AquaTots is Coming to Indianapolis...

And here’s why you’ll love them!

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You know that feeling when you meet someone and just click? That’s how I felt walking into AquaTots – or rather the building that will soon be home to the newest swim school facility in greater Indianapolis.

Right as I opened the door, two bright, smiling faces greeted me. They said hello. They were juggling a toddler on one hip and a sleeping baby in a stroller, but didn’t miss a beat in welcoming me to what will soon house a large, 4.5-foot deep, all-inclusive swim school ‘experience.’  

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Let The (Bargain) Shopping Begin at Just Between Friends

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Remember before you had kids (difficult, I know) and you said silly things like “I will only dress my children in clothes from Gap Kids”, or when you had only one child and said “No thanks” to hand-me-downs because you liked buying new clothes for your precious little angel? Just me? Oh, how I like to laugh at that young, clueless version of myself.

 

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Cream Cheese Monkey Bread: Recipe of the Week

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Cream Cheese Monkey Bread

{pipandebby.com}

With Easter just around the corner, I thought it would be a perfect time to share one of my fave sweet treats that could be served for breakfast or late brunch … because there isn’t enough CANDY hanging around the house, right? HAHA

Monkey bread with a gooey surprise hidden inside? Yes, please. And by taking a shortcut with refrigerated dough, you’ll be hoppin’ through this delish recipe in no time, so you can enjoy this yummy goodness that will have your entire kitchen smelling amazeballs!

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40 Bags in 40 Days

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So it's lent.  A time of where you sacrifice something that you normally love (and yes I know there’s more to lent than this). I decided to try a different approach this year, mostly because I typically forget to not eat meat on Fridays and usually I'm not able to actually follow through with the 40 days of giving something up. So when I saw this Lenten challenge on Facebook, I decided I was in. Bring it on 40 bags in 40 days!  #40bagsin40days

 

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Indian Chicken Lettuce Wraps: Recipe of the Week

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Indian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Sometimes I want an easy lunch with a bit of a bite.  These lettuce wraps are great because I add a little siracha directly to my portion and the kids get the normal spiced version.  Even better, these have my kids reaching for the lettuce and fighting over who gets the largest leaf.

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Hummus: Recipe of the Week

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As life gets busy, I start craving something filling, healthy, and easy to make.  In the spirit of cultural discovery, I joined a Lebanese recipe and cooking group to learn more about my boyfriend and kids’ culture.  We made Lebanese bread and needed something to eat with it.  What better than hummus?

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Ask Amanda: A Balanced Mindset

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Q) Your idea to declutter our plates totally speaks to me! I overflow my plate and I barely juggle it! But, my main problem is that I consider all my To Dos as being Have Tos. It’s easy to clean my plate and take things off, but then I keep looking at all the things that aren’t getting done, and I get stressed out. What can I do to be okay with taking them off?

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The Midwest Outdoor Expo Is Now Open!

We came thru the South Entrance at Lucas Oil Stadium last night and… it was quiet. The lights were dimmed. Not the bustling activity we’re used to from weekends past during Colts games but vendors quietly coming in and out with trolleys, boxes and signs in tow.

And then we went up the ramp into the heart of the stadium and found it - the Midwest Outdoor Expo – with rows of RVs and boats, a tiny homes village, a rock wall and more. 

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Homemade Granola: Recipe of the Week

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Homemade Granola

A couple of years ago, I stopped buying processed foods. Since then I have often missed cereal. So, when I get a craving for something crunchy with a bit of milk, I make granola. It’s easy to make and has so many possibilities. This version was born of my daughter’s newest love from Costco – Kirkland brand Organic Nuts and Fruit mix. It has almonds, cashews, dried blueberries and cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. While I whipped up this batch on Saturday, my daughter did some experimenting of her own. Homemade Ritz crackers with cheese and peanut butter. I will not be blogging about that one, but she swore it was delicious.

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The Ninjas Are In The Building (literally)

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Are your kids obsessed with American Ninja Warrior? Do you find them taking precarious leaps off of your sofa, rearranging their bedroom furniture into an obstacle course, defying gravity on the monkey bars?

Mine, too.

And if you have had just about enough of your house doubling as a training arena, consider yourself lucky to be a just a short drive from a state-of-the-art, first of its kind The NinjaZone Academy. Because the ninjas are now quite literally in a building.

 

 

 

 

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At Long Last: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Arrives in Theaters

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Tale as old as time… true as it may be. Barely even friends, then somebody bends. Unnnnnnexpectedly.”

So, is the title track for Beauty and the Beast now in your head? GOOD. Because it’s been stuck in mine all week and now I can finally let it out.

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Play Time for Cats

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Do you play with your cat? All species of animals, including humans, play. Play behavior is crucial for normal development and for overall health and well-being for our pets. There are a lot of reasons that it is important to play with your cats, particularly if they are staying indoors. 

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Easy Breakfast Casserole: Recipe of the Week

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Easy Breakfast Casserole with Sausage, Hash Browns, and Eggs

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How is it mid-March already? Seriously. St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. I love Irish fare, but it’s often labor intensive to prepare so I let someone else {my mom or a fave restaurant} prepare it for me! HAHA My first thought for this post was “Bangers and Colcannon” {sausage and mashed potatoes} … but with a twist! How many of us overindulge with our food choices and adult beverage intake? “You gotta have green beer on St. Pat’s Day!” I don’t know about you, but I love a comforting breakfast after a night of imbibing. This easy sausage, egg and hash brown casserole is simple to make, and always a crowd-pleaser! It can be made the night before and baked the next day for breakfast.

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CityMom Approved: Thinx

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Thinx. What?

Thinx….period-proof underwear that protects you from leaks and keeps you feeling dry. That is what their website says anyways. I was definitely intrigued because my flow changed after having kids and I was looking for another option. I also thought that the two sisters Miki and Radha Agrawai along with Antonia Dunbar, who created Thinx were pretty cool for having a mission to “provide girls worldwide with safe spaces to learn about their bodies, enhance their financial literacy and explore their entrepreneurial potential, while changing the global narrative around menstruation.” 

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Ask Amanda: How To Tell If Your Marriage Is On Track

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Some days I worry that my husband and I are headed for a divorce. We argue and disagree on a lot of stuff. I worry that we’re growing apart and that when the kids are gone, there won’t be anything left between us. How can I tell if things are okay?

 

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Chicken Strips: Recipe of the Week

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Chicken Strips

Nothing hits the spot quite like comfort food. We had some leftover cheesy potatoes, whipped up some sauteed green beans with mushrooms, AND the store had a great sale on boneless chicken tenders.  Voila, fried chicken strips that satisfied every family member!

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Butternut Squash Soup: Recipe of the Week

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Butternut Squash Soup

I try to pack my lunches most days. In the summer, that usually means salad. In the winter, soup. It may not feel like winter, but I have definitely been on a soup kick. This is one of my all-time favorites. My husband refuses to eat any kind of soup, but thankfully my daughter will scarf it right down.

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Circus Starring YOU

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Circus Starring YOU...now open at The Children's Museum!

It's easy to forget how amazing our local Children's Museum is. We take for granted the permanent exhibits, the new experiences, and the events they host.

But as someone who travels across the country with her kids and visits museums geared toward kids often, I can say without a doubt we're spoiled by The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

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How To Raise Kids Who Love to Read

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I get asked a lot how to get kids to read. Friends with kids, blog readers, students’ parents, random people on social media–everyone wants to know how to help their kids fall in love with reading.

The answer to that is really simple and really difficult.

 

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What's In The Cards?

As I sit in contemplation, I wonder what the rest of February has in store.  I decided to seek intuitive guidance and see what the oracle cards say for this Valentine’s Day and the rest of February.

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Valentine's Craft and FREE Printables

I don’t know about you, but I’m a procrastinator.  I swear I can't do anything too far ahead of time and I'm honestly not sure why because I know it saves me time in the end, sometimes it saves me money, and it obviously saves my sanity… but making sure things are done ahead of time just doesn’t seem to work for me these days.  

So I’m here to save those of you who are procrastinators too!  

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Salted Caramel Sundae with Peanuts: Recipe of the Week

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Salted Caramel Sundae with Peanuts {Michael Symon}

Love is in the air and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. If you’re a procrastinator like me, you didn’t think ahead to make those special dinner reservations 2 – 3 weeks ago at the newest trendy spot. No worries! I’ve got a simple, elegant dessert that’s sure to satisfy the greatest flavor combination there is – sweet and salty! The roasted nuts in this recipe add yet another salty, crunchy layer to an already addictive flavor combo.

 

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Pork Egg Roll In A Bowl: Recipe of the Week

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I try to mix things up a little for the family.  I don’t follow the paleo diet, but I kept hearing people talk about “crack slaw” and was intrigued.  This recipe is based on a crack slaw recipe.  It struck me as a neat idea, although my family was skeptical. My husband was pretty sure that the best part of the egg roll had to be the crunchy wrapper, but I thought otherwise and the family inhaled this one (no leftovers).

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Ask Amanda's Resolutions for 2017

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Last month, I answered a question from a frustrated mom on how to set resolutions that she can stick with. Last year, she didn’t even make it past February before she gave up.

I assured her that she isn't alone, with less than half of adults achieving some success with their resolutions.

I advised her to use my four SIMPLE steps to nail her 2017 Resolutions. Read the full Ask Amanda article HERE.

Today, I thought I would share how I used those same four SIMPLE steps to create my own resolutions for 2017.

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Garlic Green Beans: Recipe of the Week

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Garlic Green Beans

In the celebration of Chinese New Year, one of my favorite veggie dishes is garlic green beans. Growing up, my uncle would make green beans for Thanksgiving,and they are amazing!  There is always room for green beans. My uncle shared with me how to make these crisp green beans, and they are a hit every time I make them.

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Why I Chose to Get Bariatric Surgery

I’d like to begin at the very end of the beginning.  On December 28, 2016, I traveled with my husband to Tijuana, Mexico and underwent bariatric surgery.  The procedure I chose was the Vertical Gastric Sleeve.  It is an endoscopic procedure in which 80% of the stomach is cut away, leaving a long thin sleeve in it’s place.  The purpose of the surgery is to cause restriction and limit the amount of food one can consume.  There are also other benefits, that are largely unexplained, like a loss of hunger, and a change to tastebuds (which favors nutritious foods and makes sweets less palatable).

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A Social Experiment: No New Clothes

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Remember this girl? Okay, so maybe I’ve never shopped high-end designers or driven a luxury car, but I can relate to Cher in so many ways. Trapped in a car while a supposed friend tries to shove his tongue down my throat? Yep. Fallen for a man who turned out to be gay? Oh, yes. (Too many times to count). Dated my stepbrother? Erm, no. Have one, but eww. 

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Pork Two Ways: Recipe of the Week

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Recipe of the Week: Pork Two Ways – Pulled Pork and Posole

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Anyone else just take their Christmas tree down? Guilty here. #sorrynotsorry I’m still adjusting from December’s work commitments, extra social events, and attempting weekly to keep up with having at least ONE bin of clean, folded, and put away load of laundry! And, trying to stay on budget after the extra holiday spending is a plus, too! Our family tries to eat healthy “most” of the time. One of the biggest complaints I hear from my fitness clients is, “It’s too expensive to eat healthy.” I wanted to give you a helpful tip to save on time and cost when meal planning – try to use the same ingredients in multiple ways to keep it economical AND interesting throughout the week.

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Lessons From My Son

Becoming a parent has been the most life altering event I have experienced so far. When I look at my little boy I feel like my heart is literally walking outside of my body. There have been countless moments where I sit and watch him in amazement as he grows and changes at a whirlwind pace. I remember sitting on the sofa watching him play in our living room the other day. He was stacking his blocks and building a tower. He accidentally knocked his tower over with his foot and I heard him say “uh oh spaghetti-o”. I had this brief moment of clarity where I felt so proud of him for making light of what could have been very frustrating combined with the realization that as adults, we are way too hard on ourselves. In that moment, I felt that there were a lot of life lessons I am continually learning from my son has he grows up.

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Binge Worthy Shows

I found a new obsession.  Binging.  Binging on shows!  It happened while I was on maternity leave.  I would put on a show when I was nursing, and I soon became addicted to this “me” time.  But let’s be honest, when you are a working mother of 2 there isn’t usually a lot of time to dedicate to watching your favorite shows, let alone new ones!  

So thanks to Miss Olive, I found a new few binge-worthy shows worth checking out! Here’s my top 5 to get your started:

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Spicy Black Bean Dip: Recipe of the Week

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Spicy Black Bean Dip

My mother gave me a new cookbook for Christmas called Clean Start: 100 Recipes to Inspire You to Eat Clean and Live Well by Terry Walters. Technically, it wasn’t really new; she bought it for herself and then realized exactly what Terry meant by “Clean” and never used it. All of the recipes are vegan or close to it, and generally gluten-free. It’s organized by season in order to maximize use of in-season ingredients. I think it is a lovely cookbook, and I have used several recipes already. This recipe for Spicy Black Bean Dip is in the “Spring” section but could be used any time of year. As Terry says, it can be served with chips or veggies for dipping, or inside tacos, quesadillas, etc. 

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Spiced Pecans: Recipe of the Week

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Shhhh… I have a secret!  

The holidays may be over, but there is no reason not to enjoy these delicious spiced pecans year round. You may be asking why this is a secret, it’s because of my husband.  Aaron loves these pecans.  During the first holiday Costco run of the season, Aaron proudly presents me with three 2 lb bags of pecans and an adorable smile.These pecans are an indulgence, and if I made them for Aaron year round, he might put on an extra hundred pounds.  In short, Aaron knows these as our spiced Christmas nuts, the rest of you now know the truth.

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Be More. Have Less.

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On the eve of Christmas Eve, at a time when my home was full of people, food, and stuff-more stuff than the eye could see-my husband and I were enjoying a brief respite from the typical chaos of life with three young children and browsing through Netflix. We enjoy watching documentaries, but we rarely get the time to find new ones these days. He selected a film entitled “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”. I was, as always, doing many things at once, trying to maximize my productivity during nap time, so I was only partially watching at first. By the end of the documentary, I was a captive audience. How ironic that we saw this film at a time of such abundance, both seasonally and in our particular stage of life.

 

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Happy New Year!

2016 has been...interesting, to say the very least. I'm not sure about you, but I'm ready to wrap up this chapter and welcome 2017. 

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Me Time During the Holidays

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If your calendar is anything like mine, the month of December is full of fun festivities. But as a mom, I know who will be racing around organizing, planning and transporting kids to all of these activities and, frankly, it just makes me want to lie down and take a big ole nap!

It’s important as the holidays get underway to remember to make a little “me time” for yourself every day. Some of you may be laughing at me right now thinking “yeah, right, every day!?” But I assure you even taking 10 minutes to yourself can help recharge those batteries so you can dart out the door to the next fun thing you have planned.

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Melting Moments: Recipe of the Week

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Fave Cookie for the Holidays – Melting Moments 

When I think of the holidays I have fond memories of baking cookies with my Mom. We would take over the kitchen counters every Christmas with pounds of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour --- baking a huge assortment of our favorite cookies. Being in a family with six children, everyone had a different “favorite” cookie. Mine were Melting Moments. These cookies are very delicate and “melt” in your mouth as the name implies. The secret to the melting, delicate flavor is in sifting your ingredients to achieve a silky texture. 

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Ask Amanda: New Year's Resolutions

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Q) How do you make a resolution you can actually stick with? Last year, I didn't even make it to February before giving up. I really need to make a change this year, but don't know how to get started.

With only 8% of the population actually succeeding in achieving their resolutions, you're definitely not alone in your struggles. Over half of the population does make it past the month mark with their resolutions, so there's hope for you yet!

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Watergate Cake: Recipe of the Week

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Favorite Holiday Dessert, Watergate Cake

Have you ever heard of Watergate cake? To those who were baking (or eating) age in the 1970s, this pistachio-pudding-mix-packed cake may sound familiar. Why call it Watergate? Turns out, it was the product of fortuitous timing. The late 1960s and early 70s was an era during which cakes made with pudding mix reigned. Who knew? Not me, until I did a little research. Try googling “Better than Sex Cake” or “Sock It to Me Cake”; they’re not as dramatic as they sound, but are known to be quite tasty.

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#WCW: Camille Blunt

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This month’s #WCW is Legislative Director for the Office of the Mayor. Camille Blunt caught our attention for being named one of the 40 Under 40 by the IBJ in 2016.

Blunt joined the new administration of Mayor Joe Hogsett in January after working 14 years at Bose Public Affairs Group, where she left as the second vice president specializing in lobbying for education and health care clients, including the Indiana Urban Schools Association. A member of the Indianapolis Public Library board, Blunt now oversees the city’s relations with the Legislature.

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Win Tickets to The Nutcracker!

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Last year I started on the hunt for a great kid friendly Nutcracker performance... I know ballet is not for everyone, but I feel like The Nutcracker is!  A great holiday tradition for you and your littles to enjoy!  

Every year when I was younger my Grandma, a dancer herself, would take us to the Fort Wayne Ballet's presentation. It was always magical. We'd get dressed up in our Sunday Best which included party dresses and patent leather shoes, and we would go soak up the music, the tiny ballerinas dancing on air, Clara running from the Mouse King with the Nutcracker Prince, and of course her whimsical journey to the Kingdom of Sweets. I remember sitting in the seats at the Arts United Center where you would enter from the sides, and the doors would all close at the same time and you were transported to a magical realm filled with fairies, snow, and dancing of course!
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Sriracha Brussels Sprouts with Cashews and Garlic: Recipe of the Week

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While many people approaching this time of year may be inclined to indulge, I have resolved to eat clean, drink less alcohol, and exercise even more. Mainly because I have overindulged in general for about 11 months, and I am starting to see and feel the impact on my waistline. If you are like me, you might enjoy this post. 

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Surviving Your Relatives: Ask Amanda Holiday Edition

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Q) I love the holidays, but really dread having to be around some of my in-laws and other family. We look forward to being with most of our family, but others not so much. How do I enjoy the holidays and keep them from getting under my skin?

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Your Pet's Christmas Wish List

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As a kid, I remember every year about this time making my Christmas list and waiting so excitedly for Santa to come on Christmas Eve. Now as a parent, it is still just as exciting (if not more) to play Santa. Last year was Jack’s first Christmas, which we spent away from home in Texas, so the dogs and cats didn’t really get any Christmas love. This year, I am taking the opportunity to restock a lot of the toys. In general, here are the types of toys I like:

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Mediterranean Turkey Breast: Recipe of the Week

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Mediterranean Turkey Breast
I love Thanksgiving, I love cooking, I do not love cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  As the head chef of a pescaterian household, I rarely cook poultry or meat, other than a bbq or two in the summer.  So the notoriously difficult to cook Turkey has always been a challenge.  How to make the skin crisp while keeping the white meat moist and making sure the dark meat is cooked through?  A couple of years ago I hit upon a crock pot recipe that has saved my hide.
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Joli's Dream Thanksgiving: Recipe of the Week

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I have always dreamed of having one of those big New England homes you see in movies, surrounded in snow and festooned in classy holiday decorations. I long for one of those dining room tables that seats an absurd number of people, so I can cook an elaborate meal for extended family. Alas, I have neither, and even if I did, my dream still would never happen. My own family is spread far and wide. My husband is the youngest of three, and his siblings have oodles of children, but they are a lost cause. Everyone lives in Indiana, so we do still sometimes get together for the holidays. We are, in fact, gathering for Thanksgiving tomorrow, if you can call 20+ people eating pizza in four different rooms gathering for Thanksgiving.

No one on my husband’s side can cook particularly well, so I guess I am thankful I won’t have to swallow dry turkey and bland mashed potatoes. On Thanksgiving Day, my RN husband has to work, so my daughter and I will be hanging out with a friend, and our menu isn’t set yet. So, this blog post is an ode to some of my favorite classic, holiday-worthy recipes. My husband hates turkey, so if I were cooking, it would probably be a ham, or maybe a standing rib roast, but I will save those for another blog. (You may quickly notice I once had a love affair with Epicurious).

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What I Wish I Knew About Making Mom Friends

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Female friendships are some of the hardest relationships I’ve ever had to endure in my life, but they’ve also ultimately been some of the best. It’s always been important to me to have a strong group of female friends, but that doesn’t make these friendships easy to maintain. Emotions run high amongst ladies. Then feelings get hurt and drama ensues.  It’s just part of our DNA, apparently. I really thought as I got older and wiser, female friendships would mature especially once I had children. It’s not always the case. 

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Pumpkin Fluff: Recipe of the Week

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Pumpkin Fluff 

We were recently at Kroger and had a sample that made the kids and I so happy. This is wonderful for Thanksgiving as a dessert or sweet snack. I wish I got a picture before it was all gone. 

Recipe from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/24740/pumpkin-fluff-dip/)

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Turkey Day Workout

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No turkey trot this year due to lots of cooking and preparations for the yummiest holiday of the year? We’ve come up with some fun yet challenging exercises you “CAN” do to rev up your metabolism before one of the highest calorie days of the year! 

Go to your pantry and grab 2 cans of food, as this is all the equipment you will require for this great little Thanksgiving Day workout!

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Not Because They Are Easy...

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Dear Benjamin,

You will be born tomorrow. It is a very surreal experience for me knowing that after almost ten months living inside me you will be making your grand debut in less than 24 hours. Don’t get me wrong, I am ready to meet you, to hold you, to bring you into our family, but I am also scared. And not just for the cliche and predictable reasons like the fear of the physical pain of birthing you or the anxieties about my capacity as a mother or the chaos of living in a home where the adults are outnumbered by the children. No, I am scared because you are being born into a scary world.
This is not a story about politics, though. This is ultimately a story of hope and a deliberate effort to seek out the good in the midst of so much pain and hate. That is my promise to you and your siblings, to always look for the good.

 

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Dorothy's Thanksgiving: Recipe of the Week

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It's November. Halloween has come and gone. The “busyness” of the holiday season has officially begun. Retail stores are boldly displaying Christmas decorations and Black Friday Deals; people have tagged their trees for pick-up in December; and everyone’s family calendars are sure to be overbooked with holiday social events, but FIRST … Thanksgiving! Personally, I love Thanksgiving --- not because I allow myself to indulge a little bit on my nutrition, but because it’s a time that I get to share with those I love the most, without any expectations. It's simply a time to just be truly THANKFUL. Who's excited? Anyone anxious about how they are going to avoid putting on the “Freshman 15” (or more!?!) over the next few months? We can all relate, right?!

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#WCW: Angela Ganote

wcw.pngShe grew up in an Indiana town … Fox59’s Angela Ganote grew up in Brownsburg before heading to Bloomington for college. The IU graduate has worked at WLFI in Lafayette, WSBT in South Bend, and WCMH in Columbus, Ohio. This busy mom is our #WCW because she’s got a great attitude about work and family life – especially working those early morning hours on Fox59’s Morning News beginning at 4 a.m!

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Modern Boho Nursery

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The night before my second daughter Olive decided to make her debut I was finally finished.  The nursery that had taken me 6+ months to finish, mostly because I’m too picky, was finished enough.  And by enough, I mean enough that I hopefully won’t change anything anytime soon. I need a break.

I scoured the internet for the perfect rocker, only to find it in Cincinnati and then get outbid.  I scoured the internet for the perfect rug, only to find it and then go to buy it and be too late, and then it was no longer available.  I scoured the internet for the perfect sheets, only to get them and instead of being pink, they were peach.  This was the story of Olive’s nursery.

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Make Ahead Lasagna Rolls: Recipe of the Week

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Make Ahead Lasagna Rolls from Betty Crocker

“First we eat, then we do everything else.” -M.F.K. Fisher

“...The people who give you their food give you their heart.” -Cesar Chavez

Food is a love currency. When someone is suffering, we bring food. When someone is celebrating, we bring food. When we gather together, we eat. Maybe we hope that when we feed someone literally we are also nourishing them spiritually.

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DIY Halloween

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Halloween is a big deal at our house.  Usually we have a pretty good display, not to toot our own horns.  We scare adults and children both.  Sometimes kids won’t come to the door because we have too much scary going on.  Here’s part of our display from past years:

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Ask Amanda: Mom Guilt

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How do I stop feeling so guilty about taking time for myself? I just went back to work after staying home with my youngest. And I also want to start working out again, but I feel so guilty about leaving! I want to be able to enjoy my time away and focus on work and getting healthy.  How do I stop feeling so selfish and guilty?????

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Cheesy Beef and Pepper Pasta Bake

Cheesy Beef and Pepper Pasta Bake  Serves 8-10  Ingredients:  ¼ cup of butter ½ large onion, diced 2 bell peppers, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tsp. salt 2 tsp. pepper

So, I actually made and photographed four different recipes, thinking each might serve as my blog post for this month. They were all tasty, but I wasn’t satisfied that the photographs made them look tasty enough. Plus our theme for the month is supposed to be tailgate food. I have never been tailgating, at least not for football. I don’t know if this qualifies as tailgating food, but it would be good for a game time potluck. 

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Holidays With Our Furry Friends

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I start out this post thinking of the many, many things that can be a hazard to our furry family members around the holidays. I made a list of the common (turkey anyone?) and uncommon risks to our pets during the holidays (seriously why would anyone swallow an entire strand of Christmas lights!). I ended up with a rather grumpy list of things not to do that put a bit of a damper on my holiday spirit (where is fall anyway??).
So, I decided to head back to the drawing board. I love the holidays. It is a wonderful time with family and friends and of course our pets also. There are many things you can and should do with your pet that are fun and will help keep everyone safe during the holidays.

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Are You Inadvertently Judging Your Friends?

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Being the self-proclaimed Queen of Words, I spend a lot of time thinking about words, the way they are used and what they mean.

 

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Mom of the Month: Christi

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Meet Christi Amos of Mooresville. Mom to Justin, 10, and Cody, 7. Christi took some time out of her very busy schedule to answer a few questions about her kids, her life, and her guilty pleasure!

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Me Time in the Midst of a Busy Season

I get it, we’re all busy.

While I would love to have a less-full calendar, and I love the idea that we stop glorifying busy, it also doesn’t mean things can slow down for some of us right now. (I’m ten weeks into the school year at this point and still trying to get new routines and rhythms established right now–it is the most hectic time of year for me and you too, if you have school-aged kids.)

 

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Pumpkin Curry: Recipe of the Week

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Pumpkin Curry

I grew up eating curry.  I have to admit my mom’s chicken curry is divine!  I’ve actually cried when I fell and dropped my plate of curry.  I went to an amazing Thai restaurant and they cooked with so much love it made me think of my mom.  With it being fall, here is a hearty and seasonally inspired curry guaranteed to warm your bellies and hearts.

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The Great Pumpkin Workout from Baby Boot Camp

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October is here, which means everywhere you look you are seeing pumpkin...pumpkin lattes, cookies, cakes, candies, pies...anything and everything is now with pumpkin! So we thought with all the extra calories we might be consuming this month due to pumpkins it would be fun to turn one into our workout equipment! Your little ones can join along in the fun and help you decorate after you are finished with the workout, or you can get a little one for them so they can do a pumpkin workout as well! 

Here are some of our absolute favorite workouts to do with our pumpkins!

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To Homeschool or Not To Homeschool: The Blundering Thoughts of an Average Mom

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I am not one of those highly confident mothers.  There are those mothers who believe firmly that they know what's best for their kids, and they will loudly proclaim that fact even while putting their 12 year old to bed with a baby bottle full of Mountain Dew.  I wish I had that level of confidence.  But sadly, I’m hyper aware that I'm just winging it. This might come as a surprise, since I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 80,000 children.  But honestly, every one of those buggers came to be by blatant inaction more than conscious decision making.  So, when I began to consider homeschooling seriously, most of my thoughts revolved around the fact that, although I felt that it was the best option for my kids, it made far too much of a statement for me.  

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Freeze Ahead Meals-Chicken 4 Ways: Recipe of the Week

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Recipe of the Week: Freeze-Ahead Meals – Chicken 4 Ways

It’s officially Fall! The leaves are changing, the cooler weather is on its way, and we are all in the thick of our daily school year routines with the kiddos. If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to keep your head above water while simultaneously trying to get the household chores done, pay the bills, help our littles with their homework, and remember where to be on what day for which activity. So, if you can simplify just one thing --- why not let it be dinner? The time when all of you {hopefully} can come together as a family and share a warm, home-cooked meal with minimal stress. 

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Dare you Brave The Cursed Castle?

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Oh fearless families… do you have what it takes to conquer the curse of the Castle at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis' (@TCMIndy) Haunted House? Proceed with caution, for Burnadette the Dragon guards her lair fiercely!

The Cursed Castle Haunted House is a fa”boo”lous activity for the whole family: there’s sufficient ‘scare’ for the thrill seekers among us, but it’s not going to leave your kiddos too scared to go to bed at night! 

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Dressing for Family Portraits

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Autumn is a busy season for family photographers, and it’s easy to see why. The fall colors make such a lovely backdrop for a family portrait. Plus, the cooler temperatures mean no sweating through your session. Also, you can add layers to your outfits and craft a fun, complementary look for your whole family.

If you are anything like me, you stress about selecting outfits for your family portrait. I’m here to give you a few simple rules to follow that will hopefully make the process a little simpler. 

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#WCW: Nina Criscuolo

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Any momma-to-be who has had her pregnancy announced by a third party can totally relate to this week’s #WCW! However, … most don’t have their news broadcast on live TV! Meet Nina Criscuolo,a reporter for WISH-TV since April 2014. This Midwestern gal grew up in Michigan, traveled the country as her career progressed, and finally found herself in Avon. 

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Ricotta Toast: Recipe of the Week

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Ricotta Toast
I had planned on sharing my delicious easy banana bread this week, but my husband threw out my bananas.  I’d like to say something pithy here but…
Instead I bring you a delicious trendy treat, toast. 
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Mom of the Month: Desta


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Meet Desta Ntamere, September's Mom of the Month. Mother to three boys, owner of Ntamere Lifestyle Management, LLC,  and overall amazing woman! She took some time out of her very busy schedule to answer some questions for us.

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Ask Amanda: Finding Balance

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Our lives are so busy and we rarely eat at home. I know we need a better routine, but I can't seem to stay on top of it all. How do I stay organized so I can balance everything that's going on?

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9 Things I Want My Daughter to Know

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Image by Raw Sugar Photography

 

Dear sweet girl … the first time you were laid into my arms, my heart melted. It was right then and there I knew it was my job to protect you and raise you with the proper tools to go out into the world and conquer it. I hope along the way, despite the mistakes and unintentional ways I may not have always been the mother I dreamed I would be, I have instilled confidence, values and beliefs that will guide you through this world.

 

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Essential Pet Behaviors

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Ah, the dream of a well-trained dog. I am sure when we adopted Rusty and Torchy we had visions of how they would be well-mannered and perfectly trained dogs. After 7 years, one DVM degree, and one in-progress trainer certification, plus a lot of studying from the best of the best in dog training and behavior, my dogs are still a work in progress, and so am I. Here is the moment when those of you with slightly crazy dogs (I mean that in the most loving way) breathe a sigh of relief because even the vet with a passion for behavior is still learning. And those of you with easy going dogs are thinking, “Seriously what is so hard? They practically train themselves!” (and the rest of us hate you just a bit). 

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"Little Sandwiches": Recipe of the Week

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"Little Sandwiches"

I think every mom has their signature “mom” meals. You know, recipes you do well and make so often your kids will forever remember you by them. One of my own mother’s “mom” meals has become a tradition for my own family and is a fall comfort food for me. 

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Fall Into Fitness

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The temperatures are cooling, kids are back to school, football has started, the sun is setting earlier...fall is fast approaching! With the start of fall comes hectic & busy schedules between dropping kids off at school, activities, work, appointments, cooking, cleaning and all the other fun daily tasks. These normal daily activities make it sometimes impossible to take time for yourself and fit in a workout. Baby Boot Camp would like to tell you 10 ways to successfully turn your workout into a habit this fall!  These are 10 simple little things you can change or do in your daily routine, which will help getting that workout in a little easier.

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#WCW: Julia Moffitt

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Meet Julia Moffitt, this week’s #WomanCrushWednesday! TheCityMoms of Greater Indianapolis will be sharing stories from some of the fabulous moms in our community on a weekly basis, and Julia is honored to be our first #WCW.

Julia co-anchors the WTHR Sunrise morning show from 4-9 a.m. She is a wife and mother to two kids. She chatted with us recently about what it’s like for her being a mom.

 

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Why I Always Do The Food Drive

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My daughter’s school kicked off their annual food drive this week. As we head into fall, more schools begin their food drive competitions just like they did when we were kids.

Speaking of food drives from childhood, my guilt about an elementary school food drive requires me to participate in all school-related food drives for the rest of my life.

Let me explain.

 

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Chicken Soup: Recipe of the Week

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Chicken Soup

 

Growing up, there was always soup to end our dinner.  Whether you are needing more energy, feeling sick, or postpartum healing, soup was on the menu.  It is so easy throwing together a medley of vegetables and  protein.  I am going to share an easy soup that is wonderful anytime and nourishing for the mind and body.

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Fall Fashion

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The kids are in school, pumpkin spice lattes are back and fall is right around the corner! Fall fashion is my absolute favorite as there are so many great opportunities to layer your wardrobe. I have so much fun in the fall, mixing and matching in my closet…throwing on a cozy cardigan, laying a pattered blouse under a sweater, or topping off my outfit with a chunky plaid scarf.  

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Calling All Scientists

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As the owner of a ‘creative’ rather than ‘mathematical/logical’ brain, I was always quite overwhelmed by the information thrown at us during high school science classes. However, I doubt even my 14-year-old self would be baffled by the newly revamped Scienceworks at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis (#atTCM). Indeed, it could well transform me into a 40-something science nerd!

A sign adorning the wall of the new exhibit quotes Einstein: “The important thing is to never stop questioning.” It couldn't be more apt, as the exhibit will doubtlessly have every visitor through the door brimming with curiosity and a thirst for learning. It’s like an oasis of knowledge, all clearly laid out and ripe for the taking.

 

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DIY Wood Bead Garland

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I’m feeling nested lately.  

I am due with The Other Girl in about 30 days… and scared shitless of course!  Even though it’s baby #2, the fears do not go away. And neither does the feeling of needing to get the house in order!  I really mean my house is never in order, so this a great excuse to get the hubby on board with cleaning and ridding and finishing up projects!  

Fortunately for him, the nursery is a project all my own.  I don’t know if people just “reuse” the items they’ve had in their previous nurseries or if they start from scratch on all of them.  It’s only my 2nd… not sure… But I do love designing things and rearranging so I’m starting over on the other girl's room.  And I’m not one to buy a set so usually my pieces come from everywhere.

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Egg Muffins: Recipe of the Week

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 Recipe of the Week: Egg Muffins: {adapted from www.recipegirl.com}

Now that school is back in full swing, I'm seeing a lot of peeps asking about meal planning, prepping, etc. So, I've got a great healthy option for brekkies on-the-go {and it's not my beloved Shakeology®} that you can make ahead of time! As they say, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day, right? Also, I’ve made a YouTube tutorial video link with the recipe included. 

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Baby Rave at The Urban Chalkboard

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Glow sticks, disco ball, music, bouncing babies, and dancing toddlers. Yes, it's as cute as it sounds. The Baby Rave at The Urban Chalkboard is a sensory overload and a fantastically fun experience for kids of all ages, zero to 100.

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Slow Cooker Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers: Recipe of the Week

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Slow Cooker Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Sometimes life gets hectic.  Well, life is always hectic with kids.  So let’s just say, sometimes chaos gains more ground than I am comfortable with.  When that happens, I battle back with the help of my slow cooker.  I generally have the most time in the late morning, mid-afternoon.  The older kids are off to school and the younger ones are fed and not yet trying to kill each other.  What better time to make dinner?
My slow cooker rules are minimal.  No prep other than slicing vegetables, and set it and forget it.  For some reason I was always intimidated by stuffed peppers, but honestly, this was as easy as it gets.  The recipe below yields 6 stuffed peppers, but i discovered that we really didn’t need the many.  The littles easily split a single pepper between the two of them.  Also, I chose three different colors of pepper for presentation.  This created a ridiculous amount of squabbling over food the kids were hesitant to even try.  Once they actually tried, they liked them and asked me to save the leftovers.
Ingredients:
6 bell peppers (the red are sweeter and have great color)
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 can black beans
1 can refried beans
1 8oz can of enchilada sauce (I went mild)
1 1/4 cups shredded cheese (I did Mexican blend)
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Directions:
Wash the peppers, cut the tops off, and remove seeds and ribbing. To make the stuffing: rinse quinoa and put in bowl.  Rinse and drain black beans, add to bowl.  Add refried beans, enchilada sauce and 1 cup on cheese.  Mix well.  Add 1/4 cup of water to the slow cooker.  Stuff peppers and place inside slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3.  With 10 minutes left, add the last 1/4 cup of cheese to the tops of the peppers.
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Ask Amanda: Separation Anxiety and School

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My oldest is about to start kindergarten and I'm worried about separation anxiety. He gets upset easily and has a hard time calming down. I'm worried about how he'll do all day at school.

 

It can be so hard to cope with the separation anxiety that comes with being away from our children for long periods of time. The meltdowns and clingy-ness make it even harder.

My youngest was two-and-a-half when we first had to put him in daycare. Previously he had been with my mother, which is about as good as it gets for childcare.

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Amanda and her youngest son.

Man, was it TORTURE dropping him off at the daycare. He would get a little clingy even at my parents, but nothing like this!

It didn't matter how much we hyped it up. Once we walked into that classroom, the reality would hit him and the meltdown ensued!

I literally had to peel him off of me and just walk out. Some days I could sneak out when he was distracted with a toy.

I know a lot of parents worry about how this seemingly traumatic experience might be scarring their kids for life.

Today's article will help you learn ways to better manage this anxiety and feel better about the separation.

Talk About It

Whether it's prompted by a Llama Llama book or Daniel Tiger episode, have a conversation about the transition and their feelings. It's okay if they don't seem to understand or if the talk only lasts for a few minutes.

Lay the foundation that it's okay to miss you and that you will miss them, reminding them that you will be coming back to pick them up.

List all the fun things about daycare or school. At our daycare, my youngest would get to paint and do other really messy projects that we didn't do at home.

Do Your Kid a Favor

We don't want our kids to be upset, but we aren't doing them any favors when we try to make those feelings go away for them.

You have probably heard of helicopter or lawnmower parenting, where the parents insert themselves too much into their child's life. They solve their children's problems and remove common obstacles for them.

Unfortunately, this type of parenting can cause A LOT of problems for kiddos down the road.

When children are parented in this manner, they are more likely to experience anxiety (the exact problem we think we're fixing), low self-esteem and lack of confidence, under-developed life skills (cleaning, organization, communication, relationships), and poor coping skills (low frustration tolerance, emotional dysregulation). Check out this article from Parents.com for more info.

Be the Change

Ok, so you realize you're not doing your kiddo any favors by fixing their feeling for them, but you still feel guilty and dread dropping them off.

So, how do you feel better and make everyone's life a little easier?

Change that way you think about that separation. Our anxious thoughts generate that anxious feeling.

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It does not scar him for life to be so upset when I leave.

He won't hate me forever for working instead of staying home with him. 

She will get along fine without me. 

If we change our beliefs that the separation is so horrible, then we can change the way we feel about it.

Changing our thoughts may not directly change our children's behavior, but we can model acceptance of the situation, which shows our kids that it's really no big deal to be away from us.

I reassured myself by having faith in the daycare providers' abilities. I knew they cared about my child and were capable of comforting him. Maybe they wouldn't do it exactly the way I would, but I reminded myself he was in good hands.

I asked them one time how long he cries after I leave and they said it was less than 10 minutes, typically. I would tell myself this as I walked out, almost in tears myself.

My youngest doesn't attend daycare anymore. And now when we drive by the building, he talks about his friends and has even asked a couple times if he can go play with them, again. So, that tells me he’s not scarred for life.

Thanks for taking the time,

Amanda


How do you handle separation from your kiddos? Share in the comments below!

Have a question for Ask Amanda? Click HERE.


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Mom of the Month: Amanda

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“Love and logic” is how Amanda Campbell defines her parenting style. As I sit down with her over coffee to discuss her burgeoning business, her experiences as a mother, and how she is really an introvert, it becomes apparent that she exudes this philosophy in all areas of her life.

After years of working in public mental health, Amanda opened the doors to her very own practice as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in May of 2015. Amanda has that calm but knowing demeanor you would really want in a therapist. Something about her just makes you want to talk, which is probably why I can’t help share all the quirks of my husband’s I would like her to help me fix. Every therapist loves getting hit up for free advice, right?

Amanda specializes working with moms, couples, and adults and older adolescents with anxiety. She likes to refer herself as the therapist for “worry warts and distant couples”. Amanda enjoys the freedom of being her own boss and choosing her own clients but admits that being her boss has come with a huge learning curve. In addition to the mental health component of her job, she has had to learn how to do advertising, marketing, social media, and client procurement. “Basically, everything outside of the actual therapy has been my biggest challenge,” she said. But Amanda isn’t looking back, only forward. She stays current in her field, has started a clinical consultation group, and serves as the resident expert for theCityMoms of Greater Indianapolis.

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When she isn’t fixing marriages and calming people’s worries, she is busy raising her two sons: Trajan, 7; and Parker, 4. Her husband, Ryan, is also an entrepreneur. He left a career in the healthcare industry to become a mobile personal trainer. Amanda said her family is certainly learning to sync their calendars and embracing the flexibility of two entrepreneurial parents. As a mother Amanda tries to be fair and loving at the same time. She explained that her parenting style has evolved over time, and she has learned to be more empathetic and less authoritarian. She believes that it’s important to give her children a voice. It is in moments like these where it is apparent why she is such a successful therapist.

As a family the Campbells enjoy doing crafty things, dumping all of the Legos out on the floor and having a family build, and going to the IMA and library. On her own, Amanda enjoys reading and cooking. She has been a theCityMom since January 2016 and stays active with play dates and the Mompreneur meetings. Amanda originally joined to make friends for herself and to socialize her younger son Parker. She appreciates that the group allows “other moms to put themselves out there.” She would love to see more daytime events downtown.

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And yes, even though she talks to people for a living, Amanda is a self-described introvert. It’s not that she doesn’t enjoy people, but rather she is not always comfortable in social settings. She has learned to hide it well and opening a private practice has given her a huge boost of confidence and the drive to just “plunge into it”. Thank goodness, because I have some more questions to ask her…

 

And now, what you are dying to know…

 

What five items would you bring to a desert island?

1. Coffee

2. Bag o books

3. Sunglasses

4. One of those knives that has all the other gadgets. Swiss army knife?

5. Pillow

What are you reading right now?

1. The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner

2. The Dive From Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer

What’s the weirdest thing in your purse?

I always carry a lot of napkins. I have some fruit strips and crayon packs in Altoid tins.

What is your best recent mom memory?

My son Trajan wanted to take his blanket outside. I of course didn’t want him to. He asked me, “Mom, what are you really worried about?” We talked it through, and the therapist in me was so proud of him. I loved being able to reason with him.

What is your guilty pleasure?

I play Candy Crush. It’s a nice distraction :)

 

Be sure to check out Amanda's Website www.busymomslifecoach.com

 

 

 

And stay tuned next month to see who Amanda thinks should be the September Mom of the Month!

 

 

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Mississippi Pot Roast: Recipe of the Week

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Mississippi Pot Roast

Recipe from Belle of the Kitchen www.belleofthekitchen.com

 

If you missed out on my last recipe (http://www.thecitymoms.org/crock_pot_creamy_pierogi) let me fill you in on my cooking style: the less work the better. I am a fan of convenience, healthiness, but most importantly convenience.

As I was meal planning this week I stumbled across this recipe from Bell of the Kitchen on Pinterest. It appealed to me on multiple levels. First, this recipe had a minimal number of ingredients. Excellent. Second, it required only one kitchen tool, the CrockPot. Even Better. And third, it allowed me to continue my ongoing quest to cook a roast that doesn’t suck. Challenge accepted.

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Ingredients:

3-4 pounds chuck roast (I used two, 2 lb roasts, because that’s what Kroger had)

1 packet Au Jus gravy mix

1 packet Ranch dressing mix

4 pepperoncini peppers

¼ cup butter, cut into slices

**If you are feeling extra lazy/efficient use a disposable CrockPot liner.

 

Directions:

Place the meat in the CrockPot. Cover with the two seasoning packets. Add the four peppers and the butter slices. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

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I have to say that this might be the best roast I have ever cooked. Unlike the dry slabs of meat I usually produce, this roast was incredibly juicy and flavorful. We barely had enough leftovers for my lunch the next day. I served this with Bob Evans mashed potatoes (available in the refrigerator section of your grocery store) and a bagged Chopped Kale and broccoli salad bag. I can’t set the bar too high. Enjoy!

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Volunteers Wanted at School on Wheels

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Scrutinizing consumer reports for the perfect backpack. Eagerly awaiting your child’s classroom and teacher assignment. Turning bargain shopping for school supplies into an artform. Yes, getting the kids off to school can be stressful, but it is typically a really exciting time for a family--a time of anticipation, new beginnings, and hope for the future.

Now imagine not knowing how you will ever afford a backpack or school supplies. Imagine not knowing which school your child will attend because you aren’t sure where you will sleep tonight. Unfortunately, this is the reality for nearly 5,000 homeless students in Indianapolis. The barriers and challenges facing homeless students can be incredibly overwhelming, but there is one local organization trying very hard to erase some of those barriers.

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For the past 15 years, School on Wheels has been striving to provide one on one tutoring and educational advocacy for school-aged children impacted by homelessness. The non-profit, founded by Sally Bindley, serves as a “homework club” for some of the city’s most vulnerable students and also assists with backpacks, uniforms, and other educational needs. School on Wheels also assists the parents of homeless students who face their own host of challenges, and tries to empower them to be their child’s best educational advocate.

In the organization's first year, they were able to tutor at one shelter and reach about 50 students. This past year, however, School on Wheels operated in 13 partner locations and served just under 430 students.  That kind of reach relies heavily on volunteerism. “We couldn’t operate without volunteers”, said Volunteer Manager Samantha Breeling, “They are the heart and soul of what we do. They are the wheels on the school of wheels.” Volunteers can serve as volunteer tutors but also in administrative and support roles. This is an opportunity for the whole family to get involved. Children ages 11-13 are allowed to volunteer along with their parent or guardian, and children age 14 and older are allowed to volunteer alone with parental permission.

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As you prepare your own family to head back to school, it is a great time to reflect on the challenges other local families may face at this time of year. If you feel fortunate enough to be in a position to help, School on Wheels wants you!

 

Do you have what it takes to be a volunteer?

Commitment:

Volunteers are asked to commit to one hour a week for one Semester. School on Wheels tries very hard to accommodate the schedules of its volunteers with tutoring shifts available during the day as well as later evenings.

Tutoring locations:

http://indyschoolonwheels.org/tutor-resources/tutoring-locations-schedule/

 

Requirements:

Volunteers are required to submit to a background check, complete a tutor application, and participate in a short phone interview. If accepted, volunteers will attend a two and a half hour tutor training.

 Complete the application here:

https://connect.fundly.com/Site/SchoolonWheels/ViewOpportunity/58379#/

 

Not ready to volunteer yet but want to stay connected? Follow School on Wheels on social media:

 

https://www.facebook.com/schoolonwheelsindy

 

https://twitter.com/indysow

 

https://www.youtube.com/user/indySOW

 

https://www.linkedin.com/company/schoolonwheels

 

https://www.instagram.com/indysow/

 

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Focusing On The Good

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I lost a friend recently. He died. He was young. It should not have happened. I deal with death on a daily basis, but this was different. He had such a huge and positive impact on everyone around him. And there is just a huge gaping hole in the lives of everyone who knew him. I wish he had known the impact he had and just how irreplaceable he is.

I think for most people, losing someone you care about causes you to re-examine what you have. It is so easy to get lost in the day to day of our lives. The stress of jobs, paying bills, grumpy kids, the house that always needs cleaned, the laundry I just can’t keep up with. It’s too easy to let joy get lost in the shuffle.

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During the past month there have been moments of intense sorrow. There has been anger. There has been fear. I have also seen people come together to help each other, to be there for each other. My husband and my son have been my anchor, reminding me that I have so much to be grateful for.

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I am a veterinarian. I solve problems on a daily basis and sometimes lives do hang in the balance. I want to fix it all, and I struggle with the reality that I can’t always do that, no one can. Most of the time I make my peace with it. There are diseases and injuries that I can’t repair. Processes that I can’t stop. Sometimes all I can offer is a peaceful end. I am honored to be in the exam room when a family says good bye to the dog or cat they love. It is the last give the give to a beloved pet. A last act of love.

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This is different. I don’t like situations where there really is no solution. There is no way to repair this loss, and I am still coming to terms with that. It’s too easy to look around and see all the negative in the world. It is everywhere. In order to get through a very difficult time I am forcing myself to look for the good. The world seems overwhelming, so I have been focusing on the joy in the day to day of my life. Looking at a typical day, I have been blessed. Here is what I hold on to.

  1. The laughter of my son. Seriously, is there anything better than the sound of a baby laughing?
  2. A big hug from my husband. He makes me laugh even when I feel like I don’t want to. And nothing is better than a great big hug from him. Watching John and Jack together makes my heart so happy.
  3. Rocking Jack to sleep. It is a brief pause in my day and the only time Jack holds still long enough to snuggle. That quiet moment where we rock in the nursery with the lights off as he finishes a bottle before going to bed. In that moment there is peace.
  4. What I do matters. Whether it is raising my son, helping a client and patient, or just being there for someone in need. The day to day of my life matters. I can’t solve all the world’s problems, but I can still make a difference in my own way.
  5. Have faith. I have had my days, especially over the last month, where life just seems really hard and makes me question everything. Deep in my heart though, I have faith. I believe in something/someone bigger than myself even if I don’t understand why things sometimes happen the way they do. I focus on what I can do and try to make a difference in my own way.

Focusing on good wherever I find it is helping my own heart heal. If you get one thing out of reading this I hope it is the absolute fact that you matter. Who you are and what you bring to the world makes a difference. The lessons I will carry forward from my friend are to laugh and to do what you love. Life is just too short for anything else. 

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Adventure Is Waiting...

High-waisted khaki pants. Patterned kerchiefs tied around necks. Lots and lots of men. If these are the images that come to mind when you imagine the “Boy Scouts”, it is time you got to know the modern face of scouting--a place where women leaders are welcomed and family time is the top priority.

High-waisted khaki pants. Patterned kerchiefs tied around necks. Lots and lots of men. If these are the images that come to mind when you imagine the “Boy Scouts”, it is time you got to know the modern face of scouting--a place where women leaders are welcomed and family time is the top priority.

Stacy Barry, a Realtor at Century 21 Scheetz, said that scouting has been an adventure for her whole family, not just for her nine-year-old Hudson, who joined the Scouts in first grade. “There is never a discussion if he is participating in Scouts or not,” Barry said.

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And now her second son Parker won’t have to wait as long to follow in his big brother’s footsteps, because as of this year the Scouts are allowing Kindergarteners to join!

Barry, like many modern moms, is busy to say the very least. She balances a highly successful career in real estate with two lively boys, but she says the commitment to the Scouts is worthwhile and a priority in her family. In addition to being a “huge melting pot of kids” the Scouts teaches practical life skills, important values, and keeps kids active and engaged in their community.  And no longer is the Scouts a “boys only” club. “The scouts have changed a lot,” Barry said. Moms and Dads are welcome to participate. In fact, the leader of Hudson’s den is a woman, and there are many female leaders throughout the organization. Barry believes that women bring many strengths to the program such as organization, practical advice, and a strong knowledge of age appropriateness. At the end of the day, the Boy Scouts is a family affair, and all are welcome to participate and volunteer.

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Michelle Weber, Graphic Designer and Co-Director of theCityMoms of Greater Indianapolis, said her six-year-old son Thomas is so excited to be able to join the Boy Scouts as a kindergartener:  “He loves science, nature and exploration. The Boy Scouts seem to have it all. He was very excited to see all of the STEM scouts has to offer and cannot wait to be old enough to check that out”

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How It Works:

Prospective Scouts (Kindergarteners and up) can register starting August 25th at their local elementary school or at www.joinScoutsIN.org.

Scouts are organized into dens, with one to two leaders, and dens are included in a pack, which typically encompass an entire school.

The Commitment:

The Boy Scouts requires a very low financial commitment. Scouts pay a minimal fee to join and are required to purchase a uniform and t-shirt. They do participate in fundraising efforts throughout the year to sustain the den activities.

“It is a lot of work for the parents, but it is worth it,” Barry said about the commitment. Especially with Cub Scouts, it is expected that there is a parent present per child. Most Scouting events are very family-friendly. Barry said she and her husband typically take turns attending events, and her husband is an assistant den leader.

Weber said, “My husband and I plan to attend Joining Scouts Night at Thomas’ elementary school to learn more. We were both scouts, growing up, so we know there is a level of involvement that each parent commits to each den. It is a little exciting to think of experiencing all of that, again, with our son!”

What Do They Do?

Scouts participate in a variety of outdoor activities such as fishing, camping, and learning safe knife skills. They also volunteer and give back to their schools. It is service learning with an emphasis on the great outdoors.

Weber said, “My hope is that my son will get to build upon the interests he already has while learning basic life skills to help him be successful. I also expect that he will have A LOT of fun!!!”

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Blueberry Oatmeal Layer Bars: Recipe of the Week

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Blueberry Oatmeal Layer Bars

I love blueberries. They might be my favorite fruit. So you can imagine my delight when I learned about Driving Wind Blueberry Farm which is located only 10 minutes from my house in the heart of Indianapolis. My daughter and I have stopped by to pick blueberries there each of the past two summers in early July. She’s three, so I end up doing most of the picking but she does love their blueberry graham ice cream from Lick and resident donkey.

This year I picked about ten pounds over two visits, and later bought another five pounds from Wildwood Market. That’s a lot of blueberries. We used a lot of them fresh and froze the rest. I spent a copious amount of time looking for new blueberry recipes. The one below is my own creation, inspired by many other bloggers, namely Hummusapien. I didn’t take detailed pictures while prepping, but they were so good I decided they had to serve as my next blog topic. Next time I make them I might try infusing a little rosemary or basil into the jam and crushed almonds into the crust just to be adventurous. These are not overly sweet, so we ate them as a special breakfast treat.

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Makes 9 bars

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 30-35 minutes

 

Ingredients:

Blueberry jam:

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup

Oatmeal layers:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup

 

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease an 8x8in baking dish and line with parchment. Makes it much easier to lift out.
  2. Heat a small saucepan over medium and add blueberries, chia seeds and maple syrup. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Use a potato masher mash up the berries. Allow to cool.
  3. Mix the oats, flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda in a large bowl.
  4. Add applesauce, maple syrup and coconut oil.
  5. Set aside a rounded half cup or so of the base mixture and then spread the rest evenly into the pan. Top with blueberry mixture, spreading evenly with a spatula.
  6. Sprinkle the rest of the oat mixture on top.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before cutting into 9 bars.
  8. Eat within a few days or freeze for later.

 

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Grilled Cheese Showdown at the State Fair

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Last year the Indiana Dairy association had a contest: who makes the best mac and cheese? My husband tagged me in their post on twitter because we think I make some pretty sweet mac and cheese.  So, I entered the contest.  This was no easy thing because they wanted a recipe and I make food off of the top of my head most of the time. To make matters worse, hubby didn't think “any cheese without mold on it” was a suitable ingredient.  So, it was really hard and I was not optimistic.  For good reason, too. I lost. I wasn’t a finalist last year but I got 4 free tickets to the fair and a nice swag bag of consolation prizes.

Fast forward a year and the Indiana Dairy folks are at it again. Except this time its grilled cheese.  I am not known for my grilled cheese prowess, in fact I seldom make them because my oldest child hates american cheese.  But, our IN Dairy pizza cutter from last year’s swag had been left on the stove when it was hot so it melted and I thought to myself: “Self, we could spent $12 on a pizza cutter, or we could lose this contest and get one for free!”  Obviously, I opted to lose the contest again.  We have 4 kids and one income: $12 is a lot of money! 

Imagine my surprise when, instead of a package full of swag, I get an email telling me I’ve qualified as one of 8 finalists! Hey, wait a minute. I just needed a new pizza cutter here.  This is bananas.  Never in a million years did I suspect I would qualify. I saw some of those other grilled cheese’s on Instagram. One of them had pulled pork on it! Mine doesn't have pork! Mine is really very boring!  I’m toast! Cheesy grilled toast!  Its a lot of fun to tell people that you’re awesome and qualified for a grilled cheese contest, its another thing entirely to have to make 4 sandwiches in public and serve them to people to be judged.  

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In the next few weeks the organizer of the event called me a few times to confirm the ingredients in my recipe.  By this point I’d already forgotten my “recipe” since I pretty much made it up.  So I'm reasonably sure that I overestimated the size of my slices and that this sandwich will have way too much cheese on it. She asked if I wanted particular brands of bread or cheese. My response of “I really just buy whatever is on sale…” seemed super lame.  She told me that one competitor wanted specific cheese that was made in Indiana, probably by artisans with access to magic cows who tap dance and sell chicken nuggets or something.  I can’t stress to this lady enough how much I think she should really disqualify me and send me packing.  I am not a chef.  I’m just a chick who likes to get swag in the mail and has a reasonable degree of culinary ability.  But, alas, she didn't disqualify me. 

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Its 8:33 in the morning the day of the contest.  I haven't even gotten to the fair grounds yet and I have already imagined 500 ways I could embarrass myself and all of my ancestors.  God help me if anyone asks what I did to prepare for this thing because the answer will be that I took a sleeping pill so that I wouldn't be up all night imagining all the ways I could perish in a grilled cheese related incident.  I haven’t practiced my sandwich at all.  Because goodness knows that I’d end up burning myself, because that’s my level of competency.  I’m working on reminding myself that I’ve been saying and doing stupid things for 30+ years now and I’m still a relatively functional human being.  Worst case: I lose but I got my whole family into the fair for free.  *shrug* Thats not so bad, right?

 

…Uh oh… what if I don't get a consolation pizza cutter?! I’m going back to bed.

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Unwanted Reminders

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In my early twenties, a girl I grew up with died in a car crash. As with anyone who dies too soon, it was hard to understand and hard to forget. By this time in my life, I wasn’t really friends with her, but I had some close friends who were. So it felt too real and too close to home.

In sixth grade, her birthday party was the first boy/girl party I went to. It was momentous at the time, but looking back, it was probably just a big let down. Boys stood on one end of the garage and ate all the snacks while girls stood on the other end of the garage pretending we wanted to dance while no one actually danced.

Sixth grade, what a crazy time. 

Now years later, Facebook keeps suggesting I be friends with her. Now, after all these years of her being gone, Facebook thinks we should connect.

Every time I see that suggestion, it makes me sad all over again.

She’s gone! I want to yell at the screen—stop suggesting her!

Then I worry about all the other people that are being reminded of her absence every day by a social media website. I wish someone could just log in and cancel her account. Because it would make me feel better. Not her parents who have to struggle daily without their daughter or her close friends who feel a tangible void in their lives; I want someone to deactivate her account so someone who knew her 15 years ago can be less uncomfortable.

How selfish.

I wonder how often these great and wonderful things we love to incorporate into our lives are actually backfiring. How many automatic responses, birthday reminders, and friend connections we have that aren’t real anymore, that bring about pain when they–through a little computer magic–come back into our lives.

When we found out we were pregnant in December, I downloaded a baby countdown app on my phone. Then in January, when I had a miscarriage, I deleted the app. But somehow I must have inadvertently signed up for approximately one hundred different email reminders about this baby that no longer existed. Because at least once a week, I get an email about prenatal advice, how many weeks along I am, or what I should be buying for the baby growing in my belly.

Except there is no baby.

No matter how many times I unsubscribe to an email, another one comes the next week in its place. When I’m least expecting it and, sometimes, not equipped to deal with it.

For the most part, the whole surprise pregnancy and miscarriage time feels like a foggy dream: not real, hard to remember, and some uncertainty about me being involved in it. I’m detached in a weird way.

Then a handy email reminder comes along, and I’m smacked in the face with it again.

Sometimes the memory just stays for a moment and other times the memory sticks all day. Sometimes it comes with joy and sometimes it comes with sadness.

But thanks to automatic emails, the reminder always comes.

It just makes me wonder how much of this life of being connected with technology, is actually beneficial.

 

Because sometimes it just hurts.



Originally published on Trusty Chucks in March 2013

www.trustychucks.com/2013/03/unwanted-reminders/

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Iced Mint Coffee

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 Iced Mint Coffee

I left my heart in San Francisco . . . and with it one of the most delicious coffee drinks ever!  My cousins introduced me to Philz Mint Mojito!  It is amazing. I would dream about this delicious drink and wake up craving it!  So I started the quest to recreate this drink. After trial and error, I think I found something that can satisfy that craving. It is super easy and delicious!

 

Ingredients:

Nice yummy coffee beans. (Freshly grind and brew)

*Double or triple amount to make more concentrated flavor.

Fresh mint leaves

Brown sugar

Half & Half (milk of choice)

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Directions:

Prepare coffee and brew. Muddle the mint and brown sugar together. (Basically smash. The mint will become super fragrant). Once the coffee is ready, mix it with the mint and sugar mixture.  Add the cream. Then get a glass with ice then pour the coffee over it. Voila, happiness in a cup. I like making a bigger batch and placing it in the fridge to get a more robust flavor over the next day or two. This is definitely a yummy treat that makes me feel closer to my family and first home.

 

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Meet theCityMoms Co-Directors

 Meet your Co-Directors of theCityMoms of Greater Indianapolis. These women pour their hearts and souls into this organization and work tirelessly behind the scenes. Get to know them!

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Michelle Weber

Indianapolis

Mom to Thomas, 6; Elizabeth, 3; Matt, 41

theCityMoms Greater Indy Co-Director & Tech Coordinator

Michelle Weber Co-Director

Q: When and why did you get involved with theCityMoms?

I joined theCityMoms in 2013 just before the birth of my daughter. FunFact- I hosted our very first Event- The Greening of The Canal in March 2013! The main reason I got involved with tCM is that I know the power of the #MomTribe and knew that I needed support.

Q:What areas of theCityMoms will you manage as a new Co-Director?

My area of expertise has always been as tCM’s graphic & web designer, which I will continue. As a Co-Director I am able to have a voice in growing or organization and maintaining the awesome support system that has already been created. My personal mission is to give other moms the opportunity to step-up and have a voice too!

Q: What inspired you to take on a leadership role with theCityMoms?

I have been on the “Front Line of The Backend” for a while now and wanted to take on the challenge of growing the organization to its full potential. Can’t tell you how excited I am to share all of the exciting events and perks we have coming to our members as we wrap up 2016!!!

Q: When you aren't running our fabulous group, what fills your days?

My family is very important to me and I seem to fill every nook & cranny with something that fulfills all of us. Volunteering, at both of their schools, is something that keeps me very busy. I do take time away from the family to fill my cup and let my hair own. You can find me out & about with my girlfriends, or at many of tCMgi’s MNOs.

Q: How would you describe your own "mom style"?

I would describe myself as a laid-back, badass, mom. You will not find me helicoptering, but rather, encouraging my kids to get outside and try new things. This is advice I give to myself too ;)

Q: What does a perfect day look like for you?

Sleeping in until 10am, then sipping coffee while quietly checking out my social media feeds, all the while my children frolic with the butterflies in my backyard.....I know this is a pipe dream!!! Really, I cherish the rainy days where all stay home, snuggle on the couch, and watch a good movie.

Q: What about the future of theCityMoms gets you the most excited?

I am excited for all of the community partnerships that are being built. It will be so cool to see our moms out there getting involved!

 

You can find me here:

m.weber@citymmomsindy.com

@mumweber on Twitter & Instagram

 I look forward to connecting with our members, online, and in person!

 

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Megan Leahy, Noblesville

Mom to Ronyn, 8; and Finnegan 5

theCityMoms Greater Indy Co-Director & Member Relations

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Q: When and why did you get involved with theCityMoms?

I joined tCM in March 2013 when it was first starting. I hadn't ever been in a moms group before and it seemed like fun. I was hoping to find a new friend or two; I never thought I'd meet so many wonderful, amazing women and make so many life-long friends.

Q: What areas of theCityMoms will your manage as a new Co-Director?

Member Relations has been my area for a while now and that's not going to change. I plan to continue to make sure that our members are having fun, making friends, and getting what they came for. I have had a great experience with this group and I'd love for everyone else to have the same!

Q: What inspired you to take on a leadership role with theCityMoms?

I've been involved behind-the-scenes since I became a CityMom but I am super excited about this opportunity to be a Co-Director. I am looking forward to being a sounding board for tCMers and being able to put our members' and new team's ideas into plans and then into action. I love that there are so many awesome things in our future!

Q: When you aren't running our fabulous group, what fills your days?

Technically I am a stay-at-home mom but I don't like to stay home. I dabble in photography, lead my daughter's Girl Scout Troop, volunteer with Project Home Indy, am a digital writer for Indy's Child, the Security Director for Whale of a Sale & Whale of a Sale Indy South, and I have a non-profit that I run from home. And I take the kids all around-we love to travel. Aaaaand I might be addicted to being busy. ;)

Q: How would you describe your own "mom style"?

My mom style is pretty old school. I expect my kids to be respectful, kind, grateful, helpful - but more importantly I want them to be happy, and I hope they know how much they are loved.

Q: What does a perfect day look like for you?

A perfect day, for me, would be when Ro & Finn both sleep past 8am. We'd go swimming, play with friends, have our favorite foods, and really enjoy each other. No fighting, no arguing. Just love and lots of fun!

Q: What about the future of theCityMoms gets you the most excited?

I am excited about the team we are building! I love that there will be so many opportunities for tCMers to shine in these new roles. There will be lots of people helping tCM grow, and we are going to rock it! 

 

You can find me here:

 

m.leahy@citymomsindy.com


@supermommymegan on Twitter & Instagram

 

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Danielle Fuller, Fishers

Mom to Makenna, 4; and Levi, 1

theCityMoms of Greater Indianapolis Co-Director and Event Coordinator

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Q: When and why did you get involved with theCityMoms?

I have been with our group since the beginning (March 2013). I got involved because my schedule was so varied. I thought having a lot of moms around would mean I could still do something with my kids when I was off work, even if it was an odd time.

Q: What areas of theCityMoms will you manage as a new Co-Director?

I am still and will always be events. Anyone who knows me knows that I do not sit still very well, and I hope to help keep the calendar full of fun and exciting events.

Q: What inspired you to take on a leadership role with theCityMoms?

Honestly it was because I was so active and already hosting events due to my varied schedule that I didn't think it would be a stretch to help facilitate for other moms. I hope I am not wrong. 

Q: When you aren't running our fabulous group, what fills your days?

My family, my work, and my faith. With a 4 and 1 year old, things get pretty exciting around here. I work full-time as a Register Veterinary Technician (Animal Nurse) and do some dog sitting on the side because I think dogs do best in a home environment. We are also a part of Castleton United Methodist Church and hope to raise the kids to be caring and kind.

Q: How would you describe your own "mom style"?

My style is well... laid back. I want the kids to experience life, and I would love for them to try new things on their own. I do demand that they are respectful and say their pleases and thank you's!

Q: What does a perfect day look like for you?

Riding a horse on a beach or mountain to a remote place where I can read a good book, bask in the sunshine, and be at peace.

Q: What about the future of theCityMoms gets you the most excited?

The hope that everyone finds their "Tribe" like I did!! My husband and I came from the East coast and we weren't sure how Indy would treat us. I have met the most amazing people within theCityMoms, and we couldn't do Indy without our friends.

 

You can find me here:

 

d.fuller@citymomsindy.com

 

@adoremyjams on Twitter & Instagram

 

If I had a message to give, it would be to jump in wholeheartedly. Sign up for events, meet new people, and have FUN. You never know who you will click with and what new adventures you could be doing until you jump in. I hope to see you out there in Indy!!

 


 

theCityMoms Greater Indianapolis is Proud to Announce Our Member Board

Partnerships & Perks Social Media & Marketing Community Outreach

Kathleen Field

Nicole Yankauskas

Christi Amos

Jo Ensby

Heather Chastain

Jaime Casida

Melissa Raveed

Hillary Brown

Kimberly Bright

 

Blog  MOMpreneurs Membership

Megan Bohrer

Desta Ntamere

Carina Lamb

Kendra Stewart

 

 

Treasury Secretary Directors

Rebecca Copple

Holly Sample

Jamie Kenyon

Laura Centeno-Díaz

Michelle Weber

Megan Leahy

Danielle Fuller

and Valued Volunteers

LeeAnn Roberston

Katie Blair

Stacey Mayo

Katie Ruvalcaba

Mary Graham

Abby Kellermeyer

Darcie Speicher

Eurince Clements

Jaimie Leyva

Kristi Shea

Sara Rogers

Dorothy Buchanan

Joli Heavin

Amanda Campbell

Stephania Marshall

Abigail Grant

Lakesha Borntrager

Erin Martz

Bryna O'Neil

Cheryl Lo

Elana Fate

Kara Babcock

Andrea Moore

 

 

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Pattern Mixing

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This month I am sharing one of my favorite fashion tips and tricks that really elevates the style of any outfit: pattern mixing. If you know me in real life, then you know I love me some pattern mixing. I find outfits composed of mixed patterns to be pleasing to the eye. Depending on the prints you choose and how you combine them, pattern mixing can bring a level of playfulness, daring, or elegance to your ensemble. I realize that pattern mixing may be outside many of your comfort zones, but never fear, I am going to give you some guidelines so that you can dip your toes into this fashion trend and not end up looking like a toddler that dressed themselves.

 

1. Start Small

For your first foray into pattern mixing, start small, with an accessory like a belt, scarf or even handbag. I really consider animal prints a neutral (seriously!) so try adding something like a little leopard print to your outfit. Here. I added a skinny zebra print belt to my skin print top and jeans. With a little front tuck, the belt just peeks out a little and adds a tiny bit of pattern mixing to my outfit.

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If you want to go a little bolder, you can do a scarf like the leopard one I did here, paired with a striped top.

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 2. Treat Stripes as a Neutral

This is one of my favorite pattern mixing combinations. A basic black and white striped print looks striking with a bold floral. Here I just tied a striped top around floral patterned skirt.

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I really feel like just about any pattern can be paired with stripes. Here I added a blanket scarf with an oversized plaid pattern to delicate black and white striped dress.

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 3. Play with Pattern Scale

Another fun way to incorporate pattern mixing into an outfit is to use the same basic pattern, but have a contrast in scale. So think, big bold floral paired with a small delicate floral. Or wide stripes paired with skinny stripes. Here, I added that same large print plaid pattern scarf to a small print gingham button-up.

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 4. Have a Common Color

If you don’t want to look like you got dressed in the dark, make sure that each pattern in your ensemble shares a common color. Here I have two pretty bold floral patterns, but they both share the bright pink color so it works.

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I hope that you feel a little more comfortable mixing things up in your closet. No matter what, if you are bold and confident in your choices, you will be able to pull it off. Now go be playful and have fun with your clothes!

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Orange Leaf Party Box

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CityMom Danielle reviewed* the Pop-Up Party Box from Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt and thinks it is a delicious option for Summer celebrations, play dates with friends, and basically any gathering of people! I mean do you really need an excuse to eat this delicious treat?

 

 

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Like many of you, I am a mother with children who act very much like children all summer long. One of our goals for the Summer months is to stay nice and cool. As a part of this keeping cool quest, we decided to try out the Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt Pop-Up Party Box with their new flavors: Spa Day Sorbet and  Strawberry Serrano Lemonade. I figured a party box was as good of a reason as any to host a party, so I called a few friends (who also happened to have kids who like to keep cool) to join us at Saxony Beach and share in the frozen yogurt fun.

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We hopped on over to Orange Leaf on River’s Edge (the one off of 82nd and Dean Road) and were greeted by an incredibly nice manager named Scott who had everything ready before we got there. He explained the Party Box and all that it had to offer. According to the company's Website,  “Orange Leaf’s Pop-Up Party Boxes are ideal for birthday parties, backyard BBQs and meet ups with friends. They offer froyo lovers a convenient and easy way to enjoy Orange Leaf at home, at play, work or even at the pool —whether it is 12, 25 or 50 8oz cups of froyo (plus toppings).” We chose the party box for 25 friends and headed out to our play date.

 

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After much research (i.e. sampling every single delicious flavor to rank the yumminess) I decided my favorite was the Brownie Batter, but coming in a very close second was Spa Day Sorbet. I am and will always be a brownie fan, but the cool sensation of the Spa Day hit the spot, too! I do think the best part for the kids was picking their own toppings. I mean who doesn’t like sprinkles and gummy worms? Calm your mom guilt, however, because in addition to cookies and candy toppings the party box featured fruit, so it's practically healthy. 

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What did we learn? Kids love the beach, but they love the beach with Orange Leaf even better!  We are already dreaming about some of the other menu options we will try such as the Froyo Cake, which will be perfect with so many birthdays coming up! The Summer Time Swizzles are also on our short list, featuring such mouth-watering flavors as Stars and Stripes, Strawberry Shortcake, Coconut Creme Pie, and Rocky Road!

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Is your mouth watering yet? Can you practically taste the frozen yogurt on your tongue? Well good, because Orange Leaf is generously offering a $25 gift card, with some fabulous Orange Leaf swag, to three of our readers! In the meantime, download the Orange Leaf app and check out their fun new mascot, the Orange Unicorn.

 

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ENTER TO WIN RIGHT HERE!

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S'Mores Graham Cracker Toffee: Recipe of the Week

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Recipe of the Week: S’mores “Crack” Graham Cracker Toffee: {SomethingSwanky.com}

The most popular campfire treat is celebrated each year on August 10th as it is National S’mores Day.  This delicious, sticky and gooey treat is loved by millions across the United States. A typical S’mores consists of a roasted marshmallow with a layer of chocolate bar sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker. This recipe is a fun summertime variation using graham crackers soaked in a caramel mixture, baked to toffee perfection! I recently made this for my “Christmas in July” Bunco party and it was a huge hit!

 

Yield: 20-30 pieces

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes (including chill time)

 

Ingredients:

Approximately 1 sleeve graham crackers (enough to cover the pan in one layer)

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 cups milk chocolate candy bar pieces (chopped)

1 cup marshmallow bits for topping

Graham cracker crumbs for topping

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Prepare a 10.5 x 15.5 jelly roll pan by lining it with parchment paper. Be sure to crease the edges, so that it's easier to lay the crackers in a single layer. Place the crackers in a flat, single layer on the jelly roll pan. Don't worry about any gaps in-between the crackers.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix in the brown sugar. Bring to a boil (should be bubbling definitively around the edge --- you shouldn't wonder if it's boiling or not) and set a timer for 3 minutes.

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Allow to boil without stirring. After 3 minutes, remove from heat immediately. Pour the mixture over the crackers, and use a spatula to gently spread the toffee over the crackers (it's ok if the crackers get displaced a little, but try to keep them as flat as possible).

Bake toffee-crackers for 6 minutes. Remove and sprinkle the chocolate pieces on top. Return to oven for 1 minute.

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Spread the melted chocolate chips evenly across the toffee with a spatula. Sprinkle marshmallow bits and graham crackers over top. Let the pan cool at room temperature for a few minutes before placing it in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes, until hardened. Break apart to serve. Store chilled.

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Tip: For easier cutting/breaking, remove toffee from the refrigerator after 10 minutes (it should be partially cooled-- the chocolate should be hardened enough that it won't be disturbed by cutting, and soft enough that it's easy to cut) and cut the toffee into small squares. Return to the refrigerator to finish cooling and harden completely.

Store in the refrigerator for best taste and texture.

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Meet the Author: Caroline Girls

 

 

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Heather Chastain is a CityMom and the author of Caroline Girls. She took a few minutes out of her whirlwind schedule and book promotion to chat with us!

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Question: What inspired you to write Caroline Girls?

Answer: Writing Caroline Girls is something that came to me organically. Once my little Caroline turned about 2 – 2 1/2, I realized her personality was emerging in a comical way. I don’t know what it was about her particular age … maybe the fact she was starting to express herself in a way I could actually understand or the fact she was simply developing into a toddler … but her antics were proving to provide me with entertaining Facebook posts. If even just for my friends and family.

 

After many, many looooonnng days of toddler parenting, I decided to try to take my frustration out in a positive way. I’d heard it a million times: “The days are long, but the years are short.” So I knew despite my aggravation, I needed to try and cherish these moments. Mentally, I started forming these stories. But I just didn’t see how it was going to come together.

 

Well, little Caroline LOVED wearing dresses. Every. Single. Day. Even in the winter, we had to pair leggings with them. One day, wearing a new dress I had purchased at Target, she looked down at the skirted part and said, “Look mom, there are Caroline Girls on my dress!” That’s when the light bulb went off! I decided to call the story “Caroline Girls.”


Question: You have a background in journalism and media, but was making the transition to children's author difficult? What made you decide to take this journey?

Answer: Writing a book was never on my list of goals. My senior year of college, I decided I wanted to be a news producer. I was so excited to travel. I love journalism — interviewing, talking to people. Telling people what’s going on in their world is super important to me. I worked as a news producer after college, first in South Bend and later in Indianapolis, where I earned an Emmy award for my journalism. However, the late-night schedule was difficult and when my contract ended, my husband and I decided we were ready for a family and this schedule wasn’t working for me. I knew there was no I way I could raise a child on that schedule, but I still had a desire to tell stories. I started writing short novels. I even went to some conferences and worked with some publishers, but I never thought it was the right project or the right time.

 

After my daughter Caroline was born, I began writing stories based on my daughter’s personality and antics.

 

I didn’t do anything with the stories until about a year and a half ago. My husband said, ‘This is what you should do,’ and I thought, ‘Yeah, this is what I should do!’”

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Question: What has been the most rewarding aspect of publishing this book?

Answer: Seeing the lives I’ve touched. What really sent me over the edge to publish this book, besides my husband’s encouragement and insistence, was my passionate desire to change the world. I want to make a lasting impact and to do that, you really have to focus on children because they are the ones who you can most help shape. We need a world full of kindness and inclusivity and that’s what you learn in the Caroline Girls book.

 

Question: What has been the most challenging part of publishing this book?

 

Answer: Selling the book! I’m self-published and so everything falls on me. It’s exciting, exhilarating and downright exhausting! I recognized early on there was no way I could sell and market my book well without help. Honestly, the overwhelming task of getting the word out about Caroline Girls and trying to get it sold was so much it made me consider not doing it all. But, fellow theCityMom Courtney Rice offered her marketing assistance (she’s a former marketing professional), and it has made ALL the difference! She’s able to focus on marketing efforts – what’s working, what’s not; I’m networking, trying to find venues to sell the book and plan events. The selling piece is so intense. It’s so refreshing to hear Courtney’s perspective and have a clear idea of what is successful in getting the word out!

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Question: How long have you been involved with theCityMoms? What are your favorite activities to do with the group?

 

Answer: I’m a new CityMom! In fact, Courtney is the one who encouraged me to join! She has had so much fun with this group and told me I would enjoy it, too! I’ve done a few different events – a reading at Urban Chalkboard and a networking event. I absolutely adore these women! I love how incredibly inclusive they are and excited to meet new people! It’s exactly the message I’m sharing with Caroline Girls!

 

Question: What's the next chapter for Heather Chastain and Caroline Girls?

Answer: To find an agent and publish more books! I have written 5 different Caroline Girls stories and I would love to publish them! I’ve also started formulating ideas for Baby Kate stories, my other daughter! I would also love to see Caroline Girls become an entire brand – merchandise and all! I’m also super excited to get more involved with theCityMoms because you ladies ROCK!

 

 

 

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Ask Amanda: Advice for an Annoyed Wife

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Get ready for your monthly does of expert advice from Licensed Counselor Amanda Luthe Campbell. We bet you can relate to this month's topic: annoying husbands and how to approach them! Remember to click on the link at the bottom of the blog to submit your questions for upcoming posts or visit www.busymomslifecoach.com

 

Ask Amanda: Help! I love my husband, but sometimes the things he does just annoy the crap out of me. How do I nicely tell him he's getting on my last nerve?

We all agree that we love our partners. And we can all agree that, at times, they can really get on our nerves!

We've all been there.

Silently fuming,

Trying to bite our tongues,

Dying to get something off our chest,

Resentment building,

Walking around with gritted teeth wanting to give them an earful about something they've done.

Like how my husband leaves his size 12 shoes lying around and klutzy me trips over them.

Or how he leaves his phone on vibrate and I can't get a hold of him when I need him.

How he locks himself out of the apartment.

Today's Ask Amanda article gives some practical tips on letting go and what to say when that's hard to do. For more information, go to www.busymomslifecoach.com

 

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To Speak Or Not To Speak...

One way to avoid a finger-pointing fight is to first decide if the behavior is even worth mentioning.

Picking up his shoes so I don't trip over them? No.

Turning his ringer on in case I need to contact him. Yes.

Locking himself out of the apartment on a lazy Sunday morning and waiting patiently for us to get home. No.

If it's not worth bringing up, find something to distract yourself until the annoyance passes.

 

If You Can't Say Anything Nice...

If you decide to say something, try these suggestions for taking the sting out of it.

 

Come to the table with some solutions.

Just expressing your feelings and pointing out a problem is not always enough to get your needs met.

Be clear and direct: "I feel overwhelmed when I have to cook dinner, do all the cleaning and the laundry. Can we divide the chores? I like to vacuum and cook, but I hate to dust. What would you be willing to do?"

 

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Try the Sandwich Technique (read more HERE). 

Let's say you're pregnant and your husband forgets about a load of laundry in the washer. Then, he just dries them anyway.

"Wow, my pregnant stomach couldn't handle the smell of those clothes in the dryer (positive because you're not blaming him).

"Next time, can you just wash them again before you dry them?" (positive because a criticism is turned into a polite question).

"That would be one less thing that makes me feel like I might throw up! Thanks! I appreciate your help!" (positive and add on a smile or hug).

 

Make It Fair

For lasting change to happen, there must be work on both parts. We have to hold ourselves to the same expectations.

On the flipside of those little digs at my husband, there are plenty of things I do that are equally irritating or senseless to him.

 

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Leaving my coffee mugs everywhere.

Doing things on my phone when he's trying to talk to me.

Weird high-maintenance female things that his male brain just doesn't grasp.

So, I just try to take a deep breath of humility and make sure I'm meeting my own standards.


How does your partner annoy you?

Share in the comments below!

For more expert advice visit www.busymomslifecoach.com

 

Thanks for taking the time,

Amanda

 

Contact Amanda today to get started on the path to a happier, healthier you!

 

The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column not intended to replace or substitute for any mental health treatment, financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require psychological or medical treatment, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist in your area. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. This column and its author are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions.

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Ricotta, Asparagus, and Egg Pizza: Recipe of the Week

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Ricotta Asparagus and Egg Pizza
My kids love pizza night.  Sometimes we go the make your own route and use english muffins, and sometimes we just buy a pre-made crust and make a large pie to share.  Occasionally, I get tired of pepperoni and red sauce and try to class things up.  As you can see by the Desitin on the kitchen counter in the pictures below, I am the epitome of class…
Again I offer you a simple recipe where I utilize mostly prepared ingredients. I can’t really recommend brands because I think the crust is the weakest part of this recipe.  However, I stink at rolling out dough and have never been able to make a proper pizza crust.  Also, as I am cheap, I buy the prepared crust that comes two to a package.
Ingredients:
Pre-made or home made crust
olive oil spray
2/3 cup part skim ricotta
garlic (to taste)
2 tsp olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
4 eggs
parmesan and salt and pepper (to taste)
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Preheat oven to 500F.  Spray crust with olive oil spray.  Combine ricotta and garlic in a bowl and mix.  Because I am super lazy and love garlic, I buy this squeeze bottle of diced garlic.  I use a generous amount and add a pinch of sea salt as well.  Spread mixture over crust.  In another bowl combine the asparagus, cut into 1 inch strips with 2 tsp of olive oil.  Press the asparagus into the cheese mixture.  Place in oven for five minutes.  Now comes the difficult part, without removing the pizza from the oven (I just pull the rack halfway out), crack 4 eggs over the pizza.  As you can see, even an amateur chef like myself can find this step challenging.  I went 50% and broke two yolks.  Put back in the oven for 4-5 minutes or until the whites set. Top with shredded parmesan and pepper.  I think this would be awesome with sriracha but haven’t tried it.
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If you try this, please let me know what crust you go with.  I suspect a pizza stone might be a game changer.
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Breastfeeding and Exercise: What You Need to Know

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Is it safe to exercise while breastfeeding? 

Because I have a three month old whom I'm currently breastfeeding and because I am an instructor for stroller fitness classes, I frequently get questions about the impact exercising has on breastfeeding. Unfortunately, with my daughter my milk production does seem to decrease as the months go by, so I'm making sure I'm doing all that I can to keep my milk production. But it is also extremely important for a new mom's mind & body to fit some sort of exercise into their daily routine. 

Us breastfeeding mommas have plenty to worry about: our newborn's sleep patterns, potential food sensitivities, what & when you are eating, timelines for feeding, among many other things but exercising while breastfeeding does not have to be a concern.

According to kellymom.com, a top parenting and breastfeeding resource, moderate exercise has a host of benefits for breastfeeding moms. It improves their cardiovascular fitness, improves blood lipids and insulin profiles, and can help alleviate postpartum depression symptoms. It’s a misconception that exercising while breastfeeding can cause a reduction in a woman’s milk supply. Typical causes of a reduced milk supply have more to do with our hydration (insufficient hydration can cause immediate shifts in milk supply), stress levels (women under high stress produce hormones that can suppress milk supply), and caloric intake (too few calories can suppress milk supply). 

When you are reducing calories to shed pregnancy weight, it is best to do so in small doses while paying close attention to your hydration levels. If your body is not taking in enough calories to sustain your minimum caloric requirement, it will stop producing the milk your baby needs. A general guideline of calories needed to produce breastmilk is 20 calories per ounce you are producing a day. So, if you are feeding your baby 25-30 ounces of milk a day, you will need to consume between 400-600 extra calories on top of your daily minimums (which vary according to your body weight and other metabolic factors). 

A good rule of thumb for breastfeeding moms is to consume at least 2000 calories per day, especially when engaging in an exercise program. That doesn’t give you license to go out and eat donuts and chips. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber, protein, and healthy fats are essential for your milk production.

When incorporated into a lifestyle that includes increased calories (more food!), proper hydration, and stress reduction techniques, exercise can do you and your new baby a lot of good. Here are three tips for moms returning to exercise with a new baby while breastfeeding:

    • Buy the right bras. You want a good nursing bra that also supports you for moderate movement. When a bra is too tight, it can lead to problems like clogged ducts and mastitis. Buy bras that fit snugly and support you, but are not too tight.
    • If and when possible, try to nurse or pump before you work out. This tip is mainly for your comfort and to help keep your baby happy while you are exercising. 
    • Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. You want to drink water before and after exercise, especially on hot days. You will want your urine to look like light lemonade - that is a sign of good hydration. If you consume caffeine, then make sure to add more water to your day to replace any fluid loss. Coffee has a host of benefits, but is also a diuretic and can cause dehydration if it is not consumed with extra water. 

 

Don’t let the myths surrounding exercise and breastfeeding scare you. You are best served by incorporating moderate exercise on most days of the week. It is not only great for you, but it is good for your baby as well! 

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Mom of the Month: Sarah

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Two and a half years ago, Sarah Carter took a leap of faith, and it turned out to be the best decision she ever made. Back then, a mother of one and a full-time speech pathologist, Sarah was feeling the strains of balancing a full-time career and full-time motherhood, so she decided to make a change and become her own boss. 

Fast forward to the present day, and Sarah is now the mother of two lively boys, soon to be five year old Carson and soon to be one year old Barrett. (Fun fact: her sons share a birthday!) She is also a successful consultant with Rodan and Fields, which allows her the flexibility to work from home and enjoy these precious years with her family. Sarah really loves being a mother, but she shared, “I need something aside from just being a Mom.” Full time work, however, didn’t seem like the best option for her family. Despite her husband Daren’s concerns and despite her own hesitation about “drinking the direct sales kool aid”, Sarah committed to a career with Rodan and Fields and hasn’t looked back since. She finds that the company is incredibly supportive of mothers looking to add additional family income and is a true believer in the products. And P.S. her skin looks amazing! 

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Sarah also became involved with theCityMoms about two and a half years ago. She was looking for an inclusive moms group after encountering some rather exclusive ones in the area. With two young and lively boys, Sarah appreciates the fact that theCityMoms helps her stay active and involved with her children. She also participates in the Mompreneur group and enjoys networking with other entrepreneurs and professional women. 

Direct sales can be a tough business in which to succeed, but Sarah says consistency, follow-up, and discipline have been the keys to her success. Dedicating and truly working about 5-6 hours a week has allowed her to replace her full time salary. She cautions, however, that direct sales is not a get rich quick scheme but rather a five year plan that requires not only dedication but also thick skin. Sarah acknowledges that a stigma exists surrounding direct sales, but she says you just can’t worry about what other people think. Sarah is confident because she knows she is doing what’s right for her family. 

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When she has a rare moment of down time, Sarah enjoys pursuing her passion of photography. She also still does consulting work as a Speech Pathologist. The family enjoys staying active and outdoors and loves going to the zoo and The Children’s Museum. Sarah looks forward to staying involved with theCityMoms and would love to see a big carnival or black tie event in the future.

 

And now, for the important stuff:

What five items would you bring to a desert island?

  1. Sunscreen (clearly, she’s a skincare enthusiast!)

  2. Phone

  3. Kids and husband

  4. Dixie, our Border Collie; we also have a chihuahua, who might have to stay at home ;)

  5. Camera

What are you reading right now?

Twenty Days to the Top by Brian Sullivan

What is the weirdest thing in your purse?

Speech therapy materials, Epipen, a checkbook, a charging purse from R+F...I’m actually surprised because there is usually something a lot more random

What is your best recent mom memory?

My older son has some behavioral challenges, but recently he just had a breakthrough day. He doesn’t like to get his head wet, but he took a shower and went underwater for his swim lesson, and he even pooped on the potty, which was a huge fear of his. It just made me want to cry!

What is your guilty pleasure?

Diet coke with splenda and wine, definitely wine.

 

Sarah juggles her own business and raising two boys with grace and style, and she is super friendly to boot. If you haven’t met her yet, you should! And if you are interested in learning more about her business, feel free to connect with her on Facebook.

 

Stay tuned to see who Sarah nominated as the next Mom of the Month!

 

 

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To Tell Our Stories

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I was summoned for jury duty recently.

 

The third time in seventeen months.  I didn’t realize until I showed up that after serving, you are exempt from serving again for twenty-four months, and I could have contested the summons. But really, I was looking forward to sitting in a large room waiting patiently for my number to be called and reading a book.

 

There is no part of my life that involves sitting in one place for a long period of time reading a book. So, truthfully, I got really excited for jury duty.

 

Please don’t tell anyone I said that.

 

I don’t actually want to serve on a trial though, because that takes way too much time.

 

So I was released around noon and got to spend the afternoon walking around downtown, did a little shopping, went to renew my expired-for-three-months driver’s license, and did a little thrifting.

 

My favorite thrift shop is top secret and in a bad neighborhood. It’s full of gems and I walk away every.single.time with something I love. I will never share this place with anyone, it’s that good.

 

Don’t ask, I won’t tell you.

 

While I was there, I was working on adding to my obsessive book collection, and I came across a fabric-bound notebook that looked like a recipe book. When I started thumbing through it, I realized it was someone’s journal. Specifically, a seventy-eight-year-old woman’s journal.

 

It immediately made me feel guilty for reading it. The very first page was filled with her thoughts on why she needed to get her story down on paper and why she had to do it now, before she started to forget all the best parts.

 

This made my heart hurt.

 

Who was this woman? What were her stories? And how did this book end up at a thrift store?

 

I would like to tell you I bought her journal.I have been known to buy a stranger’s wedding album if I think it might be thrown away. I did not buy her journal. But I’ve thought about it every day since passing it up and I wish I had.

 

This beautiful old woman wanted someone to know her. She needed someone to remember her stories. She could feel her time near its end and she felt such a pull to make sure someone else remembered her and her life.

 

I know that feeling. It is sometimes overwhelming. The feeling to be known, to not be forgotten, to not feel like it was all for nothing.

 

We all need to share our stories; with our kids, with our spouses, with our friends. I want people to be invested in my life and I want to be invested in their lives. And that starts with sharing our stories.

 

I wish I would have bought that journal.



Originally published on Trusty Chucks in February 2013.

http://trustychucks.com/2013/02/to-tell-our-stories/

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Crock Pot Creamy Pierogi

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Crock Pot Creamy Pierogi

Recipe from DailyDIYLife.com via Pinterest

 

Okay, there are a few things you need to know about my cooking style:

  1. If it has more than five ingredients, I can’t be bothered.
  2. Low maintenance cooking is my default setting.
  3. I want my family to eat well, but on a budget.
  4. I love eating, but cooking is one of my least favorite “jobs” as a Mom.
  5. The Crock Pot is my favorite kitchen tool.

Creating our weekly meal plan is a task that I dread but find unavoidable as we are on a budget and busy as two full-time working parents. I don’t love cooking, and I can’t imagine that I ever will; however, I do want to provide my children with nutritious and tasty meals, and I can’t afford to eat out very often. So, every Sunday morning with my cup of coffee in hand I rack my brain and scroll through Pinterest to map out the meals for the week. Lately I have made it a priority to use my Crock Pot for at least three of the six meals I plan. For some reason, getting dinner ready in the morning and forgetting about it all day mitigates the dread that usually sets in at four o’clock when I realize that I still have to cook after working a full day.

This recipe appealed to me because it had a short list of ingredients and required virtually no other steps than “throw everything in the Crock Pot”. My perfect meal.

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Ingredients:

3 boxes of mini frozen Pierogis

4 cups chicken broth (I used stock because I already had some in the fridge)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

8 oz block of cream cheese

1 package of Kielbasa, sliced

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Directions:

Throw everything in the Crock Pot (I wasn’t kidding). Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours. Stir about halfway through cook time.

 

Creamy, comforting, carby, and delicious! This dish was a hit with the whole family, and there was plenty for leftovers for Mom’s weekday lunches. It took less than five minutes to prep, which combined with its deliciousness is plenty of reason for me to add this to our regular meal rotation.

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Oversized DIY Prints

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I love me a good large black and white photo.  Will you find them all over my house?  No.  But I love them and felt it was time…

A couple years ago, we had photos taken when we thought it would be our last session as a family of 3.  And I think it turned out being just that as we didn’t have any more taken of all 3 of us between then and now, but I digress… However, I LOVED the photos but I never know what to do with photos anymore…  Printing photos can also be super expensive! 

So… I figured I’d try the engineer sized prints you can get at your local FedEx or Kinkos.  I’d been wanting to try them forever and this was the perfect opportunity.  I had an empty hall that needed filling, and this was a great affordable, stylish way to bring that area of my home to life. 

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I actually used Office Depot as their online portal was the easiest to use in my opinion.  The photographer, also a friend, gave us the files for the photos, and I loaded them into the online portal world of Office Depot, and hit send.  About $20 and 4 hours later (around $5 for each print), I had 4 large black and white poster sized photos. 

Remember, I’m cheap, so next I headed to IKEA for their Ribba frames that run around $8 (or at least they did at the time. I’m so dreaming of the day when IKEA is in Fishers).

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I sat down at the kitchen table with my Xacto knife, frames, gold scissors, and photos and went to town framing these beauties. 

I’d also like to state that I’m NOT a perfectionist. Don’t judge me, I’m just not.  I don’t have time for that.  To me, imperfect is perfect.  And I wanted to add that in there because these are not perfect.  To the untrained eye (and those who don’t get too close) the quality may look quite great… but if you get up close, there are some blurs and pixelations in some places, but I didn’t mind that.  I actually think it gives it a little character.   Also, I’m sure you can tweak the settings more than I did when it comes to print quality. 

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But there you have it…

Adorable, Affordable, and Artsy.

As a finishing touch we added some old railroad signs above just to anchor the space a bit more. I love it and can’t wait to try another print elsewhere sometime soon!

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Summer Rolls: Recipe of the Week

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This is one of my favorite things to eat.  I love the crunch and freshness.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

Rice Paper Wrappers

1 bunch of romaine lettuce, chopped

1 bunch of basil, chopped

1 bunch of mint, chopped

1 – 2 Carrots, julienne

1 Avocado, sliced

1 Red Bell Pepper, julienne

Rice Noodles

1 Cucumber, julienne

Protein: Tofu, Shrimp, etc.

 

Sauce:

1/4 cup peanut butter

2 Tablespoon of Hoisin Sauce

1 teaspoon of soy sauce

1 teaspoon of fish sauce

1Tablespoon of rice vinegar

1 teaspoon of minced garlic

1 Tablespoon of warm water

1 to 2 Tablespoon of chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon of Sriracha sauce

crushed peanut as garnish

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Directions:

The biggest task of this recipe is the prep work of chopping, chopping, and more chopping.  If you are adding a protein, make sure it is cooked and ready to use.  Cook the rice noodles according to directions.  Boil the water and pour it into a big bowl where you can submerge the wrapper till it is soft.  Place the wrapper on a flat surface and start  with some romaine lettuce and herbs in the middle (make sure there is half an inch not touched on top and bottom) then add noodles, protein, and veggies.  I fold down the top and bottom, then roll like a burrito.  Repeat and have fun with your toppings!

The dipping sauce is easy to make: just throw all of the ingredients in the blender and blend.  This is a wonderful dish for the Summer and can be catered to a variety of dietary needs!

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Fashion's "Rule of Three"

The rule of three or power of three is a principle stating that things that come in threes are funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. The rule of three is often applied in writing, public speaking, and marketing: “Friends, Romans, Countrymen”…“Blood, sweat and tears”…”Real. Comfortable. Jeans.”

The rule of three also applies to aesthetics. Photographers use the “rule of thirds” in their compositions. In home décor, vignettes are often comprised of three items, as it is more pleasing to the eye. When it comes to fashion, incorporating three key pieces into your outfit can turn a boring, basic ensemble into a stylish, pulled-together look. 

To apply the rule of three to your wardrobe, start with a top and bottom, say a shirt and pants, and add a third piece, such as a cardigan, a jacket or vest, or scarf. Or, you can begin with one item, like a dress, and add a statement necklace and striking handbag. Admittedly, the rule of three is easier to apply in the fall and winter months, when layering is practical as well as fashionable. It can be a little harder to implement in the summer while trying to stay cool, but by adding lightweight jackets, vests, scarves and statement jewelry to your summer wardrobe, you can be both stylish and comfortable. 

For example, here I took a basic summer outfit comprised of a T-shirt and denim shorts, and added a gauzy kimono. Still breezy and cool but a little more stylish than the tee and shorts alone. 

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A lightweight cardigan, jacket or vest also makes a great third piece. I wear a LOT of jackets and vests, and I find they are often the key to making an outfit look complete.

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A lightweight scarf, statement necklace, or killer handbag can also be an essential component of a stylish summer outfit. When it’s super hot, even a cute hat can be all you need to up your style factor a notch.

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Next time you are getting dressed, give the rule of three a try. You may be surprised by how much more put together you look and feel. 

 

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5 Ingredient Almond Cake with Fresh Berries: Recipe of the Week

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5 Ingredient Almond Cake with Fresh Berries

Recipe from Skinnytaste

 

With the 4th of July celebration weekend upon us, I wanted to share one of my favorite dessert recipes with you. This simple almond cake is made with just five ingredients (not counting the berries), but don't let its simplicity fool you – it's delicious (and it also happens to be gluten-free)! And, it’s always a crowd pleaser! #fitfuel #payfitforwardwithBigD

 

Ingredients:


3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

⅔ cup sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pinch fine sea salt

2 cups (200 grams) almond flour or almond meal

1 cup mixed berries

Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

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Directions:

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and flour (use almond meal or a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend to keep the cake gluten-free).

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and all but 2 Tablespoons of the sugar. Whisk until the yolks become thick and pale in color, about 1 minute. Whisk in the vanilla extract, and set aside. 

In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a bowl with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites on medium speed until they become opaque, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, and continue to beat the egg whites until they hold medium peaks.  

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With a flexible rubber spatula, stir in about ¼ of the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture (no need to be gentle here). Scrape the remaining egg whites over the yolks, and about half of the almond flour. Gently fold them into the yolks, but only partially. While the mixture still has a few steaks of white left, add the remaining almond flour and fold in, folding until you have a homogeneous batter. Be gentle! Pour the batter into the prepared pan and shimmy until the batter is level.  

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Bake the cake for about 35 minutes, turning the cake after 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and springy to the touch. Let the hot cake cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes; then, run a butter knife along the edges of the cake pan. Invert the cake pan onto the rack, remove the sides and bottom, and peel away the parchment paper. Turn the cake right-side up and allow to cool completely.  

Wash and cut assorted berries. Dust with powdered sugar (optional). Cut into 12 slices and serve with fresh berries.

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Nutritional Information:

Servings: 12 • Calories: 179 • Fat: 11 g • Carb: 17 g • Fiber: 3 g • Protein: 7 g • Sugar: 13 g • Sodium: 39 mg (without salt)  • Cholesterol: 47 mg 

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Ask Amanda: My Monster of a Mother In Law

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My mother-in-law can be pushy, aggressive, and kind of a bully. She always talks about how she is better and holds things over our heads. She has been less than welcoming to me over the years. My husband agrees that she is not a nice person. And, I know saying anything would just be a waste of energy. I don't even know how to respond and am doing my best just to control my tongue.

It's unfortunate when relatives, either biological or by marriage, behave in a way that is below even the most reasonable expectations. Hopefully, the following points can help you feel better about a feel-bad situation.

Draw the Line Somewhere

You're exactly right that speaking up likely won't result in your MIL making any desired changes. You've realized that telling her where to go won't get you anywhere.

But, you don't have to be a doormat either. We often feel like we are supposed to bite our tongues out of respect or to avoid confrontation.

Don't feel obligated to tolerate such toxic behavior just because of the role somebody has in your life.

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A title does not demand more respect than that which is earned.

If you feel the need to respond when others push their opinions or agendas, channel your inner politician and give some of these comments could be:

I appreciate your concern, but we have it under control.

Thanks, I'll make note of that.

Thanks for thinking of us. I'll let you know if we need anything else in the future.

I feel differently, but everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

I'm comfortable with the direction we're headed. 

If the Shoe Fits

We usually get upset by such toxic behavior because we expect someone in that type of role to behave differently. We expect, or at least hope, that a mother would be supportive, loving, and caring.

I lucked out with my own mother-in-law, but I know that many just don't live up to even the most mediocre of expectations.

One way to take the sting out, is to have more realistic expectations. Unfortunately, if you continue to expect her to behave like a "normal mother-in-law", you are just setting yourself up for failure.

It's just the reality of the situation. Don't feel guilty about calling a spade a spade. You didn't make her that way. She has probably been this way for years; long before you married her son.

Distance Makes the Heart Grow Less Offended

It's not always an option to completely cut toxic people from our lives, especially when grandchildren are involved. Just try to do what you can to expose yourself (and your kiddos) to her as little as possible, both in person and online.

There are going to be times when you absolutely cannot avoid being around this person. When that happens, just remember to have realistic expectations and try to care less about what she thinks or says.

Her opinion only has as much value as you give it.

Be A Role Model

Even if they are pushy and aggressive first, we don't want to stoop to their level.

Instead of feeling bad for them, feel better about yourself.

Just the fact that her behavior bothers you already means that you are more caring of others' feelings. Hold your head up and take pride in the fact that you're not so heartless!


What's the worst thing your mother-in-law ever said? Share your misery in the comments below!

Have a question you'd like Amanda to answer? Click HERE to submit to Ask Amanda: theCityMoms Edition.

Thanks for taking the time,

Amanda

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Gnocchi with Corn & Arugula: Recipe of the Week

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Easy, easy, easy… Sometimes we show our super mommy powers and chop fresh vegetables and create homemade masterpieces.  Then, there are other days when we want healthy food that takes minimal effort.  Since the latter is my wheelhouse, I will dazzle you with this recipe that uses pre-made gnocchi, canned or frozen corn, and pre-cut arugula.  
You will need
2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1 pound shelf stable gnocchi  (an example is shown, no dried pasta).
3/4 cup half-and-half or light cream
3 oz cream cheese, cut up
1/2 tsp each of salt, garlic powder, and dried oregano
3 cups arugula
and pepper or crushed red pepper to taste.
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Follow the directions on the gnocchi for cooking, you’ll know it’s done when the gnocchi floats to the top.  Add corn when the first few start floating up and cook for 5 more minutes.  Drain reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.  Do not rinse. Put directly in a big bowl.
Meanwhile in a medium saucepan over medium heat combine the dairy and spices cook stirring frequently for 10 minutes.  Add the pasta water and voila.
Add the cream sauce and arugula to the bowl with the pasta and corn and mix thoroughly.
My picky four year old won't eat the greens but everyone else gobbles it up.  I often double the recipe for my family of six.

 

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Mom of the Month: Laura

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Laura Centeno-Diaz is a CityMom O.G. She has been with the group since the beginning, attending the very first event at the greening of the canal downtown, where she met the group’s founder Jeanine Bobenmoyer. Laura was new to the area, a recent transplant from Iowa, and was eager to meet other moms. Fast forward three years later and Laura is an active member, a former playgroup coordinator, and a working momma who says that theCityMoms has been “fantastic” to meet lots of moms from different walks of life.

Laura spends most of her time balancing a career in higher education and enjoying her almost six-year-old daughter, Amelia. Laura and her husband Mike don’t have family nearby, so the support network she has built within theCityMoms has been invaluable for Laura. She really enjoys the cultural and family-focused activities the group offers.

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During the day, you can find Laura serving as an Academic Advisor to students at IUPUI. Her background is in instructional design and education, and she has nearly a decade of experience in student affairs. She also teaches two first year seminars which focus on a variety of topics, including service learning. Laura has never known anything other than being a working mother and embraces the challenges and advantages it brings. She was raised in Puerto Rico by a working single mother of four children. She appreciates the example her mother set for her and wishes to demonstrate the same for her own daughter. Laura loves working and the identity and sense of accomplishment it gives her.

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When she isn’t working, Laura’s favorite place to be is in the kitchen with her daughter. She loves eating, cooking, and supporting local restaurants. She was also determined to raise an adventurous eater, and so far has been very successful on this front. Laura dreamed of being a chef and owning her own restaurant. She jokes, “I am classically trained by the Food Network and the Cooking Channel.” Her latest adventure involved picking strawberries with her daughter and then figuring out what to do with their harvest. They have been enjoying homemade strawberry shortcake, strawberry popsicles, and strawberry ice cream. They might be strawberry-ed out for the time being.

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Given her level of devotion to her family and the joy on her face when she talks about her daughter, you would probably never guess that Laura never planned to have children. She always enjoyed children but simply never imagined having one of her own. Life, however, sometimes takes us in different directions. She took three pregnancy tests and a blood test with her doctor before she believed the news. Now, Laura says she can’t imagine her life any other way.

 

What 5 items would you bring to a desert island?

  1. Water

  2. Sunscreen

  3. A bag full of good books

  4. An infinite amount of food

  5. A box of cast iron pans for cooking

*This question, although silly, reveals so much about Laura’s personality: her love of food as well as her fundamentally pragmatic nature.

What is currently playing on your iTunes?

I am currently hooked on La Oreja de Van Gogh (Spanish band) and Jesse and Joy (band out of Mexico/Southern California). I have been listening nonstop for the last three weeks.

What are you currently reading?

Picture books for my daughter, haha. I am more of an Audio book gal and have been listening to Room and the latest book by Mindy Kaling.

What is a recent fond mom memory?

I have loved watching the improvement my daughter has shown with her reading. She reads to me now.

Any cringe-worthy moments lately?

Well, nobody heard or saw this, but I was in a public restroom with my daughter and she loudly asked me “Mommy, are you going poopy?”

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Binge watching Netflix. I am currently watching Velvet, it’s a Spanish show but has English subtitles. It’s very Mad Men-esque but focuses on high fashion.

 

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Stay tuned next month to see which CityMom Laura thinks you ought to know!

 

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Summer On A Schedule

School’s out! Now what?

If you’re anything like me, you may find yourself asking that question right about now. I have been blessed to be able to stay home with my kids since they were babies. This past school year was the first time all three of them were in school full-time, so I am really going to cherish our time together this Summer. However, it is a big adjustment having them home all day again, and I did not want to fall into the habit of letting them waste half the day staring at a screen. I am a very organized person who thrives on routine so I created a weekly summer schedule for us to follow. It ensures that we DO something every day and also lets us explore the greater Indianapolis area, a still new-to-us city.

 

Our weekly summer schedule looks like this:

Make Something Monday – This could be anything from crafts to cooking. One week my youngest son decided to create a Power Rangers costume out of cardboard and we all helped with it. This week we are making homemade lemonade. I love that we are starting out the week by getting our creative juices flowing!

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Take a Hike Tuesday – So far we have literally gone hiking on Tuesdays, but this will also be our day to just take a quick day trip. One of the great things about living in Indiana, “The Crossroads of America,” is that there are so many fun places to visit on a tank of gas. So far we have explored Brown County State Park and the Nashville, IN area, as well as Eagle Creek Park. We plan to visit Chicago, Cincinnati and the Indiana Dunes as well.

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Water Wednesday – Wednesdays we’ll do anything from swimming at the pool at the Y, to visiting the water park at the Monon Center, to just running around outside with water guns or playing on the slip n slide. Luckily, it’s been blazing hot this summer so Water Wednesday has been very welcome (say that 5 times fast!)

Thinking Thursday – Thursdays we visit the library to stock up on new books, and then we head to piano lessons. We plan to do some fun science experiments on Thinking Thursday as well. Requests so far are for the exploding watermelon and the Mentos/Coke experiment (I see an explosion theme here.)

Fun Friday – Fridays could be anything…just playing with friends outside or doing something fun in the Indy area. Last week we headed downtown and had lunch at Bazbeaux’s and then climbed to the top of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.

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I recognize that we all need our down time (mama included), so I also set up some ground rules for access to screens. Every day, they have a checklist of tasks they must accomplish before they can have screen time. I wanted to be sure that they didn’t experience too much of that summer slide in knowledge, so I included things like reading, math worksheets, and musical instrument practice. They also have a daily small chore to do so that we stay on top of housework since having three boys at home all day can equal chaos.

I hope these ideas will help you organize a fun and fruitful summer with your kiddos. Make like Phineas and Ferb and find a good way to spend those 104-ish days of summer vacation, before school comes along to end it!

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Short Rib Wrap & Asian Slaw: Recipe of the Week

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My husband is an RN and works 12-hr night shifts. He works all weekend, has one night off, and is back at it for two nights. For me, this means a lot of meals for just me and my three year-old. On Friday night I felt inspired to take our leftovers and mix it up. I had made tortillas so my husband would have a bread product for packing dinners and leftover short ribs. When combined with random ingredients from the fridge, they became some pretty tasty Asian-inspired wraps.

This isn’t the first time I have made something like this, but I did try a few new ingredients since it wasn’t a part of my shopping plan. That’s the great thing about wraps – versatility. I encourage you to try a variety of proteins and veggies! I ended up using Brussels sprouts in the slaw and it was pretty good, although I must say I prefer, and recommend, green or purple cabbage. I also never need an excuse to eat hoisin sauce, one of the few processed foods I just can’t relinquish.

I served the slaw on the side for my daughter, and she didn’t touch it, but at least I tried!

 

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Ingredients:

Makes 2 servings

2 6 to 8-inch tortillas

1 cup of shredded short ribs (or chicken, pork, mini shrimp)

2 Tbsp hoisin sauce

 

For the slaw:

6 Brussels sprouts, shredded (or 1 cup of shredded cabbage)

2 radishes finely chopped

1 large carrot, shredded

2 tablespoons cilantro, minced

 

For the dressing:

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

½ tablespoon soy sauce

1 small clove of garlic, mined

1 inch of ginger grated or a dash of dried

½ lime, juiced

Salt and pepper to taste

 

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Assemble and toss your veggies. Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with slaw. Mix beef with hoisin sauce. Spoon half into each tortilla and top with slaw. Garnish with chopped peanuts or cashews.

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Cats Meet Kid

“Jack! Let go of Kit Kat!” That is my rather exhausted and exasperated statement as I wonder why the cats don’t run away when he starts heading for them. How in the world do you teach a 1-year-old to be gentle with animals? As a first time mother I was determined when Jack was born that I was not going to let him pinch, grab, ride, step on, or do anything else that my dogs and cats wouldn’t enjoy. Turns out that is easier said than done. So now the question is how do I maintain my own sanity while preventing my cats from being tortured by a one-year-old.

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I admit that with a background in behavior, I was sure we would all live in peaceful harmony with me blissfully teaching Jack gentle touches (haha, yeah right). When Jack was a baby and immobile we were fine. I just had to keep the animals away from him. Now that he is walking, running, and grabbing, it is a whole other ball game. He is also very independent and doesn’t want help. He likes to do things his own way and in his own time. The cats are his new favorite toy and pinching and pulling is his new favorite activity.

We moved to a new house recently and even though the cats now have an upstairs and a basement, they prefer to remain on the main floor where us humans also spend most of our time. I admit I was lax in watching Jack with the cats because they are able to leave the room whereas the dogs can’t. The problem I discovered is the cats don’t leave the room. In fact, they do the exact opposite. They flop helplessly on the floor and meow for me to intervene.

Jack has also decided that pinching, squishing, and tail pulling are fun ways to spend his time. I decided quickly that I needed to change tactics when I heard my cat meowing and turned around to see that Jack had managed to get his hands on her tail and had no plans to let go. As I quickly pried Jacks fingers off of her, and pushed away visions of tail amputations that danced in my head, I decided to try something else.

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  1. Give the cats an escape route. Since the cats actually refuse to move when Jack is headed toward them, we set up the cat tree on the main floor so at least they could escape upward. I reward them with treats when they are up on the cat tree periodically.
  2. Polite behavior applies to everyone. I am more likely than anyone else to tolerate Jack jumping on me, pinching, and playing rough with me because I know he is a toddler and is simply behaving like one. I have had to adjust my response to him. If he bites, pinches, or hits, I immediately walk away. So far that has been working, he doesn’t do those things as often any more.
  3. Practice “gentle”. We started this when he was an infant and he started grabbing my favorite neckless and yanking on it. I would hold his hand and let him touch it with one finger. Somewhere in his little baby brain this seems to have stuck because he will approach the cats with one finger Then, if he lets me help, he gets to pet the kitty (or puppy). Often though that one finger quickly becomes a hand grab so I have to watch carefully. We also practice this with touch and feel books on the rare occasion he sits down with me to look at a book.
  4. Give Jack another outlet. Stuffed animals are great for him to squish and drag around the house, so I keep a lot of those scattered around to redirect him when he starts acting like he might grab a kitty.
  5. Give yourself a break. This is the most important rule. If I need a break from being referee, then I take one. The cats can hang out in another room for a while, or Jack and I can head out for a walk. I am pretty sure I put this in every post involving pets that I write because it is that important!

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I use the same guidelines with my dogs, but I admit I was much less watchful with the cats due to their ability to leave the room. My cats are really very tolerant and good with Jack, and I want to keep it that way. As a veterinarian with a special interest in behavior, helping families build positive relationships with their pets is an important part of what I do. I am reminded with Jack, that there’s not a one size fits all approach to this and I need to adjust my plan as Jack grows. 

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What He Meant To Say

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Summer, for us, is a changing of the guard.

I spend the summer at home with the girls and my husband goes back to work. After ten months of being the main caretaker for our two daughters, Daddy heads off to kill bugs for about sixty hours a week.

We are ships passing in the night more often than not.

I keep the girls busy with gym trips, pool time, bike rides, and the occasional movie-and-PJ day. It’s during these two months that I get caught up on all the things that get neglected during the school year: heavy duty house cleaning, closet clean-outs, DIY projects, and home improvements. It sometimes feels like a mad dash to get as much done as possible before I get that return-to-school letter.

On the first day of my summer break and the last day before Chris headed back to work, he mentioned how he thought the transition for the girls might be rough. Going from Daddy-all-the-time to full-time-Mommy. I said he was being dramatic and that it’s not like the girls haven’t seen me for the past ten months. I might have even been a little insulted that he thought they’d miss him and not be okay with me.

Fast-forward a week and Chris has only seen the girls two nights in the past five. With late nights at work and practices with the band for weekend worship, he was gone. A lot.

Saturday night rolls around, Chris is at church and I’m at home. The girls and I spend about four hours outside, playing with every toy in the garage while Harper works up a really nice sidewalk chalk/snot mixture on her face. Chris called to say hi in between church services and Harper wanted to talk to him.

Right now, Harper has this really cute, high-pitched, baby voice. She speaks softly most of the time and I would describe her voice as what a really cute mouse would sound like if it could talk. It’s precious and helps her get away with lots of things she shouldn’t. I know tht later this will come back to bite us in the butt.

So she gets on the phone with her Daddy and tells him three things: “outside playin’,” “miss you, Dada,” and “I love you too.”

And then I hear it.

Chris’ voice cracking as he tells her he misses her too and he loves her so much.

And what I don’t hear, but I know from the tone of his voice is what Chris meant about transitions was about him. About a daddy that was going to miss his girls so much he wanted to tell me, but he didn’t know the right words. That he was dreading going back to work because he knew it would take him away from them for most of the summer. And he knew it would be hard on him.

Maybe he would have been able to tell me that if I didn’t respond immediately with sarcasm and thoughts about myself.

And I’m amazed that, in spite of myself, I was able to pick such a good one.

 

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Broccoli and Kale Slaw: Recipe of the Week

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I fell in love after trying a sample at Trader Joe’s.  We love getting fresh produce at farmer markets and now in our own garden!  This is a tasty and healthy side dish or main meal!  Enjoy.

 

Ingredients:

1 to 2 Broccoli crowns

1 to 2 bunches of Kale

1 bunch of Radicchio

1 – 2 Carrots

Sunflower Seeds

Dried Cranberry

Slaw dressing

Granny Smith Apple (optional)

Wasabi mayo (optional)

 

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Directions:

Chop up your broccoli, kale, and radicchio into bite sizes. Shred the carrot.  Add all the ingredients together.  If you like a kick add some wasabi mayo.  I like adding apple for a crunch.  You can always add whatever you like to it.  Eat right away or let it sit in the fridge to set the flavors in.

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Checking Off the List: Office Makeover

I don’t know about you, but I have a LIST…

A list of all major things that should be happening around my home and probably should have happened five years ago when we moved in…

This list includes paint kitchen and bathroom cabinets, fix trim in all rooms, new carpet upstairs, redo pantry/office, fix landscaping, etc… You get the idea… I could go on forever probably!  

But I recently finished one of those tasks on the list and let me tell you it feels sooooo good!

Which one?!  Well, I finally made the little office space we use in our pantry into an actual office space!  Yay!  And the best part?  It only cost me about $150 TOTAL.  I consider myself a queen of Craigslist and pride myself on not paying full price often; however, in this case I used a lot of what I already had.  

Let’s start with our before…

This spot is right off of our garage and used to be more like a dropping spot/mudroom/desk area.  It’s not a huge spot, but it’s where a washer and dryer would have gone had we not put them upstairs.  Anyways, this is what it looked like in there when we started:

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First task for the office pantry: Paint.

(already had) $0.

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Second Task: Fix up desk.

Desk & Spray Paint - had

Marble Contact Paper - 2 rolls

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Third Task: Hang Shelves

Around $75

6 white brackets - $4.95 each

2 pieces of wood cut to size $19 each

Stain - had

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And that’s all!  While it did take most of the weekend due to painting, I’m really happy with how it turned out!  It feels so good to have a calm place to work where I can shut the door if I need to AND I’ve finally checked something off our to do list!  I think I am more productive because of it, and it was a great way to express my love for decor!  I love how it turned out!

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There’s even a spot for Ells, her bags & artwork!

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Until next time!  Wonder what trouble my “nesting” will get me into next?

 

Xo,

Abby

 

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Chicken and Avocado Salad: Recipe of the Week

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Chicken and Avocado Salad with Lime and Cilantro: {Pinterest}

With the official start of Summer just around the corner, we’ve already had a few hot days, with lots more to come! I love salads all year round, but when it’s hot outside, a cool salad makes a perfect lunch. Leftover rotisserie chicken is one ingredient that is versatile in many recipes. It also keeps the cooking time to a minimum so I can spend more time with my family!

This recipe I’ve made time and time again since my bestie, Lisa, made it for me years ago! It’s quick. It’s healthy. It’s SIMPLE!!! And, it’s always a crowd pleaser!

 

Total Time: 20 min. Cooking Time: None
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked chicken {I used a rotisserie chicken}, shredded into large pieces
2 medium avocados, diced
2 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice, separated
Salt, to taste {I didn't use too much salt because you can always add more at the table}
¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro {or chop it more coarsely if you prefer}
2 Tbsp light mayo {use an approved mayo if you’re Paleo}

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Directions:

Shred the chicken apart until you have 2 cups of chicken shredded into fairly large chunks.   Dice the avocados into medium-sized pieces; mix with 1 Tbsp of the lime juice, and season avocado with salt to taste.  Thinly slice the green onion and finely chop the cilantro.  Mix mayo and 1 Tbsp lime juice to make the dressing.

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Put the chicken into a bowl large enough to hold all the salad ingredients.  Add the sliced green onions and dressing and toss until all the chicken is coated with dressing.  Add the avocado and any lime juice in the bottom of the bowl and gently combine with the chicken.  Then add the chopped cilantro and gently mix into the salad, just until it is barely combined.

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Serve right away or chill for a while before serving.  This could be served inside pita bread or sandwich bread, or inside crisp lettuce cups, but I prefer it simply as a salad. 

 

 

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 137 • Total Fat: 4.6 g • Saturated Fat: 1 g • Cholesterol: 56 mg • Sodium: 98 mg • Total Carbohydrate: 2.3 g • Protein: 20.5 g • Calcium 2% • Iron 4%

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Playground Fitness

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Get Fit at the Playground!

 

With summer here already and the temperatures finally warming up, it’s a great time to get outside with your little ones and enjoy all the parks around Hamilton County! And while you are there playing with your adorable kids, you might as well get in a little workout!

 

I'd like to share some fun ways that you can get fit at your neighborhood playground! 

 

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Cardio Jumps

Standing next to a balance beam or another low ledge, such as the side of a sandbox, then hop sideways over it. Jump back and forth continuously for one minute, landing with knees slightly bent to absorb the impact. If your little one is old enough, you can hold their hands so you can both jump together and make a game out if it!

 

Swing Plank with Push

To work your arms and core muscles, stand about two feet in front of a swing, placing both forearms in the middle of the seat. Slowly lean forward, pushing the swing away from you until body is straight. Hold for three seconds. Next, use arms and abs to bring the swing back in front of you. Have your little one on the swing next to you, so they can have fun as well, while you get a great core and arm workout!

 

Ladder Squat

To work on your hips, thighs and buns, climb halfway up a jungle gym ladder and lightly grasp the handrails. Slowly lower your butt until thighs are parallel to the ground; hold for three seconds, keeping abs engaged and squeezing lower-body muscles. Carefully return to start position. While you are doing this exercise, have your little one on the opposite side of the ladder standing or in their stroller so you can play a fun game of peek-a-boo!

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Strawberry Basil Lemonade: Recipe of the Week

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All this hot weather has gotten us screaming for a nice cold glass of lemonade!  With strawberries in season and basil blooming, this is one of our favorite lemonades.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Lemonade

Handful of Basil

1 container of strawberries

Ice

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Instructions:

You can make your own lemonade or buy some.  To make an entire pitcher, add all the strawberries and basil. 

Use a wooden spoon to muddle them. (Smash them up.)  Once it is muddled, you can add your lemonade and ice.  Voila, a delicious and refreshing treat!

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Mom of the Month: Trisha

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It is hard to believe that this CityMom ever described herself as shy considering that she now serves as the voice for The Riley Children’s Foundation and performs regularly in local musical theater. Trisha Shepherd had her first solo performance as a munchkin kid in a local production of Wizard of Oz, and from that point forward she was “absolutely hooked”. She developed her voice and has been using it proudly ever since.

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Mom to three busy children—Calvin, 13; Clara, 10; and Daisy May, 6—Trisha is always on the move. “My life is very busy. It’s nonstop, but I’m not complaining”. Trisha is used to being busy. Before serving in her current role at Riley, Trisha worked for many years as a news anchor. Although she was incredibly successful, Trisha struggled with the demands her career put on her family. She grew tired of missing evenings with her family and the rigidity of her schedule. So, she decided to make a change and leave her career. The transition was big and at times scary, but from it came exciting opportunities. Trisha published Know When To Run last Summer, which chronicles her struggle with and decision to leave her job as a news anchor. 

Trisha is enjoying this new chapter in her life as a busy professional, but one who finally gets to spend lots of quality time with her children. Her son plays on a traveling baseball team, which can be quite demanding, and she is adjusting to life as a single parent. Trisha says she is learning to be humble and ask for help when she needs it and recognize that she doesn’t have to do everything.

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Her job as the Lead Storyteller for the Riley Children’s Foundation is right up her alley. It is journalism at the core, according to Trisha, and she has “the best stories to tell.” Another great perk of her job is the flexibility that allows her to attend her son’s baseball games, freelance for Indy’s Child magazine, and to participate in her other love: musical theater. Trisha is currently rehearsing for the show Billy Elliot in which she plays Bill’s dead mother. The show will be performed at Marian University. Trisha tries to perform in at least one show a year, and now her daughters are getting involved, making it a family affair.

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Trisha describes her personal mom style as laid back. She said, “I embrace going for it and doing what you love even when it’s challenging.” She is not afraid of a little mess and chaos. She recently threw her daughter’s birthday party on Mother’s Day, which is emblematic of her relaxed and whimsical parenting style. She said it was the only day where there weren’t a dozen other plans already, so she figured why not? She doesn’t like to overthink things.

Trisha has enjoyed her involvement with theCityMoms. She likes that the group can be “as much or as little as you want it to be.” She appreciates that she can meet such a variety of people and “network with supportive women”. She has especially enjoyed practicing her Spanish with certain members of the group and meeting people that she wouldn’t ordinarily cross paths with in her daily life.

What does the future hold for Trisha? She would like to publish another book. She will continue to tell the touching and emotional stories about the amazing work being done at Riley Hospital, and she will embrace the business of being a single mother to three busy children. She said, “Enjoy what you have even if it’s simple.”

And now for the important questions…

Q) What five items would you bring to a desert island?

1. Piano

2. Mini Mexican restaurant

3. Good wine

4. Her kids

5. A hammock

Q) What is currently playing on your ITunes right now?

The Billy Elliot soundtrack, in particular “The Letter”

Q) What are you currently reading?

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Q) What is a fond recent mom memory?

Throwing a Mother’s day birthday party for my six year old daughter. It was the only free day ;) My 10 year old made me a bouquet of flowers from her last show. They were wilting and near death, but the gesture was so sweet.

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Q) What has been a cringe-worthy moment lately?

Her son texted her saying he urgently needed a specific piece of masculine sports equipment. She rushed to bring it to him in the middle of a muddy field. She is sure he was mortified.

Q) What is your guilty pleasure?

“It’s awful, but watching “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” with some friends and some wine.”

 

Stay tuned next month to see which CityMom Trisha thinks you should know!

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Ask Amanda: Child Anxiety

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This is a combined question from two concerned moms.

Q) My five year old has started showing signs of anxiety, stomach hurts every night at lights out. How do I support her without being either dismissive or enabling?

I'm interested in learning more about this, too. My almost 5 year old gets overwhelmed easily and has a hard time calming down. I wonder if he has anxiety, too.

A) Anxiety can be an underlying cause of a variety of undesired behaviors in children, from inattention to sadness and withdrawal. Read more about the signs of anxiety in children HERE.

What Not To Say

You’re not alone in your concerns about being too dismissive or enabling. Often, parents are unsure how to respond when their child bombards them with worries and fears.

Avoid statements like, "It will be okay" or "Don't worry about it" or “It’s not a big deal.” These can minimize their feelings.

Instead, we want to help them identify what they're feeling and show empathy. We want them to know that even if a feeling is uncomfortable and overwhelming, we can still figure out a way to resolve it.

Try these more reassuring statements instead, "I can see you're upset" or "I can tell this is a big deal for you."

We can acknowledge and help them label their feelings in this way without encouraging the anxiety. Labeling can help them seem more concrete and easier to resolve, rather than just some vague, confusing discomfort.

Encourage Self-Help

Of course we want our children to feel safe and supported. We can do so more effectively by helping them generate reassuring statements for themselves, rather than relying on us to do it for them.

Trying asking questions that challenge the irrationality of the fear. “How likely is it that [insert fear/worry] will happen?” Or, “What are the odds that your fear will come true?”

A simple example might be if they are afraid of the dark or don’t want to go to sleep at night. We can reassure them about all the times they were in the dark or slept by themselves and nothing bad happened.

Ask about things they can do to feel less afraid. Or ask what might help them feel safer. Maybe they would like an extra blanket or stuffed animal. 

If they're worried about a test or grade, ask them what they can do to feel more confident. 'What could you do to feel more prepared/confident?'

If they can't think of anything, ask "Would you feel better if you studied more?"

Sometimes, if the child is mature enough to articulate their needs, we can simply ask, "How can I help you?" or simply say, "Let me know how I can help."

We want to encourage self-sufficiency, but we also want them to know we are here, if and when, they need us. We don’t always have to jump to their rescue. If we are confident in their ability to handle it, then they will be to.

If they're already pretty upset, just listening (and a hug or two) can work wonders. As they talk it out, they might be able to discover a solution.

Super Powers

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Try teaching your kiddo some Fear Fighting Super Powers, like deep breathing.

Have them pretend there's a balloon in their belly, inhaling to blow it up and exhaling to let the air out. There's a cute Sesame Street video on YouTube with Elmo, Colbie Caillat, and Common singing a song about "belly breathing." Check it out HERE

Another Super Power is to use progressive muscle relaxation.  

One kid-friendly strategy is to pretend they are an uncooked piece of spaghetti, all rigid and straight. Then, they go limp, like cooked spaghetti, to relax all over. Each time, have them count to five before switching.

They can also try it with different body parts. Start with their feet by curling their toes tight, while inhaling, and then exhale as they relax their feet. They can progressively do this with all their parts from bottom to top or head to toe.

Doing these exercise a few times should relax them or at least calm them down enough to have a more rational conversation about their fears. It might just distract them enough that they forget the whole thing!

I love these techniques because kiddos can do them anywhere without necessary equipment. Added bonus, they work for mom and dad, too!

What super powers have you found helpful to fight your kiddo’s fears? Share in the comments below!

Thanks for taking the time,

Amanda

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Crispy Glazed Tofu Bok Choy: Recipe of the Week

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There are many things I would like to take credit for.  Most I cannot, like this recipe, totally stolen and only slightly modified. However, I can take credit for finding a recipe that had all four kids asking for seconds of tofu and bok choy.  This is delicious, and if you cringe at the thought of tofu, consider substituting diced chicken. After all, the secret is in the sauce.
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Ingredients for the tofu:
14 oz package go extra firm tofu
1/4 cup plum sauce
3 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp soy sauce (we use low sodium)
1 Tbsp rice wine or cooking wine
1 Tbsp sesame oil
If you have never worked with tofu before, there are a few things you must do: 
1. Open and drain the package
2. Take the tofu out and lay it on a plate or a cutting board with a paper towel under it
3. Place another towel on top of it, and then put something solid on it, like two plates or a pan, and squeeze
That’s it, easy peasy.  Just let the water squeeze out until you are ready to use it.  15-30 minutes.
In the meantime, add all the ingredients other than the oil to a bowl and whisk together.  Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat until it shimmers.  It’s time to cube your tofu!  This is truly one of the most satisfying and calming kitchen chopping routines you can do.  I can’t explain it…
Add tofu to the pan in a single layer.  Do not stir for three minutes in order to get a nice brown crust, then go to town.  Stir frequently for the next 6-8 minutes until tofu is browned on all sides.  Add the sauce and stir well, cooking for 2-3 minutes.  You want everything covered and caramelized.
Ingredients for the bok choy:
*you may want to follow the recipe in the link, but I do a simple preparation
2tsp sesame oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 baby bok choy
Chop the bok choy in half length wise.  Coat a skillet over medium high heat with the oil.  Sauté the garlic and then add the bok choy.  Cook for 3 minutes until wilted and bright green.  Add chicken broth and cover.  Steam until tender.
That’s it!  I did add toasted sesame seeds because I was feeling ambitious and I already had some.  Enjoy!
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Dogs and Kids: What You Need to Know

May 15th through May 21st is national dog bite prevention week. As a veterinarian I will tell you that all dogs bite given the right (or wrong) circumstances, and children are at the biggest risk of being bitten. The most common behaviors that lead to dog bites towards kids are ones that, to us, are extremely normal. For babies and toddlers, the biggest risk factors include dogs guarding food/toys, toddlers falling or stepping on the dog, or pulling on the dog’s fur, ears, or tail. For older children bites tend to be triggered by hugging and kissing the dog, or petting the dog in a way or at a time the dog doesn’t like. As a mom, I want everyone in my household to be safe, healthy, and happy (this last one is not always a reasonable goal, I realize).

The biggest thing to remember is that most bites come from dogs that kids know. Please check out the website www.stopthe77.com for a really great video on how to look at kids’ behavior from the dog’s perspective and for some great resources on dogs and kids. I also recommend my favorite books, “Living with Kids and Dogs… Without Losing Your Mind” by Colleen Pelar and “Raising Puppies and Kids Together” by Pia Silvani and Lynn Eckhardt.

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Rusty and Torchy showing off their sit stay.

 

Now that all the important facts and figures are out of the way, I really do believe that having dogs and kids under the same roof should be fun. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t effort involved in keeping the relationship happy, there is. I don’t always feel like training my dogs so that they learn to be calm around Jack or helping Jack pet the dogs in a way that is nice and not painful/terrifying. So, when I need to take a break, I do. Seeing them enjoy their time together is well worth the effort I put in though.

Having a toddler and two high energy dogs is very different from what our household was like when Jack was a baby. Jack now occupies the same space as the dogs, and his interest in them can be painful. As a mom who has been pinched and bitten (rarely) and had her glasses forcefully removed from her face on many occasions, I am well aware that his love can be painful. He is also a very enthusiastic hugger, which I love, but would pretty much terrify my dogs. I understand that he is a toddler, and he doesn’t know any better. If he did that to my dogs, however, they would just think the small strange dog-like tiny person was hurting them, so this behavior is actively prevented. I want the dogs to see Jack as a tiny treat dispenser and for them to know that good things happen when Jack is around.

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Kit Kat is the best with Jack and helps us teach him to be gentle.. No squishing or pinching the kitty either!

 

Here are some ideas for building a happy relationship between your dogs and your kids:

  1. Training should always be fun! Get your kids involved in training. How much your kids will be able to be involved will depend on their age. My essential life skills for dogs are to be able to sit, stay, come, and walk politely on a leash in a wide variety of circumstances. Plus, there are all kinds of exciting dog sports and activities available. As soon as Jack is able to drop treats on the floor he will start helping me train the dogs. I think we will use cheerios in case Jack decides to eat some of the treats.
  2. Practice gentle touches. We are working with Jack on gentle touches (flat open hand, ideally with only two fingers) using board books and stuffed animals, and of course John and myself. If Jack is petting the dogs, he has to let me help him or we go do something else. There is no grabbing, pinching, squishing, hugging, or laying on my dogs.
  3. Promote togetherness. Walks and fetch are great for this because they are together but not touching. For fetch I hold Jack because I don’t want him knocked over by my rambunctious dogs. Eventually we will work on teaching him to play fetch with the dogs.
  4. Set the ground rules. Both kids and dogs should have a set of rules they have to follow that encourage polite calm behavior towards each other. These rules will be different depending on your kids and your household, but they should involve doing things both kids and dogs enjoy. What types of play/behavior is appropriate will change as your kids get older but will always depend on what your dog enjoys.
  5. Take a break. Your dogs and your kids should have things to do that don’t involve each other. Rusty and Torchy have a great new game where I sprinkle cheerios in the back yard and they wander around eating them for hours. I am wondering how we haven’t been doing that their whole life! And when the dogs are busy with their puzzle toys and Jack is asleep, John and I can even sit and have a glass of wine with no interruptions!
  6. Ask questions and get help when you need it. Look for certified trainers in your area or ask your veterinarian. I am always happy to answer questions and point you in the direction of someone who can help you.

 

 

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Homemade Mac and Cheese: Recipe of the Week

Hello, lovelies! Did you know it is almost as easy to make your own macaroni and cheese as it is to open that famous blue box? Really, it’s true! And you don’t have to use a powdered cheese substance! You just need my go-to recipe below. My daughter loves this warm, cheesy comfort food. I love that I can add in meat or veggies, and she will eat them! You could also use the cheese sauce over veggies and skip the pasta.

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Prep time: Less than five minutes

 

Cook time: 15 minutes

 

Servings: 4, or maybe less depending on how you define a serving!

 

 

 

Ingredients:

 

2 Tbsp flour (I have used whole wheat, and it’s great!)

 

2 Tbsp butter

 

½ tsp of dry mustard (optional)

 

1 cup of milk (I use whole)

 

1 ½ cups of dried elbow macaroni, or any appropriate pasta

 

1 to 1 ½ cups of shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

 

Salt and pepper to taste

 

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Suggested optional mix-ins: shredded chicken or pork, tuna, deli meat, peas, diced avocado, jalapenos, toasted breadcrumbs

 

 

Instructions:

 

Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Make sure to add plenty of salt to the water. That’s how the Italians do it, and it really makes a difference. If your pasta is fully cooked before you finish your sauce, make sure you save a tablespoon or so of the cooking water for your sauce and do not run water over the pasta.

 

Meanwhile, melt the butter in another saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk briskly for 1-2 minutes until it is fully incorporated and begins to turn a golden brown color. This is called a roux. Whisk in the mustard, if using. I like the flavor it adds.

 

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Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in the milk. Bring the heat back up to medium and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken (it should hold its form on a spoon).

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Gradually stir in the grated cheese. A note on cheese: I have only shredded my own cheese off the block for this. You can use bagged shredded cheese but it may not result in as creamy a sauce because of the anti-caking agent. You also are not limited to just cheddar cheese! I have used a combination of cheddar and parmesan, gruyere, Monterey Jack, you name it.

 

 

Mix in the reserved pasta water and then the pasta. Season, add your mix-ins and serve!

 

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If She Only Knew...

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A while ago, I posted a picture on Instagram of a flower my daughter gave me. She handed it to me, gripped in her chubby little hand, asking me to keep it in my pocket all day while I was at work so I could remember her while I was away.

 

I smiled sweetly at her and stuck it in my pocket, completely in awe of a little girl that means so much to me and is so much a part of who I am. Of course, little thing, I would love to carry this bent, fake flower in my pocket for you. I couldn’t believe she had to ask me to remember her while I was gone. I know she’s just five and it’s not that deep for her, but for me, it is.

 

As a mom, it was big and deep and encompassing.

 

And until the moment she has her own children, she won’t get it. She won’t understand the depth to which everything I do revolves around her (and her sister) in some way. She can’t understand no matter what I’m thinking about, my children are there on the edge or front and center, taking up space, love, worry, and joy. They are in my work conversations, my drive home, my time at the gym, and my quick run to the grocery store. They are in my emails, my weekend plans, my hopes for the future, and my forever.

 

I am their mother, and it’s not just because I birthed them. It’s not just because I have constantly bruised shins because they climb on me and run into me all the time. It’s not because they look like me, act like me, laugh like me.

 

I am their mother because I decided to make their lives my life’s work. Not my only work, but my greatest work, my best work. So everything I do, whether I consciously think about it or not, is for or about them.

 

They will not understand this--can’t possibly fathom this--until they are older and have their own kids. Until their lives revolve around little ones who rely on them totally, and who slowly turn into bigger ones that don’t really need them as much. They will learn this one day, just as I had to, just as my mother before me. They don’t know and then, suddenly, they will know, and it will take their breath away. And they will never breathe quite the same again.

 

My children are in my bones, my being, and my blood. They’re in my laugh, my tears, and my dreams.

 

And, as of last recently, they’re in my pocket, too.

 

 

Posted originally on Trusty Chucks in November 2014.

http://trustychucks.com/2014/11/ifsheonlyknew/

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Chunky Rainbow Salsa: Recipe of the Week

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Recipe from the Beachbody Blog.

With warmer weather rapidly approaching, we are all thinking about grilling out more regularly, attending neighborhood parties, going on vacations, and spending lots of time by the pool. With all of these celebrations, it’s easy to over-indulge and regret it later. An easy tip I use to keep myself on track with my health and fitness is to bring one of my own dishes to share. That way, I know all of the ingredients, and I am in complete control of what goes in my body! {Type A personality here!}

This is one of my fave recipes to take to a summer party! It’s quick. It’s healthy. It’s SIMPLE!!! And, my bowl is always EMPTY within minutes! It’s easy to #tastetherainbow with this vibrantly colored salsa made with tomato, mango, avocado and bell peppers. #fitfuel #payfitforwardwithBigD

 

Total Time: 15 min. Prep Time: 15 min. Cooking Time: None

Yield: 8 servings, about ⅓ cup each

Ingredients:

1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped {*I use 2 tomatoes}
1 medium green (or red or yellow) bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 medium mango, peeled, cut into ¾-inch cubes {*if you can’t find a ripe mango, frozen works great, too}
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped {*I use only ½ onion; personal preference}
3 fresh cilantro sprigs, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 medium avocado, cut into ¾-inch cubes

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Directions:

Combine tomato, bell pepper, mango, onion, cilantro, and lime juice in a medium bowl; mix well.

Gently fold in avocado.

Serve immediately.

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*** Want to make it spicy? Add finely chopped jalapeño or habanero. Serve with baked corn tortilla chips; eat as a side salad; or spoon over grilled fish, chicken, or pork chops.

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Nutritional Information:

Calories: 68 • Total Fat: 4 g • Saturated Fat: 1 g • Cholesterol: 0 mg • Sodium: 4 mg • Total Carbohydrate: 9 g • Dietary Fiber: 3 g • Sugars: 5 g • Protein: 1 g

 

21 Day Fix Containers: 1 green + ½ purple

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Get Into the Swing at Mini Golf at the IMA

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Okay, so I need to admit that I am a little competitive. And by “a little competitive” I mean that one of the most infamous stories in my family is when a ten-year-old me threw the Candy Land board across the room because I lost. I wasn’t allowed to participate in game night for a while. “A little competitive” means that my husband and I decided that for the sake of our marriage we probably shouldn’t play tennis together anymore after one too many rackets were flung in his general direction. What can I say? This girl likes to play, but I like to win even more. So when I was invited to the preview of Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Mini Golf Exhibit with some fellow writers and Moms, I was nervous that I would not handle myself with the composure and dignity I wish to convey to friends. Much to my relief, I was so busy admiring the art and having fun, that I forgot to be completely competitive. Don’t worry, though, I will definitely still brag about my hole-in-one.

 

Here’s what you need to know:

 

What:

The Mini Golf course at the IMA “combines art with playful competition” and features 18 holes designed and created by local artists, all honoring Indiana’s distinct history and culture. The course also marks the bicentennial not only of the state of Indiana but also of miniature golf.

Scott Stulen, the curator of the exhibition and IMA’s curator of audience experiences and performance, welcome a preview crowd to the course Thursday evening. He calls the exhibit “a juxtaposition of art exhibition and whimsical sport, offering an engaging experience for the entire family.”

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When:

The course is open to the public May 10 through October 30 and is included with general admission to the museum. The course can be found outside on the IMA Alliance Sculpture Court,  just around the corner from the Star Studio. The course will also be open before the summer film series.

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Who:

This exhibit really is fun for the whole family. Take your significant other for a date night and stay to enjoy the beautiful museum. If you are anything like my husband and I, you will be keeping score.

 

Take the kids and enjoy a leisurely game. The holes are bright, colorful, and creative, so even if they aren’t destined for the pro circuit, they are sure to enjoy the visual adventure. The exhibit is outside, and it is sturdy, so even young children will probably enjoy the experience. When you are finished, head right inside to the Star Studio and wind down with story time or play with the giant Lite Brite wall.

 

Don’t Miss:

Every single hole on the 18-hole course is quite literally a work of art, but I had a few favorites:

Vonnegut Doodles-This gorgeous hole recreates the author and Indiana-native’s writing room. A quote from Vonnegut himself is featured as well as a wire sculpture of the artist in profile. It doesn’t hurt that he is one of my all-time favorite writers.

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Shadow-Tailed Scourge-Depicting the 1822 “Great Squirrel Invasion” of Indiana (yes, you read that right), this one is just fun. Who doesn’t love huge squirrels, and I can just imagine how much my kids will like this one!

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Back Home Again-The beautiful wind chimes make this hole not only visually stunning but also easy on the ears. It almost makes you want to miss to keep hearing those sweet sounds (almost).

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Covered Bridges of Indiana-I got a hole-in-one here, so naturally it is the most brilliant hole and my favorite ;)

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And lastly…

Lil Golf-Because I am not an Indiana native and apparently because I have been living under a rock, i was not aware of the internet sensation known as Lil BUB. This “magical” cat awaits golfers with open paws and a spectacular rainbow. My daughter is going to lose her mind.

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So, gather your friends, your children, your fiercest competitors, and be sure to head over to play a round at IMA. You won’t regret it. I will be there daily until I make the leader board. Kidding, maybe.

 

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Maeve Vintage

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Ever since I was a little girl I remember dreaming up doll house living rooms or rearranging my own bedroom. I think my sister hated it.  I was always watching my mom move the sofa here and the chair there, too.  Then I grew up wanting to be an interior designer, but chose the {obviously} more secure college degree of political science.  So I continued to rearrange only my own living room and bedrooms much to my husband’s dismay…

Then I decided to start a business.  I never knew all that was involved but had always wanted to be my own boss and own my own boutique.  I honestly never saw the business I picked involving ALL furniture.  I thought it would be an adorable clothing boutique most likely for children.  But alas, I chose to offer boutique furniture rentals when I launched Maeve Vintage with my mom and sister in early 2015.   Maeve is named for my daughter, her middle name, and I hope that by me sharing a passion of mine with her, letting her watch me work, and letting her play in the warehouse (aka real life dollhouse) it will show her that if you have a dream and work hard at that dream, you can make it happen no matter who says what.  

 

*She's also a great furniture tester*

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Maeve Vintage is a boutique rentals & event styling company that serves central and northern Indiana with a warehouse space located in Fort Wayne.  We hope to allow all party throwers to add some charm to their events without breaking the bank. We offer vintage sofas, chairs, dressers, buffets, and even tiny details like table décor and vintage china.  Along with our individual pieces, we also offer packages for those who need a little direction on what would look good together.  And if you still aren’t sure how it will all be pulled together, we offer styling services too! 

Maeve is my favorite creative outlet I’ve found to date.  I get to be creative.  I get to work with fun people, including my family.  I get to buy things all the time--things I have nowhere to put in my own house and which I can use and reuse and style differently, which makes them the best blank canvas!  I can style tablescapes, lounge seating areas, seating arrangements, and more!  It’s a fun way to be able to move furniture all the time without upsetting my husband!  Haha.  But seriously the best part is that none of it is at my house!  He loves that.  

Just some examples of what we've done to date: 

 

Winter Holiday Minis with Holly of Blue Baloon Photography:

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A pop-up luncheon featuring our china, goblets, serving dishes, and teacart. Photos by The Colagrossis:

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Wedding of Abby & Dillon featuring our sofa & chairs. Photo by Cambria Custom Events:

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Mid Century Modern Styled Shoot featuring our furniture and styled by us! Photo by Kelly Benton Photography:

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Bridal Shower featuring our lounge seating:

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Industrial Boho Styled Shoot featuring our chairs and styling. Photo by Indigo Lace Collective:

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If you are interested in what Maeve is all about, we have a ton of information on our Website - www.maevevintage.com.  We are always posting new things on instagram (@maevevintage) - sneak peeks of upcoming shoots, published shoots, real weddings and events, etc... So make sure to follow along with us on this journey!  

 

Lastly, if you are thinking of starting a business or new venture all I can say is just do it.  You'll never know EVERYTHING before you start.  You'll never be 100% prepared for all the scenarios that my come your way.  You'll never regret doing it if you are doing it for the right reasons... So just jump in.  Someone I met recently told me "done is better than perfect" because if you wait for perfection you'll be waiting forever... and it's right!  I'd love to hear from you if you are thinking about doing something new!  Just do it!  

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Teriyaki Salmon: Recipe of the Week

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One of my family’s favorite meals is teriyaki salmon with rice and veggies.  There is even a song “I Want A Salmon” and a special dance that my children will perform. I love how versatile this dish can be with spices and even a different sauce.  With different needs in my family (no carb diets, finicky eaters, etc.) this dish has been able to satisfy all of them.  Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • Salmon Filet (we use about a pound to a pound and a half, and it feeds 4-7)
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of Dill (optional,you can also use Old Bay seasoning or smoked paprika)
  • Juice of ½ a medium size lemon
  • 2 to 3 slices of ginger then chop into strips
  • 1 to 3 Tablespoons of White wine (which I usually use but had none on hand so used Shaoxing Rice Wine)

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce
  • 3 – 5 thin slices of ginger
  • 1 medium size onion sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small sauce pan, put in your slices of ginger, onion, teriyaki sauce, and water.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Once boiling, simmer until onions are caramelized.

Place foil on baking sheet and fold sides up so liquid stays within the foil.  Place the salmon filet on top of the foil.  Add your seasonings, slices of butter or oil, ginger strips, then lemon juice and white wine.  Cook for 9 to 15 minutes until it reaches the desired doneness. 

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We love our salmon served with rice and edamame or roasted/sautéed veggies of the season.  If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, the salmon is wonderful in a salad and lunch for school.  If you’re a fan of some heat, make rice balls.  Then flake the salmon meat, mix with Shichimi Togarashi (Chili Pepper) and some teriyaki sauce.  Place it over the rice balls and top with more teriyaki sauce.  It will definitely make you crave more!

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When Life Has Other Plans

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We have the perfect family for us. Fell in love. Got married. Got a cat. Had one little girl. Husband got a promotion. Moved to the Midwest. Got a job I finally love. Had one little boy. Time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor, as stereotypically suburban and middle class as they may be. We are happy. We are content. Our family is complete.

And then one day, you feel a little off, and you decide to pee on a stick in your work bathroom, because there is just no way. And then you remember when you get in your car to look at said stick, and that perfect little life you are so smugly enjoying suddenly flashes before your eyes.

The reaction is complicated. Immediately, a smile creeps across my face. I love babies. But that smile gives way to anxiety. I love babies, but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to have any more. The anxiety gives way to pure fear. I have to tell my husband. He definitely didn’t want any more babies. And all of those complex emotions yield tears and a nervous laughter in my car in the parking lot of that new job I love. We are having a third baby.

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Just to clarify, because you are probably already wondering. I was on birth control. I took it every day. Apparently, the 99.9% advertised effectiveness lulled us into a false sense of security. Even more shocking, when I called my doctor and told her that this pregnancy defied all odds, she was not surprised at all and told me how common birth control babies are. Great.

I love being a mother, but I fear that I have reached my limit as the mother of two and that one more child will simply tip the scales of my maternal capabilities. Two children, got it. Three children, descent into madness. And because my husband and I have been so vocal about being done having children, are people just going to assume this baby is an accident, unwanted? Is all the joy of announcing a pregnancy going to be overshadowed by the questions of “How do you feel?” and “Wow, was this planned?” Am I going to be fat forever? Are we going to be broke forever? Am I going to have to quit my job? Can my body handle another pregnancy? Will anyone even care about a third child? Will I suffer postpartum depression again? Can I survive another Midwestern winter with a newborn? Will there be anything of me left? Oh dear god, will I have to break my solemn oath and drive a minivan? Descent. Into. Madness.

I am now in my second trimester, and while I can’t say that this hormonal storm has quieted completely, I can say that I am more excited than I am terrified. Instead of focusing on the fact that I will not have the six pack I was sure was in the plans for this year (let’s be real—this was a pipe dream at best), I am looking forward to maternity pants (one of the greatest inventions of modernity) and anticipating feeling my baby kick (my favorite part of pregnancy). I am reconciling myself to the fact that money will continue to be tight, and the financial breakthrough we saw on the horizon as our daycare bill went from excruciating to only moderately painful will just be delayed a few years. I am grateful that I am able to get pregnant easily and am focusing on taking care of my body and being as healthy as I can, and I am grateful for the excuse of pregnancy and a new baby to explain my not-so-perfect physique. And I am confident that my marriage and my children will not only survive a new addition but will hopefully even be better for it.

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So, we are having a new baby, another little BOY. We will call him a “surprise” a “bonus” and will remember that life often has other plans than our own. Embrace the chaos.

 

P.S. For additional comedic value, feel free to read my earlier Blog post about getting rid of my breast pump: http://www.thecitymoms.org/zen_parenting

 

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And yes, it happened. I refuse to drive it until I have to, so my husband is enjoying it immensely.

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Ask Amanda: theCityMoms Edition

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Question: I have battled depression and anxiety for years, but it wasn't until my last pregnancy I was finally diagnosed and treated. However, I have felt lately my anxiety has been through the roof. I cry over tiny things, I don't sleep, and I am very moody. I obsessively stress over things outside of my control. My panic attacks have taken a new form- I now feel like I'm going to pass out. What can I do to help ease my anxiety?

 

Answer: I know it can be annoying when a question is answered with a question, so forgive me.

First, are you still being treated for the depression and anxiety?

If not and you feel the symptoms are worsening, it's time for a follow-up appointment. Of course, I'm biased to therapy, but the most important thing is that you find what works for you.

Arm Yourself...With Coping Skills

When trying to manage something as overwhelming as anxiety or depression, coping skills are vital. And you want to have as many as you can. You wouldn't use just a hammer to fix all the broken things around the house. Even if you're skeptical about trying a new one, ask yourself ‘What have I got to lose?'

Check out my list of coping options at http://www.busymomslifecoach.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Coping-Skills-Toolbox.pdf. Try one a day for a month.

Ride the Wave

Depression and anxiety are usually episodic in nature. A panic attack comes on and then it goes away. Think of it as riding a wave until it dissipates. Sometimes just knowing that it won't last forever can instill some hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Apples and Oranges

Don’t compare yourself to others, especially someone who has never experienced anxiety or depression. Thoughts like 'They look happy. Why can't I just be happy like everyone else?' aren’t fair to you.

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Southwest Quinoa Salad: Recipe of the Week

Being from Texas, I love any food that is Mexican-inspired. When the weather starts to heat up, and we are constantly running from one sport to the next, I love to have a big bowl of salad in the fridge that I can grab on the go. I came up with this recipe, and it totally satisfies my Tex-Mex cravings while being quick to make and easily portable. Win-win! It is a vegetarian recipe, but you get plenty of protein from the quinoa and black beans. It’s also chock full of fiber, so it’s very filling. It can work on it’s own as a light meal or as a side dish.

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Ingredients:

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup corn kernels (I used Trader Joe’s frozen roasted corn)

1 cup quartered grape tomatoes

1 medium avocado, diced

1 jalapeno, minced (optional)

2 Tbsp minced cilantro (optional)

Juice and zest of ½ lime

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Cook quinoa according to package directions. I like to use chicken or vegetable broth instead of water to add a little extra flavor. When finished cooking, chill quinoa in fridge for 15 minutes.

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Drain and rinse black beans. Chop grape tomatoes, avocado, jalapeno and cilantro (optional.) Add all to a large bowl. Once the quinoa is chilled, add to 1 cup cooked quinoa to the bowl.

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To make the dressing, combine the juice and the zest of ½ of a lime. Add 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar and 2 minced garlic cloves. Finally, drizzle in 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and whisk until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Pour dressing over the other ingredients in the bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

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Just Between Friends

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If you are anything like me, you walk into Target with the intention of buying (x item valued at $15) and leave with a cartful of the most random items, a $150 bill, and some serious buyer’s remorse. SO, the thought of attending a massive consignment sale could be daunting. A huge building full of kid items and clothes plus yours truly with oh so very little restraint could equal big trouble. Plus, I get overwhelmed. I’m not the biggest fan of digging through the racks, and I impulse buy (reference earlier comment about Target). BUT, attending consignment sales, especially one as expertly organized as Just Between Friends North Indy, is absolutely worth it!

Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your shopping experience:

Create a budget and a time limit BEFORE you go—If you are a classic over spender like myself, this is crucial. You will be amazed at how far your dollar can stretch at JBF, but it’s still important to set a limit. I decided to spend $100, and I gave myself an hour to shop. The time limit keeps me focused and prevents me from making too many “oh sure, why not” purchases and limits the browsing time.

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Hire a babysitter—While children are allowed to attend the sale with you, I really think it is so much easier without. This especially applies to children who do not walk yet or toddlers who like to get into everything. You will move faster without, and during peak shopping times, the sale gets pretty crowded. Also, if you are anything like me, after enough times of hearing “Mommy, I really want…” you just give in and spend way too much money.

Create a shopping list—Plan out what you want to purchase BEFORE you arrive at the sale and be specific. Once again, this will focus your efforts, and keep you on track in the massive sale. Once you walk in those doors, it is very easy to be tempted because there is just so much great stuff. Yes, there will be some variations, but try your best.

Here’s my list for the sale:

Double stroller

Better umbrella stroller

Diaper genie

Infant bouncy seat

4T shirts for my daughter

3T shorts for my daughter

18 month shorts and shirts for my son

Get your bags ready—I had a large, reusable shopping bag that I decided to bring, but I quickly learned that the true professionals bring rolling laundry bins or carts. The bigger the better. You could also use a stroller or purchase one at the sale and use it. There are large Ikea bags available, and you can purchase the branded JBF bags (which are super cute and handy) for just $3.

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Go for the big ticket items first—If you are looking for bigger items such as strollers, infant gear, or even furniture, check that out first and take the items to the convenient hold area to retrieve when you are done. These items are rarer than clothing and the good stuff goes fast! Plus, you don’t want to be lugging them around the whole time you are shopping.

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Enjoy!—If you are a bargain hunter, this will be heaven for you. There are so many great deals to be had. I found several shirts for $1 a piece and spotted many brand name items such as Matilda Jane on the racks. Doing a little digging is worth it. Sometimes you can even find identical items but with different prices, so it pays to look around. And lastly, don’t forget the home décor and Mom’s corner items as well as the vendors!

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Here is what other experts had to say about maximizing your experience at JBF:

Julie Leonard, who has been coming to the sale for years, recommends volunteering, which gives you an early access pass to the sale. She said it is great being able to scope out the really good items before anyone else can buy them. For older children, she recommends texting them pictures of clothing, so you don’t end up buying lots of items they don’t like. Finally, she said remember to buy complete outfits. She makes a point to match items as she goes.IMG_7053.JPG

Dawn Pfannenstiel is the Event Coordinator and brains behind JBF. She has been running the organization since 2005 and has been running this particular sale since 2007. Dawn recommends making a list of what you need to buy. She said that a staffer of JBF with seven children even traces her children’s feet and cuts yarn in the size of their inseam to make sure she gets the correct sizes. You can also make a cheat sheet with everyone’s sizes. She also said to plan ahead and use the sale to purchase gifts for birthdays and holidays. Many items at the sale are brand new!

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For this Spring/Summer sale, over 350 families are consigning, which means there are so many amazing items from which to choose. During JBF’s last sale, nearly 20,000 items were sold and nearly 2100 guests attended.

 

So, here is how I fared:

For $113.96, I purchased:

2 diaper pails (for $5 each this was a steal!)

Changing pad

Bouncy seat

Jeep umbrella stroller

Boppy w/slip cover (not on my list, but couldn’t pass up 50% off retail)

4 18 month shirts (2 brand new)

4 18 month shorts

7 2/3T shorts

4 4T shirts

1 4T dress

1 4T ballet leotard and tutu

1 4T bathing suit

Not too shabby, and only $13.96 over budget! At a retail store one hundred dollars would have bought me a fraction of that!

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All in all, this was a great experience! Grab your lists, your bags, and your friends, and get shopping!

 

Just Between Friends North Indy Spring/Summer Sale

www.northindy.jbfsale.com

Open to the public Wednesday* through Friday from 9am-7pm, Saturday from 9am-3pm and 5pm-9pm

25% off most items on Friday, 50% off on Saturday day and 75% off Saturday evening

*Admission is free except on Wednesday, $2 admission goes to Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County

Cash, Check, Credit Card accepted

Hamilton County Fairgrounds, 1721 Pleasant Street, Noblesville

 

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CityMom Christi Amos handles marketing for JBF and was kind enough to invite me to the pre-sale. Thanks!

 

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How to Navigate The Children's Museum Like a Ninja

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Guys. We are seriously lucky. We get to raise our kids in the same city as the best children's museum in the country  http://www.forbes.com/pictures/ehkj45fihl/childrens-museum-indianapolis/. It's also the biggest children's museum in the country. And that can feel a bit overwhelming for a helicopter mom with a giant stroller and a ceaseless need for Starbucks (is that just me? Oh... ok)

We're beginning our fourth year as Children's Museum members and visit about once a month. I fancy myself a pro at getting the most out of every visit. Here's how to wiggle your way around the best and biggest children's museum like the mom ninja you are. 

 

Before you go

There are two different schools of thought when it comes to the perfect time of day to arrive at the museum. The obvious first choice is to get there at 9:55 and open the place up. This is what most people do because it correlates with the early afternoon nap time. You know what else it correlates with? FIELD TRIPPERS. I like to go around 2:00 (when the big kids and their chaperons are long gone) and stay until closing time. This works well for me because my oldest no longer naps and I could care less what time of day my two-year-old naps (#SecondChildSyndrome). 

 The food from the food court is the bomb, but it's pricey. If your kids are anything like mine, they eat three bites of lunch and are ready to sprint to the Dinosphere. I always pack lunch for the kids and buy lunch for myself. (They have awesome wraps and salads, but my fave is the black bean burger.) My kids are thrilled to have their usual PBJ while I appreciate a good meal (that goes in my mouth and not in the trash). 

Leave the DSLR at home. Look, photography is great and everyone wants amazing memories of their child exploring the Museum. But don't be THAT mom who is holding up the line at the TMNT pizza thrower thing because you have to take 30+ pictures (with different settings, natch) of your kid. Snap one with your iPhone and move on.

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The parking garage is huge and offers tons of covered parking. The walkway is on the 3rd floor of the parking garage, so park near there if you can find a spot. If the weather is nice, go for the ground parking just north of the Museum. Taking that route gives you a cool view of the dinosaurs climbing through the entry as well as the stone sculptures of major landmarks from all over the world. 

 

Welcome!

Keep your coat in your car unless the temps are crazy cold. Can't bear to walk the ramp in just a sweater? Take advantage of the lockers just east of the lobby. If you have a stroller, you can always store coats in there instead... you know, if you don't care if there is room for your kid. 

Don't rush through the lobby. Aside from the massive Bumblebee and dinosaurs, there are always cool mini-exhibits that change regularly. The staff members that greet museum goers are often dressed as characters coordinating with the newest exhibit (like April from TMNT and Beauty and the Beast's Belle from the Pirates and Princesses exhibit). Museum mascot Rex is usually there giving high fives and fist bumps, too! 

Grab a map. Even if you know the place inside and out, the maps are updated regularly and feature detailed info about the new and changing exhibits. 

 

Where to start? 

If you get there right at 10am, consider heading straight to the top or directly to Playscape (where there are no field trippers - whoot whoot!). Most visitors start in the Dinosphere or beeline it to whatever the newest exhibit is on the second floor. However, if you see a short line at the Chocolate Slide/Jolly Days Slide, take advantage! I repeat: TAKE ADVANTAGE! We usually skip this because the line gets so, so long and my kids just don't have the patience (and neither do I). 

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Then what? 

Don't be afraid to check out an exhibit that is geared toward bigger or littler kids (with the exception of Playscape, which is for kids five and under). My kids are five and two and they love love love ScienceWorks and Treasures of the Earth, both of which are geared toward school-age kids. All the exhibits have hands-on features and are even exciting for the parents. 

The Museum staff and volunteers are amazing. They know so many cool facts and stories that you wouldn't necessarily be privy to unless you engage with them. Chat up the paleontologists working in the lab. Ask questions of the volunteers outside of ScienceWorks. Your kids will be mesmerized to talk to real-life scientists and you'll learn something, too! 

The carousel (located of the fourth floor) is an absolute must. It's majestic, beautiful and an important part of Indianapolis history. It was once an attraction at Broad Ripple Park! The staff goes above and beyond to make the ride fun and engaging for the kids. 

The lower level is my favorite and what you'd consider the "classic" Children's Museum exhibits. My kids would be content if the only two exhibits they saw were Dinosphere and All Aboard! They've seen them countless times and never tire of them. They've been a mainstay at the Museum for-ev-er and there's good reason for that. 

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Time to Split: 

It's easy to run right past the gift shop to avoid the "oooooh, can I get this? How about this? But I neeeeeeed that!" from your kids. I get it. But the gift shop is actually one of the most hands on parts of the Museum! It's filled with train and activity tables that feature Magformers, Zoobs, that squishy sand stuff that claims not to make a mess, and so much more. My kids love it and I usually can get outta there without buying anything. 

At the top of the ramp lies the InfoZone, which I consider my secret Museum cavern. It's part of the Indianapolis Public Library and is an easy way to drop off those overdue books and pick up new materials featuring museum subject matter (dinosaurs, trains, China, and tons more). I like to get a bag of books and take a bathroom break before heading home. 

 

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Other hacks: 

Splurge on the +2 membership, which covers everyone in your house plus two guests. All the marketing the Museum does is true. It pays for itself during the second visit. 

Worried about losing your kid? Have your little ones keep one of your business cards (or a mommy card - https://www.tinyprints.com/shop/mommy--contact-cards.htm) in their pocket. My five year old knows to show the card to another mom and say, "Can you call my mom?" Thankfully, we've never had to use it, but I feel better knowing we have a plan.

Nursing at the Museum is a breeze. They have dedicated nursing rooms within Playscape that are like the Beyonce of nursing rooms (we're talking dimmer lights, glider chairs, and TVs playing Sesame Street to occupy big sibs). Two other quiet, semi-private places to nurse include the Big, Bad, and Bizarre extension of the Dinosphere and the Power of Children exhibit. 

Have questions? Send a tweet to @TCMIndy. They are awesome at responding and are a wealth of knowledge. 

Oh, and there's a Starbucks to your immediate left after you check in to the museum. Cheers! 

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Dairy Free Chicken Pot Pie: Recipe of the Week

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Chicken Pot Pie (Dairy Free)

3 cups Unsweetened Regular Almond Milk

1 cup of Chicken Broth (You can get the broth from the cooked chicken)

3 Tbsp of Dairy Free Butter

1 Tbsp of Italian Seasoning

1 Tbsp of Minced Garlic

2 Tbsp of Flour

1 tsp of Salt

1 tsp of Pepper

2 cans of Green Beans (Drained)

1 can of Corn (Drained)

1 big chicken breast (boneless skinless)  (You can also use a Rotissere Chicken)

1 package of little biscuits

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Directions

  1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cook chicken in a square baking dish for 25 minutes (covered with foil)

While that is cooking you can get started on the gravy…here’s how:

  1. Place butter, minced garlic and Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper in saucepan. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add flour and whisk into a paste. 
  3. Add in Almond Milk and chicken broth. Whisk until blended
  4. Cook for 10 minutes (whisking frequently). Take off stovetop and stir in drained veggies.

Once your chicken is done cooking…

  1. Shred the chicken in the pan
  2. Pour in the gravy/veggie mixture

Put in the oven to cook for 20 min.

Take out of oven and add the small (uncooked) biscuits on top and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

*This recipe is a dairy free recipe.  For those of you who don’t want to do dairy free, just sub in milk and butter, as opposed to almond milk and dairy free butter.

 

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Kelly is someone who cooks out of necessity. If it were affordable to eat out, her trash would be filled with takeout containers. She tends to get creative with the recipes by adding extra ingredients. 

 

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A Picture Perfect Diet

My weight has been a struggle for me for most of my adult life. In high school, I was lucky. I was tall and thin no matter what I ate. My diet consisted mostly of cheese and ice cream. That ability changed somewhere in my 20s. Stress eating and a general lack of activity took over, and I became overweight. When I started dating my husband I was at my heaviest weight ever. Fortunately, my husband is a generally active guy, and he likes to cook healthy food. He does a great job of making things that are healthy and taste good (I didn’t believe that was a thing before him really – did you know you could add flavor with spices instead of fat?). Increased activity combined with various diet plans (I think I have tried them all) eventually got me to a place where I could be active and maintain a weight I was happy with. Until I got pregnant of course. Having struggled so much to finally reach a good weight, I was terrified to put the weight back on. I didn’t weigh myself once during my pregnancy, but when I did finally weigh a couple of weeks after Jack’s birth, I had about 50 pounds to lose.

That leads us to today. I have lost the baby weight. I did follow the Weight Watchers nursing mom program, which helped me to make sure I ate enough to keep nursing. Before I got pregnant and now that Jack is weaned I use the free Lose It application on my phone and like it. However, all of that takes time, and I was really feeling like I need something very simple and fast to make sure I am continuing to make healthy food choices. 

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With my work schedule and taking care of a toddler (oh my God! I have a toddler!) calorie counting was just too much of a task. A few weeks ago, I was reading something online--and I am not sure where I saw it--but I came across the idea to take pictures of my food before I eat it.

So, I tried it. When I looked at my food through the lens of my camera it was a rather eye opening experience. First I noticed that even though my daily calories were fine (I was still counting them) there was a serious lack of color (i.e. fruits and veggies) in my diet. The first day I had a very boring looking bowl of cereal and a Lean Cuisine for lunch. I think we had a frozen pizza or something for dinner. I may have had a piece of fruit in there somewhere, but not a single vegetable. I wasn’t over-eating, but I wasn’t eating a very healthy diet.

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 The next morning my cereal and milk was replaced by cereal and nonfat Greek yogurt and blueberries. I still had a lean cuisine for lunch, but I added fruits and/or vegetables to every meal and snack. I’ve stopped counting calories; my energy has increased; and I’ve actually lost a few more pounds. And as you can see, I still eat desert on occasion.

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Taking a picture gives me a moment to pause and evaluate what I am putting in my body. In that short pause my brain decides if it is colorful enough and if I feel good about eating it. And although I will obviously not be considering a career in food photography, it has become a pretty quick and easy way to evaluate if I am eating healthy or not. All I have to do is skim through the pictures in my phone, and it gives me a quick visual inventory of how many fruits and vegetables I have eaten. Hopefully, eating a balanced healthy diet, will be a habit that I will be able to pass on to my son.

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Boring Bedroom Makeover

Suffering boredom in the bedroom?

Oh no, I’m not THAT kind of expert.  But I can help you create some excitement in your décor!  

Nightstands are a super fun and easy way to bring some personality into the bedroom without going for a complete makeover.  If you’re in the market for something new, consider bold pops of color or unique pieces that you might not necessarily think of as a standard “nightstand.”  

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Great way to save money here:  garage sales and thrift stores.  It you find a piece with a nice shape, give it a new coat of paint in a fun color.  

My favorite element in design is to mix and match.  This is now a trend in nightstands.  You don’t have to buy the standard pair of matching tables with a drawer.  Create some interest by mixing it up a little, by having a table and a cabinet, or a trunk and a table, or two different kinds of tables.  Have fun with it!

The rules:  

1. Make sure both sides are approximately the same height.
2. Both sides should have a connection in some way (finish, color, shape, style).

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Okay, so you already have the standard pair of stands with a drawer and shelves.  How do you spice it up?

  1. Mix up your lighting (again, keep the heights within the same range).

  2. Add visual interest with different heights of items on each stand.  

  3. Everyone is using their phone these days for an alarm, so throw out the digital clocks and add a cool replacement.  

  4. Fun artwork either on the stand or on the wall.

  5. Decorative boxes to hold the ugly stuff.  

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Now, no excuse for a boring bedroom!

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When The Friendship Isn't Healthy

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I was sixteen and sitting on the bus, riding home from a basketball game. My Discman (also known as a portable CD player for all you young cats) had just run out of batteries mid-song and I was too lazy to take the headphones off so I closed my eyes thinking I’d just take a little nap before we made it back to school.

Then I heard them: my two best friends talking about me. Sitting in the seat behind me, they were talking about me because they thought I couldn’t hear them. One girl complained about me asking her to braid my hair on the bus ride to the game. The other girl agreed that that was super-annoying and that she just wished I would leave them alone. This typical, high school mean girl stuff went on for a few minutes.

It felt like hours.

Just typing this, reliving those moments, makes my stomach twist up. I can recall with perfect clarity how horrible it made me feel. I felt such shame for not being worthy of their friendship.

I was heartbroken and embarrassed. I wished I could disappear; I wished I could instantly get off the bus and make my way home unseen. But that’s not how things work even when you really, really need them to so I had to suffer through the rest of the bus ride home. I don’t remember much after that. I know it didn’t end our friendship, that we still played basketball together, that we still hung out together, I have the pictures and memories to prove it.

But what I do remember is the absolute devastation of feeling betrayed and unwanted. These were my two best friends and they didn’t want to be my friends? Who was I supposed to be friends with? High school without a friend is horrible. I needed them. I liked them. Why didn’t they like me all of the sudden? Or had they not liked me for a while?

Almost twenty years later, I realize that I could have gotten new friends. I had other friends, other people that wanted to be friends with me, and probably wouldn’t have–literally and figuratively–talked about me behind my back.

I was thinking about that story the other day as I was puttering around the house. Wondering what friends I have now that I need to do without, what friends I have now that cause me to feel insecure, betrayed, or unwanted. I know that’s a crazy question to ask myself, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t letting things–people, relationships, distractions–into my life that were taking away from it instead of making it better. I am too loved and too awesome to let people in that make me feel bad about myself.

Also, you are too loved and too awesome to let people in that make you feel bad about yourself.

You know that, right?

It sounds like such a simple truth, but I know it’s really not. I have had friends before that I shouldn’t have had for no other reason than they took more than they gave. I’m not talking about friends that need you for a season and then you need them for a season and you take turns caring for each other. That is wonderful and what friends are for. I’m talking about people that just take. And take and take and take. They never fill, they never serve, they never lessen our burdens or loads.

Those people have to go. Those people need to step back.

I didn’t learn this lesson until my thirties. I had to have some friendships fail to be able to learn this lesson. I had to feel the uncomfortable fit of forced relationships that weren’t meant to be so that I could learn what the healthy, life-giving ones really looked and felt like.

And it was so worth it. Because I’d say the friends I have now, the relationships that are growing and blooming and supporting me, are pretty great.

I want that for you, too. I want you to have friends that make your life better not worse. I want you to have some ride-or-die friends that have your back no matter what. I also want you to know what ride-or-die means so if you need to, Google that shiz.

Having good friends makes every aspect of our lives better. I believe my marriage is better because of my friends. I believe I’m a better mom because of my friends. I believe I’m a better friend because of my friends. So if you’ve got people in your life that leave you feeling less than or are tearing you down instead of building you up, it’s probably time to say goodbye to them. You deserve to have good, real, encouraging friends. Life is too short to be around people that don’t add to your life.

I just wish I had learned this truth sooner.



This post originally appeared on Trusty Chucks.com in April, 2015.

http://trustychucks.com/2015/04/when-the-friendship-isnt-healthy/

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Spice Rubbed Salmon: Recipe of the Week

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If you’re anything like me, you grew up in a house where fish was rarely on the menu, except in the form of tuna salad.  As an adult, learning to cook fish was both important to me, and a bit intimidating.  Well, this Salmon recipe could not be easier.  It is quick, healthy, and the kids love it.  

About a year ago we decided to become pescetarian at home.  Even though we still eat meat when eating out, I only cook vegetarian and seafood meals at home.  Working fish into our diet is occasionally challenging but this recipe (only slightly adapted) from Cooking Light Magazine, has become an almost weekly staple.

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Ingredients: 

1lb Salmon fillet

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 onion

Preheat oven to 400F.

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Slice onion thinly and line a baking dish with the onion.  If you want to eat the onion, make sure you use cooking spray on the dish.  The way I make it, the onion is mainly used for moisture and I choose not to add any oil or fats.

Combine the spices in a small bowl and mix well.  Sprinkle mixture over fish. 

Bake for 20 minutes.  

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That’s it, so easy….

I generally serve with either a spinach salad or roasted brussel sprouts, and wine (of course). 

 

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Reflections From the Beach

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The first Spring we were in Indy someone asked my husband, ‘So, where are you guys going for Spring break?’. Our daughter was only one at the time. Spring break? With a baby? This is a thing? We were shocked. Why would we do that? When I was a kid “Spring break” was an extra two days off school; Good Friday and the Monday following Easter. Not a flipping week where it’s just assumed you’re going somewhere. I spent Spring break with a babysitter (until I was old enough to do the sitting myself). We’d color Easter eggs. Play outside. Ride bikes. Color. Read. If my siblings and I were lucky we’d get to go on a quick trip with our Mom to the mall 30 minutes away. It was like any other day off from school. I really don’t remember anything too extraordinary.

Boy, how times have changed.

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What started as a trip to visit my grandparents after my Dad passed away has turned into an annual tradition. Every Spring we load up the Honda Odyssey and make the 16 hour trek down to sunny Florida {with what seems like the rest of Indiana} for a week away from home. We spend almost every day on the beach. We eat at super fun, yummy restaurants. We see my grandparents and friends. We really do enjoy most of it.

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How lucky are these kids though? My goodness. When we walked into our beach condo the other day I seriously stopped for a minute and just shook my head. Like most parents, we have tried to give our children a life we didn’t have, but dang, I think we may have gone a bit overboard {and we don’t give our kids half of what the majority of kids their ages get}.

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My eight year old won’t stop complaining. We’ve had to eat at our vacation home too much! I gave her half of an egg sandwich, not a whole! She’s had to play with toys inside and use her imagination! Her life is miserable. The crying fit she had this morning was award worthy, and that was all because I told her she couldn’t watch TV. Why can’t she just be grateful that we’re in Florida and not in Indy where it’s practically winter? Ugh. Don’t get me wrong, I know how lucky we are. And I hope my kids do, too. But I want to go hide in the kitchen and eat a Nutty Bar I’m so stressed. Yes, Spring break sure has changed.

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Spring Fashion Trends

As I sit here on a cold rainy day, it’s hard to believe that Spring is really here, but thinking about the season’s fashion trends gives me hope that blue skies and sunny days truly are ahead. The stores are full of new Spring fashions, and while I’m not feeling all the new trends (Wide leg cropped pants? 70’s fashion? No thank you.) some of them will make a great addition to your closet. Check out the following Spring fashion trends and how you can incorporate them into your wardrobe.

1. Fringe: Fringe and tassels are everywhere this Spring. I am loving all the fringed sandals and wedges. They look great with everything. Fringed suede bags and fringed scarves are easy ways to add this trend to your wardrobe. Or, go all our and add a fringed sweater or kimono to your Spring closet!

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 Fringe by jenjenfirenjen featuring lightweight scarves

2. Bare Shoulders: If you are a child of the 80s like me, then the bare shoulders trend will feel very familiar. Maybe too familiar? I swear some of the off the shoulders dresses are the very same ones I wore to high school dances. Luckily, there are several updated ways to bare your shoulders without going full-on 90210.

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 Look for dolman sleeve tops with shoulders cut-outs or peasant-style off the shoulders blouses. These styles can be worn super casual with shorts or dressed up with skinnies and heels.

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 Shoulders by jenjenfirenjen featuring short sleeve tops

3. Lightweight Denim: If you don’t already have a chambray shirtdress in your closet, now is the time to get one. This will be a workhorse in your wardrobe, going from the office to date night to casual weekend outings. You can find cheap ones at Target and Old Navy or higher end pieces at department stores. Other lightweight denim pieces like blousy tops look great with spring florals, bright colors, and even white jeans. If you are into rompers (I swore I never would be but then I tried one on) then a chambray romper is perfect for wearing spring to summer.

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 Denim by jenjenfirenjen featuring Old Navy

4. Lace-up Shoes: Lace-up shoes are all over the place right now. There are tons of pointed-toe lace-up flats, but also lace-up shooties, booties, and even full-calf lace-up gladiator sandals. Since we never know if trends like these are going to stay, I usually look for cheaper options. I have yet to try on a pair of lace-up flats and I am curious how comfortable they are but I’m really crushing on these pink lace-up flats from Target.

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 Lace-up by jenjenfirenjen featuring ballet flats

5. Orange: As a pale redhead, I’m not personally super excited for the orange trend, but I know it looks fabulous on lots of other girls, so if you can rock orange, then you are in luck this Spring. Orange is everywhere! If you don’t feel like you can pull off a larger orange piece, then try adding orange accessories. An orange belt would look fabulous with your new chambray shirtdress…just saying!

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Spring Cleaning Hacks for Busy Moms

So I don't know about you gals, but I seriously feel like I never get to do anything on the weekends because I'm always cleaning or doing laundry.  Cleaning sucks.  It really does.  I only have one kiddo, but she's a tornado who can wiggle her way out of picking up and has the most toys I've ever seen.  I have a husband who only does his own laundry, and by "does" I mean throws the load in the washer and nothing else.  And two dogs who we got because they weren't supposed to shed... but they sure do!  Everywhere!  So Little Miss Martha here feels like a farce thanks to her disaster zone of a home!  

And with April upon us, it's time for everyone to be thinking about Spring Cleaning.  And with that, I'm going to share a few of my favorite hacks and a cleaning calendar to help us all keep our houses clean(er) and our sanity in tact! 

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*Break it down from Penny Pincher Jenny

Its exhausting taking entire weekends to clean things up, and honestly it feels like you never have any rest!  So break it down.  Jenny from Penny Pincher Jenny breaks a deep clean down into 7 days. There are more details on her site, but this is a quick overview. 

-Day 1 - Drapes and Blinds

-Day 2 - Fan & Light Fixtures

-Day 3 - Bedrooms

-Day 4 - Bathrooms

-Day 5 - Kitchen

-Day 6 - Floors 

And on the 7th day he rested... 

 

*Daily Tasks from Good Housekeeping

According to Good Housekeeping there are a few daily tasks one should not neglect. I'm not going to lie, I maybe do 4 of these daily... you? 

-Make Bed

-Clean Coffee Maker

-Clean Dirty Dishes

-Wipe Down Kitchen Counters & Table

-Sanitize Kitchen & Bathroom Sinks

-Sweep Kitchen Floors

-Wipe Down Bathroom Surfaces

-Squeegee Shower Walls

-Do laundry, as needed

-Sanitize Sponges

----This is obviously not a daily list for the working mother... just saying... 

To see how often they suggest doing everything click here to see their suggestions. 

 

*The Quick Clean from Clean Mama

This is typically how I clean... A quick and hurried cleanup before someone comes over for a visit.  It feels good when you are done, things aren't trashed, and you still have time to do other things!  

1. Gather Your Tools -- must haves include: feather duster, microfiber cloths, lint roller, all purpose cleaner, disinfecting cleaner (bath), cleaning wipes, and window/mirror cleaner. 

2. Set A Timer -- 30 minutes is probably a realistic time frame.

3. Start With a Laundry Basket & Garbage Bag -- begin by collecting anything that belongs somewhere else.  

4. Do a Quick Dust

5. Wipe Surfaces -- Spray all hard surfaces and wipe with cloth.

6. Wipe Mirrors 

7. Quick Vacuum -- visible high traffic areas.

8. Fluff Pillows and Straighten Throw Blankets -- Fake it till you make it ladies! 

9. Fresh Towels -- The look of fresh towels can really defy the eye!

 

Clean Mama has some really great printables too!  Like this April Cleaning Calendar... 

Who's up for the challenge?!

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Vinegar is my favorite thing to clean with but sometimes the smell can be too much.  So I recently found this DIY Lemonade Cleaner and you can even make it with your kiddos! And one last tip... 

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All you need is:

1/2 cup of vinegar

1/2 cup of water

Combine and use to clean just about anything thanks to vinegar being so versatile!  If you want to make it smell yummy, just add lemons or orange peel to the spray and let it sit for a couple of days so the vinegar can adapt to the new scent before you use it!  If you can't wait, throw some lemon or orange essential oils in there and get to cleaning!  

 

xoxo,

Abby

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Cream Biscuits: Recipe of the Week

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theCityMoms is excited to launch a new weekly series featuring theCityMoms members and their explorations in the kitchen. Please check back weekly as we feature favorite recipes to inspire your meal plan for the week! Interested in contributing? Contact the Editorial Director at megan@thecitymoms.org.

 

When Megan asked for volunteers for theCityMoms’ new food blog, I responded immediately. I love to cook, I spend a considerable amount of time looking at recipes, and I write for a living, so it only seemed natural. I only had one hesitation – I love the concept of food blogs, but I find some of them waste too much of my time with long, rambling personal narratives before they get to the actual food. So, here are three things to know about me which will help explain why I chose this seemingly simple baked good as my first post and I promise not to ramble if I am invited back again.

  1. I am concerned about the state of the food industry in our country. I actually have been for most of my life. It began with a concern for the way animals were being treated on large industry farms, which led me to become a vegetarian at age 13. That lasted until I got engaged to my very picky, meat-loving husband ten years later. Since then, I have continued my education and have focused on sourcing much of my food from local farms with practices I could trust; avoiding processed packaged foods; and making as much as possible from scratch. I have also dabbled in growing my own.
  2. I am on a tight budget. Lately, my focus has been on smart planning and budgeting so I can save money.
  3. My taste buds are more adventurous than my family’s. My darling husband has expanded his palate considerably in 15 years, but most vegetables and many other foods are still off limits. It can be exasperating at times. Seriously, how can the man not like rice?! My toddler is also becoming pickier, but I still save my fun recipes for the three nights a week it is just her and me.

So, time for the recipe. Today I am going to teach you how to make cream biscuits. I originally planned on sharing a recipe of my own creation. I changed my mind because I had lots of cream to use up and this is a recipe I use whenever that happens. A half-gallon of cream at Costco may be cheap but it’s only cost-effective if you use it! Also, I know very few people who don’t like biscuits.

I have to give credit to the Kitchn (www.thekitchn.com) for this recipe, although I am going to share some variations that are my own. I have been making pasta with sausage and vodka tomato cream sauce a lot lately, which obviously requires cream, but not very much. Most of the other uses I have for heavy whipping cream involve desserts, which are all well and good, but I am trying to limit my sweets. This recipe is a simple but lovely solution. I can’t claim they are “healthy” depending on your definition, but they are homemade!

Cream biscuits, as it turns out, are equally as good as their more famous cousins, buttermilk biscuits but have a few unexpected advantages. First, they do not require that you make or buy buttermilk, another product that tends to require planned use in my house, and second, the dough is not as sensitive to overworking as buttermilk biscuit dough can be.

Step One: Assemble your ingredients

You’ll need flour, sugar (or sugar substitute), cream, baking powder, salt, and three cups of heavy cream.

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A few notes on ingredients: I have made these with this great all-purpose blend from Costco and 100% white whole wheat flour and I like both. I have also used honey instead of sugar. If you use a finer form of salt than kosher, you may want to start with slightly less than the recipe calls for and then taste the batter.

Step 2: Measure and pour ingredients

There is no need to sift here! Just dump away until you get to the cream. The quantities below are for a double batch since I had a lot of cream to use.

Four cups of flour… did you know you should never scoop directly out of the canister or bag? Use a spoon and level afterwards.

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Five teaspoons of sugar…

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Four teaspoons baking powder…

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And 1 ½ teaspoons of kosher salt.

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Give everything a good stir.

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If you are adding any add-ins like cheese or seasonings do it now. I decided to make half with about two tablespoons of chopped chives from my garden, 2 ounces of grated cheddar cheese, and a half tsp. of garlic powder.

Now, pour all but ½ a cup of cream in and stir until a dough begins to form.

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Add the remaining ½ a cup and stir just until it is fully worked in. As I said, this dough is not as sensitive as others but still does not need to be overworked. I like to knead the dough in the bowl before I turn it out onto my board.

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Step 3: Form and cut biscuits

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form into to two rectangles.

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Cut each rectangle into eight pieces.

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Step 4: Bake or freeze!

Now, here is the truly beautiful aspect of these biscuits. You CAN bake them now, but you don’t HAVE to bake them now. I usually freeze the raw pieces for baking at a later time. This means you can have fresh tasting biscuits any time! Simply wrap each biscuit in wax paper or plastic wrap and then put in a freezer-safe container.

I happened to be making these at 10:00 pm so I made one to show all of you and froze the rest.

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If you are baking, preheat your oven at the start to 400 degrees. The Kitchn suggests 425 degrees, but I have found that to be too hot for my ideal biscuit. All ovens are different! I bake mine for 15 minutes fresh, and 20 minutes if frozen (no need to thaw first).

Since it was after bedtime and I was all by my lonesome, I enjoyed a glass of wine while I waited.

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And there you have it! Easy cream biscuits!

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Recipe:

Makes 16 biscuits

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

Four cups of flour

5 teaspoons sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

Optional add-ins:

4 tablespoons chives, 4 ounces grated cheddar, 1 teaspoon garlic powder (for full batch)

1/2 cup raisins (or to taste), ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

If baking, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients. Add optional add-ins and stir. Pour in all but ½ cup of cream and stir briefly until dough begins to form. Add remaining cream and knead for 30-45 seconds until dough ball forms. Turn out onto floured surface and form into two rectangles, about right inches long and four inches wide. Cut each into eight pieces. Bake for 15-18 minutes or wrap individual biscuits and freeze for later. Frozen biscuits require approximately 5 additional minutes to bake but need not be thawed.

 

 

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I Win Every Race I Run

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I got roped into another half marathon this past weekend. I wasn’t prepared for it, mentally or physically, but I wanted to do it anyway. I was three weeks out from my last half and hadn’t run any distance more than four miles since. I got excited when the invite came late Friday morning, I quickly said yes, and then as reality set in that I was running the next morning, I started to regret my quick response.

I do this often: committing without thinking and then immediately regretting my decision.

Because soon after I agreed to run, I was standing in front of the mirror doubting my legs could carry me another 13.1 miles. Doubting I had the mental strength to do it with less than a day to prepare myself. I spend the week before a race thinking about it all the time. So how was I going to do this when I had less than twenty four hours to psyche myself up?

The afternoon before the race, my daughters and I made a quick trip to the sporting goods store for race fuel and one of those ridiculous running skirt-things because it was going to be hot on Saturday. (Side note: I brought it home, but couldn’t bring myself to wear it. I’m going to have to ease into the running skirt. It’s like a whole level I’m not ready for.)

On the way there, the girls and I were talking about why we were going to the store and what mommy was going to be doing in the morning. The idea of running so many miles or so many minutes hours is completely abstract to them. Five minutes, depending on what’s at the end of those minutes, is either the shortest or longest time in the world. Time has no meaning to a three year old and miles are incomprehensible to a five year old. So talking about running is difficult.

All they know is Mommy goes to the gym after work and comes home red-faced and sweaty. All they know is sometimes Mommy gets up early in the morning and comes home wearing a medal and walking funny. All they know is I run races and that I always win.

Because I do win, I win every race I run.

I win against all those years I didn’t run and paid the price in my waistline and energy level. I win against myself and all the doubts I have as I lace up my running shoes every day. I win against the voices in my head that tell me this distance, this time, will be too long and I’m not ready, that I can’t do it. I win against poor self-esteem and mean things said to me in middle school by cruel boys. I win against the idea that all runners are a size two and should run in sports bras and teeny-tiny running shorts (running skirts, perhaps?). I win against the negative body image that will one day try to convince my daughters their bodies aren’t beautiful, they’re not skinny enough, they’re not good enough.

I win every time I run.

So when I walked into the house on Saturday morning with another medal around my neck and blood staining my sock and shoe (again…), my girls cheered loudly and asked if I won. And I answered there were lots of people that finished before me, but, yes, I won. I won because I tried my best and I ran 13.1 miles.

I won because less than a year ago, I was celebrating running three miles for the very first time.

I won because I finished. I won because my daughters need a strong, powerful, confident, healthy mom to shows them they can do anything they want to even if they feel scared or unprepared because sometimes you just need to jump and figure it out as you go.

Saturday morning I jumped and on the way down, I was reminded I win every time I run.

And that was enough to keep me going.



This post originally appeared on Trusty Chucks.com in June, 2014.

http://trustychucks.com/2014/06/i-win-every-race-i-run/

 

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Me and My Not So Green Thumb

Does anyone else not have a green thumb but wish they did?  I don't know about you, but once it starts to get nice outside, I just MUST have greens in my house.  Not too many big plants, as they just become another expense because I kill them, but little greens all over make my life happy.  I swear I can only keep plants alive that must come back every year, which explains why I only buy perennials anymore!  
Some of my favorite ways to bring Spring inside even when it's still cold out can be found at your local Home Depot.  Yes, Lowe's probably has them too, but I've come to be able to depend on Home Depot for Fiddle Figs and Succulents.  
First, does everyone know what a fiddle fig plant is?  If you don't, you should.  Unless of course you are a plant killer like me, then I'll leave it up to you, but at typically $13 a pop, these can be killed a few times over the summer and are worth every penny of green they bring into my living room, even if for a short time.  
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"The fiddle leaf fig tree, also known as the Ficus Lyrata is a plant perfect for the indoors. It has large, violin-shaped and heavily veined leaves that tend to have upright growth. The fiddle leaf fig tree is a species that is native to the tropics as they require conditions to be wet and warm."  
 
Now, let's be real -- we don't live in the tropics, and I don't know about you, but I'm always having to add a layer because my house is so cold (which might be another reason I'm a good plant killer).  But this plant is so easy. Water it about once a week and make sure it gets direct sunlight. When it gets warm, I sit it out on our patio.  All other times, it's by a window, and I've set a time on my phone as a reminder to water it to try to not kill it so quickly.  But just look how cute she is... 
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And then there are those succulents... My absolute favorite.  I've used them in decor for the last 10 years.  They were even a huge part of our wedding.  They, too, are just so easy. Although, I still tend to have the uncanny ability to make them crumble, but at least it takes them a little longer than regular plants.  
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Go to your local Goodwill or thrift store and grab a cute little teacup and saucer or even a floral bowl.  Trendy floral, not grandma floral just to be clear.  Then head to home depot for a bag of potting soil and your choice of succulents!  You'd be surprised at the variety they have!  It's quite impressive. Then if you really want to add some fun to it go on down to The Corner Cottage in Noblesville who now has the largest array of fairy garden accessories I've seen in one place and get yourself some ironic animals... Deer, Dogs, Moose... and add them as a nice touch to some of your bigger planters if there is room. 
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And lastly, my other favorite green that even looks beautiful once it's dead {hahhaha} is that fancy eucalyptus from Trader Joes for $2.99 a bushel.  Run don't walk to get yourself this special treat.  They always have it and it always makes you feel like you just left the spa!  
And that's how you get away with having a not so green thumb and having some green thumb items in your home for Spring.  And of course, the little always gets to pick out a plant too, and she always picks these cacti with their great color!  Happy Spring! 
 
xo, 
Abby
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The "Remember When" Game...

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When my husband and I are reaching our domestic breaking point we like to play a little game called “Remember when…”

For instance, when my three year old is screaming because I cut her chicken into bites rather than strips, or when my one year old decides he will eat bananas and only bananas, we say: “Remember when we could sleep WHENEVER we wanted?” Our eyes glaze over; we become immune to the constant noise of a house with children, and we wistfully reminisce about this glorious golden age in our marriage when we were carefree and childless. “Why did we ever get out of bed?” I ask my husband “Why weren’t we constantly napping?” he replies. Alas, this game can devolve into a slippery slope, so we dare not linger too long. A spoonful of peas to the face is usually a sufficient call back to reality.

Disclaimer: I really do love my children. They are the beat of my heart and my greatest accomplishments to date. HOWEVER, I miss me sometimes, and I miss my husband when he was just my husband and not also a father. Because although having children can be incredibly rewarding, it can also be incredibly draining. My life is no longer exclusively mine. So, reminiscing over a trip we took or fondly recalling how fun and crazy we used to be is therapeutic for us. Here are a few of our favorite remember whens:

  • Remember when the ambient light for sexy time used to be candles instead of a baby monitor?

  • Remember when we used to be cool? Now we know the lyrics to almost every Disney Jr. theme song and sing them loudly.

  • Remember when “sleeping in” meant waking up at noon, not 9am?

  • Remember when boobs were just for fun?

  • Remember when 9pm did not feel like a perfectly appropriate bedtime?

All this remembering really got me thinking about what I truly miss, and what I do not miss about our fun, former lives. So, here is my attempt to quantify these feelings:

Five things I miss the MOST about life before children:

  1. Sleep—Anywhere, everywhere, all the time. Deep, uninterrupted, drool on your pillow, dead to the world sleep.

  2. Money—So much disposable income. Why in the world wasn’t I rich? Oh that’s right, I drank it away.

  3. Cleanliness—I didn’t appreciate the lack of vomit, urine, and cheerio on everything I own.

  4. Spontaneity—Wake up in the morning and take an impromptu trip the beach. Drinking in the afternoon. Answering to no one but yourself. The freedom!

  5. Day Sex—Sigh. I am not brave enough to risk the possible psychological damage to myself and my children.

 

Five things I miss the LEAST about life before children:

  1. Hangovers—I would rather birth several children sans medicine than experience today a hangover from my 20s. Ouch.

  2. Existential angst—I spent a lot of time pre-babies wallowing and dwelling on what it all meant. Philosophical musings are important, but for me this just became depressing.

  3. Irresponsibility—Being drunk and crazy all the time starts looking less cute and more pathetic. I am not arguing that childbirth naturally makes people more responsible, but I was ready for the next phase of my life.

  4. Asking to hold other people’s babies—Frankly, it’s just awkward. Now I have two of my own to snuggle endlessly.

  5. Too much money—Alright, you caught me. This is just absurd, and as hard as I tried I just couldn’t think of another bad thing about my pre-baby life!

Would I change a single thing about my life right now? No. But, remembering who I was as a person before becoming a mother is important. Remembering who we were as a couple before becoming parents is important. So if we get a little wistful for the glory days of our youth, so be it. I would like to think that there will be spontaneity and day sex again in our future. Until then, you can find us doing a pretty dynamic family version of “Let It Go”.

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Green BEAN Delivery...Delivers


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Where was all this passion coming from? The sheer level of enthusiasm and excitement and just love exuding from the end of the table at Green BEAN Delivery last month was contagious at best as Matt Ewer spoke to theCityMoms.

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Wait, let me back up for a minute.

We arrived at GBDHQ – that’s Green BEAN Delivery Headquarters – ready for a special CityMoms-only lunch and learn session with Matt Ewer and Beth Blessing, founders and owners of Green BEAN Delivery.

Wait, let me back up yet another minute.

The second the invitation hit my inbox, I knew it was bound to be a hit. We, theCityMoms, were being invited to GBDHQ for a lunch, meet-and-greet with the owners, nutritional walk-through and discovery of their services. And with all of the “I don’t have time some weeks to grocery shop” and “I just wish there was a convenient delivery service that also believes in good food for my fam” conversations that had been swirling back and forth on theCityMoms’ private members-only page, this invite was going to become a very hot ticket for our moms indeed.

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We announced it and immediately had 20 members ready to go. Rarely do we find events packed with that much immediate panache {unless of course it involves some kind of Ryan Gosling viewing because then, well…} but this did it.

As a fan of Green BEAN for close to 3 years, I’ve watched them grow from compact-sized to starting-to-hedge-national-status level, and couldn’t wait for our moms to see and hear firsthand.

The entire Green BEAN family was out to greet us as we arrived – the founders/owners, customer service, marketing, PR team and more. Lunch was spread out with goodies from some of our local favorites like Smoking Goose, Moveable Feast and more, but once Matt started speaking, our entire group of chatty-Cathy moms hushed.

“We’re parents. So we get it,” said Matt. “We’re trying to raise our kids healthy too so we like to think that we’ve brought this same level of expectation and family value to our company.”

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In extreme short – and a description meant to really whet your palette so you investigate more: Green BEAN Delivery is a simple grocery delivery service. With a primary focus on organic fruits and vegetables, boxes are pre-loaded on a weekly basis with a selection of primarily in-season produce, but customizable if someone at home hates, say kiwi {ahem, mwah}. Shoppers can add and delete items at will, including some from the vast selection of general grocery items, bulk goods, meats, dairy and more. “Household items are definitely something we get asked about – we’re looking into it,” says Matt.

The greatest thing about Green BEAN Delivery is the ease of customizing. “That was important to us too,” the founders spoke. “How do we make it easier for our customers? We like to think of ourselves as a tech company who likes to get dirty.”

But our adventure to GBDHQ was about more than just learning the basics of the service.

Owner Beth – also a licensed dietitian – walked our group through the steps to make a mason jar salad, more Pinterest-worthy than I can explain. Whoever thought salad-eating was this simple, by loading all the dressing first, the savory/heavy items in the next layer, followed by the greens. When ready to eat, simply shake to combine and voila.

Then she talked us through healthy lunch options for our kids; suggestions that in my 8 years of parenting left me thinking why didn’t I think of that?

Meat jerky instead of the same-ole’ sandwiches.  Salted nuts as protein stand ins. Mini yogurts {here’s looking at you Trader’s Point Creamery} with individual helpings of granola, fruit and more. My go-to sandwich with pretzels and cookies were dying a quick and fiery death.

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But what really hit at the heart of the matter was Matt’s simple declaration to our crew: “Green BEAN Delivery is about evolution, not revolution.” Boom. For them it’s about continuing to evolve the service, the products they provide and the outreach to the community {which in and of itself could comprise an entirely different post!}.

If we weren’t already sold, then the sheer chatter of the moms who attended back at our theCityMoms private member forum was enough to rile up even more new signups.

I know I personally have loved being a Green BEAN customer, even so much as when a few spare chocolates showed up in my weekly bin one day with a love note from GBD Marketing Manager James. It’s this level of passion we saw on display at our lunch and learn, and the same level you see brought to the table at every corner.

Thank you Green BEAN Delivery for offering such peek behind your curtain. Now excuse us – we have some brussel sprouts and tangelos to devour.

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MORE INFO: Green BEAN Delivery offers weekly, bi-weekly and other delivery options. Bins are available beginning at $28 and can be customized to your heart’s content. Sign up today as a new customer using the code CITYMOMS15 and save $15 on your first bin purchase. Offer is valid thru 5/31/2016.

 

theCityMoms would like to thank Green BEAN Delivery for their wonderful hospitality and Dittoe Public Relations for not only their extreme patience but also their ongoing kindness to our network of moms. 

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Spring Into Fitness

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Spring is finally here…it’s time to get outside and enjoy the sun with your little ones! While you are outside, why not take the opportunity to squeeze in some exercise while you are enjoying the outdoors?! After months of being stuck indoors, it’s wonderful to finally be able to do outdoor activities.

Here are some great suggestions on activities, places and exercises which you can do with your little ones outside this spring!

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Walking Trails

Find a group of moms/parents to go for weekly walks or stroller jogs! Hamilton County has so many wonderful trails so why not organize a group to get together weekly for walks on the Monon or in your neighborhood.    While you are on your walk, a great way to add a little extra strength training is by doing walking lunges!

 

  • Walking Stroller lunges:

    Stand behind your stroller with your hands on the handlebar shoulder-width apart. Lunge forward with one leg, pushing the stroller out in front of you. Your knee should be directly above your ankle and your thigh parallel to the ground. Return to the standing position and lunge with the other leg.

 

Parks

Parks are a fantastic place to take your little ones to get in a little exercise. Not only are they going to love playing on the slides and swings, but there are a lot of ways in which you can incorporate the equipment into an exercise.  During your morning or afternoon at the park, take a few minutes and do “Kiss the Baby Push-ups”.

 

  • Kiss the baby push-ups

    Find a bench and park your baby's stroller safely against the bench with the brake in place. Facing your baby/stroller, place your arms shoulder-width apart on it. Keeping back and abdominals strong, lower your chest to the bench and then press back to the starting position. Keep your body in a straight line. As you are lowering your body, give your little one a quick little smooch or peek-a-boo for some giggles!

 

Backyard

Where is an easier location than your backyard to take your little one to enjoy the beautiful weather? Here are 2 easy & fast exercises you can do in the luxury of your backyard which will get your heart pounding and little ones giggling!

 

  • Peek-a-boo Squats

    Stand behind your stroller with your hands on the handlebar shoulder-width apart. With your feet and knees forward, squat down as if sitting on a chair, keeping your weight in your heels and your knees directly above your ankles. (Be careful not to put weight on the stroller; you don't want it to tip.) Squeeze your rear end and return to the starting position. As you squat down in front of your baby, play a fun game of peek-a-boo so you can hear their adorable baby belly laughs!

  

  • Tickle-Toes Fast Feet

    While outside, park your baby’s stroller with the brake in place. Facing the stroller, use jog in place with “fast feet”, as your are jogging in place, every 10 seconds, jump up and as your land on your feet, tickle your little ones toes! This is sure to loads of laughs out of your little one!

 

Baby Boot Camp-Carmel, Noblesville & Fishers has classes at St. Vincent Fishers Hospital and The Fashion Mall. Your first class is always free, register at www.babybootcamp.com or contact kara.babcock@babybootcamp.com 

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Mom of the Month: Jeanine

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Did you know that there are over 700 active members in theCityMoms? Impressive, right? We figured it was time to get to know one another. Sure, we meet each other at events or recognize names from social media, but we want to dig a little deeper. Each month we will highlight a member of theCityMoms community. Yes, it will take some time to introduce everyone, but it will be worth the wait!

 

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Jeanine Bobenmoyer is many things, but STILL is definitely not one of them.  It’s a very good thing that she doesn’t require much sleep because who has time for that with her schedule?  You most likely know her as the Chief Mom Officer and Co-Founder of theCityMoms, but her resume goes on for days as does her indomitable spirit. Is it obvious that I am a huge fan of hers? Believe me, she is worthy.

In addition to co-founding theCityMoms four years ago, Jeanine acts as the Digital Editor for Indy’s Child magazine, is a contributing writer for Visit Hamilton County, serves as a board member for the Peewinkle Puppet Studios, and recently retired from her side gig at Anthropologie. And when she’s not busy doing all of that, she returns to her starring role as mom to Hunter, 8, and Emerson, 5; wife to advertising executive Brad; and new homeowner undertaking a massive renovation. Like I said, thank goodness she requires very little sleep.

When I first met Jeanine at a theCityMoms event shortly after I joined the group I was immediately struck by the fact that she introduced herself to me and already knew me by name. It was such a simple but meaningful gesture, and dispelled all of my fears about mom groups and how I would fit in. I am guessing that many of you had a similar experience. You see the common thread in all of Jeanine’s personal and professional endeavors is her natural gift of connecting to people and connecting people with one another. She personifies the phrase “people person”.

Jeanine began connecting people in high school when she and her friends founded clubs and got involved in community outreach. This passion continued during her time at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and carried over to her professional life as a marketer and advertiser. Jeanine told me, “I love bringing people together.” And she has done just that with the creation of theCityMoms.

TheCityMoms was born out of a need for a support group for women that was accessible, supportive, and not hyper specific to a certain type of mom. Jeanine firmly believes that “moms learn from each other” and was determined to create a group that could provide this support for Indianapolis moms. Four years later, I think it’s safe to say that she was successful. The group is home to over 700 active members and has become the premier events and support group for the Indy community. Jeanine is a self-described open person and makes herself vulnerable and available to the group. She is proud to have created a group where “Moms are able to support and love each other despite their differences.”

When it comes to her own parenting style, Jeanine is an adventurous mom. She says she is not particularly crafty or Pinterest-y, but she likes teaching her kids through experience. She was raised by a single mother who likely out of necessity taught Jeanine the value of adventure and finding experience in everyday life, such as “free smells” at the market. So, Jeanine is super mom by day, and at night when everyone else is sleeping, she gets to work.

Being the good sport that she is, Jeanine didn’t mind answering the five questions all of our “Moms of the Month” will be asked:

1. What five items would you bring to a desert island?

The entire Led Zeppelin repertoire; a lifetime supply of Starbucks Chai; my husband; my children; a vat of Northern Michigan wine

2. What song are you listening to on repeat?

“Thorn in My Pride” on Southern Album by The Black Crowes

3. What are you reading right now?

I just finished The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty, and “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer is on my nightstand

4. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

I binge watch TV. Lately I have indulged in “Making a Murderer” and “Younger”

5. What is your fondest recent mom memory?

I found a video on my phone from Emerson. It was long, and I thought she wasn’t aware that it was in video mode until she looked at the camera and said ‘I love you, Mom. I love you, Dad’. I melted. She is my heart.

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So when she isn’t making the rest of us with just one job look lazy, she can be found running the trails at Fort Ben or representing theCityMoms at the latest and greatest event in Indy, or maybe, on a rare quiet night, you can find her at home pouring over her stash of interior design books. In the future, Jeanine would love to see a chapter of theCityMoms in every city, but for now she is happy if she is able to impact just a few lives and make the journey of parenting just a little bit easier.

Tune in next month to see which theCityMoms member Jeanine thinks you should know…

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A Full House: Surviving with Babies of the Human and Fur Variety

Bringing together dogs and kids has its own special rewards and challenges. My dogs weren’t raised around kids, so I was a little nervous when we brought home Jack. Fortunately, the dogs have adapted fairly well to having a baby in the house. Now that Jack is crawling, and almost walking, it is a whole different ball game. My dogs have two different reactions to anything fast moving and noisy (aka Jack). Rusty gets scared, and Torchy’s herding instincts kick in. The first time Jack crawled toward Rusty, I swear Rusty’s life flashed before his eyes. So, we have been working with both dogs on calm behavior when Jack is crawling around the house. We have also been working with Jack on being gentle with the dogs. It is definitely a work in progress.

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Rusty and Torchy in a down stay while Jack removes gets out all of his toys.

 

Here are my rules of thumb when the dogs and Jack are in the room together:

  1. Watch the dogs’ body language
  2. Keep it positive
  3. Set clear boundaries
  4. Give the dogs an exit
  5. Give myself a break 

 

Signs of stress in dogs can be as subtle as lip licking or a slight freeze, or it can be obvious like a growl or a snap. Subtle signs precede the more obvious signs in behaviorally healthy dogs. When Jack first started crawling, he was headed for a toy, and Rusty was in his path. As Jack crawled, Rusty’s eyes dilated, and he froze momentarily. I saw the behavior and picked up Jack, which allowed Rusty make a safe exit. I want the dogs to learn to leave any situation where they are uncomfortable. When the dogs are out with Jack, I have to keep an eye on what their body language is telling me. If it looks like the dogs are stressed or overly excited than I have to stop and switch tactics. That might mean moving the dogs to a different area, switching to an activity Jack can participate in, or breaking out some higher value treats. (If your dog growls at anyone, especially your child, seek help from a certified trainer or talk to your veterinarian).

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From the day we brought him home from the hospital, Jack’s presence has been paired with the dogs’ favorite things. Treats are always nearby, and whenever I can, I include Jack for Frisbee games and walks. I also actively prevent Jack from accidentally hurting or scaring the dogs. Yes, that involves me pretty much following him all over the house if the dogs are nearby. Recently Jack has started wanting to pet the dogs. He is only allowed to touch the dogs if I am helping him so that we practice gentle touches (open flat hand, preferably with only two fingers) and only if the dogs come to him. There is no chasing of the dogs.

 

Setting boundaries is a little trickier, but by having them in place now, I am hoping we are laying the foundation for happy boy/dog relationships. Of course Jack is too young to understand any kind of actual rules, but they are still there. Right now we are focusing on using gentle touches to pet the dogs (and the cats).

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Kit Kat is much more tolerant of Jack's attention then the dogs. She is rewarded well with treats for her patience.

 

Rusty and Torchy have their own rules to follow, they both have to be calm and have all four feet on the floor if Jack is nearby. They also have to respond to me when I give them commands. I always make sure the dogs have an exit so they can move away from Jack if he gets to be too much for them. That may be leaving the room, or it may be getting up on the couch while I redirect Jack’s interest to a toy or other activity.

dog4.jpg Rusty and Torchy waiting for Jack and I to come out and P-L-A-Y (the dogs know the word so we have to spell it or they get too excited).

 

I love my dogs and I want to have them out in the house. Right now though, if they are out with Jack I am right there the whole time. It can be exhausting. We all have to be having fun or we stop and take a break. The dogs can go outside for a while or hang out in another room with a peanut butter stuffed Kong. When Jack naps, the dogs can relax a bit with me. Some days are easier than others but we are slowly learning to navigate the world with two active dogs and an almost toddler.

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What To Wear At Disney

My family just got back from a magical week at the happiest place on Earth, Walt Disney World. I spent months planning this trip, from researching hotels and park attractions to making dining and Fast Past reservations. And of course, I also put a fair amount of thought into what I would wear. Those of you who have been there can attest, you do A LOT of walking at Disney. Upwards of 7-8 miles a day! So comfort is key. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still look cute. You are likely going to be taking tons of pictures that you’ll cherish for years to come. If you don’t want to be immortalized in yoga pants and a T-shirt, here are a few ideas for cute and comfy Disney wear.

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Comfortable footwear is a must at Disney but that doesn’t mean you have to wear your workout sneakers. Fashion sneakers like these Pumas are a cute alternative. Pair them with distressed jeans and a fun graphic tee. A field jacket is a great piece to throw on for cool mornings or evenings. A crossbody bag with lots of pockets will give you quick access to all your necessities throughout the day.

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Elevate a basic casual outfit, like these dark wash denim Bermuda shorts and simple linen tank, with this darling tassled scarf. Throw a hoodie in your stroller in case of cool weather. Sandals with arch support and ankle straps, like these from Vionic, will keep your feet happy much longer than a cheap pair of flip-flops. If, like me, you are past the diaper stage, a compact crossbody bag will be all you need.

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A casual dress, like this T-shirt dress from Athleta, can be a great alternative to shorts. Pair it with a denim jacket and some slip on sneakers like these Skechers and you’ll be comfy and cool walking through the parks. I couldn’t resist adding this adorable diaper bag that features a subtle Minnie Mouse design. To sum up, casual layers with comfy shoes are a must. Add accents like a colorful scarf, a jacket and a cute bag, for a more polished and pull-together look in the most magical place on Earth.

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BRICS-Birthday Parties for all Seasons

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What seems like a very long time ago, my pre-child self would have scoffed at the idea of a birthday party for a one-year-old.  Why go to all that trouble for someone who won’t even remember? Several years later and all logic drowned by mothering hormones and a perpetual parental daze, I find myself planning my second first birthday party. So not all of my pre-mother cynicism is gone, I don’t believe in spending a small fortune or throwing an over-the-top shindig for someone who will be none the wiser. But I do understand now the importance of celebrating parents who manage to keep a human being alive and thriving for a year, and it’s quite nice to mark the milestone of your baby becoming a toddler. In fact, I get a little teary just thinking about it. And let’s be honest, there are quite a few pages in the baby book dedicated to that first birthday, so party time it is.

 

My ground rules for a first birthday party:

  1. It has to be affordable.
  2. It has to be easy.
  3. It has to be fun.
  4. It has to be cute

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So, when I started brainstorming what to do for my Christmas baby’s first birthday, I thought of a local place that meets all of these rules—BRICS Indy in Broad Ripple. If you haven’t been to BRICS yet, I highly recommend you stop reading immediately and go get a tasty treat at BRICS. It was one of my family’s first local discoveries in Indianapolis, and it has a sweet spot in my heart (cheesy pun intended).  And although we would be celebrating right in the peak of winter, BRICS offered an option that was seasonal and definitely met all of my criteria.

Affordable: BRICS allowed me to rent their space for a very reasonable fee. Although we didn’t have exclusive use of the shop, the fact that we partied in an ice cream shop in late December really minimized the foot traffic. I had about a dozen adults and half a dozen children, and the space was definitely adequate.

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Easy: I did not have to clean my house before or after this party. Enough said. We brought balloons, a few choice decorations, and that was it. BRICS has really cute décor, and they provided everything else we would need. They even offer birthday cakes, but I chose to make my son’s smash cake because I wanted to exercise my Pinterest muscle.

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Fun: BRICS set up an adorable s’mores bar for our guests, featuring bunson burners, graham crackers, marshmallows, and a delicious array of goodies such as bananas, Reese’s cups, and chocolate bars. It was really cute to watch the kids make their own S’mores. We also had pitchers of coffee, hot chocolate, and tea, and guests were free to order ice cream or any of the other delicious treats on the BRICS menu.

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Cute: Children with chocolate smeared faces. An ice cream parlor with vintage charm. S’mores fixings. My baby boy turning one surrounded by some great friends. Cuteness overload.

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All in all, we had a great day celebrating my little man. We didn’t spend a fortune. We had a lot of fun. We supported a fantastic local business, and we enjoyed some really tasty treats. Ashley Greeley, the General Manager, of BRICS was so accommodating and responsive during the party planning. She and her staff worked hard to make the party a success and were incredibly patient with the sugared up children running around their establishment.  BONUS—City Moms receive a perk at BRICS Indy, which can be applied to birthday parties.  BRICS is located right on the Monon and features a spacious outside patio, so it would be really perfect for this lovely Spring weather we are starting to enjoy.  So, whether you are planning a birthday party or just hankering for some delicious ice cream and sweets, head on over to BRICS Indy and check out their Website for more information:

www.bricsindy.com

 

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A Millennial Mom and Her To-Do List

It is my day off, Jack has just woken from a nap and I watch as he plays with his toys. In the back of my mind, however, my thoughts center on my seemingly never ending to do list. I work full time as a veterinarian, and I love what I do. When I am at work, I focus on my patients. It is a busy day, and I love it. When I get home, the pressure of being gone all day hits. In my head, I should be able to work full time, keep the house clean, do the errands, be a fully present mom and wife, while still getting a good night’s sleep and taking some time for myself. I admit my expectations are not realistic.

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As I sit on the living room floor with Jack on my day off, I feel that same familiar pressure. There is so much to do. Clean laundry sits in baskets needing hung up. There are dishes in the sink and phone calls to return. As I sit on the floor, I realize how badly I need to vacuum, a common occurrence when you live with four furry pets. I am also not sure when the bathrooms had a good cleaning, and they are definitely due. The longer I think, the longer the list in my head gets. These chores tend to pile up during the week. When I have a day off, I expect to be able to get all of these things caught up and more. I also want to enjoy time with my son.

I am sure all mothers face conflict like this. We live in such a busy world, and it seems that there is always more to do than there is time to do it. We choose how we spend the time we have, but it can be difficult to enjoy the moment when you feel you need to be in two (or ten) places at once. Whatever I choose to do, there is guilt over what I am choosing not to do. I am learning to let go of the guilt.

Watching Jack play on the floor in front of me, I weigh my options. If I let him play with his toys by himself, I can work on at least some of these nagging household chores. He is good at entertaining himself, and I am still technically spending time with him. Multitasking is certainly possible, and there are definitely times when it is what I do. However, doing multiple activities at once means I am not fully participating in any one of them. This is not a big deal for the laundry, but potentially a big deal for my son.

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I take a deep breath and remind myself of my priorities. People (and then the animals) come first, laundry and everything else can wait. I pull Jack into my arms and he laughs as I cover him with kisses and blow raspberries into his neck. In this moment, I choose to play with my son. At another time on another day, I may make a different decision.

It sounds like an easy decision to make. Of course, my son is my priority. It does not feel easy to me. I am a busy person and in general, I like it that way. All too often, I over extend myself. I stress when I feel like I am not doing enough or when I am not meeting my own expectations (which I fully admit are usually pretty unreasonable without the ability to control time or clone myself).

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Veterinary school was a crash course in too much to do with too little time. I am used to that. What I am learning now, is how to enjoy what I am doing while letting go of the rest. It does not come naturally to me, but practice makes perfect… or at least better. When I start feeling overwhelmed by all the things I feel I need to do, I do the following:

  1. Breathe
  2. Prioritize
  3. Act
  4. Enjoy

Taking a deep breath allows me to pause and stop the spiraling to do list in my head. I know what my priorities are and my family is always at the top of the list. It seems a bit silly to remind myself that playing with Jack is more important than folding laundry, but it does help me see the bigger picture. Knowing my priorities helps me choose how to manage my time. Taking an action that reflects my decision comes next. It is my way of telling my brain that I have made my choice. I hope that I can then get out of my head and enjoy what I am doing with less internal nagging.

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In this moment, I soak up the sound of my son’s laughter and watch as his face lights up. Everything else will still be there later when he takes a nap. The clothes will eventually be put away (hey, at least they are clean), and my husband usually does the dishes and the vacuuming anyway. The bathrooms, however… well, maybe we will hire a cleaning service eventually. Another moment will be another choice, and whatever I choose is ok. 

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Prenatal Fitness: Fact vs. Fiction

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Being in my 7th month of pregnancy with my baby girl and a Group Fitness Instructor, I often get a lot of questions about exercising during pregnancy and whether or not it's safe for the mom and baby. This pregnancy is my 2nd and has definitely been a lot more difficult this time around with morning sickness and overall lower energy levels. However, the time of day that I feel my best is during my daily stroller fitness class. Getting my heart rate going with the cardio and strength exercises, being active with my little guy, and the support of the other moms make that hour of exercise the best part of the day. With that being said, I thought I'd take this opportunity to clear up the most popular myths about prenatal fitness. 

 

FACT VS. FICTION


Exercise is safe for all pregnant women.

Fiction!

While exercise is safe (and encouraged) for most pregnant women, there are situations when it should be avoided. All pregnant women should check with their medical provider before starting an exercise program.

For those who are able to exercise, there are numerous benefits to prenatal exercise including:

  • Easing the physical discomforts of pregnancy and labor.

  • Fighting the baby blues.

  • Increasing energy.

  • Boosting self-confidence.

  • Setting a positive example for your entire family.

  • Fostering good sleep habits.

  • Decreasing stress.

  • Helping to foster a positive attitude

 

A woman’s heart rate cannot exceed 140 beats per minute (bpm) during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Fiction! 

You should be able to hold a comfortable conversation without feeling breathless. However, make sure that you are increasing your hydration during your workouts and if you start to feel dizzy, out of breath and/or any sort of pain, stop immediately (and check it your doctor).  It's also important to modify your exercises as your pregnancy progresses. For example, if you are in a group fitness class make sure you notify your instructor as soon as you know that you are pregnant so that they can offer you the appropriate modifications thought your pregnancy. 

 

Working on abdominal muscles is a waste of time during pregnancy.

Fiction!

Strengthening your abs and entire core is important during pregnancy. A strong core, abdominals, back, and pelvic floor, aid in the delivery room and also help with birth recovery. Keeping your abs tight while sitting in a chair, driving, and even while watching TV does strengthen your core!

 

Pregnant women are prone to more injuries.

Fact!

Due to the hormone relaxin you are more prone to injuries during pregnancy.  Pregnant women should listen to their bodies during strength training exercises like pushups, squats, and plyometrics. When returning to exercise postpartum, women should wait 6-8 weeks to resume an exercise routine. It takes 16 weeks for the pelvic floor to heal from birth. It's very important to take care of yourself and start slowly back into your routine. 

 

Pregnant women can eat as much as they want.

Fiction!

Although pregnant women should eat more than their pre-baby selves (300 extra calories daily), keep in mind 300 calories isn't as much as you think so make sure you are choosing healthy snacks. 

 

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Could You Be A Babysitter?

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Is stay-at-home-momming your current gig? How’s it going? I mean, how is it really, truly going?

If your family has to make serious household budget cuts in order for you to stay home, you’re not alone. Many of us are in the same boat, floating through the sea of parenthood while sacrificing cable TV, shopping trips to Anthropologie, and our beloved Starbucks.  

Fellow CityMom Melanie Allen and blogger Lindsey Henry (of LindseyJane.com) stopped by Lullaby Sitters to talk about why the SAHM life doesn’t have to be one filled with sacrifices. Babysitting and nannying is a great way to build up your bankroll. Here are Melanie and Lindsey’s top reasons to begin babysitting.

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1. Extra money - let’s be honest: money is always at the forefront of our decision making. Babysitters earn anywhere from $7-15 per hour based on education and experience. That can add up quickly if you watch a kiddo full time while his parents are working!

2. Flexibility - Not looking for a full time gig? See if your neighbor needs before of after school care for her kids. Know a couple who desperately needs a date night? Simply work one or two nights a week for them. Unlike a traditional 9 to 5, you’re calling the shots here. Work when you want.

3. Convenience - Look… you already have a ton of toys at your house. You have chicken nuggets in the freezer and more applesauce than you know what to do with. You’re a pro at brushing Barbie hair. As a mom, you’ve got this kid care thing down pat. Total advantage!

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4. Fun! - If your kids are school-aged or older, babysitting little ones can instantly take you back to the days when it was all about puzzles, blocks, and Sesame Street. If your kids are little, too, bringing other kiddos into the mix can provide your kids with playmates, while also offering a chance to teach important skills like sharing, cooperation, and teamwork.

5. Dress Code - Kiddos don’t care what you wear... as long as you can get on the floor and play! Simply throw on yoga pants and your favorite tee shirt and you’re ready to go.

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Ready to get started? Create a Lullaby Sitters profile to connect with Families in your area and get the conversation started. Attend one of our Speed Sitting events to meet several Parents at once! And remember, Sitters ALWAYS sign up free!

 

Ready to babysit, register at https://www.lullabysitters.com/resumes/register

To read more from Lindsey Henry, visit her blog at http://www.lindseyjane.com

To learn more about Lullaby Sittters, visit https://www.lullabysitters.com and http://www.thecitymoms.org/lullaby_sitters

 

 

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Love Notes to My Girlfriends

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Yes, you read that right.

This Valentine's Day, I'm writing love notes to all my favorite friends. Sure, I might get a card for my husband too, but this Valentine’s Day, I’m focusing on my friend-love.

I have a group of friends, who I’ve known since high school (or longer) and we get together once a month for dinner at someone’s house. In December, I explained my idea for February's dinner and everyone rolled their eyes. Mostly because they're just tired of me coming up with weird ideas and making them do it so I can write about it. But here's my thinking: some of us give cards to our spouses or boyfriends and some of us don't give cards to anyone because we're single. And while romantic love is grand and lovely and blah blah blah, there are a lot of other people in my life that I love and I probably don't mention it enough.

One of the reasons I love this completely made-up and ridiculous holiday is because I get to do fun stuff with my kids whom I love dearly, I get to wear pink and red to school and not feel like I'm clashing, and people are just nicer to each other on this day. So when I was thinking about loving people well (something I want to do better), I thought about all the non-romantic love I have for people in my life and how they might not know how much I dig them.

So I'm writing love notes to my girlfriends this year.

I'm making them write notes also even though they're all grumbling and one person has dubbed this "lesbian card exchange." I'm not asking for everyone to write page-long letters to everyone else in the group, but I am asking everyone to write something. A little encouragement, a thanks, a funny story, a favorite memory of them, whatever, I'm just asking my friends to write to each other. It's making some people really uncomfortable, and I realize not everyone loves to write like I do, but I do know everyone likes to receive cards and since handwritten ones are best, we're working through the grumbling.

I'm also completely aware that my friends are good sports. I find it slightly funny that they roll their eyes at my ideas and then just do it anyway. Those are some good friends, guys. Go get yourself some of those if you don't have them.

So this week, I'm exchanging Valentine's Day cards with my girlfriends. I didn't think through whether we'd open them up in front of everyone, I kinda hope we don't, but I can't wait to hand out my cards. And I hope this sticks, that we get to spend every February for years to come trading cards with each other. Some of these girls were around to put their Cabbage Patch and Lisa Frank cards in my shoebox mailbox in elementary school and I'm just thankful they're still in my life. And that they just roll their eyes and accept me.

 

This post originally appeared February 2015 on TrustyChucks.com

http://trustychucks.com/2015/02/writing-love-notes-to-my-girlfriends/

 

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Meet your Next Babysitter through Lullaby Sitters

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Do you have a babysitter you love? I didn’t either and it was stressing me out. So I began my search and was completely overwhelmed by the process. I just felt like there had to be an easier way to streamline everything. After hearing and reading countless negative reviews about nation-wide caregiver matching sites with no real presence in Indy, I decided to create Lullaby Sitters.  https://www.lullabysitters.com

Lullaby Sitters is a way for parents to connect with potential babysitters and nannies in the Indy area. As a parent member, you’ll have access to sitter and nanny profiles, where you can learn about a sitter’s work experience, educational background, rates, areas she’s willing to travel, and much more. If you find a sitter you’re interested in learning more about, simply send a message through our website to begin the conversation!

I know what you’re thinking… this sounds familiar, right? Well, kinda. Here are three ways Lullaby Sitters is different.

  • Two words: Speed. Sitting. Have you ever heard of Speed Dating? Ya know, where you buzz from seat to seat, chatting with eligible bachelors to see if any of them spark your interest. That’s what we do with babysitters! Our Speed Sitting events allow parents to meet up to twelve sitters at once. You explain what type of care you're looking for, your kids’ ages and interests, and anything else you’d like to share while learning about your potential sitter’s education, background, rates, and more.

  • Lullaby Sitters is exclusive to the Indianapolis-area. You’ll only be meeting sitters nearby.

  • We’ve partnered with Safe Hiring Solutions for our Expanded Criminal History Screenings. This is the same screening teachers are required to have for employment. Only Members will have access to requesting these reports. Think of it as another layer of confidence when making your decision to hire someone.

    For more information on the extended background checks, go to https://www.lullabysitters.com/info-and-options

 

Here’s how it works:

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https://www.lullabysitters.com/about-us/how-it-works/

 

Ready to get started? Head over to theCityMoms Perks page  https://www.thecitymoms.org/partners to get 25% off a Parent membership! Then create your profile, hire your sitter, and enjoy your well-deserved free time! Cheers!


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A Big Move for A Big Girl

My little one turned FOUR at the beginning of the month, and I can’t remember anymore when she moved from her crib to her big girl bed… It feels like forever ago.  She used to be the most solid sleeper and it was A M A Z I N G!  I was super spoiled by her.  We would lay her in bed, turn music on, say goodnight and shut the door – that was the bedtime routine.  A M A Z I N G like I said.

Last fall we changed her from her original BIG (full) bed to a twin bed for the sake of space in her room.  She has way too many things, and the full bed was just getting in the way.  But ever since then, she’s not only been NOT sleeping through the night, but she’s made her way to the middle of our bed most nights instead.

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So after much deliberation, we decided to move her to our guest bedroom where the BIG bed fits better.  So far, not much change as she tends to usually wake up around three o’clock AM AND (not or) four o’clock AM.  So while we are not making much progress in the SLEEP IN YOUR OWN DARN BED KID way, it gave me a chance to redecorate again.  

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At first I thought I’d have to repaint the room from what it currently is, to a white.  I just thought it made more sense for a little girl.  But after chatting about it with a design friend, and realizing I really didn’t want to repaint, we just started moving things in.  The BIG bed, which was already there and my favorite – a $60 find at a Noblesville Antique store, resembles a Jenny Lind, which it very well might be.  The dresser, another favorite—a $75 Craigslist find.  The teepee, because every little girl needs a teepee in their room these days.  And other odds and ends that we already had in our house… The key to finding good things on Craigslist or at antique stores is really a combination of luck and consistency. The key to finding things in our house—well that’s probably just considered hoarding.

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While the room isn’t completely finished, it just makes more sense for her.  It’s a little bigger and gives her more room to play as she grows.  It’s a little moodier, which is totally her, but it still incorporates pieces she’s had since she was a baby mixed with new ones.  

We even gave her a little fairy door, which was the easiest DIY I’ve EVER done.  So easy anyone can do it! Go to Hobby Lobby right now with your 40% off coupon and head to the dollhouse area.  Grab your favorite door.  Head home and spray paint the door - takes 10 seconds.  Adhere to wall with your own preferred method—mine was 2 nails under the door so it sits on top of it in case the fairies prefer a different location.  

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While there are still some things that need coming together, we are hoping that the cozier it gets, the sleepier she stays.  It also opens up her old room to become a nursery when I make progress on that “have a baby” New Year’s resolution…

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What To Wear Survival Guide: Valentine's Day Edition

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us! If you have plans to celebrate with your sweetie but are struggling with what to wear, I’ve put together a few ideas that may help.

 

For a casual night out, perhaps dinner and a movie, you can’t go wrong with dark-wash skinny jeans and a tunic-style sweater in a bold hue. Pull on a pair of over the knee boots to really add some oomph! A layered necklace, glittery cuff and neutral handbag complete the look.

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If your plans include a fancy dinner or show, a body-con dress, like this gorgeous velvet piece in a deep burgundy hue, is sure to impress. Add a faux fur wrap to keep warm, statement heels and pearls, and your date will not be able to take his eyes off of you.

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Maybe, like me, you are planning to stay in and have a little low-key celebration after the kids are in bed. In that case, you can keep it cute and casual in a fitted boyfriend jean and whimsical sweater with an airy scarf and Chucks. Add some sexy lingerie and a racy movie for a romantic at-home Valentine’s date.

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Images courtesty of Polyvore.com

All outfits designed by the author using Polyvore.com

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Time To Talk at/about The Urban Chalkboard

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Confession time: I think I might be the last mother in the city of Indianapolis to discover the maternal oasis known as The Urban Chalkboard. And no, “oasis” is not too strong of a word. Yes, I heard the chatter, saw the advertisements, noticed the social media check-ins, but for whatever reason I never made the trek up to Carmel to investigate in person. When I received an invitation for an event previewing the Urban Chalkboard’s new lineup of classes, I knew it was time to finally get myself there to see what all the hype was about.  Really, there are so many things to love about Urban Chalkboard, many of which I will list for you, but if I am having a true confessional moment, I must admit that my favorite thing was my ability to carry on a conversation with an adult…get this…in the presence of children.  Oasis, I kid you not. And when I say conversation I mean a good five minute stretch of uninterrupted grown-up talk. Of course we probably were talking about our kids, but only because we wanted to and not because we were constantly pausing to say, “Hold on, honey” or “What did Mommy say about interrupting?”  To be honest, I almost started to miss my daughter who disappeared quickly after our arrival, but I can’t say I blame her.  As much as The Urban Chalkboard was an oasis for me, it was kiddie heaven for her. As I polished my rusty conversational skills, she navigated between the wooden play kitchen, the reading nook, and immersed herself in the classes.

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Urban Chalkboard is as aesthetically pleasing as it is functional and fun. The modern décor was equal parts whimsical and orderly, shelves lined with books surrounding a life-size wooden tree. Benches and tables overlook the play areas, so moms and dads can work while watching their children play. UC serves local goodies such as cookies from Illinois Street Food Emporium, coffee from Liberation Roasting Company, and other Indianapolis delicacies. Free Wi-Fi is just icing on an already delicious cake.  Urban Chalkboard is truly unique in the area, and it is ideal for families with children under the age of five. What truly sets this business apart from other recreational options for families is its founders. Lovingly knowns as “The Two Docs” Drs. Tonya Bergeson-Dana and Jessica Beer bring a wealth of knowledge about child development, psychology, and communication. Dr. Tonya said that everything in the space is intentional, for learning, not just playing. She said that children learn the best through play and develop important skills such as negotiation and social communication. Both doctors hope that the Urban Chalkboard will allow real families access to important information about their children’s growth and development.

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Okay, so why will I go back?  First, let me return to my adult conversation. I don’t mean to belabor the point, but parents will surely understand the rarity of this occasion. Even better, there was no guilt. I was talking to other parents without feeling like I should be watching my child’s every move. There are a few reasons why Urban Chalkboard makes this possible. First, the incredible staff at UC played with my child. These kind and patient souls are all pursuing degrees related to child development, and they were fantastic.  Really, they are cooler than me in the eyes of my three year old, and I am so okay with that. Second, there is just so much to see and do. My daughter played in the kitchen as both a chef and cashier. She read books and swiveled in the mid-century modern reading chairs. She rode a bike around the building, and she played with puzzles. She was busy and loved every minute of it. Third, the physical layout of the space is really conducive to this observation-style of parenting. I could watch my daughter without hovering. I could give her space and freedom, but I could always see that she was safe. I can envision myself being able to actually get work done here while she is happy and harm-free.

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Another reason to return (or to go for the first time if you are a newbie like myself) is the fantastic calendar for the upcoming year. In addition to free play, The Urban Chalkboard will be hosting some dynamic and fun classes for children. “Sense It” allows children of all ages to discover the world with their senses. My little one was absolutely mesmerized with the light table and acrylic building blocks. She shook the sensory tubes and went digging in the fake snow.  Budding musicians will enjoy classes with Mr. Daniel, parent and child classes, and even an instrument petting zoo. And last but certainly not least, cue the glow sticks and house music (G-rated, of course) for the “Baby Rave”. Dimmed lights, dancing children, disco lights, and bubbles. Get ready to be entertained.

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If you have now succeeded me as the last Mom or Dad in Indianapolis not to have visited The Urban Chalkboard, don’t waste another minute. Pack up your kids and your laptop and head to Carmel for a guilt-free, productive, educational, and all-around satisfying afternoon.

 

For more information about The Urban Chalkboard, check out their Website:

http://www.theurbanchalkboard.com/

For more information about their class schedule, click here:

http://www.theurbanchalkboard.com/class-info/calendar/

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Quick Tips to be Fit (with Baby!)

Kara—CityMom, Author, and Owner of Baby BootCamp—shares with us some quick tips for fitness with your little one.

As mothers we have all learned that we have to become multi-taskers! On a daily basis, we are trying to make meals, do laundry, wash dishes, all while taking care of our little ones! With all of these daily to-do’s added to the already enormous duties of a mom, it can make it impossible to squeeze in a workout for yourself. Here are a few fun exercises that you can do with your little one while also getting some of your tasks done at home!

WALKING LUNGES with your baby are a great way to work out your legs and glutes. If you need to go from your family room to your kitchen, pick up your little one and do lunges to the next room. You will not only make your little one giggle, but you’ll also be making yourself stronger!

 If your little one is fussy and likes to move around, try doing SQUATS while holding your baby. As an added bonus, they will love the up & down motion.  When you are doing dishes or brushing your teeth, add in some CALF RAISES.

 

And my favorite exercise to do with my little guy is called “Kiss the Baby” AB CRUNCHES.  Have your little one sit on your stomach and crunch up for a kiss.  You can add in peek-a-boo for a few extra giggles.

 

All of these are great ways to stay active at home during these cold winter months when it seems impossible to bundle everyone up to get to the gym.  And you might even have fun while you are doing it!

Get fit with your baby

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Remembering

Remembering by Mary Graham of TrustyChucks.com

 

Sitting in Jimmy Johns eating a delicious unwich the other day, it hit me: my daughter, Elliott, is reaching the age where she’ll remember this stuff for the rest of her life. In that moment, her daddy was acting silly and she was cackling loudly, her laugh echoing through the whole restaurant and the thought of this moment being burned in her memory forever just hit me. Hard.

 

I have vivid memories of kindergarten. I have a few from before too. So my daughter, who will start kindergarten this year, will remember what she’s doing, saying, and feeling. We’re making memories right now that will last forever in her mind.

 

This thought is overwhelming.

 

Up until this point, we’ve been teaching and showing her things we hope she’ll remember (be kind to others, wash your hands after you go to the bathroom, forgive your sister when she hits you, talk in your indoor voice, don’t pick your nose), but now she’s going to have actual childhood memories that will stay with her.

 

She’ll have memories she will tell her kids one day. She’ll be able to recall that funny thing her Daddy said or the way her Mommy made her feel. These days will come up later, in her stories, in her dreams, in her soul.

 

Maybe with her therapist.

 

This is the first time I remember feeling so overwhelmed with the task of parenting. I had moments when Elliott was first born and the hospital just let me take her home like I knew what I was doing. But we figured it out, Chris, Elliott, and I. We made mistakes (like the time I wanted so badly to save a poop-covered onesie that I pulled it over her head and got poop all over her sweet face and in her fuzzy hair…and then the onesie ended up being stained and I had smeared poop all over my baby for no reason) and we learned. But she doesn’t remember all those times, they were like free passes: I got to learn a lesson while she sat there too little to remember my mistakes.

 

Now she’ll remember. And I’m praying that she looks back at those memories with love and grace. It might be a while, it might take years, but I hope one day, when she’s thinking back to her childhood and how once, in a fit of childish rage, her mom yelled at her to shut up!,  she’ll know it had nothing to do with her. That she’ll understand that Mommy is flawed and human.

 

Once when I was in high school, my mom slapped me across the face. We were standing outside the laundry room, right down the hall from my bedroom. We were in the middle of a fight and I said something rude or hurtful, knowing in all my high school wisdom, just the right, nasty thing to say and my mom reacted by slapping.. After, no words were spoken. I turned around and left and my mom went the other way. I remember this vividly, like it happened yesterday.

 

Here’s what I know now as a thirty-two year old adult: I probably deserved to be slapped; what my mom really should have done is pummel me into the ground; slapping me was probably the lesser of all the evils she could think of in that moment; my mom is flawed and human; she always did what she thought was best. And she loves me fiercely.

 

Parenting is overwhelming.

 

That is not a complaint, it’s just a fact. I signed up for this gig (sort of blindly…), but it seems like each time my kid grows, I have to re-learn parenting. I have to start over, forget everything I thought was right, and do it differently. Sure, some things stay the same, but most of it doesn’t.

 

And now, Ellie will remember. She’ll remember the fun, the giggling, the yelling, the trouble, the mistakes, the trips, the experiences, the words. That realization is bringing a whole new layer to what my actions mean and what is truly important.

 

Man, parenting is hard.

 

This post originally appeared on Trusty Chucks in January 2014.

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Five Must-Try Winter Trends

Happy New Year! This is a time for renewal and fresh starts. As such, it is the perfect opportunity to revamp your wardrobe and break out of your fashion rut. I know it’s winter and it’s easy to just hide under a big coat in yoga pants and a t-shirt, but with just a little effort you can forget the frump and feel confident and stylish. The following five trends are easy to add to your current wardrobe and are sure to make you feel fabulous, even when the weather outside is gloomy and gray.

 

1. Blanket Scarf

Blanket scarves are all the rage right now. They are cheap, add a pop of color to your outfit, and they are super warm. Blanket scarves are nothing more than a big rectangle of fabric, usually a plaid flannel. If you are petite, you may want to cut your blanket scarf in half so that it doesn’t overwhelm your frame.

Blanket scarves can be worn in several ways:

  • Folded in half to form a large triangle and then worn kerchief style
  • Draped across shoulders and belted
  • Folded lengthwise into a long skinny rectangle and worn as a traditional scarf

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Images courtesy of www.thesweetestthingblog.com and www.lamariposablog.com

 

2. Ponchos

Knitted ponchos are another popular trend this winter. Throw one on over skinny jeans or leggings and a top and add some instant style. Bonus-they hide all manner of sins so if you gained a little extra padding over the holidays, ponchos are your friend.

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Images courtesy of www.stylishpetite.com and www.mymomista.com (featuring yours truly!)

 

3. Faux Fur

There is just something so warm and wintery about faux fur. Right now, faux fur accessories are everywhere. The faux fur vest is a huge trend. Add a faux fur vest to jeans and a button-up top or even over a dress and tall boots. If the vest is outside your comfort zone (like it is for me) then try small touches of fur accessories, like scarves and hats.

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Images courtesy of www.laurenmcbrideblog.com and www.mommainflipflops.com

 

4. Booties

Tall boots and skinnies have been part of the mom wardrobe for a few years now, and they are still a great look. However, if you haven’t added some booties to your closet yet, now is the time. Booties come in so many different styles. Flats and heels. Dressy and casual. With fun details like studs, fringe or fur. Best of all, you can find cute booties at any price point.

Booties look great with all types of jeans: skinnies, boot-cut, boyfriend and flared. You can wear them to the office with pants or a skirt and on date night with tights and dress. Quick tip: roll your skinnies or boyfriend jeans to show a little skin at the ankle.

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5. Winter White

I know, I know. No white after Labor Day. However, this is one fashion rule that is past its prime. Break it by pulling out your white denim and pairing with a cozy sweater. Winter white looks great paired with other neutrals as well with bright colors. You cannot go wrong by adding this summer staple to your winter wardrobe.

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Image courtesy of www.thesweetestthingblog.com

 

There you have it. Five easy tweaks to update your wardrobe for 2016. Which one will you try?

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Finding My Happy...xoxo Abby

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Ok Ladies,  I don't know about you, but the new year can always be a bit overwhelming... 
 
That feeling that you need to clear out clutter after you just brought in (most likely) two car loads of toys and gifts in the week before... 
That feeling that you need (or want) to lose 10-15 lbs after you just ate 15 lbs of "stuff" on Christmas... Yes, that's true, I read it somewhere-probably on the internet-which means it's got to be true. 
 
That feeling that you need to get organized when the year has just started, and if you are like me have just gotten your new weekly planner for Christmas.
 
That feeling that you need to do better this year, but you aren't sure where to start because you are always trying to do better...
 
That feeling that you need to read more this year, but you aren't sure if you should follow through with this or sleep instead... 

Oh gosh I'm always so tired... you?  
Maybe it's because I stayed up to watch the ball drop for the first time in like 4 years!  

I feel like my New Year's resolutions are always about the same things: lose weight, read more, get organized, plan better, and spend more quality time with family.This year I think I'm going to try some new things. The resolutions will change a bit, and I'm sure throughout the year I will forget about one or another of these, or I will fall behind on my reading, but I feel like these are pretty simplistic and open ended.  I don't really think you can do any of these things wrong.   I think in the past I've set goals for myself which were really setting myself up for failure only because they weren't realistic for me and my lifestyle.  So this year I'm sticking to these resolutions, and P.S. I promise future blog posts will be about things I love like DIY, Decor, & Lifestyle... But had to get this out of the way!  
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1.  Get Organized -- I feel like if I get better organized I might have more time -- more time to hang with my little one, my husband, my computer (for blogging), my bed (for sleeping, maybe husband if he hasn't annoyed me all day), more books... You get the idea.  I'm hoping that blocking out time and sticking with it will make my life WAY more bearable for everyone involved.
2.  Read More -- So dumb me printed out a 27 books every woman should read -- Well that's not true.  I found a list of like 100 and wrote them all out with the intention of posting it somewhere in my house and crossing them off as I read them... But this list of 27 seems so much more manageable so I'm going to try to tackle 12 this year -- one each month on average.  We shall see how this goes...
3.  Love More -- I find myself feeling overcome by stress and such.... Life getting the best of me.  I hope to spread more love, kindness, affection, and all other words that go along with love this year!  
4.  Have a Baby -- Or get pregnant. I realize this one is out of my control, but let's just hope for the best, because my little one just keeps asking and asking... 
5.  Pray More -- I'm not a hugely religious person.  I usually have doubt, but I always pray when I see a car accident, I always talk to God when I am alone, and I tend to find comfort in knowing someone (whoever it is) is looking out for us or has a plan for us.  So this year, I will pray more. 
6.  Find My Happy -- If that means one weekend I go to a creative conference, one weeknight I go out with my fellow city moms, or even something as small as a clean house (which actually isn't that small of a thing b/c I swear it's impossible) or having fresh flowers in my house... These are things that I love and make me happy, and when I'm happy, I'm sane.  Don't you feel this way?

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Along with all these things I do hope to be a more consistent blogger -- I blog for The City Moms, Little Miss Martha (my personal blog), and Maeve Vintage (my business blog), ask for help when needed, and finish my house projects which you will all get to be a part of if you hang out with us on the TCM blog this year!  
Here's to a great 2016 for all of us!  
xo,
Abby
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New Year, New You…The CityMoms take on 2016

There is something so damn refreshing to me about opening a new calendar. All of that blank space, all of that potential, a year just waiting to unfold—a year of joy and surprise and yes, maybe a little disappointment. A new calendar, a new year, a new me.

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I know that resolutions are the ultimate cliché, but I still love making them. My track record is admittedly less than stellar, but the simple process of contemplating the upcoming year is so therapeutic that it’s an accomplishment in and of itself. Yes, it is just another year, but the passage of time deserves to be marked and celebrated. So here are my resolutions for 2016:

 1. Be Smarter.

I feel like I already have a great start on this resolution with my Merriam Webster Word-A-Day calendar I requested as a Christmas gift. Generally speaking, I would like less television and more literature; less Facebook and more actual books; less mindless recreation and more mindful engagement. I have always loved school, so I will pretend to be a student again, sans the debt and ramen noodles. 

2. Be Present.

I will turn off my cell phone when I walk in the door from work. I will make eye contact during conversations. I will uni-task. I will not respond like Pavlov’s dog when I hear the chirp of email or the ding of a text message. And for the love of god, I will only drive while driving.

 

 3. Be Kinder…to myself.

Okay, this is a thinly veiled resolution to lose weight, but it is also so much more. I will treat my body well. I will only eat food that is either good for me or so incredibly scrumptious that it is worth the splurge—hence my lofty goal of giving up all fast food for the entire year. I will not cringe when I walk by a mirror. I will not constantly suck in my stomach or lift my boobs to their twenty-year-old position on my chest. I will accept compliments without deflecting. I will treat my body in a way that will make it want to stick around with me for a long while.

 

 4. Be Slower.

I am rarely not in a rush, which might go without saying for a working mother of two young children. This ever-ticking clock ratchets my anxiety up to dangerous levels, so I will accept tardiness. I will stop and listen to my daughter’s story in the morning instead of rushing her out the door. I will not schedule every single one of the 31,536,000 seconds of 2016 (it’s real—I googled it). I will allow for days of leisure and lethargy without feeling unaccomplished or lazy.

 

 5. Wash my face and remove my makeup every night.

Not the loftiest resolution, but it just feels like such an adult thing to do, and it’s so great for your complexion :)

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These are my top resolutions for 2016, but as always, I look to other women for inspiration, and I found nothing less when I asked other CityMoms what they resolve to do in 2016. I hope they inspire and motivate you, as they did for me.

“To shop local more.”
Christi, Mooresville

“Make time for fitness.”
Bryna, Whitestown

“I do a project goal for the year. In 2016, I plan to sort, edit, and back up all of the pics on my computer, in addition to getting caught up on our yearly photo albums and improving my Photoshop skills!”
Bekky, Carmel

“To be more in the present and to be kind. Volunteer more. To remember that I don't have to be perfect, but that I can work on being a better version of myself. Smile more, laugh more, and to be silly with my kids more. Oh, and to stop squishing spiders. They can't help it that they creep me out. I'll put them outside.”
Danielle, Fishers

“Allow 30 minutes for fitness each day...I use laundry and other tasks as an excuse to put it off.”
Sarah, Indianapolis

“To remember to take better care of myself. That a healthier me (mind & body) is better for everyone. Committing to the workouts I have blocked time for but find excuses not to go, staying better organized in the important aspects of life, and to be present more and try not to be so concerned with controlling the situation (this may be the hardest one!). I want to enjoy life and not weigh myself down with things that are currently negative and are not completely in my control.”
Jenn, Fishers

“I will not buy clothes because I have too many. I will spend less on food. In doing so, I will pay off a student loan and credit card.”
Joli, Indianapolis

“Maintain the communication and happiness in my marriage. Try to be a better, more patient, more kind mother.”
Clare, Beech Grove

“I will focus on my husband and boys and less on the family who does not live in my house.”
Joanna, Indianapolis

“Become a financial grown-up...make a will, start and stick to a budget, and start college savings.”
Jen, Fishers

“Begin our adoption process!”
LEA, Fishers

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Keep Music Alive

I want to like classical music in the same way that I want to like caviar and in the way I want to actually be able to differentiate between a $10 bottle of wine and one that costs ten times as much. Going to the symphony communicates to me a cultural affluence and worldliness that I find desirable. And if I am being totally honest, classical music pretty much always makes me cry. I find the music so raw and moving that I am usually immediately choking back tears trying not to embarrass myself in front of a crowd of unsuspecting symphony-goers.  “No, sir, I don’t know why I am crying three bars into Bach, but I am, good day sir.” I am certainly not an aficionado, mostly an appreciator. I probably can’t name more than five composers, and the terminology was forgotten after my last music class in school, but I do know that music is good for the soul, and I like the way it makes me feel.

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Unfortunately, my champagne, caviar, and classical music dreams are often put on hold: cue my two children, husband, full-time job, and gazillion other obligations. And while I love my life, I can’t always reconcile domesticity and culture. And let’s be honest, I get a little lazy. So, when I found out that I would be taking my three and half year old daughter and eleven month old son to the Carmel Symphony Orchestra I got a little nervous. Yes, I really want to expose them to music and art, but I also really don’t want to be that frazzled woman getting the side eye from a room full of concert-goers when her darling children are wiping boogers on the velvet theater chairs and crying through an otherwise serene adagio.

 

Alas, two words describe our first family symphony outing: relief and wonder. First, let me say just how family-friendly the Carmel Symphony Orchestra really was. I was visibly excited when I saw other children.  In my parenting experience, misery does love company, so if my kids were going to be little heathens, at least I would have other parents with which to exchange that knowing glance. This of course was not the case, but I was nevertheless relieved. The volunteer ushers were so wonderful, making an extra effort to show my daughter her seat and tell her about the show. The bass instruments were whimsically adorned with Santa hats, and the trumpeters wore reindeer antlers. I felt welcome and at ease with my children, even more so when the conductor announced to the audience, “We love it when babies cry.” Oh thank God.

Now, back to Wonder. I mentioned that I normally cry when I hear classical music, right? Now add a sweet little girl up on her knees, craning her neck to see the musicians. Imagine an infant boy with wide eyes squeezing his mother’s arm when the tempo builds. The lights were magical, reflecting off of the mirrored ceiling. The music, conducted by David Bowden was a beautiful and seasonal arrangement of various Christmas and Chanukah songs. So yes, there were some tears. Watching my children experience something for the first time gets me in that deep down mommy place in my heart.

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It wasn’t all perfect. We might have annoyed the older couple at the end of our row on our fifth potty break. My daughter had a hard time not playing with the theater seat that reminded her of a monster trying to eat her, and the kids got a little squirmy right before intermission, but all things considered, I would say it was a cultural win for the family.

Overall, we had a great time, and we will be definitely be going back on January 31st at 3pm for a special Family Fun! performance. Children will be allowed to visit the stage with the orchestra while they are playing and will be given the chance after the show to experiment with the different instruments. My daughter is already debating: harp or violin. Decisions, decisions.

 

What: Carmel Symphony Orchestra

Where: The Palladium 

When: Multiple dates, but be sure to check out the Family Fun! Concert and Instrument Petting Zoo on                 January 31st at 3pm

How Much: Youth passes are just $5, and adult admission is $20

Why: David Bowden, conductor and artistic director said, “Making music changes lives.” I can’t really                think of a better reason than that!

For more information visit www.CarmelSymphony.org

 

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We Wish You a Hoosier Christmas

Celebration Crossing at The Indiana State Museum!
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As we head into our 200th year of Statehood, is there any better place to celebrate the holidays than at the Indiana State Museum? My kids and I were lucky enough to check out the ISM Celebration Crossing extravaganza on its opening day last week! Here are our five can't miss features! 
1. Trains, trains, trains - My one year old is absolutely crazy about trains and Celebration Crossing provided so much for him to see. The ride on the Santa Express on the third floor (across from Rad Science, natch) was definitely the highlight for my littlest guy. Bonus: Mama fit in the train, too! Choo choo! 
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2. Awesome arcade - My four year old is on the cusp of video game fandom, so he naturally went bananas for the Retro Arcade. There were countless games from Pac-Man to Golden Tee to Tekken all included in the $7 admission fee. That's right - no coins! Just one flat fee to play as many games, as many times as you want. 
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3. Santa's super spot - Kids can kick it (and mom can sit down and post a pic of two to Instagram!) in the Santa's Playground area. This giant room is filled with toys galore - Legos and Mega Blocks, large foam blocks, board games, art projects - you name it! It was the perfect place for us to wind down after lunch. Pro tip: there are TWO family bathrooms in Santa's Playground. A must for when you've gotta drag the whole stroller with you for a diaper change. 
4. Decor dream - ok, ok... so maybe this is my favorite, rather than the kids, but can you blame me for being in awe of the way ISM has been decorated for Celebration Crossing? There are gorgeous trees and garlands around every corner to compliment the beautiful town and cityscapes decked out in all their holiday glory. It's truly a sight to behold! 
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5. The man himself - for Celebration Crossing's opening day, Santa arrived on the ISM front lawn in a helicopter! Talk about style. From there, he headed into the Museum to take his post in Santa's House. Here he's meeting the good boys and girls of Indianapolis to listen to their Christmas wishes and, of course, pose for a picture. 
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The other exhibits of the Museum are still open during this time and are not to be missed. Take a chance to share Indiana's history with your little ones and instill some Hoosier State pride. No doubt you'll all want to come back! 
The Celebration Crossing exhibit is open through January 3rd. 
Adult museum admission is $13; child admission is $8.50; members free.
Admission to the arcade is $7 plus general admission, $10 without museum admission and $7 for museum members. 
Visit www.indianamuseum.org for more information!
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Once upon a time there were four rabbits...

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In this whimsical and heartwarming adaptation of a classic story, the cast of “Peter Rabbit and Me” invite the audience back in time to an English garden estate in the late nineteenth century where an imaginative little girl dreams of a magical world with talking animals and playful adventures. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this timeless tale, a young Beatrix, played beautifully by sixth-grader Piper Murphy, dreams of a world that is less rigid than her Victorian nursery.  While her brother Bertrum prepares to depart for boarding school, Beatrix is busy imagining Peter Rabbit and his siblings Flopsy and Mopsy. Peter Rabbit is a thrill-seeker, and despite the warnings from Mother Rabbit he sneaks into the curmudgeon Mr. McGregor’s garden.  Avoiding a few close encounters, Peter makes it home safely, but not before getting a taste of adventure and the delicious vegetables Mr. McGregor’s garden has to offer.

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The Tale of Peter Rabbit, written by Beatrix Potter, has been a long favorite of children, and the IRT’s adaptation, by Aurand Harris, is sure to be a crowd pleaser with both children and adults. The children in the audience sit on the floor and become the vegetables of the garden. They are frequently nibbled on and pointed at by the actors, which holds them captive.  Children explode in giggles as Mr. McGregor chases the mischievous Peter Rabbit throughout the garden. They gasp and cover their mouths as Peter Rabbit poses as a scarecrow, and they shout “that way” and squirm in anticipation as Peter Rabbit gets caught on the gate, in danger of becoming rabbit soup.  Children are even invited to sing-along with the mouse as he tries to distract the old farmer.

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While the children are mesmerized, the adults will be impressed by the poise of the young cast. Five of the seven primary cast members are children, yet they act with such grace and composure that it’s hard to believe they aren’t professionals. And while the play itself will surely invoke some nostalgia, watching the joy of the children in the audience is entertaining in and of itself.

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If you love literature; if you appreciate a classical tale of adolescent rebellion, adventure and imagination; if you like to watch your children giggle as they experience a story coming to life before them, then this should make it on to your must-do Holiday list!

 

What: “Peter Rabbit and Me”

When: November 21-December 20

Where: Indiana Repertory Theatre, Cabaret theater

Why: Holiday fun for the whole family!

 

Best for ages 4 and up, but use parental judgement for younger children.

The show runs approximately 55 minutes

Tickets are $20 for chairs, $15 for adult floor, and $8 child and student floor

 

 

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Zen and the Art of Parenting

Today I am breaking up with my breast pump, and I am just not sure how to feel about it.  Like all breakups this one is bittersweet.  This contraption has been my archenemy for years now.  Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but seriously, the pump and I have had a dysfunctional relationship.  I needed him, but I loathed him.  I loved what he did, but I resented my reliance on him.  And yes, my breast pump is male.  What woman would be so unkind to breasts?  But as quickly as my antipathy builds, it gives way to nostalgia and sentimentality.  My breast pump has provided the soundtrack to infancy in my household; the rhythmic pump and whir of air has become the ambient noise of a very special time in our lives.  As elated as I am to stop subjecting my nipples to such torture, I am having a moment because of what this breakup really means, which is that after hours of reducing myself to a cow; after two babies worth of bottles and phalanges and tubes and lanolin; after outbursts of profanity when my husband spilled my precious milk; after sobbing when my first child didn’t latch and then sobbing when my second child did; it means that I am done having babies.  This breakup is bigger than just the two of us.

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Well now I’m just mad at my damn pump for making me feel all of these feelings.  Typical man, can’t live with him and can’t live without him.  I longed for the day when this pump and I would part ways, when I could emancipate myself from this needy boyfriend of mine.  But now I am having doubts, second thoughts.  I’m not ready to let him go.

This breakup is complicated—aren’t they always?—because it is symbolic of an ongoing struggle in my life, one that has become more predominant with motherhood.  I spent hours upon hours, usually those hours in the very middle of the night where no one else is awake, planning the great breast pump divorce.  I dreamed of a life untethered to the milking machine.  But of course, now that our time together is over, I am remorseful, conflicted, and dare I say sad?  The crux of the matter is that even though change does not typically agree with my constitution, I am always wondering what’s next and planning for that hypothetical future.  I know, I’m a complicated lady, just ask my husband.  I’m a grass is always greener kind of girl who is at the same time resistant to letting go.  Basically, I make a lousy Buddhist.  While I admire the concept of living in the moment, in practice I am a huge failure. 

I come from a long line of women who elevate worrying to an art-form.  We are planners, list-makers, and organizers.  My mother routinely rounds up time to the next hour.  You might say it is 11:35, but I am now trained to just say noon.  My grandmother would have a Thanksgiving menu taped to her cupboard by mid-October, and her daily calls to my mother would include a review of who was making what.  Poor me, I didn’t stand a chance.  I am already packing my suitcase for a trip that won’t happen for three weeks.  As I said before, my fate was pre-ordained, and at 32-years-old I have accepted these behaviors.  This is who I am.  My husband even mentioned my organizing affinity in his wedding vows, so clearly he doesn’t mind too much.  However, this behavior has a dark side.  Because I am always thinking about my next move, sometimes I forget to pay attention to the here and now.  Never has this been as apparent to me as I raise my two beautiful children, a spirited two and half year old girl and a jolly and chubby four month old boy.

My tendency is to constantly be thinking: what’s next?  Sometimes I look ahead because I am so very ready to be done with my current reality.  Prime example-potty training my strong-willed toddler daughter.  As she shrieks at me “I don’t want to go potty” and then pees on my lap I think of the scene in Fight Club when Edward Norton’s hand is burning with lye—“Stay with the pain”—but  I often lapse into an altered state of consciousness and parental bliss and picture my child as a sweet, compliant five year old who says “Yes, mummy” and “I’ve cleaned my play room, stopped eating my boogers, and peed on the potty without waging a world war, anything else?”  A girl can dream, right?

But sometimes I look ahead not to escape but rather to anticipate the joy and fun I know lies ahead.  This is probably even truer with the second child.  Just as my grandmother would tape that menu up weeks before the holiday because she was just excited about breaking bread with her family, I await each milestone because I have lived them before, and I know just how sweet they can be.  I look forward to witnessing him roll over, crawl, take his first bite of food, walk, and be still my heart say “mama” for the first time.  I know all too well, though, how quickly these achievements will be reached and how quickly they, too, will be moments on which to reflect rather than experience.  One day, I will blink, and they will be teenagers.  Rationally and emotionally, I know this to be true, yet I still struggle to slow down, to live in the now.  And yes, I take an embarrassing amount of pictures of my children.  I am religious about chronicling their baby lives, and I have about a dozen videos of each of them just cooing.  But recording their lives is not quite the same thing as being completely present in the moments of their lives.  “Don’t wish their lives away”, said my grandmother to my mother to me—ironic given that these two women are the source of my compulsive forward thinking.

Alas, did I just add another item to the list of “Things in Motherhood for Which I Feel Guilty?”  You know I love a good list.  Instead of wallowing, however, I have decided to challenge myself to be more present in the moment, to channel my inner-Buddha.  I will try my very hardest to live in the moment, at least most of the moments, whether they be Pinterest-worthy or the stuff of my mommy nightmares. 

Old Me: “I can’t wait until both kids are out of diapers.”

New Enlightened Zen Me: Instead of dreaming of a diaperless world where my clothes aren’t always boasting a subtle eau de urine, I will embrace the reality of an infant in diapers and a toddler struggling to get out of them.  I will laugh when my daughter wishes her poop a farewell before ceremoniously flushing it “down to the river”.  Alas, my daughter, the budding Buddhist, already embracing the impermanence of the world.  If you ever need more motivation to live in the here and now, just watch a toddler for five minutes.

Old Me: “I can’t wait until the kids are older, so we can have nice things again.”

New Enlightened Zen Me: Instead of fantasizing about a clean house where the couches aren’t home to a variety of organisms—booger, crumb, doll shoe, unidentifiable organic matter—I will reconcile the fact that my house being messy because of children is completely justifiable in my social circle.  One of these days, I am going to have to clean this shit, but I might just wait until they graduate. 

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Old Me: “I can’t wait to lose the baby weight and get skinny again (okay, for the first time).”

New Enlightened Zen Me: Oh, and this is a tough one, requiring some serious Buddha channeling.  I will try my damndest to not wish away this post-baby body of mine.  Yes, yes, I can hear the chorus of women now, so I will preemptively say that indeed my body has done some amazing things.  I grew two human beings.  I pushed two babies out of my body, one with no drugs at all.  The miracle is certainly not lost on me, but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say I was worse for the wear.  You can talk to me all day long about how stretch marks make me a warrior, but what little vanity I have left tends to disagree.  I am squishy and stretched, and many days I look as weary as I feel.  I am frequently—dare I say daily—covered in the bodily fluids of multiple other people.  It is immensely difficult to live in this skin without feeling restless, without daydreaming of tummy tucks and breast lifts, or at the very least, going to the gym for 30 minutes.  This body of mine feels like a stranger to me, and most of the time I want out.  But maybe, just maybe, I will miss this version of myself when it is gone just as I miss the way a baby kicking feels inside of me even though I cursed those aliens for kicking my ribs in utero.  Besides, you can only blame it on baby weight for so long, right?  I think my cut-off will be when they start kindergarten.

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Old Me: “I cannot wait until I can pack up this god-forsaken breast pump FOREVER.”

New Enlightened Zen Me: Well, I might have dropped the ball on this one, but I’m only a work in progress, right?  I have packed you up, said my goodbyes, and reconciled myself to a life with a whole lot less dishes to wash, but maybe I will let you sit on my table for a few days before finding you a new home.  When I glance your way, I will allow myself to be filled with the fond memories we shared instead of being consumed by the pain you caused me.  This breakup will be amicable.  We will be friends afterwards instead of jealous ex-acquaintances.  When I look at you I will see my two beautiful children, whom you helped me nourish in the most formative stages of their lives, and I will remember that lists will be created and forgotten, to-dos will be conquered and neglected, but this moment right now deserves to be appreciated to the fullest, until of course my toddler decides to flush more than her poop down the potty.

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Grocery Delivery Saves Moms' Time & Sanity

The summer of 2015 brought many grocery delivery options to Indy and moms took notice. As the prime shopper in most families; moms tend to spend a lot of time planning meals, making grocery lists & shopping. It is not a surprise that many of our CityMoms were quick to try out the many time-saving & convenient options. Here is a quick run-down of some of our favorites:

 

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A long-time favorite of theCityMoms is local company Green Bean Delivery.

GBD works with local gardens and farmers to deliver fresh, sustainable produce, meat, dairy & pantry items that are in-season.

Why do our moms like GBD? It delivers the farmers market to your doorstep! For many it is important to know exactly where their food is grown, sourced or processed. GBD is very transparent and meets those needs.

Customize your bin or let GBD fill it with fresh, in-season produce. Their site is easy to navigate and they also provide recipes for all of that produce you will get in your bin.

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CityMom Jennifer says-"I like to let them pick my produce so that my family gets to try fruits and veggies we would normally not pick on our own."

Here is a treat for our readers who want to try Green Bean Delivery:

$15 OFF with code CITYMOM15 

*expires Dec 31, 2015| good on new or reactivations only*


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Instacart is new to the grocery delivery game in Indy and continues to expand their service. So, if you are not in their delivery area yet, you may be soon.

How is Instacart different? Basically, Instacart sends a personal shopper to the store to shop for you. In Indy the store choices are Whole Foods, Marsh, Georgetown Market, Petco & Costco. {hint: a Costco membership is not needed, but the prices may be a bit higher} You can have your groceries delivered in as little as an hour or two or choose a time that works best for you. 

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You can also choose to pick the groceries up yourself or have them delivered by your shopper. Either way you are asked to tip your shopper for their time. The shopper will text you with questions in regards to substitutions or other available options if an item is sold out. You also have the option of calling the shopper directly while they are in store to chat about your order.

CityMom Michelle says- "Instacart is a game changer. I can shop while looking into my cupboards so that I truly get what I need from the store. The recipes provided on the site are also very helpful when I need some help with my meal planning and the same day delivery is perfect when I need an item not planned for. I am actually spending less than going to the store on my own!"

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If Instacart sounds like the right service for you we have a handy promo code to save you some cash:

Enter INDYMOMS at checkout to get $10 and FREE Delivery off your first order!


 

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Peapod has been delivering to Indy for roughly 5 years and is based out of Chicago. The service is easy and reliable which is something all of us moms appreciate. Unfortunately you miss out on the local Indy produce, meats & dairy but if you are a Chicago native you may appreciate getting some of your hometown goods shipped to your door. 

All orders are fulfilled out of Peapod's grocery warehouse so you can rest assured items will not be out of stock. You can choose to have your groceries delivered whole you are at home or away. If you choose an "unattended" delivery your order will be left on your doorstep in cooling bins that keep everything cold/frozen for up to 2 hours. 

Delivery is usually next day depending on when you place your order.

If Peapod sounds good to you click here to save $20 off your 1st order!


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Kroger does deserve a mention even though they are not delivering to your doorstep. You can shop online and pull right up to have your groceries to your vehicle. It is also super easy to redeem Kroger digital coupons clipped right on their web site, manufacturer coupons clipped from mailers or use your Kroger loyalty card for more savings. 

CityMom Abigail has this to say about Kroger- "I love it because I can add items to my list throughout the week and pick-up any day I want. Even after completing my order I can still edit up until 24 hours before my pick-up time. Having my weekly list gives me and a good total for my finances and allows me to look for extra coupons and price match."

Check out Kroger right here!


Indy also has some local food coops and farms that deliver a limited variety of items to your doorstep. Check out Tyner Pond Farms, Good Earth Farms& Good 2 Go Groceries 
for more options.

 

Here is a quick view of local grocery delivery options-

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Back-to-school recipes + $100 Walmart gift card giveaway!

Here's the truth: As moms, we need all the help we can get when it comes to healthy snack ideas. I've seen our theCityMoms members sharing pins and links these past few weeks as we all prepare to send kids back to school or beef up our own recipe books.

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And since we were already fans of Shamrock Farms mmmmilk {see Emerson indulging in their On-the-go mmmmilk 2% strawberry flavor above?} I decided to try out some of their Roxie's Midday Menu snack recipes to see if my back-to-schoolers would, well, bite.

Shamrock Farms aims to inspire busy moms and dads by creating the Roxie’s Midday Menu – the recipes are protein-packed, simple to make and pair perfectly with the milk varieties. 

 

Recipe Tryouts #1: Fruit Kabobs

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My son - ever the picky eater - was helpful in assembling the kabobs, but did NOT want to eat them. It wasn't until he noticed his younger sister tossing the blueberries into the air to catch in her mouth that he decided to join in the fun. Snacktime ended with a clean kabob and the Shamrock Farms mmmmilk 2% strawberry was gone in a heartbeat. Get the recipe.

 

Recipe Tryouts #2: Banana Roll-Ups

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This might be cheating: We are already head-over-heels in love with banana roll-ups and they dot my kids lunchbox at least once a week during the school year. But this great recipe from Shamrock Farms mmmmilk upped the ante - I never thought to add a little cinnamon and the kids loved it. A fight broke out over the chocolate milk too. Luckily I still had one hiding in the fridge. Get the recipe. 

 

Recipe Tryouts #3: Healthy S'mores

ShamrockFarms-HealthySmores.jpeg"Um mom, I'm not eating that." This was my GOOD eater logging her complaint. I began to panic until I realized I had forgotten the chocolate chips and promptly pulled them out. Her eyes grew wide, she sprinkled a few large handful of them on her s'more {that's still considered 'healthy' right?} and ate the entire thing in one sitting. These turned out better than I expected and my son willingly asked for more about an hour later. I WAS SHOCKED. Get the recipe.

 


 

To celebrate the launch of Shamrock Farms mmmmilks in Walmart stores, one lucky reader will win a $100 Walmart gift card! Here's how to enter:

 

 

 

 

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Birthday It Up At The Urban Chalkboard

A question that gets asked a lot by our members is, "Where is a good place to have a birthday party for my kid?".

I was asking that same question back in March when it came time to celebrate my daughter's second birthday.

My home was out of the question, but I could not think of a place that would cater to children ages 0-9, their parents & the rest of the extended family.

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You see, birthdays in our family, are not taken lightly. Each of us gets that one day a year to celebrate life, create memories and eat as much cake as you want. It is a tradition that the whole family gets wrapped up in, which meant, they were all coming to town for this party!

When I asked my fellow moms where to have this party I got some of the usual suspects, but then The Urban Chalkboard was mentioned. It was an "A Ha" moment because my daughter LOVES The Urban Chalkboard. I was not sure if they even offered birthday parties, so I gave the owners a call and found out they did. 

Best Idea Ever = Birthday at The Urban Chalkboard

{{{If you have never heard of The Urban Chalkboard you can check out our sweet post right here}}}

I was delighted to find out that I would not have to decorate, clean, make goodie bags, snacks or bake anything. ALL of this was going to be provided along with activities and entertainment to keep the entire family happy.

I was actually excited to attend the party and make some memories with my tot! Owner Jessica gave me a list of party ideas and themes and made it super simple to come up with a unique birthday celebration.

My daughter's favorite cartoon is Angelina Ballerina so Jessica created a party just for her that incorporated her favorite character. 

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  • Each guest went home with a bag of goodies that included a Day Pass and Tote Bag from The Urban Chalkboard

  • The Angelina Ballerina book read to the kids was gifted to the birthday girl and signed by all of her favorite TUC staff members.

  • Adult guests were smitten bottomless cups of freshly brewed coffee and time to chat while the kids played away.

  • Did I mention that I did not have to clean up!!!
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What did I enjoy most about this party? I was in attendance, in the moment & enjoying the time with my daughter.

Hopefully she remembers that too. She played and enjoyed the day while in her element; sharing the time with her favorite people. 

Thankful that was all made possible by simply letting Indy's only play cafe, The Urban Chalkboard, to make the day special.

Find out more about The Urban Chalkboard:

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452 E Carmel Dr
Carmel, IN 46032
(317) 815-5711

***disclaimer: Michelle was offered a special rate in exchange for a blog post about her daughters birthday party***
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Don't Forget To Take Care Of Yourself, Mama.

As a mama to a nearly four year old and a 20 month old, I’ve spent my fair share of zhero1.jpgtime in doctor’s offices in recent years. Between monthly well baby checkups, sick visits, bi-annual pediatric dental appointments, and the occasionalER run, I stay on top of my kid’s health. 

I always feel so accomplished after seeing a pediatric physician. I make a list of things to ask the doctor and then feel like a good mom when I leave and have all the answers to my questions. But when it comes to my own health, I’m like; I’ll make an appointment someday…

I got a call from my OBGYN office the other day saying I needed to come in since I haven’t had an annual exam since 2013. 

"Really? Have I actually not seen my lady bits doctor since my son was born? "

Shame on me, I used to be SO GOOD about making these dreadful annual exams in my pre-kid life. I usually scheduled them during a sucky day at work so I could peace out and never go back to the office. That’s the only thing that had clamps and being spread eagle with neon lights tolerable. 

I had an eye doctor that I saw every year because I loved getting that 20/20 vision score. Plus he was kind of hot for an older man. And when I discovered there are actually dental hygienists that could lull me to sleep with their super gentle teeth cleaning skills, I was Johnny on the spot with those two appointments each year. Who wouldn’t prefer a nap over being at work, even if someone has a pointy tool and a drill in your mouth? 

I had a dermatologist for my Godforsaken acne that haunted me well past my teen years, and a family doctor to get annual physicals and *cough cough*, I’m sick appointments when needed. I took GOOD care of myself. 

And then I had kids. 

Ya, my birth control is going to be cut off if I don’t see my OBGYN this month. And my 20/20 vision is all blury/blury these days when I’m on the computer or reading for too long. I cannot remember the last time I had my eyes checked, but I’m guessing it’s been about three years. I’ve made two eye doctor appointments in the last year and cancelled them both because I didn’t have time – or a babysitter. 

The only thing I do stay on top of is my dental appointments. There’s just something about not going to the dentist like, ever, that makes me feel all back woods and I can’t go there. I may be blind as a bat with dark sun spots all over my face and high cholesterol or something, but my teeth gotta be pretty, m’kay?

Basically I’m trying to take ownership of the fact that since having kids I’m not very good about taking care of ME when it comes to necessary medical checkups. I want to get glasses, clear my skin up, have a family doctor, get on a routine with my annual exam, etc. Saying it on the internet is certainly going to hold me accountable to make these dang appointments!! At least I hope.

How many of you are neglecting your own health and wellness because you’re busy being a mom and running around after your kiddos? I think we all should make it a point this week to pick up the phone and make those overdue appointments! Let’s make our health and well-being a priority so we can be the best moms we can be! And hopefully, if you’re lucky, you’ll stumble upon a hot doc that keeps you on a regular schedule, know what I mean?! But if you get a hot OBGYN with clamps, omg, run for the hills!!
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DIY Fringe Tassel Curtains

I keep seeing the cutest little pom pom and/or fringe curtains everywhere.  
They've been in many of my "carts" recently but I just haven't been able to pull the trigger.  Mostly because I've decided I'm scared to overspend (although only on certain things) and end up with buyers remorse.  
So I've waited...
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Then I walked into Michael's the other day and saw these adorable little tassel garlands.  
They were purchased for $2 each.  What a great deal!  

"Fringe equals tassel in my book, kind of like leopard equals neutral!"
And off to Target I strode to purchase some plain jane curtains which were on sale for $7.49/panel.  The first one I even got with an extra 20% off using Cartwheel.  But for some reason I only bought one at a time and when I went back for the 2nd the promo had expired. 

So... If you'd like to make your own... You only need 

Here's what you'll need:
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Fingy Tassels in color of choice from Michaels
(I used 1 pack per panel)

Curtains of your choice, but I went with Room Essentials White Window Panel

Gold Scissors
(just kidding any color will do)

Needle & Thread
 
The tassels came on a string as I believe they were supposed to be used for Garland. 

And if you know me, I never have a REAL way to measure so in true Little Miss Marthafashion I used my scissors to measure in between each tassel.
"So Anthro-esque!"
And with one of the easiest projects I've ever done, I had some really really cute curtains with a little bit of sass.

I'd love to see your DIY Decor!  Share what you've come up with on my facebook page or leave a link in the comments below! 
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DIY Tassle Curtains from theCityMoms Blog
DIY Tassle Curtains from theCityMoms Blog

Cant' beat a DIY on the cheap!  
I may add more tassels, but it's actually just perfect for a little girls room!


Total Cost :: $18.98

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CityMom Report + GIVEAWAY: TCM After Dark

Date nights. Who needs them, right? Well, hubby and I did for one. I think the last time we had gone out solo was for a viewing of John Wick in theaters {i.e. months ago}. Then we caught wind of The Children's Museum Of Indianapolis After Dark events. An adults-only opportunity to live it up in THE Museum after hours? We hightailed it. 

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Photo credit: Kasey Lennox
The Children's Museum After Darkis a monthly activity open to adults ages 21+. It allows attendees the opportunity to visit select exhibits of the Museum in a more casual setting than during regular hours. Bless them but NO kids, just adults milling around socializing and enjoying the low-key atmosphere.

In addition to exhibits, admission includes lights appetizers and one FREE brew from SunKing  - add'l beer and wine is available at $5/each.

We giggled as we walked in {well, figurative giggles - my husband isn't a 'giggler' per se} because it was the first time we'd been to the Children's Museum without a shrieking 7- and 4-year-old skipping enthusiastically through the tunnel from the parking garage. Although truth be told, we felt like skipping thanks to the solo date night.

Our After Dark fun for the evening included the new Transformers: Robots In Disguise exhibit, plus a spin around Dinosphere. We had been through Transformers earlier in the year with the kiddos, but the opportunity to see it ourselves - and at our own pace! - was quite welcomed. 
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{L-R}: Hubby pointing out a Transformers toy from his youth; our 'drink ticket' for the evening which was SO cool, I wanted to keep it; After Dark attendees trying their hand at line drawings of Transformers
Looking around, we saw groups of friends in their 20s, co-workers {including one of mine from Anthropologie}, couples, friends in their 40s out for an evening together and more. All of them had a little gleam in their eye that said the same as ours: We have the Museum to ourselves. 

Best part? The event is short and sweet, allowing you an opportunity to enjoy it then scoot off to other plans for the evening. In all, it's a great way to spend a Friday AND reignite the kid in yourself. 

MORE INFORMATION: The After Dark program runs monthly at the Children's Museum Of Indianapolis {located at 3000 Meridian Street, Indianapolis; 317-334-3000}. Admission is $25 for Museum members; $35 non-members. Corporate discounts are available. Visit childrensmuseum.org/visit/calendar/view/hot-wheels-racing-after-dark for more details.

With thanks to our incredible friends at The Children's Museum Of Indianapolis, we are thrilled to offer this giveaway:
Two tickets to the May 15th After Dark program, featuring the brand-new Hot Wheels: Race To Win exhibit! 
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The winner of the giveaway below will receive:
  • Two {2} tickets for entry* to the After Dark program on Friday, May 15, 2015 - a $70 value!
  • Two hours to yourself with a friend or date 
  • Access to the Hot Wheels: Race To Win and Dinosphere exhibits
  • Complimentary snacks
  • Complimentary non-alcoholic drinks
  • One free drink ticket 
  • A membership discount to the 1925 Society, the Children's Museum organization for young professionals
  • Learn more about this activity at The Children's Museum website
*There will be no physical tickets for this giveaway - winner's name will be provided to The Children's Museum Of Indianapolis for entry at the door.  Giveaway open until Tuesday, 5/12/2015 at 11:59pm. Winner announced Wednesday, 5/13/2015. Tickets provided courtesy of The Children's Museum Of Indianapolis. 
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The Potty Training War Wages On…

I just realized that my one year anniversary of beginning potty training with my daughter Annabelle just passed in late April and I’m amazed at how fast the calendar months flew by. Notice I say it’s the anniversary of the beginning of potty training, and not when we potty train-ED. 

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We didn’t have the magical 3-day experience that I’ve heard about from fairies in faraway lands. Nope. Because God blessed me with a pretty good amount of patience, he gave me a toddler that didn’t want to get it for like six freaking months. I died a slow death, along with my patience. 

Let's not even talk about nighttime potty training. 

OK, fine, I'm embarrassed to admit that we just moved Annabelle out of nighttime Pull-Ups about a month ago, just shy of the one year mark. I read that nighttime training can take longer, like even a year, so I honestly just sort of got used to the Pull-Ups and didn't try to phase them out sooner. The Internet gave me a year so I took it.
"At our recent 18-month checkup I asked my pediatrician when I should start potty-training my son, and he wrote me a prescription for a chill pill." 

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I almost can’t even talk about my potty training experience with Annabelle without wanting to curl up into the fetal position on a cold floor. I mean, at the risk of giving TMI, Annabelle tested every patient cell in my body with the whole pooping in her panties thing. And naturally she would time her #2’s as we’re walking out the door running late to something. I actually started to take it personally. WHY DOES SHE HATE ME SO MUCH?

Thank God we’ve made it through the storm, for the most part, and I lived to tell the tale. It’s O-V-E-R, I’m FREE! No more potty training for a while…. Er, at least I thought.

Potty training round two (shoot me now)

A couple weeks ago a fellow mom posted a pic on Facebook of her son potty training at 20 months and I literally started to choke on my wine. This can’t be happening already. My son is 18 months and it just dawned on me that we have entered into the potty training window. 

No! There’s NO. EFFING. WAY I’m ready for round two. My heart can’t take it. She has planted the seed in my head. I wasn’t even THINKING about potty training and now it’s on the mother freaking brain. 

At our recent 18 month checkup I asked my pediatrician when I should start potty training my son and he wrote me a prescription for a chill pill. He said boys take longer to potty train than girls, so I should wait until like 2 ½ or 3 before I start. Oh good, permission to avoid it for a while longer, thank you GOD!

I mean, part of the reason I was shocked at the 20 month old potty training is because I couldn’t even imagine my son getting it this early. Was her son a prodigy? He must be.

And then my mind was blown the other day when my son ran into the bathroom and said; “I want potty! I want potty!” 

Excuse me?

Come again? 

Did I hear you say you wanted to KILL ME?

So of course I sat him on the potty for a few days and got nothing but giggles. Ok, he’s not ready. But then, he did the unthinkable before bath time, HE PEED IN THE POTTY! OMG, He’s a prodigy, too! He’s the smartest baby in all the land! 

And then he did it again the next day before bath! And then he did it AGAIN on the third day at the Children’s Museum – a public bathroom with no potty seat cover!! Smartest. Baby. Ever.

And then… well and then he totally stopped peeing in the potty. 

He says he wants potty, but when I pull his pants down he arches his back and tries to stand up, landing his feet in the toilet a couple times. UGH. What is happening here? Is he over it already? I don’t want to turn him off of potty training by pushing him too soon. 

When seeking advice on the matter I get varying degrees of opinions. Some will say he’s too young, just let him do it when he’s ready. And boys take way longer than girls. If that’s the case and Leo is going to take longer than Annabelle he’ll be going to Kindergarten in Huggies. 

Or you’ll get the no nonsense moms who say since he’s expressed an interest I need to lose the diapers NOW and go cave man style for the next 3 days, never leaving the house until he gets it. 



"Call me lazy, but I don't want to have a toddler running around diaperless for three days while we lock ourselves indoors." 


The other day I was telling a new friend about my potty training woes and how Leo has had a few potty successes. She said both her boys were trained cave man style by 2 years old and it’s B.S. that boys take longer, and her friends that don’t PT their kids until 3 just don’t want to deal with the mess any sooner. They’re essentially lazy, that was the takeaway I got. I sank in my chair as I one thousand percent identified with her lazy friends. And dear God, why did I divulge to her that Annabelle had been in Pull Ups for nearly a year? Her eyes popped out of her head and I felt the cold chill of mommy judgement washing over me. My ears pinned back as I explained how it’s all the Internet’s fault for telling me to give it a year. 

Call me lazy, but I don’t want to have a toddler running around diaper-less for three days while we lock ourselves indoors. Perhaps this is the best method. Perhaps the feeling of shit and piss going down your legs as a 2 year old is the best lesson in potty training quickly. I don’t know, but I do know that seeing a pile of poo on my couch scares me shitless (ha!) and I don’t want to deal. Maybe I’m doing it all wrong by not pushing too hard. But honestly, all I’m praying for is that my kid turns out to be a potty training prodigy that just PT’s himself. Wouldn’t that be wonderful, moms? I think that’s something we can all agree on…
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The Basics

The Basics

Please read the guidelines thoroughly, and contact the Organizer team with questions or comments.

 

1. Membership dues must be current to maintain access to our member site, online forum & events calendar. 


2. We require that all member profiles be filled out completely and include a photo of the mother as the main photo . 


3. All members must submit their contact information (full name, phone number and email address) before joining

4. Our group is private, and only our members can access our boards and group information. For the safety of our group and its members, we ask for profile photos/full profile information to ensure that everyone knows the identity of other group members.

5. All members must be active. No-shows are a no-no. 


6. MOST IMPORTANT - All members must treat others with respect.

Active Member Status
'Active' members are classified as CityMoms who have paid their annual dues AND participated in a public event within the last 90 days. Our goal for all CityMoms is regular activity so that you can gain the most positive experience from the group.

Our Active members receive wonderful benefits such as:

 

  • Access to various premiere events, as indicated in the Event Housekeeping Notes by a bullet that reads "In order to attend this event, you MUST be an active member of theCityMoms. "
  • Approval to join our theCityMoms private Facebook page - where moms stay connected with each other in the days between physical meet ups
  • The ability to join our Mompreneurs 'moms in business' support group
  • A huge host of theCityMoms members-only perks and discounts at businesses and organizations around the Indianapolis area
  • Opportunity to promote one perk to our membership FOR FREE



Please note that theCityMoms reserves the right to remove your membership from the group if your activity lapses beyond 6 months. All members will be contacted 1 time prior to this removal.

General Etiquette

•Please be respectful of others. Treat others as you wish to be treated.

•You have the right to express any opinion, question or concern, but please do it in a respectful manner that is not offensive or confrontational.

•Please refrain from speaking negatively about members of the group. No gossip, no rumors. If you have a problem with another member, please keep it off the message boards and refrain from comments at events with other members.

•If you have any concerns about the group, events, policies or members, please direct your comments to any of the organizers via email. All feedback is taken seriously and confidentially.


Changes in Member Status

•Current members who move may remain in the group if they adhere to the member policies (i.e. if you move away from the Indianapolis area but plan to return occasionally to visit friends, you may remain a member of theCityMoms as long as we see you once every 3 months!). Please let an organizer know if you have moved. 


Event Costs

Upfront Event Fees - From time to time we will plan events with upfront fees associated such as fixed-price dinners, classes, etc. Please do not reply yes unless you are 100% committed to going and will adhere to the payment instructions for the event. Anyone who is a yes is responsible for her share of the event cost. Failure to pay for an event is grounds for membership review by the organizers.

Informal Group Bills - Many of our Moms' Night Out events will be a la carte the night of the event. In this case, each person is responsible for her own share. To be fair to those who do not drink or order less than others, it is assumed that people will be responsible for their portion of the meal or drinks unless the group decides otherwise prior to ordering. Remember to keep track of what you've ordered and add tax and gratuity to your share.


Event Courtesy Policy


Safety - We ask that you please meet an Organizer or Event Planner at a PUBLIC event BEFORE attending a private in-home event, or before hosting an event yourself personally (again, for comfort and safety of other group members). 

Alcohol- Members over the age of 21 may choose to drink alcohol at their own discretion. If a member chooses to drink they will take all responsibility for their actions after imbibing. Hosts may serve alcohol at private functions but must adhere to all State & Federal laws regarding alcohol consumption. Failure to comply with any of these guidelines may result in membership review and possible removal.

Illness - If your child has been sick, please email your host as well as post it in your reply so others are aware. Following the same guidelines used in many daycares, we ask that you do not attend an event if your child has had a fever of 100 or higher within 48 hours of the event. If they just have a runny nose or a non-contagious illness and your child tends to put toys in his/her mouth please watch with extra care as to not spread any of their germs.

If your child has cold symptoms (runny nose, light cough) and you are not sure whether it's okay to attend a play date, please contact the event host directly for her opinion. If you are hosting, and your child has a cold, please post an advisory on the message board and/or ask one of the organizers to email those who RSVP'd yes explaining the situation.

Food - Please do not feel obligated to provide food for an event whether you are hosting or attending. If you choose to provide food, please try and keep it simple and kid-friendly (if appropriate).

Refrain from serving any form of peanut products or nuts at any play dates since these foods are airborne and can affect someone even if they do not ingest them.

Please refrain from giving food to another child unless given permission to do so by their parent. Many parents opt to hold off on giving specific foods to their children and/or need to monitor what their child eats.

Clean-up - Please clean up after yourself and/or the children while you are a guest in another member's home. This will make it easier on her, and she'll be more willing to host another fun play date for us in the future.

Discipline of Children and the Response of Their Mothers - We all know that kids can have a bad day, but it is the responsibility of the mothers to supervise and to discipline their own children. We want to prevent any behavior that is threatening to other children (hitting, kicking, biting, etc.) or that could damage/destroy the host's property. If this type of behavior occurs, the child's mother is to intervene and either redirect or discipline her child as she sees fit.

If a mother fails to address her child's aggression towards another child at a play date, the mother should not be surprised if another mother steps in to cool down the situation. After all, the children's safety is all of our responsibility.

If a mother continues to neglect addressing bad behavior, it is up to the group members to let the organizers know, so that they can talk to her about the situation. If the poor behavior continues, she will be asked to stop attending play dates until her child's disruptive or destructive behavior has stopped. We want to foster the best environment for our children and make members feel comfortable enough to host events in their homes without being afraid of bad behavior.


Fundraising

•If sponsored by theCityMoms, it will be posted as an event on the calendar.

•If not sponsored by theCityMoms, but a member, then it can be posted as a note on the calendar or message on  the weekly MOMpreneurs* thread.

*this thread is houses all solicitations, sales & fundraising posts so that they do not get lost among the daily chat & support.


Marketplace Policies

•theCityMoms provides the Mom Marketplace Forum as a service to its members. We do not oversee the exchanges, nor take any responsibility for disputes that may arise through use of this service. We recommend that you make sure all items are in acceptable working order before finalizing your purchase/exchange. 

•There is no reselling of items which were gotten for free from the marketplace postings.

•Out of concerns of legality and safety, medications and drugs may not be sold or given away for free on the marketplace. 

•Posts older than 6 months will be deleted.

•If item(s) have a known defect, we ask sellers to please note it in the posting.

•Please edit and add DELETE to your title if the item(s) is no longer available.

•If offering multiple items please just have one thread.


Mass Email Policy

Mass emails are to be only sent out to all members by theCityMoms Organizers under particular conditions. Event hosts may email attendees who have RSVPed to their meetups, but may not mass email.
An email about a meetup may be sent to all members by an Organizer at the request of an event host or the Organizer Team under the following circumstances:

◦If the event is a speaker or family event which is sponsored by theCity Moms and has a minimum attendee requirement.

◦If the event was posted more than 2 weeks prior to its occurence.

◦If the Absentee policy is in effect.


When Organizers send out a reminder, they will put the meetup title, date and time in subject line and a link to the posting in the body of the email.

Soliciting

Many of our members have their own businesses, but the main purpose of this group is social, NOT business oriented. Misusing the message boards, email functions of the site, play dates and/or our contact list to push your business is inappropriate and is grounds for membership review by the organizers.

We support our members' entrepreneurial endeavors, and it is permissible to post information about your business and/or set up an event with the following in mind:

◦Members MUST be an ACTIVE of theCityMoms group for 3 months or more before soliciting within the group. 'Active' is defined by: 1. Current activity status of having attended 1 event within the prior 90 days, 2. Dues must be paid for the current year. With this activity on record, members are then welcome to solicit using the following guidelines: 

◦Message Board option:
If you would like to promote your business (announce an event open to the public, seek customers, direct to a site, etc) it can ONLY be advertised on  the most-recent "theMOMpreneurs" thread. Posts outside of this thread will be deleted.

◦Calendar Posting option:
If you are representing a business that is hosting an event specifically for theCityMoms Meetup members, an organizer will post the event to our calendar as a Meetup, with you as host, regardless of its costs to members. If you are hosting such an event, it needs to be clear in the posting that you will be promoting that business. Each CityMom is authorized to post one sales-based event per quarter/90 days. 

◦ Social Media Outlets: theCityMoms public Facebook page, private Facebook members-only page, Twitter and Pinterest accounts are not a proper forum for your continued business promotion unless it has been cleared with an organizer OR falls under the weekly Mompreneur threads. If a post deemed inappropriate by the Organizational Team appears on any of these forums, it will be reviewed and possibly deleted. These pages are to be used to build relationships with other moms + find support in motherhood, NOT as a Marketplace setting. Thank you in advance for your understanding on this policy matter. 

◦If the business you are representing falls under a "Direct-Sales" company description (e.g. multi level marketing, network marketing, recruitment, etc.), promotion of that business at a Meetup -- whether hosting the event or not -- should be limited to one event per 90 days and clearly stated in the relevant calendar posting. Businesses that fall under a "Classes" description (e.g. instructing fitness exercises, sewing, gardening, etc), are excluded from this limitation. If theCityMoms Organizer Team learns of continued unsolicited sales conversations at what are our social meetups, it will be addressed immediately with that member. Continual warnings will be grounds for membership review and possible removal. 


Water Safety Policy

Out of a concern for our childrens' safety, Standing Water/Pool Meetups (including community pool areas, community water areas, anything regarding large plastic and/or "kiddie" pools, large water features and/or lake meetups, etc.) MUST have a certified lifeguard present onsite or they cannot be posted as a meetup on theCityMoms calendar. We understand how much fun these types of meetups can be, but apologize that a) we cannot post swimming or water play meetups where there is standing water when b) a lifeguard is not present because of our insurance requirements AND our desire to provide a safe environment for all members and their families. Please note: This restriction does not apply to water sprinklers OR spray parks/splash pads. 

Photography

Event hostesses are requested to take photography of our members and their families during public events. Photos could potentially be used on our Meetup, public Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest pages and/or in various group marketing efforts. If you do not wish your family or yourself to be photographed, please inform the event hostess.

Any photographs saved to our Member site may be used for the purposes mentioned above.

**Additional guidelines may be added at any time.**

 

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Attendance Policies

Attendance Policies

Please review the Attendance Policies below. We know these may sound 'harsh' or 'business-like' but know we need to put these guidelines in place in order to ensure all members understand what it means to be a part of an active organization. Thank you in advance for your understanding!

Attendance Policies


•This is a meetup group. All members must be active. Being active means attending at least one event every 3 months. As mothers, we understand that some circumstances (e.g. illness, travel, birth, etc.) do not always allow active participation, and Organizers will make exceptions to this rule on a case-by-case basis. If you are going to be inactive for over 3 months, please let an Organizer know. 

•If we find that someone is not active based on the above criteria, we will send a reminder once. If no activity remains, membership will go under review by the organizer team, and is grounds for removal. 

•Members who have been removed for violating our attendance policy may rejoin, at the discretion of the organizer team, after 30 days if she/he feels she/he can now be in compliance with the attendance policy. Members who have been removed more than twice for violating the attendance policy may not be allowed to rejoin the group.

•Only RSVP Yes for events that you can attend. Treat any Yes RSVP as you would an appointment or a commitment you would make with a close friend. Please extend the same respect to members of our group.

**Email is an ESSENTIAL part of attendance**
• All communication about the group is recieved electronically, and a valid email address is necessary to remain connected. 
• Please check your email daily/weekly for meet-up/event detail changes, waitlist updates and to ensure you are getting reminders!
• Please turn on the REMINDERS under your Account Settings.



Absentee Policy (No-Show Policy)

Limited RSVP Events are often marked with the phrase 'No-Show Policy is in effect.' We view 'Absentees' as disrespectful to other members. Anyone who doesn't follow the instructions outlined below when cancelling from an event is considered a 'No Show.'Accruing three 'No Shows' is grounds for membership review by the organizers.

•Hosts will list the current Yes RSVPs in the Comments field approximately 24 hours before an event. This gives the information a time stamp and prevents late additions to the RSVP list from being unnecessarily penalized for not attending at the last minute. Please note: If hosts do not follow this step, 'No Shows' cannot be recorded.

•If you find that you cannot attend an event after the attendee comment goes up, you must call or email the host directly to let them know. In addition please change your RSVP on the calendar. Sometimes the comment from the host goes up earlier than 24 hours before the event start time, please note the absentee policy follows the timing of the comment (not the strict 24hrs before deadline). Contacting the host directly is particularly important for popular events that fill up quickly and/or have a waiting list. Simply changing your RSVP and comment is not considered contacting the host directly. 

•If you have an emergency that prevents you from reaching the host before the event, please do so within 24 hours after the event takes place.

•If within an hour of the event you change your RSVP without calling or emailing the host directly, you will still be marked as 'Absent'.

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Member Dues

Member Dues

 

Please review our Member Dues policies carefully. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask! 

 

• Membership dues are $25 Annually 

• Per our Member Policies, dues are to be paid at the time of signup. Our group's aim is for members to be ACTIVE. We invite you to attend your first event within 1 month of joining, to be sure our group is for you. Within your first 30 days you may cancel your membership and receive any dues paid in that 30 days refunded to you. Dues paid after 30 days of joining are non-refundable. 

• For active members, dues will be collected on an annual basis via Paypal on your join date anniversary.

• We prefer members pay dues via the Member Hub utilizing Paypal. This is the easiest way to ensure we are tracking our paid members. 
 

• If you do not have a Paypal account - no worries. Please contact a member of the tCM Organizer Team for an offline payment arrangement.


We wish to be open with our members about how dues payments + sponsorship funds are spent. Effective in 2014, the following is how all monies will be allocated:

 

  • Member Events = 40% {ex. Holiday party, family picnic, infant massage classes - ANY budget remaining in the year will be allocated here!}
  • Marketing/Promotions = 17.5% {Giveaways, printing, etc}
  • Business/Operations = 15% {Meetup.com site fees, etc}
  • Sponsorships = 12.5% {ex: Great Latch On, Birth Without Fear Rally}
  • Discretionary = 10% {New mom gifts, dues waivers}
  • Charitable Contribution = 5% {Adopted Christmas family, community service project supplies, etc.}





PLEASE NOTE: We have a small number of Membership Dues Waivers available each year. If you would like to discuss this option for you, please contact a member of the Organizer Team by emailing: info@thecitymoms.org. All conversations will be kept confidential.

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CityMom Report: IMA Dream Cars

This post on the 2015 Indianapolis Dream Cars exhibit includes details specifically geared toward what adult visitors can expect to see and experience - Moms afternoon out? Couples outing? Read on. For more information on what kids will experience at the exhibit, we're spilling all the info over here at Indy's Child Parenting Magazine
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Firebird 1; on display at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art until August 23.
I'm from Michigan. Birthplace of the first mass automobile {hellllo Model T} produced. Home to the Motor City. Land of concept cars. Where most everyone knows someone working in the auto industry. Yes, car design, production, pride and well - drive to use a timely pun - is in my blood. 

I am also a mother and art enthusiast.

I tell you all of this so that my next statement has some merit:

The Indianapolis Museum Of Art has knocked the Dream Cars exhibit out of the park.
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A 1951 General Motors LE Sabre XP-8: designed by GM great Harley Earl; at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art until August 23.
I wasn't sure what to expect walking in to the IMA on Press Preview Day: Could they live up to my {okay, exceptionally high} expectations when it comes to an auto-centric exhibit? The budding design techniques over the years? The technological advances? 

"As a city who shaped automobiles as we know them, plus as the racing capital of the world, it's our pleasure to bring this exhibit to Indianapolis," Dr. Charles Venable, the IMA Director and CEO spoke before our crowd. "We remember that in the day, technology wasn't what was coming from our cell phones or the Internet, but our automobiles." 

I felt like Dr. Venable was speaking directly at me. The skeptic.

SIDE NOTE: What is a dream car? It's a pet term for a prototype 
- vehicles created to push the ideas of styling, technology, power, design or more. And while a quick search indicates this term was primarily used to describe concept cars in the US around the 1950s-1960s, I had heard it used with affection during my years in the Detroit automotive industry as recently as 2010.

After more statements and a brief ribbon cutting, we stopped to grab handheld audio tour sets, then were let loose into the Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas exhibit. And I quickly ate my skeptic words - er, thoughts.

So until you are able to witness it yourself in person, here's a sneak peek to curb your curiosity:
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1936 Stout Scarab; on display at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art until August 23.
The 1936 Stout Scarab was what we now consider the predecessor to the minivan: It seated up to 7 passengers, had a couch in the backseat and  included a fold-out table. 
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1934 Voison C-25 Aerodyne; on display at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art until August 23.
The 1934 Voison C-25 Aerodyne is impeccably detailed and was concepted with a new look and feel following the 1929 crash of the stock market.
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1956 Buick Centurion; on display at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art until August 23.
This 1956 Buick Centurion is stunning in person and comes with a surprising feature: A rear-mounted camera with a screen inserted into the dashboard. What, did you think your modern car was the only one with a rear camera?!

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Me rocking the audio tour headset. Ignore the dark circles under my eyes, mmmkay?
Each stop in the exhibit comes equipped with a large informational billboard, select designer sketches and a number for your audio tour device. 

Resembling a large iPhone, I briefly wondered about the durability of the audio tour machine for little hands but was assured they are tough. And then dropped mine by accident, putting it to the true test. {It survived.}

But I highly recommend the tour: It can be versioned by Adult or Child depending on the visitor and adds extra details not included on the display boards. 
I should also point out that the IMA has developed two apps to further the experience of the exhibit at home, but didn't have time to check out the one in the main display. So keep your eyes peeled for iPads toward the end of the route and try them out yourself.

In all: The IMA has done a magnificent job of outlining just what makes this a fleet of Dream Cars and why this exhibit makes sense for Indianapolis. Indy may not be THE Motor City, but this exhibit sure exemplifies our city's rich history in, passion with and continued drive for all things automotive AND the arts.

Consider this skeptic silenced. Now get yourself there to see it in person already. 

MORE INFORMATION: The Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas exhibit opens May 3, 2015 at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art {located at 4000 Michigan Road, Indianapolis; 317-955-2339} and will run through August 23, 2015. Exhibit admission is included with general admission fees but available by reserving a timed ticket either online or in person. Visitimamuseum.org/exhibitions/dreamcars for more details.
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To Love A Mom...

I never gave it much thought, really. Not until now with two children of my own sitting close to me on the floor, at the table, on the couch, everywhere. Always close. You were just there – the one I reached for throughout my day. The one I followed around with questions about my socks, a new word, or Saturn.

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You were one of those people who was irreplaceable, but simultaneously dismissed as I went about my daily activities. If I close my eyes tightly and try to remember I can see shadows of activity in the background, assuring me of your presence while I am running through the sprinkler in the backyard, coloring at my 6th birthday party, and crocheting miles of asymmetrical scarves. But at the time I was too busy cartwheeling my way through the living room to notice how the hum of the washing machine kept rhythm with your footsteps throughout the house. And now, I am you. Mom.




"You never let on to the exhausting gamut of emotions you must have experienced throughout a single day."


It all seemed effortless then. Like my day just naturally wove together from breakfast to bedtime. When I think back, I don’t remember you whipping around the kitchen wishing you were anywhere but there. I don’t remember you letting on to the struggle of being a support-player in everyone’s lives – the person everyone desperately needs but unconsciously overlooks. I don’t recall exasperated sighs when I spilled juice all over the carpet, eye rolls when I flopped dramatically to the ground, or the deep groove of a furrowed brow that emerges over years of use. You never let on to the exhausting gamut of emotions you must have experienced throughout a single day.

Was it just easier when you were a mom?

If I had taken a moment I may have noticed the weariness in your eyes, or the slouch of your shoulders at 5:30pm when all of our lives collided at the dinner table. I probably wouldn’t have known what to do with that information back then, but now I feel like it would be a bit of a relief to know that my perception was not your reality.

Motherhood is one of those things that so many people experience. It is one of the most common roles that someone can find themselves in. And maybe it is that commonness that makes us get confused, simplifying it. Somehow we trick ourselves into thinking that if everyone is doing this then it must be easy. Regular. Something mastered and formulaic, like a math equation. A side note to the real challenges in life, rather than a focal point of continual thought, concern, and self-doubt.

<span "font-size:12.0pt;font-family:cambria;="" mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family:"MS="" 明朝";mso-fareast-theme-font:="" minor-fareast;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:"times="" roman";="" mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:en-us;mso-fareast-language:="" en-us"="">But motherhood, as beautiful as it is, is hard. It is full of paradoxes that have to be navigated and negotiated: hold me, but don’t touch me; teach me, but don’t tell me what to do; help me, but don’t hover. You become so many different things to so many different people that you aren’t quite sure what you need in order to do a good job. You don’t even know how to define whether or not you are doing a good job, so you just keep working toward this hazy goal of being a “good mom.”

"Moms don't know what the need, they don't know if they are successful."

And so it’s hard to be around us. Moms don’t know what they need, they don’t know if they are successful. They appear confident, but aren’t really equipped to navigate the 500 different situations and decisions that occur in a single day. They appear ruffled one moment, and controlled and intentional another.

As Mother’s Day is approaching, here is the thing that she needs most: Love her. Love the confidence edged with insecurity, love the steadfastness, love the fear and determination in her eyes. Love the crazy that follows her around like a swarm of bees, love the disheveled hair, love the grumpy way she wakes up in the morning, knowing that she has no idea if what she’s doing is making a difference. Love the untitled google doc she calls a baby book. Love the old shoes and new hair. Love the absurd way she insists that everyone get dressed even when it’s a stay-at-home rainy day, love the burned food, and love her demands for alone time and resulting complaints of loneliness. Love the milk you find in the pantry. But most of all, love the way she loves her family. The way she loves you. Them.

And then everyone will remember back to “those days.” You know, the ones when motherhood was easy, children were laughing at the table, days were filled with intentional learning and fun, and family was both a noun and a verb. Your love will shape her memories, moving her attention from her inadequacies to the beauty of her family.
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Balancing Work Travel... and Mom Guilt

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I remember when I first had to travel for work after I had Ella.  She was about 6 months old.  We would facetime but she didn't really know what was going on.  She hadn't attached herself at my hip yet.  She hadn't chosen a favorite parent and I only mean that in the way that she hadn't found one to throw bigger tantrums over.  It was hard as a new mom but I knew I had to do it.

Since then, I've been home without travel bouts for two years.  In that time, we've become attached.  At the hip.  I know what she wants when she wants it.  What she needs when she needs it.  I know when she's awake in the middle of the night before she's even cried.  We've got a little bit of a thing.

Now, I'm out on travel again.  
Things have changed.
I'm in airport security wondering if I left enough outfits out for the week, if she's going to do something amazing while I'm gone, and if my husband will know how to sing the one lullaby in that one book we always read.
And then I realize... She knows I left her.  
Sunday she dropped me off at the airport with her daddy.  They both said they'd miss me and I'm sure they did.  There was no meltdown.  There were no tears.  I thought, I can do this... and they can too!

Monday through Wednesday everything seemed pretty good.  I'd call and she didn't want to talk to me, but I got updates from her dad on what they did and how she was doing.  She's say hi and then go play.  My husband would call her back over to the phone to say I love you and goodnight.  She doesn't want to talk to me.  She'd rather play than take the time to talk on the phone with me.  She'd rather watch the iPad than Facetime with me.

Thursday my husband called me in a mini panic.  She hadn't taken a nap and was ridiculously tired and having a full on MELT DOWN.  I know he was calling because he was at his "what do I do now" point.  She just kept crying "I want to hold you mommy" and I about started crying.  I thought I just want to be home.  I can't do this to her.  I calmly, holding in my tears, told her to lay down on the couch and daddy would put a movie on for her.  She just kept walking to the phone crying "I want to hold you."  I kept the tears in and again told her to lay on the couch and we'd put a movie on for her.  My heart was breaking.  

Then Friday.  I thought we had made it.  I thought we were in the clear.  I was sitting in the airport and the phone rang.  It was my daughter wanting to Facetime as soon as she woke up.  She wasn't crying, but she wasn't speaking either.  It was like she just wanted to look at me.  At one point I needed to call someone else because our flights were delayed and I was pretty sure I was going to miss my connecting flights... and she wasn't talking...so I said goodbye and hung up.  The phone rang immediately.  It was my Ells again.  She just stared at me for a while... then she said "you hung up mommy" and "will you come home?"  
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My heart broke again.  I was trying to get home. I told her I'd be home when I woke up. 

My flight was delayed.  And delayed.  And delayed.  And diverted.  And missed. 
I was not home in the morning... 
My heart broke again.  She was going to be so disappointed in me.  

I finally made it home around 2pm Saturday.  
I brought a huge bag of goodies... as a way to get back into her heart - Guilt Gifts.

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She wouldn't leave my side for the rest of the weekend.  
She would barely let me go to the bathroom.  
She went everywhere with me.  
She even wanted to sleep with me.  
I never thought I'd be the mom who traveled for work.  I never really saw myself as a working mom either. But now that I am, I never really thought of the effects it would have on my little one.  I don't travel all the time.  My husband is home most of the time with her.  I think we've paid a babysitter twice for nights out since she was born.  She goes to a babysitter during the day while we both work, but I'm having a hard time with this.  While I know it's good for her to learn to love the time she can share with her daddy, I still feel guilty.  This is one hell of a balancing act.  Does the guilt ever go away? I feel like I will feel guilty for missing this time forever.  

Why do we as mothers bear these guilts when we know they are fine?  It's not like she's with strangers.  She's with her daddy when I'm gone and I know they are having fun and doing fine!  Do dads feel these guilts when they go?  My husband traveled every weekend for the (longest) hockey season for the last three years and while I know sometimes he'd come home and feel bad that I was left taking care of everything, I don't think it was the same.  But why not?  I'm not sure. 

Whatever it is... I just have to check the guilt at the door and remember why I work in the first place.  I do it for her.  Believe me, if it were just me, I would have left my job long ago...  I want to be able to provide for her so she can have experiences and comforts.  I want to be a role model for her so that she learns she can do whatever she wants to do and be whatever she wants to be.  I also want her to know that working hard is a good thing! 
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I have to remember those things when the mom guilt comes into play... 
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My toddler dressed me. {An experiment in self control.}

A few weeks ago, our CityMoms were all abuzz about the article "I let my toddler dress me for a week - Here's what happened"originally published by Babble. We applauded momma Summer for abandoning her worries and letting young Rockwell dictate her style of dress, shoes and even hair. So when CityMom Brandi said hey, I want to do that! well, we were all ears. Here are the details of her adventure.

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First, meet Brandi. She is a sweet mom of {WOW} six, a wonderfully creative personality, plus it's hard not to be around her without a smile on your face. And in case you can't tell from the photo, Brandi's hair is pink. A beautifully rosy shade of pink that fits her better than anyone we know. 

So why are you taking on this experiment Brandi? 

"I thought it would be a fun experience for my daughter Violet and I. She was up for the challenge and looked forward to designing my style! She is definitely my fashion forward diva." Here are the details on their week of stylin' adventure:


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Day 1:


This was Monday... our first day of the experiment, and she actually went a little easy on me. I was nervous!


Violet picked jeans for me... thank heavens. 


My husband had oral surgery so she said she wanted me to be comfortable to help take care of him {how considerate!}. 


The red boots in this outfit made me feel fabulous and confident. 

Day 2:

Tuesday: Violet picked this dress because it had polka dots and she liked the spots. 


Then she selected the pink scarf to match the pink boots. 


The sweater.... well, she loves purple! This was her favorite outfit of the week. 


We discovered I should have cleaned out my clothes before we did this experiment! We had several things in size 28 and I wear a size 12 now! Made me appreciate what I do have.
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Day 3:

According to Violet this outfit with the grey skirt is "fabulous!" Imagine that in a shrill sing song voice because she felt I needed a song to go along with the day and the outfit. 


I had black rhinestone boots and black leggings. She really wanted to do fishnets but it was a chilly day and we felt my legs would freeze. We made this tie dye tank top during a camping trip and it she wanted me to wear it because it reminded her of that time. The sweater was her gift to me to wear when we went out of the house so I didn't freeze. 



Day 4:

The white top was one I didn't even know I had! Violet said it looked like my mother-in-law's dishes from Holland. She loved the top because of that. 


The jeans were boyfriend cut and no socks with the ballet slippers... she said I looked like I was ready to go to the beach... then she sighed and said, "I love the beach." So that day I was the beach for her.


Just a little side note: The jeans were new. This experiment really made me realize how little clothing I had for my newly-slimmed body.
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Day 5:

The Neon Orange Shirt Day or NOSD as I'll now remember it... The picture truly doesn't give it justice on how bright it is:


On Friday Violet chose a neon orange shirt with the black thermal under hoodie with jeans. She picked this when we went for tea {notice her sweet tea dress}. She thought my outfit made me look like a grown up. She gave me socks this day because I complained enough the day before! They have hearts and stars on them. 


What did you learn from this experiment? Would you do it again?
I learned that people aren't surprised anymore of my antics! No really, it was definitely difficult to do in the winter. We are going to try it this summer. It was a lot of fun and now my 12 year old wants a week so I will have 2 weeks of fabulous. I learned as I have lost weight I have kept clothing for mere emotional reasons and not for any other purpose. I had clothing that needed to move on and I struggled with that. I went into it with an open mind but fishnets in subzero degree weather had to be stopped and practicality over ruled some of her decisions once I explained to her the temperature. Hopefully summer will bring some amazingly unusual outfits!
Thank you Brandi - and to your fashionista Violet - for letting us follow along! 
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A Letter To My Soon To Be Kindergartener

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Dear Max:
This morning as I said good byes at your preschool, I got really choked up as I turned towards the door and looked back.  My heart lurched in my chest andI saw you graduating high school, headed off to college – it all FLASHED before my eyes like a lightning strike into your future. After you kissed my lips and squeezed my neck, you went about your day like a grown up.  You have things to do, a place to be, friends to catch up with after a long weekend with your parents.  You are literally growing up RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE second by second.  And, I have to walk away from you and the next time we see each other {only 8 hours from now}, you’ll be MORE grown up than when I left today.

On my way out, I stopped to chat with your teacher and I told her how I was feeling, and she said that even after dropping off her youngest of 6 kids to Kindergarten, she bolted from the building with tears in her eyes.  She said she cried all day and that the tears never seemed to stop.  

As I sit here typing this letter to you Max, the tears are pouring from my face and I have 4 months until that fateful day where you go off to your first day of “real school”, where your academic journey begins and independence takes over.  No more walking you to your mini-locker and tucking away your stuffed snake.  No more squeezes or gentle kisses and me saying You’re the bomb and you saying in perfectly timed response dot com at the blue line before I exit the building.  No more Hey mom with a wave and air blown kiss from your lips.  What happened to the years between 9/1/09 and today? I blinked.  

You became a soon-to-be-Kindergartener.  And YOU are ready. YOU want to ride the big yellow bus and get a new backpack and stuff it full of “real homework”.  YOU are rockin’ the things you need to know before you hit the Big K.  You have mastered talents and skills I had no idea you knew until you are showing off to your friends on a Saturday afternoon.  You are kind, funny, polite, suuuuuper smart, CONFIDENT and absolutely amazing.  I made you but YOU got yourself to this place of readiness to climb onto the bus and make new friends, learn new things and become a better, stronger version of yourself. 

In these last fleeting moments of slow rush-free mornings, I really try to remember that enjoying you and watching you grow up is my pleasure. 

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"You have made me the mother I am in this moment - on this day. I don't recognize myself sometimes but you make me more relevant."
It is to my benefit to embrace the change and grow WITH you.  From a tired, questioning-my -faith infant mom to a toddler tantrum-hating mom to a I-could-not-be-prouder-of-you-than-I am-today Mom, we got here together.  We are a team and we are both going to have to pull up our big kid undies and get excited for this major life moment.

You have made me the mother I am in this moment – on this day.  I don’t recognize myself sometimes but you make me more relevant.  I am more visible because of you.  I appreciate each day a little more because you are in it.  You make it easier to get up in the morning and go, so I can see you at the end of the day.  You teach me how the world works.  

That first day will cause tears to flow and make-up stained eyes to get red, and I may not leave the front porch until you get back off the bus; I cannot wait for you to tell me ALL about your new experiences and journey. So while that first day in August will be hard.  {After all, it’s the unknown that is scary and you have already taught me to be unafraid,} it is also going to be epic and profound and hard and life-altering for all of us and THAT is OK.  That’s how it is SUPPOSED to be.  I cannot wait to KNOW more than I do in this moment and for you to show me the way.  
I love you Max. Cheers to kindergarten. Love, Mom
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It's Okay To Put Away That One Piece, Moms.

Courtney - the voice behind the blog Life At Thirtysomething - is not only a regular contributor but also a CityMom. Go easy on her today because she's not only putting some thoughts on the line, but also a brave picture of her in a bikini. We love her just the way she is and any negative or mean comments will be kindly removed from this post.  
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My husband has always been a huge supporter of the bikini. He thinks the minute the bikini goes into the drawer and the one piece comes out, it’s all over. 

No, don’t do the one piece Courtney, don’t throw in the towel,” he pleads with me.

So I bought a one piece. I mean, when I’m at the beach or the water park and I’m bending over digging through a bag for sand toys, or carrying around a toddler on my hip, I don’t want to worry about how my flab is looking hanging over my bikini bottom. 

Besides, one pieces have made a comeback! Taylor Swift wears them. It’s kinda cool now, right?

I surprised myself by my purchase. By doing so I was not “throwing in the towel” on the two piece, but simply providing myself with a little extra comfort, and peace of mind that my never ending baby bump was being held IN when I wasn’t remembering to SUCK IT IN.

But then I read this article ‘I Have Stretch Marks And I Wear A Bikini’: Mom Proudly Shows Off ‘Saggy’ Belly in Viral Bikini Photo. I thought about it and I was all; now she doesn’t look that different than me in a bikini and she’s proud of how she looks. She considers her stretch marks a beautiful reminder of her three little blessings. 

Why can’t I give myself a break? I’m not 25 anymore with a smooth little belly and a shiny belly ring strutting around the pool in Las Vegas. I’ve had two kids in the last four years. I’ve gained 98 lbs. and lost 102 lbs. in that time-frame. That’s A LOT of stretching and shrinking on a lady’s tummy. And the older I get it’s getting harder to keep the weight off, no matter how much I work out. 

I wish I could say I have better things to worry about, but I’m constantly thinking about my waistline. Part of it is vanity. OK mostly ALL of it is vanity. But also I want to be healthy and fit and live a long life! Being healthy is important to me AND I want to have a hot bod. I’m not ashamed to say a big part of my world revolves around all the thinking and the doing to achieve this hot bod, which frustratingly takes a lot of f*cking time. And I'm still not where I want to be, despite my focus.
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We think Courtney looks fab no matter what swimsuit she's wearing.
Throwing in the towel – and then picking it back up

So I’ve dawned the one piece a couple times on our California vacation this week and not going to lie; I’ve felt pretty mom-ish. For some reason I don’t feel Taylor Swift-y at all in my one piece. 

So I went out and purchased a two piece mid trip. Ok, it’s not exactly a string bikini, but still, it’s giving me less of a mommy vibe which I appreciate.

I know my stomach isn't as flat as it used to be, and my hips and thighs are wider. But today, as I was thinking about that proud mom and her stretch marks, I actually felt a surge of confidence rocking a two piece. And perhaps some of the confidence came from carrying a toddler and holding hands with another while in my bathing suit!

My husband practically did two back flips and a hurkey when he saw me walk out of the hotel room in my new bathing suit today. His hope and faith in humanity has been restored now that he sees his wife has not yet thrown in the towel. 

I know I have areas I can work on. But my husband seems to think I look really good still, which makes me feel good seeing the look of pride in his eyes..

"I'm probably never going to have Jessica Alba's body."
I’m probably never going to have Jessica Alba’s body. I never had it before kids, how could I expect to have it now? I work hard, hitting the gym five days per week and I love to challenge myself with new exercises, so I know I’m doing my part to keep it together. 

Instead of focusing on my flaws, I'm going to try and focus on my good parts more, too. I like my arms, my arms look lean. And I like having broad shoulders and being tall. There, I've already started with the positive thinking! 

Today I decided to pay respect to my post-baby body and include a bikini shot like my fellow mom did. It takes a toll to grow babies in your body, and it takes WORK to lose the weight, too. Everybody has a personal vision of where they want to be physically, and I have mine, which isn't unreasonable, just a little leaner than I am now.

We may never be Jessica Alba, but we are all entitled to make whatever effort WE feel to present our best selves AND rock our bathing suits this summer.
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15 Things Moms Know Are True

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There are very few things you can rely on when raising kids. There are no rules, no advice articles or books that absolutely pertain to your child. But after nearly four years of extensive research and observation, I have found the following list of 15 things to be true:

"Mastitis comes on Fridays at 10pm, colds on Tuesdays as everyone is hustling out the door for work, and weekend stomach bugs attack."
1. You will master the sideways glare. You know the look you give when simultaneously thinking, Are you kidding me? Someone tell me this is not really happening right now. It’s something you rarely used before children and yet now you find yourself pulling it out regularly and directing it toward kids pushing your child, mothers ignoring their pushy kids, women dressed to the nines who are rolling their eyes at your disheveled and crying baby, any person who utters the words “if you aren’t busy right now…,” and even the sweet woman who just wants to “touch those cute little cheeks” moments after coughing wetly into her hands. This is not to be confused with the look given to your kids when you find toys in the toilet, food under the bed, or coins and buttons placed in the hands of a baby by a loving sibling.

2. Illness strikes at specific times. Mastitis comes on Fridays at 10pm, colds on Tuesdays at 7:40am as everyone is hustling out the door for work, and just when you think you have navigated the week smoothly and are looking forward to a fun family weekend stomach bugs attack…on Thursdays between 1:25am and 4:50am. Welcome to middle-of-the-night cleanup, a mom rite-of-passage.

3. There is a direct correlation between the amount of healthy food on your toddler’s plate and the amount of nutritionally deficient food on your own. Carrots, cucumbers, hummus, strawberries? That must mean that mama is eating cracker halves, old toast from the morning, or other items scavenged from the previously discarded toddler snack. Mommy meals are either 100% carbs or are 100% drinkable.

4. Everyone poops together. Have you noticed this yet? Mom excuses herself for a few minutes of privacy and suddenly the baby erupts and toddlers everywhere are yelling moooommy, I’m dooooone!signaling the need for a wipe. I refer to this aspopcorn prayer pooping. Someone starts it off, everyone else joins in as comfortable, and then once everyone has taken their respective turn there is a grand simultaneous finish. Amen.


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Photo courtesy of Naagtag.com

5. Public spaces trigger the part of a child’s brain called the monster lobe. You may not have learned this in 10th grade Biology class, but it is a part of the prefrontal cortex impacting judgment and mood, and also plays a significant role in the pons Varolii that send signals to the bladder and bowels. It basically just covers all areas of the brain, making your children incapable of functioning normally. Grocery store? Diaper blowout. Children’s Museum? A tantrum that tops all tantrums. Interestingly, in-law visits also trigger this part of the brain.

6. WebMD was created by sadists. With baby #1 I thought that this valuable resource was launched to help mothers. After diagnosing my children with numerous ailments at 2am, and researching 3-D printing options of new body parts on this site, I have come to find that this is simply not true.

7. Piling toys on top of your infant or toddler in an attempt to distract them from what you are doing causes them to be even more interested in you. They know something is up. Even as I write this with my 4 month old wobbling in the bumbo seat, barely visible under the stack of teething toys I have place on her lap, she is lunging for my laptop.

8. There is a very real thing called Mommy Language. We communicate in looks, gestures, spoken half-thoughts, and sometimes even in monotonous chanting in order to remember what we were doing (groceries in trunk, groceries in trunk, groceries in trunk). It works, so let’s agree to treat it as a normal mode of communication.

""Helping" adds on 10 minutes of struggling, 7 minutes of tantrums and 12 minutes of tantrum recovery."
9. The doorbell rings at the worst time. The mailman, UPS driver, Tommy from the t-ball team, and girl scouts everywhere time theirdoorbell ringing visits to directly coincide with naptime.

10. “Sometimes,” “Maybe,” and “Later” have a different translation for toddlersYes, we will do that thing you are begging to do immediately as long as you keep repeating what you want. Wipe these terrible words from your vocabulary. And also, loosely related to this, toddlers can remember things that you whispered five days ago if it pertains to parties, camping, “Sandy” the electric horse at the grocery store, the playground, or shoes, but will instantaneously forget any requests you make that involve words like “clean,” “pick-up,” or “help.” I would suggest combining your requests with whisper words for best results: “Judah, I need you to help pick-up your toys so that we can put on your new shoes and go to a party at the playground.”

11. It only seems faster to assist your toddler in strapping on shoes, climbing into the car seat, or putting on a backpack. Do not be fooled. Helping adds on 10 minutes of struggling, 7 minutes of tantrum, and 12 minutes of tantrum recovery to any given task.

12. Babies have an innate strength and tenacity that can bring adults to their knees. They can yank out clumps of hair and mash flesh into something unrecognizable with their tiger claw kung-fu grip. My daughter can twist my skin a full 360 degrees as I scream silently while bobbing her to sleep. She also has the ability to knock the wind out of me with a well-aimed kick. Beware the cute chubby fingers and ooey-gooey thighs.

13. Red lights, newly paved roads, and “smooth ride” suspension systems are to be avoided at all costs. Infants who miraculously choose to sleep in the car will be jolted awake at anything that resembles slow speed or a glassy ride. Choose a route devoid of stoplights, pick the road with the most potholes, and select the car with the most turbulent suspension. These things will lull your babe to sleep. And also, if you have an older child riding as well, ensure that they make as much noise as possible. Once they go silent, the baby will shriek.

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Grandmothers and other helpers are saints.
14. The person who offers to watch your kids, clean your house, or run errands for youwithout being asked is in line for sainthood.This is true for working moms, stay-at-home moms, and work-from-home moms alike.  It may appear that moms in the professional workplace have time to run errands over lunch, or that stay-at-home moms spend their days wondering what to do with their extra time, or that work-from-home moms sit at their home office desks, fully showered, while their children nap simultaneously. This is a lie.

15. Mom guilt is real. We feel guilty for working, we feel guilty for not working. We feel guilty leaving our kids for a weekend getaway, we feel guilty staying when we know we would be better moms if we got a little me-time. We wonder if we’re giving enough time and attention to our partners, we wonder if we are giving enough time and attention to our children. We never wonder if we are giving enough time and attention to ourselves.
What other things do you know to be true?
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Things We Are Talking About {week of march 30}

We have a private chat forum for our members - it's a place where we connect in the days between physical meetups, get advice, share ideas and talk about all things motherhood. And here's what was on the minds of our theCityMoms this week, the week of March 30th:
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  • Spring has definitely sprung in Indianapolis, and we are investing in all opportunities to enjoy it. Our moms chatted about great, non-candy ideas for Easter baskets and came up with: bubbles, new swimsuits, goggles, kites, play-doh, toy cars and books.


  • Visit Indy has installed a fabulous logo sculpture at Washington + West Streets downtown, encouraging visitors to take photos and share with #LoveIndy. More here.
  • This week we enjoyed an amazing rose tasting, charcuterie plates and {of course} chatter at anexclusive MNO with Cerulean Indy. They really rolled out the red carpets to make our moms feel cared for. And the goat cheese pinwheel desserts topped off our tummies. Thank you Cerulean! 

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CityMoms enjoying a rose tasting and presentation by helper Jeff at Cerulean
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Bring the family to the Green Family Fair on Sat, 4/18


So what's on deck for us this weekend? First Saturday Member Mornings at the Children's Museum where members receive admission one hour earlier than the public, Family Day at the IMAyoga downtown at the Indy Winter Farmers Market {instructed by CityMom Anne!}, an Easter egg hunt at the Indianapolis Propylaeum, a free egg hunt at Fishers Station and the Superhero Magic Show at Lawrence Branch Library. Whatever you and your family are up to, enjoy a lovely holiday weekend!
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CityMom Report: Wee Wednesdays at the IMA

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Event: Wee Wednesdays preschool program at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art
Reported by: CityMom Kristi
Date/Time: Every Wednesday at 10am
Location: Indianapolis Museum Of Art
Cost: $5 per member child; $8 non-members
Recommended ages: 12 months+
What is this program?  
Wee Wednesdays at the IMA has quickly become one of our favorite activities in the city.  Every time we go we discover something new that we love about the museum.  When you arrive, you are greeted by one of the staff members who runs the program.  They give your child a blue or yellow apron and a name tag.  Each time we are on our way to the museum my toddler tells me she can’t wait to put on the blue apron!  Afterwards everyone makes their way upstairs to the Star Studio Classroom where the Art Hunt instructions are given and each child picks out an animal that they get to carry with them around the museum.  The children love to sing the song that accompanies the Art Hunt, which starts out with, “We are going on an art hunt, an art hunt, an art hunt, we are going on an art hunt, where should we go?”  

We then make our way to different galleries throughout the museum where the children are shown a picture of a piece of art from that particular gallery.  They have to then point and say I found it when they see it.  At the third and final piece of art, we all sit down and enjoy a story that is read by one of the program staff members.  Each week has a theme and the story is always connected to that theme.  Once the Art Hunt is over we make our way back to the classroom where the children and parents get to participate in a hands on art project.  We love every part of the hour long program but the art project is definitely our favorite!  

Any special tips to offer other moms who are interested in attending? 
  1. Based on my experience I do think ages 2-5 suits the activity the best.  I thought about going before my toddler turned 2 and am happy we did not.  They would still get a little something out of the Art Hunt and story but the art project is definitely suited for 2 and above.    
  2. When we go I also bring my 6 month old, usually in a stroller.  So far this has worked very well and the museum staff are very accommodating when it comes to us bringing a stroller through the galleries. If you have thought about going but decided not to because you also have a younger child with you, I would rethink that decision and go!  
  3. Last but not least, register for this program as soon as the dates are announced!  It sells out very quickly and you definitely do NOT want to miss this one!  
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Gallery tour during Wee Wednesday program
MORE INFORMATION: The weekly Wee Wednesdays program takes place in the Star Studio Classroom at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art {located at 4000 Michigan Road, Indianapolis; 317-955-2339}. Due to the popularity of this program, registration is required. Visit imamuseum.org/familyactivities/wee-wednesdays for details. 
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DIY Tutorial: Kiddo Dress-Up Rack

We proudly feature a monthly column with CityMom Abby, who is also the voice behind the blog Little Miss Martha

I've always LOVED the look of clothes racks on major blogs.  They always look so artsy and so organized.  I had to have one.  But they can be pricey.  And also generic.  I am a huge fan of a little blog by Jenny Komenda - Little Green Notebook.  She's genius.  She's literally a genius.  I swear.  

So when she posted pictures of the playroom in her latest home, I immediately noticed the little rack she had her little girls dress up dresses on.  It was adorable!  And different.  
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Image from Little Green Notebook
Dreamy, right?!
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Image from Little Green Notebook
I was sure I could make it especially since she then posted a very short tutorial!  
Here's what you'll need:

*4 foot pine board
*2 floor flanges 
*2 copper elbow connectors
*4 copper threaded adapter fittings (2 male, 2 female)
*copper piping - sizes dependent on your local stores, but I used 4-2ft pipes, 1-5ft pipe (cut down to 4ft)
*Rustoleum hammered copper spray paint
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First we decided to paint the wood board because my Ells could help with that.  I'm always up for a project that my little one can be involved with!  It's so much more fun doing it together!  Especially since it was for her!  She helped mostly with the painting and twisting of the copper rods.  
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I 'm always up for a project my little one can be involved with! 
Next up we attached the adapters to the ends of the 2ft rods.  A male and a female to each end and twist to stay in place.   This is a step you could skip if you can find rods your preferred length.  I could not initially.  

Once you've got your rods together, it's time to attach the flanges.  If you can find copper ones, great!  I couldn't at Lowe's or Home Depot so I grabbed some of the Rustoleum hammered copper spray and gave them a quick coat.  It matches pretty closely and you can't even tell when it's all together.  
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After you've got your flanges attached, you are almost done!  The last thing you need ot add in is the top cross bar.  I {again} was unable to find the size I needed and while the tutorial from Little Green Notebook said the guys at Home Depot said they don't do that.  I guess I didn't smile or wink well enough... So we had to cut it on our own at home. 
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And you 
are done!  
How easy 
was that?!


This project took about an hour and had an approximate cost of $55.  You can add castors to the bottom which adds about $15.  I have some, but haven't added them yet because it's a good height for my daughter to be able to hang up her dresses up herself. But overall, a great price for such a unique piece! 
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So if you are looking for a really cute little way to hang up your little one's dress up clothes, here's an easy way to do it and add a little color to your playroom!  I hope you find making this as easy as I did!!!
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Things We Are Talking About {week of march 9}

We have a private chat forum for our members - it's a place where we connect in the days between physical meetups, get advice, share ideas and talk about all things motherhood. And here's what was on the minds of our theCityMoms this week, the week of March 9th:
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  • CityMom Tara's little one is headed to daycare for the first time and Tara needed some love this week. After much discussion and advice on our private page, she chimed in with: "I know it's a struggle we all face so I knew moms out there could make me feel better!" Awww Tara, we're here for you! 
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  • Who knew we had such artists in the group? This week our mommas enjoyed a variety of MNOs like a Wine & Canvas outing to Books & Brews PLUS a bows-making craft night in.




  • What else? Wellll, we've arranged for a special viewing of the new Disney Cinderella movie for our members on Sunday at Studio Movie Grill. Cue ballgowns and glass slippers.

  • Baby boom! We've welcomed three new CityKids in the past week: Morgan's little Addison, Rebekah's Maxwell and Amy's Aiden. Ooohs and ahhhs are rampant on our private forum right now over baby pics.
 
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Here's our schedule for the weekend: Saturday it's a free demo music class at The Music Playhouse, a special sneak peek of Dreamworks' HOME movie, the Angelina Ballerina Tea Party at Earth Explorer Toys of Zionsville and family open skate fun at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Sunday we're headed to Studio Movie Grill for that special CityMoms-showing of Disney's Cinderella! How about you?
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That time I should’ve...

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Call me sensitive, but I’m already hyper aware of bullying when it comes to playground play time – and my daughter is only three. 
I’m dreading the years ahead of mean girls (and boys) and it’s my personal mission to ensure my kids never become one of them. As a kid who experienced plenty of bullying, it’s like my biggest anxiety as a parent, especially as a parent of a little girl in the world we live in now with social media.

And seeing as though bullying starts as early as the playground with little toddlers, I better get some thicker skin or else it’s going to be a very long life.

I can’t help but notice the little early bullying nuances on the playground though; the bossy four year old setting the tone for the playground atmosphere, or the alpha five year old that excludes kids from their little game of tag. I watch as my daughter joyously runs into the play gym and cringe when I notice she has become a target of a mean kid’s antics.

In my experience with bullies on the playground thus far, the mean kid usually gets away with being the mean kid because mom/dad is either on their phone or chatting away with a friend completely oblivious to their little a-hole’s behavior.

I mean, I get on my phone too when the kids are playing, but I try to always have at least one eye on my kids to ensure no monkey business is happening.

I am by no means a helicopter parent. I sit back and let my three year old and even my 17 month old deal with typical childish behaviors from fellow playmates. I want them to learn how to navigate this kind of stuff and be able to fend for themselves because I won’t always be there to rescue them.

I don’t want to be that mom that yells at someone else’s kid for being mean or not sharing. It makes me uncomfortable getting stern with another kid, especially if their parent is within ear/eye shot. But in the few times I have had to step in to rescue my kid from hurt feelings or hurt limbs, I wish that I was better at giving a good level-headed talk to the perpetrator, like where they’re all; “Oh ya, I was totally super mean and I shouldn’t do that again to another kid!" A teaching moment!


But no, I have not given thought provoking speeches or high five worthy scoldings to the meanest of kids. I’ve spewed garbled simplistic phrases like “that’s not nice” as I’ve whisked my kid away, all flustered.

Slow clap it out for sharp tongue lashing skills. I’ve just struck fear in no one on that playground.

The evil girl

The other day there was a situation that occurred at the play gym that I felt was outside of the ordinary childish behavior and I did step in and address the mean kid. My daughter had come into the play area and immediately befriended another little girl of the same age and they were climbing and sliding and having a good time. I noticed there was an older girl in the gym, probably 6 or 7, and she seemed to be whispering and pointing in my daughter’s direction. My ears perked up and I overheard her telling her little minions that had come under her influence that my daughter is “evil.”

EVIL.

Then she was blatantly pointing at Annabelle and saying “the girl in the flower dress is evil, don’t let her play with us.”

The little girl that Annabelle had befriended came up to her shortly after and asked what Annabelle’s name was, followed by “Are you evil?”

I’m livid.

What in the HELL is happening here? Thank God Annabelle probably didn’t know what the word evil meant so she just sort of ignored the question. This is where the phrase “ignorance is bliss” comes from.

I didn’t step in then as I chose to watch some more and see what may follow, namely because Annabelle was playing, unbothered.

Then I saw her pulling a few other kids over to a corner and directing the kids to not play with the evil girl in the flower dress.

I charged toward the little girl and got at her level and said – wait for it – “That is not very nice, you need to stop saying that right now she is a nice girl.” She said; “OK” with big round eyes and I returned to my seat.

I know, I totally told her off.

The little girl tried to be nice to me after that and it frustrated me that my son kept going up to her and hugging her legs. She’d laugh and say “ha ha, your baby loves me!”

All the while I’m giving my son major side eye and mumbling trader under my breath.

But wait, mean girl wasn’t done. Maybe 10 minutes later I look up and see the girl at the top of the play structure pointing down at my daughter and mouthing the word “evil” AGAIN!!! I got her attention and mouthed STOP IT NOW with huge scary eyes and she mouthed OK.

From there I grabbed Annabelle and Leo and said LET’S GO, as I stormed passed her oblivious mother.

Later that night as I told my husband about it he was upset, saying I should’ve said something to the mom and I agreed. I regretted that I didn’t speak up but I felt uncomfortable confronting another mother who may take the defensive stance rather than use it as a teaching moment for her daughter.

I decided that going forward, I’m not going to let fear of confrontation hinder me from approaching a parent if it seems necessary in my gut. I will first address the child in the moment and make it a point to clearly articulate on their level that the behavior is not appropriate. If it continues or it’s appalling enough to begin with, I will alert the parent.

I will do my best to not be overly sensitive
about things, but I believe bullying continues because the bullies often times don’t get caught in the act and parents aren’t aware of their kid’s bullying ways. 



So from now on, if I catch the mean kid in the act, I’m going to say something and make it count. And I’m really going to try and dig deeper and find a better line than “that’s not nice.” 


Surely I can do better than that!
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5 Must-Have Items For Baby

The plethora of baby gadgets has grown tremendously since I had Alexa. Now that I'm 20 weeks pregnant - and with a BOY! - the search for what we need is on. And with so many new "must-haves" on the market, I turned to my momma tribe theCityMoms and asked: 
What are your must haves for baby? 

Here were their recommendations: 
 
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*this post contains affiliate links which may pay a small commission if clicked on**

1. ERGO BABY SWADDLER. With Alexa we used the {I'll just say it:semi-complicated} Miracle Baby Blanket but the hands-down favorite among CityMoms was this option from Ergo. Looks like there are pockets for arms, a wrap between baby's legs for proper separation {making it comfortable and safer for my little guy's hips}, and a pocket to cover up the legs. I'm definitely adding this to my registry: Nothing is better than a baby who will sleep!


2. BOON PULP SILICONE FEEDER. Even though solids will be months away, our CityMoms said this was a must-get. I'm hearing it's super easy to use and easy to clean so that's a win-win for me. It dispenses food through the little holes in the silicone so we can use it to feed him OR soothe gums during teething. 


3. BLOOMING BABY BATHER. I remember those baths in the first few weeks after having Alexa. It's so hard as a new mom to hear your baby cry, especially when you know you're doing something good for them like just trying to get them clean. I looked into this after hearing it was worth looking at. The website claims it's made from 'incredibly soft, plush materials' and looks like it would be a soft and cozy spot for the little man... Kind of also wishing they made these in adult size.   

4. ERGO BABY 4 POSITIONS 360. Back to ERGO: I have the regular Ergo Baby carrier and a couple of wraps so maybe I'm pre-disposed to love this brand. They became a regular part of our 'system' when Alexa became colicky and wouldn't let me put her down. This carrier offers four different options including a front outward-facing option. It also seems like this carrier gives our moms the ability to not only safely and comfortably forward-face baby once big enough but also turn inward if they become over-stimulated or need to be held closer. Big plus and sweet for moms who like structured carriers but want more options. On the registry it goes.   

5. NOSEFREIDA SNOTSUCKER. All right. This sounded awful. But the moms using it were adamant on this being a must-have. And while it isn't new to many, it was new to me and sounds like a lifesaver for babies as congested as Alexa was. An alternative to the horrible green hospital-like bulbs, this requires mom to extract mucus from baby's nose by sucking on an end of tubing. I'm promised it isn't as gross as it sounds and highly - and quickly! - effective. Remembering the late nights when Alexa would wake stuffed up and barely able to breathe from her nose, I add this to the registry as well.  

So tell me: What do you think? Are these products part of YOUR nursery must-haves? If not, then tell me in the comments what is!
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Things We Are Talking About {week of feb 23}

 

We have a private chat forum for our members - it's a place where we connect in the days between physical meetups, get advice, share ideas and talk about all things motherhood. And here's what was on the minds of our theCityMoms this week, the week of February 23rd:
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  • It's Whale week: As in Whale of a Sale Children's Consignment Event. It's our favorite consignment sale in the Indy area, and we hear it's record-breaking at more than 70,000 total items for this Spring event. Whale is one of our trusted partners so our moms are gifted with a special pre-sale event. 
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  • A few weeks ago we dropped in on the Nordstrom Kids Shoe Tying Clinic. The CityKids had a blast.So we spilled about it over on the blog. {Hint: They take place the 3rd Saturday of every month.}

  • Poor CityMom Sam started off her Wednesday with an 'I hate you' from her 5yo followed by a door slam. We peppered her with love and support. It gets better in the teen years, right? RIGHT?





So what's on deck for us this weekend? Saturday we'll see The Cat In The Hat show at Booth-Tarkington Civic Theatre, enjoy a Seuss-inspired storytime at Little Green Bean Boutique, get our chi on with Parent-Preschooler Yoga at Lawrence Branch Library, visit Holliday Park for the annual Sap-To-Syrup Day and then while dads do a tasting with Sun King Brewery, the moms will enjoy a little quiet time at BRU Burgerdowntown. On Sunday realtor - and CityMom! - Stacy Barry hosts a bus tour of local model homes, our monthly infant massage class with In Natural Harmony Doula & Maternity Services will be held at Nurture on Mass Ave and it's family night for a Pacers game. Whatever you and your family are up to, enjoy it and stay warm! 
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Redefining Me

I remember talking to a work colleague shortly after getting married. She was curious about my baby-making timeline, as so many back then were. We were in a conversation over coffee where I assured her that “3-5 years is our target.” I clung to that timeline as my early married life mantra, much like when I was a college freshman announcing to anyone who asked that I was going to be a pre-med and English double-major so that I could write medical textbooks upon graduation. A far cry from the Psychology and Philosophy routes I actually chose.
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"3-5 years is our target.”
-I clung to that timeline as my early married life mantra.
Since 3-5 years is basically 10, it seemed like an accurate target at the time. One of the things that she told me as she admired her manicured nails and smoothed her dry-cleaned slacks was that she couldn’t remember anything about her life before her kids were born. It wasn’t apologetic, it was a statement. She had been married for four years before her first child, and she alluded to the idea that the time had been a hazy blur of disposable memories.
I cringed. I wanted to leave this conversation. Even back then I could tell exactly when someone was going to espouse unsolicited advice under the guise of “mentoring.”  I was not disappointed.

Now I realize that she wasn’t necessarily trying to advise me, she was confiding in me based on her experience. I wish I remembered everything she had said.

Three and a half years into my own motherhood experience, I find I am having the complete opposite experience as my former colleague. I remember a lot about our pre-children years. I remember what we did, where we lived, who we spent time with, jokes that we found hilarious, the restaurants we would frequent and what our daily lives looked like. I can remember these things in uncharacteristically acute detail, especially in the midst of a meandering toddler conversation or a particularly messy diaper blow-out.

And I find the hardest part about this “remembering” rabbit-hole is this realization: I used to know myself.

I knew how I handled social situations, what made me laugh, the moments that contained personal fulfillment. I knew how others viewed me, what they counted on me for personally and professionally, and what the expectations were for the relationships I was a part of. I knew in detail my triggers for anger, stress, and disappointment, and I also knew what I could contribute to the world around me to make it a better place. I spent hours thinking about my personal life purpose and that eventually translated into a career of assisting others in articulating and owning their own understanding of their purpose and applying it to creative personal and professional situations.

Then I had Judah.

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When I was first pregnant with him I remember thinking thatpretty soon I would feel more like myself. I thought the only thing I was experiencing was physical change. Then I had this sweet baby boy and I continued to clumsily grasp at the hope that it wouldn’t be long until old Jill will reemerge and everything will get back to normal.

The days and weeks started to flow together to form the past three years. Everything about my life was different but I continued to assume that aside from my circumstances, not much had changed.

The thing is, I can’t quit my job, trade in my daily Starbuck’s for lukewarm day-old coffee, surround myself with new mommy-friends, and pour my life into nurturing a new person and expect to be the same old Jill. Laundry of that magnitude changes you. Kids music blasting in the car changes you. Knock-knock jokes and fort building changes you. Focusing thought and energy on meal plans and pre-school decisions changes you. Seemingly inconsequential moments of activity blur together to create a new life.

My life of intellectual service to others turned into a literal manifestation of physical service to my family. All of the household jobs I formerly skirted or delegated found their place in my own personal daily routine. 
And I was ticked.


If only someone would come do my laundry, clean my house, and make all the meals, THEN I could go back to the Jill I knew. 

If only I could have a day to myself, time to focus on my side projects, and have 10 minutes of pure relaxation, THEN I would see a glimpse of my old self.

Aaron and I set up my life to humor my perceived needs. Judah was at the babysitter’s one day a week, Aaron and I shared household responsibilities, and he listened to my evening pontifications of what else I could do to get back to myself.

The problem is, I was chasing an image and understanding of myself that no longer existed



Kids change you. Period. 


Now, different things make me laugh, cry, or get angry. Being a parent will never allow me to go back to my former years of not being a parent. And I am finally, FINALLY, getting to the point where I no longer mourn the pre-children days that seemed so full of freedom of experience. Because when I look back, they really don’t compare to what we have now. Those years contributed to who we are as a family, but I look at them in a similar way as I look at my years in middle school, high school, or college. They happened, I made the most of them, and I exited those periods of my life wiser (hopefully) and ready to tackle the next phase.

So maybe I agree with my colleague after all. It’s not that she couldn’t remember her life before kids, it’s that she isn’t the same person and she refuses to dwell on that. 



If I talked to her again now she would probably tell me that the “old me” is long gone. I won’t find her in the piles of dirty dishes, the pre-school car line, the work projects I finish while bobbing my infant on my knee, or the handprint salt-mold I made for the grandparents. She would tell me that it’s time to stop resting in the disappointment that wraps around me in that futile search and embrace the beautiful new version of myself. The me that laughs loudly, cares endlessly, hurts deeply. The me that sees value in teaching my children about generosity, bravery, and empathy. And the me that can impact and influence others positively in amazing new ways because of my experiences as a mom. 


Then, I may find, I actually like this new version of me.
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Best. Decision. Ever = DISNEY!

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We went to Disney World. 

Best. Decision. Ever. 

Best. Vacation. Ever. 

It. Was. Magical.


You. Must. Go.

Ok, but seriously.  Let’s start at the beginning.  I thought we would never be able to afford Disney World.  Let’s be real: After bills are paid, groceries are purchased etc., our disposable income for really any kind of entertainment is almost nil.  My husband’s paycheck varies because he is in sales, so saving is usually extremely hard.  Because of this, I thought Disney was like a dream that I could see way off in the {VERY} distant {possibly never} future.  

Fast Forward back to October < or maybe that’s rewind > We thought we were adding another baby into the mix and wanted to celebrate our 2 almost 3 year old with a last hurrah!  So of course, you book a Disney trip, right?  That is obviously the logical thing to do. 

But let me tell you.
You. Can.Do.It.
Seriously.
 

 

While I’ll do a full recap of each park and photos and all that jazz on Little Miss Martha in upcoming days, here are a few tips and tricks that we used - or found out - while we were there. 

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1. If you can go before a child turns 3, GO.  Once your little one turns 3, they cost money.  Not that they wouldn't be worth every penny, because they totally would be.  And I would pay for them, but why pay if you can go before you have to?  Go before they turn 3 and you will not be required to pay for a ticket for them or purchase a meal plan!  Savings = Check!

2. You can book a Disney vacation for as little $200 down.  It sounds like an infomercial, but it’s true!  This alone makes me want to book about 10 more.  But seriously… we used Hi Ho Vacationswhich was a free service (and I mean completely F R E E) and you can book it for $200 down!  A $200 deposit reserves any package. The $200 deposit is 100% refundable up to 45 day before you travel. That 45 day mark is also when your balance would be due. This makes your life so much easier and your trip so much more attainable!  You could make monthly payments for a year!  Personally, anytime smaller payments are involved it just makes things seem not as bad…{Plug: Call Abbi at Hi Ho Vacations to learn more... and tell her I sent you!} 

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3. Even comfortable shoes will become uncomfortable at a certain point. Take into consideration that you will be on your feet for about 10+ hours a day.  Wear comfy shoes, and maybe even pack an extra for the day just in case, say, you get seated in the front row on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and get SOAKED!  Okay so that totally happened. 

4. The best places to watch Festival of Fantasy Parade and Mainstreet Electrical Parade are in Liberty Square just outside of the Liberty Tree Tavern.  You will want to find a spot at least 30 min early, but just grab a snack and rest your feet for a while!

5. Fast Passes.  Learn everything you can about them and use them and get more and use them and get more.  They are a life saver.  They kept us from having to wait in most lines!  I think the only line we really waited in was for Anna & Elsa because we fast passed almost everything that would have long lines.  

6. Princess Breakfast at Norway.  Absolutely the best thing we did. It was tough to get to our 8:10am reservation when the park opened at 8 but it was worth it.  You'll get a picture taken with Belle {included in your meal purchase}, and see Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, and Cinderella.  

It’s probably one of the REAL best-kept secrets of Disney dining!

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7. Memory Maker.  This is one thing that I think was totally worth the extra $160.  The price may be a little different now, but that’s what we paid.  It allowed me to walk around the park without a camera and still get some awesome shots.  There are photographers all over the park and with every character.  At those spots, you get a picture taken.  Since we purchased the memory maker, we got all 250+ pictures we had taken for that flat price of $160.  If we hadn’t purchased that, we would have had less taken and less to share with friends. {And a neck ache from carrying my Nikon around.}  But it was one of the best things we could have done for our first trip at least so that we could all be in the pictures and experience the trip without having to worry about taking pictures

8. Get there Early & Stay Late. Did you know there is a little special song and dance at the beginning of the day at Magic Kingdom?  It’s adorable!  Starts about 20 minutes before they open, but we got there about 45 min before they opened and it was already pretty packed!  So plan accordingly.  Also, if you stay late, there’s a special good night to the park that they play over the loud speakers {just like the end-of-the-day parade at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis!}.  The park closed at 9pm and the special song plays around 9:30/9:40. And of all things, my husband had read about it, and wanted to experience it.  It brings your day to a very lovely close.

9. And don't forget to download the My Disney Experience App.  It's free and we used it as our personal guide to get through the days!  It tells you wait times, allows you to add/change Fast Passes, and see events/parades/happenings that are going on throughout the day.  NOTE: It drains your battery so make sure to bring an extra charger or battery pack! 

I am not a Disney expert by any means… but I will say that there seemed to be a lot of things that we did right during this trip.  From reservations, to fast passes, to stroller rentals… it all worked out beautifully!  I can’t say I’ve ever had a vacation quite like it… And when we weren't sure, we asked!  The Disney Cast members are so helpful and really do want you to enjoy your experience the best way possible!  I didn't believe it until I encountered it in full action! 
"There seemed to be 
a lot of things that we did right 
during this trip"

The best part is we are still talking about it like it was yesterday.  My daughter’s favorite Disney things change from day to day and story to story, but she seems to remember a ton of it!  She requests to watch the parades and fireworks shows on YouTube weekly as I mentioned before, and she still asks to go back.  What kid wouldn't?  

BONUS: I think my husband and I fought a total of like 15 min the entire time… we were there for 5 full days!  Say what?!  It really is a magical place and you just can’t help but be happy there!  Maybe Disney should get into Marriage Counseling?!? 

There’s so much to share that it’s hard to limit it to a blog post!  But feel free to leave a Comment below if you have any questions and I'll do my best.  I love sharing about our trip!
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One, two, tie your shoe...

We're at a point in my family's growth where some of the bigger milestones have passed: Eat solids. Learn to walk. Be potty trained. Sleep through the night... well, my 7-year-old ALMOST has that one down. But the big goal at home lately has been learning how to tie our shoes. So imagine the excitement when we discovered that Nordstrom at the Fashion Mall hosts a monthly Kids Shoe-Tying Clinic! zHero.png
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The clinic {which sounds well, clinical, but is actually quite casual!} takes place every 3rd Saturday of the month before the store opens. And because we wanted to share the fun, we snagged a few spots for our fellow CityMoms families to enjoy along with us.

Upon arrival, the Nordstrom Kids Shoe Department employees measured each child's feet and had moms jot down addresses on a postcard. "We mail these postcards to you in 3 months to remind you it may be time to size up," Department Manager Adele informed me... that's her below in the scarf!

 

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Nordstrom employees help demonstrate two methods during the Shoe Tying Clinic.
As the clinic kicked off, Adele and her staff gathered the kids on the floor around a huge pile of Converse shoes. These would become the practice shoes. The staff patiently explained a technique, demonstrated it to the group a few times and then took turns going from child-to-child for individual help. Practicing at home was encouraged many times, as we knew kids likely weren't going to walk away from this having mastered shoe-tying in one morning. Thankfully the instruction was easy enough to follow for all our little learners. 

 

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Hunter, manager Adele and Emerson show off their smiles
At the conclusion of class, each child received an award, a balloon, a goodie bag complete with fun swag from TOMS shoes + a coupon for a free cookie with the Nordstrom eBar.

I was a little surprised that Nordstrom doesn't include a coupon of any sort in their goodie bags - afterall moms with wallets are a powerful thing and an extra incentive to purchase is never a bad idea! - but it was a wonderful way to spend our Saturday morning + help push us toward our next milestone.

MORE INFORMATION: Kids Shoe-Tying Clinics are offered free each 3rd Saturday of each month. RSVPs are required. Call 317-810-9809 to reserve your spot for the next one and let them know theCityMoms sent you! 
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Raising Good Humans

Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist with the graduate school of education, has been studying the act of teaching kids to be kind. “Children are not born simply good or bad and we should never give up on them. They need adults who will help them become caring, respectful, and responsible for their communities at every stage of their childhood,” he says. 
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In a world full of negativity (abusive homes, violent video games, classrooms out of control, mall shootings, & drug overdoses just to name a few) how in the world can we instill the importance of being kind to others and overall just being a nice person? Well, I am not a professor but I know one thing: it starts at home. Here are some things you can do with your mini-me(s) to get the ball rolling. 

Work as a TEAM
Lets say you’re at a play date and your kiddo has single-handedly destroyed their little friend’s toy room. Do you just say “Oh we had fun! See you next time!” or do you offer to help pick up? 
When a friend or neighbor has lost a loved one do you verbally send your condolences or do you make a meal for them so they have one less thing to worry about that day? 
If you choose to help your play date host why not get your little one involved? Sing the ever popular clean up song and help your child put away some blocks (even if your friend says not to). Or have your seven year old help you choose what meal to send to the grieving family. Get the kids involved in the decision making AND the follow through. Ya know, there is no I in team. 

Volunteer
I’m not talking about joining the PTA or signing up to coach your little league team (not that those aren’t valiant efforts, don’t get me wrong). I am talking about going down to the community homeless shelter and serving meals. Or going to the humane society and walking a dog that has been cooped up in a cage for a day. Or working with Habitat for Humanity to help build a home for someone who really needs it.  And doing it more than once. And then talking about it with your children. Let them know how awesome it feels to do something for someone who can never do anything in return. Talk about a natural high! 

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Be Random
Our children do this all the time already. Have you ever received a pretty picture just because? Or been given a bouquet of dandelions on a warm summer day? It melts my heart when I turn down my blanket at night and find a sweet note from my little girl. Let your kiddo see you do something nice for someone just because. Pay for the next person’s Starbucks. Put some flowers on your neighbor’s front step. Send a note to your best friend who is two thousand miles away. Give a smile and a hug to the mom who seems to be having a bad day. Or pull over to help the elderly woman who needs assistance crossing the street. What do you have to lose? 

Expand Your Circle
Children pay close attention to what is happening around them. They live inside this little bubble where mostly everything revolves around what they say, think, or do. As their parents though it is our very challenging job to help them realize that their actions, whatever they are, affect more than just them. Every action has some sort of consequence and they get to choose whether it will be good or bad. Talk to your five year old about how their temper and name calling at the play date hurt their friend’s feelings even though they were the one who was really mad. Or let your teen know that the school librarian saw him sticking up for the new kid in class. And let them see you being polite to strangers; saying hi to someone at the store, thanking the server at the restaurant, or just letting someone with a few less items go ahead of you at the grocery. 



Raising children today is definitely not easy but if we can all remember The Golden Rule we can make things just a little bit better. 
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Totally Admitting That I Have A "Fifty Shades of Grey" Baby

Say what you want about the literary quality of Fifty Shades of Grey. Go ahead and be a book snob and say it sucked and you quit reading it halfway through because it didn’t measure up to Wuthering HeightsI couldn’t care less about that stuff. All I care about is that it made me want to bow chicka wow wow with my husband like, a lot, and it also made me pregnant.Yes, Fifty Shades of Grey made me a mom.
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There is Generation X, Y, and Z, with sub-generation names like Baby Busters, the MTV Generation, and now, we most certainly have a Fifty Shades sub-

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generation of babies! Let’s face it, people were having a lot more sex while reading the raunchy BDSM novel. If it didn’t send you running for the hills
image2.jpg when Christian Grey introduced you to the Red Room of Pain, you were feverishly reading this erotic tale and barely coming up for air. 

Thank God my sex life was on the uptick during this book series, which made my husband far more forgiving, because everything else in my life was hanging on the brinks. My house was a mess, my job was barely getting done, and my dog was lucky to get an occasional walk. In a word, I was OBSESSED.

I have a history of obsessive behavior when it comes to dreamy celebs or romanticized movie characters. The quick list includes Elvis, which was an unlikely first obsession at the tender age of 14. I drove my friends NUTS forcing them to love him like I did. They were like; Ok, I’ll try to like this dead guy as much as you. P.S. You’re so weird. 

Later, I fell in lust with a much more acceptable heartthrob with Leonardo DiCaprio circa 1997’s Titanic. Fast forward to the Twilight years and of course, I was all up in Edward Cullen’s you know what – or let’s just call him Robert Pattinson. Could I beeee more insane about him? Well, maybe. I was pretty freaking dorked out over Adam Lambert, aka American Idol’s season 8 runner up. His gayness just made the challenge more interesting. As if his being gay was the only reason we would never be together.

My ‘15 minutes’ of Fifty Shades fame

In case you are unaware, before Fifty Shades was published, it was originally created as a Twilight Fanfiction story called “Master of the Universe” that was wildly popular with those uber fans who needed to read a raunchier version of Edward and Bella.Fanfiction is a website for aspiring authors who take famous characters that you know and love and write their own stories using said characters. There’s Harry Potter fanfic, there’s Hunger Games fanfic, but nothing quite like Twilight fanfic. 

In my pre-kid life I had a pop culture blog that delved into all things Twilight and once my readers and I became aware of fanfic, we read with ferver. My co-blogger and I immediately became curious about the author of this kinky story so we started communicating with her on Twitter. She actually became kind of like our “Twitter friend.” Ha! We begged her to do a podcast interview with us so we could pick her brain about all things Fifty Shades. We’d never read anything like this, how did she KNOW about BDSM? So many questions.

So after weeks of stalking her online, the author, now known as E.L. James, agreed to a Skype podcast interview! We were over the freaking moon about it to say the least. What was so amazing is that just weeks after the interview took place, "Master of the Universe" became published into a real book called Fifty Shades of Grey. And the rest is history! A year later E.L. James was on Katie Couric answering all the same questions we asked on our little ole blog podcast! So I def feel like I have a little piece of literary history in the Fifty Shades of Grey coming about story! My little “15 minutes” if you will! 

Too bad YouTube very recently disabled the podcast vids because of music licensing issues. You can't see me, but I'm crying a river right now. Hopefully they will be available for viewing again soon, ugh. For now, below is a pic of me and my podcast partner with E.L. James at a San Francisco book signing!

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Needless to say, I have a special affinity for this book and the powerful impact it had on my life. 


(Ahem, remember, it made me a mom?)

 

So my friends and I have been anxiously awaiting the day this film hits the theaters so we could have the biggest girl’s night ever. Literally, this day has been planned FOR A YEAR. And how cool is it that theCityMoms get an ADVANCED screening of Fifty Shades of Grey in Indianapolis?Talk about clout, y’all! Ha! I hope you grab your gals and see it this week to give you a little extra inspiration for Valentine’s Day. And who knows, maybe some of you will soon join the Fifty Shades baby boom generation, too!! 
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Things We Are Talking About {week of feb 2}

We have a private chat forum for our members - it's a place where we connect in the days between physical meetups, get advice, share ideas and talk about all things motherhood. And here's what was on the minds of our theCityMoms this week, the week of February 2nd:
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  • Winter Kid Koncerts have returned to the Monon Community Center, thanks to Carmel Clay Parks.And CityMom Kristen wrote up a report on how family friendly they are. {Verdict: Don't miss the next one on 2/23}.
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  • The long-anticipated Fifty Shades Of Grey movie debuts next week, and we'll be sneak previewing it at Studio Movie Grill on Thursday, 2/12. With bells on. Cold showers optional. 

  • Valentine's gifts for our significant others became a topic of conversation, and it led us back to our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide for ideas. {What are YOU giving your sweetie for Valentine's Day? Let us know in the comments!}

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  • Peace Water Winery of Carmel won the Best Spot For An MNO award this week. We were blown away by their mission to donate 50% of all profits to local and worldwide charities {hand-selected by the owners' 8 children!}, the Bliss wine made it home in more than 1 mom purse + the decor was straight out of Domino magazine. Just like the sign on the wall reads: We LOVEd and will be back. {Hint: YOU SHOULD GO TOO!}

  • BounceU of Fishers is offering a *fabulous* Kids Night Out drop-off on Valentine's Day: For just $40/1st child and $35/add'l kids, moms can celebrate their Valentines while kids play from 5:30-10:30. Call BounceU to reserve your spot: 317.567-2129.


  • This sweet love note from new CityMom Courtney: "Ummm Urban Chalkboard was fun yesterday, I love you all, I love your children, and I love this group.. And im sad I waited this long to join. I WANT TO GO TO ALL THE MEETUPS! K, that's all." Courtney, we <3 you! 


This weekend we're headed to the second Indianapolis Museum of Art Family Day, will enjoy a party-in-your-PJs for "National Eat Ice Cream For Breakfast" Day celebration at BRICS, visit Creativity Fest at the Arts For Learning and CityMom Rachel is hosting a fun winter bash. Don't forget that it's Member Morning on Saturday at the Children's Museum Of Indianapolis - members get early admission at 9am on the first Saturday of the month. Whatever you and your fam do, have fun! 
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CityMom Report: Kids Koncerts in Carmel

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Event:  January Kids Koncert featuring Ruditoonz 
Reported By:  CityMom Kristen
Date:   Monday, January 27, 2015
Location:   Monon Community Center, Carmel
Cost:   FREE
Recommended ages: All

Did you like it? Tell us about your experience. Yes! The performer {Ruditoonz} was very engaging and great with kids. The songs were really catchy. The Monon Center arranged the room so that there was a large dance area in the center of the chairs. They invited the kids to come up and sing/dance with him.  My kids aren't the type to do this 
but he was entertaining enough that they both got out of their seats. There were even a few songs that had some easy movements to go along with it. It was clean, laid-back and started on time {thank you!}. 

Any special tips for next time?  We got there about 10 minutes prior to the start and it was already packed. So I'd recommend you arrive early if you'd like to sit up front. They also seemed to be okay with having snacks and drinks in the room. The performer mentioned he had CDs available but we didn't bring cash with us so I'd recommend having some available in case your children really like the music and want to take it home!

MORE INFORMATION: The monthly Winter Kids Koncert series - sponsored by the Carmel Clay Parks Department - takes place on the final Friday of the month at the Monon Community Center {located at 1235 Carmel Park Drive East}. Featured performers: 2/23: Island Breeze Duo, 3/30: Kid Kazooey and 4/27: Jump and Hop. Visit www.carmelclayparks.com for details.  
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Photos courtesy of our 2014 visit to the Kids Koncerts at the Monon Community Center - and we still love them a year later!
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Really. Simple. Very. Powerful.

I need to talk to you.  It’s important.  I mean – really really important.  It’s about yourtimemy time, our time together and it’s about being nice, respectful, considerate andthoughtful.  It’s about so much more than saying “yes”.  It’s about saying “no” and also just about being honest with yourself, me and others about this time that we have all set aside to be in the same room doing the same thing.  

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I want to implore you, my friends and fellow mamas, to RSVP.  I am not saying, “SAY YES” when I ask you to send in a note of response. 
I am just asking you to please just saySOMETHING and then ….oh wait...


Mean it.  Stick to it and please – do give it your best go – to update or change your RSVP in a reasonable amount of time to adjust for food, drinks and accommodate others to attend in your place if it’s a limited event. 


The art of the RSVP has been forgotten in recent decades, but doesn’t it seem like the right time to bring it back?
I am in a place in my life where I finally understand the value of responding to a wedding, shower, party, mom’s night out, or even a coffee date in a timely manner. It has taken me a few years – maybe all my years – to really GET this through my skull.  I have come to realize that many of us just take for granted that if we don’t respond, we most certainly aren’t coming.However, then there are those occasions, where people just show up without RSVPing. How odd, I think that this seems to be OK to do!  It’s not, by the way! Especially when reservations are made, favors are accounted for, food and drinks are served and hosts have prepped for days.

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The point is this -- it’s an invitation – not a proclamation -- that you must attend.  A simple “accept” or “decline”.  This is what I most want to share.  It is an honor to be included; to be asked especially for a wedding, birthday party or shower.


  If we consider this a blessing to be included on a guest list and not a stressful “oh my gosh…I cannot believe someone else wants me to attend one more thing” moment, you may blow your own mind in giving this invite the time it deserves.  


You may feel good about being invited by your friend, co-worker, fellow mama, new acquaintance, husband’s family.  If we begin to react differently to invitations, it could change the relationship with that person in a very positive way.  

Sharing in an event with others means someone thoughtfully wants to be in your presence, connect and catch up with you.  I know…..I know,  what you are thinking!   With the world of Facebook events* and Evites* floating through your email account, it may not feel special; but if you consider each invitation as someone who really does want to see you, get to know you and share their life with you; it may help you view the invitation as an opportunity to:

        Make new friends!
         Reconnect with old friends!
       Discover something interesting!
         Have fun!
     Get outside your comfort zone!

*and well, we have all learned how to tell genuine invites from a mass mailer, so stop making excuses* 

The art of RSVPing may have skipped a few generations, but it is not lost forever.
 
Let’s begin learning about 'it' and pass that knowledge on to our little ones. 
Honestly, the sky is the limit IF you say “yes!” But you don’t have to accept.  I promise…this is not what this is about.  I would encourage you to consider the invitation as – just that – invitingyou and asking for your presence; not demanding it.  Simply consider the date and time andthoughtfully accept or decline.  If something changes, let the host know so they can make arrangements accordingly.  There are a few highlighted words above that read thoughtfully let the host know when strung together. It is really that simple. Really!

No matter what the event is – whether it’s a CityMom MNO, PLAYgroup or MOMpreneur luncheon, another in home social selling party, a bridal shower or a 4th birthday invite from the mom at school you haven’t met – simply & thoughtfully respond. How powerful is that?


It’s truly the meaning of RSVP and the {right} nice thing to do.
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D.I.Y. Closet Organizer

I vowed this year I was really going to get organized.  You can see my goals for 15 in Fifteen , but basically everything will have its place.  Oh yes, it will! 

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So… what do you do when your husband is out of town for a hockey weekend for the 5th weekend in a row?!  You find some way to keep your sanity while being stuck inside with an almost three year old {going on 16} thanks to an impending ice storm! 

While cleaning up my house (which is almost completely done and I’m sure just in time to be wrecked by almost three going on 16 year old ) I came across little things here and there.  Little things that I typically use to hang pictures – nails, hooks, wire, tacks.  You name it I found it.  But I had been contemplating using these white hooks to organize my jewelry!  I thought I was going to have to buy some, so when I found them cleaning a bedroom the organization plan for jewelry was on!  Naptime was go time!
If you have an empty useless wall in your closet like me…And aren’t afraid of putting holes in your wall like me… And aren’t afraid to freehand small things like me…Then you can do this too! 
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I started out with just these little hooks and my blank wall.  In the words of Rachael Ray, I just “eyeballed it” fearing as soon as I started a measuring process naptime would abruptly end.  I did one row of hooks, hung my longest necklaces and then decided where my next row would go.  I had collected a few shelves along the way, some cool hangers, and tie racks to use for this project, but in the end decided to only use one small shelf. 

I liked it.  It was perfect for my little stash of jewels.  And the best use of that unused space for now! 
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But I was bored with it… 

So I remembered these sheets I have seen at target that I’ve been wanting…They are a steal and adorable too!  The crosses were just what I needed and totally something I could do with some craft paint and a paint brush.  

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I wasn’t hoping for perfect, I was hoping for the opposite – for it to look perfectly imperfect! 

And I am in love with the result!  So think… do your jewels look like this?! 
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If so, you can do this in about 30 min with some small cup hooks, small shelf, black craft paint (or color of choice), & small paintbrush!  It’s that easy!  
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If you feel inspired to try, we’d love to see!! 


Post it to our Facebook page or tag us on Instagram
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Surviving Parenthood One Bribe at a Time

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about parenting so far, it’s that bribery is the most effective form of getting good behavior from a child. At least it is for me and my kids!

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I mean, I’m not bribing my toddler ALL the time. It’s usually just when she’s completely engulfed in an activity that she literally cannot hear me. Or she’s completely ignoring me, w-h-a-t-e-v-e-r.

My husband Jeff struggles with this concept of bribery as his attempts to rule with an iron fist simply do not work. Our three year old daughter Annabelle will either act like daddy’s not being serious, or his loud and direct communication style is met with dramatic tears and stubborn heels dug firmly into the sand.

Sometimes Jeff is in awe of my ability to get Annabelle to do what I want her to do in a gentler, more loving way than his iron fist can. You see, I employ tactics that work. I speak her language. My directives sound more appealing because I add lots of “buzz words” that attract a three year old girly girl’s attention; words she hears through all the other noise and distractions in her little world.


Here are some examples of how I doctor up some of these simple requests for action:

Request: Get dressed for church

Annabelle, do you want to wear your pretty blue dress, white tights and velvet shoes that Uncle Shaun got you? After church we’ll go to lunch and get a grilled cheese sandwich!

{Buzz words: pretty, dress, Uncle Shaun, lunch, grilled cheese}

Request: Stop playing and go potty before we leave for the gym

Annabelle, you need to go potty so we can go to the gym and you can play with your friends at child watch. You can take one toy with you in the car!

{Buzz words: friends, play, toy in the car}
It may be a longer winded way of telling her to get her butt in gear, but sometimes you just catch more flies with honey, ya know? 
Let’s make a deal

And when the sugar coating tactic doesn’t work, I turn to bribery and making deals.

The way I see it is, she has something I want and I have something she wants. Let’s make a deal, sweetheart. You go pee before we leave the house, and we’ll go on that Disney Cruise we’ve been planning all year. If you don’t, mommy is going to call and cancel it! Or if you don’t take a nap this afternoon, I’m going to tell Mimi and Grampy who are on their way for a visit to turn around and go home. 

It actually sounds a little mean when I type it out, but whatever, it’s not mean, it’s real. We do what works as parents, right? It’s called give and take. According to my mother-in-law, I’m teaching her a valuable lesson in compromise! This will serve her well in the future!

When all else fails, always use Santa

I’m sure every parent can relate to the Santa bribe. I mean, Santa has been the boss in our household for the last two months. If I ask her three times to stop playing and put her shoes and coat on so we can leave and she doesn’t get up, I simply ask her if she still wants that Barbie from Santa. “SANTA’S WATCHING”,  I’d say. 
Who needs that whole “Elf on a Shelf” thing? Santa trumps the elf. 
In fact, my husband told Annabelle that Santa lived in a tiny house ornament hanging on the Christmas tree and he was always watching. How creepy… but it works! 

I’ve been feeling anxious about what my next major bribery tool is going to be now that Christmas and our Disney Cruise are behind us, and then I heard Jeff tell Annabelle the other day that Santa is still watching for next year. Omg, Genius! Santa year-round, now that’s what I’m talkin ‘bout!

How about giving kids a choice?

Lately what I’ve been doing is presenting Annabelle with two choices. The one I want, which always has a “doctored up” desirable outcome for her. Or the second option, which is something like going to bed. Three year olds NEVER want to go to bed, so this usually works. 

This isn’t just a successful tactic with my three year old. I also employed deal making on my 7-year old nephew during our cruise when he was throwing a tantrum on the beach. I said; “Alex, do you want to go eat a yummy lunch {buzz words!}, have ice cream {buzz words!} and then ride bicycles {buzz words!} all around the island, or would you rather go back to the ship and sit in your room with your grandma?” I prayed he wouldn’t be a wild card and say he wanted to sit in his room and watch TV. Thankfully he quit crying and chose the desirable outcome for all involved. Problem solved! 



Wouldn’t it be awesome if kids just perked up and listened when we spoke without having to repeat ourselves a million times? But the reality for most kids is that they don’t, at least not when they’re little and easily distracted. So I say you just do what works. And if that means canceling a trip to Disneyland like 15 times in a month just to get your kid to take naps, I say do whatcha gotta do sistah! Eventually these little tots will wise up to our game, so enjoy the low stakes deal making while you can!


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Things We Are Talking About {week of jan 5}

We have a private chat forum for our members - it's a place where we connect in the days between physical meetups, get advice, share ideas and talk about all things motherhood. And here's what was on the minds of our theCityMoms this week, the week of January 5th:
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  • The bitter, bitter chill sweeping through Indianapolis this week. Thanks a lot Queen Elsa! We debated WHY some school districts close, why others don't, and reminded ourselves how when we were kids, we walked 4 miles to the bus stop… uphill… through snow drifts bigger than us.  
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  • The tCM Organizer Team met this week to knock out the last of our 2015 planning - and it sounds like it will be a fun year! The buzz is this month we'll visit Cake Bake Shop of Broad Ripple for a moms afternoon out, partner withPottery Barn Kids at the Fashion Mall on a fabulous nursery design event + more. 


  • Despite the cold weather, school is officially back in session in the Indianapolis area. And welcomed.

  • New year, new us: We chatted about ways to simplify our lives in 2015 - like how to finally get that playroom under control - and it lead to this blog post 'How to simplify in 2015: A Mom's Guide.

  • We wanted ideas for how to save the beautiful artwork made by our kiddos, so it doesn't overrun the house. Momma April hasone of these. I mentioned the Artkive app. Enny plans to paste them into a scrapbook divided by year and grade {thanks Pinterest!}. How do you save yours? Tell us in the Comments. 

  • We visited a new-to-us spot in SoBro, Lava Lips. It's a hot and spicy tasting bar and BYOB is encouraged. Here's momma Michelle showing off a rather interestingly-named sauce. This was a fun and unique way to enjoy an MNO! {That's 'Moms Night Out' in theCityMoms-speak.}
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  • And finally we realized that summer camp season is right around the corner, so we dropped the Indy's Child Summer Camp Fair on our calendars. It'll be Saturday, 2/21 from 11am-3pm at the Fashion Mall. 


We're off tomorrow to a shoe tying clinic with Nordstrom at the Fashion Mall and a family dance party at the Lawrence Branch Library, followed by breakfast at Northside Kitchenette and the Hot Jazz for Cool Kids concert at Central Library on Sunday. What are your plans for the weekend? 
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How to simplify in 2015: A Mom's Guide

New year, new you. I hear that phrase everywhere at the turn of the year. And I get it: January is usually about resolution and reinvention. But this year, why not make it about simplifying our lives? As moms we have so much coming at us - ways to parent, ways to be a better parent, how to manage a household, how to balance a family and career. In 2015 though, one of my 'resolutions' is to find ways to simplify my busy life and schedule, even if the upfront work is hearty. So I turned to my momma tribe theCityMoms for answers on how this new year can help shape my new you. What were their tips? Well read for yourself:

Identify what stresses you, then take a leap to change it. 
  • Lizz: "In 2014 I ended a toxic friendship that made me feel horrible and guilty about myself and my life. . . I realized I can't change them, I can only change how I am affected."
  • Marcie: "I quit my crazy busy job. Took a large pay decrease but it has been so worth it to be able to spend this time with kids and reinvesting in my family. Best decision I've made as an adult." 
  • Melissa: "I'm done with drama in my personal and professional life. Instead of looking for what is next, I want to invest in what is going on now and make that the best situation possible." 
  • J: "It drove me mad that between work, daycare pickup, dinners and late nights, I didn't have time to exercise. I gained 10 pounds last winter and was so unhappy. Finally one night I mentioned it to my husband and discovered HE had been worrying about his own weight. We made a pact to alternate days at the gym after work and together one day on the weekend. While it cut into our time as a family, it drastically improved our mood at home and with each other." 
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Downsize where you feel comfortable.
  • Ashley: "We made the decision to move to a much smaller {and cheaper} house. I had always had the mindset that a big house was something to work toward and be proud of, but having 2400+ square feet came at the price of me having to stress more about money, spend more hours away from home working and unintentionally made us focus more on acquiring more to fill the space. It was so freeing making the biggest donate pile I've ever made, getting rid of things I thought I needed until we downgraded to 950+ sq. ft. I thought it might be difficult, but really I just feel free and more organized."
  • Lauren: "We got rid of cable. Such a money saver. We got Roku to stream Netflix on our TV and are loving it."
  • Sarah: "We found new ways to entertain ourselves for free or with less money." 
  • Jess: "When giving gifts, we do pictures for everyone and ask for nothing in return {not everyone follows this but at least we know we're not pressuring anyone to spend money they shouldn't."

Purge around the house. Or take time to organize what you have.
  • Kathleen: "I am setting out to rid our house of STUFF and focus more on experiences. I plan to do a massive housecleaning/stuff detox and donate useable things we don't need to a local charity (like thrifty threads)." 
  • Jeanine {that's me!}: "Every January I set aside a weekend to really audit the things we've accumulated over the past year. Haven't used it in 12 months? Gone.  Saving something for the once-in-a-lifetime occasion where I might need it? Not necessary. This mentality also helps me think twice when purchasing items and if it isn't going to be used frequently, I won't buy it."
  • Enny: "{My daughter's} been getting a lot of toys composed of a million pieces. I finally bought one of those toy organizers with detachable buckets and started putting them away in tupperware."
  • Enny again: "The Wreck Room... a playroom is what everyone calls it but I really need a room where my toddler can bash, drop , throw, scream etc without me trying to control her every move. We have nice laminate floors that have gotten a couple of nicks from rough play. We've set up a recreational room in 2 carpeted (open floor plan) rooms for her and her friends to play. It also contains my elliptical and a spot fot for her own tv so I can start watching my own stuff again."
  • Christy: "I keep a list of which organizations around the city take which things - art supplies for my daughter's preschool, diapers for our church's food pantry, etc - and then keep bins in the basement marked and ready. So it's as easy as dropping the things in throughout the course of the year, and loading them up in my car to donate."

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Simplify your schedule.
  • Damie: "I simplified socially. I can't make as many events, and I don't feel bad about it anymore. There's only so much time in a week, and my family has to come first. Plus I know my true friends understand." 
  • Kaitlyn: "I've made one day a week where we just stay home All day. No trips to the park, errands, dr appointments or friends. It's been a blessing to just be home and my kids have really benefitted from it."  

Identify the little things that can help make things easier.
  • Michelle: "I am using a simple to-do list to help me keep the house tidy. Each day there is a task that we should not spend more than 20 minutes on. ie. vacuum and dust the living on room Monday, tidy master bath on Tuesday etc…"
  • Megha: "I started cooking on Sunday during nap time, so I can spend the evening with the kids, and hubby. This also allows me to spend 10-15 min on me everyday as well."
  • Michele: "My in laws have begged to take my kids for a couple hours each week since we moved to Indianapolis. Last fall I finally took them up on it and found I had time to do all those little things I never had time for before: Iron, sweep under couches, NAP."
  • Jamie: "I get up an hour earlier than my family every morning. It gives me the time I need to write out my to-dos for the day, and feel organized enough to take the day on." 
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And lastly, just unplug.
  • Melanie: "I have a 2-3 hour period each day where I hide my phone. It's usually between 5pm and whenever the kids got to bed. I focus on togetherness and cooking/eating dinner at the table. It's made big difference, since that's the time of day the kids are usually wound up anyways." 
  • Lauren"I started plugging my phone in to charge in the kitchen overnight rather than on my nightstand. It's nice to go to sleep and wake up 'unplugged.'" 
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We are about to embark on something CRAZY!

We are about to embark on something CRAZY! Seriously, this may be one (if not the most) challenging things I’ve ever done. What are we doing? Beginning January 5th, my hubby, my three kiddos ages 2-6, and I will be removing all added sugar from our diet for 60 days.
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Yes, we will still be able to eat fruit, pasta and drink milk. These forms of sugar are different than the one I have a problem with, and that is fructose. 

If we’re removing fructose from our diet, then how can we eat fruit? Yes, fruit does contain fructose, but it also contains FIBER, which makes it okay (more to come on this later).  Pasta is okay because it contains glucose. Glucose can be used by every single cell in your body, whereas fructose can ONLY be processed by your liver. Milk is fine because it contains lactose, which is not part of the problem here. Again, fructose is the culprit and is what we’ll focus on removing, along with all of its quasi forms.

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There are a variety of reasons why we’re doing this. 

1.     
Our 5 year old daughter seems to be very sensitive to sugar (fructose). She struggles with chronic constipation and sugar seems to make it worse. After big junk food eating events such as birthdays, Easter, Christmas, etc., her condition seems to worsen. 

2.     I’m tired. I’m tired of the fighting junk food creates. When its treat time, the kids argue over who has the bigger piece. They never argue over who has a bigger piece of fruit, they only argue over junk food. Plus, they’re never satisfied with just a little bit of junk food. They only ask for more “real” food if they’re truly hungry. Seriously, I’m really fed up with the arguing and whining that comes with junk food.

3.     I’ve personally removed sugar from my diet for 30 days and felt AMAZING. Sugar may give us temporary pleasure, but it comes at a price. That price is crashing, craving and feeling pretty crappy in general. You don’t notice it until you remove it. Trust me; people feel better when they cut out the added sugar.

4.     Our children eat more sugar than I think. I’ve tracked it before and my mind was blown. I’m pretty conscience about sugar, so I assumed they didn’t eat more than they should. I was wrong. Why? Because I fool myself with thinking “oh, it’s real maple syrup” or “it’s coconut sugar.” Yes, they’re better forms of sugar, but they’re STILL sugar. The amount of sugar a child should have per day varies based on the age, but my children should have around 3 tsp, or 12 grams. Google how many grams of sugar your kids should have per day. You may be surprised at how much they’re eating compared to how much they should be eating. If your kids are fruit drinkers, chances are their sugar consumption is through the roof. Sugary beverages are hands down the biggest offender.

5.     To remove the addiction. Our boys are going to do just fine with this #60DaysNoSugar thing, but our daughter may struggle. She is like Buddy the Elf (you know the Will Farrell movie). My husband and I always laugh at the syrup-spaghetti scene because our daughter would add maple syrup to everything if we let her. I want her taste buds to adapt and change so she can start to feel better.

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Again, we’re not massive sugar eaters, but I know there is still significant room for improvement. This will be a challenge, I know. Sugar is EVERYWHERE. I had to order the kids new vitamins today because yes, there was fructose in their chewable vitamins. We have to change our brand of ketchup, salsa, pasta sauce, etc. The only way to get away from sugar is to make a conscience choice to. There are an abundance of health complications that can result from too much sugar, and I don’t want our kids to be a part of the epidemic. 

There is so much more to come as I blog about our journey and as I continue to get more educated on sugar. There is a lot of info I want to share, and one blog post is not nearly enough. I’m passionate about sugar, so feel free to follow our journey at www.gofitmom.com.


jen.jpgJen Boudreau

Jen is a former personal trainer, fitness manager and group fitness instructor. I am a work-from-home wife and mom with three kids, age four and under. I can relate with many of you who are simply trying to merge a healthy lifestyle with a SUPER busy life. Helping you reach your health and fitness goals is my purpose.
Keep up with Jen on her blog Go Fit Mom and Twitter @gofitmom
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Last Minute {Local!} Holiday Gift Ideas

Christmas is staring us down. In less than a week, all those beautifully-packaged gifts will adorn a tree skirt and if you're anything like me, there are still last-minute needs on your list. 


And while we know Amazon can ship what you need in a matter of minutes, there's always a special touch when your gift comes with some local love. Here are a few of our favorite stand-by gifts with some local flair:

The Gents: Dads, Husbands, Brothers and more
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  1. Bacon of the month club, courtesy of Goose The Market. I mean really. Who WOULDN'T love this? 
  2. An evening out to Books N Brews of Fishers. Half gently-used book store, half craft brewery, this spot features literary-inspired brews, live music and plenty of reads.  
  3. Fine. We'll spill one of our favorite secrets. It's a boxed subscription service created by a local who now operates out of Texas. CityBox allows you to 'discover a city from your doorstep.' Past boxes have included goodies from Kenra, Sun King, Bee Roaster Coffee and Silver In The City.

Honorable mentions:
 Anything from James Dant in Irvington, beginning brewing class gift certificates at Great Fermentations and the delish bacon marmalade from local Scratchtruck food truck {available at Monon Coffee Company locations}.

The Ladies: Moms, Aunts, Sisters or Friends
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  1. An afternoon date at the Little Nail Shop - whether a pampering pedi or a mini hand massage are on the gift list, the incredibly sweet and accommodating ladies at LNS take wonderful care of their clients. {Take a peek at our recent evening with them here.}
  2. A Blue Capri candle in Volcano scent, courtesy of Girly Chic Boutique of Broad Ripple. 
  3. For the daring and brave woman in your life, this suggestion comes with the most confidence-boosting photo session imaginable: Cindy Johnson Boudoir Photography offers gift certificates in any amount. Her photos are individual works of art and will make even the shyest of females feel alive and in her most gorgeous state. 

Honorable mentions include: Any fun finds at the retro101 pop-up shop at Fashion Mall at Keystone, stylish wares from a new CityMom fave Karisma Boutique of Noblesville or class packages with Invoke Yoga & Pilates for a little 'om'. 

The Kids: Friends, neighbors, or your own
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  1. BobalooKids is always my go-to for kiddo gifts. This crayon apron has been gifted to too many family members to even mention and rumor has it there are plenty in stock for quick shipping. 
  2. A gift certificate to The Urban Chalkboard might not be the most exciting to unwrap but this fun play cafe located in Carmel has hours of entertainment for kids. The staff in friendly and engaging and there are plenty of activities for kids to enjoy. Bonus: Wi-fi for the working mom. Learn more here.
  3. Here's a 2-prong suggestion: Peewinkle's Puppet Studio in downtown Indy stocks plenty of kid-friendly marionettes in the lobby of their theater. While you're there, pick up tickets for an upcoming 2015 show and package all of them together. Read more about Peewinkle's here


Honorable mentions: A trip to Earth Explorer Toys in Zionsville or Mass Ave Toys on {you guessed it} Mass Ave is worth every minute spent. The staff at both spots encourage play in-store and will pepper you with millions of wonderful suggestions. 

The Little Ones: For all the babies in your life
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  1. Local line Vivie & Ash offers clothing in whimsical prints like this "Let's Go Camping" hat. Order through her Etsy store OR visit her this Saturday {12/20} at West Elm Indianapolis for some up-close-and-personal views! 
  2. The Nawgum teether - designed by a Michigan-based mom - has been a hit for our CityMoms. The long 'arms' on the sides cater to older children dealing with molars and the smaller knobs for teething infants. Nawgum is available only at Little Green Bean Boutique {10th and Rural Streets}. 
  3. Another crafty local momma runs a line of homemade goodies called Scraps N Threads. From her Cabbage Patch Kid-Style wigs to zippy cup cozies, there is plenty to choose from. Gift certificates are available.

Honorable mention: Pop over to nurture baby & toddler on Mass Ave and owner Ashley will pepper you with tons of great suggestions! 

The Family: Yours OR someone else's 
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  1. A 3-bounce pass at BounceU of Fishers is a win-win for parents and kids because it usually equals an afternoon nap on the car ride home. Retailing for $19.99, this pass is good for any open bounce session. TIP: Check out the Parents Night Out program while you're there! 
  2. Green BEAN Delivery is a year-round local and organic produce delivery service that services the greater Indianapolis area. 'Bins' are delivered according to your schedule and can be customized to your family's needs or likes. Great way to introduce the family to new types of produce AND support local farmers. 
  3. A family membership to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. First things first: YES, we too were surprised by the announcement last week that the IMA will begin charging an $18 admission fee. And the news has taken our members into a conversational storm as well. But theCityMoms have had the incredible fortune over the past year to frequent some of the IMA-offered, family friendly-programming such asWee Wednesdays and Art In The Park.  We've had a one-on-one with their inspiring Director of Innovation and staff. We sat in on their presentation of 2015 programming which includes an immense collection of family-friendly activities designed to continue engaging little ones, kids, teens and more with this cultural powerhouse. And if the price tag of a single family visit to the IMA after April 2015 worries you, the annual cost of a family membership is worth a review: $75 for an entire year of admission. 



Honorable mentions: We're all about gifting with 'experiences' in this category like memberships families can use all year round. Some of our staples include The Children's Museum or Conner Prairie. For the musically-inclined family, consider a Rhythm Discovery Center membership. Or for the outdoors-minded crew, an Indiana Department of Natural Resources State Park pass cannot be beat. 

Extra credit: Teachers, postal workers, newspaper delivery folks - any extras you'd like to gift! 
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  1. Yums at Just Pop In!. From the 'standard' cheddar cheese corn to the innovative 'Elf the Movie Buddy Blend', there is always something new in-store. Buy 2 - 1 for your recipient and 1 for the car ride home.
  2. Goodies from the delightfully new Cake Bake Shop of Broad Ripple. A slice of caramel cake would be absolute heaven to a hard-working teacher deserving some "me" time. 
  3. Gift cards to the Monon Coffee Company {two locations in Broad Ripple and 25th/Central} will keep your extra credit giftees warm throughout the winter months. 


Honorable mention: Silver In The City on Mass Ave features oodles of unique gifts and the staff has always been amazing with suggestions. If downtown Indy is too far to travel, visit their pop-up location inside Mass On Main in downtown Carmel. {And check out other Mass Ave faves while you're there!} 
So there you have it: Our best suggestions for last-minute local gift ideas. Did I miss any? Leave a comment below.
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Macy's National Believe Day and 'Yes Virginia' Giveaway

TODAY is National Believe Day. 

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What is it? it is the day that Macy's and The Make-A-Wish Foundation team up to grant wishes to deserving kids all across the country. 

During the holiday season Macy's gives $1 to Make-A-Wish for EVERY letter written and dropped off to Santa in their stores and via their web site. On December 12th they are doubling their donation to $2 for every single letter. 

This is an amazing, and very simple way, for you to spread the holiday spirit with your children.

Macy's has also set up a national social media hub to track all the amazing events taking place on this special day. You can check it all out at: www.macysbelievetogether.com

Join in the fun and giving by tweeting or facebooking a message to the kids being granted wishes today using these hashtags: 

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@Macys
  • #Macys
  • #NationalBelieveDay
  • #MacysNationalBelieveDay
  • #MakeAWish

In Indy, Macy's is celebrating with a special visit from Colt's Player Reggie Wayne, at it's Castleton location today!

Visit the Hugo Boss shop at Macy's in the Castleton Square Mall this evening to meet Reggie in person.


  • Between 6-8pm he will write his Letter To Santa and drop it in the Macy's mailbox.
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theCityMoms really want our readers to help Macy's make this a magical day by raising as much as possible for The Make-A-Wish Foundation!

theCityMoms & Macy's
Yes Virgina
Giveaway!
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We are excited to offer a very special giveaway, sponsored by Macy's, to one of our socially active readers. That lucky reader will a 'Yes Virgina' gift pack that includes: $50 Macy's Gift Card, DVD, Book, Doll & a Believe Stocking & Ornament!
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Baby, Are You My Last?

They say you know when your family is complete. You must just have this heart-is-full feeling, like your arms fit perfectly around your kids and there’s simply no room for another.

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Or I don’t know, maybe being pregnant again makes you want to vom and the idea of being outnumbered by children sends you running for the hills. Whatever, at least you know you’re done. 


-Guest post by
Life At Thirtysomething's
Courtney Rice

But what if you don’t know for sure? I have two adorable kiddos, a three year old daughter named Annabelle and a 14 month old son Leo. Before I was a mom I always said I wanted two kids, a boy and a girl. I got my wish, so I’m done. . . YAY, that was easy! 


Wait, shouldn’t I feel done… like done, done. Like the wise people say? 


Does it mean something if I don’t feel like ralphing at the idea of being pregnant again, going through child birth, and enduring all those sleepless nights for a third time? I loved being pregnant and (knock on wood) have a history of easy childbirths. But does this mean I’m truly open to broadening my family for real? Hey, there’s a big difference between fantasizing about baby names (isn’t Finn a cute name?), tiny baby clothes and decorating a nursery, and actually removing the goalie to take the ultimate, no going back plunge. 

I love my little family and the growing relationship I see forming between my babies. I’m happy and would be content living with this family dynamic for the rest of my life. I came from a family of two and so did my husband, this is all we know. A third would definitely be unchartered territory for us and it’s a little scary not knowing what it could be like. Being outnumbered as parents makes me a bit weary. Ba-bye man to man defense, hello chaos! 


The world is built for four 

A friend of mine once said; “Let’s face it, the world is built for a family of four.” She’s right. Everything gets a little more difficult with that odd number, or anything greater than that. Getting a table at a restaurant, fitting three car seats into a car, riding in an airplane, and paying for family vacations will all be more challenging with a party of five.

What gives me pause on this topic the most is the times when we’re rushing around the house trying to leave for church. THIS is when I think a third might actually be a freaking nightmare. I mean, getting coats and shoes on, doing a last minute potty break, and packing snacks is stressful enough when you’re running behind (and we’re ALWAYS running behind). Just think about the times when someone blows out their diaper while being carried to the car, or another decides this is the moment she wants to put her shoes and socks on ALL BY HERSELF and will have a major meltdown if you try to do it for her or rush her along. Omg, when sweat is beading along my hair line and I hear myself turning into a super yelly version of myself, this is when my husband says with disgust; “And you want another one?”

MAJOR EYE ROLL and a feeling at the pit of my stomach that says; maybe he’s right to say that with such contempt... 


And yet, knowing all the difficulties that come with expanding my family, why am I staring a little too longingly at the preggo in the mall? Why are my eyes magnets to newborn babies when I see them?

It’s all weaning’s fault

For one, I’m just finishing up weaning my son at 14 months and I’m freaking sad about it. I remember wanting another as soon as I weaned Annabelle because I was sad that our breastfeeding journey was over. But I quickly remembered I could drink 3-4 glasses of wine on a Friday night (hey, that’s normal!) and not fear I was getting my baby tipsy in the A.M. WHAHOO, FREEDOM! So I got over the baby fever fast! Ha! These days, this mama is nearly tapped out, so I’m waiting to see if that feeling of relief comes back after we’ve had our last nurse to sleep together. *Tears*

I just purchased a new children’s book for my son called “
Love You Forever” about a mom who has a newborn son and she rocks him to sleep every night singing to him; “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m here, my baby you’ll be.” And it shows him growing up and how she still wants to rock him and sing that song to him nightly. And then in the end she’s an old woman who is sick and ailing, and her grown son rocks her and sings to her; “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m here, my mommy you’ll be.” MORE TEARS!

Annnnnd this is the kind of thing that makes me want to toss that goalie and go for a third!  I don’t know, there’s a lot to consider with expanding a family. Life WILL get harder. I will lose more hair. I will struggle to lose the baby weight. And I’ll be lucky if life is ever going to be about ME again. But with all that in mind, I often stare at my rapidly growing little man and I think to myself; Leo baby, are you my last?


Hey Mamas, how did you know you were ready for a third baby? 
Was it harder going from 1 to 2 or 2 to 3? 
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RUN, don't walk to The Urban Chalkboard

It's a buzz we've heard for weeks {scratch that, MONTHS} on our CityMoms message boards:
"WHEN IS THE URBAN CHALKBOARD OPENING?"
And if you've never heard of The Urban Chalkboard, missed the buzz yourself from your friends or completely overlooked the teaser sign on Carmel Drive just west of Keystone, let us be the ones to tell you:

THIS IS OFFICIALLY YOUR NEW FAVORITE STOP. 
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theCityMoms received the ultimate honor of visiting The Urban Chalkboard last week to help 'test drive' their facility and provide feedback on improvements before the official public opening. And we're thrilled to share these sneak preview photos with you! 

So how do we describe it? Well, let's see: It's a cafe packed to the gills with healthy goodies.
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Wait no, that's not the selling point. They have staff members with more energy than a roomful of kindergarteners.
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Wait, that's not it either. Let me try again:

The Urban Chalkboard is a new, learning-based play cafe located in Carmel. What may appear at first glance as a modernly-outfitted spot for coffee, mom chat and kiddo play is much more. {Although the Orla Kiely-bedecked wallpaper is enough to make you go home and rethink your own home decor.} 

Each nook and cranny of the space has been strategically planned out by owners Tonya Bergeson-Dana and Jessica Beer. With 2 PhDs in child development under their belts, they claim kids will be having so much fun that they 'won't notice they're learning and developing important cognitive, emotional, social and motor skills!'
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What will kids find to do? Tons like:
  • A kitchen area for imaginative play
  • Large table for arts and crafts
  • A miniature house to climb in and out of or commandeer as their own 
  • Train tracks to build
  • Blocks to architect
  • An infant-focused playscape 

 

 

 

 


Then there are teepees, tents, chalkboard areas for budding artists and sticky walls for fun puzzle play like what Thomas, Grant and Hunter enjoyed below: