momlife, parenting, Terrible Twos, The Daddys, The Salties

Salty Tears at Preschool Dropoff

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Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for nearly a year, Cole and Evie have had an emotional goodbye through a chain link fence. It’s like a scene out of some prison movie. They tell each other how much they love each other and are going to miss each other and then I tear Evie away from the gate telling her we’ll see Cole in four hours. Often, I have to carry her writhing body in one arm, while balancing a baby in the other, and haul these girls out to the car. After dealing with this week after week, month after month, Chad and I had to have a serious conversation: Is it time to start Evie in preschool?

We had made bold proclamations and decisions on our plan for Evie’s schooling. I’m a stay at home Mom and she’s just fine here with me. She can wait until she’s 3 like Cole did. We can see if they have a spot open in January and if they don’t she can start the next fall. Two years of preschool will be plenty for her.

But it seemed she was disagreeing with us.

So I asked the Director at Cole’s eternally waitlisted preschool if they happened to have a spot. No rush, anytime really, we’re fine keeping her home as long as we need – oh, what’s that? You already had her on a list because I mentioned it to you once in passing? She can start next month? Yeah, okay, that works too…Suddenly we were launched into preschool prep mode! I bought Evie a lunch bag, did some “Back to School” shopping, grabbed her a water bottle and talked about the impending start of her career as a student. She proudly told everyone, “I go to school with Cole soon!” She was excited. Like really, REALLY, excited. Drop-offs were suddenly much easier, because as they hugged and kissed each other each morning, they’d exchange excited words about how soon Evie would be joining her big brother.

She was excited. I was all the feelings. Normally made of stone, the idea of having two kids in school proved too much for my solid core to handle. I just wasn’t sure I liked this. At all.

Then it was the big day. We got dressed in one of our new outfits. I busted out the chalkboard easel for important stats and pictures and a giant display of “Evie’s first day of preschool!” I took a thousand pictures of the three kids in every possible arrangement – sitting, standing, two sitting – Evie standing prominently, all three sitting together – Cole in the middle, Evie in the middle, Izzie in the middle – you name it, I probably have a picture of it. Evie looked happy and proud – probably a combination of first day excitement and the promise of a lollipop in exchange for endless smiles.

We loaded into the car, drove down to school, hopped out of the car and proudly marched down the hall. Which is about when all hell broke loose. To our complete and utter surprise, our cool, confident, happy-go-lucky, independent daughter freaked the F out. We thought we’d done everything “right” to prepare her! She knows this school, knows the teachers, knows lots of Cole’s friends! Plus the school happens to be on our church’s campus (though not affiliated) so she literally has been in the classrooms since the week she was born! We talked, oh how we talked, about what the first day would entail. And she was sooooo on board. Lest she forgets, this was HER IDEA!

But, as is a woman’s prerogative, she reserves the right to change her mind. And oh did she change it. My husband and I looked back and forth for a minute, telepathically running through our options.

Me: Evie, it’ll be fine. Cole’s right here with you. *Jump in here dude! Tell her it’s fine!!*

Chad: That’s right, Cole’s going to go do circle time, you can sit with him. *She’s screaming! Why is she screaming??*

Me: Honey, honey, honey, calm down, baby. *I don’t KNOW!! We gotta get out of here!*

Chad: *We can’t just LEAVE her like this!*

Me: *Like hell we can’t! She’ll be FINE! Band-Aid! RIP IT!*

Chad: Okay Evie, Mommy and Daddy have to go, you’ll be okay. *You’re a heartless monster*

Me: I’ll be back sooooo soon, you’ll have lots of fun, okay? We love you! *Oh, grow a pair*

Us: Bye sweetie!! We love you!!

I may have been the one to force us to leave, but I thought of my sweet little baby all day, hoping she’d calmed down and found some fun. I picked her up a few short hours later. Before she saw me, I saw her eating and laughing and I knew we had made the right call. She looked up, saw me, ran and jumped in my arms.

When we settled in the car I asked, “What did you do today Evie?” She said, with a big smile on her face, “I did art and crying.” I laughed at her and hugged the heck out of that kid. I said, “Maybe next time we’ll try for just art, huh?” She replied, “Yeah, I liked the art.”

So yes, in the grand tradition of first days of school, there were tears. Lots of tears. Mostly from Evie. But, as terrible as it is to say, the tears were a nice reminder that even though she’s a sassy, independent, stubborn, “I can do it myself” kind of 2 year old, she’s still my two year old baby, that just needs her Mama once in a while.

 

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

10 School Readiness Skills (That Have NOTHING to Do with Academics!)

 

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This post includes affiliate links, which means we’ll earn a small commission off of in made by clicking through. Thanks for supporting The Salty Mamas!

The school year is rapidly approaching, and for the very first time, I am preparing my own little girl for going “Back to School.” As a former teacher, there are soooo many things I want to teach her before school starts- and believe it or not, letters and numbers are the least of my concerns! Here’s ten things that you can teach your kids that your Kindergarten/TK/Pre-K teacher will LOVE you for.

1. How to Write Their Name
This is a really, really hard thing to teach whole group. Spend a little time having them trace their name before having them move on to writing it solo. And feel free to leave the paper and pencil approach until later- check out Practical Name Writing in 12 Fun Ways by Hands On As We Grow.

2. Cutting on a Line/Curve
Similar to the skill above, scissor skills are really tricky to teach when you’re no longer one-on-one. Show your kiddo how to hold the scissors, to use them safely, and to move the paper (not the scissors) as they cut. You can draw lines on paper for them to practice with, or buy this colorful activity book that gets progressively harder with each page.

3. Coloring Skills
Now listen, we LOVE a kid who colors outside of the lines. BUT, there are times when coloring inside is important, too. Help your child to learn the difference between coloring for fun and coloring on schoolwork. Help them to decide when to use “realistic colors” versus when they can go rogue. Any coloring book can be used for this, but this fun book really narrows in on these skills.

4. Glue Skills
Let’s save the poor teacher some mess, yeah? Can you imagine cleaning up after thirty kids with glue bottles? Let’s don’t do that to him or her. Work on squeezing the glue bottle just a little (we use the phrase “Dot, dot. Not a lot!”). This exclusive, Salty Mama printable can help your kiddo to practice this skill, along with a few others on the list. Also work on using gluesticks. Need more help with gluesticks? This cute little craft kit  will give your child plenty of practice- and they won’t even know they’re working on school readiness skills!

School Readiness Printable
You can work on several school skills at once with this fun printable craft! Get yours here!

5. Pencil Grip
I don’t want your child’s teacher to have to run around to each student and show them how to hold a pencil. Think of all the time wasted! Have your child practice using a functional grip (on or two fingers on top of the pencil, with the thumb underneath). Is your child struggling? Use shorter pencils or crayons, which eliminates some of the other, less useful grips. Need more tips on how to help with this? Head on over to Living for the Sunshine to read more about ways to practice.

6. Folding a Paper in Half
Okay, this is a weird one, but there are a LOT of school crafts that involve folding a paper in half. Practice folding length-wise and width-wise (like a “hot dog” or a “hamburger,” if you remember from your school days). You can have them practice their scissor skills on their folded paper by tracing a half-heart and letting them cut it out.

7. Workbook Skills
I am no fan of workbooks personally, but there are going to be plenty of them at school. Grab one from the dollar store or the Target Dollar spot, or order a fun one here. Kids can practice valuable school-skills like circling an object, drawing lines from one item to another, and finding the line where they should write their name (or writing on the top right-hand corner if there isn’t one).

8. Putting Things in and Out of Their Backpack
Can you imagine the first-day-chaos if none of the kids could do this? Practice opening and closing backpacks with your kids, and make sure they are able to open any containers/packages that you plan to send to lunch with them. There’s not a ton of time to eat, and you probably don’t want your kid waiting the whole lunch period for it to be their turn for the lunch aide to open their Pirate’s Booty or juice box.

9. Taking Off/Putting On Their Own Sweater (Shoes, Etc.)
Big kid school is not like little-kid-preschool or daycare- there just aren’t enough grown-up hands to assist with these tasks! Help your child to become independent with their own zips/ties/snaps. And avoid sending them to school in shoes with ties until they can retie them on their own!

10. Wiping Their Own Booty (TK and Up, at the Least)
I mean, I’m just saying.  I can almost guarantee that wiping booties was not a part of your child’s teacher’s credential program, and someone’s gotta get it done. It’s gonna have to be your kid, so get to work on this one- stat.

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Effing Four Year Olds, momlife, Terrible Twos, The Salties, Why We're Salty

Terror at Trader Joe’s

Apparently I was feeling brave. Apparently I was feeling confident. Apparently I was a fool.

Because for some reason, I thought it was a good idea to load up my kids and go to the grocery store. But not just any grocery store, Trader Joes. Now, let me be clear. I LOVE Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have on near you it’s a wonderful neighborhood grocery store with amazing food and drink from around the globe and around the corner. When my kids were little – wait, they’re still little, but like, really little, cart bound “little” – TJ’s was the best. We’d walk into the store and there was always a beautiful buffet of bananas welcoming us. We’d toss a half dozen or so in the cart and then I’d hand each of my kids one. I mean, I always paid for the bananas later, but I think the produce lady at Ralph’s doesn’t trust that I’m actually going to pay….No such problem at Trader Joe’s. No one there threw us shade for sampling the product as we strolled through the produce section.

The banana usually lasted through produce and fresh meat, and then we rounded the corner and it was time to start looking for the Bixby Beagle. Now, I won’t tell you how long it took me to realize that the Bixby Beagle isn’t a fixture at all locations, despite it being named after my neighborhood, so I don’t know what the dog is called where you live – or if it even IS a dog – because I just learned it could be any animal, but I love that dog. Because it gives my kids something to DO for the next little bit. As I meander through the frozen foods, my kids have their eyes peeled for that beagle. Because when we find it? They get a lollipop! A nice fresh, not-covered-in-lint-because-I-found-it-at-the-bottom-of-my-purse-while-hunting-for-something-to-calm-the-storm-brewing-in-my-cart lollipop.

We can usually make the lolly last until checkout at which point my kids get to try to entertain the checker, who then HANDS THEM A MILLION STICKERS. It’s like Willy Wonka’s factory over here when they start unraveling the giant roll of seasonal stickers. Sometimes, they’re even scratch ‘n’ sniff. My kids think every day is Christmas at Trader Joe’s.

But then my kids got older. And they got wise to the fact that there are ADORABLE tiny little carts that are just their size! First the bananas, then the lollipops, then stickers – clearly Trader Joe’s was catering to their VERY specific needs. So it should have come as no surprise to me when Cole told me that “Uncle Robert” got him his very own cart too! This will teach me to pretend that the manager of the grocery store is related to us.

For a while, things were okay. Cole was the biggest and somehow Evie just accepted that she still had to ride in the cart and Cole was allowed to push his own. And he did surprisingly well. He took his new responsibility seriously and I think he could smell the fear on me and knew he was one bruised shin away from having his rights revoked.

Then I started getting wise. I started getting organized. And for the love of God I started going to the store while Cole was in preschool. Going to a store with a 2 year old and a baby only feels easy when you’re used to having a 4 year old there too. I had gotten so used to the chaos of all three that two felt like a breeze! It was like old times! And that’s when you start to make mistakes. You get sloppy. You decide to let the two year old give this whole tiny cart thing a try. You think this is your new normal, not remembering that there will come a time when you will have to go to the store again with all three kids, but by then, it’s too late. By then, you’ve created monsters.

Which is how I ended up as the caboose in a crazy choo choo train of tiny cart insanity. To those we ran down, I apologize. To those that looked at me like I’m crazy, yeah, you’re probably right. To those that muttered something under your breath like I couldn’t hear you, I could. I’m not even saying I disagree with what you said, but I heard you bitches, okay? To those that seemed entertained by us, thank you. And to those that gave me a look of, “Hell yeah, mama, you got this!,” a huge, huge, thank you. It was because of you that we made it. Because of you that I didn’t give up in the pasta aisle, just lay down on the floor and cry, and just GIVE. UP.

Instead we pushed on. Ate a banana. Found the beagle. Got our lollipops. Grabbed some stickers for the road. And got the F OUT OF TRADER JOES.   trader joes

Chick-Fil-A, Kids' Activities, momlife, The Salties

Our Love Affair with Chick Fil A

Collage 2017-08-05 09_42_04.jpgLoving Chick Fil A? Yeah, that’s one of our deeply held, core beliefs. There has been MANY a day where the only thing that gets us through is the promise of a trip to Chick Fil A…and I’m talking about the Mamas, not the Little Salties. So what is it about Chick Fil A that we love so much? We’ll do our best to put it into words.

Jaymi: Diet Coke. Limitless, endless Diet Coke.

Christine: Cherry Coke. ALL the Cherry Coke. And one for the road.

Jaymi: Abe is finally old enough to go into the play area. Lila takes him into it and helps him through the structure and tells off any kids that mess with him and it makes my heart BURST.

Christine: The play area is SOUNDPROOF. Like, I can only hear the most extreme of screams, when it’s probably getting real enough in there that I should pop my head in anyway. But the regular playful squeals that are the soundtrack of my life? Gone for a blissful few minutes.

Jaymi: My grown-up-size Chicken Nugget meal is big enough to split with Abe, so Lila doesn’t have to LOSE HER MIND when I suggest she share the french fries she was never gonna eat anyways with her brother, and I still only have to buy two lunches.

Christine: LEGIT fruit cups. Yeah, this sounds like a sort of dud reason, but I have to buy my Gremlins 2 kids meals and with one I get a REALLY nice fruit cup. And I look like SUCH a good Mom y’all.

Jaymi: There is a stool for my daughter to stand on while she washes her hands, so I don’t have to hold her awkwardly while holding Abe and hearing her yell about how she’s never ever ever gonna wash her hands.

Christine: Two words: Mobile ordering. Step one: Download the app. Step two: order from your seat while the kids play in the play area. Because let me tell you, wrangling three kids in line for food is a nightmare. Plus, I earn free food using the app, so cheapskating for the win!

Jaymi: Those disposable placemats for the kids. I’m not opposed to putting his food straight on the table, but I get to avoid the comments from other people who ARE opposed when I use these bad boys.

Christine: Seasonal milkshakes. Specifically peach milkshakes during the summer. I’m a sucker for a limited time offer like all things pumpkin in the fall, and their milkshakes are BEYOND.

Jaymi: They let you trade the kids’ meal toy for ice cream, so A.) The kids get ice cream! We get to prolong our stay! and B.) I don’t end up with junk toys scattered all over the house.

Christine: Everyone else loves Chick-fil-A so when I’m desperate and alone and need another grown up to witness my day, it’s pretty easy to get a partner in crime.

Jaymi: My best friend Mark works there. He is only my best friend because he works at Chick Fil A, but STILL.

Basically, Chick-fil-A is our everything. Our watering hole. Our recharging station. Our happy place. So go ahead, take all our money. It’ll be worth.every.penny.

How to Handle
momlife, The Salties

Fur Babies and Baby-Babies

The minute we moved into our house, I started dog hunting. I pored over animal rescue group Facebook pages, I searched City-funded shelters, I even looked up breeders and in pet stores. I knew my dog’s name was Ace, I knew he was under a year old, and I knew in my heart he was out there somewhere just waiting for me to find him and bring him home.

I had puppy fever.

And when we found him, I swear to God, it was love at first sight. My husband and I looked at each other and said, “This is Ace.” And when we got him out of the kennel to take him home, I swear to you, he knew we were his people, and he knew who we were. He pulled us until we were basically horizontal, straight to our car (he magically knew which one was ours his), waited impatiently until we opened the car door, and jumped right in. And he never looked back. And neither did we.

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We called him our baby. We fed him the best of foods, paid for the most expensive trainers, and bought him about 1100 beds until we found the one he liked best. He had a million toys, he had playdates, he had long walks on the beach and hours at the park. People were like, “when are you going to have babies?” And we’re like, “we have one.”
They always responded with side eye, a smug little smirk, or sometimes with distaste, like what we’d said was offensive at best, sacrilege at worst. “Wait until you get kids, you’ll see. It’s different.”

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And so we got a kid. And I know you think you know where this is going.

But Ace is still our baby.

We still celebrate his birthday each year with a cake. His new leash cost more than my purse did. He has beds in each room of the house, and custom-made water and food bowls that we bought for him on Etsy. We photograph him. We walk him. We love him. He is our vacuum cleaner, our motivation to stay active, and our evening-tv-time-snuggler. We tell the kids that Ace was here first, and that he is their big brother, and they need to respect him. And they love him, and they mostly accept that this is the way things go.

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So no, Judgey McJudgersons, we didn’t ditch Ace the moment people-babies entered our household. We taught him to run alongside a baby stroller, and to stay in his spot in the house and away from the kids’ rooms, and we taught the Salties that Ace is not a pony or a plaything or a jungle gym. And we keep a very close eye on them because, let’s be honest, life is unpredictable and dogs are dogs and kids are kids.

And Ace? Ace is family. From long before he actually arrived until long after he is gone, he’s our family. And he always will be.

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momlife, Salty Mama Lists, The Daddys, The Salties, Why We're Salty

Texts You Should Never Have to Send

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The Salty Mamas send each other a LOT of texts, because we value our sanity and sometimes you just HAVE to share your day with someone else that’s in the trenches. Then at some point you need to go look for something and when you see it all together like that you think, “Dear God, my life is a shit show! Literally!”

But the best way to feel better about the weird stuff you’re texting about is to send it out there in the world and see what comes back to you. (Or at least that’s what we’re hoping…) So here, dear friends, are our 25 Texts You Should Never Have to Send from July. Please make us feel better by adding yours.

  1. Best case scenario it’s food poisoning
  2. There’s a pursuit headed your way!
  3. No vomit yet, but the day is still young. I’ll keep you posted.
  4. Are we still friends or is it all over?
  5. URGENT: Corny (the stuffed corn) has gone missing. Do you know where it is??? This might be a matter of life and death.
  6. I’m listing my mom as my life partner on my membership.
  7. Eff. Oh, EFF. We can pay the extra $150 if we have to.
  8. She hasn’t had the firmest of poops…
  9. I almost dropped Abram putting him in the Ergo. People legit screamed. Out loud. I am the shame of Pretend City.
  10. Dude, your baby has the leakiest butt.
  11. Hey, so I’m getting a red light camera ticket.
  12. We took a ride on the hot mess express today. Keep your expectations for this evening low.
  13. Guess which of your children had a massive blowout. You’ll be wrong.
  14. She’s watching TV half naked, surround by books, eating stolen sugar.
  15. My son stole food from a homeless person today, so I’m pretty sure you’re a better Mom than me.
  16. Sorry, typing slow. Booger fingers.
  17. There’s a bird in our yard that sounds like bells jingling and I’m gonna murder it.
  18. He came home with a man cold. FML.
  19. He was like, “Why am I peeing out of my butt????”
  20. We survived. Ish.
  21. It’s better than a brain tumor, which is what Google told me it was.
  22. Jk regarding naps. Everyone suddenly awake. Three hours to go 😭
  23. I just drove through McDonald’s with my boob out.
  24. How many times do you think your kid has to throw up at Souplantation before you’re banned?
  25. We are COMPLETELY out of coffee.

I definitely hope I don’t have to send any of those again. Now it’s your turn! GO!

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.

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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, momlife, The Salties, The Wonderful Ones

Introducing the Salties (Part One)

I know every mom thinks their kids are the coolest, and I’m no exception. Mine are pretty awesome.  I mean, most days anyways. Other days I threaten to throw them both in the trashcan twice before 8 am. But that’s for another post. This post is for introducing you to my two little salties, the little cuties that made me a mama and the reason I drink have so much to say on this blog.

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Lila, Age Four- Lila is something.  That little girl started acting up in the womb, pressing her little booty against my tummy and shaking it for all the world to see. We promptly had to change her name from the sweet, demure Caroline we had planned to the takes-on-the-world-and-makes-no-apologies name Lila.  And she has not disappointed. Lila is petite, has this tiny voice, and has an incredible spark. My daughter is smart and fierce, she catches attention everywhere she goes, and is incredibly bossy shows amazing leadership skills. She loves making new friends, and can play with them for hours. She loves fashion and makeup, has five boyfriends at any given time, and loves nothing more than putting on a show for people.  She was born a diva, and she’s still going strong.

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Abram, Age One- Abe is still a baby, MY baby, but that doesn’t stop him from taking on the world. He’s a fully grown man trapped in a baby’s body. We call him The Meatball, and I am obsessed with his chubby little cheeks. He is bright and athletic, and is the boyishest boy the world has ever seen. He loves puppies, basketball, and cars. He wants to run, climb, and explore. He is easygoing, but adventurous.  Thank goodness he balances all that male energy with a soft, cuddly side that keeps him within mama’s reach most of the time.  He plays hard and with abandon, and then wants to snuggle in for some hugs and kisses before he’s off again.  He’s as quick with a smile as he is a pout, so Abram is sure to keep you on your toes.

 

So those are my two little Salties, but there’s more where that came from. There’ll be a whole other set of Salties to learn about tomorrow! In the meantime, we’d love to hear more about YOUR little Salties. Drop a comment to tell us about your babies below!

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