diagnosis: cabin fever, cure: crate of craps

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30 January 2015

How many times can I type about cabin fever/cancer before it starts to become a recurrent theme here at the Camp? Five posts ago? I know. Well, it's bad. I've mentioned before that Sebastian especially needs to get outside or he starts to go a little crazy (like most 3-year-old boys, I'd imagine) and projects his crazy onto everyone else and by 10:12 in the am ... welcome to the nuthouse. So! When Kiwi Crate, an award winning monthly subscription service chalk full of educational fun for kids, asked if I'd like to have the kids test drive a couple of their genius boxes and write a sponsored post about them ... I bit. Not quite as hard as Sebastian bit Julia's forehead last week but ... I bit pretty hard.

The kids were like, "oh, okay mom ... we'll do something fun and totally out of the ordinary."


{Phoebe like, "Theo's asleep so I'll take his place as pesky third wheel, sacrificial lamb that I am."}

No, when I asked Julia if she wanted to do some crafts like she does at school she looked at me like I had 78 heads and said, "what? no, we do not do craps at school."

Fair enough.

I think one time a couple years ago I cut some unrecognizable "bats" out of black construction paper and taped them on the wall around Halloween and decided I'd filled my craft quota for my entire motherhood so it was with a bit of trepidation that I opened the boxes with the kids. But, I needn't have stressed like the Grace Patton that I am because with just a tiny bit of guidance ... they were off and running on their own in no time. Each crate comes with 2-3 activities to keep them busy for hours over an extended period of days. Really.

Sebastian almost had a little toddler heart attack when he opened his Koala Crate (for ages 3-4) and it was all "CHRUX!!!" themed ... and I wish I could stay I staged and planned that he was wearing that shirt to match the theme but that is the only shirt he wears these days. Ever ...

There was a wooden truck and blocks and a mat that you could "paint" on with water (It was so evident that there are experts behind the scenes making sure each crate is totally age appropriate and engaging ... I was happy to not see any actual paint) and a little cardboard ramp and road signs and Washi tape to make roads galore. I loved that there was lots of suggestions for what to do (and Bash had a grand time pretending he was very seriously reading the "constructions") but mostly he was just so tickled with the zillions of options with his goods that I just let him play (skipping his nap! He had to have been a perfect quiet little angel for this quiet-craving mom to allow that) for 2+ hours. Everything in his box was completely reusable and he's slept with that truck under his pillow every night since it was opened.

Julia's Kiwi Crate (for ages 4-8) was a bit more involved which was so perfect for Miss Detail-Oriented. She built and taped together a snowman (which was too perfect because as much as I hate snow ... the kids have been so sad that there hasn't been enough snow for a snowman this year AND they are borderline obsessed with us having carrots on-hand for a carrot nose just in case the snow gods decide to dump on us) and then decorated all four sides with a combination of stickers and markers.

And the second part of her crate involved putting together lanterns (complete with flameless candles) which she thought was pretty incredible ...

... photo shoot on top of the toilet because ... only dark room in the house.

Her crate included a ball to "bowl" with her snowman which I thought she might enjoy at the very least ... 

... but the first time she finally (she might've inherited her mom's sporty spice skills which is to say she is sporty spice skill-less, sorry J) knocked the man down she swiftly switched gears into cheerleader for Team Self.

Repeat 3829230 more times. Self confidence is pretty below average around here.

To note:

+ all subscriptions come with free shipping
+ there's an add-on "no fight" sibling option (did someone hear Theo waking from his nap?)
+ Beyond the Koala Crate (ages 3-4) and the Kiwi Crate (ages 4-8) there's also a Tinker Crate (ages 9-14) and a Doodle Crate (ages 9-16)

Next time super kind and generous relatives ask for birthday and Christmas ideas for the kids I just might have to point them in the direction of this post instead of drawing my usual blank. I was expecting the kids to like the crates and enjoy the activities but Julia exclaimed, "this is just the most terrific day of our lives, huh Bash?!" while she was busy working so I think to say, yes - they sort of liked them, at the very least.

If you're thinking your kids or some kids you know and love might like a little boost of happy this wonderful winter ... feel free to click over and use the discount code: CP30 and get 30% off your first month's subscription (any crate!) and you can see some of the past popular crates here.

Happy, happy weekend.

I pray there's an embarrassment of unhealthy football food + commercials that don't disappoint in your very near future. And mine.

the skinny on skinny car seats

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29 January 2015

oh, yes. Look at her go. Two days ago she knew of one skinny car seat and now she's pounding out a lengthy blog post like an obnoxious expert.

You know me so well.

No, I started to write a Facebook post summarizing my findings (ALL thanks to you and your helpful tips and emails) but then it started to rival a Tolstoy novellita so I switched gears and pasted it over here. Plus ... I like to have visual aides because I will forever be stuck in tenth grade trying to grasp some (un)complicated math situation.

Here's what I've gathered are the top three ...

1. Diono RadianRXT - this was far and AWAY the most popular suggestion so I'm guessing you really can't go wrong with it. Apparently it's quite heavy though? But .... if she can do this ...

... I'm guessing it's not that bad. Plus heavier = safer? Right? Right. It's pricey but someone commented they stalked it on Amazon and the price dropped significantly for one day.

2. Combi Cocorro - not as many recommendations for this one but the few endorsements were glowing endorsements PLUS it seems to be the least expensive which is kind of a huge plus when you're buying three. I poked around a bit and it looks like (right now) Amazon has the best price for this one too.

3. Clek Foonf - I'm just going to be honest and say that I want these because I want to be as hip and cool as Jenna. Shallow? Never ever. They always look so chic over on her gram and when have you ever seen chic and car seat used together in the same sentence? Just now, that's when. This is by far the priciest but apparently they are on significant sale over at Zulily this week.

*this just in! Good thing I do my homework before I made that collage-o-seats. It looks like the Clek Fllo is even skinnier. And cheaper! It does not get, "the mother of all car seats" title though. So ... something to consider. 

All three car seats are designed for extended rear facing use (although the Radian and the Clek have higher weight limits than the Cocorro) and I don't think we could go wrong with any of them. I don't think! And while we'd love to upgrade to a bigger vehicle ... Simon will be getting a new car long before we replace the van. If you've seen or heard Simon's car in real life ... you'll know why. Thank you hit-and-run jerkface or the more diplomatic "the bad guy" according to Julia.

If you have any pros or cons to add - I'd love to hear! Are there other skinnies I don't know about? Maybe there are and I'll have to come back and edit the post so that it's fair! I've heard the Diono lovers loud and clear and I know about the facebook page that will weigh on in the best fit for your vehicle. The internet --- it's magical. Sometimes.

hospital hijinks

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28 January 2015

Yeah, yeah ... it might take three hours of painstaking planning and dressing and diapering and feeding and diapering again to get the crew out the door to visit Simon when he's working over the weekend but once we get there (unless something comes up on his end while we're driving or after we get there -- has happened! will happen again! the world will keep on turning!) the kids' standards for fun are pretty low.

It's great. No, really.

Por ejemplo:

A. mac and cheese day in the cafeteria? Christmas come 11 months early.

B. the "comments and suggestions" and "nominate an exceptional nurse" cards all over the hospital? Hoarder Julia's dream COME TRUE (and she's got a massive backpack full of paper treasures to prove it and she will notice if a few get thrown in the recycling bin by mean Mom, she's a very well adjusted four year old)

C. the very occasional trip up to Dad's "bedroom" to watch a few minutes of Cartoon Network? Heaven is a place on earth and the Patton kids have landed.

D. elevators

E. escalators {unless your name is Theo}

F. breastfeeding basics prenatal classes

G. and for our latest Friday night hospital hallway lights of excitement we've got the thrilling and hilarious game of ...


I never ever see it coming. Ever. 

{photo #2 ... Theo is always a little slow on the uptake ... just a little}

So you can imagine just how sad I was to bust out the call weekend calendar to discover that no! could it be?

Eye rub.

We only have seven call weekends left?


Twenty eight overnight shifts left total (that night float month'll getcha) but the light! It's there. The tunnel isn't pitch black anymore.

Fancy that.

I'm thinking in addition to the inevitable glut of pregnancy prattle ... I'll have to throw in a weekly "residency final countdown update" to really ensure that the blog is gutted of any and all readers other than my grandma and Simon. Smile. Not kidding. EVEN BIGGER CRAZY EYED NO BLINK SMILE. 

baby number five

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26 January 2015

... which makes me think of the song, "Mambo Number Five" which is tied for first place along with, "Happy", and "Moves like Jagger" for most annoying song EVER.  

I had to write the tiniest post to say a sequoia (the tree, not the vehicle) sized thank you for being so kind and generous with your comments and emails and everything re: the baby news. I was totally expecting a whole battalion of cricket chirps or a something more along the lines of ...

... understandably. But no! Simon and I were floored by how nice everyone was over the weekend. Simon was working yesterday but at one point he sent me a screenshot from my favorite social media medium with, "holy poop emoji"

you know the one ...

(I have no idea if that fact is true but I found it on the trustworthy internet so ... truth is likely)

Thank you thank you thank you. So much. 

Let's see .... can I give you any juicy details that wouldn't put you to sleep? No, but that's never stopped me before. I've been feeling great since about 15 weeks and I'm convinced it's a girl just like I was with Sebastian, Theo, and Phoebe so we'll see if my stellar track record gets another gold star.

It will be an exciting last week of June as the baby is due and we are moving and Simon is taking his boards as soon as we get down to Florida but we have the best friends and family already volunteering to help. My biggest stress {if you can even call it that} is going to be finding a grip of skinny car seats (this one? I know there are others and I will FIND YOU} to legally fit everyone in the Odyssey but .... minor, minor details.

Costco receipt checker ... you better get ready for this belly.

I solemnly swear to use that terrible pun no fewer than five times before June.

And I spent a mortifying amount of time getting that fancy baby onto that receipt so if you could at least pretend to marvel .... that would be wonderful.

Thank you.

all the things they said

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24 January 2015

"I think we should name her, "Lazy" - Julia

"When will he be born? Four minutes?" - Sebastian

blank stare + speechless - Theo

"not care, not look."  - Phoebe

"you call this an adequate pregnancy announcement?' - baby #5

Yes sir!

Or ma'am!

We'll find out in June {as clearly illustrated above} and we cannot wait.

Oh, what?

A bump snap?

You know I always aim to please ...

 ... I'll wait for the full on clutch and gaze until tomorrow because Simon said I looked like I was pulling a Vanna White with my own stomach PLUS ... daily updates until d-day so there's plenty of time for posing variety.



madame linx-a-lot

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23 January 2015

Like Sir Mix-a-lot.
But not.
I know, the struggle is obvious today.


Yay. It's the freakin weekend. Which just means Simon's hours are longer than the weekdays but ... c'est la woe-is-me. I just quadruple checked his schedule and he has the next two!!!! weekends off (where my party emoji at?) so we'll focus on that.


He did have to take a test today instead of reporting to labor and delivery so he got to stay home long enough to enjoy breakfast with our two non-verbal roosters which was super nice. I think the call weekend count for the remaining months of residency might be nearing the single digits? Maybe? I won't count yet but ... we are getting there. Chipping away ... one optimistic day at a time. Toothy smile.


I linked to these leggings a few weeks ago in this post and some of you fine people mentioned that they were worth the splurge and so I believed you and waited until they went on sale and then promptly took the plunge ...

... and haven't taken them off since.

{also, welcome to my blogging office - desktop background found here}

Well, I have but only to turn them inside out because they are reversible. They fit true to size (do not size up) and don't ride down at all (a huge plus) and hold their shape and make the kids breakfast when your baditude flares up and is like, "didn't I just do that yesterday?!" There are a handful of styles that are 40% off right now but, no peer pressure. At all. Fun fact though! The creative director of Zella used to work at Lululemon (tidbit of trivia thanks to Shana!). Okay, I promise not to talk about my second skin again for three whole days. PROMISE.

It wouldn't be a list of links if I didn't include a little something about Costco.

So I'm going to be a fatty fat hypocrite and admit that even though I am in the process of donating all of our tangible possessions ... I'm super tempted to try this service. Some of my favorite bloggers (Kacia, Kilee, Jen, and others, I know!) have posted about it and I'm so intrigued. Enough to try? At least once. Then ... we'll go from there. And you better believe I'll be chucking a post full of mirror length selfies your way once my "fix" arrives. Gird your excitement.

The Bachelor! Duh. I almost forgot. I missed the first hour because Phoebe managed to wedge half of a Frozen snowflake sticker (thank you resident hoarder: Julia) up in her mouth. It fit in her palate perfectly and it took Simon a long time to coax it out (we were scared it would cut her because it was a puffy sticker with the razor edges or that she would swallow it) and you can throw the "my kid got a pea stuck so far up his nose that they had to do brain surgery to get it out" stories at me so I feel less terrible because she'd been refusing her bottle for a few days so I think it had been there for a spell. Anyway, I'm feeling the Whitney vibes but there's still so much producer-driven drama (why?! the show breeds its own crazy) that needs to clear the air before I can pick a clear winner. You know Ashley did not disappoint with her recap. Does she ever? Nope!

I think Phoebe might be in the process of dropping her morning nap (NoooooOoooOooooOOOOoO!!!!) so I asked the Facebook page at what age their kids pulled this bologna and the 80 comments were oh so very dismal. I'll do just about anything to get the three younger kids to nap in unison in the afternoon but I guess I was super spoiled by the older three because they didn't drop their beautiful morning siesta until around 14 months. Phoebe turned nine months today. Poor Grace. I know.

Alright. It's macaroni and cheese day in the hospital cafeteria and the kids are beside themselves with excitement (you just keep that childhood bar low, Grace + Simon) so I better start the three hour process of getting them dressed and shoed and all of that.

And because Phoebe has been hogging the blog photo spotlight ... I'll snub her with a photo of the maturer children ...

this was a fun morning.

happy weekend.
I guess.

the best kind of kitchen help

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22 January 2015

While Simon is always incredibly supportive of all of my posts and blog ideas his eyes definitely lit up and he didn't hesitate for a second before saying, "oh, you should definitely do that" when I broached the idea of Blue Apron kindly sponsoring a post (this post!) once he heard about their genius service and scrolled through their website. His mom is a magician in the kitchen and I'm a seriously lacking work-in-forever-progress in that department and I really should take all the help I can get so I'm glad I did.

I'm willing to bet some lettuce that you've heard of Blue Apron but if you haven't I'll give you a lightning fast rundown:

+ Blue Apron is a food service (two person or four person meal plans) that delivers farm-fresh food to your doorstep in the exactly the right proportions along with detailed recipe cards complete with helpful photos.

Fast enough?

The fixings for Winter Chicken Ramen with a blurry cameo of Julia minus her entire body, plus her hand.

Bok Choy. Never did it ever think it would see the likes of our kitchen in all of its exotic glory. Life is crazy like that.

I almost had a very minor heart attack when the recipe card went missing (even though the entire recipe is online, Grandma - along with others!!) but then I heard my super helpful helper around the corner on her favorite perch reading the instructions out loud ...

"Number one: put that green stuff in."
"Number two: put that other green stuff in the first green stuff."
Heavy sigh ... 
"Number three: cut the green things up very small with a dangerous knife."

 I knew I'd be cooking up some new recipes that I would never dare to try on my own but I didn't anticipate learning some new-to-me cooking techniques like this one ...

frying chicken pieces under the weight of a pot of water. So smart. {although: they said to use foil which we did not have so I used parchment paper which I do not recommend lest you like putting out smallish kitchen fires, ahem}

My new skill made some of the best (nay, thee best) chicken I've ever tasted. I can only take about 5% credit, of course, but it was GOOD. Miss Piggy Patton herself woke up just in time to help me taste test ...

... and immature jokes aside, she would've eaten an entire breast if I'd let her. 

The chicken all dressed up and ready to go along with the soft boiled eggs ...

(eggs straight from a farm! We all know how I feel about those! Might've been the highlight for me)

And the final Winter Chicken Ramen product ...

the Pattons are very particular about matching dishes.

I made this as a late lunch/early dinner for Simon and myself while the kids napped because it's a treat to get to eat together (and Phoebe, but she keeps her talking to a minimum) even though Blue Apron just started offering a family meal plan that's designed for four people but was plenty for all six of us for a meal plus leftovers. Plenty. And Theo and Phoebe are huge eaters ... despite being the youngest kiddos.

Things that surprised me about the service:

+ the family meal plan is $8.74 per person (with free shipping) which is a lot less than we spend when we ever dare to dine out once we factor in drinks and fat tip for the poor waitstaff left to clean up the leftover floor and table carnage. There's no fee to delay or cancel the service at any time which is so nice because I forget that sort of thing all the time (thank you new yearlong magazine subscription - oops). The two person meal plan is $9.99 a person.

+ average prep time for their meals is 35 minutes which is more than doable if I get a little head start at the tail end of naps. 

+ I knew everything would be included (other than obvious items like salt and pepper or a tablespoon of olive oil here and there) but it was really a nice and refreshing change not having to pause and ask Simon to run to the store for the inevitable forgotten ingredient because it was all right there - labeled and perfectly portioned. And best of all - no waste. I'm the WORST about that.

+ I always thought I hated (HAY-TED) mushrooms but this recipe included Enoki mushrooms ...

... middle culprit on the cutting board.

and I really liked them. Miracle of miracles. So now I'm eying my other nemesis (olives) and wondering if there's a variety I might tolerate somewhere over the rainbow ...

+ the box the shipment came in was refrigerated. I knew it was outside waiting to be brought in and I kept saying, "okay after this diaper I'll grab it" or "let me just sweep the kitchen again" or or or ... so it was outside in the not-freezing weather for quite a few hours and by the time I brought it in - everything was still cold cold. The meat especially - which is obviously the most important.

+ I kept thinking what a great gift this would be to send to a postpartum mom a few months after the baby is born. While meals ready to pop in the oven are amazing (seriously) immediately post-delivery ... I thought it might be a nice surprise gift to get once you're sort of back on your feet and craving something that doesn't require a freezer and a microwave but just aren't up for a big trip to the store or thinking up a fancier meal quite yet. Something to keep in mind as a lot of my friends get ready to have sweet summer babies, for sure.

So if you ever dare to  come over dinner and the meal seems a little bit too good to be Grace Patton true ... you'll know my dirty little secret.

And if you'd like to give Blue Apron a try - the first fifty readers can snag two free meals with their first order right here!

Thanks for reading and thanks to Blue Apron for the fancy feast. The kitchen is still reeling from all the highly unusual excitement.

wide open spaces

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21 January 2015

You're not going to believe this because it really goes against the spirit of the new year and the beginning stages of spring cleaning but I've been on a serious mission to get rid of everything. Within reason. Like, if you have a pulse ... you can stay ... otherwise ... in the minivan trunk you go to the donation bin (love those bins that are everywhere around here!) because that is one fewer thing we will have to haul down to Tampa in a few months. No, no, no - I know you're doing it too! I do. Everyone is doing it. But it's great. I've never been a neat freak and never will be but I swear my blood pressure drops several points when I walk around the house and spot an uncluttered corner or (a rarity!) a nice clean room. And catching a glimpse of a corner of piled up crap has the opposite effect, sadly. So maybe I'm just a neatish freak. Who knows.

Our living room has gone through the most permutations ever since we moved in because, well, it just has. We spend the most time there and it's the first room you see when you walk through the front door blah blah. We've always had a trunk or a table (or both! dumb dumb) as a coffee table because of course! Everyone needs a coffee table! Right? Well, I had a kRaZy revelation and decided that the frequency at which we sit and enjoy coffee (or water or something more exciting like alco-hawl) without a little angel face spilling said beverage is a big fat zero so ... adios trunk. The trunk went up to our room (I know! it should've just been removed from the house but I want to see the Florida housing situation before I get rid of every stick of furniture) and the kids have seemed to gain a new lease on play life.

I took some real nice photos to show you said lease. 

Real nice.

the kids normally migrate down to the basement because that's where the bulk of their toys live which is great but we're in the process of painting over their many Crayola murals down there and tidying things - hold up - this is something future Grace might look back on and be like, "wtf wtf wtf - what were you blogging about and were you intoxicated, former Grace?!"

Sorry. Nope, sober!

Let me finish strong with a cell phone snap so you can get a better idea of the situation ...

{Sebastian was in his room because he bit Julia. Really hard. Broke skin, left a bruise, and all. He'll be living there until, "he needs to go to Costco or Target" according to the victim who is milking her wound real good.}

Anyway, don't get me started on how smart a white rug placement was because we are known for taking wonderful care of our things ...

... and kids aren't just messy and mobile permanent stains waiting to happen ...

At all.

But really. Now I'm eying bulky items like the refrigerator and the toilet and wondering, "necessary?!" or merely customary? and can they go?

I'll keep you posted.

mom chop

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20 January 2015

For better or worse I'm the resident barber (stylist? no, not even close) around here which is usually fine except for every third time I cut Simon's hair I tend to always make a semi-noticeable mistake in the back. I have to try to hold my breath and forge ahead so that I don't laugh out loud and let him know of said botch. It never works and I always laugh but he's always a good sport, thankfully.  We did spring for a professional cut last year when he was interviewing which was a very wise decision, despite the gal cutting his hair asking lots of, "does your wife use scissors or .... what exactly?! and, "is this a fade?!" types of incredulous questions. I also cut my own which is most definitely for worse but I'm so petrified to go to a real stylist now for fear that they give me the same deserved earful about my skillz that Simon got that I'm happy to just keep on hacking at random, for now.

Enough of an intro. We got it, Grace.

I came across this photo on stupid Pinterest (love/hate Pinterest ... so much) and asked Julia if she'd like me to cut her hair like that and she said, "sure I would!!" so ... I watched a YouTube on how to cut a "lob" (long bob, get it? good) and went to work.

The before ....

... isn't really fair because obviously we'd just pulled her hair out of her perma-pigtails but I need all the help I can get for the after so ...


I cut it once and then trimmed it up a little bit a few days later ...

... nothing you'll find roaming the dangerous wilds of Pinterest but not necessarily the potential, "well, we'll just have to buzz it and slip some prenatals into her yogurt and hope for the best" disaster it could've been.

I think.

If you disagree, forever hold your peace. Thank you kindly.

My favorite part is that these photos were taken after a long nap she graciously took and she doesn't look like a scarecrow. There is one bonus to the kids not making my hair dreams (Simon's volume + Grace's color = blonde curls but instead we got Grace's notvolume + Simon's color) come true and that is that their hair stays pretty tame between washes. I just put the teeniest bit of this stuff on when her hair is just about dry and then blow dry it with a big round brush for four minutes (she will tolerate no! more!) and we're good until her highness requires her next "baraxing" bath.

I've said it on Instagram and I'll say it again but even with Phoebe wearing a headband I still get, "four boys??" comments left and right (this morning the lady was baffled when I said otherwise - but I guess it was kind of understandable) so I might need to reevaluate whether or not I gave her a glorified bowl cut before we make our next batch of rash hair styling decisions based on Pinterest perfection.

When you really want a lollipop

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19 January 2015

... and your name is Sebastian Patton.

You make it happen. Or you make a valiant effort at the very least.

Last night I ran to Target with Julia for a nightlight {she's decided she's afraid of the dark, fair enough! I still sleep with every possible light on when Simon is gone so odds are good she comes by the fear honestly} and some non-spicy toothpaste for the older kids and if I'm being honest ... a little bit of peace and quiet. We got all four and returned home to find Simon trying to deal with crazycake Phoebe (teething? my best guess slash always my guess with her) in the basement and Sebastian scrambling away from his little man-made kitchen Kilimanjaro ... while yelling, "I wasn't doing any-sing!!!" ...

bathroom trashcan up to dining room chair up to little tower of formula topped with coconut oil that I'm hoping he did not try to scale.

The red bag above the microwave contains his prized potty training lollipops.

And not to be outcrazied ... I found Theo happily stuffing my clogs with baby wipes ... the better to fit his little hooves with, of course.

like gloves, Theorella.

And as much as I love to play the mom cheerleader and hope to foster a love for imaginative play in our offspring ... I have to admit I'm pretty tickled that only one of their little projects was a smashing success and that the other was a big fat failure. Quiet clap clap clap + half-hearted toe touch. 

over medium

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15 January 2015

Some days I feel like I'm eerily close to what some might say is, "on my game."

Suited up, smiling wide, and ready for chaos cubed, like so.

Simon's on a 24 and Sebastian has been asking for the funner parent all day long? No problem! I'll just feed a hangry Phoebe bits of banana for her aperitif in between looking for Theo's only pair of shoes that fit (in the closet! WHAT) and changing a few explosions that I refuse to let get in the way of my end goal: cozy dinner for six in the hospital cafeteria. I anticipate and stop the "no I want to open the car door!!!" scuffle before it inevitably erupts by negotiating who will perform the coveted and exotic task now and who will do the honors at the hospital and I even remember to pack spare diapers and a pack of wipes with more than one dried out lone soldier inside. Everyone woke up tragically early from their naps but the quiet kids and the beat of the top 40 drums that fill the van is enough to charge my batteries for a few more hours. She's an animal; albeit rarely.

And then other days are gameless. By the time Simon is on his way home and I do myself the favor of glancing in the mirror I'm beyond horrified at the reflection.

Like so, but one hundred times worse.

Even though he's seen me in some less than glamorous states (see hourS of struggling to push out babies) I ignore hour eleven of the cabin fevered whine to do something about the mop of unkempt straw + winter ghost face + wait, what am I wearing?! that is making baby pusher Grace look downright red carpet ready because unlove at 99,999th sight could be a thing! Pre-kid Grace wasn't going to look like this ever, let alone 8.5 generous months post-baby! Scoff. The kids have conspired to each take a time slot to fulfill their tantrum obligations so that the entire day is covered in fun and how many square meals a day do small children need to stay alive? Because some days they like to push into the double digits. I'm out of strikes before the day even starts because ... No Game.

But the rest of the days fall somewhere in the middle; somewhere in the "baby bear's chair/porridge/bed" category.

Just right ...

... below average.

I might manage to keep a crooked lid on everything until 6pm when I struggle to peel one potato for our bi-weekly "fancy" dinner of: chicken, potatoes, and vegetable {singular} because suddenly everyone has emergent NEEDS. Or I might realize the day is going a little bit too smoothly solely thanks to an army of screens blaring Barney, Thomas, and/or YouTube Frozen toy reviews (ahem, Julia Grace Patton) so we call it a draw. My mediocre might be someone's lowest standard that they ever deign to graze or maybe my game days are appalling to the veteran ranks of moms but for now it's the the rule and not the exception peppered in with a small handful of those "toe touch, clap clap" days and a hopefully even smaller smattering of the defeatist days of doom.

And I'm okay with that for now.

"Aim low and you'll be less disappointed."

- an old faux parenting proverb

get out the way

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13 January 2015

The first year of a baby's life is so wonderfully unpredictable, isn't it? I had many struggles with baby Julia (I like to call it Clueless New Mom Syndrome and I think I had it worse than anyone ever in the history of CNMS) but one of my biggest conundrums was her ever-evolving nap "schedule" and all the loads of advice coming at me from all directions. And those other directions too. I remember when she downgraded from three naps to two I was SO frustrated and befuddled as to why it was happening. I was too caught up in the small picture (a! rigid! schedule!) to take an adult step back and look at the big picture: babies don't grow up into adults with thrice daily built into their day-to-day grind (although! a nice thought, right? ) ... the naps slowly get dropped. It seems so simple in retrospect but the learning curve of that first year is steep (like taking a sip of water from a fire hose! some might cliché) and every baby is entitled to a different temperament and your second baby will throw you a wildly different year than your first baby did and so on but there's something about the first baby that's just ... well, something. Profundity in spades today, folks.

But I'm not here to wax chatty about baby drama or even about sleep schedules (although - I can say without a hint of irony - that it is something I could talk about for hours, sadly). Nope - I want to talk about something even more sexy.

throw back head cackle. Curve ball!!!

Let's talk about milestones and mobility.

I remember Simon's mom saying that a mobile baby is a happy baby and holy true. So true. Julia took her sweet, sweet time to start crawling (10 months) which was okay because my hands were free to cart her wherever her highness might desire to be carted. Sebastian was up and slithering long before his 1/2 birthday but Theo! Oh, Theo. If literate Theo is reading this: know that I loved you through it but 7-11 months was a dark and stormy time of your life. Your frustration was almost tangible as you sat and threw vocal pity parties about not being able to move and were only happy on my hip during your waking hours. Happily, as soon as the clouds parted, and the rain cleared, and you figured it out at 11 months old .. it was the brightest and sunniest day of my mom career. Your personality transformed into something that didn't trigger dangerous waves of anxiety on the hour which was um, nice. I guess it left a bit of an impression or what some might call PTSD because my hands got clammy just typing about it.

The tangent was necessary, I'm sorry. I had to pave the way for Phoebe's seemingly humdrum milestone that she mastered last week ...

I don't know what's in her mouth ... maybe she popped, lost, and ate her third tooth all in the same second. Yes, let's roll with that.

Oh, you better believe I was so excited (the weeks leading up to her takeoff were scarily reminiscent of those months with Theo and I was starting to sweat profusely) that I put together a grainy video montage complete with dated ditty soundtrack.

It's okay if you don't watch the entire minute to the "eat a piece of lint" bitter end. I showed it to Simon and even his eyes were darting as he was looking for an escape route.

And while life isn't perfect, of course! It's whole bleep of a lot better with a happy baby sprint-laughing toward the stairs while they watch you sprint-freak toward them during dinner prep vs. an angry baby doing anything at all. Bring on the baby-proofing and all the headaches people like to warn you about a crawling child ... bring them on strong.

{I'm sure your baby has been mobile since 4 months? 5 months? And I hope you celebrated appropriately and made them a fancy YouTube too. You both deserve it.}

an alternative to football

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11 January 2015

Let me just blog about how I'm going to make January my little b and then watch this call weekend vomit all over my optimistic face. Or just today. Simon's 24 on Friday was okay! And last night was one of my favorite dates of the year (I always miss the crazy sales throughout the year here but January is Simon's time to shine and we usually have decent luck for him around now, for some reason) but the kids overdosed on crazy pills this morning and the weather is so dreary and today is basically just a bonus Monday before the real Monday kindly stands up tomorrow and what other variety of fine whine would you like to sample, Mrs. Patton? Simon's diagnosed me with Cabin Cancer which is a very serious form of Cabin Fever which is basically just to say .... I'm a baby. And I'll stop now.

I see you, trashcan.

The internet is bursting with rosier + greener + funner pastures that I wanted to share. I was tempted to type, "shear" because sheep/pasture ... but, you were spared.

Fran's started a super fun weekend series full of links and interesting medical facts and sometimes I save it in my reader for a rainy day. Like now. You'll love it too.

a HUGE congrats to sweet Amelia!!

The Bachelor is (FINALLY) back! I must be getting old because Monday's three hour (!!!!) premier was almost too much for my arthritic bones. They've really upped the crazy ante but I'm hopeful that as the field is narrowed ... it will get back to the quality programming I've grown to know and love. Wink. Ashley's recap will make you laugh out loud (whether or not you watch the show) and Sharleen's will make you want to watch it with her (even if you hate the show - she offers the best insights as a former contestant).

thredUP has started selling baby clothing! Just click on boy or girl and then choose the 12 month category and clothing smaller than size 12 mos will pop up as well. I've found some awesome steals for Phoebe (who really is basically size 12 mos but still, I'll pour her into those 6-12 month onesies while I can)

We have very little counter space in our kitchen and it always feels insanely cluttered and I've always loved the look of magnetic knife strips in kitchens but there's no wall space where I wouldn't trust the kids to figure out a way to build a tower and snag them (ahem, Sebastian). But I found these strips that are magnetic on both sides so they just adhere to the refrigerator. Perfect. They work well on the side of the fridge and are high enough and blocked by the counter that I pray Sebastian doesn't decide to scale. I think technically they are for tools and they aren't very pretty but I was so happy to get rid of the knife block and double our counter space. In fact, I was SO happy that I almost dedicated an entire post to the new and improved knife storage situation but sometimes I have standards and you're getting away with a paragraph. LUCKY.

What else. WHAT else ...

Oh! Duh. Jenny rounded up a wonderful list of blogs and I found a handful of new ones to follow and archive stalk. I'm guessing you will too.

My three-year-old Clarisonic and died you better believe I'm going to see if there was some sort of unspoken lifetime warranty built into the purchase price ... but if not it's going to be hard to resist snagging the Clarisonic Mia after reading Kristine's post.

Well. As Simon would say, "the cattle are lowing" so off I scurry to make make all of their wildest dreams (chocolate chip cookies) come true while we wait in earnest for Simon's homecoming so mom can sprint to the gym where she'll be cardio-ing up a minor storm with a hefty side of Golden Globes.

oh yes Grace, the grain and filter should definitely hide your 6am hair and Theo's treasure hunt. definitely.

happy bonus Monday.

beating January

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09 January 2015

or crushing January might work too.

I accidentally initially titled this post, "beating February" ... but the power of positive thinking does not a time traveler make. Weird.

back in December ... when the cold weather still held a little bit of its acceptable Christmas magic.

Oh, I know it's cliché to talk about and maybe some people love January because fresh starts and blank pages and all of that rap music but January is always a rough month around here and I'd like to think I'm not alone.

I need to channel my inner Theo but all I want to do is pull a Phoebe. For 31 days.

My only resolution at the start of ever year is simply: do not die during January. It's freezing (I know we don't live in the coldest climate but -10 with windchill is frigid to me! Our brand new furnace is about to have a heart attack and I'm not above preheating the oven in the morning because our kitchen doesn't have a heating vent), there's still a massive chunk of winter to go, it still gets dark at 3:50 in the afternoon - or so it FEELS, and not all the coconut oil in the world is going to save my dry skin that rivals an onion left to bake in the Sahara. Sebastian is dying to go outside ("just wear a coat, Mom!!" and I'm dying not to take him ("find me an electric coat, and then maybe, Bash!!") and Simon is always always on a time consuming rotation (which I kind of prefer - get it over with during a gross month!) so by the the time 6:08 in the pm rolls around general mayhem is rocking and rolling real loud and proud around here.


I tried to come into the month doing something very foreign to my usual skill set by being proactive (did I type that naturally enough p-r-o-a-c-t-i-v-e) about the month-o-doom and not let it get the best of me so that I might not succumb to the depths of despair like some fictitious one I know. There's a fine line between ambitious and crazy and I think my little list of little goals falls somewhere three miles behind the ambitious line. Prepare to be overwhelmed. But I do promise not to use the word intentional ... not once.

Here's what I've got.

More reading: If I keep my mind occupied rather than dwelling on the aforementioned list of January grievances .... logic tells me I'll be one cm ahead in the race. I've already read a couple books this month and I'm even thinking of dipping into something less, "let's escape to the most shallow end of the literary pool" during nap time to something with a little more meat on its bones (I have this spiritual memoir) because we all know the road to success is paved with the best of intentions. I'm TERRIBLE about just stupidly zoning out on my phone when the kids go down so ... I figured out how to download e-books from the library (welcome to adulthood, Grace) which has been a total and guiltless game changer.

More exercise: I guarantee if there were some way (well, I'm sure a Fitbit could totally tell you) to show how active/inactive we were month by month ... January would be a tiny blip on my chart. I'm prone to move very, very little when it's cold which is stupid. If he's not working overnight Simon usually gets home with just enough time for me to hand off Theo and Phoebe and take the older kids to the gym for the last ~30 minutes of gym daycare at night which they love and then Theo gets some much-needed third wheel love while Phoebe is in bed and I get 28 minutes of cardio/people watching. I never want to go (end of the day! let me just drape myself on the couch!) but I'm always so happy I did. And of course, during the day ... any bonus DVD action is a big plus.

More eating not-junk: After doing Whole30 in November ... I dove mouth-first into Thanksgiving and Christmas fare and felt the wrath of the crap and jumped right back on the Whole30 train on January first. I'm making it 99 times easier on myself (details to come in an entirely different post, party hats - find them!!) by allowing smoothies with compliant ingredients (so maybe I'm doing more of a 7/8 Whole30) and not stressing about eating compliant formerly frozen food when I need to (which is sort of often) to cut down on store runs and prep time and it's a lot easier and I feel so much better. Off my Whole30 soapbox because I know 99.9% of you do not care about that. 

Getting up before the kids: I hate this one. I know it's the secret to every mom's success but I get my best sleep from 4-7 every night/morning so this is tough. But! Once Theo starts cock-a-doodling around 6 and wanting a drink of water before he (usualllllly) goes back down for a bit, I'm alert enough (okay, back on my Whole30 soapbox for a sentence) thanks to a good night of sleep and lack of processed food hangover to get up and start getting breakfast ready and maybe even take a shower if the stars are aligned correctly. It makes the morning run SO much smoother than waking up to crying kids. But you already knew that, you early birds and your mouths full of worms, didn't you?

Anyway, no one has ever used the words "impressive" and "Grace Patton" in the same sentence so let's hold my Clydesdales and stop with four pillars of hope for the time being.

Anyway, aren't you glad I shared? Surely! You must be!

Any other feasible tactics I missed? I'm all hungry eyes.

And so is she.


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