Wednesday, August 15, 2012

MOM SURVIVAL 101

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I constantly read posts from some of my favorite bloggers of carefully curated lists of the best in baby/child products--things that hard-working moms (or dads!) absolutely could not live without. I have decided to compile my own list but with a special twist. This survival kit is not full of expensive carriers, super fancy strollers, or 8000 thread-count onesies. It's a list of simple, silly things that keep me from going completely beserk on a day to day basis since becoming a full-time mama. 

So here it is... My TOP TEN MOM SURVIVAL items. In no particular order and subject to change at a moments notice. 

1. NETFLIX. 
Streaming four seasons of Curious George, six seasons of Babar, seven seasons of Sesame Street, two seasons of Yo Gabba Gabba, Busytown, Strawberry Shortcake, Wonder Pets, etc. Pretty much an endless supply of reasonably appropriate shows for kids of all ages at your command. Several are from PBS, hopefully slowing the stupidifying process, and eliminating the need for me to purchase expensive DVDs of Disney princesses gone bad. (Ariel, I love you, but you're a brat!). I don't condone TV parenting, but I literally could not shower, cook, write this post, or pee without Netflix, and all for around $10 a month. 
And when I get the Bug into bed for the night, the Man and I can binge on Vampire Diaries, Weeds, and Anthony Bourdain. Tony, I heart you.  


2. PANDORA

Seriously, people. If you don't know about this, get a clue. You sign up with an email address in about 2 seconds. You type in a song/artist/album etc. that you are in the mood for and it creates a playlist with similar characteristics. You can create up to 100 "stations" for free. Some of my favorites: Dawes radio, Zen Garden Radio(when we need some serious pre-nap CALM DOWN time), Latin Groove Radio (great for cooking, cleaning and pretending you are Salma Hayek), and Billie Holiday Radio (For transporting me to a little candlelit bistro in Paris when in reality, I am getting splattered with banana and eating leftovers). 
Every hour you hear a little local advertisement but it is a fraction of what you hear on actual radio stations. It's the greatest and we use it every day. 

3. The DOLLAR STORE. 


Yes, you may run into the occasional crazy person. And yes, the carts have security devices on them so that people don't roll the carts to the parking lot and never come back. But, why would you ever pay more than a dollar for any of those boring, mundane, items like storage bins, cleaning sponges, and super glue? The dollar store makes my house more organized, my kid more occupied, and frees up the Target budget for cute pillows and purty candles and stuff. 

Not to mention the fact that they have an absurd selection of hot wheels cars ("Sit in the cart like a big girl, and mommy will let you pick out a car!"), coloring books, office supplies, wrapping paper, tissue, and my personal favorite..Movie star sunglasses.  I can buy 5 pair and leave them all over the house. Also solves problems of dark circles under eyes. I leave with a cart full of items every time I go in there. Thanks for shopping Dollar Tree, your total comes to........$12.  And, I still have a dollar to give to the homeless lady in the parking lot. Yes, we can. 

4. ZIPLOC BAGS

Especially those little 100 calorie pack ones--they use less plastic and they are the perfect size for a "to-go" portion of chopped cheese, goldfish crackers, carrots, fruit, noodles,etc. They also seal in the food so that if your kid eats pasta at the restaurant, and you forget you packed some food in your purse and a month later you find it in the bottom under a gaggle of Dollar Store receipts, you can just THROW IT AWAY. Not that this ever happened..uh..yeah. I try to minimize my disposables as much as possible but using these is less wasteful than throwing out the Tupperware you just ruined by leaving chopped cheddar in your bag(again, hypothetical). 
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PS..they sell these at the dollar store. See #3. (ziplocs not Poshes)

5. TORTILLAS. 

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I've always been a fan, but now that I live in Texas, tacos are a way of life. Especially since H.E.B., our big grocery store makes tortillas fresh all day long. My kid--like most kids--is a cheese-aholic. I'm lucky, she likes a wide variety of healthy foods, but every so often she is boycotting green things. Solution: Quesadillas. You can smoosh up just about any vegetable, hide it under a layer of cheese on a tortilla, toast it for a few minutes, fold in half, and WALLAH. Your kid eats broccoli. Also works for small "pizzas."  For the Man and me: "Leftover" enchiladas, tacos, turkey wraps, you name it.  It's the Austin sandwich. 

6. THRIFT STORES. 

Are you seeing a trend here? I'm cheap--but I'm also creative. I'm not cheap about everything. I'm more than willing to spend serious ching on organic food, travel, dinner dates, concert tickets, etc, but we exist on one income--a teacher's salary--and being thrifty is a must.  Thrift stores provide ENDLESS sources for home decor, gently used clothing, household items, and the like--all within budget. I purchase TONS of jewelry supplies there. Probably 3/4 of the Bug's wardrobe has come from thrift stores and she always looks adorable for under $2.00. Proof:


I've purchased tons of stuff like this tree house play set for under $5: 


It was missing the animals. I soaped it, hosed it down and paired it up with some of her favorite little characters and animals. She loves it and I rotate different ones daily.  For those of you lucky enough to live in a town with a Savers (angel choir in background "laaaaaa"), they give you a 20% off coupon for your entire purchase, if you bring in a bag of donations. Their children's books are 5 for $1.  Otherwise, there is always Goodwill. 

Half of the projects on this blog are thrift store finds that I "Rach-ified" (as the Man calls it). As well as saving money, I love the thrill of the hunt. Typical conversation in my house:  RANDOM GUEST: "Oh I just love your lamp" ME: "Thanks, Savers. Four dollars."  I wish I could be more mysterious but its just too exciting to tell.  Thrift stores, you rock my world. Don't even get me started on colored tag day. 

7. CROCS.

I know...ICK, right?! When those horrible, neon, clunky, holey, things first came out, I thought, "Are you KIDDING me?" I wanted to yell "Eraser foot!" and push people down when I saw them. Then, I found these. 



Comfortable, with traction for playing at the park. Washable, for kids who fling yogurt at you. Cool, have holes, but protect my toes and hide neglected pedicure. And LEOPARD print, creating the illusion of being stylish, while actually being super lazy. The best part is that I got them at Savers for $9. See #6.  I may fork over the money and purchase some new ones as mine are getting brutalized. They are just too good for Mom duty. 

8. DOG. 

He drives me nuts. He barks. He whines. He steals food off the counter. He gets bent out of shape about the mail EVERY single flippin' day.  Someone once told me that once I had a baby, our dog would become the evil stepchild. It is sooo true.  But...he also let's me know when there is a stranger within 50 yards of the house, when the Bug is entering "off limits" territory, like the laundry area or the pantry that I didn't close. He chases big scary snakes out of the yard (okay, there was only one but it still counts), and since she has been in a food-flinging phase lately, he does excellent pre-wash by quickly gobbling up any noodle/bean/fruit/yogurt/cereal that goes airborne before it even has time to congeal on a surface. Get on board with dog spit if you have children.  It helps.

9. THE TREASURE BOX. 



Nope, not a dirty sex toy store... A small wicker basket on top of the fridge, filled with silly treasures like old metal cookie cutters, a tiny flashlight, rubber animals, stickers, and other fascinating weird bits that come down only on special occasions or emergencies when I just don't know what the hell to do with the her anymore. I rotate the items and use it mostly in the last hour before hubby gets home, when the troops are restless and mama needs help. Immediately see #10. 

10. REX GOLIATH CABERNET SAUVIGNON 



$4.99 available at the Texaco on the corner. Delicious and cheap. Because mamas work hard. Goes well with #1. 

Cheers
~Rachel