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Don’t f*ck with me. Passing on a legacy. Preparing for pre-preschool and life.

I wrote this on 6/21/12, after I had been offered a new job, which I accepted and started in October. On this day, it became very real that I would have to send Sofie away to school/daycare at some point very soon and overwhelmed by this, I sat and cried and prayed and wrote this. I didn’t publish it because it seemed crazy to write a letter like this for a hypothetical situation. Some might accuse me of being…dramatic!

Today, I publish this piece because our Sofie starts a new toddler program on Monday!!! And, so here goes…

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I am preparing, in my mind, for when I send my daughter (my first born, my mothers name sake, my heart and soul, my little mirror, my perfect angel baby) to school or daycare for the first time. All the things I want to tell her come flooding through me and manifest as tears and a tight throat.

Baby girl, mommy loves you. I am always here for you. I will fight your fights with you, by your side. No matter how big or small. Did another kid take your toy? Did the teacher ask you to be quiet again (this is inevitable, you are my child, this is your legacy to be chatty and “social”…these are your gifts, not deficits or problems to be solved. We will talk more about that later.)? Did you forget your lunch or get teased for what you have for lunch? Whatever it is, I am by your side figuring it out WITH you. I am on your team.

Be brave in all you do. Have fun. Play with ALL the toys and ALL the kids. Be kind. Say thank you and please and excuse me. Take turns and share. You know how you love to give me a bite of everything you are eating. I love that about you! And your teachers might not want you to do that. Its ok. You are still the most generous child I have ever known.

These things I know you will excel at and be your true awesome self. You were born to be awesome. And I know you are going to love school and I know your classmates and teachers will love you and appreciate you too.

Stand up for yourself. This is the hardest lesson for me to prepare you for. Mommy wants to be there to protect you always from skinned knees and hurt feelings and everything else…and yet that wouldn’t be fair to you. You are capable of standing up for yourself and of protecting yourself. You are capable of so many things.

If someone hurts you or scares you or isn’t fair or makes you feel less than in any way, stand up for yourself. Use your words. Be kind and compassionate. Listen. Be direct and forth write. Speak the truth. It will set you free.

The truth will always set you free, baby.

And if you are still not being heard and respected, you tell them what my mommy told me when I was a little girl and felt powerless, you tell them, “*Don’t f*ck with me.” To anyone, at any time. And I will have your back. No questions asked. I have your back. No matter what. I trust you and if your boundaries are crossed and you say these words, I trust that you needed it and I will stand by you and fight your battle WITH you. Mommy is on your team.

(*True story, I will never forget that day or that lesson that my mom told me that I could say those words, even to the priests at my parochial school. I was shocked and forever armed.)

But mostly, I want you to know that you are allowed to feel these words, to know that you deserve to be respected, heard, that you are armed with these words and what they represent. And that you have me, by your side and at your back, equally armed with these words, because my mommy armed me with these words too. We are brave and tough and strong.

Now, make sure you eat breakfast, brush your teeth and hair, have your lunch, listen to directions, play, learn, make friends, and have fun, baby! That is what life is all about.

 

Little Red Couch

Little Red CouchWe bought a little red couch this weekend at an Estate Sale! It was kind of sad actually. I think an elderly woman had passed away. Everything was being sold. Cars, house, and every single item in her house. I felt like a pillager walking through without permission or in a riot. There were a lot of people there.

We walked through each room. Closets open, drawers open. Stickers with numbers sharpie’d onto them on every single thing in that house. It felt hallow and abandoned.

We walked us stairs and then I saw her. Buried under a pile of linens and pillows. The little red couch. You didn’t think I meant…no, come on.

*I have a strange habit of personifying things, mostly clothes, by referring to them as ‘her’. Picked it up from a friend when we were teenagers and it seemed super cool then. It stuck.*

She was beautiful. Little, red and has a pull out single bed. She was a little worn looking. But I knew right away I could shine her up like a new penny.

Thanks to Pinterest for your endless relevant information and this little ditty. Who knew you can use hydrogen peroxide on unidentified stains and spots and it will lift them out. I knew it would take blood stains out and whiten your teeth and kill unwanted germs and bacteria and whiten laundry, but a couch stain. I bow down to you, Hydrogen Peroxide.

Anyway, I love, love, love the idea of a pre-owned couch anytime, but at this stage of our lives, especially. I love to recycle, reuse and repurpose. I love not spending full price. (I have been swooning over a similar couch for years that retails for over $1000. ) I love knowing that when my dog tries to sleep on my new little red couch whilst muddy or my toddler decides to wipe her blueberrie’d face on it, that I wont freek out. Its used and I have the power of Hydrogen Peroxide on my side.

So, thank you to little red couch and welcome to our family. You were as longed for as our child and just as much as a pleasant surprise when you graced our lives.

 

Pinterest Explained: 5 Step Guide

Hi. My name is Mia. And I am a Pinterest-aholic. (I mean no disrespect to the 12 step communities here. Just my attempt at a laugh or smile or community around a shared vice. Anyway…)

I find myself talking about Pinterest more and more these days. It’s seeping into my spare time, my party planning, visioning, projects, reference items, wish lists and casual conversation.

Several months back, I declared on Facebook, in one of the only status updates I’ve offered since having a baby, “Dear Facebook, I am cheating on you with Pinterest“. It was met with “lols” and “likes” for those in the know (read: fellow addicts) and lots of questions and even hurt from Pinterest virgins (read: not in the know). And it was true. I nearly never logged in to Facebook anymore, which used to be a constant fixture on my quick links or one of my Perma Tabs (back in my Firefox days) and instead now spend almost all my social media time on Pinterest.

So, to the point at hand, I thought I would share a few quick things to explain this tool I have fallen head over heals in love with and often can’t pull myself away from. Here goes…

What is Pinterest?

  • Its another social media tool, like Facebook or twitter
  • Its a visual wonderland
  • Its a really simple tool
  • Its a place to capture images (This is called “pinning”-more on that later)
  • Its also a place to capture video (although not used as often)
  • Its a place to organize what you capture onto customizable boards, topic specific (when you create an account, there are a few pre-set options to get you started)
  • Its a place to interact (hence, the social in social media)
Pinner

The language of Pinterest

  • Pin or pinning: capturing and saving images
  • Repin: pinning someone else’s pin to your own board
  • Pinner: (Rhymes with Sinner) A member of the Pinterest community, one who actively pins
  • Board: a topic specific placeholder for you to collect, again topic specific images

What is “Pinning” exactly?

Think of it in the physical world. Imagine reading a magazine and seeing the perfect dining room table for your new house. You want to save this picture so that you can start finding paint colors, chairs, chandelier, a centerpeice and all the other needed items to decorate your dining room. So, you tear or cut that picture out of the magazine. You decide to start collecting ideas into a folder where you put this picture and any other ideas to help you design and decorate this room. This folder or holding place in Pinterest is called a “board” and you can name it whatever you want. In this case, “Dining Room” might be a good name for your board.

Here is one of my current projects, “Sofie’s Room”, that I have created a board for and am gathering ideas. I am planning out Sofie’s room redesign, now that she is moving into toddlerhood. Feel free to repin something that might help your own project, “like” or comment on any of the items I have pinned.

Pinterest App on the iPhone

How do I pin?

  1. You can download the site’s browser bookmarklet, a button that says “Pin It” onto your bookmark bar
  2. You can upload images from your iPhone on the Pinterest iPhone app
  3. You can upload images directly on the Pinterest.com website with the Add+ button in the toolbar on the top right of the site

Where do I get these images to “pin”?

  • From other Pinners on Pinterest.com (This is where I spend a lot of my Pinterest time…directly on the site, binging on others pins.)
  • From anywhere on the internet, vendors where you shop (e.g. Target), blogs you read, periodicals (e.g. NYT.com)
  • From photos that you take (often a great way to use the iPhone app)
So, wait, how does it work exactly ? Here’s a 5 Step Guide, Step by Step…
Step 1: Let’s say you are on favorite site, say Annie’s Eats (yummy blog)
Step 2: You come across a great recipe on homemade bagels and you think, “I want to make those bagels!” But, not right this minute. I need to hold on to that recipe.
Step 3: Aha! You are now a savvy pinner and decide to use your new favorite social media to hold on to that little recipe. And you’ve already downloaded the bookmarklet onto your Bookmark Toolbar, so you hit “Pin It” and this shows up-all the images on the current page for you to choose from:
Step 4: Then, you select the image you want and hit the “Pin This” button over the image. The second image looks the most decadent and will be a great visual reminder of the yummy bagels I want to make from this awesome recipe, compliments of Annie’s Eats.
Step 5: Then you get a screen pops up that asks you which board you want to pin this image to with a drop down menu (first picture below), then you have the option to add a description (second picture below). I would suggest adding something here that helps you remember what this pin is, exactly. For example “a recipe” or a DIY guide or tutorial. This way you will know if its just a picture of something you made vs. a recipe to help you make something in the future. Once you have added a description, you hit “Pin it”. Lastly, you get the option to “See your Pin” on your board, Tweet it or share on Facebook (third picture below). Or you can just close this box and get back to internet surfing or pinning.
Waalaaa! You are now a successful Pinner!
What makes it social in the social media world?
  • You can repin, comment and “like” other pins from other pinners
  • You can follow any other pinner-either all their boards or select any of their boards to follow
  • Other pinners are able to follow your boards
  • You can collaborate with other pinners on the same board (Planning a bridal shower? You and your fellow ladies in waiting can share a board and each add inspirations, ideas, details of the food, decorations, invitations, you name it.) To be more clear, collaborating on a board means that all parties or pinners can pin images to the same board.
A few tips and points of ettiquette…
  • You can add videos…not often used, but also a great option for your pinning pleasures
  • If you add an item onto a wish list board for example, you can add the amount is costs using a $ sign (for us US currency folks) and it will appear on the image in a banner on the left of the image. Great for a budget bound project, like a birthday party or to capture items I want for my birthday…ahemmm, hubby, if you are reading, this is hint-worthy information, an Easter egg (in Lost language) for you to make your gift giving easier for said wife
  • Use a 5 to 1 ratio…for every 5 repins, pin 1 novel image. This keeps things interesting or pinteresting, as the case may be. (Chuckle, snort, chuckle.)

And lastly, here are a bunch of great articles that my brilliant and way more in the know husband has sent me about Pinterest. He has not created an account for himself yet, but in the language of Strengths, a few of his top strengths are Learner, Input and Context…AND he is a GTD guru, so when it comes to all things social media, education, business, or just plain brilliant,  he is my supplier (read this with a Chicagoan, Italian mob gangster accent replacing the -ier with an- a. It makes it way more fun!) When he saw how excited I was at my new social media obsession, he started researching. So, I will share some of them with you here:

Check out my Pinterest page and see all my boards!

This is my first tutorial, how did I do? If you are new to Pinterest, did this help? If you are familiar with Pinterest, was this informative and hit the basics?

Thanks for reading and happy pinning!

Establishing Easter Traditions

Disclaimer: If you are under the age of 12 years old: Spoiler Alert! Stop reading this post. But then again, I am not sure anyone in that age group would be reading this. Anyway…

Easter is in two weeks and just recently my husband and I looked at each other and for the first time realized, “oh crap, WE are the Easter bunny!” Thankfuly, this epiphany hit us whilst at Target. Hello $1 aisle. How are you? Please rescue me for yet another holiday.

[Now, I am fully aware that this aisle is full of plastic crap made exclusively in China and the moral damage and implications of thoughtlessly, American-ly filling my basket with unnecessary, shiny things for the immediate gratification and temporary satisfaction of simply grabbing as much as I can, as fast as I can. Yes, I am that kind of fussy human that preaches talks about sustainability and fair trade and organic and materialism/capitalism and minimalism. But what I have also learned in the 12 months and 4 weeks of being a mom is that convenience often trumps all other previously held notions or preoccupations. C'est la vie. But back to the point of this post...]

Sofie's First Easter 2011

A picture from Sofie’s first Easter, which was a non-event really because my husband got very sick and it was slowly going around to each of us, so it was more of an infirmary than a day of easater egg hunts and brunch. *Please note the Target $1 aisle bunny ears.

So, (back to Target) I started frantically grabbing as much shiny pastel easter bunny themed and toddler friendly stuff as I could hold we  lovingly filled our basket with a few $1 items, which spawned a great conversation about our favorite traditions for this lovely spring holiday and celebration of our faith.

In my family, my mom would hide our elaborate Easter baskets outside in our yard and garden, so that on Easter morning we would gather each other as a family (we had strict rules about the kids waking each other up before anyone saw any of the surprises or walked into the kitchen area to see the breakfast feasts for Easter or Christmas! We fought a lot as siblings, but we were religious about this courtesy and camaraderie with one another on our favorite holidays.)

Me and my baby brother on Easter morning!

My family would:

  • hunt for our Easter baskets, which usually each had different colored cellophane wrapping, and open them up together as a family. Our baskets were filled with the classic Easter candies like peeps, egg shaped chocolates, often a See’s candies Easter themed box of chocolates and suckers, some toys and a whole lot of joy. My mother was amazing at making our holidays magical. In my child’s mind, those Easter baskets were the equivalent of Willy Wonka’s factory-colorful, fanciful, delicious and decadent. These are big shoes to fill as a mom!
  • get dressed in our spring-y sun dresses, hats and white sandals
  • head off to mass held outside in the Arizona sunshine
  • head over to my Aunt’s house for brunch, an Easter egg hunt, swimming, playing games  like crochet or ping pong, and lazing about in her citrus orchard of a yard. Another word about the Easter eggs hunts at my Aunt and Uncles’ house. When we were young, these were elaborate and the gold egg always had money in it. This was literally GOLD to us, in our younger years. Now, looking back, I am pretty sure it was a handful of coins or a single silver dollar (bonus points here!), but it made your whole day if you found this special egg. Eggs were hidden all over their large property, in the citrus trees, on the roof, in the pool, you name it, it was a HUGE event.

One of my husbands favorite traditions is the Easter bunny’s footprints leading up to their Easter baskets in the living room. His mom would make bunny foot prints using powdered sugar. Totally cute! That would have totally blown my mind as a kid. And as a parent, I pretty much live to see Sofie’s mind blown with delight.

We plan on recreating many of these favorites for our little family. What are your favorite Easter traditions?

Check out my Pinterest board for Easter inspiration!

Ease Your Aching Back

 

I have tossed and turned the last several nights. My back hurts. The kind of hurt where if you move the wrong way, you gasp and freeze and pain shoots into your guts. Okay, that might not be accurate. I tend to be dramatic sometimes. But you get it, back pain. We have all had it. Anyway, I read this little ditty of a tip a few weeks ago on a blog I am in love with, Mama and Baby Love, and let me tell you, IT WORKS.

So, first, raid your dogs toy basket, go on a walk by a tennis court or run to your closest Target and get yourself a tennis ball. I raided our Golden Retriever, Zoe’s basket of balls.

Zoe's Basket o' Balls

Next, lay on the floor, put the ball between you and the floor and rub those knots right out of your life. Its not exactly comfortable while doing this activity mind you, but you will thank yourself later.

The only thing I did differently is not use a sock. Not sure what the sock actually does, but I was eager to try the tennis ball trick and before I invested my time in finding a sock that worked, I plopped down on my dog hair covered floor and started working out my back knots. Ahhh. Still worked like a charm.

Give it a try and let me know if it works for you!

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In related news, as I am writing this post, my sweet husband send me a great article on Cheap Ways to Relieve Your Aching Back from another of our favorite blogs, Get Rich Slowly. Perhaps I have underestimated just how much complaining to my husband tossing and turning I have done the past few nights. Sorry, honey.

In not-so-related news, Sofie just slept 2.5 hours, which helped facilitate the writing of this blog post. Thank you, honey. I hope you still sleep tonight.