Don’t Judge Me!

While I was walking down the street, I happened to overhear two neighbors talking to each other about me. One was pointing towards my house and I heard, “The girl has three kids for God’s sakes! I mean, you have to think about these kinds of things!” The other one just nodded her head and agreed.

This conversation, of course, just, as my old teacher would have said…’burned my cheese’.

These ladies barely ever say two words to me and do not know me from a can of paint! I was just so annoyed at how people try to taint a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I’m young, I don’t drive, I don’t work outside the home,  and…I have THREE kids (which, is like a “full house” nowadays). Granted, my husband and I did not plan Baby J and had we thought about it beforehand, we would most likely have decided against it. But, in the end, we chose to keep him and accept the responsibility that comes with it. So to make that comment as if it is a precursor of what is to come in the future is so…stupid.

Everyone has SOMETHING that others can consider a downfall or deterrent but no one can decide what that will entail for YOU but YOU. This will not be the last time someone will judge me but it surely won’t be enough to hold me back and make me fight for my dreams.

Nothing Like a Sweet Treat!

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I don’t know about other women but I will say that the way to a pregnant woman‘s heart is definitely through her stomach, also!

After a long day at home with the kids while my husband is at work, sometimes the best thing he can do is bring a little snack for me to eat to help me enjoy that time to relax once I finally have it! I know that won’t be a great benefit for me after this baby comes since I will probably need LOTS more help for relaxation after endless breastfeeding sessions, cooking meals for me and my toddler while my older son is in school, and attempting to clean and maintain our house but, for now, it surely helps.

Yesterday was one of those days.  In the morning, I got up and cooked breakfast for me and my kids and then we walked to the market to grab something for dinner. By the time we came back, I was tired and really wanted to go to sleep but, of course I can’t sleep while Duke is up. I did that once and woke up to find his window blinds torn up and a picture that he had colored “hung up” on his wall with water.

I try not to let them watch too much TV so I let my Poopy (one year old) play in his playpen while I had my five-year old draw stuff until nap time. After all of that, it was still a repeat of the other day. However, this time, cleaning and making him exercise didn’t work. So I was left to spend the rest of the day feeling like a zombie and snapping at every little thing that went wrong. When days are like this, it seems like everything else around you starts to collapse and that was the case for me because I also stubbed my toe and burnt myself twice. I felt so miserable and tired. By the time dinner rolled around, I did not want to get up. But, surely God must have given me just an extra ounce of energy so I could use it to throw a little something together for dinner (Velveeta’s Cheesy Skillet: Chicken and Broccoli; yeah, I was desperate).

My husband called me on his way home from work to ask me if I wanted anything from the store, like usual. I couldn’t think of anything that we needed so I told him, no. When he got in, we all ate and I put the kids to sleep. When I came back down, he told me he had brought me some ginger snaps from the store. I started grinning like a Cheshire cat when he told me that! I ran to the cabinets and grabbed that bag of ginger snaps, laid some on a plate and poured myself a glass of milk to go with it….all of a sudden, I heard the angels singing!

Nothing like a sweet treat for a pregnant woman!

Is It Ever Too Late To Say Goodbye?

Today I went to my Aunt Lola’s funeral. After being in the hospital for a while she died at the age of 59. I didn’t know much about her except that she had 7 kids (5 of which, I spent some time with as a child) and was the type of person who would always say how she felt no matter what you thought about it.

Despite the fact that she lived over 100 miles from us, her and my mom never let that destroy their relationship. I would always remember her and my mom talking to one another for hours at a time or our families visiting each other as kids and spending time together. However, as I got older and began to do my own things, the times I would see her or hear her on the phone weren’t always as pleasant as I remembered as a child.

In my mind, she seemed bitter and depressed all the time. I didn’t think she liked me and on one occasion she showed her unhappiness in my husband and some of the choices I had made growing up. For that reason, I stayed my distance from her. I didn’t have any hate in my heart for her but I felt that we were two different people and could not communicate or get along because of those differences. I know now that a lot of that was attributed to the fact that my mom and I were also not very close as I grew up and sometimes when they got together, it would be to discuss me or my brother in a not-so-good light.

From what my mom told me, a few of her children and other close family members shared that same view of her and chose to stay their distance as well. However, during the funeral all of the good things about Aunt Lola came out and her children and close family members were forced to acknowledge and remember those things. As I listened to them, I felt disappointed in myself that I had wasted time and not gotten to really know her like I could have. The things that I learned in those few hours of her funeral showed me that, I had been wrong, we were very similar in our mindset and life paths. In those few hours, I gained the knowledge that what I gauged as dislike towards me and my choices in life were probably dislike towards her own, as well.

I realized that her children and other close family members would probably feel the pang of disappointment that I felt but ten times worse. Instead of being able to understand her and show her their love, some of them took the “back away” stance like me or even worse completely expressed their anger for her. Some of them had never got a chance to show her how much she meant to them and, in way, never will. From what my mother told me of their relationship, that was all Aunt Lola wanted from them and I’m sure they knew.

Someone at the funeral said that funerals are a blessing to the ones who choose to come because they see the wrongs and good things about someone else and they learn how they can use the time they have left to make theirs better. I agree wholeheartedly with that comment and  learned that it really is true that you never know when it will be someone’s last day and it’s important to make those moments before count. People know that and hear that all the time but we let pettiness and bitterness keep us from actually showing it.

So, from me to you, I wanted to share to those that are reading this that if you haven’t showed your appreciation for someone in your family or one of your close friends, now is the time to do it. Anyone can imagine that hurt and pain felt of losing a loved one but you definitely don’t want to add the burden of having to ask yourself, “Is it too late to say goodbye?”

How to Make a Move Against Big Banks

I stumbled across something on the internet that really had me bothered: “Young debit card users pay $1 billion dollars in overdraft fees“. This is a problem that my husband and I have had for years. I thought that it was just us and it seemed like no matter how careful we were, banks would find a way to charge us that dreaded $35 fee repeatedly.

Around the holidays one year, I remember my husband and I were shopping for gifts and entertaining items for our home. We watched our account closely to make sure we weren’t going over what we had in the account. That next week (I believe it was Tuesday), our bank had charged us with that dreaded $35. It turned out they had ordered our purchases in a way that would make it go over so they could charge us the fee. When we called to ask about it, we were told, “Debit purchases can be processed in any order especially if made over the weekend”. I couldn’t help but think…what the h%$&!

So if you’re feeling like me and are determined to find a way to turn this statistic around and end banks’ scheming ways, here are some ideas:

  1. Find out ways you can be charged (minimum balance fees, monthly or annual maintenance fees, lost debit card fees, etc.) and research how to avoid them. Banks make it pretty hard to do that with their tiny booklets of Terms and Conditions filled with fine print but take the extra mile and thoroughly research your bank online before signing up.
  2. Find a bank (or credit union) that has policies that fit your financial habits. If you use checks a lot then you don’t want an account that is going to charge you extra every month if you use it more than your required amount.
  3. Use cash as much as possible but especially for small transactions. One thing the article mentioned is that we (young adults) tend to use our debit cards for pretty much everything which is not a good idea, especially if you want to be able to keep track of it all.
  4. Use a smaller bank or credit union. Big banks are usually for-profit and work with shareholders so their main concern is to keep money flowing and keep those shareholders happy. On the other hand, smaller banks and credit unions are usually not-for profits so they will do the best they can to keep you happy. Not to mention, smaller banks and credit unions have lower fees if you do mess up.
  5. Use a credit card instead of a debit card IF you are good about paying on time.
  6. Be a valuable customer. Have several accounts (including credit card or car loans)  that are in good standing with the bank for years and they will be more willing to do whatever it takes to keep you.
  7. A no-brainer: sign up for alerts.

All in all, stay informed and think wisely. At the end of the day, you are entrusting someone with one of your most prized possessions: your money. It’s important for us to be smart because they expect us not to be as young mothers/adults and all of that money earned could be much better used for our kids…or a nice outfit! 😉

End Your Baby Frustrations with Sign Language!

So as I posted last week, I have been having a little trouble potty training my 18 month old son, Poopy (maybe the nickname has something to do with it!).  I am determined to get him to at least give me one poopy in the potty before his new baby brother is born. I feel the main problem with this is communication.

So after I put the kids to sleep, I was watching the new episode of Tia & Tamera’s reality show and Tia was talking about how she couldn’t understand some of the things her son, Cree was trying to say and that she would like to. So her friend mentioned during mommy class that she had tried baby sign language and it had worked wonders for her son. So Tia took Cree to a class so they could learn it together and communicate.

I got so excited about this idea because I think it is brilliant. Not only can it lessen our potty training frustrations but it would definitely end the one-sided conversations.  I feel so bad for my poor baby when he’s babbling something and afterwards staring intently as if he wants me to answer and all I can say is, “I’m sorry, Poopy. I don’t know what you’re saying” in my don’t-be-mad-at-mommy voice.

However, since I can’t afford to take him to a specialized baby sign language class, I started researching the main words that I use with him and am going to start using them during conversation and hope that he begins to learn it and use it. I feel really proud to want to teach my baby sign language because it’s not at all a normal thing and no one I knows has done it. In fact, I think one of my challenges is going to be to get my family on board and support me with it. But I figure once I show him some signs and he begins to communicate with me, there will be no debate.

Plus, when I researched the basics on The Baby Sign Language website, these were the benefits they mentioned of baby sign language:

  • Bonding: Research on baby sign language has confirmed that signers enjoy a stronger parental bond. In fact some early childhood education programs have started teaching baby sign language to infants and their parents to help get their relationship off to the best possible start.
    • Poopy and I had a really strong connection while I breastfed and I was never uncomfortable with him being with anyone else because we were both pretty attached to each other. I think we both knew that these people were temporary but we would always be together and, the funny thing is, that didn’t change when I began to work full-time. But, after he turned a year old and began to become a little independent, our connection started to change. It’s not gone but maybe not as strong as before so I would so love to have that back! 🙂
  • Reduced Fussiness: Research confirms that signing babies have fewer temper tantrums. Perhaps not surprisingly, the adults feel better too – with the parents of signing children reporting feeling more positive about their child.
    • Ok, I think all moms can vouch for the frustrations that arise when your baby is crying about something and you can’t quite figure it out. When Poopy is moody and wants something and I can’t figure it out, he DOES NOT want to be touched, held, talked to…NOTHING. So it kind of hurts to feel so helpless and I think it will be a great thing for both of us if he could just tell me what he wants.
  • DevelopmentStudies shows that babies who have early exposure to signing, have larger speaking vocabularies earlier. They even do better years after they have stopped signing. One study showed that eight year olds who learned baby sign language as infants had an average IQ 12 points higher than non-signers.
    • This one was a big plus! Who wouldn’t want their kids to have a higher IQ and a bigger vocabulary? …Need I say more?

So this is my next journey and I can’t wait to see where it leads us…anyone else in for the ride? Think sign language is for you and your baby or that it’s completely stupid? Tell me your thoughts…

I Don’t Want to Spank My Kids Because…

Lately, with the heat being unbearable in our area and me being 8 months pregnant, going to the park and playing outside much has been extremely difficult for us.  I make sure I let them exercise whether that is with a video or just dancing to music and have been trying my best to allow them to burn their energy however they need to. Despite all of that, my sons’ behavior has been challenging to keep under control. It has been a real test for me to not spank them (well, at least the 5 year old) but I am trying to make a strong effort to do this.

This is a parenting decision that I have come to be strong in enforcing due to how I view “spanking” or “beating”. Sometimes it can be hard because people in my circle aren’t necessarily fond of not spanking their children and feel they have to enforce their rules. But all I hear is “force”. To me, spanking is not a means of discipline or “enforcing” your rules, it is a way to control the child and have them fear you.

People argue that if it is not done in anger that it will serve its purpose and getting your child to do what you want them to do or expect them to do but still allow them to know that you love them. I find that incredibly hard to believe. How can you hit someone you love without anger? Then, what bothers me all the time is when my son comes to me and asks why it’s not OK for him to other people when they do something wrong. Do I say it’s because I am your parent and I love you so I am only doing that to make sure you do the right things? That’s exactly what I have said in the past and I had to ask myself…does that even make sense? Would I want my husband or friend to hit me because I was doing something that would eventually lead me down the wrong path? Of course not. So why should it be OK for my children?

I have found that removing spanking from my methods of discipline has changed the way my sons treat me already. Whereas they usually didn’t listen to me and at times, seemed to completely ignore what I was saying, now they actually follow my rules and give me less defiance. I was told that the reason they didn’t listen in the past was because I didn’t beat them enough but I know now that that is not the case. Deciding not to spank my kids has changed their responses from, “Ok, ok, ok, I won’t do it again this time” to “Ok, mom” in just one week.

Trust me it is definitely not easy to make this decision but I have found the reason it’s most difficult is because I had a problem with controlling my own temper when things didn’t go my way. Spanking, for me and others, was a means of getting my demands heard and executed quickly but I realized it was doing the opposite in what I wanted it to do in terms of building the character that I want my sons to have as adults.

I’m aware that this is a very controversial topic and I will probably be argued down by many of my friends and relatives but I know it is the right thing to do for me and my sons. It will be a journey to make it a daily process but I am determined to turn things around for my family.

Give me your thoughts on this? Are you for or against spanking?

What are we feeding our children?

No. Not that kind of food. I’m talking about the mental stimulation we are giving them to think and grow into the wonderful adults that God called them to be.

I was thinking about the way I parent and handle my children recently since my past teacher, Connie Grier came out with her first book called, The ABC’s of Mentoring: A Bi-Weekly Road Map for Uplifting Youth. In her book, she talks about the tendency for many people to equate gifts for the vital things that children need to stimulate their minds and give them the extra push they need to succeed.

This statement brought me back to my childhood and the way I grew up. My father, at the time, was not around very much so, for the most part, my mother raised me alone. Her tactic for when my brother and I did something wrong was to holler and give us spankings. Even though we knew she meant well, after a while, we became numb to it all and I think the message she was trying to send, was often lost.

Now that I am a mother, I try not to follow her methods but, regretfully, that doesn’t always work. After reading blogs by other moms and talking to other moms, I know I’m not the only one. (Here’s one for example:

I strive to be a better parent but it doesn’t always work out that way. Time-outs, distraction, and talking to my sons doesn’t always seem to work. For me, I believe it is a lack of knowledge with how to actually execute different methods of parenting.

Researching and getting other tactics from moms like me would probably be the best bet for me in beginning to change that. Another thing is joining a mommy and me group, which I think is really beneficial for any mom.

What are some of your disciplining techniques and ways to steer your child in the right direction?