Monday, September 1, 2014

What Fall is Like (When You Aren't a Football Fan)

By Katie --

I'm not a football fan. I went to high school games to socialize, and spent more time doing keg stands outside my college football stadium than inside it. When I say I grew up near Chicago, people tell me that I MUST be a Bears fan (I'm not) and even living in Indianapolis around 2006 wasn't enough to convince me to start painting my face blue or to name my firstborn Peyton.


For 8 months out of the year, this part of my identity is really no big deal. I get invited to cookouts, and meet up with friends on the weekends, and feel overall like I am a functioning member of society.

Then mid-August hits. And everything changes.

For those of you who love football and don't understand people like me, humor me for a few minutes and step into my fall reality. For those of you in my shoes -- you're welcome.

Photo source

Social media is a lonely place on the weekends. Every post is college or professional-football themed. Angry tirades directed at you-must-be-blind refs. Photos of babies dressed in their first college football onesies. Photos of dogs wearing UF, or IU, or XYZ sweaters. Links debating what team will win the championship that is still 100 months away. Video clips of the latest obscure record-breaking thing that will be forgotten when the next ones happens in 20 minutes. I can appreciate a cute baby or pet, no matter what he or she is wearing, but I never know if I should click that "like" button for fear that I'm associated with a particular team (which I know nothing about) for the rest of my life. 

I don't understand how otherwise sane people can be so ugly to each other in a public space over the way a new uniform looks, or a call a ref made 50 years ago, or the chances some 18 year old has to be a NFL quarterback four years in the future (especially since it seems to me that every single one ends up permanently injured or incarcerated before that chance even arrives). Social media is like one big football party on the weekends -- one I don't really want to attend, even if I was invited.  But I'm not bitter..

Photo source

Scheduling is tricky. Apparently football season means that everyone has to honor every team's schedule all at once when planning anything non-football related. If you don't follow this unwritten rule, you will inadvertently offend someone by scheduling something during a game that he or she must watch. My husband and I have an ongoing argument about fall weddings that goes something like this:

Husband: Anyone who schedules a wedding in the fall is selfish.
Me: You can't be serious?! You can watch football any time of day, any weekend in the fall. People only get married once.
Husband: Well, they should do it in the winter, spring or summer. It is so rude to expect people to come during college football season.
Me: (jaw drops to the floor, appalled).

The worst part of this conversation is that at least five other people who have been around when it has happened have agreed with him. In fact, I have yet to find one person who agrees with me that this is absurd crazy talk. What's even worse than that is that watching a football game (even just from your living room) seems to be a socially acceptable excuse to decline other invitations.  

I'm due to deliver a daughter in November -- fingers crossed she comes on a Tuesday.



Everyone wants to convert you. The comparison of football to religion is really no joke. If you mention that you don't watch football, or (gasp) don't like football, everyone thinks that he or she will be the one to enlighten you.

"Oh, you probably just haven't found the right team yet. You should watch MY team -- then you'll become a fan."

"It sounds like you've had a bad experience in the past. You should give it another try and have an open mind!"

"You poor thing! You must not have grown up with football in your house!" (disclaimer: my mother loves football, and regularly texts my husband about it)

"You haven't lived until you've worshipped at the pigskin altar (or something equally ridiculous)."

It is a waste of breath to explain your happy, non-football lease on life. People look at you with sad eyes, hoping that one day you find the light.


Any other football non-fans out there? What would you add?

     
      Katie Parsons is a freelance writer who lives with her four children, husband and the sound of the ocean nearby. Before she was a freelance writer, she worked in news media in Chicago, Orlando and Shelbyville, Indiana. Before that, she earned a Creative Writing degree from Ball State University. Katie is writing a memoir about the time when she was single and pregnant. She owns a content creation company and you can contact her by emailing her at katie@mumblingmommy.com.




 
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mumbling Mommy Bookshelf: What We’ve Been Reading

Looking for some grown-up books to read after the kids head back to school? Here's what a few of our writers have been reading lately. 


All photos via amazon.com.
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. This is the first in a series of four books about the adventures of a young farm veterinarian in Yorkshire England. Having visited the United Kingdom twice, I wanted to delve into some of the popular local literature. I enjoyed the first book so much I plowed through the rest of the series in just a few months. These are not warm and fuzzy “Chicken Soup” types of animal-lover stories. Herriot has a keen sense of humor, and his stories are often more about the eccentric people he meets in his line of work rather than the animals.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: Farm Journalist by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What young girl hasn’t loved the Little House books? This book is a collection of several decades’ worth of newspaper columns Wilder wrote while living in the Missouri Ozarks. Much of her writing deals with the specifics of farming and how to make a living raising chickens and tilling rocky mountain soil. She also talks about the importance of family and living simply, and the problem of being overly busy. She wrote some of her columns during World War I and offers opinions on that as well. Overall, the book is a fascinating glimpse into the life of the grownup Laura. While you're at it, be sure to look into Missouri State University's free online course about Laura that starts this fall.

From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden by Amy Stewart. Fellow blogger Elizabeth loaned me this book because we both enjoy gardening. This chronicles the author’s struggles and successes as she grows her first garden near the California seaside. She writes about battling insects, raising worms, and cultivating the perfect tomato. She also finds ways to include a little humor, telling her newly planted tomatoes, “All right troops, don’t let me down.”  

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Trapp. My 6-year-old daughter loves The Sound of Music, so I wanted to learn about the real Trapp family. This book written by Maria herself is similar to the movie in more ways than I expected but still differs greatly from the big screen. I was struck by Maria's description of the German invasion of Austria. I also found Maria to be a free-spirited visionary, deciding on a whim to buy a farm in Vermont and later to start a family music camp. 

Sally:

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm currently rereading one of my favorite books. My son and his wife gave me a paperback copy for Christmas and I cheered. They didn't realize how much I enjoyed this book. I whooped when I received my own copy. This is one of those books that the movie did it no justice. A must read. Elizabeth Gilbert's writing is beautiful, and her inner search during a difficult time brought out raw emotion, as well as healing. Since it's MY copy and it's a paperback, I'm highlighting beautiful word passages, and lingering on her thoughts.

Katie:

Out of Control by Shefalti Tsabary, Ph.D. The tagline to this book is "Why disciplining your child doesn't work ... and what will" so naturally I was intrigued. I've never been a big fan of parents wielding authority just because they can. I like to talk to my kids about their behavior, and what might be bothering them, instead of rushing to discipline. I'm only about halfway through this book but I'm liking the ideas presented. Dr. Tsabary says, "When we tackle the reason for the behavior, it automatically changes." She challenges the traditional belief system that parents should hand down punishments and asks how such a structure can really lead to well-adjusted adults? I'm planning to write a full review on this book when I'm done with it, but I would already recommend it to any parents struggling with their children's behavior and wondering if their current tactics are even making a difference.

Pretty Takes Practice by Charla Muller. In 2008, author Charla Muller found herself in the midst of a media firestorm when she released a book about being intimate, ahem, with her husband every day for a year. The idea for that book started when she offered the year-long gift to her husband for his 40th birthday. What she discovered in the process was that more than her sex life improved as a result, and so she wrote about it. A funny thing happened once she was catapulted to fame, however. Instead of reveling in her success, she found herself more self-conscious than ever before, particularly when it came to her appearance. Strangers on social media and message boards discussed her weight, her hair style and if she was "pretty enough" to deserve sex for a year. Muller herself began to question the way she looked and how it was portrayed to the rest of the world and so she decided to make some changes. She lost 60 pounds and delved into how to make her physical appearance better reflect her inner self. Pretty Takes Practice chronicles this journey, with some added tips on beauty from Muller's Southern upbringing. While I'm not in total agreement with Muller's emphasis on the outward appearance of women, I am finding this book amusing, light-hearted and a fun reminder that we can always change what we don't like in our lives -- no matter what the source.

Lori:


Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings by Michelle Knight. This memoir uncovers the tumultuous life of its author. From the first to the last page, I found myself rooting for her and amazed by her strength and courage. She tells readers about her rough upbringing, the hellish decade she spent trapped in Ariel Castro's home after he kidnapped her, and her present-day life. While you read the book feeling sympathetic and angry that any person would have to go through as much as Knight, you find yourself proud of her and what she has become -- a young woman whose goal is to fight for those who go missing every year. 



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What we've been reading 

Book review: Getting the Sex You Want  

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Summer of Pinterest: Cardboard Box School Room

By Rachael

This summer my daughters and I have been experimenting with crafts and activities I’ve come across while browsing Pinterest. We started with a pipe cleaner fine motor activity and played with an ice block filled with toys. Last month we made a no-sew play tent using a sheet, a hula hoop, and some safety pins.

Most kids have returned to school by now and we consider summer to be over, but the Farmer’s Almanac states summer does not officially end until the autumnal equinox on September 22. So I’ll leave you with one last craft that is especially appropriate for the start of the school year. 



I actually made this cute school room several years ago when I stumbled upon Pink and Green Mama’s blog. My oldest daughter was in preschool and just getting her feet wet in a classroom setting, so we spent a day crafting a school for dolls out of an empty diaper box. My daughters still play with it.

We cut windows and a door and pasted construction paper “wall paper” on the walls. I did a Google search for images of school bulletin boards, printed ones I liked, and cut them out to paste on the walls. I also found an image of backpacks lined up on wall pegs, as well as an alphabet chart to paste along the top of the walls. We furnished the school room with doll furniture we had on hand. We also made our own books using small folded pieces of paper, and I made a “bookshelf” out of an empty toothpick box. I decorated the outside of our school with blue construction paper and pictures of a playground and school bus.

You can make whatever rooms you want out of diaper boxes or copy paper boxes. The blogger who shared the idea has helped her kids make a dentist’s office and hospital room (search Google for poster images to print and paste on the walls), a day care, bathroom, baby nursery, and even a Little House in the Big Woods log cabin.

Parents always say their kids like playing with empty boxes more than expensive toys. This craft builds on that idea. So what will you make? 

Rachael is associate editor for Mumbling Mommy. She previously worked as a newspaper editor and has a bachelor's degree in English and writing from Indiana Wesleyan University. When she’s not busy with her husband and two daughters, you’ll find her gardening, cooking, singing with ladies from church, or reading Charlotte Bronte novels. You can contact her by e-mailing Rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

A Mom’s Guide to Life After Maternity Leave

By Lori --

Planning to return to work after maternity leave is usually difficult for moms – but so many of us have to go back. I continued working after I had my first child, and after my second I was able to stay home. Now, after two years being home full-time with my little ones, I am heading back to the office part-time. Here are some tips to make the transition back to work smoother and slightly less painful.

Photo via flickr
Do remember that this too shall pass.
The feelings of sadness and guilt often associated with heading back to work will eventually be a little less heartbreaking. It will get better. I realize it may be nearly impossible to remember after your baby was up in the night to eat and your toddler was up after a nightmare – but hang in there. You can do it!

Do get everything ready the night before.
Waking up early doesn’t usually just happen, and having a long to-do list in the morning adds to the stress and chaos. Lay out an outfit (for yourself and every member of the family). Have lunches packed so you can just grab them and go. In between giving morning kisses to the kids and making an emergency diaper change, you’ll be thankful for every second you saved by getting things ready the night before.

Do prioritize rest.
It’s hard with the long list of things you need to accomplish, but just remember, the laundry can (usually) wait. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your spouse for help when possible. One of the biggest complaints of working moms is exhaustion, so aim to get to bed earlier so you can still get plenty of sleep if your children are up during the night. This one ranks high on the list of priorities.

Do set aside some “mommy time.”
Once you are back to work, it’s easy to put your friendships on the back burner. However, working mothers should maintain relationships with other moms. They help provide you with emotional support. Schedule regular get-togethers, with or without your children. Look for activities like a mommy-and-me class or a play date at a park.

Don’t stress about nursing.
If you are nursing your baby, this can cause a lot of stress and uncertainty as you return to work. Prior to returning to work, get your baby used to taking a bottle from other people so he doesn't decide that only mommy will do and refuse bottles. Also, don't stress over finding a comfortable place to pump. Most places of employment have a designated lactation room and a refrigerator. If not, speak to your boss about finding a private place where you can pump. Speak with your boss about a pumping schedule that works for both of you. You’ll need a few breaks each day to pump.

The first few months back at your job will be full of emotions and probably not easy. You may encounter days where you are ready to quit. Stick it out if you want or need to work; the new routine takes a while to get used to. If you still find yourself overwhelmed and unable to cope, consider speaking with your boss about working fewer hours, or working a day or two from home. Just make sure to come up with a concrete plan prior to approaching your boss. I hope you can find a healthy balance for you, your home life and your career!


How did you cope with going back to work after having children?

Lori is a work-at-home mom living in Noblesville, a suburb of Indianapolis. She is mom to two children ages 3 1/2 and 2 and enjoys watching them grow. Lori also enjoys taking walks, shopping, spending time with her husband and kids, reading, decorating, amateur photography and traveling. Leave her a comment below or e-mail her at mumblingmommy@mumblingmommy.com




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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to School Giveaway - With $25 Target Gift Card and More!

The back-to-school season is usually all about the kids. Between school supplies, new outfits and lunch money, it seems like the family budget is even tighter than usual.

Which is why we decided to host a giveaway this month for moms! Some of the items are geared towards kids -- but at least they won't cost you a dime!

The contest runs until Friday, August 29th at 5 p.m. EST. We will choose one winner for each prize (for a total of 10 winners) and notify them by email. Prizes are awarded as is -- no substitutions or cash value.

Scroll down to see the many ways you can enter! Let's get started:

Prize #1: A $25 Target e-gift card, courtesy of Mumbling Mommy

If you've already purchased all your school supplies, use it for a bottle of wine or two. Prize will be delivered electronically -- no exceptions.



Prize #2: Baby bundle from Just Hatched

All products are sulfate, paraben and phthalate free. All but one are gluten free as well. Hypoallergenic. No Artificial Colors, No Animal Products, No Animal Testing. The bundle includes one of each of these items:
  • Soft Baby Body Lotion: Soothing and protecting, our yummy-smelling baby lotion combines naturally derived skin conditioners and moisturizers with essential oils to create a hydrating, skin softening formula gentle enough even for newborns. Helps protect even the most delicate skin without irritation. Both mommy and baby will love the calming, soothing fragrance. Gluten-free.
  • Bright Baby Shampoo: Bath time is happy time with our mild and gentle shampoo. Lovingly created with a combination of natural proteins, moisturizers and cleaning agents, this naturally low foaming shampoo gently cleans and brightens hair leaving it feeling soft , manageable and healthy looking. The yummy fragrance makes baby even more loveable. Gluten-free.
  • Happy Baby Body Wash: Bath time becomes happy time with our mild and gentle body wash. Lovingly created with a combination of natural proteins, moisturizers, and cleansing agents, this wonderful low foaming body wash effectively cleanses delicate skin without irritation or over drying. It’s even gentle enough for newborns. Gluten-free.
  • Love My Baby Body Oil: Help your baby relax! Love My Baby Body Oil soothes delicate skin, and creates peaceful moments. It is enriched with the finest quality sunflower, apricot, sesame, coconut and grapeseed and jojoba oils. Gluten-free.
  • Precious Baby Dusting Powder: Finish diaper changes with a feather-soft touch. Precious Baby Dusting Powder is 100% natural, absorbency boosted by tapioca starch, delicately scented by coconut powder. (This is our only product not gluten-free)
  • Sleepy Baby Body Wash: Our newest product has lavender, chamomile and bitter orange extracts to calm and soothe baby and promote sleep. The fragrance is different from the other Just Hatched items, but just as yummy. Gluten-free.
  • Butter My Bottom Tushy Cream: Keep your baby happy from bottom to top with Butter My Bottom Tushy Cream. This comforting cream protects and encourages healthy, smooth skin while banishing irritants.  Enriched with Sunflower Seed Oil, Beeswax, Shea Butter, Aloe, and Cranberry Extract. Gluten-free.
  • Cuddle My Baby Creme Talc: Wrap your baby in nurturing, silky-softness with Cuddle My Baby Cream Talc soothing cream. Cream dries to a soft, powdery finish. Lovingly made with Tapioca Starch, shea butter and green tea.


Prize #3: Coral and Gold Necklace for Mom from Pretty Colleen


Handmade items by Pretty Colleen help you to make a beautiful statement through jewelry and accessories. This one of a kind necklace features seven coral pieces of varying shapes and sizes, wire-wrapped together on a delicate gold plated chain. This piece is great for a pop of color and style when dropping the kids off at school, or a much deserved night out with the girls!


Prize #4: (3 winners) Set of 5 hair bows from Luchic


A set of five (5) beautiful hand made hair accessories for each day of the school week. This set Includes 1 pinwheel bow, 1 medium bow, 2 pairs of mini-bows and 1 pair of everyday, no-slip hair clips. Winners can select color, fastenings (no-slip hair clip or premium hair tie) and knot style for each accessory.


Luchic creates cute, comfortable hair accessories for girls while fostering a work environment that allows our small team of Canadian moms to earn a fair wage while working flexible hours from home. Our hair accessories are all made by hand using durable, kid-safe materials. Our kids love them and we think yours will too! You can read more about Luchic here.


Prize #5: Vintage Lace Headband in Peach Cahootsie Handmade


Cahootsie Handmade, the brainchild of two sisters who live on opposite sides of the country, crafts stylish accessories for the trendy tot and momma in your life. This adorable vintage lace headband in peach is the perfect accessory for your little one...or you!  

Prize #5: Jamberry Nail Wraps mini-prize pack 

You've probably heard of Jamberry nail wraps by now; if not, you've probably living under a rock! These cool nail wraps are the newest, hottest trend in nail design. Instead of polish that chips after a few days (or, let's be real, minutes) these wraps adhere to your nails and are set with heat, (think from a blow-dryer) thus creating a long lasting mani or pedi. They come in hundreds of cute colors and patterns and are affordable, too! 

Our prize has been donated by Independent Consultant Monica Hunt of Nevada. She's happy to help you with any and all of your Jamberry needs! You can find Monica's Jamberry info on Facebook or her Jamberry site


The prize includes 1 nail prep wipe, a nail file, and 1 full sheet of wraps in a super cute black and white print. 

Prize #5: (2 winners) Necklace of Choice from The Red Hibiscus Shop


Mumbling Mommy blogger Maddie recently launched The Red Hibiscus Shop, which offers adorable chunky necklaces and bracelets for girls and women. In addition to fun designs for holidays, dress up, everyday wear, or photo shoots, The Red Hibiscus Shop has also begun offering necklaces in collegiate and NFL themes. She welcomes custom orders and can match just about any outfit (or team!). Find her shop on Etsy, Facebook, or Instagram!



 
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School: Traditions that Ease the Transition

By Rachael --

When my oldest daughter started kindergarten last year, it was a big change for all of us. It was her first time attending school five days a week, seven hours a day. It was my first time being away from my daughter that long. I also have a younger daughter who had to adjust when her older sibling was no longer around all day. My husband is a high school teacher who also deals with more stress during this time of year. So I began some small, meaningful traditions to help say farewell to summer vacation and ease everyone’s transition back to school. 





My oldest just started first grade, and during the last few weeks we have repeated some of the same activities. These are our family’s back-to-school traditions:

We choose a day toward the end of summer break and let our daughter (mostly) choose the agenda. Last year, our child-directed day included a morning at a park where we played on the playground and fed ducks and geese at a pond. We ate lunch from Panda Express – my oldest daughter’s favorite restaurant – at the mall food court and played on the indoor playground.
This year, we spent a morning at a park that features a splash pad and playground. We brought a picnic lunch and stayed into the early afternoon. My daughter probably would have asked to eat at Panda Express again, but my husband and I opted to broaden her horizons and we went to a large Asian buffet our kids have never been to. They enjoyed favorites like crab Rangoon and made multiple trips to the soft serve ice cream machine, and they sampled squid, sushi, and bubble tea.

I surprise my daughter with a small gift on the first day of school. The key word is small. Last year, I bought a Rapunzel coloring book and a package of gummy bears and handed them to my daughter when she walked out of school at dismissal time. This year I upgraded a little and bought a small Lego Friends play set, which I left on her bed for her to discover when she came home.

My shopping expeditions have several purposes: I’m not typically a “retail therapy” kind of person, but shopping for a small surprise gives me a nice mission during the first day of school so I don’t mope at home. It is a celebration of the start of the school year and gives my daughter something to unwind with at the end of a long first day. Small gifts also help us spend quality time together, whether we are coloring or assembling a Lego set.

During family dinner after the first day of school, we ask each person at the table to share his or her favorite and least favorite parts of the day. This is a tradition we carry on almost every day throughout the year, but it began when my daughter started kindergarten last year. We go beyond questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." I like that we talk not only about good things. We also acknowledge disappointments and hurts, and we communicate that those feelings are legitimate and okay to share. 

Take a look at some of these other ideas if you'd like to start some of your own back-to-school traditions:
Does your family have any special back-to-school traditions? 



Rachael is associate editor for Mumbling Mommy. She previously worked as a newspaper editor and has a bachelor's degree in English and writing from Indiana Wesleyan University. When she’s not busy with her husband and two daughters, you’ll find her gardening, cooking, singing with ladies from church, or reading Charlotte Bronte novels. You can contact her by e-mailing Rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

First time here? Like Mumbling Mommy on Facebook to continue the conversation! 




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