Wild, Wild West.

We made it to Colorado!

(Actually, we made it to Colorado over a week ago but we are still unpacking and we still don’t have internet so I blog from a coffee shop down the street when I can convince the older kids to hang home with Babystar which is not as often as I would like since they both are getting over the DeathFlu. Anyway.)

Let’s see how much I can fit into this forty-five minute coffee break.

The girls and I left Arlington on January 15.

Oh, but before that, we spent all of January packing and also taking Babystar on a Farewell Tour of her favorite parks and friend’s houses and indoor play spaces (because it was super cold!). I used up the rest of my passes to Nook and Busy Bees and we played at Scramble a few more times. (We spent $38.00 at Scramble that last week including snacks).

We didn’t get far on January 15, but the movers were really mean to me and I had to get out of Northern Virginia for my sanity. Plus we didn’t have any beds to sleep in anymore. We spent the night near the Virginia/North Carolina border and the drove to my brother’s house in Ashboro, North Carolina, the next day.

My brother works at the North Carolina Zoo so we got an awesome behind the scenes tour. Dude. DUDE. It was amazing. We met a bear and some zebras and an ostrich and a rhinoceros. Princess Buttercup and I were awestruck. Babystar was so casual about the whole thing. She fed a freaking BEAR and was like, “Next!”

Toddlers, dude. I can’t wait to tell her the story when she’s older.

She really did love the ostrich, though. They are super silly birds, and she laughed and laughed. She also loved the flamingos. Because they were pink. And the sea lions, because they were on a rock and she was super jealous because she loves rocks.



We got snowed in at my brothers for an extra day but finally got on the road again eventually. We made it to Tennessee and had dinner with friends before stopping for the night.

I bought Babystar a $7.00 pint of Haagen Daaz from the hotel snack bar.

The next day we got up early-ish and drove to the Parthenon. Did you know there was a Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee? I did not. We found out about it while lying in the hotel bed the night before.

It was super awesome. Babystar’s admission was free, but I did buy her some little toys in the gift shop for $13.40. We all adored the 42-foot Athena statue, and Babystar kept asking to go back upstairs to see ‘the tall lady.’


Eventually we got some Chick-fil-A ($3.49 for Babystar) and got back on the road and drove through bits of Kentucky and Illinois and past St. Louis before stopping in Missouri for the night.

We drove to Wonderscope in Kansas City the next day to let Babystar get some quality playtime in and some wiggles OUT.  Wonderscope is a super cool children’s museum and I’m really glad we stopped. Admission for the three of us was $24 ($8 per person) but it was totally worth it to let the toddler play. We all played a bit, actually. I preferred the Art Room, Princess Buttercup was obsessed with the huge play grocery store, and Babystar loved the Vet Office. We did lots of check-ups on ‘Tillie’.

We finally left Wonderscope at 5pm when they closed, and we decided to drive out of the city before stopping for dinner.

The plan was to eat, drive a little ways, and find someplace in Kansas to sleep for the night.

Things did not go as planned.


Monday’s Mama is Flossy Flossy.

Please meet Flossie, the awesome flossy flossy mama blogger behind Super Mom Hacks.

Flossie McCowald bio pic

Omg she just might virtually murder me for that title but I CAN’T HELP IT. I tried to think of another title but all I can hear is Fergie. (Flossy = super amazing.)

And Flossie IS super amazing. She was a teacher before becoming mama to Kimmie (age 8) and Essie (almost 6). Flossie is a country girl who married a city boy, and she and her family now live in Suburbia, U.S.A. She enjoys bicycling, cooking, crocheting, volunteering, and chauffeuring her darlings to Scouts or swim lessons or church choir. Flossie shares all her parenting tips, tricks, and hacks to save busy parents time, money, and sanity at supermomhacks.com. Her blog is full of really useful information. You will find simple recipes, easy home DIY that a regular person can actually pull off, and lists of vacation tips, cleaning tips, and organizing tips. She even has a post about getting melted crayon out of laundry.

And just in case you wonder ‘what if’ or maybe you are super into schadenfreude, Flossie also tells you all of the ways she tried that DID NOT work. It is refreshing to know that even Super Moms sometimes take two or three or fifteen tries to get something right.

Flossie is so good at work-arounds that she has figured out a way to show us a picture of her and her kids without actually showing a picture of her kids. Behold her genius.

Kimmie-Flossie-Essie Halloween 2017

Flossie rocks so hard, and she was nice enough to answer a few of my questions.

1. Your blog is SO FULL of helpful information. How do you know everything? Are you a genius? Why aren’t you President?

Sure, I’m a genius lol. No, seriously, I’m actually pretty dense sometimes – but I like to problem-solve, so I find myself thinking “There’s GOT to be a better way!” Whenever I stumble across something that makes my parenting existence easier – whether it’s a recipe hack, a super-useful product, or a better way to do something – then it’s going to be posted on the blog, sooner or later. I actually started my blog when a friend of mine who was always running her parenting questions by me, told me, “you should start a parenting blog with this stuff.” So I did. I was a teacher until Kimmie was born, so it’s fun to get up on my soapbox and tell everyone how NOT to make the same mistakes I’ve made. (And unlike teaching, there’s no essays to grade – yay!) 

And hey, what the heck, any native-born citizen can be President, right? I briefly considered being President when I was little; one day I learned at school that the president’s salary was $200K, and that sounded close to millionaire-dom to my seven-year-old-self. But then I decided it would be too much work.

2. Do you have any Super Mom Hacks about unpacking? Asking for a friend.

Haha, unpacking after a move. Yeah, I last moved almost a decade ago, and I *still* have a few boxes that I haven’t touched since packing them up! My favorite hack is to pile them all up together until you either A) need something in them or B) get sick of the pile sitting there. Once you get through all the A boxes, someday you’ll get to the Bs and when you open each B box, you’ll be like, “no wonder I lived without all this stuff for so long!” It’s remarkably easy to let go of the contents at that point. (The ideal hack, of course, is to get rid of as much of your $#!+ as you can BEFORE you move, so there’s less to unpack. Or so I’m told – can’t say I’ve ever truly pulled that one off.)

3. What is your most top secret, nobody else knows, super awesome mom hack? We won’t tell anyone. 🙂

I’m afraid you’re too late, because I’m not very good at keeping ANY hack secret (hence my blog). Probably my all-time FAVORITE parenting hack, for which my dear husband gets credit, is the Mommy Potty. It was the only way to get out of the house with my children for the 3 or so years I had a kiddo working on toilet training.

(Darlene here interrupting: OMG go read the Mommy Potty Hack. Brilliant! I would have never thought of that!!!!)

4. It’s the PTA Bakesale: homemade, store bought, or NOPE?

Definitely homemade – seriously, when do I have time to go to the store? BUT you have to give me at least a month’s notice. Three to six months is better. That way I can bake it ahead (preferably with the girls’ help – something to occupy them on a Sunday afternoon, double-win) and stick it in the freezer. I probably have some double-chocolate zucchini bread hiding in my freezer that’s almost as old as Essie.

You need Flossie’s wisdom in your life. Really. Definitely check out Super Mom Hacks. And follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Help HER help YOU. Really, dude. Trust me.


The Battle of Eczema.

Fresh delicate baby skin plus cold dry winter air equals eczema.

Also? Badass hardworking mama skin plus cold dry winter air equals eczema.

Babystar had the scaly skin of eczema the first winter she was alive. I kept it at bay with nightly coconut oil massages.

Last winter was quite mild, and I thought she maybe outgrew it.

But this winter is NO JOKE Y’ALL. I heard one weatherman say that it was colder than Mars. I didn’t fact check that, but it sounds legit. Most of America has been hibernating this winter.

The eczema has been taking over my family.

I will forever remember Christmas Eve Eve* as the night that Babystar woke up at 4am saying, ‘Mama, rub my back.’

The night that Babystar broke out in straight up red bumpy HIVES all over her back and neck and even a little on her chest.

The night that I spent hours researching rashes online and had almost convinced myself that my baby had Scarlet Fever. (I’m pretty sure Louisa May Alcott is responsible for that one.)

I still don’t know why her eczema flared up so badly that night. Maybe one too many baths? We were at my in-laws house in Myrtle Beach. I drove to Target on Christmas Eve morning for a travel humidifier ($29.99) and Seventh Generation Baby Sensitive Skin laundry detergent ($17.19) and a tub of extra virgin coconut oil ($8.99).

We stopped the baths and forced the oil on the baby. She hates it by the way. Once we got home, I tried to find an extremely sensitive lotion that she would tolerate and that would work. I have really dry skin and Princess Buttercup has really sensitive skin, so we had a lot of fancy potions to try.

Do you know what finally worked? Aveda hand relief moisturizing creme. It REALLY calms her skin. And she likes the way it feels. She calls it the ‘nice cream’.

I only had a travel size so I immediately drove to Aveda and bought two full size hand relief cremes ($48).

Her back is getting better but now her hands are flaring up. And she cannot stand the feeling of ‘cream’ on her hands.

(I’ve been tricking her by accidentally getting some on her hands and then ‘wiping it off’ aka rubbing it in. But I think she’s on to me.)

MAYDAY MAYDAY: Does anyone have any eczema advice?

My friend made me a sample of an essential oils cream but it has extra virgin coconut oil as a base. The potion works miracles on my hands, but Babystar screams and runs away if I try to rub any on her eczema.


(I wrote this before we moved and now we are in Colorado and unpacking and I still don’t have any decent pictures for this post so please enjoy this photo of boxes.)

(Also, her eczema is getting better, though it’s still not gone. She bathes like a person of the Colonial times: rarely and in a tub of lukewarm water.)

Monday’s Mama is Earth Mama FOR REALZ.

This Monday I am pleased to introduce Jessica Claire Haney. Jessica is the founder, publisher, and editor of Mindful Healthy Life who is likely going to be annoyed that I totally added an Oxford comma to her bio.

Jessica Claire Haney Headshot

Jessica is very busy. She is the author of the Guide to Holistic Family Living in Metro DCShe volunteers on issues related to wellness in public schools and was the founder of the Arlington/Alexandria Chapter of Holistic Moms Network. A writer working on her first novel, Jessica offers writing, editing, and consulting services.

She probably also sings to plants and harvests artisan catnip for feral felines. I’m assuming.

I met Jessica in 2016 at MommyCon DC. We realized that we were basically neighbors and planned to get together for coffee someday. You all know how that goes. I’m not convinced that she even drinks coffee. Jessica seems more like a kombucha kind of lady. Last October, we randomly ran into one another at the Type-A Parent Blogger Conference. We totally hung out that weekend, and Jessica is the sweetest. I’ll miss running into her at those East Coast Conferences.

SPEAKING OF CONFERENCES, Jessica will be at BlogHer Health next week so if you are there too, tell her I said hello. You will have an instant friend. Jessica might be the kindest person on earth. I’m not sure. I haven’t met EVERYONE.

Jessica was nice enough to answer my questions. Jessica put SO MUCH THOUGHT into my silly little Monday’s Mama questions. That is just who she is. Genuine. Considerate. And MINDFUL, y’all.

jessica claire haney

1. What is  your go-to yoga practice, or meditation, or whatever else works to keep you centered in your every day life?

I have been doing yoga since 2001, and in the past few years, I’ve tried to integrate it into other aspects of my life. Sometimes that’s been more successful than others. I’ve taken my mat to the lawn of a blog conference – two years in a row – but had other times when I fell off the wagon.

I’m super pleased that I’ve been starting each day with movement for the past six months. I do a jiggling and tapping along my meridians that is sort of a Qi Gong “lite.” It gets your lymph flowing and awakens your energy pathways to clear out stagnant stuff. I do it three times – head to toe – followed by three deep breaths and centering.

Then I do a yoga sequence that takes just about 12 minutes. I do it first thing, no matter what, and I think it’s really helped to do this daily. On school days, I do alone in the dark. On weekends, it happens whenever I get up, even if my kids are running around or watching TV or trying to crawl under me.

The kids don’t often join in on their own mats, but sometimes we practice together. At least they see me doing yoga regularly now, and they know they are doing it on my business card and website, so that’s something!

2. What is one easy thing we could do/change we could make for those of us wanting to stay both mindful and healthy in their everyday lives?

Easiest: Get out in nature every day.

Harder: Eat foods mostly from the perimeter of the grocery store.

Really Big: Make a list of goals and ideals for how you want kids to feel and to interact with the world as they grow and mature. Consider what kind of future you really want for your kids for their heart and soul and then to think about what behaviors, habits and special moments align with that vision.

3. What is your most crunchy hippie belief or practice, in your opinion?

How could anyone start their day without scraping their tongue, make it through without at least a few essential oils, or go to bed without spraying magnesium oil on their skin?! Ha ha ha.

(Darlene here: Jessica gave me those links. Thankfully. I left them in in case you ALSO wanted some further explanation.)

Oh, and I am a sucker for health and wellness conferences and events. I probably attend even more than most reasonably crunchy people.

jessica haney at conference

4. It’s the PTA Bakesale. Handmade, store-bought, or nope?

I don’t speak Bakesale!

No, seriously, I just opt out. Given my history with celiac disease and my kids’ genetic markers for it, we are all gluten-free and I’m mostly grain-free. It’s clear that my kids have also inherited the need to be super conservative with sugar consumption.

Of course, sugar isn’t good for anyone, and neither are artificial dyes or artificial flavors, so I wish schools would stop elevating sweets in a public way with bake sales and birthday celebrations and other treats and leave families to manage their indulgences outside of school. Lots of kids have more severe food issues than mine, and it is no fun for anyone to feel left out!

(Darlene again: Jessica is TOTALLY RIGHT OF COURSE but I like cupcakes. So.)

There are plenty of non-food ways to celebrate and have fun. For a school to serve the needs of the whole child, I’d like to see it pursue best practices toward health and wellness. I’m so glad to see more gardening integrated into schools so kids can have a better understanding of healthy eating and of where food comes from.

school-courtyard-gardens-Jessica Claire Haney

Follow Jessica on Facebook,  Twitter and on Instagram. Jessica’s personal blog is Crunchy-Chewy Mama, which is also on Facebook and Twitter.

And remember to say hi if you see her at BlogHer Health next week. She won’t even give your cheese danish any side eye. Ask me how I know.

Some Fun is Free.

We are en route to our new home in Boulder, CO.

Winter Storm Inga has other plans.

Apparently, Inga is all about family values, because she stranded me, Babystar, and Princess Buttercup at my brother’s house in North Carolina.

Ok. Fine. There are worse places to be. Plus my brother and his almostwife are pretty cool and I rarely see them.

Babystar got to go play in eight inch snow while I mostly watched from the windows. If she didn’t love her uncle already (and she did), she totally would love him now.