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!

 

Bouncing Babies, momlife, Recipes, The Wonderful Ones

Toddler Muffins Recipe

Are you looking for an easy breakfast and snack idea for your toddlers? Well your Pinterest search is over! This easy recipe has all of the good stuff- whole grains, fruits, veggies, and even protein- with (less) of the “bad stuff.”  As a bonus, they freeze wonderfully and can be made in a mini-muffin pan, so that you can give your toddler what they need, even with their ever-changing appetites.

Note: We have tried a few different substitutions to eliminate brown sugar from this recipe, but none of them had the result we were looking for. So we decided to stick with a bit of sugar for the sake of keeping the recipe appealing to little ones. If you have toddlers over the age of one, two tablespoons of honey may be the closest substitute we can recommend. 

Also Note: We only tried to lower the sugar content so we wouldn’t feel as guilty about the three cupcakes the kid would be eating laterEnjoy! Continue reading “Toddler Muffins Recipe”

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

Bouncing Babies, Married with Children, momlife, parenting

The Cure for Smugness

If you find yourself being one of those parents that’s maybe a tiny bit smug? (She says with authority, because, confession – she’s been there) You’re in luck. I have the cure for you! It’s one simple step. Ready for this:

Have another kid.

That’s it. If that still doesn’t work. Try this:

Repeat step 1.

See, once upon a time, my husband and I thought we had it figured out. We had this sweet, perfect little baby that did miraculous things like sleep through the night, happily took a pacifier, let everyone hold him, was content in the Ergo, delighted at trying all944608_10202187715560688_862048644_n my homemade purees, and was just SO. DAMN. EASYGOING. People would somewhat jokingly ask, “What’s your secret?” Chad, taking this very seriously would start talking about routines and the importance of establishing good habits young. If I was within earshot I would launch myself into the conversation shouting, “LUCKY! We got very, very lucky, we did NOTHING, he’s magical!”

See before Cole was born, I had seventeen nieces and nephews. And I’d spent a LOT of time around them all. I knew their tricks. And I KNEW that babies were born with a baseline. They were good sleepers or they weren’t. They took pacifiers or they didn’t. They ate lots of foods or they didn’t. And YES, what you did as a parent could move them up a notch or two from their baseline, but you couldn’t totally change a kid that hated sleep and got up for the day at 4:45 into one that fell asleep in 2.5 minutes, slept 12 hours and would be chill until you were good and ready to get up too.

More importantly, I knew that we wanted to have another, and that the Baby Gods will smite you good if you get too smug. So every time Chad boasted our parenting skills as the reason our baby was so good I feared for our fate.

Sure enough, Evie was born. And remember all those badass parenting skills? Well wouldn’t you know it, they did JACK for our baby girl. No routine in the world could get her to sleep through the night. She flatly refused bottles, meaning she was basically permanently attached to her exhausted Mom. She gagged on all purees and decided it 11009959_10206477012350427_4296049865354671709_nwould be more fun to only accept giant, chunky solids, stressing us out every step of the way. She wanted NO ONE except Mommy, not even her Father for a good while. Holding her was a process far more complicated than tying a MobyWrap or folding a fitted bed sheet. She was So. Damn. Particular. She wanted to be held by me, except when she wanted to sleep at which time she wanted to NOT be held, but she wanted to swing and she wanted a blanket on her face JUST so (but of course it had to be monitored and moved when she fell asleep) and on and on and on.

It was like starting completely from scratch. We accepted that we had no role in our son’s excellence as a baby and took no blame for our daughter being such a bitch challenge.

Then, we had our newest baby, Izzie. She’s so freaking pleasant. She wakes up with a smile on her face every day. She doesn’t sleep or take a bottle. She loves to be passed around and held. She freaks out within seconds of pooping demanding that she be changed immediately. She’ll snuggle into you and make you want 17353147_10212748520534212_9024233825403400090_na thousand babies because she’s so incredibly sweet. But everyday we’re learning more about her developing personality – often trying to ascribe her characteristics to either her big brother or big sister. But everyday is a reminder that she’s not just like Cole, or just like Evie, but is Izzie. A whole new person we have to figure out.

And just when we start to get cocky, she does something new to remind us that no matter how many kids we have, we still may have no freaking clue what we’re doing.

How to cure

 

Bouncing Babies, koefoe party of 5, Mama Mojo, Married with Children, momlife, Momsquad, The Daddys, They Said WHAT?, vacation, Why We're Salty

Mama’s Going Out of Town: Reactions From a Concerned Community

When I was three years and three kids into Motherhood, I embarked on one of my most exciting journeys. A trip the HELL out of dodge. Without my husband. Without my kids. Just me, a cruise ship, the open ocean, and 9 of my best Mamas.

I was excited and apprehensive and happy and nervous and all the emotions. To be honest, I love to WATCH a Mom vacation a la Real Housewives of Every Single Franchise Ever, but there was always a part of me that was like, “why do they want to go out of town without their families so often???”

Now, I know.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Because unlike the Real Housewives of Everywhere, the drama surrounding my trip happened entirely before we set sail. Basically, the moment I told anyone I was going somewhere. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “Who’s watching the children?,” I could probably have paid for the entire trip. If I got another dollar every time someone had to pick their jaw up off the floor when I answered, “Uh….their father,” I could have covered my bar tab. Which, for the record, ended up being a very significant total. But I digress.

The people around me were VERY concerned with me going on this trip. Offers to assist Chad flew in from every corner of my universe. I could leave confident that no one would go hungry, because the neighborhood was going to band together and bring a collection of casseroles and baked goods. His arms would never ache because the biddies at church all volunteered to come over and “just hold the baby” while he tended to the other children. Other people got fancy with their plans. “I’ll take Evie, we can do something fun! Then see if your Mom can take the baby, that way Chad can just hang out with Cole! Guy time!”

Basically the message was this: If Mommy was irresponsible enough to just go and LEAVE her children with a practical stranger their Father, then my village was going to step in and provide backup.

Perhaps this leaves a questionable perception of my husband. By all accounts, he’s a pretty hands on Dad in every day life. He changes diapers, he plays and reads, he knows his way around a onesie.

But I get it. Three days is a lot of time with the kids. He isn’t as used to doing everything day after day after day. Alone. Let’s be real, three days would be a lot for anyone.

Know how I know that?

BECAUSE MY HUSBAND HAS TO TRAVEL FOR WORK AND I DO THIS ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

When he went to Wichita for three days, where was my casserole???

When he went to Utah for a week, who was coming over to hold my baby???

When he left to Connecticut for two days when our third baby was TWO WEEKS OLD who the EFF took the reigns and doled out my other children so I could focus on the tiny ball of NEED???

Yeah, crickets.

So I stood there, patiently listening to all the concerned voices and when they felt like they’d said their piece, I told them all the same thing, “Thank you, that’s very generous, but he’ll be fine.”

And guess what?

He was.

With a little help from my Mom 😉

Mamas going on vacation
Bouncing Babies, Kids' Activities, side hustle

How to Get Your Child Into Modeling (If You’re Sure You Want to!)

As you may have read on our blog last week, my son Abe spent a brief but successful six months as a baby model (if you haven’t read it yet, you should head over and read it here now. There’s some disclaimers!). We learned so much along the way, and even though we chose to walk away from the opportunity eventually, I’m so glad we went for it. We actually spent a lot of great one-on-one time together as part of the process, in addition to padding out his college savings account pretty nicely. Are you eager to get your little one started in the modeling world? Keep reading to find our 10 steps for getting started.

1. Know What You’re Signing Up For.

Having a child model can be amazing, but it can also be a bit stressful. There are hoops that need to be jumped through, and appointments to be made and kept, and castings and call backs to be attended (sometimes on only an hour or two of notice). If you have more than one child, this means you’ll need to have a lot of flexible, reliable childcare options available, as only the requested child will be allowed to attend the casting or job with you. And if you work a traditional job outside of the home, be prepared to be relying on your village to get your kiddo to and from “work” on a regular basis. Agencies want you available any time, and anywhere, with not a ton of notice.

2. Consider Your Location.

You should probably live near a metropolitan area to consider modeling in any real way, as there aren’t many companies that will fly you and your kiddo out for castings, or even jobs. But even if you live near one of these areas, be prepared to spend a lot of time in the car. Like, a LOT of time in the car. I live about twenty minutes outside of LA, but I regularly drove an hour and a half or more (sometimes because of traffic, sometimes just because of distance) to get Abe to work. And it does start to get old, especially when you make that drive for an audition…and don’t get the job.

3. Take High Quality Pictures (At Home or on the Cheap!)

Don’t go shelling out the big bucks to get headshots done- at least not yet! Abe got signed after submitting pictures we obtained from a $20 Groupon to JCPenney’s, so it’s not like we went all out to be selected. You can even take great pics at home, with a few simple tips. First, use a proper camera, not a cell phone. Dress your child in bright, solid colors (no logos or busy patterns). Take photos of them outside on a sunny day, with a neutral background (think the wall of your house, a brick wall, something like that.) Leave the accessories, like headbands and even earrings, off for this one. They just want to see your child’s beautiful or handsome face without any distractions. Submit photos of them smiling alongside neutral-faced photos (no real expression).

4. Secure Some Documents

Make sure you have an original Birth Certificate for your child, as well as a Social Security card. Many jobs and some submissions even require your child to have a passport (although we never got one for Abe). These things can be obtained later, but you don’t want to miss out on any work while you’re waiting for these things to arrive!

5. Find a Reputable Agency.

This is probably the most important of all the steps. Google “Best kids modeling agencies in (Your City)” and cross-reference different articles that you find. Look them up on Yelp, and in the Better Business Bureau. If you know anyone in the industry, ask for their advice. You want to know that you are signing with a good agency from the beginning. A reputable agency will not ask you for ANY money upfront. Not even for photos, styling, etc. If they ask for any kind of money, that is a HUGE red flag and a sign to get out immediately.

6. Submit Your Child’s Pictures.

Many agencies now have websites for you to submit online, or you can mail in photos. Then cross your fingers, say a little prayer, and wait for a response!

7. Celebrate! Or Shake It off.

If your child doesn’t get accepted? Please, please, PLEASE don’t get your feelings hurt. Your child is likely every bit as adorable as you think they are. But maybe they already have enough kids on their roster that are the same “type” as your child. As in, they’ve already got too many blondes, or they are full for your child’s age range. Feel free to update your pics and try again in a couple of months, because you never know what will have changed by then.

8. Secure MORE Documents

Now that your little bitty has an agent, take any direction they give you (still don’t send any money to an agent, and drop them like a hot potato if they have a photographer they require you to work with. Obtaining headshots is reasonable, but they shouldn’t cost you hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. You’re here to make money, not spend it.)

You will need to obtain a work permit for your child (you can do it online here if you live or plan to work in California). Your child will need a savings account, which you can likely set up at any bank. And if you live in California, you will need a special account called a Coogan account that is only for children who work in the entertainment industry. By law, 15% of a child’s earnings must be held in a Coogan account until they turn 18. Many major banks, such as Bank of America, do not offer these, but many credit unions (including the one we used, First Entertainment Credit Union) do, as well as US Banks. Get these done ASAP, because you have a very high change of missing out on work without it.

9. Update Your Pictures

You need to keep your photos updated, according to your agency’s standards or once every couple of months (especially when they’re little!) You can either take high quality shots at home, or hire a pro photographer to do them. That’s between you and your agent!

When you get your pictures updated professionally, your agent will likely ask you to get a photosheet made. They are basically a collage of pictures of your child with different “looks”- standing, sitting, smiling, serious, etc. Get a few printed up, as you will be taking these to auditions with you. You might even be asked to make a resume for you child which…I can’t even. It’s too hilarious. But still, it also may necessary.

10. Work, Work, Work.

Get to those castings, submit for jobs, and- hopefully- get to work! Your child will almost certainly not get chosen for every job and that’s okay. An industry person once explained it to me like this- a company is looking for a certain look for their ad- let’s call their “type” a Red Circle. Your baby might just be a Blue Square. They may be the absolute cutest of all the Blue Squares, but they are still blue, and still square. There’s no way they can be a Red Circle, and frankly, you wouldn’t want them to be.

So update those pictures, get to your castings on time, and just wait for the day when they are looking for a Blue Square. And then, little baby, it’ll be your time to shine.

So there’s our ten steps to getting started in the modeling world. Got a question we didn’t answer? Drop a comment below and we’ll get back to you soon!

My Son Was a Model Pinterest
Baby Model, Child Model, College Fund
10 Steps to Getting Your Child or Baby Started as A Model
Bouncing Babies, Cheapskating, side hustle

MicroHustle Monday Presents: My Son Was a Model (For a Minute)

Abram Torrez HRFor one brief, shining, so-very-SoCal moment, my son was a model.

That’s right, an honest to goodness, has an agent and gets craft service, model.

And honestly? Best . MicroHustle. EVER.

It started when I submitted him casually for a job through an agency some friends of mine worked with.  We were out of town for the shoot dates, so that particular job went nowhere, but it did lead to him signing with a reputable kids’ modeling agency. We were thrilled (I mean, that’s undeniable proof that your kid IS as cute as you think they are, am I right?), but no one was more thrilled than the grandparents. To be honest, I was almost embarrassed about it (did people think I was gonna be a stage mom now? Or that I was desperate? Or vain?) and I kind of tried to keep a lid on the whole thing. But the grandparents couldn’t help but tell everyone they saw anywhere that their grandson was a model before he had so much as snapped a picture.

I’m not gonna lie, getting started was a total nightmare. The agency we worked with was great, and SO helpful, but the mountain of paperwork was unreal. He needed a copy of his birth certificate and social security card (he was only three months old, so these had to be procured ahead of schedule). He needed a work permit, and headshots, and bank accounts and a special Coogan account (so a portion of his earnings could be held in trust for when he is an adult, in accordance with California law).  But FINALLY, a few weeks later, he was ready to work.

Taking him to his first photoshoot in La Jolla was just this side of hysterical.  There was a gorgeous home, a million snacks, and a fake mommy and daddy for him to shoot with.  He had an onset “teacher” and an onset nurse who made sure his every need was attended to. He wore a freaking Burberry onesie that probably cost more than he made for shooting that day, and definitely cost more than the outfit I was wearing.  He shot for all of 15 minutes, and we were off.  It felt like the coolest little mommy-son adventure, he made some money for his college fund, and, honestly, he was none the wiser.

But by far our most lucrative “job” was for a prominent diaper company.  And since babies shoot best with their actual mommies, I got hired too. You heard me right- I am a paid model.  You can be impressed now. Okay, you may not be impressed, but I was sure impressed with myself.  The set teachers held and loved on my baby while I got full hair, makeup, and wardrobe done.  Y’all. It was basically a vacation. We once again shot for twenty minutes, I got a free Diet Coke, and we were on our way with a VERY decent paycheck in our back pocket.  I quickly decided we would be doing this forever and all time.

And then, a few months and a few jobs later, the BAD SHOOT happened. Abe was ten months old, and was supposed to crawl towards a toy with a look of joy on his face.  Except Abe was not joyful. And he would not crawl towards that toy. He wanted the camera, the lights, the lantern in the background.  He wanted to crawl fast, or stand up, or shake the toy like a polaroid picture.  Anything but what he was supposed to do. And honestly? I got PISSED.  These people were counting on him, had PAID him to be there, and he just wasn’t compliant. I turned into the anxious mom, the one who’s like, “He’s never usually like this” (Side note: he is), the one who’s like “I swear he can do it, just give him another chance.” They didn’t, and he didn’t, and I left there disappointed and even a little angry.

And that was enough for me, and so I called it. I know it was just one shoot. I know this was the opportunity of a lifetime.  I know that this was the best MicroHustle I could have hoped to find. And I still walked away.  Some parents can keep that good attitude, know that kids will be kids, and shake it off and try again next time.  THAT is who should be pursuing this. They’re in it for all the right reasons. But me? I can’t do it. And so WE couldn’t do it

Every once in a while, pictures from one of Abram’s few photoshoots will pop up on Facebook or the internet, and I get so wistful thinking of those one-on-one adventures we used to go on. And frankly, I think of the checks we used to deposit into his savings account (I mean, let’s not pretend that isn’t why we were doing it).  But then I remind myself of the monster I could quickly have become, and I come to peace with my decision.

The grandparents however? That’s a different story.

 

Read all that and still interested in getting your child started in the modeling industry? We don’t blame you. We were too! Read all about the steps to getting started here.

My Son Was a Model Pinterest 2
My Son Was a Model Pinterest
Bouncing Babies, momlife, They Said WHAT?

YOU are Best

YOU Are Best

This week is World Breastfeeding Week, and as the Salty Mama that’s still attached to a person several times a day, I figured it was my civic duty to weigh in.

I’m almost 10 months into breastfeeding Izzie, and on paper I’m a Gold Star Breastfeeder. She feeds on demand and often, has never had formula and never taken a bottle (except for one weekend when she finally gave in, but that’s a story for another day). Basically I’m waiting for La Leche League to give me some sort of trophy.

The community that has been built around positive breastfeeding messaging in America recently is an awesome and powerful one. Once, when Evie was nearing a year, I was sitting at the kid’s swim lesson feeding her. A Mom sat down next to me with her child and struck up a conversation. She also began to nurse her baby and we exchanged baby stats. Evie was a big healthy baby, and this woman immediately started in on how it was all due to my hearty breastmilk. Our strong bond due to our physical connection through nursing. Basically all of my child’s positive attributes existed because of the way I chose to feed her. As a person currently breastfeeding a baby, those statements were a booster shot to the heart telling you you’re doing a great thing. What an ego boost! Hell yeah, my body not just created a person but is now basically making her super-human! If she gets good grades? My breast milk made her a genius. If she excels in sports? Literal Muscle Milk! I was basically raising an Olympic bound future Harvard graduate.

But there’s a flip side to this messaging.

One that I lived through with my son. My firstborn was almost 9 ½ pounds when he was born. And he was HUNGRY. And I tried, oh how I tried, to feed him. The first few days went well. He latched like a natural in the hospital and seemed to be happy. I left with all the confidence that I was going to do everything right. But when we got home it all went to hell. No amount of “help” actually helped. I had a lactation consultant berate me for “doing it wrong” while offering nothing constructive and better ones that told me I just had to keep trying, my milk would come in. By day 4 or 5 he was unhappy and hungry all the time, so I started pumping. For weeks, I was either trying to feed him or pumping around the clock. I spent so much time pumping and trying to make sure he had enough food that I feel like I actually missed some of his first days. I was exhausted – far beyond what I experienced with my daughters, who were by all measures “worse” sleepers and bigger criers – and felt like I couldn’t function. I watched other people feeding him the bottles that I worked so incredibly hard for.

After engaging in this battle for what felt like a lifetime, but was really about eight weeks, my husband finally intervened. “This is ridiculous. I’m getting formula. You’re both miserable.” In the moment, it was a stab in the heart. I was not ready to admit defeat. But I had to admit that he was right. We were miserable. On the one hand the idea of just enjoying my baby was such an intoxicating one. I could know that he was getting enough food. I could relax and snuggle with him without him straining against me trying to eat and being devastated when it didn’t work. I could be happy. But in the not so back of my head I heard the chorus of people that aren’t just pro-breastfeeding, but anti-anything else. “Formula is poison.” “You’ll never bond with your baby.” And of course, “Breast is Best.” But I was desperate. Anything was worth a try.

Four years later I so appreciate my husband stepping in and taking the reins. My son is so happy and healthy and beyond bonded to me, and if anything, formula saved us. Because breastfeeding just. Wasn’t. Working. And that’s okay. It doesn’t make me a bad Mother. It doesn’t mean I don’t want the best for my kids. It sure as hell doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids. And the people that want to insinuate that in the name of Breastfeeding Awareness need to try to take a walk in the shoes of those of us that tried and failed.

Because as I roam around my Mommy-sphere of the internet, I can’t help but see over and over and over again that mantra “Breast is Best.” While this phrase may be full of empowerment to those that are breastfeeding, it can also be a soul crushing phrase to those who – for whatever reason – made the decision, or had the decision made for them, to not breastfeed.

I know it was for me.

So I guess what I want to contribute to Breastfeeding Awareness Week is this: Be aware of all the absolutely wonderful reasons to breastfeed. Be aware of all the reasons that some people may not be able to breastfeed. Be aware of all the completely valid reasons someone may choose to not breastfeed. And then support each other. Because at the end of the day, YOU are best for your kid. YOU are what keeps them healthy and happy and all the wonderful things we strive so hard for.

Bouncing Babies, koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, They Said WHAT?, vacation, Why We're Salty

Panic at Panera

Road trips are always a huge endeavor, especially when you’re traveling with a bunch of little ones. You spend more time prepping for the trip than you’ll probably spend at your final  destination, making sure you have everything you could possibly need for every possible scenario: illness, peed pants, owies of all shapes and sizes, snacks – OH GOD THE SNACKS. Every possible book that will be required to get the kids to sleep at the end of the night and every toy that might be needed to get someone to stop crying/fighting/fussing/etc. I started getting ready on a Friday and a year and a half later we were packed, loaded and on the road.

Later that day, we found ourselves in the middle of what we thought was a seven hour drive – which ended up being over eleven hours – and were all in pretty good spirits. My husband and Dad were in the front row, chatting away, seemingly oblivious to the chaos of the back two rows. The kids were mostly singing songs from the major motion picture Moana and playing games they made up like “Guess the Animal,” where Evie gave charming clues like, “The animal I’m thinking of is a mouse.” It was cute, but freaking A man, was it LOUD.  We had strategically positioned the carseats so that no one could touch each other, so at least there was that. But even cute wears off after a few hours.

Then something happens and cute is a distant memory.

And when you’re trapped in the third row of a Ford Explorer with your very talkative20503897_10214160697637757_1520894625_n three year old sitting right next to you and your very hungry 7 month old screaming as she stares you down from her second row spot, the Panera off the highway might just look a little like heaven.

The second we parked the car I started yelling to the Daddies in the front row, “Please, please get the kids out so I can get out of the car, PLEASE!!” I scrambled over seats and literally fell into the parking lot, the black pavement scalding hot, but I was on LAND. And there was going to be food.

We went in, ordered and that’s when the fun began.

If you know anything about eating with kids, it’s that seat selection can make or break your meal. When in doubt DO NOT SIT NEXT TO THE NICE LOOKING OLD LADIES IN PANERA. This may have been a one off,  but just in case. Heed this warning.

We all sat down and started to eat. The baby – a staunch refuser of all things pureed – was sitting in her high chair enjoying one of a baby’s major food groups: the Mum Mum. Yes, it looks like I’m feeding my baby a bird treat but she loves it, so I’ll keep ripping open package after package as long as she likes. Being a baby though, she drops food. All the time. In quick succession she dropped not one, but TWO of the coveted Mum Mums. I chastised her playfully saying, “Silly baby, you’ve got to stop dropping your food!”

It was at this point that Lil Biddy #1 decided to mumble, “Of course she’s dropping it, it’s WAY too big for a baby….how can she possibly eat it….ugh….grumble grumble.” Uh, excuse me? I shot over a look, equal parts, “I’m sure I just heard you wrong” and “Nosy bitch says what??” Okay,  maybe not quite equal parts.

Resume meal.

At some point, Izzie ran out of Mum Mums and it was time to bust out the canister of Puffs. Both food AND fine motor skill enhancer, Puffs are pretty much the perfect food for a baby on the go. Sure, she can spill them EVERYWHERE, but the cleanup is pretty easy. What could someone not like about PUFFS????

Enter Lil Biddy stage left! This pushed her straight over the edge. “That’s it. I can’t stay here and watch this anymore. Those are too small! That baby is going to choke and die and it’s all that Mother’s fault!!!”

She, no joke, STORMED OUT OF PANERA. Lil Biddy #2 chased behind her crying, “I mean, I think those are actually made for babies….” but it was too late. She was dust.

In the moment, I actually thought it was funny. Me, feeding my baby food, that was made for a baby, was such terrible parenting that it drove two ladies from a restaurant. Are we in the twilight zone? It was honest to God laughable. In fact, my whole table laughed. But the more I thought about it, the more it chapped my ass. Who do these people think they are that it’s okay to just comment on every parent that comes in their wake? Because make no mistake. This was not unique to that day, to that Panera. Chad thought it was funny as well, and commented on how random it was which is when I realized that it doesn’t happen to him. It happens to the Moms. Our jobs are open to feedback and criticism and judgement, from anyone, anywhere.

Whether you’re in the grocery store, or an amusement park, or Panera.

And it’s BS.

So we won’t even get started on what happened at the next rest stop where….but Evie looked like this. So use your imagination…18697898_10213434533244101_1156915492_o

Bouncing Babies, Effing Four Year Olds, koefoe party of 5, momlife, Terrible Twos, The Salties

Introducing The Salties! Part Two

Yesterday you got to meet Jaymi’s little ones, and I know what you’re thinking: mic drop stuff. Trust me, I know. I love that little sassafras and my meatball like they were my own. It’s one of the many benefits of knowing someone’s kids basically since they were covered in vernix. (Too far? Sorry. But true). But ladies and gentledads, don’t write off the rest of the Salties just yet. Mine are kinda badass too.

So, without further adieu, I’d like you to meet my three: Cole, Evie and Izzie.

cole

Cole. Holy moly, where to start with Cole? Honestly, I’m not even sure.

Here’s the thing…I was actually supposed to be the one to post yesterday, but for the life of me I COULD NOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO DESCRIBE COLE. So you know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Here’s a picture that might help: C4 remix edition

This wasn’t something special. This was just like a Tuesday. He’s a performer that just wants to entertain and make people laugh. And damned if he doesn’t succeed every time. He loves to play in the dirt with toy dinosaurs and touches ALL the bugs, building them habitats and taking care of them like beloved pets. He also likes to wear costumes, sing, dance and get his nails painted. When you think you have him figured out, he will throw you a fastball. Oh yeah, he’s also like REALLY good at ball sports despite my great desire to never attend a little league baseball game. He’s also a really, REALLY good big brother, which is probably one of my favorite things about him. Also, dimples.

18136116_10214074985895017_1597724052_n

Evie. My little Grumpy Cat. This girl was born with a scowl on her face and a naughty twinkle in her eye. Sometimes I feel like I’m in physical pain because of how cute she is and the rest of the time she is driving me nuts. I’m pretty sure she’s the former out of necessity of the latter. She’s very particular and knows what she wants. I have high hopes that this will serve her well as a young woman, despite being utter hell for her Mama during the toddler years. She loves to play in the dirt while wearing a dress and “farkle jelly shoes.” (See picture above). She’s lightened up considerably in her short two years, and now spends most of her time striving to be as silly as her brother. And she’s giving him a run for his money.

Izzie

Izzie. My little Love Nugget. She is leaps and bounds more snuggly than any of my other kids. I had high hopes that she was also going to be my most well-behaved child, but then she stared at me in the eyes and took two steps. The week she turned 9 months. So I’m pretty sure she’s decided to defect and join the Bigs in their attempts at mutiny.  At least after playing she always wants to come back to snuggle with Mama. She pretends to be shy, but loves anyone and everyone. She has stinky little feet, an ear piercing squeal, and thinks sleeping more than two hours at a time is for losers. But we love her anyway.

If you’d like to see more of our Salties, make sure you’re following us on Instagram @thesaltyamas and like us on Facebook!