After Pinteresting for long enough, I can always find something I neeeeeed to do at my house. This time it was the wall. The wall, the wall, the wall of glory, if you will. I needed that wall of glory.

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10-STEP GUIDE ON CREATING THE WALL OF GLORY

Step one: Decide on a template (from research, or me) or make your own.
Step two: Forget step one and move to step two. Decisions are hard.
Step three: Pick the wall. The bigger the better.
Step four: Begin late-night online impromptu shopping for art.
Step five: Have cute babies for art purposes. This will take 9 months minimum.
Step six: Spend lunch hours in-store shopping.
Step seven: Buy supplies (paint, hot glue, twine, canvases, boards).
Step eight: Skip step seven if you hate DIYing. I respect that.
Step nine: Buy lots of 3M velcro strips, so you don’t have to ask anyone for help.
Step ten: Trust your eye and start velcroing things to the wall. Or refer back to step one.

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I was in love with my wall, but my minimalist husband was not.

“It looks cluttered,” he said.

“It looks awesome,” I said.

So, I took my art wall to my Facebook wall for judging…

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123 likes (pretty sure that ties with the amount of likes I received on the announcement of my third child) and 30 comments.

I win.
(He loses — read comments in yellow)

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If you think you can’t do it, just do it to prove someone else wrong.

I’ve seen the posts. I’ve read the articles. But, I’m not that Facebook Mom. You know the one, the one that only posts good pictures of her kids.

I’m not. I am not that mom.

Okay, I am.

Last night my daughter watched, in amazement, as I Photoshop’d a bush over a downspout and then I smiled when she called it magic. I’ve never been so proud. I mean, this is what I do for a living, I’m a Graphic Designer. I can Photoshop a simple little bush over an ugly downspout if I want, that doesn’t make me a faker. It looks better. And if I need to erase a tear in my one-year-old’s eye, I’ll do that too. And maybe I’ll just brighten up the picture, and remove this little bush over here (I really need to update my landscaping, but I don’t have time, I’ll just fix it post production), add a little blur on the brick. Perfect.

It’s not fake. I am not that mom.

Okay, it is. And, I am. So what.

Every year I take a “DAD” picture for my husband for Father’s Day. In my head, the picture turns out perfect. In the moment, the picture turns out awful real. And, when I pulled those pictures up on my computer, I laughed and almost just printed the real one for him. We’re a real family. He knows it. I know it.

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You know how real goes, when you’re at home, behind closed doors. We’re that kind of super real. Kids are yelling. We’re yelling. Kids are crying. We’re crying. Sometimes someone is locked in the bathroom eating a bag of Doritos and a pint of ice cream. Sometimes that person is always me. I don’t need to post that on Facebook.

I need to post the smiling pictures of my kids on Facebook. Because I really like posting smiling pictures of my kids.

I like smiling pictures of my kids so much, I push through the painful pictures, while yelling, “if you’d stop crying and fighting, I’d be done already!”

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Dear Fellow Facebookers,

I know everyone hates fake pictures, but these Fakebook pictures, of my smiling kids, aren’t posted to make me look like I’m the most super awesome mom ever. I promise. I know I’m not. They’re only posted to remind me that if I yell loud enough perservere I can achieve anything. So, in six years, when these smiling pictures of my kids pop up, I always love that decision I made to post them.

Love,
Blendra

I put some weird food in jars and made labels for them.

Timber wall background

And they turned out so cute.

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And net carbs per serving. You’re welcome.

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However, the actual labels aren’t keto approved. Don’t eat them. Print them.

Click here to print and apply to your weird food jars. They should print perfectly on 2-inch round Avery label stock, unless Avery changed their template. I made my labels blue, to match my kitchen. If I get enough comments, I’ll add more colors.

I sent an email to another mom today and I asked for help. I never do that. Asking for help means I don’t have my shit in order. I need everyone to think I always have everything in order. Shit included.

Even though I don’t like to admit it, after kid number 1, the order slowly began to unravel.

And now, after kid number 3, shit is everywhere. Not literally. That’s gross. But any order that was left after kid number two, is now completely gone.

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And my mind. That’s officially out of order too.

I can’t find anything. And remembering anything. Forget it.

That is the exact moment I realized three kids is my max.

Three kids. My three kids. They are amazing. Mind-numbingly amazing.

And that amazingness is why every time I see a new, teeny, tiny adorable newborn baby or a pregnancy announcement, I get a little bit of a twinge. Let’s call it a baby twinge. And my mind starts talking.

Maybe just one more baby?

No! I’m done. Totally done. I have too much shit everywhere.

But then I see a mom who is pregnant with her fourth child, and that baby twinge spirals out of control. And that’s when my mind starts saying crazy things. Crazy things that I start to believe.

Maybe four isn’t so many kids.

It’s just one more.

You can handle it.

That fourth baby will force you back into order.

This is when I realized it won’t matter how many kids I currently have, I’ll probably always have that twinge to have another.

This must be how people end up with a million kids. And shit everywhere.

Three is my million. I’m gonna go get a shovel now.

Mom, I’m hungry. Mom, my belly hurts. Mom, the baby is licking the floor again!

I have to focus. I have a speech in 2 days!

Mom, did you get my pumpkin for school? Mom? Mom!

Shoot. The pumpkin patch. Halloween. Your halloween party is coming up. I need to get an email sent out. I’ll just email the moms during lunch, then work on my speech.

Halloween! Is that day I’ll get to wear my costume? Will you take a picture?

Oh my gosh! Pictures at daycare! You two have pictures at daycare with the baby. I need to get to Target to get you new outfits. I’ll go to target over lunch and get you outfits, that’s more important. While I’m at Target I can return the 4 pillows and the chalk and the blanket. I have to get that done. My speech is going to be dumb anyway.

Mom, I’m hunnnnnngry!

Maybe I’m hungry. No, my stomach hurts. Maybe I’m getting sick. I’ll bet I’m getting sick. The kids are probably gonna get sick. At least one of them could get sick. Maybe it’ll be on Wednesday. Perfect, I hope it’s Wednesday. Then I won’t have to give this speech. And no one will think I’m stupid.

—————

Monday morning is the perfect morning to have second thoughts about anything you’re already having second thoughts about. Monday is the best day to have those “you’re gonna fail” thoughts.

So, let’s talk about this thing called fear of failure and how you can work with it.

Lucky for me, I found the perfect thing on the Psychology Today website (a totally legit website) on Monday. It is 10 Signs You Might Have Fear of Failure. Go ahead and read below, I’ve made a pretty outline to help you along.

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I’ll say I had a solid 8 out of 10 of those signs Monday morning. Eeeek.

But, even luckier for me, the Psychology Today website gave me two things to help deal with the fear of failure.

The first thing: Own the fear.

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Okay, awesome. I’m scared I will fail and everyone will think I’m stupid. I own that. I’m kidding. Sorta. Everyone is afraid to fail, but as much as you don’t want to believe it, fear is a good thing. If you own it. So, own it. OWN. THE. FEAR.

The second thing: Focus on aspects in your control.

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Okay, I can’t control what people think of me. So I won’t focus on that. But what I can focus on is the fear. What am I most afraid of? Forgetting my speech. To help with that, I used a print out (the one above). During the middle of my speech I pulled out the 10 signs and I gave one to everyone in the audience. The audience can focus on the list and I can read along. Tricky, huh?

———-

So when Monday comes and that fear of failure creeps in, remember these two small things: own the fear and then focus on something that is in your control. With these two things, you can do anything that fear is holding you from. And, as for me, I should be able to give any speech. Especially since I’ve already given The Worst Speech Ever. (:

With three kids, and a full time job, I’m constantly looking for the fastest ways to get dinner on the table. And, now, when you throw sports into the mix, I need it even faster than the fastest. I need it in an instant.

Enter the Instant Pot.

Honestly, as I type this, I wish I was given this pot for free and then asked to review it. I was not. I paid full, Prime Day, price for it. But, it’ll be worth it. I hope. My pot got delivered (along with 215,000 other lucky Prime Day shoppers) 4 days ago and I still haven’t used it.

So, if you’re as intimidated as I was after you received your Prime Day Instant Pot, don’t worry, I’ve created a handy guide:

10 Easy Steps to Start Using the Instant Pot

Step One: Remove the Instant Pot from the outer shipping box.

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Step Two: Start having buyer’s remorse. Am I ever going to use this dumb thing?

Step Three: Join the Instant Pot Community on Facebook. <– you’re welcome Instant Pot for the link.

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Step Four: Spend hours scrolling through the recipes on the IPC on FB.

Step Five: Remove buyer’s remorse. This pot is awesome. 83,204 members keep telling you so on FB.

Step Six: Promise yourself you will make a meal using the Instant Pot. Just as soon as you go to the grocery store.

Step Seven: Go to the grocery store.

Step Eight: Hide the Instant Pot Community on Facebook. It’s taking up too much time and making you feel guilty about not using your Instant Pot.

Step Nine: Text your sister and ask her how to do the water test. I hear this is the real first step.

Step Ten: Unhide FB group and put the kids to bed. Tell yourself you’ll do the water test tomorrow. Just as soon as you get home from work and find the perfect recipe on the IPC FB page.

I really wanted to whiten my teeth, but I wasn’t sure how people even did that. So I phoned a friend (actually just Facebook messaged, I hate calling people on the phone), and she told me she uses Crest Whitestrips, the cheap ones on Amazon. “Don’t get the really expensive ones, these cheap ones work the best.” Dude. Sold.

Here are the exact ones I got: Crest Noticeably White Whitestrips, 10 Treatments, (20 Total Strips)

When the box came in the mail I promptly put it in the bathroom. And then I stared at it for 4 days. It said it took 30 minutes. I needed to find a 30-minute time slot when I wasn’t eating candy and the kids had gone to bed. This was challenging. I knew it couldn’t be during Fuller House; Because even though the kids were in bed, I had some Sour Patch Kids that needed to be eaten. Priorities.

I decided tonight would be the night I would whiten my teeth and let the baby cry it out, at the same time. I knew I’d need a distraction and this might be the perfect distraction. They would both be over in 30 minutes. Hopefully.

I open the box and read the instructions: To apply, simply remove the whitening strip from its liner and place the gel side to your teeth, aligned with your gum line. Press against your teeth for best contact and fold the remainder of the strip behind your teeth. 

Hmm, sounds easy.

I remove the bottom strip first, because further directions recommend it.

I carefully give my biggest smile to the mirror and start applying the strip. What the hell is this stuff? An unusual amount of saliva accumulates in my mouth and then my tongue starts messing up the strip. Shoot. Damn. I feel like I’m swishing with that fluoride stuff from the dentist. Should I swallow? Should I spit? Damn. Now the strip is all balled up. I hate these things. I spit the strip and the saliva into the sink.

Maybe I should try again, with the top strip. I’m not giving up yet. I did pay for these. 10 applications worth, 20 strips. I’ve got at least 19 more mess-ups and then I can just buy another box.

I carefully peel off the strip and give my biggest smile, to the mirror. And that top strip slides effortlessly on my teeth. Hmm. That was easy. Shoot. It’s starting to foam, but I think that’s normal. I ignore it and push onward.

I quickly grab in the box and get out another top/bottom strip. I tear it open and the bottom strip comes off with the first tear. CRAP. It’s fine. It’s just a little rip in the bottom. I can do this.

I start by giving my biggest smile, but not too big, I don’t want the top strip to move, to the mirror. I start applying and the saliva is back. Oh man, I can’t do this. It’s too much. I can’t get this straight. I need to spit. Maybe it’s good enough. No it’s moving. Wait, that’s my tongue. My tongue keeps wanting to touch the strip that has been folded to the back of the teeth. And then it moves the strip. It’s foaming. Is this bad for me? Should I swallow this? What is this stuff? I should google while I wait 30 minutes.

I walk out of the bathroom and proudly tell Preston, “I’m whitening my teeth!” Three minutes later, “I can’t do this. I can’t keep these on my teeth for any longer than five minutes!”

Preston responds, “at least you got them for free.”

Um, no I paid for these, but I’ve got 18 (and a half) more to try. I walk to the bathroom and pull them off.

The directions never said if I could use 6 more strips, each in 5 minute increments, to total the 30 minute time frame. Ugh. I guess it’s time to get the baby to bed. So much for whitening my teeth while the baby cries.

Preston and I are going to our friends’ (that’s plural, because we like both people equally) house for dinner on Saturday. We haven’t really been out together without the kids since I had the baby. He’s 4.5 months old and I’m excited. I’m so excited I told Preston I would make a cheesecake. A made-from-scratch cheesecake!

I’ve made this cheesecake before. Actually the last time I made it, we went to dinner at the same place. It was delicious. Or at least we all thought it was. Surely it wasn’t all of the wine we drank before we ate the cake.

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This cheesecake has 5 boxes of cream cheese and whipping cream! WHIPPING CREAM! How can it not be good?

Since I have a million kids now (or three, but it feels like a million) and 2 of them are in sports, I knew I would need to make this cake on two separate nights. It’s what working moms do.

Wednesday night I make the graham cracker crust. See recipe below. OMG, as I’m typing this, I’m realizing it was the butter! The butter is what started the fire! Keep reading. I’ll get to the fire.

It’s Thursday. This is cheesecake makin day.

Preston and the big kids leave for wrestling. I stay home with the baby. I put Mav in his highchair, with some toys on his tray to play with. That’s what Mom’s do, who want to bake. I click the oven on to 500 degrees and turn my back to my baby and my oven. Mom of the year.

I start going about my cheesecake business… stirring, dumping, whipping, licking. In that order. I think I smell something burning. Eh, it’s probably just a little something that fell into the bottom of the oven. 500 degrees is really hot. It’ll burn off just in time for me to put my delectable cheesecake into the oven. It’s totally fine.

But the responsible mom in me decides to turn around. Mav is happily chewing on his rubber giraffe. The oven is on fire. Holy shit, the oven is on fire. ON FIRE! Don’t freak out, it is on the inside of the oven. But there is a flame. And the flame is reaching from the bottom burner all the way to the top burner. That’s quite a flame. Luckily I had just talked about a work lady’s oven catching on fire and how you should never open the oven door. Because giving oxygen to a flame is like giving candy to me. They both get bigger.

So I do what any sane person would do. I yell, “SHIT WHAT SHOULD I DO?” Then I quickly shut off the oven and pray for the fire to go out. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE go out! It does. But then the smoke starts. What next? Wet towel? I’ll throw a wet towel over the top of the oven and turn on the exhaust fan. It’s still getting smokey, so I open all the doors. But it’s only 17 degrees outside, so the baby and I put on our stocking caps and discuss what I should do about the delicious made-from-scratch cheesecake batter that is sitting on the counter.

The baby isn’t much help.

I call my mom. She doesn’t answer.

I call Sister A. She doesn’t answer.

I call Sister B. She doesn’t answer.

I call Sister C. She answers, thankfully. She tells me I’ll probably need to clean out the oven or the fire will start again, but the cheesecake should be fine sitting on the counter.

But now the baby is crying. It’s bathtime and bedtime. This sister ain’t got time for cleaning the oven.

Sister B calls back.

Sister B texts Sister A. Sister A calls back. We decide, with her husband’s help, that the self cleaning option might be the best option. I pour the cheesecake into a glass bowl and leave it to bake tomorrow.

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DELICIOUS MADE-FROM-SCRATCH CHEESECAKE

Graham Cracker Crust
12 tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers (this was 1 sleeve plus 1 cracker)

Mix all ingredients together. Mixture should be somewhat dry, add more graham crackers , if needed. Press in bottom of spring form pan. Place spring form pan on cookie sheet before baking (butter may drip from edges of pan) Bake in preheated 375º oven for 10-12 minutes, cool completely.

Cheesecake
5 boxes of cream cheese
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp flour
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup whipping cream

Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, lemon juice and vanilla on high speed until fluffy. Add eggs and yolks one at a time, beating until well combined. Slowly blend in whipping cream. Pour into chilled crust.

Bake in preheated 500º oven for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 250º and bake for an additional 50-60 minutes. Times vary by oven, might take as long as 90 minutes. Cake may crack. It should be somewhat firm when jiggled. When it stops jiggling, it’s done.  Cool cake overnight and serve with your favorite fruit topping.

Enjoy.

 

“It’s your turn.”

“I was just up at 2.”

“Well I was up at 3:12. Clearly, it’s YOUR TURN!”

My husband and I have this argument on a nightly basis. Or, I guess it would be early morning.

Maverick is 4 months old and he’s been on a sleep strike for 3 weeks, with one Christmas miracle in between (he slept for like 7 hours straight on Christmas night. Whaaaaaa? I’ll take it).

I miss sleep. My husband misses sleep.

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I’ve come to realize I do unreasonable things when I don’t get enough sleep.

I do things like buy sleep sacks named Zipadee-Zip. Shark Tank bought into it, it’s gotta work. Let me tell you, it ain’t all rainbows and sleepy unicorns with my zippy. I’ve found the key to the zippy is to put baby down very much asleep, and never awake. Never, ever awake. Self-soothing is not your friend with the zippy. At least not with my child. All he likes to do with this thing is look like a starfish. That and suck on the material over the hands. Probably because that’s what 4-month-olds like to do. They like to suck on their hands (or the material that covers their hands). That’s cool and everything, if he’d just put himself back to sleep after he gets the zippy hands disgustingly wet.

But, nope, after he’s done sucking on his hands, he just gets mad and starts hitting himself in the face. Probably because that thing called the moro reflex is still a real thing. I thought that would be gone by now. Sigh.

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After two failed attempts. Maybe three. Who knows how many, I just know I tried really hard. I wanted to like it. Okay, I wanted to like THEM. I bought two Zipadee-Zips. It was the best deal. Two zippies and a cute onesie, all for the low price of $59.95. Yes, indeed, I’ll buy me some sleep. Now, since the zippy didn’t work, I wish they would have had a free hotline to go along with your purchase. Or at least a “things will get better, just keep pushing through” line.

So, now, the zippy was out.

The next unreasonable (that seemed totally reasonable at the time) thing I tried was only allowing myself to follow a strict bedtime routine… I would hold the baby with my left arm, while feeding him a semi-warm bottle and patting his butt and humming to the tune of Silent Night.

That didn’t work, either. The humming kept him awake.

So, I thought I’d outsmart him and close my eyes. If I can’t see the baby, the baby can’t see me. That may have been the best idea yet. We both fell asleep. VICTORY! But shortly after I startled awake, probably because I almost dropped the tiny human cradled in my arms. I tried to put him back in his crib, carefully, very, very carefully. But, he woke up. Again.

The strict bedtime routine was now out.

Then I thought, why not take this opportunity to get him transitioned out of the swaddle during this horrible, no good, non-sleeping time. I’m not sleeping. He’s not sleeping. Let’s make it worse. Let’s let his little arms flail about and hit him in the face, without any material or resistance (at least the zippy had a little of both. Totally worth $59.95).

Quickly the no swaddle was out the window, too.

Back in the swaddle, he went. Both arms in. Because it made me feel secure. It brought me back to those lovely newborn nights that he would sleep 4-5 hours straight. The swaddle made me feel like the night would be a success. It had to be a success. He’s all bundled up in his sleep sack with his arms velcroed to his sides. If he can’t move, then surely he’ll stay there, sleeping. Peacefully.

Some nights he would surprise us and sleep a 4-5 hour stretch, playing with our sleep-deprived emotions. Maybe he’ll keep doing that, we think. Yes! We will sleep again! Then an hour later he’s crying, begging for food. And then 1-2 hours later, he’s up again. And then again. We’re never gonna sleep again. Siiiiiiigh.

All the books say this is the dreaded 4-month sleep regression and nothing you do will make it better. Great. Perfect. I love a good excuse for my baby not sleeping. I’ll take it. Preston doesn’t buy it.

But, now, I’m afraid if I call it the 4-month sleep regression and he’s still not sleeping at 9 months, it’ll be my fault. And, if it’s my fault, that means it’s not the 4-month sleep regression’s fault.

Maybe I should just go ahead and blame myself. After all, I didn’t let my poor mom sleep for 18 months after I was born. 18 months! That’s a long time.

Sweet Maverick, I’m giving you 14 more months of waking me in the night and that’s it. Not a day more.

Until then, I’m keeping score and I’m pretty sure it was just my turn. At 3:12 am.

This year, since I really slacked on the kids’ birthdays, I decided I’d give them a yummy dessert to stick their candles in.  So, here’s what I came up with: chocolate chip buttercream frosting sprinkle cookies.

Aren’t they beautiful?

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I love buttercream frosting. I’d eat it with a spoon. You know, if that weren’t frowned upon.

So, after I baked my chocolate chip cookies (use your favorite recipe, or get the tube in the refrigerated section, whatever, I won’t judge), I whipped up this trusty buttercream frosting recipe. It’s never failed me.

However, if you don’t want your frosting to be off-white, I suggest using the clear vanilla extract. It’s a thing. Amazon it. Or just go to your local cake store, they’ll have it.

For mine, I didn’t care if the frosting was off-white, I used the original (black) vanilla (is that an oxymoron? black vanilla) extract, I was throwing sprinkles on there, because it’s for a birthday! Holla!

Happy 8th and 5th birthdays to my little gingers!

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Don’t worry, these cookies can be for any occasion. Like a world record, 1.5 billion Powerball ticket party. The little sprinkle balls might get everywhere when you eat them, but hey, you’re gonna win that billion. You won’t care. You can hire a person to clean up the mess.