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Parenting FAIL Friday: Look, Mommy! Gloves!

There are certain phrases every parent hates hearing. The ones that make you cringe, and steal just a little piece of your soul. Phrases like, “(CRASH) Sorry mom!” Or, “Mommy! Come see what’s in the toilet!” Or “(CRASH) I’m okay!”

We cringe because we know – we know that somewhere, deep within the bowels of the earth the kitchen, something has been destroyed. Your cell phone just took a swim in the porcelain pool. Grandma’s bread dish just served its last family dinner. Your good necklace isn’t your good necklace anymore.

At this point, I should just know. I should know that, “Look, Mommy!” generally precedes them showing me something I very much do not want to see.

But I don’t know. I haven’t learned yet. Which is why when Smush called for me asking me to look at her gloves, I didn’t worry.

I should have worried.

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You know what that is? Fluff. Sticky, messy, good-luck-getting-that-off-anything, marshmallow fluff. I’ve purchased this exactly twice in 9 years because it’s basically sugary chemicals. So what happens when I get the kids a treat? This.

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And this. That’s the play kitchen in the toy room.

No treats for you.

Parenting FAIL Friday: Manners are so important.

One day last week, my Dad-in-law came over for a last-minute dinner. He had spent the morning deep-sea fishing, and supplied the freshest sea bass I have ever tasted. That has no significance to this post, but it was *that* yummy.

At one point during dinner, we were talking about his candy stash that he keeps in his office at the church (he’s the head pastor). He has a little jar that he keeps full of sweet treats, for when pint-sized visitors (aka, his granddaughters) come calling. The problem is, they’re not that great at keeping candy a secret, and before he knew it, random kids were poking their heads into his office and swiping the goods without even saying hello or asking.

I actually think, on one hand, that this is kind of adorable. He’s the kind of pastor who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. Literally. He’s done nursery duty before. And the kids pick up on that, which makes them feel loved and accepted. And comfortable enough to just waltz into his office unannounced.

He caught one little tyke red-handed, and simply told him that before he takes candy, he should ask politely.

And there I sat, nodding in agreement, noting how manners really are important, and children should know the importance of them.

And then I walked into the dining area and found this:

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That would be Smush, diving face first into a stick of butter.

Manners are so important.

A letter to new parents: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Part 1

I have a friend who just gave birth to seriously one of the most perfect babies ever. Squee! Friends with babies are the best thing ever because you get to hold squishy balls of love and joy, and then give them back and go home and sleep.

I also have a few friends who are on the road to fostering-to-adopt, and during a heart-to-heart with one of them, I realized that parents waiting to adopt their first child are just like parents waiting for the birth of their first child in one particular way - they all freak out.

This is where I point and laugh.

Kidding. Sort of.

I’ve been around the block a few times with this parenting thing. I’m sitting from that place where I know better about some things, and I know absolutely nothing about the rest. But one thing I do know: there are so many, many things we freak out over that we don’t need to. So, in honor of my friends and parents-to-be, I give you:

The List of Things Not To Worry About

  • Bottle v. breast. Some experts may want to smack me right now, and I know several crunchy granola moms that are probably strangling me through the screen, but do you know what breastfeeding and/or formula are for? Feeding your baby. And do you know what they both do? Feed your baby. I breastfed all three of my girls, and I totally agree that if possible, it has benefits formula simply cannot offer. But. I have personally encountered far too many new moms, crying themselves to sleep because breastfeeding just isn’t working. Sweetie, you’re feeding your baby. YOU WIN. No matter how you do it, you’re taking care of your child, and that’s your job. They know you’re holding them and meeting their needs. That makes you their favorite. 

    In a few months, you won't be worrying about what brand of diapers to buy. You'll be trying to figure out how the heck this happened in the time it took to pee.

    In a few months, you won’t be worrying about what brand of diapers to buy. You’ll be trying to figure out how the heck this happened in the time it took to pee.

  • Which brand of diaper? Universal answer to this question: The one that holds the poop in. Super fancy brand with cartoon characters and lace trim? Rock on. I opted for the buy-in-bulk brand because we may or may not have gone through so many that Punkin’s very first nickname was Sergeant Poopy Pants. Just saying. Some people swear by Pampers. I hated them. I adored the Target brand. Others hated them. Find a pair that mostly holds the poop in, and you’re good. Disclaimer: No diaper always holds the poop in. I kind of see it as a milestone in parenting when you first have to cut a onesie off because it’s so full of poop. We had to do that with each of ours to avoid poop getting in their eyes/ears/every other orifice. So new parents: Try them out. See what you like. Always bring scissors and an extra onesie. You’re welcome.
  • Waking them up to feed them. There are absolutely situations where a baby’s weight is at a critical point and feeding them is basically all you think about. However, all three of my girls were healthy weights at birth. My skinny minnie Goo topped the charts at 8 lb 2 oz. She’s lucky I delivered her, since I told my children in utero that 8 lb was my limit. Anyway. The doctors all told me to wake them up every 2-3 hours to feed them. I did this exactly ZERO times. Punkin slept through the night from birth. (Don’t hate me, because I now have a kid with cancer, and I would totally rather have been extra tired and avoided this.) She slept 7-8 hours straight through the night from day one, and was consistently in the 95th percentile for height. I don’t think she was malnourished. And I wasn’t a zombie. Win win.

This is only the beginning. I mean that in every way possible – this is only the beginning of your parenting journey. It’s only the beginning of finding 482 million things to worry about. And it’s literally the beginning of this post. Part 2 comes soon. Try to contain yourself.

Parenting FAIL Friday: A destructive, yet photographic, journey.

If you’ve read my about page, you know that Smush is basically joy and life balled up into an adorable package of wonderfulness.

That, and she breaks things. All the things. My family now lovingly refers to her as Wreck-It-Ralph because she so passionately enjoys breaking things. Yesterday I tried to have coloring time with my littles. Smush waited for Goo and I to color, then scribbled on our pictures. She doesn’t want to scribble on her own paper. We’ve tried that. She wants to ruin ours. Every. single. time.  This is all she wants to do. We build towers, she knocks them down. We paint pictures, she leaves hand prints all over them. She likes to destroy things.

Side note: Are there toys or activities that embrace this? Because most “girl” toys seem to think they all want to cover the world in glitter and rainbows, and I’m pretty sure Smush would rather, you know, blow it up.

She’s had multiple episodes of this mass destruction over the past few weeks. Some of which I forgot to photograph because I was so blinded by rage. Like the time she proudly announced, “Mommy, come look at your new rug! It’s blue and sparkly!” She dumped an entire tube of glitter glue on my new shag area rug. So you know, there’s that. And all of these:

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This is the opening to the old central vacuum line in the house we rent. Shoved inside is an old pizza crust. I’m not sure what else we would find in there, but I’m really glad it doesn’t turn on.

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This is Goo’s most beloved sweatshirt of all time. In my grandmother’s toilet. Nice, Smush. Real nice.

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This is a bathtub full of water. In it are a few of Punkin’s books. The ones she reads over and over again. Or at least used to.

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If your car is making weird noises, make sure the mechanic checks for sparkly pink headbands shoved in the grill. You’ll thank me later.

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These are my most favorite wooden spatulas. The ones I splurged on and ordered from Pampered Chef because they’re bamboo and wonderful. I couldn’t find them for 3 weeks. Probably because I forgot to look under the leaf pile in that weird tunnel thing in the backyard. Silly me.

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This is a toy phone. It was purchased in Mexico nearly 30 years ago, when I was a little minion. It survived play and abuse from me, Punkin, and Goo. Smush’s first encounter with it? This happened.

What can I say? She has a gift.

Mother’s Day: Nailed it.

Posted on

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. I have to say, this might have been my favorite one yet, because it was so completely…us.

To kick things off, I took this idea from Rants From Mommyland and ran with it. I contacted a local shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. I chatted with a lovely woman about what these heroes might need, and then I got some friends in on my plan. We bought all kinds of girly items that you don’t even think about when you’re busy fighting for your/your child’s lives. We filled 15 gift bags with mani/pedi kits, make-up, lotion, flip-flops, pajama pants (because that’s all we really ever want to wear), loofahs, fancy moisturizing razors, and lip gloss. Punkin labeled each bag with a little note that said, “To: A hero,” and I bought a mega box of crayons, ginormous paper, and lots of snacks for the kiddos at the shelter. My aunt has donation connections and also added 12 towel sets for the shelter itself, which they were super happy to get. Which made me super happy. bags

The girls and I formed an assembly line and stuffed our bags, and the whole family drove to the office for the shelter together on Saturday afternoon. Dropping off those bags was hands-down my favorite Mother’s Day activity ever, and the Nerd and I already decided that this will be an annual tradition. Plus, my girls got to see nail polish and lipstick and not beg for it/paint my furniture, so that’s a bonus.

Sunday kicked off with the Nerd getting out of bed with the girls so I could “sleep.” This never actually works, but I have a particular loathing for mornings, and laying in bed is always impossible nice. He made me coffee, which was all I really wanted. Hot, not-made-by-me-in-a-delirious-stupor, coffee. The girls had spent the evening before frantically working on a ginormous picture that I wasn’t supposed to know about. Even thought they pulled out the markers and craft paper in front of me and loudly yelled, “DON’T LOOK AT THIS!” Subtle.

I slowly drank my heavily – heavenly? both. – caffeinated beverage, and hopped in the shower. The Nerd had to go do Nerdy things at church, like set up video/audio/Spanish translation stuff for service, and left the girls strict instructions to let Mommy have an interruption-free morning.

Naturally, Smush kicked and screamed at the door to the bathroom half the time I was in the shower.

When I got out, dripping wet in my bathrobe, I found what every mother looks for on Mother’s Day: her three-year-old, sitting on the floor, with an industrial sized container of Elmer’s glue and a paint brush. If you look closely at the upper left corner of my picture, you can see the  remnants of the dried glue puddle and the smeared marker. But not one to stick with just one medium, Smush was sure to use both her hands and the brush to paint not just the paper, but the hardwood floor as well. Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Nerd came home to get the girls ready for our brunch at church (thank God in heaven) and I got to straighten my hair and do fancy make-up with no interruptions. Except when Goo needed to wash her hands. And when she needed a tissue. And when Smush’s bow fell out of her hair. Anyway.

Beginning before we left the house, and for 15 minutes after arriving at the brunch, Goo whined about being hungry. Her eating is critically important, so I was super happy she was hungry, but I can’t make them start serving the food any faster, so after calmly explaining several times, my patience was wearing thin. I finally lost my mind and turned around, pointed my Mommy finger, and snapped, “Knock it off. I can’t make them serve the food, I got you juice, now stop. whining. at. me.” IMMEDIATELY after I finished, the pastor had apparently been making an announcement about how amazing all the moms are, and the congregation erupted in applause. Umm, thanks? Should I take a bow? It’s really taken me years to perfect that tone. You’re welcome.

We finished up at church, headed out to pick up our wedding rings at the jeweler which were getting resized, and to kill some time before having a fabulous dinner with family.

And one of my favorite parts, we rounded out the day with the Mother’s Day cards Punkin is becoming famous for.

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Do you see a theme? I’m basically awesome and … tired. She pretty much nailed it.

From this (tired) Mediocre Mom to you, Happy Mother’s Day!

Parenting FAIL Friday: A healthy dose of normal.

When tragedy strikes, and you’re going to be in the trenches for the long haul, the first thing that teachers/psychologists/child life specialists tell you is how critical it is to keep things as normal as possible. Every fiber of your being wants to lavish them with gifts and lollipops and magical unicorns, but if you do that not only will you have a gremlin on your hands, but you will remove the sense of security they gain from routine, discipline, and seeing that life goes on. Even with cancer.

The Nerd and I are trying very hard to do this. Goo still gets punished. The girls still have chores. They still have to eat their vegetables (although Goo’s are now slathered in butter to fatten her up). I still lose my ever-loving mind on at least a weekly basis. It’s all very healthy.

Smush is doing her part to keep things normal, too. In an attempt to obviously make Goo feel as secure as possible, she has whole heartedly embraced her role as the toddler force of destruction that one would expect from an almost three-year-old. Insider tip: Three is much, much worse than two. She’s almost there. God help me, she’s almost there.

The other day I heard her happily singing a song in the living room. I decided to peek in and listen for the lyrics, at which point I found her throwing my brand new pillows and blanket all over the room, merrily announcing:

I loooooove making messes, I love making messes!

Ahem. I’m aware. That’s why it’s taken Mommy and Daddy almost TEN YEARS to finally get something just a little bit decorative in the living room. Something that isn’t a stained or broken sofa. Or a brand new ottoman that is busted beyond repair two weeks after I purchase it. Ten years, girlfriend. Put. Those. Pillows. Back. Now. I dream of a brand spanking new, leather sectional. But that’s a HUGE ticket item, so I will continue waiting. But in the meantime, keep your grubby little hands off my pillows. Kapeesh?

Goo and Punkin got a kick out of her little display, so she decided to up the ante a few days later. She bounded out of the bathroom on a Wednesday morning exclaiming, “Mommy, I brush-ded my hair!”

Indeed she did. With a toothbrush. And toothpaste. All up in there. What is it with this kid and toothbrushes?

I basically have my very own little Stitch. This clip is, in essence, what Smush is like on a daily basis. Just to be clear, Stitch is not the adorable little girl in this movie. It’s the creature of mass destruction.

Welcome to my life.

Parenting FAIL Friday: I get paid for this.

I have mentioned that I scored a sweet work-from-home gig that lets me make a little extra cash while still wrangling my rabid howler monkeys.

A friend is paying me to watch her two-year-old.

Stifle that laughter, please. I’m actually kind of awesome at it. And by awesome I mean no one has suffered serious bodily harm.

But we do fun things like  coloring projects. And yesterday I totally took one for the team and bundled us all up for outside time. In the blistering windy cold of winter. This had nothing to do with the fact that I needed the children to not be fighting in the walls of my home. Or that I may or may not have caught the two toddlers (mine and hers) physically fighting over a high chair, and swinging it around the living room trying to grab it from one another.

Toddler squabbles aside, it’s been kind of perfect. Curls (the second toddler – who has a full head of halfway-down-her-back black ringlets) is a very enthusiastic cleaner, and God knows Smush needs some work in that department. Plus it’s like a crash course in sharing for everyone involved, and I imagine that will be helpful once school days roll around for this brood. Either that or they will have learned how to go Jackie Chan on anyone that takes their pencil sharpener.

And even though they make messes, we use teamwork to clean them up.

Confession: I totally blew it in this department early on. Too often I gave in and cleaned up myself because I got sick of the tantrums. When it’s four against one, you can’t win. So you have to learn to stick to your guns and get all hands on deck. And I’ve been nailing it.

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That’s sugar. From my sugar bowl. That Smush and Curls emptied into their play sink to “cook.”

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Oh look, they were stirring with Goo’s brand new paint brush from Christmas.

And because no toddler fiasco is complete without grinding tiny granules of insect-attracting food pellets into the carpet, I give you this.

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As an added bonus, they painted Curls’ pants. In sugar. Which, upon putting them in time-out for taking food and dumping it out, they licked off with their fingers while they happily giggled in their chairs.

I get paid for this.

Parenting FAIL Friday: You’re going to want to replace that.

As you may know, we’re attempting to potty train Smush. It’s going swimmingly. And by swimmingly, I mean it’s been a couple of weeks, she hasn’t peed in the potty once, and she’s now trying not to drink because I was an idiot and told her drinks help us go pee pee. Smush – 1, Mediocre Mom – 0.

The other night we marched her into the bathroom, armed with her Dora potty seat, two potty books, and the patience of a saint. She promptly proceeded to pee before her jammies were off. Super.

We sat her on the potty anyway, because that’s what you do. You sit them on the potty to associate peeing with the toilet. As you can tell, it’s been working fabulously.

She sat there for a while, talking, singing, generally keeping herself amused. The Nerd stepped out for a second to chat with me, but stopped halfway through a sentence to begin the following conversation:

Nerd: …I need a new toothbrush.

Me: Huh?

Nerd: *glancing toward Smush* I need a new toothbrush.

(We see Smush, vigorously scrubbing…her feet. Her dirty little feet. With the Nerd’s toothbrush.) 20130121_183854 (1)

Me: It’s not that bad. I can sterilize it. It’s just her…

(We again see Smush, no longer scrubbing her feet, but her, umm, nether regions.)

Me: Yes, yes you are definitely going to need a new toothbrush.

I guess it’s good that she’s listening when I tell her about cleaning head to toe at bath time. Right? And about how important it is to brush our teeth, although she’s slightly off on her anatomy.

Has anyone noticed that these stories are not in most parenting books? Hoards of novels on proper nutrition, behavioral development, and socialization, but nobody says, “When your kid cleans their derriere with your toothbrush, we recommend the following course of action.”

Show me a parenting book on what to do when your preschooler starts putting stick-on boobs on her stuffed animals, and I might be interested. Parenting experts my foot.

Parenting FAIL Friday: If my kids made the rules.

I read this post a while back on Rants From Mommyland, and was inspired to ask my kids what they thought our family rules should be. Warning: If you do this, your kids are probably going to say the opposite of whatever you’ve taught them. Because that’s how parenting works: You spend years instilling core values, only to have them fly out the window when they get the freedom to eat cookies for breakfast.

A few things happened while we were writing up our rules. Firstly, I realized that Smush has no idea what a rule is. 

Secondly, Punkin pretty much took the opposite of whatever I tell her, and made it a rule. Super. It’s always encouraging to know that the almost-decade you’ve spent training, teaching, encouraging, and disciplining is probably going to fly out the window. I place emphasis on healthy eating, and don’t just stick with, “Eat your vegetables.” I teach the girls about nutrition, why it’s important, how different foods help our bodies. This is all clearly evidenced in the very first rule the girls thought of.

Lastly, Goo surprised me, and not only did she echo some of my own rules, but she centered hers around quality family time. No idea where she gets that from.

I strongly encourage you to ask your own kids what they think family rules should be. It’s not just good for a laugh, but may actually give you a glimpse that you’re maybe doing something kind of right. Except for the ones that are opposite your actual rules. Those may need some work.

  1. Eat ice cream every single day. But not on hot days because it melts.
  2. Don’t paint on the walls.
  3. Umm, I want pink.
  4. Do whatever you want before you do your homework.
  5. Go fishing, because we never get to go fishing.
  6. Umm, lots of yucky things. But I don’t like worms.
  7. We can snuggle whenever we want.
  8. I like cookies and marshmallows.
  9. You have to read for at least 30 minutes every day.
  10. Go to Grandma’s for sleepovers all the time. And go to Meema and Peepa’s all the time, too.

Nobody mentioned violence, Bratz dolls, or boy bands, so I think I can give myself a pat on the back for this one.

Before and after kids: Christmas card photos.

It’s that time of year again. Where houses are filled with crackling fires, hot cocoa, colored lights, and empty threats about Santa not bringing presents. Which also means – it’s time for Christmas cards. And that means getting a photo for said cards. Which, when you’re trying to capture holiday joy on the faces of small children, often requires patience. And bribery. And wine.

I’ve been perusing holiday photos from all our friends who don’t have kids (yet – muahaha), and realizing how relaxing different that must be. Husband, wife, outfit changes because not only do you own more than one Christmas-appropriate ensemble, but you can change without tiny people throwing the door open and revealing your business to the photographer. The Nerd and I never had that chance. Our first Christmas together I was pregnant with Punkin and puking. A lot. No idea why that never shows up on a Christmas card. And obviously every year after that, there was a kid in tow.

Side note: sarcasm aside, I LOVE our Christmas cards. The Nerd, and our amazing photographer friend whom I shall lovingly refer to as Audrey Hepburn because she’s classically beautiful and looks amazing in everything and if she weren’t so nice you’d want to hate her, take amazing photos of my children. The candid shots always capture the sheer joy of Christmas during childhood, and make me forget that Smush pooped on the rug that morning.

Anyway. Christmas photo shoots with kids look very, very different. Kind of like this:

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