If Christmas Letters Told the Truth

Every year, we get a couple of pretty amazing Christmas letters updating us on the celestial achievements that a particular family has achieved over the past year.  Glowing highlights, culled from Facebook’s “These are the posts that make you look the least crazy” category.

But seriously – that’s not life.  So to help us all approach the holidays with a little more realism, here’s what our Christmas letter would say, if I made any effort at all to go to the post office, buy stamps, and Shutterfly some pictures where we all had our eyes open…

Our 2015 End-of-Year Wrap-Up:

Dear Friends and Family,

Another year has passed.  We made it – all of our kids are alive and we’re still married.  Our house is still standing, and our kids are dressed most days in weather-appropriate clothing.

Amelia started Kindergarten and is the sassiest, silliest, and smartest kid in the world.  She can also bring her mother to Olympic levels of stress-eating in a matter of minutes.

Henry started preschool, thank goodness.  Our house would NOT still be standing if he were home for the entire day.  Henry’s life revolves around “bad guys,” toilet humor, and making his sister’s life miserable.

They love each other so much that it makes their mom cry.

J is still working, which we’re super happy about because I don’t want to go back to being a lawyer ever in my entire life.  He likes his job, likes his coworkers, and is a great dad.  We also recently found out that he likes Coca-Cola flavored gummi candy, which was a major shock.

I’ve taken up quilting in yet another attempt to avoid doing laundry.  Jamberry doesn’t pay the bills, but it’s fun.  A lot more fun than laundry.

We didn’t win the lottery; we didn’t cure cancer; and most days our home looks like a hurricane went through.  But we’re all good.

Peace out.  See you in 2016.  Or not, because we can’t stand long car trips.



Star Wars pandemonium

When I was a kid, my brother would always get to pick what we watched on TV. He was older, bigger, and he had the “hold your sister down while choosing the movie” move totally perfected. (This is also why we had to watch He-Man instead of She-Rah, which would have been a superior choice.  #Obvi.)

A tiny amount of appreciation for Star Wars stuck with me over the years. So when I saw this picture today I had a little warm and fuzzy feeling towards my brother and all things Jedi.
I think it’s kind of like childbirth, where as time goes by, you forget the pain involved and only preserve the happy part of your memory!




So yup.  This is basically the marriage of my childhood and adult life.

Like ’em??  Find them here! 

Story Time with Grandma

My mom has been here visiting for a few days and my kids have pretty much been in heaven!

Yeah…. I’mma need to live close to my Mom.

When we first got married, we lived out in Connecticut, a long ways away from my parents and my in-laws.  Once we had Amelia, I realized just how much I wanted to be closer to my family and back in the Midwest.  I really did like living in Connecticut; New Haven had some amazing restaurants and museums, the Long Island Sound was beautiful, and the proximity to Boston and NYC made it a great place for us to live as a young married couple.   But living in the city of New Haven with a newborn really wasn’t something we were excited about doing.

But mostly, if we’re being honest:  I’m a total homebody, momma-and-daddy’s girl, family-first kind of person.   Big time.  I missed my mom and dad.

Now that we’ve been back in the Midwest for a few years, I know we’ve made the right choice.  We get to see our family so much more than we ever would have if we were still out East.  And now, it’s just a tank of gas rather than airfare to see them!

Books and Bedtimes

So back to now: My mom came to visit for a few days.  She helped out at our little Montessori school at the holiday bazaar, took Amelia to a Christmas Tea, and spent a ton of time just lovin’ on my kiddos.  Getting to see this two nights in a row absolutely made my days!!


Amelia with Grandma.jpg

Amelia and my mom, reading the “Picture Atlas” from Usbourne Books.  So fun to hear Amelia’s questions about the world!
Henry and Grandma

Henry and my mom reading about pirates.  This book came with a little wind-up pirate ship that races along tracks that are IN THE BOOK.  FOR REALZ.  Want to get your kids more interested in reading?  Put a friggin’ moving pirate ship IN THE BOOK.

So yeah – these little moments make me even more certain that we did the right thing for our family to be a bit closer!

You can find these books – two of our faves! – right here! 

The Best Parenting Endorsement Ever

As the now creepy-until-proven-not-creepy Bill Cosby says, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”

“You’re NEVER Despicable, Dad!”

*This* is the ringing endorsement that Amelia gave Jeff a few nights ago when he was tucking her in.  And it’s pretty honest.  My guy truly is NEVER despicable.

When questioned further: “I think he’s never despicable because he’s always nice to me and he let’s me wear whatever I want and he gives me hugs and he doesn’t let my brother pinch me.”

So basically: BEST. DAD. EVER.

Picture Day! 

Amelia and Henry are in the same Primary classroom at the local Montessori school.   And today was picture day!
Amelia’s first picture day at her preschool a few years ago, I spent hours obsessing over the perfect outfit, what hair bow, tights, shoes, etc.   When we got the pictures back, they were super cute, but they just didn’t show off Amelia’s feisty and funky personality.   So now, we just let the kids pick what they want to wear.  And the pictures have been so much more fun to get!
I love these little turkeys!!   Here they are on the way to school – before paint, markers, applesauce, etc. entered the “picture.”

Halloween is for Kids. And Moms that Want to be Kids.

Amelia Glowing Mummies

I love this time of year!  Not just the changing weather, the leaves turning, and the apple-cider-everything, either.  So much of this time of year seems aimed at the young and young-at-heart.  Halloween, pumpkin picking, apple picking, costume parades, etc.

Amelia Mummies 2And now, you can raise your Halloween game with Jamberry’s NEWEST design feat.

Last weekend I was able to go to Jamberry’s “Summit” in Indianapolis.  As a reward for attending, we were given an advance set of their newest product – GLOW-IN-THE-DARK wraps.  The Indianapolis attendees were given a full sheet of “All Wrapped Up” – the cutest mummies your nails have ever worn.  My 5-year-old daughter saw them and I knew immediately what I was doing the next time I had a free ten minutes!  With the adult-size wraps, her manicure took three wraps out of the entire sheet.

And it gets better:

Not just mummies, but “Glowing Ghouls” and “Trick or Treat” are part of the Jamberry Halloween line-up.  The ghosts are really cute – I think I like them better than the mummies.  But who can resist little piggies all dressed up as mummies???

21854975410_2eb913f352_b Glow Wraps

If you’re into Jams for the 5-free aspect, don’t worry.  Jamberry has figured out a way to get these to glow – WITHOUT formaldehyde, a pretty huge accomplishment!

This is the time of year that I turn into *that mom*.  

Henry is planning on being “Captain ‘Merica – Soldier Guy” (his words), which doesn’t give me a lot of leeway in the creativity department.  For the first time since I’ve had kiddos, I bought a Halloween costume.  (It’s CUTE, and I totally get why people buy costumes. I’m not a homemade-or-nothing-snob.)

Shake Your TailfeatherAmelia, on the other hand, is planning on being a Peacock-Princess-Ballerina, which gives me a chance to play with feathers, tutus, sparkles, and give her another Jamicure closer to Halloween.  Because you know that no kiddo of mine is going to be a peacock for Halloween and NOT rock these “Shake Your Tailfeather” Jams!! So be on the lookout for that post in a few weeks!

Are you Ready for Fall?

Last weekend we went apple picking with our kids… And by apple picking, I mean paying an extreme amount of money for a tractor ride and about 10 apples.  In my next life I’m coming back as the owner of an apple orchard; those guys have a good thing going!

Hello AutumnAre you Ready for Fall?

I’m still holding out a little bit for a few more weeks of summer, but I’m excited to see the fall through my kiddos’ eyes again!  I LOVE all of the pumpkin carving, apple picking, jumping into the leaves – especially with my little munchkins:)

Next time we go apple picking, we’ll go back to a tried-and-true spot that we really like.  One of our favorite places to go is Garden Patch Farms in Homer – it’s a smaller spot than some of the orchards around our place, much less of a circus, and FABULOUS produce.  Not just apples, they also have the best Concord grapes, tons of vegetables, and a really great storefront.  Definitely worth the trip in the Chicago area!

Are you in the Chicago suburbs?  What’s your favorite spot to go for fall fun??

TruShine, Mommy and Me, and a Book Rec

My little girl is one of the GIRLIEST girls that I’ve ever encountered.  She’s also one of the most colorful and uh…fashion risk-taking.  And I love it.  Why wear one tutu when you can wear 4?  Why were one headband when you love all 5 with a particular outfit? Leg-warmers?  Those go on arms.  Pink Hair? Don’t care.  Nails?  Gotta do ’em.

Mommy and Me Jamicures – Because I’m *THAT* Mom

Amelia has been asking for us to be “Matcher Matchers” with our nails for a while now.  (Matcher Matchers = exactly what it sounds like.  We match.) But then she usually picks out something that even I’m a little gun-shy about wearing.  But this time, she asked to be Matcher Matchers AND picked out something pretty cute for us to try.  So we got down to business with some serious Mommy-and-Melia time.

11853957_10205092297976290_286570396_n 11830180_10205092298056292_1028492754_n (1)

Amelia picked the pattern – One “Tropical Mirage,” one “Mini Teal Polka.”  Repeat.  Love it!

Whenever I do Amelia’s Jams, I always take a few extra steps to make sure they’ll stay on through the craziness of her days. Here’s my go-to tips for making sure your little one is going to get more than a week from her Jamberry Juniors:

  1. Wash their hands really well with dish soap.  The good kind.  Like the kind you use if you’ve been frying something and your house is covered in cooking oil.  Little kids seem to have super oily nail beds – and this is actually a gentle way to get them prepped!
  2. Cuticles, cuticles, cuticles.  If I haven’t done Amelia’s nails for awhile, her cuticles will cover almost half of her nail.  NO JOKE.  No matter your age, cuticles and Jams don’t mix.  You just won’t get a good seal.  So you really do need to take the time to push back the cuticles on their (and your!) nail beds.  Also – you’ve just washed their hands really well, so their nice and soft and ready to be pushed back.
  3. Heat the wrap, THEN apply it to your kiddo.  This isn’t so much for the application success, but more so that I don’t have to aim a heater at her little hands.
  4. Clip – don’t file.  Nail clippers on little fingers and toes makes a fast, smooth, and easy job of removing the excess on the tip of the nail.

So how did the Juniors last? 

We did Amelia nails on July 30th.  After a few days in a row of half-day preschool and a couple of play dates, they looked like this:

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And as of August 9th, here are Amelia’s as I was typing up this post:  Still on, but definitely a little grubby.  But that’s from “helping” in the garden, not so much the Jams themselves!

Check out the outfit. Silver-studded leggings, striped twirly dress, sweater jacket. It’s an 80-degree August day. That’s my girl!
Little fingers – and Jams still on!

Okay lady, you have “TruShine” in the title of the post….That’s the only reason I’m here. 

I’m like a kid in a candy store right now with the new TruShine gel system.  I’ve tried it solo and on top of a wrap or two, but I really wanted to see how long it would last layered over Jams for an entire manicure.  It’s magical.  Have trouble with lifting tips?  Solved.  Like the thickness of gel? Need a little more strength than Jams alone? SOLVED.

As of today, not one chip, not one dent, and NO lifting at the free edge or the cuticles of my Jams.  Just glossy, glossy goodness.  I  have to say – I’m impressed, ESPECIALLY for an at-home system.  And ESPECIALLY since I haven’t painted my own nails now in about a year (since I first tried Jamberry wraps).

Want to pre-order?  Holla at me!  Send me an e-mail and I’ll send you the details!  suzanna.mayhugh@gmail.com

If you take nothing away from this post but one thing, let it be this. Go buy this book. “Bonk” by Mary Roach. If you’re at all a fan of David Sedaris, you’ll love it. Here’s the kicker – it’s non-fiction. And it’s gut-busting hilarious. “Gulp” by the same author is also worth the purchase, but the subject matter of this one is a bit more… engaging….
Eleven days later – as perfect as when I first applied the TruShine gel enamel.

June – Or, Begin the Crazy!!

Today is my kiddo’s last FULL day of school for the year.  After today, I’ll have a full-fledged Kindergartner on my hands.  I am absolutely amazed.  It really does seem like it’s flown by.  Everyone tells you that when you’re pregnant, and most of the time you can keep yourself from rolling your eyes.  But it’s so true.  Even thinking that about Henry starting preschool in the Fall makes me wonder where in the world my babies went!

So June = Let the Good Times Roll

Amelia will be home from school for the summer – the first time in two years!  (We had her in a summer program most mornings the last two summers.)  So far, we’re raising ladybugs, planning tea parties and fairy-garden-planting parties, trips to the pool, frog-catching, fishing, four different camping expeditions, and three campfires – don’t forget the marshmallows.  And that’s *just* what Amelia and Henry have planned for us during their Team Toddler Huddle.

mc2j6Kids Camping

So for today, I’m enjoying some quiet time to start my June! 

As I said, today is Amelia’s last full day.  Which is giving me some time to catch up and plan ahead!

What are YOUR plans for the summer?  Any good tips for super active, fun-loving, hilarious and slightly prone-to-maiming-each other kiddos?