Why This Birthday is the Ultimate Test in DGAF'ing

Why This Birthday is the Ultimate Test in DGAF'ing

I am in the mid-life in-between where things are happening with our kids, and things are also happening with our parents, and we’re stuck straddling the two trying to manage the drastic swings in emotions and also be good parents and good children and good husbands and good wives to each other. 

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How to Explain Death To Your Child Without Religion

How to Explain Death To Your Child Without Religion

If you're not religious, it may feel like you've opened the door to a room that's filled with a bunch of questions and minimal answers. How do you begin to explain the concept of death to a young child? Fear not. You can talk to your child about death and not need to lean on religion in any way.

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How to Get Yourself Out of a Writing Funk

How to Get Yourself Out of a Writing Funk

When I decided to turn this little hobby blog into more of a real thing, I had no idea how much work was involved in writing, promoting, and maintain the blog. So it's no wonder that in the three short months of going full speed as a mom blogger, I would hit a wall. If you’re reading this and have found yourself in a writer’s funk as well, here’s a few ways I’ve been able to dig myself out it and get back to doing what I love.

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The Mental Burden of Being a Mother

The Mental Burden of Being a Mother

Being a mom is beautiful. It is. But since my first little man was born, I've been living a new life and a new way of thinking. Long heavy thoughts about all of the things that I have to think about now, worry about, obsess about, concern myself with — that I didn’t have to think about before.

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How To Get Your Baby To Wear A Hat

How To Get Your Baby To Wear A Hat

If you're a new mom odds are you're feeling a bit anxious about exposing your sweet baby's newborn skin to all those damaging UV rays. It's essential that your baby wear a hat, and it's pretty easy to encourage them to do this.


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Watches He Will Love for Father's Day

Watches He Will Love for Father's Day

Watches are significant in that they are both practical; they tell you the time and can be a perfect excuse for men to wear jewelry (if they need a reason). As the wife of a watch lover I’ve had a front seat to hours of stories about watches and have become a bit of an aficionado myself.  Here’s a little primer to help you shop for a watch for a Father’s Day gift.


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Maternity Leave is Over. How to Adjust To Your New Normal

Maternity Leave is Over. How to Adjust To Your New Normal

Whether you have six weeks, six months, or six years, returning to work can be both exciting and nerve-racking and filled with quite a bit of, “what abouts” that may plague you as you sift through your plan to return to the working world.

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3 Reasons to Have Experiences Instead of Things

A week or so ago we celebrated our second son’s second birthday. And while I’m still reeling from the shock that he’s suddenly not a baby anymore (like when did THAT happen), I’m also reveling in a weekend spent soaking up family, adventure, and collecting moments full of memories… and not things.

It’s no secret that having kids means acquiring a ton of crap. Whether it’s toys, coloring books, playhouses or play kitchens shit seems to multiply into every corner of everything we own including the diaper bag and our cars.

We acquire goodie bags and trinkets from school and dollar bin toys from Target like we’re secret hoarders.  Every time my sister-in-law comes over, she brings more toys. And while my boys certainly love all of it, and we certainly appreciate the gesture, over time, all the stuff adds up.

Now if we decide to throw a birthday party we instantly double or triple the amount of crap, I mean toys, which the boys own and sometimes play with. But this may not be a good thing. Studies show that too much clutter in your home can affect your child’s stress level and tendency to experience anxiety.

3 Reasons To Have Experiences instead of Things.png

Don’t get me wrong; birthday parties can be a lot of fun. And getting new things is always awesome for a toddler’s excitement and joy level, but I’ve found that excitement quickly fades within a few weeks and we’re left with the aftermath of all the new stuff laying around everywhere.

This year for Sam’s second birthday, we chose to share an experience, instead of having a party. And here’s why it was epically awesome:

Build Lifelong Memories

On Saturday morning we woke up at the but crack of dawn, got the kids ready, packed up the car, and headed to Santa Barbara. Nearly the entire drive we sang songs played on the Spotify app that Sam loves.

Our destination was the Santa Barbara Zoo. We roamed and made impressions of roars of various animals, and got a very close view of the elephants eating their breakfast! We took the train and listened to a lion roar that was primal and astonishingly loud. 

We spent an insane amount of time sliding down a hill with a cardboard box, and the boys were in heaven from all of it. They both got to pick out a souvenir (so, yes, we did acquire two new things).

Children Sliding Down a Hill at Santa Barbara Zoo

Then we headed to a local Mexican restaurant that Chris and I have loved since before we were married. We ate and drank and everyone was full and happy.

A quick drive up and down the PCH and I was left with three napping boys. I parked on the Santa Barbara Pier waiting for everyone to wake up.

Next stop was ice cream (because, duh)  and a stroll on the pier and then to the beach to hunt for rocks. When everyone was good and done, we shook out the sand, packed the car back up and drove home with the same toddler radio jams. We fed the boys a dinner of peanut butter and jelly, tucked them in, and popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate two years of being parents to two children.

Boys on beach with rocks

Minimize Stress

As much as I love hosting and throwing a party, it can also be very stressful and overwhelming. Between the setup, execution, and clean up. Our clean up this year was unpacking the stroller, snacks, and backpacks… and shaking all the sand out of everything that made its way home from the beach.

Also, I didn’t need to write thank you cards; I didn’t need to exchange any gifts that were too big, or too small, or that we already had, I didn’t have to coordinate the return of rental furniture or clear storage space for extra food and beverages.

I know I sound like a hater on parties and stuff and like I'm ungrateful or something. Chris and I love hosting parties, we love and appreciate things, but sometimes we also love NOT being the hosts and sometimes like to have less stuff.

Less Stuff and Less Clutter

Because he only got a few items this year for his birthday (a stool he needed for the bathroom, a book from Grandma, some handmade things from some other friends, etc.), our house is otherwise relatively the same as it was before the party, I mean adventure. And the things they did get, their souvenirs, have been tops of the list of favored toys for a week now (and holding strong)!

In fact, we actually could stand to do a purge of toys and stuff accumulated between the holidays and now to get ready for the rest of the summer.

Spend Less Money...Depending

We didn’t spend the night in Santa Barbara, so we were able to save quite a bit of money, but if you’re planning an event out of town, this may make it a bit more expensive.

Otherwise, it's possible that you will save money if you choose experience over things or instead of throwing a party. A recent poll conducted by Babycenter.com reported that 26% of families spent more than $500 on their child’s birthday party.

For this event, we spent $50 on zoo tickets including extras like the train tickets (we are members of the L.A. Zoo, so we got a discount on the entrance). We spent another $50 on lunch, and $20 on ice cream. A total of $120 to celebrate our little man’s birthday.

And in exchange, we walked away with tons of photos to keep this memory fresh in our mind.

21 Life Changing Laundry Hacks You Need to Know!

21 Life Changing Laundry Hacks You Need to Know!

Staying on top of your laundry mountain can feel overwhelming. With these simple hacks you can feel less like a hot mess and more like a boss mom. Get organized (or not) but either way hack your laundry with these 21 tips.

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Master Inn Restaurant in Valencia: A Review!

This post was sponsored by Master Inn Restaurant, who compensated me for my honest opinion. The opinions reflected in this article are entirely my own. 

My second son was born two years ago a few days before Mother’s Day. It seems he will always share his birthday with this holiday meant to celebrate his momma. Because of this, celebrating Mother’s Day sort of sneaks up on us. We’re so focused on our littlest man that we eventually have an “uh oh” moment at some point in the week before Mother’s Day where my husband and I scramble to figure out what we’re going to do this year.

Okay, let’s be honest, where my hubby scrambles to figure out what to do but takes my suggestions and preferences into heavy consideration in all that scrambling.

Thankfully, Master Inn Restaurant in Santa Clarita invited me to check out their Mother’s Day lunch special to possibly add it to our list of last minute options. And I’m so glad they did!

I invited my mom friend Rachel to tag along for the recon mission. She’s heading out of town this weekend for a wedding so she won’t get to experience a “treat” lunch for Mother’s Day until they return. Also, she loves a good classic Chinese meal (or in this case, classic Chinese Fusion) so I figure she’s an excellent choice to join me for this assessment.

Master Inn Restaurant

Master Inn opened about four months ago in the shopping plaza near Eggs N Things and the Paseo Club. Their food focuses on a mixture of Chinese Fusion recipes that have been two decades in the making. It includes some classic American style Chinese favorites like Orange Chicken and Mongolian Beef.

The fusion of the menu is evident when you read other items such as sweet potato fries, and Borscht soup (a traditional Russian style beef vegetable soup). In fact, I’m later told that the Russian cuisine and cultural influence is rather significant in China due to the proximity of the two countries.  

Family Friendly

The ambiance is modern and clean, and it’s a great open floor plan.

They also have ample high chairs and kid-friendly options on the menu including my boys’ OG favorite: Chicken Teriyaki. Although I’m pretty sure they would also love the beef broccoli as they’ve both been on a broccoli kick lately and I want to honor this exciting development.  

 This bar has potential....

This bar has potential....

The Drinks

The drink menu includes a solid variety of Thai Boba teas as well as Chinese hot teas, and they also sell beer and sake which I imagine being a nice compliment to the food. (Although on the day I went, I stuck with the tea. Shocking, I know.)

Just the fact that they sell beer and sake AND a caffeine option make this place aces in my book to bring the kids for a meal. #momlife

Rachel and I both ordered the Classic Milk Tea with boba, which is a lightly sweetened tea.  I’m told the other teas on the menu are pretty sweet as well but that they can be adjusted if you’d prefer.  

 Mmm. Boba Tea. 

Mmm. Boba Tea. 

I ordered the Borscht and Rachel ordered the Corn Egg Drop soup so we could try a little of both. And ya’ll. Dayum. I don’t typically like Egg Drop soup. There’s something about the consistency and texture that puts me off, but this version was sooooo yummy. The same goes for the Borscht. It was hearty and also savory. It’s the kind of soup I can see myself ordering when I’ve come down with a cold and don’t want to cook but need SOMETHING comforting and hot and delicious.

 L: Borscht soup R: Corn Egg Drop Soup

L: Borscht soup R: Corn Egg Drop Soup

Then the food arrives, and it tastes just about as beautiful as it looks. And also holy smokes the portions are insane.

The Beef Broccoli is cooked perfectly. The broccoli is al dente, and the marinade and slice of the beef were superb. The Braised Tofu was savory and slightly sweet and delicious!

Rachel who conspiratorially confesses that she’s not typically a big fan of tofu dishes told me it was delicious as well! 

She also tells me that the Spicy Orange Chicken is definitely spicy and I’m probably not going to like it, but she assures me it’s really good.

We both try the Kung Pao Chicken, and it’s got a kick at the end that doesn’t take away from all the flavors. Even though it’s topped with some hot chili peppers, it’s rather more sweet than spicy, and I appreciate how they thread the needle with this one.

Mother’s Day at Master Inn

It may not seem at first like an obvious choice to head to a Chinese Fusion restaurant this Mother’s Day. The standard favorite is brunch or Sunday dinner with traditional family favorites.

But there’s something about the comforting flavor of these dishes, the welcoming modern ambiance, and the family-friendly atmosphere that suddenly puts it at the top of our list. Oh also, Mom’s eat free on Mother’s Day. (Yasss!) In fact, they have two options to celebrate the moms in your family:

Buy one, Get one Free from the Mother’s Day Lunch menu (This does not include beverages, and no coupons can be applied on this promotion).

Get at $15 Gift Card (for future purchase) with your $50 dinner purchase on mother’s day.

Master-Inn-Mother's-Day-Menu3.jpeg

Even if you can’t make it to Mother’s Day this year, Master Inn is worth checking out. The price is right too, most of the dishes were between $8 - $11 and the portions are ample enough for leftovers.  

They also have a student menu that is insane: $5 for many of their most popular dishes.

All in all, it was a pleasant and welcome surprise to find a solid Asian food restaurant in the SCV. I’m pretty sure this is going to be our new go-to for when we’re craving Chinese food be it Mother’s Day, or beyond.

 

How to Know When It's Time to Stop Breastfeeding

If you’ve clicked on this link, odds are you’ve been debating this question and are looking for someone to give you an answer.

The truth is I cannot make that decision for you. I could barely even make that decision for myself. I can only share with you why it was necessary and better for me and my family that I stop breastfeeding. You do you, boo. But if this helps you get to your decision more quickly, then keep reading.

What Happened With Breastfeeding Though?

I was three months pregnant with Jack when I had lunch with a friend who had just had a baby and casually mentioned how “easy” breastfeeding was, and how the people who struggle are just doing it wrong. “Make sure you have the whole nipple inside the baby’s mouth. Then you’ll be fine.”

I was six months pregnant when I started giving advice on Facebook mommy groups about using breastmilk for an eye infection. (Please don’t do this. Please see a pediatrician.) I had plans to breastfeed for “at least a year.”

How to Know.png

My body had other plans.

Almost as soon as my son was born, I created a perfect latch with him.  Or so said every expert witness to my ability to breastfeed.

I was praised for my eagerness and willingness to breastfeed. I was applauded for not using any formula. I felt like I was a shining beacon of the survival of the human race!

But Jack lost a full pound in a week and was turning jaundice. We were ordered a bilirubin light, and he was forced to be swaddled in it 24 hours a day for three weeks. Every other day, we somehow left the house to go to the pediatrician to retest his billi levels.

I was encouraged to feed him formula until my “milk came in” to help him gain weight and process jaundice out of his system. This is the first time I was ever shown how to use formula.

 My orange baby at the pediatrician. 

My orange baby at the pediatrician. 

It’s been nearly four years, but only now I realize: No one told me anything about formula the entire time I was pregnant. No one even told me how long it would take for my milk to come in or what it would feel like when it did so I had no idea if it had.

No one told me any of the dangers of things like starving your child if your milk didn’t come in (which is ultimately what was happening). I did, however, feel overwhelming guilt about “giving in.”

Jack was dangerously underweight. In the 4th percentile at his lowest. I stubbornly believed formula would be temporary.

I drank the teas, sipped the herbs, ate the “breast milk cookies,” drank tons of water, ate oatmeal, but still, I was forced onto a regimen of feeding him for ten minutes on each side, and then ten minutes on the pump, every two hours, no matter what.

 On the table next to me: tincture of an herb meant to increase my supply, water, tea...bottle. 

On the table next to me: tincture of an herb meant to increase my supply, water, tea...bottle. 

I spent hundreds of dollars on meetings with private lactation consultants where they weigh the baby before and after breastfeeding, and my sweet, orange-colored child (from jaundice) ate 0.5 ounces in 45 minutes of sitting on my breast with his goddamn perfect latch.

Even worse I had developed debilitating carpal tunnel from the hormones involved in breastfeeding. Which no one told me could happen. In fact, anytime I asked about the pain in my wrists, doctors, pediatricians, lactation consultants showed me how to adjust my hold to mitigate the discomfort (which was absolute bullshit because nothing could alleviate the pain at that point). No one told me anything about a hormonally induced carpal tunnel. Google to the rescue for that one.

The Beginning of the End for Me

At three weeks, I cried to my doctor that I was trying so hard and yet still, I couldn’t produce more than an ounce and a half in a 30-minute sitting, and I wanted to know what I was doing wrong.

He said, “ You’ve given it a good college try, Beth. I think it’s okay to do formula.”

I hung up the phone furious with him, how dare he tell me I tried!?

I told my husband that my doctor was an idiot and that he has no idea what it’s like to have all this fucking responsibility!

Two more weeks went by, and my carpal tunnel was so painful I couldn’t even lift Jack up to change him without Chris having to massage my hands open. I took everything for the pain, and nothing seemed to give me relief.

I Googled again and learned that odds are good once I stopped breastfeeding, the pain would go away within a few weeks.

I sat attached to a pump every three hours, while my husband bonded with our baby and fed him actual food.

I sat attached to a pump every three hours while my husband and baby slept.

I sat attached to a pump, drinking tinctures of supplements, gagging on how awful they are to produce a whole one ounce of milk. I’d feed this glorious, “liquid gold” to my baby, who would promptly spit up most of it.

This became the new trend. For every ounce of breastmilk I managed to pump, he would spit up half of it.

The pediatrician tells us that he has acid reflux. The pediatrician puts him on an antacid.

The pediatrician tells me that I need to cut some foods out of my diet to help with the reflux. The pediatrician tells us to change to a particular formula designed for acid reflux. It was all so much fucking work. And I was so fucking tired.

I cry that I have failed my first and most essential motherhood responsibility after giving birth to this beautiful baby boy.

Chris hugs me and lets me cry grieving tears for the body that I do not have.

At six weeks, I am still only producing two ounces of pumped breast milk in a half an hour. My carpal tunnel keeps me awake in the few precious hours I can sleep.

I choose to stop fighting this monumental uphill battle. I decide to bond with my child and feed him the real liquid gold. (Get it? Cos it costs money. Formula. #momjokes.)

And while I grieve, aching, profound grief. I’m also so incredibly relieved. I sleep for a solid six hours that night and wake up sad, but rested.  

Giving Breastfeeding a Good College Try

I attempted to breastfeed my second born son when he was born. I spent the entire day, latching him on (another perfect latch over here!) and pumping, and sure enough, there was the carpal tunnel. This time it started about four weeks before he was even born.

The first night in the hospital, Sam woke up scream/crying and I could hear his stomach growl through the cries.

I vowed not to make the same mistake as I had with Jack and shamelessly whipped out the formula I had packed, just in case the hospital gave me shit about wanting to feed formula and fed him without any of the shame. He slept for four fucking hours. And so did I. I lasted a full week breastfeeding Sam, and this time I didn’t pump at all at night, and I didn’t even really pump all that much during the day because I knew how this story ended and I didn’t want to read it anymore.

 Jack LOVED feeding his baby brother. 

Jack LOVED feeding his baby brother. 

Life After Formula

Today I have two charming, hilarious, wickedly smart boys who eat old cheerios they find in between their car seats just like the toddlers who breastfed for a year might do. And I could give zero fucks about any of it.

Breastfeeding may be the OG way of feeding your baby.

But, the DGAF way is to do whatever the fuck you want to do to make sure your baby is fed and that you’re happy and healthy and surviving too. #Fedisbest. 

What I’m trying to say is, there is a disproportionate amount of pressure put on young mother’s to do what’s “best” for baby, and unfortunately what is best tends to be considered the breast. It almost feels as if there are no other options. And if you’re not into this option, then you’re on your own sister.

How to Know If You’re Ready to Stop

I firmly believe breastfeeding is a choice that comes down to two things: What are you willing to sacrifice? How long are you willing to sacrifice it?

For me, I knew I was missing out on cuddle sessions with my baby, who would often fall asleep in my husband’s arms after he fed him formula while I was pumping. I was so envious of this connection and of this time. I was also so obsessed and stressed out about staying on some sort of breastfeeding schedule, taking the supplements, and pumping. I was focused on that, and not on my baby. It was a gut check to realize where my energy and thoughts were focused and how that needed to shift.

Also, I was suffering intense pain that would stop soon after I chose to stop breastfeeding.

The combination of these two bits of knowledge was a dull aching sensation in my body that told me it was time to let it go. The first clue of my mommy gut check. I could have been stubborn and fought it for weeks, months, even years.

Soon, after I switched to just formula, there was no shortage of cuddles. Within six weeks, after what little milk I was producing dried up, the carpal tunnel disappeared for good.

 Formula for the win!!! 

Formula for the win!!! 

Listen to your mommy gut with this one. No one else can tell you what is right for you or your family. If you’re worried about being judged, the odds are good you will be.

There will probably be some people who will comment on this post suggesting all the ways I could have "tried harder." Someone’s always going to judge your parenting choices no matter how difficult and well thought out as they may be.

If breastfeeding is enjoyable for you and your baby, then keep on keepin on. If, however, it's stressing you the fuck out, DGAF that shit, and make a change. You need to be the best version of yourself so you can be the best mom you can be for your little one.

 

How To Deal With a Sick Kid As a Working Mom

How To Deal With a Sick Kid As a Working Mom

And because I’ve had three years of various daycare illnesses rage through our house, almost always unexpectedly, I’ve become an accidental pro at dealing with a sick kiddo and that working mom life. Here’s how I tend to handle it: 

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How To Get Your Toddler To Try New Foods

How To Get Your Toddler To Try New Foods

Luckily, so far, we’ve been able to encourage a bit of foodie experimentalism with our toddlers.  Some of this is just because we’re stubborn AF when it comes to food, and we like what we like, and we want what we want. But a lot of it is through sheer perseverance and a commitment to wanting to raise the kind of kids who could eventually, have dinner at a friend’s house and be willing to try a new, potentially very unusual meal without complaint.

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8 Ways to Be a More Efficient Working Mom

8 Ways to Be a More Efficient Working Mom

Being a working mom is a great balancing act that requires planning, organization, and follow through. Or not. Because the truth is as a working mom with young kids, odds are you’re just surviving as best as you can on as little sleep as you can muster and eating the food scraps of your toddler’s chicken nugget dinner. It’s time to simplify your working mom life though.

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What Does DGAF Mean?

It's simple. DGAF is an abbreviation for the term, "don't give a fuck." 

But how it's used in context is where the benefits of abbreviating it come in handy. Before I was a mom, I might use it in a sentence like this: "It's Friday, it's 5:30, I'm DONE with my work for the day, and I just DGAF at this point. It's time to go home and start the weekend." 

Since I've become a parent, it's brought me different, deeper, multi-layered meaning. 

I've used it to describe my toddler's epic tantrums, for example: "Oh damn, he just dgafs if he looks like a crazy person right now, huh?" 

Hipster woman show middle finger, fuck you off sign in front of

I've used the term to express a vent to my fellow mom's in the struggle, "Ya'll, I DGAF anymore about 'healthy' eating because my children have not napped all day, I haven't had a chance to go to the grocery store, I don't know what's for dinner, I haven't showered, and I'm convinced the laundry just needs to stay in the drier for eternity. Bring me the thin mints." 

Alternatively: "Eff it. We're ordering pizza. I DGAF!" 

On a more cerebral level, I like to use this as a baseline for inspiration to help me focus and prioritize the things that I really do give a fuck about. Like my kids. Like my husband.

In fact starting this blog was built from a deep need to give fucks about being a creative writer, about honoring my voice as a writer, and about being authentic about what and who I am as a writer. Hence why this blog was started. 

Thanks for being a part of it. 

 

Why Daycare is Good for your Child and for You

I am the proud mom of two boys who began their time in daycare when they were infants. This was mostly a choice, in that I chose to go back to work because I love what I do and also because I couldn’t imagine a life where I didn't work.

daycare blocks

On a personal level, I wanted to have a structured socialization situation for my boys. A place where they would ideally be with the same groups of children day in and day out and be able to negotiate differences in personalities and preferences in a supervised way that also helped them feel loved and safe.

But over the past three years, I’ve come to appreciate having my boys in daycare for so many more reasons.

Here are are a few of them:

Daycare is a Giant Petri Dish Of Germs! Yay!

Yes, it sucks at first but everything in parenthood sucks in some way at first until you adjust to the newness of it and grow to appreciate and love it. And once you’re on the other side of the suckage, you can feel like a goddess mother who can tackle anything.

That’s how germs are for me. I hate being in the middle of it. I question everything I’ve ever thought about my choices to send my babies to the petri dish that is daycare until they’re not sick anymore.

And even more importantly, until half the kids in their class – more often the kids that started daycare later in the game -  come down with some new ailment and my boys sail through it unscathed. “WOW,” I think. “IT’S TRUE,” I observe. "They ARE building immunities, and it IS helping them! I’m a genius!"

Why Daycare Is Good for Your Child.png

Statistically speaking, I’m not wrong. Studies show that delaying children to begin school until kindergarten or even pre-school, can increase the odds that the same “sickness curve” will occur, just later in your child's early life. And depending on the sickness, it may even be a bit more intense than if they were to have it when they were babies.

Personally, I’d rather my boys miss all their schooling when they don't need to learn anything worth really needing to remember.

The Daycare Routine, Y'all! 

It’s no secret that toddlers and babies crave routine.

I didn’t fully appreciate the awesomeness of a routine until #2 was born. Being able to keep J in the routine he had become accustomed, I believe, helped him adjust to the significant life transformation that was being a big brother.

It was expensive and no doubt many families just CANNOT do this due to the financial burden alone, but we were lucky. I gleefully sent J to school, while I adjusted to life with his newborn brother.

Crayons, colored pencils Daycare

I also got the added perk of having several uninterupted hours a day when I could pretend that this newborn baby was my only one. I got to bond with him in a way that I may not have if I had the nagging attention seeking toddler circling me and his new competition all day long.

I may never know if his easy adjustment to being a big brother was because of who he is as a person, or if it’s because we kept him in the routine that he was familiar with. I’d like to think it was some magical combination of the two, and I’m grateful that we were able to do it this way.

Socialization and Problem Solving is on Point

Exactly as I predicted, my boys have learned exponentially about dealing with the “bully,” the “biter,” the “best friend,” the loud one,” the “one who doesn’t listen,” the “pusher,” the “scratcher,” and so on.

Okay sure, maybe that sounds like a particular bit of torture to my sweet innocent babies, but guess what. My boys tend to not be any of the above, and if they are, we are presented with teachable opportunities to deal with conflict.  

My boys are learning how to deal with uncomfortable situations and yes, even uncomfortable people, which is a life lesson I wouldn't be able to teach them any other way. They know how to claim their space. They frequently say to each other at home even, “No thank you!” and stand their ground and push away the would-be assailant. They also have no problem telling a teacher or me if someone is mean or rude, pushes, bites, whatever. They have an earned self-confidence and a sense of what is right and wrong, I believe, as a result of all of these experiences. 

They also have a keen awareness of being able to avoid confusing people or situations.

I once had a teacher tell me that they had written several reports a day for a week regarding a biter and a scratcher in their class. Almost every single parent was sent home with a report detailing these incidents...except for my baby boy. They told me he would avoid these two children who were biting and scratching. Circle around them. If they came near, he'd move. If they wanted whatever he was playing with, he'd walk away. 

Okay, do I want to put my child in a classroom with a biter and a scratcher. Do I want to have him in a stressful environment where he has to constantly dodge attack? Never. Nope. Don’t like it. Never will.

But I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to work with people who are rude, selfish, and just plain obnoxious. I know how to deal with these people because of all the experiences I've had. And I hope that my boys are far better prepared for larger classrooms, with less supervision, than their non-day-care cohorts might be.

At least I hope so.

preschool daycare children

Checks and Balances

If shit goes down at daycare people get fired.

How do I know? Because shit went down at the boy's daycare when a sleeping baby was left in a room with no supervising adults. His parent discovered him at the end of the day when the remaining children had already transitioned into another class. And the two attending teachers were fired. Their licenses were revoked and they will never be able to work with children again.

Not only that but the director of our school was required, by law, to inform us of the incident and have us sign a paper acknowledging that we’d been told all of this information.  

You may think this is pretty harsh and even a bit extreme. I did at the time, and I felt awful considering it’s a simple mistake and really? A one strike policy? That’s brutal!

But I respected the protocol. And if anything it made me feel safer leaving my boys in a place where they took things this seriously. There are severe checks and balances in place at most licensed daycare facilities. And it’s worth asking in detail when you tour each facility what their policy is.

Also, be sure to ask if they have cameras on the premises, if they record, for how long, and how often the data is cycled over. It's worth considering in case there is a questionable situation that needs further review.

Many in-home daycares do not have to adhere to the same stringent policies (especially if they are owner operated) but this is also why we chose this particular style of school-like-daycare. Because they aren’t owner managed. Because there is a system of checks and balances, a chain of command and lots of eyes and ears in every single hallway and classroom.

When it’s time for you to look for a place for your child to be loved and cared for while you return to work, consider putting them in a licensed daycare facility. Personally, I love the Montessori model of schools and would recommend that above most others.

But, you have to tour many to get a sense of precisely what kind of school best suits your child and your family (and your budget!)

 

I Took A Spin/Cycle Class for a Month and This is What Happened

Is it possible that my skin could look younger? Healthier? From merely taking a spin (AKA cycle) class? 

My husband said to me one morning, hair akimbo, makeup-less, making breakfast for the boys: "Your skin looks really good. Really healthy." 

I'd only taken four classes at this point, but I was already in love and now starting to wonder if, in addition to feeling stronger, healthier, and seeing inches seem to melt off my body, I would have other side effects? 

It turns out I'm not alone


If you’re unfamiliar, a spinning or cycle class is a form of high-intensity exercise that takes place on a stationary bike in a dark room. This is all paired with loud music, a high energy instructor, and in some cases, a leaderboard that tracks your speed, rotations per minute (RPMs), or your watts of energy expended in a ride.

I knew it would be tough. I knew it would be intense. But I had no idea how much my life would change in one short month.

Spinning or Cycle Class

After Five Cycle Classes:

I started to look forward to the next class almost as soon as I walked out of the one I'd just left, high on a significant boost of endorphins and adrenaline. Wondering how I can challenge myself and up my numbers.  

After Two Weeks of Cycle Classes:   

Clothes started to feel slightly looser. My appetite began to regulate naturally. On days I did spin class, I would crave more carbs than on days I didn’t. My sleep started to improve. It was easier for me to fall asleep and easier for me to stay that way. Even with a three-year-old and a one-year-old waking me up in the middle of the night.

After Three Weeks of Cycle Classes:

I hit a personal best in my overall energy expended. I felt newly energized.

After Four Weeks of Cycle Classes:

My oldest son got sick and was home from school for two days. The day he went back was Valentine's day, and there was a school program that I attended instead of going to spin. The following day his little brother was home, sick. So I was now at almost a full week of no spinning, and I was anxious. Antsy. Stressed out. I kept trying to figure out ways I could get to a class.

Thankfully my husband had that Friday off, and even though the littlest man was still home, sick, I went to spin class. 

I’ve always heard people talk about this phenomenon of craving exercise. Of enjoying a work out so much that you miss it when you miss a workout. I’d never experienced it quite like this, however.

I missed it so much; I cried when the class began. 

I’ve Cried in Cycle Classes, A lot:

It’s a relatively common event to be in a spin class and find yourself balling uncontrollable tears. Where does this emotional release come from? Some say it’s a combination of the repetition of your legs plus the positive and inspirational coaching from your instructor.

Others suggest that it’s something that happens simply from any high-intensity workout, where your body is physically going through a change, a mental component follows as well. 

For me, I broke down crying when the instructor said: “Think of the person who challenges you the most in your life. Push for them.” And also when a different instructor said, “ Push for the person, you will be in ten years.” And again when another instructor said, “You’re moving away from one thing and toward something else. Something better.”

I’m Forever Changed by Cycle Classes: 

I’m hooked. It’s something that I enjoy it’s something that I look forward to going to, and it’s the first exercise regiment that I feel like I want to do, not just because I have to do it.

I’m not saying you should check out spin classes, but I’m saying it’s important to find something that you love as much as you love your self. Because this is going to be a lifelong journey and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

5 Things You Need to Prepare Your Child for Daycare

Figuring out what you really need to get your infant or toddler started at daycare may seem so obvious, but when you're a new mom faced with this challenge, coupled with the stress of going back to work, sometimes it can feel overwhelming.

I went back to work after my first born was about seven months old.  After I had my second I returned to work when he was three months old. Because of teacher preference or administrative issues we’ve also transferred to three different daycares over the course of three years.  

5 Things You Need.png

I think it’s safe to say we have this daycare thing down pat.  But there are some things that I couldn’t do without when it comes to preparing the boys for their days of learning and adventure while I get to do what I love and also help to support our family.  

Some of the links below contain affiliate linking, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure policy here

Self Laminating Labels for Daycare Items

These labels from Amazon are inexpensive and super easy to apply. They’ve also withstood dishwashing for years as some of our sippy cups that were my oldest’s are now the possession of the baby. 

I tend to pre-write little man’s name on all of the labels in the package. This way, when I do have to label new cups or bottles, or in the event a label does finally fall off (or more often the baby figures out how to peel it off) it’s a quick peel and stick, and we’re back in business. 

Re-writeable Food Labels 

Most daycares require you to indicate whether or not the bottles you’ve sent are filled with formula or breast milk, and today’s date. Even as they transition into older classes, you’ll likely need to label milk and water sippy cups as well.  

These rewritable labels are fantastic because you can use a regular sharpie to tag and a paper towel to erase. 

They work a lot better once they’ve been run through the dishwasher at least once and make sure you apply them to as flat as a surface as possible. On some of our bumpier cups and bottles, we have to use the super small size to find a flat surface that won’t have it peeling off after one washing. 

Washable Clothing and Shoe Labels for Daycare

You’re probably sensing a theme at this point. Daycare makes you label everything, and for a good reason. I can’t tell you how many times an unlabeled spare blanket, sippy cup, or random toy has wound up in our stuff at the end of the week. 

I love these labels because they’re relatively inexpensive, come in different sizes, and are washable. We have them in jackets, on blankets, shirts, etc. They’re super handy especially if you have a younger child with hand-me-downs of an older sibling. You can quickly remove the old label or merely cover it up with a new one. 

I have super active silly boys who require a lot of running to feel whole and complete. These shoe labels have been able to handle all of it. Sand in the shoe? No problem. Wood chips? Easy peasy. They’re great too as the boys get older and show an interest in putting on their own shoes, helping them designate which shoe is for which foot. 

An Insulated Tote Bag and Ice Packs 

My 21-month-old still drinks whole organic milk and is required to have a sippy cup of water in his class as he transitions into drinking out of regular cups. I love having a little lunch bag to put this in because the odds are high there is no refrigerator. 

These ice packs seriously stay cold for-e-ver. At least that’s what it seems like. Plus I like using this insulated wine holder to keep the milk cup cool and supported standing upright in the bag. 
 
I also line the bottom of the tote with a kitchen towel because let’s face it; they don’t exactly make sippy-cup-friendly-lunch pails. And if they do, please let me know because I’m always on the lookout for new gadgets to make my life easier. 

A Tote Bag to Carry it All 

Sure you could have your kids carry a back-pack, and sometimes the boys love to do that. But I find it easier to just throw everything into a tote bag, like this one, to carry things in and out. I need my hands-free when I’m juggling carrying a car seat, holding a toddler's hand, or holding a baby and wrangling his brother. Being able to throw the tote over my shoulder has been super handy. Plus at the end of the week, when they send home sheets, blankets, and any lovey’s to wash over the weekend, this makes it easy to carry it all in one place. 

I also love that this one has a pocket for “bottles.” I tend to use it for stray artwork, or paper products that the boys are always collecting at the end of the week. 

Whatever you chose to do with your working days, and wherever you chose to send your precious little humans, just know that you'll be in good hands if you add a few of these items to your daycare arsenal for your infant or toddler. Good luck, Momma! there may be a few tears, but you can do it! 

What Happens During a Natural Childbirth

This post is about my experience with natural, unmedicated childbirth. I’m not fucking around in this. If you’re at all squeamish about things like vaginas or blood or poop or anything that might make you clutch your pearls and look at me sideways if we run into each other at Target then move along. This post isn’t for you. Particularly if you’re a dude who hasn’t experienced childbirth yet.

However, if you’re up for learning a bit more, then by all means, please continue.

I believe that all childbirth is natural because you're bringing a human being onto the earth who wasn't there before. And that is the most natural miracle that can occur, period. Henceforth, I prefer the term un-medicated. 

3 Things that happen during a natural childbirth

A Word on Modern Medicine

I love modern medicine. Medicine saved my dad’s life three times through three different rounds of cancer. Modern medicine allowed many of my good friends to conceive when other more historically traditional methods weren’t working. And really when it comes down to it, antibiotics, vaccines, and modern drugs can more often than not, save lives.  

But there are also benefits to doing things without medical intervention – if you are so inclined and also lucky.

I was one of the lucky ones.

I Wanted to Have an Un-medicated Birth.

Yup. I did NOT want the epidural. I didn’t want a C-section either if I could avoid it.  Although in some ways I thought it would be so much easier to plan for a date that I knew the baby would be here. (And if you know me you know I love to plan.)

But the more I read about recovery time and about having major surgery, and the risks involved to both baby and mom during all of this, the more I wanted to try to have an un-medicated birth.

I knew there were risks: My uterus may be shaped in such a way that baby would never be able to fit through the birth canal, (something there is no way to check for until delivery) for example. Or perhaps the cord could be wrapped around his neck in a way that doesn’t allow him to move through the birth canal.

I was also mentally and emotionally prepared with a plan to deliver in a hospital because I was exceedingly worried about the risks. I had a doula and a doctor who were both on board with my intention to go unmedicated, but we were all ready to switch gears should the need arise. 

There are so. Many. Risks. And if you’re reading this and considering going for it, please take all of the dangers into thoughtful consideration, being sure to speak at length with your doctor, midwife, doula, or whoever you have on your team.

Also double and triple check credentials and certifications of any additional help such as a doula or midwife. I was lucky to have found a doula who was also a midwife and who now owns and operates her own birthing studio. She's supervised hundreds of births and is one of the best in our town. 

Additionally, for many women, having a natural childbirth is not an option. There are real medical issues such as placenta previa, or other severe complications to baby or mom that can inhibit a mom's ability to have an un-medicated birth.

If you’re able, and willing to give a birth-au-naturale a try here are some things to expect:

If You Tear, It Will Hurt to Get Stiched Up 

Yup. I went there.

If you have a long, lovely (is there such a thing) labor your chances of tearing are far less, but your exhaustion is sure to be pretty significant. I was lucky that both my boys came pretty quickly once I slipped into active labor. And as a result, I had a second-degree tear of my vagina both times.

Sexy.

No, I did not tear in the same place. In-fact number two was in a highly sensitive area different entirely from number one. Because I had said no to an epidural, I felt everything down there during the stiching up process. 

Everything.

And even though my doctor was a highly skilled surgeon, it hurt like a mo-fo to have him inject a numbing agent and use a suture. Almost worse than the actual childbirth (but not quite). There are benefits to having an epidural to be sure. For me, the only one would have been not feeling the pain of being stitched up.

There Will Be Blood

During the aftermath of both of my deliveries, my husband was sure something was significantly wrong based on the sudden, intense amount of blood gushing from me. Even now, when I ask him about what he saw after both our boys were born, particularly with our second, he can’t let himself go there.

He shudders and gets this far away look and just says…blood. So much blood.

He thought I was dying. That’s how much blood there was.

Luckily, modern medicine was there to help and stave off the bleeding.

 Ya'll. This is not my birth but hot damn that's a real-ass picture of a real-ass delivery! (Props to this momma!) 

Ya'll. This is not my birth but hot damn that's a real-ass picture of a real-ass delivery! (Props to this momma!) 

In the case of our second kid, the massive amount of blood was caused by the tear as mentioned above in a sensitive area.

But there’s a lot of blood mostly from my placenta and uterus and all the other bits and pieces that were helping to grow these tiny little humans. The good news was that because I had a vaginal birth, all that blood came out pretty quickly in one fell swoop (rather than weeks and weeks down the line). 

You Will Recover Faster Than Most of Your Medicated Counterparts

After Jack was born, I was back to regular activity within a week or so. We went for a walk when the baby was four days old. I couldn’t walk very fast, or for very long. See above re: stitches. But I could lift mostly anything and could climb stairs and drive - things that many women who have a C-section aren’t able to do at first.

We went out to dinner with the whole family when Sammy was five days old (he was in the car seat the whole time - I'm not a total maniac). I was taking fast, and regular walks with him when he was just a few days old.

C-Section recovery can range from 6 - 8 weeks depending on whom you ask. A birth utilizing an epidural or other medical assistance can set you back six weeks. 

For me, this was hands down the best thing about having an un-medicated birth.

Beyond the physical recovery, there are mental issues that can come up as well including postpartum depression which is very serious and can be very dangerous. Please take your recovery seriously, regardless of the type of birth you end up having. I'm merely suggesting that your physical recovery from delivery may take less time.

In retrospect, it was also the easiest thing I would do as a mom. Which at the time was certainly hard to believe. 

For me, my real challenge came when I was surprised to learn how difficult breastfeeding could be. 

 Me and my littlest man seconds after he was born. Six Hours of labor. He was born 14 minutes after we arrived at the hospital in one big push.  

Me and my littlest man seconds after he was born. Six Hours of labor. He was born 14 minutes after we arrived at the hospital in one big push.  

If you're thinking of giving it a go but want to be uber-informed, here are some links to some of the potential risks involved with having an un-medicated natural childbirth. These aren't meant to scare you but are worth a read so that you can be prepared with your decision: 

1) Infant Death's Associated with Delivery Problems

2) Despite Doctor's Warnings, These Parents Continued With a Home Birth 

Hoping to have an un-medicated childbirth? Already have one and this post sending you down memory lane? Tell me about it below! 

How To Swaddle Your Baby in 30 Easy Steps

It's no secret that a good swaddle is all it takes to calm that newborn baby in its fourth trimester. Every good mother worth her salt can surely do this all on her own without the help of a blog. 

Except, lies!!!! Swaddling is the devil's milkshake.  Swaddling is some secret voodoo that leaves parents stressed, and overhyped, and sends grown adults into a tizzy because it's just not tight enough. 

Swaddling should, in theory, help your baby sleep. But more often than not, we end up spending more time forcing this little miracle supposed sleep helper to happen than sleeping.

Some of the links below contain affiliate linking, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure policy here

Behold: My tips to perfect that swaddle. 

1) Have a baby. 

2) Buy a swaddle. But probably the wrong one. Someone probably gave you two or three extra ones you didn't even know you needed at your baby shower and you have no idea how to use any of them but decide to practice on a stuffed animal bunny about two days before having a baby. So, you're good. 

newborn baby feet

3) The first swaddle you bought doesn't seem to work. Baby always seems to kick off the bottom part. Move to the second swaddle that someone gave you at a baby shower. This one has velcro. This one works! Success! Sleep! 

4) This one doesn't work! Thrash around in your bed for a few minutes until you wake up your husband and ask him to try swaddling the baby. 

5) Secretly watch on the monitor while hubby struggles with the same swaddle. Laugh. Eat stale breakfast cookies you find on your nightstand. Feel smug. You're not the only one who's terrible at this. 

6) Wake up to realize that somehow your hubby has swaddled and gotten the baby to sleep and is now snoring next to you. How did he even fucking do that? What day is this? What time is this? 

7) Carefully study how your husband has been able to tightly swaddle the baby without you even showing him how to do it before removing the swaddle. Vow to never tell him that you hate him for being a perfect Dad all of the sudden. 

8) Curse the man who invented swaddles. It must be a man. Just like the man who invented high heels and bras. This asshole has no idea how hard it is to be a woman, and now he's designed something impossible to challenge you every day! Realize suddenly that your hubby could do it. IT WAS DESIGNED BY A MAN THEN! 

9) Approach swaddling as if you are a man now. Use more force to squeeze the baby’s arms underneath the fabric. Be rougher. More forceful than your instinct would otherwise suggest. Stand back and admire your handy work, aka swaddle. 

10) Drink a celebratory cocktail. Eat celebratory chocolate. Watch a celebratory episode of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." 

Sangria.jpg

11) Feel accomplished. Go to bed. Check on baby one last time before turning in yourself, only to realize that he has busted one arm out of the top of your masterpiece of a swaddle. Whisper yell profanities until the dog looks at you like you're certifiable.

12) Try the man-swaddle-method again. Success. Sleep. 

13) Two hours later, the baby has woken with a free arm busting out of the swaddle. 

14) After re-swaddling, even tighter this time, text your mother to ask, “How did you swaddle me? What’s the trick?” Become horrified at her response the next morning: “There were no swaddles, and we just let you sleep on your tummy with a blanket in the crib.” 

15) Spend the whole day debating whether or not to let baby sleep on his tummy, un-swaddled. You lived. Right? 

16) Try letting the baby nap on his tummy, while you sit in a chair next to him for the entire hour and thirty minutes watching him breathe. Once he wakes, totally alive, vow never to do that again. 

17) Invest in three more types of swaddles on Amazon Prime that have a minimum of four stars and 100 reviews. 

18) New swaddle #1 works. But suddenly baby is almost too big for this size of swaddle. When did THAT happen? Spend another $100 on Amazon Prime ordering every size swaddle. 

19) Realize after the additional new swaddles arrive that your baby won’t need to be swaddled until he goes to college. Spend an afternoon sending back most of the larger sized swaddles but keep one. Just in case. 

20) Drunkenly tell your husband that you’re pretty sure you’re never going to sleep again. 

Mom who can't sleep

21) Wake up with a hangover, to realize somehow baby has been swaddled and is asleep in his crib. Promise to thank your husband for letting you sleep again. Do the quick math in your head that the baby must have slept for six hours. 

22) Vow to never speak of the sleeping baby because every time you speak of a sleeping baby, he never seems to sleep again. 

23) Go to sleep proud, smiling, smug that you have a “good sleeper.” 

24) Wake up thirty minutes later to a screaming, hungry, completely un-swaddled baby who is anything BUT sleeping.

25) Panic and grab baby who almost immediately falls asleep on your chest. 

26) Bring baby to bed with you, while you ponder the centuries of child rearing where swaddles didn’t exist. At least not the ones with velcro. Where women would wear their babies non-stop. This is how they did it and look at how far the human race has come! When you wake up, you will become a babywearing mom. 

23) Having slept, finally, with a baby on your chest, feel renewed about your life as a mother, and willing to give swaddling a try again because even though you slept, you now have a crick in your neck from holding baby all night long. 

24) Watch three more YouTube videos and practice with your baby. Baby smiles and laughs for the first time at your worried face. Look at him with awe and amazement at this new development. Cry happy tears. Keep practicing the same move to get him to do the smile/laugh again because you will never tire of hearing and seeing that smile/laugh. Think, this swaddling bull shit ‘ain't so bad. 

22) Eat a whole mess of chocolate… 

23)… Because you feel guilty about how much time you have tried swaddling and failed and not paid attention to the growth of your baby and he’s already over a month old and how did that even happen, and also feel guilty about how much chocolate you just ate. Eat some more to numb the pain.  

24) Vow to never feel guilty about anything ever again. You’re a mom now. You aren’t allowed to feel those kinds of feelings. 

25) When your husband comes home to find you in a heap of tears holding a swaddled sleeping baby on your chest and asks you what’s wrong, respond with: “He’s just so fucking beautiful!” 

26) Allow your husband to let you go sleep this one off too. Post pregnancy hormones are insane. 

27) Rested and refreshed, realize you do have feelings, even as a mom. And motherhood is hard AF. And that you can’t possibly be perfect even at swaddling. And your baby will sleep …someday.  

28) Still, buy two more swaddles on Amazon Prime because you are a glutton and no challenge is too great for you! 

29) Behold as your baby has somehow rolled over, while swaddled, during a nap. Panic and roll him back onto his back, to which he immediately rolls over again, pinned between the crib bars and the bed. 

30) Remove the swaddle. Thank the old gods and the new that you don’t have to deal with that shit anymore. 

I Survived 4 Kids Birthday Parties in One Day (And You Could Too!)

Recently a friend of mine asked me to “save the date” for her daughter’s second birthday party in April. Today is February 6th. 

That’s in two months, ya’ll.

Two short months until the beginning of  “The season.”

Statistically speaking more babies are born between April to September than any other time of the year, therefore leading to an onslaught of party invites both for baby showers and children's birthday parties. Add to that it is also historically wedding season. This is the season of socialization. This is the season of packed weekends with pending social engagements.

Yes, this is the hallmark of suburban mom life. But I not so secretly love it.  

Kid's birthday cake

Last year I had the chance to attend four birthday parties in one day. Due to work/life/writing balance issues, and then you know...the not-normal-political climate, for some reason I never got around to posting about my experience.

Lucky you that my friend is way ahead of the game inspiring me to finally shed light on the magical journey that was this family adventure. 

First an prologue:

“The Season” is perfect to feed the socialite in me.

“The Season” haunts my husband. He is an introvert. He loses energy being around any amount of people who are not family or very close friends. He describes it as “work,” and he has to mentally and physically prepare himself for any social interaction.

So when I told him we had four birthday party invites on the same day this season, four invites that happen at four different times so that we could attend all four parties (OMG THIS IS MY DREAM COME TRUE!) he surprised me by saying, “Let’s fucking do this!”

He liked the idea of not having to invest too much energy in one party, of challenging himself and us with this task. He felt like it would naturally be a conversation starter – giving him a break from having to come up with a topic. By the time we get ‘settled’ at one party, we would need to start packing up to head to the next one. The times overlapped.

But what transpired over the course of six hours was nothing short of a journey of introspection on the life we’ve built together.

Everything Is About Perspective.

We knew for weeks going into this day that it was going to be long. We had expectations that it would be tough but could it also be fun?

Just the fact that I had decided to blog about this changed our perspective – we were actively looking for funny or entertaining moments throughout the day.

People would comment, “God, I get exhausted after going to one party!” To which we nodded in commiseration. Because typically we do too. Except we had three/two/one more party to go. And this comment started to fuel the challenge.

Could we survive this!? Will we give up at some point?

However, our perspective was different.

Kids birthday Parties.png

On our way from party #1 to party #2, my husband was driving as if he had a police escort. Bobbing and weaving through traffic, hitting every green light…He turned to me conspiratorially and said, “I’m kicking this traffic’s ass.”

He was energized and enthusiastic. Make way, traffic! We have four parties to go!

On the way to party #3, he made two wrong turns and said, without any hint of irony, “I fucked it up again.” He was annoyed. I delighted,  “Safe to say you’re not kicking traffic’s ass anymore?” We laughed.

Leaving party #3 on our way to party #4 he drove around randomly through an unfamiliar neighborhood, assuming he had mastered the directions before pulling over to the side, turning to me and sighing, “Where the hell am I going?”

We busted out laughing again.

But we also noted:  If I weren’t writing a blog, we probably wouldn’t be laughing.  We would be sitting in tension-filled silence. An argument would have occurred.

We realized that our perspective relates to so much in our lives right now, even our marriage.

It’s no easy feat having two children under three years old, two full-time jobs, and just regular old life stress. All the challenges of parenthood can seriously suck at times. Shifting the focus to find humor has helped. Maybe it’s some fucking rose-colored glasses to be all, “Oh, but it’s your perspective that just needs to shift!”

But, I mean. Sometimes, it is! At least for some things, for sometimes. All I’m saying is it can help. It helped us.

My Kids Are Way More Adaptable Than I Give Them Credit…

We napped on the go this day. I don’t like to do this often, because I’m a massive believer in routine, and in naps in a quiet room in a bed. Surprisingly the almost three-year-old conked out on his way to party #2. HE DIDN’T EVEN MAKE IT TO TWO PARTIES, YA’LL, before passing out in the car.

The baby also napped, sleeping for about an hour in the car between parties #2 and #3.

Perhaps my favorite moment of the day was walking into party #3, grabbing a beer, walking back to our car parked on the sidewalk and handing the beer to my husband who happily drank it in solitude in an air-conditioned car while the baby slept in the backseat.

Oh please, like you’ve never drunk a beer in your idle car while your baby sleeps in the back. We weren’t driving anytime soon, and you can keep your judgey judgey pants comments to yourself.

As it turns out my husband was not the only dad sitting in a car with a baby in the back seat sleeping while drinking a beer. Once all the babies and the daddies were finally awake, they joined the party, and everyone was happy.  

The two things I love about this memory: a) my friend had alcohol at her kid’s party, which wasn’t the case at all the parties, unfortunately. And b) my husband got a chance to recuperate from all his time having to be extroverted by multitasking watching over the baby while he napped. Win fucking win.

Wrapped Birthday Present

It Can be Surprisingly Fun to Say Yes, But It’s Also Okay to Say No.

This was yes on speed. This was the toddler equivalent of cake and juice and pizza followed by a bouncy house.

And because of this, we have a barometer now – if things seem particularly challenging, or unmanageable, we can always say – “Oh but hey, we survived four kid’s birthday parties in one day. So THIS is nothing.”

Of course, I’m talking about the little things the “OMG we ran out of milk” – days. The “Fuck, I forgot we have a doctor’s appointment, and we both have meetings at the same time!” - days.  

But it’s also okay if we say no.

Saying no, though can sometimes feel so complicated. Sometimes there are politics involved – feelings of some obligation. Sometimes it’s a matter of networking – a boss’s party or a colleague. We won’t always be able to say no – but I’d like to try a bit more.

Because we are working parents our time with our kids can be limited. And shuttling them from birthday party to birthday party, weekend to weekend, can start to feel like another part-time job.

Saying no, without another obligation as the excuse, could feel like a slight. But it’s not. It’s just a way of acknowledging we need a break. And we need to honor our own time as a family together. And much like my introverted husband, we sometimes need the weekend equivalent of a timeout in the car, with a beer, and some air conditioning.

Overall, this was more of a positive experience than either my husband or I expected. And it puts getting invites for only one party into a perspective we weren’t counting on.

In fact, there’s something about only having one party to go to that now feels more exhausting than having the challenge of four – because what’s the fun in that?