Effing Four Year Olds, koefoe party of 5, Terrible Twos, vacation, Why We're Salty

How to Have a Successful Day at Disneyland

Collage 2017-08-03 10_09_47

As I sit here in our staycation suite, thanking the little baby Jesus that I somehow – finally – MIRACULOUSLY got all three of my spawn to nap at the same time I can’t help but reflect on the past couple of days…and how freaking good they went. Sorry, this is going to be a straight up BRAGFEST up in here. Because my husband and I just spend three days at “The Happiest Place on Earth” and it was actually the Happiest Place on Earth. At least most of the time. Which got me thinking – why???

What did we do to deserve this? Was karma just on our side? Had we had enough shit shows at Disneyland that we were simply due? I felt like I HAD to pin down the reason – hopefully to replicate it! As I reflected on our day, it came down to three things:

  1. Attitude
  2. Parenting
  3. LUCK

Attitude. Yesterday we were in line to meet Mickey and behind us was the grumpiest 20624061_10214214203175362_318810456_nperson in Disneyland. Yes, Grumpier than Grumpy himself. She grumbled all through the line to see the Mouse about how terrible the day had been. Someone asked her if it was the people? The crowds? No, it was EVERYTHING. Well listen, we go to Disneyland a lot. And yes, it was hot as hell and it was crowded and I’ll give you that it ain’t cheap. But it surely couldn’t be that everything is terrible. Take a minute to enjoy something. That place is CLEAN. Like, a first time Mom that’s a germaphobe could probably let a baby eat a cracker off the floor kind of clean. And there is such a meticulous attention to detail there’s lots for your eyes to enjoy everywhere you go. Chad could spend hours just checking out the plantlife – but he’s a nerd like that, so I cede that isn’t everyone’s jam. I just don’t know how someone could HATE absolutely EVERYTHING about Disneyland. So I’ve got to assume this chick needed an attitude adjustment. If you’re grumpy and miserable, nothing’s going to make you happy – not even a corn dog or a pineapple Dole whip!

Parenting. Okay, this may be controversial. But YES, parenting CAN have an influence on how your kids behave. It would be lovely to think that it was all a crapshoot and we were never responsible for our kids bad behavior, but tragically, it’s not true.

Side story: My husband does storytime with the Bigs before bed while I’m dressing/diapering/feeding the baby for her bedtime. Recently, I’ve overheard him reading “The Berenstein Bears Get the Gimmies” and talking to them about the Gimmies (“gimme this toy” and “gimme that candy” type of stuff). I was always like, “Hell yeah! Teach the kids to knock it off with the Gimmies!” Then one day my kids asked me to read the book. And, spoiler alert, it’s totally the parents fault that Brother and Sister Bear have the Gimmies in the first place! SO, moral of the story: Parenting. Dang it.

Back to Disneyland…The most commonly used four words to end a sentence at Disneyland? “….Or we’re going home!” As in, “knock it of or….” and “stay in the stroller or…” and “stop licking your sister or…..” And guess what? The kids know that it’s all BS! Cause you’re not gonna do it. So your threats mean nothing. Find a threat you can stick to. There with multiple adults? How about “….or you can’t go on X ride.” Yep, cause let me tell you, you only need to make Evie sit aside and NOT ride The Little Mermaid about once before she realizes you’re not playing. My kids will never remember where they left their shoes, but they will never forget that time their siblings got to ride without them.

Luck. Look, it may have seemed like I talk a big game back there in the ol’ “Parenting” section. But let’s be clear. I don’t actually know what the F I’m doing.  I also know that you can be a black belt ninja in parenting and still have the world go against you. Good parenting cannot make sure you get the exact color Teacup your son will die without getting. Good parenting does not prevent your daughter from spilling her brand new popcorn all over the place. Good parenting does not help when your 2 year old is to small to go on all the “good rides” her 4 year old brother is going on and the ONLY thing in the world that will make it better is riding on The Little Mermaid ride – again – and it breaks right before she gets on. In that case? You’re just screwed.

Use all your tricks, bribes, food, distractions and pray you can turn that juju around, because luck is definitely the most critical component for success.

But, if you have a great attitude and you find your inner parenting blackbelt and karma is on your side, maybe just maybe you can get a great day at Disneyland.

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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

koefoe party of 5, momlife, Tips & Hacks

How to Survive a Family Trip to Costco

It seems that every other weekend or so, my husband gets it in his head that we NEED something from Costco. A part of me seizes up inside because carts and samples and hot dogs and toys and clothes and so many things for the kids to ask for and so many places for them to get lost! Another part of me knows that I CANNOT send my husband alone because he will come home with a new TV, 96 beers, a giant tool chest, a squatty potty 2-pack and a gallon of potato salad. He will spend $800 and will not get the paper towels we were going for in the first place.

One might think, take a page from Jaymi’s playbook! Divide and conquer!! Check things off your list, girl! And I admit, that sounds good. But somewhere along the line we got into the habit of just being together all weekend. Even if that means five of us strolling through Costco trying not to lose each other. And for me, after five days of braving the day to day parenting alone, I want to attach to Chad like a barnacle and have him there to help deal with any tantrums, freakouts, blowouts, accidents, or injuries.costco shenanigans

So most Saturdays, after our family breakfast, we drive through the car wash (another family favorite) and then head to Costco. We’ve gotten it down to a bit of a science, so here’s what works for us – including a couple tips I KNOW you’ll love!!

1. Don’t be shy about the samples. I used to be so embarrassed to hover by the samples and get enough for Chad and the kids. No longer. I proudly announce that I’m with an entourage and take however many samples I need to survive until we get to the next aisle. Maybe even one for the road. It’s easier than having my kids throw a fit in the middle of the store. And guess what? No one cares! Except maybe the other people hovering waiting for free food, but guess what? I waited my turn patiently (I’ll turn into the sample police when it comes to waiting your turn) and they can wait for theirs. There will be more. Grab your stash and carry on.

2. Set limits about toys/books/craft supplies early. My kids go ape-shit for the books and toys at Costco. And they often have giant bins of some sort of crafts for sale. Unless you want eighty thousand puff balls and 40 baggies of glitter all over your house, set limits before you even get out of the car. I like to tell the kids they can get a book just to keep them happy. In our house we will (almost) always allow books. And a book or two is better than listening to my kids cry desperately for a GIANT BEAR THE SIZE OF MY CAR. We always give the bear a hug though. I’m not a monster.

3. Ask the cashier for an extra receipt. Yeah, you heard me right, your kids do NOT have to fight until the end of days over who gets to carry the receipt to the door and get a happy face. If you ask nicely, your cashier will print out a little extra paper so that each kid has their own!! This was maybe one of the most life-changing parenting tips I have ever received. So you’re welcome. Now, if your kids are like mine and decide to try to make the person working the exit play Pictionary with them I do not have help for you. But I do know sometimes they’ll draw a fish if you ask nicely.

4. At the food court – ask the cashier to cut your pizza slice in half. You know how the pizza slices at Costco are HUGE and your kids each want one and refuse to share? So you end up asking for a plastic knife and hacking through the thing like a bad slasher movie? No need my friends! If you ask, they will straight up slice your piece in half. AND give you an extra plate. You just gotta slide that over real stealth like and your kids have their own slice. I know. Life changing info here.

So yes, doing all the things as a family can be intimidating, but with a few tricks and tips, I promise it’s not as miserable as it sounds. And if it all backfired on you, the iced mocha at the food court isn’t half bad. You earned it.

costco

 

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.

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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!

Effing Four Year Olds, Kids' Activities, koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, Terrible Twos

When Dance Parties Go Bad

The morning started out in our usual way. Mommy makes coffee for herself, breakfast for all the kids, makes Cole’s lunch while the kids eat, and then once the kids are done/too restless to eat without making a bigger mess than I’m prepared to handle we move to the living room for a dance party led by DJ Alexa.

IMG_20170718_074937287[281]Alexa Dance Party is usually a complete and total highlight of the day. It’s fun Mom shit. My kids think I’m cool and not all rigid and full of rules. I lipsync to Trolls and Moana and put on a performance reminiscent of Britney in her heyday. I’m a pretty big deal for a few minutes each morning. The kids giggle and clap and dance and sing along and we all just have FUN.

Sometimes, when the party is really rockin’ and rollin’ I sneak out to go to the bathroom in peace. Inevitably this is when the party gets REAL real fast.  Usually it’s something I know how to handle: “Evie ate my banana.” “Cole knocked me over because he was dancing too much.” “Evie won’t dance with me.” “Cole is singing too loud.”

Here’s another banana, say you’re sorry, try dancing with Izzie, sing louder too.

I can field those all day long. I was not prepared for this mornings fight. I ran out of the bathroom to INCONSOLABLE SCREAMS from 2/3 of the children. I breathed a sigh of relief upon realizing at least the baby was happy. One point for Mommy. The other two were simultaneously screaming something about Trolls.

Mommy: Kids, kids, kids, what’s the problem?

Evie: Cole wants to listen to Trolls!

Cole: But EVIE wants to listen to Trolls!

Mommy: Okay, I don’t understand, you both want to listen to Trolls?

Evie: YES! But it’s MY TURN to pick!

Mommy: Okay, so pick Trolls.

Evie: But COLE wants to listen to Trolls.

Mommy: Okay, Alexa, play music from Trolls soundrack.

Cole: NOOOOO I want to listen to Trolls!

Evie: NO! It’s MY turn, I want to listen to Trolls!

Mommy: I’m so lost. You both want to listen to Trolls, but you won’t listen to Trolls because the other one ALSO wants to listen to Trolls?

Both kids (wailing): YEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS

What. The. Fuck?

I, of course, sent my Salty Mama Jaymi a play by play of this insanity that was my 20182465_10214046646946561_1450931712_o (2)morning to which she calmly and rationally responded: “Kids literally just want to make us crazy.”

And somehow, that made it better. My stubborn side came out, I dug in my heels, and played freaking Trolls. They screamed louder because they HATED that the other one was happy, even when it was really what they wanted. They threw themselves on the ground and then they decided to – yes, I’m going to go there – get back up again.

IMG_20170717_074305750[278]They just couldn’t help themselves. As quickly as it all went to hell, it went back again. In a few minutes, we were back to normal: I was painting my sons nails while breastfeeding Izzie…but that, my friends, is a post for another day.

Probably a day where the kids fight over who gets to tell Alexa they want to listen to Shiny from Moana. Because Lord knows they’ll both want to.

 

koefoe party of 5, momlife, The Daddys, Traditions

For the Love of Being Right

Things you should know about me:

  • I LOVE to be right.
  • I HATE to be wrong.

I know, most of us do, but I’m brave enough to admit that I can be kind of, well, obnoxious about it. I’m also incredibly stubborn. I know, it’s an incredibly attractive combination ain’t it? But I try, oh how I try, to not say, “I told you so.” Especially often. Especially to my husband. Lucky for me, said husband is also phenomenally stubborn, so we’re really two peas in a pod. He also is one of those delightful people that has to learn things the hard way. There is no amount of talking that will convince him that his way is not the right way.

So while I fretted about our trip to the cabin for weeks, he quickly dismissed my concerns, telling me not to worry about it. We were going with some of his family, and the quarters are somewhat cramped. I asked him repeatedly to make a couple calls to find out what the sleeping arrangements were. I do better being able to visualize where I’m going to sleep, where my kids are going to sleep, and depending on their proximity to me, how much alcohol to bring to survive.

Kidding.

Sort of.

He said we’d figure it out when we got there and it wouldn’t be a big deal. I took a deep breath, and chose to trust him.

I was worried about my husband’s expectations for the week…he wanted to take Cole fishing. He wanted us to go on a family hike to the Wishbone tree – a 45 minute hike each way. He wanted us to stay up and cook s’mores and share his love of the great outdoors with our kids. I worried about the record breaking river levels and it’s speed. I hate hiking and was skeptical our 2 and 4 year olds would be up for the trek. I warned that if we let them go too many days without a nap and staying up late they’d turn into actual literal monsters. They may grow horns and extra eyes, I don’t know, I just know that it’s not advised to try.

He thought I was just being negative.

He grew up at the cabin. He knew what he was doing. I’d see.

Now this is where you have to decide, dear reader: Which of us stubborn ass people won the day and got to be right?

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.

.

.

.

.

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Have I built up enough suspense??

Okay, I won’t make you wait any longer…..

ME!

That’s right. Me. This is NOT one of those posts where I realize that my kids are lovely, that my husband is capable and thoughtful, that I just need to take the road less traveled and be brave and bend the rules and not be such a rigid, negative, naggy B of a wife.

No, this is a post where the moral of the story is TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!

Because here’s what happened our first night: The baby was asleep, a minor miracle with all the excitement of a new place, the kids were just finishing up a movie, their beds set up, and we had almost made it to bedtime. And then it happened. My husband’s Aunt and a carful of teenagers pulled up. They came in the house, guns of excitement blazing, woke up the baby, amped up the other kids and killed any chance my husband had of being right.

We had arrived first and taken the “Master” room, as it was the largest room and we, the largest family. But apparently that room wasn’t to stay ours for long and we had to cede it to the Aunt who basically complained until we gave up. So then we had to move the beds – the ones we had set up for all three of our kids, shown to them, explained how this was the place they’d be sleeping, etc. – to the other, much smaller, room. The teenagers were to sleep up the ladder in the attic. A ladder that the teens had to go up and down one hundred thousand times in the first seven minutes of being there. A ladder that is VERY enticing to 2 and 4 year olds. 2 and 4 year olds that are supposed to be going to sleep even. Especially?

Three hours later, we had the baby back down and the other 2 were wavering between complete and total exhaustion and an undeniable desire to be outside around the campfire with their cousins. A delightful combination let me assure you.

The first morning went a little better…because pancakes are generally a uniting force no matter your age or how much sleep you got the night before.

And then we went on Daddy’s hike of his dreams. We slathered on sunscreen and deet, I put the baby in her carrier and we put the 2 year old in the hiking backpack. Off we went! And everyone LOVED it. For four minutes. We got hot, but we trudged on. The kids got heavy, but we trudged on. We got hungry and THIRSTY, but we trudged on. And then we found a GOD DAMNED ROTTING MOUNTAIN LION CARCASS. We did not trudge on. Cole burst into tears, and stubborn Daddy started to crack realizing this whole thing was a terrible mistake. I may have never loved him more than when he latched onto the giant dead animal on the trail as an excuse to turn around and head back.

As we walked back Daddy said, “Well, you’re a trooper.”

“And?”

“And this has been kind of a mess.”

“And?”

“And it’s been a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”

“And? Come on…give it to me…..”

“And you were right.”

“Thank you!!!”

God, I love to be right. But sometimes I really wish we didn’t have to live out all the wrong to get to the right…

Caffeine, koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, Traditions

Family Breakfast

Once you’re running around with a herd of kids, some things just don’t happen if you don’t make them a priority. If you don’t give them the sacred status of a “tradition.” Plans can be cancelled, but you don’t F with tradition.

And so it is that every Saturday morning, rain or shine, feeling like it or not, we load up all the kids and head to our local breakfast spot, The Potholder. (Or as Evie says “Popholder”) We went once on a lark, when we had just two kids. Evie was still a bucket baby that we could take in her carseat as she – God willing – slept peacefully while we ate. We had a good breakfast, but more than that we had a good meal. The next Saturday, we decided to try it again. And again.  And again. Before we knew it, we had a tradition. We had our spot. We had our “thing.”
Those early days were a fun time to focus on our firstborn,  give him some attention while the baby slept. Dinners as a family were touch and go….Mommy exhausted from a day of doing all the things, Daddy tired from working hard to take care of us. Cooking was a chore that prevented me from embracing the meal that followed, restaurants even worse. Saturday mornings seemed to be just the ticket. We were refreshed and looking forward to all the weekend had to offer. We had the confidence of parents that were going to tackle it all together – starting with breakfast.

As Evie grew, we had mornings that were absolute nightmares. More food on the floor than in anyone’s stomachs; jelly wars leaving everyone sticky and grumpy; bitter battles fought over the potential stacking of creamers – an activity that inevitably ends in an explosion causing you to ask, “how can there be SO MUCH CREAM in that thimble???” I felt the eyes of the other patrons burning into my soul, sure they were asking themselves why, OH WHY, we thought it was a good idea to go out in public with these kids. We left big messes – and even bigger tips -in our wake, shouting both apologies and promises to see everyone next week.

But some days are like pure magic. Our kid are polite, the people in the neighboring booth smiling at us as though we’ve done something right. IMG_20170128_075912310[164].jpgThey happily share pancakes, not even fighting over the melting glob of butter they both covet. The fold their hands and wait for the food, Evie squealing “our food is coming!” with a look that contains more excitement than the grown up me knows how to possess anymore. They play games we made up as we wait for our food, making us laugh and smile and wonder how in the hell we got so lucky to have these kids. And that’s what we call “The Sweet Spot.” It’s an elusive moment when everyone is pleasant. It’s fleeting, so sometimes I feel afraid to blink and miss it.

So we go when the kids are terrible. We go when they are lovely. We go when I feel like I could take on the world. We go when I ask Taylor, our regular waitress, to administer an IV drip of hazelnut coffee. We’ve gone when I was 40 weeks and 4 days pregnant. We’ve gone with a five day old.

But we go.

Someday we’ll stop going. And it will probably break my heart. So for now, we go.