An Open Letter To Moms Sending Their Kid to School For The First Time

August 15, 2014

letter to moms sending their kid to school

Dear Overly Excited Mom With A Child About To Enter Public School For The First Time - 

This is an exciting time.  You and your precious child are about to take the leap into the unknown…public education.  Since you’re a reader of ‘mom blogs’ you probably also have Pinterest boards of back to school organizational ideas, new teacher gift ideas, fall class party ideas and any number of uber-crafty ways to impress your new teacher.

First – Pace yourself.  I know you’re excited and want to make a good impression but play it cool.  Go ahead and sign up for whatever volunteer time the teacher needs but remember that your child will be okay without you during school hours and probably have a fantastic time.  The fact that you will show up on the first day wearing a top that isn’t 3 sizes too small for your boobs and that your child is wearing clean clothes and shiny new shoes has already catapulted you into a category that you can be proud of.  

Second – Class parties.  Sign up for one class party.  One.  Give the other moms a chance to strut their stuff.  More than likely you will be called upon later in the year to plan a party when someone else has dropped the ball.  Just be patient.  You are allowed to help out at the other parties and bring your organic homemade cupcakes sweetened with agave nectar instead of sugar but just don’t rub it in their faces.  Don’t be alarmed when there are 5 jumbo bags of Doritos at any given class party and you witness your child stuffing their little face with this tempting contraband.  If class parties is the only place they get to gorge on chips and store bought cookies and not-so-natural juice; so be it.    All of that delicious orange Doritos dust will wash out and your child will survive.  Their poop may be orange for the next two days, but they will survive.

Third – Let’s talk about the night prior to the first day of school.  We call it Back To School Night in our district.  You know, the night when you get to meet your teacher, see where your child will be sitting, sign up for PTA and buy school t-shirts.  I know your school supplies have been purchased and lovingly packed in a reusable shopping bag and are waiting by the back door.  Mine are too.  But let me just break down back to school night for you.

Everybody and their dog will be crammed into your school this night.  Parents, grandparents, older siblings, crying babies will all make an appearance and the level of humanity in your school will have busted out like a blow out diaper after your baby ate prunes and you’re on an airplane and down to your last wipe.  I’m talking 1000% over capacity.  Every walk of life will pass through those doors and you will see things that will make you want to run screaming and order the latest online home school curriculum.  

You will see women in pajama bottoms and fuzzy slippers shuffling through the gym looking like she just rolled in from a bachelorette party that would give The Hangover a run for it’s money. 

You will see dads eating their dinner right out of the McDs bag because taking a few minutes to finish their meal in their car would never occur to them.  They will tip the super size fry container right into their mouth and then wipe their greasy fingers on their shirt.  Because paper napkins are just too much work and too dang fancy.

You will see grandmas with curlers in their hair.  Curlers.  Still in their hair.  At 6:30 p.m.  Whether they have had them in all day and are waiting to take them out for Bingo night or they are freshly set and will be taken out the next morning; you’ll never know.

You will see people who look like they should be in the hospital.  Like right now, hooked up to an IV, because you really don’t know how they are conscious and walking around.  You know those after meth user photos meant to scare teenagers into never taking meth?  Yup, that.

You will see women wearing make up that would make the Kardashian sisters proud and spray tans that will make you wonder if she has jaundice.  You will also finally know who buys the bump it from that infomercial promising to give your hair that Jersey Shore lift that all the ladies are after.

I tell you all this to prepare you and lessen the shock.  You will seriously question whether or not the unschooling trend where parents are just letting their kids figure things out for themselves, out in a field or on a farm, isn’t such a bad idea after all.  Take a deep breath, it will be okay.  As you bear witness to this insanity, keep a few things in mind.  You are not better than anybody else on this crazy train but you have something that other moms may not.  You have the energy and inspiration needed to help make your classroom a place where you actually want your child to go everyday.  Some of these parents are plumb worn out and at the end of the day it’s all they can do to check homework and sign forms.  Every single child in your school deserves positive attention, a nurturing environment and an education just as much as yours.

You must stay and be strong because your school needs caring parents like you and your partner.  Your teacher is a brave, brave person and needs you to support her.  Public school is a good thing.  It will teach your child lessons that they may not learn in a sheltered or privileged environment.  There will be bumps in the road in the years ahead but how else do we learn to be resilient and compassionate?  Your school needs you.  Your child needs you.  Teachers getting paid crap wages to do the most important work of all need you.

Chin up sister, you can do this.

Lovingly,

Another overly anxious mom

Back to School Essentials Giveaway

August 13, 2014

Back to School Essentials

I’m excited to announce that I’m going to have a regular, monthly segment on Oklahoma LIVE.  I’ve tricked them into thinking I know what I’m talking about when it comes to parenting and all the fun stuff you can get for your kids.  So, if you’re in Oklahoma, set your DVRs for the 2nd Wednesday of every month on KSBI, 4:00 p.m.

This month the topic is Back to School Essentials.  Check it out…

 

This stuff is pretty interesting.  It’s an all natural product that is supposed to help little ones who are overly anxious, having trouble sleeping, and restlessness.  This would be great for those first day of school jitters.

 

 Kids Relief Calm Syrup – 3.4 oz

 

Lice is going to happen.  Just accept it.  The best thing to do is stay calm, put on your big girl panties and be prepared.  This is a great alternative to the traditional, chemical lice removal products.  I have a friend who comes from a large, Italian family.  Recently they all got together for a family vacation and guess what?  Lice spread like the black plague making it’s rounds in 13th century Europe.  Thankfully, nobody died.  In fact, they used the Fairy Tales product and got rid of their little pests. 

 
Fairy Tales Lice Good-Bye Non-Toxic Pesticide Lice Removal Kit, 4 Fluid Ounce

How stinking cute is this back pack and lunch bag?  These are very lightweight and the perfect size for pre-school and kindergarden age kiddos.  Love it!

 

 Dabbawalla Bags Preschool Backpack, Hoot Owl
Dabba Walla Lunch Bag, Hop To It

Most schools don’t allow chewing gum (with good reason) but what to do when you have to talk to that cute girl in science lab?  Pop a mint! 

 
Spry Gems Berry Mints Xlear 40 Mints

Back to School Essentials GiveAway!

Because I love you I’m giving away this Back to School Essentials package.  Enter to win all of the above mentioned items.  The giveaway will be open through Saturday, August 16 and the winner will be announced on Monday, August 18th.  Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post.  However, the chance of me making any money off of them are slim to none.  

Find Your Village

August 7, 2014

find your village

Recently I read a blogger who had the privilege of being on the Huff post.  She waxed poetic about a village of women who loved each other, depended on one anotherother, helped each other in every family rearing occasion.  She lamented the loss of this intimate village that she has never had.

I get it, I really do.  The idea of raising your children with out the distractions of electronics, soccer tournaments and PTA meetings with the help of your best friends is enticing.  However, the life she speaks of is a romanticized version of Little House on the Prairie or a time in history when families had to depend on each other for their very survival.  I hear of modern day homesteaders and envision myself in a simple life of chickens clucking and scratching in the yard, up to my elbows in bread flour and my smallest is strapped to my back.  In this scenario my hair is long and red and curly, my husband is muscular and sexy with an Irish brogue and risks life and limb to stake claim to land to show me he loves me.  Oh wait, that was Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in Far and Away.  Sounds dreamy, but the reality of this by-gone era is that more than one of your children would have died in infancy and you may have lost your muscular, Irish-lover husband to a rattle snake bite.  At 38 you would look like you are 68 because life was friggin hard.  Rising before the sun, working all day, starting another meal just as the previous one was cleared away.  Let’s not even talk about laundry.  I shudder at the thought. 

The only place the Huff Post blogger could find her dream lifestyle today would be to join and Amish community or a hippy commune.  My guess is that 99.99% of us would give up after a week.

But what about that elusive village of women we dream of?  The one where you can laugh and cry with your girlfriends?  The one where they get you and love you even with your faults and quirks?  It’s out there; it just takes work to find it.  When I was a new mother I was desperate, with a capitol D, to find like minded women.  I had to search them out.  I joined Mothers of Preschoolers, I took my toddler to Gymboree, we joined a church and I scanned the congregation for someone with the same crazed look in her eye.  When we moved to a new town I had to start the process all over.  I volunteered in the community, I found another Gymboree, I took my little one to the library and the park and tentatively struck up conversations with other women who looked just as shy as I felt.

I have been fortunate enough to have found my village.  When one of us is in crisis the rest jump into action and take care of her.  We applaud each others successes and lift each other up in our sorrow.  It wasn’t easy to find this village, in fact it took years.  But I knew my kindred spirits were out there and I didn’t give up.  I test drove some friendships and over time discovered the ones that would work and the ones that wouldn’t.  

I promise your village is out there.  The thing about women is that they want to be needed.  They want to make casseroles and banana bread when someone has a new baby.  They want to watch their neighbor’s kids when she needs a break.  They want to spill the beans over relationships and tantrums and feel validated.  Being a part of a village gives us the sense of community that we crave.

It’s okay if the first village you try to break into doesn’t work out.  That’s the other thing about women; they can be fickle, opinionated and hard to get along with.  Just like romantic relationships; they don’t all work out and that is okay.  It’s actually a good thing.  Think about that boy you were crazy in love with at one time.  You thought you would be with him forever and then things fell apart.  You grew apart or met someone else, whatever the reason you look back on that relationship and think thank goodness that didn’t work out.  It can be like that with friendships too.  We don’t have to be best friends with every single woman we meet.

So, rather than pining away for the village of yesteryear, look around you and discover your village in the here and now.  They may be at your church, your gym, your bible study, your child’s pre-school or just down the street.  Where ever they are, they are waiting to be found.  Have you found your village?  If so, I rejoice for you.  If not, take heart, they are out there.

 ~~~

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5 steps to help your child learn to love reading

August 6, 2014

help your child learn to love reading

I have cracked the code when it comes to kids and reading.  Here are my 5 simple steps to help your child learn to love reading.  Get a pen…

1.  Read to your kid.

Your kid wants attention…from YOU.  Reading to your child will give them the attention they crave.

2.  Read to your kid.

Your kid wants to snuggle…with YOU.  There are lots of snuggles when reading to your child.

3.  Read to your kid.

Your child has an incredible imagination.  Reading to your child expands that gift.

4.  Read to your kid.

Kids learn by example.  When you read to them you are showing them that reading is important and that you love books too.

5.  Read to your kid.

It will lesson your mom guilt a few degrees for letting him watch TV all morning and play Minecraft all afternoon.

This isn’t rocket science, people.  You could kill yourself with keeping track of reading charts and sticker graphs and free pizza for ever 10th book read and metal ceremonies at the library.  That’s all well and good but when it comes down to it; keep it simple.  Read to your kid…a lot.  

Shock Value – Support small movie makers

August 1, 2014

Shock Value

(source)

I’m going to lay this all out on the table before we get started:  I don’t like horror movies.  Psychosocial thrillers, yes.  Paranormal scream-fests, no.  I have to close my eyes through the Paranormal Activity trailer for goodness sakes and I still get a little jumpy when our tv goes fuzzy thanks to The Ring.  I couldn’t sleep for a week after watching that.  Alien horror, no. thank. you.  I don’t want to imagine being ripped apart by an oversized, slimy cockroach type thing.  Aliens are our friends and I stand behind that if only to give myself peace for the one day we finally encounter them.

Movies that are all about torture gore, no.  You could not pay me enough money to watch Saw and all its subsequent train wrecks.  The weird thing is I don’t mind mythological gore.  Vampire movies; no problem.  I laughed through the Underworld movies.  Game of Thrones violence; I can take it.  Yes, it’s disturbing but they make beheadings such an everyday thing that it seems only natural that you would lose your head for betraying the king.  Rightful king or not.  I even loved Kill Bill.  Maybe because it was a woman kicking ass and taking names.  Girl power!  My exception to my weird horror movie rules is zombie horror.  Absolutely not.  Vampires are sexy, zombies are not.  Anything that wants to eat my brains and entrails is on my bad list and I want no part of it.

All that being said there is one horror movie I watched willingly.  Shock Value.  It is a micro-budget film about a struggling movie maker who black-mails a serial killer to star in his latest movie.  It’s a horror movie about making a horror movie.  I watched, and enjoyed, Shock Value because our brilliant friend, Russell Barrett, was one of the producers of the film.  Anthony Bravo wrote and starred in the movie.  Tony is one of the most hilarious writers I know and does a great job of playing a very intense serial killer.  

Interesting side note about Tony Bravo…he and I have worked together but I’ve never actually met him.  Russell Barrett (Shock Value producer) directed us in a show called Outerspace Astronauts.  Yes, Dear Husband and I were on a show on ScyFy.  It was pretty awesome.  You can see it on YouTube.  Anyhoo – Tony’s character was my favorite character on the show but the way the show was made we never had to be in the same room at the same time even though our characters interacted.  Figure that one out.

Dear Husband and I were treated to an advanced viewing of Shock Value several months ago (we’re all fancy like that).  I jumped at all the right spots, had to cover my eyes and even let out a yelp now and then.  By the end I was tense so you know it was good.  Check out the trailer:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intrigued?  Shock Value is available on Video on Demand (check iTunes) starting August 1.  If you’re a horror movie fan please check it out.  You would be supporting small movie makers instead of putting more money into the machine that churns out sequels meant to dip into your wallet.

What is your favorite scary movie?

 

DIY Fire Pit

July 29, 2014

DIY Fire Pit

Earlier in the spring I came across a DIY fire pit post from another blogger.  I pinned it and convinced Dear Husband that this fire pit would make a perfect addition to our back yard.  

I’m happy to announce that our DIY fire pit is a success!  We have had a few fires and many s’mores.  

My original idea was to fill in the seating area with pea gravel.  But after some calls to local dirt and gravel suppliers I realized pea gravel delivery is no small task.  Plus, we would have had to dig out the grass or kill it and after seeing how hard the dirt was just from digging out the small pit, I wasn’t willing to go to that much work.  Grassy seating area it is!

DIY Fire Pit Instructions 

These instructions are for a pit approximately 4 feet in diameter.  I say “approximately” because we bought enough stones to make it 4 ft pit but after digging and setting the first layer of stones, we realized we should have dug just a few inches wider.  Each layer is one stone smaller than it should be.  By the time we realized not all of the stones would fit we were too far in and tired to remove the first layer of stones and dig out some more dirt.  I’ve never been much for precision anyway.  I bet the guys who built Stone Heng missed the mark by a few inches and were like…”awww…f-it.  Who ordered these blocks so huge?  Their effing heavy! Just leave it; no one will notice anyway”

Supplies:

52 Retaining Wall stones  $2.25/ea

3 tubes Loctite Landscape Adhesive $4.97/ea

3 bags .5 cu ft pea gravel  $3.48/ea

bricks (optional)

spray paint

shovel

DIY Fire Pit

 

 Step 1:  Pick a spot that isn’t too close to any trees or have any branches hanging near it.  Pick a spot that is level (mostly).  Once you have found the perfect spot measure 4 feet across and mark both ends with spay paint.  Put a stick in the ground in the center of the two marks you just made.  Use a string tied to the center stick to help guide you around your circle, connecting the two dots with spray paint.

Step 2:  Start digging.  A sharp shooter shovel works really well to make a nice clean cut into the dirt along your line.  Dig down about 6-8 inches and remove all the dirt.  Make the bottom of your pit as smooth and level as you can by using a board to scrape away the bumps and clods of dirt.

DIY Fire Pit

Step 3:  Lay your first layer of stones around the edge of your pit.  You may have to add or take away a little dirt under the stones to make sure they are level.  There will be space between the stones and the wall of dirt.  That’s okay.

So here’s how this played out for us.  We put down the first circle and wondered why we could only fit 12 stones.  We knew that the size of these stones made a 4 ft. circle with 13 stones.  Well, when I dug out my pit I dug on the inside of my spray paint mark.  I should have dug on the outside of the mark.  Just those few inches all the way around made it so we could only fit 12 stones.  At that point I was getting tired and not willing to pull out the stones and dig out a few inches all the way around.  We adjusted the stones little by little until 12 made a circle and they were all touching.

DIY Fire Pit

Step 4:  It’s time to stack the next layer of stones.  Before you place the first stone, apply a few generous dollops of landscape adhesive (you will need a caulk gun).  Stagger the blocks so that one block is on top of the joint where two blocks come together.  Glue, stack, glue, stack, glue, stack.  This process goes faster if you have a partner.

Continue until you have stacked 4 levels of stones.  We had enough stones to make 5 layers.  After making a fire, making s’mores and staring at it with my head cocked to one side, we decided 4 levels of stones is the perfect amount.

Step 5 (optional): Line the bottom with bricks.  We had bricks left over from when we put up a fence that needed brick columns.  Having a smooth, hard surface will make it a little bit easier to shovel out the ashes.

Step 6:  Fill in the space between the stones and the inside of wall of dirt with pea gravel.  Put down enough pea gravel to create a little border all around the bottom of your fire pit.  It just looks nice and keeps grass in check.

DIY Fire Pit

You may be wondering…where did you find those cute red chairs?  And where did you get those cool tree stumps that make perfect side tables? The chairs are from Lowes and were only $19 each.  The tree stumps are from a friend who lost a big oak tree in the last ice storm and had to chop it down.  Next time you have a huge ice storm, drive around town a week or so later and you will see these awesome logs sitting out in front of houses waiting for the city to pick them up.  

DIY Fire Pit

This photo was taken before we decided 5 layers of stone was too much.  Thankfully we didn’t glue down the top layer.  

DIY Fire Pit

 

DIY Fire Pit

 

We have loved using our fire pit this summer.  Roasting s’mores or relaxing with my sweetie; either way it was completely worth the effort.

 

 

 

70s Playlist

July 25, 2014

Earlier this month we threw a 1970s themed party.  Among the polyester, platforms and mustaches was an amazing 70s playlist.

Dear Husband took it upon himself to create the perfect 70s playlist.  He worked on this bad boy for weeks, possibly months.  All the music had to be from 1974 or earlier and was a perfect mixture of soul, funk, rock and very early punk.  

He had 4 hours of music plus an alternate list for the late night guests.  This is just a sampling of his master list:

Carl Davis – Kung Fu Fighting

Barry White – Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Babe

Love Unlimited Orchestra – Love’s Theme

Stevie Wonder – You Haven’t Done Nothin’

Kool & The Gang – Jungle Boogie

Jackson 5 – Dancing Machine

Neil Diamond – Cracklin’ Rose

Hall & Oats – Rich Girl

Elvis Presley – Suspicious Minds

Bill Donaldson & The Haywoods – Billy Don’t Be A Hero

Andy Kim – Rock Me Gently

The Isley Brothers – That Lady

Friends of Distinction – Grazing In The Grass

Isaac Hayes – Theme from Shaft

David Bowie – Rebel Rebel

Chicago – 25 or 6 to 4

The Commodores – Machine Gun

Bay City Rollers – Saturday Night

Sweet – Ballroom Blitz

B.J. Thomas – Hooked On A Feeling

Billy Preston – Nothing From Nothing

The Kiki Dee Band – I’ve Got The Music In Me

Led Zeppelin – Over The Hills And Far Away

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a listen and let me know what you think of our super 70s playlist.

 

This month my friend Mari from Mari, Quite Contrary is hosting a mixed tape link up.  Got a mixed tape of your own?  Check it out and link it up.
Mari, Quite Contrary

 

Washing Machine Woes

July 24, 2014

maytag washing machine

36 – Facebook conversations about washing machine brands and how they just don’t last like they used to 

32 – washing machine reviews I read online

12 – phone calls with my repairman discussing what I should do

10 – Days my washing machine was been broken

9 – Facebook friends who made repairman recommendations

6 – loads of laundry ready and waiting for the new washer

3 – tweets with Maytag hoping they would throw me a bone

2 – loads of laundry that I did at my mother-in-law’s house

1 – underwear left until I would have to hand wash or go commando

 

 

1970s Themed Party

July 22, 2014

This summer Dear Husband turned…ahem…40.  To celebrate this momentous occasion we threw a 1970s themed party.  Themed dress required.

1970s themed party

Right now you may be wondering several things…Where can I get a kick-ass terry cloth jumpsuit like that?  Is that a wig you’re wearing?  How can you guys possibly be so awesome?

Lets start with the kick-ass terry cloth jumpsuit.  Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find one in any store or online.  My jill-of-all-traits friend made it for Dear Husband.  The inspiration came from Goldfinger.  I know, Goldfinger is 1964, but you still wear clothes you’ve had for 10 years.  Right?  We just showed her a picture and she replicated it.  She is ah-maze-ing.

Next, the hair.  

Dear Husband suggested I make my hair look like Bernadette Peters from The Jerk.  Because I love him very much I was happy to turn my normally straight hair into a ’70s white girl fro.  

Here’s how this went down…The morning of the party I went to a salon and had them roll it like I was getting a perm.  I made sure to emphasize that I was NOT getting a perm and under no circumstances should she put the perm solution on my hair.  I left the rollers in all. day. long.  I even had to go out in public with rollers in my hair.  By 5:30 I couldn’t take it any more and had to get them out of my hair.  BFF helped me get the most lift possible with lots of back combing and three different types of hair spray.  

1970s themed party

True love says I will get a perm for a day

Speaking of hair…that is a real mustache on Dear Husband.  He has sported a beard for over 3 years and shaved it off just so he could have a sweet stash and chops.  I think he is going to start working on his beard tomorrow.

It take a lot of work to be this awesome.  We worked on the yard for months and Dear Husband worked on his playlist for weeks.  Since food was relatively easy (pizza rolls, jell-o salad, pretzel dogs, chip/dips & pie) we got all fancy with the drinks.  The Clinton Cooler is a drink that Dear Husband’s dad made up a long time ago and has been serving pool side to keep things refreshing.  Cap’n & Ging is a drink we made up with our dear friends when we lived in LA.  Amazingly it tastes like a cream soda.  Hurricane Carmen (named after the major tropical storm of 1974) I made up on the fly in the liquor store.

1970s themed party

 

 I was so impressed with our guests.  They all really put thought into their costumes and came ready to party like it was 1974.  Hello double knit and polyester.

1970s themed party

 

1970s themed party

 

1970s themed party

 

1970s themed party

 

1970s themed party

 

Happy birthday Dear Husband.  You’re a keeper…with or without the mustache.

Finding Family Activities

July 18, 2014

I’m constantly on the look out for fun activities for the kiddos in our area.  Most of the time I rely on word of mouth and FB but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go to a website and find all sorts of family activities near you?  

family activities

 

Enter Chatter Block.  Chatter Block is a new site that gives you a list of all the family activities in your area.  They currently have 13 US cities and 10 cities in Canada you can search to find all the fun stuff to do.  Once they get the word out about how awesome their site is they will be adding more cities.  A quick search of the OKC area brought up tons of kid and family activities.  You can also narrow the search to a certain date, teens, kids, concerts, weekends, free, and libraries/museums.

Right now Chatter Block has a $500 Toys R Us giveaway going on.  What?  $500 smackers?! Yes, sign up for their newsletter to enter.  Click here.

So, what is your favorite family activities in your area?