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

The Elf on the Friggin Shelf

It’s easy enough to pretend the Elf on the Shelf is not a thing when your kids are little. Maybe you pass by them in the store, tell your kids those are dolls, and move on with your life. Maybe you have vowed never to take up with that foul creature. Maybe you’re just bitter you aren’t the marketing genius that came up with that thing. Whatever the case may be, you’re probably okay skipping the elf without anyone knowing the difference.

Until someone starts school. And then get ready to hop up on that bandwagon sleigh.

I knew “all the kids” in Lila’s class had elves, and had even successfully fielded some questions about why we didn’t get one at our house.  Santa knew Lila was nice enough already without sending an elf to spy on her, and all the elves were visiting other kids this year. She accepted it cheerfully enough and I thought we were out of the woods.

And then we had a friend from school over for a playdate, and they asked to see her elf, and Lila was like, “oh she’s on the roof today.” I was a Hill, “silly Lila, we don’t have an elf,” and she burst into tears, and I found out my daughter sits on a throne of lies (see what I did there?). She felt super left out when the other kids were talking about elves, and so she had told them she had one, too. She’d even told them stories about her elf’s exploits. So when she got busted? Yeah, she had all the feelings.

So we wrote a letter to Santa asking what the hold-up was in the elf department. Lila requested he “find a solution and send an elf to this house by Friday.” (She told me to write that part in a stern voice.) So it looks like I’m heading to Target and trying to find an elaborate backstory as to why her elf took so long to get here.

*******

So for others who might find themselves in a similar situation…we’ve compiled this list of resources to help you.  Or not. Because, despite what our kids would have us believe, you are still in charge and you can do what you want to.

And if you decide to take on the Elf on the Shelf

…Check out the Paper Heart Family’s Elf on the Shelf for Busy Mom’s Guide for the easiest way to accomplish the whole elf thing without driving yourself bananas

…And follow our Easy Elf Ideas pinterest board so you’ll be prepared

…Or read why it’s okay to love the Elf on the Shelf at A Modern Mom’s Life

… But don’t forget to have some handy excuses prepared for when the Elf Forgets to Move.

And if you are never doing the Elf, never not ever…

…Prepare yourself with this List of Reasons Why You Don’t Have an Elf 

…Or simply Indulge Your Hatred with TheEverydayMomLife.com.

And if you started Elf on the Shelf and regret it every day…

Do what this mom or this mom did, pat yourself on the back, and pour yourself a margarita. It’s the Salty Mama way.

 

The #ElfontheShelf- Love it or Leave It? Read the pros and cons- and tips for either approach!- at thesaltymamas.com.

 

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

Disaster at the Dentist

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

Ha. Ha! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

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

Bouncing Babies, Effing Four Year Olds, momlife, parenting

Blowing Bubbles (And Crying About Ham)

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

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

Kids' Activities, koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, Tips & Hacks, vacation

5 Tips to Survive Your Next Flight with Kids

This post contains affiliate links, , but as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are our own. You can read more at our Legal & Disclosures page. Thank you!

When Cole was a baby, we went on a lot of trips. Before he was a year, he’d flown to Seattle, New York, Baltimore, and Hawaii twice. And generally, it went really well. Then we had Evie, and when she was about 4 months old we decided to try a flight as a family of four. But after a 45 minute flight to Reno, we swore off air travel. It wasn’t for us. We would drive, we would cruise, but there was no way in hell we were getting back on a plane.

Until now.

As a family of 5.

Going across an ocean.

It was time to get strategic. This isn’t a simple toss a baby in an Ergo, bounce and provide snacks type of production. And lots of the tips for road tripping with kids is applicable, but a plane has all. Those. Other. People. So here are plane specific tips for traveling with your band of misfit monsters darling children.

Continue reading “5 Tips to Survive Your Next Flight with Kids”

momlife, parenting, The Salties

Why I Believe in Gender Stereotypes (Kind Of)

As I’ve mentioned before, I never believed in gender differences. It was totally “Nurture” that caused little girls to hold baby dolls and boys to have bats, and it was societal pressure that told little boys to be tough and little girls to be sweet. Girls wear pink because of BIAS and boys wear blue because of GENDER CONFORMISM. Not my babies. Never.

Except my babies? ALWAYS. Continue reading “Why I Believe in Gender Stereotypes (Kind Of)”

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

Seven Skills They Didn’t Teach You in Parenting Class

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

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

  1. How to throw a ball.

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

  1. How to draw every animal in existence.

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

  1. How to move silently through a house.

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

4. How to Remove Objects from a Nose

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

5. Tetris Level Packing Skills

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

6. Emotional Awareness of Others, Bordering on Psychic Ability

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

7. How to Put Gloves on a Child

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

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

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

 

koefoe party of 5, momlife, parenting, The Salties, Why We're Salty

My Clock is Ticking

NO! Not my biological clock!! I’ve had three kids since 2013 and would very much like a break! No, unfortunately I’m counting down to something absolutely terrifying. I have nine years – or 8 years, 8 months and 21 days to be exact – until I get my first….teenager.

See, my kids drive my crazy, but they’re still pretty freaking cute. And they’re FUNNY. And they are so incredibly charming. And they make me smile for days. They are beautiful when they sleep and no matter how much we push each other’s buttons, at the end of the day they LOVE their Mama, unconditionally and, maybe more importantly right now, unembarrassedly.

Look, they’re not perfect. It’s taken me nine minutes to write this tiny bit because I had to referee two fights, get on my son’s case about throwing toys at the baby’s head and play three games of tic tac toe so that they’d leave me alone for a second.  Also this and this and this.

But teenagers…..that’s a whole different thing.

We spent a few days with four teenagers on our cabin trip this summer and their apathy made me want to scream. The way they sat with each other, but completely ignoring each other, with their ear buds in FOR FOUR DAYS STRAIGHT made me stare at them with utter confusion. I felt like I was eight hundred years old when I heard the words, “Did you BUY that shirt with that many holes in it on purpose?,” just FLY out of my mouth before I could stop it. I quickly tried to turn it into a joke, like “Ha, kidding! I’m a cool Aunt that would never actual say something like that! I’m not your Grandma! She’s the worst!” But jeez, seriously! There were holes! Everywhere!! And I could see her BRA through it!

But what pushed me straight over the edge and broke my heart was the way the brother and sister seemed completely and totally disgusted with each other. They’re 15 months part, a few months closer than my oldest two, and I have to assume that once upon the time they were enamored with each other like mine are. As much as mine fight over toys and torment each other by putting their feet on the other one, they are also self-proclaimed best friends. They love each other and aren’t afraid to show it. My son, who will one day be too cool to even hear this story, regularly walks up to his sister, offers her his hand and asks her to dance. Like WALTZ. While he sings “Beauty and the Beast.” It’s the sweetest thing I could ever even imagine my kids doing, and it happens almost every day. So to imagine a world where these two will seem to hate each other is more than I’m prepared to handle.

But it’s coming. Those teen years.

And I don’t know what I’m supposed to do to prepare. Is there anything I can do to stop this impending doom? Do I just accept that they’ll be apathetic and think I’m a loser and will have their eyes permanently set to “Roll”? I don’t know…I know I’m not on Team Friend, that I want to stay firmly in the Parent position, so I can accept a certain amount of “My Mom is SO out of touch” vibes heading my way, I’ve accepted that. But the rest of the stuff? I don’t know…the countdown is on though. And if the next 9-ish years go anywhere near as fast as the first four, I’m in trouble.

My Clock is Ticking.png

parenting, The Salty Mamas Bookclub

The Salty Mamas Book Club Presents: It’s OK Not to Share

Welcome to the second installment of The Salty Mamas Book Club! If there’s one thing that you take away from our latest book, it should probably be the Renegade Golden Rule:

It’s Okay if it’s not hurting people or property. 

Initially, this had me a little like, “Whoa. Then what ARE the rules??” But the more I read the more I realized it wasn’t about chaos and a complete lack of structure. There’s still discipline. There’s still order. I’m still the parent. And that’s when I decided I could really get behind this….So here are some highlights of what we loved – and what we didn’t.

Kids Need Conflict

As a teacher of young children, you can imagine the amount of tattling I dealt with.  “She hit me!” “He’s cutting!” “They said I can’t play!” And time and time again, my response was the same- “What did you tell them?” Because I’m not going to help you fight a battle you haven’t even tried to solve yourself.

So you can also probably imagine my delight when I found that “It’s OK Not to Share” has a chapter on the importance of conflict in kids’ daily lives. They are going to have problems with other kids and, sometimes, even with adults. Sure, we could rush in and solve the problems for them, which frankly just seems soooo much easier sometimes. But what if we gave them the tools to resolve conflicts on their own? The author recommends that we teach kids to speak up for themselves, to use strong voices to set boundaries, and that they are in charge of themselves.  And if they can’t do it on their own? That’s where the adult steps in as a negotiator, helping the kids to solve the problems for themselves.

“I Hate You!” Is Nothing Personal/Go Ahead and Let Him Hate the Baby

I remember the first time Lila told me she hated me. I had just made her leave a toy she very much wanted behind at a friend’s house, because she threw a HORRIFIC tantrum about it.  She was absolutely, ridiculously furious, and those big words just spilled right out of her tiny little body.  She looked vaguely terrified of herself, like she didn’t know what she would do next.  I pulled the car over, pulled her out of her carseat, and gave her a giant hug. She collapsed into me and sobbed and we worked it out. So yes, I agree that there was nothing personal about her “I Hate You.”

However, I disagree with the author on one big point here- I don’t think that she should be allowed to tell me she hates me. I think the author kind of agrees with me on this one too, because a few chapters later, in “Go Ahead and Let Him Hate the Baby,” she states that the child should never say she doesn’t like the baby within earshot because it will hurt their feelings. What about MY feelings? I deserve to have my feelings protected to, and so no, I will not allow my kids to say they hate me. Even if it ISN’T personal.

It’s OK NOT to Share…

It’s the name of the book, so we better touch on the attention grabbing rule that has people going, “But…But…But!” Probably like most of you, when my child has something another child wants, the words, “Okay, finish up and give your friend a turn” just come tumbling out of my mouth. I definitely do it with my own kids.  Heck, I literally wrote a whole blog post about how I mastered the art of taking turns! The words are mostly habit at this point, and to be honest, a little bit courtesy to appease the other parent as much as the child. “See? My kid isn’t a toy hog!” But what if my child was in the middle of some really creative play? What happens to my child when I end that before he’s ready? I’m pretty hardcore on team play. I love watching my son and daughter use their imagination in incredibly inventive ways – ways that I certainly don’t want to stunt.

I really enjoy the way this book has you “Take Off Your Adult Lenses” to see things as the children see them. This chapter talks about how “interrupting play – and instantly rewarding the other child – doesn’t benefit either child.” And that “young children aren’t ready to share, they’re ready to take turns.” So it’s not about encouraging your child to be selfish, but rather to communicate when they’re done with a toy and to then be courteous. We’ve implemented it around here, and I’m digging it BIGtime.

We’re Not All Friends Here/Hang Up a “No Girls” Sign

Ahhhhhh, why didn’t I read this book years ago? I can only imagine all the anguish and stress I could have saved myself, agonizing over why Lila was excluding kids and refusing to play with the male friends she had played with just last week.  It’s not that I would  have allowed her to be unkind, but I wouldn’t have spent months crying and reading “Little Girls Can Be Mean” and considering taking her to a psychologist to work on her mean girl behavior.  Because she was three.  There are lots of strategies in the book- again, like dealing with conflict and helping the kids find a way to work things out on their own- to help kids learn to play better together, but at the end of the day, there’s going to be squabbles, and that doesn’t mean my kid will be turning into Regina George anytime soon. Thank God.

Bombs, Guns and Bad Guys Allowed

This one was definitely the one that had me pushing back the most prior to reading. We have one water gun hiding somewhere in the garage, but other than that, we are a gun free house. We were those parents that made a conscious and very purposeful choice to “not keep guns in the home.” I was very skeptical that this book could do anything to sway me. So, of course, I changed my mind and told Cole he could play with guns.

Cole is obsessed with all things superhero. He loves to wear a cape. He rescues his sisters. And yes he was turning really ordinary things into guns. The strangest was the stand from the cleaning set. The mop, broom, and dustpan were thrown aside and a gun was born. I was trying to fight it. And maybe it’s just that the book let me stop fighting it. Because it helped me understand that Cole has very few opportunities in his life to be a hero. He gets things wrong, a lot. He’s always being corrected and having to learn things and all the scolding. But when he puts on his costume and grabs his “shooter” he’s a strong, powerful, good guy. And it’s fantasy. He gets that it’s not real and he’s four. I’m thirty four and should be able to figure that out as well. The book points out that children playing parents use dolls, pirates use swords (which we don’t seem to have a problem with), chefs have pots and pans and fake food, so good guys and bad guys need props too.

Furtermore, there are lots of great tips for how to ease into gun-play if you have a knee jerk reaction (like I did!). Plus, and I found this super important, the author makes it clear that kids should ABSOLUTELY understand the difference between play guns and real guns and has some great pointers for discussing that as well!

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Did we pique your interest? Watch us discuss the book LIVE on FB, Monday, Sept 18 at 8:30pm PST!

Need to devour this book yourself? Snag a copy here and let us know what you think!

The Salty Mamas Book Club

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

 

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

Taylor Swift: Look What You Made ME Do.

 

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

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

And now she doesn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

How Taylor Swift's new song,