Confession: I hate party-planning

I’m totally torn on if we should have a 3 year birthday party for Margo.

All year, I’ve said no. We’ve had it at our house the past two years and it’s just been… so crowded and so overwhelming. It’s January, so we’re all inside. (Which I hate bc we have an awesome yard – if she had a May-September birthday, this would not be a discussion.) Last year was the BEST! (And by BEST I mean WORST!) She was sick the week leading up to her birthday party and we had to reschedule it and push it back a week. Her birthday is also 3 weeks after Christmas. You know, that time of year when you’ve finally put away all the presents and decorations and don’t want to even look at anything sweet or think about adding more toys to the mix. And you don’t want to do anything social at all because you’ve been going-going-going for 2 months straight?

Oh, January birthdays.

I feel like a mean mom, to be honest! I think I missed the creative party gene, something that is glaringly obvious every time I log into Pinterest! I felt like that about planning my wedding back in the day too – I just don’t get jazzed up about character cupcakes or personalized banners or whatever shabby-chic decor I’m supposed to want to pay so much for! I’d actually glady farm the planning out entirely. I don’t like crafting, I don’t even like calling the cupcake shop and ordering. What is wrong with me??

But, Margo has been talking about her birthday since, oh… March? She has known her birthday is January 16 and it’s coming “beary soon!” since then. All along we were saying we’d skip the party this year and just do something low key & family oriented, and maybe do a friend party once the weather got nice. But we’ve been going to friend parties all year. We went to one Sunday and she said “Margo’s going to have a birthday party soon!”

Well, it is getting to be “beary soon,” now. 2 months away, it’s time to figure this mess out, I think.

Is it a terrible idea to skip a 3 year birthday party, since she’s so excited & loves parties? Should I just suck it up and do it, or be the boss and declare this a first world problem and know that life will be just fine if we skip…


Movie Night!

Friday nights usually go a little something like this in our world:

YAY it’s Friday! Wahooo! Ugh, I’m so exhausted.

We’ve settled into this family tradition in the past few months of renting movie on Friday nights. (Sometimes we’ll buy if we are moderately sure we’ll like it and it’s nice to have several to choose from for road trips!) We order a pizza and eat like crap. (In fact, despite having eaten out one night this week, and having leftovers in the fridge, Scott and I were just talking about how we *cannot even consider* just regular leftovers… doesn’t feel right. Friday demands junk.) We snuggle on the couch, turn off the lights and put on our jammies. We let Margo pick which movie we want to watch, though we do often gently guide her based on what we’re in the mood for.

Side note: we do all of this on iTunes these days (since we’re a iFamily…) A few months ago, we took a big jar of change to a Coinstar machine. We turned it into itunes cash. It’s been great to slowly burn through “free money” on iTunes (ie, money we didn’t know we had.) And Coinstar doesn’t take a cut of it if you don’t get cash back & turn the coins into a gift card. We felt super smart, had to share that.

Our (current) favorites are:

The Lion King.This is by FAR the favorite; every time we say anything about a movie the answer is “Lion King!” She loves little Simba (and really, how can you not, he’s so cute, if a little bratty.) She doesn’t seem to understand why Simba’s daddy just falls asleep after that wildebeast herd. Weird. It’s not all that funny, although Timon and Pumba are obviously the grown up draw. Never realized how funny they were watching it as a kid. (Also strong communist themes with Scar. Too academic? Sorry.) This movie does hold a special place in my heart; me and my sister watched it at least daily one summer. Sometimes I recall just watching it until Mufasa died, cause then it gets heavy. Also, little Simba = cutie pie. <- Margo’s words, though tweenage Jamie & Ashley concurred evidently.

The Lorax. I love this one, and was sort of surprised since I never really loved the book or old movie. The addition of some characters & songs made a big difference. I love the message & love the music. My parents watched it with Margo the one night they babysat for us last month and I really would have given good money to see my dad’s face during “How bad can I be” 🙂 Not a real “pro-business” song.

We also own Up, Cars, Curious George, Finding Nemo and Ice Age, and they’re all good but I’d say The Lorax and LK are the big favorites right now. I really like both of her favorites, especially because, OMG you should see her face during the opening scene of Lion King. You know, when all the animals come running. It’s quite adorable how excited she gets. Here’s an impression:

*said with no breaths between words* “look! a tree! An elephant! A baby elephant! A giraffe! Canteloupes! Birdies, mommy, look! A waterfall! Where’s Simba!? Elephants!! Aw, Rafiki and Mufasa are hugging!”

And as much as we love our collection, we have so much fun watching new things every so often. Last week we watched Madagascar 3, might be the most I’ve laughed at a kids’ movie! Margo laughed a lot too, so it was a win. I would totally buy that one.

I have a great list from my Twitter friends on new ones to try but am always on the lookout for new movies to try. We did preview Cinderella last weekend and, well, it seemed so boring. Just not really up to the pace and witty banter standards of Pixar & DreamWorks that we’ve gotten used to (and enjoy as a whole family, not just the kid). I could be wrong, I haven’t watched a princess movie since I was a kid, but I sorta yawned and passed on it.

Anywho, is it quitting time yet!? Thinking maybe Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs or another Madagascar movie tonight! Anyone else do a movie night? What are the faves?


Dressing A 2 Year Old Girl: Rules and Lessons Learned

So, some recent convos on Twitter got me thinking about my daughter’s wardrobe… how my views have evolved and pet peeves, and what I’ve learned in the 2.75 years I’ve had to dress her up.

Make no mistake, I love dressing my daughter. She is way funner to dress up than myself, and, cheesy as it may sound, she actually influences my style. To a greater degree than it is cool to admit…

In the beginning, I got an onslaught of little-girly, teeny and (mostly) free/gifted clothes. When they say “It’s a Girl,” it’s like an unstoppable impulse to go buy a tiny pink onesie with something cute written on it. (I remember folding freshly washed onesies reading “Cutie Pie” and “So sweet” just terrified it’d be “ironic” & my daughter wouldn’t be those things and therefore the shirt would be ridiculous… lol.)  I did it, my entire circle of friends & family did it. As she gets older and her personality is becoming apparent and she has real interests and opinions, I sorta don’t feel the same as I used to about some clothing things. I don’t follow a hard and fast set of rules, however these are some of my guiding principles.

My Kid Talks, Her Clothes Don’t*

My first rule is a strong limit on words on clothes for my kid. When you really start to think about it, uh, she can’t read. If I put her in a shirt that says “Rock Star,” isn’t that a little unfair? (Or maybe just odd?) She doesn’t even know what a Rock Star is, and is that something I want her to aspire to? Ok, that’s a different tangent, but worth noting, little girl clothes are notoriously off in the skanky direction. Not likely to find one that proclaims “I love Science and Math!” or something, you know, that we WOULD want to encourage. This summer I bought/inherited a few plain colored shirts that paired with plain shorts or skirts. It was easy (even a dad can match outfits!) and I wasn’t putting some sort of weird persona on my kid.

I’m not absolute, I did just buy a babyGap shirt the other day that says “Bonjour” and has a cat on it, because she loves “Happy Lion” and cats. Also, a Lifeguard shirt because she’s so obsessed with Lifeguards it just had to be done. So maybe I act as her power of attorney a little on the “if it has to have words, at least let them be relevant” rule. I know a common “I’ll never do that” -> “I totally ate my words and am doing it anyway” issue among toddler moms is “character t-shirts.” I don’t think I ever promised to avoid them altogether; we have a few (mostly Elmo). I have a t-rex shirt and a lion shirt for her for Christmas too, because, well, she loves them! And who can resist that happy moment when you get them something they love and feed an obsession…

Comfort first

Margo has always been a sturdy little lady. That said, the jeans I’m pulling out of the hand me down box now (3T) are the first jeans to really fit her well. The first year it was a joke… she’d been sitting up for several months and I put jeans on her and she couldn’t even sit. (But, they looked SO CUTE. Don’t worry, I didn’t make her wear them.) And last year sort of worked, though I didn’t subject her to them often because I could tell they weren’t comfortable. I have this weakness for babies and tots in jeans, this was a hard, hard concession for me. Don’t let them tell you you won’t grow as a mother, people.

(Aside: I LOVE jeggings on her for this very reason. They look so cute, but they’re more comfy than jeans. See? Oh, and bonus, they’re Circo and cost like $7 on sale. Win Win Win, to infinity. )

Here’s the thing that has come to be a guiding principle for me in the Comfort realm: kids play. She shouldn’t be limited in that because her clothes are limiting her or her shoes. And, in my experience/opinion, girls clothes are far more prone to inhibit play (not ALL, but there are some scary things out there, people.) Shoes are a big thing, in our experience. We’ve had several friends send hand me downs (which we’re so grateful for), so we have shoes to choose from (i.e., we have shoes in our closet that I didn’t pick out…) Several sandals (and even wedge heels…) just didn’t fit her right or she complained about them. At first it was a little sad – these dainty white thong sandals would go perfect with this dress – but then I realized “Dummy, she’s a kid! Throw some Crocs on her and move on.” And that’s the beauty of the hand me down – no guilt when you don’t use them.

Sidenote: do toddlers EVER like thong sandals? Margo wouldn’t tolerate them long enough to get the second shoe on!

Less is More
This is my hardest rule to follow. Even within the strict parameters mentioned above, I STILL always end up with too many clothes. (I know, first world problem.) I have been approaching it from the past year from a quality over quantity standpoint. Many of Margo’s clothes now are going to be worn for several seasons, if not years (like the dress-turned-into-tunic look!) I’ve been getting less at Target and more at Lands’ End and Zulily. I hate the feeling (which I’ve had every single season so far…) of having clothes that we hardly touched, or clothes I really loved that I didn’t feel she wore enough. I’m constantly reminding myself of this one, and breaking this rule. It’s just… freaking girls clothes! Irresistible.

Cute (not sexy)
Sad it has to be said, but there you go. This rule I am holding tightly, rocking in a corner. Will become ever more relevant as she gets bigger (and I like to think I don’t need to be reminded…) Maybe it’s more like a mantra. Or prayer.

So, what are your principles in dressing your little ROCK STAR/DIVA/CUTIE PIE? 🙂

Getting my Mommy Mojo Back…

My post-marathon days have felt sort of like reanimation… I’m slowly getting my energy, body movement and mental focus back. This weekend was pretty amazing; I didn’t work out at all. I didn’t have to prioritize anything over spending time with my kid. Without running long on Saturday morning, there was time to fit in all the “chores” without missing out on family time, and energy enough to enjoy family time.

(Marathon training wasn’t all bad, but it was a sacrifice. I’ve been enjoying the “decadent” feeling of having time to do all the things I missed.)

That whole Daddy’s Girl forever and Mommy is Chopped Liver shenanigans? Evidently I got my mojo back this weekend and things have been going better. For the most part, we’re in a happy, balanced, “I have two parents and they’re both cool by me” house. I worked hard to be present, be in a good mood and it was fun for all. I am sure there will come a time, maybe in the near future, where I’ll revisit the awesome comments you guys left – heck I used some of them this weekend! 🙂

We started out with Margo’s first soccer class on Saturday (OMG, the cute factor was really unfathomable.) She had a blast and it was really, really fun to watch her with Scott. We had to go out on the field a few times to “save” her from the big scary man coaches. She’s not much for dudes, turns out.

Sunday morning I went to the Raleigh Marathon to cheer for my friends, and repay the scores of anonymous marathoners with some of that encouragement I loved so much during my race. Sunday evening, me and Margo hit the pool together. Super fun! That is so “our thing” and I’m trying to do it every time I have the opportunity!

Getting a pic of Margo when she’s not talking: impossible.

Last night, we had a dance party to the Rock of Ages soundtrack (which Scott threatened to embarrass me with, but I’m owning it. Yes I own the Rock of Ages soundtrack. It’s awesome, not ashamed.) Margo loved it, & even started singing “I love Rock n’ Roll!” We were dancing together to power ballads. & I heard this little number…

“I don’t need to be the king of the world, as long as I’m the hero of this little girl.” 

And I was just content. Yeah, I’m still that so it’s all good. And even if she doesn’t like me sometimes (or for long stretches), I like to think I still will be. Right?

Sightseeing in DC: Toddler Edition

On our trip to Washington DC last weekend, even with the marathon, a toddler and nap schedule and potentially hazardous weather, we had so much fun. DC happens to be one of my most favorite cities ever, and when I finally got to the Mall I was grinning like a fool.

First off… sightseeing in the city in the two days before a marathon. Talk about a half-baked idea! I had such a hard time trying to make sure I wasn’t walking too much or too fast and drinking enough and eating well. It was sort of a pain. And as I laid in bed Friday night (race was Sunday) and my feet gave a little throb of pain, I sorta kicked myself. Even so, there were trade offs; we didn’t do as much as we could have. And, being a family vacay (and one where I was asking Scott and Margo to basically do nothing but watch strangers run on Sunday), I couldn’t do some things I really wanted to do. Like the Newseum. (OMG, I haven’t been to it since it’s been moved and I wanna go soo bad.)

We arrived Friday, and it was sort of a slow day; everything took longer than we anticipated. I got my stuff at the expo, Scott took Margo to the Air and Space Museum. So much driving, waiting, walking and toddler wrangling made it an exhausting day. Hangry Jamie even made an appearance before dinner! The Air and Space Museum wasn’t as huge of a hit was we’d hoped for Margo (at 2 months shy of 3)… she breezed through a lot of it before I got there and wasn’t really interested in backtracking at all. I was sorta sad I didn’t have a chance to look at more stuff there; it’s a fun one. Also worth noting, no nap and lots of driving *may* have tainted the toddler mood. (It definitely did.)

But, Saturday was darn near perfect. We decided to just go slow. Scott had spent so much of Friday carrying Margo (who didn’t nap! Did I forget to mention that?) and he was pretty spent too. We took the metro to see the White House. Margo kept talking about how we were going to see Obama in Washington DC, we couldn’t miss it. Obviously, didn’t see Obama or even get to go in the White House, but it was pretty fun to see it! We walked (meandered) past the Washington Monument to the Smithsonian (didn’t open til 10! Whaaat?) It was a gorgeous fall day… & we were in full parent papparazzi form and got like a bajillion pics.

We also visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. This might be my most very favorite museum experience ever… she was so excited about the dinosaur bones and they have a really awesome exhibit of stuffed animals.

Awesome, awesome butterfly house too. You had to pay for it, but it was so worth it for the concentration of butterflies. I’ve been to my share of butterfly houses (*humblebrag*) and I’ve never been so close to them. We were all in a great mood, it was a really awesome museum for her at this age and given her interests (animals and dinos being in the top 5.) We also went a little nuts in the gift shop. What can I say, I love a museum gift shop… We had lunch at the cafe there. Um, holy yummy food. I was shocked… I had a roasted eggplant sandwich and a cupcake. Much more than the hot dog/chicken fingers you’d expect.

I think I’m left feeling torn between wishing we’d had more quality time to do stuff (we didn’t even see half of the Natural History Museum) and being so thankful for what we did get to do. It was awesome family time. We stayed in a hotel in Arlington, and we weren’t particularly close to a metro stop (the “shovel” had to take us there. “Shuttle” for those of you who don’t speak Margo.) We ended up spending our evenings in Arlington/Pentagon City & eating nearby… nothing special.

BUT! Scott is going back to DC for a work trip later this month and Margo and I are most likely tagging along. I’m totally excited to do it all again – with energy! – and also have a nicer, closer (FREE) hotel. Potentially want to hit the zoo (if it’s not terribly cold), American History Museum (first lady gowns! weee!) and, probably Natural History again (we missed the whole buggie exhibit, after all…)

And one of my most very favorite pictures ever:

Daddy’s Girl

Apologies in advance for the overthinking enclosed within…

This weekend, on our family trip to DC, a painful truth emerged. Margo is a Daddy’s girl.

Not like “oh, whatever, I love my daddy”, but more like “NO! I don’t WANT Mommy, I want Daddy to do (my hair, get me out of the carseat, wipe my butt, etc).” I mean, I’m cool handing off the butt wiping and little things… it’s just awkward for me to feel pushed out. I wouldn’t say she even showed a preference… maybe one day she was more keen on one of us but never a lingering pro-Mommy or Daddy preference. I always was really thankful for that, and hopeful it would stick.

Part of me blames the marathon, which put me in the position of having to be off running while Daddy & Margo bonded. I also know that Scott is this fount of patience, and I’m just not. I know I need to work on that; he’s the fun one.

And then I start getting all mad at myself that I always end up playing with her “and”… meaning if we’re in the playroom doing an activity, I’ll duck into the laundry room to start a load or fold last night’s load. Or if we’re coloring together downstairs I’ll duck into the kitchen and start making dinner or throw some dishes in the dishwasher. She rarely has my undivided attention. She almost always has Scott’s when they’re hanging out. I think that’s a normal mom-problem, but I hate it. (And honestly, I’m not sure when those little things would get done if I didn’t do them sporadically throughout the night, or that it wouldn’t contribute to an overall high-stress Jamie if I waited till she was in bed.)

Part of this is our difference in approach, which might be something we need to address. I don’t want a child that I need to entertain constantly, and I’m welcoming her budding ability to entertain herself while I take care of something else. I encourage her to do stuff herself. Scott’s not *opposite* of those things, but I think I’m a little more “hard core” about it and she’s starting to sense that, perhaps.

In any event, I’m starting to feel like mean, lame mom to Scott’s cool, funny dad. It sucks. I’m trying to be more present, we’re trying to navigate things we can do together to give me the chance to re-bond with my kid. Me and Margo had some good times this week, but it’s mostly when I pick her up from school and Scott’s not there; if there’s ever a “choice,” Scott’s the pick. I’m hoping (oh, God am I hoping) this is a phase and it’ll pass soon. This morning it sort of all came to a head; I was trying to get her ready while Scott got ready & made her breakfast. She wouldn’t. listen. to. me at all. And the more serious I became, the more it was “Daaaaddy, Daddddy.” And the more she did that, the more I got sort of upset, which didn’t do me any favors in the likeability category. Not a great start to a day.

How do I mend our relationship? Wait it out? Give her space or push for more “bonding opportunities?” Or just buck up and realize this is a parenting lesson and we’ll have these times…I’d love to hear about others’ experiences & advice!

& thanks for listening (reading)

Why I’m running a marathon (and how you can support me)

One of the realities of living with a 2 year old, I’ve learned, is the nearly constant barrage of “Why”…(the break occurring in the the 11 hours during which she’s asleep.) Over the past 4 months, I’ve been going running every Saturday and most weekday mornings. She sees me getting out my sneakers and knows I’m going running. Our morning convos go something like this, as she’s laying in our bed trying to snooze with her daddy and I’m trying to quietly get all my things together in the dark.

M: “Mommy, you going running?”

J: “Yep, go back to sleep, sweetie.”

M: “Why?”

J: “Because I’m training for the marathon.”

M: “Why?”

I mean, everyone has a motivation for doing something as crazy as training for and running 26.2. You have to. But does everyone get grilled at 6am every time they run? I guess I just have an unfair advantage: daily reevaluation of why the hell I’m doing this.

So the answer? I am doing it because I wanted to prove I can. I am doing this because it’s hard and overcoming a challenge – THE challenge – is empowering and even the training makes me feel good (except for sometimes when it sucks.) I’m doing it for the time to myself. I’m doing it because I’ve always wondered if I can, and I don’t like just putting things off. It’s a great time in my life, and I’m ready to spike the ball and be a marathoner.

It’s not all motivation and envisioning the finish line on the daily though. It’s been ridiculously hard, painful (hi, icebaths…), beyond exhausting and frustrating. But, as I’m so close to the actual race, enjoying a week of tapering (and no more running till Sunday! Woo!) and trying to calm my race day jitters and worries… it’s a mixed bag of feelings for me. All last month, in the weeks leading up to the 20 miler (the peak), I was so tired I was looking to the marathon as THE END. I wouldn’t even think about running after that. I was so excited to just stop, and if I had to run 26.2 miles to have the right to stop, fine.

Now, as I’ve backed off my mileage so much, I’m almost bittersweet about how I’m going to miss it. Miss running with my friends regularly and miss wearing my running clothes and and when will I listen to my audio books? It’s going to be a huge change, and it’s weird. Of course I will still run, but there have been so many days, at least once a week and some weeks more, where I have a scheduled run that I just don’t want to do but I make myself because MARATHON TRAINING SAYS I MUST.  And I respect the marathon training, I do the workouts. (I think I’ve only skipped .4 miles the whole time…honest to Jesus! We joke about how much Margo loves rules, pretty sure that’s all me.)

Ultimately, I believe in the transformative power of running. I believe that this training has changed me, it’s changed what I believe I’m capable of and I know without a doubt that finishing the race will change me. Running in general gives you freedom, power, self-confidence, health and camaraderie. As much as it has sucked some days, I’m so happy I’m doing this. I’ve only thought about not doing it… like maybe twice. 🙂

For all those reasons, and more, I’ve chosen to raise money for Girls on the Run of the Triangle, a local charity that teaches young girls about the positive, transformative power of running. If you want to support me & give me a boost, please make a donation. And a huge thanks to so many of my friends & family who already have, I’m really blown away(and excited) about the money I’ve raised so far! I’ll be matching donations received from now till the race!

So yeah… I’m getting all sappy about it now that it’s almost over. I feel pretty certain I’ll cry when I finish.