Musings About Life... After Birth

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WhatShouldYourChildKnow?SpotOnWisdom.

Posted by Colleen on September 07, 2011

Lately I've been a little worried about my 2 year old's academic development. Don't get all huffy, even as I write that I know how Psycho Mom it sounds. I'm not trying to get him to write symphony, but as he isn't in daycare and I'm at home with him all day, I feel the burden of responsibility pretty heavily sometimes. And while I accept that my kids are awesome just the way they are, when I notice a child has a skill they lack I worry that I've dropped the ball as their primary teacher. We spend a lot of time playing, and even more time reading. Lately I've been trying to work in about 30 minutes of (loosely) structured educational time. But whenever I speak to a child at church whose vocabulary blows my toddler's out of the water, or hear a child in the grocery store recognizing letters on packages, I worry whether I'm doing enough.

I think a little bit of worry is good, but when a friend sent me the link to this post this morning, I needed to read it. I'm betting some of you do, too. I'm copying in an excerpt of the text, but hope you'll visit A Magical Childhood's blog for the post in its entirety.

What Should a 4 Year Old Know?

It’s back to school time and children all over are starting preschool.  Many parents are frantically searching the internet to find out if their little ones are “on track” and know everything they should.

I wrote this article about what a four-year-old should know many years ago but it continues to be the most popular page on the Magical Childhood site.  I don’t think a week has passed in the past eight or so years when I have not received a letter from a parent, grandparent or teacher about it.  Parents and principals especially have said they wish more parents realized these things.

So in honor of the new school year, I’m posting it here…

What should a 4 year old know?


I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.

Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only 3. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

 

  1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.1.He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
  2. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
  3. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
  4. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.

But more important, here’s what parents need to know.

  1. That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
  2. That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
  3. That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
  4. That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.
  5. That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

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MommyMeritBadges

Posted by Colleen on August 25, 2011

If you read my last post, you know that I traveled to Chicago this past weekend to be the MOH in my cousin’s wedding. Since my husband, being the primary breadwinner in this ensemble we call a family, had to “work” Friday and Monday, that left me to fly with three kids. Alone. Both ways. Gulp.

Now that we’re safely back in Georgia, I can say it: We survived! (In person this is accompanied by Spirit Fingers. Or maybe some Jazz Hands. Which are NOT the same thing.) The trip there was a breeze, so for the return trip I figured I'd used up my good travel luck. I was scared, but was armed with activities and snacks. Neither of these helped, though, after we’d been on the damned plane for 30 minutes due to a maintenance issue and my toddler decided that he no longer wanted to wear his seatbelt. In classic toddler timing, this moment was also the exact time we started moving, thus requiring physical maternal intervention. And toddlers love physical maternal intervention that opposes what they’re trying to do.

I snapped his seatbelt back on.

And he screamed.

This wasn’t a cute little, “Hey, please don’t do that” screams, either. This was one of those “Holy hell, if you weren’t my child I would hate you right now and you just convinced all the single folks not to ever have kids kind of screams.”

At this point one of the ladies across the aisle put her earphones in, and I considered stealing them. I, after all, have to hear the kids ALL the time. She only had to bear it for the hour and a half flight.

Further proving the extent of God’s love for me, however, the two smaller kids instantly fell asleep after that, and the Tween lost herself in Angry Birds. Whew. Crisis averted. After such a rocky start, the rest of the flight was a breeze.

Thank God. Thank God. Thank God.

When we landed, the older lady in front of me complimented my parenting and how well behaved my children were. Headphones lady agreed. I just smiled modestly and thanked them, happy to take the compliment I hadn’t really earned.

Then I waited for all the other passengers to leave while I wrestled all three kids and six carryon items (suddenly the $25 checking fee didn’t seem so unreasonable) off the plane.

I have to admit that I lost it a bit when I couldn’t find where my husband had parked the van in the Atlanta airport. I may or may not have introduced my kids to a terrible word that echoed through the cavernous garage. Whoops.

I then drove my exhausted and cranky kids almost two hours home.

My husband was happy to see us, but when we pulled in the driveway, I sort of expected fanfare. I felt as though I’d completed a marathon, implemented world peace, and cured cancer, all in a day’s work. But there wasn’t even confetti, nothing to commemorate what had to be one of my hugest accomplishments as a parent.

I’m not gonna lie. I wanted a trophy. Or at least a foot massage. I got neither. I was disappointed, and I know that I’m not the only mom who’s ever felt the burn of a minor victory go uncelebrated. So here’s what I think we should do. I propose than we implement a merit badge program. Like Scouts parading around with cute little embroidered trophies proclaiming their ability to build shelter (pshaw), I want one for “Flying Solo with a Tween, an Infant, and a Toddler with Only Carry-On Luggage.” Even if the men of the world didn’t know what my badge was for, maybe the other moms would recognize it and silently fist bump me in passing.

I think I’d put my badge on a cute scarf, or just attach it directly to my double stroller. Other badges I’ve earned might include:

· Catching vomit in bare hands
· First aid basics: Racing a child to the hospital for sever allergic reaction, deep cut requiring stitches, and/or a broken bone
· Breaking a toe in front of children without swearing
· Reading “Good Night Moon” 500 times without “accidentally” losing the book
· Learning the words to Justin Bieber songs….you know, because the Tween likes him. (Ahem.)
· And the one I’m really striving for? Raising all children to be non-felons. I’m gonna make it, girls. I can do it.

How about you? You interested in joining my troop? What mommy merit badges have you already earned, or are you working on?

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I*Kinda*WanttoForceMyKidtoPlayFootball…

Posted by Janna on August 20, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, the next JASON ELAM!!!

One of my favorite pregnancy memories is the sensation created by fetal movement in the latter stages. As my pregnancy progressed, I was amazed by how my son’s movements changed from these tiny little flutters to strong kicks. They were particularly pronounced in the evenings, and I can remember just placing my hands on either side of my growing belly and thanking my baby for the reassurance his motions provided. Not to get all “out there” or whatever, but there was definitely this sort of cosmic bliss in those experiences. I’m sure a lot of you momma’s know what I mean. It is just indescribable, and there’s nothing else I can think of that comes close to being similar.

I was pregnant during football season, and my favorite piece of maternity wear was a fitted Atlanta Falcons tee. I stretched it over my pregnant self every week when the Falcons played, certain that I was doing my part to create another Dirty Birds fan. Over the course of the NFL season, my growing baby began to feel less like a butterfly and more like a football player. As such I began daydreaming about him growing up to be a kicker for my beloved Falcons. I know that football is a brutal sport – but it is AWESOME! And anyway, I figure that a kicker has the best odds of escaping each game without serious injury.

I was so excited about this idea, that I began doing “research.” I asked the students in my classes who were football players if there was anything I could do to help my son obtain the skills needed to become a kicker. Their advice was that he should definitely play soccer – several of them felt like that was even more important to a kicker’s skill set than football. I went home and immediately began searching online to find out how old a kid has to be in order to sign up for soccer.

Now my boy is no longer in utero and as football season gets ready to take off, you can bet that my baby will be decked from head to toe in Falcons gear on each and every game day.

In a few short years, I guess we will hit the soccer fields… and the football fields shortly thereafter. And it’s gonna be awesome, right?

Unless he hates it. Unless he begs me not to make him play. Unless he throws a tantrum on the way to every practice. Then what?

I’ve talked to a lot of my friends about the whole “should kids be forced to play a sport” debate. Most seem to lean towards yes. Interestingly, most are also the offspring of parents that did not force their children to play a sport.

That got me thinking. I did a little Googling, and you know what? It seems that our parents were much more likely to have been required to play a sport (or an instrument, or take ballet, or whatever) than we were, regardless of their level of interest. It kinda makes you wonder if this isn’t some sort of parenting backlash cycle. Odd.

I guess, though, the real question here is which school of thought is the better school of thought? We know that sports offer all sorts of potential benefits for children, such as improved self-confidence, discipline, and an affinity for teamwork. However, most every sport also carries the risk of injury (even golf – read this if you don’t believe me). And when you start talking about football (or lacrosse, hockey, or rugby), the risk of injury increases and the types of injuries that can occur are downright scary. I mean, have you read any of the recent articles about sports-related concussions? It seems that they can have some rather devastating consequences, especially for young people.

Luckily, I’ve a few more years to sort out my own stance on this issue. For now, I still plan to enroll Tommy in soccer and football as soon as he is old enough. If he doesn’t like either of those, I guess my course of action will be to help him find a sport that he does enjoy and encourage him in that direction. Can’t promise I will be happy about that though, because I reallyreallyreallyreallyreallyreallyREALLY want him to play for the Falcons!

PreppingtoFlywithKids:Tips,Bribes,andSuperstitions

Posted by Colleen on August 17, 2011

I’m flying to Chicago tonight with my three kids, sans husband. Somewhere today are the individuals who will be on the same flight as us. They’re going about their business, peacefully unaware of the potential hell awaiting them. Of course, my toddler and infant may sleep like angels (ahem, Benadryl) while my Tween is immersed in her Dsi (with ear buds, natch). It may be a non-issue and the other passengers may never even know we're there. But I like to play a game called “Worse Case Scenario.” It’s pretty self-explanatory. I imagine the worst-case scenario, not out of morbidity, but for two reasons. First, in my superstitious English-major’s understanding of probabilities, I imagine that this reduces the chances of it actually happening. To say, “I bet on my way to the grocery store I’m going to get struck by lightning” and then actually have it happen? Crazytown…that would make me psychic. Which I’m not, or I probably wouldn’t have majored in English. (Kidding.)

Secondly, once I’ve imagined the worst case scenario, whatever happens, even if it’s pretty bad, seems tame in comparison. (I have a pretty vivid imagination.) Yesterday I had a pretty clear idea of the worst case scenario when the Infant, the Toddler and I (oh, my) all were struck with a 24-hour stomach virus.

The cons: Yuck. Yuck, yuck. The laundry. Yuck. Feeling like crap and crashing on the couch when I needed to be packing.

The pros: I think I lost five pounds, which is good, because since the bachelorette party I’ve decided that brownies are a food group. My lovely bridesmaid’s dress is hanging in a closet in Chicago, and I’m a little skeered to try the bad boy on. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…thank God for Spanx.

Luckily, this virus was one that stuck to a strict schedule, and by this morning it seems to have moved on, leaving us all a bit weak but less…fluid. Halle.freaking.lujah. This? Along with the Spanx proves that God loves me.

So worst case scenario: Three kids on a plane, screaming, diapers, vomit, diarrhea, while sick to my stomach myself. And in my mind, this beats firey inferno of a crash.

We’re gonna be golden.

But just in case, here’s how I’ve prepared for a 1.5 hour flight solo with three kiddos:

  • The Husband is getting a gate pass so he can help get us through security, so I'm not having to convince my toddler to cooperate with the body scan machine while holding an infant and trying to collapse a stroller. All while trying to explain the the uniformed officer that unless it causes yesterday's reaction in the baby's stomach,  the contents of her bottle aren't explosive. 
  • The Infant and The Toddler are going in a double umbrella stroller by McLaren. This product? Up there with the Spanx.
  • Packing was done with great efficiency and deliberation. We’re going to do some laundry while in Chicago, so I didn’t pack a full week’s worth of clothes. Since I’m going to be pushing the stroller, I packed bags I can carry on my shoulder, and  a suitcase with wheels that my Tween can help me with. Minimal luggage means minimal juggling. 
  • Snacks. This will be my first time bringing snacks through security so we’ll see how it goes, but I’ve heard it’s pretty simple as long as you declare them. When going anywhere with kids, I've learned that food paves the way to a peaceful experience. Doctors have lollipops at the checkout for a reason. 
  • Packing said bottle. I’m nursing but occasionally supplement with formula, especially now that baby's appetite is through the roof. The logistics of popping my boob out on the plane without flashing the other passengers intimidated me, although they may need a mercy flash. I have my nursing wrap packed in case, but the bottle helps covers my bases. (Pun intended.)
  • Activities. In the diaper bag I have a plethora of new funsies…cheap little activities I’ll bust out in case of emergency. You know, if the Benadryl lets me down.
  • Car seats at the destination. Rather than dealing with checking car seats and having to strap them into the car, my aunt and uncle borrowed some and are going to have them there and ready to roll when they pick us up. Whew.

 

The Land of Nod has a fabulous new blog, Honest to Nod, that has great ideas for moms. They published a post on making favors for the surrounding passengers when you travel with kiddos…you know, just to smooth the way. Brilliant. Did I have time to do this? Please. I haven’t even packed my toothbrush yet.

Wish me luck. How about y’all? Any tips for flying with small people?

Tags chicago, wedding, traveling with kids, travel, flying

ScoreOneforClothDiapers

Posted by Colleen on August 08, 2011

I have a confession to make.

I use disposable diapers. (Go ahead. Gasp. Hater.)

Yeah. I feel pretty guilty, knowing that my most enduring legacy won’t be my children, but instead the products of keeping my childrens’ prolific behinds clean. I know that many moms, like the super-cool-mom-I-think-im-friends-with-but-forget-ive-never-really-met Sherry at Young House Love, have used cloth diapers, and I think this is amazing and admirable.

I swear I thought about doing the same. I really did. I just knew I couldn’t hang. Hosing “solids” off of soiled nappies? Keeping a bucket of bleach around to soak said nappies in? Egads. I have a hard enough time keeping my house sanitary as it is. Add in buckets of marinating fecal matter and I’d be one rough week away from inspiring a bad Lifetime Movie.

In what I can only think is some version of the universe giving me the cosmic finger, two of the disposable diapers I opted for over saving the earth somehow got thrown in the washing machine today. Naturally I didn’t realize this until after the cycle had run all.the.way.through.

In case you’ve never had the pleasure of duplicating this particularly messy science experiment, let me tell you what happens when you soak two high absorbency diapers in gallons of hot water and then spin them around at NASA-inspired speeds. What happens is they absorb until their little hearts simply can’t absorb anymore. And then they explode.

The resulting carnage takes the form of a bazillion tiny beads of sticky silicon* yuckiness that cling to wet clothes, skin, and metal appliances. The stuff gets everwhere.

I’m sure there are plenty of moms (Sherry?) who would know how to handle this situation and have it cleaned up in no time. I’m not one of them. But we here at The Momtourage are all about information sharing, so I'm going to share my own mature step-by-step reaction to this sticky situation:

  • Curse loudly. Squeeze in as many PG- and R-rated words as possible before your children, who came flying to investigate the second you started screeching, are within earshot.
  • Slap wildly at your hands until you realize that you are not, in fact, being attacked by crazy spiderwebs THATARESMARTANDHAVESUPERPOWERSANDGOINGTOTAKEOVERTHEPLANET.
  • Blush when you turn to see your concerned children, who apparently think you’re dying.
  • Smile and suggest they help themselves to a cookie, ensuring their immediate vacation of the laundry room.
  • Shake one of the silicone-encrusted shirts. Watch in awe as the shimmery beads rise in the air, creating an almost pretty effect…before landing all over the next load of laundry.
  • Curse again.
  • Consider the possibility of using duct tape to remove said silicone.
  • Realize that there is at least one situation in which duct tape will not be of any help whatsoever.
  • Consider calling Sherry.
  • Consider calling Google.
  • Curse again. Kick the front of washing machine for emphasis.
  • Curse again, this time because you’ve hurt your toe.
  • Remove laundry from washing machine and throw it into a basket.
  • Using paper towels, wipe silicone from the inside of the machine. As it’s invisible and is known to be invincible, wonder if you will be finding little gel beads on your clean clothes for the rest of the machine’s lifespan. Or yours.
  • Stare blankly at semi-clean-but-gel-covered laundry. Stupid laundry.
  • Stick basket on back porch.
  • Channel your inner Scarlet O’Hara and decide to deal with the mess tomorrow.

Ever the optimist, I am very grateful to acknowledge that the diapers were, even before the spin cycle, clean.

My toddler had corn yesterday.

And we all have our limits as to what we can handle.

*I’m sure it’s not really silicone inside the diapers. Or maybe it is. Whatever. But for the sake of this story, let’s just agree it is, kthanks.

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VotewithYourMoney:Don’tMakeCaseyAnthonyaCelebrity

Posted by Colleen on July 27, 2011

Two of my hugest celeb crushes are on Tina Fey and Jen Lancaster. (Is that weird?) Seriously, if I ever get approved by the Make a Wish foundation based on my recurring case of writer's block, my wish is totally going to be a cocktail hour with these two hilarious ladies. 

If you don't read Jen Lancaster's blog, Jennsylvania, you're missing out. Go read it, and you're welcome. (Just remember to come back...I can spend hours on it.)

Jen's hilarious, but she sometimes puts up serious posts that are spot on, like this one.

I wrote a response to the Casey Anthony verdict for YourTango's LoveMom blog in which I tried to shed some light on Casey's situation as a young single mom. I have faith in our justice system but no law degree, so I can't freak out or comment intelligently on what happened. But I will say that I think it's terrible that Caylee isn't with us anymore, and I know that one way or another it's Casey's fault. Casey's not going to prison since the jury found her not guilty, but as the public's pretty much condemned her to a life lived under a cloud of hatred, and hopefully that will amount to justice in itself.

Unless, as many are predicting, our reality tv-obsessed, unlikely celebrity-creating, whacked out society decides to throw money her way. Which is where you come in.

Jen's post sends out a call asking Americans to join together in a boycott of anything giving Anthony financial gain for the death of her daughter, and I'm signing up. In the capitalistic society in which we live, sometimes the most powerful way to vote is with your money, and I would like to ask all our readers to make it a point to avoid putting blood money in Anthony's pocket.

Don't buy the book.

Don't see the movie.

Don't even turn Liftetime on the week her made for TV movie airs. (Anyone else predicting Jennifer Love Hewitt?)

Whether or not Anthony killed her daughter, she definitely didn't save her. Don't let her get rich for failing her daughter. I'll end my post with Jen's words.

"But if there's no audience, there's no money.

Think about it, won't you?"

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APrettyPerfectVisittotheDoctor

Posted by Janna on July 26, 2011

Wow.

I just got home from taking my 15-month-old in for a well-baby checkup. And like I said, wow.

It was absolute hell.

We arrived just in time to be drenched by a downpour as we crossed the parking lot toward the office. Then, as I signed in I heard everyone's fave F.Y.I.: "We're a little behind schedule today." Great.

I sat down and the kiddo started to play with some toys. Then, he decided it would be fun to bang his hands on the wall like a maniac. I went over and tried my best to redirect his attention. At this point, my usually low-key baby boy threw his first full-on temper tantrum.

I tried everything. I really, really did. I rubbed his back. I held him and swayed. I whispered soothing words. I tickled his feet. I bounced him on my knee. I offered him something to drink. I sat down on the floor with him and tried to sell him on reading a book or counting beads on an abacus. He wasn't having it. And the crying grew louder and louder. People were staring.

Oh, did I mention he just figured out how to run this week? Yeah, that's a key bit of info, considering what happened next...

In a split second, my kid jumped up and ran full speed through the waiting room, Tasmanian Devil-style. Before I could grab him, he pushed two kids, knocked over an empty stroller, and pulled a lady's diaper bag off of a chair and dumped all of the contents onto the floor. I got more than just stares after all that...I got tsk-tsks and heads shaking. I got the dreaded smile of pity that says, "Poor you. Too bad you can't keep that kid in check." *sigh*

Finally, I was able to scoop up the little monster. I held him against me and guess what? His diaper leaked. All over me. *double sigh*

I finished changing his diaper and clothes just as our names were called (By the way, we had been in the waiting room for over an hour. That was not cool.) They took my boy's vitals and stats and set us up in a room. Five seconds later, the nurse returned with shots. I braced myself for more bloodcurdling screams.

She administered the shots and just as I suspected, the kid freaked. To make this experience even more special, my darling baby reached down mid-scream and grabbed each of his band-aids...

It was the riiiiiiiip heard 'round the world.

Cue more screams. Louder screams.

The doctor came in and saw the look of defeat on my face. I guess that's why he didn't complain when I couldn't keep my boy from pushing away the stethoscope or trying to wriggle off of the exam table. He didn't fall off, but he fought me the.whole.time.

The doctor wrapped up our visit with, "Well, Mrs. Meeks, your boy checks out just fine. I'd say that's a pretty perfect visit to the doctor, wouldn't you?"

Wow. I need a drink.

ThenandNow:BacheloretteParties

Posted by Colleen on July 26, 2011

My amazing cousin Kate is getting married next month, and this weekend I'm flying to Chicago for her bachelorette trip. Shenanigans are sure to abound.

I'm Katie's Matron-of-Honor. (Gah..."matron." What an ugly word. It's like the name "Hulga." It makes me feel frumpy just saying it.) I am beyond excited about this honor, and I'm even more excited that Katie asked each of her bridesmaids to find a black cocktail dress we love to wear to the wedding, rather than making us each spend a gazillion dollars on a frothy confection that will just take up space in our closet. (Fist bump, Kate.)

This isn't the first wedding I've been in...in fact, I'm pretty sure it's my fifth, but I feel like I'm missing one in my mental roll call. And I've been on countless other bachelorette trips. As I'm getting ready for this weekend, though, I'm reflecting on how my maturity level has evolved since I first entered the realm of bachelorette parties about a decade ago. (Ouch.)

When I was roughly "21" (sorry, bouncer man) and prepping for a bachelorette party, I remember thinking thoughts along these lines:

  • Does this pushup bra push up enough?
  • I hope we remember to take a group picture in the bathroom!
  • Do we have enough decorations with penises on them?
  • ZOMG we should make the bride wear a tutu because that's THEFUNNIESTTHINGEVER!
  • Okay, NOW my pushup bra pushes up enough. But where am I going to stash my keys? (Lightbulb!)
  • He is so.cute. Which one of us gets to kiss him?
  • Is my skirt too short? Cause I can make it shorter.
  • These stillettos are FIERCE! Sure, I may break my ankle, but hey, if they get too uncomfy I'll just take them off! Because going barefoot in a bar isn't trashy at all.
  • I have TWENTY BUCKS! How many beers can I get with that????
  • The bar closes at THREE? Then what???

Now that I'm 31 and packing for the trip, here's the thought process:

  • A weekend without my kids! Wahoo!
  • Wait...I'm really gonna miss my kids.
  • Can you tell I'm wearing Spanx with this dress?
  • I hope my kids are okay without me.
  • These shoes are perfect with this dress...but the heels may get really uncomfortable if we go dancing. Maybe I'll just wear the flats.
  • My husband is gonna feed my kids nothing but junk food and I'm going to come home to diabetic gremlins.
  • Oooh, before we go out dancing, let's do something fun like take a painting class! (Stop laughing. We're really doing that.)
  • I can't wait to spend some good quality girl time. I hope we get a chance to talk.
  • Gah, I'm gonna have to remember to pump before we go out so my boobs don't explode.
  • Let me make sure I have enough cash in case we have to take a cab...
  • My husband better text me a ton of pictures of the kids.
  • The limo's picking us up at 1am? Gulp...maybe I can take a power nap in the bathroom.

Whew. I'm so glad I'm not 21 anymore.

But who am I kidding? I'm not that mature. We're gonna party like rockstars. And I promise to post pictures.

How about y'all? How has your party style matured, other than having the financial means to splurge for the fancy drinks?

HowWeRaiseOurKids:Daddy’sPrincessAndMomma’sBoy

Posted by Colleen on July 24, 2011

(Colleen originally published this piece in Your Tango's LoveMOM blog, for which she's a regular contributor, but it's so awesome, that we wanted to share it with y'all here in case you missed it there!)

My husband and I seem to parent our children differently based on their genders.

I read a post by blogger Janelle Harris today in which she discussed the difference between she and her boyfriend's parenting styles. Harris's tween daughter wanted a piece of candy, and in order to shut down the back-and-forth debate that ensued when Harris said no, the boyfriend just took the candy and ate it, making the argument a non-issue.

This made me laugh, because I immediately identified with the boyfriend. My oldest daughter was seven when my husband and I had our second child, so for a really long time, she was an only child. The two of us parented her very differently—he was a pushover; I was the strict one. Sure, sometimes I resented this dynamic, but I grew to accept it. He caved when she batted her pretty blue eyes, and I swept in with a punishment. It amounted to a fairly balanced approach as a unit, and we all knew what to expect. She'd push the limits, my husband would try to look stern, she'd put on her "Daddy's Princess" face, and I'd have to come in to regulate as my husband melted. Why It Helps To Play Good Cop Bad Cop When Parenting

Sure, the boyfriend's response in Harris's anecdote was a little on the jerky side. But it was immediate, conclusive, and, let's admit it, rather funny. Like I said; I'm usually the strict one. Momma doesn't mess around. But I stopped mid-chuckle, because suddenly Harris's story brought to mind another situation, one in which my toddler son (the addition who dethroned Daddy's Princess) was hell-bent on getting a Hershey's Kiss before dinner. Ever conscious of my children's nutritional intake, I steered him toward an apple.

He wasn't having it. He handed me back the apple, trotted his diapered behind right back to the pantry, and retrieved the Kiss, which I'd made the rookie mistake of placing back within his arm's reach. I took a breath and braced myself for the battle sure to ensue. Kiss in hand, he waddled back to my side…and wrapped his pudgy little arms around my leg in a ginormous hug. He threw his head back so he could look up at me, smiled broadly, and in his baby English, said, "Mama. PEEEEASE?" And before you could say "heartbreaking," the foil was scattered across the floor and my son was delightedly licking his prize from his fingers. From the living room drifted a single word from my husband: "Sucker."

What happened to our dynamic? My husband, ever ready to yank my son from whatever height he is precariously navigating and give him a timeout once back on solid ground, is still totally at my little girl's mercy. (If you need proof, let me just say that there may or may not be photographic evidence of my manly man playing a fantastic board game called "Pretty Pretty Princess," in which wearing pink-colored bling is most definitely involved.)

As best as I can identify, our parenting styles were affected by the introduction of a tax deduction with a Y chromosome. My husband and I seem to parent our children differently based on their genders, a tendency I never expected, being the enlightened and empowered woman I am. ("Roar" and all that.) Once we had both a boy and a girl, though, this tendency became obvious. My husband is very quick to regulate when it comes to my son, and when I asked him why he thought this was, he explained it like this:

"I was raised to treat women right. My mom had me opening doors for women when I was a kid, and my dad took teaching me how to be a good man really seriously. But it's a man's job to take care of women—not that you need me to take care of you, babe, just because I want to, because I love you—so I want to teach our son that, and I want to treat our daughter like a lady, too. I guess that's just how I see my job playing out."

OK, I get that (and thanks for teaching him right, mother-in-law!)

So what's my excuse for being harder on my daughter and a softie with my son? Is it due to the fact that my parents are Yankees and my husband hails from the South? That my dad was a military Colonel, ensuring that I'd have a bit of a hardcore streak? Is it because I was one of three girls and my husband was one of three boys? You got me. I'm a writer, not a shrink, and I'm doing my best to figure out this parenting thing as I go along. I'm just really, really, glad that I'm not always going to have to be the strict one anymore.

Let's just wait and see how the dynamic changes when my daughter thinks she's ready to start dating. That should be interesting.

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“Swimwearformoms”?

Posted by Chelsea on June 22, 2010

I got a press release today from the folks at Lynnina, a new swimwear manufacturer founded by Lynn Werner, who is described in the release as “a California-based mom who wanted to create a chic swimsuit alternative that delivered style, coverage and comfort”. Lynnia’s debut swimwear line “features boardshorts in a variety of colors and prints, with complementary mix and match tops…that ensure that unsuitable suits never get in the way of a cool dip on a hot day or splashing around with your kids at the pool.”

I sooooo want to support Lynn and momtrepreneurs in general, but oh sweet Lord, these suits are FUG. Check them out:

If Mom Jeans were swimsuits, I’m afraid these would be them. Even these cute, skinny models look dumpy in them. Bleech. No. Freaking. Way.

Even though I myself do it all the time, it makes me sad that the word “mom” is so often associated with the pejorative. Ugly jeans are “mom jeans”, big ‘ol, unsexy minivans are too “mom”, etc. I know there’s this whole “hot moms” movement, complete with books and television pilots and skinny celebs who grace the covers of Us Weekly looking Victoria’s Secret runway-ready an hour after giving birth, but you know the female image that comes to mind when “mom” is uttered isn’t JLo. More like Patricia Heaton’s character on “Everybody Loves Raymond”.

Just the other day, I was in workout wear store Lucy with Momtourage member Dana, and she was encouraging me to try on a pair of Lucy pants that she loves. They were cute, and quite comfortable. However, they they gave off a “this is as put together as I could get today - some workout wear/exercise clothes” vibe to me that I immediately associated with “mom” - and not in a good way. When I asked Dana if they were too “mom” she was like, “Um, I’ve got news for you, Chels - we are.” True, but does that mean we have to totally sacrifice attractiveness/style because we have kids? Personally, I refuse.

I know my bod’s not the same as it was before I had kids, and thankfully, there are some pretty hot-looking Miraclesuits and Spanx swimwear options out there. But this crap? Kinda feeling like it’s an insult to moms everywhere. Lynn, honey, give us a little more credit! Or at least some better colors and patterns.

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