My girl Meredith is at it again. After years of trying to fulfill her “meatloaf destiny” (that cracked me up), she has two meatloaf recipes for you to try. Honestly, as a kid I hated meatloaf. Just the words. Meat. Loaf. Doesn’t sound appetizing to me. As I have come to love cooking however, I have realized there are so many different ways to class up what I used to consider a revolting pile of beef. I will definitely be checking these out.
The dueling meatloaf battle!! Something for everyone with this recipe post! Numerous years ago I embarked on the search for “the perfect meatloaf” since my mother’s recipe died with her. I would say in no less than 10 years, I tried close to 20 meatloaf recipes. It became my quest. My obsession. My foodie friends would send me recipes right and left to try in an effort to fulfill my “meatloaf destiny”. It was never quite right. Something was always missing, much to my chagrin. I always hoped that “this” recipe would be “the one”. And, finally after searching high and low, it (they) came to me via Lidia Bastianich and my foodie friend, Amy.
Amy is a former pastry chef, who can knock ‘em dead in the kitchen as well as, or probably better than I can. Typically when either of us says, “Try this recipe…NOW”, we do and most times we agree 100% that the recipe is fabulous and a keeper. She knew about my quest and knew that I had my family’s meatloaf recipe, without change, for eternity. She came across a chicken meatloaf that she deemed “divine” and gave me the ultimatum to try. I did. And, it was. Without further fanfare, I present BOTH recipes for your pleasure; let me know which one you like best!
Meatloaf with Ricotta
(adapted from Lidia’s Italy: http://www.lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/613)
1 pound ground beef
1 large egg, beaten with a splash of light cream
1/3 cup ricotta
3 scallions , finely chopped
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
¼ cup basil, chopped
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ pound fresh mozzarella, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Crumble the ground beef into the bowl, and add the eggs, breadcrumbs, ricotta, scallions, grated cheese, basil, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Fold and toss everything together, and squeeze the mixture a few times between your fingers to distribute all the ingredients evenly. Scatter the mozzarella cubes on top, and fold and mush them throughout the loaf mix.
Gather the meat mixture in the bowl, turn it into the pan, and shape it into a fat oval loaf. Cover the pan with foil and bake 45 minutes.
Remove the foil, and continue to bake until the meatloaf is browned all over and completely cooked through, another 20 minutes or so. Remove the roast from the oven, and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
pinch salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (from 1-2 slices of bread)
2 tablespoons milk
1 generous tablespoon ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1 lb ground chicken breast
4 oz diced cheddar cheese (about 1/2 cup)
salt and pepper
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon ground mustard
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup ketchup, brown sugar and dried mustard; set aside.
In a small saute pan, heat olive oil and saute onion and bell pepper for about 2 minutes. Add minced garlic, dried oregano and pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for one minute more and remove from heat. Combine bread crumbs and milk in a small bowl; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg slightly. Add 1 tablespoon ketchup, worcestershire sauce, ground chicken, cubed cheese, bread crumb mixture and sauteed peppers and onions. Season with a generous pinch of salt and ground black pepper. Mix all ingredients together taking care not to over mix.
Put chicken mixture in a standard loaf pan. Top with brown sugar/ketchup mixture.
Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes.
This guest post comes from Miranda Imperi, courtesy of Mooshka Dolls. Super cute and more importantly, safe to send to bed with your little ones.
What Makes a Toy Safe for Sleeping for Your Toddler?
New parents and old parents alike all fear for the safety of their child. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is a tragic and scary idea for everyone! Don’t be afraid as there are many precautions one can take in order to prevent disaster. By increasing you awareness of the safety of toys and the progressive research done in order to prevent accidents, it becomes a battle of awareness rather than carelessness.
The majority of the fears from dangerous toys or dolls are evident during the time they are played with or possessed by the child while they are alone. Even more importantly is the danger presented while they sleep. It is detrimental to the safety of your child to ignore what possibilities may arise during after hours. Though the toys that you provide may bring safety and comfort, it may also prove dangerous and disastrous.
The Safe Toy
First it is very important to look up the concerns products may be causing. Toys that are being recalled on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) can be found directly on their website. Look for the toys with specific name brands that can be purchased from reputable retailers. The last thing you want is a product that doesn’t put enough testing into the safety of its product for newborns. Making yourself aware of recalls on the market can make a huge difference in keeping the safety of your child in mind.
Toys that are machine washable and non-toxic are a big winner! Lead is an especially nasty toxic chemical that can be poisonous and lead to major health issues particularly when ingested. This chemical is found in the paint of a product and should be of paramount concern. The CPSC website has the lists and all the facts when it comes to the toxicity of products.
The Dangerous Toy
Toys with ribbons, cords and loose string can all be potential choking hazards. These type of toys can quickly become entangled around the neck of your child and strangle them. If it is more than 7 inches long, move on. It is both inappropriate and a direct danger to your child.
Kid’s are resourceful and at time amazingly clever. This proves to be dangerous when they begin to yank and pull apart toys that you didn’t imagine they could do. The smaller parts of some toys can be swallowed and choked upon which then creates a hazard you didn’t anticipate. Buying toys with loose and moving parts that can easily come off is a big mistake.
The worst parts that can be included with a toy are magnets. Avoiding the products that can potentially spill out magnets when broken is a must. If swallowed or inhaled, magnets inside a child can become attracted to each other and cause intestinal perforation, infection or blockage, all leading to the possibility of death.
The Toy That’s Sound is a Toy Worth Keeping
Making every effort to keep their child safe is of paramount importance to every parent. Always watch for the age appropriateness and if it doesn’t fit, don’t buy it. Enjoyment and peace of mind that comes from the good experiences you’ll have with toys will hopefully outweigh the worry and frustration from others. Educate yourself and make sure that your awareness extends beyond the back of a toy’s box.
Mooshka is a line of sweet and huggable, oh so lovable dolls, suitable for toddlers ages 2 and up. These dolls are soft and make perfect companions for your little one, around the clock.
Play Pen welcomes Tristan Boyd, a work from home parent and editor of Hire My Mum, a work from home job board dedicated to helping parents find work to fit their schedule. You can connect with Tristan via Google+ at http://plus.google.com/+
It was all so easy in the beginning. Five minutes here, ten minutes there. We only did it when we really needed to get something done. The kids would be quiet, we would finish writing that quote or cooking dinner, or doing whatever it was we needed to be doing. Life was good. Everything was under control, but as time went on, those brief moments become longer and longer. Those ten minutes became 20 minutes, 40 minutes, an hour, an afternoon. The kids started disappearing without warning, quietly retreating into the darkest corners of the house, unnoticed… until we needed to make a phone call…
Peace and quiet became an alarm bell. Often, as I sat at the computer in the middle of a stint of glorious productivity, I would be hit by the sudden realisation that the kids were gone. The search would begin; under the bed, in the bedroom wardrobe, in the gap between the fridge and the wall. The kids quickly realised that the better the hiding place, the longer the game time. I would ask my wife to call me so I could track them down when my phone rang. Usually her phone was missing too, so I would message a Facebook friend to do it for me. The kids quickly discovered the mute button.
We changed our security password, but the kids became expert spies, watching silently over our shoulders as we unlocked our phones, their sponge like brains memorising every keystroke. We “banned” them from playing on the phones at all. This lead to tantrums, fighting, arguing and worst of all, nagging!
We were stuck. The kids were addicted and we had become their unwilling dealers.
If you’ve read this far you’re probably waiting with baited breath for the moment of my epyphony and the brilliant solution that followed…. Ha! I wish!
If you want my advice, give in to it. There is no escaping the seductive charms of a hand held device. How can we even begin to compete? For a kids brain, it’s like heroin, but even MORE addictive. What chance do we have?
The only possible replacement I have found is actually giving my kids direct attention. Like actually doing something with them that is MORE fun than Angry Birds. (I know, what could be more fun than angry birds, right?). Last week I looked my kid in the eye and said: “Okay buddy, lets go outside, smash up the old sofa and take it to the rubbish dump” He loved it!
Sometimes it even works with less violent alternatives, like watering the garden. Spraying water everywhere, getting muddy. I even have him convinced that I planted some seeds and something is going to grow. LOL.
But unfortunately at the end of the day, there is no substitute for an iPhone (excluding TVs, Xboxes and Wiis) that does not involve a whole lot of time and effort on the part of the parent. Nothing you can do will ever run on auto pilot. There just aren’t any short cuts. So we’re left with the same old dilemma:
“Should I do what I am supposed to be doing, or should I go play with the kids?”
Right after Christmas I put up a post on Facebook asking people how many of the toys they bought their kids for Christmas were already making them sorry. It didn’t take long for me to regret the ‘Power Wheel’. Shortly after that, it was the Barbie acoustic guitar that I was ready to “accidentally” crush with my foot. There’s another item that sits on the kitchen table that I am regretting. Hollywood didn’t get this for Christmas, but it’s presence became a thorn in my side shortly after it arrived.
On the kitchen table sits Hollywood’s Tacky Box. Remember that thing I wrote about a few weeks ago? Ah, yes. The Tacky Box. The beautiful little box that has become a permanent fixture in the kitchen, and a constant reminder, from Hollywood to me, about what should go in The Tacky Box. By this point, more of my words have found themselves banished to The Box than hers.
We’ve never had a huge problem in this house with Hollywood using curse words. “Do as I say, not as I do,” has worked pretty well for us. Once Hollywood is told not to say a certain curse word, she doesn’t. If you remember my original post, “shit”, “wiener”, and “Jesus Christ” were the first words that made it into The Tacky Box. I can honestly say, I have not heard those words since. I was more surprised with how effective The Tacky Box has been with correcting some behaviors that need to be, shall we say, modified.
Hollywood’s latest habit is growling. I don’t remember exactly when this started. I know that it is a result of frustration but seriously, every time she does it I want to scream. This was one of the first ‘behaviors’ to go into The Tacky Box. At some point, teasing the dogs and the phrase “No fair,” also ended up in The Tacky Box. I don’t even think I realized it until now, but these behaviors have really been minimized.
I don’t actually regret The Tacky Box, even if Hollywood does take every opportunity to tell me when I say something “tacky”. It has been a really effective tool for our family. Like anything else though, The Tacky Box depends on consistency. Because it sits on the kitchen table, it’s always visible as a reminder to keep the behavior in check and be conscious of how we are talking to, and treating each other. Just with the occasional reading of Margo’s Magnificent Choice, we are seeing a little more of a sweeter side from Hollywood.
The creator of The Tacky Box, Chris Phelps, wants to “raise this generation to put kindness first and ultimately leave the world a better place.” The Tacky Box is a great tool to help make that happen.
This post is brought to you by YourSash.com We generally cater to the mini’s around here but I know there are some of you with older offspring. Here’s some helpful insight to make the college years go smoother.
Here’s a sobering statistic for parents of high school students or soon-to-be college students: only 56 percent of those who started college in 2007 had earned their degree by 2013. On second thought, that little tidbit may have just made you reach for the wine bottle as you start envisioning your savings account slowly slipping away.
These days, kids are having a harder time finishing their college degrees in four years. Whether they’ve decided to take time off to “focus on their art”, travel the world and “find themselves”, or they figure out three years into their major that “a business focus just isn’t right for me”, doesn’t change that fact that your kid’s choices are causing you to go grey before your time.
There are, however, things that you can do as a parent to strongly encourage (just pull the “because I’m the parent and I say so card) them to do graduate in four years.
Here are some tips, so get to work on starting to plant these seeds in their head now, while they are still impressionable.
Start College in High School – If you have kids who are still in high school, one of the best ways to help guarantee that they will graduate in four years is to have them double dip. There are programs available where they can take classes in high school that can count for college credit as well. Some high schools partner with local community colleges to offer College High courses where you can get some of your lower coursework out of the way while also getting high school credit. Another option for high school students is to take Advanced Placement classes. Those who score high enough on the advanced placement test at the end of the class can get the equivalent college credit for the class. Trust us, this little tip can save you enough money to take a parents-only trip to Hawaii instead of paying for a fifth year at university.
Stick With the Major – One of the biggest roadblocks on the way to your kid’s graduation is switching majors halfway through their program. Doing so often means retaking requirements and in some cases, starting all over again. If you’re child isn’t sure what field they ultimately want to go into, encourage them to pick a broad major that lends itself to a variety of different career paths. Also, don’t feel bad reminding them of little, but important things – for instance, how medical school may not be the best path for them considering they get squeamish at the sight of blood.
Take Summer Courses – If you kids are working (to help pay for their living expenses), or they are doing extracurricular activities, it can be hard for them to take a full load of credits or more than a full load to ensure a timely graduation. An alternative is to encourage them to take credits during a summer session at a nearby community college, it’s cheaper and will get them out of the house more if they are spending the summer at home.
Author Bio: Kristy blogs about education and college news at yoursash.com, the leading provider of graduation stoles and sashes.
Meredith is back with a romantic dinner for those if you who are spending the night in. Although this one isn’t incredibly kid friendly, its easy enough to modify so that if you are sharing it with the younger ones, you can manage to keep everyone happy.
Nothing says love like a special Valentine’s Day menu; especially when cooked together. Unless you have older kids, this is probably not so kid friendly in the meat arena. But hey, toss some chicken nuggets in the toaster oven and offer the little ones the side dishes. This menu is a collaborative effort between my beloved and I. He takes care of the steaks and beet carving, while I take care of the preparation. From our home to yours, please enjoy this fabulous menu of steak, Gouda mashed potatoes and roasted “heart” beets.
Coffee Rubbed Rib-Eye (Steve adapted from FN, Bobby Flay)
Rub Ingredients (this will definitely give you excess rub for other tasty beef, poultry or pork dishes!)
Combine all spices in a bowl.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Preheat a cast iron pan over high heat. Brush each side of the steak with oil and then season each side liberally with salt and pepper. Rub 2 tablespoons of the coffee rub onto 1 side of each steak. Cook the steak, rub side down until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the steak over, cook for 2 minutes and then transfer to a baking sheet and cook in the oven to medium-rare doneness, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and let rest 5 minutes before slicing. **
** For smaller steaks, or different preference of doneness, be sure to check out this website for accurate cook times. These are pan times only, but the steaks will turn out fabulous not even put in the oven!!
Gouda Mashed Potatoes (adapted from FN, The Neely’s)
Slip the potatoes into a large pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the butter and half-and-half in a small pot until the butter melts and the mixture is hot.
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain well in a colander and then return them to the pot. Turn the heat back on to low and stir the potatoes to “dry” them. Mash the potatoes until smooth and stir in the hot half-and-half and butter. Add the shredded cheese by the handful, stirring to melt, and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in the chives. Serve immediately.
Roasted “Heart” Beets (adapted from FN, Bobby Flay)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Coat beets lightly with oil and season with spices.
Wrap beets in aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven until cooked through, approximately 45 to 60 minutes. (Test doneness by sticking paring knife through foil.)
Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes. Peel by gently a paper towel on beet (may need more than one), skin should remove easily.
Cut one side off & lay flat. Cut entire beet in the shape of a heart and slice ¼” slices; serve.
From Juniper over at Superb in the Burbs comes a guest post to help you get ready for Valentine’s Day. Once you check out this post, I know you’ll head over to see the rest of her blog. It’s all things beautiful!
I’m a mom of two and I also happen to love fashion. Valentine’s Day used to be the perfect excuse for me to get all gussied up for a fancy dinner out on the town with my man. Fast-forward to the present day with a toddler tearing through the house and nursing six month old on my hip. I’m not saying that life is any less sweet. It’s just that my priorities have shifted. These days it’s less about the perfect pair of six-inch heels or a fancy restaurant, and more about getting the kids down in time to split a bottle of wine with my husband, who may or may not get lucky before we pass out spooning on the couch. Just sayin’. But even with all the changes that come along with parenthood, I’m still a hopeless romantic at heart. I like feeling good about myself and looking nice for my honey on Valentines Day.
I know in theory we shouldn’t have to rely on some Hallmark holiday to remind us to make the extra effort. But when you’re sleep deprived and up to your elbows in diapers, a little reminder can go a long way. I think it’s nice to have a designated day for love. If nothing else it jolts me out of the routine enough to inspire an especially pretty outfit.
With that in mind, I think I may have come up with the perfect Valentine’s Day look. It not only feeds my love of style but also fits into my needs as a wife and mama. I love this outfit because it’s comfortable enough to wear at home but pretty enough to double as a date night outfit (even if the date night happens to be splitting a bottle of wine on the couch with your hubby.) The combination of the long romantic red skirt paired with the casual gray t-shirt is so lovely and effortless, and it flatters almost any body type. The leather jacket adds a bit of an edge, and the red nails and long necklace keep it classically feminine. I imagine wearing it with a braided “Heidi” updo and red lip, similar to my picture below. Add a pair of comfortable ballet flats or boots, depending on your preference, and you’re Valentines look is complete!
Have a great V-day everyone! Whatever you end up wearing or doing, keep it stylish, fun and relaxed! xoxo
Juniper Briggs writes the lifestyle blog, Superb in the Burbs. She is a wife, mama, and a writer with an abiding love of style in its many forms.
SHIRT – http://us.topshop.com/en/tsus/product/new-in-this-week-2169940/new-in-this-week-70543/tall-70556/tall-viscose-v-tee-2617723?geoip=noredirect&network=linkshare&utm_source=linkshare&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=Hy3bqNL2jtQ&siteID=Hy3bqNL2jtQ-xA.CxLUxF3Z7BMfR7vqyMg&cmpid=aff_ls_tsus&_$ja=tsid:21416%7Cprd:Hy3bqNL2jtQ
This guest post comes from Derek Whitney. Check out this advice about advice. If you haven’t already run into this, eventually you will. Be sure to check it out.
For parents, nothing is more frustrating than receiving unwanted and unwelcomed parenting advice. After all, the kid is yours and you are the one who takes care of them so why should others have a say in your parenting choices. From the amount of television you allow junior to watch to what goes into your little princess’s tummy, people seem to feel it’s their right to tell you how you should raise your child.
When the advice comes from loved ones, however, you may feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. Trying to keep your feelings about their unwanted advice in check while avoiding any conflict or hurt feelings on their part can be a difficult task. Thankfully, there are ways you can handle these situations as tastefully and politely as possible.
“Like water off a duck’s back” is a common phrase that, if you can implement it into your daily life, can help reduce stress caused by parenting advice and criticism. Essentially, it means that their words don’t affect you or your life one bit so there is no need to get upset over it. This can be easier said than done, but once you realize it doesn’t matter what others think you should do, that your child is YOURS and you have the ultimate say in how they are raised, it can make your life a whole less stressful.
Set the Record Straight, Politely
Your gut reaction may be to tell them where they can stick their unwelcomed advice and criticisms. This, however, can cause more harm than good. Especially if the person voicing their opinion is related to you and your child. Instead of flying off the handle, take a step back and try to see that their advice, though unsolicited, is coming from a place of usefulness. Then you can thank them for their wisdom but politely inform them that you feel your way is better in this instance. This allows you to speak up without hurting feelings. If you feel it is necessary, you can also let them know that their parenting advice, though not always followed, is welcomed and appreciated.
Pick Your Battles
Sometimes, choosing which parenting battles to fight can help retain the calm and peaceful relationship with the opinionated family member. If your mother-in-law, for example, insists that your child should wear a jacket on a day you feel is warm enough without one simply putting the jacket on can prevent a heated exchange. With that being said, you shouldn’t give in if you feel strongly about the situation and you and your spouse have all ready made up your mind. However, you should always keep an open mind.
Let Your Spouse Handle It
One of the best ways to avoid fights and hurt feelings with in-laws is to let your spouse handle their family and you handle yours. For one reason or another, most people get less defensive and not offended if their adult child politely declines their advice. They can, however, take offensive and feel it is inappropriate if their daughter-in-law or son-in-law refuses their criticism. Merely asking your spouse to handle his or her family’s unwanted parenting advice can calm a potential storm in the family.
Derek is currently blogging for Shannon Bryant, a Mountain Lakes baby photographer. He enjoys blogging about relationships, baby advice, and fun parenting stories.
This post is courtesy of Nord Anglia International School. I wish I had the opportunity to do something like this as a kid. Although I enjoyed the time I spent in Scotland as a young adult, I don’t think my time at the public house was all that educational.
It is understandable that parents have concerns about their children studying abroad, but for young people to experience a different culture is truly rewarding. Today we are going to take a look at the benefits of studying abroad, and in particularly, the exotic location of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Studying abroad is “the-in-thing” for adventurous teens. The International Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development show record numbers of students study overseas each year – because it is more appealing and offers better job prospects once your prodigy graduates.
Studying abroad is an enriching experience which will broaden your child´s horizons, learn more about life and themselves, make new friends and possibly learn a new language. Abu Dhabi is emerging as one of the most preferred destinations amongst students because of its low cost of living and large community of English-speaking expats which make it is easier for first-time expats to settle in.
Abu Dhabi as a location
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE and provides an exotic destination on the shores of the Arabian Sea. The oil-rich Gulf States are some of the most advanced in the world yet the cost of living is surprisingly low – although not as inexpensive as you would think considering companies and workers do not pay taxes.
Given that 90% of the population in Abu Dhabi is made up of expatriates there is a lot of western influence, although the Middle Eastern culture and cuisine has been retained in abundance. There are plenty of organized events to help first-year students meet people and settle into a new way of living.
Advice for students
Before deciding on a destination research travel guides to determine whether you will need a visa, vaccinations, cost of living and potential hazards, i.e does the city experience a lot of street crime? You may need vaccinations to live in a country and you will almost certainly need a student visa.
Your research should also include the availability of suitable accommodation and the cost of living in your city of choice. Will you be able to cover your basic expenses? You should also weigh up the cost of air fares and medical travel insurance. Tuition fees are usually more expensive too.
If you choose to study in a country that speaks a different language learn some basic phrases before you go otherwise you will order food you didn´t know you were asking for. It is a good idea to take lessons beforehand. Also familiarize yourself with local laws, especially in Muslim countries like the UAE. Drinking is not permitted and showing flesh is forbidden although laws are relaxing.
Most of the information you need should be provided by the University. You can also look for forums on the web with contributors who have first-hand experience of studying in Abu Dhabi. Question forums such as Yahoo! Answers also give you the chance to ask for advice.
For more information about studying in Abu Dhabi visit Nord Anglian Education website.
“Why can’t people with kids keep their cars clean?” These are famous words from a snobby former D.I.N.K. who clearly thinks she is better than the rest of us. Wait,… I said that…before I had kids. I used to cringe if I had to ride with someone in a vehicle that regularly shuttled carseat-aged children. It didn’t matter if the kids were actually in it when I was, and it wasn’t really even the kids that I disliked. It was the mess. The mess that somehow creeped beyond the backseat to the front. Specifically, the stale fries, the unidentifiable crusts and crumbs, the milk splatter, the mystery sticky and the Cheerios. My god the Cheerios.
Fast forward to me now, 2 carseats filled with a 2 and a 3 year old and a never ending fountain of small beige roundish snacks that my kids trail behind them like Hansel and Gretel to find their way home. While you can certainly catch me on a bad day when my car resembles one of the vehicles described above, I have some rules for myself that help keep it a little more manageable.
1. Organization – There are lots of car organization items on the market, but the ones I find to be the most useful are the organizers that hang on the back of the front seats so they are facing your kids sitting in the back seats. We have 2 (one for each kid) and I use them mostly for the toys and kid entertainment that otherwise gets strung around the car. Specifically, I use it for magnetic drawing boards, books, stray toys, diapers/wipes and sippy cups. We got really nice ones with our car as a spiff the dealer was doing the month we bought our car (and if you are buying a new car, just ask your dealer to throw them in – I am guessing they might), but there are less expensive ones on the market as well that probably do the trick just fine. Munchkin Backseat Organizer on Amazon.com is an affordable one similar to what I have now.
2. Food And Beverage Police – I used to pretty much let the kids eat and drink whatever they wanted in the car figuring I would just clean up the messes as needed. This was until what I like to simply refer to as: The Great Cracker Barrel Biscuit Incident of 2012. Suffice it to say, I now stick to items that are not crumbly and deep fried in lard. You would think that milk would be harmless in a spill proof sippy cup. Not so much. My son makes it his mission to gnaw through any spout leaving it shredded as if it had been borrowed by a yeti child. My daughter is not a shredder, but still has skills allowing her to shoot milk from a spill proof sippy a distance equal to at least a middle school high jumping record with a simple flick of her wrist. I accepted that, as hard as I try, liquids are going to come out of sippies. Since I was certainly not going to enter into the ‘no drinks in the car’ territory for fear of them ganging up on me in protest, I settled for water only in the car. Be strong with your food and drink rules. Don’t waver and you will find that a simple vacuum now and then will be enough.
3. What Happens In The Car DOESN’T Stay In The Car – This is probably the hardest one for me. Anyone with kids knows that loading and unloading kids from the car is a task equal to playing Jenga. With your feet. Blindfolded. And winning. Therefore, once I have returned from an errand and unloaded the kids, the last thing I want to do is go gather up whatever crap we took into the car or gathered on our trip and bring it inside to put it away or dispose of it properly. I still make myself do it 90% of the time or else take care of it the next time I load them into the car, and it keeps the car clutter down.
4. Clean – Using Actual Cleaning Products – I know this is the one no one wants to hear – me included. Every once in a while, you have to clean using things like vacuums and elixers. My husband has an arsenal of cleaning products for the car and enjoys tackling milk stains and crevice cleaning on a regular basis. For this I am truly blessed and I’m sorry if you don’t have such services at your disposal. One thing I still do on my own once a year (and I should do it every 3 months at a minimum) is to take the covers off of the carseats and clean the covers as well as — gulp — what I find underneath of them. This includes the melted yogurt raisins that I allowed in a moment of weakness, the pretzels the marshmallows and the Cheerios — My god the Cheerios. I actually believe that if you never buy your kids Cheerios, you will STILL find them in the bowels of their carseats. Perhaps they spontaneously generate from diaper fumes and gluten dust. Masters thesis anyone?
In summary, all of this keeps the clutter down and the crud build-up to a minimum, making the stale Cheerios more easily accessible for kids to pick up and eat 6 days from now when they are combing for snacks on your next trip. And the clean up has come full circle.
Susan Maccarelli is a temporarily-retired sales and account management professional who has been a stay at home mom since 2010. As mom to 2 toddlers, wife to a work-from-home husband and executive director of the Maccarelli family meals, activities, cleaning, laundry, shopping, real estate endeavors, travel and general errands, she derives constant inspiration for Pecked To Death By Chickens from the little annoyances that pop up daily as she tries to keep an eye on all the moving parts. Susan enjoys travel, reading, cooking and talking about herself in the third person. In fact, Susan is writing this bio about herself right now.
Dear Ms. Glass,
I really didn’t want to give you any more attention than you have already received for your thought provoking piece, “I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands and Kids And I’m Not Sorry”. The fact that it was featured on the website Thought Catalog, which also featured a piece called, “I Can’t Wait To Abort My Interracial Baby”, must feel like quite an accomplishment. Congratulations.
Anyway, I actually received a few requests for a “virtual tar and feathering” (that was one was my favorites) so I’m going to indulge some of the nice folks who read my little blog. Oh yeah, I forgot. Also, these kinds of requests validate my existence. You of all people should know, I need all the validation I can get as all I am trying to accomplish at this point in my life is raising two girls, taking care of my house (pathetic, isn’t it?), starting my own business, as well as maintaining my position on a board of directors for a local charity. It’s really unfulfilling.
Additionally, I have assuaged my guilt over giving you any extra publicity because your brilliant work went viral far before anyone pointed it out to me. In the bigger picture, my commentary means nothing anyway because clearly your work is destined to end up in The Library of Congress one day.
A few of my favorite gems from your piece -
“….women secretly like to talk about how hard managing a household is so they don’t have to explain their lack of real accomplishments. Men don’t care to “manage a household.” They aren’t conditioned to think stupid things like that are “important.”
“If women can do anything, why are we still content with applauding them for doing nothing?”
Did you mean to come off as Ann Coulter’s femi-Nazi counterpart or was that a coincidence? I only ask because clearly both of you will say anything, no matter how ludicrous, to get someone to pay attention to you. It’s very forward thinking of you to masquerade as some kind of revolutionary role model calling for the empowerment of women. I guess the bonus for you is that you get to break women down at the same time. Wait, that doesn’t make sense now, does it?
Surely by now you have realized that this letter is rife with sarcasm. I never meant to imply that you were stupid because clearly you aren’t and I say that without sarcasm. It’s admirable of you to ‘buck the norm’ and step ‘outside of the box’. But if you genuinely want to empower women, might I suggest finding a real role model like Sheryl Sandberg who doesn’t need to lambaste a population of wives and mothers in order to accomplish her mission and be heard?
I assure you, darling, I am far happier than you are in your hateful little bubble. You might consider this. The most important of my four jobs is raising two girls. I have made it my mission to raise independent females like myself (despite your ignorant criticisms of how I have chosen to live my life). I will raise them to know that they can conquer anything their hearts desire, even if it is something as shameful as raising a family. More importantly, I will raise them to be well rounded, compassionate human beings that might someday even out the population that consists of evil bitches like you.
Meredith is baaaaack… here’s the latest in the Play Pen Food Feature.
My father sent me this recipe back in January of 2001 and I’ve been using it ever since. Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce made with a blend of chiles, onion, and garlic. Its most characteristic ingredient, chocolate, contributes richness without adding sweetness. The best part about this recipe is that it only weighs in at 256 calories per serving so you can definitely afford to have a little rice or beans on the side with it. It is also reminiscent of a fajita dish. You could easily slice the pork chops after cooking and wrap up in a tortilla and eat it that way. For a good vegetable accompaniment, I would recommend some delicious zucchini or yellow squash. Buen Apetito!!
Pork Chops Mole
(Cooking Light – December 2000)
A few days ago a friend of mine was telling me about a struggle she is currently having with her daughter who is a freshman in college. Daughter does not want to return to said college for the spring semester. From what I took from the conversation, the primary reasons seem to be an inability to adjust to college culture. Additionally, Daughter has decided to change her major. For storytelling purposes, I’ll compare it to going from rocket science to restaurant hospitality (no disrespect, it’s for clarification purposes). Daughters reasoning for this in addition to ‘rocket science is too hard’, is “I just want to do something that I’m good at.”
Because I like to consider myself a ‘tough love’ kind of momma, my first reaction to this conversation was along the lines of “Too damn bad. Suck it up buttercup. Welcome to the real world. It’s time to learn that not everything is as easy as high school.” I was also a little confused because my friend shares a somewhat similar parenting style. I quickly changed my tune when she told me that a friend of hers recently had to commit her own daughter after a near suicide attempt which was precipitated by some of the same challenges that Daughter is going through. Obviously, I understand my friend’s reluctance to tell Daughter to pack it up and shuffle off to the dorm.
This conversation haunted me for the rest of the day. It breaks my heart (yes, the bat cave) to see such a gifted young woman give up on something that could be so fantastically wonderful. After giving it some thought, it’s my opinion (and I believe her mother’s too) that this really is an issue of Daughter being afraid to fail. After a way above average high school career, she has found herself away from home, with different people, in a far more challenging academic situation, where the potential to fail is very present, and the consequences of failure likely seem unbearable.
The fear of failure is something that nearly everyone deals with. Most adults, as a generalization, are more equipped to handle failure. A well rounded adult recognizes that failure is usually accompanied by some ‘life lesson’, or ‘another door opening’ or some other assorted bullshit, etc. Anymore though, our children, especially young adults, see failure as the end all be all. Failure is the nail in the coffin. It’s life destroying. Failure is the scarlet letter that will follow them for the rest of their lives.
Thinking about this has made sent me back to high school, reminiscing on all the things I half assed in those four years. I played soccer for four years through elementary school and middle school, yet when it came time to try out for JV as a Freshman in high school, I didn’t. I was a beast on the soccer field. As the sweeper, I dislocated my shoulder during a game because the offensive player thought that I would back off. I don’t know what mph our bodies collided at but I took the hit and saved the goalies ass. I would have been a contender to play in high school. But I didn’t try, because I assumed I wouldn’t make it.
I also danced for nine years. But once some of my classmates started excelling faster than I did, I gave up because I assumed I would never be as good as they were. Admittedly, some of my high school failures were also due to the fact that I fell into a crowd that appreciated the art of getting stoned more than being a well rounded individual. That’s neither here nor there. It was just far easier to throw in the towel on a number of conquests, than face the reality that I might not succeed.
So here I am, like any other parent, analyzing the mistakes I made and how to avoid them with my own children. Hollywood asked me, it might have even been the same day that I took the phone call that precipitated this post, if she could come with me to crossfit. We were watching ‘The Biggest Loser’ and she got excited over one of the contestants lifting weights. I mentioned to her that Coach Fil might one day have a class for little people like her. She asked me, “But what if I can’t do it?”
I had to think for a minute. I didn’t want to reply with something as simple as, “Then you can’t do it, no big deal.” I didn’t want to imply that she shouldn’t try her hardest. At the same time, I didn’t want to turn her off by saying, “You just have to try harder then.” Obviously a four year old is too young to understand the concept of mind over matter, etc. To my recollection, I told her some sort of combination of needing to ‘try her best’, and being proud that she tried in the first place.
I love it when I get to wrap up posts in a pretty package with some kind of answer. A resolution to the dilemma at hand. I really have no confidence that I’ve figured this one out though. On one hand, it is our job as parents to encourage our kids to reach for the stars, even if when we know it’s not reality. At the same time, I would never want to put so much pressure on my girls that they felt like failure was a worthy excuse to hurt themselves.
That’s one of the things that sucks about being a parent. You hedge your bets and use your best judgment. When to push and when to acquiesce. Sometimes we’re right. Sometimes we’re wrong. But instead of obsessing over feeding our kids some delusional bullshit like they can do anything, maybe the more important thing is teaching them that failure isn’t the end of everything.
Are you at all interested to know what the words ‘shit’, ‘weiner’, ‘Jesus Christ’, and ‘no fair’ have in common? These are all words that Hollywood has locked up in her TackyBox (homepage link). They are never to be said again, ‘removed from her mind and heart forever’.
When I was asked if I would be willing to check out this new Tacky Box, I was a little reluctant. It was described as a tool to teach children what words are inappropriate, or tacky. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know that my irreverent style can sometimes be just a few steps away from tacky, or, even more often, a few steps passed it. Surely this was going to be some cheesy activity that I could patronize six ways to Sunday. I accepted and figured either way, this is going to be material.
When our Tacky Box arrived, Hollywood and I took apart the package and she immediately set about nagging me to decorate the Tacky Box. After a quick trip to the craft store, we sat down at the table and decorated her Tacky Box. Decorating and bedazzling things has become Hollywood’s crack so she was thrilled when she realized she could pour rhinestones all over this thing. Once I managed to curb my OCD over the tsunami of glitter and glue that was washing over the kitchen, we really got into it.
Our Tacky Box, which is itself, quite tacky.
The next night we read the book that came with the Tacky Box, Margo’s Magnificent Choice. I anticipated an illustrated guide to why ‘naughty’ words are bad, topped off with some stern finger wagging. I was pleasantly surprised when we cracked open the book and read about Margo the monkey and her missteps while talking to some of her jungle friends, calling them “fatso’s” and “dummies”. When she finds herself alone and friendless (let’s face it, she kind of deserved it), she meets up with a wise old owl. Did you see that coming? Do owls even line in the jungle? I digress. Mr. Owl gives her a Tacky Box and explains,
“This is your very own Tacky Box. It will hold all of the tacky, unkind words you might say or hear. Simply write the tacky word on a piece of paper and place it in the box. Make the choice to remove it from your mind and from your heart forever.”
I could get on board with this. This is a tangible tool to help kids curb their (sometimes) nasty little mouths. Of course, I looked at it as a prospective discipline tool.
Our first tacky word (which came from Mom-Mom by the way, NOT ME!), was ‘shit’. Seriously, you have no idea how glad I am the first word wasn’t mine. When we placed it in the box, I pulled out a little card from the creator of Tacky Box, Chris Phelps. She explains how she came up with the idea and she also wrote something that made me look at Tacky Box as more than a disciplinary tool. Because of her own successful experience with Tacky Box she writes,
“This unforeseen result gives me hope that we can collectively raise this generation to put kindness first and ultimately leave the world a better place.”
Margo’s Magnificent Choice is bigger than just an entertaining read for the kindergarten crowd. It’s an idea and a hope that we can make the world a more decent place to live, and I think that’s pretty cool.
We have already put our Tacky Box to use and I am looking forward to seeing if it really works for Hollywood. I am also going to try to lock up some of my more colorful language, for Hollywood’s sake. Look for an update in the coming weeks and wish me luck!
This guide was written by Carly on behalf of Nature’s Best. When not writing, Carly enjoys walks with her two cute doggies, seeking out fancy new flavoured teas and learning how to take good photographs.
It’s one of the oldest battles known to man: child vs. big ol’ nasty vitamin tablet…. So far, there have been tears and there have been tantrums (and those are just from you), but who is going to win this round? Ding ding!
Today’s article will ensure that YOU win; we’re going to give you three surefire methods for getting children to sit down, buck up and swallow their vitamins.
But first, we’ll a quick look at why some parents want their children to take multivitamin tablets:
Simply because you’re reading this article, we’ll assume that you’ve already chosen to give supplements to your child. However, it’s easy to feel confused about whether or not children need to take multivitamin tablets. Visit any national newspaper website and search for ‘vitamins’ and you’ll find a wealth of articles debating their usefulness.
The UK’s Department for Health officially recommends that if (for whatever reason) your child is not getting a varied enough diet (for example, those who are picky eaters or eat a lot of processed foods), have a digestive absorption problem or play physically demanding, active sports, you should look into giving them a multivitamin tablet.
Primarily, it’s vitamins A, C and D that children need in plentiful supply. Vitamin A strengthens our children’s immune systems, promotes healthy skin and helps to improve eyesight in the dark. Vitamin C helps the immune system too, plus it ensures children absorb enough iron from other foods. Meanwhile, Vitamin D is useful for strengthening bones and teeth by helping the body absorb calcium. You can learn more about the foods in which these vitamins naturally occur by clicking here.
So, actually getting your child to actually take that vitamin tablet? Here are my top three tips.
Tip #1 – Put it on the reward chart
Does your child simply forget to take their vitamin tablet each day? Assigning it as a repeating chore on the family reward chart might be key to ensuring that problem is fixed. We’re guessing your child will ask you for the tablet once they figure out it’s an easy way to contribute towards that prize they’re after!
Remember: prizes don’t have to be financial. You can use reward charts to contribute to extra playing out time, computer time, staying up late perks and similar.
Tip #2 – Resort to financial bribery
If a reward chart won’t cut the bacon in your house, financial bribery might be the way to go. You can call it “positive reinforcement” if it makes you feel better. For adults who dislike rewarding children financially, think of it this way: buying expensive kid-friendly multivitamin tablets cost money, therefore you’ll still be quids in. If you really need help justifying it, think of it as training for adult life. We all hate going to work and we get paid for that – hahaha! But seriously, those vitamins aren’t going to benefit anybody if they’re still in the box – it must be worth a try?
Set up a piggy bank or money pot especially for vitamins on the countertop. Label it with the child’s name. The child can drop a penny (or cent/whatever) into their pot each time they take a tablet. Your child will be ecstatic as the cash piles up!
Tip #3 – Swap for a child friendly gummy or chewable tablets
If the above options don’t work for you, we’re afraid you’re going to have to bite the bullet and purchase the eyewateringly-more expensive child friendly vitamin tablets. These come in easy-to-swallow gummy shapes featuring cartoon characters or tangy, orange flavoured chewable tablets. The good news is most kids love them because they look just like sweets/candy.
While you’re wallet might not thank you, your child will. At least those vitamins are being ingested, ensuring your child’s health is at its peak. Anecdotal evidence suggests that adults who have issues with swallowing pills typically were force-fed vitamin tablets as children. So who knows, giving your kids a child-friendly vitamin now might save them from some issues as adults.
Here are some bonus tips, because I’m in a kind and giving mood!
Warnings: Always check the labels for hidden nasties on kid-friendly vitamin tablets. Some contain sweeteners and additives that you might prefer to avoid. Overdosing on some vitamins can lead to stomach upset and poisoning in extreme cases. Giving your child several different products may lead to the duplication of some vitamins. Speak to your pharmacist for advice if you’re not sure which vitamins to buy. Keep bottles out of reach of children (especially child-friendly gummy vitamins), you don’t want kids eating entire packs like they’re sweeties.
So for over a month now, Baby has been walking. I probably should have made some kind of announcement or been more ecstatic but, let’s be honest, she’s number two. Additionally, she is now so mobile and into everything, a part of me wishes she was back to crawling.
As you know, the ‘walking thing’ leads to ‘the shoe thing’. I hate the shoe thing. I don’t really remember much about Hollywood and how she was with shoes. Baby? Well she hates them. H-A-T-E-S them. I put them on, she takes them off. We’ve tried Velcro, we’ve tried laces, we’ve tried slip on / knitted booties. You would think she was a little flower child from the 1970’s. If only she could make her diaper smell like patchouli.
I recently connected with Dr. Ronnie Barr who is the creator of KidOFit, a company that makes minimalist, infant and toddler shoes and he was kind enough to send me a pair to try on Baby to see if his shoes could bring peace to our footwear wars.
As soon as I took them out of the box, I wrestled Baby to the ground (she saw me coming at her with shoes) and put them on her feet. Even with her hesitation, the shoes were easy to put on. The pliable tongue bends back far enough to get even the most fearful of feet inside the shoes. She stood up, looked down and went about her business. I kept checking on her in disbelief but every time I looked, the shoes were still on.
After Baby hit the sack for the night, I inspected these magic shoes. Holy crap, you guys! I need a pair of these for myself! First of all, the inside feels like butt-ah. The interior sides and top are a soft, breathable material. The bottom of the shoe has a soft, removable foam insert. This little stroke of genius makes sense when you turn the shoe over and see that the top portion of the sole is clear. All the better to make sure it’s a perfect fit, my dears. The shoe itself is flexible and soft, yet the outside is durable and features an elastic collar that “allows the shoe to grow with your child’s foot,” according to the KidOFit brochure. No wonder Baby wasn’t fighting me this time.
I bet you’re thinking that any ergonomic shoe for kids probably look similar to those hateful, white leather orthopedic shoes that our parents put us in and then bronzed for the mantle. Not only is that not the case, I was amazed at all the different styles KidOFit offers. In addition to the variety of colors and designs, they also have a variety of styles. There are sporty sneaker styles, boots, and even Mary Jane’s for little girls. The sizes range from an infant size 4, to toddler size 12.
I am relieved that I found KidOFit and even more pleased that I will no longer need to break out the riot gear to put Baby’s shoes on.
Who is still on track with some kind of healthy New Year’s Resolution, hmmmm? Here’s another gem from Meredith J. to either keep you on track or get back on track. I am so excited to make this. I’ve found that the easiest way to get a kid to eat a vegetable is to roast it.
This has become one of my all-time favorite go to recipes when I don’t feel like cooking but still want something healthy and light that is tasty with little effort. If you’re feeling supremely lazy, you can even make it easier by buying pre-cut, bagged vegetables from the produce department (which I may or may not have done in the past…..shhhh!). This recipe is not my own, but I wish I had been brilliant enough to come up with it so that I could take credit; all attributing information is contained below.
I’ll also share a tip that I learned from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa): Roasting the shrimp instead of boiling it makes for phenomenal shrimp cocktail!! Any time I make shrimp cocktail now I use her recipe. You can see that recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/roasted-shrimp-cocktail-recipe/index.html
Roast Shrimp with Broccoli and Cauliflower
Author: Kate Wheeler – Adapted from Wednesday Eats & Melissa Clark (NY Times)
Another great, informative guest post. If you’re starting to think about spring activities for your kids, consider this post. It sends me back to the days of The Soccer Debacle of 2012. Perhaps I should have read this beforehand.
Choosing a hobby can be a great opportunity for your child to make friends, get some exercise, learn self-discipline, or develop skills that will stand them in good stead for future career prospects. However, if you don’t trend carefully it can instead become an unpleasant chore and the bane of their week.
Whatever interests your child there should be a hobby option suitable for them. Popular choices include learning to play a musical instrument or speak a foreign language, partaking in a sport, dancing, drama or a group like brownies or scouts.
A hobby can be beneficial for children in many ways, but if a parent puts on too much pressure or encourages a hobby that puts a lot of demands on a child’s time it can end up causing unnecessary stress and worry.
Here is our guide to treading that fine line between over-stretching your child like a nightmare ‘pushy parent’ and encouraging them to develop their personal qualities and enjoy a hobby they love. Make sure you keep the situation in perspective and let your child have fun!
Consider you budget:
Perhaps the first thing you need to think about is the money you have to spend on your child’s hobby. When you factor in travel costs and equipment hobbies can get pricey very fast, and it isn’t really fair on your child to let them begin taking part in a hobby then realise you can’t afford for them to continue.
Consider your child’s personality and interests:
It is unfair to push your son or daughter into a hobby because it’s of interest to you or you think it makes you look good as a parent when it isn’t something they’re enthusiastic about themselves.
Think about the kind of thing your child enjoys doing in their spare time already, or their favourite subjects at school. For instance if they are very creative they may want to learn a musical instrument, crafts or attend an art class, but may not be so keen on taking up rugby.
Some parents decide to encourage their child to move out of their comfort zone for their own good. If your child is shy and introverted you may wish to get them involved in a hobby like drama, or if over-weight you may want them to get involved in a sport.
Although this could do them a lot of good, despite your best intentions this could just end up being a situation your child finds humiliating and spends the rest of the week dreading. You need to tread carefully and see whether this is really benefiting your child or just making them feel miserable.
If divorced, consider how the hobby will affect the other parent:
If you are divorced and share custody of your child you must talk over a possible hobby with your ex partner before you get your child involved in it. It might be tempting to pick something that will irritate your ex out of spite, but is this really the example you want to set for your child? If a hobby causes arguments between you and your child’s other parent this is putting your child in an unfair and upsetting position.
If your son or daughter will be taking part in the hobby on the days that your ex has them staying at their home you must check if this is convenient for them. You should also consider whether taking on a demanding or time-consuming hobby is too much for your child when living with the pressure of being split between two homes, and possibly areas. In this situation it is probably best to choose a hobby that is at a recreational level. Bringing us to our next point…
Consider how much your child is able to take on:
Hobbies should be enjoyable and enriching for your child. You need to think twice about them taking part in a time consuming or very challenging hobby which could affect their school work and time to relax and play. For most children it is best their hobby is kept to once or twice a week.
If you find that your child has a particular talent and passion for their hobby, of course it is your job as a parent to encourage this and support them in their achievements. This could end up being their future career after all! You must make sure that it doesn’t all get too overwhelming for them, and that they still have time to enjoy being a child.
Emily Bradbury is writing on behalf of The FCA, an agency helping fostering happen in the UK as well as world-wide.
So who remembers reading the overly shared ‘blog post’ about Brad Pitt’s love letter to Angelina Jolie? Did you think to yourself, “Gosh, that must be the key to a happy marriage”? Did it make you think, “Boy, if only my husband doted on me the way Brad dotes on Angelina”?
Did you sigh as you shared it on your Facebook page and comment, “Learn it boys! <3”? I know one of you did because I saw it. Yeah, I know who you are.
Can I share with you what I did when I read it? Okay. First, I checked the date to make sure that it wasn’t 19fuckin20. And then I had a good laugh at Angelina Jolie’s expense thinking about what a pathetic, beautiful, tortured, talented, depressed, voluptuous, yet insecure mess she must be.
Of course, a few days later, we all found out that the post is complete bullshit. (Really wishing I could say I was smart enough to have detected that from the beginning but I’m not.)
What is also bullshit though, is the fact that so many women, and maybe men (?) shared this story on Facebook with comments encouraging men to take a page from this ‘Book of Brad’ (fictional or not). If you haven’t read this vomit inducing post in its entirety you can do so here. I don’t really want to encourage it but in order to understand my discontent, it’s important to know what I’m referring to.
So, are we really telling our partners that we need them to try to ‘please us every minute’ and ‘shower us with kisses and compliments’? I would feel like I was living with Steve Urkel. PDA preferences aside, are we suggesting that we as wives or female counterparts are so fucking insecure that we need ‘all themes turned in our direction’? Trust me, I love to be the center of attention, but when I am, its either because I genuinely deserve it and I’ve earned it, or I’ve had one too many martini’s and I’m making inappropriate (and hilarious) jokes about someone I don’t like.
The thing is, the ’blog post’ itself wasn’t what was so disappointing to me. There are an infinite amount of things on the internet that are so mind numbingly stupid it makes me want to kick a kitten. I’m used to it. What was disappointing was that so many people were sharing this and nodding in agreement. (You do know you don’t have to share everything right? Except for my posts. You can share the shit outta that.) But, is this what women are doing now? We’re back to relying on men to make or break our self worth?
Don’t get me wrong. I love it when my husband buys me stuff. I love it when I catch him looking at my ass. I really love it when I hear him on the phone telling someone about Play Pen; The Irreverent Parents’ Guide and how he is proud that I am trying to make this ‘mom-blogger’ thing work.’ (Yeah, I heard it Chief. I have ears EV-ERY-WHERE)
With the exception of Chief checking out my ass (yes, it jiggles, he likes it), the rest of the stuff doesn’t happen all that often. Is it because he doesn’t love me? No. Is it because he doesn’t want to shower me with ‘kisses and gifts’? No. It’s because we live in the FUCKING REAL WORLD, people! And that is not going to break my psyche nor is it going to make me lose 30 pounds (boy, do I wish).
If you’re one of those people who enthusiastically shared this post as a message to your man friends or your significant other, I would like to offer a suggestion. If you are experiencing feelings of emptiness or depression because your significant other’s life doesn’t completely revolve around you, you might want to take a look at your relationship with yourself.
I’m guessing at some point you managed to stand on your own two feet without your significant other, right? At some point, you were probably living your own life, striving to be a better person, meet some goals, blah, blah, blah… Just because you are in a committed relationship with another person now, that shouldn’t mean you give up your commitment to yourself.
Any romantic relationship is two sided and it is work. And yes, it becomes even more work when kids enter the picture. It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget to acknowledge each other. Easier than that, is forgetting to nurture yourself. You can lose sight of the fact that you can’t be good to other people unless you’re good to yourself. It’s always a plus to have an attentive and thoughtful ‘other half’, but please remember, just because a relationship is two sided, it doesn’t mean that each side is only a half.
This post comes on behalf of Glovey Huggey. I am fortunate in that Hollywood was never a thumb sucker, and Baby has yet to show any signs of it, but I know some parents have struggled and I’m sure some of you are struggling right now. Check out this article and check out GloveryHuggey.com
If you are a parent, you will know the horrible feeling of having to watch your child suck their thumb. Thumb sucking is a massive problem for kids, especially if they start doing it outside in public. What started out as an “aww” moment for kids can quickly become an embarrassing habit that could be both debilitating and quite painful, in fact.
Thumb sucking is usually used as a way to try and repel insecurities and fears for a child. It gives them a comfort blanket to hide behind and sadly, if they are not told, they will have to learn that this is a baby’s habit the hard way. If you don’t want your child to wind up with an unfortunate nickname in school, it’s advisable that you stop them thumb sucking very quickly!
Now, you may think that you are giving your child into trouble for a habit that is going to stop in a few years. But remember, kids don’t have your perspective of the world – if you don’t tell them it’s not a bad habit, how will they ever learn and therefore stop? To get rid of thumb sucking for good you need to be extremely open and honest.
If your child does not stop thumb sucking, there is always the chance that their permanent teeth can become a little bit damaged. It can push your teeth out of position, and it can leave you with a bit of an overbite. Because the thumb rests between your upper and your lower teeth, it can cause eruption of teeth elsewhere leaving your child with a difficult and expensive trip to the dentist. It can require braces or, in some serious cases, surgery to get everything back into place so make sure that you take the precautions and sort it out quickly!
Of course, you can’t strap a muzzle onto your child – that would be quite difficult to get away with. Instead, you want to look into rewarding your child for positive behavior and being able to avoid their habit. Anything you can use to break your child’s comfort mechanism is a positive – there are better ways to deal with discomfort, as we all know. If your kid is showing less and less determination to stop thumb sucking, then you need to try and change that course of action pretty swiftly.
Another, slightly scarier, way to deal with things is to use a bit of shock therapy. Take your child to the dentist, or to the orthodontist, they can show you pretty much all the tricks in the books to stop your child from sucking their thumb. This is pretty brilliant, as it can help you deal with even the most stubborn child. The worst case scenario is you will need some braces fitted to fix any damage done. There are so many ways that you can use to try and disrupt your child’s bad habit, but it can take time and patience. Scolding your child will only help so far – positive reinforcement is the way to go.
So here we are. Another year past and another year ahead of us. I would love to be all pretentious and say that I’m too smart, logical or cynical to make a cliché New Year’s resolution. After all, ‘They’ say that only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually stick to them. It’s not that I don’t believe that statistic, it’s just that I love the idea of a fresh start. No, you shouldn’t need to go through 365 days to come across an occasion to make a fresh start, but New Year’s always brings a feeling of hope for me.
My favorite thing about New Year’s though, is watching the retrospectives on TV on New Year’s Eve Day. I like to look back at the year, all packaged up with some skilled editing and entertaining commentary. Because life gets temporarily crazy when you have younger kids, (please don’t dash my hopes and tell me it’s not temporary) I taped the NBC Special, ‘Toast to 2013’ to watch at a later time. I settled down today during Baby’s nap to watch. I forgot that Hoda Kotb and that booze-bag Kathy Lee Gifford were hosting. I got out a puke bucket in case Kathy Lee started demonstrating 2013’s dance craze, twerking. Thank God I was spared and NBC had some great guest doing commentary.
There were some really great memories of 2013.
I laughed remembering all the material the Anthony Weiner scandal provided. Come on, who didn’t piss their pants at the headlines, ‘Weiner’s Second Coming’, ‘Weiner Pulls Out’, ‘Weiner Goes Limp In Polls’? Just me? Oh.
I was in awe watching Auburn win a football game after Alabama’s failed field goal attempt, scoring a touchdown running the ball 109 yards.
And how can you not cry watching Mitchell Marcus, a special needs student at Coronado High School in Texas make a basket during an official game. Marcus had been the team manager for three years but Coach Peter Morales decided to put him in this last year during their game against their rivals, Franklin High School. A number of passes from his team mates resulted in several missed shots. With seconds left on the clock, a player from the opposing team passes Marcus the ball and he made the shot.
If the Anthony Weiner scandal is a prime example of the degradation of our society, all the people who made it possible for Marcus to make that shot redeem have to redeem your faith in humanity.
I digress. As I was watching this ‘Toast to 2013’, I recalled the majority of the stories they profiled. Of course I also remember some milestones from my own year. The bittersweet feeling of Hollywood’s first day of pre-school (link). The way I welled up the first time Baby walked across the living room. Laughing so hard I peed a little while driving a golf cart in a driving rain with two of my best girlfriends on vacation. Seeing Bill Cosby at The Keswick Theater with Chief. But it occurred to me, I didn’t have a clear recollection of any of the trivial bullshit from 2013 that got on my nerves or turned me into a stark, raving lunatic.
Until I really thought about it, I had pretty much forgotten that Baby’s first year kind of sucked. I forgot about the sleepless nights, early mornings, unexplainable crying jags and not being able to shower every day. I forgot how many times Hollywood and I threw down over me brushing her hair. I also forgot how mother farkin’ hot it was the day of her birthday party and how the glitter microphones kept melting off the cupcakes and I actually had to take a xanax to get through the day.
Are you asking “What’s her point yet?” Yeah, I am too. I guess what I’m getting at is I never really realized that what ‘They’ say is true. As a parent, you go through about a million menial bad moments. In the end though, the best you can hope for is remembering all the funny, thrilling, and monumental moments that got you through the bad ones.
So… I do have some cliché New Year’s resolutions. I want to run a better website (for you of course, you’re welcome). I want to finally make good on the same resolution I’ve had since I was 26, that is to fit in my jeans from high school. But I think the one that is most important (okay, I really want to have a bitchin’ website), is remembering that all the tedious bullshit that happens on a daily basis is insignificant. I won’t remember, and my kids won’t remember that I’m not taking down the Christmas decorations for another week and a half (true story). Hollywood probably won’t remember that in the past two weeks, she’s only gotten dressed five out of fourteen days (pajama days during vacation are the best even if it is because I just don’t feel like getting everyone dressed).
Maybe I will start working on video clips for a 2014 retrospective of life here in the Play Pen.
What would your 2013 retrospective look like? Do you remember all the bullshit, or are you just basking in the happy memories?
If you’re anything like me, you’re not going to let your kids get in the way of the New Year’s Eve cheer. Last year I hosted a bunch of girlfriends and their kids for a New Year’s Eve sleepover so we could all safely celebrate together. Sadly, our painful breakfast consisted of leftover pork and sauerkraut, spinach dip, and peppermint bark. I am here to save you with a post late night/ hangover breakfast to keep in your arsenal for any after party. It can be prepared the night before and heated in the oven when you wake up in the morning… or afternoon. Whatever.
You Will Need:
One big loaf of Italian bread (cut into 1 inch cubes and leave it out the night before you prepare the strata)
Nine Eggs, beaten with about 1/4 cp milk
.5 lb Pork Roll or Canadian Bacon, diced (I used pork roll)
.5 lb bacon, diced
1.5 cps shredded cheddar cheese
Disclaimer: you can substitute whatever breakfast meats (just make sure you cook it off before adding it to the mixture), add veggies (mushrooms and onions would be great but Chief doesn’t do anything that doesn’t come from a butcher case), and choose whatever cheese you like (as long as it melts well). I once made this with ham and asparagus.
Cook bacon bits in a skillet and drain on paper towels.
Cook Pork Roll/ Canadian Bacon etc and drain on paper towel.
Cook any veggies you are adding (just soften them up in a skillet, you don’t want them to get mushy when the strata bakes)
Grease a 9×13 inch Pyrex dish with cooking spray.
Place cubed bread in Pyrex dish.
Combine eggs, meat and any veg and pour evenly over bread.
Top with cheese.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and bake strata for 45-60 minutes.
Remember, your diet doesn’t start until Jan 2nd. Happy New Year friends!
It’s confession time (again). The past few weeks have left my head spinning. I have bitched out on quite a few things including resigning from my duties as the Christmas day hostess. I’ve had ridiculous writers block so I had some great people drum up some posts so you all could keep reading. Read: I think their posts are far more informative than my posts which are generally just bitchy. I’ve had a general malaise when it comes to anything having to do with housework which makes me feel like a slob. For whatever reason, it always seems that this time of year I’m trying to do a million things, to an impossible degree of perfection, all at once. This of course often turns me into super-bitch with Chief and the girls.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that I have backslid quite a bit when it comes to my newest venture at Legendary Athletics Crossfit. I’ve pretty much cancelled out any hard work that I’ve done there by indulging in holiday food and cheer as if each meal was the last supper. (Happy Birthday Jesus!) After being all pissed off and disappointed with myself though, I realized that this month I took away a little pearl of ‘crossfit wisdom’ that actually has to do with parenting, and life in general.
Coach Filipos had been yammering on about ‘virtuousity’ all month. While there are many definitions of ‘virtuosity’, there is actually a ‘crossfit’ definition and that is; “doing the common, uncommonly well.” Physically, this idea has to do with “checking your ego at the door” and focusing on proper technique instead of using a heavier weight or doing something as fast as you can. Since I don’t have an ego when it comes to crossfit, (I’m a slow learned and still need to ask for help), I started thinking about virtuosity when it comes to dealing with Hollywood and Baby. Could I get rid of super bitch if I focused on doing the common, uncommonly well?
It’s no secret I’m kind of tightly wound. I’m a hard ass when it comes to good behavior, more so with Hollywood because she is old enough to understand. I also have quite a few things on my plate, as all parents do. The combination of ‘quite a few things on my plate’ and parenting a ‘precocious’ four year often results in me losing my shit far easier and far sooner than I should. I’m pretty sure that Hollywood is also picking up on my temper too. I know they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but when she quotes me in her efforts to talk back, I see this temper isn’t a good color on anyone.
So how can I simmer down so that I’m not stressed to the point where the sound of her tap shoes on my toilet seat doesn’t send me running into the bathroom with a torch and a pitchfork? Yes, I said tap shoes on the toilet seat. Happened the other day, people. Clearly something has to give if I’m not going to throw a seven every time Hollywood gets water on my bathroom floor while taking a bath (why do they only do that right after you clean the bathroom anyway?)
The way I see it, I only have enough in me to do a few common things, uncommonly well. In the past month I have tried to pay more attention to my ‘parenting patience’. It’s worked too. We have had some really fun days, even though I’m tripping over toys on the floor, there are dirty dishes in the sink, and we’re eating leftovers. Again. I know I need to keep reminding myself of this too because just this morning, Hollywood ran over the dog with her new Power Wheel and I told her I was going to run her over with it so she could see how it felt. In my defense, she intentionally ran over the dog! Who does that!?
Anyway, I guess there is more to this crossfit stuff than just ‘picking stuff up and putting it down’. That’s what happens when your coach is not only an athlete, but more of a a fit Buddha with a beard. At any rate, I’m hoping that by slowing down and not trying to accomplish everything at a sprinters pace, I can get through this marathon with fewer pit stops for xanax.
I love cleaning up after Christmas because it means I can get rid of a bunch of toys. Until now, I’ve been able to accomplish that without Hollywood taking notice. At this point, it is time for her to learn about giving what is hers to those who have little. This post comes from ‘down under’ Guest blogger Anita is here with tips on teaching your kids that charity begins at home. Although her links are for readers in AU, please consider your own local food banks, especially Bucks County Housing Group if you are local to Bucks Co, Pa.
It seems that each year the Holidays are becoming less about family, charity, and helping those in need and more about consumerism. One of the best gifts that you can give your kids is to give them perspective in life. This will help them appreciate what they have, and to understand that we’re all in this together – some people are born a lot luckier than others, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t all still human. Don’t ever, for a moment, think that you can’t make a huge positive impact by teaching your kids the importance of charity because that lesson will stick with them for a lifetime.
The holiday season brings with it delicious food, presents and time to spend with the family. Also, it ushers in an excellent opportunity to teach kids about charity and how good it can feel to help other people.
Out with the old, in with the new – people talk about spring cleaning, but I prefer to do it in the wintertime right after the holidays, usually the week before Christmas. This is a great time for the kids to find room for their new toys, by getting rid of some old ones that they don’t play with anymore. The teachable lesson here is that they’re fortunate to get new toys and new stuff every now and then, but their old stuff isn’t worthless – it shouldn’t just be tossed in the back of the closet and forgotten about because there are kids who don’t have any toys at all. I tell my children that Santa can’t bring them new toys if there isn’t any room for them.
This year, I’m taking them down to the local fire and ambulance station for the Annual Toy-Drive with me so that they can feel more involved with the process, and they can take pride in actually handing over their toys for themselves. I imagine the huge smiles and the appreciation they’ll see will be a huge lesson in the value of charity.
Around the Holiday season, food banks are always in need of a helping hand. If they’re making hampers to deliver to people, you can take the kids along and you and spend an afternoon sorting through donations and helping to put together hampers. This is a great way to show the scale of how many people really need help. Kids might not think donating a few boxes of pasta or a box of old toys is a huge deal, but when they see that it adds to a pile of thousands of donations they’ll understand how big the problem is, and how they’re helping contribute to the solution.
You don’t have to look further than your own neighborhood though. There are always people who need a helping hand, whether it’s helping an elderly neighbor shovel the snow off of their steps (depending on where you live!), or even helping a neighbor with their groceries. There’s no size-limit on charity and sometimes the smallest deeds can make the biggest impact.
A good way to get your kids to do something good for others is to offer something for them in return. For example, playing a lottery charity in which you have a chance to win a home, or giving your kids money to do something that would benefit both them and other people in the neighborhood, like fixing something broken in a playground or something similar.
Keep in mind that charities need our support all year long, not just around the holidays. This time of year is very busy, and it’s when a lot of charities make a final push to collect donations because people are 1) feeling generous and 2) it’s the time of year for businesses to finalize their donations for tax write-offs. Still, offering a helping hand during the slower months is still always much-appreciated.
Try to involve your kids in various charitable activities all-year round. It’s not just rewarding for the people that are being helped, but it helps to instill a sense of worth, confidence and humility in your children.
Although this recipe calls for one pound fresh chicken breast, this would be perfect for leftover turkey after Christmas dinner. Use four cups, shred it up and add it during the last steps, putting it in the Dutch oven before you bring the soup to a boil.
I spent many years in California where authentic Mexican food is abundant. After moving to Connecticut I discovered that I had to hone my Mexican fare cooking skills as there are not as many places here that serve “authentic” dishes. In light of the holidays coming to a close, I thought it might be a good idea to give our waistlines a break with some lighter fare. I have adapted this recipe from a Better Homes and Gardens special interest publication on Mexican food and the original recipe uses uncooked turkey breast tenderloins. It was quite similar to a chicken tortilla soup, so that’s how I have changed it up a bit; enjoy!
Sopa de Limon (Lime Soup)
2-3 Fresh Anaheim or Hatch chile peppesr (any mild chile pepper will suffice)
1 quart chicken stock
1 ½ inches stick cinnamon
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 lb chicken breasts, fat trimmed
2 medium roma tomatos, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 recipe crispy tortilla shreds (or broken store bought tortilla chips)
Preheat oven to 425 F. Halve chile pepper; remove and discard stem, seeds, and membranes. Place pepper halves, cut side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes or until pepper is charred and very tender. Bring foil up around pepper halves and fold edges to enclose. Let stand for 20-30 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Gently rub chile to remove skin and discard. Chop chile peppers; set aside.
Heat some olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat; add onion, celery, oregano and sauté until they are starting to soften, about 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook about 1-2 minutes more. Turn off heat and wait for chicken to finish poaching (see below).
While chiles are roasting, in a large saucepan, combine broth, cinnamon, peppercorns and chicken breasts. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 25 minutes. Remove chicken & set aside. Strain broth, discarding spices, into dutch oven with vegetables. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred and add to dutch oven.
Additionally, combine the sour cream with the cilantro and set aside. (I also like to add a little salt, lime juice and cayenne to this mixture.)
Add roasted pepper, tomato, corn, lime juice, salt and pepper (to taste) to broth in dutch oven. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until heated through. Top with sour cream mixture and tortilla shreds (I also like chopped avocado!); serve immediately.
Crispy Tortilla Shreds
Cut two 6-inch corn tortillas into ¼-inch-wide strips. In a small skillet heat ½ cup vegetable oil over medium heat until hot. Cooking ¼ of the tortilla strips at a time, add strips to hot oil; fry until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove strips from oil; drain on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
This post comes from across the pond. Guest dad blogger Josh Hansen has some tips to keep the kids happy after the presents are opened.
As parents, the best gift we can get for the holidays is to see unforgettable smiles on our child’s faces on Christmas morning. The unbridled excitement and genuine surprise that bursts out of a kid as their dreams of presents under the tree is fulfilled is one of the most missed memories as the little one’s grow older. As a parent, it’s also our responsibility to give kids memories they can pass on to their kids, and therefore it’s important to make the entire Christmas Day special and not just the hour of ripping apart wrapping paper in the morning.
One of the things that leads to a Christmas crash is the fact that it happens so fast and is over so quickly. Kids barrel down the stairs at the crack of dawn, tear through their gifts in seconds, and find themselves bored by mid-morning. One way to prolong the thrill of Christmas morning is to drag it out. For instance, give the kids one gift every hour, on the hour – this way they’ll get ample time to enjoy each present (although ‘sock hour’ might be a long one.) Incorporate some Victorian traditions like the Christmas spider web game where yarn goes from the Christmas tree strewn about the house ending at the gift. Another popular gift-giving presentation is a Christmas Eve present of new pajamas for the whole house, that way everybody has a new Christmas morning outfit.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Craftmas
Once the initial thrill of the new arsenal of presents has worn off, a great way to exercise your child’s mind and give them something fun to do is making Christmas crafts. With online sites like Pinterest and Etsy gaining so much popularity, there are some pretty amazing crafts to be made these days besides puffy cotton ball snowmen. Turning previous year’s Christmas cards from other people into ornaments for their trees is a unique gift idea. Also, making snowball wreaths, gilded shadow boxes and wooden stick Christmas trees is a great way to bond with kids and you end up making gifts or decorations for your home or to give to others.
Cool Eats and a Parental Nap
Late Christmas morning to parents is akin to the end of a wedding reception for newlyweds. Months of planning has been stressful but you survived and it’s a huge sigh of relief. A good time for the parents to catch a quick nap is when the kids are eating. As long as there’s a child old enough to care for the youngsters, making eating fun is a great way to keep their attention. Elf Donuts (cheerios decorated like doughnuts), Christmas tree shaped cake, or hot chocolate peppermint dippers are nice treats to hold the kids over while you get some much needed Z’s.
Family Traditions Volume 1
Every family tradition throughout history had to start with day 1 and there’s no better time than this year to begin those trends. Some popular ideas include:
A Tour of Lights to Achieve Lights Out
A calm and relaxing way to end the day is piling the kids in the car and taking a road trip to see all the beautiful lights in your town that will soon be coming down (well, some not until April.) It is a quiet time for reflection and it will likely put the kids out for the count so the parents can have some much needed alone time when they get home…to go to sleep themselves!
This post was written on behalf of the Baby and Toddler Show – one of the UK’s most popular exhibitions.
Hello Irreverent Parents! I’m a certified fitness professional, who Maura invited to come
visit and offer some tips. Don’t worry! You can still hold onto your drink of the day. After
all, you’re not my client…yet! Today, I’m going to talk to you about some strategies for
finally tackling your health-themed New Year’s Resolution.
What’s that? You want to leave? OK, I get it. No one wants to think about New Year’s
Resolutions now. There’s all that shopping left to do, messes that no one else seems to
notice left to clean, and more important decisions to make like whether or not you still
have time to write Christmas cards or whether or not you even care enough to write
I get that you don’t want to think about this stuff now. But I also care about you! I know
that when you wake up on January 1st, 2014 and come out of the food coma and
possible hangover from the night before, you’re likely to claim that THIS will be the year
that you finally keep that old resolution to get in shape.
Instead of saying that in a few days and hearing the devil on your shoulder laugh at you,
I want you to mentally prepare for 2014 NOW so that you’re tough enough to knock out
that devil and anyone else who might stand in your way. You know who I mean. Even
people who seem well intentioned can interfere with your wellness goals if you don’t
have a plan.
Forget who these people are for you? Here’s mine: someone (I won’t mention any
names) knows I love veggies and healthy food. Every time I visit this lady/man (I won’t
even reveal the gender), he…or is it she?…makes me “healthy” veggies. It’s really
such a sweet gesture. Except that it’s not sweet at all, but doused in enough oil that I
could run my car for over 100 miles (now THAT’s a good idea). AND 90% of the time the
dish of the day is a veggie I do love, but that half of the other guests are allergic to. I
could guilt myself into eating this pile of oil topped with some veggies, but then I’d
feel sick to my tummy later. So instead of feeling guilty, I have one or two and enjoy
the other delicious foods that aren’t sickening and take my veggies home. Now that
I’ve realized I can make my gasoline for free, I have a lot of reading to do to put it into
action, but I digress. The point of this story is that I’ve gone from feeling guilty to feeling
great because I have a plan. Find yourself in situations like this? Make your plan
now! Bring a healthy snack to a party, be the one who brings leftovers home (you don’t
have to eat them yourself-bring them to work if you need to!). Just get ready.
You’ll thank yourself later, I promise.
OK so having a plan for getting out of…greasy…situations is one great step. What else
can you do? I’m so glad you asked! Here’s a list of your pre New Year’s Homework to
really get you started:
Assignment 1: Find your WHY
Don’t skip this step! It’s the first assignment for a reason. If you want to make any
change this year from exercising more to figuring out how to make household messes
more visible to your significant other, you need to start by identifying WHY you want
this for yourself.
It really doesn’t matter what your reason is. Maybe you want someone to come
across a picture of you rocking a new LBD and regret ever breaking up with you.
Perhaps you want to be able to outrun some of your Black Friday competitors next year.
Your reason may even be that you are afraid that your Evil Twin is coming to steal your
life and you will be damned if that b@$%* is the hotter twin!
If the Evil Twin analogy resonates with you, print THIS <http://www.hazelandagnes.com/
free-printable-your-evil-twin/> poster. Otherwise, figure out your own why and make
your own poster. Then hang it up someplace you’ll see everyday and especially
during times you would other wise feel vulnerable. Plus, it will be nice to have something
else to look at other than that pile of dirty laundry someone can’t seem to move 5 inches
over to the hamper. Heck, take a picture of your motivational poster and make it the
background of your smartphone if you need to. Do what you gotta do to not forget your
reason for starting and sticking with your plan.
Assignment 2: Set a SMART Goal
Once you have your reason for taking part in the resolution season, it’s time to get clear
on what goal this new found motivation is going to push you towards. This is a place
where some amateurs fail. Amateur goal setters don’t know how to set goals. Goals
need to be SMART. Think of your goal as your next child who has to be SMART if
they’re ever going to make it into Harvard one day!
How do you make sure your goal is SMART? Start by writing your goal down. Maybe
it’s something like “My goal is to lose 10 pounds.” Having a goal of losing 10 lbs is a
great goal, but it’s not a SMART goal and will be hard to achieve as written. How will you
SMARTen up the goal? Learn what this acronym means:
S: Specific Get super clear on the goal. This goal is clear enough as written. It is a
weight-loss goal and a specific number is shown. If your goal was to lose weight, it
would not be very specific. Make sure your goal is clear.
M: Measurable Find some way to measure your progress towards this goal. With a 10
lb weight loss goal, you can just hop on the scale and see if your weight is changing. If
your goal is vague, like “exercising more” change it! Pick an amount of time you will
exercise each day or week so you can track it. Making your goal measurable makes it a
heck of a lot easier to avoid cheating on your goal.
A: Attainable Pick a goal you can reach for this goal setting time period. If your goal is
to complete an Ironman, great! But, if you don’t know how to swim yet the goal is not
attainable yet. Start with smaller goals that are attainable if your goal is a little out of your
current skill set.
R: Relevant This one is a lot like the last one. Add in some time to think about how
reasonable your goal is for your current situation. It should be a reach, but not
impossible. Things that could make a goal irrelevant are tasks you really despise. If you
hate swimming and don’t want to compete in a triathlon, don’t swim everyday. You can
just as easily lose weight running or biking.
T: Time-bound Set a time limit on your goal. If you say you want to lose 10 lbs someday,
you’re a lot less likely to avoid that death my chocolate dessert than if you decide to
reach the goal by a specific date. If your time-bound goal is realistic, you will be capable
of reaching the goal and can hold yourself accountable. What’s a realistic time-bound
goal for a 10 lbs weight loss? Two months. Wondering how your weight-loss goal stacks
up? If you’re doing things the healthy way, you’ll lose 0.5-2lbs a week on average.
Assignment 3: Goal Setting Project with the Kids!
Once you have your SMART goal written out, grab your kids and get them involved! Tell
your little ones that you have a goal that you are working on and you want their help. If
you have a weight loss goal, try to frame this goal more around action steps like walking
10 mins during your lunch break or eating fruit for dessert instead of focusing on the
number on the scale. Explain to your children how being healthy gives you more energy
and will make you even more fun as a parent. You may even yell at them less! Ask them
to make their own healthy goal so they will get to have more energy and be more fun
too. Consider a healthy lifestyle reward both of you can enjoy when you reach your
Ready to get crafty? Trace and cut out your hands on a piece of paper (colored
construction paper works well) and write your goal on your hands (you can use one
hand for your name and one for your goal). Help your children do the same for their
goals. Decorate the hands to make them extra goal-worthy. Then find a place in your
house where you can set up your goal tracker. Stick the hands on a wall near the floor
and move them up the wall each day you make a step towards your goal. If it’s a
snow day and you have more time on your hands, feel free to decorate a whole
landscape for this wall. Pick a time each day to see how you all did on your goals. See
how you can help each other in reaching them. If you work from home, involve your
kids in that lunch break walk. Help them with their goals.
Assignment 4: Make and keep healthy snacks
With kids around it’s easy to get sucked down the slippery slope of buying and eating
snacks that are so processed, it’s hard to tell what plant or animal they came from. Start
buying healthy snacks for yourself and your kids. Pinterest is a great place to find
inspiration for making healthy snacks a lot more fun. Start small and get your kids
involved. Show them some ideas and ask what they think or how to make it better.
Helping your kids develop a taste for healthy snacks now and they’ll be well on their way
to building healthy habits for life.
I think that’s enough homework for now! The most important thing to remember
during the resolution season is to take small steps. As a parent you teach your kids
a lot about healthy living and goal setting even when you don’t mean to! Make it a goal
to consciously set goals this resolution season and use your kids as your cheerleaders
for some extra inspiration!
Have a fitness related question that’s bugging you? I’d love to help you out! Leave a
comment here or get in touch through social media or e-mail. To learn more about me,
visit my website: http://FitArmadillo.com.
Catherine Basu, MEd is an ACE-Certified Fitness Professional and the Owner of Fit
Armadillo where she offers online personal training and 8-Week Online Group Fitness
Programs. Visit Fit Armadillo for healthy living tips and to learn more about these
I am so happy to have Meredith as our newest contributor on Play Pen; The Irreverent Parents Guide. This is her first official contribution in what I hope will be a long partnership, bringing you awesome recipes AND more great stories to go along with them.
My mother was a “military brat” and she lived all over the US while growing up. During a stay in NY (Bronx area), her family happened to get to know some “little old ladies fresh off the boat from Italy”. This recipe comes from those “little old ladies” and had been a “family secret” for many years, only the most cherished were privy to the recipe…at my mother’s request. I have shared it before, but after my mother passed away many years ago, I have begun to share it even more. My mother was such an excellent cook that my brother and I are pretty adamant that the recipes not pass with her; that they should instead be shared so that more families can enjoy them also.
We have developed a tradition in recent years where we make this meal the Sunday before Thanksgiving; it makes the hectic prep week go much easier. We have enough for another full pasta meal on one day and then my fiancé makes his invention that he calls “Grizzas” the night before Thanksgiving. “Grizza” is a cross between grinder and pizza. It is essentially an open face sausage & meatball sandwich topped with mozzarella cheese and toasted in the oven. So delicious and quick; I can concentrate on other things, like pies!!
Without further ado, I present you with my mother’s, now third generation (at least), “famous” spaghetti sauce. Don’t worry if you can’t eat it all, it freezes beautifully!
Spaghetti & Meatballs with optional Sausage
1-1/3 lb. ground round (leaner mixtures work better)
1 C. Breadcrumbs
1/2 C. Grated cheese (Pecorino Romano or Parmesan – use fresh from the deli; not the stuff in the green canister!)
Small amount of chopped garlic (or more if you like it)
Small handful of chopped fresh parsley
3 – 4 (large) eggs (3 eggs if 1lb, 4 if 1 1/3 lb)
1 1/2 t. salt
Mix together & form balls, drop them into sauce mixture (raw). We always made nice large meatballs, (think sub sandwich size) but you can make them any size that you like.
1lb Hot Italian or Sweet Italian Sausage (I use hot as it enhances the sauce)
Brown/Cook sausage well. Blot thoroughly; cut into thirds and drop into sauce.
Garlic (to taste)
1. Onion, chopped
3-4 Carrots, diced
3 Cans tomato paste (6 oz size)
1 Can diced San Marzano tomatoes (28oz) *
2 Quarts chicken stock
1 C White wine *
1 T Salt
2 t Oregano
2 t. Pepper
1 T Sugar
Handful of fresh basil, chopped *
* Denotes items I have since added that differ from original recipe.
Heat some olive oil over medium-high heat in a ginormous Dutch oven (7 Qt). Sauté the onions and carrots until the onions are golden brown. Add garlic and continue to sauté for about one minute or until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring for about two to three minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine; add the chicken stock. Stir until it all incorporates and the sauce is smooth; then add the tomatoes. Add all seasonings and stir.
Once the sauce is on and the meatballs (and optional sausage) have been added, simmer the sauce for a minimum of 4 hours to bring out the best/full flavor, stirring occasionally. While growing up, the sauce was generally on the stove for closer to 6 hours – whatever time frame you use, be sure that the meatballs have cooked through (they will start to float). If you see any residual oil from the sausage, just skim it off with a spoon; it’s generally not much (depending on how well you blot). Since this is a family recipe, these notes are off the top of my head. If for some reason you have any questions please feel free to post them in the comments section and I’ll answer as best I can!
I have found one of the best things about writing this blog is when I get to connect with readers personally. During the Bucks County Housing Group Recipe Box fundraiser I got to know a reader in Connecticut named Meredith. She was sending me some amazing original recipes. As we got to know each other I found myself in awe of her kitchen prowess. I am so happy that Meredith has agreed to contribute to Play Pen; The Irreverent Parents’ Guide as our resident chef offering you her stories as well as recipes.
This addition is just one of the wonderful things Play Pen is looking forward to offering you in the coming year. Sooner than later, all ‘Food Features’ will have their own special home in the new Play Pen website that is coming soon.
Look for Meredith’s first food feature tomorrow, a spaghetti sauce recipe passed down from at least three generations. (I’ve already seen it. Trust me, it’s going to be good) This recipe also promises to make the chaos of the upcoming holiday weeks a little bit easier for you as well.
In addition to her great recipes, Meredith has offered to field requests for any particular food or fare that Play Pen readers might be interested in so feel free to send your requests to Maura@playpen-ipg.com and I will certainly pass them along. I know you guys are going to adore her just as much as I do.
Because the holiday season is upon us, and has been since Halloween apparently, I decided that this year Hollywood was old enough to volunteer he time to do some good for others. Since Chief was scheduled to work on Thanksgiving, and Baby’s birthday was on Black Friday, we decided to have our celebration on Friday which left Thanksgiving Thursday wide open for Hollywood and I to go out and do some good. I searched my local area high and low for volunteer opportunities and came up empty handed. What? No shelter wants a rambunctious four year old running around disrupting the Thanksgiving meal?
I happen to know a lovely couple (shocking I know) who are well versed in the volunteering community in Philadelphia and the female half referred me to The St. Francis Inn in Kensington. She suggested that Hollywood and I package up some goodie bags for the kids who would be coming to the Thanksgiving meal (that way the bulk of the activity would be at home) and give them out during the meal. I should note, for those reading who may be unfamiliar with Philadelphia, some parts of Kensington, this part being one of them, are particularly unsavory. ‘Nuff said.
In my manic state of do-gooder-dom, I called right away and spoke to Sister Leslie. I sensed that she was mildly skeptical that I would even show up, bringing my four year old to Kensington to hang out with homeless people. I on the other hand was beyond excited to start packaging these goodie bags. Hollywood and I decided on cookies, candy, and I convinced her that an apple and a pair of gloves might be a nice idea too. I had all good intentions three weeks before the main event that Hollywood and I would bake these cookies and shop together for these goodie bags but as luck and lack of time would have it, I bought the cookies at the store and a friend who knew of my plans picked me up gloves and the bags at the dollar store. Hollywood and I did however pick up the apples and Hershey Kisses.
Two days before Thanksgiving, we made our assembly line in the kitchen after Baby went to bed. I explained to her that we were going to a shelter where people who are “less fortunate than us” go to get warm and eat food. I told her that since we have the ability to do nice things for other people, it’s our responsibility to do nice things for other people. Additionally, in an effort to avoid an embarrassing social faux pas, I also explained to her that she might see some things that she may have questions about but that she should try and remember to ask me after we leave. Yes, those are the words I used. Maybe I should have Googled some of this. She listened intermittently and tried not to eat the cookies we were putting in the Ziploc bags.
Our big day arrived and we headed out to K&A as it is fondly known. Hollywood loves her some scenery so she was very excited to see the “train” above the street as we pulled onto Kensington Avenue (she didn’t seem to notice the smell). She was even more excited when she saw the people lined up in front of the building, feeding the pigeons which I had to try not to run over. The pigeons, not the people. All I could think about as we pulled up was how much I suck at parallel parking (nailed it!) and the restless sea of humanity lined up in the freezing cold for a meal. There but for the grace of God, a nice staff member happened to be walking into St. Francis just as Hollywood and I were making our way up to the building, awkwardly carrying three boxes of goodie bags.
I cannot say enough nice things about Sister Leslie, Father Mike and all the volunteers. They graciously welcomed us and were absolutely thrilled to see Hollywood. They organized a beautiful, generous, and most importantly, a dignified Thanksgiving meal for everyone that walked through the door. As Hollywood and I manned our post near the door, we anxiously awaited the kids, Sister Leslie estimated about twenty-five, who would be coming with their families for the meal. I became a little discouraged after the first hour, constantly having to explain that our bags were “for the kids, sorry.”
After about 90 minutes and no kids, Hollywood was also starting to get discouraged and by that I mean bored and annoying. I will give her credit though, she kept the staring to a minimum, wished almost everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and more importantly, she hung in and followed through on her commitment. We eventually started handing out the bags to those who asked for them which made Hollywood feel pretty good.
All in all, there were three kids who showed up for the Thanksgiving meal. It was a bittersweet disappointment. Not that I want there to be hungry kids who need to go to a soup kitchen for Thanksgiving, but honestly, I wanted Hollywood to see that there are kids, and people, who are less fortunate than she is. I wanted her to learn gratitude, and humility, and the concept of doing something selfless.
On the way home I asked her if she wanted to ask me any questions or if she saw anything that she wanted to talk about. Maybe she wondered why people carried around bags of food. Maybe she wondered why some adults, even though I explained to them that our bags were for the children, looked me in the eye and took the bags anyway. Crickets. I found myself a little jerked off that I took her to a soup kitchen to teach her a lesson and she wasn’t getting it. Not even curious about it. I even had my speech all planned out, “Well honey, sometimes in life there are people who make poor life choices like not listening to their parents…”
In the quiet of our drive home I realized what an asshole I was being. In the midst of my frustration, trying to teach a four year old how good she has it and why she needs to be good to other people, I realized that I was the one who didn’t ‘get it’. I was totally fucking with one of the most beautiful things about being a four year old. Hollywood doesn’t have any inclination to use the visual of a soup kitchen to realize that she is more fortunate than they are. I can explain to her how those folks live (I didn’t go into detail), but she can’t judge them by their appearance to know what kind of situation they are in, how they got there, and how it compares to hers. For now, that’s kind of a beautiful thing.
I haven’t lost all hope of volunteering ventures for Hollywood and I. Maybe I just got a little overzealous about this one. Father Mike suggested that we come on another Sunday as they had given out quite a few turkeys etc for families with kids to cook elsewhere for the holiday. We will go back on another weekend and this time I will have different expectations. For the time being, I’ll hold off on the deep conversations about gratitude and the importance of being charitable. Hollywood just isn’t there yet. But it’s never too early to start showing her how good it feels to help out other people.
I am writing this post at 9:30 pm on December 3, 2013. Any other year, by now, I would have Christmas cards mailed, the tree trimmed, and my Christmas menu prepared (including the grocery list), and my gift list would be 90% taken care of. But here I sit, surrounded by pumpkins and decorative fall foliage staring me in the face, mocking my lack of motivation to switch gears from Thanksgiving to Christmas. No gifts, no menu. NOTHING. Since last Friday I have tortured myself over the fact that The Elf On The Shelf hasn’t arrived because he is packed away with the rest of the Yuletide accoutrement. The neighbors have their lights up and I have yet to nag Chief about hanging the lit wreath up on the front window. Today I decided, I’m taking this year off.
Relaaaax. I’m not depriving Hollywood and Baby of a tree or gifts or the damn elf. I’m not taking the year off from celebrating Christmas. I’m taking the year off from driving myself bat-shit crazy over the menu, the decorations, the coordinated wrapping paper and matching bows and having everyone over to my house and having my yearly meltdown about the fact that we eat dinner on six foot folding tables because we don’t have a ‘formal dining room’. DONE!
I have always strived to make Christmas as magically memorable as my Christmas’ were as a kid. I admit, there was never a Christmas where I went without an obscene amount of presents and a magical day with an equally obscene amount of food and family. This was all orchestrated by my mother who was a nursing home administrator by day and (I’m convinced) a secret event stylist by night. But the thing I remember most, and maybe appreciate more now, is that everyone seemed nicer around Christmas. And not just my family and friends, but everyone. Everyone seemed happier, and everything seemed like it was exponentially more fun. Everyone had the long forgotten ‘Christmas Spirit’. Before I became such a cynical bitch, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Fast forward twenty years and we’re left with an abundance of douche-baggery and dumb-fuckery most likely caused by the pressure and stress of the beloved Christmas season which now starts the day after fucking Halloween for Christ sake. Shit really hits the fan on Black Friday (or the newly consummated Brown Thursday if you’re really a consuming whore) when people spend hours waiting in freaking tents and pissing in buckets (one can only assume) to spend!, spend!, spend! And did you see the commercial for the new T.V. show on ABC, ‘The Great Christmas Light Fight’? Griswold made it funny but this is just bullshit.
I know I’m not the only one who has been consumed and transformed by the Christmas mutation that has occurred in the past ten years. Maybe even before that? But I’m over it. I do want my kids to remember these Christmas’ with a twinkle in their eye. But at the rate I was going, they were going to remember Mommy criticizing them for not placing the ornaments on the tree symmetrically and wagging her finger for accidentally making the tree shaped cookies into green phallic confections. I may as well draw on eyebrows and scream “No wire hangers!”
So this weekend, I will decorate, not because I have to, but because I want to (I’ll get there). I might get it all done in one day, I might not. I will smile without grinding my teeth as I let Hollywood help me put the ornaments on the tree. I’m passing off Christmas dinner to my mother in law (call me Janice!) and I will offer to bring dessert and I will probably buy that at the store. I’ll try and get to Christmas cards next week but I will probably use some totally impersonal online service and I’m not going to care because I haven’t gotten a card from a third of the people on my list in almost a decade. I’ll wrap up this weekend with cocktails in front of my lap top and shop for gifts online and if they shop up on time, super. If they don’t, I’ll teach Hollywood and Baby about Kwanzaa.
This year I’m trading in all the time I would have spent feeling stabby about Christmas to make even better memories. I’ll explain to Hollywood the nuance of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I’ll invite friends over to my (probably messy) house to eat drink and gossip about people. And this year, Chief will get the gift of a wife who doesn’t nag. As much. And if I have to rearrange a few ornaments on the tree after Hollywood goes to bed, so be it.
You know that saying “A year from now you will wish you had started today?” Since I’m bossy, I’m going to tell you what you should be starting today. Consider it an early Christmas gift from me to you (or a late Hanukah gift). You’re welcome.
Three-hundred sixty-one days ago I had Baby. Three-hundred five days ago I was cleared to resume normal activity ie; exercise. I’ve gone back and forth between the gym, Insanity, Kickboxing, and T25. Needless to say, my weight has gone back and forth too. Of course I weigh less than I did 361 days ago but I’m still a ways off from my goal.
Last spring I went to an open house at Legendary Athletics on Hulmeville Rd in Penndel. I had a friend who had serious success with Crossfit and now that there was one right around the corner, I needed to check it out for myself. Despite the fact that the box (gym) looked totally intimidating with an illustration of a wolf tearing through the wall (I’m pretty sure there were shirtless guys with mohawks in there too), the owners, Filipos and Jen Halikias welcomed Chief and I like we belonged there and spent the time to explain what their Crossfit box is all about.
I really wanted to try it out but I didn’t because… well, I have no good excuse. Last month I won a gift certificate for the On Ramp program (the two week introduction that teaches you the basics of Crossfit as well as safety). Kismet.
I admit, I was a little intimidated heading over there the first night, but after class, I was in love. There were six other people in my class who were just as clueless as I was. We had two great coaches who were supportive yet challenging. In two weeks, I was already feeling the difference in the way my clothes fit.
Legendary Athletics is not like any other box because of the attention to safety, and the knowledge and genuine nature of Coach Filipos. Coming from the healthcare field as a nurse, Coach Filipos says he was “tired of handing out cookies with insulin shots.” He truly wants to help all motivated people reach their full potential. Because part of Crossfit is about overcoming self-doubt and self-limitation, Coach Filipos will push you to your limit but he also knows when to scale back, or modify, to avoid injury. (Trust me, he won’t let you get away with going too light or too soft, but he will be funny and charming when he calls you out on it.)
There are a few key reasons Legendary Athletics works for me. First, it is a commitment. You are required to sign up for your classes online to secure your spot (no more than fifteen people in a class at a time). For me, this means this is an appointment I can’t miss. Second, unlike working out at home, I can’t dick around and make excuses for not doing it (see above) and, if I am working out and I’m either doing something wrong, or, I’m not working hard enough, Coach is there to correct me, and again, trust me, he will. Finally, I cannot believe the shit they have me doing in there. I did a back squat with 105 lbs today people! If you don’t know what that is (I didn’t until today), YouTube it. I feel pretty bad ass thankyouverymuch.
I can’t say enough good things about Legendary Athletics. The handwritten thank you card from Coach Filipos and Jen that I got in the mail for joining Legendary Athletics sealed the deal for me. I don’t feel like I joined a gym, I feel like a joined a little family. If you’re curious as to why I’m in love, check out their website and Facebook page. Or give Coach Filipos a call at (215) 436-0716. Tell him Maura from Play Pen sent you. Come be legendary.
Last week wrapped up the Bucks County Housing Group Recipe Box Fundraiser. I am so thankful to everyone that took the time to send in a recipe. I even got to ‘email chat’ with a few Play Pen readers which always makes my day.
I started this fundraiser in October, you can read the original post here, and I really just wanted to start to make a difference when it comes to hunger in my community. I believe there are more families than we realize, some who are right under our noses, who are struggling with hunger. It hurts my heart when I think of how I would feel if I couldn’t put food in my kid’s mouths. I expected recipes from local readers who had the same idea I had, supporting those in need who live in our community. I was pleasantly surprised when I started getting recipes from different parts of the country.
We are a few days away from Thanksgiving and I am so happy to report that Play Pen; The Irreverent Parents’ Guide and The Detective Christopher Jones Foundation have been able to give $24.00 each, for a total of $48.00 to Bucks County Housing Group to help restock the three food pantries in Bucks County. It is a humble number but I think it is a great start for my little blog in a small corner of the blogosphere. I am even more grateful that The Detective Christopher Jones Foundation, which not only provides scholarship money but also emergency relief to residents in Lower Bucks County, was willing to match Play Pen donations, dollar for dollar. If you would like to learn more about them, check out their website or Facebook page.
So another great big thank you to those who sent in recipes to help. Not only did it send a dollar to Bucks County Housing Group, but I tried some of them and damn they were good! I know I wasn’t able to publish them all on the website but I hope to be able to offer a free eBook with all the recipes by the end of the year. Thanks again. Play Pen readers are the best!
A wise man once said to me while having a conversation about the weak monetary compensation for blogging, “There is a ton of free shit to be had.” I thought this strange considering that I have been blogging for eight months now and no one has sent me the aforementioned ‘free shit’! What am I, chopped liver? Less than a week later the blogging gods shone upon me and I got an email from a nice lady asking me if I would like to share some info with my readers about her product. How exciting!!
So here I am, feeling completely validated as a person because the nice lady from Hungry Jack, (yes the pancake people), wants little old me to share with you their new initiative, “Bringing Breakfast Back”, to launch their new line of pancake and waffle mix. I admit, at first, I thought the “Bringing Breakfast Back” was kind of cheesy. Then I thought, “Sounds like a job for Justin Timberlake.” And then I decided that I was probably cheesier than the Hungry Jack ad team for even thinking that joke to myself so I might as well go ahead and do this. A few days later an obscene amount of pancake and waffle mix showed up on my doorstep.
I am a huge proponent of the family meal, but I always associated it with dinner. In this house we don’t get to do that every night since Chief works the night shift, but the nights he is off, we all sit down, at the table, no cell phones, no T.V. This has always been a ‘thing’ with me. Breakfast in our house on the other hand is usually a shitastrophy because I’m feeding Baby with one hand and trying to get Hollywood ready for school with the other.
But the good folks at Hungry Jack want to encourage a family breakfast on the weekends so I planned a taste testing breakfast for last Sunday morning. It was Chief’s weekend off, (although I would have to ply him with bacon to get him up before the crack of noon) so I knew someone would be here to occupy Baby while I tried not to burn pancakes.
Saturday afternoon, my mom came over for a visit. This of course lead to afternoon Bloody Mary’s, which lead to a nice family dinner, which lead to a few more drinks, which lead to me remembering at eight o’clock that I had to prepare this bitchin’ breakfast in the morning.
“Why don’t you just make the pancakes now and microwave them in the morning?” said my mom who was overdue for a brilliant idea. I busted out the Pumpkin Spice Pancake Mix and the Funfetti Holiday Buttermilk Pancake Mix and Hollywood and I went to town mixing pancake batter.
By nine o’clock the house smelled like cinnamon, pumpkin and bacon, and Hollywood, my mom and I were having a great time working our pancake assembly line. Tip; if you’re making pancakes the night before, cool each pancake on a cookie sheet before you wrap and refrigerate so they don’t stick together. Hollywood helped me whip up some pumpkin cream (recipe at the bottom of the post) and we cooked up the bacon in the oven.
The following morning, it was a breeze to pull everything out of the fridge, reheat the pancakes in the oven and warm the bacon. We all, (even my mom who crashed on the couch) got to sit down to breakfast together and I have to say, even in the sarcastic, sometimes lovingly acerbic Play Pen, it was a really nice morning.
We all agreed that the Funfetti Buttermilk Pancakes were the tastiest. Pretty much classic buttermilk pancakes but with red and green spots throughout the pancake. The Pumpkin Spice could have been a little more ‘pumpkinish’. They also seemed to cook faster than the Funfetti pancakes and even on the lowest heat setting on the griddle, they burnt just a bit. With a little pumpkin cream, and maple syrup though, they were still pretty good.
“Bringing Back Breakfast” doesn’t have to be all ‘June Cleaver-esque’. We had a great time making breakfast together (even if it was the night before) and having a delicious, stress free start to a Sunday morning. Our family did it our way. So I’m on board with this initiative that Hungry Jack has going on. Find your own way to do it and pick up some Hungry Jack mix to help you get started.
Like their Facebook page (their updates have some really good recipes) or check out their website. Two on my list to try are Pumpkin Fritters with Smoky Bacon Glaze and Chocolate Peppermint Whoopie Pies.
And here is my recipe for Pumpkin Cream -
Mix one container Cool Whip, one package dry vanilla pudding , and one can Pumpkin Pie Filling. Yeah, that’s it.
These recipes came from reader Vince M. who I started to think single – handedly wanted to make me donate $500 to Bucks County Housing Group. He sent me more but I only have so much time to publish so many before I becoming a cooking blog instead of a parenting blog. Of course money will still be donated for each recipe even if it isn’t published on the website. Thank you for your persistence, and without further adieu…
Roasted Turkey with Smoked Paprika from mccormick.com
You will need:
Patrick Kovitch is back as a guest Dad blogger. Read his tale of the best worst field trip ever.
I try my hardest to be involved in my daughter’s, whom shall heretofore be referred to as Kiddo, life as much as humanly possible. This goal is sometimes difficult when you are a working dad with an odd schedule. So when I recently had an opportunity to be a chaperone on one of her field trips, I jumped at the chance. Fuck. That sounds like bullshit even to me. Ok, by “given the chance” I mean I was politely required to go due to Kiddo’s medical conditions and her Aspergers, and by “jumped at the chance” I mean I went along with an abundance of under-the-breath mutterings and grumblings. With all the things that being a full time worker and full time dad entail, I sometimes lose sight of the importance of being around for these types of things. Bearing that in mind, allow me to regale you with the tale of this complete and utter balls-up of a field trip.
The trip was for Kiddo’s science class, to a local wetland area. The idea behind it was to allow the kids to more fully understand sciency things like habitats and ecosystems and whatnot. As a self proclaimed nerd, I can get behind that. The problems arose from the lack of proper planning on the part of the gentleman who arranged the trip. Picture this: cloudy, damp, coldish October day, sixty kids all between twelve and thirteen years old, and only five adults to watch over them.
It started out ok; we got the kids safely through the town to the marsh without incident. The teacher stopped in a wooded area and did a quick lecture about the various habitats that were located in that small section of forest. I only had to pull Kiddo out of a tree once during the lecture, and the broken beer bottles left by asshole teenagers were easily avoidable. My socks were still dry at this point, which is more than I can say for Kiddo’s friend, who decided that morning that by “boots” the teacher meant “Uggs that are barely more than bedroom slippers”.
We then moved on to a sandy shoreline area along the river. More lecturing ensued, during which I had to steer Kiddo back to the group precisely umpteen times. Apparently Delaware River shoreline sand is a delightful drawing medium. This area is where it started to get hairy. Teach moved the group further into the marsh. Now, I’m no Bear Grylls, but I have a modicum of outdoorsman skill, and I would not have attempted the trails he was trying to take if it was just Kiddo and I, let alone sixty preteens with varying levels of hiking knowledge. At one point I’m pretty sure I saw an Ent. I seriously wished at several spots along the trail that I had a machete to clear a path, and had to hold brush out of the way for at least a half dozen squealing little girls who were skeeved out by spiders.
After traipsing through Mirkwood for a while, we came to a clearing. Teach stood in the middle, looking in various directions with a stymied expression. It became clear to me that dollar-store Dr. Livingstone was lost. I pulled him aside, showed him where the river was, and politely suggested that we walk in the opposite direction. We headed off back towards civilization.
In his defense, Teach did a good job pointing out various interesting sights, like bird nests, deer scat, and the like. He stopped the group along the trail to identify some plants. Kiddo was paying attention for once, and he handed her a seed pod. I was busy keeping some little boys from painting their faces with mud and going off to hunt wild boars, so I didn’t see exactly what type of seed pod it was. I walked over, took a closer look, and said to myself: “Oh, milkweed. Good.” And promptly slapped it out of Kiddo’s hand. If you remember, I was asked to go along because of Kiddo’s medical conditions, one of which is ALLERGY INDUCED ASTHMA! Nice move, Teach.
After a short time, and after passing no less than seven hobo camps and one decaying dead beaver, we arrived back at the sandy clearing, and Teach announced it was lunch time. We all sat down, and I observed Kiddo interact with her friends during the break. Forgive me, but I’m going to get corny here. My heart soared when I saw Kiddo eating and laughing with her friends. Parents of kids with Aspergers will know why. At one point, a small wood toad hopped next to Kiddo, and I was recruited to catch it. I employed my not inconsiderable Pokemon skills and caught the little guy, and he was temporarily placed in a terrarium so Teach could, well, teach the kids about the wood toad’s habitat and so on. Kiddo beamed and told everyone who would listen that her Daddy caught the toad. I smiled for the second time that day.
After lunch, the students paired up and had to make a sculpture out of found natural materials. Kiddo and Uggs got really into it, gathering rocks and wet clay and making a sculpture of Teach. Children’s laughter rolled through the clearing, and suddenly Mirkwood became Rivendell. As I sat back and observed these kids just being kids, I realized that despite getting lost, despite smelling rotten beaver guts and hobo pee, it was one of the best days of my life. Never again will I grumble at the chance to be involved in Kiddo’s activities outside of our family. It’s a chance that comes infrequently to parents and dads in particular, and it should be cherished.
Perfect for Sunday football or entertaining during the holidays, this Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe comes from Suzanne J.
You will need:
1- 8 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese
2/3 cup of Frank’s Hot Sauce (Original)
1 lb. of chicken
Monterey Jack Cheese
Spread cream cheese on bottom of 9×13 baking dish
Chop chicken into bite size pieces and brown in frying pan. Do not drain
Add hot sauce to chicken and let simmer for about 8-10 minutes
Pour chicken and hot sauce over cream cheese
Sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese lightly over top of chicken
Bake @ 350 for about 15 minutes or until dip starts to bubble
Serve with tortilla chips or French Baguette
This family recipe comes from Jaci J. Crab and Cheddar Cheese Casserole, another good one to add for holiday entertaining.
You will need:
This Pumpkin Bread recipe was sent by Suzanne J who has used this recipe every year since her oldest chid brought it home kindergarten. In fact, once she submitted it, she told me she would be making some the next weekend that her daughter was home from college. This one is tried and true…
3 1/2 cps flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (optional)
3 cps sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
2/3 cps water
2 cps pumpkin
1 cp oil
Beat well by hand or with electric mixer. Pour batter 2/3 full into greased and floured pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until bread tests done. Will make two large loaves or 5-6 mini loaves.
The next recipe for No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake was sent in by a reader with only an email address. If you’re reading – thank you! She or he said this recipe came from www.grandmotherskitchen.org
1 1/2 cups of crushed gingersnap cookies (fine crumbs), plus extra to sprinkle lightly on top for garnish
3 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp sugar
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup butter
10 cups powdered sugar
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
6 tablespoons milk
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting
This post really has nothing to do with parenting. But I have a website, and sometimes a few people read what I have to say so I’m going to go ahead and give you a public service announcement because I can.
This public service announcement is meant to be taken seriously. I know there have been many that have come before it; little vignettes addressing the misuse of Facebook and what consequences it holds. This however is a specific call to action about a specific violation. A particular type of dumb-fuckery that can no longer be tolerated.
I know some of you reading are guilty of this. Yes, you! If I know you, I still love you (probably). But please, consider my advice on this. I’m doing you a favor. We need never speak of this post again.
The dumb-fuclery I speak of in general terms is ‘Vague Status Updates’. I know there isn’t one of you reading that is unfamiliar with this but I will give this simple definition.
‘Vague Status Update (VSU)’ – posted on Facebook, a VSU is intended to send a ‘message’ to someone (names are never posted), either directly, or indirectly (via mutual friends and two faced-ness). VSU’s can be used to convey anger, disappointment, or a depressed mood. Ex; “It really sucks when you find out someone’s been lying to you. Better watch your back because karma’s a bitch,” or some other lame variation thereof. Sometimes, they are also used to passive aggressively brag about how one’s life is exponentially better than another’s.
First, let us address the issue of whether or not the intended recipient of this message is even going to see it. Either they are, which means you are either a.) Facebook friends with them, or b.) have mutual friends. Assuming option a.) is the case, why are you still FB friends with this person? Why not just ‘unfriend’ them and call it a day. After all, we all know that ‘unfriending’ on Facebook is the social equivalent of breaking up with someone on their birthday via email. What better way to send a giant fuck you than an ‘unfriend’? On the other hand, if you are banking on your intended target hearing about your clever little post via a mutual friend, congratulations on being an even bigger pussy than a person who posts VSU on Facebook for a ‘friend’ to see. Finally, if there is no way your intended target is ever going to see your post, whose the charade for? Your friends? So they can see what a bad-ass you are? Please.
Moving on. We can now address the simple fact that VSU’s generally make you look like an asshole. It’s pretty cut and dry. Are you a drama queen/ king? Do you like to argue with people? Do you like to invite other idiots into your life (commenting on a VSU)? I bet you answered no to all of the above. Think about that.
All and all, I guess this could have a little something to do with parenting. I know many parents who are friends with their own children, and friends with some of their children’s friends at that. It’s a good policy to have. Another good policy to have is to set a good example for your kids on Facebook. Do you want your child to know you’re an asshole? Let them figure that out when they are in therapy in their twenties. When you post VSU’s on Facebook, you’re giving your children permission to act like passive aggressive fools who can’t handle a real confrontation. Either that, or you’re giving them permission to act like a bully. Money see, monkey do people.
There’s my PSA. If you chose to take offense, then go fuck yourself and post a vague status update about me on Facebook.
It’s no secret I resist technology like a cat resists a bath. I can check my email, I can post a status update on Facebook, and I can tweet. I have also mastered the basic functions of the T.V. remote. Aside from that, I am a blinking 12:00. Technology, helpful or not often makes me feel dumb and I generally try to avoid anything that is smarter than me. I’m really limiting myself I know. I digress.
I was recently introduced to a new cell phone app, React Mobile, that promises to provide peace of mind when it comes to personal safety. An app that can send a distress signal from the user’s cell phone, call 911, and can ‘follow’ the user in real time and report their location. This last one kind of got me, especially since I am resistant to something that essentially feels like spying to me.
React Mobile co-founder Robb Monkmann shared with me his story about being held at gunpoint during a home invasion during his college years. He was inspired to create a tool that could be effectively and discreetly used to alert a network of people in case of a personal emergency. Thus, React Mobile was created and I am suggesting you give it a try.
I was pleasantly surprised with its user friendly download and set up (which I did all by myself!). The app is available through Google PlayStore for Android and iTunes for iPhones. Once the app is downloaded you are prompted to create your network. I chose my husband and best friend, entering their cell phone numbers and email addresses. You also have the option of connecting through your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Using the app is as simple as opening and hitting the screen to ‘activate’ an alert. This sends a message to your contacts via cell phone and/ or email (whichever you opted into) as well as opens up a one touch option to dial 911. To deactivate your alert, hold the screen again and it will prompt you to enter a code to cancel. Should you be in a situation where you are fumbling with your phone, it will take some dexterity to enter that numeric code so you know you won’t accidentally cancel if you’re still in need of assistance.
My favorite feature is the ‘Follow Me’ option. I know, I know. I said I didn’t like to be spied on. What I like about this is that it’s an optional feature that can be turned on and off. Your contacts cannot log in at any given time and ‘find you’ unless you have enabled ‘Follow Me’.
As an occasional runner (and someone not fast enough to out-run danger), I think this is a great feature to have. When you turn on ‘Follow Me’, you can choose a duration, 30 minutes, one hour, or two hours. A message is sent to your contacts letting them know that you would like them to keep an eye on them. The message will also include a link to React Mobile’s website where a map and your whereabouts will be displayed. The ‘I’m Safe’ button on the screen makes it easy to update your contacts and check in. There is also the option to send an SMS message to all your contacts.
This free app turns your phone into a valuable lifeline in an emergency situation. Worried about the kids walking home from school? Wondering where the teenager is when they are on their way home from work at night? Is the spouse insisting on getting that late night run in before bed? This FREE app is going to give you the peace of mind you need.
2 – large heads of escarole
6 – cloves of garlic, loosely chopped
4 – TBLSP extra virgin olive oil
1 lb hot & sweet sausage (I just used sweet)
2 – 15 oz cans of chicken broth or 1 – 32 oz carton of chicken broth (I used the carton)
1 – 19 oz can of cannellini beans (I would recommend using 1 1/2 cans)
crushed red pepper flakes
Rinse escarole several times to be sure all the sand is out. Drain and chop into 1 to 2 inch pieces.
Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan (I used a stock pot because of the amount of escarole and it worked out fine) over medium to medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute until the garlic turns a light golden brown.
Take sausage out of the casing and cut into 1 inch pieces. Add to the garlic and oil and cook over medium heat until sausage is lightly brown – approx 5 minutes or so.
Add the escarole to the pot and toss with tongs to absorb the heat and cause the escarole to wilt. Cover the pot for about 2 minutes so the escarole shrinks down.
Add all the chicken broth and the cannellini beans into the pot. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add crush red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Give the soup a stir, then add the cheese. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes allowing all the ingredients to blend together.
Spoon into serving bowls and top with additional cheese.
With the passing of Halloween it has come to my attention that Baby is possibly suffering from second child syndrome. Well, not exactly suffering. I mean, how much can a human being who gets her ass powdered and her every whim catered to really suffer? I guess what I mean is, I am already starting to recognize the difference between the novelty of the first child, and the unfortunate but unavoidable (?) banality of the second, something I once swore I would never let a second child fall victim to.
It was in the beginning of September when I was met with the onslaught of people cooing at Baby, “And what is mummy going to make you for your first Halloween?” followed by the curious look at me.
“Uh, I don’t know,” I replied, checking a calendar to make sure that it was in fact still, September.
I had no intention of taking Baby out on Halloween night (and she didn’t go out dressed in costume for the record). It’s frickin’ cold. She doesn’t eat candy. I don’t like my neighbors. Why the fuck would I take her Trick or Treating?
Hollywood’s first Halloween, (although she missed her first ‘official’ Halloween at a ripe four months old) involved me and one of my craftiest girlfriends custom designing a spider princess costume, complete with Swarovski Crystal web leotard, and eight fur ‘legs’ arranged with fishing wire so that when Hollywood put her own arms out, she had an additional six adorably hairy spider legs.
Shortly after the peppering of the Halloween questions, I started to get an influx of, “So what are you going to do for Baby’s 1st birthday?” That would be November 29th which happens to fall on Black Friday this year. It’s not even that I give a shit about Black Friday. In fact, the only thing that would get me to go into that maddening sea of humanity would be 90% off everything at the liquor store. This year we are celebrating Thanksgiving ON Friday since Chief is working so I’ve pretty much made my peace with sticking a candle in the bird, singing ‘the song’ and calling it a day. This pales in comparison to the bacchanal that we had for Hollywood’s 1st birthday, partially because her birthday is within ten days of both mine and Chief’s birthdays. It seemed logical at the time to make it all inclusive event with no shortage of food, adult beverage, and a cake that cost as much as a car payment on a Hyundai.
Some other disparities between Hollywood and Baby?
After looking around I realize there is one framed picture of poor sweet Baby hanging amongst the gallery of Hollywood’s most Kodak of moments. There are plenty of photos and videos on cell phones, we just haven’t found ourselves in a rush to print them out just yet.
Although we were forced to completely ‘babyproof’ with Baby (Hollywood didn’t require this), somehow I have equated that to having to barely pay attention to her at times. I left her in the nearly rubber padded living room last week while I ran to the dryer to pull out a load of laundry. Low and behold she managed to find a hazard. Perching on the oven door of the Playskool kitchen brought the whole damn thing down on top of her. I did drop the laundry as soon as I heard the crash and wail, but my physical response resembled more of a trot than a sprint back to the living room.
It’s things like this that are making me think there is a legitimate argument about how children subsequent to the first do actually get some sub-par parenting. About two weeks ago The Atlantic published an article claiming that first children are smarter and asking why. I’m not willing to wager on who will be the ‘smarter’ out of the two yet (lie: Hollywood), but I am willing to admit that my sub-par parenting with Baby generally falls under these two categories mentioned in The Atlantic:
1.)The Divided-Attention Theory: Earlier-born siblings enjoy more time, care and attention than later-born siblings because attention is divided between fewer kids.
6.) The Lazy-Parent Theory: The general idea here is that first-time parents, scared of messing up their new human, commit to memory the first chapter of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother but by the second or third child, they’ve majorly chilled out.”
I freely admit too that I read ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’ the week it came out by the way. I guess I’m just getting tired now.
Anyone want to weigh in on this?
2 (12 oz. – 16 oz.) pork tenderloins
6 – 8 slices thin bacon
2-3 Tbsp. Bayou Bourbon™ Glaze
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tart apples, cored, peeled and sliced
Trim pork tenderloins and cut into 1 1/2-inch thick medallions. Wrap 1 slice of bacon around each medallion (trim if too long, it should just wrap around once); secure with a toothpick. Heat non-stick pan over medium-high heat; sear medallions on both sides until deep brown (about 3 minutes on each side). Turn medallions on their sides to brown bacon. Place medallions in a baking pan; brush liberally with Bayou Bourbon™ Glaze. Put pan in a 300° oven while you saute apples. In same skillet used to sear pork; melt butter. Add brown sugar and apples; saute until apples are crisp tender. Serve sauteed apples with pork medallions. Makes 4-5 servings. Excellent with baked sweet potatoes topped with butter and sour cream.
This is yet another confession. I try pretty hard not to ‘write myself into a box’ when I do these posts. I constantly question myself, “Is writing this now going to come back and bite me in the ass later?” I am always at risk of making some adamant declaration and then being a fool who has changed her mind. But I’m admitting to it so here goes.
Remember my post last week on DadforBeginners.com? In ‘Dethroning the Princess’ I wrote about how I had inadvertently turned Hollywood into a mini Imelda Marcos and how I needed to fix it. The second to last sentence read, “I’m not saying I’m going to run out and buy the chore chart from the craft store, but an allowance might be on the horizon.” Famous last words.
After giving the allowance issue some thought, I decided against it for a number of reasons. The biggest one being that Hollywood is four years old. I’m not going to allow her to spend my money, ahem, her ‘hard earned’ allowance on the rinky dink bullshit at every store she accompanies me to.
Additionally, I always said that if and when my kids did start earning an allowance, I would make them put ten percent into a savings account. Although Hollywood is a pretty intelligent kid, I think these concepts are still just a bit beyond her at this point.
So where’s my confession you’re probably wondering. Yes, the chore chart. You may or may not have seen the ‘share’ going around on Facebook about the age appropriate chore chart. I feel like an ass for needing a Facebook share to clue me into this but I’m new at having a four year old so gimme a break. If I had it my way I’d have Hollywood scrubbing the toilets for me. I also spoke to a wise friend whose daughter uses a chart with a points system for her nine year old daughter and she convinced me this might be something to try.
So as I went back to reference this chore chart on Facebook (I should have known), low and behold, all roads lead back to Pinterest. I convinced myself, incorrectly might I add, that it would be less expensive to make this chore chart than to buy one. If you missed my first foray into Pinterest check it out here.
So down the rabbit hole I went, taking Hollywood (I wanted her to get excited and involved with this project too) to the craft store and letting her design her own patterns and colors for her chart. You can find the most gauche and ‘un-irreverent’ thing I have ever had a hand in creating here. Go ahead, give it a click. It’s hideous.
The only reason I have allowed this eyesore to stay on my refrigerator? It’s freaking working people! For almost three weeks now (I had originally written my DadforBeginners post in September), Hollywood has had a pretty drastic turn around in behavior. Don’t get me wrong, she has her moments, and her hours even. But these two square feet of gaudiness has made such a difference for us.
Here’s how we work our system. Hollywood has simple tasks to do daily – homework, helping to empty the dishwasher, dressing by herself, picking up her toys etc. There are also tasks she has a history of making an issue out of – finishing her dinner without dicking around at the dinner table, her overall behavior and attitude etc. Each time she successfully completes a task, the clothspin gets moved from the ‘To Do’ side to the ‘Done’ side. At the end of the day, we add up the points (each task being worth one) and she gets to put that many glass beds in her points jar.
These ‘points’ are redeemable for the ‘privileges’ that she had previously become accustomed to thinking were her God given rights. For example, playing games on my phone for fifteen minutes is three points. A shopping trip with me is seven points. Going to Sesame Place is fifteen points. She now knows that if she wants to have those privileges, she needs to earn them.
But this isn’t even the best part. This chart has eliminated so much voice raising, arguing and fighting. It would appear as though having this tangible thing for her to reference makes it easier for her to keep it in the forefront of her brain that if she fucks with me, she won’t get what she wants. Plain and simple. If she chooses to run around half naked in the morning instead of getting herself dressed and sit in front of her cereal and sulk over her breakfast, all I have to do is remind her and point to the chart. If it takes a garish wall hanging to save me some sanity and teach this kid a little responsibility, then so be it.
The irony of this Cheeseburger Meatloaf Recipe is that it comes from my kickboxing trainer and loyal reader Jenny G. I’m wondering how long I will have to spar after indulging in this one.
You will need:
1lb lean gruond beef
Remember a few months ago when I was all excited about Hollywood going off to preschool? You would have thought I was sending her off to Miss Porter’s. The prospect of two and half hours a day without this child jackin’ up my house, two and half hours without the incessant singing and dancing, I was overjoyed at the thought of just a Little. Less. Work.
How many of you were laughing at me because you knew that her going to preschool was only going to be MORE work?! Huh?! How many?! It wasn’t bad at first. She has some non mandatory ‘homework’ which I make her do anyway because it really is so minimal it doesn’t require much of my time. I’ve taken her on a few class trips which were significantly less horrifying that I had anticipated. I didn’t even have to get out my flask on the hayride last week. I kid, I kid.
But last weekend Hollywood was assigned a visitor from preschool to stay with us for the whole weekend. And, at the end of the weekend, I had the responsibility of chronicling the weekend events and reporting back on Monday. The visitor was the esteemed Cinnamon Bear, complete with his wardrobe and his Composition Book full of stories from weekends passed with other families. Hollywood was thrilled to have him as a guest in her royal court for a whole weekend. I’d never felt more like Arthur M. Schlesinger. Really.
Aside from the fact that I have yet to write the preschool version of Cinnamon Bear’s weekend in the Play Pen, I figured since I have been neglecting my readers and I’m in an especially surly mood, I would share my observations of what Cinnamon Bear really got into this weekend.
First of all, if I hadn’t been sick since Wednesday which was before Cinnamon Bear graced us with his presence, I would have sworn it was he who rained kiddie microbes around my house leaving me with bronchitis. Seriously, who sends home the same stuffed animal to a different home every week? What’s next, sharing Kleenex? Licking each other’s foreheads as a standard greeting? Gross. Alas, because Hollywood has no concept of communicable disease, she was thrilled to pieces on Friday afternoon to bring “Cimanim Bear” for the weekend. Yes, this is how she pronounces Cinnamon Bear, and yes, against my better judgment, I think it’s cute.
When we arrived at home she requested a lunch fit for royalty, her favorite, hot dogs and peaches. Who am I to deny a guest elbows and assholes and canned fruit? Nothing but the best. Hollywood changed his outfit no less than five times, and at one point had a pink Gingham dress on him. Because I am one to look for those ‘teachable moments’, I took this opportunity to teach Hollywood about gender bending.
Hollywood made it all the way to high tea time before she completely lost interest in Cinnamon Bear for the rest of the night. It was I who found him, face down, ass up, right before bedtime and had to remind Hollywood that she should keep him company on his first night in our home. Now, what I should have done was taken some pictures of Cinnamon Bear snorting baby powder through a twenty dollar bill off a naked Barbie’s ass and started some kind of internet meme. Hindsight’s 20/20 right?
Saturday was uneventful. Cinnamon Bear made it downstairs for breakfast but pretty much resumed the face down, ass up position for the rest of the day until Baby took sympathy on the neglected toy and tried to chew his face off. I’ll be sure to make this sound more adorable when I write the ‘G’ rated version.
Which brings us to Sunday. Sunday was supposed to be the highlight of Cinnamon Bears visit. We already had a trip to Sesame Place planned and although I was reluctant to take Cinnamon Bear for fear he would get lost amongst the “Spooktacular” goings-on and I would be the asshole parent who returned on Monday with no Cinnamon Bear, I allowed Hollywood to bring him anyway. The problem solved itself since our Sesame companions had a stroller, Hollywood quickly lost interest in Cinnamon Bear and he ended up, again, face down, ass up in the bottom of the stroller. I’m personally starting to think Cinnamon Bear might have some proclivities.
According to Cinnamon Bears Composition Book, this visit to the Play Pen pales in comparison to the soccer games, pumpkin carving, Christmas tree decorating and ice cream eating that he has enjoyed with other families over the years. I was on the verge of feeling bad but I’m over it. I’ve been on deaths door all weekend, and if Hollywood had showed a little more interest in “Cimanim Bear”, maybe I would have tried harder. Maybe I would have put together a Cinnamon Bear weekend itinerary. Instead I’ll make up some colorful, yet truthful account of the adorable hi-jinks that Cinnamon Bear and Hollywood got into this weekend. I guess instead of hating the minimal work preschool takes, I should be glad it’s so easy to drop the ball and then pick it up again.
From the lovely Play Pen reader Nicole D. here is a recipe for Parmesan Crusted Chicken.
You will need:
1/4 cp Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp Italian breadcrumbs
1/8 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
(About 1 pound of chicken)
Preheat oven to 400. Combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Dredge chicken in mixture and coat on all sides. Arrange on nonstick baking sheet and bake approximately 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
Play Pen’s note – I see this lookin’ good on a plate with green beans and mashed potatoes. Is it dinnertime yet?
o 20 oz butternut squash, peeled & cubed
o 9-10 oz fresh spinach, cleaned & chopped
o 2 cups cottage cheese
o 2 eggs, beaten
o 6 no bake lasagna noodles
o 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
o 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
o 3 cups whole milk
o ¼-½ cup half & half
o 2 cups grated Gruyère (8 oz)
o Olive oil
1. Heat oven to 400 F, drizzle squash with olive oil & season with salt & pepper. Roast squash for 45-60 minutes, until tender. Puree, adding half and half (as needed) until texture is creamy & silky. Set aside.
2. Add beaten eggs to cottage cheese, stir to combine. Add in spinach & ½ cup (2 oz) of grated Gruyère, stir until well combined. Add salt, pepper and ground nutmeg to taste. Set aside.
3. Reduce oven to 350 F. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking, until foamy, 30 seconds. Whisk in the milk, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Taste & season again, if necessary.
4. Spread a third of the milk mixture in the bottom an 8-by-8-inch baking dish. Top with a 2 of the noodles, half the pureed squash, and half the spinach mixture. Repeat (sauce-noodles-squash-spinach mixture), ending with the remaining lasagna noodles and milk mixture.
5. Spay foil with nonstick cooking spray, cover lasagna and bake until the filling is bubbling and the noodles are tender, 55 to 60 minutes. Uncover, top with Gruyère and broil until the top is golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes more. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
This comes from Patrick Kovitch, Play Pen reader and guest blogger. If you missed his awesome piece on video games, you can find it here. At any rate, check out this recipe he found on Epicurious. His review, “Its like my mouth is Rome and this dish is the Visigoths.”
I admit, I love it when something like Maria Kang’s Facebook profile picture goes viral and hits the media. Most of all, because it gives me something to write about. I don’t necessarily struggling to write a post once I’ve decided what it’s going to be about. Its deciding on the topic that makes my head hurt.
I also love this caddy bullshit because even though I am very opinionated, and generally I know immediately on which side of the coin I will land (and sometimes I’m wrong), there are times when it gives me something to debate in my own head. A little self reflection is a good thing right?
If you haven’t heard about Kang-Gate, let me get you up to speed. Maria Kang, self proclaimed “Asian Fitness Mom and Social Entrepreneur”, is a fitness blogger and has been since 2005. You can check out her website here. She recently changed her Facebook profile picture which went viral because mothers the world over went ape-shit over the photo of her and her smoking hot bod, smiling happily with her three sons, ages 3 years, 2 years and 8 months, clad in a sports bra and short-shorts. It was enough to make anyone a little envious. But the nail in the coffin was the overhead caption that read, “What’s Your Excuse?”
I’m assuming the reason this went viral is because some insecure (mother?) got all jerked off that Kang would imply that no one has a good enough excuse to not look as good as her. Of course this individual most likely never bothered to go to her website to find that she actually writes quite extensively and candidly about her own challenges with fitness and everyday life in general.
So now, naturally, everyone has picked up their torches and pitchforks crying, “She’s bullying, she’s fat-shaming!” Shut. The. Fuck. Up.
Yeah, I get it. At face value the picture is a little insulting, especially to mothers. But instead of jumping the proverbial gun and giving this woman (who we are now all apparently supposed to hate) more publicity than she could ever dream of, how about going to the website and checking out her site. I did. Truth be told, she seems a little in love with herself. Most of her posts are meant to be ‘uplifting’ and ‘inspiring’. I felt like some of them were a little manufactured. But who cares?
To answer Maria Kang’s incendiary question, here’s my excuse. I am in the midst of trying to build a business while I tend to two kids under the age of five with a husband who is often not around (not because he doesn’t want to be but because he can’t be). I also do a pretty good amount of volunteer work with two organizations that mean a lot to me. I have a home to maintain as well as other family obligations that keep me a little tied up. If I can fit in a sporadic run with a friend or an Insanity DVD it’s like a gift from God. Do I have all the time in the world to be flitting about at the gym, and preparing ‘clean meals’? No. But according to Kang’s website neither does she. She even admitted that the picture was photo-shopped and posted raw cell phone pictures of her at the shoot.
The difference between me and Kang’s haters? I own it. I’ll be the first to admit I could certainly make better choices. I could wake up two hours before my kids do and work out. I choose not to. I could not enjoy a cocktail as I sit here at 10:02 and write this. I choose to. Those are my choices, even if they aren’t good ones. I have my own reasons for making them and I accept the consequence of having chub because I don’t make better choices.
Kang’s Facebook picture isn’t bullying or fat-shaming? She looks good. No, she looks great. If I looked like that I would spend my days walking around naked. She’s not hovering over the obese mother feeding her kids cheeseburgers and shakes at McDonald’s wagging her finger and name calling. She isn’t seeking out people and reposting their ‘fat’ pictures on the internet and making snide comments. Maybe, instead of spending time bullying this mother for having a nice body and more importantly, a confident body image, stop hating and go to the gym. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a tub of hummus in the fridge waiting for me.
This recipe comes from Play Pen reader Nicole D. I’ve never made chicken pot pie but this recipe looks super easy.
You will need:
Frozen pie crust
Bag ff mixed frozen veggies, thawed
Can of diced potatoes
Cream of chicken or cream of potato soup (I use 98% fat free)
1 lb cooked and diced chicken
Combine all ingredients and if too think add some milk. Place in frozen pie crust and put other crust on top. Cover edges with foil and “x” the top to vent. Cook at 325 for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake additional 15 minutes.
Play Pen welcomes guest dad blogger Patrick Kovitch. Read what this gamer dad has to say about kids and video games.
It seems that every few years, the media tries to blame video games for some terrible event in society. Most recently, due to the tragedy at the Washington, D.C. Navy yard occurring so close to the release of Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto V, journalist extraordinaire Elizabeth Hasslebeck suggested that there should be a registry of all the folks who buy violent video games. I won’t even get into who else had registries. (Spoiler: It was the Nazis).
As a dad who both plays video games as a hobby and encourages healthy enjoyment of video games by his daughter, I felt the need to weigh in on this topic. It’s not the responsibility of the government, or even the video game industry to police the content of the games that our children are playing. That onus falls squarely on the shoulders of us, the parents. Video games have come a long way since Pac-Man, and have become a vibrant, beautiful platform for storytelling. Advances in graphics, writing, and voice acting have led to the video game becoming an art form, and like all art forms, there is a great variety in styles and content. As a parent, you should take an interest in what styles of games your child is playing. All too often I’ve seen grossly inappropriate games being sold to children while their parents stand by, ignorant to the game’s content. Pro tip: If the game is called Grand Theft Auto, chances are that the main character isn’t exactly a scion of morality and justice. I just ruined a co-workers kid’s day when I heard said coworker talking about buying GTAV for his fifteen year old. I felt compelled to point out that you can take a stripper home for sex in that game, and use your Dual Shock rumbley force-feedback ultra tactile super controller to manipulate virtual stripper breasts. I’m surprised the game doesn’t come with a scratch and sniff sticker that smells like body glitter and despair.
Now, I know that not all parents have the time or the desire to play through every game that their child wants to enjoy. There are plenty of tools for parents to use to make sure that the games they buy are appropriate. Since 1994, practically every video game sold in America has a rating supplied by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) right on the box. ratings range from EC for ‘Early Childhood’ to A for ‘Adults Only’. Most games fall somewhere in the range of “E for Everyone” to “M for Mature”. The ESRB uses a pretty extensive process similar to movie ratings, reviewing the most graphic or violent sequences in the game, playtesting, and reviewing context, storyline, and reward systems. This system doesn’t take into account personal beliefs or limits, however. Halo 4, for instance, is rated “T” for “Teen”, but some parents wouldn’t let their teens play it because of all the guns and alien murder. So how do you find out more details about the content of game? Easy. There are a plethora of blogs and sites out there designed to give parents a heads up. The best, in my opinion, are the ones run by aging gamer dads like me, who review the games from a parent’s perspective. Plus, it gives an excuse to play. It’s research for the article, dammit! One of my favorites is www.gamerdad.com, a very comprehensive guide. Another good resource is www.commonsensemedia.org, which reviews video games as well as movies and other media.
I guess that since video games are a relatively new media, it’s easy for nearsighted media mouthpieces, *cough* Elizabeth Hasslebeck *cough*, to use them as convenient scapegoats whenever they need to shift blame. Hell, it has become so common that a Florida man blamed the innocuous game Minecraft for his 9 year old son bringing his gun to school, stating his son was “acting out the zombie killing game”. Really,Cletus? Newsflash: THERE ARE NO GUNS IN MINECRAFT! It’s virtual Legos, a game where you mine materials to build structures. There are monsters that roam around and try to destroy your structures, and you whack them with a sword and they go poof. The graphics are purposefully primitive, and it is rated “E10”, meaning that it’s good for everyone 10 and up. It disgusts me that instead of taking responsibility for his own gross negligence, this man tried to blame one of the least violent and most worthwhile video games on the market. There are teachers that have made Minecraft part of their first grade curriculum. Used in the right context the game is a great tool to promote teamwork and cooperation. Any parent with half a brain and who had spent more than two seconds investigating what their children were playing would know that this argument was ridiculous. But then, any parent with half a brain and an iota of concern for their child’s welfare wouldn’t have left their gun where their nine year old could access it.
Video games can be violent, vulgar, and questionable. They can also be beautiful creative, and entertaining. Just like any other media or art form, it is up to we as parents to monitor what our children are experiencing. Most reasonable parents wouldn’t let their nine year old read Tropic of Cancer, or watch Scarface, so why would you let your child play Grand Theft Auto V or Call of Duty? Blaming video games for these tragedies in society is about as ridiculous as Mark David Chapman trying to pin John Lennon’s murder on Catcher in the Rye. The answer is not to register consumers who purchase “violent” video games, as Ms. Hasslebeck has so astutely suggested, or to ban them, or censor them. The solution is to cowboy up as parents, and take a look at what games your children are playing. Worst case scenario, you prevent your child from seeing something inappropriate, violent, or frightening. Best case scenario, you find out that, hey, you kind of like this game, and you and your child have another way to bond and spend quality time.
Recipe three in the Bucks County Housing Fundraiser was submitted by Meredith J from the website TheFirstMess.com
Note: If you don’t have a blender/food processor for the sauce-pureeing step, just mash the squash and garlic up with a potato masher and the stock in the saute pan. Switch to a whisk to get it real smooth if you like.
1 small butternut squash, halved lengthwise
1 tbsp grape seed oil
salt and pepper
handful of thyme sprigs (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil (or more grape seed or whatever you like)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and chopped
chili flakes (optional)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 cup vegetable stock
2 cups dried orecchiette (or other small pasta)
1.5 cups cooked chickpeas
big handful (1/2 cup) grated pecorino, or parmeggiano or grana podano etc.
2 big handfuls of washed arugula
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scatter the handful of thyme sprigs across the paper. Rub the halves of squash with the grapeseed oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and lay face down on the thyme sprigs. Place squash in the oven and roast until very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
Once you can handle the squash, scoop the cooked flesh from the skins into a bowl, discarding the thyme sprigs. Set aside.
In a large soup pot, heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, thyme and chili flakes, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the roasted squash and stir it all up, mashing the squash down into the sautéing aromatics. Add the lemon juice and the vegetable stock, stir until roughly combined and remove from the heat. Puree the squash and garlic mixture in a blender or food processor, adding more liquid if necessary.
Return the squash sauce to the soup pot over medium heat. Season with a fat pinch of salt and lots of pepper at this point.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of cooking water before draining.
Once squash sauce is simmering, add cooked pasta, chickpeas, pecorino, arugula and pine nuts, reserving a bit of each for garnish if you like. Add some of the pasta water of you want to loosen the mixture up a bit. Serve hot.
I have a bad habit of thinking I’m smarter than I actually am. Often times, I convince myself I am too good to do certain things. Hey, at least I own it. In this particular case, I am referring to joining the herds of mommies who take their kids out for day trips to festivals, amusement parks, and general kiddie merriment. If you haven’t already, read about my first trip to Sesame Place here.
Up until the past few weeks, I have dreaded the thought of packing up all of the paraphernalia that comes with taking a four year old and a ten month old out for a day. First and most obvious is the cumbersome ‘Sit and Stand’ stroller, making sure the Baby Bjorn is stowed away in the bottom so that when Baby decides she no longer has an interest in being pushed around like the Pope and throws a fit, I can strap her hot little body, in the non-breathable material of the Bjorn to my chest while I walk around, all the while pushing the stroller and sweating like a meth addict going through detox.
Now, back to the stroller: the vehicle which tows all the other accoutrement. The diaper bag itself, holding no less than five diapers, a pack of wipes, a change of clothes (should there be any Haz-Mat level bowel movements), juice, snacks for Baby, snacks for Hollywood, a few small toys to keep Baby occupied, keys and wallet. Oh, and my Xanax, which would win hands down in competition of usability and necessity vs. space consumption by the way. I’m leaving out any special nonsense that may be essential for trips to beaches or water parks… mind boggling.
So why, after all this, am I changing my tune when it comes to taking my kids out for weekend jaunts? Because after we actually get out of the house, (a process which I have streamlined by keeping ‘a perfect diaper bag’ in the car at all times, refreshing any depleted items in the evening after the kids go to bed), these children are so much more tolerable when we’re not at home.
Maybe it’s the change of scenery. There’s more distraction outside the walls of our house to keep Hollywood from complaining and Baby from crying. Maybe it’s the fact that (Hollywood especially) has something to do, be it walking around wherever we are, riding a ride, or playing with someone or something she has never played with before. I don’t know why but these kids are actually better when we are ‘out and about’.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s still a pain in the ass for me. I still don’t like crowds. It still makes me crazy when I’m in a line of strollers with people who are all trying to get to the same place at the same time, all the while trying to keep Hollywood reigned in so she doesn’t disappear into the crowd. In a way though, this stress is more tolerable for me than sitting at home, listening to the incessant self pity and complaints about boredom from Hollywood.
So maybe those moms who I used to consider overachievers with their barrage of play-dates, library trips, amusement parks and festivals actually had it figured out better than I did. It’s not because they are overachieving moms (although those types still walk among us), it’s because getting these rug-rats out of the house is what saves their own sanity. Here and now, I admit defeat. Maybe they had it right all along. From now on I will trade the packing and hauling of all the superfluous nonsense in exchange for exhausting yet pleasant days out, instead of lazy and miserable days in.
Recipe #2 in Play Pen’s Bucks County Housing Group fundraiser…
Our first reader recipe comes from Meredith J. This sounds perfect for a weekend meal. Thank you Meredith!
I know I have posted before about having favorites. There were a lot of great comments on that post that gave me some insight into how that whole dynamic works. This past weekend though, I experienced the feeling of having a favorite.
I’m gonna be honest. Lately I’ve had a difficult time even liking my kids, let alone having ‘a favorite’. Hollywood is four going on fourteen. She knows everything, has an answer for everything, and comes pretty close to getting smacked in the face roughly seventeen times a day. Tolerating her b-attitude is even more difficult when I have Baby’s crabby ass to contend with on top of it. Most of Baby’s crabbiness is due to the fact that she prefers, and when I saw prefers I mean outright refuses to be anywhere but, on the floor getting into everything she shouldn’t be. Yes, we’ve baby-proofed. Yes, she has a thousand toys. She would much prefer to try and scale the bookcase or climb behind the couch. Of course both of these girls also suffer from The World Revolves Around Me Syndrome and if one of them is getting my undivided attention, the other one is finding a way to make me redirect, usually by misbehaving or crying.
But alas, last weekend Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop were kind enough to get the self proclaimed “Queen of the Universe” out of my house and take her camping for the weekend. At first, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to unload the other one but now, I’m actually glad she stayed home. Frankly, I had forgotten how fun it is to just be around a ten month old baby. I’m not telling the kids, but Baby is currently my favorite (if anyone is keeping track).
This weekend it all clicked for me. Baby has finally grown out of some of the annoying infant tendencies; waking up in the middle of the night, pooping during non-business hours, spitting up on my shoulder the minute I put on a clean shirt etc. She now has a somewhat regular nap schedule (bonus for me), she pretty much eats what I eat (remember I love hyperlink), and best of all Baby, likes me. Yes, you read that right.
I know both my kids love me, but right now, most days, Hollywood and I are butting heads like two horned rams trying to knock each other off a cliff. Baby on the other hand, has no attitude, no desire to fight with me, complain to me, or nag me. All she has is unadulterated love and the desire to be next to me cuddling, laughing and climbing on me. Yes, this is annoying as shit sometimes, especially when I am trying to get something done. But this weekend, I was reminded of how fun and sweet she is because I actually had the chance to give her a lot of undivided attention to play.
We spend the day out on Saturday, her in the stroller, content to watch the world go by while I checked out the community yard sale without her nagging me to buy her anything. We shared chicken sausage, beans and kale for dinner, and laughed at each other for no reason since I didn’t have to listen to anyone bitch that they didn’t like what I cooked. She woke up pleasant on Sunday, and hour later than usual too since she had her room all to herself and no one to wake her up at an unholy hour. And when I gave her the morning bottle, and we sat on the couch under the blanket while she quietly stared at me and twirled her hair.
Of course I missed Hollywood (only a little though), and I know that in another three years, when Baby is four, and Hollywood is seven, I will probably much prefer to ship Baby off for the weekend while Hollywood and I hang out and paint our nails or whatever it is that seven year olds are so inclined to do. I know they will each go through phases, some of which will be fun, and some of which will be infuriating. But for now, since Baby is the last baby I’m going to have, I am going to enjoy the cuddles, the giggles, the toothless smiles, and the plain fact that she likes me, like there’s no tomorrow.
This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Gastrokid Cookbook by Hugh Garvey and Matthew Yeomans. One of our family favorites for obvious reasons – BACON.
You will need:
Boar bacon (or pancetta), cut into small strips
1/2 onion, diced
1 sweet red pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 cup button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 15 oz can tomato sauce (unless you are preparing a fresh sauce from scratch and hence have more time than the rest of us)
1/4 cup red wine (reserve another 1/4 for yourself as chef’s friend)
Hot red pepper flakes
1 pound penne pasta
Handful arugula/ rocket
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook the boar bacon in its own fat until crispy. Set the bacon aside on paper towels to drain but keep the fat in the skillet.
Add the onion, red pepper, garlic with a touch of olive oil if needed and cook, stirring, until all are softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, sitrring, until they are softened, then add the tomato sauce, red wine and hot red pepper flakes (depending on your Gastrokid’s palate). Simmer the sauce until it has reduced to a decent consistency that will hug the penne, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the penne, and cook until al dente, following directions on the box.
Toss the drained pasta with the sauce. Stir in the arugula to add some color and a nice bite to the dish. Garnish with Parmesan (as if you needed prompting).
It occurred to me last night that one of my favorite parts of baby-hood is when they start eating solid foods. By nine months, most dietary restrictions are gone, they have a few teeth, and you are free from the shackles of the plastic containers filled with what can only be likened to cat food (unless you are one of those people who have the time and patience to make your own baby food in which case, congratulations, and fuck you).
Last night, Baby and I feasted on parmesan crusted tilapia and green beans and she tore it up! Maybe it’s the entertaining faces they make, either elation or pure disgust. Maybe it’s because I have some deep seeded psychological issues and I love to feed people. Or maybe it’s the futile hope that by feeing my kids diverse foods as babies, they won’t turn out to be the asshole kid that puts ketchup on everything. I hate that.
Note: I fed Hollywood all the same things I feed Baby now and she loved it then. Now, at four years old, she will eat the olives out of my martini glasses and red pepper hummus, yet she will still refuse dinner on a regular basis. All of my theories on feeding kids are now in question.
Anyway, I’m feeling lucky right now because I am just starting to get back into cooking decent meals again. Baby will now tolerate sitting in her high chair for twenty minutes without going ape-shit while I prepare dinner. And it’s nice for the four of us to sit at the table together for thirty minutes and have a few minutes of conversation, interspersed with “Turn around and eat,” “Stop playing with your fork,” and “Fine,youdontwannaeat? Nosnacknojuiceyouknowtherules!” It’s heartwarming really.
After my quiet dinner last night with Baby, I started thinking about the parents who don’t have the resources to put a decent meal on the table for their kids each night. I can’t imagine how heartbroken I would be if I didn’t have the means to feed my kids every day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not getting all chi-chi here. Shit, I declared Hollywood’s dance class nights ‘Cafeteria food night’ – chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. We’re not too good for that.
But in reality, there are so many people, probably more than we realize who can’t put food on their tables and I am challenging you to help fix this problem. Starting October 1st, for every easy, kid and adult friendly (don’t send me no recipe for chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese!) recipe you submit, Play Pen will donate $1.00 to The Bucks County Housing Group to assist in stocking the three food pantries they operate in Bucks County. All it takes is emailing your recipe to Maura@playpen-ipg.com The deadline is November 21st, 2013 (a week before Thanksgiving). All recipes will be tagged as ‘BCH Recipes’ so you can refer to all reader recipes for your own use, and keep track of how many dollars you are helping to raise for the food pantries in Bucks County.
Please remember that if you are sending a recipe that came from a cookbook, that is okay, but you do need to include where the recipe came from so the copyright gods don’t sue me!
I’ll kick it off early tomorrow with a recipe for Bacon Amitriciana and then I will compulsively check my email to find all your recipes flooding in. Hint, hint…
If you read this blog with any frequency, you know it’s no secret that I don’t like kids. I’m seriously considering t shirts that read “Just because I have kids doesn’t mean I like them.” I have been lucky enough to have friends (probably because we are all pretty like minded) whose children don’t make me cringe. With one exception. And it’s not necessarily the child himself, it’s the combination of him and Hollywood together. This is especially inconvenient you see, because this child belongs to my best friend. You may be familiar with the name of this child as Little Irish has appeared in some of Spicoli’s guest posts. My best friend is Mrs. Spicoli.
So, Little Irish (5) and Hollywood have pretty much grown up together. Mrs. Spicoli and I spend quite a good bit of time together so naturally, so do our kids. Up until the past year this worked out well since they seemed to enjoy each other’s company. Within the past year however, I feel like Mrs. Spicoli and I have turned into referees at a prison rodeo.
Separately, they are both lovely. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. They are good kids, but they each have their moments. I know Hollywood manages to get along with her other friends, mostly girls but boys too. I’m pretty sure Little Irish doesn’t have this problem with his other pals either. So why is it that all the sudden, putting these two together is like giving Mogwai’s water after midnight?
Their time together always starts out okay. In fact, I can only tell Hollywood that Little Irish is coming over thirty minutes prior to his arrival because if I were to tell her in the morning, I would be peppered with questions all day as to his whereabouts, eta, and his current state of well being. She practically bounces off the walls when they are finally reunited and off they run to the play room. Mrs. Spicoli and I can barely get through half a cocktail before their honeymoon ends and the bullshit begins.
I really don’t know who starts the fire between the two of them either. I know Hollywood is a big fan of ignoring Little Irish which makes him bat shit crazy. Although this tactic might serve her well with the opposite sex in another ten years, right now, she needs to know that she needs to treat people the way she would want to be treated. Little Irish on the other hand does like to ‘tattle’ over just about everything. Hollywood said, “What the heck!?” the other day, and he felt the need to scold her for saying ‘bad words’. Seriously kid? My general rule for ‘play-dates’ is, if no one is bleeding, and you haven’t broken anything of mine, kids need to work it out themselves. I’m usually able to stick to this but lately, after the tenth ‘tattle’, I’m reading to crack skulls.
The only reasonable explanation Mrs. Spicoli and I could come up with is that Hollywood and Little Irish have developed more of a sibling rivalry as opposed to a friendship. While I was writing this post I was trying to come up with a solution for this dilemma. Do Mrs. Spicoli and I ‘break-up’ because our kids can’t act like reasonable humans when they are in the same house? Should we declare divorce for Hollywood and Little Irish (which would put a serious damper on our relationship as we are rarely able to go ‘out-out’ without the kids)? No. I’m never going to acquiesce to giving up a friendship, or even being ‘less friends’ because our kids act like little assholes around one another.
But that still doesn’t mean I have the solution, or that there is one. For now all I can do is hope that this ‘sibling rivalry’ they have going on will end up being a short lived, miserable phase in a relationship that will ultimately end up being pretty great.
It is with my pleasure that Play Pen; The Irreverent Parents’ Guide welcomes Creed from dadforbeginners.com
Parents don’t come with a Surgeon General’s warning like other hazardous things. But parenting can be hazardous. Not just to the parent, but more so to the child.
Naturally, I want my child to be like me. That is the inherently selfish yet often subconscious desire of all fathers. But is that right? Are you, the father, really a good template from which to craft a new human?
Anyone can have kids, often times without even trying. There is no sign-up sheet, no waitlist, no prerequisites, no take-a-number-and-we’ll-call-you-when-you’re-baby’s-ready, none of that. There is absolutely no screening process to become a parent. If your parts are all in working order, have at it!
Babies don’t descend magically from the heavens. They explode all over your life. Just like Harry Truman commissioning a J. Robert Oppenheimer concoction…you know, when you think you’re getting what you want but it turns out you’re mind is nowhere near ready to accept what you’ve done?
Being prepared for fatherhood means having a willingness to retreat from your lifestyle. It means altruism, not egocentrism. Soon-to-be-fathers are often living in a mental fantasy world erected around the idea that they will have the opportunity to mold a newborn (hopefully a boy) in their own image of greatness.
The problem is two-fold.
Firstly, most new fathers cannot comprehend what they are actually getting into. Having a newborn is work. Like work, work. Like second job type work. Let’s not get it twisted, babies are cute and everything…in small doses and at your whimsy…or when they belong to someone else. However, babies are exceedingly needy and annoying when you’re the sole proprietor of their existence. Can you, the new father, even comprehend that?
Secondly, there are a lot of d-bags out there that should be prohibited from procreating. The world is abundant with junkies, wackos, swag jockeys, T-Pain fans, and a full spectrum of individuals of questionable maturity. These are the people who are reproducing. Keep in mind that every time you’ve felt average, whether it was mentally, physically, professionally, even sexually…average implies that roughly 50% of the population is still not on your level. Scary.
Are you one of these people who probably shouldn’t be perpetuating your genome? It may be the hardest truth you’ve ever had to admit to yourself…that you’re not ready for this type of responsibility.
The question you must ask as a new father is whether or not you are fit to be a parent. There are some hard truths to face as a father. It is easy to fail. It is even easier to feel like a failure. Moreover, if you’re not yet a new father but your prenatal fate has already been sealed, how will you adapt? You can’t assume you’ll be fine. Everyone can see the fear in your eyes and hear the terror in your hollow, empty words.
It sounds fun, doesn’t it? Having a “little you” hanging around. Someone who can take the proverbial torch that is your masculine essence and run with it. Those days will come. But in the immediacy, it is the tougher questions of new fatherhood that need to be addressed.
Identify yourself first as a new dad. Define yourself and don’t be a pussy, be honest. No matter how brutal and discouraging your self-assessment may be, it will signify a level of growth and ownership that is required in a father.
Creed is just another confused squirrel in the tree of fatherhood trying to find a nut. Read more at dadforbeginners.com. Find him on Twitter @novicefather, but don’t expect any useful advice.
I have been having such difficulty with Hollywood lately, I feel like I could benefit from a clinical manual to differentiate the multiple personalities of girls. So I’m writing my own. Feel free to refer to this mock-manual, or add personalities of your own subjects. Disclaimer: I said differentiate, not deal with – I have no clue and therefore have no advice for you.
The Diva (also known in some case studies as The Drama Queen) – The most common personality of the subject in question. It is not just the incessant singing and dancing, but the characteristic of taking everything to the nth degree. Any small misstep may set off the subject into a performance worthy of an Oscar. Refer to ‘Sock-Gate 2013’ here. Also note that the subject is, as I type, having a meltdown over her inability to successfully puncture the hole with a straw through a juice box despite multiple, reasonable offers from me to assist her.
The Manipulator – Mostly likely induced by having a (not so new) younger sibling who requires much attention previously reserved for the subject. This trait manifests itself in the form of relentless reminders that “No one loves me,” and “I have no one to play with.” In this particular case, you will find that this is horse shit, as I have made every effort to put aside special, ‘Hollywood and Mommy time’ in order to avoid this. A sub division of The Manipulator also includes the habit of prefacing completely outrageous requests such as M&M’s for breakfast, or painting her own fingernails with a strategically timed, “Mommy, I love you.”
The Spawn of Satan – This personality generally appears when the subject has not gotten her way, or has been punished for unacceptable behavior. The subject will begin to emit noises only heard in a jungle during mating season, her facial features becoming increasingly red, until the tears flow and the wailing begins. In some cases, this is combined with a “You’re mean,” and / or “It’s not fair,” at a cruel decibel.
The Loner – A more rare occasion, when all of the sudden it occurs to me that the house is eerily quiet (which any parent knows is cause for suspicion), I will frantically hunt for the subject and find her, peacefully playing, by herself. Automatically assuming something is wrong, I will ask, “Hey, you okay?” She barely turns around to say nonchalantly, “Yeah, just playing.” At time of print, I cannot say with any confidence that the subject is not actually plotting some sort of takeover.
The Lover – A bittersweet condition only because this face is more likely to emerge when the subject is sick, or has had a bad dream or an injury. At times, the subject will become so physically affectionate that I find myself convinced that she would crawl inside my skin if she could. The innocuous chilly morning will also induce this cuddly behavior and it is not above me to leave the windows open downstairs the night before if I’m anticipating the need of extra snuggles the following morning.
The BFF – The personality that amazes me the most, but unfortunately, shows up with less frequency than all the others at this point in the subject’s development. When the subject and I are alone, and I can give her my undivided attention, she exhibits such maturity and such likeability. Actual exchange of conversation takes place in these instances, and unlike most conversations with four year olds, I don’t find myself bored to tears. There are even occasions, when the subject exhibits an actual understanding of me as a person. There have been times, when Baby is screaming her head off, and I’m about to lose my shit, that the subject will walk over to her and try and soothe her saying sweetly, “Now don’t cry, you’re making mommy upset, you don’t need to cry Baby.” Or she will come over to me while I have my head in my hands and I’m sobbing, rub my back and say, “It’s okay, Mommy, you don’t have to cry too.”
It is this personality that makes every other one worth it.
It was a bad morning here in the Play Pen. Hollywood’s first day of preschool and I didn’t even post her picture on Facebook. For shame! I considered it, but decided against it because I had it in my head that this picture would be a sham. She didn’t even want her picture taken (the sun was in her eeeeyyyyes!). We pretty much fought on the front lawn over my desperate need to document this occasion which was supposed to be so fun and exciting but in reality was a nightmare.
Allow me to digress. Hollywood woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and when she came downstairs in the middle of Baby having her bottle, she demanded that I prepare her breakfast. I did my best to tap into my pre-coffee patience and remind her that every morning she gets her breakfast once I’m done feeding Baby. She did not respond well to this so instead of having a nutritious start to her day like eggs, juice, toast and grapes (the menu I had planned in my head last night), she had a Pop Tart and a juice box.
When it was time to get dressed, we agreed on an outfit that was only marginally cute since all of her new outfits are for cooler weather and it is one-hundred degrees today. She almost got through the entire process of dressing herself until it came time to put on her socks. She had herself convinced that the sock she was trying to get on her left foot was made wrong, as if Hanes had manufactured these socks as a conspiracy to fuck with her. Conniption fit ensued.
With another forty-five minutes to kill until leaving, I decided to try and take pictures to avoid being the parent at preschool who holds up the whole day by snapping away at their precious little snowflake. Unable to take pictures inside because my living room looks like a bomb went off, we went outside. It was only then that I realized I haven’t weeded the flower beds since I planted them in the spring. I strategically planted Hollywood in front of the overgrown butterfly bush which would take up the whole frame of the picture. Maybe she was still bitter over ‘sock-gate’ but she refused to look directly at me and could only muster a few fake smiles.
I let it go because I could hear Baby inside screaming in the Pack ’n’ Play. This is her full time job now by the way. Anytime she is put in the Pack ‘n’ Play, her walker, or jumper, she screams her sweet little head off. When we got back inside, Hollywood decided to make a little game out of this by trying to sing her own Katy Perry compilation louder than Baby screamed. It’s miraculous that I was able to hear for a second, a clip on the news about September 11th. Yes, I spent the beginning of my morning being so self-involved and pissed off that nothing was going well, that I forgot what today is.
After silently scolding myself over this, I brought Baby into the kitchen with me in the vain hope that she might sit in the highchair quietly while I loaded the dishwasher. She started to scream as soon as I opened the door where I found an inch of water pooling at the bottom. And right before I lost my shit, I started to laugh at myself, because I felt so stupid.
Someone else’s day probably started the same way twelve years ago today. Someone else probably had a shitty ass morning, forgot to kiss their husband, hug their kid, pat their dog on the head or smile at the neighbor. And then they never got the chance to do it again. When everything was falling to shit this morning, I couldn’t wait to get Hollywood in the car and into preschool so I could have two and a half hours without her arguing with me, or singing Katy Perry, or teasing the dogs. But at that moment, with Baby screaming in the highchair, my broken dishwasher, and Hollywood screaming, I mean singing Katy Perry in the living room, I had to remind myself that there are people out there who would kill to have one more morning with someone they have lost, even if the morning was less than picture perfect.
I still haven’t posted a ‘First Day’ picture on Facebook and I probably won’t. I have a few pictures on my phone of Hollywood’s first day of preschool and I’m sure that years from now when I look at them, I won’t remember her obstinacy over her sock, the broken dishwasher, or the fact that Baby screamed all morning. They will just be pictures and memories which are nice to hold on to. What I’m going to try and remember though, is that it’s the moments in between taking those perfect pictures that get you from one smiling picture to the next, and that is probably more important.
So we went to preschool today, Hollywood in her less than perfect outfit, me in a pair of bright blue yoga pants and greasy hair, and Baby, still in her pajamas and probably a wet diaper. And even though Hollywood, who didn’t share my little epiphany of how fleeting time and life is, proceeded to tell me on the way to her first day at preschool that my car was dirty and I needed to wash it, I simply responded by saying “I love you.”
Today is Grandparents Day. I’m still at odds with myself over whether or not this is even a warranted holiday. There is Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. Grandparents get cards for these holidays because it stands to reason if you are a grandparent, you have most likely been a mom or a dad. But now they get their own exclusive recognition of their generational status? I’m not arguing that recognizing grandparents isn’t a nice thing. Certainly they deserve to be recognized. But since this is The Irreverent Parents’ Guide, I am choosing to share with you a few of the charming things that Hollywood’s grandparents have taught her which drive me absolutely friggin’ insane. I will refrain from placing blame, I mean giving ‘credit’ to maternal and paternal sides to protect the identity of the offender, I mean grandparent.
Jumping on the bed – Who wouldn’t like to have a playful little tussle on a great big bed. Don’t get me wrong, I see the appeal. Problem is, once a child is encouraged by an adult to jump on the bed, this is all they will want to do anytime they are near a bed, this includes the domestic areas of department stores. Additionally, when Hollywood first came home and showed me her little bed trick, she was of smaller stature than she is now. At this juncture in her development, although the likelihood of her bouncing off the bed and onto the floor is less, the likelihood that she’s going to pop a spring in my mattress is more.
Wearing make-up – Hollywood is four. Of course she’s not going off to preschool in make-up. But ever since she got a play vanity at mom-mom’s house (and mom-mom’s expired make-up), she has developed a propensity to sit in front of a mirror while covering her cheeks with blush, drawing on extra eyebrows and smearing on lipstick ala Marilyn Manson. She looks like a baby prostitute. Now, every time I am in the bathroom putting on make-up, she stands on the toilet and nags me to let her play with my make-up. I need to start locking the door.
Riding on the carts at the grocery store – Ever since I was little and my own mother (accidentally?) ran me over after I fell off the back of the cart (I’m pretty sure that was tough love), I’ve never been a fan of kids riding on shopping carts. Each and every time I take her to a store, I end up needing to remind her that “Mama don’t roll like that.” This is the number one cause of “But mom-mom lets me do iiiiiit.”
Playing with my cell phone – Yes, I admit that Hollywood knowing how to use my phone has been convenient at times. Nothing quells boredom in a waiting room like watching Katy Perry videos on You Tube. But now that she has been schooled in the art of selfies, and making ‘home video’, she is clogging up my phone with blurry pictures of her toe nails and video of the TV while she in fact watches the very same TV.
Talking baby talk to Baby – Personally, I loathe baby talk. I liken baby talk to talking louder and slower to a person who is deaf. In both cases, when you baby talk or talk to a deaf person louder and slower than you would anyone else, you’re (probably inadvertently) dumbing them down (this is a whole post in an of itself). Hollywood needs to be reminded that her little sister is a small human being and she needs to hear real words with normal cadence and tone. I attribute this to grandparents because I know that babble doesn’t come out of my mouth.
‘Playing glue’- What’s that you say? ‘Playing glue’ isn’t a thing? Oh but it is. All it takes is a bottle of Elmer’s School Glue, some paper and your fingers and you can ‘play glue’ too! There are no rules, just put the glue wherever, and then slap it against whatever, and there you have ‘playing glue’. And you thought Play-Doh was bad.
Drinking the milk out of the bowl – Yes, it is adorable when your two year old clumsily picks up that bowl for the first time and giggles and slurps. You graciously wipe up the milk that they spilled all down the front of them, onto the chair, and onto the floor. Shucks, how cute. I’m here to tell you it gets exponentially less cute as the days wear on.
But I guess these are the joys of being a grandparent. They are the wiser, exponentially more patient, and many times more fun version of parents and they have earned the right to teach our kids some adorably annoying things, even if it does drive the parent’s nuts. We (parents) and grandkids should consider ourselves lucky to have them around. So if there are any grandparents reading, Happy Grandparent’s Day. To Hollywood and Baby’s grandparent’s – look for your glue card in the mail. XO
I have always had a strong dislike for teenagers. I didn’t even like most of them when I was one. In this post I would like to identify exactly why, and ask for help from those of you, who in fact, have teenagers. In three words. What. The. Fuck. After a perfectly nice walk last week with Chief, Hollywood, and Baby, we came upon a group of five in the parking lot of Chief’s firehouse. Three sitting, two doing ‘freestyle’ (this is what I hear it referred to as) jumps off the ramps and curbs with a scooter and a bike. Let me preface this by saying there are a number of “No Trespassing” signs around the parking lot. Both parking lots, there are two, because both are in full trajectory of fire trucks that are potentially leaving the fire house at emergency speed. Let me also say that this has NOTHING to do with Chief in fact being Chief. Trust. I could care less. Situations like these get me equally irate when it doesn’t have to do with someone in a position of authority telling a juvenile what to do.
Anyway, on our way home from our walk, we came upon the aforementioned teenagers. As we approached them, I asked Chief, in the most non confrontational way I could muster, “Aren’t you going to say something to them?” His reply, “There are signs posted. It’s not my problem.”
I take issue with this for two reasons. Yes, there are signs. Which means one, or both, of two things. These kids are either illiterate (unlikely), or they are blatantly choosing to ignore the signs. This is the first thing to piss me off.
As we get closer, Chief has a change of heart and says in his coolest, most teen friendly, non-confrontational voice, “Hey guys, we don’t really want you jumping off the curbs like that because we don’t want you to get hurt, mmkay?” Meanwhile I’m thinking, “I would pay good money to see one of you ass-hats bounce off that concrete.”
Only one of those little fuckers had a hair on his ass to mutter, “Huh?” The rest refused to make eye contact and stared at their cell phones. Chief repeats himself as we continue walking. “Yeah, ok,” pimple faced Bieber says. I respond with, “Fucking punks.” Chief is not happy and tells me so as we continue home. I know you all probably feel sorry for him because he is married to me (and my diarrhea of the mouth), you don’t have to tell me.
So, can someone please explain to me what is up with this? Since when do kids think they are above respecting an adult enough to look them in the eye and acknowledge them? When did this happen? I know I over-react to a lot, and maybe there is something to be said about Chief being a more patient parent than me. After all, if these douche-nozzles having me furiously typing about a ninety second episode, what am I going to do when Hollywood comes home pregnant or something? Jesus Henry Christ on a crutch…
Anyway, the few teenagers I know can look me in the eye, hold a conversation with me and at least pretend like they know the boundaries of normal social conduct. I don’t necessarily think that it’s just because they are familiar with me either. I believe they act like this with other adults. I just can’t wrap my head around this outright display of shitty ass manners. I feel like I should pop a Geritol by the way as I write this.
When I was a teenager, I would have never entertained the idea of ignoring an adult when they spoke to me. Regardless of whether or not I thought they were an asshole or were wrong, I looked them in the eye and answered, even if I had to take a lick for being wrong. I realize this is an open ended post but really, can someone please tell me where the disconnect is. What the hell is up with these kids, teenagers specifically? Am I over-reacting?
I received a message, a request for support if you will, from ‘Silence of the Mom’ on Play Pen’s Facebook page on Saturday night. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. She had already linked me in one of her blog posts from last week and here she was doing it again!? Such validation (sigh), “I am funny and interesting.” Not having the time to read her actually post, I responded with gratitude that was laden with exclamation points (she told me I was her chosen one!) and assured her that I would support her in anything. Little did I know this post was basically tagging me in a chain letter that is apparently circling the blogosphere. It’s a good thing she is so cool, otherwise I would have told her to fuck off. So here is my response to ‘Five Things’.
Five Things I Have A Passion For
My Two Girls – I realize this should go without saying. Who wouldn’t say they have a passion for their kids? I need to emphasize though that I have a specific passion for my kids because they are both girls and I have every intention of showing them that it is specifically their innate girl-ness (yeah I know that’s not a word) that gives them the edge to one day rule the world. I’m not making ‘Hollywood 2048’ t-shirts yet but I want my girls to know they have the power to make the impossible, possible.
My “Business” – I use quotes because it doesn’t really seem real yet. At the time of publishing this post, I have made exactly $10.00 profit on this venture of mine. My intentions for Play Pen; The Irreverent Parents’ Guide is not to ‘just be a blog’, but be a refuge for parents, a community for other small businesses to support each other, and eventually, an entity that can leverage its popularity (fingers crossed people) to help raise funds for community causes.
Volunteering – I have spent the past two years doing volunteer work for a few organizations. One in particular that is close to my heart is The Detective Christopher Jones Foundation. Yes, this icy mom blogger has witnessed first-hand, and been thawed by, what a huge impact a group of people can have when everyone cuts their bullshit and comes together. I believe in the power of volunteering.
My Marriage – These weren’t supposed to be in any particular order right? To be honest, sometimes I forget I’m married, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The majority of the time, being married to Chief takes minimal effort. Yes, some days it’s a different story but he really is the most patient, understanding, and forgiving man I have ever known and he is more than I deserve. And that’s all you’re getting out of me about that.
Cooking- It was really hard to find another ‘passion’ to list. For awhile I felt a little dead inside that I couldn’t come up with another thing to list instantly. But if I had to pick one tangible thing that I really love to do, it is cook. There is nothing more soothing to me than chopping, sautéing, stirring and mixing and then feeding my family. The opportunity has been scarce the past few months with a very mobile and mostly cranky baby who has a limited array of feeding choices (What? Duck a l’Orange is out?) but I’m hoping to get back in the groove this fall.
Five Things I Would Like To Do Before I Die
I have always wanted to re-live a Hemingway-esque safari. Without all the pachyderm poaching.
I want to eventually live in a house where I can accommodate my two girls, their significant others and subsequent offspring on Christmas Eve so that we can all wake up together Christmas morning. I know, its specific but it’s what I want. (See number one on list of favorite movies)
I want to be fluent in French or Spanish.
I want to graduate from Villanova University. Started, didn’t finish.
Write a book.
Five Things I Say A Lot
“What the fuck?” – And all variations thereof. And yes, Hollywood has said it a time or two but it’s actually impressive how infrequent it is considering how often I say it.
“Come on, man!” – This has become the alternative to “What the fuck?” when Baby is getting into every damn thing in this house that she isn’t supposed to be which is generally every waking hour of every day.
“Capisce?” – (kapeesh) My lame attempt to teach Hollywood to be bilingual.
“Gimme a break” – Used (probably too) frequently throughout the day when I’m frustrated, usually proceeded by #1 on this list, “What the fuck?”
“Leave the damn dogs alone!” – I’m starting to wonder if I say any other phrases during the day other than these five….
Books I’ve Read
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime by Mark Haddon
Adverbs by Daniel handler
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius -David Eggers
This Beautiful Life-Helen Schulman
Movies I Love
The Family Stone
Bridget Jones’ Diary
Places I would Like to Travel
Pages I Love
Dad for Beginners – Exuding ‘cool dad’ status, not only are his posts clever as hell, they are well thought out and thought provoking.
Hot Mess Mom – One of the first blogs I followed and still one of the funniest. She is indeed a hot mess and has a special place in my heart because she so graciously allowed me to guest post on her site during her summer blogger series.
Abandoning Pretense – A disarming story-teller who isn’t too good to write posts about her own reproductive organs. We have two totally different personalities (it would seem) – if I’m a Pit Bull, she’s more like a happy, lovable, Labrador Retriever, I love the humor she uses to craft her tales. r
Silence of the Mom – The crafty little blogger that roped me into these shenanigans. I love her honesty, her style and frankly if you can manage five kids, you deserve more than a medal. I’m thinking the equivalent of an orgasm on Christmas morning when you find out you hit a 500 million dollar jackpot.
Modern Mama Dramas – The honest of all honest as far as I have found. And she probably doesn’t even know who I am. But congratulations to her and her new baby boy. That being said, a new baby is why I won’t be offended if she doesn’t choose to participate in this blogosphere ‘chain letter’. Cross your fingers that she does though, cause she’s good.
I’m not sure how I feel about the Miley Cyrus gratuitous display, wait, scratch that, ok, performance at the VMA’s. You see my trouble. I guess I should work it out here.
I am a big fan of television and film entertainment. I’ll count the internet in this category, too, because it is the TV of the future, which will happen in about six months or so. So I am very aware, and totally agree that, whatever people want to watch should be put out there to be consumed. In order to have an opinion on things you really should try and check out a little piece of it. You can’t say you hate broccoli if you’ve never tried it, right? This is why I watched one whole episode of Jersey Shore and then decided I would rather nail my dick to a helium tank than ever do that again. But it’s us, the population of the United States, who decide what “the people” want to watch because we are the aforementioned people. ‘I have seen the enemy and he is us’ kind of thing. And that’s fine because I have so many choices now that I can easily avoid the dreck and fill my watching hours with Breaking Bad, The Wire, The Sopranos and Walking Dead at my leisure.
It should be noted that the above four shows were or are on at 9:00 – 10:00 pm, well after my children go to bed. (Disclosure: I let my kid watch Walking Dead with me a couple times. It is such a cartoon, although quite a realistic one, that he easily understood it wasn’t real. That part is important. He reported that it was his favorite for two weeks and then promptly forgot about it. Additionally, in my defense, it is based on an actual comic book.) Should I have done that? I’m not entirely sure. Walking Dead is violent, gory, and disturbing, but it is transparent that there are good morals at play. Family matters most, loyalty and reliability are super important so there’s the plus. But we aren’t here to talk about my shows. Sorry ‘bout that.
You might notice that I’m leaning towards supporting Ms. Cyrus in her current modus operandi. And as a consumer of entertainment, I definitely do. No question. These people do what they do, and we either watch them or we don’t. The question posed by this seems to be: “Is this appropriate for the children?” I am saying no, it isn’t.
The VMAs were on at 9pm. This is acceptable to me, because it is after bedtime for my kid. It is also on a channel he has never heard of, MTV (ha!). But that is kinda beside the point now, isn’t it? It’s access that is at issue. Little Irish can now watch Ms. Cyrus twerk her ass off in front of Dr. Seaver, I mean Robin Thicke, whenever he wants to. That is if he knew how, which he doesn’t. He will eventually, that much is true. I found porn and my parents couldn’t stop me, but they actually did a good job holding it off. That’s my plan anyway, doing the best I can to hold off things like the Ms. Cyrus display from my child. She isn’t performing for him, she’s performing for ‘you’ now.
I don’t see it being a problem in the short term, but this issue is approaching a steep continental shelf that he could drop off and get sucked into; The Giant Pacific Societal Garbage Patch that is the world. In other words, he is entering the public school system in one week.
For arguments sake, the main scary point is that when the kids get together, Miley Cyrus at the VMA’s will be discussed. Nowadays, it will be easily and instantly distributed. This frightening inevitability of communication is in no way new. In the 50’s kids got together on street corners and decided to wear leather jackets, get DA haircuts and not listen to their parents (I’ve seen a few newsreels and it appears that all teenagers had a motorcycle). In the 60’s kids got together in basements and college campuses and discovered drugs, didn’t listen to their parents and said “Screw The Man!” By the way, if you are reading this, that’s you now. In the 70’s kids got together in hideouts in the woods, passed around torn, wrinkled Playboys that they got the gas station guy in town to buy, along with the malt liquor. Point is, this is not new. It will be something we all have to deal with. The concern I have is to make sure Little Irish is a stable, reasonable, honest person who can discern, if I’m being truthful, the difference between “this is stupid” and “this is worthy”. That’s not all of it but it’s a big chunk.
My idea is to keep an open, running dialogue with him throughout his life with the idea that he can always ask my wife and I anything. This will only last up to a point. I know this. I stopped asking my parents stuff just like everyone else. And I think our job is a bit harder at the moment with the internet making ‘answers’ available at any time (although SEO really does a pretty good job of putting the correct answers at or near the top). “You can ask/talk to me about anything” will always be running in our family, even if the thread goes dark for a while. You do a little prompting, some innocuous questions, “what did you guys talk about in school/in the cul-de-sac today?”, “you ever hear of the VMAs?” Sure, that might spark something, but I feel like if you’re not getting out in front of kids with this stuff, youre behind. Hell, I found stuff and I had to go into the God-damn woods to find it. My parents did a great job but didn’t need to be quite as protective as we might need to be. We have tools like ‘parental controls’. The most important however being lead by example. Be vigilant, but always have an open door for communication with the kids.
When Little Irish comes up after Ms. Cyrus has Lohanized and asks me what it means, since no adults in his actual life act that way, I’ll discuss it with him. Maybe I will tell him that this is like an episode of Walking Dead, “this is stupid”. Because when you think about it, it really is both of those.
I thought since I resurrected The Drinkington’s last week on Facebook in celebration of their departure, I should tie up those loose ends and introduce you to Play Pen’s new neighbors. Thus far it doesn’t appear as though they are going to provide me with much material but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
The Drinkington’s have been gone since the end of June. Halle-fuckin-lujah. Towards the end of their stewardship, things got pretty ugly. Milwaukee had thinned out to about 90 lbs (remember girls, a lil’ fat in the face keeps the wrinkles at bay). I assumed this was due to the pill or coke that she was ushering up that nose of hers. Much to my amazement, Anheuser had kept his job as a line cook at a local bar and appeared to be somewhat sober. At least during daylight.
The coup de grace however seemed to have been Anheuser’s sister moving in, Jazzy Scooter and all. It was evident that this was causing some marital distress when three police cars arrived at the house one night in May. Lucky for me, I had two friends over that night so we enjoyed our cocktails in the my master bedroom which has a window over-looking the side yard. (They were friends, not ‘company’, otherwise I’d have been mortified as hell that the cops were showing up for my neighbors.) After a little (unsolicited on my part) tete- a- tete with Milwaukee’s mother a few days after, I found out that poor little Half-Pint ended up having to go stay at Grama’s for awhile. At the behest of children and youth.
Aside from this they made their exit peacefully as far as I could tell. I continued to minimize eye contact anytime I saw them outside and if one of them looked directly at me I politely made a pretend phone call. Not once did my phone ring while I was ‘fake talking’ to someone by the way. Their last day however, was the day of Hollywood’s dance recital. When I saw Milwaukee outside (I could have sworn she was trying to photo bomb my kids dance pictures), she assured me that she would be in touch, since she had my number (fuck), and she didn’t have her new number yet so we could keep in touch. Tear. I have yet to hear from her, which is one of the greatest gifts I have received.
So for the pas t two months, we have been neighbor free. I couldn’t have been happier. No one to make artificial nice-nice with. No listening to Hollywood’s pleading to go play with Half-Pint. It was a glorious summer. But alas, ‘They’ are right, “All good things must come to an end.”
We now have a new family next door. At this time, I am unable to bestow a proper nickname upon them because I don’t know them well enough. Yes, that’s right people, I do wait until I know a little bit about people before I get all ‘Judgey McJudgerson’. I have met the husband. Seems nice enough. Wife has yet to grace me with her presence. And there are two kids, Boy (9) and Girl (7). Thus far, Boy needs to be reminded that while walking their dog, it needs to be kept off my lawn. Aside from dog shit on my front lawn (I have enough of that in the backyard thankyouverymuch), having their little mut in my front yard will likely send my dogs (100 lbs each) right through the door which would really piss me off. And if all that racket happens during the most holiest time of day, nap-time, someone might die. Jus’ sayin’.
Now, about Girl (7). Just today she came over and asked Chief if Hollywood could come outside and play. Awwww… I know right!? Ugh… I take issue with this for a few reasons, unreasonable as they may be. One, I am irrationally suspicious of older kids taking interest in younger kids. Too many episodes of Law & Order SVU. Two, this means that Hollywood (who is not old enough to play outside by herself) will want to play with this kid, which in turn means, I will be forced to hang around outside, holding Baby while I make sure that Girl doesn’t lure her to a corner of the backyard to play doctor. Why not just have her over you ask? Because. I have two, huge, messy, clumsy (and by that I mean they knock anyone under 75 lbs over) dogs. They are a pain in the ass to anyone unfamiliar with them which leaves me shrieking at them to “Stop!” for the first 45 minutes that anyone walks in our door.
Finally, the most important, number three. I don’t like kids. I feel weird around kids. I don’t know how to talk to kids. They are uninteresting and frankly, quite taxing to be around which is not worth my energy unless it’s my own kids who happen to be adorable little prodigies. If Girl were to come over, I would feel obligated to entertain her. Like PB&J’s cut into stars or some shit. It’s performance anxiety.
Perhaps if I get to know the new neighbors and their kids (honestly, I intend to try), I might feel more comfortable having Girl over to play. I just need to make sure that their expectations of late afternoon snack align with mine, ie; crackers, hummus and the olives out of my martini glass. I kid.
On the off chance my neighbors are reading this, horrified to find out that I am ‘that lady to writes that blog’, here’s what. It’s nothing personal, yet. I’m a little abrasive and it takes me awhile to warm up to people. Since the previous tenants of your current abode were such train-wrecks, please understand my reluctance to drop by with a pie. We can certainly coexist but please, if you have a drug problem, like to smack each other around, invite riff raff into my neighborhood, or disturb my children’s sleep, don’t bother talking to me cause it’s not going to work out between us. On the other hand, if you’re cool as shit, welcome to the neighborhood.
You may or may not have noticed that I tend to be a little behind when it comes to certain memes. I’m so behind that I’m not entirely sure I really used that word right. I often see people posting on Facebook about that stupid cat that everyone loves, or some pop culture references that are then turned into ‘eCards’. Most times I just don’t get the appeal. I thought Facebook was for vague status updates that make people think you’re either really depressed or have a better life than you actually do. So, forgive me for not being too familiar (that is until I was prompted via text message a few nights ago to turn on TLC) with Honey Boo Boo.
The truth is, I had about seventeen other more pressing things to be doing besides watching this shit show, but after the first forty-five seconds, I committed my ass to the couch like a skin tag on Mama June’s neck. I already knew this show was about a southern family whose lives revolve around their crass, seven year old, beauty queen daughter. Never in my wildest dreams could I conjure just how freaking ludicrous this show actually is though. And there went ninety minutes of my life that I will never get back.
It seemed (from the ‘Tweet along’ that TLC had crawling on the bottom of the screen) that viewers freaking adore these people. I considered a tweet or two but decided against it when I realized that I was alone in my horror and I would probably meet twittersphere death if I spoke ill of The Boo Boo Family. I wanted to know what the draw is for people with this show and according to the internet (remember my rule), people love The Boo Boo’s because they are an all American family with a genuine love for one another. Oh, and what could be cuter than an unhealthy, seven year old who has no manners and thinks she is the queen of the universe?
So, 336 words later… what does this have to do with parenting? How do I say it without seeming righteously indignant? What the fuck is Mama June thinking as a parent, and why the fuck are we rewarding her for it! I guess I failed at avoiding righteous indignation. But really, if you take away that ‘special family bond’, uh, that all families have, what are you left with? A show spotlighting the matriarch of her herd (not to be outdone by her youngest calf) and how she is raising her young’ns to be rude, uneducated, and unhealthy members of society. Yeah, I said it.
Let’s start with the fact this show, which is filmed in the United States, by people who are United States citizens, and aired in the United States requires sub titles. I do love me an accent but come on. This woman can’t even speak recognizable English while screaming at her kids from across the house to come to the couch for dinner. “Heryerkiszcumdototablerfirskettinuw!!!” If these kids ever make it to college (I know, I’m reaching), or get jobs, how are they supposed to function in the real world?
I’m assuming that the nation won’t stay obsessed with The Boo Boo’s and eventually these kids will end up needing to further their education or get jobs. When their boss needs to remind them that they may not steal French fries from the warming tray, will they respond with a Cup-O-Fart? When they get bored in their dorm rooms will they show their Yankee friends a redneck Slip-N-Slide and smear butter and Crisco all over the floor? Who allows their kids to behave like that? And not only allows, but rewards behavior like that?
And now, for the most obvious of issues, that is their weight (Says to self, “Tread lightly here”). I can’t begin to fathom how Mama June can allow those kids (except the one with the baby who ironically seems to be the most normal of the herd) to follow in her footsteps of obesity. If you know me, you know I carry some extra pounds. I don’t live on brown rice and lean proteins. I only exercise four or five times a week. But my kid knows what moderation is and she knows that she needs to exercise to be healthy. At the rate Boo Boo is going, they need to start saving all this cash they are making for a prosthetic after her first diabetic amputation. Not to mention that Mama June is likely to leave those kids motherless when she has a massive heart attack while butchering road kill. It’s beyond aesthetics, it’s a matter of health. There, I said it. Hate me if you want.
Yes, The Boo Boo’s love each other unconditionally. And if you want to see some toothless, yet tender moments between Mama June and her brood, tune in. But can we stop hailing Mama June as an example of a southern belle whose ‘jus’ raisin’ her fam’ly the bes’ way she know how?’ Cause she’s not. After cashing in on the fact that most of us like to watch these spectacular displays of stupid, she should be laughing her way to the bank and using the money and resources to better herself and her family. Enough is enough Mama. I know it’s ‘reality TV’ but get real.
Maura asked me if I would guest blog on her wildly popular blog and of course I was so terribly excited that I have decided to tell you this story because…well, always be prepared for anything when travelling with small children. And as George Carlin once said: “Always be careful what you say. Remember that guy that said, ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’ Yeah, they killed that guy. Be careful what you say.”
I remember the first time I took my little one to the store by myself. The day was already stretching out before me like the scroll at the beginning of Star Wars: one eye open and I have a list unfolding before me that I just don’t want to deal with. My complaints are common enough for parents of small ones; no sleep, crying, diaper changes, the usual. I take care of each item on the list; breakfast, diaper, finish breakfast, diaper again, crying for no known reason, and I notice something. That was the last diaper. Oh dear. I now realize I have to go to the store. I’m usually a pretty good quick decision maker and so I have the little guy ready to go and in the car in minutes and all is going well as I head off to Target. I arrive uneventfully and I get out of the car and haul the little guy out. This is when the parking lot recedes before me like I’m in a hallway in The Shining. I have nothing. No bag, no wipes, no juice. Forget juice because there is no sippy cup with which to drink it. But most of all, good Lord, most of all, no stroller. I’m standing in the parking lot with a child that feels like a pillowcase of warm car parts on my hip. But I am not turning around. I’m already here. I doggedly make my way into the store and grab a basket for my items. I actually spend ten minutes picking things up and then putting my child on the floor of a grimy supermart so I can put things in the basket when I remember; “Hey, they have CARTS here!” I am happy now and I go off and grab one of those fantastic bastards. I return to where I left off and find that an enterprising employee has disappeared with my basket and I now have to start over. Which I’m totally ok with, now that Jabba the Hut is in a seat. The rest of the trip goes fairly well but the experience put me off going to the store by myself for almost two years.
Fast forward to 2011 and my wife, Jenn, texts me “911! You need to call home right away!” I’m two minutes from home so I wait to call back because I don’t want to be operating a moving vehicle when I hear the news that my child has set fire to the neighborhood and has also managed to decapitate himself with a melon baller. This has me yelling into my phone as I pull in the driveway because I couldn’t walk ten feet to the scene of the many crimes and disfigurements I’m sure are ahead.
“Hello? What happened honey? What’s wrong?” I hang up and walk into the house.
“You need to run out and get cheese before everybody gets here! I have to go to [store name redacted].”
“I don’t have that good of a track record taking Riley to stores, ya know.”
“I know, but we need cheese! And I can’t get it now! Go get cheese!”
I quickly put together a bag of stuff: banana, juice box, change of clothes, Cheetos (shut up!) because I’ve learned some things. And he is a perfect gentleman til the end when we get to checkout with all the impulse items the marketing manager has arranged, the jerk. “Daddy I want this!” “No, you can’t have it.” “But Daddy, I want this!” “No, you can’t have it.” Repeat, repeat, until…”Why can’t I have it Daddy?” “Because I don’t love you, Riley, and as a matter of fact, no one does.” I turn around and see four women behind me in line who stare at me as though I had just murdered one of their loved ones. And then there was this one dude behind them. This one dude that that shared with me the most kindred of spirits. He cracked up; and they tore him to shreds. I politely thanked the cashier and walked out.
I haven’t been to a store with my kid since.
Last weeks issue of Time Magazine featured the headline “The Child Free Life: When having it all means not having children.” Disclaimer; Because I refuse to pay the $4.99 for monthly access to read the whole article, my reaction to this article is based on subjective research done with reactions and summaries I could access for free on the internet. (Remember, if it’s on the internet, it’s true) From what I can surmise, and correct me if I’m wrong, this was about the personal challenge the non-breeders among us breeders face over their choice to not have children.
I originally intended to write a post sticking up for these non-breeders who are apparently terribly stressed that this cruel world judges them for not reproducing. Did you know that there is a website offering “A safe haven in a baby crazed world”? Yes, thechildfreelife.com has capitalized on the need for a support group to help people navigate the evil aforementioned “baby crazed world.”
Maybe I’m flying solo on this one but I have never judged a woman, or anyone for that matter for NOT having children. Shit, if anything I judge some people FOR having children when they so clearly should not be littering the planet with their ankle deep gene pool. Not the point…
Anyway, the more I thought about this, the more I kept remembering times that I was judged for having kids. Just last week, I had to take Hollywood downtown with me to pick up something from an office. When the elevator doors opened we were both greeted with sneers from two middle aged men. What. The. Fuck? Hollywood quietly walked into the elevator, kept her mouth shut, and waited her turn to exit the elevator when we got to our floor. So why did these two jerk-offs feel the need to silently scorn my kid.
Hollywood knows how to behave in public. (She saves the psychotic behavior for the privacy of our own home) She has been in plenty of social situations in the company of adults. She knows that when she walks into an elevator, she is to allow the people exiting the elevator the right-of-way. She knows that if there are other people in the elevator she is not allowed to push the button. She knows that she needs to be quiet because it’s a small space and her screechy voice tends to carry. My kid behaves you assholes so there’s no need to look at her like she’s Typhoid Mary!
I am always willing to admit, just because I have kids, doesn’t mean I like them. I also admit, when I am sitting in a restaurant and I see a family with a gaggle of rug rats being seated anywhere near me, I cringe on the inside. I don’t start the visible sneering until they start whining about what they are being given to eat or throwing their meal on the floor. Some kids behave and some kids don’t. Mine does, so why must I automatically get the look as soon as you see me with my midget.
So since the non breeders want to call national attention to themselves about their plight, I’m arguing that some of us parents also have a plight to contend with. Just because I have a child doesn’t mean I turned into an asshole when I gave birth. I’m not going to let my kids push open the glass door to your establishment and leave their grubby fingerprints on it. I’m not going to baby-babble incessantly to my youngest as I blindly walk through the grocery store clipping your heels with my cart. And I’m certainly not going to post Facebook status updates throughout the day about the color and consistency of the contents of Baby’s diaper. That being said, this post is my personal promise that I will continue my non-judgement of the non-breeders if you can find it in your heart to not assume that my children and I are going to ruin your perfect day just by sharing an elevator.
On Tuesday, I broke a long standing promise to myself. Long ago, in my pre-mommy days, I had taken a vow. A vow to never, ever, under any circumstances, take any of my potential offspring to Sesame Place. My reasoning was simple. One, I had ‘survived’ my own childhood, a child-hood which was glorious by the way, despite being deprived of the Sesame experience. And two, as an adult, Sesame came to represent to me a soul sucking, wallet draining pit of annoying tourists and their equally annoying children.
About a month ago, I let a little day-drinking get the best of me. What!? I was at an afternoon birthday party without my kids. I was trying to figure out a way to bribe my Facebook fans to like and share my page and said that if I reached 300 ‘likes’ by the end of July, I would take Hollywood and Baby to Sesame. Bittersweet that I didn’t make it to 300 likes but truth be told I was a little relieved.
That was until another ‘friend’ (similar to the ‘friend’ featured in The Story of the Worst Party Favor. Ever), gave Hollywood tickets to Sesame for her birthday. I’m pretty sure she’s mad at me for something that I have no idea I did and this was secret retaliation disguised as a gift. So there I was, Hollywood all hopped up on the idea of Sesame and two tickets to take her. How the hell was I supposed to get out of that?
So I called on one of my friends (we’ll call her Friend Blonde) who has been drunk on the Sesame juice for awhile now and she kindly agreed to chaperone Hollywood and I at Sesame Place for the day. I say chaperone because surely I would need someone there to keep me from hauling off and either punching Elmo or trying to drown another parent in Count’s Splash Castle. For clarification purposes, we had a third adult with her two kids. We’ll call her ‘Friend Brown’.
Tuesday morning, I awoke with a feeling of dread. My warnings/ bribes to Hollywood the day before that if she misbehaved we wouldn’t go to Sesame were for naught. She was a freaking angel all day. There was no way I was going to get out of this now. I thought better of putting whiskey in my coffee and started some breathing exercises. I packed the bag and off we went.
As soon as we arrived and started the process of getting into the park, I was met at the first line by a girl who looked to be about twelve years old. She was standing there, blocking the way to the line, watching her mother who was standing ten feet away, looking for God knows what in her purse. I tried to go around her and she informed me that they were first and we couldn’t “butt”. I put on my best artificial smile and sweetly informed her that it looked as though her “mummy” was going to be awhile so I was just going to go ahead and get in line. She rebuffed my second attempt to go around her and again reminded me that we couldn’t “butt”. By this time, her mother (and her five other rug rats), had made their way over and shuffled into the line like a herd of cattle. Idiots.
After getting through the TSA checkpoints to enter the park, I found myself grateful that no one with a rubber glove had asked me to bend over. (That would be later at the snack stand) Our first ride was The Vapor Trail Roller Coaster. For whatever reason, every since I’ve spawned, I find myself less willing to ride roller coasters or partake in death defying activities. Uh, didn’t someone just die at Six Flags in Texas? Alas, Hollywood could not ride alone. You would think that an adult could handle a roller coaster at a children’s amusement park but that shit was borderline terrifying. And not just the first time, but also the second and third. Yeah.
Our second foray was the Sky Splash Rubber Duckie Tube ride. If anyone ever doubts that I love my children, please consider the fact that I was in a bathing suit older than Hollywood, in public, in what is close to the worst possible shape I have ever been in in my life. And I thought the roller coaster was horrifying. With the exception of the unruly four year old behind us in line who kept poking my ass (you really don’t want to go there son), the ride itself wasn’t bad. It was actually, pretty fun. There I said it. I started to have fun.
From there we headed to Count’s Splash Castle which is prime real estate for the lucky sonsabitches who have kids that are old enough to wander around in there by themselves. Yes, you can claim a reclining lawn chair under an umbrella and send your children into a giant caged in water feature and flip a coin that if your precious child starts to drown, one of the teenaged life guard’s will save them. I splashed around with Hollywood and managed to avoid the 100 gallon bucket that spills over the roof of Splash Castle every five minutes. No thanks to one of my ‘friends’ who literally tried to push me under it on our way out of the castle. I told you she drank the Sesame juice.
We saw the parade where I broke down and bought a bucket of popcorn in a plastic bucket littered with Sesame characters and a reusable pink Abby Caddaby cup. (This is where I realized how deep I was actually in because I rationalized this purchase by reminding myself that on future visits, yes, future visits, I could refill these enormous containers at a fraction of the price.) It should be noted that Sesame Place must have the best popcorn. On our way to Cookie Mountain after the parade, as we walked along the slowly disbursing parade route, Friend Brown, after being cut off for the second time by an obnoxious stroller pusher, verbally pointed out to this mother that she had nearly run her over. Her response was “But I have a child in here.” Evidently she was under the impression that we were there for a bachelorette party.
Cookie Mountain was almost without incident until Hollywood didn’t make the number cut to go into one of the timed amusements with the rest of her friends. When Friend Blonde explained and asked the attendant to allow Hollywood to go in, she responded with an eye roll perfected by every sixteen year old working for $7.00 an hour. WTF? ‘Listen cutie pie, $60.00 a day to get in this place and you’re going to give us shit for asking you to let one more kid in? Who does she think she is, the goddess of plastic padded pits?’ I hate teenagers.
After a few spins on Elmo’s Flying Fish, which was only mildly less stomach churning than the roller coaster, which Hollywood had to hit just one last time on the way out, our day at Sesame was done. In the six hours we were there, my expectations were exceeded. I guess that’s not saying much considering I pretty much expected a complete shitastrophy. I’m not buying my season passes just yet but, I might entertain the idea of going back. So, who wants to go with and refill my popcorn bucket?
Sunday’s Facebook post – “When laughing at your child because they fell down…again, make sure subsequent injuries don’t require a trip to the ER. Hollywood will assume the name Crash. And now, the back-story…
Late Sunday afternoon we had company over to visit. By company, I mean a good friend of mine (not the Queen Mum), who likes to subject herself to me and my children, despite the fact that she herself is pregnant, and probably regrets that lifestyle choice every time she walks into my house.
Said company and I were sitting on the floor while Baby crawled all over the place as she and I alternated between lavishing her with attention and talking about the soon to be offspring that will arrive from her own womb. All the sudden, I heard the familiar crash and scream (which can only be compared to a girl scout at a prison rodeo), of Hollywood. I looked over and saw her on the floor, and the rocking chair swinging back and forth. Say what you want about my out-dated furniture choices. I stifled my laughter as Chief came walking out of the office (the same entry-way I can only assume Hollywood ran full speed out of). Chief and I made (rolling) eye contact and then together, tried to stifle our laughter. Our visitor was still shell shocked from the racket that had transpired and asked, “What just happened?”
Of course, Chief scooped up Hollywood and showered her with the obligatory “Oooh, you’re alright,” but after a few seconds, and his request for towels, we realized it was a little worse than we thought. Yes, Hollywood had managed to crack her head open. Suddenly, my cautionary tales of “You’re going to crack your head open and brains will go everywhere,” came true. I’m assuming her little dome made contact with the rocking mechanism of the rocking chair. Still waiting on the DNA analysis for results.
After ten minutes of getting Hollywood to calm down, followed by 20 minutes of her hanging her poor little head over the bathtub so we could rinse her head and actually see the wound through the mess of bloody hair, Chief decided it would be best if we take a trip to the ER to get her stitched up. At that point in time I (selfishly) thought to myself, “I have never been so glad I didn’t find a reason to make myself and early Bloody Mary on a Sunday.”
So off we went to the emergency room, Hollywood with a wet head and no shoes, and me panicking that I was going to be interrogated like a criminal at the ER over why my child has a head injury. Admittedly, I got a tad frantic when Hollywood started to fall asleep in the car (you’re supposed to keep them awake right?) If you’re thinking that I’m going to report that the hospital was a total shit-show, you’re wrong. I know, I’m upset too. It would have at least been fodder for this post. Surprisingly, our local hospital has a completely separate pediatric ER where they hire people who not only have PhD’s in medicine but who also have a background as child whisperers.
Not only were we in a room less than seven minutes after walking in the door, we saw a nurse within three minutes of being in the room. She explained (by spelling out the more traumatizing words) that Hollywood would probably need S-T-A-P-L-E-S in her head. Wait, what!!!??? You want to staple my kids head. I almost threw up. I’m not usually squeamish. I’ve had two c-sections, three surgeries with hardware in my leg, I can do puke, poop, (I DO NOT do boogers). I could probably do sucking chest wound. Just now when it comes to MY KID!
Fortunately, the (hot) doctor came in and calmed my nerves. Hollywood was a perfect patient through the examination (I don’t know why she can’t behave that well at home). Oh yeah, Chief had showed up too at that point. Together, (hot) doctor and I, decided that it wasn’t worth the emotional scar of having her head stapled in order to avoid some scarring on her head that would be covered by her hair anyway.
We wrapped up our adventure with Chief throwing another $100 on the fire for the co-pay for our hospital adventure and Hollywood and I set off to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. (No matter how much I try to sway her by telling her that Ronald McDonald is a pederast, she just loves those cheeseburgers.) All in all Hollywood is no worse for the wear. I knew she was 100% when she gave me lip over eating the cheeseburger she so desperately wanted on the way home.
Disclaimer; Although some children were inadvertently harmed in the making of this blog post, it should be noted that Chief does have a teensy bit of an emergency services background. Additionally, Hollywood never lost consciousness and showed no signs of shock which is why we did not dial 911 for an ambulance. If you are ever in a similar situation and you don’t know how to proceed, please dial 911. Do not refer to this blog post as medical expertise.
Can I just say, I love it when I have to do ‘research’ for these blog posts. I just spent fifteen minutes watching YouTube videos posted on www.momsformarijuana.org Although, I don’t think the way to get people on board is by using cartoon characters with the voices of Microsoft Sam and Microsoft Ana to make PSA’s. It was funny though. Would have been even funnier had I been stoned. Just sayin’.
Anyway, weeks ago, I posted a poll question on Facebook. “What do YOU think about marijuana moms?” Your response was overwhelming. I kid. I was sure that this would draw some strong responses on both ends, either in favor, or in serious opposition, to being a ‘marijuana mom’. (What’s a girl gotta do to drum up a little debate!?) In the same post I promised a blog post so it’s put up or shut up time. Better late than never right.
The few posts I did get alluded to ‘it’s illegal and therefore you shouldn’t let your kids know you’re doing it’. I’m not sure what that means but it sounds to me like you’re saying “I’m all for smoking a doob, but I’m not going to admit it.” Feel free to comment if I’m wrong.
For arguments sake, I’m taking the legality issue off the table. This isn’t a post about whether or not pot should be legalized. Seriously, I’m not getting into it. So let’s just forget for a minute that marijuana is illegal. As far as young kids are concerned, the difference between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ starts and stops at the parent. It seems like the two big issues left are the safety of children when in the care of a pot smoking parent, and, the stigma that comes along with being a person who smokes pot.
Let’s start with safety. Yeah, when ya smoke, ya get a little hazy. Just like when you drink, ya get a little hazy. So how is smoking a joint any different than pouring a drink? You shouldn’t be doing either in excess when you’re taking care of your kids. So what’s the difference?
And then there is the stigma which I think is the bigger issue that these ‘marijuana mom advocates’ have to contend with. Pot smokers are lazy. Smoking pot is the gateway drug. Smoking pot kills brain cells. (I’m not a doctor or a scientist so maybe that one is true.) I happen to know a few pot smokers. One is a wonderful mother. Another is an extraordinarily intelligent guy who works for the Department of Defense. Neither one is sitting on their couch for hours on end eating Dorito’s nor are they sucking dick for nickels so that they can shove another line up their nose. So what’s the big deal?
Maybe I’m more impressionable than I thought because the more I read about this and think about it, the more I want to become a ‘marijuana mom’. Could this make me a better parent? One mom reported to Barcroft TV that it makes her a better, more creative parent. You can see that video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxrI31Vait8
I know I could stand to be more ‘in the moment’ with my kids. The other day while playing a rousing game of Chutes and Ladders I found myself thinking, “If I fall down another fucking chute and this game takes any longer I am NEVER going to get this laundry folded.” I know I shouldn’t be thinking about all of the other bullshit but I’m Type A. It’s my nature to obsess over everything. Everything that isn’t done, when I’m going to have the time to get it done, and what’s going to happen if it doesn’t get done. I could stand to be taken down a peg or two when it comes to my neurosis. And please (!) don’t tell me to meditate or do yoga or some such nonsense like that. I can’t even shit in peace in this house and you want me to clear my mind with no distractions?
I’m not saying I’m rushing out to buy an ounce but I am saying that if given the opportunity to smoke a joint in the future, I’m gonna go right ahead and do that. If you see me standing somewhere with a hacky sac and a bag of Doritos send me to rehab.
So where do you stand on this issue? Any marijuana moms reading who want to weigh in on this?
Warning – this post is not that funny. I know, I know. But keep reading because it’s important.
My experience Monday night has inspired a post. If you don’t already know, there was a pretty devastating fire in Levittown last weekend and by the beginning of the week there was an outpour of support from the community. A local school was the site for forty-two displaced families to come and pick up donated clothes, toiletries, household items and gift cards. I dropped off donated items from Play Pen fans on Monday morning and went back after dinner to hand out gift cards from the non-profit I serve with, The Detective Christopher Jones Foundation.
Overall in the past year, I have met so many small business owners who have put so much back into their own community. I have also met so many grateful beneficiaries of volunteer work. Monday night alone, one resident was actually brought to tears. And yes, she made me, The Ice Queen, cry too.
It’s experiences like these that start to chip away at my cynicism because I am floored at the good that I have seen come from the people in Lower Bucks County. Maybe it’s because I’m ‘not from around here’. Maybe it’s because I busied myself in high school smoking pot instead of volunteering for The Red Cross. Maybe it’s because I’m a ‘grown-up’ now and it’s just easier to take note of these things. I don’t know.
So I wanted to make a quick declaration. I am more determined than ever to try and use Play Pen as a vehicle to help out those in our community. If I can leverage what little exposure I have to help out some of my neighbors then that’s a good thing. If I can be an example to my daughters that one of their purposes in life is to make life a little easier for those around them, that’s a good thing too. As a business owner, when you come with your hand out, you often leave empty handed.
I have a little something up my sleeve for an event benefiting a local family but I cant pull the rip cord just yet so stay tuned.
We have a new addition in the Play Pen. No. Not that kind of addition. This is the story if the worst party favor. Ever. A cautionary tale about how you can end up as a chump, $130.00 lighter, at the behest of a generous, creative, yet conniving friend. If I was telling you this story in person, the word ‘friend’ would get air quotes.
A week ago, I attended a Luau themed 8th birthday party for a friend’s daughter. We’ll call her (mom, not child) ‘Overachiever’. Of course, Hollywood and Baby were in tow. (Like I would have gone to a kids birthday party without my own?) We, well they, had a perfectly lovely time, water activities for the kids, fruity drinks for the adults, and grass skirts for those who didn’t have the foresight to think better of it. I had to leave early as Baby’s bedtime is 7:30. No, I don’t make exceptions because I am the kind of mom who considers Baby’s sleep time (and my ‘me time’) sacred. I didn’t realize until the next morning that because of my early exit, I had escaped, yes escaped, getting a party favor.
Thanks to Facebook, I learned that Overachiever had sent home each party guest with a goldfish. Yeah, a fucking goldfish. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I would not be at the mercy of yet another thing in my house that needed my care or attention. Oh yeah, and I also made a snarky comment on one of Overachievers party pictures. It temporarily escaped me that I would be seeing her later that very same afternoon at another party.
So, later that afternoon, at the aforementioned party, I almost fell off my bar stool when in she walked with not one, but two fish. Because you know, at eight months old, if Hollywood got one and Baby didn’t, Baby would be heartbroken. Fuck her! Luckily, I drank enough to forget about the fish. I also drank enough to forget to flush the damn things when I got home. The next morning when I came downstairs, painfully hung-over, Hollywood was there, staring at the fish on the kitchen counter. Her eyes aglow with the light of a million fairies, she promptly named both fish Dorothy. Shit.
As days passed, the fish prospered (despite their cloudy, shit filled water). Chief, because this is the kind of wonderful person he is, went from his initial reaction of “What the fuck’s with the fish?” to “Maybe we ought to buy a fish tank.” Clearly I was out-numbered here. So off we went, The Chief and I, to buy a fish tank. I only reconciled with this situation when I realized I could spend Chief’s money on pretty little nonsense to decorate this fish tank.
So here we are, ten days later with a ten gallon fish tank which houses a surf themed Barbie ornament, multi colored gravel, plumes of sea ‘plants’ in hues not found in nature, and one lonely goldfish. Yes, I said one goldfish because the Dorothy #2 died while making the move from its shit infused studio apartment to the Bellagio of fish tanks. Idiot.
And that is the story of the worst party favor. Ever. If you see me wandering aimlessly at PetSmart, just point me in the direction of the fish.
Can I tell you how much I hate it when I have a post all fleshed out in my head, and then I go on a little fact finding mission and I realize I have pretty much put my foot in my mouth? A lot. More than a lot. At least you know I’m doing my research. You’re welcome.
Originally, I was all jerked off about the righteous indignation over Miley Cyrus’ music video for her song ‘We Can’t Stop’. So there I was, all prepared to sit down and write my own righteously indignant post. I’m thinking, ‘Who are these people (meaning the media) to want to drown poor little Hannah Montana in a pool of Holy Water?’ But alas, I figured I had better watch the entire music video just to be thorough. And now that I have, I feel like I need to shower. And take a pregnancy test.
Allow me to digress. In case you didn’t know, parents are armed with torches and pitchforks because Miley has made a music video that is shall we say, lascivious. Some claim that Miley Cyrus (who is 20 years old now in case you forgot) is not upholding her responsibility of being a role model.
My first thought was that this artist (I’m using the term loosely) is an adult (also using that term loosely). She has no responsibility to our children to act as a role model. Furthermore, it is a parent’s responsibility to monitor what their children are exposed to and then facilitate a discussion about it if necessary. Yes, I am well aware that Hollywood is four years old and I have it easy right now… I’m getting to that.
So, back to the present. I have just finished watching the video for ‘We Can’t Stop’ and I don’t know whether to shit or wind my watch. I admit I did some questionable things as a young adult. That being said, my stupidity mostly revolved around partaking in innocuous yet illicit substances. My, how things have changed when a young woman can broadcast images of herself practically licking the latex off a blow up doll and gyrating her envious ass into the crotch of another female, all over the internet. Now I am left, not only mildly horrified, but wondering if maybe Miley Cyrus does have a responsibility to our kids, especially our young girls. If Hollywood watched this video and asked me any questions about it, I would probably throw up in my mouth.
As I try and explain my conclusion, I will try and stay on topic and not go into a rant on ‘this is why an entire generation of girls have a completely fucked up sense of self worth’. That’s an entire post in and of itself. The bottom line is, it’s not about whether she does or does not have a responsibility. I’m not interested in arguing that point because I can see the rationale of both sides. Even if you do believe she does have a responsibility, she’s not embracing it. And that’s just the way it is. You as a parent, will always be pitted against celebrities with questionable ideas about music lyrics, music videos, wardrobe etc. The world is not going to change. (Chief just reminded me this must be how our parents felt when Madonna was dry humping the stage at the MTV music awards in her wedding dress)
That being said, and I hope this isn’t a ground breaking thought, instead of grieving over the loss of ‘Hannah Montana girlhood’, and wagging our fingers at a celebrity for not being the pillar of piety, maybe we should spend more time making ourselves better role models for our kids? Isn’t that what being a parent is? Being a positive influence on a child’s life? But instead we choose to try and change the inevitable? That’s crazy.
It is entirely possible that in another eight years, as Hollywood starts to ‘come of age’, I may find myself licking my wounds over a dozen things I write on this blog. One of my biggest fears has been writing myself into a box. I don’t know how I’m going to control the outside influences in her life. But I’m starting to think (or naively hope), that if I can create enough of a positive influence, it might stand a chance against all of the other skanky influences that she will get outside of our home. So this post is the impetus for me to put down my pitchfork and light a fire under my own ass to be a better role model for my kids instead of being silently appalled by Miley Cyrus’ music video. Just don’t get me started about Bieber pissing in a mop bucket.
This post is inspired by another post, on another blog, called Abandoning Pretense. At the risk of losing my own readers, because Kristen Mae is a fantastic writer and storyteller, I reluctantly report that the post can be found here http://abandoningpretense.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-universe-called-me-lazy-and-why-we.html I felt compelled to kind of respond to this post after I read it but for days I was very back and forth between a big ‘fuck you’ and a ‘yeah, I guess I should shut the hell up because I have it pretty good’. So after more than a week, the latter part of which was uncharacteristically delightful, I’m cautiously responding with a ‘yeah, I guess I should shut up because I have it pretty good’. Let’s just hope that I don’t eat my words like I eat my feelings in another three days when Hollywood and Baby are driving me bat-shit crazy.
In her post, Kristen suggests that SAHM’s have very little to bitch about. Now, let me just say that every SAHM’s situation is different. Depending on the quantity and age of kids, financial situation (I can say that because we’re living paycheck to paycheck) , and your support system, can sometimes make or break you as a SAHM. But I think maybe I’m writing this because I have realized (thank you Kristen), that the more important part of SAHMotherhood is probably attitude. And now I am publicly admitting that there are times, probably more frequent than I would like to admit, that my attitude is piss poor when it comes to being a SAHM. I think I’m breaking a record here for number of times the acronym SAHM is used.
I never envisioned myself as a SAHM (can I start calling it something else because I even hate the way it sounds). Me staying home with my kids was an accident. I had been perfectly complacent with going to work and having my mother-in-law and Chief sharing in the child (one child at that time) rearing. That was until I got shit-canned from my job. Albeit a job I hated with the fire of a thousand suns, but shit-canned no less. So there I was, all knocked up with Baby and no job to go to. SAHM seemed the natural, not to mention easiest, option.
It hasn’t been until recently that I haven’t felt like I shot myself in the foot with that decision. It was easy at first. Hollywood was pretty low maintenance throughout last spring and summer (I was still pregnant) only requiring thrice weekly library trips and an afternoon jaunt in the sprinkler. And even towards the end of my pregnancy in the fall when I felt like I might actually, literally, truly, physically blow the fuck up, she was my good little helper. And then sweet, screaming, pooping Baby arrived and threw me for a loop.
What. The. Fuck. I’m an only child. I didn’t even know what it was like to live with another kid in a house, let alone be a mother to two at the same time. And more importantly, just because I have kids, doesn’t mean I like kids. As we went through the ‘adjustment period’ (we’re going on seven months), it was a bit of a difficult time. It seemed (and some days it still seems) like Baby never stopped crying. And when she wasn’t crying, but sleeping (on top of me on the couch), Hollywood was nagging me for a cheese stick, or to dress a damn Ken doll, or to watch her do a half-assed cartwheel, in the middle of the living room, while narrowly missing the T.V. but falling on top of a dog no less. I know to some it may seem stupid, but to me (a person who honestly, probably, wasn’t cut from the motherhood cloth) it seemed like the most frustrating thing on earth to have not one, but two kids, crawling up my ass, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
It has only been in the past month where I’m beginning to feel like Baby is turning a corner. She doesn’t need to be held every waking hour of the day. Now that she is mobile, she chooses to annoy me by crawling around and trying to get into everything, but at least she is for the most part, pleasant when she does it. And Hollywood is starting to learn the fine line between being precocious, and being a little snot. It’s was touch and go there for awhile.
My feelings about the challenges of being a SAHM do get a little more complicated than just the kids. For Chief and I there’s a battle of wills over who is going to get to be out of the house and when and for what. There’s the ridiculous amount of housework which of course I feel like solely falls on me because after all, ‘I don’t work’. That’s my issue, not Chiefs.
I am often guilty (and I often forget this) of losing sight of the bigger picture which Kristen’s post reminded me of. Having two kids under five is pretty rough at times but it’s getting easier as the days go on and there are some luxuries that I have that working moms don’t. Shit, I just spent my morning lying on the living room floor, playing with Baby, while watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Yesterday I spent my afternoon, outside sunning myself by the kiddy pool while Hollywood sprayed me with a water gun. First world problems, I know. And now I will sit here while Baby is napping and write posts about my family’s personal life to share on the intrawebs in the hopes that one day it will pan out the way I want it to. Did I mention how good I have it with the Chief?
So maybe this is a therapeutic way of reminding myself that sometimes I do need to shut up and remember how good I do have it. Yes, there’s all the nonsense that comes along with being a SAHM, keeping the children alive, trying to pick enough dried Play-Doh out of my carpets so that the house doesn’t end up looking like it’s a damn daycare. But when it comes down to it, I am the boss here. And I just made the executive decision to go take a nap.
I know I should be posting something today about teaching my kids, Hollywood anyway, about Independence Day. Yeah, I Googled it and let her watch some School House Rock videos but that’s as far as I could get with it because the truth is, I’ve been struggling, trying to wrap my head around something for a few days now. (Read: It’s my blog, and that means I can disregard our nation’s birthday and write about me. I know I’m self involved – that’s what a blog is. Deal.)
Anyway, maybe it’s because Chief has been incessantly walking around for almost two weeks crying out, “I can’t believe she’s going to be four!!!!” Up until now I’ve been silently responding by thinking, “Yes Chief. Are you unaware of how the time continuum works? Did you think that any of us just appeared on the planet as functioning adults?” It’s normal for him to get a little mushy about these things, and as you may surmise, it is completely abnormal for ME. But for some reason, the past few days have left me feeling bittersweet about Hollywood having turned four years old yesterday.
Suddenly, I feel like one of those idiots that I hate, “Ohhhh, time just goes by so fast, don’t blink. You might miss it…” Vomit. But still, even though I understand how time works, and I know kids grow up, I don’t know how she turned into a person so quickly. No! It’s not like at some point I thought I was just pet sitting her or something, but she’s turned into a miniature person with this huge personality. Maybe it’s because I now have another miniature person in the house that constantly reminds me how helpless Hollywood used to be? And now it feels like she’s practically grown up.
I know it’s not like she’s running off to college to do keg-stands and the walk of shame. It’s still far enough away for me that I can find that funny by the way. Maybe it’s just that I never thought she would get older. Maybe I thought I would be in shitty diaper, smelly spit up hell, which I actually still am with Baby, forever. Now Hollywood is all “I can wipe my own ass,” and it’s unnerving for some reason.
Chief is smarter than me (not to mention nicer), that’s why I married him. I guess I should have seen this coming. He realized awhile ago how fleeting time would be with our girls as they grew up. Not that I feel like I’m missing it, it’s just happening so fast. It never occurred to me that it’s impossible to make time slow down. I guess it’s taken having kids to make that idea tangible, to me anyway. All I can do now is let them grow. So Happy Birthday to my girl Hollywood. And thank you for making me realize that even though you can’t stop time, watching you grow is worth every heart-ache along the way.
Ok, we need to have a talk. No, not that talk. If you had that talk you may not be reading this blog you breeding, multiplying human, you! I mean the talk about drinking. To be more specific, I mean drinking around your kids. Alcohol. Spirits. Potent potables. BOOZE. I can’t even fake a finger wag here because I’m sure that if you are even a marginally consistent reader of this blog, you know that I drink. Furthermore, I unapologetically chose not make an exception if my kids are around. I realize that I may be in the minority here and I’m okay with that. I also realize that I am taking a chance by posting this but (again if you’re a marginally consistent reader) you know that I’m not one to try and polish a turd. It is what it is people.
What we need to have the talk about though, is this new trend of calling wine, or any alcohol for that matter, ‘mommyjuice’. Really? Really. This has been annoying me for weeks now. I don’t know if it’s become more prevalent in the media or if I’ve just been paying more attention but what the hell is up with this? I realize that the name is cutesy and funny, and maybe people want to buy a bottle of wine with a ‘mom-centric’ label because it’s funny (air-quotes). Maybe it implies, truthfully or not, that the reason you need to drink is because of your kids. Ahahahaha (eye roll).
But let’s get real. Why are some people referring to it as ‘mommyjuice’? Because it sounds cool? No, that can’t be it, because it doesn’t. Because calling it ‘mommyjuice’ means it’s not really alcohol? Wrong again. Because apparently, it makes some of us feel less guilty about drinking in front of our kids. And, if your kids are young enough to be pacified but such a dumbass explanation, it makes answering the question, “What is that mommy?” easier to answer.
Newsflash. You’re not doing them any favors. By referring to wine, or any other alcoholic beverage as ‘mommyjuice’, you’re not shielding them from, or teaching them anything valuable about alcohol. You’re likening alcohol to juice and on top of that, not giving any valid explanation as to why it’s okay for you to drink it but not for them.
Do you know who the last assholes were that were drinking special ‘juice’? The Heaven’s Gate cult who believed that the Hale- Bopp comet was coming to wipe them out. Pineapple juice, vodka and Phenobarbital. That’s the special juice people.
Again, I respect parents who make the decision to not drink in front of their kids. I happen to take the stance that I am thirty years old, and if I want to have a drink in front of my kids, I damn well earned it. And when I do, if Hollywood asks me what’s in my glass, (after resisting the urge to tell her “none-ya”), I tell her it’s a drink. If she questions me further, I tell her it’s alcohol and it’s not for kids.
Yes, at this point I have the luxury of ending the conversation there since she is satisfied by that answer. And I don’t know when I will explain to Hollywood what alcohol does or why people like it, but I’m pretty confident I’m not going to sugar coat it and refer alcohol as ‘mommyjuice’. Furthermore, when Hollywood is old enough to understand what alcohol is, I sure as shit hope that she doesn’t have such an infantile attitude that I could say mommyjuice to her and she wouldn’t laugh in my face.
Just when I thought it was too good to be true, it was. Hollywood’s first day at summer camp (Monday) exceeded my expectations. Between 6:30 when she woke up, until 8:40 when we left the house, in between nagging me about when we were going to leave, she peppered me with questions. “What will I do there? Will there be other kids there? Did you pack my lunch? When will I swim? Where will I go to the bathroom?” When I dropped her off she was a little hesitant, but honestly, I think I was more anxious than she was. Because Hollywood is impressionable, I kept the good-bye short and sweet but on the drive home I got a little teary eyed. Yes, me, the parent with no soul, got choked up. This is the first time I have left Hollywood in the care of complete strangers and it was a little uncomfortable.
As I proceeded with my unusually productive day (what with only one needy little parasite to entertain), the phone never rang during the day like I expected it to. “Um, could you come pick up your socially inept daughter who can’t seem to be anything less than a pain in the ass? She’s been crying since the minute you dropped her off.” When I did pick her up she told me “I had a GREAT day!” That was right before she passed out in the backseat before we even left the parking lot. Score! I had successfully managed to find something that Hollywood liked, something to entertain her five days a week for six hours a day, the bonus being that she was absolutely exhausted at the end of the day which generally means she won’t be up my ass for the rest of the night.
Oh how I should have known. Tuesday she was a little more reluctant to go but gave me no problem. By Wednesday, she was fighting with me in the morning and close to tears when I dropped her off. Her specific reason for not wanting to go? “I miss yoouuuuu.” Bittersweet considering I can’t really say the same. What. The. Fuck.
Like any outstanding mom, I consulted the internet for advice on this and cringed at what I found. Perhaps this camp is not the ‘right fit’ for Hollywood. Aside from the swimming, this camp doesn’t really have anything she is interested in ie; singing and dancing all damn day. Not that it’s a bad summer camp, it’s just that Hollywood isn’t jazzed by Duck Duck Goose and decorating her own sandwich container (that’s what she brought home Tuesday).
The ‘Internet People’ also suggested thinking about my own reasons for sending her there and it was starting to feel reminiscent of The Soccer Debacle of 2012. Yes, I admit it. I want some time during the day when it’s just me and Baby. And yes, when Baby takes a nap, I want some quiet time to get stuff done. Or nap. Whatever. But I also wanted Hollywood to have a great summer; games, pool time, making new friends etc. Apparently Hollywood and I have different definitions of a great summer. Her great summer means staying home with me, playing Barbie’s and splashing in the kiddie pool.
So after a guilt filled Tuesday night, feeling like I rushed my little precious angel into too much summer fun too fast, all at the behest of my selfishness, I promised her Wednesday morning (in a moment of weakness) that she could stay home today. When I arrived on Wednesday afternoon to retrieve Hollywood (surely she would be a shell of her former self after such a traumatic day following the teary goodbye that morning), she bounced towards the car yammering on and on about the sand castle she build in the sandbox. “And the Emmy goes to…!!!” Did I really get snowed by Hollywood? Am I new here?
So, ‘Internet People’, maybe you were right about considering certain things, especially my own reasons for sending her to camp. And I did. And maybe this camp isn’t everything that Hollywood wants, but she is having fun once she forgets that she had to say good-bye to me. But I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two things I forgot to consider in all of this. First is, I do know my kid best. Second is, as much as I hate to admit it, the actress has been known to get one over on me now and again. And this time she kind of did. Needless to say, she is going to camp tomorrow. It’s Cupcake Decorating Day – hopefully she brings home something better than the sandwich container.
This was originally posted on HotMessMom.com as part of the Guest Blogger Summer Series
I want to thank Hot Mess Mom for providing me with the perfect opportunity for an ‘airing of grievances’ about being a mom blogger. For the record, I hate that term, ‘mom blogger’ by the way. It makes it sound so inconsequential. Anyway, I have been wrestling with the love/hate aspect of this for weeks now since I started my own blog, but I had reservations about posting about it on my own site, www.playpen-ipg.com. I don’t want to seem like a complainer. I’m pretty sure, as far as an outsider is concerned, I’m living the dream right now.
I know that being a ‘mom blogger’ probably seems like a walk in the park, but quite honestly, if you’re going to do it well, which I’m not necessarily saying I do yet, it constitutes actual work. Yes people, work. My own website has become my third baby. I’m not making bank, I’m not that popular, but I’m trying like hell to make it so because I don’t want to have to go back to the rat race, be a slave to day care, and miss out on the opportunity to be at home with my kids. As much as they make me double my dosage some days if you catch my drift, I do want to be one of the lucky ones who get’s to take sole responsibility for screwing them up. No blaming daycare here.
This in turn means I am working like a hooker at a prison rodeo. At this very moment, it is 10:17 pm. I’ve been up since the five o’clock baby alarm went off. The left side of my head is on fire after my dentist appointment with Dr. Torquemada, I’m icing it with my martini shaker, and I had to promise my four year old a sleepover in my bed just to assuage my own guilt over not having spent quality time with her tonight. All because I’m trying to show myself, and my kids, and everyone that ever doubted me, that I can run my own operation and be successful, whatever that ends up meaning.
It was jarring going from working full time, out of the house, to working triple time in the house. On top of worry about my kids, the house, the bills, my husband (not necessarily in that order), I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about what I’m going to write about the next day and when I’m going to find time to write it. And now there’s all this pressure to be entertaining. Not to mention I have opened myself up for judgment on the one thing no one wants to be judged on – their parenting. And of course there are plenty of days when there is not a God-damned thing that is funny about parenting. Some days it sucks so much I cry. It’s the bottom line.
The good news is having my blog is cheaper than therapy. This venture of mine is the most courageous and cathartic thing I’ve ever done. When I write my posts, nine times out of ten, I find a solution to the problem that I was fixated on. And on the rare occasion I don’t find the solution, I feel better because at least I have a better understanding of the problem.
My original goal was the create a site where parents could go, and in the three minutes it takes to read a post, feel like you got a good laugh for the day at the least. Maybe you even got to say, “Well at least I’m a better parent than she is.” In hindsight though, I’ve realized this has become a bit of a narcissistic operation. I don’t know why but I need some validation. Not in the sense of ‘I’m a great parent’, which technically should be more important, but in the sense of, ‘I didn’t lose my personality and sense of humor with the afterbirth.” And so far it’s working. Having MY blog makes me feel like I’m not just a mom. I’m a smart, funny female who is trying to create something that has value (aside from my kids).
I don’t know how things will turn out for me and PlayPen; The Irreverent Parents’ Guide. I’m not sure this venture will ever make money. But I do know that all the sacrificing and working now will still be worth it in the end, even if it ends up a flop. At least I tried. I just noticed that my four year old fell asleep in front of the TV on the un-vacuumed carpet. Do I feel bad? Yes. But at least I know I could be doing something far worse to screw her up besides working hard. .
I searched my brain during the latter part of the day for a funny anecdote about today to post on Facebook and I couldn’t find one. This was disappointing to say the least as I had painted a mental picture yesterday of spending a great day with Hollywood and Baby today. Since Disney channel premiers their new shows on Sunday nights, I had a twinkly eyed vision of enjoying a bowl of popcorn (I even worked that into my Weight Watchers Points) with Hollywood as we cuddled up on the couch to watch her favorite shows. Bonus for me since she has graduated from the ‘Sprout’ channel, and that insufferable prick ‘Caillou’, I actually don’t mind watching TV with her anymore.
Although the three of us had a pretty good morning, (I even scored a nap this afternoon thanks to Chief) our evening veered off course as soon as dinnertime rolled around. I don’t know why I expected any different because this is the norm when Chief is at work and I am with the girls by myself.
I started around three o’clock, setting it up for Hollywood, “Let make sure we eat all our dinner tonight so we can have popcorn as snack while we watch your shows tonight, ok?” Know that I used to consider bribery a tool used by weak parents. When Baby came along I realized I’m not above that. I even let Hollywood pick her own dinner, Ellio’s PIzza (not above that either) so that she would be more likely to actually eat it. I had her pizza cooked, cut and cooled by six o’clock. It is now nine minutes after eight as I write this and there is still a third of the pizza left on the kitchen table, I’m on my third glass of wine, and I just now excused Hollywood from the table so she is sitting next to me watching her shows, albeit with no popcorn.
So between six thirty and eight o’clock, I exhausted myself, arguing with Hollywood, threatening no popcorn (which frankly she doesn’t seem to care about), and generally using a ridiculous amount of energy trying to get her to eat freaking Ellio’s Pizza which is shitty food with little to no nutritional value. It’s only taken me this long to realize how ridiculous I’ve been. In the midst of trying to be a hard ass and make sure my kid ‘eats her dinner’, we argued and almost ruined a perfectly good evening. She is not underweight, nor is she overweight, and she is probably one of the better eaters I know. I can’t get a vegetable besides green beans or Iceberg lettuce inside Chief but Hollywood will eat brussel sprouts like a champ. Why am I freaking out about pizza?
Sometimes I forget that learning to pick your battles is one of the biggest lessons in parenting. Should I allow her to have popcorn and juice since she didn’t eat her dinner? No. But did I need to spend almost 90 minutes feeding the catastrophe I created in my head about her not eating pizza which nearly ruined the evening. No.
So this post is my mea culpa. This and the fact that we still have forty five minutes until bedtime so even though the night will be different than the one I imagined in my head, ie; no carpet picnic with popcorn and juice boxes, Hollywood and I will hang on the couch under the blanket and watch her shows. And come tomorrow at dinnertime, I’ll try again but I’m not going to let some pizza cut off my nose to slice my face.
I recently created a Pinterest account. I know it would seem that this goes completely against being an ‘irreverent parent’, but I had a good reason. I have a slight case of OCD when it comes to certain things and hosting a good party is one of them. Not because I need to compete, but because I like to party, even if it’s a kids birthday party. So in planning the menu for Hollywood’s birthday party next month, I created this account so I could ‘pin’ all the recipes to one place, as opposed to writing everything down on the back of liquor store receipts.
Now you should know, about a month ago, I saw a clip on a morning show about ‘Pinterest Pressure’ and how it was making moms feel badly about themselves because they were unable to successfully recreate some of these ridiculous projects on Pinterest. Of course, me being me, I had a righteous but private (until now) laugh about how pathetic these women must be to let a stupid website determine their self worth. I also decided this would be a test for me. Surely I could take advantage of Pinterest without it making me feel inadequate as a mother, right?
Low and behold, because karma is a bitch, I found myself spiraling down a rabbit hole of awful through the bowels of Pinterest. I was on a Pinterest bender. Cataloging a few recipes became the gateway drug to mapping out how I too could be a frugal, crafty bitch in my spare time. ‘Surely I can make a three tiered birthday cake for Hollywood, draped in fondant, complete with her initials and the number ‘four’ sculpted in sugar glass,’ I told myself. Her party favors would be homemade beeswax lip gloss with color coordinated cake pops for the kids to take home in some containers that I would make out of paper mache with my old newspapers cause that’s recycling. Of course, after I finish that, I’ll get started on matching Halloween costumes for the whole family (October will be here before you know it), to wear to our Halloween house party where I planned to serve ‘spookalicious’ hors devours, and wait, whatthefuck?
Thank God my cocktail needed a refill and I had to tear myself away from the computer where I could finally get some clarity (it happens when you look through the bottom of an empty glass). What mom has time for this? I just don’t get it. I’m all for homemade, especially if it’s going to save you money ie; Halloween costumes, birthday cakes… But some of these projects are unreal. These are not time savers, nor are they money savers.
In the immortal words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” I sure as shit don’t. Two kids under five, a house, two dogs, a (hopefully budding) business, the husband… Short of doing eight balls after the kids go to bed at night, there are just not enough hours in the day for Pinterest.
That being said, I am recanting my righteous laughter. These mothers (who I had cast into the superficial parenting abyss) only want to make a kick ass, whatever their definition of that may be, childhood for their kids. And that is certainly okay. But maybe sometimes we get lost in the details. Hollywood is turning four. In fifteen years is she going to tell her therapist that she feels better about her childhood because she had Hello Kitty Sushi at her birthday party? No. True story by the way, you can make Hello Kitty sushi. Look it up. The bottom line though is, it doesn’t matter how crafty a bitch I do or do not become. It takes more than Pinterest success to be a good parent.
Please forgive me for asking this, but as an only child I’m unfamiliar with how this ‘favorite child’ thing works. Truth be told, I’m a bit confused. I don’t know how to pick one. Obviously I was my mother’s favorite. Read: Even if I wasn’t an only child, I’m sure I would have been anyway. Maybe it’s because I’m unfamiliar with being in a house with more than one child, but I’m not sure how this dynamic works.
Some people I have talked to say that their first born is always the favorite and I can see the logic in that. I think quite simply, it’s the novelty of the first. You have a connection and shared experiences with that child that you will never have with anyone else. The first kick during pregnancy, the first time they squeeze your finger, the first time you have to cut off the onesie with kitchen shears because they literally shit up their own back. It’s magical.
Others tell me, especially in the case of having only two, that each child will naturally gravitate towards one parent. I can see that too. I naturally gravitated towards my mom. Maybe it’s something as simple as the fact that we are both girls, or maybe it’s because my Dad was, by marginal standards, an absent drunk. It’s a toss-up. (Relax, he was a fun drunk, I’m not in therapy over it)
I can also remember growing up with friends that had siblings and it was just known who the favorite was. It wasn’t even a matter of being the one who got the best grades, the lead in the school play, or the star of the football team. It was pretty clear, to me anyway, that it mostly came down to who was the ‘lesser pain’ in their parents ass.
So maybe it’s just because my kids are still pretty young but, I can’t imagine having a favorite. Or, maybe I can’t imagine saying that one is my favorite out loud? Or maybe I just haven’t made up my mind yet? Frankly, at this point, they both annoy me equally.
Hollywood is my first born, yes, but she is so like me it’s infuriating sometimes. This is probably why we butt heads so often. When we get ‘into it’, we get into it. Chief just shakes his head because evidently he is the only adult in this house who realizes it’s pointless to get into a fight with a four year old. I’m working on that.
But at the same time, it’s the similarities we have that make her so endearing to me. She’s very passionate, even though that passion, right now, is for diluted topics such as Taylor Swift and Play-Doh. Her animation and vocabulary is incredible though and sometimes when we have a “conberation”, as she likes to call it, I have to shake my head and laugh because she has such a personality.
Of course, when Hollywood has me ready to hang her by her toenails because she’s using that aforementioned vocabulary to mouth off to me, I look at Baby and see my shining star. She’s so sweet right now, when she’s not screaming her little face off because no one is paying attention to her.
Baby and I also have something that Hollywood and I didn’t have the chance to. I went back to work when Hollywood was about four months old. Also, when Hollywood was born, Chief worked day-work which gave him and me equal time with Hollywood. Now that Chief is on night-work and I’m officially the stay at home mom, as far as Baby is concerned, I am IT. So, as much of a pain as it is to have this little attention hogging parasite constantly sucking the life out of me, I do secretly love the fact that she prefers me over Chief.
I guess the truth, for me anyway, is I don’t want to have a favorite. I want to believe that I love and will love both my girls the same. But everyone tells me this ‘favorites’ thing is inevitable. I’m not compelled to pick one or anything, just curious. So help me out here. Do you believe that ever parent has a favorite?
Tonight the seniors from my local high school will graduate. The ceremony starts at 6:30 which means that by approximately 8:30 there will be cars full of teenagers, thinking they are Vin Diesel in The Fast And The Furious, racing down the street, honking their horns and screaming like assholes. This year I’m going to try to avoid getting mad (because they will , without a doubt, wake up my kids) and keep in mind that they are celebrating their ‘freedom’ from high school. I’m thinking of it a little differently this year because I personally know two of the graduates. Also, for a number of reasons, this past year I have been around quite a few teenagers that not only did I not want to punch, but actually impressed me and restored some faith in our future.
Now I’m not pretending to know what it’s like to have a teenager, nor am I offering up advice for parents of graduates. This day just got me thinking what I would say if Hollywood or Baby were graduating this year and its pretty much based off of what I’ve observed around me, as well as the lessons I’ve learned, some of which have taken the past fourteen years to figure out.
Just because you have graduated high school does not mean that you are smart. It does not mean that you are prepared to face the world so get a little humility back in ya once you finish up at that bitchin’ party tonight. Education occurs inside classroom walls as well as the experiences you have on a daily basis. You have a long way to go and a lot to learn before becoming a productive member of society. Treat every day as a chance to learn something. The very best way, and perhaps the hardest way for you to do this is to listen more than you talk.
You have a wonderful tool at your fingertips that previous generations did not. The invention and transformation of this tool over the years is far more powerful that you are able to realize because it has always been available to you. This tool is the internet. Please use it to do something more useful than posting your ‘selfies’ online that will, and I say will, not might, come back to haunt you. The internet should be used to solve problems, not create them.
You responsibility for changing the world also starts now. I’m not expecting you to find the cure for AID’s. I’m not expecting you to become President. I’m not expecting you to marry well and become the next Bunny Mellon. But I do expect you to make a difference somehow, even if it’s in a small way, to make this shitty world a little more tolerable. And that does not include becoming the next Kim Kardashian, the National Treasure that she may be.
Finally, with regards to this shitty world. It’s probably not as shitty as I think, but it’s probably a little worse than you think and that is the beauty of you being young. Still, you will probably find that life in general is nowhere as easy as you thought it would be as you have lived a charmed life kid! You will face a list of things including but not limited to; hiccups, challenges, disappointments and there might be some things that you think you might never get over (I’m talking a little more devastating than breaking up with you high school sweetheart too). But know that life always goes on and there is far more merit and integrity in finding success after you truly have worked for it.
I realize its only early June but I was starting to feel that the summer was already slipping away. I was feeling guilty, as ridiculous as that may or may not be, about not having been to the beach yet, not having gone to Sesame Place (ever), and not spending idyllic days on a blanket in the park, which is within walking distance from our house no less.
Maybe it was because I set the bar so high last year. I wasn’t working. I was still pregnant with Baby so it was just me and Hollywood. And really, last summer was so epic (as epic as spending everyday with a three year old could be anyway) because it was the first time that I got to take her ‘out-out’ without having to worry about hauling around the twenty pounds of the kid paraphernalia and hoping that I wouldn’t have to change a haz-mat diaper in public. Almost every day we would just pick up and go. We did the library, the beach, festivals, play dates. On the off chance we were home, we were sunning ourselves in the kiddy pool.
This year, I started to feel like an inept mother because the thought of taking Hollywood and Baby out together for a day trip sends me scrambling for my xanax. I know I should be able to dial down my crazy a few notches since I’ve had my second child but I can’t. The first (not to mention the last) time I took them both to the grocery store with me, I looked like a complete asshole trying to figure out how to manage a baby seat, a toddler, and $200 worth of groceries in a shopping cart, all the while wishing I looked younger so people would maybe think it was my first day on the job as a nanny.
Yes, I know there are plenty of parents out there with two or more kids, who take said kids everywhere, and they make it look effortless. But no matter how hard I try, I cannot make myself be that parent. I’m too high strung. I literally worry the night before about where I’m going to be able to change a diaper. I lay in bed calculating what the most opportune time would be for Baby to wake up the next morning so that she would be on a feeding schedule that would jive with the day’s activities. And if she doesn’t wake up at that time, how can I offset that with a nap? There’s no need to tell me how ridiculous this all is by the way.
So this post doesn’t really have a resolution, just a confession. This summer might be a little light on the excursions. We will still have fun at home. I’m scheduling pool time during nap time (because I worry that short of dunking Baby in a vat of SPF 500 she will get sunburn). I’ll host play-dates here, where there is a jumper, a walker, and a Pack-and-Play for Baby (instead of walking around like a Kangaroo with Baby strapped to the front of me in the carrier). But, if there’s something really cool going on, Ill bite the bullet and take them both and consider it practice. Even though the tiger doesn’t change its stripes, maybe we can make it to the circus in the Fall.
Everyone took advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday. While I got to clean the house without sweating like a heroin addict in detox, Chief and Hollywood got to go outside for a bit and play soccer. As I stared out the front window, nearly teary eyed at my husband and my first born, I was slammed face first into the memory of ‘The Soccer Debacle of 2012’.
Allow me to digress. Last summer, Hollywood had a taken a little bit of a casual interest in soccer so when registration opened up for our local soccer club I signed her up. We bought the cleats, the shin guards, the ball. I even found an Under Armor heat gear shirt for her to wear to practice. Because this was my first child’s, first extracurricular activity, maybe I went a little overboard. But she showed such promise, ya know, kicking a ball in the front yard and all, I had myself convinced this was going to be a great investment.
She loved wearing her cleats and shin guards around the house. We would go outside and kick the ball around as we both yearned for the day when ‘real’ practice started. And then the long awaited day finally arrived.
Practice started in the early evening, just when four year olds are peaking in their best mood of the day. But, all things considered, the first practice went okay. As was to be expected, the kids were a little nervous meeting new friends and what not.
They were scheduled to practice twice a week but due to the fact that the coach had been unknowingly volunteered to coach by his wife, he could only run one practice once a week. As another weeks practice came and went, I noticed Hollywood was still a little hesitant to fully participate. And by fully participate I mean, leave myself or Chief and/ or make eye contact with anyone. This was unusual considering she can usually talk the balls off a billiards table.
I decided that perhaps she would feel more comfortable if I took it upon myself to run the ‘missing’ practice. After all, there’s nothing else that a woman, seven months pregnant, would rather be doing in the early September heat than running soccer practice for a group of four year olds. Read: Just because I have kids, doesn’t mean I like them.
But it worked. Hollywood loved practicing with me and her new friends. We practiced passing, and kicking the ball into the net. It was fan-fucking-tastic. After the first practice that I ran, I gave myself a nice pat on the back for a job well done. So very proud of my first, extracurricular volunteer venture, that was successful no less.
And then it came time for game day. My pat on the back was evidently premature. Hollywood wanted no parts of playing on the field with her pals. No amount of coaxing, bribing, threatening or pleading would get her out there. Coach of course assured me that it would get better as the season progressed and I returned his pleasantries with a smile through grinding teeth and an agreeable chuckle.
In the course of the next two weeks I grew increasingly frustrated. Hollywood refused to participate unless Chief or I was on the field. Being the mean mom that I am, I decided that it was still important for Hollywood to sit on the sidelines (regardless of her incessant complaining) and cheer on her team-mates. That’s team work right? Teaching them commitment, and solidarity, right?
The culmination came at her third game. Hollywood performed her usual histrionics and refused to play. Only this time she had an ally. Mom-Mom (my mother in law) had come to watch this game. Chief and I stayed strong though, insisting that she sit on the sidelines and fulfill her commitment to her teammates. As Chief and I were talking (and getting more and more frustrated by Hollywood’s increasingly fidgety and whiney behavior and “lack of commitment”), Mom-Mom looked at us like we were crazy. And it was at that moment I realized I had become the Patsy Ramsey of U4 soccer.
While Chief and I both have what we consider a healthy competitive spirit, we were getting totally bent over a freaking three year old not participating in a soccer game. It was probably me more than him but that’s neither here nor there. I know I was trying to instill in her the value of commitment and sportsmanship. I had invested time and money into this and it made me crazy that she wasn’t responding the way I wanted her to.
It didn’t take much longer for us to decide that it was okay for Hollywood to quit soccer. I went back and forth with myself over whether or not it was okay for her to not ‘see this through’. In hindsight, it was probably that it felt like more of a parenting FAIL as opposed to Hollywood ‘not seeing it through’.
So when Hollywood came back inside yesterday and told me she wanted to play soccer again, I cringed. The thought of going through all the bullshit all over again, and flushing almost $200 down the toilet was making my blood pressure go up. But after writing this, maybe I should just be happy that she still wants to try. Even if it wasn’t a lesson in sportsmanship and commitment, maybe it was a lesson for all of us in perseverance and resilience.
It has recently come to my attention that kids are becoming more technologically fluent at a younger and younger age. No, I don’t live under a rock – but I am just realizing now how annoying it is. It may have something to do with the fact that I was recently technologically bested by Hollywood. On a whim, I had set up an Instagram account on my cell phone. Two days later, I check my email and see that I have a message from a ‘follower’ (I didn’t even know you could have followers). Afterspending twenty minutes re-figuring out how to look at my account on my phone, I see that all ‘my’ pictures were taken by Hollywood. My Instagram account is being run by my four year old, who apparently has ‘followers’.
The fact that kids have their own parent sponsored, and by sponsored I mean paid for, cell phones is annoying enough. When I was thirteen and I asked Mumsie for a beeper, yes, I asked for a beeper, she shook her head and said, “Only drug dealers have beepers Maura.” I finally got my first cell phone at seventeen years old. I bought it myself, and I paid the monthly bill. Recently I’ve made my peace with the teenagers having cell phones. It’s more of a convenience for the parents than it is acquiescing to the kid. At least that is what it will be for me when the time comes.
The thing that annoys me now, and when I really start to think about it, it actually concerns me, is the obsession that we as parents (some of us anyway, myself included) have instilled in our kids when it comes to our own cell phones. Hollywood is constantly asking me for my phone. What started as a last resort to get her to shut up in a waiting room about six months ago has become her playing games or watching Netflix, on my phone. While sitting in our living room. Surrounded by approximately $750,000 worth of toys. This is a problem.
Watching that screen takes no imagination, it requires no physical effort, and it requires no other human interaction. It’s even gotten to the point lately that when one of Hollywood’s friends comes over to play, he gets his moms phone and they both sit there, silently praying to the gods of Minecraft. Now I know some people have arguments about educational games (which should be played with a parent on a desk top really), and the fact that if our kids aren’t technologically fluent they will be left behind. I get that. I think there’s a bigger problem here though.
I admit that sometimes I cave and give my phone to Hollywood, especially when Baby is being quite difficult, because it is something she wants (which alleviates my guilt about having to pay extra attention to Baby) and it will keep her occupied (which is what I need). As of late though, she’s been asking for my phone more and more, even when I’m not tied up with Baby. She is starting to prefer playing on the cell phone instead of playing say, Candy Land or Barbie’s.
And who’s to blame? Me. But this time it’s worse than throwing her the phone when it’s convenient for me. I’m pretty sure it’s because she sees me glued to my phone, probably more than I’d like to admit. I draw the line sometimes, no phone at the dinner table, no texting and driving, (sitting here trying to think of another time I draw the line and cant)… Any other time, if I get a text I answer it. If I get a Facebook notification, I respond to it. What’s this telling my kid? It’s no wonder she is obsessed with my phone when I so clearly am.
Just like Hollywood needs limits, evidently so do I. I don’t want my kid thinking that cell phones are the only viable option for entertainment. And I certainly don’t want her thinking that she needs to compete with it for my attention. I’m putting myself on cell phone detox. Phone calls I’ll take as they come (but who even makes phone calls anymore anyway), texts I’ll answer when I’m not in the middle of something else, especially if it has to do with my kids. And although, I’m not promising that I won’t be fighting Hollywood for the phone the next time we’re in waiting room hell, I will try and keep the Facebook activity to a reasonable level. Wish me luck.
Awhile back I read about a study about couples who had divorced before their children had gone into kindergarten. No, I don’t remember where I read it, or who conducted it, but the jist of it was that the majority of couples who had opted for divorce before all their children had gotten to kindergarten age said that they had wished they had “waited it out”. Meaning, the stress of having children not in school (ie; occupied and out of the house five days a week, ten months out of the year) was enough of a stressor in a relationship to tip the scales and result in divorce. ‘Icing on the cake’ I guess?
When I read this study (I think Hollywood was still an infant),it seemed logical enough. It was at that time that I personally made a vow that if Chief and I ever got to that ‘bad place’ (not that we were, or are anywhere near there), I would never consider divorce until after Hollywood was in Kindergarten (and the next time I got married it would be for money). But I think I’m onto something as far as partnerships involving children under school age. Don’t ask me what happens once they go to school. Ill cross that bridge when I get to it.
So that being said, while preparing dinner last night, I caught myself violently piercing the spaghetti squash. Running on less than four hours sleep because Baby had been up all night, and nothing short of crying all day, I was secretly hating my husband because he slept all day (yeah, yeah, he works nights, I know), and he had the pleasure of going off to work at four o’clock, thereby escaping what was sure to be another torturous night, and for the record it was. As I tried, with futility, to tune out Baby CIO (crying it out) behind me, and Hollywood singing at my feet, I found myself thinking about how often I get so angry with Chief because these children are at times, beyond difficult.
A tad delusional in my rage, I came to the conclusion that these tiny terrorist have devised a scheme to try and weaken the forces of a united parenthood. I realize it’s a little dramatic but, ‘United we stand, divided we fall right?’
These children are by no means stupid. We cook for them, feed them, bathe them, dress them, play with them, drive them, wipe their asses for them. And that’s just the beginning. We are at the mercy of these kids. They’ve got it all figured out. And here I am, getting pissed off, six ways to Sunday, at my husband because the kids are driving me crazy. Confession: I’ve found myself, on more than one occasion, laying in bed, toying with the idea of punching Chief in his sleep, then pretending I’m asleep when he wakes up wondering what the hell happened. Yeah, that’s how I roll.
But now, more than ever, I understand why that study turned out the way it did. Even though I feel like my kids make my bond with my husband even stronger, some days they make it all too easy to turn on my own comrade. There are times that Chief and I are spitting nails each other. Mid argument, one of us has to take a phone call and when we answer the phone, it sounds like we have sunshine and unicorns blowing out our asses. In hindsight, the thought of being more considerate to our friends and acquaintances than we are to our own spouses is ridiculous.
So from here on out I’m going to try and do a better job at remembering that Chief and I are on the same side. I will try and remember that we are allies, in the truest sense of the word, and we need to work together at this task of child rearing. It’s only a matter of time before Hollywood and Baby are actively conspiring against us anyway). May as well start working on our battle plan.
A friend recently sent me a screen capture of a young girl, about ten years-old, holding up an ineligible letter. Think ‘inmate holding placard in mug shot’ style. The screen capture was of a Facebook status and in the comments section was the aforementioned ineligible letter. I’m opting not to post the content verbatim but it went something like this;
‘I have stolen money from my family. I have lied every day. I don’t take responsibility for my actions. From now on I will change my behavior. I am sorry’
There was a little more specific detail about the stealing and the lies but you get the picture.
This was posted on the ‘inmates’ father’s Facebook page with the hashtag ‘#socialpunishment’. The mutual friend who brought this to my attention, ‘Happily Childless’, was a little shocked at this action from the father, but offered no real judgments because she doesn’t have any little deviants of her own. My response however was, and I quote, “F$cking A right!” And here’s why.
I happen to know a little bit of this particular family’s history. I know what questionable things the father, our mutual friends, and I did as children. When I say children however, I mean as teenagers. I didn’t start flirting with potential disaster until I was at least fourteen. I do recognize none of us were angels and we should all count ourselves lucky to be alive to some degree. And while I realize that sometimes I have selective memory, the things we did, although incredibly stupid, and yes sometimes, illegal (ie; illicit substances), we did not steal. And we did not lie. If I got caught doing something, instances which were few and far between I might add because I wasn’t a ‘special kind of dumbass’ like some of these kids are now, I fessed up, bit the bullet, took my punishment, and made amends.
Finally, and more importantly, what I mentioned about the group of us being lucky to be alive, one of us was not so lucky. This particular family has seen firsthand, an untimely loss from drugs use. I personally feel like this Dad, and a good Dad from what I’ve seen and heard, is probably questioning and remembering that every day. When you see your kids heading down a destructive path, you have to take action.
I know my girls are only four and six months old so perhaps my opinions might change. But I want to hear what readers think. Readers of young kids, older kids, and even people with no kids.
Does the punishment fit the crime? Is ten years old too young for the punishment, even though at ten years old she’s already lying and stealing?
I wanted to write a post dedicated to the kid who makes me laugh, makes me cry (sometimes tears of frustration), and makes me seriously question the limitations of human patience. I feel like I should give readers a little back-story on my oldest, Hollywood. If you don’t know her, reading this will get you pretty close to understanding how she got her nickname. A side note: Perhaps you will also understand why I sometimes think it is her master plan to get me to throw myself off a cliff.
Hollywood has what I’ll call a ‘passion’ (as much passion as a four year old can have) for music and dancing. Chief likes to say he lives in an episode of Family Guy. Everything, and I mean everything, right down to wiping her own ass, is a song and dance.
Additionally, Chief also likes to tell me, “It’s all your fault.” Which it probably is.
Shortly after Hollywood came of ‘T.V. watching age’, I quickly got bored of Sprout, and PBS. So I took it upon myself to shall we say, introduce her to a little ‘culture’. Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Cats was on T.V one night so I flipped it on and Hollywood immediately fell in love. She sang and danced all over the living room. We worked on her pronunciation of “Jellical” while I sipped on my martini, oh so very pleased with myself that I had a two year old watching Broadway musicals. She liked it so much, I DVR’d it for her. The next morning I was thrilled when she woke up and requested to watch it again.
In the following weeks, Cats played on my TV more than it did at The Winter Garden Theater. I attempted to broaden Hollywood’s horizons, and alleviate my boredom. We tried, Guys And Dolls, La Cage Aux Folles (I didn’t really think that one would fly but it was worth a shot), I even tried Disney movies to no avail. The only other thing I could get her to watch was Michael Jackson’s This Is It which was premiering on HBO at the time. And so began her new obsession, the obsession that has stuck ever since.
Needless to say, the singing and dancing, although incessant, was a novelty at the time. We all thought it was just “adorable” that two year-old Hollywood sung ‘Beat It’ and ‘Dirty Diana’. In the past year or two however, it has gone from precocious, to borderline obnoxious. The kid just doesn’t stop.
So now I am torn between not crushing my child’s creative spirit, and trying to keep what little sanity I have left, intact. I realize that it’s the nature of the four year old beast to be overdramatic and energetic, but this is frigging ridiculous. There have been times when I have had to hold my own leg down while she twirls around me ‘singing’ so I don’t put my own foot out and trip her.
Thinking about it rationally, (because I spent a few hours today, sans kids, over brunch with Bloody Mary’s), I realize that part of her constant performing probably has to do with the fact that she loves attention. And up until six months ago, she didn’t have to share that attention. Now she has competition.
But aside from that, and more importantly, I think back to all the times I have had to tell her to “Shhhh”, “Be quiet”, “Stop”, “Calm down”, and yes sometimes, “OhmyGodshutup!” When I get to the point where I can see beyond my own guilt, I can recognize and appreciate the fire that this kid has in her. No matter how many times I have to tell her to “be quiet” because the baby is sleeping, or “shhh” because Daddy is on the phone, or “Shutthehellup!” because I can’t even hear myself think, nine times out of ten, she just joyfully takes the singing and dancing into another room (good enough for me) and continues to do what she loves.
I know its small potatoes now, and that I’m drawing a fine line between letting her ‘embrace her creativity’ and disobeying me, but if it’s any sign of what’s to come, I think she might be well served by the attitude that she can do whatever it is that she loves, no matter how much someone tells her to ‘be quiet’.
I recently mentioned to a girlfriend a brilliant (no surprise there) idea about cocktails in a cabana on the beach. Her reply, “No cabanas for me until I can sit on a beach in less than a snowsuit.” I should tell you this girlfriend of mine is an adorable mother of two with an enviable ass that won’t quit. Is she going to be walking the runway for that woman hating mongoloid, Karl Lagerfeld? No. But she looks good.
This little transaction made me wonder, why is it that we moms are making ourselves bat shit crazy trying to look perfect? This behavior becomes especially prevalent when the first swift breeze of summer comes by, wafting in like the smell of a bucket of Boardwalk Fries. Trying to achieve the penultimate, looking perfect in the bathing suit. (The ultimate being; looking like a porn star naked)
I admit, since the beginning of the year I have been on and off four different diets and I have finally made my peace with the fact that Jennifer Hudson is right about Weight Watchers (despite the shitty commercials with her voice dubbed over that annoying 90’s song “The Power”). I had also been going to the gym regularly, but that’s mostly because it’s an excuse to get the hell away from my children for 90 minutes a day.
On a good day, I recognize that although it’s slow going, I am, in fact, losing the weight and I know it’s the right thing to do because it’s the healthy thing to do. Read: I’m rolling my eyes and sneering as I type that.
And then there are the other days. The other days when I get furiously frustrated and I start silently berating myself thinking, ‘I’m going to end up on the beach this summer in a bathing suit made by Omar the Tentmaker!’ Granted, I’m not going to be a ‘lower body shot’ on the next CNN obesity report but truth be told, my body doesn’t look the way I did before I had my kids.
I know for a fact I’m not the only one arguing with myself over this. So if I’m not alone, why are all of us (moms especially) sweating this so much?
Simply because, we’re worried about being judged. A human condition I know but, but what kind of bullshit is it when moms are judging other moms? Don’t we, as a collective group, have about a million more things going on in our lives to worry about than the way we look, especially in the most evil of all attire? I’m not suggesting that we let all hell break loose and completely give up (let’s keep it fresh ladies) but let’s give each other a freaking break.
That being said, I’m declaring myself officially ‘Over-It’. I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a teacher, a chef, a writer, a friend, a business woman, a runner, a role model, a boo-boo kisser, a diaper changer, a bottle maker, a maid, a storyteller, a volunteer, a groundskeeper, a counselor, a housekeeper, the list goes on for miles. I will keep going to the gym, when my schedule allows, because I want to set a good example for my girls (also, I’ve convinced myself that it’s possible to off-set the abuse I put my body through during my twenties and well, now).
But I’m also declaring myself officially ‘Over It’ when it comes to looking at other moms with envy, or worse, with judgment. It’s a waste of my energy, and I’d like to think that as I’ve gotten older (older, not old), I’ve gotten comfortable enough to make peace with the fact that no matter how much weight I loose, my stomach will still look like my roadmap through motherhood.
Today’s productivity was leveraged by ‘Hollywood’s’ obnoxiousness. Suffice it to say, I am just getting to my first official post. So I’m raising a glass (chin chin) to what I hope will be a successful attempt at creating a space for parents (and even non parents) to interact and have some fun. I hope you can think of it as your own, personal, 24 hour Happy Hour.
I just wanted to clarify a few things as I get started. First, this website is still in its infancy so please be patient, and be assured that it will get better with time. I’m learning ‘website building’ on the fly and it’s mind numbingly frustrating to say the least. If anyone has any suggestions please feel free to speak up. You can contact me via email or Play Pen’s Facebook page. I would love to hear from you.
Second, and more importantly, I need to stress that while this is a place for parents to be guilt free about ‘normal parent guilt’, there is a fine line. This means that while we can joke about giving kids Bendadryl because they are making us bat-shit crazy (you know you’ve thought about it) , we are not confessing, nor are we condoning, seriously crushing up your prescription painkillers in the bedtime bottle to make the baby sleep through the night. Please respect the humor of this site and know that Play Pen respects the responsibility of child rearing. At the same time, Play Pen recognizes the need for parents to have an outlet to express normal frustrations in a comical way.
Finally, this website will not be successful without your input so please, comment and engage your fellow parents in conversation. And again, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
Now that the ‘housekeeping’ is done, let roll. Expect posts approximately 2-3 times per week, the next one appearing in 1-2 days.