School’s Back

Summer is officially over.  I know, not because school is back, but because we have already been struck with the flu.  Reece went back to school a few weeks ago, and Kat moved up to Toddler 2 in daycare.  Then, the next week Kat had a 103 fever for four days.  All her activities and daycare had to be suspended for most of the week.

I had been really excited for September so I could have two full days of both kids in daycare for work and errands.  It was a little bit of a setback having Kat homebound, but I got a ton of cuddles and we watched movies all day.  Watching movies and TV with the kids is usually my husbands domain.  It was nice to have a (almost) guilt free excuse to hang on the couch and Netflix for days.  Sick baby Kat

Everyone, for now, is healthy and back into the normal school year routines.  We even got a few cute back to school pictures, including a couple with Mom, Dad and Kat thanks to miniphotographer, Reece.

Reece and Kat 1st day school

Back to school
Reece’s photography skills, taking a family picture

Back in the Routine

It always take a week or two to get back in the swing of things.  School starting up again is no exception.  It’s been about a month now and we are back into a groove with our new routine.  Reece and Kat are gone all day Mondays and Fridays giving me an opportunity to get productive with my clients, blog, and house projects.  I even picked up a new client since school started!

The kid’s schedule during the week is pretty packed with only one “free” day.  We hardly ever stay at home all day.  During summer our schedule is more relaxed.  We can avoid going stir crazy by turning on the sprinkler and frolicking in the backyard.  Once winter hits it’s tough to be active without obligations.  This means I’m, probably, one of those over-scheduling moms, but, for our family, this is what works best.

Dance Class

I’ve been working on making a better effort on classes just for Kat.  Reece has other plans when we go to dance class.  The result is either big brother crashing the class of tiny ballerinas like a giant beast or both of them sulking on my lap when I try to keep Reece from participating.  Not the desired outcome.

Kat at Dance
Kat having a solitary moment at dance class.
Panda dance
Reece joining while the class does a teddybear dance

Gymnastics

When Kat has gymnastics, Reece is a preschool and is forced to be “on her own” even though it’s a mommy and me class.  Most of the time she does not want to do what the class is doing.  I never know what the “right” thing to do is.  Let her wonder around to explore?  Or, stay with the class, follow instructions and wait turns?  Half the time I’m reigning her in, the other half I let her do as she pleases.  This means she’s at the balance beam, unless that’s what the class is doing.  She’s a woman who knows what she wants.  Sort of.

Art Class

After dance is art class.  We have a time gap too small to stop at home but makes us crazy early for class.  Try as I might to delay our arrival we always end up a half hour early.  Sorry Miss Emily!

We have been going to this studio for two years, the teacher knows us well and doesn’t (seem) to mind our early arrival.  She even made an exception for Kat to be in the drop-off class even though she isn’t 3.  Since Reece and Kat are so happy to be together Miss Emily knew she could handle adding Kat in.

Other Ways We Kept Busy

When we aren’t rushing to our classes and school (or napping, whew!) we have still been able to keep busy.  It’s been an unseasonably warm fall, hitting 80F some days in October!  We’ve had stroller walks, scooter walks, fun in the backyard, and trips to the playground and apple picking.

Reece big smiles apple picking
I asked Reece if I could get a picture of him, this is what he gave me.

Kat and Reece apple picking

We even managed to have fun indoor activities with art and sensory projects, baking, and laundry.  Yes, my kids help with the laundry!  It’s not always perfect, sometimes the kids rush to do it excitedly, “Yayyyy time to put the washer clothes in the dryer! Woohoo!!” Other times there’s fighting, yelling, tears and frustration – on both sides.  After a little distraction they calm down, I ask again, and happily help out.  Ohhhh, to be a tiny human.  I’ll miss my little helpers!  Please stop growing!!

Reeces person draweing
Love seeing the evolution of Reece’s people pictures!
Sensory play organizing poms.
Kat and Reece organizing poms for some sensory play. It’s not Pinterest, but they work hard doing this for 20 minutes!

Goodbye September

Before we knew it, September ended.  Not that we can tell, with the 80 degrees weather, which I’m not complaining about!  I think I’m the only one who isn’t.  I love the heat.  I suspect New Englanders have reoccurring winter-amnesia.

September closed out with Dad going away for a week on a work trip and we finally found a lunch Reece would eat while at school (jelly and jelly sandwich).  When Dad got back, leaves were starting to turn and it was time to start thinking about Halloween.  Now, if we can just find our Halloween stuff that we moved during the renovation….

The Mommy Friendship Hustle

Far away, are the easy breezy days of meeting people and making friends in high school or college.  Graduating can bring a sense of starting over, but you work at it and while finding your way in the world, you meet some cool people.  Then you become a mom.  The new life phase can wash away at the momentum you gained growing friendships.  Your priorities, lifestyle, schedule, availability all shift.

I’ve been a mom for four years now, and it wasn’t until recently I started to remotely feel like I’ve gotten into a groove with other moms.  Motherhood is awesome and fulfills me in a way I never realized was missing.  What also comes with it are innumerable responsibilities and a rollercoaster of feelings that can be overwhelming.  I swear, half of the burden of motherhood can be the mental load, thinking about everything you need to be doing, what everyone needs.  Finding a peer you can trust, to talk freely with and unload with, is cathartic.  But how do you find your people?

If you manage to find a prospective mom you think you might click with, you still have to contend with so many factors that go against making friends.  To make new friends you need consistency, the confidence to make plans, availability, and commonality.  Other things as well to be sure, but these are some main building blocks.  Kids throw a major wrench into the mix.

Is it me?

It can feel like you’re the only one struggling to make friendships.  Not so!  There have been so many times I’ve cried or been in a funk over not having close friends nearby or false start friendships.  When we are viewing our friends, acquaintances, bloggers, etc., through the lens of Instagram and Facebook, we have to remember, that is NOT real life.  It’s a projected life that is cropped using only one perfect picture out of fifty crappy pictures or moments.

The Mommy Dating Game

Motherhood is a friendship HUSTLE!  You’ve gotta work it!  When you do meet someone you mesh with, you have to actually meet up a second time to get the ball rolling.  Sounds easy, but damn!

Moms (I mean, kids) are signed up for some many activities and obligations.  Trying to plan a playdate with another Mama is like playing the most complicated game of Tetris Scheduling there ever was.  On the one hand, all those classes, activities, and other obligations are helping moms to get out there and meet new people.  On the flip side, they can get in the way of making plans sometimes.

First Base, and Beyond

While you are meeting people at these cool kid things, you typically don’t have a lot of down time to talk and connect.  This is where it gets awkward.  You think someone seems could be cool and you want to “take it to the next level” by doing something outside of class.  You’re basically back in the dating scene.  Only instead of guys, you’re trying to catch a mom friend.  Remember when you thought dating was soooo hard?  Mom dating, is a whole other level.

Then, say you do find that miracle day where the stars align and you can meet up.  Congratulations!  You’ve made it to second base!  There is a 1000% chance a kid will get sick, have a poopsplosion all over the car seat making it impossible to drive anywhere, some family emergency, or some other crazy issue will arise for one of you.  Boo!

The Setbacks Can Be Killer

If it’s not you that had to cancel/reschedule, then you’re thinking, “Did I do something wrong? What if they just aren’t that into me? Maybe I came off too strong?  Or not strong enough?!?!”  Stop the downward spiral.  Avert! Avert!  Your logical self understands.  After all, it could have just as easily been you that had to cancel for all the crazy reasons that happen when you have kids.  Still, it’s hard to not feel insecure or slighted sometimes.  And this can happen multiple times before actually succeeding in both of moms showing up for a date, I mean, play date.

Get Out There, Then Be Ready to Repeat

You must put yourself out there.  Way out there.  I think I’ve had more play dates or mom nights out that have been rejected or cancelled, than have happened.  It can get a person down.  I know how easy it is to get discouraged, just keep at it. I swear, took FOUR YEARS for me to find and connecting with new people.  While I’ve gotten to 4th base with some moms, I would still say we are in the honeymoon phase of our dating.  I do think the outlook is promising!

Mom besties
This is one of my mom besties. She lives across the country, but we make it work. My motivation to get out there and connect with other Moms near me.

Haste is Waste

It’s not to say it won’t happen next week, or tomorrow even.  Remember though, any friendship needs time.  Sometimes in our haste to connect with other people we overlook the fact that maybe there isn’t much substance.  Sure, you both have kids the same age, and that can go a long way, but similar parenting philosophies, love of gardening, or whatever, other real interests are needed in any friendship.

Tall, Dark, and Handsome!

Remember when you were out there in the dating field?  Didn’t you think you had a ‘type?’  You still must look around and be selective.  As a Mom, you don’t have time (I mean literally, the schedule is packed) to date moms that you don’t even care to hang out with.  I know it seems like you can’t be, but you need to!  This isn’t high school.  A core group to keep you grounded, save you from your kids, show up for plans.  This will only happen if it’s the real thing.

Keep perspective by knowing motherhood is perfect for no one.  Again, don’t get sucked into the social media projection.  Successes and setbacks are all part of finding cool moms.

If you can relate to this, please, please share!  Better yet, let me know how you work through the mom dating scene or how you persevered and found a mom bestie!

Mom and Son Date In The City

The entire summer there has been no overlap in daycare for Kat and Reece.  As a result, Mondays and Fridays, Reece has been getting 100% mom time while Kat’s in daycare, and Tuesday through Thursday the mornings are all about Kat, while Reece is at camp.  Once school starts in September, Reece’s mom only days will be few and far between.  This will be great for my productivity, but will be a little sad.  We will still have plenty of time together, but the dynamic is just a little different with little sister or dad around.  Since our Reece and Mom only days are numbered once school starts, I took advantage and planned a special day for both of us.  A Mommy/Reece date!!

I got an invitation to go to the Trunk Club Boston’s Clubhouse and decided it was the perfect excuse to make the drive into Boston.  I don’t venture into Boston often because I don’t like risking a car nap happening at the wrong time.  But, caution to the wind, it’s our special day!  My Trunk Club appointment motivated me to follow through.  I kept the plan flexible, with just an itinerary of my Trunk Club appointment, swan boats, ice cream, and explore the Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods.

Mom and son sitting by fountain
Reece and I sitting by the fountain, taking in the city.

We arrived a little early and sat by the fountain outside Trinity Church.  I pointed out the John Hancock Building, Boston Public Library, and Copley Place Mall to him.  I also pointed out a Wendy’s that used to be Poppy’s pizza shop.  Reece was only interested in the Hancock Building.  Now I have some homework to do finding toddler facts about Boston’s tallest building.  Our Trunk club appointment took about an  hour, I got two cute shirts.  The focus for the rest of the day was whatever Reece wanted to do!  We drove down to the Boston Public Garden and only had to circle once for a spot.  I was so relieved, there are parking lots nearby but street parking is so much cheaper!  We would have walked, but I forgot the stroller and the parking meter time was a factor.

 

Reece really wanted to explore and inspect every acorn.  He’s a dawdler, I rushed a little bit to make our way to the swan boats.  I didn’t want to risk lots of aimless wandering, then scratching the main event to haul it home ASAP for a nap.  Don’t worry, I didn’t rush too much.  It still took us about 20 minutes from the car to the docks – it’s about a 3 minute walk for a normal person.

Reece exploring Boston Public Garden
Reece exploring The Boston Public Garden

We spent about 10 minutes on the footbridge talking about how we were going to go on the swan boats.  I have to mention, Reece dressed himself, which explains the backwards shirt.  I asked him several times if he wanted to fix his shirt to no avail.  Nope, very proud, he did it himself, doesn’t need help.  At least his shorts were on right.  I think it’s 50/50 that any article of clothing is on the right way.

Reece on Boston Garden footbridge
Reece on the footbridge checking out the Swan Boats

Once we had soaked up the idea of what the swan boats were, we made our way into the line, applied more sunscreen, and hopped onboard.  If you don’t know the history of the swan boats, you should read about it here.  It’s not a long read, and the sweetest story.

 

Back at the dock we decided it was ice cream time, so off Reece and I ventured to some of the pushcarts nearby.  I did not have any cash so that was a fail.  We explored the Commons and Gardens a little more and headed down to Charles Street to find lunch.  A few of the places I wanted to check out had crazy, long lines and weren’t the most toddler friendly, and most importantly, NO ice cream.  After three or four restaurant fails we decided on Caffe Bella Vita.  I told my father later, and his response was, “That place is still open?”  Apparently, he used to go as a kid for gelato.  We ordered gelati for lunch with a PBJ dessert.

Reece eating strawberry ice cream
Reece nomming on some strawberry ice cream. Yum Yum!

We still had time left in the meter for one more thing.  It would be tight, but just enough time to go to the Boston Common Carousel.  I found $3 after rummaging through my diaper bag, hurrah!  Reece picked a bench instead of a horse and was in toddler heaven.  I even let him have a slush on the walk back to the car.  Which was sort of a bad idea because at this point we were pushing the limit of our parking meter time.  I tried to carry the slush to pick up the pace but no dice.  We got to the car and while I was buckling him in our time expired.  Whew!

Mom and Reece on carousel
Best picture we could get on the carousel. Just too exciting for selfies!

Boston Common Carousel

When we saw Dada that night, he asked Reece, “What did you do today?”  Reece told him, “I went shopping with Mama.”  Glad the swan boats, ice cream, carousel, and exploring the city and BPG made an impression!  When pressed he did also mention he had ice cream for lunch, haha.

Reece’s Dr. Seuss Birthday

First I had to say goodbye officially to the infant phase of my life when Kat turned two, and now Reece is four?  His last birthday before he is ‘school aged.’  Stop growing babies!!  Pity party aside… This year Reece could, somewhat, help pick out what he wanted to do for his birthday party.  I gave him a couple options he picked a backyard Dr. Seuss party.  The past few months he’s fallen back in love with his Dr. Seuss books and his birthday party countdown commenced.

We invited our family and Reece’s preschool class, which is pretty wild for us.  I took the gamble that most people wouldn’t be able to make it since it would be summer vacation.  As I had thought, only a handful of classmates RSVPed yes, a couple no, but the majority we didn’t hear from.  We planned food for more than we expected, since we weren’t 100% sure how many to expect.  Best to have too much food than not enough.

I later found out during our play group, pretty close to the party, several people didn’t even get the invitation and just assumed we only invited close friends when other play group moms mentioned it.  The problem with distributing cards to the class AT school I suppose.  Oops.  Hopefully we didn’t offend our classmates.  I learned, three and four year olds aren’t the best messengers.  Who knew?

As with Kat’s party I whipped up a Pinterest board for ideas on what little touches of Dr. Seuss I could bring to the party.

Decor

We only bought a couple things, a Dr. Seuss party banner from my favorite store, Target, of course, and a few red and blue plates and cups.  The only other decor were signs I drew myself.  Since it was a backyard party, we didn’t need to go crazy on decorations.

 

Food

To go with the Dr. Seuss theme that was preschool friendly we did pasta salad (noodle eating poodle), gold fish (the fish from The Cat In The Hat) and of course (Truffula) fruit salad.  Not theme related, but other food included: hotdogs, popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, and mini Oreo. The kids spent about half the party crowded around the food table helping themselves to Oreo and popcorn so good thing we didn’t stick to only theme food.

 

Activity

We were going to do water activities, but nixed it since not all the kiddos had suits.  Didn’t matter, the kids played on the swing set, a crawling tunnel, balls, and all the other outdoor toys we have and had a blast.  By candle time pretty much all the kids were ready for naps.  Not very Pinteresty, but at this age running around outside is much more fun than adults trying to tell them what to do and when to do it.

Dessert

Reece requested cupcakes.  The most important part of these cupcakes (for me) were the Dr. Seuss colors.  So I picked up a food coloring kit.

 

I picked a couple different story books: The Lorax, One Fish Two fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and Oh, The Places You’ll Go!  For the truffula trees I used this super easy tutorial to make yarn flowers which actually make a cool truffula trees, then stuck the pipe cleaner into straws that I cut down a little to fit the cupcakes.

Truffula trees
Truffula tree tops

For the One Fish Two Fish cupcakes I piped yellow frosting, then put gummy sharks or Swedish fish on top.  Oh, The Places You’ll Go cupcakes, simply piped a layer in few different colors with the round frosting tip.

Dr Seuss Cupcakes

Since I made more than enough, my husband brought the leftovers to his office and he reported back that his coworkers knew it was Dr. Seuss cupcakes!  I was pretty jazzed. For any allergy kiddos we made some Cat In The Hat parfait.

If you are thinking of a birthday party that isn’t a typical character theme that you can find at Party City, don’t feel overwhelmed!  There are ways to get creative and not spend all your budget on Etsy.  And, don’t forget the most important goal, a fun party for the birthday boy/girl.  All that’s needed for a successful birthday party, really, is playing and toddler friendly food.

Kat Turns Two! – Art Birthday Theme

Another year, another year older for Kat.  Wahhh!!  I officially no longer have a 1 and 3 year old.  After lots of self pity wondering where the time went, I got to planning on how to celebrate my despair… Umm.. Happiness…  Time to get cracking on the birthday party planning.

I’m not one to go all out with huge, fancy blowout birthday parties, but I do like to do a couple special touches.  We typically have smallish backyard parties since we have April and June babies.  We invited our family and a couple friends who have toddlers the same age as Reece and Kat, keeps it somewhat manageable for us.

Since Reece and Kat are still pretty little, I have a good amount of control on all birthday party aspects.  At this age, let’s be real, it’s basically the parents party.  Regardless, I wanted to make it Kat’s party as much as I could.  She’s a pretty sunny baby and loves her unicorn costume, trains, gymnastics, baby dolls, legos…  So many interests and cool things, what to pick?!  After some brainstorming, and a lot of flip flopping, I settled on an art theme.  We do art class every week along with big brother and this was a chance to show off her artistic chops!  

I created a pinterest board to help inspire me.  Then I tried to figure out what could be done with minimal work and on the cheap.  

Decor

I hung up Kat and Reece’s art work around the house to showcase their beautiful work (read: scribbles).  Then I bought a unicorn table cloth and a couple little strings that had colorful mini poms on them and strung them up on a window and the front door. Kats Art themed birthday party decor 

Food

I tried to keep things colorful since it was an art theme.  I did a veggie rainbow platter and a bowl with all different colored fruit.  I stumbled upon some Chewies that had rainbow sprinkles on them.   Then we got lazy and bought some chicken bites, plus mac and cheese bites and baked them up. Hey, it’s a toddler party, right?

Kat nomming on strawberries
Kat nomming on strawberries

rainbow of fruit, birthday art food

Activity

Of course we have to have some painting at our Art Birthday party! So I bought a pack of board canvas, one for each toddler friend and restocked our paint.  Then I moved the craft table into the main room so the kids weren’t squished in the playroom. They spent about 5 minutes painting and crafting, the rest of the time they were either eating (80% of Kat’s time at least) or going to town with whatever toys they could find in the playroom.  Somehow, the house wasn’t a huge mess after the party, woohoo!Kat drawing in a coloring bookKat and friends painting

Cake

This is typically the ‘big’ thing I do for my children’s birthdays.  To create this cool looking cake, I baked SIX layers of cake then frosted it with vanilla frosting.  I melted white chocolate in several bowls and mixed each one with a different food coloring color.  Using a spoon, I dribbled the chocolate over the cake edge.  I let Reece help by letting him go to town with some dot rainbow sprinkles, covering the entire top.  To top it all off, I got a pack of paper poms.  A pretty big show stopper.  I thought with all the white chocolate it would be disgusting since I’m not really a fan, but paired with the cake it was yummy.Kat's rainbow art birthday cake

If you are planning an Art themed birthday party, I hope this gave you some ideas of what you could do.  Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks if you are interested in a Dr. Seuss theme, I’ll be posting Reece’s Dr. Seuss party!