Wednesday, December 30, 2009
After more than 6 years and $10,000, potty training is complete. Am I sad that my kids are growing up? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
There are times in my life when I reach in my bag to find a pen and I pull out five juice boxes, cookie crumbs, scratched sunglasses, and some receipts. Then, there are the times when I pull out the pen.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
So, I was talking to my son's first grade room mother (no, it's not a legally binding relationship) about the upcoming class' Holiday-Mas party on the last day of school before the Winter-Mas Break (tomorrow at the time of this writing).

I was volunteering to do my part and in a flight of whimsy about classroom parties of my youth said, "it should be fun. At least, I hope they have more fun than the Halloween Fall party. Party days were so fun at school!"
To which she replied, "what do you mean?"
And I said, "well, they all just sat in their chairs and had to be quiet." (They had a sub that day, so I thought that was the reason why it was dull.)
To which she said, "They have to sit down or they will get in trouble."
Me: "Huh?"
She: "It would be dangerous and disrespectful for them to be out of their chairs. Someone would come and tell them to sit down."
Me: "Huh!? That's ridiculous. They should play some games. They are old enough to be told that they have to play at an appropriate level."
She: "Oh, no. They can't take that risk."


(A photo from the Falloween Party.)

Not only that, but there is nary a speck of sugar on the list of food items being brought in for the party!!!!!!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Ah, I bet that word conjures up many a happy memory for most of my readers. And even if getting trashed didn't end up exactly like you planned one night, I bet it didn't end up like this (unless you are REALLY unlucky, that is):





Now this is not my first "messy house" post (see here, here, and here for some other examples) and it is unlikely to be my last (after all, it is fertile ground, you know); but you really have to appreciate the totality with which the distruction occurred in a mere 25 minutes.

How do I know you ask? I know because I finished tidying up and vaccuming, and then immediately ordered pizza. Then, I went in the kitchen to work on some Christmas cooking. Twenty-five minutes later (I checked my watch upon arrival) when the door bell rang for the delivery guy, I came out to this.



(Blogger is not showing this image the right way up, but sideways is nice, too.)

So, next time you get trashed, I really hope it is the good kind and not the bad kind. Overall, the moral of the story is to drink a lot more and it will all be all right.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Just for you Anna. Hope this doesn't offend your aging eyes too much. Don't say I never gave you anything.
Friday, December 11, 2009
School lunch is an interesting topic. I doubt too many people would agree that the nutritional value of school lunch is, at least at times, pretty questionable, but it is convenient and cheap. (Isn't that what the fast food giants say, too? Interesting.)

My son and I used to have daily debates about lunch that involved me checking the published menu and negotiating whether or not he would take lunch. By the time we brokered a deal, I'd spent more time on talking about lunch than I would have spent making it.

So, I started making it everyday only to find him coming home with the healthiest parts leftover in his lunch bag. Then, I would spend each day pointing out what he should be eating instead of what he was eating since they don't bother to teach nutrition in schools while it matters the most. (Hmmm, obesity problem? Why not educate them early and often? But that's another soap box.)

After two years of honing my methods, I realized that my lunch strategy was simple AND effective! Basically, my lunch tips come down to two issues outlined below with my suggested solutions. So here goes:

Problem 1: Child doesn't want to eat school lunch.
Solution A: Progressively make home made lunches less palatable.
Solution B: Hide the food so that every once in a while you can say "I don't have anything to give you. You'll have to eat at school today."

Problem 2: Child doesn't eat the most nutritional parts of the home made lunch. (Why do those pieces of fruit or the carrots always come home?)
Solution: Slightly underfeed the child so that he/she is hungry enough to eat everything. Works every time!

Be sure to offer a nutritional snack at pick-up or as soon as he/she gets home. See here for tips on providing healthy snacks.

Happy eating!

DAUGHTER: I don't want guns on my airplane (see on left)
SON: But they are love-heart guns. See the hearts?
DAUGHTER: Oh, ok.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
OK, I'm feeling a little peeved today. I've been saying this for years, but now that some "researchers" in TWO STUDIES have announced their "findings", everyone is taking it seriously. (I'll give you a minute to hop over to the article and get back to me......lalalalalalala....ho hum....oh, good, you're back.)

In 2005, when I said, "the way I see it, two year olds and dogs are operating on the same level" after observing my then-nearly-two-year-old son lying in a mud puddle next to his black lab pal, Tater, I got shock and awe. It was like I spit on the Bible or something.

Just the thought of likening a dog to a child was apparently inappropriate or something. Maybe it's the whole "Evolution? Pa-shaw" movement that's been hitting the news over the past few years. Unfortunately, my son wasn't lying in a mud puddle next to a chimp because, if he was, the proverbial poop may have hit the proverbial fan at record breaking velocity.

Anyway, I've been saying it ever since, including recently when I stood watching my three-year old daughter chasing her own "tail" next to a dog chasing his own tail. In fact, I say it so often that when I saw these studies, I had to look up the names of the authors to make sure they didn't overhear me say it! So far it all looks legit, but I have my suspicions.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Well, it has finally happened. "Mommy's baby, Daddy's maybe" has official proven herself genetically-related to her father. For years, I've been listening to my husband remake songs to suit his own agenda. Unfortunately, I cannot reproduce them on TftT because they are wildly inappropriate. (For example, "Venus in Blue Jeans" by Jimmy Clanton and "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel are two with some of the most obvious potential, but I digress.)

My 3-year old daughter is a fan of the Nick Jr. show Wonder Pets and, also, a fan of lying in the clean laundry pile that usually is one of the key interior design features of my living room. Oh, and the bedroom.

These two hobbies collided yesterday when she appeared from the clean laundry pile with a pair of underpants draped over her head like a mask singing what I thought was the Wonder Pets theme song (gotta love You Tube).

When I listened a little closer, I realized the lyrics were slightly altered as follows:

Underpants.
Underpants.
On my face.

I nearly cried with joy and quickly canceled the order for the DNA test.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Why can't school projects be made of materials that rot so I know when to throw them away?
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Oh, dear. What happened? Some time between now and 2 weeks ago, I dropped off the planet into a hyper-speed time warp. (I hope that is a reasonable fictional Sci-Fi reference. My IQ drops at least 50 points in the presence of SCI FI-ese.)

Anyway, it all started pleasantly enough when I took my 6-year old to the dentist. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. Then, I took him to school. Went home. Went back to pick him up. Found him with a mouth stuffed full of tissue paper trying to assuage the bleeding in his cheek.


Turns out he mutilated his cheek while it was numb. It is still unclear whether or not it was an act of defiance (the dentist warned him!), ignorance (did he not listen to the warning?), or just stupidity (did he choose to IGNORE the warning and big, fat do it anyway?); but either way, it was a major mess.

The good news, I think he'll think twice before refusing to brush his teeth. The bad news, 10 days of antibiotics (3X per day) and Tylenol with codeine, a face that I thought would never un-swell, and some pretty dramatic scaring on the inside of this cheek.

So, anyway, that was bad. Yes, but the fun continues.

The next trauma was watching the murder of my beloved laptop ("it was an accident"). I say murder, but really it was more like it slipped unknowingly (but firmly) into a coma from which it would awake.

Upon receiving an estimate (that cost me $120!) of $805 to fix it, I dug deep in my soul (read: wallet) to consider the hard questions in life. Ultimately, I decided that I believe in socialized medicine so I said a prayer and turned off life support. Rest in pieces, Pink Sony Vaio. You will be missed.

Fortunately, I also believe in reincarnation, capitalism, and the kindness of family. New Sony Vaio on the way! Thank you, Black Friday! (Oh, and my superbly talented, frugal, and technically savvy genius of a brother who located the right buy at the right time. Yeah!)

On the bright side, instead of wasting my time on Facebook, I read 6 books.

Wait, not done yet.


On Tuesday, I went to pick-up my son from school locking the door behind me. Upon returning 20 minutes later, I find that the lock has broken in the locked position. So, after calling the landlord who called the locksmith who called me back who came to drillout the lock, the kids and I stood around for about 2 hours waiting to get in to the house.

Because, it turns out, my door is 2 1/4" thick (not the standard, I guess) the owners need to either replace the front door OR order an expensive custom lock. So until that earth shattering decision is made, I'm left with a lock that only works from the outside. (So, I can get in, but once I'm in I can't lock it or get out if it is locked.) All I need now is a Lo Jack and I can start logging some house arrest time, just in case. (I believe in being efficient...should I ever need to do some time under house arrest.)

Oh, and then there was Thanksgiving. No more explanation required.

Finally, last night we promised the kids that we would take them to see the fantastic Christmas lights display at the local botanical gardens only to have my 3-year old daughter throw-up in my ear as she was being loaded in to the car to go. This resulted in the cancelation of the promised trip and a cross between enraged freakout and the silent treatment that only an experienced 6-year old can administer. Not to mention, a nasty mess to clean out of my ear which is quite a bit harder than it sounds.

Because I'm supposed to be offering tips or other handy parenting advice, here are the learnings from this crazy month:

  • Never take your child to the dentist. It is MUCH easier if you just let their rot and teeth fall out.
  • Don't be too quick to judge socialized medicine. It works!
  • Never lock your doors.
  • Always keep a supply of antibacterial gel (any brand) and Q-Tips (not the cheap, generic kind) in your car, bag, and/or pocket. Always.
Monday, November 16, 2009
My daughter is going through yet another "phase". It is a multi-faceted campaign designed at total parent annihilation.We are now in week 3 of the campaign and I think it might be working. The strategy is as follows:

  • From 7 am to 7 pm, make unreasonable demands such as hiding a pacifier and then asking Mommy to find it. An especially annoying variation is to hide the pacifier behind back while screaming for Mommy to "Find It!" Or, cry dramatically while asking for something unintelligibly. 
  • From 7 pm to 7 am, wake up Mommy by screaming that I'm cold, can't find my paci, want my light on, or some other ridiculous ruse at a minimum rate of three times per night.
  • Throw tantrums at a minimum of every 36 hours. Day or night. 
  • Refuse to eat. Period.
  • Refuse to bathe and, if made to bathe, have a tantrum over putting feet on bathmat.
  • Refuse to brush hair.
  • Refuse to cooperate for diaper changes, but refuse to wear underpants.
  • Perfect the pout, the scream, the "You're stupid", and the "I hate you, Mommy!"
The only thing I'm getting out of this is some good fodder for my getting paid-to-write job, but it is sooooo not worth it.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today is another landmark day on my parenting skills calendar: the day my 6-year old sat patiently and in extremely good humor while the dentist filled cavities in his teeth.

After learning 2 weeks ago the he needed several cavities filled, I've been almost paralyzed by fear of his reaction to the process. He has not had a great amount of success with probing, specialist treatments even though he is always cooperative at the doctors for basic stuff. Add to that the potential for his first grade peers to tell him about their experiences. I knew I was in for trouble.

Let's overlook the negligent parenting involved in the development in the cavities in the first place for a minute and bask in the florescent glow of the dentist's bulb so that I can pass on my tips for prepping a child for the visit to the dentist.

While I didn't harp on the topic, I did spend the past two weeks prepping for the big day and I think it paid off, so here's what I did:

  • First, I made VERY clear that he should COMPLETELY IGNORE everything that anyone, especially his friends, told him about going to the dentist. I told him to call the person a liar, cover his ears, then to scream and run away
  • Then, I told him that it DIDN'T HURT, but that he would feel a pinch near his teeth and that this was only to make the fun stuff happen...the fat, sense-less lip.
  • I explained that the doctor would put something on his gums that would make his mouth feel stranger than he'd ever flelt before, that he would not be able to smile properly, and that he would talk with a really silly lisp. I told him, in theory, someone could punch him in the cheek and that he wouldn't feel a thing (until it wore off, of course.)
  • I imitated the screeching whir of the "cavity remover" (i.e. drill) and said that he shouldn't be worried about it as long as he didn't move.
  • I also reminded him to close his eyes so that the water didn't splash his eyes.
When the big day came, he said that he was a little, tiny bit nervous, but he approached the magic chair with poise and charisma. Forty-five minutes later, he walked out with a mouth full of fillings and a fat lip. I was so proud.

The last thing I told him as we were heading out the door was that I had to pay exorbitantly for him to have so much fun and that I couldn't afford to do it again with Novocaine so he needed to BRUSH HIS TEETH!!!!!

Seemed to work like a charm. Whew! Hope he doesn't come home with a peer-induced fat lip.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
In the spirit of Bloggy Love and good Christian hospitality, TftT is thrilled to welcome an anonymous guest poster today. Please welcome her into your homes as you would your own house of prayer.

Hi! How was your Sunday? Oh, we haven't met? Sorry! I'm anonymous military spouse/disgruntled chapel-goer. Nice to meet you! I just know you're dying to hear all my thoughts on the chapel on base this fine Sunday morning, right?

I went down there this morning with my husband and two small children. We've tried all the English speaking churches around here and don't really like any of them. It didn't take long; there are only three. The chapel is really convenient, and roomy. There's all these families here now and they keep talking up how great it is for families now, lots of new housing, facilities and programs. I thought the chapel would be great, nice and welcoming, maybe with a nursery and/or Sunday school for the kids. Jesus loves the little children, right? There's even a song, for God's sake! I guess the chapel here didn't get the memo, because they obviously hate children and don't want them around at all.

There was no Sunday school or nursery at the service we went to, so we sat way in the back by ourselves. There weren't many people there, so we weren't bothering anyone. There is a little room in the back, intended for crying babies, but it appears to be full of musical equipment. Our two-year old isn't too good at going to church yet, so I took him out pretty quickly. At the end, I came back in to pick some tags off the Angel Tree so we can get some gifts for less fortunate children. While we were discussing why some kids need Angel Tree gifts, the almighty holy colonel in his shiny robe was making an enormous fuss in the back pew, calibrated precisely for our 'benefit': 'Cracker crumbs! Someone ate a cracker back here and there are crumbs all over!' Keep in mind there were less than ten people at the service and he knew exactly what he was doing.

Now, we try to pick up our crumbs wherever we go and don't make a habit of dropping cracker crumbs in church. Since I had taken the little one out while my husband stayed with the older one, we didn't notice the crumbs. Crackers were only eaten in church in the first place because there was no nursery. Is that really such a big deal? What is the chapel telling people when the boss man of the place acts like that? This is what it says to me:

  • Keep your grimy kids out of our church;
  • We don't care enough about our community to offer childcare or children's church so families can come;
  • The chapel floor is more important than a kid's feelings; and
  • Passive aggression is the way to go.
Is that what Jesus would do? I don't think so. He would definitely write a blog post about it, though.
Friday, November 6, 2009
How many times a day do your children ask for a snack? Once, twice, three times, more? Well, with two kids it's double the fun. One snack is two. Two snacks is four. And on and on and on and on ad infinitum.

Well, I've recently figured out something that smarter parents probably figured out ages ago. A new level of conditioning in the Pavlovian experiment we call "parenting". Here's how it works.

Each time your child asks for a snack, tell him/her that he/she can get it or he/she can wait for you to get it. At first, this will seem like a no-brainer to the child who will usually decide to wait rather than interrupt his/her "project". (As long as he/she doesn't have to wait too long mind you. And, in this one instance, you should not make him/her wait.)

When you get the snack, provide the child with a small, ultra-nutritious snack. When the child complains, and he/she will, let him/her know that he/she can have another snack once the first snack is finished. At this point, the child should dutifully eat the snack.

When the child comes back for more, say the same thing. "You can get it yourself or I will in a minute." Repeat the process from the first snack. (Small, ultra-nutritious. Another snack may be had after the given snack is finished.)

Repeat as needed until the child is full or realizes that he/she can get a better snack if he/she does it him/herself.

Once you have established this fact, the second part of the plan is to make the junk food increasingly hard to reach so that when the child gets his/her own snack, the only option is the "healthy" stuff.

Congratulations! You have now gained yourself at least an hour a day back in your life. Don't you feel younger already?
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Parents in captivity seem to lose their minds at a half-life of about one year per child. Factors that affect this rate of deterioration include parental ego, other parents' parenting practices, illness, availability of babysitters, spousal employment, and ease of access to a sense of humor.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
My son has suddenly started "spell speaking". Since he can't really spell yet it makes for some interesting comments. For example, he will spell a word and then ask me what the word is. So the conversation typically goes like this:

HIM: "Mommy, what does X-Y-O-N-A-N-F-H-W spell?"
ME: "Nothing."
HIM: "No! Tell me. What does it spell?"
ME: "Zee on anph hwa."
HIM: "Mommy, that's not a word."

The worst part is that my 3-year old tries to get in on the act as well. Same conversation. Different letters.

The other fun part is hearing the new colloquialisms re-tooled. Here are some of the more recent interpretations:

  • What the C?
  • I F-A-T you!
  • Oh, my G-O-B.
As you can see, it's time to clean up the household vernacular because one day soon, he's going to get it right.
ME: Good morning! What would you like for breakfast today?
BOTH: Candy.
Friday, October 30, 2009

Oh, Mommy! There you are.


This is so fun.



I'm the leader.


Look at me. So pretty.


Wait...a....minute....


You are all looking...at...me...


Mommmmmeeeeee....I neeeeeeddddd you....


"Come on...let's sing," says teacher.


No!


The End.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Lovin' this blog.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Church bells ring.
Swish, swish, swish...leaves falling.
Scurry...scurry quickly squirrels. Winter's a comin'.
Birds chirping.
Pages turning.
Tea steaming. (Not cold and filmy.)
Blissful peace. Solitude. Zen.
Kapow! Reality back. "What's for lunch, Mommy?"
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Kids to the dentist separately or together? Suggestions. They are 6 and 3.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Things never to say to a mother at the grocery store with a child having a tantrum:
  • If the mother pretends to leave the scene of the crime in the hopes the child will stop screaming, do not stop the mother to tell her that she forgot her child.
  • If the mother is carrying a screaming child to the check out, do not stop her to ask the child "what's the matter?"
  • If the mother is in the check out line with the aforementioned child, do not do a "price check" on a toothbrush. The mother would gladly pay $5 for the toothbrush if she had to.
  • If the mother is escorting her screaming child to the car, the bagger helping her to her car should not ask her, "How is your day today?"
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I know I complain a lot about laundry; but at least there's this:



There are, however, a few major problems with this picture.
  1. The person is alone. No kids bouncing around or pets interferring. (I know this person must have kids by the sheer quantity of towels present.)
  2. It is daytime. My laundry never gets to this point in daylight hours. Usually, I'm stuck with laundry after the rest of the day's work is done.
  3. The laundry is still warm. (At least, that's what I think. Why else would the person bother, really?)
  4. The laundry is still clean. There is no child peeing on it or drink being spilled on it or food crumbs being dropped on it.
  5. The person's bed is made. Who makes their bed anymore? I used to be such a good bed maker, but I'll save that for another day.
  6. The person's socks are clean which means he/she also magically has time in his/her day to clean the floors, too.
Overall though, I think this picture might be my new symbol of parenting bliss.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
In cases where you are forced to throw toys in the inside trash because of inclement weather or similar, be sure to "top off" the trash can with a gooey, slimey mix of last night's dinner leftovers, used teabags or coffee filters, and perhaps something like jello, rotten bananas (unpeeled), or gravy. This will help repel the efforts of even the most ardent of resident dumpster divers.

You may also want to break any unbroken toys destined for the dumpster. This will give you additional argument for elimintating the toy should it be found. In some cases, just letting a younger sibling play with the toy will make it useless enough for the trash.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Click here.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
This post is a little off-theme for my "parenting" blog, but I'll try to bring it full circle by the end if I can. The purpose of this post is to educate the future home sellers/renters of the world about proper moving ettiquette. There's nothing worse than moving into a new home to find that the previous owners didn't properly close up shop before they left. When moving in, we don't want to pack up the rest of you belongings before finally getting to unpack our own.

Here are a list of do's and dont's that excited movers should consider as you prepare to cut your old abode loose:
  • No one wants your toilet brushes, indoor trash cans, and cleaning sponges. We will throw them away immediately and so will you in your new home.
  • Feel free to leave your cleaning supplies, including laundry detergent and dishwasher tabs. For most people, leaving toilet paper is acceptable. But do not leave BODY cleaning supplies, like used soap and sponges, etc.
  • No one wants your bathmats or non-slip shower/tub mats or decals. Throw them out.
  • No one expects a clean house (and they will clean it thoroughly before they do anything else, trust me), but don't leave the oven, bath, or toilets a nasty mess. There is no need. It is also nice if the bathroom floors are cleaned, especially if you have lots of little boys (or big ones) in residence. (Ah, there's my parenting link. Whew!)
  • Do not leave your questionable home maintenance detris in the garage or basement without asking first. Rusty tools, dull tree cutters, and rotten paint, even if it matches the walls painted 10 years ago,  is not appreciated.
  • If you feel compelled to leave anything behind, have a yard sale and invite the new owners/renters. Throw everything not purchased away.
  • Do not leave food anywhere. Not in the freezer, not in cans on the shelf. Take it with you, give it to the neighbors, or trash it.
  • Do not leave clothes hangers. We have enough of the ones we like already.
  • Be sure to leave your oven's broiler pan in the drawer, but take all the other stuff out of the drawer. If you've moved one or more times, you already have plenty.
  • Feel free to leave lightbulbs, especially those needed for "weird" appliances or light fixtures.
  • Diaper Genies, potty chairs, baby toiletries or medicines...take them with you. IN fact, make sure the movers pack your medicine cabinets as they often get forgotten.
  • Do not leave your old furniture, especially mattresses, "just in case" the new owners need it. Get rid if it!
  • Do not leave pet supplies and equipment. The only exception to this is if you have a bird feeder and want to leave the bird seed behind.
  • Feel free to leave behind your snow shovel and deicer. That is actually quite helpful if you don't need it.
As a general rule, never err on the side of leaving something behind. We know you probably mean well (maybe), but we will never know what we didn't have and we will always remember having to decontaminate our hands after throwing away your toilet brush.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Definition: To harass into submission.

Usage: Emma cajoled me in to buying her a robotic cat named Lulu.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I think this post may explain a lot. Maybe a lot more to me than anyone else, but that's not a bad thing.

A little background: I was born in England and moved to the US when I was between 8 and 9 years old. I am the child of British parents (not American military or anything like that). I was very young when I moved, but it turns out it has a much greater impact than one might think.

Consider this...

Imagine not having the following reference points in your life:
  • Sesame Street
  • Mr. Roger's
  • Mary Poppins
  • The Brady Bunch
  • The Electric Company
  • Saturday morning cartoons
  • Sid and Marty Krofft
  • School House Rock
  • Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, GI Joe, Hot Wheels

Now instead, imagine you have these references:

There was some spillover:

  • Dukes of Hazzard
  • Dallas (I never really saw this, just the beginning as I was on my way to bed, but I do remember the "Who shot JR?" drama.)
  • Pink Panther
  • Tom and Jerry
  • Honk Kong Phooey
  • Top Cat
  • The Banana Splitz (with some British and some American cartoons)

Now imagine that everything you really knew about the US was encapsulated in these TV shows. Back then, the Brits really did feel that Americans were all Texans.

It really amazes me how much, even to this day, there is a disconnect between what I know and think and what American folk know and think, just because of this cultural mishmash. I cannot typically participate in conversations about US pop culture of this time which can be quite frustrating. Music, television, food (e.g. peanut butter and jelly....yuck!), clothes, school, my understanding of the news of the time (e.g. Not as much Vietnam as Falklan Islands. Rooting for the Brits during the Olympics.). Everything is different.

It even affects my parenting. For example, I never watched Sesame Street until I saw it with my kids and I really dislike it. It actually pains me to watch it. I just don't get all the hype. As a result, we hardly ever watch it which means my kids will suffer from a disconnect similar to mine unless I deliberately choose otherwise. Being culturally literate is so important, so I have to choose Sesame Street some times. But, interestingly enough, my kids don't have any interest in it either.

My favorite kids show for my children is Charlie and Lola because it speaks my language, literally. (Well, that and Tom and Jerry, of course.)

Anyway, this post wasn't really designed to go anywhere. Mostly just an observation and a trip through my BBC past. Just think about the impact your childhood cultural references have in your life and in how you parent. It is really amazing that it can be relevant even today.

Monday, September 28, 2009
As TftT passes it's landmark first year in operation, I decided to post a blog for one of my most ardent athletic supporters...Anna. She is my inspiration and a fellow parent (which is probably the only thing that really makes this post relevant for TftT). This may also be the last post since, in one solitary year, we seemed to have solved all the key parenting issues (and some of the non-key ones, too, dog-gone-it!)

Anyway, when I asked Anna for inspiration to lubricate a recent dry spell, she offered up some fodder that has taken shape below....

It's hard to be a male unicorn trying to poop, but not as hard as it is to be his wife:

On the way to school the other day the kids were shooting each other (and occasionally me) with the Nerf guns that my son got for his recent birthday. I was late for my PTA board meeting and still had to make sure that I was properly turned out for such an occasion. It was then that it stuck me (with about the same force as those pesky Nerf gun bullets) that being a woman is really a man's job.

Not only was I recovering from my recent encounter with the Swine Flu, spelling tests (this week it's "an" words. Yippie!), vomiting 3-year old, counting to 100 projects, facilitating an activity filled morning with 20 first graders, and preparing an absolutely gripping PTA newsletter, but I also had to think about writing responsible advice and general information for parents for my new job, research whether my Nerf gun toting children qualify for NRA membership, and get a balanced, healthy meal on the table (or floor) up to 3 times per day. All that before I can even really think about showering (and drying), cleaning up unicorn poop, and, of course, all the unicorn's toys.

After taking a quick look at my watch (which I couldn't read due to the thin layer of some dried out substance that may have been yogurt), I decided that I just needed to man up and realize that the only person who could really do my job well is a man. After all, the only way to really approach this day is to eliminate things methodically and linearly from from my cerebral list without asking for any directions.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Things are looking up on the school front this week. All the spelling words relate to the word "at"...cat, rat, fat, pat, etc. Thank God for small favors 'cause I was really dreading having to google "how many times can you repeat first grade if your mother can't teach you to spell".

On the downside, the kid who can't yet spell "said" has to write a personal vision statement. I just want to know if he can also do mine at the same time.
Friday, September 18, 2009
What a strange couple of weeks it has been. I know I'm badly behind in updating my blog, but life has swept me away again in its undertow and the life raft just caught up with me. (Too bad the life preserver hit me in the head before I caught it.)

On the bright side, school and preschool have started and I've got myself a cute little writing job writing (responsibly) about parenting for Examiner.

On the dark side, school and preschool have started and I've got myself a surprisingly time consuming little job writing (responsibly) about parenting for Examiner.

Some other random thoughts about the past two weeks....

My son's first grade teacher is a mathaholic. I am not. When the homework sheet announced "test on ordinal numbers on Friday", I had to google "ordinal numbers" to find out what they were.

My son's teacher doesn't seem to like to give detailed directions and suggestions for how to complete homework. Given the fact that I am a newbie elementary school parent with a Master of Education in Language Arts, I have no idea how to teach a tired, albeit smart, 6-year old how to learn to spell 10 words in 4 days. When he gets tested, I am, too. First grade should not be nearly so stressful for me.

My beautiful little girl turns 3 in 36 hours and when I reflect I am astounded at how much life has been lived in these past 3 years. I should have known I was in for it when, after 5 fun-filled days in labor, my little bundle of joy shot into this world without enough warning to get an epidural (despite the 5 days of notice, that is). Didn't know you could get PTSD from having a baby, did ya? Well, just remember that next time you go in to the hospital at 42 weeks with labor pains and a "slow leak" and they send you home saying you are fine! Five days and three hospital visits later, I thought I was having a nervous breakdown (and so did the nurses). Yes, I know, I tell this story too much. I feel like I really earned this one though. And, yes, I'm still bitter, but I digress....

Having said all that, my little one is amazing. She knows what she wants and she settles for no less. She is independent, smart, funny, and has VERY high standards, even at 2 am. I try to remember, when my will is being tested, that these things will make her a force to be reckoned with. I try to remember that this is the woman I want her to be when it is her turn to be 36 and I am probably dead from lack of sleep. I know in my heart that when I google "woman", I want to see her picture on the wiki-page that comes up. When I remember that I know I will survive.

Oh, did I mention. Somehow I ended up joining the PTA board. Huh? I resisted the urge to google "PTA". It was more fun to think of all the possibilities.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Check me out here. You click. I get paid!
EMMA: Mommy, my foot hurts.
ME: Really? Do you have a bug bite? Is it itchy?
EMMA: No, not a bug bite! My skeleton hurts.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Would you like to be part of a new parent training revolution?
Would you like to learn some skills to help you manage the worst elements of parenting?

Tips from the Trenches
is proud to introduce
PARENTING POW TRAINING CAMP

Enroll now and you will learn:
  • A solid foundation of parenting survival skills and knowledge.
  • Instruction will include our seven priorities of survival:
  • positive mental attitude

  • parenting first aid

  • shelter

  • fire craft

  • signaling

  • water

  • food

  • Proper knots and lashings will be taught and practiced on site.
  • Submission tactics
  • Thought control methods
  • Stress management techniques
  • Emergency management procedures
  • Covert operational strategies
  • 101 uses for duct tape
  • How to build your own Parenting POW survival kit
  • As a bonus, students will become very proficient in fire craft.
  • Optional, but recommended: Evasion and Escape Primer. For an additional fee, you can attend a four-hour seminar on how to evade and escape most parenting conundrums. Taught by Tips from the Trenches' own specialists.

For the first 10 registrants, you will get our introductory Buy 1, Get 1 Free offer. (Purchase one 2-day Parenting POW Training course and bring a friend for free.)
Free childcare will be provided by reservation only. Be sure to mention your childcare needs to our call center resprentatives.

Phone lines are open! Call now!
Monday, August 31, 2009
To explain my day today, I'm going to take what scientists (and many other like-minded professionals) call a "cross section". A 60-second cross-section, in fact. It took me a while to figure out exactly which 60 seconds would best represent my day, but I think I chose well. Please, indulge me for a minute. (Ha ha ha.)

BOY: Mommy, I'm hungry.
ME: I'm cooking dinner right now.
BOY: Mommy, please put my Lego together.
ME: Please take the bowl of ice to the kitchen and dump it in the sink.
GIRL: Mommy, I need my paci and my drink.
ME: I'll get your drink. Your paci is under the couch by your feet.
EMMA: Please get it.
ME: No. You get it.
EMMA: But I can't.
JACK: (screaming) MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMEEEEE!!!!!!
ME: What? What is it?
EMMA: Mommy, my paci!
JACK: (waving arm in air and screaming) My finger. I cut it on a piece of ice (e.g. broken glass). It's bloody.
ME: Stop waving it around. You're flinging blood everywhere.
EMMA: Mommy, my paci and my drink! Jack, you're too loud!
ME: (handing Jack a clean rag) Stand still. Hold your arm up and press this on it.
JACK: (screaming louder) But it hurts.
ME: Jack, it's already stopping bleeding. Look.
JACK: Don't make me look at it. I can't look at it.
EMMA: Mommy, I'm hungry. Please find my paci.
JACK: Mommy, I need a Band Aid.
EMMA: (holding nose) Ewww...I don't like that smell.
ME: What smell?
JACK: Mommy! Look! Smoke!
ME: %$*#! (rushing in to the kitchen)
JACK: Mommy, my Band Aid.
EMMA: Juice box!
JACK: (to ME) Who are you calling?
ME: The pizza guy.
JACK & EMMA: Yeah!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
It has been a very long day at our house. Instead of going out, I opted to stay home and get some things done. This is a very rare occurrence in our house, so around 2 o'clock this afternoon, everyone was getting completely stir crazy. The problem was that I didn't want to leave. I was in the tidying zone and that doesn't happen often.

By 3 o'clock, I was subjected to a nearly constant stream of "Mommy, I bored" or "Mommy, this is not fun." Hearing this once is bad enough, but a full on assault every few minutes quickly made me wish I were a violent person. Who was it that said the best cure for boredom is Mommy boredom? I think they are so wrong. So wrong, in fact, that I'm thinking of taking out an ad in all the major parenting mags to let everyone know that he/she is a liar.

I was completely baffled by how to address this problem. My frustration was quickly stumping my creativity. On principle, I didn't want to give in and take them out. I also didn't want to have to turn into the family entertainer.

So now I'm looking for advice. How do you respond to this scenario? Are you as flummoxed as me or do you have a fail safe response? I have a feeling that this will not be the first time I am confronted with this and I want to fill up my parenting toolbox with as many chainsaws and power drills as possible.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Tonight my daughter and I had the following conversation:

ME: Emma, shall we read "No, David" tonight?
EMMA: No.
ME: Well, what do you want, then.
EMMA: "No, David"
ME: You just said you didn't want "No, David." Do you me to read it then?
EMMA: No. I want "No, David".

Right. Moving on...
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I'm going to take a giant leap in logic here and hypothesize that most of the people who find themselves at Tips from the Trenches are, in fact, parents or are likely to soon become parents.


Because Tips makes every effort to be both compelling and useful, I thought I would take a few precious minutes out of my busy schedule to bestow upon my reader(s) some wisdom regarding efficiency.


Today, while I was multi-tasking on the porcelain goddess, it occurred to me that it might be useful for us to share some things that we do to be more efficient. Some of these things are pretty benign, but others are just pure parenting genius.


Here are some things I've a learned through trial and (lots of) error:

  • Never go anywhere without something in your hands that needs to go where you are going. Empty hands=wasted trip.
  • Never just sit on the potty. Get dressed. Brush your teeth. Remove nail polish. Clean out your handbag. Pay some bills. Send e-mail (but be forewarned that any multi-tasking around water with electronics is particularly risky). Also, it is not preferrable to talk on the phone, but I guess that is up for debate.
  • Never ask your kids to do something that you may as well just do yourself. (Remember, we are talking about efficiency here. Not overall parenting prowess.)
  • Never take the kids with you. Anywhere.
  • The pool is considered both fun and a bath.
  • Never vaccuum under anything. Out of sight. Out of mind.
  • Never manually wash your own car. The kids will only want to "help" and a trip through the automatic car wash can be an excellent disciplinary tool.
  • While dropping fully clothed children in the tub may seem like an efficient way to get clothes and kids clean simultaneously, it isn't. Been there. Done that. (The problem is that laundry powder is not suitable for their "tender" skin. Blah. Blah. Blah.)
  • Instead of ironing wrinkled items, it is more efficient to throw them in the dryer while you get on with something else, such as, well, just about anything is better than ironing really.
  • Buy uncomfortable furniture. The less they want to sit, the better chance you have of finding a place without wasting time on arguing about it.
  • Always wear a bra or panties with strong elastic. Strong elastic can hold a surprisingly large amount of stuff. Since we didn't grow and extra arm when we were pregnant, this is a great way to get a third hand.
  • Never carry something when you can throw it.
  • Tidy up only once a day. After bed time. I know this probably sends shivers down the baby soft skin of many of your souls, but really. Efficiency is important. How else will you get time for Facebook?

OK, I'm spent. Please, please, please, share your efficiency tips. Think of it as your "green" act for today. Efficiency is very ecologically friendly....did you know?

Just thought I'd knock a few things of my list:
  • Fill up car
  • Doctor's appointment
  • Shoes for school
  • Lunch
  • Unpack more boxes
  • Update blog
Sunday, August 16, 2009
For those of you who know me, you have probably figured out that I don't predict results particularly well. I'm habitually clumsy and am often surprised when disaster rears its ugly, vicious, fire breathing head. I've even, through extensive research, scientifically determined that in an emergency, I most likely would go out in a panicked blaze of unpreparedness.

Which brings me to a "quiet" morning (about 6 weeks ago) at the top of my stairs. I was listening to the kids peacefully discuss whose fault it was that the walls got accidentally painted in green Crayola paint while thinking about a lovely dream I'd had the night before where I was on a plane crashing in to the North Pole (must be thinking about Christmas shopping already). I'd just arranged to drop my kids with my MIL so I could get some errands done at lightening speed in preparation for our 2-week beach vacation in three days which also happen to coincide with my son's sixth birthday. (The numbers alone are staggering.)

It was then that I started my tenth leisurely stroll that morning down the stairs. I didn't think I was unusually distracted, but that's what I get for thinking, I guess. The next thing I remember was a nasty popping, cracking sound accompanied by a wrenching, ripping, popping sensation and MEGA PAIN! I was lying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs calmly reviewing my emergency preparedness plan while screaming some of my long lost-to-parenting favorite words.

It took a couple of seconds before I realized that my kids were standing in the doorway looking a little worried. The problem was I was alone with 2 young children and I was totally out of my mind in pain.

Lucky me, I'd fallen near my handbag. I was able to extract my newly acquired iPhone and began to call by EMT brother for advice. I was pretty sure I'd broken my leg in half, but I very reasonably wanted to check with him first. (I was very calm, you see.) When he didn't answer, I called just about everyone else in my phone. No one was answering. I was starting to sweat because of the pain. The only thing I could think of was that I didn't want to call my sister-in-law because she just started her job and it would not be good if she had to leave unexpectedly.

After not being able to reach my husband who was a 2-hour drive away, I decided that calling my SIL was the only option. Of course, she answered on the first ring. And, of course, immediately came to help. She was able to get in touch with my EMT brother who told me to call an ambulance. Which I did.

Then, I realized it was time for a little damage control. I smiled bewitchingly at my children, explained that I had fallen down the stairs (duh!), that I thought I'd broken my leg (duh!), and that they were not to worry because I'd called an ambulance and both Uncle Hugh and "Tato" were coming to help. I also slipped in a mention that they were not to repeat any of the new words they might have learned that morning.

It was at this point that I realized my front door is both locked and ridiculously hard for me to open. All at once, I knew that I couldn't do it and it would be almost impossible for my son. I was imagining the fire department showing up and breaking down the door to get to me lying gracelessly at the bottom of the stairs surrounded in packing materials from our move a few days earlier.

Fortunately, my son understood the importance of what he needed to do. (After I explained it, of course, in response to the "but I can't" complaints.) Just in time, he was able to turn the key and yank the door open as the ambulance, my brother, and his wife pulled up.

It turned out that the paramedics didn't think it was majorly broken and they were able to wheel me down the front steps to my brother's car in an odd wheel chair contraption so he could take me to the ER and they could get on with helping people who really needed it. After a surprisingly quick ER trip, I was booted, crutched, and returned to the ever patient hands of my children who were none the worse for wear. (Except a near paralyzing fear of the stairs, that is.)

To make a short story even longer, here's the moral. Plan a little. Even a teeny, tiny bit. Many of us, especially if you are a military spouse, spend enormous amounts of time alone for extended periods (days, weeks, even months). Prepare yourself and your kids for when something "out of the ordinary" happens. Explain what they would have to do if an ambulance arrived at your house one day. Let them know that an "official" (Child and Family Services) might be responsible for getting them to a family member safely if you cannot drive them there yourself. Show them where the phone is. Discuss your emergency plan with people upon whom you expect to rely for help. And, above all, remind them that they should always wear clean underwear and mind their manners.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
My 6-year old son started his first session of Vacation Bible School yesterday. Since we don't actually spend that much time in church and I'm completely out of my depth when the subject of religion comes up, I was both surprised and flummoxed when he bounced out of his room before going to VBS on the first morning to engage me in the following conversation.

HIM: Mommy, you know something? I know God is real.
ME: Huh?
HIM: I said, I know God is real.
ME: Oh, really? Wow.
HIM: Yes. My friend, Stephen, isn't so sure, but after we talked about it, he said he might change his mind.

Next time, I'll get my caffeine before I leave my room.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Never, ever, ever, ever go on vacation for 2 weeks without first making sure your 2-year old didn't place a half-eaten banana in the trash can after you took the last batch of trash out.

Fruit flies don't need much food to survive, they don't live long, and the fornicate like, well, like fruit flies.

Now, please, submit your tips for ridding of them.
Monday, August 3, 2009
The good news: My daughter is just about done with potty training.

The bad news: She's discovered a passion for flushing the toilet. Over and over and over again. Too bad she doesn't think of it unless I'm in the shower and she's come in to talk. Worse than that is when I tell her that flushing the toilet uses all the cold water and makes the shower too hot, she giggles and flushes.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
One morning this week, it was too stormy to go to the beach (yes, we're on vacation) and so we opted to drive to a nearby state park (Myakka River State Park) to take a boat ride/tour on an alligator infested lake. It was hot, muggy, and storming (off and on) and we had to wait a while for the boat to get moving. After the first 10 or 15 alligators, the kids were also getting hot and antsy.

I was under the impression that no food or drinks we allowed on the boat and, to ensure that I didn't promptly become a target for a hungry alligator, I was a good girl and left the goodies behind in the car. About 25 minutes in to a 1 hour tour, my son starting complaining that he was hungry. (Turns out the mommy in the row behind us wasn't such a law abiding citizen and had brought a Ziploc bag full of candy. Of course, Jack eyed this bag and mysteriously became ravenously hungry.)

Fortunately, the mommy behind us was also a generous (if horrifyingly lawless) mommy because she offered to share the lollipops she brought with the kids. I gratefully accepted and everyone was happily sucking away until the sugar kicked in.

My son realized that the boy behind us was only a few months younger that he is and they started goofing around in the way that 6-year old boys do. It was fine for a while because the play consisted only of targeting innocent wildlife with invisible weaponry. Not too bad. Then, they started whispering and giggling and I knew trouble was brewing.

As the boat captain turned off the engine (read: white noise), my son yells at the top of his voice "It's a bagina!"

As bad as it was, we all could have just ignored it and moved on, but no. The other boys grandmother gasps "Oh, no! That's a potty mouth. Time out!" No of us knew what to do. Not only was she shocked, but she also took it upon herself to discipline my child in my presence. So I hung my head. Grabbed my unusually speechless son by the hand and got off the boat faster than you can say, "But it's VAGINA! Not Bagina."

I know that no one wants to here talk about baginas especially on an alligator scenic tour, but come on! I can think of many worse things that he could have said (and probably knows how to). Not only that, but at least it was anatomically correct. At least he didn't say, "It's a bajayjay."
Friday, July 24, 2009
Will return when the Fat Lady sings. Probably some time in the next few days.
Friday, July 3, 2009
Vacation. So quick. Non-vacation. So sloooooowwwwwwwwwwww.....
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I have to confess that I always though people who chose to "co-sleep" with their kids were doing it because it was the easiest thing to do. Saved all the hassle of trying to keep the kids quiet in their cribs. Parenting can be done while lying down all cozy in the parent's own bed. I was shocked at the lack of aforesight about what they would do when they didn't want the kids in their bed anymore.

After sharing a bed with my nearly 6-year old son for 4 nights now, I'm rethinking my position. It is torture. First, there is no actual sleeping going on. Second, the acrobatics is enough to drive me insane. Four nights of kicking, thrashing, snuggling, breathing....all while I'm trying to get one peaceful night's sleep. Third, parenting while cozy in bed is unrealistic as there is more than just you kicking the covers off each night.

Now I know, all those co-sleeping parents aren't actually sleeping. They are parenting. They are tired warriors trying to do the best they can for their kids and they are largely sacrificing their own sleep and peace in the process. Hail to the patient! Co-sleeping is NOT for sissies.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I remember long, painful minutes of torture that began once the lifeguard blew his whistle and hopped down from his all-seeing perch above the pool. Slowly I would get out of the pool and sit on the side with the other kids discussing how much longer it was going to be and trying to talk one of the innocent younger kids into going to ask the lifeguard how much longer it would be. A completely unfair way to treat the pool's main occupants, we thought.

Today, though, I finally got the other side of the picture. We are staying at a "family resort" where the children abound. The pool is madness and swimming really just consists of keeping out of the way of the kids leaping through the air and swimming between your legs. So when the blessed whistle blew today, I actually felt relief. Pure joy. Peace. And, finally, yes, relaxation.

I didn't even mind flaunting my new found space in front of the jealous eyes of 40 7-year olds. I swam and floated and rolled around like a seal released into the ocean. It was sublime. I dunked myself under the water every time one of the kids opened their mouths to speak. I swam with a joy long-forgotten. I even talked about how nice the water felt with the other Adult Swimmers.

But, as with all good things, the whistle blew and we were engulfed in a tidal wave of 40 kids simultaneously plunging into the water. Within 10 seconds, the Adult Swimmers were out of the pool and the noise was earth shattering once again.

The only question I had was for the lifeguard..."how long until the next adult swim?"

Conversation with my nearly 6-year old son...

ME: You can't put the end of the snorkel tube under the water. Water will get in and you could choke on it.
HIM: Austin knows all about this and he said you can.
ME: Who do you think knows more...me or Austin?
HIM: (Pause for thinking) I don't know.

And he's not even a teenager yet!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
...And it isn't the kiddie pool.

After playing on the beach for a while, we decided to check out the pool on the way back to our room. We saw it on our way out and knew exactly where to go as it was beautifully exposed to the entire hotel populous. Full of people greased-up and cooking like fresh vegetables on a hot, fat-free olive oil Pam-sprayed skillet.

Like a good hotel guest, I read the "Rules of Entry" sign and noted rule number 1 was "No One Under 18 Allowed!" Huh!? I gasped. After pointing this out rule out to my husband who was queuing (with my son and daughter) to get in, an "Over 18 Guest" pointed "over there" to a thick grove of trees. "The family pool is over there. The kids will love it." Uh-oh, I thought.

So off we trekked back in the direction from whence we came. We burrowed around the hedges and thickly fauna-ed "wall" to locate a long line of "We may be over 18, but our kids aren't" folks waiting to get wrist bands to gain access to the pool that was deemed hidden or remote enough for them.

At first, I was insulted. What's wrong with us?, I considered. (Or at least, what's wrong with us that is so obvious that would prevent us access from the other pool.) Then, I looked around. Hey! I thought. This is where my peeps have been hiding. Apparently, the "Over 18 Pool" was code for "The Pretty People Pool" because all of a sudden I was at home in a veritable sea of imperfection! Hurray!

I guess once you have kids running your life, you no longer have time to look pretty sunning by the pool In fact, for 10 minutes, I simply counted mismatched swim suits: 31! Incredible. These people were so overwrought with their parenting responsibilities that they couldn't even match a bikini/tankini/T-shirt/sun cover-up top with an appropriate and similarly coordinating bottom.
Not only that, but those who were greased-up were cooking like Thanksgiving turkey with all the fixings. And, those who weren't laughed freely at my "Rock Lobster" jokes.

The kiddie pool is a beautiful thing!
Friday, June 19, 2009
Since I'm not a father, but claim to be one who doles out parenting advice, I thought I'd honor Father's Day with something specially for fathers. In tribute, I offer up this.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Over the past few weeks one phrase has become very popular at our house. My nearly 6-year old son believes that he is now equipped to make all decisions for himself. He thinks that the end to all arguments is to say, "I make my own decisions!" and storm off in a sulky huff (with the recent addition of firmly shutting his bedroom door behind him). I thought I would have at least another 6 or 7 years before this became a serious concern in my daily life.

On top of this, my son and 2 3/4-year old daughter just can't seem to give each other a break. Lately, we've been in a power struggle, particularly over property rights, and I'm starting to get worried about witnessing Cain & Abel take place on my Cheerio-covered living room floor.

Everything is "Mine! Mine! No, mine!" all day long, it seems. What makes it worse is that now my son yells out (at the peak of every argument), "It's mine! I make my own decisions!" To which my response is "Actually, it's mine! And I make ALL the decisions." Today, that caused both kids to storm off in a huff to their own rooms which turned out to be fine because I got some quality Facebook time in peace.

Anyway, I know this response isn't helpful (unless I want to spend all day on Facebook, of course). My only defense is that I'm driven to it. I don't really think I do make all the decisions. Not only that, but I don't want to make them. Decisions = work. And I have enough of that already.

Not only that, but this puts me, as a parent, in a very tricky spot. After all, the consequences of dealing with this situation could affect whether or not I have a 35-year old, jobless, son living at home with me. I do want him to make his own decisions. And, yes, I even want to give him room to make some bad ones. After all, one day I won't be there to make all his decisions for him. But, I don't think I'm ready for that yet. Even if he is.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I don't often pat myself on the back, especially for things such as organization prowess or parenting skill, but today I think I really deserve some kudos.

I have a habit of carrying around random items in my bag or in the stroller "just in case". Items include things like the standard parenting items, such as wipes, Bandaids, crayons, pad of paper, and leash; and often some less than traditional items, such as super glue, magic erasers, light bulbs, powdered water, etc. One day I even acquired a small, super absorbent towel that professional swimmers use to dry off.

While the standards get used frequently, it is not too common that I get to use the more creative or insightful objects that I pack. Until today....

It started simply enough with a trip to the BX. Emma in the stroller, for a while. Running down the sidewalk for the rest of the time. She was wearing my most-hated child (and adult) clothing item...Crocs. (I like to call them portable death traps.) Anyway, she tripped, fell, and grazed her knee. Out came the wipes, the anti-bacterial ointment (on my key chain no less), and the Bandaids.

Once I cleaned her up, we stopped to get the mail at which point the bug she had picked up on the last leg of the walk bit her hand. Out came the wipes, the Benedryl spray, and another Bandaid.

Then, it was on to the BX for some stuff. Diapers. Play Doh. Toilet paper. Workout clothes. The usual stuff. While I was looking for the right sized diapers, Emma pulled on a plastic shelf-thingy and snapped it. (Don't worry. It wasn't for sale. Just part of a display rack.) Oops! Out came the Super Glue.

On to the food court for lunch. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, Emma located the crayons in my bag and took them into the play area. While I was contentedly enjoying some "peace" (suspiciously quiet, with 20/20 hindsight) and eating my lunch, Emma was creating some beautiful artwork on one of the walls concealed by the climbing apparatus. Crayons in trash. Out came the magic eraser and, finally, the cleaning wet wipes (for all surfaces!).

At this point, at you can probably imagine, we felt compelled to leave. So we loaded up the stroller, topped-off our drinks, and began our trip home. Since you can't go anywhere here without seeing people you know, and it was the busy part of the lunch rush, I immediately ran in to a line of people I know waiting to place their orders at Pizza Hut. I, being the super social person that I am, stopped to engage in some skillful small talk.

Now this is where it gets really good! This is the action that put me in line for my "Prepared Mother of the Year" badge.

Emma turned abruptly knocking her full drink on to the floor. Sweetened iced tea everywhere. But no worries! With nary a pause in the conversation and under the eye of some parenting-inexperienced young military men and some parenting-experienced mommies, I whipped out my super small swim towel and lay it over the mess. Absorbed the tea. Picked up the ice. And with a smile, moved on.

Really, I expected applause, but the shock on the nearest young airman's face was enough. It was, perhaps, the most graceful parenting move I've ever made, I don't mind saying. Unfortunately, I expect it will be the last, so I will revel in the glow of my finest achievement for at least another 24 hours. Don't worry if you see me and I'm floating on Cloud Nine. Just congratulate me and get back to what you are doing.

Now, where's my badge?
School's been out for less than 48 hours and I'm already in a state of parental henpecked madness. Clearly, I realize, I need a plan. I think it will involve the following components:
  • Earplugs
  • SPF 70+ sunscreen
  • A whistle or bullhorn
  • Airplane-sized (purse-sized) bottles of gin
  • Benedryl
  • A lasso
  • At least 3 combination locks
  • Duct tape
Let me know if I've missed anything.
Monday, June 1, 2009
I've spent literally years of my parenting life eating crow. In fact, I've developed an especially tasty recipe that I thought I'd share.
  1. Find something about which you feel passionately. It is often helpful if it is something other parents routinely do "to survive" (so they say) and which you have not experienced first hand.
  2. Take a stand.
  3. Broadcast your position LOUDLY and CLEARLY on the playground or other socializing venue.
  4. Blow off the nay-sayers with appropriate disdain. It is especially delicious if you pepper your disdain with statements such as "how could they?" and "I would never..."
  5. Post your position on Facebook.
  6. Season with sangria or other "beverage".
  7. Sit in the sun for 20 minutes at 80 degrees and have a sanctimonious moment. Do not over bake.
  8. Remove from heat. Let cool.
  9. While cooling, whip up a small amount of doubt. Place on one side.
  10. While waiting for the food critic to arrive, cut pie, top with whipped doubt, and serve. Best served same day, but equally delicious at any time.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
I have some questions for which I would like answers:
  1. When I tell my son not to get Moon Sand all over the carpet, why do I come back not 5 minutes later to find both my son and daughter in a Moon Sand ball war?
  2. Why does the pizza guy always deliver when my children decide to answer the door naked?
  3. Why does my 2-year old nap only on days that napping isn't really convenient?
  4. Why does my son always draw all over my daughter and not on himself?
  5. Why doesn't the tooth fairy publish a price list?
  6. Why is the food on my plate more desirable that the food on my daughter's plate?
  7. Why is the 1 square foot (no comments, please) where I'm sitting the only place everyone else wants to sit?
  8. Why does my son draw on the wall in his closet, but not on other walls? (Well, except Anna's, I suppose.)
  9. Why does everyone know my son's name, but he never knows anyone else's? (I'm not actually sure I want an answer to that one, but it comes up.)
  10. Why is Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoon shown after a reasonable bedtime?

More questions coming soon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Here is a photo of my winner-victorious!-with her prize. Because Anna already scored some treats from China, I decided on a more appropriate prize, her very own "Parenting Bag of Tricks".

Contents included:

Pictured:
  • The Holy Grail of Parenting (offered only unto those certified as "Parenting Master" or, in some states, "certifiably insane")
  • De Vine Divine Inspiration: For Medicinal Use Only (lesser parents call this "wine")
  • Preventative Medicine (Trojenz!)
  • All-in-One All Purpose Parenting Tool (also used for swatting flies, hence..."all purpose")

Not Pictured:

  • Emergency distract-ables (modeling clay)
  • The All-Purpose Silencer (Salt & Vinegar Pringles)
  • Godiva chocolate bars (2)
  • Emergency Supply Kit (first aid for parents and children)

I think that's it. Thanks for playing along!

Sunday, May 24, 2009
....except....
  1. It hurts-really, really, really hurts-when you step on it.
  2. The little pieces everywhere will drive you insane. (I don't need any additional help there.)
  3. The instructions are so "good" that they can make the models ridiculously detailed. (Read: More pieces!)
  4. There is always one piece that has gone MIA in the assembly process.
  5. There is no way to keep it together (except with Super Glue) once it is assembled. (And even using Super Glue only really slows the disassembly process down.)
  6. There is no way to reassemble it once it has been pulled apart and made into something else.
  7. It is sooooo expensive for the kits that build the cool models displayed on the box.
  8. It is far too tempting to count the pieces in the box as they tell you how many pieces are supposed to be in there!
  9. They don't have enough pink and purple blocks.
  10. They don't offer any adult themes which is a shame since adults build most of them anyway.

Otherwise, it is an excellent toy with lots of learning potential and fosters superior imaginary play. However, I'm starting to this that I can get the same benefits from a large cardboard box and some toilet paper rolls.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lug, Slug, Chug, or Hug. Very creative use of a terrible word...Congrats!

The prize (and winner!) will be pictures once it is delivered.

Thanks for playing!

Monday, May 18, 2009
The 7th, and final, word is:


  • Remember you can enter 7 times, once per word.
  • Also, tune in tomorrow for a bonus round and the announcement of the winner!
For this, I simply ask you to click here.

Enjoy!
Today's word is:

Saturday, May 16, 2009
Today's word is:

Today's word is:

Thursday, May 14, 2009
Today's word is:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Today's word is:

**Don't forget you can enter one time per word for a total of 7 times.**
This week I am running a vocabulary series called "Parenting Word of the Day". It is designed specifically to be both educational and cathartic.

Each day a new word will be displayed and each day you may submit an entry to win a prize (of my choosing) at the end of the 7 day series.

Your task is to write the most interesting comment/post/ story/poem/etc. relating to that word AND parenting. Your post must be uniquely yours. I will run plagiarizing "software" to determine the legitimacy of the entries. You can enter once per word to maximize your chance to win.

I will consult with my experts to determine a winner (or we'll have a vote...haven't decided yet). Points will be given for creativity, accurate use of the word, humor or drama, and, in a tie breaker, if I like you personally that will help, too.

Today's word is:


Good luck!
FAQ:
  1. To enter, submit your entry as a "comment" on each day's post.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Here is what I've encountered in the hour since I got up.
  • Wardrobe malfunction on diaper causing 2.5 year old daughter to spend the entire night basically peeing directly on her bed.
  • Notice that said 2.5 year old's eye swollen shut due to an apparent case of pinkeye
  • Go to make an appointment for said eye to find that my way-old-enough-to-know-better son has written his name in erasable crayon on our LCD TV. Turns out erasable is irrelevant when you write on a TV screen.
  • Try to make a reservation (appointment) at the best place in town (hospital), but the phone lines were down. Turns out in order to submit a work order to get the phone fixed to the technicians IN THE BUILDING, they have to call the US where it is still Sunday.
  • Finally get someone on a different number...they forward me to the appointments number which isn't working.
  • Umbrella (with whistle on the handle) being tossed around the living room wildly (and open) in celebration of rain. Injuries minimal, but not silent.
  • "That banana is dirty!" says 2 year old when handed a ripe (brownish) banana.
  • Didn't hear what time husband said he was going to be home. No idea if I need to cook dinner tonight.

I wonder what the next hour will bring.

Friday, May 8, 2009
I should preface this story by saying we are not big drinkers in our house. I can probably count the number of times I've had a bottle of wine in the house in the pat 10 years on one hand. Just never think about it.

So you can imagine my surprise this evening, when my 2 1/2 year old comes in to the kitchen and says:

"Mommy, I want cheese and wine."

Where do they get this stuff? Someone dared to suggest that she got it from Tom and Jerry, but I doubt it. They're pretty wholesome really. (If you can overlook petty issues, such as violence, racism, classism, and sexism.)
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Life is far from simple in the world of Tom and Jerry, but there are many lessons to be learned from each encounter.

Friendship

First and foremost, Tom and Jerry is really about friendship. Not just regular TV friendship, but the kind of friendship that involves the real complications of being different and being friends despite those differences. They may horse around a lot. Sometimes it is not very gentle (just like 5 year old boys, in my experience), but over all, they choose to engage with each other regularly and sometimes they put their friendship to work for a joint cause (most often, against Spike the dog.)

Conflict Resolution

This one is pretty obvious really. Tom and Jerry routinely find something to argue about. They are creative in how they work to solve the problem and, for the most part, they always come to resolution. They work hard and try different methods; and eventually, something works. Problem solved. What better lesson is there about solving life's problems, big and small?

Loyalty

Tom and Jerry may not always get along, but when someone else tries to threaten the careful balance of their relationship there is hell to pay. When Spike gets involved and tries to get either cat or mouse on his side, it usually ends up backfiring some how.

Fairness

Life isn't fair, but we can be happy despite unfairness. Sometimes Tom wins and other times Jerry gets the upper hand. They both end up happy at times and frustrated other times when they don't get what they want. Just like when we go shopping....we don't always get what we want there either! What self-respecting parent doesn't want their kids to understand that message?

Culture, Sociology, History, & the Fine Arts

Many episodes of Tom and Jerry are set to a spectacular score or involve a variety of fine art experiences, such as conducting symphonies, figure skating, painting, and dancing. Many episodes even have an historical setting, such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution, and the Great Depression.

In addition, Tom and Jerry are representative of cultural issues of their time. They may not always be appropriate for today's PC culture, but that is also a topic for discussion. What an interesting education our kids would receive if we talked to them about how contemporary cultural and sociological issues even affects cartoons, such as Tom and Jerry.

So next time you sit down to berate this cat and mouse duo, sit back for a minute and reflect on what Tom and Jerry can teach us. Maybe you will discover something to appreciate after all.

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