Saturday, December 22, 2012

Disgruntled Christmas

Merry Christmas! Joy to the world and all that cheer. Instead of feeling full of good will to men, I feel stressed and burdened. So much to do, so many kids, so little time.

I go to work angry because I have so many other things to do and it's just another obstacle in the way to my ultimate happiness. Ironically I can't be very productive at work due to constant interruptions, meetings and distractions. I want to request to work from home but I don't like to seem like I want special privileges. I'd like to cut down on my commute and gas money and childcare. Not to mention frustration.

The other day I felt so anxious about all I had to do, I felt like I was going to pass out. Then I was so happy to see my five year old sing in her school's Christmas performance and that cheered me up. It helped remind me the true reason for the season and God's love for us. I love all the songs about baby Jesus in the manger and the gifts He brings.

On the other hand, I dislike feeling pressured to shop. I hate what happened to the children of Sandy Hook and my heart breaks for those families. I hate watching the news and I especially dislike L.A. news programs. I despise the newscasters' skanky fashions and obsession with celebrity news and crimes. There'ss no end to the bad news shit storm. Put away your cleavage, short skirts and stripper shoes chicks and get to some real news.

This next week, my family and I are on the road Griswold style. Pray that we survive it! We hit the road this morning and just barely made it out of L.A. Soon we will be in rain and then snow. Hooray for winter weather! I can't wait to be back in the Great Northwest!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Funky Alternatives to the Gym

Sporting the Shape Up fit flops, toned leg & 1 bunion.
Photo credit: Elle, SMW
Camera 360 App on Motorola Droid
Here are my Shape Up fit flops that I got a few years ago (product website appears to now be defunct.) But now I've pulled them out again since I have very limited time to get to the gym. Today I wore them to clean the house and walk the dog around the neighborhood. I'm sure I am quite the sight walking around the 'hood with my double stroller, wild kids, a large breed dog and these crazy shoes with a semi-wobbly walk, but who cares? I'm getting in shape. Aren't I?

Stamina InStride Cycle
My other exercise alternatives are my new under the desk 'l'il peddler' for work, pull up/push up/sit up bar and I just ordered a new trampoline with a handle on Amazon so I can get more cardio in at home.

Marcy Cardio Trampoline Trainer

I also want to try to make more time for small Pilates and yoga videos and try to sign up for a Pilates reformer class at the Y. I also wish I could get a treadmill desk, but I suspect that would be a waste of money and space. I also have my other standbys: jump rope, mountain bike, beach cruiser, baby in the Kelty backpack walkabout and I suppose I could try jogging like the other Southern Californians around here (equipped with a Poise pad of course.) I haven't been keeping up with the kegel exercises, but I'd better if I'm going to be bouncing on a trampoline.
Sevylor Samoa standup paddleboard

I bought Daddy-O (but really me) an inflatable stand up paddleboard on an Amazon.com cyber-Monday sale and I'm psyched about that. We could take it to Lake Mission Viejo or Dana Point harbor to paddle about. Maybe even Big Bear Lake in the summer. Woo hoo! It even collapses/deflates and fit into a small backpack so we could take it anywhere!

The active presents I got for the chickadees this Christmas, I ordered them a pogo stick and a portable, freestanding tetherball set (for my make-believe sport court at home). When I was a girl, I loved bouncing on my pogo stick and was convinced I could get the world record for most bounces. I did not really play organized sports but I loved exercising/playing actively. I think it's way more fun than being locked into a regimented sports routine.

Lifetime Portable Tetherball System 
Flybar Foam Maverick Pogo Stick
I will keep you up to speed on my alternative workouts. I haven't been very disciplined in my eating of raw foods and juicing, but I'm sort of avoiding carbs...sometimes. I'm so stressed out that I almost can't help myself to dive into the Halloween candy every night. And no I'm not going to just throw out all away - that would be ludicrous!

My goal: healthy and fit and attractive. I'm aiming for 118 pounds. I'm about 124 right now and a size 4, as I typically am. I just don't like my office physique and tired, depressed, angry, out-of-sorts moods. Maybe I should try having more sex.

How do you like to stay in shape?


Disclaimer: images in this post link to its Amazon.com product page. As I'm an Amazon affiliate. I may receive some pittance for your eyeballs and hypothetical purchase. All products shown have legitimately been purchased.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

L'il Chicken Hawk's Year Two Recap

Our almost two year old was not in the spirit for Santa or sisters.
Photo Credit: Elle, SeeMomWorkBlog.com
My L'il Chicken Hawk is on the brink of turning two and Daddy-O has scheduled his vasectomy. Both events make me a little melancholy and wistful. I have recently started to stare longingly at newborns again and contemplate another baby in our family. But that's crazy talk. We are not equipped to deal with four kids and we struggle to manage the three we do have.

So I'll be saying good bye to my baby boy and my man's fully-functioning plumbing, and hello to potty training a two year old again and hopefully having plenty of unprotected sex (with my husband of course).

Here are some of the highlights from my son's second year of life, in no particular order of significance.
  • Cloth Diapering - I exclusively cloth diapered another year, while only using disposables at bedtime and while traveling. I've kept up with the laundering myself, about once every 2-3 days. I know it's saved us a ton of money and a lot of skin irritation for him. I'm very happy that I've stuck with it and will continue to stick with it until he's potty trained (hopefully by the age of 3). I like the system and routine I've established with it and extremely happy that our Mrs. Nanny-Sitter has adapted it without problem. She puts them in the vanilla-scented garbage bags I supply her with, I take them home and put them in a plastic garbage can until I have it full. Then I hose them down in the toilet with the shower nozzle and then throw them in the wash. One cycle in cold, one cycle in hot, then hang the covers to dry and put the cloth inserts in the dryer on extra hot.
  • Working and Childcare - I went back to work last February when he was a little past one year old and have been working full time ever since. It was a little difficult for me to lose that special bonding time with him and I miss him during the day. But I'm happy that he has flourished under the care of Mrs. Nanny-Sitter and the few other children that she watches. He loves her husband and kids too so when they come home at the end of the day, they play and dunk cookies in milk and hang out on the couch watching Cars. It's never perfect when someone else watches your children, but I'm mainly happy with our arrangement. I will likely put him into a group daycare/pre-pre-school when he is two and a half and after I'm done paying tuition for my junior kindergartner. I am happy that he is in a nurturing, safe, loving environment with lots of attention.
  • Sisterly Relationships - He is having so much fun playing with his sisters (7 and 5). They are starting to chase each other around the house and wrestle on the floor. His laughter is irrestible. It's fun to see the girls interested in 'boy' activities and learning new things through him too. He also enjoys playing with their toys and making them more manly; like the shopping cart, purses, dolls, etc.
  • Snacks and More Snacks - He is always hungry and wanting snacks. This was one of his first words, and it's not easy to say. He knows how to open the pantry, fridge and freezer and you have to keep an eye on him or he'll take everything out and dump it on the floor. He also likes to feed the dog, so our gentle giant always keeps close by for morsels. His favorites are cookies and crackers and ice.
  • His Loves - Dogs, trains, firetrucks, garbage trucks, cars, motorcycles and bikes. He spots them from miles away and tells me all about it. "Ruff ruff", "vroom, vroom", "choo choo" and he uses hand signs to tell me too.
  • Finding His Voice - He is extremely communicative, even if he can't speak in full sentences. He uses hand signs, grunts, single syllable words, facial expressions and physically takes you to what he wants by tugging on your clothes and pointing. The other night he had a stuffy nose and he pointed at it and said "achoo"; it was so darn cute! He can understand practically everything we tell him. The other day I told him we were going to church and wagged his finger at me and said, "No church, no church." 
  • Speed, Agility and Feats of Strength - He is getting very agile and fast. I have to really keep my eye on him or it can be deadly. The other day he drew on the wall, squirted himself in the eye with Goof Off and knocked over the Christmas tree; all within a few hours. It can be exasperating to say the least. He got his first spanking from Daddy-O after the tree incident, since some of the ornaments that broke were special, irreplaceable ones from his deceased mother. He also has excellent aim when throwing. He can throw food with perfect aim and force. I have found rice and other food particles in my hair at work before.
  • Adorable Haircuts - He has had at least three haircuts already and I love his hair. It is so blond and straight and fluffy. It's often sticking up in the back like Dennis the Menace. I love a nice, tidy boy haircut, trimmed around the ears and neck. I don't like shaggy hair on boys. I like putting a little gel in it and making it a little spikey in the front. I love doing all my kids' hair and making it fun, actually.
  • Cute Clothes - I'm digging the little boy clothes and rugged style he's rocking. He loves his cowboy boots and choo-choo train Robeez. I love his Skidders (sock/shoe combo). He loves his Buzz Lightyear t-shirt. I love his corduroy pants and hip jeans. And the way his bright, colorful cloth diapers peek out at the top.
  • Big Heart and Crocodile Tears - He doesn't like to be scolded. When I get angry with him and yell about something he's done, he cries with big crocodile tears and acts very sad. Then he comes over and gives me a big hug. It melts my heart. This is how a mama's boy is created, folks. I used to scoff at coddling mommies, but now I'm turning into one. "Oh you want another piece of candy for breakfast, honey? Sure!" When we went to visit Santa this past weekend, he was paralyzed with fear and tears streamed down his cheeks with the horror of sitting on Santa's lap. But it was nothing a little candy cane couldn't fix.
  • Too Much TV. Too Much Sweets. I'm not happy at how much TV he's watching at Mrs. Nanny-Sitter's. We don't like the kids, especially before the age of two, to watch too much TV. With two older sisters, it's hard not to have TV sometimes and the L'il Chicken Hawk seems completely entranced by it. He also has too much sweets in my opinion, but at least he doesn't turn into a crazy kid after eating it like my oldest chickadee does (even to this day).
  • Fun Play Style - I love how he gets down on his belly to play with his toys on the floor and to see how they work close up. He can spend great lengths of time opening and closing doors and moving people in and out. It's so fun to watch.
  • Full of Joy - He has a big smile and adorable laugh. He loves to be tickled. He loves when I play games with his toes, fingers and blowing bubbles on his belly. He says, "Tickle, mama". He remembers landmarks we drive by all the time and will say "Eat" when we pass restaurants we've ate at before. He loves making animal noise imitations. He is a sponge soaking up love and learning.
  • Healthy - I'm happy that he's healthy and developing well. I know there are many heartbroken moms and dads out there dealing with health issues with their children. We know of a family with an 11 month old who is facing the heart-wrenching decision to take their child off of life support today. They had no clue their child was born with a lung defect, and suddenly when he was having a temper tantrum one day, the boy passed out. Ever since they discovered something was wrong, the child has had many procedures done trying to keep his lungs from collapsing. They were told by the doctors that he is not eligible for a lung transplant so there is nothing that can be done. I can't fathom the depth of fear, sadness and helplessness those parents are feeling. I'm thankful for my L'il Chicken Hawk and the immense joy I have from being his mom. Every day with him is a gift from God.
This past two years with our L'il Chicken Hawk have been very fun and rewarding. We are so thankful he is a part of our family. We couldn't imagine life without him. I'm a little sad that he's turning two. I keep telling him, "You're turning TWO!" holding up my fingers at him and he wags his finger at me and says, "No two!" We are going to celebrate his birthday this coming weekend at Irvine Regional Park Railroad with a train ride, the enclosed zoo, a bike ride and of course birthday cake and balloons. Just us. It's too close to Christmas to have a real party as most people we know are crazy busy like us.

And in ten more days, Daddy-O will be neutered! He says he's not afraid, but I would be a little. What a trooper. He hasn't even asked me to drive him to his appointment. Apparently it's no big deal of a procedure. Our baby making days are over! Sniff sniff. 

Boot Barn

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Guest Post: Sukey Molloy - Movement and Music Play for Busy Families

Movement & Music Play
Photo Credit: Sukey Molloy

Ladies and gentlemen, mommies and daddies, please allow me to introduce you to our guest blogger du jour; the one, the only, SUKEY MOLLOY! Sukey is a children's music performer who knows all about work life balance. My family and I enjoy her fun, cheerful music immensely!

I've asked her to discuss how she finds time for quality time for music and movement in her family and her suggestions for fostering balance and fun in our own families. Without further ado, here are Sukey's words of wisdom.

Movement & Music Play Together at Home!
I Like to Move My Body and My Head Goes ‘Round!
Ages 2-5 years

During my sons’ growing years, I was a working mom, part time, and along with the many wonderful joys, I discovered there are many challenges working moms face. One of those challenges being how difficult it is to schedule special one on one time - just to relax with our children and have fun. It’s somehow the thing that always gets lost in the shuffle, and is the thing we really want most.

When Elle spoke with me about a guest blog, she mentioned an interest in music activities, and fine and gross motor activities, that working moms could share with their children at home, that would reduce stress and bring families together.

Sharing music and movement together is not only fun, but also important because so much of our lifestyle causes us to be physically inactive, even when we’re so busy. Movement and music play offer opportunities to be together, while at the same time developing physical skills,  having physical fun, and sharing moments of joy.

I’d like to share a song, and a video that I think you’ll enjoy, and I hope you and your children will get up and move along!

I Like to Move My Body (video), invites your participation in exploring different movement postures. Did you know that the postures we learn by age ten are likely the ones we will carry through life? For this activity, you’ll need a chair for each person, and a warm floor to sit down and roll on.

My Head Goes ‘Round (song) offers rhythmic movement with lyrics that invite you to move specific parts of your body. I hope you’ll try both of these activities at home together and let me know how it goes! The activities are appropriate for ages 2-5 years, and adults.
“Few things make children happier than learning something new, feeling a new physical sensation, and finding out what their bodies can do.” Garland O’Quinn Jr., PH.D., Teaching Developmental Gymnastics, University of Texas Press, copyright 1990, Pg. 8.


 SONG: My Head Goes Round by Sukey Molloy (from "I Am Happy")


Lyrics: My Head Goes Round
Try the movements while you sing the song!

My head goes ‘round and ‘round,
Then it goes up and down,
My head goes ‘round and ‘round,
‘Round and up and down, Oh!

My shoulders go up and down,
Then they go ‘round and ‘round,
‘Round and ‘round and up and down,
And then I touch the ground, oh!

My arms go ‘round and ‘round,
Then they go up and down,
My arms go ‘round and ‘round,
‘Round and up and down, oh!

My hands go up and down,
Then they go ‘round and ‘round,
‘Round and ‘round and up and down,
And then I turn around, oh!

My body goes ‘round and ‘round,
Then it goes up and down,
My body goes ‘round and ‘round,
‘Round and up and down, oh!

My knees go up and down,
Then they go ‘round and ‘round,
‘Round and ‘round and up and down,
And then I lie right down, oh!

My fingers go ‘round and ‘round,
Then they go up and down,
My fingers go ’round and ‘round,
‘Round and up and down, oh!

My feet go up and down,
Then they go ‘round and ‘round,
‘Round and ‘round and up and down,
And then I roll around!

About Sukey Molloy

Sukey Molloy is a children’s music performer, award winning recording and video artist, and former professional modern dancer. Based in Nyack, NY, Sukey has studied Developmental Movement, Kidnastics, and Infant Development, and has designed and taught music and movement programs in nursery schools, after-school programs, and elementary schools.  In 2005 Sukey launched her own program of "Mommy & Me" classes and teacher training workshops, creating PlayMove&Sing Inc.  Sukey Molloy’s April CD release, “I Am Happy!” is available at www.SukeyMolloy.com, along with her DVDs and other CDs.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Venting of a Disgruntled Daughter in Law

Photo Credit: Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime.com
Now that the holidays are upon us, I'm feeling extremely stressed, annoyed, overwhelmed and anxious. I don't like all the craziness of it, but I also want to make the season memorable and enjoyable for the kids. I don't have much extra time for shopping and decorating and cooking, so that doesn't make me happy either.

The in-laws came to visit us during the Thanksgiving break and I pretty much mentally checked out the entire time. I was trying to be tolerant and kind and relatively hospitable, but I increasingly became irate; mostly with my step mother in law. She always had contrary things to say and I grew weary of her mannerisms and presence. Parenting itself exhausts me; having guests makes it even worse.

At one point, my l'il chickadee (5), said on the car ride from a restaurant, "Get out of our way!", which is what I often say when I'm driving, and one of our Lightning McQueen Car toy says, so it was perfectly acceptable to me. 'Granny' chastised her, "That's not polite to say. We can't just say whatever we want." Me: "Self expression is so liberating though. It's healthy." Granny: "That's the downfall of civilization - people just saying whatever they want all over the internet." I wish I had said something clever about Freedom of Speech and empowering people, but instead I said something lame like, "The internet is not the downfall of civilization, and the world isn't a perfect place anyway. Earth is only temporary, it's always been filled with evil and it will only be perfect when we reach heaven." (She's not spiritual or religious.)

Of course I say it while looking away from her and in a mumble since I don't like confrontation. She retorted, "I'll remember that when I'm drifting off to sleep at night". Not sure what she meant by that, but whatever. Not only does her words annoy me to the core, but the way Daddy-O and my father in law stay mute the entire time she and I are shooting verbal bullets to each other. I wish either 'man' would speak up and say something even just to diffuse the situation or change the subject. But they don't. They remain silent and pretend not to hear.

Then I pulled out my phone and wrote down what happened in my notetaking app for blog ideas. She was sitting next to me and asked what I was writing. Me: "Making notes of what to write about." Granny: "Are you still writing?" Me: "Yes. Not fiction. Creative writing on my website for self expression, publicity and reviews, etc." I don't want to delve into my blog and what I really write about for fear of her scrutiny. I've tried to tell her various things about myself in the past and my interests, but she doesn't seem to get it, care or find it of any value. Unless I was writing for the New Yorker, it is of no consequence.

The next morning at breakfast I was trying again to be pleasant, but keeping my emotional distance. When my oldest chickadee (7) asks me for another English muffin, I handed it to her. Granny said something about being careful about eating too much bread or else she might get chubby. My anger skyrocketed and I snapped, "We DON'T talk like that." But I didn't speak directly to her; I was saying it while looking at my son in his highchair. My l'il chickadee asked granny what she meant by that and then she tried to define the meaning of her words and the consequence of eating too much bread without enough protein to balance it out.

I hate that she did that. I was and still am pissed off about it. We don't talk about fat, chubby or overweight with the girls. We talk about being healthy and active and we don't make eating certain foods a big deal. They are extremely fit, slim and muscular. I try not to even use negative words when describing my physique. I don't want my daughters to have low self esteem or body image or an eating disorder. Granny certainly has some issues with her eating as it always seems to be about food restriction for her. But she sure makes up her calories in drinking wine.

I also seethed at Daddy-O for not speaking up then either and just ignoring the family table discussion altogether. I wrack my brain in trying to figure out how to best cope with this family stress. I want to avoid any more holidays with them and I don't want them staying with us ever again. I want to move far far away from them to make it even harder for them to visit, but the kids love spending time with them. I just don't. So maybe I should just go away when they visit? Why can't they stay in a damn hotel?

I wish I was better at coping in stressful situations. I wish I was better at confronting authority and elders assertively without fear. I'm brave in other areas of my life, but I'm so uncomfortable when I think about talking honestly and directly to people. What am I scared of? Their approval, acceptance, judgement?

Granny was an only child and never had any children of her own. She tends to like high society and polite conversation. She doesn't like competitive games, playing sports, teasing, etc. I'm the opposite. I like low brow humor, rowdy activities, competition, athletic activities and dirty jokes. She is becoming increasingly crotchety in her age. Perhaps this is the normal course for women? Even so, it can be intolerable.

Luckily I survived their visit and now it's back to normal with them at a safe distance a state away. Christmas vacation will be spent with my crazy family in Washington, but on our own terms. We'll take a leisurely road trip with plenty of stops along the way for adventure: Northern California, Redwoods, Portland, Seattle and the surrounding areas. It's going to take a long time, but we have two weeks off of work. I can't wait!! (Even though spending that much time in cramped space with all of us together might get overwhelming.)

So in the mean time, I'm dealing with all my emotions at work and at home: mild depression, melancholy, anger, impatience, restlessness, anxiety, low self esteem, doubt, worry... I'm just trying to survive and get through each day of chores, tasks, responsibility and humdrum. Needless to say, I'm not very enthusiastic lately. But it's nothing new to me really.

I told my one of my colleagues (who is a therapist) about my Thanksgiving and how I needed therapy after it. He recommended I read the book, Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life. I've certainly read my fair share of books on healing from my dysfunctional family upbringing, but I'm willing to read a new one.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Contest: Orange County Adventures

I'm not from Orange County originally, but I've lived here for over 12 years now, and I still haven't experienced all there is to do. So much work, so many kids, so much housework, so little energy, so little time, so little money...

But check this out! The Anaheim Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau has introduced a new contest to help showcase the best of Orange County. So Cal peeps can enter to win an OC Adventure and I for one am hoping to win something! Maybe you can too.

One lucky Grand Prize winner and their friends or family will win a chance to experience some OC Adventures! The Grand Prize package includes:

•             Four (4) Disneyland® Resort Park Hopper® tickets
•             Four (4) tickets aboard Ocean Institute’s R/V Sea Explorer
•             Four (4) tickets to Bowers Museum
•             Four (4) tickets to Discovery Science Center
•             Four (4) tickets to OC Wildlife & Beach Tour
•             Four (4) tickets to Pretend City Children’s Museum
•             Four (4) tickets to Knott's Berry Farm® Theme Park
•             Dinner for four (4) at Pirate's® Dinner Adventure

Just visit the Anaheim/Orange County Facebook page,  “Like” them and enter to win and share this contest with your social network! Limit one entry per Facebook page, participants can earn five (5) BONUS entries for every Facebook friend that enters. Visit www.facebook.com/AnaheimOC for more details.

And just for added fun, leave me a comment below telling me what your fave So Cal family activity is. Personally, I like the great outdoors and trail walks best.


iPhone Reasons

Monday, November 19, 2012

A So Cal Family Christmas at Knott's Merry Farm


Get ready for some big time fun in a small town setting in Southern California! Introducing: Knott's Merry Farm!! I can't wait to go with the family! Our l'il Chicken Hawk is on the cusp of turning two years old, so what a perfect way to celebrate his birthday and Christmas. It is going to be memorable for all of us! 

It's easy for me to get overwhelmed and stressed out around the holidays, especially being surrounded by large crowds of people. I much prefer these quaint, affordable destinations for our family holiday staycation memories. Here are all the festivities that Knott's Berry Farm is featuring this Christmas season.

Knott's News Release:



Knott’s Berry Farm will be filled with the magic of the season this year as it transforms into Knott’s Merry Farm and celebrates with live entertainment, crafts fair, spectacular decorations including a 65 foot tall Christmas tree, and a colorful Christmas parade starting Thanksgiving Day and running through January 6, 2013.
         
"It's Christmas, Snoopy!" at Knott's Merry Farm
Photo Credit: Knott's Berry Farm
Now a holiday tradition in Southern California, Knott’s Merry Farm is proud to present the holiday ice spectacular, “It’s Christmas, Snoopy!”  The show, performed in the 2,100-seat Charles M. Schulz Theatre, is hosted by the famous skating beagle and his PEANUTS friends as they look for the true meaning of Christmas.  The show features Knott’s ensemble skaters, dazzling sets, colorful costumes and plenty of surprises!   “It’s Christmas, Snoopy!” will be presented November 22-25; December 1-2, 8-9, 15-18, 20-24, 26 -31, January 1, 3-6, 2013.
       
Children and adults alike will enjoy “A Peanuts’ Holiday Parade” which includes seven elaborately themed floats featuring the PEANUTS Gang.  Join CHARLIE BROWN, LUCY, LINUS, SALLY, SCHROEDER and of course SNOOPY, as they partake in all the holiday festivities including cookie making, tree trimming, and even toy building!   A delightful soundtrack, professional dancers and the appearance of Santa make this a must-see for everyone.  “A Peanuts’ Holiday Parade” will run from November 22-25; December 1-2, 8-9, 15 - 23, 26 -31, January 1-6, 2013.      
         
Knott’s 1880s Ghost Town will again be transformed into Knott’s Christmas Crafts Village, inviting mall-weary guests to explore one-of-a-kind treasures created by dozens of artisans in a Victorian holiday wonderland of strolling carolers, musical groups, community choirs and lavish holiday decorations. The Knott’s Christmas Crafts Village is free Monday through Thursdays and runs from November 22 through December 24.
       
Adding to the unique Village atmosphere are live performances of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and O. Henry’s “A Gift of the Magi” in the Bird Cage Theatre.
       
Elf Mountain  Christmas is also back.  The world famous Timber Mountain Log Ride has once again been transformed this holiday season giving guests an up-close-and-personal view into the world of Santa’s Elves.  Sneak a peek at Santa’s helpers as they get ready for Santa’s busiest day of the year.  Rich with lights, music and the merriest of times, this attraction will remain open until Jan. 6, 2013.
       
Guests can also experience the wonder of “Snoopy’s Magical Nights of Lights.” Hundreds of thousands of twinkling white and multicolored lights merrily light up the nighttime sky accompanied by a festive soundtrack that brings the Christmas spirit alive from dusk to Park closing.
         
A trip to Knott’s Merry Farm would not be complete without a visit with the man of the hour – Santa!  Stop by Santa’s Toy Barn for a little one-on-one with the big guy.  Here, in Santa’s cozy hideaway, kids can share their wish lists with St. Nick, and Mom and Dad can take home a picture of the occasion (photo requires additional fee).
           
Village guests can also indulge in the ultimate comfort foods with Knott’s world-famous holiday treats, including fresh-baked pies, cakes, cookies, muffins and gingerbread men, as well as daily specials and the legendary cooking at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant.
             
Another holiday treat is “Snoopy’s Calico Christmas Tree Lighting” each evening in Calico Square.  Join SNOOPY, LUCY, LINUS, SALLY and CHARLIE BROWN as they host a song-and-dance show complete with carolers and a Christmas sing-along then light a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, November 22-December 24.
 
For more holiday cheer, the Peanuts gang and their pal JT are featured in their very own live musical show, “Winter Wonderland” shown daily in Camp Snoopy.

Merry Farm guests can combine their holiday treats with Knott’s blockbuster rides.  The legendary GhostRider®, the ultimate wooden sleigh ride; 30-story Supreme Scream®, the world’s tallest descending thrill ride; and Silver Bullet, the longest and tallest suspended coaster in the West will all be available for holiday enjoyment.

Knott’s Merry Farm admission covers all Christmas Crafts Village and in-park shows and activities, including the ice show, “It’s Christmas, Snoopy!” and all regular rides, shows and attractions.  A Knott’s 2013 Season Pass makes a wonderful Christmas present and is available for only $66.99, and can be purchased with our six easy payment plan now through 1/13/13.  Buy one now and receive one free visit in 2012 and additional visits through 2012 for just $9.99 per day!
                 
Knott’s opens daily at 10 a.m.  The park closes Dec. 25 to allow its employees to spend Christmas with their families.  For information about the day you plan to visit and available discounts, call (714) 220-5200 or click on www.knotts.com or download the Knott’s Berry Farm mobile app for your smartphone.



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Let Mrs. Knott's Cook Your Thanksgiving Feast

Here is some news that I am happy to pass along! I'm all for making my fellow stressed out mama's lives easier. I love a delicious home-cooked meal and Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant at Knott's Berry Farm is one of the tastiest in Southern California!



Mrs. Knott's News Release:
Don't spend the time laboring over the Thanksgiving meal this Thursday when Mrs. Knott’s can do the cooking! This Thanksgiving, Knott’s Berry Farm will be offering a special Thanksgiving Holiday Menu, a complete buffet at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant, or a classic Take Home Thanksgiving Dinner.

The traditional Thanksgiving Holiday Menu at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant will make you feel right at home! The meal includes roasted farm raised turkey with giblet gravy, roast prime rib of beef, glazed ham with sweet yams, mashed potatoes with gravy, Mrs. Knott’s famous fried chicken, green beans or sweet buttered corn, freshly baked biscuits and Knott’s preserves, and traditional pumpkin or boysenberry pie. Thanksgiving Holiday Menu prices are $19.95 for Adults, $11.25 for Children (3 -11) and $23.95 price for roast prime rib of beef dinner.


For a more expansive holiday menu, try the Thanksgiving Champagne Brunch also offered at Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. This buffet includes items from Knott’s pantry and salad kitchen; carving stations with roasted prime rib of beef, turkey and ham; holiday classics including Mrs. Knott’s fried chicken, country apple stuffing; a South of the Border station with cheese enchiladas and tamales; pasta station; dessert station and much, much more. Thanksgiving Champagne Brunch prices are $29.95 for Adults, $23.95 for Seniors (62+) and $17.95 for Children (3 -11).


A holiday dinner on the go never tasted this good! Knott’s famous Take Home Thanksgiving Dinner offers a complete meal with all the fixings your family will love including a complete turkey or honey glazed ham, country apple stuffing, freshly baked rolls, warm candied yams, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, creamy giblet gravy, whole kernel corn, bread and butter pickles, and your choice of fresh boysenberry or pumpkin pie. For $99.95+tax, the Take Home Thanksgiving Dinner serves 6-8 people. Placing your order has never been so easy, simply visit www.knotts.com or call (714) 220-2055.


 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Laurie Berkner's Song About Work Life Balance

While writing a review for Laurie Berkner's new Christmas CD, I stumbled upon her article she wrote for Huffington Post on "Balancing Work and Motherhood". She even wrote a song about her struggle for work life balance.
Laurieberkner
Photo Credit: Huffington Post
 Balancing Work and Motherhood
The journalist asks me, "How do you do it?" 
My answer is "Not very well."
Each day is different 
And when I think I've found a rhythm 
All the plans I've devised 
And so carefully scheduled
Get all shot to hell.
So I'll take a taxi, 
'Cause I might get there faster
But the subway would cost me much less. . . 
Ugh, the trains are delayed!
Now what if there's traffic?
Either way, half my days
Are spent out of breath
Running from one thing
Late to another
Looked away for two minutes, and now there's a line!
Forgot to bring lunch again 
(Mine, not hers)
Slow down, slow down
Slow down
Slow
Down...
I'll get there
Just not on time.
Talking with Brian
And planning for sitters
Who's home today,
You or me?
That feeling of panic
That hits when I think,
"I forgot to make sure she was free."
All my years of therapy 
And yet I still cling
To the guilt I feel when I'm not there. 
It's such a cliché but I find myself thinking,
"I wish I'd been born as a pair."
In some ways it's easier now than it was 
Lucy's used to me coming and going. 
She's older, has friends, even tells me 
"Get out Mom!" but each time it's hard for me 
Knowing
That I'll miss some of what she was feeling that day
And I'll miss hanging out with her too.
Time moves so fast (oy, another cliché!)
And there's only so much I can do.
I run my own business.
I'm both artist and boss,
But pretend I'm a mom who stays home.
Then I'm gone on the weekends
Or when we're together
Spend less time with her than my phone.
So I accept from a colleague
A derisive laugh when I say,
"Sorry, I can't make it then." 
Because I'm picking her up,
There's a potluck, class play 
Or perhaps there's just no school... again.
And I get to spend time with her 
We read on the couch
Her body all snuggled with mine.
I breathe her in deeply 
So I won't forget 
Just how good that feels 
Every time.
(Then I notice that I have a pile of new messages and texts and I haven't made dinner or taken 
the dog out. When did it get to be 6:30 p.m.? When did she turn 8 years old?)
So I stay up too late
Doing work, sending email
I'm addicted to "just one more thing..."
I haven't yet found 
A different way, a better way 
Or just a way
To fit everything in
I spent all that time getting ready for birth 
And I think of my good friend, who said,
"Remember Laurie, this is just the curtain rising, 
The real show is what lies ahead."
Ok, so there's no rehearsal for life 
(But I'd hoped as a parent things that I've learned would help)
And they certainly sometimes do.
Yet often I catch myself being the child, 
'Cause I still want to be mothered too.
This song is so true to the core. It captures the perpetual struggle so perfectly. "Yet often I catch myself being the child, 'cause I still want to be mothered too." I feel that way ALL THE TIME. It's unbelievable to be almost 40 years old and still cry for my mommy when life gets too hard. And my mom never even nurtured me at all anyway. 

Reading through all the comments on Laurie's article, I see that most people had kind, uplifting words to say about how much her words touched them. Then, of course, there are those other ugly comments people make that show their shortsightedness. 

 Comments Against Working Moms:
Fact: If you work, you are NOT a full-time parent, and someone else is raising your children. - AngelGreb
Retort: Regardless of whether or not you work, you can only be a part time parent if you put in part time effort. A full time parent doesn't have to be with their children 24/7 - being a full time parent is a state of mind; anyone who puts in full time effort achieves full time status.  
I firmly believe that for a mother to choose to work during those pre-school years is selfish. Staying home is a huge sacrifice for many women. It's way harder than working and I've done both. 

Dragging a child out of a warm bed on a cold morning and throwing them in a day care with underpaid workers and a room full of other sick or miserable children, must be awful. I hear mothers talk about how their children love day care. Bull. What kid would love to be yanked out of bed and put in what amounted to a dog kennel every day?

But some women have no choice either. But there's no way any woman can convince me that a child is better off in day care or with strangers than home with his or her own mother. If a day care is better for a child than the child's home and mother, what does that say about the home and mother? - A Little Birdy
 RetortYeah, kinda makes me sad that I had a part-time dad growing up, being that he worked and all. Now that I think about it, I'm a part-time pet owner, a part-time parent, a part-time spouse, a part-time daughter (only see my own parents twice a year). Gotta love those part-time relationships. Snark off. 
Best Retort: Your comments are rude, close minded, and judgmental. What good comes out of pointing fingers at people and saying that the way they live their lives isn't as good as the way you live yours? Why don't you shed a little light on a few things for us. Do you have a college degree? Do you have any skills? What type of salary & benefits did you take away from your family so that you could stay home? Have you taught your daughters that they better not even dream of being anything besides a mother and homemaker? If every single mom stayed home, then who do you think would be the teachers teaching your kids? Who would be the nurses, doctors, scientists taking care of their health? Who would create the music we listen to? Are you suggesting that only MEN do all these things? Oh that's right, we are all just supposed to magically re-enter the work force when our children enter Kindergarten. This advice is coming from someone who clearly has not had a career and clearly hasn't been negatively impacted by the downturn in our economy. I have been a stay at home mom, part time working mom, full time working mom and I believe that we all do the best that we can, not only for our children, but for our future, or community, and ourselves! Let's try to support each other in these forums, not tear each other down!
I really despise when people say that using childcare is 'letting someone else raise your child'. I've even heard my own brother-in-law say those exact words. I scoff. Is it that unthinkable to trust someone to care for your child during the day in your absence? I certainly don't consider my trusted childcare provider as a dog kennel for my son. Even when our family goes out of town for the weekend, the place where we send our dog is a 'doggie camp' where they play with other dogs and get lots of attention! (A lot more attention than when we're even at home.) That's what childcare providers are paid for and most of them LOVE children and WANT to shower them with love. At least in the world I live in; I can't speak for everyone's neck of the woods.  

I don't believe that a mom staying home with their kids is always advantageous. I've tried it. I'm not the best mom when I'm taxed out like that. I stayed home for a year with my third child and juggling my other two was not easy. The baby was easy; it was the busy preschooler and kindergartner that exhausted me. Kids in their early years are learning and growing and seeking and you have to be able to provide them with learning experiences as well as social activities. You're not doing them any service by being their sole playmate and care provider. 

I want my kids to be secure in the love of our family but also resilient, smart, capable and social. I want to show them what it looks like to be a working mom who is also present and nurturing with them. But ultimately, they are on their own life's journey and need to connect with the world outside our home and have trusting relationships with other people. 

Happily, after trying out various work scenarios these past seven years of raising kids, I am finally in a comfortable work situation where I feel I can have the flexibility I need to be there for my kids, home and my career. It's such a relief. If the job ever tipped too far on the other side of the scale where it was taking away from my family, I think at this stage of my life, I would just quit. Or at least I like to daydream that I would. But I like having the feeling that I have options, even if I may not in truth. 

I've read that it's better for working moms to stay at home with their kids when they are middle school age because they need you more and can get into more trouble. What do you think?


Create Christmas Memories with Laurie Berkner

Hooray!! Laurie Berkner has just released a new Christmas CD!! A Laurie Berkner Christmas is filled with classic hits and new festive songs to get your family in the spirit of the season!

1. Jingle Bells
2. Santa's Coming To My House Tonight
3. Little Drummer Boy
4. I Saw Three Ships
5. Candy Cane Jane
6. Do You Hear What I Hear?
7. Children Go Where I Send Thee
8. Silent Night
9. Christmas Lights
10. Christmas Is Coming
11. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
12. Jolly Old St. Nicholas
13. Frosty The Snowman
14. White Christmas
15. We Wish You A Merry Christmas

We've been listening to the album since before Halloween and now we're gearing up to go into the holiday season full speed ahead, so it will be playing regularly. Laurie's voice is so beautiful and melodic. We absolutely love the song "Candy Cane Jane"; it's so playful and fun. "Silent Night" is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs and Laurie Berkner's version truly 'tender and mild'.

Listening to Christmas music as a family during the holidays fills our hearts with love and joy and helps create the lasting memories that we hope will endure. A Laurie Berkner Christmas is one of those CDs that will become a favorite in our holiday collection.

Also look for Laurie Berkner's new ebook Candy Cane Jane, available on the Nook or iPad.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review, but given the CD to facilitate it. My opinions are all mine.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Guest Post: "Perpetually Perturbed"

I often have quality vent sessions with one of my dear friends on my way to work in the mornings. She is adjusting to life with one year old twins and a demanding career. After one of our conversations recently, I insisted that she write to me with her work-life balance struggles. Of course she complained that she had no free time to write a quality post (she's a bit of a perfectionist), but I wouldn't relent. 

I'm so glad she did! I can relate with almost everything she said and have felt that inner struggle as a working mom. I hope you can relate and provide support for her too. Leave a nice comment for her if you are so inclined.

Guest Post: "Perpetually Perturbed"


Resentment and guilt, it looms in every feeling, thought, and decision I make daily. I guess this is what comes with being a working mom and wife. No person or thing is immune to being a target of my resentment, not even myself. Here is a little laundry list of my resentment targets, hopefully by getting them out there others will know they are not alone:
  1. Myself. I always promised myself I would never be a working mom. I resented my mom for working, not being a room mother, not dropping me off at school, in my eyes she simply didn't seem to care like the other moms who were there for their kids. 
  2. My husband. I will admit it, one of the attractive things about my husband was the promise of his high powered career. The fact that some day he would make partner and I would get to be there for our future family and home. Instead we still need my income and in order for me to handle my career I need more help from him and he has taken a lighter lower paying job to allow for that. It is frustrating. You try to not want what others have, but sometimes it is just so hard to tame the thoughts.
  3. My job. I feel like they talk the talk, but they don't walk the walk. Work life balance, it is like the thing companies like to say but rarely do. Here is a great example, many nights I come home, see my kids for an hour or two (if I am lucky) and then I do more work before bed. I even worked a weekend day recently and when I asked to have another day off they told me to fill out a vacation form. How do you expect people with stay at home wives, housekeepers, and nannies to really understand and respect what work life balance means. I certainly don't as I live it everyday.
Does being a working mom really mean not being good at any one thing? Just being mediocre and getting by? That is how I feel now, there is no time, and I am just trying to keep my head above water. Being any kind of mom is difficult, but the daily battle of resentment and guilt that comes with being a working mom is much more difficult than I could have ever imagined. 

All this said, I wouldn't trade a thing for my kids. At the end of my day which often gets dark, they are my light; when I see their smiles, I melt. I see both my husband and myself in them and it is amazing, it is us together. And they don't care that I look a wreck, have gotten fat or just put my hair in a pony tail. They are awesome.

What's Your iPhone Worth

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Work-Life Balance Tips From a SITS Girl

SITSGirls.com recently posted a list of work/life balance tips for working moms. The article was geared for professional writers/bloggers, but they could benefit any working chick.

Some of the things I'm already proficient at:
  • Scheduling
  • Making To-Do Lists
Things I need to work on:
  • Learning to Say No
  • Winning the Lottery and Hiring a Staff of 20
As usual, I'm struggling with balance lately and am feeling those familiar pangs of discontent. I am happy to be employed with a stable job, but I have so many interests and activities I want to pursue. Not to mention trying to stay healthy and eat right. It's hard to do all the things I need and want to do every day. 

When I start feeling stressed like this, I start picking apart every aspect of my life and wanting to overhaul it. I daydream about quitting, moving far away, ultimate freedom. What's sobering to me is the reality that none of these daydreams are possible anytime soon. I'm stuck in a working rut. 

In happier news, I just bought a little stationary bicycle peddle machine that I can use at work to help me exercise while at my desk. Genius! You can exercise your legs or arms with it apparently. All this for only $30! I'm starting my new routine tomorrow and expect to lose 5 pounds by Thanksgiving. (It might work as long as I don't eat my kids' Halloween candy.) I'm sure it won't look funny at all when people walk by my office. Or when I start wearing a sweat band to work.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Awaken Your Baby's Senses and Love of Music

Vered's Good Morning My Love Children's CD is a Gem

Vered's new CD has earned her a 2012 Parents' Choice Gold Award and many accolades;
including Laurie Berkner's top album picks of the year in USA Today.

I had the pleasure of previewing a new children's music CD that made me smile from the moment I pressed play. It was irresistibly sweet and nurturing for infants to school-aged children and for even big kids like me - Good Morning My Love by Vered. Immediately I found it to be cheerful, happy, joyful and nurturing all at the same time.

The first song, "Good Morning My Love", would definitely be great for playing first thing in the morning every single day because it would put our hearts in the right place to start our days with school for the chickadees and work for me.

What I find fascinating about Vered is that she creates her music based on music therapy, infant psychology and attachment parenting philosophies. In plain terms, when you spend quality time interacting with your baby and/or small child while playing great music, it helps foster a strong bond, increased trust and love for you both.

I've experienced this phenomenon with my own three children as I've played nurturing music for them since they were born. Playing music like this also helps me relax and unwind from the stress of work and parenting too, not to mention healing that perpetually lonely inner child in me that still misses her own mommy. It allows me to visualize myself being an infant again, being nurtured and cherished which makes mothering so much more enjoyable.
"Good Morning My Love is a baby CD for parents. It's for parents who want to enjoy their babies more. A perfect example would be when mom has been home all day with her baby, she feels a combination of boredom and guilt because she just doesn't want to deal with the baby anymore, and has one more hour to go. This CD can help her through that hour. It reminds her to stop and appreciate the moment, empathizes with her wanting to throw in the towel and gives her songs that she'll relate to as an adult but that are also baby friendly to engage her baby, bring smiles to both of them, and make the time fly by." - Vered
Honestly, I loved every song on her CD. I can't wait to play it for my l'il peeps in the morning; I know they are going to love it as much as I do. I will attempt to capture their initial expressions on camera when I blast it at 6:15 tomorrow morning - a nice alternative to playing Taps, don't you think?

Some interesting tidbits about Good Morning My Love:
  • The songs are ordered somewhat chronologically by a baby's development 
  • They are geared to both novice and experienced parents
  •  Playtime songs "Flying Hands," "Bikeride," and "Faces" incorporates body movement as well as facial and hand gestures. Suggested gestures for the songs can be found at www.veredmusic.com.
  • One or more of these songs might make you cry a little.
 The song "One Day" really got me choked up. The chorus made me so nostalgic for when I first held my first born daughter.
"Those where the first days of our lives. Those were some good days of our lives."
"Don't Leave Me" even pulled at my heart strings. This is the stage I'm at with my l'il Chicken Hawk; his struggle for independence yet a strong desire to have me close by.
"Mama leave me alone. But don't leave me."
I can't say enough good things about Vered's Good Morning My Love CD. It is such a unique mix of fun playfulness and soothing sentiment accompanied with her beautiful, melodic voice and brilliant instrumentation. I encourage you to listen to some samples from the CD to hear for yourself.

Tracks:
Good Morning My Love, Hands in My Mouth, Faces, Jump, Bikeride, One Day, Sunday, Flying Hands, When You Smile, Ah Ah, Don't Leave Me, New Words, Sunshine, At 63, Swinging, Bathtime, Dolly, Sleep.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Just Say No for Red Ribbon Week

Barb says NO to coffee and YES to veggie juice!
Tomorrow is the first day of Red Ribbon Week where students across the nation Say No to Drugs. You know, drug abuse is life abuse.

Barb and I are banding together against alcohol, caffeine and (maybe) carbs for the week and I will be on a new juicing kick. I won't say diet because I don't necessarily believe in them. My friend just started a detox/raw foods diet, the first diet of her life, and at first I was skeptical but now I'm becoming swayed. I'm getting irritated with my increasing midline and lack of energy.

My first attempt at raw foods juices are what's called 'green lemonade' and 'vegetable chocolate milk'. (If you want me to email you the recipe, leave me a comment below.) They don't taste too bad, but they're definitely different from my typical Jimmy Dean sausage egg and cheese muffin I usually have for breakfast. My first impression of this diet is that it requires a lot of vegetables for just a little bit of juice and  it requires substantial effort too. Shopping, peeling, washing, pushing and then more cleaning of the juicer. But it's easier than real cooking, which I don't usually cook with a lot of ingredients or steps. I think I will be more efficient when I get the hang of it.

But as I was saying about Red Ribbon Week, my chickadees are geared up to say no to drugs, which is good. But I don't know how I feel about even educating them about drugs at this stage of their lives. I feel like once they know what drugs are, they're going to want to try them. Kind of like how some religious extremists view sex education.

But oh well... what can you do? You gotta go with the flow. Fight the battles you can fight. I try to teach the girls about not putting unhealthy things in our bodies. I keep it general so that it covers drugs, but I don't want to talk about specific drugs and which ones I may or may not have tried. Which for the record I haven't tried hard drugs. But alcohol is technically a drug and I've had plenty of that. And some say love is a drug, and I was totally addicted back in the day.

Speaking of drugs, I totally saw a small mouse running into my house this afternoon and I panicked! I know I wasn't hallucinating, but my family members think I was. Now I'm totally creepy crawlied out. Everything that moves in the corner of my eye has me in a state of terror. We never did find it, but I assure you, it was speedy and agile! I swear I just had a nightmare last week about little mice infesting my house and I was trying to kill them with my iron skillet, but nothing was fazing them. Sorta like the arcade game Whacka Mole. Lord help me not have any more nightmares like that tonight!

Enjoy your Red Ribbon Week!

Update 10/30/12: I was pretty good about juicing all last week, but I wasn't able to abstain completely from coffee, carbs and coffee. At one point I realized how silly my idea was to begin with and decided to embrace my small vices. I'm replacing coffee with green tea most days though to cut down on calories.