Product Test Drive: The Drool Monkey

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Drool rash. Now there’s a term that never escaped my lips until about a month ago. With tiny new teeth popping up almost every few weeks, drool rash has become the unfortunate reality in our house. It goes a little something like this: teeth hurt—hand goes in mouth—drool slides onto cheeks—cheeks get raw—repeat. On bad days The Bear’s poor little chubby cheeks look like she got into a tube of mommy’s lipstick. We’ve tried a number of creams and salves, but the only real solution is keeping her face dry. Problem is, most teething toys just encourage more drooling, and the rash cycle perpetuates.

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The Bear has always been the kind of baby who constantly has something in her mouth, whether it’s her fingers, a toy, a paci, the dog’s foot… we’ve yet to discover the magic key to unlocking the secret of keeping forbidden items out of our toddler’s mouth. But, we have recently discovered a secret weapon: a fun and adorable teething solution that’s designed for little mouths and hands, and most importantly, dry little cheeks.

The Drool Monkey!

Drool Monkey Organics is a company founded by mompreneur Kamala Corkin. After her daughter was born, Kamala was seeking an organic and sanitary alternative to the typical surface-wash only teething toys and lovies out there. So, she made one herself from organic cotton and added a cute little embroidered monkey face. Drool Monkey Organics was born!

The Drool Monkey is 100% organic, contains no toxic dyes, no chemical flame retardants, no synthetic fabrics and is CPSIA safety standard compliant. At about 18 inches long, it functions as a teething toy, doll, burp cloth and rattle, plus, the custom-woven organic cotton is designed to wick moisture away from your child’s sensitive little face, helping to prevent the dreaded drool rash while providing a satisfying “bite” for a toothy toddler.

I received the Drool Monkey as a gift from Club Momme LA after walking in the PLUSH fashion show earlier this month. The Bear was immediately smitten with it (as you can see from her death grip on it in the photo below… also note that she and event host John Salley are giving each other the stinkeye for some reason):

We couldn’t quite get The Bear to part with her runway accessory after her moment in the spotlight, so Drool Monkey followed us home, ready to fight drool rash and to keep dog toys and Dad’s shoes out of her mouth. We tied the ends of Drool Monkey into little knots, which she loves chewing and untying. Entertainment from all ends!

At night, I just throw Drool Monkey in the washing machine and it’s clean and ready to go the next day! Most importantly, The Bear’s face stays dryer and her drool rash is clearing up!

Visit Drool Monkey Organics online to snatch one of these little goodies up for $32. You can choose from “girl” monkey or “boy” monkey, and each one comes with two removable tether ribbons. Check out their organic hankies, too!

Have a great Friday, friends! Hope you’re enjoying it with the little drool monkeys in your lives! 🙂

Hugs and kisses,

Erin

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MTD’s Guide to a Stress-Free Fourth

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Hey, everyone!

With the 4th of July holiday rapidly approaching, parents across the country are currently knee-deep in making kid-friendly plans that may or may not include things like parades, loud music, red, white and blue themed treats, road trips, airplane rides and of course, fireworks! Kids either love this stuff, or they’re completely terrified, and you may not know which category they fall into until you’re hours away from home without an easy escape plan.

But never fear, there’s still time to plan ahead! Whichever category your littles may fall into, here’s a guide I made to help you (and me!) emerge unscathed from this year’s mid-week holiday:

MOMMY TEST DRIVE’S GUIDE TO A STRESS-FREE FOURTH:

Plan for traffic—and lots of it. With airfare steeper than ever these days, lots of families are opting out of flying to their destinations and hopping in the car instead. [Not that gas is any cheaper!] Plan ahead for gridlock by traveling during off-peak days and times. Install a traffic app on your smartphone that gives you ideas for less-traveled shortcuts. And, more importantly, be prepared for long hours in the car by packing lots of car-friendly snacks, games and music you can sing along to. Pouches are my favorite for long car rides because they’re easy to grip and fairly mess-free (just beware of excited squeezing—this can spell disaster for that cute little patriotic sailor dress you bought your toddler for the festivities). Plum Organics makes some great ones with lots of variety. For a great list of 101 tips and games for traveling with a toddler, check out the Mom’s Minivan blog.

Practice makes perfect. Thanks to modern technology (and common sense), you can prepare your littles for the 4th of July festivities by explaining to them what they’ll be seeing and hearing over the holiday. Contrary to popular belief, kids don’t like surprises, so the more you can clarify to them what’ll be going on in terms of parades, fireworks, loud noises, strangers, etc., the better they’ll be prepared to handle the new experience. Start now by walking them through the day—this may sound ridiculous if you have child under 1, but trust me, it does help; they understand a lot more than we give them credit for—explain what a parade is, play some marching band music for them, buy them a little flag to wave. There’s also a 99-cent app available for smartphones called Fireworks that lets you design and put on your own custom fireworks show. Though I don’t condone letting a toddler play with an iPhone, in this instance it just might help them be a little less stressed when it comes to the loud noises and bright lights.

Invest in noise proofing for little ears. Young ears are super sensitive, so definitely invest in a quality pair of noise-reducing earmuffs if you’ll be taking your kids to a fireworks show or loud parade (or any other noisy happenings like street festivals, concerts, sporting events, etc.). Hearing loss is irreversible, so don’t take any chances with your little’s ears. Plus, parades and fireworks might be a little less scary without the loud, startling noises that accompany them. Baby Banz sells a great model for around $30. Here’s an informative article from the New York Times about juvenile hearing loss and the importance of protecting your little’s ears.

Keep it cool…. then warm. Holiday festivities often take place over the course of an entire day, so plan ahead by packing lots of layers for you and your family. Keep your littles and yourself nice and cool for daytime happenings with wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and light colored clothing. And, don’t’ forget the sunscreen. Check out MTD’s Summer Must-Haves for some of my recommendations. For keeping strollers and carseats cool, Meeno Babies sells a fabulous product called the Cool Mee: it’s seat liner than keeps little bodies cool when the sun’s beating down. For yourself, I can’t say enough about the Cobber, a gel-filled neck bandana that stays cool for hours. My family has been using these for years at sporting events, parades, on bike rides and hikes, etc. They really work! Be sure to bring non-toxic bug repellent and a change of clothing for the whole family for activities during the cooler evening hours. JJ Cole makes a fantastic water/sand/bug proof blanket to sit on for watching fireworks.

Have an escape plan. If none of the above options work for you, you just might have to call it quits on the traditional holiday festivities… but this doesn’t mean that you and your family have to miss out on all the fun. Plan ahead for a meltdown by developing a Plan B scenario for your day… is there a park or indoor play place that’s open near the festivities? A kid-friendly restaurant or movie theater? Do a little research before the big day, and develop an evacuation plan that’s quick, easy and saves the day (and your sanity).

Most importantly…have fun! Spending time off from work and the pressures of real life with your family is what’s key to the success of the day. Enjoy your time together and remember to go with the flow.

Oh, and by the way: don’t forget about the other “kids” in your life: your pets! Find a quiet place for your pets to take refuge in during loud parties or fireworks. Leave on the television or some soft music to help drown out any noises that might frighten or stress them.

Happy planning, friends, and have a great day!
xoxo

Erin

Reflections on a child-free day…

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Yesterday I had some meetings and errands I needed to run. The Bear has had a little cold and I didn’t want to drag her along, so I had our great babysitter come over for the day (don’t ask me for her number, by the way –I ain’t sharing!) and set out on my first kid-free day in months. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love The Bear more than anything in the world, but I was really looking forward to a day on my own to get some adult stuff done. I was even going to try to squeeze in something fun, like eating by myself at In ‘n’ Out while reading the new Us Magazine (ah, the things you consider fun when you have a child).

Well, let me tell you this: the world can be a scary, scary place when you haven’t ventured out without your kid(s) in a while. I never realized how much more secure I am when The Bear is with me: I’m more responsible and cautious, I don’t curse, I make sure I allow time to eat lunch, I pack water and snacks for the car, I listen to relaxing folk music instead of talk radio, I’m nicer to people (and they’re nicer to me, too). Overall, I’m a better, smarter person when my child is in tow.

There was none of that yesterday. Here are just a few examples:

1)     I went to a walk-in clinic for a check-up at a place I found on my phone GPS the night before. I never would’ve taken The Bear to a walk-in clinic. Not that I’m bashing walk-in clinics: my doctor was lovely and seemed to really know his stuff, but before The Bear’s first check-up in our new town, I spent literally weeks researching the best pediatricians in our area, then narrowed down my choices and interviewed the candidates before settling on “the one.”

2)     I drove like a 16-year-old on her first day with a license.  After getting the car smog checked, I rear-ended someone in the parking lot. I was so anxious to get to my next appointment, I didn’t even realize a giant pickup truck had pulled in behind my parking spot, and I rammed right into his bumper as I pulled out (yes, I left a note, especially after setting off his alarm system, which drew a little crowd – fun!). When I’m driving with The Bear onboard, my driving habits resemble a cross between a little old lady and a driver’s ed instructor. Yesterday, I didn’t even think to check if someone had pulled in behind me before throwing it in reverse and giving myself minor whiplash.

3)     I spent three hours at the DMV because I didn’t make an appointment. I figured, “well, I won’t have the baby with me, so what’s a few extra minutes in line? I can read a book!” Well, you can’t read a book when you’re in a line that stretches outside the building and into the parking lot and it’s 95 degrees out and the sun’s beating down on you. “M’am, you didn’t make an appointment?” asked the helpful security guard when he realized I was melting. “Why don’t you come back tomorrow with an appointment?” But I was too stubborn to leave at that point, so I stoically waited another two hours until I got my license plates. Any parent reading this would agree: you would never bring an energetic toddler to a busy DMV on a hot day. Why would you force yourself to do it alone when it’s way easier to go online and make an appointment?

4)     I ate my lunch in the car, while driving, and spilled half of it all over my light-colored sundress, effectively ruining it. I did finally manage to get to In ‘n’ Out, but it was now 4pm–past lunchtime, and way past the time I told the sitter I’d be home. Instead of leisurely flipping through a tabloid magazine while nibbling a grilled cheese, I opted for the drive thru, and promptly dumped most of my lunch on my lap while navigating a turning lane.  When we eat out with The Bear, it’s all about sitting down, chewing our food, high chairs, bibs, songs about broccoli… the only song I was singing yesterday was the blues because my sandwich was in my lap and not my empty stomach.

Fast forward to 4:30 pm when I returned home to find my house tidied and my child blissfully asleep. “Everything go ok?” I asked, expecting to be regaled with the usual stories of The Bear antagonizing the dog and/or drinking toilet water. But, no. “She’s just so joyful,” my sitter said with a laugh as she left for the day. “She’s such a little mood booster!”

Indeed. My two lessons for the day are these:

Parents, take care of yourselves. Be the person you want your child to be. You cut your daughter’s bananas up in bite-sized pieces and make sure her blankie is clean. Do the same for yourselves! You’ve got to be at 100% to keep up with your little ones, so treat yourself well.

…and, even more important:

Don’t take your littles for granted, even on the days when you just want to throw up your hands and give up because they’re acting a little challenging. You may not realize how much they enrich your life and make you a better person until you’re out there on your own, in that scary world we call reality.

My husband and I have a theory that it’s easier to socialize in large groups of strangers when your child is with you, because the child acts as a buffer between you and the scary outside world.  You might never just walk up to a complete stranger and introduce yourself, but if your child happens to wander up to theirs, it’s so much easier to strike up a conversation and have a laugh about what those crazy toddlers are up to.  [For you dog parents out there, B and I have the same philosophy about how it’s simpler to make friends in the neighborhood when you’re walking the dog, because your dogs break the ice for you when they engage in that lovely doggy greeting ritual of sniffing each other’s unmentionables. I can’t tell you how many friends we had in our old neighborhood in Chicago that we only knew as “Button’s Dad” or “Fluffy’s Mom.”]

Thankfully, our kids have no idea we’re secretly using them as a social shield and excuse to better ourselves. While they’re taking everything in for the first time under the safe and watchful gaze of mommy or daddy, we’re protecting ourselves at the same time, creating a protective little bubble around both of us that keeps the nasties out and the good stuff in.

So, take some time out today in between scrubbing the crayon off your walls, changing poopy diapers or childproofing your kitchen to thank your kids… for keeping you safe, too.

Have a great day, friends!
xoxo

Erin

Where’s the party… and my credit card?

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Happy Monday morning, friends!

Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend. Unfortunately, B had to work all weekend, so The Bear and I were on our own for most of it, but we did have a fun visit Saturday with good friends who just moved to LA from Indianapolis. It’s always great spending time with old friends.

So, here’s one of many things I’ve learned from six months of living in the suburbs: ‘Burb ladies love throwing parties where their guests can buy something. Chances are, if you creep through a gated community on a weeknight in my town, you’ll find a chatty group of thirtysomethings drinking Shiraz and trying on dangly earrings or smearing on lip gloss with a Q-tip while an attentive hostess fills their glasses and touts the wonders of this incredible, not-available-in-stores product. Be it makeup, baby clothes, adult clothes, wine, candles, purses, sunglasses, jewelry, even essential oils, the options are numerous and sundry.

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When I was invited to my first product party, it was a couple of weeks after we moved here. I was desperately seeking lady friends and time outside the house sans The Bear, but thrown into a bit of a tizzy by the invitation.

Questions began circling my head: If I went, did it mean I’d be obliged to buy something? If I did buy something, would I then be talked into selling the product too? If I said yes, could I make money doing it, or would I have to invest lots of cash into my new business, then be forced to explain to my husband when I got home that I drained our savings account so that my new friends wouldn’t be mad at me? What about if I didn’t buy something? Would I be shunned by all the partygoers and promptly ousted from my new spot in their social circle? The unanswered questions (though clearly neurotic and ridiculous) were too numerous: I turned down the invitation and stayed home to watch re-runs of True Blood.

Weeks turned into months, and with new friends came more turned-down product party invitations… but there were also conversations that went like this:

Me: “Hey, where did you get those adorable bracelets?”

Friend 1: “Oh, I went to an XYZ party last week. I thought I’d just go to get a night away from the kids, but the jewelry was actually pretty cute, so I bought some.”

Or…

Me: “What’d you do last night?”

Friend 2: “Rosemary threw a party where you could buy skincare products. They smelled weird so I just hung out and drank wine.”

Or even…

Me: “So how did you girls meet?”

Them: “At a purse party. We really hit it off because we both like clutches.”

Hmm….

There was absolutely no talk of being tied down and forced to write checks… or of being tricked into investing your savings into a line of scented candles. Could it be that my city girl sensibility of being suspicious of everyone and everything was preventing me from actually having fun and meeting people in my new suburban environment? I hated to admit it, but it was probably true…

Last week I decided to meet up with a work-at-home mom friend of mine who sells essential oils. She occasionally hosts classes where attendees can buy them, but—you guessed it—I’ve never made it to one. I get migraines and was hoping she could help me treat them without having to rely so heavily on my usual cocktail of Excedrin, Gatorade and a nap (impossible with a toddler), so I gave her a call.

After an hour of chatting about the company she works for, and sampling some of her deliciously scented wares, I cautiously settled on a couple of oil blends (reviews to come) and promised to try more when I was ready. “I’m not ready to invest too much in this…” I started. I flinched, waiting for her to push back and try to convince me that it was smarter to buy the whole kit. Amazingly, she didn’t. She even pointed out a few money saving tips as I picked my way through her catalog. She just wanted me to feel better…and I did, immediately. But it had nothing to do with my migraines; I was so refreshed by the ease of the whole experience that I vowed right then and there to accept my next product party invitation.

The moral of my little suburban tale is this: before you make assumptions about something you’ve never done before, stop acting like a neurotic shut-in like I did and give it a try. No one will force your hand, you might actually find a product you love (or in my case, need) and maybe, just maybe…you might make a new friend (cue rainbows and unicorns). Am I being naïve? Jaded City Erin says maybe… but sassy suburban Mommy Erin says, “Free wine? Where’s the party?”

To get you (and me) started on your new adventure, I’ve put together a little guide for any other suspicious newbies out there looking to navigate their local product party circuit and maybe even hoping to start their own work-from-home business:

Mary Kay: The grandmama of all direct buy companies, MK has been around since 1963. I can remember going to a Mary Kay party when I was in college, and looking a little garish afterward, thanks to the orange-y lipstick I tried on, but I know moms today that absolutely swear by MK’s night cream as a miracle cure for diaper rash! Who knew?!? Consultants for Mary Kay make up to 50% of every sale they make, a percentage of their recruit’s sales, and there’s the famous pink car—consultants can “win” it after they hit certain lofty sales goals. Parties are an opportunity to try on makeup and skin care products after the consultant gives you a spiel on what’s new.

Imagelia sophia A direct-buy jewelry company that has been in business for 30 years. A family-run company, feminist ideals, lifetime replacement guarantee, and huge variety. Consultants keep 30% of their sales and party hostesses get “paid” in product discounts and free jewelry. Their prices seem a little hefty to me, though. Despite the “lifetime replacement guarantee,” $98 seems like a lot to spend on a set of faux gold bracelets I could probably get for $8 at Charming Charlie. But, as a costume jewelry addict, I could be convinced to spend at one of these parties.

CAbi: An abbreviation of Carol Anderson by Invitation (she’s the designer), CAbi is a women’s clothing company that bills itself as the “ultimate personal shopping experience.” Their colorful (ok, very colorful) sportswear is designed to mix and match, helping women max out their clothing options. Parties are like miniature fashion shows, with a CAbi consultant introducing the line and helping attendees try on clothes to show their friends as they nibble on food and have cocktails. CAbi has a user-friendly website that helps its clients accessorize their CAbi designs, plus a blog with recipes, fashion tips, etc. CAbi lists their consultants’ median income at around 20K for 2011.

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Pampered Chef is geared toward all things kitchen, from gadgets to cookbooks to cutlery. Pampered chef parties are designed to feel like you’re inside a Food Network cooking demonstration, with the recipes geared toward showcasing PC’s featured products. Anything with food sounds attractive to me, so I’d be excited to attend one of these. PC hostesses get free products, hefty discounts on products and free shipping on anything they buy. Consultants make anywhere from 20-25% commission on sales and get perks like vacations and jewelry when they hit certain sales goals.

Miche (pronounced mee-she) is a newcomer to direct buy products compared to the others on this list, but is gaining popularity due to its unique design features. Miche bags have interchangeable “shells” that can quickly be swapped to match your shoes without having to dump and transfer the contents inside. It’s a cool idea, and the prices are pretty great (around $20-$40 for the “base” bag and $15-$45 per shell), considering how many options you can create with one “base.” Consultants can make up to 35% commission on their sales, and party hostesses get discounts and freebies. Check out my friend Tiffany’s Miche page here. Tiff is hosting her big product launch party this week!

ImageWhen it comes to direct buy opportunities, my list is just a microscopic sampling—there are hundreds of these out there… maybe even thousands. Some ladies get involved strictly for the social aspects and freebies, but it sounds like you can actually make a pretty decent income if you become a sales consultant, which explains why so many stay-at-home moms are joining the ranks and becoming work-at-home moms (or “naptime entrepreneurs,” as my friend Claire likes to call it!). I’ll be sure to ask at my next party and update this post accordingly!

Oh, and to my beloved girls here in town who might be reading this today and thinking “pssh, I’m not inviting her to any more of my XYZ parties.” Please keep inviting me! I promise I’ll be there next time with a bottle of wine… and my wallet, just in case 😉

Happy partying, friends!

xoxo

Erin

MTD’s Summer Must-Haves!

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Hi, friends! No post yesterday as The Bear and I spent the afternoon with two new mom friends and their adorable, sweet daughters, who are 6, 8 and 10 months. Most of The Bear’s baby friends are boys, so watching her latch on to the “big girls” was too adorable. Can we say “big sis crush?” So fun! Mommy has always been a “girl’s girl” too.

Anyway, as I settled down last night to fold laundry and drink a cup of herbal tea eat chocolate chip cookies and watch The Real Housewives of NYC, I realized it was almost nine and it was still pretty dusky out. “Summer!” My inner child screamed with glee! Nothing like that feeling of eternal sunshine, warm nights, popsicles and sun-crisped shoulders.

In honor of the start of summer (even though it’s felt like summer here for the past four months), I’d like to share with you a list of my favorite summer essentials… I can’t believe how many of these things I had no idea about until I had The Bear and met other mamas who clued me in… now I seriously don’t know how I would live without some of them! Others… just guilty pleasures. Enjoy and stay cool out there!

MOMMY TEST DRIVE’S TOP TEN SUMMER MUST-HAVES

10) Baby Banz strap-on sunglasses. I got these as a gift and shrugged them off, thinking there was no way The Bear would let me put a pair of sunglasses on her. How wrong I was: she adores them! They’re especially great for swimming in salt water, when excited splashing can lead to stinging eyes. Sunglasses are also essential for protecting your little’s eyes from sunburn (yes, eyes can get sunburned!) and long term damage, like glaucoma and macular degeneration. Both of these run in my family of blue-eyed ladies, so we’re not taking any chances!

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9) Itzy Ritzy Wet Happened? reusable wet bags. Ohmygosh, this product is one of my absolute favorites. They come in adorable patterns and are totally leak-free and machine washable. You can fill them with smushy, juicy fruit or a wet bathing suit and the liquid stays put inside the bag, which zips shut. The bags come in various sizes with clever names and are also great for snacks, messy diapers, hair products… you name it.

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8) Sun Smarties slip-free water socks. More often than I’d like to admit, The Bear has taken a spill from playing in bare feet on the wet concrete of our back patio. I searched for a solution that wouldn’t mean ruining her pricy Stride Rites with water and found Sun Smarties, a non-skid water sock with UV protection. These miniature foot wetsuits save your little’s soles from hot pavement, slippery surfaces and the sun. For $8, how can you go wrong?

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7) Stockmar block beeswax crayons. For those days when it’s either raining or too stinkin’ hot to go outside, I love the idea of some good, old-fashioned coloring. If you have a 15-month-old like I do, you might find yourself retrieving these colorful cubes from your kid’s mouth from time to time, but they’re safe and natural and I love the watercolor effect they leave on paper.

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6) Instagram. Not really a summer product in the traditional sense, but it’s definitely a necessity in our house. Perfect for snapping quick summer memories on the go to share with friends and family when you don’t have your fancy camera handy and want to look arty and hip.

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5) St. Amour’s Teethers. The box is a little startling (The Bear always laughs at the wide-eyed baby on the packaging), but the product inside is amaze-balls. These French teething biscuits are dairy, egg, yeast, salt, cholesterol, fat and preservative free, and they’re perfect for long car rides or summer shopping excursions because they’re easy for your little to hold, last a long time and don’t make a huge mess.

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4) Rockin’ the Uke, by Cathy and Marcy. Grammy-winning folksters Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer are some of my favorite kids’ musicians, mostly because the majority of their music really isn’t kids’ music, per se, but has a melodic, sing-a-long quality that makes long car trips feel a little more zen…. in a bluegrassy kind of way 🙂 My hands-down favorite is Rockin’ the Uke, their all-ukulele album, which I purchased after The Bear and I took a Hawaiian music class in the middle of winter at The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. Cathy and Marcy’s catchy uke tunes will immediately transport you from summer gridlock nightmare to Hawaiian luau paradise. It’s a car-trip necessity and the whole family (even B) knows all the words.

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3) iplay bathing suits with built-in swim diaper. I love these! Not only are they approved for public swimming pools, they come in super adorable patterns and with a matching wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off tiny faces. iplay suits do such a great job of keeping “the business” in, that I didn’t even smell the surprise that was waiting for me when we got home from the pool last week 😉 The Bear especially loves her pink flamingos one:

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2) Episencial Sunny Sunscreen, SPF 35+. Episencial makes some of my favorite baby care products, ever. Their sunscreen is no exception. I love that it’s gentle, feels good on my little’s skin and made EWG’s list of safest suncreens on the market. It’s free from all the yucky no-no’s, and does a great job of keeping The Bear—and me—burn-free in the valley inferno we live in. Plus, I don’t feel like she needs to be scrubbed down with Borax every time we use it because even though it’s water-resistant, it washes off easily with soap and warm water and doesn’t leave an icky layer of stickiness on her skin.

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1) Li’l Squirt Baby Pool from One Step Ahead. The Bear has spent many a hot afternoon cooling off on the patio in this fun, affordable summer must-have. Not technically a pool, not quite a splash pad, the Li’l Squirt attaches to your garden hose and fills with only a few inches of water, making it perfect for younger toddlers experiencing water for the first time outside the tub. The sprinkles can be adjusted high or low (as you can see, The Bear likes her sprinkles very high) with just a twist of the hose spigot. Great way to beat the heat and keep it safe.

PS. In case you’re curious, The Bear’s adorable “I Love Chicago” onesie in the photo below is from an awesome company called Rudy Ludy. Check out their super cute designs and support my good mama friend Claire!

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Happy first weekend of summer, friends! Stay cool, safe and happy.

Kisses and hugs,

Erin

In the words of Ice Cube…

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“Today was a good day.” –Ice Cube

It’s amazing how much my criteria have changed lately for what makes me consider a day “good.” For prolific rapper Ice Cube, back in the glorious ‘90’s, it was watching Yo! MTV Raps and not getting car-jacked on his way back from playing basketball with his homies (among some other things I probably shouldn’t go into on a g-rated mommy blog).

I’m sure if you asked Mr. O’Shea Jackson today to make an It Was A Good Day 2012 reprise, it would be vastly different and would include things like “got asked to do Are We There Yet 2,” or “polished my awards” or hung out with my wife and kids.”

Back in ’92, I would’ve told you that a good day entailed my hot rollers warming up in 10 minutes instead of 12 or hearing Informer on B-96 on my way in to school.

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Ten years ago, it was getting smiled at by the hot guy in my building or finding Seven jeans on sale at Macy’s. Three years ago it was making a sale at work so I could get a bonus, or not having to wait for the bus in subzero weather. Today it’s making it through the morning without getting scrambled eggs thrown at me.

In homage to good days and to my love of gangster rap in a former life (now it’s only Toddler Tunes, I promise), I have decided to grace you with a poem—set, of course, to Ice Cube’s It Was A Good Day—that showcases my very own good day criteria as it’s evolved over the past few decades.

MOMMY TEST DRIVE’S TRIBUTE TO GOOD DAYS

Just waking up in the morning and I’m feeling odd

I don’t know, but today seems sent from god

New J. Crew catalog, found my clogs

And my hubby fed the kid so I could write my blog

The Bear took a nap, had time to shower up

Finally got a call from a mom I met on Meetup

Hooked it up for later at the Gymboree

Thinking will I make it with my clothes stain-free?

I gotta go ‘cause we got a hot play date

Fill up my travel mug, and add a little Coffee Mate

Had to stop at a red light

Looking in my mirror not a tantrum in sight

And everything is alright

I got a text from my sitter and she can watch The Bear tonight

Parked in a loading zone, no ticket on my car

Said I ate fruit for lunch but really had a Snicker’s bar

Second nap, no problem, had time to primp

Bought myself a mug online that says, “this Mom’s a pimp!”

Got invited to a party where they sell you Mary Kay

I can’t believe, today was a good day

 

Keep on rockin’ those good days, my friends!

xoxo

Erin

Domestic Goddesses: I Salute You!

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I have a deep, dark, dirty secret I need to get off my chest. But first, let me tell you a little story…

When we moved into our three-bedroom rental house in January, I was excited to embark on exotic adventures as a suburban domestic goddess. It was all so new and uncharted to me. I couldn’t wait to actually drive to the grocery store and park in a real parking lot, to sweep leaves off my very own patio, to eat at the Olive Garden. But, more so, I was excited to play house: to welcome my husband home every night with a home-cooked dinner, a sparkling clean home that I’d spent the afternoon meticulously scrubbing and polishing, and our daughter fed, bathed and blissfully asleep. If I was going to be a stay-at-home mom, I was going to kick some serious domestic butt at it.

Poor, sweet, naïve me.

Some quick back story: despite growing up in a small Indiana town until college, my primary residences over the past decade and a half have been small, urban apartments with little to no maintenance required. Pre-baby and pre-California, I worked 60+ hours a week and usually just came home from work and ordered takeout with my husband while we watched TV. On weekends, we’d give the apartment a quick once-over, then go watch the Bears game with our buddies at a bar or something. With dual incomes and no kids, we could afford a cleaning lady every other week and we each did our own laundry.

That was easy-peasy. I was excited for a new challenge.

To launch Operation Domestic Goddess, I conducted some hefty research: looked up household cleaning tips on Pinterest, made a laundry schedule, Googled recipes for DIY toxin-free cleaners, made weekly grocery and errand lists and bought a Swiffer. A Swiffer! I was ready.

And then, I was sweaty.

Not only did I need a second shower on cleaning days (when is there time for a second shower, let alone a first?), more importantly, my kid was usually forced to sit inside all day while I scrubbed the toilets, mopped the floors and changed the sheets. And the house still wasn’t really that clean most of the time.

“How do domestic goddesses do it?” I wondered, as I slathered hand lotion on my scaly palms. Or, more pressingly, when? With my mother-in-law visiting later that week, I couldn’t leave the fate of my dirty house up to me. I decided to call in reinforcements.

So, here’s my big, nasty secret: two days later and full of shame and self-loathing, I “borrowed” my girlfriend’s cleaning ladies. While The Bear and I took the dog to the park and visited friends, the dynamic duo of Maura and Maria did everything from vacuum out our fireplace to remove the cobwebs that I thought were too high to reach so I’d just accepted them as décor. I hardly recognized the place when we returned home later that day.

I thought about not telling my husband, to let him think I’d done it all on my own, ala Celia Foote in The Help. But the second he walked in the door with a puzzled look on his face as he inhaled the sweet aroma of the toxin-free citrus vinegar spray I’d lovingly made (then abruptly given to the cleaning ladies and skedaddled out the door), I caved. I’ve never been a good liar.

B wasn’t mad that I’d spent a few extra bucks on the Washing Wonder Twins – quite the contrary, actually. He was proud of me for delegating and happy that I was in a good mood. He was also grateful that our shower was no longer scummy. Now, Maura and Maria come once a month to help with the “big” stuff (and of course, before all mother-in-law visits–not that mine would mind if the house is messy; she’s pretty great), and I continue to use my Household Cleaning Chart and homemade cleaning spray for what I can manage while The Bear naps—and in between blog posts 😉

In closing, I say hats off to you, super mamas (working and stay-at-home) who have multiple children and bigger houses than mine who do it all. Keeping your house clean, your bills paid, your marriage exciting, your sanity intact and your kids entertained—and, let’s face it – alive—is a mere mirage in the desert of domesticity.

Oh, and PS: if some of you aforementioned super mamas have clandestine cleaning ladies too, I promise: your secret’s safe with me.

With that finally off my chest, I’m going to leave my messy kitchen until later and take my daughter to the park.

Have a great week, everyone!
Erin