12 Days: 4 Ways to Woo Your Woman

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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

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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!

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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: 9 Christmas Memories

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My 9 Most Blissful Christmas Memories
1. The year my brother chased a mole into a toothpaste box in the bathroom. And hated every minute of it.

2. The year there was a snowstorm and my Mom went sledding in my sister’s front yard in my brother in law’s coat.

3. The year Michael told my Mom that he loved me and would take care of me when he said goodbye to her Christmas Day. She called me in the car, “Do you know what he said to me, Bridgette?”

4. 2009. The Christmas I woke up to this face.
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5. The year my Dad got a video camera and taped every part of Christmas, or just left the camera on the tripod. Many hilarious videos of little, blonde, 6 year old me resulted.

6. The very distinct possibility that little Celia was a product of 2010 Christmas cheer. I know, I know, TMI.

7. The Christmas Michael made salad dressing for everyone in our family. On Christmas morning. In the kitchen.

8. Last year when Michael had this video ready for me on Christmas morning.

9. The year Santa brought me twin Cabbage Patch Kids. I mean, does it get any better than that?
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12 Days of Shortcut Girl: 12 Toddler Tricks

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So, in order to entertain myself and my readers, I have put together a series of 12 posts, ranging from serious to sarcastic, witty to ridiculous, poignant to preposterous.

Today I bring you: 12 Ways to Survive Your Toddlers at Christmas

Whenever I tell people I have a one year old and a three year old, the retort is, “Wow, then you’re REAL busy!” It’s kind of like telling people you’re an undercover ninja. “Yes, I might seem really, really normal and have it together here at the grocery store, but you should see the mounting laundry pile at home, it’s a doozie. Actually, being here at the grocery store is kind of a little vacation. I’m just driving my cart in circles until I am ready to pick them up from day care at a socially appropriate time” (not too early, not too late).

1. The Big Guy.

I know, I know, it’s cruel. Busting out the threat of no presents is a rookie toddler Mom mistake. But, take heed, there is a small period of time that this threat will actually inject pure fear into your child, so why not make the most of it?

Some good tips: Parker has decided that there are more than just naughty and nice lists, there is also a mad list, a happy list, a sad list, a mean list, etc. He has appropriately said that only the good people (the happy and the nice) will receive presents and the bad (naughty, sad, mad, mean) do not. This is a major coup. Any time he pouts and glares at me or shows anger towards me turning off another episode of Doc McStuffins, I can say, “do you want to be on Santa’s ‘mad at your Mommy’ list? Or Santa’s ‘you don’t ever eat vegetables list’? THOSE kids NEVER get presents.”

And it works like a charm.

2. The Little Guy

I wish someone had told me about all of the craziness that is Elf on a Shelf. Like, for instance, I wish I read this blog post. Because, even though I consider myself a rather creative person, being chained to moving and putting this elf in crafty and silly positions every day is just another thing on my list that I’d neglect. I am already successfully ignoring the pile of laundry in the laundry room—don’t give me ANOTHER chore to ignore!

But, he does work. Along with Santa threats, “Eddie is watching you” threats also work. And yes, it is creepy and commercial. And yes, it is a pain, and yes, the book is written really poorly. And yes, you will disagree with your spouse about the elf on the shelf “technique.” (Side bar: Mike thinks the elf should always be up high to show his “magic” and that Parker should never be able to touch him. Ugh, this makes it hard to be Super Mom and try all the Elf positions I have seen on Pinterest. Elf cotton ball bubble bath? Elf cereal party? Elf driving the Barbie car? In other words, your rule is making me fail at motherhood, just so you know.)

3. Your Guy

Husband/Dads can be depended on for rough play, loud play and sports play. If you have a warm day, get the kids O-U-T of the house with Dad. It’s your only chance to clean that dried yogurt under the table or fold every last pair of Woody underpants (Tee Hee).

4. Date Night

For the love of all that is good and holy, at least ONCE around Christmas time you should get out with your significant other to just, well, kind of, be able to talk about where you will next hide the elf on the shelf when you get home.

5. Pump up the Volume

This is something I have taken part in thrice already this Christmas season. Blaring till your ears bleed “All I Want for Christmas Is You” in the car with silent and slightly deafened children in the backseat. Just look in the rearview mirror, that’s Christmas spirit you see.

6. Run, run, run, run.

Many Moms have the same focus for their afternoons: Tire the heck out of every toddler in sight so you can have an early bedtime and watch more Breaking Bad.

Other Tip: My son has started soccer and we have found that his endurance is not that great (read: he lies on the floor during practice?). So, we have started doing some laps with him on the indoor track at the high school. A. Hilarious watching a three year old run the track. B. Makes you look like “one of those parents” who get their kids into psycho exercise at a too early age. Either way, fun to see what kind of looks you get.

7. Be cognizant of Toddler Time

“Next week,” “in two weeks” and “Christmas” all mean the same thing= NOW. Don’t mess with telling them what’s coming up in the weeks ahead. Let’s just take this day by day. My son actually started crying three days after Thanksgiving because he realized he never ate any turkey. They aren’t exactly firing on all cylinders when it comes to concepts of time.

8. Don’t use up all your carrots too soon.

Pace yourself. If you bake all your cookies, see all your Santas and do all you’re decorating before December 6th (I did), what the hell are you doing for the next 19 days?

9. Car Survival Kit

So that you can go anywhere you want when you throw those two tots in the car and take off, make sure you have a Winter Car Survival Kit (has nothing to do with being stranded with a broken car).

  • Goldfish
  • Wipes
  • Nutri-grain bars
  • Diapers
  • Plastic bags

You know why. You will get stuck “just picking up a few things” and feel like fast food might be your only method of making it through the night. No way, Jose. That’s only for emergencies. Give them some of these no-fail car snacks and you are good to go. And you’re good if they go— in their pants.

10. Toy Storage

It’s important to do a “where is _______gonna fit?” survey before the big day. Clear out old toys, toys missing parts, toys that are annoying or toys your kids fight over and make room for the ridiculous ones you know that big guy is bringing.

11. Embrace your addiction to creating a Baby Gap model.

Winter gives you the chance to layer the crap out of your toddler and give him all the accessories needed to be C-U-T-E. Zip sweaters, puffer vests, fancy hats and mittens. Just live it up, this time only comes once a year.

12. Chocolate Anything.

This is for you. Just eat it. The carbs and the sugar are cancelled out by the number of calories you burn shuttling around little people on your hip. Don’t think about it for a minute.

Mommy Guilt: Tis the Season

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This post is a huge shout out to my Mom who made every Christmas magic for me. It’s also a culmination to three different blog posts (and one TV show) I read this week that shared a common thread. It brought back some things I wrote in these two posts of my own as well. The underlying message is consistent: Take time for yourself, be kind to yourself and Gosh Darnit, don’t let your egg nog curdle while you are sick in bed with classic case of Guilt-itis, the Mommy strain.

Christmas time is when we relive all our greatest holiday memories, evoke intense emotional nostalgia and hyper-focus on our family. Christmas can bring on powerful feelings ranging anywhere from psychotic happiness to “I think I am going to eat my feelings in peanut blossoms and hibernate.” Full on raging holiday hormones. Wrapped, ever so perfectly, with tight tight tight ribbons of Mommy guilt.

My parents separated when I was eight, making most of the Christmases I remember being with a single Mom. And, every Christmas was full, not just of presents and cookies and a great dinner— but of that je ne sais quoi of holiday time— the gushy squishy lovey-ness of yule.

That being said, I cannot imagine the Mom guilt my Mom endured in her years raising me. I saw a lot of it firsthand– the presents born out of being at work late, the fast food dinners, the extra hugs and kisses. She must have been shrink wrapped in Mommy guilt. Right down to her nylon wearing, pink high heeled peep toes.

You see, the disease of Mommy guilt exists because of this: Moms thinking about what they should be doing as Moms versus what they are actually able to do. They measure themselves against “Fun Kid Kraft” pinboards they see on Pinterest rather than the content of their very own amazing talents and sparkling personality. Whether it’s more time, more money, more hugs, more kisses, more listening, more loving or just more talking to your kids. We all agree that we need to probably do more of it. And any stolen time we are not doing something Mommyish leaves us feeling somewhat selfish and also simultaneously panic stricken— what should I do? There’s too many options!

And no matter how much we acknowledge it to ourselves, our friends and even our spouses, there it is glaring at us while we sit eating Halloween candy alone in the bathroom. You? You call yourself a mother? It says. Pfft. Do you know the Festivus is at preschool tomorrow? Did you know you’re signed up for “snookies”? (That’s snowman cookies, it’s a thing).

And we sit, like children in the principal’s office and think, A good Mom would ______. A REALLY good Mom would _______. And we leave ourselves out of the sentence, because the things we do that are good are never glaring at us so authoritatively.

Here’s the conundrum: Parenthood, like childhood is fleeting. We are only actively parenting for a limited amount of time. There will be days when we will long for our children to call us, visit us and spend time with us. So, shouldn’t we squeeze in all the time with THEM before it’s too late?

(I don’t really have the answer to this question but I am going to pretend to for a minute).

Yes and no. You ideally want to give your kids the best you— the most financially, mentally and emotionally stable you as possible. Sometime that requires more sleep, more time at work, more candy by yourself or even more time with your girlfriends or other family members. There are things that make us into a more well-rounded person. And (gasp!) many of those things are separate from motherhood. While we take our work hats off at a certain time every day (and I know for some of you this is hard too), our Mom hat is always on. And man, it’s on tight. With a childproof cap. And a double knotted bow.

So when you hand over your Mom self, make sure you pay attention to what she needs too. Yes, you should get a babysitter so you can boogie down at the office Christmas party. Yes, you should get the doll house because you never had one. Yes, you should buy a couple extra things for yourself and act surprised by the magic of Santa when you find them in your stocking (this ritual of mine is a personal favorite ). And yes, you should get a holiday themed manicure. Sparkle it up, girl, you deserve it.

But…no, you should not feel guilty for “not having that much this year” (something my mother would say to me annually). You should not feel silly for not having perfected your Christmas crack recipe for the pre-school party. And please don’t stress about how much to spend on the teacher gift, or the mailman gift, or the hairdresser gift. And no, don’t regift those earrings. They’re heinous.

Because, really, all those bad thoughts just makes you a less confident, less content, less carefree Mom. And I know you are more than that. So, take this holiday to celebrate the Mom you are and the family, however big or small, you have to celebrate with. Sans snookies, sans kid krafts, sans guilt.

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Shortcut Girl’s Christmas List and Gift Tips [Husband Please Read]

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Everyone likes a good Christmas list to buy from, right? Here’s Shortcut Girl’s list. Maybe you’ll see some things you like or some things you might randomly want to send to me just to show you care. Wink, wink.

1. Slippers. No limit to how many pairs. Since some people wear them as shoes now, they are ever-so-fucntional.

2. Bare Minerals Make-up. I’m a bit late to the party on this one, but this stuff is just great. For those bags that reveal the screaming child who was up at 3am or to hide the ever-growing number of fine lines, this is your make-up. So far, I only use the concealer and foundation but I think I might ratchet it up a notch sometime soon.

3. Pedicure gift certificate. Did you really even need that one listed?

4. Boot Socks. Socks to wear with boots. Where have you been?!

5. Subscription to Working Mother magazine. My new favorite read.

6. I like having cute dish towels. Is that weird. Here’s a dream site for towels.

7. Cute pajamas (you can get mother-daughter matching ones!)

8. New cozy robe. Why do comfy things always go on Christmas lists?

9. New snow boots. My Uggs just don’t do it anymore.

10. New book. Great author and looks like an inspiring read.

Other Tips of Gift Giving:

Know What You Want: If you want to publish your holiday list for all to see, don’t hesitate to start an account on a site like this for all your loved ones. In the area of making us all more über focused on ourselves, you can now just make a list of tons of things you want and hope that your cousin Fred actually looks it up online. I’m not saying it’s not a good idea, I just think it’s funny for people to expect people to check an online list. Hmmm.I was going to get her socks but then I saw she wanted a Tiffany vase. Pfft. How can I give her JUST socks now? It’s fun to think about the family drama that can ensue. Every year I ask for a blender and SHE doesn’t even fill out her list! Why did SHE get the blender?”

But seriously though, if you family is the type that likes to know what people want for Christmas before shopping, sharing a google doc with everyone’s wishes is a great shortcut. Even better, taking pictures of things you or your kids see in the store and texting or emailing the pics to parents can help in the shopping for everyone. You and your children get gifts you like and your family has some direction in the shopping mall. Win, Win.

Let Technology Help: An accomplished wife of a technology teacher, I have may tricks. One is the new Secret Santa name generator I found to organize the family name exchange. This helped us to pick names well before the holiday and sends everyone an email to refer back to when they forget.

For Christmas cards and packages, keep your addresses in Excel and import it to google docs. Then save that link to your Iphone and Ipad if you have them so you can access your addresses easily on the go. Merging the document to create labels is always nice but also sharing the google doc with other family members helps out people who don’t have up to date addresses. Tip: Make sure to go through your list and delete addresses of those who have moved so you are reminded to ask them for their new address.

Be a Personal Shopper: There are sometimes I will see something for me, my husband, my kids or another family member that is just the PERFECT gift. I might have already purchased something or not have their name for Christmas that year. However, helping others in your family by shopping for them can always be a benefit. Especially for those who have to factor in traveling and shipping costs for the holidays, having someone else do it makes for an easy solution. We do this a lot with my Mom since we have had kids. I send her a picture of what I am buying on her behalf and she is excited that she doesn’t have to physically bring it for her visit. Everyone’s happy. And you have a reason to shop with someone else’s money!

Themes and Group Gifts: Don’t underestimate the fun of having a theme for all your gift receipients for a particular year. One year, my husband made everyone salad dressing in old Grolsch beer bottles. One year, we gave everyone framed pictures of Parker (we were new parents, what do you want?) and this year I plan to make photo albums for all the grandparents. It’s nice to look back and say, “hey that was the year we gave/got __________.” Out of ideas? Not feeling crafty? Scour Pinterest. 15 minutes on that site and you will think that you can now dress like a supermodel, decorate like a Pottery Barn consultant and cook like Paula Deen. It’s like holiday do-it yourself-on crack.

Whether you are personal shopping, hoping for a pink sparkle pair of slippers or trying to figure out just the right recipe for homemade fruit infused vodka, just make sure you remember to enjoy yourself. We shouldn’t be going to all this trouble because we have to but because it makes us feel good when we get to.

Merry Christmas!

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