Nardini Family “Vacation”

I’m calling it a vacation but full disclosure, it was just a weekend away.

If you have littles, or maybe you have bigs now but you definitely had littles at some point, I’m sure you’ve been through exactly what I’m about to write. Save yourself some time and keep scrolling?

I’m sheepishly embarrassed to admit that this past weekend was THE FIRST TIME my little nuclear family unit went away – just us. No grandparents or friends or extended family. Luca is 4…is that pathetic? Maybe don’t answer that?

I think part of the reason we haven’t yet is because it’s a lot of work. At least when you have family or friends to travel with or to travel and go see, you’re all in it together and there’s more hands on deck. Since Luca was born we’ve done plenty of trips, don’t get me wrong, just not “just us”. I’ve simply been the type to prefer to save money, avoid the hassle, and just be a homebody.

It was great. We picked a place to explore that we haven’t been before – Ogunquit, Maine. Fall weekend, gorgeous weather. Even got one day of an “Indian Summer”. Great food (mostly), amazing hotel vibe in a pristine location. Couldn’t have asked for anything more, seriously. I’ve got instagram-worthy pics to show for it:

But like, there’s sooo much more that goes on behind the scenes.

First, let’s talk about the drive up on day one. “I want to leave as soon as we all wake up. It’s supposed to be gorgeous weather tomorrow, I don’t want to waste the day driving” I said. Ok, well that would have meant that I actually packed and prepared our family the night before. Instead I woke up at the crack of dawn and ran around scrambling to get us out the door and in the car by 9:30am. Not bad, we’ll be there by 12:30pm. We casually hit our first traffic blip – stop and go on 495. “Oh, my coworker said this highway’s the worst” he said. Great, thanks for the advance notice. Not only did we hit stop and go traffic the rest of the way, but we had to stop for lunch, stop for potty, and then stop for potty again (because a bruise didn’t have to poop when we stopped 20 minutes before). Soo we got there at 2:30pm. At least it wasn’t a waste of an entire day? Salvaged it all by spending the afternoon at the beach and coming back to the hotel for the kids to swim in the pool while the adults got drinks from the pool bar. Perfect.

Next let’s talk about night one. Ordered to-go food from a well-recommended local Mexican place and had fish tacos on the lawn at the hotel (which happens to be a cliff overlooking the entire beach) listening to live music while the kids ran around. Perfect. We get the kids back to the room, and bedtime goes surprisingly very well – everyone goes to sleep like normal and hubs and I head out to the patio attached to our room to have a nightcap and listen to the live music that’s still playing. Perfect. So something’s gotta be not perfect, right? Right. I go to bed around 10pm but get promptly woken up around 11:30pm with raging stomach pains. And by raging I mean unbearable-oh-my-goodness-this-is-more-than-a-hangover. Spent the better part of the next 5 hours in the bathroom, and if I wasn’t actually puking or the other way, you know, then I was sitting there in fetal position unable to move. Fish tacos. Luckily, I lulled myself back to bed and finally fell asleep around 4:30am and was able to snooze until the kids wake up around 6:30am. Still wasn’t feeling great, but light years better than how I was feeling 2 hours earlier.

Now we’ll talk about day two. Thankfully, I was feeling well enough that I wasn’t stuck in bed or miserable trying to explore this fantastic new place. I mustered the energy, courage, and positive mindset to not let the exhaustion from sickness and no sleep ruin my day, and I am grateful. Because we had a day. Walked a mile down the cliff path to another quaint little downtown to get breakfast, hubs took the boys to the toy store while Tessa took a cat nap back at the room, then ventured out in search of sweatshirts for the fam. Then back to the quaint little downtown from breakfast in search of a lobster roll. Found it at a place called Oarweed. I knew it was a calculated risk gambling on seafood again, but it was one I was willing to take. One of the main reasons we wanted to come to Maine. The lobster roll was delish but I definitely paid for it. Judging by fish tacos the night before, and the lobster roll after, I’m guessing it wasn’t just bad luck but I may be onto a new seafood sensitivity? Favorite food. Great. Still rebounded like a champ. Came back to the hotel room and the WHOLE FAMILY took a nap. Luca hasn’t napped in two years. It was glorious! The rest of the day was mostly just bruises being bruises and the bow being a bow. The boys stripped out of their clothes (because, you know, who wears clothes these days anyways?) and paraded around the room naked eating snacks playing hide and seek for a while before we ordered pizza and ice cream for dinner. (All thoughts of dinner out were out the window since I didn’t trust my digestive system.) Remember the instagram-worthy pics from before? Well, these are the reality-worthy pics (and I wish I got more of these because these don’t do it justice):

Night two went off without any climactic hitches (sorry if you were waiting for one). It was too cold to sit out on the porch after the kids went to bed, so it came back to bite us that we were all sharing just one hotel room. Hubs and I basically laid in the dark on our phones so we wouldn’t wake the kids. I was exhausted, so it was fine. We won’t talk about my 9pm snack of cheddar chips and Spindrift seltzer sitting on the bathroom floor (after I cleaned and sanitized it) because it was the only “safe zone” where I could snack in peace without the fear of waking any sleeping child. Other than that, only real thing that happened is, for whatever reason, Tessa sneezed at 4:30am and woke herself up, didn’t go back to sleep, and thus woke everybody else up. I guess there are worse things in the world than an early wake up call. So we made the best of it, caught the sunrise real quick, and hopped in the car to beat the rain home. Home by 10am meant I still had the day to unpack, debrief, and get the house back in order before returning to work tomorrow.

Haha. I guess there really weren’t too many cliche taking-kids-on-a-vacation stories. Maybe those of you who kept scrolling missed out. It was mostly just some mom-moments because I couldn’t steer clear of the seafood and am a functional zombie when operating on no sleep. (But hey, at least I was a happy functional zombie this time around?) And some family-of-five-sharing-a-single-hotel-room stories in which the bruises prefered to be naked most of the time. (But hey, what 4 and 2 year old boys don’t get a kick out of being naked all the time?)

Would I do it again? For sure, 100 percent, without a doubt. The boys. The boys especially. They will be talking about going on vacation to a hotel for years. They will be talking about swimming at the hotel pool for years. They’ll be talking about sleeping in a hotel bed for years. They’ll be talking about picking out toys from the toy store…till we go to the next toy store. Worth it? Worth it!

This one goes out to the…

  • Single moms/dads/caretakers
  • SAHMs/SAHDs with partners who work 24/7
  • Moms or Dads whose partners travel for work all the time
  • Military moms/military dads
  • Anyone else who spends days and nights on their own caring for kids
  • Parents and families who live long distances from other immediate family members and support systems

I put this picture up on my Instagram stories last night as a half-joke because my husband’s been on a (one night, one point five day) golf trip this weekend. And I captioned it “Dad’s away for a golf weekend we’re fine I swear.”

In reality, he will have been gone for a total of about 28 hours. Kind of pathetic for me to complain. But whenever he goes away it feels like an eternity. So behind this half-joke picture is a mom whose anxiety is through-the-roof high.

…whose spending the entire time watching the clock and coaching the seconds to tick by just a little faster…

…whose setting the tiniest goals for her own sanity (just make it to nap time, just make it to bedtime)…

…whose engaging in the great mental debate of whether or not to spend the 45 minutes getting the kids ready to leave the house and get out for a bit vs. staying home to avoid all aspects of the real world so no one has to see my single-parenting…

…whose sleeping with all lights inside and outside the house on and the TV on, and actually not really sleeping at all because of the fear of being alone in the house overnight with the kids…

…whose chewing off all of her cuticles and putting bandaids on bloody fingers because it’s the epitome of the manifestation of her anxiety…

Literally my world stops and time stands still because of how much anxiety I have doing this on my own. I am SO grateful that most of the time I get to do this life with my best friend, the greatest dad, and the handiest helper. So I suppose it’s SUPER selfish of me to throw a tantrum when he asks to get away for a little bit, or when he works late nights and has meetings leaving me to handle dinner and bedtime on my own.

I’m not quite sure my whole point in all of this but I think there are a few. First, behind every happy photo or what looks like a put-together mom could be something entirely different. I try not to judge or compare; I know we are all doing our best. And second, I think it’s important to normalize NOT being ok all the time, admitting when you need help (usually I’m the first to call in grandparent reinforcements, it just so happened that this weekend all grandparents were busy!), or letting go of things that aren’t going your way.

And, lastly, I try my best to put mind over matter and keep the most positive outlook, to enjoy the QT with my QTs, to not be afraid of leaving the house because I know it’s better to be out and about playing and interacting with others rather than hiding in my own safe-haven of a home going stir crazy and allowing myself to dwell in my anxiety. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it goes poorly. But the thing is, it ALWAYS goes. I try and find peace in that.

Bottom line, SO. MUCH. RESPECT. for the people who do this all the dang time. And if that’s you, I hear you and I see you and I feel you. You are a freaking superhero!

The Saga of Family Photos

What it takes to (semi?) coordinate a 4 year old, 2 year old, 8 month old, and a skeptical husband…

I’ve been itching to do family photos for a while now. The last time we did them (which honestly wasn’t that long ago) was Tessa’s newborn photos. But I feel like those are a little different than normal family photos because Tessa was still a blob, and we were a barely-functional new family of 5. We didn’t have the time or energy to put much into them, so we snapped a few and called it a day. I tried a little harder this time around, but let me tell you, it is still no easy feat to get this family through a 1 hour session of family photos.

Jen Morrissey, ladies and gents! She’s awesome, and a really great friend!

I have to start planting the seed with my husband MONTHS in advance. He can be SUCH a grump, so I have to grease the wheels wayyy ahead of time. And originally, I planned a sunset shoot for today (Sunday). Once I had organized it with my photographer (who doubles as my real life friend – what a treat!), I had to text her and say, “OMG Mike will murder me if I make him do family photos in the middle of football Sunday”. So we switched it to a sunrise shoot. He wasn’t too happy about that either but, hey, at least it wasn’t during football.

As it crept closer, I had to start priming him (yes, still referring to the husband). Priming him usually includes trading him a round of golf for a pleasant demeanor DURING the shoot. We’ve spent plenty of family photo shoots bickering aimlessly as we try to get non-smiley kids to smile. It just so happens that yesterday my brother in law asked him to join him in Asbury Park for a golf weekend next weekend. THAT was my ticket in! “Sure babe you can go golfing next weekend IF you promise to be a good sport for pictures tomorrow!”

Now that I had the husband hooked, it was time to focus on the kids. Remember the photographer, my friend, Jen? Listen to this brilliance she sent me last night (and I quote): “Tell the boys and Tessa about Wendy. She’s my friend who lives in my camera, and she whispers to me when she’s so happy with what she sees. And she tells me to tell you when they’ve done an amazing job and should get treats. And if they look hard enough with big enough smiles into the camera they may see her bouncing around. But most of the time she’s shy so she just gives out treats.” Seriously?! GENIUS!!

I exacerbated the Wendy story and decided to tell the kids that Wendy was, in fact, Santa’s special camera helper AND that she’s friends with Elfie (our Elf on the Shelf). So not only would Wendy be magically bringing treats if the bruises smiled hard enough, but she would report back to both Santa and Elfie and their Christmas would depend on it. Too mean of me? NAHHH.

Click any of the photos in this post to be taken to her website.

The other thing I told them to hopefully gain their cooperation was that we were going to a farm to take photos. This hooked Dominic, but what I didn’t tell him was that it was NOT an animal farm. Because every farm in his eyes has animals. I knew I only had a certain amount of time once we got there before he realized there were no animals so I was banking on the Wendy thing to come through.

So now we’re at the shoot, and the first thing we realize is Tessa pooped on the drive there. But her outfit is too complicated to try and change her in the middle of a field, so ehh we’ll just manage the shoot with a stinky poop in her diaper no biggie. (And I forgot to mention that, of course, on the day of family photos she wakes up with a booger eye all red and swollen and crusty…great!)

And we’re pulling out alllll the Wendy stops. Luca is so curious about Wendy, he keeps walking as close to the camera as possible to see if he can get a glimpse of Wendy, and is posing like a cute little boy left and right. I quickly realize 4 years old is the PERFECT age for photos.

Tessa is pretty cooperative too. All she needs is Mommy in her foresight and she’s all smiles…booger eye and all.

Meanwhile Dominic is over it after the first 3 snaps. Here comes whiney, vocal-fry Dom just asking when Wendy was going to bring treats. He’s not only over it, he’s legit ignoring it. We get the whole family into position and he’s purposely turning the other way, picking his nose, or putting his hands over his eyes.

CT-based photographer but also just stellar human.

So in comes the 3/5ths rule. 3/5ths rule means we can NEVER wait till all 5 of us are photo ready, because it will NEVER happen. Instead, wait until 3/5ths of us are ready and do the best we can. And actually, today, I’d say we hit 4/5ths the majority of the time so I’d call that a win. This is also the reason we can’t just rely on posed photos all of the time. By the end, we just told the boys to run around in the field while Jen snapped photos because the more movement for them, the happier they’d be, and the less annoyed with the camera they’d be.

And it wasn’t until the end that Dominic finally said, “But Mommy this is NOT a farm!” To which I responded. “Aw man, I’m sorry you didn’t like the farm I picked out this time. I’ll pick a better one next time.” And you know what? That response miraculously did not cause a meltdown, he simply shrugged it off and said, “Ok Mommy!”

Mid-shoot, Wendy magically dropped off airheads and rock candy, and one little taste and the boys knew exactly what to do. Luca’s so smart, he would take one picture, ask for a piece of a treat, then take another, ask for another treat (to which we obliged) and so on. He definitely got the most out of Wendy’s treats, and by 9am the bruises were so hopped up on sugar they were running in circles.

Yup, all of this before 9am. And then off to bagels, comfy clothes, and a relaxing football Sunday at home.

Plus, she sent some unedited sneak peaks (in this post!) a few hours later…and they made it all very worth it. I can not wait to see the rest!! ❤

Just Say No

We live a pretty active lifestyle. No, not in terms of exercise (I wish!…still haven’t found my groove after baby 3), but by staying busy. Yeah, the pandemic has caused us to adjust. Still, we like to get outside and do things and go places. We ARE homebodies, but we have trouble staying home/indoors because that’s when the bruises go nuts, the bow gets clingy, and this mama gets fed up, anxious, and antsy. (Notice hubby didn’t get mentioned – I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him stressed out a day in his life. It’s like his body and mind do not know stress. I wish so desperately this could be me!)

But staying busy also forces me to be more aware of and accept the fact that I need to say no sometimes.

It’s Labor Day weekend. The perfect weekend for one last hurrah or one last summer weekend getaway, right?

We said no to this weekend. We said no to Cape Cod (sorry Nardos!), we said no to Block Island (sorry Lex – miss you so much!), and we’ll probably say no to anything else that comes up…By “we” I mean “I” but my husband is pretty supportive and usually lets me call the shots (again, no stress, go-with-the-flow). We even got into a silly argument because it’s my birthday this weekend and he kept asking me what I wanted to do for it. And all I wanted to do is NOT HAVE TO DO ANYTHING FOR IT AT ALL. I didn’t want to be the one to make decisions for once.

After the chaos of this past week getting the kids back into their school and daycare routines and the bananas start to a new school year, I knew my body and my mind just needed a break. I wanted to have normal Friday pizza night with a side of s’mores at the fire pit. I wanted to wake up in my own bed at no specific time. I wanted to not care what my kids dressed themselves in each morning (let’s be real..Dominic will probably run around naked all weekend anyway). I wanted to finally be able to wage war on the chipmunks (don’t worry, I don’t plan on harming them) who keep eating the tomatoes from our garden. I wanted to sit on the deck and drink my coffee while the bow got her normal morning nap and the hubby took the bruises to the grocery store (side note: first time taking the kids back into the grocery story since the pandemic and I feel weird about it). I wanted to do dishes and laundry on Saturday morning so that I’d feel somewhat organized and have my sh*t together, and therefore enjoy a relaxing rest of the weekend. So that’s what we did and that’s what we’re doing.

We’ll drive down to the CT shore tomorrow for a little taste of the beach. But a day trip was about all I could handle in terms of plans. While my social media and group texts will probably be flooded with the traditional last of the seasons – beach days, camping trips, cocktail hours, girls’ nights, and big nights out – I’ll be content with my little family nestled up at our house with nothing to do.

I think it’s really important to feel like it’s ok to say no sometimes! Social media forces these absurd expectations on us – like we have to go out and get the perfect pictures every day just to stay alive. That’s not reality, and I’m most happy in the small, simple moments of my life. So that’s what I’m toasting to this weekend. Whether you have big plans or small plans, I hope you remember to do the same!

We said no to this weekend, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Happy Labor Day weekend, y’all, and remember to take care of yourself!

Where are all these emotions coming from?!

(Part 2) First Day of School Night

What in the holy heck was that? Literally I blinked and it’s 9pm. I’m pretty sure I blacked out today, not from alcohol or any other inappropriate activity. But from stress and adrenaline. Is that even a thing? I guess it was a good thing that I was out-of-my-mind busy while at work, because it didn’t leave me any time to FEEL the feelings I had last night.

She did, they did, we did.

She did great. Well, my standard of great. If you read my post yesterday or know all about my chronic diva problems (to be fair, they aren’t problems…) with Tessa; you’d know I really wasn’t sure how she’d do at her first day of daycare. I was right about a number of things. Nope she didn’t take a bottle. I swear she’s actually sarcastic about it. Miss Darcy said she sat there and played with the bottle nipple and spit it back at her nonchalantly. Yep she had a few episodes of stranger danger/mama attachment issues resulting in uncontrollable crying fits. At least she came out of them ok after either crying herself to sleep or Miss Darcy distracting her with some of her solid foods. BUT after all that, I showed up at pick-up and my bow was happily playing with her toes sitting in a stroller watching the older kids play outside. She locked eyes and immediately burst into wide mouthed smiles and reached her arms out to snuggle. In that moment, my mama heart exploded and I knew she’d be ok in all the days to come (even though I’m a little nervous she’ll try to make up for her lack of bottle drinking all day by nursing all night long tonight…).

They did great. The oldest bruise got a special day of exploring with Gammy since he doesn’t go back to school until Wednesday. He hiked and explored and snacked and even went swimming decked out in sweatpants and a t-shirt (no swimmies, no problem). The youngest bruise was abnormally shy and had two pee accidents, but no poo accidents (WIN!) and no biting or hitting episodes (WIN!). He greeted me at pick-up by running to me waving and yelling “Hiiiiii Mommy!!!” And he was so excited to carry his own backpack to the car and get home and tell Luca and Daddy all about his new friends Quinn and Colby and his old friend Ellie that he hasn’t seen since March.

Sooo we did great because they did great. No, it wasn’t perfect, but it was still great in my book. My terribly stressful day really didn’t matter anymore and was promptly in the rearview mirror once I snuggled my bow and played with my bruises at home again, back where I belong.

Here’s to doing it all over again tomorrow!

Where are all these emotions coming from?!

(Part 1) Back to School Eve

It was a weirdddd weekend for me. I’m usually not the emotional type, but I’ve somehow caught myself in unusual emotional moments the past 3 days, and to be honest it blindsided me.

But then I realized it.

First, we made it through 2 weeks of quarantine as of this Friday, of which the first 7 days we were convinced our kids (and probably us too) had COVID and I swam in mom guilt. They were showing symptoms, and one of my kids had confirmed positive exposure so we thought it was a done deal. After several agonizing days of waiting for 3 kids’ test results to come back, all were negative. Really relieving, but at the same time we were hoping these mild cold symptoms were all it would be if it actually did hit us. So a little disappointing in that sense?

Second, the second 7 days of a quarantine were official back to work days for me, except I had to do it all remote instead of in person because of this quarantine. You’d think it’d be a silver lining to have 7 extra days home with the kids. But by Thursday and Friday of this past week, I was in back to back to back meetings from 8am till 5pm daily with a four year old, two year old, and almost eight month old basically fending for themselves. We survived, but it was hell.

Third, I’m realizing now that it’s been since March 13th with my little family unit. I’ve watched my four year old turn into a little independent human. HE actually taught ME how to play a board game this weekend. One that I didn’t even know he knew how to play. I’ve watched my two year old become the wild one with big feelings that I’m pretty sure he’ll always be. I’ve watched my newborn infant turn into a baby girl full of sass and zest and playfulness.

Months of us all together, all the time. Though hard at times, it’s been precious, and we’ll probably never get anything like this back again, at least when the kids are this little (unless of course, the COVID situation goes to sh*t again and we’re back in stay at home orders). Now it’s about to end, and we have to try to get back into some sense of normal. After spending months figuring out what our new normal was.

Fourth, I’m about to leave Tessa after an unexpected almost eight months of being my little baby kangaroo, attached to my hip all the time. If this year was normal I would have left her after three months. But it’s been eight! A lucky eight, for sure, and I’m so grateful for the extra time. But it’s making this normally rational, normally logical, normally put together mama extra emotional. Add that to the fact that she still doesn’t take a bottle and cries when she’s with other people. You know. I’m feeling….good about it? Nah not really.

I know there are so many other parents who have already transitioned back to work or back to school or back to whatever their normal was before COVID. I know it can’t stay this way forever.

We’ll do it though. Tomorrow will come and go and we’ll survive it. I’ll probably look at pictures all day long and text my husband wondering how everyone’s doing. We’ll do it though. Tomorrow will come and go and we’ll survive it. I probably won’t cry but I will worry and I will watch the clock go by minute by minute. We’ll do it though. Tomorrow will come and go and we’ll survive it.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Check back tomorrow for part 2. Cross all your fingers and sleep with your pjs inside out for me please!

Boy Toys: Cars and Dinos and Blocks…Oh My!

Ok so I have to admit I have a major case of third child syndrome. Don’t know if that’s a thing, but we definitely had/have second child syndrome with Dominic, so poor Tessa doesn’t even stand a chance.

I did everything to a T for that first child, followed ALL the rules. Kept up with all the cleaning protocols, didn’t use a single product that wasn’t all natural. Talked to the pediatrician before trying anything new and talked to the pediatrician about every little worry or question that creeped into my mind. You know the drill. Back then, Whole Foods was my jam; now I consider it a weekly win if I make it down the organic or all-natural aisle in Stop & Shop. (For the record, Whole Foods is still my jam, there just isn’t one close enough to me right now for me to consider it a worthwhile trip.)

Second child meant the 5 second rule turned into the 60 second rule, we no longer carried the high chair/shopping cart cover with us everywhere we went, and Welch’s fruit snacks vs. Annie’s bunnies = same difference. Ditched the Babyganics shampoo and body wash for good ole-fashioned Johnson’s baby shampoo and body wash because it just smells so damn good.

You get the picture, let me cut right to it. This poor girl lives out her days playing with toy cars, dinosaurs, legos, and trucks. I wish I could say it is because I’m ignoring gender norms and raising this bow to shatter all the glass ceilings. That would be noble of me- and philosophically the beliefs and values I want to and try to instill in all my kids align with this. You better believe I want her to shatter ALL the glass ceilings. But this was just serendipity I suppose – causal result of laziness on my part.

I was talking to my mom about it – feeling guilty I don’t really have any feminine (girly?) play things for her. She made a good point. She said, “That’s not true all your baby toys are gender neutral, you just don’t bother to actually take them out.” New Year’s Resolution 1: make an effort to take out the baby toys more often (I’m allowed to make a New Year’s Resolution in August because I’m a teacher so technically my New Year starts at the end of the month.).

I thought about it more; it’s still kind of weighing on me. On one hand, there is zero reason I need to add any more crap to the already-overflowing playroom we have. But I do sort of have big girl dreams to be able to play dress up with my girl, to watch her play with a doll house, to see her take care of her baby dolls. Or at least let her have the option of choosing this (because I know if she chooses diggers over dolls or dinos over dress up, I’m totally fine with that too – believe it or not I was the BIGGEST tom-boy athlete growing up!). And if this is the case – to even give her the option to choose what toys she wants to play with – then I need to drastically overhaul the playroom. It is head-to-toe all things BOY right now. Time to make way for girl! New Year’s Resolution 2: Clean, purge, clear out (not a bad excuse to do this!).

No need for me to rush into buying all playthings girl right now, she’s still too young for it to matter. But thinking about Christmas and her birthday in January, I’m going to need all the ideas from all the girl moms out there. What’s the best girly gift for a one year old? Is there even one? Or is it really completely gender neutral until the toddler years? Do I just wait till she’s old enough to realize what she wants and wait for her to ask for it? Would love for you to drop me a comment below or follow me on Instagram to give me your insights!

Insta handle is Bruisesbowsandbooks. See ya there!

WFH

I had every intention of doing a Books post today. Lot’s to share about toddlers and emerging writers. It’ll have to wait until tomorrow because this is how my morning went trying to work from home to prep curriculum for the start of the school year. I could tell the morning was going to sh*t so for the first two photos, I happened to set my phone up in the corner and pop the self-timer on. The other photo was a result of me hearing my 2 year old excitedly sing, “Giddy up, giddy up, giddy up, up, up!” from the kitchen prompting me to wonder what he was riding.

(Please note: No animal was harmed in the making of this photo, I quickly yelled for him to get off the dog once I was able to snap the picture.)

Let’s play Where’s Waldo? Or seek and find. Whatever you want to call it.

1 point for spotting the stressed out teacher mama on a work zoom meeting in the middle of summer.

1 point for spotting the dog, who came to the playroom to check us out for all of 2 seconds before this happened. Haven’t seen him the rest of the day.

1 point for spotting the bruise who thinks it’s funny to ride the dog.

1 point for spotting the jumping bruise who knows exactly how to quietly break the rules when Mommy steps out for a second.

1 point for spotting the chalkboard that lists the daily routine we should be following but haven’t been following for the past 3 months.

3 points for spotting the caffeine – mom juice in my book.

3 points for watching the video below, in case you wanted more perspective on my day.

3 points for spotting the Hurricane Isaias forecast, hence canceling oldest kid’s day camp for the day and confining all kids indoors for the day – this mama’s worst nightmare. (At least at this very moment we still have power!)

25 points for spotting the perfectly behaved bow (or the baby monitor that shows she is sleeping upstairs like the angel that she is).

100 bonus points for counting the number of toys this mama will NOT clean up today, but probably step on or stare at until one of the bruises decides to actually take me seriously and actually clean up.

250 bonus points for posting a picture of your WFH situation in your IG or FB stories and tagging bruisesbowsandbooks!

An additional 500 points if your WFH situation trumps mine.

109309890345094385 bonus points for telling me this is a productive and efficient work environment, and that it’s possible to work from home and carry out your job responsibilities well while simultaneously parenting young children.

Who wins? Would love to see your point values below. Honor system! And go give your fellow working mamas a hug or a shoulder to cry on, knowing this is what they are experiencing daily. Heck, go give your fellow SAHMs a hug or shoulder to cry on, too!

Daycare Haul

Everyone knows teachers absolutely dread August 1. It’s August scaries. Think Sunday scaries but for teachers about to start a new school year. And now think about it THIS year. August 1 came and passed like a faint blip on the radar this weekend for most people, but you better believe that for teachers it sounded the alarm. This is real, and we are going back to school very soon, one way or another.

But for me, August 1 didn’t just trigger the August scaries. My mind started to go bonkers about what my own kids are going to do when Mommy goes back to work. We haven’t decided a thing yet. In fact, our daycare provider for Dominic and Tessa hasn’t even announced whether or not she’s opening in the fall. I can’t even begin to think about it without feeling like I want to puke. There is no good decision. But these first two paragraphs are really just anxiety-driven ramblings that are better suited for a different blog post entirely.

SO.

My way of maintaining my sanity is by approaching things like normal: at the end of the month Tessa is going to start daycare for the first time ever. And if you’re anything like me, daycare requires its own wardrobe, because nothing ever comes home looking the same as how it left. Because Tessa hasn’t ever been to daycare, it’s time for me to start building her daycare wardrobe – basics that I don’t really care if she ruins or not. I’m also more flexible and don’t care as much about colors or patterns or prints with daycare clothes.

Today I escaped for three hours by myself and it was glorious. I hit up Old Navy (love the ruffle butt leggings!) and Gap (love the bubble shorts!) because they have huge sales going on right now – or so this is what I told my husband. They always have huge sales going on so someday this excuse isn’t going to fly anymore….but until then…. I built a shopping cart online first, and if I found it in-store, I deleted it from my shopping cart on my app. I was mostly in search of onesies, shorts, and pants that are easy to mix and match and will be (1) comfortable for my bow while she’s away from her parents all day and (2) easy for Miss Darcy to undress/dress for diaper changes or other accidents. Here’s my haul.

The warm weather haul was decent. I didn’t do as well with my cold-weather haul. I was actually a little surprised that everything was still mostly summer season – my guess is it’ll change over to fall very soon (online already has lots of fall new arrivals). Also, is it weird that for cold-weather clothes for bows I prefer sets (tops and bottoms) rather than one-pieces? With the bruises I was all about one-pieces and always found lots of cute ones. They don’t seem as feminine to me for some reason. Maybe I just haven’t found ones my style yet.

Once I come home I always spread it out to inspect (admire?!) like in the photo above. Did I double up on colors accidentally? Did I grab the right size? Is it REALLY something she needed? I make my return pile and the rest immediately gets de-tagged and de-stickered to go right down in the wash. Once it’s all washed they go into the daycare drawers. Yes, her dresser will now be split into two sides: daycare clothes and fancy clothes. There’s not really much fancy to the fancy clothes, just clothes I prefer she doesn’t wear to daycare so she doesn’t ruin them.

Now that you’ve read half a page of writing about what goes on in my brain when I’m on a mission shopping for something (I’m split between whether or not this is actually interesting for you to read or if this was just a waste of a post), I do have some questions.

If your kiddos go to daycare, do you just have one big wardrobe and think I’m way too anal retentive and need to loosen up a little bit? If you do, does your kid come home in clean clothes and really I just have sloppy kiddos? Or do you split your kids’ wardrobes up and send them in different clothes to daycare than you would to…I don’t know…some place where your kid would be in fancy clothes? And I really need your help with this bow thing. If you’re a #girlmom, do you send your baby to daycare wearing a bow? I’m really struggling with this one. Part of me thinks it’s silly and not practical…like Miss Darcy would totally roll her eyeballs at me and take it off immediately once I leave, because what childcare provider wants to deal with that? And the other part of me can’t contain my obsession – I’ll just send her in her bow because she’s my daughter and I’ll do what I want and I’ll tell Miss Darcy she can take it off whenever she wants if it gets in the way. Would love to know your thoughts so drop a comment below!

Bruises, Bows, and the Beach Part 2: All the Help

Short and sweet. This one’s going to be short and sweet.

Yesterday, I wrote about the goods and the gear — all the things I usually pack for a day at the beach with two toddlers and a baby. One of the essential items on my itemized list was ALL THE HELP YOU CAN GET. I still haven’t figured out how to actively supervise all three kiddos around water, especially when Tessa is nursing. She’s a sleepy nurser who doesn’t like a lot of movement or interruption so I’m usually pretty stationary if she’s eating. And if you have a two year old like mine – who doesn’t listen to a damn thing you say, ever – you can’t afford stationary at the beach.

So, we enlist. We enlist anybody and everybody who wants to help. But really this post is a special shout out to the usual suspects. Our help crew runs deep, and we’ve gotten pretty darn systematic about it. So even though I may not get to ‘relax’ the entire time at the beach, I’m usually able to steal at least a few minutes…all because of our handy helpers.

Between Nana, Papa, Auntie Ally, Uncle Pauly, Uncle Nic, Auntie Lindsay, Gammy, Popsy, and the occasional Uncle Dave, we’ve got it made. The boys are usually a tag team, so as long as one adult is willing to go in the water, catch hermit crabs, build sandcastles, or catch shrimpies, then we’re good. Initially at the beginning of the summer Tessa was a little fussy at the beach – lots of stimulation and she wasn’t sitting up yet so she didn’t like not being able to see what’s going on. So if she was awake, we’d have one adult on her. Recently, she’s stronger sitting up and is easily distracted by just sitting directly in the sand so as long as someone’s in the vicinity, we’re totally good. That usually leaves 1 or 2 of us out of the rotation, effectively allowing us to take shifts. Inevitably, the person who is off-shift ends up being the drink runner (adult drinks, that is). But amidst drink runs, that lucky one gets to park it for a few minutes and maybe, just maybe, close their eyes or read a book or sit in peace and quiet. And then the shift changes and we do it all over again.

Ultimately, though, we’re SO dang lucky. We’re so lucky we have family that happily agrees to tag along with us, even when deep down they know a day at the beach with kids our age is no easy feat. I imagine every time a Cape weekend or a WT day comes to an end, all the helpers silently and secretly cheers to our departure so they can go back to their calm, quiet, luxurious day. So if any of my immediate family has made it this far in my post and are still reading, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for sticking those (not-so-relaxing, crazy, hectic, exhausting, sweaty…) beach days out. It means the world to my kids, and means the world to me too. ❤