Mama Mojo, Married with Children, momlife, parenting, The Daddys, The Salty Mamas Bookclub

Book Review: Baby Proofing Your Marriage

Welcome to the first in our ongoing series of Salty Mama Book Reviews! We hope you’ll join us in The Salty Mamas Book Club – read with us, join us in discussions on Facebook, and check out our reviews!

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There are two things you should know before you add “Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More, Argue Less and Communicate Better As Your Family Grows” to your “to-read” list.

The first is that you must either a) read this book in total secret or b) be ready for anyone and everyone to ask if you and your partner are doing okay. I’m a big fan of carrying a book EVERYWHERE. Which means that inevitably I leave books all over the place. Which leads to everything from sad looks from strangers or concerned questions from close friends and family when you read a book that implies that the baby in your belly is going to destroy your marriage. So just be prepared.

The second is something a very good friend gave me a loving heads up about, and I am now paying that forward to you, dear reader.

There is no delicate way to put this, so I’m not going to dance around the issue.

This book is going to tell you to do certain acts. Oral acts. A MAJOR takeaway from this book is that these loving services may very well save your marriage. So be prepared.

That stuff aside, there’s a LOT of awesome information in this book, so even if you think “are you kidding me? I made him dinner and am raising his kids and am up to my elbows in spit up and poop and now I’m supposed to do what???,” just trust me for a solid second and give it a try. The book. And probably that-which-shall-not-be-named, but the book for sure.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, onto the review!

Gut reaction: LOVED IT.

There were some MAJOR takeaways that I implemented darn near immediately. One of the first things I realized was that I’m HARD on my husband. On a daily basis, I don’t think I am. I think he has it easy. Heck, I generously give him TONS of advice on what to do and how to do it! How loving is that?? Unfortunately, I learned recently that he just think this makes me a control freak! And guess what? It makes it not super fun for him to do things with the kids! Fun fact: Men do not like to do things when they are set up for failure. Now, I try to empower him and set him up for success. In some cases have I lowered the bar for him? Sure have! But it gives him a chance to fly over it. To gain confidence. And the positive reinforcement makes him WANT to do more with the kids. Win – freaking – win!!!

The other thing that I now preach to everyone I can find is to GO OUT OF TOWN AND LEAVE THE KIDS WITH YOUR PARTNER. Whenever I first suggest this to someone, I always get a response that’s some version of, “Oh, I can’t do that.” Why? “Well he doesn’t know what she eats.” “My kids are REALLY busy and it’s just a lot to take care of.” “He’s never been alone with both kids for more than a couple hours.” “We have a unique situation because my kids are [fill in the blank].” Well guess what? Lots of people have kids that are really busy. And we ALL have unique situations. But if you don’t give him the chance he will never know what she eats, he’ll never be alone with the kids, and by God he will NEVER understand what you do each and every single day until he gets the opportunity to live your life. Not for a few hours, not for a day, you’ve got to go out of town for a solid two nights to let the reality really sink in.

Lest you think I don’t practice what I preach, after reading this book, I booked a three day cruise with my girlfriends. Yes a cruise. I couldn’t turn around, come home early – shit, I didn’t even have cell phone reception. I left my husband with three kids. Cole was 3 years, 9 months. Evie was 2 years, 3 months. Izzie was 5 months old. And had never taken a bottle, no matter how hard we tried. And yes, I left them all. Here you go, take a minute to be appalled at how heartless I am, I can handle it.

Done? Okay, moving on…

Guess what? He handled his SHIT! He kept the two older kids fed, entertained, alive. He got the baby to take a bottle. He did all the carseat buckles and got clothes on the kids and kept them in clean diapers the whole weekend. Did I think he could? Eh, I was pretty skeptical to be completely honest. Did he think he could? He was a healthy blend of overly confident and naïve enough to have no idea what he was getting himself info. But the end result was that he stepped up, took care of the kids, and best of all, had an opportunity to bond with the kids that was never available to him with me always hanging out in the wings.  And I knew he could do it, which is such an amazing feeling to have.

Now, I know I said I wouldn’t bring up you-know-what (and yes, I’ve equated this act with Voldemort a few times, so sue me) but I feel like I need to clarify something before y’all write me off as someone who turned in their feminist card, put on an apron and bowed down to serve my husband. THAT is not what the book is endorsing. At the end of the day, you need to find what makes your husband feel loved. Feel appreciated. Feel special. That-which-shall-not-be-named is generally a safe catch-all way to show your partner appreciation. But that might not be your Boo’s favorite way to be appreciated. That might not be on your menu. That’s FINE. But find what is, and do that. A lot.

These are just a few of the nuggets of advice that I swear I couldn’t live without. And in case you’re thinking, eh, our kids are older and my partner and I are doing just fine, I’d STILL say to read this book. I finally got around to reading it when we were gearing up for Baby #3. It’s like a textbook in my house. I am forever flipping back through it to find a helpful hint, tip, or piece of advice.

I can honestly say that my marriage truly is better because of this book. And that is worth every single penny.

Grab your copy here! We’d love to hear what you think 🙂

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Next month we’ll be reading/reviewing “It’s Okay Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids.” We hope you’ll get a copy and join The Salty Mamas Bookclub!!

Book Club
Kids' Activities, Mama Mojo, MicroLuxuries, momlife

It’s Fun to (LIVE) at the YMCA!

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Now, let me preface all this by saying I don’t know what the YMCA is like where YOU live.  It might be just a gym. It might be a shady place where you wouldn’t dip your pinky toe into that grimy pool. It might be more of an afterschool place, where the kiddos in your neighborhood can hang out and play until their parents get off work.

But in my neighborhood? In my neighborhood it is HEAVEN and I LIVE THERE.

I mean, first and foremost, it’s a “gym” and I “work out there.” They have “treadmills” and “barre classes” and “boot camps.” I mean, that’s what I hear anyways. But the gym is like one tiny part of the experience.

The outdoor pool is sparkling, smells like chlorine instead of pee, and is always a toasty 86 degrees. They have puddlejumpers my kids can use so they can just kind of bob around in there like a couple of rubber ducks while I supervise and perfect my doggy paddle.  They have a hot tub that, while filled with other people most of the time, still feels a little bit like a massage, and if I close my eyes I can kind of pretend I’m at Glen Ivy. Sort of.  And there’s even a sauna, where I can sweat in peace because no one else is crazy enough to want to sweat on purpose, I guess except someone who is trying to hide from everyone in absolute silence for ten minutes (I’m telling you. It’s the DREAM.)

They’ve got Karate and Ballet on the cheap, and each session is something like eight weeks long. So when my daughter dreams of becoming a ballerina forever, and then on week three of class decides she hates ballet and the tutu is itchy and the bun is too tight and SHE DOESN’T WANT TO PLIE EVER AGAIN? Well, I don’t let her quit, because Torrezes don’t quit (obviously). But I only have to carry her crying into ballet class five more times. So that’s something like a win in my book.

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But the real kicker, the absolute number one reason I love the YMCA- the Kids’ Room.  For one beautiful hour, my children can enter a kids’ playland, filled with toys and books and an outdoor playspace, and experience high quality childcare while I do anything else but watch my kids. Maybe I leisurely stroll on the treadmill while I talk to Christine.  Maybe I sit in the lobby and work on my bullet journal without someone trying to steal my colored pencils.  I might swim by myself, or relax in the hot tub. I might sit on their gosh-darned patio and read a book with a warm latte in my hand. Because, as I tell myself, this place is supposed to be a wellness center, and that stuff? That stuff is what makes me WELL.

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So find yourself a little slice of heaven. Maybe it’s at the YMCA, maybe it’s one of those kids’ places where the kids play and the parents can sit and passively watch them. Maybe it’s in your own backyard. It doesn’t matter, really. Just find your place, pack your bags, and move in. You live there now.  At least for one glorious hour a day.

Bujo, Mama Mojo, MicroLuxuries, momlife, Tips & Hacks

Micro Luxury Monday: For the Love of Bullet Journaling

This post includes affiliate links, which means we’ll earn a small commission off of purchases made by clicking through. Thanks for supporting The Salty Mamas!

When I was in high school, my 10th grade History teacher made us all take our notes in a spiral notebook – the bane of lefties everywhere, but I digress – and part of our assignment was that we had to make them artistic. Whether it was doodling in the margins, using markers for headings or drawings, or trying different handwriting fonts, we were to do something to enhance our notes. The idea was that it would engage us more and we would retain the information better. There were groans from much of the class but I started to fantasize about the markers I was going to ask my Mom to get for me. I loved making the pages beautiful and making my notes come to life with my drawings – bad as they probably were. I’m no artist, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to connect in an artistic way.

I’m grateful for that teacher that made us make that artistic component a priority. As the years went by, the markers fell by the wayside. There wasn’t much room for doodles in college and grad school. Working life presented even fewer opportunities to play artist. Then came parenthood….I looked forward to getting to bust out thick coloring books with my kids, opening a new box of Crayolas and running my fingers across my old friends. Reality was harsh. My perfect pages were quickly destroyed enhanced by my small assistants. Unhappy to stay on the perfectly good coloring books I gave them, they wanted to “help” me with mine. I soon realized this was not going to be the fantasy I had….I gave up. We made coloring a team project. Crayons went outside the lines, trees were purple, dogs had rainbow stripes, the ocean was orange. And I was going crazy inside.

I needed something for ME.

Enter: Bullet journaling.

Part day planner, part LIFE planner, part coloring, I am living for my bujo (what the cool kids call the bullet journal). I would LOVE to dedicate about an hour a day to making it beautiful, but alas reality is more like carving out 15 minutes to dedicate to it’s pages. Some days I can be more creative other days I just have to get my grocery list down before I forget everything. There’s a TON of info out there about bullet journaling, so we’re going to focus on what has worked for us! You’ll have to play around to find out what works for you 😊

So, here are my basics:

I use a Classic Notebook from May Designs. It’s available in a larger size as well, but I like the classic because it’s small enough for me to toss into basically any purse. I use my bujo as a very functional journal that goes everywhere with me, so that’s important for my use. You’ll want to get the dot grid for the inside which will help you draw your calendars, lists, basically anything. I love the May 20668189_10214250399720253_793223806_nDesigns books because there are TONS of seriously stunning prints available for your cover and you can personalize your book with your monogram, family name, at home company, etc. I probably spent about three hours trying to decide what I want my covers to look like, but that’s because (a) Libra and (b) there are just that many cute choices.

I mentioned I am a color junkie, so I go big and use markers. These triplus fineliner Staedtlers have been my favorite so far. I use these basically like pens. I also like to have something with a thicker tip for coloring and decorating, so I use these Duo Tip Staedtlers for that. Now, this FREAKED ME OUT when I started. Because I’m also a little anal about things being perfect. And when you eff up with markers you’re just screwed. So I just decided to be perfect all the time. Wait, no, that is the opposite of what happened. I messed stuff up. Not a lot, but definitely more than I’d like. And for a hot second it stressed me out. But then I was like, who cares? No one else is going to see this! Well, until now. 20705946_10214250399320243_760964557_o

Yikes. That hurts.

20684217_10214250399240241_1648788619_oBut the beauty is I can get used to it, I can incorporate it into the design, or I can cover that shit up with Washi tape. Yep, there was a big ol’ mistake under there, then wham, bam, apply Washi tape and make it look like that was your plan the whole time! Plus, washi tape is ADORABLE.

Remember how I said I take it everywhere? Well I also like to take most of my pens everywhere. And I actually have a few bujos for different things (one for life, one for 20731164_10214250296677677_117642145_nmy Thirty-One gig, one for Salty Mama stuff). That’s a lot of stuff rolling around in my bag, SO I keep it all in a Swap It Pocket. I love, love, love this product for my bujo because it has two pockets with zippers that fit the classic notebooks PERFECTLY. It keeps them flat and protects the edges from getting bent (which has happened when I just toss them into my purse solo) and I can keep markers and things in the middle section or the other zipper side. If I have the pens in the other zip pouch, I can put my wallet and cell phone in the center. Then when I change purses I just move the whole shebang over. And if you are already bullet journaling or have a planner that works for you and is larger? There’s also a Super Swap It Pocket 😉

SO, that’s what I use daily for my bujo!

Coming soon – I’ll show you some of my most used spreads and layouts and some Mommy specific ways I use my bujo, including the time I used it to measure which kid was my favorite! Can’t wait? Check out our Facebook video where I show off all these products and some of my favorite bujo pages!

Bullet Journal
Mama Mojo, momlife, Why We're Salty

Going Gray, Gracefully

Aging Gracefully...No Thanks
This post includes affiliate links, which means we’ll earn a small commission off of purchases made by clicking through. Thanks for supporting The Salty Mamas!

I’ve known for a while that I’m (not so) slowly going gray. My first grey hairs started popping up at 24 or 25, and have hurried on at a rapid pace. It went from finding a few short, spiky little grays at the top of my head at first, and now there are gray hairs that are as long as any other hairs on my head. I could pick up a little handful of hair and find three or four grays mixed in, easily. It’s happening, and I’ve known it’s happening.

I shouldn’t be surprised, considering my mom started going gray in her mid to late twenties. I have fond memories of laying on a blanket in our backyard, and my mom paying me a quarter a piece to pluck them from her head. I could have gotten rich there, if my mom hadn’t decided to start dyeing her hair, putting an end to my money-making scheme.

But as my own hair started to fade, I decided I would take a different tactic. I was going to embrace the silver in my hair. I would see it as a badge of honor and a signal of wisdom and experience. When my daughter asked why there were hairs on my head with no color, I pointed out how they shimmered in the light, and said how proud I was that I was old enough now to have sparkly hair. The grays were coming in at a manageable rate and I was ready to start the slow slide into silver.

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And then I got a sunburn on the part in my hair. Has that ever happened to you? You know, first it’s red and achy, and then it PEELS, and it looks like you have an unbearable amount of dandruff, and it’s date night, and you’re like, “Of course my scalp has to peel off on date night.” So you say, “no biggie, I’ll part my hair on the other side.”

And then I saw it.

My entire- well not ENTIRE, but darn near entire- head of hair on that side is GRAY. Like, there’s no hiding it, more gray-hair-than-brown-hair, straight up old-lady-status gray. I’ve been walking around thinking I’m at like 10% grayness, and then all it takes is one shift of the hairline to discover that I am RACING towards complete salt-and-pepper status. I feel like I’ve been tricked. I had no idea that old age was as close as the other side of my head.

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So here I am, trying to decide what to do about my impending doom. All those beautiful euphemisms are heading RIGHT out the door. That complete nonsense about my beautiful sparkles?? EFF. THAT. Pass me the Clairol. I ain’t going down without a fight.

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Mama Mojo, MicroLuxuries, momlife

Salty Mama GIVEAWAY WEEK!

Happy one month Blogiversary to US! But we wouldn’t even be celebrating if it weren’t 20394810_10102375932703917_1705905480_ofor YOU, so we’ve got a week full of fun and giveaways that we’re excited to gift to you!

We’re gonna keep on blogging all week, so you’re going to want to make sure you’ve liked us on Facebook to keep up with all the ways to win! Once you like us on Facebook, comment DONE here and you’ll have your first entry!

You can also follow us on Instagram and on Twitter for more chances! We’ll have mini prizes all week long, from Salty Mama swag to Starbucks gift cards to shop credits at our favorite Etsy shops!

Next Monday we’ll draw our grand prize winner to see who will win a Sweet & SaltyMama Double Duty Caddy from Thirty One (told you my side hustle could benefit you ;)) full of goodies including a SaltyMama apron, SaltyMama water cup, a MicroLuxury starter kit, and a $25 Amazon gift card!!  Good luck!!

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Earn more entries by posting your #saltymamaselfie telling us what makes YOU salty using #satlymamasnightout and make sure to tag us on whatever platform you post!!

While we love our international fans, this contest is open to residents of the US and Canada. It would cost a million dollars to ship this thing overseas, and we ain’t got it like that…yet anyways 😉 

Mama Mojo, momlife, parenting

The Shame of Having Your Sh!t Together

At this morning’s playdate, a little girl was on a mission to eat all the snacks. Her mom nervously laughed and was like, “you’d swear I didn’t feed her this morning! I promise, she had a full breakfast- eggs, sausage, hash browns- from scratch mind you- and she ate them all.”
And I swear to God, the entire playdate came to a screeching halt.
“UM, DID YOU JUST SAY YOU MADE FREAKING HASH BROWNS FROM SCRATCH?”
There was a quick moment of silence and then Christine, being Christine, initiated a slow clap while the mama blushed and pretty much immediately started backtracking.
“Well they were actually kind of easy. It wasn’t a big deal. And I don’t do it all the time. I happened to have time this morning.”
And then I’m like, hold on. When did it become embarrassing to have your shit together? Why is this poor lady ashamed of being AWESOME this morning??
I get it. Hot mess mom culture is in. We’ve turned the tides and are owning it. Messy buns? Hells yes. Messy house? Of course! Yoga pants? All day. Every day.
And you know what? That’s fine. Be a hot mess. Everyone is at some point. Lord knows I spend more than my share of time in the Hot Mess Mama Club. This job is hard, and we sure don’t need to be judging each other.
But also, we don’t need to be judging each other.
You shouldn’t have to be embarrassed that you are nailing this mom thing. You can take pride in a job well done without coming across as braggy, and you can tell your friends about what your life is like without people thinking you’re an asshole. Make your kids smoothies, or kale, or hash browns from scratch. Take them to the park, be screen-free, do an arts and crafts project every day. It’s okay to be a hot mess somedays, or all the days, but it’s also okay not to be. And unless you’re being a dick about it, you shouldn’t have to hear that you have too much time or your hands, or that you’re making everyone else look bad, or whatever it is that people might say to ward off their own insecurity. You’re doing fine, mama. More than fine. And frankly, we’re a little jealous.
And as for the rest of us- if another mom mentions that she is nailing this parenting thing, try to rein in your judgement and applaud her. Literally or figuratively. Because maybe tomorrow, you’ll be the badass making smoothies, and you’ll want a slow clap of your own.

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Mama Mojo, MicroLuxuries, momlife, parenting

MicroLuxuries

This post contains affiliate links, which means we’ll receive a small commission off of purchases made by clicking these links. Thanks for supporting The Salty Mamas!

 

Imagine, if you will, a delicious three day cruise with your best girlfriends. You buy some tickets, pack some things, kiss your kids goodbye, and sail off into the wild blue yonder. I’m talking about three days of independence, doing things on your own time, eating meals you don’t have to cook and drinking cocktails that are included in your package, and spending SO.MUCH.TIME. with your best friends. The lap of luxury here, folks, or at least the closest thing to it that an exhausted mommy can get.
And then you go home. And basically immediately, it’s back to wiping booties and buying your daughter clearance-aisle Lunchables for a treat.
So, yeah, it was a harsh awakening.
But once I was back on land and thinking back to the cruise, do you know what I missed the most? Reading a book on the deck. Drinking a hot latte with a few more sugars than I usually allow myself. A ten minute chat with a friend. Going swimming. Eating French toast every single day. And I mean, what the hell, guys. It’s not like my favorite part was shopping for diamonds. These were things that are absolutely attainable within my every day life, I just don’t do them.
So I decided to start doing them. Every day, giving into at least one micro-luxury. I sucked it up and took my kids swimming at the YMCA, then soaked up some sun afterwards while they played. I saved up and bought myself a sweet Ninja coffee bar system (via Ebates, using coupon codes, while earning Kohl’s cash and Yes2YouRewards. Obviously.) and made myself some fancy-ass coffee. I put my kids in the childcare at the gym and then sat on the patio and bullet journaled all by myself. And then a few days later, I called up Christine, made a couple of lattes, and we stuck ALL of our kids in the gym’s childcare, and we sat on the patio together and drank coffee and had a little friend date of our own making. I made myself delicious French toast while the baby was sleeping and Lila was at playgroup, and I just sat there and ate it. I went to cocktails with a friend once the kids were asleep. Like real people do. Things started changing, I started taking advantage of more little snippets of time throughout the day, and it gave me the balls to carve out increasingly larger chunks of time for myself. And little by little, I am starting to remember what life was like before kids, and to take back the parts of that life that I miss the most. Because they’re still out there. I just had to start getting them.
So yes, I was very lucky that I got to go on an amazing vacation with my best gals, and visited the lap of luxury for a couple of days. But I am even more lucky that it reminded me that are a million tiny luxuries within my grasp all the time, and that I just have to make them happen.
A few of my favorite little indulgences…
• Make yourself a fancy coffee. Even if you don’t have the coffee bar, it is totally doable to add some foam or flavored syrup to your daily brew.
• Give yourself a pedicure. I like to add these cheap little stickers and pretend a talented nail artist put them on there in a salon.
• Take a detox spa bath and put on a charcoal mask. The more ridiculous looking, the better.
• Sit on your patio/in your front yard/at a park with a smuggled cocktail and a good book.
• Take advantage of the childcare in a gym, either for working out, or if your gym permits it, for not working out. I mean, my gym calls itself a wellness center, and being kid-free for an hour makes me WELL.
• Make yourself some French toast. Or buy yourself a donut. Whatever floats your boat.
• Take turns hosting wine dates with your friends when the kids are asleep. Put them to bed, give your hubby a kiss, and head out. We take turns in our little circle- if your husband goes out of town, you buy a bottle of wine, make some brownies, and open the place up to your best gals.
• Find some kind of exercise you enjoy. A Zumba class with friends, or a yoga class that makes you relax all the way down to your toes. I am a regular treadmiller, but once every couple of weeks I make a point to go for a run in the evening, just me and my dog, and it feels like a teeny tiny vacation from the monotony of the gym.
• Take a minute to write down the things you love to do and just don’t do. Maybe it’s going to a comedy club, or hitting the beach, or sewing a quilt. And figure out a way to make it happen, soon. Start actively saving up for it, talk to your spouse about how to fit it in, calendar some time to get it done. Even if you can’t do it RIGHT NOW, taking steps to make sure it happens soon can feel pretty damn indulgent.

 

Which do you want to try? And what would you add to the list?

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