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It can be really hard as a caregiver to untangle your needs from those of your family. Last week it was really on my heart to speak to all the moms out there who give everything for their family so I wrote an open letter to the self-sacrificing moms out there. Here’s the rest of the letter.

My Needs Are Supposed To Come Last, Right?

I can get really mad if I dwell on it, but if I’m honest, REALLY HONEST with myself I know that the person I’m really angry with is me. I’ve fed myself this bull that what I want will come eventually, when we have more money, when the kids are older, and when it’s finally “MY TURN.” It’s a lie and I know it. It’s not anyone else who puts my needs last; it’s me. I don’t feel worthy. There is a nagging voice that tugs at me whenever I dare to think about wanting something for myself and I listen. I give in.

My husband will just say, well why don’t you just go get whatever it is that you want. I tell him that he doesn’t understand how our finances work. I get his requests to purchase this item or that for himself and unless it’s something totally unreasonable I usually say yes. Why is that? I weigh my kids’ requests and I make informed decisions about if and when they should get something. Yet with myself the answer is always “NO” and I’m the one saying it.

Being a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) really has changed the way I view my worthiness in the grand scheme of things, but most of it is just motherhood that has slowly eroded the me that existed before children. Sometimes I don’t remember who that girl is.

The Quest To Untangle “ME” From “MOMMY”

Now for the truth I’ve been avoiding – I better remember and do it quick because that’s the person my husband fell in love with, and that’s the woman I want to show my kids as an example. If they were to take me as I am now and model it, they would say a mom doesn’t care all that much about herself. Now that I’m about to have my second daughter, I NEVER want my girls thinking that.

I’ve recently started going on “girls’ night” outings with other mom friends of mine. It’s only once a month, but it’s a baby step. It’s a night where I can go have conversations with other women like me who maybe need a reminder too that they are more than someone’s wife and mother. My husband supports me, even if the kids do refuse to go to bed on his watch. It’s worth it for those few hours of remembering the funny, smart, capable person I really am, not just the self-sacrificing mom the world sees.

So self-sacrificing mom, I get you. I am you. It’s my hope that one day you’ll throw caution to the wind and do what you want to do. Take a class, write a book, maybe visit someplace new. If we don’t start serving ourselves first once in awhile, those girls we used to be will forever be lost to the world and that would be an awful shame.

 

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Last night was girl’s night. It was long overdue and a much needed reprieve from motherhood this week. Sometimes, you just need a night off, a chance to miss your family and for them to miss you a little bit. So, we headed over to the Newburgh Waterfront for dinner and a little entertainment. After having margaritas and burgers at Billy Joe’s Ribworks, we headed directly across the street to the Downing Film Center for a movie.

 

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The Downing is a nonprofit movie theater located in a converted warehouse with the goal of bringing art and culture to our community. They feature independent, foreign, and classic cinema. The theater itself is set up like a screening room with comfortable chairs, throw pillows, and curtains to create a laid back atmosphere. There are a variety of snacks to be had from coffee and tea to the typical movie fare of popcorn and Goobers all reasonably priced. It felt more like watching a movie with a bunch of friends in your living room but without the cleanup afterwards.

 

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I purchased our tickets in advance online ($8.50), and it was a good thing I did because when we arrived the sign said sold-out. They recommend you arrive 20 minutes in advance, which we did, but the 60 seat theater was already filled forcing us to sit apart. And I did not score one of the Ikea Poang Chairs I was really looking forward to! Last night’s feature was The Grand Budapest Hotel; I enjoyed the comedic and witty film, but it was really the overall atmosphere that made the evening for me.

 

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The Downing Film Center features one movie at a time and it changes frequently, so check their site to see what they have to offer. It will make for a great date night or girl’s night out!

 

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Don’t forget tonight is Earth Hour. From 8:30-9:30 turn off all your lights to raise awareness for the planet. If the kids are in bed this could be another way to have date night! Have a great weekend

Eggs and pom-poms

Eggs and pom-poms

Hi! My name is Roxanne and I am the “Whatever Mom.” I am a stay at home mom with busy, unstoppable twin preschoolers.  I am excited to share with you this mess free, fun Easter egg activity. Last year I discovered the simple beauty of plastic Easter eggs and fuzzy pom-poms. With Easter right around the corner I’m bringing these back! It usually buys me at least 30 uninterrupted minutes. I can almost hear my own thoughts while finishing the dishes!

First, I picked up some plastic eggs and pom-poms at the dollar store.

Simple items from the dollar store.

Simple items from the dollar store.

Next, I dumped them into a deviled egg tray for easy access and storage. That’s it! Done! The kids can take over from here.

Leave out for easy access for kids.

Leave out for easy access for kids.

You can find an egg tray similar to this one at the dollar store. I just happened to have one on hand.  You can also recycle an egg carton to store the eggs in. Use whatever works for you.

The first things my girls do is sort and match the colors by placing the pom-poms into the matching colored egg.

Color sorting

Color sorting

Next they enjoy using kid sized plastic tweezers to count out the pom-poms and fill the eggs. (This is a great activity for developing fine motor skills).

Use kid friendly tweezers.

Use kid friendly tweezers.

Then they just like to make up their own games through pretend play. They grab handfuls of pom-poms and pile them up and mix them up. Sometimes they pretend to go shopping for eggs and fill up an empty shopping bag.

Allow kids to imagine new ways to play.

Allow kids to imagine new ways to play.

No matter which scenario they choose, we almost always end with – you guessed it- an Easter egg hunt. They like to take turns hiding the eggs and finding them.  Of course I have to help look for the eggs too.

Last year when I first introduced this to my girls they were 28 months old. I was worried they’d eat the pom-poms, so I sat nearby while they played with them. They also enjoyed taking them into the bath tub, dumping the pom-poms into a bowl to mix with a spoon, and just comparing the fuzzy feeling of the pom-poms with the smooth feeling of the eggs.

This year they found a new way to play- pom-pom soccer!

Use a straw to blow a pom pom across the finish line.

Use a straw to blow a pom pom across the finish line.

The first one to blow a pom-pom into an egg using a straw wins. I love that there are so many different ways to play with these simple things many of us already have around the house. If you don’t have pom-poms use cotton balls.

This is super easy, super inexpensive and the fun lasts a long time! My girls usually play with these well passed Easter.

Got a favorite simple (mess free) activity you’d like to share?

 

Why, after seven years of marriage, do I find it incredibly hard to hit on my husband?

My latest line to get him in the sack was, “You’ve got some work to do tonight, baby.”  My gumption was drained as my husband laughed so hard at this feeble attempt at sexiness, that his microbrew almost came out of his nose.  On a separate occasion, I tried a few intriguing dance moves that left me looking like Elaine from Seinfeld and my husband in tears.

I used to have it.  I used to exude sexual confidence.  Now…mmmmmm…not so much.

To be clear, this is all my awkward doing.  My husband would gladly, and with fervor, do the dirty any night (or morning for that matter) of the week.  I’m the one trying to bring my sexy back, and damn it’s tough!  My husband has seen two humans come out of my lady parts, and he has watched my perky breasts turn into milk-making machines. More recently, he has picked me up from the bathroom floor after an all night pukefest when the nastiest stomach bug this side of the Hudson hit our home.  He has dried my tears when the pressures of motherhood have crippled me.

For me, these moments have committed a kind of “sexual robbery,” hijacking my confidence in the bedroom.  Ironically, those same moments have actually made me sexier and more beautiful in his eyes.  Through my husband’s eyes, watching me give birth transformed me into the most powerful superhero.  While breastfeeding, I was a tireless caregiver, on the clock twenty-four hours a day.  Supporting me during times of sickness and hardship allows him to step into the role of caregiver, reminding him of how much work mothers do each day.

Strength, commitment, dedication…these qualities are added to the definition of sexy in a marriage.

But why can’t I see what he sees?

Tonight, I’m going to hug my man, use his gaze as a mirror, and silently sing, “I’m Too Sexy” in my head.

The other day my daughter Hannah looks quizzically at my feet and says, “Mom, why do you have holes in your socks?” “Because I don’t own any that don’t have holes,” I blurt out slightly annoyed. Truthfully I have zero reason to be annoyed with a 6 year-old for having a perfectly legitimate question. In her mind, why would I wear a coat that’s literally falling to pieces, socks with holes, and thrift store maternity clothes?

Though my thoughtful girl often times thanks me for taking good care of her, which does a mother’s heart good, she doesn’t know that I have made it my life’s work to take care of others and put my own needs on the back burner. Sound familiar? If it does, you’re “that mom” too. Everyone’s needs and dare I say wants come first and yours come dead last. So it inspired me to write an open letter to all the women out there like me.

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Dear Self-Sacrificing Mom,

I see you. I see you hiding there behind the camera, while your beautiful kids twirl and ham it up. Smiling at them while you feel like a hot mess, and threatening the very lives of those that would suggest you get in the photo with them. I see you in your thread-bare clothes without a stitch of make-up and your trade-mark pony tail, as you pay the bills, wipe up all manner of sticky spills, and rub the backs of your children while they throw up, as you try not to gag.

I see all the nights you want to cry because getting your little ones to sleep is making you lose all your patience and just when you lose it, your accusing inner voice brings the guilt trip that is always there – “this is your problem, not theirs.” I see you, because I am you.

The Pursuit of “Just For Me”

I rag on my husband for wanting to buy himself fly fishing gear when his last ice fishing purchase has yet to be touched and the last fish we ate was purchased at ShopRite. But the fact of the matter is, it annoys me for entirely different and less easily vocalized reasons. These are selfish purchases in my mind. They aren’t for the kids, the household, or to maintain a vehicle. They are simply “just for me” purchases and I sit and wonder what that must feel like. To simply want, and deserve, and buy what makes you happy. What’s that like?

Staying at home certainly blurs the lines between my needs and my family’s. Are you there with me self-sacrificing mom? Have you forgotten who you are apart from your kids, your husband, and the revolving needs of others that you constantly strive to provide every day?

Know this one thing – you are NOT alone. Click here to read part 2 of this letter.

You made it! After months of preparation, and hours or days of labor, your baby has arrived and you are both resting peacefully in your recovery room. Or perhaps not so peacefully. For most vaginal deliveries, you and baby will be at the hospital for 48 hours after delivery, and for a cesarean you can expect to spend five days. Even though it is “only” a few days, the discomforts of being away from home can sometimes be discouraging. Here are some practical tips to make your stay at the hospital a little bit more comfortable.
newborn hospital

Pack comfortable clothes. And yes, ladies, I mean maternity clothes. Sorry to say, but it takes nine months to add the baby weight to your body. Delivering an 8 pound baby won’t make it all disappear right away. Pack comfortable lounging clothes to wear in the hospital. You’ll feel a lot more comfortable in ‘real’ clothes, rather than a hospital gown that makes you feel like a sick patient. Good options may be loose-fitting yoga pants, or maternity leggings. If you plan on nursing, you may want to bring a couple of nursing bras or tanks for convenience. And don’t forget socks and slippers! The hospital gets chilly, particularly the tile floor. (Note: for your own safety, you should only walk around with non skid slippers, or slipper socks. The floors are not only cold, but very slippery if you are only wearing socks).

Bring your own pillow. Hospital beds aren’t known for their comfort, pillows included. Have your partner or another family member bring your favorite pillow from home. This will help you get better sleep (when you can), and make your temporary stay feel more like home.

Allow visitors, or not. Depending on your own personality and how you are feeling, you may or may not be up for visitors at the hospital. Personally, I was feeling pretty isolated and lonely with no one around and wished I had more visitors! Whatever your desires are, make them known to your immediate family to prevent impromptu visits if you feel like just spending some alone time.

Pack snacks. If you thought you were hungry when you were pregnant, be prepared for something altogether new as you start producing breast milk. The first six weeks postpartum my appetite was insatiable. Many local hospitals are pretty good about feeding their pregnant and newly delivered mommies well, but it doesn’t hurt to pack some healthy non perishable snacks from home. Also, no one knows your taste better than you.

Bring your own toiletries. There’s nothing like being able to take a shower or bath in your own home, but brining your own supplies from home is the next best thing. Pack your favorite shampoo and conditioner, body soap, toothpaste, deodorant, and even lotions if you like. Although the hospital will have generic items on hand if you forget, having your own may make you feel better physically and mentally.

Take care of yourself ‘down there.’ If you’ve had a vaginal delivery, odds are you are going to be sore or swollen in your perineal area. This is even more true if you’ve had an episiotomy or tearing of any kind. The hospital and nurses will provide you with large sanitary napkins and disposable undergarments for the duration of your stay. If you want to bring your own underwear from home, I would definitely recommend bringing the granny panties that you wouldn’t mind getting stained and thrown out. You’ll also be given a peri bottle that you can fill with warm water to rinse your vulva with during urination. Use this, and bring it home with you. It will feel like heaven. If you do have any stitches, make sure you know how to take care of yourself once you get home, and know any signs of infection.

Do keep in mind, also, that you have the right to check out of the hospital early if you feel that you and baby are well enough to be home without the monitoring of the medical staff. That is a decision only you and your family can make with your doctor. 

Happy birthing!

I am so excited about spring break this year and the fact that it will actually (hopefully) feel like spring by then.   If your family is planning a staycation like we are,  here are 10 local activities to keep your kids busy…

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1.  The parks are open! We haven’t been to a park since a blustery day sometime in November.  Get your friends together and meet up for a play date at the park.  We really love Sally’s Dream at Orange County Park.

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2. The Outdoor Discovery Center in Cornwall will open mid April.   Enjoy a family friendly hike and play time at Grasshopper Grove!

3. Have to work?  The Hudson Highlands Nature Museum will be providing day camp where kids will be hiking, crafting, and playing.

4. The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum will be open and will have special spring break events (TBA) all week.

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5. Last spring I took my girls, ages 1 & 4 for a hike and picnic at Croton Gorge Park, and they loved it.  You can read about our experience here.

6. The Bear Mountain Zoo is open and all the animals should be waking from their long winter’s nap.

7. In addition to a trip to the museum, Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center will be hosting an Arts Exploration Workshop for kids k-6 grade, Monday through Friday, 9-4.  The cost is $150 for the week, but they are offering needs based scholarships as well as a sliding fee scale and possibly transportation for those in need.

8.  Want to spend a few nights away with the kids but don’t want to travel far?  Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland is a family friendly adventure, and they have midweek and spring break packages available.

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9. Grab your bikes and your strollers and hop on one of the Hudson Valley’s rail trails.

10. Walkway Over the Hudson– Spring is the perfect time to embark on this adventure.  It’s not too hot or too cold, and the kids will love being up so high and the fact that it used to be a train track really impressed my kids.

Bonus: At the risk of sounding annoying and repetitive,  I will say it one more time: don’t forget your local library.  Borrow books and movies, play in their children’s section, or pick up free passes to area attractions.  Most have special events going on during the break as well.

If you have any tips on area attractions for spring break, please let us know!  Happy Spring!

 

This week, I’d like to draw attention to the subject of “Inclusive Community,” as I find it to be a term excluded from most parents’ vocabulary. For some, it is a vague term that really could mean anything from forming a healthy social life to peer influences in their education plan.  For our family, we are looking for ways for our daughter Sara with special needs to get out in her community, enjoy herself, and when possible teach people about our family and the supports we have in place for her.

Sara was four when she contracted encephalitis. This is an extremely dangerous illness and we were lucky when she was only left with a hard to control seizure disorder, complicated health issues, and intellectual disabilities as residual effects of the disease. I was fortunate to have some great doctors that always shared their thoughts with me and helped change the way I look at epilepsy. One of our first neurologists said,” Lisa don’t ever let epilepsy slow Sara down. The medicine needs to catch up with her. Do not slow Sara down to match the medicines let the medicine catch up with her, not vice versa. I cure patients of epilepsy every year. It doesn’t do them any good if they can’t jump on a bus by themselves and get across town”.

This advice reverberated with me and set me on a steady course in pursuit of a healthy productive life for Sara. My advice to parents with children with special needs is that if there is something your children should be doing, find a way to do it safely with supports rather than giving up and saying it is too difficult to achieve.

Food for thought: with the advancement of technology and scientific inquiry regarding brain injury, there could soon be a break through idea that could drastically improve the lives and cognitive function of people hindered by epilepsy. It might be a surgery, device, diet, or drug. Ask yourself: Are you ready for it? Has your child fully experienced what they could in their community? Have you avoided things you think are too hard? What if they didn’t have seizures, would you have tried them?  Stretch yourself; try something difficult.

One of Sara’s favorite activities in the community is attending the local high school play. Sara enjoyed the musical this year, even though it was a long production—the run time was almost three hours. It took a lot of patience and risk-taking over the years to do an event this long—we used to limit Sara’s activities to shorter events as exhaustion sometimes increases the change of a seizure— but we got there, and we really find being out in our town very fulfilling. The kids in “Bye Bye, Birdie” were awesome, and Sara can’t wait to go see the next production. If you are a special needs family, find some activities in your community; you will be glad you helped make our community more inclusive.  Lisa Bock

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There is no doubt about one fact in my household. I am the savvy shopper. Take for instance this weekend. My daughter has been wanting more dresses because she stubbornly refuses to dress for the weather and wants to be her normal girly girl self. So I told my husband I was headed out to Once Upon A Child in Wappingers Falls. Of course while he was at Wal-Mart he couldn’t resist shopping for his little princess. The price of 3 dresses (some of which were on clearance) at Wal-Mart – $30. The price I paid for a dress, pair of dress shoes, video for my son, cheater swaddler and a ton of baby clothes for the new little girl we’ll be welcoming in July – $36.50.

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I’ve been excited to head out to Once Upon A Child for awhile now as the only children’s consignment shops in my area are pretty small. Here’s how it compares.

1. Better Organized Than Some Consignment Shops – They are better organized compared to some local shops, yet still require a little digging for sizes especially when it comes to the bins of shoes. You do get a similar vibe to being in a regular retail store with fairly organized racks, BUT at Once Upon A Child (as with other consignment shops) it’s up to you to double check sizes and check for stains and rips.

2. The Price Is Right – The prices are really great and range anywhere from $1.50 (at least in the baby aisle) to $10. BONUS: I signed up for their e-mails on their website and got a $5 off a $30 purchase coupon e-mailed to me, saving me even more money.

3. Brand Oriented – I personally am not one to ooh and ahh over particular brands or stores so I don’t usually use that as a considering factor, but I know a lot of shoppers like certain brands for their durability, fit, etc. for their kids. If you’re willing to view shopping as more of a treasure hunt, you can find a lot of great brands here. I got an outfit for my baby with the Babies ‘R Us tag still on it.

4. Clothes in Excellent Condition – A lot of the clothes and equipment looked brand new. With the exception of a pair of pants I picked out for my son that had a grass stain on them (which I noticed at checkout and put back), everything else I picked out was darn near sparkling.

The one drawback to this place over my local consignment shop was that they were unwilling to negotiate on price, even when the article is damaged. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve had luck negotiating prices with other consignment stores especially if there is minor damage. I recently got about 17 maternity items (roughly half a bag’s worth) for $25 at my local children’s consignment shop, negotiated down from her asking price of $40 for the full bag or $5 a piece. I love being able to negotiate.

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My son Jayden, giving me his best mug for the camera.
My little guy was forced to look at dresses with mom and big sister Hannah.
Luckily my neighbor Allison joined me with her two kids so we were
able to browse in shifts while watching the kids.

5. Selling Was A Breeze – What I liked was being able to just drop off my items at the desk after filling out a short form with my info on it and then find out what their offer was when I was ready to checkout. Some consignment shops do store credit or consignment only, which means you only get paid when they sell the item, which could be months down the line or not at all. Once Upon A Child does straight buys and pays you on the spot or takes the offer amount off your bill. They don’t take everything and may be a little pickier than some places, but that’s why their things are in great shape.

Now you probably understand why I almost never shop retail for my kids clothes. Even paying clearance prices at most retailers is more expensive than shopping second-hand.  If you’re strictly a retail shopper, Once Upon A Child offers a perfect transition from retail into the world of second-hand. What are your favorite local consignment shops?

So, when does the panic set in? Let me go back a few years to try and figure things out…
When Luke and Shane were ages 4 & 2, their relationship had so much potential. A year later, they could have the best time just being around each other. In fact, they would have such a great time that I would literally see the awe in people’s faces when we were out as to hear them thinking “why can’t my kids be like that”? It truly was something special.

By the time they turned 7 and 5, the time spent together started to decline. Shane would want to play sports or be around his friends from school, while Luke was content with playing with his action figures and dressing up in superhero costumes. You could almost see Shane outgrowing Luke, both physically and mentally. I remember a time where we attended a local carnival and Shane completely flat left Luke to go hang with his friends. On the ride home, I ripped into Shane as if he did something so wrong, when he was just being a normal 6 year old. That’s when your emotions just go out of whack. Was I upset at Shane for not including his brother? Was I mad at myself for not doing more for Luke? Or mad at a higher power because I do not understand any of this? We’ve come so far when it comes to technology, yet nobody is able to tell us a reason for Luke’s condition.

Things are much different now with Cole in the mix, yet still the same. Luke and Cole spend most of their time playing with action figures and dressing up as superheroes. Shane pretty much does his own thing or has me to pal around with, while Luke & Cole are almost inseparable. Luke is 10 and Cole is 4. To say I am dreading the day Cole outgrows Luke is a major understatement and will be a VERY, VERY sad day in our house.

I guess you can look at this like an old movie. Rocky maybe. A movie that I’ve seen before and I know how it’s going to end. In the spirit of the NCAA Tournament starting soon, I’m trying to look at it on that level where we could have a fairy tale ending and David always has the chance to beat Goliath.

So when does the panic set in? The answer is never. Concern yes, situations will arise and we can stick and move. Take a few punches, even get knocked down, but keep getting back up. Never panic. Luke will sense my panic, but my concern has a chance of getting through to him. All we really ask for is a chance.

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