Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Farewell to Summer!

I love fall!  It is my favorite season!!!  But it started showing it's face the first week in September, even a little early for me.

Despite a not beautiful day for swimming, we packed the kids up for one last play-day at the lake a few Sundays ago.  I was resistant and came very close to throwing a mommy temper tantrum - you know throwing my hands up in the air, stomping my feet, screaming and making it a PJ afternoon instead.  But we had already told the kids (like you can un-tell 4 excited kids that we are changing our minds) and I had already spent an hour collecting everything we'd need for an afternoon by the lake. 

We loaded 5 kids, the giant green swim bag, stroller and food into the car and drove out to our favorite local stop - Todd Lake.  The kids slept on the way out, and Mark and I were able to be quiet and just together. 

We arrived to a nearly empty parking lot :)  There was only one other family on the beach and they were packing up to leave.  THE LAKE TO OURSELVES FOR THE AFTERNOON - pure joy!!!  Mark and I could easily track and watch all the kids.  It was a bit chilly so all the kids wanted to do was wade and play in the sand.  And they were so peaceful and happy to just play together.  No fighting, no fussing, and very minimal whining.  It was an afternoon of pure bliss and it was so hard to leave.   The only bad part of those hours spent by the lake was our camera died just as the kids got dressed and were playing on the playground.  We missed catching some beautiful moments on "film".

But like summer, it had to come to an end!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Does it really matter to our kids what we wear as "mom"? 

To an extent, of course.  There is the willingness to be seen with us.  The example we are setting.  But really and truly my 7 and under crowd could care less whether I'm in my PJ's or dressed to the nines (which happens, NEVER!)  But, at least for me, how I dress does effect my attitude and perception of myself.  Pajama days are the greatest.  But if I ventured out our front door in my PJ's there is a feeling of relaxation that is not conducive to orchestrating a successful outing. 

So every morning (that we are leaving the house), I do put forth a good faith effort to put my best foot forward.  An effort to say to my self, my kids and the world that "yes, I am capable and we will have a great day!"  Does it always work, well - no!  But the effort is there and with effort there is promise and potential.

Eloise, was camera happy the other afternoon so I let her take pics of me and Mathilde...  I do feel more put together in my head than I feel I appear in said picture...but I made the effort!  And pretty proud of the outfit, as much for look as for cost.  Goodwill to the rescue - Seven for All Mankind jeans ($4, only problem the fly likes to not stay up, fixed with tiny kid hairband :) ), Ann Taylor Loft top ($3.50, Cashier at the grocery store complemented it :) after telling me I looked tired - GRRR!)

So from my girls perspective - "Mommy, you look pretty today!"  Gotta love those sweet little voices. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dressing for the job you want....

not the job you have!  This is critical within the workforce.  We have focused on always making sure that Mark's work attire fits not the job he has, but the job he hopes to get next.  This has meant dress shirt, tie, dress slacks and me ironing EVERY morning for the last year.  I'm sure as we ready for the next step, we'll be throwing in another suit, a few sports jackets and maybe, nicer shoes.

But what does this adage mean for us - moms?!   This question is something I've wondered about a lot since Mathilde was born and I started getting my "real" clothes back out of storage.  There were A LOT of solids, a variety of sizes, many stains and even a few holes....very pitiful.  I looked at this wardrobe and my pony tail and wondered what this presentation of my self says to the world.  Well, actually forget what the world thinks, what message is this sending to my children.  I hope that one day they will look at their Daddy's career path and my career path and everything each entails with pride and ambition. 

But why on earth would they aspire to example in appearance and behavior had become blah! and very-overwhelmed-mother-of-five-who-doesn't-look-in-the-mirror looking.   This is the job I ALWAYS wanted - SAHM.  So why was I not dressing for this job - Confident, Capable, Organized Mother of Five. 

It was way overdue that this mom's uniform get an overhaul!!!

But how? 

First, an attitude adjustment!!!  This is a DAILY adjustment.  A reminder that yes, I have the best job on the planet.  It is not to be taken for granted. 

Second, find came in many forms.  It needs to be functional.  It needs to be flattering.  Mark's opinions matters a lot.  But much of the "how to" inspiration has come from the ladies at ain't no mom jeans.  I do not know these ladies at all, but they are brilliant and fun to read, and best of all they write about things I think and recommend products I can see myself using, and even better can AFFORD!  And I was also beyond thrilled when they featured a mom, who was wearing almost an exact replica of my favorite summer outfit. (after I wore it first :) yeah me!)  They've also recommended two products that I nearly immediately went out and further recommendations needed -  Just BittenRevlon's lipstick and a tank by Yummie Tummie (bought one of ebay for a 1/4 the price) - both are my newest favorite things!!!!

Third, the hair HAD to be cut!  I knew it was at an all time low when a) I walked by a mirror and thought to myself "this ponytail looks great today!" and b) Mark started recommending different cuts!!!  So I did it :)  And because of this I have to get up every morning and shower and take the 5 minutes to do a minimal amount of helpful in the goal of feeling put together.

Attitude, check and frequently double checked!  Inspiration, check!   Grown up haircut, check! 

Action...  How does a mother with a thousand other priorities and the rare extra few dollars find and build a wardrobe.  I started by evaluating what I have...solids and jeans.  Then, bring in inspiration and layer...voila!  New outfits :)  Yeah me! 

Next, THRIFT STORES!!  Yes, it was not so long ago I was embarrassed to be seen near one and will now gladly proclaim my love from the mountain tops!!!  We went to Goodwill this weekend and I decided enough was enough on the fall wardrobe, this mommy was looking for her first (typically, circle the store - kids clothes, books, toys, then if there's any patience left look for myself).  The days finds - 2 pairs of jeans (both of the $150+ variety), 1 pair cargo pants, cute jacket, 1 vest, 2 tops!!!  Yippee.  A weeks worth of outfits for for $25.50...the same as 1 pair cargo pants!!!  I am so grateful the women of the world who pay full price for things and then give them away in "like new" condition. 

I have always dressed Mark and the kids with pride and to build their self esteem.  Hoping that they'll always be seen as ready for whatever the world throws at them.  It was time to start dressing me to be able to catch everything, and stop looking and thus feeling like everything had been dropped on me.

And if I didn't far prefer to be behind the camera instead of in front of it there might one day be a picture ;)  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Yo Gabba Gabba! Finn is 2!

It has been a crazy busy two weeks.  Sofia and Isobel went back to school.  I started a new playgroup and have been busy meeting new mommas and littles.  Eloise has started preschool.  Mathilde is mobile.  We served as housing during evacuation from Hurricane Irene for Mark's folks, sister, our niece and nephews and an assortment of 4-legged children.

But the biggest news Finn is TWO!!!!

And we welcomed in the TERRIBLE TWO's with our biggest themed birthday celebration yet!  This momma has been known to "over do" birthdays in the past, but this one was huge!!!  Our family has a strange and great love for Yo Gabba Gabba and Finn is IN love with them!  So the planning started way back in May, when I found a few tiered Gabba cakes.  And things kinds spiraled from there. 

There are very limited party supply places that stock the Yo Gabba Gabba theme so we ordered a pinata, plates, napkins and favors from Birthday Express.  The box arrived and this mommy was cute, so Gabba.  (Mark and I decided that there was no way we could bust DJ Lance's boombox pinata, so it served as decoration and will be displayed in Finn's room.)

And then there was the cake.  I drooled and pondered and schemed and finally settled on modeling Finn's cake after one by Sweet Elizabeth.  She was sweet enough to respond super fast (within 12 hours) to a query I sent on pan sizes and Brobee horns.  (FYI 10", 8", 6" + 1/2 a sports ball)

I knew I could tackle this cake, I had confidence, I had a vision, I HAD a clean kitchen!  (If you have ever worked with me or near me you know I'm not a neat worker :) )

The cake was going to be Plex, Brobee, and Muno.  I decided that I wanted the cake to be edible and didn't want to recipe test and have to eat numerous cakes to find the "right" from scratch recipe for us.  So I took the easy way out and used the box mixes.  Lemon for Plex, Strawberry for Muno, and double chocolate for Brobee.  I'm not an icing fan!  So I did go in search of a butter cream recipe, and found not only a great recipe, but a "crusting" recipe AND smoothing technique to make it look like fondant.  (Fondant = I think I'd love to try but to daunting in detail and cost to venture into)   And it worked beautifully :)  I forgot to buy the "right" paper towels for smoothing not once, but three separate grocery trips!  So tried a few things and the best alternative was a sandwich bag!  It is clear so you can see what your doing and doesn't cost $3+/roll!!!

I was able to mix one batch of icing for Muno, there would have been extra, but I colored it all before I thought about it.  And one batch for Muno and Brobee.  For Brobee, I did mix 1/2 butter-cream and 1/2 Wilton's decorators icing because the butter-cream was trying to fall off.  (My sister said the green didn't taste very good...oops!  But I was going for icing to stay on the cake not taste.  Backwards priorities?!  Maybe :))  For the coloring I used Wilton's black, red, green and yellow.

Since, I didn't want to battle with learning to handle and make fondant, I was thrilled to find sheeted sugar by Wilton.  It worked perfectly to make the eyes on each character.  And for Brobee's horns?!  This took some thought, but I stumbled on smallish coconut macaroons at the grocery store.  They were perfect!!!  Squished Molded them into horns, attached 2 toothpicks each and covered with Muno's red icing!!!!

And to escalate the sugar high to epic levels...I made Muno pretzels, Foofa chocolate covered oreos and Tootie Marshmellows!  All inspired my original "dream cake" maker over at Two Parts Sugar.

 And then the big day came - September 4, 2011 - FINN TURNED 2!!!  And all the planning and prep was complete and it was time to celebrate Yo Gabba Gabba style.  For dinner/lunch we served a "party in my tummy" meal - pizza, chicken nuggets, carrots, broccoli, cheese and popcorn...Brobee would have been so proud of all our little eaters!!!
Oh, and we found a Gabba shirt on ebay and it arrived just in time for the birthday boy to wear his Brobee shirt to the PARTY!

His guest were all his "Hassett" numbered at 11 total little "Hassett's"!!!  Other cousins and friends would have been fabulous...but we are a walking party and Finn had a fabulous day :)  He did not seem quite aware that all the fuss was for him but he loved every bit of it.

We had a wonderful day celebrating!  I can't believe our boy is already 2!  He is learning so much and turning into such a little boy!  Suddenly within the last few weeks all attention has turned to wheels and building and tools....  We are so excited to watch him grow this year!!!!


(Blogger is being very cranky so I'll be back with pics!!!!)