{Giveaway} Learn Your Messy ABCs with Oscar the Grouch & his Sesame Street Friends!

Grady and I recently had the chance to review Put Me in the Story's Sesame Street: The Messy Alphabet Book. I'm a huge fan of Put Me in the Story (remember when I ordered Poppy a personalized Easter story instead of doing a chocolatey Easter basket?) 

Personalized story books are a great way to boost the enthusiasm of early readers. Grady is working hard on learning his letters and sight words; his whole face lit up when he opened the package and saw his name front and centre on his very own story.


I loved adding my own personal message to Grady, and including one of my favourite pictures of the two of us. The ordering process could not be easier. You're guided through each step, quickly and painlessly, and have an opportunity to review the final product before placing your order. Grady's personalized book was delivered in less than a week.


Enter through the Rafflecopter form for your chance to win your own Sesame Street Personalized Book Bundle & Elmo Plush!

{Disclosure: I received product in exchange for this review; all opinions stated are my own.}


I used to love that moment in between sleep and being awake, when my brain would stretch and my body would unfurl and for a minute or two I could enjoy the silence of the day. Lately, though, as soon as I am conscious, my thoughts explode in a whirlwind of what needs to get done, and who needs to go where, and how much time I have to do it all (spoiler alert: not enough time, not even close, hang on tight, things are about to get bumpy).

The mental load of motherhood is not a new concept, and is certainly not unique to my situation. I know I do not come even close to winning the Misery Olympics, and to be honest, I am not interested in competing. I love my life. I’ve got an attentive partner, an amazing support system, privilege oozing from every crevice of my duct-taped-together days, and yet here I am, exhausted and overwhelmed.

I’m trying to make life less chaotic. I’m writing lists and creating routines and constantly “prepping” (oh my vodka, so much prepping) to try to make my days run as smoothly as possible. I am one “10 Ways to Hack your Morning Routine!” listicle away from keeping a stash of protein bars beside the shower so I can fuel up and get my 28 essential micronutrients while I get ready for work at the same time.

But I am not more organized. Our days are not running smoothly. I am left feeling like I can’t take a full breath because my chest cavity is full of “what ifs” and “what nexts” trampolining on my heart.

Maybe I should get back into meditating, I think. Or yoga. I should dust off my juicer and fill my face with spinach juice instead of Skittles. I should up my protein intake. Cut carbs. Lift weights, go for a walk, get a massage, read a book, light a candle, start a bullet journal, clean out a closet. Maybe then I will feel like I’m in control, like I’m not careening headfirst toward disaster.

I don’t want my kids to remember me as the crazy lady who was constantly hissing at them to walkfasterthesecondbellisabouttoringdoyouwanttobemarkedlateagain?. I want to be serene. I want to go with the flow. I want the flow to not be so soul-crushingly unpredictable and tumultuous. I want to able to accept this season of life for what it is: messy, noisy, and fleeting.



Dear Grady,

Today you turned six. 

The last year has wiped out any remaining traces of your babyhood. Your chubby cheeks and sweet baby smell have been replaced by gangly limbs and a lisp-inducing gap where your front teeth used to be. Your wrist and thigh rolls have been replaced by eye rolls. You are a kid, not my baby. 

You are the coolest kid I know. You are creative and imaginative and I love seeing how your brain works. You want to be a musician (like daddy, or the Foo Fighters, but better than the Foo Fighters, in fact, last week you told us when you grow up your band will be called the Foo Fighters Red Dragon). You want to be a history teacher so you can talk about knights all day and help kids. You are happiest when you're sitting in front of your sketchbook, filling page after page with Ninja Turtles and knights in castles. 

You talk all the time. Like, all the time. You ask questions and you try to figure stuff out and you don't let me get away with explaining things away with "that's just the way it is!" ("But there has to be a reason," you insist.) You are consumed with fairness and I'm doing my best to protect your sweet conviction (while not beating my head against the wall when you ask for the fiftieth time why you have to go to bed hours before me).

You are the best big brother to Poppy. You are loving and kind, and the best part of my day is when she sees you after waking up. She goes from grumbly-half-asleep to pure sunshine when she sees her Guh-guh. You're the only one who can calm her down when she's feeling squirrelly. You sing "Poppy Doodle" and she goes from unmanageable honey badger to a slightly more manageable honey badger. You've taught her to laugh at burps and farts. You share your toys and your food and your Mama and Daddy. Witnessing the ferocity and depth with which you love your little sister is my greatest joy. 

Grady, life is not always shiny and bright. As you grow into your own person, we've had challenges. We are both stubborn and sassy and sometimes it feels like we are going in circles. I'm doing my best to stay patient and embrace the person you're becoming. Some days this is easier than others. 

Six years ago you were born and made me a mama. Every day since, I have felt like the luckiest person alive. Thank you. I love you. Happy sixth birthday, Grady Bug.  



Summer Reading Bingo

Shawn came home and found me in my element: hunched over poster board, using my big ruler, Sharpies in varying colours and widths strewn about. He asked what I was doing and after I told him, he laughed and accused me of taking my "clipboard of fun" to the next level. Advanced Clipboard of Fun, if you will.

I don't even care.


I made an awesome Summer Reading Bingo Card for Grady and he loves it. When he woke up the next morning and found it hanging on the wall he was so excited to get started. We've already made one big run to the library for books and he's managed to knock off nine squares (there's 100 in total) in less than a week. 

Summer Reading Bingo is something I thought up to keep Grady interested in reading during summer break. Grady's school is closed for two full months and that's a long break. I don't want him to lose the momentum he gained, or his enthusiasm for reading. I also want a visual reminder for myself so I can measure how much I'm reading with Grady. With life getting so busy this summer, I don't want Grady's reading to suffer. The visual reminder of how many books we've read together, and how many we have left to go before school starts, will (hopefully) help me stay on top of summer reading better than if I'm relying on my memory. 

Want to play with us? All I did was make a 10x10 grid on poster board and fill it with topics featured in kids' books. Some are easy (Pete the Cat, Iron Man, trucks, etc.) and some will require a trip to the library (ballet dancers). When we read a book featuring one of the 100 topics on the bingo card, Grady gets to colour in the square. He only gets to colour in one square per book (so Pete at the Beach can either knock off the Pete the Cat square, or the beach square, or the cat square, but not all three squares). 

When Grady gets a bingo (ten books in a row), he gets to choose a treat from the list below the grid. The treats are an assortment of things we already had planned for the summer (don't tell him that) like going out for ice cream cones, sleeping in the tent, staying up late, and things like that. 

At almost six years old, the bingo card method ties in perfectly with Grady's need for control (he decides what we're reading and what treat he's earning) and the visual aid is perfect for his personality (he likes to see his progress) and where he's at developmentally. 

How do you keep your kids interested in reading over the summer?