For the first time ever, I am hosting Thanksgiving dinner at my house and I’m fearful of all that could go wrong trying to prepare for the Olympics of eating with two of the toughest, three-feet tall, goldfish-cracker smacking, food critics around. If the thought of cooking a bird bigger than my second child gives me pause, the idea of trying to make our house the backdrop for a sophisticated, adult dinner strikes me as totally ridiculous. It’s a feat as impossible as, say, getting both my kids dressed with their hair brushed and noses wiped. It’s just not going to happen, my Martha Stewart intentions be damned.
So I’m lowering the bar: I’ve warned our guests the holiday feast will be “kid friendly” (they make up half the population of our home, it’s only fair) and that it won’t be a feast at all, but rather a potluck wherein I will provide the turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes. If you want more than that, folks, please bring it. And a bottle of wine, too.
I was discussing Thanksgiving with the 3-year-old yesterday, which is always a tricky thing to do: I opted to skip over the genocide in the story and go straight to how we should all feel thankful for the blessing in our lives, like that we have enough food to eat. “Do we get candy?” she asked, at the mention of food.
“No, but there’s pie,” I replied, “And we’re having a party where all our friends come over and eat dinner with us.” Then, clearly confused by Halloween, she wanted to know about costumes. I explained that there would be no costumes, but if she wanted, she could wear one.
“And we’ll have a bouncy house,” she added, like that was as essential as a boatful of gravy, because for her, a party isn’t a party unless there is a blow-up bouncy house somewhere on the premises. The only problem with bouncy houses: endless drama as kids crash into each other. Someone is always getting hurt in the bouncy house.
Still, she loves them, even when she exits with a bloody nose.
Today, as she dove off the couch into a collection of stuffed animals that were “catching her” it occurred to me: Our house is a bouncy house. Who needs to rent one? The kids jump on everything and bandages run in short supply from the constant injuries.
So the party is on at our house and there’s one more thing I’m thankful for: health insurance.
Catch up on all of Andrea’s posts HERE or click on the images below for her most recent ones!
I don’t have many close friends or family with kids who can be considered “children” right now (outside of my cousin who has 4 boys under the age of 5…yeah, he has his hands full, but Christmas is going to be hilarious).
Anyway, it bums me out a little because kids are rad. Even the kids that are kind of jerks can be rad. As a former swimming instructor, I connected with a lot of my students. From watching them perfect their backstrokes, to encouraging them to take the jump off the high board or finally convincing them (really just one of them) they didn’t need to pee in the pool to be cool; not much has been more rewarding than seeing those kids succeed. I miss them . . . they’re probably like 20 now.
However, I did receive some good news: My best friend’s sister gave birth to her first child a few weeks ago and I am over the moon with excitement about being his “aunt” and possible swimming instructor. If he’s anything like his mom and dad, he’s going to be one funny kid.
So let’s celebrate your kids and all the kids in the world today with a little giveaway!
TELL US WHY YOUR KID ROCKS!
Post why your kid rocks below by Sunday, November 24 at 8 pm PT. Five (5) total winners will be selected to win any Rockabye Baby CD of their choosing.
CLOSED! Congrats to our winners: Chelsea, Jennifer M., Nise, Patrice A., and Catherine D!
The problem with Halloween is that it doesn’t end quietly the morning of November 1, skulking into the night with its emblematic ghosts to make way for the Yahweh of holidays…Christmas. Rather, it drags on like an after-birth hemorrhoid (anyone who’s ever survived labor knows exactly what I’m talking about), back again every morning to remind you, “Still here! Not going without a fight!” That is Halloween.
It’s the kiddy crack of holidays. Kids pumping sugar, unable to sleep, jonesing to get to their candy bag, up at the crack of dawn for rainbow-colored candies and petroleum-dipped chocolate.
Yo, time for an intervention man!
This is where the moms who don’t read food labels (not judging) all groan at me: “Chillax Mz. Uptighty-Pants! We all hoovered Halloween candy when we were kids. Let this generation get theirs, too!” This is true. A hundred years ago, when I was a babe, I found Halloween more sacred then the papal tiara. It was the one day a year when just about anyone touting a salad-tossed-ragamuffin costume and a pillowcase could run door to door for a couple of hours and return home with a wheelbarrow full of sugar in every imaginable configuration. Yeeeeeeee-uuuuuuuum.
But, and this is a huge but, this was also when sugar on any label was not “frankefied.” A time when, to be safe, we didn’t have to buy organic to trust that our food wasn’t poisoned. Yes, there were pesticides, but not like today. Now, if the label does not say “organic cane sugar” you can assume it is genetically modified. And that’s only half of it. Ever heard of tartrazine? It’s made of coal tar and is in just about any sugary treat that has color. How about titanium dioxide? A very suspicious metal oxide, great for paint or varnish, horrible for consumption. And don’t talk to me about trace amounts — the fact is our kids can’t skip a rock without landing on a birthday piñata overflowing with cheap chemical candy. It’s everywhere.
What makes me an expert? Nada. But I spent three hours on November 1 with my six-year-old looking up curious ingredients found on the labels of his many Halloween treats, trying to explain why we were going to Whole Foods the next day to redo his favorite holiday with good old fashioned “organic” candy (sans chemicals, sans the GM experiment). Oh, and put the trash candy under your pillow and the Tooth Fairy might drop you a 5’er.
This is why I think Halloween sucks. Not because my kids act like orangutans for three solid weeks, but because their sugar high is actually a petro-chemical high. Europe
phased out this toxic waste years ago. Why not North America?
So now I have two kids with five-pound baggers of sugarita in various guises (per 30 years ago), still waking up in the early hours to sneak jelly beans colored with purple beet juice and yellow turmeric, dancing around with underwear on their head and climbing the walls from good old fashioned glucose yummy-ose. Three more weeks of this and I can trade my monkeys in for kids again.
Of course, as a parent, every day is a day to think about child safety, whether you have a little tyke running around, or you’re expecting.
When I was pregnant, you can bet I was super careful going up and down stairs (actually, everywhere I stepped) to avoid face-planting or worse. I wasn’t jumping into any mosh pits or crowd surfing and I certainly wasn’t riding any roller coasters.
Now that I have a child, I’m constantly struggling with preventing all those worst-case scenarios involving my now 17-month-old every moment of the day. I do what I can to childproof everything. I’ve at times considered getting her a helmet — partly for my protection, too. But there’s only so much you can do. I’m learning more and more that part of keeping my child from getting hurt involves me not freaking out when she does.
When we recently traveled to Europe, the first 3 days of our trip in Stockholm entailed my daughter, Little D, mastering the art of face-planting. It was as if she was a baby again learning to walk for the first time. (She’s been walking since she was 9 months old, so she was pretty darn good at it, we thought.)
My husband and I didn’t realize that the combination of jetlag, wearing boots and unfamiliar European terrain would be so dangerous. Our little girl had experienced none of these before together or apart. So she went “boom” a lot. At the zoo, on cobblestone streets, in the hotel, on a replica Viking ship. Her face was bruised and cut, and I quietly sulked because I didn’t really want our dream European vacation to be filled with photos of D’s injured face.
But she was fine, as long as we said, “It’s okay,” and our actions that followed assured her that it was — versus me screaming or looking at her in horror. So after each face-plant, there was a little crying (sometimes wailing), but within a few minutes she was up, running and squealing with joy ready to risk each boom, because the combination of jetlag, wearing boots and unfamiliar European terrain excited her.
I just had to try really hard not to fuss over the owies on her face, or the adults with their owie-free kids, who saw D’s and were possibly judging us for letting them happen. Little D was a foreigner and she loved it, bruises and all. And that’s all that mattered.
From soothing those bruises from face-planting to introducing your baby to moonwalking, we’ve got a release for that!
Is it the moment your baby is born and you fall so deeply in love you think you might implode? Is it when you finally get comfortable referring to yourself in third person as mommy — “mommy wuvs uuuu?” Is it the first time you yell at your child and hear your mother in your voice?
When does this giant, life-altering shift occur, the shift to motherhood, the shift to “I AM MOM?”
My hypothesis is, it occurs somewhere around the time that everything starts to matter and every little needling thing has a consequence.
See, I don’t remember caring about whether my siblings or roommates brushed their teeth, got enough sleep or ate their vegetables. I don’t remember yelling before eight o’clock in the morning, or noon for that matter, or really yelling much at all. I don’t remember overanalyzing every little decision or conversation or feeling self-conscious or guilty about my choices.
When the hell did all this happen? I feel like such a MOM! And not the hip, cool, Kate Hudson — I just had a baby with Mr. Fabulous and am back to my fighting weight and it’s all such a breeze, I think I’ll do a Cover Girl campaign — oh wait, did that. Next!
Nope, the mom world I live in is the one in which every blasted thing is intense and ripe with consequences. If junior’s on the iPad too long, his brain will turn to mush. If I don’t volunteer for hot lunch, the other moms will call me a deadbeat. If my kids don’t eat protein for breakfast, they won’t be able to concentrate in school. If booger doesn’t tie his shoes by age 4, he’ll be a drug dealer by 16. I’m making myself crazy with consequences!
Why? Is it a race to perfect the human race, one wee child at a time? I think not. And even if that were the truth, noble as it may seem, it’s painful and I want it to end. I already paid the ultimate consequence for sex and love and being in a deep committed relationship, and that is my children — and it is a GOOD consequence, but an intense and giant consequence nonetheless.
It’s my job to be a mother, to embrace the shift, with none of the guilt, perfection and neurosis that someone (media? other moms? doctors? I don’t frickin’ know) are stuffing down my throat, or at least that’s how it feels. I will keep my kids safe, healthy, informed and hopefully create a passion for life and a curiosity that makes them interesting, broad, contributing members of our world. That is my job. That is a mother’s job. As for consequences? Shoo!
Now for a cup of jasmine tea and some Good Day, Goodnight, I’m about to find the perfect pastime — something that doesn’t matter.
Along with the post-Halloween sugar hangover, we are also stuck with a small truckload of pumpkins. My big idea for a pumpkin-carving party went off the rails when my three-year-old and her friend decided we couldn’t cut the pumpkins into Jack-o’-lanterns. The sight of her parents hacking at a personified pumpkin with a huge knife, it seems, was too traumatic even though the result was hardly frightening: the one Jack-o’-lantern we managed to make before her embargo was this kitty cat:
Not such a monstrous face, eh? Still, after witnessing the carving of the cat she held tight to her own pumpkin, on which she had painted the tiniest little face, and said, “Please don’t cut him.” So we didn’t; instead of a stoop of flickering Jack-o’-lanterns on Halloween night, we had a group of pumpkins with hardly discernable faces, painted ever so gently by my gourd-loving girl.
There is no figuring what is going to freak out a kid. Carving pumpkins? Yes. The woman we saw on the street covered in fake blood with a golf club sticking out of her neck? Not a bit—she was so funny! A kid dressed as Elmo? Terrifying.
Thank goodness the sometimes-scare fest is over. But what to do with all the pumpkins? Here’s how to have fun with them in a less, um, threatening way.
PAINT THOSE PUMPKINS
While Jack-o’-lanterns have a one-holiday-only life span, the pumpkin serves as an item of seasonal décor till December. So if you haven’t already cut yours up, paint them and use the pumpkins as centerpieces for the Thanksgiving table. Depending on your kid’s age and ability, these can be fancy, glittery gourds worthy of a Martha Steward invite or they can be charming, globby little gems like ours. (Frustrated with the limits of her paintbrush, my daughter opted to just turn over a can of paint on one of these.)
Granted, the color scheme makes for a pretty Goth cornucopia, but I’m going with it.
COOK THOSE PUMPKINS
Apparently at our house anthropomorphism stops as soon as you enter the kitchen, because while my girl can’t do Jack-o’-lanterns, she can cook up one of those cute, orange orbs without a qualm. Smaller, heirloom varieties of pumpkin taste better than the big ones most of us use for decorating, but you can cook those up too. We did.
First, chop it like any old winter squash and remove the seeds and guts. Then dry and roast the seeds, mixing them with whatever spices and herbs you desire. Cut the rest of the pumpkin into manageable pieces and roast it at the same time as the seeds. Then peel and use in one of the many pumpkin recipes out there: soups, breads, pies, and the ubiquitous (and I say disgusting) latte.
My favorite things to make are healthy pumpkin millet muffins that my girls love.
COMPOST THOSE PUMPKINS
I can’t believe Grandma suggested this but she did: Smash those pumpkins into smithereens. Once again, the three-year-old’s love for chaos and messiness overcame her protectiveness and she felt just fine about enacting unspeakable violence on a pumpkin, dropping it repeatedly until its shell splat apart on the concrete. Then we collected the innards and dumped them in our neighbor’s compost pile. You can also call around to see if a local farm or zoo might feed pumpkin to their animals.
Alternatively, a few years ago we just threw our old pumpkins into a nice spot of dirt in our backyard and grew a nice little pumpkin patch of our own. It was great fun to watch the vine grow and grow, and though we did have blooms on it we never got an actual pumpkin. Which might be best, after all, because if we had raised a pumpkin from a baby could my daughter ever have let it go? Doubtful.
When it’s time to wind down from pumpkin play, nothing beats a lullaby. Check out all the releases in the Rockabye Baby Store.
My baby has ditched me for her dad and I don’t get it. I mean, I like the guy too but does she have to jump out of my arms every time he walks in a room? Or make a mad dash when she hears his car? She comes barreling at him full speed as if I’ve been torturing her for the couple hours he’s been away.
As if that isn’t enough of a kick-in-the-pants, she’s taken to calling him “Mama.” That’s my name, Buster.
I remember hearing from a parenting expert that around 18 months it’s normal for a child to transfer primary affection from the mother to the father, but I never expected it to happen to me. I mean, I’m a really fun mom. Or at least, I thought I was.
But it turns out I’m just Beyoncé’s backup singer or maybe the eager-to-please, opening band everyone tolerates until the headliner they really want to see decides to grace the stage.
Either way, it’s insulting to play second fiddle to someone whose idea of a balanced meal is a combo of hard pretzels dipped in peanut butter (“full of protein!”) and who doesn’t bother to ever change her out of her pajamas (“she likes layers”). When the two of them get together there’s no nap schedule, no mealtime (but endless snacks!), and no shoes—it’s a shoeless snacking frenzy of fun.
Oh, I get it now. He really is more fun than me.
Is your little monkey waiting around for Papa to arrive? Soothe the “Waves of Mutilation” you might feel and remember there’s enough “La La Love You” for everyone with Rockabye’s Lullaby Renditions of Pixies.
I meet few people who are into rock as much as I am. I dig rock in all forms: punk rock, rock ’n’ roll, heavy metal, rock art, rock cairns. I also dig rock. You see, I’m an archaeologist.
My job sometimes takes me to places in the California deserts, where people have lived for thousands of years. And after I visited these places enough, I began to see and experience the landscape in a completely different way. You would, too. How else can you start to understand the ancient Californian’s worldview if you do not, on occasion, try and see the world through their eyes.
And what I learned from the past is that many of these desert cultures were really into rock. They stacked rock, made designs on the desert surface with rock, and they even painted on rock. And these same people who honored the rock, also made pilgrimages to different rocks. The rock is and was cosmic.
That got me thinking about rock ’n’ roll destinations in America every music fan should visit. Here’s my top 5 in descending order, saving the best for last.
5. Seattle, Washington: The mythological birthplace of Nirvana and the Pearl Jam — and, of course, grunge.
4. The Whiskey A Go Go, Hollywood, California: A legendary spot located along the Sunset Strip in mysterious and crazy Los Angeles that opened its door to whom else, but The Doors, as well as many bands Rockabye Baby has lullabied, including The Police, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Ramones, Van Halen and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
3. Ed Sullivan Theater, New York City, New York: If you can make it here, well, you can make it anywhere. How very true. This number three spot on your rock ’n’ roll pilgrimage was the launching pad for Beatlemania in America.
1. Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee: And, of course, the final resting place of the undisputed King of Rock, Elvis Presley, is a must for any pilgrimage of rock.
Of course, when you do decide to take your kids on your ultimate rock destination, don’t forget to bring a great soundtrack for the journey. These releases below would definitely be fitting. Always remember to honor thy rock!
For more “rock” stories from me, check out all my posts HERE.
It’s true that you can see most of the good and the bad of human dynamics in miniature on the playground: kids being kind, kids being bullies, kids being excluded, and kids being inclusive.
There are days when managing all the ups and downs makes me feel so exhausted, I want to move my kids to an iceberg where they can have more gentle interactions with polar bears. Or France, where instead of monitoring the minutia of my kids’ interactions, I might sit on a nearby bench and read a magazine in blissful ignorance of whatever situation is going down by the swings. (Because, yes, they can figure it out on their own sometimes!)
Social interaction, unless you’re on that iceberg, is a must, and teaching my two kiddos to be responsible, kind and empathetic people will, I’m promised by the experts, pay off in the end. (If it doesn’t, I want a full refund on all the time I’ve spent cajoling my toddlers to “think about how that makes so-and-so feel.”) And for all the tears shed from sand thrown in the eyes, there are some beautiful moments on the playground, unexpected happenings that renew your faith in our usually selfish, backstabbing human race.
Take, for example, my three-year-old daughter saying goodbye to one of her pals yesterday: After a two-hour roller coaster ride of back-and-forth disagreement over toys, what games to play and what outfits to wear, they had one final blowup that left both shouting, “Don’t yell at me, I don’t like it when you yell at me,” at each other.
If it weren’t so loud, it would be funny. No sooner were we trying to deal with (and quiet) their “big feelings” than they both turned the corner again, suddenly hugging each other. It was time to go and they each acted kindly, hugging yet again.
It seemed amazing — like all of our patience with the schizophrenia of their feelings was finally paying off: Here they were, loving and caring for each other. My mama heart melted and I felt so proud.
Then, as we watched our friends depart, a little voice from the stroller screaked, “Don’t look at me.”
To which my daughter replied: “Don’t YOU look at me.”
Here’s to big feelings that knock you off of your feet, baby. Celebrate “The Way You Make Me Feel,” with Rockabye Baby’s Lullaby Renditions of Michael Jackson.
Baby’s cries making you wish a hero would save you? Fear not, parents, for these peaceful renditions of Nickelback’s best-loved songs will remind you what quiet sounds like. This is your child’s very own lullaby.