Sunday, May 31, 2015

Summer Birthdays: Easy Gift Idea

Lately we've been hittin' up plenty of birthday parties.

Tis' the season.

While at Target a few weeks ago I saw cute sand pails.  For $2.00.

Surrounding the sand pails were sand toys, bubbles, water guns, super bouncy balls, frisbees and every other cheap piece of junk munchkins fancy.

These were all $1.00-$2.00 as well.

It was an aisle full of "stuff" that piles up on our decks and peppers the backyard.  An aisle that appears every spring that makes munchkins go wild.

With munchkin excitement in mind I grabbed two sand pails.  I then loaded my cart with bubbles and bouncy balls.  I threw in disk shooters, bug collecting kits and silly string.

And for $10-$12, I had impressive birthday gifts.
To jazz them up I personalized each sand pail with paint markers.  If you don't have paint markers, I highly suggest investing in some soon.  They are excellent for personalizing homemade gifts and crafts.  They are worth every penny.

Once dry, I secured the gifts with cello.  Another Mommyhood favorite.  Cello could make a pail of paper shreddings classy.

Lastly, I went the extra mile and added sugar.
It's all in the presentation.

Gifts don't have to be expensive.  They have to be fun.  For me these sand pails are lifesavers; they are easy and versatile.

For munchkins who are classmates, I don't have to break the bank.

And for munchkins such as my nephew, a gift card or savings bond is easily attached or added.

A bucket full of fun that will run its course and won't create any long term toy clutter.

A Mommyhood win-win.

*for any long term readers who may have recognized this is a re-post, thanks for reading that long! muah!*

Friday, May 22, 2015

To All the Moms of Babies and Toddlers...

To all the moms of babies and toddlers,

I know what your days look like in between celebrating milestones and blissful baby kisses.  I recognize the foggy brain and how easy it is to misplace your keys.  I know you can’t make a complete sentence some days, and your windows are sticky.  The laundry is piled high and the constant watch over tiny people eating carpet fibers is exhausting.  I know there is no privacy and how badly you want just one freaking minute to relax.

I also know how much you love those tiny monsters wrecking havoc on your figure and your furniture.

I get it.  Not too long ago, I was there too.

I had four babies in eight years.  The nights I slept without being disturbed were like five star vacations.  I remember all those times I felt like I couldn’t get up one more time.  I thought I might keel over and die.  I needed sleep so badly I would steal moments every chance I could get.

And then I would drag my ass off the couch because the sippy cups needed washing and a baby crapped her pants. 

I remember all of this.

And I miss it.

My baby is now almost six, and this is a wonderful age.  But as she grows into new stages I'm closing doors. When she outgrew sippy cups and diapers I knew that was it.  That was all she wrote.  I would not be buying sippy cups anymore and I would not be smelling the scent of a fresh diaper straight from the box.  That preschool graduation was my last, and these days when I pick up her sleeping body it’s almost too heavy to bring to her bed.  Another ten pounds and only her dad will be able to carry her to her room when she falls asleep on the couch.

I miss sleepy faces and wet, slobbery kisses.  I miss crunchy diaper butts and tiny arms reaching out from the crib to be picked up after a nap.  My kids reach for me much more subtly now, and unless I’m paying very close attention I miss it.  I have to know when to talk, when to listen and when to just hug.  It’s a daily roller coaster.

Parenting tweens and teens involves much more than nap schedules and picking up Legos.  There is so much guesswork it’s enough to make one day the best ever and the next a complete nightmare.  You pray constantly you are giving good advice and making good judgements of character. 

Undesirable friends are not obvious anymore.  They don’t throw sand and pull hair.  They are much harder to navigate, and teaching your kids they aren’t worth the trouble is near impossible.  There are nights I pray that my kids know how special they are, because I see so many that are struggling. 

As your children grow, the magnitude of their troubles does as well.  But your relationship deepens and you discover more about them and yourself on a daily basis.

Yesterday I was walking into the Dollar General and the car next to mine was running with a man in the driver’s seat.  I wondered why he was just sitting in the car, windows up on a gorgeous day with the car running. 

And then I saw the sleeping toddler in the carseat, and I realized mom must be inside shopping.  I instantly felt a pang in my heart, because my kids don’t fall asleep in carseats anymore.   I don’t even have carseats in my van.  I have one booster seat and baseball bags.  I have a basketball that rolls around the floor and old juice pouches and water bottles. 

Moms of little ones, I know you’re tired.  I know you want to scream. 


Enjoy it, because in a few short years, you won’t be wiping sticky faces and finding bags for poopy diapers.  You’ll be monitoring phones and buying dress clothes for the school dance.  You’ll be sleeping full nights and loving those rare occurrences when a child wakes you up because of a bad dream. 

I pull my kids right into bed even though they kick and roll and grind their teeth.  Hubby wants to move them but I don’t let him.  I need any moment I can get, because the years are rolling by.

Keep your kids young as long as possible.  Keep them off phones and electronics, because the toys are quickly forgotten when a screen is available.  Social media is not for young minds, and I have seen more arguments and hurt feelings from it than anything else.  Let your kids be kids, and remind them not every event and feeling is meant for sharing.

The less they do online the less heartache they will have.  I promise.  One of the best decisions I have made is keeping my tween daughter off of Instagram, Facebook and whatever else is out there.  Her armor isn’t quite strong enough, and we have dodged many social media bullets.

Most importantly, if nothing else I say sticks with you, never stop hugging your kids.  Ever.  Make those hugs mandatory, because you never know when your son or daughter will hang on a little longer.  That’s when you know they need you most.

I'm not trying to scare you, because there is magic in the elementary, pre-teen and teen years.  The accomplishments are big, the baseball games get exciting and you can actually have real conversations.  You start to see who your kids will become, and all of it is beyond rewarding.  

It's magic.  It really is.

Today, precious mamas, stock up on the wet ones and enjoy the ride.  You’re doing very important work, and even thought the days are long, the years are very, very short.

Hug those babies,


Thursday, May 21, 2015

On the Run with Kellogg's (+ $100 Giftcard Giveaway!)

I’m a mom of four.  And I’m waist deep in my busy season.
Truthfully every season is a busy season.  But I feel the biggest crunch during football season and baseball season, with baseball season squeezing my calendar the tightest.  Between practices and at least two games a week, times 2 boys, plus gymnastics four days a week, my head is in a permanent spin.  I can’t function without my planner and I can’t even think past a week in advance. 
With all the running, we’re eating many dinners on the go, and we’re packing dozens of snacks.  I have had many mornings that I served breakfast in a cup on the way to gymnastics or dinner on the way to a game.  A cup is perfect because it doesn't spill the food, and my kids can hold it easily.  I've squeezed ketchup in the bottom and added nuggets, I've poured syrup in the bottom and folded in waffles.  I've served butter noodles, cut up meatballs and oatmeal all in a cup.  And of course, I can’t forget my most convenient disposable cup snack: dry cereal.
A disposable cup is the easiest method of on-the-go snacking.  I've lived it firsthand.  Bowls are so over-rated.
Kellogg's must have read my mommy mind, because they now sell Cereal In A Cup.  While it’s easy to pour cereal in a cup and go, these pre-packaged cereal cups make life even easier on all us moms.  It’s as easy as grabbing one and tossing it into your purse; no spilling or worries about zip close baggies.  They are even perfect for the athletic bags and camp lunches.  These little beauties are the perfect snack for just about any time of day or night.
This summer, when my schedule is a little less hectic, I’ll still be loving Cereal In A Cup.  I’m a “bring your own and save money” mom, so car rides and lake trips involve packing our own snacks and drinks.  Kellogg's has my back on this one, because one Cereal In A Cup four pack feeds my four munchkins.  They each get one, and we are on our way. 
Every trip to the grocery store involves finding quick and easy snacks for my kids that aren't complete garbage.  Cereal In A Cup is now a must-have, because my kids love it and it's convenient.  I'm a sucker for convenience. I'm sucker for these faces too.
For more information on Kellogg's Cereal In A Cup, check out Walmart's make the most of summer page:
How are you #MakingTheMostOfSummer? Leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win a $100 Walmart gift card!
Entry Instructions:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 5/21/15 – 6/16/15.
Be sure to visit the Kellogg’s brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Everybody. Love. Everybody.

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a while.  I just haven’t settled down long enough to get myself together. 

Always the same story over here.

My sister moved in about six weeks ago.  She’s eight years younger than me and still starting her adult life, and she accepted a position near our house.  Having her has been a pleasure.  She’s messy but loving, clueless yet helpful.  Most importantly, she has the patience of a saint.  Basically she’s a great mix of just about everything and we are rolling along wonderfully.

At one of my son’s baseball games recently, she arrived a little later than me.  She came over to the bleachers and sat down.  We were chatting and carrying on, and after a few minutes I got up and walked over to my Hubby to tell him something. 

After I left, another parent came back to the bleachers and walked up to my sister.  She said, “I was sitting here before.”  My sister is like me, happy and completely unaware most times.  She assumed the lady left something behind. 

“Did you leave something?”  My sister asked.

“No.  I was sitting here. You are in my seat.  Do you see those things underneath you?  Those are mine because I was sitting here.”

This took my sister by surprise, because she didn’t know this lady had been sitting there.  She didn’t move any of this mother’s belongings or do anything malicious.  Yet this person, who I am told is actually quite kind, approached my sister in a manner that accused her of doing those things. 

And when my sister looked dumbfounded (because she was) the mother responded to her rudely.

This is my answer to this.  It’s our family motto:  E.L.E.


Everybody Love Everybody.

In all situations, we need to respond with kindness.  This story about my sister is small potatoes.  But it happens every day, all the time.  We assume someone moved our stuff.  We read a text wrong.  We jump to conclusions regarding actions, words and things we hear. 

We get snappy.

We respond rudely to people who really have no freakin’ idea what the problem is.  Here is my solution.  LOVE EVERYBODY.

It works.

You don’t have to be friends with everyone, you don’t have to do favors or bend over backwards for everyone you know or meet.  But you can, always, respond with kindness.  Just love.  You don't have to make issues and make problems.  Even if you're annoyed, you can't assume the other person is purposefully doing something to agitate you,  And even if they are, is it worth the trouble?
We use this motto, “E.L.E.” all the time.  If one of my kids is telling a story that involves kids being rude, we remind them E.L.E.  If my kids start with a story about a kid who is annoying or strange, it’s E.L.E. I'll be honest, kids can be cruel.  Even mine. I'll be the first to admit they make mistakes, and I do too.  Which is why this is such a great reminder on how to behave. 

My goodness wouldn’t the world be fabulous if everyone’s first reaction to everything was with love?  Imagine what a different place this would be.  Kill people with kindness. All day long.

You don’t have to be their best friend, you don’t have to agree with what everyone is doing or how they are living their lives.  But you can spread love.  Have you ever tried to be mean to someone is so incredibly nice?

It’s really hard.

And it should be. 

Happy Monday.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Being Mom

I'm late to the Mother's Day posting.  I've been so busy being a mom I forgot to post something meaningful and thought provoking.  I'm so overwhelmed working, lunch packing, homework helping, kitchen cleaning, baseball driving, carpool juggling and laundry washing that I have once again missed out on a blogging opportunity.


(Balls has replaced f*ck because my munchkins have implemented a swear chart. And now all day I'm tossing "Balls!" around as an expletive.  It works.)

Back to my original intended post.  Moms.

I have a serious passion in my heart for being a mother.  I can't remember myself before I became a mother almost 14 years ago.  I feel like a new page was turned and everything that happened before that day was "Part 1" of a life story.

I have been living in "Part 2" for over a decade.  And truthfully I can't imagine myself anywhere else.  My kids light my world; raising them is my passion, my life's work.  I am certain of this.  Everything I do I do for my kids, and I am not ashamed or concerned that maybe I am lame for not having a bigger purpose.

There is no bigger purpose.  NONE.  I brought four tiny humans into this world and every ounce of my being is consumed with loving them.  My heart and days are full because of them.  I am thankful because even though this is a freaking exhausting, thankless job some days, I am forever changed because of my kids.  I am self-less, and I can say with certainty there is no other person on this planet that understands what I am saying better than another mom.

There was a time I thought about myself.  I worried about crap that today I wouldn't even blink my eyes over.  Being a mother has showed me what is important, what is worth worrying about and what is worth my energy.

And it's a lot less than I ever imagined was possible 14 years ago.

As much as I do for my kids, they do more for me.  They have showed me how to laugh and be young again.  How to slow down and the importance of a good snuggle.  They have opened my heart and my soul and jumped inside, and I am forever changed. 

Our most important work is going to be who we send into the world, and this work doesn't come with a paycheck. But it does come with more happiness and love than money could ever buy. 

Cheers to all the Mamas.  Keep marching.  Keep wearing mom clothes and ignoring that much needed manicure.  There's important work to be done, and one day we will have more than enough time to get that mani/pedi.  We may even be sane enough to remember we have coupons clipped in our purse for the items we're buying.

One day, we will have our sh*t together.  These days?  It's all about giving my kids what they need and finding solace in my wonderful mom friends who "get it."  It's about breathing through chaos and watching the little moments, like watching our kid learn to swim, be the big moments.

Whether we work full time, part time, or we stay home with our kids, we are all united in being mamas.  And we do what we need to survive the journey.  Hugs to all of us.

Happy Mother's Day.  Stay awesome Mamas.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Incredible Lemon: 7 Household Uses You Need to Know

The wonder of the lemon.  It’s something I never thought about until recently.

While browsing online for all natural face mask materials, I came across a very simple recipe for a lemon and honey mask.  The recipe mentioned how the vitamin C would brighten my skin, and I started to wonder what else this amazing fruit can do.  I love finding easy and affordable ways to cut back on toxins in my home, and along with Borax, Baking Soda, Vinegar and toothpaste I’m adding lemons to my household necessities.
I already use lemon in my water (when I remember) and to keep apple slices from browning, but I searched and there are many wonderful ways to utilize a lemon.
Below I am listing 7 of my favorites.    

1.        Nails
After a day pulling weeds or dying Easter eggs my nails look like something out of a horror film.  Recently I tried soaking my fingertips in a mixture of lemon juice and water.  Just a few minutes was enough to brighten my nail beds and remove grime.
Soak even longer to remove spots and nasty stains.
2.       Keep Produce from Browning
I have used this trick for several years.  My kids love apple slices, but are not fans of browned apple slices.   I don’t like the price of bagged apple slices.  I needed a happy medium.
The citrus in the lemon keeps produce from browning, and it doesn’t alter the taste.  I slice apples, sprinkle lemon juice on them, and my kids open their lunches to normal looking apple slices they’ll actually eat.
3.       Cleaning
Lemon water with a little salt is a fabulous cleaner for barbeque grills and the grates.  Lemon water can also remove smells and stains in Tupperware.  We’ve all saved spaghetti and suffered through the eternal smell of sauce in those grimy orange containers.  Suffer no more.  Tupperware stays clean and stink free with a little lemon soak.
I love not using harsh cleaners where my family’s food is prepared or saved.
4.       Brighten Whites
A cup of lemon added to a load of whites will brighten and clean just as well as bleach.  And it smells better.
5.       Sore Throat Soother
I’ve used this one many a times.  Add some lemon to hot water and sip for a sore throat.  The lemon will soothe the throat and also help rid the mouth of bacteria.
6.       The Face Mask
Mixing lemon and honey is a fabulous face mask.  Organic ingredients are of course preferred, but not necessary .  The vitamin C brightens your complexion (and helps lighten spots) and the honey is a moisturizer and acne preventer.  Try ½ cup lemon water and 1 tbsp raw honey.
Spread on face and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes, rinse and pat dry.
7.        Natural Wood Polish
A great chemical free polish for your wood is 1 cup olive oil and ½ cup lemon juice.  Cleans and shines, and no harsh ingredients.
Share your uses for lemons in the comments section, I’d love to hear them!
*This post is intended to informational purposes only.  Trying any of these uses for lemon is at your own risk*