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Busy Moms Look Good

20 Apr
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Be Prepared for Anything

17 Apr

Materials for April 16-20: Car Organization

14 Apr

Does your car feel like this?

Do you want it to feel like this?

Get it organized this week with us. Here are the materials you’ll need this week.

Monday

  • Empty bathroom or kitchen wipes container
  • Several plastic grocery sacks

Tuesday

  • Plastic pencil box
  • Small jewelry bags
  • Small stapler/staples
  • Pen and mechanical pencil
  • Paper clips
  • Blank note cards
  • A few stamps
  • Scotch tape
  • Small scissors

Wednesday

(Select age appropriate toys for your kids)

  • Hanging travel cosmetic bag
  • Small toys
  • Crayons
  • Plastic travel soap box
  • Small puzzle
  • Playing cards
  • Small note pad
  • Stickers
  • Small simple games
  • Colored ball point pens or pencils

Thursday

  • Large garbage bag
  • Rain poncho
  • Small umbrella
  • Jumper cables
  • Snack foods
  • Bottles of water

Friday

  • Travel-size deodorant
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Lipstick and or lip balm
  • Travel band aids
  • Travel
  • Small cosmetic bag
  • Travel-size headache medicine

Are You Missing Someone?

10 Nov

How do you answer this question?

Who are you?

Was mom, wife, employee, laundress, maid, doctor, or master planner one of the first things that came to mind? What would you have said to this question before you had children? It’s time to find out who you’ve become.

My first answers would be mom and wife. I am proud to be mom and proud of the job that I have done raising my kids. I am also proud to be a wife and partner in my marriage. But for a while there, I, like most moms, forgot that there is more to me and didn’t take the time to explore and grow the things I delight in. Getting started only seems more difficult than it really is.

  • Start by eating and sleeping well. The laundry can wait.
  • Take a walk or exercise once a day.
  • Find time to relax. You can start with small amounts of time or hire a baby sitter. The dishes can wait.
  • Accept compliments. Just say thank you instead of putting down or minimizing what you do well.
  • Take a class that interests you. Check your library, recreation center or junior college for classes. Your spouse can get the kids to bed.
  • Get a little job that interests you, even if it only covers the babysitter costs. Adult interaction is good for moms.

Finding who you’ve become doesn’t happen over night and it isn’t easy. Ask a friend to help you along your journey and support you in your new discovery. Define yourself.

Recommended Reading:

What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins

Who’s Really Driving Your Train?

9 Nov

Have you ever been railroaded? You know, pushed into doing something that you really don’t want to do or agreeing on something you really haven’t had time to think about. It happens to everyone, but how you put an end to it depends upon you.

During a very busy stage of my life I saw a quote that said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person” and at the time I thought, “How true.” I had three kids, volunteered at multiple places in the community, at church and my kids’ schools. It made me feel needed and important and I said, “Yes” to everyone who needed a helping hand.

But, at some point, I began to take a look at what I was being asked to do and how it affected my life. Friends were asking me to pick up the pieces of their projects when they dropped the ball, I’d jump into something with little notice because my friend needed help, I’d volunteer to work for an event that turned out to be completely different than what was presented to me. I did them all because I didn’t want to let my friends down and it’s important to me to finish what I started.

Fortunately, this time of reflection opened my eyes to see that I was being railroaded by people who really weren’t my friends. They knew if they presented something in a certain way or in a time of desperation, that I would agree to help them no matter how busy I was.

After learning this big life lesson, I’ve learned to not get railroaded any more. Now, when people ask for my time, I’m happy to help if…

  1. It doesn’t interfere with my family
  2. I have time to think it over
  3. I respect the person who is asking
  4. It’s a project I believe in
More importantly, I’ve become proactive about how I give my time. I’ve learned to ask people how I can help before they ask me, take on only what I can manage, and say, “No” when it’s not a fit for me. I’m still as busy as ever, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming any more and I have plenty of time for my family.
If you’re not driving your train right now, it’s time to find out who is and make sure that you aren’t getting railroaded.

What Shape is Your Circle of Friends?

2 Nov

Some women have a circle of friends that they’ve known forever, but my circle looks more like a dot-to-dot with lines zigzagging across the page, reflecting the stages of my life.

I have always found it difficult to have a large circle of friends like I see portrayed in movies. You know the ones, the groups of five or six women who sit around, drinking wine, talking about everything, knowing each other for years. Now that I’m older, and a bit wiser, I know why that’s never worked for me; I’m a mom, I move a lot, my life is constantly evolving and I have a variety of interests. It is because of these things that I am grateful for my not so circular circle of friends.

Friendships come in all different shapes, sizes, interests and ages. Some women that I am honored enough to have as friends are 10-30 years older than I am. They are wise and caring and have helped me develop into a strong mother as they encourage me with every new stage of child rearing and they continually strengthen me as a woman. Other friends are mothers with children of all different ages. We support each other with words of encouragement and celebrate milestones no matter how big or small. I have work friends with whom I discuss new business plans over endless cups of coffee. And there are women who have entirely different philosophies about life that I enjoy as friends because there is so much to learn from conversation and friendly debates. I even have friends who are men. They are terrific advisors and excellent in providing a different perspective to my life.

But not all friendships are perfect. Some friendships that seem so strong wither and fade away leaving us with broken hearts but fond memories. Other friendships can be incredibly toxic and are best removed from our life. But, even these friendships can make you strong.

My mother-in-law always says, “If you have one friend from every stage of your life, you’ve had a good life.” So, the next time you feel that your circle of friends is more like a dot-to-dot, remember that each of the friendships that criss-crossed the chapters of your life, have made you the woman and mother you are today.

A Real Mom’s Journey

19 Oct

I am so honored to have my friend, Nola Agha, as our guest blogger today.  Last year, she was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. She had just moved across the country, had two small children, had just started a new job, and her husband had started a new job when she was diagnosed.

Until Nola was diagnosed, I had never had anyone close to me go through cancer and was completely unaware of how debilitating the treatments are and how important it is to be surrounded with people who can help and support you and your family for even the smallest of tasks. I learned so much about courage and strength through Nola’s posts that she shared with her friends.

I know her story will enlighten you and encourage you to reach out to someone in need.

As a mom, I spend a lot of time (well, most of my time) making breakfast, making lunch, driving to school, doing art, playing games, making dinner, doing baths, reading books, washing clothes, sewing Halloween costumes, and the list goes on and on.  All moms and dads know what kind of energy is needed to make it through a day.

So imagine my shock and surprise last November when a sore breast, then mammogram, then biopsy resulted in a Stage III breast cancer diagnosis.  I spent the first few weeks in shock, horror, and sadness trying to wrap my head around what the future meant: will I die? will I live? will my children have a mother? will my husband be a single father? how do we plan for the future? how do I get better? Once the shock passed I mentally grounded myself in a positive attitude.  I was going to do everything possible to live and I was not going to die.  That was my stance and I never wavered from it.

While the diagnosis was a shock, the treatment can best be described as a marathon.  Weeks and weeks of physically and mentally debilitating treatments left me unable to care for myself or my children.  At one point I was taking 33 different medicines.  And since they left me mentally fuzzy, weak, and mostly incoherent, it took a very well-organized spreadsheet to help my caregivers figure out when I needed to take which medicines.

Although I struggled daily with the physical pain of treatment I also struggled daily with the guilt of a mother.  I couldn’t stand up long enough to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Dinner was out of the question.  Bone pain made it impossible to get down on the floor to play with trains or dolls.  My children, now so accustomed to hearing me say I wasn’t feeling good enough to play, asked me questions like, “Mommy, will you ever be able to play again?”  It broke my heart. My daughter, just 2, didn’t know her ABC’s, couldn’t count to 10, and every day my guilt grew as I realized she was being short-changed in her mental development.

While doctors can now do amazing things to save a person’s life, there is little they can do to help with the daily reality of life with kids.  Some days I would see 2 or 3 different doctors.  None allowed children into their offices (due to the needles, chemicals, and other nastiness) never mind the fact that I needed assistance to get myself to the car, someone to drive me, and there was no way I could have gotten two kids dressed and buckled up.  So every day I had to figure out who was taking care of the kids, who could help, and how to use my waning energy to explain my absence to two crying and sad little kids.  My heart broke every day.

Any debilitating disease challenges you mentally, physically, and emotionally.  While we often focus on someone’s physical status, it’s easy to forget the challenges they face in the rest of their life.  If you know a parent with cancer, or any other major illness, perhaps this gives you a better understanding of what they might be going through and ways that you can help.

Life turned upside down and I endured every possible form of suffering in treating this awful disease.  But ten months later, I am officially cancer-free.  To celebrate my return to health I signed up for a fundraising hike to the top of a local mountain.  In preparation for it, I looked back and tried to quantify all that I had been through.  Here is my list:

1 breast removed (so far)

1 time I fainted

2 times I almost fainted

2 days spent in the hospital post-surgery

3 surgeons – breast, plastic, and ob-gyn

4 cycles of dose dense adrimycin-cytoxan

5 visits to the physical therapist (so far)

5 months of chemo

7 hours spent in surgery

7 positive lymph nodes

8 different creams I tried to heal the radiation burn

9 scars (so far)

12 cycles of taxol

13 visits to the lymphedema specialist

19 lymph nodes removed

27 pills I take daily (26 are vitamins and supplements)

27 visits to radiation

36 visits to the acupuncturist (so far)

63 sticks with a needle (so far)

90 minutes each day I spend taking my homeopathic anti-cancer remedy

127 hospital gowns (so far)

165 people who follow my cancer-update blog

$661,531.06 Cost of my treatment to date

Being alive, having the support of hundreds of friends and family across the globe, and being able to shout my thanksgiving from a mountain top…priceless

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