Tuesday, November 24, 2009

French Onion Soup

With the biggest days of holiday shopping upon us, when all of our weekends are filled with not only shopping but pageants, family celebrations, decorating and all the hoopla that comes with it I find myself coming up short on the holiday spirit. Don't get me wrong, I love the upcoming season, I am married to someone that might just be related to the mighty elf, the man loves Christmas so much.
This year though, I find I am overwhelmed by the disparity between news reports of where the best sales are and the hottest toys and other reports on how poorly the economy is doing, how needy the food shelves are, the overflowing homeless shelters, and tremendous shortages all charities are experiencing. What can I do? How can I help? Are there opportunities out there for me to get involved and find a way that I can share the message of giving and sharing with our children. At 7 years old I know Monica understands that other kids aren't going to have Christmas holiday's like we do. I think Norah, at 4 knows that some kids don't have coats or mittens.
I saw an open invite from an old friend of mine on Facebook the other day, and was so impressed and moved by her efforts I got teary eyed. She is hosting a day for people to get together and make mittens to donate to Catholic Charities. No experience needed! Last year they made over 165 mittens. What an impact! I couldn't help but wonder what impact she is having on her own children in teaching them to share their own gifts. Even more she was using social networking to do good! Hooray!
So I'm going, with my lack of mitten making experience, and I am going to take my daughters, and we are going to try our hands (punny, right?) at mitten making.
Beyond that I am open to suggestions for family-friendly ways to give and share for the next weeks and beyond. I have a feeling that is a sure way to restore my waning Christmas spirit, and keep me off the naughty list.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Leftovers #2

Today the Wal-Mart Black Friday ad was released, leaked, whatever you want to call it. If you want to see all the ads available for Black Friday check out: http://http://blackfriday.gottadeal.com/index.php.
I have discovered that one of the primary items we purchased for our 7-year-old will be almost $40 cheaper on Black Friday. After having the pleasure of being the opening manager on duty for a Target store for 2 years, I have no desire to be up before sunrise, but for $40, I think I just might.
Our goal this year is to due the bulk of our shopping online, or buying locally (i.e. people we know that have a knack for crafts). Rory designed a spreadsheet for me to punch in the gift idea, budgeted cost, actual cost, and variance and our whole Christmas holiday budget is right there in front of me. Which lets me know that we are over budget on child #1, right on for child #2, and child #3 is trailing pretty far behind. We're hoping to keep this spreadsheet for budgeting purposes for next year and break down our total amount spent by month and then by paycheck, so next Christmas will be even easier.
If you would like a copy of the template I would be glad to share it with you. Email me at malloyfamily@hotmail.com if you want your very own.
I do a fair amount of comparison shopping as well, here is a list of the comparison shops I use most:
www.pricegrabber.com (This one shows price history, which is a nice feature)
My all time, most used website for all online shopping is www.ebates.com, if you say you were referred by me we both get cash (just enter my email from above). Ebates offers a percentage of cash back from most stores you've heard of and many that you may have not. They send a check quarterly, so in mid-January you get a check in the mail. One year I received a check for over $150! They also advertise coupons and shipping deals. Totally worth it. There are some sites like www.upromise.com that do the same thing and the money goes into a savings account for your kid, but I prefer to get the cash back now.

I just had to share all these websites with you because there is NO reason you should ever pay full price for something, especially in this economy.

Hope some of this saves you a little cash this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Corn Dogs

Marriage is cyclical. Sometimes I am amazed (as I have been the past few weeks) with the wonderful, intelligent, handsome, thoughtful, sexy man I married. This week, not so much.
This is a belief I have held for many years. There are moments that the pure joy of being married to this wonderful creature brings me to tears, just not today, or yesterday, or the day before. Tonight he is working late, and I sort of wish he would just stay gone for a day or two. It would be nice to have the opportunity to appreciate him a little bit.
I am not angry with him, he has done nothing different this week than in past weeks, he is still his usual hard-working self, and no it's not "that time of the month." For awhile I just attributed it to the barometric pressure, or some other strange phenomena, but today I've come to the conclusion it's about space. Sometimes a person just needs their own space. I don't know if this is just female thing either, I would imagine men feel that way too, I don't know. When I talk to my husband about these feelings of disconnectedness he maintains he always loves me with all his heart (Gag!)
So to my devoted Rory, I love you, but sometimes your constant back-scratching needs, bed hogging, snooze button punching, cologne overdosing self isn't always a turn on, but most of the time it is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Papa Murphy's Pizza

I tried something new today. I went to a Mom's Club at our new church. I was nervous, I was apprehensive, I was actually about to chicken out and not go. All these thoughts came rushing through my head...I don't know anyone there. I won't like anyone there. Worse, they won't like me. They will all be these put together women with well-behaved put together kids. I shouldn't go, I have a zit on my chin, I need a haircut, Baby Henry has a runny nose.

Really, all that was going through my head. Then my beloved husband called and said "You're going to that Mom's Club thing right? Or are you going to come up with some reason you can't go?" I began to tell him about the copious amounts of snot running from Henry's nose, people would surely think he was infectious and run from us. Silence. Beloved Husband wasn't buying it, moreover I was realizing I sounded a little lame.

The clock was ticking, we couldn't make it in time...more crazy thoughts...I wouldn't want to walk in late my first day. Not to mention our church is connected to a school, so I probably wouldn't be able to get in and they would think I was a kidnapper or something trying to break into the school, then the police would come, and then Beloved Husband would be called at work because I was arrested for breaking into a school and who would pick up my kids at school?

After all of that, I went. Everyone was really nice and welcoming. The speaker there today was from the Salvation Army and talked about all the amazing works they do in the Twin Cities and the United States. I was impressed and educated all at the same time.

Sure, Baby Henry of the Booger Brigade couldn't hack it in the nursery and had to come and sit with me in the Mom's Club meeting, and he proceeded to be booger-nosed and adorable all at the same time.

I was OK, I made it through. I met some really nice women whose names I couldn't remember if my life depended on it. I think I might go back. Baby Henry needs to build up a tolerance to the nursery. I'll do it for him.

Isn't it funny how when you need it most God sends the exact message you need to hear? Sure I'd appreciate it if he emailed me these messages instead of forcing me to live them real world, but today's message from God was about community and gratitude. There are women, just like me, who probably have crazy, italicized thoughts and they are waiting to meet me and I can't wait to get to know them better, maybe next time they can wear name tags! That was the community lesson.

The greater lesson today was that my worries were about whether or not to go to a Mom's Club, I wasn't thinking about how I was going to come up with food or a place to sleep for my children tonight. I wasn't cold or hungry today. After listening to the speaker from the Salvation Army I realized the blessings I have that so many people don't. I realized that my little drama's are nothing when you step back and look at the big picture. Tonight, I go to bed with a grateful heart, and tomorrow I am going to think a little more about what I can do to help out other mothers who don't have the gifts I so take for granted.

So thank you dear readers, for listening. I'm thankful for you too.

Check this out as well for more Salvation Army info: http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=828229&catid=391&GID=/hntWZrWag1UwZQOWQ1Mcm0T2cLN2J4ZWGf8HpgHpu4%3D

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Salsa Joe's

When reflecting on the past year of my life I've realized that ears have been a primary theme. Yes, ears. Some of you may know that after a very difficult and traumatic birth and a few years of thinking everything was AOK we found out our middle daughter, Norah, was hard of hearing. What a journey this has been and a loud one at that!

I should mention that she did pass her newborn screening, but has had hearing loss since birth, so while the newborn screening has been very beneficial for some, it isn't perfect, so when it comes to your babies, trust your gut.

In the past year I have spent a lot of time crying, feeling guilty, sad, angry and sometimes downright furious that my child has to wear two hearing aids that are an outward sign of imperfection.

In this society, no matter how evolved with think we are, people notice things like hearing aids. At first I struggled when Norah wanted to wear her hair in ponytails, or buns, and then I realized I was putting my hang-ups on her. Norah wears little golden hearing aids (the part behind her ear) with purple sparkly earmolds (the part that goes in her ear). We also found something great called Tuberiders to help her accessorize even more. She wears her hair up most days because she is very proud of her hearing aids and likes to show them off. While Norah attends an oral school called Northern Voices for deaf and hard of hearing kids, she has recently began attending an early childhood class to help ease her transition to kindergarten next year and I am happy to report several of the children want hearing aids like Norah's!

This past year we have seen more happiness and successes than I ever imagined, and all of our children are developing a tolerance for diversity that I never could have taught them. My husband and I are developing a gratitude and understanding for those that have gone before us to advocate for their children. We are working to advocate for Norah everyday and make the needed changes to our daily lifestyles to accomodate her needs, sometimes small things like a little book light in the car so she can talk to her sister on dark car rides with the assistance of lip reading. I repeat myself a lot for Norah, as we all do, and when we listen to music we really turn it up. We don't have the TV all the time at home, because that causes a distraction for her.

Most of all we've learned to listen. Listen to Norah when she talks, because her language has seen a major explosion this past year, listen to our older daughter when she talks about her day and realize that being Norah's older sister is no easy task, and listen to our little Henry when he points to his ears and says "hearin' aids" and then we all have a laugh. How many 21 month olds can say that?

I will leave you with a list of some famous folks with hearing loss that wear hearing aids.

How many surprise you?

  • Ronald Reagan
  • Bill Clinton
  • Lou Ferrigno - The Incredible Hulk
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Rush Limbaugh (has a cochlear implant)
  • Arnold Palmer
  • Thomas Edison
  • Mike Singletary - Go Bears!
  • Leslie Nielsen
  • Al Unser - Race Car Driver
  • Bobby Unser - Race Car Driver
  • Huey Lewis
  • Juliette Low - Founder of Girl Scouts

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Today is our 9th wedding anniversary. While I have spent a large portion of my day thinking about my hard-working honey and our blissful 9+ years together, I have also been thinking about an important person missing from my life.
I was 11 years old when my Grandma Rita had a heart attack and died. She was just 56 years old and heart disease was known about but certainly not as marketed as well as it is these days. Some days I find myself wishing she would have been able to meet my husband, I know in my heart they would have been kindred spirits. I wonder what parenting advice she would have given me, and I think that she would have helped my mom relax a little more, but truly I don't know.
The Grandma Rita I remember is from a child's perspective. I know she was a woman who raised her kids in the tumultuous times of the 60's and 70's, and she certainly didn't have the marriage I do today. She gave birth to 7 children within 9 or so years and as far as I know she never had a nervous breakdown. She had a huge house to keep clean and didn't have McDonald's or Domino's to deliver dinner, and she didn't have the luxury of a dishwasher to clean up all those dishes.
Despite not having the things that I so take for granted, my memories of her and her sunny disposition are amazing. She let me wear lipstick, she never left the house without a little dab or two, and she always had a pie ready to eat on the table and cookies in an ice cream pail on top of the fridge. She was always ready with a hug, and would let me play beauty salon with her for hours, never complaining, I wonder how many times she realized she had a curler stuck in the back of her hair long after I'd gone home.
So 20 years after my Grandma Rita's too soon death, I am thinking of her, imagining how much she would love my children and my hilarious husband. Wondering if she'd be the kind of Grandma that had a cell phone or email. Wondering what advice she would give me about my children, or if she would make them pajamas with nightcaps for Christmas like the girls on Little House on the Prairie (her favorite TV show, after Cheers). I wonder how different my mom would be, if she hadn't lost her mother so near the age I am now.
After all that wondering, here is what I do know, I know that even 20 years after she last hugged me, I feel her arms around me in every move I make. I know that she would be proud of the woman I am today, her legacy lives on in me, a strong woman with a great sense of humor. I also know I need to take better care of my heart and body so I don't take after her with an early death and that I should try to wear more lipstick.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Baked Chicken

I am a stay-at-home mom. Many of you know that, but in case you didn't I wanted to give you some context for what is to come.
I just fed my son lunch, and laid him down for a nap. Contrary to what many of you think I am not going to go sit on the couch to watch soap operas and eat bon-bons. I have allotted some time on the computer this afternoon to price compare Christmas gifts and hopefully get a jump on that. I am also going to finish the laundry I've been working on all day, clean the kitchen. call about a medical bill that is messed up, then go pick up my middle daughter bring her home and wait for the bus to drop off my older daughter. Then it's on to homework, catechism, make some dinner, serve some dinner, take my middle daughter to dance and on and on and on. Somewhere in here my husband will come home which can be both a help and a hindrance.
What bothers me is the lack of respect I sometimes feel from people that assume this job is easy or even a job that I want. Yes, I said it. I am envious most days when my husband showers, and leaves for work. I miss the days when I worked a full-time job and had the luxury of going to the bathroom without company. I sometimes went shopping on my lunch period, sometimes I even ate lunch.
The choice for me to stay home was a financial one, because when we really did the math and looked at our finances, taking into account taxes, childcare, and commute time I was making about $18 a day and we were arguing all the time about the lack of time, or about who had the more important job and would stay home with the kids if they were sick. It was ridiculous.
We aren't rich, and I certainly do not have the temperament of a preschool teacher, but we do love our kids and knew that something had to change. So now I'm a stay at home mom. I don't dress as nicely as I used too. I wear a lot of the sweatshirts I wore in college (free advertising for St. Mary's University's quality sweatshirts!) We don't eat out very much, and my kids don't have the latest toys or clothes I purchased out of guilt. I am learning lessons of patience every day, my husband is having incredible successes at his job, and while I'm not the best mom, I'm working on it.
Please remember though, while you may have a more recent haircut than I, or you think I need a job for my self-esteem, or that I may be too consumed by my kids and their activities, I chose this, and I would choose it again.
Everybody complains about their job, and everybody wants a raise, but not everybody has their employees in the bathroom with them.