Fall for These

Sure, the weather is more "backyard barbecue" than "cozy by the fireplace" right now but fall IS coming, and I have some of my newest favorites for autumn just for you...

click the photo above to shop

Clockwise from top left:

I am obsessed with Hum, OBSESSED! Their Moody Bird is kind of a lifesaver for me.

Play date notes can sometimes verge on the twee, but not these. They are playful yet classic with gorgeous eye catching design, you won't want to wait to be handing these out.

Have you made rocks yet? What are you waiting for?!

This buffalo print Little Unicorn swaddle is kind of everything for fall.

I've been trying my hand at a little homeschooling for my youngest, and this Etsy shop creates the sweetest little sets.

I'll take four Girl Power t-shirts, please.

WOVEN EARRINGS OMG.

Looking for a fall road trip? We are heading to the WitchCraft Festival at Killington, but don't let the name fool you, there is plenty of kid friendly fun (and enough grown up fun so you won't get bored either).

 

Down on the Farm (Meet Kip)

Going down to my father's farm in Warwick is always fun, the kids get to play, feed the animals, get muddy, ride horses. This time though, we decided to FINALLY bring back a barn cat (they only ask me about 8,436 times a visit if we can, not sure what finally broke me?). Scroll through the photos to meet Kip, our new very loved kitten (oh and make sure you don't miss the before and after pics of Levy: holding Helen the chicken before I told her she eats chicken and after I told her, I'm pretty sure she's vegetarian now).

I Have Baby Teeth in my Jewelry Box

Remember the first time your child lost a tooth? OMG SO EXCITING right?! You get to play Tooth Fairy! You can finally break out that super cute Tooth Fairy pillow, maybe you get all extra with it and spray glitter onto a dollar bill and write out a Tooth Fairy note. Maybe you just toss a couple quarters under the pillow and call it a day, but either way, what you are left with is a tooth. Seriously. You get a tooth. Now, what do you do with it?!

Now, at first, you don't realize you'll be the new owner of this recently discarded actual human tooth. You're all wrapped up in the cuteness of being the Tooth Fairy, maybe a little teary eyed about your baby growing up, but once you slip out of their bedroom hopefully undetected, you've got a tooth in your hand.

If you're like me, you're kind of like, against throwing it away. I mean, I don't necessarily want to keep these teeth, but I also feel super weird about just chucking them into the garbage. It just feels kinda wrong to toss them into the trash with the apple cores and paper towels and actual GARBAGE.

So what do I do? I put them in my jewelry box and forget about them.

Until I have to go find earrings and I realize yes, I have like TWENTY OLD KIDS TEETH in my jewelry box. Is this a weird hoarder situation? Is this some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder warning sign? What am I supposed to do with all these baby teeth?

The thing is, you've got some options. If you're cool with it, you throw them out. To be honest with you, I think this is probably the most sane solution because really, they are teeth. You aren't keeping their fingernail clippings and every haircut clippings (ed note: I really hope you aren't) so why keep their old teeth? Throw them away and move on with your life. That is option 1. And if you do this, I admire you.

Option 2, you can get a keepsake box (like this one) and apparently you keep EVERY tooth in order and with some of these you can even record the date it was lost. Now, let's get into this here, shall we? Presumably you either a) Keep this for yourself to cry over when they go to college? Or b) present it to your child when they are older? I thought about what my reaction would be if my own mother had given me a box containing all my baby teeth. I imagined my reaction would be something like "Um, thanks?' with a shrug and an awkward face, and if presented with this sorta strange "gift" it would most likely go into a box somewhere never to be seen again, sort of like the teeth in my jewelry box. Also, would you care to know when every tooth was lost? Honest question, really.

If you are the kind of mom who will record each and every tooth being lost, kudos to you. I mean, I can get the first word, first food, maybe crawling/walking date down somewhere, but first teeth? Not something I'm recording. To each their own though. You be you.

Option 3, you can get a ring made out of the tooth YES THIS IS A THING. And you can get it here. I'm not trying to be judgmental, this just isn't my thing because it's maybe a little weird? I mean, technically not weirder than keeping them in a jewelry box randomly, but, I don't know. A baby tooth ring, that's just...it's different.

I'm going on my third kid losing teeth now. That's a lot of teeth. I'm running out of room. And yes I have sent my older children in search of jewelry for me and they have been like "Mom why do you have our old teeth in here" and I don't have an answer. Also because I'm not a dentist, at this point I don't know what tooth it what or when it was lost or what tooth belonged to whom, I just know I don't want to throw them away and I don't want to keep them.

I'm going to go into the obvious here and admit that yeah, I probably can't let go because I don't want to admit that they are getting older. Finn is in MIDDLE SCHOOL (yes I have to type that in all caps for right now because I'm still in disbelief). He knows the Tooth Fairy is not real. That part of his childhood is over. I am so excited watching him get older and grow and change, but it also makes me sad. And it probably always will? Do you ever not miss parts of their childhood? I don't know. All I can say it the bittersweetness of parenting and childhood and growing up is always there, and for right now, those baby teeth will always be there too. Maybe I will always be kind of stuck in this space, where the time keeps marching on and forcing me and them forward, but I can still have this little (yes weird) keepsake of when I was their make believe fairy.

My Latest Must Haves: Two for Them, Two for Me

Okay, this collection of must haves is a little...random, I'll admit it, but they are still M U S T  H A V E S nonetheless. I'm talking stockpile situation here guys.

First up, my must haves. Now, I'm usually a good sleeper. What I mean by that, is although my children aren't always the best sleepers (looking at you, three year old) I have never had any issues with sleeping. Lately though, after the baby gets up or the aforementioned three year old crawls into my bed because she had a nightmare about "tormados" (why are tornado/volcano fears her big thing right now?? Did she accidentally watch something on the Discovery channel she shouldn't have?! It's a mystery, folks) I have trouble falling back to sleep.

Enter, Sleepy by Lush. Or, as I like to call it, THE BEST THING EVER. The lavender and tonka (from the tonka bean, sort of a vanilla and cinnamon-y fragrance) scent is dreamy (pun intended) and because it's made from natural ingredients, I even use it on the kids (when I feel like sharing). I'm telling you, it's like a sleeping pill in lotion form. As soon as I put it on I can feel my eyelids getting heavy. Besides the sleep inducing scent, it is a great moisturizer for the whole family. I'm hoarding it.

Next up was a random Target purchase over the summer that turned into a favorite. I picked up a bottle of Fekkai Soleil Beach Waves Spray on a whim because I was in a hair rut and had visions of gently tousled beach waves dancing in my head. What I got was slightly tousled and ever so slightly wavier hair but the scent, OMG THE SCENT. It has the loveliest fragrance that is so light but not too light, I get compliments on it all the time and I basically wear this hair mist as perfume now. So that's my secret. (ps I haven't seen it in Target in weeks but you can get it on Amazon still, thankfully).

Getting kids to floss is so fun, RIGHT?! After many previous attempts at making flossing "fun" fizzled out, my mom bought us this Plackers Flosser Friend. It's not a crazy complicated idea, it's seriously just the Plackers flossers inside this monster looking holder, but for whatever reason my kids love him and literally will floss every day without me asking them to. Seriously.

This Hello toothpaste is another new find that I will be stockpiling. Made for the new-to-brushing set, this toothpaste is a clear gel with soothing aloe vera and high quality sweeteners made from plants (like xylitol and erythritol) for babies and toddlers 3 months to 2 years. It's organic and totally safe if swallowed, so it's perfect for my one year old who prefers the "suck all the toothpaste off immediately" method of brushing. Plus, that packaging? So cute. I found it at Target.

Backyard Birthday

I really wanted to have a third birthday party for Talley, but I also totally procrastinated. So instead of planning one, I kind of threw one together semi-last minute. A good old fashioned, backyard birthday party. Because when you're three, all you really need is some cake, some friends and more cake, am I right?!

{place cards from Etsy here and flower crowns from jessecology}

Must Do: Lavenlair Farm

I am the biggest fan of anything "pick your own". The kids get to be outside, we get to eat local, it's a win win. That's why when I heard about Lavenlair Farm, a pick your own lavender farm I couldn't wait to go.

Located in Whitehall, about a 45 minute drive from the Saratoga area, Lavenlair Farm is owned by David and Diane Allen, and features 22 different varieties of lavender in their "U-Pick" lavender field. I love the idea that this was a labor of love for Diane and David, who found the 1820 stone farm house and created the farm with a 100 foot diameter meditative labyrinth planted in lavender as well as a field of nearly 5000 lavender plants representing 22 different varieties of lavender for people to come and visit to relax, recharge and reconnect with each other and with nature.

When you arrive, you check in at the little lavender colored shop by the fields and you can pick up a pair of scissors to trim your lavender. The owner gave us a great overview of what lavender was where (they also have culinary lavender you can pick and use in recipes) and the different sizes of lavender bouquets to buy. We went with a few little $5 sized ones so the kids could all choose some lavender of their own, and the older kids were in charge of the scissors while we walked through the fields.

It was probably more relaxing and gorgeous than I had even hoped it would be. The farm itself is just breathtaking, with views of the Green Mountains of Vermont to the Adirondacks, cows mooing in the pasture, the wind wafting the scent of lavender. I mean, it was perfect. Seriously. Even with five children running around.

The "laverinth" was probably less "meditative" with all the kids than ideally planned but the owners were so incredibly pleasant and helpful and friendly, showing us how the lavender is planted and answering all of our questions. The entire vibe of the farm was so relaxed and open, it made you want to just sit on the grass and gaze at the clouds for hours.

In the shop we picked up tins of "lavendo" for the kids, some of the lavender jelly (SO GOOD), lavender mist for me, and other little treats. It really was hard to leave without buying everything because even though the shop is tiny the products they have for sale are so well made and thoughtful and again, the owners were just so friendly and warm.

We can't recommend this place enough. Make the drive and check it out, you will fall in love. Check them out online here.

My Weekend {in Photos}

Camp drop offs galore for us this weekend (SO MUCH PACKING AND NAME BUBBLING)! Leven is spending the week at Camp Little Notch and Finn is spending TWO WEEKS (omg) at Camp Chingachgook, the first time away for both of them. Meanwhile back at the ranch, Jack is doing his first week of camp at Ndakinna, where Finn spent the past few summers. Before the big drop offs we spent some time at the track for breakfast and YES I went blueberry picking AGAIN I can't help myself. I have a lot of kids, they eat a lot. It's necessary, but I'm pretty sure they're not going to want another blueberry until next summer after this.

We Don't Do Everything Right, But We Do This Right

I remember, before I had kids, (you know, when you are a parenting expert) how I would imagine things would be as a family. I would never yell and never lose my temper and would feed them only organic food and we would all sit around singing kumbaya all the time in absolutely blissful familial peace. Okay, I added that kumbaya bit, but you get my drift. I basically had no idea what I was getting into.

Especially with SO MANY kids (ed note: five still doesn't feel like a lot), there are plenty of things I do "wrong" or things I do that I didn't think I would do. I cut corners, I make mistakes, I'm human, and for the most part I don't beat myself up too much about it anymore. I have accepted that yes, believe it or not, parenting is a work in progress that chances are you will never actually master. I do things wrong. We all do.

So what do we do right? We eat together, every single day. We sit down, in our actual dining room, and eat dinner together, every day. Sometimes it's an actual healthy, well thought out meal that was home cooked, sometimes it's pasta with canned peas thrown in (and sometimes its sandwiches) but the point is, we sit down together and eat.

It's our thing. It's what works for us.

The kids can rely on the fact that we will be there, together, eating together, and the other day I marveled at the fact that we do actually pull it off almost every single night. Yes we have sleepovers and sports practices and other things that come up, but we work around it. We eat early, or late, we make it work, because we committed to it. If someone misses a meal with the whole family it's pretty rare.

I'm not saying we have deep, meaningful conversations every evening over dinner. To be honest, right now a lot of the conversations revolve around the potential for dessert, but there is always a check in, a chat about how their day went. They get a chance to tell their little stories and little jokes, and most importantly, there is the time, and the chance, to talk, if they want to. In a household that can sometimes get a little loud and rambunctious, they each have their own quiet, settled down time to share.

But the thing is, it's not about dinner or what you're serving them for dinner, it's about the consistency. It's about making the time to connect with the kids on a daily basis, so it can be in the morning, it can be in the afternoon after school, it can be story time and the bedtime routine. Pick a thing, and do it, every single day.

The easiest way to do it is to just start. Even if you haven't used your dinner table for a meal since never, dust that puppy off and get some snazzy placemats at Target and eat your dinner together. Pizza on paper plates? We do it all the time. At the table. Together. Tell the kids they'd better get their butts in those seats in time for food and keep doing it. Or start a story time ritual at night. Read a little book and have a little chat and make sure you're there to do it more nights than not. Remember that just being there makes a world of difference, even if you're tired, even if your kids will eat 0% of the dinners you make. Just do it and keep doing it. You won't regret it.

My {Opening} Weekend in Photos

I spend most of the weekend between two places, the race track and the blueberry patch, and honestly, it was kind of perfect. Opening Day I fit in a couple hours between camp pick up to watch a few races and then Saturday we brought the whole family over.

In years past I would have probably spent more time at the races, maybe more time at all the dinners and galas and hoopla, but lately it feels 1,000% better to pop in for an hour or two then change back into cutoffs and flip flops and spend the rest of the day hanging out with the kids in the middle of a blueberry patch, just us. That's what I love about Saratoga, one hour you can be in the middle of a huge crowd all cheering on the ponies, and the next you can bike over to a farm and bike home to make pancakes all in less than an hour.

I had so many of you ask about the custom monogrammed jockey pieces I had this weekend, if you are interested in getting one of your own, email me at Jenny@Mamatoga.com but the time frame for these items is extremely limited so orders will be taken on a first come, first served basis. You can get the jockey on a vintage bermuda bag, a large boat tote, you name it, we can design it for you... xoxo

Mamatoga is SIX

Believe it or not, when I started this little mom blog I had two kids. IT'S TRUE! Now I have five kids, a second site (here) and I literally am in disbelief that I have been writing this blog for six years.

Now, before I get all sappy, I want to tell you the number one thing that keeps this blog going. No, it's not coffee, it's no longer wine, what it is, is small businesses. If it wasn't for small businesses, there is absolutely no way I would be able to keep this little blog game going. Local businesses that believe in me enough to want to have their little ad there on the sidebar help make it happen, and I can't tell you enough how grateful I am for small businesses. So when you scroll through and see the ads, those people are the reason this blog (and this one) is even HERE, and it means they are small business owners themselves that believe in other small businesses and I'm just gonna go ahead and say it, they are all awesome people.

I also want to thank you guys for reading. Please please please if you ever see me in Target or out and about in town, say hi. I love meeting all of you, and I've had so many people comment "I saw you but I didn't want to bother you". The fact that anyone EVER reads this stuff I write is the biggest thrill of my life and I am not joking when I say I love meeting readers. It makes my day, and I love you guys.

Now, drum roll please...the top six blog posts EVER here on Mamatoga!

Women I Want My Daughter to Admire

On Breasts

The Phrase That Will Shut Down the Judgement

Pet Peeve: Dads Watching Their Own Kids are Not "Babysitting"

I Didn't "Lose" Myself in Motherhood

Something Has to Give

I love what I do, and I love this blog, and I hope it can change and evolve and grow just at this not so little anymore family of mine continues to grow. Thank you guys. xoxo

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My Weekend in Photos

Last week was my 39th birthday, and to celebrate my good friend Jess and I took a mini road trip to Woodstock to sleep in a tipi and swim in a stream. We EVEN built our own fire (after a few attempts) and made the BEST. SMORES. EVER***. We shopped in the charming and quirky main street and even got a chance to visit a monastery. And even though it was just one night, it was pretty magical.

Woodstock is located just an hour and a half away from Saratoga Springs, so it is totally doable for an overnight or even just a day trip.

our Woodstock recommendations:

***get all those smores ingredients locally at Healthy Living Market and Cafe