Saturday, April 30, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 37

Ways to Trick your Baby:

Problem: You've busted your butt, packed a bag and gotten everyone out of the house to go to some fun and magical place. You've got food, drinks, a change of clothes and underwear, emergency diapers. You've thought of everything. Only not. The place is not quite as you expected, or you had to make a stop somewhere else first, or whatever the case may be. Regardless, you needed toys, and you didn't bring any.

Solution: Remember, to a kid, anything can be a toy. In the grocery line, your keys, or that bag of grapes you're going to buy anyway. At the beach, an empty water bottle and ziplock bag can work as a shovel and pail.  In my case, yesterday, all the little kids had water toys - buckets, watering cans, little plastic cars - my babies had nothing. Silly me for thinking a huge splash pad would be enough entertainment on its own.  Anyway, they borrowed some toys from a friend until the friend had to leave, then I had to think quickly.  I guess I didn't really need that coffee anyway, and the cup makes an excellent bucket. Given the right imagination, the cap is a makeshift watering can.












Ways your Baby Tricks You:

Problem: Now there's sand in the grooves of your coffee cup and mud slicked over the top.

Solution: Consider your environment when picking out makeshift toys. Coffee cups work well for water, but for sand and dirt, try to use disposable items like plastic cups, paper bowls, etc. Use items you can find at your location, too. Feathers (if they don't squick you out), shells, grass blades, leaves, acorns...all of these can be made into toys. Thank goodness for the toddler imagination.











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Friday, April 29, 2011

Super Stalker Sunday...Friday Edition

It's an early Super Stalker Sunday, and it promises nothing but the very best.  To all my fellow bloggers out there, go link and be merry!



To those of you coming over from the SSS, hello and nice to meet you!

Here you'll find essays from the trenches of parenting from a woman who's definitely not up for cookie-cutter parent of the year.  We do our best, though.

I started this blog because I read something on the internet that made me mad.  Here it is.

Since then I've talked about rude people in the library, in the salon and at a restaurant. (Okay, so she was actually just trying to be friendly, but we're not all perfect all the time.)  I've taken on childfree writers, facebook memes, and comedians.  I've reviewed some God-awful potties, and failed at making Cream of Wheat.  Before that, I formula fed, do you judge me?  They don't.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Child Will Never...

Every time I hear a parent, or a non-parent, say "my child will never...," I shake my head and smile in amusement. Don't you know that saying that will only cause embarrassment in the long run when your precious angel, in fact, does do it? Probably in public? Probably in front of the people you laughed with way back when?  If I've learned one thing through second-hand experience, it's never say never with kids.

The problem with a statement like "my child will never..." is that it implies judgement on those children who would and do. It implies the parents who "allow" such behavior are somehow less than you, since, of course, your child would never.

But not only do you not know what your child would ever do, you also don't know the circumstances surrounding the child that is doing what you assume your child won't. Maybe it is his first time doing it. Maybe it has nothing to do with the parenting or training involved and is simply a reflection of personality, one that cannot yet be expressed in a rational manner because the child is so young.  Maybe the kid is sick, or just saw her dog die, or she's suffering the evils of teething. Maybe that parent that you're distancing yourself from said those same words not six months ago.

I have never said, "my child will never..." out loud. But I have thought it, and it has come back to haunt me. Of all the faults I have as a parent - and they are many - I thought with full confidence that I would never have children so maladjusted to society that they would cling to me and need me present 24 hours of every day. I thought, I will never have children that cannot have fun on their own.  I will never have children the babysitter hates. They love people, fun strangers especially. They socialize daily. They're twins. They have each other for comfort, too.  They don't even really like me, I thought. I'm just the person enforcing rules and making their little lives basically unlivable. They'll love new people, places and things. They're adventurous. I'll never have to worry about separation anxiety, and my kids will never throw fits because I leave the house.

Cue to last week when I left the house for a long period for the first time in a year (yes, unfortunately, it has been that long.)  I typed out a lovely sheet of instructions for our sitter. The babies were excited to see a new friend, and were showing off for her as I readied myself to leave.  I gave her last minute direction as I left the house. "They share the yogurt in the morning, but don't forget to give them oatmeal about a half hour after that."  "They like Sesame St. better than Diego, but you'll probably be playing instead of watching TV, I imagine."

Then, I snuck out. My first mistake. My kids will be three in August. It's no longer out of sight, out of mind with them. They understand everything. In fact, if I could redo one thing about that day, I would redo my exit strategy. I would kneel down in front of them, explain where I was going and when I would be back, and I would handle the tears and frustration as I left, in the hopes that they would not feel abandoned or scared.

Because they felt abandoned and scared.

About 30 minutes into my journey, I checked my cell to see if the babysitter had called. She hadn't, but my husband had...three times.  He told me they had been crying inconsolably since I left and that he'd told them I would bring back chocolate and candy for them, and that I'd gone to the store to get it.

I called the sitter.  Things were bad. Natalina refused to let her touch her. She wouldn't put on her pants, she was on a food strike, she was screaming and banging things around, and finally she'd closed herself in her bedroom.  Dulce was laying by the door in desolation.

"Don't worry," she said, "they'll buck up and get used to it. I'm sure we'll have a great day."

But they never did.  I got home six hours later, chocolate in hand, to a quiet house. The poor babysitter looked wide-eyed and almost feverish. The babies, she said, were finally sleeping. They hadn't gone down until three.  After she left, I cracked the door to see them. Diaperless and pantless, they were asleep on the floor.  They hadn't eaten anything all day. They had refused to play, refused to do anything. They had cried and pitched tantrums from the moment I left at 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. when they nodded off to a discontent sleep.

What have I done to my children?  Of all the ways I have been ruining them, ways that I have been keeping track of merciless to myself, this way blindsided me. I had no idea I'd had it coming. What had I done?

When they woke up, one was happy to see me, prepared to let bygones be bygones. The other was not so easily won. She cried actively at me for the better part of an hour, wouldn't let me touch her at first. She was so angry. So hurt.  Finally, they both calmed down, and we watched some television before going out to feed the ducks.  Everything was hunky-dory again by the time my husband came home from work.

Later in the evening, Dulce held up the now crinkled and food-stained instruction list I'd left for the sitter.

"Oh, no!" she said. "Caitmin, for Caitmin."

"Yes," I replied, "It was for Caitlin, but she didn't get to use it because you cried all day. Why did you cry all day?"

Dulce's eyes widened and her lip quivered. "Dulce cry," she said. "Dulce sad. Miss mama."

I almost died.

My poor kids.

So, I'm looking for ways to rectify the damage I have done. I'm looking into a mother's helper for a few hours a week, to train the babies that other people can do things for them...people who aren't me.  I'm trying to take them out in public more, but not like I have been, you know, grocery shopping and to the bank, etc. No. I'm trying to take them to playdates, and playgrounds, and libraries.  Places where they'll meet other kids and adults for the sake of meeting them, not in passing as mommy grabs the milk from the shelf.

It's hard. I've not managed to do it nearly as often as I first resolved to. But I will continue to try. I am utterly defeated by how dependent I've made my children on me.

My child will never...

Yes, she will.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Never Overestimate Yourself

I should have known as soon as the UPS guy asked me to help him move the packages into the house. I should have told him to turn around and bring them back when the two of us had trouble lifting the box and sliding it into the house.



I should have packaged it back up and made a phone call the second I opened the box. I should have run in fear when I noticed the instruction manual was novel length.

But I did not.  No, I thought, I got this. I can handle this.



Four and a half hours later, my house in ruins and two children running around with bed parts and tools, and my husband comes home.

"Don't come in!" I shouted. "Turn around, go back! Before it's too late. It's bad here.  It's bad." And I burst into tears.  I'm nothing if not dramatic.

But, seriously, what was I thinking?  I don't even remember ordering these monsters.  A bed frame in my mind is a few pieces of scrap metal that pop together and hold a bed up a foot off the ground. The end. When did I decide I needed a base with drawers in white wood?  Clearly I had lost my mind.

You see, I'm in the middle of this project in which I'm trying to make my home into one of those cutesy pictures you see in Pottery Barn or some other such nonsense. I saw cute little white storage bed frames and thought, yes, this is what I need. Let me tell you, this is not what I need.

I managed to make the drawers. It took me four and a half hours to make two drawers.  And I'm not completely at a loss when it comes to making furniture.  I can IKEA with the best of them, seriously. But like I said on my facebook yesterday, IKEA is like kindergarten compared to this crap. The directions are written in tiny three word increments. The parts are labelled in the instructions with numbers (from 1 to 414, I might add) and letters. These numbers and letters cannot be found on the actual pieces.

I got through the first four steps with no trouble. I thought, great! It's not as hard as it looks. No, it's not. It's way harder.

And the company didn't help any (South Shore, if you were wondering). Some of the screws they sent with the bed were filled over where the groove should be for the screwdriver. They were unusable. There were no markings as to where I was actually supposed to hammer the nails they gave me, so I guessed. The directions were unreadable. I did a lot of guessing, in fact.

One piece that was crystal clear, however, was to put plastic dowels into some of the holes. I didn't understand why at the time (I still don't understand why), but I was just happy to have a simple step for once.

Of course, then the directions told me to screw long screws in past the dowels. Um, how? It was impossible, even for the three sides of the board that hadn't been damaged during shipping (yes, the board was missing an entire corner.)

I should have known when my mindset changed from "I'm going to do this right" to "Well, it doesn't have to be exactly as the directions say," that I was in trouble.

But seriously, I could figure out no way to get the screws past the plastic I'd stuck in the holes. And I couldn't get the plastic out. I mean, it was in there for good.  The back of the hammer couldn't get it out, a screw used as a lever couldn't get it out, tweezers couldn't get it out.

So, do you want to know what I did (and here's where I really shot myself in the foot), I went after those dowels with my teeth.  I mangled the dowels, I hurt my pearlies, and keep in mind, this was a step undoing a step that was supposed to be done.  I was done, I was in over my head.

But still I continued on. I haphazardly nailed boards into place, I clipped things without screwing them (remember some of my screws are faulty). I figured, it will be good enough, it must be good enough.

When I got to a section where I absolutely could not find two pieces I needed, I snapped. I was done.  My husband walked in at that very moment. Disheveled, sweaty, on the brink of hysteria, I could take no more.

I found those pieces on the porch this morning, by the way. Thanks, babies.



I guess what I'm trying to say is, does anyone want a half-assembled bed frame with no dowels, faulty screws and damaged corners?


I already know the company is going to make it really hard for me to return even the unopened bed frame (haha, yes, I have TWO of them). The one I opened? Even though it was faulty and broken to begin with? I really really doubt they'll take it back. And the last thing I want is to argue with some associate about how to get this mess out of my house. I just want it gone. I hate it. I hate this bed frame. I hate it.

Don't ever overestimate yourself. You'll ruin your entire day.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kiki's Courage

When should parental concern overrule internet fame, money-making ability and childlike dreams of grandeur?  Where's the line between understandable public outrage and victim blaming?  Who is at fault for the life Kiki Kannibal is living and does fault matter here?

In the new issue of Rolling Stone, Sabrina Rubin Erdely outlines in detail the life of 18-year-old Kirsten Ostrenga, starting at age 13, when the child created a MySpace page, dressed up in provocative scene-queen outfits and amassed a following of tens of thousands.  It's long, but I found it worth the read.

All over this article there are tales of harassment, death threats, home vandalism, even rape by a boyfriend Kiki met online.  I teared up reading some of the stories.  Throughout it all, Kiki's parents looked on, helplessly. They saw the hate mail: "I know where you live and I'm gonna kill your fucking cat."  They saw the death threats: "I'll fucking murder you little girl."  They allowed her boyfriend to stay in their home, despite his strange actions as his relationship with their daughter progressed because they "couldn't figure out how to kick him out."  They watched their daughter dwindle to 72 pounds, and through it all, they never stepped in, they never took her off the internet.

Why?

Cathy and Scott Ostrenga say they suggested leaving MySpace.

Kiki protested: "If you take me off the Internet, the bullies will win.""

But on the internet, there is never any winner. You cannot win against internet bullies. You're never going to convince them that they should either leave you alone or like you. By sticking it out through the hatred and the threats, you may feel you've won by not giving up. You may show the world, or the readers of Rolling Stone Magazine, but you haven't won. The bullies are still looking up your address; they're still fantasizing about your humiliation or death.  You'll never show them.  In fact, the closest you could probably come to winning this "game" is by stopping to play.  The internet sucks you in; it seems like the entire world, when, really, it's an alternate world. It will survive without you, and you will survive without it. Only by stepping back (for more than three weeks) will someone embroiled in true internet fame and drama be able to appropriate it a correct amount of importance. It is impossible to see while you are in it. I imagine doubly so for a teenager.

So, instead of leaving, Kiki went further, joined more sites including Stickham.com.  But with every site comes its sister snark site, and as Kiki was dancing around in her underwear in a silly girl game of fun for her fans, her haters were congregating, twisting her image and spending endless hours ripping her apart.

What did her parents think of the videos she made?  They thought they were cute.

""We've always had a philosophy of letting the kids express their creativity, as long as they're not harming themselves," explains Scott softly. "There's always been supervision behind it. But we've been more permissive from a certain perspective."

"Cathy advised her daughter to take a "block and delete" strategy against unwanted commenters, banishing them from her chat room when they posted vulgar statements like "I want to put my cock in your mouth.""

To their credit, the family moved. Scott took a large paycut and they lodged with the children's grandmother.  They had to change their lives, their financial situation and their location, and still Kiki blogged.

Eventually, the Ostrengas took action against the drama site filling its pages with photoshopped images of and snark posts devoted to their daughter.  The site's owner and administrator, who according to Rolling Stone, has an unhealthy obsession with Kiki, wrote them a scathing reply...blaming them for his actions.

"If she were my own child I would have taken that fucking computer and Sidekick away a long time ago," wrote the administrator, presumably Stone. "If you had your daughter's best interests at heart, you would put an end to the 'Kiki Kannibal' fame that is obviously so unhealthy at her age."

He's wrong in blaming them for his actions, but his point is one that resonates with me as I also would have "taken that fucking computer and Sidekick away a long time ago."  Where is the line?  I can't find it, but I know for me personally, it was crossed well before now.

The Stones article says, "The reality is, there are few repercussions for online harassment. The Communications Decency Act protects Internet publishers from being sued for content — allowing people to post virtually anything without fear of consequences. Finding some kind of balance between free speech and privacy online will almost certainly become one of the major legal battles of the century. For now, however, content providers like Stone are nearly untouchable."

With legal repercussion out of the equation, the "battle" remains between poster, snarker and harasser. But the "battle" could end with a blackened screen.Walk away.

"I messed up as a parent. I did so much wrong," Cathy Ostrenga confesses through tears.

And yet, still, Kiki blogs.

It doesn't matter whose fault it is. The fault clearly lies with the people who would harass, threaten and stalk a young girl. But the fact of the matter is, their actions have become her reality...a reality that she had the power to walk away from at any point. Now that Kiki is 18, it is up to her to make that decision or not. But when she was 13, when she was 15, when she was 17, it was up to her parents. As guardians, we must protect our children. It's not our fault when things go wrong. That has nothing to do with the fact that things sometimes do go wrong and it is our responsibility above all else, beyond the blame game, to protect our children.  If we don't, many times, no one will.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Surviving Twins - The Early Months

A friend of mine is having twins girls, due in August. She asked me for advice, and I had to reach far back into my foggy, sleepless memory banks to give her anything useful.  I don't often talk about having twins, and I don't often talk about the infancy years, but both are so stressful, that maybe a quick tutorial would help some mothers out there.  So, without further ado, here are a few ways to make your life easier, or at least survivable, during the early days.

1) Plan for the worst. Twin pregnancy (especially identical twins, like mine) are automatically in the high risk category, and this is for a reason. I'm not going to go into all the things that could go wrong because usually they don't and there's no need to scare you, but when your doctor schedules you extra tests, go to them. Make time in your schedule for the weekly ultrasounds. Should you have to go on bedrest, truly take it easy. They aren't joking.  If you have a specific birth plan, try to keep in mind that twins complicates things, so get a doctor you trust to respect your decisions unless there is an absolute emergency.  That way you won't feel so pressured or nervous during delivery. You'll be able to trust that your plan will be followed as closely as possible without endangering you or your children.  Prepare for the worst. Know that there is a chance your babies will be born early. If you want to breastfeed, get your pump ready beforehand, in case your children need to stay in the NICU for a time before going home. This way, on the off-chance that things don't go as you planned, you have the knowledge and the tools to make your life as much to your liking as possible, and you won't be so overwhelmed that you give into personnel who may not understand your priorities.



2) When you get home, be flexible. Allow for the possibility that it may take a while for the babies to latch. It may take a while for them to gain weight. It may take them a while to catch up to their peer infants.  None of this is your fault. If you can keep yourself out of the equation and limit your guilt, you'll be more confident and happy and be able to enjoy your early days a little more.  Having twins is hard.  Give yourself a break. You don't need to make it harder by blaming yourself when they don't gain an ounce.



3) Feed them when they are hungry.  Sometimes doctors tell you to feed them every two or three hours.  That's just not feasible advice for twins, sometimes. They'll usually be a bit smaller, possibly premature, and they'll only be able to fit the smallest amount of milk in their tummies at one time. When their bodies use that up, they'll be hungry again. You might feel like you are spending all day feeding them, one after the other (unless you are more talented than I am and you can feed them both at the same time), but it's worth it. It only lasts a week or so.  If your child is crying because he or she is hungry, you should feed them. Even if it hasn't been two hours.  (Actually, I believe this for any baby, not just twins and preemies.)



4) Do everything on the same schedule. This is the most important thing I did, and I still reap the benefits today.  Feed them at the same time. If one is hungry, try feeding them both. Put them down for naps and bed at the same time. If one is tired, put them both down. If the one who isn't tired doesn't drift off to sleep, spend the quiet time in the room with her while her sister sleeps.  I can't stress enough how crucial this is. It makes two babies more like one baby. If you put one down for a nap and keep the other up, then put that baby down for a nap while the first sleeps, you'll have to be on all the time. You'll exhaust yourself. And if you practice this same schedule thing, three years later, your kids will inherently understand that they nap at the same time, they go to bed at the same time and they eat their meals at the same time. No one feels like they're getting special treatment.



5) If you are unsure of something, call. Put your mind at ease. Don't do it all by yourself.  They have on-call doctors and home care for a reason. Your kid isn't gaining weight? Call. They're throwing up too much in your opinion? Call. They haven't pooped in a week? Call.  They have a yellowish tint to their skin? Call.  For all of these concerns, the answer will most likely be, "everything is fine," but why take my word for it when a medical professional can help ease your mind? That's what the numbers are there for. You won't be burdening anyone.

6) Accept help when it's offered and ask for it when it's not.  You only have two arms.  Even though you are caring for your infants 24/7, you are still going to need to eat and sleep, regardless of their needs.  You'd be amazed how many people are willing to pitch in and help, especially for the first few weeks. If someone asks if there's something they can do, DO NOT say nothing. Say, sure! Can you pick me up some fried chicken? Or, you know that killer mac and cheese you make, boy I'd love some. Or, could you just hold the babies for ten minutes while I take a shower?  They're not offering to be polite, like you think. They're offering because they want to help. Believe them. Use them. This is so important to your sanity.

Twins present a separate realm of issues and problems that seem never to let up, but are most definitely more pronounced in the first few weeks. How unfortunate that those first few weeks are the ones in which you need to physically recover from birth and learn how to be a twin parent.  Good luck!  You'll survive, I just know it.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Moment of the Week - 36

Happy Easter!








How about an Easter Egg hunt and chocolate for breakfast?

Best day ever!  

video

We ate all the chocolate, but have some hard boiled eggs.

We made them ourselves!










Happy Easter!

___
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 36

Ways to Trick your Baby:

Problem:  You can't get anything done. You have a nice list of goals and things to do each day, and you're positive everything is going to go just right if you can all just keep to schedule. But you can't. Someone doesn't want to go shopping at 11 a.m. and someone else doesn't want to do anything but cling to your leg while you try to do dishes and convince the first to go shopping.  It's a shambles.

Solution: Stop trying so hard. Take your cues from your kids. Don't let yourself get into a situation (like I did, yesterday) where if you don't go grocery shopping right now, you won't have lunch food.  You're in control, yes, and they'll know it, but silently gauge their needs on any given day. Some days they'll be more independent and play on their own. Some days, for whatever reason, they might want to watch a lot more TV than usual. As long as that doesn't become a habit, I say go for it. They might be feeling under the weather and unable to tell you about it.  If they want to go outside, and you aren't ready...don't put them off until you strike off that chore you were sure you'd get done.  Some days are good for chores, but if you try to get housework done and your babies aren't feeling it, it will take you three times as long and everyone will be frustrated and unhappy. So that if you had just taken them outside, you'd have been back inside by the time that chore is done anyway, and you'll be able to take care of it once they're down for nap.


Ways Your Baby Tricks You:

Problem: You've gone too far. You've shown them that what they want is what you'll do. You thought you'd avoid tantrums and have nice days, but, alas, as their whimsies are catered to, one after another, their demands increase and their logic decreases. You are a slave to your children. What have you done?  (Okay, so maybe it's not that bad, but, seriously, you need to go grocery shoppnig today, and you're not about to let a few two year olds dictate your entire life.)

Solution: A toddler's mood changes quickly, in whichever direction. Use this to your advantage. Have a loose schedule of things you would like to get done, including fun things, and see if you can get them done in any order possible. Vary your goals for the day, so that if writing a blog in the morning proves impossible, you can accomplish something else on your list, like going outside and enjoying the weather or cleaning with your crew of toddlers right behind you as a game. If they're not into baking, like you thought they would be, don't stick to the point at that very moment. Don't make a big deal out of it (if you do, they'll catch onto the fact that you're changing your plans just to accommodate them, and they will take advantage) but act as if you didn't really want to do that right then, anyway. "Huh, you know, I don't really feel like baking. But what would be really fun is reading stories right now!" The alternate activity doesn't even need to last long. "You know, I'm tired of reading stories. How about cookies? Well, we have to bake some first...want to help?"  This creates an illusion of choice for them without giving them a powertrip, and all the while, you're checking off your list.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Bunny Blog Hop Apr. 21 - 24

I'm participating in the  "Bunny Hop - Blog Style" from April 21 - 24th. They call it a "crazy fun hop to celebrate the season,  make new friends, gain new followers and of course...have fun!"

To join in, click on the button, follow the hosts and make connections to other bloggers.  Last night there were already 100 listed. Then grab their button and post it on your own page to spread the words, if you'd like.





For the hoppers: here is an intro post with pictures and all kinds of links you might enjoy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Tramp Isn't Just What She Wears

You know that CNN piece that has everyone up in arms? You know, the one that starts with the guy describing a delicious-looking eight-year-old girl and ends with him blaming the parents for wanting to be their kids' besties instead of their guardians?

LZ Granderson is shocked and appalled that young girls are being offered push-up bras and allowed to wear low-slung sexy sweats. His point is that young girls will suffer any multitude of adult problems from low self-esteem to eating disorders because they are allowed to dress in such a manner.

What Granderson completely overlooks is force of trends in fashion, the force of fashion in society, and the force of society on individuals young and old...but particularly young.  Now, I agree with Granderson that this trend toward "whore-chic" is disheartening, but, unlike him, I realize that this is because I'm a 28-year-old fuddy-duddy with toddler twin girls. My perception is skewed toward the upbringing I had, the good old days, as they were.  And even then, I remember clearly the senior talent show making fun of freshmen girls for trying to wear nothing to school.  This is not new.  It's no surprise as the societal view of clothing or lack of it becomes commonplace in the adult world, it would eventually pervade the youth as well. It's no surprise, and it's no shame.

Because shaming little girls at airports, or their parents, is not going to buck the trend. It's as logical to blame the parents as it is to blame yourself, Mr. Granderson, (and we all know with that leg-breaking thing how illogical that would be) because you, like the parents you are berating, cannot stop the swing and backswing of fashion. And that's all it is. Fashion.

It is a gigantic leap from low-cut jeans to eating disorders - one that I do not think you can make. Those that suffer from such afflictions would not take kindly to being told it was because their parents let them wear "whore panties" when they were little.  Probably because they didn't. And if they did, anyone with an eating disorder could tell you the two usually have nothing to do with one another. In fact, by using this particular cause and effect, you are minimalizing a  very real and very scary psychological terrain that many must walk through every day.  How dare you, sir?  But I don't want to go too far. Of course, it's not you who said that, but a study.

"In 2007, the American Psychological Association's Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls issued a report linking early sexualization with three of the most common mental-health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. ...There's nothing inherently wrong with parents wanting to appease their daughters by buying them the latest fashions. But is getting cool points today worth the harm dressing little girls like prostitutes could cause tomorrow?"

Now, if you read that link, here is what "sexualization" is defined as:
  • a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
  • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  • a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  • sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

So, really, you're making another leap here because nowhere do I see buying a 12-year-old girl a push-up bra on that list.  Is it the first step to those four bullet points?  Possibly. But I would argue that, to at least some, it's just fashion.  Let's not forget that sixty years ago it was considered risque to wear a skirt cut above the knee.  Today, we would laugh at such prudishness, wouldn't we? Oh, it's not the same, you say, this is different, this is us.  They thought something completely normal was whorish.  We reserve that judgment for only what's completely over the top. Or is it?  Another example of this would be tattoos.  They were once a mark of sailors, prisoners and the toughest of the tough. It was not fashionable nor socially acceptable to have a tattoo otherwise.  Do you have a tattoo?  I know I do.  Fashion changes. It does not necessarily mean that those going with the changes will be irrevocably marred.

 Read further in that link and you'll find this:

"Although extensive analyses documenting the sexualization of girls, in particular, have yet to be conducted, individual examples can easily be found. These include advertisements (e.g., the Skechers “naughty and nice” ad that featured Christina Aguilera dressed as a schoolgirl in pigtails, with her shirt unbuttoned, licking a lollipop), dolls (e.g., Bratz dolls dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings, and feather boas), clothing (thongs sized for 7– to 10-year-olds, some printed with slogans such as “wink wink”), and television programs (e.g., a televised fashion show in which adult models in lingerie were presented as young girls). Research documenting the pervasiveness and influence of such products and portrayals is sorely needed."


While Granderson did a superior job pulling out the specific examples, he missed the point of studies and trends...the research part.  The paragraph above explicitly states that in the case of young girls the influence of these products is unknown. So, let's not put the bra before the breasts here, okay?  Let's do that research, or at minimum, let's call your specific opinion what it is, and not try to back it up with studies that don't actually back it up.

And it's not that Granderson's opinion isn't valid - it is. I agree with it. My heart sinks a little when I see sexy six year olds because I think sex shouldn't be important to them. In fact, in my eyes, fashion shouldn't be important to them.  (You've seen how I dress my toddlers.)

But my opinion of their priorities isn't reality. Fashion is important to them because fashion is important to our society as a whole. And anyone who thinks forcing their children to wear baggy tie-dyed t-shirts and balloon pants will save them from a lifetime of self-esteem issues has another thing coming. There's another facet to low self-esteem that Granderson fails to take into account and that is being made fun of.  Kids are cruel (and so are their parents) when it comes to being the odd man out. And fashions that were once considered whorish, have made their way into the trends with "whore-chic" and have trickled down into the youth, so that the child with the parents who force her to wear turtlenecks and corduroys may do just as much damage to her self-esteem as the parents who swing too far the other way and allow their child's thong to peek out from her ultra-low jeans.  Thankfully, the parents who would swing that far to the right are just as few as the parents who would swing that far to the left. Granderson speaks as if millions of young girls are being allowed to purchase and wear these items on the daily. That simply isn't the case. Just because an item is being marketed doesn't mean everyone is immediately wearing it.  Look at the Snuggie (oh, wait, bad example, but you know what I mean.)

But the biggest, most glaring, problem I see with Granderson's piece is that fashion and sex are not the same thing. He lacks an enormous insight into the psychology of an eight-year-old girl. Speaking in generalities here, I would put forth that girls do not dress up to impress boys or men. Girls, many times, dress up to impress other girls. Not in a sexual way. In a competitive way. Most eight year olds are not trying to get a rise, physically or otherwise, from a man in an airport. They are trying to show off to their friends. They are in it for the fashion, not for the sex.

Does the emphasis gradually change as they get older, and does the foundation laid by these fashions in the early years play a part in the way a woman grows up? It's possible, on an individual level, that yes, it does.  Would I feel comfortable letting my daughters wear sweatpants that say Juicy on the back with a cropped belly shirt? Absolutely not.  But that is me.  I'm not going to go around slamming every other parent out there for not thinking exactly like I do.  I'm not going to say with certainty that their daughters will have self-esteem problems and that it will stem from the parents' decision to let them dress the way they want to and the way their friends are dressing.  Because I don't think that's true.

Plus, (and probably most importantly), I don't for a second believe that my kids' backpacks won't have a change of clothes in them should I pull the fashion noose too tightly around their necks.

My thought process is, they're probably just going to wear it anyway.  But if I'm open enough and compromise with them enough, and explain to them the implications behind the fashions...if I talk to my kids instead of playing the break-your-legs card, maybe we can find a happy middle ground, and my kids won't feel forced to lie to me about what they're wearing when I'm not around.

And it's a triple win because I wouldn't have judged, blamed and shamed thousands of parents and children in the meantime.


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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mommy Friends: A How-to Guide - Guest Blog

This week, I'm lucky enough to have a fire-dancing, baby-wearing mama (not at the same time!) teach me how to make mom friends. A guide I sorely need.  Thank you, Farren Square.

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Mom friends. Every mom needs at least one mom friend, another woman with children who can be there for you through the ins and outs of life with kids. Mom friends give us an excuse to get out of the house, a reason to drag babies to the coffee shop or a walk to the park. Mom friends listen to us vent, they understand there is love underneath all that sleep deprivation. Mom friends can be even more important for a Stay at Home Mom - they give us a connection to the outside world, another grown up to laugh at our jokes and understand why we complain about not being able to go to the bathroom alone.

It took me personally about two months as a stay at home mom to go completely insane from the boredom. Don't think that life was a breeze or anything, but I'm just not the type to watch TV much and since sitting around was my favorite pregnancy pastime, I was pretty over it. Did I mention this was in the dead of winter and I live in a frozen northern tundra land (aka Canada)? I needed an excuse to get out, I needed someone to talk to during day light hours, and I needed to be able to tend to my kid without guilt -- I needed other mom friends. I went on a quest, and I was lucky enough to find some truly amazing women, who also happened to be moms. Here is my story of how I found success as a new mom befriending other new moms to maintain my sanity:

-I started looking online. Blogging has been an incredible source of support, friendship, information, and entertainment.  There is an incredible network of intelligent women who are sharing their points of view on parenthood out there. They have powerful things to say, and for the most part, are incredibly humble and supportive. Twitter was another amazing source of online mom-friends. We share pictures in real time, live blog the ins and outs of our sometimes hectic sometimes monotonous days, and support each other in 140 characters or less. Twitter is like mass-texting a huge group, so often your questions "Omg, my kid just swallowed a pound of glitter glue - what do I do?!" get answered right away.

-I stalked the coolest library with the coolest children's section. It doesn't matter that my baby doesn't understand story time or has no recollection of the library 10 minutes after we leave. What matters is that I get to hang out in an area downtown where crying babies are totally acceptable, he gets to stare at other kids, I have brief moments of intellectual conversation with moms who read books, and there is a trendy local coffee shop near by. Plus they gave us a free book when I signed my kid up for a library card.

-I remain open-minded at all costs, and I do not try to offer advice unless it's clearly being sought. I'm passionate about many things in life, but some of those things are only in my life. I talk about them openly, but I support all mothers and the choices they make. If you are looking for positive and supportive mom friendship, I think it is vital to both display and seek these qualities. You won't be disappointed.

-There are playgroups out there to be found. Sometimes you can find them through local health centres, through support groups like the LLL, or you can use great online resources like www.meetup.com When I simply typed Mom and my area into meetup.com, I found over 15 different groups I'd be interested to try out. Or you can make your own meetup and see if you get any biters!

-You have to Step outside your comfort zone. You have to be prepared to be the one to strike up a conversation at those playgroups. You might need to be the mom that marches up to that other mom at the playground with the great shoes and the awesome bag and say hi. You might even have to be the one that says "Here's my number, text me later - let's get coffee." Because why the hell not! Let me assure you, I'm not generally the type of person to be so open and brash when meeting strangers. But I've done it. I had some random mom send me an e-mail about my blog, noticed she was local and arranged a day to meet with her at the library. Another day I was out for a walk and ran into another mom with the same idea. I said her baby looked cute, she complemented my baby carrier - it was mom love at first sight. How could I let that go without a phone number? If we decide to meet and the mom friend sparks don't fly, it really doesn't matter. But if the mom friend sparks DO fly, I won't have regretted my brazenly asking for her contact information.

The fact of the matter is that sometimes you just need someone, anyone, to fill that adult-time hole in your life. Chances are most of the mom friends you meet won't change your life or become your new BFF, but I'm willing to bet that you'll laugh a little, talk about your baby a lot with absolutely zero remorse, and feel better knowing your days aren't just a repetitive baby-centered affair. And if you really put yourself out there, look in the kind of places where you want to spend time, and keep an open mind - you might just meet a new MFF. Mom Friend Forever. Oh yes. I went there.


 Farren blogs about breastfeeding, feminism and being a new mom over at Farren Square. Go check her out. It's one of the best-written blogs I've come across!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Family Portrait

"Hey! Hey! Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Boo! Boo!"

The babies looked up at me in annoyance, then cast their suspicious eyes upon the photographer.

Click.

"Well, I guess we won't use that one," she said.

No kidding.

We'd already been there for too long, taking picture after picture. You stand here, you face her, look lovingly at each other, could you get the babies to cross their legs and hold the umbrellas in their left hands while whistling? Okay, so I made that last one up, but she may as well have been asking that. They're two. They don't really pose on command.

Why we were even there, in the mall department store's tiny portrait studio with a white sheet tossed over a ledge for background, I still don't know. I'd been drawn to the store with one of their super duper deals. $35 for every size photo imaginable plus greeting cards.

I'd figured it'd just be one pose. A family portrait. When the woman kept snapping and snapping away, I got my hopes up. First the family, then the parents, then the babies. Huh. Maybe we could choose multiple poses. Of course we could. For only an extra hundred bucks or so.  Oh, Olan Mills. Good to see some things never change. You disappointed me 20 years ago with class pictures, and you disappoint me now.

I asked for the "laser" background, and the photographer didn't even crack a smile. I thought it was hilarious! Maybe she's too young to remember the coolest class picture background that my mother would never let me get. I was always stuck with the classic blue fuzzy background.

Anyway, after a multitude of shots where she chased the babies around with a multicolored feather duster to get them to laugh (haha, no, it got them to cling to my legs in fear), we had enough shots to go through and choose.

My favorite part of the trip was when the photographer was annoyed at us for only wanting the deal we signed up for.  Like we'd wasted her time taking all those extra shots. But, in the age of digital photography, it's not even like she wasted film. Enough with the attitude. We'd just like our first cheesy mall family portrait, please.

"What would you like on the greeting cards?" she asked.

"Oh, I don't know. How about Happy Easter? That would be nice for family."

"Done."

Then I was forced to leave for a bit to keep my restless babies under control. Going through all of their "deals and options" took a long time, and there's only so long jumping over cracks in the floor will amuse toddlers.  Especially when there are glass bowls on display in the home department, right there, ripe for the breaking.

I got back just in time to pay. "These will be ready May 2nd. When would you like to pick them up?"

I looked at her blankly. "May 2nd?"

She rolled her eyes. "Yes, we have to blah blhablhabljabl" (I don't care what she said here. It's all crap anyway, these are digital pictures, and if they aren't, then what the heck?!)

"Right..." I ventured. "That's all well and good. But Easter is April 24th. It would have been helpful to know that the delivery date would be a week after the holiday...you know, since I said Happy Easter on the greeting cards."

"Oh, right."

Right, indeed.

So, why did I drag my family to a mall to get an old-fashioned out-of-date chintzy family portrait? Is it nostalgia for my youth? I remember turning excitedly to my husband as we pulled into the parking lot saying, "I've never gotten one of these as the adult in the family! I've only been the child!"  Is it a sense of family duty? Does everyone get them?

I know that this will likely be our only one, after that experience.  I have a digital camera, and while I don't have any skills behind the lens, every once in a while I get lucky. Plus, Walgreens will print out as many different pictures as I want for 20 cents a photo, and I get them all on the internet.


Plus, at least the babies smile for me.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

The Five Different Types of Toddler Tantrums

My life plunges ever deeper into the realm of ridiculous as my kids struggle to determine what is reality and what is imagination, what is reasonable and what is impossible.  It's a long process and their "coping mechanisms" involve a bit too much noise for my tastes.

At age two and a half, here are the most frequent tantrums in this house.

1) YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT I SAID BECAUSE I'M ALL GARBLED AND MY DICTION IS TERRIBLE.  CLEARLY YOU HATE ME.

My little one has slightly worse pronunciation than her sister. She also has a longer memory for perceived slights to her little person. This makes for a deadly combination, especially since she has a sister with whom to compare desires versus fulfillment and time taken for each. So that added to the delight of "I cannot get you what you want or respond in an appropriate manner because I can't understand you" there's the bonus of "but you just did what Dulce asked you to do, and it's not fa-air!"  Lovely.

These types of tantrums are the most common in this house because they are forever talking and forever wanting and I just can't keep up.  I also have anywhere between three and ten seconds to figure out the exact nuances of each request before total meltdown. Talk about working on deadline.

2) YOU CAN'T CREATE THE OBJECT OF MY FANCY OUT OF THIN AIR. I WANT IT AND YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY WITHHOLDING IT FROM ME BECAUSE YOU HATE ME.

My kids haven't quite grasped the concept of what is real and what is in their mind. They are disciples of the power of positive thinking...without the positive. They assume if they can think something, that thing must exist in real time because they can see it in their mind.

The most ridiculous example of this in recent memory is last week when I decided to let the babies try raspberries for the first time. I thought they would love a new treat. Haha. No. The raspberries, you see, are red, like their favorite fruit, strawberries. So, they excitedly took the berries from me, and were immediately repulsed when they tasted not strawberry, but raspberry. They spit them out, gave them back and demanded strawberries. But we didn't have any strawberries. My cruelty to them was unfathomable. How dare I not create their beloved strawberries out of thin air? This, truly, was the height of insult. And had I only not offered them a raspberry to begin with, I'd have saved myself the literal and figurative headache.

3) I WANT HERS NOT MINE BECAUSE HERS IS BETTER BECAUSE IT'S HERS.  WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH?

I don't know if parents of singletons experience this type of tantrum, but it is the defining aspect of my life right now. It covers slightly different items, like the Dora underwear we have, all with Dora on them but in different poses or outfits. It covers items that are the exact same in every way. "Her red mardi gras beads are better than my red mardi gras beads even though there is no discernible difference. I know they are because she has them."

The most frustrating version of this tantrum has to do with the potty. I am helpless in the face of it. One of them will go potty, and the other will be beyond inconsolable that she did not also go.  And it is somehow my fault. No amount of me explaining that I have no control over whether or not she has to go to the bathroom will fix this. And God forbid one of them poop. We may as well have tortured and maimed the non-pooper, such is her dismay.

And that's just the tip of it. The twins now flush the potty when they're done, and they love it.  They are so competitive that they have found a difference in the speed at which the water drains from the toilet. So that the twin that goes potty second knows she's getting a "slow one" and cannot stand it.  Her sister got a "fast one." Are you kidding me?

4) EVERY MINUTE DETAIL OF THIS PLAN IS NOT IN ACCORDANCE TO MY IMAGINED SCHEDULE, AND I DON'T CARE HOW AWESOME THE PAYOFF IS IF I CAN'T HAVE IT THIS EXACT WAY RIGHT NOW. SCREW YOU AND YOUR FUN PLANS.

There is no prioritization when you're 2.5. We may be going to the beach, but if they want to wear sneakers instead of sandals, they will die on that hill. And so will I. We will wear appropriate shoes to each place we visit, and I don't care if you scream as if I've just cut off your hand. But I can never quite understand why they would choose to be so completely miserable over a sensible decision I made, when the end result of their acquiescence is that we go to the beach, their favorite place. They cannot see the forest for the trees. It's amazing.

5) NO ONE CAN DO ANYTHING FOR ME IF THEY ARE NOT MY MOMMY. AND IF YOU ARE MY MOMMY, I WANT SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT FOR ME UNTIL THEY TRY, THEN I AM BEYOND OFFENDED.

We have trouble with this one when my husband tries to feed them or put them in their car seats or hold one of their hands or basically anything. They'll insist it be me, and sometimes we allow it because we simply cannot handle another tantrum after the tantrums about the potty and about the foodstuffs and about the necklaces and about the shoes. We just want to go to the beach. But we should never allow it. It's turned them completely dependent on me, and it's allowed them to think that if they put up a fuss, I will do it just to shut them up.  So, no more!  We are going to beat this tantrum if it's the last thing I do.

As for the others? What can we, as parents, do?  I don't know.  We always do our best to distract them or lead them in another direction with about a 25 percent success rate. For the other 75 percent of the time, I recommend hanging on by the skin of your teeth and hoping for a better tomorrow when their vision of the world is more in line with the actual reality of the world and they aren't disappointed quite so often.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Moment of the Week - 35

Yo Gabba Gabba says "hugs are fun!"

video

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 35

Ways to Trick your Baby:

Problem: Toddlers have very rigid routines and definitions as to how the world around them needs to be working. Any minute detail you forget can be grounds for a knock-down, fall-out tantrum, and these things can escalate before you even figure out what the problem is.

Solution: (and this was touched on in the guest blog, but it's worth a specific mention in this case) Appeal to their sense of the silly.  Toddlers do have a great sense of humor, and they love anything ridiculous.  If you can right a minor faux paus on your part by shaking your head in an exaggerated fashion and laughing out loud "Noooo, that's not what we do! Silly mommy!" you'll find that four out of five times, they'll go along with you, as if you'd played a great joke on them.  I learned this from my daughter Dulce, quite by accident, the other week.  I went to put her in the wrong car seat, and she immediately went to silly.  "Nooo!" she said, laughingly. When she saw I was serious, she started readying herself to cry, and I realized my mistake.  I took her lead.  "Oh, Dulce!  You're right!  Noooo!  That's not where you go!  Lilly sits there! Silly mommy!  I got you!"  And she laughed and laughed.  Crisis averted.


Ways your Baby Tricks You:

Problem: Sometimes your toddler will throw a tantrum not at anything you've done or could prevent, but just randomly.  Just because.  They pick something they arbitrarily determine should be reality, and they are ready to blow the nanosecond they find it cannot be done.  As if you have willed it impossible because you clearly hate them.  Or perhaps they're version of reality simply does not fit into the day you had planned.  Either way, prepare for meltdown (especially if they are teething.)

Solution: Again, apply to their sense of silly.  They eat it up.  If you can catch their darkening mood early enough you can turn it right around on them and make it all part of the joke.  For instance, a potential tantrum because they can't take the neighbor's dog inside with them becomes, "Noooo! Silly girl!  That doggy doesn't belong INSIDE the house!  Where does that doggy go? ... That's right!  Outside!  You are too silly. Hahaha."  The difference between this solution and the last solution is that in the first, you are pretending you played a joke on them.  In this solution, you are pretending they played a joke on you.  I am consistently amazed at how well this works, and I've been using it for quite a while now with great results.  Kids - they love a good gag.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Bee Happy Blog Hop!

Crazy about My Baybah, Family and Life in Las Vegas, and The Balancing Act in Stilettos and Scrubs do a weekly blog hop, and I joined in this week!  The co-host is  This hop is about meeting new friends and finding fun blogs to read. So link up, grab our button, and BEE FRIENDLY!!

This weeks featured co-host is: A Day in Motherhood!

So head on over to those blogs and see if anything catches your eye!  There are already 50 links and it's only 11 a.m. That's pretty good!

If you're here from the hop, you might want to check out an introduction post I did just a little while ago with lots of links and videos for your pleasure!

Nice to meet you!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The First Story of my First Born(s)

Rule number one in life for a sexually active woman? Never take a pregnancy test at work.

It was a chilly January evening when I stepped into the Walgreens on my dinner break. I picked up a frozen pizza, a pint of sherbet,  and a pregnancy test. I was a few days late, nothing to worry about, but my boyfriend had mentioned it, and I figured I'd put his mind at ease.

Back in the newsroom, I popped my pizza in the microwave and headed to the bathroom.

I came out, white faced.

"T?" I popped my head into my friend's editing bay.

"Mmm, I'm really busy, hold on."

Next course of action: call sister. Not home. Call boyfriend. No answer. Call best friend.

"Oh, my God. Do you have another test? Sometimes those things are faulty."

Imagine the clerk's surprised expression when 20 minutes later, I'm back at the counter with my arms full of pregnancy tests.

"A pack of Marlboro Lights, please." Clearly, I was going to need back up.

I took them all.  The result never changed.  Pregnant.

All I can say is, what a complete waste of a good pizza.

...

Later that evening, I squared my shoulders and faced my boyfriend, my lip quivering.  "I tried to call you," I said.

"I saw," he replied. "What's wrong?"

"Well, you know how you were concerned about my period being late?"

He nodded, his eyes clouding over.  "Are you?"

I sighed. "Yup."

We looked at each other in shocked silence as the minutes ticked by in slow motion.  Just the week before, his brother and his brother's wife had announced that they were pregnant. "What have we done?!" they shouted in jovial mock fear.  What had we done, indeed?

...

I stepped into the cold ward at the hospital for an ultrasound to see how far along I was.  I wished the tech would hurry up.  I was going to be late for work.

"Oh," she said, quite flippantly, I thought. "It looks like you're having twins."  Like she was telling me it was a nice day outside. Like she was telling me the sky was blue.

I laughed. "Nice one," I said. "But, seriously, that's not funny."

"Oh, it's no joke." She brought the printed ultrasound sheet to me.  "See?" She pointed. "Baby A and Baby B."  She beamed at me. "Well, what do you think?"

I was silent as I picked my jaw up off the floor.  "My boyfriend's going to kill me!" I managed to squeak out before grabbing the sheet and scurrying out of the office.

...

Taking a seat wasn't enough for the news I delivered to him that night.  He collapsed, instead, on the bed, staring at the ceiling.

"Twins?"

I nodded.

"They're sure?"

I nodded.

"Oh boy."

...


But it wasn't a boy, it was two identical girls, who we met just six and a half months later.










...

More than three years since that fateful day, my husband and I are now married. Our family of four is strong and loving.  We couldn't imagine our lives without them.



And that is the story of how two little beings changed and bettered the lives of two selfish and carefree adults before they even took their first breath.

Now, I know that's not the true birth story, for that, you can click here.  I find it absorbingly interesting, of course, but that's because it's mine!

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

4 Ways to be a Better Mom - Guest Blog

Virginia over at My Spinning Plates has children older than three, and she has survived.  Not only that, but she has had fun.  I had to ask her how she did it!

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When I was asked to do a guest post for Tales of an Unlikely Mother, it was suggested that I offer some advice from a mom with slightly older kids to parents with young children. It was hard to decide what I could contribute. There's so much parenting advice out there already: nutritional, educational, financial, spiritual, psychological... and each is presented as the most critical part of your child's development. “Follow these steps or your child might grow up to be an ax-murderer.”

Then I realized an aspect that is often overlooked:

Have fun with your kids. Have a ridiculously silly amount of fun with your kids. Of course, kids are great at having fun all by themselves. They can find the fun in any situation, but we tend to sit on the sidelines and watch. Stop being a spectator. Get in there with them.

1. Get Dirty- Go out and explore with your kids. Dig for worms. Pick up rolly pollies. Play in the mud. Run through the forest. Watch where you step, though, this could also be labeled “get poison ivy.”

2. Get soaked- Play in the sprinkler. My kids like chasing me with the hose but they love it when I grab them and carry them through the sprinkler. My clothes will dry, but their memories will last a lifetime.

3. Be Creative- Next time the kids color or paint or play with playdoh, sit down with them and do it too. It will be a great chance to bond and they'll be in awe of your mad coloring skills.

4. Be a Comedian- Tell jokes. Make funny faces and silly noises. Kids are the perfect audience because they don't have high standards when it comes to comedy. Even better, they've really never heard any of the classic jokes yet. Where else can the “orange you glad I didn't say banana” joke be a hit?

It's good for the kids to see that adulthood isn't all laundry and errands. I want them to realize that fun can be had at any age. It doesn't just benefit the kids. When I hear my kids get that that uncontrollable giggle, I can't help but laugh with them.

We have a lot on us, as moms. Taking the time to laugh with your kids relieves stress and it's great for your health. I'm not saying that if you don't follow my advice your kids will grow up to be ax-muderers, but do you really want to take that chance?

How do you have fun with your kids?



When she's not out having fun with her kids, Wesley(6) and Gracie(5), Virginia blogs at My Spinning Plates.










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I'm doing a guest blogging series on Wednesdays.  If you are interested, please contact me!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shoe Dazzle


I love shoes. I have always loved shoes, and I feel confident that I will always love shoes.  It started when I was a little girl, staring all all the awesome heels in my mother's closet that I was never allowed to wear.  As I grew older, and eventually grew to her shoe size, I was surprised to find that I was still forbidden from her shoe stash.  At the time, I really resented it.  What a waste!  She hardly wore those shoes, anyway.
Now that I'm a mom, myself, I can almost see where she is coming from, though.  I mean, the reason she never got to wear any of those amazing shoes was me (and my siblings).  It makes no sense to wear a chic four-inch heel to gymnastics practice or a PTA meeting. And to then turn around and lend those shoes to the very person who prevented you from loving them?  It'd take a very selfless person, I think.

Anyway, once I went to college, I started my own shoe collection.  Weird emo things that were cheap and sometimes used.  I worked with the spare change I had and my slightly off sense of fashion.

As I aged, I graduated, got a job, and remained single.  Suddenly, I had money.  Suddenly, I had shoes. Glorious, glorious shoes. Ankle boots, spike heels, wedge sandals, strappy numbers, mary janes, squared toes, ballet flats.  You name it, I had it.  I could drop $120 on a pair of boots and be happy for weeks.  I knew I was wearing quality.

I wore heels everywhere, for everything.  I wore heels until my poor pregnant feet would no longer fit into them.  I wore heels on a 2-hour commute every day, in a standard.  I wore heels on location, in the mud, on a mountainside.  I wore heels.

The next part of the story, you already know. I had twins. My money dwindled as I started having to worry about adult things. My shoes grew dusty and I bought some new flip flops.  $120 on boots?  Try groceries.

So, imagine my elation when I got out to the mall during a nap time over the weekend and found there was a shoe sale.



That room is clean now, by the way, but the important thing is the shoes!  I got these four pairs plus the sparkly pair up top for about $20 a piece!  Now, they're basically crap, of course, but they'll do well for the first three or four times I wear them.  And with twin toddlers running around, I'm sure I'll only get a chance to wear them three or four times in the next few years. (Sad face).  And it's a perfect solution to my mom problem.  If by some chance, they're interested in wearing these shoes 15 years from now (assuming the shoes are still in good shape), I'll be able to lend them out without pause, knowing that they're cheaply made and could stand to get stepped or spilled on.

For now, I'll just look at them sitting in my closet and imagine scenarios in which I would wear them.  But not all is lost.  My twins have already found uses for shoes I no longer have chance to wear.



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