Yes, my house is clean.

Last night I was doing my usual, laying in bed with Maci and scrolling through multiple social media sites before I watch Call the Midwife on Netflix and go to bed at 9:00 p.m. when I came across this gem: No, You’re Not More Of A “Real” Mom Because Your House Is Messy. It sparked my interest almost instantly, because there is always a blog post, a meme, or someone talking about how I (we as parents) should spend my time with my kid and not worrying about cleaning house. Bla bla bla, bla. I get it, the constant reminders of how I should leave my house a wreck and play with my kid. Cool, yes, enough, thanks for the constant reminders.

And then I read the article, specifically this “…Some people’s houses really are as clean and tidy as they look on Instagram and some people really are that crafty…” 

Well, well, well. Isn’t that the truth. The paragraph goes on to say that some people enjoy getting dressed up (news to me!), and some actually make Pinterest meals from scratch, so on and so forth.

So, here is the deal. YES WORLD, one of my strengths is keeping my house clean. It gives me sanity, and it isn’t a crime to have a clean house. Trust me, I have my weaknesses, and I don’t feel like getting in to that right now. For real.

After I posted the article, Kristin, a friend of mine posted her own blog, How do you do it all? Perfect timing really, because I have heard a lot of comments lately about “how I have it so together” – what?! And apparently I am not the only one who responds with the answer that simply, “I don’t” – I don’t do some things (remember here, where I told the world I don’t clean my shower?)

It is so easy to get caught up in the comparing game, I do it myself. Typical thoughts are wow!!!!! my friend Andrea does so many cool crafts and she takes Alex outside like all the time. I shit you not, last night she sent me the pic below with a text saying “Also, I sent you this before I saw your FB post about real moms ;)”

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My college roommate Tara looks seriously good when she is in photos, like perfect hair and skin and Rylan always has on trendy outfits that I could never put together.

Ashley’s girls have matching outfits while she runs a successful small business and she spends a ton of time with her family. Trifecta, huh?

Cori’s photos are always of her playing with her kids, I don’t think I have every played that much in my whole life.

A friend from high-school Kiersten is always posting the yummiest and HEALTHY looking meals!

So yeah. Everyone has their strengths and their weaknesses. My plan is to continue to surround myself with people who have different strengths, and not compare or be jealous of them, but learn to appreciate what we all bring to the table.

Check out those clean floors.

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Good-bye, debt!

Today, I paid off my student loan. That was the last of it, the debt that is (minus the mortgage).

About three? four? years ago we set out with a plan, somewhat Dave Ramsey style, to pay off debt. One of my wonderful “internet friends” got me started with a simple budget excel spreadsheet (THANK YOU LEEANNE!). Thinking back, I am having trouble even remembering what we started with, but, probably: two student loans, car payments, Nebraska Furniture Mart credit card, regular credit card, orthodontist, I honestly don’t remember what else. Nothing too extreme, and honestly probably less debt than what most people I know have. But still, payments, so many payments.

So we lived a cash-only lifestyle. If I bought something online, I had to take cash to the bank to balance out what I had spent. It worked. No joke. We skipped parties and dinners out, driving extra places and purchasing extra stuff. Seriously, it was tough, but now I am sitting here like HOLY CRAP, my student loan which had another 10 years left to pay is GONE! I am in shock. Total shock. Have you ever actually seen how much you spend? Take away your debit card and your eyes will be shocked when you use only cash. $100 is like nothing at the grocery store. For real.

I guess this post is just to say….it can be done. It truly can. I never thought it could. I am just like, whoa. No words. Our next cars or furniture will be purchased with cash. Money will be saved and deposited for retirement and Maci’s future. Wow. What a great way to start off the new year.

Cheers to 2015!

I’m a good working mom.

I would be a shitty stay at home mom.

Seriously. We do cool crap and whatnot on the weekends, but I would suck during the week. I would be watching real housewives marathons on Bravo in my pjs and eating every snack in the pantry while Maci watched cartoons and had mac n cheese for lunch everyday. Or, we would be poor, because I would take her to movies, museums, and wherever else people take their kids, because I would be stir crazy and bored. I suck at crafts, am a total Pinterest failure, and just generally am not creative. I don’t make colored rice, bento box lunches, or homemade play-doh.

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I will though, be the first to say, I sat and cried every single day for the weeks leading back to end maternity leave, and continued to cry when I started back. I was mad, irate, and even irrational that we couldn’t afford for me to quit my job. Many of you will say we could have afforded it, cut back, gotten rid of cable, etc…etc…and you can say I am selfish for not wanting to give up the lifestyle we were living. And I am not embarrassed by that, it is true. Everyone makes their own choices for their family. I enjoy eating out, going on trips, and not having to worry when Christmas or birthdays roll around. To each his own, and this works for us.

So after my crying nonsense, I took my Red Cross job, and realized I loved it. I loved working in communications, doing something I actually enjoyed. It was something I could get behind, and I didn’t dread going to work anymore, what a WIN! I don’t know when it hit me, but I finally realized that I am a good working mom, and I would be terrible at staying home. I think that realizing that changed everything, or at least makes me feel a bit better about my choices.

I feel better just saying that, but it also doesn’t mean that I don’t get jealous sometimes. Like when my child is sick. It sucks. Especially right after starting a new job and not having time off. Of course, Maci was sick the entire first week when I started at KU, and I felt AWFUL that I couldn’t be there. Or breastfeeding, I am 99% sure if I didn’t have to go back to work I would have been able to continue longer than I was able to. I pumped like a cow, took supplements, drank water, ate oatmeal and smelled like a damn pancake for months before I realized I just couldn’t do it anymore, and I still consider that a huge fail. I blame work. Truly. I won’t turn this into a why workplaces should be more friendly toward mothers, but they should be. Or how about when courses, classes, and playgroups are all held during the day. It makes me mad. So instead, we squeeze into Saturday morning classes, or night classes (which are tiring for everyone), and I don’t like it one little bit. Or, ugh, the fact that her teachers and daycare see her for more hours a week than I do? Ouch. (They are all totally amazing though, another realization).

Sometimes, especially when Maci was a baby, I really had to distance myself from the SAHMs (stay-at-home-moms) because I just didn’t want to see it. It was my way of coping. Now that I have been able to wrap my head around the fact that I enjoy working and I don’t get as jealous (minus what I said above), it doesn’t bother me as much. Sometimes it still does, and that is okay.

Grass is always greener, I know.

I am a good working mom.

How is your new job?

Seriously. I hear those five words, or similar…literally, nonstop. It is DRIVING ME INSANE. Maybe if I post about it, everyone will stop asking me. I doubt it though.

So, here is the deal people, and then enough with the daily badgering.

I can finally say after 6ish or so weeks, I am settling in and starting to understand what is going on around me. A few things to note:

1. My “officle” (that is like a cube with taller walls and no door) as I like to call it has been one of my biggest challenges. You might say I have been spoiled by having my own office for the first almost 10 years of my career, I would say differently, and we can agree to disagree. The people who work so very closely to me have heard me say this as well, but I listen to every single conversation. I just can’t help it. I am not used to having to tune people out, so I just don’t. On a good note, at least I can hear if they are talking about me, right? 😉 For real though, I am lucky I have a nice sized space, it even has some windows! A few others are definitely not so lucky. Big adjustment, but making progress.

2. Taking over from someone else. In my last two positions, it was just me, starting from scratch, Meghan’s way or the highway. This role was moving in to a position that was not new, therefore, the organization style, office style, and general daily functions have made my life exponentially more confusing than I ever expected. We all have our own way of filing, paper/computer, and organization that is different, not bad, just different. My way (the right way) includes ZERO clutter, minimal paper files, and an organized computer system. Let’s just say I am working on pieces of that every. single. day. I am taking volunteers to help me make trips to the recycle bin. My OCD had a rough first couple weeks. My brain is still wrapping itself around 6 computer files named the same thing. Always up for a challenge! This has been a big one.

3. I have a student who saved my life. Beth. Seriously. I had no clue when I was hired that I would have a student worker that I managed. She is the very, very best. She is smart, incredibly talented, speedy, and can do projects with little or no direction from me. All those awesome graphics you see? That is her, not me, duh. If you think I do those, you don’t know me very well. Graphic Design was not my major in college. I draw stick figures. I love her. She probably thinks I am a real creep, but I don’t care, she is amazing.

4. Everyone here is really smart. I will leave it at that.

5. Most people use Apple products, and I like that. My computer doesn’t take 25 minutes to turn off and on! PARTY! OH! And I get to use the entire Adobe Suite! Cool, huh? The learning curve has been a bit rough to move from PC to Apple and also from not being allowed to have any products to really having a variety of options that meet my needs. No, friends, you may not send me your files to edit now that I have the capability.

6. I get the impression universities and students love food. I find myself wondering if I loved food this much when I was in college? Probably. We have a lot of cakes, snacks, candy, and lunches. I eat a lot. I think I have gained like 10 pounds. I need to step away from the cake. I may have eaten two slices at the last going away party. In my defense, the cake table was outside my officle.

7. When I was in college I got a speeding ticket for going 35mph around the Chi-O fountain. FYI, not possible, I have tried it multiple times, and it is physically impossible to do. So I would like my money back from that ticket. Related to driving, parking here is weird, you have to pay for a parking pass! Lucky for me, my building is right across from a garage, so I splurged big bucks for a fancy parking pass. Oh, and I am SO SCARED I might hit a student. Those kids pop out of nowhere! Scary. I heard in college if you get hit by a bus they pay your tuition. I wonder what happens if you get hit by a bus as an employee? Just wondering.

ETA: I was also driving back from Steak and Shake and getting pulled over made my cheese fries cold, so I would like those replaced as well. (I guess I did love food then!)

8. Back to the job, I like the people I work with, I have a nice boss, and I think I know what I am doing. At least a little bit. What do I do, actually? Anything and everything communications-related: press releases, media, social media, website, programs, advertising, marketing, newsletters, photos and videos, you know, a little bit of everything. I am sure I am missing some things, but it is a nice variety of projects. We definitely have some cool things and fun projects coming up. Stay tuned for more information 🙂

Does this help satisfy everyone’s new job curiosity?

That is all for now, I am off to make another trip to the recycling bin.

Meadowlark Music Together: The end, for now!

**This is a sponsored series of posts written by me on behalf of Meadowlark Music Together. All opinions are my own. You can see part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 3 here.**

Well, our final music class of the semester is over, it is hard to believe how fast time has flown by! Let me sum it all up for you 🙂

Karen and Maci even posed for a quick photo at our last class <3!!!

maci and karen

1. I would definitely take classes from Karen again – I think our entire family learned something, not only new songs, but how toddlers/preschoolers/etc…develop in their musical abilities. We each took something different out of class.

2. Just to say this now, I think I would switch times in future classes. When we signed up for class, Maci was attending her in-home daycare, and then when we started music class she had just switched to her preschool. When she moved, her bedtime became drastically earlier, and class from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. was a little difficult for her. She was just tired! I think she would do better at a Saturday morning class – so after we finish Saturday morning gymnastics, I hope to enroll in Meadowlark Music Together again!

3. From my perspective, I enjoyed an activity that made me put away my phone and really only concentrate on Maci for an hour. I know that I need to do that more often, and music class provided the perfect opportunity. I will admit, I am addicted to my phone.

4. We loved the scarves, the instruments, the bells, free dance, the “rhythm sticks” (see grandpa!!), and the “jelllyfish” looking stretchy material we used for certain songs! Maci talks about the scarves more than any other part of class! She loved singing and playing with them. The interactive pieces of class really made her get involved.

5. I loved that we could bring grandma (s) and other family to class. We were able to take my mom last night since she was in town and Maci really enjoyed having her grandma (s) there when we were able to make it work! Thank you Grandma Cindy and Grandma Donna for participating! And somewhat related, one of the moms told me that when daddy brought her the previous week (I was at a meeting) he was really involved too – nice job Kevin!

6. Karen not only sings, she educates. She explains why we do different things and how that helps our child learn! Very helpful for parents.

7. Maci sings all the time. Seriously. One of my favorite things to do is listen to her while she plays. She sings each word and sentence when she plays pretend with her ponies, animals, dolls, so on and so forth. She did not do that before we started class.

Overall, if you want a well-rounded class full of education and fun, take one from Karen. It gives you the chance to interact with your child and learn some fun new songs and remember songs you may have grown up with, dances, rhythms, and tips that you can continue to use throughout their life!

Goodbye to Karen! We hope to make music together again next time!

At the end of class, Karen shares her guitar too 🙂

karen guitar

You can learn more about our Meadowlark Music Together class on the website or on Facebook.

Meadowlark Music Together: I can see the progress!

**This is a sponsored series of posts written by me on behalf of Meadowlark Music Together. All opinions are my own. You can see part 1 here and part 2 here.**

At one of our recent classes we were given a pamphlet with information about our children’s musical journey. It talks about discovering, developing, and maturing as you continue Music Together classes with your child.

I took a few minutes to look it over, and it says that children who start class at age 3/4 often observe in class. So very true. Many times I can see Maci just taking it all in – not exactly participating. I know it drove her dad crazy when he attended class and I think maybe even her grandma was wondering why she wasn’t participating 100%. But!!!! I tried to encourage them to do as our teacher Karen says, let her observe, and take it in. Quietly redirect if necessary, but even when she isn’t singing every word, she is learning.

And as class has progressed, you can definitely tell she has been learning! She has started singing and acting in class when she feels comfortable with what she is doing (well, from what I can tell anyway). At home – we listen to the CD she was given in class, and she loves to listen and seems to light up when she recognizes a song, relates it to something she has learned in preschool, or just sings and dances around.

I think the most interesting, and quite cute thing I noticed was after Karen asked us to share things we have noticed our child doing related to music. That night, I didn’t think I  had anything to share, but the following week I really realized I actually did.

When Maci thinks she is alone, playing, or in the bathtub (while I step around the corner, don’t worry I don’t leave her alone!) I hear her singing, humming, and dancing around sometimes with the words from class or sometimes with her own lyrics. She sings as she plays pretend with her toys, and in the car too!

It has obviously had a huge impact thus far, as last week she told me “I want to be a singer when I grow up, because I like to sing.”

Very cool. Music is definitely a journey, and we are still just beginning!

You can learn more about our Meadowlark Music Together class on the website or on Facebook! Time to register for the next semester!

Big changes!

Let me first tell you the big, exciting news that I can’t hold in any longer! I am so proud to share that I have accepted the Communications Coordinator position with The University of Kansas School of Music. I am very excited, nervous, and a bit anxious about starting my new journey. I truly couldn’t be happier to work for my alma mater and in Lawrence, my very favorite place in Kansas. This will be the perfect fit for me at exactly the right time.

Job searching was not exactly in my plan and this was truly a decision I did not want and was not planning to have to make right now.  If you know me, you know that I do not really care for uneasy, unsure feelings and situations – it doesn’t bring out the best in me (ha, ha). It was a tough decision, but is the very best choice for me right now. This is also good reminder to everyone that only YOU can best look out for yourself. I will leave it at that. We can and will talk about the many amazing things I learned and the fabulous friends I met at the Red Cross another day – it will take up it’s own blog post, because the almost three years I spent at the Red Cross were truly some of my very favorite years.

I have heard the term “the new normal” a lot lately, and while change is always an interesting time for anyone – good and bad – I am excited about my “new normal” which includes being a KU employee a Red Cross volunteer. After researching my new position, I did what everyone does and googled everything I could think of about policy, vacation, insurance, the new people I will be working with (haha) etc… What came up, you might ask? Some amazing benefits, including this gem. If you don’t want to read it…the first sentence is “Leave with pay may be granted by the Director of the Human Resources Department to faculty and staff who are certified disaster service volunteers for the American Red Cross.”

YAY! I mean seriously? How freaking cool is that? I think it has been quite clear that my favorite part of working for the Red Cross was deploying to help others, and I will continue to do so, as a volunteer. What an exciting thing to say.

So, there you have it. Big huge changes happening the in Spreer household in the next couple weeks. Rock Chalk!

Meadowlark Music Together: Music in Everyday Life

**This is a sponsored series of posts written by me on behalf of Meadowlark Music Together. All opinions are my own. You can see part 1 here.**

Typical music in the (Maci) Spreer household is a repeat of “Let it Go” at the highest possible decibel, on repeat, in true Queen Elsa fashion. (Don’t worry, she makes sure to wear a Frozen shirt to class, just in case someone forgets her love for Elsa…)

maci music 1

But over the past month, we have been able to branch out a bit, and listen to some new songs from the CD we were given at music class. Lucky break for anyone in our household! We sing the “firefly” song A LOT!

Attending music class has really become something we look forward to on Tuesday nights, but also something we think/talk/listen about in our everyday. Maci is ALWAYS asking what night music class is, which is great. I love that she loves it! She also asks to turn on her CD, or even listen to her children’s Pandora radio station! There are a few things I really appreciate about the class:

1. The group and atmosphere. It is a great group of people – parents, kids, and a nice age range. It just has a nice, welcome, warm feel to it when you enter and begin to sing the hello song. Sometimes, when I have attended classes in the past, I feel like an outcast as a working mom. I do not feel like this here.

2. The teacher! Karen is great. She makes everyone (at least in my opinion) feel at ease, and I am the WORST singer in the class, trust me. She also knows and adapts to the kids. She can tell when they need to dance, have free play time, and move around versus when they sit, listen, and sing. It works really, really well. Plus, there are some fun instruments, scarves, and other “props” that we use for certain songs as well!

3. The songs. We sing and play such a WIDE range of song and dance. Some we all know, like “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” and some we don’t even know the names of yet but we like to call “The Koala, Wombat, Crocodile, Down Under Song.” It is nice to include some of both. It is not only a learning experience for Maci, but for mom and dad too.

I was planning to post some really cute photos from class, but I did my best – this is a fast-moving group, almost every shot I took was blurry! It goes to show what a blast we have been having! So far, thumbs up!

maci music group 2

You can learn more about our class on the website or on Facebook! I believe there were a few spots left for a free demo class this Sunday, if you are interested.

Irrational Fears

In general, I am pretty bad ass. I don’t get scared of much. And this post is meant to be funny, not serious. I obviously have very normal fears in life, the big scary ones I don’t want to think about or I will cry.

I have a few irrational fears, and I would love to hear if anyone is as crazy as I am 🙂 Probably not…but worth a try.

1. I am petrified someone is going to push me, or I am going to fall and crack my teeth on the faucet while I am brushing my teeth. When I brush my teeth, I am on high alert, any unexpected noise is someone, maybe a ghost or alien coming to break my front teeth off. I say ghost or alien, because I am still scared even if no one is home.

2.Lil’ Red. There is nothing I can think of that is more creepy. I don’t like when he folds into himself and pops open. Just yuck. So incredibly odd. I know my college friends will agree. I almost posted a photo, but I didn’t want to Google that creeper. Google at your own risk.

3. Someone sliding something into my purse while I am not looking and then accidentally stealing it. I don’t honestly know how this could happen, but I am paranoid that the alarm is going to go off when I leave a store and that someone smuggled something while I wasn’t looking. I watch my bags closely, especially at airports, I take those warnings SERIOUSLY! Airports are a topic for another day, I could write all day about airports and flying.

I hope you all have a great Monday, but PLEASE be careful when you brush your teeth, that is no joke.

Pets.

So immediately I know this is going to piss people off. I don’t really care. My cats used to be my precious babies, and then I had a kid. Things change. Enjoy your pet before you have a kid, that is my two cents.

My brother loves his cat. He also only has a niece.

nucky

My cats drive my insane. Absolutely insane. Especially Sunday night, when they decided to let themselves outside. I am not even joking. Olive, my beloved, precious kitty is one smart cookie. She knows to use her claws to open the screen door on the back porch and trot out for a little stroll. I almost had it on video earlier in the week, but Maci jumped on top of her and told her to stop it. Thanks, Maci.

So, anyway, Sunday night I am doing all the typical Sunday night things, running around preparing for the long week of work ahead, bathing Maci, so on and so forth. Maci is in the bath and I step into the kitchen and realize the screen door is wide open. My own fault, right pet-lovers? I should have known better to allow fresh air into my house. God forbid I let any fresh air in. Lesson learned. Never again.

I run back to check on Maci and start to drain the water, then back to the porch where I can see Olive, puff-ball, hissing, at the very back corner of our yard. I start screaming like a crazy maniac for her to get in the house. Commence Maci screaming too. I try to grab the cat, and she swipes at ME, like is my fault (which is it, right?). Finally i am able to put on some oven mitts and grab her.

Picture that, me, in my sleeping shorts (picture something with holes and really gross), bra-less in an over-sized t-shirt (did I even have shorts on?), with oven mitts on running around the backyard screaming. Maci behind me naked, soaking wet, screaming at the cats…she is their boss, FYI.

So, I get Olive inside where she decides to puke grass all over the coffee table. Really?

In my madness, I shut the screen door without closing the glass, so as I clean up the puke, dry Maci off, and get back on track, round 2 begins. This time, both cats out for a stroll, Olive, hadn’t made it past the steps, but Carson, the “satan” of cats (I bet someone reading this will realize she coined that name) is just chilling in the front yard, mad at the world.

The cats make me crazy. But don’t worry pet lovers, I plan to keep them, I won’t abandon them, Maci freaking loves them.

Can’t you tell how much Olive loves Maci?

olive and mae

And her love for Carson is easy to see.

mae and carson

I feel better just admitting that.

Happy Friday.