Monday, November 30, 2015

Those Hectic Holidays: Goodbye Halloween!

I love Halloween. I’m glad it’s over. 

The anticipation of Halloween starts building around September when my kids start to notice the costumes hanging in the stores. They begin to contemplate the characters that they want to be for the big day. Harlo, who is four this year, always wants to be a princess. Last year she was the Candy Princess, whatever that is. The year before she was a fairy princess, this year she was a blue something-or-other princess. You get the picture. 

The boys go back and forth trying to decide on spiderman, the crypt master, zombie, vampire etc. We have so many costumes from years past that I try to piece together outfits, makeup and wigs without breaking the bank on new creepy ensembles every year. This year was no different, except that they were not content with what we had in the closet. As usual, I waited until the day before to go shopping for all of the extras, including candy. It is dangerous to have that much chocolate within reach. I used to tell my husband (and myself) that I bought candy early so that it was on hand and I was prepared. I ended this tradition when, after several years of having to buy candy twice, I decided to stop lying to myself. 

On the day before Halloween, the PTA scheduled a carnival (fundraiser) that we just HAD to go to. So the fun began… putting on the costumes and makeup and showing off the boys’ creepy, truly creepy outfits. 

The planning that goes into the actual Trick-or-Treating day becomes a chore, including coordinating with my parents, my aunt and this year, the nanny. We got ready by noon. Noon! This allowed us to start by heading to my aunt’s for lunch, which usually consists of troll fingers (bbq sausages), witch’s eyeballs (meatballs) and the like. She also has a stash of candy that goes almost completely to my kids. My aunt lives out of town and doesn’t get many, if any trick-or-treaters. The kids know this and love it. Starting at my aunt’s house has been a tradition for about 12 years. 

Next, we stopped at Grandma and Grandpa’s where my sister and grandmother were also waiting to see this year’s monsters and princess. This has also become a tradition. No big deal, right? Right. It’s fun. We started getting ready at 11 am and by now it is 4pm and everyone is already exhausted and we haven’t knocked on a door yet. Home bound? Nope. 

Next we head to the babysitter’s apartment. She invited us over to trick or treat so she could see the kids dressed up. Sweet. Just another hour out of the day to knock on one door for a 5- minute interlude. Now it is 5 pm. The kids ate lunch 4 ½ hours ago and are completely jacked up on sugar, since they have been sneaking candy every time I am not looking. 

After 5 hours of Halloweening, we are finally ready to get home and hit the neighborhood. For dinner? I made sure they got some protein by offering Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers instead of just Starbursts. And off we go. 

We live in the Upper Midwest where we are very lucky to have no snow on the ground for Halloween. This year, we were incredibly fortunate that the high temperature for the day was about 60! By the time we went out to knock on doors, the wind picked up and everyone was very tired. We went about 4 blocks before the kids wanted to go back. The most anticipated part of the evening and it was over in less than an hour! I tried to carry little Harlo between houses to keep the momentum going, but it was no use. It was over. Weeks of anticipation, planning, excitement, shopping, pre-Halloween parties, and this was it. We went back to the house where the kids fought over who was going to get to answer the door when someone rang the bell. 

I have come to the conclusion that my kids love Halloween, up until it is time to do the work of knocking on doors. That was my favorite part as a kid! Lucas, my eight-year-old, would rather hand out candy than anything else. I love this about him. It tells me he is a generous kid. We run out of candy every year because, as he confessed this year, he gives 4-5 pieces of candy to each person who comes to the door. For the last two years, he dug into his own reserves at the end of the night. So sweet! I will look forward to Halloween next year, just as I did this year. And then I will be glad it is over. I love the pictures and the memories, and yes, I do love the candy! Goodbye Halloween. Hello Thanksgiving. See you soon, Christmas!


Nikki Lamb

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Success, That ELUSIVE Parent Dream

What does it mean to be a successful parent?

I used to think that being a successful parent meant happy kids (all of the time), hot dinner on the table every night, laundry washed and put away, homework done on time, dishes done before I go to bed, and work and home was balanced perfectly.  I was delusional.  This doesn’t happen, at least not to me.  If you have this figured out, please email me and tell me how to do this.

I was driving myself crazy trying to be the perfect mother.  I got to the point where, if the stars did not align, I began to feel as though I was failing.  Failing as a mother; the single most important thing that I am supposed to and want to do well. I have eight little people that are counting on me to get it right.

I was speaking to a group of entrepreneurs about my experiences and challenges of starting a business, and I said something that I just realized at that very moment: Success is defined in different ways, depending on your perspective.  I started looking for the small successes at home the same way I did at work.

Just last week, my son, Lucas, said to me, “Hey mom, I’m really glad that when I was born, we weren’t too rich and weren’t too poor. We were just right.”  The successful part of this story is that when Lucas was born, we lived in a house that I felt was not “just right” for my family.  I felt like every day there was a mountain to climb. My children, however, felt like things were “just right”.  Wow. Perspective AND success.  I simply couldn’t see it then.

It took me a little while to figure out where to look for moments to pat myself on the back. Here are some examples:

There is still milk in the fridge for breakfast this morning; success. 

I packed school lunches before I went to bed last night and saved myself 10 minutes this morning AND  everyone is happy with what they were given; success. 

Nobody cried at bedtime; success. 

I put on a cheery face even though I was crabby as hell; success.

I kept my cool when four kids were screaming and crying; success.

Holy crap, I suddenly found myself doing a lot of things right!  All I had to do was look! Now when I am having a bad day and I don’t keep my cool or there is no milk in the fridge, I know it’s okay.  I know I can reset and there is another small success right around the corner if I just look for it.  I changed my perspective and it changed the way I valued myself as a mom, a good and successful mom.


Nikki Lamb

Sunday, October 4, 2015

SERIOUSLY, DO I Have Alzheimer's Disease OR Am I Just Busy?!

Do I have Alzheimer’s disease or am I just busy?

I filled out documents the other day which required my social security number.  I have had my social security number memorized since I was 15. I entered the incorrect numbers.

I had to enter my pin number at the store to use my debit card.  I forgot the number. The same pin that I have used for 20 years!

I got lost on the interstate a mile from my own house.

What the???

I shared my concerns with my family that I was worried about my slipping memory.  More than worried, I am scared. My grandmother had dementia and it was awful.  In its later stages, it was insidious and relentless with fleeting moments of recognition and awareness.  I do not want this for my family.  I am too young.  I was so mortified that I had inherited my grandmother’s genes and perhaps experiencing early onset.   Then I realized I have 8 kids and work 6+ days a week and there is no way one person can do what I do and keep it all straight all of the time.  So what; I forgot my social security number.  I got MOST of the numbers right.  Just yesterday I had to give my credit card, delta sky miles and IHG membership numbers to the customer service representatives when I was traveling.  Guess what?  I knew them all.  I am fine.   Maybe I DID inherit my grandmother’s genes, but there is no way that is a bad thing.  She was one of the best people I have ever known.

The other good news is that now that I have researched, I know one of the things that contribute to bad memory includes bad diet!  I can change my lifestyle to reduce the risk of poor physical and mental health.  It’s a start. 

Check out the following website for foods that induce memory lose:

Now, the best part of coming to the realization that my brain is full is I realized I cannot do everything I am doing by myself. Not at work and not at home.  I need help. Yes. I need help!  A lot of it!  I can’t keep up with laundry, dishes, vacuuming and all of the other stuff.  I am not saying I will get the help all the time, but will be more likely to ask.    In the future, I will not freak out when I can’t remember where I put my keys or why I walked into the kitchen. I will remember that I have a lot of things on my mind which makes me a normal mom and business person.


Nikki Lamb

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mom's Worry. It's Our Job!

Don’t Worry…Okay, worry a little.

I worry.  A lot.  I can’t help it.  If the older kids are going to get into the car and drive somewhere, I worry.  If we are walking through a parking lot and the little kids aren’t holding my hand, I worry.  The other cars can’t see them and, for the love of God…anything could happen!!!

For many years I panicked outwardly and voiced my concerns anytime I had them.  This caused the people around me to do a few things:

1.  Think I am crazy.
2.  Get so irritated with me that they stopped telling me things
3.  Pick Dad to do the important things like, practice driving, which made me feel, well, just fine!

I came to a realization the other day that I am who I am and that is not going to change.  I will worry because I love you and I am not sorry for that.  I have also realized that I don’t have to involve EVERYONE in my worriedness.  I have learned to mute my worry.  For instance, when I am driving with my daughter and she gets too close to the parked car; I no longer gasp and grab the handle and move my legs as far over to the center of the car as if I am going to avoid being killed by moving over.  I simply say “Peyton” in a calm and irritating voice, as the passenger mirror misses the parked car by an inch.  This simple modification allows me to accomplish a number of things:

1.  I get to release some energy created in my moment of panic.
2.  It allows my girl to check her surroundings (she knows I have modified my panic reactions but am actually still panicking).
3.  I get to feel like I have saved the day and most likely I was the reason we didn’t all just get into an accident.  I still get to be me!

Our oldest son just got back from Mexico from a 10+ month student exchange program.  He was fine.  He was more than fine.  He learned, he laughed, he traveled and was immersed in a new language and culture that he would not have experienced at home.  He survived, and so did I.  I did not think at first that we would. But how would we know unless we tried?

I will never stop worrying. Never.  But I will try to let days pass and have fun and let THEM have fun and remember that I cannot protect my family every minute of every day.  As much as I would like to be there all the time, I have to let go.  Ugh…I can’t believe I just said that.  I have to let go….a little.

Have a wonderful 4th of July!


Nikki Lamb

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Entrepreneurial Mom from the Heartland; an Introduction

My name is Nikki and I am the mother of eight children.  If you ask my husband how many of them were planned, he would say one.  The joke here is, our one planned baby is a twin (we were only expecting one). We had talked about having our kids, but didn’t plan for them in a traditional sense.  Our eighth child came 13 months after our seventh child and I truly wondered if I would be able to keep up.  Well, I don’t keep up.  I am not always the best, most patient, mild tempered, smiling mother; but I continue to be a good mother.  My kids like me and love me everyday and I continue to be completely enamored with each and everyone of them.  How can it be that my love has never been divided between all of these precious children?  How can it continue to grow?  I don’t have the answer to that question; I just know it is true.  It amazes me everyday. 





I was always one of those women who “just knew” I was supposed to be a mother.  I never thought I would be running, or attempting to run a household with this many children, but it works.  In a non-organized, usually loud, always cooking and cleaning and laundry-washing way, it works.

I have also helped to start and grow three businesses.  I knew from a young age that I didn’t want to answer to a stereotypical boss.  I wanted to work toward something that wouldn’t end at retirement.  In my 20’s and early 30’s I had jobs that required certain attire, punch in by 8 am “or else” mentality.  I know that this is how people live, it just was not for me.  I was not good at it and it did not make me happy.

I look forward to bringing you a weekly blog focusing on all things in the world of mom, but through the lens of someone that wears many hats and plays various roles to make a home and livelihood work on a daily basis. Thank you for this opportunity. 


Nikki Lamb.