Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tips for Organizing, from the Disorganized

For those of you who know me well, Organized may not be the first word that jumps to mind if asked to describe my wonderful personality traits (there are many, many wonderful ones). Even so, upon entering this world of motherhood and wifedom I was forced to reexamine the way I had been doing things. Here are some pointers that I’ve found to help keep me on the straight and narrow in the midst of the total chaos that comes from a disorganized person raising a kid!

1.Plan What You Can

Life with a toddler is so unexpected. Everyday has challenges and surprises, and you are going to have a lot less say in your days than you would like. Sure, a trip to the grocery store sounds like a good idea, until your kid wakes up screaming and doesn’t stop all day. Another night of spaghetti looks real good on hour 3 of the whining tsunami! That being said, it’s good to make plans, and let your munchkin in on your plan. If we have something on the schedule the next day, I always tell Lexi about it the night before (this works as a bedtime incentive too. “the sooner you go to bed the sooner we can wake up and go to music class”). This way she knows there is something coming the next day and is more likely to wake up in a good mood with something to look forward to rather than another day hanging around the house with me and the dog! Having plans ahead of time also helps when trying to get ready to pack a bag for the day. I always do what I can at night after Lexi is sleeping so there is that much less to do the next day and we can hit the ground running in the morning!

2.Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

That may be one overused cliché but So. True. Not everything is always going to go the way you want it to. As a matter of fact, 75% of the time your plan isn’t going to come to fruition the way you envisioned it, and that’s ok. Parenthood is not for the faint of heart or the freaks of control. Kids spill, kids fall, kids climb, kids make enormous messes when your back is turned for more than 5 seconds, because that is who they are, and what they are good at. They were obviously put on earth to teach us a lesson in rolling with the punches. So next time your daughter empties all the laundry out of the laundry basket you were folding to play fishing, don’t get mad or upset, hop in the boat and go for a ride with her. Laundry can ALWAYS wait an extra 10 minutes!

3.Pick a Day, Any Day

The biggest challenge for me has always been cleaning. I don’t enjoy cleaning, I don’t find it therapeutic or relaxing or any of that garbage! I clean because if I don’t, we will have nothing to eat off of, our floor would be carpeted in dog hair and we would all be running around naked. So in the name of Hygiene, I clean. As a reluctant cleaner, I’ve noticed that some of the big things can go every other week and others need to be done more often. I will pledge my undying devotion and gratitude to Josephine Cochran (for those of you who don’t know shame!!!! She invented the wondrous dishwasher) because dishes are an everyday. The rest of the stuff can be spread out over the rest of the week. In the beginning of the week I pick 2 days where I am going to vacuum the rug, one day for Laundry and one day every other week to clean the bathrooms. When we have company coming I will always clean a little more, but my general rule is I pick one day to do each of my chores and never feel too overwhelmed!

4.Know Your Limits and Don’t Push Them, Too Far

I think it is healthy to discover what you can and cannot do, push your boundaries. Take on too much once in a while, but don’t make it a habit. If you are doing too much you are going to have no energy left over for enjoying your time as a parent. Some days I have class, a ton of homework, a dog to walk and Alexis all afternoon, which usually involves a trip to the park. These are the days when frozen chicken nuggets and french-fries are a God-send. I’ve tried to do too much enough that I have a good feeling for when I need to stop. Not to say that it never happens, I’ve been known to get stressed out and -gasp- lose my temper with Alexis or Sunny. I’ve also noticed that Alexis senses my bad moods and instead of keeping her distant, the whining increases. Don’t think just because you are a grump, your kid is going to be on their best behavior, chances are they will act out more. Better safe than sorry and keep within your boundaries, it’s better to have a happy night dirty dishes than clean dishes and a grouchy family!

5.Prioritize the Demons

There are no human clones yet (that we know of), so one of me has to be enough. This is where it’s good to prioritize!!!! Not everything can be on top. Bleeding child takes precedence over straining pasta, for example. We don’t have emergency situations everyday but everything is an emergency to a 3 year old. There is no patience button we can press to let them know that getting them a fruit snack is lower on the priority list than cleaning up a doggy vomit. You have to recognize what is more important than something else and stick to your guns, take care of the priorites first, screeching child and all.

6.Mark Your Calendar

No, seriously, buy a calendar and mark your activities on it. I have a little $5.00 calendar by my sink that I mark birthdays, dates when people are coming to visit and big events like weddings and birthday parties. I look at it 10 times a day without ever having to look for it. I am technologically stunted, I can admit it, I’ve come to terms with it and I embrace it. My calendar has all my big events I need to worry about and it is all I need for my day to day things. When I reenter the work world I may need a slightly larger calendar but for now, a 1’X1’ block a day suits me just fine and I have yet to forget to pick someone up from the airport or show up late to a party!

7.Use Technology, Don’t let Technology Use You

Now that you know that I am technologically stunted let me tell you what works for me: a cell phone, a computer (that never leaves home), and an occasional GPS. I should note the GPS is new and I still don’t understand it completely, but it is a handy little guy. I should also note my cell phone is a little Verizon slide closed one, not a fancy pants $600 internet-surfing, meal-planning, calendar-keeping super phone. I don’t understand the stay at home moms who can’t leave the house without 1 of each of the following: their Blackberries, iPhones, iPads, Mac Books, and whatever else ridiculous things they have in their purses. A good website for simplifying without ovverwhelming is www.iconapps.com Being a stay at home mom is a busy thing, I understand that, I am one, but pretending you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 is not the way to go about life. Use what you need to get by, but don’t become dependent on your technologies. Remember all it takes is one Starbucks to the purse to wipe them all out, and then where will you be? Lost in your town with no idea how to get home, no way to get a hold of anyone and without any coffee to get you through it!

8.Have a Routine Without Becoming Routine

Routine is important for kids, I know this because I have heard it numerous different times from numerous different people with numerous different degrees. Duh! Of course routine is important, you can’t have your kid having a bedtime at 7:00 one night, 11:00 the next, then throw an 8:00 one in there just to mix things up. Certain routines are important, we have bedtime between 8 and 9 every night. Before bed we eat dinner together, take a bath, brush our teeth and read a story. Sometime around the middle of the day we take a nap. We go to preschool the same two days every week and go to music class the same day every week. Other than that I’m not a dictator. If Alexis is having a great time at the park and she’s not cranky or tired, we can either skip the nap or take a later one. Life is boring when you live or die by your routine, consistency is good, a stifling rigid schedule is bad! Loosen up a little the world will keep on spinning if lunch is an hour late!

9.A Happy Mommy Means a Happy Family

Yes, now that I am a mother and a wife, Alexis and Matt come first, however it is so important not to lose myself. A problem I have is letting go of some of my control with my daily life. Matt works hard, long hours so I do all Lexi stuff and the majority of the house stuff. Not good. I’ve discovered that I am so much more effective as the organizer of the family if I am not miserable. A palm to forehead moment, right? It’s one thing to know this and another to act on it. Take 20 minute showers (the drought is over), go for a run by yourself and if you really need it, run to San Diego with your best friend for the weekend. A cranky Mommy is a sluggish Mommy and a sluggish Mommy just can’t get done what needs to be done! So I’m OK with being selfish every once in a while, as long as my selfishness is kept in perspective and gratitude is shown for the selfish trips to San Diego (by the way Matt, thanks, for watching the baby this weekend!)

10.Communication Makes the World Go ‘Round

Talk! Converse! Contemplate! Check In! Again, something that is a work-in-progress in our household, but how are things supposed to get organized of everyone’s not on the same page? Matt travels a lot with work, it is a rare treat to have him home for a full week, and his schedule changes on a week by week basis. Floppy schedules make it difficult to organize outings as well as identify the things that need organizing. I’ve gotten in the habit of asking Matt what his next week looks like over the weekends and what the next day looks like every night. Tedious and repetitive? Yes. Effective? Most of the time! If I know the schedule in the beginning of the week, I know how many times that week I am going to need to cook dinner (poor Lexi is a hot dog and nugget girl when Daddy isn’t home) and how much sanity I will have left by the end of the week! We’ve been getting a lot better about letting each other know what’s going on with our schedules so that we can make sure we all get to spend some family time together during the week!

This post is part of a blogging contest from the TwitterMoms community. There is a chance this post could be randomly selected to win a $50 Target GiftCard, so wish me luck! For more details, you can view the contest page here (http://icomp.ly/IconApps).

New Direction

Matt wants me to see if we can start doing a little more with the blog, so we're entering a turning point in our bloghood. I'm going to see what options are out there for a Mommy-blogger. This means more posts, an updated page (Let's make this happen Mavs), and different topics. Enjoy!!!

Friday, April 9, 2010


Once again Easter has come and gone and that wonderful bunny left lots of goodies. It's a love/hate relationship with the bunny, my stomach loves him, my waistline does not (spoiler alert: my stomach wins 9 times out of 10).

We took Lexi to Irvine Park Railroad Eggstravaganza on Saturday and had friends over for a little good old fashioned face-stuffing on Sunday. Both were a lot of fun. I love watching Alexis become more and more established in her personality. Gone is the little girl who stood back at last years Easter Egg hunt and had to rely on another kind-hearted kid to share his candy, because she was too timid to go out and get her own. In that little girl's place is a chocolate-hungry candy monster!! The kids are only allowed to take 8 eggs each so there is sure to be enough for all, at one point Matt was trailing behind her removing 1 egg from her basket everytime she picked another up! After she got her share of the loot, she got to decorate a cookie, jump in a bounce house and the coolest of all (coolest to an almost 3 year-old, her almost 28 year-old mother was MUCH more impressed with the sugary goods)the train ride!!!! We waited inline for 20 minutes and the whole ride she was choo-chooing. Irvine Park Railroad is one of my favoite places to take her all year round, they just have so much for her to do: feeding the ducks, going to the OC Zoo, playgrounds, paddleboats, picnic areas and, of course, the train!

After IPR I sent an email out inviting our friends over on Sunday for an impromptu dinner. I didn't think many would be able to come because of the short notice but was wonderfully surprised when we had 10 people come! Some of the guys went hiking while Steph and I hung back and cooked. It was a great day, relaxed and stress-free, as all holidays should be. We broke out the fine china (paper plates) and our best crystal (Plastic cups and winetasting glasses)and had a great time!

I don't have any pictures of Dinner but I have more than enough of our Eggstravaganza adventure!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Potty potty potty potty potty all the time

This morning we reached the coup de grace in our potty training, Alexis’ final stand against the inevitability of becoming a regular potty-er. After weeks, oh who am I kidding, MONTHS of back and forth in the Battle of the Potty she had her final farewell to the world of diapers and she went out with a bang. Or to make a “mom joke”: she really made a splash! I’m sorry you had to read that. Anyway more on our early morning episode later, first let’s talk about the blond ball of stubbornness that is my almost-3-year-old, and the wild ride that has been our potty training experience.
At 18 months my beautiful, angel child was potty trained. I’m not kidding, I sat her on the potty and said “This is where we are going to do our pee pee’s from now on.” (I wonder why when I tell her how to do things I always include myself. I can assure you I have been potty trained for quite some time now) Anyway, that bright, obedient child looked up at me smiled and then peed on the potty. On her 1st try!!! The following 3 days resulted in lots of bragging on my part, “Alexis is potty trained already, I don’t know why everyone says it is so difficult” Ha! My kid! My 18 month old! Potty Trained! Chew on that Super Moms! Those were a great 3 days, I was walking on a cloud of accomplishment and an pride. On day 4 I awoke to a big slice of humble pie, who knew a 1 and half year old could put you in your place so efficiently…
We woke up and when I tried to put her on the potty, my sweet, obedient angel child turned into an alien. I swear, overnight the pod-babies snuck in and took over my little one’s body, in place of her sweet temperament they put an ornery (I know ornery is a label usually reserved for the stooped gray hairs complaining about how expensive produce has gotten in the last 60 years, but it is the best word to describe my grouchy little pod-baby) foreign personality in there. Who’s child is this? Sure she looks like mine, and sounds like mine : well except for that wining, that does not sound like my child. But MY child was potty trained yesterday, and this child refuses to sit on the potty, let alone make a deposit. And so it began. The Battle of the Potty.
When we first started potty training, we bought a little pink potty. A little pink potty that looked like a miniature throne. A little pink potty that looked like a miniature throne, that played music every time a successful potty was made! How could we go wrong with this little guy?! Well, I’ll tell you how, there is a little button hidden on the flip side of the potty that when pressed plays the same music that can be heard when pee-pee is deposited. Well, let me tell you, when this discovery was made progress made it’s swift exit. Progress, what a fickle little traitor! Who wants to sit on what essentially is a plastic chotchky adorned bucket to do their business, when diapers are dry and warm and get changed for you?! Music??? Puhlease, all I have to do to hear that music is turn the potty upside down and press that little button.
I told myself, “she’s still young, 18 months is way too young to be potty trained anyway. “ “Maybe it was just coincidence, good timing, that she was going on the potty when I sat her on it. Yes, that’s it, I just had Pee ESP, and my ESP left me as quickly as it came.” Pee ESP, another fickle traitor. Fast Forward 3 months to a Rhode Island visit. Aaaah Christmas in the North East, freezing, wet gray and full of the hopeful optimism of potty training. Our friends Joe and Jess and their adorable almost-2-year-old Madison were potty trained. Madison is only 4 months older than Lexi and look at her, saying to Jess, “Mommy I need to pee” running into the bathroom, the kid WASHED HER HANDS after she was done. It was like gazing into a glimpse of the promised land. Oh what could have been, had that evil little button never been discovered.
Our return to California was accompanied by a renewed sense of determination on my part. This child will learn to pee pee on the potty, not only that, but she will wash her hands afterward. Yes, this is the future, I have seen the future and I like it. I hit the ground running. I dusted off the throne and followed Alexis around the house with it. Praying for my P-ESP to return I would sit her on it once an hour. Nothing. This lasted for 2 weeks (my sense of my determination was a lot stronger than my actual determination) at the end of the two weeks, without so much a a drop of the yellow stuff, but with plenty of button music, I packed it up repeating what I had told myself 3 months earlier “She’s not even 2 yet, I’ll try again when she gets a little older”
Her 2nd birthday came and went and about a month later I decided now that she was two, it was FINALLY time. Somewhere in my mind it made perfect sense to think that two was the magical Age of the Potty. She has such a greater understanding of things, yes, now that she has hit that number, surely an internal switch has been flipped and she will want to celebrate her entry into toddlerhood by doing her peeps and poops in a toilet. Not so much. She would sit in her designated spot, look at me, look down and announce “It’s broken” or “It’s not working” or, my favorite, “pee pee needs new batteries”. She would then hop up, pull up her training pants and pee. Right there, STANDING NEXT TO THE THRONE! It happened day after day hour after hour, another 2 weeks of dry potty and wet diapers. It was enough to make me want to tear my hair out. Instead of making myself bald I opted for my old fallback peptalk “She’s only Two. It’s still early, they wouldn’t make diapers big enough for 2 year old if there wasn’t a market for them. More kids than not are still in diapers at her age.”
A few months passed, and my friend told me about an amazing potty method. All it took was 3 days! Imagine that, 3 days and she will be potty trained! I ordered the tutorial and gave it a go. Maybe it is very effective for normal kids, you know normal kids who feel discomfort, my daughter has no such sensitivities. A huge part of the 3 day method was the baby had to get uncomfortable when she peed in her underwear. Not Alexis. She ran around like she was dry. No big deal. Occasionally she would tell me she was “all wet” but it never slowed her down. I mean, really, 5 minutes waiting for a swing was a lifetime for a 2 year old, she was definitely not going to be losing her spot for something as ridiculous as bodily functions! HA, the thought! After a week (3 days of which were spent holed up in our apartment) and few “accidents” on the furniture and communal park equipment, I loaded the still unsoiled potty back into it’s home into the closet and pulled out the diapers.
The next month brought a visit from mother, and her notebook, filled with notes scribbled while watching Dr. Phil one day. Maude, bless her, thought that Dr. Phil had a good idea. Give Alexis a doll to teach potty to. When she teaches the doll potty, she will learn too. The problem of course, not being that Alexis doesn’t understand how to use the potty. I had given up on the hopeful thoughts of P-ESP and come to the stark realization that my daughter knows perfectly well how to use the potty, she is capable of telling me when she needs to go, she just likes her diaper. Pee-pee on the potty would only slow her down and she was going to fight it with everything she had, and lets be perfectly honest, I’m decades older than her; she has much more time to fight than I do. Needless to say Dr. Phil and his dolls in all their wisdom have never come across my daughter and her frustrating commitment to diapers and his method had 0 effect on her potty training. I had long since stopped thinking the little pink potty was cute and actually resented the thing. I didn’t even bother putting it back in the closet. Stupid thing sat in my bathroom mocking me for another 3 months.
In the fall I started school again, and Alexis started preschool (which cost more than my college classes, in part because children in diapers are more expensive, of course they are). Caught up in my classes and running back and forth to preschool, college, music classes and weekend beach trips I didn’t even think about her not being potty trained. Of course it was always in the back of my head, mainly taking the form of a question of when would I have time to potty train when I hardly had time to take a shower at the end of the day? The end of my semester rolled around and after receiving good grades I found my optimism had been restored and if it took all vacation, so be it, this child will deposit waste in her potty by the time I go back to school. Well, it did take all of vacation. All of vacation and 6 weeks into the new semester. There was a diaper discarding ceremony, an exciting trip to Target to buy underpants adorned with various Disney characters, and what I think the biggest factor that played into my success, an obsession with all things princess. Princesses did pee-pee on the potty, not only that but they had potties that looked like THRONES! Thrones that played princess music when they went pee on them.
She was potty trained, finally one month shy of her 3rd birthday. YIPPPPEEEEEE. Which brings us to our incident this morning; It has been about 2 weeks since we’ve had a pee-pee accident and 4 days since a poo-poo boo-boo. As I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel Alexis must be seeing the light at the beginning disappearing because she made one last-ditch effort in the Battle of the Potty, she Peed.On.The.Dog. I am basking in the glory of a successful 1st half of the semester being over, emptying the dishwasher, completely unassuming when I hear Lexi and the dog playing with each other (the dog that was housetrained in 2 days, thank you very much). “How nice they get along so well” I thought to myself. Then I hear it, “Mommy, I peed on Sunny!.” That adorable little voice coming out of the adorable little toddler. Adorable. No way did the adorable child do that, she’s far too adorable. Sure enough there was an adorable little puddle forming underneath the puppy, dripping off her back and my ahem-adorable daughter standing there with a big smile on her face. I couldn’t believe it. So close I could taste it and then this!! After a serious talk and a dog bath we are back to going in the potty. I hope.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome Sunny!

Well, I have been pretty absent from the blogging realm and this is the reason why:

Meet Sunny! She is a yellow lab and the new terror of the Caldwell household. Alexis Loves Loves Loves dogs and we thought, now that she is 2 and a half and has a much better grasp on being able to defend herself it is time to get a dog! We thought wrong. Matt (and I love him with every ounce of my heart) came home from getting his haircut and said "Want to go look at a dog?" Well we loaded up into the car and made the trek to the petstore and fell in love with the sweet puppy. She was so well behaved that first night, just a love sponge, and I thought, ' awwww this is going to be great, Norman Rockwell shold be taking notes'.

The next day, my husband (who I love very dearly) left on business for 2 weeks. and when he left he took our dog's sweet demeanor and my sanity with him. Sunny the Saint was a saint no longer. Not only did the dog change but I miraculously made the switch from loving mother to frustrated Circus Ring Leader. My life was altered irreversably and is now a neverending circle of pulling baby off dog, dog off couch, baby off counter, dog out of toy box, baby off dog, dog out of bedroom, baby out of fridge, dog off baby etc etc etc. I've been told before that I have a slight problem with being assertive and I think it is pretty safe to say that never in my 28 years have I said the word "NO!" so much.

Now that we have had the dog for a month and neither the baby, the dog or Matt is sick anymore (oh yea, did I mention that when Matt got back from two weeks of business trips he was sick for another week?)things are getting a little easier. we've discovered that Lexi loves dogs, but loves to instigate dogs more. We've also learned that despite every stranger in the street giving you their unwanted opinions on what you are doing wrong when training your dog, a 3 month old puppy CAN be housetrained and learn not to jump on people. We've also learned that Marly and Me should be required viewing/reading for anyone considering getting a labrador, because the junk that the dog eats was not exagerrated at all in the movie, in case you were skeptical, don't be.

Here are some pictures of our new addition that I took in some rare moments of down time between banging my head against a wall and planning my escape to Mexico.