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Halloween on Ice- October 29, 2014

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Halloween on ice

I zipped my sweet baby into a pumpkin costume for her first Halloween, just days before her first birthday. I’m a sucker for babies in fat pumpkin costumes. I think there are few things on earth cuter. A couple of months ago when my now almost 4-year-old and I discussed this year’s costume I tried to convince her to be Cinderella. Her brother could be the pumpkin. Cinderella and the pumpkin! I’d get my baby-pumpkin-fix and not have to buy another costume.

It’s Halloween 2014. So, you can imagine, that idea was put on ice. Pun intended. I did the appropriate Etsy price comparisons before grabbing these at the Halloween store as soon as it opened in early September:

frozen halloween

She insisted her baby brother be Olaf. That was too cute to refuse. Thank goodness I bought them early, because the run on “Frozen” Halloween costumes is insane. Nearly every girl we know will be an Elsa or an Anna. We showed up at the neighborhood Halloween parade this past Saturday to a street corner filled with braided little girls, untangling their ice capes.

This “Frozen” Halloween hasn’t escaped parents on the Internet. We’re all having a good laugh. My favorite Facebook status came from a friend this week:

Facebook Status: Halloween is the "Night of One Million Elsas."

This meme is awesome. Halloween is on a Friday this year. Drink up!

Elsa Halloween Drinking game meme

I have heard some parents say they’re “so over it.” I get that. I do. We have been inundated with all things “Frozen” this past year. We start many days with the same burning question, “Do you wanna build a snowman?” Easter we all scrambled to find dolls for baskets. Parents wait in line the day shipments come into the Disney Store. In one group of friends, we are having trouble nailing down a date for a moms-night-out because we all have “Frozen On Ice” tickets that weekend. Idina Menzel’s powerful, beautiful ballad does wear on you after the millionth time in the car. Tell me you don’t think of Elsa when you say to a friend, “Hey man, let it go.” To say it’s a phenomenon is an understatement.

Here’s the thing. I’m okay with it. “Frozen” is a phenomenon for a reason. It’s a great movie. It’s not just a “princess movie.” So many little boys I know love it. I’ve seen a lot more Olaf, Kristoff and Sven merchandise for boys. My husband loves it too. He has said as the credits roll, “Yep, it’s good every time.”

Let’s also take a moment to appreciate that “Frozen” shows princesses as heroes. It is the love between sisters that saves the day in the end, not romantic love. Isn’t that something we all want our daughters to understand and appreciate?

That is why I will ask each little Elsa if they wanna build a snowman. I will ask each Anna about her trip from Arendelle. I will help them as they trip on their capes and repair their loose braids because all too soon our daughters will be begging us to be “sexy kittys” or any of the other horrible girl costumes I saw at the Halloween store back in September.

Happy Halloween, everyone. Enjoy seeing your daughter be a strong, fun princess on ice.

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Mailbox Plant Bed- October 24, 2014

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Logo Weeds to Wow nopics 300I’ve discovered a new thing I love doing. I like filling a pitcher and watering my plants. It’s very calming and therapeutic for some reason. For the last month we’ve been keeping plants alive and it’s amazing! I actually want people to come to our door instead of hastily sweeping our dusty stoop before guests arrive. Our planters from last month are thriving and Greyson and I are in awe. Maybe we’re not the plant killers we thought we were. It’s all thanks to Fairview Garden Center.

If you’re catching up with us, we’re excited and honored to be part of the “Weeds To Wow” Family Garden Project. Fairview Garden Center here in Raleigh, NC is helping us take on a project every month to make our yard a nicer place for our family to play.

Fall is planting season. We got to do something I’ve always wanted to do, but never attempted out of fear of floral failure. We planted a bed around our mailbox.

 Plant Your Own Autumn Mailbox Plant Bed

I was just thinking of planting a bunch of flowers, but Fairview knows better than me and had some amazing recommendations. We mixed evergreens, perennials and annuals.

Here’s what you need to make a fall bed like this:

1.  Soil- Fairview recommends Daddy Pete’s Planting Mix, a soil conditioner comprised of cow manure and aged pine bark fines that will help improve soil air space and help retain moisture while adding natural nutrition to your soils. Daddy Pete’s is from a historic farm in North Carolina. Awesome, right? They serve both businesses and little gardeners like us. Check them out.

Funny story. We explained to Charlotte what manure is. She was worried it would “smell like poo poo” and kept her distance at first. We were cracking up. She learned after we spread it in the bed that it smelled fine, “fresh and gardeny” even.

Evergreens- We planted 2. Goshiki Osmanthus and 3. Crimson Fire Loropetalum. I’m psyched to have some plants survive through the winter.

Pete's Potting Mix, Evergreens

Perennials- Or as I like to call these plants, the “Harry Potter spells.” 4. Euphorbia, 5. Heuchera and 6. Rumex. I imagine Hogwarts’ Herbology Professor Sprout uses spells like “Euphorbia Heuchera Rumex!” That spell make flowers  rebloom instantly or something.

Perenneials, Euphorbia, Hechera, Rumex

Annuals- Here are my pretty flowers! We planted burgundy and yellow 7. Pansies with 8. Ornamental Cabbage.

Annuals, Pansies, Ornamental Cabbage

9. Plant Food- Like last month we used Osmocote Plus Indoor/Outdoor plant food.

10. Mulch- We used Daddy Pete’s Pine Bark Mulch. Pine Bark mulch is better for flower beds because it is lighter than hardwood mulch. This is all stuff I didn’t know until this project.

11. Deer Repellent- It is not unusual for us to have families of deer wander through our yard multiple times a day. They dash in front of our cars and nosh on our plants. This stuff is a necessity for us. Turns out, it’s made of like spices that wouldn’t taste good together like garlic and cinnamon with capcasin to make it spicy. Clever! I guess that’s what you use when you don’t have a deer repellent spell. Antlerous Repellious! (There I go with Harry Potter, again.)

plant food, mulch, deer repellent

We started by shoveling and hoeing a bed around the mailbox approximately 3′ x 5′. Greyson shoveled the dirt and grass into a wheel barrow. I don’t know about you ladies, but I love seeing my man working outside. I also love seeing my babies outside helping.

my family making the mailbox plant bed

We ran into a little snag. A concrete snag. I imagine this is the case in many neighborhoods. Check out our mailbox pole. Yep, that is all cement we couldn’t shovel through. The same applied for the edges near the road. If you have a curb, it may be a different story when you are planting a mailbox bed. We knew the mulch would ultimately help shape our bed.

cement blocking mailbox pole

We planted the evergreens first, then the perennials. After that we put in the ornamental cabbage. Finally, we filled in with the flowers for lovely pops of color. We fertilized and added mulch. Then we watered well! No pitchers here. We brought the hose out to the road. I like to pour a cup of coffee, strap the baby in the stroller and water. It’s a nice little ritual. I talk to the kids about the color of the plants. Charlotte really wants to grab the hose and spray everything. I’ve tried to stop her and remind her to “water the roots!” Which is awesome, because she’s learned a lot more about parts of the plant and how plants grow and survive.

Amy watering mailbox plant bed

What do you think? What have you done around your mailbox and what worked or didn’t work for you? If you live in the Raleigh, NC area. Check out Fairview! If you live elsewhere, come visit us in Raleigh. Until then, check out their blog for tips and how-to’s.

Finished mailbox plant bed

 

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What Parents Overlook When Naming Their Baby- October 21, 2014

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

What parents overlook when they name their baby.

Like all new(ish) mothers I’m asked why I named my children what I named them or how I decided on their names. Where do I even start?! I can admit now that I worried way too much about a list of things when it came to naming my first child. Ultimately, I think you just need to name your child the name you like the best. End of story.

Okay, that’s not really the end of the story. There would not be blogs, websites and gagillion books devoted to naming babies if that were the end. While naming your child your favorite name is important, there is one thing I think parents often don’t think about. I asked myself the same question with both children’s names.

How is her/his name going to look on a resume? 

I think a huge mistake parents make, is that they name a baby. You are not naming a baby. Yes, you make their name official when you sign papers in the maternity ward, but you are not naming a baby. You are naming a person. The name you choose will be with them forever, or until they legally change it as an adult.

I recently heard about a couple who named their daughter “Daisy.” It’s her legal first name. That is lovely and adorable. I’m sure the name has great meaning for the family, but I cringed at the thought of it on the top of a resume. The name Daisy will be precious until she’s about 5-years-old. After that, she’ll spend the rest of her life defending or explaining why her parents named her Daisy. Is that judgmental of me to say? Probably. Is it true? Probably.

Imagine you are the Dean of Admissions at a law school and you get Daisy’s resume and application. Would you take her seriously? You might because you are kind and non-judgmental, but many people are not. Would you hire Daisy as your attorney? She better be one hell of a lawyer. I worry Daisy will have to work extra hard to prove herself so the professional world can get past her cutesy name. What about Katherine? Yeah, I’d take Katherine more seriously upon first impression, too. Makes you wonder why the parents didn’t name her something like Katherine and just call her Daisy among the family. For example, my Dad’s name is “Mack” but everyone in our family calls him “Buddy.” That’s not to say Buddy’s don’t make it in the corporate world, but my Dad never used Buddy professionally.

I hear you, “But, in 30 years our world will be run by all the cute little Rylee’s and their names won’t seem young or childish. They will look fine on a resume!” Yeah, maybe. I hope so. I hope I’m totally wrong and Daisy’s resume is only judged by her outstanding qualifications. (For the record, Rylee is a great name. I just use it as an example because its spike in popularity did not seem to happen until the last 10 years or so and the only people I know named Rylee or Riley are young.)

In my 6th grade diary I wrote out my favorite names in print and cursive, imagining what I’d name my children one day. As a pregnant woman I did the same thing for my real babies. I took it a step further. I typed them out. I wanted to see them in black and white and in Times New Roman, just to make sure. I just wanted to make sure that someday an employer wouldn’t rule them out or prejudge them because of the name we had given them.

I figure it’s the least we can do to increase hireabililty. Now we’re starting the hard part, raising kids that are smart enough to know that “hireability” isn’t really a word so one day they’ll be employed.

What do you think? Did you think of a resume when you named your kids? “Daisy’s” of the world, what do you think? Am I right? Do you wish your name was less cute and more professional sounding?

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Baby Vs. Baby The Great Comparison- October 17, 2014

Friday, October 17th, 2014

baby vs baby

Recently I squealed and hugged my way through an intimate crowd of old friends at a baby shower. I’ve known the mom-to-be since she and my sister were babies. I had my 11-month-old in tow. I was so excited to see my sister and nephew, who came to town for the affair. My nephew is 8 1/2 months old.  My mom was happy to have her two baby grandsons crawling at everyone’s feet.

Well, my son was at everyone’s feet. He was at their feet, playing with their shoes, on their purses, reaching for their cell phones, pulling up on their chairs and generally causing a ruckus, albeit an adorable ruckus. Most at the shower didn’t seem to mind him. My mom could help me  by holding him or entertaining him while I ate or played the shower games.

My nephew mostly sat pleasantly with my sister. He laid quietly next to her smiling. Yes, he can crawl too. He can also pull up. He’s about the same size as my son. But, he sat and mine squirmed.

My mom and her friend heard me quip to my son, “Hey, you see how your cousin is just sitting there? Why can’t you be like that?” My mom said, “Amy! You shouldn’t say that and compare them like that!” Her friend agreed. I felt my face get hot. I held my little guy tight against my flushed cheek. I whispered, “Sorry buddy.”

On the way home from the shower I had an epic crisis of conscience. How could I have done that to my baby?! Just because the cousins are close in age, it doesn’t mean they need to be compared. They are individuals. I need to watch the comments I make, even in jest. I need to talk to my sister about guidelines for how we will treat the boys equally but as individuals. I drafted a heartfelt blog post in my head as I drove.

I got home and told my husband what happened. I explained my intense shame and how I was damaging my son’s psyche. He said, “Are you kidding me?! Please! Amy, the amount of time you have spent worrying about this is too much. They are babies! He will never remember you said that.” True it’s not like we’re going to line them up and have them crawl race at family gatherings.  He laughed and hugged me. “Seriously. It was a complement to your sister on how sweet her baby is. Don’t sweat it.”

Here’s the thing. They’re both right. I need to watch what I say to my children. I need to understand that jokes and off-the-cuff comments can hurt. But, I also do NOT need to have guilt ridden meltdowns for every parenting faux pas I commit. Let’s face it, I know I will say or do something insanely insensitive and stupid again. Then I will write about it on the Internet.

In all seriousness, how do families quell comparisons between children close in age? Cousins, siblings, or even good friends with kids the same age. It’s very natural to compare. How do you either avoid it, or compare with compassion if that’s possible? 

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Working Is Harder Than Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom October 15, 2014

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Me with my kiddos.

I hang with moms and kids. That’s my crowd as new stay-at-home mom. I joke that there are days that the only adult males I interact with on the regular are my husband and the Starbucks barista. I’ve noticed a distinct difference between two types of  SAHM’s. There are moms who have never worked outside the home since they had children, and those who have. Meaning, I know moms who stayed home with their first child and I know moms, like me, who started staying home with their second child.

A conversation with a group of moms holding babies went something like this:

A SAHM with two kids who never worked after her first child was born asked me, “So, Amy. Do you miss work? Are you glad you’re staying home?”

I say, “It’s great! It was a really good decision. My daughter loves her preschool. We were a little nervous pulling her out of her daycare. We were sad to leave there. It’s a great place, but I love being home with the kids. I’m actually a ‘stay-in-the-car mom’ Ha! We’ve been so busy.”

She says, “Yeah, but it’s so hard taking care of the kids all day!”

A new mom holding her first baby chimes in, “Yeah, being a stay-at-home-mom is the hardest job in the world.”

::blink::

I looked around the group to try to catch the eye of a mom like me, one who went back to work after her first baby. No one like that was in this circle. I stayed quiet. I faded out of the conversation that turned into complaining about nap schedules, unhelpful husbands and struggles to decide what to cook for dinner.

Hardest job in the world? No. No it’s not. Working outside the home while still being a parent is harder. It is. It just is. I feel I can say this because I’ve done both. Take all the stress of caring for children, cooking for your family, maintaining your home and add the intense pressure of a full-time job to it. Add the commute. Add the limited time. Add the daycare bill. Add the pressure of counting up paid and unpaid maternity leave days. Add the agony of leaving your baby. Add the guilt. It makes it all harder.

I’m not saying it’s all roses being a homemaker. I’m busy, no doubt. My kiddos keep me on my toes. Napless days of wicked tantrums are exhausting and infuriating. Those are times I miss the outlet of work. I know there are mothers of children with special needs who have much more taxing days at home than I do. I understand there are mamas with colicky criers and mothers of multiples trapped in the house all day. I feel for them. I know they have rough days too.

I’m just saying that since I started staying home, our lives are so much better. There were days that I would spend less than two hours a day with my child. We’d get dressed in the morning. Eat in the car and I’d drop her off. By the time I got to her, I had two hours before she went to bed. That time was mostly for dinner and bath.

When two parents are working it’s like being shot out of a cannon on Monday morning and the cannonball lands on Friday afternoon. The cannonball falls exhausted into a messy house and an empty pantry. While we did have lots of fun on the weekends, we often did not. We often had to clean, grocery shop and do all the mundane things we couldn’t get to during the week. The weekend culminated with the Sunday night dread. I’d prepare with a gripping feeling in my chest because another work week was beginning.

I understand job satisfaction is part of this. I know some women who are very fulfilled in their jobs and feel that’s where they get the most validation. Other women I know work for companies with 12 paid weeks of maternity leave, mothers’ rooms for pumping that have lounge chairs and half-day Fridays. While I liked my job and the people I worked with, I chose careers that were not as conducive to parenthood. I knew that when I went to college and majored in journalism and communications. It’s hard being a mother reporting the news live on TV at 6:00 am or answering my public relations client’s email at 7:30 pm when it’s bath time. My friends who work in banking, for example, start at 9 and end at 5. That’s the nature of their business.

Now I can let my daughter play on the playground after preschool. I can take half an hour and make a gingerbread house with her. Hell, I can lay my head on the couch and take a nap when the kids do on a Tuesday because it’s raining and I have a headache. One parent is home to unload the dishwasher and start dinner so it doesn’t become this huge issue or argument. I can take the kids to the doctor when they are sick without scheduling it on my Outlook calendar or calling five people to make sure things at work are covered. None of that was possible when I was working full time and it was hard. Harder than this.

My biggest fear about staying home was that I was going to be bored, lonely or unstimulated. Those are the complaints I hear from SAHM’s. I can say that I have not felt that way AT ALL. Not once in the last 8 months have I been bored, lonely or unstimulated. Maybe it’s because I immediately planned stuff for us to do and groups to be a part of, I dunno. But, I really attribute not being bored, but being happy to two things:

  1. I am not home with only a baby. I have a preschooler and a baby to keep me busy. Yeah, babies can be boring. Add a toddler, preschooler or older child in the mix? Party time! Boredom be gone!
  2. I know how crazy it is to have two working parents and I know this is better. It just is.
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