Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Dream Day

Do you ever have one of those moments where you wish you were being followed by a photographer?

Have you ever had one of those times when the moment turns out better than expected and you wish someone was following you to document it?

To backtrack, when I traded in my state government issued business cards for my full-time Mommy card, I had a very clear picture of what this new job would be like. It would be full of my two, sweet, loving, and always obedient children listening to me and following me around. Each day would be chock full of perfectly planned activities like fingerpainting, playdates with themed meals, pudding painting, singing songs, learning letters, lunches with girlfriends, and sitting around in living rooms sipping coffee and talking about our families. Yep, I was going to live the dream! Was I delusional?

Yes, totally.

In my defense, I went back to work full-time when baby girl was six months old. About a month later, we found out we were pregnant with baby boy. So I had ten months to develop this dream. Come to find out, there wasn’t this other organized building of mommies. No one was organizing these perfectly planned playdates and coffees. And you wouldn’t believe the mess you make in your house when you are actually in it 24 hours a day.

Occassionally, I know I am doing this Mommy thing right. There are some dream-like moments and when we are lucky enough, they carry us on through until naptime. These are the moments when I wish there was an outsider, a professional photographer, following me and my monkeys and perfectly documenting the sweet looks, the discoveries, and total fun we are having. Then, I could keep those moments for so much longer.

Friday was as close to the “dream” as I think I can get on any given normal day. I dropped our daughter off at school and then shoved off to meet some girls for coffee. We sat and chatted about normal things, our three cute blond-haired boys in tow, without any major obstructions. Nice. Then we checked out a new local boutique in town. Also, nice. We chatted a little more and then headed to our next errands. My morning was slightly interrupted by running into another Mommy who was so stylishly dressed, made up, and ready to meet the world. I was instantly reminded of my pulled back hair, lack of make up, shorts, t-shirt, and messy kid. Yes, I was envious, but I digress from the dream. I quickly pulled myself out of it, hit a few more little shops and then made my way back to school.

There was more fun to be had this afternoon. One of my daughter’s classmates had invited us to a picnic lunch. It was going to be at a “greenspace." A what? Yes, I was a total skeptic.

You mean, no slide, no swings, no fence? What will we do? One Mommy suggested we bring a soccerball. Ok, soccerball, great idea. I diligently packed lunches, a blanket, and the ball. After school, we headed out to this "greenspace." It was a huge, slightly overgrown field with a gorgeous patch of old oaks with picnic tables underneath. I started to feel some calm, a weird feeling these days.

Then the girls started off, running towards the trees, through the long grass, sometimes holding hands, sometimes racing. They kicked up little field bugs and frolicked. From the moment we got to that field, the rest of the afternoon was fairly picturesque. We played in the trees, engaged in hide and seek, ran back and forth for red light/green light, and a held a classic game of chase. Under the disguise of “leading the children,” I even ran around in the field, arms spread out like an airplane. So free. The afternoon was completed when one Mommy brought out scarfs and the kids danced, flew, and just soaked up the sun.

They were kids, simply playing, in a field.

I wished I had thought of it.

I wished there was a breeze so we could skip naps and stay out there all afternoon.

I wished I could capture all of the simple moments between Mommies and their little monkeys.

Aww, pure fun.

As we marched back to the parking lot, the kids all red in the face, sweaty, yet still taking in the day, I knew we had done this one right. The kids loved it, and the Mommies did too.

As one of the Mommies said, “We shall plan other picnics and random acts of fun.”


With that day, I learned a little more about simple, in a very good way.

Thank you ladies, for a great morning. There will be more "random acts of fun!"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"You hurt my feelings"

Today's topic, Mommy guilt! Goodness, gracious, it can come from EVERYWHERE. Sometimes it is just plain guilt, unrelated to Mommyhood. These days though, I can gamble on it being related to being "Mom." Why does guilt get to win?

My current biting sources:
1. The stack of baby books that I need to fill out. They are just so daunting and now there are two sets.
2. The pile of thank you notes sitting here on my desk that I wrote, but never mailed from baby girls' third birthday party. It was in June. Now I feel like it is too late to send. I did send emails to everyone. I'm sorry for my lack of formality.
3. My desire to fit some time for myself in during the day. C'mon, just a daily shower without having to schedule it in!

Guilt, three. Mommy, none.

Hmm...maybe I can take care of some of these:
1. I resolve to start them one page at a time.
2. I'm so sorry for every thank you note I have missed. We dearly appreciate your friendship and that you have showered my children with presents. They love them. Promise. I will be better.
3. I'm not going to feel guilty about this anymore!

Guilt, half. Mommy, 2.5 (I will still worry about the thank you notes some)

This brings me to today, when my daughter even blatantly tried to lay it on me. About a month ago, she started school. She has just recently realized that her brother and I don't sit on the couch and cry between drop off and pick up. She has just started to miss us. Before school started, I regularly had a sitter come in one morning a week so I could take care of errands that required brainpower, go to the fabric store, and make appointments. When she started school, I cut back and opted for more date nights instead of a morning sitter. This week, I needed her. I scheduled an eye appointment, dentist appointment, and had a handful of errands that were "no kids required" for this morning. When I broke the news to my daughter that her favorite babysitter was coming over this morning, she replied "I have a fever." I said, "No you don't. Tell Mommy the truth." Then she rolled over and said, "You hurt my feelings," rolled back over and pouted. Really? Was she trying to guilt me into staying home? Yes, she was. She even gave me the eyes. I held back my laughter, remember, I mentioned that I "needed" a sitter, I was really over it this morning. This attempt didn't phase me at all.

Guilt, none. Mom, one.

Later, I started contemplating my stinker of a daughter. Should I have felt guilty? Probably not. I know she is having fun at home playing hide and seek; airplanes; and shi-bo-bos (a game the sitter made up). Was this just her way of saying she needs more Mommy-time? Ok, I will make an effort to be more available. Guilt, still none. Mommy, still one.

When I stop and think about it, there are guilt potentials at every big decision, and I can't even catalog all of the little opportunities that can keep me up at night. We haven't really started thinking about where she will go for kindergarten, but its only two years away. The decision on preschool was so monumental that when I went to hand over the deposit, I was let down by the anti-climatic, "thank you." I'm not sure what I expected, but some balloons, confetti, and a "Congratulations on your decision! We can't wait to help your daughter in her first steps toward Harvard!" would have been a good start. Big decisions are hard for me, but I digress.

So, here is to not giving guilt more points than it needs. Cheers! And to going to cook something healthy for dinner so I don't feel guilty about the fast food I gave my kids yesterday.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Unrealistic Expectations= CrAzY Mommy

Why is it that when we become Mommies we all of a sudden expect that we will have changed the way we work? I don't even think it is conscious. We have kids and then think that we are going to be the poster of perfection. Forget that the house was never ready for the spontaneous guest before, now it will be. Forget that you never made dinner before, now you will be able to easily do so EVERYDAY. Forget that you and the hubs weren't the couple who would coo at each other, now that you have created another person, you think you should be. Do we have to be ready to look up the number for the local looney bin before we are aware of all of this? Am I the only one?

This simple example, my friends, is what inspired me to post today. Yesterday was International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and I FORGOT! I know, the horror. I didn't remember until I had time to think, which was after the kids went to bed. It is one of my favorite random holidays. I even put it on all of our calendars so that we don't forget AND it is the right after another big day in our house, our Anniversary (yes, six years)! Before I had kids, I may have remembered this holiday because I would have gotten to work and looked at my calendar or someone else would have "Arghed" me in the hallway (that sounds kindof dirty!). However, now, when I am taking care of two small kids, a husband, a house, my parents were in town, a kid got hurt who had to go to Urgent Care for a x-ray (he's fine), celebrated our anniversary AND tried to pack 'fun' into the weekend which is always too short, I expect that I am going to remember to look at the calendar on a Sunday to be reminded that it was Talk Like a Pirate Day. And then, that I didn't remember when I wanted to and the kids were already in bed, I was angry at myself. Really!?! So angry in fact, that it's the day after, and this is why I am writing. ARGH!

I know a lot of amazing Mommies, very inspiring people who get up every day, take care of their kids/husband/pets/house/the world and no one is giving them that "atta girl" or Superwoman cape they deserve. Seeing these women work helps to keep me going. One of these Moms told me her secret was to "simplify." I really don't think I know the meaning of that word, but I am trying to make my expectations a little more realistic.

I would wear my cape, but it probably has boogers or graham cracker handprints on it, so it's in the never-ending laundry pile. Instead, I am off to get groceries, make a few appointments, do the dishes, plan a second birthday party, clean the laundry, pick up the playroom, pick up a kid from school, make lunch and then tuck kids in bed for naps.

Picture of my pirates last year:

Also, a shout out to my parents! Thank you for coming to town and watching our little pirates so we could go out and enjoy our anniversary. Always great to have you here! <3

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Is it easy to be Green?

Lately I feel as if messages about being "green" are all over. From bringing your own bags into the grocery store to billboards about picking up your dog's business, there are hints and tips everywhere. Throughout grade-school, I was a Girl Scout, and still "Leave it better than you found it" plays over and over in my head.

I want to believe that there are very few people who do not care about the environment. Really, at a minimum, it's not hard to sort out the recyclables and turn off the water while you brush your teeth. So, as we are bombarded with these messages, I have been thinking a lot about our family's "green-ness" lately. Are we green? We make an effort, but is that enough?

These questions were rolling around in my head, then I ended up in a conversation with a friend about it yesterday, then I saw the billboard again! I know that we do what we can. I feel like we try to be conscious about it but have to accept some of our own limitations. For example, I would feel so guilty every time we emptied the diaper can. However, I can't even keep up with our normal laundry. Sorry Momma Earth on that one.

We have some very green friends who are inspiring- cloth diapering, composting, gardening people. You just know they are "green." They make me want to do more. Is it weird that we peg some people as "green" but don't call others "wasters?" As I ponder it, I'm not sure that I can peg anyone I know as downright wasteful, which is great! I just can't help but wonder are there some easy things that we aren't doing?

Some simple things we do:

1. I try to use cups or reusable water bottles instead of paper or plastic. For example, I generally make my own coffee and use my own to go mugs. We rarely use juice boxes for the kids.

2. I try to use reusable containers, like Tupperware and Pyrex, for leftovers, picnics and school lunches.

3. If the kids can play with it, I let them. Our kids have too many toys and I feel like they can't be imaginative enough with so many of them. It is amazing what they can do with a cardboard box, paper-towel roll, or old container. At our house, boxes instantly become playhouses or cars. Paper towel rolls make great "logs" in the dump truck or pirate spyglasses. Old wipey containers have become jewelry boxes and a place to store Memory cards (the game). Save your paper towel and toilet paper rolls and check out this post by Little Speckled Frog called "Help! I have created a monster!"

4. Recycling. I do my best to sort and recycle. If I do forget my reusable bags, I ask for paper, and then stand it up next to the garbage can at home to collect paper products.

5. Reusable Grocery Bags. This is such a no brainer! They are actually so much easier than the store bags. Genius! I am working on being better at taking reusable bags with me to other places.

So, I'm looking for new and simpler ways to add more green to our lives. I know this sounds cheesy, but if we all try a little then it should help a lot, right? (See, I told you the messages are everywhere!)

Here are some cute resources:

Little Green Footprints:
A great site I recently found that promotes "real living." After all, everyone can be some shade of green. A beautiful site!

Little Speckled Frog:
LSF is a great resource for greener living and she blogs about her family's adventures. Her "Friends of the Frog" posts also share many green and mommy-driven companies

Friday, September 10, 2010

Where did HappyLittleMonkey come from?

The HappyLittleMonkey formed from my need to support my addiction, fabric, and a need for something "else." I think the HLM has mostly fed my addiction, but that is beside the point. I LOVE fabric and think I always have. As a kid, I didn't carry around some little blanket, instead I dragged around a comforter. So my addiction plus my need to find something for "me" while I am staying home with my kids equated to a need for an outlet. And to me it seemed like forever that I milled over this concept in my head and then, almost overnight, I had a concept, a name, and a store.

HappyLittleMonkey has focused mostly on baby blankets. The majority of my inventory is Swaddling Blanket Sets that you can ACTUALLY use to swaddle a baby. The big store ones always seem to shrink up into rectangles and don't even start as large enough to even wrap around a kid. Besides, the gifts I loved the most were the ones people chose especially for us. Something I wouldn't have thought to buy for myself. The boutique style gifts that Moms want to keep in their purse to show off to their friends. I wanted to make things that people will love.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


So, I have been searching for it. I have been wanting to blog, and I keep dabbling here and dabbling there to find something that will fit. Finally, today, I have it! I will talk about our adventures in parenting and crafting. Maybe even a little of how things we parents use and try out can be better! And yes, I will apologize in advance, because there will be plenty of butchering of our language.

Truth be told, I thought I would be a lawyer or a teacher (sortof a lawyer, just of a defined group of people), so the thought of giving things "trials" is pretty natural to me. I never thought I would be sewing for fun AND for other people. I have had a machine for as long as I can remember, and would dabble with things along the way, but it wasn't until my own child was born that I felt that I HAD to sew. Not in a bad way, it was like something I needed to do. My mother always sewed for us- holiday outfits and especially Halloween costumes. Oh, the costumes! They were beautiful and treasured. My daughter's first Halloween, she needed to be a ladybug. Oh, the pictures I was going to take! I just couldn't find a costume that in any way, shape, or form did the ladybug its proper due. So, I busted my old machine out of its case and fired it up. Amazing! The costume came out how I pictured it, also amazing. Then, in true "first-time Mom over the top" form, I decided at the last minute that the hubs and I needed costumes too. By last minute, I mean Halloween day. So I made him go the costume store to find something. He got me a bumble bee and he was the Bug Catcher. It truly was cute. I digress.

Now I was back sewing and having that machine all fired up just brought back so many memories of the great things my mom would make. The machine even made the room smell like when Mom would sew. It was great.

A couple of months later, I had just gone back to work, put my baby girl in daycare, and we found out that baby #2 was on his way! Hmmm. Now, I am one of those weird people who actually like working, dare I say love working, but I always thought that when I had kids I would stay home with them. So, after baby boy arrived, we made the move to Stay At Home Mommy. Unbelievably to me, it wasn't one fun thing after another to be home. Seriously, I was not expecting to even occassionally be ready to run out of the back door! (Come to find out this is pretty normal!) I needed some "me" time and was able to find some in sewing. So, like any good workaholic would do, I went out and bought a bunch of fabric and began sewing what I knew about- baby stuff!

My Mother-in-Law makes blankets for each of her grandchildren. She calls them "Night Nights" and they are treasured by each kid. These blankets are amazing! You can swaddle with them, lay them on the floor for playtime, and later they become best friends for bigger kids.

My second wave of inspiration comes from repeatedly being let down by store bought blankets that shrank up to some shape other than a square, were never big enough to swaddle in the first place, and were just plain baby-ish. I LOVED having one-of-a-kind and handmade items for my babies. People noticed those (and hopefully not my dark-circles) and I loved that they worked.

Being a Mom is work, quite a job that can never be explained until you do it. And if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by great Moms, hopefully you are also learning from them.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. There, I have started.