I don't want to be a sexy pirate

Halloween is my favorite holiday. It takes place in my favorite season, I love seeing all the children dressed up in costumes, the candy is plentiful and everyone is happy. My wonderful husband takes our son trick-or-treating and I dress up and hand out candy at the door. But here's the thing:

I don't want to be a sexy pirate.

Many people have written about this topic before, and it used to not bother me. But I'm a mom now, and my son asks questions.

There we were, looking at a wall of potential costumes, and my son pointed to the adult female ones. "Look, Mommy. You could be a pirate." I took a look at the woman in the tight leather bustier, barely-there skirt and thigh-high boots. Nope. Not happening.

I told my son I wanted to be Alice from Alice in Wonderland, because that is probably my favorite story of all time.

He pointed to the wall at a "Sexy Alice" costume. I told him I would get my costume elsewhere.

I get it. I do. Halloween can be a fun, liberating time for adults. But I never want to dress in a way that embarrasses my son later in life when he looks through family photo albums. (I have plans to embarrass him in other ways later on.)

But maybe my more demure Alice costume will actually get me more attention. The Wall Street Journal had an article a few months ago about dressing outside the norm to get the most attention. So the person in sweat pants shopping in the high-end store received more attention from shopkeepers, because they assumed the shabby person was more confident than someone who dressed up for the store.

If that holds true outside of shops, then my non-sexy Halloween costume will be noticeable around all the sexy police officers and nurses. In any case, I will be happy playing Alice for a day.

What was your favorite Halloween costume as a child? Share with me in the comments. 

Who are you talking to?

There are certain things all parents get used to: Lack of privacy, interrupted sleep, toys underfoot and (at least in our household) excessive talking.

I've become quite used to my son talking to himself. I will stand in the doorway to the family room and eavesdrop on entire conversations he is having with his toys. Or I will silently giggle as he hosts his own talent show in the bathroom mirror. And I definitely get a fluttery feeling when I hear him telling his stuffed monkey a bedtime story. I am used to hearing his voice carry throughout the house. He reminds me of those people having a loud phone conversation in public. Those people trip me up, because it still takes me a minute to spot the earbud and realize the person is not talking to me. It's the same with my son: He is talking, but not always to me.

But listening to my son all day has made me think about who I'm really talking to with this blog.

Turns out, it's lots of people:
  • My Mom. This may seem obvious given the title of this blog, but I know she reads my entries (just as I read hers). I love it when she texts me her thoughts on the subject of the day. 
  • My husband. He has a love/hate relationship with my blogs. He likes the content and that creating my blogs makes me happy, but he doesn't like the time I spend on them away from him.
  • Friends and coworkers. And oddly, not just mine, but my Mom's coworkers, too. (Hi!) I really enjoy seeing comments from friends, especially ones I haven't talked to in a while.
Mostly though, I'd like to believe that I am talking to other parents like me. The ones who are just trying to figure out this parenting thing as we go along. So when I link up on sites like Mom Blogger's Club or BlogHer, I feel more connected. (Let's face it: Nobody wants to go through parenting alone.)

Besides, it's good to know your audience, because talking to people is getting more complicated these days. 

Who would you want to talk to more often? Share with me in the comments.

What's your stress hour look like?

Most nights, when I get home from work, I immediately start cooking dinner. The first hour after I get home is a bit of a blur: There is food to prepare, people to greet and those morning chores to complete (if I didn't finish them earlier). If I can get dinner on the table by 6:45, then it is a really good day.

But the family dinner is important to me, so I am OK with taking on the responsibility most nights to make sure it happens.

That particular hour of the day - no matter what may have happened during my time at work - has become my most stressful hour. I find it more stressful than mornings and trying to get out the door on time.

And yet, I have it easier than a lot of mothers. I work a fairly regular schedule, so - barring traffic - I get home at around the same time each night. I also have a large repertoire of recipes that my family eats (although I like to find new ones when I can). Some mothers aren't so lucky.

My challenge now is to find ways to make my most stressful hour of the day a little better. Here is what I am trying:
  • I'm not the solo decision-maker on meals anymore. In addition to letting my son choose dinner one night a week, I am requesting that my husband also tell me at least one meal that he wants to eat during the week.
  • Prep work on the weekends. I try to spend some time on Sundays chopping things for the rest of the week.
  • Meal planning around my faster meals. I have an amazing recipe for chicken enchiladas, but it takes more than an hour to make. Clearly, that is for weekends only.
  • My crockpot: Dump. Heat. Eat.
  • Lists. No big surprise here, but in addition to my weekly lists, I've started making myself daily lists of any dinner prep I need to accomplish in my mornings (like starting the bread machine.)
  • Mise en place.
Will these things make me feel a little less rushed? Hopefully. It's worth a shot, right?

What's your most stressful hour of the day and what are your tips for getting through it? Tell me in the comments.

Do you like number one or number two?

I recently went for my annual eye exam. My vision is poor, even without all that blue light at night, so I try to be as good to my eyes as possible. I have a good rapport with my eye doctor; she is amazingly gentle with the battery of vision and pressure tests and she understands why I giggle during the main vision test (thanks, Brian Regan).

But let's talk about that vision test for a moment. I like it: It's simple: Do you like number one or number two? That's it. Two choices. And I take a lot of comfort from that.

You see, there is a breadth of research available on how having too many choices can make you miserable. The research on this is intriguing: We are always second-guessing ourselves, hoping that we didn't miss out on a better choice than the one we picked. There is so much anxiety around the decision-making between two good choices, that it can make people miserable.

And this is what I try to keep in mind when I give my son a choice. Asking a four-year-old to choose between two really excellent options causes anxiety, the same as it does in adults. Granted, I don't want to make decisions for him by giving him an "obvious" choice and a "awful" choice, but it is something to keep in mind. This is why I am less likely to give him more than two choices at a time (do you want to go home and build with Legos or do you want to look at Halloween costumes at the store?) I'm trying to allow him to make decisions in his life without overwhelming him.

And I think he is picking up on this, because I see the same behavior from him when he plays. When he wants my attention, he'll give me a choice: Do I want to watch the monster truck show or help him build a pirate ship? And I make the choice and we are both happy. (Even though I sometimes still wonder if the other choice was secretly better.)

How many decisions a day do you muddle over after making them? Share the pain with me in the comments.