I only want FOUR things for my kids

You know that moment when you hold your new baby and you just want all the goodness and happiness in the world for that baby?

You want them to never have pain. Never experience heart-ache. Never have a single person say a negative thing to them.

Of course you realize in the back of your head that those wishes aren't realistic (or probably healthy), but you cannot imagine HOW anyone would ever want to hurt this little soul.

And then they poop all over you, scream when they are hungry, cry and arch their back when they are tired, and eventually talk back to you! YOU! The one who gave them life and survival and once wished nothing bad to ever come to them.

Welp. That is when you realize life isn't roses for anyone. And good thing, too. This kid needs some doses of reality.

I've been at this human-raising gig for almost 16 years (!!) and while I am still a newbie to many, I have concluded that there are only FOUR things I really want for my kids to have by the time they leave this nest we call home and venture out as adults in the world.

1: WORK!

I want my kids to know how to work. To clean their rooms, sure, but also clean parts of the house that they didn't mess up. And mow the lawns. And weed. So many weeds to weed. I want my kids to know how to study, learn, take responsibility for grades and projects. I hope my kids learn that earning money isn't easy. Spending it is a breeze, but someone has to make it and that is some tough work at times.

I hope my kids work hard at something and can look at it and be proud. They can see how nice the yard looks after they spent an hour (or two) weeding it and feel satisfaction. I also hope my kids experience how sometimes you can work really hard and not see any results or get a bad grade, regardless if you put in the work. Because that is real life.

2: BE KIND!

Every school year we come up with a family theme to help our children have success and family camaraderie. As I look back on the last six years, almost all of them have to do with being kind and treating others with respect. Whether we like it or not, our children are learning A LOT about judgement and divisiveness, whether it is about politics, others' beliefs, or the social ladder of their peers. We hear about bullying and cyber-bullying and abuse. Facebook is full of "Look at what this group who I disagree with is doing--SO HORRIBLE!" and US vs THEM. I get dizzy thinking about all of the examples I could use for hurt in the world.

If I could wish for anything for my kids, I wish for them to be kind. To be slow to react in anger or excuse and quick to help. I hope my children are thoughtful humans who see when someone is alone or hurting and choose to be someone who responds. To understand that almost everyone is different than they are, and that is not something to fear or shun.

One of our family sayings (that result in many eyerolls) is "you can't control anyone but yourself." Even if you are kind, others will not be. People will judge and hate you. Oh freaking well. Let that be their problem. Be kind, anyway.

3: BE GRATEFUL!

All good things come from gratitude. If you are grateful for your body, you won't treat it like a garbage can OR hate that it doesn't look like someone else's body. If you are grateful for your friends, you won't want to gossip about them. If you are truly grateful, you find the positive instead of being someone who complains. There are always negatives AND positives.

Many people claim that because they see the negatives, they are realists. Which may be the case. I know there are plenty of realities and negatives. They're as obvious as the sun at noonday. It's much trickier to find the positives. To be grateful for the day, even when it is filled with pain and suffering. To realize that you're going to be sick, have pain, experience frustration and failure, but hey, you also have X, Y, and Z and those are some pretty great things in life, too.

4. HAVE FAITH!

I realize that my children may not believe in the same God I believe in. That their spiritual path may take them somewhere else completely. What I wish for them is that they believe in SOMETHING more than themselves. More than this piece of rock spinning in space. That there is MORE to life than what they see and do.

I want my kids to have faith in more. Because I believe that people who have faith in something more than themselves are people with purpose. Purpose drives you to do the right things, even if there is nobody who will see it. Even if you aren't getting credit. Doing more because you believe that there is more to life than work and pleasure. People with faith look outside of their world and help lift others. Whether that is because of a belief in God, gods, or the Universe, I hope my kids have faith.

WORK, KINDNESS, GRATITUDE, FAITH

What you will notice is that I don't say success, ivy league education, marriage, children, money, health, athletics, or anything else. Many of those things are out of their control, anyway. And they don't guarantee a happy life or responsibility for creating a good one.

And that's really it. You can't guarantee much in this life. But just like I tell my kids "you can't control anyone but yourself" even then you can only control your actions and your responses TODAY. Nothing is promised. But I hope that if my kids grow into adults who WORK, are KIND, GRATEFUL, and have FAITH, that they will be happy. And that people around them will be happier because of the humans I call children.

Who knows? Here's to hoping.

What do you wish for your children?

Mom Jokes

In sixth grade I realized that I was funny.

And that nobody cared.

Our entire sixth grade class was sitting on the floor in a circle, because OBVIOUSLY that is what you do in sixth grade. You sit on floors in a circle. Bless the hearts of sixth grade teachers.

We were sitting in a circle and my teacher made some comment and I replied with some snarky comeback, but fairly under my breath. I mean, I didn’t want to get in trouble or anything.

Nobody laughed.

TWO seconds later, Nathan N said the EXACT SAME THING but louder and with that sixth-grade boy inflection. Everyone busted up laughing.

Well, I didn’t. I am pretty sure I looked right at him with a confused face, like “whoa, bro! Did you really just say what I just said?”

Here’s the thing: I don’t think people realize that they take jokes and claim them as their own. It’s happened to me and I have seen it happen so many times throughout my life, that I believe these “joke amplifiers” think that the little joke angel on their shoulder whispered it into their ears.

Some people imagine that they have an angel and a devil perched on their shoulders, telling them what to do (or not to do). Other people must think that there are joke angels, whispering funny comebacks and puns. Oftentimes, I bet you those "joke angels" are telling jokes someone else just said or some joke they saw before and now are claiming as their own. Not maliciously, mind you. Just unaware.

I wrote a joke recently with a little naked boy eating a loaf of bread. I wrote on it:

"Go to bed? I thought you said, 'Go the bread'!"

It just came to me so easily and I thought to myself, "Ha! Genius. You've done it again, Anna!"

Two separate comments mentioned that it was a line from the Simpsons. D'oh.

I'm not even sure if I saw that Simpsons episode, but I could have. We are all guilty of repurposing other people's jokes—intentionally or not. Because there isn't really such a thing as a new joke. We are all borrowing humor from everywhere and everyone. That's why we all laugh at similar things.

In fact, some of my favorite jokes are most definitely not my own. They are the quintessential "dad jokes" that I, of course, love to call "mom jokes" because duh, I'm a mom.

Here are my Top Ten Mom Jokes (for now)—feel free to use them and claim as your own, because that's what we do and that's who we are... and I'm over it, Nathan N!

And this last one is not funny, per se, but has become notorious around our house. It's impossible to say anything about "driving me nuts" without me talking about cowboy butts. Can't. Help. Myself.

Why do I tell these jokes? Who knows, but I am pretty sure Freud said it best when he explained:

What is YOUR favorite joke to tell? Best joke winner buys dinner!

a

Sexy Sax Man

My neighbor is a millennial.

The best kind of millennial, I should say. He is super smart, builds additions on his own home, moves his work schedule around so he can be home with his boys part of the day while his wife works and he can spend more time with them, makes great banana bread, shows my kids all the cool tricks on our trampoline, knows all the cool indie bands. In short, he's like, really rad. Their whole family is. Which is why when they asked if we could put a gate between our homes so we can take shortcuts and the kids can babysit and play more easily, we didn't think twice about saying yes.

Neighbor gate for the win.

BUT...

(You knew there would be a "but," didn't you?)

Our coolest neighbor had no idea what we were talking about the other day when we brought up the sexy sax man and the viral video of six years ago. Never heard of it.

Say what?

Whatchoo talkin' about, Willis?

(Yeah, he probably wouldn't get that reference either. But would laugh politely because he's nice, to boot.)

Of course we have been listening to a lot of George Michael lately. And Billy Joel, for some reason, but I digress. My husband and I both thought the lyrics on Careless Whisper were "guilty feeling, got no rhythm" but on my 100th listen in a week, I heard George sing "feet have" not "feeling!" Guilty feet have got no rhythm! Which started a search and discussion and just your average good time in our house.

We were talking about this with our millennial neighbor, which lead to the hilarious use of the saxophone in the 80s, which of course made my husband laugh as he recalled the Sexy Sax Man.

And that's where we lost him. So, I promised I'd send him the link, but then I wondered how many people have not had the privilege of listening and watching this "old" viral video. So, I share. Because that's what I do. I am the old, crazy neighbor with four nutty kids and a cute dog who runs away too much.

Enjoy:

Is it still funny? Have our tastes for viral hilarity changed?

AnnaM

Christmas Cards are Ringing

A week or so ago I read an article my friend Kat wrote about sending and receiving holiday cards. And gosh darnit, my black no-time-for-cards-this-year heart grew two and two-thirds sizes that day. She's right, you know. ("I send out Christmas cards to slow things down. I send them to keep the frenzy of the season at bay. I send them to remind myself of all of the good around me.")

So, I'm pulling up my Santa pants and putting together a Christmas card to send out this year. It might not be super fancy and the photo might be taken from our iPhone, but it's going to send out a little physical reminder of our love to those we care about most.

Here was our Christmas card from way back in 2013:

My mother-in-law didn't think it was funny, because she called my husband asking why he didn't tell her that we were having another baby. Sometimes my humor borders on cruelty, it seems. And hey, I had bleached hair! Those were some good times.

This year, I want to play a fun Christmas/holiday card game. Send me your Christmas card! That's it. Just send me a card. Isn't that fun?

Jk. Send me a card, yes. But then I will pick ten (maybe more) cards to win stuff. I already have some great prizes, like free Apple Music, Thread Wallets, Kids are the Worst shirts, treats, and more! My kids and I will pick ones that we think are funny, or pretty, or simple, or rad, or with girls that my boys think are cute, or just a random winner because it came to us on a Thursday.

You know you have an extra card hanging around, so what do you have to lose? And I will feature them on Instagram Stories--maybe even put a few up for popular vote to win something. There are no straight rules, because this is a fun, new game spreading fun, new cheer to fun, new friends. You can send a Hallmark card, for all I care. Or a card you had from 2013.

Send your cards to:

Anna c/o Things Are the Worst
PO Box 521048
Salt Lake City, UT 84152-1048

Maybe the first card I get wins something fun. So, hurry! Send me your cards. And add your Instagram handle somewhere on the back of the card so I can find you there, too.

Any questions?

Holiday Gift List 2016, MOMS!!

So, maybe you will have to suggest your kids or significant other read this post for ideas to get you for the holidays this year. Or, if you're like me, you can buy your own gifts, wrap them, and act surprised when you open it up! Those are the best gifts I've ever received/given.

Who knows what you love to wear more than you do? I love everything from The StockPlace, so I would suggest my husband or kids just go and shop out of my online shopping cart or get me a gift card. I can always find something from The StockPlace--they have great prices and clothes you don't easily find on other clothing websites.

Remind the woman in your life every day how important she is with a wall quote from LatterDayHome. I still remember all the cross-stitched wall art my mom had hung in our home when I was a child. Don't just put up anything on your walls, put up something that has meaning and words you want to remember... and your kids to remember. LatterDayHome has beautiful quotes with the option to have it framed and ready to hang!

I love to give a little sweet in all my gifts, and I love receiving a little treat even more. I always say that nothing tastes as good as chocolate you didn't buy yourself. For the Sweet makes the most delicious cookies and macarons I have ever had. When we tried their lemon cookies, my son tried shoving them in his mouth so he could eat them all before we could get more bites. That is no exaggeration, either. For the Sweet is really that good. And she can send her cookies throughout the United States.

Maybe a bit sweeter than cookies is my love for jewelry. I love little necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. My mother says you can always buy a lady purses and jewelry, for they will always fit! I purchased a Made By Mary choker a few months ago and I love how dainty but sturdy it is. Plus, it's just rad. Customize a necklace for yourself or your mother from so many darling choices at Made by Mary. Hand-stamped bars and discs that will show your style and your personality! What would you have hand-stamped on your necklace? I think I'd choose "JK, yo!" Maybe.

More clothes? Yes, always! SonnetJames makes dresses that moms can play in. How genius is that? No worrying about bra straps showing or being too short when you bend down to play with your kids. And the great part about dresses is that all you have to choose when you get dressed is ONE thing and everyone thinks you're all dressed up. Hip hip hooray for dresses. And an extra HIP for the cozy and cool look for SonnetJames dresses!

When you get pregnant, amazing things happen to your hair. You get thicker, more beautiful hair because it's not falling out as quickly. And something about the hormones makes it all shiny, too! Then you have the baby and it all falls out. And then you have toddlers and they pull it out. And then you have kids in school and you start pulling out your hair. What's a girl to do? Laced Hair Extensions are amazing because you can clip them in yourself, when you feel you need a little extra. They are beautiful hair extensions, too. I am amazed at how many women use hair extensions to fill in their lackluster hair after pregnancy. When I tried Laced Hair, I understood.

What's cuter than pajamas for kids on Christmas? Mom in her own cute pajamas, ready to take photos with the kids. I tend to wear leggings to bed or old, ratty sweatpants. I need some new cool pajamas that I wouldn't be embarrassed to have my picture taken in for all posterity to see. LazyOnes have funny pajama sets for the whole family, so everyone can look presentable Christmas morning. And every evening. I love the Flapjacks from LazyOnes.

Inevitably, there will be a time in the winter where you will want to get in a hot tub or take a last-minute vacation to somewhere tropical (I want to! Can I go?). Be ready for any swimsuit occasion with the coolest thing to ever happen to swimwear: the DoliRay Romper. Put it on over your swimsuit or buy one of their very flattering and comfortable swimsuits and jump in, play, wear it in and outside of the water. I get compliments every time I wear my DoliRay Romper, probably because I'm so confident when I wear it.

Sometimes you just need to stay inside all day long and don't want to wear those ratty sweats or even the cute pajamas. Remember how our mothers used to wear house dresses? Well, what if I told you that lounge dresses are back, but now they are stylish, modern, and just as practical? LuckyLove makes a lounge dress you wouldn't mind leaving the house in. With pockets to grab all the items around the house, or to keep your smartphone close at hand... I love anything with pockets! LuckyLove is lounge wear that is classy!

So, what are you going to get yourself for the Holidays? Any specific shop or item you have your eye on?

AnnaM

 

Holiday Gift List 2016, Teenager and College Kids

Teenagers have much more discerning taste than the little kids who are stoked to see balloons around the tree Christmas morning. My teenage kids wish lists include electronics and socks. I'm not kidding: SOCKS!

So I have to get creative and crafty to find gifts I know my kids will love that they don't realize they will love. I think I've found some winners!

Once again, the Hover King! I am not kidding when I say that this is the toy of the year. I am so excited for my kids to have a hover board they can sit on and race... with me. Hover board PLUS conversion kit makes for the coolest and smallest go kart on the market. We live in the city, so there isn't a ton of room for big go karts in our garage, so this is a triple win for us. Go check out hoverlikeaking now before their prices go up or they are sold out. Right now the entire package is a STEAL!

The LetterFolk message boards are adorable, but what surprised me most is how much my kids like making messages on these boards. My teenager likes to write celebratory messages and funny puns. My son likes to write the menu for dinner. I like it for reminders. The whole family loves to write messages on the LetterFolk boards, which wins over electronics every day!

If you have a teenage daughter or know of a teen or college-aged girl, you know about bath bombs! They are the bomb! (Oy, I just showed my age.) Shine Happy Life has bubble bars, bath bombs, body butters, and they all smell great and look amazing. I love how many look like desserts, because great baths are better than a dessert. (So I've heard!) Plus, just having Shine Happy products around will make your daughter's room smell better.

Speaking of happy girls and bedrooms, Aimee Ferre prints add the perfect touch of art and positive reminders of who they are. Aimee designs the most beautiful artwork that my daughter loves to have in her bedroom. If you think her work looks familiar, she also designed our best-selling shirts for Kids are The Worst! We love Aimee!

My son loves to cook and bake. He wakes up first every weekend and asks if he can make waffles or try a new cake recipe. Watch out, Jamie Oliver! When I saw Ashley's Fresh Fix new levoons and levups (measuring spoons and cups with an automatic level), I knew he would dig them. Perfect for the teenager who wants to cook and bake and even better for the college kid who needs to learn how to cook on their own.

sweettoothfairycakebites.PNG

I love having a little treat for my kids in their stockings. Sometimes you want something better than a candy cane. Sweet Tooth Fairy sells their cakebites to deliver nationwide. My daughter loves giving these little packages to her friends and music teachers for the holidays. It is a perfect gift for teens and for teens to give. From now until Monday, November 28, use the code KIDSARETHEWORST at thesweettoothfairy.com to get 20% off your order! Huzzah!

It might seem to soon to think about swimsuits, but there is always winter vacations, hot tubs, and Spring Break just around the corner. Rad Swim has the cutest suits for teens (and women and girls) that my daughter loves. Mix and match or choose from some of RadSwim's adorable one-piece suits. Quality swimwear at a great price, so when your teen daughter is out playing, you aren't worried that it's going to fall apart and cause embarrassment.

Adult coloring books are awesome, but have you ever wanted to learn how to do hand lettering like a professional? I know I have. My kids love to try out new handwriting and letter designs, so they will love this new creative lettering book by HandLetteredDesign. They can learn to letter AND color and spend hours off their mobile devices. Grab a few markers and you've got a great gift for any teenager!

One thing all of my kids love (and my dog, sadly) is the lip balm from It's All Good. These giant chapsticks are so soft and last a long time... unless someone leaves them where my dog can get to it. The flavors are great, they help with our chapped lips in the dry winters, and they come from a rad small company. It's All Good, indeed!

I am sure I can find socks somewhere, too. But now my kids have other things that they never knew they always wanted. What are you getting for your teenage kids?

AnnaM

 

Holiday Gift List 2016, Dads and Men

I don't know about you, but buying presents for my husband and dad are some of the hardest gifts to get. If I asked either of them to make a list, they'd both shrug their shoulders and say something like, "I'd just love a nice note or to spend time with you." Which is super nice, but also kind of a lie. When everyone else is opening presents Christmas morning, you know they would love to have something to open up, as well.

This was not the easiest list to come up with, but when I put it all together it became one of my favorites. I think both my dad and my husband would love all of these items--and so would I!

When I first saw Selfie-Shirts, I knew I needed one or ten. It is such a simple idea but so genius. For the man who should love himself as much as Kanye loves Kanye, can you imagine a better gift than a shirt with his own face on it? Or you can do as I did and put YOUR face on a shirt and give it to your dad or husband. Selfie-Shirts took this fine portrait of me and put them on shirts for all of my kids. Best. Idea. Ever.

Mugs are the perfect gift to give every winter, but skip the "World's Best Father" or even the "World's Best Farter" and go for the really unique and fun with these rad mugs from Creature Cups. I love the creepy animals inside that seem to keep you company with your warm beverage of choice. My husband would love the Cthulhu and my dad would like the lion. Which Creature Cups would you get?

The tie is always a great gift for dad, but Waltman Co Ties has taken tie-giving and wearing to the next level. Not only are these ties super sharp-looking, they also feature a microfiber lining to clean your glasses, smartphone screen, and other electronics. My husband is always asking me to clean his sunglasses and now he can have a handsome way to do it himself! Huzzah and woot woot for the multipurpose tie!

We got a Madsen Bike last year and love riding it around to get groceries, take the kids to the park, make a quick run to get snow cones... you name it. You don't always want to take your car on short errands or places you could easily walk. But when you have kids, you know that you need a quick exit strategy. The Madsen Bike is perfect for all kinds of rides--it is super sturdy, totally handsome, and everyone who sees you will want to know how they can get one, too. On Black Friday they are offering an amazing deal on all bikes: $225 off a Madsen Bike + 20% off all Accessories OR $425 off a FULLY-LOADED Madsen Bike (includes: Bike, Soft Top, Front Rack, Dutch Upgrade, Shiny Brass Bell, Madsen Water Bottle, Steel Front Lights, Rear Light). Get on it!

Maybe you need to express your love in lights to the man in your life. I am loving these lights by HarsenHope. They make custom-accent lighting that can express your love, your interests, anything you can think of. I particularly love the thumbs-up and HOT! Sriracha lights--I can imagine my husband putting it at his desk at work to remember how much we support him or the HOT sauce by our bed to remember how hot he is. HA! But really. I can think of a different HarsenHope light for every room in our house. This is revolutionary lighting, folks!

We stumbled upon CocosOrganics at an art festival the other day and fell in love with the charcoal Dirty Mouth Tooth Polish and face scrubs. Not only is Coco--the owner--adorable and passionate about her products, but the products themselves are so well-made and cool. My husband was surprised that we wanted him to put charcoal on his teeth, but he's always up for a new adventure. No chemicals are used in CocosOrganics products and from the lip balm to the coffee scrub, your man needs a little help with his skincare. 

Thread Wallets are so slick and slender. These are the opposite of the bulky wallet your dad used to have that would mark his back jean pocket from its size. Thread Wallets are slim and minimal, showing your personality with fun elastic patterns or simple leather. If your husband, boyfriend, or dad is super active, he will like the lanyard option that keeps his important cards close when he doesn't have a pocket to put it in.

I, personally, love that the watch is coming back in big style for men and women. We didn't "need" watches since we always had our phones nearby that told the time. But if you're anything like me, when you open your phone to check the time, you accidentally get sucked into looking at your email, checking a few social apps, finding out the weather, searching for the next movie showtime, and then "oh yeah, what time is it?" Arvo watches are so handsome and do just what you need them to do: tell the time. I love their simplicity and I love wearing them. My husband just mentioned how he wish he had an Arvo watch, too, so BINGO! Christmas gift! They are giving away a ton of watches over the next few days so go check out their website to win.

Maybe your husband, dad, man wants to take better photos, but doesn't know what camera to get. The smartphone is fun to take photos with, but he wants to hold on to a serious camera or try out some gear that isn't available at Target. Parachut is a high-end club for creatives with unlimited photo gear access delivered on rotation for a price that fits your budget. You get unlimited access to a warehouse full of drones, cameras, lenses and creative gear. Parachut is genius for the man who wants to be creative but doesn't want to commit... to a camera.

See why this list became my favorite? So many cool items! Which is your favorite? What are you getting the dad/man in your life?

AnnaM

 

Holiday Gift List 2016, for the kids

I am so excited about the kids' Holiday Gift List. I want every one of these items to be under our Christmas tree for me... I mean, for the kids. For the family, whatever.

I didn't get any of my kids a hover board last year, mostly because I didn't want my kids running into walls throughout my house. Then I saw the conversion kit that turns your hover board into a GO-KART! Coolest. Gift. of the year! HoverLikeAKing sells the conversion kit AND the hover board with the kit, if you are like me and didn't get one last year. My kids are going to freak out. Especially when I beat them in races! (By the way, there are similar conversion kits out there, but this is the best deal I have ever seen. Go NOW before they sell out or the price goes up.)

The main reason I bought the home we are in is for the giant tree in the backyard. It even came with a crummy old tire swing, too. This year I am replacing it with the raddest swing I have ever seen: The Swurfer! A swing you can stand on and not have everyone yelling at you to sit on your pockets. Oh, was that just me? The Swurfer can be used by kids and adults, sitting or standing. It is shaped to get speed and height in any direction and has long enough rope for giant trees, if you have one. Swurfs up!

If you have sons, you know how difficult it is to find cool clothes that fit well for them. Rowen Christian offers fashion-forward denim for boys and a portion of every sale goes to charities to help children in need. Fashion with a purpose is always something I love to support--AND my boys can have great-fitting clothes, too! Hallelujah! Check out these awesome denim joggers from Rowen Christian.

We have a couple of rules about using electronic devices in our house, but one that I stick to the most is "turn it down or turn it off" for the device volume. I don't want to hear my kids' music or game soundtrack while we all hang out in the family room. Regular headphones make me uncomfortable because of the damage they can do to my kids' hearing health. Enter: Puro Balanced Response bluetooth headphones. These headphones have the most advanced noise-limiting solution on the market and are the best-sounding kids headphones available. Heavenly Peace.

Speaking of hanging out, I want a mountain full of these Rock Pillows to lounge on with the kids. When we saw the original Rock Pillows at a market a couple of weeks ago, all four of my kids made a beeline for the pillows that look like rocks. They tossed them, sat on them, threw them around, and couldn't stop talking about them the next few days. And they look cool, too! Boulder Fight!

And since we are talking about lounging, I am always looking for cool new pajamas that I wouldn't mind my kids wearing to pajama day at school. Our family elf always brings the kids a new pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve with a note of "good luck" for Santa's upcoming delivery. I would not mind at all if he brought us all LazyOne pajamas. They are cute, fun, and so soft. Plus, we can all match!

You know what I miss the most? My daughter wanting to play with dolls. Isn't that funny how we can miss something that used to feel like a never-ending search for the favorite doll so she can go to sleep? These gorgeous dolls from LatterDayHome are so sweet that my daughter might be getting a new one this year, anyway. Perfect for the little girl or the girl you wish were little. Maybe even the perfect doll for me, too.

What better way to remember when they were little (which might be right now for you) than with a photo book? I have never been a scrap booker, and the old photo books often took me hours to put together. Then I discovered chatbooks! If you haven't heard about them, you are in for a real treat. If you've heard about them, but never ordered a chatbook for yourself, you have to try it. They print and are delivered so fast, you'll be reliving memories with your kids before you know it. My kids can sit and look at these books for hours. They love remembering when they were little(r) as much as you do. Use the code Merry20 for 20% off your order this week!

You know what makes me smile more than almost anything? Seeing someone wearing a funny or clever shirt. It's one of the quickest ways to my funny bone, for whatever reason. StatelyType has some of the most clever and cool shirts I have ever seen. And they are super soft, too, which is a huge bonus. Whenever I wear one of my StatelyType t-shirts or sweatshirt, I get loads of compliments. My kids are all asking for the Mas Tacos shirt and I might see who is best behaved this season to get one. ;)

That's all for the Kids' List this year. There were SO many awesome gifts for kids this year and I love that this list has small businesses and brands who are hustling to be in your home. Check them out and let me know if you have other suggestions for kids!

AnnaM

Holiday Gift List 2016, babies and toddlers

Your baby might not remember if you got them anything for Christmas this year, but what a great excuse to get them something that you really wanted, anyway.

This week I will be posting a list every day of rad items from small shops and businesses. Sure, there are the big gift items everyone is standing in line at Target to get, but you have good taste and like to be a little more unique. That's one of the reasons I like you so much.

These plates from DylBug are so adorable. My two youngest sons use these plates and the clothes food cutter for pancakes, sandwiches, and to make even a plate of after-school veggies fun. Check out the adorable dress-up ideas on their Instagram page for inspiration. DylBug plates are genius for helping picky eaters to try new things.

My kids love to build forts--there's something magical about having a secret space. Dolly Estelle makes beautiful teepees that take the homemade fort to the next level. These are the kind of teepees that are so handsome, you wouldn't mind keeping them up in your family room all year long. I want to go take a secret nap inside one of Dolly Estelle's teepees right now.

As your little one grows, it is fun to see the progress they have made. I have countless photos of my children when they were babies and my husband and I play a guessing game of "how old were they in this photo?" BatzKids has taken the guessing game away with the most adorable milestone blanket. No worry about having your baby sit up, hold a toy, or making sure you can see the number on their shirt. Where were BatzKids blankets when my babies were little?

Your baby's wardrobe is usually more stylish than your own, but that's ok. We all know that your toddler dresses cool because their parents are super cool. Mochi Kids offers the most adorable shirts and sweatshirts that simply state the coolness factor of the entire family. A bowl or ramen, a simple hamburger, a solar system--all of them are seriously adorable. I am dying over Mochi Kids' holiday shirts as well.

I have a thing about quality jewelry--I want to have something for a long time. I want my jewelry to be passed down to my kids, and their kids and so on. I feel the same way about little girls' jewelry. My daughter still has necklaces and bracelets from Angela Henrie Studio that she wore when she was a baby. It still holds up and still looks amazing. Your little baby girl can wear Angela Henrie jewelry without turning green. Everyone else may turn green, because it's so stinking cute, but the wire-wrapped, sterling silver, real pearls and Swarovski crystals will not easily break or rub off on your baby's sweet skin.

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When I saw the little hats at oeufnyc, I giggled. I couldn't choose one to share, because they were all so adorable. The banana, the bunny, the unicorn... they all cried out "buy me! I am so amazing and cute!" Which one would you choose?

Babies and toddlers LOVE getting into makeup. I could have an Instagram account solely dedicated to that, considering all of the submissions I get of babies covered in their "art" by makeup. Little Cosmetics is incredible pretend makeup because it looks just like the fancy makeup Mom has. The packaging and colors all resemble "the good stuff" so kids will feel like they have pretty makeup, too.

The trickiest part about diaper bags is finding one that everyone in the family will wear. I always wanted my husband to hold the bag full of bottles, blankets, clothes, wipes, diapers, snacks, half of my house... because that thing got HEAVY! He was always a trooper, but the floral over-the-top bags didn't usually go with his outfit. Thank goodness for Leader Bag Co and their stylish backpacks. They're so rad, I want one even though I don't pack diapers around anymore.

One of our favorite books to read is the Edgar series by Jennifer Adams. She wrote all of the beautiful classic tales everyone knows and loves of BabyLit. These Edgar books, though, have a special place in our hearts. Edgar is a little boy raven who gets in little boy situations, but with an Edgar Allan Poe twist. I love good stories and quality books, because I know I will have to read them over and over and over again.

That's it for the Baby/Toddler list. Anything you'd suggest? Tomorrow we will post our favorites for the kids--it's a good one!

AnnaM

 

Holiday Gifts for Kids You Love and for Others, Too

Ok, parents, aunt, uncles, grandparents, and godparents: It is already time to get on your holiday shopping. Take a deep breath, clap your hands together three times, shake your shoulders, and then let it go, because I got you covered with some pretty fantastic ideas (if I do say so myself).

Speaking of "let it go," for those kids or parents that haven't been necessarily good this year, may I present for your consideration, the Frozen Recorder set. Less than $10 and guaranteed to make enemies of friends and ecstatic small children, this little gift will keep on giving long after the holidays. Mostly headaches to parents and babysitters.

Another kind of cruel, but mostly funny to give, is the inflatable pizza. Not only can you NOT eat it, but there's a big chance that you can't even use it until next summer. Unless they plan on using this pizza to go sledding on, which will be fun for the first few rides until it inevitably pops or the rider realizes that there is nothing to hold onto as they barrel down the slippery mountain. But, fun to give.

Remember the insanity last year that was the "hover"board? (I have to put "hover" in quotation marks, because we all know they don't actually hover, so it's a misnomer and incredibly misleading.) This year, the fire issues should be extinguished AND you can get a super handy chair to put on top of it, making your "hover"board a go-cart. Which seems safer, anyway. Maybe? I'm tempted to get this bad boy a spin. Can you imagine the epic races you could have on these?

If Pie in the Face was the must-have game of 2015, Watch Ya Mouth will be the game to have for 2016. I just wish they came with more cheek guards, because I'm weird about sharing things I put in my mouth and stuff. Weird, I know, but have you seen what goes in and comes out of kids' mouths? You can buy more (40 more, exactly, because you're going to have so many parties)!

And for a shameless promotion, get your kids and the adults in your life a really cool shirt. Because you're cool and they're cool and we can all be super cool if we had a cool shirt. Cool? Cool. For those of you who read this and buy a shirt from theworstgoods.com use the code GiftsAreCool for 20% off. I'm feeling generous and cool and stuff.

Do you have a product you think I should share for holiday giving? Email me at kidsaretheworstest@gmail.com (notice the extra "est" at the end of kidsaretheworst) and tell me what you got.

AnnaM

New Mom Monday, 20

Being a parent is hard, and nobody cares.

We have been having a teething week going on two teething weeks. I'm not normally bothered by dealing with extra fussing and clinging, since it's nice for someone else to be more fussy and clingy in this relationship for a change, but the baby has been on what I've come to find out is called a “nursing strike.”

A nursing strike is when babies stops nursing abruptly, for reasons the word strike implies are deeply meaningful to them and their communities, but they still need and want milk. How they're still gonna get it is your problem.

Luckily I have a pump, which I've been using night and day to feed my husky almost-10-month-old who throws all the food I cook for her onto the floor, I guess as a protest against corporate greed or the electoral college or something else over my head. I've been setting alarms to remember when I have to, and it feels an awful lot like I have a newborn again. I also look like I have a newborn again, and so does my baby.

Clothing is always optional at my house, but now it is a relic of simpler times, and my husband asked the other day if the fact that we can't find her comb is a sign of bad parenting.

“Is the fact that we can't find her comb a sign of bad parenting?”

“Yes.”

Nursing moms like to be self-righteous about the time they put in and sacrifices they make to feed their children, but breastfeeding is way easier than pumping or using formula. I mean, I put so little thought into feeding my baby that I don't even know how much milk she needs. I have to like, measure things in the middle of the night? This is too much.

There seems to be a direct correlation between the percentage of my day I spend crying in frustration while thinking of worst-case scenarios and how much I enjoy motherhood. I was in a bit of a funk last week when I spent all day just trying to get her to nurse, but since I stopped trying so hard we’re both a lot happier.

This seems to be a lesson I have to learn a lot.

New Mom Monday, 18, ENYA!

I have never given much thought to the fact that all my elementary school teachers loved Enya. They listened to Enya all the time! They were so lucky they got to pick whatever music they wanted, and they played some of those sweet Irish jams while the class sat quietly reading, sat quietly working on art projects, and sat quietly writing in journals.

When I had a child, I realized that my teachers probably thought Enya was okay, but what they really loved was quiet. The music is haunting and hypnotic, and the lyrics are both memorable and impossible to understand. It might all be in Gaelic? I don’t know; I just know it works. And this is exactly what I told Ryan the other day when Winifred would not take a nap for the sixth day in a row, so we decided to just go to the mall.

It was a very bad idea. Even though she loves the mall—the clothes, the echo-y white noise, the sales associates who squeeze her puffy ankles—she was irritable the whole time and started her terrible twos early. We were there long enough for me to find a nursing bra with actual cups in it (look out world!), and then we hoped the baby would fall asleep in the car on the way home.

“Play her some Enya or something!” I gently and lovingly urged my husband, holding a screaming, writhing baby down in her seat with one hand and buckling her straps with the other.

After about twenty minutes, we were nearing our freeway exit without a nap in sight. Was she tired, or was I the one who missed my naps that day? I was feeling a little exhausted and foggy.

“So she’s not asleep yet?” Ryan asked, and it was the kind of question where the answer is really obvious, which is my favorite kind of question. “I listened to Enya… for nothing?”

I told him telepathically that he listened to Enya to do something nice for his daughter that would go completely unnoticed by her.

That’s not a problem, is it?

Libbie Henrie is a new mother and really smart gal. You should believe everything she writes, especially the super sarcastic parts. She lives in Arizona with her husband and newborn baby. You can read more of her musings on her blog and follow her baby wearing adventures on Instagram @sweetcheeksbabywearing