"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." (Aldo Leopold) Apparently, I cannot.


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What’s the Best Way to Parent, Anyway?

About 5 years ago, Super and I were out at the mall. It was one of our first trips out of the house with Belle since she was born. I remember not really wanting to go out, but we needed a present for someone and decided it would be good to get some “fresh” air. About 30 minutes into our trip, Belle started screaming her head off because she was hungry. So I hunkered down on an out-of-the-way bench and sent Super off in search of whatever it was we were there for. Not 5 minutes into feeding Belle I was approached by an older woman. I thought she was looking for a place to sit down, so I awkwardly grabbed my huge-ass diaper bag and attempted to scootch to the end of the bench. When she was still standing after I had clearly made enough room for her, I looked at her and gave her a little smile to officially acknowledge her presence. She looked at me like I had just done something really offensive and then said, “You know, breastfeeding is really best for your baby.”

“WHAT THE HELL, LADY?!!” I shouted, “HOW DARE YOU COME UP AND TELL ME HOW TO FEED MY OWN CHILD!!” Oh, you bet I really did shout that, but in my head. I was left so stunned that I didn’t have a chance to actually respond to the woman before she walked away, judgment dripping from her entire being.

What this woman didn’t know was that Belle was born 11 weeks premature–Belle couldn’t breastfeed (or bottlefeed for that matter) when she was born, she had no suck/swallow coordination, so she had to be fed via a feeding tube. This woman didn’t know that it was in fact breast milk in the bottle I was using, and that I had been pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock for the past 12 weeks, the first 6 of which Belle was in the NICU, so that my daughter would have all of the benefits of breast milk. This woman didn’t know that I DESPERATELY wanted to breastfeed Belle, but that even when she was able, she would oftentimes stop breathing or her heart rate would drop dangerously low. This woman didn’t know about all the tears I had shed because I felt like a failure of a mom. This woman didn’t know just have deep her judgmental knife cut into my heart.

Maybe had she known all of this she wouldn’t have said anything. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter. I could have had formula in the bottle I was giving Belle (and after I could no longer pump, that’s indeed what she had) and that would have been ok too. You know why? Spoiler alert: Because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. What works for me may not work for someone else. And what works for one of my kids may not work for another. Parenting is all about learning how to best provide for your kids. With extra emphasis on the “learning” part. And no one should feel that they have to apologize for how they raise their kids.

If I were to run into this lady again now, 2 more kids in, you know what I’d tell her?

Guess what Mrs. Judgmental, the baby you saw me feeding with the bottle, well that was breast milk, but we did switch her to formula completely at 14 weeks, and she’s doing just fine, thank you very much. She’s one of the smartest 5-year-olds I know. Oh, and yeah, my second child wanted nothing to do with breastfeeding from the beginning, so he started on just formula around 4 weeks. He’s doing great too, by the way. Oh, and my third baby, well he took very well to breastfeeding and, like his brother and sister, is doing just great.

2I’d go on to tell her that all my kids get vaccinated; the boys are circumcised; I work at home but also send the kids out a few times a week to preschool and daycare; the kids sometimes end up sleeping in our bed; our 3-year-old still uses a binky at night; the kids don’t always eat the same thing for dinner and we don’t always make them eat their vegetables; we allow the kids to watch tv; we allow the kids to eat McDonald’s, drink juice, and chew gum–occasionally; we do not spank the kids; we hold them and cuddle them a lot…

This lady would probably have a sour puss by now with all of the parenting no-nos she’d likely consider us to be committing. But I wouldn’t care. I didn’t ask for her opinion.

The point is, there is no right or wrong way to parent. You may or may not do things like your family members or your friends or the random people considered to be “experts” in parenting who clog the interwebs with articles about good vs. bad parenting styles.  The only thing that matters is that you do what works best for your kids and your family, and no one should shame you into doing any different.

Listen to advice (and know that sometimes it will come unsolicited). Try new approaches if certain things aren’t going smoothly. Inform yourself on important issues. Read up on parenting articles that offer guidance, not criticism. But at the end of the day, listen to your heart. Isn’t that ultimately the best way to parent?

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Letting Punky Brewster Be

Making coloring look good!

Making coloring look good!

Belle is quite the little fashionista. Always has been. The girl has been dressing herself since she could put on her clothes all by herself. And even before that she was picking out her own outfits, often giving me looks reserved for angsty teenagers who hate their parents if I offered her anything less than highly fashionable.

Boots wit da fur

Boots wit da fur (with leggings rolled up and leg warmers)

My mom says I was like this when I was little. When recounting stories of my outfit choices, she always refers to my “Punky Brewster” look. Growing up in the 80s, my outfits usually went something like this: rainbow something or other, a faded tshirt with some sort of animal on it, and shorts with piping along the hem. Oh, and jelly shoes. Had to have the jelly shoes. So, the girl gets it honestly. You could say fashion is in her jeans! (Heh heh.)

Although, I think for me, my fashion sense stemmed from not really caring what I was wearing–you know, just throwing stuff together (I was probably more interested in getting outside to play); for Belle, it’s just the opposite. She does care and is very deliberate with her choices.

Even baby Saurus is in awe of her style

Even baby Saurus is in awe of her style

I have to admit, it took me a little while to embrace Belle’s Punky Brewster style. I’d buy her outfits in which everything matched, you know, where all of the pieces were bought to go together–the pants with the shirt and the matching socks. I’d fill her drawers with said outfits, all the corresponding pieces together in one place, so all she would have to do was grab an outfit and go. Instead, Belle would grab pieces from two different outfits and put them together. And it wasn’t a quick or thoughtless venture either. She had to have just the right mixture. When she’d come to me with the black and white polka dot pants paired with the multicolored striped shirt, my type A personality would take over and I’d try to get her to change one of the pieces so that things matched. As you can imagine, this led to tantrums and tears.

Not afraid to try something new

Not afraid to try something new

I tried to hold my ground. After all, I was the parent and she was the child. It pained me to find her drawers completely disheveled after I folded her laundry and put everything away nicely and neatly. Plus, I had bought those polka dot pants to go with the polka dot shirt, dammit, and that’s what I wanted her to wear.

But then I had one of my first (of many many) “Aww hell!” moments. In the grand scheme of things, what did it matter what the child was wearing? At least she was wearing clothes, right? And who was I to tell my clearly budding fashionista what to wear? Heck, 9 times out of 10 she’d look better than me. (And sadly, this is still the case.)

Most recent dress-over-nightgown-over-pants look

Most recent dress-over-nightgown-over-pants look

So, I let go. I stopped buying “outfits” and instead just started buying a bunch of tops and bottoms and let her have at it. I no longer care how her clothes go into her drawers or how they come out. As long as she is happy, I’m happy.

And, I wouldn’t be surprised if 15 years from now you’ll be seeing people wearing clothes Belle has designed. Well, either that or she’ll be a teacher. Or a doctor like her daddy. Or a police officer. Or an artist. She told me the other day she wants to be all these things when she grows up.

Go for it, girl! One thing is for sure, whatever you do, you’ll be stylin. 🙂


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It’s All About Me

See, I love my family so much that I spent my entire last post talking all about them, and completely left myself out of it. If I’m being honest, I didn’t even think about this until someone else mentioned it to me. (See how selfless I am?!)

But, I guess if we’re going to be spending even a little bit of time together, it’s true that you may want to know a little about me. So, here goes . . .

I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin’ on the porch with my family, singin’ and dancin’ down in Mississippi. {Cue scratching record sound.} Oh wait, that’s not me. (And if you don’t know who that is, I’m not sure we can be friends. Ok, now I feel guilty . . . If you really don’t know who that is, Google it, and then we can still be friends.)

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Super is handsome, eh?

This is me (and Super). He’s handsome, eh? Super is a Radiologist and is super smart. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I married up. Don’t I know it! In more ways than one, I can assure you. But I digress.

My (real) name is Mackenzie, but around here I’m known as Mamma, Kenz, or Hun. First and foremost my profession is being a mommy to my three amazing children. If you missed my post introducing them, you can read all about them here.

I could not have become a mommy without my husband. (You all know how that works, but if you need a refresher, I once again direct you to Google. Oh, and dad, if you’re reading this, all our babies were delivered by the stork.) Seriously, though, we make a good team, and I’m so happy to be on this crazy journey with him. If you can believe it, we met in middle school–we were (on again, off again) high school and college sweethearts, and we got married a few years after graduating college. In the past 10 years, we have made it through his med school, my grad school, three moves, and now almost all of his residency (he finishes up this summer, woot woot)! Super is the smartest person I know. But, most importantly, he’s hot he is a great husband and amazing father.

Aside from my mommy duties, I am also an editor. (But, as I mentioned in my first post, please do not take this to mean that all of my posts are going to be perfectly written–I’m ok with that, so you can be too.) I absolutely LOVE words–even after reading so much for work, I am still an avid reader and, with the start of this blog, becoming more of an avid writer (unless you classify all of the rewriting I do when editing, and then you’d have to consider me an uber avid writer). My foray into writing, actually happened very early on with my first work, a little book I wrote titled The Dunkin Donut Family. I was 7, and my mom actually sent it away to get it published. Not surprisingly, it was (very politely) rejected. This experience obviously didn’t have a negative impact on me, as I ended up joining the publishing world, wielding my red pen and staunchly defending the serial comma. (Seriously, don’t get me started.) Before kids, I worked at a few different publishing companies, but these days, I work as a freelance editor, usually (ok, always) in my lounging attire, on the couch. It’s the best office I’ve ever had.

So, there you have it; now you know a little more about me. But just for fun, here’s a little bit more, in no particular order . . . Likes: serial commas, exclamation points, em-dashes, adding commentary in parentheses (if you don’t know this by now, go back and read through my posts so far–see what I did here?!); sleep, although I don’t get nearly enough these days (same goes for showers); imagination; Italian and Mexican food, cheese, key lime pie, churros, diet Pepsi; handwritten notes; pretty much anything about vampires; chapstick (like, I’m addicted); sarcasm; Brad Pitt; my hair; flip flops; anything cute and cuddly; vacuuming; my favoritest pair of holey, black, super comfy yoga-type pants. Dislikes: bad drivers; snow (god, I hate snow); people that say, “I need [this or that]” when ordering food or whatever, instead of saying, “I would like,” or “May I please have”; doing the dishes, laundry, dusting, folding fitted sheets; swimming in the ocean or any other body of water that isn’t a pool–I have an irrational fear of sharks and other creatures of the deep; running; lint; the phrase, “just sayin”; when people put the toilet paper on the roll so that it comes off the bottom, not over the top . . .

I could go on and on about what I like and what I don’t, but I guess the important thing here is that you enjoy reading my writing, whether I prefer grape or strawberry jelly or whether I do or do not like watching “Pretty Little Liars.” (For the record, strawberry all the way, and absolutely I do!)

Thanks for taking a few minutes to get to know me a little better. Now I need to run to catch up on all the laundry that’s been piling up. Uggghhhh.


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Our Cast of Characters

So I spoke with the kids about how mommy is going to be writing about them and sharing funny stories with our friends, and, as promised, asked them to pick their very own super special names for me to use in these stories. Without further adieu, then, please allow me to introduce you to our cast of characters (emphasis on “characters”) . . .

First up, my 5-year-old daughter. (She just turned 5 a few days ago, but I swear she thinks she’s at least 10.) When I asked her what name she wanted, she came up with “Busy Izzy,” “Bunk,” “I don’t know, you choose,” and then settled on “Belle.”

Channeling Punky Brewster . . . apparently she still "fits" in her 6-12 month clothes

Channeling Punky Brewster . . . apparently she still “fits” in her 6-12 month clothes

So, this is Belle. Belle comes to us standing at 3 1/2 feet tall and weighing in at 40-some lbs. Likes: fashion (clearly!), baby dolls, princesses, ponies, drawing, reading, singing, dancing, anything sparkly . . . pretty much anything traditionally “girly.” (This is funny to me because I was a tomboy when I was little. [I know, it’s hard to believe since I’m practically a model now.]) Dislikes: vegetables, shows about dinosaurs (see below), having to ask for help. Belle is the sweetest big sister ever, and my heart swells with pride as I watch her with her brothers.

Next up, my oldest son. When I asked him what name he wanted, he said, “Spinosaurus.” Now, I know I said I’d let them pick out their own names, but there is no way I’m going to type out “Spinosaurus” a thousand times in my posts. I asked him for a second name, and he said, “Saurus.” I sighed and asked him to give me a real name, and he said, “Saurus. You don’t like ‘Saurus,’ mommy?” Then I felt guilty. So, meet, “Saurus.”

Ok, so his name fits

Ok, so his name fits (and yes, that is his sister’s chapstick all over his face)

Saurus is 3 years old, stands a little more than 3 feet tall, and weighs in at just more than 30 lbs. Likes: dinosaurs, shows about dinosaurs, books about dinosaurs, dinosaur toys, dinosaur stuffed animals. Did I mention dinosaurs? Oh, and pretty much any food. Like, if you have food, you can bet he’ll be cozying up to you and begging for some. Dislikes: tags of any kind in his clothes, sharing, timeouts. Although Saurus can give me a run for my money, he is the sweetest little cuddle bug with a smile that I’m sure could melt even the coldest of hearts. (Really, just look at that face!)

And finally, there’s my 7-month-old. When I asked him what name he wanted, he said, “Pfft boo baa goo gaaa daaa daaa ahhhhh.” Alrighty then. Clearly he is too little to pick his own name, so I decided to pick for him. I couldn’t decide on a name, though, so I got some help. I pulled out the trusty baby name book, flipped to a random page, closed my eyes, and pointed. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Montaine, Lester, Tavaris, Leonidus . . . seriously baby book? C’mon. Fine, I’ll pick. It is my pleasure to introduce you to “Eli.” I picked this name because it was in the running as an actual name every time we had a baby but never got picked.

My little mover and shaker

My little mover and shaker

Eli measures in at 26 and a half inches, and weighs 16 lbs. He’s our little peanut! Likes: being held by mommy ALL THE TIME. Ok, not all the time, because occasionally he does like to crawl around and find tiny specs of anything to put into his mouth and scare mommy to death that he’s choking. Oh, he also likes chewing on anything he can get his little hands on, taking baths, and sleeping (when he doesn’t have an ear infection). Dislikes: poopy diapers, being away from mommy, sleeping with an ear infection, not getting what he wants when he wants it. (Technically, I could use this for all three, and, if I’m being honest, myself.) Eli really does have the sweetest disposition (aside from typical baby fussiness) and is taking after his brother in the cuddles and smile department.

So, there you have it. These are my three wild things!

Oh wait, I forgot to introduce you to my biggest wild thing, my husband. As I’m sure he’ll be making an appearance here from time to time, I’ll give him a name, too. Well, to be fair, I asked him what name he wanted, but since this is a family-friendly blog, I can’t share the suggestions he made. If you have a husband (or know any man, really), I’m sure you can guess the kinds of descriptive names he was suggesting. My next choice for his name, Doctor, has already been taken by a friend for her husband in her blog. (Speaking of which, you should check out her blog, too: www.funnyisfamily.com!) Technically, she calls her husband “The Doctor,” but I figured this was too close, so decided I needed something else. I settled on modifying a nickname his doctor buddies call him . . . they nicknamed him “Super [Real Name],” so henceforth, I will be referring to my hubby as “Super.” I know I’m biased because I married the guy, but the name really does fit! (And if you’re reading this, babe, I’m hoping this wins me some points and you remember this next time you get irritated with me for anything! Hold on, “if?” Let me rephrase that, you better be reading this!)

I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting the family. Can’t wait to begin sharing our stories with you!


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I Drank the Blogging Kool-Aid

Well, it finally happened. I’ve started blogging. Actually, technically I’ve only set up this nifty page and added this single post, so I guess you could say I’ve started posting. But, hopefully with time, and plenty of material to share from all of my kids’ antics, this one post will blossom into an actual blog. A blog about the hilarity (and sometimes missteps) of raising young children. And hopefully, too, people will read it. Read it to commiserate. Read it to learn what parenting is really like. Read it for a chuckle. (It’s ok, I know sometimes people will be laughing at me, not with me.) If not, at the very least, I’ve created my very own online journal. That anyone with an internet connection and time on their hands searching for blogs written by moms of wild and crazy kids can find.

Speaking of my kids, as they will be the stars of this blog, I will introduce them soon . . . it seems that blogging protocol calls for using pseudonyms for them, however, and I’d like for them to pick out their own names, so I need to wait for them to wake up. Can’t wait to see what they come up with. (You’re on the edge of your seats, too, I can tell.) In the meantime, I can tell you that I have three: my daughter is 5, my oldest son is 3, and my youngest son is 7 months. Are you as exhausted reading that as I am living it?!

Ok, now for a few quick administrative notes. I have but one request should you decide to read this blog on a regular basis: As with life, please do not take it too seriously. I love my kids more than life itself, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have trying days (or weeks, or months, or–ok, let’s face it–years)! I do not intend to use this blog as a platform to complain about my kids. On the contrary, I think my kids are smart, witty, awesome, and hilarious. BUT, I cannot promise there won’t be posts where I whine about them. This doesn’t mean I think any less of them, it just means I’m human. And have human kids. I know, I know, you’re wondering, then, why I refer to them as “wild things” . . . it’s called a metaphor, people.

This brings me to another point. I’m not going to hold back in this blog. I’m going to talk about very real things, and because this blog revolves around my kids, you can bet this will include talking about poop, pee, boogers, vomit, and all sorts of weird smells that are associated with having young kids. You have been warned.

And lastly, if you know me personally, you know that I am an editor by trade. If you don’t know me personally, psssst, guess what, I’m an editor by trade. Ok, there, it’s out in the open. Please do not take this to mean that all of my posts are going to be 100% perfect and free of any typos or grammatical errors. They won’t. I’ll be writing these posts during my brief moments of down time, like now, in the evening after all the kids are in bed and I’m super tired (and thus prone to making typos and grammatical errors), or, say, when I only have one kid wailing because [insert any one of the 8,975 reasons one kid is annoying another] instead of all three at the same time, leaving me only slightly distracted (although no less tired and still prone to making typos and grammatical errors). Ok, you see where I’m going with this.

So I guess that’s it for now. If you’re still with me, congrats. You made it through what is surely going to be my dullest post.