woman bathingThis past weekend was really great. The husband was away, so Jax and I had a mommy-and-me weekend filled with fun activities. The highlight of the weekend was the Mad Hatter Tea Party at the Grounds for Sculpture (in Hamilton, NJ). My mom, my sister, Jax, and I took the 40-minute drive to explore the grounds briefly before the tea party. I wish we’d penciled in a bit more time to explore before our 4:00 reservation, because my mom thinks we saw only an eighth of the grounds–and I was blown away by how beautiful it was. I need to go back as soon as possible, and I hear the time to do it on a winter’s evening when the trees are lit by twinkling white lights.

According to the website:

Grounds For Sculpture is a 42-acre public sculpture park located in Hamilton, NJ. It was founded in 1992 on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds by J. Seward Johnson to promote an understanding of and appreciation for contemporary sculpture for all people.

Jax apparently LOVES sculpture, just like his momma. I can’t think of a better way to encounter sculpture than this–you’re walking through what feels like a forest and can just barely make out a woman bathing at the far end of a misty pond. You get a little closer and see how beautiful she is. And then you realize she isn’t moving. She’s the product of some artist’s imagination and devotion to his or her craft.

Alas, we had to hurry off to the tea party and didn’t make it back to the woods to see the rest. But we will!

We entered the Acer Courtyard, with tall skinny trees strung with paper lanterns and several large sculptures, and were seated by one of the characters–Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts (or the Red Queen) were present.

red queenmad hatteraliceAt each place setting at our table for four was a small bottle of liquid, a paper sign tied to it that said “Drink me.” So we did. (It was lemonade. And no, we didn’t shrink.)

drink meOur waitress brought out the tea we selected from a fairly long list; this was Mighty Leaf tea served in a white tea pot for each of us. I chose Ginger Twist, and it was fabulous. Jax had Chamomile Citrus, as did his Nana. My sister had Oolong Orchid. We were then served scones and jam. Jax didn’t like them, even though I’d referred to them as cookies.

Jax at the tea partyHe ran around the courtyard with another little boy, touching the sculptures they were allowed to touch (these were indicated by a little green sign, whereas those not to be touched had a red sign) and splashing in the fountain.

We had tea sandwiches next: cucumber and cream cheese on white, chicken salad and raisins on whole grain, and egg salad on pumpernickel swirl. And then dessert: strawberry mousse tarts, two varieties of brownies, and sugar cookies.

dessertIt was fancy and delicate, simple but gorgeous. The characters visited each table briefly; they were a little strange, but then again so is Alice in Wonderland itself, as well as the entire Grounds for Sculpture. I mean, how else would you define a place that put a room-size glass cube full of doll parts in the middle of the woods:

dolls in the woods

For more information, check out the Grounds for Sculpture’s website.

 

With my husband out of the country for 4 days, I approached the idea of Mother’s Day alone with Jax with mostly excitement about having a lot of time together but also with a little bit of worry about my day potentially going awry due to some toddler tantrum or another. So I kind of split up my Mother’s Day into chunks of time all weekend, beginning on Friday. To kick off Mother’s Day weekend, I left work 2 hours early to give myself a bit of downtime and self-care.

My version of self-care includes wine, journaling, and delicious food (guacamole and black bean chips this time).

My version of self-care includes wine, journaling, and delicious food (guacamole and black bean chips this time).

Saturday, it rained in the morning, so we hung around the house a lot. Eventually, we made it to Target for crafting supplies and snacks, and then we came home and drew, glittered, and stickered handmade Mother’s Day cards for both grandmoms. We ate Oreos.

Glitter + Oreos? Sounds pretty fantastic, right?

Jax selected Disney princess stickers for his grandmoms because "they look like princesses."

Jax selected Disney princess stickers for his grandmoms because “they look like princesses.”

The rest of Saturday, we alternated laying around the house with some outside play. Around 3:30, he finally napped (boy did he need it!) on my lap. I enjoyed the snuggles while I watched something other than Disney Jr on the tv.

It was adorable. I wish he'd nap more often! I got to watch 2 episodes of Arrested Development!

It was adorable. I wish he’d nap more often! I got to watch 2 episodes of Arrested Development!

Jax fell asleep pretty easily Saturday night, and we both slept very well. I believe that’s why Sunday was so fanastic.

Fantastic may not even accurately cover how perfect my day was. I woke up an hour before Jax and sipped my coffee slowly while it was still hot. I caught up on social media and watched a bit of Mad Men (I am SO behind). When he woke up, we went to breakfast with my parents, who treated.

After that, we hung around the house for a few hours. We ended up in sweats, both of us, and cleaning the living room (what kind of a Mother’s Day is this?!). It was actually pretty fun, because in my twisted head, few things make me happier than a clean house. I had planned to take him on a long walk at a park with a long track, and then let him loose on the playground after I got a few miles in, but after we cleaned, he’d started to play by himself, quietly and contentedly, so I opted to not rock the boat. I stayed in my sweats, parked my butt on the floor, and read a magazine and listened to music instead.

My cleaning buddy

My cleaning buddy

Eventually, we got our walk in. First, I hit the Dunkin Donuts drive through for my new favorite drink: the mint chocolate chip iced coffee (milk, no sugar–in case you want to surprise me sometime!). That baby came on our walk with us. We walked for about 30 minutes and then played on the playground for another 30 before returning home. A friend came over, bringing 3 bottles of wine over as a gift for me (so nice!!), and had a glass of wine with me while Jax played on the floor nearby.

These bouncy things are so much fun! But they're very ugly.

These bouncy things are so much fun! But they’re very ugly.

Ok, so maybe I rode one of the bouncy things, too.

Ok, so maybe I rode one of the bouncy things, too.

Jax bestowed me freely with plenty of kisses and hugs all day. He was affectionate, calm, well-rested, and tantrum free all the way until bedtime. At one point, he even curled up on the couch while we listened to music and he rested without a word. This lasted so long I had to check to make sure he hadn’t gotten into the medicine cabinet! I’ve never seen him so calm, quiet, and still (while staying awake) for so long! When I’d look over to see if he’d fallen asleep, he’d flash me a huge grin.

I can count on one finger the number of times he's done this! Ha!

I can count on one finger the number of times he’s done this! Ha!

Around dinnertime, we made a frozen pizza (his favorite thing to do is pick off and eat some of the frozen cheese) because I didn’t feel like cooking. Then a different friend came over, and we had a glass of wine and played in the yard for 2 hours.

Bath at 8, bedtime at 8:30. After some snuggling with me and his newly discovered stuffed elephant (which I bought when I first found out I was pregnant with him), he was asleep by 9.

Mother’s Day was the kind of day my soul craved and exactly what I needed after two challenging days full of toddler tantrums. I am so grateful for having had such a peaceful, relaxing day with Jax. It was my best Mother’s Day yet.

 

Guess where my family is headed this weekend? Here’s a hint:

Ignore the messy hair, please, and focus on the ears!

Ignore the messy hair, please, and focus on the ears!

My parents bought my family, my siblings, and themselves trips to Disneyworld for Christmas 2012. Back then, March felt forever away, but here we are, on the day before our departure–and me with a bazillion things left to do before I can get into a vacation mindset. Isn’t that always how it goes?!

Tomorrow will be Jackson’s first Disneyworld vacation (but probably not his only), as well as his first time on an airplane. We chose to fly with Southwest because of the great word-of-mouth they typically receive from bloggers who fly with their kids, in addition to the schedules and perks like bags checked free of charge and in-flight wifi.

I am slightly nervous about how Jax will do on the 2.5-hour flight from Philly to Orlando. But I am reminding myself today that he usually is very well behaved and pleasant, and I usually do a whole lot of worrying for no good reason. I’m also nervous that I’ll have forgotten to pack something essential, but of course everything is replaceable if you’ve got the cash or the cards. Note to self: Don’t forget the cash and cards!

After this past week with its cold-from-hell and a near-ER trip with Jax, I’ve never been more mentally ready for a week in the sunshine. The weather in Orlando is in the mid to high 80s currently. I’m thinking that will eradicate any remaining germs! I just hope Philly weather gets itself together while I’m away and I come home to spring!

The only downside to all the sunshine I’m going to bathe in? Freckles. Even with a good sunscreen, the freckles on my nose and cheeks will reach the hundreds after this coming week. Ugh. They’re cute on everyone else, in my opinion, but I hate ‘em on my own face. I’m curious whether Jax will get any new Floridian freckles!

By the way, I’ve lined up a special guest post for Monday, so please don’t you stay away while I’m away.

Have a fantastic weekend!

 

I envy people who chill out on the weekends, because that’s not how things play out for me. Sure, I’m a bit Type A, and yes, I do create lengthy to-do lists for myself, but only because I don’t want to miss out on anything! The price to be paid for that attitude, however, is a shortage of downtime.

The past two weekends have been gray hair producers. Thank goodness I color my hair! Just to give you a taste of what a typical–yes, TYPICAL–weekend is like for me, I’ll list it out for you (see? toldja I’m a lister).

Here’s what we did last weekend:

Friday Nov 9

Worked until 2. Ran a few errands on the way home from work, including a stop for a bottle of wine for dinner. Picked up Jax from daycare at 3 to spend a little extra time with him before dropping him off at his Nana’s for a few hours so I could attend my brother’s birthday dinner. Husband got stuck at work really really late, so after I made dinner for Jax (which I helped him eat, of course), I had to drive Jax 20 minutes myself to my mom’s at 6. Left the house without the wine. Oops. After dropping off Jax, I had to hit the liquor store yet again (where I accidentally bought a bottle of white that wasn’t chilled, meaning warm white wine with dinner, ick). Got lost driving to dinner in a town many towns away. Was a half hour late to dinner–embarrassing! By this point, I was starving, as it was after 7:30 pm and I’d been driving 90 minutes all around southern New Jersey. Had a nice dinner, then got lost heading back to my mom’s, so I asked her to drop off Jax to my house because I’d coincidentally ended up on the highway right by my house. Thank goodness she agreed. Shaved off a good 45 minutes of drive time. Bed, exhausted, around 10.

Saturday Nov 10

Husband spent the entire day in Brooklyn with friends at an art show. So in his absence, I called a plumber to fix my slow-draining bath tub, which was grossing me out. This fascinated Jax–he kept referring to the plumber’s bag as his “doctor tools!” I scrubbed my stovetop for at least an hour (it was also grossing me out). Then proceeded to clean the entire downstairs and do many loads of laundry. Around 3:00, totally wiped out, drove Jax to my mom’s because I had tickets with his best friend’s mom to Gay Bingo in Philly. Jax was all set up for a fun sleepover with his Nana. I had to get over my guilt over dropping him off there 2 nights in a row, which was the first time I’d ever had back to back plans that didn’t include him since he was born! Came back from my mom’s, ate a cheese hoagie as fast as I could get it down, had a beer, then left for Gay Bingo at 5:30. Gay Bingo until 10. FUN FUN FUN. If you’ve never been and your closest big city offers it, you gotta check it out. Got home around 10 and was sick to my stomach–too many snacks? stress?–until about 2:00 am, when I finally fell asleep in Jackson’s bed!

Sunday Nov 11

Drove to my mom’s in the morning to get my kiddo. Came home and got him cleaned up and then went right back out for a playdate with his two besties at one of those toddler gym places. Got home just in time for dinner. Husband worked most of the day and walked in about 15 minutes after dinner was ready. Our friend had come over a few hours before dinner and we made a fantastic meal–complete with blaring fire alarms because I dropped a chunk of roasting red potato on the bottom of the oven. Many fire alarms in several different areas of the house. Good times. No, really, it actually was kind of fun and funny!

Jax at the bottom of the slide

This weekend:

Friday Nov 16

Worked frantically until just after lunch, then rushed to a hair appointment 20 minutes away. Ahhh, me time! Then broke a few speed limits rushing to Jax at daycare because he had a 3:30 doctor’s appointment for the cold that just won’t quit (& I have anxiety). Got home around 4:30 or so, got dinner on the table by 6–roasted salmon and veggies. Relatively easy night, if I remember it correctly. I may have even taken a hot bath!

Saturday Nov 17

Had a 10:00 am birthday party a few towns away, so we spent the morning wrapping the gift and getting ourselves ready. Partied til about 2–that was utterly exhausting but totally fun for the kids. Drove home, rested for a half hour, then headed back out the door for another party! Stopped on the way for a gift. Fortunately, this party was at my mom’s house, so I could sit back and relax with a glass of wine! The boys even took Jax outside to shoot some hoops for 20 minutes, which was effing fabulous because the girls got to have girl talk with our wine. On the way home from there, the 3 of us (me, Jax, and my husband) grabbed dinner at Moe’s because it had been such a frantic/busy week that I never even grocery shopped! Whoops! Then my husband and his friends went out to a bar (some UFC thing), and Jax and I snuggled up on the couch until bedtime.

Sunday Nov 18

I had therapy at 9:00 am, so I had to be out the door by 8:30. But first, I ran through the Dunkin Donuts drive-through with Jax (in his jammies) for breakfast I didn’t have to cook. Ate and fed the boys and managed to leave by 8:40. Therapy until 10, then I had a coffee date with my friend at 10:15, so I maybe broke another speed limit getting there…. We grabbed some coffee and then headed to the mall to try on makeup at Sephora! Very girly of us, but also pretty fun. I got this. When I got home, I felt the urge to clean my house, which I did, in addition to 3 loads of laundry. Then I grocery shopped. After this, it was close to dinnertime, so I whipped up a lasagna and got that in the oven by 5. While it baked, Jax and I made peppermint bark that was shaped like snowflakes and Christmas trees. He thinks he’s giving it out to his friends at daycare. Ha! Momma’s totally eating it up herself. It’s been another whirlwind weekend, and chocolate helps.

Enjoying the first cake of the day

So when I whine on social media about how tired I am, now you get it. And this post doesn’t even cover what I did all week! Thank goodness Jax can keep up with me. As for my husband, that’s another story!

What does your typical weekend look like?

 

Don’t worry, Woody (& friends) survived!

In preparation to dogsit for my parents and due to the post-birthday bombardment with new toys and lack of space in my smallish house, I embarked on a project last night to weed through all of Jax’s toys and donate the good ones and toss the broken ones. The project commenced with a hasty trip to Target for big Rubbermaid totes in which to store the toys for transport to my son’s daycare–which, in a win-win situation, is happy to take the toys Jax is too old to play with but still in great condition.

Sidenote: I’m happy to report that in addition to the two totes, I bought only two other items–this is progress, given that we all know how impossible it is to escape Target without buying triple the number of items on your list! I got off easy last night, buying only double! What can I say, I was in a hurry!

While I was at Target, a wave of sadness washed over me as I thought about which toys I should remove from my home. Some toys were bought during my pregnancy and have sentimental value. Some toys I just can’t bear the thought of Jax no longer having the option to play with, even though he hasn’t played with them in months or a year! Like his first babydoll he so lovingly cared for (when he was in the mood). Or stuffed animals older than Jax, given to him at my baby shower.

Feeling sentimental is dangerous when you need to declutter your house, and fast.

To make myself feel better–and because I was projecting on Jax that he would be sad, like me, to lose some of his older toys–I stopped in Toys R Us on the drive home from Target and whipped out some gift cards Jax received for his birthday. I told him how proud I am of him for moving into his new classroom this week (have I written about that yet?!) and would let him choose any one toy.

I also told him we needed to give some of his old toys to his school so that other kids could play with them, too. He seemed receptive to this idea, thank goodness.

He chose this toy, and I freaking love it. It provided belly laughs last night as we chased the dogs around the house with it. Sorry, dogs, but you kind of deserve it after all your shenanigans.

I asked my husband to take Jax outside to play last night while I spent 30 minutes sorting through all of the toys in 3 different toyboxes in my house. Once I pushed out the sentimental thoughts, I got into a groove where it was almost too easy to ditch many of the toys. My husband had already done some of the work and created a huge pile (he obviously is not sentimental) of toys he thought we should toss. I admit I did keep two items from his pile–the first toy I bought for Jax when I found out I was pregnant and a Wiggles guitar Jax still plays with. It is just too adorable when he rocks out on that thing, even though it sounds terrible.

I was able to get rid of one lawn bag full of broken or old toys missing pieces, and I prepared a huge tote for the daycare. What remains at our house are toys Jax still loves and regularly uses, and they’re all organized now! Success!

In summary, I learned a few things about getting rid of toys:

  • It is hard when you’re feeling sentimental. But it’s OK to feel sad about letting go of baby things. For some, it’s clothes. Apparently for me, it’s toys. It was a walk down memory lane as I recalled when he received some of the toys (holidays, birthdays) and from whom.
  • Work fast. This is key. Too much time to think is paralyzing. And don’t put on music or anything that could also flood you with emotion!
  • Probably not a good idea (and perhaps counterintuitive) to hit a toystore on the way home to get rid of toys. My husband definitely made some jokes about it, and rightly so.
  • Make sure you do this kind of project when your kid isn’t around to convince you to keep many of the toys. Unless said child is old enough to reason with.
  • Don’t use trashbags. Totes are best. They don’t rip, for starters.
  • Ask your local daycare if they’d like the clean toys in excellent conditions. If not, donate them. Be sure you don’t pass along anything that is broken or missing pieces. I wouldn’t recommend giving daycares any toys with magnets or small parts, either.

Am I missing anything? What are your tips or advice about getting rid of your kids’ toys?