Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Two years later, it's pretty funny

I am thankful for my discovery of blogging for many reasons. One of the best? I love how my blog can live forever, a chronicle of all the trials, tribulations, joys, and laughs I have experienced as mom, the most important job title I will ever hold.

I was looking back at my archive, specifically around the month my sweet Amelia turned two... and consequently, not so sweet anymore. I had no love for these moments at the time, but now? They totally make me laugh.

Two favorites?

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

She'll Hate This Story When She's Twelve

To think, I might have forgotten these moments ever happened.

Thanks, blogging.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Step it up a notch

I am a human, a woman, and both a working and stay-at-home mother. I could not survive the hustle of real life if it all had to be perfect. “Good enough is enough” is my mantra. Cleaning the house? Chores? Dolling myself up with hair and makeup? You bet - good enough is absolutely fine.

When it comes to improving my inner self, however, I rarely settle for good enough. I am in a constant state of wonder, of questioning, of change. I think to myself, how can I be better?

As a mom to an almost 4-year old (who gives me a run for my money in the brains department), I have vast room for improvement. I need to keep an even, non-emotional tone. I need to work on my patience. I need to let loose and play once in a while, even if it makes a mess. I need to compliment her efforts more often, instead of only reprimanding her problem moments.

Our children model their behaviors on ours. Have you ever seen Nanny 911? Supernanny? These parenting experts never adjust the kids… they fix the parents. I am thankful and proud for the amazing little girl we have raised so far. She is a joy to travel with, she behaves in restaurants, she is a quiet listener in school, and she has a genuine desire to make us happy. But she is a preschooler – she has an attention span of approximate two-point-five minutes and everything, from dressing to getting in the car, takes exponentially longer than I think it should. And now, she gets impatient with me sometimes. She uses a short tone of voice. She questions my rules. And when she does these things, I can see how it mimics exactly what she hears on the other side.

I am mom and she is child, I get this. But I do wish her a calm, happy, balanced life. I will never be perfect, but I can always step it up a notch. Every human on earth has something (several things) that could stand improvement. If a few personal improvements can make my daughter a better mommy one day, then I am all for it.

I just have to take a breath and remember them when I’m completely annoyed.
And that's the hardest part, isn't it?

Friday, January 27, 2012


Recently, a fellow Georgia Social Media Mom (Stacie, at The Divine Miss Mommy) posted a photo and caption on Facebook:

Cracked me up! It is astounding how many things we grew up with that just do not exist anymore.

At Christmas, my parents pulled out my 1980s Fisher Price record player:

Amelia had no clue what it was, but once we showed her how to play music, she enjoyed it. "It's like a CD, Mommy." Well... of course it is.  

My first video game system? It did not have wireless controllers. It did not send light lasers to detect my body movements. It didn't even have a joystick. We had an Intellivision, with games like Snafu and Burgertime:

And remember car phones? The kind that actually had a cord connected to the car? A college friend had one of these and I remember thinking it was pretty cool.

Today, I carry an iPhone that can do just about anything. Some of you may even be reading this post from a phone. Pretty amazing, huh?

What old-school technologies would your kids not recognize today?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WW: A trip through my wedding album

On January 25th nine years ago, I married someone who was (and will always be) my best friend. Happy 9th anniversary to my partner in life, travels, and parenting.

I love that last one. It was taken just as things were about to wind down. I was exhausted and my face hurt from smiling all day. It truly warms my heart to see how many people shared our special day and stayed until the very end of the celebration.

I think Mom got buried in the crowd somewhere back there.... :)

- - -
These are photos-of-photos from my wedding album. Original photo credit: Eddie Lambert of Lambert's Photography. Anyone in East Tennessee? Look him up! He's a great guy and a talented photographer. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Together travels

Sometimes my job is a glamorous one. You take me to places far and wide, where the sun gleams bright or the snow reflects, brisk and white. I am fond of the islands, where your heart releases its grasp on any heaviness. There, you seem freer, lighter, with an extra spoonful of joy. You savor those extra magical moments to breathe, to look, sometimes simply to sit in silence. Salty sea breezes brush across our surfaces, mist gently clings to everything around, outdoor sounds soothe the soul. I shield your eyes from harshness so you may enjoy your time to bask in the glorious moments of worry-free vacation.

Today, I wait in darkness. Rain soaks the world around us, the ho-hum of a regular day. You do not need me today, but I will linger. I remain poised, at the ready for the next grand adventure.

Where shall we go together next?

Write on Edge: RemembeRED

This week, tell a piece of your story from the point of view of an object who bore witness.

Monday, January 23, 2012

She drew a rainbow

I came across this poem the other day, and my face broke out in a smile. No one was around, no one could see my happy face, but I couldn't help but grin.

This reminds me so much of my own little artist. One day, she will be too big to draw rainbows.

A Little Daughter

She drew
Mother and father
Brother and sister
And a rainbow

She drew
A tree and a root
A stone and a brook
And a rainbow

She drew
A house and a roof
A chimney and a sweeper
And a rainbow

She drew
A path and a step
A sound of a key
And a rainbow

She drew
A table and chairs
A meal and desert
And a rainbow

She drew
A bed and a lullaby
A good night kiss
And a rainbow

She drew
The night and a star
A Moon upon a star
And a rainbow

She drew
Mother and father
Sister and brother
And a rainbow
--Miroslava Odalovic

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I want to see you...

When you are 4, I want to see you dance.

When you are 5, I want to watch you paint.

When you are 6, I want to hear you spell.

When you are 7, I want to watch you run.

When you are 8, I want to hear you read.

When you are 9, I want you to tell me about the states.

When you are 10, I want to meet your best friend.

Years and years after that, I want to see you happy. I want to watch you grow. I want to see you value yourself, love who you are, and surround yourself with people who treat you with respect.

Many women lack confidence. They allow others to hurt them, because they don't believe in their own worth. They put on a false face to hide the insecurities inside. They choose men who aren't worthy of being their Prince Charming.

I love that Daddy is your Prince Charming today. I love that you dance and sing. I love that you find pride in your accomplishments, and that you always strive to do new things.

You are smart enough, good enough, and pretty enough. You are special.

For all your life, I want to see you smile.

- - - -
This post was inspired by the idea behind All Thing's Fadra's Stream of Consciousness Sunday. Write for 5 minutes. No editing, just write. Captured some random thoughts from late Saturday night. Maybe one day, if I do something right, she will grow up and listen to me.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Celebrating the transformation with a thank you #giveaway

I believe the change to BalancingMama.com is finally complete!

@BalancingMama on Twitter? Check!
BalancingMama.com URL? Check!
Email updated to Julie@BalancingMama.com? Check!

And now, a new Facebook page - no longer 3MomsIn1, but BalancingMama! Unfortunately, a simple name change is not allowed on Facebook, so I had to create an entirely new page. Please help me build the "likes" over there - click and like BalancingMama!

My brand is finally consistent. This makes my advertising professional side very happy. Woo hoo!

To celebrate, I'm hosting a thank you giveaway. I want to thank you all for reading, commenting, and offering support whenever I'm losing my mind. My online community was second only to family in providing prayers, virtual hugs, and happy thoughts during the past week as Amelia underwent and recovered from surgery.

It's funny... very few of you do I know personally. Most of you I have never met. But I know who I can count on to lend a positive word when it's needed. THANK YOU.

Giveaway has ended. But my thanks live on forever! :)

I want to give TWO winners an
Amazon.com e-gift card!
Amazon has pretty much everything, and the emailable gift cards are so convenient. You will get your prize right away!

Winner #1 will receive a $20 gift card.
Winner #2 will receive a $10 gift card.

To enter, do either (or both!) of the below:

(1) Leave a comment below with your email address

(2) Like the new BalancingMama Facebook page, then leave TWO additional comments below (+2 entries!)

Good luck! And thank you, thank you, thank you! 
- - - -

Rules: Giveaway ends on Tuesday, January 31st at 8:00 p.m. EST. Winners will be selected via Random.org. I will notify winners via email provided in the comment. Amazon e-gift cards will be emailed within 48 hours of initial contact.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Good morning, sunshine

This is the time of day she seems so little. Tousled bed-head, blankets cuddled in each arm, cozy, cuddling on the couch. Moments before, Mommy dragged her from her butterfly-adorned big girl bed, helped her sleepy little body into clothes, and escorted her by the hand to where she assumed a resting position once again. The bright colors of the Disney Channel flicker on the television - usually Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, maybe Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

Groggy child. Peaceful moments... off to preschool in a few minutes.

I ponder the breakfast choices; she is most picky at this time of day. Strawberry milk? Or maybe chocolate today? If she refuses milk (this has been happening too often lately), perhaps some V8 Splash? Some days she loves pancakes. Other days, a peanut butter chocolate chip granola bar does the trick. Trix yogurt, with it's super-sugary flavors and child-friendly colors, is always a winner. If we are lucky enough to have bananas on hand before they've turned dark brown and mushy, I offer one of those. But I must do so carefully; sometimes she wants a big banana, other times she wants it cut up in a bowl.

For this particular meal each day, I cater a little extra to her demands. I prepare to send her off to preschool, and I want to wave goodbye knowing she has a full and happy tummy.

- - - -
Linked up to Mama Kat's Pretty Much World-Famous Writer's Workshop today! Prompt: Describe the scene at breakfast.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WW: January 12th, surgery day

One of the most difficult days of my life. I have gone into surgery for myself a couple times, but nothing compares to the emotional overload when your child is the patient.

Loritab makes her silly!
And she was thrilled that her animals got hospital gowns too.
My badge of honor.
Not a happy camper, but on our way home at last.
The first daytime nap this girl has taken in over a year.

The next day - all smiles at The Olive Garden.
Time will tell as her eyes re-learn to work together.
Thanks to all who have expressed their support and send virtual hugs and prayers. I will speak with the doctor soon and we follow-up in person on February 8th. It can take weeks for her eyes to become straight again. 

Waiting is not easy. I still have fear that we made a bad choice, but the fear is receding as I observe small improvements each day.

Patience, mama. Patience.

- - -
iPhone Photo Phun

UPDATE!  The surgeon worked us in early this morning for a follow-up visit. All is OK! Amelia is still seeing double, but he is not concerned. We got some prescription eye drops for inflammation and once we get that cleared up, she will feel less discomfort, the eye muscles can relax, and her vision will be able to adjust more normally. Nothing we're experiencing right now is abnormal, nor is it bad news. Whew! This mama can finally breathe again. Lesson learned - insist on the doctor if the worry is too great to handle. The early wake-up and copay were well worth it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Those kind of parents

Amelia’s ophthalmologist once declared to us,

“That’s why I work in pediatrics. I love children. I don’t like their parents.”

He is an outstanding physician. His demeanor with our daughter is fun and effective. She likes going to see him. Steve and I, not so much. He is difficult to address. He is very quick to answer (push aside?) our questions. He would like us to sit back, stay quiet, and let him do his job.

This is where the trust comes in. We need to trust his depth and breadth of experience. He knows his stuff. He has treated literally thousands of children with the same kinds of eye issues as Amelia.

But when it’s my baby? Trust is much harder to put into practice. I feel like I get so flustered around this doctor that I never get my questions out. Sometimes if I get a question out, I feel like it is not completely answered – or at least to a level where I can soak it in and understand.

Amelia’s eye surgery was five days ago. She is feeling great, but still looking a bit rough and not seeing correctly. There are still “two mommies” and “two daddies” in her daily life. From what I understand, this could be completely normal. However, my patience is being tested big time. And I am failing this test.

Steve and I cannot be patient anymore.

I called the doctor today and he will see us bright and early tomorrow morning. So maybe I’m a pain in the butt. Maybe I’m an overreacting mother, the kind that drives pediatricians up the wall…

But ya know what? I don’t care. Both Steve and I need to know this is all okay. Hopefully after the appointment tomorrow, we’ll have the reassurance that we so desperately need.

Wish us luck! Prayers for our little lady’s baby blues are welcome too.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ahhh! Politics!

2012 is going to be a long year. It is only mid-January and political "news" has me sticking my fingers in my ears, yelling "la la la!".  I do not want to hear about it. Yes, I am thrilled to live in a democratic country. Yes, I vote each November. I am grateful for the opportunities and proud to be an American. But I can not stand hearing about every sneeze, mistake, or (likely unkept) promise from every potential candidate in existence.

I think they are all the same. Enormous egos. They calculate how to get the most votes with little concern for the big picture beyond. They are much more concerned with "party lines" than efforts to benefit the country as a whole. Congress can not accomplish anything because they are too busy bickering. And too busy adding off-topic and often ridiculous ideas to bills; a bill about education should not include thirty-five extra "interests" that have nothing to do with education. It only muddies the waters - and leaves the truly beneficial ideas to be swept into the trash. Our electoral process pretty much eliminates the opportunity for a third party or independent to win a major election, and the process will never get changed if the people who must change it have no problem with it in the first place - like two big bullies on the playground who refuse to let anyone else in the game for fear the newbies may win.

I do not follow party lines. I will do my research when the time comes to try to figure out who will win my vote. In the meantime, I hope to avoid as much political gossip (er, I mean "news") as possible. Surely there is some good news to report? Important scientific advancements that deserve to be front and center? A kid or a mom who did something amazing?

By the looks of the news sites, nothing else is going on.
And our election is almost a year away!

- - -
Disclaimer: It is quite unlike me to even mention the dreaded "P" word (politics). I do not claim to be an expert in the area... clearly, I avoid it as much as possible. I would love to hear your views and respect the ideas of others. The above is purely my opinion.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The day after...

Pain. Helplessness. Impatience.

That’s my day today. I am heartbroken when I look at my innocent little girl. Her face is puffy, blood pools in her eyes, and she is looking at her world with one eye shut. She had eye muscle surgery yesterday. Our choice. We did this to her.

We knew this would happen the first few days. We were informed over and over again that he brain needed time to adjust to the eyes’ new placement, that she may be cross-eyed with double vision. My rational side is taking this experience one day at a time, fully understanding that what we see today is not what we may see one week from now.

But my emotional side, my protective mommy side, is on the verge of complete meltdown. Her condition was very mild. Only close family observed her eye movement. No teachers, friends, or neighbors even noticed. But she began to tell me that her “eye wouldn’t stay still”, that she wanted it to be fixed. So we moved forward, put on our brave faces, and sent her into surgery.

And now that she looks worse than ever? The dark intruder, guilt, is hitting us hard.

What did we do?

Did we break our only child?

We were pressured into a quick choice?

Did we make a huge mistake?

I have had plenty of experiences with mommy guilt. But this one beats them all. I need the rational side to speak a little louder today. To tell me it’s going to be okay. To remind me that come Monday or Tuesday, she will be greeting me (and only one of me) in the morning with both eyes wide and a smile across her sweet, soft face. To tell me that Daddy and I did the right thing. To tell me she isn’t mad at us.

I know these things… truly, I do. But it still hurts. A lot.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WW: That grin

Gotta love this little lady's silly grin.

Feeling a bit sentimental today; surgery on those little eyes tomorrow morning. But on an exciting note? Her first dance class is this afternoon! Can't wait to see my superstar do her thing.

"A smile from a child is packaged sunshine & rainbows"

- - -
iPhone Photo Phun

When you have to let go

“Making the decision to have a child - It's momentous.
It is to decide forever to have your heart go
walking around outside your body.”- Elizabeth Stone

Sometimes, you have to let go of your baby. Every now and then, you have to release the protective grip and put your heart and soul into someone else's hands. You have to trust.

My sweet girl is having eye surgery tomorrow. A supposedly "minor" procedure that should take only about 30 minutes. I have several friends who have had much younger children in surgery, and more major surgeries at that. I know it will be okay. I understand that I am blessed with a healthy child. We simply need to fix an eye issue that could lead to vision troubles and teasing as she gets older. We are not battling cancer, heart problems, or any serious internal problems.

But I am still scared. Worried about my baby going under anesthesia. Concerned with her feelings, her level of understanding. Heartbroken that she may wake up in a room she does not recognize, calling for me. Nervous about her level of pain and how soon she will be able to play again.

I cannot wait for tomorrow to be over. I want to be on the recovery side. This date has been looming on the calendar for a month, and my heart has been palpitating more and more.

Her baby blues are amazing.

Send us happy thoughts and prayers, please.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I knew what I wanted.

I knew what I wanted.
I wanted the elevator ascent to a brightly-lit office suite with my name on the door. I desired the personal, respectful greeting as I pulled open the glass doors. I wished for the designer shoes, sleek business suits, and unexpected accents of bold jewelry.

I knew what I wanted.
I wanted the importance, the challenge, and the authority.

When I was in college, I visualized my rise to the top of the business world. In one graphics design course, I created a complete stationery set for my would-be company. I typed my double-spaced essays and bubbled in my scantron sheets with a #2 pencil; and I did so with excess confidence. I knew I was good enough, smart enough. And I knew what I wanted; to tackle the world, smash through glass ceilings, and show “them” what I had inside.

Fast-forward eleven years. At the office, my business card shows the same job title I had five years ago. Four different employers are listed on my resume. Assistants and interns I once helped to train are leaping over me.

But my unfulfilled goal? Is just fine with me.

I traded the glory – and countless hours of office work – for my family. Now I view my reflection in the elevator door only two days each week. There is no view from my office – no window, actually. I own zero business suits, but countless tees and jeans. My name does not grace a country club member list, but my wallet is filled with open play passes at various kid-friendly gyms and indoor playgrounds.

I have no doubt about my abilities. If I threw my entire heart, soul, and brain into the business world, I would find success. But today? I no longer need that definition of success to feel fulfilled. BalancingMama – that is my success. My identity. 100% real with no regrets.

- - -

This week's prompt: Write a memoir piece about an unfulfilled goal or a broken resolution, beginning with the words, “I knew what I wanted”.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Count on one hand

Hundreds of Facebook friends.
1,300 Twitter followers.
Blog readers, coworkers, acquaintances…
  ... so many people in this world.

But you know what they say; when it comes down to it, you can count your very best friends on one hand.

Without a doubt, I know the people who belong in my count. They are few, but they are steadfast. Unwavering. People I can always count on to love, support, and listen.

These friends are not jealous, they revel in my successes – just as I rejoice in theirs.

These friends are not wary of silence, because we are confident of our place in one another’s lives.

These friends provide guidance, but never say “I told you so”.

These friends will pick me up time and time again, just as I would lift them.

These friends care, even across miles. Distance does not shake the bond.

I was thinking of these people last night as I waited for sleep to come. And I had a peaceful, happy sleep.

Some of you I see weekly, some only once per year. But you know who you are. I love you! Thanks for holding such a solid place in my life.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Disney fun without the park

When you take on a long road trip like driving up to Tennessee and all the way back down to south Florida, it is important to have a stop now and then for some special fun. We have made it a habit to stop at Disney World each year.  Disney is magical and exciting even without going to the parks. If rates are reasonable (not likely between Christmas and New Year's), we try to stay at a Disney resort hotel for the night. If not, we at least visit the hotels, have dinner on property, ride the monorail to see the castle from the window, and shop at Downtown Disney.

This trip, we experienced our very first Cinderella dinner at the Grand Floridian hotel. It was a buffet dinner with tons of great food, heavenly desserts, pomegranate lemondade, and a special meet-and-greet experience featuring Prince Charming, Cinderella, the stepsisters, and the stepmother.

Amelia wore her Rapunzel hair and brought Paschal along. What fun!

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

We crashed in a nearby Hampton Inn. Amelia rested with her iPad movies and later had dreams of princesses.


I will never, ever be too old for Disney magic.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Let's Bee Friends

Pop on over to Bees With Honey today to check out my guest post on Let's Bee Friends Friday! I'm talking about three things I've learned so far as a mom.

She has a linky and a blog hop too!

Happy Friday!
I've been back to work for one day but yes, I am excited for the weekend! Time to organize the Christmas toy explosion that has rocked my entire home. And hopefully some extra sleep too.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Time to get real

Back to life,
back to reality.
Back to life,
back to the present time.
Back from a fantasy, yeah.

--lyrics from an En Vogue song

With the exception of one 14-hour overnight stop at our house, we have been away since the unseasonably warm morning of December 23rd. We had a peaceful, happy Christmas in Tennessee with my parents, aunt and uncle, and sister and brother-in-law. Amelia is the only child on my immediate side of the family, so she relished all the attention. We opened family gifts on Christmas Eve, following church and a scrumptious home-cooked feast. And of course, Santa knew to find Amelia there. He hung two gorgeous, sparkling princess dresses on the tree and placed gifts and a filled stocking below. We played and played and played together.

After our brief stop at home, we traveled south to Orlando where Cinderella and Prince Charming awaited us for a dinner buffet. The stepsisters and stepmother were there too - Amelia loved their antics! The next morning, we continued our journey to south Florida for several active and fun-filled days with family. Amelia is the baby on that side of the family, so she was once again the recipient of many toys and MUCH attention.

We finished our journey with a mini vacation to the Gulf Coast, just the three of us. Two nights there, and a long drive back to the ATL today.

So, hopefully this explains my lack of blogging! It has been a busy two weeks. We are completely worn out, but it was a wonderful, magical, joyful adventure. I'll be sure to share many photos in the days ahead.

Amelia and I are really going to miss Daddy tomorrow!

Now to plan our next voyage...
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