The Devil’s Baby Batter- November 8, 2014

We’re preparing for Henry’s baby dedication tomorrow. For those of other faiths, that’s the Baptist equivalent of a christening/baptism for a baby. I totally meant to do it when he was younger, before his first birthday, but we just joined a new church. Tomorrow we are having a family celebration for the kids’ birthdays after the service.  (They are 4 and 1 this week if you haven’t followed all my nauseating activity on social media.)

First birthday. Baby dedication. I clean the house and feed everyone once. Boom. It’s a beautiful thing. I picked up the cake today. I just posted this on Instagram:

Instagram shot of baptism cake.

FYI, Harris Teeter is our local grocery store. You know, looking at it now, the baker probably just started his name too far over and needed to fill the space. Whatever.

Greyson says, “Um, why did you get a cross cake? You make us look like zealots or something.” I’ll admit. There is a hint of piousness mixed in that icing. I’m not one for Bible beating or forcing my faith through food or any other means. I just got your standard cake from the grocery store bakery under the “Baptism/Christening/Communion” designs.

Charlotte’s cake for her baby dedication was from a specialty bakery and had her monogram on it. Oh, and it must have been made with holy water and had edible gold flecks in the fondant for the outlandish price I paid. Screw that. I’m not buying that again. Poor second child. He gets grocery store cake.

I will say, there are two things I will NOT STAND FOR when it comes to cake.

1. Almond flavoring- Remember how old-school wedding cakes were RUINED by that stuff? Ugh! It makes it taste like Dr. Pepper. Dr. Pepper is the devils brew. Speaking of the devil…

2. Whipped icing- At the bakery they asked me if I wanted whipped or buttercream icing. Why would you even ask me that?! I would never subject my sweet babies to whipped icing on their birthdays. It’s “icing lite.” It’s crap. If I’m eating cake, I want cake, not “cake lite.” Beth Anne said it best, “Whipped icing is the devil’s baby batter.”

So true. Lord knows the devil has no place on my holy rolling cake. Can I get an “Amen?”

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4 Years-Old November 5, 2014

4 year collage

Dear Charlotte,

I was looking at you in the rear view mirror in the car the other day and I couldn’t figure out what was different about you. Then I figured it out. You look like a 4-year-old.

Your hair falls in long waves. Many pieces are in spirals, making for lovely, chaotic curls that catch the air when you run. You run on legs that are getting longer. The smile on your face is the same as it has always been. It’s the smile you show when you see any number of things that you love.

You love preschool, your friends, your toys, making up stories, watching movies, swimming, dance class, gymnastics, reading books, listening to Disney Princess songs, learning about outer space and the earth, singing, dancing, climbing trees, playing on the playground, drawing, coloring, painting and talking. Phew! You are a busy kid. We wouldn’t have it any other way. You are the infectious energy that keeps our family going.

3 was an interesting age for you, Charlotte. As wonderful as you are, you had your moments of being 3, no doubt. Daddy and I are wondering what 4 will bring.

I’m excited to take you for your check-up at the doctor. You are small compared to many of your peers. You are slender and short. You have small feet. I call you “Senorita Tiny Feet.” Many friends your age wear shoes a whole size bigger. You don’t know that. I try not to compare you to your friends physically. I’m just making note of it here for when you read this one day. You may want to know this one day, I dunno.

Overall, you are a great eater who loves vegetables. You still eat lots of different foods, but recently have decided to be pickier. We’re hoping it’s a phase. You go to bed about 8:30 pm and get up around 7:00 pm. You still take a nap about 4 days a week. Not bad for a 4-year-old.

You’re a person with ideas and opinions. You are learning so much, it’s amazing. Everyday you surprise us with something new. I’ve said it before, it is the honor of my life to be your mother. Not a day goes by that I don’t marvel at how smart, funny and beautiful you are.

I have a good feeling about 4. I’m excited for what’s next. Happy Birthday. I love you, my darling, darling girl.

Love,

Mama

“The prime purpose of being four is to enjoy being four — of secondary importance is to prepare for being five.” ~Jim Trelease

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Halloween on Ice- October 29, 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

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

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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