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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whatcha Doin'? Eatin' Rocks

After a hard and long day of travel yesterday that included a car trip to a shuttle to an airport train to a plane, we landed in CT.

Here are the babies, enjoying their week at the lake.





Happy week, everyone.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Barefoot (Books!) Summer - Guest Blog

Samantha Williams is a talented cook, wonderful mother and avid reader. She combines all three every day and was gracious enough to write a post for me highlighting her latest project: Barefoot Books. She blogs her magnificent meals over at Heartshaped Leaves.


First I want to offer a huge thank you to Darlena for giving me the opportunity to spread the word about Barefoot Books.

Barefoot Books is an amazing company that offers books to children that inspire creativity, encourage imagination and foster a love of the earth and diversity. Plus they do all that without relying on mainstream characters, which to me is a huge plus. The books are incredibly well illustrated and even more so they are well written.

Barefoot Books operates on five core values: Imagine, Explore, Create, Connect, Give Back.

We offer books that are an authentic alternative to the commercialization of childhood. We encourage children to make time for make-believe, let their imaginations run wild and free, while never forgetting that childhood is a time for fun.

We help children explore other cultures, our planet, and themselves, providing them with ways to follow their imaginations on extraordinary journeys, both inner and outer.

We believe that books with beautiful art and meaningful stories respect the innate wisdom of children and have the power to nourish the creative spark in everyone.

We are committed to using story to create deep and lasting connections—whether it’s a child and parent connecting over a book; a child connecting to the universal wisdom of other cultures; or a broad network of people connecting through shared values and the desire to help children become happy, engaged members of a global community.

Give Back
We support organizations that share our goals of global understanding, empowering children through art and story, and protecting and preserving the earth for future generations.

The month of July is an especially good month to support Barefoot Books. Our summer sale starts on July 15th and runs until August 15th. Our summer sale covers bestsellers and limited collectibles.
Also for every Bear's Birthday book purchased between July 1st and July 31st, Barefoot Books will donate a new book to the charity Birthday Wishes. Birthday Wishes brings birthday parties to homeless children, founded on the belief that everyone should have a birthday celebration.

I personally love the books because they really do get my son excited about reading. As soon as he sees me pull up the Barefoot Books website, he is in my lap telling me which book he wants. Not to mention he loves getting the books in the mail too, I mean what little kid doesn't like receiving mail?

But Barefoot Books isn't all books, we also offer puppets, puzzles, silk dress up skirts, and activity cards, there really is something to be found for everyone.

A few of our favorites are:

I dreamt I was a Dinosaur

 Life on Earth matching game

Yoga Pretzels

I do hope you will at least take a moment to browse our fantastic selection of books by visiting my marketplace: Barefoot Books.

I am Samantha, a 26 year old stay at home mom to a three year old named Jack. I am married to the Army, I mean my husband serves in the Army. Our family is expecting a little girl around July 11th and we are all very excited. Well I am excited, I think the others are too. ;)

Let's see, what else, if you visit my blog you will find posts about food and food photography, I like cooking and taking pictures of the food I make. I also believe that reading is something every child should experience from an early age, this is why I joined Barefoot Books as an ambassador. and why I am now writing a mini bio about myself for this guest blog spot about Barefoot Books, enjoy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

They Grow Up So Fast

When I take photographs of my twins, I'm documenting their development right alongside their cute antics.

Lately, though, there's been photographic documentation of development of a different sort. My babies love the camera. I have an older digital point and shoot, so I let them use it at will. And they use it every day.  In the past two weeks, they've gone from sticking the lens in their eyes and screaming cheese, to figuring out where the button to click an actual picture is and how to press it, to actually taking pictures of things they find interesting for whatever reason. It's been an amazing transformation.

Beginning of first day

End of first day

Beginning of second day
End of second day
And they've taken some really interesting shots of things around our house. Here are just a few of the better / more lucky shots. I call this first collection "A Study of Bicycles."

There are many more objects that caught their attention. Like our table lamp, their morning fruit spread, my keyboard, and me!

That's definitely my best angle!

Anyway, it's costing us an arm and a leg in batteries, but I really love being able to see them learn and teach themselves to do something they enjoy. They don't need me to document their growth anymore. They can do it themselves!


If  you like this blog, please consider voting for me here! And if you really love me...Babble is the most important ranking to me, and I'd love you forever.  xxoo

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up

Monday, June 27, 2011

Scaring the Sh*t Out of Them

I have a distaste for public bathrooms. Actually, it goes beyond that. My aversion rests just slightly above phobia. I hate them. Now that I have potty-trained toddlers, I end up spending a lot of time in my favorite little, dingy, smelly rooms, trying my hardest to act like these are like any other rooms and like I'm not utterly disgusted that my kids are using this toilet that everyone else uses. Because, really, when you type it out, it's not so bad. This is really an aversion I should get over. But I can't.

Anyway, so far, I've done a pretty good job faking it. The babies, of course, know not to touch anything. That's one thing I've been firm on. "Don't touch anything!" I used to say. Now I don't have to. We push that dirty door with the peeling paint open and flick on the fluorescent light and the babies are already repeating "Don't touch anything. Don't touch anything. Touch your knees. Touch mama. Don't touch anything else."

But, aside from that, we've been able to do our business in many public restrooms, from the grossest beach variety where sand and puddles of dirty sea water (and whatever else) pool around our feet, to classy, bright restaurant stalls, to darkened and stinky diner bathrooms. I was proud the babies seemed not to pick up on my misplaced germ hatred.

Until this weekend.

A double-whammy has left me with a new battle to fight -- a battle brought on by myself and my reactions.

It started at the pool. While one of my twins gleefully announces when she's going to pee in the water (we're working on that), the other insists on using the potty, something I prefer to water goings, but something that's nevertheless inconvenient.

I trot the babies out of the pool and into the community clubhouse where the bathrooms are. We walk in, and immediately Dulce says "It's too stinky in here." I said, "Yes, it is rather stinky, I wonder--UGH."

There it was. Someone had left a giant turd in the toilet of the women's restroom. We reversed out of there so fast we nearly lost our flip flops. Guh! Gross! Ugh ugh ugh ugh! Seriously, you can't flush your shit? What the heck is wrong with people? Ick. I can't. The image, the get it. But I'm still mentally washing myself, seriously.

There was no mistaking my reaction this time. No couching it or making light. The babies understood that the bathroom freaked mommy out. I didn't realize it at the time, but they carried the memory with them. Not of the scene, but of my reaction.

Fast forward to a few hours later. We're out at a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and Dulce has to go. The restrooms are outside around the corner. They're predictably dark, smelly and cramped. I open the door, flick on the light, and Dulce takes a step in only to scream and scramble back out.

"Mama! Catepillar. Ah!"

A giant back scrub brush that looked remarkably like a catepillar had been left under the sink. I showed her that it was just a brush and tried to ready her for the bathroom.

"No, mama, I okay. Poo poos in there. I okay now. I go at home."

We didn't use the potty there.

An hour after that, we were at a restaurant, eating dinner. The babies dragged me to the restrooms three different times. Each time acting weird and scared in there, deciding not to sit on the toilet, telling me they were okay, and leaving.

We haven't had cause to go to another public restroom since, but each time that night I gently reassured them that everything was fine, that they didn't have to wait for home, that they can go anywhere that offers a bathroom facility, that it's good to go when you have to go.

It's going to be a battle, this I know. What we say leaves an impression on our kids, but not nearly as strong an impression as what we do or what we think. Kids pick up on everything. It's up to us to be solid, consistent and helpful for them.

If  you like this blog, please consider voting for me here! And if you really love me...Babble is the most important ranking to me, and I'd love you forever.  xxoo

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Moment of the Week - 46: I Feel Good

Natalina's fancy footwork to James Brown! (featuring Dulce)

If  you like this blog, please consider voting for me here! And if you really love me...Babble is the most important ranking to me, and I'd love you forever.  xxoo

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 46: That Jamb Door

Ways to trick your baby:

Problem: I don't know about you, but we have bedroom doors that lock from the inside, allowing for maximum privacy...or providing an accidental baby prison. My husband and I waited too long to fix this. We thought, they won't lock the door. And then one day, the door was locked from the inside, two babies locked within.

Solution: Take the knob off. Reverse the inner knob with the outer knob. You now have a door that cannot be locked from the inside, only from the outside. (It's not recommended that you use the outside lock, by the way. Hah.)

Ways your baby tricks you:

Problem: Now that your child can't lock herself in her room, you're still not safe. As she continues to open and shut the door, you're afraid of little fingers getting caught as it closes with a bang. She can remove doorstops, and things stuck in the door jamb slip down, not to mention that's not good for the frame.

Solution: Buy one of those cheap over-the-door hangers. They never work like they're supposed to and the door may still pinch a finger as it bounces back from the frame, but it will never shut entirely and now you have an extra spot to hang things, too.

If  you like this blog, please consider voting for me here! And if you really love me...Babble is the most important ranking to me, and I'd love you forever.  xxoo

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Teaching through Toys

"Where are we going today?" asks my husband in a deep voice while holding the Superman doll.

"Swimming! The beach!" the babies shout.

"Okay then. Let's get in the car. Come on, Supergirl! Get in the car!" My husband switches to a falsetto. "No, I want mommy to strap me in. No no no. Crying. Waaaaah. I'm going to cry!"

The babies look up, confused.

"No, Supergirl. Mommy doesn't have to always strap you in. Sometimes Daddy straps you in. If you are going to cry, we'll just stay home. Okay, fine. We're staying home."

"No!" the babies shout. "Go beach! Go beach, Supergirl!"

"Well," my husband says, "tell Supergirl that daddy can strap her in sometimes and that there's no crying."

"Supergirl, Daddy strap you. No crying. Go beach!"

And off Superman and Supergirl go to the beach to have wonderous adventures.

The next day when my husband and I took the babies somewhere, there was no crying when Daddy strapped them in. That had been a major problem up until this point. Only Mommy could strap them in. No matter what we said or did -- whether we pleaded or cajoled or threatened staying home or actually did stay home -- only Mommy could strap them in.

Taking the lesson outside of the situation allowed them to think logically about it, without being emotionally invested at the time, so that when they again found themselves in the car needing to be strapped in, they remembered calmly what had happened to Supergirl.

This has also worked for leaving the park and sitting down to eat in a restaurant. The twins see how ridiculous the obstacle is that is in the way of them having a good time in the third person. It's helping them to learn to prioritize. Slowly, they're learning to assign different levels of importance to different aspects of each trip or experience.

If you can't get a point across to your toddlers, try letting one of their toys do it for you. It's working for us, anyway.

If  you like this blog, please consider voting for me here! And if you really love me...Babble is the most important ranking to me, and I'd love you forever.  xxoo

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Preschool Problem - Part III: The Visits

School  1:
I walk into the first preschool building with a twin on each hand at 12:30 p.m. It’s a small place, three rooms total, with a small playground outside. It’s old. It’s not sparklingly clean, but it’s not dirty either. Old is the best way to describe it.
Right away, the babies busied themselves with some of the toys. Magnets, toy trucks, puzzle pieces. I filled out some information and watched the administration staff struggle uncomfortably since apparently no one had told the boss about my appointment.
They brought me through a room with a few tables where the kids would eat their lunches to a small classroom-type area currently decked out for naptime with kids (all older than the babies, who will be three in August) sleeping on mats.
The teacher was quite nice. She spoke to me about how they would concentrate on one letter a week, and one shape, etc. etc. I found that a bit odd, as my kids know their letters and shapes already, but I didn’t say anything in case I had misunderstood. I know for a fact, having been on the internet since my children were infants, that compared to most babies whose parents visit online parenting forums, my kids are not the most specialest of intelligent snowflakes. I mean, they didn’t walk until one (12 months for the online parent), they didn’t talk until two (that’s 24 months, to those unaccustomed to baby ages in years), and they only just potty trained (or should I say learned?) at 2.5 (that’s 30 months).
What I’m trying to say is that at age three, I’m pretty sure whatever curriculum the teacher provides for the children will be more important in terms of learning structure, habit, listening skills and all the other undercurrents that come from lessons, than in terms of the actual content of what they’re learning, be it multiplication or the letter a.
Anyway, I digress, the teacher said the kids get four potty breaks. She was very proud when she said this. I totally misunderstood, and thought that she meant they made the children go to the bathroom at a certain time. While potty trained, my kids can’t do that (to be honest, my kids also cannot pull up their pants or wipe their butts, either…how potty trained do they need to be? I should remember to ask next time…methinks perhaps “going on their little tiny step-stool potties in the living room when they have to go” does not equal “okay, kids, it’s time to use the bathroom, get in there and don’t forget front to back, okay?”) The school also provides their meals.
At the end of the short tour, the director discreetly wrote exorbitant pricing down on a slip of paper and placed that in a folder telling me about the school. Then she sent us on our way.

School 2:
We pushed open the purple door and we were surrounded with bigger children, running around, yelling, having fun and playing on the expansive climbing jungle gym to our right. On our left there was a snack bar, selling expensive treats. We had to sign in at the desk directly in front of us where they gave us yellow bracelets indicating we were visitors.
A very nice young woman came around to give us our tour. She brought us down a long staircase spanning three floors.
“When you sign up for preschool, you’ll come in through the back. You won’t have to go through all that.” She waved her arms in a general manner, off-handedly apologizing for the uproar that met us straight out of the gate.
I understood, though. They were in the middle of their summer camp program.  A very successful program from the looks of it.
The woman brought us first to the two-year-old / three-year-old room, which I loved. It was quiet, and a few toddlers played in the corner while a few more worked with a teacher making art. Two or three were running around quietly. The ratio was five to one. Teachers helped with the potty and gave parents daily progress reports.
But, turns out, that’s not where we would be. Since the babies were born in August, they’ll always be the youngest in every class. The cutoff is September. We moved to the three-year-old / four-year-old room.
Dozens of children ran around yelling and laughing and having a free for all as the overwrought teacher tried to calm them. She finally succeeded, but it required her full attention, so I didn’t get to speak with her. The babies played calmly with a toy farm as the ruckus went on around them.
In this room, the kids are expected to go to the bathroom by themselves. The bathroom is around the hall.  They are expected to dress and undress themselves. The changing room is around the hall. They are expected to eat independently with minimal guidance from a helper. The cafeteria is its own room in a section in the back. The ratio is 13:1.
I don’t know if my kids are ready for that, to be honest. I don’t even know if they’re ready to leave me. My husband and I tried to tell them last night that someday I’ll go back to work. The notion was so preposterous to them that they thought we were joking. “Nooooo!” they yelled in that “you’re pulling my leg” way. Then they laughed and laughed. When they stopped laughing, they came over to grab my legs and worriedly exclaimed, “My mama, my mama. No leave. No go work.”
I don’t think either of these schools is right for us, but I will keep looking. If I don’t change my kids’ routine this year, I just know I’ll end up unwittingly holding them back. They need interaction with kids their own age and interaction with adults that aren’t me. They need to learn to dress, pee and eat by themselves. They’re ready, but I wouldn’t know where to begin.
The preschool search continues.

If  you like this blog, please consider voting for me here! And if you really love me...Babble is the most important ranking to me, and I'd love you forever.  xxoo

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Mom Pledge - Guest Blog

Becoming Supermommy alerted me a while back to the Mom Pledge, an idea I really like and needed to know more about. She graciously agreed to write a post for me explaining the pledge and what it means to all of us.


I’m not the creator of the Mom Pledge.  I’m just a mom, and a champion for it.  You see, there are bullies all over the place, we just don’t usually call them that.

I remember being a kid.  I was weird.  I was awkward.  I had huge hair, gigantic glasses, and a crooked smile.  I was a teacher’s pet, a know-it-all.  I never got in trouble, I always had my hand in the air.  My family were vegetarians, so I always had strange or exotic foods (by lunchroom standards) in my lunch sack, “Vruit” juice boxes and Baybel minis replaced Capri Suns and lunchables.  I was one of a half dozen Jewish kids in my whole school, and another two were my sisters.  In short, I was bullied mercilessly.

My parents would repeat, over and over, the same explanations for why I would come home from school heartbroken and miserable.  “Kids are mean,” they’d say.  “But one day they’ll grow up and stop being so mean.”  The implication was that bullying is a childhood phenomena, and that once you outgrow your childhood, you outgrow bullying.

Nowadays, I’ve resigned myself to the idea that I’m a grown-up.  I must be, after all I’m approaching 30 at a steady pace, I have children, I do a fairly good job behaving as a responsible member of society.  I don’t always feel like an adult, but for the sake of argument I’ll agree that I am.  And I’m still being bullied.

Not by other kids, but by other moms.

At first, this seemed absolutely absurd.  Adults?  Bullying each other?  Surely not!  But they do.

Each mother is fairly certain that what they’re doing for their child(ren) is the right thing to do.  Unfortunately, many mothers don’t leave it at that.  For many mothers, the choice by another mom to parent differently is an indictment.  And in their defensive angst, they attack.

Moms gang up and bully other moms for not homeschooling.
For vaccinating or not vaccinating.
For circumcising.
For choosing to hide the gender of their children.
For raising their children in a specific faith.
For NOT raising their children in a specific faith.
For what the feed or don’t feed their kids.
For how they dress their kids.
For what they name their kids.
For the way they gave birth.
For nursing too long or not nursing at all.
For watching some or no television.
For having a family structure they don’t agree with.

Every detail of parenting is personal, and therefore every parent takes the conversation about parenting personally.  And when you get personal, things can get ugly.

It’s said that you should never talk about religion or politics in polite company.  I would add parenting to that list.  It’s a hot button topic.

But the fact of the matter is that we DO talk about parenting.  The mommy blogosphere is HUGE- there are MILLIONS of moms across the world blogging about being a mom.  Blogging about their parenting choices.

And because the internet is perfect for connecting moms to other like minded moms, it’s easy to form a mob.  Easy to organize a few moms into a horde of enraged bullies who attack another mother until she shuts down her blog, changes her aliases, or abandons the blogosphere altogether.

And that is a terrible thing.

We don’t all have to agree.  I don’t know a single mom who hasn’t made a choice for their kids that I disagree with.  Not in the real world, and not online.  And that’s because we all have to make the choices that work best for OUR lives, for OUR families.  And the fact that we make particular choices does not give us the right to attack anyone else for disagreeing with us.

That’s why I took The Mom Pledge.  And that’s why I urge you to do the same.  Pledge not to allow your online space to be somewhere that people are attacked or attack others.  Pledge to facilitate conversations, not mobs.  Pledge to treat other moms, no matter what their parenting choices, with respect.

Because we’re all moms.  We all know how hard it is.  How much work children are.  How gratifying every milestone can be, how each step they take towards maturity makes you beam with pride and still breaks your heart.  How everything you do, you do to make sure that they have a good life.  A life at least as good as your own, but hopefully better.

That’s all any of us want for our kids.  Whether we vaccinate or not, circumcise or not, home school or not, no matter what we teach them about God or Science or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. 

Our kids grow up, they go into the world and have to make friends with other people.  And they pick up lessons we don’t even know we’re giving them.  If we, as moms, attack each other, our kids will learn to attack each other.  And so on.  But if we treat each other, always, with respect and consideration, our kids will not grow into bullies.  They’ll see that grown-ups do not engage in that awful behavior, and as they have since their earliest months, they will want to make us proud by being LIKE us.

So let’s be the best examples we can be.  Let’s stand together, despite all our disagreements, for an world that is an improvement over the world in which we grew up.  Let’s take The Mom Pledge together, support each other in the exhausting and difficult endeavor of raising children, and let’s put a stop to mommy bullying.

For more information, visit The Mom Pledge.

Lea, aka Becoming SuperMommy, is a writer, painter, chef and costumer, dabbling in the all consuming chaos that is motherhood.  She and her husband try to maintain their happiness and harmony through an unceasing sense of the absurd.  The twin toddlers seem to help with that.  In a family where both parents are cancer survivors, both returning to school in the down economy, and both practicing different religions, they manage to keep things interesting enough that Lea never ceases to have something to share with her readers.  While still becoming, well, SuperMommy.

If you like this blog, please consider voting for me here! And if you really love me...Babble is the most important ranking to me, and I'd love you forever.  xxoo

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Preschool Problem - Part II: The Phone Calls

Fun fact about preschools here: Did you know the registration takes place in January? In January! For the next year. January.

See, my thought was, welp, the school year just ended, guess it's time to call for the next one.

How silly.

Thankfully, since you have to pay for your three year olds to go to school here, there are spaces left in several schools, and the administrators are all about getting their tens of thousands of dollars from me, so they didn't make too much of a fuss about it.

Still, it wasn't a great way to start the phone conversation.

"Hi, I've got twins and I'm looking into enrolling them in some preschool classes."

"Oh. Well, registration was in January, so..." (you're pretty much the laziest worst parent ever. Hahaha at trying to enroll now, you silly know-nothing mom).

"Well, they'll be three in August."

"Oh! Well, let me transfer you then. I think we still have space."

Oh, I see. So, okay, great. They have room for three year olds who are potty trained. That's us. I listen to the hold music.

"Hi, so and so daycare, can I help you?"

"I'm thinking of signing my twins up for preschool. Is this a preschool or a daycare."

"It's both."

"...oh. Well, okay, anyway, they'll be three in August. Do you have classes available."

"Yes, have you taken a tour?"

(No! Am I supposed to take a tour before I call?)

"Um, no, but I'd like to."

"Okay, great. Who else have you called?"

(What? Why is this any of your business?)

"Um, so and so, so and so, and so and so."

"Oh, well, you'll want to come to us. We're better than them."

(I swear to you, they said this. Two of them said this.)

"Okay, well, I'm looking forward to coming in, but first, could you tell me how much you charge for two days and fulltime?"

"...Don't you have any other questions first?"

(No! I do not have any other questions first. Everything is on your website. Please. Please. Please! Tell me how much you cost so I know whether or not I'm wasting everyone's time! Why is this so difficult?)

"Um, okay. What is your curriculum for younger kids?"

"It's on the website."

"Right, I saw that. Thought maybe you'd have something to add. Okay, then. How do you handle disciplining children?"

"It's on our website."

"Right. I saw that, too. Okay. Are you religious or secular?"


"Right, I know. Okay, well, how do you deal with clingers?"

"Well, that's never as much as an issue as the parent thinks it will be. The kids love it here. They won't want to come home afterward. I wouldn't even worry about it."

(Oh. Well, that was helpful. Not.)

"Okay, so how much does it cost, two days versus full ime."

"Well, it's $3,000 for two days a week. $7,000 for full time."

"Okay, thanks."

Pregnant pause.

"Don't you have any other questions?"

(Shit, I'm supposed have more questions? What am I supposed to be asking here? I really need to see the place before I get specific with my questions. Am I the worst, most uncaring mom ever, or what?)

"Well, not right now. I'd like to come in for a tour, if that's possible."

"Okay, call us next week to set up."

"Well, can't we set up now?"

"Well, we could...but I'm sure you want to call other schools first to check out your options."

(Goddamn it, no. I just want to set up a tour, please. I'd prefer you not dictate my phoning for me. Also, didn't you ask if I'd taken a tour already? This is so confusing.)

"Uh, okay. I'll do that."

So, I guess you could say I'm having an interesting experience with this preschool thing so far.

If you like this blog, please consider voting for me here! And if you really love me...Babble is the most important ranking to me, and I'd love you forever.  xxoo

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up

Monday, June 20, 2011

Toys That Aren't Toys

Toys overflowing the toybox. Toys all over the floor. Toys in the corners of the room. Toys downstairs. Toys upstairs. Toys blocking the stairs. Toys under the couches. Toys, toys, toys. But you know what's more interesting than toys? Things that are not toys.

Sometimes, my toddlers are just plain bored with every one of their millions of toys. There's not one of them that can hold their interest for more than a few moments. Bored, bored, bored, they say. Actually, to me it sounds more like, wah, waaah, waaaaahhhhhh! But the meaning is the same.

So, what do we do? Buy more toys? Yeah, right.

No, we take the classic toddler trick that's been working for generations upon generations and turn not-toys into toys. Here are some of our favorites:

1) The laundry basket. Otherwise known as a sled, a fort, a carrying device for other toys, a big pot for making pretend chocolate and a giant stepstool. The babies could play with a laundry basket all day.

2) Pots and pans and buckets, oh my! They use the loud metal ones as drums. They'll raid my silverware drawer (which consists of just spoons these days) to mix up some delicious make-believe goodies, and when those delicacies are ready for cooking, they open the bottom cabinet and use the old coffee maker and crockpot as a stove and oven.

3) Flashlights. Whether they're making shadows on the walls, following / chasing the lightbeams or searching for monsters in the dark, flashlights mean up to an hour of mommy-less fun.

4) The sliding glass door. This one is not a mom-free activity, as little fingers love staying just a moment too long on the wrong end of the door, and you don't want anyone's hand to get shut in the door. But with my supervision, the babies can delight in knocking, asking who's there, and letting her sister in or out, over and over again.

5) Feathers. This little guy fell off of my feather duster. I was just about to toss him when the babies rescued him to add to their non-toy rotation. They've discovered that tossing it into the air gives it a flying / floating effect. They take turns "flying."

There are so many more, too. I swear, I could get rid of almost all of their real toys and they wouldn't even notice. Thank goodness for toddler imaginations.

If you like this blog, please consider voting for me here! And if you really love me...Babble is the most important ranking to me, and I'd love you forever.  xxoo

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 45: Wetting the Big Kid Bed

Problem:  Even after potty training, accidents can happen. Messy, smelly, wet messes can happen. Of course, they would only happen when your waterproof mattress pads happen to be off the bed for whatever reason. So you strip the sheets and you're left with an expanding circle of urine in the middle of it.  Good morning to you, too.

Solution: Always have a pad or waterproof sheets under the regular sheets. Don't ever say to yourself, "well, they haven't had an accident in three months, I'm sure it will be fine." It will not be fine. If it's already too late for this, use an enzyme cleaner on the mattress immediately. This kind of cleaner will break up the molecules of the urine, separating them and allowing them to be more easily cleaned.

Problem: You don't have an enzyme cleaner, or any appropriate professional cleaner at all, you're in your nightwear, it's 3 a.m. and you can't just go out and get some.

Solution:  Use hydrogen peroxide. Put it in a spray bottle and mist it heavily over dirty areas. Let it foam up for a few moments, then rub it in with a scrub brush or cloth. Wait a few minutes, then cover the areas with baking soda to absorb the peroxide and the odor. Leave the baking soda on for at least ten minutes - more is better. Then use the handtools on your vacuum to suck up the remains.  I can tell you from first-hand hand experience a la five minutes ago that this works quite well in a pinch.


If you like this blog, please consider voting for me here! And if you really love me...Babble is the most important ranking to me, and I'd love you forever.  xxoo

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Preschool Problem: Part I - Should You Do It?

My kids will be three in August. They are not babies anymore. They hang out at home with me as I clean the house and do freelance work here and there. We play games, we go for walks, we play on playgrounds, we swim and explore outside...but is it enough? As I've told you before, we have separation issues, and those issues are pretty much my fault. I'm always here. They're never without me. They're never without each other. We're a dynamic threesome, but they've never experienced anything else. Is it time?

Preschool sounds better to me than daycare. There is no reason for me to use daycare. I work from home, but it's piddly work that doesn't bring in much income, and I do it in between loads of laundry and rounds of housecleaning. I certainly don't need my kids out of the house for that.

But preschool. Could they benefit from preschool? Outside learning and activities with other children their age? Adult interaction that isn't simply mommy-alla-time, mommy-all-time? They could certainly benefit from socialization. And I'm certain their potential would be realized in the hands of professionals.

Still, the questions and doubts crowded my mind as I hunkered down and did some research yesterday.

First, I questioned myself. Was I a bad mom for wanting to enroll my kids in preschool? Was I a bad mom for not wanting to enroll my kids in preschool? How was I going to justify my free time? I'd have to pick up the freelance work tenfold at least, or look for a job outside the home. If I got a job outside the home (I'm in journalism) the hours certainly wouldn't be 9-5. So preschool wouldn't even matter, even if I put them in fulltime. Doesn't that make it more hassle than it's worth? If I didn't get a job, the hours start before we start our day presently, so I'd have to shift our schedules, which is a pretty big deal around here. Is it worth it?

Then I questioned my kids. What if they were bad? What if other kids were bad? What if they hated it? What if they cried all day? What if this isn't a good thing for them, and instead will regress them. Should I put them in the hands of others when I can do it myself? What if they get sick? They're insulated here. We've hardly ever gotten sick. What if they hold this against me, and resent me?

Then I questioned the center. What if they don't follow my instructions? What if they don't care about my kids? What if they don't like my kids? What if they're lying on their website, and they enforce rules I don't agree with in ways I don't agree with? What if they don't teach my children anything? What if my children get hurt? What if they hurt my children?

But, I carried forth, and searched the sites.

They all said the same thing. They're all loving, nurturing, learning environments that will help my children grow and develop at a fast rate. They all love children. They're all, apparently, super amazing places.

They're also all, apparently, free.

Not one page had pricing.

Not one.

Are you serious with me? If you're so comfortable telling me about how awesome you are, you certainly should be comfortable enough telling me how much I have to pony up for your magical experience. Not that I would ever put a price on my child's wellbeing and future and educational development, but my price happens to be what I can afford. If I can't afford you, why waste time? Even if I visit and fall in love with your school and my children must go there, I still won't be able to afford you. So...just tell me, okay?

Finally, after spending an entire afternoon reading glowing reports of dozens of preschools in my area, I was ready to start making calls.  But that's part II.

If you like this blog, please consider voting for me here! And if you really love me...Babble is the most important ranking to me, and I'd love you forever.  xxoo

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Easier Harder

Being a parent is a constant strategizing battle. When the kids are babies, you baby proof so they don't get hurt. Gates on doors, latches on cabinets, soft rubber on corners, small and dangerous things move to top shelves. I clearly remember being scared for their lives when they first learned to climb up onto the couches. I was certain they'd fall. They didn't.

As they grow, they can do more without hurting themselves. Climbing stairs is now sport, clambering on couches isn't even fun for them anymore. It's just what they do. Their old Bumbo seats? They make excellent stepping stools to reach unattainable items that had previously been safe from searching baby hands. Every time I adjust my baby proofing to keep them safe, they adjust their tactics to get themselves into potentially dangerous situations. I adjust, they adjust, and on and on. As they become more dexterous and nimble, I am able to loosen certain restrictions, only to have to make new rules for complications that I hadn't thought of when first granting permission.

Yes,  you can now climb the stairs. Isn't it great?  No! You cannot jump down the stairs two at a time. No! You cannot slide down face first.  Yes, you can now sleep on a big bed and not in a crib. No! You can't jump on the bed or bang on the now-accessible windows. Yes, you can now drink from a regular glass. No! You can't do it in the living room. You can't hold it with just two fingers.

As things get easier for me as a parent, they get harder in different ways. An example of this is swimming.

I sometimes take my children swimming in the mornings. I have no pictures because I'm by myself and I'm too nervous to step back and snap a shot. What if something happens?  How many news stories do we hear about toddlers drowning? At the pool, it's two against one. Should one of them choose to bolt to the deep end and jump in, could I get there fast enough? Could I trust the other one to keep herself safe while I'm occupied saving the first?

These were concerns I didn't have last year. They were so small that I held them both when I took them swimming, or we played in the six inches of water in the baby pool, or they sat in those tube things with the mesh seat and just floated idly around.

Now, when I take them by myself, they wear those padded swim suits that float plus arm floaties. I don't have to hold on to them because they float. I can separate myself from them enough to teach them how to kick and move their arms in a swimming motion.

So, while swimming with them this year is harder, in a way, it's easier too. They walk willingly to and from the pool now, without my having to carry them or deal with tantrums. They don't require a million pool toys to keep them occupied, which frees my arms for hand holding through the parking lot. When we're in the pool, even though I'm right there, teaching them and helping them, it's less strenuous than holding them both and trying to keep them entertained at the same time. They entertain themselves.

I would say going to the pool is a much more enjoyable experience this year. Still just as hard, but in a different way.

If you like this blog, please consider voting for me here! And if you really love me...Babble is the most important ranking to me, and I'd love you forever.  xxoo

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Adding Some Pizzaz to that Headband

As you can tell from the title, I didn't write this one. I'm about as crafty as a foot. The crafter-extraordinaire at The Crafting Hobbit took pity on me and made matching headbands for my girls. And, let me tell you, they love them. We are going on day three of endless-headband wear. Here's they're affectionately called Bandheads for some reason, but I'm digressing. They insisted we put them on as soon as the package came in.


I love this project because it’s really simple and even something you can do with your children. Start with a fabric headband, if you don’t have one you can use my headband tutorial to make one. And if you can’t sew don’t fret you can use fabric glue instead. Fabric glue is great to have especially if you aren’t a sewer. You can use it to fix hems and tears without a needle and thread.

You’re going to need some for this project. I splurged and got myself a Crop A Dile because it also has a built in hole puncher. You can get all sorts of nifty grommets, they come in different colors and even different shapes (like stars and flowers).

Choose a pattern and the grommet colors you’d like to choose and take some tailors chalk (if you don’t have that you can use a plain pencil) and mark out your pattern.   Ask the kids what they want on their headbands or even let them mark out a pattern. 

Now you’re ready to put in your grommets.  I prefer to punch a hole where my grommet it going to go so I get a cleaner edge. Follow the recommendations on your particular pliers to get the best results.  

Once I punch a hole I put my grommet through the hole and then use my Crop A Dile. The kids can help with this part too, they’ll love squeezing the pliers together to get the grommets to stay in place.

Once you’ve completed your pattern you’re done.  This project is great for a rainy afternoon and because you can skip the sewing all together and use fabric glue everyone can make themselves a pizzazzed headband.  If you don’t like grommets you can use snaps or even buttons and glue them on your headband.

Come check out The Crafting Hobbit to check out my other crafts.
So, fabric glue! That's what I need. Because, Lord knows, I can't sew! And grommets. I didn't even know that grommet was a word for something.  Thanks, Irene, for these lovely headbands! They're excellent for keeping pesky curls out of the kids' eyes!


The Crafting Hobbit says about herself: "I'm mommy to an amazing little guy and wife to a loving (although sometimes frustrating) husband. Both of which have Asperger's. I became an Earth friendly, crunchy, granola mommy. I'm really loving my return to the simpler things in life. I knit and I've recently started sewing. I dabble in other crafts and love creating things. I tested positive for the BRCA 2 mutation and I will be undergoing a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy."


If you like this blog, please consider voting for me here! And if you really love me...Babble is the most important ranking to me, and I'd love you forever.  xxoo

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 14, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up!


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