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Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

As if my have-to-be-to-work-by-8 a.m. mornings aren’t enough, my children incessantly beg for breakfast. “I’m so hungry.” “I want cereal and juice.”

So, it got me thinking. What if I create a “kids’ cupboard,” where bowls, spoons and snacks are at their reach? Would it empower them to serve themselves or do they need mom to cater to them?

In this cupboard, I would place granola bars, fruit snacks, Nutri-grain bars and Cheese-its. Or, is this the precusor to “I’m not hungry” at dinner time?

The convenience of a kids’ cupboard is tempting. But is it worth the “I’m not hungry” at dinner?

What do you think?

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Crickets chirp, fireflies dance and the moon fades after 9 p.m. in the summer. So, of course, this means my children refuse to go to bed. “But it’s still light out, mom.” “I can still hear kids playing in the pool, mom.”

Ugh. I hate the summertime bedtime ritual. While I love sleeping in an extra half hour before work, I miss my alone time at night — to do homework, read, watch my junk T.V. and to reconnect with my husband.

So as my boys play “spy” until 11 p.m. or insist on watching “just a few more minutes” of  iCarly, I secretly curse summer. It’s such a paradox, since I love the warmth, sun and water fun it brings but hate the childhood freedom it affords.

Maybe I’m missing something. How do you stick to your schedules during summer? Or am I obessing over a useless cause?

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After three children, thousands of diapers and hundreds of bottles of Ibuprofen, I’ve developed some  parenting favorites. These simple, but fabulous, things have made my job as a mom so much easier.

Zoo pals plastic silverware — Yes. They endure the heat of the dishwasher and the sun, the filth from the bottom of the diaper bag,  the teething of toddlers and curious hands that want to see if they bend. I love this silverware. The various animals (from lions to elephants) make eating fun for my kids. And they’re great for potlucks and parties. We have “nice,” “adult” silverware, but it’s so much easier to give the kids plastic, especially when they insist on cutting their own food. And, of course, there’s plenty of pink to choose from, which makes my 2-year-old princess very happy!

Diaper wipes — Although we’re past diapers, I continue to buy these miraculous inventions. Did you know that diaper wipes clean marker off counter tops and walls? They even clean floors pretty well. And they’re perfect for car trips filled with apple dippers and summer nights when I’m just too tired for baths.

Camouflage bandages —  They even come in pink! I can’t tell you how many “owies” these bandages have cured. I realize it’s a mental panacea, but when my son is convinced his leg is going to fall off, these things do the trick. To boot, they feel like tough “Army guys” because they’ve got cool bandages (Band-Aids). And my daughter loves to cover her “skeeto bites” with the pink ones. I’ll easily pay less than $2 for mental and emotional peace.

Spray sunscreen — O.K. I’ll admit. This stuff is expensive. But it’s not messy! I hate applying sunscreen because it’s such a production. The kids can apply it themselves (with supervision) and it makes summertime fun so much easier.

A plastic bag  (without holes) in the car — I know it sounds strange. But we always keep a hole-less garbage bag in the car. It never fails. Someone eats too much candy and gets sick. Or a potty-trained kid suddenly can’t wait any longer. If nothing else, it works great for drive-through trash. Remember to check for holes: I learned this the hard way after a beach-, bacteria-filled vacation. 

Cool sticks and boxes — Who cares about fancy, expensive toys when you can find sticks in the yard and boxes from the new T.V.? My kids have turned sticks into swords, golf clubs, microphones, bats, light sabers….and on and on. And I think they enjoy the boxes their toys come in more than the toys. After all, boxes can serve as hideouts, forts and shields. In fact, when my oldest son was 2, I discovered he was stealing Pringles and eating them in this box fort, later named “Chip World.” So, I’m tempted next Christmas to put sticks in their stockings and wrap empty boxes.

Oxiclean — What diaper wipes don’t clean up, Oxiclean will. This stuff is amazing! What is it? I’ve gotten chocolate, blood, juice, ketchup, spit up and grass stain out of so many clothes, thanks to this cleaning miracle. I add it to my whites and I’m shocked at the results. So, to the makers of Oxiclean, thank you for saving me money on new clothes!

These are a few of my favorite things. But I’ve got more. Stay tuned. What are your parenting must-haves?

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Today is a tough day, for me and for my husband: Neither one of us has a dad to celebrate today. And we’re only in our early ’30s. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

We both lost our dads, three months apart, almost five years ago. And while the pain has mostly subsided, it’s days like this that the emotions, the memories, the laughter and the tears make a swirling return.

My dad was the best man I know. He was patient, kind, humble, intelligent, loving, respectful….I could go on and on. But, like everyone, he had flaws (which I realized as an adult). But in the eyes of daddy’s little girl, my dad moved the world.

So at our house, Father’s Day was a big deal. (So was Mother’s Day.) I realize now it’s because my parents respected each other and truly loved each other. They instilled in their daughters the importance of saying “I love you.”

Usually, the day was filled with homemade cards filled with mispelled words and smelly stickers, a boat ride (pre-boat it was a bike ride) and some of dad’s favorites. But what I remember most is the priceless gift of time. I remember dad’s smile as he thanked us for the cards. Or his laughter as we told him why we loved him so much. Or dad’s look of discomfort as he filled up on seconds.

And this is why I miss my dad. These are the moments I cherish. These are the moments I so wanted my kids to have with their grandpas.

But, at the same time, my kids are lucky to have these moments with their dad, who is also caring, loving, gentle and kind. They’re lucky to have a dad who can wrestle with them one minute and wipe away tears the next.

So, today, thank you to my husband for being an amazing dad.

And thank you, dad, for the memories. I’m sending Father’s Day wishes to heaven, complete with kissing hands from your grandchildren.

I love you.

Tip: (For those of you struggling with this, too, here are some good resources: http://www.parenthood.com/article-topics/fathers_day_without_dad.html.)

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Going to war

I have two fellow tell-it-like-it-is moms. And one of them left for war today. A whole year. Gone. I’m not talking about the war between siblings that results in bumps and bruises.

I’m talking the real thing: Iraq.  I am terrified for her. She will be the gunner, flying as a medic (whatever that means). Thanks to the media, I have terrible visions of what this entails. She told me it’s not like that, but she’s a mom. I think it’s innate to protect the ones you love, even when it means not being totally honest. (Two words: Santa Clause.)

I’ll say it again. She’s a mother. For the next year, her girls will perform in dance recitals, get ready for dances and deal with “dumb” guys — without their mom.

Can you imagine going a year without seeing your children? Understandably, she was an emotional wreck. Dad doesn’t make sandwiches the same, or tuck in kids the same, or read stories in silly voices the same. Dad is good. But dad sometimes doesn’t cut it.

While a part of me can’t understand her decision and is angry with her for leaving, I admire her strength, her courage, her ambition. She’s following her dreams, and for that, I have the utmost respect.

But when I see the girls at parties without their mom, it’s going to be hard. I vowed I would step in as best I could. But I’m not mom. Yes. I’m a mom. But I’m not their mom.

Sacrifice. It’s by far one of the most painful requirements of parenthood. I have made countless sacrifices for my children, but nothing like my Army girl.

So here I am, writing about spilled milk, while one of my best friends is on her way to a warzone. It puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

Please: Pray for all those who are fighting for our freedoms, who leave their daughters for a year so that we can enjoy the right to vote, the right to express ourselves without fear.

God speed.

Two tell-it-like-is moms

My Army girl and me, before war

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children, Kristen Parker

My three children

“Don’t cry over spilled milk.”

Before children, I thought it was just a cute phrase that parents said to calm down their children. But let me tell you: Spilled milk has created more tears in our house than bloodshed.

That’s what this blog is about. It’s about the real job of parenting.

When I was pregnant with my first child, unexpectedly of course, I read all the books. I learned when and what to feed him; how to get him to sleep through the night; how and when to punish. But once I had him, those books were moot. Until you’re a parent, you don’t get it. The books don’t matter. You have to do what’s right for you, and, quite frankly, for your sleep cycle.

In researching parenting blogs, I found several that focused on “how to raise the perfect children.” Parents who don’t allow sugared cereal, or chips or candy. Parents who never spank. Parents who don’t say no. Parents who strictly enforce the 8 p.m. bedtime.

It sounds so perfect. But, as I tell anyone, I am far from perfect and so are my kids.

Working more than 50 hours per week and going to graduate school, I’ve learned to give up control. I have an awesome stay-at-home dad who tries to instill some order in the chaos of a house dominated by three children. No, he doesn’t do things the way I would do them, but at least he does them.

So this blog will serve as an entertaining look into our family of five. We’ll show you that we’re not textbook parents. We spank. We yell. And, well, I enjoy a couple glasses of wine at night. My house is a mess.

But we cook every night. And our microwave broke months ago and we haven’t replaced it!

So we’ll also show you that we love unconditionally and that we allow our children to make mistakes. We lose it after a day of fighting and whining, but we always remember to say “I love you” at bedtime.

I wish someone had told me the truth about parenting, instead of having to read about the perfect parenting remedies. Perhaps it was post-partum depression, but after reading the books and the Parenting magazine stories, I felt worthless.

I subscribe to Parenting magazine and I read Dr. Sears. I even subscribe to parenting blogs. But rarely do I find parents willing to tell it like it is.

What do you really do when your child says he hates you? How do you really punish her when she runs into the street after her bouncing basketball?

These are things I want to know. I’m taking a leap of faith with this blog, but I’m hoping I’m not the only mother who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.

So I welcome your blogging ideas and your input (whether you agree or disagree).

Spilled milk causes tears. But so does reading about “perfect children” that I don’t have.

My kids are awesome. And I’m betting yours are, too. So let’s share levels of awesomeness.

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