Moms Doing Awesome Things on The Internet

I saw this article in the Star Tribune the other day and I just thought, “Moms are awesome!” We do all these regular mom things every day PLUS we are killing it online. Check out these two examples that are guaranteed to make you say, “That is SO me.”

The Wild Morning 
This is a soon-to-be book and cool Instagram account that chronicles morning routines for moms in my neck of the woods. I mean these women are much more photogenic than I am, but basically we all tackle the same stuff while we’re trying to get caffeinated and make sure our humans are properly cleaned.

Cat & Nat: For Moms Like Us
The #momtruths on this YouTube channel will likely result in you peeing your pants (note: the chances are higher among moms of multiple children). Check out their website, I promise you’ll want to be friends with these two.

Books for Bad Ass Ladies: A Review

If you’re a mom, you probably only have time to read when you’re locked in the bathroom or in the middle of the night when all the other humans FINALLY leave you alone. And if you’re a working mom like me, you sometimes need a little extra reassurance that being a woman with a career is okay too. These two books helped push me through a tough stretch of work and helped me refocus on what I want out of a job. So if you’ve got a few minutes alone (I got the stomach flu, that helped), check these out.

#GIRLBOSS
Sophia Amoruso


Before I read this book, I wasn’t familiar with the story of Nasty Gal and the amazing path of its CEO. A big takeaway for me from Sophia Amoruso is that sometimes unconventional education is the best education. I have the stereotypical B.A., liberal arts education that you’d expect from someone who has a blog for fun. She doesn’t and she’s killing it. When she didn’t have money and didn’t know how to do something, she just Googled it and watched free videos on YouTube. Don’t get me wrong, I am pro-school. I come from a family that deeply values education. But I do think there’s something to be said for teaching yourself something on your own. When I was like, “I think I should start a blog,” I had no idea how to do that. I bought a book, read some articles online and when things started to get technical, watched some YouTube videos. Figuring shit out by yourself is what you do if you’re a true #GIRLBOSS and I’m definitely on board with that.
I also dig Amoruso’s ideas on functioning in the workplace. In my current role, I’m often asked to do things that are not quite on par with what I believe my position entails. Amoruso describes scenarios where she’s out packing inventory, working in the warehouse. She’s the CEO. This was kind of a kick in the ass for me, reminding me that nobody likes the co-worker who won’t lend a hand. Last month, I was thoroughly disgusted when I was asked to warm up the tea of an upper level manager, thinking (not saying) something along the lines of, “I’m not a personal assistant.” But the reality of this is sometimes you’ve got to suck it up for your end goal of being a #GIRLBOSS and I need to do more of that.
I devoured this book in a week. Put it on your list, working mom. We need more #GIRLBOSSES.

Better Than New
Nicole Curtis


If we talk about these books in terms of their similarities, Better Than New and #GIRLBOSS are both about women paving their own way. But where #GIRLBOSS represents what I’m capable of achieving in the future, Better Than New is a glimpse back at what I’ve left behind and kind of want to forget. Curtis had a string of bad jobs, terrible boyfriends, cross-country moves and tough parenting decisions that hopefully do not represent where I’m headed. What Curtis does is definitely bad ass, and she looks like a babe doing it (Rehab Addict is the only Andy-approved HGTV show, wonder why…) but she still seems like she’s not super together. Maybe there’s something redeeming in that. Sometimes it’s good to know that celebrities are real people and we’re all kind of in the same boat when it comes to being a hot mess. I mean I can totally relate to the terrible jobs (minus the Hooters experience). And I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a single parent, let alone one who is on TV. From Better Than New though, the takeaway for me was that women can venture into uncharted territory, like rehabbing houses, and come out alive. It might not be pretty, but Curtis did it, and so can you, reader of the mommy blog.

 

People You Should Know: Shameless Plugs for Good Humans

To say my week has been stressful is an understatement. Work has been a bear cat, germs are taking over my house and every single person I’ve tried to get in touch with in the last three months schedule meetings with me for this week. Perfect. It’s finally Friday and even though I’m wiped, I’m in better shape thanks to a few good humans. In return, this is my shout out to them and their businesses, which you should definitely check out.

  • My friend Jose is so creative. He went out of his way this week to have coffee with me, take me to his networking group and to listen to my pitch for a product idea. He’s an awesome designer and has his hands in every single kind of project you can image. Here’s his website as well as one of the games he created.

  • OZ Lifting Products LLC is an awesome company to be associated with. I often work on their manuals for them and was able to take a tour of their facility this week, courtesy of my friend Greg Lucas. Let me tell you, if you’re in the market for industrial products, these are your guys. They are true believers in quality.
  • My friend Katy is the ultimate #ladyboss. She runs her own insurance agency while also managing to be friends with me, hot-mess-express Sara. She’s who we should all aspire to be in the business world. See what American Family Insurance services she provides here.

Caroline’s Custom Kitchen

I don’t mean to brag, but I’m a good shopper. Andy would probably correct that sentence to say “good spender.” This last Christmas we were discussing what to get for Caroline. We just wanted to do one big gift (less toys to clean up, always an ulterior motive) and we had decided on a play kitchen. I, of course, thought I would just Craigslist one (it’s kind of my thing). But Andy had a better idea…DON’T TELL HIM I SAID THAT. He immediately pulled up some images online and showed me how he could build a kitchen for Caroline instead. I can’t be trusted with a pizza cutter (more on this), let alone a power tool, but he’s good at this kind of thing, so my skillful shopping would have to go on the back burner. Sorry for the bad kitchen joke, I couldn’t resist.

I relinquished control to Andy and put him wholly in charge of this project. He didn’t disappoint. Here’s a breakdown on what he did to pull this off, as told by a person who did 0% of the work and has absolutely no technical knowledge.

  • We scrounged up an old cabinet that served as the basic structure for the kitchen. One cabinet functions as a cupboard, where we store play food, and the other as an oven. Andy rotated the hinges to the bottom on the oven side. He installed chains on the inside so that the door wouldn’t fall to the ground and smash little toes.
  • Burners for the stove were created out of cork board, black spray paint and adhesive spray. Oven knobs are real replacement knobs, attached with screws so that they can still spin. 
  • The sink is a stainless steel bowl, dropped into a cutout that matches its diameter (it hangs down into the cupboard side, but takes up little space). Andy added a faucet with twistable knobs to help it feel more real for Caroline.
  • The oven rack is fashioned out of a cooling rack. Andy also added a battery-operated motion sensor light to the top of the oven so that when you reach inside, the light turns on. Caroline loves this part.
  • All surfaces were sanded and repainted and we purchased new hardware. Total, the project ran us about $60-$70. It was worth every penny.

Not only does this look better in our house than a plastic kitchen, it has been a major source of entertainment for Caroline this winter. I’m actually attending a picnic with food prepared in her kitchen as I write this. Gifting it to her was also one of the best Christmas memories I have to date. We honestly sat and watched her play with it for hours, just happy to see her so happy.

If you want actual details on how to build this, send me a message and I’ll let the expert respond. You know, the guy who can actually cut a pizza.

Toys for the inbetweener: What to buy for the not quite three-year-old

In my office, I’m the youngest mom. Other people have kids, but I’m the only one living the toddler tornado as we speak. That means I’m the go-to person for Christmas and birthday ideas for young nieces, nephews and grandchildren. Age always comes up in these requests, something like, “What do two-year-olds like?” But kids are only exactly two for a hot minute, so I’ve compiled a list of toys that I’ve purchased for kids (including my own) in that two to three-year gap.

Pretend Play
Little Tikes Count ‘n Play Cash Register Playset
Kids this age are always being dragged to the store with their parents. Caroline even knows about pushing the buttons on the credit card reader (note to self, hide my wallet). I gifted this cash register to a little guy for Christmas and it was a hit with both him and C. It incorporates two of their favorite things, opening drawers and acting like mom.

KidKraft 63330 Tasty Treat Pretend Play Food Set
Andy built Caroline an awesome kitchen out of an old cabinet this Christmas, so all things cooking were on top of our toy list. This is a HUGE set of play food and it’s held up pretty good in the month we’ve had it. The pieces have endured multiple toddlers and a rambunctious pup with little destruction.

Melissa & Doug Stainless Steel Pots and Pans Pretend Play Kitchen Set for Kids
These are adorable. They might actually be nicer than my own pots and pans. We bought them for C’s kitchen and they’re the perfect size for a two to three-year old. Added bonus that they look and sound real so there is less raiding of mom’s cupboards.

Prepping for a Sibling
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Cute and Cuddly Baby Margaret Plush
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a favorite in our house, so when we stumbled upon the episode about Daniel getting a little sister, we jumped on it as an opportunity to introduce the idea to Caroline. This plush is adorable, comes with its own blanket, and pairs nicely with the book listed below. A lot of two to three-year olds are about to become a big brother or sister, so this is a great gift if that’s the case.

The Baby Is Here! (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood)

Bath Time
Bath time ranks pretty high with toddlers of this age. Caroline will drop everything (including her drawers) when I ask if she wants to take a bath. Two bath products she loves are the Crayola Color Bath Dropz and the Little Tikes Bath Time Tea set. The Bath Dropz are a fun experiment. She likes to pick a couple, toss them in, and see what the color of the bath water is going to be that night. These don’t stain the tub, the kid, or the towels, if you’re wondering. She also loves this tea set and sharing a cup with Zoey, who happily drinks the bath water (she’s gross, I know).

Little Tikes Bath Time Tea

Crayola Color Bath Dropz 3.59 Ounce

On the Road
Fisher-Price Doodle Pro Trip

Kids this age are often at the mercy of their parents and siblings, being hauled over the place in the car. We bought this miniature Doodle Pro for C when we went on a road trip last summer. It’s car-seat sized and provides endless entertainment. I bought this on a recommendation from another parent of a similarly aged kiddo. She was totally right.