A Toast to Hot Mess Moms

The illusion of the “perfect mom” is officially shattered. I’d like to thank the Internet for this wonderful revelation. If you are a fan of “Scary Mommy” or “The Honest Toddler," you know that entire websites are dedicated to “Hot Mess Moms.”
Everyone knows a Hot Mess Mom. Many of us consider ourselves to be one. It’s incredibly liberating to see women embrace the imperfect side of motherhood. So many of us are letting go of the pretense that we have it all together.
We admit we sometimes sniff a pair of our kid’s jeans and determine they are worthy of one more day of wear. We brazenly drop off our store-bought cookies at the school bake sale, leaving the “Sale” sticker right on front. We Pin a hundred healthy crock pot meals but still end up in the drive-thru for dinner.
What fascinates me about the Hot Mess Mom is the rose-colored glasses through which we see each other.
I see moms in the school drop-off line and I wonder how they manage to get their hair and make-up done so perfectly. Meanwhile, I have wet hair and yesterday’s mascara under my eyes.
I feel like I’m wearing a Scarlet H, labeling myself the Hot Mess Mom of the day.
But then I realize another mom may be behind me in line wondering how I always remember to return books on library day or to pack gym shoes for P.E. (Spoiler alert- I don't. You just only see the days I do remember.)
She doesn’t notice my wet hair and my raccoon eyes, like I don’t notice her kid’s lunchbox is full of leftover pizza.
Hot Mess Moms have waved the white flag in the “Mommy Wars.” We don’t have time to argue about appropriate screen time or the mortal dangers of jarred baby food. We’re too busy trying to keep our sanity because parenting is hard.
Instead of sitting in playgroups and trying to one-up each about our kid’s achievements, we like to share a bottle of wine and bond over how sticky our kitchen counters are. And we are in no rush to clean them.

Cheers to the Hot Mess Moms.
Me, every night after bedtime.


Read Together. Every. Single. Day.

As a child, my mother read to me every night. Her rule was 20 minutes of reading for every child at bedtime. Even when she traveled out of town, she would leave behind a cassette tape of herself reading. We would follow along with the book in our hands.
Not surprisingly, reading to my daughter seemed natural – and is beneficial to her.
So in honor of my mother, I drafted a few tips for parents who haven’t hopped on board the Reading Train.
1) Read Together Every Day.
Every. Single. Day. Bedtime is ideal because you can relax and snuggle up on pillows. If your schedule doesn’t allow that, then read during breakfast. Read immediately after school or daycare.
Make the time, because 20 minutes a day can have a lifelong impact.
2) Don’t Rely on Screens.
Many gadgets or apps will “read” to your child. Those devices cannot take your place.
Your child needs to hear your voice, see your lips move and watch you trace words and turn pages. A computerized voice does not have the same effect.
3) Mix It Up. I can recite “Moo, Baa, La La La” by Sandra Boynton in my sleep because my daughter wanted to read it every day until it “mysteriously disappeared” from the bookshelf for a while.
Visit the library to keep your book selections fresh. If you are stuck with a favorite, make it fun for yourself. Use silly accents or crazy voices. Your kid will enjoy it and you won’t get as bored.
4) Bring Reading Into the Real World.
Point out signs in the grocery store, read billboards, spell out traffic signs for your kids. Let them see how reading is used in daily life so they understand the importance.
5) Don’t Stop Just Because They Can Read.
My 6-year-old reads on her own, so I could easily say, “You’ve got it covered. Here is a book, good night!”
But we still read together at bedtime. Sometimes she reads to me, other nights she wants me to do it all.
I’m not rushing to the day she no longer wants me to read to her, and I hope you won’t either.
I'm so grateful for CeCe's aunties who also recognize the importance of reading together.


Time Together is In the Cards

When my 5-year-old became a big sister, she was excited about most aspects of the job. She loves to read to her little brother, to help with bath time and to keep him calm on car rides.
One thing she doesn’t love is sharing her parents’ attention.
Making quality one-on-one time for multiple kids is easier said than done.
The needs of a baby are so immediate and then daily chores pile up.
Despite my best intentions, I know I have often failed my daughter with prioritizing our alone time together.
We’ve found a new trick that has worked wonders in our house.
My mother gave me a gift card for frozen yogurt and told me to treat CeCe when she needed a special outing.
I gave that gift card to CeCe and told her that this was a ticket to get frozen yogurt with just mommy or daddy.
That gift card became a ticket that she used wisely.
The prospect of frozen yogurt didn’t tempt her too quickly – she kept that card until a weekend when she wanted me all to herself.
Too often a child’s need for attention comes out in misbehavior. Instead of getting angry, we found a way for CeCe to clearly communicate that she needs more time with me.
By handing me that card, I know she needs my attention.
It doesn’t have to be a gift card to have value. We plan to make coupons for trips to the library, the playground or other adventures she dreams up.
By giving her a physical object to redeem for our time, we’re giving her the ability to recognize what she is feeling and ask for help in remedying it before it spirals into a meltdown or tantrum for attention. A small piece of paper has changed our dynamic.
We have recaptured some of those sweet alone moments that used to be our everyday reality.
Now I find myself looking forward to the next time CeCe wants to cash in on her coupons.


My Favorite Things- The Wrapy

I am a huge proponent of babywearing and all it's benefits. I've used stretchy wraps, ring slings and structured carriers with both of my children and I was very pleased with the Wrapy. 

Wraps can seem intimidating when you unfurl the length of fabric, but the Wrapy created a great visual instruction manual with the product. It's easy to follow for inexperienced moms and a quick reference guide for those of us who need a refresher!
Who doesn't love the snuggles you get from babywearing?!
The Wrapy was very comfortable and flexible. Whatever your shape and body type, it can be adjusted to suit your body without any straps or clips to press against you. I like how soft the fabric is on my skin and my son's skin. It comes with a handy drawstring pouch for storage when not in use.

Babies truly feel as if they are being cradled in the womb when placed in a wrap, and it gives moms the ability to use their hands for other tasks while providing comfort to their babies.

If you are in the Lexington area and need help with babywearing, check out the Bluegrass Babywearers on Facebook.


My Favorite Things- The LatchPal

Since August is National Breastfeeding Month, I decided to review one of my favorite new products for breastfeeding moms.

The LatchPal is brilliant in its simplicity. Not everyone has a wardrobe of nursing clothes, with their conveniently hidden slits in the fabric. But the LatchPal makes any shirt a little more nursing-friendly.
You simply secure the clip to the top of your shirt, letting it hang down the inside. The pull it out the bottom, hook it to the clip and ta-da! Your shirt is out of the way so you can nurse or pump without it falling down.
I love that my shirt stays out of my son’s face while he nurses. When I finish pumping at work and start to clean up, the LatchPal keeps my shirt up while I get everything snapped back in place so I don’t accidentally stain my clothes with breastmilk.

Want to win a LatchPal for yourself? Enter to win on the Baby Bump Lexington Facebook page. 
For more breastfeeding information and resource, visit the Baby Bump Breastfeeding Central page.


My Favorite Things- The Pello

I try to keep our playroom divided into centers, and the Pello has been a perfect addition to our "Quiet Corner." This plush cushion is a favorite of my 5-year-old and my 11-month-old to climb on and relax with a book or toy.

The Pello folds up in half (like a taco) with handles on either side so it's easy to carry from room to room. When most people see it for the first time they joke it resembles a dog bed. This is true, but it is comfy and has cute fabric on either side. 

The Pello is meant to age with your child. It can be used for tummy time or a soft place to lay the baby while you sing and talk to him. It has a place to attach toys, and as your child grows they can use it as a place to hang out.
Ezra loves to imitate his sister.

My only con about the Pello is that the center portion (the "donut hole" if you will), is not cushioned like the outer ring. If you are using the Pello on hard floors, fold up a blanket or towel underneath to soften the area.


Sittin' Pretty

I remember the anticipation I felt when CeCe started to hit her physical development milestones. I was overjoyed when she started scooting, pulling up and cruising. Her first steps warranted a parade in our house.

Fast forward five years and another baby later. When it comes to mobility milestones with Ezra, I'm in no rush. Because the more he grows, the easier it is for him to get into mischief.

Ezzie has mastered the art of rolling. Once he gets started he can make it across the room in seconds flat. His other preferred method of transportation is the backwards scoot. Because the entire first floor of our house is laminate flooring, he just lays on his belly and pushes off. His clothing is like a wearable Slip-and-Slide and he goes floating backward (usually into a wall.)

These newfound abilities seem to creep up on me without much warning. For example, this happened the other day:

Here he is on all fours, looking like he might crawl! But he doesn't.

Instead of crawling, he swings his left leg under him. Wait- what?!

And now he is sitting.

The transition from all fours to a seated position is a big deal. Ezra loves to sit up and can totally get there on his own now. But you know what else he can do? Fall over easily. In fact, I may have shouted "YAY!" when I saw this and he was so startled he fell over. 

We've got a few more bumps in the road (or on his head) before he masters control over his own body. But he's getting there, far quicker than I would like. 

My big guy, I'll always remember this squishy, immobile blob with a cheek dimple that melts my heart.


First Food Fun

Ezzie hit the six-month mark and was showing all the signs that he was ready for solid foods.

We decided to skip the grains and cereals and plunged right in to whole foods.

For those of you who haven't held Ezra recently, it's important to know that he is a hefty guy. I weighed him this morning at 21 pounds. He's a bruiser with plenty of rolls and chub, which makes him all the more cuddly. We expected he would take to solid food pretty well.

First, let's flash back to CeCe's first experience with solids in 2011:

She was not thrilled. And that was apples! The sweet stuff! Now let's take a look at Ezra:

Someone enjoyed his sweet potato. He's also had avocado and bananas with equal success.
Starting solid food is always a fun journey and I look forward to seeing what he ends up loving or hating. And the clean-up is always a blast.

Here is an article I wrote about signs your baby is ready for solids and tips to get started, if you want to learn more. Happy Eating!

Happy Heart Day

We celebrated Valentine's Day yesterday in family fashion.

With our two little love-bugs, we enjoyed exchanging cards, candy from Daddy, dinner out where we stuffed ourselves silly, and topped it off by watching "Beauty & the Beast" on VHS.

Yes, we still have a VCR.

Our photographer friend took some beautiful pictures of our sweeties that are too good not to share.
Feel free to visit her page, she photographed our wedding and continues to document our special days!


CeCe wanted to pose with my wedding bouquet.

Little guy practicing sitting up.

Always a party with these two.