Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Daily Fails and Triumphs

It's days like these where I feel like I have lost the game.  There is no actual winner, of course, but as far as metaphors go, motherhood can surely be compared to a match, a game, a contest.

The days where I am losing the race are those when the television is on too much, too many foods from cardboard boxes with artificial ingredients are served, too little outdoor physical play occurs.  They are the days when we see few if any other people or even manage to leave the lazy comfort of our home.  I haven't have a moment to write or create anything.  And when I haven't had 2 minutes without a small child at my heels.  The days where one or both of my children seem to be switched to constant whine mode.

The days where I'm winning the race-- the one I fight constantly with only myself-- are great.  Really.  They are the ones where we laugh, we dance, we eat wholesome meals.  They are the ones where I happily greet my husband with a smile and kiss when he walks in the door in the evening.  The ones where we have had an adventure or even simply successfully tackled another day of preschool drop offs and pick ups and connected with friends.  When I have had a chance to tap away on my computer in peace.  The ones where, after the kids are tucked in bed, I feel a sense of satisfaction and pride.


(I love the days where I can appreciate something like this.)


I suppose it's the second category of days that gets me through the first, much heavier, more emotionally taxing first.  The days where I am losing, sinking in a huge pile of plastic toy quicksand, can come out of nowhere.  They strip me of my joy and creativity, my usual enthusiasm for all the little things.  At their worst, they are the days I wonder if I am even cut out for all of this at all.  Not that there is any going back.

No one is keeping score.  Not that I know of, at least.  There will be no grade at the end of the term, though there is no real conclusion.  But it is nearly impossible for me not to compete against my own picture of how a day should look, how I should be able to care for my children and for myself, and what I should accomplish.  It is impossible for me to obliterate my belief that to give my family the very best I can every single day is the only way to succeed at this lifelong marathon.


~Julia @ Frantic Mama




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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Easy DIY Preschool Projects

I'm at it again.  Sub-zero temperatures and an endless week are the necessity of invention [for parents], I suppose.

I wanted to share a couple of simple projects I did with/for my 4-year-old son.

Here's the first one.  It's called a Feely Box.



It doesn't look too complicated, right?  I hate throwing away shoe boxes (so many things we can do with them!), so I had my son color his and put stickers on it.  Then I used duct tape to make a flexible "top" for it (you still need a hand-size opening).

We had fun putting different stuffed animals, character figurines, and miscellaneous trinkets in it, and we took turns keeping our eyes closed while trying to guess the object just by touch.  Even my 2 year old [kind of] got the hang of it.



Here's my second simple project.  It's a sight word game I made up on the fly.  We'll call it something spectacular, like "Words and Cars."




I have a sight word deck I've been working on with my son for little bursts of time when he shows interest.  He also loves cars.  In this game, I spread out some of the words he knows; I then read a word on one of the cards and he had to put his car on top of the correct word.  It was a fun matching game for both of us.  The best part:  he felt very successful and proud of himself.



Last but not least, another cardboard project!  In under 5 minutes, I created a little town scene for my kids using an opened box, markers, figurines, stickers, cars [of course], and items from a Michael's felt dinosaur scene set (that also had a volcano, trees, etc.).



And that's all I've got, people!  I hope it inspires you to find new ways to use 'stuff' around your house when you are cooped up with the kids for one too many hours/days/weeks.

Need more indoor activities?  I wrote a winter survival guide, here.

What simple little projects have you completed recently?  

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Things I Can't Let Go {Mommy Nostalgia}

When I was growing up, you might say I had a mild hoarding problem.  Everything seemed sentimental to me-- old photo negatives, dozens of stuffed animals, clothes I still "might" wear someday.  Underneath my bed, you might find piles of old magazines, essays I had written years ago, and receipts I would never look at.  When I was about 14, I remember getting very angry at my mom for giving away my long lost Teddy Ruxpin that I hadn't played with in about 10 years.

Something in me switched in my 20's when I joined in the popular past-time of clutter-clearing.  Nothing was safe:  old newspapers, half-burned candles, unworn pants, random textbooks I had hung on to since high school.  I even threw out a bunch of old photos that hadn't made it into albums.

However, with my kids, I find myself slipping back into my old ways.  There are certain objects I simply cannot seem to part with.


Here are my Top 3...


My son's first pair of winter boots.








Baby blankets.





Tiny coats and jackets.





What about you?  Are you constantly on top of clearing the clutter, or do you hang on to things indefinitely?


~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Five [Frugal] Friday Faves!

I love me some Friday Faves, and this time I wanted to share 5 of my favorite FRUGAL faves because who doesn't love to save a little money?


1.  Luvs Diapers.  Nothing glamorous here.  I'm like the mom in their commercial, with their slogan something along the lines of "preferred by 2nd time moms everywhere."  Luvs are so much cheaper than Pampers and Huggies, and they work just as well.  If you get them in an Amazon Subscribe & Save order, it's even better.





2.  Amazon Subscribe & Save.  Speaking of Amazon, I definitely recommend enrolling in their Subscribe & Save program for anything you buy regularly-- diapers, wipes, formula, even shampoo, lotion, and soap.  One less trip to the store can be a godsend when you have babies and toddlers in the house, PLUS you get a great discount.







3.  Once Upon a Child Stores.  This is my favorite place to buy toys for my kids.  I recently got an awesome Lightning McQueen motorized toy ($50 on Amazon) for $5.50 (and my son was in heaven)!  Love, love, love their toy selection.  And I like to think it's helping the environment just a little by preventing something that isn't broken from ending up in a landfill.



4.  Homemade Playdough.  This is a cheap, easy way to make an indoor activity for your kids without having to buy new stuff (I bet most of the ingredients are already in your pantry, except perhaps for that pesky cream of tartar).  See my 5-ingredient recipe here.


(This is the only time I might even slightly resemble those mums! :))



5. Nuance Salma Hayek Renewed Radiance Brightening BB Cream SPF 30 (only available at CVS).  This depends on how much you typically spend on cosmetics, but I adore this drugstore find-- a tinted SPF face cream ($15) that doesn't make my sensitive skin break out.  It may not be 2 bucks, but one tube lasts for months, and nothing makes my skin look and feel better.  Plus, it protects your skin from UV rays.  Even my family notices my skin on Facetime when I am wearing it.  I once read something like, 'if it makes you feel like a million bucks, it's worth it.'  Agreed!





What are your favorite money-saving finds?  

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

P.S.  None of my Faves are ever sponsored.  I just like them :).

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

What Would you do Differently?

Is there anything in your life as a new parent with your first newborn that you would do differently, knowing what you do now?

Perhaps it's the little things that you would change.  Or is it something more global?  Then again, maybe there is nothing you would have done differently [and if so, what's your secret?].

I would change a few things about my first couple of years as a mother.

If I could wave a magic wand, I would change how anxious I was to leave the house with a newborn, and how I felt so tied to the clock for every single feeding and nap.

I would try harder to get out in the world more with my son when he was a baby, regardless of whether or not it messed with a nap schedule and he slept in the car, or if he took a bottle instead of nursing (oh, the glory of the bottle once I gave up the guilt!).

Maybe I'm underselling myself and simply looking backwards with dark-colored glasses.  We have plenty of pictures as evidence that we did interesting, fun "stuff" together as a new family of 3-- music classes, airplane rides to visit family, walks in the stroller.  I managed to keep us all relatively healthy.  But looking back, I was always so worried.  You can't see that in the photos.



(Image from an article I wrote on WhattheFlicka)


The worries haven't altogether vanished, though they have changed.  Mostly, I worry that my own issues have had a negative impact on my son; did he have a difficult toddlerhood because of me?  Is his aversion to large groups because of his homebody mom?   Does he prefer to always have an adult next to him because I over-involved myself from the start?  (See?  I can still worry plenty).

I think I would have enjoyed having a baby much more if I had been able to let go, especially in the company of other moms.  Maybe it is easier to relax if you get to spend afternoons with your baby along with your sister or mother or a best friend.  I didn't have any of that when my son was a baby.  That isn't anyone's fault...or maybe, if anyone's, it is my own.  Either way, it is what it is.  I was underprepared for the reality of having a baby and how alone I would feel when entering that new world of motherhood.

Going forward, with my kids now 4.5 and 2, I actively try to stress less about the little things, even though it doesn't come naturally.  Already, the issues that seemed so big the first couple of years now seem tiny-- what baby food they were eating or spitting out, what went in the bottle, what nap schedule we were on, what was playing on the television.

Even though I lean introverted, now I try to make and strengthen relationships with friends-- even my online blogging friends-- as they are my equivalent of the modern day village.  Even that is hard for me at times.  Still, that's what I'm trying to do differently as my family continues our little journey together.

What about you?  What would you change about your early days of parenthood?  Everything?  Nothing?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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