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Top 10 Ways I’m Killing it This Summer

By Jac

With four whole weeks left to go before school starts around here, I’m pretty much doing awesome this summer. Here’s my Top Ten list.

10. Sometimes my kids eat cereal for breakfast and lunch on the same day.

9. Instead of counting the number of hours that the television is on every day, I count the hours it’s OFF. Because that really seems like a LOT, no matter how much Toopy and Binoo we watch. Continue reading

Moving with my boy

My son, who is seven (“and a HALF!” as he constantly reminds me), is hardly ever not moving. I notice this every morning when he comes upstairs to sunnily greet his groggy father and I. I am always struck at the contrast — here I am, exhausted and very unwilling to move even an inch toward getting out of bed and going downstairs, usually silently willing my husband to do it instead. And yet I watch as A remains in constant motion, walking around and around in a circle while he talks to me. Sometimes he’ll manoeuvre around to the other side of the bed to continue to circle and talk to his father, who resembles a hibernating bear in the morning, and will maybe manage a few grunts and a half-open eye. Neither of our reactions dissuade our energetic boy, he continues to circle, laugh, tell his story, get the acknowledgement from us that he was hoping for, and then disappear downstairs again to continue whatever he was doing. This need for movement, I have noticed, has nothing to do with his ability to focus. My boy is almost too good at focusing — he will sometimes have so much intense focus on what he’s doing that he literally can’t hear a word I say, even as I repeat my instructions three, four, five times. He gets this from his father. And he has never, not even as a toddler, been energetic to the point of destruction of toys, furniture, glassware, what have you. He has always just wanted to move. Continue reading

One Fun Meal Contest WINNERS

Well, we learned something this week, folks. We learned that there is a reason bloggers do rafflecopters and coupons, and things that can be sent in the mail when they want to do a giveaway for their readers. We did NOT have huge response for our contest.

But, see, it occurs to us, in hindsight, that when your readership is mostly made up of exhausted parents, a prize that involves finding childcare, getting dressed in human-clothes, driving to Vancouver, and eating dinner with people you don’t know, may not actually be an appealing prize. Whoops! Our bad! Live and learn. Or, in this case, blog and learn. Next time: a spa day, on a Saturday morning. We hear you. Continue reading

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.)

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/

 

Even Kids Can Remember

I did not make this, and neither did my children. I found it on google, but if you're crafty, you can find it here!

I did not make this, and neither did my children. I found it by googling, but if you’re crafty, you can find it here!

Remembrance Day is a tricky one for the preschool/primary set, isn’t it? As parents, we think we should probably tell them about it, so we give a simple explanation, and then they are full of questions. About war, and death, and freedom, and poppy-covered graves. I’m pleased that my kids are full of questions, and usually I don’t have trouble telling them the truth, but in the case of Remembrance Day, I find the answers to be rather complicated.

Here are some of the reasons why:

– In Canada it always feels like we are so far from the fight, and that our freedom as a nation hasn’t really even been directly threatened.

– War is a terrible thing, involving lots and lots of death and pain and evil. It is difficult to convey the importance and significance of its existence, both in the past and in the present, without either minimizing it or scaring the heck out of my (thankfully) sheltered and safe kids.

– Kids have difficulty understanding nuance, and (possibly thanks to the majority of kids’ TV shows and books they enjoy) mine really want everything to be “good guys versus bad guys.” It can be intimating to explain that war, and PEOPLE, are a lot more complex than that.

– We tell them that violence is not the answer when they clock their sister on the head with a Barbie doll, but here we are, dedicating a whole day to those who were themselves required to be violent. This has the potential to be confusing, and as a parent it can seem like avoiding the whole topic is the easiest option.

But despite the fact that their questions are complicated, I think they are still absolutely worth asking, and I’ll keep trying my best to answer them for my kids. Because here’s what else I know:

– There are, right now, Canadian soldiers who are fighting for the freedom and safety of strangers, far from home. This may not have the same simplicity as “fighting for our freedom,” but isn’t it amazing and commendable? Even more so? What an example of selflessness and sacrifice for my kids to hear about and learn from.

– War is a terrible, awful thing. If we do not face it, learn about it, and talk about it to our children, they will not know the lengths to which they must go to avoid it when they are the leaders of our world and the shapers of our policies. There is a thin tightrope we parents must walk between telling the truth and scaring our kids, but we have to do our best. Parenting is hard, folks, but if we can do the late-night feedings and the potty training and the endless school permission slips, surely we can do this too.

– They want it to be “good guys versus bad guys” but it isn’t. I’m just going to tell them that. Life is complicated. War might be mostly “complex people versus complex people,” but there are some people who do evil things, and it is important to try to stop them.

– Violence isn’t the answer, and Remembrance Day may be a good opportunity to talk about how important it is to avoid. We take a day to commemorate those who have suffered because of violence, and the fact that they did so for the sake of others.

My little Canadians don't even know what they're remembering today.

My little Canadians don’t even know what they’re remembering today.

So it might be tricky to deal with Remembrance Day with our little kids, but we don’t need to ignore it. Take your day off and spend time together as a family, or watch a lot of Dora and wish they were in school, like I’m planning to do. However, I might actually encourage a moment of silence at 11:11am, in which only the babies are allowed to make noise. Then maybe I’ll even consider dragging my husband over to sing our country’s national anthem with us. I know that in my house, it’s time my kids learned that this is song is good to sing and to remember, and not just when we win another curling medal in the winter Olympics. We can sing it together, and be thankful for the Canadians who came before us, and who wear our flag as they fight and work on our behalf today.

God keep our land, glorious and free,
Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Indeed.

Five hundred Facebook likes! We have a winner …

If you follow us on Facebook, or if you read this post, you know that we promised a gift certificate of $30 to the cool online site, SavvyMamas.ca, when we reached 500 likes. Well, yesterday that happened! This evening we did the draw (using an online randomizer) and the winner is … wait for it … Sharon Vanderkodde! Congrats! We’ll contact you in a Facebook message about how to receive your prize.

So what’s next, you ask? Well, when we get to 1000 likes, we want to do something fun to celebrate! We will take a movie of whatever we decide to do, and post that movie on the blog. So what are we even doing? Well, that’s up to you! Go to our Facebook page and make suggestions! So far, all we have up there is “skydive naked,” and we’re DEFINITELY not going to do that, so we’re hoping you give us more ideas!

Phenomen … not

When you have more than one child, there is a strange phenomenon that can be summarized with this question: “Why is it suddenly so much easier when one of them isn’t here?” Basically, when you had one child, it was quite a lot of work, and your family had a certain dynamic. Going to the grocery store alone, for example, felt like a mini vacation because it was so much more difficult to go with your climbing, whining, grabbing, hungry child. Then you had two kids, your family adjusted, and life was, again, quite a lot of work. Going to the grocery store with only one kid, then, was the vacation. When you have two, a few hours with only one feels easy as pie, in a way it never did when you only had one. When you have three, having only two with you is suddenly no problem. I’ve often wondered how long this lasts. Do the Duggars feel this way? (“Why is it so quiet around here today? Oh right. Jedediah’s on a playdate. There are only 18 of them.”)

Let me take a moment to be clear, here: I do not think parenting was easy when I had “only” one or two children and this is the reason I kept having more. We’ve been operating at maximum capacity since our first child was born, but somehow we keep managing to adjust. (Mostly it comes down to accepting more help, tolerating more chaos, and having a messier house, but these are topics for another time.)

Since having our fourth, my husband and I often take advantage of this phenomenon with the “divide and conquer” strategy. This means that we never do any errand alone because it’s not fair to leave our spouse home in chaos if it can be avoided. This is a useful strategy, even if it does mean neither of us ever has time alone. Like, ever.*

My mistake lately has been to attempt to do things that should only be done with no kids because I suddenly think it will be easy with “only” two. This is what happened when I took R (at not quite 2) and baby N, a newborn at the time, to the library. As I sat on the tiny couch in the kids’ section, nursing the baby, R was supposed to be compliantly playing with the toys and looking carefully at the books. Instead, she decided to run away, of course. She ran straight into the men’s room. Of course. There I sat, pitifully calling out to her, “R! Come back! No, don’t go in there!” with no result whatsoever. I eventually had to walk over to the men’s room, bouncing my crying newborn, and call in to her from the door. I could see R, and she could see me from the middle of the bathroom where she stood, and then she laughed and proceeded to lie down on the floor. I used my serious voice, she used her adorable giggle—it was a stalemate. The bathroom seemed to be empty so I finally decided to just step in and grab her. I apologized to cialis for sale online the bathroom in general as I did so, just as a precaution. “No problem!” said a deep voice from one of the stalls.

In a remarkably similar event to the library incident, R also ran away from me on the ferry a few days ago. Here she is under a row of seats, feeling badly about what she's putting me through.

In a remarkably similar event to the library incident, R also ran away from me on the ferry a few days ago. Here she is under a row of seats, feeling badly about what she’s putting me through.

To sum up, it’s a lesson I’ve needed to learn over and over: having two kids with you may be easier than having four kids with you, but two kids? It’s not no kids.

 

* Unless you count his drive to work, which I do.

Knock, knock

“Tell a joke, mommy,” S said, as she and I lounged in the backyard one sunny afternoon. “Uh …” I said, because nobody has asked me to tell them a joke in a long time. All of a sudden I had the same anxiety I had in high school when one of the “cool kids” introduced me to someone and said, “She’s really funny. Say something funny, Juliana.” Gulp.

My kids are naturally gifted when it comes to spontaneous, physical comedy bits. They get this from their father.

My kids are naturally gifted when it comes to spontaneous, physical comedy bits. They get this from their father.

I blame S’s sudden interest in jokes on a joke book that her brother A took out from the school library (for two weeks in a row, unfortunately). For those two weeks I was hearing the same TERRIBLE jokes over and over and over again. (A: “What did the frog order from the fast food restaurant, Mommy?” Me: “I don’t know, what?” A: “A side of flies and a diet croak!” Me: “Ha … ha … huunngh” (curls into fetal position).

So now S wants a joke. I scour the dustiest part of my brain, the “childhood jokes” part …

“Um … Knock, knock!”
“… and then what?” She says.
“No, no … You have to say, ‘Who’s there?’”
“Who’s there.”
“Banana”
“Why?”
“No, now you say, ‘Banana Who?’”
“Who?”
“No, you say, ‘Banana, who?’”
“Banana who?”
“Knock, Knock.”
“Knock Knock?”
“No, you say, “Who’s there,” remember?”
“Oh. Who’s there?”
“Banana.”
“Oh! It’s a banana!”
“No, you say, ‘Banana who?'”
“Who!”
“No, Banana who?”
“Oh, Banana who?”
“Knock knock?”
“It’s a cialis5mg-online banana! I know that!”
“But you still say, ‘Who’s there?'”
“Oh, who’s there?”
“Banana.”
“Banana!”
“No … ‘banana who?'”
“Banana who!”
“Knock knock”
“Who?”
“You say, who’s there?”
“It’s a banana?”
“You have to say, ‘who’s there?'”
“Who’s there?”
“Orange.”
“What?”
“Now you say, ‘Orange who?'”
“Orange who?”
“… Orange you glad I didn’t say Banana!?”

And so, as unceremoniously and awkwardly as it began, my sad little joke came to a bitter end. But instead of the laughter I was expecting she gave me a blank look followed by a sad smile and a sympathetic chuckle, as if to say, “Oh, mother … that was terrible.”

What I should have said was, “A side of flies and a diet croak,” because in my house—in the 3-6 age demographic, at least—that punchline kills.

Blog Tour: Answers to Questions You Never Even Asked

So, apparently there’s this thing among bloggers where they “tag” each other on their blogs and get each other to answer a series of questions. It’s like a chain letter, except that you not only answer it, you make other people read it, too! When my (Jac’s) friend Jenn at youpinspireme.ca tagged me to do one of these, I considered just ignoring her. But then I remembered that she has been VERY helpful to me in starting up this blog and figuring out twitter and reminding me of the difference between a web host and a website builder, and I’m worried that if I ignore her, she’ll start to ignore me. But more importantly, I found that I really ENJOYED reading her answers. I got to know my friend Jenn a little better, and that was nice! I decided to do it, and I also recruited Juli to answer the questions too, so if you like this, you’ll be doubly happy. And if you don’t, you can be annoyed with BOTH of us, which is just the way I like it.

1. What am I working on?

Jac: I’m working on being more patient. I’m working on complaining less. I’m working on finding time to exercise. But for my blog I’m working on not having so much fun with it (and with social media in general) that I totally lose touch with the rest of my life. So I guess you could say that I’m working on maintaining eye contact with my family members and keeping a handle on my laundry pile.

Juli: In all seriousness, I am currently working on a poem about pee on the bathroom floor, and how I long for the day that my bathroom is pee-free. I am also working on a large cup-o-candies that my husband brought me from a late-night run to 7-eleven. And if you were wondering, the answer is yes. They are delicious.

2. How Does My Work Differ from Others of the Genre?

Jac: There are actually quite a few blogs like ours out there, but the fact that Juli and I have each other makes this one different. We really “get” each other’s sense of humour and parenting style, even (and especially) in online chats, and it’s been fun to share ideas with each other and to share our conversations with our Bloopies. What also sets us apart, I think, is the line we try to walk between honesty and complaining. Mostly, we make fun of ourselves and each other a lot, which we think is funny, even if no one else does.

Juli: I like to think that we keep it light, fun and funny at TwoFunMoms. There are heavy (and heady) opinions all over the interweb; lots of comparisons, lots of information, and lots of choices presented for parents to make, which I think often have us all feeling overwhelmed, and guilty, because we are SO ready to believe that we’re doing it all wrong. I think we need a break, a laugh-break, in the midst of the day’s craziness, and that’s what Jac and I try to put out there. The BEST compliment I have ever received about the blog, which I think sums up exactly what we are trying to do, was given to me by another parent, who has two very small children. She said that she would read our blog posts in the midst of her day’s chaos, and it helped to lighten her mood right there, in the moment, even with both children melting down around her. The idea that we could give parents a solidarity break—a “you’re not alone” when they are feeling SO alone, is exactly why I want to do this. Also it’s fun, and helps me to get the chaos out of my own system. Very cathartic.

3. How do I Write / Create What I Do?

Jac: When I have an idea, I have to write it down immediately. I just word-vomit it all out onto a computer, or a journal page, or a napkin … usually in point form. Then when I get the chance, I write it out in big-people sentences. When it comes time to publish it, I “edit” it approximately 97 times until I’m happy with it. I sometimes don’t think I’m actually a writer; I’m just an editor of my own words.

Oh, and I also think about what I should write when I’m supposed to be doing other things. The other day I got off the freeway at the wrong exit because I was thinking too much. I hope they don’t start handing out tickets for that!

Juli: Usually when the thing that I am drawing inspiration from is happening, in real time (my kid said something hilarious, or is peeing all over the bathroom floor—stuff like that), I grab my phone and quickly write a word or a sentence (whatever I have time for, before pee is tracked onto the carpet, for example) that will help me remember that moment, to conjure up the feelings and frustrations and humour of that moment, later, when the kids are in bed and I actually have time to write about it.

4. How Does Your Writing / Creative Process Work?

Jac: I mostly write with a computer on my lap, on the couch, when I should be in bed. Then, when it’s finished, Juli edits my work for me, which is SO helpful, and then I save what I’ve done until it’s time to post it online.

As far as pictures for the blog are concerned, I take pictures with my iPhone, or my regular old digital camera, and we generally have a no-filter, no-photo-shop style around here. This blog is about finding the hilarious in the mundane, and presenting life as it is. I kind of feel like if people think, “Wow, what a gorgeous picture!” they might not notice that the kid in the picture has her finger up her nose. Plus, photo editing takes time and talent, and I’m much more worried about the word editing.

Juli: I sit on the couch with my husband (you know, “quality time”), and write, and snack, and watch a show, and play a candy-match game, and then write some more. Eventually I will fall asleep, and at that point, the writing is done for the night. When my turn to post is coming up (usually a day or two before), I will send the post to Jac, so she can add what I like to call her “Jacqueline Sparkle,” meaning she edits all of the grammar mistakes and “proper” writing particulars that she is so good at seeing, and makes suggestions for ways to improve the post. I am free to accept or reject these suggestions, but usually they are great and I keep them—we have discovered that we are of one mind about many things, such as what is funny and what is not so funny (but maybe SEEMED funny to me, very late at night). After she sends it back to me I make my final edit, and then try to think of a picture that sums up the spirit of the post, and a caption for that picture. Then I post, sit back, and wait for all of the accolades to roll in … from Jac’s family members. (Just kidding. But they are wonderful! So encouraging!) (Jac here. This is usually true. But also, my mom only likes us on Facebook because she forgot to log out one time when I was over there so I “liked” us on her behalf. I wonder if she’s noticed yet.)

Juli's work station. This is very similar to Jac's work station, only Jac's has cheese instead of chocolate and a laptop instead of a tablet. Also, it looks like Juli needs a refill.

Juli’s work station. This is very similar to Jac’s work station, only Jac’s has cheese instead of chocolate and a laptop instead of a tablet. Also, it looks like Juli needs a refill.

Now that we’ve answered, we’re supposed to nominate three other bloggers to do this, too. Because of how it’s a chain letter blog tour, remember? I nominate:

– Louise Chapman at talknerdytomeblog.com. Louise and I played football together (really!), and it was awesome. She writes a blog that got her nominated for the VancouverMom.ca top 30 Ultimate Blogger competition. And she was a runner up! So she’s basically famous, and you should check out her blog!

– Kara Overton at karathenovel.blogspot.ca, a fellow mommy blogger I “met” on twitter. I love her blog. She is totally honest and vulnerable, and she is definitely a capital-w Writer; her posts are so beautifully written, personal and universal at the same time. I hope she answers these questions so I can get to “know” her better.

– Amanda Arneill at focusingonmiracles.com. Amanda is a cousin of a friend of mine, and she started her blog to record their family’s journey with her daughter’s rare heart condition. She has continued to do this as her daughter has gotten older, and now she recently had another baby that her readers (like me!) can watch grow up. Amanda may not have time to answer these questions anytime soon, but maybe she’ll be relieved that this gives her something positive to blog about, because having a new baby and a two-year-old at the same time can make you want to write negative things. I should know.

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