Sunday, September 21, 2014

20 Cupcake-Worthy Parenting Moments

Last week, my toddler woke up cranky.  I carried him to the car crying. As I strapped him into his carseat, he straightened his body like a board….this made things very difficult. How can such a little body be so strong? After parking, I carried him up the hill to my daughter’s school crying. 

We dropped her off.

He cried all the way back to the car and, again, refused to get into his car seat. Eventually, I got him strapped in. I turned on some Dora the Explorer songs and somewhere between “The Wheels on the Bus” and “BINGO,” he stopped crying.  

And then, he was happy. (Dora the Explorer, even though I hate dislike your songs, I owe you one!)

However, I was exhausted. When I got home, I ate a cupcake….a big one with strawberry frosting….because after that episode, I felt like I deserved it (First World Problems, I know).   

Here are a 20 other cupcake worthy parenting moments.  
  1. Your daughter uses half of your expensive wrinkle cream for a science experiment.
  2. Your toddler grabs a bag of powdered sugar and dumps it on the ground.
  3. Your oldest gives your youngest a hair cut.
  4. You get a call from the principal….
  5. Your child draws his/her self portrait….in non-washable crayon...on your newly painted walls.
  6. The doorbell rings. It’s your teen, and a police officer. 
  7. You hear Uh Oh I _____________________  (fill in the blank).
  8. Mommy/Daddy, I flushed a _______ down the toilet.  
  9. Your children are fighting over a toy.  There’s a lot of hair pulling and maybe even some biting going on.  
  10. Your toddler throws an epic tantrum… aisle 7 of the grocery store…..people are staring.    
  11. Your baby has not one, but two, diaper blowouts at the park.  You only brought one diaper and it’s a long walk home.
  12. Your toddler runs down the hallway, throws a giant paper towel wad down the toilet and flushes it.  You frantically grab the plunger as the water starts overflowing onto the floor.  
  13. Your son/daughter accidentally spills water all over  your brand new MacBook Pro. 
  14. Your baby woke up every hour on the hour last night.  
  15. You hear giggling and realize your preschooler has gotten into your makeup bag.  
  16. Your potty training toddler rips off his/her diaper and unleashes a giant, Niagara Falls pee on your carpet.
  17. You just got the baby down for a nap when the doorbell rings, your dogs start barking and your toddler decides now is a good time to press the car alarm button on your key ring….baby is now wide awake. 
  18. Your tween informs you that he/she has a project due on September 25.  It’s 6 o’clock on September 24.
  19. Your toddler screams the entire duration of your flight/ long car ride!
  20. You’re about to go out on a date! It’s been way too long. You bought a new dress and right before you’re about to leave your toddler runs over and wipes a combination of peanut butter and applesauce on you.  You change into whatever is clean and make sure to order dessert at the restaurant.

In my house, cupcake worthy moments are plentiful!  (This is why I don’t keep a lot of sweets in the house).

If you’ve had a cupcake-worthy parenting moment and you’re trying to cut back, consider some of the following healthier alternatives:
  • Chocolate Dipped Strawberries:  A couple of these sweet fruits will help satisfy your sweet tooth. Dip them in dark chocolate for extra antioxidants.
  • Kind Bars: I love Kind Bars. My favorite are the Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt. They only have 5 grams of sugar and plenty of protein. 
  • Grilled Pineapple Rings Drizzled with Honey:  I take canned pineapple and drain the juice. Then, I drizzle them with a little honey and olive oil. I grill them on the barbecue for a few minutes on each side. 
What’s your most cupcake (or cookie, chocolate, ice cream) worthy moment of the week? Do you have any tips for a healthier way to satisfy your sweet tooth when you feel stressed?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Shhhhh! Don’t Say a Word…...The Children are Playing Nicely

Have you ever looked at a Pottery Barn Kids catalog?  You know, the one where the kids are both drawing or reading books at a small white table. Typically, they are wearing perfect clothing with perfectly coiffed hair in a perfectly organized playroom. 

Right now, my kids look like that. Except my daughter has a spot of barbecue sauce on her shirt and slightly disheveled hair.... and my son’s only wearing a shirt and a diaper.  Oh, and my “playroom” consists of carpet, some wall art and a few plastic bins of toys.   It’s not really even a playroom but a room connected to my bedroom...but I’ll take it.   And, I don't have a white table; my kids are sitting on the ground.  

But.the point is that my kids are playing nicely and they have been for the past half an hour.  

When both of my kids are playing quietly, I won’t disturb them, unless there’s a natural disaster and we need to evacuate.  You see, there have been times when my kids were playing nicely and then I asked them a question. The question might have been something as simple as What are you drawing? or Do you want a snack? It might not even be a question. It might be a sudden movement like me going into the playroom to grab a stray sock to put in the washing machine.  

It’s these questions and movements that cause my kids to stop what they are doing, look at me, and suddenly want something.  Gone is the quiet time. Gone is the time to pay bills, check my email or just sit on my bed, undisturbed, for a few moments. Suddenly, my two-year-old is tugging at my shirt saying “Mommy I’m hungry.” Soon thereafter, my six-year-old wants me to play with her.  

It’s not as if I don’t want to play with them.  But, I don’t want to play with them  All. Day. Long.  I need a little space and so do they.  After all, I believe independent play is important.  It helps them develop a sense of autonomy. So, when they are both playing independently, I’ve learned not to disrupt them….at least, not for something trivial.  It’s during this independent play when their imagination comes alive.  They are able to create palaces from blocks and make their dolls talk.   

So yes, when the kids are playing nicely, when they are searching for bugs in the backyard or picking flowers or laughing at each other’s silliness…….I just like to sit back and watch.  Although it can be bittersweet when my kids don’t need me, I love watching their special moments and inside jokes that they are creating without me.   In my toddler’s own words, “All by myself.”  After all, before long they will probably be fighting over who gets the last red Lego for their building project!  

What sorts of independent activities do your children like to engage in?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Stop and Smell the Roses

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” - Kurt Vonnegut

Rose photo credit:
There are days when it takes us a little longer to get going in the morning. As a result, we end up rushing through breakfast and briskly walking up the hill towards my daughter’s school.  I don’t like rushing.  It stresses me out and prevents me from enjoying life and my family.  

The thing is I’m always moving.  Part of that has to do with the fact that I have two active kids, an even more active border collie, a tripod dog that has an affinity for eating paper, and a cat that will jump up and grab your sandwich if you leave it unattended.  Yet, part of it is me and the pressing feeling that something always needs to be done.  

There’s a spot on the floor that keeps staring at me.  
I have a deadline for an article.
I need to pull those weeds on my lawn.  
S’s reading log needs to be tallied and signed. 

Pretty soon, I've allowed my “to do” list to drive me crazy, to the point where I have trouble sitting down to watch the entire length of a movie.  I’m constantly making a mental “To Do” list and it’s never-ending.

Yet, lately, I’ve been trying to slow things down and take time to “stop and smell the roses.” This might mean stopping to watch the sun slowly slide down the sky or eat potato soup that has gently simmered to perfection.  And, when my daughter talks, I try to really look at her wide brown eyes, listen, and enjoy her candor.  And, when my toddler says he wants a hug, I stop what I’m doing and give him one.  As he wraps his arms around me and rests his head on my shoulder, for a little while, time seems to stop.  I nestle my nose in his hair, take in his sweet scent, and just enjoy the moment.

It's those small snippets of life, the ones that make our hearts skip a beat, that we need to stop and enjoy.  One of my favorite moments is watching my kids playing together in the backyard; I like to watch them invent games, splash in our "pool," and listen to their effervescent laughter rise upward like bubbles.  I wish I could put it in a bottle and save it forever.
I love English Roses. Their double blooms are breathtaking. We have several varieties in our yard. I’ve had them for so long that sometimes I forget to admire their beauty. Yet, my children haven't. They like to pick them and smell their sweet fragrance. It's actions like these that help remind me to embrace life to the fullest and appreciate all the small things! To do this, I need to slow down and take it all in.

Life can be hectic! How do you make time to appreciate the small things?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

5 Nice Things to Say to a New Mom

Recently, I said goodbye to the baby years.  However, those precious baby memories, are still fresh in my mind.  
I remember having my first child and how it completely changed my life. As a parent, each day is filled with joy, surprises and, often, exhaustion. Moms, especially new moms, can feel unattractive and fatigued. For some, there is pressure to be the perfect mom. Sometimes, people can make comments to moms that are thoughtless, intrusive or downright rude. We often hear about comments we shouldn't say to a new mother. However, here are some nice things you can say to a new mom.
You look great!
I'm sure there is a small percentage of women whose uterus shrinks back to normal a week after having a baby. However, for most of us, that isn't the case. It can be hard to still look pregnant after already having a baby. While you shouldn't lie to a new mom, you can point out the positive. You could mention that a mom's skin looks luminous (from all those prenatal vitamins). Of course, if a mom has lost the baby weight make sure to take notice.
Do you need anything?
I was thinking back to the days before I had children. Although I had a full-time job, most days I had time to work out, watch TV and eat dinner at a leisurely pace. Now, with two children, life is very hectic. When you have a brand new baby, it's hard for a new mom to find time to take a shower or clean the house. Stopping by (not uninvited) with some dinner or a package of diapers can make any new parent less frazzled. Your friend may not take you up on your offer but at least you extended the invitation.
I'm here for you.
Simply letting a mom know that you are there to listen or talk is helpful. Sometimes, new mothers feel emotional. For this reason, listen without trying to judge or belittle a person's experience.
What a __________ baby!
It's easy to find something nice to say about a baby. Those innocent eyes, sweet smile and tiny toes are just a miracle. What a beautiful baby! Your baby is so alert! Most parents don't tire from hearing compliments about their children.
You're a good mom!
There is no such thing as a perfect mom. However, most people I know try their hardest to be good parents. Even if I have a different parenting philosophy than some of my mom friends, I can appreciate their "super mommy" powers.
Don't make any of these comments unless they are genuine. And, if you can't think of something nice to say, don't say anything at all.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

The Liebster Award: Take Two

Lewis Lane Designs

A big thanks to Alana from Healthy Family Simple Budget and Kori from Just Another Mom for nominating me for the Liebster Award.  Please check out these two awesome parenting blogs that are full of great activities for kids, helpful tips and beautiful words.
Here’s how The Liebster Award works:

1.  Each person who is nominated should post 11 things about themselves.

2. You must also answer the questions that the tagger set for you in addition to creating 11 questions for the individuals you nominate to answer.

3. Nominate 5 – 11 of your favorite bloggers and link them in your post.  I don’t know a lot about the qualifications for The Liebster award.  However, I  have read that nominees are supposed to have no more than 200 followers. 

4. Visit  your nominees’ pages and inform them of your nomination.

5. Thank and link back to the person’s blog who nominated you.
I was nominated for the Liebster award another time.   Here’s that post, if you are interested!
Here are 11 interesting things about me:
1.  In high school, I helped decorate a float for the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena.  I applied moss to wolves.  The moss was stuck under my fingernails for days!

2.  I went to college at UCSD in La Jolla, California.  I used to go running down at Black’s Beach.  However, I didn’t realize it was a nude beach until I saw a few naked men running along the shore.  That was an interesting site. 

La Jolla      Photo Credit:
3.  I have been married for 11 years!  Marriage is hard work but so wonderful to be married to my best friend.

4.   I have two cats and two dogs.  I’m often vacuuming.

5.   I have a personal relationship with Jesus!  My favorite verse is Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
6.  Both of my kids have a stork mark on their forehead.  It is a small birthmark that fades as you get older.  How do I know this…... I had one too!

My Daughter (left) and my Son (right) © Melissa Matters
7.  I took Gospel Choir in college. It was a pass/fail class and a very fun way to get credits.
8.  My current favorite television programs are “Rookie Blue” and “Parenthood.”  Confession time: I also watch “Pretty Little Liars.”

9.  Splash Mountain is my favorite ride at Disneyland.    

10.   A long time ago, I worked at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.  I ate way too many caramel apples.  

11.  I’m a credentialed teacher.  I stopped teaching after having children but will probably go back.  
Now for the questions:
Questions from Alana at Healthy Family Simple Budget
1. What’s your favourite post you’ve written so far?
2. On those parenting days where nothing seems to go quite right, how do you move beyond the melt-downs and mess?
I try to get out of the house by myself for a bit.   If I don’t have anyone around to watch the kids, I will take them to the park to get the wiggles out.  Oh, and I reward myself with chocolate...lots of chocolate.
3. What’s one of your favourite go-to recipe?
I make homemade pesto sauce.  I use toasted slivered almonds (ground up), fresh basil, parmesan and olive oil.  I mix it all up in my "Magic Bullet."  My kids like it too.

My pesto sauce with bow tie pasta!  © Melissa Matters
4. What are your favourite blogs to read?
Well, Healthy Family Simple Budget, of course.  I also enjoy Three Boys and a Mom, Rookie Parenting and Mommy A to Z,  This Heart, Just Another Mom...I have a lot I’m enjoying.
5. What prompted you to start your blog?
When my daughter was born, I started writing articles for the web.  A few months ago, one of the main sites I wrote for, Yahoo Voices, went out of business.  I have found other places to write.  However, none of the sites I write for allow me to write about parenting or first person accounts.  I started the blog because I enjoy having a voice.
6. What blog post are you the most proud of?
Great question!  I would say Saying Goodbye to the Baby Years because it was an emotional one for me.  Also, I think a lot of parents think moving beyond the baby years is a bittersweet time.  
7. Would you rather a year without social media or a year without coffee?
My son had GERD when I was nursing so I had to be very careful about what I ate.  I got used to living a caffeine-free life.  So, I think I could go another year without coffee….even though the smell is so inticing.
8. What’s your favourite baby shower gift to give?

I like to give practical clothing such as onesies and sleepers.   
9. When writer’s block hits, or you find you are not completing posts, where do you find inspiration?

I try to get some sleep.  Usually, I have writer’s block when I am super-tired.
10. What are your favourite books to read your kids? (*This post contains affiliate links).
I love The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems.  It is very funny!  I also enjoy books from Chris Van Allsburg (The Sweetest Fig) and Shel Silverstein (The Giving Tree is my favorite).

11. What is your favourite outing with your family?

We love going to the beach.  We live in Southern California so we have a lot to choose from.  

© Melissa Matters
Questions from Kori at Just Another Mom
1. Why did you start blogging?

When my daughter was born, I started writing articles for the web.  A few months ago, one of the main sites I wrote for, Yahoo Voices, went out of business.  I have found other places to write.  However, none of the sites I write for allow me to write about parenting or first person accounts.  I started the blog because I enjoy having a voice.
2. Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla?

Vanilla. I always get vanilla milkshakes or ice cream.  However, I don’t like plain vanilla ice cream.  It has to have caramel or fudge on top.

3. Do you drink coffee or tea?

I like coffee.  However, after being pregnant and nursing, I got used to de-caffeinated tea!

4. What is your favorite season and why?

I would say fall.  I love how the weather is cooler so I can go to the park or be active any time of the day.  In the fall, I  enjoy going to the pumpkin patch.   

5. Do you have a favorite month of the year?

December because I love Christmas

6. What is the first letter of your middle name?


7. Have you traveled outside of the United States?

I have been Cabo San Lucas and Italy.

In Rome
8. How long have you lived in your current city?

I have lived here for 10 years.  Wow, that’s a long time.

9. If you could play any instrument, what would it be?

I have a guitar and used to be able to play.  I haven’t used it in a few years. However, I would like to be much better.

10. Do you have a favorite author?

I like Douglas Coupland! He wrote All Families Are Psychotic.

11. What’s your birthstone?

Aquamarine!  It's beautiful.

So who am I nominating?  It’s hard to choose.  (I’m only nominating four this time because I wanted to make sure I was very familiar with my nominations).  Congrats to the nominees:

1.  Ashley from  This Heart: Ashley’s Devotions.  Ashley has a poetic way of explaining life through the eyes of a parent.   When reading her posts, I often find myself nodding my head in agreement.

2. Pamela from Rookie Parenting.  Pamela takes a scientific approach to parenting advice!  Her blog is well researched.  I have definitely learned a thing or two when reading her posts.

3.  Ingrid from My Boss Wears Diapers.  Along with amusing parenting tales, Ingrid also gives tips on how to earn and save money!

4.  Cristi from Easy Being Mom.  Cristi has plenty of stories that will make you think and laugh!

Now nominees, here are your 11 questions to answer (I copied the questions from my first Liebster award):

1.  Why did you start a blog?

2.  What is your favorite family activity?

3.  What is your biggest parenting fear?

4.  What is your most popular blog post?

5.  If you could travel anywhere, all expenses paid, where would you go?

6.  What is your favorite season?

7.  What is your favorite book to read to your children?

8.  What is the best part about blogging?

9.  ….And the worst?

10.  Where is your favorite kid-friendly recreational spot to go (amusement park, park, etc)?

11.  What is your favorite television program or movie?

Thanks again for nominating me Alana and Kori!