Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Attacking windmills...

It is hard being a parent. 

No matter what the family make up is, it is hard.  The pressures that we set on ourselves is so much more than what any society or child can put on us.  It is us, the person that sets our daily path, that either sets us up for success or some lofty ideal that we surely cannot attain (even if we try like crazy to chase those windmills).
I build mountains, I see dragons where there are kittens and when I see my kids sad and I see red, a brilliant, hot, blinding red.  I don't set out to be this way but it happens.  Something gets ain the path of what one of my kids wants and means something to them and I am out the door and ready to take on the world.  Sadly, I'm a bit more like Don Quixote some days...never quite reaching my goals or righting some wrongs.  But damnit, I'm going to try!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When the sand box gets too small...

I know I haven't been active in a while.  I should correct that and say I have been very active but I haven't had a chance to write it all down!  You haven't really missed much....just the same old, same old as a stay-at-home mom....whining, crying, temper tantrums, pouting and then there is the kid's behavior!

I was thinking today....sometimes the sand box gets too small.  We all want in it.  But we don't want to get in without our favorites toys.  We each need our buckets (the round one and of course the castle shaped one), our shovels, our rake, our sifters and animal shaped molds.  We get into these sandboxes and realize that we are too crowded.  We are all there for the one purpose but each of us brought our individual toys.  The toys are repeated and may only differ in size, style or color.  The problem is usually that we think that our "toys" are the right toys for the job.  It is hard to give up our favorite sand pail and let someone else bring that to the play date.  I've always liked my shovel a lot but I see someone else has one that holds more.  It is hard to give up and compromise.

Yep, the sandbox sure does get smaller as we get older.  Those lessons of playing nice in the sand with others that we share with our kids are still valid as we get older too.

Please actual sandbox was used to create this blog!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Taking on a new role...

This blog is kind of selfish, which by the way is funny as all blogs are selfish and self serving....GUILTY!

So I have been very active in the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) since my oldest child started kindergarten in 2003.  I can't believe I have been involved for 8 years now.  I originally joined to meet people.  At that time I had already entered the ranks of the stay-at-home-mom and I was finding that I yearned for adult contact again.  There was only so much conversation I could have with the hubster.  The poor guy may have gone crazy if I regaled him with another story of poopy color and consistency and what happened in the world of children flushing foreign objects down a toilet.  Yes, other adults would surely benefit from those stories too!  I knew I was ready to hear some myself.

I instantly loved what the PTA stood for and what it seemed to give to me.  I found that the brain cells that I thought were wasting away in my head were eager to learn more and were firing on all cylinders!  I found a purpose beyond those toilets that never stay clean and I became known for more than just being my kids' mom.  It was exciting!

I entered my first year and it was great.  I took on a committee that I was told was a fun and easy committee (that's how we get you).  I soon found out that I was taking on a huge committee and it was worth every bit of time I spent on it.  After that year, I moved on to becoming PTA President and soon I was chairing committees (yes, in the multiple form), I was training others to do what I had done through an extended network of PTA called the Northeastern Region and State PTA.  I was asked to lead training workshops (me in my jeans and knit top....which I found out was an error in judgement).  I was becoming a Professional Volunteer.  I was in love with this organization and I was growing with it.  I was not only doing good things for my childrens' schools I was doing good things for myself.  I was reclaiming a voice that went silent when I thought no one was listening anymore.  I found my "people."

I have now been with the PTA in various roles for 8 years and I have been given another opportunity to grow and develop some more (just when I thought I was leveled out).  I am proudly accepting the appointment of Region Director for the Northeastern Region PTA.  This is a group that works with over 130 area PTA units with training, leadership and development.  It is an amazing group of men and women. 

I have been with the Region for 6 of my 8 years in the PTA.  It has been a real gift for me.  I am the first to tell you that the PTA is not your mother's or grandmother's PTA.  We are a diverse group of volunteers that wear many different hats.  Some of us are parents, some are educators, some are concerned citizens but all of us are there for one reason....children.  We found common ground in a group that advocates and cares for children and children's issues inside and outside the classroom.  We are there for children, we are there for each other but we are there for ourselves too.  We are making a difference--in our lives and in the lives of children everywhere.  I am honored to be part no matter how large or small.  I know that I helped shape the future and that makes me feel like I matter on a larger scale.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Finding quiet time...

It has been a magic couple of weeks since I blogged last....

My days have started out like any other fantasy.  Kids waking up on time, eating their breakfasts that they didn't complain about, dressing in weather-appropriate clothing and of course this was all done in perfect silence and harmony.  My days have started out this lovely and continued throughout my days.

My 3 year old no longer subjects me to children's programming.  I no longer have to wonder why Special Agent Oso can fly a helicopter but can't seem to brush his teeth with the young child in need of his assistance.  Seriously, if you can fly a helicopter perhaps life skills should be a bit more accessible to you!  Poor Special Agent Oso.

The more remarkable find was the utter lack of dishes.  Apparently my children have discovered the dishwasher that has been a part of my home even before they themselves were a part of my home.  Dishes have been placed inside just the way I like and I didn't have to search for the bowl from someone's fruity-something-or-other cereal from that morning.  It is like searching for the Holy Grail some days.  I'm not sure if it was a game they like to play with me but no one told me the rules!  I know I win when I discover the lost relics before they congeal or emit an odor.  Altough, I have to admit, it is easier to find sometimes once the pungent stage sets in.

A miracle has happened TWICE in my bathroom.  First being the toilet.  I don't know how it happened but apparently all of the boys have discovered their full potential in terms of aim and flow!  I have yet to sit on a wet seat or have to hose down the area with the help a HAZMAT team.  The second miracle comes in the form of pairs.  Pairs of socks.  They go in the wash together and come out together.  No more hunting, no more stock piling left socks hoping the right socks would return (I imagine that it is always the right sock to blame in these situations).

It has been a wonderful few weeks since I blogged last.  If you were having the stars and planets align with this kind of perfection you would take time to enjoy it too.

Oh, yeah....I wish this was true!

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

"But she's so pretty and what a nice looking family..."

I said this today. 


I realized that I suffer from the same mass media induced preconceived notions of what makes us "normal" or at least having the appearance as such. 

I was chatting with a friend when she told me that her child's school called to tell her the tragic news of her daughter's classmate committing suicide.  What?  The same age/grade as my kid?  So, the social networker that I am, I looked up the name/family shared with me and said, "but she's so pretty and what a nice looking family."  What???  Horrifyingly, had I assumed that the pretty and popular kids weren't vulnerable?  Clearly I had.

I've seen it in the news.  It has made for gripping Dateline NBC specials on bullying and its effects on all involved.  But to hear of a case of a child killing herself separated only by geography and by not so many degrees of separation???  I'm lost.  I'm a parent, the grown-up and I'm lost.

I have been known to say more than once... "if you can live through Middle School then you can do anything." For the love of Pete, why should they have to "live through" school? Why can't they thrive, flourish and discover who they are without fear of what others will do and say?  Why do we place these kids in these fish bowls and then watch the piranhas feed on the guppies?  Do we simply excuse the behavior as "kids being kids"?  When did that become approved child-like behavior to create an environment for other children to struggle, hide, fear and ultimately hate themselves because of the words and/or actions of others?

I don't know a parent who hasn't said, "they bully others in an attempt to make themselves feel better."  Great.  Problem solved then, right?  I mean we have outlined a cause and an effect here.  Shouldn't we be past this growing concern and the increasing bullying situations?  We seem to outline the cause and effect just fine it is the solutions that we seem to struggle with.  How do we fix this?  Some parents don't want you involved in their lives for any reason, others live in denial, some may not care and some just don't ask for help.  How do we reach out to them and hope that they let us in?

Someone said to me today..."In the 'old days' as my 13 year old says, we feared hellfire, and that kept us from attempting such [bullying behavior]. With religion falling so far by the way side, kids are only thinking 'they will be sorry when I'm gone.' "  Sadly, I think that this is true.  Some falsely see it as a revenge while escaping.  While we all believe, practice and hold things differently I think that we have let pieces of our values go.  In the iconic era of "Leave it to Beaver" or "Father Knows Best" they seemed to lead idyllic lives.  But even The Beav had issues but they were prettied up and watered down for that generation's viewing standards.  They had real school yard bullies.  This generation didn't invent it. They had absentee parents.  This generation didn't corner that market.  They had children full of insecurities and self doubt.  I think it just feels like we perfected that when it is so close to us now.

My own child has said to me, "the guidance department does nothing so why bother going to them?"  Of course, my kid said it a bit more colorfully than that!  This has been a rough year for her.  I'm afraid she hasn't revealed all the pain she has felt this year as she can see in my face my anger, fear and shock when I hear about school bullying.  I've seen it first hand with things kids have said to her on-line.  I have intervened.  I was also amused by the school representative telling me that I should take her off-line.  Dear friends, that won't end it.  That just means I won't see it.

Schools used to expel or suspend students.  But with that action in today's day and age you find that there isn't a 'place' for those kids to be housed during the day.  Our schools are too small with too many kids to find a special in-school suspension location and forget about out-of-school suspension.  What is learned when the children can be left home with countless stimuli including the family computer.  Sure, take the computer away and what is a child left with?  A cell phone....a game system linked to the phone....and so on.  They are still armed with today's in-a-instant bullying aids.  Send a mean text.  Send an embarrassing picture to others.  Post an insult on someone's on-line "wall".  Bullying has only evolved with our evolving society.  We have given the bullies and the bullied an instant form of pain and torture.  It isn't real or truly mean when typed out.  They never verbalized the words so they must have less power.  Let's ask the victims that took the most permanent way to escape their pain.  Oh, wait.

It's easy to say what is right and wrong in hindsight or in theory but harder yet in practice.  The benefit of the doubt is given more freely than you would think.  Kids being kids; children need to work it out themselves; [that child] must have a bad home more excuse means one more child lost.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Beware the Ides of March...

"Beware the Ides of March," sound advice if you are Julius Caesar.  In my world, the Ides have come early and mean different things...although, I will be on the look out for those with daggers (just in case).

My Ides: my daughter has turned 13 this day.  I know, I know....The Cupcake Mommy is far too young and glamorous to be a parent to a teenager.  Yes, yes that of course is all true.  It is a modern marvel that I am so young while my children continue to age.  I credit that to the halting of my birthdays at the age of 29 and a good moisturizer.  I'm pretty sure that there is a math formula that gives X a value, carries numbers over, has integers, cotangents and medians that can explain this miracle but damn it I'm young I tell ya....YOUNG!

So my husband and I have finally welcomed a teenager into our lives.  This means that I will be able to officially attribute all that drives us crazy as parents to the phenomenon known as the American teenager.  The wacky, fluctuating drama of a teenager!  I now get to say I have one in my household and for that I know I will be forever changed.

They really should have told us during the 9 months of pregnancy or during 20+ hours of labor what was in store for us.  There was ample time and as a first-time parent I was ready and eager to heed any and all advice bestowed upon us.  I'm thinking that while I was prone and getting my epidural (happy-maker) that someone could have mentioned that these cute, pink, mewing, screaming little babies turn into teenagers full of angst and wild abandon to all things parental.  I was there, unable to move.  I was unable to feel anything from the waist down.  I was yours!  I was yours to convey all this to.  They gave me an ashen colored and muck covered wailing ball of life.  They don't come to you all pink and smelling sweet but they give you this colorful mush of baby and ick and you know in an instant that it was all worth it and that you would be forever in love with them as you kiss their slimy little foreheads and cheeks.  They gave us something far more amazing than those Gerber-like babies that are falsely angelic and pristine...they gave us our future teenager.  A sassy, smart, beautiful and kind kid that will forever hold my heart even when she won't hold my hand.

I love you Haley.

One more thing....

Go clean your room.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Life's little lessons....

"Thank you."
"Good job."
"I'm proud of you."

Those phrases seem simple enough.  I dare say fairly basic too!

Wouldn't it be nice if ALL children were thanked and celebrated the same way as those shining stars that you see center-stage?  Sometimes it is the quiet kid in the corner that gets forgotten because they haven't found their voice yet.  It would be nice for kids to be on a level playing field but frankly some kids go unnoticed and they feel that in a very real way.  I was talking with my daughter recently and discussing how sometimes adults don't do the right thing (and this can be for a million different situations and reasons).  It isn't because they don't care or they were neglectful it is that there are just so many kids and to acknowledge them all would be a lot of work.  It is still so hard to see the disappointment in her eyes. 

I hope for every disappointment she experiences that it is out numbered by the joyous moments in life.  Sadly, she is not alone in the disappointment.  I'm bit disappointed too but I have to be the grown up here.  She's bright and doesn't always have her light shining as brightly as she could due to the shadows of others she feels she lives in.  I'm working on that one with her.

I've been debating on my further action on some recent events.  This certainly isn't a huge moment in life in the grand scheme but for a 12 year old it is real and noticeable at this age.  I also know that 'MOM' can't and shouldn't fix everything.  I guess the lessons of growing up are not only for the young.  We are re-learning all the lessons we once learned growing up.  Hang on...I'm going to ask it....was my mom right?  Do I now understand that lesson too hard to grasp then because I have my own kids?  I'm adding it to the list of things I will be saying to my kids for sure!

I'm tired of excusing behavior away of those that don't do the right thing.  I think this time I will tell her the truth....and then I'll tell her that she'll understand it when she has children of her own too.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

When children amaze us...

I make cookies too....can't live on cupcakes alone! *wink*
I've been busy baking lately...for fun!  I got to share these sugar cookies with the kids of Launching Pad during their recent school play.

 If you didn't see the Launching Pad's production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast performed by children from the Ballston Spa Middle School then I think you could be in the minority.  The turn out for these shows were record breaking!  And the performances... inspiring!

My Little 'Beast' enjoying the show!
From the first tumultuous auditions to the well rehearsed final curtain call, these kids (supported by school staff and countless parents) worked tirelessly to create one of the most memorable school productions to date with this drama group.  From professional stage curtains to ingenius set designs it was clear that we were about to be in for a real treat!  The sets, the production, the kids and the community never disappointed us!  It was fabulous!

Let's never think that the Arts aren't alive and well within our schools.  They might not be the headline grabbers like a big title game victory but they are grand victories nonetheless.  They are kept alive with dedicated staff members and the families that support their efforts.  This is where you see kids who find their voices for the first time or the ones that continue to develop their instrument.  This is where you find that once quiet kid suddenly projecting their voice for the guy in the back row to hear.  This is where you find the never shy kid spending time with the wall flower who are both learning who they are.

It is amazing to watch them go from Joe Student to a character born from fantasty and realize they found themselves along the way.  Whether you were on-stage, back-stage or ushering or serving did a great job and should be proud.  Congratulations on TEN beautiful years Launching's to MANY more yet to come!

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"Chip" for the bake sale.

"Mrs. Potts" for the bake sale.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Ever get those forwarded emails or see those posts that seem to take on a life of their own on Facebook?  Of course you have.  I have yet to find a suitable filter that magically makes my 3rd cousin stop sending me some money wish or angel-gram that I must hurry and send to 10 of my friends.  Oh, and by the way, Mr. Bill Gates, I'm still waiting for that free computer that we were promised if we forwarded that test message you were tracking.  Man, there are a lot of those things out there.

Recently, I saw a post on Facebook that I decided to repost (yes, because I agreed) about being a Mommy.  I changed it to "parent" as I thought the Daddy population needed some love too.  This is what it said:

Do I work? YES! 24 hours a day. Why? Because I'm a MOM. I'm a parent, a cook, a cleaner, a teacher, a referee, a nanny, a nurse, a handyman, a maid, a security officer, a dentist, a secretary, a negotiator, a chauffeur & a hairdresser. I don't get holidays, sick pay, or days OFF. I work day & night. I'm on call at all hours. Now tell me my job isn't a real one! Re-post if you are blessed enough to be a MOM...

As a stay-at-home mother I often find myself feeling a little bit like I'm not as hard working as some others.  I am.  I just get to do it in PJ's if I want.  Whether we work 9-5, the swing shift or we don't get paid for what we do we are all working for one goal.  We are raising adults.  I heard that the other day too.  We aren't raising children but we are raising adults.  I thought for a minute.  Of course.  When you think about it we aren't looking to create a perpetual preschooler or a forever fifteen year old (I know I cringed at that thought) we are raising the next generation.  While some of us leave the home to make an income to help provide the needs and stability for our future adults; others of us are home making sure the toilet isn't super gross for guests or that there is always a supply of fresh socks.  Mind you, the working parent is doing it all.  They bring home the bacon and fry it in the pan....they also have to make sure the toilets aren't super gross too.

There are so many of us out there.  We have our differences but our biggest similarities are universal.  We wear a lot of different hats, accomplish a workload befit several people and we want the best for those little buggers that mess up our toilets.  We are parents and we don't punch a time card!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lessons learned as kids....but lost on adults?

Wait your turn.
Share your toys.
Eat your vegetables.
Don't pick your nose.
Say 'please' and 'thank you'.
Don't make that face or your face will freeze that way.
Don't put that in your mouth, you don't know where it has been.
If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all.

When we were younger we had others [attempting] to set our moral compasses.  As we grew and developed into adults we had those guiding forces watching out for us.  Once we are aged to majority, we are often left on our own to sink or swim.  Have we learned those lessons?  I think sometimes, yes.  Then I think of how far some of us have to come.

We are a McSociety.  We like to get what we want when we want it.  I think it is hard for us to wait our turn.  We work hard and often want things immediately.  We are a rushed society, so sooner is often better than later.  I think we forget that good things come to those who wait.

We might not play with toys like those of childhood fancy but we certainly have upgraded.  We have cars, sports items/vehicles, computers and game systems, etc.  We have all this and we still find it hard to share our toys.  Is it a human instinct?  We act to protect what we have...mine, not yours.  I know I work with my little one to get the "mine" way of thinking deterred.

Eat your vegetables.  I still don't like lima beans.  They are just gross.  I think we would all be better off if we had our daily serving suggestion of fruits and veggies but who doesn't love a crispy cheese drizzled puff of corn?

Don't pick your nose.  Well, you know who you are.  It is that fellow road traveler stopped at a light and you catch a glimpse of their private behavior.  FYI, the windows in your car are see through for a reason.  Just saying.

Saying 'please' and 'thank you'.  You would think it was harder for our kids to choke out those words but I notice less 'grown ups' saying these simple yet thoughtful words.  If someone holds the door for you, it is okay to say thank you.   You might even surprise someone.  If you throw in a smile while doing so then you might have made someone's day too and it didn't cost you a thing!  And if you are like a friend of mine, Mary Ann, then you add a charming compliment into the mix and you have completely disarmed that stranger and really changed their day.

Don't make that face or your face will freeze that way.  I have some living yet to do but I am here to tell you it just doesn't happen.  I have made those faces many times and I'm pretty sure that it is just a scare tactic.  A few more case studies are in order I think.  It's better to be safe than sorry!

Don't put that in your mouth, you don't know where that has been.  I will just say that this remains to be true but for different reasons these days.  This is solid advice so go with it!

If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all.  I think that this is a lesson that some never learn.  Try as you might to instill that in some but it just doesn't stick.  Sometimes words have consequences.  It is important to think before you speak.  Give it a try.  You might find people warm up to you more.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Cupcake Mommy...

What makes me the "Cupcake Mommy"?  My kids will tell you that it is NOT a delicious dessert on the dinner table everynight because I don't do that!  I don't eat desserts.  I wasn't raised with desserts on the table and I guess when I'm making the meals it doesn't translate to me whipping up a daily or even weekly treats.  I have found that I like to create and to decorate sweets.  I can be a from-scratch-baker but I'm not always.  I make a mean chocolate cake from scratch but many times my sous chef is Betty Crocker.  She's a handy friend in the kitchen along with my KitchenAid mixer.

I've been fortunate enough to be able to create for others.  It all started with me wanting to make my kid's birthday cakes and making them special.  They have all had cakes or cupcakes for their birthdays made by me.  There have been a few exceptions...the year we went to McDonald's for one of the kids.  No outside cakes allowed.  Uggg!  A decorate your own cupcake party one year.  I have to admit, that party had so little prep-stress!  And then there was the year that we took birthday parties away.  You heard me right.  They still aged but there was no party and cake to mark the occasion (they won't soon forget that lesson learned!).  That was last year and I can tell you that the kids are already chomping at the bit for their next birthday.

I started as anyone would.  Remembering the times that my own mother was creating something for my sister and me growing up.  It was sometimes tough for her when we got older.  I don't eat cake often and certainly not frosting.  I'm not a fan at all.  I will eat cake but usually cake in the buff.  I should mention that I am a twin so we had to agree on flavors, etc.  A true triumph if we agreed...that wasn't always the case!  I like that I don't give my kids a choice at this point.  You get chocolate and vanilla 1/2 and 1/2 no matter if making a sheet cake or character cakes.  I just have to do a bunch more work.  It is self inflicted so no one to blame there beyond me!

I am thinking about my January baby now.  I have plans to work on for that cake.  I guess I hope my kids remember fondly one day me baking for them...even when I seem crazed and there is flour flying every which way.  I know that I wouldn't trade it for anything.  I like making them happy so this year, I'll let them eat cake!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Greetings and salutions!

"What are they? And where are you?""Salutations is my fancy way of saying hello."

....and I feel like Charlotte, a little anyways....I'm weaving words on a different kind of web.

So greetings and salutations to the readers at The Ballston Journal!  I'm thrilled to be a part of the blogger community assembled there.  I think that some of us are high thinkers and go-getters while perhaps one of us is just trying to escape the major turmoil of the day!  I'll give you one guess as to which one I consider myself. 

I am a mother to 4 kids and I never find myself lacking in the excitement department.  I could use more nap time for sure.  That would be amazing!  I am a life-long resident of Ballston Spa.  I have seen it change so much over the course of those short few years that I have walked the Earth (that's to say I'm much younger than the years reveal me to be).  Ballston Spa is a fantastic community and where my husband and I decided we wanted to raise our family.

I hope that you will come to love or at least appreciate the craziness that is my life.  The funny moments, the moments that make you cry, the moments we all share and of course the ones that I write about.  I'm the Cupcake Mommy so I might even bake for you along the way too.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Under my skin...

If only it were a sliver!  I know how to excise that annoyance.  A sharp needle and a bit of poking, some pulling and with luck it is gone.  But some things that get under your skin linger, fester, burn and spread like an insidious infection. 

You see, I'm a pretty straight shooter.  You rarely have to question where you stand with me.  I tell it how it is.  I hate cheats and scammers.  I can't stand watching charlatans benefit from the generosity of others when clearly they are looking to scam or defraud.  It is like the season brings out the best and the worst in some people.  The best in people when they would gladly give to others as they know what need means to others.  The worst in people when they take because they know others give freely to those in need.  I have heard of people coming up with a new scam every year...a new story with a new year I guess.  There are cases of real need and then these people readily take when they have no business doing so.  I wonder if they think people are still high on the holiday spirit clinging to them like the ornaments dangling on drooping tree branches yet to be packed away.

Quite frankly it makes me sick.  I give to legitimate organizations throughout the year and during this season.  I am just sickened when I hear about people taken advantage of when they were trying to do something right by another.  I hope some day those who prey upon the kindness and generosity of others find their karmic payback some day.