Tips & Hacks

6 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Going Anywhere with Kids

Before having kids, I was hella spontaneous. Whether it was last minute dinner plans, answering a friends invite of “let’s go out!” or literally leaving brunch to hit the road and go to Vegas, I was up for it all and with very few questions. So you can only imagine the ton of bricks that hit me when I had this tiny little baby that needed bottles and diapers and wipes and extra outfits and binkys and a suitcase full of miscellaneous items for a quick trip to Target. I mean, how much stuff do I need to run errands with kids?

And it’s not just the stuff – the stuff is manageable, and you can tackle leaving the house with a bunch of kids.  But you have to know where you’re going! And I’m not just talking how to get there fastest. There are a lot of things you never realized you need to consider before picking a location to take your kids. So now, I basically never leave the house without answering these six questions first.

Going to the park? Play place? Amusement park? STOP! Ask these six questions first to have a successful day! #goingplaceswithkids #dayoutwithkids #goingtothepark #goingtotheparkwithkids #amusementparkwithkids #disneylandwithkids #leavingthehousewithkids #checklist #domykidsneedsocks #howmuchdokidscost #momlife #dadlife #momlifehacks #momlifetips #dadlifehacks #dadlifetips #parenting #parentingtips #parentinghacks

Continue reading “6 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Going Anywhere with Kids”

Kids' Activities

Chuck E Cheese Hacks

Ohhh, Chuck E. Cheese. If you were a child in the 80s or 90s, you can likely remember the joy, the excitement, and the thrill of this place. They had pizza. They had tokens and games and tickets. And the prizes, good grief, THE PRIZES. It was like heaven for kids. And now that I am on the other side of it, I know the dark, seedy side of the Chuck. Namely, that parents hate it as much as their kids love it.

Not everything is awful about Chuck E. Cheese, of course.  Their pizza has improved greatly, and the ball pits only exist in the nightmares of germaphobes everywhere.  But as they have improved, we’ve noticed that their prices have crept slowly up.  Which, if you’re trying to limit the amount of time you have to spend there, might be a good thing. But if you’re desperate to show your kids a good time, the cost of the place can be a problem.

Lucky for you, we’ve scoured the internet and our local CECs to find the best collection of Chuck E. Cheese hacks, money saving tips, and upgrades to help make your trip to Chuck E. Cheese a little more bearable- or at the very least, a little less expensive.

Kids LOVE Chuck E. Cheese- but parents? Yeah, usually not. Hacks to make your visit easier (and cheaper!) from TheSaltyMamas.com.

Continue reading “Chuck E Cheese Hacks”

parenting, The Salties, They Said WHAT?

7 Things You NEVER Thought You Had to Teach Your Kids

Having kids is a big responsibility. You hold your tiny baby and think, “I’m going to teach you letters and numbers and colors, how to throw a ball and how to read” and it can feel overwhelming and exciting all at the same time. Kids are constantly learning and part of our job is to facilitate this amazing experience for them. And then they take off their pants in a Chick-fil-A and you realize you’ve been focusing on all the wrong things. And there’s a whole world out there of things you NEVER thought you’d actually have to teach your kids.

So here are seven things we learned the hard way that you absolutely MUST teach your kids.

#whattoteachyourkids #stuffkidssay #funnystuffkidssay #momlife #kidssaythedarndestthings #theysaidwhat #whattoteachkids #teachingkids #whatshoulditeachkids #whatdokidsneedtolearn

Continue reading “7 Things You NEVER Thought You Had to Teach Your Kids”

Married with Children

5 Times You Should Stop Correcting Your Partner

As a stay at home Mom, I’m a little set in my ways. I have a routine down with my kids and somewhere along the line I started to think that the only way things could be done was my way. I became increasingly frustrated with the way my husband was doing things, because frankly, I thought he was doing them wrong. He was getting annoyed and volunteering to do things less. He wasn’t as hands on as he had been in the past and I grew to resent that.

Eventually, I found myself asking, “Am I too hard on my husband?”

The answer was totally yes.

If you think you might be too hard on your partner, here are 5 ways that I lightened up.

#critical #parenting #dads #dadsparenting #amitoocritical #amitooharsh #howmyhusbandparents #amitoouptight #supportivewife #supportivemother #marriedlife #marriedwithchildren #happilymarried

Continue reading “5 Times You Should Stop Correcting Your Partner”

Bouncing Babies, Effing Four Year Olds, koefoe party of 5, momlife, Momsquad, parenting, The Salties, Tips & Hacks

Tips for Leaving the House with Multiple Kids

I was at the Aquarium, Izzie on my hip, one eye on Cole and the other on Evie. Wait – where’s Evie? Oh, there she is! Yes, one eye on Evie. Check. A woman with a toddler caught my eye and exclaimed, “Wow! I’m not even brave enough to bring both my kids to the Aquarium and you’re here with three!”

I never know how to respond to these confessions from other Moms. As a Stay-at-Home-Mom, if I didn’t brave the outside world and leave the house with three kids, I’d never leave. So hiding inside doesn’t seem like much of an option. And sure, some places we go are much more painful than other places. (Yes, I’m looking at you Costco and Trader Joe’s). But a place specifically made for kids? It’s not always fun and it’s basically never easy, but I promise you that if I can do it, so can you.

Here are some tips to help you get through it. Continue reading “Tips for Leaving the House with Multiple Kids”

koefoe party of 5, Married with Children, momlife, The Daddys

The Romance is Dead. Sort of.

Once upon a time, when it was just the two of us, my husband and I were younger people with lots of energy. We could stay up late, watch TV, talk to each other, enjoy a cocktail and, well….you know what happens next in the RomCom that was our “Once upon a time.”

Then we got married. Had kids. Became chronically exhausted. And some elements of those younger people’s lives slowly fell off the radar. We stopped watching multi-season television series and settled for single season commitments like Survivor or American Horror Story. We were maybe the only people NOT pissed off about Game of Thrones being only seven episodes this season because it was manageable enough that we could finish it. Half the time one of us is asleep by the time the other gets back from putting the kids back in bed after their philosophical inquisition/demands for water/”one last hug.” Conversations are often about said kids, our upcoming schedule, or what needs to get done around the house. I’m too tired to even drink wine, so I’m not going to spell out for you what else I’m too tired for. Continue reading “The Romance is Dead. Sort of.”

Cheapskating, Chick-Fil-A, Mama Mojo, MicroLuxuries, momlife, Salty Mama Lists

25 Things That Make Us WAY Happier Than They Should

If you had told us before we had kids that one day we would be absolutely giddy over double naps, I’d probably had thought you were crazy. How exciting will it REALLY be? I mean, it’s two kids falling asleep at the same time. Probably happens all the time. Except when it turns out it’s about as rare as that solar eclipse everyone was freaking out over. Triple naps? Haley’s comet status. So yeah, we get WAY more excited than we ever thought we would.

Here are 25 other things that made us WAY happier than they should have:

  1. Getting a good parking spot at the YMCA. Or anywhere.
  2. Getting the “Right” cart at the grocery store.
  3. When Chick Fil A runs out of balloons.
  4. Drinking coffee while it is still hot.
  5. The corner piece of cake because it has the most icing.
  6. The kitchen floor drying without anyone stepping on it.
  7. Five minutes of peace and quiet.
  8. New flavors of potato chips.
  9. Real Housewives reunions.
  10. A white shirt with no stains on it.
  11. $1 CocaColas/Diet Cokes from McDonalds/Anywhere
  12. Drive-Thru Donut Shops
  13. A really good fast food coupon.
  14. An Ebates double cash back day (link to sign up!)
  15. Free snacks at ANYWHERE
  16. When you stuck out a lot of boogers with NoseFrida
  17. Playplaces where I can just sit and watch my kids play.
  18. Perfectly crisped bacon.
  19. Going anywhere alone. I went and got a TB test on my own this week and it felt like a vacation.
  20. Dance parties of any kind.
  21. Ordering an 8 piece chicken nuggets from Chick-Fil-A and getting 9 pieces.
  22. Almost any meal I don’t have to cook.
  23. Watching my kid bust a move to his favorite song, with moves NO ONE wants to see.
  24. Live eviction night on Big Brother
  25. Drop-off playdate…..or any playdate really. Just so long as I don’t have to do pretend play.

What else are you WAY too happy about?

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Bouncing Babies, Cheapskating

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

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

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

And honestly? Best . MicroHustle. EVER.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The grandparents however? That’s a different story.

 

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

My Son Was a Model Pinterest 2
My Son Was a Model Pinterest
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

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

How to Have a Successful Day at Disneyland

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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 plant life – 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.

Will this one trick solve all of your Disneyland woe’s? No. But don’t let your awesome parenting lag just because you’re shelling out a downpayment on a car to meet a mouse in a costume.

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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