Martini Time

Martini Time

July 22, 2014

It's Time To Try Something Different

As a mom of two young toddlers, taking them in public often feels daunting. I will almost always opt for quick take-out as opposed to sitting in a restaurant. If I’m given the option to grocery shop alone, I take it. There’s a sitter available during my appointment? Sold.

Don’t get me wrong; I love being with my kids and I’m not trying to pawn them off. It’s just HARD. It’s hard to keep them entertained, occupied, calm, engaged and behaved in a public setting. Not because they’re bad or unruly kids, but because everyone else thinks they are. Correction: I think everyone else thinks they are. Therein lies the problem, you see. It’s not my kids; it’s my own parenting insecurity.
Over the weekend, I brought my four year old to the store with me. Admittedly, it was just before lunch and nap, she just sat through church relatively quietly, and she was not excited about waiting in line with me. So, I let her be-bop around the displays near the line while keeping her within my reach. She would pick something up and put it back nicely. She would tell me to look at the pretty thing she found. She was behaving. But then she started to drift further away.
I called to her to stay close and she gave me that look. You know, the “I’m going to test my limits” look. I stepped closer to her, keeping one toe in line, but couldn’t reach her. I turned to the woman behind me with a smile and asked if I could jump back in line after retrieving my wandering toddler. She rolled her eyes and said, “I suppose!” as she waved me off. I could feel my face turn red as I gasped at her reply so I quickly picked up the testing toddler and continued to hold her while waiting. This, of course, only made matters worse.

In an instant, I stripped my child of her newfound independence. Not because she was misbehaving, but because a stranger made me feel like she was a bother. She started pushing herself away from me, climbing out of my arms like a scared puppy, her whines became louder and she ultimately started to cry. Full blown tantrum mode ensued. Simply because I was concerned with other people’s perception of her behavior.

On our way out, a cashier said to me loudly, “Hey, Mom! That looks like ADHD to me. My kid is 14 so I know it when I see it. You oughta’ get that kid checked out!” I pretended to half listen to her but chose not to engage the label maker she was trying to be. I needed to get my daughter to a quiet place.
We both left the store frazzled for different reasons; but upset just the same. Neither of us spoke during the drive because I was embarrassed and she was angry. When we arrived at our house, I turned to the backseat to see a frowning kid with her arms crossed staring pensively out the window. I told her we should talk about what happened and she erupted into tears saying, “Mommy! I wasn’t even naughty! I could see you! I wasn’t even touching the breaky things! Why did you have to hold me like a baby?! I’M FOUR NOW!”

Once I picked my heart up off the floor, I did my best to explain to her that she wandered too far away and I had to leave the line to pull her closer so she was safe. What I didn’t tell her was the truth: I was embarrassed by the judging eye roll of the woman behind us. But I shouldn't have been.
At that moment, I made a mental promise to myself (and to my kids) to allow them to just be kids in public. I need to allow them a little bit of freedom, within reason, in public so they learn what is and isn’t appropriate behavior. The only problem I had with this promise was I didn’t know how to make it happen. They couldn’t experience the freedom properly if I wasn’t teaching it properly.
Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate enough to discover MomAssembly recently. Co-founded by Jill Spivack and Jen Waldburger, this site has been my go to place for the tough parenting situations that nobody warned me about. With nearly 50 courses available and more being added weekly, they cover topics ranging from birth to five years, all taught by hand selected parenting experts. And for those on the go, MomAssembly is available to view from your tablet or mobile device as well, picking right up where you left off when you change devices.

After my experience at the store, I scoured the site for answers and found a course called “Raising ChildrenThat Other People Like To Be Around” taught by author and blogger Richard Greenberg. He has raised four children with his wife and recently wrote a book by the same name. His parenting theory is to be S.M.A.R.T. in raising your children. Sure, it’s not foolproof, but his theory is relatively simple to follow:
 
You can check out a clip of this lesson below:


If you’d like to see more of Richard’s lessons and others offered on the site, MomAssembly subscriptions are available monthly for $7.99 or you can pay annually for $3.99/month. Either way, you get unlimited access to the entire library of expert video classes.
And because I love my subscription SO much, I've partnered with MomAssembly to give TEN of my readers their first month FREE! There is no drawing or raffle for this – just be one of the first ten to sign up for your subscription HERE to receive your free month! 
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some toddler taming to do!
 


  
 
 
 
I was compensated for this post but all experiences and opinions are true and my very own.

July 1, 2014

Ohhh, this kid...!

May I present to you, my future superstar in all her glory! All lyrics were made up on the spot, she does not take singing or guitar lessons and her very calm scolding at the end was not scripted. This is my 4yo, to a tee!











April 9, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words... and a GIVEAWAY!

If you’ve followed me on Facebook for more than a day or have ever read a single post I’ve put up here, you know I love pictures – taking them, seeing them, sharing them – it really doesn’t matter. YAY PICTURES! You’ve also come to learn that I love and cherish the time spent with my Dad (remember when Grandpa went viral? Well, in his eyes, anyway.). When my Dad comes to visit, my camera goes into overdrive taking pictures of him and the grandkids! In a recent visit, I snapped this keeper:

This picture immediately became the background on my phone and was my Dad’s caller ID picture and remained as such until I discovered Jewelry Keepsakes (thanks to Jessica over at Four Plus An Angel). They specialize in cremation and photo engraved jewelry so it was a perfect way to preserve my new favorite photo.
While browsing through their products, I came across their silver rectangle keychain and HAD to have it. Since my Dad is retired military, this item reminded me of a dog tag so it was quite fitting. When I sent my e-mail with the order information, I wasn’t sure how to crop the photo (or if it needed to be cropped at all) so I sent three different versions of it along with a quote that I wanted engraved on the back of it. It really was THAT simple.
And BOOM. Perfection:



I mean, honestly, how seriously AWESOME is that?! This picture hardly does it justice – it’s shiny with a smooth finish, thick and durable with a strong key ring, zero flaws, and as you can see, the background was eliminated so only the people remain in the engraving. And the quote: The best dads get promoted to Grandpa. Amazing! I LOVE THIS.

And when I love something, I love to share it! So, I’ve partnered with Jewelry Keepsakes to give away a photo engraved item to one of my readers. The winner will be able to choose from the rectangle keychain I got or a heart-shaped pendant:

 You know what’s great about that? Mother’s Day is around the corner and what mama wouldn’t love some new jewelry! You know what else is great about that? Father’s Day isn’t too far behind and what daddy wouldn’t love a new keychain! Even if you don’t win, their prices can’t be beat for the wide selection they offer!
Here’s your chance to win – enter through the rafflecopter below until Friday April 11th. I will announce the winner on Saturday! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 31, 2014

The Day I Met Jacob

Recently, I was in a big box retailer picking up an online order at customer service. After the desk clerk assisted me and called the stock boy, she began talking with two other employees less than two feet away from me. It was hard not to hear them as they gossiped and made fun of other employees. When the stock boy arrived, he came right up to me. He was tall, quite thin, messy hair, mismatched clothes – but poised and professional. He said to me, loudly and nearly scripted, “Ma’am, I am here to serve you! Is this order I’ll be locating yours?” I said it was, to which he replied, “Ok, ma’am, you got it. I’ll be back quick as a lick!” and he did a military style about-face move and headed off to retrieve my order.

I smiled as he walked away, unsure if he was just being silly to get a reaction or if he was being the best he knew how to be. But I smiled because he made me smile, no matter the reason. No sooner did he leave the desk clerk exclaimed “UGHH, that kid is SO retarded!” as her two co-workers nodded and giggled in agreement. Her statement physically knocked me backwards and I noticeably gasped for air. They all turned to me and I could feel my face start to burn red. My mind was racing in the seconds following her statement. I wanted so badly to smack her right across the face but I knew that wouldn’t make her understand my shock.
I managed to say to her, through gritted teeth, “Excuse me, what did you JUST say?” Her two friends quickly scattered. I took a step closer and repeated myself, “What, exactly, did you just say?” She rolled her eyes and stepped back before saying, “Um, I said that kid was retarded. Why, do you know him?”
“No, I don’t know him. Does it matter? You don’t know me. I could be his mother, his sister, his aunt, his friend. Do YOU know him?”
“Well, he works here so –“
“What’s his name? Do you know his name? Do you know anything about him?”
“Well, um.. No.”
“I do and I’ve only been here for ten minutes. His name is Jacob. Do you know how I know that? He has a nametag that says JACOB! What is your name?”
“I’m Carol.”
“Carol, what gives you the right to call Jacob that awful word? You don’t even know his name! How dare you. HOW DARE YOU!”
“Well, I didn’t say it to you! Or about someone you knew!”
“Carol, I need to speak to your manager. IMMEDIATELY.”
Again, I was physically knocked backwards by her ignorance. What Carol didn't know is that she was talking about someone I knew. She didn't know the struggles my daughter had gone through over the last fourteen months. The therapy sessions, the speech classes, the meltdowns, the doctors. She doesn't know.

I began shaking and, more than once, considered a physical altercation. She then pulled back her sweater to reveal her nametag: Carol, Customer Service Manager. I may have blacked out at this point as I said to her, “OHHH YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! You are the manager?! YOU are the one that is supposed to lead that young boy. And YOU are the one using that ugly word in front of a customer? No. Absolutely not. Give me the store manager’s number, district manager – give me the CEO’s information! I don’t care who – just so long as it’s not YOU.”
She quickly started to apologize. “Ma’am I’m extremely sorry. There is no need to make any phone calls. It won’t happen again.”
“You know what, Carol. Jacob is coming back now. I think we’re going to chat with him. And I think you owe him an apology.”
Before she could leave or say no, Jacob arrived with my item, put it right in front of me and saluted as he said, “Ma’am, here it is. Lickety splitty, just like I promised!” and he beamed with pride. “Thank you, Jacob, thank you very much.” His face lit up in that instant. He towered over me but he seemed so small and innocent as he looked down at the floor and muttered, “You know my name… Wooooow.”
I couldn’t help but choke back tears. I wondered if anyone in this wretched store had ever addressed him beyond calling for a stock boy. I turned to Carol who was pale as a ghost and I asked Jacob if he knew her name. He quickly replied, “Yes, yes I do. That is Carol the Manager. She is the boss of allllll of the people” as he waved his arm in a dramatic arc. I asked him another question, but still glared at Carol, “Jacob, is she nice to you?” He didn’t hesitate in his reply, “No, ma’am. She is not a very friendly Carol.” She quickly hung her head and sighed.
I continued, “Carol, Jacob doesn’t think you’re very friendly. What do you think about that?” I could see her face turning red and her eyes swelling with tears; I wasn’t sure if they were tears of remorse or embarrassment but I didn’t care. She softly said, “Jacob, I’m so sorry I haven’t been friendly. I will try harder.” Jacob’s eyes bulged out of his head and a smile that seemed too big for his face radiated the room. Before he could say anything, I said, “Thank you, Carol. Good evening. Jacob, are you ready to help me to my car?” He switched right back into professional mode and said, “Absolutey-tutey-lutely!”
We walked into the parking lot silently. He seemed reflective and proud. When we got to my car, I asked if I could help him lift the item into the backseat but he insisted he do it himself. After, I said, “Whoa, it fits perfectly! Thank you!” He stood at attention again and said, “Liiiike a glove!” I giggled because I knew the movie he was quoting. He noticed and said, “Do you know that’s from a movie?”
“I do! And I even know what movie it is!”
“Ok, ma’am, I’ll give you a hint: JIM CAREY, 1994, NAAAAAME THAT SHOW!”
“Ace Ventura!”
“That was AMAAAAZING…”
“I love that movie Jacob!” And I laughed with him.
“Ma’am, you’re friendly. Can I tell you a secret?”
“Sure, Jacob. What is it?”
“Well, I have high fun, I mean high fut, I mean high fluc. I mean I have Autism. But I can work and learn and stuff! I like to be goofy because it makes people happy. Then they will have a reason to laugh.”
I have no idea how I managed not to sob right there in front of him, but I just said, “You’re awesome, Jacob. You. Are. Awesome. Can I have a high five?”
His eyes got big and wide again and he stretched his arm high above his head. He smirked and said, “Jump! You can do it!” I laughed and tried but came nowhere close. He brought his hand back down to my level and said, “My mom said it’s ok to be different because that makes me special. But sometimes, I like to be normal. Let’s do a normal high five, ma’am.”
So we did. He did his about-face move again and off he went, back into the store. And never looked back.
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You never know who is listening.
You never know the struggle someone else is dealing with.
You never know who just needs someone to talk to.




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For more information on how to support Autism Speaks in your area, please visit: http://liub.autismspeaks.org/how-to-light-it-up-blue 

Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue

February 26, 2014

A Bumpy Road to Motherhood

This week, I am sharing my birth story over at The Day We First Met!
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I was raised a military brat with very little extended family around, so small is all I knew. When my niece and nephew were born I thought, for sure, that was plenty of little ones around me; especially since I could send them home when I was done being the cool Aunt. Then I met my husband. Oy.
As the baby of seven – yes, seven natural births by the same woman – he quickly acquired a growing number of nieces and nephews, as did I in marrying him. The constant flow of children in and out of my house slowly softened my heart enough to want babies of my own.

We tried to get pregnant, nonchalantly, for about eight months. Then I started getting spastic with calendars and temperatures and ovulation kits. But still, nothing. We finally saw a doctor who told us to try a little longer before moving towards fertility treatments. So we kind of gave up. Well, what I mean is, we stopped measuring and counting and worrying and agreed if it is to be, it will be.

And then it was. Just like that. The instant we stopped carrying on, it happened.

Overall, it was an okay pregnancy. I didn’t have morning sickness beyond random nausea but GAWD was I moody. I mean like certifiably, stay out of my way, you better not blink WICKED. I didn’t know it then, but you know what they say about hindsight! I should probably apologize to a lot of people, now that I think about it. Anyway, the worst part about my pregnancy wasn’t the typical symptoms. It was the jokes about how big I was getting and the strangers touching my swollen belly and people asking how many babies I was lugging around. The. WORST.
 
I was due on April 19, 2010 but went in for my weekly exam on the 15th. The Dr. said everything was fine and I didn’t seem to be quite ready. So I went home, like any other day, and went straight to the bathroom because my poor bladder had no room to fill up anymore. Only this time it wasn’t just pee. IT WAS BABY TIME!! We got to the hospital around dinner time, I got hooked up to the monitors and they confirmed I was definitely staying for the long haul.
 
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To read the rest of my story, head on over to The Day We First Met: A Bumpy Road to Motherhood
 
 

January 31, 2014

Are You Ready for Some Football?!

Unless you're living under a rock in America right now, you know that Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching. We are definitely football people in my house but the two teams we follow were ousted so now we're commericial people. Because, really, that is the best part, amirite?! But if I absolutely had to pick a side, I'm going with the Seahawks. What's your pick?

Aside from the commercials, the party food is a very close second when it comes to picking favorites. Whether you're hosting a party or attending one, I have a super simple (and cheap) dip recipe for you to try. Believe it or not, it's actually healthy, too! This delicious stuff is vegetarian and gluten free.


White Bean Dip

Ingredients

3 - 15.5oz cans of white beans (I used Cannellini)
1 - 10oz can of Ro*Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
5 Tbsp Olive Oil
5 Tbsp Water
4 Tbsp Lime Juice
3  tsp Garlic Powder
3  tsp Cilantro
1  tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper

 
 
Directions
 
Drain and rinse the beans.
 
Combine beans with all ingredients (except the Ro*Tel) in a food processor.
 
Blend on low for approximately 1 minute.
 
Stir the contents around a bit and blend again until completely smooth. You should get a hummus type texture.
 
Transfer dip into a serving dish (or tupperware if you're traveling).
 
Smooth it out so the top is flat, then push the middle in with a spoon.
 
Drain the Ro*Tel.
 
Place the Ro*Tel (a little at a time) in the middle of the dip (where you just pushed in) and shape it into a football.
 
For extra flair, place about a Tbsp of the dip into a plastic baggie or piping bag and add the laces onto the tomato shaped football.
 
Serve alongside fresh veggies or gluten free chips.
 
 
TADA! This will be your final product:
 
 
 
Be safe if you're traveling and most of all ENJOY!
 
GO 'HAWKS!

December 12, 2013

STOP Domestic Violence - In Honor of Christine Keith


Something terrible has happened in our blogging community so, today, we are banning together to spread awareness and support the family of one of our own. Christine Keith, aka Adventures of a Thrifty Mama, along with her son, Isaac, were taken from this world far too soon. They were victims of domestic violence - murdered by Christine's estranged ex-husband before he took his own life.
 
Christine left behind three younger children and they NEED our help. We NEED to be their voice. Everyone NEEDS to hear their story. Thankfully, Lea, aka Becoming SuperMommy, has stepped up for Christine, for her children, and for so many voiceless victims of domestic violence. I implore you, if you never read another thing I post on my blog, please read Lea's post below. Read it, absorb it, read it again. If you can't make a donation or send a gift, then share this post. Shout it from the rooftops, if you have to. Be part of the solution. Please help, any way you can.
 
Christine and Isaac - May you both rest peacefully.
 
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Every day in the US, three women are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.

It seems like an improbable number. Like it could never happen to you, to somebody you know.

But it has.

Christine Keith, aka Adventures of a Thrifty Mama
Last week, the blogging community lost one of its own. Chris Keith blogged about healthy living, organic eating, homeschooling... the same thing that so many mommy bloggers do. And she was good at it. She had to be. Chris was supporting four kids on her own, on a subsistence income after separating from her abusive husband.

But one week ago, her estranged husband went to her house, and killed her. He killed her oldest son, Isaac. And then he killed himself. The three youngest children had gone to their grandparents' house for the night- fortunately out of harm's way.

Chris taught Zumba. She gardened. She went on her local news channel to talk about food stamps, and how to eat healthy meals with a minimal budget. She was a good person, and a good mother. And now she's gone.

Now she's one of three women who died at the hands of their husbands or boyfriends that day.

There are things you can do to help her and her children. Her church has taken up a memorial fund- you can donate there to help provide for her children- sons aged 4 and 8, and a six year old daughter.


You can send clothes and toys. They have not been allowed back in their home, a crime scene, and it may be a long time before they are. They have nothing but what they took to Grandma's house the night their mother and brother were taken from them. You can send these gifts here:


Keith Children
Care of Ann Merrifield
1504 Wintercrest
East Lansing, MI 48823


And you can help more than that. You can spread the word that domestic violence, as endemic as it is, should not and must not be tolerated. That there are places those who are suffering can go, that there are resources available to them. That there is help out there.

There's the National Domestic Violence Hotline, where trained expert advocates are available 24/7 to talk confidentially.

There's Safe Horizon, which helps connect victims to shelters.

There's the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, which provides access to information, and opportunities for training and education for those who want to work to end domestic violence, or intervene on behalf of somebody in their life.


Don't remain silent. Don't close your eyes to the suffering all around you. Don't make excuses, or insist it takes two to quarrel. Just listen, offer a hand, and stand strong.

And maybe, if we all shine a light on this issue, into the darkness of abuse, maybe today nobody has to die.








Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue