Monthly Archives: June 2014

What Does That Spell: When Kids Learn to Read

Over the last few months, my oldest daughter has definitely become an “emerging reader.” This means she is not sounding words out anymore, she’s just reading them, at least in books labelled “easy reader.” She’s quite a bit ahead of the average kindergarten kid, which was no surprise to us considering she’s always been so full of questions and interested in what all the letters say, and that she learned how to write her name before preschool.

Honestly, she probably could have learned to read a lot earlier if her parents had done even the minimum amount of required home reading this year, but we decided that it wouldn’t be good for her socially to get too far ahead. Okay, fine, that’s a blatant lie; it just sounds so much better than what actually happened. The truth is that she was doing so well we kind of just didn’t bother to read with her very often because listening to kids try to read when they are just learning is horribly annoying. (Kid: “T-t-t ha-ha-ha e-e-e. T-t-t ha-ha-ha e-e-e. Tah-ha-e. Tah-ha-e. Tah-ha-e.” Grown-up: “The. T-H-E spells the. Just like it did over there, earlier on this same page. This page has six words on it, and two of them are the! How do you not remember that? Why do we always wait until right before bed to practice reading? IT SAYS THE!”)

Anyway, despite our neglect, our daughter has learned to read. This new skill has brought changes to our little family, and while most of these changes are good, some are not. Here are some of the pros and cons of having a child who knows how to read, at least in my house.

PRO: A child who can read can take books into the car with them. This means they are happily entertained on the drive, screen-free, and you don’t have to entertain them by playing “I’m thinking of an animal!” or listening to the Frozen soundtrack again. Just buy a Frozen BOOK! It’s win-win!

CON: A child who reads in the car might vomit in the car.

PRO: A child who can read can successfully go to bed MUCH earlier than one who can’t. A little bedside lamp is the solution to all your evening-time problems. Add a clock to the mix and you don’t even need the follow-up “turn your light off now” conversation. Instead, have the earlier “show me I can trust you to turn your lamp off on your own” conversation, and then you can confidently forget to check until hours later when you stumble up to bed yourself.

CON: You can no longer spell things to other adults in front of your child. We learned this the hard way when I suggested to my husband that we could possibly go to the p-o-o-l that afternoon. “We’re going to go swimming!” G giddily exclaimed, and we were suddenly committed to that plan.

PRO: You CAN spell things to your child in front of her younger siblings. Do you want to avoid an argument about who gets the first turn to try the new drawing app on your iPhone? Promise her she can stay up l-a-t-e-r than her sisters, or get a c-o-o-k-i-e after dinner without having to provide explanations or excuses to the others.

CON: Children who can read are capable of reading things you’d really prefer they not read. Graffiti on the side of the road, the text you just sent about her to her father, the novel she pulled off the hallway bookshelf—and I don’t even want to think about the magazine covers in the grocery store checkout line.

PRO: Finally, for other parents in a situation similar to mine—those who have more than one child and whose oldest has just learned to read—there is one big pro that outweighs all the others. Big siblings who know how to read can read stories to the littler ones for you. This is simply amazing. A positive activity that your kids can do together that also gets you off the hook for something you should be doing yourself? Now THAT’s a win.

Raise a reader, everyone. For your own sake, if not for theirs.

Journal entries like this are another pro, of course.

Journal entries like this are another pro, of course.

The Best Laid Plan

I consider myself somewhat of an “expert wordsmith.” Sort of a “poetic genius,” if you will. I’m basically an artist, but the WORDS are my paint, and YOUR SOUL is my canvas. And now that I’ve built it up an appropriate amount, please enjoy my latest creation:

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Countdown to Meltdown

A stock photo directly from my nightmares.

A stock photo directly from my nightmares.

Well, I did it. I went to the grocery store with all four kids, by myself, for the first time. I have been very reluctant to do this for reasons that should be obvious but include: there’s no room in the cart for food if it’s full of kids; toddlers who hit their baby sisters can’t sit beside those sisters in the child seat on the cart; people will often look at me and silently count my kids, thinking (correctly) that I must be crazy. And the final, most important reason: the grocery store is a common kid-meltdown location, and with four kids, this meltdown is four times more likely. Basically, I knew there would be a meltdown, I just didn’t know who, or when, or why, or what the heck it would be about this time.

But I went anyway. I was going out that evening and my husband had to stay late at work, so there was no time for one of us to go with fewer children. Besides, the shopping list was short but full of essentials. We didn’t need many things, but we needed them rather soon. The list was: diapers, wipes, baby cereal, and laundry detergent. Four things. Surely we could manage four things, right?

So I packed the kids in the car and left. This alone would have been enough of a challenge, but I was just getting started.

We arrived at the store, parking far away from the store but close to a cart spot. I kept Baby N in her car seat and put it in the bottom area of the cart, far away from the swinging fist of her toddler sister, whom I wrestled into the cart’s child seat, belting her in. I told the big kids to each hold on to opposite sides of the cart. And into the store we went, as quickly as slugs.

Inside the store I shopped slowly and calmly, taking deep breaths and reminding myself that I wasn’t in a hurry, while employing all the desperate strategies I could think of to keep the meltdowns at bay—I opened a package of baby Mum-Mums and gave one to the toddler. I opened a new package of soothers right there in the soother aisle. (Yes, it was unsterilized, but this is the baby who plays a game involving sucking on her big sister’s feet, so boiling water for the pacifier is the least of our concerns with this one.) I stopped at the bakery for the free cookies at the very end of the trip so they had them for the dreaded checkout line. Well, for the beginning of the checkout line, anyway.

In the end, when the feared meltdown actually happened, we had made it home and it could be ignored without embarrassment! Success!

Except for the fact that I neglected to strap two-year-old R into her car seat on the way home, not noticing until we pulled into our driveway and she was suddenly standing up on her seat. And except for the fact that I forgot the laundry detergent and the baby wipes. Minor details, really.

Good morning, good mourning, to me …

You know how I don’t like bed time? I feel similarly about morning time. Perhaps you will read this and feel the same way, perhaps not. Either way, let me know what mornings are like at your house, so we can all either feel way better, or way worse about our situations! (Just don’t share with all of us that you are retired with grown children and live in a villa in Greece and your mornings are lovely, quiet, and coffee-filled. Just kidding, you can. But seriously, don’t.)

Mornings, weekday mornings in particular, are ROUGH at my house. I don’t want to say always (mother’s day and my birthday were notable exceptions this year), but 9.85 times out of 10, they are ROUGH. Probably if I was better at organizing my mornings and sticking to a plan, mornings would be better, but that is not my reality, okay?

Mornings in general right now consist of being woken up by my children in one of three ways:
Option 1) One or both of them fly up the stairs to our room screaming “I have to go peeeee!” which means my brain must quickly switch on, even if it is not ready to do so, and I must drag myself out of bed and go wipe a bum or two. I will always regret that I ended up in the side of the bed closest to the bathroom, while my husband gets to sleep peacefully on the other side. Also, somehow my “mother ears” are MUCH more sensitive to our children’s bellows than his “father ears” … Or so he claims.
Option 2) My children both appear at the side of our bed and climb in with their father and I. This inevitably involves elbows and knees (children are sharp little humans!) jabbing into every tender part of my body, parts that were previously warm and comfortable, cradled by the soft, warm, early morning blanket-and-sheet combo. The contrast is quite jarring. The temperature of the bed is always perfect in the morning—as though my body has prepared this perfect nesting place for itself, and the morning sun is coming in the windows, and I start dreaming about my morning coffee … mmm. Why, the only thing that could ruin that blissful state is two incoming tornados who have no concept of “Saturday,” and are composed mostly of hair, elbows, knees, nails, screaming, and freezing cold feet, right? Right.

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Oh, and there is another, less common option: they arrive at the side of my bed in full costume, and I wake up to them staring at me. Granted, this has only happened once, but I feel that it’s only fair to mention it.

Option 3) My children wake up on their own, and play downstairs together (adorably, I might add). This is my favourite scenario, until I wake up and walk downstairs into the huge mess they’ve created. (“Look, Mommy! We’re making play-dough clothes for our stuffies!”)

And eventually, inevitably, I have to force myself out of my perfectly warmed bed and go downstairs with my children, who are vibrating with excitement in close proximity to me (because they LOVE mornings), and who are also in various states of nudity. And I have to CLOTHE these children, who have a hard time staying in one place, so once I sit down on the floor with the clothes I have selected to put on them, the kids are nowhere to be found. And it feels like it’s becoming less fun to alternate between sitting down and then getting up and chasing them, and then sitting down, and then getting up and chasing them again, on account of how my body still believes it is sleep time. I feel old and crotchety and grumpy and sore in the morning and I just want to sit and have them come to ME. And then it’s breakfast time, and time for an attempt to pack their snacks and lunches for school while I look wistfully at the coffee machine (Soon … My love. I’ll be with you soon). My son, who is six, is incredibly indecisive (like his father, I might add), and it’s like I’m giving him a real “Sophie’s Choice” in the mornings when I ask him what sandwich he would like in his lunchbox. “It’s hard to deciiiiide!” He will say, and burst into tears. So I will comfort my sweet, sensitive little soul, while contemplating how late we will be for school. I will have to ask him several times, gently, before he’ll finally make a decision. Then I will make the thing, with one eye on the clock and one eye on my children to ensure that they are actually eating their breakfast. And now that they have something in their stomachs (hopefully, as there is also breakfast all over the floor), I ask myself: Have they gone to the bathroom? Brushed their teeth? But there is no time, so I’ll scratch the brushing of the teeth and just herd them to the door. During this process I must make myself as wide as possible so that I can get them to the door without losing one of them to whatever interesting thing catches their eye that they’ll decide they must play with THIS INSTANT. Momentum is the key, I have realized … keep them moving toward the door, get them out of it, have them waiting on the porch for me and THEN consider if I am wearing a bra or not, and if it even really matters at that moment, because I know that if I go upstairs for any reason, they will either follow me up (“What are you doing, Mommy?”), or they will not follow me, but be sucked back into other parts of the house like a couple of confused astronauts into a large black hole. So maybe I should just throw on a jacket. Also, there are always those last minute, “one more kick at the can” attempts … “Mommy! I forgot to find something for sharing time!” “Mommy! My library book!” “Mommy! I’m still so hungry!” “Mommy! I’m TIIIIIRED!”

Finally we are out the door and walking, riding, or scooting to school (bra-less, of course). Finally. And we are received at school with (what are probably imagined) dirty looks from the teachers, and another “late” on the ol’ report card. But we made it! And I can now go home, have my long-awaited tryst with the espresso machine, and collapse on the couch. I guess I could use that time to prepare for the next morning, pack the lunches, lay out the clothes, etc., etc.

But I’m TIIIIIRED.

 

Of Wet Wipes and VHS Tapes: A Leisurely, Rainy-Day Momversation

Jac: I have a question for you.

Juli: Ok. I just hope it’s not about math.

Jac: Your kids are both potty trained, yes? So do you still have wet wipes in nearly every room of your house? Because I’m not sure I’ll be able to do without those in the future (the very distant future, it seems) when all my kids are out of diapers.

Juli: Short answer, yes. Long answer, because I always need them, everywhere and anywhere, because we are all slobs who live here (well, two of us in particular). Sticky hands are a 24-7 occurrence. I don’t even know how the kids can possibly be sticky all the time, but lo and behold, they are. Same goes for disinfectant wipes. There’s always something to disinfect, you know? Walls! Floors! Hardcover children’s books that I find in pools of urine on the bathroom floor!

Jac: YES. That’s what I’m talking about! I kind of understand those people who have the re-usable little cloths on their diaper change tables because it saves so much waste and so on, but what do they do when they arrive somewhere public where everyone looks nice, and they look at their kid and it’s suddenly like, oh GOODNESS. Peanut butter EVERYWHERE.

Juli: Whoever invented wet wipes deserves a full, long kiss on the mouth.

Jac: Agreed. Did our parents have wet wipes? When were they invented? Because what did they do without them? I’m gonna ask Siri.

Juli: Maybe that’s why our parents are so grumpy about us and how hard it was when we were babies. No wet wipes.

Jac: Siri says: “The technology to create disposable non-woven towelettes was developed in the late 1970s.”

Juli: Ah! Ok, so they had them! Hah!

Jac: I bet they didn’t have them, actually. My parents were not the “new technology! Get it!” types, especially considering that I’m the youngest of four and I was born in ‘82. I could ask them, of course, but I won’t bother. Much easier to ask Siri.

Juli: Because you know with Siri it will be a nice, to-the-point conversation.

Jac: Right. No silly pleasantries.

Juli: And you’re right about them maybe not having wipes. My parents weren’t new technology types, either. That’s why we rented those suitcase-style VHS players from the local video store so often. But, uh oh … I’m showing my age …

Jac: I remember renting a VCR! I think … It’s a vague recollection …

Juli: Right? So crazy.

One day, when our kids are grown up and we are all watching films through laser implants in our eyeballs, it will be hard to believe that these things ever existed.

One day, when our kids are grown up and we are all watching films through laser implants in our eyeballs, it will be hard to believe that these suitcase-things ever existed.

Jac: And just today I was at a garage sale where someone was selling an entire BOX of VHS tapes for $4. Times, man. They are a-changing.

Juli: The lady down the street from me came out of her house one day in her nightgown with a giant garbage bag full of VHS tapes of kids movies, asking me if I wanted them.

Jac: Did you accept that lovely offer?

Juli: I politely declined. Because, on one hand, there is already too much useless kid-related garbage in my house, and, on the other hand, I felt that there was a slight chance that it could actually be a dead body …

Jac: Smart. Best to avoid that scenario. And also because you’d have to own a VCR. Do you?

Juli: I do not own a VCR.

Jac: But it feels like I recorded shows on my VCR so recently. I mean, when I was a grown-up, definitely. My own VCR, my own TV, my own shows … Those were the days.

Juli: I do still have a few old VHS tapes from my childhood days. Like an old copy of “The Little Mermaid,” which I pointlessly keep, just for nostalgia.

Jac: What is the best toy you guys own now, for your kids?

Juli: Besides the TV, you mean?

Jac: Yes. I mean the thing that buys you the MOST non-screen-time play? So, no iPad, either.

Juli: Ah, good that you specified that, because I was going to SAY the iPad. I guess the answer would be LEGO* at this stage in the game. My children will muck around with it for forever making weird creatures, and creating a minefield of painful LEGO pieces for my husband and I to step on.

Jac: Yes, A definitely seems like he would be awesome at LEGO magic. But does S even manage it? My kids have some, but they always need so much HELP with it. Are they below-average in LEGO-Putting-Together? It’s okay, tell me the truth. I can take it.

Juli: Yes, she does, actually! I’m sorry that your kids aren’t strong in their LEGO-bilities, but maybe it’s a good thing? Because, for example, S once made something quite unrecognizable and demanded I guess what it was, and would not give me ANY hints. And she grew increasingly frustrated with each wrong answer.

Jac: It was not a house? Or a person? Those are always my first guesses with this sort of thing. I’m usually wrong, of course …

Juli: “A … Ladder? A …. Duck?” “A …. Tractor?”    “NOOOOOOOO MOMMY! IT’S A SPICY DRAGON WITH A HAT!”

Jac: Ah, of course. My next guess.

Juli: So obvious, right? Spicy and scary are words she uses interchangeably, by the way.

Jac: I was going to ask about that. Because how would she KNOW if a dragon is spicy unless she bites it, and if she’s such a genius, she should obviously know that that would just be a mistake.

Juli: Well, that is a great point.

Jac: LEGO is a good one. Maybe my kids will grow into it. Or else my younger set of children will be more LEGOly-inclined and show up my big set? What are your kids doing right now, anyway? Mine are in our Wreck Room, playing band.

Juli: I love that you call it a “wreck” room. That’s how I know that you would be allowed to come over to my house. Are they a good band?

Jac: Mostly they turn on this old keyboard we keep down there, turn it up real loud, and then jump on the bed. Also, they discuss what they should be named. You know, just like a real band.

Juli: Of course. Mine are playing video games with my husband. Luckily it’s raining outside, or I would feel more guilty about this.

Jac: No, it’s important father-children time … Oh man, Baby N just crawled under the barstool and got stuck again. I bet babies have been doing that since the dawn of time. Or the dawn of stools.

Juli: Oh, Baby N. What is under there that is so darn interesting!?

Jac: Cracker crumbs, of course.

Juli: Of course.

Jac: And a bandaid wrapper.

Juli: Ah, yes. The “holy grail” of babydom.

Jac: Totally. I bet YOU wanna play under there, now.

Juli: Oh, babies. Get your priorities straight! Stop worrying about what’s on the floor, and think about learning to use the toilet! That will improve your life TREMENDOUSLY!

Jac: Dude, I have another kid to potty train before I even get to Baby N. I’ll be living in diapertown for a LONG time yet.

Juli: And back to baby wipes! Which we will both need for years, whether our kids are potty trained or not.

Jac: At least we are getting so good at general wiping.

Juli: Yes. We do both do a lot of wiping, don’t we? Hey, should that be on my resume?

Jac: I hope so, because it’s ALL THAT’S ON MY RESUME at the moment. “Efficient and Thorough Wet-Wipe Usage.”

Juli: Isn’t it lovely how our conversations always come full circle?

Jac: Wet wipes to wet wipes.

Juli: Whether wiping bums, peanut-butter faces, or pee-soaked books—we’re just the dames for the job!

 

* This is the correct way to write this word. Apparently the people at the LEGO company like to shout.

E Wants to Tell You Something. Or Nothing. For Five Minutes. When You’re Already Late.

“She’s never pleased when she can be delighted, never annoyed when she can be furious.” (From Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper) In this picture, my E is obviously delighted.

“She’s never pleased when she can be delighted, never annoyed when she can be furious.” (From Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper)
In this picture, my E is obviously delighted.

If you had to describe my E (age 4) in five words, four of them would be passionate, and the fifth would be focused. This has always been true of her, and when she was two and three years old, it made her a very tiring little girl indeed. She was passionate but also irrational, which made for a lot of screaming. If you said no to giving her a cookie, she would follow you around, screaming and crying, for twenty minutes or more. Because she really, really, really wanted to eat a cookie. Now.

But as she has moved deeper into her fours, her “exuberance compass” is now most often pointed to cheerful. I hear, “Thank you so much Mommy! You’re the best Mommy in the whole world!” more in one day than most moms hear in a year. And this is a very nice change. (Side-note: sometimes I take these over-the-top thank-yous and apply them to the past. So when she says, “Thank you, thank you Mommy, for helping me find my sock! That was so so so so so so nice of you!” I choose to hear, “Thank you, Mommy, for having patience with me in the middle of the night that one time when I screamed at you for an hour because my pillow was touching my pillow.* I don’t know what I was talking about.”)

But. BUT. Even though E has mostly outgrown her rip-roaring tantrum stage, her super-enthusiasm can be a little … wearing.

Here’s an example. One day we were on our way to pick up my oldest from school, so I was wrangling E and her little sisters into the car, buckling and packing and hurrying and gathering, when E asked if she could run back inside to grab her Pink Pony for the drive. We were only in a bit of a hurry and it seemed like a reasonable request, so I agreed, saying, “Yep, run in quick and grab her, and then come right back out, okay?” She responded with grateful enthusiasm and started to walk toward the house. On the way, she slipped a little and almost fell down, but didn’t. I witnessed this non-event with my own two eyes, so naturally E decided to tell me all about it.

“Did you see that, Mommy?”

“I did, yes!”

“I almost fell down.”

“MmHm, I saw.”

“Mommy? Did you see? I was walking toward the door to get my pony and then I started to trip or something.”

“Yes, but you didn’t fall down—get going!”

“I just wanted to get my pony! And I started to fall!”

“E, go!”

“And I put this foot out to stop me, right Mommy? Right? So I wouldn’t fall down? I was going to get my pony and I started walking, and—”

“Go get your pony, or you’ll run out of time!”

“That was a close call, wasn’t it, Mommy? When I almost fell down? Did you see it, Mommy, I—”

“E! GET YOUR PONY! GET IN THE VAN! STOP TALKING!”

Can you see how this kind of conversation would be adorable the first few times, but not so adorable five times a day? I end up yelling at her, even though she’s not even doing anything wrong. I think the solution here is to distribute her laser-focused enthusiasm more evenly. We need breaks from her little chats, just like sending her to Grandma’s gave us breaks when she was in her tantrumming twos. She needs access to more grown-ups to tell about the hilarious thing that happened yesterday. (Spoiler: she dropped her toothbrush and the baby picked it up! Wonderful!)

I guess what I’m saying is: I can’t wait until September. Her Kindergarten teacher is going to love her passion and energy, and for only six hours a day, which is significantly fewer than my current 24. It’s truly a win-win. Win!

 

* She only had one pillow.

I have become more disgusting than I ever thought possible

I used to rinse out my coffee cups before I drank from them, because I was worried about ingesting dust. I used to follow the no-second rule—if something fell on the ground I would simply not eat it. I used to be unable to share a spoon with my husband (whose mouth I kiss, by the way) because the idea of sharing someone else’s mouth-germs really grossed me out. When I was twelve, I observed my beloved Grandfather, who was making me hot cocoa over the stove, lick the spoon he was using and put that spoon back into the cocoa. I tell you, I could not, for the life of me, bring myself to drink that hot cocoa. I remember quietly dumping it in the grass when he wasn’t looking. I know, this is beyond weird, but the point is, I used to have pretty serious standards in place regarding what I would or would not ingest.

Much has changed.

Now, quite often, if I get breakfast or lunch AT ALL, it is because I am standing over the sink, stuffing my face with my kids’ spit-saturated leftovers. I need to get it into my stomach, AND FAST, before my presence is required yet again to moderate the next argument about whose turn it is to use the swirly spoon. Doing this will conceivably give me the energy I need to get through my day, because at least these things are EDIBLE, or so I tell myself.

Here are some examples of disgusting things I have eaten in my time as a parent:

1) Leftover Mac ‘N Cheese, from a pirate bowl, with a dinosaur spoon. While I’m eating it, I’m trying not to think about what might have been regurgitated back into it.

2) Two small brown food bits off of the couch, which at the time I thought were chocolate, but which turned out to be something hard and dry and flavourless, something very much the opposite of chocolate. You’d think I would have learned my lesson after the first brown food bit, but no, a few weeks later, when I spotted another one, I thought to myself, “Now, surely this MUST be chocolate!” But you know what they say; fool me once . . .

3) The discarded crusts of various different types of sandwiches. We’re talking PB&J, Tunafish, Ham, Turkey—anything at all. Though, it doesn’t really matter what type of sandwich it was, as all of the delicious inside stuff is LONG gone by the time it finds it’s way to me.

4) A veritable cornucopia of mixed-up food bits, from dinners that have been strewn around plates while the eater whines about said dinner.

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What have we become, my portly friend? What have we become?

5) Some greenish-yellow baby food, because I was trying to show my baby how delicious it was, so he would eat it. In actual fact, it turned out NOT to be delicious after all.

6) A teeny bit of baby barf, which was barfed into my open mouth. Serves me right, though, for passing my baby to someone standing above me while talking to them.

And the list goes on, but perhaps I’ve revolted you enough for one day. On a positive note, I’ve learned two very important things about myself through the consuming of these items: first, I really don’t like to waste food, now that I am the primary food-preparer in our household. I would clearly rather eat something that has been compromised than see it go to waste, if I have invested my time and energy in the making of it. Second, when I’m cleaning and I pick up something edible, rather than walk all the way over to the garbage can, I will just put that thing into my mouth and eat it. That’s why one of my recent, brilliant new ideas for eating healthy involves me cutting up vegetables and leaving them lying around, so that I will feel the urge to tidy these bits, and get a healthy snack at the same time. That is a serious idea I had; I’m not even exaggerating.

So tell me, please: Am I the only one? What unfortunate things have you found yourself eating since becoming a parent?

 

Not Remotely Helpful

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Does anyone else really dislike universal remotes? Because I do. It seems to me that they do not in any way make life simpler. Instead, they make it more frustrating. They make you yell, “Argh! I just want to watch TV! Why can’t I watch TV?” At least, they make me yell that. One time, my sister, her husband, and my dad sat down to watch some television on the TV my mom (who wasn’t home) usually uses. This TV has a universal remote, connected to several devices (TV, Audio Receiver, VCR—for real, they still have one—and Blu-Ray). These three competent, educated adults ended up playing cards instead of watching TV because they couldn’t find the channels. Actually not a bad result, in the end. But shouldn’t they have been able to figure it out?

Do you know what else I do not like, though? Like, at all? Constantly looking for all of my necessary remotes. I already spend way too much of my life looking for things: pacifiers, blankies, the other flip-flop, more diapers because otherwise we are out, favourite sippy cups, hole-free leggings. The last thing I need when all the kids are in bed and I finally get to sit in front of the TV in the evening to fold laundry (yeah, right) is to crawl around looking under all of the couches and ottomans and footstools and cushions for not one, but two, missing remote controls. It’s not just that I’m lazy either; I truly don’t know how to turn on the TV using just my fingers and actual buttons anymore—I definitely don’t know how to change the channels. So I need to have only one remote to look for. And I need it to be bigger so it doesn’t get lost in the couch so easily.

But I’m a problem-solver. A doer. A fixer. I’m the Olivia Pope of household devices. Here’s my for-real current remote control:

I'm being sponsored by the Scotch Tape Company for this post.*

I’m being sponsored by the Scotch Tape Company for this post.*

Feel free to pin that, everyone. You won’t want to forget how to do it. Oh, and we call it the “twomotes.” Feel free to borrow that, too. You’re welcome.

*Just kidding, of course. I wish!

Bressels

I like to think of myself as a “modern/chill”-type of mom, the kind of mom who, if my kids have questions about sexuality or private parts, I will talk to them openly about it, and won’t shame them, or snicker about it while I give my husband a look (at least, not until they’re in bed, that is). When they bring it up (which they will, probably at the most inappropriate of times) I have resolved to look at them seriously, and with love, and to make it an open and acceptable conversation that they know they are welcome to engage in with me any time. This helps me with my irrational fear that they will end up learning about sex “on the street” (P.S. What street do you go to for learning about sex?)

So one afternoon as our family of four sat in a hot tub, I noticed S was very interested in my breasts. It was a bit creepy, to be honest, but I thought, sure, I’ll allow it. Then she floated over and climbed on my lap, facing me, her mouth pursed and serious, her eyes wide and transfixed. Then her little hands drifted slowly up through the water, and began to gently cup them. Before I had time to comment she said, matter of factly, “I’m just touching your bressels, Mommy.” My ever-alert husband chimed in to gently correct her: “You mean ‘breasts,’ honey.”

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When you’re three, there’s a lot to ponder.

I thought I would perhaps use this as a teachable moment, so I launched into it. “Breasts are something only women have, and when you grow up, you’ll have breasts too! And they are very special; if you decide to have babies they will start to make milk, and you can feed your babies from your breasts! But breasts are private parts too, sweetie, and only you should be able to touch your breasts, because they are private.” (I considered adding, “or your husband” But I thought to myself, why volunteer information? This is enough for today.) “If you have any questions about breasts, you can ask me anything you want, ok?”

She was quiet, then, for a few moments, her mouth twisting right and left. I braced myself, thinking, here it comes, she’s brewing a big one. I prepared my serious expression and loving gaze.

Then she opened her mouth: “Mommy, if Spider-Man came here, what would happen to your breasts?”

Aaaand: speechless.

Juli & Jac’s Parenting Hacks

We’ve all seen the various “hack” guides floating around online. You know, the simple solutions to everyday problems, intended to make your life easier. (If you don’t know what we’re talking about, click this link here, and see for yourself.) Well, we couldn’t help but notice that there are not a lot of simple solutions to everyday PARENTING problems. So we took it upon ourselves to create this nifty little guide for you, full of hacks that we fun moms use on a regular basis. Take it from us—these beauties really work! Check them out, share them with all of the exasperated parents you know, and feel free to print this out as a little wallet-sized cheat sheet—we don’t mind! We’re happy to share our secrets to make your life as a parent easier, richer, and more fulfilling.

Please enjoy:

parentinghacks

 

Did if you enjoyed this list, please also check out our second instalment: MORE PARENTING HACKS!

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