In honor of the 91st Academy Awards airing yesterday, I was inspired to create my own list of awards. Welcome to the First Annual Ma-scars! (That's Ma as in Ma! The Meatloaf!)
Being a Ma is a whirlwind of tasks, emotions, and experiences that overwhelms me at times. That's why I want to recognize this super-random and oddly specific list of things that have made my momlife better.
Please, please, please share your list with me! find me on Twitter at @friedbumblebeez or talk to me in the comments at the end of this post.
Important note: there are zero affiliate links in this post. I have no financial interest in you buying any of these things. I'm writing this for free, which is probably dumb, but I like sharing things that have helped me, as much as I like hearing about things that have helped other people.
Without further adieu, I present the winner of the First Annual Ma-scars, in random order. (OMG so random.)
Step aside, Ray Donovan. My glue gun is the hottest fixer around. Indisputable fact: Moms need hot glue guns. If I could give a hot glue gun at every baby shower in America, I would. I don't care if that's weird.
Here's the thing about babies, toddlers, kids, basically all humans from zero to four feet tall: they break stuff. All the time. Like it's their job. Rather than deal with tears and having to replace all the broken stuff, just treat yo'self to a glue gun. Get tons of replacement glue sticks on Amazon and you're all set. (Buy through Amazon Smile and support your favorite charity!)
Oscar Tie-In: DIY Oscar statues made from Ken dolls. The instructions don't call for a glue gun, but it would totally work here. And, by the way, I am so not the person who would host an Oscar party or attempt an Oscar-themed craft, but if I were that type of person, I would be bout this in a heartbeat.
The Small But Mighty Award goes to my library card.
From my eight-year-old's first baby story time to this past weekend when we spent a rainy afternoon at our local branch, the library has been a constant source of enjoyment and enrichment for my kids and me.
Aside from the obvious perks of checking out books, audiobooks and movies for free and getting anything you want sent to your local branch, most libraries have a bunch of other cool benefits that fly under the radar.
In New Jersey we got free passes to local museums. Free, as in, save yourself like fifty bucks free. The kids did story time, Spanish class, and a nutrition class where they cooked and sampled healthy recipes. The Livingston NJ library was my office when I was studying for my teacher exams. Quieter and more seating options than Starbucks, and think of all the money I saved by not buying $4 lattes. Plus my clothes didn't smell like the inside of a coffee grinder when I got home.
Here in Charlotte, my son has absolutely torn through the Captain Underpants series (yeah, we like the esoteric stuff in our family). Rather than pay for every single one of those books, I just put in a request online when he's ready for the next one. Having a book with your name on it waiting for you on a special shelf at your library is a special kind of happiness for a kid. Not spending a hundred dollars on the Captain Underpants series is a special kind of happiness for a Ma.
Oscar Tie-In: Here is my favorite movie scene involving the public library, in which Will Hunting says, "You dropped 150 grand on an education you coulda got for a dahla fifty in late chahges at the public library."
The Fake Bake Award
I don't want to brag, but I am a bit of a connoisseur of taking the easy way out of the culinary arts. That's why I would like to share the fact that Trader Joe's baking mixes turn out AMAZING every time.
Take their banana bread mix. It tastes like real banana bread, but you only have to add one or two things, do a couple stirs, and you're done. People will think you did some crazy baking things like "using real banana" or "adding wet ingredients to dry ingredients" or "measuring." Gah! Who has time for that?
Oscar Tie-In: This one-minute video about Trader Joe's Movie Theater Popcorn is surprisingly soothing and calming.
Best Supporting Bake Faker
All this talk of banana bread leads me to my next secret weapon: the mini loaf pan.
I'm not what you'd call a kitchen gadget collector, but I did somehow end up with a mini loaf pan, and I must recognize the essential role it plays in me pretending I spend all this time in the kitchen when I'm really drinking sauvignon blanc and watching that reality show about dummies who work on a yacht.
So here's what you do: You get a Trader Joe's baking mix, and then you use your mini loaf pan, then you put each mini loaf in a cute little bag (hello, Dollar Store) and you have a nice little homemade-ish teacher/coach/bus driver/neighbor gift. The other helpful thing about a mini loaf pan is that it makes four to six loaves at once, in less baking time than a single loaf. YES PLEASE.
Oscar Tie-In: When it comes to bread and movies, it doesn't get any better than this iconic scene from "Moonstruck" (my mom's favorite movie)!
Best Accidentally Educational Purchase
I wasn't trying to be educational when I got the kids these map placemats for Christmas. I just wanted a barrier between their unending syrup seepage and our table.
I had no idea how this Amazon add-on would turn my kids into geography buffs. It makes sense, though, when you think about how much time kids spend eating.
An added bonus is that these maps are an instant distraction from annoying mealtime kid behaviors (off the top of my head: squabbling over the sour cream tub, farting, belching, giving a 25-minute play-by-play of a recess game called Moose Man and the Evil Ducks.) "Quick, what's the capital of Idaho?" works every time.
Oscar Tie-In: The 45 best travel films of all time, according to Conde Nast Traveler. (I've only seen 16 of them!)
Best Beef Nachos, Etc.
I've discovered that keeping myself fed is the fulcrum on which the teeter-totter of motherhood balances. When I mess that up, everything slides downhill into the mud.
That's why I have to tell you about Clean Eatz. It's a franchise that offers meal plans, grab and go meals, and smoothies, all with healthy ingredients and all delicious. (Trust me, I like health but not enough to sacrifice taste.)
I order four Clean Eatz lunches for myself every Thursday and pick them up every Monday. I'm not a neuroscientist (contain your shock) but there must be some kind of dopamine hit associated with choosing my meals and then stocking the fridge with four identical containers full of delicious food that I don't have to cook. I get so much joy out of looking at their meal plan and creating my own li'l menu each week.
I feel the need to remind you here that I have no money to make off of this or any recommendation here. I just really want you to know the joy of having someone else cook you a healthy and delicious lunch so you can focus on crushing it (life, not your lunch) all week.
I am too lazy to figure out the geographic coverage of Clean Eatz stores, but for my LKN readers, Clean Eatz is at Kenton Place near Galway Hooker in Cornelius.
Oscar tie-in: Here is every Leonardo DiCaprio Oscar-Nominated Role Made Into Latte Art.
Thank you for getting to the end of my Ma-scars list! Your reward is that instead of going to an after-party, you get to take a nap.
But before your well-deserved nap, one request: please tell me the award-worthy things in your life. I really want to know! Whether you're a kid-mom, dog-mom, kid-dad, fish-dad, or really just anyone. I want to hear it.
...was the name of my column in Phillips' Finest, my middle school newspaper. If it was good enough for seventh grade, it's good enough for "adulthood."