Carving Out Time For Myself

Who starts exercising when they're six months pregnant? That would be me! And I'm getting mad that I didn't focus some time on myself six months ago or a year ago or four years ago for that matter. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, right? But, seriously, you forget how good it feels to have time to exercise and focus your brain on your body and actually feel your muscles and be reminded that your body is capable of more than having kids and then serving as their stomping ground. I mean, that's all pretty amazing, but pushing yourself and then feeling sore muscles for a few days is a good reminder that our bodies have a lot more going on...

My exercise routine for the last four years has been terrible. I have relied on our treadmill or workouts on video. While it's better than nothing, I rarely make it through them, because there are two little people who know what I'm up to and it's hard to not hear them or for the timing of their nap to work out just right. It's annoying and is why I maintain that the only way I will ever be able to get back in shape will be to exercise outside of my house.

I've stuck with my classes at The Dailey Method. I've left the boys at home and found time for classes twice this week (woo hoo!). It's a really good hour for myself. It's not easy. There is a lot of shuffling that goes into finding time between having a full time job and two kids and the things that life continues to throw at you. You never think it will be that hard to find time for yourself until it is and then having time for yourself becomes a distant memory. In this case it's a far, far memory.

I might as well stick with it while I can... Because some October it won't get any easier.

Disclosure: I received a one-month unlimited package to The Dailey Method Kenilworth. All opinions are my own.


Good Deeds 2012: Week 30 MyMaryCate.org

Good Deed: Sharing information to further awareness and help fundraising for www.MyMaryCate.org.

It doesn't feel like it very often, but there is some power in having a blog. We bloggers have the power to share information, whether with five people or 10,000 people, our words can help spread information.

I was contacted about a local family and an opportunity to support them and their baby girl.

Their story:
Local Chicago mom, Kerry Lynch welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Mary Cate on December 8, 2011 and soon realized something was wrong – baby Mary Cate was the 1 child in 160,000-200,000 to be born with Apert Syndrome. This craniofacial condition causes issues in the development of the brain and skull, hands, and feet. Mary Cate has recently undergone her first of very many surgeries that she will need in her lifetime.  Kerry has started a blog to share her journey with readers.

How You Can Help:
To help support the financial struggle the family will inevitably face, a special needs trust fund has been set up in Mary Cate’s name.  Local maternity store, Belle Up has created special “Team MC” hairbows that the boutique is selling and will donate 50% of the net sales to Mary Cate’s special needs trust. 

In addition, on August 18th, from 1-6 p.m., the My Mary Cate Benefit will be held to help offset the medical and therapy costs for Mary Cate.  All money raised will be donated to the My Mary Cate trust fund.  For more information on the benefit, to donate money, or to purchase a ticket, please visit: http://www.mymarycate.org/#!benefit

When you hear about another family struggling with the health of their child things come into perspective and you hug your kids a little tighter. Maybe consider a way you can help them, too?


The Dailey Method: My Kids Hijacked My Workout

Have you tried The Dailey Method? It's a pretty kick ass work out. I was taking classes for a while when they first opened their North Shore location and then life got in the way and I stopped carving that time out for myself. So, I'm giving it another go.

I scheduled a visit. I signed the boys up for their children's room, because it looks really fun, clean, and W loves new toys. I figured B would follow his brother's lead and it would be fun for both of them.

Excited may not even begin to tell you how I was feeling... This is the first time I have carved out time for myself to work out in a long, long time. And I knew I was in for a really good work out. The staff was terrific, assured me it was a great exercise for pregnant ladies, and were sweet with the boys. I brought them into the play room and they seemed ok. I stepped out and thought I heard some crying. I figured it was B, but that it would subside over time.

The class started. I was just getting into it, feeling good... Until a staff member stepped in and gave me an apologetic wave. "I'm sorry, but they're both really upset and it's not getting any better."

"Both of them?!?" I asked.

"Yes, I think W is upset because B is so upset."

I looked into the room and there were my two boys sobbing and snotty and totally inconsolable. So, I walked in, sat on the ground, and they pounced. I calmed them down, but there was still plenty of jagged breathing as W explained that B needed me and I should stay in there for B. Uh huh.

The woman explained to me that B got really upset when I left, but W was too consumed with the toys to notice, but then he started to get scared as B continued to cry harder and longer... And pretty soon both of them were a mess. She apologized that she wasn't able to fix it and they had to come get me, knowing that it was my limited time for myself. I can't tell you how much I wanted to give her a hug. The fact that she got that instead of assuming I was just dropping them in her lap made me want to kiss her.

I sat with the boys for a while, trying to distance myself to gauge whether there would be an opportunity for me to slip out, but they were onto me. It wasn't happening. Before I knew it, the hour was coming to an end. We'd read a few books, they showed me some cool trucks, I enjoyed a nice conversation with the woman in the kid's room (and kept myself from any of the hugging or kissing that I wanted to share with her), and then I decided it was time to go. I scooped up the boys and we headed home as the class was letting out.

I didn't mind. It was their first drop off experience like this. I never even stopped to think that there would be an issue. That was my fault. B is a mama's boy. He doesn't like when I leave him to go to the next room in our house, let alone in a strange room. W would have been fine, but he is very introspective and emotional, so probably started to freak himself out because of B.

Ok, so I was bummed I only got 15 minutes of class time in, but it's better than nothing! I've already scheduled my next class, but I didn't schedule child care this time. If I do that again it will be for W only and for now I'm going to make it my time in every way I can.

Disclosure: I received a one-month unlimited package to The Dailey Method Kenilworth. All opinions are my own.


Good Deeds 2012: Week 29 Don't Let Big Plastic Bully Me

Good Deed: Signed petition to Illinois Governor Quinn to veto a bill that would not allow cities in Illinois to create plastic bag bans.

I'm so tired of seeing plastic bags stuck to fences, floating in the lake, blowing down the street, and I'm also tired of hearing about how bad they are for our environment. I try really, really hard not to use them. I'm not always perfect. I often forget my reusable bags, but I always choose paper when I do. But it would not affect my life if they were banned and I think that the damage they cause to the environment and water outweighs their convenience.

A 12 year-old named Abby started this petition as part of her school project to get a local ban on plastic bags. Enter big lobbyists and you can guess how the rest of the story goes. I like kids who are trying to make a difference and it's a pleasure to support their (good) efforts. If you agree, sign the bill.

What was your good deed this week?


We're Sleeping In Separate Rooms

It's been two weeks since Matt and I have slept in the same room. Normally that might be concerning for a married couple and - trust me - I'm concerned... Just not in that way. We've been staying with my parents while our kitchen is being renovated. I'm concerned we will never go home.
What we thought would be a four or five day stay has turned into WEEKS. Since the boys each have their own bed times and routines, they sleep in separate rooms while we're at my parents. Matt sleeps in the room with W and I sleep in the room with B. If you have ever had to share a bed with a three year old before you know it does not make for a restful night, so I feel like I'm actually getting a good deal here.

We see each other for an hour in the morning while we're running around to get ourselves and the boys ready. Matt goes directly to our house after work to refinish our cabinets and usually returns around midnight. I can't help with any of this because of the whole being pregnant thing, but I feel obligated to wait up for Matt and my mom (bless her for helping us!) who wearily walk in and update me on their progress. We talk for about 15 minutes and then say good night. We each go into a room where one of our boys already sleeps, close the door, and will wake up to start it again the next morning.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but it's been a long, exhausting, and somehow kind of lonely tunnel. I'm ready to get back to our routine of me complaining that he's too loud for me to sleep and him complaining that I move around too much.


My Magic Big Brother Moment

A big thanks to Disney Baby for sponsoring this post and the Disney Baby “Little Character” Contest!

Parenthood includes an incredible amount of "a-ha" moments. One of my favorite moments was when I caught W singing to his new baby brother who was hanging out in his swing. I could hear him softly and sweetly singing a made up song: "You're so cute, Look at those little feet. I love you. You're my brother. What a sweet baby."

I walked into the living room, sat down next to him and rubbed his back, getting ready to tell him how proud I was of him, that he was such a wonderful older brother... Until he finished his song with "I don't love you. Go away" followed by a sideways smile as he glanced to see my reaction.

I laughed, realizing my attention-loving son was figuring out how to be a big brother while still keeping the spotlight on him and using his incredible sense of humor to do so. Little did I know this would be the moment that seems to best define their relationship still. My boys are sweet together. There is so much love there, but W always looks for his next opportunity to get a laugh and maintains an air that he is being a little put out by this new kid.

When you're preparing to add a sibling to your family, it's impossible to comprehend that you'll love the next one as much or share your attention and affection. You can imagine that your children will love each other and develop a great relationship, but it doesn't seem real until you're faced with it. That was the first moment that I experienced what it was like to be the mother of siblings. And I'll never forget it.

That's one of those things that I love... When you think back on life moments it's often the small moments that become the most memorable. I remember building up the moment that W would walk into the hospital to meet his baby brother. I had this fantasy of how it was going to go, but it was hardly memorable. W was more interested in the "Big Brother Gift" we had for him and seemed overwhelmed and confused. It wasn't until we'd been home for a few days, things quieted down, and we started to settle in that real moments were possible.

What is your magic moment as a mom of an infant?  Share your magic moments and vote for your favorite sweet baby in the “Disney Baby ‘Little Character’ Contest.” Proud parents shared photos of their babies for a chance to win $10,000 toward their baby's future education, so help them out with a vote! Voters will be also eligible for a chance to win the Voter’s Sweepstakes, a Beach Vacation at Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows. Voting closes this week, but you can vote every day to increase your chances of winning!

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


Good Deeds 2012: Week 28 Found a Dollar, Shared a Dollar

Good Deed: Found a dollar on the ground and shared it with a homeless person.

I don't have good luck when it comes to money or winning anything... I can't recall a time when I've found money on the ground. I don't win raffles. I've won one blogging giveaway (and never received the package!?!). I've bought Lotto tickets once and obviously did not win (or else this would be a very different blog). I certainly don't gamble, because I know I would just be wasting my money.

So, imagine my surprise when I found a dollar on the floor of the train during a morning commute this week... And since it wasn't my dollar to begin with, I carried it out of the train station and placed it into the cup of a homeless woman. It felt like that dollar was in the right place.

What was your good deed this week?


My Protect-A-Bed Summer Sleep Thoughts and A Giveaway

We don't get a ton of sleep around here. Matt has always been an early riser and our kids have followed in dad's footsteps. We usually start the day by 6 am, sometimes closer to 5 am. And while our kids observe their early bedtimes, Matt and I try to get in a little time to get stuff done or hang out together or just veg in front of the tv and get about six hours of sleep. It's not terrible, but it would be nice to get more.
Sometimes as a parent you stress so much about making sure everything is perfect for your kids, you forget about your health and needs. We make sure the kids have new mattresses, allergen-free pillows, cozy pajamas, safe bedding, sound machines, and a comfortable room in every way. Sometimes we forget about those upgrades for ourselves. I just bought us new bedding last year, which replaced sheets and a duvet cover we'd been using since we were dating. I splurged at Target and bought some new soft pj's for the first time in years and it felt really good. With the basics covered, I realized my next step: protecting our bed.

When W moved into his big boy bed we purchased a Protect-A-Bed mattress protector, which has proved to be totally waterproof annd comfortable. But, Matt and I are still sleeping on an old, quilted mattress protector. With a kid sometimes creeping in our bed, Matt's allergies, and the male ability to get crazy hot (and let's face it) sweaty at night, it was time for a change. So, when Protect-A-Bed offered me a Luxury Mattress Protector I jumped on it. And we've been comfortably using it since. I'm feeling good about our sleeping arrangement, but we're not always sleeping at home.

In the summer months we do a lot more bed hopping and spend some time at my family's lake house in Michigan, which was purchased by my grandparents in the later 60's. Countless people have slept in the 13 beds and laid their heads on the pillows.

Now consider this: According to Protect-A-Bed, dust mites are impossible to see and live in mattresses and pillows, living on human skin cells, and thriving in hot and humid conditions (like, for instance, a lake house in the midwest). Female dust mites produce one to three eggs per day within their 30 to 90 day lifespan. Despite their tiny size, they create 10-20 waste particles a day, each containing a protein known to cause allergies and asthma.

Now the thought of these mattresses full of dust mites is kind of gross, but not gross enough to keep me from sleeping on them. What freaks me out is the thought of W and his issues with asthma sleeping on them. What's our plan? We're bringing our mattress covers along when we go to Michigan at the end of the month.

What's your plan to ensure your family enjoys safe, healthy sleep this summer? Leave a comment here and you'll be entered in a giveaway for a Protect-A-Bed Luxury Mattress Protector. They're not only perfect for families with allergies, but they're even better for families with little kids and need a soft waterproof mattress cover. Not the plastic ones we used to have to sleep on that made noise every time we moved. Remember those? Yuck.

Here's how to enter:

1. Comment on this post and share your summer sleeping secrets. Be sure to include an email address if it doesn't connect back to your blog. (You must comment to be entered!)

2. Follow Hannemaniacs. (Look on the right side bar to follow.) Click on the "Join this Site" button.

3. Like the Hannemaniacs Facebook page.

4. Follow Hannemaniacs on Twitter.

5. Mention this giveaway to your network on Facebook and/or Twitter (one entry for each) by pasting this in your status: Enter to win a Protect-A-Bed Luxury Mattress Protector at  www.hannemaniacs.com

Please let me know which of the above actions you have done to be counted.

As always, that's SIX possible entries per person. Contest ends at 9 am Friday, July 20th. Enter now!

Disclosure: I received one complimentary Luxury Mattress Protector and one to give away to a reader. All opinions are my own.

Good Deeds 2012: Week 27 Hunger Avengers

Good Deed: Downloaded Hunger Avengers Activity Booklet and ConAgra Foods donated a meal to Feeding America.

It is often hard to remember the level of need in our country, especially the staggering number of children who are hungry. After spending nearly a week with Matt's family doing lots of eating and often scraping unfinished food into the garbage, I read a blog post by Tracey from Just Another Mommy Blog. And it was a humbling reminder of hunger in our country and a great opportunity she had to participate in making a difference. Go ahead and read it and then download this booklet.

With W's current Avengers obsession and my goal to make sure he is aware of what he puts in his mouth and appreciates his full plate of food at every meal. So, go ahead and download the booklet and someone will get a meal.

What was your good deed this week?


A Working Mom's Worst Nightmare: When Your Beloved Nanny Quits

Three kids seems to be the magic number that makes people get all serious and ask: "What are you going to do?" They seem to look at our life (two parents working full-time and three kids under four) and figure it isn't sustainable or sane.

Up until last week I would look right back at everyone and say, "We'll be fine!"

Then our nanny quit. And now I just don't know.

I haven't written a ton about Nanny K on here. She is amazing and perfect and in the almost year she has been with us I completely fell in love with her and the relationship she developed with my kids. She never once turned on the tv, enforced boundaries, taught W to put on his own shoes, took the boys to museums and the zoo, keeps her cell phone in her purse, makes sure the kids have hats on, packs lunches and finds free parking even when I give her cash... She is everything I never knew I wanted in a nanny. And now she's leaving us. I'm happy for her, because she has a job that she worked really hard to secure, but I'm devastated for us.

When she told us I started crying. My hormones are totally out of control thanks to pregnancy and I hadn't even prepared myself for the possibility that we could lose her before 2013. But, here we are... Starting a search to replace an irreplaceable nanny in just over a week. After she told us last week I sat on the train all teary-eyed and pregnant and starting reaching out to my network. I started to feel confident that I would quickly find someone just as wonderful. Yes, my well-meaning Twitter pals and their positive vibes really made me believe everything would be fine, but my enthusiasm is melting.

I've set up a number of interviews and already met one candidate (big NO) and had another cancel on me. It was when I made my list of interview questions that I realized we are going to have to find someone really, really, extraordinary. This was the question that freaked me out: You'll have to take our oldest to preschool every morning. How will you manage this with a 4 year old, 20 month old, and an infant?

Who is going to be able to do this and - beyond that - who can give me an answer that will convince me that they can handle this? Because I'm having trouble figuring out how it's going to work.

This is the absolute worst part of being a working mom. I know we'll work it out deep down inside. But, in the mean time, I'm kinda freaking out.


Happy 4th of July!

This year 4th of July was kind of a weird holiday. To begin with, it fell on a Wednesday, which was just wrong. We went to Wisconsin to spend time with Matt's family from Saturday until Wednesday, but came home on the 4th since both of us have to work on Thursday and Friday. Traveling coupled with our kitchen being torn apart (yes, we are finally redoing our kitchen!) and this crazy heat wave just made the 4th feel weird and not so festive. In fact, I was pretty much ready to scrap the whole thing and just call it a regular Wednesday.

But we decided to do something low key instead. My sister, bro-in-law, and adorable nephew met us at my parents' house who weren't home (the mature version of the kegger). We had dinner and then most of the party walked down the street to the local fireworks display. I willingly stayed back as B was sleeping and a little quiet time out of the heat sounded really good to me.

I know sometimes we run around like crazy, pile too much on our plates, and need to learn to relax more often. This just wasn't the day. After all, often when things don't sound great to mom and dad it means they're going to be really great for the kids and is worth the rally:

"I loved the red one because it made the whole sky turn red!"
W's first glow stick, which he insisted on bringing to bed.