The Mess

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The Mess. Not just a mess, but The Mess, capital T, capital M; it’s an entity, a living, breathing, multiplying son-of-a-gun that lives at my house. I’m convinced that The Mess follows parents home from the hospital upon the arrival of that first kid and then IT NEVER LEAVES!

Before kids, I realized that having a baby would obviously lead to having baby stuff in my house. I had accepted the fact that there would be some toys, preferably cute, modern, minimalist-looking wooden toys from some fancy boutique, sprinkled in various parts of my house. I imagined that there would be a few delicate, organic-cotton baby swaddling blankets ever-so-gently draped over the couch arms, or the back of a chair. And, there might even be a picture book or two on my nightstand, left there after a pleasant night of reading to my kids as they so sweetly dozed off to dreamland. Ahh yes, parenthood, motherhood would be a dream!

And then, all at once, that beautiful baby comes home and all. hell. breaks. loose! Those beautiful all-natural, wooden toys, you realize are boring and babies don’t like them, plus they’re ridiculously expensive. Not worth it. It took me weeks to finally find a Sophie the Giraffe baby teether toy and I was SO excited to finally get one! I ripped it open, gave it a little rinse, handed it to my teething baby, certain that it was going to just make her smile from ear to ear! And then I realized, uhhhhh…it’s basically a dog toy. A super cute, super expensive, squeak toy that drove the dogs nuts, but did absolutely nothing for the baby. Fantastic. Those swaddle blankets really are amazing and a total godsend, but there’s like a million of them. I swear baby blankets multiply at night. Plus, my kid was notorious for diaper blowouts and, I don’t know, that beautiful organic cotton blanket, draped on the chair, looses just a tad of its beauty when it’s covered in baby poop. Call me crazy.

Suddenly, there were toys everywhere! Books everywhere! And don’t even get me started on the mounds, nay, mountains of friggin’ baby clothes, both clean, and dirty that constantly grew higher and higher. And the toys were not beautiful wooden toys. They were big, loud, plastic and obnoxious! I remember the feeling of elation that came when my daughter had finally outgrown the damn Jumparoo and I could finally get that huge hunk of lights and noise out of my house. The Mess knows no boundaries. You can find it in any room, anytime and it’s stubborn and persistent. If it feels like you’ve finally got a hold on it, BOOM the lid goes flying off the baby’s sippy cup and the bag of goldfish takes a spill on the carpet and The Mess wins again.

It’s now been over 4 years since the day The Mess arrived in my home and 1 year since my daughter got a sister and The Mess became twice as strong. There are days when I get up, look around my room, and there’s The Mess, it’s taken the shape of stuffed dogs and blankets, shoes and laundry, all over my room. Then, I’ll walk to the bathroom, and there it is again! The dirty clothes on the floor, instead of in the hamper, the bath toys that have magically managed to find their way out of the tub and the mound of sparkly toothpaste that has somehow ended up on the faucet handles…damn you The Mess! In the kitchen, it takes the form of dishes in the sink and whatever was on the floor, that has now found its way into the hands and eventually the mouth of my 1 year-old. Thank you so much The Mess.

It drives me crazy! I hate seeing the clutter and The Mess. There are days when I feel like I’m shoveling snow during a snowstorm trying to contain and clean up The Mess, but as soon as I get one corner fixed, all hell has broken loose at the other end of the room at the hands of missy mess 1 and missy mess 2! It’s so easy to get so frustrated and irritated and just plain mad. I don’t want to live in a messy house and I don’t want my kids to think its okay to constantly make messes; I want my house to look pretty damnit! is that really too much to ask?!

And then, it hit me. I was focusing so much time and energy on trying to constantly clean up messes, that I was missing out on the joy and fun that my kids found in making those messes in the first place. Yes, there were 27 books on the floor, but it was because missy mess 1 had been “reading,” both to herself and then to her sister. Yes, every single princess doll was out and on the floor, but it was because little missy mess had finally figured out how to make the music come on in the castle and big sister was showing her how each princess played a different song. And sure, every plate, cup, saucer, fork, knife and spoon of the play-kitchen was all over the floor of my kitchen, along with a puddle of water, but it was because they had just had an impromptu tea party, one that I had been invited to, but declined because I “had to finish cleaning.”

Who am i kidding? I’ll never “finish” cleaning. And in the meantime, I’m missing these moments, moments that I will never get back because the reality is that big sister will start kindergarten in one year and that will be the end of having these lazy, messy mornings with my two girls. And soon after, little sister will start school and then, yes, for a few hours in the morning I’m sure my house will be clean and free of The Mess, but it will mean that my 100% uninterrupted, unstructured, unscheduled and purely free-time with my babies will be gone. Poof! Gone forever. They will no longer be babies. In many ways, they are no longer babies now.

So, I’ve decided, from now on, I’m just going to embrace The Mess. Maybe not like full-on BFF status, of course I still need some kind of order, but I will appreciate it for what it is, proof that my kids are happy, healthy, imaginative and blissfully normal kids who build Lego towers and finger-paint at their tea parties. And who knows, maybe, if I play my cards right, I may even get invited to the next one except this time, I will most definitely accept!

Crumbs in the bed!?!

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There’s nothing worse than crumbs in the bed. Well, actually, there are a whole lot of things that are way worse than crumbs in the bed; gangrene comes to mind, or the smell of vitamins…yeek, both way worse… but, I digress. “No crumbs in my bed!” has actually become a recurring mantra in my house, which I guess is why I have lately been finding Cheerios in between my sheets and under my pillows. See, what I fail to remember on pretty much a daily basis, is that 4 year olds take what you say very literally. Their minds have not yet been graced with the ability to infer things in the same way that we adults would sometimes like them to. So, when I say “no crumbs in the bed,” the mind of a 4 year old says, “Well, it’s a good thing Cheerios don’t leave crumbs!” I’m not kidding. When asked about the “no crumbs” rule, upon finding a nice little mound of Cheerios on my bed, my kid’s response was, “They’re not crumbs, they’re Cheerios.” Hmmmm…she was right though, wasn’t she?

It’s true, 4 year olds don’t think the way adults do. They can’t read more or less into what we say, or don’t say, and they can’t always make the assumptions that we would make. And sometimes, it’s frustrating as hell! But, at the same time, THANK GOD kids don’t think the way we do. Yes, they do take everything we say literally. This means that when I tell my 4 year old that I love her and her sister more than anything else in this world, she believes that. She doesn’t question it. She doesn’t doubt it. It’s true because I said it’s true and right now, at the age of 4, that’s all the proof she needs. When I tell her that she looks beautiful when she has just dressed herself, in her purple tutu and the black and yellow bee tights that she wore for Halloween two years ago, she believes me and says, “Thanks!” because if I’m saying it, then it must be true, because I am her mom, and, duh, I know everything!

I was a kid once, much to her surprise. More importantly, I was a teenager once. So I know that this won’t last forever. I know that there will come a day, when no matter how often or how hard I try to tell her that she is beautiful, or that she is smart, or that she is absolutely perfect just the way she is, she won’t believe me. I know that the day will come when someone else’s opinions will be valued far more than mine and when my opinion will not only mean less, but will actually devalue things and rob them of their coolness. I also know that that will only be a phase and that eventually, a corner will be turned and I will regain my position as the all-knowing best friend and confidant. I know all this because I’ve done this before, I’m just playing a different role this time.

But today, she is 4. Today, she not only hears me when I tell her that I love her and that I am proud of her for being such an awesome kid, but she believes me. Today, she believes that as long as I say so, everything will be good in her world because I said so and today, it was. God, I want to be 4 again!

So, for now, when I see the Cheerios and, heaven forbid, the crumbs in my bed, it will remind me that she’s right, and she is listening and following the rules; Cheerios are not crumbs. And, crumbs in the bed are definitely not the worst thing in the world.

My good morning mess

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This corner is usually the first thing I see when I wake up since it sits right across from my bed. I’d love to say that it always looks this nice and clutter-free, and that it’s a perfect start to my morning, but sadly, no. The reality is that the chair is usually hidden under a mound of clothes, blankets, Barbies and books. And also, my kid broke that lamp once when she was trying to “help” turn it on, so now it has to be plugged in and out in order to work. So to recap, books, Barbies, broken lamp. Awesome. But, the books are usually there because that’s where we sat to read them the night before. My kids are growing up faster than I could ever imagine they would so I’m going to enjoy having them climb into my lap and asking me to read them “just one more book,” while I still can. And the Barbies are there because they still like playing in my room and want to be everywhere I am. I know that before I know it, they will be begging for their independence so for now, I’ll relish the Barbie shows that happen in my room because it means that my kids still want to be be with me. As for the piles of clothes waiting to be folded or put away, there’s no sugar coating that!

Day 1

For the past 4 years, I’ve been an avid reader of blogs. It started out as something to do while I nursed my baby, or while I was trying to fall asleep, but eventually turned into a daily thing, a check-in on the happenings in the lives of these people who in reality were strangers, but in a weird way felt like friends. The truth is, I love “pretty.” Pretty things, pretty rooms, pretty clothes; I love it all and blogs were a constant source of both eye-candy and inspiration.

When Pinterest started, it was amazing! It was all the “pretty” I could possibly ever want, all the time, literally at my fingertips…awesome! I pinned everything I possibly could, and as a long-time categorizing junkie, came up with boards for just about every aspect of my life: home design, DIY, kids stuff, teacher stuff, great recipes to try (I don’t cook), stuff to sew (I can sew a straight line, but that’s about it), funny stuff, stuff my husband didn’t know he’d be DIYing, birthday party stuff, stuff for Christmas, and at least 10 other categories. I then started to finally do something with all these pins and quickly realized that just because you pin it, sure as hell doesn’t mean you can do it! I have about a dozen started projects that seemed so awesome when I started them, but after a few hours, began looking like the work of a four year old, so off they were, banished to the finish-later-pile.

But, after a while, 4 years later, I’m realizing the downside of the constant stream of pretty that I immerse myself in on a daily basis. I have come to realize that no matter how much “pretty” I pin, no matter how many rugs I buy, no matter how many fiddle leaf fig trees and tiny succulents I struggle to keep alive, my home, my life, will never be a magazine. Now, this is a notion that I fought for a long time. I was completely convinced that my house would finally be perfect if I just changed the wall color, or that I would finally be so organized if I just bought that new basket. In the past 5 years I’ve gone through about four different beds, so many different bedding sets that I’ve lost count, at least 3 different rugs and so many other things that I bought thinking that IT was going to be the thing to finally make my house “rise up to greet me,” as Oprah and the amazing Nate Berkus told me it should. But, clearly, it didn’t work. In the end, I’ve spent money on things I didn’t need, or that didn’t “work” in the way I envisioned they would, I’ve spent countless hours working on projects that, really, had no point other than it was something to pass the time, and, most importantly, I’ve spent hours on end looking at all the things that are wrong with my house, instead of enjoying the many things that are right. I want to change this and that’s the point of this blog, to start looking for, noticing and appreciating the “pretty” that I live with on a daily basis.

I don’t live in a magazine, but, no one does. Those pictures we see are nothing more that beautifully staged, perfectly styled smoke and mirrors, or crops and filters…see what I did there?!

I love Instagram mostly because of the way it can take a regular “meh” photo and turn it into something much more interesting and appealing once it’s been cropped and a filter has been added. So, here’s my plan: each day, I am going to photograph one thing that I find beautiful in all the chaos that comes from living in my home, a home that is often run by two kids under the age of 5, and 3 dogs that think they’re human, and that is more often than not strewn with blocks, crayons, goldfish crackers and Cheerios. I will take that picture, crop out all the rogue puzzle pieces, legos and cracker crumbs, add a filter and post the pretty-fied vignette. Somedays, it may be something as simple as a cute baby shoe, which cropped and filtered will look so sweet, while the reality is that it’s sitting right in the middle of the living room and that its pair is actually nowhere to be found; crops and filters vs. reality. My goal is to remind myself at least once a day, hopefully more, that although my house is not gracing the pages of my favorite glossy magazine, there is beauty to be found in every corner of it.