Monday’s Mama is TWINNING!

This Monday, I am pleased to introduce Nadia Gabriel. She is the mama behind The Non-Adventures of a Stay-at-Home-Mom. Like me, she has been spending most of January moving. (That is the extent of our twinning. We don’t even live in the same hemisphere.) Unlike me, Nadia is moving BOTH her physical home and her, um, metaphysical blog space. Way to shake it up in 2018, Nadia!

nadia2

Nadia lives in South Africa so she is warm right now. If you are reading this in literally any of the United States, think about that for a minute. (Shhh, not you Hawaii and California. Just sit there and be pretty, ok?)

Nadia is a SAHM to two amazing little girls and makes time to write in between changing nappies and making a million snacks a day. She is currently in the process of rebuilding her personality back to the point where she is no longer just ‘Mummy’. (Girl, PREACH.)

nadia3

The Non-Adventures of a stay-at-Home-Mum is everything: hilarious (like when she takes down common fairy tales), informative (like when she reviews products), deep (like when she delves into the challenges of raising a super sensitive child), and uplifting (like when she profiles local momprenuers who are TCB). I always look forward to her posts because Nadia is above all insightful.

And kind. Kind enough to answer my questions.

1. I love the candor in your writing. I know you just ‘came out’ to family and friends as a blogger in the last few months. Have you found that you censor yourself now?

Going public has been great with all the encouragement and positive feedback but YES, I do feel restricted at times now, which is a huge bummer. Especially when it’s something that I NEEEEEEEED to get off my chest or process on (digital) paper. I even went back and deleted entire posts ‘just in case’. I feel it does stifle me somewhat because my writing is very much in the moment and full of raw emotion but I would never choose to hurt anyone’s feelings. So yeah, it sucks. But I can deal.

2. What sucks the most about SAHM life?

The housework!!!! Omg the housework. I hate it! Cleaning bathrooms (gross), washing dishes (ugh does that sink ever get empty???), vacuuming (every damn day because of our cats), washing clothes (how do we use SO MUCH clothes?), ironing (just kidding! I don’t bother) and cooking. I count cooking as a chore now because I no longer get any enjoyment from it. Now its just a case of ‘what can I make that’s quick and relatively healthy?’ So yeah, if it weren’t for the housework I feel as if I would have much more time to really enjoy my kids. 

I’m going to be cheeky and add another on here. What really gets my goat is that people don’t get what I do all day. Every time I am asked ‘so what do you do all day?’ I want to scream. I literally want to throw my head back and scream. The thing is, even if I listed everything I did, the person asking the question still wouldn’t get it. It really is a job that has to be experienced to be understood. I understand that some people are just curious and I can usually tell by the tone of the question whether it’s curiousity or assholism driving the question. Usually.
3. Facebook or Instagram?
Facebook. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. It’s a real timewaster but is such a great way of staying in touch with people without actually having to talk to them. Plus it’s a great way to store photos. I’m currently more in the Love phase at the moment since I made my blog public.
4. It’s the PTA Bakesale (is that a thing in SA?): homemade, store bought, or NOPE?
You know, I actually have no idea if that’s a thing here. I know there’s usually a few parents on the School Governing Body but I haven’t heard of bakesales the way you guys have in the States. I think the closest alternative would be Bakerman where every kid gets a Friday each term to be said ‘Bakerman’ and their parent has to stay up past midnight in the kitchen the night before, baking something according to the theme of the week. It’s pretty cool (for the kids) who end up with Frog Prince cupcakes or Incey Wincey Brownies but it’s kind of a pain in the ass to be honest. I’m just gonna outsource the next one.

 

You should totally subscribe to her blog. (I’m pretty excited to see the new 2018 version myself!) And follow her on Facebook. And Instagram.

Also, I mentioned that I really wanted to visit Cape Town and apparently it is the coolest place ever: “PLEASE save up and book that flight to Cape Town! Sooner rather than later. You will not regret it. South Africa is ridiculously beautiful, but if you’re planning your first trip then Cape Town is the place to be. We lived there for a year and not a day went by that I didn’t feel like I was on holiday. It’s gorgeous. Like living in a postcard. Plus there’s a crazy amount of kid friendly places there. And THE FOOD!!!! Omg the food 😍 I love it!!!!! Plus I feel that if you go to Cape Town you will definitely want to see other places in South Africa. So many gems.”

So. Nadia lives in paradise. But I like her anyway. I think you will too.

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo.

Lately I feel like The Little Engine That Really Wants to But OMFG JUST CAN’T.

Moving is hard, y’all.

I have moved about a million times in my teens and twenties. But now I’ve lived in the same place for over ten years and WHY DO I HAVE SO MUCH STUFF???

One fun little bonus is that I am NOT buying food. We are trying hard to eat all of the food in the freezer.

So. Yay. Cooking.

Or, often, take-out. Or fast food.

By the way, did you see the adorable train set that was part of the McDonald’s kid’s meal in December? Yeah. We almost got the whole thing. You get how my month went now, right? I DID remember to feed the baby in December. She’s addicted to fruit. I kind of don’t blame her but I wish it was in season.

  • bananas $1.25, $0.95
  • cake pop $2
  • Cheerios $3.99, $5.29, $4.99
  • flaxseed milk (she uses enough that one per month is on her) $3.99
  • apples $4.89, $5.99, $2.74, $5.51
  • honeydew $3.37
  • grapes $5.47
  • cantaloupe $3.99, $3.99
  • mango $4.99
  • eggs $4.49
  • watermelon $11.39
  • frozen pizza $2.50, $2.50, $2.50
  • cookie dough $3.00 (more craft than food but whatever)
  • pink frosting $1.72 (more craft than food but whatever)
  • Five Guys hot dog $4.79, $4.79
  • Chick-fil-A* $3.29 + .20, $3.29 + .20, $3.29 + .20, $3.29 + .20
  • McDonald’s Happy Meal $2.99, $2.99, $2.99, $2.99, $2.99
  • extra toy because I’m that mom apparently $1.86

*Oh, something kinda cool: we stopped at Chick-fil-A while traveling before Christmas and Santa Cow was randomly there!! We made cool Chick-fil-A ornaments and colored pictures and waved at Santa Cow from a safe distance.

And let’s not forget our boring recurring monthly charges.

  • diapers $14.99, $8.99
  • wipes $4.49
  • Laundry detergent $8.46
  • baby bath $7.99
  • storage unit $127
  • extra tank of gas $40

RAISING BABYSTAR: $25,380.12

Santa, Interrupted.

Oh, the Holidays. The time of year when we try our hardest not to offend those we love and cherish. Or something like that.

Because we are moving soon (OMFG I NEED TO PACK), we took the ToddlerMonster to visit one set of grandparents in Myrtle Beach. The Teens* were in Florida with their dad and we all met back home after Christmas.

*The boy Teen just turned twenty-one and has not been a teenager for a few years but I have no other name for the two of them. The Teens is just so short and easy. I am open to suggestion, as they don’t care for the alternatives I have proposed: The Freeloaders, The Children of the Last Millennium (abbreviated COLT), or the Starter Kids.

SO ANYWAY.

Babystar is and was and remains all about Santa this year. And THE TEENS wanted to watch her experience SantaMagic and open her other gifts because they love her and they are brats. So we waited.

We told Babystar that Santa took her gift to her house. When we were just about to leave for Myrtle Beach last week, I ran back inside to hang the stockings. And I left instructions for THE TEENS to build the trains set ‘from Santa’. The shenanigans were only 99.9999% stressful and annoying.

But worth it. Ugh. Loving your kids is SO OVERRATED.

(Presents do not equal love. This whole delaying Christmas so all three of my favorite children could be happy and get what they wanted DOES equal love.)

But. Um. Y’all. I feel like I must Confess.

Babystar had WAY TOO MANY presents to open last night. And I didn’t even realize that it had happened.

Christmas shopping was done from about September to November. Sometimes via Amazon in the middle of the night. (When those packages arrived, I put them straight into a closet without opening them. So I guess I may have forgotten about them.) Often the Girl Teen was at Target with me, and she is a huge Babystar enabler. It is just so much FUN to choose toys for little kids. And so the Target bags would go in one closet or another and I guess I sort of forgot about them.

We even wrapped all of these gifts in November. The Teen and I had a wrapping party and we had music and snacks and it was fun and I was sad when it was over so I didn’t realize that I had purchased an entire toy store for the two year old.

It’s actually quite lucky that we are moving to a big farmhouse with no friends because she will have plenty of toys to play with and plenty of room to keep them and plenty of time to play with them. But soon I have to pack them. Ugh.

Santa brought her the train set that she wanted. Of course it was made by elves, but I think their summer job is at Ikea. Ikea would have charged $57.96 for all of the pieces that Santa’s elves made. And some are still in the closet. Santa went overboard.

Her Christmas stocking was full of chocolate coins* ($1.99), three packs of pink Play-doh ($0.77 x 3), a Rudolph board book ($1), a pack of M&Ms ($1.29), a Princess Poppy expandable washcloth from the Target dollar aisle which she already used last night ($1), ten adorable ‘monsters’ from Ikea** ($7.40), and a tiny baby doll*** ($3.59).

*Did you see those awesome Coins from Around the World for $1.99/bundle at Trader Joe’s this year??

**Ikea chooses ten kid’s drawings each year and turns them into stuffed animals with two sizes each and all proceeds go to charity and it is the cutest thing.

***Her Toddler BFF has this little baby from Target and Babystar loooooves it. Her BFF calls her ‘Baby Lucy’ so this one is naturally ‘Baby Lucy’.

And then there were a million more gifts wrapped under the tree.

  • Melissa and Doug felt food Sandwich Set
  • Melissa and Doug Scoop and Stack Ice Cream Cone Magnetic Play Set $21.20
  • Melissa and Doug Birthday Party Cake $14.97
  • Felt donuts from the Target ‘dollar aisle’ $3
  • Wooden breakfast food from the Target ‘dollar aisle’ $3
  • Strawberry Shortcake doll $9.99
  • Angel Cake doll $9.99
  • Blueberry Muffin doll $9.99
  • Orange Blossom doll $9.99
  • vintage Huckleberry Pie doll from eBay $9.95

I tucked Huck in with Angel Cake because she was the only one without a giant hat.

  • Terra Prehistoric World Playset (basically an awesome giant bin of dinosaurs) $15.99
  • CAT mini machines (“just like at nook!”) 5-pack $4.69

CAT trucks at nook

  • Hotwheels car launcher (meant to go with a track but Babystar just likes to zoom her cars) $9.97
  • Moana pajamas $17.97
  • Usborne books: Ludwig the Space Dog (it’s 3D!) and My First Book About Me (to help with naming feelings) $28.24
  • Three adorable winter hats with animal ears ($3, $3, $3)
  • Lacing toy for building fine motor skills $3
  • Honestly Cute Potty Training set (a baby doll with a flushing potty that she already adores and is currently peeing on my table and I hope will get Babystar excited about using the potty herself) $20.69
  • Play-doh Florist Shop $9.99
  • (We also bought an 18-pack of Play-doh but didn’t give it to her. We have been doling it out as she smooshes her Play-doh colors together.) $15.49

I did luckily get most of these things on sale. But dude. Yeah. It’s a bit much. I know, I know. I have no idea how this happened?

Parents: Got any advice for reigning it in with the gifts? I didn’t THINK I was an Over-Do-It Mama but apparently I am one. Bummer.

RAISING BABYSTAR: $25,036.15

Monday’s Mama is Queen Bee.

And she’s a BUSY Bee, too.

Bee’s blog is called I Just Wanna Finish My… (Um, that’s the end of my sentence but how do you add a period after ellipses points?)

Bee wants to finish her coffee, her meal, her sentence, her thought. Her anything. Momlife is hard, y’all. However, she does finish her blog posts. I Just Wanna Finish My… is one of my favorite new blogs. Bee has only been blogging for about six months and I Just Wanna Finish My…  is FULL of awesome crafts and parenting hacks and activity ideas and yummy recipes and hilarious stories.

Bee2

Bee is a pediatric occupational therapist turned stay at home mom. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have two adorable, wonderful, hilarious kids. These two children stole her brain, though. She realized she couldn’t complete a sentence or even a thought. Bee started blogging to reclaim her own brain and to think about more than just which store has the cheapest diapers or when was the last time her toddler went potty.

Bee is awesome and hilarious and extremely HELPFUL. Her pediatric occupational therapy background completely shows in her writing. You should totally read her blog and follow her on Instagram and Facebook. Who among us can’t use a little help?

Her majesty answered a few questions for me. My hypothesis is confirmed. Bee is freaking awesome.

1. I ADORE your blog and I feel like I know you and your kids. Yet you never post pictures of your kids faces. I kind of love that, though I basically do the opposite. How/why/when did you come to that decision?

Ah, so you noticed that! I’m glad it looks intentional and not just like I am that bad at cropping photos, haha. It was definitely a very conscious decision that I thought a lot about before moving forward on the blog. I actually LOVE seeing other people’s kids on their blogs and Instagram, and I know that I couldn’t tell my stories without at least partial pictures of them, but I have a couple reasons for keeping their names and faces off of my blog accounts. First, I think it gives me a challenge to write content that isn’t just about the kids. You (Darlene) have seen my personal IG and Facebook, and it is baby spam, all day, every day. My kids are SO CUTE (totally unbiased…) that I think placing this restriction keeps me from just writing a post each day about how funny the toddler is and how adorable the baby is with a picture to match. The posts that feature the kids become more about the activity we’re doing and less about how adorable they look doing it, if that makes sense. I have to get creative in staging pictures so that I can show, yes, they do exist, but no, you won’t recognize them in public. 
My other (more serious) reason is for their privacy and safety. I share pictures of them constantly on my personal accounts so that relatives and friends can see them grow up, but my husband and I decided that we just weren’t comfortable with putting their pictures out for just anyone to see on my public profiles. Our faces are fair game, though. 
Beekids
2. Your blog covers a lot of topics, and they are all so well done. What is your favorite thing to write about?

Thank you! I do cover a lot, which is probably bad for finding a niche, but it’s good for me because I just want to write about what I find interesting! I love to share activities for families. I had a whole series of “pumpkin projects” in the fall and I would highlight which skills that particular project could address, as well as ways to make it work for different skill levels. Right now, it’s easiest for me to write about activities for the toddler age, but that works out, because that was my favorite age to work with as a pediatric therapist. Posts of that nature are one way I can still feel like I’m contributing to my field, even if I’m not actively working. I also try to present projects that are cheap and realistic. I can’t stand when craft projects are tagged as toddler age, but there is no way a toddler could do even 50% of it on their own. Or, when you need approximately $40 in supplies for 5 minutes of entertainment. No thanks, give me a bunch of construction paper and some scissors and we’re good to go.

3. Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

I normally don’t because I know that I will only last a week of eating only salads and exercising before I give up on it. I think people put too many expectations on themselves to make major lifestyle changes and it’s just intimidating. 
That being said, I did make one last year that has kind of worked out. I decided I was going to me more intentional this year. I think it sounds kind of millenial, so you can laugh at it with me if you want, but a vague resolution like that actually worked! I started meal planning (some), making smarter grocery lists (most of the time), and being more mindful with budgeting instead of just winging it all the time (except this month). It wasn’t a measurable resolution, just like a “hey, be a better adult” resolution.

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

Homemade, all the way!! I might stay up until 2am doing it, but those oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are gonna be DELICIOUS and full of real butter and sugar. Treat yo’ self!
Bee is so right. YASSS QUEEN.
Treat yo’ self AND be a better adult. Can you imagine if we ALL decided to be better adults in 2018!? Let’s do it. Who’s in?

Dinosaur Land.

You know that Salvador Dalí painting with the melting clocks?

Dinosaur Land in The Middle of Nowhere, Virginia is exactly like that. But with dinosaurs. Non-melting dinosaurs.

This place is amazing. I am a HUGE FAN. But it is clearly not, like, a research institution. Drive eighty miles east to the Smithsonian for that kind of dinosaur experience. Dinosaur Land’s target audience is obviously children. Or maybe Collectors of Odd Experiences. The dinosaurs are made of fiberglass that looks like paper maché. There are even little dinosaur families with dinosaur babies. But then there are BATTLE SCENES and dinosaurs eating other dinosaurs. WHAT. WHY.

Babystar said that one of the dinosaurs was sleeping. I went along with her version of events.

This place is an hour and a half away from D.C. in decent SAHM traffic. It is definitely worth a visit if you live within two hours of Dinosaur Land, because you won’t find many other places like this in your life. Admission is $5 for ages 2-10 and $6 for ages 11 and up. (I paid $22 for two adults and two toddlers. Then my friend bought the girls dinosaurs on the way out.)

Side note: my most favorite non-child-related SAHM perk is the LACK OF RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC. Highly recommend. Four stars.

Dinosaur Land is NOT worth a visit if you are simply visiting Washington D.C. for the monuments and museums. Dinosaur Land is a novel roadside attraction. Imagine that you live in the country and the old dude on the corner has a bunch of dinosaur statues in his backyard. Dinosaur Land is exactly like that. And approximately that size.

Oh, plus there is a giant King Kong and you can climb in his hand for a picture. And there is a giant shark that you can play in. BUT DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING ELSE.

If you do make the trek, take a friend. The drive is long and it helps if you can sing along to some 90s music on the way.

Also, take a picnic lunch even though you may NOT eat in Dinosaur Land. (Dinosaur Land is really big on rules.) Head west on Route 277 and there is a really cool park about five minutes away. Sherando Park has about a million picnic tables including a few shorty tables that are perfect for toddlers. There is a small playground that is toddler appropriate (but doesn’t have the baby swings). And just a short walk across the gravel road, there is a really cool FREAKING GIANT play structure that will give parents of toddlers a mini heart attack. But it DOES have baby swings. It also has a smaller toddler size play structure but why would any self-respecting two-year-old want to play on that when they can climb to the top of the world and almost fall but not fall and — oh, sorry. Everything’s ok.

Sherando Playground

Adults: make the climb and slide down the highest slide at Sherando Park. It is NO JOKE. Do it. You’re welcome.

We stopped at an adorable farmer’s stand on the way home and I bought a giant cookie for Babystar and a tomato that she poked her thumb into because toddlers love experiments. And a soda. ($4.25.)

RAISING BABYSTAR: $22,749.39