Category: Uncategorized

The Whatever Mom Wants You to Join the Whatever Army!

We’ve all heard the term “Mommy Wars.” It just doesn’t sound right. Moms are supposed to be peaceful role models for their children. We teach our kids not to fight, to think of other people’s feelings, and to be kind to others. I have struggled the last few months to find just the right words to sum up my thoughts on the “Mommy Wars.” Turns out I don’t need to find the right words; one picture has a thousand of them! So, why not include a whole bunch of pictures? I was inspired to create my own photo montage with local Hudson Valley moms after I read the CT Working Moms Group blog a year ago. I sent out the call to arms to all my Whatever mom friends. They eagerly jumped on board!

SAHM

DSC_4900

tatoo

As the project unfolded, I realized I know most of the moms pictured here personally. We all met through a Hudson Valley Moms’ Facebook group. We’ve celebrated birthdays together, brought each other meals, and have encouraged and supported each other through the trials of motherhood. There we were standing next to each other smiling and holding signs reflecting our “opposing” mom choices. This just goes to show that even though we make different choices for our families, we can still be friends and even respect each other’s personal choices. Without the different opinions and choices presented by other moms in my circle I wouldn’t know I have options in my parenting.

CSC_4937

Twin moms

Hudson moms

Crunchy mom

I admit I am still a little confused as to why we even have a war going on. My mom world does not come to a screeching halt when a mom decides to feed her kid formula or non-organic potatoes or even McDonald’s for dinner. I don’t even feel a slight shift in the wind when a mom uses 409 to clean her floors. And, I’m quite sure that if a mom falls at the playground and no one is around to hear her she still swears like a trucker (oh wait, that’s probably just me).

Tech rox edit

Formula fed

birth edit

Gay edit

Food edit

Most people hear Mommy wars and picture this:

Mom life edit

I hear Mommy wars and picture this:

Glasco3

I am convinced that not once has a Harvard grad mentioned in their acceptance speech their gratitude for their mother keeping a meticulous house; making perfect dinners and throwing over the top birthday parties; nor cited those exact reasons for all their success. I am also convinced that if at the end of the day you have kept your kid safe and alive, you’ve pretty much done your job. We all bear the same burden of motherhood. By burden I mean the labels (fun mom, mean mom, Pintrest mom) and the judgments (spoils her child, doesn’t discipline, too strict). No matter what our style of mothering is, we have all run the same course: stomach bugs, sleepless nights and feelings of self-doubt. All of these quintessential mom moments level the battlefield on which we fight our “Mommy war.”  None of us is free from flaws, and certainly none of us makes perfect decisions. We all have the same end goal- to raise healthy, happy and productive humans. Does it really matter what path we follow to get them there?

So here’s your call to arms Whatever Moms: do whatever it takes to let go of your fears and worries that you are not enough. Take up the charge to own your mom choices. Decide right now to be confident in your decisions because any decision we make in the best interest of our children is the best decision we can make for them. The question isn’t “which side are you on?” The question is, “can we all stand together?”

 

 

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO: Danielle Sidarous for lending your excellent photography skills. Your time and talent is very much appreciated! All the moms who participated in creating this montage. Thank you for your commitment to helping me complete this project! And my husband, Keith for racing home to help twin wrangle while I got to do something besides wipe butts all day!

Important note: republication of these photos is expressly prohibited without consent from Danielle Sidarous. 

What To Do on This Rainy July 4th

Greetings on this rainy 4th of July! If your day is starting out like ours, you may need some ideas on how to spend this rainy day inside with your little ones. Below is a recap of some fun things to do while stuck inside.

 

Today is the perfect opportunity to check off some of those summer bucket list items! If you haven’t made your summer bucket list yet there’s still plenty of time! Or you can just use this 2014 Summer Bucket List printable.

Check list

 

 

Arrrr ya ready for an indoor Pirate adventure? Take some time to make a map then hide treasures around the house and find them using your map.

Final maps
Final maps

 

Did you miss my post on making pinwheels? This is a quick, fun activity to do with the kids. Use whatever paper you have on hand!

Final product
Final product

 

How about simply bringing out the paints and paper and let the kids run wild? Here are some easy, fun July 4th craft ideas.

Step 1

 

And, if you can’t get out to see the fireworks, why not paint them? Here’s a fun craft from our friend Pam at Creating Barefoot.

fireworks

 

 

So you just blew through all the crafts in less than an hour, now what? Who says you have to stay inside ALL day? Why not let your kids run outside to play in the rain? Every kid loves dancing n the rain! They are only little once! Maybe it will inspire you to host your own Mess Fest later this summer?

The perfect day for puddle jumping!
The perfect day for puddle jumping!

 

However you choose to spend your day I hope it is relaxing, safe and enjoyable. Happy July 4th everyone!

Make Paper Pinwheels for your next Summer Party

Final product
Final product

It was such a gorgeous day today, the girls and I spent most of it outside. We played with the water table, ran around flying kites, kicked a ball and even enjoyed our lunch outside. Then someone said, “Let’s make a craft.” I didn’t feel like making a huge mess with paint and no one was biting the line for crayons and coloring books. Quickly, I remembered I have this fun book I picked up from a retired teacher selling her 20 year collection of classroom books! I scored 2 big boxes of pristine kids books for $8.00!

There were a few different crafting books in the collection and I nearly forgot about this one. But, my girls pulled it out recently and asked to make a craft. I guess I couldn’t put it off any longer.

 

Original print date 1979
Original print date 1978

I love that it felt like I was opening a time capsule from the 1970’s when I opened this “How-to” book!

 

Easy to follow pictures in a book is easier for little ones to see and read.
Easy to follow pictures in a book is easier for little ones to see and read.

You can certainly find instructions on how to make pinwheels on Pintrest. But I love that the instructions are in pictures and simply laid out in this book. It is a much easier way for little ones to follow without the annoyance of scrolling and dropping WiFi signals. Plus, there’s a lot less pressure for perfection. (For me).

Here are the materials you need:

Materials for pinwheels
Materials for pinwheels
  • Scrap book paper (double sided has a great effect).
  • Scissors
  • Wooden dowels (I used wooden skewers).
  • A pencil
  • Thumb tacks
  • A ruler
  • A 1-2 inch circle to trace

 

Snag your kids toys for projects
Snag your kids toys for projects

STEP 1: Measure an 8×8 square on paper. (I cheated and traced the instruction book to create my square page).

STEP 2: Cut out square.

STEP 3: Fold your square corner to corner and crease. Unfold and refold to opposite corners and crease.

STEP 4: Draw a circle in the center point. (I found this easier to do after I made the creases).

STEP 5: Cut along the fold lines and stop at the circle.

STEP 6: Lift every other corner of each triangle and pull to the center circle.

STEP 7: Push a thumb tack through the center of paper and then through the wooden dowel (or skewer).

Ta-da!
Ta-da!

The pinwheels really turned out better than I expected (since I didn’t use any actual tools to measure).

We did this just for fun, but it would make a brilliant party decoration! I inserted the stems of the finished pinwheels into colorful drinking mason jars. I removed the straws and pushed in the skewers. The points on the skewers makes it easy to poke into potted plants around a deck, or push into the ground to line a walk way. You can even fill up buckets with fun treats with a pinwheel poking out. Or just make it a fun way to pass the time on a sunny day!

 

What’s your on-the-fly/go-to craft? Feel free to share pictures or comments below!

 

Disclaimer: Clearly in 1978 kids were allowed to play with thumb tacks. Most likely while sliding down a hot aluminum slide over top of loose gravel. If you make this craft, please be sure you take precautions for little ones who still like to explore by putting things in their mouth.

 

Family Savings Jars – Dimes for Disney

Most of my crafty ideas start with me rummaging through the house to find whatever items I already have on hand.  I found these awesome mason jars (which held our store bought pasta sauce) and knew I needed to use them for something! Disney jars it is! I think my girls are still a little too young to appreciate the magic of Disney World. I really want them to experience it while they are young enough to believe in magic, but old enough to remember taking it all in. So the goal is to save up our dimes and celebrate their 5th birthday in Disney!

Here’s how I made the jars:

I chose glass jars so we can watch the money add up each week! They’re also small enough to carry to the bank when we are ready to deposit. (No thanks water cooler jug). Removing the labels is easy; just soak for 10 min. in hot soapy water.

Materials I found
Materials I rummaged

I found this great site that allows me to print Mickey ears with my kids’ initials in the Disney font. I cut and paste into a Word document and re-sized them to what I need.

Print on card stock, cut and apply
Print on card stock, cut and apply

It would have been awesome if I had thought to print on card stock (and checked my ink levels). Since I did not, I used them as templates to make these:

If you did not print on card stock use printed ears as template on actual card stock
If you did not print on card stock use printed ears as template for actual card stock

I found some pink polka dot ribbon to match the pink letters. I simply taped one edge to the glass and wrapped the ribbon tightly around the jar and used a glue gun to secure it. (Glue guns scare the heck out of me so I only use very sparingly).

Fold one end of ribbon over to create a clean fold before securing to other end of ribbon
Fold one end of ribbon over to create a clean fold before securing to other end of ribbon

I painted the lids to the jars last. I didn’t have any spray paint on hand, but I did have a pint of latex paint from a project I never completed. So, I just brushed some of that on. In hindsight spray paint might have been quicker, and I totally regret not using glitter.

Use spray paint for quicker application and clean up
Use spray paint for quicker application and clean up
Presto change-o!
Presto change-o!

Now how will we fill these wonderful Disney jars? With the blood, sweat and tears of toddlers of course! How else do toddlers earn a little extra pocket money? Yep! Chores! I am putting my 3 1/2 year-olds to work and using a Disney chore chart! I feel your concern regarding child labor laws, but let me assure you we keep the toddler chores pretty simple around here. The girls chore list includes picking up their own shoes, toys and dishes; which they do already. Only now we reward them with stickers and pennies. This is a great way to introduce the concept of rewards and consequences. Mwahahaha!

Finished jars
Finished jars

Maybe you’re not saving for Disney, but it might be fun to start a family fun jar to pay for a pizza night, movie tickets, or entrance to a water park. Whatever your goal is get the kids excited. Help them decorate a jar and decide on ways they can earn money to deposit. Drop in coins when you can, or let them deposit their allowance. It’s whatever you make of it!

 

 

Introducing Phase 2

We interrupt this regularly scheduled crafty blog to focus a moment on Phase 2 of my frumpy to fabulous plan. Remember my post about how to spring clean your look? Well that was Phase 1 of my plan. I decided to add Phase 2, Healthy Eating and Exercise, after my daughter caught me getting out of the shower. Her exact words were, “Mama, you’re floppy!” (She used to be my favorite).

Before kids, getting out of the house was so much easier. I could be out the door in 15 minutes or less. Now it takes an hour. The breakdown of that hour looks like this: 20 minutes discussing pants (actual topic); 10 minutes spinning in circles before putting on socks; 10 minutes answering questions about socks; 5 minutes wrestling shoes onto toddlers; 10 minutes countering complaints about having to leave the house; 3 minutes 30 seconds just to cross over the threshold to the outside world; and 1 minute 30 seconds to count every single flower on the way to the car.

All that spinning and wrestling might sound like a work out, but it sadly isn’t helping any with the aforementioned floppiness. As a mom with twins glued to my hip I don’t get much time to myself. I don’t have babysitters or money for the gym

But, with recent news of my floppiness, I went in search of what could possibly work for a mom in my situation. I found an at-home solution through Great Expectings.  Christine McCracken, owner of Great Expectings, is also a nurse, a mom and fitness enthusiast. She has made it her goal to help women (and moms like me) with limited time and access to a gym get fit. (Is that a choir of angels I hear?)

We spoke over the phone for an initial consultation. I shared all my injuries and postpartum issues and she went right to work creating work outs I can do at home. Each week she emails me a daily workout schedule to complete. Each day I log my food and exercise choices at myfitnesspal (she can see what I eat- ack!). I have access to her every day via email, text or phone. It feels like having an exercise buddy cheering me on and it motivates me to stay accountable.

On the healthy eating front I have my groceries delivered each week. This saves me from the candy aisle and impulse buying (yes, I meant to buy a Kit-Kat, 2 bouncy balls and a new hammock). I try to incorporate Christine’s tips for healthy eating into my meal plan. Like drinking water and including extra veggies at each meal. Outsourcing my workout planning and having my food delivered, I’m feeling pretty fabulous already!

Readers, I think you know by now The Whatever Mom Credo is to simplify and to do “whatever it takes to get through the day.” Well, that includes fitting in exercise and time to take care of our health. This is one area it is not safe to say, “Whatever.” You don’t have to join a gym, or do what I do. Just find what works for you!

 

Recipe Round Up!

Some of you have requested recipes for my sneaky sweet treats. You can Download your FREE copies using the links below.

All recipes have been toddler tested and hubby approved! Hope you enjoy!

 

avocado pudding Chocolate Avocado Pudding

My kids LOVE this recipe! I won’t name names, but one very picky eater won’t even touch an avocado. But, you mix it with dark chocolate cocoa powder and a some honey she’s all over it! We may have also enjoyed this as a lunch option once or twice.

 

Cookie snack Peanut Butter Chickpea Cookies

This twist on a traditional chocolate chip cookie goes completely undetected! The only difference is the texture. It doesn’t get crispy like a thin cookie, but remains doughy (will firm up once cool).

 

 

Banana ice cream Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches

This is a great dairy alternative for those with sensitivities! It takes a little longer with freeze time. My kids thought it was a fun “experiment.” Hey, whatever gets them to eat it! You can skip the crackers and eat the banana ice cream straight from the bowl! The flavor combinations are endless. Add in peanut butter, frozen berries, chocolate. Get creative!

 

 

Hummus Sweet potato hummus

Picky eater says what? This homemade hummus made with chickpeas and sweet potatoes has a slight sweetness. It pairs well with apples, carrots, purple grapes and the toddler staple: Goldfish crackers. As a bonus, I used this hummus in place of oil in a boxed brownie mix. It made cake like, dense brownies. I am pretending the extra protein balanced out all the sugar in the mix.

 

2014 5 23 038

 

Please share any favorite ‘hidden’ recipes!

Backyard Pirate Adventure

I had been trapped for hours in the back yard. Forced to swashbuckle against my will. Someone put a twig in my hand and made me sword fight before I was told to walk the plank. This is not a bad dream. This is my children’s obsession with all things Pirate. Yes, friends my girls love pirates. The bad boys of the high seas. So, when a friend of mine hand delivered an invitation to her son’s pirate themed birthday party, I had no choice. I had to make them their own treasure maps. Mostly because I had two kids fighting over one treasure map. (Thanks G!)

Start by brewing some tea. Not to relax with, but to paint with! Be sure to allow the tea to steep long enough to make a dark brown color. The tea stains make the paper look like aged parchment paper.

Brew regular or decaf tea
Brew regular or decaf tea

Pour a small amount into a bowl, or cup.

Pour small amount into bowl. Small amount = smaller spill.
Small amount = smaller spill.

Use whatever paper you have on hand. (We used regular drawing paper pulled from the tablet). Next, give your kid their favorite paint brush and let the painting begin. Or, you can place smaller pieces of paper on a tray with edges (baking sheet works too) and let them pour the tea over them. Hang it up to dry.

The color on our paper came out lighter than I wanted. After it dried I poured more tea over it and allowed to dry. This made a wonderful layered color effect.

Use paint brush to apply tea to paper

Use paint brush to apply tea to paper

Since the pages were too wet to draw our maps on we left them in the sun to dry while we searched for treasure. The girls sorted their glass gems and gathered their “booty” from their dress up jewelry collection.

Panning for golden treasure
Panning for golden treasure

Once the pages were dry I tore them in half to give the edges a more weathered look. This also gave each kid two maps of their very own.  I used our markers to add colorful nautical art to each map. In true pirate fashion, the girls dictated what they wanted me to draw on their maps.

Final maps
Our maps next to the inspiration map

After everything had completely dried we took the maps outside to walk a treasure trail in our yard.We took turns hiding and finding our treasures. Of course I had to walk the plank AGAIN. It’s not my fault I’m an awesome treasure hunter! Best part of the project is it didn’t cost me a single doubloon.

 

What ‘argh’ ya planning for your back yard adventures? ‘Shiver me timbers’ I need to get out more!

 

How I Became Friends With the TV

“I’m saving up to be a stay at home mom because I want to be around to limit screen time and make sure my kids are eating only healthy food,” said the young single girl I was chatting with. I thought to myself, “Oh sweetie, let me tell you how I became friends with the TV.”

Don’t get me wrong I don’t think TV is evil, and I don’t judge moms who eliminate it or put limits on it. What happens in your household is your business. As a first time mom I really had this fantasy that my children would be capable of entertaining themselves at some point, and before that we’d have beautiful days filled with learning opportunities. We would follow a routine with structure and make arts and crafts, take nature walks and have sensory activities. What I did not picture in this fantasy was the complete physical, emotional and mental exhaustion I’d feel nearly every single day. I did not factor in my children would have their own minds and express their desires so deeply and passionately (by passionate I mean full blown tantrum). Never had I ever imagined a typical day would include being taken down by a toddler tag team. One distracts me with a poopy diaper while the other climbs to the top of my head, and in a choke hold pulls me to the ground. Then it all turns Wild Kingdom. Two raving chimps begin ceaselessly jumping on me (one without pants because she was just getting a change) and they screech with laughter. Oh, also I did not account for having twins. Whoops!

As soon as my kids could walk and run in opposite directions it has been a struggle to find peace and to finish tasks. By the time the terrible two’s settled in I gave up trying to keep the TV off. My kids were up by 6:30 and finally asleep by 9:00-ish. Did I mention they gave up naps? Those two and a half glorious hours I had to myself each day. The only hours where I could finish the dishes, laundry, eat my own lunch and enjoy a solo phone conversation. Gone.

It was around this time I had my first anxiety attack ever and landed in the ER. It took a brilliant neurologist to tell me there’s nothing wrong with you. “You just need a Xanax and a good therapist.” At first I thought she MUST be getting a kick back from big Pharma! What she continued to say was, “you are trying to do too much all alone. Gone is the day we raised our kids in a village. If you want to be healthy learn to manage your stress better.” So began my journey of learning to let things go.

The first thing I let go of? Mom guilt. Then I grabbed the remote. My girls watch very limited programing in small doses. We started with Blue’s Clues then branched out to Dora the Explorer and it was just downhill from there. If I want to finish cleaning up from lunch and start dinner they watch TV. If I need to just take a mental health day (yes even SAHM’s need those!) I turn to Disney Jr. Some days I can feel my brain shaking trying to make room for any singular thought amongst the loud screeching and whining of my children. That’s when I turn on Little Einsteins.

My reality is I am outnumbered. I have limited day care options. There are two human beings suction cupped to my body 90% of the day. It’s stressful. It’s difficult to get through when I don’t have time to decompress from that stress.  How do most adults decompress at the end of the day? In front of the TV with their spouse!   So, how do my girls and I decompress during the day? Sheriff Cali.

Let’s just take a collective sigh here. Give ourselves a break from the mommy guilt and understand that even Harvard graduates probably watched hours upon hours of TV before their 1st birthday. So, my dear young, single friend, when you’re ready to take a break I’ll be happy to bring you a hot fresh coffee and the TV Guide. Then I’ll share with you the magic of bribing your kids with Goldfish crackers and juice boxes.

Make a Summer Bucket List!

Dare I say the winter that would never die has finally passed and we can FINALLY, FINALLY (no for real this time) enjoy some summer time activities? Woo hoo!

For us, summer begins a flurry of travel plans, exciting adventures and new places to see.  I feel like our social calendar fills up so quickly it’s easy to lose track of the simple things summertime offers. My girls are 3 ½ this summer which means they can enjoy a greater variety of activities this year. This age is when those warm memories start to really take hold. I want to share the lazy parts of summer with my kids as well as the excitement of big adventures.

This year we are making a Summer Bucket List!

 

Get as fancy as you want when making your list
Get as fancy as you want when making your list

Making a summer bucket list is a fun way to add new adventures, make memories and keep traditions alive. We made our list by first checking out local sites we keep meaning to try. We added a few new hiking places, some old hiking places and parks/museums that offer free admission days.  I layered in a few summer staples I want to be a memorable part of my girls’ childhood- like making s’mores, snuggling by a camp fire, eating ice cream for dinner and watching fireworks. I didn’t forget about those rainy days that catch us by surprise. I sprinkled in a few rainy day activities to keep us busy and to make some memories with; like dancing in the rain, a puppet show, making a fort and a Disney movie marathon.  I am excited to wake up each day and choose our own adventure!

 

Display list in a frame and use dry erase marker to check off items
Display list in a frame and use dry erase marker to check off items

Here are some tips for making your own Summer Bucket List:

Keep it simple. If you put too many big adventures on your list that require a lot of planning, travel time and money it may feel more depleting than memorable.

Check your local resources. Are there free hiking trails, picnic areas, beach areas you can use? Many libraries have free museum passes to loan, and they offer free programs throughout the summer.

Set an intention for the season. Are you looking for more family time? Are you looking to slow down and enjoy the simple life? Do you want to start a family project, or get more involved in your community? Maybe take a “staycation” and explore what your local area has to offer.

Consider what stage your kids are in.  For the under 2 crowd maybe a simple list of things to accomplish with them. Like learn to blow a bubble, see grandma for the first time, or try a new park. If your little one is more mobile and ready for some action you can try group activities like a new story hour, make a new friend at play group, or try swimming in a pool.  Don’t forget about all the free sample classes at your local Little Gym/Gymboree, Music Together and other “mommy and me” type classes.

The fun part is getting the whole family involved! This way everyone has something to look forward to. Display your bucket list where everyone can see it and take turns checking off completed items.

 

Display your list or make an interactive list by using cards you pull out of a bucket
Display your list or make an interactive list by using cards you pull out of a bucket

 

The completed list becomes a great keepsake for any scrap book. Hey make that one of your bucket list items- scrap booking your summer! Enjoy!

Get your FREE printable bucket list 2014 Summer Bucket List 2!

 

Spring Clean Your Look

Anyone else hear about this new fad called “spring cleaning?” It’s where you clean stuff simply because the season has changed?  It’s all the rage in my house right now. We are pulling apart closets and cleaning in corners we didn’t even know we had. It all started because I was tired of my ugly wardrobe. I don’t know about you but I am kind of over selecting outfits based on their ability to camouflage snot stains and glitter.

Before kids if something didn’t fit I would just go buy something new. I didn’t worry about labels like, “machine washable,” or “dry clean only.”  I had plenty of stylish clothing to wear to work, out with friends and while lounging at home. Now, I can barely tell those outfits apart. So, I decided to spring clean my wardrobe.

I started by thinning out the clothes I could no longer wear based on size, location of stains and tatters. This left me with a sparse amount to work with, but I’m a creative mom! I can make toddlers believe terrible things will happen if they don’t eat their peas!

Next, I coordinated a few outfits to have at the ready for moments beyond the standard issue mom uniform (t-shirt, jeans and sneakers).  I waste so much time over thinking and rethinking an outfit before leaving the house. Having outfits I can just grab and go saves me from all that!

 

My sparse, but clean ensembles
My sparse, but clean ensembles

I layered accessories right on the hanger so I have a complete outfit.

Hang coordinated belts, scarves and necklaces with outfit
Hang coordinated belts, scarves and necklaces with outfit

When I finished, I realized my makeup bag could use a little rehab. I have some “vintage” pieces in there it was time to let go of.  I don’t have a lot of time for make-up, but there are days I want a casual look. My new dash out the door (can’t tell I didn’t sleep a wink) look consists of a tinted moisturizer with an SPF, cream eye shadow I smear on with my finger, mascara and lip balm. Kiss My Face Lip TreatMint is  the only lip balm I wear ever ! Feels great and the SPF covers me for play dates at the park!

Streamlined make up routine
Streamlined make up routine

After I cleaned everything up I realized my nails looked shabby too. It seems the mani/pedi is the first thing to get the boot when moms go on a budget. A friend of mine shared her secret for a one minute manicure- press on nails. I know sounds really tacky (no pun intended). But, not only did my husband think I spent big bucks on a manicure, I also got a lot of compliments from friends and strangers. These are great for date night, mom’s night, grocery shopping, or whatever. I don’t have to find time to get out to the salon. No dry time! No smudging!

Instant manicure- no baby sitter required!
Instant manicure- no baby sitter required!

Three and a half years into the mom gig and I realize how easy it is to get sucked into a wardrobe rut. It’s sad how little I’ve invested in my appearance due to time and feeling overwhelmed. Now I have a simple, clean wardrobe to select from and I gain a few extra minutes in my day with a simplified routine.

What does your mom routine look like? What are some tips for keeping your wardrobe current?

 

 

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