Monday, October 29, 2012

10 Things I Never Want to Hear Again (But Hear Every Day)

By Heather C.

My babies, ready for Halloween adventure
The moment I became a mother, I subjected myself to comments from strangers. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are basic: “How old is he?” – “Well, SHE is ___ months and in pink for a reason.” Some are just plain silly: “Oh my, where’d she get all that red hair from?” – As they stare at me, very much a red head myself impatiently waiting for an answer, “Must have been from her blonde daddy.”

But these past [almost] 12 months since becoming the mom of twins, the comments have taken on a whole new variety. There are some that directly relate to the twins themselves, some that relate to me as a twin mom, and others that are in relation to my family as a whole. Regardless of the intention of the comments, these ten are things I’d like to never ever have to hear again (but will likely hear today, if not by week end and probably for the rest of my life… Darn, blessed to the max with having amazing children and getting to be a mother but now I’m the conversation topic for all the little old ladies in Target.)

·         “Wow, you really have your hands full” Yes, it’s that obvious isn’t it? And it’s not funny, not now that I’ve heard it nine times just since getting out of my car. Maybe hold the door open for me rather than waste my time with your annoying attempt at humor?

·         “Are they twins?” Nope, I just happened to find two babies the exact same age, with amazingly similar looks, put them in the same outfit and loaded them into a double stroller because I needed another reason for unwanted attention.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Reflections on the First Birthday of My Youngest Child

By Rachael

Me with my girls
My second and youngest child turns one year old on Saturday. This fall has brought with it a flurry of memories and reflections. Perhaps it’s because Abigail is possibly our last baby, or perhaps it’s simply a rite of motherhood.

Small, simple things plunge me into October of last year. The brilliant red leaves on the maple tree outside our kitchen window and the smell of autumn in the air remind me of the final days of my pregnancy a year ago. My husband and I were awaiting something exciting and keenly aware these were our final days as a family of three.

I tried to make the most of my time with my oldest daughter, Megan. We spent hours playing in the back yard. Megan flitted about acting out the story of Rapunzel and swinging from the top of her play-climber-turned-enchanted-tower. I perched absentmindedly on the step and rested my hands on my belly, feeling the baby roll in her tight confines and wondering when labor would begin.

Megan and I also spent long afternoons watching Disney movies while we snuggled in the recliner, my body tired and round. I held Megan close, tucking away memories of how her slender little body felt in my arms and how her hair felt brushing against my cheek.  

Labor started at 2:15 the morning of October 27. About five hours later, Abigail was here. The nurses at the hospital complimented me on my “ideal” delivery: a relatively fast labor with an epidural for pain relief. I spent that afternoon snuggling and dozing with Abigail in my arms, and I awoke when my husband, Josh, and Megan arrived to visit late in the afternoon. Megan grinned as soon as she saw Abigail and me, and she climbed into bed with us for a closer look at her new sister.

Those first days after delivery were idyllic. I was confident as a mother, having gone through the newborn phase once already. I reveled in the flurry of Facebook congratulations and ate French toast almost every day at the hospital. There was Abigail’s 24-hour readmittance to the hospital for jaundice treatment, a simple but annoying setback. Finally, on Halloween night, she was released and we all came home as a family for good. Josh picked Abigail and me up from the hospital. In the back seat, Megan sat wearing her princess costume and clutching a shopping bag full of treats she had collected in our neighborhood.

Thursday Three: Reasons I Appreciate My Mom More Than Ever

My mom and my youngest in July
Photo by Amy Straka Photography
By Katie

My mom came to town last week and stayed for a few days. My husband, kids and I live in Florida. My mom lives in Indiana. Needless to say, most of our communication is done through text messaging these days. So the occasions when she comes to town are very special to my family.

We did not do a whole lot while she was here but it was a quality visit. I cried in the car after dropping her off at the airport. My kids were bummed that Gramma Sally had to leave. Even my husband seemed a little down when he loaded her suitcase in the back of the car.

Maybe it is the distance that has made my heart grow fonder, but it seems that I cling more desperately to the moments I spend with my mom these days. Every time I see her, I am reminded of my own childhood and often see the parallels between her life then and my life now. I admire her as a mom, woman and friend. A few things that I appreciate her for are always fresh in my mind following these visits, including:
  1. Her hard work as a stay-at-home parent. I cannot say that I ever really appreciated all the daily things my mom did for my brothers and I in our younger years. What kids ever do? But now that I walk in her footsteps, all the mundane details mean more. Every dish, every fight I break up, every hour of the day that I wonder what happened to my quiet little cubicle... every moment of self-doubt as a parent at home makes me understand what my own mom must have felt too. At least I have Facebook to get instant encouragement in the form of "likes" and through reading about the horrible tantrums other friends' kids have thrown. Back in the 80s, I think life as a stay-at-home parent must have been a bit more lonely -- but I never heard her complain.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Little Pumpkin

Photo submitted by Rachael

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Monday, October 22, 2012

The Princesses Don’t Parent

By Heather C.

I just removed “The Little Mermaid” from our DVD player to put in “Cinderella.” My oldest is dressed up in her “Sleeping Beauty” play clothes and we are reading a “Beauty and the Beast” pop-up book. Yes, it’s safe to say that we are a princess family.

Sure, it’s a multi-million dollar industry that stamps their name on everything from toothpaste and underwear to dolls and shirts but is there really any harm in it? I don’t mind spending money on Disney items. They are some of my daughter’s favorite characters. Heck, they are still some of MY favorite characters. I was born in the 80s. “The Little Mermaid” was the first movie I ever saw in theater. To say that the princesses impacted my childhood would be putting it lightly.
My fellow blogger Rachael talked about the issues of princesses in a post here last week and I have to respectfully disagree with what she said about the adverse effects princess culture have on our kids.

Of course I’m just one person but at no point in my childhood or adolescence did I feel insecure or not as pretty as the Disney Princesses. They are cartoons. I never hated my life because my Prince Charming didn’t appear. I never questioned the monetary security of my family because I didn’t live in a castle. And just to clarify, I never felt like a maid fighting against step-sisters to finally get my chance at the world.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Problem with Princesses: Raising Daughters Amid All the Pink

By Rachael

Photo via
Somehow, princess stuff finds its way into our house. My 4-year-old has Little Mermaid and Sleeping Beauty dress-up outfits, Little Mermaid and Cinderella purses, princess books, a princess sleeping bag, and a plastic Cinderella play set complete with a doll-sized carriage and horses.

I did not purchase these items.

Before Megan was born, my husband and I vowed to abstain from princess propaganda. Still, kindhearted friends and relatives gave our daughter gifts, and strangers occasionally gave her stuff for free when we went to garage sales, because she’s just so cute, of course. So Megan owns a few princess items, but we don’t actively encourage her interest.

We don’t hate princesses. We actually love Disney animated movies. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites, particularly because it doesn’t promote the unrealistic notion of love at first sight. Back during my high school theatre days, my dream was to don one of Belle’s golden gowns and work as a cast member at Disney World. If I couldn’t be Belle, I’d settle for Cinderella.

So what do we have against princesses? Half of the trouble is the narcissistic and appearance-obsessed messages that lurk beneath the pink tulle. The other half of the problem is unrestrained marketing. About a decade ago, Disney executives bundled all their leading fairy tale ladies like Snow White and Belle into one enormous marketing exploit, and it’s now impossible to avoid princesses. They’re on clothing, bedspreads, shampoo bottles, pull-ups, crayons, vitamins, bandages, everything. Disney princesses have become synonymous with girlhood, with few other choices for preschool girls in the toy aisles, and all that pastel fluff provides a very limited view of girlhood.

Some moms love princesses and insist they’re a harmless phase young girls pass through. Others, like me, are wary. Parental opinions differ enough that the Christian Science Monitor suggests the “princess wars” may be the new mommy wars.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Stay-at-Home Dad: My Newest Mom Guilt

By Katie

As moms, we occasionally compare ourselves to other moms. Even the most confident mom throws a sideways look at another one that seems to have it all together and wonders how she does it.

Keeping Baby Happy
It happens with our friends that are also moms, it happens with our co-workers that are moms and it happens even with our own moms and moms-in-law. But what happens when the measuring stick isn't actually a mom at all? What happens when the person "showing you up" is a dad?

My husband works a lot during college football season and since those games are played on the weekend, that is when he is on the clock. As a result, this fall he is home three days during the week, and works a late shift on Friday which means he is here all day then too. Though he has worked from home at other points, this is the first time in our marriage that he has been home -- and not working -- during the days that we have all four kids here.

With my freelancing work really piling up, we decided that the days he is home, he will take the lead with the kids in order to free me up for work. This means getting two ready in the morning and making trips to two different schools, and handling return trips in the afternoon (with the aid of a carpool situation). When he isn't in the car, there is a very bored three-year-old girl and a four-month-old baby to keep him busy at home.

To top it off, we decided the three older kids were really overdue for swimming lessons, so on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he handles three different lessons at three different times away from home. Then there's the laundry. Ay yi yi. A girlfriend of mine stopped in a few weeks ago and there were a few freshly folded piles on laundry on my couch.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Five Ideas for a Peanut Butter Surplus

By Katie

I opened my pantry about two weeks ago to discover that we had eight jars of peanut butter at various states of use. Two were nearly empty, another one just opened and the seals on the others had not been cracked. It struck me as odd that we had so much peanut butter, especially since I had just sent three jars to school with my stepson for a food drive. We like Buy One Get One sales in our house; the house is also divided between extra chunky and smooth preferences. We also live in a hurricane zone, so too much peanut butter is not necessarily a bad thing. Still...

I wondered what I could do with all this peanut butter -- since I had it anyway. I found a few recipes that I liked and then asked readers on Facebook for suggestions. Here are five ways to use up those peanut butter jars, and likely still have some leftover:

1. Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars. Suggested by me, because I made them. I actually cheated a little bit, and bought a box of Jello No-Bake Cheesecake mix. I then looked up a fancy recipe on TLC for Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars and followed the directions for the peanut butter part, substituting my easier basic cheesecake kit. I think I could have made a better graham cracker crust from scratch, but they turned out pretty tasty. Either go my route, or use the official recipe for your own. This used up one cup of my peanut butter stash.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dear Mumbling Mommy: How Do I Handle Chores and Allowance?

Dear Mumbling Mommy,

We have a 2 year old, 5 year old, & 7 year old at home. With school in full swing, the older two have been asking more and more about getting an allowance. We've resisted for quite some time - assuming they should earn money and not just have it given to them; and they should clean up after themselves because they are part of the family. I'm worried about consistency issues for me (I don't want this to be a daily battle) and if we're sending the right message giving them money for things they should do as part of the family. What do you think?


Desperate Housewife
Hi there, Desperate Housewife --
The chore conundrum is one that many parents battle, especially with elementary-age children. As these kids start to understand the way the economy works, they want to be a part of it. The problem is that they are about 10 years too young to apply for a job as a grocery bagger. So they come to their parents instead -- you know, since parents have been looking for ways to get rid of all that extra cash burning a hole in their khakis.

A survey done by scheduling specialty company Cozi found that 87% of parents have their children do chores but 91% of parents think kids today do too few chores. Based on the findings, the average child starts doing chores at age 4.5. While  46% of parents pay an allowance, only one in three tie allowances to completing chores. I'm not sure why only one-third of parents surveyed made their kids earn the cash and I think you are on the right track by not simply handing it over with no strings attached.
The first piece of advice that I have is to make sure that earning money is a responsibility that falls on their shoulders -- not yours. You mention how tracking chores and doling out allowances could turn into a burden for you and that is certainly something to avoid. Part of earning a living is taking initiative -- not simply doing a prescribed task for an agreed upon amount of money. There are really two routes that you could take with kids this age.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thursday Three: Fall Crafts to Make With Your Kids

My daughter with her milk jug "pumpkins."
Fall is my favorite season. The cooler days beckon me to pour a cup of hot tea, sit down at the dining room table with my 4-year-old, and get crafty. I’m not typically a big crafter, but fall brings crafting possibilities that can easily double as décor. Here are a few projects we’ve busied ourselves with in my house, thanks to the wonders of the Internet:

1.       Jack-O-Lantern Milk Jugs. These look ahh-mazing. Save empty plastic gallon jugs and clean them out. Paint them with orange acrylic paint. (We tried using Crayola washable paint, but it rubbed off on my fingers when I handled the jugs.) Cut jack-o-lantern face pieces out of black construction paper and glue them on. Wrap a bit of green or brown tissue paper over the lid for a stem. Cut leaf shapes from green construction paper and poke them onto a pipe cleaner, and wrap the pipe cleaner around the lid, curling a section of pipe cleaner to look like a pumpkin vine.

Kick it up a notch by cutting out the back of the plastic jug. Put a votive candle inside for a glowing effect. Or let kids use the jugs to collect Halloween treats, but make sure you remove any lit candles first!

As Thanksgiving approaches, be sure to save a few extra jugs from your recycling bin so you can make milk jug turkeys, too!

2.      Leaf-Stringing Game. Purchase at least a dozen fake fall leaves from the craft store (I bought two dozen), along with a roll of fall-themed ribbon (it doesn’t have to be very long). Cut a length of ribbon and sew a button on either end, and cut a slit in each leaf so it can be threaded onto the ribbon. This is a good way to develop finger coordination, or fine motor skills. My 4-year-old mostly likes to fling the leaves around and pretend she’s jumping in a pile of leaves, but, oh, well. Make a long enough string of leaves and you have a nice garland to hang in the house.

Wordless Wednesday: Just Like Mommy

Photo submitted by Heather

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