Jul 28, 2015

How To Make The Most Of Your Child's Tech Time #MakeABrightWorld

I've partnered with Bright World eBooks to discuss the importance of making the most of your child's tech time. All opinions are my own.

                               
Last year, when FTD and I decided to introduce 'learning apps' to our toddler, (Fully monitored in 15 minute intervals.), we realized just how beneficial toddler tech time can be. From learning to count, to learning shapes, colors and letters, the toddler learning apps were mind blowing!

Now that my toddler is just over three, I want to focus tech time on apps that help him learn to read and recognize words. I've probably downloaded fifty ebooks and reading apps, and while a few are keepers, many fell short.

Thankfully, I learn from my mistakes, and know exactly what to look for in fun learning apps. first and foremost, an eBook or narrated story of some sort. Once I find a story I like, I make sure the app also has Interactive Learning with the story and fun engaging educational games.

Apps these days have kicked it up a notch. The really great apps offer loads of learning with stunning graphics, some even 3D worlds to explore...

Jun 30, 2015

11 SUPER EASY 4th of July Snacks And #DIY Party Ideas

Need some 4th of July Inspiration?
Check out a few of my favorite Yummy Snack and #DIY ideas.



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Jun 29, 2015

Why It's The Kids That Suffer The Most When Parents Clash

I'm just going to come out and say it, just because two kids get along, it doesn't mean the parents will. I quickly learned this when my son was still an infant in "mommy and me" play groups.

Parents clash, that's just an unfortunate fact. I've dealt with clashes that involve parents going through a divorce trying to shove me in the middle of a "pick-me" war, or who have different lifestyle choices, or are just plain mean and nasty to be around.

Normally, I try to smile through the issues for the sake of our children getting to play together, but sometimes, that's just not possible.




I recently had an issue with another parent being just plain nasty to me. She clearly didn't like me and made it very apparent through the mean things she said and did to me. It almost felt like I was back in high school with a mean girl. Still, for the sake of Ollie being able to play with her son, I tried to ignore the white elephant in the room, her mean-girl attitude toward me.

I wish we could get along. My child adores hers. But it's just not going to happen. After a month of praying about the issue, talking with friends and trying to ignore her nasty comments, I finally came to the realization that I had to let it go. I have no choice but to move on. It makes me sad because nothing in this world makes me happier than seeing my son happy, but I have to stop letting this mom treat me like shit for the sake of a playdate.

Thankfully, letting go and moving on from this has made me feel 100% better. That being said, there are no winners in this. Our children are the ones suffering the most from this mom clash. It makes me sad that our boys won't play together anymore. What's more, I'm worried about how the boys will interpret the absence of the other. 

The mom and I are adults, we will go about our lives knowing there was no capacity for us to get along, but our boys won't understand why they don't get to play together anymore. 

This situation has taught me that no matter how much I want to get along with another parent, it's not always possible. I've also realized the kids suffer the most from these clashes, so trying my best to stick it out is the right thing to do. At first. But, once it becomes apparent there will be lasting issues, I need to remove myself from the situation.

If you are currently dealing with a similar situation, and you feel like you have done everything to make nice with the parent you are clashing with, I cannot recommend enough that you distance yourself from the situation. Hold fast to knowing your child will have many friends throughout his adolescents.

It's a shame that problems between parents exist, but it's a fact that they happen. The sooner you let go, the sooner you and your child can find a playdate that's fun for both of you.








Have you dealt with this? How did you handle it?



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Jun 26, 2015

There's No Doubt About It, This Is My Worst Parenting Fail. So Far...

I'm just going to come right out and say it, I have created a bedtime monster. I play into every bedtime whim my evil genius toddler can think up. I just wanted him to go to sleep! I kept thinking if one more book, or sip of water, or trip to the potty, or hug and kiss, or handstand while balancing the cat on my foot was going to get my kid to go to sleep, I'd try it.

And the worst part is the dumbest, most ridiculous bedtime move a parent can do, I do every single night; I lay down with my child until he falls asleep.

Every. Single. Night.

FAIL. FAIL. FAIL!!!

Every night, after we read books, I turn off the light and pretty much play dead for 20-45 minutes while my toddler does everything he can to drive me nuts.

Credit: Photo is cover of Adam Mansbach's book, Go the F**k to Sleep .

Then, once he knows I'm good and crazed, he passes out.

I've been doing this since we moved the kid out of his crib last year. Need I remind you of the many times I found myself trying to fit in a toddler bed? (Funny, back then I thought it couldn't get any worse. WRONG!)

NOTE: If you still have a crib sleeper then please learn from my mistakes. NEVER lay down with your toddler to help him fall asleep.  All it takes is one night, and the next thing you know, hours of our life are wasted laying next to a singing, joking, laughing toddler on a mission to make you lose your freaking mind.

There's no doubt, my worst parenting fail so far is not teaching my child from infancy to fall asleep on his own.

It's just that I can't fully relax until the kid is asleep. So, I lay there until it happens.

I know how damn dumb it is that I play into this ridiculousness every night, yet, I still lay there like a spineless twit.

Well, not anymore!

I'm done.

I've finally lost the plot, and cannot continue to lay there anymore!

Last night, I began what I expect to be a lengthy battle, but one I am determined to win.

I am no longer laying in bed until my toddler falls asleep.  The new routine will be:

1. Read books.

2. Have a cuddle for a couple of minutes.

3. Then get up and walk out.

I wish I could say all went smoothly last night, but it took a few times of laying down, walking out and chasing the kid back to bed until he finally gave up and passed out.

On the bright side, it took me the same amount of time to get him to fall asleep as it does just laying next to him. In a very strange way, I consider that a victory! What's more, in between me walking out of his room and him eventually getting out of bed, I got a few minutes to pick up, and begin my nighttime activities! Not to mention, it awesome spending the usual 30-minute bedtime battle not being poked and sung to!

I'd say the first battle point goes to me!

I know this is going to be a process, but I'm up for the challenge. I'm so damn sick of wasting an hour of my night playing into my toddler's bedtime bullshit. He's three years and four months old, I'd say that's big enough to fall asleep on his own!

Actually, I'd say he's about three years past learning how to fall asleep on his own. I was just never good at the cry-it-out method. Before now.

Now, I'm all like, "Cry! I don't care. It's still bedtime, tears or not. Go to sleep!"

Deep down, I know this is long overdue from a developmental stand point. My child needs to learn to fall asleep on his own, and not be scared to do it. He is three after all!

While, it's super hard to see my baby growing up so fast, it's time I take advantage of it. He's a big boy, and it's time he learned to sleep in his big boy bed by himself!

I've finally had a enough. Change Is Coming America.

Wish me luck...




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Jun 25, 2015

5 Lessons Learned During My Mom Strike

About 6-weeks ago, I began to lose control of my house. You see, my garden began calling me. Begging me to break out of the cave I'd been hiding in all winter, and come out and tend to it.

So, happily, I did.

I started spending entire weekends in the garden, which resulted in me neglecting the inside of my house. Within in two weeks, my house became a proper shithole. There were toys everywhere, socks and shoes thrown about, dishes piling high, laundry piles that resembled the great Alps, a toddler bedroom that looked like a tornado hit it.

It was like I was living in a frat house that runs a daycare.



Being that I am super Type-A and OCD, I could only ignore the mess for so long. I started finding ways to clean the house and still spend time outside. I would clean one or two rooms, and just tidy-up and organize the rest. After a week or two, I got a routine down. Even still, I was so damn exhausted, miserable and unfulfilled from that schedule. So much so, I cracked.

I broke down to FTD insisting,  "I couldn't do it ALL anymore." I couldn't handle the house, groceries, bills and garden and keep the toddler clean and fed. I needed help, or I was going to need a padded room and a straight jacket.

And rightfully so! Why in the hell should I have to do it ALL?  Why am I the one racing around keeping the frat house with a daycare, tidy? It's 2015, Housework is no longer, "the woman's job."

Oh. Hell. No. It. Isn't!

I had hit my limit and needed FTD and Ollie to step up to the cleaning plate. Starting immediately. Those two were going to help me, or be in big ass trouble! So, I announced that I was going on mom strike. I was no longer jumping to cook or clean.  I was no longer going to do it All!

My mom strike lasted five days, and coincidentally, taught me five life-long parenting lessons.

1. I created the filthy beasts living in my house. My need to have things cleaned and organized my way led me to always doing the cleaning myself. I would turn my head to Ollie chucking his socks across the room. I would let Ollie go up to bath at the end of the night with FTD while I cleaned up his mess and organized toys into their respective bins. At first, I didn't mind. I wanted the house cleaned to my standards, and I was sure FTD and Ollie couldn't come close.


It turns out, with direction, they can. Kind of.

Goats. Toddlers. Same thing. 



2. My Timing and FTD's timing are WAY OFF.  Every night, immediately following dinner, I would jump up, do the dishes and clean the kitchen. While being on my mom strike, and letting the dishes pile up, I realized that both my kitchen and head will not explode if the dishes aren't done immediately. I have the need to do everything immediately. FTD has a need to sit back, relax and deal with the dishes later. My mom strike was epic in teaching me that if I wanted help around the house, I had to accept that it wasn't going to be done immediately.

3. There is NO reason my three-year cannot pick up his own damn toys. He's old enough to "get-it", now. I had a girlfriend who taught her toddler that the 'Clean-up Fairy' will come and take the toys not cleaned up at the end of the night. It worked for her son, and now it's working for mine! The trick is to hide the toys left out, and then on nights the kid does clean, after the child has gone to sleep, put the stolen fairy toys back as a reward for keeping his toys tidy.


4. I don't want a damn cape; I want a cocktail. I'll be the first to admit, I need to chill the F*$k out. I run around like a crazy person trying to keep my house in tip-top shape. It's like I have something to prove to myself and the world.  I waste so much time picking up and cleaning things that get wrecked 30-seconds later.  WHAT THE HELL?  It's so not worth it. It's like I think if I have a perfect house and a well-behaved child, then I get to go to the Hero Mom Ball at the end of the year and claim a super-hero cape. Well, screw the cape, I'll take a cocktail and a better use of my time.



5. Mom strikes are so awesome; I'm already planning my next one.  I cannot recommend enough going on strike. If you are worn out, feeling under-appreciated, sick of being the one that does everything, while your partner and child are having a blast watching you, then call a strike! Clean up after yourself ONLY! When they start complaining... FIVE DAYS LATER. (Filthy beasts!) Make a list of things you do, hand it to your family and haul ass out the door. Go to the park with a good book. Let them realize just how much effort it takes to keep the house cleaned, cupboards stocked, clean laundry in the drawers, bills paid and any of the other four million things you do in a day to keep your family healthy and happy.

I'm sad it took me flipping out, crying to FTD and letting my house turn into a shithole to get to this place. But, in the end, it was worth it. Look, the man is a professional dish-guy now!



Have you ever thought about or gone on a mom strike?
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Jun 24, 2015

WANTED: My Toddler's Mind And Listening Ears. He's Lost Both. Reward If Found.

Just when I think my three year-old is turning the corner from being a terror, he manages to lose his mind and listening ears!

I can't tell you how many times over the last near 6 weeks, I have thought about writing about how wonderful my toddler has become. The only thing that stopped me, was fear of jinxing myself. I did, however, tell a couple of girlfriends with toddlers the same age as Ollie, how wonderful and easy he had become. I even used the words easy and toddler in the same sentence!

 Oh. How. Foolish. I. Was.

It turns out, that calm was just eye of the storm. Or maybe just a short rest before he geared up for round four hundred and twelve of terrorizing me. Whatever it was, the easy days are done. Gone.

Here are the days of shouting NO! and not listening to a word FTD or I say.

And then there's the throwing and smashing things and running from me. It's like he has reverted back to his early toddler days. The only difference is that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt he knows better.  So now, IT'S WAR!

That's right, I'm coming out blasting! 

Yet, again, I'm finding myself in a full-on war of wits and patience with a damn toddler...

I COULD JUST SCREAM!

Yesterday, he jumped out of my car and bolted down the sidewalk. I told him to stop and come right back! He didn't even look back. By the time he was four houses down, I was afraid if I chased him he would run farther, so I did the next best thing; I threatened to throw his bike away.

Thankfully, that got his attention.

He turned right around, running towards me and begging me not to throw his bike away.  When he made it back to me, I don't know what got into him, but the little butthead turned back around and took off AGAIN!

This time, I chased him. Of course, he thought it was funny as hell, and started running faster while laughing.

Really? Really.



To add insult to injury, my neighbor with the perfectly well-behaved boy Ollie's age was in the center of his yard watching the chase.

Ugh.

When I finally caught up to him, I scooped him up and stomped home, not saying a word. I was afraid they would all be really filthy, because those were the only words circling my head.

Once inside the house, I got down to his level, just like the damn parenting book said to do, and made eye contact while explaining why it was super naughty to run from me and even worse not to listen, and how he could have been hit by a car backing out of the driveway, followed by a bunch of other things I needed to say to feel better.

I'm pretty sure all he heard was, Blah, blah. blah. blaaaahhhhh blah blah blah.

It's like I talk in Charlie Brown speak to him!

The last week has been awful. I can't figure it out. What's happened to my generally sweet toddler? It's like his ears are clogged with crazy brain.

Being that I have already been through a version of this kind of crazy with him when he turned two, I know how to handle it. And, that it won't kill me. Even if it feels like it.

This toddler business can really suck sometimes, but one this in for sure, I have been to the battlefield before, and won and I will do it again. It's back to basics; consistency, time outs for both him and his favorite things, and hold on tight to my sanity until this toddler storm passes...













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Jun 23, 2015

What Happens When An American, Australian and Toddler Walk Into A Store...

For those of you who do not follow me on social media, I thought I would bring you up to speed on why FTD and Ollie have been banned from family shopping trips...

Every time we go as a family, I end up completely embarrassed, annoyed and/or sweaty from either chasing Ollie, or running from him and FTD.  Yes, running in a grocery store. You would too if two psychotic children were chasing after you shouting ridiculousness... wearing a wolf mask!

            Before I get started... lets recap some past trips of family shopping with FTD and Ollie


FTD LOVES the grocery store.  LOVES IT!  Being that the grocery stores in Australia are half the size, carry a third of the options and the food and goods cost four times the American price, FTD thinks he is experiencing a small glimpse of Heaven every time he walks into an American store. 

However, for me, I pray Heaven is nothing like shopping with that man and his mini me...

We have to go up and down every freaking aisle and discuss and touch every single freaking product.  I know more about the different Little Debbie snack cakes and cereal options than any one person should.   

At first is was cute watching my grown husband light up like a kid in a candy store when we hit the cereal aisle, now it just sucks, because HE STILL DOES IT THREE YEARS LATER! FYI: FTD does not eat cereal, he just likes to see what toys are in the boxes, "Just in case I need it."

So, now that I have explained my husband in a grocery store… lets add my toddler to the mix.  Sweet Geeezus I want to have a drink before I type out the story I am about to tell…But let's just say it starts with lots of promises of being very very good boys, and then the second we get into the parking lot, all hell breaks loose.



I present the story of why I need a Babysitter for my husband and toddler...

The minute we pull into the Kroger parking, FTD sees an employee pushing one of those kid carts with car on the front of the basket. Next thing I know, FTD has his seatbelt off and is hanging out the window yelling, “MATE! MATE! I’ll take that shopping trolley!” 

Before the car is in park, FTD jumps out and grabs the damn cart from the guy.

Of course I am like, WHAT THE? FTD insists that "there is going to be a huge queue for these awesome trolleys," so he had to grab it before someone else did.

REALLY?

Really.


Immediately, I'm dreading this trip.

Mind you, before we left the house FTD promised this trip would be easy, fast and absolutely no funny business. I'm not sure which one of us is the bigger ass... Me for believing him, or him for lying.

Within two minutes of walking into the store, FTD and Ollie found the Hot Wheel's display.  This time it's Ollie half way out of the car, choking on his seatbelt screaming and pointing.

FTD gets him out, and I take off... Unfortunately, pushing the straight-out-of-hell kid car cart. 

The car part is only loosely attached to the cart so it bounces as you push it. The cart itself is half the size of a normal cart, so getting all of my shit in there is near impossible. And speaking of near impossible, driving that thing is a bitch. I look like a drunk. I take out displays, knock off the bottom two shelves of products when turning, and pretty much just spend the entire time apologizing to people for taking forever to get out of their way. 

As if the cart is not bad enough, from 15 aisles away I hear, “I’M GONNA GET YOU!” followed by a squealing Ollie.

Just as I look up they go zooming by.  FTD yells out THERE’S MOMMY!! Ollie turns around and comes charging at me carrying two cars and a cookie. FTD straps Ollie back in and takes over driving.

Within 30 seconds Ollie wants out.

I’m back to driving the asshole cart from hell.

This cycle of trying to shop while FTD and Ollie run around wrecking the joint, then coming back to drop crap in the cart continues on for the next twenty minutes.

I am finally finished, when FTD brings me Ollie and says, “OK then, now I can go do some shopping for myself?”

Of course I kindly reply with, “WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?”

For the next ten minutes I follow FTD, with Ollie in the asshole cart from hell, while he goes up and down every aisle touching things.

I finally lose my shit.

I am finished shopping, Ollie wants out of the cart, and FTD is just screwing around. We have a “discussion” about what exactly he needs. Reluctantly, he agrees to throw in the towel, but not before we have to go get Pepsi Max and Candy- on opposite sides of the store.

I take Ollie from FTD, and hand over the car cart from hell for FTD to push. He starts carrying on about how hard it is to drive then starts bouncing it up and down like it’s on hydraulics. OMF! FTD!!!

I hand him back Ollie and stomp off, with the asshole cart to check out.

Then, as if it cannot get any worse, FTD’s favorite song starts playing through the store, and then my worst nightmare happens, I hear FTD sing out, “Blinded by the LICE! Wrapped up like a DUCHE you know the middle of the NIGHT.”  (He knows the right words, he just refuses to sing them.)

I nearly bit my tongue off trying not to laugh. It's like I have two toddlers. 

Needless to say, the minute we got in the car, I looked at FTD and said... Never, ever, ever, ever, again will we go to the grocery store as a family. Never. 

FTD Looked back at Ollie, smiled and winked... letting him know it most definitely would NOT be the last time...



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Disclaimer

My husband and I are clueless first time parents. We are far from childhood development professionals. We cannot and will not be held responsible if you take us seriously, especially because we don't even take ourselves seriously.



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