Category Archives: Babies!

Tricks of the Trade

We are more than half way through the summer, and it seems that vacationing with the babes is getting easier. There is always so much to pack, so many things to remember, and a zillion things I manage to forget. BUT, I think we’re getting a little better each time. Here are a few new tricks we’ve picked up that seem to help the kiddos for the long rides and crazy times!

1.) Keep food close. I always pack more than one bag of food, a cooler for stuff that will spoil, and then spare goodies in the diaper bag. Fruit and Goldfish are great. Even if it’s just crackers or individual apple sauce pouches, I try to keep stuff on hand for when someone gets whiny.

2.) Keep spare clothes in plastic zippie bags. For me, I’d much rather let them get messy and clean up later so as to keep every body cool-tempered. That means they eat in the car and make little messes all over. What can you do? I pack at least two outfits in zip lock bags to keep them fresh and offer a change of clothes when necessary.

3.) Tire them out before the car ride. Driving tired means the kiddies will prayerfully sleep, even if just for a short while, when we’re driving. They don’t like car seats, they don’t like feeling trapped, and they don’t like sitting for long periods of time. But they LOVE to sleep. This trip I made sure to have the kids swimming, running, and playing before we got into the car. It made them much less irritable and when we hit nap-central, we cruise-controlled our way through town.

4.) Plan ahead for rainy days. Summer time means rain, so I like to have a short list of plans for when rain comes along. Museums are great. I also pack rain coats and warmer clothes so that we can play in the rain. It can’t be avoided, and it’s super fun, so why not plan ahead so we can enjoy? This year we remembered umbrellas, too, and LM1 thought fishing with an umbrella was about the coolest thing he’d ever done. He fished off the pier in his raincoat and umbrella and became the wettest kid to catch a fish. #MISSIONACCOMPLISHED

5.) Work in a nap. I know when we’re on vacation everyone wants to have non-stop fun. I know, on the other hand, that fitting in a few really good naps is paramount to making it through the week. Make time for these, divide resources and find a way to let baby or toddler sleep it out a bit. This makes for much less grumpiness and way more fun in the waking hours you have together.

6.) Pack a play bag. I let my boys fill a backpack with some of their favorite toys before we go. It gets them into the routine of packing and brings the comforts of home on our trip. I wouldn’t recommend bringing a MOST FAVORITE toy, just in case it were to get lost. The toy backpack has helped in restaurants, on the beach, and in the houses we’ve visited.

What do YOU love to do to help make vacationing easier? I wanna know!!!

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That Repeated Phrase

There is a phrase I hear more often than any other when I am out and about with my two sons.

“You’ve got your hands full!”
Folks say this to me when the kids are laughing, crying, tantruming, shrieking, running from me, smiling, being polite or adorable. You name it, and for some reason or no reason at all, someone drops the line.
I think I can say without exaggeration that I hear it at least once a day, but usually more.
Sometimes it is accompanied by, “Two boys, huh? ” or “Oh boy!” or a simple “Wow!”
I don’t know what the phrase really means. What was it supposed to mean back in the day when someone came up with it?
When you hear a phrase so often, you might start to wonder…
Do I look tired? Busy? Flustered? Joyful? Are my “full hands” meant to be synonymous with “my cup runneth over?” Like there’s more love and laughter in my house with my two little lovies, and whoever is saying the phrase is really meaning, “I’m so jealous of you right now!!!”
I tend to assume folks look at me and think, “she looks overwhelmed” or “she looks like she needs help because her hands are so full.” Or I assume they are trying to make conversation.
It’s a terrible pick-up line/conversation starter, but, hey, maybe it’s all they’ve got.
The trouble is I can’t imagine how saying it to a mother who, in fact, is tired, busy, flustered and still joyful could make her feel better in any given moment.
The last time I heard the phrase, I was at the lake with my little men. LM2 was crying because he’s a baby, and plenty of times, babies cry. LM1 was crying because he was tired (I pushed nap time because we were having too much fun at the lake) and he didn’t want to leave. His protesting turned to all out kicking and screaming, shrieking and wailing.
But I carried both men in my arms, a backpack diaper bag behind me, sand toys tucked into an elbow crevice and trotted toward our truck.
A small, tan, smiling (laughing?) older woman stared for a while, and when I was finally within earshot she said, “You’ve really got your hands full.”
What am I supposed to do with that? Is that an invitation to start a dialogue? Does she want to reminisce about days from her own early motherhood? Was she showing sympathy? Empathy? Did she really need to laugh at the situation?
I’ve been thinking about this because I’m really not sure what this phrase even means.
I want to believe that little old woman is sweet and kind. I want to believe she was laughing and smiling to show me the humor in all of these sometimes stressful situations. Then I ask myself what the best case scenario could have been. What do I want someone to say to me instead? Do I want anything to be said at all?
And because the answer is not so transparent, I decided that I just need to come up with a better retort. Instead of smiling with a bewildered grin, I can say any of the following:
1.) “My husband can’t keep his hands off me!”
2.) “I’ve got three more at home!”
3.) “We’re hiring!”
4.) “And they’re all gunna be president.”
5.) “Oh, they’re not mine.”
6.) “And I’m pregnant with twins!”
7.) “Full is better than empty.”
8.) “Well, they’re not cell phones so ‘hands free’ isn’t always an option.”
9.) “Thank you. I’m not sure what to call your hands.”
10.) “Full is the diaper I’m about to change!”
and my personal favorite…..
11.) “Oh, I’m sorry. Did you want a hug? Maybe later.”
What do you do/say when folks drop this line on you???
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Potty Training Woes

I took my little men up to Long Island to see the family this past week. It was an adventure full of love and laughter, as expected and hoped for!  I must admit, there were a few unexpected happenings, thanks to the introduction of potty training.

I have not been super proactive about potty training because I haven’t felt a strong sensation that LM1 is truly ready for it. He’s not very interested in the potty, and we’ve tried underpants without much success. So, I left it alone for a few weeks because I’ve read that it is fairly damaging to force potty training on a kid who isn’t ready.

While on Long Island, one of LM1’s relatives introduced a new toy that “he could have when he pooped on the potty.”

I tried this tactic myself with a different toy a few weeks ago. My son pooped on the potty once, received the toy and had not pooped successfully on the potty since. I guess you could say he saw a means to an end and called it a day.

Well, the new toy was especially alluring, so he set his goal and planned to poop at some point during the week.

It took him a few days though. Every time he pooped his pants, he cried and cried, shouting, “Now I can’t have my toy!!!”

This was horrifying and made me question my parenting strategy. Which, I suppose is a good thing: I should be questioning at all times, working to make better and better decisions. But, how could I take the toy out of the equation after it had already been introduced?


Anyway, after a weekend of tears, he finally pooped on the potty and earned his treat. He was thrilled! He kept peeing on the potty, and all was well.

Then came time for the ride home….

My son asked to stop at “The Green Wawa,” which I finally realized was the Woodrow Wilson rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. They serve breakfast sandwiches (at the Starbucks) and convenience snacks, so he thought it was a Wawa. We stopped on the way out to Long Island to get gas, and he remembered.

The only challenge of traveling as a solo mommy is that kids have a tendency to fall asleep in the car (which is great! Kids need sleep!). But, if you’ve got one turtle-heading LM1 screaming and LM2 fast asleep in his car seat, you’ve got some decisions to make.

I opted to carry LM2 in his bucket car seat contraption into the handicapped stall. This was gross because I had to put it on the floor….and the germs and dirt and whatever else in there is skeevy, but I told myself it’s all a natural part of life, and my neuroses needed a weekend off anyway.

LM1 proudly mounted the bowl and started his business. Unfortunately, I forgot that public restrooms have automated flushers, so every time LM1 wiggled or shifted, the toilet flushed, which nearly soaked the back of his shirt. This led to crying and the need for a change of clothes, which I conveniently left in the car.

“Why is it splashing me?!” LM1 shouted.
“It’s automatic,” I said, “and it thinks you’re done pooping every time you wiggle or move.”

But an LM1 like mine doesn’t know how to sit still. So the thing kept going off, which led to more crying, which threatened to wake LM2.

So I stood behind LM1 and held my finger over the sensor. Which struck me after the fact as fairly unhygienic as well, but hey, I was already knee-deep in there. At least the thing stopped flushing. LM1 sat for ten minutes, sang songs and delivered rhymes, but failed to poop.

We got back into the truck, loaded up, and started again.

The complaints started twenty minutes later….when LM1 announced he needed to poop again. So, perhaps it was a bad idea, but I stopped again. It took a while to find another rest stop….because I didn’t want to get off the highway. All poor decisions, maybe. But by the time I stopped, LM1 had fallen asleep. LM2 was up and crying with a wet diaper. So I changed him, settled him down, gave him some food, and then considered waking LM1 so I could go to the bathroom. In the midst of our previous stop’s mayhem, I forgot to go. Which was a super realization. How did I not feel it before?

But I didn’t want to wake the dragon.

So, I made a snap decision… I peed in a diaper. I used some of my favorite yoga squat muscles and made it work.

Who knew potty training my son would lead to peeing in a diaper myself? Why is this the mystical way that parenting works?

Share your own experiences! What crazy things have you done in the throes of potty training?!

ALSO… is the super cool new potty seat we bought LM1, which I think will help make him feel confident.  Sure, it looks a little geriatric and there’s no Tickle-Me-Elmo to tickle his hinee, but I think THIS seat is gong to be the winner!


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The Lucky Spectator

I get to see some crazy, fun, incredible things each day. Life has been especially crazy lately, with lots on the schedule, lots of work to juggle, and the wildness of my little men. In the past few weeks, a few unexpected things have taken place that seem worth mentioning….to give those of you following our journey a bit of a chuckle. Enjoy! And, as always, share your own crazy adventures! I love hearing about your own excitement!

Enjoy! And, as always, share your own crazy adventures! I love hearing about your own excitement!

And, as always, share your own crazy adventures! I love hearing about your exciting lives as well!

1.) He showed Grampie how to work the DVD player, and told him it was ok if he watched Snoopy. LM1 knows very well that we don’t watch movies in the morning. But LM1 also knows to sneak into the guest bedroom to wake up Grandpa before getting Mom or Dad. And he knows that his excellent vocabulary and persuasive tone are likely to receive compliance from an innocent old man who goes by the name “Guppie” when LM1 feels like being especially cute, because he KNOWS how to say Grampie but knows how to work an angle, too.  When accosted about his actions he said, “Well, Grampie didn’t know how to work the…the… thing…(he doesn’t know that it’s called a DVD player but he knows which buttons to push) so I showed him.”

Right. Ok. Keep talkin’, kid.

2.) He peed on the ferry boat. I swear LM2 was only diaperless for thirty seconds….just before bathtime. So, we were in the bathroom, on a tile floor, and clean-up wasn’t that ridiculous.  But if we’re all being honest with ourselves, he aimed with some impressive precision, titled his (insert your own vocabulary word here) up into the plastic ferry boat and defiled it with a rainstorm of canary yellow. The small ship took the brunt of the storm. So, my floors were somewhat spared. But the boat……well…..the boat needed a little more than soap and water.

3.) He asked the mailman not to hit our mailbox. Because the mulch delivery truck did that a few weeks ago. So, in the eyes of LM1, no one else had better do it again. He’s very protective of our property, for some ridiculous reason, which is completely unknown to me. LM1 watches as trucks and cars drive by and he is just waiting for someone to knock the box and/or post over again. Maybe he thrives on action-packed afternoons? Maybe the bending of the post defied his sense of reality, and he wants it bent again. Regardless of his reasons, the shouting at our mailman comes across as a tad bit snarky. Imagine a two-year-old waving and shouting from the driveway, “Don’t hit the mailbox! Be careful! It’s right there!”

4.) He wiggled his little toes into the mouth of a baby. Can I first comment on this one with a raving, “Yuck!” and then say that it was hilarious after my initial disgust dissipated? LM2 was sitting in his high chair and a beautiful, gentle, curious, wonderful almost-one-year-old toddled up to the legs of the seat. Said toddler saw the toes, LM2 felt something brewing below, and the two halves came together. Do I call it curiosity on the part of both babes? Do I call it a freak accident? How could I have avoided this? I reacted in a way any mother would: I laughed my mommy butt off. #stilllaughingwhennooneislooking

And…speaking of butts….

5.) He asked why I put coupons in my butt. Well, try to get a free minute in the bathroom, Mommies. It’s no easy task. Try to hide the box of tampons. Try to sneak a moment of privacy. And then fail. When this happens, try explaining to your husband why LM1 thinks you put coupons in your butt. So far, his rationale sounds something like this: “Well, Mommy doesn’t have a penis like me and Daddy. So she needs to put coupons in there.” How do I fix this? #epicmomfail #howtoundothis? #WTF

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The End is Near…About Weaning

LM2 is one!!!!

I can’t believe it. He’s starting to walk. He’s eating on his own. He’s laughing at me when he does something he’s not supposed to – ie- throw crackers and milk on the floor and watch me clean it up.

Since we’ve reached the 1-year mark, it means bye-bye breastfeeding for me. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding. I believe in its nutritional value, and I mostly believe in its cuddle/comfort value for baby. But it’s kind of a stinky process. Let’s be honest. Breastfeeding is when your child is stuck on your nipples several times throughout the day. And when he’s not down there often enough, you start to get engorged, which is super painful. It’s a mixed bag.

The term “mixed bag” seems the most appropriate term for many things in life nowadays. Everything is wonderful and challenging, joyful and hard, frustrating and a blessing.

As I approach the start of the weaning process with this perfect little new man in our lives, I am so excited to gain a piece of myself back. Dropping our feedings means I don’t need to tote a breast pump, ice, and a cooler. I always feel like the drunk toting her own mixers in a restaurant (cuz I feel like I need to bring that little cooler everywhere!!!) Weaning means I don’t have to slip away and whip my boobs out at any given time if I’m with LM2 (even if I have great boobs that are worth sharing (I’m half kidding)).

But it also means our baby is growing. He’s not quite a baby anymore. He’s not interested in nursing and is ready! He’s looking for cups and food and the refrigerator!!! (Which is so cute and horrifying, because he keeps grabbing stuff on the lower shelf, like, a tub of sour cream, yikes!) And it means those quiet, private times we had together are going to change. We’ll find new ways to be close and cuddly without the presence of my knockers.

Things change.

And whenever a change presents itself in my life, I get a little scared, a little teary (ok, maybe a lot teary), and a little uncomfortable (yeah, I probably meant to write “a lot uncomfortable”).

I know there is a hormonal component at play here, too. At least, I love using that as an excuse: “Oh, Honey, it’s my HORMONES!!!” is a more common phrase in my home than I’d like to admit. But it is true that my body will change and react to the weaning process. My body chemistry is shifting. Some engorgement is inevitable. The fear of mastitis is always on the mind. And there is a piece of grief that rears its ugly head in the middle of all this. Here’s why: without sounding too full of myself, I’ll admit that part of me feels like I’ve been this life-source for LM2, as I once was for LM1, and now that time is simply…..OVER. And whenever anything is over, we grieve. Even if just a little bit.

I think what I learned from my process with LM1 is that we (baby and me) need to take our time with weaning. I like to drop one feeding once a week, at least. And together, LM2 and I will decide where we stand and what we need. I can feel that he’s ready. He’s more ready than I am. So, I need to do what’s best and let the process unfold. (Sidenote: Reading Emma Donaghue’s Room this past week was NOT the best idea on my part– even if it was completely unintentional.  I did not know there would be any discussion of breastfeeding in there. (It was a wonderful book, though!!!))

So, I’m sure the process will go as its meant to be. Apologies to those who see me crying randomly– it’s likely not you, it’s me!

If you’re a mommy working on weaning, here is a really super article that felt well-informed and helpful to me. And, as always, feel free to share your own experiences! I love to hear how you weaned, how the process went for you, and what’s new in your world.

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Beating Winter!

I love the fall because it’s the time of year when I fell in love with my husband. Everything about the fall strikes me as romantic because it takes me back to that time in college when I met this man I had a good feeling about. I didn’t know we would end up together. I didn’t know we would get married and have two kids in Pennsylvania 10 years after we met. I just had a great feeling, and I knew I wanted to keep feeling that way for as long as possible.

So, almost as much as I love the fall, I have to admit that I kind of hate winter. All those sweet, warm, wonderful feelings get warped in my brain as soon as winter hits. I didn’t always hate winter. But since having my kids, it is harder to be outside and it’s harder to get much of anywhere. There are hats and gloves and mittens. There are strollers and carriers to lug around and use or not use (if there is ice or too much snow). It is physically more challenging to get around with all this extra stuff. Then, once we get out, the kids don’t especially like the cold. So our outdoor fun lasts in 15-20 minute increments. WTF.

This leaves us mostly trapped inside. Which chaps my butt and makes me stir crazy. I like to move. The kids like to move. Jack Frost is a force to be reckoned with and there is only so much we can take.

I get kind of sour this time of year and I have tried lots of different things to help change this. The sunlight light bulbs. Going to the gym. Scheduling play dates. Keeping busy.

But this morning an amazing thing happened. A song came on the radio that shot me back into the past. Into my favorite time of year, my favorite moments in life. Those months when I was falling hard for a guy I had no idea would change my life. And it slowly occurred to me that I didn’t just fall in love with Hubs that fall. I fell in love with a season, a city, new traditions, and a new home.

So when winter comes and the first big cold blows through town, I am going to go back in my mind to love. Because to love is to live. And I can blow winter hard on its butt if I can find things to love about winter.

Here are some winter activities I’ll be enjoying…. (though I’m hoping you’ll share your ideas with me!!!)

1.) Making soup. Thank you, Ina Garten.
2.) Group exercise. Thank you, YMCA.
3.) Cross country skiing. The kids are getting snow suits and they will endure 15 minute increments until they love the cold. Thank you, Craigslist.
4.) Museum hunt. There are more out there than I know! I recently found the Reading Public Museum and it’s awesome for the kiddies.
5.) Pen palling. I don’t know if this will work, but I have a sneaking suspicion there is an app for this. Why not make a new friend via old fashioned letter writing???
6.) Pump the heat in our house for underwear dance parties. This may not be energy efficient, but I think it will make us smile. And sweat. And sleep better.
7.) House project. I’m going to get organized!

8.) Podcast exploration. So far I’ve found “The Moth” and it’s pretty amazing.
9.) Wake up earlier. I’m sure that staying up late serves no purpose but to make me cranky. So, HELLO BEDTIME!
10.) Book a vacation. Where to go? Here’s to thinking, plotting, planning, and scheming!

What are YOU up to this winter???

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Real Stuff That Really Happened

Here are some new things that occurred in our day-to-day that really, completely, totally happened…and I’m not exaggerating….not really….not at all. Who can make this stuff up?

Should I get one of these for LM2? Totes.

1.) LM2 crawled into the shower with all of his clothes on. That’s two layers of onesie, fresh socks, diaper, and a cute hat I’d actually gotten to stay on his head. I was heating up the water for a group steam shower (group=party of 2, including LM1 and LM2) to clean out their boogies. LM2 was clearly ready for the shower before I was. He made it inside, got soaked, and for some reason I was scared by this scenario and jumped into the shower. This means I got all wet, too. But nobody drowned, so that was a plus.

2.) LM1 fell out of bed. He doesn’t sleep in a bed. Nor did I lay him down in a bed. Nope. In this scenario, LM1 climbed out of his crib, jumped into the guest bed, fell asleep, and then fell out a few hours later. At 11 p.m., we heard the thud, went running, and learned that he’d taken up residence in a new space. Silly parents. Didn’t we know that he would do that?

3.) LM2 threw my night guard into the toilet. So, I realize now that this is gross to begin with– but I let LM2 hold my night guard case because it makes a clinky noise and it seemed to amuse him. It was a clean night guard. I turned my head to get a hairbrush and then heard the splash. Joke’s on me. Ugh.

4.) LM1 leaned his tunnel on the couch in an attempt to create a tunnel slide. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t yet understand the idea of supports and the fact that his tunnel is made completely out of nylon. He had so much fun trying to construct the tunnel that I didn’t bother to explain the error in his thinking. I figured he would figure it out. False. What we got, instead, was a twenty minute distraction that left everyone laughing.

5.) LM2 slurped the boogies out of his nose and into his mouth, then shuddered. If this weren’t so impressive, it would be more disgusting. Nah, wait a second. It is COMPLETELY disgusting. The saddest part of this story is that I would have missed it had the boogies not been florescent green. I saw the whole thing in slow motion– his tongue feeling up for the boogs, the consideration of moving them, and then the action to follow. It was awful and hilarious. Life, it seems, is always nothing more than one big dichotomous situation, unfolding in front of my eyes.

6.) LM1 is practicing his jumps and simultaneously destroying the house. So, I was cooking dinner for this one. I was at the stove, LM2 was in a high chair munching on some Cheerios. LM1 decided now was the perfect time to work on jumping off his step stool. I told him, naturally, that removing his socks would likely avoid injury. I thought of it as a successful attempt at establishing balance and I told him to “nail the landing.” He did this. Because he is athletic and a good listener. What I failed to recognize was that this little man was jumping whilst holding a pouch of purple carrot puree. SOOOO, when I turned around, clearly after way too much time and too many jumps had passed, the counters, the floor, the step stool and his little brother were all covered in purple carrot. Shame on Mommy. I’m sure I’ll think a little harder next time before agreeing to one of his “great ideas.”

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The Best of the Holiday Season!!!

The holidays are the best time of the year. They are exhausting with the little ones around, and some days become scream-fest-melt-down days if the truffle shuffle becomes too much for them to bare. All the ups and downs included, the holiday went off well and we smiled over some things new and unexpected.  What I consider to be the very best holiday moments are the following:

1.) Confusion over Santa’s eating of the cookies. LM1 could not decipher why the old man would eat cookies and why we had encouraged the eating of said cookies by putting them out on our hearth in the first place.

2.) LM2’s infatuation with eating the wrapping paper. He developed a preference by the end of our Christmas Extravaganza, and decided that the blue paper is best.

3.) I managed to make paella for the family. Without burning anything. Without forgetting any steps in the process (though I did forget one step for the tostones). Without leaving any leftovers. #bigwin #IamLatinaafterall

4.) We entertained many family members and managed to spend a full week surrounded by the ones we love. My uncle came to stay with us and brought smiles, laughter, and the “Christmas movie” Die Hard. #unexpectedblessings #psdiehardisnotachristmasmovie

5.) LM1 learned to sing “Jingle Bells,” though he pronounces it differently each time he sings.  We’ve now heard lyrics for “Ringle Spells,” “Stinkle Dells,” “Wrinkle Jells,” and “Jangel Bulls.” All confusion aside, I think he’s generally pleased with his singing ability and the joy conveyed as a result of any and all caroling.

Happy Holidays! Bring on the New Year!

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Funny Words from LM1

My kiddo makes me laugh… I like sharing some of our “conversations” with the hope that he’ll make you chuckle, too.

In discussing the cookies eaten following Santa’s arrival:

LM1: Where are the cookies?
Me: Do you see those crumbs? They are gone!
LM1: I see them!
Me: Where do u think they went?
LM1: I don’t know. Where are they?
Me: Do you think since we left them out for Santa Claus, maybe he ate them?
LM1: Yes. (Thinking.) Yes! It was Santa! And the reindeer.
(Pensive pause. Look of confusion. Some more pausing)
LM1: But why did he eat them?
Me: He gets hungry from all his hard work….delivering all those presents.
LM1: Are you kidding me?
Me: I’m not.
LM1: That’s weird.

In discussing what to do while I cook dinner:

Me: You need to amuse yourself while I make dinner. I can’t have you crawling around through my legs because I’ll fall or burn myself.
LM1: I wanna funk you up.
Me: Excuse me?
LM1: I wanna funk you up.
Me: What does that mean?
LM1: On iPad.
(I think, while holding a wooden spoon, messy-fingered and greasy.)
Me: Oh! You want to listen to Bruno Mars? Uptown Funk You Up?
LM1: You will dance, Mommy.
Me: I will cook dinner and you will dance, ok?
LM1: I will get iPad.

In discussing why sharing is important, while the boys fight over a garbage truck toy:

Me: You have to share with your brother.
LM1: I do not.
Me: You do.
LM1: He is not my brother.
Me: He is your brother and he loves you very much. He learns from you and your example, so you need to be kind, generous, and gentle with him. (Time elapses…..and then I remember my main point….) And you HAVE TO SHARE!
LM1: He can have this block.
Me: He wants to see the dump truck.
LM1: He can have Elmo.
Me: Elmo is his to begin with. That’s not sharing; that’s just letting him have what is his.
LM1: Baby Brother is hungry. You need to go feed him.
Me: Sigh…..

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The Gifting Loophole

giftsAnyone who knows me really well knows that I’m a little anti-gifting, especially at Christmas time. It’s not that I don’t like getting or receiving gifts; I understand that it’s fun and that it feels good to find treats for the people we love. It’s tradition to gift at Christmas! Don’t forget tradition! And everyone loves the sparkles. The smiles. The shock and joy when we open the perfect present. I get it. I get it. I like that part, too.

But I can’t lie: I don’t like the excess that Christmas has become. I don’t like the piles and piles of presents that I stare at before we open them….and I feel my Catholic guilt asking, “should all of this be going to a homeless shelter someplace? How many sweaters are there in these boxes?”

What if we spent money donating to others in need? How much money could go to a great cause? Or a few great causes?

I guess I’ve taken this idea to the extreme a bit. I’ve told my family before that if we took gifting completely out of the Christmas equation, I would not be upset. But I mean that. Really.

I know what you’re thinking: This is one of those things where you SAY you don’t like gifts, but you’re FULL OF CRAP. Because everyone loves gifts, right?

Well, no. Not everyone. One year my husband and I didn’t exchange at all, per my request, and we more than survived.  That has happened more years than once, come to think of it. We’ve passed on gifting for birthdays, too. Hubs really loves exchanging, and so, we buy each other gifts most years. But sometimes we decide we don’t need anything and that’s ok, too.

Regardless of this, for my kids, I’m especially critical about gifting. They are so small and young; they cannot appreciate or fully understand this whole gifting thing, what it means, what it’s supposed to mean, etc. They get so many presents that they become overloaded. They cannot remember what they got, from whom they got them, what all of them do, and when they should play with them. They like the process of unwrapping sometimes more than they like the gifts themselves. If you’re my 10-month-old,  you like the box in which a gift came in more than the gift.


Well, this year I made  an attempt to cut back on the Christmas gifting. With blessings from Hubs, I sent an email to the grandparents after Thanksgiving, asking kindly that they refrain from purchasing more than one gift per kid.

Well, this intention of mine was thwarted, not by outright refusals, shouting, or pouting, but by what my husband and I have dubbed “Gifting Loopholes.” Here are the clever loopholes we’ve encountered in the weeks following my said email. (And I’ll say this ahead of time: We are pretty delighted that we’ve been set straight. These loopholes are genius, admirable, and hilarious. We are laughing at the loopholes and ourselves for trying to enforce a rule that lead to loop-holing. All this is to say: there will NOT be a gifting email next year. Let gifting reign.)

Grandparent 1 said:

“Well, it’s one gift per kid, per grandparent, right? So, I can get one for each kid and my spouse can get one for each kid.”

= 4 gifts

Grandparent 2 said:

“Well, that didn’t apply to grandparents, right? I mean, that’s just what we’re supposed to tell the other relatives, right?”

= numerous gifts

Grandparent 3 said:

“Maybe I’ll pay attention next year. I bought everything well before Thanksgiving, so everything is already wrapped in my basement.”

= who knows how many gifts

Grandparent 4 said:

“I’ll just bring them treats in the weeks before Christmas that aren’t really ‘Christmas presents.’ Is that ok?”

= at least 4 gifts so far, and at least 2 to come at Christmas = 6 gifts

Grandparent 5 said:

“What if I buy presents and they can stay at my house? Then you don’t have to worry about the gift cluttering your house?”

= probably 2 extra gifts, because this grandparent doesn’t much care for clutter, either

Grandparent 6 said:

“You know you’re destroying the Spirit of Christmas….so….how do you feel about that? I will easily revive it for you.”

= don’t count the gifts, just count your kids. So long as you have 2 of those in your car, you’re fine





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