Category Archives: Family Life


Just Being

OK so one of my goals is to stop making goals. I made a goal for myself to blog here at least once a week so I can be more appealing to the ad networks. Full disclosure here, folks. I want to make money for the work I do. So, I failed at my goal, and have learned that I need to stop making goals, because they’re not even a real thing, so why let something that’s not even real give me the sadz?

That said, I did end up getting a part time job for a legit publication, so there’s one goal completed, all without having to enter any sketchy limos!

So what doesn’t give me the sadz? Instagram. It makes me very happy. It’s a great way to collect some of your favorite memories in one easy to access place. It’s also a way to journal what’s going on in life when we’re doing what we do best, just being. Commence Mere’s Instagram Dump!











Come drop me a line in IG over here!

SPOILED! (and some printable behavior charts)

As some of you may know, we’ve been dealing with the terrible twos for a while now.  We’ve tried dealing with my son’s tantrums in a variety of ways, some more effective than others.  It’s tricky, because we’re never quite sure if he’s just lacking discipline and we need to crack down, or if it’s something he’s unable to control, so we need to be sensitive.  I’d say we were kind of 50/50 with our approaches, but maybe veering a little more on the side of trying to be sensitive and wait it out.

Meanwhile, I must confess, in an effort to avoid conflict, I have been buying my kids toys every time we go anywhere.  Toys at the grocery store, toys at the dollar store, toys at the gas station. If a store has a toy, we are buying it.  If a store doesn’t have a toy, people are crying at that store and begging to go to another store with toys.

I like toys.

I like toys.

At a soccer game, I talked with one of my friends, who also happens to be a kindergarten teacher.  She told me that she uses a sticker chart.  When the chart is filled up, her boys get to pick a treat.  No toys, just simple stuff, like playing a game or making popcorn.

I was blown away.  If I told my kids that their treat was a game, they would devour me.  If a “treat” involves anything other than merchandise, it’s no treat. For anyone. Me or them.

Reflecting on that truth opened my eyes to something that was happening, that I was completely oblivious to… my kids are becoming spoiled.  Whoops!

spoiled_2So… sticker charts it is!!!  I came up with two age-appropriate charts.  For every sticker, they get a coin (any random coin will do).  For certain behaviors that need more work, I’ll throw out an offer of DOUBLE STICKERS! (marketing!)

At the end of the week, we count up the coins, and that’s how much they can spend or save.  We only buy a toy once they’ve saved up enough.  It’s helpful that we have a store called Five Below (everything $5 or below), because it’s pretty predictable that they receive at least that much in a week, and then there’s no sadness over wanting something that’s $20, because there’s nothing over $5 there.

We also decided to match whatever they make that week, and put that amount into their little banks, so we can start a savings for their little futures.

After 2 weeks of charts, I am pretty impressed with my little guy.  As soon as he starts a tantrum, I remind him that he might lose his sticker, and he thinks about it, and usually decides to be nice.

Positive reinforcement was something we weren’t doing enough of, mainly because he was almost NEVER good (it pains me to say that).  I could see right away how proud he was when he could see tangible evidence of the power of kindness.

Here’s something else that really blew my mind.  Just after we initiated this, I had to get some mailing supplies at the craft store. There are a lot of toys at AC Moore.  I told my daughter that there would be NO TOYS that day, since she hadn’t saved enough coins. After we left, she revealed that she’d stolen something.  I was so shocked, she is normally so well behaved, and it made me realize that my spoiling was breeding this idea in her mind that she’s entitled to these things, and if someone says no, or there’s not enough money, she would just take them anyway.

I had no idea that this thought pattern was being created in her little mind.  I’m so glad to know that now though. (We did go back to the store to give back the item)

In case you’d like to try out my charts, you can download the behavior charts below.  I tried to make them age-appropriate for my own kids, but of course, I’m sure that varies by family. I’d be curious to hear your experiences with this kind of thing!

Younger Kids (approx. 2-4):

Older Kids (approx. 4-6):

And here’s a blank version, if you’d like to make your own:

Story Time!

Sometimes blogging is kind of hard. There’s a TON of competition, people have short attention spans, and if you don’t include some beautiful photos (these days, photos with pretty WORDS on top of them) you can’t Pin It on Pinterest, thereby excluding you from the “third most popular social network”.  Horrors!

January is particularly hard, because who the hell feels like doing anything that month?  It’s cold, so you don’t want to go outside and take pictures, and it’s dark, so pictures you take inside are going to look funky.

So, today I’m throwing caution to the wind and I’m just going to write words.  I’m going to tell you a small story, because this story came out of me while on the phone with a friend today, and she really seemed to enjoy it, so maybe you might too.

A (True) Story:

Two years ago I got a sassy new hairdo and bought some new clothes and makeup.  I was looking GOOD. Good, for the first time in about 4 years, because in those four years I’d given life to two small people.

Feeling good, I went to the wine store to buy wine, and feel even BETTER.  Bending over to examine some cool wine bottles, I was approached by a cute guy who worked there.  He asked if I needed help, I said no thank you.

He stood there, staring at me, kind of with a twinkle in his eye.  I got a little nervous.  I was afraid he was going to hit on me or something, which in a way would make me happy, (confirmation that I indeed, look GOOD!), but would also make me scared because, of course I’m married, and rejection isn’t fun for people.

I waited, and he finally spoke.

He said, “I’m not sure how to say this, but…
you have a granola bar stuck to your butt.”


Losing It Over Here (and Getting It Back)

Howling like a baby wolf is cute and creative. Just not at 7AM, mkay?

Howling like a baby wolf is cute and creative. Just not at 7AM, mkay?

I’ve been a little quiet here for the past few weeks.  January is tricky.  The holidays are so busy with deadlines for work, cooking, traveling, presents.  Then, come January, we’re worn out and lazy.  We usually get sick. Going back to work and school presents more challenges than we’re prepared for.

This month was typical, and so I needed to take some time to sort out some stuff, which I’m still kind of in the midst of, which isn’t a big deal.  Things tend to go back to normal in February.

I just wanted to take a little moment today to tell a little story.  I was sick over the weekend, and lost 2 nights of sleep.  Last week, both my kids were sick, plus there was a snow day, and a school holiday.  I ended up getting only 1 full work-day, out of 8 whole days.

I feel like I took it all pretty much in stride, and stayed in a good mood, despite the challenges.  Today was the first “normal” day since then, where all the kids went to school/daycare, husband back to work, etc.

You’d think I’d be in a fantastic mood, but I wasn’t. I was snarky and moody while getting the kids ready. Pretty much at the end of the rope, so glad they were getting out my hair, frustrated that they weren’t, already.

That happens.  I’ve had a few friends confide in me lately, when they’ve had a rough moment with the kids, and regretted the words they said, the tone/volume of voice, etc. They are not alone.

When these women are recounting the story, I can visibly see the pain, regret and shame in their eyes, and it breaks my heart, because I can relate, and because I wish/hope they could believe that yes, it’s regrettable, but it’s going to be OK. Kids need love and patience, but it is OK for them to see that people have limits.  If those limits are tested, needled, poked, or bashed over that person’s head, they are eventually going to have a reaction.

I always joke that kids need to learn that as adults, they can not just walk into a bar, go up to the biggest, toughest dude, and poke him repeatedly in the face.  They will eventually get punched.  We are talking valuable, life skills here!

While it would be wonderful if we could all stay cool and calm, and handle those situations with grace, it’s absolutely not possible to do that every time. Kids are HARD!

For me, when I lose my inner calm, the remedy truly begins with self forgiveness. I am human, I am tired, I will release myself from the chains of shame, because they just hold me back from becoming a better person. I take a half hour to do something that really clears my head.  For me that’s meditation/yoga.  For some that might be exercise, or a hot bath.  Whatever lowers the stress and shuts off the constant chatter in the back of your mind, works.  Tell yourself you forgive yourself, say the actual words, they’ll hold more weight if you say them out loud.

Then, any damage caused to the relationship with the kids can be remedied  (a bit later, once the dust settles) by having a warm, open conversation.  Let them know they are loved, let them know “why I lost my cool”, let them know you are human, and flawed, but you love yourself enough to forgive yourself, and them, and they can forgive themselves too, and tell them that everything will be OK.

And then, everything WILL be ok, and it might happen all over again another day, but that’s OK, because we can deal with it in a loving, productive way. :)

I hope you all have a beautiful day today.

xoxo, Mere

Snowy White Dough Ornaments - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

Smooshing Some Dough

ments - Yin Mom, Yang MomIn an effort to increase that loving feeling that is just so needed in this complicated world, I’ve been spending more time lately doing crafty stuff with the kids, for two reasons:

1. Cold weekends are a huge catalyst for cabin fever, (kids bouncing off walls, making mischief). Crafts contain the mess to one room, and give the kids something to do for at least an hour.

2. Crafty time forces me away from the distractions of the computer, to spend quality time with the kids, really joke around and talk to them, give each other compliments, etc.  It’s good old fashioned family time, something that’s too easy to forget to do when you’re busy working hard to get things accomplished all the time.

So, this weekend we decided to make some of the pretty white DIY ornaments that I’ve been seeing around Pinterest lately.  These are so much freaking fun to make.  One of the main ingredients is corn starch, and I don’t know if you’ve ever made oobleck, but if you have, you know that corn starch is seriously awesome to play with.

While I mixed up the dough, I just gave Brooke a plate of it to dip her hands in, and she loved it!  It’s got such a groovy, smooth texture, and it feels cold.  She preferred to to call it corn syrup, and said it feels like metal.  OK.

Snowy White Dough Ornaments - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

Brooke wanted to wear a crazy scarf around her head. I think it gave her a certain, mushroomy quality!

I found the recipe on a great blog called The Woodside Kitchen

Snowy White Dough Ornaments
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • ¾ cup water
  1. Stir ingredients together over medium-low heat until the dough thickens up. You'll know it's ready to remove from the heat when it's the texture of soft play-doh. Remove from heat and allow it to cool a bit before kneading it out.
  2. You can sculpt it, roll it and cut it with cookie cutters, make thumbprints, handprints footprints. Use the end of a paintbrush to poke a hole for hanging on the tree.
  3. To dry the ornaments, place them on a pizza stone or on a pan covered in parchment paper, then cook in a 175 degree oven until they feel hard. Basically you don't want to take them out until they feel hard and brittle. If there's any softness, keep them in there. For thicker ornaments, this could be up to 2 hours. Thinner ornaments harden up in about an hour.


Snowy White Dough Ornaments - Yin Mom, Yang Mom


This dough is SO fun to play with (again, cornstarch is awesome).  It’s easy to roll out, is extremely smooth, and stays VERY white.  The finished ornaments almost look a little sparkly, like snow. It’s lovely.

We made the cute little mitten ornaments we saw on My Buddies and I, and we also did some fun stuff with cookie cutters.  Brooke had a cool idea to layer 3 thin stars together, and it created a cool effect.

Snowy White Dough Ornaments - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

I used the last remnants of the dough to make some simple little thumprint ornaments, because I need some smaller, filler ornaments to sprinkle throughout the tree.

Snowy White Dough Ornaments - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

This was such an amazingly fun project for us, and I’m pretty excited to make more of these really soon.  This could just be a year-round kind of project for us.

Snowy White Dough Ornaments - Yin Mom, Yang Mom

The finished product!

Oh, the joys of bus riding!

A little boy keeps trying to sit with Brooke on the bus, and when he does, he tries to lick her face.

I had to draft a nice email to the bus company to ask that they help me handle the situation.

When I got to the part where I have to write the subject line, I was stumped, so I wrote what came naturally, and it cracked me right up.

What to do when some kid keeps licking your kid.


I am so funny sometimes, I swear you guys!

It will be interesting to see how it gets handled.

I hear a lot of stories from my blogging and Facebook mama friends about bullying.  I’m sure it’ll be fine. This kid probably doesn’t even realize what he’s doing could be considered bullying.  Oy.

These kids just keep it interesting, don’t they?


A Little Extra Thoughtful Gift Giving

Yesterday we had a kid birthday party to go to.  I was expecting to run to the toy store at the last minute (like I usually do) to pick up Legos, or some such age-related plastic, which, after a busy week trying to juggle full-time work with school conferences, 3 days of early dismissals and 2 days of missed daycare due to a vacationing  provider, paired with being down 1 vehicle , I wasn’t exactly experiencing that thoughtful, generous feeling.

Brooke came to me, and showed me a Play Doh heart she’d made for the birthday guy.  Sweet, but not exactly socially acceptable as a birthday gift.  I told her we can give him that, but we should also get a toy.

She says she wants to find one of her toys that’s “boy-ly” (boyish?) to give him, ie: a regift.

I must have really been wiped out, because I found myself saying “Brooke, in this society that we’ve found ourselves living in, it’s generally expected that we buy something new for someone’s birthday”.

Then I stepped outside of myself for a minute, and slapped the realization back into my brain, that my daughter is offering to give him something of hers which she treasured (if only for a day or so), which is thoughtful, and isn’t that real point of gift giving?  And my kinder, gentler, liberal, non-consumerist spirit kicked in to gear, and I actually got excited for the kid birthday party!

She picked out this cute little alligator, which could be considered boyly, and was only played with once or twice, and in excellent shape.

Next up was the issue of wrapping paper.

One thing that presents a continual challenge throughout my adulthood, is gift wrapping.

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that my sister Allie is a serious, gift wrapping champ.  Her gifts are impeccable.  There is usually some element of surprise, such as your name spelled out in tiny little stamped letters in gold ink on some stark white, heavy stock, with perfectly rustic twine or some shit tied into some kind of weird but amazing bow shape that you’ve never seen before, pulling it all together, perfectly. There is never more than 3 pieces of tape involved.  It’s special, beautiful, thoughtful, and therefore feeds my self consciousness efficiently!

Well, not anymore, because I love myself, and my sister loves me too, so what’s the fuss? And, last year, a good friend taught me something that has forever cured my wrapping related self loathing (thank you, Cindy).  Hand painted gift wrap!  Here’s what’s so great about it:

1. You don’t have to wrap the present perfectly with this paper.  It’s made by kids, therefore it’s crinkled, sloppy, and sometimes a little ripped.  THAT’S THE CHARM!

2. You can make it the day of the party, which keeps the kids occupied, so that they’re busy, instead of asking you 25 times if it’s time to go to the party yet.

3. It’s special, because it’s hand made. So, if you don’t have appropriately themed paper, it’s OK!

All we had on-hand, yesterday was this cheap tissue paper from the dollar store.  Add some white paint and it’s a work of art!  Plus, I had a chance to sit at the table with my beautiful daughter and teach her how to make a five pointed star.  There are few things I love more than sitting down at the table with a cutie pie and some paint, and in this over-scheduled world, when there’s an opportunity to bond like this, it’s just the nicest feeling!

So the moral of this story is that you don’t have to be perfectly neat to be cool, thoughtful and memorable.  If your inner self is a little sloppy, embrace it!  If your inner self is perfectly neat, embrace that too!

Either way, when you get creative, you end up with something extra special that feels good to share with someone you care about.

xoxo, Mere


For more inspiration, here are a few more cool examples of kid-make-able wrapping paper for you and your little ones!

Pom Pom Wrapping Paper – Housing A Forest

Wrap it up | In Stitches – A Subtle Revelry

Lego Print Wrapping Paper – Mamalibrarian

DIY Wrapping Paper Tutorial - Sugar Bee Crafts

Birth Control

Last Monday, after finding a pretty little china tea set in the closet, my daughter and I decided to invite the neighbors over on Friday (yesterday) for a special tea party.  How cute are we?!


Yesterday I spent all day literally scrubbing the shit out of my house.  I cleaned every single surface of my downstairs.  Base boards, walls, cabinets, shelves, floors.  Everything got dusted and scrubbed.  I was so excited when it was finished, but then realized that I only had 1/2 hour left to go to the grocery store and buy food for the party, before I needed to get Brooke off the bus.

Since she’s in kindergarten, I have to meet her at the bus stop, or else they’ll take her back to the school and call me, which would be the ultimate fail.

I packed Leif into the car as fast as possible, motored to the store, and promised a small toy in return for his ultimate cooperation.

At the store, we have a full cart and 10 minutes to spare.  Just enough time to pick out a toy, pay and get home in time.

Leif is indecisive.  He flip flops from one crappy toy to the next.  This is starting to make me sweat.  I’m scared we won’t have time.  I give him a 2 minute warning.  He doesn’t find what he wants.  I pick up a toy and hand it to him, get down to his level, look him in the eye, and say, YOU CAN HAVE THIS. CHRISTMAS IS COMING. WE NEED TO LEAVE RIGHT NOW, WE CAN’T MISS BROOKE…. OK?

NOT. OK.  He launches a full-blown tantrum.  I put him in the cart and run to the line.

In front of me is a lovely Jamaican woman.  She’s laughing at his tantrum.  We commiserate.  This is going well.

He turns up the volume.  Jamaican woman gives me a look, and barks out “PICK HIM UP!  PICK HIM UP!  PICK HIM UP”.  Uh oh.

Scared, I try picking him up.  He shoves me.  He punches me, right in the boob.  I am embarrassed.

I start whispering in his ear, which kind of gets him to calm down.

Jamaican woman comes over and hands him, seriously, a KIT KAT.  WHAT?  His head spins completely around on its axis, as he screams NOOO at her.  Now she’s scared.  She goes, “OH, HE MAD!” and runs away.

The crying continues.  I’m running low on time, only minutes left until I’m late for the bus.  It’s hot in the store.  It’s crowded.  Leif is still screaming bloody murder.  I look around.  Everyone in the store looks absolutely miserable.  Some are looking miserably at me.  Scratch that, everyone is looking miserably at me.

What’s the holdup in the line?  Uh oh.  The 80 year old checkout lady is coming around to help Jamaican woman, who can’t seem to figure out how to use the credit card swipe machine.

I’m literally living a nightmare.  Time stands still, I can hear my own heartbeat, and in a feat of superhuman strength, I wrestle the struggling Leif out of the cart, leave all the food that was laid out on the conveyor belt, and begin to book it out of the store.  He is REALLY screaming now.  The Jamaican woman is screaming “Don’t leave, I’m sorry, I’ll be done soon!”  I yell (but with his screaming, it actually looks like I’m mouthing) the words “I HAVE TO PICK MY DAUGHTER UP AT THE BUS, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT, I DON’T HAVE TIME!”.  She mouths back “OK”.

We turn and begin booking it out of there again, and now, 3 woman are screaming at me not to leave! WTF?? I look back and one’s jumping and waving Leif’s shoe in the air.  I can’t get out of here!  I have to go back for the shoe.  When will this end?

Finally, shoe in hand I begin running toward the exit.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the grocery store is staring at me.  My face is red hot.  I’m fighting tears.

We get in the car and begin driving home.  He’s screaming.  I can’t speak.  After a few minutes, I look back at him, and barely choke out the words “YOU CAN’T ACT LIKE THAT!”.  My voice is not my own.  It sounds hoarse, angry and growly.  Like the voice of a bear, if a bear tried to talk.

What have I become?

He continues to cry, and then starts what sounds like puking.  Un. Be. Leivable.  This has never happened.  I couldn’t even look.  Finally he stops crying.

Miraculously when we arrive at the bus stop, I look, and there’s no puke anywhere!  There is a god.

Calmly, I pick up Brooke.  Leif now acts like nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

I drive home.  Leaving the happy kids in the car, and go inside.  I call my neighbor, planning to cancel, knowing that’s going to be extremely disappointing to the unsuspecting, and undeserving Brooke.  What else can I do?

I begin telling her the story.  She cuts me off and says, come over, drop your kids off here, then go finish your grocery shopping.

There are just some people who come into your life, and literally may become your angel, if only for a moment.  This is one of those people.

I took her up on her offer.  I went to the ghetto-ass Save-A-Lot, because I can never go back to Stop and Shop, and we had the tea party, just a little late.

I look back on that episode as one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. That might sound melodramatic, but it’s really true.  I literally am in a cold sweat as I write and relive this story.  Don’t let this happen to you folks.  Don’t try to take a 3 year old to the grocery store in a rush.


In honor of my favorite Veteran (a day late).

My dad in Vietnam, creating happiness from a shitty situation.

Let your soul be seen, your heart be heard

Do something earth shatteringly beautiful today.

You possess the joy, the love and happiness already.

Let your self be loud.  Your heart beats wild and free.

Your voice is a bird that longs to sing.

There is a message that the earth and sky need to hear.

Let those who will hear it, be near.

Find a trance-like state of bliss.  You are human, and this can be achieved.

Your inner wisdom speaks volumes if you allow it.  It comes from somewhere else.  Listen to it.

Life is a gift, there is magic there if you let it filter through you.

Celebrate death.  It is not the end.  There are no endings.

Look through your tears, and find immense peace.  It is there for you.

No one else can do what you can do. Take comfort in that knowledge, and share it with us.

(The photo was taken by my Uncle Bill, who was my dad’s best friend in Vietnam, and who introduced him to my mom.  Thanks Uncle Bill!).

So…. Homework

I never had homework when I was 5.  I really wanted it.  I craved it!  I had an older sister who had it, so it must be cool, right!?

Once I got it, I learned pretty quick that it actually sucks, but that’s a story for another day.

Today’s story is about my daughter.  She gets homework.  She goes to kindergarten, full day.  Kindergarten today, is not the kindergarten of my youth.  It’s no joke.  There will be reading!  There will be writing!  There will be 1 short recess, and not enough time to eat all of your lunch!!!

The first homework assignment was exciting for us both!  She got that s*** done!  We felt proud.

The second, not so much.

It came on Monday, and was due Thursday.

It went like this:

ME: Hey Brooke, do you feel like doing homework? (I came on weak, I didn’t feel like dealing with it.)

Brooke: Ummm, no.

Me: (I don’t say anything, I’m tired.)


BROOKE: WHY???  I did homework ALL DAY at school!!!

ME: It’s due tomorrow. DO IT.


ME: You’re going to regret this when it’s almost time for school, and you’re scrambling to get it done, and your teacher won’t be happy with you.

BROOKE: (Ignored me)

Thursday, 7:30 AM:




ME: I’m going upstairs to do my hair.  Do it now.

10 minutes later, Brooke comes in to my room, crying.

I could see how badly her heart was broken.  She’d let herself down.  I softened my approach, we go downstairs.  Apparently, she was so mad about homework, that she scribbled all over it with orange colored pencil.  Then, she tried to “re-rase” it with a damp rag, resulting in a huge hole in the middle of the homework paper.

You know, that kind of made me proud of her.  Like, “hey teacher, f*** you… and your homework, I’m FIVE!!”.  But of course, I can’t let her be that girl…yet.

So we fixed it up as best we could, and everything turned out OK.

And then the next week, we approached homework with a much more positive attitude, and finished it right away, instead of procrastinating.

Dear God: if I can teach my child not to procrastinate, I will feel like my life had true purpose.

I’ll let you know how that works out.

So, being as though I know we all love a numbered list: Presenting, my
5 Tips For Surviving Homework

(If you have a kindergartner, because lord knows,

I have no idea how to raise anyone over the age of 6.)

1. Be fun and playful!  Make it seem like, “OMG, this is going to be awesome!  Do you want to hear what we have to do right now?  You do!??  Look, let’s color this cute little bear on your worksheet, and then there’s a GAME, where you color these apples green or red, based on whether there’s a letter or number inside.  THEN, you can do this SUPER EASY part, where you right the letter E over and over again, as FAST as you can!  You can have a SNACK while you have all this fun!  READY, SET, GO!!!!!”

2. When it’s done, make a huge deal out of it.  Make them feel like their work is so good, their coloring looks AMAZING!!!  I am proud!  And you should be proud, are you PROUD???!!!

3.  Tell another person in the room about the amazing job they did. Reinforcement!

4. Let them do something fun like watch a movie or go for a bike ride when they’re finished. Reward (duh).

5. Ask them for help with something a little while later.  Let them feel that you trust them even more now, because you recognize how smart and capable they are.  It will reinforce that pride, and god-willing, feed their hunger to cooperate and do their best next time it’s a homework day.

Good luck, parents.

xoxo, Mere