Monthly Archives: August 2014

What you’re missing if you don’t follow us on Facebook

If you read our blog, we’re so happy you’re here, no matter how you found us. But if you are reading this blog, and you don’t “follow” or “like” us on Facebook, we are sorry to tell you that you’re missing some of the TwoFunMoms’ fun! In addition to announcing and posting links every time we write a new post, we regularly update our status with little anecdotes or funny pictures.

Here are a few examples from the TwoFunMoms Facebook page:

  • S just came up to me and said, “Mommy, I’m writing a sign for A that says ‘No F-ing in the house!’ F-ing means ‘hurting or fighting.'”

    I’m looking forward to that sign being taped up on our wall and left there for months, for all to see.
  • You have a belligerent toddler. You know that it’s best to give her control in any area that you can, so you decide to allow her to select her own clothing. She is delighted, and selects two flannel sweaters and no pants. Alternative suggestions are met with … belligerence.
    Toddler for the win. As usual.
  • “Good morning, peanut!” I said to 3-year-old S as I wandered into her room and leaned down to give her a kiss on her wild blonde head. “I … am … not … a … peanut. I … am … a … robot.” She declared in a monotone, robot voice.
    “Oh! Well, if you’re a robot, can I program you to get dressed?”
    “No. If … I … get … dressed … I … will … ‘splode.”
    Have a wonderful day, friends, and may your peanuts never turn into ‘sploding robots.
  • Just had my nightly talk with E, age 4, about not getting out of bed unless it’s an emergency. Decided to get her to clarify what this means. She said, “If my bed is on fire and I have to poop.” Well. That would be an emergency.

And that’s just a few of the status updates. There was also a “Who Wore it Best: Baby Version!” photo contest starring Jac’s two youngest kids (spoiler: the winner was no one because the outfit was ridiculous). There was the time we gave away a PRIZE to someone who shared our post to our first “stranger” fan. There was the announcement that Jac is on twitter, with the follow-up announcement that we got the twitter widget (really, that’s a thing) to work on the blog itself. And finally, there was the barely repressed glee when one of our posts went “viral” (by our own definition) and got over 5,000 page views in one day.

This is fun social media stuff, everyone. Just click “like” over there on the right, or click the link to our page (THIS IS THE LINK TO TWOFUNMOMS ON FACEBOOK!), and like us there.

While we’re at it, you can also follow Jac on twitter: @twofunmoms.

Or look at endless pictures of her children, delicately paired with sarcastic comments, on instagram: @onefunjac

If you’re looking for Juli anywhere on social media besides the blog itself or the Facebook page, you won’t find anything. She has, like, a job, or a life, or boundaries … something like that.

But even Juli, with her job and boundaries, is on Facebook. And so are you. FOLLOW US!

Blow me to Bermuda!

There is an old Disney animated movie that no doubt many of you have heard of called The Sword in the Stone about the adventures of young King Arthur (known as “Wart” in the movie) who is on his way to becoming king under the wise tutelage of the wizard Merlin. It is my son A’s favourite Disney movie (but then, he has about 49 other “favourite” Disney/Pixar movies, so this doesn’t mean much). I also like it, especially because of this one part in the movie, where Merlin is trying to explain something to Wart, and Merlin is getting really, really frustrated, until he finally just says; “Blow me to Bermuda!” And with that, Merlin becomes a fiery blue rocket and shoots off, presumably to Bermuda. The reason this moment resonates with me so very much is because I have had many such moments (or mom-ents, as I like to call them) with my children, moments that I refer to privately as “Blow me to Bermuda” moments. These are times of ultimate frustration, despair, and struggle while parenting, times when I just want to shout, “Blow me to Bermuda!” and take off like a me-shaped rocket, to a land of quiet, sandy beaches, where I will lay on a white chaise lounge while hunky shirtless men bring me cocktails and fan me with palm fronds. I’ve never been to Bermuda, but this is what I’m sure it will be like when I eventually land there.

Examples of such mom-ents include:

It is the hottest day of the summer, and the children are whining and lying on top of me on the couch, clutching at me whilst sporadically fighting with each other. Blow me to Bermuda.

I am trying to get one naked child dressed while the other one removes her clothing in frustration because she wanted the PINK princess underwear, but not THAT pink princess underwear, and we had to leave the house five minutes ago. Just blow me the heck to Bermuda.


And there I go! In my dreams, that is. Credit for this beautifully photoshopped masterpiece goes to my husband, who was almost TOO excited to make this photo a reality.

We are finally sitting at the dinner table after I have just prepared a complicated meal (by my standards, which means it has more than three ingredients) over a hot stove, and the children are both expressing vehement distaste for said meal. Also, we are out of wine. My husband and I look at each other, pleadingly, over the chaos. Blow us BOTH to Bermuda.

So there you have it. Any scenario that seems just so frustratingly helpless that even if it could be helped, I am too exhausted or overwhelmed to help it right now: these are “Blow me to Bermuda” scenarios.

But, of course, I would never leave my children alone in this fantasy, because then what kind of mother would I be?! No—I have played this all out in my mind to its most logical conclusion: after I turn into a rocket and blow the heck out of there, the practically perfect Mary Poppins appears and cares for my children and sings and dances with them and dresses them up like little British schoolchildren, in the most delightful way.

Just do not give my children a spoonful of sugar before bed, Mary Poppins, because you WILL regret that decision. And then we will BOTH end up in Bermuda.

I don’t really care if you donate or not; I still love the Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has taken over my Facebook newsfeed, and I’m totally loving it. Maybe it’s because my kids keep asking me if there are any more Ice Bucket movies and I like that I can pretty much always say yes. Maybe it’s because it’s so hilarious to watch someone pick up a huge bucket of ice water and then dump it on their own head. But whatever it is, I love it all. My friends’ challenges, the viral movies of people going nuts with it, the celebrity versions, and the heart-wrenching stories of ALS sufferers expressing their disbelief and gratitude that this crazy thing is so popular—it’s my favourite-ever viral sensation. It’s much better than the Let it Go covers, anyway.

I will admit that maybe this guy went a little overboard.

I will admit that maybe this guy went a little overboard.

It’s easy to be confused by this whole crazy thing. Not everyone is giving money, or at least not announcing that they are giving money, and what is the point of dumping a bucket of water on yourself if you are not also giving money; how on earth does that help people with ALS? The two things—ALS and buckets of ice water—are not even remotely connected!

But I think that’s part of the appeal. It’s nice for people to be able to support a cause with the financial support aspect being kind of optional. I realize there is an expectation to donate and I think most people probably do, but it’s easy not to, and I think that’s why this campaign was successful and why it went viral. All kinds of people are doing it, and lots of them are not giving money for a wide variety of good and not so good reasons. But because they are doing it AT ALL, there has been huge financial success for the cause.

The thing is, we cannot possibly give money to everything. There are too many worthy causes and it’s so easy to become emotionally and financially stretched to the limit. I don’t want to speak for people with ALS, but I’m guessing that if you said to the ALS foundation, “Look, I believe in your cause, but my mom has MS so I’m going to keep giving my money to that,” they’re going to be okay with that. You could do research, soul-searching, investigating, and then pick ten disease-based charities to support, and you still would not be able to give money to every worthy and important cause. But if you dump the crazy bucket of ice water on your head anyway, maybe one of the people you nominate will donate, or one of the people THEY nominate will donate. So you’ve still helped! And I got to laugh at you! Win-win!

So while I think you should donate money to this worthy cause (or other important causes that need your support), I’m just saying I don’t actually think you have to. Accept the challenge anyway, guilt-free. If you don’t give money to anything, ever, you should maybe rethink that, but you already know that, and it’s not really up to me to tell you.

I guess what I’m wondering is, when does Climb a Tree for HIV start? Or the Breast Cancer Awareness Stork Stand Competition? Or the Sharpie a Moustache on Your Own Face for MS Challenge? Come on, social media! Let’s keep embarrassing ourselves for a good cause! My delighted children thank you, and so do I.

On Trying to Understand Small Children

So, the other morning I was sneakily trying to drink a cup of coffee in peace, when S came up to me with two LEGO creations in her hands. “Mommy,” she said, “Joey just ‘vented something, and he’s all done making it. Joey’s been working hard on his ‘vention with his best friend who he lives with, and they’re all done!” She holds up these items for me to look at, because obviously, in her mind, she believes that I will know exactly what she’s talking about. In truth, I do not. Instead I’m thinking, “Who is Joey, and if one of these LEGO things is Joey and one of them is this “vention,” how am I going to tell which is which?” This is an urgent question to answer in my head, and fast, because my young children, like most, are very impatient creatures. Impatient and illogical, which is a bad combination. S believes I should be able to understand everything she is talking about (through my telepathic abilities, perhaps), even when half of the dialogue is going on in her head. Should I let it slip that I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what she is talking about, I will be treated to a large amount of anger, which will emanate punishingly from her because “Mommy! You’re not list-en-INGG!”

Sometimes I am just SO exasperating.

Sometimes I am just SO exasperating.

So here is a secret that I’ve learned so far (and, good news: it works about 45% of the time): when responding to a small child in such a situation, you have to keep your comments AS GENERAL as possible. For example, I could look at both of these LEGO creations that she has made and say, “Wow, Joey! Huh! Look at that!” Or something to that effect. Notice that this sentence contains neither judgments nor qualifiers about her LEGO creations (or Joey’s, for that matter). One reason for this is that research has shown (and I am a reader of current research, you know, in my “spare time”) that applying judgments and qualifiers to children’s creative endeavours, whether positive or negative, causes anxiety in them (the children, that is. The LEGO is fine with it). Another reason for keeping my comments as non-specific as possible is that otherwise I am in for a very frustrated four-year-old, which is even less fun than it sounds. Maybe Joey is a “bad guy,” and therefore maybe the thing that he made with his best friend is a bad robot or something, so therefore praising Joey in this situation is a bad idea. And even if his creation is good, if I start identifying specifics that I’m noticing in order to praise it, it will become clear that I have no idea which one is Joey, and which one is Joey’s “‘vention.” Are you following me so far? Good. Because I am telling you, if she realizes that I can’t read her mind, again, that will lead to an exhibition of her wrath. Because to my four-year-old it is SO obvious who Joey is. Joey is the one with the flargglebarggle. Obviously.

Alarmingly, my daughter is so consumed with me “listening” to her properly (i.e. reading her mind), that she has actually instituted a reward system for me. She explained it thus: “Mommy, those who are the best at listening will have all the star patches! This baby already has two star patches, and Barbie has three star patches, and you can get star patches, too!” Even more alarmingly, I kind of want to earn a “star patch,” whatever that is.

In one sense I am pleased about this approach, because it is much gentler than some of her previous approaches have been. Once, recently, we were out for a walk when it became clear to her that I had no idea what she was talking about. She had asked which of her friends “do not have boys.” I took this to mean “do not have brothers,” and responded accordingly. She was quiet for a second, then gave me a disapproving look, wagged her small finger sternly at me and said, “3…2…1…You’re CANCELLED.” Ouch.* I never did find out what she had actually meant by “not having boys”, but I probably wouldn’t want to know, anyway.

When she is older, S and I will probably laugh about all this, and that will be a fun day. But until then, since I want to refrain from being “cancelled,” I will continue to hone my mind reading/toddler interpretation skills, and hopefully soon I will have some star patches to show for it.


* Since then however, this has become a hilarious way for my friends and me to indicate to each other that we are incorrect. So, silver linings.


Commentary From the Peanut Gallery on Kids’ TV shows

If you read our parenting hacks, or know me at all, you know that I use the television as an emergency babysitter rather frequently. I feel FINE about this because I believe that any parent would be begging to turn on a show if they had to put my baby down for a nap (twice a day!) while three other children banged on her bedroom door. I do try to make sure that my kids watch quality, educational shows, and I am pretty “in tune” with what they are watching. This means that I know a lot about their favourite shows, and I’d like to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you.

– I know this show has been off the air for ages, but the perspective in In the Night Garden is way off, right? The Ninky Nonk is a totally different size from the outside than the inside, and don’t even get me started on the Tombliboos’ hedge-house. On the outside, it’s the size of a small tent. But then when they are inside, the hedge is like their own personal city. I know some of you thinking, “Um, you watch a show with characters called Tombliboos and Makka Pakka and the Pontipines, and you’re complaining about the perspective being off?” Well yes. Yes, I am.

– For a long time, my kids kept asking me to record a show they watched at Grandma’s called “Papa Troll.” They knew we had it on our TV because they saw the END of it that one time. I could NOT find this show, no matter how hard I googled. Finally I asked my mom to show it to me on her TV one day, and there it was: Paw Patrol.

– Dora. I really don’t like that little brat. Stop shouting at me, Dora. Just stop shouting! And don’t get me started on her annoying little sidekick The Map. The lyrics to The Map’s song contains the phrase “I’m the map” FIFTEEN times in 30 seconds. We get it, Map. You’re the map.

– I’m sorry, but can you imagine how much Sid the Science Kid’s preschool must cost? Can you imagine? Four students with one over-qualified teacher, and every single day, the teacher prepares and performs an original song that relates perfectly to the science experiment they just did? That’s some quality education, there.

– How do you think the members of Hi-5 and the Fresh Beat Band feel about their jobs? Because they are talented people, making a decent living (I assume) singing, which is tough to do. Good job! But, I mean, I doubt their biggest dream in life was to be in Hi-5, you know? Is it a career killer? On another note, how should I answer my kids’ frequent question: “Is the Fresh Beat Band real?”

This is a movie from four years ago of my oldest daughter watching her favourite show, which is focused on reading readiness. Now, at six, this cute little toddler really is a Super Reader! See? My research is sound. TV is good for you.

– The original Steve on Blue’s Clues is way better than his replacement, Joe. No offence, though, Joe. Steve would have been a very tough act to follow.

– Zach and Quack wins the “Jac’s Favourite Theme Song” award. Congrats! It sounds just like One Direction, if the One Direction guys were even younger. And I kind of like One Direction, okay? That’s catchy stuff!

– Two things drive me crazy about Bubble Guppies. First, their mouths are sideways. Like, always. You absolutely cannot look at them from the front. But even worse is that they are FISH who live in the SEA, but this fact is completely ignored every episode. As in, they visit a farm. And the grocery store. In the ocean? I’m confused.

– The Daniel Tiger songs may be the key to my parenting style. I bet I could get through a whole day using those songs as my only form of communication with my kids. If you don’t know this show and you have preschoolers, you should check it out—I bet you’ll be singing his little lessons all the time. My favourite thing that happened on this show is in the episode about getting ready in the morning. (“Clothes on, eat breakfast, brush teeth, and on your way!”) Daniel and his dad talk about getting dressed for five full minutes without ever acknowledging that neither of them is wearing pants. The mom wears pants, and some of Daniel’s friends wear pants, but apparently male tigers just don’t need ‘em.

– Have any of you discovered The Upside Down ShowIt is absolutely my favourite kid’s TV show ever. Shane and David are these two weird Australian guys, and they are so flipping hilarious. It is a TRAVESTY that they only got to make thirteen episodes for some reason that I have not really researched. I’d be protesting in anger if I didn’t already have enough hobbies (Like blogging. And watching television, apparently).

So there you have it! These are a few of the thoughts that rattle around in my mind, needing to be shared, while I’m spending quality time on the couch watching television with my children. If your kids are like mine and watch some or all of these shows, you probably have these theme songs stuck in your head right now. And for that, I apologize (unless it’s the Zach and Quack theme—in that case, you’re welcome.) If you don’t recognize any of these shows, your kids probably don’t watch enough TV.  So … you should probably get on that.

Why I Will Teach My Daughter That Some Happily Ever Afters Are Single Ones

Ah yes, good old Barbie and her dream-house, and her dream-life with her dream-man with his well-tailored suit and his great head of hair. What else could a girl want?  Answer: a LOT.

Ah yes, good old Barbie and her dream-house, and her dream-life with her dream-man with his well-tailored suit and his great head of hair. What else could a girl want?
Answer: a LOT.

The other day I played “Barbies” with my little daughter. I call them “Barbies” (with the quotation marks) because the dolls we have are not actual Barbies, rather they are dollar store Barbie-type dolls—you know, the ones that are made of hollow, cheap plastic, and when you shake them you can hear some sort of after-market plastic piece rattling around inside, and their limbs fall off with alarming regularity, and they don’t really bend in any normal, human ways, and if you take out their ponytail you will reveal a surprisingly large bald spot in the middle of their heads, and also they are garishly made-up, and they cost a dollar. So, “Barbies.”

So there I sat, on the floor of her room, wielding an armless, rapidly balding “Barbie” in a poorly made polyester tube-top, some very unflattering jeans, and a pair of mismatched plastic boots. My daughter informed all of us “Barbies,” including my character (whom she christened “Ungyless”), that we were having a party. And then she proceeded to announce which of the characters were “in love” with which other characters, because it was a “girls and boys party,” and “a love party” where all of the girls “had to be in love.” Before she made this little announcement, I had been preparing to share that Ungyless was considering which college she might like to attend, and that she might like a shopping trip to acquire some more professional-looking attire, but this comment threw me. I began to question this premise: “So … what if the girls don’t feel like being in love? Or what if they don’t love somebody? Can they just be friends?”

“No,” announced my daughter, “Because this is a LOVE party. The loot bags are all about love, and everybody has to be in love to be at the party. It’s a love party.”

“Oh …” I said. “Well, when they leave the party, can they stop being in love?”

“No, they have to be in love FOREVER.” She said, matter-of-factly.

Huh. I began to question this more, to the tune of: “You don’t think all girls or boys have to be in love, do you?” I also began to make some very good points (in my opinion) about how not everyone HAS to be in love, and listed some very good friends of ours who are single, successful, wonderful, happy and fulfilled people. Finally she turned to me, exasperated: “Mommy! I have to fix this box right now, AND I have to put this on your head (holds up a small parachute man). I DON’T have time to answer questions.” And with that, she carried on, putting the parachute man on my head as promised, tinkering with a toolbox, dressing some baby dolls, announcing that she had to go to work for “a minute,” and cuddling her babies. I watched this, somewhat proudly, realizing that I had, indeed, successfully shattered at least a few female stereotypes for her. Here she was, confidently bustling around; a mom who could balance tinkering with tools, going to work, and cuddling her babies.

And yet I was troubled. Here was one I had missed—a sneaky one that I think pervades our culture so often without challenge: the idea that girls should, and will eventually, be in love. Ours is a love-obsessed culture—the princesses who are my daughter’s heroes are so often “saved” by the love of handsome, rich princes—there are exceptions to this, of course, but there has always been this oft unspoken, deep-seated idea that a girl isn’t complete without someone to love.

I always catch myself telling my single friends, “You’ll find someone! I just know the right one will come along!” Etc, etc. But the truth is that this isn’t guaranteed to happen, no matter how amazing and beautiful I know my single friends are. I want to be hopeful with them, because I know that the majority of them long for the intimacy and shared experiences, the family, and the romance that coupling can bring. But as a grown-up I know that the world is not perfect, and I do not believe that there is one person, one soulmate, for everyone, no matter how much the little girl in me longs to believe that. And I know that there may not be someone for my perfect, sweet, sparkling little girl, no matter how lovely and worthy of love she is. But whether she finds a someone or not, I long for her to believe the truth that she is complete, whole, enough, all on her own.

But I wonder how much she absorbs this idea that everyone will, or should, attain coupledom—from the oh-so-common promise of a happy, romantic ending in the movies and TV shows she sees, from witnessing my hopeful encouragement to my single friends to “keep on’ keeping on” in their search for the perfect mate, and even in the fact that she knows that I have the love of her dad in my life. I myself am a big fan of love, and I would love to believe that for even the armless and garishly made-up Ungylesses of this world, there is a perfectly suited “someone” out there.

But do real people always find “true love” in the end? No. Does everyone need to be part of a couple to be complete, fulfilled, and happy? Absolutely not. And even for those who find love, will it definitely have a happily-forever-after ending? No. We all know that single adults, whether contentedly single or not, are much more common than happily married princes and princesses in our world.

We kept playing, even though I was lost in thought, and then the “love party” took a weird turn when a “lego ninja” arrived and started shooting holes in the roof. It jolted me out of my somber thoughts, and I laughed. And I looked at her and said, “I love you, S. I’ll always love you. You’re my girl.” She made a goofy face—mouth twisted to the side, one eye closed, still holding up her lego ninja—and said, “I love you too, Mommy.”

In the end, maybe I was reading too much into the thought process (or lack thereof) that went into my four-year-old’s spontaneous “Barbie Love Party.” Probably I was. I also know that this is just the beginning of this conversation, and that raising her will involve many, many more of these conversations. I only hope this: that if one day she does encounter heartache or alone-ness instead of the Prince Charming she perhaps will have expected, that the forever-love of her old Mom for her very loveable self will be enough.

Everything You Need to Know, You Learned When Your Sister Went to Kindergarten

Summer can be long, and I’m very much looking forward to getting back to the routine September will bring. Last year, my oldest was in a half-time Kindergarten program, so she only went to school two or three days a week. E (my second oldest) was in afternoon pre-school, which ran the same days as G’s Kindergarten. “How nice!” I thought to myself as I signed them up, “I’ll only have to worry about driving them anywhere two days a week, and I’ll be able to keep my Littles (the toddler and the born-in-October baby) on their nap schedules the other days!”

Well. Hopeful Jac was so naïve, wasn’t she? By the end of the year, “half-time” Kindergarten was actually “not-nearly-enough” Kindergarten, and my bored and housebound older children were quite literally bouncing off the walls (we had an old, bouncy couch and lenient jumping rules). And then the long Summer break began with an even more full-time wall-bouncing schedule.

Approaching this school year, I am hopeful again. I will have a full-time Grade One kid and a full-time Kindergartener, and I will have just the Littles to parent all day long, five days a week! I think I will actually get to enjoy a quiet time every afternoon!* So I’m excited about sending my darling, lovely Bigs off to school, where they will learn important things from their trustworthy teachers.

But, luckily for me and for E, G has already started sharing many of her Kindergarten lessons with her little sister, including this little gem, overheard from the back of the van. (Note: my daughters have a cousin their age—M, mentioned below—who was adopted from Sierra Leone, an older cousin they adore who is from Ethiopia, and an Uncle-like family friend from Cameroon whom they have known their entire lives, plus they watch Sesame Street, so they take it for granted that people just have different-coloured skin and/or are muppets. We have talked about skin colour before, but I guess some of the terminology didn’t quite stick when it was coming from me.)

G: E, did you know that you’re white?

E: (Looking frantically at her arms) What? Where?

G: No, that’s what your colour is called! White!

E: No.

G: Yes. I learned about that in Kindergarten.

E: Really? I’m white?

G: Yes. And you know M?

E: Yes.

G: She’s black!

E: No she isn’t!

G: Yes, she is.

E: She is dark brown.

G: I KNOW. But I told you, you call her black.

E: Why?

G: I don’t know, but I learned it in Kindergarten. Man, you really need to go to Kindergarten, E, so you can learn that you’re white.

E: I really need to go to Kindergarten. I didn’t even know I was white! I can’t wait for Kindergarten.

So, on second thought, maybe I should just keep them at home? Because apparently G can teach E everything anyway, and maybe they both know more than enough already.

Possible caption: Here are G and E on their first day of school and preschool last year. They look so hopeful and excited ... Also, I was taking these pictures eight months pregnant and holding a one-year-old. Ah, memories. (If you want to see pictures of them on their first day of school THIS year, you better like us on Facebook! That is, if I decide to send them to school at all, of course.)

G and E on their first day of school and preschool last year. They look so hopeful and excited. … Also, I was taking these pictures while I was eight months pregnant and holding a one-year-old. Ah, memories. (If you want to see pictures of them on their first day of school THIS year, you’d better like us on Facebook! That is, if I decide to send them to school at all, of course.)

*Yes, I know this is not going to be true. Shut up.

I … Don’t Want to Cook… I Just Wanna Sit On My Bum All Day.

So, I know we complain about chores a lot here on Twofunmoms (in the name of upholding our promise to offer honesty and solidarity, of course). Chores like doing laundry (featured in THIS post), and putting kids to bed (featured in THIS post), and also, sort of just everything in general (as discussed in THIS post). But I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the worst chore OF ALL TIME. Other chores really don’t have the power to paralyze me and strike fear into my heart, but this one does. Give me a toilet brush, I will happily clean a toilet. Give me a show to watch and a pile of laundry, and sure, I will fold a solid quarter of that laundry basket while I watch that show (following Jac’s laundry rules, of course). Dishes? No problem. Dusting? Well, that is a moot point, because what parent of small children actually dusts? So, next. Pots? Please. Pots don’t scare me. Give me some nice smelling dish soap and some good background music and I will sing along to that music while cleaning the heck out of those pots.

But the chore that terrifies me the most, the chore I cannot enjoy (no matter how singable the background music), is making dinner. It is dinner-preparing time at this very moment, and yet I am avoiding it by writing this post. And so, by admitting this, I hope I’ve got my point across.

I know that there are people who, God bless ’em, do not have this problem with dinner-making. “Oh, I just throw together whatever I have in the fridge!” they’ll say to me, or, “Oh, I just portion out and freeze all of my meals on the weekends, so they’re ready to heat up throughout the week!” But I also know that there are people out there who know exactly what I am talking about. If we were together as we listened to those others talk about their easy, thrown-together, pre-portioned meals, our eyes would meet, perhaps over our take-out menus. And then we would nod knowingly while a single tear rolls down our cheeks, because we both understand that making dinner is the worst.

I should clarify. It’s not the actual preparing of the meal that I abhor; it is the planning. I am capable of the chopping and sautéing, the preheating and reheating: all that, I can do. It is the DECIDING what to make for dinner that I loathe. The needing to know way before dinner time what I’m going to make, and the having to possess all of the ingredients so I can actually make the thing, and then the hoping that my family will actually eat the meal. That.

“But it’s easy! You just need a meal planning system! Here, you can borrow mine!” Those meal-mastering-marvels will say, as they pass me an extremely organized and colour-coded meal-planning system, which I will take one look at, see the word “Quinoa” (or something to that effect), and look back at my kindred-spirited friend for another wide-eyed look and another single tear. Because don’t you understand that I only know how to make six things (with confidence), and one of those things is called “heating frozen chicken nuggets”? Also, none of them involve Quinoa.

I should say, in case you are one of the very organized and incredible people about whom I am complaining—please, don’t be offended. It’s not that I am contemptuous of your creative culinary abilities—on the contrary: I both fear and respect you, especially those of you who are able to accomplish this while also being the parents of small children. We all have our gifts—yours is creative meal planning, mine is writing hilarious blog posts. The only problem with this is that eventually my family will get hungry, and they can’t eat this blog post, hilarious though it may be.

At this point you might be thinking, “Juli! If you hate it so much, just get your husband to do it!” That would be great, except he’s even worse at it than I am. If we wanted to alternate between waffles, omelettes, and hot-dog burritos for dinner, he’d be the one in charge, but since I do care about my family getting at least a marginal amount of varied, nutritive items, I guess I’ll continue to execute the dinners in our household. I have tried to suggest to my husband, while keeping it light and casual, that it “might be fun” if he took some cooking classes (OR some massage classes, for that matter), but he’s not buying it. He’s a genius, really. He knows if he keeps his skill-level slightly below mine that the task will fall to me. And so it does, most nights. So it does.

And so here I sit, in front of a large pile of frozen chicken nuggets that I have unceremoniously “prepared” by opening a bag from the freezer and dumping them out. Perhaps tomorrow will be the day that I learn to make Quinoa. And … perhaps not.

In case you thought I was joking about the large pile of chicken nuggets in front of me.

In case you thought I was joking.

To The Women Who Wear Bikinis In Front of My Daughters

We swim a lot in my family. My parents have a pool that we spend a lot of summer-fun time in, and we love day trips to lakes, ponds, rivers, and the ocean. We often meet friends and family members at these locations, and this means seeing a lot of people in a lot of different bathing suits. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the last several years of fashion has seen a rise in the social acceptability of two-piece swimsuits for all body types. This means that often the female friends and family members we meet, as well as many of the strangers next to us at the beach, are wearing bikinis. To all of these women, I have something to say: thank you!

I personally don’t wear bikinis. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s because I lack confidence, rather that I’m confident about being more comfortable without my belly exposed, and feel like there are more flattering options for me. But some days it’s all I can do to put on a simple one piece with a pair of shorts over it and just get in the water. I don’t ever want my kids to see me avoid participating in something because I’m worried about how I look, but I also want to feel comfortable and relaxed, which I find difficult in any kind of bathing suit. This fact is truer now than it’s ever been after having four kids in less than six years.

But even if I wear a muumuu to the pool, my children are going to be exposed to many, many scantily clad women in their young lives. Every grocery store aisle is full of magazines with photo-shopped and professionally groomed models and celebrities, and I can’t guard what they see on television one hundred percent of the time for the rest of their lives. So they will see women in bikinis (or less!) and they will at some point compare their own beautiful bodies to those of other people.

The way I see it, there are two very important differences between the women on the magazines covers and the women who join us at Grandma’s pool, even though both groups of women may be wearing exactly the same thing.

First, my bikini-clad friends do not look fake. You can’t Photoshop reality, and no one I know has a completely flawless body. In my experience, the women at the beach have not had plastic surgery, botox, or even fake tans, and they usually don’t spend hours a day in the gym, and therefore they look very different than most women on TV. Some of my female friends are fit and thin and muscled, some are softer and curvy, some have tan lines all over the place, some are frightfully pale, some possess that so-called “thigh gap,” some have more tummy rolls than they probably like, but all of them are very REAL.

Secondly, my friends are participating. They show up at the beach or the pool in their skimpy suits, and then they get in the water. Where models pose, still and airbrushed, dry hair artfully placed around them, my friends are playing and talking and tanning and changing diapers and reading and racing and cannon-balling and eating chips and kayaking. I want my kids to have many female role models so they can see for themselves that being a woman may mean many things, but it should not mean trying to look a certain way in order to please other people. Some women, like me, will show them this by wearing a t-shirt and board shorts into the water because that’s how we’re most comfortable, but I need other women in their lives to show them that it’s okay to be comfortable in a bikini, too.

My daughter paddleboarding with her wonderful, bikini-clad, Auntie K.

My daughter paddleboarding with her wonderful, bikini-clad, Auntie K.

As a parent, I do feel the weight of responsibility to teach my daughters modesty and safety and to dress appropriately wherever they are. It is up to me (and my husband, even if he does prefer to stay out of this one) to decide if and when our daughters are old enough to choose their own bathing suits, what those suits should look like, and to teach them that certain items of clothing may be fine for the beach but are not appropriate to wear other places.

But my daughters are going to be told by the world around them that they need to look a certain way and dress a certain way, regardless of what I say to them or allow them to wear when they are young. I’m so grateful that their exposure to bikini-clad women and the “normal” female body is not only going to come from Sports Illustrated or pop-up ads on the computer. It may not be me who will show them what a “real” woman looks like when she wears a two-piece bathing suit in public, but I’m grateful to all my friends who will.

So to all my friends and family members—the moms, aunties, grandmas, cousins, single ladies, babysitters—who wear bikinis in front of my daughters, and to the ones who don’t, thank you for being comfortable in whatever you’re wearing and for showing my girls that confident, bathing-suit-wearing women come in all shapes and sizes.

Counting on the Ferry

Recently my family and I took a trip to the gulf islands of British Columbia on a Ferry. If you’re not familiar with this service, I can sum it up for you in three words: Expensive, Long Waits. Ironically, I used to find ferries delightful; I could walk on (thus avoiding the crazy cost of taking a car onto the ferry) with all of my stuff in a single backpack, find a cozy spot by a window and read a book or flip through a magazine for the whole trip, and before I knew it, we’d reached our destination. But one does not simply walk on to a ferry with children and all of their gear. As we are all well aware, with little ones, it is much more complicated than that.

My children LOVE the ferry. Fun fact: while We were taking this picture of A, S was busy running off to the other end of the ship, without our knowledge.

My children LOVE the ferry. Fun fact: while we were taking this picture of A, S was busy running off to the other end of the ship, without our knowledge.

This trip, I found myself thinking about numbers, thanks to the exorbitant cost of our ferry trip and the un-enjoyable task of ferry travel with two very-full-of-beans children. I was thinking that, in a perfect world, somebody would be paying me for this. And I found myself counting all of the ridiculous and unpleasant experiences aboard the “Queen of Oak Bay” on that fateful afternoon, thanks in large part to my two very-full-of-beans children. And, thinking that maybe some of you could relate to this unpleasantness, I thought I’d share them!

And so, without further ado, here are some of my ferry-trip numbers:

– Number of hours overall spent on the ferry: 4
– Number of times my travel coffee mug was knocked over and spilled by children clamouring on or around me: 4
– Number of times I literally said: “Don’t put your mouth on that!”: 6
– Number of frantic bathroom trips: 5
– Number of times I lost sight of one or both of my children: 8
– Number of times I yelled my children’s names: A billion. So many that I thought to myself, I am RUINING these names for the people around me. They will not want to name their children these names because “Remember when that lady on the ferry was yelling that name SO many times, that it became traumatic for us? Yeah, let’s never use that name.”
– Number of trips to the car and back: 2.5
– Number of times S talked to strangers: 9 (at the very least, since those were just the times I was able to witness).
– Number of agonizing minutes in the hot, too-small children’s play area: 48
– Number of times I had to hear another mother use a loud profanity in front of my children: 1 (but that was enough times, as it turned out).
– Number of times my children asked me to buy them something from the gift shop: I’m guessing in the hundreds. This was too difficult to keep track of, so we’ll go with that.
– Number of times my children asked me to buy them something from the cafeteria: 0 (Because I avoided the cafeteria like the plague. Ferry trip tip!)
– Number of times I wished I were at home, where the insanity is contained: Approximately 1000.
– Number of times strangers looked at me with sympathy as they sat quietly and read their books: I want to say 12, but I’m sure it was more than that, considering the large groups that all looked at the same time, and those who were doing it behind my back. I would really have benefitted from a good Solidarity Pound It, but I guess those ferry strangers don’t read our blog.
– Number of shows I put on the iPad so I could sit “quietly” with my own book: 3
– Number of times I was expected to laugh at the same joke about the “Tooth Ferry”: 14
– And finally, the number of complaints I received about things beyond my control: About a hundred, give or take. Examples of this were: “My clothes are too hot!” “The wind is too cold!” “I’m thirsty, but NOT for water!”

So there you have it! The great thing about all of this counting is that it took my mind off the length of the trip, and the fact that half of my coffee ended up all over the floor. Got to count those blessings, too!


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