Bye bye grade school!

It’s been nearly six years since I took Rosie to kindergarten. She was in her best dress, red hair pinned back with a bow and blue eyes as big as saucers. Despite the fact that she had been in preschool (and did one year of private kindergarten as we missed the cut off) she was a little timid.

Look at that bright smile and all those baby teeth!

Rosie loved her new school and her teacher was amazing. Still she spent most of that year still hiding behind my legs. And, there was absolutely no way that she’d ever let me drop her off in front of school- the idea terrified her.

Six was a tough year for the Rosebud. She was desperately trying to ride her bike (our large motor skills were a little behind) and she watched her friends dance circles around her. Yet, she did everything with a smile and twinkling blue eyes.

Today was the last day of Rosie’s career (last night was her Fifth Grade Promotion which I missed because of a business trip. This has caused me an incredible case of mommy guilt. And, yes, I do know that it was only fifth grade, but I really try hard to be present for my child at all times). My baby will be moving on to middle school next year. Boy, it’s been a fast six years. Too fast.

The child that I took to kindergarten is so dramatically different from the tween that’s emerging from grade school. Once painfully shy, Rosie has become an outgoing child that can navigate any social situation. I am constantly amazed at her manners and her ability to have a quality conversation with people of all ages.

Once awkward and a little uncoordinated, dance (and her determination) have made her athletic and graceful. I have to confess, I get a little teary every time I see her perform as it took us nine years to just get caught up. What a pleasure to see her excel.

The timid child has been replaced by a fighter. There’s nothing that Rosie can’t do. She’s secure, confident and quite frankly amazing. She works hard and has no fear. I love that about her.

Congrats to my little girl. While I’m sad to see a chapter of childhood close, I look forward to the adventures that lie ahead (and yes, I know there will be some good, bad and ugly). It will be so much fun!

She’s still a lover of turquoise even though she’s growing up. Look how much fun she’s become

BBQ Sauces that Sizzle

Yep, I’m Cowtown proud. Read about it on the Plum Blog today! What’s your favorite BBQ sauce? I’ve shared one that we love and have a fridge full of others! Enjoy!

No, I wasn’t Mom enough

I’ve watched the past couple of days while the Time cover featuring the hot young mom breast feeding her three year-old has stirred up everything from the popular press to viral media. I’ve read what’s been posted on Facebook, read a couple of amusing mommy blogs and actually took the time to read today’s paper. I’ve tried to stay like Switzerland on the topic (which if you know me is really hard. I do try and stay away from sex, religion and politics when I write, but it does sneak in there sometimes), but honestly, I no longer can. The whole thing bugs me.

Let me begin by getting one thing straight- I think breastfeeding is incredibly important for both mother and child. And, if I hadn’t worked full-time, I may have gravitated towards the attachment parenting style, because I often found my sick child in my bed and felt that’s where she needed to be. But, since I couldn’t wear my baby to work (and I had to work), I made the tough decision of finding another loving mother to help me during the day (and yes, that was painful).

But, the most painful part of being a brand new mom for me (and this is where the Time cover hit a nerve), is the fact that I wasn’t Mom enough. When I read the header, it was a slap across my face. To me, it pointed out my inadequacy as a mother- I was unable to breast feed my child.

I was the kind of mom that was ready to breastfeed before my child was born. I had the lactation consultant ready to come to the hospital when I delivered and had already rented a pump in case I needed a little help to produce. Unfortunately, Rosie came into the world in a traumatic way. My water had been broken for almost two weeks (yes, no one listened to me when I went to the doctor), my labor was long and arduous and once the Rosebud entered the world she rapidly started losing weight.

It was a heartbreaking decision to begin to tube feed but medically neccessary

I left the hospital breast feeding but my severely jaundiced child needed more milk than I could initially produce, so I made the difficult decision to tube feed and give her some formula until she was well. And, in the meantime, I pumped and waited for the day when my baby would latch on. She never did. Two weeks later, I made the painful decision to introduce my baby to her first bottle. I knew I’d never get her back on my breast, but I was doing the next best thing- I decided to pump for the year.

Long story short, I pumped for seven months until my doctor told me I needed to stop for my health (I have serious asthma and needed to go back on medication). When I stopped, we had two full freezers of milk at our house and our neighbors had half their deep freeze filled with bags of milk as well. The only formula my child ever had was when she was a few weeks old. I transitioned her from breast milk in a bottle to milk in a cup at one.

One of three, very full freezers

The Time cover hit a nerve for me this week for two reasons and yes, the first was the headline. No, I wasn’t able to technically breastfeed so does that make me less of a mom? I don’t think so. Honestly, I think it made me tougher.

Do you know how difficult it is to pump every single day for seven months? Not only do you have to take the time to express the milk but you also have to feed. It took me twice as long as a breastfeeding mom. And, it was a helluva lot more inconvenient as I wasn’t able to pull my shirt over and feed my child. And, then there’s the small fact that I missed out on all the intimacy of breastfeeding.

That’s where the cover really got me. Attachment parenting is about the connection to the child. Seeing the cover with the toddler standing on the stool looking like he could have been standing at a soda machine shooting the stream in his mouth really got me. Because that’s not what breastfeeding is all about.

It’s about the part of motherhood that I never got to experience. Except for a couple of weeks when I struggled to try, I never had the physical and emotional connection you get when you breastfeed a baby. Feeding for us was always a challenge. It was always work ( In the first year alone, we went through eight different types of bottles to find a nipple that Rosie could suck. Because she was sick, it was really a struggle) And, it was never as simple as pulling Rosie close to me and feeling the connectedness that comes from breastfeeding.

Needless to say, I won’t be reading the Time article. I’m not interested to read about “extreme” parenting (isn’t all parenting extreme? Aren’t we all just trying to survive). And, don’t even get me started on the choice of mom on the cover (not that I have anything against blogger Jamie Grumet), but couldn’t they have at least found a mom that looks more like an average one?

 

 

Am I the mom from Black Swan? Surely not. Rosie’s first audition

I’m sitting in the lobby at dance yakking it up with a bunch of moms when Rosie emerges and very tersely says, “Let’s go. NOW.”

She’s walking quickly and since her legs are now longer than mine, I trail behind. I’m wondering what will happen the moment we hit the car. She’s just left her first dance audition and based on her reaction as we left, it may not have gone well. If so, it’s all my fault.

All Rosie’s ever wanted to be is a ballerina (that and a Neonatologist, but honestly since she’s extremely right-brained, we have a better shot at dance). As a little girl, she walked around on her toes, spinning  around the room on a daily basis. She’s taken ballet classes two or three times a week for the past three years to work towards her goal of earning her pointe shoes. She’s been longing for the chance to finally be old enough to become a part of Ballet Legacy, our school’s premier company.

This weekend, she finally was old enough to audition and she was excited. She was also extremely nervous and the night before wasn’t sure she’d be able to pull it off (and who could blame her?). She was sick to her stomach, scared to death and I, as a parent had to try and figure out what the hell to say to make it better.

“Mama,” she said crying. “I can’t do this. Maybe I can just send in a video like some of the other girls.”

“Rosie,” I said in my most soothing Mommy tone. “You HAVE to do this. This is your one shot for the year and if you don’t audition tomorrow, you’ll have to wait another year before you get another chance and you’ve wanted to do this forever.”

She looked at me and gave me a small nod. Got out of the shower and we sat down to talk. I needed to uncover what was really bothering her.

She didn’t want to be the youngest and most inexperienced (“Not a problem,” I told her and reminded her that there were a number of girls her age who said they were auditioning too). And, the fact that there would be live judges (actually, just adjudicators but when you are 11 there’s no difference) was really making her nervous. Finally, the thought of all the older girls watching scared her as well (‘Remember,” I said. “They were all in your shoes once too. They know what it’s like to try-out for the first time.”)

Rosie got it in bed, fell asleep and actually slept all night. I thought we were out of the woods. Until the next day.

While we were a little cranky and out-of-sorts due to nerves, we made it to the audition just fine. I walked her in just as she asked and very promptly left when she turned to me and said, “Mama, YOU are freaking me out.”

I came back 2 1/2 hours later hoping for the best when I see my daughter blast out of the studio with her bag high on her shoulder. “Let’s go. NOW,” she says.

Please God tell me that my child will never think of me like this (oh the thoughts that raced through my head)

The short walk to the car seemed like an eternity to me. I tried to replay the conversations we had the night before because whatever just happened in that audition was probably going to be my fault. I was waiting to hear Rosie say, “You made me do this,” and I would get blamed for the whole ugly mess. My mind started racing. This was what she wanted, right? Did I force her to do this? Am I going to turn out like the mom in Black Swan?

We sat in the car for a moment before Rosie’s tears came. She looked at me and said, “Mama, none of the girls my age showed up. I was the only one. And, it was HARD. REALLY HARD.”

I took her hand in mine and wiped her tears. I waited for her to resume her story.

“I couldn’t do some of it and Michele had to help me. I was so scared I made so many mistakes. And, then in the middle, I think I cried when one of the judges pointed at me,” she said as the tears slid down her cheeks.

I sat stone-still not knowing what to say. She continued.

“But then they were so nice.” She took a deep breath. “You know how you have to stand in order? They let me go stand by Kristi and that made it better.” She smiled.

“Rosie,” I said. “I think it’s really crappy that none of the other girls in your classes showed. But guess what? YOU did.”

She held my hand tighter.

“And, you not only showed up, you finished. You know what? You showed them that you wanted it and that you had conviction. And, that says a lot. Even though you were nervous, you did it. You should be so proud of yourself.”

She beamed from ear-to-ear.

“You’re right Mama. I did it! But what if I don’t make it?” she said.

“Then we’ll try another year,” I told her. “The important thing is you showed them that you wanted to be part of Ballet Legacy so much that you’d tough out the audition.”

We left the studio and went for ice cream (which in my opinion can fix anything). We talked a bit more about the audition and she laughed. I was so proud of my dancer for her tenacity (and I breathed  a sigh of relief that I wasn’t a bad mom. This time).

 

 

Yep, I’m a mom, I wear pink and I get paid for it too (or why my new career feels like coming home)

A little over ninety days ago I took the leap out of my  male-dominated career back into the world that I left eight years ago. While lots has changed in almost a decade away from the advertising industry, conceptually much is still the same. So, in many ways, this move for me has been a little bit like coming home. It’s like I took a journey to lots of foreign lands searching for a port in the storm and wound up right where I began.

I saw the post for my position quite by accident (which, in truth there are none in this world). I stumbled upon it one night when I was contemplating a career change and not yet married to the idea. But, I saw the post and quite frankly couldn’t believe my eyes. There was a company out there that wanted someone with marketing, blogging and social media experience that had trained, developed and managed in another industry. And, they wanted a well-connected mom. And, to top it off, they were actually willing to pay someone for the experience. Wow.

I immediately called one of my BFF’s and read the job listing to her. Her response knocked me off my feet.

“That’s awesome. You wrote the description for your perfect job. Now all you have to do is go find it,” she said.

I knew I just did.

So, I did what any crazy, right-brained risk-taker would: I cyberstalked the recruiter and convinced her I was perfect for the position. I rallied my friends and got them ready to give glowing recommendations.  I became 100% committed to the idea of leaving my current life and reentering my past a little older, wiser and with a boatload of social media savvy. After six weeks of interviewing, the job was mine and I was ecstatic.

Ninety days later I still am.

As many of my talented, high-energy counterparts throughout the country will tell you- this job is not easy. Taking a concept that’s worked somewhere else and launching it in a new market is sometimes a daunting task. And, while many facets of this have felt comfortable, there’s so much to juggle and learn that each day is new and fresh and challenging (and for those of you that know me, I love one so bring it on).

I’ve learned a lot the past three months- about business and managing people and life. But mostly, I’ve learned a great deal about myself and the world I’ve just jumped back into that I’d like to share.

  • Mothers are amazing. I will take working with a group of high-energy, creative women any day over a bunch of guys in suits. What a pleasure it’s been.
  • The virtual world stuns me. To be able to work for a company across the country and get things done via the internet every day is astounding to me. God bless everyone at the home office who makes my little part of the world run.
  • Vacation is a word that I’m going to have to learn again now that I’m not self-employed. I owe it to myself (especially since I work over 70 hours a week) to take time for me. What a concept.
  • What I really need to get everything accomplished in one day is a wife. Since that’s not going to happen, I got a cleaning service instead which is much better. They don’t care where I’ve been, who I talk to and how much money I spend.
  • The eight to six routine doesn’t work. I find myself getting tons accomplished at odd times and I’ve learned to roll with it. If I get up at six and work for 1 1/2 hours, then I’ve earned the right to take Rosie to school.
  • I have awesome hair. I realized that the week that I did have time to bathe but not time to blow dry my hair. While I won’t tell you which week it was, no one noticed that I hadn’t washed my hair for a couple of days.
  • Girlfriends are priceless. I’ve hired some incredible women and made new friends here in KC and all across the country. So cool to know that I’m am not only supported here at home but that with the click of a mouse I have a posse of Moms  that are there for me as well.
  • Pink is not just for little girls. It’s for big ones too. And, it’s bright, vibrant and proof that as mommies we can do it all.

Yes, I’ve found my way home. Into a career that’s challenging yet, oh so comfortable. Here’s to amazing things that are yet to be!

 

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