Parenting Hacks and Bad Advice from The World’s Most Okayest Mom

945867_10208144557357438_7858268238849855141_n.jpgWhen my first baby was about three years old, I told him that sesame seeds were actually “muscles dots”.  I can clearly remember him unwrapping his cheeseburger from Burger King, and gasping, “What are those?? I can’t eat this!”  That’s when, like a gift from above, it came to me: “Oh, Those! Those are special.  They are muscle dots.  If you eat them, you will grow gigantic muscles!  I’m surprised they even gave them to a kid! You are so lucky.  Now, eat it and see what happens!”  It was brilliant.  One of my finer parenting moments, and it stuck- twelve years later, we still call them muscle dots.

It got me thinking about all of the Mom Hacks (some of which may be teeny, tiny white lies) that I’ve discovered over the years that have made my life as a mom slightly easier.   Here are ten of my personal faves:

  1.  “You won’t believe this! Your Halloween candy all melted into a giant clump on top of the refrigerator! I couldn’t believe it either! I’m so sorry. I had to throw the whole thing into the garbage.”  (Garbage=The second drawer of the dresser in my bedroom.)12189895_10207709845009901_6395739984730111110_n.jpg
  2. “Your brain will turn to mush if you play any more video games.  Come here! (Place hands on sides of child’s head.)  Oh, my gosh!! It’s already happening!!  Yep… right here- things are getting squishy.  You need to stop immediately and let things heal. You’re actually really lucky it’s not worse.  Now go outside and play.”
  3. If you have a teenager, you may relate to this next one.  It drives me crazy when they steal my soda.  I have tried to hide it in the way back of the fridge or in the trunk of my car, but, inevitably, the soda bloodhounds always seem to sniff it out.  I find empty cans hidden in the couches and under the beds, and, when I do, I turn into the girl version of The Incredible Hulk.  One day, I finally had it with the little crooks!  The solution: La Croix Sparking Water.  Kids hate the stuff!  It’s amazing!  Target also has a brand- Simply Balanced, that is quite refreshing, if I don’t say so myself.  Here’s another tip:  If you want to sweeten your sparkling water up a little, add a few drops of MiO Liquid Water Enhancer flavor (or whatever other brand you like.)
  4. My most recent little fib: “Don’t eat that! It’s the old grease from last night’s ground beef!” When, in reality, it was butterscotch pudding that I saved all for myself.12507698_10208247783738033_6732881387297223192_n.jpg
  5. GFS makes pre-cut frozen sugar cookies, appropriate for every season.  This makes me, and everyone else around here, extremely happy all year round.  I just love that Gordon.  He helps me out a lot.  #GordanForPresident
  6. To avoid the endless fights with the big kids over who gets “shotgun” in the minivan, we have a monthly rotation for the front seat.  It’s kind of fun to look over on the first of the month, and say, “Hey.  Welcome back.”  The only time we compromise on the rotation is for birthdays.  When it’s your birthday, we gonna party like it’s yo birthday, and you automatically get the front.
  7. Ok, so this one isn’t so much of a hack, but rather, a piece of advice that I wanted to share with all the first timers out there:  Do NOT buy harmonicas.  I know they seem like great souvenirs when you’re at the airport gift shop, desperately searching for something to bring back for the kids.  Sometimes the harmonicas even come with cute little “how to” instruction books.  You may even start to daydream about your kid walking around the house, expertly busting out Tom Petty songs.  But, trust me on this one, about two minutes after you give them the harmonica, you will have wished you went with the pen that can change back an forth between four different ink colors.
  8. Scarves.  They are a great disguise.  If you throw on a scarf, a jacket, and a pair of sunglasses, no one will ever know if you are dropping your kid off in the morning barefoot and in a bathrobe.
  9. Ring Pops. If you have a bunch of kids, the little ones are most likely dragged to many of their older sibling’s sporting events. Ring Pops can last up to an entire first half of a basketball game, and can easily be stored in the bottom of a purse. Don’t ever leave home without them.
  10. Last, but not least, when all of your “hacks” majorly fail, and your children beat you at your own game (like the gremlins sneaking into my office right now, thinking I don’t notice them stealing handfuls out of my “secret” stash of candy under the desk), just smile and know they learned from the best.  Just as you did.7295333a09ce9dcc72b5b0f48621394b.jpg

 

Friends, Kitchen Tables, and Crazy Ideas

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Three years ago, Joel made me a new kitchen table, from start to finish, in just one day. It wasn’t really a planned project. On that particular morning, Joel looked at me and said, “I’m going to build you a new kitchen table.” I said, “Huh. O.K.”, and that was it. He went to the store, purchased the lumber, and several hours later… Boom! Mama’s got herself a table that the entire family can actually fit around! Having a husband who is handy, that likes to build stuff is hot. But, I digress.

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While the table making day wasn’t planned, I feel the need to give you a little background on my kitchen situation, and why a table was needed. Flashback to Christmas Vacation three years ago.  We refer to this time as The Beyer Christmas Plague of 2012. Most of you probably remember the Barforama scene from Stand By Me. It was similar to that, except there wasn’t just a lot of barfing.  There was, what my friend Katie calls, vooping. Vomiting & Pooping = Vooping.  Every person in our family was projectile vooping.  So.Much.Fun.

I clearly recall Joel lying on the couch, sick as a dog, at the peak of The Plague.  I was in the kitchen, slowing starting to come back to life, and trying to dig out of the three days of mess that had accumulated since The Plague hit. Suddenly, Joel got up from the couch and staggered to the garage.  I remember thinking, “Okaaay, I have no idea what he’s doing, but those crazy, sick, blood-shot eyes are freaking the heck out of me, so I’m going to just stand back and watch.” Joel comes back into the house with some kind of an electric saw. Here’s the thing: our kitchen had an odd shaped breakfast bar that jutted out into a little circle that a couple chairs could fit around. It would probably be great if you had, like, two kids. However, that two-kid-ship had sailed a long time ago in our house, and we always talked about getting rid of “the circle part”. Plus, with that circle taking up unnecessary room, we would never be able to fit my dream of a large table in the kitchen. Apparently, Joel decided that day was the day to change that. He plugged in his saw, and proceeded to cut the breakfast bar straight across to get rid of the circle part. He, than, dragged the circle out to the garage, came back inside, and went back to sleep on the couch.  I don’t think he even said one word the entire time that was all happening.  The flu will make people do some crazy crap (in more ways than one, in this case).  Anyway, I sorta shrugged, swept up the dust, and thought to myself, “Yessss… we can FINALLY fit a decent table in the kitchen now. I love him, even if he’s psychopath when he’s sick.”

I have to admit, things don’t really stay nice around here for very long. We are missing half of our cabinet door knobs.  Plates and glasses get dropped and shatter all the time.  The kid’s bedrooms are far from Pottery Barn perfect.  We don’t have special towels that match in the bathrooms.  What we DO have is a lot of kids.  With a lot of kids, comes a bunch of friends, and it’s important to me that they all feel comfortable and want to be here. We let our kids dribble basketballs in the house.  Sometimes I let them ride their scooters around the kitchen.  They are allowed and encouraged to write with markers on the old windows we hung in the front hall.   I guess, what I’m saying is, a perfect looking house isn’t at the top of my priority list.  Don’t get my wrong, I still have many moments a day when I lose it over a pile of shoes by the door, or the fact that the noise level is always at FULL BLAST.  However, I’m working on picking my battles because I can’t always be yelling, “I am going to go insane if you don’t stop doing that!”  I am certain the silence will be deafening someday, so I’m trying to embrace the constant activity that is the soundtrack of our home, and just let them be kids. bf2d6a7d8f36aa04a06405589df843a2-2.jpg

Recently, I was sitting at the table, and I realized how banged up it already is.  All of the little bumps and gouges don’t bother me, in fact, I like them!  It makes my table more rustic and loved.  That’s when the idea hit me: how cool would it be to have a table that would remind us of every friend who came into our home!  Each person who sat at our table could etch their name and, perhaps, a favorite phrase onto our table.  My vision is that every “free” area of table top would would consumed by friends’ names. I understood this project would take some time, but the memories created would be priceless.  I just had to do it.

I thought for a while on how I would propose this idea to Joel. 90% of the time he will agree to my crazy ideas. As for the 10% that didn’t initially pass the “Joel test”, I would say I still had a 50% chance of changing his mind. Okay, enough math. My head hurts. What I’m saying is, I felt the odds were ever in my favor with my Table Of Friends idea. The good news is, after I told him about it, he agreed without hesitation!  Score.

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This past weekend, like most weekends, we had extra kids sleeping over. There was a revolving door of friends the past couple days, which I absolutely love. I made pancakes in the morning (the only thing I’m actually somewhat average/o.k. at making).  While they were eating, I brought out some tools and told them to go ahead and carve their names. They were hesitant, at first. “Has Mrs. Beyer lost her mind?” (Sorry, kids, that happened a loooong time ago.) After briefly looking at me with blank stares, It only took one kid to say, “All right.  I’ll do it,” and they all grabbed a tool and started etching.

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Joel and I also had a little fun with this.   We sent texts to our friends of their kid’s name in our table, with a comment like, “Well, I guess we’ll always know he was at our kitchen table.” Too much evil fun! We would let them panic for a couple minutes, and then I would actually start to freak and beg Joel to tell them the truth.  “Just kidding! Kaia has this table project thing she’s working on, we told him it was o.k.” The best, however, was one friend who decided she would take the joke a step further with her own husband.  Here is their text exchange:

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It’s actually surprising we are still around because we almost.died.laughing over these shenanigans.

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” -E.E. Cummings

So here we are at the end of a very fun weekend, with many new names added to the table. I am in love. It’s all turning out exactly as I planned, and I am so excited to see how this develops over time.  It may take a year or more to finish this.  However, when all the blank spaces are eventually filled with names, we will stain and seal it, and forever be reminded of all of the friends that make up our lives. I am sure I will give an update to show you the finished project, whenever that may be.  In the meantime, friends, will you please sign our table?

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2016: The Year Of The Big 4-0, and #Goals

GOPR0188.jpgThis year I will be turning 40, and I feel it.  I’m getting more weird aches and pains that I didn’t used to have, and the 10 pounds I’ve been trying to lose for three years are clinging to my butt for dear life.  And, honestly, I’m starting not to care so much.   Some may call that “letting myself go,” but I think I’m going to start calling it “setting myself free.”

Lately, I’ve been doing some reevaluating, and reflecting on this gift of life that I have been given.  Setting goals is good.  Setting realistic goals that will actually make me a kinder, more joy-filled, and gentler human being are even better.  2016 New Years Stella-0478.jpg

I want to breath deeper, and be more present.  I don’t want to miss out on life’s small, beautiful gifts right in front of me because I’m too busy thinking about tomorrow’s agenda.  I want my kids to remember me being silly with them.  I want to teach them to recognize joy.  Kids learn by example, so I know this needs to start with me.

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That being said, I recently jotted down 10 things I want to intentionally do this year.   Some of which I have already been doing, but want to remind myself to continue them,  even if our culture or the latest parenting books tell me I’m doing it wrong.  We all parent, wife, and friend differently, we just need to find our own groove that works best for us.

So, here’s my rough list of what I’d like to change this year.  Or not change.

10 Realistic Goals of 2016

  1.  I will always Eat Birthday Cake.  Celebrating someone’s life is more important than worrying about a little sugar indulgence.  That being said, I’m also going to make an honest effort to stop at one piece.
  2. I will clean out my junk drawer.  Fine… all four of them.  As my wise and beautiful sister-in-law recently said to me, “All you really need in your junk drawer are a couple pens, some batteries, and a scissors.”
  3. I will send more happy mail.  Real hand-written notes are The Best.  I’m going to be better at this.
  4. I will be a better friend and call people back.  
  5. I will sleep in once in a while.  I am a morning person.  I love the silence and watching the sunrise before anyone else is awake. HOWEVER, over this Christmas Break, there was one morning I slept until 8:30a.m.  This has not happened since, probably, ’95, and it was Ah-Freakin-Maze-Balls.  I want to do that again sometime in 2k16.
  6. I will continue to bring forgotten lunches and instruments back to school when they call.  I will do this not because I want my kids to be irresponsible, but because I want them to know that I will always have their backs.  Maybe if they see I am ALWAYS there in the small stuff, they will know they can count on me when the big stuff happens too.
  7.  If I start reading a book and it still sucks 1/4 of the way in, I will stop reading the dang book.  I’ve wasted too many hours on lame books that I’ve forced myself to finish.
  8. I will take the dog for a walk more often.  We both could use more fresh air.  Plus, Alice The Dawg deserves it.  She ALWAYS has a good attitude.   2016 New Years Stella-0652.jpg
  9. I will learn to cook three fantastic meals from scratch.  These will be the meals my kids will ask for when they come home from college for a weekend someday.  (I do realize this is going to take much trial and error, but I have 365 days and chances to nail it.)
  10. I will complain less and be grateful more.  I pray God convicts me every time I get on a crabby kick and start spiraling into the depths of a “poor me”pit.  It’s yucky down there.  It’s also really annoying.  10 year old soccer drama; a teenager’s dirty bedroom; or a grumpy cashier are all not worth ruining a perfectly good day over.

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In 2016, I plan to not dwell on things I can’t change.  I will be less harsh.  I will give people the benefit of the doubt.  I will offer more grace.  I will be gentler with myself and those around me.  I will breathe deeper.  I will let the things that don’t matter GO, and hold closer and pay more attention to the things that do.