3 Fun Ways to Use Paint Swatches

Let me start this post with a confession: once the kids go back to school I kind of go on auto pilot with the whole educational crafting at home thing. I feel like I did my due diligence and picked just the right school for them with teachers who are way more patient…er um, qualified than I am. My kids really truly love going to school. They also love to match colors, sort things and use scissors (which are kept under lock and key). Even after 3 hours of learning at school they like to come home to play with puzzles, string beads and make (ugh) more art projects.

Now that they are learning to write their names and draw shapes, it’s time for my kids to hone those fine motor skills. Those are the skills that help them write, use scissors, buttons and zippers, etc. So, I took their love of colors and matching and made these fun activities for them using some (FREE) paint swatches from the hard ware store.

MATERIALS:

supplies edit
All the materials you need to make the 3 activities below.

2 matching sets of swatches. I selected each color of the rainbow.

Liquid glue

Scissors

Clothe’s pins

Contact paper (optional)

 

COLOR MATCHING

pins edit
A rainbow of colors ready for matching.

My mom actually helped me make these. She did it really quick while watching TV with the kids. What? I had my hands full potty training twins and, she had a couple of extra free hands so I put her to work.

Cut thin strips from each color on the color swatch- as wide as your clothes pin. Next, glue the strip onto clothes pin. Once everything dries kids can match the color on the pin to the color on the swatch. Like this:

match edit
Kids can clip the matching colors on the clothes pin to the swatch.

 

SCISSOR CUTTING

scissors
Help kids cut on the white line separating the colors.

This one really requires little or no effort on your part. Just supervision with the scissors. It’s all fun and games until someone’s bangs go missing. Help your kids hold the swatch and cut on the white line between colors. Great practice for scissor skills.

 

SPELLING

laminate
Laminating swatches ensures several uses.

I laminated my swatch strips for durability and so I can use a washable dry erase marker on them. Confession #2: I do not own a laminate machine. I used clear contact paper. Yes, you can use clear contact paper in place of laminate for many projects. We pull out a laminated swatch and I write the letters on each square and help the girls spell the names of the colors.

Contact paper laminate is easy to do:

Simply cut contact paper to size of item you are covering.
Simply cut contact paper to size of item you are covering.
Place second piece of contact paper over item and smooth out using your hand.
Place second piece of contact paper over item and smooth out using your hand.

The key to using contact paper as laminate is to move slowly, and smooth out any air bubbles as you go. This faux-laminate is durable enough to withstand the pull of Velcro for any projects with movable pieces.

Wondering what else you can make with color swatches from the hardware store? Check out a few of my favorite finds:

How to start your own city swap

With summer winding down I took a look at our summer bucket list. It was fun counting up all the things we have checked off. What a busy summer it has been! It feels like we just made our list yesterday and I can’t believe how quickly this summer has passed!

One special bucket list item we still have left on our list is starting a city swap. I was inspired by those posts from Little Passports that keep popping up in my Facebook news feed. You can choose a monthly payment option which starts around $15/month to receive an explorer kit with info about another country. These kits are geared toward 5-10 year old kids. Nothing for the preschool crowd. But, even preschoolers love getting mail. So, a friend and I decided it would be fun to for our kids to swap facts about the cities we live in. It’s a more personalized way to get to know the world outside of our home town; it’s like having a pen pal but with a twist. (And no financial commitment).

Here’s how I started:

I made a list of important city traits. For example, I live in a former port city so the Hudson River and our light house is a special part of our local culture. Art, music and food are all very important in our city as well. We made a trip to our library to narrow down some information about our city. The girls and I found these great activity guides with facts and educational games about our local ecology. We also found some post cards featuring local art and additional pamphlets to share. Such a fun way for our friend to learn about our city!

Now that we had a few fun things to include in our swap, we decided to introduce ourselves to our new little pal by sending a message in a bottle.  (Keeping with our port theme).

blog-005 edit

We recycled a seltzer bottle by rinsing the inside and stripping the label from the outside. Once the bottle was dry we added our letter and fun facts about our city.

Next, we made a trip to the post office to determine the amount of postage needed to send our bottle. Did you know you can send almost anything in the mail? The woman at the post office said she once received an actual coconut! For some fun, inspiring ideas for sending your own happy mail check out this cool blog www.giverslog.com 

We brought our bottle home and added our stamps. We left it in our mail box for the postal carrier. Wonder what he thought of our silly package?

pen-pal-blog 3

Our next package will include a special surprise. Another short informational pamphlet about one of our favorite hikes, AND these little “water chestnuts.” Thousands of these little black, spiky things liter the shoreline every summer. The locals call them “cow heads.” Since my friend and her son live more inland we thought this might be fun to share. It will definitely seem unusual. These little things are iconic in our hometown.

Again, we recycled something we already have. This time a spice jar. I rolled up the pamphlet and inserted the chestnut shells inside.

spice jar

Here are our first two packages before labels and stamps.

blog-012 edit

This little project has definitely sparked some creativity and challenged our imaginations. The girls love assembling the packages the most. They also enjoy visiting the post office and seeing how everything there works.

Our next few packages will include some local art, maybe some local music and some sweet treats from our favorite chocolatier. Each item we include will of course need a creative package to carry it through the mail. The idea is to share things that make our city so special while getting to know a new friend and the city he lives in. These packages are geared toward tots so the info has to be short, simple and fun.

This is a really fun, creative way for young kids to send and receive mail; or for older kids to keep in touch with friends they met at summer camp, or far away friends and family. As a bonus it’s just fun to get something so unexpected in the mail.

What are some fun things you have sent in the mail?

 

 

Freezer Meal Workshop and GIVEAWAY!

School starts for  my kiddos in just two weeks. I convinced myself it would be easy since we don’t really need to buy any supplies or a new wardrobe. But, getting us all back into a routine and adjusting to a new schedule will take some prep-work and time to adjust. This weekend hubby and I will take the time to get ourselves organized and ready. First on my to-do list is planning my freezer meal menu! If you have not yet heard of freezer meal cooking you need to know it is life changing! My friend Liz Lanoy is here to share with you how easy it is to use Wildtree products to make 10 freezer meals in about an hour! Stay tuned to the end for the giveaway!

Hi! I’m Liz. I am a mom to a very busy three year old and expecting my second little one in a few months. I work a full time job, and I am a rep for Wildtree Foods. If you have never heard of freezer meal cooking, let me introduce you to a Wildtree Freezer Meal workshop just in time for the back-to-school season, and to get you out of that, “what’s for dinner?” rut. Let’s face it most of us do not cook from scratch daily let alone a few times a week.  There are too many of us who get stuck in the same old dinner routine and order a pizza or open a boxed meal or frozen dinner. Not only are packaged foods and take out pricey, but they also contain loads of fat, salt, preservatives, chemicals, food dyes, and quite possibly MSG.

How often do you hear your family say this?
How often do you hear your family say this?

I don’t know about you, but I fall into the category of women who don’t enjoy cooking. I am however very conscious of the foods we eat and found myself spending too much time in the store aisles scouring labels for chemicals and preservatives. I was also a victim of standing in front of my pantry at 5pm trying to figure out what I could throw together and call it dinner.

I first tried Wildtree products at a freezer meal workshop where I learned to prep 10 meals for the week. Before that night I had never been to anything related to Wildtree. I was HOOKED when my husband began helping me prep my meals. (This is something that does not occur more than a few times a year). With their products I found it easy to throw together quick meals on the fly, or plan ahead with freezer meals by following their easy recipes and instructions.

Attending a Wildtree Freezer Meal Workshop is super simple! Here’s what you need to know:

1. Get shopping list from your Wildtree Rep for your groceries and prep instructions.

All your recipes and grocery shopping list is provided by your Wildtree Rep.
All your recipes and grocery shopping list is provided by your Wildtree Rep.

2. Purchase your workshop bundle of seasonings/marinades/oils from directly from your Wildtree rep.

Liz and her husband- one of the reasons why she uses Wiltree products in her home.
Liz and her husband- one of the reasons why she uses Wiltree products in her home.

3. Pick up the remaining grocery items.

You bring all your produce and protein to your workshop.
You bring all your produce and protein to your workshop.

4. Spend one hour of your week prepping 10 all-natural meals.

10 weeknight meals done in just 1 hour!
10 weeknight meals done in just 1 hour!

You just stocked your freezer with ten meals that are ready to pull out on a busy night and take the stress out of cooking! That will get you through the first two weeks the kids are back-to-school! You also get to take  home the left over Wildtree products to use for 20-30 more meals.  Each freezer meal serves 4-6 and the cost per serving is less than $3 a person. You can easily customize recipes to accommodate food sensitivities. The best part of a freezer meal workshop is inviting your friends to your meals together while sipping wine!

wild tree

Just to share a bit more about Wildtree products, Wildtree is a USDA certified organic food company with a 100% all-natural product line. No chemicals, preservatives, MSG, high fructose corn syrup or food dyes.  By the end of 2014 Wildtree will also be a certified GLUTEN FREE company! All of their products are peanut-free and many are already gluten free.  Wildtree products were created to help busy cooks simplify their time in the kitchen and serve healthy family meals. You can make quick, easy, delicious meals that are healthy and affordable!

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY! One lucky winner will receive a  “One Pot Meals” Menu Planner Bundle! This includes 10 recipes and 8 full sized products to make each recipe!! (Chicken Bouillon Soup Base, Garlic Galore Seasoning Blend, Hearty Spaghetti Sauce Blend, Leslie’s Chili Mix, Mexican Skillet Meal Seasoning, Pot Pie Skillet Meal, Roasted Garlic Grapeseed Oil, Tuscany Bread Dipper Herb Blend).

Simply click the link and follow the directions

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e03239814/

*This giveaway is now CLOSED*

What a luxury it is to be anxious for 17 years.

My anxiety about turning 39 began on October 30th, 1997. I know that was 17 years ago, but I vividly remember sitting at my desk in my dorm room studying for an exam. The phone rang. It was my mom. “I’m sorry sweetie but Aunt Christine passed away.” My memory goes blank after that. I don’t remember what I felt or heard next. All I remember is she was only 39.

Aunt Christine on her wedding day.
Aunt Christine on her wedding day.

My aunt Christine died from breast cancer. Cancer had already taken my grandparents (that I barely knew) and some of my mom’s friends I knew as “aunts”. But Christine’s passing was the first loss I understood and felt entirely. She was the sweetest and kindest person I had ever met. Until she passed I never knew what it was like to have regrets when a loved one dies. I grew up in a small town and ran into Christine at the A&P often or while she was out jogging in the neighborhood. Over the years I grew busy with attending college and working. Christine and I only exchanged snippets of conversation, and never had a chance to sit down and talk about life over a leisurely cup of tea. If only I knew then how important it is to make time for connecting with family.

I’ll never forget the first life lesson she taught me at age 6. We were in the back yard eating the picnic she had packed for us. She imparted to me: the “Kiss Principle” Keep It Simple Sweetheart. Because she was the sweetest and kindest person I ever met, she changed it from Keep It Simple Stupid because as she explained, “calling people stupid is just not nice.”

All my aunts and grandma. Christine- front right and my grandma both died from cancer.
All my aunts and grandma. Christine- front right and my grandma both died from cancer.

Cancer  is a disease that just doesn’t know any boundaries. It doesn’t care who it takes or when. I have lost a number of family members to various forms of cancer. Last year I lost 2 friends to cancer; and this year 3 more have been diagnosed. I followed the stories of 3 local children who all lost their battle with cancer. I watched my niece battle and win against Leukemia when she was only 3. That was a long and brutal time in her very young life.

My niece Ashley Christine- even a feeding tube couldn't stop her from smiling.
My niece Ashley Christine- even a feeding tube couldn’t stop her from smiling.

Most of my friends and family know that I am passionate about raising money for various cancer organizations. I’ve celebrated my last 17 birthdays by donating and raising funds for cancer support and research. Giving back on my birthday started as a way for me to honor my loved ones and is now how I celebrate the extra year life has given me.

This year I’m going bigger. This year I turn 39.

Here are is how I will honor my family and friends:

This year I chose to support the Jessie Reese Foundation for my birthday giving. This foundation began as the dream of a 12- year-old cancer patient as a way to give kids inspiration to Never Ever Give Up (NEGU). Courageous Cupcake Sales pay for Joy Jars, power packs and sibling packs for children fighting cancer. I am hosting my own Courageous Cupcake sale to help Jessie’s mission continue. My goal is to raise $390 to buy 20 Joy Jars. With over 20 dozen cupcakes being donated I hope to surpass that goal!

At the same time there is a special bottle/can drive happening. Proceeds will go to a local family who lost their little boy Mac earlier this year. It is their wish to honor what would have been his 3rd birthday with a donation of 35 lbs. of can tabs  to the Ronald McDonald House.

6 professional bakers have donated 20 dozen cupcakes!

I’m not in the habit of asking for things, but this year I asked my husband for this beautiful bracelet for my birthday. Half the proceeds go to the Rocky Strong Organization. The bracelet was designed for a local woman, Christine, who battled stage 4 colon cancer for seven years. Her vision is to help other families in her community pay for the unforeseen expenses associated with cancer like transportation, hotel stays and meals. Christine passed away peacefully just a few days before this post went live.

Available at http://violethilldesigns.storenvy.com/
Available at http://violethilldesigns.storenvy.com/

 

Earlier this month my family and I attended the Muddy Puddles Mess Fest to help raise funds to find less invasive treatments for pediatric cancer. It was an amazing family-friendly and kid-friendly event. It was so fun, that for a second I forgot that this event was made possible by a little boy who lost his fight at only age 5. I didn’t get into the mud- I stayed behind with my anti-messy child. But, my good friend Gloria (and partner in cancer fighting crime) jumped in with her little guy!

http://www.thetlcfoundation.org/muddypuddles.html
My partner in cancer fighting crime, Gloria D. and her son Hudson making a splash at Mess Fest.

These are just some of the events I chose to support in honor of my loved ones. I spent all these years anxious about turning 39 not realizing how lucky I am to have the last 17 years of life to worry. What a luxury it is to turn 39 today.

 

To learn more about any of these organizations please click on the highlighted links.

 

In loving memory of: 

Christine Barrows- Ryberg

Dorothy Smith- Barrows

Cecil Barrows Sr.

Cecil Barrows Jr.

Charles Ferber

Courtney Erickson

Wayne Burlison

Mac and Morgan

 

In honor of those still fighting.

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Lonely Mom – You are Not Alone

I had a different, fun little piece ready to share, but when I opened my Facebook page my news feed was full of posts about Robin Williams’ suicide. My heart broke. Not because Hollywood lost a great actor, but as humans we lost a great one– his kindness, compassion, wisdom and joy now gone from this earth.

Depression is a scary, unpredictable beast. There are several members of my family who live with this every single day. From seasonal affect disorder to bipolar depression to clinical depression. Not everyone who suffers from depression talks about it or even appears depressed. Many people with depression are capable of getting up every day, going to work and appearing happy and complete. No one else hears that inner voice convincing them suicide is their only option.

No one is immune- not even moms. After hearing the heartbreaking news about Mr. Williams, I thought about moms who may suffer from depression. How many moms get up every day and go through the motions of taking care of their families and leave themselves last on the list? How many moms won’t reach out for fear of judgment or losing their kids?

I often feel lonely in my mothering journey. There are few adults to speak with or to help navigate the difficult days. Being at the service of two demanding toddlers reminds me how difficult the days are compared to my carefree life before kids. All my single friends have moved away or feel they are intruding when asking to spend time with me. My mom friends are just as busy as me. When we get together there’s not much time for bonding between interruptions. Social media is great to keep in touch, but there are days I don’t have time to connect. Some days exhaustion overrides any emotion I have, and I go to bed feeling numb.

I do not have depression, but often feel uneasy about sharing with my friends the loneliness of my day. I don’t want to burden them and so I keep quiet. I wonder how many moms with depression feel the same way. Loneliness itself does not make a mom depressed, but living in a silent, lonely state for a prolonged amount of time can certainly contribute to depression.  According to an online article at OCfamily.com “Statistics show that twice as many women suffer from depression as men, and experts say moms with children at home are a particularly vulnerable group. Women ages 25 to 44 are the hardest hit with clinical depression, the years when most moms are raising their children … Just being a mother does not cause depression, says Dr. Stotland. She treats many depressed and anxious mothers who are overworked, under pressure and do too much with too little support or help with tasks such as childcare.”
“It isn’t that women want to have it all, it’s that women have to do it all. Nobody says that a man with a job and children wants to have it all,” says Dr. Stotland.”

Suffering in silence is not a safe way to live. If you think you may be depressed, have postpartum depression, or maybe you have difficulty finding joy in life please speak to your doctor right away. Please don’t worry that someone will think less of you, or that you can’t be a good mom. Taking care of your own needs is part of being a good mom. Don’t worry about what other people will think, please just worry about your own health. No one will think you’re being selfish. If they do, Whatever! They are not living your life. Most of all please don’t think suicide is your best option. It will end your pain. It will also end your joy and your tomorrows. It will leave a big whole in this world and in the lives of the people who love you. No one can replace you and the important role you have as Mom.

Dear Lonely Mom,

Please reach out.

Please call me for coffee.

I won’t judge you.

Please know you are not alone.

Love,

The Whatever Mom

robin williams suicide hotline

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

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http://www.afsp.org/ Find local resources and resources to cope with a suicide loss, and to educate yourself on the risk factors and signs of suicide.

 

How to survive bath time with these fun ideas!

Hard to believe August is here already! Everyone seems to be gearing up for back-to-school and lining up their routines. I’m still enjoying the longer days of sunshine and the slower pace of summer. Some days seem longer than others, like the days when kinds are cranky and do not want to get into the bath. Raise your hand if you’ve ever scrubbed down a screaming kid just to get the bath time routine over with.  Some nights the kids are not cooperative (some nights I’m not cooperative). I decided to try a new tactic. Make bath time the final activity of the day rather than the last chore of the day.

Add food coloring to ice cube trays, small animals, gems or toys for fun surprise.
Add food coloring to ice cube trays, small animals, gems or toys for fun surprise.

On really hot days we started throwing frozen ice cubes into the bath water to get a giggle. Then I froze some ice cubes with food coloring. Then as a goofy surprise I added some gems and small zoo animals to the ice cubes. The kids thought this was hilarious. The food coloring will turn the water all kinds of colors as the ice melts and colors mix. To be sure none of the color sticks to the tub or the kids, I add a little soap to the water when filling the bath. Some time ago, my friend Erin shared her recipe for bathtub paints. What a fun idea! Plus, the mess is contained in the tub and washes away completely. The girls LOVED it and beg to do this at least once or twice a week. I love this one too because it’s so easy, it cleans up quick and it buys me a good 30 minutes of quiet.

Add food coloring to shaving cream for fun bath tub paint.
Add food coloring to shaving cream for fun bath tub paint.

Simply dispense shaving cream into a small bowl, add a few drops of food coloring and mix. Hand it to your kid with a paint brush and let them go. We chose blue and green for an under-the-sea paint party- complete with ocean blue water and seaweed on the walls. I’m not a tile expert, but so far this has not left any stains on our tile walls. I rinse immediately and spray with a homemade peroxide-based cleaner to keep color from setting into grout. (Tip- you can use this activity while on vacation to get kids into the bath after a fun filled day. Use the blue shaving gel for easy color and zero stains on grout!).

Under the sea tub water.
Under the sea tub water.

Some other fun we’ve had in the tub:

Good ol’ glow sticks! We discovered this awesomeness while on our first family vacation. We were worried our kids would not take a bath in a strange tub. The first night of our trip we dimmed the lights and threw some glow sticks in the bottom of the clear water and they got right in.

 

Ring toss! Let a few rubber ducks float on the water and give kids a glow bracelet or necklace to toss around the ducks.

 

Grow a pet found at most dollar stores.
Grow a pet found at most dollar stores.

Grow a pet in the tub. You can find a package of grow-a-pet shaped sponges at almost any dollar store. These little fun-shaped sponges are encapsulated and once introduced to water they grow into fun little sea creatures, bugs, or safari animals.

You can never go wrong with a good old-fashioned bubble bath. We like to add in some fun colored shower puffs and blow bubbles to fill the air with. My girls have even enjoyed candle light with their bubble bath. (Ahem…a luxury mom doesn’t even get anymore).

So, if you’re just trying to push through bath time, or are looking for ways to make it a more quiet part of your day try any one of these fun ideas to make it the last activity of your day! (Works great any time of year, not just the long days of summer).

 

What’s your best bath time survival tip?

 

 

 

Why Mom’s Night Out is Important – GIVEAWAY!!

The other day I cracked under the pressure of potty training the twins alone while my husband was away for FIVE days. I took to social media to share my plight. I described my fantasy of checking into a hotel for three days to shower for 8 hours alone, eat some chocolate cake and watch hours upon hours of mindless TV. Judging by some of the comments not everyone shared my enthusiasm for moms taking alone time.

For the record, I don’t want to spend time away from my kids. I just want to unplug from the demands of my day job.  Being home with kids 24/7 is hard work. I would love a break now and then. That’s why I look forward to Mom’s Night Out (MNO)! Whether it’s going out for drinks or dinner or my new favorite, Vine Van Gogh paint night, moms *NEED* a time out!

Vine Gogh Paint Night
Vine Gogh Paint Night

Here is why I love a night out once in a while:

Spending all my time tuned into the demands of 3-year-olds obscures my link to other humans. I could go days without chatting to another adult. Sometimes I long to be connected to the rest of the world. I don’t mean the dramas of Facebook, but an honest connection with friends. When I spend time with other people it feels like I have more people in my circle than just princesses and Strawberry Shortcake. (FYI: totally a snooty bunch).

Not a snooty one in the bunch!
My circle of peeps.

When I leave hubby in charge for a night it makes him more aware of the amount of work it takes to get our kids from the breakfast table to bedtime. It’s a bonus if he has to handle the bedtime shenanigans all by himself. Plus, it’s great daddy-daughter bonding time, right?

Sharing war stories with other moms gives me perspective. My kids do stupid things all the time. In the moment of cleaning it all up I’m not laughing… until I hear about how it happened to some other mom. Stuff is just way funnier when its not happening to you!  It reminds me that I am not living in a bubble and that all of the stress of parenting is temporary. Yes. Even 18 years is temporary. One day soon I’ll be sending them off on the school bus to spend 6 hours of their day with other people. Then like a week later they’ll start college!

When I talk to other adults and use big words like “legalization” and “perfunctory,” it reminds me I am smart and stuff. It makes me feel like those few remaining brain cells clustered way in the back haven’t failed me!

When I spend too much time with poop it makes me ‘hatey.’ Five days alone with twins who are potty training is insanity … no it’s twinsanity! No one should ever have to clean up that much poop. Ever.

Back when I was a ‘working girl’ I’d count down the week till Friday at 5 o’clock! Then I could check out of my work week and head out for nom-noms and beer. Now my 5 o’clock countdown is for bedtime with no promise of nom-noms or beer. Except on Mom’s Night!

I like to paint... and I like to drink wine.
I like to paint… and I like to drink wine.

Thank you Vine Van Gogh for another great night out!

If you haven’t been to a Vine Van Gogh paint night yet you’re in luck! Enter for your chance to win a 2 pack of tickets to the Brews and Brushes event at Keegan Ales on Aug. 20th! Click here to enter

No skills required! Just you, some friends and some fun!

Vine_Van_Gogh-Logo-website

Actual Facebook fantasy status update: After this week alone (that’s 5 days in a row) while hubby was away for work (eating steak for dinner, talking to humans and sleeping in a cushy hotel) I realize something:
All I want for my birthday is to check into a hotel for 2 maybe 3 days, take a 8 hour hot shower alone, order some fresh hot food and sit down while I eat it….maybe even lie in bed and eat it… yeah, totally lie in bed and eat it. Might binge on a little (or a lot of) chocolate cake. Watch actual live TV and sleep. I’m not even going to get dressed, just wear a robe. Then I’m going to wake up and take a nap before my lunch of chocolate cake and champagne. I might text a few mom friends while I’m at it and tell them to make up an excuse to get out of the house. Say you need to run to Target for ‘lady supplies’ and drive over here to hang out for a few hours. I’ll put on clothes and we’ll just laugh and eat and watch TV. It will be great!

Where do you go for a fun Mom’s Night out?

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED*

What to Expect When You’re Expecting – Potty Training Edition

So you know that What to Expect when you’re Expecting series of parenting books? I’m about to add another volume to that called, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting- Potty Training Edition.”  Potty training has not been a magical 2 day experience for me. It hasn’t even been a difficult 2 months. It has been an on again off again roller coaster from hell for the last 26 months. No joke. Not even a typo.

My twins are a special breed. There is no pushing them to your way of thinking. No amount of bribery will sway them. They dig their heels in and plant roots. If you are fantasizing your kid (or twins) will be potty trained by age 2 (or at least before age 5) you can expect the following:

Expect to increase the number of potties you own. You will have one that plays music and sings and cheers. I have a Mickey Mouse potty for each twin, plus a travel potty for our traveling rest stop. I also have 2 toilets at home and somehow still have to fight for a seat!

Get a little potty that YOU love, because you will be carting that thing everywhere; birthday parties, ball games, trips to the park. EVERY. WHERE. While you are at it upgrade the family car to an SUV with enough space to accommodate your rolling urinal (complete with life like smell). Expect to keep it fully stocked with extra wipes, undies and clothes. Make sure you include a change of clothes for yourself because believe me $#@! happens.

Woman Cleaning Toilet

Expect to get cozy with poop. Get to know it on a first name basis and be prepared to shake hands because the two of you will be spending a lot of time together. Most kids can’t clean themselves properly until age five. Nope. Not a typo. You can expect to wipe those adorable tushies for nearly FIVE full years.  Also, FYI, you’ll find yourself increasingly obsessed with each family member’s daily constitution. If anyone cries the wrong way, or gets a little crabby the first thing you will wonder is, “when was the last time you pooped?” This applies to husbands as well.

Expect to apologize to Mother Earth right now for the things you will turn a blind eye to. Like the 17 pairs of actual undies you will throw in the trash because there is no way you’re cleaning that! If you are an earth huger try not to think about the BUH-zillion wipes needed to get kids through the first five years of life. Also, (if you use them) the 20 KUH-gillion pull ups you just sent out to the curb wrapped in plastic.

Hands on a globe

Expect to invest a small fortune in laundry cost too. If you are lucky to have a working washer and dryer you can expect to use them every single day (more if you have multiple potty trainers). Or just start searching now for the closest laundromat. This will be your new home for a while. Expect your kid to pee through every single pair of underwear within the first 2 hours of your first day of potty training. (Tip: bathing suits make great back ups in a pinch!).

laundry

Expect to be a hypocrite. Remember all those things you said you’d never do when you have kids? Expect to do them all! Just for funsies here is my ‘never going to’ potty training list:

I’m never going to use rewards like M&M’s, lollipops, stickers, and video games. (Used them ALL).

I’m never going to freak- accidents happen. If by accident you mean a child purposely squats in a corner to set a “pee trap” for the beasts to slip in. (Totally freaked!)

I’m never going to let my kids run around in just underwear in the yard. (Outside potty = clean floors inside).

I’m never rearranging potties. Potties belong in the bathroom. (And the living room, and the kitchen and the hallway).

Everyone keeps telling me that I can expect my kids to potty train when they are ready. But, really no one understands the steely determination my kids have to get their own way. The girls know the ins and outs of potty training. They understand where it goes and even have a potty preference. Heck, they are bringing ME stickers after I flush. Yeah, they’ve got this. At this point they are just messing with me.  And, I can expect that part will never change for us.

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Special note: If potty training doesn’t happen for you in 48 hours or less your kid is totally normal and you are doing nothing wrong. If your kids are like mine and take 26+ months … Whatever! It’s totally them not you!

How to Jazz up Your Summertime Hydration and A GIVEAWAY!

Help me welcome my friend and very talented Registered Dietictian, Liz Malgieri as today’s guest blogger! She shares with us how to keep ourselves hydrated through the summer heat. If you want to keep your “Whatever” cool about you  pay attention to Liz’s advice! Read through to the end for a fun giveaway courtesy of Village Apothecary!

Liz

Summertime…sigh. We wait all year for this weather and now we’re right in the thick of it. Long, warm relaxing days lead to cool, breezy nights. Except…wait, we’re moms! Our days are often more frenzied than relaxing. We run from activity to activity well into the night. Playground visits, backyard sandcastles, chasing after toddlers, keeping our kids afloat in the pool; both kids and moms are always sweating. Amid the fun chaos that is a summer with kids lies one big problem…most of us, adults and kids alike are subject to dehydration. Making sure that you and your family stay hydrated should be of utmost importance, especially in the summer.

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We lose about ten cups of water per day between breathing, perspiring and other bodily functions. This increases even more in the summertime. As a busy mom, I know I can barely make sure that I eat lunch, let alone make sure that I drink over ten cups of water per day! Dehydration can drain more than your water levels. It can drain your energy levels and lead to fatigue, increased blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, constipation and even weight gain. Yes, weight gain. Some common signs of dehydration are dark yellow or orange colored urine – light yellow to clear is a great sign that you’re hydrated. A headache and light cramps in legs can also be signs of dehydration.

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Here are some tips to help you and your family stay happily hydrated this summer:

1. Drink water!

  • Our bodies will use the fluids in many common drinks and foods to aid in hydration, but nothing is better than water!
  • Only water and herbal teas are considered hydrating fluids. Milk and juices, not as much.

2. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.

  • Caffeine and alcohol have a diuretic effect on the body. This means that not only will you excrete the fluids that you drank, but water will also be drawn from cells to be excreted! For every 8oz. of a caffeinated or serving of alcohol that you drink, consume 12oz. of water to make up for it.

3. Avoid sports drinks.

  • Unless you are a hardcore marathon runner or athlete, these are not necessary for electrolyte replenishment. They are basically sugary salt water. Hello calories!
  • If you are worried that you or your child is dehydrated with electrolyte loss, drink water with a banana with peanut butter OR if on the go, try coconut water. Even more portable is coconut water powder that you can add to a water bottle to replenish electrolytes without the added food dyes, flavors and sugar.

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If you find plain water boring here are a few ways to make drinking water more fun:

Fill a water bottle or pitcher with cold water and ice and add your favorite fruit for flavoring! The water will slowly infuse with the flavors of the fruit and when the water is gone, you get a sweet, healthy treat! Some ideas include: Cucumber and ginger slices, strawberry slices and mint leaves, pineapple and mango chunks, or your favorite citrus slices. The combinations are limitless!

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Herbal tea is another easy way to flavor plain water. I love taking a favorite herbal tea bag and infusing  in a water bottle. You don’t need boiling water to make tea. It may take longer to infuse, but it can be delicious and refreshing. My favorite tea for this is a hibiscus tea. The color turns a deep pink and it is fruity and delicious without added sugar or caffeine.

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Make fruity ice cubes! This is a fun way for your kids to get involved! Fill ice cube trays with a chunk or slice of your favorite fruit or herbs and then top with water and freeze. Add to your glass of water for flavor and it looks pretty too!

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OR Puree your favorite fruits or veggies and fill ice cube trays with puree. When frozen, add to drinking water!

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This summer, and throughout the year, make sure you and your little ones always have water on hand to stay hydrated.

Bottoms up!

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY: One lucky reader will win a 22oz. LifeFactory Flip Cap water bottle, courtesy of Village Apothecary to help stay happily and easily hydrated this summer! Click HERE to enter!

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Picture to show color selection. Giveaway includes one water bottle for one lucky winner.

Liz Malgieri is a Registered Dietitian and Director of Nutrition at Village Apothecary, a new breed of pharmacy offering free nutritional services and professional level vitamins and supplements. She is a true Whatever Mom and lives in Saugerties with her five year old daughter, Lily.

*This giveaway is CLOSED*

The Whatever Mom Wants You to Join the Whatever Army!

We’ve all heard the term “Mommy Wars.” It just doesn’t sound right. Moms are supposed to be peaceful role models for their children. We teach our kids not to fight, to think of other people’s feelings, and to be kind to others. I have struggled the last few months to find just the right words to sum up my thoughts on the “Mommy Wars.” Turns out I don’t need to find the right words; one picture has a thousand of them! So, why not include a whole bunch of pictures? I was inspired to create my own photo montage with local Hudson Valley moms after I read the CT Working Moms Group blog a year ago. I sent out the call to arms to all my Whatever mom friends. They eagerly jumped on board!

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As the project unfolded, I realized I know most of the moms pictured here personally. We all met through a Hudson Valley Moms’ Facebook group. We’ve celebrated birthdays together, brought each other meals, and have encouraged and supported each other through the trials of motherhood. There we were standing next to each other smiling and holding signs reflecting our “opposing” mom choices. This just goes to show that even though we make different choices for our families, we can still be friends and even respect each other’s personal choices. Without the different opinions and choices presented by other moms in my circle I wouldn’t know I have options in my parenting.

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Twin moms

Hudson moms

Crunchy mom

I admit I am still a little confused as to why we even have a war going on. My mom world does not come to a screeching halt when a mom decides to feed her kid formula or non-organic potatoes or even McDonald’s for dinner. I don’t even feel a slight shift in the wind when a mom uses 409 to clean her floors. And, I’m quite sure that if a mom falls at the playground and no one is around to hear her she still swears like a trucker (oh wait, that’s probably just me).

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Formula fed

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Gay edit

Food edit

Most people hear Mommy wars and picture this:

Mom life edit

I hear Mommy wars and picture this:

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I am convinced that not once has a Harvard grad mentioned in their acceptance speech their gratitude for their mother keeping a meticulous house; making perfect dinners and throwing over the top birthday parties; nor cited those exact reasons for all their success. I am also convinced that if at the end of the day you have kept your kid safe and alive, you’ve pretty much done your job. We all bear the same burden of motherhood. By burden I mean the labels (fun mom, mean mom, Pintrest mom) and the judgments (spoils her child, doesn’t discipline, too strict). No matter what our style of mothering is, we have all run the same course: stomach bugs, sleepless nights and feelings of self-doubt. All of these quintessential mom moments level the battlefield on which we fight our “Mommy war.”  None of us is free from flaws, and certainly none of us makes perfect decisions. We all have the same end goal- to raise healthy, happy and productive humans. Does it really matter what path we follow to get them there?

So here’s your call to arms Whatever Moms: do whatever it takes to let go of your fears and worries that you are not enough. Take up the charge to own your mom choices. Decide right now to be confident in your decisions because any decision we make in the best interest of our children is the best decision we can make for them. The question isn’t “which side are you on?” The question is, “can we all stand together?”

 

 

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO: Danielle Sidarous for lending your excellent photography skills. Your time and talent is very much appreciated! All the moms who participated in creating this montage. Thank you for your commitment to helping me complete this project! And my husband, Keith for racing home to help twin wrangle while I got to do something besides wipe butts all day!

Important note: republication of these photos is expressly prohibited without consent from Danielle Sidarous.