Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Perfect Momma

"The most important thing she'd learned over the years was that 
there was no way to be a perfect mother and 
a million ways to be a good one."

~Jill Churchill

Monday, December 5, 2011

Obedience through Bribery and Other Advice

Mama guilt is a peculiar thing.  It follows us Mamas around and yells at us when we're trying to sleep.  I have discovered that it can be stifled by - at least occasionally - resorting to Things We Said We'd Never Do.

Things We Said We'd Never Do Before We Had Kids Back When We Were The Perfect Parents With No Kids To Ruin Our Perfect Parenting Streak:

1.  Bribe them.  The experts say you cannot do this or chaos will ensue: the world will be consumed in fire, followed by death, maiming, soiling of quilts, and the stepping on of chickens.  But here's the truth (shh!):

If a purse full of candy means your toddler will let you roam the aisles of Ross twice per year, then get a bigger purse.

2.  Count to three.   Back before we had our own little nose pickers we said we'd never do this because "it only gives them three more seconds to be naughty."  Well, I'm here to tell you this:

We have already been programmed to count to three when we're upset.  You can't help it.  You're already doing it in your head, so it may as well come out your mouth.  Plus, it will buy you three seconds to get yourself under control so that you don't do something you will regret later, like snarf a carton of Oreos in despair.  Go ahead and count to ten if it helps.  I won't tell.

3.  Potty train later rather than earlier.  Who ever said potty training = freedom was smoking something, and I'm not talking about salmon.  

Potty training means two years of your life you will never get back, plus an intimate knowledge of every public restroom from here to Topeka.  Every errand you run will take fourteen times the amount of time it would take had your little muffin been wearing a diaper.

4.  Give in when nagged.  I always said/thought/read/heard that if you NEVER give in on a battle with a toddler, then YOU WILL WIN FOREVER.  That is a big, fat lie and whoever told you that is laughing it up.  Saying "no" only makes stubborn little gremlins more stubborn and more gremlin-y.  They really, REALLY like a challenge.  

So, do yourself a favor and just give in next time.

5.  Never let them become a picky eater.  I don't like picky eaters.  I don't like your picky eater and I don't like that picky eater across the street and I don't like my picky eater.  But they didn't become that way because you "let" them.  They just are.  Like spiders and high bridges and wedgie-prone underpants.  So, accept them.  Let them be.  Give them cereal for lunch (instead of steamed quineoa) and Nutella for breakfast (instead of vegetable stir fry).

I won't tell.

6.  If you don't read to them, they won't become readers.  Yeah, well, sometimes you read to them and they still don't become readers.  Set that example all you want and it still might not work.  I read all the time.  I read so much I forget to change my socks or mop the floor or parent my children!  And all I have to show for my stellar example are a bunch of kids who tell me they'll wait for the Xbox version.  

So go ahead and sink into that bubble bath with the latest romantic mystery...but don't expect your sacrifice to rub off into literate children.

7.  Have a strict bedtime.

Yeah.  Good luck with that one.

8.  Don't allow them to have a "sleep crutch."  You know, those things like binkies and babas and blankies and other things that begin with B.  Well, I'm here to tell you, surround that little angel with every sleep crutch you can possibly find.

We used to surround a snoring infant Cora with upteen pacifiers in the hope that when the one in her sweet angel mouth would fall out (which it would the second we hauled our tired bodies into our own bed), she would magically have enough power over her own limbs to grab the nearest one and pop it in herself.  This doesn't work.  But I still recommend the Circle of Binkies.

9.  Purify their water, boil their pacifiers, use non BPA bottles, give them organic food, use cloth diapers, etc.

At least when someone is looking.  This is key.  When you're home alone with Baby, do whatever the heck you want.

10.  Your turn. 

What rule do you break when it comes to parenting?

Melyssa writes over at The Daze of Us and, we cannot tell a lie, she's awesomely funny. Go visit! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mean Guy

Just in case you're traveling this year for the holidays, here's a glimpse back to 2009 and an extended car trip with a 3 year old and 2 year old. It was awesome.


We’re almost through with 2009 – it’s been quite a fun journey!

We have spent the last week visiting our families. Overall it’s been a wonderful trip and we’ve enjoyed every minute.

There has been a little bit of a toll on us as we stay an extended period away from all that is familiar to us. The girls are still trying to figure out what’s going on with their nap schedule since we’re on a different time zone. We’ve been taking advantage of car rides in order to lull them to sleep.

Today drove a few hours to visit friends and Dos took a nap on the way up but Uno refused. After a full afternoon and fun adventures Lizard and I realized that the trip home was a necessary time for her to nap.

Dos, for her part, had an allergic reaction to the soap at Bath & Body Works and so we had given her a dose of Benadryl. Previously Benadryl knocked Dos out – but today it had the opposite effect. She was wired!

So... On the way home we told both of the girls that they needed to take a nap while we drove. They were quite resistant to this idea, but Uno was the more vocal of the two about her disinterest in our napping plan.

Finally Lizard put his foot down.

“Do not talk, Uno!” he said in his firm, “don’t mess around anymore” voice.

Uno began to wail. “But I have words inside of me and they want to come out!” she protested.

“They are inside of me saying, ‘Please, let me come out!’” she continued with her voice pitched almost to the height that only a dog could hear. “And I promised them that they could come out... But you say, ‘No!’”

Lizard and I were both cracking up in the front seats, trying to hide our laughter from Uno since she was howling and moaning as we drove along the highway.

Uno decided to give one last opinion:

“You mean guy!” she moaned a long “ooooooh” moan. “You mean guy!”

Then it got even better. Because Dos, the Dizzy Devil, began to chime in.

“Mean guy! Mean guy! Mean guy!” she chanted in her little 2-year-old voice. Then without pause, “Santa Clause is coming to town,” she warbled.

That sent us over the edge and I began to write down the conversation so that I could share it with you without messing it up.

Things calmed down a bit and we thought that the fun was over. But then Dos piped up again.

“Uno... Mean guy!” she said.

“I am not a guy,” Uno corrected Dos with passion. “I am a girl!”

Then Uno stopped to consider. “I am a lady!” she amended.

Dos' response?

“I’m Santa Claus!” she crowed.

Juggler blogs daily at StealingFaith about life, parenting, and poop or other bodily fluids likely to arrive in a house with three children and three dogs.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What's In My Head and On My Lips

Coffee tastes best when it's stolen out of the pot before it's done brewing and it makes that little sizzling sound when the liquid hits the warmer. 

Gianni, this is my bath.  You can take your own in twenty minutes after Mommy is raisin-y.  Get your toes out.  Get your fingers out.  Quit stealing my bubbles. Ok, you can take the bubbles with you.  Don't drip. 

Yes, Anna, you can have a dark chocolate ginger truffle for breakfast.  It is the season.  Dark chocolate ginger truffles; they're not just for dessert anymore.

I miss the easy friendships I had when I was in my twenties, but I wouldn't go back because they were too easy and not tried by fire yet.  I love knowing that our little band has been through everything possible that could happen to humankind (well, almost) and one by one, we've helped raised one another out of the pits of it, dusted off our big girl pants, and squeezed our entwined hands.

When Thanksgiving dinner arrives I wonder why we only eat such a fabulous, perfect, flawless meal once a year.  Then, after upteen leftovers, I remember why.  No one will want it again for 360 days.

And it all tastes a little bit better when your Mom makes it.  I can't taste 1988 in my stuffing, or 1992 in my mashed potatoes.  Mine are all 2011 and they are lacking somehow.  My mom's food tastes like memories on a plate.

Yaaah, we're finally out of that all natural, green, eco friendly dishwasher soap and we can go back to the hole-in-the-ozone-layer, harsh, plastic-y packaged, dish tabs that I so very much love.  It was like I had a collection of faux milk glass for a while there.

This is the only time of year I like cookies.

Measure your butter when making shortbread, don't just eyeball it.  

Why is the laundry never done?  I hate seeing the bottom of the hamper only to have my view obscured by someone tossing in their underpants, completely and effectively dampening my warm, fuzzy feelings.

I'm so excited to chop down my Christmas tree tomorrow I can hardly stand it.  I'm a little nervous to be living in such a tree hugging state now though.  Especially if they find out about the Cascade dish tabs.  And that I only recycle when I run out of room in my trash.

I love that my man is obsessed with lights on the house and that I can't let him go into any drugstore or department store or grocery store because he will buy more.  

Why is there a fly in my kitchen?  Shouldn't flies be dead in November? 

Gianni's skin is so soft.  Maybe I should rub almond milk, dirt, tears, mud, twigs, oatmeal, salad dressing, Windex, dog food and car oil, on my face too.  Maybe I should make a Toddler Facial Smoothie and sell it on QVC.  

No, Anna, one truffle is plenty.

Gianni, it's time for your bath now.  What do you mean you don't want one anymore?  Can I at least remove the twig from your pants and rub the oatmeal into your skin a little bit better?  Can you spare some of that mysterious grease for my T-zone?

Melyssa blogs at The Daze of Us. Be sure to drop on over and compliment her on the results of her Toddler Facial Smoothie!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beautiful Mess

courtesy of
By now you've probably seen the viral video of the two boys demolishing their living room with a 5 lbs. bag of ordinary flour.

I watched it, stunned at just how much flour is in a 5 lbs. bag (I had no idea!) and listened to the mom make small gasping noises while chanting, "Oh, my. Oh, my. Oh, my."

She held her cool amazingly, which may have been because she realized she didn't want to inadvertantly tape a video Child Protective Services could use against her later, but let me tell you... if my ruffians had done such a thing there is a price and it would be paid.

I was thinking of how quickly things go sour when you add a preschooler into the mix and trying to come up with some new strategies for keeping a lid on my temper and dealing with the kiddos with kindness.

I thought about that 5 lbs. bag of flour and its mess.

I gave thanks it wasn't me and my kids have never come up with something like that.

And then I dumped an entire 32 oz. (hello, watered down challenge!) glass of water on myself, the floor and into the Goldfish carton.

Goodness. Just can't take me anywhere.

Juggler is a daily blogger over at Stealing Faith where she writes about her three daughters, three dogs, charming husband and living life among chaos.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


agastecheg /stock.xchng

Someday…I will get to sleep through the night.
Someday…I will get to drink an entire cup of coffee in one sitting, while it is still hot.
Someday…I will get to run more than three consecutive miles, without stopping to feed/change/comfort/play with someone.
Someday…I will get to go to the bathroom in peace.
Someday…I will get to eat a meal without picking something up off the floor.
Someday…my facebook status updates will involve my own accomplishments.
Someday…I will get to lick the beaters.
Someday…I will get to make one meal, instead of turning into a short order cook at dinner time.
Someday…I will get to nap when necessary.
Someday…I will get to enjoy more than a fleeting moment of silence.
Someday…every conversation won’t involve negotiating.

Until then…I’m just ‘mom.’
Heather is the mom of two boys. She blogs over at (G)O'Donnell. Isn't this a beautiful look at motherhood?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Watered Down Challenge - Update

asifthebes / stock.xchng
Well, It's now been a fortnight + since I began the Watered Down Challenge.

(I've been looking for a place to use the word "fortnight" for approximately a score of years. Today is my lucky day.)

I don't know how it's gone at your house with the challenge, but every morning I stumble out of bed, head to the bathroom, weigh myself on that horrible self-esteem device called a scale and then choke down water.

I become water-logged in fact.

The next three hours are then filled with answering demands from my children, breakfast, and at least sixty rushed trips to the bathroom as my body processes the enormous amount of water I've consumed with abandon.

All of this was something I cold accept, keeping my eyes on the prize: the demise of the lump of fat that has been spending an inappropriate amount of quality time with my belly button lately.

Here's my experience:

Many, many trips to the bathroom.
Much less desire to consume my beverage of choice, Coca-Cola.
General sense of well-being.
Absolutely no weight loss or change of shape to the lard baby.

It's a toss up for me right now. I'm going to keep doing the challenge but I think I won't be so rigid about the rules. If I want to eat a piece a toast before drowning my woes in 32 oz. of tap water... I'm going to do so.

I think it will help with the burping.

What's your take? Have you lost weight while on the Watered Down Challenge? Felt healthier?

Juggler is a daily blogger over at Stealing Faith where she writes about her three daughters, three dogs, charming husband and living life among chaos.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pee Pee Treats

every weekend or prolonged period of time anthony is home, mason ends up with chonies on. which of course is extremely helpful to me and if he could, anthony would take over all undesirable duties i face like potty-training, childbirth, and teaching art. he loves me like that.

but come monday, mason is typically back in a diaper. i just haven't had it in me to focus on potty training while i'm busy homeschooling my other 2 children and trying to do everything i can to not get up and run to the bathroom every 25 seconds.

but let's face it. the clock is ticking. there is a newborn coming and mason will one day get a drivers license and go off to college and i can't avoid potty training forever.

so on my way home from my doctor appointment last week (the one where i was officially given the green light to not be on bedrest (unless of course there is laundry or cooking to be done) and the hopeful possibility of not facing the dreaded c-section (yay!)) i stopped to pick up gummy worms.

when i got home i pulled them out of my purse and announced with great enthusiasm "pee-pee treats!" to which everyone danced around and squealed in excitement. (really, you can trick your kids into being excited about almost anything at this age. it's a correlation between level of expressed exhilaration and amount of sugar at hand)

and here is the real trick in making sure the pee-pee treats work.

enter my brilliance: "ella and bennett, you can get one too, each time mason goes in the toilet!"

potty training on my part? done.

therapy for my older children who will one day look back and say, wow, my mom actually had me potty train my little brother... only just beginning.
(i have no idea what mason is doing here...)

so now mason will be happily playing with his cars on the floor when he'll suddenly stand up and yell, "me pee-pee!" and ella and bennett will jump up from the table, pencils and math worksheets flying and grab him by the hand and race down the hallway and he'll squeal in delight as they open the potty chair lid for him and he'll say, "yay, me pee-pee party!" because, after all, who doesn't want a party in their honor every time they have to empty their bladder?

then he'll sit for a little while and everyone will expectantly watch as pure exuberance breaks across his face and he proclaims, "ME! PEE! PEE! YAAAYYYY! YAH-HOO!" and then he'll glance up at me and ask with an adorable, expectant, proud smile, "me worm treat?" and ella and bennett will jump up and down and tell him how proud they are of him and then they all race to line up in front of the pantry door to receive their reward.

this, people, is the secret to potty training.

it has gone amazingly smooth. my sister asked me if i make them wipe him. i laughed and said of course not. then i got to thinking... maybe for 2 worm treats?

kidding, kidding...

we ran out of worm treats yesterday. i figured, hey, we have the hang of it now, should it really matter anymore? so i told mason when he was getting the last one and that now he can have stickers.

this made logical sense to me. but i, of course, don't have the mind of a 3 year old.

so an hour later he jumps up, screams "me pee-pee!" and runs to the bathroom and i'm helping him get ready but before he'll go he looks at me very serious and says, "worm treat?" and i remind him there aren't any left but he can pick out whatever sticker he wants.

he just stares at me, pulls back up his chonies and says, "me no pee-pee." and just like that he went on a pee-pee strike for the next couple of hours.

i then caved and started giving him chocolate chips. and right behind him are ella and bennett with their hands out. the family all sticks together over here. i'm just encouraging sibling unity when i keep handing out sugar.

you know, this is why we homeschool after all. while other kids are at recess or music class or conjugating spanish verbs at the public school, my kids get to watch their brother pee in a plastic chair for sugar.

but for sure, i'm gonna pick up some more this week and when i get home i'm going to announce with gusto, "laundry/mopping/cooking/sweeping treats!"

and then i'm going to show them the cleaning supplies.

hey, i'm onto something here.

Stephanie blogs at There's More To Life Than Sleep... and she's amazing, huh?! Here's to Pee Pee Treats for everyone!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Invisible Mothers

phillipp13 / stock.xchng

I feel a little guilty posting this since it’s an email forward that has circulated around the internet for several years.  BUT… no matter how many times I read it I find myself misty-eyed and I think the author nailed it right on the head.

As one author wrote about this piece of wisdom: “On a day when I was wondering why no one had nominated me for a major award because I was able to get three beds stripped and cleaned and remade, a colorful and balanced supper on the table, a toddler entertained on my own from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., an entertaining column written and submitted, and a first grader taken to school with everything he needed and brought home with nothing that he didn’t, I received this in my inbox.”
So tonight, because I’m still absolutely exhausted, I’m going to post one of the pieces of writing that has given me comfort over the years.  Enjoy!

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’

Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??

Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’

Some days I’m a crystal ball; ‘Where’s my other sock?, Where’s my phone?, What’s for dinner?’

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, she’s gone!?

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.

I was feeling pretty pathetic when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’

In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names.
2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it.’ And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.’

No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn, no cupcake you’ve baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he’d say, ‘You’re gonna love it there…’

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.

From a sketch performed by Nicole Johnson at a Women of Faith conference.  This book is available on Amazon: The Invisible Woman, When Only God Sees: A Special Story for Mothers.  The book referenced here is Cathedrals of Europe.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Dose of Sarcasm for the Day

Study Shows Breastfeeding and Cloth Diapering Increases Self-Esteem in Mothers

Click through to Insert Eye Roll for the full story.

A study published by The Brooks Institute of Parenting and Medicine, asserts mothers who breastfeed for an extended amount of time and cloth diaper their children have a higher sense of self-worth than mothers who do not.

Dr. Leon Grant, who spearheaded the study, says of the phenomenon, “We’ve known for decades breastfeeding and cloth diapering have health benefits for the child and the environment as a whole, but now we have proof that these activities have the added benefit of making mothers feel morally superior. Simply by breast feeding for longer than anyone else they know, women have been shown to overcome deep-seated insecurities like teenage acne and being told they look chubby by their own mothers.”

Read the Full story at Insert Eye Roll

As a cloth diapering, extended breastfeeding mom, I had to laugh at this satirical take on "Natural Parenting." If you're up for a good dose of sarcasm, click on through... if not, we'll be back with another take on Mommy Sorority tomorrow!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Running In Circles

So, if any of you read my message on Twitter yesterday, you will know that I am convinced my treadmill is possessed. It tried to break my finger. I have a bruise under my fingernail now. It had nothing to do with me being impatient while trying to open it. I’ve decided to call it The Dreadmill.
In any case, today I figured I would talk a bit about my slow journey toward becoming a runner…
In the summer, after reading Mary Ostyn’s post about starting the Couch to 5K running program, I decided it was time. Time to stop making excuses. Time to stop wishing and start doing. My husband sent me to the running store for my birthday and I came home with a pair of (gasp!) $100 running shoes: the Vibram FiveFingers — by far the most expensive (and funny-looking) pair of shoes I have ever owned. Surprisingly though, they are also the most comfortable pair of shoes I own.
See what I mean? They are really funny-looking. I’ve had multiple strangers stop me to ask about them…
Four months later, I haven’t actually run a 5k yet. I tried to, which was when I discovered that I have exercise-induced asthma. Enter the jet-propelled chemical remedy! Then it got really cold here in a hurry. Enter the treadmill! (I got my hands on a used treadmill for $15 from Juggler’s ever-present stash of cool stuff. It’s great. The display works intermittently, the plastic trim is hanging off in places and — the best part! — it changes speed arbitrarily! Today the belt got so misaligned that it melted the plastic running board on the side where it was rubbing. I’m going to have to figure out how to fix that before tomorrow.)
This goal of mine (to get healthy via running) hasn’t made me slim and toned yet, but I am still determined to finish the program and make a running part of my life. (I have to justify all the money I’ve spent so far on shoes, an inhaler and The Dreadmill!) Couch to 5k really is a great program and — up until I nearly passed out — I was having great fun. For the first time in my couch-potato life, I felt strong and healthy!
So, after taking a too-long hiatus from running, I’m jumping back in at Week 4. Would any of you be interested in joining me?  I’ll be posting my progress here, so we can laugh together about how ridiculous I look in spandex.
P.S. When I find the right fabric (and time), I’ve decided to spend more money treat myself and make one of these dresses!
PlainJane is the mom of three and blogs over at Plain Jane Living about treadmills, food, parenting, and other such things.
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