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


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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (After Having Kids)

Life with kids — although completely amazing overall (really, it is) — is exhausting, and usually dirty and sticky and full of stuff breaking all the time, with some (ok, a lot of) whining and fussing and mooching for food thrown in.

So when I find something that helps to make my life with kids easier, I’m a happy camper.  As parents, we all have our must-haves. These are mine (in no particular order). What makes your list?

favorite things

  1. Sippy cups: Because you know what? Even when those suckers get knocked over, the drink does not spill everywhere. (Assuming the lid is on properly and whatever spill-proof thingymajig you have to put in the spout isn’t missing and is put in just right, that is.) Even though my older kids are adept at drinking from regular cups, they’re not so adept at not knocking them over. I think sippy cups will be required drinking accoutrements in my house until the kids move out.
  2. Snacks: More specifically, Cheerios, goldfish, any type of crackers, and those handy little fruit/yogurt pouches that don’t need to be refrigerated. Even though the Cheerios and goldfish seem to multiply and make themselves at home in every crevice in your house and car, and the fruit/yogurt pouches can be messy if little hands squeeze too hard, these snacks are never turned down and can almost always turn tears into smiles, or help prevent a tantrum in pinch. (Or in times of food aversions can become entire meals.)
  3. Spray/stick sunscreen: Who ever invented these is just plain genius. Getting my kids to stand still is hard enough. Adding the promise of fun in the sun, sand, and water to the mix makes it next to impossible. So when given the choice of SPF’ing up the kids quickly and with minimal mess versus spending 10 minutes on each kid making sure the sunscreen is rubbed in all the way, I’ll take the first option every time.
  4. Stroller frames: I’m talking about the frames — and just the frames — that you can put your infant car seat into to make a stroller, NOT a travel system that has an actual stroller (that can be used without a car seat) in which an infant seat can fit. Stroller frames are super light, way more compact than a travel system stroller, and easy to use when you’re down to just one hand.
  5. Crayons: Whether at a restaurant, the doctor’s office, in the car, or at home, crayons can keep my kiddos busy for significant amounts of time. And this totally trumps the horrendous amount of “art work” that results. Or the accidental marks on the walls and furniture. (And yes, it’s good for creativity, too.)
  6. Portable DVD players: With family all over, we travel in the car a lot. When I started making 5+ hour trips alone with the kids, we invested in a portable DVD system. We only break it out for long trips, so it’s become a special treat when we use it. And let me tell you, it has been a lifesaver.
  7. Fans: We have them in all of the bedrooms for white noise to help buffer any noise in the rest of the house while the kids are sleeping. We’re probably creating our kids’ first addiction, but hey, they’re sleeping.
  8. Netflix: Real-time tv? Fugghetaboutit (or however you spell that). Netflix is awesome because when my kids do watch tv, we can control the shows they can pick from. And, Netflix can travel with you wherever you go, you know like when you go to a relative’s house and there isn’t anything on but news or crime shows. Netflix provides instant options, and on many different devices.
  9. Dishwashers: Three kids and three meals a day, plus snacks and random pretend play with all the things in the kitchen make for a lot of dirty dishes. And if you have a baby with bottles thrown in the mix? Horrendous. When we lived in Philly we didn’t have a dishwasher — but we only had one kid at that point. I cannot even imagine doing all of the dishes now by hand. Cannot. First-world problems, I know, but I really am grateful for our dishwasher!
  10. Minivans: Pre-kids I swore I would never ever ever own a minivan. Now? I cannot imagine life without one. The automatic sliding doors and back door opener alone have made my life easier. Not to mention all of the room in there. Plus the V6 and all-wheel drive. Awwwww yeah. 🙂


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Shiny, Happy, Sparkly, Feel-Good Friday: 9/27/13

Happy, happy Friday. We had a great week here, and hope you did, too!

Some things that made me happy:

It was walk-around-with-things-on-your-head week for the baby.

It was walk-around-with-things-on-your-head week for the baby.

Fun with peek-throughs at the fall festival.

Fun with peek-throughs at the fall festival.

More fun at the festival.

More fun at the festival.

Brudders goofing around.

Brudders goofing around.

Trying to nap among the dinosaurs.

Trying to nap among the dinosaurs.

Showing off the shirt I made her for dress-like-a-cow day at school (which was in prep for their spirit night at Chick-fil-A).

Showing off the shirt I made her for dress-like-a-cow day at school (which was in prep for their spirit night at Chick-fil-A).

And some things that made you happy:

Kelly from MD: Cheers to finally getting a good shot of all three!  Alex, Abigail, and Leah

Kelly from MD: Cheers to finally getting a good shot of all three! Alex, Abigail, and Leah

Julianne from MD: Finding Nemo at the Baltimore Aquarium.

Julianne from MD: Finding Nemo at the Baltimore Aquarium.

As always, thanks to those who submitted some happiness! Please keep it coming. Until next week…

Fridays on Raising Wild Things are Shiny, Happy, Sparkly, Feel-Good Fridays! Since parenting can sometimes suck the  life out of me, I wanted to do these posts as reminders of the good, the great things that happened during the week amid all the crazy, exhausting, sometimes frustrating, sometimes maddening, sometimes head-exploding moments that seem to linger in my memory and can put me in a mommy funk. What makes you happy? Please share!


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That’s What He Said: Fodder 4 Fathers

Today I have Adam from Fodder 4 Fathers in the interview chair. Adam was the first daddy blogger that I connected with when I started blogging. I follow his Facebook page daily and absolutely love keeping up with his kiddos’ crazy antics. Adam has been a great support, and I’m so happy to share his, ummmm, let’s just call them “interesting” responses to my weirdo questions.

F4F photoAdam is the founder of Fodder 4 Fathers.com. With his message of parental equality, Adam champions the involved dad, spreading his message of hope to thousands of mothers and fathers daily on both his Facebook page and website. Armed with just the simple idea that moms and dads could talk as equals when it comes to parenting, he has quickly created one of the most respected parenting communities on the Internet. A proud Canadian, born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Adam shares his life (and the workload) with his working wife, Jessica, and their two small children, affectionately known by their fans as “DD” and the “Lil F’er.” (Don’t worry, that stands for “Little Fodderer!)

And here’s what he said:

1. A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

“Everyone has an El Guapo (see The Three Amigos). Yours is a penguin wearing a sombrero and he’s collecting all those sardines in tomato sauce that no one eats in your house for the local food shelter.”

2. If my family and I came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?

The blandest meal possible so no one would be plugging up my bathroom all night.

3. Pick two celebrities to be your parents.

Tom Cruise and John Travolta. I always wondered what it would be like to have religious, gay dads.

4. If you could only smell one smell for the rest of your life, what would it be?

My own farts. (Ok, ewwwww.)

5. King Kong vs. Godzilla? Who wins?

Godzilla. He doesn’t let his relationships distract him from his work.

6. What number am I thinking of right now?

11.

7. How many diapers, stacked one by one, would you need to reach the moon?

That depends on whether or not they are pee soaked…

8. Best cartoon dad?

Barbapapa. He could turn in to sh@#. And not in that crappy Wonder Twin kind of way.

9. You’ve been asked to modernize the Twinkie; what’s your plan?

I don’t like Twinkies. I prefer King Dons. But after watching that dog scene in Van Wilder, I might have an idea or two.

10. What three tv shows best describe your life?

All I will say is I watch a lot of Argentinean soap operas when everyone else is asleep.

For more from Adam, please check out his website and his Facebook page. Thanks so much, Adam!

The idea for my “That’s What She (or He) Said” Interview series was born one evening when I was extremely tired and had a(nother) slight case of writer’s block. I really wanted to publish something, but even though I had 6 or 7 posts in the works, nothing was quite ready to publish. And I didn’t want to publish something half-assed just for the sake of publishing. So I decided it’d be fun to start doing some interviews. The point of these interviews is to introduce you to some of the talented writers whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting these past few months. (And by “meeting,” of course I mean virtually.) But I don’t want any humdrum interviews, so the questions I ask are completely whacky and off the wall. Some of the questions I’ve found online, and some I’ve made up. I hope you enjoy them! To see the other interviews in the series, please click here


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Too Tired to Try Tuesday: Scribble Lanterns

When I came across these adorable little lanterns from Valarie at A Place Like This, I just knew I wanted to share them with you. Fair warning that this craft is a little more involved than the ones I have shared in the past, but the end result really is fantastically cute and perfect for fall.

scribble lantern

Photo courtesy of Valarie at A Place Like This

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 18 x 12 manila drawing paper
  • Tissue paper in a variety of colors
  • Double stick tape
  • Scotch tape
  • Glue or Glue Dots
  • Scissors
  • Leaf or other pattern for tracing and cutting into lantern
  • Poster board
  • Pencil
  • Variety of color crayons
  • Flickering LED light (optional)

Then you do some scribbling, folding, cutting, tracing, and gluing, and you’ll end up with this adorable lantern. For added fun, add a little flickering LED light!

To see Valarie’s complete tutorial with step-by-step instructions and photos, please click here.

As always, if you try it, let us know how it turns out. And send some pics!

I’m no cooking or crafting guru, so I started these Too Tired to Try Tuesday posts to share craft and recipe ideas that I’ve come across and would really like to try but am just too damned tired (that sounds better than lazy, right?) to get around to. In addition to ideas that I find, I am open to submissions from you–either something tried and true or something you want to try but haven’t had the time to. Just send me an email at raisingwildthingsblog@gmail.com with your ideas, and I may share them here. (And by “may” I mean “will definitely”! I just confessed how lazy tired I am, so if you take the time to send me something to share, I’m going to share it!)


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To Bus or Not to Bus: That is the Question (Again)

Ever since my oldest discovered the existence of school buses, she began asking me when exactly she’d be able to take one to school. “When can I wide one?” my innocent little 2-year-old would ask, full of awe and excitement. “Oh, when you’re older sweetie,” I’d say. And that answer held her for a little while, but then she started asking, “But when, mamma?! When will I be older?” And so then I switched my response to, “Probably when you’re 5 and go to kindergarten.” I really didn’t want to think about putting my baby on a school bus ever, even when she turned 5, and luckily, 3 years was a long way off.

And then it wasn’t. It was almost as if I sneezed and we were instantly transported into the future — just weeks before Belle was to start kindergarten, and there we were, faced with the decision I didn’t really want to make: To bus or not to bus?

bus

But as far as my daughter was concerned, the decision had already been made. I had told her she could ride the bus when she turned 5 and was going to kindergarten, and that was that. In fact, over the years, her constant questions asking when she could ride the bus simply turned into statements of fact: “I’m going to ride the bus when I go to kindergarten.” Clearly she did not pick up on the fact that I had initially said she could “probably” ride the bus when she turned 5, nor did she pick up on my own fear and hesitation for her to actually do so. (Which, btw, I was grateful for.)

My daughter was clearly excited about riding the bus — seriously, whenever anyone would ask her what she was looking forward to most about starting school, she’d say, “I get to ride the bus.” She’d even walk up to strangers in the grocery store or at the park and say, “I’m starting kindergarten soon, and I get to ride the bus.” I am not exaggerating when I say that the girl was obsessed with riding that damn bus. Bus, bus, bus, bus, bus — it’s all we heard about for weeks and weeks before school started.

And my husband was all in on the bus idea, too. “But what if she gets scared?” I asked him. “How will she know what to do when she gets off the bus at school?” “What if she gets lost on the way to her classroom? It’s so far from the bus drop off!” “How will she find the right bus at the end of the day?” “What if she misses her stop?” “What if the older kids are mean to her?” “What if the bus gets a flat tire and the bus driver doesn’t have a phone on her to call for help and she’s stuck on the bus for hours and hours not knowing what’s going on and is scared and crying?” I threw all my fears at my husband in hopes of swaying him in the other direction. But my questions didn’t phase him. “Kids have been riding the bus for decades, they figure it out,” he said. And then he added, “I think it’s mommy who isn’t ready for the bus, not Belle.” Grrrrrrr.

But of course, he was right. I knew in my head that Belle would get the whole bus thing down within a day or two, and this was a part of tradition, of growing up, but my heart just wasn’t ready to let her go out into the big, scary world of elementary school on her own. I wasn’t ready for her to do this, but she was. And so, we decided she could take the bus.

And aside from some tears (mine, of course) on the first day of school, we got our whole bus routine down within a few days. Every day I put Belle on the bus, and every day — wouldn’t you know — she meets me at the end of our street, bounding off the bus to tell me about her day. She has never gotten lost getting from her bus to her class or from her class to her bus. She has never missed her stop. And she has never been stranded on the bus for hours due to a flat tire. Everything has seemed to be just peachy.

But? (Unfortunately, there is a but.) Just last week, Belle did something she shouldn’t have, and in the middle of me talking to her about it, she broke into tears and, completely off topic, starting telling me that there was a boy on the bus who had been mean to her and many of the other kids and that she didn’t want to ride the bus any more. She wanted me to start driving her. “I know I really wanted to ride the bus,” she sobbed (sobbed!) to me, “but I don’t want to ride a bus like that!”

My first thought was, “Who the hell is this kid? I will make sure he never bothers you again. And of course I will drive you to school.” I didn’t say this to her, of course. Instead I asked her how the boy was mean to her — because you know, sometimes kids say other kids are “mean” if they don’t want to play with them or if they don’t hear them say something and so then don’t respond. You know, pretty benign things. And my daughter can be really sensitive about that sort of stuff. But nope, Belle said the boy would try to throw water at her and some of the other younger kids, and he had even hit a neighbor of ours. And when I asked around, a few other neighbors mentioned they had heard similar stories from their kids about this little boy.

That was it. It was settled. Belle wouldn’t be riding the bus any more. I would make sure of it. But after discussing it with my husband, who also got riled up about someone being mean to his little girl, he made the valid point that if there really is a problem, we shouldn’t have to pull our daughter off the bus, rather the boy who is causing the problems should be pulled from the bus. And even more, our first step should probably be to speak with the bus driver before making any rash decisions.

Man, the husband was on a roll. Right again. And so, the next morning, just this past Friday, we headed to the bus again. Belle was hesitant, but I told her that I would speak to her bus driver, and we should see how the next few bus rides went. After getting all of the kids on the bus, I had a chat with the bus driver. I let her know what Belle and other kids in the neighborhood had told me and their parents, and I asked that she pay particular attention to this kid to make sure he didn’t continue with the questionable behavior. She didn’t respond with the concern I had expected, but she said very matter-of-factly that she’d take care of it. And so, I sent my baby on her way again, with a slight lump in the throat, I’ll admit, and prayed she’d have a good ride to and from school.

I was anxious to pick her up at the end of the day, but she seemed fine when she got off the bus. When I asked her if the little boy gave her or her friends any problems she said, “no,” and promptly ran to catch up with her friends so they could walk to the other end of the street together. Phew, I thought.

But of course (yes, another but) over this past weekend Belle was back to telling me she didn’t want to ride the bus any more. And so we’re back at the crossroads we found ourselves at the beginning of the school year: To bus or not to bus? That is the question. Again.

On the one hand, my husband and I feel that this is something Belle needs to work through and figure out how to deal with. Not everyone is going to be nice to her, and she can’t avoid things every time someone is mean to her. (I should note here that, although I have not witnessed anything first hand, I do not have the sense that this little boy is consciously bullying the other kids — he is also a kindergartener, and I think he may be just one of those kids who plays a little rough and doesn’t have a sense of when “fun” teasing crosses the line and when he should stop. I am in no way condoning his behavior or saying that my daughter doesn’t have a right to get upset by it, but I wanted to put out there that I don’t have the sense he is a physical threat or danger to the other kids. At this point, anyway, with all of the information I have.)

On the other hand, we recognize that Belle is only 5, and if she doesn’t want to ride the bus any more — for whatever reason — we want to help her feel as safe and comfortable as possible and remove all cause for anxiety or unhappiness, even if she has just changed her mind and decided she doesn’t like riding the bus.

Our solution as of today is to give this some time to see if things get better on the bus and if Belle starts to enjoy riding it again. We’ll see how the next few days go and re-evaluate after that.

Have you ever had a similar experience with your kids? If so, how did you handle it?


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Shiny, Happy, Sparkly, Feel-Good Friday: 9/20/13

This week’s post is short and sweet. Enjoy.

Some things that made me happy:

My happy little man

My happy little man

My rock star girl

My rock star girl

My gargoyle

My gargoyle

And some things that made you happy:

Danielle from CA: Did you know yogurt was finger food? :)

Danielle from CA: Did you know yogurt was finger food? 🙂

Claire Kent from Sydney, Australia: How we woke up our son Saxon on the morning of his 2nd birthday party, and how we ended the day.

Claire Kent from Sydney, Australia: How we woke up our son Saxon on the morning of his 2nd birthday party, and how we ended the day.

Julianne from MD: My big man with his favorite animals-penguins. At the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

Julianne from MD: My big man with his favorite animals-penguins. At the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

From Chronically Sick Manic Mother: Look at all of the sweetness!

From Chronically Sick Manic Mother: Look at all of the sweetness!

The Allen girls from TN: Pizza Friday at Mellow Mushroom!

The Allen girls from TN: Pizza Friday at Mellow Mushroom!

As always, thanks to everyone who submitted some happiness! Please keep it coming. Until next week…

Fridays on Raising Wild Things are Shiny, Happy, Sparkly, Feel-Good Fridays! Since parenting can sometimes suck the  life out of me, I wanted to do these posts as reminders of the good, the great things that happened during the week amid all the crazy, exhausting, sometimes frustrating, sometimes maddening, sometimes head-exploding moments that seem to linger in my memory and can put me in a mommy funk. What makes you happy? Please share!


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Too Tired to Try Tuesday: No Butter, No Oil Yummy Pancakes

I’m always looking for ways to make comfort foods healthier without having them taste, errrr, healthier. If you know what I mean. I want the food to taste good AND be healthy! Is that too much to ask? I think not.

In looking for a recipe to share today, my friend JD from Honest Mom offered up one she created for healthier pancakes. Yes, healthy(er) pancakes. Now, she swears by them, and even her daughter declared them the “BEST PANCAKES EVER,” so I’m in. I think I’ll be giving these a go this weekend.

Photo courtesy of JD at Honest Mom

Photo courtesy of JD at Honest Mom

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup regular flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup natural, unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (JD uses Chobani)
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • Just under 1 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla (omit if you are using vanilla yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon wheat germ (optional – add more if you’d like or leave it out)
  • Blueberries, bananas, or other extras (optional)
  • Two mixing bowls
  • Whisk

Then you’ll do some whisking (dry and wet ingredients separately at first), some mixing, some griddling, and some flipping. And the end result: some extra thick, yummy pancakes.

To see the complete post with step-by-step instructions from JD at Honest Mom, please click here.

As always, if you try it, let us know how it turns out. And send some pics!

I’m no cooking or crafting guru, so I started these Too Tired to Try Tuesday posts to share craft and recipe ideas that I’ve come across and would really like to try but am just too damned tired (that sounds better than lazy, right?) to get around to. In addition to ideas that I find, I am open to submissions from you–either something tried and true or something you want to try but haven’t had the time to. Just send me an email at raisingwildthingsblog@gmail.com with your ideas, and I may share them here. (And by “may” I mean “will definitely”! I just confessed how lazy tired I am, so if you take the time to send me something to share, I’m going to share it!)