Category Archives: parenting

Perfect Moment Monday – Where does the time go?

IMG_9383My friend, Lori, is retiring her linky to “Perfect Moment Monday (PMM).”  She is right, she should not feel obligated to find perfect moments.  They should happen, and we either notice, or we don’t.  Sometimes, we are so busy, we miss some too!  These moments can happen at anytime, not just Mondays, or weekends, but always.  We just have to notice them.  I started looking back on the perfect moment posts I have written.  I do not remember feeling obligated at all, but enjoyed every minute.  To see all my PMM posts, look under category, “Perfect Moment,” and all the posts will appear.  My favorite ones are, by far, these two PMM posts:

IMG_9410(1) Two Years and Growing – this one brought back such fond memories.   Even as I write my PMM for this past weekend, I realize that three years have passed already since this post, and my little girl will change and grow daily.  I love writing milestone posts about my sweet little ones because not only do I capture the memories, I feel that I share something meaningful with my readers too!

(2) Twinkling Little Stars–  This one is near and dear to my heart since I now fly away once a month, and I cannot return home Saturday nights to see them or hear them sing.  This particular post melts my heart because I was so lucky to capture these moments with my sweet little ones.  Now that I frequently fly out of town for one of my jobs, I am sad that I cannot return home to experience this but I still hold them close to my heart.

IMG_9419Ah, where does the time go?  Here I am writing about a perfect moment about this weekend.  My little one’s milestone birthday weekend.  She is now five years old!  Hard to believe that she starts Kindergarten this fall, and will start a new journey in her young life.  I wish I could freeze time for just a few years, and hold on longer to these moments, but alas, we have brought them into this world to let them go into it… to leave us, and do great things.  Easier said than done, huh?

This past weekend’s perfect moment was not just the time we spent together, which was fabulous.  It wasn’t the date night that hubby and I enjoyed seeing “The Mousetrap” at the Arvada Center.  It wasn’t the birthday party itself, or just the Friday night fun we had with friends and one another.  It was all of the above and the other little moments that we don’t always capture on camera or video.  For example, the kids cuddling up with popcorn on the sofa and saying the funniest, cutest things about what their favorite thing this weekend was. My 5-year-old exclaimed, “I liked when I saw all my friends- nothing else.”  Or, it was the moment when my 6-year old playing air guitar by herself, and laughing.  She thought no one saw.

IMG_9387How many perfect moments can you notice?  How many do you miss?  I suspect we miss a lot more than we catch, but for me, all the moments in total made this weekend perfect.  Monday will come too quick and off we will go our separate ways to work and school, but the memories of all these little moments, of all this shared time together really make life perfect!  For me, they define #perfectmoment Monday.  Lori, I will miss #perfectmoment Mondays, but thanks to you I will definitely keep noticing them.  Thanks for the opportunity, and thanks for the memories.

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Celebrate Choice: Working Moms, At Home or Outside the Home

I have had just a glimpse of a different life, just a mere taste, and I think it’s time to end the age-old battle between working moms outside the home and those who work so hard at home.  It’s a choice depending on life circumstances, and sometimes it’s not a choice, but a necessity for special circumstances.  Suffice it to say, celebrate the choice, appreciate where you are in, and just stand still long enough to enjoy it.  In this post, I refer to stay at home moms as “work at home moms” because honestly, I do not see what else you call it.  These women and men, although I just use the female reference for simplicity of this post, labor at home for their families, and work very hard- cleaning, repairing/fixing things, errands, finances, chores, kids, sometimes homeschooling, volunteering at schools, churches, and hospitals.  I refer to moms who work at an office, or outside the home (even if part-time) as moms who work outside the home, but let’s face it, these men and women are juggling all of the above plus the job(s) outside the home.  It’s amazing what they can do and accomplish, often on little to no sleep.

I fall into the category of a mom who works outside the home and I can attest to a zombi-ish state on most days.  However, over the past two weeks, due to circumstances outside my control, I have had the rare opportunity to get a glimpse of the work at home mom and wife’s life.  Unlike maternity leave, though, there was not a newborn at home, both kids were in their respective schools, and the probability is high that I will be paid back for this lost time.  During this time, I have come to both understand and respect work at home mommies so, so much more.  The days just fill up, and there’s sometimes not enough time to do it all!  And add to that, one, two, three, or more kids at home, school drop-offs and pick-ups (no aftercare), and perhaps even special needs children, and voila! These mothers (or fathers) don’t just work, they work their **** off! I don’t know how you do it all, but I completely am in awe.  It is a non-stop day, and you wake up the next day and the next and you get to do it all over again.

Sure, working outside the home is no picnic either.  The commute is awful, the work is often piled sky high, and my home looks like a tornado ripped through it all the time.  But I get a little distraction or escape daily.  I can shut my office door, get my work done, and I can sip my coffee whilst I read and reply to the countless e-mails in my inbox.  I am interrupted by a knock on the door by colleagues with whom I can have pleasant adult conversations with, and then still return to my work undaunted.  Sure, there are crazy emergencies, and deadlines, but I get to control them and I get to choose how I react to the stress.  I can either let it overwhelm me and freak out, or just get it done.  I use my lunches to either workout, run errands, or eat lunch peacefully at my desk whilst knocking some work out.

A work at home mommy with kids at home can’t often control what is going on around her and has to simply react.  She has to structure play time, learning time, keep doctor’s appointments, pay bills, manage household finances, shop for groceries, run errands, and keep her sanity.  The knock at her door is often while she is trying to escape to use the restroom or shower in peace.  She often can’t return to what she was doing undaunted.  As I can attest, she often eats her breakfast or lunch standing up while serving others, if she eats at all.  I have literally had to take breakfast with me and eat it in the car while doing drop offs.  Forget about running errands in peace if the kids are at home.  Activities with kids are exhausting because you’re watching them, helping them, and not really distracted or engrossed in something fun (other than your smart phone).  Granted, those are the moments working outside the home mom really misses, and often cries at work because she can’t be at the park with her daughter after 3 p.m. pick up.  It’s a choice, and often a hard one.  It’s sometimes not a choice if finances are at issue, or she’s a single mommy, but it doesn’t take away how hard it is for working outside the home mom.

Work at home mommy has a hard time breaking away for even a coffee break.  The entire day is planned for her.  If all her kids are in school, she has a chance to do something fun with friends, but her friends are all in the same boat, so scheduling is tough.  Often, work at home mom finds herself living Groundhog’s Day– different week, same routine. Cleaning bathrooms and rooms 1-2 one day, kitchen and flooring on day 2, and basement on day 3 (or, some other order).  Dishes are always part of the daily routine. The following week, this repeats in some form or fashion.  Add in there menu planning, and cooking and shopping for the ingredients.  She may have time to work out only if her kids are not there, and even then it is a luxury.  Chores are still chores, and errands are errands, but work at home mommy has an advantage that work outside the home mommy does not have: She can always be present.  She is there!  When the school calls, she can run there.  When something was forgotten at home by little Joey, she can run it to the school, or just be more present at the school and in her kids’ lives.  She is there when they get on the bus, get off the bus, or for pick up and drop offs, and after school care is provided by the best care provider ever – her!  This makes me jealous and a bit envious of work at home mom.  Don’t get me wrong, work outside the home makes time for her kids too when she can, and she cherishes those moments too.  She volunteers for field trips and classroom parties at the school when she can, and she always schedules doctor’s appointments too.  It’s just that some weeks, work outside the home mom will be out of town, or she has to schedule around work commitments, so her schedule is more unreliable than work at home mom.  And if work outside the home mom is as lucky as I have been with my employer and my supervisors, she has a lot of flexibility, but work outside the home mom feels guilty when she has commitments at work and has to miss something for her kiddo.  Likewise, she feels bad or feels she is letting her colleagues and others down when she can’t be at a work because of something for her kiddo.  It is literally a two-edged sword.   Work outside the home mommy is always packing her bags and going on a guilt trip no matter what.

There are pros and cons to both lifestyle choices, but it is what it is, and it’s best to find silver linings in what you are present in now.  Know that no matter what you choose, someone will be in awe of your choice even if you are not.  There is still so much judgment about work at home mommies, and it’s just wrong.  They don’t sit around and do nothing all day.  They don’t have all this free time  – in fact, the day just flies by before its time for pick-up and after school activities.  They are running kids from music lessons, to gymnastics to swim and appointments.  Their houses are not always the cleanest, and they don’t need to get lives- they have amazing lives, and they are living in the present.  All of us can learn something from work at home mommies.

There is also so much judgment around work outside the home mommies, and this is  wrong as well.  These women are often working upwards of two jobs, commuting daily, and still balancing and juggling their jobs, parenting, household responsibilities, and all of the other things.  They are trying to do it gracefully as possible, so cut them some slack.  They are not neglecting their children, nor are their children growing up any less loved than yours.  Often, they are loved even more because their parents cherish every second they get with them.

Whether you fit inside one description or another or a totally different one, doesn’t matter.  You are a mom and with me, celebrate choice.  I have seen the light and it took a forced furlough for me to understand what my life could be like if I made a different choice.  If you feel you need to change things, try to imagine yours differently and you may appreciate how the other half lives.  But, more importantly, hopefully, it will remind you that wherever you are, whatever choice you made, you are living an amazing life and doing the best you can do!  You are where you are supposed to be!  If you are not, don’t be afraid to change it. For now, celebrate the choice you made, celebrate the choice I made, and let’s be on the same side.

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Milestones & Memories – Memorial Day Weekend 2013

IMG_3327If you look at posts of past, every Memorial Day is generally a milestone weekend for us- wedding anniversary for us (we got married Memorial Day weekend 2005), birthday for my eldest and my brother (same day), and lots of fun events. Last year we spent it with family in Virginia, and this year add to the list: Kindergarten graduation!

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Fiesta Lunch – 3 Margaritas

Our eldest reached a milestone when she graduated Kindergarten this year, and turned 6 years old the day after.  We had her party on Saturday, and her graduating classmates were able to join in on the fun.  It was nice to have friends join in too!   What a truly memorable weekend.  Being in the military, Memorial Day holds a special place in my heart.  It is a weekend of reflection, prayer, and remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.  It is also a weekend of honoring those who still serve.   For our family, it is a special weekend because of all the milestones.  For us, it marks mid-year, and hopefully a renewal of spirit.

Perfect moments are shared so rarely, I wanted to share our perfect Memorial Day weekend- milestones and memories for a lifetime.  We hope yours was as memorable as ours– Happy Memorial Day 2013!

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Milestones & Memories – First Day of Kindergarten

All dressed up and ready to go – first day of K

The big day is finally here!  She started Kindergarten today.  My mother-in-law said, “it’s not like you dropped her off at college or anything… relax.”  She is right but, it is these moments, little by little, step by step, moment by moment, and all the memories in between that prepare us for the day they leave, right?  The anticipation of every new milestone, getting through each one with grace, as few tears as possible, and enjoying every moment you possibly can – that is what will get us through the day they finally fly the nest- or will it?

Great things will come!

 

 

As you can see from the pictures, it is not my daughter that freaked out because she is starting a whole new chapter in her life with a brand new school, a brand new teacher, and all new friends.  It was me- I freaked out.  Of course, that is how it is.  It was a process to start this day too.  In our County, we get the option to choose either our neighborhood school which is amazing by the way or choice enroll our kids into a plethora of other public charter schools.  We tried to do the latter just so we could compare all the local schools, and see what shook out.  It was an opportunity to see all the different curriculum, teachers, administrative staff, and of course, the schools and facilities too.  For us, the biggest draw to the school we chose was the way the curriculum is taught and the leveling.  So, if a child is reading at the 6th grade level, they will actually read at that level in this school!  Not that my child is a super star by any means and not that I expect that but I like the concept of making sure the kids that need to be at the K level or lower are in the proper group, and the kids that need 2nd and 3rd grade advancement get that so they do not get bored or irritate others in the class by being mixed in with those who may need a little extra help reading.  Similarly, for math if she is higher level, she would be placed with a higher group.  So, it works out well all around.  The drawbacks for our choice school: the time that it starts (super early) and no bus she can ride but maybe we can set up a carpool someday.  Ho hum!  All in all, we are excited and nervous at the same time.  I think the change is harder on us than her.

November 2009 – first day of daycare

Of course, all this being said, moving schools and going to school all day (even up to 12 hours a day) is not new to our family.  Here is a picture of our Kindergartener as she started her first day care in November of 2009, after being in home care where she was the only kid since she was 6 months old!  We both work so our kiddos have been in some sort of care since they were each 4-5 months old.  Luckily, for a lot of it it was family-like care which is very nice.  We were so comfortable with home care but we knew she was ready for interaction with other kids and needed to learn some things so it was time to cut the cord and ship her off to a good day care and then two years later, we changed day cares so she could be closer to home- that was just last year!  I was a nervous wreck and was so worried she would not like the new place but not surprisingly, she did fine- it was an adjustment for me!  You can read about her starting a new day care here when I posted around this time last year.  Our big adjustment last year was packing lunches.  Now, it’s a whole new game and we are all geared to set alarms all over the house too!  That is unheard of because our children are generally our alarm clocks.

Our Kindergartener at only 3 months old!

Our little girl is growing up- it’s only Kindergarten after all but it is these milestones and the memories that will come that will all help prepare us to release them into the world… slowly, but surely.  A good friend once said to me, when I was debating quitting work and staying at home because I had a hard time letting her go at daycare, “Ratna, we raise them to let them go. We raise them to become mature, good, kind people to go out in the world and do great things. We slowly learn to let go- we have to.” She was right and I hold on to her words every time we reach a new milestone.  We raise our kids to let them go just like our parents did to us.  And, no matter what they do, we need to know that we tried so hard every single day even on the days we couldn’t keep our eyes open from the fatigue. Milestones and memories, memories and milestones- enjoy every moment I say… it ends too quickly.  Now, I pray for strength to not stalk her school all week long, then all will be fine.

Letter we wrote to her and put in her backpack – for her first day. Words of love and encouragement
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Denver’s Summer Fun – the options are endless!

Judging from the brown patches of grass and the 90 degree plus weather, yeah … IT’S SUMMER! Water fun, indoor fun, rides, summer camps, bowling, and so much to do.  Of course, only 12 weeks of summer vacation left and in the time it took me to write this, we are probably down to 10 weeks left.  Where does the time go?

Well, if you have kids at home or kids over the long weekends, fret not.  There are lots of activities to do right here in your own backyard – no need to travel to far off lands or worlds (yes I am referring to Disney) when you can have it all right here in the Denver metro area.*

1. Children’s Museum – NEW! Just Add Water Exhibit   June 15-August 22

This new exhibit at the Children’s Museum combines the water fun of summer with the imagination that only the Children’s Museum can bring to life with your kids.  What fun.  It opens on June 15 and it is sure to be a hit.  Bring your kids’ bathing suits and towels and expect to get wet.  Check out their videos on the exhibit and join in on the fun.  And remember that every Wednesday Night is 2 for 1 admission, Check out their coupon here and don’t miss this fantastic deal http://www.coloradokids.com/coupon.php?id=10010204&referralcode=true  And the first Tuesday of every month is Target Night out, 4-8pm is free admission to the museum courtesy of Target.

f you are not a member at the Museum, their membership rates are some of the most reasonable in the city at just $90 for a family.  We are members and we have already gotten our money’s worth and the Children’s Museum allows you to host some pretty cool birthday parties on-site as well.  Their grand opening event for the new “just add water” exhibit is on Friday, June 14, 9am-4pm with live music, food and fun.  If you can make it, have fun… otherwise, the exhibit will be around til August 22 for the kids to enjoy.  Bring a towel, bring some shoes and have fun!

http://www.usfamilyguide.com/_emailgraphics/heritagesquare.gif2. Heritage Square Amusement Park in Golden, Colorado   Is open all summer long and you do not need to go to Disneyland to get a ride. Heritage Square Amusement park has 22 attractions and rides!  And with Easy access from anywhere in the Denver Metro area, it is a closer trip for sure.  There are 22 Rides & Attractions, FREE Entry, FREE Parking, FREE Family Picnic Area and places to eat too:

Garden Grill – There is a courtyard eating area adjoining the Grill with plenty of sun and shade depending on your preference.

Python Pit Grill – A great place to grab a quick hot dog or frozen drink on the go

On their $12 Tuesdays, for the pass, you can get Unlimited rides (excluding mini golf, go karts and boats)  and if you want to beat the heat you can play indoors at an arcade and get tickets to redeem for prizes for the little ones.  There is a Mini Golf course, magic shows, and boats you can go out on too (foot propelled or canoes)

My kids’ favorite is the little banana ride.  I am not kidding.  It is perfect for little ones.  Heritage Square has some height restrictions on some of the rides so please check and make sure you are ready for some waiting at the popular rides.  Bring a hat, and don’t forget your sunblock this summer.  And if you like to ride unlimited, check out this great coupon from Colorado Kids to get $4 off an unlimited ride pass:

AMF logo3. Bowling Anyone? I know, some days it is too hot or it rains so hit the lanes instead!  AMF Bowling Lanes in the Denver area has a great deal for you and your family this summer.  It’s called Summer UnPlugged and includes FREE Bowling for Kids ALL SUMMER LONG!  At AMF, kids 15 and under can bowl for free all summer. Simply register here and you’ll get a weekly voucher for two free games per child per day through September 3.  *Shoe rental is not included.

OR Save as a Family – Only $8.99 for 2 Hours of Bowling for up to 6 People!  Make sure to click on this deal and print out the coupon.  What fun!  And remember, even if you go outside of summer time, no matter your budget, bowling is one of the best entertainment values available. You can check out AMF’s page for specials or join the eClub at amf.com, for our best deals! Then just grab the gang and head over for a great time, any time! For fun or for competition, when it comes to bowling, AMF has everybody else beat.

4. Denver Nature & Science Museum – Lizards and Snakes & so much more

This place rocks no matter how you slice it.  The opportunities to do things here are endless and while it is indoors, the park outside is amazing.  The educational opportunities, the different exhibits and even a play area for little ones (Discovery Zone), you can spend three or four whole days here and still not be done.  We absolutely love this place and if you are military, you get in free to the main museum all the time.

IMAX is spectacular and if you have not seen the Arctic 3D yet, you simply must!  I have not visited the planetarium yet but I think my older one is ready for it – I hear it is spectacular.  All in all, a must – do place in Denver if you are visiting or a resident. The prices are reasonable all the time and the memberships are absolutely worth it!  The T-rex cafe here is awesome and the food prices are so reasonable, how could you not order a healthy salad?

5. Denver Zoo–  NEW Elephant Passage

The Denver Zoo is another fun place and very close to the venue above, Denver Nature and Science.  In fact, when parking is bad all of it flows together 🙂   The Denver Zoo is great but pricey even with discounts so get a membership if you can for the year.  For a family, it is so worth it.  The new exhibit is the Elephant Passage and you have to make reservations so go to the website and do that before you head out.  The Zoo is a fun place and you can pack a lunch and bring it in to avoid the high concession prices as well.

So much to do, see and visit in Denver – some free and some not.  Waterworld, and others I have not even touched on yet because there is just isn’t enough time but make sure you get out and get those kids out of the house.  Happy Summer to you all!

*Disclaimer: For some of the activities above, I am being compensated for my time with a free pass or free day or just discounted family fun.  For others that are listed, I am only sharing because I think these are fun worthwhile activities that you should know about and will keep your kiddos busy and you … SANE! 🙂  For more on Get Clued In’s disclaimer, please read my general disclaimer.

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