Monday, June 12, 2017

How Disney Junior Makes Me A Better Mom (And Inspires Us to DIY Dog Treats!)

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Summer has arrived and with it, the monotonous daily chorus of "I'm bored's" and "I want a snaaaaaaack!," (s's purposefully elongated to mimic ear-piercing whining). It's a constant battle keeping these complaints to a minimum therefore, I wanted to pop in today to share with you, on behalf of Disney Junior, one of the many ways in which I battle the boredom doldrums.
It may have taken me a few kids to realize this but the first few hours of the day are usually indicative of how the rest of our day will flow. This means if in the hours following waking, I've lost my temper, the boys have lost their minds and everyone is in a tizzy, this behavior does not bode well for the remainder of our day. It's kind of like the tone for our day has already been set by 10am and there's little we can do to turn it around.  
One neat trick that I've found is that I'm a much nicer mommy if I've had a few moments to myself in the mornings, after the kids have been awake, teeth brushed and bellies fed. I'm all about meeting their intrinsic needs before I even think about meeting my own and it's around this time, particularly on Fridays, that the Disney Channel airs a morning block full of premier Disney Junior programming. These brand new, never-before-seen episodes air here first, during the hours between 6am and 10am and it's usually the perfect time to put on a show for the boys while I sit out on the front porch and drink my first cup of coffee piping hot.
What I love most about Disney Junior programming is that I can rest assured knowing it's packed with safe, age-appropriate and educational scenarios that are suitable for my middle and youngest children, ages 3 and 5. This allows me to put on their most favorite show at the moment, Puppy Dog Pals, and step away from the TV for a minute or two to center myself, make plans for the day and prepare for the chaos that lies ahead.
 Bingo and Rolly, the fun-loving stars of Puppy Dog Pals, are a canine duo of brothers who love nothing more than the thrill of a good adventure. Many times it's these adventures that take them on exhilarating escapades both in their neighborhood and around the globe. Most recently the boys enjoyed an episode where their sister-cat Hissy was feeling down in the dumps. They rallied together and brought her to all of her favorite places to try and cheer her up. That got my boys thinking, "what could they do for Sullivan, our Sheepdog, if he was ever feeling sad?" The answer was quickly "bake him one of his most favorite things, TREATS!"

Right click and save this image to use as a label for your own Puppy Pals Dog Biscuits!

That's how one silly episode of Puppy Dog Pals inspired us to create these organic, grain-free DIY dog treats that include some of our pup Sullivan's most favorite things. Not only was it a great bonding experience, the three of us together baking in the kitchen, but it also served as a great activity to pass the time during one of those long, hot summer days. When we realized we'd baked more than enough treats for our own pup, the boys decided to box up the extras and go door-to-door sharing the tasty treats with all of our neighboring canine companions. It was kind of like we had created our own little adventure, one that would surely make Bingo and Rolly very proud!
 To make your own DIY Grain-Free Organic Dog Treats just follow the very simple recipe* below and be sure to tune into Disney Junior on Fridays between 6am and 10am to catch all new programming suitable for toddlers and preschoolers!


1 1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup peanut butter or nut butter of your choosing
4 organic eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 1/3 c pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350*
Combine all ingredients into mixing bowl.
Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment paper.
Use desired cookie cutters to press-out treat shapes
Transfer using a spatula to a lined baking sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are hard.
Let cool completely before sharing!

Disney Junior is putting the YAY in FRiYAY all summer long! Tune-in for the #DisneyJuniorFRiYAY new episodes airing all summer on Disney Channel. Remember moms, the days may be long but we can do hard things! (With the help of a little Disney Junior....)

You can also find Disney Junior content (music videos, promos, shorts) on the Disney Junior YouTube page: and on Facebook:

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Disney Junior.
*Recipe adapted from Lexi's Clean Kitchen

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Meet Your Convertible Car Seat B.F.F: The Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max

So, if you didn't know it, yesterday was National Best Friends Day. While I'm never one to miss a bandwagon holiday, I usually don't celebrate the ones that don't involve praising some kind of food or drink. National Doughnut Day? Consider it done. National Margarita Day? Most notably another favorite of mine. While I wasn't plastering pictures of my besties all over the internet yesterday for all to see, I was working on putting together a post to share how the newest car seat from Maxi-Cosi, the Pria 85 Max, is the premier convertible car seat on the market that offers a first-class ride from 5-85 pounds. 

It's based off the much-loved previous model, the Pria85 but comes with some pretty incredible upgrades.

Meet the ClipQuik, Maxi-Cosi's newest and most innovate buckle technology.

This makes the seat, hands down, every Mom and Dad's new best friend with its innovative features for a Better. Faster. Fit. See what I did there? Featuring brand new ClipQuik technology that lets you easily buckle a child with a magnetic chest clip and can be unbuckled with one hand, this seat makes strapping your little one in, a fuss-free experience. 

Maneuvering the ClipQuik is simple. You can release the clip by placing your thumb on the grey circle and sliding up. Yes, it sounds simple enough if you're the caregiver deactivating the magnet from the traditional seat-facing position. However, even if your tiny rider knew how the mechanics of the clip worked, it would still be impossible for them to maneuver from their angle inside of the harnessed seat. This innovation in itself is priceless when it comes to parents who have children who've mastered the great seat escape.

What I wouldn't give for the ability to buckle and unbuckle my child with one hand while juggling groceries, a handbag and heck, even a smaller sibling in my other hand. The ease with which this chest clip can be buckled and unbuckled by an adult is mind-blowing. Even better is that the ultra-strong magnetic clip makes it near impossible for your tiny passenger to un-clip their own chest buckle.

Another feature that I love is the flip away buckle. This feature prevents the buckles from getting stuck underneath your child or wrapped up in their clothing when you're trying to load or unload them from their seat. 

What about rear-facing and forward-facing guidelines?

The Pria 85 Max convertible car seat fits children rear-facing starting at 5lbs. with the brand new removable infant cushions. These cushions give smaller babies a safer, more snug fit and when used properly can keep them cozy up to 40lbs. 

When the child is ready to ride forward-facing, this seat can be turned around to safely accommodate children up to 85lbs.; the highest weight range offered by a convertible car seat. Forward facing, the Pria 85 Max is rated from 22-85lbs. and from 29-52 inches tall. 

It's important to keep in mind that the child's ears much be fully contained within the head reast and the harness must be at or above the child's shoulders at all times. The seat will be outgrown when the first of these limits are met. Both stages, infant and older child, benefit greatly from the safer side impact protection provided by Air Protect technology which protects your child where it's needed most, around the head.

But can I clean it?

YES! With a fully removable cover, the seat pad unsnaps and removes easily over the seat frame. There's no need to remove the seat from the car or to make complicated maneuvers with the harness straps. The seat pad is both machine washable and dryer safe making it easy to achieve a thorough clean for the many unexpected messes this seat may meet. We've all experienced them- from car sickness to diaper blowouts and all of the crunched up goldfish in between, it's easier to clean this car seat than most other car seats on the market.

Seat Highlights: 
1. Easy install.
2. Magnetic chest clip (great for seat Houdinis)
3. 1-step removable cover, machine wash/dryer safe fabric
4. Air Protect Technology surrounds child's head
5. New infant cushions safely adapt to babies as little as 5 pounds

What are my options and how much does it cost?

Available in Black, Nomad blue, Nomad green and Nomad sand, this seat retails for $349.99 and, in my opinion, is worth every single penny. This seat is quite large and with it, comes a need for ample space front to back when installed in a vehicle. The price tag is hefty which won't necessarily fit all budgets but it does boast some pretty neat upgrades that will last average-sized children quite some time. For those interested, this seat is installed in the second row captain's seat of a Chevrolet Suburban using the seat belt tether installation for a forward-facing rider 40+ pounds seated in position one. (The Pria 85 Max has a 40 pound lower anchor limit and my middle rider is currently 43 pounds). 

*I received this seat for free in exchange for my honest opinion as expressed above

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Dog Who Saved Me

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This post is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, a world-leading animal health company providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health and well-being of dogs, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional disclosure.
In 2008, I became a statistic.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve talked openly about my miscarriage on this blog. In fact, it’s been a little more than eight years since it happened and today, I’m working with the HEARTGARD® Plus (ivermectin/pyrantel) team to share my story, because while this post will recount some of the deepest, darkest moments of my life, it isn’t really about what I went through during that time. Instead, it’s about how 25 pounds of slobber and fur saved me.
Everyone has their own way of dealing with their grief when it comes to the loss of a pregnancy and I chose to experience that loss privately, or as privately as someone could losing a baby at 14 weeks. It was an odd reaction, I guess, especially when everyone around me was devastated. After all, my husband and I had only been married a year and although this baby wasn’t planned, we embraced our new addition with open arms and open hearts and shared our news as soon as we gleefully moved beyond the safe zone at 12 weeks. But then I woke up bleeding in a hotel while on vacation with my husband’s family and everything changed.
Family and friends sent sympathy cards and flowers while I tried my hardest to pretend like nothing was different. Ignoring our loss and the deep grief that surrounded it helped me in a way to move past those overwhelming feelings of loss and defeat. I was okay until I wasn’t. In the weeks and months following my miscarriage, I would have these moments where I was absolutely blindsided by feelings of sadness, guilt and fear. What had I done wrong? How had my body failed this precious life? Would I ever be able to have a healthy baby? I was broken and I didn’t have any idea how to fix myself.
I quickly learned that in the midst of tragedies like the one we went through there are countless blessings to acknowledge and be grateful for. One of these blessings came to me in the form of a puppy. Three months after I walked out of that hospital with nothing more than a pack of super strength maxi-pads and a “don’t worry, this happens all of the time” from an OB I’d never met before, I met and fell in love with an Olde English Sheepdog puppy.
There will never be any doubt in my mind about how this dog saved me. Sullivan was a true gift to me during a dark time in my life and there isn’t a day that passes that I don’t think about how much he means to me and our family. He was there for me before there ever was a “family,” and when those moments of grief and loss would engulf me, he would be at my side before the tears even started to fall down my face. His sense of empathy and his innate ability to bring comfort during these times of duress is not something I’ll soon forget. Just sitting here, reliving these moments is difficult and while I cringe at my own weakness, I can recall curling up into a ball around Sullivan, burying my face into his thick coat and crying as if it was yesterday.  
It would have been easy to become overwhelmed during those early puppy months while focusing on housebreaking and training up a new pup, but I quickly learned that Sullivan brought so much more joy into our lives than stress. He helped heal me from the inside out and when I became pregnant a little over two years later, he continued to be a source of comfort and reassurance that I will forever be grateful for.

Here we are, 8 years and three little boys later, and Sullivan remains one of the most beloved members of our pack. He loves our boys immensely- protecting them from skinned knees and things that go bump in the night. He comforts them when they cry and goads them into playing fetch when the moment moves him. I can’t even begin to picture a single day without Sullivan in it.

I’ve experienced firsthand the healing nature of dogs and I’m pleased to share with you that the
HEARTGARD® Plus (ivermectin/pyrantel) team and Warrior Canine Connection® (WCC) are joining forces to help bring the healing power of dogs to Service Members, Veterans and their families. WCC offers canine-assisted therapy to service members and veterans affected by the invisible wounds of war. With your participation the HEARTGARD Plus team will help WCC continue its mission of helping U.S. Service Members and Veterans reconnect with their life, their families and their communities through the healing power of the human-animal bond.

From now to June 30, the HEARTGARD Plus team is offering supporters nationwide the opportunity to nominate a deserving U.S. Veteran or Service Member to win an all-expense-paid trip to Nashville and a year’s supply of HEARTGARD Plus for their dog. For every nomination, the HEARTGARD Plus team will donate $10 to WCC. The HEARTGARD Plus team will contribute up to $100,000 to WCC in 2017.
I’m nominating my dear friend’s husband, Corporal Thomas “Skipper” Solimando. A U.S. Marine, dedicated husband and father to two beautiful little girls, “Skip” served overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom 2, from 2004-2005. While a simple “thank you” will never be enough, I love that this platform gives voice to so many service men and women. After all, every Veteran is worthy of recognition for honorably serving their country and recognizing his or her sacrifice brings the value of our American freedoms to life.
Veterans can be nominated on or via Twitter® or Instagram® by using the hashtags #NominateAVeteran and #Sweepstakes.
The love of a pet is truly unmatched. From ashes comes beauty and while Sullivan will never replace the baby we lost, both he and his love for our family remains a priceless addition to the story of us. We are so undeniably happy that he is ours to love.

The maker of HEARTGARD® Plus (ivermectin/pyrantel) worked with bloggers like me for its “Heartgardians” program. This blog has been written by me on behalf of the HEARTGARD Plus team. I received compensation for my time.
®HEARTGARD and the Dog & Hand logo are registered trademarks of Merial. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.
©2017 Merial, Inc., Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. Merial is now part of Boehringer Ingelheim. [WCC_Social4] (6/17)
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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

And Then They Grow Up.

"Hey Mom," he quipped, as he slid, knobby knees and nothing but legs out of the back of the Suburban into our garage. His backpack was slung over one shoulder all cool and cavalier-like and one of his uniform-mandated crew socks was scrunched carelessly down around his ankle; a dichotomy of Big Kid Status and Little Boyhood all in the same almost-7-year-old-boy frame. If it wasn't for those piercing blue eyes and that button nose I traced with my own lips no less than three-thousand times during those middle of the night diaper changes and nursing sessions, I might not have recognized him looking all Big Kid-like. 

"You think we could go out this week, just you and me and maybe..."

Hang out? Grab some ice cream? Spend some of your allowance at Barnes & Noble?

My ears perked up at the thought of my oldest baby eager to spend some one-on-one time with me. 

"You know, buy a new LEGO set together?". 

"Of course we can. But make sure you work on that chore chart this week," I quickly replied, mentally checking off "teach your boys the value of hard work" from my ongoing to-do list of Raising Little Humans Not To Be Big Jerks. As if he had somehow known that I'd go anywhere with him even if he didn't make his bed at all that week, discard the unwanted contents of his lunchbox or empty the silverware tray of the dishwasher, he had raced off upstairs to his bedroom and was out of earshot before I even stepped foot into the mudroom. 

I stumbled over his backpack. "At least he remembered to put his shoes away," I thought to myself as I glanced over at his chore chart, dotted neatly with expertly stenciled X's. His chart hung perfectly upright on that wall, in direct contrast to his little brothers' charts alongside, haphazard in their placement, penmanship and ultimately, their diligence in chore-completing. 

"Has he always gone out of his way to help me?" I wondered aloud. After all, he's always been my kindest, most sensitive boy. The answer was simple. Yes.

When you're in the thick of raising little babies you think that you'll never love them more. That right then and there is the most you'll ever love them their entire lives, as if life with them couldn't get any better than when they used to fit so perfectly in the crook of your neck. When you could ball them up and lie them in that perfectly dimpled spot between your thighs and they would gaze up at you, smile at the sound of your voice and you were certain your heart would explode into one thousand tiny pieces right there. There's no way it could ever get better than that...

...But inevitably those little babies grow up despite how much or how hard you wished for them to stay little. And it always starts with their necks, am I right? It's as if they appear from out of no where and suddenly all of that baby fat melts away. Their bellies, those swollen, delicious bellies synonymous with toddlerhood begin to lean out and their limbs practically lengthen right before your eyes, sending them head first into that clumsy, awkward phase where they're constantly covered in black and blue bruises from trying to keep up with their equally exploding sense of Act Now, Think Later. 

And you start to love love them more. You love them harder and more differently than before because they're growing up right before your eyes and you now have front row seats to viewing the best and worst parts of yourself in this child that once grew from a seed inside of your own miraculously flawed body. 

Mind blown.

"He's pretty great, huh?" I mutter to myself as I begin the treacherous task of sifting through homework folders and 4th-quarter-response-required-yesterday parent sign-up forms. I know I'm biased, after all, I am his Mother, but in spite of that very important distuingishment and although I am admittedly winging parenthood, he's turning out to be a pretty darn incredible somebody.

Somebody that I actually want to spend time with, a real thinking and feeling human being who loves Minecraft and mathematics, who can tell real jokes with real punchlines, who actually understands the basics of a major league baseball game and whose company I truly enjoy... as opposed to that helpless little human being that I didn't really have much of a choice in the matter of hanging out with and/or keeping alive just several short years ago.

A monumental shift had occurred. 

A milestone in and of itself and one that I'd almost missed when this particularly trying season of motherhood, one that I might have thought would never end, shifted from being based solely on the constant giving of care to one that was a beautifully symbiotic relationship full of jokes that made my sides hurt, mundane moments spent chatting in the kitchen like two old biddies, he with his legs dangling over the edge of the counter, me with my head in my hands in astonishment at how wise beyond his years he is and most importantly, true care and concern and a vested interested in how our respective days were spent while he was at school and I, at home with his brothers.

Suddenly, I see glimpses of a friend in this little big boy who I swear, just moments ago, was learning to take his first steps.

Word on the street is that it's only going to get better from here on out, too. Of course there's going to be moments when he still pees on the toilet seat (and the floor and perhaps even the wall) and apparently there's even a few years scattered in and among this "Puberty Phase" when, allegedly, he might not want anything to do with me, but until then, I'm going to thoroughly enjoy this new found kinship these next 7 or so years and spending time with my buddy that can truly enjoy the amazing-ness that is a PG-rated movie peppered with mature jokes, an ice cream cone enjoyed from the bottom up without making a disastrous mess and staying up later than his brothers who, thank the good Lord, will also grow up one day too soon and hopefully become equally cool little humans. 

So you see? You blink and then they grow up.. and it isn't so bad after all. In fact, it's pretty freaking awesome.  

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Summer Camp Kid's Essentials: Featuring a KEEN footwear Giveaway!

We LOVE Keens Kid's Footwear and jumped at the chance to share them with you! This is a sponsored post.

Growing up there were two distinct groups of kids in my neighborhood: those who stuck around all summer long, rolling through tick-infested fields, playing in the creek behind our house from sun up to sun down, occasionally driving our parents crazy with "what do we do now's" and those two or three kids who were an enigma, the ones we didn't see all summer long because for six to eight weeks their parents sent them off to summer camp. Sometimes one of us would get a letter from them regaling stories of campfires and kayak races but mostly we were reassured that they hadn't drowned or been eaten by a bear through the stories we'd hear from our mothers.

I always liked the idea of summer camp, mostly glorified by the books I'd read and the movies I'd seen on TV, all from the comfort of my plush, air-conditioned bedroom. How could one not want to pack up their belongings and spend hours on a stifling hot school bus, driving out to the middle of nowhere where endless activities, built-in best friends and even the occasional summer romance awaited them? While I was constantly intrigued by the notion, I wore (thick) glasses and suffered from (terrible) allergies. Sleeping in a cabin in the middle of the woods, not being able to breathe and learning to co-exist with insects as large as my inhaler never really struck my fancy so I satiated whatever romantic desire I had for sleep away camp by attending a handful of local day camps here and there. I was also a horrible swimmer, not learning to swim until I was 9, so naturally that had nothing to do with my unwillingness to go anywhere that involved copious amounts of "water fun."  

As a child, summer break meant freedom. Freedom from structured routines, competitive sports schedules and countless unstructured hours in the day. Time to unwind, to relax and above all else, to get outside and play. As a parent of 3 kids under the age of 7, however, summer looks much different to me. As the last day of school approaches, all I see ahead of me are days filled with a collective chorus of "what do we do noooooooow," and "I'm so boooooooored," and "why can we just watch TVVVVVVVVV?" 

In other words, all of these unstructured hours in the day have me wondering how I'll ever keep my kids engaged, stimulated and happy (more than they are bored, sad and beating the stuffing out of each other) for 12 long, hot weeks. 

The answer to that will be a handful of strategically placed summer day camps that will hopefully give all of us a reprieve from driving each other absolutely insane. Mostly it will give my kids the necessary break they will need from me, the over-engaged, over-stimulating parent who will only allow them technology on the evenings and weekends when they haven't already lost it for poor behavior and poking each other in the eyeballs and in the mean time will force them to use their imaginations to entertain themselves, hopefully outdoors, between the hours of breakfast and dinner, only breaking for lunch and the occasional sunscreen reapplication. 

As we prepare for a multitude of day camps this summer, I thought it helpful to share some of our favorite summer essentials for those days when our  little ones will be out adventuring, taking on the world and hopefully making a mess of someone else's space other than our own. (Can I get an "AMEN?")

1. Let's start with camp-appropriate appropriate footwear. Depending on the nature of the camp, kids may require a sturdy, comfortable shoe that can take them from the woods to the watering hole and all of the places in-between. For us, KEEN kid's footwear is our go-to summer adventure shoe. Easy to clean, breathable and with a closed-toe, these shoes let kids participate worry-free in adventures and activities. 

With two kids heading off to a Little Explorers Science and Nature Exploration Program this summer, we recently picked up the KEEN Rio sandal, known for its flexible fit and easy-to-clean material. The bungee-closure system not only keeps these sandals snug on their feet but it also makes it incredibly easy for them to slip on and off all by themselves. While they're off traipsing through riverbeds and gravel trails, I know their little feet will be well-protected for whatever adventure comes their way. 

Visit our friends The Chirping Moms for 10 fun reasons KEEN Kids are great for summer time! KEEN Kids styles are also great for travel. 

Check out Wanderlust CrewGlobal Munchkins and Sarah Tucker for why they choose the shoes for travel. 

KEEN Kids are awesome for summer camp. See why Hello Happiness & The Vanilla Tulip will be using them this summer. 

They're also perfect for toddlers, check out how The Girl in the Red Shoes and Toddler Approved are keeping toddlers busy and active in the KEEN Kids shoes. 

 The KEEN Moxie styles are fashionable and functional, check out how Seven Graces Blog is styling them this summer!

2. If you're little one will be spending any time outdoors, it's always important to invest in a piece or two of quality SPF clothing. In addition to slathering them up with the necessary sunscreen and bug spray, I always make sure to have two or three of these lightweight, comfortable, cool UPF 50+ shirts from Shedo Lane on hand. Available in short-sleeve and long-sleeve styles, they offer superior protection from the sun while at the park, camp, or the beach. 

3. Keeping your kids cool from the inside out, especially with proper hydration is key when they're off exploring the world around them. These stainless steel water bottles from Klean Kanteen hold 27oz of liquid and offer a really great soft, silicone spout for max comfort hydration. 

4. COOLA Mineral Sunscreen and the all-natural Bug Band round out our Kid's Must Have's for Camp list. COOLA is one of the safest, most-effective top-rated sunscreens on and while its consistency is pretty thick, it does wear well and without that white residue that so many other mineral sunscreens can leave behind. I always recommend this sunscreen because it's one of the few that doesn't irritate my kids' eyes when they're in and out of the water frequently!

We're happy to team up with a great group of bloggers to share KEEN styles for kids AND an awesome giveaway. FOUR lucky families will win KEEN shoes for their whole family, up to 4 pairs (Combination KEEN + KEEN Kids styles). 

Please enter using the Rafflecopter below. 

Don't forget to visit all of the participating blogs too! The Chirping Moms // Wanderlust Crew // Global Munchkins // Sarah Tucker // I Love You More Than Carrots // Hello Happiness // The Vanilla Tulip // Girl in the Red Shoes // Toddler Approved // Seven Graces  Giveaway: Enter using the form below!   

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Friday, May 5, 2017

"Better Liquor, Better Living Rooms"

I used to be envious of early-twenty-something me. 

It may have been a time of transition and uncertainty, as I sat perched on the precipice of true adulthood, but good lord things were so much tighter back then than they are now. Things stayed where they belonged, hangovers could last for days without consequence and my bedtime beauty regimen didn’t take thirty minutes each night and involve things that required batteries and could easily be mistaken for sex toys.

Early-twenty-something me didn’t care what others thought not because I was confident with who I was but because I truly went about my way in the world with an “I don’t give any f*cks” attitude. Friendships weren’t deep but they were aplenty and when we got together, it wasn’t for a Wednesday morning spin class but rather a Friday night bar crawl where we didn’t care how much we drank, who we drank it with or who paid for it.

I envied this carefree, sometimes careless free-spirit who could be selfish with her time, her money and, well, her beauty (as if it would always be “this easy.”) If you had asked me back then what my thirties would hold, I’m fairly confident I would’ve said something like “Oh, I’ll totally be married with beautiful, impeccably behaved children living in a beautiful home carefully curated by my interior designer. I’ll still wear bikinis on the beach because I’ll have a bangin’ body, nothing will have changed and everything will be expensive and extravagant.”

Oh to be so naive again.

Here I am, a little more than twelve years later sitting in a hair salon working very hard to keep a handle on my prison roots. I have three beautiful children and we live in a beautiful home (Ding! Ding! Ding!) but come over on a Tuesday morning and you’ll find that home littered with signs that there are children everywhere. My interior designer (ha, ha, ha) is named Pinterest and she shops mainly at TJMaxx, HomeGoods and Target on a major B-word (budget) because when you have kids as little as mine, you can't really  have nice things until they go off to college.

The vacuum is stranded in the middle of the first floor, its cord spanning three different rooms. Socks are strewn about as far as the eye can see and if you look hard enough, there’s dust balls in every. single. corner. The sink is full of dishes that I’d like to say were from the extravagant breakfast I cooked that morning but the truth is, they’ve been there since last night. My dog finally got a bath and haircut this week after several months of smelling like a NYC subway. 

I love my children as much as the next mom but I also enjoy when I send them off to school in the morning and pull away from the curb in car line two kids lighter. I always, always crawl into bed with each one of them after they’re asleep each night and breathe them in. I also post creepy sleeping pictures of them to Instagram because that shows everyone on the Internet just how much we really love them.

Do I still pine for the days when I was a carefree, sometimes careless early-twenty-something? Maybe. Maybe I’d go back for just a day- and spend most of that day naked because had I known what kids and aging and gravity do to your body in your thirties, I would’ve spent way more of my twenties naked. Just totally buck naked. I might’ve taken pictures, too, for posterity’s sake (or to give to my plastic surgeon down the road).

But the whole truth is that I don’t really miss my early-twenties at all.

I’m living the life I spent most of my twenties dreaming about and while it doesn’t look as neat and white and shiny as it did in my head, it’s even better than I could’ve imagined. I still give little to no f*ucks but not because I feel like I’m invincible but rather because I genuinely love myself as I am. Even if it means I splurge on beauty paste to brighten my under-eye bags and meet my girlfriends at spin class every Wednesday morning to sweat off the poor parenting decisions I made the day before.

Speaking of friends, I have some of the greatest women in my life surrounding me and they all came to me in my thirties. I thought I would never find my “tribe” or whatever the trendy word du jour is for those women who offer to take your kids when they see that look on your face, who love on your kids like they do their own, who commiserate with you and celebrate with you the trials and tribulations that motherhood is all about. The kinds of women that you see in movies and read about in books and blogs and witness in those tiny Instagram squares but I found them and they found me when I wasn’t looking. Together we love deeper, laugh harder and everything we do is because we firmly believe it will better ourselves, our family and those around us.

One of those girlfriends recently got me hooked on a TV series starring Hilary Duff called “Younger.” It’s the perfect blend of thoughtless comedy that goes great with logging treadmill miles or putting up your thirty-seventh load of laundry. There’s a scene where one of the main characters returns from a suburban stay-at-home mom’s book club where she was forced to go in a hasty attempt to rustle up some excitement surrounding an unpublished novel. Her twenty-something cohort asks her how it went, assuming it must’ve been so lame to hang out with a bunch of pinot-grigio-guzzling sex-starved housewives but much to her surprise, her friend retorts, “it was really great. Better liquor, better living rooms.”

In that moment, it hit me. Actually, it hit me at the same time a rogue NERF dart whizzed by my temple. That’s precisely what my thirties are all about-  better liquor and better living rooms. 

In stark contrast to my twenties, a decade (mostly) fueled by shitty wine, rail drinks and dive bars, my thirties have introduced me to wines that taste like feelings other than “I’m just-out-of-college-broke” and “my-boyfriend-dumped-me-to-find-himself.” When we have midday play dates we drink the thirty dollar bottle of champagne on a Tuesday because we can and because we want to, some of us still reaching for the cheap stuff not because we have to but because we don’t give a shit and we enjoy it. 

And we do so in a living room that looks less like a serial killer’s grandmother’s basement and more like the pages of the design magazines we flip through in car line. That’s, perhaps, the moral of my thirties. We don’t give a shit and we enjoy it.

My thirties have truly been a gift to me and even though my metabolism sucks and my girlfriends and I group text about things like “the best Spanx to make you look twenty again” and “why do my kids hate me” I wouldn’t trade these last several years of awkward adult self-discovery and self-awakening for any of the nonsense that I thought was important in my twenties.

What’s even better? I hear forty is the new twenty… 

Here’s to the future, my fellow mid-thirty-ians. We’ve still got it and so. much. more. than we know. 

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