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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kindergarten Kids - Entitlement


Your kid is entitled (and by your kid, I mean my kids). He's so entitled. You give him a toy plane (oh, I don't know, for example) and instead of saying thank you and playing with the plane, he finds some way to make an issue out of it so he can tantrum. Perhaps his sister's plane has more green on it (you know, for instance), or he can't fly it perfectly the first time he tries (like I said, just throwing things out there. Sigh.)

Or, hey, you bring your kid shoe shopping. You get her the ridiculous Princess Sophia sneakers she wants that light up a million different ways. You also pick out a pair of dress shoes, some purple low boots, and some cute knee-length boots. But the knee-lengthers weren't on sale like you thought, and you have enough shoes without them. Instead of recognizing that she now has three new pairs of shoes, and she should be over the moon about her new fashionable self, she's super upset about the one pair she couldn't get.


Never ever buy them anything again or do anything nice for them because seriously what the hell.

Okay, just kidding.

Look, they're just exhibiting patent human nature. We always want more than we have, and when we're rewarded for things, or get treats, we assume we deserve all of it and more.

As parents, we have to teach our little jerks, I mean kids, how to show gratitude.

I'm making it really simple for mine. Every time they pull this entitled crap with me now, I remind them gently what to do instead.

"Mommy just ________ for you. What is the correct response?"

Nowadays they know the answer, but I had to train them to get there. Then (hopefully) they remember themselves, say thank you and we move on.

If they don't, well, I take the toy and the shoes and whatever else they're being miserable about away. Because honestly, people. The correct response is thank you.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Thinking about Thought Bubbles - The Genius of a Kid

My child went totally philosophically meta on my yesterday. I was sitting outside, thinking about dull, adult things, sipping on my mundane Gatorade, and she came out to see me. And out of nowhere, she asked me this question:

"Mom," she said, "I'm thinking about thinking bubbles."

Mmhmm, I murmured, not particularly paying attention.

"Does that mean I have a thinking bubble inside my thinking bubble?"

And the consciousness of consciousness required to make such a statement floored me. I swear, I just grinned at her like a dumb fool for a minute before I could think of a reply.

Then, of course, like the good mother I am, I posted her genius up on Facebook. I got a great meme reply from my friend Andy, who said:

"Yo dawg, I heard you liked thought bubbles so I put a bubble in your bubble so you can think while you think."

Which is hilarious, but draws a really good point out. Repetition and patterns of inside the inside are not new. We do it with mirrors, with photographs, with that "yo dawg" guy...why has no one ever done a thought bubble inside a thought bubble?

This is perfect Bugs Bunny material here. Back when the narrator was erasing him and stuff, it goes along those lines, don't you think? Or the Road Runner running through Wile E. Coyote's painting. It all connects. But no one has done it. (At least according to my Google search.)

The closest I could find was a philosophical cartoonist in England. He did this:

Courtesy Chris Madden at

And, really, it's not the same thing. This picture shows someone thinking about a man thinking. Even if it were the man himself, thinking about himself thinking, he's placed his own image in the picture (very adult, in my opinion). My child didn't think of herself thinking. She thought of thinking. My child did this:

Go ahead and do a search. No one has ever drawn that before (at least that they put on the Internet).

I know, it seems silly, really. Ridiculous, maybe. But it's not. The intensity of thought required to come up with an original idea is staggering.

At five years old, my kid, so far as I can see, came up with an original idea.

...which puts her one ahead of me.

I'm pretty amazed.

The take home message here being, listen to your kids. Yes, they talk a lot but they're usually reasoning through things, trying to grapple with their reality and how things fit into the world they see versus what they are told about that world. And that's an important step. Not just for kids. For everyone.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Get Up, Get Out - Contributor Post

As school has started, our entire morning routine has shifted, and not in an easy-to-swallow way. Thankfully, Alex Nguyen from Alex Nguyen Portraits has done this before and she's got some great ways to get the kids up, out, and into good human beings.


School normally starts up around here after Labor Day. With the beginning of school, begins also the morning struggle of getting my boys ready and out the door on time in the morning. I have two kids going to two different schools, so it took everything I had to keep my sanity from reminding them of the same things every. single. day. They could recite whole episodes of Curious George, but not remember to brush their teeth in the morning without a reminder. Times two! Fortunately, I instituted a morning chart routine a couple of years ago when my oldest started kindergarten, and it's really streamlined our whole morning process. Now, instead of me getting frustrated that, yet again, I'm reminding him to go pee and brush his teeth, I just redirect him to check out his morning chart, and he can look and cross off what he needs to do. It's been a sanity saver, and let's me make a cup of coffee in the morning so I can get going with my day.

The second thing which also helps in our household is a chore chart. I downloaded a template and laminated the different chores and velcroed it to the chart. I love it because there are things that need to be done such as feeding the pets, practicing spelling, not fighting with their brother, etc. that isn't necessarily a chore that I want to reward. The template has a "morning", "afternoon", and also a "to earn" column. In our household, I give out chore coupons for completed chores in the "To Earn" column. One coupons = one quarter OR 30 minutes of screen time. Each boy gets their own chore chart to complete, with age appropriate chores. It really helps gives them a sense of responsibility, and also gives me a chance to redirect them to being helpful (and in the older son's case, making sure his homework is completed, he has practiced his soccer skills or tae kwon do poomses). In the long run, kids who *want* to be helpful get to be, things get done, and sanity gets saved. It's a win, win for everyone!

Project Links: Morning Responsibility Chart Template for Chore Chart (.PDF File)
This is the responsibility chart I have for both my kiddos. It's SO helpful in the morning because I can just tell them, "Go look at your chart!" instead of nagging at them in the morning. The step-by-step tutorial I found on here. To make your own you will need: corrugated cardboard, paper, bamboo skewers, and a straw.

My older son's chart reads: wake up, go pee, brush teeth/puffer, eat breakfast, get dressed, pack back pack (includes homework AND lunch). This is simple stuff that needs to be done every day! My younger son has pictures since he can't read yet.
Here is the chore chart I have for both my boys, I downloaded the template from Home School Creations (it's a .PDF file, free to download!). I laminated mine, and then put velcro on the backside. I like this template because it has morning, afternoon, and also a "to earn" column, because I want my boys to have automatic things to do that aren't just for money (such as feeding their pets). It also has pictures AND words so both kids can look at it and understand what it asks.
What the velcro looks like, it's very easy to adjust around. When the boys are done with a chore, they put it "upside down" on the chore chart to let me know that it's been finished (easily done with velcro).
I got my squares from Home Depot, but you can also buy them from places like Lakeshore Learning, or
Some of the different chore squares the printable template came with! It also came with some blank ones where you can make your own.
In our househole, one chore in the "to earn" column equals one chore coupon. The value is 25 cents OR 30 minutes of screen time, whichever they want.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Day All the Fucks Were Gone - Guest Post

A while back I was having a conversation with some online friends and most of us were complaining (me at the forefront) about how very few fucks we had left to give. Monika, over at pointed me to a post she'd written about it a while before that, and said I could use it at any time. I'm calling that in now, on a day when my very last fuck has also been given.

Pardon my french, but I'm only telling it as it is. 

Back before I had my son, I had many, many f*cks.  So many f*cks I couldn't even count them.  My cup runneth over with f*cks.  If you had asked me to give a f*ck, I could have given you dozens and it wouldn't have left a dent. 

And then the onslaught of f*cks began.  

A few of my f*cks went to worrying constantly that something would happen to him while I was pregnant. Ok that's a lie, I gave many f*cks at that time.  

Many f*cks went toward researching vaccinations and birth.  Many more were given to learning about Attachment Parenting, and planning on how I was going to be the most perfect parent ever and how I would, in turn, be given the perfect child.  During this time I gave an abundance of f*cks to things that were really needless and careless ways to give f*cks; other people's parenting choices were a big one.  Looking back, I think I could have prevented all of this if only I had kept my f*cks to myself on that one.  

Anyway, before I knew it, I was bleeding f*cks.  A super ton of f*cks went into breast feeding and co-sleeping.  More went into not giving him sugar and junk food.  Before I knew it, I was giving a f*ck at every twist and turn of my life, as this roller coaster of parenting continued to get faster and faster and faster.  

Then my kid started to leave babyhood and enter toddlerhood.  He started to express himself, and started saying "no" all the time.  He started protesting things like what he wanted to eat (or not eat), what he wanted to wear (or not wear), etc.  Tantrums started to happen.  Screaming started to happen. I was giving a few f*cks here and there for a while, but over time, it seemed like I was able to give fewer and fewer.  

I don't know the exact date or time it happened, but at some point I can only assume something came along and sliced me open and all my f*cks came pouring out of me.  I was hemorrhaging f*cks.

I started experiencing a serious f*ck deficit.

Now here I am, almost entirely unable to give a single f*ck sometimes.  To be perfectly honest, parenting has driven me to this and I've come to terms with it.  The truth is, in a lot of ways, it's made me a way better parent.  At the same time, it's always nice to have a few f*cks on hand, just in case.  

Now things like this happen to me and because I have so few f*cks to give, it's all good:

Child refuses to walk, pretends to be homeless on busy sidewalk.  Elderly folk glare at me about my horrible parenting abilities.

Child has fit in grocery store because I won't buy him Sunny Delight, which he's never even had before and I'm pretty sure would put him into a diabetic coma.

Child eats goldfish crackers off floor pretending to be a cat.

Child empties drawer, completely unrolls million foot long roll of wax paper. I had to clean that up, you know!

Child refuses to walk (again).  Won't be put in carrier, refuses stroller. Thinks he can hide behind pole because he doesn't understand physics.

Child wears pants never.  Has tantrum and falls asleep under kitchen table. This is because he didn't want to wear pants, but required orange juice, which we didn't have, and insisted we go to the store to buy it but only if he could go with no pants.
Child refuses to walk, basically attempts break and entering into the yard of a complete stranger.
At this point you are probably like "where are you going with this, Monika, is it good to have f*cks or not!?! Make up your mind!"

Ok, ok:

The moral of my story here is that you should hold on to your f*cks if you can.  You should have f*cks for sure, but you shouldn't be giving them all the time.  A f*ck doesn't have to be given about every little thing. Sometimes f*cks are necessary, and while it feels like you should give a ton of them, maybe you should really only give one.  If you are giving f*cks all the time, you will eventually run out of f*cks.  Then you just turn into an asshole. 

Right now I'm in the process of slowly regrowing my f*cks.  As they regenerate, I'm very careful about how I give them.  For example, if other people parent differently than me, that's not really worth a f*ck.  If my kid is about to run into traffic, that's worth as many f*cks as I can muster.  

Don't worry too much about me with regard to this; I've learned my lesson and now I'm just really careful about when I give a f*ck.  It would be nice to have my f*ck stores replenished but since I was so careless with them for so long I recognize that may take some time.  

I'm sorry if this post has offended you, but you will understand when I say that I can't give a f*ck.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Three Fine Ways to Avoid Bum Bum Germs - Guest Post

Today, I'm blessed to have a post from the queen of clean herself, Jo from Poop on a Hot Tin Slide. While many people think they're clean enough, truth is, they're really...not. So she's got a few ways to be even more cleanly in your living, and, of course, avoid the bum-bum germs.


We pick up bum-bum germs all day long, on our hands, our shoes, our cell phones, our purses, and so forth. But there are three big things you can do to remedy this nasty situation.

First: Take off your shoes when coming home. Do you ever think about the things you are tracking in? Dirt, bird poop, squirrel poop, dog poop, spit, gum, bum-bum germs galore. Would you lick the bottom of your shoes? I'm guessing that 99% of you would not, although I am excluding the Deep South from my facts and figures. So why would you walk on your floors and carpets or curl up on your bed or couch with your shoes on, and expect your kids to crawl, lie, or play on those now-yucky surfaces? Taking your shoes off at the door will prevent SO much muck from coming in, and hey, you won't have to clean your carpets as much. If you have a baby who is scooting or crawling, this is especially important. Because, groce.

Second: Wash your hands upon arriving home. After, naturally, taking off your shoes. Think of everything you touch while you are out: Shopping carts, gas pumps, doorknobs, escalator rails, your steering wheel, your cell phone, money, people's hands, restaurant salt & pepper shakers, and so forth. Maybe you even went to the doctor today and touched things that other sick people touched. Everything you can think of is crawling with germs. Colds, flu, fecal matter. Yummo. So as soon as you are home, lather up. Just get rid of all those things you've touched in the big scary world. Start fresh. This makes me feel like my home is a safe haven, free of the majority of "outside germs." If you're bringing your kids home from school, it's especially important to wash their hands, because school is a hotbed of disgustery.

Third: Never, ever put your purse or bag or wallet on the counter. Handbags are teeming with germs. They are dirtier than a toilet. Your purse handle touches everything you touch. You often place it on the floor of restaurants as you eat, or movie theaters as you get your World War Z on; it accompanies you to the public toilet and you handle it after doing your biznass; etc. The strap of your purse, the bottom of your purse, and the inside of your purse is filth-laden. Clean it on the regular, and never, EVER plop it on the kitchen counter along with your keys when you get home.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Recipe Monday - Ham and Lentil Soup

Look, there's just no way to make this look appetizing. But it's delicious, so I tried my best.

1 cup dried lentils
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups diced cooked ham
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
32 ounces chicken broth
1 cup water
8 teaspoons tomato sauce

In a 3 1/2 quart or larger slow cooker combine the lentils, celery, carrots, onion, garlic and ham. Season with basil, thyme, oregano, the bay leaf and pepper. Stir in the chicken broth, water and tomato sauce. Cover and cook on Low for 11 hours. Discard the bay leaf before serving.

Boom. That's it. You're done. It's so good, lasts forever, and we served it with grilled cheese. Yes.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kindergarten Kids - Self Fulfilling Prophecies


Your kids are crying, so you tell them to stop. Or, your kids are laughing so you tell them to stop, not because you don't want them to laugh, but because you don't want them to cry, which usually happens about .87 seconds after they start laughing. Or your kids are shouting gleefully and you tell them to stop, not because you don't want them to have fun but because you don't want them to cry which usually happens 1.35 seconds after they start shouting gleefully. Or your kids are running around having fun so you tell them to stop, not because you don't want them to have fun and use up their energy, but because you don't want them to cry...see where I'm going with this?

Or, your kid spills something and you let out an exasperated sigh, not because she spilled something, but because you assume she's going to cry about it, make it into the biggest deal in the world. Because that's what she does. But she hears your sigh and then uses that to cry over, possibly tying the two together in a way you didn't mean. "When I spill things, I exasperate mommy." Which isn't true, only it looks like it is. Even an adult would connect the two because no one is a mind reader.

That's important to remember. No one is a mind reader. Not even you.


Try to break yourself out of the habit of "cutting things off at the pass" or "nipping things in the bud." If it's been a while, your kids might surprise you by acting like normal human beings with just minimal guidance in a way they would have six months ago. But they're not going to get that chance, nor are they going to learn to handle their emotions / business by themselves if you intercede before they've even had a chance to figure out what's going on.

And if you're interfering with a negative mindset, they are, of course, going to react to that, just as much, if not more than they would have reacted badly to the original scenario in the first place.

I just figured out I was doing this myself this week, after the girls blissfully went to kindergarten, giving me a half second to be out of the situation and view it objectively. I think by giving them the benefit of the doubt, they are learning valuable coping skills that I was blocking from them previously simply because I could not with them any more.

If you assume the worst of your kids, even if they have given it to you in the past, you'll never get a chance to see the best.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Slice of Life - Rings

In honor of my five-year wedding anniversary last week, I asked people to post pictures of their rings (any rings!) that they were wearing right then. And the results? Amazing. Here are the rings people from all over the world were wearing on the Friday afternoon of August 16th, 2013:

Tiffany Hunter wears rings on both hands! In her first spot, she's got her gorgeous wedding ring.

Sascha Fernandez's college ring is full of history and legend.

Sandi Yu sports a gorgeous three-stoned ring.

Melissa Elfers goes traditional and beautiful.

Liz Hawksworth goes for a spellbinding stone.

Lauren Kerr's ring looks like its in the glossy pages of a magazine. Well done, Lawrence.
Two in a row from my hometown! Jolene Bauckman shows off the prettiest set.
Jen Mayer wears dice and wedding rings!
Jepeczenka Svadakovic's ring is an art deco meteorite ring. Read that again. Seriously. Coolest.

Gina Storozuk never takes hers off.

I love Emily Santanella's set. This is what I would want.

Cassandra Gill's ring is a present from her birth mother, hand crafted by her stepfather.

Never a dull moment with Anne Theriault.
Alyssa Lord, y'all. Bam.

Alex Nguyen's displays beautiful design work.
Alicia Helyer's ring is super sleek and classy.

Amanda Lewin with a kickass thumb piece.

Angie Birney - beautiful and classic.
Blair Celli with the ring her wife gave her on her wedding day. Aww.
Cheryl Russel, who's been married 15 years, now!
Alison Gayton with a wedding ring and her grandmother's ring.

Amber Ashgardens shows up because she does what I tell her to do. LOL
Angie Pugh with an absolutely stunning and unique ring.
Carrie Masters prefers a sapphire, and with good reason--it's gorg.
This is mine.  I love it,
Donnelle Belanger-Taylor with such a beautiful set.
Emma Wade with a classic.
Erin Newton with some tasteful pizzazz!
Greg Elfers, who proposed to his wife just steps away from where his dad proposed to his mom--unknowingly, too!

Janel Copeland is sleek and smooth.
Jennifer Kappert's is just perfect.

Jennifer Upton with a wowser!
Joan Harris and her husband. Breathtaking.
Joella Striebel doesn't have an engagement ring...because she proposed to him! Take that, gender norms.
Judith Hunter. BOOM.
Kylie and Jared Rogers. For lyfe.
Leanna Minch, who has to be careful those pointy edges don't get her baby!
Lisa Cuellar. I love this one.
Maryanne Luther's fits together just perfectly.
Myra Menchaca's is forever.
Moira Parker has worn this one from her boyfriend, Rob, for ten years now.

Raina Sadi rarely wears this ring...because she also has a ring tattoo!
Sarah Stanford's glorious classic cut and set.
Sarah Tormey's beautifully patterned band.
Tanya Noreen's expresses her personality perfectly!
Told you she'd be back! Tiffany Hunter wears this gorgeous mother's ring on her right hand.
Tobi Wolf with an amazing accented set.
And last, but certainly not least, Tracey Baker Birch stands out, too.

I really love these segments, guys. They are so incredibly interesting and beautiful. Thank you for sharing your hands, your rings and your stories with me.


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