Monday, July 20, 2015

How to be the most prepared parent: purse edition

I decided to organize my purse by putting everything into make-up type bags. That way, I can switch purses really easily. Also, everything is all neat and organized. It is a win-win. There are some cute pouches on Etsy (like this one, below) and some cheap ones at Forever 21.

Anyway, I have one totally dedicated to being the most prepared parent, ever. Just kidding. It isn’t a competition. But one time, Hannah took off a bandaid and her arm was all red and awful looking where the sticky part was. I was like, oh shoot. I wish I had some hydrocortisone. And I got home and hit Amazon like a woman on a mission.

They have these little packets for first aid kits. 

You can get Neosporin-like packets. You can get packets for burns (I keep a couple of those in my bathroom where I curl my hair. Because curling irons will scar, you guys. They don’t mess around.). There’s wet wipes, sting relief wipes, alcohol wipes, iodine wipes, I don’t even know why you would use one iodine instead of alcohol or plain old wipes. But the point is, YOU HAVE THEM IN YOUR PURSE. Someone is like, does anybody have any iodine? You’re like, I DO! because you're the best parent in the world! So maybe my four-year old might flip out every morning at the prospect of wearing clothes on the bottom half of her body. But I am prepared for emergency surgery at the Zoo. (BTW, you can buy a travel scalpel on Amazon. Just sayin’. It isn’t in my first aid bag, but it was in my “Amazon suggested items list." That is when I knew I had been searching too long and too far. I could just buy a couple more bandaids and call it a day.)

I also got a small, weekly pill organizer for things like benadryl, sudafed, ibuprofen, etc in each day.  If a pill isn’t somehow obviously labeled, I’d recommend printing out and taping on the inside of the pill organizer lid what it is and what the dose is. Because when I was living in NYC, I was taking Ambien, and then they made a generic for it. And it looked just like my prescription allergy medicine. I mean, identical. You have to be really careful sometimes about some pills, is my point. 

Of course, I also have a non-medical emergencies bag. Because when you have small kids, everything is an emergency. As in, they are thirsty. For example. Or, their foot itches, but they can’t scratch it because their shoe!!!  But this bag is for things like Shout Wipes, pony tail holders, hand cleaner, safety pins, chapstick, you know, stuff like that. (In the summer, it’s not a bad idea to throw in a sunscreen stick and some mosquito repellent, like some Cutter wipes, in case you something bizarre happens to your regular stash in your car, swim bag, etc.)

I also keep some cute, unlined, polka dot notebooks from the Target dollar bin for the girls to draw in during long waits. Between all that, I’m pretty much prepared for anything. Seriously. Anything. Zombie Apocalypse? I’m on it. I have Shout Wipes and safety pins, okay?

Just kidding. But I’d be interested in any cool things other parents keep in their purses. (That’s right, dads can carry a purse too. A murse (man purse), if you will. Or a bag of some sort. We don’t judge here.)


Thursday, July 9, 2015

The lazy mom’s guide to household organization

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not lazy-lazy. I mean, if somebody makes a mess, it’s not like we just throw newspaper over it.

But it is like I’m JUST lazy enough to be efficient. 

Like have you heard of that parenting hack where you layer the fitted sheets on your bed? Like this:
  1. Top layer is a fitted sheet (obviously);
  2. under that is one of those waterproof fitted sheets (they make those for adult beds too, don’t act like you have to wet the bed to own them. Our mattress warranty would be nullified (allegedly) if we didn’t use one...but who ever cashes in on a mattress warranty? I think they are just trying to sell you another product. luckily it is a product that has proved itself amazing);
  3. next, you use another fitted sheet;
  4. finally, we use a padded fitted sheet for extra squooshiness, but you could do whatever you want here, including nothing, I guess.
Here is the genius of it. Let’s say somebody comes into your bed and throws up everywhere (WHY? WHY!) , or you you go to grab a glass of water in your half-asleep state and spill it everywhere, or maybe you wet the bed (I’m not here to judge you, this is a safe space)? You just take off the top two sheets (throw them in the wash if it is vomit, for the love of all things holy), and go back to bed!!! put them back on the bed in the morning! It is like magic! No fumbling with replacement fitted sheets at 3 AM.

That is the kind of lazy I’m talking about.

Also, and this is huge, to be an awesomely lazy mom, you have to put your kids to work. Their freeloading diaper pooping days are over. They need to start paying rent. Earning their keep and such. That’s why I really like these:

This Etsy shop makes chore charts and custom magnets with pictures (they also have words on them so it is like, literacy strategies and chores mixed into one. Genius). Mine have the girls’ names on the chart and mostly their bedtime routine on the magnets (brush, floss, clean the playroom, etc. etc.) My favorite magnet is the reminder to get water. Nothing makes me want to set the house on fire more than a kid I thought was asleep who, all of the sudden, realizes she needs water. They have to get that before they go to bed. Because MAGNETS! Darn it!

I also love these:

They are from this Etsy shop. And it is a downloadable, editable PDF. I like to use it to track things like how well they are doing at giving “gentle touches” (aka, not hitting each other, but I’m trying to focus on positive goals) and using gentle voices (see also, no gratuitous screaming, no being mean, etc). I break it down into gentle touches and gentle voices in the AM on the way to school, in the PM on the way home from school, (our commute is a beast) and in the evening. I try to focus less on creating a “token economy” (you get a reward for doing what I want), which might undermine their internal motivation to be good people), and more on using it to notice trends. I also like to ask them to self assess (did you do x this morning/afternoon/evening)? They are usually pretty honest and I think it is good for them to reflect on their behavior. Once I get enough data to see if there are trends (e.g., Maggie is a morning monster) I can try to do more to help give the girls tools to suck less at the times they seem to struggle. (jokes! kids don’t suck. what kind of terrible mom would say such a thing!?). It is also good for tracking mommy’s gentle voice.

I also use it to track how well each girl is doing her chores. Because, sometimes one girl cleans a room for the both of them. I want to make sure that that girl gets recognized and rewarded (with mommy/daddy dates) for that.

I also love these habit trackers from this Etsy store. It is downloadable and editable so you can put in those chores you don’t really feel like doing (e.g., making your bed, wiping down the counters, whatever.) on there and keep it in your planner. And when you are sitting there like, should I sweep the floors or not? You’ll think, if I don’t sweep, I can’t put a check on my habit tracker! UGH! and you will totally sweep. Because there is nothing more fulfilling than a checkmark. Not even cleanly swept floors.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Little Kid Seat Belts Are for Winners

Hannah is getting to the age where she can tell that her parents aren’t as “cool” as some of the other parents. For instance, she has figured out (Lord only knows HOW?) that some of her friends use adult seat belts and some of her friends are, like her and her sister, still in little kid seat belts. So not cool.

I know you can move kids to a booster seat when they are four years old or forty pounds, but we stay in the safest seat possible (cough, we were extended rear facers, cough). So we are staying in car seats until the girls outgrow them. So even though the girls are four and forty, as are most of their PreK friends, they are still buckling up with little kid seat belts.  And thanks to Hannah I know exactly which of her friends are also in little kid seat belts.

She wanted to know WHY?! So I told her because we love her more than some of her friend’s parents. Obviously.


But her friend Brooke was in a car accident this morning. Luckily, she is in the little kid seat belt group. Hopefully the car accident wasn’t seriously. And she is okay. But I was relieved to know she was in the not-cool parents club.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


We had a lovely Thanksgiving. I should have gotten more pictures of some of my awesome dishes. But I guess I was a little too busy cooking. You know how it goes. (I also should have gotten some pictures of my lovely family, whom I am incredibly thankful for. But yeah. That too.)

For the first time, we moved our meal to later in the day. It was actually kind of awesome. I don’t know why we hadn’t done it before. We had brunch snacks and drinks out all morning and afternoon and then Thanksgiving for dinner. I didn’t have to wake up crazy early to put a giant turkey in the oven, which was huge. And it was just way more relaxed, all around.

We also tried that spatchcocking thing. I hope it is a verb, because if not, I just made it one. It went really well! Except most of the directions we found, didn’t seem to provide really clear cooking times. We had just read sort of vague “90 minute” or until the bird is 165 degrees guidance. Turned out, it was more like two hours for our giant bird. NBD. It's not like we were timing everything else around the turkey. 

I was really proud of the table setting. Because I’m not naturally good at this sort of stuff. So it means a lot to me. It looks even prettier when you dim the lights. But I’m also not good at photography.

My cheese tray, the cheese is supposed to look like a turkey. I made a face in the dip. I didn’t try that hard because once I had this amazing veggie tray that looked like a turkey and nobody ate it. Because vegetables, maybe? Anyway. My sister said something about my snowman dip. Eh. Close enough.

Here’s one of the dishes I did get a picture of, Brussels sprouts and bacon. it was my first try and it turned out pretty good.

Here is our broke back turkey before we cooked it (obvs).

Here are two worn out girls. And they needed their holiday rest. Because after thanksgiving is CHRISTMAS SEASON.

And yeah, we got the decorations out right away.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 24, 2014

What I’m Thankful For

Something I like about November is that it gives me a good excuse to come up with a list of things that I’m thankful for.

I bought this from Pottery Barn Kids (and plan to keep it up year round, because I love it) and we have started talking about things we are thankful for at dinner. Except the girls sort of get stuck in a rut where Hannah is always thankful for the iPad and Maggie is always thankful for macaroni and cheese.

We are working on it.

But keeping track of things you are thankful for is pretty much the best idea ever because it is the easiest and most rewarding happiness habit. I love to look back at old lists (I started keeping them on my phone). Highly recommend.

In No Particular Order.
  • Cold Weather. I always love cold weather in the fall (I stop loving it at the end of the winter, obviously). It’s so festive at the beginning of the fall though!
  • Warm Clothes. I love warm clothes. Like fleece lined tights. I think everything should be lined in fleece. Or sherpa. Or fur. (faux fur, of course)

  • Seasonal drinks. Hot chocolate, seasoned lattes, warm apple cider.
  • Fireplaces. The smell of families in the neighborhood using their fireplace. I don’t really like using the fireplace that much because smoke weirds me out. But sometimes we do it, around Christmas. But I like the smell of other people doing it.
  • Play Time. When the girls are playing together nicely. I especially love it when they are doing it all on their own and I didn’t have to encourage it in any way. (i.e., take away an iPad.) It is like, I want to go back to myself as a mom of babies me and say, hang in there. it gets better.
  • Big Girls. Ditto when the girls dress themselves, or put their seat belts on themselves, or get themselves water or a snack by themselves. It is like some kind of parenting miracle. It is about that time Cork will chime in with, hey! let’s destroy all our progress with another baby! And a little piece of my happiness sets itself on fire and goes up in flames. Just kidding. A baby brings its own special happiness. That is immediately cancelled out by all the hard work they demand. kidding again. kind of. No, seriously though, having babies and becoming a mom brought out this whole new, kind of awesome if I do say so myself, part of me that I’m forever grateful for. Kids are super hard though. like for real.
  • Going to Bed Early. I don’t know why I didn’t go to bed early starting in college. Like I know it isn’t “cool” but neither was I, so it would have worked out nicely. Going to bed early is my favorite. I go to bed early all the time these days and it is everything I ever dreamed it would be.
  • Pinterest. Don’t judge me, but I freaking love Pinterest. It has introduced me to some of my favorite recipes, decorating ideas, fashion bloggers, and craft/learning projects for the kids.
  • Marriage. I really lucked out with the whole marriage thing. I found someone who cooks (as in, dinner every day. Yeah, it is awesome) and cleans. He let’s me take naps on the weekends. I mean, sometimes we may want to punch each other in the face (which is kind of nbd, I sometimes want to punch everybody in the face a little) but we haven’t ever done it. Not once. (fyi, ditto everybody else I sometimes want to punch.) And he makes me laugh. (a lot.) Also, he reads directions, which I’m pretty much too lazy to read ever. So he’s pretty awesome to have around. And he never embarrasses me. EVER. A million years ago, I thought I’d never get married because I’m super judgmental about people saying nonsense or terrible things. And it seemed inevitable. People would be talking and I’d just be like, oh gosh, that was logically disastrous or super distasteful what you just said. and I can’t be around you any. more. ever. starting right this second. oh god. now. make this stop. And Cork never makes me feel that way. He’s really smart and compassionate. Like, really really. Which is huge. Because, I’ve seen other people with husbands who say stuff and I cringe for them and immediately love my husband even more. I mean, yuck. I don’t do second hand awkwardness very well. Plus, I’ve probably never been happier. So there is that.
  • Preschool Pick up. Drop offs still suck for Maggie (and therefore, me). But she makes up for it when she runs screaming to my arms at the end of the day. Or when I come while they aren’t outside playing and I see her jumping up and down at the window, saying, “MOMMY!” over and over again. 
  • Work BFFs. Work can be pretty rough sometimes. And yet it is bearable because I have these amazing friends who I get to see (almost) every day. Except they keep quitting (because see above). But I’m still forever grateful for their friendship and everything I’ve learned from them and all the times they have been there for me.
The corner of my desk that I used to cheer myself up
  • Extended Family. I have so many family members so close by, and it is amazing. I can call my sister and ask if my husband can borrow her car for the afternoon because his just got towed off right by her office parking garage. I can call my other sister and ask if she can watch the girls while I run and get my eyebrows done. I can stop by my parents house on the way home because the traffic is ridiculous. And best of all, we can all get together Saturday morning for pancake breakfasts. Plus, my brother’s in-laws live in Austin too, and they are pretty cool. Not that I’d borrow their car or anything (yet) (just kidding). But compared to moving to Washington, DC and NYC where I knew almost no one and had to move myself in and out by myself, and stuff like that, this is like heaven and I will never take it for granted. Feeling the opposite of lonely, and knowing you always have people you can count on, all the time is basically the best thing ever.
  • Puppy Dogs. I love having dogs. I love how every morning, when we feed the dogs breakfast, they will lick their plates clean and then simultaneously switch sides of the kitchen, running to each other’s plate to make sure the other dog didn’t miss a speck of food. I love how they are such creatures of habit (like me), and how Junebug is always cold (like me), and down for an extra blanket, and how much Maggie loves Tybalt (not like me, but still). I just love how they are always so happy to see us, and vice versa.
  • Crazy Baby. The girls have invented this game they play together called Crazy Baby. It is sort of like preschool with their dolls. The best part is, they have “special” versions of it, like Crazy Baby Halloween. And since they play on the iPads (#sorrynotsorry) they sometimes refer to adding new versions of the game as “downloading” them and retiring certain versions of the game as “deleting” them. As in, “if you’re not nice to me, I’m going to delete Crazy Baby Special Surprise!” or, “Thank you for letting me sit on the driver’s side! For being so nice, I’m going download a brand new Crazy Baby. It’s called Crazy Baby Christmas Time!” It is like, life imitating apps.
  • Shopping. (Just ask Cork.) Sometimes when people try to help me figure out what I should do with my life, they ask me what my favorite job was. And I always look back fondly on my time at J.Crew. Is that weird? I don’t think I could really make it in the retail business, though. Because Black Friday through Christmas conflicts with my favorite time at home (back then, not so much). But. One of my secret joys in life, I’m not even going to hide it, is shopping for clothes. If anyone ever needs help shopping for a big event or even a small one, shopping is pretty much my favorite thing. I basically deal with this unrequited love by filling up online shopping carts and closing the browser and walking away. Or not (Just ask Cork). 
  • Halloween through Christmas. I never want this part of the year to end. It is amazing. I love coordinating costumes. I love planning family meals. I love decorating. I love twinkling lights. I love all of it. September through January first needs to last longer. Or they need to get better holidays in the spring.
  • Cute Animals I found on Social Media. Self explanatory. But if you need any examples: Marnie the Dog, Pygmy Marmoset, Baby Eisleigh and Clyde the pit bull 
  • That I Could Go On And On... I could talk about how I’m still in touch with my elementary school teachers who are the most amazing women. How much I enjoy reading silly kids’ books to my girls. How thankful I am to own a home in a neighborhood I love on a quiet street where cute little kids walk with their parents and stop to stare at our pumpkin with the ghost that pops out (during Halloween, obviously). How much I love it when the girls put their plates up after dinner without being asked. How much I love it when my sister is better with my girls than I am, because that way I don’t have to get that awful, “nobody can mother them like I can” feeling (who knew that feeling replaceable would be such a relief?). That I have a minivan with doors that open remotely with the push of a button (it is awesome, TRUST ME). That I have friends all over the country from all different times in my life that I'm still really close to and can confide in and ask for advice about all sorts of random things. That I have great in-laws who love my little girls and treat me really well. That my family is healthy and none of us is under the care of an oncologist. And I could keep going and going, but I'll stop.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pictures of Your Children You Shouldn’t Post Online

Every now and then, it seems like there is all of this advice everywhere about how I should be doing the digital equivalent of locking my children in the basement and pretending like they don’t exist. I get that social media is relatively new and we are making the rules up as we go. But it is really hard not to laugh when people are like, KEEP YOUR KIDS COMPLETELY OFF THE INTERNET! Because CONSEQUENCES!

Like this stupid post. It is much better if you saw it on Facebook with all of the comments mocking it. And then you’ll sometimes hear the, Your Kids Won’t Get into College Because You Posted a Baby Picture of Them fear mongering (college admissions officers will know your kid was once a baby; Harvard and Yale don’t have time for that). I mean, take a deep breath, guys. 

Maybe time will prove me wrong. Maybe I will be like the internet equivalent of the people who used to just throw kids in the back of a station wagon with a can of Tab while chain smoking unfiltered cigs. People will look back at me and think, how scary was that?! How lucky that nothing went terribly wrong? But I like to think I’m more like the person who read the urban legends about stuff like Pop Rocks making kids explode and thought, mmkay, guys. Whatever you say. And then went about my life without losing any Pop Rocks-related sleep.

via etsy

In the spirit of keeping your kids EXTRA, SUPER-DUPER SAFE, I’ve provided some evidence-based guidance to help you figure out what could happen if you post certain pictures of your kids online.


Pictures of children looking cute

Never post pictures of your kids looking cute. If you’re children are unattractive, this does not apply to you. If your children are cute, and you can find a way to “redact" their cuteness (through black boxes, for example), I urge you to do so. A Yale researcher found that people react to cuteness with aggression. Basically, people will see your cute kid and will want to squoosh him/her. They will most likely, hunt your children down and SQUOOSH THEM. Or perhaps worse. The only way to protect your kid is to only share not-cute pictures. Lock up any cute pictures, and don’t even look at them yourself. You probably shouldn’t even look at your own kids, IRL.

Pictures of your children being happy

Posting pictures of your kids being happy makes people sad. According to a Stanford grad student’s research, people see your happy kids on Facebook and think they are always happy (spoiler alert, they’re not) and it makes the people sad because their own kids, or lives, or whatever aren’t always happy. When they get all sad, I mean, who knows what a sad person will do!? Probably something AWFUL!!! And this is YOUR FAULT. Probably. Because everything is your fault if you’re a mom. You should know this by now.

Lots of Pictures, Regardless of the Content

Apparently, people hate over posters. I get it. I mean, babies don’t do that much. So posting a hundred pictures of them doing nothing is, maybe on the “a lot" side. (To be fair, over sharing isn’t limited to parents/kids; but I mean, hey, you look totally different in your car selfie today than you did yesterday, kind of.) But if you find yourself providing super frequent photographic updates about grocery store trips and potty training escapades, just a heads up, people might stop liking you. And if people stop liking you, then who is going to let you join their impromptu militia during the zombie apocalypse. So think twice about over sharing the pictures, because zombies.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

To Time Out or Not To Time Out

So one of the big parenting debates of late is whether or not time outs will ruin your kids. Because, you know, everything ruins your kids these days. (THE HORROR!!)

Like how, a couple years ago they were all yelling at us for being helicopter parents who wouldn’t let our kids take risks.

And now they are yelling at us for ignoring our kids and obsessing with our smart phones so now our kids are getting hurt too much.

Whatever. We do everything wrong, the end. Amiright?


Time outs. The American Academy of Pediatrics is all, one minute for each year of a child’s age. And insist it isn’t a punishment, per se. But rather a chance to regroup. 

But then Time Magazine is all, Time outs are hurting your child. They make some good points. And Amy McCready, who wrote one of my favorite books If I Have to Tell You One More Time is all, Why Time Out is a Waste of Time.

But then Parent-Child Interactive (PCI) Therapy, which is research-based and has had very positive impacts on a huge spectrum children, uses time outs. I believe their time outs are only for one minute and the goal is to eliminate the reliance on time outs altogether. I think. It was a while ago I read about it. But I think you are supposed to get to the point where you just warn your kids and they stop misbehaving. Like magical angel spawn. 

So here is what I have done. I read conflicting advice throughout my parenting career, and alternate between different approaches as I go. Because everyone knows that the foundation of good parenting is inconsistency. Amiright?

Shoot. You guys. What the heck, you know??

I think the goal of PCI therapy is to give the kids something negative that they are motivated to avoid.  What is that? Negative reinforcement? Punishment? Oh, intro psych, you were SO LONG AGO. (when did I get so OLD? jokes. kind of.) My point is, the time out is short and not life ruining (Oh, THE HORRORS, Time Magazine!). That seems fine. An alternative would seem fine too. So whatever. I like the idea of time outs, as in sports, where you strategize and trouble shoot with the kiddo. But a pissed off preschooler is not much of a strategizer. They have a ton of other skills though, like screaming, kicking, and generalized terrorizing. So if you find a way to put those to good use, let me know. Mmkay, thanks.