Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Extreme Couponing

Have you seen that show on TLC? As with all reality shows it aims for excitement and drama, more than reality. Yes, you can save a bunch of money by using coupons. But, unless you plan to live on only dry goods and processed foods, you can't feed a family of 8 on $10 a week. Occasionally you see them buy meat and produce with their "overage" from coupons.  Usually though you don't see them buying meats and produce.

Then there's the "stockpile". Who really needs 1000 tubes of toothpaste? First, would you even use that much in a lifetime.  Second, don't you need that space in your house for something you will use? Lastly, there are plenty of homeless shelters that could use the donation. I view that not as stockpiling, I view that as hoarding.

The time involved in this is amazing. On a typical episode I hear quotes of 30 or 40 hours a week spent couponing. Last week the lady flat out said that if anyone tells you they're spending less than 10 hrs a week is lying. These people obviously view this as their job because how much is your time worth?

I am feeding 8 people. If you feed 4 you probably cannot imagine what feeding 8 looks like. Though I am sure my friends with 10 or 12+ would love to only feed 8. I mention this though because of space and stockpile. What is a good start of a stockpile for the family of 4, only feeds us for 2 weeks. I don't have the space to stockpile much.  If I shop for 2-3 weeks of food I fill up my walk in pantry and 2 freezers.

My time is stretched thin. If parenting 1 kid is a full time job, I am working overtime already. We have activities M-Th plus games Saturdays and/or Sundays. My free time starts around 9pm unless I get up at 6 am. In order to squeeze in 10 hrs of couponing that would mean I need to coupon 9-10pm and 6-6:30am every day of the week.

That does not mean I don't want to save a couple dollars. My grocery budget is higher than my mortgage. I decided to give couponing a try.  First we try the binder method. That is time consuming, for someone.  I say, "for someone" because my teen voluntarily clipped and organized a lot of them. I then switched to the file method.  A few weeks ago I even met up with some friends, we got to trade coupons. That is certainly the upside to couponing.  While A2 and J4 played on the playground I got to chit chat and trade. Too bad baby L wouldn't cooperate by eating her snack or at least riding on my back, all she wanted to do was eat dirt, pine straw, and pine cones. It definitely makes "moms couponing night out" sound needed.  Though doesn't paying for dinner negate some of my savings?

There's more to couponing than clipping and organizing. You have to read the ads, match to coupons, make your list and know the regular prices. Southernsavers.com and similiar websites do the matching for you and even let you create a list. Regular prices are so much more confusing. Walmart has the everyday "lowest prices" on so many things. Walmart never has the buy 1 get 1 free, 2 for 1, 10 for $10, etc sales though. In the end Walmart is pricier for so many things.  At the same time though, I learned the everyday, regular price varies so much. For example, I managed to score one of Heinz's $2 off Facebook fan coupons. At Walmart $2 gets you the $1.98 40 oz bottle for free. That same bottle was $2.39 at Target and over $3 at the grocery store. That is a huge variation is prices.

Who has time to go from store to store? After you've spent 10 hours couponing you probably don't have much time left. Then there's the trip prep while the babies press the buttons on the printer your trying to use to print coupons. My prep does not involve dumpster diving. My kids have had their tetanus shots but we are still not climbing in dumpsters. The racecar carts the kids love does buy me 3 aisles of the grocery store. A free cookie might get me another aisle. It's a shame we don't have any of those pay per view movie carts around here, that might get me 5 aisles. There is nothing in the world that is going to get them to agree to 3 stores. I could go on the weekend, but call me selfish, I like to spend time with hubby and the school aged kids.

Yes, I think couponing is a great way to save money. Stockpiling helps to make couponing even better. Hoarding and dumpster diving is just insane though.  Yes, the TV show brings to light the great savings that are to be had out there.  But to me, the only thing the show does, is encourage people to print 10 of each coupon from 5 different computers so that the coupon reaches it's print maximum before the rest of us can print any.  Then they take those to the store to clear the shelves so there is nothing left for the rest of us.  Maybe if we commit all the "crazies" out there letting their kids crawl around in dumpsters then they'll be some items left at the store for the rest of us. If they're in the loony bin they can't clear the shelves of all the pain reliever. I mean those of us just trying to save a couple dollars might need some of that for the headache it brought on. Or maybe that's just me with the headache, because I'm slightly crazier than the rest. I take 3 kids under 5 couponing with me.

Don't forget free is the best way to go, check out my previous blog post for a chance to win something for free.  Maybe a coupon bag, or reusable produce bag?

Friday, May 27, 2011

GIVEAWAY-So many patterns, so hard to chose

There are so many projects out there to crochet that my www.ravelry.com favorites list just keeps growing. Then I look at all the patterns for sale at www.etsy.com and I want them all. Since it is so warm here now, the typical scarves, winter hats, mittens, sweaters, etc just aren't calling to me. To pick something else I've been having to look around. The more I look, the bigger those lists get. Kindle covers, amigurumi, sundresses, and so much more my head starts to spin. When you have such a long list it is so hard to chose what's next.

I decided I would bribe ya'll to help me pick what to work on. This will also be my very 1st giveaway. All you have to do is comment below with a link to a pattern (free or for purchase) or make a suggestion of a project to do. You can find patterns on blogs, www.etsy.com, www.ravelry.com, www.bevscountrycottage.com, www.crochetpatterncentral.com, and so much more. However, in most cases, if you leave a suggestion I can find a pattern for it as well. The project should be "crochet" because if you suggest knit it will take a year to get your prize :-D

I will chose the winner using random.org.  The winner will be chosen around (I say around because we live on "kid time") 9am Eastern on June 6th from the comments listed at that time.  Only 1 entry per person.  If you comment more than once I will only count the 1st comment as an entry.  If you have more than 1 suggestion you can put them all in 1 comment but I will only chose 1 to make.  If there is no way to contact you with your comment, it will be up to you to watch the blog to see if you win, then contact me.  If you do not contact me within a week (or respond to my contact to you) I may redraw the winner.  Turnaround time will vary depending on the size of the project, size of the yarn and size of the hook used.  It could be a couple days to a couple months.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

All you're ever gonna be is mean

I swore I wouldn't blog about spanking, I just don't like opening that can of worms.  I'm "that" mom enough that I don't need to start dabbling in spanking, abortion, politics, or circumcision.  This song is popular on the radio though so I hear it daily.  When I hear this song I think of spanking children.  So I will put on my fire retardant suit, prepare for the flames, and post a spark.  It takes too long to get my suit on though so don't expect me to do this regularly.

Here's the song I mean.

Taylor Swift Mean lyrics from Taylor's highly anticipated 2010 album "Speak Now".
"Mean" by Taylor Swift
You, with your words like knives
And swords and weapons that you use against me,
You, have knocked me off my feet again,
Got me feeling like I’m nothing.
You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard
Calling me out when I’m wounded.
You, pickin’ on the weaker man.

Well you can take me down,
With just one single blow.
But you don’t know, what you don’t know,

Someday, I’ll be living in a big old city,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Someday, I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Why you gotta be so mean?

You, with your switching sides,
And your walk by lies and your humiliation
You, have pointed out my flaws again,
As if I don’t already see them.
I walk with my head down,
Trying to block you out cause I’ll never impress you
I just wanna feel okay again.

I bet you got pushed around,
Somebody made you cold,
But the cycle ends right now,
You can’t lead me down that road,
You don’t know, what you don’t know

Someday, I’ll be, living in a big old city,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Someday, I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Why you gotta be so mean?

And I can see you years from now in a bar,
Talking over a football game,
With that same big loud opinion but,
Nobody’s listening,
Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things,
Drunk and grumbling on about how I can’t sing.

But all you are is mean,
All you are is mean.
And a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life,
And mean, and mean, and mean, and mean

But someday, I’ll be, living in a big old city,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean. Yeah,
Someday, I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Why you gotta be so ?
Someday, I’ll be, living in a big old city,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean. Yeah,
Someday, I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Why you gotta be so mean?

I am sure that many children who are spanked properly, not in anger, feel love from their parents.  They do not view their parents as "mean" or hold a grudge from it.  Many more view it as mean and vow to end the cycle, just like is said in this song.  For some it holds a lifelong memory as this woman has written about, How Spanking Changed My Life.  Here we are preaching to our children that it is never OK to hit and then we turn around and hit.  You can call it spanking or discipline but a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  Or in this case a thorn by any other name will hurt as much. 

Maybe you feel the benefits of this style of discipline outweigh the consequences.  That is a decision each family has to make.  I cannot hit my children because I was raised never to hit, period.  It was the one rule that never changed, non negotiable, zero tolerance.  I cannot, to this day, ever hit anyone.  Maybe if it was life threatening and my adrenaline took over, I could defend myself.  But to hit someone smaller than me who is not a threat, I can't do it.

Since we do not spank I am not sure why spanking is the first thing that comes into my head when I listen to the lyrics of this song.  The lyrics of this song are actually not about spanking.  The lyrics of this song aren't even about hitting or abuse.  The lyrics of this song are about putting other people down.  That of course brings forth the point that emotional abuse on children is just as prevalent.  There is no reason to put your child down.  There is no reason to call them a brat.  There is no reason to shut up.  Treat them like you want to be treated and how you want them to treat others.

Maybe it makes me think of spanking though because I witness spanking almost daily, it is a common form of discipline here.  That is something that is etched into my head when I see or hear it, it is something that makes my heart ache.  I have memories of children being threatened for a way they are feeling that comes out as a "look on your face".  I have memories of the embarrassment of a child smacked in the middle of a crowded store.  I have the memory of a child being dragged into the bathroom to "get it".  A child crying when they are threatened with "the bathroom".  A fearful child who is told what to expect "later".  I have the memories of children, after the fact, being threatened again because someone is going to "give them something to cry about" when they are already crying because it was given to them.

Not everyone who spanks is demeaning like that.  I just cannot see that reacting in love can result in pain.  I cannot see how someone cannot hit without any shred of anger.  I cannot see how reacting in anger can allow someone to do it properly.  I cannot see how someone who has inflicted pain on another cannot feel badly.  I certainly cannot see how a child can feel true remorse when it is being forced on them.  I cannot see how a child's self esteem survives completely unscathed.  If this effects both the giver and receiver so strongly I wonder what it does to their relationship.  Who feels better after "picking on the weaker man", the giver or the receiver?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mommy Bloggers-the reality show

It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will make you laugh so hard that you cry. You'll say "bless her heart". You'll think "I'm so glad that's not me". "Mommy Bloggers", the all new reality TV show.

OK, so there isn't really a show called "Mommy Bloggers". It would be an interesting TV show though. Like "Kids by the Dozen" they could feature a different mommy blogger every week. They could have everything in one show, humour, sadness, joy, heartache, drama.

We could draw in the "Kids by the Dozen" watchers with the mommy blogger who has 6 kids, all boys. We've got something for the "Extreme Couponing" watchers too. There are mommy bloggers that blog
all day about coupons and deals, they do all the work and then give the rest of us the heads up.  For those into watching the medical shows or A Baby Story we could feature all the planned, as well as unplanned, home (and car) births.

There'd be humor as we see if we can beat our record time loading and unloading the big vans. There'd be tales of older siblings coloring the baby with a Sharpie. We've got plenty of makeovers, as kids decide to try their barber skills out on themselves.  How many mommy bloggers out there have babies that always dirty their diaper after everyone is loaded in the car?  That is unless they wait until you're pulling into the school parking lot a minute after schools starts so you have to get her out to walk the kids into school to be signed in late.

I wish I could say there weren't sad blogs. There are the stories of infertility.  The long roads to adoption.  There are mommy bloggers out there battling cancer. There are mommy bloggers out there that have lost a child and are raising awareness for what caused their lose.

We could even throw in some education. Not only are there lots of homeschooling mommy bloggers, but many share their lessons. There are plenty of crafty bloggers out there too, from kids crafts to mommy crafts. There is education for mommies too. You can learn about babywearing from mommy bloggers (and some of those even have history, cultural, and anthropological lessons they could share with the kids).

Every good reality show needs drama. There is plenty of drama surrounding circumcision. There are plenty of intactivist mommy bloggers out there. If that's not enough drama I am sure there is a blog post about a nurse in somewhere. There's always an anti spanking blog out there to start a riot too.  We all know most of the drama is in the organizations though.  If the PTO meetings aren't enough for you, check out an HOA meeting (though for safety's sake I wouldn't bring the kids).  Besides, I have 5 girls, I'm sure they'd find a little bit of drama in our house.

Wait you say, no sports?  Trust me, there's sports, lots of sports, how about 3 soccer practices plus a couple games a week.  Baseball fan?  Just wait till baseball (or basketball, hockey, football, lacrosse...) season.  There is even cheerleading, not only from the kids but from the parents on the sidelines of all that.  There are a few mommy bloggers out there that even coach, baseball, gymnastics, dance.  Though there is our own sports too.  The ability to tie a baby onto your front while you already have one tied to your back should be a sport of some sort.  There is always the ball chase too, when you have to sprint to catch the ball before it rolls the half mile down the hill.  Once the ball is retrieved you return it to the pitcher then repeat.  This sport is similiar to, but not the same as, "dropsies", when baby purposely drops a small toy or pacifier so you can do an exercise that resembles toe touches.

You prefer "The Amazing Race"?  How about the amazing mommy tours?  Though the tours may repeat themselves; the same schools, dance studios, YMCAs, sports fields, etc.  They are just rechoreographed into different orders every day/week/season.  The challenge is to first manage to arrange it in the right order then remember to do them all.  You get bonus points if you do it without feeding any of the other children junk.  Sometimes they throw in additional challenges, like the pit stops.  In these additional challenges they see if you can still complete the course without running anyone over or breaking any laws, while being distracted by fights or baby screams.

A little bit of "the grass is always greener" could even be featured.  There are mommy bloggers of grown kids out there. Oh just think of the day when our kids are grown and we can all pee alone. As those mommy bloggers are writing about how much they miss when their kids were small. If we featured the post where baby pukes (err, I mean spits up) their entire lunch all over mom as she's walking in the church doors for Sunday mass our grass won't seem so green. If they are still wearing the rose (or grass green) colored glasses they can also feature the week of blog posts about the 9 month old who's having a growth spurt. For days she wakes up every hour to eat until around 4 am when she falls fast asleep but then mom realizes she has a leaking dirty diaper so will have to be changed (and therefore woken up).

The mommy bloggers of grown children don't have it so great either.  There are the ones planning a wedding and a graduation (and all the expenses to go with it). There are ones paying $15,000 a year for college while they are stuck driving a car from 1991 that "usually" starts. What about the ones whose children just moved across the country? Or worse yet, the ones whose grandbabies are about to be born overseas. Some grown kids are a bit too close for comfort as they move back into moms basement.

So what could this show be missing? Sex? How do you think the babies got here? Lies? I think a few of them celebrate Christmas. Nudity? Haven't you seen the new GA law saying that nursing toddlers increases public nudity? Or maybe you should check out carpool line in the morning because I'm not sure if that's supposed to be a shirt or a sports bra.  It's the Real Housewives without all the money.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Do I Attachment Parent?

What a loaded question that is.  Dr. William Sears most recently made popular the term "attachment parenting". In his books Dr. Sears encourages 6 areas that make up attachment parenting. 1. Respond to Your Baby's Cries 2. Breastfeed Your baby 3. Wear Your Baby 4. Play with Your Baby 5. Share Sleep with Your Baby 6. Become a Facilitator.

I didn't discover the term "attachment parenting" (AP) until my 1st child was pushing a year old. It was in one of Dr. Sear's books that I discovered the term. It was actually his book The Discipline Book.  I was looking for a book with suggestions for toddler troublemaking that was geared for kids as young as toddlers, without spanking or other physical punishments. The book was great for me because it encouraged me. There were other people like me out there and what I was already doing worked for someone.

What I had been doing seemed, to me, like common sense. Though, since then, someone has actually written a book entitled Common Sense Parenting.  Attachment parenting gurus say what I was doing was following my gut or instinct.

Of course I responded to my baby's cries, why would I ignore her. I was always taught ignoring people was rude. Listening to my helpless baby cry, ignoring her, seemed downright cruel. I never ignored her. 

Breastfeeding was a whole different animal. It was a lot harder than it seemed. We had issues and I learned that pediatricians aren't experts on the subject.  It isn't so hard when you have the knowledge and preparedness.  I went on to breastfeed my next 5 children.  My 1st was not breastfed though.  That does not mean she wasn't held, cuddled and loved when I was feeding her.  I was completely shocked by the number of people that propped their child's bottle.  Feeding time was a great excuse to sit and cuddle her.  Why would I pass up the oppurtunity to spend undivided attention with her.  Bottle propping didn't even seem that safe to me.

Babywearing to me just makes sense.  Who wouldn't want to have their hands free yet still be able to snuggle with baby and keep them close.  When my babies ever sit in a stroller now I feel like they are so far away and end up checking on them so frequently or stopping to talk to them.  In the carrier it is easy to talk to them all the time.  I did not do that very long with my first because we had a modern type of carrier, like a Snugli.  She didn't fit in that very long.  It wasn't even that quick, easy, or comfortable to use.  I didn't use it often.  I always picked her up first when she cried, then I figured out what she needed.  She was still carried a lot, it just wasn't easy or hands free.  Since she was my first it wasn't as much a necesity to have my hands free though.  Now I have baby carriers that can easily carry my toddler even. 

Who else will the baby play with if not me?  What would the baby do all day if we didn't play?  How would the baby learn if the baby doesn't play.  I would think baby would even be fussy from boredom if baby wasn't played with.  Again, playing with baby seems like a natural thing you just do.

Sharing sleep with your baby, to me, is the lazy way of sleeping.  Who wants to wake up when baby is loud enough to have woken you up over a monitor or from another room.  Baby is now wide awake, you are now wide awake.  Then who wants to get out of bed at 2 am.  I happen to like my sleep, I am lazy at 2 am.  I cosleep because I don't want to get out of bed at any hour of the night.  I cosleep because I don't want to have to worry about how long my baby was crying alone in the dark before I woke up.  I guess I should also admit that cosleeping has made me a little paranoid.  Now when there is a storm I worry about my kids being so far away if I needed to get to them.  What if there was a fire and baby, who can't walk or talk, was stuck in a crib down the hall so she couldn't even get under the smoke.  I end up sleeping better knowing where they are and that they are safe.

A facilitator is a necesity to help a baby grow.  It helps a toddler overcome frustration.  It helps a child learn the ways of the world.  It encourages better behavior.  It is something we automatically do when we talk about what we are doing to the baby.  It is natural to explain why a toddler should or should not do something.  It is helpful to put a toddler's feelings into words.  It is setting a good example for our children.  Besides, facilitating gives me something to talk about and talking is what keeps me from losing my mind  (I know that's been the big question on everyone's mind).

I had been doing these things all along.  I just didn't know they were called "attachment parenting".  I didn't set off to "attachment parent" but I guess I did anyway.  In my mind I was parenting the way I knew.  We did not have a lot of rules growing up but the few things I remember is we were never allowed to hit or use the word "hate".  The rest of the rules depended on the circumstances of each situation.  It truly was a gentle household unless you count the sibling fighting.  I just couldn't purposely hit someone after a lifetime of hitting being wrong.  In my house there is no only 1 hard and fast rule.  Be respectful.  That means no hitting and no name calling.  Does the church not say to love others as God loves us?

Does attachment parenting raise obediant children?  Probably not entirely, though my children listen to my requests out of respect, just as I did my parents.  What attachment parenting does raise is loving children.  My children are empathetic to others.  My own children can't stand to listen to a baby cry.  If I have to use the bathroom and the baby cries while I am gone a couple sets of hands come to her rescue.  It is hard to explain to a preschooler why another baby is crying through the grocery store in the infant carseat, though, because I can't think of a good reason to give them.  I loved my parents and the biggest reason I didn't do some things (not that I was a perfect teenager) was not a fear of punishment but a fear of dissappointing them.  Today some of my children are so sensitive to this that we have to be very careful when we correct them.

When I started "attachment parenting" this is what it was, it was newer to popularity so Dr. Sear's version was what everyone meant when they said "attachment parenting".  Over the 15 years, since then, the term has changed.  There have been extreme versions of attachment parenting.  Attachment parenting is sometimes mixed up with natural parenting.  To me attachment parenting is just listening to and responding to what our children need.  This does not mean what our children want, but what they need.  This can be different for every child.  Dr. Sears explains the principals well while also making it clear that you do not have to use them all but instead use what works for your child.  This is the reason why I have stuck with Dr. Sears and not all the new attachment parenting books. 

If this is attachment parenting then yes I attachment parent, though I'd probably refer to it more as instinctual parenting.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

husband vs wife, shopping edition

I know this is kind of old but it's one of the posts I put on hold for the Mother's Day post.  So I am editing it up today.

I suppose we could have also titled this post "no we're not expecting again". It has been 9 months since the baby was born so people seem to think that the purchase of a bigger vehicle means there is another on the way. It probably doesn't help that I was pregnant right at the previous child's 1st birthday with 2 of my kids. Both of my sisters' have been pregnant when the baby was 9 months old. Again, I am not expecting another though.

What really has happened is husband vs wife in shopping styles. We have been thinking about getting this vehicle for the last 18 months.  We have been shopping for this vehicle for at least a year. I just like to look, shop, get it over with. He doesn't like to spend money.  When he spends money he tends to like to get the best possible, so spend more than I would have. If he is spending this kind of money he wants to do his homework. The amount of research he has done has made my head spin.

Then there is the indecision. What size do we really need? What options do we really need? I am easy to please, I'll take anything bigger than what I have. The only option that's a must for me is rear a/c. Since we didn't want to spend a small fortune we wanted to buy used. He wanted a late model with low miles. I just wanted to make sure it was new enough that all the seats had shoulder belts. You find one and he thinks he might prefer to have a certain option. He finds one with that option but it doesn't have low enough miles. He has to weigh which is more important.

Then of course there is location. It isn't like big vans appear on every street corner. We waited too long on the ones that were close last year. Now there haven't been any nearby with low miles. We ended up having to drive for it. I didn't care how far we had to drive for a deal, he was willing to pay more to drive less. 

It happens that way with everything. I'll spend money more often but I will look for low prices. He doesn't spend money often but when he does he either has to buy a lot (clothes) or get the best (tools, equipment, electronics, etc).

We even have different ideas of eating out. I have the kids more so I know what it costs to feed them. He eats out when he travels alone so is used to just him (and someone else paying). Eating out with kids, to me, is Cici's, Burger King, etc. His idea of eating out is Olive Garden, Outback, etc. Then he gets the bill and wants to know why it costs $80 to eat out.  After that he never wants to go out to eat again.

It makes me wonder if it is just a difference between men and woman or if it's just our personalities.  They say opposites attract, except you'd never guess we were opposites.  We are so much alike.  We are alike in everything except for anything that requires a decision.  It's a wonder how we don't argue that much.  I guess it's because he is a highly effective person at diplomatics.  Well, there's that and when he isn't set on having his way he is also great at saying "yes, dear".

Sunday, May 8, 2011

This Mother's Day

I have several posts almost ready to be posted so there will be posts soon. As my calendar started reminding me of 3 important dates this week, I felt like I should write something for Mother's Day.  Everything else got put on hold, for now, so I could work on this post. This week is not only Mother's Day but it is my parents anniversary. Their anniversary would have also been my grandmother's birthday if she had not passed away 9 months ago. 

I know this will be a hard Mother's Day for the 4 children who lost their mother last year. My grandmother was a special woman. She was always someone who could hold an interesting conversation about anything. She loved to smile. She loved children, especially babies. She would always hum to them. To this day I forget about humming sometimes. But when I have exhausted all else to settle a baby down it just naturally comes out. Babies seem to love to be hummed to. 

My grandparents took us kids out to dinner. Sometimes they drove us to school. They took us shopping. They babysat us over the summer.  They took us to the pool.  They took us to the beach, my grandmother LOVED the beach.  Somehow my grandparents even managed to have enough patience to drive 21 hours on yearly trips up North with the 3 of us in the backseat.

As my grandmother became sick enough that she was stuck in a nursing home, I wished I were closer. Being a stay at home mom I would have had the time to take the kids to visit frequently. Instead it was a 13 hour drive (and 5 kids made it 15+). I tried to talk with her on the phone often. 

As I miss my grandmother this Mother's Day, I am again faced with the fact that I do not thank my own mother nearly enough. Every year I want to do something special. I can't think of anything special enough though. I don't know that there's really much to buy her since she loves to shop. I always want to write a big sappy card full of all the things I am thankful for, but it feels like a cheesy Mother's Day thing since I do not do it enough the rest of the year.

I am sure my mother could win one of those contests where you write a description, essay, or why they should win. Of course, I don't watch enough TV to ever know about them in time. It's fairly obvious that my mom has made me who I am today, even if I wish I were more like her. My mom has incredible patience that I really wish I had inherited. Everyone talks about how patient I am, yet I don't feel very patient but always remember how patient she has always been. 

You can tell how patient she is in her career. She spent so many years working in a rehabilitation hospital. She worked with patients who had head and spinal cord injuries. Many of these are patients who can't walk, talk, feed themselves, etc. On "take your daughter to work day" I could see her work. She knew each of her patients by name. She knew what they liked and didn't like. She knew each of them as the person they still were, not as the "vegetable" some would refer to them as. Even if they weren't ever going to respond she would cheerfully refer to them by name. Even among the ones who couldn't respond, some of those you could see light up when she came in the room or even see them smile when that was about all they could do.

My mom always puts others first. Luckily my dad has always made sure she takes time for herself. I am not just talking about her putting her own kids first. There were always other kids hanging out at our house growing up. She taxied, I don't even know how many other children around.  She now has 12 grandchildren. It doesn't matter where she was, she was there for the birth of each one of them. She was there when she had to come straight from her own grandmother's funeral. She was there right before her own mother's funeral. She was there when the doctor wasn't. She was there when the father wasn't. She was there, even with the one born in the car.

It's no wonder that Nana is one of, many of her grandchildrens' first words. Nana has the fun house with a bedroom full of toys just for the kids. Nana keeps (peanut free, so it's safe for all grandchildren) candy in her house for the kids. She is there to babysit, even if it is 5 kids, for the birth of a sibling or an anniversary dinner out. She has sat with grandchildren in the hospital. She has held grandchildren getting blood drawn. Even when she isn't feeling well she has trouble saying no. She goes to dance recitals, boy scout banquets, soccer games, horse shows, orchestra concerts, she even sells girl scout cookies. They have driven 4 hours each way to make sure a granddaughter away at college for the summer, gets to go out for her birthday.

This hasn't changed. I remember her being there when I broke my arm.  I remember her being there when I sliced open my sister's foot. I remember not getting in trouble for spilt milk, instead being patiently taught to wipe it up. I remember not getting in trouble for slicing open my sister's foot, it was an accident. I remember her picking me up from after school activities, no matter how last minute I called for a ride.  She taught me patience.  She shared with me her love of reading.  She taught me to crochet, sew, and cook.  She even taught me how to shop.

The model she is to her children and grandchildren is important.  People learn best through what they see, hear, and experience. She shows us patience. She shows us unconditional love. If the most golden rule of all is to "treat others how you would like to be treated" she exhibits that every day, even when others aren't treating her the same.

There are groups out there giving awards for "Mother of the Year", to moms' who did something special.  What about the mom who does everything special. She doesn't just spend 1 week, 1 month, 1 year taking care of others, but does it every single day.

This week is Mother's Day, National Nurses' Week, and her anniversary. This week is for my mom. Thank you for everything you are and everything you do.