Misadventures of a 20-Something Mom: 2015   

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

20-Something Mom Approved Holiday Gift Guide: 2015 ed.

               My husband has been having a good laugh at my expense because he says nobody posts a holiday gift guide the week of Christmas. Everybody is already done with their shopping and 3 sheets to the spiked eggnog wind by now. Even though this made me want to throat chop him a little, I had to admit that he's probably right. Unfortunately, a few of the items I was reviewing had shipping delays and it threw a monkey wrench in the whole process. Whatevs. Bygones. Even if you are done buying presents, you can keep these awesome items in mind for birthdays, or bat mitsvahs, or for the store credit you will get when you return that hideous Cat Sweater that Aunt Agnes will undoubtedly purchase for you.

             I don't know about you, but buying gifts for my family has gotten increasingly more difficult over the years. My kids already have a crap ton of toys and after nearly 11 years together my husband is still a total present-buying enigma. Neither of us is into the typical go-to gifts like jewelry or flashy name brand clothing. ( To drive home this point, I'm pretty sure he still has a pair of underwear that he wore in highschool. He says I can't throw them out because now they're vintage chic.) But I digress. Shopping for my fam involves copious research and covert ops. In an effort to save you the same hassle, I've scoured the internet, searched high and low, for the most epic gifts this holiday season. I've tested most of these out myself, so the following items gets the 20-something mom stamp of approval.

1. Yuba Mundo Bike

The folks at Yuba Bicycles were kind enough to ship out one of their brand spanking new Mundos for the boys and I to try out and Orange Cycle Orlando assembled it for us. I don't know how I possibly could have gone so long without ever even knowing that this beautiful beast of a bike existed. They call it the "mini van" of bikes, and for good reason! Depending on how you configure it, the bike can hold up to 4(!) small children. So theoretically I could pop out two more and we'd still be in business. Just kidding, husband. (mostly.) They also have all kinds of awesome accessories to pimp your ride anyway you'd like. From running boards, to child seats, to giant baskets that can hold like 80 lbs or something crazy. I don't even know what I'd haul that would weigh 80 lbs.... Maybe groceries...a pallet of boxed wine...a small bull mastiff...the possibilities are really endless. I'd be lying if I told you this is "just like riding a bike." There was definitely a tiny learning curve with it. I'm not used to balancing the weight of both boys behind me, so I spent the first few minutes of our ride getting accustomed to the feel of it and learning to balance accordingly. (When you're pedaling at a good rate, you don't even notice the extra weight. It's when you've stopped or slowed that it feels a bit different than your run of the mill bicycle. ) However, after that short adjustment period we were golden! Trust me when I tell you that you don't have to be some crunchy hippie to appreciate this mode of transportation. The boys and I had an absolute blast!

2. Grizzly Bear Bean Bags

I suppose these would technically fall under the unique "gifts for kids" section...but as my husband keeps catching me cuddling these adorable beasts...I'd argue that they are really a gift for the entire family. They are just as squishy and snuggly as they look, the cover is machine washable, and they offer the added bonus that if you leave them on the front porch you can scare the bejesus out of pesky door-to-door solicitors. When these bears first arrived, my kids played with them for two straight hours. If you have small children, superhumanly hyperactive boys specifically, you know how seemingly impossible of a feat that is. They can't even muster the 30 seconds of concentration it takes to go potty because invariably they will get distracted by something shiny and end up peeing all over the bathroom wall. Two hours with a toy has got to be  Guinness World Record. And now, weeks after the bears arrived, they still adore them and play with them daily. The four of us snuggle on them during story time, and they accompany us during family movie nights. They can be purchased individually (here) or as a mama and baby bear set (here). If you have more than one child, I'd strongly advise the set, as sharing such an epic toy is a lot to ask of little ones. I have to be honest, the price of these originally turned me off a little, but once they were here and I saw how sturdy and kid-friendly they were and the looks on my boys' faces, I totally understood what all the hype was about. You won't regret this purchase!

3. Little Passports


 There's nothing I love more than a gift that keeps on giving. Enter Little Passports. A subscription based service that puts the entire world at your child's fingertips. The company caters to 3 different age brackets focusing on kids from 3-12 years of age. After ordering, destination-specific packages will arrive every month filled with letters, souvenirs, activities & more. These days, my boys' favorite sight is the mailman lest he have a package from Little Passports! This subscription is all about play-based learning, which is big in our house, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

4. Shipt


 You know that nervous breakdown-y feeling you get in the grocery store, when one kid is screaming for Coco Puffs and the other is simultaneously hollering that he has a potty emergency, and passerby are staring at you in horror because you can't seem to manage to keep your little cubs quiet? Shipt is the remedy. Some brilliant beyond brilliant person got the hair-brained idea that we parents just might enjoy a service that allows us to avoid the god-forsaken grocery store, where souls are lost, and have our groceries delivered right to our door for a reasonable price. Although, I've got to tell you, even if it wasn't reasonable (which it totally is btw), I would not be above whoring my husband out as a male gigalow in order to afford this life-changing service. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go now and become a member of Shipt. Its an investment in your sanity...which is kind of priceless.

5. Hello Fresh

I am a terrible cook. I mean no one has ever died or anything....but I'm definitely no Julia Child. I was raised by a single-mother and she didn't have much time to show me the ropes in the kitchen, so my skills are seriously lacking. When I DO try and cook, I typically end up getting frustrated with the complex recipes that involve weird/unfamiliar ingredients because I can't find them in the store and then the recipes do not break it down for my feeble cooking mind. Enter Hello Fresh. A subscription service where you get to pick out 3 recipes for your family, and they send all the food AND the recipes in a temperature-regulated package right to your door. Like everything! Even any crazy weird spices or herbs you might need.  The recipes even have pictures which each step so you really can't screw this up even if you try. This is actually a lot of fun and you get the added bonus of being able to prance around and say things like "look at me julienning the shit out of this carrot." Its a very accomplished feeling. Trust me.

6. Twinkle Brews

If a present for Mommy and a present for Daddy had a baby, Twinkle Brews would be that baby. Easily one of the coolest and most unique small gift ideas I have come across thus far. Essentially, they take your favorite craft beers and create candles, inside the old bottle, that smell just like that beer! I know, right? Pretty amazeballs. Total sensory overload. The business is actually so popular that they've had to suspend taking orders until after Christmas. (But keep them in mind because Valentine's Day will be here before we know it!)

7. Adult Coloring Books

I feel like "adult" coloring book sounds like I am tracing pictures of giant schlongs and big, floppy boobies, and I'm sure they probably have something like that, but please don't put it in grandma's stocking and tell her I suggested it. They have a ton of these out this holiday season and they look like so much fun. I can totally see it as the playdate of the future. The kids play while the mommies laugh and chat and color elaborate lion heads and down mimosas. A girl can dream. 

8. Melissa & Doug Trunki

 If you are traveling to dear old Grammies, or anywhere for that matter, these trunkis are a lifesaver! Especially if you have a kid in that weird "I'm too big for a stroller, too gigantic to carry, but I get whiny and unreasonable if forced to walk too far" stage. My kids love riding them and its the perfect size to tote around all their stuff.

9. LILLEbaby doll carrier

Am I a total renegade for buying my son a baby carrier and a baby doll for Christmas???? Maybe! But I'm a member of the "toys are genderless" camp and besides, I do what the hell I want. I still wear my 2 year old in a carrier and he gets such a kick out of wearing his own little baby around. Do you know what I think playing with a typically girl toy will do to him when he gets older? Make him effeminate? Give him a proclivity to crossdress? Nah. Probably won't have any impact at all.....but I sure hope its at least laying the foundation for him to be a kick ass Dad one day. These carriers are equally adorable; whether you have a little girl or a little boy.

10. Rockabye Lullaby Renditions By __________

It doesn't get more Millenial Parent than lullabies, for babies, that are set to your favorite tunes from the 80's, 90's, and today. Daddy will certainly appreciate the Guns N' Roses, Metallica, and Jay Z , ballads while he rocks your precious bundle to sleep. Mommy might prefer the comparatively mellow pace of the Journey, Blink 182, or Dave Matthews Band's lullabies. No matter your musical taste or inclination, there is truly something for everyone, and these compilations will make a seemingly never-ending bedtime routine a little more bearable.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

To My BFF on her Wedding Day

To my best friend, on her wedding day,

I know you’ll look beautiful. No matter the circumstance, you always have.

Whether you were all dolled up for one of our (albeit infrequent) nights on the town, or just nursing a hangover the next day, you’ve always been radiant. Inside and out. It was your friendly smile and ridiculous sense of humor that initially drew me to you 13.5 years ago. Being the shy, new kid on the block in high school, translated to me frequently feeling lost, misunderstood, and completely out of place. I found a place with you. I’m guessing you picked up that compassionate tendency to shepherd the strays from your mom, because you quickly took me in, befriended me and never looked back.

Over the years, we have shared all sorts of ups and downs together. From celebrating academic, and later, career-related successes, to mending broken hearts from piece of shit boys that were never worth our time anyways. Situations and circumstances perpetually changed, but our friendship never did.

Back when we were just teens, I remember the many sleepovers we spent, chatting into the wee hours of the morning about our hopes and dreams for the future. You were going to be a doctor. Follow your passion and have a thriving practice where you got to work with children all day. A life long dream. Then, you’d go home to your own handsome, loving husband and slew of adorable, little Greek babies. I, on the other hand, would live wild, and fast, and free. I was going to be solely a career woman. Answer to no one. I would be my own boss; with neither the time, energy, nor inclination to be strapped down by the confines of motherhood, marriage, or obligation.

Clearly, somewhere along the line, your unwavering emphasis on family, eternal drive and unfaltering sense of responsibility must’ve rubbed off on me. Because before I knew it, I, the feminist version of Peter Pan, was the one settling down, getting married, and having babies.

And you know what? You were right all along, sister. I’ve never been happier.

So today, I have no sage advice to offer the old soul who’s had it all figured out from the start. But just like those sleepovers years ago, I still have plenty of hopes and dreams. As for the wedding day itself, I hope you don’t stress about the tiny details. It goes by so fast. Just relax, remember what the day is really about, and take it all in.

Once you and your Prince Charming tie the knot, I hope that you two remember that you’re forever on the same team. Always fight fair but forget that bullshit about never going to bed angry. Better that, than someone ending up in a body bag.

When the honeymoon is over, literally and figuratively, it's easy to get caught up in the stress and drudgery of everyday life. Even when he’s exhibiting one of the many irritating or disgusting man habits, like forgetting to flush, drinking from the carton, or being a shitty listener, and you really want to beat him with a wiffle bat, try and focus on his positive traits instead. The things you fell in love with. While arguably, the wiffle bat is temporarily gratifying, it’s better for the long haul if you can refrain. Though, if that isn’t feasible, you know I’ll always be here to help you make up an alibi .

I hope that you get all the beautiful babies you’ve dreamed of since we were still kids ourselves. Though, now that you’ve seen this circus I call a family, you might be reconsidering just how many beautiful babies you might want. If and when the little bundles of joy finally arrive, you have my number. Remember, I’m totally down for newborn snuggles if you want to tap out for awhile.

Most of all, I hope you know, how incredibly excited I am for you to begin a new chapter in what has already been an extraordinary life story. Know that I’ll always be here. Cheering you on from the sidelines and wishing you nothing but love and happiness.


Your BFF

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Child-free Mother's Day: A Girl Can Dream

I'm going to voice what is probably a wildly unpopular opinion.

I've always marched to the beat of my own drum, so I don't mind, but you might need to brace yourself.

Ready? Here goes:

This Mother's Day.....what I want most in the world....is to get the hell away from my kids.

That's right. No need to read that last line again. I said it. I'll own it.

I don't want a macaroni necklace, a fancy Pandora bracelet, or breakfast in bed. I don't need an $8 Hallmark card to prove how much my family loves and appreciates me.

I don't need any more reminders that I'm a mother.

It is literally etched on my skin.

For the past 4.5 years, I have been knee deep in the trenches of motherhood. I have been pregnant and/or nursing for most of that time, which means that my body is a perpetual reminder that I am a mother. The stretch marks, the loose skin, and the leaky breasts are indelible tethers to my role.

The dark circles, that have permanently taken residence under my eyes, and the haphazardly braided (unwashed) hair, that now comprise my daily uniform, serve as further reminders.

 No. On Mother's Day, I don't need any reminders of my role as the mother to two little boys.

I need freedom.

I need to put on a cute outfit with no fear of maple syrup or snotty noses ruining it.

I need to toss every Mickey DVD out the windows of my minivan, and peel out of the driveway with reckless abandon.

I want to crank up the radio and blast the 80's classic rock songs that I know and love.

I need to roll the windows down and let the wind wildly dance through my hair.

I want to shed the shackles of responsibility and to-do lists. I want to live as if I did not have a care in the world.

I want to explore hidden gems in my city. Places where a double stroller won't even fit through the front door. Maybe find a secret coffee house where the hippie and writer elite, rub elbows, and pen their next great novels. I want to have an actual, adult conversation with the barista or fellow patrons. I want to sip my hot chocolate and watch them all interact. I want to breathe every little bit of it in. To resuscitate and revitalize my own hopes of being a writer.

For Mother's Day, I want to remember the person I was before I had my beautiful babies.

I want to remember that I am so much more than a mom. I need to know that under this scraggly, vagabond-looking exterior, that passion and zest for life is still there.

That I'm still there.

I promise that when I have my break, I'll come back.

I'll be happy, and refreshed, and recharged.

I will be ready to take on the endless laundry, the sleepless nights, and the clingy toddlers again; with no little complaint.

For 4.5 years, I have invested  my mind, body, and soul into two beautiful, little boys. And I wouldn't change a bit of it. I adore them. They are working tirelessly to make me into a better person.
They must think I am a diamond in the rough. They have taught me to be patient, flexible, and kind to everyone. They have shown me that there is beauty to be found everywhere, I just need to look for it. They have proved to me time and again that the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is my attitude.

And I am so grateful for this journey. I just need a breather.

You guys can make me a macaroni necklace while I'm gone.
If you need me, I'll be sipping my hot chocolate at the coffee house.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"I'm Sorry I'm a Twat Sometimes...." and other things you shouldn't say in an anniversary letter

Today marks 10 years of being together with my husband. (It's not our official wedding anniversary, but we've been together for that long. Let's not argue over technicalities, alright?)

 TEN YEARS! For the love of God! Do you know how incredibly old that makes me feel?

This man....this incredibly beautiful and patient man....has put up with all my crazy for all those years. And I've put up with his.

I would be lying if I told you that since we've put in all those years, we can now kick back and enjoy the fruits of our labor. The ten year mark finds us smack dab in the middle of some of the most difficult and tumultuous years of our relationship.

I absolutely adore our babies and I not-so-humbly think we are rocking this parenting gig. However, parenting two children under 3 takes everything out of us. By the end of the day, we are both exhausted and ready to decompress. After breaking up wrestling matches between the boys, singing along with Mickey and handling the biohazardous contents of the baby's diapers all day, I have little left to give.

Seriously. There are Amazonian Sloths with more energy than I have by the end of the day.

All the marriage articles I read on facebook tell me I have it all wrong. That I simply need to put my husband first and all else will fall into place. I try to do this. I really do. But its so hard to give my husband my undivided attention. My children are perpetually screaming at my feet or eerily quiet in another room..working on some sort of disastrous masterpiece

"What about date nights," you ask? Date nights have become as fantastical an idea as flying unicorns and calorie-free chocolate. We've had a crap-ton of sitters just up and quit on us, because our boys are too much for them to handle. (Pansies!)

Anyways, this never-ending parenting shift makes me a little kookoo sometimes and I lash out at the only other adult around. My husband always lets my moodiness and exhaustion roll right off his back. He swoops in and hugs me and is always doing his best to lighten my load.

Love changes over the years, I think.

We may not be in a part of our relationship where candle lit dinners and long walks on the beach abound, but that tiny flame that started it all, ten years ago, is still there; bright as ever.

So after ten years of being together, I want to say to you, dear husband, I'm sorry I'm a twat sometimes. (You really should talk to the fruits of your loins...as they drive me to the brink of sanity on a daily basis.) But for real, thanks for putting up with my crazy for so many years. With each passing day, I love you a little more than I did before. I wouldn't want to be in these proverbial parenting trenches with anyone else.

Thunder Buddies For Life.

Your Loving Wife

Friday, January 23, 2015

New Year, New You: Roots Raw Juice Review

I start out most years, much like the rest of you, with promises and resolutions of grandeur. Of course, I always set my bar far too high and my initial motivation inevitably fizzles. Usually this means I swear off all carbs and my husband finds me binge eating ho-hos on the floor of the bedroom closet.

Not a great look for me.

So this year is different. I've vowed to make some small, gradual changes to improve my overall health and well-being. Not just to look banging in a bikini, but to feel better too.

Enter our local, up and coming Raw Juice Bar: Roots.
A girlfriend of mine told me about the place and I was initially very hesitant. I'm not a big veggie person and the juices and smoothies are, of course, fruit and vegetable based. No dairy. No water. No sugar. That did not sound very appetizing to me at all. However, being the ever adventurous type, I decided to give them a try anyway.
If I hadn't sat and watched the woman make my juice, with my own two eyes, I would have never have believed that  there was no added sugar. It was delicious!! Literally just fruits and veggies. Nothing else. And it was AWESOME! Even my notoriously picky, little boys loved it!
I also had way more energy for the rest of the day. My body does not tolerate caffeine well, so any natural pick-me-up this tired mama can get, is well received!
The juices are made to order and the owner makes them right in front of you with local, organic produce. However, she has also recently incorporated a juicing cleanse into her product line. There are a few different durations: 1, 3, or 5 days. For the cleanses, she pre-bottles the juices for easier pickup. The cleanses are an excellent way to reboot, recharge, and detoxify your body. Juicing cleanses aid in weight loss, and increase energy and general well-being by supercharging your body with superior and easily digestible nutrients.  The ingredients can also be tailored to your specific nutritional needs and/or goals.

So I've now replaced my ho-ho problem, with a juice addiction, but I'm calling that definite progress! Be sure to stop by and visit Jennifer, the owner, and help support local business. My favorite is the Sunburst but you can't go wrong with any of them. :)