hashtag mom life hacks

I love my babies.

Ooh, this fake snow with the consistency of soggy cotton balls was a great idea; good thinking, me.

You love yours too. I know this.

But sometimes… oh man, sometimes… the task of parenting is hard. There are certainly days when all I want to do is stay snuggled up in bed all day, totally alone, and yet, the kids need “breakfast” and “clothes” and whatnot. And so even though “stay in bed mom” is one of my favorite quotes from the cult classic Arrested Development,  I simply cannot adopt that lifestyle.

So here’s what I do when I am forced to maternally fake it ’til I make it.


Sure. OK. Bath time can be a crazy splashy experience that leaves everyone feeling soggy and tired. BUT. When you do bath time at, say, 2 pm? You can let that sucker drag on until the water turns cold. If you need to, keep one eye on your child and the water cascading down the side of the bathtub and the other eye on your book/television show/website of choice. To extend the fun, throw glow sticks into the bath. Instead of making the bath the thing to get through before you can finally put your lovely little monsters to bed, take the power back and let the bath work for you.


One of my favorite escapes is an earbud in one ear playing the podcast of my choosing. Thanks to my dear friend Leanne, that podcast is currently The Sword and the Scale, a true crime podcast that is incredibly dark and addicting. I think I like it so much not because it is wholesome and uplifting (NOPE) but because it really feels like the opposite of my everyday life. I can start a television show for my toddler and do the dishes while listening to people being totally, totally illegal. It’s a weird little macabre getaway, and I love it.

**NOTE: You can be less dark than I am and use music or happy podcasts in your ear too. I mean, you do you.


Some days will have too much screen time. Some days will have none. Accept the fact that everything in life is moderation and don’t beat yourself up for a lazy, visually stimulating day, especially during winter in Michigan. Especially especially during winter in Michigan where there isn’t snow to go out and play in but it’s still too dang cold to easily go play outside. The warmth will come. Embrace the cold.


Self-explanatory. Love your jammies, love yourself.


This last one is a little controversial, even in my own mind. Some days I really don’t want to leave (especially if it’s a self-declared Pajama Day; see above). But sometimes — perhaps this is when your toddler has dumped out the same box of crayons for the fourth time in a row — you say, “NOPE!” and you run errands (made up if necessary), find an indoor park or museum, go to a movie theatre, visit a friend, get in the car and just drive… I’ve had great success digging my way out of a hard mom day by simply changing our location. Yes, sometimes this can be more stressful than just staying home and repeatedly cleaning up that *&%^ box of crayons. Use at your own risk.

Being a mom is truly the most amazing thing I’ve done with my life… but it’s hard, y’all. Let’s stop pretending like the hard days don’t happen. Let’s embrace the hot, crazy mess that is motherhood and survive it together, however we know how. What are your mom life hacks?

’twas the night before christmas (for a mom)

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, except the mom, duh.
The stockings were ruined by the toddler each day
The tree, once a joy, now complete disarray

Yet despite all the mess, the mom’s heart did grin
(though perhaps that was due to the holiday gin)
“Tomorrow,” she thought, “will be joyful and fun,”
“And then — oh yes, then — Christmas will be all done.”

The children were wrestled like animals to bed
With visions of “PRESENTS!!” in their wild little heads
And the dad and the mom with the presents all done
Had just settled down for some holiday fun

When the door to their room started to shudder
“Noooo,” they both moaned, while a small voice said, “mother?”
Away to the closet mom flew like a flash
And emerged in a robe in a manner quite brash

“Santa won’t come unless you sleep,” mama said
And spent 83 hours putting the child back to bed
When the mom returned, the dad said “perhaps?”
And the mom looked over and sweetly said “not a chance.”

When the morning did come, along with new-fallen snow,
The cold winds outside made the fireplace glow
Children ripped presents, mom and dad shared a kiss
Right then the mom knew this was something she’d miss

So instead of wishing Christmas away
She vowed to keep a little bit in each day
So she sang carols in June and baked cookies in Spring
She wrapped soap and paper and silly old things

She hugged her kids hard, even when they were nuts
And told them how much she loved their guts.
She did all she could to keep Christmas in sight,
And hopes you can too — Merry Christmas, good night.

(And pass the gin.)

Merry Christmas from Premeditated Mama and family!

christmas time is here

Everyone: “Your kids are at such a great age for Christmas! What a magical year this will be!”

Me: “Haha (gracious smile), oh yes (eye crinkle) – magical.”

I’m here to make Christmas magical and eat tomatoes like apples, and I just ran out of tomatoes.

I love Christmas. I love my kids. But let’s be honest with ourselves: Christmas isn’t always magical.

Yes – of course – the spirit and true meaning of Christmas? Extraordinary. The month of December, with the 25th in particular? Occasionally – simply – extra ordinary. (Get it? Extremely like any other normal day? Have some coffee and come back to this one, it’s clever.)

My children are six and two, and this is the first Christmas that they both kind of understand that Christmas is a big deal. The six year old has memories from Christmases past, and it’s amazing to see him remember traditions and make connections on his own. My two year old is really, really, really two.

This photo has little relevance to the rest of the post, but I feel like Jonah is having a pretty intelligent conversation with that goat, and that makes me smile.

Jonah is your quintessential toddler this year: he loves decorations, he can tell you that baby Jesus was born in a manger, and he looks great in a holiday sweater. He’s also broken a minimum of seven ornaments and tried to make a snowman indoors. Before I had kids, I had this ability to turn off the world on holidays, even if only for a little bit. I could step outside my body and feel peace and warmth while my family and friends spread the love of the season. That’s not to say I have never felt my share of the depression that comes with the season – I could just step away from it momentarily to soak in the magic. No small feat, I understand.

But now? I have so much expectation for Christmas. Even if we aren’t your perfect television family in Christmas pajamas with perfect hair and makeup at 6am (yeah, no), we are together, laughing, embracing. There is no talk of sickness or cleaning or homework or potty training. There is simply goodness. No details. Just good. In real life, Christmas looks more like parents not feeling the coffee work fast enough while kids rip through packages so quickly they barely know what they’re opening. It looks like your toddler taking a self-imposed time out to discretely poop in a corner, inches from the potty seat that now has a permanent and disgusting place in your living room. It’s bag after bag of ripped wrapping paper and ribbons that took hours, if not days, to make your presents look perfect – only to become shreds in seconds. 

I think Christmas is hard because we want so much from it. 

I have a mantra I’m adopting this year, and I’ll be honest with you, it’s tricky. It’s countercultural and hard to live out, but here it is: Christmas is a day.

Yes, Christmas is a season, and the reason for the season is life-changing, life-giving, life-saving. We should not be grateful that Jesus was born to save us all only in December. We should not show our family and friends that we love them or read the second chapter of Luke or spend time making special meals only as the calendar year draws to a close. If we can add a little more Christmas into our every day life, maybe we can remove some pressure from the one day that brings all of our stress to a head. 

If you’re hurting this year? If someone you love can’t be near you? If your toddler is destroying things left and right and then inexplicably screaming at you about the messes he made? Take the pressure off December 25. Christmas is a day. I hope you can find things to bring you joy all day long, but if you can’t, realize December 26 is a day too. It’s a day that can bring you just as much magic and mystery and love – if you let it.

holly jolly silent night

Any red-blooded Christmas fan knows this to be true:


I love Christmas songs more than most songs. I say this collectively, generally, with “Christmas songs” being one big lump of songs I love.

Of course, there are some terrible songs in that lump.

Let’s explore them now.

In no particular order, here they are: the WORST CHRISTMAS SONGS EVER!

(Might this offend you? It’s possible. I love Jesus and I love Christmas and I love you, so let’s embrace our differences and chuckle for a minute, mmk?)

Do You Hear What I Hear?

First of all, this title is too long and it is a question, which makes it hard to say. “What’s your favorite Christmas song?” “Do you hear what I hear?” “Umm… no?” It’s a more personal question than “What Child is This?” another Christmas song with a question-asking title. (Though it should be noted I dig this song, and not only because it was my first opportunity to publicly say “ass” as a child. Yeah, it meant donkey. I was the kind of rebel who only rebelled by smirking slightly when singing the word “ass” in church.)

“Do You Hear What I Hear?” is essentially a game of telephone that starts with the wind (of course) talking to a sheep (with you so far) who passes along that message to an actual human boy (who apparently speaks lamb) who somehow immediately gets an appointment with the King, who broadcasts the news to his people. The wind couldn’t just talk to the King? I mean, the boy got in to see him no problem. Or perhaps the wind could directly tell the news of baby Jesus to the people? Unless the wind can only communicate with sheep. Can all shepherds talk to their sheep as well? If so, I feel like the wind could have just spoken to the boy and left the middle animal out of it. THIS SONG CREATES SO MANY QUESTIONS. Also all of the echos makes it sound like it’s the background music in a weird and spooky cave. No. No.

Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg

If you haven’t heard this song because you don’t obsessively listen to STAR 105.7, I’ll give you a moment to listen to this monstrosity on your own: Same Old Lang Syne.

Are you done? Great. Whether or not you listened to it just now, here’s a sample of the lyrics. This is LITERALLY HOW THIS “CHRISTMAS SONG” OPENS:

Met my old lover in the grocery store / The snow was falling Christmas Eve / I stood behind her in the frozen foods / And I touched her on the sleeve.


The song goes on very much in this manner for about fourteen minutes. Or six. Far too long for a melancholy Christmas song. Here’s your summary: ex lovers meet at a grocery store. They go through the check out stand together. They talk. They laugh. Talking gets awkward so they decide to go for a beer. They have a super depressing conversation about their lives. They part. The snow turns into rain.


I admit, there’s some hardcore torch song beauty there, but when you sandwich this sappy melodrama in between “HAUL OUT THE HOLLY!” and “ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME,” this song feels like a stray skittle in a bowl of m&m’s. 0/10 would not recommend.

Santa Baby

Please, I beg of you, don’t sexualize Santa.

The fact that he’s married still somewhat traumatizes me. I prefer to think of him as celibate even in marriage; better yet, I prefer to not think of his personal life at all. He delivers toys and eats cookies. As far as I’m concerned, Mrs. Claus only exists to make sure he takes his heart medication and likely to remind him where he left his boots and Santa hat (of course Santa has a specific place he should put them, but does he ever put them there? NO).

Come and trim my Christmas tree… NO. NO. NO.

(Yes she’s asking for decorations from Tiffany & Co. on her tree. Maybe I’m the only one making up all of the double entendre and it’s really just a simple song about a woman asking for a bunch of high-end presents.)


Mary, Did You Know?

I realize I could get a little heat for this one. I know people love it. They LOVE it.

I’m sorry, I… don’t.

This isn’t the Christian equivalent of the big Sixth Sense plot twist. BRUCE WILLIS WAS DEAD THE WHOLE TIME / THE BABY WAS GOD THE WHOLE TIME! No. I mean, if it was a total surprise to Mary, I could see some relevance here.

Mary: Heeeeey Joseph, so I know we haven’t “laid together,” but turns out I am “with child?” Like, that’s so weird, right?

(Thirty-three years and three days later)

Mary and Joseph: SAY WHAAAAAAAAT?!?

OK, so this song doesn’t just refer to Jesus’ death and resurrection. It lists many of his miracles and asks Mary if she knew he’d “give sight to a blind man” and “calm the storm with his hand.” To be fair, she may not have known these specifics. Here’s what she did know: An ANGEL appeared to her to tell her she was pregnant. An angel. Not a Clear Blue digital pregnancy test. An angel. And the angel said that Mary’s baby would be “great” and “called the Son of the Most High,” and that his kingdom would “never end.”

Please note the angel did NOT say “you will straight up birth this child next to a cow.” I mean, if there’s anything that would come as a surprise to Mary, I think it’d be the barn delivery. Mary, did you know… that your water will break… next to sheep and donkeys…

In short, I leave you with this meme:


All right dear readers who didn’t get so offended that they stopped reading halfway through — thanks for sticking it out. I hope whatever music you’re listening to right now brings you nothing but joy. Even if it’s a sappy Christmas soap opera. Or an elongated musical question Luke 1 quite succinctly answers. Or if you (gasp!) aren’t even listening to Christmas music at all. You do you. You’re the best at it.


so you’re waiting to go to walt disney world!

This will be my LAST post in the Walt Disney World Series… but do not fear! I have so many fun things in store for my very favorite time of year: AUTUMN! Back to school, holidays, apples, slow cookers, cardigans… OK, I’m getting a little carried away because all of those things sound fantastic. Also fantastic: DISNEY!

Not so fantastic: waiting for Disney.

But that’s what this post is specifically designed for. How can you pass the slowly dragging days on your “WDW Countdown app?” (As of this writing, we are at 31 days, for the record.)

(Also: what do you mean, you don’t have a WDW Countdown app? You will now. It’s OK.)

Waiting is hard, but we find ways to make it more tolerable and more fun. And, occasionally, lucrative.


Our “Money Chores” are special jobs Boone can do to earn Disney money. I have each chore and the amount of money it’s worth (ranging from 50 cents to $2) on a bulletin board in our living room. Boone is under absolutely no obligation to finish these chores — they are different from his normal, daily chores. He does, however, understand that if he chooses not to complete these, he will not get any extra spending money on the trip. 

To make it easy on mom and dad, who live in a world of “do you take credit cards? Excellent,” I have a small jar to collect the “finished chores.” Once the chore has been completed (and we check), we remove the card with the chore and amount, and place it in the jar. I’ll make a run to the bank a few days before our trip to withdraw the money that Boone earned.

The money chart, plus an old picture of Boone in soccer. (Where are those pictures supposed to go? I don’t think wallet pictures are a thing in 2016.)


Hi friends, I have something I need to admit.

Here goes…

I am not crafty.


(I’ve admitted this before? Oh, right. Only always.)

And here’s my real problem with crafts: I like things my way. I like things perfect. I am an INFJ with perfectionism and I don’t like to delegate or complete tasks I’m not sure I’m awesome at. I knew I wanted to sit down with Boone and giggle and craft and talk about Disney World together, but I didn’t know if I would be able to separate my need for control from my yearning to let him do his thing. Surprisingly, I let him take the lead. I prepped crafts and offered beginning instruction, and then I said “go.” And we giggled. And we talked about the Haunted Mansion. And I cringed when he went crazy with a spray bottle or cut the most jagged looking “straight line” you ever did see, but I kept my mouth shut.

And in the end, we have perfectly imperfect crafts and I learned a thing or two about my own desire for control and the importance of including your children and giving them freedom.

(HAHAHA on that second part. It would have been great if I had really learned that lesson. Mostly I stare at jagged lines and think must… redo… paper rings. I know I should learn about inclusion and freedom and you know what? I’ll keep trying. I’ll keep giving crafts and saying “go.” Until then, know this is my struggle.) 

At the advent of Pinterest, I thought I could change my craft-averse ways. I had so many boards of things I would create. I daydreamed spending long hours at Hobby Lobby and somehow turning broken chairs into coat hooks, or something. Oh, this never worked. I just don’t love crafting, and I don’t have much patience for it. So if you, like me, are craft-challenged (or you just want a couple crafts you can crank out in a very short amount of time), read on!

The Family T-Shirts

Oh, yes. Oh, yes we are that family. The family wearing the matching shirts as they walk through the happiest place on earth. (On day 1, anyway. After that it’s a bit of a free-for-all.)

In the past, we’ve made shirts with homemade iron-ons. We’ve also done tie-dye. This year: bleach Mickeys!

Boone sprayed all of our shirts, and I think he did the best with Jonah’s. What a little winner!

Mine… is… made with love. Made with love. Don’t fix love, Jennie, you don’t fix love.

This is an incredibly easy craft with only the following necessary supplies: non-white t-shirts, freezer paper, a printer (not entirely necessary, but it does make things easier), a spray bottle, and bleach. A full tutorial for this craft can be found here: Bleach Mickey T-Shirts

The Paper Ring Countdown

I’ll be honest, this craft  was inspired by the good old days of kindergarten. Cut construction paper into rings until you have enough for your countdown (as previously mentioned, we’re starting at 31). On previous trips, when we have done this craft, I would alternate black, red, and white paper rings (as we did again), but I’d embellish the rings in cute ways: black Mickey ears on the black rings, yellow “buttons” on the reds… and now I have two kids and summer just keeps happening, so we took Michael Scott’s advice and [KEPT] IT SIMPLE, STUPID.

We’ll rip off a paper ring each day and get ridiculously excited as the chain gets shorter.

Whatever kind of family vacation you plan for yourselves (and if it’s WDW, good for you!), know this: family vacations aren’t always relaxing. They aren’t the drink in your hand/toes in the sand vacations that parents in television shows seem to regularly take (where are your kids, huh guys?), but they can be FUN. You’ll be tired. You’ll be cranky sometimes. But, if you play your cards right, you’ll giggle and take pictures and not be responsible for making beds or cooking food for a week or so. 

Happy planning!

so you’re traveling to walt disney world!

If you’ve been following my Walt Disney World posts, you’ll know that I’ve written about a general overview to your Disney Parks vacation here and a more in depth look at the parks and the food here. Now that you have that Disney vacation in your sights, today’s posts will help make your travel and prep plans a little easier.

GETTING FROM POINT A (your house) to POINT B (Disney!)

What method of travel works best for you and your family? Car, plane, RV? Whatever method you choose, if you have kids in tow, entertainment is a must. Since we have, as a family, only traveled to WDW by plane, I’ll be focusing on this method. If you are getting there in a different way, however, you can adapt some of these travel tips so they work better for you.

Boone’s first trip to WDW; yes, he was seven months old.

Our plane trip will consist of a two year old, a five year old, and two adults — along with the rest of the passengers on the plane. To make an attempt at peace, I’m working on “Plane Bags” — small backpacks/tote bags filled with quiet but entertaining plane activities. Some of the items will  be things we already own (Boone’s Kindle, for example), and some will be brand new (like a draw-your-own Pokemon book I found on zulily.com a couple of weeks ago). I’ll also include gum (for Boone) and suckers (for Jonah) to help with the flight ascent and descent. The kids will be given these bags at the airport and will know nothing about them ahead of time.

For that time when we just need some extra help, here are some free printables that I’ll be bringing along with us as well:

Traveling with Toddlers (Q’s to ask, BINGO)
Games to Play at the Airport

OF COURSE, despite your best efforts, kids will be kids. They’ll get bored. They’ll get hangry. (So might you.) I feel better going into a situation armed with goody bags and worksheets, because at my core I’m nothing if not premeditated (and I’m also a teacher).


Pack stuffed animal friends, because you never know where they’ll end up after your room is cleaned…

There are a zabillion websites out there with tips on packing. Fit all of your belongings in a ziploc bag! Live exclusively out of your carry on! Literally hire movers to bring all of your earthly possessions to your resort for you!

…or something like that.

Look, if you’re here looking for things like “don’t forget clothes, a toothbrush, a bathing suit, shoes,” you’re out of luck. Except for that sentence right there. That one’s free. Instead, I’m throwing together a quick list of things that would be helpful to have at Disney that you may not think to bring. Ready? Here goes.

-Ponchos: Orlando is prone to frequent mid-day rainstorms, especially at specific times of the year. There are plenty of ponchos available at the parks, but they will cost you. The ones you can pick up at your local dollar store will work just fine (and you won’t feel too bad about wadding it up and throwing it away after you’ve used it, because I’ve never met one person who can actually refold a poncho to it’s original size). Bonus: people hide under awnings in rainstorms. Put on your $1 poncho and hit rides without waiting!

-Glow in the Dark stuff: You can buy this stuff EVERYWHERE — especially during fireworks shows — but they cost a lot and are quickly forgotten. Pick these up at the dollar store when you’re buying your ponchos.

-A spray bottle: Florida is hot. Grab one of these to mist yourself with coolness when the sun is showing no mercy. Also spray your kids. They love it.

-A refillable water bottle: Make use of the many drinking fountains around the parks and keep yourself hydrated without buying drinks (or using snack credits). In the past I’ve brought a Brita Water Bottle with its own filter to keep my water tasting the best.

-Breakfast bars: We usually eat breakfast in our room at the resort before hitting the parks because 1) it’s a time and money-saver and 2) some of us get hangry if we don’t eat within ten minutes or so of waking up (guilty).


Truthfully, I don’t craft often, but when I do… it’s for Disney.

It’s the hardest part. I know. Believe me, I know. Once you’ve booked the trip and you’ve started making goody bags and stockpiling glow-in-the-dark bracelets, you will want to get moving! But unless you’ve booked a trip in the very near future, you’ll be waiting. And you’re still waiting now, because next week I’ll have some fun activities and crafts to help pass the Disney waiting time!

Sending nothing but magical wishes your way…

summer tips (for new parents… of toddlers)

Congratulations! You’re the proud parent of a bouncing baby toddler. This is not a “summer tips for new parents” list, this is a “summer tips for new parents of toddlers” list. Whole new ballgame. There may have been a time (last year) when you thought it was a lot of work to go somewhere in the summer. Let’s say you’re meeting friends at the beach. Not only do you need your personal beach essentials, you also need your diaper bag, baby beach stuff, AND the infant in the clunky bucket seat. Almost easier to stay home, right? Nah, you got this. Armed with innocence and a healthy dose of what I like to call “crazy sleep,” you’re ready to visit to big, brave world.

HAHAHAHA remember when we thought it was hard to bring you places?!

Besides, it only gets worse from here.

It’s a brand new summer, and your tiny, well-contained child is now a toddler. He runs. He demands. He takes off his pants at inopportune times to announce things like “I pee on the floor!”

And yet.

You carried this child for nine months. You survived the period of crazy sleep (or you’re still in it; kudos). You brought this child, as a red-faced, round-the-clock-nursing infant to parties, church services, weddings, libraries, everywhere! Surely you can handle him as a summer toddler!

“Now pose nicely with your auntie! Aren’t we having fun?” “No.”

You can now! With these FIVE, LIFE CHANGING (ok, maybe not) tips…

1.) Repeat after me: “I have the power. I have the power. I have the power.”

Toddlers are amazing at sucking all of the confidence out of a room. If you don’t adopt this as your mantra, you’ll be spending your summer watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and eating goldfish from the bag. Who has the power?! Not the two year old, don’t fall into this trap.

2.) Always travel with at least six pairs of toddler socks. 

Your precious bundle of tiny human may be in sandals or barefoot all summer, but should you want to visit any bounce house/indoor play place, get some socks on that kid. Otherwise, you risk being turned away by the bounce house keeper, and this is a surefire way to bring on your child’s wrath.

3.) Two words: spray sunscreen.

Oh, it’s toxic and causes food allergies and cancer? If you think your toddler will stay still long enough for you to rub hard clay all over his exposed skin, you are wrong. Spray in his general direction and hope for the best. (Real tip: I do use spray sunscreen, but I spray it in my hands to apply on my child’s face/neck. He doesn’t risk inhaling sunscreen, and I’m in and out of there in about sixty seconds.)

4.) Always pack an extra pair of shorts. 

Because he’ll need a change after he’s pulled his first pair down and peed on them.

5.) Go.

So your small tyrant may have a meltdown. They may spend every second you’re away trying to escape from your line of sight. They may cry, yell “don’t hit me!!!!” when no one is near them, announce their undying love for their own private parts, refuse to wave at friends, wave exclusively at strangers, or anything else their little minds concoct, but mamas? Go. Don’t live inside and in fear of what could be this summer. Go and do and live.

And remember all of the embarrassing things your kids do so you can remind them about it at their wedding.

hashtag mom life

Last week I had a parental first. A milestone, if you will. While in the bath, Ev (22 months) suddenly stood up. I was sitting outside the tub and couldn’t see the water from my vantage point.

NOTE: This is an old photo. The following did not take place in this particular bath.

“Icky!” Ev cried.
“What’s icky, buddy?” I replied.

What was icky, friends? What is ALWAYS THE ICKY THING?


It was poop.

Floating there in the tub with a sense of superiority. Good job Ev, for feeling the appropriate level of shame associated with your own waste. To make a long, bleach-filled story short, the bath was finished and the tub was cleaned harder than it had ever been.

Then I washed my hands thirteen times.

In sharing this story with friends with and without children, the responses were (from the latter) “EWW” and (from the former) “HOW has that never happened to you before?!”

Believe me, non-parents, I feel you. Eww is correct. But it was amusing to me how different the reactions were. And it helped me realize that poop in the tub isn’t the only thing that is now just a normal part of my mom-life.

There isn’t a thing I’d change about my mom-life. It’s the best, poop and meltdowns and all. But it has certainly helped me see the world with different eyes than the woman I was before.

So I sat down and had a little conversation with my pre-mom self and we chose our five favorite phrases that have changed entirely since entering mamahood.

Do you have any to add?

1. Do you need to go potty?

What it meant before I was a mom: Do you have to use the facilities?

What it means now: Would you like to do your business now, or would you prefer to wait until you are in the bathtub? Or on Santa’s lap? Or as soon as I have changed your diaper?

2. Time for dinner!

What it meant before I was a mom: It’s a reasonable 6:30pm. 7 or later, perhaps, if you’re fancy. Have a glass of wine. Enjoy!

What it means now: It’s 4:45, dinner started five minutes ago, and half of it is on the ground. The other half is being pushed around a plate by someone who recently pooped in the tub. Bonus points if somebody throws up.

3. Let’s go!

What it meant before I was a mom: Put on shoes, if necessary. Grab coat, if needed. Go.

What it means now: Begin foot race around house in the style of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. Tackle small road runner (gracefully, and with love). Wrestle one shoe on foot while child wiggles and screams “NO!” Wrestle other shoe on foot while child removes the first shoe. Repeat this process several times. Throw child over your shoulder like a sack of potatoes (gracefully, and with love). Wrestle child into car seat. Listen to so many demands you feel like the assistant to a very rude and overly entitled diva. Cry a little bit. Go.

4. Time for bed!

What it meant before I was a mom: Nighty night. Don’t let the iPhone hit you on the face while you “wind down” to the Facebook/Twitter/Instagram cycle of self-inflicted insomnia!

What it means now: Take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, and start a carefully crafted routine that begins with you as Mary Poppins and ends with you as a zombie extra from The Walking Dead.

5. Netflix & Chill

What it meant before I was a mom: A fairly decent chance of starting a B-list movie and participating in some solid making out.

What it means now: Putting on/remaining in sweat pants, sprawling unattractively on a couch, recoiling at any and all physical contact, and exchanging mumbling sighs with your partner while alternating glances between your phone and your fourth viewing of the entire series of My Name is Earl.

your kid is a jerk (calm down)


Your kid is a jerk
(Calm down, mine is too)
They do jerky things
They make you say, “boo”

Don’t despair, fellow parents
‘Tis only a phase
They won’t be big jerks
For all of their days

Your special vocation
As mom or as dad
Is training the jerk
To maybe not be so bad

This job isn’t easy
This job isn’t fun
But you’re not alone
It affects everyone

You see, we are all jerks
At one point or another
But now, if you’re not?
Thank your father or mother.

John is right on the cusp of the phase I like to call “not always a jerky jerkface” (patent on that awesome phrase should definitely be pending). We went through a pretty serious “jerky jerkface” phase that I thought would never end. Not long after Ev was born (COINCIDENCE, I THINK NOT), John decided to play a fun game every night. I think this fun game was called “No matter how many times you put me to bed, I’m going to come out and bother you. Sometimes I’ll pretend to be an animal. I will not be listening to threats or reason. I will stare at you with the glassy eyed stare of a tiny, possessed ventriloquist’s dummy. I will not grow weary.”

That’s a pretty long name for a game. Let’s call it “Mommy Tears.”

So we played “Mommy Tears” very regularly for about a month and a half. On one memorable occasion, Ev was angry and refusing sleep. Our unsuspecting neighbor stopped by to drop something off, and Jay was at work, so I all but threw tiny Ev at him and went upstairs to deal with my jerky three year old.

So many nights ended in tears. For me, not John. Never John. His jerk heart of steel stayed emotionless.

I prayed, I cried, I texted friends with one hand while holding John’s bedroom door shut with the other. Jay thought I was completely overreacting until the first night he was home to witness this tireless act of jerky defiance. Once John was finally down for the night, he turned to me and said, “wine?” He understood. If you’ve lived it, you understand.

I’m happy to report that John goes to bed pretty well now. The struggle has ended. The manic, sleep-refusing energy has calmed. What did we do? What ended the phase?

Time did, you guys, it was time.

We stayed strong, and we hated every second of it. In the end, it wasn’t a pinterest fix or a bedtime chart or promises for lots of presents. It was John eventually learning that we weren’t indulging his late night rendezvous. This was a SLOW lesson, people.

And he was the jerkiest he’d ever been throughout the process.

You know what? He’s less of a jerk now. (I mean, he has his days.) I realized that one of our special jobs as parents is to endure the jerk phases now so our precious bundles won’t grow up to be jerky adults. What a service we are doing for the world! Your child’s jerky phase is not a reflection of you. At least, not current you. Maybe three-year-old you (call your parents and thank them for dealing with three-year-old you).

As much as you struggle, as hard as it is, your kids will not be jerks forever. Our kids are nothing if not a long term commitment, right?


(Need a glass of wine?)

10 things parents say (& what they really mean)

Every third week or so (but occasionally more frequently), Jay works a week of night shifts. He leaves for work around 4:30 in the afternoon — just about when John gets off the bus — and arrives home, usually to sleep, around 7:30 in the morning — just about when John gets on the bus. So these two don’t see each other too often during night weeks, and I know it’s hard on both of them. This morning, Jay got home early (and was fairly awake). John ate breakfast and got dressed with lots of time to spare before we needed to leave.

Jay leaned over to me and quietly asked, “do you think John has time for Mario Kart?”

We generally have a strict “NO MARIO KART BEFORE SCHOOL” policy, due to the fact that it can be hard to turn off. But today, the stars aligned and we had lots of extra time, so I said “yep.”

I told John that daddy was going to set something up, but it was a secret. His eyes got wide, and he asked, “is it a surprise for me?” I replied with a coy yet obvious “maaaaaaaybe,” to which he responded, “oh mama. I know what it means when you say ‘maybe’ like that.”

Gaming is serious business, you guys.

So I made that one pretty easy to interpret — but what else am I saying in code that he completely understands? Hopefully there is little else at this point, because I speak in code a lot. Here are some of my best phrases (and, of course, their interpretations).

10. “I’m going to put this in my special art folder!”
Yes, that folder is called the trash can. Look, I’ll save things like the first thing you wrote your name on, or a “very special person” project that I practically did myself and kind of consider your baby book, but every anatomically correct drawing of SpongeBob SquarePants is getting thrown away.

9. “Aww, did you get hurt?”
Aww, do I have to stand up? We came to the park so I wouldn’t have to stand up. Walk it off, slugger.

8. “Eat your veggies!”
After you go to bed, I’m going to toss my cold, half-eaten carrots and binge on your goldfish and all of the wine in the house. This is called “being an adult.” You’ll get there someday.

7. “Sorry, honey, I guess we’re out of goldfish. You must have eaten them all!”
See above.

6. “Mommy and daddy are just going to take a little nap in our room with the door locked.”

5. “Good job at your [insert sport here] practice!”
Watching you attempt to “karaoke” across the gym floor will forever be the memory that saves me from deep sadness. I love ya, you little klutz. And hey — there were even a few times I saw you looking at the ball and not a particularly interesting wall!

4. “We need to go RIGHT NOW.”
Could be one of two:
1) We actually need to leave in ten minutes, and I know that’s about how long it will take you to put you left arm in the sleeve of your coat; or:
2) We are twenty minutes late. I blame you.

3. “He’s never like this.”
He is 100%, always like this.

2. “All right, buddy — it’s bedtime!”
Oh, tiny friend. Daylight Savings Time has ended, and even though it’s only 5:45, the sun has gone down. You can’t tell time yet, and you’re driving me crazy. Also, I’m sure you could use the extra sleep. Is that a cold coming on? Did you think about coughing? This is totally justified. Good night.

1. “You’re the best kid in the world.”
You’re the best kid in the world.