Next up in the Mamatoga My Mom Life Series about family size is the Two and Through mamas. Were you totally absolutely 100% sure you were DONE after your second child? Wanna share with us? Then fill out the form below and be part of this series! To read the first posts in this series, click here for Erin's story and here for Leah's story.
Last week, a good friend of mine had a baby. A beautiful, healthy baby, and I was so happy and excited for her and I got major baby fever just being in the same room as her. And the thing is, even though I was so overjoyed and excited for her, I was also....anxious. For her. Not because of her, but because of me.
Having been through my own experience with postpartum depression, every time I see a new mom I get a little bit anxious. I worry that she will feel the way I did, I worry that she won't feel comfortable reaching out, I worry that she will feel ashamed or alone or scared. The thing is, postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety still kind of feel like a secret that none of us wants to talk about. You don't want to be Debbie Downer when someone is celebrating a new life coming into this world. I even sometimes get anxious that by mentioning it I will somehow make them feel that way too, which I of course realize is ridiculous. But with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety there can be so much shame and guilt, it's not the easiest thing to talk about. But it's also not uncommon, the fact is, more women will suffer from postpartum depression and related illnesses this year than the combined number of new cases for men and women of tuberculosis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy (read more here).
But, again, you want to be positive, you want to celebrate, so you don't say anything and you reassure yourself that if they are struggling they will talk to their OBGYN about it, or maybe the pediatrician, or their mother, or a sister or a close friend. You hope they will, if they need to.
But, just in case they don't, let's all try to create a space for our sisters and our friends, where they can share with us if they are struggling. No stigma and no judgment, make it part of your welcoming of the new baby to check in with the mom. Make sure you check in with her. Yes we all know new moms aren't sleeping and new moms are tired, but take the time to really check in with her and make sure she feels supported, make sure she knows she is not alone, that you are there to talk, you are there to support. That you can be the one to call if she has the "baby blues" (god I really hate that term). And don't forget, postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety can happen to anyone, any time (and remember, you are always a new mom). It can be your first or your fourth or your sixth. For me, it was with my second baby. And with it being my second, it kind of took me off guard. This didn't happen the first time, what is wrong with me this time? It made me even less likely to want to talk about it.
So to all of you, my close friends and those of you that read the blog but maybe we've never met, just know that when you have a new baby, I am so happy for you, and I also worry about you, because I have been there. And if you need someone to talk to, I am here for you. Shoot me an email at Jenny@mamatoga.com if you ever need to talk about postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. You are not alone. xoxo
When it came to makeup and beauty products, I used to be really old school, and I mean that literally-most of the stuff on my shelf was the same stuff I used in high school, yes really. This was partly out of laziness, partly out of lack of knowledge, and partly because I am on the cheap side when it comes to spending money on myself.
I'll admit though, something was lacking for me in the health and beauty department. Maybe because I'm going to turn 40 this summer, but the old tried and true stuff just wasn't doing it for me anymore, so I decided to branch out. Let me share my newest must haves...
The real truth is, I fell in love with two brands after trying a couple of products (talked about those first new ones here). I was so hooked on the first couple of new purchases I thought what the hell, might as well try a few more new ones and just throw caution to the wind. Basically, I've thrown out all the old school stuff and have fully gone over to the new school side, no looking back.
Since adding Glossier's Boy Brow and Cloud Paint I've also added Haloscope and the Milky Jelly cleanser to my every day routine. Now, I would never, EVER have bought a highlighter normally. My skin tends to be on the oily side, so I've always assumed a highlighter would make my face look greasy, but I was totally wrong. Haloscope is at the same time subtle and eye catching, and you can use a little or use a lot and still not look like you have "makeup" on. I put a little on the tops of my cheekbones and at the corner of my eyes (I prefer the Quartz shade) and I wonder how I went out of the house without it before. It brightens and lightens my entire face, and I like to swipe it on my eyelids for a nighttime look.
Milky Jelly has replaced any other cleanser I had under the sink. Honestly, I'm not sure if it even has an actual scent, but I love the smell of it. I use it on dry skin and wet skin, and it takes off makeup and moisturizes and leaves zero residue. I have it on automatic order so I never run out. I love my Glossier stuff so much I was so excited when they emailed me to ask if I wanted to be a rep for them, and if you click the button below you'll get 20% off your first order AND free shipping with a $30+ order. Email me if you have any questions about their stuff or what to get, I have tried a BUNCH of their stuff now and keep trying new stuff.
I also told you guys about my newfound love of The Ordinary, and it has developed past crush phase into full blown infatuation. Buffet and the Niacinamide 10% Zinc 1% are my morning routine (after Milky Jelly) and I've added seriously like eight other serums to my regimen since then. Now, a word of caution, some of these aren't good for sensitive skin and I STRONGLY suggest reading through the reviews and the suggestions on the site before ordering, but get yourself some Buffet asap and start hoarding from there. So far I've been loving the Alpha Lipoic Acid 5% (just a few drops a night, a few times a week) and the Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%. Again, make sure you read the reviews AND do a test before using these! I've had amazing results but everyone is different. Just sayin'.
I mean, that can be true for a number of reasons, but for today's purposes, I am calling myself a total cliche because I gave up drinking on New Year's Day, the most cliche day to give up drinking ever. I didn't plan on giving up drinking on New Year's Day, it just kind of...happened, and as it comes around again, I realize it has almost been an entire year since I have had any alcohol.
Never being hungover at all anymore is of course amazing, especially since it really only took a couple glasses of wine for me to have a headache and be tired the next day. I still joke that if I didn't get hungover at all I would probably never have stopped drinking, but what made me decide to stop altogether on New Year's Day was the fact that I had only had a few drinks and still felt like crap the next day. Add in the fact that I only had those drinks because it was "NEW YEAR'S EVE WOO HOO" and even though I was spending it at home in my pjs I still felt obligated to "celebrate" a little.
Why did I feel like I should celebrate? The same reason I used to feel like I should have a glass of wine at bedtime. I'm a mom! I have five kids! Of COURSE I need a drink, right? I mean isn't that what moms do to relax? Fill up "Mommy's Sippy Cup" with a little white wine and kick back a little? That's what we are lead to believe, at least. That was the cliche I used to buy into. That as stressed out parents we deserve it, we really need it, actually. It makes us better parents to relax once in a while, right? Why else would we have wine called "Mommy's Time Out" or movies like "Bad Moms" where getting tanked is supposed to be funny and par for the course of motherhood?
The truth is, women are "celebrating" more than ever before. A recent study in JAMA Psychiatry found that between 2002 and 2013, "high-risk drinking," which is defined as consuming four or more drinks a day, rose among women by 58%, compared with a 29.9% rise for the general population, and "problem drinking," or drinking so much that it causes significant problems in your life and/or the inability to stop drinking, rose by 83.7% among women during this period, compared with a 50% rise in the general population. That's huge.
Probably the biggest thing I realized when I quit drinking though, was that I wasn't having a drink at the end of the day to "relax", I was having a drink at the end of the day to make me feel better for falling short of self imposed expectations. Falling short of what I thought I should be doing. Working more, volunteering more, spending more "quality time" with literally every single person in my life. Just being better at everything, in general. Falling short of that ugly little "Super Mom" idea we all seem to have bought into.
The problem was, although having a glass of wine temporarily made me feel better for my shortcomings, having that same glass of wine would actually become one of my percieved shortcomings, so it turned into a fun little cycle of feeling bad about things. I felt bad for not being a better parent so I'd have a glass of wine to feel better about that then I'd feel bad about having a glass of wine to feel better about feeling bad. Sounds totally normal, right?
I realized not only did I need to give up drinking that did nothing for me whatsoever, I also needed to finally give up the idea that anyone can, or should be, "super", basically, ever. We are not meant to be comic book heroes. Let's get one thing straight, parenting will be hard, you do not need to make excuses, you will fail, let me repeat that, you WILL fail, we all do, sometimes every single day, as most humans do. Becoming a mother does not automatically exempt you from being able to make mistakes. You will never be a perfect parent, nobody ever was or ever will be, so don't even try. I mean, when did the standards get so high, anyway? Forget "Bad Moms", can we go back to being just "moms", along with the good, the bad, and the ugly? Since when did not doing crafts and being an actual person with regular flaws make you a "bad mom"? Do I really want my kids to think that I do everyting perfectly? Hell to the no.
The truth is, I don't have an issue with moms drinking, I have an issue with moms thinking they need to have a drink in order to be better parents, or need to feel bad for not being perfect. I used to think that I needed that glass of wine to get through the tough days, but in reality, I don't. I wasn't doing anything wrong by falling short of a ridiculous ideal I held in my own head. I needed to skip the wine to see that I really just needed to accept myself as a mother the way I was, flaws and all. My kids already did, so I could too. This New Year's Eve, I will be toasting with my pink grapefruit seltzer to my one year anniversary of giving up wine, but also to the anniversary of giving myself a break.
If you haven't gotten a chance to read this piece by contributor Jennifer VanDerwerken, give it a read over the holiday break.
Click the button below to read the piece. I wish all of you so much love and light this holiday season, hug each other and enjoy the break together. xoxo Jenny
Earlier today, I received a card in the mail. It is pictured below, with my address hidden.
It frightens me beyond belief that someone would take the time to write this card, and mail it to me, finding out my address. Cutting the "ho ho ho" part out. Really just taking the time to do this. It's scary.
But I want you to know, I won't be bullied.
I will NOT be bullied.
Could this be a reaction to this post where I called out the strangers who harrassed us at my daughter's ballet performance? Maybe, but those individuals were nameless and description-less in my piece, other than age ranges and gender, so it is surprising that someone would get that worked up about it, but then again, they called me a horrible parent for bringing a three year old to the ballet so who knows really.
So I wanted to share this with all of you, in the hopes that one of you know who decided to send this to me, and decided to threaten me and my family, and name call. Purposely using the holiday to disguise their hatred. If this handwriting looks familiar to you, or you know who did this, email me immediately at Jenny at mamatoga.com. I will not put up with anonymous, bullying behavior. It won't be tolerated. I will stand up for myself and I will always, always stand up for and protect my family.
I will also always strive to keep this space a positive community, as I have for the past seven years, but again, I want all of you to know that I won't be bullied. I won't. Don't mess with the Mama Bear.
You didn't take any joy out of my holiday, random stranger(?) who decided to be a Grinch. If anything you have made me want to make everything that much brighter around me and my community. You lose.
Ever since me and Matt started dating back in 2013 we had talked and joked about having a kid one day... well little would we know about a half year later we would be finding out I was pregnant. Finding out that was scary but a great feeling because I already knew I was with the person I wanted to raise a family with and marry, so fast forword to January 15, 2015 the day the most amazing thing that would ever happen, happened.
We had always talked about having more and if we really wanted to have more and after talking to people who were pregnant with their second child and hearing a lot of them say that they are excited but don't really care much about the pregnancy because they already went through it with their first, really got me thinking that I don't wanna do that again it wouldn't be fair to another child to feel that way, and financially in the world we live in today it just wasn't a good idea.
Honestly, I don't think I could ever love another child or human the way I do my daughter, we have been through way to much that I forever want her to have my attention. When she was 9 months my daughter had a seizure while she was with my mother in law and my husband and I were both working. The EMTs and everyone thought we would lose her and thankfully she is still here.
After that I become a stay at home mom up until a few weeks ago actually....and it's a challenge having one kid because, well, they constantly want and need you attention. But luckily I have 3 cats and a dog and an ipad that keep her busy when I need a little me time or the laundry needs folding. That would honestly be the only challenge thus far we have faced with having an only child.
The perks are she's my best friend. She is so smart and can learn so quickly because I can give her that one on one time. She knows how to use her imagination so well and in my eyes seems happier than some kids with siblings, and weirdly enough she isn't around kids too much but when she is she loves to share.
A lot of people always tell us we are going to regret not giving her a brother or sister, but that's when another animal can come into play. Everyone always says she's gonna be lonely but with the way her personality is thus far I don't see that happening. And of course they say shes gonna wish she had siblings and she may but think of it this way, but I feel most kids with siblings wish to be the only child and kids who are only children wish the other way around.
People who choose to be only children families do it for a legit reason and they do it because they know that is the best option for their family. I get to spoil one child for the rest of her life and not have to worry about kids fighting or buying multiple toys or the feeling of knowing you are so tight on money and can't afford something. And when I am 45 I'm still young enough to go back to doing what I want and she can be a part of it.
My advice to give someone who is thinking about being a one and done family... is do what you know is right, don't listen to anyone else and make sure it's what you really want, but know that I have yet to regret it and couldn't be happier in the choice we made as a family.
Thank you to Leah for taking part in this series, to read the first piece in the series, click here.
In my eleven years of parenting, we have been through some nightlights. The ones that project a happy little scene onto the wall, the ones that also do music, the turtles that project constellations onto the ceiling, basically ANY nightlight on the market I have tried. And I have found some good ones, until they broke. Our latest favorite, I won't name names, but it was from a decent brand, and it was so super cute and I loved it, until the little soft button got pushed in just a tad too hard and never came out. This was the second one we got that broke too, the first one broke when the batteries wouldn't stay in.
But I digress...
What I wanted for my dream nightlight (I mean my toddler's dream nightlight of course was: a) someting bright but not obnoxiously bright that would keep the other kids up (they share a room yes all four of them) b) something that couldn't be a flashlight, this ties in with that annoying factor, no one wants a flashlight shined in their eyes at 2am (myself included), c) something portable that she could bring with her to the bathroom, and d) something not overpriced. See, I got you there, right?! I bet all of you had something in mind until I said that overpriced thing right?? I say "not overpriced" because at this point in THE SAGA THAT IS SLEEP TRAINING I don't want to, nay, I WON'T spend that much money on something that will work for one night and then never again.
Recently, because we have a kitten and he's insane, I have switched over to LED candles completely. And this is where I got my obvious idea, and handed three candles over to Talley to keep in bed with her. Now, they use AA batteries, so no scary "button batteries" with these. Also, I picked them up at AC Moore for like under ten bucks, so if one breaks, no big deal. She can put one at the end of her bed, one next to it, she can even sleep with one for all I care as long as she stays in her bed, and you know what? It seems to be working!! (KNOCK ON WOOD OMG DON'T JINX ME!!!!!!!).
I may or may not have also strung snowflake lights along her bed (her "complaint" is that it's "too dark" in her bed, but that same darkness in my room is okay I guess?).
So if you're in the same boat as me, go buy a ton of LED candles, the big ones, come up with a cutesy story about them being magical sleep candles if you feel so inclined, and hit the hay. Good luck mamas!
Tonight's the night! The First Annual Mini City Holiday Market is taking place at Farmers Hardware at 35 Maple Ave, Saratoga Springs from 6-9pm! We will have a ton of local vendors stocked with goodies ready to buy and take home for everyone on your list:
- Saratoga Bath Company
- Saratoga Botanicals
- The Bundle Store
- Bobbins and Needles and Threads, Oh My!
- Crooked By Design
- Miss Scarlett's Boutique
- Saratoga Sundress
- Razimus Jewelry
- Upstate Crate Co.
- Feathered Antler
- Lavenlair Farm
Festive food and drink from Farmers Hardware, meeting up with good friends and guess what? Some AMAZING door prizes! To enter you just have to be there, and tickets will be available at the door tonight so grab a girlfriend or two and meet us there tonight! Click the button below to see the giveaways from our local vendors!
Last weekend we had such an incredible experience with watching our oldest daughter perform as Clara with the Northeast Ballet Company at Proctors in the Nutcracker. Truly, one of the best moments of my life, I am so damn proud of that girl. And every since that night, I told myself "Jenny, you want to keep things positive, so don't mention the woman who yelled at you at the show" but the thing is, I just can't.
Nor should I, really. Because unfortunately, as much as you can find your village, your tribe, don't forget there are also village idiots out there, at all times, just waiting to jump in and ruin that vibe. Especially when you are a parent. There will always be someone telling you "YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG". Allow me to explain...
My family and some extended family all bought tickets for the Nutcracker, where my oldest daughter was performing as Clara. She was only Clara in the Saturday night show, her co-Clara was going to be Clara in the Sunday afternoon show, so it was our only chance to see her onstage in that role. At the last minute a few of our family members couldn't come because of ear infections, so we had a few extra seats. The one year old, Welles, was at home with a sitter because we knew she wouldn't sit through a show. But Talley, we thought she was ready, at three, to watch the big show.
Talley was so excited to see her Grandpa who lives a few hours away, and at the last minute right before the show started she decided she and I should go sit with him in the open seats (which were, admittedly, better than the ones we had, they were like RIGHT in front and center of the stage). I was excited to be a little closer, and already on the verge of happy tears to see all the hard work of these kids finally come to fruition.
The lights go down, the curtain rises, and there she is, my Clara. Only, Talley then decides at this moment she in fact did not want to sit there anymore, and wanted instead to sit with her dad, who was on the other side of the theater. She's three, she changes her mind, kind of goes with the program. We were minutes, mere minutes into this performance, and I know this because not only have I watched this show from the audience five times but I have also watched it in rehearsals countless times so I could, in fact, point out just what minute we were at.
Talley was whispering to me "I want to go sit with Papa", whispering, and not just a three year old stage whisper type deal, she was ACTUALLY whispering. I pleaded with her, "Let's just sit here" I bribed her with some candy, I tried everything I could, all the while keeping my voice, and hers, at a whisper while trying to keep my eyes on the stage where my oldest daughter was dancing.
Talley decides nope, she is going to stand up in the aisle, right directly next to her seat, not in front of anyone (not that it matters because she is 3 and therefore a shrimp whom anyone could see over). A woman behind me starts to huff and puff as I gently and very quietly plead with Talley to please sit down, my last ditch effort, because I know that once you leave during the peformance, they don't let you back in, so not only would Talley not get to sit with her dad, we would have to watch Act 1, where most of the Clara dancing takes place, from behind the glass doors. Again, we were still under ten minutes into the show, and the woman behind me leans forward and says, rather loudly, "You need to leave, you are being really rude".
Surprised, and flustered by the whole thing, I lean over to her and say "She's three years old, give me a break" before I immediately leave my seat and walk Talley out of the theater so as to not disturb anyone.
Now, let me explain a little further. This is Tallis we are talking about here. If any of you know us or have read this blog regularly, Talley is a three year old like no other. I mean she can throw it down like a CHAMP, I have dragged this child kicking and screaming out of stores many a time so I KNOW when a kid is being rude thankyouverymuch. And the crazy thing is, on a scale of one to ten on the toddler richter scale, she was seriously being a 2, MAYBE. A 3 tops. She was, in fact, behaving like a completely "normal" three year old would.
We stood there, watching from behind the glass doors, tears streaming down my face because I was so proud of my daughter but also kind of shocked by the interaction with the stranger behind me, and I tried really, really hard to not let it get to me. No I did not want my child to disturb anyone, but I also felt it was not necessary to yell at me and my three year old, who was just standing in the aisle, whispering.
Did I let it go?
I did not, you guys.
Instead I threw propriety right under the bus and the very second they opened the doors for intermission I walked, nay, stalked down the aisle to my now empty seat, holding Talley's hand. I found the woman, and her mother, and a man in his 20s or 30s who was presumably her son, and I stood there and told her, "I was not being rude, I apologize if her whispering disturbed you, but this is a family show and she has a ticket and has every right to be here."
The woman crossed her arms over her chest and said "You are a horrible parent for bringing that child here."
OH YES SHE DID.
I was dumbstruck (to put it mildly), and while Talley hopped onto the seat next to my father I asked the woman, "I'm a horrible parent? How so?". The woman responded by telling me "You shouldn't bring a kid her age to the ballet, especially if she acts like that."
"Acts like that? SHE'S THREE." I use all caps here because I was living in ALL CAPS at this point.
"I don't see any other kids here acting like she was", the woman sniffed, gesturing around the theater. Now her mother got into it as well, telling me I must be a horrible mother "to have a child like that", pointing at Talley, who was two feet away from her, now obliviously giggling with my dad who was doing an amazing job of letting his daughter yell back at a stranger without interfering. Also, it was all happening so fast, I mean even I was surprised I was yelling at a stranger in the middle of the theater.
Anger really wasn't the exact emotion I experienced at this point, it was more like a burning hot rage mixed with the intense anxiety I always get when I watch my daughter perform. It was not a good combo, let me tell you. I kind of wanted to tell her "You think whispering and standing in the aisle is bad? Last week she removed her boots, hat and shoes in the aisle at Target and told me LOUDLY to leave her there because Target was her new home, but yeah, THIS IS BAD." But I didn't share this with her. It took all my reserve to not freak out.
Now, let me put in another aside here. I discipline this child. I do. We are not a "let kids be kids" in every single situation type of family. I want them to be respectful and polite, and I make a concerted effort to instill that in them at every turn. And you know what? They need to experience life in order to know how to react and behave in new and different situations. As a mother of five, I feel like I am even more under the microscope because people will immediately jump to the "you can't handle all these kids" if one of them acts out, but the thing is, that night, it was just me and Talley in those seats, all my other kids were sitting elsewhere (or were onstage or at home with a babysitter).
Like an idiot, I told the woman she owed me an apology for saying I was a horrible mother. Why did I even say this? I have no idea. I was just so confused, and upset, and basically experiencing every negative emotion at once. She wasn't going to apologize (ah duh) and continued instead to tell me I was a "horrible" parent that needs to "take care of that child" who was a "real brat".
My father was now standing at this point, asking the woman in a quiet voice to please stop pointing at his granddaughter, and my parting words to her were "I hope you enjoy the rest of the show, that dancer, Clara, the main character? That's my other daughter who we came to see, that's why I brought my three year old, so she could see her big sister dance. I hope she does a good job for you guys."
And we walked out for intermission. I was, well, I was pissed. Extremely, extremely pissed. I was angry for letting this woman get to me, I was angry that I responded, and I was just upset that it had felt like the beginning, or even the entire, show, was now ruined because of the whole debacle. My husband calmed me down, took Talley back with him to our other seats, and I pulled myself together. I went back though, to the seat next to my father. I didn't turn around, I didn't acknowledge them in any way, the show started and I watched the rest of it without issue. When it was over, after purposely staying put in my seat to give them enough time to vacate the theater, I finally stood up to leave.
They were still there. Waiting for me, apparently, because everyone else had started to leave or had already left. "Miss, miss!" The young man/son (?) was calling to me, and then began shoving my shoulder aggresively from behind. I just shrugged and turned around to face the stage again, while my father said something along the lines of "That's enough, please go", but before they finally left the guy put his face right up to my back and said "Real mature, you're a real asshole lady".
And then they left, and I never saw them again, and I hopefully never will. The chances of them reading this blog are probably close to zero, so why even write it? To be honest, I wasn't going to. I thought I put it behind me, I mean, people are weird, let's face it. But it stayed with me because yes, I did need to speak my mind. My child was being fine, it wasn't a big deal (other people in the audience by me backed this up after the show, strangers whom I didn't even know but had witnessed the interaction). But I felt embarassed, in a way, that I had even responded. I felt kind of ashamed for "making a scene" (yes it was during intermission and I'm sure no one even really noticed).
But at the time I thought to myself, screw this, as I stood there watching the show from outside, I thought, I'm going speak my damn mind right now, because this is bullsh*t. So I did. And I don't need to apologize for it. I told them how I felt in a dignified, restrained way (i.e. I didn't curse or name call), and I wanted to because I am so tired of feeling like as women, as mothers, we need to be "NICE" all the time. Or be apologetic for things we don't need to apologize for. Even though I DID apologize for any disturbance my child may have caused them, I didn't need to. She was three, I handled it, it was a family show, and that's it. I wasn't in the wrong. In my rage clouded brain I wanted to remember the story with me standing up for myself, not stewing about it for weeks afterward wishing I had said something (yes I realize I am kind of still semi "stewing" right now but bear with me).
I don't want my daughters to be apologizers. I don't want them to be nice makers.
I certainly don't want them to appease someone over something that isn't their fault, or something that they need not apologize for. I want them to stand up for themselves, and I want them to stand up to someone who is going to try and push them around. I want them to be kind and giving and generous and gentle people, but I don't want them to be "nice" because they feel like they should be. And basically if someone is going to call you an asshole at the Nutcracker because you brought your three year old, you don't have to be nice.
Would Talley remember any of it? No, she's three, she probably will have zero memory of mommy arguing with a stranger at the ballet. My daughter on stage had zero idea it was happening, and I didn't tell her about it afterward either.
Mostly I wanted to write about it to excise this from my brain, to try to separate this ugly interaction from what was otherwise such a beautiful experience. I also wanted to point out to all of you that yes, you are 100% going to encounter people who want to tell you you are doing it wrong as a parent, or that you are doing a bad job, or that you should be doing it differently, and I want to tell you, trust yourself. Do it the way you feel is right. And hopefully for every adult out there who will tell you that you're an asshole for bringing a child to the ballet, there is another one to tell you to do your thing, mama. Do your thing.
Okay technically these are gifts you could choose to give any mama on your list, but I really want all of them.
There's a lot I can say about my oldest daughter's experience in the Nutcracker with the Northeast Ballet Company, and a lot I have said in the past. It is an intense, exciting, magical time every year and even though all of us Nutcracker parents seem to lose our minds at some point during the real crunch time I know I'm not alone at being sad when it is over each year.
Highlights this year included: NYC Ballet dancer Lauren Lovette handing out flowers from her own bouquet to the girls that were gathered around her (I cried, it was so sweet). Watching Leven perform as Clara for her second year and thinking, wow, that is the same goofball that still falls off her chair at our dinner table up there looking so big and grown up and beautiful (I cried then too). Watching her friend Anna perform as Clara on Sunday in the second show, remembering when she and Leven were teeny tiny Gingerbreads when they started at five years old (more crying).
The friendships these kids form over the course of their rehearsals and the shows, it's incredible to watch. It's like you are watching in real time as they make memories that you know will stay with them forever. And anything you've heard about "dance moms" being crazy doesn't apply here. This group of parent volunteers is such a family, supporting each other and supporting each other's children to help make sure everyone has a positive experience and that everyone feels part of this great big show they put on.
If you came to see the show this year, thank you, I hope you loved it even half as much as these kids love performing it for you all. And if you want to hop on the amazing, unforgettable crazy train that is Nutcracker with the Northeast Ballet Co. come to auditions next September, I will see you there.
My husband is notoriously hard to shop for, mainly because he always says he "doesn't want any gifts" and also because he's a pretty simple guy who doesn't require a ton of...stuff. Every year I struggle to find something to surprise him with (also cause his birthday is so close to Christmas) and this year I think I've found a few little gems that will be a welcome surprise under the tree (especially that surprise staycation overnight at the chicest little hotel in town, and let's face it, it's also kind of a gift for me too)...
In our family we are lucky enough to have engaged, generous, loving grandparents who will definitely take advantage of the Grandparent Card when it comes to "spoiling" the grandkids and we are eternally grateful for them. What we sometimes don't want, admittedly, is more toys at the holidays, because we have A LOT OF TOYS. Too many toys. Even for five kids, we have too many toys and I am constantly trying to weed them out. So this year, while I know there will still be toys given at the holidays, I have also simplified gift giving with one link from Ugift®. So what's Ugift®?
Ugift® is an automated online program that lets you share the 529 college savings plan gift contribution with grandparents and relatives. You can send notifications by email (or even print them), and by using a unique Ugift code that you provide them, gift givers can contribute to your account electronically or by mail. It's that simple. Using Ugift® I can have grandparents and relatives contribute to the 529 college savings accounts I have for the kids, which, let's face it, is going to be a much more important gift than a Hatchimal that is going to get lost in the mix come January.
Now I know what you're thinking, "I have about 8 billion things to do for the holidays, and setting up a college savings account is not one of them". I'm here to tell you, it takes like ten minutes, seriously. When I first set mine up almost a year ago (read more about that experience here), I was worried it would be complicated and would require a lot of maintenance and would be another thing to add to my already overloaded to-do list, but the truth is? I totally forgot about it, only I didn't really forget about it, because we chose the plan that automatically adds recurring contributions (also known as an automatic investment plan or AIP), which are set amounts moved from your checking or savings account on a regular basis.
There are no fees to open an account in New York's 529 College Savings Program Direct Plan, and there is no minimum contribution amount to get started. Once you have an account, you'll pay only $1.50 in fees per year for every $1,000 you invest in the Direct Plan (0.15% total annual asset-based fee).
So once you have it all set up, to use Ugift you just log on to your 529 plan account, select the appropriate account number, select Ugift and follow the instructions, and poof! The college savings wish list is done. Again, anyone can contribute, not just the account owner. And college savings is seriously a fantastic gift for a child of any age.
Want to find out more about New York's 529 College Savings Program Direct Plan? Click here to read my blog from when I first set mine up, and click here to read a ton more of FAQs and great tips on getting started.
Disclaimer: Compensation was provided by NY 529 Direct via Momtrends. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of NY 529 Direct or Momtrends.
Like a lot of people, I have two looks when it comes to clothes: 1) Stuff I Wear Outside the House, and 2) Pajamas, and for me, there's really not a lot of in between. Now, let's get one thing straight, I am NOT nor have I ever been someone to wear pajamas outside of the house, but what I will do is change into pajamas as quickly as humanly possible after entering the house. Like I actually can FEEL myself getting uncomfortable the longer I have to wear "outside clothes" after I've gotten home and am in for the day.
The thing is, it's not so much "pajamas" as what we kind of collectively refer to as "lounge wear". You know, leggings, old t-shirts, sweatshirts. So basically stuff I would consider sleeping in and wearing all day if no one really sees me, but would not want to have to wear out in public. Although I do have a thing for cute pajamas and sweet nightgowns (as evidenced in the above photo), nine times out of ten I'm wearing the scrubbiest possible sweatpants/leggings/old t shirt combos you can imagine, which is just fine by me. And, I'll admit, even though I'm not a "pajamas in public" person, especially in the winter, you throw a big coat over any of that and you really can't tell I'm wearing what I slept in. Let's call it "home wear", shall we?
The thing is, the other day I somehow found myself with enough time to binge watch the beginning of a new Amazon show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and OMG do I love it. The titular character, Midge Maisel, is a 1950s housewife who decides to take a different path after her husband leaves her (not really spoiler alert? I don't know I'm bad at spoilers) and her outfits are the fifties to die for looks that we all know and love, especially the pajamas. Can we call them pajamas? As my friend Alice from Book Club said, "It’s distressing to me that Mrs. Masel has nicer bedclothes than I have formalwear." Case in point...
I mean, that's what she wears to bed. That one nightgown is nicer than probably about 80% of what's in my closet right now. (She also pretends to fall asleep next to her husband and then puts her hair in rollers and puts on face cream so he doesn't see her like that ever, but that's another 50s Fun Fact we will not discuss at the moment.)
The point really is (yes I do have one), that it got me thinking about the effort, or lack thereof, that I put into my every day look, or even my every day self, really. This pajama trap is just another one that women fall into sometimes because we take care of ourselves last. Do I want to wear what looks like a prom dress to bed every night? Not really, but maybe I could make a slightly better effort at pulling myself together at home on the regular, at the very least investing in a cute set of pajamas that are actual pajamas and not leggings I have worn to bed and also to Target and also to school drop off and maybe also more places. I'm not talking about a full face of makeup to do laundry and work from my couch, but if I'm going to try to convince my three year old to let me brush her hair I guess I have to do the same for myself.
So what about you? Do you do the quick change as soon as you get home or do you have actual pajamas a la Midge Maisel?
One thing I want to avoid during the holidays? Buying stuff just so there is something under the tree for the kids. I also want to avoid buying more stuff that is just going to take up space on the playroom floor. This Wish List for the kids have it all covered: something to do, something to read, something to play with as a family, and more. Click the button below to see all of my hand picked local items for the kids...
click the button below to read the issue now
Welcome to my newest series in the ongoing My Mom Life Series, all about our different choices as far as family size. I am starting the series with some "One and Done" moms, those who choose to have their family size include one kiddo. This series is meant to open up a discussion, shed some light, and share some understanding about how other moms do their thing. The series will continue after the One and Done moms to include those with 2, 3, 4, and you guessed it, 5 kids (I might take a crack at that one) and even bigger families too! So if you want to be part of it shoot me an email at Jenny @ Mamatoga.com and we'll chat. Now let's see what Erin W. has to share with us about being a "One and Done" mom.
Erin: My husband and I are both from the area, but left for college and work after graduation (NH and PA). We returned to Upstate NY about 10 years ago and were married here. I have always worked in higher education and my husband (Mike) in aviation. We are avid lake people (boating & skiing), renovation junkies, landlords and house flippers who love to be outside. We now make our home in Johnstown, just west of Saratoga. I'm an Independent College Consultant for The College Advisor of NY (in Albany) and a Director with Thirty-One Gifts. Mike is a First Officer with American Airlines, based out of Philadelphia, PA. Emma was born in 2012 and turned our world upside down! We lost our 14 year old dog this year, followed by the adoption of two puppies (brothers) at the beginning of the summer. They're crazy!
Mamatoga: What are some of the perks of having an only child?
Erin: This is a hard question to answer, because I don't know life any other way. One thing that could be considered a "perk" is the fact that I never feel spread too thin where Emma is concerned. Even with Mike gone so much with work, I have plenty of energy to focus on her needs. With this 1:1 ratio most days, we do everything together; appointments, hobbies, day trips, shopping, dog class, movies, etc.
M: What are some of the challenges of having an only child?
Erin: I worry sometimes that I am spoiling her! Activities, toys, events and lessons all circle around Emma's interests. It concerns me to think that she may grow up thinking that she always gets to do what she wants to do!
M: What do you think are some of the misconceptions people have about only child families?
Erin: A few that really bother me ... that we are somehow not a "real" family or I'm not a "real" mom because we "only" have one child. As if to insinuate that we have it easier than others. It also bothers me that people sometimes assume that something is wrong health-wise, like that we can't have other children or have tried/failed, which is not the case.
M: What would you like to tell people about only child families?
Erin: We are a "real" family! :-) Our trio may operate on a smaller scale, but our house is still full of love and chaos, just like many other homes. We still have schedules to juggle, expenses and commitments to balance.
M: What is some advice you would give to someone who is considering being a “one and done” family?
Erin: You have to do what works for you! What makes sense for your family, your spouse, your heart and soul. One child may complete your family and that's only for YOU to decide.