Wednesday, March 18, 2015

You CAN Save Money As A Stay-At-Home Mom

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Deciding to stay at home as a mom is a huge undertaking, and not one taken lightly. Many are just not able to accomplish it financially, and not everyone wants to, but if you are already a stay-at-home mom or think you might want to be and may possibly be able to swing it financially, consider that there are quite a few ways to save money.
In my career, I have been a full-time worker, part-timer, and freelancer, and I’ve also been a stay-at-home mom, too.
Here are some of my tips to help you save money:

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Strange Eating Habits Of Kids: When Do You Indulge?

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When it comes down to it, every single thing that a parent does is a judgment call, from breastfeeding to braces, and beyond. Typically, when you think a particular action is wrong, you discourage your kids from doing it. But what about all those gray areas?
Eating is perhaps the one area that causes us great concern right from the start. Should I breastfeed? Should I let my kids eat cookies? How many? How often?
My firstborn had a seemingly normal appetite, but a really strange affinity for breadcrumbs and grated cheese. When I would take them out to make a meal, she would stick a spoon in them and eat them plain. It was cute yet weird at the same time. My husband and I joked that she thought she was a bird. Her odd affection for these two plain ingredients did wear off, but for a certain period, she asked for a spoonful of breadcrumbs or a spoonful of grated cheese and I indulged her. No harm done, I figured. She was a good eater otherwise.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Toxic Friends, Mean Girls, and Why We Allow It

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Do you have a toxic friend? If you are a woman, chances are you have had a toxic friend, and surprisingly, you may have kept that friendship for a while. Self Magazine and asked 18,000 readers about their experiences with toxic friends. 84 percent of women said they’d had a toxic friend at some point, and 1 in 3 surveyed said they had a toxic best friend.
The disturbing part is that 83 percent said they had held onto a friendship longer than was healthy simply because it was hard to break up with that friend. Yet a dysfunctional relationship is still dysfunctional, even if it is between two female friends, so why is it so difficult to end the friendship?
“The reason it’s hard to dump a toxic friend is the same reason people stay in all kinds of dysfunctional relationships,” says Dr. Gail Saltz, associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital. “There’s something in it that you find compelling or familiar. Depending on the nature of what’s going on in the relationship, you may feel guilty [about breaking things off]. Or it could be that the person has implied you need them in some way — that you would be a bad person to walk away.”

Monday, December 29, 2014

Searching for Santa Claus

When my oldest daughter Amanda was 3, we were at my brother-in-law’s house one freezing-cold Christmas Eve. My husband has seven siblings and many of them had kids at the time, so the house was filled with Christmas spirit. As they waited for their presents, they ate, played, danced, and asked the big question over and over, “When will Santa come?”
At regular intervals, one of the adults would take all the kids out onto the stoop, and we would stare into the sky looking for Rudolph’s shiny red nose.
“Be quiet,” my daughter said. “I think I hear his bells.”
“I think I see something. Look over there,” another would say pointing to the dark sky.
Amanda swears she heard those bells and listened each year after that for them to ring again or see the lights move along the heavens.
At home, we would track Santa on North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (Norad) website (there is a science to tracking the big guy!), but once we got to the Christmas Eve celebration, we lost track of the Command’s path since my brother-in-law’s computer was not downstairs (and this was before everyone had a smartphone). By the time we got back home, the kids would be exhausted, and if they hadn’t already fallen asleep in the car, they would conk out the minute their heads hit the pillow.

Friday, December 5, 2014

‘He For She’, But Also She For Him

Actress Emma Watson gave a riveting speech on gender and feminism at the United Nations to launch the “He For She” campaign, a movement with the objective to unite one billion men and boys as advocates to help end the inequalities that women and girls face, worldwide. The social media world lit up because her words were so powerful:
“I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men. Unattractive, even. Why is the word such an uncomfortable one? I think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body.”
It’s a vital point. I’m still wholeheartedly surprised at how many young women in 2014 still equate being a feminist with being a man hater, and consequently shy away from identifying with the term, lest they seem unattractive to the opposite sex. Many still don’t see that until we stand up for ourselves and demand that we get equal treatment, we will not receive the same rights. That’s why Watson is enlisting the help of men, because we all need to demand equal treatment internationally, where being female in some countries is equivalent to being property rather than human. It’s not just a female thing; it’s a human thing. What’s been uplifting and promising are the many young male actors who have joined the campaign, proudly proclaiming they too are feminists because being a feminist means standing up for equal rights for women, and a man can do that just as much as a woman can.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Beauty In Everyday

It was perhaps the 10th chore of the day in a long list of things that had to get done: the laundry. It had piled up yet again despite the fact that I had already done three loads that week. High on stress and low on energy, I reluctantly lugged the overflowing basket into the basement, annoyed at having to repeat this task, frustrated because as I was physically placing the clothes into the washer, I was mentally ticking off all the things that still had to be finished in the basement. I was aggravated that it was still in recovery mode.
In the two years since Hurricane Sandy, the basement has undergone a massive shift. Once finished with wooden doors that opened up to the washer and dryer, and dry, unfettered walls, our basement instantly became an indoor ocean when the water from the bay crashed open our back door and flooded into the house.
Little by little, we have attempted to get it back to what it used to be, but we’re still not quite there yet. The cleaning process alone took months, as did the replacement of all that was destroyed — appliances, walls, floors, and electric work. It seemed that just as we fixed one thing, we’d find another hidden area that had to be torn down, repaired, or replaced.
With the washer loaded, I stood under the bright light bulb hanging overhead and flashed back to the day we moved in, just over five years ago. After years of saving up while trying to raise three kids, we finally bought a house. It was a monumental moment for us. We started out as two naïve kids ourselves who had grown up together, married young, and did our best to make a good life. I was positively thrilled when we closed on the house. I recalled going straight from the closing to our new empty home, looking at the rooms, the front porch, the backyard, and letting the realization sink in that it was all ours. I also remembered doing laundry in our washer in the basement the first few days after we moved in, and being delighted doing it, telling my husband how truly awesome it was to do laundry right in our own house, without having to lug it to the laundry room in our old building that rarely had a spare washer available. I also pondered all the days post-Sandy when we’d have to go to the Laundromat (as did nearly everyone in our neighborhood) because our washers and dryers had been destroyed by the salt water.
Things had been more difficult and less comfortable than they are now. There were times we didn’t have a house, barely had an apartment, and then lost much of what we worked so hard to attain. That single thought broke me out of my self-absorbed frustration. Yes, I had and probably, hopefully, will always have a lot to do on any given day. I might not ever love doing laundry. Our basement might take another year to get back to the way we want it.
Through it all, the difficult to the mundane, we are making memories every day, marking our kids’ childhood with either negativity and frustration or peace and fun. And that’s what our kids remember. I want to choose the latter always, but some days are more difficult than others.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Dread Of Back-to-School Season

Quite a few moms breathed a collective sigh of relief since school opened back up again, but I admit I was dreading back-to-school season almost as much as the kids. I completed the immense task of tackling the to do's early: supplies were purchased and the kids’ uniforms arrived. We picked out new backpacks and lunchboxes, so we were okay on that front.

It wasn't the preparation that was bothering me. It was the many things that occur when school opens up again for a new year that I detest: