Monday, March 28, 2011

Terms of Endearment

This past weekend, I had to go away with just my little Lily flower. Ella stayed with Don for the weekend. When we came back, distance had definitely made the heart grow fonder, especially for Ella. She was so mushy and lovey and sweet. She missed her baby sister most of all. She started calling Lily some of the sweetest names imaginable. Here are a few of my favorites;

Little chubby cheeks
Sweetie lovie girl
scrunchy squirrel
little smushy marshmallow

I missed my little Ella so much, but she had the best weekend ever with her Daddy. I got to soak up some one-on-one Lily time, which is so rare to come by. I definitely recommend doing this with your littles ones. Trips away with one child, so you and your spouse can enjoy the kids individually. As nice as it was to have Lily to myself, it just feels so right to have my whole cozy crew back together.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Tonight we had a version of Jamie Oliver's "Dark Sticky Stew" with red bliss mashed potatoes. This is a Murphy family staple, so simple and so delish. We ran out of salad fixings, so I improvised tonight. I was inspired by my sister-in-law's strawberry salad. I took mixed mesclun greens, thinly cut strawberries, coconut, chopped almonds and aged balsamic dressing; the girls ate it up. I think it will definitely become a staple on the Murphy family menu.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hurry up, Grow up

This weekend was especially busy for me. Traveling to see family, needing to be in ten places at once, I found it hard to catch my breath. I noticed myself leaning on my 3 year old, Ella to do the things that I would normally do for her. She has always been independent and has wanted to flex her wings at every corner. This time, I was letting her. She just learned to potty train in November, but now I was letting her get on the potty, wipe and wash her hands all by herself. I had to ask myself, was I doing this because it was what is best for her, or me? It certainly freed up a good chunk of my day not having to rush back and forth to the bathroom. I started to look at other areas that this was happening. Putting her shoes on, getting herself a snack, feeding her sister yogurt or asking her to check on her baby sister. Am I making her grow up too fast? Is this what you have to do to your oldest child when other littles ones come along?

I am the oldest sibling in my family. Five years older than my brother and eleven years older than my sister. When my brother was born, he was like my little doll. I wanted to play with him all the time. When my sister was born, I felt like she was mine. My real baby. I was accustomed to babysitting and caring for my siblings at a young age. I feel like this is where my care-taker side comes from. I know that it helped shape me into the Mommy I am today, but it was also at times a lot of pressure.

I've decided to try to be more cognizant of my expectations of Ella. I also want to make sure that my daughter stays as young as possible, for as long as possible.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Last night for dinner we had homemade tomato sauce with slow cooked pork and rope pasta. A nice salad and french bread. The girls ate all their dinner and Don took them to give them a bath. Ella started asking for "something special" almost immediately after dinner was over. I didn't have anything in the house that I could remotely consider a treat. I decided to cut into some fresh pineapple and get creative. She closed her eyes and when she opened them, she had heart shaped pineapple pieces with all natural pink sprinkles in front of her. She gasped, beamed from ear to ear and skipped away with her treat. She yelled, "Thank you Mommy." Get creative tonight, it doesn't always have to be cookies ice cream. Any creative dessert ideas out there?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chasing Sleep

I was inspired to write this post by a friend who has an 11 month old, who is still waking up 3-4 times every night to nurse. She is at her wits end. She is exhausted and drained. It is effecting her day to day. She is such a caring and loving Mom who doesn't want to traumatize her little cutie by letting her scream it out. I say scream baby scream.

When Ella was 9 months old and still getting up multiple times per night to eat, I knew something had to give. I had let this behavior go on way too long. I was advised by a Mommy friend and nurse to go cold turkey. Stop any and all night feedings and night visits. I was told it would take three nights. My hubby and I committed to making it happen, then my three nights of misery ensued. Three nights of pure, screaming hell out of my little one who I couldn't bare to let scream even for a minute before now. The fourth night - SILENCE. Sweet serenity. From that point on Ella was a terrific sleeper. My saving grace was a video monitor. It allowed me to peak in on my girl, without having to disrupt her. It also allowed me to let her scream for those three nights, with the peace of mind that I knew she was safe and ok in her bed. It was my life line.

My little Lily, who is now almost 10 months old has been sleeping through the night since she was 2 weeks old. This is a total fluke, I have no explanation. I parented them both the same, but my Lily has just always been a great sleeper. So what makes the difference between a restless sleeper and a sound one? In my opinion, it's just their make-up. It's all about what makes them tick. So if your little one isn't born a perfect sleeper, try the three nights of hell and hopefully you and your bundle will sleep like a baby for all the nights that follow.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Tonight, my hubby is out with some old college friends. He stopped home to change and picked up a mushroom pizza from our favorite pizza shop. The girls ate happily, we played outside and then bath and bed. Tonight I read them stories in Ella's bed together. Ella held Lily's bottle as Lily patted her on her cheek. I wanted to take a picture, but I didn't move in fear of ruining this perfect moment. Don just called and I told him about our night. He said he was jealous I got to have such a sweet time without him. He is out partying, yet he was jealous of my time with the girls. I married the right guy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

High Point / Low Point

Today we tried out a suggestion that Ella's teacher gave us to get the conversation flowing at the dinner table. She said that her family sits around the table every night and they discuss the high point and low point of their day. Her kids are in middle school and high school and they started this when they were little and still do it every night.

We always ask Ella about her day, but I never thought to incorporate all of us in this way. It was really great to hear what a 3 year old thinks is her low point. Don went first, his low point was having to leave for work, his high point was coming home to us. Ella went next, her high point was seeing the horses at the Ecology Center, her low point was that we didn't paint today. It made me want to bust out the paints and forget all about dinner. I never want her to have a low point. My low point was having Ella wake up with an itchy rash on her legs, my high point was playing in the backyard as a family listening to Irish music and drinking a beer with my hubby.

The reflection helped us talk about our day in a fun way. This is a tradition I plan on starting to use every night. Anyone have any other fun traditions they use to get their little/big ones to talk around the dinner table?

Mantra Moment - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Tonight of course we had corned beef and cabbage with potatoes, carrots and spicy brown mustard. Don and I washed it all down with Blue Point Blueberry Beer. Ella hopped up to the table and pointed to the corned beef and asked, "Is this bacon?" Don and I looked at each other, knowing that her favorite food on the planet is bacon, we both answered, "Yes." We felt bad lying but she happily dug in and started eating no questions asked. That is until she got to the cabbage. She poked the cabbage around asking what the soggy leafy green was. We told her it was cabbage, just like her favorite food cole slaw is made out of. I know its bizarre that a 3 year old loves cole slaw, but she really really does. So does her Dad, maybe that has something to do with it. As soon as she heard that cabbage was what cole slaw was made out of she started calling it cole slaw and ate it up happily. So while Don, Lily and I had corned beef and cabbage, Ella was eating "bacon" and "cole slaw."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Great Mom or Great Housewife...pick one

Today the laundry was piled high, the dishes were pouring out the sink and the dust bunnies were plotting a riot. All the while I was sitting on the floor playing Chutes and Ladders and putting together a 50 piece puzzle with Ella. My little Ella has pink eye and an ear infection. I wanted to give her a little extra love and attention to cheer her up. So I ignored my 'housewife" duties and focused solely on my Mommy duties.

I find it very hard to be both a great Mom and great housekeeper everyday always. I feel like some days, the floors are spotless and dinner is prepped, but Ella has had to watch her fair share of Barney for me to get this far along. There are the days like today, where we play dress up and work on our letters and numbers and I squint to try not to see the mess piling up around us. On these particular days, its a mad dash at nap time for me to clean like crazy and get dinner prepped.

Im working on ways to find the balance. I try to incorporate Ella into my cleaning or cooking regime. Handing her a wet rag and a broom is such a game to her. It creates more work for me than it does help, but it keeps her occupied. Lily, my 9 month old is another story. She is crawling and pulling herself up on everything. I really cant get much done unless she is in the high chair.

I have a great Mommy friend who inspires me so much. She is the queen of prep. She preps her daughter's clothes for the week, preps dinners the night before, preps her week; so it flows smoothly and effortlessly. I'm working on it.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

I made an interesting dinner tonight. It was a desperate search to make whatever I could find, since we came back from a long hike and were starving. Sweet potato gnocchi in a white wine and butter sauce with chicken, sweet peas, parisian carrots and red onions. It was a one pot dish thrown together in 20 minutes. It came out so yummy! The girls were happy, Hubby was happy. Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Is it strange that before writing this blog, the Rocky theme song started playing in my head? The motivating uplifting theme song to one of my husband's favorite movies is playing as I write. I had such a motivating moment this weekend, and again just now. So motivating, I decided to share it. So here is a little back story.

Over two years ago my husband, Don had a BBQ with some old college friends. Ella was only maybe 6 months old. This is the funnest bunch of guys you have ever met. A group with more inside jokes than I can ever learn about, or care to. A group who have stayed connected and bonded even though college days are long behind them. As cool as the guys are, the guys wives' are just as cool. Most have been parents for a lot longer than Don and I. Some however were just starting their families. One of the wives in particular has always stood out to me as a cool chic. Fun and easy going. She was pregnant and expecting a baby in a few months. She seemed a bit nervous. I had no doubt she would be a great Mom, but I felt compelled to calm the nerves. I dont have much recollection of this exchange, but apparently I told her - "J dont worry, as long as you and your hubby make this baby a part of your life and keep doing the things you love, it will all fall into place."

Moving to present day, this past weekend, I saw this Mom "J" who now has a happy, beautiful 2 and a half year old little boy. She looked at me and very seriously recounted to me what I said to her at that BBQ. She told me that when her son was colicky and not sleeping, she thought about what I told her and it helped her pull through. I was stunned. I honestly thought my husband had put her up to boosting my ego. "J" then told me that I would be writing a book by October. A dream of mine is to write a book. It was the exact motivation I needed to keep going with this blog. I've had a few haters, only a few, but a few can sometimes be enough to squash a dream. Not this time.

After starting my blog last week, Ive had over 800 hits from all around the Country and even the world. Mommies as far away as India, Iran and the Netherlands have been reading. Today the Mom, "J" emailed me some more motivating words. She said "Thanks for doing this for all the Moms out there." So Im going to keep going, thanks Momma "J"!

I wanted to write this to say to those who have had children, don't preach the negative to our expecting Mommies out there. Be uplifting and inspiring - keep your delivery experiences to yourself. That is unless you pushed 3 times and had no pain, than please share away. You never know how long your words might last in a new Mommy's mind. Also remember like everything else in life, every experience is unique to those who go through it, so why taint it with negativity?

When I was pregnant I had the most absurd things said to me, I still remember every person who said them to me. Here are some of my favorites;
"Your face has changed" -Co-worker
"You're HUGE!" - Lady at the check out counter of King Kullen
"Oh, you think this is bad, labor is the worst!"-By the nurse as she put my IV in my arm in the delivery room.
"You are going to use drugs, why? Why would you do that?" - Our 60 year old waitress after she asked me a million questions about my birth plan. I proceeded to tell her that I am using drugs because it isnt the year 1880 and I dont have to bite a stick and squat in the woods, I have a choice. Believe it or not, this did not stop the onslaught of negative comments.

Some great words of wisdom were shared as well. Mostly from my Mom, who constantly reassured and affirmed that I would be a great Mom and that instinct would come into play. Thanks Mom.

Mommy Mantra - Make you kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life."

Tonight I made chicken Pad Thai with eggplant and mushrooms. It was a big hit - it was gobbled up completely. The girls went to bed with happy full bellies. Now Im about to have ice cream. Sometimes Mom needs "something special" too.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Conspiracy Against Parents.

Daylight savings time is a cruel evil trick that was created to test parents and torture us. As soon as we get our kids into a schedule, napping and heading to bed at 8pm sharp - bam! A giant curve ball is thrown at us.

I'm too tired to write, too tired to parent and too tired to try to morph my girls' schedule to get them to bed and napping on time. As a Mom who prides herself in getting her kids to sleep, this is especially tough. I've come to rely on naps and bedtime as my ME time. Once you get used to ME time, its like an addiction - you gotta have it.

I know this fatigue will wear off and the confusion will level off with the girls schedules within a week or so - but in the meantime, I want someone to blame for my suffering - Thanks a lot Benjamin Franklin, thanks a lot.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Tonight for dinner we had homemade bolognese sauce with spaghetti, salad and fresh sourdough bread. The girls love spaghetti, so this was an easy meal. They especially love tomatoes. I bought a new bottle of Raspberry vinaigrette today, so Ella's salad went down without a fight. The cutest thing that Ella does at dinner time, is when dinner is over. She asks to be excused from the table and then turns and says with the biggest smile you can imagine "Can I have something special?" If we say yes, which we try not to do every night, but if we do, she says "Do I have to close my eyes?" She then proceeds to get down on the floor, face down and cover her eyes until we bring out her dessert. Some nights its fresh fruit with a little whip cream and sprinkles, some nights it might be cookies from the bakery or ice cream. Whatever the dessert she keeps her eyes closed until we tell her its ready. She opens them and gasps - every time. If I could I would give her dessert 20 times a day just to get this experience more often. It makes me melt.

Friday, March 11, 2011

You know its going to be a great day when...

My little Lily flower woke up happy and sweet, no surprise here - she often wakes up cooing and giggling. Ella woke up asking when she was going to see her friends. She knew it was Friday, play date day, the best day of the week. I'll get to that in a minute though.

Ella likes to help me change Lily's diaper. She climbs up on the chair next to my changing table and talks baby talk to Lily while Im changing her. As often happens, Lily twists and contorts her body to try to make eye contact with Ella. She wants so badly to be with her all the time. I was getting frustrated because it was getting very hard to change Lily with all this squirming. I snapped at Ella - "Ella please give Lily a little space." Ella looked up at me with the saddest pound puppy eyes and said "But Mommy I just love her." Insert me melting to floor in a puddle of sweet gooey happiness. This is why you have kids, moments like this. Honest pure moments that you want to lock away in a vault and let out anytime you lose sight of that happiness. I knew it was going to be a great day.

Friday is always play date day. I have this group of amazing women/moms and we get together every single Friday. We have done this since the kids were 4 and 5 months old, they are now all over 3 years old. We met at Gymboree Music and Play class. It started small, going over to the coffee shop after class and feeding the babies their bottles or nursing. It was a group of 10 women with 10 babies, we are now a group of 13 women with over 25 kids and counting. Every week we rotate houses or play date venues. These women have become like family - watching their children grow has been amazing. Ella has been given the strongest social base possible because of this group. She LOVES her friends.

If I can suggest one thing to new Moms - when your first child is born really put yourself out there and try to meet other Moms who have children your baby's age. It will make your long days seem much shorter and give you a built in sounding board who can relate entirely.

The play date started at 11am. The girls played, ate, danced, sang and enjoyed being with their friends. I enjoyed the company of my friends, ones who can relate first hand to every single thing I go through every day. We returned home at 3pm, I tucked them in for a cozy nap and they slept peacefully for over two hours. Play date day always equals a long nap, which gives me the much needed time I need to clean, relax and recharge.

Mommy Mantra - "Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life."
-Don cooked a yummy meal tonight. Steak with onions, homemade cheddar mashed potatoes, parisian carrots and romaine salad. This is a direct quote from Don to Ella - "Ella no more lettuce until you have some steak." Lily seemed to be a fan of the lettuce too.
Lily Bunny

Right now, Im enjoying a good Malbec with some dark chocolate and watching Old School with my cozy hubby- great end to a great day.
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Heaven = Decaf Coffee and House Decor Magazines

Today was another long one. Lily is getting her bottom two teeth and overall is not her happy go-lucky self. Ella was in "super ask question mode" today. I felt like I was on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and I was using all my life lines. Forget the show Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?, today I did not feel smarter than my 3 year old. I'm chalking it up to that time of the month (sorry if TMI) and Mommy brain, but my brain felt like mush today.

My hubby came home from work in a great mood, grabbed a beer and dove right into Daddy mode. I should have been excited for family time. All I wanted to do was drop on the couch and never move again. Instead, I made a yummy dinner in the dutch oven - a combo Emeril / Tyler Florence meal. Chicken thighs, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions in a yummy broth with roasted potatoes. I think I'm actually getting good as this cooking thing. Im starting to enjoy it. While I cooked, the girls and my hubby, Don played so cutely. At one point Don had beer in hand wearing a princess hat and making funny sounds to make the girls laugh - still I was not snapping out of my funk. Maybe its the rain, the "stuck in the house most of the day" feeling - winter doldrums. Not sure, but it wasn't going away.

We finished dinner, we had to press Ella to eat tonight, she wasn't feeling dinner. Once she had made enough yuck faces, and had "tried" everything on her plate she asked to be excused and we happily let her get down, if just for a moment of peace.

While I did the dishes Don gave Lily her bottle and put her to bed - a routine I hate to give up. Even though I get to feed her almost every bottle and up until 4 weeks ago I was nursing and he had no participation whatsoever, I still hate missing even one feeding. I gave this one to him tonight, he had earned it. He was the "happy full of fun" parent tonight and I felt like I had a cloud hanging over me.

As soon as Lily was down, Ella was on us like white on rice. At least it felt like that to me. I told Don I needed to go buy envelopes; yes envelopes in the pouring - disgusting rain. He said he would put her to bed. I gave her a big squeeze and kiss and headed out the door. As I left I popped back in and said, I might stop at Barnes and Noble - he nodded, seeing I needed a break.

I got the envelopes and beelined for B&N. I got a Grande decaf latte and picked up the best house decor and cooking magazines I could find. I curled up on a comfy chair and completely relaxed. I felt the day dripping off me. I think this is going to become a weekly routine.

How do you take time for yourself? How often?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Its official Im on twitter. Never been, all new to me. Im ready to take the world by if only I had any followers.

Eyelashes are overrated

Im so wiped today for some reason. Dragging all day long. To add insult to injury, I was trying to lay Lily down for her nap and she has this new obsession with eyes, touching them at every chance she gets. She is so gentle and sweet, softly touching my eye as I give her bottle. She starts touching my eyelashes and giggling. All of a sudden, the pain ooooo the pain! She grabbed my eyelashes with her little tiny pinchers and pulled with all her might! My little Lily Angel made my eye water and made me jump in pain. All the while she is giggling and giggling.

False eyelashes anyone?

Anyone ever suffer an injury in the line of duty? Parenthood duty...

Adding to my day - Ella and Lily had a frozen Whole Foods Pepperoni Pizza with Salad and Raspberry vinaigrette. No gourmet meals tonight - pizza, salad, milk - bed. I do have to say the Raspberry Vinaigrette by Annies got Ella to start eating salad - she calls it her raspberry sauce. She thinks she's getting away with something. If your little one wont touch the stuff, pour on the dressing!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Laurie Berkner vs. Natalie Merchant - or maybe both?

Car rides with toddlers can be ear splitting, nauseating and exhausting. Before Ella was born my husband and I went on a road trip with my husband's family. The kids are sweet, and so much fun to be around always - but were not lovers of the car. I sat in the way back of their mini van in the hot Florida heat sandwiched between two other people. Their 4 year old (hes 11 now) was not a fan of this car ride. He was crying, wailing, unhappy to his core. My brother-in-law, the master builder that he is jerry rigged a small TV between the two front seats. For 5 hours we heard and watched some version of Barney. It quieted that unhappy 4 year-old into a peaceful state, with dancing dinosaurs and strangely dressed pre-teens singing feel good songs. I locked this memory away and thought, my kids are going to listen to MY music. My car, no wait my house will definitely be a NO BARNEY zone. Oh, how I wish I was right.

Flash forward 7 years later to my 3 year old, Ella hopping in the car happily and then she lowers the boom -"I want Laurie Berkner Mommy". Today's version of dinosaur, much easier on the ears but still painful nonetheless.

How did I get here?
I was a lover of Pink Floyd, Dave Matthews Band, Guster, Dispatch, Jack Johnson, my list goes on. I was a music buff. Here is where my Mommy Mantra has to come into play. We take turns with the radio, I'll painfully sit through hearing the same songs a few times in a row and then I'll say Mommy's turn! Today I popped in my Mumford and Son's CD - amazing. I get half way through the song and I hear in the back - "Excuse me, my turn Mom!"
Ella's latest thing is to say excuse me 500 times, until you stop, make eye contact and really listen. Needless to say you can't do this while driving, so usually I cave and switch it back to one her her CDs. Not today, I really was in a groove. Then I heard it, "How about Natalie Merchant?"


I hear it again, "Excuse me Mom, how about Natalie Merchant?"
The clouds parted, the angels sang, I had done my job as a music buff. I had created a child with great taste in music! She then suggests "Slip sliding away"? (Paul Simon) I could not believe my ears. I switched on Natalie Merchant and looked in my rearview mirror as Ella sat back peacefully in her car seat. Na na na na na na na

Mommy Mantra Moment - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Im posting what my kids eat for dinner every night. I want to try to inspire people to think outside the box in feeding your kiddos. From when Ella was a tiny baby we fed her everything, basically we'd cook what we like to eat and chop it up. Tonight I tried my hand again at a Tyler Florence recipe - Chicken Francaise with roasted brussel sprouts and spaghetti. Ella ate more brussel sprouts than both my husband and I and I looked over to see Lily inhaling the yummy sprouts. Ella got ice cream again tonight - she was happy.

What works, works.

Im posting twice tonight. This one is short and sweet. I firmly believe that what works, works. This stlye of parenting is what works for me and my family to be happy - it wont work for everyone. At the end of the day if you have a happy family, thats all that matters.


Peace / Love and dont hate my blog.

Monday, March 7, 2011


My little Lily flower was sick today, so any plans we made went out the window. Instead while Lily napped periodically throughout the day Ella and I did crafts and played in the backyard. We were working on our alphabet and talking about what letters belong to what word. I had the Food Network on in the background, I was attempting to make Tyler Florence's Ultimate cooked whole fish recipe. My husband had DVRd it and was really looking forward to it for dinner. Let me preface this by saying, I am a novice cook - I only recently started cooking after I was laid off and officially became a SAHM. This meal was a stretch for me, but my hubby is an incredible cook, so the pressure was on.

Ella was looking down at the alphabet and was reciting P-P-P for Patrick. P-P-P for Penguin. P-P-P for Panchetta...exsqueeze me? I looked at her a bit confused and then I looked up at the TV and saw Tyler Florence placing Panchetta into the hot pan. I started laughing and said yes, exactly P for Panchetta.

Ella had Tyler Florence's stripped bass with escarole, zucchini and P-P-P Panchetta for dinner. She ate so much she got Reeses Pieces ice cream for dessert.

Mommy Mantra Moment - How to make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

How I found a moment for Me today? A good 'mommy' girlfriend called while both girls had a brief overlap in their naps. The double nap is something I consider myself a bit of an expert at. I usually get both of them to sleep at the same time in the afternoon for at least 1-2 hours...its a fluke I have no advice it just happened one day. I have tried to repeat it everyday since. Usually this time I spend cleaning, laundry, make appointments etc. Today I stopped cleaning, put down the laundry and sat on the couch and caught up with her. It felt so good to give my whole attention to to another Mom who took a minute out of her hectic day to call me to catch up. We got more accomplished in that 20 minute conversation than I do with most friends in a week. Im going to try to do that more, take a minute to really listen to a friend who calls rather than always rush, rush, rush, rush.

Im curious if any of you out there reading have your own Mommy Mantra, something that guides you in your parenting style, describes what kind of parent you are or hope to be. I would LOVE to hear them.  Thanks for all the amazing feedback and whoever you are out in Alaska reading, so cool!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Teacher's Pet

If you didn't think I was a proud parent from the last post, Im hitting it home tonight.

This week I had a parent-teacher conference with Ella's teacher from pre-school. I figured, how involved could this be, they barely speak, how can someone critique them already? I went into the conference brushing it off, this doesnt mean anything.

Who am I kidding, it means everything! Someone who isn't your family critiquing all your hard work, what could be better?

Miss L. gushed, called Ella her VERY student; Very bright, Very sweet, Very self-aware and Very social. I sat speechless. As parents do my husband and I have always marveled at her smarts and her wit - but it felt incredible to hear an "outsider" say it.

After speaking with Miss L, I walked out to find Ella, she looked up at me and smiled. I then reached into my bag and pulled out a lollipop the size of Ella's hand and gave it to her. Wide eyed she just stared at me - I told her she is my Very Very good girl and I am so proud of her everyday. She snatched the lollipop and swung her arms around me squeezing me so tight. She hopped away skipping. While I may not always get a rave review, I feel confidant that I am laying the ground work for a VERY good kid.

My mantra moment - "Make your kids an incredible Part of your life not your WHOLE life"-

Tonight for dinner Ella and Lily ate salmon, fresh greek salad with feta cheese, olives, hummus and eggplant dip (ok Ella poked the eggplant dip with her fork for awhile). They both gobbled up their entire plate happily. Getting your kids to eat EXACTLY what you eat is imperative. You dont want to be making different meals all day long. I never force feed, I encourage that every time they try everything on their plate at least once. Even if one night I make potatoes ( the bane of Ella's existence).  She will try them with the sheer look of disgust on her face - I often look away its too hard to watch. I always make her try them again the next time I make them. Try try try even if its one bite.

A stay at home Mom's how-to guide to making your kids part of your life, not you WHOLE life.

Comments from friends and family that inspired me to write this blog; 
"Your kids are so good"
"so well adjusted"
"how do you get them to sit through a whole meal?"
"When you put them to bed, they stay?"
"Lily ate artichokes, chicken and sundried tomatoes for dinner, wtf all my kid ate was frozen french fries straight from the freezer!"
"we are going to Disney and you are taking the kids to a bed and breakfast?"
"Just got back from Applebees again and you are coming back from a steakhouse with BOTH girls...(frustrated grunts)"

Can you hear me patting myself on the back??? I know this will come back to bite me when my girls are teenagers, but for right now, I bask in the glow of these kind words. 

I realized quickly that friends, family, strangers and pretty much anyone who has children seem to constantly bend to their every whim. This is what a good parent should do, right? Become selfless, start only going out to diners and family friendly chain restaurants, stop going on beach vacations and instead head straight to Disney. Im sure we will be heading to Disney in the near future - Im not knocking Disney, its a magical place and I cant wait to see it through Ella's eyes.  However we could easily take a luxury cruise and live like royalty for what we end up spending at 3 days in Disney. I digress.

A little intro to who I am. I have two young girls - Ella is 3 and Lily is 9 months. Im 27 years old and have been married for 5 years. Becoming a young mom 3 years ago I couldnt haven been more excited. When my friends who were still in the single, partying phase would say - "wow I can't even imagine becoming a parent right now." I would defensively adapt this tag line that morphed into a philosophy and ultimately a parenting style. This style seems to be a unique point of view, so I've observed.

Make your kids an incredible PART of your life not your WHOLE life.  - There it is, my mantra that guides me in being the best mom and family that we can be. 

Sounds much easier said than done. Basically I vowed not to stop doing the things my husband I love to do, but instead to incorporate our kids into our existing life. We are not going bar hopping until 5am, lounging on beaches whenever we feel like it and we certainly arent having 3 hour long dinners at the high end restaurants. Good food - thats where our money always goes. However, we are taking our kids to Vineyards, concerts, long hikes, Cafes and of course Restaurants known for one thing, good food - not the toy that comes at the end.

It may sound like I tote my child to do all the things I want to do and dont embrace the greatest part of parenthood - watching your children soak up something they truly love. I have done every Mommy and Me / Gymboree / My Gym / Music Together / Story Time etc. I constantly take my girls to The Library, Zoos and Nature Preserves. I try to keep things on a sliding scale - we may spend one day out at a vineyard playing and exploring, listening to good music and spending time with friends. The next day might be spent going to two birthday parties where face painting and music makes your head spin for hours, but thats parenthood. Its trying to find the balance between who you were and becoming the best FAMILY you can be. 

Stay tuned to hear my tips, advice, listen to my stories of failed mantra moments and come on this ever evolving journey of parenthood as I experience it first hand.