Mommy Support Groups

http://www.google.com/imgres?q=free+photos+of+mom+groups&um=1&hl=en&rlz=1C1_____enUS429US429&biw=975&bih=607&tbm=isch&tbnid=uucmp7HxYiNOkM:&imgrefurl=http://gymbobuzz.gymboreeclasses.com/blog/mom-groups&docid=SVGBzYDARiwPcM&imgurl=https://cdn2.content.compendiumblog.com/uploads/user/a811d913-0b90-470a-92f0-5a349c189669/47c83daf-6999-47a1-94b5-a935683e266f/Image/06e9d0a41b6cde157e7cfcaf0c3bbf23/infant_play_mom_home_v2_064_w640.jpeg&w=640&h=852&ei=2dFOT8uiAu_JmQXu3o2NCg&zoom=1How many of you mommies have attended Mom and Me support groups in your area? What do you do for resources when you have reached you wits end?  How do you get out of the rut you might be in and reach out to other moms?

In our area there are a lot of different support groups. This is great, but I am finding I have to shop around a bit to find the right place for Sunshine and I. Why?  Cause isn’t a support group, like a support group, like a support group?  I am finding that this is not so.  I thought most groups were a lot alike, but I am wrong. (Damn. I hate admitting that…heh).

I was hoping, after giving birth, that I could create and attend a support group for moms with mental illnesses.  (These are mental illnesses prior to having a baby, not that pregnancy always induces mental illness but I expect many moms feel more eccentric after having a kid. I know I do.) I found that the agency for mental health support groups that I used to attend, does not allow kids.  Well that screws me over. I have to take her with me.  So, what support groups are there for moms with mental illnesses where you can take your babies? Surprise. There are none.

I have attended public Library reading groups. I have really enjoyed these groups. Mostly because I have connected with some local moms. One, a super nice gal who is much younger than me but with a cute little boy two months younger than Sunshine. You’d think most library’s would be the same.  One library is not like the others… similar programs, similar ideas. Some sing songs, some play with toys, and only a few actually get books out and have you practice reading to your kids.  (Surprising, I know!). In my pursuit to do as many activities that get us out every day of the week and are free, this would be a top place to go.

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MOPS groups logo

I have attended two MOPS meetings , (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers). I realized soon after the first time, that MOPS is religiously based.  Now, I don’t mind praying before and after the meetings. I don’t mind the messages and the speakers having religious ideas and Bible verses throughout.  I have really enjoyed the speakers.  The ladies in the groups, though.  Yeah. Not so much.

They are nice but I feel like 1) They were trying to get me to join their church 2)Once they found out I have my own church I was ostracized and not really spoken to for the rest of the time because I don’t have that in common with them. All these ladies have done is talk about their Bible studies and what they learn… and thus I am not included.  I thought this was supposed to be a support group for MOMS??!!! Obviously, it is for only those moms that attend the same church. I am thinking about trying a different MOPS in the area to see if the mothers attending are different, or if it is a running theme for MOPS.

I have attended a support group for moms through a local hospital. They have the group for 0-6 month babies, and then a group for the 6-12 month babies.  I enjoyed the group and made some connections with the ladies there.  I finally have a person who can teach me how to knit hats!! We are all going to lunch after the meeting next week. It is a nice group of ladies.  However, the leader of this group, a matronly woman who works for the hospital, has some very clear ideas about what us moms should do for behavior modifications, sleeping, and so on.  In fact, because I co-sleep with our daughter, because we don’t like to use the word “No” but explain why we don’t do certain things (i.e. cause that hurts, cause its dangerous, cause your friends won’t like being smacked) the leader for this group suggested I would be more “at-home” with the moms groups in the big city nearby because they might do some of those things (Attachment Parent, that is).

I have heard about some of the Attachment Parenting groups in the

Parent Magazine

Parent Magazine Survey

area, and one I can’t go to due to a evening conflict, the other I was warned about.  Supposedly, this other attachment parenting group happen to be extremists. Some moms have felt they HAVE to do everything the AP way, whereas most AP groups talk about doing what you can. So, I have a bad back due to accidents and a jump off a 40 foot cliff, so I can’t carry Sunshine in a sling 24/7. Some AP groups would say do what you can, this one, I guess says if you really want to do it the right way you have to carry them in a sling 24/7. I took this survey from Parenting Magazine and found I was a 7/8 average. So, where does a mom like me go?

Where is the common courtesy for people with differences??? Its like you are either one or the other, black or white, no gray in the middle.   No acceptance, no support. I admit I have met some moms and made connections with those I have things in common with, or just plain nice people. I am super happy with this. So I don’t feel a big need to listen to unsolicited advice, or even solicited. I will make my own damn decisions based on what works for my kid.

Have any of you moms out there had similar experiences?  What have you done and is it easier to just take everything with a grain of salt? Just go to a group to meet other moms that you may have things in common with?  Would love to hear your thoughts and if I am not alone in the support group finding dilemma.

What I’ve Learned

… thus far.

I know this list could go on and on and on…. but I don’t have enough brain power in my sleepless-induced, zombie-like brain to remember to write them down as I go. So, I will tell you what I can pull from this worm hole, warp zoned mind… what I have learned in the almost 10 months since we have had our little girl. I have picked up,  realized, or stumbled upon these musings from my daughter, our pets, my husband, and momma friends. The learning curve is quick, and its amazing what I have actually learned during these short months.

I’m sure when she has reached a year, this list will be tripled.

  • There is no perfect way to parent. Each kid is unique. While I find Attachment Parenting and Conscious parenting tacks helpful, one way of parenting most likely won’t work with Sunshine. She needs all the options on the table!!
  • If she can find it, it will go in her mouth. (Hide EVERYTHING!!!)
  • If you hide EVERYTHING, she thinks it’s a game and will go find it.
  • Sleep. There is no sleep. Only Zoul, er Sunshine. And unless you are the key master, you are royally screwed!!! Mother puss bucket!!!!
  • What to dress her in for the day? Her birthday suit. Cause unless you want loads of laundry to do after each time she eats, and fight the stains that develop from what she wears on her clothes, rather than eats…. then the birthday suit is your best bet.
  • Second option. Just let the stains set, and you have a new fashion statement!
  • The dog and cat serve as just another distraction at meal times. If you are really smart, you will have the animals come sit with you, just out of arms reach of Sunshine, and then you at least have her facing the right direction to feed her. Otherwise, you will see what she is wearing from option #5.
  • I have never spoken to so many random people who I don’t know, about parenting techniques. Much advice is unsolicited and never considered. Once in a while, I get some good ideas.
  • I have never counted on other momma friends like I do now. They are who I can call and just vent to try to get ideas of what to do next. When in sleepless-induced zombie-like states, I need to do this more often. If I don’t get enough sleep, then I am not able to logically work through problems or issues to figure out solutions. Momma Friends rock!!!
  • Dog and cat. Again. They are learning to run and hide when Sunshine enters the room. Or at least go to their safe places. Perhaps I should try this some time so that my husband can actually take care of Sunshine for a bit and I can get some alone time to catch up on reading, actually writing my blog, or heaven forbid…. Sleep!
  • Yes, my kid loves books. Yes, she has learned to turn the pages from right to left, looking at the pages in the correct order. No, my kid can’t read (duh, a little early folks). Yes, all books seem to taste good to her and she has developed a taste for my husbands Stephen King books. It’s awesome that we are already developing a kid who loves books, but I have to constantly keep her from tearing them apart!!!
  • The mornings are my favorite time of day. She wakes up and pounces on us… with a huge grin on her face. So excited to start the day!!
  • Evenings, after getting her down for the night are becoming a fast second. I can be quiet, lay next to her and read my own book. These books tend to not have pictures, use more than one word syllables, and are longer than 10 pages. While I like Sunshine’s books, then can get pretty tedious.
  • My kid is speaking in tongues. No really. She isn’t possessed, but just licks and slobbers and googles and giggles and makes these funny noises with her tongue. Hilarious! Who knew life could be this silly? Laughing has become highlights of the day.
  • If she doesn’t want it in her mouth, you won’t get it in there. Period. This goes for medications, food, and fingers. If you want to try to get something in there, say for instance … teething gel? Have a family member hang her upside down. As she giggles you have perfect access to said toofers and gums and can get that damn stuff in there. This technique, however, doesn’t work with medicine or food. If you figure out a way to get those in, let me know.
  • I have become a human teething ring. I have the bruises to show it. (Damn! Ouch! That hurts!)
  • If my daughter learns to be more independent later by my sitting with her and allowing her to cling to me now, I am all for it! I already see her letting go more often and trying things on her own without my help, although she still has to have me nearby. I can already see that progress! Awesome!!
  • The most important: There are no perfect parents, only perfect intentions.

I am sure this list could go on and on…. however, I lack the brain power to produce much more. I imagine when she is a year old, I will produce a more thorough list. Otherwise, have an awesome Thursday and don’t forget to giggle! And watch the Big Bang Theory. Totally cracks me up. Bazinga!!!

Upcoming Concert…Difficult Music

So our next concert is coming up, and man…. for being a soprano who usually sings pretty easy music that is most often the melody or lyrical harmony… This is some tough music.  The Faure Requiem is easy and I have done it several times. It is always beautiful.

Erik Eisenvald’s piece The Passion and Resurrection is hauntingly beautiful but incredibly hard to sing. Mostly because the notes are incredibly high and there is only 4 of us singing the really high notes as this point.  I am attaching a link to a group who did this piece, and it is a snippet of what we will be doing.

Note: This is music sung from the view point of Jesus or Mary Magdalen…. it is, at times, difficult to listen to because of the profound depth of the notes tied with the words and the subject of the death of Christ.  Hope you gain some understanding from this and perhaps appreciate the music.

The Other Side to Home Schooling

I am not currently home schooling my daughter. Yet.  She is a bit young. I wanted to share some positive sides to homeschooling that a recent post might not have covered. Everyone has their own opinions, and everyone is entitled to share those opinions, but absolutes don’t work for everyone. Each person is unique and thus may learn differently and experience life differently.

I am a person who learned differently. If my mother had the option of homeschooling me, that would have been helpful in my early learning years.  At least for my elementary years. I liked to talk things out as I worked through problems, and I was a kinestetic (hands on) and auditory learner. Now, in public schools they don’t necessarily like a talkative kid. They want you to be quiet to learn: To fit into a box that is already made. For me, I was that square peg that did not fit into the round hole for my early learning experience.

Later, junior high, I excelled in different areas. High school, I took Advanced Placement classes and did really well. Why, you may ask? My classes didn’t have more than 8-10 kids in each class. I had a lot more one-on-one with teachers and I did a lot better because we were asked to talk problems out and to solve things doing hands on learning. With the education system the way it is right now, my daughter will be lucky to get into a class that has less than 32 kids in a room. I can already tell that she is a verbal kid. She talks while she is learning things and acts like she is explaining things as she goes. A lot like me, really. Do I want for her what I experienced as a kid? No. Ultimately, I want her to excel as a kid and then move into public schools once she has gotten her own learning routing down. How long that will be, I don’t know. But I am going to do my best to find the educational environment she will blossom in.

Now, the theory that home schooled kids are not well socialized has its merits. I went to college with a guy who was home schooled. He was/is a brilliant guy. He entered college as a 16 year old who already had a bachelors under his belt. The guy is smart, but to say he lacked some social skills when he first came to college would have been an understatement. Can we say socially inept? I am not sure if his family had him get involved in social activities with people his age when he was younger, but it would have helped. These days, homeschooling has become a lot more well rounded. Really, you say? Yep.

I have met with several moms that are homeschooling their kids. Here is what I have learned. The moms I know teach their kids actual academics 3-4 days of the week. Their kids are super well-rounded and ahead in their prospective grades, even with studying academics only 3-4 days during the week. How, you may ask? They then go out into society and learn hands on what they have learned through the week. They participate in a P.E. type class at their local YMCA. Their kids get to do PE with a whole bunch of other home schooled kids for as many days during the week that the moms wish to take their kids. This is also a requirement for our state.

Also, if there are subjects the moms are not confident in teaching, there are learning centers (academy) that can teach their kids the subjects in a small school environment with other home schooled students. The kids get a lot of interaction with others.

What if you would like your kids to have enrichment activities? I know of several local community choirs and musicians that can teach my kids about music, at least so that they can appreciate it if they are not wishing to participate like I have. Some of the other moms use the extra day in the week to go volunteer at a local homeless shelter or humane society. These kids have a lot more positive interactions with people in the community than they might in school. They learn humility, they learn the benefits of volunteering and giving to others without needing to receive something in return. They put what they learn to immediate and good use.

Now, ultimately I want my kids to attend a public school so that they can have a more competitive, and well-rounded school experience. There are some things that I would not be able to provide at home. I believe that this mostly includes school sports, clubs, and competitive music opportunities. I am sure I can find similar opportunities in the community where I live, and know that there are even junior proms or dances that are created for home school students. If the dissolving of school music and sports programs continues, then perhaps learning at home would not be such a stretch?

In the end, I don’t know if I will home school my daughter or not. With the school systems getting larger, the number of students in the classroom higher, and the number of teachers and funds to do enrichment activities dwindles, home school is looking like more of an option. I was a special education teacher for six years (k-12, transition high school), so teaching one-on-one may be easier for me to see myself doing that some other parents. I have a few years to decide, but believe me when I say I will look at how my kids learn and then make a decision based on that.

If you are interested in learning more, here are some sites that could provide more information:

About.com

Simple Home School.net

Homeschool.com

Home-school.com

Top 10 blogs on homeschooling.

Creating a Home School Environment:

Washington State Home school sites:

Washington Home Schooling

Home Schooling in Washington 

Washington State Government: Home School

Adventures in Couponing

Last week I took the first steps in couponing to save us some money. I only attempted one store, so this will hopefully change after I make some tweaks to my lists and collect more coupons.

This is what I know so far:

  1. I saved 40% on my overall costs, around $69 dollars. For first time out, I don’t think thats great, but I hope to improve. I was able to pick up quite a few household items and cereals that should last us for quite a while.
  2. I tried to plan with the hubby to come up with dinner ideas for the week. I believe that if I had been able to follow thru with this, with him, that I would have spent less on miscellaneous items. Better planning for meals, will make better lists of items to get.
  3. I still believe that keeping my hubby from going to the store throughout the week to pick up random items will save us about $240 a month. This also includes my random visits.
  4. I now get 4 Sunday newspapers sent to me with the total cost being about $26 a month. With that I get multiple coupons on items I can stock up on, or get multiples of, and being that most papers coupons are pilfered and searched through before I can actually get to them this will make it much easier. Saves on gas, time, and is even cheaper per paper when buying multiples.

With the help of my dear friend, Jenny, and the couponing websites (thriftynorthwestmom.com, thecouponproject.com, couponingtodisney.com, Redplum and Super Savers coupon sites) I will gradually attempt more stores, and do a better job at saving. My number one goal is to save at least 60% when shopping. So, first 2 goals for this week: Set a respectable budget for groceries a month and create weekly recipes with the hubby to plan for next weeks shopping trip. My plan is for Mondays or Tuesdays to be my super saving couponing days. Wish me luck people. It is in writing now, so I will attempt to be true to these goals.

A Year Ago Today

1/27/2011

A year ago today, I was almost 6 months pregnant.

A year ago today, I sat in a waiting room with a dear friend waiting, hoping, praying and doing a fair bit of crying.

A year ago today, my husband went through surgery #2 for his thyroid cancer. It had metasticized to lymph nodes in his neck.

Yesterday, we discovered that the biopsy done on a suspicious lymph node they had found does not have cancer and at this time is not carrying the thyroid tissue cells that could cause cancer. Doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be there later. But it is the first good news we have had for a bit. He will continue to go in every 3 months for blood tests to measure his thyroid globulin levels. (he isn’t supposed to have any thyroid cells, and if there are they could be carrying the cancer).

A year ago, we were not parents and I was one emotional soon-to-be-mama. This surgery led to a large scar on his neck. It was super scary to me…. to know that his throat would be cut open and how close they would be to his jugular veins. I was so scared I would lose him.

We were at UW for the surgery as the surgeon in Tacoma felt that my hubby needed extra special care to do this type of surgery and navigate the sensitive tissues and nodes in the neck. He wasn’t confident he could do the job since he didn’t do that kind of surgery every day. The doctors at UW do. I remember sitting next to him as they prepped him for surgery. They had a young resident that was learning to insert the IV into his hand. I would say he was rather inept as he couldn’t seem to do it. There was blood everywhere, and luckily Mike couldn’t feel a thing. Nor did he see all the blood.

The resident doctors, the surgeon and several nurses came to check up on me about 4 or 5 times. They could tell that this momma was super scared and looked really pregnant. I totally appreciate the special attention they gave me. On top of that, the surgeon came and spoke to me and my MIL afterwards to discuss how it went. Mike came out of the surgery and being that he doesn’t do well with the anesthesia, promptly got sick. I, of course, started crying again. Why they had me come and see him when they hadn’t even cleaned him up yet, I have no idea. There was blood all over him. Sigh.

I can only look back on that day with thanks. Michael is still with me. We have been blessed with a beautiful child. Though we don’t know what the future holds and we continue to pray and wait for the day we are told his cancer is gone, or that he is at least finally considered in remission….

We hold on to what we have now. We are grateful for what we have. Things may not be perfect, but life isn’t perfect. Life is messy. Life is difficult and challenging. But thats what makes life worth living. These perfect moments we find amidst the chaos where we are truly thankful for what we have and the imperfections that makes life unique and special.

Cherish those close to you today, and always. Even those imperfect moments.

Don’t forget to giggle!