A Little Bit of Vinyl

This summer my in-laws decided to clean out a few sheds on their property that held pretty much everything under the sun. My father-in-law is a bit of a collector…and he does not like to throw things away. Add in the four children and all of their stuff that had amassed over the years, and there was quite a bit of treasure hunting going on.

When the dust settled, I was the proud owner of one mid-century modern-ish looking bedroom set, one pair of cowboy boots, a beautiful shelving unit, a giant canvas painting of a rooster (I have no idea how I ended up with that one) and one record player. And oh, how I love that beautiful, old record player. I started begging for one a few months back, and poor Trent loudly voiced his concern about me completely transforming in to a hipster with no chance for return. For proof of his endless suffering, here is a photo I took earlier this summer when I forced him to go in to a record store with me.

Trent is pretending to be a hipster.

It just looks uncomfortable, doesn’t it?

Anyway, apparently nagging works, because when three (or possibly four) record players were found in the sheds, I ended up discovering one had been placed in the trunk of my car without my knowledge. Trent arranged the whole thing and then set it up for me on our stereo at home. The only issue we’ve had is the audio output is a little wonky (probably due to it’s years in hibernation in an old shed in the country), so we can’t get the volume up as loud as I’d like. But I love it just as it is, wonky audio and all.

A few weeks ago I put the word out on the Crazybananas Facebook page that I was looking for a few fun record stores in Kansas City. I got a bunch of awesome recommendations, but guess where I ended up finding my first five records? Some amazing vintage store downtown? Um, no. I found my used vinyl beauties at a Half Priced Books next to my local Target. Hey, I’ll take what I can get.

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I picked up a few used albums from classic artists like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Simon and Garfunkel and Ella Fitzgerald. I also bought one new record by Joni Mitchell, just to splurge. The used albums cost anywhere from $2 to $7. Cheap, and beautiful.

I love the stories behind these records. Their old owners treated them well, and I find myself wondering about where they came from. Who was this Ralph person, and did he realize how unfortunate his last name was?

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I plan on obtaining quite a few records as I go, and hopefully someday I’ll have a collection that I can pass down to my kids. My wish is this will be yet another memory they can hold on to from their childhoods. Every morning I try and turn on a record while I drink coffee and they have breakfast. Tate dances and Lucy sings, and I sit there in my happy spot on the couch, thinking, “Not exactly a hipster’s life, but I think this one is pretty damn fantastic.”

The Last Minute Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Did you all remember that Mother’s Day is this weekend? As in, the day to celebrate mothers and bring them breakfast in bed? Also known as the day I’d better get to sleep in so help me GOD! Yeah, that one. It’s Sunday! Ahhh! Just in case you’re a bit last minute like I am, I put together this handy gift guide for those nerdy moms in your life. OK, let’s be real, this is just a bunch of stuff I want that can be overnight shipped or purchased at your local Target. So, Mother’s Day…hey, I’m a mom! Yay! Let’s celebrate!

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1. Fujifilm Instax Mini Camera – This is a no-brainer, right? Right. Find it at Amazon for $62.50 (overnight shipping available).
2. Soda Stream Jet Fountain – Hi, I’m obsessed with fizzy water. This is cheaper than the gazillions of dollars I spend on La Croix. For reals. Find it at Target for $79.99.
3. Madewell Canvas Zip Tote – To make schelpping around town with the kids a little chicer. Find it at Madewell for $128.00.
4. Doctor Who Season 7: Parts 1 & 2 – Dear God I still haven’t seen this and if you spoil the ending I will kill you! Find it at Amazon for $40.00 (both editions, overnight shipping available).

Remember if you’re looking for last minute gifts for your own mom or grandmother, you can donate to Happy Bottoms in their name and they will be added to the Mom Honor Roll! Shhhh…no one tell the moms in my life, because that’s what they are getting. Click here to learn more!

Giveaway!!! : Kansas City Home & Garden Show

Home Show & Flower Lawn Garden Logo REVISED

Hey, Crazybananas readers, I have a great giveaway for you this rainy Saturday! Today I’m giving away two tickets to the Kansas City Home Show and Flower, Lawn & Garden Show on March 22nd thru March 24th! Founded by the Home Builders Association of Kansas City, the Home Show has been a tradition for sixty five years. Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City will be teeming with hundreds of exhibitors to showcase new opportunities and choices for homeowners to get a jump on spring home and garden projects.

The headliner on the Spaces Stage will be Lonni Paul, HGTV Design Star Finalist and designer to celebrities. She is a contributor to the Style Network’s Giuliana & Bill show (!) and designed their Brentwood home. Lonni is known for championing purity, clean lines and a refined modern vision with understated elegance. She also created an infant and children’s furniture collection called PetitNest, that she co-created with actress Tiffani Amber Thiessen (yes, from Saved by the Bell and the original 90210).

Along with tons of amazing presenters and vendors, there will be lots to do for the whole family! The Kids’ Corner will be hosted by KC Bricklab, which is the LEGO® user’s group for the Kansas City region. They will have custom LEGO® creations (called MOC’s in LEGO®, which stands for My Own Creations) on display including a replica of the Seville Tower on the Country Club Plaza. Children of all ages who attend the Home Show are invited to come to the Kids’ Corner booth and design their own LEGO® creations with the help of KC Bricklab “Buddy Builders!” You can also enter to win a large LEGO® building set.

To enter to win two tickets (which will work for all three days) to this awesome show, please leave a comment under this post saying what you’d love to renovate within your living space if you had all the money and resources in the world. I’ll start…I’d renovate our backyard, which is currently such a WASTE of a huge space. I’d add a playset and a huge garden, along with a BBQ pit and outdoor chimney. I’d also renovate our weird back porch area in to an outdoor play area for the kids/greenhouse. So, you know…nothing too big. I’m sure it’s totally do-able!

The giveaway will be closed at midnight on Thursday, March 14th, and the winner will be announced on Friday, March 15th. Good luck, and I hope you win!!!!

The prize for this giveaway is provided by the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City and the presenting sponsor MattressFIRM. All opinions are my own. For information and tickets, go to www.kchomeshow.com, or pick up tickets at Hen House, Sun Fresh or Bank of Blue Valley. Children 16 and under are free. On Sunday make a donation to Harvesters of 5 non-perishable items or $5 for a 2-for-1 admission. Show hours are Friday, March 22, 10 AM to 8 PM, Saturday, March 23, 10 AM to 8 PM and Sunday, March 24 from 10 AM to 6 PM.

Working Mom Must-Haves

When Lulu was a baby and I went back to work, I (like everything else I did when Lu was a baby) had no clue what I was doing. I didn’t know where to look for resources or advice on how to balance having a career and motherhood, so I made up the rules as I went along. I suppose it worked out, but it definitely wasn’t easy.

The second time around I was lucky enough to be surrounded by an amazing group of working mothers who support each other and have made this whole surreal experience of motherhood a little less lonely. I’ve gained so many tips and tricks that have helped me in the transition back to work, and I wanted to share them here! Beware, I will mention the word breast. And maybe even boob. God help us all.

Work Wardrobe: I know, I know, you just had a baby, right? So money isn’t really flowing in (especially with all the doctor bills, new infant gear, diamond encrusted baby spoons, et cetera), but trust me, a few new wardrobe pieces are super important. First of all, your body is now different. Regardless of whether you’ve lost the baby weight, things just won’t fit the way they did before. Sorry, that’s life. Secondly, if you’re like me and you’re still nursing, you’re going to need some easy boob (ack, there it is!!!) access in order to pump during the day. And finally, it will make you feel better. You’re going to be sad to leave your little one at home, and getting all dressed up in some new digs will make you feel confident and happy. Yes, I know that’s vain. But it’s true.

I recommend just getting a few separates to spruce up what you already have. My new work purchases included a few cardigans, two new pairs of shoes (purely for fun), two new dresses (one that is button up and one that is a wrap…again for easy pumping access), and a couple of cute tanks/shirts. I didn’t spend much (mostly shopped at Target, sale rack at Nordstrom and Kohl’s) and felt way better about my return to the office. I’m lucky that my work is mostly business-casual attire, so I can pull off jeans on Fridays and don’t have to spend much to enhance what I already have on hand. Below are a few pieces that have inspired me so you can get an idea of what I’m talking about. Included with some work attire are a few fun pieces for weekend/summer wear as well.

Outfit Inspiration

Inspiration (clockwise) from Anthropologie, Target, H+M, Forever 21, Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters and J. Crew

[And look, I even was spotted on the street as super-stylish! Yes, my good friend runs that site, but whatever, I'll take it! This outfit pictured is one of my new work purchases...note the separate pieces, great for pumping/nursing during the day.]

Online Shopping: And no, I’m not talking about clothes. You’re going to have to get those in-store to figure out what fits your post-baby body. But everything else? Hells yes!!! My schedule is totally full during the day, and now that Lucy is older our weekends tend to book up quickly as well. So when in the world am I supposed to go grocery shopping?

Here are a few sites I love and use weekly (if not more). They have totally saved my sanity.

- Hy-Vee: Online grocery shopping in the Kansas City area. You just order and pay online, then you can either pick up your order at the store or have it delivered right to your house. Yes, a small fee is included. My time is worth the extra $10.
-Diapers.com: This is where I get most of our baby gear, including diapers, wipes, toys, clothes, baby food, nursing supplies…the list goes on and on. I am also a big user of Soap.com, which provides pretty much anything you could find at a drug or beauty supply store. Shipping is free over $40 and orders usually arrive the day after they are placed. It is pretty much the best thing ever.
-Hallmark.com and Amazon.com: With three siblings for both Trent and I, plus three sets of grandparents, two sets of great grandparents and six nieces/nephews, I am constantly running into stores to buy cards or little gifts for all of the occasions that require a little something-something. Now I can order a great card, personalize it with pictures or words, give an address and Hallmark will mail it for me. Awesome-sauce. Amazon is wonderful for gifts, and if you’re an Amazon Prime member, 2-day shipping is free. You know, if you forget until the last minute or something. Which I never do. Ever. Ahem.

- Good Nursing Bra: I know, I just said bra. Ew. But you’ll need one. A good one. Trust me, I didn’t spend the money on this the first time around, and really, really regretted it. My recommendation? Go to Nordstrom, get fitted by a lingerie specialist as your body and boobs (ahhh word bomb!) have changed and your size won’t be the same as it was before, and then if they don’t have your size in stock (hahahaha 34 DDD!) they can order it online and it’ll ship for free. Dunzo.

A Good Breastpump: Get a Medela…I have the Pump N’ Style in a backpack and it is awesome. It isn’t heavy, it’s easy to carry and it’s discrete. Which you need when you work in a office full of men. And be prepared to be asked if that is your lunch in the cooler or to have awkward encounters while cleaning the parts in your office kitchen. Guys can be dumb. But they mean well.

A couple of other accessories I’ve found useful are the quick clean wipes (so to avoid that whole kitchen cleaning fiasco), sanitizing steam bags (just pop in the microwave with some water and your pump parts are sanitized), and of those ridiculous looking bustier things that makes it easy to pump both sides at once (beware, boobs abound in this link!), which will save tons of time.

Smoothie Maker/Protein Powder: When Trent bought a fake magic bullet smoothie maker online I laughed and laughed and told him he was an idiot. I am the nicest wife ever. But this thing has been a life-saver for our crazy mornings that almost always end with me being late for work regardless of what I do. Since I’m still nursing, I have to eat like crazy to keep milk supply (ugh, sorry!) up, and adding protein to my smoothies has really helped. A banana, some plain Greek yogurt, a handful of frozen strawberries and blueberries, add in some orange juice and a splash of pomegranate juice and you’re good to go!

Smartphone: If you don’t have a Droid/iPhone/Blackberry, it’s time to invest. I keep everything from grocery lists, to nursing charts, to videos of the kids, to calendars on mine. I tend to spend a ton of time on the go, to client meetings, soccer games, daycare runs and wherever else I need to be, so having everything on hand and easy to manipulate is a must. And when I find myself having to nurse or change diapers in my car due to lack of time, the games and videos keep Lucy busy. Win, win.

Daycare Planning: Nothing is going to make leaving your baby with a childcare provider easy. Sorry, it’s just a sucky part of being a working mom. But trusting your daycare provider and being comfortable with your set up is so, so important. With Lucy, I just made a snap decision and spent months being freaked out and worried about her. With Tate, we decided early on that we needed a daycare that was reliable and almost always open, instead of a in-home daycare. We loved in-home care because of the specialized attention and low cost, but it wasn’t worth the headaches when the provider was sick or wanted vacation time or whatever, and we found ourselves scrambling to find last minute care. So we now do a full center during the school year, and then summers with a nanny. Not that much more expensive and gives me peace of mind. Best decision ever.

Some websites that might be helpful in your daycare search:

- Daycare Connection: This is how we found Lucy’s daycare when she was a baby. It is for the Kansas side of the KC Metro area, and is free (though they ask for donations after a few free searches). All the daycares are state accredited/certified and they provide contacts for all types of care, including in-home, daycare centers and nannies.
- Daycare Resource: Similar to Daycare Connection, but for Missouri. We didn’t have as much luck with this service, but we know others who have, so I wanted to list it for you Missourians.
- Care.com: This is a nationwide service that, again, I haven’t used, but I’ve heard great things about. If you’ve used it, leave a note in the comments letting me know how your experience was.

A final tip: When it comes to childcare, try to start looking early, and if your first choice doesn’t work out, don’t freak too much if you want to switch. Lucy was in four different daycares during her first year (plus a few months) and she turned out just fine.

A Great Boss: I can’t find you this, but hopefully you’ll end up with someone who understands that a happy home life leads to a happy (and productive) work life. The more satisfied that you are managing this unfathomable balance, the more you’ll want to work your ass off to keep your job. I’m so lucky in this regard, and it makes being a working mom as easy as it can be.

Anyone else have any tips to share with the working moms of the world? I’m always looking for help/feedback, and trust me, we have to stick together!

Disclosure: This post from my archives is being re-run as part of BlogHer’s Smart Mom’s Guide to Being Busy editorial series, brought to you by Rice Krispies and BlogHer.

Happy Weekend!

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It’s Friday, y’all! Hooray! I’m headed to the family farm for a weekend of napping, playing with the kids, exploring, and enjoying my mother-in-law’s cooking. I’m one lucky lady. This week was mostly spent recovering from Alt Summit, and I think this will be the perfect way to bookend that experience. There is nothing more opposite on the planet than a weekend at the farm in Kansas. And it’s just what I need.

Here are some links to get you through your weekend. I hope you have a great one!

These high school photos of celebrities make me laugh.

Just in case you need a little pep talk

I’ve talked quite a bit about Karen Walrond this week, but did you know she has her very own TEDx talk? You should go watch it. It’s pretty fantastic.

Some simple tips for taking self portraits. And if you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I love self portraits!

I’m so excited for this new Babble series from Alison Faulkner and Susan Petersen! A look behind the scenes of super successful bloggers, plus tips on how to get there!

I’m horrible at menu planning, so I’m loving these tips on Design Mom. I need to put these into action, like, yesterday!

These aerial photos of tulip fields in the Netherlands will make you gasp. Such color and beauty. Oh, my heart.

Here are a few other pieces I worked on around the Internet recently:

The Truth About Organic Toys on Design for MiniKind

How A Start Up Kids Show is Leading the Slow Parenting Movement on Design for MiniKind

Networking Tips for the Introverted on Sweet Lemon Magazine’s Zesty Digest

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Have you all heard of Rivet and Sway? They are an eyeglasses designer out of Seattle that wants to change how people see their glasses. Their styles are fantastic, and I’m getting ready to start a super fun project with them! Here’s how it works, you go online to their store and type in a few details about yourself, like your face shape and style, and they have a personal stylist that will contact you with three frames that would work best for you. Then they send you the frames to try for free! Once you decide, you send the frames back and order your fave. Awesome, right? If you’re interested, Rivet and Sway is having a Valentine’s Day sale starting today, with $50 off all frames! Head over to Rivet and Sway to check out their options!

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