Monthly Archives: November 2014

My Selfish Grown-Up Christmas List

Well, I did it! I told myself I would be completely finished my Christmas shopping by the end of November this year, and I’ve almost started!

The truth is: life is hard enough without adding Christmas shopping to the mix. I realize that there are two types of people in this world; the type who are finished their Christmas shopping in August, and can spend the Christmas season drinking hot buttered rum and laughing at the rest of us, those poor souls out in the snow, looking for Christmas gifts on Dec. 24th, or waiting fruitlessly for the gifts that we only just ordered the week before Christmas to arrive in the mail in time.

I love Christmas, I do, but I really hate shopping in any form, and time-pressure shopping in stores full of other frantic, last-minute shoppers really sucks the Christmas spirit right out of me, like hot chocolate being sucked right out of the couch cushion by the child who spilled it there. And speaking of kids, have you ever tried to shop for them when they are with you? Because if you have ever tried to, say by sneaking their presents into the shopping cart without them noticing, you will already know that this is a bad idea. Firstly, your children are highly attuned “Christmas Present Detectives” who will stop at nothing to determine when they are getting presents and what those presents might be, and WHY you have hidden presents in the cart and WHO those presents might be for and HOW they can get their hands on those presents as soon as possible, please mom? Mommy? Mama? Mom? Mommommommommom mama? MAMA? MA??? And secondly, because then you might end up making some quick and terrible decisions so you can get the heck out of the store with at least one thing for them, like buying your children the game Twister (see why this is a terrible decision by clicking here).

But perhaps the worst thing of all for me, speaking of Christmas shopping, is trying to determine what I, myself, might like for Christmas, so that I can generate a list of potential items for the poor sucker who had the misfortune of drawing my name in the family “Secret Santa” draw. I always try to think of a list for myself, but it is always very difficult, perhaps because I am a mother and am so used to only keeping track of the needs of my small people, but also probably because I am getting so very particular at this fine old age I have reached. For example, I really need a pair of slippers. Even as I type this, my feet are freezing cold and I hate having cold feet, but I also kind of hate socks, and how you have to find a pair and make sure they are clean. I like how slippers just sit there by the door, ready for use, not needing to be washed like socks do. They are just always filthy and ready for action, and I like that.

However, with my larger-than-average lady feet, the slippers that are gifted to me are usually too small, or don’t fit right, or don’t have the support that I need, so I kind of just need to go shopping for slippers myself. But slippers would be the perfect, affordable, gifty-type thing to put on a Christmas list, wouldn’t they? Yes. Yes they would. So I usually put them on the list, and then come Christmas morning I get to make some lovely, well-meaning family member feel terrible that the slippers they kindly bought me for Christmas are too small, despite the fact that they bought size “Very Large.”

So because I am terrible at thinking of things, here is what my typical Christmas list usually looks like (to the great annoyance of my family):

1) Hugs!
2) Slippers?
3) A scarf, maybe?
4) Chocolate?
5) Wine?
6) Gift cards that I will put in my wallet and forget I have.
7) An expensive dream gift that is not within the budget, I just wanted you to know that I want it.
8) Really, you don’t have to get me anything. I’m sorry.

See? Aren’t I the most annoying? Now you can understand why my family hates me! (Just kidding … I hope.)

Here's a good example of a pair of slippers that I would not like to own. Obviously I am sensitive enough about my feet already.

Here’s a good example of a pair of slippers that I would NOT like to own. Obviously I am sensitive enough about my feet already.

But if I were to make a very honest Christmas list, for what I truly want this Christmas … and I’m talking a Christmas DREAM list … it just might go something like this:

1) Some guilt-free peace and quiet.
2) For my children to stop peeing on the floor, or the carpet, or the couch, or on ANY surface or receptacle that is not the toilet itself (and the inside of it, specifically), because I’m getting a little tired of this. Just a tad.
3) Hawaii. All of it. Clear out the islands for just me, please, and ready the Mai Tais. Okay … I guess my husband can come too.
4) Something that you saw that made you think of me, that I really secretly also wanted but never said out loud, but that you knew I would like because you know me SO well. Thanks Santa!
5) That perfect scarf that I saw one time a few years ago that I wish I had just bought for myself. Alternatively, please just invent a time machine so you can go back in time and convince me to buy that scarf.
6) The perfect pair of slippers, for a generous-footed gal like myself who appreciates slippers that stay on and have a back, and also have just the perfect amount of support, but aren’t too stiff. You know, just read my mind. Thanks again, Santy!
7) For nobody to be embarrassed at Christmas because the slippers they bought for me are too small. Now, buying slippers that are embarrassingly too LARGE is fine. That would be a refreshing change, actually.
8) All the stuff that I need, but I forget about until the moment I need it. That stuff.
9) Hugs.
10) For you to just do all of my Christmas shopping for me.

I also want my kids to get along, and be adorable and hug each other, but not as much as I want that other stuff.

I also want my kids to get along, and be adorable and hug each other and stuff. But if they are just getting along, I’ll take it.

Obviously I won’t be expecting any of that stuff under the tree this Christmas. And I will still enjoy Christmas, because when all is said and done, I love the part where I get to see the faces of the family members when they open the gifts that I hated buying. I know it’s cliché to say, but it makes it all worth it. I also can’t wait to see my husband’s face when I open that coupon book he made me, full of coupons for guilt-free peace and quiet. Okay, I made it for him to give to me, but I think I forged his signature well enough that he will likely never know. And don’t worry, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read the blog, so it’s all good.

A Lazy Parent’s Guide to Staying in Bed on Saturday Morning

It’s Saturday morning, and you are asleep. Suddenly, you hear it: the pitter-patter of little feet coming down the hallway toward your room. Your eyes dart hopefully to the clock—maybe it is still 4am and you can give this child a hug or a glass of water or a blanket-straighten, and then you can go back to bed. But no. It’s 7:05. This is a perfectly reasonable time for this child to be out of bed, expecting to be entertained or fed or cuddled. But you are not ready for this. You stayed up too late binge-watching Orange is the New Black—it was Friday night, after all! So, now what? Do you have to get up and get going? And if you do, will you ever be able to sleep in again?*

Have no fear! I have discovered several short-term solutions to our mutual problem! Here are my best stalling tactics to gain extra time in bed while staving off the grumpy impatience of my children.

Keep books by the bed. This sounds simple, and it is. But it does take prep work! I have often mumbled, “Want to look at books on the floor beside me?” only to discover that Daddy cleaned up all the books so there is no longer a messy pile of them on the floor. Darn you, Daddy! Because if I have to get up to fetch some books, I might as well just stay up.

Give them a journal and a pen. I mentioned once before that I keep a journal of letters and stories for my kids that I intend to let them read someday. Well, I’ve gotten worse at keeping it since I started the blog, but it is still there on my bedside table. If I let my child write or draw or scribble (depending on their age and pen-use abilities), I can stay in bed while they do so. And then, when they are done, I just write their name and the date on that page and it becomes part of the journal. See, I’m not lazy. I’m recording memories.

Play “I Spy.” When I was a kid, I used to climb into bed with my parents almost every Sunday morning, and my dad would play I Spy with me (and my brother until he outgrew this tradition). Well, every single time, without fail, the first thing my dad would “spy” would be something on me. My pajamas, my hair elastic, my eye colour, my socks. And every week, without fail, I would forget that he did this. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Eventually my mom would have to cheat and give me subtle clues, such as pointing at her own clothes, or mouthing, “your pajamas.” It was ridiculously frustrating for me, and pretty amusing, I think, for my dad. I used to think my parents just really enjoyed playing I Spy, but now that I’m an adult I wonder how much of the game my dad played with his eyes closed. Sneaky.

Play “I Gotcha Trapped.” This is a relatively simple game. Basically, you hold onto your child, or partly lie on top of her, or gently put your arm over her torso—depending on the age and strength of your child. Then you say, over and over and over, “I gotcha trapped, I gotcha trapped, I know you can’t get loose. I gotcha trapped, I gotcha trapped, I know you can’t get loose.” And the child tries to wriggle free. I like this game because the kid is expending a lot of energy but the parent is just lying there, mumbling. When the kid gets free, you change the end of the mumble-line: “I gotcha trapped, I gotcha trapped, How did you get loose?” NOTE: Obviously you have to pay attention to whether your child is getting angry and claustrophobic about not getting loose and be prepared to weaken your hold. This is supposed to be fun, not scary.

Play Hide and Seek in the blankets. Obviously, this only works when your kids are very young and you are very desperate. So, in my case, often.

It is my hope that these simple tools will allow you other lazy parents to procrastinate, along with me, every weekend morning, so you can maybe catch a little more shut-eye to prepare you for your busy day ahead. Your children will thank you! Actually, no, they won’t. They will whine for breakfast and ask you to turn on the television. But maybe they will thank you much later, when they are parenting their own children and writing their own blogs and remembering the games you used to play with them, even before you got out of bed in the morning. It is also then that they will realize your games were just stalling tactics, but they will forgive you because they remember having so much fun anyway.

They look pretty comfy cozy, don't they? You'll notice something absent from this scene, however: sleeping parents.

They look pretty comfy cozy, don’t they? You’ll notice something absent from this scene, however: sleeping parents.

*And by “sleep in” I mean anything later than 7:30am, of course. Because I’m a parent of preschoolers, and that is how we do.

Rest?

Jac here. I’m the copy editor of Comment Magazine (a publication of Cardus, a Christian think tank dedicated to the renewal of social architecture). Comment publishes an online article every week, and this week’s is a Symposium of several writers answering the same question, and I’m one of those writers!

The question: “What home page does rest look like for you this summer?” If you’re interested, click here for my answer.

(Spoiler: my answer was NOT “Rest? What’s that?” even though it COULD have been.)

Confessions of a Bully

Recently I watched a show about a teen who went on a shooting rampage in his high school in the early ’90s, killing two fellow teens and injuring thirteen. I was very ready to be indignant and angry towards this obviously evil perpetrator, and then I saw his face. He looked like a small, scared teenager, and even worse, he looked a lot like my own, sweet son. And I soon found myself holding a pillow to my chest and crying alongside the teen’s dad, who was interviewed for the program, who wept as he spoke about how, growing up, his son was a happy, funny, well-adjusted kid. With tears in his eyes he talked about how he still loved him while being devastated by the awful choice he had made. It terrified me a bit, but I saw myself in that dad. And it got me thinking about two of my worst fears as a parent—fears I am fairly sure are universal: that my child will be bullied, and, even worse, that my child will be a bully. This boy, though there is of course no excuse for what he did, was bullied and beaten up mercilessly by his classmates at the school, and this was compounded by the fact that his mother had abandoned him at an early age. To me, this seems like the only environment in which a terrible, evil choice could possibly be contorted in one’s mind into seeming like the “right” (or only) thing to do. They interviewed the teen, now a man in his thirties, who spoke about his deep regret for the lives he took and the people he hurt. He had many regrets, actually, among which was this one, which really stood out to me: “I only wish I had been able to talk to someone, tell them what was happening to me, and get help, before I did what I did.”

Bullying, and its horrific consequences (whether they are hidden or very, very obvious), is an absolute epidemic. Not a recent one, of course, but it is one that has evolved and become compounded by many things, including the introduction and rapid growth of the internet, and the widespread use and availability of electronic devices. Bullying is so convenient now—it can be done online, over the phone, through tweets and Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, email, and whatever else the kids these days are using. Sitting at home alone in our jammies makes us (and the flesh-and-blood targets of our written assassinations) much more anonymous, thus we feel much more free to explore and unleash the worst side of ourselves, the bully side.

I think that one of the biggest reasons that bullying is continuing to thrive the way it does, despite all of the great anti-bullying platforms and programs and conversations that are happening, is because we, all of us, tend to distance ourselves from it so much. We decry the bullies—bullying is a bad word, but no one ever actually thinks of herself as a bully—the bullies are those bad guys out there, like the ones in our children’s TV shows who delight in being evil, right down to their perfectly evil laughs. I don’t really think there are many people who take delight in doing mean or evil things unless they have concocted what they have determined to be a “good reason” for it. Some examples of this include: “Well she deserved it, because she did THIS to ME!” or “It was just a JOKE! Don’t be so sensitive!” As a therapist who has worked with people of all ages, I have seen firsthand the lifelong devastation being bullied (or bullying others) can cause, and how even something that seems minor to the perpetrator can have lasting effects on the victim. There is no excuse that could ever possibly make it worth doing.

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The hard truth is this: we are ALL capable of being bullies, and, as humans, we have all been a bully at one time or another in our lives. A “bully,” according to the dictionary definition, is someone who acts “to frighten, hurt or threaten (a smaller or weaker person).” “Bullying” is “to treat abusively.” Maybe that happened when you were mean to your little brother when you were a kid, or when you angrily tailgated and then cut off that little old lady because she was driving so SLOOOWLY and you were trying to get to a Yoga class. Or it was when you were gossiping in a group and rolling your eyes about somebody else. Or when you laughed at your child with your adult friends because he said something that was (adorably) ridiculous. Of course these actions may not have been intended to be abusive, but they were, because they were acted upon those who were either singled out or were weaker and more vulnerable. And that’s called bullying, my friends.

But I could sit here and say that everyone else is a bully until I’m blue in the face, but it won’t change anything. It’s when I sit here and call myself a bully that I might get somewhere. Because it is my firm belief that we CANNOT stop bullying by sitting on our high horses and convincing ourselves that bullying is a problem somewhere “out there,” way down in the States, or in that neighbour’s house, or in that city in Alberta, or only in high schools, or wherever else we need it to be so it can not be recognized in our homes and even in ourselves. Because real humans, unlike the villains and heroes in Disney movies, are much more complex than just being “all evil” or “all good.” We wrestle with decisions, between the white and the black and in all the gray areas of life, and we are involved in both loving each other AND hurting each other on a regular basis. But the reality is that separating ourselves inorganically from our failings by pretending they’re not there, and distancing ourselves from the truth of them, will only make our children learn to do the exact same thing. And so, it seems, the bully stops here. With me. With you. With each one of us grownups trying to make a better world for our kids.

And so, speaking for only myself, I want to say out loud that while I have done many things that I am proud of, I have also engaged in things that I am embarrassed and ashamed of, and I have hurt other people in the process. I have, indeed, been a bully. I was the one who was mean to my little brother when we were kids. I was the one who angrily cut off that little old woman on my way (ironically) to “zen-out” at Yoga class. I have gossiped and rolled my eyes and singled-out others. I have laughed at my children in front of them. That was me, that whole time. And I am ashamed and embarrassed of it.

I also engaged in some bullying when I was a teen. I was bullied myself, and so I should have known better, but it didn’t stop me from laughing along with my friends behind the back of a very nice girl who just wanted to hang out with us. Those who are bullied are more likely to turn around and bully others, but it’s a vicious cycle that, it seems to me, will never end unless someone takes the hit and says they are sorry, turns the other cheek, and doesn’t use the way they have been treated as an excuse or a lesson to treat others that way. It starts with us—it starts with the adults. And today, it starts with me.

And so I want to say that I am sorry. Sorry to my little brothers for being a mean ol’ big bully of a sister sometimes. Sorry to that little lady in her car—you driving slower than me or me being in a hurry is no excuse for me to be dangerous or unkind, so if you happen to be reading this, please know, I’m sorry. I’m sorry to those I have gossiped about or rolled my eyes at (including, but not limited to, my husband). To A.P., the girl in high school whose only crime was trying to be friends with me and my friends, I’m so sorry that I laughed along with them at you. I wish I’d had the courage and strength to stand up and walk away from it, or to defend you. I hope that, wherever you are in your life, you are doing well, and are not currently affected at all by that moment, many years ago, when you had the misfortune of being hurt by my fourteen-year-old stupidity.

And, finally, I’m sorry to my dear, sweet children who, in my insecurities about how their words or behaviour might reflect on me, I have laughed at and embarrassed. I was bigger, you were smaller. And I knew better.

It is my hope that, in my home at least, the bully stops here. I hope I will continue to apologize where I need to apologize, when I trip over my own humanity again, and that my kids will see that and feel free to do the same. In our culture, apologies are really not as free-flowing as they need to be. There is the belief out there that if we apologize we are “weak” or admitting guilt, and so NOT apologizing becomes a power play instead of just a damned decent thing to do. The Canadian government even passed a by-law a few years ago declaring that an apology could not be considered an admission of guilt, by legal standards. It’s about time, I think, because we need to apologize more, for lots of reasons: things we do, things we didn’t mean to do but did, and just because people are hurt, and we’re sorry about that.

Imagine if the bully stopped here, with each of us, as parents, as grandparents, as aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbours, humans. Imagine if the kids in our lives observed apologies flowing, empathy rising, open communication about bullying and all of our part in it? It might be more uncomfortable to have it in here than out there, but won’t it make a much bigger difference toward stopping it? Imagine we stopped needing to make other people feel small so that we could feel big? Imagine we treated everyone else as though they were just as important as us, and our families? That would be world-changing stuff, that right there. And maybe, just maybe, if my son or daughter ever feels the impacts of bullying, either on the giving or the receiving end of it, they will live in an atmosphere where they feel comfortable enough to come talk to me about it. Whether the impacts of bullying are devastating on the inside of a person, or on the outside—like in a school shooting—they are devastating, and it has to stop.

And the bully stops here.

 

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Who are you anyway, and what’s up with the sort-of anonymity?

Well, it’s almost our six month blogiversary, and we decided that it’s high time to answer a question that almost none of you have asked. That question is: What’s up with the no last names thing and using the kids’ initials? Who are you and why can’t we know EVERYTHING about you? Well, here’s the deal.

We are Jacqueline and Juliana, and those are our real names. We are new at this blogging thing, and we are trying to create a space that is honest and relatable and funny, and we are even willing to occasionally make ourselves emotionally vulnerable, but we are at the same time wanting to do what’s best for our families and our careers.

I (Jac) want to be a writer/editor, and I am happy to get my name “out there,” but I am aware of the fact that the internet is forever, and google is smart. I don’t want one of my daughters to be applying for a job and to have a post about how she was tough to potty train come up in a quick search of her name. So whenever I write something online that requires a last name (like this, or this), I’m using my maiden name. And the kids’ names are not a secret or anything, so if we let them slip a few times, that’s okay. I rather like their names, actually; I picked them out, even. But it’s about decreasing google-ability so my stories don’t have to become their stories quite so easily.

Juli has all these same reasons as well, only also: did you know she’s a therapist? Like a REAL one. And she doesn’t want her clients to judge her therapist capabilities based on her ability (or lack thereof) to be a perfect parent, so keeping her hobby and her career somewhat separate is just kind of a wise idea. Even though she does readily admit to her clients and friends that she is not perfect, of course, and regularly jokes that others should “do as I say, not as I do.” Also, I don’t think people will judge her counselling skills because she’s not a very good COOK. Anyway, sometimes it’s impossible for her to turn her expertise and experience OFF when she’s blogging, as it is an integral part of who she is, and sometimes it makes its way into her posts, as you will see in her next (rather wonderful) post about bullying.

These are not our real faces, though. Really, we are MUCH prettier, with smoother hair and clearer complexions and straighter whiter teeth. We photoshopped ourselves so we'd be more anonymous and relatable.

These are not our real faces, though. Really, we are MUCH prettier, with smoother hair and clearer complexions and straighter whiter teeth. We photoshopped ourselves so we’d be more anonymous and relatable.

Some of you reading this are probably thinking, “They are ridiculous. They are still posting pictures of their children, and telling us what cities they live in, and making their whole lives public!” Others of you are saying, “They are ridiculous. For pete’s sake, it’s 2014. EVERYONE is online now; it’s just the way it is! Being so cautious is completely unnecessary.”

Well, you could be right, either one of you. We are just bumbling along here, figuring out the interweb as we go, and having a great ol’ time.

My Kid Made Me Say It … Part Two!

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A few weeks ago we posted a list of “My Kid Made Me Say Its”—phrases that we can’t believe came out of our mouths in the chaotic midst of dealing with our kiddos. We loved the way that you all responded in the comments with your own HI-larious “My Kid Made Me Say Its”—so much so that we thought we’d do another one, in hopes that you will continue to comment with your own great contributions, and that we might be able to choose our favourites from all of those lists and compile a “My Kid Made Me Say It: Fan Edition”!

So comment away—your contribution may make it on the blog, and then you’ll basically be famous!

Another reason that we are posting this is because our kids keep making us say this stuff—and it is too hilarious and ridiculous not to share!

Please enjoy:

“You can’t eat that muffin without pants!”

“It’s a hair in your mouth, not the end of the world.”

“Please, no penises at the dinner table.”

“Yes, she’s sucking on my toe. Don’t worry, it’s pretty clean.”

“It’s your sister’s turn to be on the beanbag—please don’t sit on her face!”

“Okay—let’s have NO bum monsters tonight, please!”

“What are they doing in there? Are they playing in the toilet?”

“You’re not a puppy today. You’re a kid today.”

“Guys! Stop touching each others’ bums!”

“Nope! We don’t eat things out of the garbage can!”

“You’re a big girl now; you’re not scared of toilets anymore.”

“Stay in the bathroom to wipe your bum!!!”

“Just because something is in front of your mouth doesn’t mean you should LICK it!”

“Stop growling at everyone!”

“Stop fighting, guys. One of you can massage my hands, while the other massages my feet. You’re welcome.”

“Please don’t sit with your naked bum on Mommy’s book from Grandma!”

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If you share, we like!

The Pros and Cons of a Chalkboard Wall

By Jac

When we moved into our new house, I decided to paint a chalkboard wall in the playroom. Here’s my opinion of how that decision worked out, six months later.

Pro: It is something that entertains the kids but takes up almost no space. You basically only need a little container of chalk, some kind of eraser, and, you know, a wall. It’s good for the clutter problem that all the other kid things seem to cause.

Pro: This is related to the previous point, but it helps reduce the craft crap. My kids can draw and colour and explore their creativity, but there is no expectation for me to “keep” their work. It’s better for the environment than using paper after paper after paper, but much better for ME, too.

Pro: These days, you can get chalkboard paint in any colour. That means that when my kids stop using the wall as a chalkboard, we can wipe it off with a wet cloth and it is instantly just a regular wall. There will be no embarrassing evidence of my ridiculous failed optimism (“I thought they’d use it! But it was a huge waste!”) because it’s not “blackboard black” or worse, that green colour from my elementary school memories. It’s actually “Amazon Soil,” which is kind of a cross between chocolate brown and a delightful plum.

Pro: Look! They love it.

Chalkboard Wall Girls

Chalkboard Wall lessons

In this picture, you can see my oldest daughter teaching her little sister and their friend how to read. Great, right? (You can ALSO see why they chose that particular activity: it was too messy in there to do anything else. Don’t feel bad for them, though. Who do you think made that mess?)

Possible Con: Before I got the chalkboard wall, several people warned me that I would hate all the dust it caused. Well, for a variety of reasons, I have not found this to be the case for us. I do want to mention it, though, because if it was in a room with carpet, or if it was in a room that was regularly used by adults, or if I had the personality type to hate chalk dust getting on my kids’ clothes, I can see how this issue would be a deal-breaker. But for us, I find it’s not difficult to sweep up once in a while and it’s also not difficult to ignore for long periods of time. So this possible con hasn’t been an issue for us, though it could easily be for others!

Con: Chalk is not a food. My big kids have difficulty remembering to put the chalk away, so inevitably the baby finds it on the ground and sucks on it. Anyone with a baby is familiar the question, “What are you chewing on now?” The answer in my house is almost always: “chalk.”

Con: It seems that, “Yes, you can draw on the wall, but only THAT wall, and only with chalk” is a bit too confusing for my toddler.

In case it’s difficult to see, I’ll just tell you that every single one of these pictures is a DIFFERENT place in the house where she has drawn on the walls, my magazine, the countertop, or her sister. Also, she has used crayon, pen, pencil, marker and chalk, because she likes to experiment with different mediums.

Chalkboard Wall Consequences

walls

I should also add that this isn’t even close to all the places where she’s done this.

In the end, despite all of the cons, we have decided that we definitely like the chalkboard wall, and we are learning to live with the crayon on all the rest of the walls. And, slowly but surely, we are teaching R that she may draw “only on paper!” and not on walls or magazines or sisters. Although, I may have some trouble convincing her not to draw on ALL the papers … I’ve had to write a note on G’s homework several times already, and there have been a few close calls with some important documents that I left lying around for too long (like, five minutes). Oh well. It’s the price I’m willing to pay for my cool Amazon Soil chalkboard wall, and she’ll grow out of it, right? RIGHT?

5 Helpful Suggestions for Dealing with Your Children’s Craft Crap

We parents have a common problem, and I think it’s time to address it. Our kids all go to their respective schools or preschools or daycares or grandparents’ houses, and they make crafts and pictures and dough balls and glittery-gluey-popsicle sticks, or just plain paper cut up into a million tiny jagged pieces. Then they bring these things home, into OUR homes, and we are expected to love these items and cherish them as much as our children do. These are their CREATIONS, and they are just SO very proud of them and eager to show them off to us, which is very sweet and adorable until we actually have to figure out where the bleepidy-bleep in our already craft-saturated homes we are supposed to put them. I’ve got to admit, it’s hard to love and cherish a construction-paper ladybug that was mostly made by the teacher, except for a single, thick, wet blob of red paint on its wing, which was my child’s contribution.

If you ever watched Ducktales, back in the nineties, you will remember Scrooge McDuck, a very wealthy and cantankerous old quack* with a giant vault full of gold coins that he would swim around in. Well, if I had kept all of my children’s crappy craft creations over the years, I’m quite sure I would now have enough to fill a Scrooge McDuck-sized vault, and could easily swim around in them until I was simply covered in glitter and paper cuts. But we would not be able to truly enjoy our children’s artwork if it was just laying, crumpled up in a giant vault, would we? Besides, we need our Scrooge McDuck vaults for the MONEY that we all have just lyin’ around. And speaking of wastefulness, how many more trees must we kill, make into paper, and allow our children to scribble crazily on with a single brown felt pen, making a precious artwork that we will then be forced to agonize over whether or not to keep? We have to stop the madness, people!

This is Jac's kids' crafty-crap pile, courtesy of Jac. This is what she has to say about it, and I quote: "My strategy is to collect it all in the "art bucket" and then we will sort it "later""

This is Jac’s kids’ crafty-crap pile, picture provided courtesy of Jac. This is what she had to say about it, and I quote:
“My strategy is to collect it all in the ‘art bucket’ and then we will sort it ‘later.'”

But seriously, we all know that this will never stop, because our children are too cute and we are too soft when it comes to the adorable things they “make,” and getting them craft supplies is way better than getting them more toys, and so we will ask for those for them for Christmas and their Birthdays (that and clothes, if Nana and Papa are reading this. Sizes 5 and 7).

And so, I have come up with several helpful solutions to this problem, that I will present to you now. My hope is that these might help reduce YOUR Scrooge McDuck’s vault-sized stack, if you have one, and increase your sanity. It is also my hope that I will begin to follow these instructions, too.

This box, which I pulled out of my Everything Cupboard", represents approximately 1/100th of the stuff I have kept. So... do as I say, not as I do.

This box, which I pulled out of my “Everything Cupboard”, represents approximately 1/100th of the stuff I have kept. So … do as I say, not as I do.

Here we go:

1) Save ONLY the special things. And don’t be afraid to cut a “special piece” off, if there is a cute PART of it, but not ALL of it is cute. Then, put that special piece in one of your Everything Bins (I suggest your Everything Drawer), and keep it there until a day that you are feeling nostalgic and crafty, and will have time to, I don’t know, put it in a scrapbook or some such nonsense. That day will probably never come until after your children are grown up and gone, but maybe by then you will want to make a scrapbook, because it will give you something sweet to do to remember these “precious” days.

2) When presented with the item, congratulate your child on how hard they must have worked to make such an INTERESTING item, and comment on it, but not in a judgmental way. Just in a way that indicates that you are really noticing that they put that blob of paint there, and that they tore a hole in it there, and put a single googly eye in that pile of glue there. Then, after they are ASLEEP, bury it in the trash, the recycling bin, or the back yard. Your child will DEFINITELY forget it ever existed, as will you. However, DO NOT PUT IT ON THE TOP OF THE TRASH/RECYCLING BIN, or just leave it laying in the back yard, hoping that the raccoons will make off with it. This is very important, because then your children WILL find it, and it will break their tiny hearts that you didn’t immediately frame it and put it on display. Another option is to quietly dispose of it at a neighbour’s house. You might even want to work out a system with your neighbour, where you dispose of their children’s crafts, and they dispose of yours. Because it is much less emotional throwing out someone else’s child’s craft crap, is it not?

 

This one, on the other hand, is a keeper. I'm talking about the child of course. That picture is going in the garbage can.

This one, on the other hand, is a keeper.
(I’m talking about the child of course. That picture is eventually going into the garbage can.)

3) Decide that you will screw over your future self by simply leaving the craft crap in a pile on the kitchen counter with some other stuff that you intend to go through, one day. Because what has your future self done for you lately, anyway? NOTHING, that’s what. However, make SURE you look through that pile to find your child’s notice for hot dog day so you can fill it out and submit it ON TIME, because if you don’t, hot dog day WILL COME, and your child will receive NO hot dog, and that will break your child’s tiny heart. Also, if you come across the school photo order form in there, you should order some of those before the deadline (which was last week, btw).

4) Insist that it be up to your spouse to decide which crafts and pictures should be axed and which should be kept, because you work SO hard, and you deserve a break from such emotional decision-making. Also, remind them that they need to clean up the pee on the bathroom floor.

5) Look up ideas on Pinterest about how to adorably display such things, such as hanging them from clothespins, or taking pictures of them all and making an album, or making and framing a cute collage of everything. Then put the Pinterest ideas you want to do on your list of “things to do one day when I have time,” alongside such things as finally making a baby book for your 7-year-old, or learning to play the Banjo.

So there you have it, friends! I hope that this helpful guide will give you some good ideas and/or permission around how to deal with your children’s crafty crap. And, if you happen to be looking for someone to organize a “craft crap disposal exchange” with, let’s be in touch. I have a one-eyed sock puppet with YOUR garbage can’s name on it.

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* Pun very much intended.

Treat yo’ self* 2014 Blog Retreat

We two fun moms got together last weekend for a delightful, 24-hour blog retreat. While there, we made several very important decisions, and we figure it is important to share these blog decisions with you, our blog readers.

1) Calling it a “Blog Retreat” sounds so much better than calling it a “night in a hotel, drinking wine, sitting in a hot tub, eating take-out, and laughing.” Doesn’t “Blog Retreat” imply importance? We thought so, too.

2) Leaving our children home with our husbands is easier than leaving them with a babysitter and going out with our husbands. There is just so much less prep work and worry! So, big shout out to our awesome husbands! And to the single parents out there who don’t have that option but who keep on keepin’ on anyway. You’re awesome.

3) Blogging together is going well, and we are both having lots of fun with it.

4) This was the actual big decision: we are going to pursue an opportunity we have to place advertising on the site. Getting some income for this hobby of ours would be awesome, even though it will only be a tiny bit of income. The reasons we are pleased with this particular option include:
–    Payment happens “per pageview” and not “per click.” This means that our readers can continue to enjoy our writing and not feel obligated to click on the ads. Just going to our site at all helps! Especially if you make sure to visit the site from every public computer you encounter!
–    We will not have to compromise our writing itself through sponsored posts. We are not at all opposed to using the blog to get free opportunities and experiences, but we would hate for that to be what it’s about too much of the time. So our content will remain the same, but we will now get an amusingly small cheque every month! Or if we go viral, an excitingly LARGE one!

5) We don’t care what anyone says, selfies are really fun. Check them out:

On the skytrain! And we didn't have to say, "Use your quiet voice" or "Don't lick that!" or "We don't know that man; please leave him alone" even once.

On the skytrain! And we didn’t have to say, “Use your quiet voice” or “Don’t lick that!” or “We don’t know that man; please leave him alone” even once.

We are freeee! And in our hotel room with wiiine!

We are freeee! And in our hotel room with wiiine!

One of us did not get the memo that we were going to try and look serious and a little bit crazy in this photo.

Only one of us got the memo that we were going to try to look serious and a little bit crazy in this photo.

We thought this pose might work well for a profile picture on our Facebook page. We were wrong.

We thought this pose might work well for a profile picture on our Facebook page. We were wrong.

We felt it was necessary to do a facial mask and take pictures. We did not feel it was necessary to post them here, but we did anyway. We will OBVIOUSLY regret that decision.

We felt it was necessary to do a facial mask and take pictures. We did not feel it was necessary to post them here, but we did anyway. We will OBVIOUSLY regret that decision.

Breakfast on Davie street! Delicious! Treat yo’ self 2014!

Breakfast on Davie street! Delicious! Treat yo’ self 2014!

What’s a fun mom retreat without a pillow fight!?! You know it's a REAL one, because of how we took selfies of it.

What’s a fun mom retreat without a pillow fight!?! You know it’s a REAL one, too,  because of how we took selfies of it.

Obviously we’re already counting down until treat yo’ self 2015. We hope the money we make from ads on the blog will at least pay for breakfast.

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* We’re sorry if you don’t understand this reference. It’s from Parks and Rec. We’re not all that sorry you missed out on the joke, but we’re certainly sorry you don’t watch that show, because it’s dang funny.

Stop Making My Kid Feel Bad About Her Teeth!

 

Hello, blog friends.

So, I wrote something for a different blog (BLUNTmoms.com). They published it a few days ago, and I’d love it if you all read it too! If you click that little cialis for sale online in canada link below, it should take you right to it.

If you have kids with cavities, you’ll probably want to read it and share in my frustration. If you don’t, you may want to read it anyway to make sure you aren’t accidentally making my kid feel bad.

Thanks!

Jac

Click here: http://www.bluntmoms.com/dental-health-educators-stop-making-kid-feel-bad/

 

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