Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My New Look

 So I am not sure if you noticed, but I am sporting a brand new look here on the blog and as well as on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

I am having a hard time finding the words to say just how much I LOVE it! 

My five-year blogging anniversary is coming up, and I felt it was time to update my look.  The cartoon character of me with the bright turquoise and pink will always hold a special place in my heart.  That was the start of something brand new, and I felt that design captured my excitement.

But a lot of things change in five years.  My style has evolved, and I wanted something a little more subtle and soft.

So I spoke in my preferred visual medium – Pinterest.  I made a board of all sorts of things that inspired me which included everything from shoes to interior design.  I hoped Lyndsay, the fantastic designer at Cordial Punch Press that I have been working with since the beginning, understood what I was trying to communicate.

Luckily, she did.  I don’t know a lot of people who can look at a bunch of random pins and know *exactly* what I was trying to say.  Not only is she a talented, designer, but she speaks my secret language of pins.

Someone else who was picking up what I was laying down was my sister-in-law, Brandy from BrandyNicole Photography.  I gave her a bunch of pins of what I wanted the new profile pic to feel like, as natural and candid as a photo shoot can be.   

I think she totally nailed it.  Here are some other photos from our photo shoot. 

mommy on the spot working from home brandy nicole photography
This pretty much sums up
what working from home has been all about.

mommy on the spot desk photo brandy nicole photography
This is another one of my favorites.

mommy on the spot vision board brandy nicole photography
Something in this photo tugs at my heart strings.

Collaborating with others in a creative way is risky – it can be amazing and uplifting or tumultuous and frustrating.  I really feel that both of these artists were in tune with what I was trying to convey and feel fortunate to have such talented friends.

Hope you are digging the new look as much as I am!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thoughts on Letting Go and Being Happy

I think spring is finally here.  I live in Michigan, so although the weather is nice (for now), I do not count on the weather to coordinate with the calendar seasons.

For me, this year spring has been marked by the Listen to Your Mother countdown.  I also set aside a spring deadline for rebranding my blog.  So now that I have my new blog look (which I LOVE and will talk more about in another post) and Listen to Your Mother is right around the corner, I officially declare spring has arrived.

I am not sure if it is the changing of the seasons, but I have been in retrospective mood. My life has been so different since I started blogging almost five years ago.

I am thankful for the opportunities to have my work published on other websites, to be teaching again, to be a part of a production that was once only a dream.

I am grateful for the people that I have made along the way. They have pushed me out of my comfort zone, offered me their friendship, and often saw something in myself that I didn’t quite believe was in me.

I had this notion that I should feel nothing but happy for all of the wonderfulness that has happened.   So I was totally confused by an unexpected twinge of sadness.  I am writing!  I am teaching!  I am in Listen to Your Mother!  Just be happy already!

After some deep contemplation over some Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy Ice Cream, I have come to the conclusion that when one breaks away from their pack (maybe it’s family, maybe it’s lifelong friends) and begins down a path of self-discovery, not everyone will understand this new leg of the journey.

Instead of being happy that you are finally living life according to your inner compass, some question and may even resent your choices. 

For someone who is easily influenced by the need to make others happy (especially at the cost of my own happiness), it has taken an enormous amount of energy to remain true to myself and focus on all of the positive things that have happened.

So I think that unexpected sadness comes from the sense of loss – a loss for the comfy things in my past that were not really that healthy for me anyway. 

I am glad that I am taking the time to get to know myself. I now have the courage and confidence to see certain things - people, personal dynamics, my own destructive behavior patters – for what they are and let go.

Letting go has allowed light to shine in and good things to happen.

Elizabeth Gilbert's quote about happiness Mommy on the Spot
Working hard on this.

I'm working on this, but I can't help feel a little nostalgic for the past.

Do you ever miss things from a certain time period of your life?  How do you handle it?  Do you mourn it?  Do you chase it?  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tackling Math: Bedtime Math 2

One of the many fascinating aspects of raising children is you get to relive your own childhood.

When Marie get all excited about discovering Judy Blume books or the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, I am surprised by the rush of warm, fuzzy memories of reading those same books.  Some details I can recall so vividly, like the time Ramona’s dad made pancakes for dinner when Ramona’s mom forgot to plug in the crockpot and the beef stew was not cooked.  I became so connected to these characters it was as if these things happened in my own life.

When I see Thomas taking his lovey, Baby Jammies, everywhere with him, it reminds my how I used to be so attached to my soft, yellow blankie.  I was so attached that when I was in first grade, I used to hide it when my friends would come over so no one knew about it.

I also remember my horrible struggles as they encounter their own battles.  I remember in crystal clear detail how much I hated the collaborative learning centers in my second grade teacher’s class; they just did not mesh well with my emerging introvert personality.

I also remember sitting at the kitchen table with tears of frustration streaming down my face as I attempted my math homework. Story problems were the worst!  A scenario involving trains going at different speeds to get somewhere at the same time – blah, blah, blah.

I was more interested in who was on the train.  Where was it going?  Why?  What kind of food was on the train? 

No mystery why I became an English major.

I shut myself off to math and declared it useless.


Clearly I had yet to use money or try to cut a recipe in half or have the pleasure of visiting Ikea.

Math is everywhere!

I do not want my kids growing up with this convoluted attitude about math that I did, so imagine my excitement when I discovered that Laura Overdeck wrote a new book called Bedtime Math 2 –This Time It’s Personal.

Now that Thomas is five and almost in Kindergarten, I can even do Wee Level with him, which involves simple addition, and working with patterns.  He was a tad resistant at first, but the stories about underwear (one of his most favorite topics to discuss) and birthdays (he could talk about birthdays and cake forever) won him over.

Marie loves the stories in the book, and I feel so immensely excited that she is doing math in her head.  In her head!!

This newest edition not only has the three levels with each story problem as in the previous book (Wee Ones, Little Kids, Big Kids), but has some really engaging Bonus Questions as well.

I love that both kids can sit down and enjoy this book together even though they are at different levels.

Mommy on the Spot Bedtime Math 2

This gives me hope that they won’t struggle with doing math in their head to leave a tip or figuring out the sale price or wondering if that beautiful entertainment center will actually fit on the family room wall.

Do you struggle with math?  How do you help your kids feel excited about math?

**Disclaimer – I was given a copy of Bedtime Math 2 – This Time It’s Personal to review.  These options (and admission about my math deficiencies) are all my own.

Friday, April 4, 2014

And Now You are 5

Dear Thomas,

You turned five last week. 

My baby is now five years old.

I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around when exactly this happened.  Time seemed to pass so slowly during those early sleepless nights which made the days seem to blur together in an endless montage of laundry and mealtimes.  Then I blinked my eyes and before me now stands a boy.

Not a toddler.

Not a baby. 

A boy.

A boy who has his own unique sense of humor. 

A boy who seems to never pay attention to what I am saying but then will recall every minute detail of the conversation. 

A boy with a resolve of steel.

A boy who has the biggest heart and shares his love so freely it takes my breath away.

A boy who will start Kindergarten in the fall.

I silently prayed to myself, as I reluctantly handed over your paper work at Kindergarten registration, that you will never loose the way you care for others.  I am always inspired by the way you give your love without reservations.

When asked to share your beloved fruit snack, you say, “Sure thing! Here you go.”

You always make sure the cat feels loved by all the cuddles you give him.

At your birthday party, you were so happy to have everyone together and introduce your friends to you grandparents.  My heart wants to burst when I see how thoughtful you are with the people in your life.

It takes some people a whole lifetime to learn how to love the way that you love at the tender age of five.

My birthday wish for you is that you never let the cold ways of callous people ever take this gift away from you.  There are those who are not comfortable with people who shine from the inside out; they do not know how to respond to genuine kindness.

Pay no mind to these haters.  The world needs more people like you – happy souls who are not afraid to love.

mommy on the spot son's 5th birthday

Happy birthday, my sweet boy!

Love always,