The horror … shopping and stylin’

I’ve never been a huge fan of shopping. My mom can back me up on that. Hate it. Always have. Luckily I’ve been super blessed by a mom and friends with good taste and have survived primarily on hand-me-overs from them. (And still happily accept them!) But I’ve become a little more particular as I figure out what my own style is. I know, in my 30s. By which I mean late 30s. Okay, at age 36.

Having two little kids has not enhanced my love for shopping even a little bit. They do that whole crawling under the changing room door just when I’ve wrangled myself into something that won’t fit unless or until I go back to see that hardcore spinning teacher dude. (I know!)

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All that is to say, I go rarely and I go armed. With snacks, an activity and apologies in advance. I found this awesome little store in Newberg, Velour, fashion recycled. And planned my trip carefully. I knew I only had a small window before the kids were out of crackers and then I saw it in the window. The perfect outfit assembled by someone who knows what they are doing. Which is so much better than my awkward hacking together of what might look good. (Besides my go-to T-shirt and jeans look, that’s always hot.)

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So I bought the whole thing, except the shoes which did happen to be in my size as well. I also had time to pick out a new tee. I was outta there in record time and excited to wear it out the next night.

Here’s how that went:

Anyone who’s seen me in the last 36 years knows I’m a pretty conservative dresser. So, when I wear an outfit that’s kind of boob-a-licious you’d think Matt would notice.

He did not.

We had a fun night out with friends anyway. Except the two hours I endured watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show which I hated. (The cast did an awesome job and I did like seeing my friend April on stage. But as for the cult classic itself … To whom is may concern: I want those two hours of my life back!)

Luckily the show was sandwiched between a mediocre dinner with fabulous friends and margaritas with the same rad people, though I’m not sure any amount of tequila could erase the memory of what I’d just endured.

But this post is not about that; it’s about what an adorable nerd my husband is. So the next day, boob-a-licious dress forgotten I’m wearing my new $5 T-shirt featuring the cover of The Great Gatsby and Matt goes: “I like your shirt, babe. Is that new?”

Proving that reading is sexy.


{Project Life–week two}

 The Mom Creative  
Two weeks down, 50 to go! Here’s my layout for my second week of Project Life. That sounds more casual than I feel. I feel excited to have found a way to keep up on the awesomeness that is Project Life. *
 
 
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I love this picture I got of Matt shaving as Sam stared, mesmerized. I recorded part of the conversation on my journaling card.
 
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This picture of the boys just before lights out on Kubko’s birthday is one of my favorites.
 
I hope Sam doesn’t realized I snuck some of his Cars stickers to use for one the cards.

I haven’t figured out how I’m going to add the week numbers to the title cards. Maybe it doesn’t matter. I figure if I find the right thing for me, I can go back and add them.

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Just a reminder (Mami) that you can double click on the pictures to see them larger.

Note to Self: Make insert for Kuby’s birthday by printing pictures from Facebook timeline and use the numbers stickers. Ten pictures with list of ten lines about the day – use captions from Facebook. Maybe enlarge one or two favorites with a few facts about  him at this age to put in the baby book I might make someday.

Edited to add: Some of you have asked if I could include the journaling – I love to see that in other pages so I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it. Maybe because I handwrite most of them and don’t want to retype everything? Hopefully these close ups will work:

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*I can post about what’s working to help me keep up … if enough of you are interested.


Meditating through the Mayhem

Peace is that moment when you give in to fully embracing your life exactly as it is instead of lamenting the one you thought you would, or should, have.

I am still pinching myself to see if it really happened that someone I admire as much as Becky Higgins liked something I wrote enough to share with her readers who, in turn, have been so kind with their comments and emails! Thank you.

There’s a story of divine inspiration, and timing, behind this that I’ll share soon but for now I’m just super grateful.

I have two sick kiddos so we’re a little off around here but I’ll be back to posting shortly. In the meantime, here’s a link to my most recent column.  I’m not exactly sure why but it’s one of my favorites. Hope you like it, too.

Meditating through the Mayhem


Birthday Basics

Google alerted me that my November column ran yesterday. It’s rare that I miss it. By rare I mean that it’s never happened before. Yet another reason to love my Google Machine.

That reminder reminded me that I still haven’t posted my link to last month’s column on going back to birthday basics, so here it is complete with the pictures I promised my mom I’d post. Of course, I have to add my “after” commentary as well.

The column:

http://www.newsregister.com/article?articleTitle=getting+back+to+birthday+basics--1318449035--1791—hardy

The prep:

Because I took a totally different, low-key approach to Sam’s birthday party this year (read the above article), I actually enjoyed every aspect of planning for his party. And somehow managed to pull off a darn good party without all the stress of last year. I spent approximately $60 on the whole thing. Due to our  restricted budget at the moment the party was kind of his gift, and since he requested that we gave little gifts to his friends, that counted as part of his present and he was quite happy with that.

Another thing that helped was starting the planning process well in advance. It made it possible to get what I wanted without paying extra for any of it. I broke it down into doable tasks and had fun all the while. This is not something I’ve been able to do in the past when I was stuck in my procrastination by perfection cycle.

First up was picking a theme that would be fun and flexible and totally Sam. We discussed some ideas, train-theme, book-theme and finally settled on camping. It was perfect!

I hit up the Google Machine and found this insanity:

http://www.hostessblog.com/2011/03/a-camping-inspired-birthday-party-adventure/

That kind of inspired my column about going back to the basics.

Sam and I had fun making these toilet-tube decorations inspired by my beloved Pinterest:

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I made the cupcakes to look like mini-campfires with chocolate rocks, Reece’s Pieces and pretzel sticks from Winco’s bulk bins and dye-free gummy bears from Trader Joe’s. Lest it look like I’m bragging, the frosting I made was totally disgusting.

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I used Matt’s old Play Mobile toys to decorate the tray. Note: It was a terrible idea to use real rocks in addition to the chocolate rocks.

Another fun Pinterest-inspired idea was having the kids go “fishing” for snacks. They dipped pretzel, carrot and celery sticks into blue-tinted cream cheese to go“fishing” for goldfish.

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Cute + Cheap + Fun + Easy = Perfect! 

For the invitations I ordered camping theme stickers from Oriental Trading company and printed the necessary information in a triangle shape.

For the favors I ordered compasses, mini-flashlights and some bandanas which I used to tie the compasses, flashlights and granola jars into hobo sacks. Note: this was an unnecessary expense and I won’t do it again. The flashlights were cheap and the granola would’ve been plenty. Also, sticks don’t jive with the 3-and-4-year-old crowd.

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Note: I wrapped these in wax paper bags and made labels on my computer in colors that matched our theme. I have them saved if anyone wants them. They just say: “Happy Camper (Name).”

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For entertainment we played London Bridges, Hot Potato and Freeze Dance. And, of course, the main attraction: a tent pitched in the playroom.

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I’d love to post more photos of the kiddos but I don’t have permission from everyone’s parents and I think it’s super important to honor the privacy of other families, especially in our digital age.

Of course, none of this was the highlight of the day. For Sam it was all about the birthday stars. A story for another day!


Remember Project 365?

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Remember how enthusiastic I was about Project 365 (or Project Life as many call it)? I still am. Even though I am approximately 93 days behind. Instead of waiting to catch up on those 93 days I’m just jumping back in where I’m at, so here is Monday’s picture of the day and journaling – just a little taste of life around here. The kind of thing that would be easy to forget one day.

I was driving the boys home from one of our favorite parks, the Airplane Park (thank you Emily) and saw a little pond with a bunch of ducks on the edge of it. I was flooded with memories from my childhood I’d long forgotten: feeding ducks at Wright’s Park. Which made me remember my mom and dad’s restaurant Le Snack … which brought back all kinds of memories. Stuff I want to write down before I re-forget. But I suppose there’s something kind of cool about having these flashbacks of memories.


Mothers Against the Madness

Here is my most recent column in the News-Register in response to the question what do stay-at-home moms have to be stressed about?

Here's my answer to the underlying question: What is it you do all day, exactly? (Except that I'm pretty sure I made my point by noon).

I beg of you to help stop the madness against mothers by sharing this information with anyone who asks (or doesn't know to ask, but should hear this anyway!)

Thanks so much for helping me spread the word. I'm so done with all the b.s. about pitting women against each other, or women participating in the damaging dialogue, about which choices* are "best." All we get to decide is which choices are best for us. That's it. And, really, that's plenty.

For the record, the choices I'm referring to here include, but are not limited to, the following: Being a stay-at-home mom, mothers dedicated to satisfying careers, mothers working at crap jobs to make ends meet, mothers staying in a marriage other people don't understand, or, leaving a marriage for reasons people don't understand, women who are not mothers by choice or by circumstance.

To be clear: I'm not advocating for or against any of these very personal decisions. I am simply, but strongly, saying that they aren't our choices to make. Eyes on your own paper, people ... eyes on your own paper.


Since you asked ...

A sample day in the life of a stay-at-home Mom*

Between 5 and 7:30 a.m. Wake up to sounds of my husband trying to be quiet. Marvel that my children slept through the night and pray for another hour of quiet before the party starts. Write morning pages, finish a few things for work and make my shake. Empty dishwasher, start breakfast prep, set out stuff for making dinner. Put in load of laundry.

Head back upstairs where Sam finds me stretching in my room so we do a little Yoga together before his brother wakes up. Sam’s the loudest little Yogi ever so Jake’s up before long and hits the ground running. And then falls hitting his knee on an unidentified object since I was being so negligent as to use the bathroom for a moment.

7:45 a.m. I bring some first-aid stuff upstairs to deal with his scrape. Sam insists his brother wants a boo-boo pack and hurries downstairs to get it. He falls too. So there we are, the three of us on the stairs, two-thirds of us in tears. I suggest we start the day over. We get dressed and come down for breakfast.

8:05 a.m. Noticed the box of Band-aids is suspiciously empty. Found them stuck all over Sam’s door. I scraped them off while he explains that he was “just decorating.”

8:10 a.m. Noticed the Neosporin cap is missing, spent the next 15 minutes hunting for it before Jake finds it and choke to death. Change Jake’s diaper. I’m too slow because in the 12 seconds he had the opportunity he manages to pee all over his lovey, Zebra. Luckily I have a spare.

8:25 a.m. The water I’d set to boil for our oatmeal evaporated in the meantime. Almond butter toast and honey it is. (It helps to remember that when Plan A fails, you’ve got 25 more letters to work with).

8:20-8:30 a.m. Managed Sam’s meltdown over not being allowed to watch “Bob the Builder.”

8:32 a.m. Breakfast on the table, bags are packed from the night before we’ll be out the door on time today. For sure. Except I didn’t read Sam’s mind and therefore “messed up” his toast.

8:33 a.m. Manage another meltdown because I cut Sam’s toast into rectangles instead of his “favorite shape, triangles.” FYI: yesterday, the request was for rectangles. Jake, on the other hand, loves the toast, doesn’t care about the shape but thinks it makes a lovely hat.

8:40 a.m. Eat my toast standing up while combing almond butter out of Jake’s hair.

8:55-9 a.m. Clean up (by which I mean the kids not the breakfast dishes, those get thrown in the sink on a good day), wrangle kids into shoes and car-seats. Catch a whiff of stinky realization that I need to change Jake’s diaper. Stupidly smell his pants to see if he needs new ones. He does. Plus, I need a shower because, well, let’s just say I should’ve used my eyes instead of my nose!

9:00 a.m. Load boys up, lock myself out. Get in through super-secret means, tie my shoes while I pee. Yes, multi-tasking at its finest. Sing wheels-on-the bus all the way to the gym, pausing only to look for Cement Mixer Melvin and Rescue Rita. Also, forgot to announce “Time Tunnel approaching folks.” Promise to try to remember tomorrow.

9:30 a.m. Arrive at the gym daycare, breathless after carrying 30-pound Jake from the back-40 and keeping up with Sam who can’t wait to play trains. In the spirit of efficiency, I consider that my warm-up and sign in pleased that we are, for once, on time today. At which point I’m told I was actually signed up for 9 a.m. Cool.

9:45 a.m. Grateful for a cancelation, I am finally able to hit the treadmill, workout and shower all by myself. Even in an itty-bitty shower stall with little privacy and no scented potions from home this time to shower and get ready in peace is such a luxury that I’m willing to work out hard enough to need one after years of boycotting exercise due to the fact that I hate it. A few people have asked me why I go through the trouble of going to the gym when I could just go for a walk with “one of those kid-pusher things.” For those who don’t know, that would be a stroller and I suppose it’s possible that someone who’s never pushed one with two siblings in it wouldn’t understand that is an exercise in both patience and futility but not so much a physical one since you’re always having to stop to give someone his bottle back or pick up the blanket that you just ran over and will now have to wash before bedtime.

11:00 a.m. Stop at the “Tractor Park” on the way home to supervise play and sharing practice. Watch in awe as other parents are able to relax and read as their children fling sand into my kids’ faces. Remind Sam we don’t have a snack bar because we had to leave the store last time due to his not listening. As he starts to throw a fit remind him that if he does that I won’t have the energy to remember to buy them next time either!

11:30 a.m. Bribe the kids back to the car with the promise of lunch and an episode of “Caillou.” Yes, even if it’s sunny. People say television is a babysitter like it’s a bad thing. I’m more of a “most things in moderation” kind of mom. Ad-lib “Wheels-on-the Bus” all the way home to include all of the “Sweet Pickles” characters.

Since I’m already over my word-count, just trust me that the afternoon is a blur of crafty activities, clean up, sharing practice, explaining why it’s not okay to tow each other by the neck, hunting down remaining strangulation hazards, trying to keep one kid relatively quiet while the other naps, prepping dinner, bum-wiping, re-wrapping the toilet paper on the roll, Google contents of Sam’s giraffe and ideas for how to fix his tail, laundry, and the list goes on.

Yeah, that whole bon-bon thing? It’s crap!

Flash forward to the chaos of the day fading into dinner negotiations, bath time fun and subsequent tsunami zone, then stories, songs, bedtime. I SAID BEDTIME!!!

And then I clock out.

Just kidding.

At Bedtime Jake is screaming for Zebra. Oh, did I not mention that as I was filling the tub he decided to toss Zebra in there, giving him a nice soak. Remember this morning when he peed on the other one and I was so glad I had a spare? Yeah. I didn’t get that into the dryer yet.

Motherhood is full of Sophie’s Choices. Do I give him the wet zebra or the one he peed on this morning?

I’ll leave you on that note … I know there are so many things I missed. I’m sure you can help me fill in the blanks. Hopefully this is enough to demonstrate the “bored” is the dumbest adjective to describe this mad-awesome gig.

*After writing this it was brought to my attention that technically I’m a work-from-home mom but as far as I’m concerned, the details here are representative of the stay-at-home mom part and the work-from-home part happens on the treadmill, at the park while supervising sharing practice, between singing rounds of wheels-on-the-bus, and between 9 p.m and 2 a.m.


Hardy Boys Merger

 

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I had a hard time finding ideas for moving two toddlers into the same bedroom. I’m wondering if that’s because it’s not such a good idea?

Sam really wanted to move into Jake’s room, he’s brought it up repeatedly so finally this morning I decided to do it. The “merger” was way more labor-intensive than I’d planned for because, well … I didn’t really plan it at all. Which some of you know is totally not like me. Bunking the boys together has been in the back of my mind ever since we started visualizing a bathroom upstairs. We’re managing with just one but there’ve been a few times a second bathroom would be just heavenly. (Like the time when our one and only toilet was broken for a day).

And while I’m dreaming … this bathroom would double as a laundry room instead of the laundry-room/pantry broom closet I’ve got going on now. I’m a believer in creating space for our dreams … so, now I have an empty room perfect for our new Ultimate Utility room.

The room isn’t actually empty, because in a smallish house that would be silly. I’ve got plans for that room too, but for now it’s just a mess of possibilities.

As you can see below, the boys were pretty excited and happy about the new Hardy Boys room … I hope I still think it was a good idea in the morning!

 

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p.s. I know, it’s been awhile since my last post … I’m working on getting back into this being one of my top priorities, but I’m still adjusting to a new work schedule and getting regular workouts. (Which is somehow giving me more energy, I never used to believe that, but more on that another day!)

 

* 8:30 p.m. So far I’ve only been interrupted three times writing this post.

*11:30 p.m. So far, so good … fingers crossed.


Go ahead, get pissed. Just don’t stay that way!

I was reading some questions and comments on a parenting board I like when I saw a mom asking how to handle a situation that leaves her feeling angry. Another person responded by telling her that if she was so angry she had little, or no tolerance. So, you know I had to say something.

Are you kidding me? As soon as you start telling people it’s not okay to be angry with their children is when things get dangerous. If you can’t admit that you’re angry, you can’t get help figuring your way through it. And that’s a problem. Why is it that some people advocate for allowing children to feel their entire “rainbow of emotions” but don’t yield that same courtesy to the parents?

Here is a link to a parenting site I poured over last night looking for some solutions to our recent parenting challenges – I’ve been sort of a Zen-Banshee lately. It’s about handling our anger as parents – see?! It’s normal, thank you very much. There’s a lot there to digest, if you can approach it without feeling defensive, all the better. I caught myself cringing a few times but liked the overall concept.

I was most struck by the idea that one of the reasons our children can push our buttons like no other is that in the moment that they {insert behavior that makes you insanely, intensely and instantly furious} it triggers how you felt as a child. (Enough with the eye-rolling, already, just consider the possibility). So for me that looks like, when Sam utterly disregards something I’d just told him, a simple request even, and does whatever he damn well pleases underneath my fury, I feel: dismissed, ignored, unimportant, useless, not heard. These are feelings I remember from early on and understanding that this is what might be happening was eye-opening in a hopeful way. Make sense?

For the article on parent-anger, I only take issue with the last line, #16 I get her point but don’t think shame is the right word to use there.

If I could help eradicate one thing from our personal and parenting arsenals it would be shame. Okay three things: shame, guilt and blame.

Writing as I go, learning as I live and sharing that here with you is one of my ways of combating those things.

This video, sent to me by my friend Rose, is 20 worthwhile minutes and helped me find the courage within myself to start this journey back to my favorite self.

20 minutes of inspiration …

Back soon,

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