No More Accidental Sharpie Tattoos (thanks to Label Daddy)

I know it's still technically July, but somehow doesn't it already feel like school is going to start any day now? Not trying to rush summer - I'm truly going to miss the lazy mornings where there's no hustle and bustle to get out the door - BUT I'm a planner so my school prep is starting to gear up.

On my list of priorities is to get and STAY organized this school year. I made the cutest, most nutritious school lunches for the first couple weeks of school (well, the first couple weeks at their new school...before then I was pregnant and on bed-rest so I didn't do much). It kind of waned as the year progressed and our schedules got busier. I hope to avoid sliding into the routine of dumping money into their school lunch account for them to "just buy lunch today". Especially since I had to lecture Ethan several times on the number of "extras" (ie. ice cream) he would purchase in a single week.

Another way to get things organized is to ditch the permanent marker when it comes to labeling my kids' stuff. I've written "Skees" on many a backpack, sweatshirt and jacket. It looks awful and the marker bleeds through the fabric (once Aiden had his name semi-tattooed on his neck after I labeled his sweatshirt and he immediately put it on...oops).

That's why labels from Label Daddy will come in handy. These labels are super durable peel-and-stick washable labels -- they're washer/dryer safe, microwave safe, dishwasher safe and UV resistant! Label Daddy labels are also fun and attractive. You design your own labels and can pick from tons of colors, sizes and logos, including Disney and Marvel characters, MLB, NBA, and NHL team logos, other sport and fun logos, and more. The exclusive laminated coating gives labels an extra layer of protection and is a must for camp! These labels are made in the USA and shipped directly to you worldwide.

Want some of your own? You're in luck! Check out this offer for More Skees Please readers:
If you aren't sold just yet, give me a few weeks - when I get mine in I will share my thoughts in a review post.

*Disclosure: As a blogger offer through, Label Daddy will be providing me labels for the purpose of this review. As always, my opinions will be 100% honest. Stay tuned for the review!

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I Better Brush Up on My Speaking Skills...

This fall I have been invited to speak to several different groups about Apert syndrome, Aiden's story and the importance of Choosing Kind. If you haven't seen already, my friend - and apertOWL partner - Kerry Lynch has been spreading the awareness throughout Chicago-area elementary schools by speaking to kids about her daughter Mary Cate who also has Apert syndrome like Aiden. Her story made the front page of the Sunday Chicago Tribune {see: Chicago family asks Chicago students to "Choose Kind"} and she was interviewed by the Australian Today Show!

Not only will I be addressing elementary students in grades K-8, I will also be sharing our story with students in the nursing and education programs at my alma mater, Bellarmine University, and with over 150 families in an adult formation group at my local parish. I am extremely excited about these opportunities.

For starters, being able to present to nursing students allows me to give them information about a rare craniofacial condition that many of them may never encounter throughout their entire nursing career (it only occurs approximately 1 out of 160,000 births). But if they should ever care for an individual with Apert syndrome, perhaps they will remember my presentation and recognize it right off the bat. With that being said, Apert syndrome is not the only rare condition they might come across, so hearing my perspective might be beneficial for them across the board.

Secondly, presenting to education students might spark ideas for them when they are one day in their own classrooms. With bullying so prevalent today, it will be a good reminder on the importance of "Choosing Kind" and how to foster an environment of acceptance among their students.

Next, I am really looking forward to engaging with the adult formation program at my church. Children have an innocent curiosity that can sometimes make for awkward situations. I've been asked by various adults how to go about handling these situations in an appropriate manner. They want to know what I would like to happen. I hope to provide insight into the kinds of things we have dealt with - both good and bad - so they can be more prepared if they or their child should want to know about another's disability in public.

Finally, I cannot wait to bring Aiden to schools and show them first hand that although he is "different", he is more like them than they think. He's just a normal kid with normal feelings. People with differences want to be accepted for who they are and NOT what they look like. Using the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio as a platform, I hope to convey the message: "When given the choice between being right or being kind, CHOOSE KIND!"

If you know a teacher/professor, church leader, group director, etc.
interested in having me come share our story, I'd love to chat with you!
I truly believe that education is key!

Email me at moreskeesplease [at] gmail [dot] com.

In the meantime, I'm going to take a Toastmasters class or two (my dad has been telling me to do this for YEARS) and hope that my passion for sharing about Aiden brings my nerves down a notch when I'm standing there, knees knocking, getting ready to present.

10 Things that Happened (or Didn't) When We Had the House to Ourselves

We were preparing to have out of town guests and from the looks of my house - occupied by my husband, myself and our 4 boys - it was a task even a cleaning service would turn down. Sensing the exasperation (and desperation) in my voice, my mom offered to take my kids for a few days. All four of them - ranging in age from 5 months (and not sleeping through the night) to 7 years. Now, I promise I love my children, but I am a woman who knows her limits. Let's just say I had them packed and loaded in the car before she could change her mind.

In order to ensure I got what I needed to get done accomplished (and didn't just sleep for 2.5 days straight), I made out a lengthy to-do list to keep me on track. On it were things like "clean the bathrooms" and "go to the grocery". You know, things that are pointless (bathroom cleaning) and anxiety inducing (grocery shopping) when you have 4 kids at home.

After meeting my mom for the drop off, I rolled up my sleeves and got right to work. Well...kind of ;) Here's how it went down:
  1. I thanked my mom for helping me out and just so she completely understood just how much I had to get done, I rambled off my list before leaving her with my munchkins. And then...I blared the radio and drove straight to TJMaxx. I mean one little shopping side-trip is bound to happen, might as well get it out of the way, right?
  2. When I walked in the door kidless, I may or may not have yelled "I'm FREE" at the top of my lungs. Because I could.
  3. I got to enjoy my morning french vanilla cafe in front of the television without having to first change a diaper, fix waffles and bacon or clean up a sippy cup that leaked on the floor (I mean do ANY of those darn things actually NOT leak like they promise on the package? LIES! All lies!) Never-mind that I watched an entire episode of Sheriff Callie's Wild West before realizing I could actually finish the 3 episodes of Real Housewives saved on my DVR.
  4. I could focus. Multi-tasking is SO much easier when the kids aren't around. Reading Facebook (without feeling guilty) AND cleaning the kitchen? Very possible when you aren't being pulled in 4 different directions by 4 tiny beings.
  5. The house got clean in half the time. This is because I didn't have a Hudson following behind me undoing any efforts I made at tidying up. Have you heard this saying before? ---> Cleaning the house when your kids are home is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. Yup. 
  6. The house stayed clean! I may or may not have taken pictures of every room, knowing that seeing it that clean again would be as likely as the next confirmed sighting of the Loch Ness Monster.
  7. In my head, my 2 day mini-vacation included getting my work done quickly and then lounging around taking naps while eating the "good" snacks hidden for moments when my kids aren't around. But...that never happened. It turns out that even when you have 2.5 days without the kids, you still feel guilty taking time for yourself.
  8. We had grand plans to have TWO date nights in a row? What?!?! That's unheard of. What actually happened was that we had take-out both nights and were in our pajamas by 8pm. Staying in and enjoying our quiet house trumped going out for overpriced dinner and drinks.
  9. And if you think that an empty house meant retreating to the bedroom for some sexy time? Think again. The minute we got into bed the only thing we could think about was SLEEP. Sweet uninterrupted sleep...
  10. ...which I can assure you doesn't exist once you are a mom. Although my children were miles and miles away, a mom's ears are trained to perk up at the slightest sound. I must've woken up no less than 10 times thinking I heard one of their cries from the other room.  
When all was said and done I got the house as clean as it has ever been (and ever will be) - and even managed to squeeze in a few doctor's appointments. But as excited as I was to have the house to myself, even when given a reprieve, once you are a mom it just isn't the same.