Saturday, December 20, 2014

On the List

"A COMPUTER?!" Santa repeats, his voice booming with slight belief over the perfectly white walls prepared just for this event as our son justifies his wish at a decibal only a FBI agent could pick up with special tools.

I'm not sure what the little one asked for but I'm certain it had something to do with food.

So yes, the Big wants a computer for typing and a fort. Already having heard the wish of a computer the month before despite flipping through hours of ads of shiny new toys, we were lucky to find the grandparents were ready to part with their laptop, the perfect gateway into typing for a Kindergartner. Does it have a mouse and Word? Check. Check. Oh and in pristine condition along with its original box? Even better. See, there IS a reason Mom keeps all those boxes and instructions...

Now the fort, that's another story. True if I was one of those fabulous moms that shopped for the perfect sized sheets and hardware and made blueprints to rig up the ideal hideaway, this would be a breeze, but instead I'm the type of parent who shops on Amazon. Thanks to our awesome friends who gave the Big an army fort for his birthday, I knew there was a market and wa-la, this little number showed up on our front door. Move over, Pinterest.

In addition to his Santa stash, we're bringing it back old school style with a Spirograph and Light Brite. Fun for everyone, huh? In complete disclosure, we got him through a Children's Mercy visit the other day by letting him open one early. Ahem - the Spirograph is a huge hit. And don't forget his favorite late night reading: an encyclopedia.

And though the little one will only be enamored with whatever his brother gets, where the elf is and the tissue paper, he will find a Scuttlebug, pop-up toy, stuffed dog and some Go Go action gear under the tree.
The Mister has the Ninja blender something or under on his wish list (he turns up the volume when the infomercial is on to make a point), a GoPro, some fancy coffee maker, a Fuji camera that costs more than our mortgage and a variety of other items that require a small loan. Gah knows what we can pull off here, but he certainly deserves it.

The parents are very finicky and request nothing or simply return it. Easy enough?! Dad desires a FitBit and luckily my MIL is a woman who knows what she wants (smart TV and some warming items), so is easy to shop for. DIL only requests a family pic, brother wants some headphones, and SIL adores almost anything you snag her. Done and done.
As usual, my list is a mile along and features a diversity of items in various price ranges, from anything from R&F anti-aging products (hello-I am turning 35 soon), to perfume, workout gear, mommy-worship items, to anything with a monogram. The more surprising, the better!

There's a few days left - what's under your tree and share your wishes this year!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Crazy for Ol' Navy

They're back at it, with darling stuff at next to nothing:

Some bright fair aisle for celebrating the holidays
Some sassy leggings for under a long tee or LBD

Comfy vest that also keeps you warm

Soft sleepwear for your lady of leisure moments

Pixie pants to modernize any top - pair with flats or heels

A sweater almost so ugly it's cute - and comfy
Workout gear you can sweat in time and time again
Some of these items came home in a plastic sack at just six dollars! And none of the above were more than $20. So if ensems are on your list for next week, whether it's for that family photo or stuffing yourself on Christmas ham, swing on in to your nearest location. I can almost guarantee you'll find a few items there that will make you crazy for Old Navy!

Monday Momfessions: December 15 Week

Before you ask, I have no idea where I've been the last two weeks. Can I use the excuse I'm a mother of two boys five and under and just started a new job? Please?! Anyhoo, here's what's been going on in our largely imperfect but kind of awesome household:

1. The Little calls me "MIKE!". Not just Mike, but "MAYEK!" In even sadder news, he calls my mother-in-law's gremlin looking dog "mama."

2. Since December 1, each morning begins with: "SH*T: did YOU move the elf?!" followed by lots of fumbling and weird excuses to return a child to his bedroom while the other parent awkwardly scrambles to make up excuses and move the damn thing. The concept is genius in managing behaviors over the magical month, but creates a new layer of stress for the family barely making it day by day anyway. Oh, Shelfton. How I love and loathe you.

3. When the Little eats, he does it with gumption. I'm talking hand raises, chair dances and all out moans of delight. We keep trying to catch it on tape, but he turns into a possum each time we try. A small gathering of strangers literally stopped to watch his eating show the other day. I tried to charge them for autographs, but they weren't buyin'...

4. The Big has started randomly cursing in context. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

5. The Little one has learned to escape his diapers. Although teensy round cheeks are adorable, cleaning rugs is not. Our animals aren't even doing that to us yet. Keep it on your bits, champ. He's also developed a habit of perching his hand in the back of his diaper (similar to the guys' frontal resting spot), which can at times result in some not so clean hands. This is worse than nail biting, people and I don't think they make any fancy marketing items to break this.

6. Last week's Mix 93 morning show interviewed listeners for their gross and weird habits. If I had gotten through, Rocket may have been disgusted to know that I must fetch all boogers from kids noses. It doesn't even matter if I know the child. And not the icky sticky kinds, but bats in the cave. Neither child is ever going to forgive me for this and may already be dodging my hugs thinking I'm going in for one.

7. I think building forts is kind of hard. Especially when a certain five year old has so many rules. I literally purchased a fort making kit from Amazon the other day. But you know how I am with directions, so this too could go down fast...

8. Another kindergartener taught mine that you are to kiss your parents long and hard on the lips. In providing instruction that parents were more of the pecking kind (while I was wiping off from the surprise attack), I had one of those moments that goes "ISN'T THERE A BOOK FOR THIS? OR WHERE IS YOUR FATHER?"

9. I've converted both boys into Swifties. Hit the west side if you want to attend one of our dance parties or get a solo karaoke performance of "Shake It Off" by Lawson.

10. This may be too deep for the Monday thing, but I'm not doing anything well these days. Especially for the kiddos. There's far less playing, far more trying to keep up with it all and exhaustion all around. Gotta turn this ship around.

So what shenanigans are happening in your home, my mommy friend?

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Boy and His Keyboard

Happy birthday lawsoni
Ilove you
I play with my friendsiamarockstar
I play with my brother
Iam   awesome
My brotheris awesome
Iam cool
Iam big
But  my brother is little
And I ambig
I love my brothersomuch
I lovemymom
I love my poop

One can only imagine what he'll come up with next on his typing adventures if Santa really does bring that laptop, huh?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Loving Liam

"I don't understand it. Why does everything with him have to be so...hard?" I asked of my girlfriend, tears pooling in the corner of my lids as my voice choked out the words, laced with incredible amounts of guilt.

It was one of far too many conversations I'd been having with loved ones lately, contemplating better ways to parent, strategies for wrangling a strong-willed child and how to get back to appreciation vs. frustration, fatigue and misunderstanding. This was a new place for me, and I didn't like it. For me. For him. For our love. For our relationship. The stories I told, the words used to describe his behaviors and the frequency in which I turned into a mom I hardly even knew weighed heavy on my heart. It was time to turn it around.

All 10 pounds of Liam came screaming into this world and for more than three months, never stopped. For nearly 12 hours a day he was cradled in colic, his dairy allergy still undiscovered married with the mystery that is the "disease." Today, with 19 months under his belt, the hours of unrest are far fewer, but still more frequent than the average. Half toddler behavior, part of what he's born with and a portion of growing into his own, he's finding his voice through aggressive movements, loud screams, significant tantrums, using only the word "no," and fighting every battle and bribe that's available. By definition, he's a strong willed child. He's hard. He's a fighter. He's tough. He's a lot of blood, sweat and tears. He's shocking. At times impossible. And even trickier: he's smart with it all. The examples and routines we run through daily to illustrate this are endless. Please join me and my friend A in our texting war regarding what our toddler is crying about to learn more...

But you know what else he is?

Absolutely charming. A momma's boy. An incredible sleeper. A learner. A smiler. A bright-eyed, handsome little one. A kiddo with a million, gut-splitting hilarious expressions. A dancer and fan of music. HEALTHY. Growing. Surprising us with little miracles daily. A lover of running through the halls in his fast shoes. Curious. Bright. An adoring brother. A big fan of eating and milk drinking. A dog advocate. A friend. An excellent high fiver. An avoid book reader, complete with counting anything he can among the pages. In fractions of seconds, a warm snuggler. Fearless. Trusting. Able to hold his own with the big kids. A baller. A joyous screecher. A strutter. An entertainer. A picker-upper. A lover.

In short: he's awesome.

And he's my boy.

And I wouldn't change him for anything.

So go ahead, momma. Whether you have a "strong-willed" one or not, be real about it. This stuff ain't easy. And you don't always have to be grateful or think about how quickly it will all go. Sometimes, it just plain sucks. And that's ok.

And then there's those moments where suddenly all the junk in between no longer matters. The first time he says "I wuv you," (today!), when he masters the stairs, the moment he seeks your tall legs for comfort, the quiet of evenings with just you, the faux stars above and a book, the look and squeal he gives you when you walk in the door and all the other magic in between. THAT'S the space I'm going to work harder to live in. Frolic in. Cherish in. And the rest? I'm going to work harder to love it too.

Because I love you, Liam, for all you are and all you're meant to be. May you feel that in every inch of your soul. I will carry you. Stand up for you. Fight for you. Sweat for you. Embrace you. Try to understand you. And love you. Unconditionally. For I can't think of anything else that's more important than this, for you...

I love you and am thankful for every last inch of you.

Children embody what is best in life. They live in the present moment. They are part of its exquisite bloom. They are pure potentiality, embodying vitality, emergence, renewal and hope. They are purely what they are. And they share that vital nature with us all and call it out of us as well, if we can listen carefully to the calling.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'...

"Wait, what?! You’re on that one,” my husband firmly stated, clutching a colorful invitation stamped with a large roller skate. Visions of slow jams, backward gliding, neon lights and terrible carpet flashed before my eyes. That feeling of exhilaration from a song dedication, holding a boys’ hand for 10 seconds, and giggling with girlfriends while you compared skate poms flashed through my head. And with that, I said:

“I’m in.”
For these great inventions, yet another genius use for PVC pipe.

Before the big day, most of our car rides consisted of a zillion questions, ranging from the difference between roller and ice skates, what the floor was like, how hard the task was and my plans to be engaged with the event. For me, there were inquiries also, like: “how the hell will I survive this 100 pounds larger and 15+ years less coordinated?!” Needless to say the anticipation of THE FIRST SKATE PARTY was in full effect.

Entering the non-descript door, the smell of carnival food, warm bodies, and plastic prizes greeted us. Immediately transported to the 80’s/90’s, the patterned carpet met my vision, the brown skates with orange wheels exactly as I remembered and a crew of workers that looked like they could have been the same as the ones I once feared for skating through the middle at the Omaha rink. In short, it was a weird version of awesomeness.
Big L was immediately on the move, ready to take on the feat, growling at me for the pace of tying up his skates, then immediately trying to find his footing as they slipped from beneath him time and time again. Not knowing if his heel had even made it into the skate, I tried my own legs with the four wheels beneath, finding it surprisingly familiar but more painful than what I remembered when I was 12. And with that…

We were off.
Then we were back…

And thank goodness Big L wanted to use it for a crutch, because gah knows mama needed it too.
From there it was a blend of determination, groin-splitting falls, lots of laughter, keeping up with the competition (aka his classmates in attendance), rescue missions, cruising, sweat and tears.

At the point I was dismissed because “he doesn’t need me and can do it on his own” (knife to the heart), I contemplated the following learnings regarding this skating soiree:

1.     There are muscles, tendons and gah knows what else in your rear and feet you never knew you had, that can be discovered with skating.
2.     The theme music will longer be Madonna or Chicago, but rather tunes that remind you of Kim K’s latest photo shoot. You may also have a long pause when you discover your child may know Gangnam style song, including the moves, along with Megan Trainer’s “All About that Bass.”
3.     I wished I had once again invented the simple PVC pipe puzzle pieces with wheels on them.
4.     Serving as the rink DJ may have to go on my list of “worst jobs ever” list.
5.     Scratch that: the skate distribution and cleanup guy is the worst job ever.
6.     Speaking of guys – who was that one hot one working there and why?!
7.     This activity is not for the weak of heart. Or core. Or legs. Or arms for that matter.
8.     Proper attire is acquired: the stretchy tank, loose sweater and crack baring jeans (not by choice, but by fit) were NOT the answer.
9.     Stopping is not a learned skill – it must be practiced. Or improvised.
10.  There is still a place for glow accessories. The rink is one of them. Fourth of July and Kenny concerts are another.
I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Needless to say, it was a memorable afternoon and an activity I’d do with my Big again. In fact, he’s got LW on the list to ask this weekend. We’ll see if her Mom is yet recovered…

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ – a throwback activity good for the whole family.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why My Toddler is Crying

"Get this one: my toddler is crying because I gently picked a piece of lint off his back," my girlfriend said, taking her turn on our weekly banter on why our near two year old sons were on the brink of meltdowns.

Here's a look at today's submission from our household:
He's crying because he'd also like to lay in the dog kennel.

Shame on me for considering that this would be the moment our neighbor or DFS would come by, even though he'd likely be happier doing this than surrounded by toys in his very own playroom.

Other events from this week include: irritated he couldn't sleep UNDER his crib, the fact I was trying to apply jeans, that his brother looked at him with a half-smile from 30 feet away and that we were serving applesauce at dinner. Oh - and that I didn't wear the red shoes on his asking.

So,what's your toddler frustrated with today?

Be Fun. Be Well. At Work!

“This is awesome…just what I was hoping for in a new culture!” I exclaimed as I rolled sticky play-dough through my palms, the green tinting my freshly painted nails.

It was the start of Mental Health Wellness Week, the perfect time for behavioral health companies like our own to practice what they preach. And so we did with:

Monday: MOVE
Employees were asked to submit pictures of how they move their bodies during the week to keep their minds healthy. And although chasing a toddler and working to avoid screeching at the top of my lungs at times may not be the healthiest of choices, I forwarded this little fella:

Winners announced Monday, but I’m hopeful this is a creative twist from the treadmill pics submitted.

Tuesday: PLAY
Colleagues arrived at work to find a colorful tub of delight placed at their keyboards with the directive to partner with their teams and photograph their works of art. The results were incredible! Our team was yearning for warmer temps and a break from the norm, so went with the beach theme:

Wednesday: THANK
“Someone forgot to sign this card for me!” my cube mate replied, confused by the blank note that shouted “thank you” on the front. An email was quick to follow, asking employees to send some words of appreciation, unsigned to a pal within the building to be distributed by end of week. With all the support and awesomeness experienced in my first 20 days, it was a tough call on who to thank, but a fun exercise nonetheless.

Thursday: LAUGH
Given laughter is the best medicine, a video was streamed to employees featuring the senior leaders on why working in behavioral health is awesome. Just like the movies, the outtakes were the best and was a nice insight to the head honchos’ personalities.

Though the eve of the weekend is not yet here, a cookie contest and white elephant exchange is on the books. I’ll be whipping up those delicious
Oreo Blondies disguised as cookies to see if they stand a chance. And Magic Mike’s glowing gloves from a Halloween costume two years ago will make it into the elephant exchange pile.
It was fun. It made me feel well. And all at a work. Awesome!

Wishing you wellness at work, home and everything in between!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Monday Momfessions: November 10 Week

"That Moment" Issue

1. That moment when you realize you're the only parent who dressed up on Halloween and showed up as such at the school party. #anythingforthekids

2. That moment when you realize those parents that put their kids on leashes may be on to something.

3. That moment you have to call the school director and ask if your children have been picked up yet due to your awesome communication skills with your spouse.

4. That moment when your son decides to plant one on a friend's kisser while all the parents watch from the soccer sidelines. Two hands like the romance movies and all.

5. That moment when you go ahead and announce to the entire Panera restaurant that you are sorry for your child's behavior and decide to leave a tip for whoever may be scarred nearby given the lack of servers.

6.  That moment when you find yourself straddling the park slide to accommodate the stuck five year old and eager 18 month old. That next moment when your realize you're still in your work dress of the day.

7. That moment when the 11 minutes of whining regarding thirst finally gives into handing over your Tervis Tumbler. The one that's been in your car for four days. Of note: there's was water in it. Of note 2: it never hurts to sniff first.

8. That moment when a new co-worker asks about your children and you find yourself listing the youngest as "hell on wheels."

9. That moment where you first bail on date night, then bail on family night, only to bail into your bed by 7:45 p.m. out of shear exhaustion. The next moment when you awake and remind your husband that he has to take both children to the dentist, the youngest for the first time, and begin to think your husband may just bail on the marriage at this point.

10. That moment when you start a new job and both children get sick on different days. The next moment when you forget to tell the teachers the side effects of the medicine and they call said new work with an extreme concern about the contents of the Little's diapers.

What's been your moment this week, parents?

They Were Right About Those!

"So then, just rub the top of your nail for a bit and wa-la - a beautiful, natural set of nails you don't have to wait to dry!" the sales gal says, her own set of snazzy digits gleaming in the show lights.

It was toward the end of the Holiday Boutique lineup, and after some sustenance and story swapping, my shopping buddy and I were still going strong. Currently we were at the Jamberry Nails booth, delighting in all of the unique patterns, doing ok with the price, but questioning our motivation to actually do the cuts to our own. That and my tiny man hands require the junior designs, which as you can imagine are closer to "Frozen" themes than iKat. Regardless, they were a great find...perfect to tap into your own creativity and expression ofself through your fingertips and an awesome stocking stuffer for any female on your holiday list.

Among the dozens of fabulous booths we stumbled upon, there was also the Younique stop, that rockin' mascara you've seen all over Facebook, been invited to a houe party by a friend or seen on the latest style blogs. And though the gal working couldn't define the "shtick" nor offer a sample, I went on a whim, trusting my even most cynical friends and found the promise of no clumping and 300% longer lashes to be true. Yay! And at a decent price point and in a darling case with a built in rep - sure, why not?!

Finally, Oragami Owl was in attendance as well, making it nearly a one-stop shopping extravaganza for those on my Christmas list. Plus a lanyard for my new job to boot.

So kudos to Holiday Mart and Holiday Boutique for hosting these home businesses and mainstreaming them for the lazier and harder to commit, have to see it in person types. We love it!

Related: Holiday Boutique was almost as fantastico as Holiday Mart, crossing off half my list with ponchos, wild leggings, personalized magnetic boards, that fabulous olive oil dip and more.

Catch it next year if you can! And believe your friends if they offer you one of these awesome products or invite you to a party. They're a pretty fabulous splurge for you or yours!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Starting Over Checklist

"Sweet heezus, of course you googled 'how to be at your best in your first week of work,' my husband said, a grin and chuckle of should be disbelief but I already know you well enough escaping from his mouth.

This week marked the first of starting in a new company after 10 comfortable, familiar, love-filled years at the same one. A career built fresh out of college to now a mother of two. A place that houses some of my lifelong friends, familiar politics, more perks than you can shake a stick at and a pretty sweet gig.

Needless to say, starting over is nerve wracking.

Perhaps Thursday was a little late to start web searching for how to be successful week one when the start date had been Monday, but nonetheless it was an exercise of measurement so far. And I was please to find I was on par with most tips:

1. Build relationships early: be friendly, smile, meet as many people as you can and open up your little heart and soul (appropriately). Listen. Reciprocate. Share. That and offer candy at your desk. CHECK

2. Learn the neighborhood haunts: know your drugstore, soda run spots and where to hit up for lunch. Given I lived just 10 blocks from the place in my previous life...CHECK.

3. Connect with your old colleagues in a new way and let them know you're thinking of them. Suggestions included updating your LinkedIn and scheduling some "play dates." This may have included picture and text messages like crazy as well. CHECK

4. Be yourself...but lay low. Give what you got, but don't go trying to change the world all at once, Miss Know It All. Biting my tongue and benefitting learning from others, but...CHECK.

5. Get familiar with your team: learn about their background, what makes them tick and their roles. Try to assimilate and help them anyway you can without stepping on toes. Bond. CHECK

6. Learn the coffee station: for me this was about water and ice, but knowing where that, the bathrooms, supplies and printers are make for an easier transition. That and the day in advance warning of that fire drill tomorrow! Of note: bring my own Kleenex. CHECK

7. Strut your skills...but don't overdo it: prove you were worth hiring, without being overconfident, violating cultural norms or stepping on toes.

8. Set expectations early: don't be afraid to ask the hard questions or share where your priorities are if you're truly willing to be flexible, work hard and get the job done. Within three days, we moved a trip to NYC so I could meet the needs of my asking! Reciprocate this with your boss and team - ask what they expect from you, hot buttons and their needs and work your best to meet them.

If I had to add to this list, I think the last four days have taught me that transitioning with some experience under your belt and by choice is much more comfortable than not, giving you a bit more confidence and ease to be yourself and deliver the best you can. Give it time. Find peace and balance. Continue to trust your gut. Do your best. Give yourself some grace. Learn the business. Contribute where you can. Be fearless. Take breaks to smell the fresh air. Stretch your perspective. Mourn. Be curious. Be helpful. Be kind. Don't compare. Lean on your loved ones. Don't second guess. Just be for a bit. In this new awesomeness. In this new way. Smile, nod, soak in, learn, build, thrive. And don't blink when you have the most flair dress and desk wise already. You're a colorful personality and they (ok, some)  knew it. It's ok! Maybe it's even what they wanted.

Thanks to Business Insider for this easy to retain list (ok, maybe I picked it because it affirmed I was on the right track) and big hugs and high fives to any of you going through a significant change.

Hour at a time, smile at a time, experience at a time -I'm with ya.

Cheers to the journey ahead!

It's Time

That's right, it's time! You've stowed the pumpkins, gourds and whimsical wheat away and are already furiously plotting your Thanksgiving menu and Christmas decor. Which means, of course, that 2015 is right around the corner, which calls for none other than:

The MomAgenda.

Yeah, yeah - it's 2014 and everyone has all their trendy data in their iPhones, but this girl still has an attachment (maybe a disorder?!) to crossing things off with a purple gel pen. And nothing is more gratifying for we list makers than having a column for each child, large space for our to-dos and evening obligations, gift logs, vacation plans (ha!), financial planning and more.

So don't forget to snatch yours up before this disappear this year! Kansas Citians: your regular stops aren't getting them in stock, so make mom your friend.

And maybe score the animal print. Pretty fancy, huh?

Happy planning!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pumpkins With a Twist

I know, I know...Halloween is like, two hours away or something like that. But hey, that's how some moms between two jobs with harried houses and lack of sleep operate, yes?!. And you can still make it work! For example, we are assigned cheese for tomorrow's class parties and *wala!*

Kraft slices pumpkin style. I'm sure they'd be even more adorable with raisin eyes and a jack-o-lantern mouth, but we parents have a rule at going Pinterest and creating competition. We're all just surviving here people.

Secondly, with two kiddos with food allergies, we are participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year:

Thanks to our bestest neighbors, we have a metallic teal pumpkin at our door and a sign indicating we have non-food treats available for the trick-or-treaters who can't have many of the goodies but sill want to participate in the Halloween fun. Learn more and support these families by visiting the food allergy site.

Other than that, the costumes have been laid out (uncertain if all pieces included), buckets ready to roll and candy secured.

Let's do this Halloween.

Tricks and treats to you and yours!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yum, Yum, Gimme...Lots

"Seriously - they were TO DIE," my husband said, sounding remarkably like me and my girlfriends with his antics. He handed over a tiny slip of paper that contained 5 point font with the following inscribed:

With just 30 minutes needed to prepare these suckers from start to out of the oven, these doozies have been to a campfire, work event, school and a watch party. And for once, the hubby is right. They are to die for!

So pin this bad boy and whip it up this weekend. You can thank me later, just as I've been thanking K since it hit our countertop. The waist of my pants? Not so much. But hey - it's fall. Yolo.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Momfessions: Oct. 20 Week

1. Of note: Mexican jumping beans are a horrible souvenir to bring home to the children. Those things are friggin' annoying and can still be scavenged out of the trash due to their obnoxious sound by your wiser one.

2. The Little has mastered a death stare. I mean a straight up, sleep-with-one-open look that even caused my knees to wobble a bit. And I already partially raised one son. Oye.

3. It's official: children and husbands only start melting down and becoming extremely ill when Mommy is a six-hour plane ride away. Receiving this text during the prescription pick up does not instill confidence in how things are going, even when listed as "fine": "Jesus Christ. Lawson just locked himself in the bathroom at Target. We are a mess! Please hurry home!"

4. When raising a small destroyer such as ours, it's imperative to have extra budget money allotted to "other's items he WILL ruin." This may include things as chairs he tips and breaks in half, Spiderman balls he tosses into the bonfire and Nerf devices he snaps in half with his odd bear strength. While building up this fund, also consider a shirt in your size and his that just say "I'm so sorry."

5. A child that learns to buckle his own seat belt calls for a party. I'll bring the beer.

6. Don't feel guilty if your second child is not featured in family photos for a few years. A) He won't know for awhile, even if you do think that blank stare means he does B) you'll spend three hours preparing for it to potentially get one shot where one isn't falling off a rock, slapping his brother or removing his shoes. C) You'll be sweating trying to manage it all before the shoot even begins. Powder up, mama.

7. As usual, all things can be solved with food bribes. Flu shots, family pictures, going to school on a Monday, completing homework and stopping the tears. Just do it.

8. There will never be more excitement about a plane in the sky or an emergency vehicle passing than that of a 17-month old that can shout and form his mouth in the perfect surprised "O." Every.time.

9. The Little is still on a restaurant ban. Just ask the kind patrons of Panera on 119th street. Also the opportune time to wear one of those "I'm so sorry" tees.

10. There may be a point where "old lady" and "old man" become terms of endearment for your five year old and you just won't know what to do about. I don't even have the energy to explain anymore. Maybe he identifies with them because he's now obsessed with Yahtzee...

How's your week been, mama?

Shoppin' The Mart

"Oh my geeeeee! Tomorrow is the day!" I blabbered excitedly, perusing the Holiday Mart site as to which vendors would receive the majority of me and my Mom's money. Furiously scribbling a list, it was anticipated that sleep was not in the cards for the evening.

An annual tradition, Mom and I head down to Bartle Hall and delight in all that is Holiday Mart, an event hosted by Kansas City's Junior League that features hundreds of retailers with unique gifts and goodies to take home. It may even outrank the Nordstrom Anniversary sale if you can believe that...

This year they outdid themselves once again with booths and booths of loveliness from ensembles to personalized items, gear you can't find anywhere else and aisles and aisles of jewels. In short, it's a shopper's dream. And as always, I'm sharing with you my finds with some sloppy pics:

Some Christmas gear for the upcoming season

Chalk in your family abode details!

Yum, yum, gimme some! Cherry salsa went home with us too of course

Sparkles! And finally splurged on that Oragami Owl necklace that already
has a billion charms in it including charms for the boys, the mister, KS, writer, etc.

A ginormous, custom painted letter for above the Little's crib
And the biggest hit of the show: $15 bow and arrows! Kids of all ages
were going bananas for them. Each Mom had five strapped on her shoulder as she shopped

Did you hit the 'Mart this year? If yes, what were your finds?


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Gift of Alex and Ani

"Oh honey - it's gorgeous - I love it! And the meaning!" I swooned, immediately placing the thin bangle on my wrist, the charm dangling with glamour as I admired the new piece of bling.

Alex and Ani jewels are an awesome gift to give or receive. At just the right price point, they are comfortable and light weight, don't fade, have thoughtful meaning and can be paired with existing pieces or worn on their own. The collections are growing every month, and more and more places in KC are carrying them, including Nordstrom (because everyone needs an excuse to visit).

So far my collection includes a monogram or two for my boys and a lotus flower from a gracious friend, who knocked me off my feet with the little slip of paper that indicated the meaning behind it all. What a great reminder that far too often we don't share with others or take the time to reflect on... and right on your wrist! Sure beats those rubber bands you snap on yourself to recall things, huh?

So spoil a loved one or splurge on yourself and check out the hundreds of Alex and Ani options. It's a darn good option, dangling right in front of your face...and from your wrist.

Play Ball

The last few weeks have been all about the Royals, with social feeds filling up with #beroyal, witty tees being purchased, late nights with the TV up and fingers crossed and an overwhelming sense of pride resonating through KC. It's enough to bring even a mediocre sports fan to slight tears behind the eyes with the nostalgia of it all.

Meanwhile, in western Shawnee, we have our own game going on. It's called:

Catch After Dark.

Of this game, I'm the biggest fan. For each night the Big wraps up dinner, waits patiently as Daddy cleans the kitchen and Mommy tucks away the Little, then pops up just as I close the nursery door behind me and says:

"Mommy - can we play catch?"

And though the fatigue of the day has just begun to settle in and there are a million things to do around the home, emails to respond to and conversations to be had with the husband, the answer is always:


With a smile. With anticipation. With engagement. With love.

We trot out to the pavement, just the two of us, the glow of the moon and the coolness of fall evenings settling in around us. Gloves perched on our hands, we toss for nearly an hour, sometimes conversations rich, while other times barely a word in spoken at all. We trade positions, the ball's shadow barely visible in the darkness of the night, the "thwat" of each earned catch bringing satisfaction to the catcher. And in this hour I hear things I may not have ever discovered about my growing son if I'd not taken the time, answer questions that burn with curiosity in his expanding mind and delight in the feeling of unconditional love in a simple game of catch.

It is, perhaps, one of life's greatest delights. Even better than a championship for the home team I dare to say.For this home, this team member, and this champ stole all the bases and my heart in these moments and so many more.

Thanks for playing ball son. May there be many more games of catch after dark, for I never want this series to end.

Monday Momfessions: October 6 Week

1. Today the Big went to school in yesterday's uniform. And his brother's socks. He may or may not have showered last evening. But nobody knew, right?! And he felt very fratastic about it all. Some days it's about doing the best you can with what you've got. And what we didn't have was a clean uniform.

2. Related: the Little went to school on Monday with one shoe. One. Again - doing the best with what we got, which apparently does not include sanity or a tiny New Balance. Meanwhile a doting mother dropped her child and apologized profusely for forgetting shoes and promised to run home and drop off a pair back at school. Perhaps we could be friends because opposites attract.

3. When invited to jump at a child's trampoline party, choose your activities carefully. Momma ain't 25 anymore, which means a potential rescue from the styrofoam pit and things jiggling you didn't even know you had when trying the jumps. Don't even get me started on the bladder thing even my bff forgot to tell me about. Oye.

4. I totally blamed the Pop Tart purchase during this evening's grocery run on the Big and I'm not even a little bit ashamed. Can't wait for tomorrow morning's frosted, strawberry delight.

5. The Big's bunk has become my new favorite hiding place. For napping, reading and accidentally falling asleep in it all evening long. Move over, Sleep Number. You may have been replaced by a cheap Serta or something that's even twin sized.

6. One advantage of a five year old son turning into an amazing helper who is caring, has a heart of gold and likes to spend time with you is that he'll take the time to rummage through your closet, paint your nails and weigh handbag purchase options. It's like having your bff in a tiny male package for the short term. Perhaps with even more honesty, transparency and rationale when it comes to critiquing ensems.

7. Making the birthday party rounds on weekends is worth it for the energy release required for boys and the cupcakes. Oh, and bonding with the parents. But those cupcakes...

8. When attending social events with children five and under, please anticipate saying only five and under actual words to friends and guests. The rest of the time will include phases like: "stay away from the fire! where are your clothes? please take turns! where is your brother! no, no, no! i'm not sure how to work that nerf gun. let me help you with that juice box. please put the cushions back on the couch. please remove yourself from your friend's face, etc."

9. The Little has discovered how to flurburt bellies, with an affinity for mine. Well, at least that C-section pouch is good fun for someone.

10. Bullying incidents will bring out the mama bear in anyone. You may even find yourself mumbling secret threats, using the word "shank," and leaving anonymous notes. This will not help the cause or your street cred, but the uncontrollable force to protect and serve your children will win every time.

What are you guilty of this week, mommy friends?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Five Diamond

"Um, yah...I've never stayed in a place quite like this before," I said slightly under my breath as our car pulled up, the mood lighting, quiet music and friendly faces reminding me of what it might be like to arrive at some exotic place like Hawaii. And though no flower boa was strapped to our neck, we were in fact whisked away via golf car to gorgeous rooms complete with marble countertops, beyond a Westin bed, view of swaying palms and cool waters, a couch for lounging and an inviting coffee kitchen that made even me want to take up drinking the stuff in the wee hours of the morning.

We had arrived!

Though our stay at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Arizona was for work travel, each jaunt to the conference room left me wishing my husband was by my side, enjoying the cooler breeze in the evenings, treating me to a spa day right on site as he enjoyed exotic beers at La Hacienda, taking a dip in the pool, then ending the evening with a cocktail at the poolside bar complete with seaside spray. Each employee was kind, helpful and checked in with a smile and it seemed even our clients were at an extra ease at the resort, taking fewer phone calls on breaks but rather enjoying the warmth of the sun patio side. All food served was impeccable, the decor shimmering and updated and the lengthier jaunts more beautiful than the one before. The pool featured a waterfall, floating tubes, cabanas bigger than our queen bed and little umbrella drinks available at all hours.

In short, it was a slice of heaven for we corporate wanderers.

So although it won't likely be until well after retirement that a place like this will be possible on our own dime, I'm grateful for the chance to go while on the job. So save your pennies and do the same, won't you? And get a 90 minute massage and some guacamole at Hacienda for me! Oh and that really darling bracelet at the gift shop too...


Although "ladylike" is generally not a term used to describe me (said the gal that trips twice a day and sits in odd yoga poses at her desk), it doesn't mean my nails don't get to be...

I'm over the moon for this color for it's unique by neutral tone, easy application and long wear. It's not too much pink, brown or purple, but just right.

It's Ladylike.

No, literally it's called "Ladylike" by Essie. So fem it up and treat yourself today!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Monday Momfessions: September 22 Week

1. Tonight I violated the no shoes, no shirt rule that's so important to gas stations and made it "no problem," using Kenny Chesney's song as inspiration. To be fair, I gave the Big a piggy back ride and hoped his preppy school uniform would buy him some grace. After all, we were spending a whopping four dollars on Skittles and Gatorade in anticipation of five-year-old shots tomorrow. And no one stepped on glass or anything - bonus.

2. The amount of times I have to clarify with the Big "are you all buckled?" from the moment I just snapped them in to the one foot walk to the driver's seat may make me a very viable candidate for early memory loss. Will you please come visit me in the home and remind me of your name?

3. During a TSA search of my handbag last week, the following items were unearthed: shin guards, four pair of toddler socks, two diapers, a sippy cup, a small soccer ball, a whistle, Thomas the Train and half eaten granola bar. Can you say you've hit the mother load, literally?

4. I've hired my Big to become my own personal spider-killing machine. Genius or cruel? You decide. He seems fine with it...

5. Family lesson of the week: if a glow stick breaks, your eyes will stop stinging within 30 minutes and your vision will return. Assure your moaning child of this, pretend like everything is fine as you squeeze your eyes shut and hang tight. Then turn it into a valuable chemistry lesson while you're at it.

6. Using a two-blade on your child's hair who is already very thin with dark circles under his eyes from allergies will only solicit stares as if he should audition for a St. Jude commercial. Don't believe the hair dresser when she says she can do the same with that blade as she does with a fade with the scissors.

7. Speaking of hair cuts, the second child gets their soft little duck tail just chopped off by Daddy in the master bathroom. No pictures. No plan. No golden certificate documenting this monumentus event. Just snip, go and gratitude he's no longer sporting a unique rat tail.

8. Gah grant you patience until your five year old starts showering on their own and managing their hineys. When both occur, go out and celebrate. This is huge. Liberatingly huge.

9. When clients you haven't seen in awhile ask you how your children are doing and you indicate the second one is "hell on wheels," come up with a quick nice statement to follow up. They will pause and stare at you until you do. "Fine - thanks for asking" always works if you're at a loss.

10. The statement "ignorance is bliss" can sometimes hold true in parenting. For example, when your Big starts calling everyone he loves "old" as a term of endearment, when your Little still uses brute strength to sit on things when he's not getting his way, when you went ahead and took them out in public with stained clothes and when siblings start to brawl like a pack of WWF wrestlers are prime examples. Surely it can still be ignorance if you just ignore it, right?!

How are you and your families, dear friends?

Now That's Customer Service

"Excuse me Miss, what are you here for?" a shorter gentleman sporting a bow tie and clutching a clipboard asked me with slight interest, slight threat as he kept the other eye on the growing line.

It was the morning of the iPhone 6 launch, potentially one of the worst days for one's iPhone 5 to go on the fritz and become totally unusable. In short, this gal needed service, despite hundreds of people crowding the Plaza corners to obtain the latest and greatest. Expecting the worst as he shuffled through his iPad and notebook combo, I was stunned to hear him say:

"Please proceed to the wooden table on the left and they will take care of you immediately."

This was quickly followed by a suspicious look at my husband, assuredness that yes I knew him and he was not going to run off on the sidelines with a 6, then we were shuffled to the nearly empty store, their system of delivering the newest model all managed to the awaiting customers outside.

Within minutes, one of the laid back, friendly support dudes had me all set up, confirming my battery was part of the 5 recall and requesting I come back in an hour. Even better, with a quick search of my email address, he had an alarmingly awesome amount of information he needed to protect my phone, diagnose it, leave it in there care and return after a yummy lunch.

And again, all on the launch of the 6 day. Wowza.

Nearly two hours later I return to a fully juiced phone that held it's charge, all items reinstated, cleaned and ready to roll. Nearly hugging the device (attachment disorder), I thanked them profusely and marched past the six blocks of folks waiting in line to get reacquainted with my well-functining 5.

Did I mention they were handing out coffees and waters and remaining uber professional and friendly with all the line goers? Including the ones simply there to preach Jesus?

You go Apple.

So if you have a 5 and the battery is pooping out on you super fast, go get diagnosed and see if you're within warranty or part of the recall. And hit the Plaza Apple store. Perhaps a fabulous dude in a bow tie will be your superhero too.

PS: after that if you're hungry for cake, hit the Hen House on Antioch. That kind lady also upped the ante by cutting me fresh yellow and chocolate cake to assure me of it's deliciousness. And delicious it was...

Selfless Selfies

"Hi Mommy! You're sending me SO MANY notes...but I guess I like them. You'll be home in three days!" my five year old said breathlessly in the 12-seconds of attention he'll provide on FaceTime during one of my business trips. I giggled as he made faces at himself in the reflective app, focused on his mirror image and not at all stressed that mama was away.

Which is just what a traveling Mom can hope for!

Given leaving little treats and notes daily was beginning to be a bit much when I was on the road, I moved to sending him daily picture messages to let him know I was thinking of him and bringing home a small trinket from the town in which I was working (of note: I do NOT recommend Mexican jumping beans, thank you very much Phoenix - can you say up all night?!). He was also uber pumped to find a little notecard tucked under his pillow for my first night away, along with a countdown sheet posted to his closet.

Please forgive my "just awoke" look - 5 a.m. in Phoenix equals 7 a.m. in KC and this mama never seemed to get the pic done the night before.

But the beauty of it all is - they don't care. They just know you're thinking of them and they're loved.

So send a few selfless selfies next time absence is making the heart grow fonder. It's cheap, easy and fun. And best of all, it's the little thing that makes a big difference to the little things.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Monday Momfessions: Labor Day Week

1. The Little has eaten chicken nuggets three nights this week. It's Wednesday. This is my current version of "doing my best." Poor Little.

2. The recent purchase of an inexpensive twin mattress to complete the new bunk has made for some excellent napping for mommy. Between the white noise, darkness and no one suspecting I'm in there , I'm like Waldo among all those delicious covers. Don't tell the husband...or any of those three men. We're still paying off that Sleep Number item and the rest have not discovered my hiding place. So much better than locking the bathroom door...

3. I'm starting a log to eventually contribute to that site that highlights creepy things young children say. This week's: "Oh yeah, Mom! I can take your picture and print it out so I can remember you when you're dead!" ... ... ... ...Well intentioned and out of context I'm sure, but yikes.

4. The Big refusing hugs these days at drop off nearly breaks my heart. It's quickly rebuilt with new, unsolicited "I love you Liam," to his brother.

5. Suddenly, the Big showers. It's genius. With such small mass to cover, it's in, out and ready to roll at bedtime. Less supervision required? Yes please.

6. Daddy's sometimes sarcastic vocab has landed him in the daycare dog house again. The big was chatted with about the word "demon." His response: "Well, my Daddy calls my brother that all the time!"

7. On my shopping or to do list: a book written on how to not imitate older brother doing raspberries on mommy's tummy by walking right up and just going for that nice, plump little roll with four very sharp teeth. Ouch. Perhaps he thought it was a hot dog. Warm roll of bread. A nude fruit rollup. Or maybe he is just that word daddy jokingly calls him. Or a vampire. One can only guess.

8. The restaurant ban has been reinstated. Tonight I singlehandedly had to apologize to two families who had salsa on their ensems, the server that had to clean the sugar packets, crayons and water off the floor and the unassuming patron who received a bit of a b*tch slap on the way out. This was within an eight minute window. Ban.back.on.

9. I want to kiss whoever invented the Swiffer sweeper. Not for it's delightful cleansing techniques, but for its ability to keep my 16-month old busy for nearly 80 minutes a day. Ok maybe for the cleansing techniques too.

10. I strongly desire to polish one of the boys' set of little piggies. It may be time for an intervention or a girl date with you and one of your daughters.

So what did you do to screw up your little ones this week, mama?

A Bang Up Job

"Um, I just saw you an hour ago in a meeting...did you get BANGS over lunch?!" asked a co-worker incredulously, this kind of activity far from the norm of running to Target or the closest fast food joint.

Given my three other coping mechanisms had met quota (current furniture arrangements are ideal, trying to lost some LBs so chocolate is out and consuming adult beverages on site is frowned upon, plus who has dollars for shopping?!), I went with the next best thing: change of appearance.

So yes I did get bangs over lunch, thank you very much.
It's likely they'll only last a week as they tend to complicate my three minute morning hair routine and require maintenance that I just don't have the tolerance for, but for now they're fun.

And fun is just what I need right now.

Thank you, Stem, as usual for the bang up job. They're a nice reminder to not take life too seriously and that things can change on a dime. Or a five-dollar tip...

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Silver Lining of Sick Days

"Yeah - if you could hook me up with a Gatorade, I'd be ever so grateful," I said to my husband groggily, my body aching from nearly two days of camping out in bed, not changing positions to avoid waves of nausea. My heart also ached from the sounds of my boys playing downstairs, asking for their mommy and the sound of familiar chaos that generally accompany weekends.

To top off a challenging three months of hormone whateverness (augh - womanhood), I managed to catch a little bug or bout of food poisoning in the middle of the night Friday, rendering me helpless over the weekend and canceling the last of our summer plans. Finally accepting that quality family time and crossing more items off our August bucket list was not on the agenda, I gave in to my body, who seemed to be saying "don't move an inch lest you feel as if you're on a cruise ship during the world's wildest hurricane." Even those magic pills I held onto from pregnancy and sea bands weren't strong enough to fight this virus. Water was not even my friend.

Le sigh.

So the days gave in to hours of "Sex In the City" - nearly 11 hours to be exact - followed by the movie. And though these sick days were not some that can sometimes result in reflective gratitude, I did find a little silver lining in there, which is:

I have friends like these.

Circles of them. Those that text and offer up soup when you're sick. Those that call in the middle of the night after a tough chat with their husband. Those that find solace in the circle in the loss of a child. Those that celebrate birthdays, entrance into grad schools and PhD programs and your children's birthdays. Those that can find room for a dance party in a living room. Those that spend sunny afternoons at the pool as you watch your growing families delight in the summer nearby. Those who offer hands to move, host events, help your extended family and don't judge you for asking such first-world questions such as "do I need bangs?" Those that share they are no longer in love with their career, the next step in their dreams and all the real things in between. Those you can ride in the car with and say nothing at all. Those that hug and say "love you" with each greeting and departure. Those that you don't say for years in between but at that first coffee it's like no time has passed at all.

It's pure magic.

And extra bonus: mine are not fictional.

So see, there is a silver lining to sick days: it gives you a moment to rest, relax and check out of the day to day to focus on what really matters and find gratitude that's always there, but sometimes hard to keep at the forefront when deadlines call, bottoms require diapering and cars need oil changes.

So thank you to my very own Mirandas, Carries, Samanthas and Charlottes. You know who you are and I love ya to pieces. (Note: not all are pictured here!)

And in sickness or in health - you are my life's silver lining.