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If I Mention Another Craft, Please Intervene

we tell ourselves it’s cool because it’s handmade.  But the truth is, it’s only cool if it comes out looking like the Pottery Barn version of “handmade.”

Holiday crafting brings out the Grinch in me.  It’s like normal crafting but on crack. You need your craftiness to be on perfect point because it’s what you are giving someone as a gift, instead of paying full price for something else.  And we tell ourselves it’s cool because it’s handmade.  But the truth is, it’s only cool if it comes out looking like the Pottery Barn version of “handmade.”  Which is so not actually handmade.

In general I like to think that I have gotten better about knowing my limits and saying no to most crafts.  In my experience they tend to cost more time, energy, and frustration, then they make up for in cost savings.

In fact, just last week I was on Pinterest and saw instructions for a Felt Christmas Tree for toddlers to decorate.  It looked totally easy.  All I needed was a bunch of colored felt, scissors, and a totally free Saturday to design all the little ornaments.  I honestly considered it for like two hours.

Then I saw it on Amazon for twenty bucks with free shipping and I was quickly over crafting it.  (Find the tree here, along with my children’s book, to keep your toddler busy for at least forty five minutes;).

felt christmas tree for toddlersMy Mom is the Worst Book Cover

So this year I told myself I was saying No to Christmas crafts, and the stress that comes along with them.

But then I went down a rabbit hole.  I read a friend’s post called Thirty DIY Christmas Gifts, and fell in love with some adorable antique framed chalkboards.  But alas, I had promised myself I wasn’t going to stress over Christmas crafts!

Fast forward two days and I’m standing in the aisle of a discount store, eyes locked on the perfect antique mirrors for only five bucks!  All I needed was a little chalkboard paint (which I already had).  It was meant to be.  This was going to be SO EASY!  Right there I abandoned all my rational thoughts and gleefully loaded up my cart with four mirrors.

This proceeded to kick off an If You Give a Mouse a Cookie scenario.

Turns out I didn’t like the finish on the chalkboard paint I had.  Too glossy.  Back to the store.

Then I didn’t like the texture that my paint brush was creating in the paint.  What I obviously needed were those foam paint brushes.  Back to the store.

I went to peel the painters tape off the first mirror and huge chunks of chalkboard paint came off with it.  WTF.  Now I need to return the extra mirrors, the cute red pompom chalk board erasers, and the decorative chalk bags I found, because I was furious and decided to abandon this horrible craft idea.  Back to the store.

antique chalkboard sign fail

In the end I turned out ONE finished antique chalkboard.  It’s sitting at my house, where it will remain, because I am too embarrassed to give it away to anyone because of all its crafting imperfections.

antique chalkboard sign

If time is money, this damn chalkboard cost me way more than any Pottery Barn version!

I will admit that I did have one craft success.  It involved buying something that was wooden christmas sign craftalready adorable and finished, and then personalizing it with a gold paint pen.  Turns out, that I can handle.

Now excuse me while I head back to the store to find the actual gifts I will be giving this year.

 

 

If You Want to Comment on A Baby Bump, Here are the Rules

Thanks for commenting on my body’s beach ball similarity, said no pregnant woman ever. I just left shaking my head.

FullSizeRender (1)
Photo Cred:  @hegehost1

 

 

Sure, I’m emotional.  I’m 33 weeks pregnant with baby two.  I’m at the point where my tears have few limits while scrolling through social media.  Puppies – blub.  Babies – Blub. Blub.  Inspirational stories – Blub, blub, blub.

So it’s no surprise I was extra annoyed by the Ralphs cashier yesterday.  But some people really are so clueless when it comes to how to talk to a pregnant woman.  That, or they like to compare everything about their birth experience to the experience you must be having, because you know, every pregnancy is the same.

As the cashier was ringing up my bounty, she asked, “So when are you due?”

I smiled and replied, “January.”

“Oh wow, you look like you are ready to go now.  That’s what I looked like when I gave birth!”

Seriously –  Are some people just unaware of the  vomit they are about to spew when they open their mouth?!  I’ve gained a total of 22 lbs., which mind you is already more than I gained in total with my first pregnancy (so I’m a bit self concise), but honestly, I didn’t think it was totally out of control…until now.

The grocery store train wreck didn’t end there.  She declared, “Early January, I hope!”

“Actually January 23rd,” I mumbled.

She didn’t even pause, as if she had noticed how awkward the conversation had become.   Biggest eye roll ever.

Thanks for commenting on my body’s beach ball similarity, said no pregnant woman ever.  I just left shaking my head.

I’m not suggesting you walk on pins and needles around every obviously pregnant woman.  Just please stop to think of something positive and uplifting to say before you open your mouth.

Pregnant mamas have a lot on their mind.  They probably haven’t had comfortable sleep in awhile, they may feel like they are running out of acceptable clothes that fit, and they’re probably starting to think about this gigantic watermelon that soon has to exit their perfect peach.

After two pregnancies, the grocery store conversation was obviously not the only clueless run in I had.  Here are a few things I’ve heard that I wouldn’t recommend using as your one liner:

“Is it really safe to be running while you are pregnant?”

“You wanted that decaf right?”

A coworker who said, “Your pregnancy has been way to easy, something bad has got to happen.”

A cousin who said, “Why would you want a natural birth?  You wouldn’t get your tooth removed without pain meds.  Why would you do it with a baby?”

“You look like you’re ready to Pop!”

Obviously none of these made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Thankfully, I’ve had some positive interactions that have taught me what can really make a pregnant woman’s day.  Here are a few:

“Wow, that’s awesome that you are still working out!”

“From behind you don’t even look pregnant.”

A coworker that wished me a quick and easy delivery.

An aunt who said, “I honestly believe you are strong enough to achieve a natural birth.”

A guy who simply clapped for me when I ran by him on the trail.

Strangers that held the door open, or offered to carry things for me.

Pregnancy and childbirth can be a real mind f*ck for a woman.  Please don’t traumatize her with negativity.  Heed the old advice:  If you can’t say something nice, please don’t say anything at all.  We really don’t want to hear it.

I Don’t Do It All: Exclusive Interview

Single Moms Planet Exclusive Interview with Author J.K. Coy

I already know the number of daily faults and failures I make as a parent, and I don’t even have to do it all myself.  I have a very supportive and involved, other half, which I am grateful for.

But I was thrilled when Single Moms Planet Author and Book BiggestFamilyShower2017asked me to sit down with them for an exclusive interview,  because these ladies are my heros.  Their motto is Helping Single Moms, Help Themselves.  Now these are some strong and powerful women.

We discussed how to do it all as a parent (or NOT), how to write your first book, and what #girlpower lessons I want my own little chica to learn.

You can read the full interview HERE.

 

 

10 Best Books for Toddlers (That They Don’t Already Have)

We’ve tested them all, night after night, just to make sure they really are fun reads for both the parent and their little tykes to enjoy together. No gift receipt needed!

Toddler Book ShelfReading books to a toddler can create a magical time of routine and connection, but most children have the classics.  They really only need one copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, though it’s a great read.

For a new title that they don’t already have on their bookshelf, try adding one of the following books to their collection.  We’ve tested them all, night after night, just to make sure they really are fun reads for both the parent and their little tykes to enjoy together.  No gift receipt needed!

All are available online, so you can finish that to-do task right now.

Here are The Top Ten Toddler Books (They Don’t Already Have), plus a bonus #11, just because we can!

  1. The Watermelon Seed: A short and funny read about an Alligator that is obsessed with watermelon. His obsession takes him to a point of trouble…but it’s hard to stay away from the things we love most!
  2. My Mom is the Worst: A story (from a toddler’s perspective) about how parents often try to ruin their kids fun. Parents make them wear clothes, clean up messes, learn and try new things! They really are the worst sometimes. FrontCoverJKCEditedFontThere’s also a hidden story, within the story, for parents to enjoy along the way.
  3. Don’t Push the Button: Larry is a Monster with just one rule for your toddler,]: don’t push the button. Alas, someone does, and silly antics ensue. Children love playing along with the instructions in the book: press the button, shake the book, tickle the belly. Sometimes it’s funny when things don’t go as expected.
  4. I Love You, Stinky Face: A mother’s job is to make their child feel loved, even when others might shy away. The mama is this story is top notch. She finds ways to love on her little one even if they were a one-eyed monster or a stinky skunk. A mother’s love really has no limits.
  5. Moo, Baa, La La La: A quick bedtime read that children can easily start to memorize and read along.   All of the animals enjoy making their classic sounds, except the three silly pigs!  JK Coy
  6. Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster:   Who is more emotional, the mama or the monster? This baby monster is amazing at driving her mama bonkers. But at the end of the day, snuggles heal all. A fun and honest read for an exhausted parent that can’t help but love their little monster to pieces.
  7. Hello – Highlights Magazine : These mini books are full of short songs, rhymes, and stories for little hands. Enjoy a year subscription of coated, mini magazines from Highlights (bendable and easy to wipe down). They’ve been teaching and entertaining children for years, and they have it down! Bonus, the Hello magazines are light-weight and compact which makes them easy to throw in the car or a diaper bag.
  8. Dragons Love Tacos: Did you know that Dragons can’t stand spicy salsa?! This may be the longest book on the list, but it’s also one of the most hilarious for kids and adults to enjoy together. Even from a young age, children can enjoy the humor and creative illustrations. It’s one that will be in their collection long after their toddler years.
  9. Everything is Mama: Most toddlers hit the “Mama” stage at some point. While it can drive a parent absolutely mad that their child can now only accept a banana from their Mama and no one else, it helps (a little) to find humor in it. This is Jimmy Fallon’s second book, and is the follow-up to: Your Baby’s First Word Will be DADA. Now, if only parents had that kind of power!kids read
  10. Potty: Poo-Poo, tinkle, and toot – whatever you call bathroom business in your house, toddlers can’t help but giggle. A simple read about the art of going potty, perfect for those that will begin potty training soon. It’s never too early to get them excited about UNDIES!
  11. BONUS BOOK: Bathtime for Little Rabbit: This cuddly bunny needs a bath, but he’s not very excited to play along. The author makes this an interactive bathtime for readers by having them scrub, blow-dry, and lotion bunny. This tale will prep the little ones to play along with their own bathtime routine.

Failing and Laughing, Learning to be a New Parent

It was like my little human had turned in to a boss I couldn’t please, always yelling, “FASTER!” or “Not good enough Mama.”

 

bmpicFrom the moment I came home from the hospital, I felt like something was missing.

I was given a perfect little human, but no extra set of hands. And my perfect little human wanted to be held ALL THE TIME.

It didn’t take long before the resentment crept in. All I wanted was to take a shower, clean-up, cook something, rest.  But now I wasn’t even capable of brushing my teeth without getting screamed at.  It was like my little human had turned in to a boss I couldn’t please, always yelling, “FASTER!”  or “Not good enough Mama.”

Just a few weeks prior I was a highly functioning adult in the corporate world, making things happen. Now remedial tasks were crippling.

This drove my sleep deprived self in to a crazy self-loathing state. I like to say I wasn’t fully depressed because I didn’t take drugs to heal it, but that was a lie I used to try to feel better about myself.  I felt bad for not getting anything done.  And I felt incapable of managing things I used to do with ease.

Very slowly I did adjust to my new world and I started to enjoy Motherhood more. I still didn’t love myself, and all my new glaring inabilities, but the never-ending love I felt for my baby was there.

And one day, when my perfect human was about three months old, I got the blessing of her falling asleep in the car at the gas station. I finally had two hands free.  I was instantly inspired.  My brain felt so clear and focused for the first time in forever.

I began to jot down the parental tale that had been swarming around in my head since my human arrived.

“Every day you make me crazy. I love you to pieces Beautiful Monster.”

The rest of the story just flowed from there.

She even slept long enough for me to sketch out a picture of a little monster.

That night I shared the story with my husband. He lovingly said I should publish it.  It could have been an encouraging yet fleeting comment, but I decided he was right.

How many other new parents were feeling like we were? How many people were sharing social media posts of their perfect little humans and secretly feeling inadequate and confused behind the scenes?  How many new parents were feeling bad because they thought they must be strange for feeling completely frustrated by their perfect little human?

JK Coy

Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster is an inclusive tale for new parents (or soon to be parents).  No one should feel alone as they adjust to parenthood.  The book is full of truth, humor, and adorable illustrations to entertain those little monsters.  Get it for yourself, gift it to a friend.

We are all in this together. Figuring it out, minute by minute.  Failing, and trying again.

See all the books by author J.K. Coy here.