Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Student Moms

If you're a regular reader here you know that I'm a teacher and a mom (obvi), but right now I'm also a student.  Yup, that's right, in addition to commuting to work, working all day, commuting back, making dinner, packing lunch, doing laundry, and squeezing in some quality time with my family I'm also taking courses for my next salary step which requires me to take 30 additional credits above my masters.

If you're a parent and a student I just want to tell you that it's hard.  It's difficult time wise, like squeezing water from a rock you just feel like you don't have anything else to give.  It can be a financial burden, because classes just aren't cheap.  I feel you and I'm right there with you.

Here are some tips that have worked for me in the past:


  • Keep your eye on the prize.  Think about what that degree will reward you with: more money, benefits, upward mobility, a better job, or just plain bragging rights to anyone who said it couldn't be done.
  • Break up the work into reasonable chunks.  This way you don't fall behind and you won't be too overwhelmed.
  • If you get a long block of time, try to get ahead.  I take the majority of my courses online so I'll have my husband or mom take her for an afternoon so I can just work nonstop and try to get ahead.  
  • Let things go.  If you have to put off mopping the floor or doing a load of whites, then so be it.  Mopping and laundry aren't all that exciting anyway.  
Good luck to anyone in the same boat as me.  

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Intimina Laselle Kegel Exerciser Review

All women, especially moms, have learned that doing your Kegel exercises is really important to your pelvic health.  If you're not sure what a Kegel is, it's the muscles that you would use to stop your urine mid-stream.  This comes in handy if you've ever snissed (a crazy phenomenon where you sneeze and a little pee comes out).  Doing your Kegels will strengthen your pelvic muscles and the Laselle Kegel Exerciser from Intimina can help.

From the website: "Laselle Kegel Exercisers offer an easy and effective way of strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor. Worn discreetly inside during daily activities, they give you the most complete intimate workout, helping you to locate your PC muscles (pelvic floor muscles) and providing a solid object for you to flex around for more effective strengthening. Within each exerciser is a weighted ball that responds to your body’s movements, causing gentle kinetic vibrations to help prompt your pelvic floor muscles to contract and relax as you walk around."

I received the Laselle Kegel Exerciser plus the Feminine Moisturizer to lube it up a bit and at first I was a little nervous.  I was supposed to slip that ball into my vag and just let it hang out there?  I figured I would start off slow and just keep it in while I showered.  It didn't hurt at all inserting it, you just need to relax and once it was in it felt almost the same as a tampon.  I've been using the Kegal Exerciser for about a week now and every couple of days I extend the amount of time I leave it in.  This is perfect for someone like me because even though I know I'm supposed to do Kegals everyday, I always forget!

The Lasalle Kegel Exerciser really takes the brain work out of doing your Kegels plus it offers additional resistance to train those pelvic muscles.  They're great for anyone who has had a baby or just wants to keep those muscles healthy.  It's a great gift for yourself and/or at only $12.95 it can be a great gift or stocking stuffer for another woman in your life.  You can purchase it  at www.cvs.com where you can also browse around at some other intimina products aimed at the personal health of women.
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Alive With the Season

Being mindful and present in life is not always without challenges.  It's easy to get lost up there in your head, so that when you're giving your little ones a bath you've already mentally planned out tomorrow night's dinner, wrapped your husband's Christmas gift, and made an appointment for Holiday photos.  But then you never really experience all there is to experience and I'm so guilty of that, which is why focusing on Mindfulness for this month's Happiness Project Theme was important, especially because it's around the holiday season.

Christmas brings along with it many beautiful experiences and memories to be made: sweet smelling Christmas cookies just waiting to be decorated, twinkling lights, trimming Christmas trees, unwrapping a surprise on Christmas morning, the excitement of sitting on Santa's lap, and the rush of little feet down the stairs on Christmas morning.  But it can also bring along a great amount of stress: presents to be bought and paid for, long lines, traffic, where to spend the holidays, one more batch of cookies that has to be made, that last minute gift, and the bills, bills, bills.

But in trying to be mindful this season, I'm making every effort to see Christmas through Isabella's eyes.  To see the magic of it all, to feel the warmth the season brings.  Snuggled up with a cup of hot chocolate (that she doesn't like and it drives me nuts!) with the lights glowing in the background and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on TV.

So when I'm waiting in another never ending line, instead of being frustrated I'm going to try and remember who I'm buying the gift for and imagine their happiness when they receive it.  I'm really feeling the spirit of Christmas alive inside of me.

Here are some pictures of the Santa train we took with Isabella and her cousins.  It was really cute, think Polar Express to the North Pole where they met Santa, Mrs, Claus, had hot chocolate and cookies, and got that special "Believe" Bell.  So fun!






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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Finding My Voice

I was looking through old posts and just kind of browsing through my blog and I had the realization that some of my posts are really awful.  Poorly written, poorly developed, and just not followed through.  I started blogging as a way to get my voice across, a way to connect with other moms over shared experiences.  I feel like I've sort of fallen away from that and become something of a blogging machine.  I became so obsessed with getting out at least 4 posts per week and finding giveaways that you guys would love, that I'm just banging out posts without taking the time to work on my writing craft, to develop relationships with other bloggers and it comes across in my posts.  The ideas are there and I'm not the most awful writer in the world, I just need to put more time into my words instead of rushing them out.

I'm going to focus on developing my voice and putting quality posts out there that really communicate fully what I need to say.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

I am the Mommy, even though I had man hair 
Remember a few weeks ago when I was belly-aching that Isabella never seemed to want me?  Well it turns out I need to eat that post because apparently now I'm the only thing that matters.  I won't lie, it feels really wonderful to be wanted and loved by her.  To freely receive hugs and kisses and "I love you Mommy"'s.  But when she shuns Andy it doesn't seem to send him into a downward spiral of despair and self-loathing...go figure.  But being first can be exhausting.  I'm the only one allowed to make her food, take her to the potty, give her a bath, put her down for a nap.  Maybe that's why Andy doesn't care when he's not #1, he gets a break?  And maybe I need to stop keeping score and getting all dark and twisty when she goes through a phase where she doesn't give a rats ass about me.  I think I just need thicker skin because when it comes down to it...who doesn't love their mama?!

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.  I'll be looking forward to seeing beautiful pictures and reading yummy recipes.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Was Never Cool

I like to wax nostalgic about how I was this really cool chic pre-baby, but I was always a bit nerdy and "uncool" in the traditional sense.  It didn't matter that I hung out with the popular girls or that I had boyfriends, deep inside I was never really cool.

If you ask me if I love the new song by Rihanna there's a good chance I have no idea what you're talking about because I usually listen to traffic/news on the radio or iHeart Radio.

I'm never trendy.  Unless I'm wearing something my sister bought for me.  With the exception of shoes, because I'm all about that.

I love my nose stuck in a book.

I know a lot of random facts and I use a lot of big nerd words.

I've assembled every bit of electronic material that has come into this house...computers, laptops, wireless routers, cell phones, all of it.

So this coolness you see...I'm faking ;)
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Monday, November 21, 2011

My 3rd Eye and 7 Chakras

I'm terrible at meditating.  This month's Happiness Project theme is Mindfulness and one of my resolutions is to meditate.  Basically what I've been doing is trying to set aside 10 minutes each day to sit down and breathe deeply, letting my thoughts just come and go while trying to clear my mind.  Its supposed to be really great for you, Dr. Oz says so!  But here's the one problem...and it's kind of a big one.  I keep falling asleep!  Like passing out somewhere between the deep breaths and quiet thoughts.

Are there any meditating mamas out there who can point me in the right direction?
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Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Blogger Alert

An IRL friend of mine just started a blog called Good in My Feet.  Go check her out and send her some sweet bloggy love.  www.goodinmyfeet.blogspot.com
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Facebook Faux Pas

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You see, facebook is a tricky thing.  On the one hand it brings you together with the kid whose books you dropped  that one time in the library 15 years ago, on the other hand it can be really confusing especially with it's thumbnail profile pictures and the aging memory of it's users, namely me.  Let me tell you a tale.  I get a facebook friend request from a guy that I went to grammar school with, let's call him Thomas Smith I accept and a few moments later I get a message that looks like this:

Thomas Smith: Hey Melissa!  How are you?  I see you have a daughter.  She's beautiful.  Congratulations. How have you been?

So in my mind I remember the pilly little shit this guy was in grammar school.  He was insanely smart and never missed an opportunity to make you feel stupid.  He'd call you out on anything and if you asked him for help he would blow you off.  He was an arrogant little shit head and I hated his guts.  So I'm thinking that he's probably some sort of wizard by now or something so I craft a really great response to make my life sound awesome, because isn't that what facebook really is?  Bumping up the good stuff while sweeping the ugly under the rug so people get a one sided perspective of your life and think you're awesome sauce?!?

And my response was something along these lines:  Hey Thomas.  How have you been? I have a beautiful little girl named Isabella.  I'm teaching the gifted and talented class at a Blue Ribbon school.  My husband and I own a house in Jersey.  What have you been up to?

Thomas Smith:  That's great!  I work as a cashier at the grocery store and as a dishwasher at a restaurant. I have my own place.

Ummm...wait, what?  Upon closer inspection of the thumbnail profile picture which my lazy ass didn't click on before I sent the message and it turns out it wasn't Thomas Smith the doucher from grammar school, but Thomas Schmidt the mentally slow kid who used to hang out with my group of friends.  We used to look out for him.

Head meet keyboard

My next post was way more heartfelt and modest, but OMG, what an ass I am.  Actually it's easier for me to just blame facebook.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Soulful Singer

Hilarious!
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Affirmations

So for this month's Happiness Project theme I'm focusing on Mindfulness...being present in the moment and showing up to actually experience my life.  One thing that's really helped me out a lot so far this month is Affirmations, which is positive sayings that you say over and over again or think over and over again.

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At first I just wanted to be aware of my thoughts.  So without judgment I just noticed the thoughts I was having: "You're so fat" "You're being a really bad mom right now" "You're so lazy" "If you had will power you'd be at your goal weight by now" "That shirt is going to look horrible on you" "I'm so tired" "I'm so overwhelmed" "Did that girl just roll her eyes at me?" "My boss probably thinks I'm an idiot" "Does this person like me?" "That guy is a douche bag"  It's all negative!  I'm way too hard on myself and my thought patterns are atrocious.  I'm of the mind that the thoughts that you put out into the world create your experiences and that if you think it, it will come to manifestation in one way or the other.  Do I really want to live out experiences based out of those thoughts?  I know I need to change the way I think.

And as a bit of an aside, those aren't my only thoughts, I do think a lot of good and happy thoughts as well, but it's the negative ones I'm focusing on because those are the ones I want to change.

Most of those thoughts are playing on auto-pilot but I at one point made the decision to think them and I can make the decision to stop thinking them.  So I'm starting with affirmations.  When I catch myself thinking a thought like, "You're fat" I replace it with something like, "You're body is beautiful and you're working hard to make it healthier" or "This person probably hates me" I'll replace with, "Everyone is friendly".  I also have one or two affirmations that I write down and repeat over and over again for the week before replacing them.

It's really helped a lot.  Thinking happier thoughts has made me feel lighter and happier.
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Oh To Be First

I may have given Isabella life.  Carefully guarded that precious life for 9 months and then labored to bring her into this world, but those days are long gone and I'm no where even close to the top of her list.  She's obsessed with my mother, which I get...ALL kids are obsessed with my mom.  She never tells them no and gives them whatever they want.  She's also really into Andy right now.  When he's home she's all about him and that's it, a true daddy's girl.  But when either of them are around it's not like she just prefers them to me, it's like she hates me.  I can't sing with her or dance with her, I can't take her to the bathroom or help her in her chair.  I can't give her a bath.  I can't even touch the remote control without her saying, "No daddy do it" or "I want Grandma".  She's even gone as far as saying, "I don't like Mommy" or even crying when I tried to give her a bath.  The only time she's ever really nice to me is when it's just the two of us.

I know that kids go through phases and I know that there are times when she does want me, be it few and far between.  I work.  I'm out of the house a lot.  But I won't lie and say that it doesn't hurt or that it makes me worry that maybe I'm failing her in some way.  Maybe she really does hate me.  I don't know, but what I wouldn't give to be first in her life in some way.  It breaks my heart.
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Bad Case of Bitch Face

I can't help it!  When I'm not engaged or I'm lost in thought I get this really nasty bitch face.  But it's not my fault.  It's just the way my face is.  My entire life has been plagued by statements like, "smile" "you're so serious" "is everything ok?" "what's wrong?"  "are you upset?" I mean what am I supposed to do walk around with a crazy plastered smile on my face? I can't help it that my face is serious looking.

Do you have this problem?  Are you unjustly discriminated against because of your bitch face? Maybe we should start a support group.
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Neverland

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I was watching Peter Pan Return to Neverland (or something to that affect) the other day with Isabella, or rather I was watching it and she was smooshing play doh into the carpet and at the end of it Peter Pan sees Wendy all grown up and she tells him that she never stopped believing in him, to which he responds with a, "well why did you leave in the first place dumb ass you're all different now" and she says "I had to grow up."

I found this exchange to be extraordinarily profound.  I think because for the first time in a long time I'm actually feeling my age and I'm finally accepting of the fact that we can't be young and carefree forever, that, in fact, we all must eventually grow up and leave Neverland, which makes me really sad.  I mean being a grown up is kind of cool sometimes, like you can have breakfast for dinner whenever you want and you can pick out your own clothes and if another grown up yells at you you can sure as shit yell back. That's cool stuff.  But sometimes being a grown up kinda blows.  Like you have to get up and go to work everyday, you have to stick to a budget, you have to make schedules, try not to get too fat, make time for friends, get wrinkles, get ugly, get old.  That's some tough stuff.

When I was a kid I was really imaginative and creative.  I would read a book or see a movie and become so inspired that I had to create something just as powerful.  You know that feeling of inspiration that just fills you up and consumes you...makes you feel alive.  I feel like the older I get, and the further away I get from the proverbial Neverland, the harder it is for me to feel that sort of inspiration.  The kind of inspiration that makes you think you can take over the world.  I miss it.  I just feel that I'm so bogged down and overwhelmed and overstressed and overtired that when that feeling comes it's fleeting because I don't have time to nurture it.

The thing about Neverland is that you had to choose to leave it, but here time kind of pushes us out of it. And rightly so, because don't you just have to give the old side eye when you see a 40 year old dressing and acting like a teenager or a 50 year old man with a 20 year old girlfriend.  Puh-lease.  But I do think that keeping a bit of childhood, of innocence, of inspiration, of being carefree is important lest we all become insufferable drolls which is where I feared I was heading.

So the moral of the story is that Disney Movies can really mind fuck you.
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Monday, November 7, 2011

My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbook Software Review and Giveaway

I have a new obsession...Scrapbooking!  I know, I know I'm not crafty in the least bit.  I can't sew a button or cut in a straight line.  That's fine with My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking, because it does it all for you.  

My Memories Suite is the #1 rated scrapbooking software and with good reason.  You can create a scrapbook in minutes with ready made templates and embellishments or you can custom design your own templates and layouts.  It's simple enough for beginners, like me, but offers enough customization for veteran scrapbookers.  It comes pre-loaded with design templates, embellishments, word art, etc. but they have an online store where you can purchase additional scrapbooking kits.  They have many options that are entirely free of charge to download!  It also offers interactive features like video, narration, and music.  There's also a ton of ways to share your scrapbook once it's complete.  You can print from home, save it to a jpeg (bet you didn't even think I knew what that was huh?), have it printed out from the company as an album, as a calendar, a card, you can burn it to a DVD, send it to iMovie or PC equivalent, or send it to your iPod.  Think of all the great gifts you could create or just be selfish and keep it all to yourself.  You can even embed links in your interactive scrapbook.  So if you were sharing a Christmas Scrapbook you could link to a Christmas cookie recipe.

And it truly couldn't be easier to use.  I'm a self proclaimed luddite, but it's really user friendly.  I was able to figure it out in minutes, but then spent about a half an hour just playing around with it to see what it offered.  The only drawback I could find was that I couldn't access my iPhoto library from the software, I had to move the videos/photos I wanted to use from iPhoto to either my documents or the desktop, but it really wasn't that big of a deal.  Especially when you look at what I created.  This is only a 6 page ready made template and it took me about 30 minutes.  There's video and music that you can't see because I saved it as a jpeg.  But just look how awesome it is!










You can buy My Memories Suite 2 HERE for only $39.97  Use my code STMMMS1356 for a $10 discount which means you can get the whole thing for only $29.97!  Or you can win it right here by entering the giveaway. Make sure you leave a separate comment for each entry and make sure that your e-mail address is in at least one of your entries so I have a way to contact you if you win.  This giveaway will run until Wednesday November 16th 2011 at 11:59 pm.  The winner will be notified by e-mail.

Mandatory Entry: Visit My Memories Suite and tell me something you like about them (1entry)

Additional entries:

1.  Be a public follower of my blog or tell me that you already are (1 entry)

2.  Like My Memories Suite on Facebook (1 entry)

3.  Write on My Memories Suite Wall saying that you hope you win the giveaway from www.completelyeclipsed.com (2 entries)

4.  Follow My Memories Suite on Twitter  (1 entry)

5.  Blog about this giveaway (5 entries)

6.  Grab my button or tell me that you already have it (3 entries)

7.  Follow the My Memories Suite Blog   (1 entry)

Good luck to all who enter!

I was provided with a free download of the MMS software to that I might be able to provide an honest review

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This giveaway is closed and the winner has been notified.  Thank you for all who entered and remember you can download the software with my code on the right side bar for a $10 discount.  
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Friday, November 4, 2011

November's Happiness Theme...Mindfulness

I know I usually post the Happiness Project posts on Monday, but Monday is already the 7th so I feel like that's kind of gipping my out of a week.  This month I'm focusing on Mindfulness, meaning really being aware and conscious of the present moment and of life in general.

I have a big challenge tacking this month in staying in the present moment...I'm a serial multi-tasker.  I will make dinner, write a blog post, and set up my lunch for tomorrow simultaneously.  This drags me away from staying in the moment.  Sometimes when I'm particularly busy or overwhelmed I'll be reading a bedtime story with Isabella and I'll be mentally running through my to-do list.  I know I need to work on mindfulness.  Another challenge is that I can easily become lost in looking forward to future events or drown in worry and anxiety, neither of which is entirely productive.

So here are my resolutions for the month to help me stay more focused on the here and now before it's gone for good:

Meditate: It sounds a little hokey I'll give it to you and feel free to insert eye roll ::here::, but I think it's a wonderful idea to find a few minutes each day to sit in silence.  Where it's just quiet, no TV set blaring, no cell phone beeping, and ideally no nagging thoughts running through my head.  Just a few moments at the start or end of the day that are mine and mine alone to just sit and be.

Research: Eckhart Tolle, Louise Hay, Richard Dwyer are just some of the authors that I've read in the past that deal with new age spirituality and being in the present moment.   I always feel better when I read these books as it gives me more of a framework for it.  I'm a person who appreciates structure and how-to's so reading books on mindfulness will surely help to boost mine.

Keep a food journal: So many times I'm in such a rush eating my food that I barely register it's taste.  Or while I'm eating a piece of chocolate I'm thinking that this will never be enough to satisfy my sweet tooth and I'll need another one, before I've even finished chewing.  Food can be a sensory experience in and of itself and I want to slow down and enjoy it and be mindful of the bites, licks and tastes that I consume that are causing the numbers on the scale to creep up.  Writing it down will help...Dr. Oz says so.

So this month I'm going to be mindful, I'm going to be present, I'm going to experience my life and not just hurry through it.
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

When the Mask Comes Off

Now that Halloween is winding down and the costumes and make up and masks are getting put away and we are no longer pretending to be someone else, the question arises...who am I really?  Don't go rolling your eyes, this isn't another post where I whine about mourning for my pre-baby self.  This post isn't really like that.  Let me explain.

Think about it.  How much of our adult lives do we spend pretending?  We're all, "Hello, how are you? Glad to hear it.  I'm fine thanks for asking.  Have a great day."  It's so trite, but a necessary part of being in the real world.  We act one way with our boss, another way with colleagues.  With one group of friends maybe we're a little bit reserved...a watered down version of ourselves.  Maybe with our close friends and family we can really let ourselves loose, if we're lucky.

It begs the question, who am I?  I have a fairly decent grasp of who I am as a person.  I know what I like...I know what I don't like.  But I spend so much time wondering and worrying about what Joe Schmo thinks about me and trying to act the part that sometimes I really just lose sight of myself.

When I was younger I used to be really outgoing and friendly and now I'm all reserved, shy, and awkward.  Has time and experience just morphed me?  Or is a really friendly person trapped down deep inside, hidden by a bad case of bitch face and idle small talk?  I don't know.  But I love being in an atmosphere of growth so I definitely plan to find out who I am when the lights are out and the masks are off.
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treat

Hope yours were full of sweet treats and very few tricks.  And I'm loving all the cutie pics of the little ones dressed up!

Isabella had a great time trick or treating with her cousins in Brooklyn.  Andy brought her to meet me at work which was nice.  It was chilly out, but we still had a good time.  Her cousin Dani loves to hold her hand.





And a little treat for mom...hot apple cider with my main man Jack.
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Guest Post: How to Choose Safe Toys for your Newborn

This is a guest post by Christina Jones from http://jonesbabylove.blogspot.com You can also connect with Christina on Twitter @Christinajon3s .  I received no compensation for this post.  

Image via Flickr
Whether you are becoming a parent for the first or the third time, you always want what is best for your baby. This concept stays true throughout their lifetime, even after the kids move out and become independent. However, it is particularly prevalent during infancy, when children are at their most vulnerable. While feeding and sleeping come naturally, elements like finding safe toys are often overlooked.
Toys are an important aspect of an infant's growth and development. However, aside from choosing options that are engaging, choosing a toy for its safety value is important as well. Fortunately, there are many options available in finding safe baby toys for your newborn. Below are a few of the most popular methods that can also save money.
After determining a source, consider some of the examples below of popular baby-safe toys. Each of these types of toys is both engaging for your infant and safe. 
Velcro Based Attachments with Mirrors
Image via Flickr
Velcro based mirror attachments are a popular choice for many reasons. To begin with, they are versatile in how they can be implemented. You can generally place them on anything from a car seat to a crib, ensuring your baby can enjoy them in a number of situations and environments. Additionally, they are manufactured for durability to the common wear and tear associated with heavy infant use, including mirrors that cannot be broken or shattered.
Baby Safe Books
Image via Flickr
Baby safe books generally consist of vividly colored picture books that are manufactured in cardboard and other durable materials that cannot be torn easily. There are also options that include minute padding for the front and back covers that provide extra cushioning for your little one.
Plush Toys with Baby Safe Eyes
Image via Flickr
Plush toys are a popular option for infants. However, some stuffed animals can pose a safety hazard to babies that parents are often unaware of. The most prevalent of these hazards consists of the various types of eyes used on plush toys. Protruding eyes that are hard like a marble are among the most unsafe types of plush toy options available. Instead, look for options that use fabric based eyes that rest flush on the face of the plush toyThese options drastically reduce the potential for choking that is a common problem with protruding eyes.  
In all, bringing baby home is a fun and exciting time for parents. Ensuring your new little addition has all the engaging toys and accessories is an important part of their overall development. However, it is important to consider the safety of the toys you are providing. Following the basic guidelines outlined above is a simple and effective way to start out on the right foot.

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