Raising Your Holiday Game

We are failing our children.  Do you realize that, with Easter’s passing, my children will not receive a bucket of candy until the final day of October?  Worse yet, unless one of them loses a tooth, a mythical creature will not enter my home until the arrival of Mother Goose, our Elf on the Shelf, in late November.  How are my children supposed to have a childhood filled with magic and wonder if they are to go over a month without a holiday that is celebrated with a stranger breaking into our home and leaving them gifts and high fructose corn syrup? Our children deserve better, which is why I have devised this handy schedule of mythical creature visits around holidays that have been deprived of their untapped potential for far too long.  

New Year’s Day

We’ve all watched the ball drop in Times Square, but this New Year’s, a jolly old soul who looks an awful lot like Dick Clark will be heading over to my place after the confetti has cleared in order to leave a package on the foot of my children’s beds. It will be filled with sugary cereals and video games that they can use to feed and entertain themselves while my husband and I nurse our hangovers in bed.  

Valentine’s Day

Valentine cards might be suitable for some parents, but why allow school to have all of the fun? Come February 14th, Cupid will be visiting our home, leaving his mark on all that he touches by  hiding conversation hearts in every corner and turning everything, from our cereal milk to our bath water, his signature red.  Sure, red dye might make your home look like a crime scene, but it’s all in the name of creating lifelong memories for your little ones.  What were you going to do you selfish twit, go out to dinner with your spouse?

Memorial Day

Can someone explain to me how our children are supposed to appreciate the sacrifices men and women have made for our country if no one gives them a gift that rings in the summer? This Memorial Day morning, my children will scurry outside in their pajamas, open up our backyard grill, and discover that a Union soldier has filled it with Freeze Pops, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, new bathing suits and sunscreen!

Flag Day

This year, my children will start their day with a game of capture the flag that will make the Hunger Games look like a Maypole event. The winning team earns a chest full of Bomb Pops – eat them before they melt! The losing team…wins the same. Because what’s better than a participation trophy? A participation gift that causes Type 2 diabetes, hyperactivity, and attention disorders.

Fourth of July

Parents, this is your day to wake up before dawn so that you can arrange for the ghost of Ben Franklin to visit your home before your children rise, leaving them Pop Rocks, sparklers, cherry bombs, and other explosive devices. Because nothing says the holidays like a visit to the ER.

Labor Day

Saying goodbye to summer isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely less painful when visited by Jimmy Hoffa. There’s a reason his body hasn’t been found yet – he’s alive and well and leaving my children a trail of chocolate coins that leads to a glorious discovery. My kids will go crazy for the briefcase full of cash that Jimmy leaves for them to buy their back-to-school wardrobe.  

Election Day

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, or as my kids call her, Bazooka Betty, doesn’t visit your house to supply your children with a canister full of rock hard bubble gum and freshly sharpened number 2 pencils? Oh, sorry, I didn’t know you were raising your kids to have a complete lack of respect for our electoral process.

Thanksgiving

We have allowed this holiday to be a day about gathering with family for the sole purpose of expressing gratitude for far too long. From now on, the Thanksgiving Pilgrim will be leaving a cornucopia of small gifts (like bicycles and iPads) for my children before throwing a turkey in the oven for our family to enjoy come nightfall. And don’t even get me started on Thanksgiving desserts. When a fruit and vegetable are the featured ingredients in your dessert, something is amiss. Move over apple and pumpkin pie, the Thanksgiving Pilgrim will also be bringing tasty treats made exclusively of corn syrup and red dye – all in the shape of feathers!    

Do your children a favor and make their childhood magical by teaching them that a holiday is not a holiday at all unless they are receiving gifts and childhood obesity from someone other than their parents.

You’re welcome.

 

Mommy’s St. Patrick’s Day Revenge

As a mother, one of my most important jobs is to teach my children empathy. What better way to do this than to put them in Mommy and Daddy’s shoes for a day? This St. Patrick’s Day, take a page from Mama Tries Blog and devote the day to exacting revenge on your wee ones by giving them a hefty dose of their own medicine – all served with a spoonful of sugar, of course.

Mess with their Mealtime
Between searching for the “right” spoon for your three-year-old or fulfilling drink orders for fickle children, peaceful mealtimes are a rarity for parents. Even when the utensils are in order and thirsts are quenched, there’s the matter of actually having your picky eater consume a healthy meal. Basically, I feel like I am getting pranked every time my family sits down to eat, so St. Patrick’s Day allows me the opportunity to turn the tables and mess with my kids’ mealtime for a change. No, this does not mean I am going to serve my children a full Irish breakfast. I’m trying to mess with them, not send them to blood sausage-induced therapy. Instead, I put a drop of green food coloring in their bowls before I fill it with their cereal and milk. This will ensure that breakfast looks typical upon being served, but will magically transform into an emerald sea right before their very eyes. Sit back and enjoy your Lucky Charms while your children’s minds are blown and it’s their meal that’s disturbed for once.

Intrude on their Privacy
If you’re like me, you haven’t peed in private since the days before stretch marks. My children see their mother entering the bathroom as an appropriate time to express their love for me, demand a snack, or tattle on a sibling. Whatever the case may be, I’ve come to accept having company in the restroom. St. Patrick’s Day is my children’s turn to see what it’s like to have a wee little one intrude on their bathroom time. The trick with this one is to put green food coloring in the tank of your toilet. That way, the water is clear when your child goes in, but turns green as they wash their hands after they’ve flushed. See how they like discovering that a mischievous little leprechaun snuck into the bathroom while they were in there! Plus, they’re usually so freaked out, they steer clear of the bathroom as much as possible for the remainder of the day, which means Mommy gets to read gossip blogs pee in private for once.
Take them on a Wild Goose Leprechaun Chase
Last Tuesday morning, when I should have been well on my way to work, I spent fifteen minutes searching for a My Little Pony hat for Crazy Hat Day at school. I never found it. I probably spend an average of 40 minutes a day scouring my home for items that my children absolutely cannot live without – like a certain stuffed bear they haven’t even looked at in eight months. Well, this St. Patrick’s Day, it’s going to be them searching. From morning until night, Mommy and Daddy will not only be leaving the aforementioned signs of a leprechaun, we will randomly shout, “There he goes!” whenever we would like a little time for ourselves. We will watch the girls scamper around the house, seeking out a cagey mythical creature that we know they will never find. Sure, we will spend part of the day reveling in their childhood innocence and wonder, but we are also going to feel a great satisfaction that it is them unsuccessfully hunting for some elusive entity for a change.

Rain on their Parade
Parenthood means making all sorts of commitments that you ultimately regret. “Sure, I’d love to supply 25 healthy, Halloween-themed snacks for the pre-school party!” I say on October 1st. By the 30th, when I’m drawing jack-o-lantern faces on clementines at 10pm, I’m a little less enthusiastic about undertaking. Well, St. Patrick’s Day just happens to be an opportune time for my girls to learn about honoring commitments. My girls are Irish dancers, so they get to march in our city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade every year. They spend weeks imagining themselves waving at cheering crowds and dancing in the streets with their friends. Then last year they woke up to a cold March rain, and that parade didn’t sound so enticing anymore. Guess who made them march anyway? When you make a commitment, you stick with it, kids. Just like Mommy’s going to keep spreading herself too thin, my kids are going to step, two, three down a parade route. Because St. Patrick’s Day means learning that anyone can rain on our parade, but we are still going be there dancing in it.

Impart Life Lessons
Children are a gift. Sure they ruin dinner time, destroy all semblance of privacy, and exhaust us until we are mere shells of ourselves, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s why St. Patrick’s Day ends in our house with a little token from Luigi the Leprechaun (named to honor both our Italian and Irish heritage and to appease Mommy’s lifelong love of alliteration). Last year, Luigi left a book inscribed with the following Irish blessing:

May the sun shine, all day long,
everything go right, and nothing go wrong.
May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true!

Because yes, it’s fun for Mommy and Daddy to exact their revenge by playing silly pranks for a day, but St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that celebrates our Irish culture. It’s a day I get to teach my children about the most important things in this world – happiness, optimism, love, and dreams. Well, that and that leprechaun pee is green.

st patricks day
Wee Elizabeth asks, “What sorcery is this??”

Liebster Award

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I am so excited to announce that Mama Tries Blog has been nominated for a Liebster Award!  The Liebster Award is given by the blogging community to recognize and support new bloggers. I am so honored that Heather Marie at Life, Love, and Lasagna nominated me!  Her blog is amazing and we have some seriously uncanny similarities – like items 1, 2, 5, 7, 10, and 11 of the “11 Random Facts About Me” section of her Liebster Award post.

The rules of the award are:

  • Thank the blog that nominated you and link back to them
  • Answer 11 questions from the blogger that nominated you
  • Tell readers 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate up to 11 bloggers to receive the award next
  • Give your new nominees questions to answer about themselves when they post their nomination

 

My Q&A with Heather Marie

Who is your favorite fictional character, and why?

It’s a tie and I named my children after them.  My older daughter is named after Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice and my younger daughter is named after Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. I tend to keep that information to myself for fear that people will think it’s either pretentious or cliche.

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your blog?

Self-promotion gives me a serious case of the sweats.  I am terrified of coming off as pushy or arrogant and I basically need a shot of tequila every time I post a link to my website somewhere.

What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday?

Cuddling on the couch with my girls, cup of Earl Grey in hand, while my husband makes waffles.  We lounge for a while, we stroll around the neighborhood, eventually making our way to a playground, and have a picnic lunch.  I go for a run while they relax back at home. That evening, my husband and I have a babysitter and go out for dinner and cocktails.

What are your pet peeves?

People who talk during adult movies.  I have a visceral reaction to people chattering at the movie theater and become consumed with a body-encompassing rage.  On the other hand, I can’t tolerate people who expect quiet at children’s movies.  If you came to a matinee showing of Cinderella, don’t give my two-year-old a dirty look when she squeals over the blue dress!

If you were a superhero, what superpower would you have?

The power to never have to sleep would be nice.  Imagine what I could get done!  Like, maybe my children would have clean, matching socks to wear to school!

What prompted you to start a blog?

I went to college to be a journalist, but ultimately changed career paths.  I then spent years thinking “someday” writing would become a hobby again, but I never felt like there was any time.  When my husband was away for three weeks this winter, my evenings were pretty darn free, so I figured if I didn’t try then, that I never would.

What’s your favorite holiday, and why?

This is like asking me which child I love more – I need to choose two!

Halloween: We get super into Halloween at our house.  We love dressing up, and have gone with a theme for the last two years.  Below is a pic from a few years ago when we did Peter Pan.  Head over to this post to see us as KISS. We have an amazing neighborhood for trick or treating – the streets are teeming with packs of kids and the flow is so constant that there’s no point in closing your door.  Every year, my husband and his friends set up a fog machine and scare trick or treaters with a Halloween prank that involves a rubber elk head.  My children are visions of sheer joy for the entire day, and the moms and dads are having just as much fun. It’s totally worth the sugar hangover my children have the next day.

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Christmas Eve: My family is Italian, so we have the 7 Fishes dinner, which is my favorite meal on the planet.  Anchovy sauce might sounds gross to someone who has never had it, but it is pure salty heaven.  The kids love to be with their cousins, and, rather than being about presents, the whole holiday is about being with family.  It also doesn’t hurt that I am the youngest of the entire family, so no one expects anything at all from me – which means, while everyone else attending has slaved in the kitchen all day, all I’ve done is cut up vegetables for a crudites platter.

Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?

Sofia Vergara automatically comes to mind, but just because of our obvious physical similarities.  You don’t see it?  No?  Okay, how about Tina Fey?  I think she’s beyond brilliant and hilarious, and who wouldn’t want one of their idols to play them on the big screen?

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Pasta.  I basically eat it everyday anyway, so it wouldn’t take much getting used to.  The concept of gluten intolerance is the stuff of nightmares for me.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of love?

Childbirth.

If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

Do not wake before dawn.


 

11 Random Facts about Me

1.) When trying to put this list together and I asked my husband what a funny thing about me was, he replied with, “Your face.”  And that is why we are married.

2.) Finding out there is no milk for my morning tea basically destroys me for the rest of the day.

3.) My husband drove me home from school once when I was a sophomore and he was a senior in high school – and I didn’t say a word the entire ride.  Because boys.

4.) I don’t know what I’d do without my high school girlfriends and college girlfriends, who are still my best friends. We would do anything for one another, and being with them feeds my soul.

5.) My college friends and I had nicknames for everyone. Sometimes they were benign, but some we will have to take to the grave.  Panty Stealer and Eh Ladies are two of my personal favorites.

6.) While I love quality literature and believe Jay McInerney’s books changed my life, I also can’t get enough of teen romance novels.  Similarly, I love BBC shows (If you haven’t watched Peaky Blinders or Orphan Black yet, you must!), but, God help me, I love Degrassi!

7.) My brother is the funniest person I know and if he ever does a guest blog on here (consider this your invitation), no one will ever want me to write again.

8.) I lived in Dublin for three months, didn’t have a job, traveled throughout the country and other parts of Europe, and paid for my exorbitant rent by taking out cash advances from my credit card.  I came home $10,000 in debt and it was worth every penny.

9.) There are not enough words in the world to express how much I love my children, so I will just share a favorite thing about each of my girls.When my younger daughter gets excited, her voice becomes so high pitched that only dogs can hear it.  When she gets mad, she acquires a Boston accent, which makes us laugh, causing her to get even more upset.  My older daughter has the most expressive face and I often wonder if she will grow up to be a comedy genius.  Plus, even though most of her jokes are about tushies, they’re always pretty darn funny.

10.) I have been a lifelong sufferer of Resting Bitch Face, which has resulted in an exorbitant number of random people on the street telling me to smile.  A high school friend actually tried to give me lessons in smiling at strangers before we left for college.  When this affliction actually became a thing – with a name –  a few years ago, I was full of joy.  Not that anyone would have known…

11.) My mom never spanked me and only yelled at me about three times ever, yet I rarely misbehaved because I was terrified of disappointing her.  Now that I am a mother, I want to know what kind of witchcraft she used to do this because my kids could care less about upsetting me.

 

Below is the bloggers I have nominated.  They are all so different from one another, but all fantastic.  These women have written blogs that will inspire  you to laugh, cry, think, and, most of all, feel grateful and empowered to be a woman in this world.

Feisty Pants

Chic and Modish

Sass and Shamrocks

Suburban Imperfection

Third Shift Living

Making Miracles

Questions for My Fellow Bloggers

1.) What city that you have visited is your favorite?

2.) If you could visit any city in the world that you have not yet visited, where would you go?

3.) What’s your favorite word?

4.) If you could live inside any movie or book, which would you choose?

5.) What is your favorite thing about blogging?

6.) What’s your favorite smell?

7.) What accomplishment are you most proud of?

8.) What is your most embarrassing moment (that you are willing to admit)?

9.) What is your drink of choice?

10.) What is your favorite season?

11.) What song always makes you happy when your hear it?

 

Congratulations to the nominees!  I can’t wait to read your answers. Make sure you check out the blogs of your fabulous fellow nominees!

Lazy Mom’s Guide to Looking Your Best

Let me be clear before I begin – I would never be so delusional bold as to think I have any business giving anyone beauty or fashion advice. I have lost count of the number of times that a night out on the town begins with me taking a few deep breaths, YouTube tutorial in hand, giving winged eyeliner a go and ultimately looking, not like Adele at the Grammys, but Adele the morning after a serious bender. I will then change my outfit roughly 27 times before settling on something I later come to regret. So it seems rather nervy that I devote a post to providing anyone advice in the personal care department.  But what I lack in fine motor skills and the ability to differentiate between warm and cool shades, I make up for in my championship level laziness and vanity.

My life is a constant struggle between these two facets of my personality.  I am too vain to leave the house without makeup, too lazy to contour.  I refuse to go gray gracefully, but never manage to get my dark roots to a salon before they are anything less than an inch long (please let ombre always be a thing). I once curled my eyelashes before evacuating my college dorm when the fire alarm was pulled in the middle of the night. It’s safe to say that when the alarm roused me that night, I was sharing my bed with a pile of laundry that I didn’t bother to put in my drawers.  I will forgo a myriad of necessities in order to sleep an extra twenty minutes a day – but also try my darnedest to leave the house looking presentable enough for my children not to deny me as their mom. If you’re as lazy as I am, read on to find out how you, too, can leave the house looking polished while putting in the least amount of work possible.   

Shun the Shampoo

It is well-established that I do not wash my hair everyday, or even every other day for that matter.  At times, I try to spout off about how damaging daily shampooing is on your hair and its precious moisture content.  Which is all well and good if I didn’t pay someone an exorbitant amount of money to bleach the shit out of my hair, and then expose my locks to a daily searing courtesy of a 350 degree ceramic straightening iron.  Simply put, I don’t wash my hair because I’m lazy as hell and have better things to do – like sleep.  Plus, this practice ensures that my shampoo lasts forever, which makes me feel less guilty about splurging on fancy salon products.

Some women can air dry gracefully.  I am not one of those women.  Make-up free with air-dried hair, and I closely resemble a drawing of Jesus one might see in a Sunday school classroom.  A blow dry and a straightening is crucial for me to look, at the very least, decent.  Is there anything worse than holding your arm up in the air for 20 minutes?  That shit is tiring.  Add the circulation of hot air that results in copious amounts of facial sweating, and now my eyeliner is smudged before I’ve left the house.  Not pretty.

And so I trained my hair to be washed roughly twice a week. It’s the easiest training process you’ll ever go through, as it involves the not doing of something.  Your hair, like children, thrives on routine.  If you wash it every morning, it will get greasy every night.  If you consistently skip days between washings, your hair will delay the oiling process.  The key is to stick to the washing ban no matter what. Hair getting a little greasy at the root on day two?  Sprinkle a little powder or dry shampoo on there and you’re set.  Toddler gets yogurt in your tresses?  Wipe off those few strands with a baby wipe.  Training for a half marathon and sweating like the PTA president the night before a bake sale?  Schedule your weekly long run to coincide with a washing day.  Whatever happens, do not let shampoo touch your hair.  Unless poop.  Poop is always the exception.  

Lessen Your Load

Only a mother would mention laundry in a beauty post, but bear with me here.  Once children are born, laundry acts like a wet gremlin – it starts multiplying at an alarming rate.  Do you know how much more time you can devote to your beauty routine when your laundry pile is less overwhelming? But how is it possible to lessen your load when your children end each day having peed through two pairs of pants and soiling four t-shirts with ketchup?  Stop washing your clothes.  Your pants anyway.  Keep washing your shirts and unmentionables because…well, you don’t need me to spell it out for you.  Pants do not get dirty like other items of clothing, and the less of them there are in the laundry, the more time you have to finally perfect the winged liner, figure out once and for all how to curl your hair using a straightener, or – let’s be honest – catch up on some beauty sleep (are you sensing a theme here?).   

You may be asking yourself, “But won’t repeated wearings result in jeans that are stretched out more than my lower abdomen?”  A valid question with a simple solution. Buy all of your pants a size too small.  Oh, who are we kidding, if you’re like me, you refuse to buy new pants until you lose those last few pounds of baby weight, so all of your pants are already snug, to say the least.  (Anyone who wants to point out the fact that my “baby” is three might want to take a step back before I punch them in their smart mouth.)  

I suggest a night out on the town rather than kindergarten pick-up for the first wearing of the pants.  Not only can other moms be a smidge judgy when your ass is rocking, but, let’s be honest, a flowy blouse and dim lighting go a long way toward hiding the inevitable muffin top that comes along with wearing pants that require you to lay flat in order to zip.  The second wearing can be paired with a boyfriend sweater or tunic to balance out the remaining snugness.  You might want to host a dinner party or schedule an important meeting around your next two go-rounds with these pants, because wears three and four mean that you are rocking properly fitted trousers!  After this, your stretched out pants are most suitable for carpool and walks around the neighborhood.  

It’s time to wash when your pants get the hint of a scent.  I wouldn’t call it an odor, as that word has such negative connotations, but there’s a certain earthiness to your pants at this point.  They’ve served you well, now treat them to a little lather in the wash so they can start the cycle all over again.  

Scarf It Up

If you’re like me, you have impeccable taste when it comes to judging what other people are wearing.  Not so much when it comes to dressing yourself.  I love to admire women’s style and marvel at ensembles that look, at once, flawless and easy.  Then I try to create the same for myself, and instead of rocking bold colors and mixed prints like Mindy Kaling, I end up looking like I lost a bet and my children dressed me for the evening.  As a result, I turn to my go-to outfit all too often – skinny jeans, a t-shirt, cardigan, and boots.  Cute and all, but boring as hell.  Until I discovered that adding a creatively tied scarf transforms your daily uniform from mundane to enviable.  

Scarves are everywhere these days, but, when tied correctly, they still add a touch of sophistication to any ensemble.  Unlike the 90s, when a girl needed a trip to Paris or a French friend to learn how to tie a scarf, today you can’t go a week without stumbling upon a scarf tutorial on your Facebook feed.  The next time you come across one, watch it and be amazed at how user-friendly they are.  Plus, since there are so many options, you could wear the same scarf three times in one week, and no one would be the wiser.  Another plus?  Like pants, scarves do not necessitate a daily washing.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I wore a scarf this week that hasn’t been cleaned since 2005.

Banish the Blade

When it comes to showering, I am basically an 8-year-old boy.  I have better things to do, thank you very much.  I hem and haw about having to get in, and, once in there, I think of all of the things I need to do to get myself ready for the day and I want out as quickly as possible.  Since it wouldn’t be advisable to skip washing under my arms, and we know I’m not washing my hair in there, it only makes sense that I consider forgoing the razor as a potential time-saver.  When the choice is between drying off sooner and filling in my eyebrows (which are on my FACE!) and shaving my thighs (which, if the day goes as planned, will not be seen by my co-workers), that razor’s best left to rust up in the soap dish.

I literally can’t believe that there are women in this world who shave their legs every single day.  Women who wear tights or pants. Women whose legs are completely unexposed to the public.  Women whose legs haven’t seen the light of day since the Reagan administration.  These women have hairless legs that no one sees!  Nuh uh, no thank you, not for me.  Unless someone is going to be admiring my smooth calves, a blade will not touch them.  

But what about skirts, dresses, or cropped pants?  Well, ladies, there are certain lessons one learns at girls’ school that she holds with her for life, and one of those, is tactical shaving. Only shave what is exposed.  Sometimes that means you shave just your ankles, sometimes you’ve got to go further up the path.  Most times – as in the months between October and May – you build your wardrobe so that it consists entirely of skinny pants and leggings, both of which shall be topped with boots, so that you have a double layer between the public eye and your Sasquatch legs.  

There you have it.  Mama Tries Blog beauty secrets – dirty hair, dirty pants, dirty scarves, and hairy legs.  Yup, sounds about right.  My husband sure is a lucky guy.