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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pro Tip: When Not To Get A Massage

Ah yes, an hour of someone's hands rubbing me with no expectations from me to reciprocate anything back to them.  Add that it's in the an upscale salon downtown and I'm a suburbanite mom transformed into a trendy hipster in the city sipping on fresh flavor infused water. 

In my lottery winning dreams I'd be getting massages 2x a week or so. 

But no more massages for me. 

You see, I'm not a fan of this...

And that's exactly what I did today. 

I enjoyed the 60 minutes of bliss, but as my seat belt clicked I was back in mom mode. Chauffeur, chef, maid, and police. All of that occurred in the 60 minutes following my massage. As I took a deep breath to keep from losing my cool with the kids, I realized my relaxed, essentially oiled, loving mood was gone. 

Pro tip: Don't get a massage without a buffer before reality comes right back at you. 

I felt like I might have just set my money on fire.  A handful of M&Ms would've been cheaper and given me the same short lived relaxation. I'll still get a massage but probably when I am on vacation and perhaps taking an F-it day from work. or when the kids are way less needy.  But my next one will definitely be hours before I go back to the conditions that caused me to need a massage in the first place.
Thursday, June 4, 2015

Summer of Sanity - 2015

I had the luxury of preparing for last summer while on maternity leave last spring and now I find myself scrambling to get things around for this summer.  There are some things I want to keep and some things I want to change.  The boys are older now so their needs have changed, and well so have mine with 3 kids and no more newborn stage for Cora.

I definitely am planning on keeping the Screen Time criteria.  The problem with allotting them 30 minutes last summer was at about 7:45 every morning, they were begging for it.  This time I'm going to require specific tasks to be done before they even approach me on the topic.

We're still busy with sports and scouts during the week at least through June.  July seems to be mostly free and August barely counts since we'll be back to school before the 2nd week. Wah. Wah,.

We're about 5 days into summer and the boys are once again loving their charts and are busy looking for how to fill their own free time without me having to plan and dictate every minute of the day for them. Here's what the charts looked like for this summer:

June 1st

Screen Time



Followed Directions

Enrichment means they must do something that enriches them such as crafts, coloring, practicing schoolwork, math, science, critical thinking, etc.  This doesn't mean ABC mouse or anything involving a screen.  We haven't ever done chores before, but they are enjoying trying to find ways to help around the house.  They are both excited about the reading program at the public library, so that task has been easy to fill.

This summer is also a welcomed relief because the boys are finally old enough (or are they?) to play outside by themselves without me being mother hen to them.

They have yet to choose a reward yet, but I'm not pressing them for one.  I kinda want to see if they just enjoy this all for the sake of being organized and encouraging their own decision making and self-discipline.  I sound like a Nazi parent, but I swear I'm not.  Truly, we enjoy the summer days and they are not rigid at all.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Paw Patrol Party

Turning 4 means 4 parties right?

My middle love has gotten the shaft the past 2 years on his birthday since it's over MLK weekend and we usually are out of town visiting distant family. Well, this year I decided little man needed his own themed party at the house, especially since his birthday is squeezed between his older brother and younger sister's.  I am after all trying to avoid "Middle Child Syndrome" at all costs.

Now, I love to joke about my birthday being a Jubilee and letting the celebration last all week.  Cameron got the same royal treatment this year stretching his out for 3 weeks.  It wasn't all full of fun though due to a nasty stomach flu that plagued all 3 of my kids at once. Ah, so this is what they mean when they tell you you're outnumbered once you have 3. 

Celebration #1 was with our extended family and was low key with one very special highlight...a visit from a local police officer arranged by Uncle B.  Cameron was so cute and immediately went into a silent shock, which for him is unheard of.  His favorite was getting to play with real "handcuffses" as he calls them.  Let's hope this is his only party where the cops show up ;)

And I have to thank my father who bought Cameron and cake and left us with a very memorable story to tell him when he's older about how he had a pink birthday cake for his 4th birthday.  It is so my classic father to not pay attention to the details.  I just loved it.

Celebration #2 was on his actual birthday in the middle of the week and we went to Chuck E. Cheese for dinner (his choice). Well, this was a short lived trip since the stomach bug reared it's ugly head before we even got our pizza.  I'll spare you the details but we had 2 of the 3 kids get sick there and then Cameron right when we got home.  Yes, we were that family at Chuck E. Cheese.  Somehow the kids were all asleep and in bed by 8 but we felt like we'd been run over by a truck in a matter of 3 hours.  Hence, there are no pictures from this day.

Celebration #3 was his original party day and I was all set to go.  The kids had been healthy for 48 hours so we decided to forge ahead.  Well, poor Cameron because about 1 hour before party time, my oldest and youngest got sick again.  It was heartbreaking to have everything set up and tell Cameron we had to cancel his party, especially because he was the only one not sick.  I had to be a good neighborhood mommy and not expose the other kids to icky germs though.  We still ate his cake (#2) and he got to open his presents from his grandpa and us.

So now we are at Celebration #4. Here's where you'll want to start paying attention if you're looking for Paw Patrol Planning tips, thanks for making it this long.

Anyways, his Paw Patrol finally happened and here are the details:

I used Photoshop to customize his invitation, and gasp, this was the first e-vite I have ever done.  I printed out one for his scrapbook, but since all the guests were friends of ours on Facebook, creating an event on there was way easier - not to mention it helped spread the word when we had to reschedule.

Between Nick Jr. and Mom's Tot School blog, I got all the ideas I needed for his party.  A huge thank you to those two. I reused some of the items left over from the Lego party such as table runners, plates, etc. Nick Jr. is amazing and provides so many printouts making planning super easy.  Some last minute favors included valentines day sticker kits I found at Wal-mart and these goofy straws that make you look like you have a dog's face.

Food:  I arranged some of the food in large food bowls (new and clean of course) that included puppy chow, chex mix (kibbles and bits) , and pirate booty. I had macaroni and cheese and little corn dogs too. 

Cake #3 (cake #2 not pictured)
I picked up some headbands at the Dollar store and taped on the ears I printed from Nick jr.  The goody bags were filled with paw patrol stickers and Scooby snacks. We also did adopt/color a dog.  I ordered the dogs (a dozen) from oriental trading company and printed out the adoption certificates from Chickabug, but there are lots of templates out there.  The kids just colored them with sharpies which cleaned up nicely with baby wipes.  The poster in the background was also from Nick. Jr.

So there you have it.  My little man definitely got a drawn out birthday this year but it was all fun and rather low key.  If you are planning a paw patrol party now, you are in great luck as there are things everywhere for it, including the $1 spot at Target.  If only we'd had the party 6 months later.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Lego Party

There is no rest for the weary when Thanksgiving is late in the month of November.  I had just gotten done hosting that holiday when I had to gear up to get my oldest's party planned out and then plan for Christmas the following week. He finally committed to a Lego themed party and I happily obliged. This was his first "school" friends party where the adults left their kids and not just our family friends and it was a lot smoother than I thought it would be.

Pinterest again gave me tons of ideas, so head there after here if you're planning a Lego party yourself.

You'll have to excuse my amateur photography below, but that job was assigned to my husband that day and he did the best he could.

Super simple and cheap!  I cut up vinyl table cloths in rectangle shapes and taped on coordinating colored paper plates for my backdrop wall.  They ended up looking like giant Legos and took barely any time.  Other than that, I stuck with primary colors.  I found that I'm able to reuse lots of items over and over again for parties that are primary colors which is great when I have extras of things left over.


I just had chips, veggies, and pizza for the boys along with cake and marshmallow pops.  I can't do a successful crumb coating to save my life, probably because I'm not patient enough to let it set, but the cake turned out pretty cute I think.  I used THIS video as a tutorial and guide.

The marshmallow pops were another easy task.  I just used candy melts and m&m's as the top knob of their heads.  I had edible markers to draw the faces on.  They didn't work that great, but they'd been in the cupboard awhile so that might be a reason.  No worries though because the boys loved the expressions on them and gobbled them up.

I specifically bought yellow cups and allowed the boys to draw their own Lego faces on them.  They loved this idea too.The punch was just frozen limeade and cranberry Sierra Mist with some sherbert added.  It did the job of wiring up the kids perfectly. 

*Disclaimer - You can see the details here, but I implore you to make the host of the party aware if your child has a food allergy.

Besides the faces on cups, I had 3 other games.  Yes, 3, however they were super simple and not time consuming at all.

1) Guess how many Legos- Alex loved prepping for this by counting out 176 Legos by himself to put into a vase.  As guests came arrived they just wrote their guess on a slip of paper.  The prize was a small Lego set.

2) Lego Memory Board- Alex also helped prepare this by gathering some distinct Lego items and putting them on a large green Lego plate.  I let the kids look at the board for about 30 sec.-1 min. before covering it back up and they then had to recall what the objects were.  The adults helped them write, but the game seemed perfectly aligned with 1st grade skills.  I was surprised at how clever the winner of this game was, he actually drew a small picture of each object versus writing down the word and he got them all!  Again the prize was a small Lego set.

3) Lego Punch Box- The punch box seems to be a popular party pin idea and I used it to fit my theme to make it look like a Lego.  I had 8 holes, 1 for each guest.  I used an old diaper box, cut 8 holes, and wrapped it up with a vinyl table cloth that matched tissue paper I had.  Then I configured the inside with shelves made of more reused cardboard lying around in my recycling bin.  I then applied tissue paper over each hole.  Behind each hole was a small Lego set they got as their favor.  They punched out a hole and claimed their prize as they left the party.  As you can imagine this was a huge hit with the kids.  And as a bonus, we kept the box as a Nerf target for the boys.

I know Alex really enjoyed himself and it was so cute how he kept showing off all the stuff that we had planned out.  I could tell he was really proud and pleased, which of course makes all the chaos worth it for me.

The only tip I'll leave you all with is that if you know in advance you're doing a Lego Party, scope out deals on Lego party favors.  I got some that were on clearance and on sale and made it worth the investment to get every guest a small set vs. junk in a goodie bag.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

2015 Goals - Where's My Head At?

Well 2015 is now a full week upon us and so far, so good.  Like many of you out there I like to try and give myself a list of resolutions and accomplishments I hope to achieve the next 365 days, give or take a few.

I welcome 2015 with open arms.  2014 was awesome with the birth of Cora and everything with family coming up roses.  Hell, even work was pretty darn good for 2014 which was a drastically needed change from 2013. Yet, as the months ticked on after March, I could feel myself slipping away. By the time September hit, I was finding myself having to admit some hard truths to myself and I eventually did by the time the year ended.  I didn't like the conversations I was having with myself and that is what needed to change.  Perhaps it has something to do with postpartum and all the mixed up hormones running through my body, but I'm taking my body and my mind back.

So, taking a cue from my bestie, I have decided that only there is one thing I need to work on this year.  (Ok, she has 3, you can read about them here).

Mindful of what my negative mind is saying.

            You’re not OK

Yes, I actually am OK.  None of the petty things that I bother my mind with are making me a bad person. I’ve got all the BIG things I need in this world. I am mindful of the big picture and the whole perspective of what could be happening in my life that isn’t and I’m grateful for that.  I am enjoying the person I am and am growing to be every day.  I don’t need validation from anyone for my thoughts and beliefs.

You should be doing ________ instead

I am living in the present moment instead of beating myself up constantly thinking I should be doing more or something else.  If I am playing with my kids I am not going to think about how mess the house is.  If I skip the gym, I am still a good person.  If I take forever finishing a project, it’s OK because it gave me peace while I was doing it and I’ll get back to it eventually. The self-inflicted guilt trip I have with myself is exhausting.  I know I am doing the best I can.  I am making my own choices and I am responsible for them. I have no regrets on choices I have made, so why do I beat myself up about things.  I am not doing that anymore.  

I’m worried about them

Why? They are adults and can handle themselves. They are responsible for their own decisions and choices just as you are.  I don’t need to absorb their drama as my own.  I can still be good and loyal to them. I can still care for someone without judging them or their decisions. I need to set up boundaries from the situation and the person.  Their actions are nothing personal to do with me. I can voice my opinion and it is OK and healthy for our relationship if we disagree.  It is not my job to fix someone else.

Mindful of what my body is saying.

am I hungry or is it just boredom or stress? 

Most likely it is stress. So I'll address that vs. consuming calories.

am I thirsty for water or a Coke? 

Most likely it is really water I need, but I don't have a daily habit of Coke so I am not going to beat up myself when I have one.

I am stiff and sore

I need to move more, hit the gym or stretch, get that blood moving

I am exhausted

Stop cheating myself out of sleep.  Not rest, but actual sleep that my body is begging for. 

Taking care of myself and my body is an ongoing process.  I know that I could physically be in better shape and health, however until I stop the evil conversations I have towards myself, no amount of working out or cutting calories will help.  I am starting with working on my mind first and I have a feeling the other things physically will fall in line after that.

Mindful of when my heart is full

            I feel great!

There are lots of times that I feel great and I need to not let them be outweighed by the negative times or thoughts.  My heart is full and I am blessed beyond belief.  That is my reality and I need to enjoy it as it happens. I am happy for others and that fills me up.  When my heart speaks to me in this way all is right in my world and I can go forth projecting that towards others.  I really enjoy so much in my life so eat it up!

So that’s it.  I am going to be more mindful this year. I know that by making this my focus, that I will gain a better relationship with myself and that I just might even be comfortable in my own skin someday. 

This post might have read a little quirky, but it makes sense to me and well, that's all that matters.  Good luck with your 2015!

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