Doc McStuffins Babysat E While I Was Sick. And I’m Totally Cool With That

I haven’t been sick sick in a long time. I think the last time I had a fever I was teaching preschool, a job where hazmat suits should be issued but sadly aren’t. Then this weekend we got the head cold from Hell. Not a lot of snot, a minor sore throat, but a high fever that wouldn’t leave for three days. E came down with it on Thursday, meaning little sleep for me, and I got it Friday. This deployment has been wrought with sickness. Given our close timing, I can only assume we picked it up at dance class from the little love who was lethargic and coughing. Thanks awesome mom for bringing your sick kid. Hey dance mom, in the future let’s keep in mind that it’s a toddler dance class, not the New York City Ballet. Thanks.

Anyhoo. Given the whole three days of misery thing, she was 100% by Saturday evening. I was not. Sunday morning arrived along with a necessary trip to the store for dog food (my plan had been to go to the pet food store on Friday, and clearly that didn’t happen) as at this point Meatball had had whole wheat bread and yogurt (at least they were organic…) for two meals. One outing with a potty training toddler and a large bag of dog food and I wasn’t up to entertaining E. Enter the DVR and Doc McStuffins. Thank you Lord for DVRs. E had the time of her life watching every Doc we have, and I was able to lie like a dead thing on the couch running death prevention. We are both still alive so clearly I did a bang up job.

E watched pretty much a whole day of TV, and survived. As did I. I felt like a new person after a day of rest and a good night’s sleep. If you had told me when E was born that she would watch an entire day of TV, I would have said maybe when she’s in college. Or, 2 1/2.

This brings me to the larger point of sharing this weekend’s misery and my adoration of Doc. I’ve had one too many conversations with mom friends who feel stressed that they aren’t living up to the ideals of a parenting style. My philosophy: Parenting is pragmatic.

It’s comforting to hold a parenting philosophy close. Attachment Parenting, Free Range Parenting, The Child Centered Approach, etc etc. They can offer guidelines and answers to problems at all hours of the day, but only within the confines of their tenets. Life, however, does not always fit nicely into a particular parenting philosophy’s teachings. So many parents, especially moms, who already have one of the hardest jobs known to humankind, are left feeling like failures as they weren’t able to live up to the {Insert Parenting Philosophy Here}’s ideal of what a parent should be doing.

The tenets of Attachment Parenting were born in a laboratory setting.

Free Range Parenting was created by ONE MOM, based on her and family’s experiences.

And on, and on, and on.

This isn’t to say that many parenting philosophies don’t have value. Most do. But to hold so strongly to a parenting philosophy that you alter your life in ways that compromise your sanity, well that’s just insane. As for myself, I am indebted to dear Doc McStuffins and I don’t regret it one bit.

 

 

The Art of Doing it All Over, Day After Day, Again and Again.

Whether you are a working mom, a work at home mom, or a stay at home mom, I imagine that you, like myself, have the same schedule a majority of the time. Day, after day, after ever loving day. I also imagine that you, like myself, wake up on a Saturday and contemplate what it would be like to not know what the day might bring. Can you even remember those days? Or are they for you, as they are for me, this distant foggy memory of a time when I wasn’t ruled by a really demanding, albeit also really cute, toddler with an attitude. For stay at home moms, this reality can be even more daunting, as there is no break sans a hopefully quiet night. 

In reality the childcare component, in and of itself, is mostly enjoyable. I love watching E have an “ah ha” moment, or just play her little heart out. Seeing her run down the beach with the biggest smile, laughing uncontrollably, that warms my soul. Time outs and tantrums, not so lovely, but when she goes to do the same thing later on and makes a better decision, it makes it all worthwhile. So yes, the caring part, I’m good with that.

It’s the doldrums of the everyday need-to-do list that really make being a mom, and specifically a stay at home mom, challenging. 

Sure, don’t clean. And then proceed to rush around like a mad thing trying to get out of the house because you don’t know where anything is. Laundry? Let it go. And then come up with a creative way to clothe your child for the day when everything that fits them is dirty. Meal planning? Far too time consuming. That is until dinner time arrives, and you have nothing to make dinner out of. My point is you just can’t choose to not do the everyday tasks, and focus solely on parenting. Well, you can, but you’ll live in filth and disarray, making every outing and life in general more of a struggle, and you’ll be eating whatever you can scrape together from the random food in the fridge.

So we can’t avoid them, but what can we do then to make life with the monotony of the every day need-tos more tolerable?

1. Give Yourself a Weekly Cheat Day: Both on healthy eating (if that’s your thing, I won’t get preachy but it should be) AND on the chores. Pick one day of the week where you are OK with eating whatever your tastebuds desire, as well as nothing getting done on the ever so present, never ending list of crap that needs to be done. Yes, that may mean one extra load of laundry the next day, and maybe even sandwiches for dinner, but it gives you a much needed break to replenish you for the next 6 days of healthy choices and an abundance of chores. And hey, maybe while you take a break someone else will pick up the slack. *wink, wink*

If_Its_Your_Cheat_Day_Make_It_Good

2. Make a 6 Most Important Things to Do List the Night Before: This successful tool isn’t just for people in the business world. Come up with the Top 6 things you NEED to get done tomorrow (not want to, need to) and do those first, starting with the one you want to do least or that is the most challenging. Once those are done, whatever else you happen to accomplish is just icing on the cake of an already successful day. 

3. Do One Really Fun Thing Each Week for You: Often we moms do a little something for ourselves each day. An at-home pedicure (read use a pumice stone and clip our toenails). A mid-day glass of wine on a Friday. Sleeping for an extra three minutes through the early morning “mooommmmmyyyyyy”. Finishing off our kid’s last bit of mac n cheese. And yes, these luxurious moments are slightly satisfying, but they sure as hell aren’t about to propel us into a state of renewed vigor for what the next day holds.

But you know what will? And possibly get us through the next WEEK? A great night out, a ridiculously delicious and kid free meal (an at home dinner with your love works too!), an actual pedicure, or that one item you’ve been jonesing after for months now. Like a new camel coat for the Fall and Spring. This is a classic piece that you won’t regret investing in. 

inspiring-fall-outfits-camel-coat-look

This isn’t to say we should throw ourselves into financial turmoil to psychologically survive motherhood, but instead, rather than get by with a few half hearted attempts at pleasure, each week we should give ourselves a “paycheck” of sorts. Kisses and hugs are great, but a delicious meal and a great bottle of wine sans small children? Not to mention a camel coat…

4. Take Pleasure in the Mundane: At the end of the day, all the laundry, the dishes, the dirty floors, the food prep and KP duty, are all reminders that you are so very blessed to be a mom. Many, many women only dream of such a life. And yes, that will mean very little as you spend yet another afternoon cleaning up messes you had no hand in creating, but when the little ones are in bed, and all is quiet for five minutes, remember how blessed you really are. Let that be the thought that you go to sleep with, how beautiful motherhood really is. It just may help to pull you through when those sweet little faces wake you up at 4:45am, on a Saturday. 

 

 

Family, Young Cousins, and Life During Deployment for E

This past weekend was a fantastic one with my sister and her family on the Cape. 4 kids under 4, 4 adults and 2 dogs in one house, and all survived unscathed. The gorgeous weather may have helped!

Grammie loved having both her girls and all her grandkids home at the same time. E and her 3 year old cousin played so well together, screaming, laughing, jumping and engaging in general kid antics for the whole weekend. My sister’s infant twins weren’t left out of the fun, what with their playful big brother and E mothering them as much as possible.

My favorite picture from the weekend is this one, with all the kids and adults gathering and playing on the backyard lawn.

Everyone on the lawn

Although we had a lot of fun, the stress on E of having her Dada away on deployment was very apparent. E clung on to her Uncle this weekend, and asked for pictures of her Dada often. Having a Daddy around (even if it was her cousins’ and not hers!) meant a lot to her.

Sometimes only a Dad figure will do to brave the water!

Sometimes only a Dad figure will do to brave the water!

 

The pictures on the iPhone weren’t doing it, so I ended up cutting up a picture from our wedding that my mom had and giving it to her to sleep with. Clearly a Daddy Doll is needed, so one is on order. I honestly thought she’d get frustrated with a Daddy Doll, and not understand why min-Dada was there but not there, but obviously that isn’t the case as she loves her Dada picture.

I most definitely lost it crying a time or two when she called her Uncle “Dada” (her cousin was calling him that, so she was probably just following suit, but still). We slept together last night as she had a hard time going to bed on her own. I give lots of credit to those who co-sleep, as I got kicked in the legs and whopped in the face all night by a soundly sleeping tot. The goal was for her to sleep well, so it was a win all in all.

She was heartbroken when my sister and her family left, but luckily so worn out from all the playing and outdoor fun that she fell asleep well on her own.

Hangin in the BOB on the way back from the neighborhood bay beach

Hangin in the BOB on the way back from the neighborhood bay beach

Here’s to hoping that that was just a blip (one of many I’m sure) and we’ll have smooth nights from here on out for a bit (Daddy Doll, please come quickly!)

I also ordered a set of oils from Young Living, many that are purported to have a calming effect. For this and future deployments, I hope they help! If nothing else the lemon oil is supposed to help to increase metabolism, and what with all the extra Summer treats, I could use that for myself.

-Me

 

 

 

 

Upgrade Your Style: Socially Conscious Accessorizing with Warby Parker’s NEW Beacon Collection

My absolute favorite components of style and fashion are accessories. Add a statement necklace, earrings and a pair of fabulous sunnies to a tired top or outfit and you’ve got a whole new look. Take your look from day to night by trading the sunglasses for fashion eyewear (or prescription if that suits your needs).

Eyewear is often overlooked as the powerful statement piece that it can be. We can all recognize in an instant John Lennon’s classic round frames. Think of a military inspired look without Aviators. Drab colors with some form fitted pieces. Or Rachel Zoe without her signature oversized sunglasses, or “sunnies” (a term I believe she coined), a look harkening back to the style icon herself, Jackie O. Sunglasses and eyewear in general can complete a look and make a statement in a way no other accessory can.

Warby Parker takes on-trend eyewear to the next level, making affordable and socially conscious pieces to suit every face and style. With all of their eyewear, from sunglasses to frames, for each pair you purchase they donate part of their profits to organizations like VisionSpring to bring affordable eyewear and eyewear businesses to developing countries. Warby Parker’s Buy a Pair Give a Pair gives not only sight but economic growth to people in need around the world. When they asked me to help them launch their latest collection, Beacon, available July 24th, I jumped at the chance to take part in this amazing company.

The Beacon collection, named for the Morning Star, visible at dawn and just before nightfall, is inspired by the impromptu, can’t-be-duplicated parties and gatherings we all live for. Although as a mom of a toddler and wife of a deployed Coast Guardsman these are few and far between now a days, these nights remain magical and for myself, coveted. Similarly, this collection, simple and elegant, with styles that not only fit but accentuate the beauty of any and all face shapes while keeping up with the night by being fun and flirty, is too magical and coveted.

Lucky for you, with Warby Parker’s price point, you won’t have to hold out for these gorgeous pieces. Here are my top picks from Warby Parker’s Beacon Collection. A little something for everyone.

the Nicole (Left) and Ingram  Sunglasses.

The Nancy (Left) and Ingram Sunglasses.

Nicole Up close

 

WP14004_NANCY_933_SUN_TOPDOWN

Nancy

Ingram

Ingram

Garret Eyeglasses.

Garret Frames. (Garret is available in sunglasses as well)

WP14004_GARRETT_225_OPT_TOPDOWN

McKee, Right. Fun, flirty and smart, take these eyeglasses from day to night effortlessly.

McKee frames, Right. Fun, flirty and smart, take these from day to night effortlessly.

McKee Soft Side

McKee

McKee

Check out the entire collection at warbyparker.com and let your own wardrobe transformation begin, all while helping those in need. Go forth and shop happy.

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A Fourth of July Art Project for Your Little Ones, Along with Ideas on Talking About the Fourth with Little Ones

fourth of july art project collage final .jpg

What kind of Military Family would we be without a Fourth of July project?

For this project we made red, white and blue paper by painting a large sheet of white paper with red and blue paint, just like in our Spring Art Project. Since the weather has been gorgeous, and painting in and of itself is more fun when it’s messy (sensory fun!) we did our painting outside.

RWB Painting 2

After E completed her patriotic painting we moved onto blue handprints for the flags.

Look Ma, Blue Hands!

Look Ma, Blue Hands!

Blue Handprints

After E’s painting fun, I painted red stripes next to two of the best handprints to make the flags.

Handprint flag 1 .jpg

Once the red and blue painting dried I cut out stars for the wreath. I wanted a handmade feel so I drew stars on the back as opposed to using a star cookie cutter or star pattern.

To make the wreath frame I cut the middle out of a generic paper plate, along with the edge. I cut out the middle of two paper plates and kept both centers to mount the handprint flags.

After E woke up from her nap, I showed her the stars and told her how they were made out of the painting she had made. I modeled how to glue the stars on and then let her create her wreath (with a lille help from me now and then).

Gluing stars on .jpg

We then moved onto the flags. We talked about her handprints and how I painted red stripes next to them to make a flag. I had a picture of an American flag for her to see and talked about how her hand was the stars and the red lines were the stripes.

To finish making the flags I mounted them on the paper plates and added the sticks. For preschoolers have kids help mount the cut out completed flags on the paper plate circles.

Handprint Flag with Stick .jpg

Talk about what parts of the circle you have to remove to make it fit the rectangle of the flag. Tape or glue the sticks for the flag on (I found tape worked best for this part) and let all pieces dry.

 

Once all pieces are dried, arrange as you’d like. Here’s what we came up with.

Completed Fourth of July Project Displayed .jpg

I put E’s project next to her Countdown plate, an appropriate place I think!

 

Why we celebrate the Fourth of July is a big concept for little ones. Different countries, fighting for freedom, American liberty, and so on. Taking large concepts like these and breaking them down to their simplest form, within a context children will understand, can be challenging. Here’s an idea for toddlers and preschoolers:

“We’re having a big party today because we live in a very special place, and we’re happy we live here. Today is like a birthday for the special place we live. It’s special here because we can make choices that lots of other kids, moms and dads can’t make, like what to wear, what we talk about, and what schools you can go to. Daddy works to help keep us and our special home safe. We’re very blessed to live where we do, and so today we’re celebrating, just like we celebrate your birthday!”

Happy Fourth of July to You and Your Family! Enjoy!

One Week Down on Practice Deployment, I’ve Learned a Few Things and No One’s Been Seriously Injured! Win!

5 Days Left 7 Days Down, 5 To Go. Yup, E and I have made it a week on our own unscathed. A few minor mishaps, but all in all unscathed. For those of you just joining in, Jer’s new assignment is on a large Coast Guard Cutter where he’ll be gone for a few months at a time. As of now, he’s away for two weeks at a class. Hence our Practice Deployment.

Over the last week I’ve learned a thing or two about living in an unknown place with a toddler by myself, and a few tricks for surviving the lifestyle deployment will bring. I imagine I’ll acquire a few hundred more in the next two years and beyond. But for now, my weekly words of…wisdom??

1. Don’t Run Off With the Neighbors Trash Can: I was all sorts of proud of myself for first remembering trash day (though the other trash cans out all over the street may have given me a heads up), and then actually putting out the trash and recycling, and finally bringing said cans back to the backyard. If you’re a rural lady like myself who’s family drove their garbage to the dump, then this new fangled suburban affair of trash day can be deceivingly tricky. No one mentioned having to note WHICH side of the mailbox you put yours on. My proud moment turned into me trucking four trash and recycling cans back and forth and hoping no one saw my suburban faux pas. Here’s to a better trash day this week.

2. When It’s You Versus a Toddler, Day In and Day Out, The “Rules” You Once Adhered to Do Not Apply: Limited screen time. Encouraging only good behavior. Boxed mac n cheese only in a pinch. Save the good wine for dinner parties and date nights. All out the freakin window. E now knows the theme song to the Sprout network, as well as the word “Sprout”. She got a balloon today at the grocery store in response to a tantrum over bananas. I’ve hidden meat and other sources of protein in mac n cheese on a daily basis, and the good wine is pouring nightly. Survival people, this is survival.

Sooo happy and all is well.

Sooo happy and all is well.

3. Remember That Sweet Furbaby You Have That Was at One Time Your World? No really, Remember Them. Like That They’re in the Back Yard: Like most Sundays, E managed to sustain an injury between waking up and the time we needed to leave for church. Not like last week’s bloody and bruised lip, but a decent knee scrape none the less (hence the BandAid in the picture above). After the crying and the well-vocalized hatred of wound care, I was able to distract E and get her in the car, happy, tear free, and off to church. Half way through the service, I remembered poor Meatball. In the backyard for his morning outing (albeit fenced in, but he’s not the outdoors type). Thank God it wasn’t a hot morning. If you’re not used to having a fenced in yard, take note the dangers as well as the perks. 

Poor Meats. He was not amused. But really he was actually having fun outside. This is his happy face.

Poor Meats. He was not amused. But really he was actually having fun outside. This is his happy face.

Meatball was just fine, in fact he was happily playing (with E’s soccer ball). Though it wasn’t one of my finest moments as a dog parent, E did get to make this sweet Dove of the Holy Spirit for her first Sunday School Project.

Dove for Pentecost

4. Make Your Bed: When it’s you, a messy toddler and a slobbering dog it’s easy to get lax about daily chores and upkeep (both household and personal). Start the day off with discipline by doing something as simple as making your bed. The meaning of that simple task will trickle down into all you do that day. Rules of toddler engagement may change, but our personal daily rituals should be kept sacred despite the company.

5. Making Friends is Like Dating: It takes time, effort, and a whole lot of patience to sort through the crazies. Find the good ones and make it a point to make time for them in your day. Like how I look for the school bus to arrive in our neighborhood, as I know my fabulous new friend and neighbor will be gathering her kiddos from school. Time to go play in the front yard E, mommy wants to play with her friends too! (Totally not stalking, right?)

And so you have it, 7 days down and many more to go…next up, our meal plan of dinners, toddler approved! (According to today’s preferences and favorites….)

 

 

Some First-Evers and E and I’s (almost) Start of Life During Deployment

I am happy to report we are all on the mend. It may have taken some PT advice from a good friend in Scotland to get us there, but we’re here! E is back to her happy, loud self, I can talk and Jer can stand up for more than 5 minutes at a go.

Just in time to prepare for Baby E and I’s test run for life with Jer on deployment. Jer has to attend a two week course back up north for his new assignment, giving E and I two weeks of life sans Dada. Jer’s back being out ended up being a blessing in disguise as I was able to ease into this new lifestyle with Jer still here for moral support. Being that he couldn’t stand, all cooking, cleaning, and even lawn mowing was done by me.

Not bad for a first go 'round

Not bad for a first go ’round

I asked Jer if I should send a picture of my yard work art to his father, the lawn mowing guru. He suggested I give it a few more tries. Clearly there’s room for improvement, though I think it went quite well. No limbs or digits lost, and the grass is relatively even. Win.

I also ran my first road race this week! Sadly not a 5K, as that’s what I was hoping to run, but instead a 1 mile. I’d love to say my lack of running the 5K portion was due to my partners in crime all having strollers, making the hiking trails the 5K was on impossible to navigate, but really it was due to my clumsiness. I trip on flat roads, so the thought of running over rocks and through trees brought images of ER visits and broken ankles to mind. So I opted for the paved 1 Mile run. Either way, I can check off my first race ever.

Tomorrow we start our first ever Countdown til Daddy is Home, though I think I’ll be getting more out of the numbers going down than E will. Either way, it begins….

Countdown Plate

And with that, my Top Five Tips for This Week on Surviving Injuries, Illness and Maybe Even Deployment:

1. Let it Go, Let it Go: The dirty counters never really mattered anyways.

2. Take a Deep Breath and Dive In: No matter the task, it’s most likely far easier and less stressful than you’ve made it out to be in your mind.

3. Go to Bed and Drink Water: Translation, take care of yourself.

4. Cling Tight to Your Crock Pot: This, this is the saving Grace of dinner time. The main meal is done when dinner time arrives, all you have to do is make a side dish.

5. Have Faith in YOU: And celebrate your victories, no matter how small.