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    Chiropractor Mama Dr. Dolly and professional photographer Elisa B. share about adventures in intentional and natural parenting while living in Virginia's beautiful Blue Ridge.
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A Mom’s Holiday

I’m not talking about Mother’s day.  I’m talking about working moms taking a day to do something creative and fun with their kids and other working moms.

That’s exactly what my friend Jennifer Hamlin and I did on Wednesday.  It was a spontaneous sort of an adventure that began with a trolley ride to the UVa where Calvin and I met Jennifer and a room full of women for the monthly CVille SheBlogs meeting at Para Coffee.

(By the way, my little sleepyhead did not want to get out of bed this morning.  When I told him he needed to wake up so we could take the trolley.  He sat upright and said, “Get dressed!”  He was rarin’ to go from that moment forward!)

After our meeting Jennifer and her daughter asked us if we wanted to join them downtown at the Virginia Discovery Museum.  Since I was sans vehicle, I said we could meet them downtown, but we were going to ride in on the trolley.  Instead of looking for downtown parking, Jennifer and her daughter hopped on the trolley and joined us.

We window shopped and admired pretty things like a live finch and plant-shaped candles at Caspari.

I wasn’t used to taking leisure time to “look” at things I would never buy.  Okay, online window shopping aside.  But, we simply walked and took our time and had a relaxing day with our precious children.

With a little muscle, we turned the merry-go-round carousel, and then we spent a few hours in the Discovery Museum (if you visit once with a member, your April membership is free for your family!).

Calvin and I haven’t been to that  museum before, and it was surprisingly cool.  Not too big, and not as small as I thought.  It was just right. Calvin’s favorite features were the train table and the live honeybees.  I think we may decide to join as members.

After running themselves ragged from so much fun, our kiddos were about to collapse in fatigue.  But, not until they had one more go on the carousel.

Then, we hiked to the other end of the Downtown mall to Marco & Luca’s for a tasty and inexpensive lunch of dumplings.

Dumplings were a huge hit!  Look at that boy go with his kuàizi (a.k.a. chopsticks).

All four of us rode the Trolley back and we said goodbye.  I could have done some house cleaning, but I snuggled up with Calvin for an afternoon nap followed by more playing in the backyard and a walk down to see train tracks.

That was just the day off I needed.  No work.  No computer.  Just a lot of smiles, laughs, time away from things that always need to be done.  It was the perfect day.

Stuffy

I’ve been burning the midnight oil, the candle at both ends, and I’m plumb tired.  So tired, that I think overworking myself has caused me to get a little run down.  Nothing like the full-force of allergies to say, Hey!  Slow down!

It all started on Monday when my son and I enjoyed a lovely day by eating our lunch outside in a courtyard surrounded by beautiful blooms and singing birds.

Shortly after we walked back to the office, I started to sneeze and get a runny nose.  Within a few hours, I had full on sinus congestion and zero capability to breathe through my nose.

I could not wait to get home and relax.

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That night, I was miserable and groaning with little sleep and a lot of drippy nose and stuffy head.  They were the worst sinus allergies I’d experienced since I was a teenager living in the Ragweed pollen capital of the world in central Texas.

Calvin was pretty miserable, too.  He crawled into bed with us and was restless.  When he woke up the next morning, his eyes were red and puffy. Poor little guy!

All I wanted to do was stay home and sleep and do nothing but snuggle with my son.  However, I had a full patient load for the day.  So, I dropped off Calvin with a friend for the morning, and then I headed to the office to hang out for eight hours.  An eight hour day isn’t a terribly long work day.  But, when you’ve got the worst allergies, eight hours feels like twenty plus.

I may or may not have had a tissue crammed up and hanging out of my nostril to absorb the run-off snot.  And no, there is no photo.

Thankfully, another chiropractor was able to fit me in during the late morning to adjust my inflamed spine and to work on my horribly stuffed nasal passages.  I felt well enough afterward to continue with my day (even though I still wanted to go home and crawl in bed and rest).

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So, to sum up my afternoon:  Calvin woke up early from his nap because he was too hot.  Sweating profusely from too many blankets.

He said, Hair wet.  Take a shower.  Wash hair.

Not only did I have two hours of patient care remaining, but I had a miserable little guy who wanted my full attention.  When one patient was finishing up, Calvin kept saying, All done. Bye bye!

That’s code for: Please, leave now.  I want my Mommy all to myself.

He said this for the next patient who came in.  I tried to add in some training.

Calvin, we don’t say those things.  That’s not being a good little host.

Futile.

Especially when a two year-old isn’t feeling well.  Forget manners.  It’s all about being direct and expressing your needs.

My heart was torn.  I wanted nothing more than to cuddle my little guy and get him home.  Yet, I need to focus on patients when I’m at work, whether or not I’m feeling well, and whether or not my son agrees.

I looked at the clock all afternoon hoping my husband would get off work early to pick up our son.  No such luck.

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Being a working mom is hard with little ones who want constant attention…especially when you have a job where you care for people who need constant attention.  Also, it’s tough when your babysitter is on spring break for days that are super full.

God bless friends like Elisa who can help out in a pinch.  God bless chiropractic care and homeopathic remedies that actually work to relieve allergies.

Note: I still have residual symptoms from my allergies, but they are seventy-five percent better.  Because I’ve been run down and working so much that I regretted not having fun outings with my son, I more than made up for it today. (More on that later…)

By the way, while all of that stuff was going on, Angie Bremont of CVille Entremom announced the winner of the First Annual CVille Entremom of the Year.

*photo from Little Miss Pip via Flickr.

Elisa’s New Venture/Adventure

A few months ago (I distinctly remember I was 40 weeks pregnant at the time) I mentioned to a friend of mine how much I wish that my wedding planning experience had been different. It’s been almost 6 years now since I went through the process, but this still sticks in my mind. I wished I had a community of women who were also planning their weddings – to share the joys with, to build enthusiasm with, and to share the experience with. I mentioned a desire to start something like that for women in the Charlottesville area (“perhaps over coffee …”, I said).

Jennifer took this idea and went full speed ahead. Of course, she added her event planning expertise, and by the time Lucien arrived she was ready to go big, with monthly meetings at different locations around the area where brides could have their weddings. She also had the brilliant idea to spotlight a different vendor each month, inviting them to share their knowledge with the women in the group. And so, The Bridal Ring was born. You can check out the website here: www.thebridalring.com.

All this is very exciting, and we’re thrilled about the publicity we’ve gotten so far. We’ve been featured on the CvilleEntremom website and just a few weeks ago we were on TV! You can see video of both the interview and the news show coverage of The Bridal Ring’s blog by clicking here.

I have to admit that my husband is a little afraid (“two businesses and a baby in two years?”) but also really excited. I love connecting with people; I’ve always been a people person. That’s one of the many reasons why I love photography, and one of the reasons why I’m so excited about this new venture.  How will this go with a new baby and a new business on top of my photography? We’ll find out!

Shaking things up

A few weeks ago, I had a great post brewing in my brain about how I’m a little slow with the learning curve to adapting to motherhood, launching a chiropractic practice, and adjusting to my 6th home since 2007. Just gotta roll with the punches, right?

I do believe there is such a thing as too many major life changes in a short period of time.

Not that there’s anything I could really do about that…except pray for sanity, and that God would make me a good mother.  Still praying about that, by the way.

Ever since January hit, I’ve felt like I was on a roll.  I finally, ever so late, but finally, got this wife+mother+doctor+biz owner+blog editor thing figured out and into a sweet and groovy routine.  At last!

But, as life would have it, everything would have to pull a switcherooni on me, yet again.  It’s as if I had the rug pulled out from underneath my feet.  Instead of that sweet magic trick where everything stays put, I landed on my unsuspecting bottom.

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I was going to write about how I do major cooking a few evenings a week to accommodate the nights I work later at the office.  Also, to make our early Sunday mornings smoother before we dash out the door for the 8:30 worship service, I spend Friday or Saturday evening preparing a couple of breakfast quiches and early preparation for Sunday night’s dinner.

Ya see, that’s what I was doing up until about two weeks ago.  Blizzard or no blizzard, that routine was working for me.  I could keep up with the housework and food preparation, spend quality time with my son several times a day (and even fit in some morning “school” time), and still run a practice and a blog.

What happened?

My husband had to pick up an extra day of work.  We’re SO thankful he has the opportunity to do so, but it also means that the 1 day a week he was helping me at the office with administrative things (ya know, getting my lame-o Lenovo laptop to actually communicate with my printer), book keeping, other random business errands and tasks, and he could enjoy spending time with our son.

Now that he’s working 5 days a week, we’re forced to have our son spend a couple half-days a week in another family’s home.  It’s not the same as day care, but it’s still time when he’s not with us.  By the way, I LOVE this family…they have four wonderful children (two of them are very close in age to Calvin).  He LOVES to play with them, even though he clings to my leg for dear life when I drop him off (all morning long he asks to play with “tids”).

I struggle with adapting to my ever-changing office schedule, when to drop-off or pick-up my son that is most conducive to his nap schedule.  And this is KILLING me.

Sure, it’s a temporary fix until my husband can help out at the office again.  But the daily schedule changes not only impact my son’s nap time, but they’re throwing my whole routine out the window.

Starting over again at square one.  Here we go.  Let’s back up to how I felt a few months ago…and how I’d felt every day for the past couple of years. Aching for a glimpse of where this is going and when it will feel comfortable.

Then I ask, “Is this supposed to feel comfortable?  Is this what we’re supposed to be doing?  Is this temporary…or am I just going to burn out or survive?

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So thankful for some incredible women in my life.  A wonderful and uplifting phone chat today with my friend Michele helped me realize that times of transition and whirlwind are a way for God to teach us.  I’m paying attention and I’m learning very quickly the schedule priorities for my family and my business–everything else is fluff and gets chucked faster than a poopy diaper.

The regular prayers and words of encouragement from my husband, grandmother, and close friends (like Elisa, Kristin, and Allycia)  are the most treasured and meaningful gifts I could ever receive.

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Extreme Parenting

We went a few weeks ago for our 6 week check up with our midwives, Brynne and Deren of Mountain View Midwives. I have posted before on my birth story about how much we loved and appreciated our home birth experience.

Our midwives have always taken the time to talk with us, let us make our own decisions, and are so supportive of the mothering process in general. This visit was a simple check up and there wasn’t anything pressing to talk about – Lucien has been growing, eating, and sleeping well (he is in the 75th percentile for length and the 90th for weight, and is sleeping about 6.5 hours at a stretch during the night now that he is 10 weeks).

While at our visit, Brynne and I got on the subject of parenting types. We have taken Lucien with us everywhere  from a very early age. We went to a bridal show at three weeks, a wedding vendor Christmas party at 5 (with an impromptu dinner out with friends afterwards), we’ve been home over the holidays to stay with family, and the list goes on! While I imagined holing up with my little newborn over the winter months, that was not our reality – and I don’t really regret it.

When I mentioned how on-the-go we’ve been she said, “I’ve seen two extreme types of parenting that work well for people – the first is the schedule parenting. These parents have baby home at a certain time, do bedtime a certain way, etc. and that works well for them.”

Then, she said, “On the other extreme are the “rock band groupie” type of parents. These moms and dads take baby wherever they go and baby eats and sleeps whenever and wherever and these parents are happy too. The parents who languish in the middle are the ones I see who are struggling and unhappy.”

Thank goodness we had this conversation! I had been feeling a little guilty that we weren’t part of the scheduling crowd. How wonderful to be given the freedom to call ourselves part of the “groupie” parents who chose this lifestyle because that’s what works well for us. We have changed diapers in restaurant booths and nursed in public places, and that works well for us – we have a happy, healthy boy to prove it.

YOUR TURN: What parenting style works well for you? Are you finding yourself in the middle, and is that working for you and your family?

Terribly Two

Ever since we came home from visiting family for the holidays, my son has been insufferable.

Clingy.

Whiny.

Tantrum-throwing.

Craving constant attention.

I absolutely adore my son.  I think he is the cutest, most lovable, and most darling creature alive on the planet.

However…

There are limits to what I can manage.

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I understand that small children can go through so-called phases.  I understand that as soon as a child gets into a groove or routine, that the so-called routine can suddenly change.  Heck, that’s happened with our son only 5,681,362 times since he was born.  Chances are, it’ll happen again soon…probably within the next five minutes.

But, I just don’t know what to do when I spend all morning playing with him, reading him books, dancing and singing songs, preparing him snacks.  Then, when I want a mere 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to read a book or work on my computer while he contents himself with independent play he gives me the the figurative Heisman hand.

Am I asking for too much from my two-year-old?  Only a month ago, it was a perfectly amicable request.

However, since January struck, the minute second I sit down at my computer, I hear, “Moooooooommeeeeeeee!”  With outstretched arms and a desperateness to his voice and an earnest look in his eyes, he then says, “Up please!  Mommy’s lap.”

Er, right.  Because, sitting on my lap while I’m about to work is the same thing as “playing with your cars and trucks while Mommy works.” Not-so-much.

If I use the matter-of-fact tone of voice to counter his requests with a “No,” then, I am met with a full-boar tantrum complete with crocodile tears.

If I try the sweet-as-honey approach and show him how much fun it is to play with his cars and trucks (trust me on this, he needs no encouragement), then he must insist that I continue to play with him and his cars and trucks or else the aforementioned tantrum and tears ensue.

Regardless of how I respond, his response is the same, and the end result is this…I still get ZERO work done during his waking hours.  Who can work with a tantrum, shirt-tugging toddler going ballistic?  Call me a guilty, soft-hearted mom, but I simply cannot ignore him and continue.

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By the way, I just described what it’s like to work from home.

When I actually try to work with him at my office, well, I don’t even know if I should write about that behavior.  It’s like my child turned into an teething 18-month old who refused to nap and only wanted his Mama…no one else would do.

Honestly, I don’t know how I survived today.

I don’t know if one of my new patients who came in today will ever return.

I don’t know how to make this working mom thing actually work.

Day care isn’t an option (neither financially, nor do I want someone else rearing my son).   A babysitter or a nanny aren’t exactly within the budget, either.

I thought things would continue to get better as my son grows up with me working part time.

I thought the worst part would be teething…well, apparently not.  Rather, overcoming the constant attention from relatives who doted on him over the holidays has proved to be the worst thing that could happen to a stay-at-home-mom/working mom with a child-with-her-at-work scenario.  Quite frankly, I don’t know what to do.

Suggestions?  I’m truly open to hearing them.

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Tools for Keeping New Year’s Resolutions – Quo Vadis Equology Minister {Giveaway}

If you wrote out your new year’s resolutions or goals, then you’re already on track for making some positive changes in your life.  I took a 3 year maternity hiatus on goal-setting because I was overwhelmed enough with pregnancy and becoming a new mom.  But 2010 is here, and I’m ready to reclaim order and organization in my life– starting with my goals.

Writing things down, and keeping them in a place where I can reference them is a seemingly simple step for getting organized.  Yet, it’s surprisingly simple to lose sticky notes and grocery lists…and I don’t want that to happen to my annual goals and weekly appointments.

Before I became a mom, others always commented on how organized I was.  I never missed important academic or social events, or forgot birthdays.  The secret to my timeliness and organization skills was merely the fact that I wrote everything down in my planner.

In graduate school (beginning in 2004), I used a Quo Vadis Scholar planner for 3 years, and I loved it!  Everything I ever needed was in one place: a weekly calendar, to-do list, phone numbers, etc.  Writing things down, referencing them regularly, and crossing completed items off a list kept me focused and on point.

Fast forward to December 2009

I’d gone 3 years without using a planner.  I’d had a baby, moved to a new state, started a new business (besides this blog), and I wasn’t really organized. Life came at me fast, and I was just reacting to it…wearisome.  Others told me that was “normal”, but it felt highly irregular to me.

Another year was about to begin, and I needed to get back to the basics that helped me feel organized and content with whatever I was doing at any given moment.  So once again, I turned to Quo Vadis.  When I learned that they had multiple planner organizational options, I got very excited, indeed!

Even better news was learning about the Quo Vadis Equology line, made from 100% recycled paper–crisp, white paper that works well with gel pens, ball point, pencil…you name it.  Green and great!

Presently, I’m using the Quo Vadis Equology Minister.  It offers pages that fold open flat with a week at a glance.

  • Appointments are available in 15 minute intervals from 8am to 9pm.
  • There’s a Generous right sided column with boxes for phone numbers, e-mails, faxes, to-do/see, a pay/receive list, and a box for notes.
  • Each week view includes a small 3-month calendar view to help with planning and scheduling.
  • At 6.25″ wide x 9.5″ high and weighing just over 3 ounces, it’s not bulky or cumbersome to keep with you everywhere you go.
  • The tear-away corners help you keep tabs on the current week.
  • As a back-up to your cell phone contacts, you can write in the detachable address book in the back.
  • For the traveling Mompreneur, enjoy the world maps (and time zones) pages.
  • Keep the recycled cover and refill the pages next year!
  • It’s available in a completely recycled Equology format with a softly textured cover–recycled fibers that are fountain-pen friendly.

The Equology Minister retails for $26 , and it’s available through many retailers online including quovadisusa.com, The Daily Planner, and others.

I’m also loving the matching red (and recyled) notebook from Exaclair and Clairefontaine that’s perfect for jotting down brainstorm ideas for blog posts.  At 3.5″  wide x 5.5″ high, this miniature notebook filled with 96 sheets of lined paper is petite enough to store in a purse, diaper bag, or glove drawer of the car.  The pages are constructed from beautiful French-milled paper that are perfect for writing.

To stay in-the-know on Quo Vadis, follow them on Twitter (@quovadisblog), become a fan on Facebook, or subscribe to the Quo Vadis blog.

YOUR TURN:

What works for you to keep track of your family’s schedule and your to-do list?

Win it!

One winners will receive a Quo Vadis Equology Minister–winner’s choice of cover.

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post prior to January 27th at 11:59 p.m.  Please follow the contest rules and avoid any generalized comments, or you will be disqualified.

FOR A SECOND ENTRY: Blog about this giveaway, then leave a comment with a link to your post.

FOR A THIRD ENTRY: Tweet (include @drdolly) about this giveaway, then leave a second comment telling me that you tweeted with a link to your tweet.

*I received product samples from Quo Vadis and Exaclair for the purpose of this review.  Read my full disclosure policy.
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*UPDATE*
Congrats to the winner, #4 Aimee W!