A Little ‘Crazy’ Doesn’t Hurt

I’m sure you’ve all seen those spouting water fountains where kids love to play. We have a popular one here at our local outdoor mall and my son has always wanted to join in and splash around with the other kiddos. But since I’m a self-accepted germophobe, I’ve NEVER let my son play in that water because I always thought the water was not clean. Who wants to play in recycled water?!?

Even when Evan would plead with those adorable eyes and respectfully ask me, “Peas, Mama, wata peas!”, I always stood firm and told him that he couldn’t play in the water fountain and explained to him that the water was dirty. It broke his heart every time.

But I did something crazy recently. Something totally out of character. Frankly, I don’t even know who that mother is in the picture above, who seems to be having a BLAST playing in that same “dirty recycled water”. Who is that crazy woman?!?

Oh, that’s me : )

When we arrived at the mall that day, my son already knew where he wanted to go. He led me by the hand to the water fountain area where sure enough, there were already a dozen kids playing and having a blast. Evan of course begged me to let him go in. I was feeling especially generous on that beautiful warm day so I thought, okay, a little “toe dip” would be fine.

But as soon as I let Evan’s feet touch the mini water geyser, that was it. I had lost my battle against avoiding that darn dirty water fountain. Of course, some of the water sprayed onto me too and before I knew it, I was in on the water fountain party. Evan was soaked, I was soaked, and we were running rampantly all over that water fountain. We went under the shooting water, over it, through it, around it… and my goodness, playing in that recycled water turned out to be so much fun!

While all the other (responsible and prepared) mothers were sitting on the side, shaded under the tables with umbrellas, prepped with sunblock, towels, change of clothes and sunhats, I on the other hand was running around with my son and playing IN the water fountain with all the other kids.

Even though Evan had a change of clothes and a fresh diaper handy, I myself had no change of clothes. I had to recruit my cousin (Thank you Ninang Mo) to go to Macy’s and find us a towel to dry off. Then I had to quickly shop at H&M completely soaked and dripping wet to buy new and dry clothes. I’m sure just like the moms who were leering at me at the sidelines, the other shoppers and workers at H&M probably thought I was crazy too.

But you know what? I did have a moment of temporary insanity there. But that’s alright, yeah it was crazy, and I’m glad it happened because my son had so much fun and I’m so happy I was able to give him that gift. I learned that day that sometimes it’s okay to be unrestrained, it’s good to be spontaneous. It reminded me how important it is to have fun WITH Evan.

Being a stay at home mom doesn’t always have to be about complying to the daily routine and tedious schedule of cleaning, cooking, laundering, etc… I can’t forget that while cleanliness is important, creating fun memories with my son is more valuable and meaningful in building a close relationship with him.

I love seeing my son’s face when it’s filled with complete joy. But I love it even more, when I have the same look on my face because we’re experiencing that same thrilling moment together.

So mommies, I encourage you next time you schedule a fun activity for your kids, get your hands dirty and join in on the action. I assure you, you won’t regret it : )

DISCUSSION

  • What was a spontaneous and fun memory you had with your child(ren)?

Share your story, your story matters.

Heavenly Spa Pedicure

As a continuation of my birthday celebration, my longtime friend Michael and I went to Coldwater Creek on Saturday morning for a spa pedicure.

Do yourself a favor, if you haven’t had the chance to go to Coldwater Creek for their pedicures, you must must must go!

I guarantee you, you’ve never had a real pedicure, until you go to Coldwater Creek!

Their spa pedicures are heavenly.

When you visit Coldwater Creek’s spa, you can expect the best: clean surroundings, friendly and professional customer service, beautiful relaxation room to lounge in (with complementary teas) before and after your pedicure, plush reclined chairs, warm towels on your legs and feet, soothing music, wonderful aromatherapy scents, foot scrubs, deep massages, eye masks, and best of all, dim lights, privacy and silence!

The whole experience at Coldwater Creek’s spa was so relaxing. Michael and I felt totally rejuvenated after our spa visit.

As a stay at home mom, it’s not often that I get to treat myself.  I think it’s important for us moms to find ways to recharge. It’s amazing what a couple of hours with good friends at a spa can do for your spirits!

I already have an appointment booked next month. I will try their facial and massage next!

Can’t wait  : )

DISCUSSION:

  • How do you unwind and pamper yourself from your busy schedule?
  • What are your favorite spa treatments?

Share your story, your story matters.

Have Fun Instead

Saturday was supposed to be laundry day.

As soon as I woke up on Saturday morning, I was already consumed with having to figure out the logistics of how I was going to do laundry by myself at the laundrymat. My husband had to work so I was left to my own devices to figure out how I was going to haul my heavy hampers into our Jeep, then wash and dry and fold 6 loads of laundry – all with a very energetic toddler in tow. It was certainly gonna be a long, arduous and challenging day. But I’ve grown to accept that laundry days are always tough, especially with having to wrangle my very adventurous son at the same time.

Saturday was supposed to be laundry day.

At least, I thought so….

I was sipping my morning coffee, obsessing over my laundry logistics for the day, when I saw Evan’s tiny fingers slowly open our bedroom door. Then I heard his toddler footsteps running towards me. As soon as he saw me, his sleepy eyes smiled and his entire face glowed. He opened his arms, invited an embrace and said, “Huck Mommy, Huck”. I hugged him warmly and kissed his sweet smelling hair. Then, he took my face, placed both his hands on each of my cheek and kissed me. After, he tucked his head inside my neck, in that perfect space between my jaw and shoulder, and there he rested peacefully for five long blissful minutes.

At that moment, Saturday was no longer laundry day.

I quickly abandoned my obsessions with getting laundry done that day, along with all the other chore-related items on my to-do-list.

I told Evan, “Son, we’re going to have a lot of FUN today.”

Evan woke up so sweetly that I thought, why should I dampen this beautiful sunny day with doing laundry?!? Having clean clothes is nice, but having fun with my son is more important.

So instead of a surely stressful day at the laundrymat, here’s what we did:

  • I took Evan to his cousins’ house for a play date.
  • We took a long morning walk around my in-laws’ serene neighborhood.
  • We browsed through yard sales.
  • Evan rode on the back of his cousin’s tricycle.
  • We ran around at the park.
  • We sat by the water and watched ducks, turtles and geese.
  • Evan went on the swings and said “weeee!” every time I pushed him : )
  • Evan romped all over the playground.
  • We ate noodles, salad and chips for lunch.
  • We visited my Aunt.
  • Evan napped for 2 hours.
  • We ate chocolate oatmeal cookies for our afternoon snack.
  • We had a veggie pizza for dinner.
  • We watched the Laker game with Daddy.

So it wasn’t laundry day after all. It was a full day, a spontaneous day, a perfectly fun day. We didn’t even plan any of these activities. We just set out with the promise that no matter what we ended up doing, we were going to have a FUN day.

I learned over the weekend that sometimes, it’s okay to not have the laundry done as scheduled. It’s okay to abandon chores for the sake of having quality time with my son. I shouldn’t always obsess over having a neat and tidy house. Taking care of chores is important, but having fun-filled days with Evan is definitely more important.

DISCUSSION:

  • What fun activities did you and your family enjoy over the weekend?

Share your story, your story matters.

My Non-Financial Contribution as a SAHM

The other night I read a wonderful blog called Purposeful Homemaking in which Becky, the writer, posted a thought-provoking question that struck me.

In one of Becky’s recent blogs titled, “The Measure of Success” she asks in introspection, “Will I look back on my life someday and feel I was successful even though I didn’t contribute a paycheck to the family?”

The question prompted me to ask the same of myself, “Can I honestly say that I lead a fulfilling and successful life as a stay at home mom even if I don’t have a career outside the home?”

I also reflected, “Do I still provide a significant contribution to my family even though I don’t bring home a paycheck?”

Without any regrets, my answer when I contemplated on these questions is YES, I feel fulfilled and successful as a stay at home mom. YES, I give a significant contribution in my home even though I don’t bring home a paycheck.

I feel fulfilled and successful as a stay at home mom because I get to pursue my life’s calling and passion everyday. Instead of cultivating a career in the workforce, I’m cultivating my home and family life.

I’m deeply grateful to have found God’s calling and that He has called me to be primarily at home for my family.

Tending to my home, my husband, and our son, is immeasurably more important and rewarding to me than earning money. If I’m being honest with myself, the things that I would be working for outside the home, just to earn another paycheck are exactly just that – things.

I measure my personal success by how much attention I give my family, not by how much money I bring home. Moreover, I would much rather place my daily efforts inside my home, rather than any job outside my home. Being always available and visible for my husband and our son far outweighs what a secondary paycheck could ever provide for my family.

Although my responsibilities as a stay at home mom yields no monetary rewards, I am enriched in other and more important ways. I take pride that from the moment our son Evan opens his eyes, to the moment he rests his head at night, I am the one who cares for him. I would never want to place our son in a daycare or have someone else raise our son, just to have another income. Being our son’s main caretaker is profoundly more significant to me than money or the pursuit of a career.

I’m so thankful to my very hard working husband, Randy, for providing for all our needs. He works long shifts everyday so that I am able to stay home and care for our son. I must also note that my husband has never made me feel inadequate for not having a job outside the home. Quite the opposite actually, he is so appreciative and supportive about my role as a stay at home mom.

I’m grateful that my husband makes me feel valuable even though I don’t contribute a paycheck for our family. I never once felt the need to apologize to him for not supplementing our income by going to work. We both understand the greater value in me being a stay at home mom. Randy is so sweet, every night he thanks me for taking care of him and our son and for keeping our family and home life in order. I feel very blessed to have an understanding, supportive and appreciative husband.

I understand that every family has a different financial situation with different priorities, so having a stay at home parent may not be ideal in other family dynamics.

But as for me and my husband, we have accommodated our lifestyle so that we are able to be comfortable on one income. Let me write that again, we have accommodated our lifestyle so that we are able to be comfortable on one income. Not the other way around – my husband and I refuse to accommodate our family life around having a dual income.

As a stay at home mom, I may not earn a paycheck. But I believe I earn something better, I earn the privilege and rewards of being an available and visible mother to our son and wife to my husband. This is infinitely more fulfilling for me and valuable to my family than any out-of-the-home job could ever offer.

I may not provide my family with money, but I am happier to provide my family with attention.

I celebrate all of you other stay at home moms who have sacrificed your careers and earnings so that you may foster a more positive, peaceful and well-attended family and home life.

She asks not how her behavior may please a stranger, or how another’s judgment may approve her conduct; let her beloved be content and she is glad.”- Charles Spurgeon

DISCUSSION:

  • What are the non-monetary values that you get to contribute to your family as a full time stay at home mom?

Share your story, your story matters.

Weaning a Toddler

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in several days. I’m in the middle of weaning our 20 month old toddler and it’s been quite a fitful week!

BREAK FROM BREASTFEEDING

As I mentioned in a previous post about expanding our family, my husband and I would like to get pregnant again, and we decided it would be best for my son to wean from breastfeeding before I get pregnant with our second baby.

I really want to give my body a rest before getting pregnant again. Although extended breastfeeding has been a positive experience for both me and my son, I’m looking forward to regaining my body back.

I JUST WANT MY MOMMY

My son has been nursing on demand ever since he was born, even through the night since we co-sleep with him as well. As an infant, Evan was never interested in bottles or pacifiers, he just wanted to nurse exclusively.

As Evan started eating solid foods at 6 months old, he received other forms of calories and nutrition aside from breast milk, but he still relied heavily on nursing for comfort and closeness with me.

But now that pregnancy is back in our family plans, I want to wean Evan from breastfeeding now, before I’m pregnant, rather than traumatizing him by abruptly forcing him to “quit cold turkey” once we’ve conceived.

I’ve known other mothers who continued to nurse their older child throughout being pregnant with another baby, but I don’t want to nurse while I’m pregnant.

TECHNIQUES

So that’s what I’ve been doing this whole week, trying to at least, weaning my very attached toddler from his beloved breastfeeding.

To wean Evan, I’ve eliminated his mid-morning and mid-afternoon nursing sessions. I take him on long walks and play a lot of silly games with him to distract him from his “comfort” feedings. I also give him plenty of snacks, offer him water and milk in sippy cups, and entice him with Big Bird apple juice boxes to keep him hydrated. If he really resists and becomes inconsolable, then I let him nurse, but no longer than 5 minutes on both sides.

So far, despite the battles, I’ve successfully been able to delay each daytime nursing session to at least 4 hours apart. Yesterday, he didn’t nurse for almost seven hours!

By the end of May, my goal is to only nurse Evan when he wakes up in the morning, before his one afternoon nap time, and finally before his bedtime at night. I imagine the nighttime feedings will be the most difficult to take away, but I’ll just have to cross that very long bridge when I get there.

RESISTANCE

Just as I expected, weaning has turned out to be quite a challenge. As a result from this new restrictive weaning schedule, Evan has been very grumpy, defiant, and irritable.

I feel terrible that my decision to wean has caused Evan to be so miserable. He must be so frustrated that he can’t nurse as often as usual, which was pretty much as often as he wanted!

NURSING AND WEANING AS SAHM

As a stay at home mom and his only caregiver, I didn’t mind nursing him on demand. I take great pride that I was able to nurse Evan so much, well past his first year. But now that I’m ready to stop breastfeeding him, it’s a really bittersweet period.

Another added challenge to the daytime weaning is that my husband is at work from 6 am to 6 pm. So I’m home alone with Evan all day, battling with no relief all the flaring temper tantrums filled with screaming, crying, arm-flailing, back-arching, pleading, and worst of all, the heartbreaking lip quivers : (

It’s so hard to refuse him repeatedly, especially because he’s my first and only baby. I hate seeing him cry : (

Weaning a toddler that’s so deeply attached to nursing will never be easy, I suppose.

There are many discouraging moments when I feel like giving up and I think in desperation that maybe I should just let him nurse on demand again.

But I know that it’s time to detach Evan from breastfeeding; my mother’s instinct is telling me it’s time to wean. 

IT’S GONNA BE OKAY

Seeing Evan so unhappy breaks my heart, but I have to remind myself that Evan will be okay. I have to just find other ways (cuddling, singing, reading, taking long walks) to comfort him and bond with him besides nursing.

Like during any major life transitions, I have to face this new chapter of parenthood with plenty of patience, persistence and grace. This difficult period requires a lot of adjustments for my entire family. Though I am confident that one day, Evan will eventually adjust to weaning, and he won’t have to be comforted by nursing.

I am so grateful that I was able to nourish Evan and bond with him through nursing for so long. Breastfeeding has been a beautiful experience in my motherhood journey. However, the time has come to end this chapter. I look forward to discovering new ways to connect and bond with my dear son.

“From the time you were a tiny seed inside me, you were fed from my body.
When you were born into this world as a baby, you were fed from my breasts.
Now, I give you this cup, so you can feed yourself.” ~ Shea Darian

Recommended Readings

DISCUSSION

  • How was your experience with weaning?
  • What were some of the most effective approaches to weaning your child?

Share your story, your story matters.

Take a BIG deep breath of FRESH AIR!

I make it a point for my son Evan and I to step outside and get some fresh air everyday.

Every morning we go outside to get our daily dose of fresh and clean air. As soon as he finishes breakfast, he quickly gets his shoes and socks, points to our backyard, and says with excitement, “Mommy, ou’ side! ou’side!”

Evan loves being outdoors. He enjoys watering the plants, running around the lawn, counting the airplanes passing overhead, picking flowers, pointing at the clouds, singing along with the birds, finding ladybugs in the grass, and splashing the trickling water from the hose.

As a family making ends meet on only one income, it’s important for us to offer our son inexpensive activities that he can still enjoy. I would rather that he gets in touch with nature anyway, rather than be too occupied with video games and toys. Here is an interesting article I read about some of the reasons why kids need fresh air.

Being outside doesn’t only benefit my son, I enjoy spending time outdoors just as much. Actually, I need to get some outside time everyday, otherwise, I’ll go bat crazy :  / I notice that whenever I don’t get enough time outside, I feel anxious and irritable. I’m also more prone to headaches, fatigue and exhaustion. Do you ever experience the same symptoms whenever you stay too long indoors?

That’s why being outdoors is such an important part of my WELLNESS. Getting fresh air helps refresh my mind, it improves my focus and concentration and helps me think more clearly. It also soothes my nerves, especially when I feel stressed. After a nice walk outside, I always feel more relaxed and more re-energized.

I encourage you Mommies to also get outside regularly for some fresh air everyday. I know as a stay at home mom, it’s easy to get caught up with all the household chores and the busy schedule from taking care of the kids. Before you know it, it’s 3 pm, and you’re still in your pajamas (I’ve had many days like that!) But I really make an effort to get outside everyday, weather permitting of course. Something as simple (and free) as fresh air can really improve your mood and your overall well-being!

Here are some other simple ways that you and your family can get more fresh air:

  • Take a walk after lunch or dinner (This will help you digest your food better).
  • Pack your food, pick a shady spot and have a picnic. (Don’t forget the music!)
  • Ride your bike by the water (Doesn’t being by the water always feel more relaxing?)
  • Place some fresh plants in your home (It will help improve the air quality inside).
  • Exercise outdoors (Jump rope or do a yoga session outside).
  • Drive with the windows down (Even open the sunroof!)

So get outside Mommies! Take a break from being in the house all day and enjoy some quality time with your loved ones outdoors. Being outside is fun for the kids and good for you too!

DISCUSSION

  • What outdoor activities do you and your family enjoy?
  • How do you feel when you spend too much time indoors and you don’t get enough fresh air?

Share your story, your story matters.

Mommy’s Wellness To Do List

Hi friends!

In my efforts to focus more on self-improvement and self-nurturing, I’ve compiled the “Wellness To Do List” below.

The list is separated into different time frames, and highlights the things I need to do regularly in order to fulfill my physical and spiritual needs as an individual (not just as a mother or wife).

MOMMY’S DAILY NEEDS
Get at least 6 hours of sleep (8 if I’m lucky!)
Eat healthy and balanced meals
Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water
Take my prenatal vitamins and Omega 3 (Nordic Naturals are the best!)
Go outside for some fresh air
Get some quiet alone time (morning coffee)
Relax with some reading time (even for just ten minutes)
Do a daily journal entry for self-reflection time
Spend quality time with Randy
Meditate and count my blessings
Pray to God – offer to Him the hopes and dreams in my heart
Listen to God’s guidance

MOMMY’S WEEKLY NEEDS
Take a relaxing walk as a family
Do a yoga session at least 3 times a week
Take a break, get out of the house by myself!
Organize bills and paperwork
Deep clean our home
Talk and catch up with a loved one

MOMMY’S MONTHLY NEEDS
Add a FUN event on our family calendar
Get a manicure and pedicure
Try a new restaurant
Buy something for myself
Discover a new museum or park or store
Shop at Sprouts (Farmer’s Market)

MOMMY’S YEARLY NEEDS
Have a WONDERFUL birthday celebration (COMING UP ON 4/18!)
Enjoy a nice vacation
Get a new hairstyle
Minimize closets and donate (twice a year)
Take an online course for self-development
Commit to a body cleanse

I’ve been referring to this list for the past two weeks and truly, it has already changed my life in so many positive ways. My Mommy’s “Wellness List” is a positive reminder that I need to be a part of my TO DO LIST as well!

Ever since my husband and I decided (unexpectedly) that we wanted to have another baby (this topic deserves its own post, so come back for it!), I’ve been compelled and inspired to do really great things for myself. I want to prepare my mind and body for the next baby to grow inside me. So I started practicing yoga again and I now make healthier choices with my food. I made an overall commitment to take better care of myself. Creating Mama Bear Matters has been a HUGE part of this lifestyle change, as I strive to be a healthier, happier, and stronger woman.

I invite you readers to do the same thing. Take a few minutes of self-reflection and compile your very own “WELLNESS LIST”.

Breaking it down into a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly list makes it an easier list to follow.

Really, this is a wonderful self-honoring activity. I hope you make one for yourself too!

DISCUSSION

  • What will you include on your Wellness List?

Share your story, your story matters.