Effing Four Year Olds, momlife, parenting, Why We're Salty

Disaster at the Dentist

Back in the day, when I knew everything about raising children, without actually having children, I just knew how my kids were going to behave. I knew that they would never dare to defy me, that they would have occasional tantrums and the like, but that they would always know who the boss was, and that ultimately they weren’t gonna get away with nothing. And they’d eventually give in. After all, I literally spent years as a trained behavior therapist. I understand behaviors and their root causes, I know how to troubleshoot them, to identify them, and to fix them.  As a special education teacher, I always said I could outstubborn  a rock, and there was no behavior that I couldn’t solve eventually, with my determination and patience. I was known for getting through to tricky kids, kids with off-the-wall behaviors, and kids who were simply defiant or stubborn. I like to say that I have a Master’s Degree in getting kids to behave, and although the piece of paper says something fancier than that, it’s basically what it amounts to. So my own kids, of all people, would absolutely know better than to truly test me.

Ha. Ha! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

So the other day at the dentist. Continue reading “Disaster at the Dentist”

Bouncing Babies, Effing Four Year Olds, momlife, parenting

Blowing Bubbles (And Crying About Ham)

I am not what one would call a sentimental person. I don’t often cry at funerals. I don’t cry when I hear about something sad that has happened. I don’t cry when other people are crying. And I CERTAINLY don’t cry at commercials.

Until I did. Continue reading “Blowing Bubbles (And Crying About Ham)”

Effing Four Year Olds, Kids' Activities, momlife, parenting, The Salties, Threenagers

4 Myths About Play-Based Preschool

When I first sent my son to preschool, he went to a traditional preschool – the kind I remember. A carpet with letters and spots for each kid to sit. Charts on the wall showing the alphabet, calendar, weather. Super cute crafts for every holiday, with a Pinterest perfect sample of what they would be making that day. But he wasn’t learning his letters. He wasn’t great at sitting. He wasn’t participating in the crafts. So we moved him over to a play-based preschool. And he LOVED it. But everyone else? Well, they thought we were crazy. And I learned there are a LOT of myths about play based education.

Continue reading “4 Myths About Play-Based Preschool”

Bouncing Babies, Effing Four Year Olds, Kids' Activities, momlife, Terrible Twos, The Salties, The Salty Mamas Bookclub, Threenagers

Our Favorite Books to Read to Our Kids

This post contains affiliate links.  In addition, a giveaway copy of The Hug Machine has been provided by Simon & Schuster. As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are our own.  You can read more on our Legal & Disclosures page. Thank you!

It’s the end of a long day, and you are one story away from watching Real Housewives in your PJs with a glass can of wine. You anxiously await your kids’ book decision. Will it be the borderline unbearable “5 Minute Stories” book with the stories that just don’t make sense and are dry as a bone? Will it be the longest children’s book ever written? Or will it be a book you actually LIKE?

You may not get to choose the book every night, but you can stack the deck in your favor by purchasing more books that are fun for YOU to read.  Feel free to start with these handy suggestions from The Salty Mamas. Continue reading “Our Favorite Books to Read to Our Kids”

Effing Four Year Olds, Kids' Activities, momlife, parenting, The Salties

The Return of the Weekend

Of all the back-to-school posts that I’ve read (and pinned. And obsessed over), the one thing that no one ever told me is that it would bring on the advent of weekends again.

For the last three years, I have been engrossed in the life of a stay at home mom. Yes, weekends were different in that my husband was at home, and I had a full-time parenting partner, someone to laugh with, someone to talk to. But so much of the weekend was just the same as the rest of the week for me. I was cleaning house, and watching kids, and hitting up the park, and cooking dinner. These are all things that I signed up for, and not even things that I particularly mind. It was just that they were everyday things, Monday through Sunday, and every day was much like the one before it. Sometimes that was a good thing, but sometimes? It wasn’t.

And then came school, and suddenly Fridays had so much more meaning. We’d survived a week full of rushed breakfasts school drop offs and homework and packing backpacks! Now I’d get two whole days to spend with my girl! Parks were a novel thing again, lazy mornings watching TV on the couch were a treasure instead of something to feel guilty about, and our pace was just DIFFERENT. She was tired from a full week of school, and ready for some downtime. Where the weekends used to be full of sameness punctuated by birthday parties, suddenly we were all looking forward to a little rest, a little less structure, and a little more free time to spend together. I finally remember why Friday used to be a thing, why everyone talked about weekend plans, and how the promise of two perfect days is enough to get anyone through a stressful, boring, or even just a normal-old-week.

So here we are, and I’m fully ready to open up my arms and embrace the weekend again. Take time to rest, to drink an extra cup of coffee, to snuggle up and watch some cartoons, and to not worry about rushing out of the door to get to school on time. I’ll stay up late with my husband, and the kids might actually sleep in, and we’ll play and laze about and spend Sunday evenings getting ready for the week ahead. It may not be everyone’s ideal weekend- heck, it may not even be mine- but whatever it may look like, I’m just glad to have it back.

How to reclaim your weekends with your family, and make the most of your time together. From thesaltymamas.com. #weekend #familytime

 

Bouncing Babies, Effing Four Year Olds, Kids' Activities, Terrible Twos, The Salties, The Wonderful Ones, Threenagers, Tips & Hacks

9 Ways to Play with Rocks

My kids have thousands of dollars worth of games and toys and arts and crafts and I even am not above allowing some indulgent screen time. But the fact is, at the end of the day, they love dirt and sticks and rocks. Yeah, rocks. Which – don’t get me wrong – I love. I love SO much, I want to pass that love of rocks on to you! So here are nine fun ways for your little ones to play with rocks.

  1. Paint them. Rock painting is so in right now. Seriously. It seems that it’s t22447575_10102454468377797_269538747_nhe hot kid  craft on Pinterest. And it’s hot for a reason. Because kids love to paint rocks. Whether your kids want to paint ladybugs or pumpkins or just go nuts free form, kids will love it. Plus, you can do it outside, which is extra awesome because you aren’t going to ruin your dining room table. We even have some friends whose kids love to paint rocks with WATER. I mean, you literally can’t get a cleaner craft than that! It’s. Just. WATER. And rocks. World’s easiest cleanup ever.
  2. Tic-Tac-Toe. My 4 year old is obsessed with Tic-Tac-Toe right now. Which means there are sheets of paper all over my house like confetti with scribbles all over them. So you know what’s boss? A reusable tic-tac-toe board. Even better? One that’s in my yard, that I only have to draw once, and then can use rocks for our “X’s” and “O’s.”
  3. Stacking. All three of my kids love to stack things – anything! They also love to compete with each other. Who can make the highest stack of rocks? Who can keep the tower balanced? Who will knock it over? There are so many variations even in different ways to just stack the rocks. And endless entertainment!IMG_20170826_103408267
  4. Carrying them back and forth. Okay, I know what you’re thinking, “Hey, this list just jumped the shark. These chicks think my kids will be entertained by carrying rocks back and forth across my yard.” And maybe you’re right. Maybe your kid won’t do it. But we’re here to tell you that we literally sat in Jaymi’s backyard and watched our kids carry rocks from a bucket to a pile AND BACK AGAIN for like 45 minutes last week. I think they made some sort of a secret game out of it, but they didn’t clue the adults in on the rules. All I know is those rocks were on the move in the hot little hands of our kids. Kids that got wiped out from all that rock carrying. So, SOLD.
  5. Rock Hunt. This one’s pretty simple: Do just what it sounds like. Hide those rocks and let the kids find them. As one of our kids’ friends announced the other day, “You don’t have to wait for Easter to do an Easter egg hunt!” True that, Muriel! Egg hunts are great one day a year, but rock hunts – those are a classic the other 364.
  6. Steal the Bacon. Remember sweating on the blacktop waiting for your number to be called so you could race to grab a blackboard eraser? Well, we’re fresh out of blackboard erasers at our house. But we got rocks! And whether it’s a group of kids at a playdate or just two of mine facing off head to head, a race for the rock is a big hit. More bonus points for this one being another tiring activity. With basically no setup, no cleanup and the only parental involvement being to yell, “GO!”
  7. Rocks as Cooking Ingredients. Stone soup isn’t just a classic story about a selfish
    IMG_20171005_160834699_HDR
    You can never have too many cooks in a stone soup kitchen!

    town that is tricked into sharing their soup. It’s also a culinary classic in our backyard. Stones, leaves, dirt all create a “delicious” base to be stirred with sticks. This one takes some more parental involvement (I admit I’m wayyyyyy over pretending to slurp soup and report how delicious it is) and can be significantly messier than some of the other options, but my kids are all about getting messy, so bring it on!

  8. Story Garden. A story garden is the perfect way to bring your kids’ imaginative play outside. This one’s a two parter, but worth it! First, see #1 and paint those bad boys. You can paint anything you want on the stones – houses, animals, boats, foods, cars, bugs, rainbows, shapes, people – you name it! Then, make stories! The possibilities are ENDLESS with what you can create! Here’s a few ways to play with them compiled by The Artful Parent and we’re partial to this cute Hungry Caterpillar set which is perfect for retelling.
  9. Rock Toss. Only to be played if you trust your kids won’t chuck the rocks straight at your head, their siblings heads, their friends heads, etc. Once that’s established, my kids dig this one. We use a hula hoop as the place to toss rocks and we start a foot or two away from the hoop. Each kid gets to toss a rock into the hoop. After they make that shot, they step back. And back. And back. And back. Until they miss at which point we start over. My competitive little kids love the challenge of this. Once the hula hoop has been mastered, you can always make smaller targets with anything you have around the house!

Now go find some rocks, and have some fun!

#rocks #paintedrocks #stonesoup #pretendplay #childhoodunplugged #toddlers #preschoolers #kids #outdoorplay #imaginativeplay #getoutside #letthembelittle
Get outside and have fun with these EASY ways to play with rocks – that your kids will LOVE!

 

Effing Four Year Olds, momlife, parenting, The Salties

Torrez of the Day

A few weeks ago, in a fit of desperation, I had a rare stroke of genius.

“The kid who cleans up the most blocks gets to be the Torrez of the Day!”

My son, aged one and a half, pretty much did nothing. Because…aged one and a half.

But my Four Year Old? Whoa. Continue reading “Torrez of the Day”

Effing Four Year Olds, koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, Salty Mama Lists, Why We're Salty

Seven Skills They Didn’t Teach You in Parenting Class

For a first time Mom, I felt incredibly prepared when my son was born. I had 17 nieces and nephews and had been around kids a LOT. I was ready to change diapers. I wasn’t afraid of the dreaded first cold. I knew all the first aid and CPR you could want. I was prepared. And then the kids showed up and I learned all the things I hadn’t learned.

You probably haven’t learned all the things either. Add these to your to-do list.

  1. How to throw a ball.

Okay, I’m not a complete athletic disaster. I can throw a ball. But it’s actually WAY harder to throw a ball to a three year old than to another able bodied adult. You have to somehow throw it really slow. And make sure to avoid hitting them in the face. Because they won’t just catch the ball if it’s about to hit them. They’ll wait, let it hit them, and then freak out about it. And then make you throw it again and again until your arm falls off.

  1. How to draw every animal in existence.

Before I was a Mom I’m not sure I’d ever drawn a rhinoceros. Or a “water dinosaur.” I know I didn’t draw the animals/monsters/creatures that my children imagine – and then request for me to draw. To their exact, but undescribed, specifications. But I do know that a lot of the time my drawings are not up to my children’s standards. I should have spent more of my first pregnancy in an avant garde art class taught by opinionated toddlers. If they have one of these in your area, it will be worth every penny.

  1. How to move silently through a house.

When we were house shopping, I did not walk through the house listening for squeaky floorboards. FATAL mistake. Because there’s a board in my son’s room that has almost destroyed me. After spending countless hours lying on his floor praying he’ll fall asleep, the last thing I want to do is wake him up stepping on that board. Squeaky doors? I’m just going to take them all of their hinges. Or go to some sort of cat burglar crash course in how to be more sneaky.

4. How to Remove Objects from a Nose

Maybe you think this is covered under basic first aid, but not so, my friends.  There are actual techniques for this sort of thing.  For example, do not put any kind of finger or tool up there. Is it close enough to the nostril that you can pinch above it and push it out? Or should you try to blow it out like in that viral video that’s been going around (doctors say no, by the way, so THANKS FOR NOTHING VIRAL VIDEO)? Or do you have to go to freaking urgent care over this?? No one prepared us for A.) That level of decision making. B.) That kind of medical know-how.

5. Tetris Level Packing Skills

No one told me that I should have been spending WAY more time playing Tetris in preparation for parenthood. From packing a diaper bag, to packing my car for a day trip, to packing my daughter’s backpack on show and tell today (which is much more complicated than one would originally believe, I assure you), I use way more spatial awareness on the daily than I ever imagined I would.

6. Emotional Awareness of Others, Bordering on Psychic Ability

In the thirteen seconds it takes from when my daughter first appears in the dismissal line to when her teacher hands her over at the gate, I have to decide what kind of mood she is in and how to react appropriately. Will a big hug make her push me or melt her like a popsicle? Should I dare ask how school went? Does she want to walk or should I prepare for a battle about whether or not I am going to carry her to the car? It seems like an impossible task, one I am certainly untrained for. But I gotta say…for an impossible task, I’m getting pretty darn good at it.

7. How to Put Gloves on a Child

Ooooohhhhh, you think this is easy? That’s cute. Because guess what? Kids can’t move one finger at a time. And eight of their little fingers fit into one glove finger. So you sit there like a rational adult saying “Move this finger, no pull this one one, okay put the big one back in, no not that one, the other one, wait, now we’re back how we started!,” before you realize that you are fighting a losing battle. Better to take your chances with frostbite and save your sanity.

What other skills do you wish they’d told you that you’d need as a parent?

7 things they should have taught you in parenting school. Except for they don't HAVE parenting school. They totally should, btw. Read more at thesaltymamas.com.

 

Bouncing Babies, Effing Four Year Olds, Mama Mojo, momlife, Terrible Twos, Threenagers, Why We're Salty

Truth Tuesday: I’ve Considered Running Away

Okay, maybe not literally. Maybe not totally seriously. But I’ve probably given it too much actual thought than I should have.

Lots of times, I love motherhood, I do. When all three of my kids are in a sweet spot, I think I could have three more. When two of them are delightful and one is going through a more challenging phase, I power through. When one is nice and two are little hot mess machines, I hunker down and know we’ll get through it. But when all three are hellions? I start making a list of possible talents I could contribute to the circus.

Right now? I’m in full on circus mode.

In the past few weeks all three of my children have thrown up on me. I’ve had many midnight discussions about diarrhea and why my son is “peeing out of his butt.” We had a solid week where at least one child was wide awake from 3am on, which leads for a very early wake up for Mommy and Daddy. We’ve had night terrors. A four year old that just. doesn’t. listen. A two year old that is in active transition from the terrible twos to being a threenager whose greatest joy in life is her abundant ability to tease her brother. A breast feeder that’s found out her big ol’ teeth make excellent weapons. And I ran out of coffee creamer.

It’s weeks like these that make me spend considerable amounts of time researching the standard working contract for cruise staff. Not that I’d actually drive down to the cruise terminal and go to the employment booth and fill out the application to work a 6 month tour on the Carnival Inspiration or anything. Of course I wouldn’t actually go and do that. I don’t think. But I’ve definitely gotten closer than my husband should find out about.

And yes, there have been good times, but right now? Right now I’m overwhelmed with yet another night of changing sheets filled with last night’s dinner, a 2 year old that comes tumbling out of her crib before the sun rises and a baby that has found she’s sure to get my attention by biting anything she can sink those chompers into.

I love them, I do, but just think how much more I could love and appreciate them if I took, say, a six month break. If I went off on an adventure and came back with arms full of treats and souvenirs and a heart full of missing them. I won’t do it, but I’m definitely still gonna dream about it.

Why I've Considered2

Effing Four Year Olds, momlife, parenting, Why We're Salty

Taylor Swift: Look What You Made ME Do.

 

My daughter is a Taylor Swift fan. Like, a big fan.

She knows the words to pretty much every song on the 1989 album.  She knows what each song is about. She loves her music videos and her “fashion” and her pretty hair and she especially loves to dance to her TS jams. She loved Taylor Swift in the way that only a four year old can.

And now she doesn’t.

I let her listen to the song “Look What You Made Me Do,” recently, thinking she would be excited to hear something from her favorite singer. I thought the beat was catchy, and she could dance to it and learn the words easily.  I knew the video was dark, but I thought as long as I just played the song, the lyrics would be subtle enough to fly right over her head. I figured she’d be bopping and singing along in no time.

But you know what she said? “How come Taylor Swift got mean?”

If you haven’t heard it or seen the video yet, you’ll need to know that it is dark and edgy and the lyrics are full of bite. There are zombies and burglaries and car crashes.  The song is a lot more bitter and a lot harder than anything she’s put out before.   Clearly, she’s trying to reinvent herself.  And look, it is not up to Taylor to be anything for anyone but herself.  It is her life, and her brand, and she can do what she wants with it. That’s her right, and I stand by that. But Lila? Lila doesn’t.

And you know what? I’m kind of with Lila on this one.  You don’t have to get edgier, and sexier, and darker with each album. It’s okay to be kind, and sweet, and keep your optimism no matter what life throws at you. I’m tired of artists feeling like they have to constantly evolve.  You can have a truth and stick to it. You don’t need to keep up with the  Joneses Katy Perrys.  You don’t have to get mean in order to stay popular.  In fact, it may just end up costing you, and some of your fans, a little something in return.

So we’ll keep rocking 1989 in the car, and we’ll keep Shaking it Off. But otherwise, I think we’re done here.  Thanks for the fun, Taylor. It was good while it lasted.

How Taylor Swift's new song,