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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Our Crazy, Ridiculous, Over-the-Top Harry Potter Party

We don't do big birthday parties. Ever. The biggest thing we've done was the year we rented a bounce house for the backyard but that was a party for all three kids (it's a bit of a perk to have three birthdays within a month.... but only when you can convince the kids to have one party all together).  My oldest has really only had one birthday party that was just for him - when he was 3. Plus, our whole family is super into Harry Potter. So when he asked to have a Harry Potter Birthday Party, I honestly couldn't help myself.

So here's what we did and how we did it!! We had a BLAST! I am so indebted to Pinterest and other people's blogs about their Harry Potter parties... so this is my contribution to the internet. ;)

I guess we should start with the invitations! I printed out a Hogwarts Acceptance Letter for each child, and we drove around delivering them by "Owl Post."  This was really fun. Riley dressed in his Harry Potter cloak to do it!

The Party

The front door! I made a Hogwarts Express Sign and the kids helped me make the brick "wall" to enter the house!

The Sorting Ceremony
Before the party, I texted all the moms and asked them to send me two words that described her child. We used those words to sort the kids into Hogwarts Houses. Then my husband wrote a little poem for each child and I made a bookmark with their House info on one side and their poem on the other.  My husband recorded the Sorting Hat poem and each child's poem (using a Sorting Hat voice, of course) and we hid a bluetooth speaker underneath the hat. We called each child up and had him touch the sorting hat. When he touched it, it played his poem!  I made a "Wizard Cloak" for each kid and placed the cloak around his shoulders as he was sorted. I was a little worried about this, that everyone would want to be in Gryffindor, but actually, most of them were super-happy with their sorting and a few decided Hufflepuff was the best house!
My Sorting Hat, Wands, and Sorting Hat Poem

I forgot to take a picture of the final setup, but we placed the Sorting Hat on that table. The Wizard Cloaks are hanging, ready to go, and the big sheet is for watching the Harry Potter movie later.  I made the giant frame out of a big piece of black matting board. We used it again later in the party - I love when things have double-uses!

Our Sorting Hat Song:

The Wand Choosing Ceremony

As you know, the wand chooses the wizard, so we called each child up to try out a few wands and see which one worked for him! We made up some spells to make animal noises or Jedi lightsaber/glass breaking noises and the kids tried out the spell. My husband was in the back selecting a sound effect.  It worked out really well. Typically, they'd go through 1-2 wands before getting the "right one" but then I could tell some of them didn't love the wand they got, so we let everyone try a few more spells to make sure. We made sure the spells "didn't work" for the kids who weren't in love with their wands and they switched out. I think everyone was happy in the end.  And they would laugh so hard when someone was supposed to be making glass break but instead they got a cow moo.

After the wand choosing, I let the kids pick the "core" for their wand. When I made the wands, I had my husband drill a wide hole in the bottom of each one. The kids got to pick dragon scales (sequins), unicorn hair (iridescent pipe cleaner) or phoenix feathers (craft feathers) and put them inside their wand. I was sitting with the hot-glue gun to seal it up when they were done. I got no pictures of this part because the thought of leaving a glue gun unattended with 11 eight-year-olds in my house was just too scary. ha.

I was pretty pumped with how my wands turned out! I think they look pretty realistic!

Potions Class
We have a basement, which was perfect for our Potions Class in the dungeon! 
Each Student had a cauldron, a pipette, a mason jar, and a plastic cup with a measurement marking. Black plastic spoons were on the table with the potions - I pre-treated them with food coloring so that the kids would be surprised when they stirred. I don't recommend this. They noticed the drops on the spoon and touched them... dye all over the place! I had baby wipes on hand though, so it was all good.

I made all the potions labels... special thanks to all my wine-drinking friends who brought me wine bottles after I posted a plea for them on Facebook!

Our Pepperup Potion - the kids actually got to drink these!
I may do a separate post with exactly what we did for potions.  It was mostly dry ice, baking soda and vinegar, and food coloring. We had so much fun. And the only major mess we had was made by ME - I accidentally dumped over one of the big glass canisters! The Hogwarts students were much more careful than I was! :)
He made a very good Professor Snape

Working on some Pepperup Potion

We made one potion out of non-toxic ingredients and told the kids it was a "Drowsiness Draught" and asked if anyone wanted to drink it.  Awesome Jackson did - this was his reaction! Of course then the boys started dipping one finger into the potion and pretending to fall down asleep. So fun!

This ended up being a very realistic experiment. We made Snape Slime but I used really cheap glue from Hobby Lobby. In the end, only two boys actually got real slime they could pick up in their cauldrons... just like at Hogwarts, some students are better at potions than others!
Gold Star to Caleb of Hufflepuff and Riley of Ravenclaw for their potion-making prowess!

Drinking their Pepperup Potion

This might be my most favorite picture from the whole night! Look how excited they were!
 Just a few drops of Hippogriff Snot changed their potion!

They weren't really licking it... but why in the world was that their inclination?!?!  :)

I didn't want to etch my glass canisters just in case I wanted to use them again for something else, so I used "glass etch" vinyl to cut out the Hogwarts Crest and put them on the Potions containers.
Dinner In The Great Hall

The kids really loved the floating candles!

Flaming Firewhisky - apple juice with a tealight floating on the top. I served these individually and made the kids blow out their tealight before I walked away, but this was a HUGE hit. 
Quote of the night from one of the boys:
"I love ice water. It's my favorite drink! Well, it was, but then you gave me that butterbeer stuff!"
Um, sorry Sarah!!

Quidditch Game in the Backyard!
Riley helped me spray paint some hula hoops, then my husband worked some magic and we had a Quidditch Pitch for the backyard!

We had three more rings on the opposite end of the yard

Our Quidditch Rules:
I had a snitch I had purchased (but you could make one by spray painting a golf ball and gluing on wings). The kids hid around the corner of the house while my husband hid the Snitch.
When the game started, each team tried to put the Quaffle through the rings and one player on each team was the Seeker and was looking around the yard for the Snitch. We had a timer and after 5 minutes, a new Seeker was selected. My two littles were "Bludgers" and they ran around and tagged the boys as they played. The original idea was that if you were tagged, you had to sit down and count to five. It had rained and it was really wet, so we ended up having the Bludgers tag the kids, but it didn't really mean anything!
Our broomsticks are just clippings from our yard and straw from a bale we got at Lowes.


Re-potting Mandrakes! The cupcakes had chocolate frosting and we stuck a little baby mandrake inside (I glued treetops to the top of tiny baby favors)
Just before we sang Happy Birthday, we had a quick lesson on Mandrakes and their powers.

Unless the kids were really into Harry Potter, I think the significance of this activity was kind of lost on them, but the kids who did this thought it was fun! While everyone was getting their sleeping bags ready for movie-watching, I used that giant frame for a quick photo op. Not all the kids wanted to participate, but I got some great expressions from the ones who did:

Late-Night Snacks

I was pretty proud of the boys. I didn't put out much junk food at all, especially since we had cupcakes and butterbeer. They were really happy with the popcorn and fruit - or should I say Puffapod Seeds, Wizard Fruit, and Flesh-Eating Slug Eggs

The Fun Details
My favorite small detail was my Chocolate Frogs! I made the Chocolate Frog box and even made double-sided Wizard cards to go inside! Each boy got to take one home at the end of the party

House Frames - I had these printed out at Office Depot and stuck them in some frames I had around the house. The silver one is a fancy one we got for our wedding and I'm pretty sure I've never put a picture in it ever!

House Banner - I printed these out on burlap, mounted them onto colored felt and attached to a ribbon to make our House Banner

Chocolate Frogs and Hedwig. I REALLY wanted a caged Hedwig for the party but I was also trying not to spend a lot and to let Riley make as many decisions as possible (I love Harry Potter and it was hard for me not to completely take over and do everything how I wanted it). So he chose this little owl stuffed animal and the cage was on sale at Hobby Lobby.  It was a sweet detail... and now he gets to keep the owl. Plus it makes me giggle at how small the cage is for the poor thing!

Sooooo.... want to have your own Harry Potter Party? A friend of mine suggested that I pack up all my stuff and rent it out for a donation to my next trip to Swaziland. I am going again this January! So if you are interested in renting my props (or having me make wands, cloaks, or Chocolate Frog boxes) for a party, please let me know!!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

I have to tell you something

I've been trying to write something coherent and meaningful about Mike Brown and Ferguson, Missouri. I keep failing. I think it's because what I need to write is painful. My heart is so broken over all of this. Not just for Mike Brown. It's broken over Trayvon Martin, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Jonathan Ferrell. And many, many others. I think of their mothers, their families. The value of their lives, now lost. Oh how I can't stop thinking about their mothers.

I have to tell you something: I have three children. Two sons and a daughter. One of my sons is white, the other is black (he was adopted). It breaks my heart that, based on statistics and research, and on the countless number of actual incidents of oppression in our society, the future looks much brighter for one of my sons than it does the other.

I have to tell you that my white son, no matter how he is dressed, is so unlikely to be shot while walking down the street that my brain doesn't even register any fear about it.  But my black child? I already fear it. Legitimately. In my very own neighborhood, a few years ago, someone called the police because a group of black teens were walking down the street. The compliant? Suspicious strolling. The boys live here. They were walking in their own neighborhood. I live in a Stand Your Ground state. This terrifies me.

I have to tell you that should my boys grow up and make some poor choices, my black son is 30% more likely to wind up in jail for the same crime as his brother. Statistically, my white son is five times more likely to use drugs than my black son yet my black son is ten times more likely to be sent to jail on a drug offense. That is so ridiculous it is almost funny. Almost.

I have to tell you that should, heaven-forbid, either of my boys be shot or harmed and the news decided to cover it, the photo chosen to represent each one would be vastly different. My white son would likely be portrayed by the media in his nice clothes, a graduation cap and gown, or maybe a sports photo.  My black son's photo is more likely to be menacing, or lazy, lying on the couch, holding up his hands, as if in a gang sign.

I have to tell you that my white son is more likely to be hired for a fabulous job than his brother, regardless of intelligence or achievement.

I have to tell you that I live in a culture where my white son's life is more valued than the life of his black brother.

I cried writing that sentence. I had to stop typing. Head over the keyboard, suppressing sobs kind of crying.

This has to stop. Please don't tell me I am over-reacting. Please don't tell our black community that this is an "isolated incident" or that they are being oversensitive. Listen to the stories, believe the eye-witnesses. Black lives have value, their voices speak truth.  We have well-documented research that shows racial bias in our culture. It exists. It is real.

These are Howard University students just after Mike Brown's murder. It's my most favorite photo I've seen this week.  I think it's beautifully, heart-wrenchingly poignant.  According to eyewitness accounts, Mike Brown was standing, compliant, with his arms up when he was shot and killed. He must have looked like these students:

Be honest with yourself for a moment. Do you see menace? Does this picture trigger fear? We have to look deep, find our biases and work to eradicate them.

I have to tell you, I have to confess that as a white person, it took having a black child to move me towards true advocacy. I didn't believe I was racist, but I was all too willing to look the other way, to feel sad about events but stay out of them. I was complicit in my non-action. That is racism.

I have to tell you, this won't stop on its own. We have to stand together. This is not a "black issue."  We need to stop the over-militarization of our police so that our police officers no longer view the community as the enemy.  This is not a "police officers are bad" issue. The racial bias in our police force is a reflection of the racial bias in our culture. It's just that their interactions turn deadly. There does need to be focus there.

How to get started? What can we do? Read these two articles on how to be a white ally:

And if you live in Greensboro, stay tuned. We have a ball rolling - there will be some opportunities coming up soon to be more involved.

I have to tell you I stand with the black community. I believe the stories of racism and oppression. And I will not be complicit in my silence. Too many innocent young men have been murdered because of the color of their skin. Enough.

I have to tell you I am praying for change. I'm praying that grief and outrage will fill my friends' hearts and that they will be so uncomfortable that they have to DO something. As mothers, we need to protect our sons. All of them.  As humans, we need to protect each other. I pray that by the time my boys are old enough to be viewed by the justice system as adults, enough change has come that they will both be judged fairly by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. And I deeply regret the part I played in the fact that that day has not yet come.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Why Cancer Never Wins

I always thought about "Dad's fight with cancer." And oh how he battled it; both physically and emotionally. He had the most amazing positive attitude, all the way to the end. I think that was his best weapon in his fight.

In the end, cancer is the reason he died. But I can't bring myself to say he lost his battle with cancer. It's just not true. Cancer has stolen my future joys with my dad, but there are so many things his cancer could never touch.

Cancer never wins.

Cancer can't steal my memories. It can't undo love.

Cancer can't take away lessons taught, hands held, hugs given, kisses, grins, and thumbs-ups.

Cancer can't steal a spirit, or destroy an attitude.

Cancer can't touch all the imprints of my dad in my life: his traits in his children, the traits in all of his grandkids, the relationship he had with my husband, the way I know something of him will show up when my brother has kids one day.

Cancer can't take away all the amazing ways people have shown their support over the past few days.  It can't erase the sweet emails and messages from Dad's friends and family, sharing their favorite memories, reminding me of funny stories.

Cancer can't undo the way my brother and I stick together, sharing the burden, laughing over Dad's inability to send a talk-to-text message with correctly spelled words.

Cancer never wins. Dad didn't lose this fight.

I realized this because of all the emails, texts, phone calls and facebook messages I've gotten since Dad passed away.  Thank you, friends, so much. Your prayers have given me strength and peace. I never thought I'd make it through saying my final goodbye and going through his things.  Your words of encouragement have brought me comfort. All the favorite shared memories have made me smile. He was loved. We are loved. Thank you. Because of you, cancer didn't win.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dear Dad

I've mentioned my dad in passing a bit on this blog over the years. I haven't posted much about his fight with cancer though because I felt like it wasn't my story to share.  And when I wrote about Dad on my post, Namaste, I had him read it first and asked his permission to share.

But this time this post is for Dad. You see, Dad's been fighting cancer for years. And in between cancer recurrences, he's battled a stroke, a heart-attack, and two major falls (one of which probably should have killed him). His sister calls him the "Cat Man" because it has always seemed as if he truly had 9 lives. I've joked that I didn't even get alarmed anymore when I'd get the call about the latest health issue with Dad, because my tough-as-nails New Englander father would always power through.

Dad passed away yesterday. I actually wrote this the day before he died, two days before I planned to fly up to Boston to bring him home with me so he could spend his final days with us in NC. I had planned to post it before his death. I am so sad I missed my chance. And I haven't changed the wording. Partly because I can't get through reading it again to make any changes.

Dear Dad,

I know we'll have some kind of celebration of life event for you. And I'm sure I'd like to say something at it. But I'm your emotional child; the one who cries at commercials for things like hamburgers. So I'm not sure if it will happen. And I'd rather tell you now what I would want to say on that day anyway.

When I became a parent, I finally understood the joy that comes in watching your kids grow up. I expected that I'd learn what that was like. What I didn't know I would learn was the joy in watching your parents become grandparents. Watching my children fall in love with you has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. The kids think you hung the moon. And seeing you dote on them, play with them, wrestle with them on the floor and get their "sweet meat" like you did to us as kids has filled me with memories that will keep me smiling for a long time. They adore you. You have taught them well what the love of a grandpa looks like. Thank you.

And I love our friendship. It took us forever to get to where we are. I know I wasn't the easiest kid and I think you know you weren't the easiest dad. But we've both gotten healthier and I am so thankful for our relationship now. I know you are proud of me, though I walked a path you wouldn't have chosen for me. I hope you know that your pride means a lot. I've never doubted that you were proud, even when you don't understand my decisions. Thank you.

I joke with my friends that I was so wary of turning into my mom as an adult that I accidentally turned into my dad! From you I learned my work ethic, my desire to make this world a better place, my passion for helping others.  You made me work on the assembly line at your factory when I was a kid and had me help the mentally-challenged adults in the day program that you arranged for them. I had no idea back then that you were teaching me both the value of hard work and the importance of serving others all at the same time. Thank you.

I also joke that the spoon collection you handed down to me is my curse. I can never travel without worrying about finding a souvenir spoon.  But you knew I'd be the child who inherited your love of travel. You let me travel to Germany when I was only sixteen and took me to Mexico and St. Maarten and because of those broad horizons, I've now left pieces of my heart in countries all over the world.  You let me go and instilled in me the belief that I could do it. Thank you.

I could have used a little less of your independence and stubbornness, but I imagine I got those from you too.  So, um, thanks.

I love you, Dad. So much. It is so hard for me to let you go. I had planned on so many more adventures, so many more conversations. The kids will miss your presence so much.  I will miss you.  You will not be forgotten. I see you in my brother, in my kids. One of your grandkids doesn't even share your genes and I see you in him.  You love has cemented your place in their hearts, in their demeanor.  I pray that you go in peace knowing how much you are loved, not just by your family but by the Creator of this whole universe. The one who blessed me with you as a father. God only gives good gifts. I'm thankful you were one of mine, even with our ups and downs, Dad. I mean that.

We don't know how much time we're looking at now, do we? I'm still hoping for months but I know I'm not in charge. It doesn't matter. We love you today, tomorrow and for forever.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

The 10 Minute Summer

Summer is ALMOST here! My kids have one week of school left but my mind is already in summer-mode. We made it! Hallelujah, thank you, Jesus!

And this summer, I'm bringing back some of my favorite "10 minute" strategies. I thought I'd share them with y'all!

1. The 10 Minute Clean-Up: This is a modified version of the Fly Lady's 15 minute declutter. Our family rule is that we do movie nights on Friday nights but only if the kids' rooms are clean. They get a little overwhelmed on Friday afternoons when they see all they have to do to get ready! So we are implementing a 10 minute family clean-up time every night just before bedtime. In the summer, adding 10 minutes to our bedtime routine won't be a huge deal, and hopefully it will help all of us stay on top of summer clutter (me included!)

2. The 10 Minute Check-in: My husband and I used to do this regularly and have gotten out of the habit of it. So this summer I'm bringing it back! It's just a 10 minute check-in with your spouse/partner/significant other every night (or morning for you crazy morning-people). You can even set a timer if you have other stuff at night you know you need to get to. The important thing is making it happen regularly.  It doesn't mean you have to bear your soul every night; it's just a time you set aside to chat for 10 minutes.  It's amazing how much a little 10 minute connection every day can keep your marriage running smoothly, especially if you are touching or sitting close together while you chat. I don't know about y'all, but I can go a whole day without really connecting with my husband when our lives get crazy. Those little 10 minutes at night can be really precious.

3. The 10 Minute "Drop Everything" Password: I have a tendency to work on a craft or sewing project over the summer when the kids are around (or, ahem, get sucked into Facebook). Not that that's bad, but I hate ignoring the kids when they are home with me. I don't know how many more summers I have left when they'll want to hang out with me!  And I can always spare 10 minutes!  The kids and I are going to work on a code word they can use (they can each pick their own). When my child says his/her code word, I will drop what I'm doing, set the timer for 10 minutes, and give that child my undivided attention. They can use their word once a day! With three kids, I figure this will help me give each of them some quality time alone with me too! We might even do something cool like decorate a clothes pin or wooden circle they can hand to me instead of using a password. I'm still thinkin' on this one! Let me know if you have any great ideas!

4. The 10 Minute Jumping Jacks -  No worries, you don't do jumping jacks for 10 minutes! This is something our Tae Kwon Do Master taught us. For every 10 minutes of video game time, we stop the game and do 1 minute of jumping jacks.  Confession: I usually make only the kids do the jacks but my goal this summer is to join in. You'd be surprised how hard 60 seconds of jumping jacks can be!  We do this regularly and it helps in a couple ways: 1 - you get some physical activity in with video game time and 2 - it gives your kids a quick disconnect from the game. I think that disconnect minute is good for their little brains 'cause, you know, I really hate video games. There, I said it.

5. The 10 Minute Mommy Crown: I got this idea from my 1st grader's teacher this year. She has a workshop time during which she wears a crown. When she is wearing the crown, students are not allowed to interrupt her. That way she can work in small groups and give the children she's with her undivided attention.  I'm planning to modify this. I need to find a crown! But I'm going to tell the kids that if I'm wearing my crown, it means they may not interrupt me (except for emergencies). And I'll set the timer for 10 minutes so I don't get sucked into something like Facebook and waste my precious 10 minutes. :)  This strategy is to give me 10 minutes on days when I really need it. And just like my kids with their 10 Minute "Drop Everything" Password, I get to use my crown once a day.

What about y'all? Any 10 minute strategies you want to share?

Happy Summer, everyone! Oh I'm so happy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

You matter... but not too much

Dear Sweet Children of Mine,

Can I tell y'all something? You matter. You matter a lot.

But at the same time, you don't matter MORE than others. You just don't. Your preferences, your ideas, your opinions - we promise to value them, to raise you to feel empowered to share them, to feel confident in them.  But we will never teach you that what YOU want, what YOU think is more important than what someone else wants or thinks.

My prayer is that you will grow up to learn that true joy is found when life is not all about you.

We live in a world where selfishness is a virtue: "Watch out for #1!" You will have friends whose parents do everything in their power to make life better for their child, regardless of the effect it will have on you and the rest of your friends.  Our culture's business practices are about making more money for the people at the top, even if it hurts the workers.  You will be celebrated: you'll probably get a trophy for every sport you participate in, you'll have graduations for all the steps along the way of your elementary school career, adults will tell you that you did a great job, even when you didn't.

Not all of those things are terrible. But when you add it all up, there are a lot of things in our culture that could give you the impression that you are more important than someone else. I want you to know how deeply you are loved, how much you matter, but we hope to never tip the balance so that you think you are better than your friends.  Jesus loves you deeply, just as he loves them deeply.

We want to teach you to grow up to be great.

But there's a catch. You see, Jesus changed the definition of "great."  He said, "the last shall be first."  After living a life of sacrifice, of serving others, he told his disciples that they will do even greater things than he did.  Jesus showed us how a life of serving, one that is not all about us, is the key to greatness. Want to become great? Live like Jesus did: serve, sacrifice, love others.

So that's why we will do weird things. You might find out we've requested that you be in the class with a child who doesn't always make the best choices instead of just your best friends. We'll require that you finish out your season of whatever sport or activity you committed to.  You probably won't be involved in every single activity that's offered to you.  Our financial budget won't have quite as much for extras because of our commitment to missionaries and organizations working for justice.  You'll be dragged out of bed early Sunday mornings to join us to serve breakfast to our homeless friends.  Your dad will probably always have a 2nd job because he is committed to pastor a church with a budget where half of all that comes in as tithes must go back out - our church will never spend more on ourselves than we do on serving others.

So, dear children, the world does not revolve around you. It just doesn't. But we promise you'll find joy if you seek it in that realization.

   Mom and Dad

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Dear Mamas Who Own Phones:

So, there was this powerful open letter to the "mom on the iPhone" and I totally identified. I've been that mom who has spent too much time on the computer and on my phone and I admit I've totally missed moments to cheer on my kids, to make them feel important. In fact, I'm reading Hands Free Mama along with two dear friends and it's been pretty awesome.

But now there is backlash: the open letter "dear mom telling me to get off my phone." It resonates with me too. Sometimes I need to check out of a situation to save my sanity. Or sometimes a family member is sick and I need to check my phone or I'm using my phone to check on a different child, one who isn't with me at the moment. Or, you know, texting my husband asking him to pick up milk because I forgot. Again. Someone watching me at the park could assume I've checked out and don't care about my kids and that's hurtful.

Can we stop it? Mamas, we have so many things against us already! Mommy-guilt waits for me around every corner and I can find it all by myself.  I need all you other mamas to build me up, to have my back when I'm struggling so that I have the strength to do the same for you.

So here's my letter:

Dear Mamas Who Own Phones (whether you are looking at them or have them zipped up tight in your purse):

You love those kids. I can tell by the way you look at them, even when you are exasperated. You wouldn't be upset by their behavior if you didn't care.  I also noticed you pushing your child for approximately 117 minutes on the swing.  You are doing a great job. Keep it up. I'm with you. We need to stick together. Need to check your phone for a minute for something important? I'll keep an eye on your kiddo for you. Need to check it for a moment of sanity? No problem. I have to do that too sometimes. And thanks for doing the same for me when I check my phone. I appreciate that time you didn't let my kid eat that rock.

Moms who stay home? Awesome. It is HARD. No adult conversation, you can't go to the bathroom by yourself. No sick days. Pouring yourself into your kids all day, every day. What a sacrifice. Whew. Rock on.

Moms who work? Awesome. It is HARD. You balance so much on your plate and on top of it all are providing your kids (and mine) with an amazing example of what women can do. What a sacrifice. No wonder you are tired. Rock on.

Organic, cloth-diaper, make-everything-yourself mama? Awesome. Thanks for keeping some chemicals out of our environment - that's better for all of us.  Thank you.

Buy everything from the store mama? Awesome. You are putting some money into our economy and that time you saved by not having to make everything yourself can be used in some awesome ways. Thank you. (and I bet you had more time to read to your kids on the day I was making laundry detergent.)

Room moms? Oh I'm so thankful for you. You were blessed with organizational skills and you keep the classroom afloat. Our teachers get appreciated because of you but you share the glory with all of us.  You make all of us look good.

Barely get your kids to school on time mom? Yup, it's hard. Sometimes success needs to be defined by making it through the day.  Rock on - you've got this. You got them to school. They had shoes and socks on. Consider that a win!

Mamas who got their bodies back? Rock that bikini, mama! You probably worked hard to get those abs back. We're all secretly jealous. Or maybe you didn't have to work that hard... now we are really jealous. Your workout regimen probably helps keep you sane, too! You go with your healthy self!

Mamas who didn't? Oh sisters, I've learned so much about what it means to be beautiful. The physical scars my body bears because I've had children are part of my story. Including that adoption-weight I gained during my late-night-adoption-blog-reading-junk-food-eating days.  Nope, I will not be rocking a bikini at the pool this summer. Or ever. Maybe we could work harder and get our bodies back but we don't want to. No excuses needed if right now, just for you, your time is better spent somewhere other than the gym. It's all good.

Our lives don't need to look the same for us to be great moms. What works for my kids isn't necessarily going to work for yours. And what helps me keep my sanity might not be what works to help you keep yours. But if we stick together, we don't have to waste our precious time on Mommy Wars. We don't have time for it anyway, right?