Leaving Chennai, part 3 – Final Roundup

Today is our last day in Chennai, which means this is my last blog post from here. The packing is pretty much finished, there is mess all over the house, and all the furniture is getting picked up at varying times throughout the day by 4 different people. Pretty much all of it sold, except for the old water filter and microwave, though we may be able to get the scrap dealer, who has taken a number of our things, to buy them.

Sidney the cat is noticing the changes around here. She was outside on the balcony early and saw that I had the light on, so she cried her most pitiful cry. Then seeing as I wasn’t opening the door, she jumped to the window where I couldn’t ignore her. Now she is roaming the house meowing, looking for everyone else who is still asleep (it’s not quite 7 a.m.). I think she will miss us as much as we will miss her.

Now for some “I remembers”:

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I remember the day Logan got his first crib. It meant a more comfortable night sleep for me. (14 months old)

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I remember the shock of finding this rocking horse in a parcel shortly after praying to get one for Logan. (19 months old)

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I remember how sweet Logan was with Lila, and how much he wanted to hold and play with her. (Logan 20 months, Lila 3 months)

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I remember I was lying down and Lila was nursing, while Logan was making his puzzle next to me. He put the knob of each piece in his mouth and then stuck it in the puzzle.

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I remember seeing Lila in this rare thumb-sucking moment, and thinking how cute she looked. It’s one of my most favorite pictures of her. (3 months old)

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I remember how excited he was to get to pet this baby goat. He had been chasing the goats and they were all running from him. Then this man stopped and picked one up for him. (2 yrs. 3 mo.)

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I remember this moment of bonding between Lila (19 months) and Scarlett (10 days).

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I remember that Scarlett really loved our homemade popsicles. (16 months)

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I remember how excited they were when I told them they could play tea party on the balcony. They brought everything out. (Lila, 3 yrs., Scarlett, 17 mo.)

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I remember this day when daddy and Logan reversed rolls and had lots of fun on the roof.

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I remember how much work it was to get those not-quite-perfect lines in Lila’s hair.

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I remember they were so excited that it was Christmas Day and they could have chocolate and cookies for breakfast. (Lila, 3 1/2; Logan, 5 yrs.)

There are so many more special memories but I’m going to have to stop here. Tomorrow morning early we will be driving off towards Bangalore, where we will spend the night and head out the next day for Mangalore.

And now I’d better get going as I have a 9:30 dental appointment.

Leaving Chennai, part 1 – Parks

At the end of this week, we leave Chennai for Mangalore. We are leaving more than just a city – it’s been our home for the past 5 1/2 years. When you leave a place where you have been for so long, memories abound. Like I did for the house we are leaving, I’m going to do some photo posts of places we have visited and things we have done that will forever be embedded in our hearts.

Parks is the topic for this first post. I’ve got thousands of photos of park outings, but I’m choosing the best ones to show you. These are from about 6 different parks that we have gone to regularly over the last 5 years.

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Logan at 19 months.

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2 years old.

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So handsome.

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Lila at 11 months old. She had just started walking and loved the park.

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This was to become our favorite park, being only a 5 minute drive away. Because of that huge tower, it is aptly known as “Tower Park”.
Logan, 2 1/2, Lila 15 months. You can almost see Scarlett popping out of my tummy.

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Learning to slide on her own.

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This is one of my favorites. Lila, 21 months; Logan, 3 years.

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I recall that this day was sweltering.

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One of their favorite things to climb – the snail. Lila, 2 years.

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The main fountain at Tower Park.

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Scarlett, 6 months old.

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A good view of the tower. It has a ramp to walk up that circles the tower all the way to the top. but it has been closed to the public for years. I’ve always wanted to see the view from up there.

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It’s a rare occasion when daddy can join us. Scarlett was 14 months old.

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Who knows what lands this snail has taken them too?

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Valentine’s Day, 2011.

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First time alone on the swing. 15 months old.

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Such fun, carefree times.

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The day Logan graduated from preschool. Lila, almost 3; Scarlett, 16 months; Logan, 4 1/2 years.

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Trying out the skates she got for her third birthday.

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Fun times with daddy.

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Sweet.

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My climber. Nothing can ever stop her from reaching the top.

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First time up in a tree.

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Scarlett, 1 1/2.

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These next few photos were taken at the beautiful botanical gardens.

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Time for some tricks. Lila, 4 years; Logan, 5 1/2 years.

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Spiral slides are such fun.

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Their favorite way to use the snail now. Logan and Scarlett are sitting on the antennae.

And that brings me to the end of the park photo collection. We will have one last goodbye trip before leaving. Of all the parks in the city, we have used this one the most, and I shall miss it.

The Little Joys of Summer

Summer is arriving to India once more. We didn’t think we’d be here for another summer but here we are all the same. Despite the heat and daily temperatures of 30 – 32C, it isn’t technically summer yet. It’s not even technically hot yet, seeing as in a month, temperatures will reach highs of over 40C.

Since we are leaving at the end of the month, lots of prep is going on. We promised the person who bought the dining set that we’d have it varnished for them, so today the person who is working on it took all the chairs, meaning there was nowhere to sit for school time.

So I gave the kids the day off from school, and this is what they did this morning.

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I can’t think of a greater summer joy than sitting in the warm sun, wet from water play, eating a large bowl of ice-cold watermelon.

You are Too Young for a Girlfriend, Mister!

Sometimes while life is passing you by, you don’t notice how much your kids are growing until something happens to remind you of it.

The other day at lunch, Logan and I had the following conversation.

Logan: I want to have a girlfriend.

Me: Oh, really? What is a girlfriend?

Logan: A wife.

Me: (Ah huh, that’s news to me. Where did he get that idea?) So why do you want a girlfriend?

Logan: So I can put my babies in her tummy. That is where babies grow, you know.

Me, trying my best not to laugh: Where did you hear about girlfriends? (And please don’t ask how the babies get out! Or how you put them in!! Dear God, he’s only six!)

Logan: “Lady and the Tramp“. Lady was his girlfriend and wife and then they had puppies.

Me: I see. (Damn you, Disney. I’m not ready for this.)

Logan: I really want a girlfriend.

Me: Oh, well maybe when you’re older you’ll get a girlfriend, okay? Now finish your lunch. (Whew, no more questions. Maybe he should stick to cartoons that don’t show marriage, relationships, dating…gee, that’s pretty much all of them. )

 

Sheesh, sometimes I wish it was as easy for humans as it is for dogs. I’ve got my hands full with preparing him to be a good boyfriend and teaching him how to treat girls right, plus ensuring no babies are put into girlfriends tummies until he is old enough to handle the responsibility. And the girlfriend is in agreement. And he has his own place. And a job. Is 40 too old?

Logan’s 6th and Scarlett’s 3rd Birthday

(January 15, 2014: I feel so bad that this post never went up when it was supposed to. I was waiting for hubby to take the photos from his phone and put them on the computer. Can you believe he hasn’t done it yet? I need to pester him hard for it this week. I will add photos to this post once they are available but for now, here is the post so you can read it.)

Originally written November 21, 2013. Photos added February 11, 2014. See, even getting those took a long time.

 

You know you needed a break from blogging when you don’t even care that you missed important milestones, like birthdays. But better late than never, right?

Logan had his sixth birthday on the 11th and Scarlett had her third birthday on the 13th. With their birthday’s being right on top of each other, sometimes it feels rather overwhelming to make each one special and not lumped together. This year we kept them separate and simple.

Logan wanted a cow cake. By now you should know how he feels about farm animals. He’s twice had a farm cake, and once had a drawn cow cake, but this time I went with a sculpted cake.

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We invited some friends and went to our favorite park which is only a 5 minute drive from the house. Since his real birthday was on a Monday, we chose to celebrate the day before, on Sunday, so that daddy could be there. The park was crowded, as is typical for a weekend, but we settled ourselves in the small amphitheater so as to have a place to sit and place the cake. (Picnic tables are not available here.)

My kids love running up and down the rows of seats and on the small stage of the amphitheater, so it was the perfect place for them to play. They ran with daddy and played games until they couldn’t any more.

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Then it was time to cut the cake. I made sure to only cut the outside parts of the cow shape and I left the middle round cake intact. Why? Because I came up with the brilliant idea of removing the frosting and reusing it for the butterfly cake Scarlett had requested. Glad thought it was a sane idea that would prevent us from having loads of cake to eat later. So I did.

Glad decided to stay home the evening of Scarlett’s birthday (he still works most evenings, but can cancel the classes if needed). I cut and frosted that cake that had once been a cow’s body and turned it into a butterfly. Not my best decorating attempt, but she was happy, so I didn’t go for perfect.

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She picked out and ate all the chocolate gems before I could get a good pic. You can see the dents they left.

Logan, as usual, had requested more animals for his gift. I told him maybe, then bought him a book instead. 🙂 I want him to get used to the idea that there is more to the world of animals than small plastic toys, so I picked out an abridged version of “The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle”. We have been reading it a chapter at a time before bed, and he and Lila are enjoying it.

He also picked out a farm puzzle for himself, and our friends got him a scooter, plus a small bag of … you guessed it – plastic animals. He was delighted.

Scarlett is easier to please. Her only request was a pink butterfly cake and gifts were up to me. She picked out a tiny cheetah stuffed toy, which we named Itsy Bitsy, and I got her an ABC puzzle set as well. On the weekend we took them to the same Bunny Bounce Funland play place that we went to for Lila’s birthday and they enjoyed it.

Understandably Lila feels a little left out at this time of year, since her birthday is six months away, so she tries to get in on the act by making her cake and gift requests now. This year she told me that she wished her birthday was here already, and she also asked if it could be moved to Christmas. She has a cousin who’s birthday is on Christmas Day and she thought it would be great if her’s were there too.

Fortunately for her, Christmas is just around the corner and she will have forgotten the birthday feeling-left-out-edness (ok, I know it’s not a word) in favor of getting to spend Christmas at Nana Mable’s house and visit with some cousins she has never met.

Christmas is shaping up to be exciting this year.

Febrile Seizures – Dangerous? Or Just Scary?

A few weeks ago Logan came down with a fever. He was fine at bedtime, but when I went to take him to the toilet a few hours later, he was burning up. That was the beginning of a very long night.

Logan woke a lot, calling for water, cuddles, blankets, etc. At one point it seemed he had been calling for a while but I was so tired I didn’t hear him. He wet his bed and I had to change him and the bed while he fussed about feeling cold. Just as he was settled, he yelled again and told me, “The castle is rising!” I should have realized then that his temperature was high, but my tired state had fogged my brain and I made him go back to sleep.

At 5:30 a.m. his yelling woke me out of a sound sleep. I dragged myself to his bed again and asked what he needed. It took a minute for me to realize that he was freaking out because he was having a febrile seizure. His body was shaking, his muscles were tense, and he was scared. It wasn’t the first time this had happened, so I was able to keep him calm by talking to him until the seizure stopped.

The commotion in the kids’ room had woken everyone except Scarlett by this time. Lila was asking what was going on and why Logan’s body was shaking like that. After what seemed like a few minutes, but probably wasn’t more than a minute, the seizure stopped. Glad and I got Logan cleaned up (he had wet himself, normal during a seizure) and back into bed. We gave him some paracetamol and put a cool cloth on his forehead to help bring the fever down.

Daddy lay down with Logan while I tried to get Lila to go back to sleep in my bed. Logan was delirious and kept talking nonsense. (Later in the day he told me his bed had been rising off the floor and he thought he had been dreaming while awake.) Once the medicine kicked in and he was cooler, I took his temperature and it was still 103F. I can’t imagine how high it was during the seizure!

This is the second or third time Logan has had a febrile seizure. Had I not read about them shortly before it happened the first time, it would have freaked me out.  Febrile seizures are generally not dangerous to a child’s health. They are usually caused by a rapid rise in the temperature of the fever. They occur in children between the ages of 6 months – 6 years, and are more common in boys than girls.  In most cases, a medical exam afterwards is not necessary, unless you notice that your child doesn’t seem like themselves after an hour or more, or the fever doesn’t go down after you’ve given them something for it, or if the seizure happens again during the same illness.

Some tips to remember if it happens to your child:

1. Breathe and stay calm- it is scary but not dangerous.

2. Make sure they can’t hurt themselves while their body jerks around. Don’t hold them, but stay close until it ends.

3. They may or may not lose consciousness during the seizure (Logan didn’t).

4. A seizure normally lasts between a few second and 5 minutes, but can go as long as 15 minutes.

5. The child may wet or throw up while it is happening. If they throw up, make sure they are lying on their side so they don’t gag on the vomit.

6. Once the seizure is over and your child is cleaned up and calm, you can give them whichever OTC fever-reducing medication you normally use. Make sure to follow the body weight dosage listed on the bottle and measure out carefully. A cool cloth on the forehead helps too.

This is only a rough listing of things to remember. I suggest you read more on febrile seizures so you can be well-informed and prepared should they ever happen to your child.

Medline Plus – Febrile Seizures

MayoClinic.com -this link has a lot of information on them, spread over several pages. Click the link at the bottom of each section to make sure you get all the pages.

Has your child ever had a febrile seizure? What was your experience?

Coleslaw – That My Kids Actually Eat!!

If you have kids, you know how hard it can be to get them to eat vegetables. Even if they were introduced to them early, there is always that picky stage that most kids go through and introducing new veggies can be tough.

The other day I needed to come up with a salad for lunch and all I had was cabbage and carrots, so I made a coleslaw, hoping my kids would at least taste it, since they love carrots (and it had a few raisins, too). Well, they loved it. Logan surprised me by saying it was his favorite – he had never had it before. Ha.

Yesterday I decided to try serving it again, though I threw in a few things the first one didn’t have. It was beyond successful, and they ended up eating some veggies they normally would toss aside. So I’m sharing the recipe with you in the hopes that you will have the same success with your kids. I’m calling it:

A Coleslaw My Kids Will Eat

You will need:

1/2 of a medium head of white cabbage.

3 medium carrots

1/2 a medium cucumber, seeded

1 large handful of clean spinach leaves

1 handful each of moong dhal sprouts (or whichever sprouts you have), peanuts, sunflower seeds, and raisins

For the dressing:

1 tbsp. mayonnaise

3 tbsp. plain yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

First, grate your carrots using the smallest holes on the grater.

Mine looks like this.

Mine looks like this.

Finely slice the cabbage, making the strips as thin as possible. (You could also grate it, as I have done before. Grating it this fine makes it a bit soggy, but still good to use, and the kids ate it without knowing it was there.)

Stack the spinach leaves on top of each other and slice into thin ribbons.

Quarter the cucumber, de-seed it, and then dice.

Toss in the sprouts, nuts and raisins.

Make your dressing right on top of the salad, just like I did in my pasta salad. Throw the ingredients on top of the salad, then mix well.

Serve in the same bowl, or transfer to a nice bowl if serving to guests.

Serves 4 – 6.

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And prepare to be amazed. I’m still in shock that my kids loved it so much.

 

Why Our Move is Still Pending

Last year we announced that we are moving to Canada. Our hope was to be there before this year is out, but it looks like that won’t be happening. Here’s what’s going on.

We spent a lot of time last year and early this year working with our attorney in Canada to get everything in order so that Glad and the kids could get their visas. We figured we’d have them within about 3 – 6 months of applying and that possibly by now (August), we be ready to make the actual move.

Well, we finished everything we had to do and sent their passports and other documents up to the Canadian Embassy in Delhi and prepared to wait. Glad was checking the processing progress on their website almost daily. He was sure it wouldn’t take too long.

Then the embassy staff went on strike.

And not just here. It is a worldwide strike. That of course means that nothing is getting done. No paperwork is being processed, and the passports are stuck in the embassy. Here are links to a few recent articles on the topic, and you can Google many more.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/319775/pinoyabroad/news/strike-of-diplomats-in-canadian-embassies-consulates-worldwide-disrupts-visa-operations

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/07/30/no_end_in_sight_to_strike_by_canadas_foreign_service_officers.html

So with that stopping us from forward progress in the move, we have decided to end the holding pattern we were in and get some stuff done. For example, we are going to paint the house. Yes, I’ve said it before, but this time it will happen. Glad is advancing in his job. He’s making a real difference in the company and helping them grow, and I know they will miss him when we finally do leave.

Another thing we didn’t do was enroll the kids for the new school year, which began in June. Schools here require a full year’s advance payment and we were sure it wouldn’t be used, thus wasting a huge amount of money. Instead, we decided to do a little work at home just to keep them busy.

But now with this delay, I am picking up the slack. Instead of finding schools for them, I am buying books for the basics – writing, reading, math, and English. They do phonics practice from this great website, which is so easy to use, they can do it themselves. But I still help them so I can keep tabs on their progress.

Logan reads at what I’m guessing is a 1st or 2nd grade level. He can read most anything now and is in the advanced section of that website. We are still working through the Ladybird reader series. He is on level 5. Most of it is too easy for him but he wants to keep going with it so it’s okay by me.

Lila picked up on reading so fast it amazed me. When we started over a year ago, she really wasn’t interested so I left it. Now, after about 2 months of work, she is at level 2 of the Ladybird readers and the second level of the phonics site.

For math and English we are using some books from the Gold Stars series.

When it came to writing, Lila was at the beginning,  and Logan needed to go back to the beginning. He had learned some things wrong in kindergarten, or rather they never corrected his mistakes. So I’ve got them both doing a book of basic strokes and from there they will go to the alphabet. Lila is very good at it; she follows the dots and rarely messes up.

But Logan had difficulty with writing before, and even now, just tracing the basic strokes is hard for him. He is working through the book slower as I want him to get the strokes right. It is hard for him to control his pencil and keep it where it should be. If it is too messy, I make him erase it and do it again. He only does a few rows of writing a day, but even that is a challenge for him as opposed to Lila, who will often do a whole page if she feels like it, and it will be neat.

We’ve also enrolled the kids in art class 3 times a week as an extra curricular. So that covers their schooling for now. I don’t plan on homeschooling permanently. This is just until we settle in Canada.

To those of you who were expecting us this year – sorry. We have no idea when we will get the visas and make the move. If you want us there sooner, pray for things to clear up with the embassies.

Who is Really Stressing You Out?

Motherhood and stress – I find those words together a lot. Mothers all over the internet complain about how their children stress them out.

“My children are fighting and the noise is stressing me out.”

“Driving my children anywhere is so stressful.”

“I can’t shop with my children. Their antics stress me out.”

“Anytime I go anywhere with my child I end up stressed.”

We know that children are high-maintenance, and I’d be lying if I said I never feel stressed. But the question is, is it really the children who are stressing you out? Or are you allowing yourself to be stressed?

Yes, I said allowing. We have the power to decide whether or not to allow a situation to stress us out. We can either let the challenges of parenting get to us, or we can learn how to overcome them.

I know it is easier said than done, but for a mother to maintain her sanity, learning to avoid stress is so important.

Here are a few things I do to keep stress at bay.

1. Exercise

We all know that exercise is a stress-buster, but most of us don’t do it, for whatever reason. We allow our own health to sit on the back burner while we tend to those around us. It might seem noble to put yourself last, but it isn’t good for you.

Exercise is one of the best stress-relievers there is. If you can’t get away from your kids for it, do it with them. Dance in the living room, run at the park, go for a walk. Any exercise is better than none at all! So make time in your schedule for exercise.

2. Breathe

When your children’s antics are getting you riled, stop and breathe. Just take a minute to compose yourself by taking a deep breath, closing your eyes, and letting it out slowly. Go ahead. Try it now and see how good it makes you feel. Look out the window at nature, or step outside for a minute and breathe, and tell yourself you can handle whatever is bothering you. I promise you will feel the stress melt away.

3. Take time for yourself

Do something for yourself every day. Nap when your child does, read a book or your favorite blog, take a shower (and don’t feel bad if it takes an extra cartoon or two). Put on some makeup or brush your hair. Get dressed. Do something that will help you feel more like a woman and not just a “mom”.

I like to get up early for exercise, then take a shower and have my coffee before the kids get up. Thankfully my kids love to sleep late so early for me is up by 6. If your child is an early riser (or has to get up for school), see when else you can fit in time for you.

4. Keep a schedule

This will help you fit in numbers 1 and 3. Time for yourself is imperative so scheduling it will make it happen.

5. Be mature

Remember, they are just children. They are still selfish and self-absorbed. Everything is about them. Don’t take personally anything they say or do.

 

Now it’s your turn. What do you do to keep stress out of your life? Tell us about it in the comments.

Mommy Equals Love

They call me mommy, but I am more than that.

This word – mommy – embodies many roles. It refers to one person, and the many she becomes.

To be a mommy, you have to be everything else as well.

 

I cook 3 times a day, plus prepare snacks. I am a chef.

I wash mountains of laundry – mountains that refuse to stay away. I am a washerwoman, and a mountaineer.

I wash never-ending piles of dishes, dishes that magically appear out of nowhere. I am a dish-wash machine come to life.

I pick up messes, messes, and more messes. Where they come from nobody knows.  I am a maid.

I take my children wherever they need to go. I am a chaperon. (I don’t drive or I would be a chauffeur too.)

I bathe my children, wipe their butts, change diapers, brush hair, brush teeth. I am a personal attendant.

I teach my children what they need to know in life. I am a teacher.

I tend to ouchies, cuts, bonks and boo boo’s. I make them take vitamins and medicine. I am both doctor and nurse.

I make sure they eat healthy food. I am a nutritionist.

I buy their clothes, shoes, and toys. I am a personal shopper.

I sort out fights and arguments, and cool hot tempers. I am a diplomat.

I run the house. It is my job to make sure everyone else is where they should be, doing what they should do. I am a boss.

 

But a mommy is so much more than all of those, for she is the one the children cherish, the one they run to when they are sad, in pain, or need comfort. They come to her for advice, for hugs and cuddles, for encouragement. Even though their antics may drive her insane, at the end of the day, it is their sweetness that keeps her going.

For children, mommy equals love.

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