12 Days: 4 Ways to Woo Your Woman

20121221-091045.jpg

Today marks the ninth anniversary of my husband’s first attempt to flirt with me– at a co-worker’s holiday party. It was both sweet and ridiculous, embarrassing and hilarious. It just depends on who you are in the story.

Today I bring you 4 Ways to Woo Your Woman:

1. At work, invite her into your office or classroom for snacks, preferably bagels. Also offer her an Uncle Ben’s breakfast in a bowl and tell her how good they are.

2. Make conversation. “What are your plans for the holiday? Are you going to _____’s party?” Find out where you might be able to catch her again– outside of work.

3. At the party that evening, make good conversation with her as you play darts. Be witty and interesting– make her want to stay at the party a little longer.

4. (This is the clincher) When you have some bad gas and are embarrassed by the smell you have created—blame it on her! Adopting 4th grade flirtation rituals is totally normal! Embarrass her and make sure she gets super uncomfortable– and leaves. Here’s where the trick lies. Confuse the hell out of her. Force her to tell herself, “Wow, I guess he doesn’t like me…” so that she might accept your invitation to happy hour weeks later, just to try to clear up her confusion.

By mid-January, you will have yourself a girlfriend.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, isn’t this a sweet story to tell our children someday?

12 Days: 5 Birthday Photos

20121218-091920.jpg

12 Days: Parker’s Birthday in 5 pictures

12 Days: Parker’s Birthday in 5 pictures

I cant believe my little man is three. just three years we walked into a hospital (well, I waddled in with soaked pants) as a couple and came out as a family. We didn’t even know whether we were having a boy or a girl yet and didn’t even have a name until a about thirty minutes before. Originally, I was due on January 5th and was nervous I might have a baby too close to Christmas. Apparently, these are the things you worry about when you are childless. Well, as I learned at a card reading around Halloween, there is meaning behind the date we come into the world. So, Parker was just meant to forever be my nine-days-before-Christmas-baby.

If you read my birthday post, you know I am a little crazier than your average person about birthdays and my child’s birthday is no different. Each year I celebrate my initiation into motherhood, our anniversary of becoming a family and Parker’s birthday all in one beautiful celebration on December 16th.

Here are five pictures of the little dude’s big day which started with #3 pancakes and ended with a ride on the Polar Express. I mean, is there anything better?

The accoutrements I used on the cupcakes is featured at the bottom of the post as well!

20121218-091900.jpg

20121218-091844.jpg

20121218-091829.jpg

20121218-091811.jpg

12 Days: Finding the Light

IMG_1496“Birds don’t sing because they have the answer, they sing because they have a song.”

-Maya Angelou

Words. While words can heal us, help us and hold us in times of crises, words also can hurt us, harm us and hinder us from moving forward. A lot of words are being thrown around after Friday’s tragedies. A lot. And not all of them as sensitive as we would like.

On Friday, I decided to take a short respite from social media. What I was seeing on Twitter and Facebook was in some ways comforting (reminders to hug my kids) but mostly it just made the knot in my stomach (criticism of gun control, mental health, etc.) There are children who won’t have a Christmas. Moms and Dads that will not have their entire family with them Christmas morning. Words won’t change that, no matter what your politics are.

But words are what make up prayers, letters, songs, thoughts, memories and conversations with our children. Words are what teach, guide, help and plan our future. Words are what we use to connect with each other.

And, although I don’t know much, I am pretty sure that the person who did this did not feel that words would guide him or help him. Words did not bring him solace. Words did not help him to connect to others.

So, I have seen that people are using the time to make connections to others in an effort to honor the lives of the people we lost. Instead of getting on a political soapbox or criticizing safety in schools, think about the little people who are still forming in those classrooms in Connecticut or New York or Texas or Arkansas. There are tons of other little people who need to see that we are able to honor what is good in people. We can do this while using it as an outlet for our grief and sadness. And with that, keep the good— the good words, the good spirit, the good ways of a person as a prominent force in our lives.

Some Examples:

  • Two local teenagers were killed in a car accident recently. Many schools around the area made an effort to “go green” (wear green in honor of the school the two kids attended) in the weeks following the tragedy. Students in our school made key chains showing the athletic numbers of the two students who were killed. There was an outpour of support and gentility from the teenagers I teach every day. It was beautiful.
  • When a girl in college was killed in a car accident my freshman year, her father spoke at the memorial service of challenging us all to have a “Lindsay Day” in her honor. He said that when we have a day where we spend time with friends, do something fun or special with family or just have a peaceful day to ourselves, we should name it a “Lindsay Day,” a day to honor the sweet daughter he lost. He gave us his address and asked us to mail him a postcard describing our day to him. Probably heartwarming and positive reminders of the continuance of his daughter’s spirit.
  • Recently, an old friend from college lost her mother to cancer. On her mother’s birthday, she asked everyone to post to Facebook about what they were doing that was celebratory. She called it “Ursula Fun Challenge Day” in honor of her mother. People posted pictures from all over the country telling about fun things they were doing with friends and family in honor of her mother. I know it helped Heather get through a particularly difficult day and it also was heartwarming for everyone to see all of the happy things we are all doing all the time that any Mom would be happy and proud to be a part of.
  • One day I somehow stumbled upon a blog, The Livie Project written by a Mom who had lost her daughter very early in infancy. She made the blog about all of the things that her daughter would experience but experience in spirit. She had people post pictures doing things where her daughter Livie’s name was spelled out somewhere in the picture. The idea is that through the photos, Livie lives on and gets to experience things she would otherwise never be able to.

So, today, I am going to send out some positive words to people that have affected me or continue to affect me and have made my life better. I am hoping that they, and others, will comment on this post to share positive thoughts, feelings, memories and prayers to help to do what I think words can do: heal, help and hold us.

Because without being the light in the world, we only have the dark. So, we have to look to each other to make the light, be the light and keep the light going, even during a time of great, great, great sorrow.

Like Maya Angelou says, we don’t have an answer about what has happened. But we have words, and those words make up songs and in those songs are the stories of who we are and how we got here. I’d like to say I got here all by my own hard work and dedication to myself, but that would be a lie. I have countless people who have loved and supported me. And this is to them.

12 Blurbs about 12 People Who Make My Life Bright

  1. Michael for challenging me, always, to be a better person and in his words, “make good decisions.”
  2. Kristy for sending me emails that outline the five things that make her smile every day. And for writing to me on certain days and saying, “You ok? I haven’t heard from you in a while.” There are some friends that are lifelong and she is one of those (23 years and counting!). And also to Kerri for being my first best friend who introduced me to Kristy:)
  3. My father who taught me what fresh coffee, a good attitude and a kind word could do for a person’s day.
  4. Katie for not making me feel like my obsessions with reality TV and bologna are gross.
  5. Parker for teaching me that life is big and fun and full of possibility. And for making me take myself less seriously.
  6. Celia for making me see how parenting a daughter is so different from parenting a son—already.
  7. Julie for being the best stand in Mom for my kids. There isn’t anyone sweeter to them. And for being a faithful editor and feedback artist to me in my writing.
  8. My mother, who may never read this blog or be able to use a computer without help, but who told me one important thing as a teenager: “Your reputation is your integrity, Bridgette.” And how right she is.
  9. My students for the way they appreciate me and laugh at my corny jokes.
  10. Mr. Wagar, my fifth grade teacher who recognized my talent in English Language Arts.
  11. My sister-in-law Liz, who, after enduring a brain cancer scare just six months ago can still be one of the most supportive and selfless people I have ever met.
  12. My friends, family and even some strangers who read this blog and make me feel like starting Shortcut Girl wasn’t just a crazy idea that a crazy person came up with.

Post below any “songs” you have for those very special people in your life. Share some words with someone you love today. Because sometimes the words you use to describe a person can really make a difference in how they see themselves.

Because, sometimes, we just need to help each other find the light.

12 Days: 6 Cheapskates Dating

20121213-111409.jpg

It’s the holidays. We are all strapped for cash. Here’s some great (although slightly ghetto) ideas of how to feel like you are having a date night while saving that whopping babysitter fee. On the sixth day of Christmas I bring you:

6 Cheap Date Night Ideas:

1. Movie Night. We don’t have a TV in our room so we set up DVDs on our laptop and Parker snuggles in on our bed and watches his own movies on these special nights. While he does that, we can watch our own show/movie (current obsession is Breaking Bad). We are fortunate in that he doesn’t move a muscle while these movies are on and is not seen again until the credits are rolling and he comes peeking out of the bedroom, “I had a good movie.” “You did? Well, now it’s bedtime!” Your own movie night gets only slightly interrupted by stories and sippy cups, but can resume as soon as the kiddos are snuggled in bed. And, you get to go to bed at a respectable hour as well.

2. Happy Hour Meetup. Since Mike and I first met and hit it off at a teacher happy hour (that’s a story for another day I think!), I love getting out for a drink with him after work. We do this sometime mid-week and pick the kids up from day care a little later. It’s not costly and is a great check in and rejuvenates you for the night ahead. (Read: You usually end up quoting the kids and laughing about things they do so you just end up getting excited to pick them up!)

3. Babysitter Exchange. Have a friend with kids? Pick nights for a babysitter switch off. Maybe even a sleepover if the kids are old enough. It’s a great way for free babysitting and for kids to play with their friends at length. Plan months ahead for that party or wedding. Splurge on your night out instead of on the babysitter.

4. Naptime. If you are not taking your own nap, use naptime for having a nice meal together and enjoying your favorite television show or movie. It’s a time we usually leave to chores and other busy work, but you can capitalize on it as good together time.

5. Gym Date. Okay, this one is laughable. But, since having kids, an hour on the elliptical by myself sounds kind of luxurious. Also the pool and the Jacuzzi at the gym? Yes, please. The care at our YMCA is much cheaper than any home babysitter. Live it up, baby! It’s a health spa!

6. Date with Yourself. Over Thanksgiving we went to Boston. My husband and sister-in-law took the kids to the aquarium and I was left with time to myself. Time. To. Myself. I kind of freaked out trying to figure out what to do first. But here’s what I did. Got a latte. Got my book. Read my book in the lobby of the hotel. It was glorious. I was rejuvenated for the evening and for the whole rest of the weekend. Just a little me time can go a long way.

Any way you slice it, the holidays can be uber-stressful and the stress of finding the cash for a babysitter even more. Try any one of these tricks to give you a little peace of mind and of pocketbook.

12 Days: 7 Bloggers Blogging

20121211-160134.jpg

7 Blogs/Bloggers I Love

Today, I show you some of my guilty blogging pleasures and, of course, where I get some of my inspiration when I blog. Sometimes it’s when I read something that one of these cool chicks wrote and I am moved to write, write, write. And sometimes I just need a laugh and they are also good at giving me that.

Mama Bird Diaries

I learned about this blog from a friend of a friend and have never been sorry I read it. She’s witty, clever and a true Mama Bird— she’s pregnant!

Momma Be Thy Name

Check her out for the 12 Days of Christmas! Every day is a different post from a different guest blogger! (Yours truly included!) Enter by commenting on the posts each day to win an Elf Pack (aka awesome free stuff)

Mannly Mama

Hilarious and says things I wish I had said. Also, she has a series called Toddler Dinners. I want her to make my toddler dinner every night.

I Am Not the Babysitter

This is a Mom blog that has social relevance. I first discovered her on Twitter and have been reading ever since. You might know her from the cover of Time Magazine.

And Then We Saved

This girl baffles me. I admire her very honest and realistic approach to spending. I find that I have very much in common with her and enjoy her helpful tips. We can all benefit from spending less and saving more.

Mamatoga

This is a local blog that gives me all the information I need for upcoming events, kid-friendly activities and local Mom interaction. I am psyched to have an article in her Mamatoga Holiday issue. It comes out this Friday!

Whiskey in my Sippy Cup

Another ordinary chick who writes good stuff. “Mr. Lady” is just a cool Mom with self-deprecating charm. I love her.

 

What’s your favorite blog to read? Link it up below. I am always looking for something new!

12 Days: 10 Christmas card confessions

20121208-134336.jpg

10 Signs You Have an Unhealthy Relationship with Your Christmas Card:

1. You don’t post the photo to Facebook for fear you will “ruin the surprise” of receiving your card.

2. You await co-worker comment on the card you mailed to their house. Creeper.

3. You have more than one Christmas card photo shoot. In fact, you have three to get just-the-right-shot.

4. You spend an hour choosing a layout on Shutterfly, Snapfish, Minted or Tiny Prints. Okay, maybe 90 minutes.

5. After your order is placed, anytime you take a picture you say to yourself, “THAT would have been a good Christmas card picture.” Classic Christmas card remorse.

6. You send your card to more than 75 people. Like a lot more. And you order extra.

7. You have designed your own address labels with little faces of everyone in the family.

8. You do yet another photo shoot and take a picture of your card so you can email it to people you may have forgotten and/or just met.

9. You carry a copy in your purse.

10. You are already pinning ideas on Pinterest for next year:)

12 Days: 11 Pipers Piping (Well, not really)

20121207-122829.jpg

11 Great Gifts on the Fly

Shortcut Girl is not just about shortcuts, she’s about making your life feel like you barely do anything and still achieve pure awesome. Here’s 11 gifts on the fly for you whether they be the “OH crap!” gift when someone else gives you one and you are caught empty-handed or for a hostess of that fabulous party you are going to.

1. Mason Jars. Get one, two, three or four and fill with treats. Candied kisses, candied nuts, candy canes, holiday M and Ms, anything that looks colorful in a jar. (For nuts: bake nuts at 350 degrees on baking sheet with spray olive oil and sprinkled sugar for about 15 minutes)

2. Pump up the jam. I have never made jam but after looking at the directions online—ding, ding! You can TOTALLY do it. And you already have the Mason Jars so it’s really a cinch.

3. Single cookie boxes. In the dollar section of Target, they sell great cookie boxes. If you need a teacher or secretary gift (just a little somethin’), you can bake your own treats or find some delectable at the bakery section of your grocery store. After all: who says no to a cookie?

4. Flavored Gloss. There are flavored lip glosses at Forever 21 (not that I shop there;) for $1.80. Get an assortment and put them in mini gift bags (Dollar Store section of Target). Great little sweet gifts!

5.Cup of Trader Joe’s. Since coffee is ever so popular, putting some of the individual one cup mixes of coffee in a nice little mug for your favorite coffee lover is a cute little gift.

6. Trees. I have a co-worker who shares a love for just the right combination of peanut butter and chocolate. The Reese’s Peanut butter trees are out folks. Tis the season. Binge on them while you can.

7. Reindeer cookies. There are very few Martha Stewart moments of my life. But last year’s reindeer cookies were one of them. Big hit at the party we went to. I do have to say they can be expensive, so be careful when you get into the grocery store and start buying reindeer garb.

8. Wine socks. Buy your favorite soft pair of socks and put them around your favorite flavor of vino. Great for a hostess gift or a good way to hide the booze you are bringing to your child’s preschool teacher. Just kiddingJ

9. Christmas mixes. Mix tapes are a thing of the past, but mix CDs still have a place in our heart, right? Make one for a friend going on a road trip for Christmas or your grandmother who has not yet discovered digital music. I highly recommend Mariah Carey on this mix. Maybe even both versions of All I Want for Christmas is You.

10. White Trash Okay, I’m a little embarrassed that my Mom made this stuff and called it White Trash. But it is pretty awesome. Chex mix, pretzels and nuts all covered with white chocolate. The best is my friends asking each Christmas, “is your Mom going to make her white trash this year?” Yes, yes she will.

11. The IOU. What we don’t give enough at Christmas is our time to people. Whether it’s a visit, a lunch, a movie or making dinner together, it’s not about the gift, it is the time too. Putting a date on the calendar for your next get together with your favorite person is just what the doctor ordered.