Thursday, May 29, 2014

Go To Gift

The start of summer marks weekends full of kids' birthday parties, our bulletin board lined with adorable invites, pictures of children we love as our own and the chance to connect with families on the weekend. But between BBQs, happy hours, neighborhood gatherings! to you ensure you have that perfect gift purchased and wrapped, ready for the pop up parties?

Simple: keep a stash!

For summer birthdays, I stow away our go-to gift for kiddos: a beach towel and swim toy. Perfect for nearly any age, a family can never have enough towels, and between the ability to monogram or pick their favorite superhero, it's fun and easy to personalize the gift.

Then tack on some diving sticks, goggles, pool noodle or kick board, slap a bow on them and wa have a happy birthday boy or girl, ready with new gear for water fun, even if it ends up being the bathtub.

So next time you're at Target, start your stash. It will leave you time to drink those Twisted Teas I was telling you about...

Twisted for Tea

"Dude - this is amazing. It's like my own personal John Daly but tastes like an Arnold Palmer," I said, thanking my husband for quenching my thirst after a long work week. Legs kicked high against the dimming evening sky, we indulged in our adult beverages and sighed deeply as our first line of meditation in welcoming the weekend. And what was in my palm you ask?

Twisted Tea. Twenty four ounces of goodness that tastes just like the mix you get at Starbucks, but at a lesser cost and includes alcohol.


Both versions, whether they're heavier on tea or lemonade, are dangerously delicious if you're an Arnold Palmer fan, and it just takes one to get you feeling like it's summer.

Crack one open tomorrow. It is Friday after all.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Momfessions: May 26 Week

Wow - check that out, it's actually Monday! Happy start of the week my friends! Now, to the confessions:

1. With the second child, you let him play with things like the vacuum cord so you can actually unload the dishwasher. To be fair, one eye is on the silverware while the other ensures his chance to use the cord as the latest trends in necklaces doesn't go awry.

2. I've determined that unless the activity we're engaging in as a family contains a ball, puck, hoop, bases, dirt or wrestling mat, it will be labeled as "boring." I see a long life of Sports Center ahead. Why can't he like water exhibits too?! 

3. Sometimes, hot dogs must be consumed on back to back days. It's just the way it goes.

4. The new "puppy beg" trick the Little presents at all waking hours (big eyes, looking up, crocodile tears, standing on Mommy's foot and pulling on her pant leg) has created a Jekyl and Hyde of me. Most moments I adore that I'm so loved and needed, but every once in awhile I think to myself "why not Daddy?! Or that huge pile of toys over there? Your brother? The dog?" I'm told I should ignore him once in awhile and continue on, but the dude has beast-like strength for real. He'd win against me in an arm wrestle for sure. Believe me, we've trailed this with a glass plate. Therefore, my leg loses.

5. I'm giving in: swooshy pants for all. All the time. Unless it's a holiday. Or the weather requires shorts. Then you get swooshy shorts.

6. Twisty straws are the answer to getting my toddler into his carseat. Seriously - twisty straws. Find them at Bed Bath and Beyond today and avoid the stick-straight-alligator roll-refusal to sit tomorrow.

7. This new phenomenon of the Big wanting to hit the men's room vs. women's poses a new threat to my sense of security. A million news stories, SVU episodes and newspaper headlines run through my head every time he sets foot in there. If I don't start taking my own foot out of the door or shouting in there and checking on him, it may be my name on the headlines I see soon.

8. My bedtime OCDness is slowly slipping away for the Big as summer hits. After all, the cul-de-sac parties mean built in entertainment until well after dark, for kids and mama. Better yet, he even NAPS the next day, about right when mama needs one too.

9. The Big's questions are getting harder. For example: "Will Liam die before me? What about you?" Is there a manual for this?! Or a template of common responses at least?!

10. Six days away and finding the Little can do three new tricks (um, how adorable is blowing kisses?!) and the other has graduated preschool means this whole thing is going entirely too fast. Where is that damn time machine?!

How are your kiddos, mama? Ready for summer?!

New In Town

"Well, what's on the agenda today that's affordable and where we can take these two looneytoons?!" I asked my husband as he had one small boy by the ankle and the other scaling his back. Two days of rain had landed us indoors, hence it was time to escape western Shawnee on a limited budget with two little people under five. So, to the new Prairiefire area out south we went, our fingers crossed they'd deliver on hands on fun that accepted fingerprints, small shouts and parents who had nearly given up.

And you know what, they did!

Though it's not LA or NYC where I hear you can get lost in fabulous alleyways for hours, coming upon treasures you couldn't find anywhere, else, it was a breathe of fresh air to see something new out on 135th and Nall. With a sort of Zona Rosa/Park Place feel, Prairiefire's streets were new and appropriately crowded with families enjoying meals out on patios of restaurants we haven't yet experienced, dates catching movies at a clean looking theater, an intriguing collection of boutiques that surely had things I must buy and one of the most beautiful natural history museums I've seen from the outside. So we started there:

Decently priced, we choose a package that could handle the kids' attention spans, a bit bummed the last chance to do the children activities had closed for the day. One short line and helpful, friendly staff chats later, we entered to large, upright fossils and interactive exhibits that captured the  Big's attention for a good 15 minutes. By the way, GENIUS of the museum to start with a huge TV screen that features dinos appearing to stand right next to you so little men like ours could pretend to fight, pet and run from them.  That was our selling point to get the preschooler into the next piece - the water exhibits. Lined with fascinating facts and some hands on, easy to read, just the right amount of engagement highlights, we made our way through until the Big's hopes of something more like Great Wolf Lodge (we told him it was a water exhibit) were too far dashed. The Little was captured by the interesting lights and large statues throughout with a little distraction of his friends, the graham crackers. We look forward to catching the next exhibit - perhaps with a bit more clarity for the Big for a bit longer adventure.

Next, we hit the much anticipated Burgifi at Park Place. With open air seating, friendly staff delivering free ice cream to kiddos and reasonably priced burgers with the most delightful buns, we found one of our new favorite spots. The boys' confirmed this with several dance parties to the constant flow of rock music, causing the other patrons to giggle over their delectable shakes and seasoned fries. Yum.

We ended our evening at another spring/summer favorite among the grassy null and streaming fountains: the open area at Park Place. For hours the boys tossed balls back and forth, went puddle jumping, made friends out of strangers and even enjoyed some gelato. Not to mention someone took his first two steps!

KC, we love you. We'll never leave you. Especially if you keep adding all the goodness like Prairefire and the hoards of restaurants that leave us on one of America's shameful lists. But hey - at least we're happy!

And Prairiefire: we'll see you this Saturday to test out Pinstripes with bocci and booze over dinner!

Kansas Citians - give it a try! It's a little slice of fun and yum in the 'burbs.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Mother's Mantle

This Mother's Day will not be as anticipated with two sick boys and Mommy on the road, which is why I'm extra grateful to daycare and pre-school for decorating my mantle in lieu of celebrating:

For every time we angst over our monthly payments, these little numbers made up it. A flower comprised of the Little L's hand and footprints complete with a cute poem, a canvas bag featuring more of the same from the big and a heart made of buttons with the badge of honor we mommas crave. 

Love. Swoon.

Now let's digest the purple document that's a pre-schooler's form of MadLibs, shall we? 

First, I absolutely adore this and am over the moon school did it because despite several subtle hints, plus application on Father's Day, let's face, no Google searches for a quiz was going to happen by daddy. Here are my thoughts:

1. I'm impressed he can recall my middle name.

2. Love that we went over my age on my recent birthday so I don't have to feel shame. That whole weight thing could use a zero after it, but who's counting?

3. My stomach did a tiny flip that he listed that I like to work as his first thought when asked what I like, but the fact that playing and wrestling outnumber this response makes me smile. Plus he could mean "work on being a mom" or "work on a marriage" or "work on the house"...what, no? Sigh. Knowing he gets his momma is working to make a difference with children's hospitals though I see as a definite plus and hope he does too.

4. The taco vs. vegetable comment? Accurate. True. And so, so shameful. Dr. D would be disappointed.

5. I'm grateful he picked up that I play music while driving vs. cursing or waving my arms in distress. Now if he repeated some of the words he hears on said radio at times...eesh.

6. The driving range comments mean guilt for this BoyMom. I used to take him every month before Little L arrived. Now penned in for next week.

7. Hugs - check. I will do it forever.

8. Wait, did he say he wants to get me a baby for Mother's Day? First, this makes no sense as the sibling has rocked his kingdom and they are currently fighting for dictatorship. Second, I'm incredibly grateful the boy doesn't have financial means or knowledge of the adoption process. For now, I will watch him more closely when he comments on how cute the babes are in the grocery store...we don't need him bringing one of those home in a sack. Don't get me wrong - I want for anyone who desires a child for this dream to come true and kids are the center of my heart, it's just that our little family is complete. The husband has a doctor bill to prove it. Also, is this his tricky way of telling me I love the baby more than him again?! Sneaky, sneaky...

A mother's mantle. Full of truth, love and happiness.

More to come on Mother's Day soon and wishing you and yours one you'll always cherish!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Boy in Socks

There's been a sunglass phase. Bike helmets, super heroes, shorts only, no clothes at all phases too. But one trend that has never changed since he was just over a year:

Big L at 2 years old


The taller the better. Brighter the better. Softer the better. More patterned the better.

Big L at 4.5 years old

It doesn't get better than this.

I love this boy and all his flair. May the world let him remain this way as long as his little sock lovin' soul desires.

PS: If you're looking for bigger boy sizes that look athletic like you see all the dudes wearing and don't want to spend UnderArmour prices, try WalMart and Target. We've very happy with the Gold Toe and a few other brands at a much reduced cost. Then stick a shoe in 'em!

Appreciating Teachers

For the noses wiped, books read, little hands held, tears swiped, lessons learned, laughter shared, paint smeared, songs sang, turns to calm corner, snacks prepared, answers to a thousand questions, pats on the back, things you teach we'd never do at home and the love shared:

Thank you.

Teachers are tireless warriors helping to raise our kids.

So to our Canterbury leaders and my dearest friends and family who tirelessly help our boys be the best version of themselves: we appreciate you more than you'll ever know. Thank you.

And if you've forgotten it's Teacher Appreciation Week and need a simple token of thanks to throw together, here's one idea:

Grab slice n' dice cookies and stick on a note of appreciation - you can't go wrong with baked goods

Nab some gift cards and add a little sentiment (Top 5 Reasons We Adore Teacher X)

Stick a bow on it and spoil away

Teachers: appreciating you this week and always! Thanks for all you are and do.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Monday Momfessions: May 5 Week

1. Nearly weekly I ponder why my arms are not more toned from the baby hefting contest I compete in daily. So far only back, neck and shoulder pain are the result of my "training."

2. I let my children eat dropped snacks off the floor. No seconds rule. No brushing off or blowing of particles. Just straight into the pie hole.

3. The wee one is on Omnicef, an antibiotic that makes for some red diapers. For the inexperienced and unfamiliar, this is my new favorite trick to not tell them about. Here's looking at you, brother in from Atlanta.

4. I get by daily (sometimes hourly) on the phrase "Deep breath. You're doing the best you can." This is not helpful when you forget formula twice in one week for the biggest milk fan of all time, requiring a 7 a.m. trip to Price Chopper, plus drop off and arrive to work for your meeting with the CEO sans snot on your suit. Oh, and no blankets for the cots or shoes for the feet.

5. To make our oldest feel more comforted about our division of school and work, we used to say "you're not going to miss out on anything fun - our works are BORING." This backfired completely when I spent a few hours with him at "Take Your Kid to Work Day" and on his 287th activity he looked around and said: "you're right - this place is BORING." Clearly we missed the mark here. It's now likely he'll end up not committing to the corporate track due to our brain washing.

6. Last week I had to call the pediatrician's office due to lack of competent husband reporting. His version of "I don't know - some kind of bacteria somewhere," really meant pink eye and an ear infection. Hence why I send him with a list of symptoms to the doctor and why the lady on the phone was so understanding as she reports this compliance rate is about 10% in the husband world.

7. At times with all the bodily functions, war games, wrestling, shouting and basketball bouncing that occurs in our home, I want to scoop up our female dog and make appointments for both of us to get our nails done. If there is anything I'm learning, it's we bitches have to stick together.

8. Baby weight conversations are smile and nodder chats for this girl because a) This wasn't baby weight - I was always about this big b) I wasn't super worried about it until you said something c) Girl - I'm just trying to get through each day, which generally requires emotional eating, lots of sitting at work, acrobats at home and ridiculous amounts of loving and nurturing for my littles. Mama ain't makin' "time for me," or hitting the gym or preparing clean food, my friends. I think you're superwoman for doing it and making it look effortless and  am in awe, envy and amazement of you, but I'm not there yet. So can I get a "Yay! You're a good momma!" once in awhile instead?! Please?!

9. I forgot about sibling rivalry. Now is the time I shall go back and apologize to my parentals. And brother, I suppose. Also, I'm nervous. Because at times it's not really ended. And my children are just beginning. So you know what that means...

10. The wee one uses his ginormous noggin as a weapon. And we let him. Hey, a kid's gotta find what works for him. It's kid bit kid world out there.

How are you, mama?

One Sure Was Fun

A happy, healthy birthday boy who has brought more joy
to our lives in one year than ever thought possible
An amazing uncle who flew in for the occasion 
A quiet moment (and an adorable onesie courtesy of The Thread Studio on Etsy) before the party
A sweet Nana always good for a giggle
A moment with the best Daddy a birthday boy could wish for
A moment to attempt a family photo
A loving Mimi who always elicits smiles
A tentative take on the smash cake (created lovingly by Aunt Carrie) 
A quick snuggle with Papa
Simple but fun decor courtesy of May Details on Etsy
A pause to catch up with Grandpa
Twelve months of Liam
A doting, caring Great Grandmother
A set of blocks for sentiments
A deck full of friends and loved ones

Delicious wedding cakesque cupcakes that are already gone
A loving embrace with family galore
A-plus. That sums up the weekend.

A soiree fit for the little king. A deck full of loved ones. A set of grins on faces we love more than they could ever know. A boatload of icing. A circle of laughter and hugs. A chance to sit, relish, enjoy and know that this is what life is all about: a jovial, heart-grabbing little boy and his lucky, lucky family who has a whole village that has their back. A year that can't compare to any others.

Yep. A+ all around.

Happy birthday, little Liam. We love you! And you, and you, and you. Thank you all for making it so special!