When we planned on having our first two kids rather close together, I didn’t take a minute to do some light math and calculate that we ran the risk of a December baby. So I think I made the ultrasound tech a bit nervous when she estimated my due date as December 18th and I looked “what have I done” levels horrified. YES, I was excited but OMG do you know how busy I am in late December? Continue reading “The December Birthday”
Yes, the internet is full of tips and advice for what NOT to say to a new Mom. Don’t give your advice on decisions she’s already thoughtfully made. Don’t tell her you once knew a girl in high school that was a total B that has the same name as her brand new perfect little baby. And of course say NOTHING about her appearance – except that she looks beautiful.
And yes, despite all those warnings, I have one more for you: Continue reading “Yet ANOTHER Thing You Shouldn’t Say to a New Mom”
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.
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”
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.
- Paint them. Rock painting is so in right now. Seriously. It seems that it’s the 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.
- 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.”
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!”
- Rocks as Cooking Ingredients. Stone soup isn’t just a classic story about a selfish
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!
- 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.
- 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!
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 later. Enjoy! Continue reading “Toddler Muffins Recipe”
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.
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 all 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 would 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
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 a 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.
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???
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?
With a little help from my Mom 😉
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!