"Seasoned" Motherhood Rantings...

When I started this blog over five years ago, my life was in quite the different place. I had a one year old, a 2 1/2 year old and a just turned 5 year old. Now... they are 10, 7 and 6. All in elementary school. No more diapers. No more nightly feedings. No more 5-point harness carseats. No more high chairs or baby bjorns. I do have to say, the cuddling has done nothing but increase. But I always thought things would get easier at least for a time- these precious moments of fantastic ages prior to hormones and drama. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: it never gets easier. It’s just a different kind of hard. Regardless of what stage you are in, it is just freaking hard. There are always problems; doubts, feelings of failure and constant exhaustion. Sorry to say, but I haven’t slept through the night in 10 years.

What’s funny to me now is I’m entering the stage of being a “seasoned” mom (That does not mean I know what I am doing, it means I don’t panic over forgotten homework or give two craps about what others think about me at this point). I still don’t feel mature enough to be in this stage, but the fact of the matter is that my youngest is now in kindergarten. (Please don’t ask what I do all day or when I’m going back to work--> here is your answer). Having my youngest in kindergarten, I have come to find so many little things that have changed since the first two. Realizations, really. It happened in preschool as well. When your first child starts school, you are ALL about it-- making mommy friends, planning playdates at the park, etc. You figure out who your child is drawn to and hope you connect to their mom in some remote way. I was super fortunate to have made great preschool mommy friends who I still go to lunch with even today. By Liv's pre-K year, her great little group of friends was split up and my sister was the only other mom in the class that I knew. I became THAT mom- the one who made absolutely zero effort at class parties or drop off/pick up. I was the mom who DIDN'T have another baby crawling up my leg while trying to participate in field trips. Having just my youngest child there put me in a different category- the "seasoned" one. I have always been one of the youngest moms of all of my kids' friends (I had Summer at 23, I was a baby myself!) But I have started to look around and notice that I am not necessarily that young mom anymore. 
Now that Olivia is in kindergarten and I have three children in one school, you would think I'd be a pro. Ha. It isn't so much of being a pro- my effort just isn’t there. Making new REAL friends? Ugh. We better immediately click and have a major thing in common called wine. Being a “seasoned” mom has shown me several things, most of which just make me sound like a terrible human so be forewarned: 

Birthday parties. I hate them. Yes, we all have them. They make our children gloriously happy which is obvi worth it... I mean I just threw a (rescheduled due to puking) one the other weekend. You have three types of parents here. 1- The ones you don’t really know and it is their first child so they sit there the whole time with the awkward small talk. 2- The ones who drop their kid and sign the waiver so fast that you may have just dreamt you saw them. 3- Your actual friends who are weird enough to stay and hang out with you (or will go to the nearest bar with you for a quick cocktail during the party). The Number 1’s have the awkward attempts to engage with their child for sheer human interaction and because they feel uncomfortable. I have been a Number 1 countless times. What I have now realized is that, Number 1's- you might think you are being nice by staying for the party, but unless your child is the devil reincarnated and you can keep them in line, just don't do it. I get it though- when else are you going to even meet your children's friends parents? Instead of staying at the party, plan a mommy's drink night out. When people are not around their kids with an adult beverage, it is a whole new world out there. For the record, it’s not like I am anti-new friends... It’s just during a 90 minute party with 20+ kids and gymnastics mats that smell like feet isn’t the most opportune time to become besties. Birthday parties suck and take over your precious weekend, but like I get it. A necessary evil for us all. Another huge annoyance with these is if I have forgotten to order a present from Amazon in enough time. (I have actually started resorting to Amazon gift cards in certain dire situations. Definitely a bonus of them getting a little older). 

Carpool line/Bus Stop. Dear Lord, please give me the patience and grace to not hate the entire world during this window of time. Our school in particular made a very cute and specific video literally showing exact instructions of what to do and what not to do during the chaos that is pickup (so nicely accompanied by music that would be better utilized in a soft-core porn video, as stated by a friend accidentally in front of the Vice Principal at Back-to-School night). I realize I am a rule-follower in general in my life, but the blatant failures and straight up disrespect of decent human common courtesy is just appalling. One such complaint is a young woman who casually pulls into a handicap spot, leaves a younger child in the car, and goes over to wait for her student by the door. 1- Handicap spots are there for a reason. I see many sweet old grandparents with the appropriate tag hobbling out of their cars to go pick up their grandchildren. 2- I have a dear friend who is in a wheelchair, and she actually depends on these spots (and the lines around them) to be able to park, assemble her wheelchair and get herself out of her car. The flagrant misuse of these spots irked me so much that I have now downloaded an app to be able to report such offenders. I haven’t used it yet (it is a special level to get out of your car and take all of the pics required to submit the complaint). In a pinch, I can always use one of these amazeballs papers (one of my best purchases of all times): 

Carpool line sucks. Straight up. The bus stop is a different kind of evil, yet another scenario in which people don't understand what is appropriate or not appropriate (read: learn to drive and don't be rude blocking us all in). Yet again, I am THAT mom who hides in her car pretending to be on the phone. (Disclaimer: my bus stop is horrid on so many levels, so you can't judge me too hard).  

Play dates. Whatever happened to just going outside to play and coming home when it was dark? My kind of play date is one where I barely see my child, no massive messes have occurred and no one is crying or bleeding at the end. The play dates where 1- You have to create activities and entertain them the whole time? Um no. 2- Your child is rude, disrespectful to me or my husband or acts entitled? Negative Ghostwriter. 3- I am breaking up fights constantly? Arghhhh. I guess I have the fortune (or misfortune) of having all girls. They play together, fight together, work it out, and then repeat the process. They are 3 girls within 4 years of each other so their interests aren’t too varied in the girl spectrum. Adding another child to the mix is risky. If they mesh, I have a 4th daughter no prob. If they don't, maybe we can try again when they get a little older. (Disclaimer- I do understand those with different genders and the challenges that may entail, causing the play date pushiness). I am just so much more into the "last minute, text me and if we are free, awesome" type of thing. If it is planned more than a week out, I just can't make those kinds of commitments. I don't even know what we are having for dinner tonight. 

Class parties. Here’s another one where you stand around awkwardly watching your child play bingo or do a Valentine's craft barely giving you a glance. Fortunately for me, I have three classes to go to so just as I get to my awkward extreme I will make the excuse to pop into one of my other girls classes. I have been room mom before and the pressure to make these class parties fun for all while parents sit around and watch (please, just help out) is real. And please don't judge the snacks that are served. One year we had a child with peanut, treenut, strawberry, shellfish, wheat and soy allergies. Fortunately the child brought his own food, but we wanted him to still feel apart of at least most of the fun. (I will say, the donut on the string game was the hit of the century and I was quite proud of that party if I do say so myself). 

Activities. The logistics of having three different children who enjoy different sports and whatnot is a mental mindscrew. I want them to have all of the opportunities that they want to play or try whatever they want... but the fact of the matter is, I am one human and we can't do it all. I can't be at three places at once. Matt is a superhero in helping me with all of this, and finding carpools is so clutch if you are fortunate enough. My calendar can often be a logistical nightmare. Not to mention the HOURS spent in the car driving them all to and from wherever, bringing the appropriate clothes/equipment, and making sure snacks are had, homework somehow gets done, and a semblance of dinner is made. This isn't so much as a rant but a source of serious anxiety when the calendar starts to look like an origami puzzle that can't be solved. I do miss the days that were swim lessons once a week for 30 minutes... and I know this one is only going to get more complex with age. 

I realize all of these things are my own personal silly pet peeves that I try not to let myself be bothered by. Maybe all of these rants come down to the fact that I just don’t love people. That may sound as a shock to you because I can come across as outgoing and socializing most of the time. Matt read this before I posted and was like... um I hope people don't think you are an uber-crazy B who hates the world and never wants to have a playdate or go to a birthday party. I'm not (most of the time), I promise. What I have discovered about myself is that I am technically an extroverted introvert <--link here for some signs you are too (Except for #10- I may get awkward with a compliment but oh who doesn't love them?). I need my alone time to recharge and feel human again. I am queen of the Irish Goodbye (just ghosting without saying anything)-- not to be rude, but because I am just done and don't want to bring anyone else down. I can tell (and Matt most definitely can as well) when I just NEED to be ALONE. And he is adorable and will take the girls out to dinner or something to give me a minute. Although they are 10, 7 and 6, they still need me quite a bit both physically and mentally. But I will tell you one thing- please don’t say, “Oh just wait til they are teenagers” or “Little people, little problems. Big people, big problems.” Just shhhhhh for the moment. Because in my opinion, whatever your current situation is, it is hard. And it was hard for everyone who came before you, no matter what current stage they are in. 

Happy Wednesday! 


These Silly Adulting Things...

As stated by the great Chili Davis, "Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional." (Obviously had to look up who said that quote) With just a few days left in my 32nd year, I have come to realize that I genuinely avoid adulting whenever I possibly can. Pretty sure I avoid it more and more each year, perhaps in part because I have come to acknowledge my weird phobias and quirks... and frankly I'm okay with them. I've somehow managed. Successfully? That's debatable. But I've managed enough to exist and kind of get away with daily living.

The following is a list of things that I weirdly don't feel old enough to do. Either I have an odd fear, or it just is way too mature and real-life-y. On the other hand, when I do accomplish said-items, I get a ridiculous sense of adultness and maturity... like internal pride to a level that is way elevated in relation to the size of the task. And sometimes I would really love a high-five. There is nothing on the list that even remotely makes sense, but welcome to my brain and neuroses. Let me begin. 

1. Going to the dry cleaner. This isn't something I particularly avoid now that I know how it works, but this one just give me a strange sense of "having it all together." I, clearly, do not. I'm not sure if this is from movies or tv shows, but a housewife with dry cleaning is just the epitome of maturity... so to pretend with hangers of starched clothing covered in plastic gives me a total Susie Homemaker vibe and like I'm really killing it in the adulting department. 

2. Giving the babysitter instructions. I have three kids, my oldest being nine years old. You'd think I'd be used to it by now. I can't help but think as I'm spouting off bedtimes and no eating in the family room rules... Am I really the parent in this situation? I swear it was yesterday that I was the babysitter, making $5 an hour and saving up to buy a TV with the VCR in it so I could record Dawson's Creek. Who are these three children whom I created, carried in my stomach and am fully responsible for? When did that happen? And how am I supposed to be the professional on them and tell you how to care for them? 

I am not alone. And these memes keep me thinking that way. 

3. Having any type of repair person at my home. First of all, don't rape and kill me, k? Second of all, I feel like I never fully understand what I should be doing while they are there. Do I stand over them awkwardly? Do I pop in and out from the area they are working on? I already typically have to apologize for the mess they have to step over to reach whatever is broken and I kinda don't want to stand there while he moves Barbies from in front of the air conditioning thingy. So I awkwardly sit in the kitchen without my glorious trash TV shows on, (lest he judges me and my love for Bravo and the Kardashians), and mess around on my computer until I hear him walking which is when I leap up and pretend like I'm doing something meaningful other than listening for his every move and browsing the sale at South Moon Under. It turns into a double bill- repair and new sweater. 

4. Calling to make any type of appointment. I think I just like to be totally prepared for what I need to say and know exactly what they are going to ask me. I can't deal with crazy surprises, like "Can you do next Thursday at 2pm." Ugh like I don't know, can I? When I need to actually make these phone calls, I have to amp myself up, get everything out in front of me that I could possibly need, and lock myself in my closet. And I still freak out. Call me a millennial, but for the love of all things holy, give me an appointment request situation online. And also, don't call me to confirm the appointment I just made online. I did it online for a reason. So I didn't have to talk to you!!! 

5. Calling to order food (I guess you can say I am anti-any type of phone call, really). I'm telling you, it is a phobia. The comedian Jim Gaffigan totally nailed it in one of his shows- look it up. But the person on the other line talks so ridiculously fast and I can hear clanging and mania in the background, so inevitably I completely freeze and have absolutely no idea what I was ordering or who I am or where I live. Any online ordering app is my BFF. I actually have an entire folder on my phone dedicated to food apps. I guess this phobia applies to all areas of ordering food with a real human while not seated at a restaurant. Why would I wait in the line at Panera with the masses, just to have someone yell "I can help the next person in line!" and go totally blank on the you-pick-two items I want from the vast menu above my head that is always changing and seems to have morphed from English to Vietnemese before my very eyes? I inevitably screw something up, forget a drink, get a yogurt for the child who wanted soup, you name it. Rapid Pick-up people. All.the.way. If I ever do have no other option but to dial a number and order food, the sense of relief when I hang up is palpable. Then I do a happy dance, unlock myself from the closet with pride and tell the girls that dinner is on its way. 

6. Going to the post office/UPS store. Come on, does anyone ever know what they are doing when they go to the post office? How do you know which box to pick? How much does this weigh? Is this packaged right? What do I do and can someone please help me? I once mailed a wedding gift that was fragile and because I'm an idiot smiling dumbly saying "Um, sure," shipping the thing cost more than the present itself! Like was it packaged in unicorn hair? Some people have a strange gift of being able to mail things and it simply has a little sticker that says $4.77 in the corner. Matt's grandmother is one of those people. So normal and packaged properly... one of my goals in life. I mean, even the stamp machine always seems to be broken when I step foot in the post office. Zappos has actually changed my life a bit in regards to this fear though. Re-taping the same box, printing out my free return label and just dropping it off at the counter while all those suckers stand waiting in line gives me an inflated sense of joy and confidence. 

7. Having cleaning people. Every other Wednesday in the Simmons home are the very best days of the entire month. The lemony smell as I walk in the door is like angels singing to me. Glee fills my heart and I inhale the glorious scent of cleanness. Anyone can walk in the door and I'll breezily be like, "Oh come on in, sorry for the mess. Let me put this one dish away." (If they actually know me, they know my cleaners schedule and will laugh in my face). Who cares that I frantically get my children ready and out the door 30 minutes early to go hang out at my sister's house just so I don't have to face those poor women when they come in and see the trainwreck we have created in merely 14 days? I have said this before... I am just really not important enough to ever be around while someone is cleaning my dirt. And I swear, the girls bathroom looks like they literally paint the sinks with toothpaste all.the.time. Like I don't even know how they do it, it is actually impressive. My life has changed for the better on the "creepily parking down the street from my house so I know when they finally leave" front. Thanks to my snazzy garage door opener app, I am alerted every time it opens or closes so I can know the minute they are done and out the door. (Thank you, my dear friend Ryan at Gaithersburg Garage Door- after 2 new doors and a new motor in less than a year, I think we are some of your very best customers. Don't ask about the multiple doors. Just don't.) 

8. Ordering wine from an extensive menu. Look, I get the 6-pack carrier with an extra 10% off at Safeway like a boss. Most of the time I look for cute bottles, fun names, or ones that are typically more expensive but have a great sale price. I mean, paying $25 is really pushing it for me. It goes down just as fast as the $12.99 bottle. I'm not a snob. Or as I like to say, "I don't discriminate." Yes there are gross wines obviously, but I am pretty good at staying in my lane and picking up some good ones that I like and have no problem drinking. So when I'm put in a situation with a massive book of wines, I usually hand it right over to Matt (partially so I don't feel bad about how much the bottle costs). Recently we went with my brother and sister-in-law to RPM Italian in DC. It is Giuliana and Bill Rancic's place (E! News, my red carpet girl- c'mon) and both Cheryl and I were totally geeking out over it. When the sommelier came over to ask, Matt was already handling one phobia for me (he was in the lobby ordering pizza for the girls at home, which I wasn't doing because my Papa John's App was not loading- what horror!). So I was like errrrrr I'll do a Sauvignon Blanc I guess? She sensed the question mark at the end of that request, so she went into a whole spiel about this other one that I need to open my horizons to and it was just so beyond lovely and she would bring me a taste. I never say no to a free taste, especially when it is $15 a glass (and that would be the proper number of ounces, aka my glass had two drops in it. Ugh. I have gotten way used to the country club pour). 

It was the Vernaccia di San Gimignano (Say that five times fast. Or once, after a bottle of it), I did the little pretend swirl/sniff thing, oohed over it, and out came a bottle of it for a schmillion dollars. 

I should probably stop here before you think I'm certifiably insane. If you don't now, I'm sure I will affirm your suspicions in the near future. Somehow, despite these strong feelings regarding so many things in my adult life, I manage to maintain a relatively normal existence. I have my coping mechanisms (in the form of apps, preferably). Maybe I'll start calling people in my 40's. #goals 


Just, how???

Sometimes life just feels like it is passing by without enjoyment. Like I am trying to get through the week, only to be met with just another week. I anxiously await the weekend, but then- is catching up on DVRed shows on Sunday afternoon with Matt that amazeballs? Okay I withdraw that statement. It is. But anyways... another week happens. I'm still playing catch up in 99% of my life and the feeling of failure and chaos continues.

I've had a rather long week and a half with 2/3 girls plus myself getting a lovely virus, fever included. It was no stomach bug, but everyone felt pretty crappy... and having a child with a 103 degree fever lying on top of you all.night.long can be compared to bathing in hot coals. But I have been wondering something lately. This isn't meant to be a rhetorical question, or a silly one. How does everyone do it? No, but really. How? How do you get through the grind of each day? The often monotonous, yet exhausting, endless stream of chaos? Making lunches, driving carpool, eternal laundry, dishes that don't do themselves, activity sign-ups (on time, no less), birthdays, cleaning, forms from school, dinners, grocery shopping, 87 homemade Valentine's for everyone in the 3rd grade, keeping your kids in hole-less clothing in the appropriate size. doctor's appointments, dentist appointments, school parties, play dates, homework, buying shoes that fit before the correct season so you aren't frantically ordering snow boots on Amazon Prime while your poor child wears rain boots with plastic bags and 18 pairs of socks in three feet of snow (sorry Summer), volunteering, school projects, clean sheets, green pancakes on St. Patrick's Day, the logistics of multiple children in multiple sports on multiple days at multiple times. Let's not add in the whining and fighting and drama and feelings. Stick a fork in me if someone gets the stomach bug. 

I read a book recently. It actually wasn't recently, it was like the end of summer four years ago. The fact that I am still thinking about it should be telling. And also I'm pretty sure that everyone has read it by now... The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. It hooked me from page one, but turned into something so utterly different than I would have ever expected. I won't spoil anything, but the feeling that it left me with was the thoughtful consideration and questioning of every small and large decision I have ever made and will make in my life. Every decision you make has some sort of consequence, big or small. The notion that decisions and judgements you make every day can completely change the course of your life, and specifically your children's lives... I mean, so deep and stressful, am I right? Also though, when did life get so complicated? Do you ever feel like you are just screwing up your kids? Just absolutely, 100%, hands-down botching things? I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing or what is the right thing- multiply that times three different children with three different personalities and endless different needs, and thinking about the fact that what I decide for them now could actually affect their entire lives-- it is just a recipe for disaster.

I also know that in addition to questioning decisions on a daily basis, I do view certain things in a different way than others. Prior to the age of 18, my life was pretty much rainbows and butterflies and rose-colored glasses. I came from a childhood that was extremely free and innocent. I would leave in the morning to meet my friends; we would go play at the creek for hours, building forts, getting dirty, wandering. When it started getting dark, we would go home. If I was heading up my driveway and the dining room light was on, that was bad news and I knew I was late for dinner and epic stern looks were coming my way. Hours on end, no cell phones, no knowledge if I was ever coming back. That was the life and freedom I knew... it was phenomenal. And it is something I can't provide for my children. #yetanotherfailure. When I lost my dad, I lost that innocence along with him. I lost my safety net in life. I lost the idea that "bad things only happen to other people." I know terrible and tragic things can happen to anyone at anytime because it happened to me. The glass ceiling was shattered. It is a club you never want to get into but once you're in, it is eternal membership. That kindred spirit of "Yeah. I know." My heart actually hurts when I see others going through things, because it just has the tendency to take me back to the worst time in my life. I have to be careful how much I invest myself in tragedies because I can easily let it swallow me up. 

So where am I headed with this depressing, abysmal story?? Back to screwing up my kids, that's where. I start to get stressed with all of these decisions we have to make for/with them and if they are the right ones, particularly in the midst of the busy, complicated life that everyone seems to have now. Do you know the one massive positive I have in the middle of all of this? My person. Matt knows how to calm me, how to encourage me, how to get me a martini if I need it, how to let me be if that's what's best. He is my far superior half whom I really, truly, would drown in this madness without. He brings me back to earth and helps me know that we are doing our best and we have happy, healthy, (mostly) good children. 

So how does everyone do it? I'd love some hints. Like those Nintendo cheat codes that were everything in the 90's. An "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start" could be pretty freaking helpful at the moment I have to turn the car around for the 3rd time on the way to dive practice to get the bathing suit we forgot at the house (mid-the act of pouring the last drops of children's motrin for one, but post-having to locate another who forgot she was not supposed to be on the bus as I was sitting in the carpool line). I realize we are all so hard on ourselves which is honestly a big part of the problem. You may be able to tell, but I'm kind of the oversharing type. Shocker, I know. Just because I overshare doesn't mean I am confident in my decisions or failures or anything, really. 

In the midst of this monotonous, chaotic, complicated life, you do get glorious moments... Like the snuggles and the pride and excitement of showing you their clean room. The "I love you mommy's." And like the time your child who slices her finger while "moving" daddy's razor, explains to us that she is far more concerned about the large bandage on her middle finger because if she holds it up it means she "hates God." She's 6. But ya know, these babies just keep bringing us to the next day, next week... with even more opportunities for us to screw them up. 


The Tale of the Golden Pineapple...

I learned a heartbreaking lesson last week. One that will continue to haunt me for days, weeks, possibly even years to come. It was a silly mistake. Ridiculous, really. I'm shocked at myself because I never thought I would do something like this. 

One must never, ever ever EVER walk away from a golden pineapple at Home Goods. 

Strolling through the aisles crammed with chochkies and knick-knacks with my two youngest children, I had an original purpose of my trip. Some organizational items were needed, and I wanted to check out the bedding. Everyone knows that even if one has a purpose going to Home Goods, a quick peek through the aisles is essential. I walk by some shelves that appear to be dedicated to the gold theme, a theme I love very much. Something catches my eye more than everything else... there, sitting beautifully, is an 18 inch gleaming ray of randomness: a golden pineapple. Why would I want an 18 inch golden pineapple, one may ask? Why wouldn't I want an 18 inch golden pineapple is the real question. I pick it up, survey the beauty, and put it back down, thinking to myself, "I'll think about it and grab it if I don't buy a million other things." Yes, I know. Why not just put it in my cart? Well because I had two munchkins in my cart and space just really wasn't on my side. Terrible excuse. Given the fact that there were two of them sitting there, I walked away with confidence. 

Just a mere five minutes later I return to the shelf, tsking myself for even questioning the necessity of the purchaseConfused when I don't see it immediately, my heart begins to race. My eyes start darting around, praying that it was just in the wrong spot or I was mistaken as to the location. There were two sitting there. Now there are none. Starting to get frantic, I take eight additional tours of the store, recruiting both Layla and Livi to be on the lookout. I even ask the checkout woman if she had recently rung up a golden pineapple. "No," she says. She directs me to the probable location and and my heart sinks deeper as it is exactly where I just was. My children hear the panic in mommy's voice and become increasingly upset about our missing piece of happiness. "Are they twins?" a kind lady asks the question I get at least 10 times when I take them out of the house. I mumble my typical response, "No just really close in age," as my eyes continue to search past the curious stranger. 

After two more loops around the store, I catch sight of something in a woman's overheaping cart. There, under pillows, food canisters, and whatever else people with no soul buy at Home Goods, were BOTH of the golden pineapples. I just don't understand. Who is so selfish that they need TWO golden pineapples? My heart sank. I informed Livi and Layla that their detective eyes were no longer needed. Our mission was over and we failed. The golden pineapple was not to be ours. More upset than when our fish died, the girls tried to comfort me and each other. With our heads hanging, we checked out and left the store. 

Now at home, all I see is places that the golden pineapple would have flourished. I don't know if anything will truly be able to replace it. I'm sure I will try... but I'm not optimistic. I will forever try to use this as a learning experience and hope you will too. 


Exhaustion, Blackjack and Dottie the Vacuum...

I'm tired. Just so very tired. So tired that I googled a youtube makeup video to cover up dark circles and bags under my eyes. While I usually avoid the non-stop, too many commitments situation, sometime life happens and there is nothing you can do to avoid it. And it is unfortunate when the commitments are things you would be thrilled about if you weren't so exhausted. Yes, it didn't help that it was daylight savings time this week with the dreaded losing an hour of sleep. My children were in utter shock. 

Another jarring thing that occurred (other than losing an hour of precious sleep) this past week is that I legit dropped the ball not once, but twice. Not "Oops Summer didn't wear a hat to school on hat day." It was for real, straight-up, completely forgot about stuff on my calendar, didn't even realize I had forgotten them until the next day kind of thing. Ugh. 

One was the hour I was supposed to volunteer in Layla's class at school. This one really stabbed me in the heart. As the middle child, only 17 months older than her baby sister, born in the middle of nursing school... she is the child that I constantly feel guilty about. When she was an infant, I was studying and then pregnant four seconds later. As a toddler, it was the only period of time I was actually working. She rarely has ever had substantial alone time with me (Summer being the oldest has had tons, and Olivia is basically my butt-buddy on a daily basis through no choice of her own). I just feel like my little La has gotten the shaft, so when I fail in some way related to her, I feel 10 schmillion times the guilt. An hour of my week that she would have been thrilled to have me in class, I was an epic space cadet shopping at Costco. When I finally noticed it on my calendar the next day, I totally freaked out and emailed her teacher immediately. She is usually fantastic at responding and hasn't yet, so I think she officially hates me. Ugh. 

The second space cadet moment of the week was completely missing a kids party that has been on our calendar for months. Once again, Sunday afternoon I glance at my calendar and GASP not AGAIN!!!! While I usually put things like volunteering and appointments as reminders in my phone, I have a fully successful track record making it to parties I have RSVP-ed for (and even saw the friend throwing it on Friday and said, "See you tomorrow!"). Thankfully it was not a specific birthday party (can I blame not needing a present threw me off?) but I was completely horrified to be such a flake. I am one who, if I have committed to something, will be 100% be there unless something absolutely major has happened. Even if I am deathly ill in bed and actually have to bail, I feel totally guilty about it and apologize an awkward amount. 

So now, due to these recent brain farts, I live in a constant state of feeling like I'm forgetting something major. I have always kind of existed like that, but now, since I don't trust myself, I know the feeling could actually be reality which is quite the unsettling state. Even now as I am writing this, I was thinking about meeting Layla at lunch tomorrow to surprise her (she doesn't actually know I didn't show for volunteering, it would just be to appease my guilt). Oh wait, I already had to email Summer's teacher that I was not able to come for my scheduled volunteer time of 10-12pm because I have Olivia's parent-teacher conference at HER school at 11am. Since Layla's lunchtime is also at 11am, clearly I am delusional. And I need a better calendar system. 

All of these scheduling mishaps must be related to my exhaustion. Let's get back to my dark under-eye circles. This past weekend was a doozy. A good and fun doozy, but a doozy nonetheless. Friday evening we had an event down at the Four Seasons hotel in Baltimore. Matt was invited for being one of the top insurance agencies writing business with this particular company, so it was a full-on getting-schmoozed evening of thanks with no work involved. Black-tie optional, yummy dinner and casino games = fab.

When it is black-tie optional, you really never know which way people are going to sway. I decided on a safe bet: go with a long gown but make sure it is black, simple and classy. That way I won't feel majorly overdressed or underdressed. While I absolutely adored my gown, I was not anticipating the unexpected snag in skin color due to last weekend's Miami shenanigans

After buying out CVS's self-tanning options, Matt was able to at least make it less blatantly obvious. Phew. Crisis averted. 

So usually at these gigs, I just play the wife role (small talk, smiling and nodding a ridiculous amount) because I have zero clue or understanding when work chatter comes up. Matt does a fantastic job of keeping me involved, but I am a-okay with being arm candy and drinking champagne. 

How gorgeous is that background?!?! And I really wish I had taken more pictures that evening. My previous gambling experiences consists of losing 10 straight hands of War in Vegas (yes, there is War in Vegas and yes, I played it) and doing the same numbers at Keno when it is available. Since this was play money and the dealers were helping and explaining things to us, I felt quite at ease jumping in. I played blackjack, craps and roulette (which sidenote, that one Vegas trip we were with a friend who split aces and ended up getting blackjack. My naive 21 year old self whipped out my camera and got a perfect picture before I was nearly tackled by casino security. Oops). I dug up this priceless picture for your viewing pleasure, particularly since no one should ever even have it:

I still have absolutely no idea how to play craps, and sadly my Keno numbers didn't work at roulette. I did win plenty at blackjack, no pictures involved. 

With my dear little brother sleeping at our house with the girls, we enjoyed staying overnight at the hotel. Let me tell you, glorious doesn't begin to describe it. The major amazeballs amenity, hands down, was in the bathroom. Are you ready? There was a freaking TV IN.THE.MIRROR. It wasn't hung on it or in a cut-out hole. It actually just appeared within it, AND you could see it from the tub. Somehow I didn't snag a pic of it but I found one on google: 

That is just pure phenomenalness. I was amazed and now all I want is to have that in our house someday. #lifegoals

We also had a beautiful water view which I didn't take a pic of but stole from the hotel website: 

And even a doorbell! It may or may not have taken me 10 full minutes to find the fancy switch to turn off the lights, but all is forgiven. 

The next morning we ordered delectable room service and it was brought up on the most fantabulous table fully set and with the plates warming below (learn from it, Hotel Croyden). Brioche french toast with vanilla mascarpone, crispy bacon and a cappuccino for me. Steak and eggs for Matt. While ordering, Matt requested OJ. They asked "small or large" so Matt went with the large. What he was not expecting with a large was an entire picture of orange juice. What he was expecting even less than that was that said-pitcher of OJ cost $24.00. I repeat, twenty-four-freaking-dollars. I don't care if the oranges fell from heaven and were squeezed by chipmunks, on no planet should orange juice, regardless of size, be twenty-four fat ones. Needless to say, we tried to cherish every last drop of the golden OJ and even put the last bit into an empty water bottle to take home I don't even drink it typically but I helped in the finishing of the pitcher. I should clarify that there was no alcohol in this orange juice as well. 

We left the gloriousness of the Four Seasons (the front desk people were cheery and glowing and said I was pretty... so they win) to head home to the normal chaos. What made returning to normalcy, however, was an oh-so-lovely delivery that made me far happier than I think a normal person should be. I would like to welcome this new apparatus to the Simmons family: 

Seriously though, why do they not make all cleaning supplies in adorable polka-dots?!? I was looking into a cordless vacuum and I actually chose this one, in additional to great reviews, for its cuteness. I requested name recommendations on Facebook, the girls voted and...drum roll please... Meet Dottie. She will be the perfect partner to Reginald, my Steam Mop. It really is the small things in life.

As tired as you are reading this is as tired as I am writing, so more on the crazy weekend coming soon... 


Happy day-after Leprechaun Day! Ps I'm Irish. Also Seminole Indian which I realize sounds shocking and is a weird twist. 



Bucket List Miami Weekend...

Happy Glorious Spring Weather Week! After the dreary cold of winter (I'm SO sure I have Seasonal Affective Disorder) I have finally begun to hear the birds chirping and actually visualize the grass peeking from under the melting snow. Several weeks ago, still in the depths of abysmal winter, Matt's brother Ben and his fiance Sofi mentioned that they had been wanting to have the girls over for the weekend to their new house. In no scenario in the history of the world would we decline this lovely offer, so we decided on a weekend. 

What should we do? Where should we go? We mulled over a few ideas ranging from bar-hopping in a neighboring city to actually hiding out at home and binge-watching Netflix with no child interruptions. Nothing was really making us super excited... my priority is always to fit a nap in but that couldn't be ALL we could do. When you have a child-free weekend placed in your lap, you want to make it a good one. March in this area can range from a blizzard to mid-seventies... and all we were craving was warmth. Enter: time to check off a bucket list item! The plan: head to the airport with essentially nothing, and fly somewhere then and there. 

I am a conflicted personality... think, equal parts planner yet fly by the seat of my pants type of girl. I love to go with the flow but structure can be heavenly. Pulling out a calendar to plan can actually give me hives, but checking things off my to-do list is a total rush (I actually make the task of doing laundry into four separate items. And I will also write something down that I already did just so I can cross it off). I love nice, expensive things but I always find the deal or sale to maximize my spending. I will go to the ends of the dark web to find a free shipping promo code. So this bucket list weekend was both challenging and exhilarating. 

Our requirements for the weekend were simple: 
1. Warmth.
2. A beach or pool to lie around all day.

3. Anything that allowed us to move as little as possible (aka, we needed our beverages served to us by said-beach/pool).
4. A nap.

Simple, right? 

In my bag was the following: a bathing suit, a cover-up, a dress, a pair of flip-flips, shorts and a tank top. I also brought minimal makeup and toiletries, my kindle, phone charger and undergarments. Oh and I did bring a hat, which may it rest in peace, because I somehow lost it. 

The only stuff I looked up prior to departure day was basically how to even go about it and the best sites to book last minute travel. Our original goal had been to show up at the airport and essentially go to the Southwest desk to find a flight. Considering this may make us appear like terrorists, particularly with our lack of luggage, we decided to book it on the drive in. I found an app called Skyscanner that allows you to search for the cheapest flights to everywhere leaving from your area. After trying to absorb the initial shock of how expensive flights are last-minute, we were able to find a non-stop Southwest flight at 11:45am to Fort Lauderdale. Within the time it took me to pull up the Southwest website to book it, the 11:45am had disappeared. Ugh. The 2:15pm it was, no big deal (the current time was 9:30am). Our thought was... we are together hanging out, we can eat and drink, who cares. We arrive at the airport, check-in and get settled in at a bar. Although we were flying to the Fort Lauderdale airport, both Matt and I have spent time there in the past. Since we wanted somewhere new, we figured Miami was perfect. After perusing hotels on my phone and not really getting anywhere, we decided to gamble yet again. The Priceline "Name your own price" is something we used once before when going to Vegas and we ended up with the MGM Grand. With such a positive past experience, why not do it again? Our goal was either oceanfront with drink service on the beach or if not oceanfront, just have a rockin' pool. With our meager requirements, we rolled the dice... and lost. Hotel Croydon is what we were assigned. At first glance it has great reviews and looks like an adorable boutique hotel a block away from the beach. At second glance, you will find the picture of a lackluster pool that just minutes before I had vetoed staying there because of it. 

Womp womp. I mean, it is teeny, shady, and inches away from the road. No thanks. 

Trying to stay positive, we (finally) headed to our gate. After boarding the completely full flight and getting settled in our seats, we get the dreaded announcement... hydraulic issues with the plane. A mechanic was on his way to check it out and we were supposed to "sit tight." After I had kids, I became an incredibly nervous flyer. Like near panic mode on take-off, alcohol-required, texts being sent off to family to take care of my beautiful girls who I am leaving motherless since this tin box surely won't make it kind of thing. I REALLY don't need to hear about potential issues and "fixing" them. Fortunately, (yet unfortunately), the plane could not be fixed so back to the gate it was. We end up being sent over to another gate where they have to read off passengers one-by-one and check IDs since they had taken our boarding passes already. Eek. A cluster, you could say. So we finally set off and land two hours later than planned, and Ubered our way to our hotel for a final arrival time of 7:45pm. 

Exhausted and hungry, we went to the hotel bar for the remaining minutes of their free (!!) happy hour and to get something to eat. Now I'm not sure if we were so pasty white that people thought we were ghosts and couldn't see us, but I have never had such a hard time getting the attention of a bartender in my life. The conversation with the two other patrons present must have been riveting. But seriously, I was a bartender once upon a time. It took 15 solid minutes and asking three other random workers to even get a menu. 

Frustrated, tired, and feeling like this may have been way more effort than it was worth, we headed up to our room (two double beds, of course) to collapse... and ended up laughing hysterically watching youtube videos of those hidden camera pranks from the Ellen show. When you are with your favorite person, watching paint dry can be fun. 

Thankfully the next two days took a serious upswing after we managed to latch onto beach service from the Marriott. 

One suggestion I give you all is that you should always ask how much your buckets of Corona are because they may turn out to be $8.00 per Corona and you have spent a small fortune before you know it. You're welcome. 

We also managed to just blend in with the Marriott guests and found an unlatched gate to get into the pool and hot tub area. Now if you know me, you will be epically shocked by these actions. I am a 100% rule follower. I wish I wasn't, but I just can't help the feeling of panic and fear when I know I'm not supposed to be doing something. Miami Steph took over and I marched right in without a second glance. 

Maybe since we are platinum Marriott rewards members (possibly due to my expensive taste) I figured we would be a-okay. In the Marriott hot tub is where we found out why every flight in the world was booked... that little thing known as college spring break. Maybe since I was never allowed to go on one, my mind just didn't even register. My most favorite moment occurred in that hot tub with those crazy young college kids. We were all sitting around and they turned to us and asked, "So what college are you guys down here from?" I very nearly spit out my drink. I know we don't look super old, but we most definitely don't look super young either. 

 They all seemed utterly shocked that we were from the College of No Kids Bucket List Weekend. It basically made my life. 

So other than the beach and the pool, we really didn't do much of anything. On Saturday night we contemplated going out to dinner but realized we didn't have appropriate footwear for the kind of dinner we wanted. We attempted room service which somehow our lovely hotel didn't offer despite the fact that it is on their website (I had words with the guy on the phone because he didn't believe me that it blatently said-so on their page... and you can tell how heated I really was by the sheer fact I picked up the phone. As a person who has a phobia of ordering carry-out, that is a really big deal). So Matt had to go down to the hotel restaurant and bring food up to our room. We then proceeded to watch some crime show that we always seem to find whenever we are out of town together. The big takeaway from this particular episode is if you are trying to hire someone to kill your husband, you probably shouldn't write the entire plan down on paper (misspellings included). 

Sunday flights back were quite limited... most left at 6am (not an option). I did find one non-stop at 8:35pm with Spirit Airlines. If you haven't heard of it, I recommend that you go back to that wonderful place of ignorance and never speak of it again. If you have heard of it, you may be able to commiserate with us on a truly bizarre, did these flight attendants fail out of everything else, why is my chair metal and my tray smaller than Matt's hand. 

This is a **small** Fiji bottle and it barely fit. I mean, what?

So if you have any desire to do what we did, or something along those lines, I have a few tips for you.

-Be aware when it is the time for college spring breaks, and don't go then. While the ones we met were lovely, in general they also created a little problem called "totally booked or ridiculously expensive flights and hotels." 

-Decide prior which route you are going to go... either really, truly don't care where you are staying and the amenities it offers OR be willing to pony up to make sure you get what you want/expect. 

-Have low expectations and know that even those can be lowered (yes, I'm talking no room service. I'm never getting over it). 

-Wear far more sunscreen than you can ever possibly imagine and reapply every 17 seconds if you going from pasty white to the Florida sun. I'm telling you, I had to wear leggings on Monday because everything.just.hurt... and I am one who typically tans easily. 

-Remember that everything, both good and bad, is a memory you are creating. 

So many people seem shocked (and think we are kinda crazy) about how much stuff Matt and I do together. We have unfortunately been both given a unique vantage point of marriage: We both lost our fathers while we were still teenagers and have watched our mothers weather the devastating reality of life without their soulmates. So many things are planned for the future, but what if you don't get the opportunity to have that future? You don't think it could ever happen to you until it does. We are acutely aware of tragedy and that there are no guarantees in life. With that experience and knowledge, I'd like to say we try to live in a way that reflects that. There's no better time than the present for SO much more than you could imagine. 


Making Good Changes...

Ahhhh blogging. Such a strange phenomenon. So many obnoxious, self-important people who think their measly words have an impact. One of the reasons I never wanted to start a blog was because I didn't want to be a cliche... yet another stay-at-home mommy blogger who thinks her kids are cute and funny. Total vom. 

During my relative absence over the last year, I have come to realize something quite interesting about myself. An epiphany of sorts. Yet another quirk that my dear hubby has to deal with. In my quest to free up time and not put pressure on myself to post weekly, by not forcing myself to sit down and take stock in the last week and really comprehend the crazy that had occurred, I realized that I have been doing a disservice to myself. Without me really ever knowing it, this blog was my therapy. And everyone can always use a little therapy. It was the time I took for myself. It allowed me to go to the depths and rant, or focus on projects I was really excited about. It forced me to take note of things I so easily brushed aside, I listened more than I normally would. In my silly introspection as I wrote, it gave me so much more PERspective than I realized. When you see something written out and are willing to post it to the world (or like 3 readers), it just makes you view it in a different light. A totally ridiculously, insane day when everything in the world seems to go wrong and you end up locking yourself in the closet with wine seems like a stupid little comical hump in the scheme of things. It can be entertainment to others, make them feel just a little bit more normal and not so bad about their life because I am a bigger hot mess. It made me really "remember the crazy" which was my original goal of this blog from day one. And honestly, I just really missed writing. 

So. In trying to be a better wife and mother, I think I actually became a worse one (reason for guilt #23408243098). I know what I need to stay sane, and I haven't been doing it. As a mom, you always tend to eliminate your own needs first... but when you really look at it, that is just more detrimental to the whole family. A friend posted this the other day and it hit home: 

It isn't a mom's nature to do that. It is always give give give, who needs me, how can I help, who do I need to take care of right now. And sometimes you don't even know what to put in your own cup to even be able to pour into anyone else's. Before I get too deep into analogies, basically... to even figure out what recharges you is an eternal work in progress. It feels selfish and unnecessary, when it should actually be a total priority. 

I cannot begin to describe how grateful I am for a husband who, in the midst of the crazy ups and downs of married life with three young kids, is willing to listen to me and actually make an effort to make changes to help me and make our life better together. We are almost 10 years in and it is a process, so don't think we are magical. It really does take constant communication and essentially spelling out things that I need. For example... I detest making school lunches with so much of my soul I am unable to articulate. Until this school year, I think Matt has made one or two lunches for the girls in the last six years. Despite my best efforts of the girls making their own lunches, it doesn't always work out. But oh wait, I never asked Matt to help with lunches. When I actually, finally communicated this to him, guess who is the all-star lunch maker extraordinaire? This cutie: 

In the last few months Matt and I have also tried to make OTHER changes to simplify and help our craziness. When I quit working, I stopped the monthly/occasional cleaning service because in my head I thought, "I mean I'm home. This is part of my job. I should be able to keep up." 


Hahahahah HAHAAAAAHHahahahahhaha 

Idiocy at its best. Keeping my house clean is basically an impossible task. Plus, I hate cleaning. I don't want to live my life running around behind my children cleaning up their messes all.day.long. I mean I do that anyways, but I don't want to be stressed about knowing I have to get to a grimy tub in the midst of that. We finally officially committed to an every other week cleaning service. This, hands down, has changed my life. If you can make it work by downgrading your cable to 973 channels instead of 991, do it. Please. You can come over and watch Bravo with me in my clean house. And don't give me the excuse of, "I would be too stressed running around cleaning up before they came." My friends, if I can maintain over the course of two weeks, ANYONE can. Obviously my house will look like it imploded within a number of hours after it gets cleaned. The difference is, I can whip it back in shape in no time. It has also allowed me to have the time (and motivation) to do things I have been putting off for forever, like reorganizing my cups cabinet. (I wish I had a before and after, but just ask my sister and she will regale you with the insanity that it was). I realize that this is often thought of as a luxury and a non-essential expense, but I will tell you that if you can cut something else out to make it work, you will truly not regret it. But make sure you get actually good cleaners... no one needs someone vacuuming around a toy. 

Oh and I will do anything and everything (including sitting in my car down the street) to avoid being in the house while they clean. I am so not important enough to watch other humans wash my dirt. 

Another thing we have done is tried to make dinnertime simpler. I actually enjoy the act of cooking (with a glass of wine of course), but it is the planning that I utterly fail at. I have started doing Hello Fresh and get usually two meals a week delivered to my doorstep in glorious, packaged boxes with everything I need in them. 

A few examples of the inside of the box: 


You can choose 2-5 meals a week for two or four people (I get two meals for a family of four and we have more than enough food... and my girls are most definitely eaters). There is a veggie box option as well! Everything I have made has been actually good, fresh ingredients, and most importantly, all in one box that I don't have to plan. 

If you are so inclined to try it, you can use my code for $40 off your first box (full disclosure, I get $20 off if you use my code but that doesn't matter to me, I just want to put the idea of these meal delivery things in your head because it is seriously amazeballs. I've heard Blue Apron is good too). My code is WBW4XF and you can try it one week and never do it again, but I love having the option. You choose your meals Wednesdays by midnight for the following week. For me, the comfort of knowing what I am making for dinner (and no last second store trip with children-- eek) is awkwardly blissful. 

So. I'm not here to tell you that a cleaner, meal delivery service and a husband who makes school lunches are the end-all, be-all problem solvers of your life. That is what helped me go in the right direction (and I started playing tennis which I'm now obsessed with, but I'm beginning to sound very spoiled and bratty and should just stop while I'm ahead). But as I said, I realized this blog was very important to me too, even if I get zero readers and the $7.00 I make a month from ads disappears. What I want to change about it is essentially the format. While I'm sure I will still have plenty of lengthy, introspective posts with lots of pictures, I also am giving myself the freedom to post whatever the heck I want, whenever I want, no matter how trivial it may be. I don't know why I limited it before... maybe I always wanted everything to be "good enough" to post. Clearly that didn't work long-term, so maybe this will. Thank you for being my therapy and if you made it this far in this novel of a post, I really do appreciate it. Thank you for supporting me in the past and I hope you come along for my current ride. 

Happy Wednesday!