This month the kids and I visited with a neighbor. We used to visit more often, but that was when they had their grandson living with her. This wonderful couple took in their grandson when both his parents had been shipped overseas to fight for our country. One in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Yes. Both parents. Their little boy had just turned four. Luckily for him he had grandparents to care for him.
This couple lives about six houses up from us. We can see their house from ours, but we never met them until they had their grandson there and then my son, who was a year older, saw him and made friends with him. We used to visit so the kids could play together and I would spend time talking to the grandmother.
Mrs. Finley is a wonderful lady. She makes model doll houses that cause my girls to “ooh” and “aah.” But they are never to touch. Those pieces are all handmade. Such time and attention goes into all the details. She shows my girls how to make some of the things and they would love to make their own some day. She was patient with the boys’ craziness and yet kept them from being too crazy.
I’ve learned some parenting tips from her. I also saw the old beliefs in the freedom of kids and the benefits of them just playing outside all day and having fun. Her grandson lived outdoors that summer. Even when she wasn’t outside, which I don’t dare do too much of. I’ve watched too many shows and news pieces on what can happen to kids when they are outside alone.
Since her grandson left, I’ve had less reason to visit, but I’d noticed lately that she would always stop and say hi if we were outside. I started thinking how lonely it must be now without a young child in the house anymore, especially since he won’t be coming to visit any time soon. His mom is out of the army now and they live in Texas and they don’t have money for travel. Mrs. Finley had told me before her grandson left that she wasn’t sure when she would see him again. I hadn’t thought much about how that would make her feel. I had thought about how wonderful it would be for the young boy to be back with his parents.
Caring for the elderly
So we made a point to visit with her. She’s made some great things for her doll house. Her house overall is cleaner, but it is quieter. The kids had no problem talking with her and filling her in on their life over the last months. She listened and asked appropriate questions. I’m glad we visited her. I hope I can remember to make the time to visit again. We are neighbors, after all, and it can’t be that hard to take the time to care about another person who isn’t far away.
You may have noticed that I have changed a few of my list items over the last few months, and one of the things I have added in place of another (can’t remember which one I am replacing!) is “Take a mental health day!”
Mental health day
Being a mom, having a “mental health day” is a little ambitious, I know! My definition of “mental health day” will vary widely to be anything from squeezing in 30 minutes to give myself a mani/pedi to escaping for a day of shopping with a friend. The point is that I need to be proactive in taking time to switch my busy little brain out of mommy mode. I realized I needed this last month when I went and got a Thai pedicure and foot and leg massage at a spa with a dear friend of mine.
We talked and gossiped and relaxed and I basically shut down the part of my brain that is constantly thinking of feeding and clothing and caring for my kids. Not that it ever really turns off when you are a mom, but letting it relax a teeny bit helps a mom feel recharged.
So, with Mother’s Day being in May, and my husband working massive amounts overtime, I felt like I DESERVED this time to myself but knew in my heart that, realistically, I might not get that day of escape during the month of May. If I wanted some time, I was gonna have to take it!
On Mother’s Day Sunday, I got the boys fed and dressed and all set to go play outside, and I seized the moment to refresh my pedicure and give myself a manicure. When the boys came in earlier than I wanted, I explained how important it was that I have just a few more minutes, and they totally respected that and went back outside, but not before they chose my nail colors for me.
With shades of green and glitter for my fingernails and pink, purple, and red for the toes, I sent the boys back outside for another 15-20 minutes while I finished painting my nails and watching a show I had DVR’d.
All total, I think I got about 45 minutes to myself to recharge my batteries. I felt a bit prettier and more put together with my new polish and freshly-filed nails. The boys get the benefit of having a mother that is more relaxed and ready to face the day full of the energy that can only come from letting her brain rest for a bit.
Take time for yourself
I have proven to myself that I don’t need to try to sneak out of the house like a prisoner escaping from Alcatraz in order to get some time to myself. I just need to set boundaries (and explain them) with the kids and help them learn what it means to give a person the space that they need sometimes.
How do you recharge your batteries when you aren’t able to get out to have a mental health day?
Have a mentioned I’ll be forty in a couple years? Perhaps I failed to mention that? Yeah, it has been on my mind. I’ve never thought about turning any particular age, except for this one. This one I’ve started obsessing over about five years out. I don’t know why. Maybe it is because society has made such a big deal out of turning 40, or maybe there is biological and psychological truth to the mid-life crisis. Either way, in the brief moments I have for my own thoughts, I think a lot about what turning 40 means to me.
I had intended this month to see a recent release in an actual movie theater. However, I ended up crawling exhausted to a rental box and renting a movie that came out last year.
I rented This is 40, a comedy from Judd Apatow, who also directed The 40-year old Virgin and Knocked Up.
I am a huge Judd Apatow fan, which makes the fact that I missed this movie in theaters embarrassing. His TV show, Freaks and Geeks, is still one of my favorite shows of all time. For some readers of this blog, this type of comedy may not be for them and you probably know if that is the case. For me personally, this type of comedy is one I enjoy.
In This is 40, we find Pete and Debbie turning age 40 as they face typical family stumbles and stresses while parenting, working, and trying to understand themselves at the same time. They struggle with the technology-driven lives of their ‘tween and teen daughter, their complex relationships with their own parents, and their evolving relationship with each other. The humor is both emotionally honest and darkly raw. Even though their experiences are Hollywood comedy heightened, I still found it relatable and hilarious. I saw and heard myself in dialogue and situations I am embarrassed to admit hit really close to home.
That is what I love about comedy and what makes a good comedy: when the absurd and hilarious can also be rooted in the truth of life, when laughing at characters is really laughing at yourself, and when you are left feeling maybe somewhat normal.
I can’t say This is 40 made me feel any better about actually approaching age 40, but at least I could laugh at the absurdity of it all and the irrationality of myself. Now excuse me while I return to obsessing about a birthday still almost two years away.
Competition in business is a good thing. It urges us on to create better things, to provide better service than we might otherwise. If you’re the only game in town, then you don’t have to do a good job, because people will come to you anyway. They feel like they don’t have any other choice. I’ve seen that happen several times, with different businesses. The business owner might think it’s good, but in the long run, it’s really not.
Website designer Evansville, IN area
In a small town in the Evansville area, there was no competition for website construction, just one business that did websites. When we tried to sell our services there, we kept getting turned down, even though the work we did was clearly superior to the other guy, and everyone we approached said so. Furthermore, we were much more affordable. It seemed a no-brainer, but we didn’t get any takers there. Most of the people we talked to had a look of fear on their faces, which made me very curious, because that’s not a response I’d expect. Either they’re interested, or they’re not; people aren’t afraid when you ask if they need a website created. These people were afraid.
We asked about it, and kept asking, and finally found someone who was willing to talk as long as we never told anyone that he was the one who said something. Turns out that most of the businesspeople in that town who had purchased websites from that business were burned by that business, which was the only game in town. Among several harmful things he was doing, he had written a clause in the contracts, saying that they could never use anyone else but him or they’d be sued. That is not kosher at all (true professionals would never behave that way), and I wonder about the legality of such a clause, but he had them scared. We finally gave up on trying to sell any sites in that town. Others have started website design companies there since then, but I don’t know how successful they’ve been at selling sites to businesses in that town. I will not mention his name, because that would not be professional. I am glad that people have more options now. Perhaps our repeated sales calls helped to pave the way, but we may never know.
Competition in business
Today I was introduced to another website designer. Now, let me clarify that at HarshmanServices, we don’t fancy ourselves to be ”designers.” We build websites, to be sure, but we create simple websites that do what people need them to do; we do not create fancy, complicated, expensive things from scratch, and we don’t usually write code. This guy does. So, he’s competition, and when a mutual friend introduced me to him, I could have done like some people do, feel threatened and shun the competition. I don’t do that, though. For one thing, competition sharpens us. For another, I wouldn’t think of him as direct competition because of the differences in what we offer. We don’t offer the exact same service, although our services do overlap.
Our target markets are different as well. HarshmanServices‘ target market is individuals and small businesses/organizations who want a basic, functional website with built-in SEO. His target market is individuals and companies who want functional websites that likely require coding from scratch, with built-in SEO. Might our target markets overlap somewhat also? True, they might.
Finding a website designer
Everyone’s needs are different, so if you’re in the market for a site, be sure to find someone who can meet your needs. There are many different options available when it comes to websites, and while it can be hard to pick the right one for you, the competition means you’re more likely to find someone who offers exactly what you’re looking for. Just make sure it’s someone you’re comfortable with, and watch out for anti-competition clauses in anything you sign. Also, if a website builder (or any other service provider) balks at your request to run the contract by your lawyer before you sign it, run. Remember, competition in business is good.
This is an example of being spontaneous with my kids. A few months ago, I may not have done this.
I most likely would not have done this because I had grown-up responsible things I needed to do. I would have hurried away, I would have been on time and efficient, and I would have said, “Maybe next time.” Instead, I stopped. I listened to my kids, who don’t live by any lists or clocks, and took some time to play and dance and be in a moment.
It isn’t easy to do. The words, “No, not now,” always slip out first. Even after I change my mind and say, “Yes, okay,” for a few minutes I am anxious. My mind wonders how long it will take and excuses and reasoning bounces around. I feel adult responsibility. I feel uptight. Then, I stop and breathe. I tell myself it is okay if that thing doesn’t get done today or if we are 10 minutes late to that other thing. I remember when I used to live a more spontaneous, carefree daily life. I remember how that felt.
A warm, steady rain is falling.
A few days ago, there was a steady, warm rain. We were on our way out for the afternoon when my son stopped on the way to the car and looked longingly at his favorite rain boots.
Playing in the rain
“I’d like to jump in some puddles, Mommy. Maybe when we get home? Can I?”
I was already putting the younger son in his car seat, but I paused because I knew the rain would be over soon. By the time we got home, the rain would be gone and it would be evening. We did have somewhere to be, but wouldn’t it be okay to be late? Do I have to be on time everywhere I go? How many times have I thought about playing in the rain, but then hurried off to do something else? Or I had excuses to not get wet and dirty?
“Let’s jump in some puddles first,” I said, as both boys clapped with glee.
We are ready to jump in the rain.
We all put on our rain boots and ran out into the warm rain. We didn’t play long, but a few minutes of stomping and chasing and dancing around in the rain left us wet and smiling. We put our shoes back on and climbed into the car to leave. We finally arrived at our destination 15 minutes late, but right on time.
This month’s gratitude combined with the one mile walk, which sounds odd, but you’ll see why it works. This was the long awaited month where the dear boyfriend came to visit and we met face to face for the first time.
He flew in Thursday evening and after wondrous first hugs and grinning like idiots, we went to The Melting Pot for our first date and it was SO GOOD. They even brought us our own little plate after dessert that had ‘Happy Anniversary’ on it in chocolate because that Monday was our 5 month anniversary. Silly, but it works.
After that nom-worthy dinner I took him to my friend’s home where he was staying. We got the key and he met my friend.
We then decided to take our first walk together. I didn’t measure the distance but it was a wonderful late evening walk in the star-and-moonlit-night around the neighborhood with a warm spring breeze blowing and flowers blooming in the dark: rhododendron.
We walked and walked holding hands laughing and carrying on. We decided to walk over to the Greek Orthodox church that was setting up for the food festival. It must have been around 11:30 at night I’d guess, and I took him over to the front where the fountain was and near that a beautiful professionally-done huge and colorful mosaic of the 12 disciples and Christ over the front door. We walked back and I went home to go to bed.
St. Tikhon’s Monastery
The next day we walked even more as we had a trip up to St. Tikhon’s monastery which was DB’s first trip up there. St. Tikhon’s is very old and very dear to me. I’ve met several pilgrims there and have several friends graduating from the seminary up there this weekend.
I got to introduce my boyfriend to them just as I’d hoped, and met Bishop George from the ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) in the area for the first time. His hair was snow white, as was his long beard. He is a very congenial and gentle man. Vladyka (master) bless! +
Museum of Orthodoxy
We wandered back to the wellhouse but it was locked, unfortunately, but the temperature was perfect for wandering, we also walked around the museum of North American Orthodoxy and went to the church and had lunch with the seminarians, which was a lot of fun. On the way back, we played 20 questions and other silly car games as well as sang together.
The rest of the week included meeting people at my church and wandering around parts of Harrisburg together. This was an incredibly joyful and special trip, and I can’t wait to visit him in Texas! I am so grateful for all the prayers and the incredible love, gentleness, kindness, and respect my boyfriend has shown for me, but also for those who love me, and how he continues to share his heart and mind with me as we grow closer. I love you DB!
This month I finally got to go to the restaurant I had initially thought about when I came up with my monthly goal of a date night at a local restaurant. Camino Real is a restaurant described as Mexican inspired with California love. I can’t remember anymore what particular dish I heard about that made me want to try out the place, but I think it might have been in a radio ad or something.
Finding time for a date night
This month was tough to find a day to go out, because both of us had come up with a lot of good dinner ideas to cook at home. My husband also has several nights each week where he has some scheduled athletic activities, and I had a few dinner meetings planned, so finding a day where we had the time to go out was a challenge.
Luckily, my husband decided to skip one of his soccer practices so that we could go out. I felt bad about him missing out on practice until he let me know that he didn’t feel like going to play that day, so it wasn’t like it was my fault. I had planned to get out of work earlier than I ended up finishing that day, so I had a few errands that I still needed to run when I got home. Therefore, our date night started with a trip to the dry cleaner and library and ended with a trip to the pet store for cat food. I guess when you have been married for over ten years, practicality and romance sometimes have to go together.
Camino Real Restaurant
The menu at Camino Real is full of interesting versions of tacos, tortas, burritos, and enchiladas. They also have salads, pasta, appetizers, and desserts. We decided to get an appetizer dip with cheese, beans, and chorizo that was delicious in a really indulgent way. For the entrée, we shared a taco plate with blackened fish and chicken. It was ok, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the type of fish they used. My husband really liked it, though. I had been hopeful that we would have room for dessert, but the queso dip was just too filling. We may have to go some other day just for dessert, because some of the options sounded really tasty. Overall, we had a good time, even though date night included running some errands. The nice part about our relationship is that we enjoy doing all kinds of stuff together, even the “boring stuff.”
My original plan for my kiddo challenge was to take my oldest on a date to see a play at our local theatre. Unfortunately, a baby decided to be born on the day of our date, and her parents wanted me to photograph this grand event, so I had to cancel on my five-year-old. I think I was more devastated than she was. She didn’t really seem fazed. I was pretty upset. I had really been looking forward to spending some quality time with my oldest. She is growing up so fast, and often times my youngest takes a lot of my attention, so this month I really wanted to be present for her.
Child’s manicure and pedicure
My five-year-old is a girly girl, a lover of frilly dresses, and often puts her mommy to the challenge of curling hair and painting nails. She is much more stylish than I, and I often fear what lies ahead during her teen years.
So this month, when I had to miss our date, I decided to include my daughter on my pampering date. I always enjoy getting a pedicure, but how fun would it be to include my daughter. I scheduled appointments.
When I told her that we were going to have our nails painted, I could tell she was literally exuding excitement. I think she asked me about 20 times when we were going to get our nails painted. We had to wait for my hubby to pick up her little sister. The girls ran around in front of the salon, my older eager to go inside.
Kid’s pedicure chair
Once my youngest was off with Daddy, we went in. They ushered us in, and to my youngest to the fanciest kid’s pedicure chair I have ever seen.
Enjoying the kid’s pedicure chair!
She was a little unsure of the massaging chair, but once they brought her a pillow, she settled right in. It was so fun to watch her interact with the pedicurist. She is actually quite the social butterfly. I sat across the room listening to her chat about how she is starting school in the fall. She sounded so mature, so much older than five. She had confidence in her voice as she spoke to the lady who was painting her nails. I sat there in awe….where had these five years gone? How did this child come from her shy, nerdy mom and dad?
Fingernails too! I can’t believe how grown up she’s getting!!
I thoroughly enjoyed my date with my daughter. And we both got our nails painted beautifully. What’s nice also was that her pedicure (and manicure with flowers painted adorning all of her nails) cost about the same as my single pedicure, so having a date didn’t completely break the bank.
Pretty Pink Sparkly Toes
I love including my kids in my life, and while it made me just a little sad that she’s no longer my tiny baby, I am going to enjoy having a date to be pampered with, and it was extra special to spend mother daughter one on one time. And I know she loved getting to feel just a little grown up!
Mother and Daughter: a pair of pretty toes!
What fun things do you do with your daughter?