Thursday, December 4, 2014

7 Accessories to Spice Up Your Mommy Wardrobe

I am honored to be a guest today for the talented and chic Nancy from Afro Chic Mompreneur she embodies all things mommy, tips on how to successfully work from home, beauty, and being chic of course (please pay her visit, you won't regret it)!

As a mom of four boys, I’m usually climbing bleachers, getting dirty at the park, or chasing down runaway toddlers, and as a result, my wardrobe has to be light, simple, and flexible enough that I can break out in a sprint when need be. I am a hybrid when it comes to my mommy wardrobe, I like to still look somewhat put together while still keeping it simple. You can be fashionable, while still being comfortable. Here are my 7 favorite accessories for adding a little spice to your everyday mommy wear.(Continue Reading)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Whole Weekend of Lincoln Heights...Here's What I Learned

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We recently renewed our Netflix subscription after a long hiatus, and somehow over the Thanksgiving break, my husband and teenage sister-in-law drug me into their obsession with Lincoln Heights. Now, in case you missed this series when it was out here's a quick synopsis. 

It's about a police officer named Eddie who brings his family back to his childhood neighborhood to live, while he cleans up the streets he used to live in. Eddie and his wife Jenn have three teenage kids; Cassie, Lizzie, and Tay. The series followed Eddie and his struggle to keep his family safe and out of harms way, while still maintaining strong family values. So, I watched all four seasons in the span of about two and a half days; once I got sucked in I was as snug as a bug in a rug stuck under a jug. However, my zombie-like watching of this series was not not in vain, here's a few things I took away from it...

1.  I couldn't be a police officer, I'm a punk, I'm not running in any dark alleys, or kicking in any doors, I just don't have the heart to do it. Plus, I don't think I'm as far above bribery as I should be, for a good bacon cheeseburger, and a soda, I just might look the other way.

2.  Teenagers lie, a lot. Not only do they lie a lot, they are horrible at it. I began thinking was I that bad of a liar when I was teen? I would like to think that I was clever, cunning, and innovative in the lies I told (hey, I didn't tell that many lies, oh stop judging). Then, don't let teenagers get in a group and start thinking together, that's like a cat chasing a donkey's tail...something's bound to go wrong.

3.  If I was a nurse it would mean that I could possibly get stuck with a bloody needle while somebody is reaching for a cell phone. I don't know if this has ever actually happened to any real-life nurses but it happened on t.v. which makes it really real.

4.  Don't befriend a little boy at the volunteer center if he carries around a stuffed bear with a ripped ear. Why? Cause it could be filled with drugs that were stolen from a drug king pin, putting your life in danger. However, you may be safe if a masked vigilante that was stealing groceries from stores and giving them to the poor happens to come along at the right time, and judo flips the bad guys, and thus saves your life in the process (it could happen...stop looking like that).

5.  There's a possibility that if you live in a super old house, that there's a big sack of old money behind a wall that you didn't know was there. However, you won't find it until there's an earthquake which causes a fire, and you have to run up to the attic and grab your girlfriend's sketch pad before the house burns down. While doing this you turn and accidentally bump into the wall at just the right angle.

6. Strong family values make a difference. Amidst all of the chaos, shootouts, drug trafficking, kid napping, etc. Eddie and his family made sure they didn't lose sight of who they were. Eddie and Jenn worked hard to protect their children, but even harder teaching their children how to protect themselves. As parents we don't know how long we will have with our children, and we can't always be there to protect them. The world is cold, and it takes no prisoners, so arm your children with strong values, so no matter what goes on around them they are firmly rooted.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Top 5 Thanksgiving Fails

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Everyone knows that the holidays can be stressful, but we can always find comfort in seeing the Thanksgiving fails of others. So, if for nothing else, be thankful that you haven't done these Thanksgiving fails...or have you?

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5. Burnt Beyond Recognition. Has your turkey ever caught on fire, or been burnt to the point that it no longer resembles a turkey at all? How do you recover from a crispy, extinguished, turkey. This is one that you can never live down. (No one was seriously injured its okay to laugh). At least you won't have to worry about any salmonella poisoning this year.

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4. Where's the Giblets? Still inside the turkey... This happened to me a few years ago, actually it was my first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner on my own, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. The result....giblet gravy...inside the turkey. My husband won't let me live this one down til' this day. I'm glad my name isn't something like Grace, because "Giblet Gracie" is just too easy.

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3. Hooters for Thanksgiving anyone? So, I guess I will reveal several of my own fails here. We had pre-ordered a turkey one year because I didn't feel like the responsibility of the turkey, really I was just scared I would mess up the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dinner. To make a long story short, the place lost our order, so on Thanksgiving we were left without a turkey. How do you explain the absence of the turkey on Thanksgiving, that's like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with no jelly! So, luckily Hooters is always open and at the time was right up the street. No, it wasn't a turkey, but good wings isn't a bad substitute. A pair of Hooters saved my Thanksgiving that year.

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2. Family Brawl. At any holiday get together there's going to be relatives that get on each other's last nerves. We all have that one family member that you already know if they show up for Thanksgiving it's going down. Have any of you had a good Thanksgiving family brawl? I'm all for a good brawl, just don't mess up the food, have some manners and take the fight out to the front lawn.

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1. Who's the Drunk? Anyone ever had that guest that doesn't know when to put the bottle down at all of the holiday functions? Drunk people at the dinner table can go one or two ways: either they provide hours of endless entertainment, or they annoy the stuffing out of everyone, resulting in fail #2...a family brawl.

The holidays are for family, love, and laughter. Take this time to cherish the ones closest to you, and remember that if your turkey turns out a little dry this year, at least it didn't catch on fire. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Traveling with Kids for the Holidays? Here's a Few Tips

If you have traveled with children before, you know that "what can go wrong, will go wrong", so it is best to be prepared just in case your trip takes an unexpected turn.

1. Pack lots of snacks. Snacks are essential for any road trip, it will reduce the number of food stops, and keep them occupied. Make sure they are snacks that the little ones can consume safely and easily on their own. Try snacks that are less greasy, and not too sugary, the last thing you want is a little one with an upset tummy in the backseat. Cheerios, or a similar dry cereal are always a good choice. Make sure its something you don't need to refrigerate if you're traveling a couple of hours. 10 Best Travel Snacks for Kids.

2. Don't over do it with liquids. With little ones it's hard to keep them on a bathroom schedule, but it doesn't hurt to try. Be mindful not to give your kids too much to drink while traveling, unless you want to stop for a bathroom run every twenty minutes. I would suggest giving them liquids about 30 mins before you plan on making a bathroom stop. 

If you are potty training, traveling can be scary, but take some of the pressure off. Invest in a few pairs of training underpants, so if they do have an accident, its not too epic. Also, if you're like me and are deathly afraid of public restrooms, invest in some disposable seat covers. You can find these in Walmart or Target, for about five bucks. They are especially for toddlers, and come in fun and colorful designs. 

3. Be prepared to entertain. If you have a DVD player in your car, make sure its ready to go, and you have their favorite movies on deck. Tablets, smart phones, e-readers, etc. should be fully charged and ready for battle the night before. Story books and coloring books also make for an easy activity on the road. Singing songs is another good way to keep the kids entertained while also feeding their urge to scream and shout; at least its channeled into a somewhat cohesive tune, instead of random yelling, and screaming. Old fashioned road games still work too, such as i-spy, and spot the car. 10 Best Car Games for Kids.

4. Make a checklist. A checklist will help alleviate some of the last minute second guessing as to whether you packed everything. These are a few staple items that should be on every parent's checklist when traveling with kids.

  • Extra clothes-bring twice as many change of clothes as you think you'll need
  • Batteries- something you need electronic is bound to die on your prepared
  • Chargers- again, something you need electronic is bound to die, and it doesn't take prepared.
  • Fully stocked diaper bag- if you still have little wee ones, having a fully stocked diaper bag that is at arms reach in the car will be helpful.
  • Pillows and blankets- if your child has a favorite pillow or blanket, make sure it makes the packing list, or you will be hearing about it throughout your entire trip.
  • Toys, story books, and coloring books- you don't want to over clutter your car when traveling, but smaller toys and books that can be put in a baggy or small book bag will definitely come in handy.
  • Snacks- don't forget the snacks!

5. Make a detour if you have time. If you're not pushed for time and you're making a trip that requires a couple hours of riding time, stop somewhere scenic or fun and let the kids stretch their legs. On our last trip the rest stop had a good deal of space for the kids to runaround, so we took about 30-45 mins to let them runaround. The visitors center also had some interesting maps that my older two enjoyed investigating. Remember that kids can hardly stay put at the kitchen table, and to have them strapped in for hours can be a bit much for them. 

6. Accept that things will stray from the plan. When traveling with kids, nothing is predictable. On our last trip, our son got sick and started throwing up in the back seat. He did this on and off the greater part of our seven hour drive, it was horrible. We stopped twice as many times, and he went through most of his change of clothes during the car ride. Doing laundry was not in our plans since we were only staying two days, so needless to say we hadn't packed any laundry detergent. His car seat, blankets, and pillow all had to be washed when we reached the hotel. What I'm trying to say here is that things just don't go as planned, so make extra time, and allot extra funds for things that might go astray.

Try to stay calm, and patient if things go a little left (look, I said try, I know this is easier said than done).

Have safe and happy travels with the kids this holiday season, and if it all seems too overwhelming just tell the family dinner is at your house this year!

Monday, November 24, 2014

"Excuse Me, You're Blocking My Son's Spotlight"

Okay, so I hate to admit it but I'm that mom, that pushes into the front to get a good shot of my baby at the PTA program. Or that mom that yells out her child's name as he enters the stage, or gives that annoying "whoowhoo!" at the end of his performance. Yep, that's me. What can I say I love my kids, and I'm a proud mama.

Today, my son had a performance at the Savannah's Children Theater (great little place to stop if you're in the Savannah, GA area), and I was there as usual front and center (well usually I have to make my way from the back cause I'm always late but you get the point). So, the first group went up, and they were cute and adorable, but I was thinking, "okay hurry up, I'm ready to see my baby". Then I see my son get up and make his way to the stage with his classmates. This is the sign to go ahead and cue up the phone, to get that perfect shot. Just when I had my cell camera set on his cute little face just perfect, somebody stands in the way...what I wanted to do was yell out, "hey, get the heck out of my son's spotlight!" but I didn't, I do have some manners thank you very much.

  • Have you ever bum-rushed the stage just to get the perfect shot of your kid at his PTA performance? 
  • Have you ever cropped any of your child's classmates out of his/her pictures? 
  • Does everybody at the performance know who your child is by the end?
  • Do people stare at you because you're cheering absolutely too loud, for only your kid? 
  • Have you ever made the whole family wear a team "insert your child's name here" shirt to your child's event?

I finally got my clear shot again, and snapped away, followed by the video of him singing off key and moving in a not so rhythmic manner like the rest of his compadres. Time to go right? Nope, three more groups to go, and while they were equally as entertaining and adorable, I had got what I came for. However, since it's just plain rude to get up and walk out on little kids, I sat through the rest of the performance. I fought the urge to run out like the place was on fire, or have my son fake an asthma attack (and he doesn't even have asthma) so we could make a break for it.

Yes, all kids are special and wonderful, but nobody is as special as your own pride and joy, especially under that spotlight! By the way if you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you just might be a "You're Blocking My Child's Spotlight" kind of mom, don't worry, you're in good company.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

6 Ways To Get A Momcation Without Straying Far From Home

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Mommyhood is a continuous job, and as super as we are (yep, I will pat my own self on the back..and here's one for you too), we all need a break sometimes. Taking a real vacation to somewhere tropical, with little coconut drinks would be great, however, those are hard to come by and take months of planning and saving. Don't worry though, you can still get a piece of the dream, here's six ways to unwind, and still be close enough to kiss the kiddies goodnight.

6. Shop til' You Drop. This one is a no brainer, shopping is always a great pick me up. As moms we sometimes forget to treat ourselves every once in a while. I know me personally, I have some clothes in my closet that Goodwill won't even take. Refresh your closet and get some new threads. Not only will your kids appreciate it when you come up to the school in something other than that sweatshirt from high school, it will give you a confidence boost, and make you feel like someone other than just (insert your child's name here)'s mom.

5. Treat Your Pallet. If you know me, you know I love food. Good food is like a mood changer for me, give me a good burger, and a soda and I'm on cloud 9 (I know this is not the healthiest alternative but its a treat, I don't eat it every day, I promise). It's been proven that food can affect your mood (or at least its been proven by me, and I am a subject matter expert). Treat yourself to your favorite restaurant for brunch, or grab your favorite mocha late whatever at Starbucks. On those rough days, when you need a break, indulge a little, you deserve it.

4. Pedicure, Please! My feet have been screaming for a pedicure for weeks, I probably need to take my own advice here, because I really did rip a pair of socks with my toenail the other day (don't judge me). A pedicure is like a little piece of heaven on earth. It's so relaxing, and for two weeks after, you will look like you really care about your feet. When you sit back in that massaging chair, while getting your feet rubbed and scrubbed and scraped (I really hate the scraper thing because it's so not discrete, I don't think its anyone else's business how much dead skin just came off of my feet), it makes you feel like a celebrity, its all about you for a whole 45 mins.

3. Bring on the Tunes. Put on some good music the next time you start making dinner, it will change your life. Whatever it is that relaxes you, some jazz, country, r&b, or in my case some good ol' 2000's hip hop (yes, its the edited version for the young ears in the house), turn it up and relax. I mean we spend all day listening to all the theme songs on the Disney channel, I think we deserve an hour of adult listening. Plus its harder to hear my boys yelling to the top of their lungs for no good reason, when I have the music up to max volume.

2. Some Good T.V. Do you have a favorite show that's like a guilty pleasure? Mines is senseless, and shameful good ol' reality t.v. Yes, I know its not really reality as my husband likes to remind me, and gives me this look of disdain when I'm all into it but its entertaining. Sometimes I need a good laugh, even if its at the expense of the outright foolish behavior of someone else, hey they're getting paid for it, what's the big deal? So when the kids go to bed try to fight the urge to do more house work...I'm really bad at this, and fire up the D.V.R and catch up on your favorite shows. If you are more sophisticated and like to read, grab your favorite novel and tune out the world. Trust me, those three loads of laundry will still be there in the morning.

1. Find Your Peace. What brings you mental peace and tranquility may be different from my list, but make sure you find the time for whatever it is that makes you happy. No, we can't always getaway on a nice vacation, but there are plenty ways to give yourself a mental woosah (this really is a word in the urban dictionary, thank you very much). As moms we spend so much of our day thinking about everyone else and what they need, that its hard for us to wind down and lighten our mental load. Finding some type of mental relief for yourself, is essential to being the best mom, (and the million other titles you have) that you can be.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Reasons Why I Ignore My Kids' Christmas Lists

Yep, its getting about that time, when Christmas bells are ringing, and jingling. This is also around the time that our pockets get quite a bit lighter. About 2 weeks ago, the first toy catalog came in the mail, complete with a section for the kiddies to write their list...pretty clever advertising I must say so myself. So, they went at it, eyes glowing in awe of the hundreds of toys and not nearly enough slots on the list for everything they wanted. However, I guess they finally narrowed it down, and when I read them, it reminded me of why I ignore their Christmas lists every year.

Is that an iPhone? Yes, my 5 year old put an iPhone, an iPad, and an iPod, now that's too many dang "i's" for me. Now, I am a member of the "technology to keep my kids busy while I cook society", but there is no way that they are getting they're very own personal "i" anything. Nope, no way, no how.

Drum sets, keyboards, and doggie doo..oh my! Why do kids pick the loudest, most obnoxious toys they can find? If it's really loud, or poops and pees its right up their alley. No, no, no, we have a real dog that poops and pees entirely way too much, I don't need a toy that does the same. With four boys my house is already I really need the addition of artificial noise too??

We still have bills after Christmas. If I could, I would give my kids the world, but the reality is that we still have a mortgage to pay after the wrapping paper flies off. My kids would ask for the whole toy store if they could, but unless we'll be using that toy box to sleep in afterwards, we have to reign things in a little.

It's not all about the gifts. It's important to teach our kids that gifts and material things isn't what keeps us together. The love and laughter is what makes Christmas special, and brings us closer. As an adult I too forget this, and can sometimes get caught up on material things and price tags. I hope that while I'm teaching my kids a lesson, I hope that I teach myself a lesson too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Our E.R. Visit, and What it Taught Me

"What is that in your nose?!?" I yelled as I rushed my 5 year old outside where my mother-in-law was sitting. Well turns out it was a bell. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, how in the world did my son get a bell to fit in those tiny little nostrils...and more importantly how didn't I know.

As we were driving to the E.R. (and for anybody that knows me I panic when my kids get hurt...I blow things totally out of proportion but I've accepted this), I asked him why he stuck a bell in his nose, he said it "accidentally" got stuck in his nose. Now, as a mom of all boys, I know that it went something like "hey, I wonder if my nose would jingle if I stuck a bell in it?" So, the fact that he thought that this was somehow a good idea was not as shocking as what I was about to find out. As we kept talking, I recalled that two days prior he had complained of his nose hurting, and I just gave him some nasal spray just thinking it was just dry. Then it dawned on me...this kid has been jingling for three days!! Now my panic went into overdrive. I was thinking tetanus and blood poisoning, and rabies (yes I know you catch this from animals but at this point I was panicking okay, so cut me some slack). How could someone walk around with a bell in their nose for three days!

So, I asked him, "why didn't you tell me!?!", he told me it was because he was afraid, too afraid to come to me, in fear that he would get in trouble. If you are a parent I'm sure you have had those times when you just feel like you failed your child, and in that moment that's exactly how I felt. How could he be that afraid to tell me something so important? Am I just this tyrant that doesn't care about his feelings? My husband said I was completely over exaggerating, and maybe I was but us moms tend to carry the guilt factor. When something happens to our children we automatically blame ourselves, or think of a million ways that we could have, and should have prevented it. So, I was on guilt trip road doing 100 mph. I just couldn't believe that he felt like he couldn't come to me.

As I sat in the E.R. waiting room for like three hours (the standard E.R. wait time unless you have something highly contagious...and then your wait might be shortened to two and a half), I was reflecting on how I could be a better listener. A mom that can be firm enough to keep order, but soft enough to provide a shoulder to cry on, or a hug at the right moment. I've never been a super affectionate person so having kids has been an adjustment.

What our trip to the E.R. taught me is that I still have some adjusting to do. Kids need to feel that warm, cozy, comfy feeling sometimes, and I was like that decade old La-z-boy that just doesn't give the same comfort it used to. So, now I try to give more hugs, more kisses, and more words of affirmation and love. Have I mastered this; no not quite, and I can admit that, I still have a ways to go, but being a good mom is not about being perfect but recognizing that you aren't, and never will be.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What I Traded In to be Called Mommy

As moms we trade in a lot; our time, our space, our waistline, and sometimes our sanity. Of course, I would trade these things on any day of the week (just don't ask me on a really bad week) for these little ones. However, there are times that I sit back and reflect on what I traded in to be called mommy. So, here's my list of the things that I have accepted that will never be again, and if my kids strike it rich one day, I have a well documented list of what they owe me.

Tight Fit. There go those size 4 Gap jeans from college hanging ever so nicely in the back of my closet. Why are they still there after almost nine years....well because one day I'm going to be able to fit my leg in them. Granted this may not happen until the 25th of Neveruary but I'm gonna keep hope alive.

Bikini Dreamin' I will never, ever, ever wear a two-piece bikini again, unless I want people to mistake me for Tony the Tiger. It looks like I was in a cat fight and I was unmistakably the loser. Now, I have friends that have had kids and you can't even those friends ya'll make me sick (I still love you!). I have accepted this, and I just accessorize my two-piece with a sarong and pretend that the reason I wear a cover-up is to be modest. The truth is if I had a flat stomach that hadn't been stretched four ways from Sunday (no I don't know what this saying means but it seemed to fit), I would be flaunting it all over town.

Bathroom Buddies. Going to the bathroom alone nowadays is a luxury. If my toddler isn't coming in the bathroom saying "good job mommy" every time I go tinkle, than my older ones are banging on the door asking for something random that obviously couldn't have waited ten more minutes. The bathroom should be a place of peace; a place where you can collect your thoughts. Sike, not anymore. Now the bathroom is a hideout, where you might be safe if you can get in and lock the door fast enough.

Intelligence. This is pretty self explanatory, I really think I became slightly dumber after having kids. They say you lose brain cells after having children (I'm not quite sure who "they" are). I used to be pretty darn smart, if I do say so myself. However, the other day I thought Minneapolis was a state (shhhh don't tell anybody else about that). I don't know where my brain went, sometimes I can't even remember what day of the week it is or what I walked into the kitchen to get. I guess as long as I don't engage in any collegiate debates anytime soon, I should be able to get by on this one.

The Sophisticated Look. With a double stroller, and a mickey mouse backpack, I kind of lose that look of sophistication. Heels and expensive purses are a thing of the past (except the few times I get to go out and party like its 1999). Ever tried to push a double stroller in 6 inch heels?...bad idea. There's some moms that can pull it off but I'm not one of them. So my daily attire usually consists of tights, a sweatshirt, and Uggs, and I'm not sure how serious people take a person in Uggs. In my defense though, that lambskin inside those things sure are comfy.

Weight A Minute. I have given up on ever being the same weight I was before I had kids. If it happens fine, if it doesn't well I won't be shocked. I love food, and when I got pregnant, I ate, and I ate good. However, there is a consequence of eating that gain weight! Now, I have done exercise programs, and all of that jazz and I have lost a considerable amount of my baby weight. However, I think I'll keep a few lbs. as a souvenir of motherhood.

Gettin' Some Zzzz. What I wouldn't give to be able to take a nap. Naps don't get the credit they deserve, they are awesome. Taking a nap can change your life, it makes you feel all nice and rejuvenated. I remember the days when I could just come home and go to sleep anytime I wanted. Now, trying to take a nap is like trying to hop the fence at the White House (you will get shot down).

Although I may have traded in a lot, I definitely gained a million times more. The love that our kids give us is worth its weight in gold. However, there will be times that you find that old picture of yourself at the bottom of your drawer and think, "man, my kids owe me big time!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

When Did Big Families Become Extinct?

“You have how many kids!?!” This is usually the response that I get when I tell people that my husband and I have four boys. This question is usually followed by, “You aren’t going to have anymore are you?!?” Well I might, (okay not really because four is all I can handle without going completely crazy), but the point is; why is it such a negative thought? My grandfather came from a family of ten, and then he went on to have five children of his own. Back in the day, larger families were the norm. Nowadays two children is the ideal family. This is understandable, because ideally there’s a parent for each child. Which means that the playing field is evenly numbered, and it leaves little chance for a juvenile revolt. However, what about the parents that want to push the envelope, the ones that dare to be outnumbered and subject themselves to pure chaos. There are some of us still out there, we are not extinct…or at least not quite yet.

Large families require a lot of time, money, and patience, and I see why they aren’t for everybody. However, for all of the hair pulling moments there’s also extra hugs, extra kisses, extra laughter, and a lot of kids being extra, but I love it. Our boys take care of each other (when they aren’t trying to rip each other apart). When one gets hurt or has a bad day at school, the other is there to pick him up. They play together, laugh together, and cry together. With four unique personalities there is never a dull moment in our house. Our oldest is the smarty pants (but sneaky), our five year old is the jokester, our two year old is the rebel, and our 9 month old is a combination of them all. I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

So, I just ask that people not cast us out like relics, or look at us like we have the plague when we walk into the grocery store. I promise we won’t bite (well our 9 month old might but that’s not our fault). Whether you decide to have a small family or a large family, the only thing that matters is that it’s filled with love, happiness, patience, and Magic Erasers.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Why Does Paper Beat Rock?

I have watched my kids play rock, paper, scissors a million and one times to solve complex problems such as whose turn it is to watch t.v. or who gets a shower first, you know the real gritty issues that grip our household. Of course I played it as a kid too, I mean who didn't? We all know the age old rules...scissors beats paper, rock beats scissors, and paper beats rock. It wasn't until recently that I really questioned this age old game and asked how in the heck does paper beat rock? Then a light bulb went off in my head and somehow I took away this great philosophical meaning, being the great philosophical thinker that I am...okay not really but I just like using the word philosophical.

Anyway, we all know that in the game, paper covers rock to win, and as I thought about it kids are much like rocks and parents are similar to paper.  If you have children, you know that they are born with their individual personalities and it often starts to shine through when they are just tiny infants. There is no changing your child's personality, if you have a rebel on your hands, more than likely that is who they are going to be. It's hard to break rocks, so why waste your energy trying to break the rock, remember you are paper; just cover it! What I mean by this is, as paper you can cover your child as he/she rolls along; no you can't stop the rock but the rock can never shake you off. Your child will make mistakes, bad decisions, and do things that will make you cringe. However, as parents we have to hang on to that rock, and grip it as hard as we can through the entire ride; the ups, downs, and  in between. Never let your child think that you have given up on them or you're not proud of them. Even if they aren't going in the direction that you think they should go; do not give up. That rock is going to go in all types of directions as it rolls along. It will go up peaks, down valleys, and back again trying to find its place among the other rocks. Just hang on paper, and when you feel like quitting, just remember that age old game; paper beats rock every time.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New To Potty Training? Here's What You Need To Know

If you are new to potty training the first thing you need to know is that it sucks. This is not meant to discourage you, and there are some times of joy as you see your baby become a big boy/girl, but the overall process is not fun. I have yet to meet a mom that said they were sad that potty training was done. In my opinion it is the single most challenging task of the first 5 years of life. However, the good news is that it doesn't last forever, and your child will not be in diapers forever, but there are a few tricks to the trade that might make your journey a little easier.

Ready or Not? If your child is not ready for the potty don't force the issue. I learned this the hard way. You will know when they are ready to take that step. I encourage you to go ahead and buy a potty when you want to start introducing it to them and do just that. Let them get comfortable with the potty, stick some toys in it, use it as a recliner to watch cartoons, etc. This way the potty won't be like the electric chair to them. They will begin to feel a greater sense of comfort. Remember what they always taught us in school, first impressions are everything!

Underwear Dare. This is probably one of the most valuable tips but the one that will cause you the most time cleaning. Invest in some cool looking or incredibly cute underwear that will catch your toddler's eye; he/she will rip out of that pamper so fast your head will spin. Now, the first million times they will pee in them, and look in amazement at what is coming out and where its coming from. This is the key, because once they start putting these things together they will start to learn control. If you can catch them peeing in mid-stream put them on the potty, they will start to recognize the connection of all that's going on. I must remind you that it is a process.

Every Kid Is Different. You may compare stories with your friends and other moms, and their toddler may be doing hoops around yours in the potty race, but do not get discouraged. Every child progresses at their own pace. If you are a parent to more than one child you might have the urge to compare one sibling to another. Just remember that as different as they are in personality, so is the same with their development as well. Some children are more receptive to the potty, and some are a little more hesitant. Just work with your child in a way that works best for him/her. With some trial and error you will have success.

Potty Dance! Make the biggest celebration possible when they use the potty, pull out all the stops, dance around, shout, and make it a big deal. Positive reinforcement will make them feel special and want to get the same recognition again and again. Now, sometimes it won't be easy, like when they miss, or half of the poop is laying on the floor. Your first instinct will be to scream (I'm still working on this) but try with all your might to still make them feel like they did a good job.

Schedule It. Get your toddler on a schedule. For example, every 30 mins sit him on the potty for 5 mins. As it goes along you will start to figure out the right timing. Also be mindful of when they have something to drink. If they have something to drink you can almost count that about 20 mins later its probably ready to come back out. For this reason you might want to give them liquids in accordance to your potty schedule.

Patience Is A Virtue. The biggest obstacle with potty training in my opinion, is having the patience to see it through. Potty training can be very time consuming and it comes with its frustrations. Just try to be as patient as you can (nobody is perfect, you will come unglued a few times) and remember that this is just a stage and it will pass. Keep your eyes on the prize...being diaper bag free!

Monday, November 3, 2014

"Live and Let Die!!"

Well, we have all heard of the saying that "kids say the darndest things" and if you have children you know that this is absolutely true. However, my oldest child took me by surprise. Now let me give you the rundown here, my oldest is 7, he is the obedient (most of the time), good in school, eager to please one out of the four. Next to the oldest is my 5 year old, he is the comedian, and abstract thinker. Then followed by my 2 year old that will probably lead an uprising in pre-k because he is the rebel. The 9 month old we haven't quite figured out yet, but since his teacher is the 2 year old, we're going to assume rebel as well. Not that my other kids are any less talented than my 7 year old but this is to say that I did not expect this from my oldest.

So we are sitting in the kitchen at the table, and we have a dry erase calendar on our fridge (the only  way I can stay somewhat organized), so I had marked the anniversary of my grandfather's passing. My five year old (the second oldest) asked me what it meant, and how did he die. I told him that he died of old age. Then my oldest breaks out in tune..."Live and Let Die!!!" (the rendition from the Shrek movie). It caught me so off guard, so I asked him why would you say that? His response was,"well the frog king in Shrek died of old age too". I could do nothing else but laugh. The sad moment I had of thinking about my Granddad was turned into complete happiness by my son and his innocence. Kids say and do the darndest things. Some things that make you scream and want to pull your hair out, but some things that warm your heart and soul.

R.I.P Granddad, I love and miss you.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

You Are Your Child's Wingman

Your kid comes home from school with a birthday invite; they are jumping around with excitement as they hand you that brightly colored envelope. What does this mean for you? Another case of being your kid's wingman. What does this mean, you ask? Well let me give you the run down just in case you have not had the pleasure of experiencing this for yourself.

First of all this means that I need to add "gift for unknown kid" to my budget list. Yes you must buy a present, because showing up to a party without a present is a little tacky. What gets me about this is that I don't know this kid. This kid could be the temper tantrum thrower that I politely step over every time I drop my kid off to class. Do I really want to spend my hard earned $20 (that is usually my kid gift standard...yea I am frugal...not cheap) on this kid? Of course I will, because my child will never forgive me if he misses this 5 year old birthday party.

Next there's contacting the parent. Usually you call and RSVP, you all will have a small conversation about the party, any details that weren't mentioned on the invite, and then what type of gift to get the birthday kid. Usually after these items are covered there may be a little chatter about school and then awkward silence because guess don't know each other. Then one of you will politely end the conversation.

So here comes the big day that your child has been marking down the days on the calendar for; party time. You walk into jumpy house central looking for the party. Most of the times you will have to depend on your child to point out the birthday kid, because you can't remember what he/she looks like when they aren't rolling around on the floor kicking and screaming. So you approach the group of party parents attempting to spark some type of interesting conversation, while your kid runs off into the sunset with all of their friends. Here you are stuck like chuck trying to figure out which parent you may have some type of connection with, to make this party go by a little faster.

Finally, you make it to the end of the party, the kids have eaten cake, and took twenty years to open presents, but guess what you made it through. Your child is in the car happy as pie, and for that reason, you are too. Now not all parties will be like this, some will be fun and sociable and a down right great time. I am just preparing you for the worst. If all else fails, play sick and send your husband!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tips For Avoiding A Trick or Treat Meltdown

Okay so its Halloween and parents are getting ready to get costumes together, take pictures, and enjoy our kids and their cuteness. However, trick or treating can take a drastic turn quickly, especially with the younger kids. So after a few times of trial and error, here are a few tips that I hope will help your trick or treating be as stress free as possible.

Potty Time. If your kids are anything like mines, they will wait until they get 2 1/2 blocks from home to start doing the pee pee dance. If your child has an accident this will almost immediately shut down your trick or treat adventure. So make sure your kids make a bathroom run before they suit up, because trying to get a squirming child out of a pirate costume can get tricky.

More Rest, Less Stress. Make sure your kids are well rested and fed. If your children are grumpy it is not going to make for a very fun trick or treat experience. I remember when my now 5 year old was a toddler, I made this mistake. Running around and trying to get things together for Halloween I had forgotten to make sure he had his nap. The moment I realized he was grumpier than a man in a boat without a paddle, was when he snapped on this innocent old lady. She became a casualty of war ( I still feel bad about that, sorry little old lady wherever you are). So after that my husband and I took turns carrying him the rest of the way.

Weather the Weather. The weather does not care that you and your kids are out trick or treating in your cute little costumes, its October, and it still gets cold. I live in Georgia near the water where it is still a little warmer, but it can get chilly after dark. As much as you want your kid's costume to get all of the shine it deserves, make sure you either bring a jacket or layer under their costume if you can. Its nothing worse than waking up the day after Halloween to candy hungover kids with runny noses.

Whats Yours Is Mines. When the kids go to bed, it is time to indulge in their candy. This may sound selfish, but I mean really we walked around for miles (okay maybe blocks), just to get nothing out of the deal? Besides, they don't need any cavities, and too much candy is just simply not good for them. So really I look at it as responsible parenting. Plus this gives you something to look forward to after you get them to bed and you're tired. As you lay on the couch with that big delicious bag of candy it is the topping on the cake to a fun evening. Don't worry they'll never know, just put the bag back like nothing ever happened.

Happy and safe trick or treating everyone!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What Your Kids Can Reveal About You

Kids are great, wonderful, cute, cuddly, and lovable, so can someone tell me how these little people can bring out all the bad traits I have worked so hard to hide? I love my kids to infinity and beyond, but sometimes I feel like they are trying to kill me! Why, why, why do you feel the need to lick out of the dog's water bowl, play in poop, eat crayons, or dump the pee out of your potty? I should add that on any given week, these events could occur all in one day.

However, I know that I am supposed to be the adult, and handle these situations with patience, and kind, encouraging words, but you know what I have discovered, is that I fall short. I know that is sad to admit, but I am a work in progress. When I am trying to cook dinner, while the baby is crying (Side note: I have four boys ages 7, 5, 2, and 9 months, just to paint a vivid picture for you) and my 5 year old is asking me how to spell the same word for the umpteenth time, and that is when my 2 year old decides that he wants to dump out his potty on the carpet; my kind and patient tank is on empty. (Side note: I did not know that umpteenth was really a word).

What I have figured out so far, in this ongoing navigation of the high seas is that I am not perfect. I am okay with that. It is impossible for me to give everyone 100% at all times, I would be a complete wreck (I probably already am since it took me awhile to figure this out). So as moms we have to cut ourselves a little slack; we don't get it right every time. There are going to be times when we have our own mini temper tantrums, but its okay. Just pick yourself up off the floor, and keep it moving. Its okay to scream into the air in frustration sometimes, because guess what we are human. Just remember after you get yourself together, grab your kids give them a hug, and tell them that you love them. Most of the time our kids don't even see our flaws, they think we are the best thing since Mama Rosa's mini pizzas (Side note: those pizzas are goooood!). So if our kids can cut us some slack, let's cut ourselves a little.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

5 Things No One Told You About Sending Your Child To School

5. Lunch Is Expensive! When I was in school lunch was good and it was cheap, needless to  say when the first of my four boys started school I was expecting the same. Wrong! School lunch in our area currently costs a whopping $2.15, now this may not sound outrageous to some, but when you have more than one child this adds up quickly. Let's quickly do the math, once all four of my children start attending school that adds up to $1,548 for an average school year of 180 days. I quickly realized that making lunches was going to be essential to our family not going bankrupt. So every morning (side note: this is much easier if you do this task the night before, I'm just a procrastinator) I pack my two oldest children lunch. Plus school lunch is not what it used to be, so I am actually doing them a huge favor too.

4. Bad Kids. As parents we try our hardest to raise good, decent, rule abiding children, somehow however some kids must slip through the cracks. This may not be a politically correct statement to call other children bad, but I am just being honest. Often times in class there's a spitter, hitter, temper tantrum thrower, etc. If you do not believe me, just sit in your child's elementary school class for a day; it gets real! There is no way to avoid these kids, they are an integral part of the school experience, just teach your children to be leaders and not followers if they see their classmates exhibiting bad behavior. If not anything, it will give them the skills to deal with the not so pleasant adults they will later deal with in the workplace. The game changes, but the players remain the same. Side note: if your child is the spitter, hitter, or temper tantrum thrower, I hope this does not offend you.

3. School Bathrooms Are Nasty. I am not sure if this will really help anyone to know this fact, but it is definitely worth mentioning. There is pee and poop and a very good amount of it does not make it into the toilet, and yes that's just nasty! However, if there is anything that can be taken away from this, it is to make sure you teach your kids good bathroom hygiene at home. Hopefully the extra effort will help them resist the urge to touch that brown smear on the wall. Germs are unavoidable but teaching your child good hygiene should cut down on the amount of nasty stuff your child brings back to your home.

2. Homework Is Actually for Parents. As your children advance in school, the amount of homework they receive increases. This is to be expected, but what no one ever told me is that your child's homework is also your homework. Not to mention the several projects that your child will be assigned. Just giving you a heads up that you will probably be up until midnight the night before making sure that it is perfect, while still trying to make it look like a second grader did it. However, the smile on their face when they are proudly carrying their project into class, more than makes up for the lack of sleep.

1. Communication Is Key. I know that this is a frequently used mantra, but it is essential when your kids start school. School is the one place that we are unable to shield, monitor, or protect our child, so encouraging your child to communicate the details of their day is important. It is important to know when your child had a great day at school, or when something made them upset, sad, or frustrated. Make sure you ask your child about their day as soon as they get home, because the details are fresh in their memory. If your kids are anything like mines, you won't have to ask, they will start rambling about their day as soon as they step foot off of the bus. Also, remember to keep an open line of communication with your child's teacher. Teachers can enlighten you to information about your child that not even you were aware of. (Side note: our kids often act completely different in school than they do at home, you will often be amazed). So teachers can be a great asset for parents, they are the eyes and ears for our child during the hours that we are not there.