Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

October 7, 2015

DIY Gift Idea For Kids: The Creative Experience Gift Bag

It's that Birthday Party time of year! Every year, we seem to accrue more and more parties to attend. Which is, actually, a really fun problem to have. I used to really struggle with what to give as a gift to the Birthday Boy or Birthday Girl. Kids are hard to buy for. Well, in some ways they are really easy to buy for. Kids love toys, books, etc.

But, as a parent whose kids, twice a year, are on the receiving end of gifts, I started trying to be more thoughtful about the gifts that we give. It's so easy to duplicate a toy or book, especially at birthday parties for classmates you do not know as well. 

And, in general, I'm pretty over the amount of toys we have. That sounds ungrateful, which I don't mean it to. I have just realized over the past few years that we have a room of toys, but only a small percentage actually get played with. 

With this in mind, I got the idea to start giving birthday kids a creative experience. Something they could use their imaginations to decorate and enjoy during special time with their parent, grandparent or caregiver. 

My go-to gift for all birthdays now is the DIY Gift Bag. I head to Michaels or AC Moore and head to the fabric section (or, if I have enough forethought, you can Amazon). 

Depending on the kid, I grab a child-size plain canvas apron, canvas tote bag, t-shirt or hat

I think of the child's personality and interests, and try to find an iron-on patch or a pack of iron-on letters

Then I grab a package of fabric markers (particularly for younger kids, as these are less messy than fabric paint) and any fun decorations I can find. 

Lastly, I pick up a cheap canvas reusable bag or backpack (you can usually find these for $1 at most craft stores) to put all of the materials in as the gift bag.

Voila! You now have a DIY gift experience that is not only fun, but usable or wearable again and again. It's a win-win.

I'd love to hear your favorite DIY gift ideas for kids - so leave a comment and inspire me!

To The Slightly Better Than Average Mom

Some days you just wake up defeated.

Not because of anything intrinsically bad about the day. Rather, you ended the previous day in defeat. As parents we've all had them: long, unending days that start with a fumble - a spilled milk, the wrong shirt, fighting over who gets to brush their teeth first - and that fumble dominos into a catastrophic and unstoppable Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day chain of events. 

On these days, it's everything you can do to wipe up the spilled milk to the din of fighting from the bathroom, only to have to grab a bandage for the scraped knee that just happened as the kids hurried down the stairs. It's a war zone: every mom for herself, triaging one disaster after another and HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU IT'S NOT OKAY TO BITE YOUR BROTHER OR THE DOG?

You're lucky to get lunch on the table, let alone the perfectly sculpted aquatic-themed lunch your friend Susie posted on Facebook, complete with cute fish cut out of cheese and hotdog octopuses. In this world of social media, where everyone can conveniently share only the greatest parts of themselves - the shining victories, the pictures of perfection- it's really easy to believe that if parenthood was a class that was graded, you'd be racking up a big fat F.

But, as our friend Titus Andromedon says on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, it's all smoke and mirrors. A facade. A lie. We live in a high pressure Pinterest Perfect World where it's almost wrong to share our frustrations and failures. We don't share our struggles with postpartum depression. We don't share the moments where we cry in helplessness as our baby cries. We don't share the real photos of our bedrooms with unmade beds and dust accumulated like an inch of snow on the top of our dressers. We don't share that we've spent more time yelling than laughing in the past 24 hour time period. We don't share that sometimes we miss our pre-kids life. We don't share that some weeks are spent glaring instead of gazing at our partner across table.

Instead, we agonize over the carefully and purposely depicted perfect lives of those in our newsfeeds that we will never live up to. Their elation as a new mom. Their magazine-ready homes. Their Ina Garten-eqse meals. Their married selfies in the amber glow of a setting sun. We scroll, unable to shake the sinking feeling that everyone else has got this whole winning at life thing figured out while we flounder like a fish on dry land.

The struggle is real. And I don't mean that in a light-hearted meme kind of way. Struggle. Is. Real. It's part of life. And we all face it, whether we choose to admit it or not. Imagine how unattractive Pinterest would be if we shared the most real parts of ourselves. Unattractive, maybe. But so, so beautifully real. Because there is beauty in unity, in realizing you are not alone. That, yes, the struggle is real, but it is also universal and we're all in this together.

We're all in this together.

So, to the parents who went to bed defeated, who woke up slightly broken: you are winning today. The milk might be spilled. The kids may be fighting. The marriage might have tensions. And the walls of the shower may be slick with grime and begging to be cleaned. But you didn't dial it in today. You showed up. And the lunches may not be themed or perfectly sculpted, but it's made. You may not make it to the gym today, but you walked 5 miles around your living room to get your baby to sleep  And you might yell more often than you'd like, but you're here

You're trying. 

Your kids won't remember made beds and clean floors. They'll remember the muffins you made with them, which left crumbs on the counter. They'll remember the joke you told them when they cut their hand. They'll remember snuggling with you on the couch watching a TV show before bed. They'll remember the chaos of hurrying out the door to get to school on time.

Go confidently into the mess that is today. Remember that life is lived in the boring and mundane. Our memories won't be Pinterest Perfect, but they will be warm, imperfect and real. 

What matters most is who is in them.

Here's to the slightly-better-than-average parents.

October 6, 2015

UNIQLO Opening at Montgomery Mall, Thursday 10/8


Because I'm a glutton for cute style at affordable prices, I HAVE to share this with you:

UNIQLO is having their Grand Opening this Thursday, 10/8, at Montgomery Mall. Stop by and check it out!

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