June 29, 2011

Glitter Ain't Welcome Here

Confession: If my child brings home art from school that contains glitter, I throw them away.

I hate glitter. Actually, I LOATHE glitter. I can't possibly understand why this craft accessory was created. It.Sticks.To.Everything. And the things multiply. I swear they do. Let one glitter particle enter your house and you end up with them everywhere.

When The Little Girl was a toddler, we did lots of crafts. Lots. It was the only thing that kept us both sane. I don't claim to be crafty at all but I can copy real well. I'm pretty sure we have done almost every craft that has been posted on this site (also known as a gift from the stay-at-home-mom fairies). I wanted Missy Prissy to be able to experience all mediums that go with art and I suppose that included glitter. I monitored the glitter use very carefully and there was even a box that went under our project to help keep the sparklies contained.

I distinctly remember the day I reached my breaking point with glitter. It wasn't my finest moment as a mom. We had just gotten home from a vacation. You know the kind. The vacation where you come home more exhausted than before you left. The kind where you were in a rush to leave and had to leave the house in less than stellar condition. The kind where you conveniently forgot about all of life's troubles but the stress of life swarms the moment you declare, "We're home." Yeah, it was that kind of trip. We hadn't been home even an hour when The Little Girl obtained the silver glitter and poured it out. I was stressed already and the sparkly stuff sent me over the edge. I screamed. I cried. I was a hot mess. As I said, NOT one of my finer parenting moments.

But, from that point on, glitter was a bad word around our house. Everyone knew that Mama didn't do glitter. I think Missy Prissy missed glitter a bit. Over the last year, she has gushed over any crafts they did at school which involved glitter. She would proudly show them off. I would ooh and ahh right along with her until bedtime when said craft would have an unfortunate encounter with the trash can. I know. I know. I'm not winning any mother of the year awards with this post, am I?

Apparently, the memory of the infamous glitter incident was starting to fade because my favorite preschooler felt the need to do THIS ....
.... while I was in the shower! To make matters worse (although sweet), The Little Girl did try her very best to clean it up. However, the spray cleaner just caused it to stick worse. My blood pressure was rising but I can say that I responded much better this time. No screaming. No yelling. No crying clump of mom in the kitchen floor. I had a much better idea. I grabbed a Ziploc bag and packed up every last container of glitter I could find. I told my dear daughter that if she wanted to do glitter she could do it at school. We made a rather large glitter donation to preschool that day. I'm sure they LOVE me right about now.

Mwuhahahahaha!

Note: I did manage to save the beloved blue art table despite that I may have threatened it to go straight to the dumpster. However, our patio is currently, by far, the sparkliest in the neighborhood.

June 22, 2011

10 Time-Saving Tips for Mom

Moms are busy. Plain and simple. Here are my time-saving tips to help you be proactive as a mom, because being RE-active takes twice as long. You'll see from my list below that the main time killers in our household revolve around food & laundry. Haha!
  1. Meal planning - This makes things SO much simpler during the week. I already know what's on the menu and what meat to lay out to defrost each morning. Without a plan, I'm more likely to get to 5:00 and realize I've totally forgot about dinner. Yikes!
  2. Grocery lists - I do not go to the grocery store without one. Otherwise, I end up wandering aimlessly around. I even try to make my list according to aisle to avoid any backtracking across the store.
  3. Cooking ahead - This has been a lifesaver especially during really busy times. It's nice to be able to have a casserole ready when everything else has fallen apart during your day. Frozen casseroles are also helpful for benevolence meals. I also like to prepare big batches of pancakes, muffins, and breads in advance for quick and easy breakfasts.
  4. Laundry day - I got tired of feeling like I could never tackle the mountain of dirty laundry. I was washing almost every day. We now have Laundry Monday at our house. We stick close to home during the day and I just run one load after another and it gets all taken care of in just 1 day. In fact, I usually have all 6 loads finished & folded by the end of nap time. Yay!
  5. Universal laundry basket - I just implemented this not long ago and it saves me so much time on laundry day. I took away all the baskets in each individual room. Now, everyone is responsible for bringing their dirty items to the laundry room, which is conveniently located in the middle of our house. When Monday rolls around, I don't have to spend the time sorting colors. I just get right to it.
  6. Vacation laundry sorting - When we are on vacation I go ahead and sort the laundry as I'm packing up. I put all the like colors together in separate suitcases. That way, as soon as we get home I can get started. Because, let's face it, moms are usually more tired after vacation.
  7. Routine charts - I'm type A all the way so I love a good routine. We were having trouble getting our 4-year-old to cooperate with the bedtime routine so we made her a chart with pictures. She follows along with the pictures to see what comes next and now she has it down pat and gets in bed on time.
  8. News via social media - I'll be perfectly honest here. I just don't have time to sit down and watch the news every night but I like to stay up to date on current events. I make sure to follow the popular news channels on Twitter and Facebook. I figure if it isn't good enough to get a tweet or status update then it wasn't really newsworthy to begin with.
  9. Phone calls on the go - I'm not good at talking on the phone and folding laundry at the same time. Actually, I end up wandering around and pacing back and forth while I'm on the phone, which is the exact opposite of multi-tasking. I am, however, pretty good at talking and driving at the same time (handsfree of course). I reserve returning phone calls for when I'm in the car on the way to pick up The Little Girl from school.
  10. Task list - This is my all time favorite time saver (and another shameless shout out to Google). I love Google Tasks. I can have my to-do list with me at all times, on my computer at home, or on my Android smartphone. I'm never left wondering what's to do next. You know as well as I do, that a mother's jobs are never done.
So, that's what works for me. What are the time killers at your household? Have any time-saving tips you want to share?

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Starbucks blogging program, for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

June 20, 2011

Random Comments & Good Advice

There have been several things happen or be said over the last few days that I've thought, "that would make a good blog post" or "I need to write that one down." So, here I am jotting them down all in one post.

God gives us what we need when we need it.

We were at Publix picking out Father's Day cards. Technically, I already had the patriarch cards handled much thanks to Cardstore.com & Tiny Prints freebies. I was on the hunt for uncle cards. My loathing for the greeting card aisle is a post all on its own and I'm saving up for that one. Anywhoo, the selection was slim, my blood pressure was on the rise, and my dear daughter was proceeding to open every musical card her little hands could reach. I quickly sent her with her Daddy to... wait for it... look for coupons! Bahahaha! They were very successful in their search and, when we reunited at the checkout, she had quite a little stack. She quickly noted that her coupons would stay together much easier if she had a paper clip. I agreed. Apparently, she thought I should be able to produce one out of my purse on command. Let the record state that I am not a magician. I tried to appease her with "we'll get you one as soon as we get home." The Little Girl was unamused. "But, I NEED one!" Lo and behold, I looked down by my foot in the Publix parking lot and there was a green paper clip shining up at me. I literally could not believe it. I pointed, she looked, beamed from ear to ear, and picked it up. (Spare me all the germ comments. I'm fully aware.) We had a nice little chat about how God gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. It was a lesson I needed to hear again that day too!

Funny statements from my 4-year-old
  • When flies die, do they go to fly heaven? - Um, not so much.
  • When taking a big bit of something, you should close your eyes so you don't see it but you feel it and taste it. - Must try this next time I eat Nutella. :)
True comment from my husband
  • Honey, we found this turtle outside. He is injured with a boo boo. Do you think maybe you could put some Coconut Oil on it. - It's a running joke around here that we put coconut oil on everything. Hey, it works!
Practical advice from the guy at Home Depot
  • Anytime you buy a power tool, you should also go to Lawn & Garden and buy your wife a plant. - This guy is a very smart man!

June 18, 2011

What do a muffin tin and tacos have in common?

I have a little dilema every time I make tacos. There are about 8,000 toppings that go with them. Unfortunately, I like them all but I don't want to muck up that many ramicans (also known as small bowls - seriously, who came up with such a fancy word for a bowl?) in the process.

Let me just tell ya, we eat tacos a lot but this muffin tin idea didn't dawn on me until just the other night. It's one dish with six holes. Score! On this particular taco night, I chose to top off my shells with lettuce, cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, and bell pepper.

The best part... clean up was a snap! Now, that I have an excuse to use a muffin pan a little more frequently, I might just invest in a good one. :)

So, are there any other brillant ideas out there that I have yet to discover? What are your dish saving tips for the kitchen?

June 12, 2011

How NOT To Make All Your Dreams Come True

This morning I was awoken to something rather unpleasant. The Little Girl came bounding up the stairs super excited to tell me that we HAVE to get a Happy Napper. Why? "Because they make all your dreams come true."

Wait. What did you say?

"I have to get a Happy Napper because they make all your dreams come true. I want the doggy one."

Oh really?

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. You mean that some company is actually advertising such ridiculousness as a stuffed animal that can make all your dreams come true? WHAT!?!? I felt certain that she had misunderstood the words of the jingle but she kept repeating this one phrase over and over. I mean, this is a knock off Pillow Pet we are talking about, right?

It gets better. Or worse.

My favorite 4 year old then proceeds to ask her father, "Dad, do you want all your dreams to come true?" (I guess). "Well, then which Happy Napper do you want?" (Um, none of them).

Then she comes and asks me the same question, even suggesting that I get the unicorn with a castle. I was a little annoyed at this point. How in the world do companies get away with this harkey mularkey advertising?

We went on to church but my girl had not forgotten the infamous commercial. After service, she was still talking about it. Even reminding me to make sure I go to CVS this week to get her the doggy Happy Napper.

What do I do? I came home and looked up this commercial on YouTube. Indeed, the jingle does promise that "they'll make all your dreams come true" all while being sung to a cheesy but catchy tune.

Seriously? If the product promised to help my child nap, I could buy into that. Maybe. Then again, my child broke the mold on sleep patterns. But, making dreams come true? That is impossible both literally and figuratively.

Kids believe everything they see and hear and why wouldn't they? They've never had experience with scams and skepticism. Their trust is unfathomable. It makes me downright sick that a toy company is using such a ridiculous marketing gimmick to sell their product.

Now, please excuse me while I go have a chat with Missy Prissy about the true elements that make dreams come true.

*I have intentionally left out any links or pictures of this product because I want to do ZERO to encourage you to support this business. I'm even mad about the few cents they are going to receive because I clicked their YouTube video.*

June 7, 2011

Chattanooga


We are freshly back from our weekend getaway to Chattanooga to celebrate the end of the school year. Before this trip, The Little Girl called it Chagganooga. It was 1 of only about 3 words that she has ever repetitiously mispronounced in her entire life, and I let her because there were so few of them. [FYI, Peapock (peacock) and 4-liter (4-wheeler) hold the other 2 spots.] After this weekend, she now pronounces it correctly and I'm a little sad. Who said she could grow up so fast? I know I didn't.
Anyway, we had a FANTASTIC time on our trip. We left Friday morning and one of the most exciting moments of the trip was simply leaving. I didn't have that nagging feeling that I had forgotten something, I was 100% caught up on work, and it was just the 3 of us. I grinned from ear to ear as we drove towards the interstate. I was filled with nothing more than the amazing feeling of anticipation. At some point on our trip we realized that this is the 1st time we have vacationed as a family (just us 3) since Missy Prissy was 8 months old. Sure, we have vacationed, but it has typically been with extended family.

No trip to Chattanooga is complete unless you play the Rock City vs. Ruby Falls sign game on the way there. On this trip, Team Ruby Falls was the clear winner. Our 1st stop was lunch and then the Creative Discovery Museum. I'm not sure who had more fun, Mike or Skylar. They both loved all the different activities where you could explore and make stuff. Mike spent the most time creating a working car in the Inventor's Clubhouse and Skylar spent a huge amount of time at RiverPlay. They also had areas for art (always a favorite), music & so much more! We spent SEVERAL hours here and had a blast!
We got checked into our hotel, which was great. It was conveniently located to downtown (without the downtown price), had an awesome breakfast buffet, and an indoor pool. The pool was quite possibly the highlight of the trip for Sky. In fact, she said so.

We headed up to Point Park before dinner. This was not originally on our things-to-do list but hubby couldn't resist the history. Surprisingly, Skylar really enjoyed listening to him tell the story about the Battle Above the Clouds and she also liked the cannons. Most of all, I think she preferred exploring all the trails. This place has some great mountaintop scenery and is only $3 for adults. Kids are free and you pay on the honor system.
For dinner, we stopped back by the Chattanooga Choo Choo and had dinner in one of the train cars. It was a little restaurant called the Silver Diner, which served thin-crust pizza. It was a pretty inexpensive dinner but a cool experience to eat INSIDE a train. We also spent some time walking around the gardens and by the shops. There was no resisting the Sweet Shop. :)
Back at the hotel, we changed into our swimsuits and headed for the pool. Back in the day, my dear daughter was swimming pretty well at 17 months old, but when we switched classes the following spring, she REFUSED to swim and went on hiatus for the next 2 years. Okay, fine with me. I'm not sure if it is her age or if it was the allure of the hotel pool, but she suddenly decided that she was ready to swim again and went for it head first, literally. She swam so hard that night that she got a "stitch in her side" and then KEPT swimming. She was a little rusty on technique but it slowly started coming back to her. I could have cared less about her skills. I was thrilled with her eagerness to be in the pool and UNDER the water!
The only downside to staying in a hotel is the sleeping arrangements. Naturally, we would have loved for her to be in bed by 9, especially after a long, but fun, day! With Mike and I still up, even doing quiet activities like reading, she wasn't buying into sleep. I think she finally fell asleep around 10 both nights. I should insert right here that I was confused about time all weekend long. I had totally forgotten about the 1 hour time difference.
We started day #2 of our trip by visiting Rock City Gardens. Skylar loved climbing all the stone structures. It's really pretty and serene but I have a fear of heights that apparently has increased quite a bit since having a child. I couldn't enjoy the scenery aside from keeping my eyes glued to the very busy preschooler whom I was convinced was going to fall off the ledge of everything we walked on. I was an anxiety attack waiting to happen. Skylar was not bothered by heights in the slightest. Her favorite part was looking for the gnomes that were scattered throughout the entire attraction, as well as the Enchanted Trail. She also mentioned liking Fat Man's Squeeze; although, her skinny-winney self didn't have to squeeze through anything. Naturally, you have to exit through the gift shop. I agreed to a reasonably-priced souvenir and my girl settled on a bag of rocks. Not kidding. Okay, not just any bag of rocks but a bag of really pretty rocks that she got to pick out herself. I suppose that makes it worth the $3 we spent. LOL!
At Rock City, we wanted to recreate a picture we had taken on our honeymoon. There was no one else around so I half-heartedly handed the camera to Skylar. Surprisingly, she's a decent photographer. I feel like we've reached some sort of milestone. Mike and I can actually be in pictures TOGETHER again. No more looking like single parents in the photo albums. LOL!
On the way down the mountain we had lunch at the very quaint Cafe on the Corner. The staff were so great and helpful. They even made a fuss over Skylar's rocks which she loved. The food was delish and the playlist was very cool. Then again, if you play anything by Dave Matthew's Band, I'm a pretty happy gal. We headed back to the hotel for a quick nap which made me feel so much better. At this point, we headed for the mall to let Sky have her first experience with Putt Putt Golf. At Glo Golf, you pay 1 price and get to do the 18-hole course THREE times. However, one time around was plenty for my girl who was just learning. Her favorite part was putting the ball in the little machines to make it glow, which they have strategically placed around the entire course.
This is when the trip starts to veer off the happy course. First of all, if you get a hole in one on the last hole, you win a prize. Needless to say, none of us got a hole in one and The Little Girl was rather upset. Then, as we walked around the mall with all the pretty, pretty, shiny, shiny at every corner the Gimme-Monster came out. I have no idea where she even learned this technique. She was a wee (understatement if I ever heard one) bit cranky and I was getting stares O plenty. Next, we had dinner in East Ridge at Herman's Soul Food. The food was fantastic and they have the best cake I have ever put in my mouth. I know, because we tried every flavor they had. Don't judge. However, the service was extremely slow. I don't hold it against our server because she was literally in the weeds but, when it took 30 minutes just to get the check, we were a bit outdone. This also caused us to miss dusk at Sunset Rock. Boo! :(

Back at the hotel, another dip in the pool seemed to cure what ailed us. Even though the indoor pool was PACKED for a Saturday night and LOUD, that did not deter my little fish from swimming her heart out once again.
We took a laid back approach to Sunday morning waking up and getting packed. We had breakfast and then headed for downtown Chattanooga. We had wanted to go to Coolidge Park but they had the bridge closed off. Instead, we stopped by The Passage behind the aquarium. Skylar had fun playing in the fountains and I loved the sound of the rushing water. Though, the sight of Skylar's footprints made me sad. They're HUGE! Where did the baby feet go? I miss them.
On the way home, we stopped off in Monteagle. In keeping with travel rule #1 (no eating at restaurants that you already have at home), we found Dave's Modern Tavern. Oh. My. Goodness. The entire menu looked scrumptious. We couldn't decide what to get so we ended up ordering a bunch of appetizers so we could try it all. Skylar slept the rest of the way back and we arrived safely at Home Sweet Home.

This trip was to celebrate school being out and I think it was a great way to kick off summer. We've already talked about our to-do list for next year. Dare I say we have an annual vacation on our hands?

June 1, 2011

School's Out For Summer!

We did it! We made it through our first year at Stanford. I am so proud of The Little Girl and all that she has accomplished this year. Yes, it's just preschool but it was a big change for her and for us. It was a new learning environment, a new school, new teachers, new friends, new rules, new expectations. But, we did it! Okay, SHE did it but I'm gonna take some credit since I packed umpteen hundred lunches and sat in the drop off/pick up line for approximately 20+ minutes every day.

Let's see how much my favorite preschooler has changed over the last year.
1st Day of School
Last Day of School

She's grown quite a bit don't cha think?

We made a big fuss over the first day of school and I was equally excited to go out with a bang for the last day of school. When I was in college in Mobile, Alabama I once happened to drive through a school zone on the last day of school. (FYI - there are no buses in Mobile. Everyone gets picked up by car and it kept a lot of college girls with an after school job.) Anyway, I saw that lots of the moms had decorated their cars for the big event. There were streamers. There were balloons. There were windows painted. It looked so festive and I fell in love with the idea. I vowed then and there to do the same when I had kids.

So, today, I did it! I decorated our vehicle inside and out and I made a huge fuss over the last day of school complete with balloons.
Skylar was thrilled. She even told me, "Mom, I loooove this car!" (see her reaction below) Mission accomplished. After school, we headed to a little celebration party at a friend's house and it was the perfect icing on the cake to my little surprise.
Now, let's get this summer going! We've already done camping. Up next on our list of summer fun is a road trip to Chattanooga.

School's out for summer!
Side Note: Anyone else have flashbacks of Dazed and Confused when they read that? Personally, I can't get the song out of my head. Schoooooool's out fo summa!