Monday, October 28, 2013

The Problem with the Male Species

Men are just dumb  different than women.  This was illustrated in a whole new way to me last weekend.  I was putting my kids to bed and I had read about how important it is to make sure your kids know that you love them unconditionally.  With this in mind, one night I stroked my daughter's cheek and said in a soft voice, "Honey, I want you to know that I will always love you, no matter what.  Even when I'm mad or sad, or even when I'm working.  I always love you and NOTHING will change that."

My daughter got this huge smile on her face and just basked in the glory of my unconditional love. It was a very tender moment and I swear I had never seen her look so happy.

When went into my son's room, things got interesting.  I said the exact same thing to him, and I was expecting a similar response.  Instead, he got this sort of naughty grin on his face and said, "But Mommy, would you love me even if I pooped on your face?"

He giggled hysterically and as I searched for the proper response to that question, he continued to give me poop scenarios.  "But would you love me if I pooped in the dog bowl?  If I pooped on the kitchen table?"  You get the picture.  He was really getting a kick out of himself and when I left his room that night he was still laughing.

So the next time your husband forgets to tell you he loves you, just remember what he was like as a little boy.  I guess they just don't have the same sentimental needs as we do, and I think I can live with it, now that I am reminded about the true nature of men.  They really are weird.

Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
Enter your email address:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Confessions of the Kitchen-Challenged Mommy

I swear I've tried to become a good cook.  Over the years I have bought multiple cookbooks, I joined "Crock-Pot Girls" during that craze of 2011.  Plus, I'm brave in the kitchen.  I try new recipes and I even cook every night.  They say practice makes perfect, right?? Yet my poor family still reluctantly has to eat every churned, lifeless item I put in front of them since skill in the kitchen continues to elude me and I have analyzed it and broken it down to these core weaknesses:

  • Whenever a recipe calls for a spice or some weird ingredient I've never heard of, I just leave out that ingredient.  I figure this is just proof of my creative bravado in the kitchen.  My husband, on the other hand, figures that this is why my recipes never turn out (although every time he says this he looks like a scared kitten, suddenly cornered by an aggressive and overly-handsy toddler, so I'm not sure his opinion counts)
  • I have had ants in my pantry for weeks.  Every time I find them in the sugar, the pancake mix, or whatever, I remove the offending item, then I half-heartedly clean the shelf that item was on, and for some reason I convince myself that this will take care of the problem.  What is wrong with me?  The truly mind-boggling thing about this is that my friends and family would tell you I'm a germaphobe.  Clearly I'm not a very devoted one.
  • I have massacred the same recipe wild rice casserole twice and for some absurd reason I tried it again last night, convinced I could do better.   I have no idea what I did wrong this time, but let's just say it took 2.5 hours for the water to absorb into the rice instead of the 30 minutes the recipe called for.  I finally threw that particular recipe into the trash.  Clearly a recipe with 6 ingredients is too challenging for me.
  • Similar to how I don't use irons, I don't use candy thermometers, food thermometers or anything of the sort.  I can't really figure out how they work so I just have faith that following the recipe will be enough.  I know what you're thinking.  I'm either deluded or I need to stop using recipes that call for candy thermometers and meat thermometers.
  • Whenever I make something that's awful, my poor husband does his best to grin and eat it.  I don't even bother.  Sometimes I would truly rather starve than eat my own creation so I guess that could be part of my problem.  
Never fear though.  I do make a mean green smoothie (which surprisingly the kids love) and I make a decent chocolate chip cookie so my family won't starve.  And I called someone to come out and take care of the ants.  Plus, I found a great place by my house that will make casseroles for me to bake at home.  Hallelujah.  

Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
Enter your email address:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Finally! A Breakthrough After Rock-Bottom!

Everything in life goes in cycles.  At least, that's what I keep telling myself.  After many months of relatively well-behaved children, suddenly we've had a rough couple of weeks with the kids.  For example:
  • Suddenly they are purposely trying to annoy the CRAP out of each other.  
  • I can't get my five year old daughter to go to bed at night.  She keeps coming back down, over and over with these supposed problems, just to stall her bedtime.  The other day she claimed she needed a band-aid and when I asked her where she wanted me to put it, she couldn't find the "ouchie" anymore.  Yeah, it must've been a pretty bad ouchie then.
  • Lots of whining, lots of "Mommmmmmyyyyyy!  I can't find my shooooooes!!!"
Honestly, I've been beginning to wonder why all my hard work wasn't paying off.  I really do my best to make them do things for themselves so they learn to be self-sufficient, I try to build up their self-esteem so they don't feel the need to try to get attention all the time, and I follow all the bedtime rules.  So why suddenly is everything wrong???

Then last night we finally had a break-through, and I'm telling you this so you can have hope too.  We had the attic fan on since it was a nice evening and all the doors and windows were open.  However, this meant that the doors weren't staying cracked open the way the kids like it at bedtime because the air in the house was pulling them shut.  I remember realizing this and thinking, "Uh-oh, she'll be visiting us about 10 times tonight and I'm sure that'll be one of her issues.  We'll have to figure out how to keep that door open."

But then I forgot about it and she never came down.  On my way up to bed later, I saw this when I glanced toward her room:

Now, this may not mean that much to you at first glance, but it meant the world to me.  Stupidly I even felt tears in my eyes, I'd never been so proud of my daughter and so happy that finally all my hard work was showing some results.  She obviously realized the door wasn't staying open the way she wanted, but instead of wandering down to whine to me and demanding that I fix it, she went into the guest bedroom, found a pillow, and figured out how to prop it open so it would be cracked.  Then, miracle of miracles, she went to bed!!!  

I've honestly never been so proud of her.  Talk about problem-solving skills, right!?!?  It made me think of the quote that my lovely co-author Susan Case found for our book:

"In everything you do in your family, keep in mind the miracle of the Chinese bamboo tree. After the seed for this amazing tree is planted, you see nothing, absolutely nothing, for four years except for a tiny shoot coming out of a bulb. During those four years, all the growth is underground in a massive, fibrous root structure that spreads deep and wide in the earth. But then in the fifth year the Chinese bamboo tree grows up to eighty feet!  Many things in family life are like the Chinese bamboo tree. You work and you invest time and effort, and you do everything you can possibly do to nurture growth, and sometimes you don't see anything for weeks, months, or even years. But if you're patient and keep working and nurturing, that "fifth year" will come, and you will be astonished at the growth and change you see taking place.”  ~Stephen Covey

For some ideas on ways to keep your toddlers and preschoolers busy, I hope you'll check out my book!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Our "Go-to" Project when Things Get Crazy

I'm the first to admit that sometimes doing "projects" with little kids is a waste of time and a pain in the @$!@.  On top of that, the kids often don't want to do the same project more than once so it's a hassle to keep coming up with new stuff.  However, I do have a "go-to" project that the kids never get tired of: painting.

I know what you're probably thinking..."Really?  Painting is such a mess!  I'm trying to make my life easier, not harder!"  But trust me, if done correctly, painting is a great way to calm everyone down and spend a very enjoyable 30 minutes.  The other day the kids woke up from naps and were just out of control.  They were wild, purposely irritating each other, and even climbing on the dog and not understanding that those gasping noises coming from the poor dog's throat were not normal.  That's when I pull out the paint.  I know it will calm everyone down and re-direct energy.  
To make it easy on yourself, first, just make sure you always keep your egg cartons and when you're ready to paint, just cut them in halves.  That way, when you're done you can just throw this right in the trash and don't need to spend any time rinsing out a paint container.  Each kid should get 6 slots for paint:

Next, make sure you have enough paint brushes so that each kid gets 6 of them.  Then they can keep them on a paper towel and you won't have to mess with a yucky paint cup for rinsing out each color so they don't run together.  Then you can just throw out the paper towel when you're done!

Then, once you get everyone set up, get out some blank papers.  You can draw something basic in pen for them like a heart, a star, a football, a caterpillar, a butterfly, a sun, etc., and they can paint them in.  Or you can just let them do their own:

Then, once you've got them all set up, sit down and put on some good music and do your own painting.  I was shocked the other day when I realized how happy and content I was during this project.  We sat peacefully for 30 minutes and I hummed some tunes and we all painted together.  And this is coming from someone who can't paint.  Or sing.  (Really, I'm terrible.)  But it's very soothing and the kids literally NEVER grow tired of painting!  And since I have the system worked out, it's relatively painless I promise!

For more ideas on easy projects with your little ones, please check out my book, The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble, and Motivated to Learn.

Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
Enter your email address:

Friday, July 12, 2013

9 Undeniable (and humorous) Life-Truths

  1. When you want to say (or post) something mean, just saying "No offense but..." in front of doesn't take away the sting.  Trust me, I've tried it.  They still get offended.
  2. You never look as tired as you feel.  Unless you're a Mom and you've been up all night and then you probably look both tired AND old.  No offense.
  3. Little boys get pee on their hand almost every time they pee standing up.  Be wary of letting a little boy's hands come anywhere near your face cause that's really just the beginning.
  4. Popsicles are magical.
  5. People aren't living as fun a life as it looks like on Facebook.  It's all an illusion so don't feel bad.
  6. Having a cell phone permanently attached to our hand probably make us better friends, but definitely worse parents.  (This became clear to me last weekend when my daughter fell off the table mid-text.  Does it make it better that I was texting another Mom to set up a playdate for her and that's why I didn't notice that she was up on the table???)
  7. Yawing and misery really are both very contagious.
  8. Hiccuping is not.  
  9. In the wise words of my friend Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around every once in awhile, you could miss it."  It really is true.
Happy weekend everyone!

Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
Enter your email address:

Friday, July 5, 2013

5 Great Books for Teaching Kids to Be Responsible and Nice

The other day I was reading a new book to the kids and since it was about 7:15 in the morning, I was reading mindlessly, (sort of like a Zombie had stolen my brain) until I came across this sentence, "Bear rolled his eyes at Franklin."  

Really?  Bear rolled his eyes??  There is nothing that gets under my screen like an eye roll.  It makes me want to slap the eyes right out of the offender's head.  Honestly, I'm trying to avoid having my kids turning into sassy teen-agers...why would I want to teach them to do start eye rolling while they're still in preschool?  Sometimes I really have to wonder who writes these books for kids.  I want to shake them them and scream, "What are you thinking?!?"

Since then, I've been on the hunt for books that actually teach good things and help me with the values I am trying to teach them anyway.  Here are my favorites:

1.  The Please and Thank you Book.  This one has several different stories and each of them teach a great lesson, such as cleaning up after yourself when you go to a friends house, not being mopey, trying new foods, etc.  The kids really like it and I try to read it to them every week or so and talk to them about what the page is really saying.

2.  This next book is another gem because it teaches how important it is for kids to help clean up around the house.  It shows them what a mess everything would become if no one helped Mom clean up.  Help around the house with cleaning?  Yes please!  :-)

3.  Minnie's Slumber Party - This is an oldie but a goodie.  It teaches the lesson of how important it is to include everyone, even new people.


4.  Eager Beavers - My kids hate it when Daddy leaves for work, and they especially hate it when I leave for work, but I'm always trying to help them understand that it's good to be a hard worker.  This books helps me teach that lesson.

5.  The Little Engine that Could - Again, an older book, but a great message.  I did find that my kids didn't know about some of the terms they used in this book since it's such an old one, so we had to really talk through the message.

What are your favorite books for teaching good morals?

For some great ideas on things to do with kids, please check out my book, The Happy Mommy Handook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble, and Motivated to Learn!

Monday, June 17, 2013

9 Things You REALLY Shouldn't Post on Facebook

Some days I love Facebook.  Other days I hate it and remove the App from my computer until I can't take it anymore and I admit defeat download it again.  In fairness, I mostly hate it because it makes me feel inadequate, like I'm not spending enough time at the zoo, at rock concerts, and at museums with my preschoolers.  Oh, and everyone is at a party without me that I wasn't invited to.  But I also hate it when people post about:
  1. Anything related to stomach flu/vomiting.  Especially don't post about diarrhea running down your kids' legs.  It's bad enough when it happens to my family without having to read about it on FB almost every day as it happens to other people.  It's making me into an agoraphobic who never wants to leave my house.  Plus it makes me want to avoid you for at least one month, for fear on contracting your gross diarrhea. 
  2. Weight loss pics.  I have honestly seen a thirty year old man pose in the mirror while taking a picture of his vastly improved but very hairy and disgusting stomach.  Are you my husband?  Then I probably don't want to see your stomach.  
  3. Naked baby pics.  There are so many issues with these...first, your kids will probably hate you later.  Second, privacy/weirdos goes without saying.  Lastly, it's never as cute as you think it is.
  4. Food pictures.  Are you a professional chef?  Great, then bring on the pics and thanks for the free advice.  Or, do you have a food blog with a super nice camera with free recipes?  Great!  Post on!  But if not, please don't post a pic of your home-made but gross looking wild rice casserole.  I made one for dinner too and it was equally gross-looking.
  5. A list of your daily accomplishments.  I really doubt anyone cares about all 15 of your boring daily tasks, especially dishes, vacuuming, etc.  I take that back.  Maybe your Mom would care so you should call her and she can tell you how proud she is.
  6. Vague, mean comments, directed to one person but no one know which one person.  An example: "If only I knew who my REAL friends were 15 years ago I would have saved myself a lot of time and heartache".  Now all 215 of your FB friends will be wondering if you're referring to them and what they could have possibly done to offend you.  This might be okay if you're fifteen years old and not very mature.  But even then, it's an iffy tactic. 
  7. Pretty much anything that requires a sad face afterward :-(.  It's not really the place for a pity party.  Again, call your Mom.  Especially if it makes people worried about you in a, "Do you think I should call her?  She sounds depressed," kind of way. 
  8. Bragging about your kid's ability to say the alphabet at age 2, walk at age 6 months, or anything "genius" related.  I mean, my kid is riding his bike without training wheels at age 3 but do you see me bragging about that on Facebook? (You're likely thinking,"No, but you're bragging about it on your blog!"  Point taken.  My bad, but seriously.  He's three.)
  9. Gross pics of your foot blisters (again, it's actually happened on my real FB page.) Spare us please those images can remain burned into an adult brain for days.
If you ever catch me doing any of these, please feel free to verbally abuse me and give me a thorough tongue lashing.  I can take it.  And for the record, I think politics is fair game.  This is America after all.  Cute kids pics and sarcasm are also welcome.


Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
Enter your email address:

Monday, June 3, 2013

New Ways to Play with Playdough

I was beginning to think there wasn't anything new we could do with Playdough until one day, just by accident, my kids discovered something new and fun to do with it.  To back up a little bit, I've been struggling with projects lately.  The kids (4 and 3) are growing up and as they do, they really love to ride their bikes, do bubbles, and mostly they are loving playing outside with their neighborhood friends.

Then one morning they woke up early and we had to think of something since everyone else was still sleeping.  We got out the Playdough and before I knew it, the kids were rooting through our craft bag for ideas and they came up with this:

They used their little hands to roll out a snake and then they meticulously stuck that snake with pins.  It took them a long time before they got tired of this game and I was glad because I knew that Little Buddy (3) especially needed the fine motor skills practice, so the he can learn to hold his crayons correctly eventually.  His gross motor skills are doing great with all his time at the park and on his bike, but he hasn't had the patience lately to work on fine motor skills.  I don't worry too much about it, since I know he has lots of time, but whenever I can sneak in a little fine motor skills, I always do!  Even Munchkin Girl (4) found this to be challenging and she had fun with this for at least 20 minutes before she ran to the front window to look for her friends.  

Other ways to practice fine motor skills include:
  • Pouring sand, water, salt, sugar, rice, or beans using bowls, funnels, spoons, cups, tubes, rolls, colander
  • Sorting small objects with interesting textures like cotton balls, pastas, sponges, and rocks placing them into egg cartons
  • Pushing objects through a slot like pennies or buttons into a Piggy Bank or container with a slit in lid; pushing pegs into a board
  • Picking up marbles and putting them in a jar; for variety, have child stand up and drop marbles into jar or drop balls or other small objects into container or sack
For more ideas on how other great fine motor practice and why it's so important, don't forget to check out my book, The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble, and Motivated to Learn!

This book has been a best-seller on Amazon and has some really wonderful reviews from readers just like you!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Life is a Journey, not a Hassle

A few years ago my husband was full of Halloween ideas. He wanted to carve pumpkins and even get dry ice and a cauldron.  My kids were 1 and 3 at the time.  Really? I asked him.  Is that really necessary?  The kids were too little to use a knife for carving so they'd have to watch quietly while Daddy carved and they didn't understand what Halloween even was.  Plus, I knew I'd be left the one cleaning up the giant mess they made.  That was the real problem.  I was just so tired.  Tired of cleaning, tired of the whining, tired of everything.  I just wanted to make life easier.  What I didn't understand at the time is that I was making life really, really boring for my husband and everyone around me.

Life went on like this for a long time.  I would usually give in and just grudgingly clean up the mess until my legs ached at the end of the night and I would think how much easier life would be if we would just trying to do all this special stuff.  Of course, I did do lots of fun things with the kids.  I took them to the zoo, to the park, to the library, but that was the thing.  I could handle the daily stuff.  I just couldn't handle anything extra, like Holidays or Vacations.  

Until my trip to Charleston a few years ago.  My parents and I planned to visit my brother and I was taking only Munchkin Girl.  As usual, I agreed to go, but my heart wasn't in it.  I just wanted to stay home and do our daily life, which was manageable to me.  I didn't want to get us packed, deal with airport travel, and get everything ready for the babysitter while I was gone.  I wasn't looking forward to sleeping the same room as my daughter, I knew it would upset our daily routine and I was afraid she would get spoiled by having me in her room.

And then the most amazing thing happened.  I had a great time.  I truly enjoyed every minute with my little daughter   I loved waking up and seeing her sweet smile first thing in the morning.  I loved snuggling up with her and watching Sleeping Beauty on our little twin bed.  And then it hit me.  It's okay if she gets spoiled every once in awhile.  These are the memories of her childhood.  These are the moments she will remember as she gets older.  And on top of that, it made me feel wonderful to give her these memories and I realized how much I was missing by being afraid.  I was afraid of so much.  Afraid of having to clean up a mess, afraid of spoiling someone, afraid of cavities, afraid of a hassle.  That's the bottom line.  I was living my life in a perpetual state of trying to avoid a hassle.  

When I got home from that trip, I slowly began to change.  It wasn't overnight that I became a totally fun Mom, always searching for memories.  But slowly and surely, I changed my attitude.  In fact, it was such a gradual change that it took me a long time to write about it and even put into words what happened.  I started living, not just surviving.  People say life is too short to sweat the small stuff.  I don't think that's quite right.  I think it's too long.  Life is way too long to just survive.  Life is a journey and if you look at it like that, it stops being a hassle.  Now I can't wait for our trip to Colorado this summer.  I'm not even dreading the 12 hour car ride or the hassle of getting beds set up in a strange place.  Now I drink more water and take my vitamins so I can have the energy I need to be thrilled about life, and about our journey.  
Not all of the time.  Sometimes I still yell and feel tired and my house is a mess.  But then I wake up the next day and drink a big glass of water and life goes on so that we can minimize life's hassles and celebrate the sunsets.

For more ideas on how to live more and stop just surviving, please check out my book, The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble, and Motivated to Learn!

Monday, May 13, 2013

5 Reasons I Try Not to Yell (Very Often)

I don't know about you, but I love to feel inspired.  I love it when someone can give me solid reasons to improve myself.  So that gave me an idea.  Lately I have noticed that yell less and I think it's mainly because as a blogger, I have done a lot of research on parenting styles, so I began to compile a list of the 5 Reasons that I try not to lose it with the kids.  I don't always succeed, I'm not perfect.  Sometimes I scream at the top of my lungs and they cower in fear and promise to stop pestering each other.  But lately I've been doing better and here is why:

5 Reasons I Try (But Don't Always Succeed) Not to Yell 
  1. There is scientific evidence that says that Moms who are more nurturing and have more patience have smarter kids in the long run.    I am very much of a goal-oriented person, so it helps me feel that I am doing something scientifically positive when I take a deep breath and force myself to follow through with a reasonable punishment instead of yelling.
  2. There is more scientific evidence that yelling can be almost as bad as hitting, in terms of emotional scarring down the road.
  3. Yelling is mean.  I haven't had someone scream at me in years.  I would NEVER scream at my husband so why would I scream at my kids, who are a lot more vulnerable?  Bottom line is that I always feel guilty after I yell and I feel crummy for hours if not days.  Why not try to avoid that if I can?
  4. Yelling is far more effective if done rarely.  Yes, I truly think sometimes kids need to know that what they have done will not be tolerated.  I remember the rare times my parents yelled at me it was very effective.  But just like anything else, if overused, yelling loses all benefits.
  5. When I think about the kind of parent I want to be, and the kind of relationship I want to have with my kids, it never involves my yelling and them being scared and resentful of me.  I want them to be respectful and not bratty of course, and that means effective discipline, but I want them to also think I am reasonable and they can talk to me about things in the future, when life gets more complicated.  After all, I think there is a lot of truth to the saying, "Little Kids, Little Problems.  Big Kids, Big Problems."  Maybe, just maybe, if I have a good partnership with my kids by the time they're teen-agers, I can prevent bigger problems.  With teen drug use on the rise, it's worth the effort.

I hope this has inspired you the way it inspired me.  If not, don't feel guilty and don't yell at me.  Every person and every child is different.

For other ideas on how to avoid yelling at your little ones and try to find positive ways to encourage and spend time with them, I hope you'll check out my book, The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble, and Motivated to Learn!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cleaning Chart for Tired Zombie-Cleaning Mommies

Sometimes I feel like a cleaning zombie.  I just walk around all day in a haze, cleaning up everything in my path.  By the time I get the kitchen cleaned up, I turn around and realize the kids have pulled all the toys out of the cabinet.  By the time we get all those cleaned up, my daughter has decided it's time to change her outfit and pulled out all the clothes.  Generally I ask them to help, but even when they agree to help it's sort of like using a small cocktail napkin to clean up a gallon of milk.  It's just not going to cut it.

So, imagine my surprise when I came home the other day and my sitter told me that my daughter had helped her clean up the house.  And she gave me that look that said, "Truly, she really did help this time."  It turns out that my sitter made a chart for her that worked wonders!  She took the time to explain everything to her and drew the pictures and then allowed her to check things off when she completed them.  That was the trick I daughter really enjoyed being able to check off that she completed the task.   

I really loved this idea because it helped improved her self-esteem by helping her realize how helpful she could truly be, and then I got to kick my feet up and return from zombie-land for a short time. 

I hope you'll consider checking out my book, co-authored by best-selling author Susan Case!  It is called 
The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble, and Motivated to Learn.  If you have ever tried to cook dinner while your kid clings to your leg and cries, this is the book for you!

Kids behave better when they are given challenging projects to work on, which will in turn give you more free time to do the things you really need to do, like washing dishes, paying bills, and relaxing so that you can be a better Mom!  You can hear us talk about this theory in this interview about the book:


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Experiment Part #2 - How I Got My Toddler to Eat (and Like) Green Onions

As many of you know, I went on a mission a few weeks ago to cure my kids of the following bad habits:

1.  Refusing to try new stuff that I went to all the trouble to make (which really irritated me since I had to referee fights and try to keep them alive while I cooked this "new" meal).
2.  Uttering the phrase, "Mommy I'm hungry" every fifteen minutes, all day long, even after we just ate breakfast three minutes prior
3.  Not eating enough vegetables

So, in my last post about this, I revealed how I got my daughter to start helping me cook and how it totally changed the evening.  Instead of feeling like I was fighting a battle while I cooked dinner, I actually enjoyed it.  My daughter did too, and she even was more adventurous with trying the meal since she had helped me make it.

Next, I decided to tackle the fruits and vegetables issue.  Again, I was truly amazed at the results.  This picture says it all:

This is a photo of my three year old, eating and enjoying green onions.  Here is how it happened.  I was letting them help me make dinner and green onions were part of the recipe.  My little guy asked if he could try them.  My initial reaction was to say, "No, you won't like those, just hand them over."

But then I took a step back and remembered what the book taught me.  It's all about the process.  So, I said, "Sure, go ahead!"  I was amazed when he said, "Mommy, these are good!"

He proceeded to eat the ENTIRE stalk of green onions.  And this is a kid who doesn't even like carrots.  Now all of a sudden he like raw green onions???

Next, the Edamame was finished and again the kids asked if they could try it.  I had intended to save it for dinner, but again I told them it was okay and I looked over a couple minutes later and saw Big Sis popping those edamame out of their shells and handing them to her little brother and even feeding him like he was a little hungry birdie.

Lastly, Little Buddy did the dishes for me (Yes, I had to change his shirt because he got himself a little wet, but I still appreciated his help all the same)

This "cooking project" has been going on for over a month now and the kids haven't lost interest yet.  I believe there are a few reasons that my experiments have worked so well:

1.  They get to stand on their own stools during the entire process
2.  I have been very willing to let them do things I wouldn't normally do (like peeling carrots by themselves...normally I would have thought that was way too sharp of an object, but I supervised carefully and they totally proved me wrong)
3.  I made it for them AND fun for me!

My last Experiment will be to update you on how I eliminated snacking...stay tuned!!

PS...thanks to all of you who bought my book while it was on sale this week...I'm proud to say that we got up to #1 in the Parenting Category and Susan and I were thrilled!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sale! $0.99 for The Happy Mommy Handbook through April 9th!

For the first time ever, The Happy Mommy Handbook is on sale!  $0.99 (Instead of the normal price of $3.99) for 2 days now being offered through April 9th. You can purchase the ebook from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Kobo.

If you have been enjoying my blog, you'll love this book.  We will inspire you to have more fun with your daily life with your kids.  Yes, it's tough to stay patient with little kids, but I teamed up with Kindergarten Teacher, Susan Case, to give you ideas on how to keep your kids busy and also help them learn at the same time!  Here is a book review that really explains it all:

"This book seriously saved my sanity. I've read a bunch of parenting books but this is literally the only one that actually gave me real and specific advice and ideas for things to do with my daughter. I'm a stay-at-home mom to a 2-year old and I was at my wits end trying to come up with ideas of fun, easy, creative things to do with her that will keep her busy and occupied and help her learn. I wasn't very good at following through on ideas that I heard about from friends or read in other books or online because they seemed too complicated (aka: messy!) but this book broke it down and made it so simple. I highly recommend it!"

I hope you'll check out this book...I would really appreciate your support and don't forget if you've read it, we can really use all the good book reviews we can get on Amazon and B&N!  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tricking My Toddler into Using Fine Motor Skills

There was a short time ago that my little buddy would do any project I wanted him to do.  But then he became a quintessential boy, meaning that he now wants to spend all his time playing football, chasing the dog, and pestering his big sister.  Unfortunately I've noticed that he could really use some help with his fine motor skills.  He holds his crayon in a fist, which is exactly what big sister did until I worked with her.  She is totally cured now though, and I attribute it all to our little "projects".  

So, I've decided I needed to get even more creative with fine motor action.  I found an old coffee can and told him we were going to make animals.  He chose to make a green bird (his favorite color), which he had a great time creating.

After he was done, I then gave him a bunch of poms and asked him to "feed" his bird.  He happily agreed and started out with the tongs.  I know for certain that if he didn't get to feed a bird, he would have just walked away to find his football, but I tricked him into working on his fine motor control, so I was thrilled!

He even got bored with the tongs and we graduated to tweezers, which is the first time he has been able to make that happen.  Just look at those little hands working their magic!

For more ideas on improving fine motor skills with your preschoolers and toddlers, please check out my book, The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble, and Motivated to Learn.  If you have ever tried to cook dinner while your kid clings to your leg and cries, this is the book for you!  We give you a Mom's point of view and a teacher's point of view, so that you can do activities that not only keep the kids busy, but also keep them motivated to learn and develop their natural curiosity.  Kids behave better when they are given challenging projects to work on, which will in turn give you more free time to do the things you really need to do, like washing dishes, paying bills, and relaxing so that you can be a better Mom!

Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!

Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
Enter your email address:

Monday, March 11, 2013

An Experiment for Picky Eaters and Fed-Up Moms

I have many talents, but cooking isn't one of them.  I can't tell you how many times I will make dinner, try to feed it to them, and then inevitably about 10 minutes after we're done they will say, "Mommy, I'm hungry!  Can I have some cereal?"

My kids have always been picky eaters but lately things started to get really out of control.  Here are some of our bad habits:

  • They snacked often throughout the day, and I let them, as long as it was healthy like cheese, fruit, or yogurt.   
  • Since I'm not a great cook, I knew they wouldn't want to eat what I made.  Instead, I often just made them chicken nuggets or frozen lasagna.  Plus, they often had to eat before Daddy got home since he got home late, so I would just wait and eat with Daddy too
  • They often wouldn't even try what I made if it looked bad
  • I didn't exactly make them eat enough vegetables.  Fruits?  Yep!  Vegetables?  Not so much
However, I was at the book store, and I noticed that my favorite author came out with a new book.  On a whim, I decided to spend the money and I'm so glad I did.  The French have a whole different perspective on food.  

I won't get into too much detail, but it's totally worth reading and the book basically talks about how French kids don't snack.  Period.  They get breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner.  Nothing in between.  She says that it's much more peaceful, knowing that all day long isn't an opportunity to eat.  Amen, sister!  I hate having to stop what I'm doing to pour out a bowl of healthy cereal at 9:45, one hour after breakfast.  The French have a totally radical view on food that is completely different than ours.  They let them help cook, even from a very young age.  I mean, they really let them.  There is a story in the book about a four year old ladling out the muffin mix into the pan.  The beauty of this is that kids are more invested in what is prepared so they are more likely to try new things and actually like them.

I kept thinking:  She hasn't met my kids though.  I'm sure they won't want to help me cook, and plus I kind of hate the idea of their hands in my food and them making a mess.  But, I decided I would embrace this concept and see what happened, because first of all they hardly eat any real meals, and second of all, I detest cooking, so I thought if I could make the whole thing more fun, my life might improve.

The results were so extraordinary that I am going to have to break this into several different posts.  But here is the result of my first day:

First, we made spaghetti.  I allowed my daughter (age 4.5) to get up on a stool and help me stir the raw hamburger meat.  At first, she was reluctant to help, but I kept telling her what a good Mommy she would make one day if she could learn how to cook and she quickly got on board:

Then she helped me pour the sauce into the pan with the meat and she stirred it all up for me.  As the French do, I advised her to smell the different smells and really appreciate the process.  I explained everything to her along the way and she was fascinated.  Then she helped me clean up and even thought that was really fun.

After we got the dinner all ready, we decided to make blueberry muffins for dessert.  I decided to really go the distance.  I allowed her to actually spoon the batter into the cups, just like it says in the book.  I was amazed.  It took her a long time and she did make a little bit of a mess, but she was meticulous and she did every single one:

So, when it was time to eat, I held my breath.  Sure enough, she ate a ton of spaghetti, which she usually refuses to even try.  My little guy ate all of his spaghetti too and then they got to have muffins for dessert!  And best of all, I had a great time.  The afternoon was fun and cooking dinner was enjoyable for once!  So, day one of my experiment was a huge success.  Now it's time to move on to the 2nd part of the experiment...snack time...stay tuned!

Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
Enter your email address:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

5 Fun Indoor Games to Burn Energy

If you never see another post from me again, it's because I've gone crazy and I'm locked away in an insane asylum.  Seriously, is this winter even going to end?!?  I just want to go to the pool with a cold lemonade (or adult beverage) and some pool toys, is that too much to ask?  I do find though, that if I just give in and try to have fun with the kids, time goes much faster, especially in the evenings.  So we do try to make our fun, even if it inside, and here is a list of our favorite indoor games to pass the time and burn energy:

  1. Hide the Blueberries....sounds strange but the kids sure enjoy it....
  2. Ring around the rosy:  I find this to be a rather morbid game, because did you know that the kids during the plague used to sing it, and it actually about all the people dying?  They would put a pocket full of posies around them to help with the smell...and the ashes were related to the fact that they burned people to try to decontaminate and stop the plague.  But of course, the kids don't know that!! :-)  They are happy to do this over and over again and they giggle hysterically every time we "fall down".
  3. The Monster Mash: I don't know why, but my kids adore this song.  We turn it on and they dance around and beg me to dance with them.  Sometimes I put it on repeat and they do four or five songs in a row!
  4. Jumping on a Mattress:  Nothing gets energy out like jumping on a mattress, or as we call it, a trampoline.  We put an old one in the basement and it gets used a lot.
  5. Hotter, Colder: Hide something while the kids have their eyes closed and then they try to find it.  Tell them when they're getting "hotter" and when they are getting "colder".  I loved this game when I was a kid and I bet if you add up all the time I spent playing this in life I could have gotten an undergrad degree in it.
  6. Hide and Seek:  It's interesting because one year ago, this is how my daughter hid when she played  this game.  She was three then and she shrieked and giggled the whole time, making it quite easy to find her.  We played it again last night and I swear it took me several minutes to find her.  It turned out she was hiding under my office, behind a chair and didn't make a sound.  She's really growing up!

Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
Enter your email address:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Proof that Super-Mom is a Figment of Our Imaginations

The other day my BFF, Dani, sent me a funny article about SuperMoms.  This article defined it as someone who wakes up early to work out, who has a job but still takes care of the kids, and who tries make the kids eat healthy.  There were some other funny ideals, but basically on paper, my friend said this was me.

I wanted to believe her.  It is true that I wake up early to exercise.  But mainly because I'm too cheap to buy new clothes and I'm barely fitting into my current ones.  And yes, I try not to give my kids sweets.  But again, it's selfish.  It's because I don't want them begging me for sweets all the time so it's just easier to avoid the topic all together.  And yes, I do have a full-time job and manage to keep it all together.  But it's a struggle and it sure ain't pretty.

But one day recently, I was having a Super-Mom kind of day.  I woke up early, knocked out a bunch of emails, had a great work-out, and showered, all before my kids woke up.  Then I had a morning where I didn't have to yell at anyone.  I went on to work all day, then I took my kids to the park and did my husband's laundry so he'd be ready for his next trip.

Lastly, I started to make dinner and was really feeling good about myself.  What a day!  I checked the timer on my home-made meal and I yelled (sweetly for once) to my kids that dinner was almost ready (hubby wasn't home yet of course).  I opened the oven door and was thoroughly confused when I was greeted with cold air.  What the heck???

Turns out that "Super-Mom" set the timer, but forgot to actually turn on the oven.  My lovely casserole had been sitting in the cold oven for 40 minutes.  The kids started fighting about some stupid toy and my perfect day was over.  Oh well, I gave it a good run.  I laughed and pulled out the chicken nuggets and canned peaches.  Super-Mom theory debunked.  It turns out we're all human.  I slept in the next day and relished every second my extra sleep.

Thanks again for visiting and commenting!  Work has been crazy and I'm sorry the blog has been lame lately!  Thanks for sticking with me!!
Enter your email address:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Raising a Tough Breed of Children

I'm a bit of a wimp.  Okay, a huge wimp.  When my parents used to take us skiing (which in retrospect was very nice of them and was probably super expensive for them), I truly thought they were doing it just to torture me and a small part of me wondered if they could truly love me if they were willing to let me suffer through frozen toes, frozen hands, smashed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and snow down my back.

It wasn't until I grew up that I realized the full extent of my wimpiness.  I have tried to redeem myself and I even enjoy skiing now, but I have never fully become a "tough" anything.  I have always admired those girls who could go out on the mountain and seem to fully enjoy pulling on some snowshoes and plowing through 10 inches of snow without complaining or go through labor "naturally" without screaming for an epidural.  That's definitely not me...but I'm determined to make my daughter, and really both kids, that way.  Don't get me wrong...I don't blame my parents because sometimes nature is stronger than nurture, but I really try to make them "shake it off", I try to make sure they don't whine a lot, and I have been taking my kids to the park several times a week, even in the cold. 

The other day, it was only 28 degrees and I offered to take them to the park.  They were thrilled since we've been inside so much. They were thrilled and I stood in the cold, cursing myself for my own stupidity and trying not to bite off my own tongue while shivering.  And yet there they were...running around having a great time even though we were literally the only people at the park.

So when we got home a neighbor waved to us and said, "Good for you...raising a tough breed of children, that's great!", I was thrilled.  I may not be tough but hopefully my kids will be!
Thanks again for visiting!  I am thrilled to have you and love when people comment!
Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
Enter your email address:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

More Fun With Science and Vinegar

I have officially found something that Little Buddy (2 and a half) never grows tired of.  Vinegar and Baking Soda.  We've done this before, but not for a long time and I think he's the perfect age to truly be fascinated by it.  I just took our foil tins and sprinkled some baking soda on the bottom.  Then I mixed up a small bowl with some vinegar and a little bit of green paint (had to stir pretty vigorously for it to actually mix together) and then I gave him a small eye dropper.  Then I came back an hour later.

Kidding.  I supervised of course, but this kid was literally thrilled with this and did it for over an hour.  I had to change it out a few times and we went through quite a bit of vinegar, but it was totally worth it.  You could almost see his little brain working as he watched the fizzle:

He begged me to do it again a few days later and this time I ended up giving him purple too, just to prolong the experience.  Then he was really interested to watch the colors blend together and big Sister even started her own game of mixing paint together to see what happened.

Thanks again so much for swinging by!  For more ideas on fun science projects with kids and ways to keep them busy, please (oh please) won't you check out my book?

Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
Enter your email address:

Thursday, January 31, 2013

When the Kids are Driving me Crazy....

The other day we had one of those days where the kids really felt that it was their solemn duty to irritate the crap out of each other and out of me.  For example, Little Buddy was playing with a bouncy ball.  He would throw it up in the air and when it would land, Munchkin Girl would take it and run away cackling, knowing full-well that he wanted it and would be upset that she took it.  I would put her in a time-out and she would yell and cry but then would promise to be better.  Then, when she got downstairs after her timeout, she would start playing with a doll and Little Buddy would steal it and run away.  Then she would tackle him and he would pull her hair.  Nothing worked.  They were just intent on being naughty and no matter how many threats, timeouts, and screaming fits I had, they weren't going to change their overall attitudes.  We were stuck in a vicious cycle of crazy. 

I have been doing some solemn research on this topic and I have found that when this happens, there are only four ways to reverse the atmosphere:
  1. Let them watch a TV show.  Sometimes just getting their minds off the cycle will change the mood for the entire day.  Experts say kids shouldn't watch too much TV, but let's be honest.  It works.  And sometimes you just need it.
  2. Get in the car.  It doesn't matter if I just drive in circles.  Getting everyone out of the house gives me a break and again, it takes their minds off the cycle of bad behavior. 
  3. Play tag and/or hide and go seek.  They often just need to burn energy.  Just chase them around the house and let them scream.
  4. Put on music.  Have a dance party.  Do a piggy back ride and sway to the music. (I have found the song Monster Mash to be particularly effective)
  5. Put on an exercise tape!  I was amazed at how my kids (ages four and 2) loved to follow along and raise their arms when instructed.  The bonus is that I got to exercise and they burned energy at the same time!
If all else fails, call your husband/Mom/neighbor and beg someone to come give you a break!  As my husband and I often say, "It's time for a change in personnel".

Tell me what you do when your kids are driving you crazy!  And again, thanks so much for visiting and commenting!  I truly appreciate hearing from you!

Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
Enter your email address:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mommy, Why is Daddy Never Here??

Isn't it funny (and a little scary) how every good memoir is based largely on the childhood of the main character?  A bad set of parents can elicit some of the most wonderful and poignant memoirs (such as The Glass Castle: A Memoir, Driving with Dead People: A Memoir etc).  And yet no one wants to be those bad parents, even though interesting children are always a bonus.

Which leads me to wonder what our kids will say about how they were raised.  There are a few things I know for sure: they won't say we abused them, they will say their Mom was always forgetting things and most likely they'll say their Dad was gone a lot.

Sadly, Hubby is an orthopedic surgery resident and has been gone a lot lately.  In fact, he hasn't seen the kids in almost a week.  Granted, he's been traveling on fellowship interviews as well as working, so it's a little more crazy than usual, but you can only imagine how I felt when my daughter said, "Mommy, why doesn't Daddy come home anymore?"

I explained how he has to work a lot since he's a doctor and helps fix people's bones.  She was very thoughtful for a few minutes and finally said, "Mommy, I'm really glad for the people that Daddy helps, but I'm just sad that he has to be a Doctor.  Can't he be a policeman or sell stuff like you?"

Tears sprang to my eyes...both from sadness but also from joy about what a thoughtful and sweet little girl I have. I feel like that is pretty insightful for a four year old.  And I have to admit that I share her's hard to be thankful that your husband is a doctor when he's gone all the time.  Granted, he's still a resident and everyone knows those hours are hellacious, but sometimes you wonder if there is any light at the end of the tunnel.  I did my best to explain that policemen have to work a lot too and how much her Daddy loves her, and to Daddy's credit, he does his very best to be home when he can and call when he can't.  And, I'm happy to report that tonight Daddy made it home just in time to kiss the kids to bed tonight so it wasn't a full week that passed without him seeing them.  Thank God for small miracles. 
I also want to say how much I appreciate you readers and your comments.  I have gotten really busy with my job again so it's been hard to keep up this blog.  Your comments really keep me going so THANK YOU!!!

Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
Enter your email address:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Did We Get Robbed? Or Did We Do That to Our Own House?

Yesterday I walked in the door with the kids after running an errand and I couldn't believe my eyes.  My first thought was, "Oh my God!!  We've been burglarized!!  Someone has ransacked our house looking for something!!  What were they looking for?  I need to call the police!!"

Then I realized something even more scary.  We did that ourselves.  And I didn't even notice before we left the house BECAUSE IT SEEMED TOTALLY NORMAL TO ME.  Ahhh, the joys of children.  The fifteen outfit changes before lunchtime.  The searching for that one particular doll named Sarah that we haven't played with in about four months but suddenly it's crucial to our life's happiness.  The milk cups spilled everywhere.  It really never ends, does it???

Later that night, after we cleaned up the house, I made the brilliant decision to let the kids go upstairs and start getting ready for bed by themselves.  They are 4.5 and almost 3 now and I thought it would be heavenly if they could begin the bedtime routine by themselves once in awhile.  I had successfully performed this magic trick twice in the last week and I was thrilled to find them upstairs brushing their teeth peacefully by the time I got upstairs.  The problem is that I got over-confident.  I must have left them alone a few minutes too long because suddenly my daughter was downstairs, staring at me.

"Yes?" I said.

"Mommy, I'm afraid I have some bad news," she said.  "My brother has pottied all over the floor."

I ran upstairs and sure enough, there is my little guy, with his underwear around his legs, standing in a pool of potty.  I have to admit that it was pretty hard not to laugh and okay, Little Buddy isn't quite ready for the solo bedtime routine.  And I guess it's safe to say that my house will never be the cleanest house on the block, but I guess it's all in your definition of the word, "clean", right?  And I plan to re-define that word, for the good of Moms everywhere.  Are you with me???

Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!
Want to see all my posts?  Put your email address here to become a subscriber!
Enter your email address: