Thursday, November 19, 2015

Kitchen Reveal: A love story three years in the making

The moment has finally arrived. Our kitchen project, almost three years in the making is finally, finally complete! Are there still a few finishing touches? Sure. I'm not sure we'll ever really be finished with any project in our house because we like to change things up. Before we had kids, the hubby and I would rearrange our apartment every six months just for fun. We still want to update a few light fixtures, and there might be a few pieces of blue tape marking spots that need a paint touch up, but the major work is done. 

And if you saw the before pictures of our kitchen, you know that a few pieces of blue tape are negligible compared to the monstrosity we began with. So without further ado, I present our kitchen.

We started by painting the cabinets white. Simply White, actually which happens to be the Benjamin Moore 2016 Color of the Year. Of course, we didn't know that three years ago, but I feel like it's a bit serendipitous. 

My husband built those fabulous countertops out of red oak planks and stained them with a combination of dark walnut and mahogany. I absolutely love how they turned out. I love the contrast of the white beadboard backsplash and dark counters. It's warm and bright all at the same time.

These LED under cabinet lights really brighten the main kitchen workspace. I also like to leave them on in the evenings if we are away since they are so energy friendly. 

This cutting board was unusable when we bought the house, but Mr. Sir sanded it down and brought it back to life. He even painted it to match the cabinets (though he wanted to stain it to match the countertops. The man loves me.)

I have wanted a nook for this space since we bought the house. Since the kitchen has been under contruction for most of the time we've owned it, I haven't seriously looked at purchasing one. But a few months ago, Mr. Sir stumbled upon this beauty at 5am while out walking the dog. It had a free sign on it and he could tell it would be snatched up as soon as day broke, so he rushed home and attempted to wake me. The minute I saw the picture I knew it was worth getting up for, even though the baby had kept us up for half of the night, so I threw on some flip-flops and headed down the street  in my pajamas leaving all the kids (finally) asleep in their beds. We carried the table home then took the minivan back for the benches. It's certainly not in perfect condition, but you can cram eight kids at that table and it's a place where memories are made and dreams of bacon come true. 

The nook is where dreams of coffee come true too.
The mini gallery that hangs in the nook couldn't have come out better. The two photos were taken in Napa's wine country and the other two were free prints. You can find the lemon watercolor printable here and Rise and Shine It's Coffee Time here.


This pendant light that hangs over our sink was an outdoor light that hung in front of our house. My husband only thought I was half crazy when I asked him to install it here, but I think we were both happy in the end. You can use boiled linseed oil (available at your local hardware store) to spruce up old fixtures like this one.

I already posted a sneak peek of these DIY Pendant Lights but here's the full view with the cabinets and our art-plastered refrigerator on the side. It was waaaaaaay too much effort to pull all those magnets off and I'm all about being honest anyway. For the record, when I was taking these pictures my oldest said, "It looks really different in here!" I clarified and by "different" he meant "clean." This is further proof that our house has more of a lived in look most of the time. 

The final touch on the kitchen is this slate flooring. Can you tell it's laminate? It looks so gorgeous, but won't crack when our 60 year old house settles. I just hope it holds up to the wear and tear of three kids and a dog. 

And that my friends, is the story of the kitchen I love. What do you think? Was it worth the wait? Tell me in the comments!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Secrets to Braving Cold Season

Cold season is upon us and with two kids in school and a new baby, we are in the thick of it. Someone has been fighting a cold in our household since Halloween and I have a feeling it will continue through the new year. After five years, I've accepted that illness is part of this stage of life and I've found a few secrets to braving cold season.

A teaspoon of honey helps with a dry cough. You know that annoying tickle in your throat that keeps you up coughing all night? A little bit of honey really helps soothe and coat your throat. The best part? You don't have to wait four hours to take another dose. Since it's all natural you can take more whenever you need it. This also works well for kids since most cough medications are not recommended for children under 4 years old. (However, remember that raw honey is not recommended for children under 1 year due to infant botulism.)

Get in plenty of fluids and bring down fevers with juice popsicles. I don't usually give my kids a lot of juice, but it is so important to get fluids in them when they are sick. Popsicles are a fun way to do that and making your own with orange juice gives them a nice vitamin C boost too.

Warm apple cider with lemon. There is no way you will get my kids to drink tea. They will barely drink hot chocolate and that stuff is practically, well liquid chocolate! But some warm apple cider is usually a hit and helps soothe sore throats. Plus it's another great way to get fluids in and a lemon slice adds just a little extra vitamin C.

Skip TV time and listen to music instead. Let me clear that we watch our fair share of TV around here and I have no problem plopping my kids down for a few extra episodes of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood when they are sick. But I've found that just because they are sick, doesn't mean they don't have some energy to burn. Usually after 3-4 episodes, they start bouncing on the couch because they just can't keep their bodies still anymore. However, listening to music and doing a quiet activity like legos, coloring or playdoh seems to be just the right amount of stimulation while still letting their bodies rest.

Go to bed early, Mama. I know there's dinner to put on the table, homework to be done, dishes in the sink and floors to be mopped. But odds are, no matter how much you wash your hands and sanitize, you're going to catch that cold thanks to constant exposure. You are also going to be up at night caring for fevers and coughs and you are going to need your rest. So, know when to hold them and when to fold them. Both the hubby and I were in bed by 8:00pm with the kids the other night because we were so exhausted. Thankfully, I got a decent night's sleep and was able to tackle the pile of dishes in the kitchen with a renewed spirit the next day, even though I wasn't feeling 100% better.

Do you have any awesome Mama Hacks for surviving cold season? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Brilliant Books Worth Reading 100 Times

Though I hate to admit it after declaring that November is the the month of being grateful and Christmas shall not show up uninvited to Thanksgiving dinner in my household, I have started my Christmas shopping. The reality is that in a big family, you have to start early if you don't want to run around like a chicken with your head cut off for the entire month of December. I've been on the hunt for new books for our ever expanding library which reminded me that I've been wanting to share a few of our favorites with you. My kids love to read the same books over and over again so I try to be choosy; I've read these a bajillion times and they still get my stamp of approval.

Top 10 kid books (in no particular order) that kids will love and you won't hate reading 100 times.

1. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
Seriously. It has no pictures. But it is hilarious and every kid will love it. However, please note that if you don't want your kid running around telling people that their best friend "is a hippo named Boo Boo Butt," then this book is not for you.
2. The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems
The latest installment in the Pigeon book series will have you cracking up. I am particularly fond of these as my children behave quite like the Pigeon and it's nice to laugh at the ridiculousness that is my life.
3. Everything Goes: By Sea by Brian Biggs
The Book with No Pictures
Or by Air. Or by Land! These remind me a bit of the Where's Waldo books because there is so much to look at. They can be a little tedious for bedtime reading, but a great book for your kid to look at solo during a long car ride or on a rainy day. Both of my boys are so interested in how things work and these books really get the gears turning.
4. Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker
This is a great bedtime book. It's interesting and engaging and yet calming. It is a great book for winding down after a long day, especially when you have a couple of movers and shakers like I do.
5.  Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin
The amazon description says it all on this one. "The story of what happens when a grumpy old man and some mischievous squirrels match wits—with hilarious results." We don't actually own this one but it's on my short list for Christmas. The paperback version is only $4 on Amazon!
6. Press Here by Herve Tullet
An excellent interactive book that will definitely grab your kid's attention. It is VERY silly, so don't read it right before bed.
7. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
A clever mouse tells a tale about having lunch with the very scary Gruffalo to ward off a fox and a few other forest animals who'd like to eat him for lunch. This book is funny, engaging and well written -- even parents will enjoy it!
8. Cookiebot! A Harry and Horsie Adventure by Katie Von Camp and Lincoln Agnew
 There are two books in the Harry and Horsie series and both are fantastic. Colorful illustrations and a great story.
9. Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
I'm a fan of all the Alexander books, but I find this one really tickles me. In the openings pages, Alexander confesses that he and his brothers like money (even though his mom says he shouldn't say that.) The illustrations are hilarious and the writing is fantastic, PLUS you get a little lesson on saving money. What more could you ask for?
10. ABC Alphabet Book Lift and Flap by Annie Simpson
ABC Alphabet Lift and Flap
I bought this book at one of the book fairs at my son's school last year (which is a great place to pick up Christmas gifts, by the way. Support your school to buy something you were going to anyway, done!) The layout of this book is very creative. There are holes on one page that line up with things on the next page, and the flaps make it very engaging. This is another great book that will keep them entertained on a plane or in a car without needing you by their side.

What are your favorite books? I could always use a few new ones!

Monday, November 9, 2015

You have feet in your shoes. You just have the wrong feet in those shoes.

My three year old, Knox cannot put his shoes on the right feet if his life depended on it. In fact, I'd say that 80% of the time he puts them on the wrong feet. You'd think that at least half the time he'd get it right but I swear it's like he taught himself to  put them on backwards.

Now considering I have three kids ages 5 and under, a kid that can put his shoes on the wrong feet is better than a kid who's shoes I have to put on for him. Right? But eventually I started to worry that he might go to college with his shoes on the wrong feet and it would be ALL MY FAULT. Oh, the drama. The years of therapy he'd need to overcome this. It was time.

With Dash, I cut stickers in half and put a piece in each shoe. It created a sort of puzzle he could put together. If the picture was whole, he had his shoes on the right feet. The only problem was the picture wore off the sticker in a matter of weeks and you were just left with a sticky residue. Yuck.

So I've been pondering an alternative method for a few weeks now and then suddenly, I had a brief moment of genius. I whipped out a Sharpie and wrote half the letters of his name in one shoe and half in the other. Now at three years old, he can't read, but he can recognize his name and at the very least he knows what letter his name starts with.

Let me tell you, this has been a game changer. In just a few weeks, he's started putting his shoes on the right feet 95% of the time. He really likes looking at his name in his shoes and can immediately identify if it's wrong. Additionally, instead of my constant reminding that he needs to switch his shoes, I can just asked him if he checked his name before he put them on.

Will the magic last? Only time will tell. For now, I'm really enjoying having two kids who can put their shoes on the right feet all by themselves.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Season of Gratitude

Fall is by far my favorite season. I love the crisp air, the changing leaves, sweaters, scarves, boots and mugs of hot apple cider. I love that a hot cup of coffee tastes better on cold mornings. I love staying in bed and snuggling too long because it's the perfect temperature under the covers.

My love for fall is one of the many reasons it irks me to walk into Target on November 1st and see that Christmas just threw up in there. I'm no Grinch; I love December. It does not need to encroach, because honestly, one month of cookies and candy canes and Fa la la la la la is about all I can take. I do understand that a holiday that is about being thankful for what you already have kind of kills the spirit of consumerism and so I let my beloved Target off the hook for allowing Christmas to take over November. However, that doesn't mean Thanksgiving has to be overlooked in m my home. Last time I checked, I'm the boss around here.

Since I want to teach my children they have so much to be grateful for, around this time last year we put together a small jar of things we are thankful for. I've seen these all over Pinterest but if you haven't I thought I'd share my version (complete with free printables!)

But first, I thought I'd share a few things I'm grateful for today.

Busy season and late nights at my husband's job. First, he has a job and it's a great one! Second, it's really only busy like this for two months of the year. I know a lot of husbands who work late ALL year long and I'm so grateful that my husband does not have to.
Being a stay-at-home-mom. It's a tough job and I complain about it more than I should. However, I'm always thankful for it when cold season hits. Knox is feverish this week and I'm so glad I'm not trying to find childcare for a sick kid because I have to go to work.
My crazy fixer upper house. It's crazy, but it's also, warm, cozy and filled with a beautiful life we have been building in it.
Two bathrooms since one is out of commission right now...
Healthy, happy kids who behave themselves at school and playdates even if they are less than angelic at home. They save the best and worst for me.
Great teachers and schools. I feel so fortunate to have landed amazing, dedicated passionate teachers at both my son's schools.

What are you grateful for this November? Take a minute to jot it down and put it in your jar!

Click on the links to get the Give Thanks Jar printable and the I'm thankful for tickets!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

He Said, I Heard: Sale

Occasionally, we have miscommunications in our house. Often this happens when my husband says something and I interpret it as something slightly different.

This afternoon Mr. Sir emailed me a link to a sale happening at Old Navy. Not only are they doing free shipping, but you get an additional 30% off clearance items. 

He said: Old Navy cuts an extra 30% off clearance.


At least I had the decency to buy a few things for him during my shopping spree...

For anyone who is interested the coupon codes are:
JACKPOT (For 30% off clearance)
FREESHIP (For, you guessed it, free shipping)

Happy shopping!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Kitchen Sneak Preview: DIY Pendant Lights

My kitchen floor is getting installed this weekend. Maybe that seems like no big deal to you, but I have been living with no flooring in front of my kitchen sink for over two years thanks to an impromptu kitchen remodel. Let's just say I am very excited!

So while we are all waiting for the big kitchen reveal, I thought I'd share one of the smaller projects we've done. We struggled for almost a year trying to figure out what kind of fixture to put over our stove and finally ended up with this fun pendant light.

I started with this mini pendant light from Lowe's because it fit perfectly in the space. The fixture doesn't come with shades so I looked a ton of different options. I wanted something that was low profile so it didn't interfere with my cooking and yet really lit up my work space. Of course, price was a factor as well. Some of the shades I looked at were $20 each! Multiple times three shades, plus the fixture we were looking at over $100!

Eventually I stumbled upon these candle holders at Michael's. They were $5.99 each and on sale for 25% off.  Mr. Sir used a jigsaw to cut a hole in the bottom of each candle holder and viola!

They are exactly what I wanted and for a price that made even the penny pinching Mr. Sir smile. The space is so bright it feels like a completely different kitchen. Mr. Sir built me the spice rack and I added the "Don't Go Bacon My Heart" sign from Etsy because you can't go wrong with bacon puns, right?

Once the flooring goes in, we'll still have a few items to check off our list, like putting the pantry doors back in and picking out new appliances. Notice my funky stove straight out of 1970? It works so I can't complain, but I have my heart set on an awesome free standing double oven. To see the oven and the inspiration for my kitchen remodel, check out my Kitchen Design board on Pinterest.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Parenting Outside the Box

When my son was first born, I was desperate to do everything just right. I spent a lot of time reading the “expert” answers on sleeping, eating, routines, and just about everything related to my new little family. My son is five now and has been joined by a brother (three) and a sister (seven months.) After five years, and three kids, you know what I’ve learned about the experts? Sometimes their advice is no better than a veteran mom of three you met on a park bench. Here’s the thing with experts; their advice is great in theory. But the reality is that your kid is an individual and a one-size-fits-all approach might not be your ticket to uninterrupted nights of sleep. (Not to mention that many experts contradict one another. Have you read this mom on "expert" sleep training advice? It’s hilarious and so true!)

The point I’m trying to make is this: expert advice can be a great way to get the ball rolling on how you are going to tackle parenting challenges, but YOU know your kid better than any expert, any day.

In my experience, when I’ve thought outside the box and came up with a creative solution to a problem, I’ve had so much more success than when I followed expert advice. These are my favorite bits of wisdom the hubby and I have come up with along the way. They might not work for your kid, but they may inspire you to find the solution that does!

1.       Bounce that baby. Both my sons preferred to be bounced vs. rocked to sleep and most nights it took forever. You’d come out of the nursery all sweaty like you’d been in there with Richard Simmons. Until we started using the exercise ball. Bouncing for 45 minutes on the exercise ball was cake compared to the grueling workout we were getting without it. Best $10 I’ve ever spent.  

2.       Tackling the Teething Trifecta. (Say that five times fast!) Teething sucks. They don’t eat because it hurts. They don’t sleep because they’re hungry and it hurts. And then you have a hungry, tired, hurting baby on your hands ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT long. If you want to beat the pain + hunger + tiredness trifecta, try frozen snacks. The cold foods help numb the pain and fill their little bellies. We started with slicing grapes into quarters and then freezing them. Frozen slices of mandarin oranges were also a hit, as were frozen peas and corn. (Note: Of course, use your judgment in choosing age-appropriate foods. I do not recommend this for children who are not already accustomed to chewing solid foods. Also, make sure you make the slices small enough that they are not a choking hazard.)

3.       The sun is up (or not). It happens to all of us. You wake up at 4am and find your toddler staring at you like a total creep. “It’s time to get up!” they say, cheerfully. You curse that big kid bed with all its ridiculous freedom and put them back to “sleep” 17 times before you finally give up and make coffee. When this day arrived in our house we looked at all kinds of fancy alarm clocks that tell your kid when it is ok to get up, but those things aren’t cheap and had way more features than we needed. In the end, purchased a sun night light and used it with a timer we already owned.

4.       Audio books after lights out. Dash went through a phase at about two when he would not stay in his bed at bedtime. In part, he was afraid of being in his room alone so we recorded our own audio books for him to listen to after we left the room. We still use the audio books as a way for the boys to wind down with the lights off before bed.

* * * * * * * * * *

What are your most unconventional parenting hacks? Parenting Outside the Box is a reoccurring series so if you comment with your favorite hacks, they may be featured next time!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Lucky in Love

Lucky in love. 
Tomorrow, my husband and I celebrate eight years of marriage and in honor of that I'd like to offer a little (unsolicited) advice to a single guy looking for love. Why? Because I'm a romantic. Everyone deserves to be lucky in love and I'd like to think that I've learned enough in eight years of marriage to help someone else find it.

Dear Single Steve,

Though I'm happily married, I've been following your blog for a few years and until recently I couldn't put my finger on what fascinated me about you. This afternoon, I realized why: I'm the kind of girl who marries a guy like you.

My husband is 5' 7" and statistically too short to date. That love from romantic comedies that you are looking for? We have it. We've been married eight years and we are still stupidly in love with each other. We met and married in a year, just after his 30th birthday. He even has a nerdy profession as a number crunching accountant and financial analyst. 

So how does a nerdy guy in his thirties land the girl of his dreams? 

Do I have your attention? Good. Now listen up.

1. Self Confidence is Sexy. My husband and I met once at a party a few years before we starting dating. He was dating this woman who was a bit of a psycho and he was withdrawn and cautious. I remember thinking, "it's really too bad that my friend's brother isn't hot." When we met the second time, he was freshly single and gave zero fucks. He knew who he was, laid all his cards on the table and people were free to like or dislike him. He wasn't a dick, he was just sure of himself. When we met the second time I found him irresistible. The more I talked to him, the sexier he was. He was the exact same guy I met before, just a more confident version of himself.

2. Pursue Happiness. Be happy with yourself and your single life. Happiness is contagious and people want to be around others who have found a way to be content with what they have. If your life isn't good enough for you, why would someone else want to be part of it? Stop looking for the perfect wife and start being the perfect YOU. No woman in her right mind finds desperation attractive.

3. Real love doesn't care if you are too short to date. I'm only an inch shorter than my husband and with the heels I wore on my wedding day, I was taller than him. Guess what? Neither of us cared because what really mattered was that we were starting the rest of our lives together.

4. Be willing to turn your life upside-down. Your future wife is not a puzzle piece that will fit perfectly into your preexisting life. It is entirely possible that the woman for you does not live in a 30 mile radius. She's probably not a friend of a friend that frequents your favorite coffee shop and somehow, you just haven't met yet. Get out of San Diego. Try new restaurants and coffee shops. Take a weekend trip to Palm Springs. Go to the Getty in LA for the day. I moved 500 miles after dating my future husband for 3 months and I have never regretted it. He was absolutely worth it.

Eight years, three kids, one dog, and a fixer upper house later. Please pay no attention
 to the five year old photobombing in his undies behind us. Happily ever after ain't perfect.
5. The recipe for real love is chemistry and commitment. The rest is what you make of it. You know that killer chemistry you have with someone when you are first dating? It's only the beginning. The commitment is what turns chemistry into happily ever after. Love is not a feeling; it is something you do. You hold hands. You kiss. You buy flowers. You make breakfast in bed. You whisk her away on a romantic weekend. If you want it to feel like the movies, then never stop doing things that show her you love her. (And hopefully she does the same for you.)  Stop looking for someone who makes you feel magical and and start making your own magic. 

6. "Feelings follow doing, not the other way around. Lasting, True Love is not about being swept off your feet. Sometimes love is just sweeping the kitchen and being grateful that there is a kitchen and a partner who is contractually obligated to share it with you forever." (Glennon over at Momastery knows what she is talking about.) When you do find her, it's not all going to be sunshine and rainbows. My grandmother gave me the best advice about marriage. She said, "We've been happily married for 45 years. 45 out of 50 is not too bad." Even if it doesn't feel like happily ever after all the time, it doesn't mean she's not the one. 

I'm not saying I've got it all figured out. I'm not even saying that my advice is the key to finding the girl of your dreams. But I will say that love is out there for nerdy guys in their thirties if you know where to look.

Good luck,


Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Pounds of Parenting

Last week I officially hit the five years of parenting milestone. In that time, I have been to a lot of playgroups, parks, beaches, school events and birthday parties and I have had the privilege to meet and observe many, many mothers in action. All of these mothers are incredible, hard working, selfless people, but beyond that I noticed many of us have one thing in common: we're fat. I know that is a rather unpopular word these days with all the body affirmation jazz and fat shaming that is happening all over the internet, but before you get out your pitchfork and gather the mob, hear me out. Seeing all of these overweight mothers made me wonder if motherhood itself is expanding our waistlines.

Here are six reasons maintaining a healthy weight is harder for mothers:

1. We are sleep deprived. I've read countless articles lately on the correlation between weight gain and sleep deprivation. How many mothers get eight hours in every night? I can personally attest to overeating when I'm tired. I can't think straight and it's almost as if I can't figure out what's wrong with me. So I eat to try to fill the void the lack of sleep left.

2. The baby weight, obviously. We gain 20-40 pounds growing another human being inside our bodies then rip ourselves to pieces evicting that small human. Not only do we have to heal and figure out how to care for our beautiful, crying, bundle of joy, but we also have to figure out what to do with our new bodies. It's no small task. Learning to balance my son's needs with my own was very difficult, especially in the first year.

3. We are beached. Somehow, dads always seem to end up with the more active jobs in parenting. The next time you go to the beach take a minute to watch what the moms are doing vs. the dads. Frequently, I see the dads splashing around in the water and throwing big kids into the waves. The moms, on the other hand are sitting on the beach, preparing a meal, reapplying sunscreen, nursing the baby, or just reading a book because they finally have five minutes of peace. Some moms don't even bother to wear their bathing suits; maybe because they hate the way they look in them, or maybe because they've just resigned to being the beached parent. If you aren't going to have an opportunity to go in the water, why wear a bathing suit?

4. We are too busy to eat or eat well. I can't tell you how often I am absolutely starving by the time I sit down and eat lunch because between feeding the kids, swapping out the laundry before it mildews, stirring dinner in the crock pot, changing the baby's diaper, letting the dog out, then breaking up a fight, the one hour window between school pick up and nap time blows by and I didn't even get a chance to make myself something, much less eat it. And of course when I am starving I choose fast, easy, bad-for-me food and I eat too much.

5. We are inherently self sacrificing. Now I am no Mother Teresa, but I feel like I am frequently putting my own needs aside in order to care for the needs of others. If I really want to exercise I have to make time to, which usually means I have to choose exercise over something else, like clean my house. More often than not I will choose to do something that benefits my children or husband over doing something just for myself. Unfortunately, there is never a shortage of things to do in this household and so I constantly give myself the short end of the stick.

6. There is cake everywhere. Birthday parties, play groups, PTA meetings and of course every holiday. Every time I turn around there are donuts and cookies, cinnamon rolls, or chips. I have a lot of will power, but I usually break down after the fifth temptation.

If you add a pound or two for each of these, that's an extra TWELVE pounds! While all these things may indeed make it harder to maintain a healthy weight, I don't think it's impossible. I'm not trying to say that we have to accept that these are the facts of motherhood and we should learn to love those love handles. It's an uphill battle and we have to make conscious choices to be more active all the time.

Choose to hand the baby off to dad and go splash in the waves or swim a few laps. Don't settle for being the beached parent. Make yourself a healthy lunch the night before when you pack the kids lunches. Leave the dishes in the sink and go to bed early. Choose YOU, sometimes. You don't deserve the short end of the stick all the time.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off the exercise extreme will power at a PTA meeting.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Kitchen Catastrophe

Last week, I alluded to our accidental kitchen remodel adventure and I know you've been dying to hear the whole story. Let the horror fest begin!

This was the listing photo. It actually looked WORSE in person.
I will never forget walking through this kitchen for the first time; I saw what I thought was hideous 1970's linoleum and was horrified when I found myself squishing through mildew-y CARPET. Who in their right mind puts carpet in the kitchen?
The cabinets were in bad shape and the cabinet hardware was sticky from years of kitchen grease. 

The thought of that nasty carpet still makes me shudder. In spite of it, a more optimistic version of myself looked around the room and thought, "It's ugly, but with some paint and new floors, it has so much potential." It had a great layout, plenty of cabinets and counter top space, and even a spacious pantry. I knew we'd have to live with the buttered popcorn tile for a while before we could afford to replace it, but it was certainly the lesser of the evils.

Oh that tile. It was cream with yellow flecks just like a buttered popcorn Jelly Belly Bean.
As soon as they handed us the keys, we donned our gas masks and giddily ripped out that carpet. We bought the cheapest peel and stick tile we could find on Amazon, slapped some paint on the walls and moved on to the next project. We also put a new kitchen faucet in and fixed a small leak under the kitchen sink. We noted that there was some minor water damage from the leak, but we had bigger fish to fry. There were so many urgent problems (like toilets that wouldn't flush, showers that didn't drain and a room that wasn't ready for new baby that was on the way) we were pretty much putting out fires.

Wallpaper removed and fresh yellow paint to match the tile. 

About a year later, once we had adjusted to the addition of Knox to our family, Mr. Sir decided he was ready to repair the damage under the kitchen sink. It was a seemingly simple job; cut out the damaged wood and replace it with new wood. Except the damage wasn't just under the sink, it seemed to be in the wall and the floor. As he looked closer, the damage went deeper until it became clear that the studs in the wall were rotted and the entire sink and counter would need to be removed to repair it. Ripping out the counter meant damaging the precious buttered popcorn tile and thus began the impromptu kitchen remodel!

Want to see the finished product? Me too. We started this madness in January of 2013 and we are finally getting close to completing it. Stay tuned for a sneak peek next week!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Labors of Love

My fancy red garage door.
Helllloooooo! Everyone back in the swing of things after the long weekend? Yeah, me neither. It was nice to have an extra day off, but long weekends always make me feel like I have to cram five days worth of work into four days. It just makes the week a little more hectic than usual and it's always a little bit hectic around here. But that is another story.

I spent my Labor Day painting my garage door in 100 degree weather and believe it or not, it was awesome. For almost six hours, I had uninterrupted, coherent thoughts. While Mr. Sir wrangled the children all day I worked on a project and completed it. (Ok, almost completed it. I primed it and painted it, but it still needs a second coat.) Regardless, it was so satisfying to accomplish something from start to finish and then stand back and enjoy the fruits of my labor. In motherhood, my job is never done. There's always another dish in the sink, a dirty sock that escaped the washer, another meal to make. Acceptance is the name of the game, and almost clean has to be good enough for this phase of life, because I would go absolutely insane trying to do it all. In fact, after five years of motherhood, I think that I may have forgotten what completing something feels like because finishing this project felt so good. It's almost addicting. And now I've got the project completion bug and let me tell you, there is absolutely no shortage of ongoing projects in this house. 

You see, we have this ridiculous fixer upper house. We knew when we bought it that it needed a lot of love, but we had no idea it was going to be the house from the Money Pit. We also didn't know that (surprise!) we were expecting our son Knox, until the week we closed on the house. All our plans of staying up late after Dash went to bed to power through projects went right out the window.

Over the last four years we have ever so slowly done a project here and another there, trying to balance our growing family with our insane desire to have nice things. The progress has been painstakingly slow, trying to save money by doing all the work ourselves, but right now, maybe even by the end of the month we are about to hit TWO major milestones.

The first, is painting the entire exterior of our house which will be complete when I slap the last coat of paint on our garage door. (For the record, all credit goes to Mr. Sir on that one. He painted every surface of our home except the garage door on weekends and evenings for the better part of the last year. I was busy incubating a different labor of love named Buttercup.) Second, we are getting very close to completing our impromptu kitchen remodel. I'll save the story of the accidental kitchen remodel for another post, but I will tell you that it has been under construction for the better part of two years and that there was CARPET in the kitchen when we bought it four years ago.

Oh, how far we've come! In the meantime, what do you think of my garage door labor of love?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tiger-tastic Parenting

Like many parents, I prefer to use the TV as an independent activity for my kids. In other words, I plop them down in front of it and walk away so I can do something productive like hear my own thoughts or drink coffee in peace. Though I am guilty of using my TV as a babysitter, I have standards. I don't just let them lose with the remote and go willy-nilly watching anything they please. 

Rule # 1: Does not annoy me. I put up with a lot of annoying thing from my kids, but I do that because I love them. I do not love Caillou and I don't want to listen to him whine in the background during coffee time. I turned on the TV to avoid listening to my own children whine. Turning on an annoying show defeats the purpose of TV all together.

Rule # 2: Is more educational than mind numbing. If I am rotting their brains with screen time, they should learn something to counteract the damage.

Though my oldest is outgrowing it, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is one of my favorite kids shows lately. Not only does it fit the not annoying/educational requirements, it has actually taught me a thing or two. Since I went to school to be an elementary school teacher I have taken a ton of classes on childhood development, but honestly I'm a little rusty. I know the concepts I want to teach my kids but sometimes I have a hard time translating them into kid speak. 

Each lesson has a catchy little song which really helps the kids (and you) remember it. The bad news is, sometimes you can't fall asleep at night because you have to potty song stuck in your head. You win some, you lose some. Am I right?

Saying I'm sorry is the first step, then how can I help? Or as we say in our house, First we say I'm sorry, then how can I make it better? Telling someone you are sorry is like sticking a Band-aid on a scraped knee. It looks better on the surface, but doesn't instantly heal the wound underneath. So how do we teach our kids that a quick I'm sorry doesn't always right the wrong? 

In some ways we are different, but in so many ways, we are the same. I want my kids to know that being an individual is ok. They don't have to look or act just like their friends. I also want them to treat others who look differently, whether it's their size, shape, color of their skin or their ability, with kindness and acceptance. Kids are very observant, even at a young age and this is a great way to start talking about the differences they see in the world. 

If you have to go potty, stop and go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way. We just finished potty training Knox and we watched this episode of Daniel Tiger for inspiration daily. I love that it incorporates all the basics wrapped up into one simple song. 

And there you have it. I'm 31 years old and I'm still learning from PBS. Bravo, PBS. *slow clap* BRAVO.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Would you rather have a sexy wife or a clean house?

This is not my house. Not even close.
We have officially entered a new phase of parenting: school. Though Dash is only in TK we've already been to our first PTA meeting and have been wrangled into helping out at the school with various events and fundraisers. Knox has also started preschool and has his own list of activities that require parent involvement. Don't get me wrong; I am really excited for this phase. Both our schools are full of amazing staff and parents and I look forward to being a part of this new community. But all this change means we need to shift our lives a little to make room for all these new adventures and that takes some finesse.

At the same time, I've found myself back in another phase I'm quite familiar with: The baby weight battle. I've set some realistic goals (about 10-15 lbs in 6 months) and I dangled the motivational carrot (permission to purchase a smoking hot dress to wear to a wedding we are going to in the spring and maybe some new clothes to wear on our vacation) and I've carved out some time for exercise.

There's only one problem.

Between school events and obligations, family time, blogging, and exercising, I have zero time to keep up on my house. This week I had three days where I only had one child for three consecutive hours and I did not have time to do any housekeeping except for dishes. No laundry. No vacuuming. Forget about dusting. One day was dedicated to errands, another day I walked our rather neglected dog and worked on the blog and today I took a long exercise-y walk with a friend. When I realized my entire week was gone and I had nothing to show for it, I messaged Mr. Sir:

Would you rather have a sexy wife or a clean house?

And with the entire internet as my witness, this is what he said:

LOL, but seriously...a sexy wife.

And there you have it folks. Please don't judge me for the state of my house the next time you drop by. Because according to my husband of almost 8 years, this lady right here *points thumbs at self* is more important than a Pinterest - perfect house. And though I haven't had time to talk to my husband in detail about his answer to my question, I can tell you that he doesn't want a sexy wife because he needs some arm candy. (I mean, we have three kids under 5; we don't go anywhere on a Friday night except to bed.)

He wants a sexy wife because I'm happier when I'm exercising. I sleep better when in taking care of myself. I'm more confident when I feel sexy. I have more energy when I give myself permission to do something for me. Of course, there are other fringe benefits for him but mostly, I'm the glue that holds this place together. When mama's happy, everyone is happy. Investing in me is an investment in everyone in our family. Who cares what our house looks like if the people who are in it are rays of happy sunshine? Ok, let's be honest. I care what my house looks like, but letting loose on the reins a little while we find our new groove won't hurt. 

So happy Monday, friends. Cheers to starting a new week with a fresh perspective. And a messy, but happy house. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

How do you do it?

Last week, Dash's new teacher asked me a question I hear all the time: How do you do it?

I never quite know how to answer because, well it's complicated. Usually, in these scenarios someone is looking at me like I've got motherhood all figured out. As if my life is a smooth running, well-oiled machine. Sometimes I want to bask in all my supposed put-togetherness, but that couldn't be further from the truth. And frankly, I'm in the business of being honest with myself and others. The truth? I'm a mother -- a human being with strengths and flaws.

We've become a society that has difficulty embracing our emotions and imperfections. I don't think people expect a real, honest and raw answer. And yet, I feel compelled to give them one that reflects the many facets of motherhood. The good, the bad and the ugly. I never want someone to feel insecure in the face of my seemingly Pinterest-perfect brilliance. At the same time, I don't want want to sound like a walking train-wreck. I'm neither and yet I'm both. What I want to say is:

  • I'm doing the best that I can and some days that's still not good enough. 
  • I'm so proud of myself for making it out the door on time without yelling. 
  • My house is in complete shambles, but the kids are clean, dressed and we had time to take first day pictures. Lord knows if I'll ever have time to share them in the next 10 years, but we took them! 
  • I'm exhausted. I cannot consume enough coffee to lift the fog because I'm breastfeeding and I'm only supposed to have two cups of coffee a day. I make the coffee twice as strong so I get more bang for my buck (even though I know that defeats the purpose, but it soothes my conscience because in theory I'm still only having two cups) and yet I'm still tired. 
  • I don't have it all together. Some days we stay in our pajamas until noon.
  • I bribe my children with stickers and ice cream to do tasks basic to their survival. Like eating. Preferably in a manner which does not resemble hogs at the feed trough. 
  • I take it one day, one coffee, one peanut butter and jelly sandwich at a time. 
  • It's like a roller coaster: there's fear and excitement, ups and downs, and sometimes barf. 
  • I can go from champion and hero to utter failure in under 30 seconds.
  • I have marvelous people in my life who love and support me.
  • I feel like I have to do a lot of this on my own. 
  • I am pretty kick-ass, aren't I?
  • In the words of Woody Harrelson you've got to "nut up or shut up." I'm not entirely sure what this means, but I usually mutter it to myself right before I have to clean something up that should involve wearing a hazmat suit. 
So in answer to your question of how do I do it? I don't know. It's complicated. But mostly, I get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other, just like everyone else.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Creamy Mac and Cheese

You may have noticed I have a lackluster dedication to fitness, but let me assure you my obsession with Mac and Cheese is far more committed. I have tried many, many recipes but this is the one that all members of my family love. It's creamy. It's easy on the guilt. It's quick. And with a few veggies or some chicken sausage you can take it to a whole new level. 
Mac and Cheese with Bacon,
Mushroom and Swiss Chicken Sausage

10 ounce large elbow macaroni
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups chicken stock (or chicken boullion), divided
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste. You may not need it if you use bouillon)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Set aside.
2. In large skillet, stir in 1 cup stock and garlic powder; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute.
3. Combine remaining 1 cups stock, milk, and flour; stir with a whisk until flour dissolves. Add milk mixture to garlic mixture, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 5-10 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. **Stir frequently. Do not over cook or your sauce will have a grainy texture. **
4. Reduce to simmer; add cream cheese, whisking until smooth; add cheddar stirring until smooth. Stir in salt and pepper. (If needed)
5. Stir in pasta.

We eat some variation of this recipe close to once a week. Here's how I keep it interesting:

Top with roasted butternut squash or sweet potatoes. 
Saute some carrots, broccoli, and green beans. Stir in just before serving for instant pasta primavera.
Add chicken sausage. We love Aidells Bacon, Mushroom and Swiss. 
Swap out the pasta with some Spinach tortellini. (Hidden veggies!)
Swap out the pasta for gnocchi and the flour with corn starch for a gluten-free version.
Bake some mild Italian sausage in the oven and throw it on top. (seriously oven baked sausage is the easiest, mess free way to make sausage. Pop it in the oven on 400 for about 20-30 minutes turning once. That's it!)

And there you have it! A family favorite, six different ways. You can almost eat it every day of the week. 

Adapted from Cooking Light

This recipe received two stars from my family.
*Plate-Licking Good
For more about my rating system, head over to the Eats page.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Six Ways to Sneak in your Exercise

The exercising zen-master guru pictured is not me. Not even close. 

When I have a few minutes free from my kiddos, the last thing I want to do is hit the gym. Though I know I feel better when I do, I feel like exercise is a chore and I enjoy it about as much as I enjoy scrubbing my toilets. So I've devised a way to sneak my exercise in during the day while I'm home with the kids.

1. Dance Party. I love music and my kids love to shake their groove thing. So a few times a week, we put on some good dancing music. For maximum calorie burn try these moves: Risky Business Sock Slide, high jumps, any move that includes picking your kids up and swinging them around.

2. Clean & Chase. This is exactly what it sounds like. Chase your children around the house and tickle them if you catch them. While you are at it, pick up a few toys from the living room and toss them in the kids' room. Pick up all the dirty socks and toss them in the washer. You'll have a cleaner house, tired children and an awesome workout by the time you are done.  

3. Vacuum & Mop. It needs to be done anyway and if you do the whole house, you'll probably break a sweat by the time you finish.

4. Take an after dinner walk. We have a dog, so we always have a good excuse to take a walk. In the summer we like to walk after dinner; it can be a great motivator to get the kids to finish their dinner and it's a good way to expend the last of their energy before bedtime. For me, dinner tends to be the heaviest meal of the day and I'm less likely to spiral into a food coma if I get moving. Sometimes the boys ride their bikes which means I have to hustle to keep up with them. I'm also usually carrying Buttercup in the carrier or pushing her in the stroller. 

5. Piggy back rides. What kid doesn't love to ride their own personal beast of burden? Saddle up (or Daddle up if you prefer) and after a few circles around the house you'll be sweating.

6. Go to the Park. I took all three kids to park last week and pushed the boys on the swing while carrying my daughter in the Ergo until my arms ached. Killer workout and tired kids who played at the park all day? Talk about win win.

If I can squeeze a few of these calorie burners in each day, I feel better, accomplish more and I can watch TV with Mr. Sir before bed guilt-free.

How about you? Do you have your own sneaky exercise routine? I could use your inspiration!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Keep it together. It's almost back to school

I had big dreams about how this summer was going to be magical. I was looking forward to less hustle and bustle, more time in our jammies and focusing on fun. In reality, our summer was three hardcore weeks of potty training, two weeks of a cold with ear infections, and some spring cleaning. (I'm only a few months behind...) Sure, we went to the beach and the park, ate ice cream and stayed up late, and I hope those are the things my kids remember. But when I look back on the last month, I mostly see a big, HOT MESS.

The good news is the school year is approaching and with it comes an opportunity for a fresh start. I'm not as optimistic about the school year as I was about the summer. I have two kids in different schools on opposite ends of town. Let's be realistic; it ain't gonna be easy. All my ducks need to be in a row to make this work and that starts with me. So I'm getting organized with Keep.

I'm probably the last person in the world to start using this app because I'm elbow deep in diapers and preschool, but in case there is anyone out there who is as disconnected to the real world as I am, here's a rundown of what you can do with Keep.

- Make check lists with clickable check boxes. When you check an item it floats down to the bottom of your list so you aren't scrolling to see what is left on your 33 item long Costco list.
- Make notes with reminders. You can even add a reminder to your checklists!
- Color coordinate your notes and checklists.
- Create, view and edit your lists and notes on all your devices.

I know; you're thinking, I have an app that can do that. Wait for it. This is feature that made me swoon:
My Keep. Notes with a picture
are shared with Mr. Sir

- Share your checklists and notes with others. All collaborators can view and edit in real time. You can choose which notes you want to share and with whom.

Can your app do that? 

Maybe this seems like no big deal to you, but in my household Mr. Sir & I spend about half of our conversations with each other communicating about the logistics of our life. This is the perfect way for us to keep track of all of those little details. Here are some examples of how Keep is keeping us organized.

Back to school shopping. We made a list of clothes, school supplies, and other miscellaneous items that needed to be purchased at several different stores. As things get checked off the list, we can both see what else is needed.

Appointments. Though we already have a shared calendar to track appointments, anytime our kids have an upcoming well visit, we usually make a list of items we want to discuss with the pediatrician. With Keep we can make our list and whoever ends up doing doctor duty has the most updated version. And then I won't forget to ask about the latest philosophy on introducing strawberries and peanut butter.

Things you can't remember because children are sucking your brain cells. Speaking of introducing new foods, we are also using Keep to track of what new foods Buttercup is trying. On the third kid, it is hard to remember how many days since you introduced something new and if there were any side effects. Honestly, it's hard to remember what day it is.

Groceries. By keeping a running list of items we need from the store, Mr. Sir can swing by and pick up a few essentials on his way home from work. And if I think of something else while he's on the train, it's not too late to add it to the list. It's also a great way to keep tabs on your grocery budget.

Packing for a trip. Keep track of what you need to pack. Or better yet, save your list from your last trip to use again. No point in reinventing the wheel when you are probably going to pack the same special blankets, night lights and lovies.

With three kids, a dog, a household to run, an imaginary blogging job with a slacker boss, my brain can't keep track of all the balls I'm juggling. Now I'm Keeping it together. ;)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This post is NOT sponsored by Google; I've just got an unhealthy addiction to all things Google and a commitment to finding order in my chaos.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Everything is Futile

I have always been a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps kind of girl. When things get tough, I do my best to rise to the challenge. But being eternally optimistic is exceptionally hard when life keeps pelting you in the head with lemons. Sometimes all you can do is embrace this moment and wallow in your self pity for a little bit before you move on.

This last week has been especially trying; we've been on (self-inflicted) house arrest as Knox has been attempting to master the potty. Buttercup started teething and is in the middle of a "I can roll over in my sleep and it is freaking me out!" sleep regression. And to top it off, our whole family has been hit with a summer cold which has turned Dash into a helpless puddle of tears. He gets emotional and borderline dramatic when he is sick (which is an unfortunate quality passed down from his mother.) All of this has made me feel like I've been trapped in a madhouse and instead of making lemonade with all these lemons, I just want to let them pile up and bury me. Because, it doesn't matter what I do; EVERYTHING is futile.

If I clean up the toys, another toynado will strike.
If I feed my children, they'll just get hungry again.
If I do the dishes, we'll make more. (See section on feeding children.)
If I take a shower and put clean clothes on, the baby will spit up on me.
If I bathe the baby and put clean clothes on her, she'll spit up on those too.
If I vacuum, the dog will roll in the brown straw we affectionately call "grass" in the backyard and track it all over the house.
If I make the bed, I'm just going to get back in it later. Sooner rather than later, I hope.
If I finish ALL the laundry, we'll fill an entire basket by the end of the day.
If I break up a fight, there will be another.
If I kindly explain there are better ways to solve our problems, I'll still end up yelling because no one was listening the first time.

I know, I know. This is too shall pass. It's hard and it is absolutely worth doing. While all that is true, I'm tired of trying to do things instead of actually doing things. For once I'd like to be able to check something off my list and feel the joy of accomplishment. But I suppose that is a small part of why I'm here. When I hit the publish button on this post, I will have completed something measurable that cannot be undone.

So thanks for being here to read and commiserate. Thanks for being the reason I can put a single check mark on my to do list. I imagine I'm not the only one waiting for this stage to pass. Tomorrow, when all of this is getting you down, I'll make you some lemonade with all these lemons.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Sanctuary Bought for a Song

When my husband and I first moved in together we had absolutely no furniture. Not even a bed. After we moved into our apartment, we took our U-Haul over to Ikea and picked up the cheapest bed and couch we possibly could. That night, we came home and assembled Ikea furniture until midnight just so we’d have a place to rest our weary bones after moving all day. Almost eight years, another apartment, two babies and a fixer upper house later, we were still sleeping on our full size Ikea bed. That’s right people. I said FULL SIZE bed. We’ve wanted to upgrade for a while, but that costs money and I can think of a hundred things I’d like to drop a wad of cash on other than a bed. (Do you know how many bottles of wine you can get for that kind of money? I digress…)

As fate would have it, my parents decided to upgrade their bed and offered to give us (and deliver!) their old Tempur-Pedic California King. How could I refuse an offer to have my bed and drink my wine too? In anticipation of our exciting new bed (and by new, I mean 10 year old hand-me-down, but those Tempur-Pedics are good for a lifetime, right?) I started shopping for bedding. Though I might not want to spend a truckload of money on actual bed, I love buying linens. I love a reason to browse the Pottery Barn website even if I’ll never buy anything because their prices make me cry. I could wander through Target looking at home goods for hours because it’s my happy place. I browsed to my little heart’s content until found a duvet from Overstock that made me swoon.
I wanted something that was bright and colorful. (Read, hides stains well.)
I wanted something that incorporated the crazy green dresser we bought off craigslist and painted when we still had time for labors of love that weren’t our children.
And I wanted some new colors, because as much as I love that green dresser, I’m ready for something new and I needed a palette that would match the old me AND inspire the new me.
Green bedroom dresser @alisamalisa @meredithspidel
This set was everything I wanted until I saw the price. $99.00 for a duvet, shams (that will never get used because we hate taking them on and off) and three throw pillows. Don’t get me wrong, I like pretty pillows, but I’m a practical girl. I don’t even make my bed half of the time because I’m just going to get right back in it. Preferably sooner rather than later. The bottom line was that I wasn’t willing to cough up almost $100 for just a duvet, even if it made me swoon.
So I shopped on. I shopped all of my favorite places online and in store, dragging my boys through every linen shop in town. Even my beloved Target didn’t have anything that satisfied both the dreamer and the penny pincher. Becoming desperate, I started looking into sewing my own duvet, but when all was said and done it was still going to cost me around $60. At one point, I seriously considered turning a shower curtain into a duvet because I thought it might be more cost efficient!
And then I stumbled on this at Wal-Mart.
Walmart Duvet Cover Set @alisamalisa @meredithspidel
Yep. That is EXACTLY the same duvet set I found on Overstock for almost $40 less. It’s a good thing I took a screenshot of this price, because Wal-Mart has recently increased the price to $109! Since I could barely make a duvet for that price, I ordered it. And then I promptly spent all my savings on some king size pillows.
Duvet Set @alisamalisa @meredithspidel
Did you notice the absurd number of pillows on my bed after I mentioned how unnecessary decorative pillows are? I may have purchased NINE pillows this week. And by may I mean I totally did. Don’t judge. In the end I was pretty satisfied with the overall cost of my makeover, including the pillow binge. Here’s the breakdown:
Duvet Set: $66 (One duvet, two king shams and three throw pillows)
Pillows: $52 (Four king size and two standard)
Sheets: $57 (I picked up two sets of 300 thread count sheets, one from Anna’s Linens ($32) and another from Bed, Bath and Beyond ($25)on super clearance with a 20% off coupon. )
Total cost for my bedding makeover: $175
Could I have gotten a better deal? Probably. Could I be happier? Nope. I read once that your master bedroom should be a sanctuary, an oasis if you will. A place where you can escape your children and pretend like you still have an adult life. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it feels like an oasis in here, I can say that it feels as if grown-ups live here and not just a bunch of monkeys who like to jump on the bed.

This post originally appeared at Mom of the Year. For a less serious look at the world of parenting, meet Meredith.