momlife, parenting, Terrible Twos, The Daddys, The Salties

Salty Tears at Preschool Dropoff

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Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for nearly a year, Cole and Evie have had an emotional goodbye through a chain link fence. It’s like a scene out of some prison movie. They tell each other how much they love each other and are going to miss each other and then I tear Evie away from the gate telling her we’ll see Cole in four hours. Often, I have to carry her writhing body in one arm, while balancing a baby in the other, and haul these girls out to the car. After dealing with this week after week, month after month, Chad and I had to have a serious conversation: Is it time to start Evie in preschool?

We had made bold proclamations and decisions on our plan for Evie’s schooling. I’m a stay at home Mom and she’s just fine here with me. She can wait until she’s 3 like Cole did. We can see if they have a spot open in January and if they don’t she can start the next fall. Two years of preschool will be plenty for her.

But it seemed she was disagreeing with us.

So I asked the Director at Cole’s eternally waitlisted preschool if they happened to have a spot. No rush, anytime really, we’re fine keeping her home as long as we need – oh, what’s that? You already had her on a list because I mentioned it to you once in passing? She can start next month? Yeah, okay, that works too…Suddenly we were launched into preschool prep mode! I bought Evie a lunch bag, did some “Back to School” shopping, grabbed her a water bottle and talked about the impending start of her career as a student. She proudly told everyone, “I go to school with Cole soon!” She was excited. Like really, REALLY, excited. Drop-offs were suddenly much easier, because as they hugged and kissed each other each morning, they’d exchange excited words about how soon Evie would be joining her big brother.

She was excited. I was all the feelings. Normally made of stone, the idea of having two kids in school proved too much for my solid core to handle. I just wasn’t sure I liked this. At all.

Then it was the big day. We got dressed in one of our new outfits. I busted out the chalkboard easel for important stats and pictures and a giant display of “Evie’s first day of preschool!” I took a thousand pictures of the three kids in every possible arrangement – sitting, standing, two sitting – Evie standing prominently, all three sitting together – Cole in the middle, Evie in the middle, Izzie in the middle – you name it, I probably have a picture of it. Evie looked happy and proud – probably a combination of first day excitement and the promise of a lollipop in exchange for endless smiles.

We loaded into the car, drove down to school, hopped out of the car and proudly marched down the hall. Which is about when all hell broke loose. To our complete and utter surprise, our cool, confident, happy-go-lucky, independent daughter freaked the F out. We thought we’d done everything “right” to prepare her! She knows this school, knows the teachers, knows lots of Cole’s friends! Plus the school happens to be on our church’s campus (though not affiliated) so she literally has been in the classrooms since the week she was born! We talked, oh how we talked, about what the first day would entail. And she was sooooo on board. Lest she forgets, this was HER IDEA!

But, as is a woman’s prerogative, she reserves the right to change her mind. And oh did she change it. My husband and I looked back and forth for a minute, telepathically running through our options.

Me: Evie, it’ll be fine. Cole’s right here with you. *Jump in here dude! Tell her it’s fine!!*

Chad: That’s right, Cole’s going to go do circle time, you can sit with him. *She’s screaming! Why is she screaming??*

Me: Honey, honey, honey, calm down, baby. *I don’t KNOW!! We gotta get out of here!*

Chad: *We can’t just LEAVE her like this!*

Me: *Like hell we can’t! She’ll be FINE! Band-Aid! RIP IT!*

Chad: Okay Evie, Mommy and Daddy have to go, you’ll be okay. *You’re a heartless monster*

Me: I’ll be back sooooo soon, you’ll have lots of fun, okay? We love you! *Oh, grow a pair*

Us: Bye sweetie!! We love you!!

I may have been the one to force us to leave, but I thought of my sweet little baby all day, hoping she’d calmed down and found some fun. I picked her up a few short hours later. Before she saw me, I saw her eating and laughing and I knew we had made the right call. She looked up, saw me, ran and jumped in my arms.

When we settled in the car I asked, “What did you do today Evie?” She said, with a big smile on her face, “I did art and crying.” I laughed at her and hugged the heck out of that kid. I said, “Maybe next time we’ll try for just art, huh?” She replied, “Yeah, I liked the art.”

So yes, in the grand tradition of first days of school, there were tears. Lots of tears. Mostly from Evie. But, as terrible as it is to say, the tears were a nice reminder that even though she’s a sassy, independent, stubborn, “I can do it myself” kind of 2 year old, she’s still my two year old baby, that just needs her Mama once in a while.

 

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Married with Children, momlife, parenting, The Daddys, Why We're Salty

Day to Day Operations

I run this house.

This isn’t a bold statement, it’s just really honest. My husband participates, he helps whenever I ask, he fills in where and when necessary. He thinks that he’s super vital in the day to day ops, but the real truth of the matter is that he changes the kitty litter and pays the bills. Of course there’s much more than that as far as his overall role in our lives. We love him dearly, he’s a great Dad, and I don’t say any of this to diminish his status around here. It’s not meant to be as harsh as it comes off.

Basically he’s a moderately hands off CEO that rolls up his sleeves when his employees are really in the weeds.

Until the weekend hits. Or he’s on vacation. Then he’s like the guy that buys the company and starts to make all kinds of changes before he asks any questions. He doesn’t know how things work, but that doesn’t mean he won’t give you all his GREAT ideas of how to make things better.

I didn’t realize Chad was this kind of Dad until recently when a few conversations made me realize he just doesn’t understand how things get done around here. A few weeks ago he suggested that we change breads:

Chad: That bread Joy had the other day was really good! We should start using that!

Me: Yeah, it was. I checked though and it’s like twice as much as the bread we buy….

Chad: Well that’s no big deal. What do we use? Like a loaf every few weeks?

Me: Uh, no bro. We use two loaves. A week. Every week.

Sure, it’s just bread, but did he really not notice that I make at least three people toast every morning? And a sandwich for our son to take to school three days a week? And I can’t blame him for not knowing how often Evie and I eat sandwiches for lunch during the week while he’s off eating Chipotle or something glamorous. But a loaf every three weeks?? At this my radar went up that he was REALLY out of the loop.

Then on the drive home from vacation:

Chad: What should we do for dinner tonight?

Me: I probably have something in the freezer I could throw together.

Chad: Awesome. And like a salad?

Me: Well, I’d have to run to the store real quick, but that’s doable.

Chad: Oh, we don’t already have salad stuff?

Me: I mean, we’ve been out of town for a week. I don’t usually stock the house with fresh produce before we go out of town.

Poor kid was incredibly disappointed. Because he really was thinking there would be fruits and vegetables and a bounty of salad awaiting him when we arrived home. Like, does he not know how grocery stores work? Or the shelf-life of lettuce? I swear it was only a few years ago that he was living on his own, responsible for his own groceries, but apparently that info in his brain also has a short shelf-life!

Then one day I realized I needed to harness this lack of household intelligence…

Chad: *checking spending on Mint* Hey, big trip to Target today, huh?

Me: Dude, we needed a lot of diapers…

Chad: Like $167 worth of diapers?

Me: Well I needed regular diapers for Evie and Izzie, and Pull-Ups for Evie cause she’s going to need a lot when potty training at school and [his eyes start to glaze over] and then I needed swim diapers for the girls, we’ve been swimming SO much that we’re burning through those and…

Chad: Got it. Diapers.

Did I spend $167 on diapers? No, I did not. But he has no clue how much diapers actually cost. Or bread. Or how produce works. Or basically anything about our day to day operations. And if it drives me crazy all the other times, I might as well get to cash in once in a while.

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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
Effing Four Year Olds, Kids' Activities, momlife, parenting, The Salties, Tips & Hacks

10 School Readiness Skills (That Have NOTHING to Do with Academics!)

 

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

The school year is rapidly approaching, and for the very first time, I am preparing my own little girl for going “Back to School.” As a former teacher, there are soooo many things I want to teach her before school starts- and believe it or not, letters and numbers are the least of my concerns! Here’s ten things that you can teach your kids that your Kindergarten/TK/Pre-K teacher will LOVE you for.

1. How to Write Their Name
This is a really, really hard thing to teach whole group. Spend a little time having them trace their name before having them move on to writing it solo. And feel free to leave the paper and pencil approach until later- check out Practical Name Writing in 12 Fun Ways by Hands On As We Grow.

2. Cutting on a Line/Curve
Similar to the skill above, scissor skills are really tricky to teach when you’re no longer one-on-one. Show your kiddo how to hold the scissors, to use them safely, and to move the paper (not the scissors) as they cut. You can draw lines on paper for them to practice with, or buy this colorful activity book that gets progressively harder with each page.

3. Coloring Skills
Now listen, we LOVE a kid who colors outside of the lines. BUT, there are times when coloring inside is important, too. Help your child to learn the difference between coloring for fun and coloring on schoolwork. Help them to decide when to use “realistic colors” versus when they can go rogue. Any coloring book can be used for this, but this fun book really narrows in on these skills.

4. Glue Skills
Let’s save the poor teacher some mess, yeah? Can you imagine cleaning up after thirty kids with glue bottles? Let’s don’t do that to him or her. Work on squeezing the glue bottle just a little (we use the phrase “Dot, dot. Not a lot!”). This exclusive, Salty Mama printable can help your kiddo to practice this skill, along with a few others on the list. Also work on using gluesticks. Need more help with gluesticks? This cute little craft kit  will give your child plenty of practice- and they won’t even know they’re working on school readiness skills!

School Readiness Printable
You can work on several school skills at once with this fun printable craft! Get yours here!

5. Pencil Grip
I don’t want your child’s teacher to have to run around to each student and show them how to hold a pencil. Think of all the time wasted! Have your child practice using a functional grip (on or two fingers on top of the pencil, with the thumb underneath). Is your child struggling? Use shorter pencils or crayons, which eliminates some of the other, less useful grips. Need more tips on how to help with this? Head on over to Living for the Sunshine to read more about ways to practice.

6. Folding a Paper in Half
Okay, this is a weird one, but there are a LOT of school crafts that involve folding a paper in half. Practice folding length-wise and width-wise (like a “hot dog” or a “hamburger,” if you remember from your school days). You can have them practice their scissor skills on their folded paper by tracing a half-heart and letting them cut it out.

7. Workbook Skills
I am no fan of workbooks personally, but there are going to be plenty of them at school. Grab one from the dollar store or the Target Dollar spot, or order a fun one here. Kids can practice valuable school-skills like circling an object, drawing lines from one item to another, and finding the line where they should write their name (or writing on the top right-hand corner if there isn’t one).

8. Putting Things in and Out of Their Backpack
Can you imagine the first-day-chaos if none of the kids could do this? Practice opening and closing backpacks with your kids, and make sure they are able to open any containers/packages that you plan to send to lunch with them. There’s not a ton of time to eat, and you probably don’t want your kid waiting the whole lunch period for it to be their turn for the lunch aide to open their Pirate’s Booty or juice box.

9. Taking Off/Putting On Their Own Sweater (Shoes, Etc.)
Big kid school is not like little-kid-preschool or daycare- there just aren’t enough grown-up hands to assist with these tasks! Help your child to become independent with their own zips/ties/snaps. And avoid sending them to school in shoes with ties until they can retie them on their own!

10. Wiping Their Own Booty (TK and Up, at the Least)
I mean, I’m just saying.  I can almost guarantee that wiping booties was not a part of your child’s teacher’s credential program, and someone’s gotta get it done. It’s gonna have to be your kid, so get to work on this one- stat.

Want to make sure you never miss out on exclusive Salty Mamas content (including more free printables like this one)? Click the link in our sidebar to the right to follow us via email!

Effing Four Year Olds, momlife, Terrible Twos, The Salties, Why We're Salty

Terror at Trader Joe’s

Apparently I was feeling brave. Apparently I was feeling confident. Apparently I was a fool.

Because for some reason, I thought it was a good idea to load up my kids and go to the grocery store. But not just any grocery store, Trader Joes. Now, let me be clear. I LOVE Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have on near you it’s a wonderful neighborhood grocery store with amazing food and drink from around the globe and around the corner. When my kids were little – wait, they’re still little, but like, really little, cart bound “little” – TJ’s was the best. We’d walk into the store and there was always a beautiful buffet of bananas welcoming us. We’d toss a half dozen or so in the cart and then I’d hand each of my kids one. I mean, I always paid for the bananas later, but I think the produce lady at Ralph’s doesn’t trust that I’m actually going to pay….No such problem at Trader Joe’s. No one there threw us shade for sampling the product as we strolled through the produce section.

The banana usually lasted through produce and fresh meat, and then we rounded the corner and it was time to start looking for the Bixby Beagle. Now, I won’t tell you how long it took me to realize that the Bixby Beagle isn’t a fixture at all locations, despite it being named after my neighborhood, so I don’t know what the dog is called where you live – or if it even IS a dog – because I just learned it could be any animal, but I love that dog. Because it gives my kids something to DO for the next little bit. As I meander through the frozen foods, my kids have their eyes peeled for that beagle. Because when we find it? They get a lollipop! A nice fresh, not-covered-in-lint-because-I-found-it-at-the-bottom-of-my-purse-while-hunting-for-something-to-calm-the-storm-brewing-in-my-cart lollipop.

We can usually make the lolly last until checkout at which point my kids get to try to entertain the checker, who then HANDS THEM A MILLION STICKERS. It’s like Willy Wonka’s factory over here when they start unraveling the giant roll of seasonal stickers. Sometimes, they’re even scratch ‘n’ sniff. My kids think every day is Christmas at Trader Joe’s.

But then my kids got older. And they got wise to the fact that there are ADORABLE tiny little carts that are just their size! First the bananas, then the lollipops, then stickers – clearly Trader Joe’s was catering to their VERY specific needs. So it should have come as no surprise to me when Cole told me that “Uncle Robert” got him his very own cart too! This will teach me to pretend that the manager of the grocery store is related to us.

For a while, things were okay. Cole was the biggest and somehow Evie just accepted that she still had to ride in the cart and Cole was allowed to push his own. And he did surprisingly well. He took his new responsibility seriously and I think he could smell the fear on me and knew he was one bruised shin away from having his rights revoked.

Then I started getting wise. I started getting organized. And for the love of God I started going to the store while Cole was in preschool. Going to a store with a 2 year old and a baby only feels easy when you’re used to having a 4 year old there too. I had gotten so used to the chaos of all three that two felt like a breeze! It was like old times! And that’s when you start to make mistakes. You get sloppy. You decide to let the two year old give this whole tiny cart thing a try. You think this is your new normal, not remembering that there will come a time when you will have to go to the store again with all three kids, but by then, it’s too late. By then, you’ve created monsters.

Which is how I ended up as the caboose in a crazy choo choo train of tiny cart insanity. To those we ran down, I apologize. To those that looked at me like I’m crazy, yeah, you’re probably right. To those that muttered something under your breath like I couldn’t hear you, I could. I’m not even saying I disagree with what you said, but I heard you bitches, okay? To those that seemed entertained by us, thank you. And to those that gave me a look of, “Hell yeah, mama, you got this!,” a huge, huge, thank you. It was because of you that we made it. Because of you that I didn’t give up in the pasta aisle, just lay down on the floor and cry, and just GIVE. UP.

Instead we pushed on. Ate a banana. Found the beagle. Got our lollipops. Grabbed some stickers for the road. And got the F OUT OF TRADER JOES.   trader joes

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
Chick-Fil-A, Kids' Activities, momlife, The Salties

Our Love Affair with Chick Fil A

Collage 2017-08-05 09_42_04.jpgLoving Chick Fil A? Yeah, that’s one of our deeply held, core beliefs. There has been MANY a day where the only thing that gets us through is the promise of a trip to Chick Fil A…and I’m talking about the Mamas, not the Little Salties. So what is it about Chick Fil A that we love so much? We’ll do our best to put it into words.

Jaymi: Diet Coke. Limitless, endless Diet Coke.

Christine: Cherry Coke. ALL the Cherry Coke. And one for the road.

Jaymi: Abe is finally old enough to go into the play area. Lila takes him into it and helps him through the structure and tells off any kids that mess with him and it makes my heart BURST.

Christine: The play area is SOUNDPROOF. Like, I can only hear the most extreme of screams, when it’s probably getting real enough in there that I should pop my head in anyway. But the regular playful squeals that are the soundtrack of my life? Gone for a blissful few minutes.

Jaymi: My grown-up-size Chicken Nugget meal is big enough to split with Abe, so Lila doesn’t have to LOSE HER MIND when I suggest she share the french fries she was never gonna eat anyways with her brother, and I still only have to buy two lunches.

Christine: LEGIT fruit cups. Yeah, this sounds like a sort of dud reason, but I have to buy my Gremlins 2 kids meals and with one I get a REALLY nice fruit cup. And I look like SUCH a good Mom y’all.

Jaymi: There is a stool for my daughter to stand on while she washes her hands, so I don’t have to hold her awkwardly while holding Abe and hearing her yell about how she’s never ever ever gonna wash her hands.

Christine: Two words: Mobile ordering. Step one: Download the app. Step two: order from your seat while the kids play in the play area. Because let me tell you, wrangling three kids in line for food is a nightmare. Plus, I earn free food using the app, so cheapskating for the win!

Jaymi: Those disposable placemats for the kids. I’m not opposed to putting his food straight on the table, but I get to avoid the comments from other people who ARE opposed when I use these bad boys.

Christine: Seasonal milkshakes. Specifically peach milkshakes during the summer. I’m a sucker for a limited time offer like all things pumpkin in the fall, and their milkshakes are BEYOND.

Jaymi: They let you trade the kids’ meal toy for ice cream, so A.) The kids get ice cream! We get to prolong our stay! and B.) I don’t end up with junk toys scattered all over the house.

Christine: Everyone else loves Chick-fil-A so when I’m desperate and alone and need another grown up to witness my day, it’s pretty easy to get a partner in crime.

Jaymi: My best friend Mark works there. He is only my best friend because he works at Chick Fil A, but STILL.

Basically, Chick-fil-A is our everything. Our watering hole. Our recharging station. Our happy place. So go ahead, take all our money. It’ll be worth.every.penny.

How to Handle
Bouncing Babies, momlife, They Said WHAT?

YOU are Best

YOU Are Best

This week is World Breastfeeding Week, and as the Salty Mama that’s still attached to a person several times a day, I figured it was my civic duty to weigh in.

I’m almost 10 months into breastfeeding Izzie, and on paper I’m a Gold Star Breastfeeder. She feeds on demand and often, has never had formula and never taken a bottle (except for one weekend when she finally gave in, but that’s a story for another day). Basically I’m waiting for La Leche League to give me some sort of trophy.

The community that has been built around positive breastfeeding messaging in America recently is an awesome and powerful one. Once, when Evie was nearing a year, I was sitting at the kid’s swim lesson feeding her. A Mom sat down next to me with her child and struck up a conversation. She also began to nurse her baby and we exchanged baby stats. Evie was a big healthy baby, and this woman immediately started in on how it was all due to my hearty breastmilk. Our strong bond due to our physical connection through nursing. Basically all of my child’s positive attributes existed because of the way I chose to feed her. As a person currently breastfeeding a baby, those statements were a booster shot to the heart telling you you’re doing a great thing. What an ego boost! Hell yeah, my body not just created a person but is now basically making her super-human! If she gets good grades? My breast milk made her a genius. If she excels in sports? Literal Muscle Milk! I was basically raising an Olympic bound future Harvard graduate.

But there’s a flip side to this messaging.

One that I lived through with my son. My firstborn was almost 9 ½ pounds when he was born. And he was HUNGRY. And I tried, oh how I tried, to feed him. The first few days went well. He latched like a natural in the hospital and seemed to be happy. I left with all the confidence that I was going to do everything right. But when we got home it all went to hell. No amount of “help” actually helped. I had a lactation consultant berate me for “doing it wrong” while offering nothing constructive and better ones that told me I just had to keep trying, my milk would come in. By day 4 or 5 he was unhappy and hungry all the time, so I started pumping. For weeks, I was either trying to feed him or pumping around the clock. I spent so much time pumping and trying to make sure he had enough food that I feel like I actually missed some of his first days. I was exhausted – far beyond what I experienced with my daughters, who were by all measures “worse” sleepers and bigger criers – and felt like I couldn’t function. I watched other people feeding him the bottles that I worked so incredibly hard for.

After engaging in this battle for what felt like a lifetime, but was really about eight weeks, my husband finally intervened. “This is ridiculous. I’m getting formula. You’re both miserable.” In the moment, it was a stab in the heart. I was not ready to admit defeat. But I had to admit that he was right. We were miserable. On the one hand the idea of just enjoying my baby was such an intoxicating one. I could know that he was getting enough food. I could relax and snuggle with him without him straining against me trying to eat and being devastated when it didn’t work. I could be happy. But in the not so back of my head I heard the chorus of people that aren’t just pro-breastfeeding, but anti-anything else. “Formula is poison.” “You’ll never bond with your baby.” And of course, “Breast is Best.” But I was desperate. Anything was worth a try.

Four years later I so appreciate my husband stepping in and taking the reins. My son is so happy and healthy and beyond bonded to me, and if anything, formula saved us. Because breastfeeding just. Wasn’t. Working. And that’s okay. It doesn’t make me a bad Mother. It doesn’t mean I don’t want the best for my kids. It sure as hell doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids. And the people that want to insinuate that in the name of Breastfeeding Awareness need to try to take a walk in the shoes of those of us that tried and failed.

Because as I roam around my Mommy-sphere of the internet, I can’t help but see over and over and over again that mantra “Breast is Best.” While this phrase may be full of empowerment to those that are breastfeeding, it can also be a soul crushing phrase to those who – for whatever reason – made the decision, or had the decision made for them, to not breastfeed.

I know it was for me.

So I guess what I want to contribute to Breastfeeding Awareness Week is this: Be aware of all the absolutely wonderful reasons to breastfeed. Be aware of all the reasons that some people may not be able to breastfeed. Be aware of all the completely valid reasons someone may choose to not breastfeed. And then support each other. Because at the end of the day, YOU are best for your kid. YOU are what keeps them healthy and happy and all the wonderful things we strive so hard for.

Mama Mojo, momlife, Why We're Salty

Going Gray, Gracefully

Aging Gracefully...No Thanks
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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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