An (Exhausting) Parent’s Week Before Christmas List

26httw_stockphotosAs if the week before Christmas isn’t busy enough for parents of young children, I have signed up for a ‘bonus’ training course at work which is assigning HOMEWORK due the week before Christmas! KILL ME…oh wait, maybe the list below will, sorry homework, I think you are coming in second place here (or maybe 22nd!).

This list was all prompted by my laughter this morning when I looked at our little one as he bundled up for daycare. It was Ugly Sweater day at school for Holiday Week (I had him dressed in what I thought was a cute ugly sweater, then I served him oatmeal, daddy took over and this is what he came out wearing…and I just didn’t have the energy to change him (or frankly the time!).

In case you aren’t sure what the week before Christmas is all about in a house with young children (and I am not trying to take anything away from families with adult children or no children…this is just where I am right now), I tried to document the few days leading up to Christmas with my version of a Parent’s (Exhausting) Christmas To Do List. Just a small sample from the Daddy Makes Four home:

Sunday, December 18th

  1. Try to get them into bed at a reasonable hour (bedtime has officially gone out the window)
  2. Don’t forget to move the Elf on the shelf (two nights in a row would be really bad, he didn’t go to the North Pole last night because Mommy and Daddy were up too late for him to leave and return after we went to bed, yep, they seemed to buy it!)
  3. Catalog what you have bought, suppress the rising feelings of guilt and unworthiness as a parent (because you are not giving the number one gift that your child wanted and is SURE he will get because Santa got it on his list), try and ensure each child has equal number of gifts to unwrap on Christmas morning. Make a last minute list of things you should probably get…decide gifts from grandparents might make everything better.

Monday, December 19th

  1. Remember the Holiday Week schedule for your children at daycare. Some of these include Ugly Sweater Day, Christmas PJ day, Red and Green day. You get the themes!
  2. Figure out what is from Mom and Dad and what is from Santa! Try and remember what you bought together with your kids for their siblings and what was bought secretly…because what they saw you buy together can’t be from Santa!!! That would be an epic Christmas hiccup (worse than #2 above).
  3. Try to stay awake late enough to wrap presents when everyone is asleep.
  4. Get the contribution to Daddy’s work pot luck Christmas lunch prepared (oops didn’t do this one).

Tuesday, December 20th

  1. Gifts for the bus driver, teachers (x5), co-workers, delivered BEFORE there is no school
  2. Argue over who is taking a vacation day to cover the half days and no school days that creep up before Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21st

  1. Make gingerbread houses and cookies
  2. Celebrate grandparents birthdays, try and find birthday wrapping paper…NOT Christmas paper!

Thursday, December 22nd

  1. Don’t argue with your son when he tries to go to school in his pajamas…it is officially PJ Day!
  2. Plan for and host Children’s Christmas PJ Movie Party

Friday, December 23rd

  1. Attend extended family Christmas Party starting at 5:00pm, referencing item #1, bedtime…
  2. Grocery shop and meal plan for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (unfortunately your children will want more than candy canes and stocking candy to eat on the 25th). Well, they probably won’t, but you will feel like a better parent if you at least HAD a meal planned.

Saturday, December 24th

  1. Control your children on Christmas Eve…and take them to church! GULP.
  2. Make sure to place the milk and cookies out…where IS that special cookie plate?
  3. Is it bedtime yet???
  4. Send the Elf on the Shelf back to the North Pole
  5. Put all the gifts under the tree…hopefully before the automatic timer on the tree turns all the lights off and you are stuck in the dark!
  6. PASS OUT (hopefully with enough time to get a few minutes of shut eye before your children are begging you to get up to see what Santa has brought them…)

Does your list look much different?

Merry Christmas!!!






A Coffee Confession

I have a confession…I am a coffee drinker! Yes it is true. I am officially announcing that as of today I am no longer ashamed to say “I DRINK COFFEE!” Baby #3 has done it to me. He has pushed me over the edge…no longer are my energy levels maintained by fruits, vegetables and the joy of chasing around two little ones. Signs of a caffeine interested started to show its ugly head during pregnancy #2 with minimal cravings for iced coffee towards the end of my third trimester, but it quickly subsided once my little angel arrived. Pregnancy #3 marked the beginning of the end.

Coffee-National-Coffee-DayThis confession is mainly to my friends/colleagues in Australia. When I lived there from 2004 to 2010 I made it very clear that I was NOT a coffee drinker. As an expat making home in Australia I was frequently annoyed and frustrated that EVERYONE seemed to drink coffee. You think America has a coffee addiction! I constantly complained to my husband that everyone drinks coffee! Coffee, coffee, coffee!

Why is everyone telling me “We should get a coffee sometime,” I would rant when I got home … “why does everyone say that to me? I don’t even drink coffee!” I used to tell that to new acquaintances when they would make the offer too. My husband would have to translate for me: “Carly; you know they are really just saying ‘we should hang out some time’. You don’t have to drink coffee to meet them for a visit. It’s the way we say, hey, I think you’re cool, we should hang out some time! Coffee is just a good excuse to sit down and chat.” No matter how many times he would tell me that, I just wouldn’t budge!

In my defense…I did have a few reasons not to drink it:

  1. I honestly thought it tasted burnt. I did LOVE the smell of coffee, but when I would give it a try , I would take a sip and then eew…that nasty after taste would hit!
  2. In the past when I tried a sip/cup here and there I would drink it and shortly after my heart would be racing! Literally pumping out of my chest. I didn’t like this feeling, it made me feel very out of control of my body it kind of freaked me out a bit.

Fast forward to 2015, working 30 hours a week, chasing two young boys around at home and carrying around 40+ pounds of pregnancy with me, I found myself sitting at my work desk with droopy eyes! A few more frequent iced coffees turned into the occassional luke warm FrenchVanilla coffee then 15 months after my 3rd son’s arrival and I am a two coffee a day hot, cold, old, new coffee drinker! Being outnumbered at home with the leadership of our energetic daddy it seems I had but one choice!

And now, I can’t seem to get enough. Yum yum yum.

Happy National Coffee Day!


Mommy’s Milk Out and About

August is National Breastfeeding Month! And it also happens that this month I am nearing the end of my seven year journey with breastfeeding my three children.

Breastfeeding is often a plan for expectant and new mothers, but there are so many aspects of breastfeeding a newborn that are unknown and cause for worry. It is truly one of those areas of parenting that you just cannot completely understand until you start!! One common fear and hurdle for breastfeeding mothers is where to do it and with whom you are comfortable doing it in front of.

Recently at bedtime while reading ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ by Dr. Seuss to my children I was acutely aware that the process of Sam resisting and eventually being willing to try the proposed meal and loving them when he finally did was not that dissimilar to my journey into the world of breastfeeding.

I knew I wanted to do it before I was a mom, and at first was very timid about where I did it, with whom I was willing to do it in front of and took great lengths to hide and cover-up the feeding process…but then as I got more comfortable with it, as the babies got more comfortable with it, I was willing to do it anywhere! Like anything, the more comfortable I got and the more my baby and I worked together at breastfeeding the more willing to feed him out and about I became. By my third round of breastfeeding there seemed to be no place off limits to feed my son!

Reading the list of places and people that Sam was not willing to eat Green Eggs and Ham made me laugh and catalogue the list of places and people I had eventually been willing to do it in front of:

So to mirror the story of Sam, from ‘Green Eggs and Ham’, here is my rendition:

Mommy’s Milk Out and About

I am mom

Mom I am

Would you breastfeed here or there

I would not could not breastfeed just anywhere …

I will only do it in a house

I will only do it at my house…

I would not, could not in a tree

Not in a car! You let me be

I could not in a box

I could not with a fox

I could not in someone else’s house

I could not with a mouse

I could not here or there

I could not do it just anywhere

I could not, would not, on a boat

I will not, will not, with a goat

I will not breastfeed in the rain

I will not breastfeed on a train

Not in the dark! Not in a tree!

Not in a car! You let me be!

I could not, Mom I am


Say! I can!

I can do it, Mom-I-am!

I have done it on a boat

I have done it near a goat

I have done it in the rain.

I have done it on a train.

I have done it in a box (well a tent)

I have done it with a fox (my foxy husband that is)

I have done it in a house

I have done it with a mouse (does Mickey Mouse count?)

I have done it in the car

I have done it near and far

I have done it in a tree (well, leaning against a tree)

And in the grass and sitting on a rock

At the park and concert too

And in my bed as a sleepyhead

In the mall and during fall

On a bench and beach chair

While eating dinner, while playing cards

Watching TV and drinking tea…

In a restaurant, at the movies too

There isn’t anywhere I wouldn’t try…

I even succeeded playing mini golf!

Would you, could you in the dark

Yes, yes I do it in the dark!

Would you do it here or there

Say! I will do it ANYWHERE!

Thank you, thank you



Putting Up A Tent – Family Style

Have you ever wondered why families with young children are always late or take so much longer to get things done than families with no children or older children? EVERYTHING takes longer! Get out the door, eat dinner, get through the grocery store…the examples are endless. I think I was able to capture the perfect example of the reason efforts take so long with children in the picture.

The opportunity to capture this elongated process presented itself when a new tent arrived at our home one Wednesday evening and daddy decided that we should immediatley figure out how it is assembled…ofcourse, this replaced bath time and book time and relax before bed time! But you know, who needs to keep a routine…afterall it is summer (says daddy)!

Here is the daddy makes four explanation of why things take so much longer with children!

7:08 pm: Open the tent and pull out the poles, examine the poles…if you’re 12 months old…do a little dance!20160629_191021

7:12pm: Wait until all the children have an opportunity to examine the poles…pretend to go fishing with them…of course!

20160629_1908517:23pm: Pick your spot and lay out the tent – allow for a release of the excitement valve by letting them crawl in and pretend the new tent is a parachute! Maybe we don’t need poles! Could the kids hold the tent up all night? 20160629_1910597:35pm: Locate the tent pegs…turn around to find your toddler practicing playing drums with the tent pegs! Try to pry the pegs out of his hands…decide the screaming that ensues is not worth the fight and proceed with the tent set-up minus 2 tent pegs.


7:42pm: Let your middle and oldest assist you in getting the tent pegs into the ground.


7:43pm: Monitor them closely, instruct them on how to hammer without crushing a toe, a thumb or accidently hitting an unsuspecting bystander in the process!

20160629_1916297:51pm: Take a supervising adult out of the picture to distract your toddler so the poles and tent pegs can be freed!20160629_1913117:58pm: Pretend that you have the confidence in your Pre-Schooler to untangle the tent pole supports…I mean we didn’t really want the tent to be secured down to the ground tonight! Tomorrow should be good too, right?


8:01pm: Put the windows through quality testing…PASS the nose test! 20160629_195409

8:03pm: Verify that the room divider works…20160629_195607(0)

8:07pm: Question why there is an ‘extra’ tent pole?20160629_200956

8:11pm: Decide that the extra tent pole really is an extra pole and consider the job complete!


9:45pm: Reap the benefits of tent assembly lessons! Resized_20160629_215345_003

Tent up…pajamas on…enjoy being boys and exploring the world of camping!


Saving Our Polar Bears

I am all about the environment and try to do my part. We composte at home, are vegetarian for environmental reasons as well as for health and being kind to animals, we recycle, turn off the tap when we brush our teeth! Small things but hopefully they all add up!

Sometimes the kids learn about impacts to the environment and how we can make a difference and I am not prepared for it! Take Saturday night for example:

C and D were in the bath together. All sounded happy and calm, then I noticed that the bathroom light was off and they were bathing in the dark. So being a helpful mommy I walked in and turned on the light, as I crossed the doorway to check on them D started yelling at me:

“You’ll kill the Polar Bears!! Turn the lights off!” I didn’t know what was happening. I started looking around…what Polar Bears? Is this a game…we don’t have Polar Bears in the bathroom! In a state of shock I lurched towards the light switch and as I switched it off calm seemed to be restored.

I was very confused. Together C and D started putting the story of the Polar bears together for me…and I began to understand that C had recently educated D about wasting energy and global warming and not to keep a light on if it isn’t necessary.

I am so pleased to know they care for the environment and Polar Bears…but I think I need to help D work on his communication approach a bit. You gotta give him credit for his enthusiasm!

Oh and they finished the bath with the lights off!


My Sister’s Barn Raising

Have you ever heard of the Amish tradition of Barn Raisings? When the whole community comes together to build a barn for a family in the community? Many hands make light work, etc. etc. Well – I think my sister is finally learning what that means! The arrival of her first child has perfectly aligned with the first birthday of my youngest and last (sniff sniff) baby boy! I have been putting things aside for the arrival of my first niece/nephew (at least on my side of the family) ever since they announced they were expecting!

While recently chatting with her on our daily 7:30am morning call during my commute to work (only made possible because she is on pre-maternity leave!) she told me she feels bad getting all of the baby hand-me-downs that have been coming her way. “I should pay you for all the baby things you are passing on to me! This baby isn’t going to have anything new!” (While I wanted to say YES, please pay me…Lord knows I could use the cash with 3 growing boys!) that isn’t the point. This is her community’s way (and especially my way) of getting her up and running as she enters this new chapter in her life! I am helping her raise her barn! And it feels sooo good! Each person who gives her a small gift or passes on a baby item in excellent ‘loved’ condition is making just a small effort and gesture, but when they all come together, it sets her up for baby #1 in a big way!

The arrival of a baby is expensive and even though they are little, they need LOTS of stuff!! (interested in a way to avoid purchasing some baby ‘stuff’, check out my post: Budget Lovers Guide to Entertaining a Toddler)

My sister’s modern day ‘barn raising’ is actually the passing on of unneeded baby items from me and my three sons. We are just getting out of the baby phase and what perfect timing for me to pass on all of these unneeded items. I explained to my sister that it isn’t just that I don’t need them with this a chance to avoid them going into the landfill or donating them to a stranger, it means that all the things I loved and have fond fond memories of with my children gets a renewed life and purpose with her first born! I hate throwing things away (hence my pack rat tendencies) so this is a perfect excuse to get these baby things out of my house that otherwise might linger too long!

I remember being very overwhelmed at the generosity of my community of friends and family for the arrival of all of my 3 children! It was humbling. (here’s a few snaps from my baby shower before #2).

Big Brother All Stars!
Baby Shower Generosity!
After the UnWrapping!
I didn’t have a big sister to get loved baby items from, but I assure you every piece of hand-me-downs that do come my way I am so grateful for and they always come in handy! I told my sister she will have an opportunity to pass on her things some day to someone who needs them! But for now, the benefit gets to fall on her! It feels good for me (as long as I get to see some pics of my new niece/nephew in a few of the belongings I passed down) and I hope it will come to feel good for her too!

I am going to miss our 7:30am call!


Secure It!

When the news shares a story about the death of a child/ren it is always heart wrenching. No matter the cause of death, it pulls at an extra heart-string and when you then learn it could have been avoided it is even worse. It hits home even closer when the story is about a child your own child’s age. It was that sick to your stomach, hug your children extra long tonight feeling I felt tonight when reading about the Ikea recall, and that it took the death of 6 children to get the item out into the media! It also brought me right back to the time I went running into the bedroom when C was calling out for help with a tone in his voice that I knew couldn’t be ignored – it was real, and when I appeared in the bedroom I found him holding up the dresser that had just tipped over onto his little brother! I am still finding Lego pieces in the top drawer from that incident. It stopped my heart, and I hope it will stop you in your tracks too!

So to all the parents out there that love Ikea, who troll over their catalog like a monthly magazine subscription and dream about the day your home will look as organized, clean and spunky as just one of their pages! I urge you to get online, pause your Pinterest pinning and Instagram scrolling for 2 minutes! That is literally all it took me – 2 minutes to order my Ikea dresser wall secure kits!

Go here:  Enter a few details, you don’t even need a receipt, purchase date or any real memory of your Ikea purchase at all! Here is my submission, SIMPLE and DONE:

Secure It

THEN – when your Secure It! Kits arrive, INSTALL THEM! I’ll share when ours arrive and they get installed.

Be safe – xx

Creativity to the Rescue!

Well – I am officially feeling old! No, not because I am closer to 40 than 30, not because D tells me “You getting old, Mama” and proceeds to demand I squat down so he can examine my grey hair…I am feeling old because I have been invited to the first wedding of a neighbor I used to babysit! How is it possible that I am old enough to be attending the wedding of a child I used to babysit!?! All that aside…I am super excited because I am about to get crafty with the bridal shower gift and I am pumped about it! (this is also my first post about one of my DIY ideas! Fun!!)

I had two challenges with her Bridal Shower:

  1. She is moving to Hawaii shortly after her wedding, and being on the inner circle of accomplishing a move of such magnatude and distance, I am well aware of the challenges a move like this can present. As such, I did not want to give her a gift that she would need to ship, box up and store away here at home, or need the hastle of returning.
  2. The Bridal Shower Invitation said “Please Bring Gift Unwrapped for Everyone to See!

My solution to challenge #1 was resolved when I found personalized luggage tags on They were perfect! Light, practical and possibly one of the first gifts they will get with their new last name together! Out of curiousity, I went to one of her registries and saw that it had a ‘Dream Fund‘ – an online gift card I could contribute to that the couple can shop with at a later point. Perfect! Money and gift cards travel easy!

Challenge #2 took a bit more creativity!  How do I bring my gift to the shower unwrapped when it will look so little and ‘value-less’.  I kicked the left side of my brain into action…here is what I came up with!

I needed a way to display the luggage tags so they fit in with all the other gifts on the table. Luggage tags, luggage tags…a suitcase! I need to display them on a suitcase. Real suitcase…too big. Kids suitcase…too hoaky. I will make a suitcase! To the recycling bin I went!!

A graham cracker box was the first thing to jump out at me! That would function as the form for my suitcase. Sourcing a few other craft materials I started my project with the below items:


Next was to cover the suitcase and make a strap! Packaging brown paper covered the box and an off cut of vegan leather with a few little heart studs finished off the strap! Now I had a clean slate to decorate.

Getting Crafty - The Box

Getting Crafty - The Strap

Aiming for a Hawaiian theme I added some surfboards, and their married initial ‘B’ and ofcourse made a quick reference to the additional portion of the gift which was a donation to their Dream Fund.

Getting Crafty - Hawaii

Getting Crafty - Details

The finished Product.

Getting Crafty - The Final Product

My suitcase on the gift table!



Have you had to get creative with a gift? I would love to hear about it!




‘Working Dad’

2016 Fathers Day

I am a ‘Working Mom’, there is no question about that. I work Monday through Friday out of the home as a Project Manager, my husband and I have coordinated our schedules so that I dash out of the house early before bus pick-up, and pre-school and daycare drop-off. It’s a madhouse I leave behind for Dad to orchestrate! And he does it, 5 days a week! Which, on this Father’s Day leads me to wonder, why hasn’t society coined the phrase ‘Working Dad’?

Dads today are much more involved in family life than (from what I am told) they ever were before. My Grandmother said it about the new dads in our family, as she watched her grandchildren become parents. My husband is much more than just a Dad or just the breadwinner! While being my biggest ‘Boy’ he is also on most days:

  • Head Chef and frequently dish washer
  • Operator of the vacuum and Swiffer to our floors
  • Chief Lego architect
  • Laundry basket carrier
  • ‘Shazamer’ of our house from war zone to tidy
  • Weekend breakfast extraordinaire
  • T-Ball coach in the Spring, soccer coach in the fall
  • Front yard tree swing establisher
  • Lawn mower and weed wacker operator
  • Wiper blade fixer
  • Basement fort builder – I could go on…

He’s just the best, and he does all the above while at home. 40+ hours a week he is out of the house at his day job  earning a much needed pay check, carrying our benefits and contributing to our retirement savings and boys’ college funds. If he isn’t a ‘Working Dad’…I don’t know what is. We love you! Thanks for all you do!! xxxx