digging activity. I can see the merits for children, but I have no interest. There were people out paddling around and I wanted to be one of them. Luckily, Daddy-O agreed to rent a kayak for an hour and we took turns with one kid at a time paddling around the bay. That was fun and the kids enjoyed it. Next time - SUPing!!

After the beach, I went to my massage appointment where I have a membership. I got a man assigned to me as that was all that was available. I'm always hesitant to have a dude massage me, but I've been giving it a chance lately as all massage therapists and massages are different and I like to see what I like best. This guy was much older in appearance than I've experienced in the past and it surprised me. He also had a strange speech pattern; it shook/modulated a little.

Luckily it was a very therapeutic massage, even though I was creeped out a little throughout. At one point he climbed on the table and dug his elbow in my butt muscles. I'm glad I left my underwear on; I thought he might try to hump me in the name of 'massage therapy'. But seriously, he targeted lots of neglected areas of my body (except for my privates).

I made an okay dinner of broiled chicken legs, steamed sweet potatoes and angel hair pasta and the kids ate some of it. Some of it landed on the floor and over the table too. For the millionth time I found myself wishing we had an 'Alice' (Brady Bunch). There is too much for us to do and not enough of us to go around and no energy to keep a clean house. It continues to discourage me. I try to force the kids to get involved and it's such a battle. Child labor, damn it!!

I'm sort of glad to be back to work tomorrow, but also dreading it. The little nuisances, the meetings, the deadlines, too many emails, being rushed, harried, eating lunch at my desk, not getting enough movement throughout the day... I can't keep up with work or home!

I've been mildly depressed for quite some time and now I feel like I'm nearing a breakdown. I don't know what one is but I feel at risk for having one. Thoughts of running away, feeling trapped in a rat race, not feeling joy in anything, angry, bitter, unmotivated, unloving. Maybe I'm having a midlife crisis but I don't know how to feel better. I am trying to eat really healthy, limit caffeine, work out, etc. but I think I need to see a counselor. A counselor that I can dump everything on and hopefully get clarity.

I've made it seven months at my new job surprisingly! I've survived this far. I didn't think I would. I don't think I want to stay there long term, but I am trying to make it a year at least. I need to give it my extreme effort to keep up the workload and try to make a difference in my role. I've really enjoyed getting to know most the people I work with.

I'm going to try to blog regularly. Even though less than 30 people read my posts, maybe one or two people can relate with what I'm going through. Yes, I vent a lot. But I need to let some of this crap out instead of having it bottled up inside me all the time.

Leave a comment below if you're so inclined. :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Job = New Work-Life Balance Struggle

I've been at my new job almost five months now!! I'm so much happier there now that I've adjusted and gotten the hang of things!! Yay me!

I'm not gonna lie though - it was likely one of the hardest job adjustments I've ever had to make. It could be due to being older, more anxious/worried, so many things at home to juggle, combined with the fact that this job has an intense workload. So many deadlines, so little time.

I try to keep my focus on my project list, calendar, meetings and be able to manage frequent interruptions from people coming in my office, calls and a constant stream of emails. I usually eat lunch at my desk and force myself to be chained to my desk most of the day (aside from a power walk with coworkers occasionally). I am convinced I have ADD and this job intensifies it, but I have not given up. There were days I think I was near a full-on panic attack and was ready to walk out the front door and never come back.

One day I was feeling particularly overwhelmed and I even texted my old boss at my previous job asking if my position was still open. It was embarrassing and humbling to be at such a low point, but I'm glad I didn't give up. And that the position wasn't available.

Now, I'm more confident, familiar, relaxed and competent. I've managed to accomplish a lot in a short period of time and I think people are impressed (or at least relieved). When I first meet people, or I'm new to a job, it takes me a while to come out of my shell and speak up. I go through an introverted, shy adjustment period and it likely comes across as meek and incompetent. In my position, I think people are expected to be confident, assertive, take-charge and outspoken. That doesn't come easy for me. I struggle with feelings of inferiority, insecurity or what is coined, 'imposter syndrome'. It's wild.

I have always disliked public speaking. I've taken a Toastmasters course last summer which helped my speaking skills. This job has also helped as my boss has been understanding and has coached me where I need help. Being knowledgeable about the subject and being prepared are the main keys to being a good speaker. Practice, practice, practice.

On the home front, I do feel a little guilty that I haven't been able to do more with the kids as I used to with my prior, more flexible job. I wish I could volunteer in the kids classes, show up for the parties, pick them up earlier, do a weeknight activity/sport, etc. I want to be a loving, involved mom and be there for each of my three children. They are all happy, healthy and doing well; Daddy-O has stepped it up when I need him more. But I really miss having special time together. When I pick the kids up from school, it's 6:00 and from the moment we get in the car and head home, they are bickering and creating chaos. It's maddening.

Once home, we have about two hours to do homework, eat dinner, take showers, brush teeth, put on pajamas, get tucked in for bed. But all three kids run around shrieking like banshees and doing whatever they want and completely don't hear me when I try to lead them to what they should do. I have become invisible and inaudible! So my mothering attitude has become quite jaded and angry and I'm sad that it has become this way. I'm always yelling, threatening, swearing, nagging, bribing and whining. It's pathetic and I'm sick of being this way.

After the long Christmas break, I was completely excited to return back to the office for work. It is complete sensory overload with a house full of active children, when I just want a moment or two of peace, quiet and solitude. It is best for me to have a job to go to during the week. I need that in my life for my mental health.

I'm making small changes at home to try to bring order to chaos and to foster a nurturing environment. I'm pushing myself to clean and organize the clutter. I'm making new, healthy recipes for dinners that hopefully appeals to the kids. I'm being more disciplined with each child to hold them accountable for their actions, which can be time consuming, but necessary. I'm removing TV and tablet on school nights. These tough actions aren't making me a very popular person at home, but I think it's necessary to create order and better behavior.

I really do need think I need to have a parenting support group or a psychologist though. I sense I'm in danger of an emotional breakdown. I have been taking a few hours alone doing something away from home during the weekend, which is super nice (massage, gym, nails, hair, friends, book club, etc.) but I could still benefit from talking to others who understand my struggles and can offer helpful advice. I don't want to turn into my mother!

If you would like to share your own personal work/life struggle on this blog, please contact me. It's nice to hear others' experiences. I can publish it anonymously, so don't be shy.

Best Spa Products, Spa Shop

Friday, October 24, 2014

Burnt Out

This summer, 'Listen to Your Mother' stage show came to Orange County. I fully intended on going; I knew it would be right up my alley. I was even toying with the idea of auditioning, even though I'm petrified of public speaking. Sadly, I missed the show altogether.

Recently, when I was searching to see if Listen to Your Mother was coming back, I stumbled on some recap videos. I especially loved this one of a pediatrician turned stay at home mom. Everything she says is so spot on for me! I am so burnt out and seriously considering choosing mothering full time over working. It's becoming too difficult, with minimal reward for my tremendous effort.

Enjoy the performance and HAPPY FRIDAY!!!