Pinterest Stole My Cool

Back to School: The Happiest Time of Year

Posted on Sep 13, 2016 in Adulthood Stole My Cool, My Kid Stole My Cool, Pinterest Stole My Cool

Back to School: The Happiest Time of Year 3

Most of you probably saw the title of this post and thought, “Why is she writing about Back to School now? My kids have been in school for weeks!”

No need to rub it in.

Yes, your kids have probably been in school for a week, or weeks, or since mid-August (I’m looking at you, Floridians), but my kids just started preschool this week. As in, the week after Labor Day. BUT IT’S FINALLY HERE. MY TIME HAS COME.

For weeks I’ve watched (via social media, natch) my friends across the country ship their kids off to school in cute outfits after posing with a cute chalkboard sign while the moms (usually) lament their babies growing up.

Now, the first day of school cute outfits? I can get behind cute outfits. The more my kids will hate them when they’re older, the better.


The bigger the bow, the better.

Go big (with the bow) or go home.


He's so going to hate me for this, but I don't even care.

He’s so going to hate me for this, but I don’t even care.


But once we get to the emotional outpourings surrounding the beginning of school, I start to disconnect. My heart must be made of stone because I was literally counting down the hours until I could drop my kids off at class. I only have love for those weepy parents – I promise you, I have my emotional mother moments, too. But back to school ain’t one of them.

James, my two-year-old, is in “school” six hours a week. Six out of 168. If your child is like mine and spends not only most of his waking hours with you, but also most of his “sleeping” hours, those six hours of school are a godsend. Elisabeth, my five-year-old, is now in school five days a week, or 15 hours. My sweet girl is a lover. When she’s not at school, you can probably find her with her arms wrapped around me and her head buried in my chest. Her 15 hours at school are 15 glorious hours of me NOT BEING TOUCHED.   So unless my children are going to magically turn into teenagers during those few hours spent at preschool, I’m not going to get emotional about it.



Night before school texting.


But what I really want to talk about is the ubiquitous chalkboard sign. For those without children or without friends with children, the thing these days is to have your child pose with a sign displaying some sort of variation of their name, age, teacher’s name, what they want to be when they grow up, political party, IQ, languages spoken, etc.

No doubt, these signs are adorable. But I have some questions: When did this become a thing? Where do these signs come from? Are they reusable? Are parents purchasing them from some mass back-to-school sign retailer? Or – God forbid – are they making them themselves?

If you haven’t guessed, I did not do signs. For one thing, I don’t know our teachers’ names, and probably won’t for about another three weeks. And another thing, Elisabeth wants to be a doctor/mommy/candy maker/Olympic swimmer when she grows ups, which wouldn’t fit on a sign anyway. (When I asked James what he wanted to be, he growled at me. Make of that what you will.)

I noticed many variations on the sign. One back to school picture I saw was a simple, “First Day of T-K!” written in chalk on a pre-owned easel. “I could totally do that!” I told myself. Until I remembered I don’t own a chalkboard easel.* If I did, my son would color chalk everywhere but the easel and then smash the easel over his sister’s head. So that’s out. I noticed a few parents who downgraded from the chalkboard signs to old-school paper and marker. Mad respect for bucking the chalkboard trend. Maybe I’ll swing that next year for kindergarten.

My guess is the Back-to-School Chalkboard Sign originated somewhere on Pinterest and exploded. I would be lying if I said I never succumbed to Pinterest’s influence. (See: My son’s disastrous 1st birthday cake smash photo shoot.) But the chalkboard signs seem especially like a lot of work during an already busy back to school season. So I’m going to pass for now. (But seriously, are you all making these yourselves? I have to know.)

Parents, enjoy your signs – and more importantly, your freedom!


*Oh my gosh, I just remembered I DO own a mini chalkboard easel. It is broken and all the chalk is missing or has been thrown away. Presumably James snapped all the chalk pieces into bits, rendering them unusable. No nice things for us.

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Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That (Sorry, Second Children)

Posted on Jun 11, 2015 in My Kid Stole My Cool, Pinterest Stole My Cool, The Kids Are Actually Cute

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That (Sorry, Second Children) 2

Sweet baby James turned one about two weeks ago.   I know. I can hardly believe it myself.  To say that his first year was one of my most challenging would be… entirely accurate.  Like, it was soul-crushing, haven’t-slept-through-the-night-in-a-year, crying-in-the-shower stressful and exhausting. Not that it’s his fault. But between a baby, a deployment, a cross-country move (international for my husband), a home purchase and a renovation, life got a little overwhelming. Not to mention my kids were sick ALL THE TIME.  We basically lived at our pediatrician’s office. And the gastroenterologist’s… the urologist’s…. the ENT’s… the ER. So while I hate to see James turning into a toddler (too fast! too fast!), I am looking forward to a calmer second year. And befriending someone other than my child’s doctor. One can hope. And maybe in this second year, James will finally start to get near the amount of attention his sister did at his age. I like to think the craziness of the last year contributed to the unequal attention Elisabeth and James received as babies. But let’s be honest – James is a second child. It was never going to be the same for him. Before James was born, I accepted that his baby stage would never exactly mimic Elisabeth’s. But I convinced myself James would not suffer second-child neglect. I believed I could cuddle/play with/read to/lie around doing nothing with James just as much as I had with Baby Elisabeth, without Toddler Elisabeth feeling totally abandoned. I also believed I could do so in a way that wouldn’t make me totally insane. This is called delusion.  I quickly learned that life with the second baby is completely different than life with the first baby.  Mainly because that precious resource you had as a first time parent – time – is now quite scarce. I finally understand why I am so much better adjusted than my two younger brothers. Sorry, Second Children. (I’d apologize to third children, but third children are too laid back to care.)   So here you have it. The most obvious signs of...

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Just Say No

Posted on Nov 19, 2013 in Pinterest Stole My Cool

Just Say No 2

After Elisabeth’s incredibly anticlimactic 1st Halloween last year, I know you’re all dying to know how I handled the holiday this year.  Even three weeks after the fact. So here you go: I didn’t. I just said “No”.  I said “No” to Halloween.  I said “No” to the Pinterest and Etsy-inspired expectations.  I said “No” to the frilly tutus and over-the-top costumes which require a professional seamstress to craft.  I said “No” to dressing my child up as a character whom she wouldn’t even recognize, because she doesn’t watch any TV except Elmo.  And I said “No” to Elmo, because, well, a neighborhood kid was already going as Elmo and I didn’t want Elisabeth to steal his thunder.  Plus, I hate Elmo.  That voice.  It’s the worst. Anyway, I almost didn’t say “No.”  I spent a couple of wasted hours searching online for the perfect costume, which let me tell you, doesn’t exist.  After marveling at how expensive and grossly tasteless most TODDLER costumes were , I said, “To Hell with this overblown holiday!” I then went to, where I at least knew the quality of the costume would be semi-decent, found the cheapest option on sale, and purchased.  Bonus?  It was gender-neutral!  Should I ever have a boy, guess what he’s going to be?  A pumpkin! Yup, I bought Elisabeth a freaking pumpkin costume.  Quite possibly the most boring, predictable Halloween costume available.  Such was my rejection of Halloween’s unspoken costume competitiveness (who will have the most creative costume? the cutest kid? the most original outfit?), I dressed my daughter as one of its principal symbols.  I suppose I could have dressed her as a black cat, and that would have been equally cliché.  Maybe next year. My newfound freedom from the reigns of our Pinterest-obsessed mom world felt goooood.  I definitely spared myself a few gray hairs by not worrying about something as trivial as a Halloween costume.  Because guess what?  The costume choice mattered not at all to Elisabeth.  She would have screamed her head off no matter what costume I dressed her in. Ah,...

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How Not to Host a Holiday Brunch

Posted on Apr 21, 2013 in Pinterest Stole My Cool

How Not to Host a Holiday Brunch 4

Easter was three weeks ago, but since I’m still finding plastic eggs around my house, I figure it’s still appropriate to tell you all about the Easter brunch I hosted for Damon’s coworkers and their families. But first, here’s some free advice for you all: Don’t decide to host a major holiday function because you have some cute decor you purchased last year at a major discount from Williams-Sonoma and you’ve been waiting a whole year to display it.  Because it will rain and you won’t even be able to use the cute decor.  And then you’re stuck hosting 40-50 people in your small-ish, undecorated house.  And that requires cooking and cleaning and everything else you’re not naturally good at and you won’t even have decorations to distract from the fact that your food sucks and your house is dirty.  So just don’t do it. Seriously.  What was I thinking? I actually love hosting, I really do.  But Easter is a big holiday.  40-50 people is a lot of people.  75-100 Easter eggs to stuff and hide for the egg hunt you also offered to host is a lot of eggs.  It’s all just a lot of pressure. To take some of that pressure off, I made the brunch a pot-luck.  That way guests could bring their own time-honored, traditional dishes that you have to have for Easter to be Easter.  I would cook the ham, a side, and a dessert. There.  Food was set.  Next I rented tables and chairs that we would set up outside, since we certainly couldn’t fit everyone inside. Then I realized that the decorations that had been the impetus for this celebration wouldn’t be enough and I would have to do some online shopping.  Obviously I would need pastel tablecloths, matching tableware sets and candy cups.  Was I originally planning on making individual candy cups?  No.  But once I saw them on the party store’s website, I knew they would be imperative to the success of my party. I was feeling pretty good about everything.  As the big day approached, the weather forecast...

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What Would Martha Do: The Birthday Blowout

Posted on Jan 24, 2013 in Pinterest Stole My Cool

What Would Martha Do: The Birthday Blowout 3

Elisabeth and I recently attended one of her little buddy’s first birthday party.  It was “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” themed and it was so freaking cute.  I have got to give this mom props.  She is moving in a matter of weeks.  She has no furniture but “stick furniture” – the stuff the base loans you once they have packed up and shipped out all your real stuff.  Besides being sans furniture (and most major kitchen appliances, I would assume), she was and is undoubtedly dealing with the major stress of organizing and executing an overseas military move.  Yet she pulled off a seriously awesome first birthday party for her little guy. Colorful lanterns hung from the ceiling to look like the little caterpillar!  The food served was all the food the very hungry caterpillar ate – strawberries, oranges, sausage, cheese, cupcakes!  I mean come on!  So cute!  So creative!  Even birthday boy Jonas had an adorable little onesie that corresponded with the theme.  I was admiring her handiwork when I realized, We are crazy.  The whole lot of us.* This mom is probably one of those women who pulls together cute and creative theme parties effortlessly.  I’ve seen some of her baking creations, so I assume she is talented in these sorts of things.  But while coordinating a move?  And without a Kitchenaid?  My goodness!  That is love for child right there. If it were me, and I were moving, I would also have thrown Elisabeth as rockin’ a party as possible.  Even though she wouldn’t remember it.  Even though it would probably cause me unhealthy levels of stress.  As it was, Elisabeth’s party fell just days after Damon returned home from deployment and on a holiday weekend.  What was that about unhealthy levels of stress?  Yet I’d be damned if she didn’t get a memorable first birthday party.  (Um, a second first birthday party.  She also had a party when we were visiting the states.  She is so the first child.)  I blame – as I often do on this blog – Pinterest.  Because Pinterest has placed...

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My Halloween Horror Story

Posted on Oct 31, 2012 in Pinterest Stole My Cool

As a new mom, many things cause me anxiety.  Germs.  Illness.  Choking hazards.  Falls.  The list goes on.  But here’s the big one, the one that has instigated endless angst: Halloween. Is it the weirdos out trolling the streets?  The potential for poison-tainted candy?  The impending sugar high of a child who has gorged herself on Kit-Kats? No, of course not.  Elisabeth can’t walk, let alone Trick-or-Treat.  I’ll deal with those issues next year.  For now, my Halloween horror is this: that my daughter will be doomed to don a cliché costume. News flash: I can’t sew.  I don’t do crafty.  I’m creatively challenged.  So last Halloween when – at nine months pregnant – I started seeing all these imaginative, original costumes popping up on my Facebook and Pinterest feeds, I began to stress.  Yes, I began stressing about my daughter’s Halloween costume a year ago.  Before she was born.  (I recognize that this probably qualifies me as insane, but aren’t all moms a little insane about something or other?) Now before I came out to California, I specifically told my mother that she was not to buy Elisabeth a Halloween costume.  She had three kids to dress up for years; this was my turn.  I only have so many years before Elisabeth starts voicing an opinion on these things, so I need to take advantage of her silence now.  But guess what I found hanging in the closet when I arrived?  A Carter’s elephant costume my mom had bought at Costco.  An elephant.  How uninspired!  Any old baby can be an elephant.  This would not do for my Elisabeth. I strengthened my resolve to find Elisabeth a costume that would wow.  I obviously wasn’t go to make something myself, so where did I turn?  Etsy, of course. Bad idea.  Since when did creativity come at such a high cost?  And since when did every little girl’s item involve a tutu?  Can’t somebody somewhere think of something unique, inexpensive and tutu-less?  Is that so much to ask?!  (Just don’t look at me.  I’ve got nothing.) This brings me to...

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