How I’d Fare as a Pioneer Woman

  
Touring an old homestead up in the Sierras, the thought came to me, as it often had before, that I don’t know if I’d have survived as a pioneer woman. There are things I love, like indoor plumbing, electric stoves, and minivans that make my life incredibly convenient. And there are things I hate, like being cold and having to build a fire to stay warm, pumping water from a well, having to churn my own butter, and forcing my kids to use homemade toothpaste that lead me to believe the pioneering life isn’t something I would have survived.   

I am in awe of women who held it together in the wilderness, in the dark, in the cold; who raised families through so much work and dedication and fortitude. As I pondered what my fate would have been like as one of these women, the thought occurred to me that, as women, we just do it. 

In simple terms, I would have just done it. There are few times life goes as planned, and there are few days that womanhood or motherhood doesn’t throw something at us that that we weren’t anticipating. Expectations always come and go and reality is always there to confront us, daily, weekly, yearly….

I often have people say, “I don’t know how you work full time with three kids. You must be exhausted.” My reply is always, “You just do it.” That’s what life  has presented me with and its not exactly optional. Life presents each of us with unique challenges and circumstances and we don’t have the choice to say, “Never mind, I’ll choose another life instead.”  There are circumstances that are unavoidable and roads that must be traveled, and so we dig in and do it. The only option is to do it. 

Maybe your challenge isn’t stocking firewood to keep your family warm through a bleak winter. Maybe it’s not scrubbing homemade clothes on a washboard with raw fingers and homemade soap. Maybe your challenge is a sick child, or an exhausting schedule, or a failing marriage or a chronic illness…. But you do it. 

Day after day and step after step, we continue. Because we’re up to the challenge of whatever life throws at us. Because we have a strength to endure, even when faced with what may seem impossible. Because we’re motivated by love and would go to the ends of the earth in a heartbeat for those we care for. 

  
So there’s a pioneering woman in all of us. A woman who does it. And I know how I’d fare on my homestead. Through the cooking and the cleaning and the washing and the uncertainty and the darkness and the solitude and the quiet, I’d do it. I’d survive in that life. Because we’re strong. There’s the same spirit of dedication and survival in each of us that spurned on these amazing women of the past. It makes me proud to be a woman! 

   

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My Random Musings

World Breastfeeding Week 2015 Focuses on Working Mothers

 Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. Being a working mom is definitely not easy. I’ve been a breastfeeding working mom for many, many years (not all for the same child), so supporting other working moms who breastfeed is an issue that is, quite literally, very close to my heart.  I’m completely overjoyed that WABA has made breastfeeding in the workplace the focus of the 2015 World Breastfeeding Week (August 1 – 7), with their “Let’s Make it Work!” tag line. 
There are many reasons moms return to work while still breastfeeding: some love their careers, some need to support their families, some have flexibility, others don’t. 

In the United States, most working moms return to work 6-12 weeks postpartum. With breastfeeding newly established, and the breastfeeding relationship ever-evolving, it’s no surprise that many moms give up on breastfeeding soon after returning to their jobs. 

We can all agree that breastfeeding moms who return to work should have the support, encouragement and accommodation necessary to continue to breastfeed and express milk for their babies (or toddlers!) if they choose to while working. World Breastfeeding Week exists to support, educate and inform individuals, social organizations, employers, governments and policy-makers about the importance of supporting the rights of breastfeeding mothers everywhere. 

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015, I’ll be publishing a series of posts this week about my own experiences as a working mom while nursing my little ones. It’s at times a trial, often an adventure, frequently exhausting, but ultimately rewarding. 

I’d love to hear other moms’ experiences with going back to work while still nursing too. Encouragement goes a long way! 
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Everything Mummy

Mummy do it

Meet the Newest Engine on Sodor

We are big fans of Thomas the Train in our house. We love each and every character and the amazing and affirming life lessons the program teaches. My kids have learned a lot from Thomas and his friends about friendship, persistence, forgiveness and hard work.

In the newest movie featuring the Really Useful Crew, Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure (scheduled for release September 8, 2015), we get to meet Ryan, Sodor’s newest engine! Ryan is now available in the classic wooden railway model and the smaller Take-n-Play version.

Wooden train set model:

 

Take-n-Play model:

 

I have a feeling Ryan will be showing up fast in the toy boxes of Thomas fans worldwide!

The movie is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Thomas & Friends: Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure – The Movie

Do you have a Thomas fan in your home? I’d love to hear who your favorites are. Cranky, Flynn and Rocky are all the rage in my house!

 

Mission Trails Regional Center

The kids were getting a little restless today, so I threw them in the car and we headed off to Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego.

Mission Trails is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, encompassing nearly 5,800 acres of terrain. With relatively easy trails, this is a great spot for a hike with kids.

Even if hiking isn’t your thing, the visitor center has great interactive exhibits for guests of all ages. The visitor’s center is really lovely and features an elaborate rock wall the kids have fun trying to scale, a permanent museum, an outdoor amphitheater and spectacular views of the park.


  

Today’s activities consisted making a rubbing of indigenous animal tracks and creating handprints to hang on the “humanitree” to demonstrate our commitment to environmental conservation.

Displays include local wildlife (and appropriate precautions when living and hiking in their habitat); native Kumeyaay history, culture and artifacts; and regional geology. Activity packets are available for kids on a couple of topics, including the water cycle, and you can even pick up a scavenger hunt form at the Visitor’s Center desk to complete during your visit. There are great opportunities here to learn about the area.

Free walking tours are available throughout the week, and regular kids and family events are hosted throughout the year. Check out their online calendar here to plan your visit.

Water fountains (and water bowls for dogs) are available around the center, but no food is available for purchase. Bring snacks and drinks – especially if you’ll be hiking the trails. There is very little shade on the hiking routes, so plan accordingly, especially if you have kids with you.

Enjoy the adventure!

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Summer Days

What Every New Working Mom Should Know

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I just went back to work after baby number three. You would think it would get easier by the third time, but it doesn’t. I’ve spent most of each of my maternity leaves trying to cobble together a plan that would allow me to stay at home for at least the first year, but no such opportunities ever presented themselves (and I do have a really nice career), so I went back to work at twelve weeks post-baby each time.

Being a three-time veteran of the working mom return to work has given me a little perspective, and I wanted to share some of the insights I’ve managed to glean over the years for any new moms who find themselves emotional and feeling overwhelmed in this position for the first time.

Being emotional is okay. 

In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s normal.  When I went back to work after my first son was born, I spent the majority of the first week sobbing at my desk with my phone set to “do not disturb.” It was rough. You’re full of wildly fluctuating hormones, exhausted to the point of near-delirium, and are most likely still months away from fitting back into your pre-pregnancy work-wear (which, let’s be honest, isn’t exactly a mood-booster). Allow yourself to process whatever emotions you’re feeling. Give yourself the space and the freedom to be human. Be honest with how you’re feeling. Putting up walls will just take up more energy, and you don’t have any of that to spare.

Other moms can relate.

Hopefully you have some other working moms in your life you can talk to and bond with. I’ve often been surprised at how eager other working moms are to encourage and support one another. So reach out to other moms you work with and network with. If you don’t have support around you, check out online groups and forums for working moms.  A little encouragement goes a long way, and knowing you’re not the only one struggling with that heart-ripped-out-of-your-chest feeling when you miss your baby is wonderfully comforting.

Your relationship with your baby won’t suffer. 

Really. Believe me on this one. It’s true. Despite the fact you may be gone more than 8 hours a day, you’ll still have so many precious moments with your baby. You’ll always be mom. You’ll always be a valuable, necessary and cherished source of comfort and love. You’ll be able to carve out a lot of time together and those moments with be incredibly rich with purpose and intentionality.

Your sleep cycle will adjust. 

Somewhat. You’ll never again sleep like you did before having kids. But the exhaustion dissipates eventually and your routine falls into a new pattern. You’ll get by – even if there are days you just don’t know how you’ll keep awake. Rest while you can and be gracious to yourself when you go back to work.

Ease into the transition if you can. 

This isn’t always possible, and that’s okay. But if you’re able to, try negotiating with your employer to work reduced hours, temporarily move to part-time, or explore work-from-home options while you ease back into your work schedule. When you present it as a temporary arrangement your boss is more likely to agree. If you feel like you’re doing too much too fast, it’s absolutely worth it to explore options for additional flexibility in your work schedule.

Working moms are valuable.

Hopefully you work in an office where women are championed and encouraged, and not some backwards bastion of sexism. Women have valuable contributions to make to the workforce and working moms are no exception. My philosophy has always been that although I might need days off for sick kids and doctors appointments and extra breaks to pump breastmilk, being a working mom makes me more committed to my work. I’m not going  to leave my precious babies all day to show up and do a half-assed job; I’m going to contribute something valuable so that I can show my kids that my work was truly significant in addition to enabling me to bring home a paycheck.

You can do it!

There will be obstacles to overcome: exhaustion, showing up late because baby had meltdown, breastmilk soaking your shirt in an important meeting….Know you can do it. Working moms are strong! YOU are strong!!!

So, stay strong, mama! You’ve got this. All us working moms are cheering you on. It doesn’t get easier – but you’ll make it good.

What’s your best advice for a new mom heading back to work?
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Best of Worst
Modern Dad Pages
You Baby Me Mummy

The High Walled Garden

There was a high-walled garden where I often sat

Twirling leaves and unfurling blooms draped and winding over stones

Where I reclined with the sun on my legs

With breeze stroked hair

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There was a high-walled garden where I often sat

Keeping out the noise of the world

Locking danger away

Safe and secure with beauty and rest

 

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There was a high-walled garden where I often sat

With giggles and roses

Laughter and mint

Delight and doves

 

2

 

 

I think often of that garden now

The creaking swing, the cobbled stones

The fragrance of sweetness and the softness of life

Since the day I let out a mighty yell and burst down its walls.

The Perfect Simple Summer Maitai

  
Hot summer days require chips, spicy salsa and tangy maitais. It’s just not the same without them. 

Here’s my favorite simple recipe for the perfect refreshing poolside maitai. I suggest making them by the pitcher because they’re absolutely delicious:

Ingredients:

  • 2 parts dark rum
  • 2 parts light rum
  • 1 part triple sec
  • 1 part pineapple juice
  • 1 splash of pulp-free orange juice

Directions

Mix and pour over ice or store in refrigerator to serve chilled. 

These are a win anytime and only take a minute to throw together. Enjoy! 

  

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Domestic Momster

Review: Banzai Motorized Speedboat

What better fun is there on a summer day than splashing in a pool?  My kids love to swim – and they love inflatable pool rafts, inner tubes and ride-along toys. 

My 6 year old had been asking for a Banzai motorized speedboat since last summer, so we bought him and his brother each one for end-of-school year presents. 

They absolutely loved them! 

  
Thankfully we had an air pump and didn’t have to blow them up on lung-capacity alone! 

They take a LOT of batteries (EIGHT D batteries each), but they do a great job of zooming around the pool and turn really well too. Best of all, they come with a built-in water sprayer that has almost too far range, given the fact I was repeatedly targeted for getting soaked even though I tried to stay a safe distance from the pool!

  

We had great fun with these and would highly recommend them for tons of pool-time fun this summer!

We bought ours at Costco for $34.99 each, but you can also find them on Amazon.

What are some of your favorite pool toys that should be next on our list to try?

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Summer Days

The Gift in the Wait

  
While I wouldn’t say I’m an incredibly patient person, there’s something that really doesn’t bother me: waiting. 
I don’t mind waiting at all. There are certain things absolutely worth waiting for:

Waiting for a plane to be inspected or repaired on the runway? Take your time. Take all the time you need. I’ll sit on board contentedly, amid the recycled air and frustrated passengers as long as this bird is going to be in tip top shape by the time we’re in the air. Please don’t cut any corners. 

Waiting for a traffic accident to clear? Thank goodness I’m in a car stuck in the traffic jam and not in the car that caused it. 

Waiting for minor inconveniences? A doctor’s appointment running late? My cup of coffee taking a dang eternity to brew? These pauses I’ve learned to enjoy. 

I showed up for a haircut recently only to be told my stylist was running late and I should come back in an hour. At first I was frustrated. I admit I was annoyed. I had places to go and things to do and how dare they not call me in advance to reschedule? But I realized this setback in my schedule forced me to stop. I now had an hour to burn. No kids. Just me. No work distractions. Just me. No other demands on my time – at least none I was really able to attend to right then and there. Just me. 

So I grabbed a cup of coffee and I sat. I could think. I could read. I could experience the warmth of the sun. I could listen to the birds. I could stare at the sky. I could enjoy that time I would have never intentionally taken for myself. 

I realized I have to make a choice in these moments: I can be frustrated or I can find enjoyment in the experience of the time for which nothing else had been planned.

Rather than an inconvenience, I had been given a gift. A gift of moments. A gift of quiet. A gift of time.