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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Taking the Crazy Out of the School Year

We need to have a chat. I feel like I never got the memo to how to stay on top of things during the school year and how to not have the exasperation with none of the benefits of running a 5K just to get the kids on the bus each morning. The whirlwind of the signing of papers and packing of lunches and "healthy" snacks and the location of cleats and clean uniforms and 4:30 dinners and oh shit we are late. Again. I often feel like I'm drowning before Halloween even hits. But this year I am determined to have my head above water and not drive myself to a one way road of insanity, dragging my children behind me. This year will be different. And not just telling myself it will but by actually doing things to make it better. 

So this is what I'm doing and honestly, most of you probably are already doing these things and holding out on me because it probably is just common sense and you have figured out how to not to turn into school momzilla. But my oldest is in 4th grade this year and I've just now realized that my lack of organization is making our lives more challenging than it really has to be. It doesn't have to be that hard. And if you are the same boat as me, come aboard sister, this year our boat stays afloat. We got this.

Taking the Crazy Out of the School Year Tips:


  • Have your kids physically lay out their clothes the night before. Socks, shoes, the whole freakin number. I know this one is a part of School 101. But the drama that can unfold when there's not a pair of matching socks in the house and the battles over having nothing to wear 7 minutes before the bus is pulling up is downright exasperating. For everyone. I have lived to tell the tale. Save the drama for your momma the night before school instead of the morning. That is School 102.

  • Freeze your PB & J. Or your sun butter and jelly. Or just a piece of bread if that is what your child is into. This is probably the best tip ever but for some reason I had never done it until the end of last year when I thought that there has got to be a better way baby. I mean, they sell uncrustables right? Why can't I do the same thing? Well I can and you can too. The only real trick to it is to put peanut butter (or whatever alternative you fancy) on both sides of the bread and then put jelly in the middle and then smack that together (I use a sandwich cutter to take off the crusts; pottery barn kids has some fun ones) put it in a baggie (or a happy green alternative) and then when you've made a whole loaf's worth put them all in the bread bag or a large baggie and put them all in the freezer. Boom. Mom of the year. I only had one child complain that she (shocker it is the oldest girl) prefers a fresh sandwich which is completely fine because she is old enough to make her own. The other three completely dig it. Success in my book.

Eat your heart out uncrustables.

  • Have a shelf in your life that is dedicated to your kids making their own lunches. Again you might already do this and forgot to tell me about it but it is so brilliantly simple I don't know why I'm just discovering it. Better late than never. When everything is in an assembly line, the kids even the kindergartners can pack their lunch in record time. I can see when we are running low on something so it's easy to restock unlike when everything was in our pantry and the kids would just leave empty boxes stranded in there so I had no idea when we were out of something until the next morning's lunch packing/grunting. I now have a shelf dedicated in our basement to it now so I overlook the process to ensure they are eating more than oreos but they are the ones rocking down the line. They are helping me and I'm actually smiling through something that I used to dread.

I thought I was on fire. And then I made the mistake of going on Pinterest.
We are going to stick with our frozen sandwiches, thanks anyway Goofy.

  • Touch paper only once. It is easy to become a school paper hoarder. And it is natural to put things aside for whenever you will have more time to look over them. That time is never going to happen. You will have no time for these papers as long as you have a child that still rides the bus. So follow this mantra: touch it once and then take care of it. Papers signed. Done. Money that needs to be turned back in. Done. Plug the PTA meeting into your calendar. Done. Fundraisers. Done. Say yes or recycle it and move on. Don't worry, more paper will be headed your way tomorrow so hold on to only to the best ever art projects and remember that you are doing yourself and your child a tremendous favor by learning to let the rest go.

Looks like somebody had a productive day of Kindergarten.

  • Say yes to only what you and your child are into and then let go of guilt. Pick and choose and know it is okay to not be everywhere and everything all of the time. My 2nd grader actually told me that he would prefer that I not come in and read to his class this year. Did it feel like he was ripping my heart out of my chest? YES. Does that mean I can have more time for hot yoga? HELL YES. They are your world. I know. But it is okay to have a moment to focus on you too. You being over scheduled and overwhelmed will not be doing your child's psyche any favors. A more calm, more present you on the other hand, absolutely will. 

So let's do all that we can to start this year off with a little less insanity so that those moments between work and school are spent on the important things with the important people. After all, they happen to growing up a little too fast. And this. Above all else, just please remember this:

You really are. 

Good luck rockstar mommas.
Cheers to us...






Friday, September 5, 2014

What I Have Learned From My Kids First Week of School

This marks the first week ever that all four of my babes got on that big beautiful bus to head off to school. All day. All the live long lovely day. Seeing that bus was like spotting water in the desert. Is this only a mirage? Is this really truly happening?

Oh it happened. And it was glorious. It is glorious. You know how when you have toddlers and you run into mothers of school age children at Target and they say how fast the school day goes and they don't feel like they have much time at all and you're thinking in your mind "What the fuck is this bitch talking about? I don't think we should be friends anymore. I'm disinviting her to book club. But she does bring the good guacamole..."

And you're smiling and nodding and pretending to relate when you only had six seconds of peace in your entire day and that occurred before your kids realized that you were in the bathroom. And you are on the verge of pouring your soy latte on her freshly clean and blow dried hair that smells like coconut (bitch!) but you think better of it. Because you really need that latte.

But now I can sort of relate to it. Because the time that happens when you get a moment alone for the first time since the summer of 2004 is so fucking awesome that you just don't want it to end. You want to shout from the rooftops that you are naked! and alone! and it is the best day of your life! But then the neighbors might hear and ask you to watch their kids. Or ask you to put clothes on. So you retreat to your blog to let everyone know that instead. And the time does go by fast and before you even did a quarter of your to do list it is almost time for that bus to roll back up in your business. Damn.

I love my kids, I really do.

But to be given this time to feel and comprehend and breathe and create is borderline orgasmic. Just kidding. There is nothing borderline about it. IT IS FUCKING ORGASMIC.

I actually even this week developed this wild skin rash that was all red and itchy and hot to the touch. I really think it was a reaction to my mind freaking out because it has found it's lost ability to process full thoughts again. MIND BLOWN. So it took it out on the skin because it knew that I would actually go see a doctor about that. Poor too often ignored mind, thanks for letting me know...

All is good now and healing and my mind is slowly acclimating to its new talents (i.e. thinking). I believe that some time alone should be required homework for all women (and men of course too but let's just vacation separately for now, okay?). It is a stunning form of therapy.

And yes there are to do lists and errands and real life and work projects but to choose when and how to do them, solely up to you, is where the therapy comes in. You feel that you can dictate the clock again for the first time in a long time.

So thank you, school days and brilliant patient teachers, you have given me, well... me. And there really aren't enough words to describe the gratitude in that.

Peace, love and hot yoga.
Cheers...

My favorite to do list.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dear Kindergarten Parents

This. This is a letter I stumbled upon in Parents magazine last September and immediately tore it out (sorry pediatrician's waiting room). It contains probably the best ever advice to preparing not exactly your child but you, YOU (a beautiful concept) to get set to put your baby out in the big big world of education. Kindergarten it turns out isn't usually as tough on the kids as it is for us grown ups. 
Thank you Vicki Glembocki. You summed it up perfectly. I'll toast my wine with olives to you next week...


Dear kindergarten parents,
Take a deep breath. I swear, you won't get a call every day informing you that your child has run out of the classroom screaming "Mooooommy!" Even if you get this call just once, like I did, it will make you feel like a bad parent for not adequately preparing your offspring for the rigors of school. Don't fret: The transition to kindergarten can be tough on everyone. To get through, you may need to do some very hot yoga. Your child? She probably just needs a good midday snack. So pack good snacks.
If you ever forget to pack a snack, you will never hear the end of it. Ever.
From here on out, in this age of ├╝ber-efficient technology, your most significant communication with your child's school will probably happen in a two-pocket folder that your 5-year-old brings home each day. When there is a note for you in the folder -- a permission slip, a reminder to send in box tops, a request to man the Pick-a-Pop booth during the pumpkin fair -- fill it out right away. Touch paper only once.
Keep in mind that some kids will start kindergarten not knowing how to read a single word while others will be reading chapter books. Kids typically level out in second grade, so stop Googling "reading tutors." Seriously. Step away from the computer. Now.
Assume that everything you say or do at home may be repeated to the kindergarten teacher. If not spoken, it can most definitely be drawn, and when the teacher offers to help write a caption for the picture, your child may say, "Mommy's Wine With Olives."
Whether or not you work outside the home, do not feel guilty if you can't attend all of the many daytime events you'll be invited to, such as "The 100th Day of School Party" or "Dr. Seuss's Birthday Party" or the four-minute Halloween parade. Yes, it's special for your child when you are there. But if you're always there, it could stop seeming special. Be involved as much as you can -- it keeps you in touch with your child's activities, and it's good for you. You'll meet the other parents whom you will likely be seeing at Back-to-School night for the next 13 years. You will make friends. Good friends. So bring a batch of brownies to the next PTA meeting and be nice.
Prepare yourself. This year, your child may come home from school with a wad of tissue in her hand, and when you open it up you'll find a teeny baby tooth inside. You will realize, maybe for the first time, that your child now has a life that you will not always be a part of. And you will feel very sad about this, and also very happy, all at the same time. So do what I did: Take another deep breath, pour a "wine with olives," and whisper to yourself, over and over: "Give her wings."
All best,
Vicki Glembocki, mom of a toddler, a first-grader and a third-grader; Westmont, New Jersey



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How to Survive Your Kids This Summer

I love summer. Always have. Always will. It is in my veins. But a summer with children asking for something every 4 seconds? I can see how it might not be everyone's favorite time of year. All of those hours. All of those children up in your business. All of the time. Is it possible for someone to  invent a chocolate milk dispenser (with a side of a wine dispenser with an adult friendly child lock on it pretty please)? Is it possible to survive all of the "Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, MMMOOOOMMMMs"? Is it possible that could even be (gasp) fun?

For them and for real, you too sister, it can be. Pour yourself a glass of Pinot Noir (the old fashioned way) and let me tell you my top ten tips of summer survival:


  1. Make Friends with People with Pools. You would, of course, be friends with them any way but they kick ass all the more because their backyard equals a vacation. Pay them back by bringing the good, fun snacks for all ages and needless to say, wine. Happy kids, happy mommas.
  2. BORED = CHORES. If my kids even begin to say "I'm bor-" they are put to work. It's almost like them saying a swear word in front of me. Okay, really it's worse. I have a bored chore list so they will be scrubbing some toilets if they need an activity. Boom. Win-win. For me. Try it. You will be amazed at the imagination your kids will develop to avoid that list and how much they will avoid boredom. It is a beautiful thing.
  3. Fighting = loss of technology. You fight and seriously everyone loses. It is the opposite of the boredom chores. This one makes me suffer the most. Damn it. Don't make me take that iPad away. Shit. I have to take that iPad away. For a whole week. No negotiations. I could cry just thinking about it. Losing it for a week may seem harsh. But it has worked for my little tech lovers. Find out what they love and stick your guns with this punishment. I just realized I might be kind of a hard ass. And I like it.
  4. 5 Minute Clean Up. I have just begun being more of a regulator about enforcing this one and let me tell you, if used daily it is AMAZING. Set a timer for 5 minutes, let the kids race against the clock to clean up and you sit down and drink some wine tea (unless it is after 11 a.m. than of course a mojito would be the obvious choice). Do this in the morning and at night and your house will feel less like a tornado ran through it, your kids will be more conscious of how many toys they take out and you will feel like the fucking Queen Bee, a title you have earned. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
  5. Avoid the Grocery Store. Fo Real. But how do we avoid dragging every single dragging child to the longest trip ever each and every week to pick up milk and the "necessities" and end up spending $512? Listen young grasshopper: there are two ways.
    1. Shop the farmers market. This is always a happier way to shop for food. Your kids can see what food looks like in its natural, unpackaged state and what it should taste like and support the local farmers. Our larger farmers market even sells local wine. Another sells local crabmeat. PLEASE DON'T GO AWAY IN OCTOBER. You are deeply loved farmers market, so deeply loved. So take advantage while they are here. Your money will go farther and you will help to make a difference. Your $50 isn't going to hurt Target if you don't shop there but it will greatly help those who grow the food day in and day out.
    2. For everything else (ahem, toilet paper)- take advantage of local grocery pick up. I realize this isn't in every area but in many cities and suburbs there is grocery delivery and/or pick up curbside at the store. We use Peapod by Giant and I order all the groceries online, pay for them, choose the day and time that works for us and pull up in front, like a gangster (is that how gangsters shop? Either way it is bad ass, they should), and an angel of a human being puts them into my car. MY KIDS STAY IN THE CAR, STRAPPED IN. WITH NOWHERE TO ESCAPE. This may be one of my most favorite life savers since the pharmacy drive thru. It saves time, money and sanity. Probably lives too. 
  6. Work and Workout Early. This really applies to those of us who are "off" in the summer- teachers, writers, stay at home parents, working from home parents and any other position of spending endless hours with children and would like to do more than survive it. I find my sanity level to be in a much healthier place when I still wake up early to get a little work, workout and quiet in. Then no matter what happens in the day at least you can carry on knowing you got a little time for you in. When you've made the 12th meal of the day, the laundry is reaching the ceiling, the kids are naked painting each other and I am at the brink of losing it, I remind myself to reflect on those 10 blissful minutes of peace where I was alone. Completely alone. And that is enough to remind myself to wake up early again tomorrow.
  7. Read. Let them read every day. You read at the same time, something that you actually want to. Something with chapters. Something grown up. Just make sure that they are reading what they love and this may quickly become one of your favorite parts of the day. Lay blankets outside or a reading fort inside. Unplug. It will help them be more ready for school, no workbooks required. 
  8. Embrace Being Off the Radar. This is one of my absolute favorite parts of summer. Fun is what you are supposed to be having and people are quicker to forgive when you are. Didn't respond to an e-mail? Sorry I was on vacation. Missed a meeting? Sorry, I was thinking about vacation. When people are soaking in the sun, they are less consumed with accountability. More fun and more forgiveness are abound so enjoy it, September's consuming schedule will be here before you know it.
  9. Let Go of Guilt. So the kids have ice cream for dinner and smores for dessert. Again. So your household television time of one hour a day MAXIMUM has exceeded four hours. So you missed today's reading time. So they've stayed up too late and are up too early. Let's learn from Frozen's most valuable lyrics and just let it go. Let them be kids. Let them feel the sweetness of an open summer afternoon. Let the rest just go.
  10. Embrace the Day. Feel what it feels to not be scheduled. Play. Laugh. Throw a dance party. Start a food fight. Catch fireflies. What is the point of being a parent if you can't toss rules to the wind once in awhile and show them that you know how to have a ball? They learn so much from the way you live. Remember summer, how it used to be and how you yearn for it to be. There is limitless potential between June and August.
Summer goes by fast and childhood is even shorter. Yes you are the homework enforcer, vegetable police, clean up patrol and creator of good respectful citizens. But that also means that you are the puppeteer of childhood memories. You can make them priceless. You can give your kids the tools and the freedom to soak it all in. You are the Queen Bee after all. And you've got this.

Cheers and may survival and mojitos be with us all...
xoxo
Katie

This. More of this.
Simple. Beautiful. Summer.






Thursday, June 5, 2014

Merci Inventors of Ombre, Merci

I want to take a moment to thank those who invented the "ombre" hairstyle. Never has letting yourself go look so on trend. I like to think it was a mother or group of mothers who invented it. I heard it originated in France. This is how I imagine the whole situation going down:

A group of mothers are drinking wine one night at "book" club. They are commenting how they would love to go to the salon, alone, or get highlights or lowlights or something that looks like a hair style but they know the realization is that ain't nobody got time for that. Not yet. Not where they are in life.

When one momma, knee deep in Pinot Grigio, has a true eureka moment:
"Why don't we convince people that not going to the salon is stylish? Let's make people think that letting your highlights grow out 6 months past when you had a hair appointment to get them redone but little Jimmy got the stomach bug and now it is just not going to happen. That- that is the look that people should want to go for."
And another momma says with sheer joy, "Brilliant! All we need is one reality show star to get on board with it. It would help if we got a Kardashian. And the name. It just needs a good name."
One momma did a semester abroad in France 15 years ago but still obsesses about that time maybe a little too often, bursts out, "OMBRE! It means shadow en francais. Let's tell people that it started in Paris by models and they'll instantly be intrigued."
First drunk mom: "I'm pinning pictures of our hair right now to my ombre board."

They toasted their comedic genius and their already on trend grown out highlight hairstyle and the vision of ombre, thinking it would never get any further than this wine induced living room.

And here is what followed:

All it takes is one Kardashian with a Twitter account. 
And then:

Remember when roots were a faux pas?
Thank you American French book club mommas models...

Apparently not even brushing your hair is considered pin-worthy. Sweet.

My favorite part of this box is that it says "Wild Ombres".
Moms with grown out highlights are now considered bad ass rebels.

So thank you to the originators of ombre. Merci beaucoup. Let this trend last until I can get my wild, rebellious head of hair to a salon. 

Cheers.
xoxo...





Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My Kids are Hoarders

I'm not proud of my life at this moment.

The thing with hoarding is that you think you will realize it when it happens to you. Or your kids. That your life will be all like "Whoa there sister. You've got a problem." But the catch is that it's this weird gradual build up of RANDOM SHIT and you don't really have an "oh sweet baby there is so much ridiculousness taking over your room" until you there is some strange crazy odor that you don't even know what it is or where it is coming from. That is when you realize you're raising a hoarder. And it will frighten the hell out of you. Especially when you realize you really only have two options:

1. Burn the house down.
2. Clean out EVERYTHING.

Option 1 seems like the favorable one I know. But the aftermath of that clean-up seems like even more work than the pain of number 2 so I guess that is the option I am currently procrastinating.

Last night began operation clear out/hoarder no more/maybe one soon day my kids will have floors with a path by cleaning out under the girls bunk beds which is unfortunate because it hadn't been done,  well... ever and also a bummer because it was going to be one of the "fun" summer projects that I had planned. Okay it was the only summer project I had planned. Looks like cleaning the floors with a toothbrush just entered the itinerary! Happy June kids.

I'm not really sure that this counts as a real blog post. I just really needed to vent. And procrastinate. If you don't hear from me in a few days, I may actually be buried alive. Please swing by, preferably in a hazmat suit. With a professional carpet cleaner. Most preferably with a lot of wine.

May clean inspiration be with us all...
xoxo



Friday, May 23, 2014

The Lies of Lyme

So this is my experience with Lyme (disclaimer: I am not a doctor or any type of expert and I am not trying to be a downer on the Friday on Memorial Day weekend so please consider this more of a public service announcement to save you a trip to Google): 

Both Niko (2 years ago) and now Sophia have been diagnosed with Lyme disease. I feel there are some myths and lies about it so I wanted to let you know from first hand experience what to look for and what to let go of guilt about. Like hourly full body cavity searches. 

Lie #1: Look for a deer tick.

I never found a tick on either one. This has made me feel like THE WORST MOMMA EVER. Because you read these things about the tick needs to hang out on you for 36-48 hours or something insanely ridiculous that you think you would notice but the little bastard tick can be a small as a poppy seed and well I've gone a day not realizing that the milk was sitting out on the table (maybe 2) so I think we need to let go of the guilt of not noticing something so freaking small especially when it is on a clothed child with an endless number of hiding spaces. 

Lie #2: Look for a bulls eye marking.

I only found a bulls eye on Niko, never on Sophia. And the bulls eye can fade. So if you see one take a picture to show your doctor. Niko's was gone within 12 hours. I think I even noticed his because my boys tend to be naked more often then my girls. Bulls eye markings don't even always appear. Guilt lifted. 

Lie #3: The blood test will reveal a positive result.

I just read that up to 50% of of the patients tested for Lyme disease receive false negative results. 50%. Tell your doctor your symptoms and/or your child's symptoms. Fight to be their best advocate. Catching early is key to preventing long term effects (Google that at your own risk; too much information isn't always a good thing; just go to the doctor early and speak up for treatment love). 

WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR:

Flu-like symptoms, high fevers, headaches, fatigue. And the big one for us was that both of them complained of joint pain in their knees. That was the big sign. Not just my knee hurts. It was an internal, my knees can't bend they are in so much pain to the point of tears and requests to be carried because it was so difficult for them to walk. Lyme can look like a variety of other illnesses and viruses- it is a great imitator so if you or child has any of the above symptoms, please please get checked out. 

Sophia is getting better and has bursts of being her energetic full of fire self but it can go in waves where she just crashes and needs to lay down, especially late in the day. Niko two years after treatment is our fastest runner in the crew. He can play sports all day and night and rarely seems to ever get fatigued. I feel he shows what early treatment can accomplish. 

I don't put long pants and long sleeves on my kids to play outside in the summer like most things you read say to do. That's just mean. I think that would be letting fear win. I want them to love nature and live to not be afraid of it. It is a balance of knowing the risks and rewards.  It is a wild world we live in but it is one worth living out loud in. Just give them a little once over at night (remember that there's a difference between checking them and obsessing over them). You should show them that summer is happy too and embrace it. How many carefree childhood summers does one truly get in life? 

Be barefoot. Run through sprinklers. Climb trees. Roast marshmallows. Drink out of the hose. Throw on a some sunscreen and some insect repellent and let your kids be kids. 

Happy summer everyone...

xoxo







And if you want to read more about Lyme- here is one of the best articles I have found-  Top Ten Tips to Prevent Chronic Lyme Disease. Cheers.