Monday, May 21, 2012

Birthday Boy - by Lauren

My favorite birthday party as a kid was a tea party my parents had for me when I was about eight. I had a handful of friends over and we dressed up in our mother’s clothing, had tea and sandwiches, and acted like little adults.  It was small and simple but I can still remember how much I loved that party.  I never had huge, extravagant or most of the time even themed parties.  I don’t remember fancy cakes or party favors but I do remember getting to choose whatever I wanted for dinner and getting to eat chocolate cake. I also remember that the people that mattered most were there and that I felt special. 

EJ’s first party I was obsessed.  I wanted a theme with invites, a cake, balloons and favors that matched. Everything had to be perfect and he was just 1!  He had no idea! My husband did his best to remind me that not only would he not remember it but these details will not be as important to him.  So, for his second birthday I tried to scale it down a bit. But still found myself running around matching cups and plates and up all night stuffing favors. 

This week we will celebrate EJ’s third birthday.  I am working hard to focus less on the favors and decorations (and even happily handing that off to someone else!) and more on how we will celebrate his three short but amazing years. How we celebrate EJ.  I want him to have great memories of his birthdays but I know those memories will be less about the gifts, the bounce house or having it at Kite Tails (although he will love that!) and more about how many people who truly love him were there and how special he felt.

Last week, he was looking at the photo books I made for him of his 1st and 2nd birthday and I noticed that what he was commenting on was who was there.  “There’s Grandpa, Mommy!” “There’s Auntie Kat!”  “Who is that baby, Mommy?”  He loved looking at all the people that he loves there on his day.  He never mentioned the gifts, the cake or the favors.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in wanting the very best for him; a fun place, the cutest decorations, the coolest cake.  Easy to focus on making the details of the day perfect and forgetting about what he will remember.

My goal now is very simple.  Every year on EJ’s birthday, I want him to feel loved, celebrated and as special as I did every year with just my parents, my sister and my chocolate cake.  Because thirty years from now that will be what he remembers…

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A 'sweet' teacher thank you - by Aimee

Last week we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week at my sons' school.  We wanted to give a small token of 'thanks' to their teachers but didn't want it to be too expensive or too complicated - we had a total of 9 teachers to shop for!  So I did what I know how to do best:  go to Google and Pinterest looking for ideas.  It was hard to choose from all the great ideas but with the end of the year coming up, I know I'll have more gifts to make soon. 

I originally saw the idea here and just changed it up a little bit.  I printed tags off the computer and had the boys sign their names.  We filled the bags with berry treats - tea, candy, and fruit snacks.  You could also use candles or lotions - anything with a berry theme.  The boys were very excited to deliver to their teachers!

Quick, easy, inexpensive and thoughtful - a recipe for a great gift!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Running - by Lauren

Last week, I dusted off my running shoes, found my old workout clothes and strapped on my Walkman (yes, my Walkman.  I lost my iPod).  It was the first time I had been out for a run in months and the last step in my quest to regain my old self.  Like a lot of moms, and even dads for that matter, I had been wrapped up in being a parent for the last two years.  So much so that I began to lose myself.  I stopped eating right, stopped working out, stopped making myself a priority.  But a few months ago I woke up and began to make some big changes.  I had felt stuck and had to find ways to “unstick” myself.
I just recently decided to go back to work.  EJ loves school and is doing great.  It seemed like the perfect time to go back to my career.  I was lucky enough to find a full-time job with great vacation and great hours in a family friendly environment.  I changed the way we all eat in our house and began taking yoga.  I started writing more, taking time for myself and planning more nights out with friends and my husband.  Going back to work has allowed us to start planning more for our future and look into where we finally want to settle. There are a lot of great changes happening for us and a lot of excitement for what is to come.  Everyone in the house, including me, is happier, less stressed and the overall mood has improved. All of these changes have reminded me of the importance of trying to find some balance in life without losing yourself completely.
Balance. That word took on a whole new meaning once I became a mother. I truly admire those mothers who say that they have achieved perfect balance in their lives. I personally do not know any. I feel like it would be the equivalent to seeing a unicorn. But I'm sure they are out there. For most parents it is an ongoing process and one that I continue to work on. 
Running was really the last piece in that puzzle.  I have never been a good runner.  When I ran cross-country in high school, I always came in dead last.  My dad would joke that it would get dark out on the course before I would even make it in.  But I never quit.  One season our team members had all quit or were injured before the last race of the year.  We needed five to compete as a team and it was just my sister and I left.  Our coach said we could end the season but we wanted to see it through.  So regardless of coming in last, we kept training. 
Yesterday as I was struggling up a hill (not a pretty site) I thought of how much running and motherhood have in common for me.  I am not the best at either.  Some days I feel like I come in dead last.  But I love the feeling I get and I am determined to get better; to keep training.  I love the challenge of an uphill and the great feeling of coasting once you make it downhill.  I love the rewards and the feelings of accomplishment.  I love knowing that I am still capable of pushing through the tough times, giving it all I have, and even coming out a better person on the other side. But I especially love how they have both helped me feel unstuck and like myself once again.  So if you see me out running, sweat pouring down my face, Sports Walkman strapped to my arm (circa 1989), swearing under my breathe as I struggle to make a mile without dying on the side of the road, know that I am actually the happiest I ever been….

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Make Your Own Play Dough - by Rhiana

This week in our Spring into Art class we took a little departure from our Spring theme art to create some monsters!  We made some colorful monsters with paint and we also sculpted monsters from homemade play dough.  I'm excited to share this recipe with all of you since your little ones can help you with the entire process!  Unlike many play dough recipes, this one does not need to be cooked!  And the best part- they can customize their own colors!


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • up to 2 cups of boiling water (I grabbed water from the Keurig)
  • food coloring

  • Mix the flour, oil, salt, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl
  • Add the boiling water
  • Stir continuously until combined and sticky
  • Add food coloring
  • Take out of the bowl and knead vigorously.  If the dough is still sticky keep adding flour and kneading it until it is no longer sticky and the right consistency.
  • To turn your play dough into a monster, simply add any embellishments you have around the house!

Store it in a ziplock or tupperware so it doesn’t dry out.

I hope you have fun making this with your little ones and they have fun creating with this fun medium!