Thursday, February 28, 2013

Failure Versus Fairy Tale

Sometimes I feel like people only like to read mommy blogs, mine included, when things are going downhill fast. We're talking to hell in a goddamn hand basket faster than Britney Spears shaving her head during that infamous meltdown. 

I get it. I get why that's so appealing. Everyone loves a good disaster story and as moms, we can especially relate to the meltdowns, the need to lock yourself in the bathroom for five minutes, fingers plugged in your ears to drown out the incessant whining of your toddler. We've all been there.

Hearing those things or reading those things rather, helps us feel less alone and lord knows whether you spend all day in an office or at home with your kids, its nice to hear you're not alone and ultimately screwing up your children for the rest of their lives by letting them watch TV and eat sprinkles for breakfast. Not like I know anything about either of those things.

And I will  be the first to admit, those days are funny. Maybe not while they're happening but in retrospect  at the end of the day, when you're sitting on the couch with a glass of wine in your hand, it's funny when you think about your toddler publicly humiliating you with a knockdown drag out tantrum in the grocery store over why he can't carry the glass jar of pickles which to everyone around you sounds like the "ass jah pimples." 

That's why I write about those days. To find the humor in them. To remind myself not to take life so seriously and to think twice about having another baby. I'm kidding. But mostly, I write about those days because it's what I'm living and it's what I know. Why would I write anything else?

When I first started this blog, I was writing about what my life was like when I had a year of marriage under my belt and a husband who was on the road more than he was home. I wrote about the trials and tribulations of training a puppy, most of which involved vomit or poop and of the time Fire Rescue nailed my three-day-old car on the street right in front of my house when we thought they were on our street because something happened to our 110 year old neighbor. I once wrote about the time I accidentally packed a beer for my lunch box at work rather than a can of seltzer.  Naturally, I wrote about what life was like before babies and while we're on the subject, a life that was pretty damn funny. 

And then I got pregnant and as things naturally progress, I had a baby and I suddenly became a mommy blogger and I began writing about my life as I navigated the rather choppy, kind of exhausting, wonderfully funny waters of motherhood. 

My question is, what is it about failure (in this case, as a mom) that brings people together over the fairy tale? We're so quick to hashtag "momfail" on Instagram and Twitter, so quick to divulge those oft shameful snippets of our days, it's almost as if we're more comfortable relishing in and documenting the failures over anything else. 

For every day that my toddler melts down and the dog vomits 7 baby wipes and the baby wakes up 4 times over night and my husband and I argue over who does more chores than the other (true story), there are three times as many days that the toddler is an angel, the dog a saint, the baby a better sleeper and my husband and I, equal partners on the same page of life. 

But that stuff? Isn't funny. It doesn't garner nearly as many laughs or "likes" than the other stuff. Nobody wants to read about that stuff and when they do? They become critical and chastising. As if anyone's life could actually be that good.

Let's not only find camaraderie in the failures but in fairy tales as well, no?







The Nuby Jiggle Giggle Teether



I couldn't help but laugh when our latest shipment from Nuby arrived for the boys and I opened it to find this guy, the Jiggle Giggle Teether by Nuby. They certainly weren't kidding about the "giggle" part. 


As far as being an effective teether toy, with its purICE gel that stays colder longer than your traditional water-filled teethers, this little cow sure does the trick. Not only does it stay colder longer but it also vibrates. 

Yes, you read that right. The cow's udders vibrate as your child teethes on them. I'm having trouble writing this post without laughing. 


Perfectly sized and suited for little hands and mouths, with it's bright bold colors and multiple raised surfaces, this teether is an excellent addition to our arsenal of chew-able soothers.

Disclosure: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest thoughts and opinions on it as an official Nuby Mommy Blogger. I did not receive any financial compensation for this post.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

3 Is Going To Kill Me If 2.5 Doesn't First.

Some days I don't know how I'm going to make it out alive. Toddlerhood is not for the faint of heart, I know this for certain. One minute my 2.5 year old with pale blue eyes sparkling bright, is lovingly stroking my cheek with the palm of his hand telling me, "mama preedy. mama sweet" and the next minute I swear his head is about to spin while he squeezes shut his eyes so tightly and stomps and shouts at the top of his lungs because I won't let him stick his fingers up my nose. 

Now, I'm all about picking and choosing my battles with the tiny dictator but there are times, many times, where his demands are just plain unreasonable. Pretzels for breakfast? Fine, but eat some pancakes too. You want to drive your monster trucks up and down the baby? That's okay too, just not near his head. I'll even let you wear your Buzz Lightyear costumer to Walmart and/or bed.

But climbing the shelves of the pantry? Dumping the toy basket for the 33rd time after I said no? Removing every single cushion from the couch with your head and pushing it onto the floor for the 27th time because you know that makes mommy hold her breath and count to ten?

3 is going to kill me if 2.5 doesn't first. It is in those moments that I'm sure I'm not cut out to be the mother of a toddler. I think to myself, "surely I am doing something wrong."

Every age has its challenges. I've heard that it gets worse before it gets better. I've heard that it just gets plain worse. Moms have assured me that 3 is no picnic either but something has to give or else I'll be looking up exorcists in the local Yellow pages. 

I get it. The toddler is testing his limits, learning to express himself, struggling to come into his own. When he repeatedly asks for the "mopedy" and at the fourth request I hand him juice when he really means "remote" I can see how this might be frustrating.

It's more so the side eye and smirk he casts my way when I tell him not to do something, as he decides he's going to do it anyway. Or when he tells me to "go away now" with the wave of his hand, something we're guilty of saying to the dog all too often apparently, when he wants to do something he knows he's not allowed to do.

There are countless times throughout the day that I want to crumple to a ball on the floor right next to him and just scream and scream and scream until, well, until I decide I'm done screaming but let's face it, that doesn't do anybody any good. 

Give him choices. Make it a game. Give him less choices. Be creative in your parenting. Well, hot damn. It's not for lack of trying. Sometimes I just want to take the authors of these books and shake them into remembering what life is really like with a toddler. Unreasonable. Exhausting. It's living with a tiny dictator who throws his dinner on the floor with blatant disregard for your feelings.

While I appreciate each of those approaches to parenting a toddler, sometimes I just don't have time. Other times I don't want to give him two choices of clothing. Of snack. Of activity. I like to think that I'm teaching him that sometimes the world just plain old sucks and you just have to do as your mother says because she said so.

And sometimes I stomp my foot for good measure.

Sometimes I'm just one Google search short of looking up the nearest circus when he climbs into my lap, takes my face in his tiny dictator hands and plants a big wet kiss on my mouth. And it's in those moments that I am absolutely certain...

That 3 is going to kill me if 2.5 doesn't first.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

#MacAttackInTheMorning


What started as a silly little capture of a minute in time, the slow, rub-the-sleepies-from-your-eyes-just-after-waking moments first thing in the morning has quickly turned into a daily documentation of the very start of our days together. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you're familiar with #macattackinthemorning, the hashtag I use to tag each of the photos taken of MacAttack between the hours of 7 and 8 o' clock in the morning. It's really easy to do, you see, considering he sleeps in bed with us and all I have to do is reach over and grab my phone from my night stand. 

It's one of my favorite times of day. Unadulterated Mac-time. Just me and him and I'd be lying if I said I didn't look forward to it every night as I crawl into bed. 

Do you know how hard it is to be witty and think of captions that early in the morning? Very.

If you've seen the pictures then you're privy to a slight addiction of mine; little kid pajamas. Granted, in my defense Mac does wear a good deal of Carter's handmedowns when it comes to sleepwear. This makes me feel better about the thirty-some-odd pairs of jammers that fill the drawers of Mac's tiny closet. 

But more importantly, if you look through each and every picture you can literally watch him growing and changing before your eyes. It's amazing. Kind of like a little tiny digital flip book of growing up. 

I plan on taking these pictures every morning until he's 13. 

No, really. I'm serious. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Clean It :: Dog Days {of Winter} Project Challenge!



This week's theme is Clean It! I cannot wait for the temperatures around here to rise enough so that I can throw open the windows and air out this house! In the mean time, however, I'll be scouring your ideas below to find fun new ways to clean things up around here! 


Remember, please stick to this weeks theme & only link up cleaning/organizing related projects and feel free to link up old and/or new projects and be sure to include the party button or a text link back to the blog where you linked up! When you link up with one blog, your post will be seen on ALL NINE!

In case you missed it, click the picture below to see how I gave our junk drawer a $12 makeover!





Antique Platter Chalkboard Tray :: Hey, That's Pin-tastic

Baaaa. Do you hear that? That's me being a sheep. A sheep with a can of chalkboard spray paint. Have you seen Pinterest lately? Chalkboard this. Chalkboard that. It's a good thing there aren't many surfaces in my house worthy of painting because if left to my own devices I would have approximately 74% of it covered in chalkboard paint. 

It all started with the wall in the playroom that I painted a little over a year ago. Since then I've gone chalkboard-crazy all over old picture frames, mirrors and even the stems of wine glasses. Most recently, however, I snagged a gorgeous antique serving platter from Goodwill for a little over $3.00 and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. 

With some blue painter's tape to mark the edges, a can of chalkboard spray paint and two hours to let it dry, this project is so easy even the non-crafter can do it. 




Here's a stellar iPhone shot of how the chalkboard looks now. And if you have a chalkboard at home and haven't discovered the amazing things known as chalk pens, I suggest you hop on Amazon and pick some up immediately. You can see more chalkboard platters on Pinterest here.




Welcome to Week Twenty-One of Hey, That's Pin-tastic. My plate is officially overflowing and unfortunately something has to give. Hey, That's Pin-tastic will be going on a short hiatus after this week. I'll be taking a few weeks of from hosting this link-up which will give you all plenty of time to get your projects ready for when it returns Monday, March 18th. Thanks so much to everyone who has participated over these last few months! Be sure to grab the official button and link up your posts below. All posts bearing the button or a link back to ILYMTC will be pinned to the official Hey, That's Pin-tastic pin board with over 3,700 followers!

i love you more than carrots

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Junk Drawer No More! $12 Drawer Makeover!


This might be my husband's most favorite project that I decided to tackle for the sake of my blog. There's no doubt he loves when I get into a baking streak or on a whim decide to test out a few new Pinterest recipes in the kitchen but taking on the junk drawer, his most loathed drawer in all the kitchen? I'm pretty sure I made his week. 

Let's get something straight. This project was long overdue. A few months ago I decided to sort through the drawer and put important things in plastic baggies making them easy to find when necessary but within a matter of weeks, the drawer fell quickly back to looking like something off of Hoarders. 

Something had to be done and what better project to tackle on a lazy Saturday? After a quick trip to Walmart, I returned home $12 poorer but with 5 white drawer organizing trays. There were a few more expensive options but let's be real here. It's the junk drawer. I'm not going for looks. I'm going for clean, streamlined and organized.


Looking at that "before" and "after," I should be ashamed. That drawer is the first drawer you hit when you walk into our kitchen making it so easy to be the "catch all" drawer for all of our crap. Loose change, random nails and screws, a billion hair ties and bobby pins not to mention all of those rolls of scotch tape. I'm pretty sure I don't need to buy another roll of Scotch tape this year. But how would I have known that before? I didn't even know I had tape in that drawer!

With our new snazzy drawer organizers, it will be much easier to keep our "junk drawer" clean and in tip top shape. Junk drawer? More like Clean and Organized Central drawer! $12 dollars and forty five minutes well spent. I think my favorite part of the new drawer is those two little tin canisters you see in the top right corner. 


1. Chalk pens and dry erase markers. I have two large chalkboards in my kitchen as well as a dry erase calendar and menu-planning board on the fridge. These markers get a lot of use and now I can find them all in one place. 

2. Pens and Black Sharpie markers. I cannot tell you how many times I have dug through that drawer looking for a black pen or Sharpie marker. Jotting down quick notes or labeling lunches or bags of frozen milk, no more digging through that bottomless pit of a drawer.

3. Random screws and nails. With the ever-growing list of DIY projects around our house, there is always a pile of loose screws and nails hanging around. Rather than rush out to the garage each time I come across a straggler, I finally have a place to put them. 

4. Hair ties and bobby pins. Oh for the love. I am so guilty of leaving these things all over the place and the second I need either one? I can't find them anywhere. I'm so happy to have a little spot in the junk drawer just for them. 


5. Flashcards, crayons and markers. Eventually my plan is to have an "Arts & Crafts" tupperware bin out in the garage that I can snag when the boys want to work on an art project but in the meantime, it's nice having a few packs of markers and crayons in the kitchen that I could pull out at a moments notice. The toddler's flashcards are also kept here making them easy to grab when we have a few minutes to run through them each day. 

6. Tape, tape and more tape. Oh and scissors too. Self-explanatory. 

7. Chapstick, hand sanitizer, hand lotion. I am a beauty product hoarder. The cabinets underneath each and every bathroom in our house resemble the shelves of the local drug store but every time I go hunting for hand lotion or chapstick, I can't find a lick of it when I need it most. Problem solved. Oh and there's some little kid toothpaste in there for good measure.  

See what you can do with forty-five kidfree minutes and $12! Not too shabby. Now, if I could just find a place for the rest of the nonsense I pulled from the drawer...

Be sure to check back here on Monday for the Dog Days {of Winter} Are Over Project Challenge where myself and nine other fantastic bloggers challenged you to Clean It! I can't wait to see what you've come up with. I'm banking on finding some great home remedies for my much-loathed cook top as well as my stainless steel sink! See you then! 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Where To Shop For Boys {Baby and Beyond}


It's been a while since I've written about the boys' clothes and since I've received a few emails lately about where I find them, I thought I'd whip up another quick post about Shopping For Your Toddler and Baby Boy

You see, I buy a lot of boy's clothing. A lot. Probably more than someone with two children of the same sex  under the age of 3 should so by now I would like to think I am kind of a professional on the matter. Shopping for your little boys is a lot like shopping for yourself. You have your go-to stores for basic items and tend to hit trendier, more upscale places for "special" items. 

The same goes for shopping for your infant and toddler boy.

I think it's safe to say that regardless of whatever children's store you walk into, the girls' clothes outnumber the boys' clothes both in style and quantity nearly a gazillion to one. You may also notice that in many of the chain stores there happens to be only three  pant options for boys:  cargo, sweat and denim.

Now, while all in moderation the three of these pant styles are okay, I'm pretty sure my toddler doesn't need four pairs of pants with seven pockets. Not to mention, jeans and cargo pants can't be all that comfortable while climbing the jungle gym, now can they? And there's only so many pair of navy "sweat" pant that a kid can own.

Every Mom is different and today I'm sharing how we do here in the M family. 

Let's start with babies. First things first, I'm not a huge fan of the cutesy dinosaur and puppy-butt craze. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule and days where I couldn't resist a sweet little cartoon character-clad butt on my infant but for the most part? I try to dress my babies in sweet, soft layette onesies and sleepers. To me there is nothing sweeter than a brand new baby boy clad in white and light blue.

One of my favorites during the newborn/infant stage is Ralph Lauren layette. I shed many a tear when my youngest outgrew my absolute favorite white RL sleeper. There are some days where I wish I could keep having babies solely to bring them home from the hospital and keep them in RL layette. Although most of our RL Layette clothing has come from their online website (and as gifts), sometimes you can snag a great deal on them on the racks of Marshalls and TJMaxx

RL Layette


 
Absorba is also another one of my favorite layette brands. These pieces wash well and stand up to multiple babies. Most of our Absorba brand sleepers have come from department stores like Macy's and Lord & Taylor but you can also purchase select styles online through Amazon.

Absorba



At the other end of the spectrum, I love me some bright bold primary colors on babies. Again, I'm not over the moon for cartoon characters and sleepers splattered with characters, but I do love me some bright, bold stripes and dots. Offspring is another favorite layette sleeper maker. 

Offspring



Speaking of bright bold colors and patterns, one of my all-time favorite brands for both infant, crawler and young toddler is Zutano. Another great brand that washes well, stands up to crawlers and toddlers and has been handed down between my boys. You can purchase Zutano items from their online website as well as find great deals on them through Amazon. Zutano t-shirt and pants sets as well as short rompers are two of my favorite pieces to buy and two of the many styles I stocked up on for this coming Spring and summer.

Zutano



Let's say you're like me and looking to dress your not-so-infant-baby but baby-baby and maybe even your crawler-baby. I absolutely adore the GAP. None of those sayings that you see accompany so many of the chain store baby boy's clothes but sweet enough and "manly" enough that even my husband loves them. Some of my absolute favorite pieces come from the GAP "favorites" collection. They also have a fantastic organic and neutral layette line.

GAP baby



Speaking of favorites, I'm often asked where my FAVORITE place to shop for the boys is. After much deliberation, I have to say that it's a tie between the following two places: Hanna Andersson and mini Boden. Although each of these stores is a bit higher in terms of price point, the quality of the clothes is superior and well worth what you pay for them. I don't mind investing in these pieces because it's obvious that I hand them down between my boys. Occasionally these two stores do run promotions that make buying their clothes for your kids a bit easier to stomach. You can also snag Hanna Andersson jammies, a personal favorite, at some Costco stores for much cheaper!

Hanna

Hanna by ametzl01 featuring a ribbed tee



mini Boden has always been a favorite of mine for many reasons. Their style is unique and classic, full of bright colors and bold patterns. I love how you can mix and match just about anything in the mini boden and baby boden line not to mention that I love being able to snag the occasional  matching sibling outfits. Each of my boys have play clothes as well as special occasion clothes from here. My oldest also has a few of their swimsuits.  

Boden



And then there are places I like to head to for staples. Places to pick up play clothes basics and some things that I don't mind the boys playing outside and getting dirty in. Jeans. plain t-shirts. Legging-type pants for the crawling baby. Undershirts. 

American Apparel and Old Navy are two of the best places for these types of pieces. I recently stocked up on American Apparel ribbed onesies, T's and super soft cotton pants and leggings when Amazon was running their big kids and baby clothing sale. American Apparel even has a whole entire section of their website dedicated to the basics. 

American Apparel



Speaking of giant kids and baby clothing sales, one of the annual sales that I am sure to hit up is Old Navy's. Although I feel like the quality of their clothes isn't the greatest (the fit runs big and wide, the fabric shrinks, colors tend to run in the wash) you can't go wrong for the price. During their most recent sale I snagged nearly 20 pieces of clothing for my oldest's Spring/Summer wardrobe and spent no more than $100. 

In fact, one of my most favorite baby sleepers ever comes from Old Navy. Grey and chevron? I loved it so much that I made sure to purchase it through the largest size it came in. 

OLd Navy



Last but not least, here is one of my absolute favorite places to shop for sweaters, tops and t-shirts for my oldest. I can remember waiting for the day that he could fill a 2T in this store and I'm sure I cried tears of joy when he did so just shy of his first birthday. Jcrew's Crewcuts. I will say that because of their full price price point, this isn't the place I turn to for every day play clothes and I rarely buy anything for the boys that isn't from their sale section. However, when they're running a great promotion, I'm all over this place like white on rice. Not to mention that the quality and fit of their clothes is pretty awesome. 

Crewcuts




Let's talk pajamas. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I have a downright obsession with pajamas. Granted, my youngest does have a good deal of his older brother's hand me downs but in addition to that, his pajama stash houses about thirty-five to forty pair. As I mentioned earlier, Hanna Andersson sells my favorite jammies for both baby, toddler and little kid. Occasionally you can find a small selection of their jammies at Costco wholesaler. My second favorite place to snag sleepers for my youngest is The Children's Place. Although I didn't make much mention of them earlier, you will occasionally find me shopping for the boys in there as well. I think I would have to say that it is my favorite of the "chain" type stores. I love their footie jammers also known as "stretchies."



Jammies TCP



You'll notice I didn't mention Carter's or Gymboree in this post. I have nothing against these stores as I have found myself in them on many an occasion. To me, Carter's is like dinosaur and puffy-bear-butt central. King of monikers like "champ," "all-star" and "mommy's little monster." It's just not my style. Does this make me a better mother than you or my kids better than yours? Of course not. I failed to mention that I love me some Walmart pajamas, too. Hello, you can't beat the occasional $5 price tag for a two-piece set and my oldest loves his Elmo and Thomas character jams. And speaking of Carter's, I do love their plain white onesies both short sleeve and long and I also buy many of their three and four-piece pajama sets for my toddler. 

As for Gymboree, my thoughts are this: Cute clothes? Yes. Although, kind of overpriced if you ask me. I haven't been in this store since my first baby was about a year old and  I somehow got suckered into buying a pair of shorts (really cute shorts) and two (really cute matchy) t-shirts for sixty-five dollars. Yes, sixty-five. Now, I'm all about dropping some dollars on the boys' clothes as is evidenced by the post- but on patchwork shorts and two itty-bitty t-shirts that thirty other Johnny and Joeys are wearing? Not my style. Not to mention that for that amount of money? I could have bought maybe one or two pieces less from one of my other favorite stores like mini boden or crewcuts. To each their own. 


I also didn't mention Janie&Jack, Target or OshKosh, the last two mainly because I don't have much experience shopping with them for kids clothes. I will say that Janie&Jack has a fantastic way of taking those cartoon puppies and dinosaurs and making them absolutely prep-tastic. This store was a favorite of mine when my oldest was a baby. 


So there you have it. My favorite places to shop for all things boy! Who says shopping for boy's clothes can't be fun? Happy Shopping!




this post has been linked up here for trendy tot tuesday
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