Before buying a gift, ask yourself, is this going to break the vacuum?


When I was a kid, Beauty and the Beast was my favorite Disney movie. I saw it in the theater. I had brown hair (like Belle) and I loved to drink fake tea. Since my daughter was 4 months old, we have been having tea parties. Now, at two-and-a-half -years-old, she takes it to a new level of adorable. She puts fake lemon in her tea and even pours cups upon cups of fake sugar into her empty plastic cup and pretends to be that little jerk Johnny,(from the nursery rhyme) who ate sugar and lied to his dad about it. So for Christmas, I got her the Beauty and the Beast musical tea cart.

One of the first things we did on Christmas morning was open up the tea set, play with the singing candle stick, and have a tea party while she wore her yellow princess dress. I felt like a child again and it was blissful. For adults, this is how we want to experience toys with our children.

Does anyone else get annoyed when your kids get toys that you don’t want to play with? Since our kids want us to play with them (and clean up after them), this can be frustrating. 

I admit it, I return their presents behind their backs and buy them way cooler stuff.

This year, I made our kids a Target Wish List for Christmas. I figured it served a few essential purposes: to avoid repeat gifts, to give people ideas, and to avoid getting crap I don’t want to play with (i.e. clean up). It actually worked out well and I had very minimal exchanges to make this year. I highly suggest the Target wishlist. 

It has been a week since Christmas and there are piles of unopened and neglected toys downstairs. Thanks to Target, this pile is smaller than previous years, finally. Every year these piles make me wonder if we are doing it wrong. If we are giving too much and caring too little. 

As for the actual act of gift giving…I have come to the conclusion that only people that hate you give gifts that come with a billion pieces, specifically for the younger child who will try to eat them and throw them. My guide on small piece gifts is this… If it is going to break the vacuum, I won’t even open the box. That shit goes right back to the store or gets donated if I can’t figure out where the heck it came from. I know it sounds harsh, but your ten-dollar gift is not going to cost me a new four-hundred-dollar vacuum.

It is not that I don’t appreciate people buying gifts for the kids, I really do. It is the quantity of stuff that is the problem. Bringing a smile to a kids face can often bring a mess to someones organized house. It is the filler gifts-the ones we have all been guilty of buying to add more stuff to a pile for a child based on the fear that they will count how many gifts they got, or that more is better. But what happens to filler gifts? They remain in the pile, untouched. 

I am all about quality, not quantity. I do not care how many tantrums a child has over how many gifts they get or did not get because the truth is- too many gifts overwhelm them (and their parents).

I believe that previous generations started this trend of needing to give their children more than they had to make up for their poor childhood. Then, those of us who grew up having every last thing that our hearts ever desired, are sitting here wondering why our houses are cluttered with f-ing toys. I am going to just come out and say it – I had enough stuff growing up. I was spoiled rotten and it kind of made me a little brat. That tradition stops here. I want our kids to appreciate what they have, not expect things just because. Not to become so obsessed with the act of opening gifts and not actually ever intending on really opening them. I want them to know what it is to be grateful, generous, and giving. We are not raising little a-holes. With that said, they don’t need more than us. They don’t even need as much as we had. We need to stop focusing on this-how much?

This realization first hit me a few years ago when my stepson got so many toys for Christmas, that by summer, he still did not open nor even want to open many of them. I can’t even recall where they all came from. Children of divorce tend to get presents from more people, even people you barely know. It is like a pity party free for all gift spree from everyone your parents have ever known- I know, I was this child. By the time the next Christmas rolled around, we had enough unopened toys to open a small toy store. Maybe not that many-maybe enough to have a garage sale table featured of just his brand new and unopened toys. The same thing happened the following year. And the following year. And suddenly, there were more and more people buying him gifts which is great but this is what happens. 

Then, because of the clutter and lack of storage space in our previously smaller house, I started returning gifts I knew he would never open. I started donating some of them to Toys for Tots-because some kids have no toys, meanwhile, he could care less about tons of his toys. I exchanged or donated the ones from the prior year that had never even been opened, touched, and would never be missed or noticed missing. I started getting gifts cards to Target and Walmart for his unopened toys and just saving them for the times when he would ask me throughout the year to buy him random things. That is when the gift cards came in handy.

 I swore this would never happen with our daughter. That we would never buy filler gifts and be overwhelmed by piles of unopened presents. My husband insisted I would feel differently with her. But nope, I don’t. Yes, I have purchased them but I come to my senses and return them, sometimes. Especially if they weren’t fun to play with. 

When she gets something I know she will never use, I exchange it right away. I am talking about unfamiliar characters, age inappropriate toys, and things she is uninterested in. I get her something else. I get her something I know we can enjoy together. Is it wrong? I don’t know. Does it make our lives easier to not have our house filled with more toys she does not even play with? Hell yes. 

I am not going to have four ride on toys in my living room just because they were all gifts. Nope, not here. Three of those ride on toys became Princess Dresses, A play kitchen, and PJ’s. I would have rather started a college fund for her, but that is an entirely different story. 

Now, I am not saying that everyone needs to go giving every child expensive toys, not at all. That is not what it is about. Especially giant toys. Nobody needs a 5 foot teddy bear or four different play kitchens. Buy a child something thoughtful and focus on their enjoyment, not hitting a quota for how big a pile should be. 

What I am saying is- there is no reason to count how many presents each kid gets and keep some quota of how much. Get what matters. Picture them playing with these toys or enjoying the gift with others, how does that image look in your head? Before buying a gift, ask yourself, is this going to end up in the trash? Is this useful? Does anybody actually want to play with this? And most importabtly, Is it going to break the vaccum? 

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What to buy me for Christmas …

I usually tell people to just get the kids something when they ask me what I want for Christmas. I am a grown ass woman, I can buy whatever I want. And I do. 

But I appreciate the gesture greatly. It is unconfortable telling people what to buy me. 

 I am not going to list what not to get a mom because I don’t want to sound like I (or the people I donate those gifts to) don’t appreciate the thought. 

So people tell me I am hard to shop for…Ya’ll are wrong…I like many things, to name a few:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon 
  • Soma Intimates 
  • Vodka (Grey Goose…the mini bottles do just fine)
  • iTunes 🎼
  • Baking sheets (because I burn the crap outta them)
  • Target gift cards (because I live there)
  • Big covered frying pans (again, I ruin things)
  • Tequila (Jose Cuervo, just saying)
  • Starbucks Gift Cards- they start at $5 (you would die if you knew how much I spend on coffee)
  • Scarves 
  • Margarita Mix (the Skinny Margarita bottles are tasty…and cheap)
  • Spatulas …(I break them scraping burned baked goods off of my ruined baking sheets…)
  • Bath and Body works lotion and soap…and hand sanitizer
  • A big ass bottle of Purell (no joke, like a 2 liter bottle)
  • Wawa gift cards (who doesn’t like Wawa?!)
  • Other red wine…
  • You can clean my house…
  • And my car…
  • And the dog…
  • Socks…because they disappear often 
  • Rubbing alcohol (no, not to drink it. We go through a lot of it because our A-hole bulldog pees on everything)
  • Dish towels (more shit that vanishes)
  • Chocolate (to pair with all of the wine)
  • Those chocolates with liquor inside to keep in my purse 

I think there is a lot to work with here, and these gifts start at $5. Next time you say how hard I am to shop for, refer to my list. 

Our daughters can still become anything they want to be when they grow up


Our daughters can still become anything they want to be when they grow up.
Nothing has changed that. In fact, more women are leaders across the board in every industry and internationally than ever before. Besides being doctors, lawyers, and business leaders, women hold positions in government, more so now than ever before.

Do we forget that women are leading countries around the world: in Denmark, Thailand, Finland, Australia, Argentina, and Brazil (Brazil is probably a bad example, but it happened).

Hilary Clinton losing the election does not mean that a woman will never be president. Because women already are Presidents. Maybe she just wasn’t the right woman to be OUR first female president. And that is okay.
Voting for Hilary because she is a woman is just as bad as not voting for someone because they are a woman.

Basing an election primarily on gender or race is what American’s have fought so hard against. We have spent lifetimes fighting for the rights of women. But winning is not a right. Winning is a pursuit. And isn’t that what the whole American Dream is about? The opportunity to take a chance and pursue something- try to make something of yourself? To do better, to be better? This is what we have been working towards, but somewhere along the way, we forgot about failure.

When you chase your dreams, pursue happiness, and try- there is always a chance you will fail, it is inevitable that we will all fail at some point, at something. Failing is a part of succeeding as is death a part of life.

It is what we do with our failures that can overshadow our successes. Failing is something we need to teach our children about because it will encourage them to work harder. To never give up. To shatter glass ceilings.

Someone once said that, “Leaders, true leaders, take responsibility for the success of the team, and understand that they must also take responsibility for the failure.” How fast are we to run away from our failures? How often do we ever see anyone hold themselves accountable for failure? That is what I want to teach my daughter to do.

What I will tell my daughter about our new President, Donald Trump? I’ll tell her:

  • He is a father.
  • His children love him.
  • His children are successful.
  • He has strong relationships with his families, his children and grandchildren.
  • He is not afraid to speak the truth. And nobody likes the truth.
  • He makes mistakes with his words and his money because he is human.
  • People love him.
  • People hate him.
  • He has failed.
  • He has been misquoted and torn apart by the media.
  • He has tried again.

I’ll tell her that his daughter Ivanka said,
“I think the way he raised me, the way he raised Tiffany, it’s a testament to the fact that he believes in inspiring women and empowering women.”
What parent doesn’t want to inspire and empower their children, regardless of their gender?

So I’ll say it again,
“Leaders, true leaders, take responsibility for the success of the team, and understand that they must also take responsibility for the failure.” -Donald Trump

We can’t judge a failure until they actually fail. Hilary Clinton surprisingly showed us that she can lose gracefully when she said, “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”

A lesson from our tween on movie theater etiquette 

My stepson asked me to take him to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show last night. 

Hold onto your dirty looks for a few minutes because there is a good lesson in this, I promise.

I told him he probably wouldn’t like it. He begged to differ. He kept asking me what it was about and his father and I made it simple, “It’s about gay aliens,” we told him. I know that is blunt, but its pretty much the plot in four words. 

I should bite my tongue because he became even more interested. He calls himself a tween now. He insisted he could handle it and that he was excited to go. 

I tried to tell him that it was sold out, but he knew that I was lying. I told him there would be crazy people dressed up and acting out the movie, and he said that is awesome. I don’t think he really knew what he was in for, despite my honest representation of what we were going to see. 

When we got there I felt like a horrible parent. While there were some teenagers, there were definitely no kids his age. I was definitely that asshole who brought the youngest kid to the R rated movie. But the lights went out and I figured nobody would really be paying attention anyway. 

Not even two minutes into the movie, I turn to Robbie and see him mouthing to me, “WTF?” 

We were getting wet during the rain scenes. People were squirting water guns for aesthetics and fun. You’d think a kid would enjoy this but he didn’t. 

Then, by the time he had finished singing The Time Warp, he had been toilet papered and the lady behind him kept throwing bread at him. He was livid. He kept asking me when people were going to shut up so he could enjoy the movie. He said, “Why are these people so rude?” 

I just laughed. If only he could remember what it was like to go to a movie with him back when he was five. 
He looked infuriated, kind of like how moms and dads look when their kids are humiliating them out in public. It pissed him off so much because somebody threw bread and toilet paper at him during the show. And all I could do was an evil little laugh in my mind. Like he could finally understand what his dad, his mom, and I felt when we would take him outside into the world for the first several years of his life. 
 

You want to teach your kids a little lesson on movie theater etiquette? Maybe take them to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show and see how much talking, yelling, singing, throwing things, shooting water guns, and dancing in the aisles drives them crazy. 
Cheers to that! 🍷

When the toddler bullies the tween 

We always pray that our children will love each other. That is why we give them siblings, right? 
I always tell people that our kids, 11 and 2.5, never fight. Well today, Robbie showed us just how much patience he has for his crazy little sis! I swear, if they were both toddlers, this would have been a dog fight. 🍷 Cheers to big age gaps!

No, I don’t cut myself. I have a toddler. 

No, I don’t cut myself. I have a toddler going through a scratching phase. 

My toddler is not always a sweet little angel. Come to think of it, the only time when she is an angel is when she is asleep. 

The rest of the time she is like a little doll. She looks all cute and snuggly. She gives kisses and says, “Pwease,” and “Dankoo.” You just want to eat her up. But then it happens. It always happens. She does something like try to dive off of the couch or marches on the kitchen table and I have to tell her no. Or, “we don’t do that.” This is when she turns into a monster. 

The little Gremlin. Except food doesn’t turn her, the word “no” does the trick. 

If you want to see my daughter go from cute to bat shit crazy, just tell her she can’t do something. It doesn’t even matter what it is.

Tell her she can’t eat out of the trash.

Tell her she can’t break a box of crayons in half. 

Tell her she can’t fly or “no touch.” 

The word no or the phrase “can’t” will get you clawed and beaten by a 34″ tall barbarian in my house. Even when her nails are cut, trimmed, and filed. 

 I always stop her from scratching and hitting but she leaves her mark on momma. 

If you see a mom whose arm looks like it has been clawed by a wild animal, she might just have a strong willed toddler at home. 

When I prayed for a daughter, I didn’t realize she would be a sassy little fire cracker (just like her momma)!


I always wanted a daughter.
I had a dream about her once, before I was pregnant with her. My husband and I were in bed. It was morning. There was a toddler with curly hair in our bed in just a diaper. She was giggling hysterically and hiding in our sheets demanding we play Peek-a-boo. Demanding it. We were happy and played along. 

 I remember the dream vividly because I woke up crying. I woke up missing her even though we had never met. 

It was so strange. I was also in a bad place emotionally, after losing a pregnancy. That dream has never left me, as strange as it is to remember a non-existent child so vividly. 

 I never realized it was my daughter in that dream until this morning. She was in our bed giggling, the same giggle from my dream, and I felt a deja vu moment that haunted me all day. 

I wonder if it is possible that she visited me in my dream. Can souls do that? Meet you before and after you know them in this world? I don’t know. But I met her before, somehow. 

Back then, while we waited for two lines on the pregnancy tests, I wished for a little girl and I prayed for one. I know, we are supposed to say that we don’t care. That we want a healthy baby, blah blah blah. I didn’t. I said what I meant. I was specific. 

 I even googled how to conceive a girl if that does not make me sound even more insane. Missionary is recommended. But insane or not, it worked.

I actually said out loud that this daughter of mine would have brown hair and blue eyes. I know, who says that? Me.

My wish came true. I have no idea how, but it did. My husband likes to tell me, I got everything that I wanted right down to her eye color. My daughter has brown hair and blue eyes. And I have no idea why. I am not a geneticist but my husband has brown eyes and I have green eyes. But I still got my wish. 

With that said, wishes can come true and nothing is impossible. However, when I made my wish, I forgot to mention that I wanted a sweet little girl, not a monster. 

I should have said that my little angel was going to listen. That she was going to be sweet and kind and even gentle. 

But no, I got sweet and sassy. I got funny and independent, and angry. She is like a half-lit firecracker. You don’t know when she is going to explode but you are always on edge despite how calm she can get. 

I guess these qualities make her real. They make her special. They make me love her and find humor in how her big personality unfolds in time. 

These qualities make her more like me than I imagined her to be. She is my mini-me. 

I can only imagine what she will be like as a teenager. But I have a decade to find out. 

Well played karma, well played.

Technology, is the Village it takes to raise a kid 

Are there really people out there who never once let their children watch television before 2 years old?

I am wondering because I admire that. I am fascinated by it. I honestly wonder what these kids do all day. What do they do while you shower, or do you not shower?

Do you leave them with a box of crayons and hope for the best? Do you play with them all day? Do they complete 37 puzzles and flip through 92 books? Flash cards?

 

Is this rule only for first kids? Where do your older children watch TV? Do they not watch it either? No computer? No video games?

 

I am not being an asshole, I am serious. What do these kids do?

 

When I am tired of playing with toys on the floor, cleaning up “art” projects, being outside (I hate being outside), need to make a meal, or I just don’t feel like entertaining her, the TV is there. And the iPad. And Pandora radio. And YouTube. They are my village, you know, the one it takes to raise a kid.

So The American Academy of Pediatrics lifted its 17 year ban on television for children under 2 years old. Do people actually follow these guidelines?
My pediatrician plays Disney movies in her waiting room…so obviously she doesn’t agree with it.

Now, the AAP recommendations say that children between 18 months and 2 years old can learn from some educational programs, “if and only if” alongside a parent or guardian who repeats the words and draws attention to the screen. I call bullshit on that. My kid (I have proof) goes bat shit crazy when I repeat the tv or sing along. She takes center stage in our family room.

My kid has been watching Disney Jr and Little Baby Bum shows since she was 6 months old. She needed the stimulation. She used to get bored fast before she was mobile.

Sometimes she watches with me and often without me. She acts out the scenes to all of her favorite programs.
She knows how to count to ten in Spanish and she can tell me the name of every Disney Princess and Villain, and she knows the words to many Disney songs and most nursery rhymes. I am not bragging about the amount of “screen time” my toddler has been exposed to during her short life. But I can say first hand that she absorbs tons of material from these shows.

Not to mention, I enjoy them too! I have seen every episode of Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. They are catchy, educational, and well written. I don’t think I would have survived motherhood without the television.

The new revisions also say that “Facetime” and video chat apps do not count as screen time for any age. Okay…I’m not seeing that. If it is on a screen, its screen time. And if its on a list of things banned, I’m still doing it.

I am not ashamed that either of our kids have watched TV from a young age. They both started talking early, had large vocabularies and haven’t shut up since. What more could we wish for?