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Logistical Nightmare

29 Apr

My oldest daughter will be 5 this fall.  And in the last few months, it’s become more and more obvious that she’s a little girl now and not my baby.  Along with her fashion sense and her ability to manipulate and lie, has come the desire to “hang out with friends.”  What used to be a play-date, arranged so mothers could escape the solitary confinement that is life with a toddler (or two) has morphed into a social life for my preschooler.

Other moms? Are ready at a whim to have neighborhood friends over and after-school visits.  Daily.  Until now, I haven’t felt any pressure to join in.  But I can tell the days of play-dates arranged days or weeks in advance are fading.

Which leaves me with one question:

If my house needs to be ready for company at a moment’s notice, when will I have time to relax in my pajamas with three-day hair and no makeup?

By “relax,” I mean chase my children around the house, refereeing their constant bickering and cleaning up the tornado they leave behind.  And by “ready for company,” I mean clean enough that I don’t end up on an episode of hoarders.

I’m not hoping to invite my daughter’s friends into a cover from House and Home Magazine.  I’d just like it if playmates and their parents were exempt from seeing my underwear on the bathroom floor and dried yogurt painted onto the kitchen table.  Currently, if we’ve scheduled a play-date, I probably made sure I would have time to wipe the boogers off my clothes and sweep the cheerios under a rug.  With two kids under 5, any attempts at picking up are merely exercises in futility, so tidying the house requires a nap time or the strategic sacrifice of one room while I clean another.  It’s a logistical nightmare.

So what I really want to know is: How do they do it, those families with tidy houses?  Just the idea of being “on” 24-7 leaves me feeling exhausted.  But I also can’t stomach the idea of friends (and even family) coming over to the disaster that is my house (and me) on a regular basis.  I need a few days a week when I can focus on my kids and taking care of myself.  Sometimes that means a shower and a trip to the library.  Many times it means crafts in our pajamas at 2:30p p.m.

I’m seriously looking for wisdom here.  Do you keep a tidy house?  What is your secret?  Or are you like me, hiding in your messy house?

Our Morning…or My First Vlog…or Susan Makes a Fool of Herself

28 Mar

So I had a moment the other day when I realized our morning was pretty great.  Messy and great.  And I wanted to document it.

I have no idea what possessed me to make it into a vlog.  And an embarrassing one at that.  With me in no makeup.  But I sure am glad I’m not alone.  A’Driane’s doing it too.

So Enjoy!

Super-Cheap Advent Calendar

4 Dec


I love a good craft…but even better is when I can create something AND save money.

No1 really gets Christmas this year.  She keeps asking how many days and we keep referring her to the calendar, but at 3, a seven day chart isn’t exactly age-appropriate.  Also?  I’m tired of repeating myself.  So tired.

So I scoured the internet (and etsy) for a toddler-friendly advent calendar for daily activities.  There are some adorable choices out there…but I just couldn’t stomach spending any more money this month.  We’ve drained our Christmas budget.  And then it came to me, while vegging out on the couch.  Paper. Chain.

It’s linear (teacher-talk for less confusing as a calendar), easy to make, and I already had everything I needed to whip one up.


  • Construction Paper in Red and Green (or whatever colors you like – two colors helps make it an easy visual)
  • Tacky Glue (or a stapler, but I don’t trust my toddler to not pull out and eat the staples)
  • Markers
  • Your Calendar
  • Scotch Tape
  • Scissors (I used a paper-trimmer and it saved me tons of time, but scissors work just as well)


  • Cut construction paper into strips.  You’ll need 12 of each color.  I made mine 1 1/2 inches by 10 inches.
  • On one side of each strip, write the date and how many days left until Christmas.  Makes for a good teachable math moment each time your child takes a strip off (depending on your child’s age):
    • “We had 24 days yesterday and we took off one ring.  How many days do you think we will have now?  Why?”
    • “Let’s go to the calendar and see where today is.  Let’s count the days and see if the strip is right.”
    • “Is the chain shorter or longer than yesterday?”
    • “What color will we take off tomorrow?  How do you know?”

  • On the other side of each strip, write an activity for the day.  I used my calendar to pick babysitter days for crafts so I would have some extra help, and to plan simple activities on days I work or anticipate being busy.  Some sample activities from my calendar:
    • take a bubble bath
    • make a snowman craft ($1 at AC Moore)
    • spend the whole day in pajamas
    • take toy donations to the fire station
    • mail Christmas cards
    • make a gingerbread house (scheduled this one at Mimi’s house)
    • bake cookies
    • make handprint reindeer
    • go to the library and pick out holiday books
    • dance to Christmas music
    • paint toenails red and green
  • If you need more ideas – just google “advent calendar kids’ activities”.  There are tons of great ideas out there.
  • At this point, I wrote each advent activity on my calendar…because otherwise I knew I would forget about a craft or special activity and be caught unaware.  You could also just make a list and hide it somewhere for your reference.
  • Loop each strip through the next, being sure you’ve got them in order.  The dates will go on the outside of each ring, with the activities hidden inside.  Secure strips with glue, staples, or tape.  Your choice.
  • Make a Christmas Day poster for the 24th loop to attach to

  • Tape the 24th loop to the poster and hang!  I hung ours where I could easily put the chain out of reach for playdates.

No1 loves ripping off the day’s loop, seeing how many days are left, pointing out that there are less days and that Christmas is at the top…and then bringing me the strip to see what the activity is!  I love that it gives her some special time each day, especially since I’ve been feeling so fatigued and we’re overwhelmed with baby preparations.  None of the activities are too involved – simple things mean so much to young children.  Keep it simple and fun.

You could easily adapt this for any holiday or to countdown to a special event like the last day of school…a child’s birthday (a week-long countdown would make any kiddo feel really special)…an upcoming trip (oh!  Activities about the destination!  Coloring a map…making food from the area…read stories set in the local).  The possibilities are endless!

My IRL Army

3 Nov

I’ve spent a good amount of posts here sharing how much the #ppdchat army has helped me.  They truly have been my saving grace on so many days when I needed to connect with someone who has walked (or is walking) the hundreds of miles in my shoes that make up the journey through PPD.  If you’re not familiar with them, go here … or here… or here to learn more.  I don’t have words for how amazing these women are.  Truly.

I hadn’t needed them as much lately, because I have been good.  I mean, I’m pregnant.  I’m tired.  I’m cranky and swollen and fed up with both.  And I’m worried about labor, how the baby will impact our family, and whether the PPD will rear its ugly face again after she’s here.  But deep down, I’m GOOD.  I’m content, and hopeful, and well – myself.  On the bad days (and there have been a few lately), I am able to dig deep and see the lies of depression and anxiety for what they are.  And I have more than my #ppdchat army and other online connections to thank for that.

I am almost 8 months pregnant.  Eight months.  Last time around, eight months nearly did me in.  The pregnancy was physically harder, too, but it was the emotional rollercoaster that really took its toll.  Now?  I’m teaching lessons three days a week, keeping my house tidy (notice I didn’t say clean), cooking  meals edible food, crafting dinosaur tails, and putting together two kids’ rooms.  And I’m parenting with confidence.

I know the medications and the therapy are a huge part of that, as is the online support I’ve found.  But the biggest difference from last time is the local support network I have.  In 2008, we had just moved to New England.  We were living in an apartment complex and knew only my parents (who live 45 minutes away).  Now, I have people.  A village.

My Parents – My mom and dad are wonderful grandparents.  Involved, understanding, supportive…and amazingly enough they realize that my husband and I deserve the chance to parent the way we want to.  They try their best to care for No1 in a way that is consistent with our expectations.  You know, they still spoil her – and going to Mimi and Grampa’s is like a vacation for No1, but that’s as it should be.  My mom watches No1 once a week while I teach, and they frequently take her for overnights so Hubs and I can have time to be a couple.  I used to feel guilty for leaning on them for childcare, meals, and all the other help they provide.  Now I understand that they believe in me…they believe in the family and life my husband and I are creating…and they WANT to support us in whatever way they can.

My Bestie – A little over a year ago, I approached a mom at a local park and struck up a conversation as we both pushed our toddlers on the swing set.  This was completely against my nature.  I am usually very shy (especially around beautiful people – and she is stunning), but for whatever reason I said hello anyway.  When it turned out she had just moved from out-of-state to the neighborhood next to mine, we agreed to plan a playdate.  It was honestly the kind of thing I thought wouldn’t ever really come to fruition.  Or maybe we would get the kids together once and that would be it.  But we clicked.  And I know for certain I wouldn’t happy here without her.  She’s the kind of friend who you call because you just screamed at your child and need an understanding ear.  AND the kind of friend who gives you sex advice and laughs at your most inappropriate jokes.  She makes me feel at ease to be who I really am – with no drama or jealousy or any of the other bull that usually accompanies female friendship.  She tells me the truth.  She babysits No1 so I can go to therapy, knows all about my history with mental illness, and sees me instead of the anxiety/depression.  Oh, and she bakes.  Like, really bakes.

My Neighborhood – At 2:20 each afternoon, the bus drops all the elementary students off at the corner across from my house.  There are always 3-4 moms waiting to greet the kids.  They stay a while and chat while all the kids play soccer or basketball in the yards and driveways.  These are families with amazing kids.  Oh, and moms who chair the school’s PTA.  They bake, and take amazing photographs, and run theater classes, and the list goes on.  But they are also the most down-to-earth, relatable, welcoming women I have ever met.  There’s no “mompetition” (Like it?  It’s my word for the competition moms regularly subject themselves and others too) with these women.  They have made me feel welcome in a clearly tight-knit group.  And the best part?  A couple of them have responsible, sweet, teenage daughters who I trust to watch No1 while I teach.  Our favorite babysitter, we’ll call her “Jane” for privacy’s sake, always comes early and stays late just to hang out and play with No1 because she enjoys it.  She texts me after a piano lesson afternoon to say thank you for having me over.  She brought No1 a birthday present and helps me pick up the toddler mess.  And she’s AMAZING with young kids.  I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her.  Being able to teach is a huge part of who I am and she makes it possible.

Hubs – He drives me nuts, sometimes.  He really does.  I swear he is the loudest, stompiest man on earth.  Oh, and he is married to his computer.  He works harder than anyone I know and yet takes so little time for himself.  But he once told me, “I’d rather come home to dirty dishes and laundry and a happy you, than to come home to a perfect house and have you be worn out and used up.”  So when I just can’t bring myself to clear the counter, or I only manage to run one load through the washer where it sits all afternoon?  I don’t feel bad.  He’ll help – gladly.  I have a real team player in my husband and not a day goes by that I take that for granted.  He and I are building a life together and we both know that sometimes life isn’t pretty.  That’s okay.  We’re in it for the long-haul.

These folks?  THEY are the reason I rock.  I know, I know.  I deserve credit, too.  I’m not denying myself credit, I promise.  I just want them to know how much I appreciate them.  And I want each of you to know that it really does take a village.  You do NOT have to parent by yourself to be a good mom.  Lean on the people around you – let them help.  And ask for help if it’s not offered.  I thought I had to do it myself when No1 was a baby.  I wanted to.  And I was worse off for it.  Now, not a day goes by that I’m not convinced we made the right decision by moving here and by choosing this neighborhood.  All these people?  Make this feel like home.

***Please know that just because I don’t mention you doesn’t mean you’re not important, loved, or helpful.  These are just the folks I see every day.  I love my long-distance peeps, too!***

Doodle Bug’s Big-Girl Room

19 Oct

Yes, that is toddler butt in the picture. You're welcome.

The timing was just perfect – Doodle Bug turned three in October and we needed a crib for the new baby coming in January.  What better time to give her a new room with a twin bed and to make her the focus?  She looked forward to her new room for months.  She picked out the theme, the color, and even helped shop for the bed.  “Sea turtles,” she said.  So I went with something neutral with turtle accessories.  Because we all know that in three months, she’s going to love flowers…or dinosaurs.

As we worked on the room over a few weekends, she kept walking past and peeking in, saying, “look, Mommy.  Isn’t it so pretty?”  And now that it’s finished, we all love it even more.  Not because it’s adorable (which it is), but because it’s just so Doodle Bug.

Canvas print from Groupon of DoodleBug and her best friend at a nearby farm.

Lovies snuggling on the pillow, paper lanterns, and a turtle mobile made from leftover birthday party decorations.

She loves her new bed. And I love the foam Magic Bumpers that keep her safely tucked in.

Sea Turtle and Friends: Paintings by Mommy

Twin Bed: Catalina Bed from Pottery Barn Kids, $399.  Y’all, I tried so hard to find a bed with a headboard and foot board for less than I knew I would have to pay at PBK.  But this bed?  Won me over.  It’s solid wood, gorgeous, has two adjustable height settings, and works so well with only the mattress.  It will be perfect to grow with her for the next 14 years.

Bedside Table: Walmart $39 (moved over from her nursery room)

Dresser: $30 garage sale find from before we had kids.  It was hideous originally, but is one of my favorite pieces of furniture, now.

Paper Lanterns: Michael’s for $2 each.  The big one is wired for light and was on clearance for $3 at Target.

Bedding: PBK Quilt, Sham, and Turtle Pillowcase.  On clearance last spring:  $100 total.  White sheets from Target for $24.

Curtains:  Shower curtains from Kohls, split and then hemmed to remove the button holes on top.  $30 (moved over from her nursery room)

Magic Bumpers:  A traditional bed rail didn’t work with this bed, so I ordered these from Amazon.com.  They are basically two foam bolsters that fit under the mattress cover and I made the bed over them.  They work perfectly.  Love them!

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