Wednesday, April 9, 2014

If I Had My Own Reality Show...

If my life was a reality show, the first half of every episode would be devoted to getting my children dressed every morning. I swear it is a freaking three-ring circus. You'd think they had never seen pants or shirts before in their lives. I almost always have to give a pep-talk explaining what I am about to do and even then as soon as I head toward the closet, they both start running for the hills.

It goes against their laws of nature to stand still while I pulling their pants up, to not squirm while I'm trying to put their socks on and I quite literally have to chase them down and tackle them to the ground in between every article of clothing. By the time I turn around to grab the shoes, the socks are already off again. I feel like I have to do everything twice. It's exhausting. If I could get this whole ordeal down to under 30 minutes it would be an amazing feat... and that doesn't count the 15 minutes it takes just to get them up the stairs.

If I had a reality show, you would love to watch the obstacle course I face getting these two rascals into my car. It's an act I have yet to master without pulling out a few hairs. I'm sure my neighbors know it must be exactly 9:15 every Tuesday/Thursday when crazy Aliya is screaming at her kid to stay in the house while she straps the other in, to not run into the street, to not run to the park, to not jump in the puddles in their school clothes... etc.. etc.. Ariana, especially, is entering a rebellion phase and at least 2x a week escapes out the front door and sits on the sopping porch step/floor mat while she tries to scoot down the stairs (sometimes without even her shoes on) which leaves her socks and butt soaking wet. Fan-freaking-tastic.

If I had a reality show, next week's teaser clip would show you how I spent a whole two weeks perfecting my almost-three-year-old's "Cheese Face" for picture day. This is what we have so far:

If I had a reality show, you'd be impressed by my ability to open a baby gate with one hand while simultaneously putting a straw in a smoothie, carrying a toddler poised on my hip reaching for said smoothie, and prying a fondue fork out of my other toddler's hand before he looses an eyeball.

If I had a reality show, the "lunch" scenes wouldn't be the kind from the Hills where they all look immaculately dressed, eating perfectly portioned salads at an outdoor cafe on a beautiful sunny day. Not at all. My "lunch" is usually the most cardio I get in a day because bending down to pick up fork after fork, spoon after spoon, and leaping to catch airborne sippy cups surely burns me more calories than 25 minutes of Jillian Michaels. You would then see me jump through hoops like a circus monkey playing all sorts of games, magic tricks and fake crying to get my son to even finish his lunch. And then, you'd see me shoveling whatever scraps are leftover into my mouth over the kitchen sink.

And then you'd see our afternoon walks to the park where I could seemingly be mistaken for Stretch Armstrong as I wrangle both my kids in the park area since they both team up against me to make a break for it one at a time. I'm not kidding when I say that one of the things I most look forward to as a parent is the day I can sit on a park bench and sip my coffee without the fear of my kids running away and/or breaking a leg.

And if I had a reality show, you'd see that my house is usually covered in toys and boxes and laundry. You'd see that I raise my voice far often than I should. You'd see my daily frustrations and struggles with raising two toddlers who, on even the best day, seem like they are both out to get me. You'd see me feel defeated and you'd sometimes see a look on my face that wonders if I am ever doing anything right. And you'd see a family who, despite all of the hardships it is to raise babies, is happy and blessed and ends almost every night with a dance party in the living room.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kyrannasaurus Rex.

I just looked through my blog archives and was blown away by the fact that I have only blogged 12 times so far this year. That averages to 4 times a month, and that is pathetic. The truth is... we just don't have much to blog about lately. There is nothing really going on besides every day life. We are busy, we are consumed, we are living. I have always found the beginning of the year to be the most boring, or low-key months. No major holidays, holed inside by the weather... it was always the longest stretch in school from Winter to Spring Break, and its always the most subdued time of year for us as well. We kind of just hang out, really.

But during these past few months, of doing nothing really but sitting around and staring at each other, I have noticed some distinct changes in both of my children. They are growing up, so fast. Overnight, even. There have been multiple times in the last couple months that I have noticed slight changes in their features, their hair, their mannerisms. Ky's vocabulary and speaking skills are ridiculous. I can have an entire conversation with him about nothing or about everything. He picks up words and phrases like it is his job. He says the funniest things and I really need to be better about writing them all down so we can go back one day and laugh.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that his latest obsession has been dinosaurs. Obsession is putting it lightly, really. It's more like an addiction. The kid cannot get enough and has even roped his little sister into this strange world of dinosaurs that has quickly become the main topic of conversation in our house. Which is funny really because when he was a baby and would start squealing/screeching we would call him "Kyrannasaurus Rex". We have started calling him that again recently. And of course, his favorite dinosaur is the T-Rex, I mean why wouldn't it be. A couple weeks ago I told him to finish his carrots at dinner because it'll make him big and strong "just like a T-Rex." And he promptly replied with, "The T-Rex didn't eat carrots. He ate meat." Umm... ok, I'm caught.

He also loves asking us what our favorite dinosaur is. For the longest time, I just said Stegosaurus because I didn't know many others. Then he started correcting me and telling me my favorite was "Maiasaura". Um, I've never heard of this dinosaur, but sure. For days he would tell me "Mommy, Maiasaura is your favorite dinosaur." Then one night I was cleaning up his dinosaur books and decided to look up the Maiasaura because there had to be a reason he thought it was my favorite. Turns out, one of the main things Maisaura is known for is being a "good mother." Maiasaura fossils have repeatedly been found with eggs and nests and they were the first species ever discovered that proved dinosaurs raised and fed their young. That's why he thought it was my favorite! If that isn't the sweetest thing I'd ever heard.

The kid will also sit forever and watch documentaries on The History Channel or BBC America. Real, actual palentologists talking about dinosaur finds and fossils and activities. I can't believe he's not even 3 and he will sit through an entire 45 minute documentary where there isn't a single cartoon character. Even Ariana pipes up with her mousy voice being like, "T-Rex, Ky! Look! Woooooow!"

So, yea... we are all in the throes of the dinosaur kingdom over here. I am sure you all can guess what their birthday party theme is. And its fascinating how much I have learned about dinosaurs in the last 6 weeks. Similar to how a few months ago when he was obsessed with outer space and all we did was look at planet books and learn about the solar system. Since he's so into it and such a sponge, I basically just let him absorb all the information that he can and wants to. I buy books upon books and toys and activities and crafts based around his obsessions and it probably just fuels him even more, but he loves it.

Do your kids go through phases of obsessions like this? How do you keep them interested, engaged and constantly motivated to learn more aside from the typical day-to-day activities?

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Worst Six Minutes Of My Life

Something awful happened to me this morning. Something terrifying. Something so frightening and scary that I wouldn't wish it on my greatest enemy.

I lost Ariana in the mall. And it was the worst six minutes of my life.

My mom and I had taken the kids to the play area for a little morning romp and to tire them out nice and good before naps. We usually assign each person a kid, but they are getting bigger now and know the play area well enough that we usually just make sure we spot them every 2 - 3 minutes, walking and doing a quick loop if they aren't within our line of vision. There is only one entrance/exit to the play area and I usually sit right by it but it was crowded this morning and all the good spots were taken. So we had to sit around a little bend where you can't really see the exit. I'll never do that again.

our play area

My mom and I faced each other so that we could each see behind one another. We were chatting and the kids were running around and playing right by us. A couple minutes go by and I look up to spot them and see Ky, but can't find Ariana. I assume she's behind something, in a tunnel or on the slide, so just like I had done 8 times earlier that morning, I got up to do a quick loop.

Still can't find her.

Go around the bend to see if she had wandered near the entrance.... and no where to be found there either.

Panic didn't even set in then because I hadn't really done a vigorous comb-through... so twice again, I go around... checking every tunnel, every crevice, every bench, every corner. I walk outside the play area to see if she had taken an interest in climbing up at one of the tables where we sometimes sit to have a snack.


That's when I started to get panicky. I told my mom I couldn't find her and she starts circling the play area again with Ky in tow. I start peeking in all the stores that are directly around the play area: JCPenney, the DMV, Talbots, Regis Hair salon... seeing if anyone spots a little girl in a blue dress.

Still nothing.

My heart rate begins to accelerate and I start to sweat. Once again, I do a further sweep of all the stores, stepping inside now and asking people. I asked a man and his son who we were chatting with earlier if he'd seen her. I asked the sales rep at the closest entrance to JCPenny. We had only been really looking for her now for about three minutes but it felt like hours. I immediately began to see headlines form in my head "22-month old girl goes missing in Fair Oaks Mall... Ariana Rinaldi was playing in Fair Oaks mall today when she disappeared." All these awful thoughts ran through my head. I begin looking at all the people standing around the play area. I start to walk even further in the mall... start to think where she might have gone... The elevator? The Pretzel Cart? I am sweating profusely, my hands are shaking and I turn around back to tell my mom I'm going to go find a security guard.

But then all of a sudden my mom says, "Aliya! There she is!" and points up. Up?!

That staircase you see there in the drawing of the play area? Yea, my little girl climbed it. In the 45 seconds I didn't have my eye on her, she escaped the play area, turned the corner, climbed the staircase and was wandering around the 2nd floor of the mall... without shoes on, mind you. A little old man found her and was holding her hand, bringing her back down the stairs one by one.

She was totally oblivious. Totally unscathed. Not crying or upset even. Giggling and did a little squeal/jump when she saw me as if we had been playing hide-and-seek and she was it.

I thanked the man profusely (I'm sure he thought I was mother of the year). I grabbed my baby girl and hugged her tighter than I'd ever had before. We put the kids shoes on and gathered our things and it wasn't until we were a good 20 yards from the play area when my mom asked if I was ok to which I collapsed on the floor and burst into a heap of tears.

I was still shaking 20 minutes later and I don't think my heart rate will ever go back to normal again. It was, undoubtedly, the most frightening moment of my life. And we won't be visiting the play area for a long, loooong time. At least, not without a leash.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Great {Birthday} Debate

In less than two months, my babies {can I still even call them that?!} turn 2 and 3. This year, we are planning their first {of what I'm sure will be many... poor kids} joint birthday party for family and a few close friends. I am going to try to keep it simple and not get carried away... I should basically just avoid Pinterest all together. I am thinking just a low-key, casual BBQ at our place where all the littles can play at the park and the parents can chat on the deck over a couple cold beers. Sounds perfect, right?

So here is where I come to a huge dilemma. As far as birthday gifts go... my kids don't need anything. And even if they did need something, chances are they already have something similar or we don't have room for it. As much as I want to throw a fun celebration for everyone, I really, REALLY don't want people to feel obligated to buy BOTH the kids gifts. How do you feel about putting "no gifts please!" on an invitation? Is that wrong/tacky? Would Emily Post roll over in her grave? And for people who really feel bad not bringing something, I would love to be like, "please don't spend money on a gift! Instead, put that money in their savings account!" But I obviously can't say that. I feel like I wouldn't be offended at all, but I know some people are old school. And I'm a huge lover of gift buying and giving so I feel like if I was ever in a similar situation, I would WANT to get my friend's child/nephew/cousin a gift... I don't know, I just wouldn't want anyone to be upset or offended or feel like they are being told what to give. I am struggling with how to go about this when I feel like so much money is spent on toys and stuff when it could really be beneficial put elsewhere. Not to mention, since its a joint party, I don't want people to feel like they have to get something for each kid, spending twice as much as they would normally spend.

So, here is the great debate. What would you put on an invitation? Would you be offended if you or your child received an invitation stating such?? Am I a terrible mother if I don't want to have to deal with new trucks and dolls and books around my house when we barely have room for the old ones? Or better yet, what could I suggest (when people ask) that will be a great, affordable gift that the kids would love? HELP!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Five on Friday!

1. How many times have YOU watched Frozen this week? Surprisingly we've only watched it once. But that itself has taken a lot of self control. The kids love it and Ky keeps hushing me as I sing along all the songs..

2.  Ky's dinosaur phase has gotten out of control. The kid officially knows more dinosaur names than I have ever even heard of. I had a moment the other day where I sat and thought, "It's official. He knows things that I don't." It was kind of crazy. We took him to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History last weekend and it quite literally blew his mind.

3. This little love has been a complete riot lately. Everything about her... her demeanor, her facial expressions, the words she says, the things she does, the noises she makes. She has grown into a little girl right before my eyes and I've noticed huge differences in her personality and development, even within the last couple weeks.

4. SPRING. It's so close I can taste it. It may "officially" be spring, but the weather here is still teetering between cold and mild winter. However, we have taken total advantage of the {few} good days we've had with utilizing the tot lot, long walks, or even just playing on the deck. Warm weather is so much easier with kids, isn't it?? Even the whole getting them in/out of the house and into the car without socks and coats and hats is a plus. I'm already planning out all our weekends with zoo trips and park playdates and more. So flipping excited.

5. This is just a fun little story. I had two girlfriends and their babies over for a playdate {and mimosas} yesterday... because what is a playdate without mimosas, right? Well, I opened our 2nd bottle of champagne and while in mid-conversation, paying no attention, the pressure inside the bottle popped the cork off before I even touched it. The cork hit the ceiling like a bullet and it was like New Years Eve at midnight in my kitchen. CHAMPAGNE EVERYWHERE - car seats, diaper bags, the walls, the ceiling, the floor, the counters.. It took us 30 minutes to wipe/clean down everything and then when I finally text my husband, what does he do but judge me ;)

Maybe I won't be having any Champagne Thursdays for a while. Name that movie. 

Happy Friday, Friends!!! :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Life Lately

You know, I was thinking the other day... life right now, with two toddlers (albeit crazy... which, I'm sure it always will be) is so awesome. I am LOVING this stage in our parenting career, so to speak. In fact, I think I'll even say that I love it more than any other. And I've never said that before. Let me explain.

As far as baby ages go, my favorite (in order) goes as following: 5 - 8 months, 14 - 18 months and then the newborn phase is my 3rd favorite. I'll even go as far to say that I could do without 9 - 13 months when they are learning to walk and getting into E V E R Y T H I N G and life is basically just chasing them around with a roll of masking tape, a tube of Neosporin, and a package of bandaids.

However, with that said... my favorite age thusfar with having TWO kids... is this one, right now. Ky and Ariana discovered each other and have been "playing" together for a long while now, but only until recently did they really start interacting on a level as friends. She has become a little chatterbox lately and so they are actually having full conversations with one another. Like I mentioned, Ky is into dinosaurs so they look through his new dino books for hourssss and he will point them out to her and she will go, "look, Ky! T-Rex! Wooow!" They adore each other and are constantly asking for one another. If she wakes up from her nap before him, the first thing out of her mouth is "Ky sleeping??" followed by a pouty face. If I pick him up from school and she's not with me, his first question is "Where's Ariana?!" She runs to his room every morning the second she hears him stirring, chanting his name. They argue and fight and grumble like siblings but they also share and play and interact like best friends. It's become my favorite thing to watch.

Not to mention... I think that after 2 kids and 2 3/4ths years into this parenting gig, I can finally, confidently say that I think we (kind of) officially know what we're doing. I know, what took so long, right? I mean, I no longer break out in hives at the though of taking both kids anywhere. We have a set, scheduled routine that everyone knows and adheres to. We know what makes both of them tick and vice versa, they know their boundaries with us. Whether or not they choose to obey them is a different story...

I know how to distract them. I know what to say when they are hurt. I know how to make them feel better. I know their favorite foods. I know how to tiptoe around my passionate son's even more passionate mood swings. All this learning took time... a LONG time. And adjusting to having two kids so close in age wasn't easy. But we are finally at a place where we are comfortable. We have our good days and bad, of course... but lately, it's been way more good than bad. They are now more predictable, better manageable, and able to communicate effectively. It really helps that Ariana is talking more and able to tell us what she wants... that guessing game is just not good fun for anyone!

When we left for our trip, the kids stayed with my in-laws for a couple days and I printed out their daily schedule, miscellaneous information, emergency contacts, etc... and upon returning, they told us how great they were and how they really stuck to their routines and were so easy-going throughout the day. Now, I'm sure part of them was just being nice... but the truth is, that I'm much more comfortable leaving both of them for an extended period of time like that now than I was even 6 months ago. They have both come a long, long way.. and so have we.

I guess what all this really just means is that my babies are growing up. While they will always be my babies, I officially am out of "baby" stage and it's toddlerdum from here on out until they step into Big Kid status. I do miss some of the baby things... I miss them falling asleep on me, and cradling them while I gave them warm bottles. I actually miss making baby food and bitty baby clothes and swaddles and stuff like that. But like I said, this stage without all that baby stuff is much more relaxed. Much more do-able. Much less stressful. And I'm looking forward to what lies ahead... because I have a feeling, it only gets better.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ky's Outerspace "Big Boy" Room!

So, this post is a long time coming. We started planning Ky's big boy room once he began climbing out of his crib in September. Then, he stopped climbing out so we put it on hold. Then, in November... he started again. And wouldn't stop. So we converted the bed. (one night at 11:30pm after many tears all around). And it's been a very, very slow process since then... mostly because getting stuff done in the kid's rooms is damn near impossible. Because you can't do it when they are sleeping. And you are hard-pressed to do it while they are awake because then you can't really watch them. So this room came together very piece-meal, and it's been almost four months in the making. But we FINALLY (!!!) hung the last frame up this weekend and it's officially complete and I think Ky loves it as much as we do!

Ky's nursery was Safari-themed and I really, really loved it. I had so much fun picking out all the decor, the artwork, the cute little touches here and there. With that said, originally, I wanted to do a baseball-themed Big Boy room. The selfish reason for that was because I had about a bajillion leftover baseball-themed things from his first birthday party. But since, he's older now and has a teeny tiny (rather large, actually) personality, I wanted to do something he really loved and was excited about. When we started planning the room, he was OBSESSED with outer space, the planets, galaxies, etc... so it seemed like the perfect theme. Now, of course, he's into dinosaurs. Go figure. 

I had so much fun with this room. I wanted it to be bright and fun but still little boyish. I didn't want sophisticated outer space... I wanted cute kid outer space. Orange and green were two of the main colors in his nursery so I kept those colors consistent in order to recycle some things from room to room and also because to me, they are perfect little boy colors. The other colors I brought in were red, navy and gray.

So without further ado, I present... Ky's Outer Space Big Boy Room!
I thought Chevron curtains would work really well in here... the kind of go with the theme but also are just a fun print for a kid's room.

  I designed all the prints in the room myself except for the planets print above the dresser.

Ky, poor dude, has the smallest room in the house. It tends to get cluttered easily so I wanted everything to stay neat and organized and loved these little buckets to put random small toys in... he loves them, too!

Books are in a basket under this little sidetable (he had the side table in his nursery, too) and more books are on the makeshift book shelves on the wall... secret: they are actually spice racks! We painted them the same blue color as the accent wall.

 Yes, I know I need a light switch plate!
This might be my favorite detail in the whole room. When Ky was about 15 months old, we took him to the National Air & Space Museum and I got his photo taken with an air and space background for my dad for his birthday. For the room, I copied a picture of the photo and also took the photo of the space shuttle from the museum and had them framed to go in the room. I love it! I think it is just adorable and adds the perfect, personal touch. He loves it, too. 

And what would an outer space room be without "planets"?! :) These are just paper lanterns we hung from the ceiling with clear fishing wire and clear thumbtacks. Ky thinks the red one is ACTUALLY Jupiter ;)
At one point, I remember Hubs saying to me, "you're sure putting in a lot of time and effort into a room for a 2-year old who probably won't even notice or care. Well.. Jokes on you, Hubs! Ky loved his room so much... the first time he walked in, he couldn't stop grinning and looking everywhere and he goes, "My outerSPACE room?! It's BEAUTIFUL!!! I LOVE it!!!" That little face made it all worth it to this mama! :)

Details for items below!

Gray Paint Color: Behr's 'Gentle Rain'
Navy Accent Wall Color: Behr's 'Rich Navy'
Convertible Toddler Bed/Dresser Collection: Savannah "Tori" Crib Set
Curtains: "I Decorate With Pillows" on Etsy
Bedding: Toddler Star Duvet Cover and Toddler-Size Insert (PB Kids)
Orange Pillow:  Branson Sham (PB Kids)
"Planets" Print: "West Willow" on Etsy (thanks to a reader for the find!)
Magnetic Growth Chart: Bed, Bath & Beyond
ALL frames (except double-opening frame): "Ribba" style from Ikea
Orange Buckets/Rod: Ikea
Silver and White Floor Lamp: Ikea
"Spice Rack" Bookshelves: "Bekvam" shelf from.... you guessed it. Ikea
Paper Lanterns: Paper Lantern Store
Alien Alarm Clock: Onaroo OK to Wake Alarm Clock
Humidifier: Crane Drop Shape Ultrasonic Cool Mist
Space Shuttle Night Light: Zulily
Space Pajamas: Old Navy 
Hamper: OXO Tot Flip-In Hamper

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Our Birthday Trip

Well, I certainly couldn't think of a better way I would want to ring in my 30th birthday than 5 straight days on one of the most gorgeous beaches I've ever seen with the man I love. This vacation was much, much needed. Not only are we both busy, ragged, crazy parents, but Hubs has a demanding job and works long hours and our weekends are usually full of playing catch up with conversation, random house duties, and the kids clawing at our shins. Date nights are one thing, and we do try to have them often... but this vacation was the longest the two of us have spent together, just us, since before Kyran was born. It was exactly what we needed.

We stayed at the Majestic Elegance in Playa Bavaro and we loved it. The service, the amenities, the BEACH... everything was top of the line. The food could have been a tad better in my opinion (but, I'm a snobby foodie and hard to please...), but there were certainly things we ate that were phenomenal. We went to the steak house one night and it was the best steak I've had in years. Everything around the grounds was perfectly manicured and beautiful and there was a plethora of activities, and amusements, and shops, and dining. We were only there 5 days and I felt like we could have spent 5 more and still not covered everything.

It felt like we were honeymooners, without the worry and responsibility of kids or a dog or work or basically anything else at all. We didn't turn on the television ONCE the entire 5 days. I don't even know if our room had a remote because I never saw it. On our flight home I joked that had there been a natural disaster or national tragedy, I wouldn't even know because we were so out of touch with what else was going on. Sounds awful, but we really just wanted to soak up every spare second of our time together.

We did all sorts of ridiculous things like crash a wedding to dance the Cupid Shuffle, stay out til all hours of the night at the resort's "discoteque," eat copious amounts of fresh fruit and seafood (one night, I ate two lobsters... TWO LOBSTERS!!!), take moonlit strolls on the beach and then gorged ourselves on fries and wings at the after hours snack bar. We made up names for ourselves (Leo and Natasha from San Fransisco, in case you were wondering), and talked to strangers with these identities just for fun. We drank loooots of champagne and made friends with Canadians and slept in until 10... one morning until 10:30. I started and completed two whole books.

It was pure luxury, absolutely glorious, and the most fun we have had together in a while. We left feeling relaxed and refreshed and energized and rejuvenated. And as we crashed into our own bed the night we got back, still faintly smelling like resort pool water and sunscreen, Hubs was already talking about our next vacation... which, you should know, shocked me probably more than anyone.

We had an amazing time and I am so glad we bit the bullet, saved as long as we did and decided to do this for ourselves. I hope it can become a sort of tradition where we get to escape for a long weekend every few years just to reconnect and spend time together because it did wonders for our mood and our relationship. I love seeing my husband so calm and relaxed and laid back... it's a nice change of pace from our usual busy lives.

 We were sad to leave, of course (and even more sad to come home to so much snow!)... but coming home to the kids made it much more exciting and we are already looking forward to when we get to go back... because, oh... we WILL be back!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What I Have Learned From My 20s

Well, folks... here we are. Tomorrow is the big 3-0 and there is no turning back now. I've done about all I can do (aside from seriously looking into a time machine). My husband hit the big number yesterday and I've spend the last two days joking that I'm still a 20-something while he's in his 30s. In a moment of weakness, my "30 life crisis" led me to dye my hair, do a little retail therapy and get nostalgic about some birthdays past as I dug through my photo archives to older, drunker, less-responsible days.

And I feel silly, really. All these sweet people and followers and friends keep telling me 30 is so great, "30 is the new 20," their 30s are so much better than their 20s... and I really do know that this next chapter of my life is going to be nothing short of amazing... As amazing as the last 10 years have been. And as I look back on these last 10 years, I have so many wonderful memories, so many incredible moments and so many life lessons that I will take and carry with me into this next chapter, as I transition from a "20-something" to a "30-something." Carrie Bradshaw once said, “Enjoy yourself. That’s what your 20s are for. Your 30s are to learn the lessons; your 40s are to pay for the drinks.” And while I tend to agree with almost anything Carrie Bradshaw says... I have to disagree a little here because I learned a lot of lessons in my 20s... and here are a few of them.

1. Trust My Instincts
You know that "gut" feeling? The whole Jimminy Cricket phenomenon? In your teens and 20s you don't listen to it because usually, its the sensible thing to do which means it's probably lame. Now, I've learned to trust my gut because its usually right. And I am old enough to know that being sensible is way cooler than being stupid.

2. I've accepted the crazy and {mostly} learned to tame it. 
All women are nuts to some degree. You know it, I know it... we just are. Accepting it is the first step. Now, at this age, I KNOW when I'm being ridiculous/unreasonable/stubborn/annoying and I can try to tame or control it. I've learned not to sweat the small stuff, because it doesn't matter in the end. I've learned not to pick fights over stupid shit because, really... what is the point? My high school boyfriend and I probably broke up 200 times in a span of 3 years and I couldn't even tell you why. I have learned it's ok to have a little crazy in you as long as you accept that it's there and do your best not just unleash it at every little thing.

3. Nothing good happens after 2AM. And sometimes 1AM.
There is a reason going home early is something that "older" people do. It's because they know that the weirdos and creeps just get weirder and creepier as the night goes on. That Fairy Godmother knew what she was doing sending Cinderelly home by 12. The only good thing that has ever happened to me after 2AM is the all-night Wendy's drive-through.

4. I've trimmed the friend fat.
At this point in my life, I have learned to accept that good girlfriends will put as much effort into our relationship as they expect me to and because of that, we will both benefit. It might be harsh, but its true... I have stopped putting effort, time, energy and emotion into relationships where there is little to no reciprocation. I am surrounded by amazing girlfriends and I LOVE these women with all my heart. They know I would drop anything and everything for them if they needed me to, and I know I could trust them to do the same. I don't have time for games. I don't have time for drama. And most importantly, I don't have time for fakeness or frenemies. I want to get the most out of my relationships and really feel loved, enriched, empowered and energized when I hang out with my girlfriends. It's a matter of quality vs. quantity and quality wins every time.

5. I choose comfort over style. 
Gone are the days of being uncomfortable for hours upon end just to make a fashion statement. Now, this doesn't mean I spend 90% of my time in yoga pants (although... sometimes, that is true...), but it means that I prefer to invest in better quality, flattering, good-fitting clothes and accessories over things that are cheap, trendy, and fall apart after 2.5 wears (I'm looking at you, Forever21). Comfortable also means what I feel good in. I have never liked showing a lot of cleavage and every once in a while I would succumb to the peer pressure because, well.. you know. And the whole night, I'd be self-conscious, pulling my top up, adjusting myself, etc. Forget that noise, I'm overrrr it! I will wear whatever I want, and know I look great because I'm comfortable and confident.

6. I value my body.
It took me a long time to understand that I've only been given one body and I need to take care of it. Over the last few years, I've gotten much better about what I eat, what I drink, how much, making sure our meals are well-balanced, being healthier in general. I also use sunscreen like it's going out of style, moisturize, and pamper myself with manicures, pedicures, massages, etc... when I can because (unlike when I was 22), I can afford to now, yipppee! I want my body and skin to look just as amazing when I'm 40 and 50 as it does now.

7. I don't want to be a mean girl. 
People judge each other, that's normal. It's life. It's a shitty thing to say out loud, but its true. BUT, over the years I have learned to cast judgements aside until you really get to meet someone. Prime example: some of the nicest moms in Ky's preschool are women who I would never have just randomly approached because either they are a bit older, or they don't seem like they would have the same interests as me, sense of style as me, etc... And, (again, this may sound awful, but... I'm just trying to be honest)... the cutest, most stylish, seemingly "put together" mom in his class who caught my attention by her outfit and perfectly put together Pottery Barn Kids collection backpacks the very first day is totally the biggest B and after 6 months of mindless conversation with her, I can safely say that I can't stand her. I'd much rather hang out with any of those other moms any day... and 7 years ago? I would have ignored the other moms and tried to be her BFF. Silly me.

8. Going out has a whole new meaning. 
Nights out are now few and far between for us so obviously, they are a big deal. A whole production, if you will. I LOVE getting ready for a night out... whether it be a date with my husband, dinner with girlfriends, the movies, etc... And the best part is? That since I appreciate them so much more, I ALWAYS have a great time, no matter what. Even if the movie sucked or the bar was lame or dinner took forever... it doesn't matter because now I enjoy great conversation, great company and just spending time with the people I care about. I can't remember the last time I left anywhere thinking I didn't have a good time.

9. With that said, I don't feel guilty staying in. 
Some of my favorite nights are putting the kids to bed, pouring a glass of wine, popping in a movie or streaming a show and cleaning my house. I'm serious. And, the best part is I no longer feel guilty or lame to admit it. I relish those quiet nights because even they don't happen THAT often. I appreciate catching up with my husband or watching tv with him, knowing our sweet children are sleeping soundly down the hall. I have looked forward to having those moments my whole life... why would I think it's "lame" to enjoy them?

10. I can read people.
I can call out a faker from a mile away. I can tell the face my husband is making if I'm looking at the back of his head. If a good friend is angry, upset, hurting - with me or for any other reason - I can almost always tell by their tone or body language or mood. I know why my mom is calling me before I even answer the phone. I can tell if a stranger is uncomfortable or annoyed or irritated for whatever reason. My experiences have really helped me learn how to interact with and understand people more and more with each passing year... people I know very well and even people I don't. Not always, but most of the time. And this has really helped me learn to connect with the people I want to be in my life and how to weed out the ones who I don't.

So there you have the 10 best lessons I learned in my 20s. I'm sure there are plenty more to learn, Carrie Bradshaw... but, I will say that I also still have a lot of enjoying to do. I enjoyed my 20s, immensely. So much so, that it has been really, really hard to say goodbye to them. But what I have learned from all this nostalgia and soul-searching is that in the end, I am still the same person. Now, it's just time for a new chapter. A nicer, shinier one that is a little more fancy, a bit grown up, and definitely wiser and stronger and more confident. And when I look at it that way? Well... 30 doesn't look so bad after all.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What I Have Learned This Winter.

Really, Mother Nature. Reallllllly? As if this winter hasn't been awful enough, you're going to dump ANOTHER snowfall on us? And not just any snowfall... but "the worst one we've seen in four years?" I am sorry for this but, seriously... you can suck it.

There are a few things I have learned about myself during this Winter. This winter that almost (and might still) kill me. This winter that is so damn cold, and so icy and so awful that it may as well be judgement day because every morning I wake up to another less than 30* day, I feel as though I'm walking straight to firey pits of hell... quite ironic, no?

Here is what I have learned about myself (and my family) during these last few ill-fated winter weeks:

1. I hate doing crafts
Wait, let me rephrase that... I hate doing crafts with my kids. There, I said it. I have never been a crafty person by nature, but I would occasionally sit down and make the rare wreath or glue together a festive banner. But when the time comes to be crafty with my children, I get supremely itchy all over. Just yesterday we were going to make the melted heart-shaped crayons as a Valentine for Ky's preschool class. You know, the Pinterest link that you've seen probably a thousand variations of? I mean, yes it's a little unnecessary but what with being trapped in the house I thought it'd be a cute, fun thing for us all to do that would take up some time.

Yep, that's the one. Cute, right?! I thought so, too... the execution, however... not so much. Because, here is the thing. I have TWO toddlers. That means a total of four hands throwing crayons all over my living room and a total of two mouths trying to feast on Jungle Green as a snack. (Is Jungle Green even still a color? It was always my fave.) Anyway... Yea. So... I laid down craft paper and pulled out my crayons and rolled up my sleeves and was mildly excited to do something crafty with them and then, BOOM. Ariana is ripping the paper off the table, Ky is coloring all over the place, she's eating one crayon, he can't get the wrapper off... it was a disaster. Needless to say, it took all of 6 minutes before I scrapped the idea and finished the crayons after they went to bed. They have also been super into Play-Dough lately (thank you, Rasha for the 25-pack you sent them as a Christmas gift... I'm only half being sarcastic ;)) but even that I can only stomach for about 20 minutes before I start internally fah-reaking out that they are going to mix the colors and then ALL WILL BE RUINED. Mom of the year. 

2. If there are cupcakes (or cookies or brownies), I will eat them. 
Ok, so the crafts is one thing because well... it's messy. A different kind of messy than say, baking. Ky loves being in the kitchen with me and Ariana is slowly getting there, too so I love spending time making memories in there with them. We baked cupcakes a couple weeks ago for their Valentine card and... once again... it didn't last as long as I would have hoped. Because I'm pretty sure three eggs went to waste, Ariana was walking around with a bottle of vegetable oil and/or sucking on the lid of it, and Ky ate so many sprinkles that his next diaper looked like the freaking fourth of July. Oh, and then there were all these cupcakes I had to hide from them and I ended up eyeing them so much I finally gave half to my brother and threw the rest away because they were taunting me. Same with the slutty brownies I made for the Super Bowl. I know, I legit have no self-control. 

3. If I'm not productive, I won't be productive. 
I am the truest example of the more you do, the more you'll do. When the kids and I are able to leave the house on a regular basis, we tackle a large amount of errands in the morning and then I am usually blogging, exercising or working straight through their naps and then we do more errands and/or schooltime, a little TV, etc. before I start getting ready for dinner. LATELY, this hasn't been the case. Because the whole morning since we can't do anything, I am basically just trying to survive. Trying to find things to keep them occupied and busy that don't include the remote. Trying to do stuff around the house while making sure they don't accidentally kill themselves. Trying to keep the house relatively clean before they terrorize it again before I'm done making a full round. It is exhausting. And even harder since they have all this pent up energy that they are just dying to release. So when the time comes for them to nap, I am so spent I don't want to do anything besides sit on the couch and watch Sex & The City marathons and just BREATHE. 

4. If we don't have to leave the house, we don't change our clothes. 
I can't tell you how many times Hubs has texted me that he is leaving work and I make a mad dash upstairs to change my underwear and brush my teeth. I'm serious. Yes its disgusting and I'm partially ashamed to admit it, but if we haven't left the house all day, chances are I'm still in pajamas and my kids are still wearing their breakfast. Dude. It is what it is. 

5. The television is my guardian angel. 
Because it has saved my life on more than one occasion. I am not proud of it, but my kids have watched more TV in the last month than they probably have in the last three months combined. It is my golden ticket once all my other tricks have been burned out, the kids are whining and clawing at me and I just want to sit in the quiet for more than three seconds. (Random sidenote - New show on Nick Jr. "Wallykazam" is ADORABLE and my kids are obsessed. Educational, too!)

6. You can never have enough bananas. 
One thing I always buy at the grocery store is bananas. Every time. I don't even have to wonder or ask if we are out because we go through bananas like the monkey exhibit at the zoo. Since trips to the store have lessened lately, I have been buying bananas in BUSHELS... like 12 - 15 bananas at a time. And they finish in three days. I don't even know who eats all these bananas, but someone does. 

7. Snow days are no longer fun. Unless my husband is home. 
If my husband is home due to the weather, I don't mind as much because then it just feels like the weekend. Even if we can't go anywhere, we still get to hang out and do stuff while the kids are napping and we all get to be lazy together. If he has to go in but school is cancelled and I'm on house arrest AGAIN?? Well... thats just the suck.

8. Snow isn't as fun as I thought it was as a kid.

When you're a kid, snow days are the best. When you're a mom or even an adult, not so much. Snow is basically just ice. Frozen, cold, wet, mushy ice that stains your shoes and gets your socks all soggy and makes you slip and ruins your car. It may look picturesuqe while it's falling and all but once the plows go through and it's all piled up in big, black mushes in corners on the sidewalk?? Yea... snow is gross.

Can you tell I'm REALLY excited about this storm that's coming? ;)