The Toughest Age Yet

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Being a mom is the hardest job you will ever have. Rewarding, yes. Easy? Oh hell no. I’ve heard that once you have two kids, any number after that doesn’t matter. Two is the hardest it is going to get. I don’t know if Dean and I will be ones to test that theory because two is so freakin hard. And then you go through a period that we boldly thought the kids were getting easier. HA! I know, I know, I can hear you all laughing at how naive we were.

And just when you think that life with two kids is getting a little easier, one of them turns four, and you the ground rolls out from under your feet all over again. FOUR. Four is the toughest age yet, at least in my opinion. I imagine there studies out there saying how teacher’s kids are worse behaved than most kids but I’m afraid to look. That’s got to be it, right?

Chloe has reached a whole new level way beyond threenager. Not only has the three year old sassiness stuck around guns blazing but the two year old tantrums have come back with a vengeance. The letters B-R-A-T come to mind. We have also learned that biting, hitting, and pinching are effective ways to resolve an argument. Telling your mom 20 times each day that she “is mean” is the way to get what you want. Screaming in stores and restaurants. Four has been awful. What happened to my sweet little girl?

Now don’t get me wrong, there are days that I just adore spending time with her. She can carry on a conversation and tell stories for hours. She likes to shop. She likes to go out to eat. She is turning into a little person and that is so much fun to watch. But on bad days, look out. There is no reasoning with her. She is so strong willed. And the worst part is, you just don’t know what might set her off. I understand tantrums with Ryan. Although equally frustrating, he’s TWO. It’s expected at two. It was not expected at four.

Four has given me a run for my money.

I know it will get easier. And I’ll miss these days someday. But right now, please send wine.

XO,

Sara

Activities To Do With Your Kids This Holiday Season

Let me preface this by saying – I love my kids more than anything in the world. They are my reason for being. My sun in the sky. Spending time with them gives me more joy than anything in the world.

Buuuttt…

I am kind of dreading the 10 straight days I will be spending with my kids this holiday season. Does anyone else feel this way? No, I am the only horrible mother? I mean, being a mom is really, really hard. It’s not bad in the summer because we can spend the day outside at the park or pool, but in the winter…I mean, what in the world am I going to do to keep them busy for ten days??? And yes, #momlifeisthebestlife 😉 but it is still really, really hard.

I am also a huge germaphobe, and I can’t do crowded indoor places. I can literally see the germs just flying around everywhere. Gross, right? Yes, I am nuts. 😉 But that rules out indoor play places for me.

So I’ve come up with a few activities to do with your kids to help you keep your sanity.

  1. Go to the zoo. Yes, that’s right, go to the zoo in the winter. And I’m not talking Zoo Lights either. Go during the day, in the middle of the week when it is cold and snowing. NO one else will be there! It’s amazing. It’s probably the only time you won’t find the zoo crowded. You can use the animal houses to warm up. So grab some hot chocolate and enjoy the zoo all to your self. 🙂
  2. Have a staycation. We booked a night for the Wednesday after Christmas at a hotel about five minutes from our house that has suites and an indoor pool. We are going to swim, eat, watch movies. Hopefully, the kids will have fun. If nothing else, it will be a change of pace.
  3. Find some Christmas lights. My kids, especially my little guy, are obsessed with Christmas lights. So drive around, find some towns that go all out, bring some treats, take some pictures.
  4. Crafts. We love Hobby Lobby up in ‘her. Maybe it’s because I am a Kindergarten teacher? Well Hobby Lobby is a great place to grab holiday crafts on the cheap. This year we’ve made a Christmas tree Advent Calendar, a tree skirt, a manger, a styrofoam snowman, and a few random other odds and ends.
  5. Bake cookies to decorate. My kids don’t particularly like the “baking” part of cooking but they do love the decorating. So pull out a tube of sugar cookie dough, grab some frosting and sprinkles, and let the kids go a little crazy.
  6. Take a train ride. Just for kicks. You don’t even have to go anywhere special. Just ride it! Or get off at a nearby town and grab some food.
  7. Your local library. They have tons of activities but I caution you: there will be germs.
  8. Indoor play zones. See above: GERMS. But you’re probably not nuts like me so go for it. We like SkyZone, Gymnastics places (usually will have open gym time), The Ball Factory, and Westmont Yard.
  9. Go get cookies at a bakery. Or Donuts. Or Cupcakes. There is a place by us that serves Baby Donuts, and we love to go there for a snack. Go at an off time to avoid the crowds.
  10. Run around the mall. Ride elevators. Find some candy stores. Get some hot chocolate. Build a Bear.

What will you be doing to keep your kids busy this holiday season?

Photo by Melissa Zimmer Photography

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10 Ways to Make Mom Life Easier

For almost four years, I have been a mom. More than that really, since my whole life and priorities shifted as soon as Chloe started cooking in my belly. I would like to think that by now, I’d have it all figured out. But I don’t. And I am by no means an expert.

BUT here are some things that I do that I THINK have made my life a tiny bit easier.

  1. Pick out clothes the night before. For as long as I can remember, I have laid out my clothes for the next day the night before even if I have no where to be. Picking out my daughters clothes the night before has saved us so much time and arguing in the morning. My son is easy because he will wear whatever I put on him but I still pick his clothes out before I put him to bed. Then I am not searching for anything in the morning. Sometimes, I’ll even lay out my husbands clothes for him. 🙂
  2. Have a strict morning schedule. My husband needs to be at work early. He works for a freight brokerage company and things get started at the crack of dawn. So I am solo most mornings with the kids. Keeping a strict morning schedule ensures that we are out of the house by 7:15.
    • I wake around 5:50 am (5:00 if I am working out), shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and pack up the car.
    • At 6:45, I wake my daughter. She gets dressed, we brush her teeth, comb hair, and go potty. I make her a quick breakfast, and she eats while I get Ryan up.
    • At 7:00, I wake up Ryan, get him dressed, and give him something he can eat in the car – apple, banana, or yogurt pouch.
    • At 7:15 it’s shoes and coats.
    • At 7:20, we are in the car on the way to daycare.
  3. Ask your family for help. We all need our sanity. Enlisting family to help out on occasion can give you so much relief. Most likely, they will be happy to spend time with your children. They also probably won’t charge you anything to watch them. We are lucky enough to live 5 minutes from my parents, and the kid’s daycare is three blocks from my parent’s house. While I still always feel guilty, my mom will help out and pick the kids up from daycare some days so I can work out, see friends, etc. She’ll also drop by and bring dinner if I’m solo parenting, or if she found something at Costco that I “must have”. Funny how you need your mom more the older you get. (Love you, Mom!)
  4. Daycare vs. Nanny. We went back and forth – Daycare or Nanny? Daycare or Nanny? In the end, we chose Daycare for many reasons. My main reason was safety. I like knowing that if, God forbid, something horrible happened like someone chokes or gets injured, there is an entire team of people who would know what to do. But I also love that daycare is always open. I can send the kids to school even if I have a day off work. Maybe I won’t send them the entire time (well maybe I do) but enough that I can workout, run errands, be in the house all by MYSELF. It’s a nice perk. Have you ever tried to get stuff done while a babysitter is there? It does not work!
  5. Find an 18 year old to babysit. It took a while for me to feel comfortable with someone besides family watching my children. One night, I gave in and decided to try the 18 year old who lives across the street. It was a game changer! She is so willing and eager to babysit. The amount of date nights we have had recently has increased by 200%.
  6. Have a laundry schedule. This sounds so silly but trust me, it helps. Whites get washed on Friday, kids clothes and towels get washed on Saturday, darks and sheets get washed on Sunday. In the summer, I may throw in an additional load of the kids stuff during the week because they go through so much but we can usually get by with just once a week.
  7. Make lunches the night before. For some reason, having to make a lunch for work/school is my most dreaded task. I would love a job where I could actually leave and go out to eat. But alas, sadly, I do not. Packing lunches the night before saves me precious time in the morning.
  8. Exercise. Find time to do this! It does not have to be everyday. Even just a few times each week will help you to feel less stressed, and ready to tackle those mommy duties.
  9. Plan your meals for the week. I know, annoying. I don’t make anything fancy though. I’ll pick up things like chicken, ground beef, flank steak, and fresh pasta, and then worry about what exactly I’m making later. I always make sure to have taco seasoning around and Roa’s Marinara. I’ll also just pick up tons of fruits and veggies that we can mix and match with each meal, and some type of starch. We love the Seeds of Change rice, and I’ll always stock up on that. I keep it simple. It’s impossible to cook anything with kids running around anyway.
  10. Hire a cleaning lady. If you have the means, this is the best money I spend all year. If I’m putting myself on a budget, I will gladly forgo a new pair of jeans to keep the cleaning lady coming. Ours comes every other week, and deep cleans our home with organic products. Yes, I still need to wipe counters and vacuum occasionally but she does all the deep cleaning that I do not have time for. She does a better job cleaning than I could ever do!

What do you do to make mom life a little easier? I’d love to hear!

 

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Nobody Said Having Kids Would Be Easy

It’s 4:00 pm on a rainy Saturday, the “witching hour”, as us moms have come to know and dread. You have been up since 6:00 am. You have played with every toy in the house and then some, you have painted, you’ve made obstacle courses, you’ve built a fort, watched tv, eaten all the snacks, and there is still four more hours until the blissful freedom of bedtime.

The kids are now fighting. They have had enough sharing for one day. Your son performs one of his signature wrestling moves on your daughter. She bites him. Crying ensues. You are arguing with your husband about anything and everything from why the kids can’t behave to what to eat for dinner. Your house is in a complete state of chaos. Toys cover every square inch of your home.

You struggle through preparing dinner while your kids hang all over you, pull at your clothes, whine, and rub boogers on your jeans. You somehow manage to get dinner on the table only to watch your son throw all of his ketchup covered food on the floor.

It is now 8:00 pm. You survived the bedtime routine. The kids are finally asleep! Kudos to you. Dishes and laundry can now commence. By the time the house is cleaned up and the chores are done, you are too tired to even start a movie. You sip a glass of wine and attempt to watch Netflix without making lists in your head while your husband snores on the couch next to you.

Nobody ever said having two kids would be easy. It still boggles my mind how one kid feels like one kid, while two kids feels like 10 kids. I follow so many moms on Instagram and wonder what I am doing wrong. How are they making it look so easy while I can barely find the time to brush my teeth? I can count on one hand the number of times I have actually blowdried and curled my hair since my daughter was born in 2014. I don’t paint my nails anymore, I paint a three year olds instead. The only time I am ever able to get showered and dressed is if I wake before my children which means getting up between 5:00 and 6:00 am.

Evenings are even harder. There’s wrangling two kids into the bathtub, and then trying to keep them there long enough to wash them but not so long enough that they start trying to drown one another. There is crying and yelling, ultimatums, and empty threats. At the end of it all, the battlefield that is bedtime leaves you battered and scarred, and you have no energy left for anything but internet surfing and Facebook stalking.

But no matter how tough it gets, and man will it get tough, I wouldn’t change a second of it. Because for every tough second, there are 1000 sticky kisses and “Momma up’s” and sweaty hugs that make it all worth it. And boy, is it worth it.

That’s the funny thing about motherhood.

Read a previous post about motherhood truths, here.

What To Wear For Fall Family Photos

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On Ryan: top / denim / New Balance

On Chloe: dress (runs BIG) / shoes

On Sara: sweater / skirt / booties

On Dean: shirt / denim / shoes

 

I am not a big fan of posed photos, and neither are my children, so I was really happy that Melissa Zimmer Photography captured the essence of my wild and crazy family so perfectly.

We pumped the kids full of snacks for our 6pm photo shoot. I was a little worried about the timing since we normally eat dinner around 5:45, and my Type A self hates to break routine, but I was willing to make the sacrifice for the beautiful light I knew we would get.

I am not a fan of posed photos so we let the kids run around for the majority of the time, bribing them to smile with pizza afterwards.

I chose outfits based on what my very opinionated threenager picked out to wear. You should have seen her trying on dress after dress, twirling in the mirror, in the fitting rooms at Gap. I didn’t want us to be matchy-matchy but since Chloe chose a bright pink dress, I tried to pick more muted/neutral colors for the rest of us. My outfit was a last minute choice since the top I had originally picked to wear ended up being pretty see through in the afternoon light. Dean’s shirt is old but it complemented Ryan’s well. Ryan’s Hudsons are old, and run huge (they are 12mo) that his skinny self finally fits into them.

Our photos ended up being quick and painless. I recommended keeping any family shoots to 30 minutes or less. My kids were done after about 20 minutes.

I hope you enjoy some of my favorites as much as I do!

XO,

Sara

photos by Melissa Zimmer Photography

Potty Training Tips

My daughter never ceases to amaze me. When Chloe turned 31 months old, she decided to potty train herself. Literally, She turned to us one day and said, “I don’t want to wear my diaper today.” (cue eye rolling from me) Well that was that. We now have a closet full of Size 4 princess Pull-Ups that Ryan will indeed be wearing someday.

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Honestly, Dean and I did next to nothing. Sure we had the potty chair out, and we occasionally asked her if she’d like to use it, but other than that, it was all her. So while I am the one writing this post, it should actually be Chloe who is writing it.

First of all, while yes it is gross, I recommend a potty chair that sits right on the ground. The only way your kid is going to start using the “potty” (potty is in quotes because I now find myself saying, “I have to go potty” all the time, and my husband makes fun of me.) regularly is if they can reach it on their own, especially in the beginning. I started keeping dish soap under the sink in her bathroom for a quick clean up of the potty seat.

I chose Chloe’s potty seat because it is purple. Chloe loves purple. Chloe hates ELMO. Choose a potty seat that your child will love.

Second, STICKER CHARTS. I am a firm believer in sticker charts. That comes from being both a mom, and a kindergarten teacher. Kids. Love. Stickers. Even the boys. You’d be surprised how many little boys I know who love pink scented stickers.

Chloe got a sticker every time she used the potty. In the beginning, you can start by offering stickers for sitting on the potty, pulling up pants, washing hands, etc. The more you offer them, the more successful you will be! Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the sticker chart because Ryan ate it. But it served it’s purpose.

Third, Pull-Ups and easily removable clothes. Sorry Moms, no more rompers. Poor Chloe always wants to wear her purple romper to daycare but I know she’d never be able to get it off herself when she needs to go the bathroom.

Fourth, make the bathroom a place your child wants to be, and have them try to go frequently! We have toys in there. We would bring in books when Chloe was first learning to sit on her potty chair. Sometimes it takes a little time before they actually understand what they are supposed to do on the potty chair. Books help pass the time, and who doesn’t love books!

Last, and most important, don’t rush it! Honestly, I was in no hurry to get Chloe out of diapers. Now every time we leave the house, I need to know where the closest bathroom is.  She also now wakes up super early some mornings (i.e. 6:00am) because she has to pee, and has trouble going back to sleep. So that’s fun.

When your kid is ready, they will potty train easily! If it’s killing you, take a break and try again in a few weeks. No one child is the same.

Or you could hire Chloe to help. I think she charges by the hour 😉

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