Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Uniform Of The Stay-At-Home Mom

Not what a stay-at-home mom wears...unless she's insane!

Note:  Although I was compensated for this post, all opinions are purely mine.  


There's a parade at our town pool every day.  In sharp contrast to most of the people there, mothers and grandparents who are not working and who are dressed in swim wear and coverups, at 5 in the afternoon in comes a sharp line of adults wearing the uniforms of the 9 to 5 world. These tired-looking working parents arrive at the pool to pick up their little YMCA campers who are spending their Summer swimming and playing games.  The mostly upper-management women clip-clop around in high heels and try to remain cool, despite the oppression of panty hose, in skirts.  They wear make-up and sport the latest hair styles. The men are clad in Wall Street Wear: well-tailored suits in shades of gray and blue. A few have taken off their ties and opened their shirts. All of them look happy to be out of the office and I'll bet many wish to be in swim wear, frolicking in the pool with their little ones. But this “parade of office wear” started me thinking about the “uniform” of the stay-at-home moms I know.


We are concerned, nay, CONSUMED by the desire for comfort. We've got enough to think about, namely kids, without fussing with clothes that are uncomfortable or staying current
Neon peach blossom sports bra - with the holding power of a crane
with the latest fashion. Our clothes must allow for movement as we keep up with Roadrunner-like toddlers and preschoolers who think they're indestructible. For that reason, we gravitate toward workout apparel and yoga clothes like those sold by Sweaty Betty (great name, huh?). You've gotta love this stuff! It's durable, has plenty of support for wiggling, jiggling, gravity-laden body parts. It looks sleek and is comfortable. Sports bras hold EVERYTHING in place without killing shoulders or making you feel like a boa constrictor is squeezing your chest. And yoga pants are snuggly enough so that when our kid takes a nap (if they EVER will), we can curl up for one, too. Workout clothes are nice enough that you're not embarrassed to answer the door when the
Calypso yoga pants - snugly
UPS guy comes and when I wear them, I can delude myself into thinking that I might actually someday want to work out (NOT!).


Right now, I am perfectly content, okay, grateful, for my summer uniform of capri pants and t-shirts when I'm not at the pool. But I am also aware that in my future are heels, skirts, and tailored suits as I get back into the working world. When my little one is older and I finally enter a new phase of parenthood to once again, join the 9 to 5ers, my uniform will change. Maybe I should be paying closer attention to the parade before me. It's only a matter of time before I rejoin their ranks.

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Thank you for reading!  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Red Hoodie

As kids get older, they're supposed to give up special objects they're attached to, right? Maybe. I know plenty of adults who had significant objects they're used to and would miss if the objects were gone. Note that I am NOT talking about technology which contains important information we cannot live without. But every time I lose a pair of earrings or leave a pair of flip flops behind on vacation, I'm a little sad. So I guess I should not be surprised by the red sweatshirt.

Every year for the last few, my teenager has become one with a hoodie. It doesn't matter if he's picked it out or it was given to him. He wears one zip-up sweatshirt...in all types of weather...no matter what. Here's the current model:




Note that he's wearing it at the pool... on a 105 degree day... in the sun. He wore it, and only it, over a shirt when the weather was 10 below zero. He wore it earlier today while he was jogging in 100 degrees. He wears it in the rain, sleet, and snow.

Junior does not let me wash the hoodie. It has crumbs from a thousand protein bars in its pockets. It has stains from burritos and pizza. It smells putrid, like something the EPA fines municipalities for. My husband and I joke that it probably contains bacteria like listeria and e-coli. Interestingly enough, my son takes pride in how absolutely disgusting his hoodie is.

I do, of course, wash it. When he's sleeping, the only time he takes it off, I secretively bring it down to the washing machine. The article gets washed alone, because the water it gets submerged in turns gray. It gets put in the dryer, sans dryer sheets which might make it smell nice, and then placed back in a heap by the front door for Junior to don in the morning.

My son will wear the hoodie until, like the Incredible Hulk, he's bursting out of it. Then, he'll either ask for or get a replacement from a friend or Nana.

It comforts me to know he's attached to something so inane. Someday, when he's a bit more grown, he'll bring home a girl and she'll either demand that he get rid of it or he'll ditch it for her. Until then, the repulsive hoodie is a reminder that he's still my little boy and, like his former favorite stuffed wolf, he needs an object of comfort. 

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Thank you for reading!  Please visit me on http://isithotinheremmm.blogspot.com.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Adding Fragrance To Your House For FREE

Sometimes when you're burning a candle, the wick burns down so far that all you have left is wax and no wick. Or you may have a candle but don't want to spend the money on a holder. I used to take those pieces of wax and orphan candles and use them in the fireplace when I needed help starting a fire. Last Winter, however, with me using the fireplace less thanks to the kids' busy schedules, I had a stockpile of wax and nothing to use it for.

Without a holder, this candle is useless, right? WRONG!

Then one day when I was in the store looking at wax melts, I realized that they're merely leftover pieces of candles, like the kind I had at home. So I grabbed a few clean baby food jars (I ALWAYS stockpile those) with the labels peeled off, chopped up pieces of my old candles, and placed the now-filled jars on a candle warmer I'd bought on clearance. The wax pieces melt on the warmer and my house smells like I have a candle burning. 

Candle fragments melted in a baby food jar.


Alternatives to this are:

  1. If you don't have a baby food jar, use any kind of clean jar without labels that will fit on the warmer. When you need to label the scent, just write on the jar using a Sharpie marker; you can re-label the jar by washing the marker off with alcohol or scrubbing it clean.
  2. If you don't have any candle fragments lying around, grab some dryer scent boosters (see photo below) and place those in a jar.

    Laundry scent booster

  3. So that you remember to turn off the candle warmer before you leave the house or go to bed, leave your car keys or cell phone near the warmer. Chances are, you'll reach for one of those, realize that they're not where they should be, and turn the warmer off.

Do you have any uses for leftover candle pieces? Let me know!

Ahhh...the house smells lovely!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How To Make A Voodoo Doll - A Primer For Kids

If you follow me on Twitter (and please do: https://twitter.com/IsItHotInHereMM), you know that recently, my 8-year old said she wanted to make a voodoo doll. At first, I was a little concerned that she wanted to make one of ME (aka "She Who Yells A Lot"), but as it turned out, the victim is her brother. Whew! So why him? “Payback, Mom, payback,” she said. She's PISSED at him, big time, most of the time. So I let her make the voodoo doll. Here's why:

While voodoo dolls are associated with evil, they're actually meant to gain influence over whomever you're making the doll about. Diva is 8; her brother is almost 14. She weighs maybe 45 pounds; he's heavier and taller. She is jealous of him and the privileges he gets because of his age. If making a voodoo doll makes her feel better, I'm all for it. 
Here's how we made it:

  1. We took an old shirt the Teen had outgrown. The doll is more “powerful” if you use a personal item from the victim.
  2. I drew and made a template out of cardboard. I did it freehand, but free templates can be found here: http://www.allcrafts.net/dolls.htm.
  3. She cut the material out using the template.
  4. Since Diva did not want to sew, we used a glue gun to glue the two pieces together, leaving a hole for stuffing.
  5. This particular doll will not be washed, so I used part of a plastic grocery bag to stuff it; then she glued the hole shut.
  6. She then used markers to color the doll so that it looks like her brother. Note the red sweatshirt that the kid wears, no matter what the weather. On 100 degree days, he STILL wears the shirt outside.

Diva was giddy at the prospect of having influence over her brother while he had decided, quite kindly, to play along with the premise of the doll. He was at a friend's house while the doll was being created, but my daughter still took great pleasure at making the doll do a split, stand on it's head, etc. When we went to pick Junior up, she asked if he'd done the split or felt anything weird. He answered that yes, he inexplicably HAD done a split and had had a headache just at the precise moment when she was playing with the doll. “MOMMY, IT WORKS,” she yelled.

Because I helped her make the doll, I explained that it won't work all the time, which gives us some wiggle room when she wants her brother to do things he just can't be bothered to do. When she finds out the truth, my explanation will be that I wanted to see her to see what a wonderful creation she was capable of making and that I just wanted her to have fun. My sense is that she's going to become bored with the doll pretty quickly. In fact, as I write this, neither she nor I know where the dang thing is.

It's hard enough being a little sister. If making a voodoo doll empowers her, makes her feel better, then I'm happy for my daughter. More power to her! 
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Please check back in with me soon!  Oh, and check out my boards on Pinterest at  http://www.pinterest.com/isithotinheremm.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Celebrating The Sandals Of Summer

Please note:  Although I was compensated for writing this post, all opinions expressed are my own.  Meet me on the street during the Summer and I WILL be wearing sandals.





It may be silly, but one of the things I love the most about the Summer is the fact that you can wear sandals virtually every day! I ditch shoes the first warm day at the end of Spring and don't put them on again until I'm sure my toes are going to freeze (can you say Toesicle?). Shoes are confining, hot, and take too long to put on, plus you have to wear socks. I HATE socks which mean washing and matching them. Ugh! I slip on sandals and, like a pig in mud, am one happy Mom!

Women's sandals seem to morph every season into one specialty or another, but basically, there are five types of sandals:


  1. Gladiator – Defined by rows of horizontal straps, these sandals may sport a heel or not. They're striking and call attention to themselves, which is great for taking attention off a less-than-fit body.

  2. Espadrilles – Traditionally flat, espadrilles are defined by a sole made of jute or rope. They're beautiful with a skirt.

  3. Heels – These can be strappy heels or wedges. I haven't worn any kind of heels since my teenager was born and I'm pretty sure I'd get vertigo if I even attempted them.

  4. Flats – Beading and jewels can transform a dull, flat sandal into something dazzling.

  5. Ankles – These feature a wide ankle strap and open toe. Some have a shaft around the ankle, like a short boot. Again, for me, they're not worth the extra effort to put on.


I crave shoes I can slip in and out of without a thought. I have a hard enough time remembering which kid is where without thinking about my footwear. I also need sandals to be comfortable, since I'm never quite sure what the day holds in terms of walking. I've tried cheap ones and find that more expensive brands, like the kind found on www.reef.com, are well worth the money because they last longer and provide more support. Another bonus is that the companies that sell better-made sandals tend to stick behind their products more than, discount stores. Here's a tip: sandals that match your skin color tend to make your legs look longer, so most of my sandals are light brown to match my mildly-tanned skin.



Recently, I ordered a pair of Reef's thong flip flops (see photograph above). They have padded leather and provide arch and heel support. That support is essential for me because if I'm on my feet for most of the day, they ache and at my age, I don't need any more aches and pains! The rubber outsole of the Reef Tahoe means I don't slip on the wet patio after my daughter has been in the sprinklers.


Since I need two pair of sandals for the season, I also have a pair from last year that resemble Reef's Movement thong sandals . Models like this are built for maximum mobility, the type a parent needs at an amusement or water park. They protect against germs (and if, like us, your family has had plantar warts, you are very aware of this!) and provide arch support.





For some interesting reading about sandals, visit:


As I type this, I am acutely aware of my sandal-wearing feet. I can wiggle my toes and see my home-done pedicure. My feet are not boxed into shoes, encased in boots, or confined by socks. They are cool, free, and happy. And when my feet are happy, I am happy. You can choose to celebrate Summer's warm weather. Me? I'll celebrate sandals!

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Thanks for reading!  Join me on "Is It Hot In Here?" Menopause, Motherhood & More  and don't forget to follow me on Twitter.  


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

6 Games For Pool Fun When You Can't Use Toys

 
 
 
 
 
My town has two great pools, but the kids are not allowed to bring toys into the large, main pool. After they've place Marco Polo ad nauseum, they sometimes run out of games to play. So here are six alternatives:

  1. Fetch (2 or more players) – Now, toys are not allowed, but goggles and hair accessories are. So one way we get around the rules is to use common permitted items that the kids can dive for, such as goggles (we even keep broken ones for this purpose), hair scrunchies, bracelets, etc. You throw one item and see which kid brings it to the surface first. Note: this can be played with one player if she competes against herself. To do this, time the player and see if she can beat her time in retrieving the object. 
  2. Water Leapfrog (4 to 8 players) – Divide players into two teams. Each team is on opposite ends of the pool, standing in chest-high water with their legs spread apart. The last player has to dive and swim through the legs of his teammates and spread his legs. Then the next player goes. The team that reaches the other side of the pool first wins. 
  3. What Time Is It Mr. Fox (3 or more players) – This is a variation of a game my son learned in preschool and it's awesome! One person is designated Mr. Fox and stands at the end of the pool while the rest of the players are on the other side. The kids call out, “What time is it Mr. Fox?” Then Mr. Fox says a time and the kids swim that number of strokes toward him. This goes on until Mr. Fox calls out, “Midnight!” Then all the kids swim back to the starting line while Mr. Fox tries to tag one. If Mr. Fox succeeds, that kid becomes the new Mr. Fox. 
  4. Contests (2 or more players) – Which kid can dive into the pool: the furthest from the edge, make the smallest/largest splash, can do the funniest dive, can jump the highest into the pool, etc.
  5. Sharks & Minnows (3 or more players) – One person is the Shark and stands in the deep end of the pool while the other players are on the side. The Shark yells “lunchtime” and the players standing on the side of the pool have 30 seconds to swim to the other side of the pool without being tagged. Anyone who is tagged has to join with the Shark and try to tag the remaining player(s). This goes on until either all of the kids are bored with playing or everyone has been tagged. 
  6. Freeze (3 or more players) – Players gather in the shallow end of the pool with adults or bigger kids on their knees. Players define the physical boundaries of the game so that everyone can stand up. One person is It. At the signal, It has one minute to tag as many other players as possible. Once tagged, a player has to stand “frozen” and raise his hand. Before a frozen player can return to play, an unfrozen player must thaw him out by diving under water and swimming through his legs. A player can't be tagged as frozen while they're under water. At the end of the minute, count how many people It has frozen. Then choose another player to be It. Keep going until everyone gets a turn being It. The winner is the person who has frozen the most people while they were It.

Not being able to have have toys in the pool makes playing games hard, but not impossible. Use the activities above and challenge your kids to come up with even more variations of games they play on the playground. This Summer, like all, is unique. Enjoy it! 
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Gearing Up For Summer

  

Please note that while I was compensated for writing this post, all opinions and stories are mine.   

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The kids are finally done with school. “Yeah” and “Oh my God!” While they're both going to half-day camp this summer, there's still a lot of days to fill (I counted – there are 77). Fortunately, we live in an area with tons of stuff to do outside. I may not be the most athletic or fit mom around, but I try.

Now, I've never camped but this year, we plan on spending at least one night in the backyard. But when I went pricing tents at our local Dick's Sporting Goods and Modell's, I had sticker-shock. Fortunately, there's a website called The Clymb that has outdoor equipment like camping gear, cycling equipment, etc., at bargain prices. They had a tent called The Lynx 4 which looks pretty simple to set up and even has a vestibule (?!) for extra storage. Even if we find out that camping isn't for us, The Lynx 4 will remain set up in the backyard for a few days because I think it would be a fun little place for my daughter and her friends to play in.  

We also like to go cycling as a family. It's a great way to see many of the sights we bypass too quickly when we're traveling by car. Cycling, whether locally or on vacation, is great fun as well as fantastic exercise. We chat while we're pedaling along and it's a wonderful way to catch up with my high school-bound teen who is too often so immersed in video that I forget what his face looks like. When we bicycle locally, my husband does not have a bike, so he runs alongside us and the kids have great fun “racing” their dad.

With the beach a scant 90 minutes away, we try to get down there every few weeks, more for my mental health than a family love for it. My daughter spends hours digging in the sand while hubby and son play football further up on the beach. One piece of equipment I think is essential is a yoga mat which is heavier than a blanket and cleans up far easier. It also provides a little cushion from the hot sand. That, combined with a cooler packed with water and ice pops as well as snacks, sunglasses and sunscreen make for a wonderful mini-vacation.

Between those mini-adventures, some day trips, camp, hanging out with friends at the pool and our upcoming vacation to Pennsylvania, my kids should have lots to talk about when they return to school in the Fall. These 77 days will fly by, filled with summer memories that will last a lifetime. There's lots to do. Let's get to it!

The Lynx 4 Tent - Looks like fun, right?