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Friday, April 10, 2015

TODAY Parenting Team: Time-Saving Tips? Can someone clue me in?

I must have missed the boat somewhere... Or maybe there was a parenting book (one of the millions) that I still haven't gotten around to reading? Because for the last 10 months-- since the birth of my daughter-- I have considered it a miracle that I walk out the door in the morning fully-clothed. Possibly even with matching shoes.

And I thought Pregnancy was exhausting! That's just the warm-up people.
Don't get me wrong: It's literally the BEST time of your life watching your child grow and learn and wonder.. and eventually wander (into the dog food bowl)
But from here on out... its GO time.
Dirty Diaper at 3am? GO!
Hungry? GO! 
Crawling? No, don't go in there! stop!! don't eat that!!
Teething during your latest Housewives episode? That's why DVRs were invented. 

Say goodbye to sleeping in on Saturdays... and farewell to Saturday nights out with friends.
It's not a bad thing. Those moments with your child are precious and each one is one-of-a-kind. Who would want to miss all of that?
Not me! Hence... my dilemma.
How do people do it?
How do they balance kid (or kids! AH!)? Work? Exercise? Social Life? Sleep?
How do they find time to eat?

So... for this topic-- I'm throwing up a white flag. I surrender. I'm clueless. I need help (probably professional)
At this point... my "time saving tips" are forgetting to feed myself and cutting back on me-time -- and some sacrifices in the 'beauty' department.

Personal Hygiene takes a back seat:

This morning I literally had poop down my leg.
My daughter sneezed and it shot right out the side of her diaper and down my leg onto my foot.
The old me would have squealed like a pig, put the baby in my husband's hands and jumped in the shower.
The new me? a few baby wipes and I was good to go. (luckily, this all happened before I got dressed for work-- so you see, it wasn't THAT gross. right? )

When my daughter was "new"--- AKA for the first 7 months of her life--- showering was a luxury. I was tired. She was fussy. She was hungry. She was dirty. The dogs needed to go out. The laundry needed to be moved around and folded. I had to go to work in 15 minutes.
The excuses and responsibilities continue to pile up... and yes, you find ways to save time. And for me... that was not washing my hair.
Dry Shampoo became by best friend. I would wash my hair twice a week (maybe 3 times if we had a special event). It wasn't cute... no. It was a mess. But I embraced it because it saved me 15 minutes in the shower and 30 minutes with a blow dryer & straightener. And that time is precious. That's the difference between the dishes getting unloaded from the dishwasher. Or throwing another load of poop stained clothes in the wash with a cup of bleach. Time is precious. Sacrifices must be made.

Say Goodbye to your Social Life:

I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen some friends -- friends who I used to see daily/weekly-- since having my daughter. That's not entirely their fault. When  you add a child to the equation, everything changes.
When your friend sends out a group text about a Birthday Celebration Downtown next weekend:
Other people: "Sure", "H*** YEA!", "Lets get wasted!"
Parents: "Let me see if my babysitter is free that night."
Talk about a buzz kill.

What's the secret? What's the "happy medium"? When is it okay? It continuously creates a you or me issue--- which one of us stays home with the baby? The guilt is compounding because not only are you missing those one-of-a-kind moments with your baby... your partner is also stuck at home missing out on whatever fun you're having. I don't think a social life should be the sacrifice but once your priorities shift, it becomes something less important. But its still important for life to have balance. Can someone clue me in?
Disclaimer: I will admit that my situation is a little more demanding than most. My husband is in the military and has a demanding work schedule that does require him to leave overnights, weekends and sometimes weeks at a time for training. You never appreciate your partner more than when he leaves you for 6 weeks with a 6 week old baby. I literally felt like I spent all day, every day washing baby bottles. It was awful-- but we all survived just fine. (And we will be doing it again this summer when my husband leaves me alone with a 1-year-old for 6 weeks. shew! I'm gonna need a therapist)

A Shout Out To Working Parents:

It doesn't get easier. Even as the kid grows up and learns to wipe his/her own butt... there's more to do. more places to go. more to see. more to learn. more to explain.
And working parents... sheesh! They deserve a round of applause.
(please, Stay at Home Moms: Do not think that this is bashing your position or decision. In my case, I'm jealous of those of you who have the ability to do that. However, you have to admit-- those working parents seem to make it look easy. and it is NOT!)
Working parents somehow manage a 24/7, zero pay job (aka: Parenting)... on top of a full or part time job with its own demands and restrictions and rules.
Getting yourself ready for work in the morning takes time and energy-- Try doing that with a baby crawling around your house and trying to pull everything onto the floor-- including your hair dryer, coffee cup, shoes and breakfast.
And when you get home in the evening exhausted from a long, stressful day and you're just looking forward to kicking your feet up and eating some dinner-- Sure. After you pick the kid up from daycare, bring her home, put her dirty clothes in the laundry, check her diaper, feed her, change her, entertain her, give her a teether because she's fussy, give her a bedtime bottle and rock her to sleep. I haven't eaten dinner until 9:30pm before. It happens.

But I refuse to give those moments up.
I could easily plan a wine date with friends after work and have my husband take care of the baby. (and I have done that) Or we could even pick her up from daycare and drop her at my mom's for the evening if we wanted a dinner date. But in the end, I'm losing hours with my daughter.
I already have to give her up from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday. 
All of those smiles and giggles and milestones-- I give those to her teachers at Daycare. And yes, they love her. And yes, they take such good care of her. But I'm jealous. I want to see all of those moments. I want to laugh and play with her. I'm not willing to give my few, precious hours up for a few (overpriced) glasses of wine-- even if the company is FABULOUS (as my friends are)

So. For all of my TODAY PARENTING TEAM Friends and Comrades:
Please do share. Tell me your secret. How is it possible to live a "normal life" and be a parent? Is there such a thing anymore as "normal"? How can I get used to my new normal without being completely shut off from the outside world?

Mama "I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day"

With Love, 

[[this was another entry for the TODAY Parenting Team Blog. The Challenge was to share your time-saving tips with other parents. Please go to their Blog site and VOTE for my entry so its featured on their website and maybe even the show! thanks. love you all]]

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Why I hope my Daughter goes to a Small Liberal Arts College in the South.

My daughter is only 10 months old.
But like any parent, my mind tends to wander down the road a little bit-- wondering how tall she will be? What kind of talents will she have? What Sport will she play? What kind of person will she become?
And yes... What kind of college will she go to?

When I think back on the person I was growing up, and heading into High School -- I'm actually surprised that my choices and decisions led me to the college I chose.
But I would do it all the same if I had another chance.

It was athletics that sent me down Interstate 81 to find my "soon-to-be Home". I was recruited for Volleyball by probably a half-dozen different small colleges across Virginia. They each had pros and cons. ( I wont get into those here because you never know who might be offended when I call *********** a college full of **********************. I would truly hate to offend anyone.)
But I will admit that the Final Match-up was between Mary Washington University and Emory & Henry College.
Who knows where my life would have ended up if I had just chosen to drive North on Interstate 81, instead of south. WAAAYYY South.
But if I could do it again I would do it the same. In the words of the ever-so-wise Corey Smith.

So... What would I say to my daughter in 17 years and 2 months when she is facing this dilemma? What kind of wisdom could I impart? What have my years and years of experience taught me that I can use to help my sweet little girl find the right college for her?
Let's give this a good ol' college try...

1. Despite what you may think... College is about LEARNING.

It is easy for me to say that now-- being that I graduated 5 years ago-- but I think it is something to note. Obviously the point of any college is to LEARN something, but each of us learns in different ways and we need to make sure to take that into consideration before choosing a school---- because I would hate to waste $$$$$$$ for you to fail out or worse; not learn anything.

For some, they find it best to sit in a gigantic classroom full of hundreds of other students while a professor paces in the front trying to explain some theory or math problem with his/her hands.

For others, that type of environment would be a constant distraction (ME!) and does not give the kind of time and attention that you need to learn (ME!).
There's nothing to be ashamed of.
If I had gone to Virginia Tech with my Best Friend I would have failed out. I would have missed at least 75% of my classes Freshman year... just because I COULD and there was no one to notice or get me in trouble with my "mommy".

But when you go to a small Liberal Arts College with an average of 20 people in a class AND a pretty strict Attendance Policy-- you GO to class.
You drag your hungover butt out of bed and walk your Pajama-wearing ASS up the hill to M.S.(a class building) for your 8:00 am Intro to Political Science class every Tuesday & Thursday.
No matter what. Or else.
Seriously, don't mess with Dr. Lane. I do mean, or else!

2. The Rural-er the Better.

Doesn't make sense to you does it? 
No, I don't want my daughter to be living in the middle of a cotton field with a barn for a dormitory. But.... Big Cities have their charm... AND their drawbacks.

A) Cost of Living: I lived in a 4 Bedroom house (utilities included) for $300 a month in college. Find me something like that in Richmond. Or Charlotte. Or even Roanoke. 
(RIP Glade Spring KPhi House. You are missed. I know your new family loves you very much. You can tell from the brand new (replaced) front porch, paint, and yard with flowers... not trash and beer cans.)
B) T-R-O-U-B-L-E: (Intentional Travis Tritt reference) Cities= Bars, Clubs, etc. When you are 30 minutes from the closest "club" it keeps you a little bit more restricted and you can't make that ride allllll the waaaaaayyy to Bristol every time you want to have fun. You save that for "special occasions". (Hence: The College House Parties. Don't Worry. It's coming)
C) Lack of Retail Opportunities:  She is my daughter. So, genetically she will not be able to avoid any opportunity to BUY SOMETHING.
And my mom learned that lesson the hard way when I charged $$$$ (mucho money) on my "student card" in the Bookstore for "school supplies" 
AKA: Lots of Vera Wang, DVDs of Laguna Beach Season 1 & 2, Every single pair of sweatpants available, some snacks and candy for the dorm (bc my roommate ate all my shit!) and some other overpriced yet very adorable E&H gear. 
Lets just say that card was CUT OFF real fast.

3. College Drive.

At every school there is a place/area/community, where people go on the weekends to hang out or know they can find the best parties and the best party people.
It's not always called College Drive, obviously... but at Emory, it was!

My Freshman year was spent at "College Drive" (obviously I'm talking about a house not an entire street. Just to be clear for those of you non-WASPS reading).
That was where my friends would go every week (or day) to hang out, play cards, throw parties, play beer pong, etc. My Freshman year-- if you wanted to know where everyone was on a Saturday night... it was College Drive.
College Drive eventually evolved into a few other "locations" -- at one point including my Senior Year residence --- which after my graduation suffered a sad fate. Luckily, it was adopted by a nice family and is living a lovely life. With a new front porch.
... oh, shit. yeah. THE POINT....
The point of the story... and "College Drive"... is that there is somewhere to be social.
You may not have bars and clubs like bigger cities...  but at those places you're not just hanging out with people your age-- You're hanging out with ol' Cowboy Mark, and that creepy toothless guy eyeing your friend.

At "College Drive" you meet your classmates. The soccer team. The drunkest girl in school. (and some other classifications that I wont go into)

I made some of my fondest memories over the years at these parties.
I met my best friends. I lost friends. I saw some HILARIOUS stuff and I saw some scary and serious stuff. I cried. I laughed. I danced. I puked. I rallied. I almost got arrested (a few times actually).
But in the end, I remember those days/nights/weekends fondly. And I get sentimental and nostalgic whenever they come up. (like now... I'm in the mood for a College Drive basement party full of Boones Farm (ugh. nevermind), Rap Music (or random oldies) on the Stereo speakers and a set of wooden steps that someone ALWAYS fell down. Every. Single. Time!)

4. You paid WHAT to join a Sorority?

This is not Greek bashing.
I get it, people. I joined a sorority in college. Most of my friends were also in sororities in college. But Greek Organizations get a lot of flak for, quote, "paying for friends".
Well let me tell you... the most I paid was $100 for my 1st Semester Dues... and the rest was all alcohol and parties, people.

If my sorority tried to charge me THOUSANDS in dues -- I would have told them I could find a cheaper place to drink. Bye, Felicia.
I worked part-time at Chili's and my mom was NOT paying my bills (at least not all of them-- after that whole "bookstore" issue).
So I am glad that I went to a small school that not only embraced a very diverse and PASSIONATE Greek Life... It was also accessible and affordable to everyone.

5. Your Professors Become Mentors and Friends.

I not only respected my Professors in college, I admired them. I looked up to them.  And I consider myself lucky to continue to call many of them friends to this very day.
I can't imagine Professors at larger schools being able to connect like that with every student in a classroom of hundreds. It would be exhausting. 
I even had some of my teachers at our wedding -- my first college professor (and my husband's advisor), Dr. Roper, even officiated our Wedding. He and his wife drove all the way back to Emory from South Carolina for the ceremony. I adore him.
Those are relationships that I will cherish for the rest of my life. All of my professors were more to me than teachers. They taught me more than just what was in the textbook-- they taught me about life. They acted as my sounding board, my guidance counselor, my strong-handed reminder, my moral compass, my advisor, my confidant, and my friend.
Of course I want that kind of guidance for my daughter. If I can't be there with her every step of the way, I would like to know that there are people looking out for her the way my professors looked out for me.

6. You will find a place to call Home.

Please don't get me wrong. I do not finish my workday and tell people I'm going to my "current place of residence"-- back to good ol' Franklin County.
Home isn't just an address-- its a feeling. Home is where you can be whoever, say whatever, and do whatever you feel is right and comfortable. It is where you can be yourself, no matter who is around. It is where your heart feels whole.

It may shock some people to know that even 5 years after walking across that stage and earning my diploma-- I still consider Emory & Henry College my home. Even though I managed to set down roots in another area-- I still get the same warm, fuzzy feeling when I pull off Exit 26, turn right down the road and through the stone entrance to campus. My heart is whole. My mind is calm.
And nothing has ever had that type of calming impact on me in my life (and some of you may know I'm a little hyperactive-- so calm is a good thing).
If someone asked me to "Envision" my happy place-- like that stupid banking commercial-- it would be Emory. Next to the Duckpond, walking the brick pathways, through the trees....
And I know a lot of people who feel that way.

From my Wedding Day. In case you couldn't tell. 

Why else would a campus with LESS than 1,000 currently enrolled students on a daily basis OVERFLOW with THOUSANDS of Alumni on Homecoming weekend?
And some of those people are in their "later years"... (and by that I mean super old.) 
What other college has that type of commitment to a weekend of Football? (And lets just say E&H hasn't attracted a crowd for their Football successes over the years... but that does seem to be improving!! GO WASPS!)

And I have been to so many E&H Alumni Weddings on campus and in the chapel.
It's not because it is cheap and it is not because its an easy-to-access location. No.

It is because this is home. This is where you want to start your life. This is where you want to bring your kids. This is where your heart feels whole.

Why wouldn't I want my daughter to find a place like that? 
And I really hope she does.

With Love, 

(Below is a shot of our Wedding Day at the Chapel on campus. This image means more to me than any photo from that entire day. This is where my heart is. A big Thank You goes to my amazing photographer Olivia for capturing this moment that I cherish.)