Friday, May 31, 2013


It’s that special time of year – Spring turns to Summer, flora and fauna become more visible and radiant, more time is spent outdoors and of course, countless graduation ceremonies. Even though the latter are long gone for me, I pondered the concept of time while watching Brian Williams deliver a commencement speech this year at Elon University – where his son was among the graduating class.

The overarching theme of his speech was “time”, which he skillfully wove into a running joke about how they had only given him 10 minutes to deliver his speech. He spoke of being in Moore, Oklahoma a few days before the ceremony, where just a couple short weeks ago the town was practically leveled by one of the most powerful tornadoes in history. He said he met the father of a 9-year-old boy who was killed in the storm and he learned that this boy loved one thing… throwing a baseball with his dad. He said, “You think his dad isn’t thinking about time right now?” He went on to offer the typical words of wisdom to the graduates, but then made a very touching act of personal privilege. He concluded with these words, directed towards his son, “And because there is a dad in Oklahoma who would give all he has to be able to throw a baseball to his son… you ready?” He then took a baseball out of his pocket and tossed it to his son who was seated in the first few rows. He said, “Here’s the deal: when you get home, you throw that back to me, into the same mitt you learned to throw into as a child, and we will be whole again.”

As a father, I couldn’t help but get just a little choked up at the whole series of moments. Even though I haven’t thrown a ball to my kids yet, I know those days are fast approaching. And I know they’ll be gone even faster. That’s what got me thinking to the concept of time. When you strip away all the material things we humans have distracted ourselves with, that’s all we’re left with – time, and those we spend it with.

Being a parent (especially of multiple children), time is the constant enemy. There’s never enough time for everything – not enough time to go to the beach before naps, not enough time to take that family trip together, not enough hours in the day to get everything done. We live in a world of perpetual deadlines: when that homework assignment is due to your teacher, when those figures are due to your boss, when that big exam is scheduled to take place. But we can’t forget life’s deadlines either, especially those we don’t know are coming: the last breastfeed, the last hand-holding, the last football toss in the backyard, the last bicycle ride. As parents, we try to “get everything in” with our kids before the deadline of them becoming adolescents. By then it’s too late, Mom and Dad aren’t cool anymore.

I think what bothers me the most is the perpetual “rat race” our society has engaged itself in over the last few generations. And I get where it all started – the parents of the Baby Boomers wanted to give their children all the opportunities they didn’t have (since they were at war). According to sources: “The Boomers are widely associated with privilege, as many grew up in a time of widespread government subsidies in post-war housing and education, and increasing affluence. As a group, they were the wealthiest, most active, and most physically fit generation up to that time, and amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time. They were also the generation that received peak levels of income, therefore they could reap the benefits of abundant levels of food, apparel, retirement programs, and sometimes even ‘midlife crisis’ products.”

With each subsequent generation, that mindset has grown and mutated into what some people mistakenly now call “The American Dream.” Working hard to get enough money to afford your children all the things that you didn’t have. Fair enough, but most people these days take it too far. I understand the need and desire to raise yourself and your family out of poverty, but there’s a term in Economics called “The Law of Diminishing Returns.” They begin to sacrifice too much to achieve their numbers, make that sale, or get that bonus. They spend long hours in the office or on the road all for that extra dollar and they lose sight of what’s really important – time. They convince themselves that if they just get that bonus this year, they can buy their children that new shiny toy, or throw them a killer sweet sixteen party. But how special will it all be if you’re not around for them to share it with?

You can buy yourself and your family all the material things in the world, but will it really make you happy? Once you’ve climbed the corporate ladder and are making more money than the Gross Domestic Product of some small countries – then what? Your kid is still a little butthole because you were never around to hug him, to teach him right from wrong, or to throw him a baseball. It’s just like the old saying goes, “You buy your kid a big expensive toy, and they end up playing with the cardboard box it came in.”

I once saw a video where a company had one-on-one interviews with a group of moms. The interviewer asked each mom to describe how they saw themselves as a mother. Most of them responded by saying they wished they were more patient with their child(ren), or that they didn’t consider themselves to be a great mom because they felt they didn’t spend enough time with their kid(s). The interviewers then brought in their children (one by one) and asked them to describe their mother. With the moms watching the interview with their child from another room, they were shocked as to what they heard. One child said that his mom was the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich maker in the world. Another said that their mom gave the greatest hugs and she always cheered them up when they were sad. Obviously, it proved to the mothers that they needed to reexamine their priorities. The moral of the video was that they really needed to step back and realize the most important thing to a child is the time you spend with them… because until that final deadline hits, you are the most important thing to them.

I’m not saying that all parents should quit their jobs to spend time with their children, because that will just lead to more coddling, and that’s the last thing these younger generations need. What I’m saying is, whether you’re working hard to make it to the top of your respective field to inflate your paycheck or trying to think of ways to entertain/distract your child, don’t lose sight of what’s most important. Because after all, there is one thing all the money in the world can’t buy – and that’s time.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Gettin’ Certified

That’s right Followers, after months of dedication, sacrifice and reading study materials as thick as encyclopedias, Dad-E is a certified Project Management Professional. While it’s not required for my current job, the higher-ups “politely encouraged” everyone on my team to get their certification in 2013. And guess who was first to get it? This guy.

For those of you not familiar with the PMP, it’s a 200-question pass/fail exam that tests all aspects of project management and its body of knowledge – ranging from time, scope and cost management all the way through procurement and ethics. You get 4 hours to complete the exam and you need to obtain at least a 61% to pass. Doesn’t seem too bad, right? Not so fast… Of the 200 questions, there are 25 “test questions”, meaning that they don’t count towards your final exam score and are sampler questions for consideration for use in future exams. The only trouble is, they are scattered randomly throughout the exam and you have no idea or indication which ones they are. So for those of you non-math wizards out there, it means you have to correctly answer at least 106 of the 175 counting questions in order to pass. When you break it down that way, it seems a little more intimidating.

So for the last few months (I forget when I started, it’s been that long), I’ve been carving out a little time each weeknight to get my nerd on and hit the books. Read a chapter, take a quiz, rinse, repeat. Needless to say, it hasn’t been easy. Allow me to indulge you in a typical night for us for the last couple of months…

Mommy B and I would try to make ourselves dinner (and eat it) before taking the kiddos up to the bath at 6pm. We would get them bathed and into bed by a little after 7, at which time Mommy B would hit the shower and I would come back downstairs to clean up. After tidying up the disaster zone, making my lunch for the next day, getting out work and workout clothes and (maybe) taking a short breather, it was usually around 8pm. This is normally when working parents who’ve been up since 4 or 5am would phone it in the last hour and veg in front of the squawk box before hitting the sheets – but not Mommy B and I. She would head over to the computer to work on her next paper for her Masters in Nursing classes and I would head to the couch or table and crack the books. Each night we’d end up going to bed later than we’d hoped – somewhere between 9:30 and 10pm (sometimes later). All to be up at 4am for her and 5am for me the next day and do it all over again.

After all the toil and trouble, memorizing 42 separate and distinct project management process and a dozen or so formulas, I was ready to take the exam. I had scheduled the exam date about a month or so ago, so I knew when my deadline was going to be. I walked into the testing center cool, calm and confident, and it paid off. I passed with flying colors, getting some of the highest marks anyone I work with has ever seen. I can now technically say I’m a “professional” at something, which is weird to say. I’m hoping that this additional credential will open numerous doors at my current job, so we’ll see where it takes me!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Life's A Beach

We took our first trip of the season to the beach at Isle of Palms this past Saturday. We loaded up the car with towels, a beach bag full of sand toys/shovels/buckets, hats, sunscreen, diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, and snacks. Lots and lots of snacks. Oh, and can't forget the beach tent.

.... Remember the times when all we brought were two chairs, sunscreen, towels, and a book? ...

We found a place to set up shop, and proceeded to put up our big sun tent (which is the best thing ever, by the way), while lathering up the kids with sunscreen and attempting to keep hats or sunglasses on them, and keeping them occupied with sand toys while we assembled our tent.

....Remember when we just found a spot, plopped down in our chairs, and sprayed sunscreen on each other?...

Next, it was off to carrying Aiden down to the water to test out the ocean, while Alli skipped along meeting new friends with sand toys all along the way. We got down to the water where Aiden was not a fan. He cuddled up in my arms and now I'm hot and sweaty and have a sticky 20lb-er attached to me, not to mention he's covered in the sand he and Alli were playing with earlier. Alli is pulling on Eric, trying to get him to go in the water, but when a wave came, she ran around like a nut trying to jump over and still get further in the water. Our little dare devil, makes my heart rate skyrocket. Now, Aiden's seeing Alli having fun, squealing and laughing, and is getting a little braver, too. So, off he goes, tentatively, but I have to keep a good hold on him and he does just fine, but also wants to head up the beach and up to the other beach-goers  relaxing in their chairs.

...Remember when that was us? Or, remember when we went out to the waves and could just jump right in, get refreshed, swim with two arms, go under water, get back out, and head back up to our chairs?...

Now little explorer #2 (Aiden) is out and about, ready to greet each and every other child, adult, and dog on the beach. When he approached other kids, he would blab to them while sneakily stealing their beach toys. Not on purpose of course, but, he'd grab a shovel and take off. So, I'd have to run after him, take the shovel out of his hand (which of course, he wasn't too happy about), and return it to it's rightful owner. He met a lot of friends along the way, but also a lot of kids that weren't fond of his steal and run technique. I was worn out just chasing him.

...Do I ever remember chasing anything on the beach prior to having kids? No...

Of course, now it's time for Alli to say she has to go potty. So, off I go, carrying the 30lb-er up to the public restrooms. We get in there, stripped down, and of course, "I not need to go potty, MOMMY!" Like it was my idea. Yes, I really wanted to carry her all the way up there for her to have a false alarm. So, I tried talking her into just trying. Ha! Cue meltdown. In the nasty public restrooms that are wet and yuck from beach goers. Ugh. 

...Remember having to "go potty", and just heading right out to the ocean? (Oh please, don't act like you've never done it before)...

Finally, it was snack break time. We head back to our wonderful tent we so carefully put together so we all would have nice shelter and a nice little place for a break. About halfway through the snack, Alli proclaims that it's time to go home. "I go home!" Umm, okay? We played just a little longer, but could tell it was getting toward everyone's nap times and the fun of the beach was gone for the day.

...Fun? Did we have fun? Well of course we had a great time seeing our kids enjoy the beach. I loved seeing them both explore, play in the sand and water together, and seem like they genuinely have a good  time. But, where was our "relaxing" beach time? The beach therapy we used to always bring up as a motivator to get through the work week? It's a lot different now. We're adjusting. But needless to say, Eric and I still need a beach day after our beach days these days...

I'm going to want to remember this...

A wise grandma-great reminded me I should document and share all the funny things that Alli and Aiden say and do, otherwise with time, we may forget it all. Time seems to go by in such a blur some days, I know that Eric and I are lucky if we remember to turn the stove off, close the refrigerator door, or feed the dog. (P.S. we have definitely forgotten to feed the dog on a few occasions  but her growing stomach at midnight will teach us to never forget that... that noise is louder than either kid!!)

The other day, Alli was crying over something. I can't even remember what it was, but really, it could have been that her ponytail was crooked or that her sock was on too tight. She's two and a half, and every bit of the stigma that comes with being that age. Anyway, she was crying, and Aiden tripped over a toy and started crying too. Alli quickly yelled, "NO Aiden! I'M crying, not you!!!" All Eric and I could do was sit back, watch, and burst out in laughter. What more is there to do?

Earlier this week, we picked up Alli from Chesterbrook as usual. Her teacher Ms. Meghan told us that her friend Scarlett had taught her something new today. Oh boy, we thought, this will be good. So, on the drive home, Alli and Aiden were laughing and playing around with each other. (A rare sight... usually, it's tears and wanting more food. These kids eat non-stop) Anyway, I asked Alli what she learned from Scarlett at school that day. She replied with, "It's a hot mess!" Oh boy. When we asked about it further the following day, Ms. Meghan explained that Scarlett was dirty from playing outside and when she was asked if she was ready to clean up, she replied, "Yes! I'm a hot mess!" Alli must have heard her say it, and continued to repeat it throughout the day. She will still say it from time to time... always in the correct context, which is hilarious.

As things come up, I need to remember and be more diligent on writing things down. As grandma-great said, times flies and we will want all of these memories recorded to share with them someday...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sweet Dreams

The most wonderful feeling in the world to me is seeing them sleeping peacefully. It makes me feel like we've been successful parents. Even if we have our ups and downs and our frustrations, in this moment, they are happy, comfortable, safe, fed, bathed, and dreaming sweet dreams.

Let them be little for as long as possible. 

Don't blink.

Two on One

That would be... two kids versus one mom.

Last weekend, Dad-E took a flight up to Connecticut to surprise a good friend from college, as he won't be able to attend his bachelor party, so he wanted to go spend some time with him before we head up there in July to be a part of his big day. He took off work on Friday, flew up there, had dinner, slept in, played golf, more food along the way, slept in, then flew home. (You see where my emphasis lies, or at least what I was most jealous of!... ha!)

Anyway, that meant I had the kiddos to myself all weekend. I really was looking forward to it, but scared to death at the same time. I know they are my kids, so what is there to be scared of? But, it's intimidating to do it all on your own. Huge kuddos go out to all the single moms out there, all the military wives, stay at home mom's, etc., who do this all the time. I know, now especially after a weekend alone, that I couldn't do it. Well, I take that back. I'm sure I could, but I wouldn't want to. Not alone. Thank God for my husband.

The kids weren't awful by any means, but I think they just know how to push my buttons, and know exactly what to do to get me frustrated. I like to think of myself as a patient person sometimes, but my goodness, patience with a 2 & 1/2 year old who wants to do everything herself, and a 1 year old who thinks he needs to be held constantly even though he can do things for himself, is exhausting. Not to mention, being up at 6am leaves very limited options of how to spend an entire day trying to find things to do. Oh, and on top of that, it rained. All weekend. So now, my props especially go to those mom's I mentioned before who live in Seattle, where it rains all.the.time. Oh my gosh! What do you all do with your children all the time!?

I love A&A with all my heart. But I think I was 1000 times more excited to see Eric on Sunday than they were.

Thanks for coming home, daddy! We were all so happy to see you... and it looks like you may have missed being around your lil buddies just a little bit, too. <3

Monday, May 6, 2013

This is all for today...

The Honest Toddler - Footprints in The Sand

I did not write this wonderfully accurate materpiece, but I wish I had. Gotta give credit when credit's due.