An egg-celent activity!

Move over all you Pinterest Bitches, there’s a new mom in town!

Ok, I’m not a new mom. And I’m not new to Pinterest. And this isn’t really a novel idea (truth – a friend, who is a badass mom, did the alphabet one which I spied on FB!). So yeah, I’m not kicking any Pinterest Queens off their thrones anytime soon (or ever). But sometimes I do see some good ideas I just know will work for us or think of a way to alter for our needs. My criteria are easy, cheap, not-messy, and easy (did I mention easy?). And I can test it out on my three for you. So here’s one that my kids are loving…

Math Eggs 1

Yep…plastic easter eggs, sharpie marker. That’s your materials list. I didn’t want my son to “cheat” and just match colors, hence the mismatched eggs. He just turned five (as you know from the Bug Birthday Party post), so we started with the lower numbers, but he loved it so much, we had to do them all. I took them all apart and separated them into top halves (the actual math equation) and bottom halves (the “answer” or single number). He would pick a top half, read it out loud, and then do the math (with my assistance for some of the harder ones)…then he’d find the bottom, connect them, and throw them in the basket. As you can see, for bigger numbers, like 10, I had several different equations…I also made sure that all the tops that equal, say nine, fit together with all the “9” bottoms (I hope that makes sense). I was so proud, he noticed right away and said “Gee, there are a lot of ways to make 10!” BINGO! Love when things click.

Math Eggs 2

Proud of his math skills!

Anyway, on a roll and not wanting my daughter (3) to feel left out, I made her an alphabet set (idea stolen from my friend!)…they’re just as awesome and just as easy! Sharpie, plastic eggs…that’s it! And maybe a bucket or bag for them to be carried/stored in because they have a tendency to not stay put. Again, I did mismatched colors so she wouldn’t just color match…

Alphabet Eggs 1

Once the alphabet eggs were completed, we just had to get started “right now, Momma! RIGHT NOW!” First, I separated them all and she matched them up. She did a pretty good job and we didn’t go in any order…she just picked one up, stated which letter it was, and then looked for it’s match. Once they were all together, we put them in alphabetical order which was tricky what with the eggs rolling and her little brother grabbing them and trying to throw them at her. (and I totally laughed, only encouraging him. #momfail) But she did it and she was so proud of herself. Just look at that face…

Alphabet Eggs 2

Having fun learning!

So that’s it. Fits my criteria of easy, cheap, and mess-free. Bonus: I don’t have to store the eggs and then search for them next year. 🙂

Baby You Should Go and Love Yourself

Yes, that’s a Bieber song lyric. I’m sorry, but it’s relevant, I promise. Please bear with me…

My son loves Justin Bieber. He says that Bieber has a nice voice, and more importantly, he says he can sing with him, that he sings “the right notes for me, you know?”. (Yes, he said that, he’s got more musical talent at age 5 than I will have in my whole life combined). Anyway, the point isn’t that he likes Justin Bieber but that he doesn’t care if that is cool or uncool. He doesn’t think twice about singing in front of anyone – the kid sings while driving his Thomas trains around a track, while building his new lego set, while walking out the door to school. He is young and naive and just does what makes him feel good – which, in this case, is signing pop song lyrics, often incorrectly, often loudly, and never with a single thought about what others might think of him. It is amazing and inspiring.

So here’s my question – when did we stupid adults lose our way?! When did we decide to care what others thought about us? When did we stop doing what made us happy because of other people? I know, I know. Society. Media. Peer pressure. Conformity. Blah blah blah. You know what? I LOVE to sing in the car. I love it. I’m loud and get the lyrics wrong as much as my kids and I’m usually off-key (my range is whatever no-range-at-all is technically called), but it makes me really happy. Like joyful heart happy. But I generally don’t do it because I feel silly, I worry about what the other drivers will think. Yes, you read that correctly. I stopped doing something that makes me happy, that hurts absolutely no one, that is a free mood booster, because I worry about what total strangers may think of me. What the actual fuck?!? That is so stupid! Who cares what some random person, who I will likely never see again in my life, thinks of me?! Hell, maybe I’d give them a good laugh or at least a little smile. I’d say they probably wouldn’t notice, but, well, people notice my car singing, it’s hard not to notice. But…WHO CARES!?!

I used to not care. Or at least not very much. Obviously we all care to some extent…culture and societal norms and all exist for a reason and sometimes they are a good thing (covering our genitalia comes to mind, I’m thankfully we all agree to do that). I am a loud person. Always have been. I’m THAT person in the movie theater…if it’s funny, you can hear me laughing; if it’s scary, you better believe I will scream. And damn if I don’t enjoy movies and all the emotions!  Pure happiness. I can get sucked into any movie in less than five minutes. When I was younger, I sort of did what made me happy, but as I hit real adulthood and settled down and became a wife and mother and moved and had to make new friends…I edited myself more. I toned it down. I didn’t laugh as loud in the movie and I tried hard not to scream out when the bad guy appeared. I had second thoughts about some of my “eccentricities” (which is a nice way to say things that make me me but may annoy the hell out of other people). I curbed some of my comments, I stopped dropping so many F-bombs (and let me tell you, I love a well placed F-bomb), I tried not to snort when I laughed. And you know what? My happiness toned down too. Why?! Why did I do this?! And I don’t think I’m at all alone in this…WHY DO WE DO THIS!???!?

The good news is, you can recover. I’m in the process. Because I realized, besides not being quite so happy, another downside of this was that I had made a lot of “friends” who maybe didn’t really even know the real me. That’s not to say they aren’t friends or nice people or even people that I love to be around. But I realized some of them didn’t even really know me. They knew a more neutral, calm version. As I’ve hit my mid-thirties (which I love saying! Truly!), I’ve said “Fuck it. I’m done. I’m done pretending or toning myself down. This is me.” And as I’ve let myself be ME, let my loud out again, I’ve really found my people. People with whom I can let down my guard and laugh loudly…and they don’t judge me. Even better, they laugh right along with me, maybe just as loud. I’ve found my sisters, the moms and professionals who can drop as many “fucks” as me and don’t bat an eye when I go on a little tirade about something (I’m passionate, what can I say). They are my people and I’ve found them by dropping my guard and just being myself.

I always like to say I may not be everyone’s cup of tea…some people don’t even like tea. And that is just fine. Thank god for variety. I don’t need everyone to be my best friend.  I don’t need every car to pass me and think “look at that level-headed, CALM, upstanding citizen”. I’d rather sing, badly, at the top of my lungs and enjoy myself, even if that means someone passes me and thinks “she is a total nutcase”. The world needs loud, bad singers…makes other people feel better about themselves. 🙂 It’s liberating and it’s real and I am learning to love myself again and I’m happy! (uh, thanks, Bieber?)

Bug Birthday!

This little dude is FIVE!


And we had a BUG party to celebrate! “What exactly did you do at this bug party?” you ask. Well…

We did a lot of playing. Our friends are all amazing parents, just like us (obviously!), and generally subscribe to the “go entertain yourselves” philosophy of child rearing. So mostly the kids just ran around the backyard, climbed on top of the playhouse (why would one just play inside when you can stand on the roof?!?), dug in the dirt and rocks, and generally acted like kids. It was great. We had yummy, health-ish snacks for them and, more importantly, beer and wine for the adults.


We also had ladybugs. About 9,000 of them to be exact. No, that is not a typo. You can order live ladybugs, sold generally as natural pest control, for pretty cheap. I could probably write a whole blog post on the dos and don’ts of ladybugs at parties now, but the gist is we originally were going to hand out little magnifying bug jars full of ladybugs that the kiddos could take home. But that sort of backfired (you try getting ladybugs into a small container without the other 8,987 escaping). Instead we had a giant mosquito net, the kids came in, and we opened up the bag of ladybugs. It was amazingly awesome, beautiful chaos! The kids LOVED it! There were ladybugs flying and crawling everywhere, kids were covered. Eventually each kid did get to fill the little jar and take some home to their own garden. I think this was the coolest part of the party…and I know the birthday boy agreed.

So as I said above, we tend to let the kids just be kids and have unstructured play. Last year we had a construction party and literally the only “planned” thing was a giant pile of rocks, which they all happily played in for hours! In fact, I’ve never done any sort of games at our kids’ parties. But this year my son was adamant that he wanted a bug scavenger hunt.  So I’m trying to figure out how the hell I am going to lead 20+ kids, ages 2-6, on a bug scavenger hunt in the middle of a city when I have my genius moment – plastic bugs! Henry and I had so much fun, before the party, making our scavenger hunt lists with actual pictures of the bugs. Of course, because I wanted it to be “fair” and I’m a little Type A (just a little, I swear), each list had to be different!  Then for the party we hid the bugs all over our front lawn. Kids received their list and went searching – they loved it! Everyone was so excited when they’d found all of their bugs and even more excited when they realized that they got to take them home. (Best part was watching the older kids helping the little ones or even just helping a friend search for that last elusive one.)IMG_8712

Having the scavenger hunt out front was key – it allowed us to hide the bugs before hand and give everyone a fair start, but it also got everyone excited to move out front, where we had the piñata. (We don’t have a good spot for it in the backyard). Henry was insistent on a piñata. There was a lot of debate about what it would be…of course he wanted a praying mantis and then a centipede (“with all 100 legs!”) and insisted I could make these. Sweet, foolish boy. I know my own limits. And patience.  There was to be no piñata making. This bad boy cost us only $15 on amazon.


I mean, it’s a piñata. You get to hit it and it’s filled with candy and toys. Kids would love it no matter what it looked like. Every party should have a piñata.

There was more play and more ladybug watching and more snacks…and the bouncy balls from the piñata were thrown and bounced and lost and generally the most entertaining cheap toy ever. But you know, all good things must come to an end. So we brought out the cake (no pics! arg!) and cupcakes…


You know I always bake my own. Always. It’s my thing…like I could do everything else perfect and they could swear it’s the best birthday ever and I could spend a gazillion dollars on the party and presents…but if Momma doesn’t bake them a cake, clearly I don’t love them. (I realize this is a weird hang up. Leave me alone.) So chocolate cake (double layer) and mini-cupcakes were baked, chocolate icing was made, oreos were crushed up, and gummy worms were strategically placed (actually,  they were thrown on haphazardly because the kids were underfoot and I had a time crunch). Anyway, we sang Happy Birthday, he blew out the “5” candle, we ate  “dirt and worm” cupcakes, and everyone got to leave on a sugar high. It was awesome. Henry proudly declared, post party, that it was “the BEST bug party ever!”. Happy Birthday Boy = Happy Momma

It’s My Kid’s Birthday & I’ll Cry If I Want To…

I always cry on my kids’ birthdays. At least a couple times and usually for several (very) different reasons. I’m an emotional person on a regular day. I FEEL a lot. And when it’s too much, tears leak out of my eyes. They just do. I have been known, on many occasions, to blurt out, while tears are streaming down my face “I DON’T KNOW WHY I’M CRYING!!”. It’s taken me awhile, ok, most of my life, but I’ve come to realize it is mostly a good thing. I can’t imagine not being so emotional. Sometimes it sucks, sure, but sometimes it is awesome. I still get that fluttery, bubbly feeling in my belly before exciting things. I feel great joy on a regular basis. Sadness, too, yes, and sometimes thats worse as an adult. Syria right now. The recent school shooting. Those leave me feeling gutted. But I also rode down a giant inflatable slide with my kids today and let me tell you, that was pure joy, a genuine belly laugh, a smile that made my cheeks hurt. So I’ll go ahead and embrace my extra feeling as a good thing. But back to the point…

My kids’ birthdays, especially my oldest’s, are very emotional for me. I think the one, obvious aspect is that it is evidence of the passing of time. They are OLDER. And with that comes an inevitable truth…they need me a little less. Which is both good and bad. And so, not only am I sad that they need me less, but I’m also happy that they need me less. Motherhood is nothing if not confusing. But yeah, the smack in the face that they are actually GETTING OLDER brings on the first set of tears.

Then there is the unavoidable moment during the day when I have The Flashback to the day my babies were born. Oh my God, I thought parents were so weird when they’d talk about that. They’d get this stupid look on their face and their voice would get all mushy and they’d go on and on about how cute and little (yeah yeah, they’re all cute and little) and then they’d list ALL the stats (who cares about how dilated your freaking who-ha was?!)…weirdos I tell you, living in the past. But then I became a mom and I totally do it. All of it. I can picture with absolute clarity what they each looked like the first second I saw them. I can close my eyes and perfectly smell their new baby smell. I can feel their teeny tiny hands around my finger. I can see my first born and his scrunched up, red face and his furrowed brow and his deep, dark blue eyes (he was born looking like an old man, he’s an old soul) and I can remember how relieved and scared and happy and hopeful and worried I felt. I’m crying now, in case you’re an idiot and hadn’t guessed that. Gah, ALL THE FEELINGS. ALL OF THEM. In the gut. That’s what these little people do to you, they make you feel everything all the time. But it’s totally worth it.

Ok, so after that particular cry comes the “I hope I’m not fucking up my kid” Cry. It’s a doozy. This one hits at other times too but it’s strongest on birthdays. Because, back to my first point, they are getting older. More independent. They are becoming their own person. And whatever person they are becoming is ALL MY FAULT! The good, the bad, and everything in between. If they have “issues”, its clearly me. If they throw a tantrum or hit their sibling, obviously it’s because I’ve totally screwed them up. If they are too passive or too quick to please, yep, Momma did that. If they don’t share, don’t eat their veggies, pick their nose, or, God forbid, become a Yankees fan, well, clearly I fucked up somewhere along the line. Let’s just start investing now for their future therapy sessions. Why?!?! Why do I do this to myself? ARG!!!!!!!! (Mind you, if they are a total genius with a heart of gold, that is just them, how did I get so lucky!?!)

By then end of the day(s)…because we like birthdays to be a multi day celebration here… there is always the complete let down from all the hype – the party that I planned for two months is over; the gifts have all been opened, the beautiful wrapping tossed aside; a new toy is already broken; someone, besides me, has cried; at some point, near the end, I have yelled; and we have all had our sugar crash, literally and figuratively. And I cry. This time, mostly, because I am tired, but with a little of everything else mixed in too. (I feel like I should apologize to my husband here because he usually gets this one, in bed, at the end of the day, and it’s usually those racking sobs that end with sleep).

There is one more little cry, or maybe not even a cry, just a little lump in my throat. It’s selfish and childish and a bit embarrassing, but here is my confession – on my kids’ birthdays, just for one moment, I want someone to acknowledge me. I want someone to say “thanks” or “good job” or even just “I understand”. For all of it. For the carrying the little parasite for nine months, for the labor & delivery (can I get an “AMEN!”), for the 8,972 diapers that I’ve changed, for the hugs and kisses and snotty noses and scraped knees and hours of rocking and reading the same damn book one million times and for my now stretched out boobs….But mostly, I want someone to recognize the sheer weight of being a momma.  It’s my day too, damnit.

I luh lou.

Burke Thomas, my 20 month old gentle giant, he with the big blue eyes, juicy lips, and double dimples, says “I luh lou” to me at least 30 times a day. Usually with his face very close to mine while offering a wet kiss. Which means at least 30 times a day my heart actually stops momentarily. It melts. My stomach does a little loop-de-loop and it’s all I can do not to squeeze his fat cheeks. I hope he never stops saying “I luh lou” but even if he learns the correct pronunciation, I hope he never ever ever stops telling me. Because it makes every single thing worth it. Every moment of labor pain, every sleepless night, every heart wrenching moment when he cries out for me and I think something is terribly wrong. I store these moments up and save them for the tantrums, which will likely come too soon. When I think I am about to lose my mind with his toddler pickiness, I will remember these words, the kisses. I save them for the inevitable years when he’s too cool for me, and shuts the car door with nary a goodbye and certainly not an “I luh lou”. For the far away day when he’s missed curfew and I hear a siren and my heart wants to break into a million pieces at the mere thought…these “I luh lou” memories will get me through. They are worth more than diamonds, they are how we mommas get paid and I am rich beyond my wildest dreams.



Learning to Let Shit Go

That’s my title and I’m sticking to it.

I’m Type A. I like things clean and organized. I dislike clutter. I love nothing more than crossing things off a to-do list. I do NOT like things or chores pilling up, physically or just mentally clogging up my brain. I get this from my mother, best mom ever mind you, but she makes me look like a slob. She is a perfectionist and clean freak. Again, I love her, but that’s just the way she is…I get it honestly.

And then I had kids. And a husband. And a shaggy big dog. *sigh*

I’m not going to give you a pep talk about better organizing your time or delegating tasks or even that you need to take things off your to-do list to make time for you. I’m not going to share that stupid quote about a dirty house but happy kids or whatever it says. Those articles and blogs exist by the thousand.

I am here to tell you that you just need to learn to let shit go! It’s going to go all on it’s own anyway…your housekeeping skills, your to-do list, the things you will forget, the Pinterest crafts you’ll never get to do…so just pretend you meant to let it go. It will save you some guilt. Seriously, you can’t do it all, or at least not all well, and so sometimes, like right now when I’m blogging instead of washing dishes because that’s what makes me happier, you just throw up your hands and say “fuck it”. Or maybe you’re more classy than me and you say something like “Oh I’ll do that tomorrow”…but I say “fuck it” and you know what? It feels good!

After my first baby I tried, I really did. And because I am naturally organized and clean and all that, it went pretty well. I stressed a little but my house was still pretty clean and my laundry was mostly caught up and I put a nice, healthy meal on the table most nights. I stayed in touch with friends, not quite as well as before, but I still never missed a birthday. I managed to still do yoga and volunteer for some things and even take my kid to those stupid baby music classes that, obviously, make them all little geniuses.

Second kid came 17 months later. Which happened to collide with my husband traveling a lot. Like every week a lot, and always last minute. Did I mention we don’t have family around to help? Everything fell apart – my to-do list looked like a battle plan; my house was not clean enough, ever; the laundry, oh god, the laundry; I forgot not one or two birthdays, but pretty much every event for a year; I never returned a phone call; and my stress level was through the roof. Oh, and I didn’t ask for any help. Or accept it when dear friends offered. I still thought I should and could do it all. Guess what? I couldn’t. And when I didn’t, the world didn’t end. SHOCKER!

Looking back, and knowing my personality, it had to happen that way. It had to be BAD for me to get it (I’m stubborn – or stupid – like that). But then we moved into a project house (yes, we did that voluntarily!) and I got pregnant again and something clicked – LET THAT SHIT GO! And I did. My house will only be clean the day I have help (I should write a whole post on how much I love the lady who cleans my house twice a month! LIFESAVER and worth every damn penny!). It’s clean enough. I will always have a to-do pile on my desk, it will likely never go away. And that’s ok. I am still pretty good about birthday cards, but I’m probably going to miss a few and that’s ok too – my friends know I love them and they understand. In fact, they cut my much more slack than I cut myself. I gave up long ago on laundry…it will still be there tomorrow. I shop at *gasp* Costco now and I meal plan and I take shortcuts…my kids still eat better than any of us did as kids, right? I have learned to say “no” which is seriously my second favorite word in the English language now (any guesses as to my first?). And I let shit go. Because I cannot do it all and I certainly can’t do it all perfectly and I’m a damn good mom and wife and friend as it is…the only person putting that pressure on me was me.