Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Larios-Mendez Family. May you feel as blessed as we do this holiday season.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Perfect Letter To Santa

To a child, Christmas means toys. A LOT of them. And the biggest concern for them is whether they will get the ones that they spent all season writing to Santa for or not. And try as you might as a parent to teach them the true meaning of things, they will never fully understand what you are talking about until they're 20 (Unless you're one of those lucky parents who have perfect and selfless children).

My oldest boy is no different.

Don't get me wrong; he knows why we donate to those less fortunate, that spending time with the family is the "best gift", and the true reason to the season; and he does get excited about all of those things, but the second that tree goes up there is no stopping the flow of what he'll be asking Santa for.

So when Felix (our Elf on the Shelf) left him paper to write a letter to Santa this year, I expected to see a list of 20 or more toys that would make me laugh because there's no way in Hades that he'd get most of them.

What I didn't expect to see was this:

Yep, you're reading that right. It's a letter asking Santa for what every member of our family wanted this holiday season. From the material objects that appeal to his brother, his father, and himself to the want of his mother to have her whole family together for Christmas (which hasn't happened in over 5 years).

Remember what I said about him being all about toys and not taking anything I say to heart? I take it all back. What kid thinks to ask Santa for a gift for everyone in his family when there's stores FULL of things he's spent the year thinking of?!

Apparently, mine does (spelling mistakes and all). And with enough care that it brought me to tears upon reading it. 

It's times like these that tell me I'm not doing such a bad job as a mom. I may lose it completely and become a certifiable nut case from time to time, but I must be doing something right. And, who knows, maybe next year he'll ask for world peace (which will most likely leave me a blubbering idiot. After all, he's only 6).

Have your kids done anything this holiday season that has (or almost has) brought you to tears? Anything that's made you feel like you're doing your job right after all? Have they asked for something completely unexpected (good or bad) from Santa this year?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Elf that Came Out of the Closet

Since last year there has been a list of things I've looked forward to for this Christmas season; from putting up my tree in front of my big picture window, to hanging stockings from my fire place, building snowmen in the front yard, and doing the Elf on the Shelf with my children.

Yes, I'm one of those; which I'm sure you've figured out by the influx of Elf pictures on Instagram and Twitter.

But really, this has been something I've been thinking about and planning all year. So much so, I actually created a secret Pinterest board of ideas so no one would steal them from me (don't worry, the board is no longer secret, feel free to steal away).

So when we finally got to say goodbye to Thanksgiving and bring in everything Christmas I was (literally) jumping for joy.

December 1st we welcomed our Elf, from then on named Felix, who decorated our home for the holiday season; tree, garlin, and pine cones galore.

December 2nd he watched from on high...

 And on the 3rd he dumped an entire bag of powered sugar on my counter and made snow angels (insert "Awe" here)...

The 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th he got a little lazy and just hung out while still keeping the kids guessing as to what he'd be doing next...

How fun right? Doing a little something everyday that brought smiles to my children's faces and kept the magic of Christmas alive in their hearts? What could be better? Best Mom award goes right here.

And so the magic continued.

Felix kept surprising us everyday and the boys practically flew out of bed in the morning to find that he had wrapped the pictures in the living room to look like presents...

 ...and had decorated the kitchen in paper snowflakes...

But my joy and planning of the next few days' elf activities was about to take on a whole new meaning when my son starting asking some peculiar questions about our elf's' daily habits.

On the day of the snowflake surprise (which had taken me 3 hours to do the night before) my precious Tyler looked up to me with a questioning expression on his sweet face and asked, "Mom. Why does Felix decorate so much? Isn't he a boy? Boys don't decorate."

Dumbfounded I looked at him. What is he talking about? Boys do too decorate. I have several male friends that decorate, but they're all....ugh oh. What was a mother to do so early in the morning? Before her first cup of coffee?

"We don't judge Tyler" was all I could come up with. And just like that our dear, sweet elf from the North Pole came out of the closet.

I suppose there were better ways of handling it and had they happened later that day, the conversation probably would have gone much differently. But alas, it did not. It was not intentional. I just forget how to be June Cleaver in the mornings; with all her perfect answers to life's questions.

So now I'm going with the line of thinking that there is no better way of teaching acceptance to my child than by using the magic of Christmas. If for no other reason than to keep the Mommy guilt at bay.

But, honestly, I'm perfectly happy with having a Gay elf who likes to decorate. What better way to teach my children a valuable life lesson and make my home overly festive around the holidays without much effort?

**Have you been celebrating Elf on the Shelf with your kids this year? What crazy antics have your elves been up to? Have you found your elf experience to be fun or way too time consuming? Let me know! I may steal your ideas for next year.**

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fun with the Fishtank

Imagine with me, if you will, a quiet Monday morning.

Fresh coffee still warm in a cup. Quiet toddler watching cartoons in the living room. A blissful mother not even a room away having a moment to check her email and make a much needed phone call. 

Mornings like these don't happen often in my home. In fact they are so rare that when they do happen I become instantly suspicious.

Paranoid? Maybe.

But as it turns out, I had every right to be. Because when I went to check on the all too quiet toddler this is what I found:

Yes. This at one point was my beloved fish tank. And now, apparently, it is a water sensory bin for my toddler.

How the heck he was able to accomplish this when I was just in the dining room (and if you've seen the tour of my home, you'll know that the dining room and the living room are practically the same thing). It never fails to amaze me that a child who can be so loud; always running, jumping, and yelling can become so quiet when they are doing something they don't want you to know about.

Here's a closer look...

Yep, that was a Little Tykes drill and hammer you saw. Uh-hunh, your eyes aren't lying. There is a batman car and a helicopter in there. Swimming right next to the lego.

I think what gets me the most (if I were choosing to be impressed and not COMPLETELY irritated) is how much stuff he got into the bowl! The fish tank is only 2.5 gallons; But he got about one of every toy he could find in that sucker!

If I could just find a way to harness the abilities for packing and creativity this child has I'd be rich. 

And as you can see, the fish is just fine. He had a little more excitement in his life than he usually does but has recovered well and probably doesn't remember a thing. Which will save his sanity should my children attempt to torture him in the future.

Please tell me I'm not the only person who has children that like to make the most interesting messes in the world. What are some of your crazy parenting stories?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Decorate For Thanksgiving in $20 Or Less

After spending all my money on Halloween costumes and candy, then having to turn right back around and fork over a fortune for Christmas presents. It can become very easy for Thanksgiving to get lost or pushed to the wayside.

This has never been more evident than this year with stores opening on THANKSGIVING DAY for "Black Friday" sales (which I'm not Okay with, but we wont get on that soap box).

So, with such tight budgets and very little time, what can we do to make decorating for Thanksgiving a pain free thing (on both us and our wallets) but still grab onto that wonderful fall/Thankful feeling? That's where I come in.

Cheaply decorating for holidays has become one of the things I pride myself on over the years. And this year, because you've been such great readers, I thought I would share with you some of my tips and tricks for creating some great Thanksgiving  decorations in under $20 that will have the in-laws salivating (and who doesn't like to get compliments from the Mother-In-Law?)

  • One of the biggest tips I can offer for you comes a little late for this year, but will make life so easy comes this time next year. When you buy decorations try to find ones that are season themed instead of holiday themed. That way you can add the holiday pieces to the seasonal pieces and it still looks nice, but you haven't had to pay the money decorating for 2 holidays.
  •  Something else I do every year is to try using things I already have around the house. From ribbon to popcorn seeds, pine cones and acorns from the yard. Even candle holders. If I've got something sitting around the house that I think will work, I try to use it.
  • If you go through the holiday section at any department store (especially the higher end stores) you'll notice that those wooden "quote" signs are really big this holiday season. Well, I don't know about you, but finding the money in my budget for those signs isn't really an option. At least not until they go on clearance at the end of the holiday. So to get the look of the wooden signs without the price tag, I turn to Pinterest. If you search for Free Thanksgiving Printables on Pinterest you will find a plethora of items that can be printed, cut, and framed. (Or you can just hop over to my Thanksgiving/Fall board and use the ones I have, which I found here and here.) The best part? You don't have to feel guilty next year if you find one you like better!

  • Hitting the clearance section at the department store is also a great way to get the nicer decorations you like with-out paying the larger price tag. And this year, more so than others, those items seem to have gone on clearance really early. Making it nice for adding to your Thanksgiving decor right away!

  •  One thing I did this year that has, I think, really made my decorations "pop" was to hit the produce section of my grocery store. There I found some great pumpkins, gourds, and squashes that look wonderful in my decorations without paying big prices for them. I got some pie pumpkins 2 for $3.00 the day after Halloween! (And Bonus: Since my grandmother loves to make pies and casseroles with this type of produce, they wont go to waste when I'm done with them!)

  • And finally, my go to stop for anything decoration is the Dollar Tree. As I've said before, I love this store for easy and cheap decorations any time of the year. They always have some great stuff that when put together correctly looks like you bought at one of the more expensive home decor stores. Can you tell what I've bought there?

So there you have it! I think sometimes people think it costs a small fortune to decorate for the various holidays, but I'm here to tell you that they are wrong. Over the years I've learned that I don't have to spend more than $20 to have my home look like a hundred bucks and these are the tricks I use to get it that way.

What are some things you do to make your home festive without using all your Christmas present money? Send me some pictures! I'd love to see!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

5 Roadtrip Phrases I Wish Existed 20 Years Ago

When I was growing up road-trips were very different than they are now.

There were no great places to stop if you had to pee while on the Ohio turnpike (much to my mother's dismay), when going through the mountains in West Virginia you gripped your seat for dear life because the roads were narrow and your dad drove like he was trying out for NASCAR, and roadtrip dining didn't mean trying all the great restaurants along your route. It meant the homemade trail mix and PB & J sandwhiches your mom made before you left home, which had become soggy after a day in the cooler at your feet.

Which is probably why I used my motion sickness as an excuse to drug myself and sleep through those family bonding experiences. 

So when we set out with our little car loaded down onto the open road I found myself slightly jealous of my children. They were having the road-trip that I had only dreamed of as a child; complete with portable DVD player, neck pillows, and an endless supply of things to keep them entertained. 

Children live such hard lives these days.

All of these wonderful things led me to realize I was saying things to my children that would've sounded much like the Hallelujah Chorus when I was 10.

In honor of that, I thought I'd share with you 5 phrases I wish my parents could've said to me when sitting in the car for over 14 hours (and I'll explain why they are so wonderful so you don't roll your eyes at me):

1. Quiet down and watch your movie. I can't tell you how many times as a child I dreamed of having a watch, dvd player, or vehicle that would allow us to watch movies while on long trips (or in ballet class) as opposed to playing a 10,000th round of the alphabet game. If technology were only 20 more years ahead of itself...

2. You're getting hungry? Ok baby, we will find a place. 'Nough said.

3. GPS says we will arrive around 7:00. This for me was a pretty big deal. As a child I always wanted specifics about our trips; where we were going, who'd we be with, when we would get there, what would we be doing, etc. and my parents' answer of "around 6:00 if we don't get lost" never set well with me.

So having this miracle device that not only told us our specific arrival time but also guaranteed that we wouldn't get lost would have probably made most of my car sickness dissipate immediately (maybe).

4. Just put your pillow on and take a nap. We are going to have quiet time. This one shouldn't have been such a joy to me, but I remember those trips growing up where we had so many people in the car that we weren't able to unbuckle and lay down (it was the 90s, car seats weren't such a big deal). That neck pillow made our trip go so smoothly! And anyone who has ever taken a trip knows what I'm talking about.

5. Let me just finish this chapter... As I've said before, I have one of the worst cases of motion sickness that I've ever seen. And no matter where I sit in the car I've never been able to do anything without making myself sick. But since the wonder of technology has finally caught up with my dreams, I'm now able to read on my kindle without making myself ill. I still can't use my phone, or check out any of my apps but who cares when you are able to read to your hearts content.

Obviously, it is technology that has made my adult road trip experience completely different than my childhood one.

I'm not denying that that is one area I allow my family to have free reign on the devices. And the only thing I can ask myself is why it took so long for these wonders to come about? Why are my kids the lucky ones? *Insert my pout face here* Brats.

Have you been on a long trip recently? What did you find was something that made the trip easier (other than drugs, I can't advocate for that)?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Oops, I Did It Again...

Anyone who has read Mommy, In Demand more than a few times knows that I am an avid Pinterester (as any sense-able woman is). There is nothing I like better than trolling all the creative ideas of someone else, recreating them myself, and not telling people where I got the idea from. Although I'm sure by now they have figured it out. 

And on more than one occasion I've been asked how I became so addicted; which has got me thinking and that's not usually a good thing. Because, by doing so I realized that it seems like every time I sign up for a new social media site I end up getting completely sucked into it.

So much so, I sometimes forget that I even have a real life.

*Que image of Mom looking at the computer with a blank stare and children making the house look like a war zone*

And since the purchase of my beloved iPhone, these obsessions have taken on a whole new form. Especially my addiction of Pinterest. 

To show you what I mean, let's look back at my history of social media:

First, we had MySpace. The titan that started it all. I remember first getting a MySpace profile my freshman year of college. It was the classic "everyone was doing it so I had to also". And the result? I don't think I left that computer lab for a week! I was so hooked on stalking everyone I ever knew...I mean, reuniting with old friends.

Next came Facebook, which still has me checking in at least twice a day (usually more) and religiously posting pictures of my kids. (Including ones they will kill me for upon reaching adulthood). But none of that touches on the excitement of facebook messenger, which I've learned is better than text message and has the cutest new stickers!!! Have no clue what I'm talking about? Go ahead and try it out. I dare you.

Which was, of course, closely followed by twitter. Which somehow has become my link to celebrity gossip, news, blogging, and all things "Me" related. I've even gotten a few tweets back from some people who'd never have noticed me otherwise. And just yesterday my tweet was favorited by a big name celeb (fan girl squeal!), But I'm not into name dropping...

And now, to top it all off, we have Pinterest.

Oh, Pinterest, How I loathe thee and love thee all at the same time.
I'm no longer a new member to pinterest but I can remember when I was. I was never really interested in what it was all about. I mean hello, I was a little busy chasing my 1 year old around for the perfect update picture and rubbing elbows (or keyboards) with celebrities; even if it was only in my mind.

(I should point out here that I felt the same way about Facebook and Twitter when they first blew up and we all see where that left me).

But despite all that (and a little voice in my head telling me not to because the house needed cleaning) I decided to see what all the fuss was about and made myself a profile.

Biggest. Mistake. Ever.
I don't know any substance in the world that can compare to the high you get when you log into pinterest. And being able to look down at your phone when bored at the doctors office to pin until your name is finally called?

It's all over at that point.

I wasn't even on it for an entire hour before I was hooked. I became a literal, pining psycho.
That was a year and a half ago and nothing has changed. I still get that high. I still go to confirm/search for every idea that pops into my head.

If you haven't had the privilege of discovering the thrill of pinterest, let me place all judgements aside and introduce you:


See what I mean?


I've gotten some amazing new ideas for just about everything in my life. From new outfit ideas (yes, my current wardrobe choices are now all from pinterest. Don't judge, it'll happen to you), to birthday decor. Even meaningless fun stuff that is so truly and completely ingenious that you'll slap your own forehead wondering why you've never thought of it. 

I mean really, who thought to use the top of a soda bottle for a chocolate-chip bag seal?! This person needs an medal!

It's come to the point that, after all this time, if you can't find me at work and I'm not answering my cell then I'm probably on pinterest.
Which leads me to the conclusion that they need to create an "IM" section so people can get a hold of you while you are successfully wasting your time on their site.

I wonder who I would have to talk to about that...

Don't be afraid to come check me out on Pinterest!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Minivan Moms

I swear its like a game. A small way to get their jollies in their sad, I-live-only-for-my-children, mom-jeaned lives.

All I want to do is take my son to school.

To drop him off with-out getting hit by a bus, and to leave in a timely manner so I can get my toddler home for his nap BEFORE he decides to let the whole neighborhood know he is unhappy and tired.

But no.

That is just not possible when your child attends school with the children of the Mini-van Moms (Yes, I do see the similarity to the "Children of the Corn" movie title. Honestly, at this point, it's practically the same thing).

Now, before I go any farther, let me be clear. I don't hate anyone who drives a mini-van. 

I have some great friends who happen to be mini-van drivers. As a child my parents always drove a mini-van and my mother-in-law drives a mini-van (Ok, that is probably a bad example).

The point is, I'm not trying to say that every single person alive who drives a mini-van should be stoned in the street (Although, I may agree that your sanity is in question. But that's just my opinion and who really listens to that?).

What I'm really getting at is that this particular set of Mini-van Moms are ruthless.

They find a sick pleasure in punishing those of us who aren't part of their little coffee drinking, fashion-less, I-can't-stop-procreating group.
And try as I might to avoid them, I somehow always manage to (literally) get squished between them.

I'm not sure if it's because they've forgotten what it's like to have to actually OPEN a car door to get out, or because they truly have no idea how to drive that boat called a vehicle; but NONE of these Moms can seem to properly park.

I can't tell you how frustrating it is to try and get into the car and not have enough room to unlock the door. Let alone open it and put my 2 year old in his car seat.

I've even attempted to change my parking habits. Because I'm a good girl and was taught growing up that when you are upset with someone else's behavior, you should be the bigger person and change your own.

But alas, no dice.

They still find me.

I'm beginning to think they have my car low jacked. 

And up until now I've been nice, truly; I smile when they get back and politely ask them to not park so close next time. I try to laugh when they take it as a minor occurrence and let it roll off their backs. After all, we are all moms here. We are all up way too early for this. We have all spent the morning fighting children into clothes, jackets, and shoes.

And I may be irritated because of they way they park, but they may get annoyed by my choice in loud music.

But, honestly, I'm tired of it.

It takes 2 seconds to correct an improperly parked vehicle. 2 seconds....maybe 3. (Ok, maybe a little longer in such a big vehicle and in an overly busy parking lot. But really, I think if you've been able to handle Tommy's screaming, little Cindy's humming, and the twin's arguing this long, you can handle it for a few more seconds).

So fix your damn van.

If not, then the next time you come back to your over-sized boat-on-wheels you're going to find this taped just above the 6 inch dent I'm going to leave in your sliding door...
*Deep Breath*

Ok that was mean and I really should control my Irish temper, otherwise my Momma is going to leave a strongly worded comment...

But, seriously. They're already ordered.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hanging With Heather: Featuring When The Kids Are Bored

One of the great things I love about blogging is the friends you make and I have met many great people on my blogging journey; like Heather.

I first met Heather through one of her many features and have been addicted to following her blog ever since. We have struck up a friendship and today we thought it would be fun to do a blog feature swap to introduce each other to all our readers! Awesome right?!

Heather is the author and creator of When The Kids Are Bored, a blog focused on family. She writes about motherhood, crafts, product reviews, and kid activities. She is a wife and a mother of two, expecting her third child in January. Basically, a superwoman.
So please give her a warm welcome and let's all get to know her a little better!

Welcome to Mommy, In Demand Heather. I'm so happy to be doing this feature with you. Now tell me, you've been blogging for a while now, what got you into it?
I started a blog called Musings of a Pregnant Lady in 2008 when I became pregnant with my first child. It was a way to journal and share my pregnancy with family and friends. It’s still up and running today but it’s more of a personal blog. When The Kids Are Bored came about last year when I decided I wanted to share my experiences as a stay at home mom. It’s turned into so much more than I ever imagined!
Isn't it awesome how things grow? Now, we all know that I'm a complete and udder Pinterest addict. So it wouldn't seem right if I didn't you what is something you could spend hours looking at on Pinterest?
Oh my! I could look at houses and home decorating all day long! I would love to build or restore a home one day. My grandfather used to build houses and my grandmother would pour over house plans and magazines for hours. She always asked me what I thought about the houses she was looking at. We would sit over Homes and Land Magazine and dream up our perfect homes. I get several of my passions from her.
Yes, grandmothers have a way of doing that to us. Mine created in me a love for many things; cucumber salad, the beach, and for traveling (even though I haven't really been able to). Which leads me into our next question, If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I would love to tour Europe by rail. I’m a lover of history and old things! I want to eat authentic Italian and French foods and visit the vineyards.
Europe? That would be awesome. Maybe when that baby comes you and I should take off for a few months! Lol. But, do you know any language other than English?
Which one would you want to learn? 
Only one?! Well, I would have to choose Spanish. I know a little from taking Spanish in high school and in college but I am very far from mastering the language. Besides English, I think it’s the most versatile language there is.
That's true. I've often been told that if you know Spanish you have the ability to speak to those who know Italian as well as those from other Spanish speaking countries! So basically the world would be open to you! But me, I'm more of a reader than a linguist. Are there any books are you reading now?

I’m not reading right now…I know. Shame on me. I have a B.A. in English Literature and my summer reading list has gone to the way side. I actually would love some good recommendations! I think most of my reading time has gone into blog research. 

Wow! A B.A. in English Literature?! I didn't know that! So that must make blogging fairly easy then. But what has been your biggest challenge in blogging?

My biggest challenge has been designing my blog. I’ve had a hard time committing to one look and have spent numerous hours creating headers, buttons, social media icons, and such. I really need to hire someone to do it for me. I just don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to get everything I really need. However, a professional looking blog is essential if you want to continue to grow and gain sponsorship.

Yes! Yes it does! And so does promoting your blog! What's your favorite go-to way to promote your blog?

I love participating in linky parties. There are a lot of great weekly link ups out there. It’s a great way to show off your posts and get a lot of views and a lot of non-spammy comments. I also get a lot of page views by linking my articles to my Facebook page.

All some great ways of promoting. I've never been good at those linky parties. They confuse me! Lol. So, What are you doing when you aren't blogging, parenting, working, or cleaning? Like, what do you do during your "me time?"

 My perfect “me time” would be going window shopping on my own. I love to visit area antique stores and boutiques but it can be a challenge to do with the kiddos. I also enjoy driving around and looking at houses and neighborhoods. At home, I like to sew and do DIY projects.

I think shopping alone is at the top of ever mom's "me time" list! I know it is for me. Now, you mentioned DIY's. You have put several up on your blog, and they are all very fabulous, but what would you say is your favorite article you have written? 

I really like my article, “The Truth About Breastfeeding.” It answers my most frequently asked questions about the ups and downs, pros and cons of breastfeeding in a way that is non-judgmental and informational. It’s based on my own experience and there is definitely some good humor in it. Got to keep it real!! 

Is it your most popular?

 It isn’t my most popular post, which is “How to Comment on a Blog Post,” but it did get a lot of page views. I also love my article, “The Beauty of a Woman.” In it, I write about why I think “seasoned” women are the most beautiful.

I read that article and loved it! I completely agree with you about "seasoned" women. There is just something sexy about a woman with a little life experience. And with those experiences comes a few skills, now you and I are fairly young in the scheme of things. So if you could learn one random skill, what would it be?

If I had the time and resources I would love to learn carpentry work. I would love to be able to build and repair furniture and do complex home repairs. I grew up in a home where if something breaks, you fix it. You don’t call someone else to come and do it for you, you do it yourself. Both my father and grandfather are/were builders of some kind. Somehow I managed not to learn those skills. But, it’s never too late!!

No its not. I am a firm believer in the theory that you're never too old to learn something. Anything. 

Thank you so much Heather for doing this feature swap with little ole me here at Mommy, In Demand. I've had so much fun with it!

If any of you would like to learn more about Heather and her fantastic blog head on over to When The Kids Are Bored. I know she would love to hear from you! And you can also visit When The Kids Are Bored to see my answers to the above questions! And who wouldn't want to do that?

So go. Now! 
When The Kids Are Bored