Independence Day

Do you remember when we would ride our bikes in bare feet and come home when the street lights came on? I do and there was never any fear. It was pure freedom and independence. I loved it. I would run out the door and head to my best friend’s house across the street without a care in the world.

I wish it was still like that. But it’s not. If you let your kids run around the neighborhood unsupervised after dark you can be sure someone would report you to the cops. And I’d never do that in fear that something would happen to my babies. So how do I teach independence?

I can see my two craving their independence more and more at home. Annabel is six and Daniel is seven and a half. They both want to jump on their bikes and cruise down the street without me or my husband right next to them. I would always pick out my daughter’s clothes and lay them on her bed, but now she comes downstairs all dressed, and hair brushed, without any help at all. My son struggles each morning to grab his own cereal box and milk from the top shelves because I haven’t moved them to a lower space yet.

Well, I’m finally going to fix that. I’m working on some “Kids Independence” projects in my house and we’re starting in the kitchen. I’m going to move the bowls and cups to the reachable shelves and shift the pantry and fridge items so they can finally reach what they need. It is a little silly that I constantly have to grab them a granola bar or bag of pretzels when they’re hungry. I can control what I stock on “their shelf” so they can stay healthy while still flexing that independence muscle. I haven’t done it yet because I like to maintain some control around here and, to be honest, it always gets moved to the bottom of my daily “to do” list.

I’m definitely on the more conservative side with parenting. I was the last of my group of friends to take my kids to a “movie theater” movie. If they play in the back yard, I have to be out there with them. I don’t allow random sleepovers or last minute play dates. But I do want my children to learn to be strong and independent. So we’re starting with baby steps. No, big kid steps. I’m finally moving the milk carton and that will have to be good enough for now.

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More “Kids Independence” projects to come. Stay tuned….

My Everything Glass Container

I LOVE my glass hurricane container because it’s so versatile. I bought it at HomeGoods for $12 (yippee!) and I fill it with items to display at special celebrations. It also looks great on my family room mantle or kitchen counter. You can be really creative with what you put inside it. I definitely recommend picking up one of these clear containers for your home. Here are eight fun display ideas to get you started, but the possibilities are endless!

1. Christmas ornaments in December.

2. Seashells in the summer.

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3. Potpourri, dried flowers, or pinecones in the spring and fall storecialis.net.

4. Lemons.

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5. My kids’ treasures from a vacation or walk through the park.

6. Legos for a themed birthday party.

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7. Wine corks from special dinners.

8. Conversation hearts for Valentine’s Day.

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What will you put in your hurricane glass container? Share your ideas below!

My Real Life Pin Boards

I adore Pinterest because of all the great ideas for parties, home decor, quick family meals, etc. etc. It’s also very dangerous because searching for one thing turns into an hour looking at all the gorgeous room designs and organic lunchbox recipes. Organizing and beautifying my life is my new priority. Because of that, I have created some real life pin boards in my home.

These two wall hangings from World Market were perfect for the corner of our family room. They are magnetic boards with antique frames. It’s awesome because I can add and delete the items based on season, holiday, or mood. I like that I can include family photos with school art. The neutral background is great for all the colorful pieces.  And I love the small metal crown magnets.

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This wall in our kitchen was just holding up a cabinet and fridge until I turned it into our organization center. I added cork board wall squares with wood glue and then a small black chalkboard. Our family calendar is housed here as well as my kid’s drawings, party invitations, and notes. We love the chalkboard for practicing math problems, writing down schedules, and playing tic tac toe.  It’s also great to jot down a thought or phone number when I can’t find a pen. Which is pretty often. I’m working on that.

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Do you have any real life pin boards in your home? Share below!

Lollipop Trees and Hand Sanitizer

On the wall next to our kitchen table is a print titled “Lollipop Trees.” I bought it from World Market a few months ago and it adds a bit of fun to that space. Our kitchen table is basically the center of our home because that is where we eat dinner as a family, the kids do their homework, we play games, do crafts, and on and on.

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It also made me wonder if the kids will always remember this “lollipop” canvas as a focal point in our home. There was an oil painting of a farm in the living room of my parent’s house and I have such a vivid recollection of the brown brush strokes on the barn and the way the sky looked dreamy. I probably looked at that painting every day. Then, there was the beautiful green glass salad bowl my Mom put on the table for every meal. And the heavy Uncle Sam metal bank. I would place a penny in the hand and push the lever to watch it drop into a tiny tax bag. It was pretty funny. Isn’t it strange the things we remember most?

I was telling Daniel these stories about my childhood and all the little things I will always remember about Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house. I then asked him what HE’D remember most about OUR house. I asked him if he thought it would be the “lollipop tree” picture.

He was quiet as he scanned the room. I saw him look around quizzically and then his eyes flashed open wide and he said, “THAT! That hospital hand sanitizer! I’ll always remember that!”

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Well, it may not be whimsical or sentimental, but that kid sure has pegged his Mama. (Sigh.)

There’s No Place Like Home

We’ve spent the entire day at home as a family having a wonderful, relaxing time.  And celebrating this:

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Happy 12th anniversary, Baby. We’ve spent a dozen years as a married couple and many more years as best friends and partners in crime. Thank you for making all of the days memorable. Thank you for always making me laugh. Thank you for being an awesome Hubbie and Daddy.

Annabel gave us another anniversary memory by hitting this milestone:

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She’s been wiggling that tooth all week and I told her to please wait until today so we would always remember she lost her first baby tooth on our anniversary. And she listened to me!  My girl. She is excited to finally use the tooth fairy pillow that has been patiently waiting in her dresser drawer. (She’s been jealous of her brother’s tooth pillow for over a year now.)

We also cozied up on the couch and watched The Wizard of Oz for the first time as a family.  The kids adored it, just like I thought they would.  Annabel would now like to be Glinda the Good Witch for Halloween.  Because of the pink sparkle, of course.

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Happiness is a Store-Bought Cookie

Oh my goodness. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in all this holiday “hustle and bustle.” I love Christmas. I love the spirit of Christmas.  But I tend to stress over the details and that always takes away some of the enjoyment.  We have to get to the store today to get this toy before it’s gone! We have to get the Christmas card photo done NOW or they will never get out in time!  We need to make a list of teacher gifts! And on and on.  I decided yesterday that I’m officially relieving myself of the traditional duty of baking Christmas cookies.  This is HUGE for me.  I don’t like to give up.  But cooking and baking are not my “thing.” The worst part? I just don’t enjoy it.  The thought of filling the kitchen with lovely smells of sugar and spice as carols fill the air sounds really cool and all, but it never turns out that way.  I will get frustrated and grumpy and no one has any fun.  And the cookies never taste that great.  So I’ve decided to have the kids pick out their favorite Whole Foods bakery cookies on Christmas Eve and that will be our new family tradition.  (They are soooo yummy.)

I think because I love Christmas so much I feel a need to make everything perfect.  I want the perfect advent/countdown calendar.  I tape every holiday TV special and I will beat myself up if I miss one.  I will analyze the stocking stuffers to make sure I have the right amount and they all have some special meaning.  I want everyone to have their perfect Santa visit outfit, Christmas Eve outfit, and Christmas Day outfit.  I want the Santa cookie jar filled with lots of homemade goodies.  It’s all motivated by me wanting to give my children perfect Christmas memories.  But I’ve finally realized that if I don’t stop for a second, I’ll miss the memories I’m trying to create.  And what’s perfect even mean?

This was the first year I did not venture out on Black Friday and I was so happy with that decision.  Rather than spinning in circles at the shopping mall, I was relaxing on the couch with my family.  We talked and played games.  We watched a movie.  It was worth so much more than a discount I would have received on something at the Disney Store.

I’m Daniel’s room mom and I’ve been stressing about the costumes for his Christmas play.  I had to cut head and arm holes into tons of pillowcases and I worry that some are off-center or too jaggedy.  But then I thought about it.  The kids are so excited for the play.  The teachers can’t wait for the parents to see it.  And no one will even notice a not-so-perfect costume.  I should feel blessed to spend so much time in my son’s classroom.  Today I got a special “sneak peek” at one of the Christmas presents for the Moms.  I watched Daniel play with his buddies and make a LEGO rocket ship.   He loves when I’m there.  That’s all that matters.

I took Annabel to her dance class yesterday so she could rehearse for the Christmas recital.  I usually sit there with my iPhone and my Kindle getting work done or catching up on a new book.  (Right now I’m reading Rob Lowe’s autobiography and it’s awesome.)  But then something just shook me.  I just stopped and looked up.

My little girl was dancing.  She was twirling in circles and giggling with her friends.  She was following her teacher’s moves by looking in the mirror over my head.  I was mesmerized by her concentration and by that look of innocent joy.  She was in the moment.  I put everything away and just enjoyed her.  I felt my eyes well up and I’m sure the other Moms were wondering why I was so emotional.  I just felt so overwhelmed by the moment.  THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT, I thought.  Don’t forget THIS.

So I’m declaring here and now that I will no longer spend my holiday time stressing about a teacher gift, a party dress, or that toy I didn’t buy yet.  It’s not worth it.  I’d much rather be with my family.  In the moment.  Eating a store-bought cookie.

Thanksgiving ’12

Thank you to my friend who posted this quote on Facebook yesterday.  “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more…”  I am grateful for my healthy and happy family, my good friends (new and old), and the amazing feast my hubbie makes every year.  (I’m also thankful I did NOT go Black Friday shopping.  Cheers to drinking pumpkin coffee and watching The Today Show on the cozy couch with my family.)

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Thanksgiving ’10

Thanksgiving ’09

The Southern Women’s Show in Jacksonville with “The Balancing Act” and Teresa Giudice!

Since I’m a “mommy blogger,” I’m often offered some really cool opportunities to meet new people and participate in fun events.  That happened this weekend at the Southern Women’s Show in Jacksonville!

I was invited to meet the women behind the new The Balancing Act morning show that airs on Lifetime TV.  They take their show on the road each Spring and Fall as “The Balance Your Life Road Tour” and they had a stop in Jacksonville this weekend at the Southern Women’s Show.  I talked to some of the tour sponsors and brand managers, mingled with other local bloggers and media peeps, and left with some free goodies.  (I even won a $50 gift card from Verizon Wireless.  Score!)

New blogger friends from JaxMomsBlog.com!

Hanging with Jacksonville’s Face of Fox30, Sharon Wilbur!

The grand finale was meeting Teresa Giudice from The Real Housewives of New Jersey!  She was very petite!  And very talkative!

Teresa was very excited to tell “her side” of the New Jersey Housewives drama.  It’s truly sad that she is in such a battle with her family, including her sister-in-law Melissa who is on the show.  I asked Teresa how she handles being a working Mama (she has four beautiful young daughters ) and she said she just makes it work.  She is very driven.  She mentioned that her husband definitely helps her manage (Juicy Joe!  Who called her a couple of times during the autograph session.  Her cell phone said “Honey.”)  I also asked her if she had a Bravo TV spin-off show in the works and she said she doesn’t want to do something that would showcase her family and children.  She’s more interested in a fun cooking show.  (She has two Italian cookbooks on the New York Times bestseller list.)

It was a fun afternoon and I even treated myself to some new bling before I left.  How cute is this costume jewelry?!  (I think Teresa would be proud.) Unfortunately for my husband I have this store’s address and a coupon to visit them during the holidays. Hey, I always support my fellow southern women.

Hello, October

I love October.  I grew up in Maryland, so October always meant cooler weather, leaves changing color, sweatshirts on a Saturday morning, and planning for Halloween.  In fact, one of my FAVORITE October memories is hanging outside in my backyard with this boy I liked in sixth grade and we were wearing our basketball All-Star jackets because there was a cool breeze (and piles of colored leaves all over the grass) and he was helping me carve my Halloween pumpkin and he would scoop out the guts for me because I didn’t want to and I remember thinking he was so nice and then I remember thinking that we would be perfect together because we both liked to play basketball AND carve Halloween pumpkins….but I digress.

Since I live in Florida now, I only get the “Halloween planning” part of October.  The weather here is still in the high 80s.  There are no leaves changing color.  And I own one sweatshirt and it’s still packed up in a plastic bin.  BUT, I have my imagination and lots of fun decorations.  My favorite decoration is this awesome Fall wreath I found at Michaels.  (You will notice a theme with me and Michaels.  I go there A LOT.  We have a bit of a love affair going on.  But, hey, wouldn’t you?  Check out this WREATH.)

See? I do have some leaves changing color now.  I also put up our traditional “Countdown to Halloween” witch.  So, in case you were wondering, you have 30 days to plan those costumes, people.

Oh, and my daughter is excited for October too.  We went “Fall” shopping last weekend and it was a blast.  We have a brand new H&M store that opened up at our mall and I have not been to an H&M since I lived in Washington, DC.   I first fell in love with H&M when I lived in New York City after college.  It was the best place to buy affordable, trendy clothes.  And they have the best accessories.  Here’s Annabel wearing her favorite purchase: a puppy dog sweater dress.  She just needs some fun leggings and sparkly Skechers and she’s good-to-go.  Now, can it just get colder here already?

Home Office

I knew both kids would be in school full-time this year, so I decided to launch my Pop Mommy companion website, Pop Kids Report.  It’s a pop culture news source for kids and Moms and I’ve had so much fun working on it.  But it’s been a challenge to balance everything.  I’m working from home and it’s such a different feeling from working in an office.  Six years ago I would take the METRO to work everyday in downtown Washington, DC. I would walk off that platform, grab my coffee from the deli next door, and head into my office.  I was in my work world.

When I’m sitting at home I am constantly distracted by the pile of laundry, the dirty floors, and the errands that can’t wait. I also volunteer at my kids’ school and when you’re a “stay-at-home Mom” (I’m so SICK of that term, can I tell you?) they look to you more.  You have the time that “working moms” just don’t have.  And it’s true..to a point.  And I do love being in the school and helping whenever I can.  But I also enjoy having my personal work projects.  I thought it would help if I created a space in the house just for me.  The kids know it’s Mama’s “office” and I also feel it’s important that my son and, especially, my daughter know that I don’t just spend my days cleaning, running to Target, and picking them up in the carpool lane.

The inspiration for my office space started with a desk from World Market.  I saw it in InStyle Magazine and it’s the perfect mix of stylish and affordable.  (On sale for $139!!).  I added fun accessories and I also splurge on a weekly bouquet of fresh flowers from the grocery store.  It really makes a difference.  If you haven’t yet, please visit me at PopKidsReport.com and tell me what you think!  I need all the extra motivation I can get.

– Pam

Pop Mommy Headquarters:

* Desk: Josephine Desk from World Market in white (sold out.) I added a glass top to protect from scratches.

* Chair: Stein Mart

* Lamp: HomeGoods

* Pink Pen Container: Ikea

* Antique Silver Container:  T.J. Maxx

* Wicker Desk File: Target

* Glass Milk Bottle Vase: Target

* iPhone Case: Target