Monday, December 28, 2015

Frantic Mama's 5 Friday Faves: Winter Edition


Snow has fallen. The days are short, the nights long. When we do venture outside, we shuffle around in our big down coats, trying to remember hats and gloves and mittens. We have abandoned sneakers and sandals for boots and thick wool socks.

Winter has arrived, and truthfully, it's not my favorite season of the year here in Minnesota, primarily because of the lack of time outside in the sun, and the cold, dark afternoons.

However, I do have five favorite things to share with you this winter that help me enjoy this time of year a little more.


1.  Starbuck's Instant Peppermint Mocha packets. Recently, I ordered a small specialty drink at the coffee shop and it was almost FIVE DOLLARS! That's insane, right?! But I can't go without my afternoon cup of caffeine. These packets aren't cheap, but they're still way less expensive than one at the store. Perfect for a treat on a cold winter afternoon.



2.  Pedialyte pops. I mentioned these in my sick post. They are worth mentioning again. Run-- don't walk-- buy a box, and put half in the freezer. Then you'll be ready the next time your child comes down with a stomach bug.



3. Rodan and Fields Microdermabrasion paste. A couple of my friends recently started selling this skincare brand. I tried the microdermabrasion paste and am now hooked. I have never had a scrub that makes my skin feel this smooth!


4.  Never Will I Ever (and then I had kids!) is the most recent anthology that yours truly contributed to. I've read it a couple of times, and I think it's a great book for anyone who has children. I only wish I could've had a copy to ease any motherhood guilt I felt my first couple of years as a parent. Purchasing a copy will support all of the authors who worked so hard on this project.



5. Not Your Father's Root Beer. I ordered this spiked root beer at a restaurant recently, worried it would be too sweet. It's not. It's just...awesome. Cheers!





What are some of your favorites this time of year? Share any fun things or ideas that help you enjoy the coldest months of the year!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Find me on: Facebook & Instagram

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Best Coffee Memes


I'm noticing a trend among my fellow humans: We like coffee. A lot.

Whether you drink it for the energy boost or because you like the taste (or both), there's nothing like a good, hot cup of coffee, amiright?

Here are a few of my most recent caffeinated memes.

[If you have a minute to share them on Pinterest, Facebook, or whatever else you have, that would make my day! Either way, enjoy!]


Here's my sister's actual 'coffee station.' I'm impressed. THIS is commitment:






And this, below, is a true story:

This is one of my first memes to go officially "viral."



I can't resist a good owl meme:




This might be my favorite mug of all time:

It really gets me.



Cheers!

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Find more of me: Facebook, Pinterest, & Instagram

Happy Holidays to all of my wonderful readers!





Monday, December 14, 2015

Unfinished Wood DIY: Dining Room Hutch

My husband and I have wanted a hutch/buffet/cabinet for our dining room for, well...ever. But have you seen how much a nice, well-made one costs? Argh. Needless to say, our dream hutch was on a never-ending backburner.

Alas! My husband's parents had this old, unfinished solid wood cabinet/hutch in storage for years; I noticed it collecting dust for a long time, and eventually I broached it with the hubby: "Think we could have that?"

It was unfinished, yes. The hardware was dated, yes. But FREE? You can't get a better deal. He was on board, and I like to think his parents are happy that one of their kids is using it.

The furniture in our dining room is black with an aged, distressed look to it. Black furniture isn't my favorite look per se, but you make do with what you have, right?

I watched some YouTube tutorials on painting furniture to give it that same look.

[The best one I found is on this blog, The Yellow Cape Cod].

Here's what I needed (much of which we already own because I'm obsessed with painting & refinishing projects):

Paintbrushes
Primer
Black Paint (Flat Black latex paint by Rustoleum)
Sandpaper
Finishing Paste/Wax (Minwax)
Wood Stain Pen
4 new knobs and 2 pulls 

All that added up to about $50.

The rest was all a labor of love!
(And yes, it took a long time.)


Here's the base and top before I did anything:

Base 


Top




Here's the after:




In short, here's what I did:

Removed all hardware
Lightly sanded entire unit
Dusted...
Painted one coat of primer (let dry)
Painted two coats of black paint (about a day apart)
Sanded edges and corners where I wanted it to look worn
Dusted...
Used a Wood Stain Pen (like this) over the newly exposed wood:
Let stain dry...
Applied a big glob of dark paste wax to a cheese cloth and rub it around the entire unit
Let the wax dry about 10 minutes, then wiped excess off with a cloth
Installed new hardware (I ordered mine from Home Depot)



We love it. We love it even more because we didn't go into debt buying it! Now we finally have a place to display beautiful wedding gifts that had been tucked away in the basement for years.



P.S. Curious what a hutch like this might cost at, say, Pottery Barn?


It's on "special" now for $2,799! I could buy a decent horse with that! Or a magnificent vacation! Or a lifetime supply of K-cups!


Oh, and before you go thinking, "Wow, she's really on top of things, painting a big piece of furniture like that with two little kids at her heels!" Let me tell you, friends, I've been itching to paint the dining room walls for FOUR YEARS! It has yet to happen. I also rarely vacuum, shave my legs, clean the kitchen, workout, or cook involved meals. You win some, you lose some, and I pick my battles :).

What about you? What projects are you hoping to tackle sooner rather than later?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Psssst! You can read a funny little post I wrote for Bon Bon Break here.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Science of Parenthood Blog Tour!


Looking for a hilarious, creative book all about the ridiculousness of parenthood? Look no further, Science of Parenthood has arrived.

I rarely laugh out loud when I'm reading, but I did with this one. It really is that funny. At least, it is those of us who are in the trenches of parenthood.



We've BEEN there, and so have the authors-- the poop, the pee, the puke-- all the bodily fluids that seem to go hand-in-hand with babies and children. The pregnancy symptoms, the sleep deprivation, the tear-your-hair-out moments.

The authors, Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler, manage to illustrate all of it in a way that is, for lack of a better term, deliciously digestible. And FUNNY.

I had the chance to ask them a few questions I thought would be relevant to my dear Frantic Mama readers:

What is one of your most frantic memories of life as mother to small children?

Norine: Just one? Really? There are so many. I hadn’t done much babysitting as a teen, and I went into motherhood pretty clueless about how to take care of a baby, so my learning curve was steep. But if I had to pick a single moment, I’d have to choose our trip to West Palm Beach when our son was four weeks old.
We’d driven down from Orlando for the weekend to visit childhood friends, Anthony and Lisa, of my husband’s. The guys went fishing in the morning, and Lisa and I were supposed to meet them around noon for brunch. I got the diaper bag packed, got the baby dressed, got myself ready to go and just as we were leaving, I had to change the baby’s diaper. What a fiasco! No sooner had I gotten the diaper open, when my boy started spraying pee everywhere! He got me, the bed, his face. He’s screaming. I’m trying to block the spray. There’s pee everywhere. So I get him out of the pee-soaked clothes. Wipe him off and get new clothes on him. Of course, I need to put diaper cream on him. And while he’s wiggling, I manage to get that thick, white cream everywhere but his butt. Now he’s covered in pee and diaper cream.
I was seriously having a moment there because we were guests in the condo and my kid had just soaked the bed. Plus, we were already late for brunch, and he really needed a bath. I was overwhelmed, near tears and embarrassed. But Lisa, who had two older girls, came to my rescue. She matter-of-factly scooped up my boy, ran some tepid water in the sink and gave him a quick bath, all the while assuring me that everything was fine. The guys would wait. The bedclothes would be washed. It was all good. Thank goodness Lisa was able to talk me down off the ledge, assuring me that this stuff happens to every mom. If that’s not my most frantic moment, it’s definitely in the top five!


Jessica: The first time I flew with my son alone. He was under a year, and we were flying from Las Vegas to Connecticut to visit family. That is a looooong flight... I spent the entire flight walking him up and down the aisles while he held my fingers, singing little songs, pulling an endless supply of snacks and entertainments out of my bag, nursing and trying to figure out how the hell to change a diaper in that teeny tiny airplane bathroom. That was the first in a long series of him falling asleep exactly five minutes before our plane landed, so that I had to carry his limp, suddenly thousand-pound body as well as my giant bag of tricks through the airport. I worked harder on that 6-hour flight than I’ve probably worked in my entire life. I have no idea how parents with more than one kiddo do it.

(Side note, Me: Flying with my kids is always one of the most frantic things I do each year, though it gets a little easier each year.)



What has been one of the hardest parts of motherhood for you?

Norine: Trying to balance working with being an active, engaged mom. It’s been constant struggle for me... And when you work at home, it’s very hard to switch gears, from writing to momming. There’s this constant tug from both sides: when I’m writing, I always feel like I’m missing out on something my son is doing. And when I’m spending time with him, it’s hard not to feel guilty about neglecting work. It’s no doubt my own neurosis and guilt that keeps me from being “in the moment” and enjoying myself. Send prayers! Or meds!  


Me: I can completely relate to that! Finding time to write when you have young children in the house is very, very challenging.

Jessica: Early on, I would say it was the lack of sleep...Now, managing screen time is a major challenge, and part of that is managing my own laziness. I also work from home, and I often find myself yelling from behind my laptop for him to get off screens, like a big fat hypocrite. It’s so much easier NOT to have the fight, you know?

Me: Yes, I know!

What is your favorite part of being a mom?

Norine: I would have to say the snuggling. My son Fletcher is 9, and I feel pretty fortunate that he is still a very snuggly boy...I know the snuggling days are numbered so I’m trying to make the most of them before he’s too cool to acknowledge he even has a mother.


Jessica: Watching him evolve. I love seeing how he is maturing and changing. Some of the things that come out of his mouth … it’s like, are you 11 or 70? I had two younger brothers so there is a familiarity to watching him turn from a little boy into someone verging on a teen, and I love seeing his artistic talent develop, because it’s something we share.

Me: I also love snuggling with my kids [when they'll let me], and one of my greatest joys as a mother is getting to see my children develop their sense of selves and talents.


A photo of the authors, Norine and Jessica.


Aren't the authors awesome? I wish they lived next door and I could just follow them around all day :).


P.S. I have a post up on the fantastic site, Sammiches & Psych Meds today. Check it out, here!.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Thursday, December 3, 2015

[Simple] Christmas Magic


For those of us who celebrate the holiday, Christmas is fast approaching, and with it the excitement, stress, fun, and hopefully even a bit of magic.

I hear lots of people say it's all "so stressful." I can see how. Extra cooking, travel, visitors, expenses, etc... it can all add up to a challenging month.

I'm trying not to feel that way during what is supposed to be the "most magical time of year." I want to enjoy it, not dread it!

So let's brighten the mood, shall we? Here are five of my favorite [simple!] holiday traditions that help keep my family in the spirit during this time of year.




1.  Decorating: Our tradition is to pick out a tree the day after Thanksgiving. There's no rush, no fuss. We we simply go to a tree lot and let the kids point to a big one and say, "that's it!" Then we let them "help" decorate it that day. It gets us all in the mood for Christmas.


Check it out! My 3 y.o. took this wonderfully blurry shot of our tree this year.

A blurry tree = the perfectly imperfect Christmases at our house.


2.  Cookies: I love love love giving presents to friends, family, teachers, or really anyone. However, I don't have oodles of extra money to spend, and most adults don't "need" something I pick out for them, right? Like, how many times have you looked for a gift receipt on a random re-gift suspect from your aunt?

I've jumped on the cookie bandwagon, and I enjoy making a ton of cookies (not all at once!), letting the kids dump sprinkles on them, and putting them in cute containers. Who doesn't like an extra box of cookies this time of year? Bonus: I've spent time rather than money making something for friends, and I'm not adding clutter to their already busy homes.


My elves at work...
See? They really did "help" [and I think there are still sprinkles in every kitchen crevice.]



Voila! I'm pretty proud of how they turned out this year :).


3. Elf on the Shelf: Yes, yes, I know. People hate the elf. We like him! My husband and I have fun finding a new place in the house each night that our children will discover the next morning. Again, Elf on the Shelf is just a fun, simple tradition that only happens one month of the year in our home.

The elf himself!



4.  New Jammies: Every year between Christmas and Thanksgiving, I give both of my kids a cute new set of pajamas. They look forward to them, and I love picking them out. My daughter's set this year is in cozy turquoise flannel with pictures of hot cocoa and cookies on them, and my son's set features Snoopy and Woodstock. Cuteness!


5.  Cliche Holiday Movies: Yikes! Embarrassing, right?! Oh well, I cannot deny it: my husband and I cannot resist a good old fashioned Hallmark Christmas movie, often featuring members of the Full House cast or other C list stars you kinda sorta remember from your youth. Who doesn't want to unwind at the end of the day with a carefree, simple little heartwarmer?


All I can do is...SMILE at this cheesy classic Hallmark promo!

And you guessed it-- I'll probably tune in.


Like most people, I will probably always feel some anxiety during the holidays, but I am also determined to help make the holidays FUN for our family. I want to create happy memories for my children, and for my husband and me.

Even the simplest traditions take work, but I think it's worth it.

How about you? How do you celebrate the holidays in your home? What are your favorite new or old traditions?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Find me: Facebook, Pinterest, & Instagram

P.S. If you also happen to love horses like I do, I have another article up on HorseChannel.com. You can find it here!