Moms Make it Work and Podcasts

I definitely haven't been posting much on my blog since I returned to work, and it's not because I'm lacking topics. I'll often think, 'Oh, I want to blog about this,' or 'Man, this would be a good/necessary thing to record on the old bloggity blog.' But then it just disappears from my mind and I choose sleep/preparing for work/vegging out on the couch over blog time in the evenings these days.

I suppose this is expected since I've ridden the ebbs and flows of blogging frequency over the years. Time is a luxury for all of us and I'm re-discovering that posting here is an 'extra' but not a necessity, when so many other items on my precious To Do list warrant my attention instead. So bear with me as we 'ebb' and this space gets quieter for a bit while I regain composure and find a groove, since I'm absolutely not ready to let this thing get TOO dusty in the process.

(Although, I must be a little rusty with this blogging thing since I literally spent a good hour typing this post last night and apparently didn't save it before logging out. Let's begin again, I guess. Boo/Hiss.)

One thing I wanted to write about today is the Moms Make it Work series. 2014 has been quite the year for this little idea I concocted last December. When I first sent out the email to my blogger friends asking them if they'd like to participate in a guest post series about how we all make it work in our different situations, I had no idea if anyone would post for me. Little did I know that not only my blog friends but also many readers would offer up their stories and we ended up with seventy-seven posters. SEVENTY-SEVEN, you guys. Moms from all over the world, moms with many different but strikingly similar challenges, moms working outside of the home or staying at home or a mixture of every label possible, military moms, single moms, moms with special needs children, older moms, moms with lots of kids. You name it and we've read it. These moms presented us with inspiration and camaraderie and support. Even if I couldn't personally relate to every part of every post, I value our differences as much as our similarities as mothers. I think this series has been a big time success and I hop you do, too!

For now I'm going to close the series and revisit the idea next year if there are more of you that want to share your story. But thank you to everyone who posted and commented and read along. (fist pound to all of the moms making it work, even when you think you aren't).

Something related to the MMIW series: I've been getting really addicted to podcasts in my van while driving for work lately. One that was recommended to me was Slate Radio's 'Mom and Dad are Fighting' podcast which is all about parenting. I randomly selected one episode called 'The Disdaingate Edition' and it took me a second to realize what the title even meant, since I thought 'disdaingate' was a fancy word I couldn't pronounce at first. But really, the male host (Dan) dropped a huge, charged, intense bomb on his listeners in a prior episode when he admitted he has disdain towards stay at home parents. Oh no he didn't, right? It was a rude, disrespectful, hurtful comment if you ask me and drew a line of division between working moms and stay at home moms even further. Basically the opposite goal of the MMIW series, Dan!! ;)

Listening to the episode was really interesting though, because it brought up a lot of important points on this topic. Dan elaborated on his stab-in-the-heart statement from before by saying he envies families who have a parent that is home with the kids. That he worries maybe his kids are worse off because neither of their parents are home with them. He sometimes feels judged for not staying at home (or because his wife isn't at home), and a lot of this tension stems from insecurities on both sides. The image he had in his mind of what a stay-at-home mom looks like was really ignorant, in my opinion, because it seems like he thought staying at home with the kids is 'easy.' Hahahaha. Oh, Dan. Thankfully many of his listeners set him straight. Staying at home is hard. Working outside of the home is hard. But making it work is key (cheesy but true).

At the heart of this issue, I think we are all worried about doing the best for our children. We're worried that we'll somehow screw up the most weighty job in our lives, which is raising our kids. We worry about how our kids view us and our choices related to them. We might worry what others think about our parenting choices because we're insecure about them ourselves! Maybe nobody is really judging each other because we are all too busy worrying about who is judging us. Interesting thought about this 'mommy war' is that maybe it all stems from an internal battle after all.

Anyway, I found the episode a little tough to hear at times since I really hate confrontation and would rather we all just hold hands and give hugs instead of tearing each other down. But I thought a lot of the resultant conversation was positive and uplifting to hear, too. Have you guys listened to this episode? What did you think?

Moving on...

I mentioned my new obsession with podcasts. 'Mom and Dad Are Fighting' is a favorite, as is 'The Shortest Longest Time'--especially the episode about changing breast pumps to suck less, and the one about how it's almost impossible to share mommy-triumphs without making another mom feel badly about her own situation. So much food for thought here!

But my ultimate for a podcast? Like the rest of the world in social media, I am obsessing over Serial. As in, I listened to the first eight episodes in two days while in the van alone and in the evenings. It's seriously so good. I'm not really sure if Andan did it or not but I want to believe he didn't. Maybe he was involved in Hae's death but I just can't believe he did it all himself! Are you listening to this one? Thoughts? It's seriously fascinating.

More random thoughts to come in a different post. This one is getting lengthy and chalk-full of talking points, I think. Would love to hear from you on these matters even though I know commenting on blogs is hard and annoying and 'out'. But I refuse to believe blogs are totally dead…they just aren't what they used to be. Right?

(I get twitchy if I don't include at least one picture in a post. Here is one that is unrelated but sort of related, since these three kids are GROWING and our parenting is adapting. Or something. July versus November. Holy man, time flies)
All Photos-167


Tis the Season for Christmas Cards | A Giveaway

Does it seem like my blog has become one big giveaway lately? Well I have one more up my sleeve and then I will attempt to do an actual update on life and it will likely be extra ramble-y. Just for you, dear readers.

Yes, I know we are supposed to 'respect the turkey' and Thanksgiving hasn't happened yet. But Christmas is going to be here before we know it and it's time to get those cards ordered! This year I achieved my personal dream of our entire family in matching Christmas pajamas from Hanna Andersson. Yep, even Nate. He didn't put up much of a fight, resigning himself to the fact that he married me and therefore matching pajamas were kind of in our vows at the alter. Seriously, I've wanted to do this for years and now that our family is complete it was time to make it happen! And Nate knew this would make me happy, plus I ordered them while he was gone on a four night work trip to San Diego. He really had no choice in the matter while I was caring for his children and he was in sunny California, sleeping through the night and enjoying peaceful silence in the evenings. So there, Nate. Striped leggings are a payback!

Instead of having professional family pictures taken this year, I just set up the tripod and snapped a few shots one Saturday morning. I knew a true photo shoot in a studio or outside would NOT be happening with Nate's skin-tight striped leggings, so a make shift home shoot would do just fine. I was sweating, I really need to get a remote for my camera, and it was fairly painful like most family photo shoots tend to be with three small children. I figured that even if I only got one half-way decent shot, the pajamas would be cute enough to make it Christmas card worthy. And I did get a few acceptable images that morning;)

Three kids at Christmas time!
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Love them so.
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A winner, right here:
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#PorterTheElf
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Strategic baby placement throughout these images--we knew we would not get any standing up shots of our family! ;)
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LOL at Truman and Cecelia. What in the heck is going on? Why is mom running back and forth and yelling about the camera timer process?
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Best we could do. Porter would not smile and I'm glistening in sweat but whatever!
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I wanted one with the kids and at this point, everyone was obviously over it.
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Then for the cards, I went with Pear Tree Greetings yet again. They have been awesome to work with in the past for Christmas cards, Valentines cards, Cecelia's first birthday, and Porter's birth announcement, so when they contacted me about Christmas cards it was a no-brainer. Their quality is always top notch and I love how our cards turned out this year. I chose a much simpler Christmas card this year compared to the folded card I chose last year, but I really just wanted a flat card with two images and a text box. The Moveable Cheer Vertical card was my winner this year. A picture of the kids is plastered on the front, our family picture is slightly smaller on the back (and Nate's leggings are barely visible), and I wanted to do a little update on our year, similar to how my mom would always send out Christmas letters growing up. If you are dying to know, this is what my mini-letter says:

"Merry Christmas! 2014 was a big year for the (Goolia) family. Truman turned four, Cecelia turned two, we celebrated seven years of marriage, and then Porter was born on 7.11.14. After an awesome maternity leave, Julia returned to work part-time as a PT, Nate switched clinics as a full-time PT, and Truman started Junior Kindergarten. Our first Christmas as a family of five (plus Henry dog!) will surely be memorable and full of incredible, happy noise. We hope this year has been kind to you, too. Cheers!"


The colors on our card really pop, the gold glitter polka dots make me happy, and I love the little foil logo at the bottom, too. Success!

(Spoiler alert for friends and family who will be getting these in their mailboxes shortly!)
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Pear Tree Greetings is going to give one lucky reader a $50 off coupon code to use on your favorite card. Take a look around their many options for Holiday photo cards (or no photo, if that is your thing) and enter the Rafflecopter below. I will draw a winner on Saturday, November 29th and will post it on my Facebook page and in the Rafflecopter box below. Best of luck and have fun card shopping!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Still Loves Trains at 4.5 | A Giveaway

Sometimes it seems like Truman is practically an adult, now that he is in school every day and just *looks* so grown up to me. But there are still so many sweet, obviously child-like qualities in my boy that remind me that he is ONLY four-and-a-half, not quite fourteen yet.

Sure, he is obsessed with Angry Birds and this super weird TV show on Netflix called 'Ninjago' which is some sort of Lego/fighting show. Those are sort of 'big boy' things to me. But my Truman still loves trains and tracks and creating imaginary stories with his trains, losing himself in that little engineer world for longer than any other toys will allow. He's not a toddler anymore and is definitely a preschooler, but those trains that were his OBSESSION at age two are not going anywhere any time soon.

So when I was offered the opportunity to review a Chuggington set and DVD, I happily agreed knowing Truman would be overjoyed. And then I pushed to do a giveaway for you readers, too, since I like doing reviews that also offer you guys something. Christmas is scary close and I'm guessing there are plenty of moms with train loving kids who need ONE more track to take over their house, right? Enter Chuggington StackTrack Brewster's Big Build Adventure Playset and "Chuggineers Ready to Build" DVD.

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When the package arrived, Truman asked like he always does if it was for him. When I was actually able to say 'yes' this time, you would have thought the kid just won the lottery. Packages are like a little slice of heaven for him. And when he opened it up? Pure joy. 'This is for me? And I don't have to give it back? Ever?' He didn't hear me when I said I got this from the blog and kept telling people that one of his grandmas bought it for him. I guess that would make more sense, and you try explaining the concept of a blog (and giveaways) to a preschooler! ;)
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His very first train set was actually one of Chuggington's, and then he has an absurd amount of Thomas tracks and trains from my amazing Craigslist find (used successfully as potty training bribery---I'll always have Cranky the Crane to thank for ending Truman's days in diapers). He and my mom set up the playset together when she was visiting, I held Porter and took pictures, and then Mom took Porter back and I kept taking pictures;) It seemed very easy to assemble and Truman is seriously obsessed with this set. As soon as I saw the crane with big hook I knew he would be a goner. Plus there is a collapsable bridge and a big crank that lifts the trains up an incline. Basically the more moving parts to a train track the better for Truman. He's a big fan.
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So is Porter. He can't get to get this as another hand-me-down someday;)
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Truman also studies and discusses the small pamphlet that came inside of the box, that shows all of the Chuggington trains. I have no idea why he loves things like this----pictures of other toys, with labels and bright colors seem to be his jam. I've seen the two trains touring our entire house and the track itself has stayed in the family room since we got it, meaning I haven't banished it to the playroom or basement yet. He really does play with it every day and we haven't even switched up the track arrangement yet.

Then there is the DVD, which goes along with the track perfectly. He requests to watch an episode (of the five total) most days, and he likes to play with the playset at the same time. Note the pamphlet laying next to him, too.
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There is a video for the playset here, and it can be found at ToysRUs and Target. The DVD is on Amazon and I think both the playset and the DVD would be awesome gifts for any train-lover out there.

And now for the giveaway. I have one of the Chuggington StackTrack playsets to along with the 'Ready to Build' DVD, both going to one lucky winner of this Rafflecopter drawing. I am specifically supposed to tell you that they cannot guarantee a holiday delivery for your prize---so Santa might be a little tardy with this one, I suppose. But if you would like to enter for the track and DVD combo, enter below. Otherwise add these to your Christmas lists for your train kid!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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