"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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I’ve Got a Reality Show For You, Discovery Channel: “Alone with Kids and Afraid”

So, if you didn’t know, the Discovery Channel has this new show right now called Naked and Afraid. Basically, they take two strangers — one man and one woman — and strand them in some remote “extreme weather” location for 21 days and film how they go about surviving. Oh, and surprise, they’re naked. Quoting from the website: “In Naked and Afraid, these brazen and bold couples will get acquainted with each other and their new surroundings very quickly, forcing them to question and test everything they may think they know about their acquired survival skills and instincts.”

After watching every episode available marathon-style a few episodes, I came up with a great idea for Discovery’s next extreme reality show. I call it Alone with Kids and Afraid. The premise? You strand one single adult with 2-3 children and see how he or she survives everyday parenting challenges. Nudity won’t be required, but I’m not gonna lie, it’s highly likely.

I have a friend who works at Discovery Channel, so I’m definitely going to pitch this idea to her so she can float it up the awesome idea chain. And, to get them started, I’ve come up with 10 situations I’d like to see thrown at the contestants. How would your survival skills stack up in these challenges?

Alone and Afraid


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15 Things I Really Dig About My Husband

My husband and I have known each other since middle school. (Yeah, we’re one of those couples.) When we first started “dating” (or “going with each other,” if I’m going to use accurate terminology from back in the day), we hardly knew each other. I knew he was cute and smart and played soccer. And shy. But not much else. Over the past 20 years, we’ve certainly learned a lot about each other.

And there are certainly a lot of reasons I love my husband. Like the givens — he’s kind, thoughtful, considerate, intelligent, romantic; not to mention he works hard to take care of our family, he’s an amazing father, and he just really gets me. He ain’t bad to look at either. But there are also a lot of things he does that solidify the fact that we both chose correctly in the game of life. And so I dedicate this post to sharing some of the things I really dig about my husband. Things that aren’t the givens. And really, this list is just scratching the surface.

David

In no particular order:

  1. He insists on bringing in all of the groceries from the car himself. And always in just one trip.
  2. He does all the driving.
  3. He’ll choose to drive the car with no ac and the cats for our 8+ hour road trip during our move so the kids and I can ride in comfort. Every single time.
  4. Every night he asks if I need anything before he goes up to bed as I stay up doing work (or blogging).
  5. He automatically assumed responsibility for the trash. And anything requiring muscle around the house.
  6. Even though he’s allergic to bees, he insists on being the one to go out and spray the hornets’ nest outside our back door.
  7. He takes the kids out to the park or on long drives when he knows I need some time alone.
  8. He knows I prefer fountain sodas to bottles or cans and always brings one home to me just when I need it.
  9. He always lets me have the last bite.
  10. He offered to give me his brand new phone and go back to his old phone when our 5 yo inadvertently dropped mine on the concrete and busted it all up.
  11. He can always, always make me laugh.
  12. He has never thought twice about having to switch sides of the bed every time we move so that I can sleep furthest from the door.
  13. Speaking of beds, he’s accepted the fact that I need to sleep with pretty much all of the pillows. And blankets.
  14. He always walks on the outside of the street closest to the oncoming traffic.
  15. When we’re out and about without adequate stroller coverage, he will carry the big kids when they get tired — both of them — all around however long we’re out and about.

Love you, babe! TTM&S. Forever.


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Some Things I Learned During Our Move from CT to VA

So, we moved. And I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me whine about it. So I won’t anymore. But I do want to share some things I learned in case they prove useful to anyone planning a move soon.

moving lessons

  1. Do whatever you have to do to get whatever amount of money you need to hire people to do the whole move for you. Your back and sanity will thank you.
  2. Related: To be safe, double whatever estimate the moving company gives you.
  3. Stock up on those big-ass, heavy-duty black contractor bags. Because no matter how much you do before M-Day (that’d be Moving Day), it’s never enough. You will no doubt be “packing” all sorts of crap in those big contractor bags by the end of the day. And if you’re diligent, they won’t get mistaken for trash bags.
  4. Call in all of your favors with relatives and friends to get your kids out of the house during the actual move. (And if you have amazing parents like mine, perhaps they’ll drive up to CT from VA for the sole purpose of driving your two oldest kids back down to VA and keeping them at their house for a few days!)
  5. If you’re going to lock yourself out of house 30 minutes before the movers are due to arrive, make sure you have your baby with you and that your husband is only halfway to the dump when you call him to come let you back in the house.
  6. Try to plan a nice last meal at the house you’re leaving. We kept ours classy by pairing Chinese food with champagne out of plastic cups.
  7. Keep an air mattress, pillows, and blankets handy in case you unexpectedly have to stay an extra night in the house you’re leaving.
  8. When choosing which car to drive the 8+ hours it will take to get to your new house, ensure your husband picks the car with no a/c. And the cats.
  9. If you don’t like country music, you might want to go ahead and give it a try. No matter where you’re driving, there always seems to be a country station to listen to.
  10. You may want to avoid New Jersey until the cicadas make their way back underground. The entire cicada population seems to have descended on the Garden State.
  11. There is a city in Pennsylvania called Shartlesville. C’mon, that might be the best piece of useless information you learn all day.
  12. Apparently I look old enough to be called ma’am. By everyone.
  13. It gets really dark when you live someplace with no outside street or other background lights. Like you’d probably want to buy stock in nightlights.
  14. Leave yourself 5-100 days for Comcast to get your order correct. And your service actually up and running.
  15. Move to a state like VA where even after eating crap food on your road trip and crap food the whole first week in your new house you still end up 2 lbs down. Must be the altitude difference or something. I don’t really care. I’m going with it.
  16. Prepare for the inevitability of losing your keys among the bags and boxes that will overtake your new house, and go ahead and have at least 12 spares made.
  17. Ensure you live near a Super Walmart or the like since you will spend most of your waking hours there the first few days.
  18. Speaking of waking hours, there will be many. Between trying to get everything done and your kids going bonkers (see #19 below), you’ll long for the days of sleeping in and lazy afternoon naps.
  19. Your kids will, more than likely, go batshit crazy the first week or so from all of the changes. (Actual duration: yet to be determined.) Keep some popsicles and lollipops on hand for them, and some beer or wine (or something even harder if that’s what it takes) for you.
  20. Perhaps most important, make sure your kids have their clothes on before going out to meet the neighbors.


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12 Simple Pleasures as a Mom that Make Me Feel Like a Rock Star and Deserving of a High-Five

As I sat down yesterday at 9 in the morning after having finished up some laundry, unloading and loading the dishwasher, and cleaning all three of the litter boxes (did it sink in that this was all before 9 in the morning?!), I was feeling pretty good about myself. Very accomplished. And then I got to thinking about all of the other simple pleasures that make me feel like a rock star now that I’m a mom. I came up with 12. Because, 10 is just so common these days. 😉 What makes your list?

simple pleasures


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20 Reasons Cats Have Superior Potty Skills Compared to Kids

We have two cats. And I used to hate cleaning their litter boxes. And then we had kids. Now I see just how good I have it with the litter boxes.

cat potty skills

In no particular order:

  1. They don’t need their butts wiped.
  2. They don’t pee all over the toilet seat and leave it for you to sit in.
  3. They don’t run into the bathroom while you’re in there doing your business because they have to go so bad and can’t make it to one of the other unoccupied bathrooms that they actually passed on the way to the one you are currently using.
  4. They don’t consistently clog your toilet with toilet paper. Or Legos.
  5. They don’t wipe their paws on their butt and show it to you.
  6. They don’t ever ask you to come see what has just come out of their butts.
  7. They don’t pee or poop in the bathtub.
  8. They don’t use going to the bathroom as an excuse to keep getting out of bed.
  9. They don’t want to have a 30-minute conversation about their poop’s texture or color or smell while they’re pooping.
  10. They don’t need to be reminded to go to the bathroom all the time.
  11. They don’t need sticker charts or M&Ms to be enticed to do their business on the potty.
  12. They are not obsessed with using public restrooms.
  13. They don’t ever forget to poop the first time and then ask you to take them back to the bathroom 30 seconds later.
  14. They don’t wake you up in the middle of the night because they’ve fallen into the toilet.
  15. They don’t require you to buy 800 rolls of toilet paper every week.
  16. They don’t leave skid marks.
  17. They don’t have to be told all the time not to take food into the bathroom.
  18. They don’t accidentally drop things in the toilet while going to the bathroom.
  19. They don’t need the world around them to pause while they go to the bathroom.
  20. They don’t feel compelled to tell complete strangers about their poop.

Disclaimer: After getting some pretty funny and accurate rebuttals to this one, I figured I should mention that the kids in question here are preschoolers and toddlers, and the cats in question are not psychos. (Although I understand there is an argument to be made that all cats are psycho, lol.) Maybe the title of this post really should have been “20 Reasons MY Cats Have Superior Potty Skills Compared to MY Kids”?


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35 Reasons My Kids Won’t Eat What You’ve Made

Hey, don’t take it personally if my kids won’t eat something you’ve made for them. Really, it’s not you, it’s them. And after 5 years, I’ve begun to crack the code on why my kids sometimes don’t eat their food. Here’s what I’ve learned so far . . .

won't eat

  1. It looks funny
  2. It smells funny
  3. It feels funny
  4. It tastes funny
  5. It’s too mushy
  6. It’s too hard
  7. It’s too hot
  8. It’s too cold
  9. It’s too spicy
  10. There’s too much
  11. There’s not enough
  12. There’s green stuff in it
  13. There’s brown stuff in it
  14. There’s orange stuff in it
  15. There’s yellow stuff in it
  16. There’s red stuff in it
  17. They ate it yesterday
  18. They’ve never had it before
  19. Their friends don’t like it
  20. There’s no ketchup to go with it
  21. It’s not covered in chocolate
  22. They can’t pronounce it
  23. They’re full
  24. They have belly aches
  25. Their mouths hurt
  26. Their throats hurt
  27. Their hands are broken
  28. They don’t like the utensils
  29. The dog won’t eat it
  30. The cat won’t eat it
  31. They want something else
  32. It “accidentally” dropped on the ground
  33. They’re saving it for later
  34. It’s on their plate and not yours
  35. The dessert you’ve promised them if they eat it all is not adequate