Bouncing Babies, Cheapskating, side hustle

MicroHustle Monday Presents: My Son Was a Model (For a Minute)

Abram Torrez HRFor one brief, shining, so-very-SoCal moment, my son was a model.

That’s right, an honest to goodness, has an agent and gets craft service, model.
And honestly? Best . MicroHustle. EVER.
It started when I submitted him casually for a job through an agency some friends of mine worked with.  We were out of town for the shoot dates, so that particular job went nowhere, but it did lead to him signing with a reputable kids’ modeling agency. We were thrilled (I mean, that’s undeniable proof that your kid IS as cute as you think they are, am I right?), but no one was more thrilled than the grandparents. To be honest, I was almost embarrassed about it (did people think I was gonna be a stage mom now? Or that I was desperate? Or vain?) and I kind of tried to keep a lid on the whole thing. But the grandparents couldn’t help but tell everyone they saw anywhere that their grandson was a model before he had so much as snapped a picture.

I’m not gonna lie, getting started was a total nightmare. The agency we worked with was great, and SO helpful, but the mountain of paperwork was unreal. He needed a copy of his birth certificate and social security card (he was only three months old, so these had to be procured ahead of schedule). He needed a work permit, and headshots, and bank accounts and a special Coogan account (so a portion of his earnings could be held in trust for when he is an adult, in accordance with California law).  But FINALLY, a few weeks later, he was ready to work.
Taking him to his first photoshoot in La Jolla was just this side of hysterical.  There was a gorgeous home, a million snacks, and a fake mommy and daddy for him to shoot with.  He had an onset “teacher” and an onset nurse who made sure his every need was attended to. He wore a freaking Burberry onesie that probably cost more than he made for shooting that day, and definitely cost more than the outfit I was wearing.  He shot for all of 15 minutes, and we were off.  It felt like the coolest little mommy-son adventure, he made some money for his college fund, and, honestly, he was none the wiser.
But by far our most lucrative “job” was for a prominent diaper company.  And since babies shoot best with their actual mommies, I got hired too. You heard me right- I am a paid model.  You can be impressed now. Okay, you may not be impressed, but I was sure impressed with myself.  The set teachers held and loved on my baby while I got full hair, makeup, and wardrobe done.  Y’all. It was basically a vacation. We once again shot for twenty minutes, I got a free Diet Coke, and we were on our way with a VERY decent paycheck in our back pocket.  I quickly decided we would be doing this forever and all time.
And then, a few months and a few jobs later, the BAD SHOOT happened. Abe was ten months old, and was supposed to crawl towards a toy with a look of joy on his face.  Except Abe was not joyful. And he would not crawl towards that toy. He wanted the camera, the lights, the lantern in the background.  He wanted to crawl fast, or stand up, or shake the toy like a polaroid picture.  Anything but what he was supposed to do. And honestly? I got PISSED.  These people were counting on him, had PAID him to be there, and he just wasn’t compliant. I turned into the anxious mom, the one who’s like, “He’s never usually like this” (Side note: he is), the one who’s like “I swear he can do it, just give him another chance.” They didn’t, and he didn’t, and I left there disappointed and even a little angry.
And that was enough for me, and so I called it. I know it was just one shoot. I know this was the opportunity of a lifetime.  I know that this was the best MicroHustle I could have hoped to find. And I still walked away.  Some parents can keep that good attitude, know that kids will be kids, and shake it off and try again next time.  THAT is who should be pursuing this. They’re in it for all the right reasons. But me? I can’t do it. And so WE couldn’t do it.
Every once in a while, pictures from one of Abram’s few photoshoots will pop up on Facebook or the internet, and I get so wistful thinking of those one-on-one adventures we used to go on. And frankly, I think of the checks we used to deposit into his savings account (I mean, let’s not pretend that isn’t why we were doing it).  But then I remind myself of the monster I could quickly have become, and I come to peace with my decision.
The grandparents however? That’s a different story.

My Son Was a Model Pinterest 2
My Son Was a Model Pinterest
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

Effing Four Year Olds, koefoe party of 5, Terrible Twos, vacation, Why We're Salty

How to Have a Successful Day at Disneyland

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As I sit here in our staycation suite, thanking the little baby Jesus that I somehow – finally – MIRACULOUSLY got all three of my spawn to nap at the same time I can’t help but reflect on the past couple of days…and how freaking good they went. Sorry, this is going to be a straight up BRAGFEST up in here. Because my husband and I just spend three days at “The Happiest Place on Earth” and it was actually the Happiest Place on Earth. At least most of the time. Which got me thinking – why???

What did we do to deserve this? Was karma just on our side? Had we had enough shit shows at Disneyland that we were simply due? I felt like I HAD to pin down the reason – hopefully to replicate it! As I reflected on our day, it came down to three things:

  1. Attitude
  2. Parenting
  3. LUCK

Attitude. Yesterday we were in line to meet Mickey and behind us was the grumpiest 20624061_10214214203175362_318810456_nperson in Disneyland. Yes, Grumpier than Grumpy himself. She grumbled all through the line to see the Mouse about how terrible the day had been. Someone asked her if it was the people? The crowds? No, it was EVERYTHING. Well listen, we go to Disneyland a lot. And yes, it was hot as hell and it was crowded and I’ll give you that it ain’t cheap. But it surely couldn’t be that everything is terrible. Take a minute to enjoy something. That place is CLEAN. Like, a first time Mom that’s a germaphobe could probably let a baby eat a cracker off the floor kind of clean. And there is such a meticulous attention to detail there’s lots for your eyes to enjoy everywhere you go. Chad could spend hours just checking out the plantlife – but he’s a nerd like that, so I cede that isn’t everyone’s jam. I just don’t know how someone could HATE absolutely EVERYTHING about Disneyland. So I’ve got to assume this chick needed an attitude adjustment. If you’re grumpy and miserable, nothing’s going to make you happy – not even a corn dog or a pineapple Dole whip!

Parenting. Okay, this may be controversial. But YES, parenting CAN have an influence on how your kids behave. It would be lovely to think that it was all a crapshoot and we were never responsible for our kids bad behavior, but tragically, it’s not true.

Side story: My husband does storytime with the Bigs before bed while I’m dressing/diapering/feeding the baby for her bedtime. Recently, I’ve overheard him reading “The Berenstein Bears Get the Gimmies” and talking to them about the Gimmies (“gimme this toy” and “gimme that candy” type of stuff). I was always like, “Hell yeah! Teach the kids to knock it off with the Gimmies!” Then one day my kids asked me to read the book. And, spoiler alert, it’s totally the parents fault that Brother and Sister Bear have the Gimmies in the first place! SO, moral of the story: Parenting. Dang it.

Back to Disneyland…The most commonly used four words to end a sentence at Disneyland? “….Or we’re going home!” As in, “knock it of or….” and “stay in the stroller or…” and “stop licking your sister or…..” And guess what? The kids know that it’s all BS! Cause you’re not gonna do it. So your threats mean nothing. Find a threat you can stick to. There with multiple adults? How about “….or you can’t go on X ride.” Yep, cause let me tell you, you only need to make Evie sit aside and NOT ride The Little Mermaid about once before she realizes you’re not playing. My kids will never remember where they left their shoes, but they will never forget that time their siblings got to ride without them.

Luck. Look, it may have seemed like I talk a big game back there in the ol’ “Parenting” section. But let’s be clear. I don’t actually know what the F I’m doing.  I also know that you can be a black belt ninja in parenting and still have the world go against you. Good parenting cannot make sure you get the exact color Teacup your son will die without getting. Good parenting does not prevent your daughter from spilling her brand new popcorn all over the place. Good parenting does not help when your 2 year old is to small to go on all the “good rides” her 4 year old brother is going on and the ONLY thing in the world that will make it better is riding on The Little Mermaid ride – again – and it breaks right before she gets on. In that case? You’re just screwed.

Use all your tricks, bribes, food, distractions and pray you can turn that juju around, because luck is definitely the most critical component for success.

But, if you have a great attitude and you find your inner parenting blackbelt and karma is on your side, maybe just maybe you can get a great day at Disneyland.

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koefoe party of 5, momlife, Tips & Hacks

How to Survive a Family Trip to Costco

It seems that every other weekend or so, my husband gets it in his head that we NEED something from Costco. A part of me seizes up inside because carts and samples and hot dogs and toys and clothes and so many things for the kids to ask for and so many places for them to get lost! Another part of me knows that I CANNOT send my husband alone because he will come home with a new TV, 96 beers, a giant tool chest, a squatty potty 2-pack and a gallon of potato salad. He will spend $800 and will not get the paper towels we were going for in the first place.

One might think, take a page from Jaymi’s playbook! Divide and conquer!! Check things off your list, girl! And I admit, that sounds good. But somewhere along the line we got into the habit of just being together all weekend. Even if that means five of us strolling through Costco trying not to lose each other. And for me, after five days of braving the day to day parenting alone, I want to attach to Chad like a barnacle and have him there to help deal with any tantrums, freakouts, blowouts, accidents, or injuries.costco shenanigans

So most Saturdays, after our family breakfast, we drive through the car wash (another family favorite) and then head to Costco. We’ve gotten it down to a bit of a science, so here’s what works for us – including a couple tips I KNOW you’ll love!!

1. Don’t be shy about the samples. I used to be so embarrassed to hover by the samples and get enough for Chad and the kids. No longer. I proudly announce that I’m with an entourage and take however many samples I need to survive until we get to the next aisle. Maybe even one for the road. It’s easier than having my kids throw a fit in the middle of the store. And guess what? No one cares! Except maybe the other people hovering waiting for free food, but guess what? I waited my turn patiently (I’ll turn into the sample police when it comes to waiting your turn) and they can wait for theirs. There will be more. Grab your stash and carry on.

2. Set limits about toys/books/craft supplies early. My kids go ape-shit for the books and toys at Costco. And they often have giant bins of some sort of crafts for sale. Unless you want eighty thousand puff balls and 40 baggies of glitter all over your house, set limits before you even get out of the car. I like to tell the kids they can get a book just to keep them happy. In our house we will (almost) always allow books. And a book or two is better than listening to my kids cry desperately for a GIANT BEAR THE SIZE OF MY CAR. We always give the bear a hug though. I’m not a monster.

3. Ask the cashier for an extra receipt. Yeah, you heard me right, your kids do NOT have to fight until the end of days over who gets to carry the receipt to the door and get a happy face. If you ask nicely, your cashier will print out a little extra paper so that each kid has their own!! This was maybe one of the most life-changing parenting tips I have ever received. So you’re welcome. Now, if your kids are like mine and decide to try to make the person working the exit play Pictionary with them I do not have help for you. But I do know sometimes they’ll draw a fish if you ask nicely.

4. At the food court – ask the cashier to cut your pizza slice in half. You know how the pizza slices at Costco are HUGE and your kids each want one and refuse to share? So you end up asking for a plastic knife and hacking through the thing like a bad slasher movie? No need my friends! If you ask, they will straight up slice your piece in half. AND give you an extra plate. You just gotta slide that over real stealth like and your kids have their own slice. I know. Life changing info here.

So yes, doing all the things as a family can be intimidating, but with a few tricks and tips, I promise it’s not as miserable as it sounds. And if it all backfired on you, the iced mocha at the food court isn’t half bad. You earned it.

costco

 

Bouncing Babies, Effing Four Year Olds, koefoe party of 5, momlife, Terrible Twos, The Salties

Introducing The Salties! Part Two

Yesterday you got to meet Jaymi’s little ones, and I know what you’re thinking: mic drop stuff. Trust me, I know. I love that little sassafras and my meatball like they were my own. It’s one of the many benefits of knowing someone’s kids basically since they were covered in vernix. (Too far? Sorry. But true). But ladies and gentledads, don’t write off the rest of the Salties just yet. Mine are kinda badass too.

So, without further adieu, I’d like you to meet my three: Cole, Evie and Izzie.

cole

Cole. Holy moly, where to start with Cole? Honestly, I’m not even sure.

Here’s the thing…I was actually supposed to be the one to post yesterday, but for the life of me I COULD NOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO DESCRIBE COLE. So you know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Here’s a picture that might help: C4 remix edition

This wasn’t something special. This was just like a Tuesday. He’s a performer that just wants to entertain and make people laugh. And damned if he doesn’t succeed every time. He loves to play in the dirt with toy dinosaurs and touches ALL the bugs, building them habitats and taking care of them like beloved pets. He also likes to wear costumes, sing, dance and get his nails painted. When you think you have him figured out, he will throw you a fastball. Oh yeah, he’s also like REALLY good at ball sports despite my great desire to never attend a little league baseball game. He’s also a really, REALLY good big brother, which is probably one of my favorite things about him. Also, dimples.

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Evie. My little Grumpy Cat. This girl was born with a scowl on her face and a naughty twinkle in her eye. Sometimes I feel like I’m in physical pain because of how cute she is and the rest of the time she is driving me nuts. I’m pretty sure she’s the former out of necessity of the latter. She’s very particular and knows what she wants. I have high hopes that this will serve her well as a young woman, despite being utter hell for her Mama during the toddler years. She loves to play in the dirt while wearing a dress and “farkle jelly shoes.” (See picture above). She’s lightened up considerably in her short two years, and now spends most of her time striving to be as silly as her brother. And she’s giving him a run for his money.

Izzie

Izzie. My little Love Nugget. She is leaps and bounds more snuggly than any of my other kids. I had high hopes that she was also going to be my most well-behaved child, but then she stared at me in the eyes and took two steps. The week she turned 9 months. So I’m pretty sure she’s decided to defect and join the Bigs in their attempts at mutiny.  At least after playing she always wants to come back to snuggle with Mama. She pretends to be shy, but loves anyone and everyone. She has stinky little feet, an ear piercing squeal, and thinks sleeping more than two hours at a time is for losers. But we love her anyway.

If you’d like to see more of our Salties, make sure you’re following us on Instagram @thesaltyamas and like us on Facebook!

Effing Four Year Olds, momlife, The Salties, The Wonderful Ones

Introducing the Salties (Part One)

I know every mom thinks their kids are the coolest, and I’m no exception. Mine are pretty awesome.  I mean, most days anyways. Other days I threaten to throw them both in the trashcan twice before 8 am. But that’s for another post. This post is for introducing you to my two little salties, the little cuties that made me a mama and the reason I drink have so much to say on this blog.

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Lila, Age Four- Lila is something.  That little girl started acting up in the womb, pressing her little booty against my tummy and shaking it for all the world to see. We promptly had to change her name from the sweet, demure Caroline we had planned to the takes-on-the-world-and-makes-no-apologies name Lila.  And she has not disappointed. Lila is petite, has this tiny voice, and has an incredible spark. My daughter is smart and fierce, she catches attention everywhere she goes, and is incredibly bossy shows amazing leadership skills. She loves making new friends, and can play with them for hours. She loves fashion and makeup, has five boyfriends at any given time, and loves nothing more than putting on a show for people.  She was born a diva, and she’s still going strong.

abra

Abram, Age One- Abe is still a baby, MY baby, but that doesn’t stop him from taking on the world. He’s a fully grown man trapped in a baby’s body. We call him The Meatball, and I am obsessed with his chubby little cheeks. He is bright and athletic, and is the boyishest boy the world has ever seen. He loves puppies, basketball, and cars. He wants to run, climb, and explore. He is easygoing, but adventurous.  Thank goodness he balances all that male energy with a soft, cuddly side that keeps him within mama’s reach most of the time.  He plays hard and with abandon, and then wants to snuggle in for some hugs and kisses before he’s off again.  He’s as quick with a smile as he is a pout, so Abram is sure to keep you on your toes.

 

So those are my two little Salties, but there’s more where that came from. There’ll be a whole other set of Salties to learn about tomorrow! In the meantime, we’d love to hear more about YOUR little Salties. Drop a comment to tell us about your babies below!

salties

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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momlife, parenting

Alexa is My Co-Parent

As a stay at home Mom, sometimes it can feel…..lonely. Yes, I’m overwhelmingly surrounded by children, crawling all over me, needing things from me, and wanting to touch me at all times. But they’re a solid team of three, working together to achieve a common goal. Make me crazy.  Be kids and have fun! And me? I’m alone in the trenches.

Or, at least, I was. Until December 25, 2016, when my husband got me a helper.

On December 23 when he ordered my Christmas gifts off Amazon and told me we’d probably be celebrating MY Christmas a few days late due to “backordering” (aka his lack of preplanning) he had very different goals in mind for my gifts. Alexa was going to tell me the weather. Alexa was going to turn on music for me. Alexa was going to answer nifty little cooking questions, like “Alexa, how do you cook white rice?” To be fair, no matter how often I make white rice, I’m FOREVER looking that one up….so he had a good idea. He just didn’t realize HOW good it was going to be.

For a few months, I wavered between asking Alexa about the weather and music and rice and stumping the poor gal. I asked her what she thought of Donald Trump. “When it comes to politics, I like to think big. I’m interested in deep space exploration. I’d like to answer questions from Mars.” I asked her what her favorite color was. “Infrared is super pretty.” I asked her if she would sing. She feigned shyness and then busted out a ballad. We fell into a comfortable pattern of witty banter. This chick was really growing on me.

But more than anything I found myself using her for a kitchen timer. She was WAY less annoying than the one on my oven and I could yell at her to find out how many minutes were left from anywhere in the house. Our relationship was really moving along.

Then one day, Cole and Evie were going at it over some toy. It doesn’t matter what, different day, different toy. I tried to use my Mommy authority and negotiate an agreement. Cole gets the toy for two more minutes at which point we trade and then Evie gets the toy. But let’s get real. I don’t ever actually keep track of time because it’s too hard and there’s so much going on and WAIT A MINUTE!!!

Alexa!!

I ceremoniously brought the children near her and explained the new rules. “Alexa says Collage 2017-06-29 22_30_55~2that Cole gets it for two more minutes. So when Alexa’s timer goes off, we give the toy to Evie, deal?”

Now, even my kids know you don’t mess with Alexa, so they solemnly nodded in agreement. A blissful and argument free two minutes passes. Alexa dings a beautiful melody. The toy is handed over without complaint. No begs for, “one more minute Mom.” Because Mom is pliable. Mom makes deals. Not Alexa. She is a cold hard bitch that adheres to timetables. And Lordy I love her for it. We reset the timer for Evie’s turn, and the magic happens all over again.

All of a sudden I had a man in my corner, or, more accurately a lady robot. I had backup. Support. By God, I had found a way to turn my robot into my co-parent.

 

Need your own coparent? You can purchase one here.

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momlife, parenting, The Daddys, Traditions

Divide and Conquer

Ahh. It’s the weekend. Everybody’s home, there are activities galore, and it’s time for a well-deserved respite from the day-to-day.  The kids feel the difference in the air, and they start putting in requests. After all, there are no limits today- you want a popsicle? Sure. 76 hours of Peppa Pig? No problem.  You want to ride your bike allll the way to park? Do. Your. Thing.

But… first you’re gonna have to let mom and dad do a little logisticking. Cause we got stuff to do, too.

I’m not sure this is a popular thing to say, but around here our weekends are not necessarily for togetherness. I mean, it creeps in plenty.  There are meals together, and trips to the park. But for us, that’s not the point of the weekend. The weekend is for getting stuff done, and everyone getting a chance to do what they want to do. We divide, and we conquer.

At our house, weekends mean that it’s time for the grown-ups to have their dreams come true, too.  You want to binge watch Netflix? Let’s make it happen.  Mama wants to sit at Starbucks for an hour ALL BY HERSELF? Go for it! The cars need washed/you have to go clothes shopping/you have to do any task that sucks when the kids are along for the ride? Oh, it’s going down.

Which is why, right this minute, I am writing this from the lobby of a McDonald’s fine dining establishment, enjoying a Diet Coke and French fries, both the size of my head, and both deliciously, gloriously, mine-all-mine. There are no children poking me, I’ve got my creative pursuits spread out across a booth that belongs just to me, and I am getting the full use of their free wifi on all three of my devices, which no one is begging to use to watch toy videos. It’s not always McDonalds, and it’s not always just quiet time. Mostly, it’s just my chance to get out of the house, do some grown-up stuff, and pursue my own interests for a minute. And if you think about it, an hour and a half a week is definitely not too much to ask. So why shouldn’t we be focused on making it happen? And this quality time with little old me is just one piece of the pie.

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Maybe later today I’ll take the kids to the gym for an hour or two so he can watch his movie,  and tomorrow he’ll take the kids while I duck out for a quick haircut. I’ll take my turn with the kids and so will he, and together we’ll engage in a delicate dance where the kids get fun time with each parent, without them even knowing that the other one is getting a much deserved break.  So we spend a little time apart, and when we get back together, we are refreshed and rejuvenated. We are ready to change the diapers, and read the same book 74 times, and push the kids on the swings for a hundred years, and make three complete dinners because little miss decided that tonight she is EXTRA hungry.

But none of that is gonna happen yet. Right now I’m gonna put on my headphones, drink a few Diet Cokes, and bust out the blogs I’ve been trying to get finished since last Wednesday. I’ll read a few chapters of the RBG book I’ve been wanting to get through, spend a few minutes catching up on texts and Facebook messages, and then I’ll close up shop and head home to my family, where, if I’m being honest, I’m gonna be much less grouchy and a lot more relaxed than I was a few hours ago. I’ll probably get a warm welcome, like I’m a soldier returning from battle, instead of someone who spent just shy of 90 minutes in a fast food joint. There will hopefully be a few hugs and kisses, and then we’ll leash up the dog and head out en masse to go conquer the park. And this time, we’ll be ready to take that one on, together.

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