Thursday, May 31, 2012

Best Apps for a quick mom break

1. Shop Style - FREE Unless you happen to live near the Mall of America, there's no way you could ever get the breadth of stores that ShopStyle has in one place. The app sells everything – clothes, d├ęcor, kid and baby stuff, cosmetics, and shoes from stores like Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, Sephora, Banana Republic, Hanna Anderson – plus 300 more. Not only can you order your daughter a cute little dress while she's dozing in the stroller, but you can nab yourself a cute pair of shoes (and a lamp) while you're at it.
2. Cut the Rope - $0.99 Cut the Rope may not have reached Angry Birdsstatus yet, but it's getting close. This addictive game, mixing strategy and physics (it's not as hard as it sounds), comes as a welcome distraction any time you have a free moment. You wouldn't think that cutting rope would be so entertaining, but it really is!
There's also a free version of the game.
Works on: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad. (While Cut the Rope isn't available yet for Android, a very similar game called Rope Cut is.)
3. Stanza - FREE We know you don't have as much free time as you did pre-kids, but Stanza lets you keep a library of e-books you can chip away at a few pages at a time. It has more than 50,000 titles – recent bestsellers, classics, even a huge selection of free books. Download a bunch and maybe you'll actually read something other than Goodnight Moon tonight
There are several other major e-book apps out there, but we like Stanza for its customizable options, like adjusting page margins, line spacing, and coloring. Hey, if you're going to make time to read, you want it to be just the way you want it, right?
4. Long Deep Breathing - $0.99 When's the last time you actually stopped and took a deep breath? It does wonders for your psyche and can help you pull it together when you've got a tantruming toddler on your hands. The app is a simple breathing aid that provides visual cues for inhaling and exhaling. After taking just 10 deep breaths, you'll feel more relaxed and ready to deal with whatever's going wrong – without throwing a tantrum yourself.
Works on: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad (There's a similar app for the Android called Breathe.)
5. Make Up - FREE Let us guess: Some days you dash out of the house only to grimace when you catch a reflection of your disheveled self later on. But you can do better – even if virtually. Upload a photo of your face and get your eye shadow groove on with the endless colors loaded in this app. Once you've got your look right, it tells you what the exact product is. Now you've got some new items for your birthday wish list.
6. Pocket Booth - $0.99 Pocket Booth will take you back to your teen years, when you used to squeeze into one of those little photos booths and take goofy pictures with your friends. The app lets you take a photo (or use an existing one from your camera roll) and turn it into a strip of four pictures. Bring your friends down memory lane by e-mailing them a strip or posting it on their Facebook wall.
7. Tap News - $0.99 Tap News pulls from 18 mainstream news sources, like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and MSNBC, and feeds them into one place. Most of these news outlets have individual apps, yes, but this is a timesaving way to get up to speed on current events. Because, let's face it, sometimes we want to talk about something other than our kids.
8. Island Pictures - FREE Dare to dream about an exotic island getaway with your mate. A trip to Tahiti may not be on the calendar, but drooling over Islands magazine's photos of the most beautiful beaches in the world will take you there for a couple of minutes, at least in your mind.

Daily Musings

Over the last 21 months, I've learned a lot about life.

I've learned that I took for granted the free time I had prior to being a parent.
I've learned that being a stay-at-home mom is a lot of work.
I've learned that being a mom while working full time is a lot of work.
I've learned that I can be lazy.
I've learned that I can be very productive.
I've learned that I have no clue who I am.
I've learned that I really have no idea what I'm doing.

We've been watching Mad Men a lot. We just started Season 4 and I've been really upset that I'm not a Betty Draper. I don't have a neat house all the time. My fridge is usually filled with junk. Of course, I recently reminded myself that Betty does have a maid.

Life has also been extremely adventurous. Just the other day, I decided to write a book about living with a child (soon to be children) 2500 miles away from your family. I decided this book shall be called Adventures in Poop. I mean seriously. Why is there ALWAYS poop involved?! I have many friends who dodge Facebook friends because they are constantly talking about their kids' poop. Or poop in general. Somehow, kids always end up associated with poop!  Whenever my husband comes home, I immediately start on the daily poop updates.  I understand why people who are not parents get bent out of shape because my whole day revolves around poop!  (Sorta...)

I'm getting a hands' on experience on the differences in pregnancies.  When I was pregnant with Orion, I worked full time from home.  It was a very fast paced job that required me to be in front of my computer 40+ hours/week and I was on the phone for a good 30 of that.  I had lots of information that I needed to just be able to call up at any given moment and that's one of the things that made me a valuable employee.  I had a lot of info that I could just summon and I was quick and efficient at paperwork.  I love paperwork.  Seriously.  Working from home allowed me to laze around and I spent many hours watching television or surfing the internet or playing World of Warcraft.  If I needed to sleep, I took a lunch break and slept.  I'd go to bed early and sleep late whenever I could.  If I had an early shift, I'd take a nap and then still go to bed early.

When I brought my son home, I was granted 6 weeks maternity leave (30 business days).  I took those days for granted.  I took for granted when my son was immobile and when he was breastfeeding.  I'd just block him out unless he needed something.  Obviously I kept an eye on him but he was more a part of the furniture than anything else.

The more mobile he got, the harder my job became.  I ended up on anti-depressants because I was having trouble coping with my life.  A full time job, a full time parent, a full time wife and maid and cook?  I mean seriously.  That's way too much for one person to do with no help.  Now, that's not to say that my husband didn't do anything.  He was all of these things too.  But when it's all said and done, where is the personal down time?  It doesn't exist.  Things start slipping.

This second pregnancy is very very much wanted but was as much of a surprise as when I found out I was pregnant with our son.  I panicked because we'd been planning to get an IUD and wait 5 years for another baby and here I was pregnant again.  At least I'd be delivering in September.  Except that we found out I was much farther along than I thought.  I would be delivering at the end of July.  We decided that I should put in my notice for work (my job was pretty specialized and I'd been doing it for 5 years so I gave them 2 months' notice).  My time got cut a month short and I've been a stay at home mom ever since.

But being a stay at home mom isn't easy by any means.  I spend my days chasing my 21 month old toddler who is incredibly active.  If I'm not chasing Orion, I'm trying to do the cleaning and cooking that need to be done.  And I'm exhausted.  I'm 7 months pregnant and all I want to do is sleep.  Everything hurts and it's hurt for far longer than it did with Orion.  I'm contemplating a maternity support belt because wow.  Ouch.

I've learned along the way that I can't stick to some things and others I'm really good at sticking to.  We watch a lot of TV.  I'm tired.  Orion loves Toy Story.  If it's not Toy Story, it's Rio or Little Einsteins or Go Diego Go.  We had Netflix on a PlayStation 3 for awhile so we also watched The Backyardigans or Sesame Street or The Cat in the Hat or Curious George.  He eats more mac and cheese than I ever wanted him to.  And French Fries?  Forget it.  Can't get enough of them.

But ya know something I've learned?  My little boy is happy.  He's healthy.  He smiles and laughs and we have a good time.  I've learned that I've been too plugged in for too long in his very short life.  He'll come running up to me and slam my laptop closed if I've been on it for too long.  So I make sure that I limit my computer time.  My lazing about time.  If we're watching TV, I pull him onto my lap and we talk about what's going on.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the Time Magazine article (what mom hasn't?!) about being mom enough (This is a much much longer blog entry, not for tonight) and you know what it comes down to?  My little boy is healthy and happy and loves me and knows he's loved.  And that's what's important.