our analog christmas

I remember being so amazed when my then 15-month-old son slid his dad’s iPhone on, went through his games, found a field goal game and scored a few before we even knew what hit us. A year and a half later, I have to pry electronics away from his tiny little kung-fu grip.

This Christmas we’ve decided to go old-school: nothing digital, no screens, no batteries. We’re looking at active toys that spur imagination, inspire creative play and encourage problem solving so our son can have opportunities to create his play world.

And so begins my obsession with Melissa & Doug.

I love the learning mats (they work wonders when you go out to eat or have a restless toddler waiting for dinner).

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally a play kitchen that isn’t mandatory Pepto-pink!  FYI– Boys dig kitchens, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My son loves these travel games. He gets his memory-game fix without being on the iPad (iPhone, iPod, etc. etc.)

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who knew these would still be cool 20 years later? Apparently, our parents were on to something.

My toddler and baby are entertained for hours by building blocks.The best part? I’m not worried about BPA or cell phone radiation.

“happiness just happened . . . and you missed it.”

I read that in a book recently and it smacked me like a sheet of cold water across my face. I was struck by the reality that with my multitasking bad habits, my obsession with documenting everything with photos and videos, my propensity to get caught up with work and to-do lists and whatever’s three steps ahead  . . .”living in the moment” has completely escaped me.

Here’s what I’d add to that line in the book: Happiness just happened . . . and you missed it. And guess what? It’s your fault.

After all, it’s my time, it’s my life and it’s my grubby little fingers that type it all in to my calendar, that write it all down on scraps of papers with check boxes and run-on lists . . . the same fingers that scroll through my phone at every free second like I’ve lost the winning Lotto numbers and they’re somewhere in my phone.


At the end of the day, I’m usually the one that creates the totally over-planned, over-committed chaos that has become my day-to-day existence. The choices I make to be behind the camera versus in the action, to juggle a conference call in the few precious moments I’m totally alone with my baby, to check email during my toddler’s swim lesson– they’re all robing minutes away from each experience. And I’m letting them. But not any more.

While I haven’t completely finished it (guess who’s “too busy”?), this book (The Happiest Mom) has me thinking of all the ways I need to change my approach to life. Starting with . . .

  • When I feed my baby, that’s all I’m doing. You don’t want to know how many times I did that juggling my crackberry, texting, tweeting, wondering if that last tweet made me loose followers (telling myself how lame that sounds, even if it’s in my own head), worrying if I finished that email. Wait. Let me look at my phone and check. ENOUGH. Just feed the baby. Me and him. That’s it.
  • Giving my toddler Momma time. Uninterrupted. TV off, phone away, real time. At the park, on our couch, anywhere. I’m talking eye contact, real conversations (you know, of the 2-year-old kind), just me and him. It’s sad to think about how many conversations we have with our kids that all revolve around “Sure” and “Uh huh” and if they’re lucky, an occasional “Ohhh…really??” all the while texting, reading, web surfing, watching reality TV, wondering if it’s too early for a cocktail, etc., etc.
  • Getting in the action instead of always having my face behind a camera or video recorder. I might have kick-ass pictures, but I’m not in any of them. And I’m not fully experiencing what’s happening when I’m too busy staging shots like I’m running a red carpet.
  • Giving my husband my phone when we sit down to eat, so he can hold it hostage. I don’t want to be that couple . . . huddled around their phones reading Twitter, checking into Foursquare, playing video games. Let’s take it back circa 1970s where we actually had to talk to each other. Or, stare at each other. Anything but ignoring each other for our phones. This would also be a good time to have heart-to-heart with my 2 year old, so he’ll stop crashing his crayons together like the restaurant is his personal rally race.
  • Banning talking about my clients or my work when I’m not actually working.
  • Forgetting about everything else when I walk into the gym, besides how awesome it feels to be out of my house and at the gym.
  • Not worrying about things that will have no bearing on my life five years from now. If no one will get hurt and/or I won’t care about it five years from now . . . it’s not worth distracting from the hundreds of things I could be doing with that time instead (see above).

I could go on for days.

If you took a good, honest, look at the things that prevent you from really soaking in the moments as they happen– what would you change?

operation birthday cake

It’s that time of year again. The one where my inner event planner meets my son’s birthday . . . meets my obsession with birthday cakes.  So far, each birthday has been inspired by the cake. I always start there– it ‘s a great visual and it ties the theme together.

 

His first birthday was a tiny smash cake (made with no dairy, since he was allergic at the time). Options were limited sans dairy…but we had this adorable little elephant made.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then momma had to up the ante.  Birthday number two was so much fun to plan since he was able to communicate what he wanted by then. He was all about Yo Gabba Gabba . . . and momma was all about a big, bold over-the-top cake four-layer cake!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, we’re leaning toward Toy Story (his latest obsession). But in my search for cakes I’m seeing a never-ending supply of ideas….from Legos to cars, to Sesame Street. I’m learning toward this bad boy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some other boy birthday cakes I thought were adorable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re also obsessed with kids’ birthdays, follow me on Pinterest.

I’ve done the legwork on some inspiration boards for themes, invites, cakes . . . and odds are I won’t be stopping any time soon because my other little man turns 6 mos in a few days. Let the 1st birthday party planning games begin!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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