How To Go Broke Traveling With Small Children

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Traveling-with-small-Children

Got some extra dough burning a whole in your pocket? Time to pack up the fam and take a vacation; there’s no better way to go from rich to poor than traveling with small children!

1. Make sure you go somewhere with lots of designated kids activities. Activities specifically designed to appeal to children are really expensive, e.g. any amusement or water park. Insider tip: Make sure you are completely honest about all of your children’s ages. Only money hoarding Scrooges try to get an under-three discount for a child whose third birthday was last week!

2. Call ahead to be sure these meccas of excitement to be sure they do not allow you to bring any food or drink of your own onto the premises. Extra points if they physically check bags to be sure you’re not smuggling anything in. Stay long enough that you have to purchase at least 2 meals and 2 snacks for each family member (45 minutes should do nicely). Remember: If you hide even a granola bar for yourself in your purse, you’re cheating the system and your kids will silently observe you and end up becoming criminals in later life.

3. If you stay at a hotel, make sure you are right on the beach. What price can you put on convenience?  In reality, this coup will save you about negative 20 minutes, because it takes small kids approximately 40 minutes to walk 50 feet to the beach and 20 minutes to be loaded into a car and driven there.

4. Consult your husband about what to bring. Listen respectfully every time he tells you that you’re overpacking and to just  chill out. Assiduously remove each and every item that he says you don’t need. This way you can be sure to buy extra sunscreen, infant Tylenol, antacid, bandaids, beach toys, and sweatshirts for the children at a 500% markup in the hotel lobby when you have 15 of each of those things sitting at home. Extra points for re-purchasing items you have at home because you bought them during the last vacation.

5. Only go places that have gift shops. Make sure your kids see the gift shop when both they and you are particularly hungry, tired, and hot. The odds you can resist their demands at this point are close to zero, so thankfully you have another way to drop some cash.

6. Go somewhere with special kids’ meals. It does not matter that all three of your kids together weigh less than 80 pounds. It does not matter that they only eat one bite of chicken and one carrot each during dinner normally. They cannot possibly be entreated to just have some of your food, even if you order something they would usually want. Instead, to fully embrace the spirit of massive financial waste, spend at least $8.99 plus tax and tip for every “kid’s meal” for every kid, every goddamn day of your vacation. No doggie bags either because it’s vacation and you don’t want to be a real buzzkill. When the children eat nothing on their plates except the fries, benevolently laugh and dab the grease off their faces with another $10 bill.

7. Get a vacation sitter. For this luxury, an agency can hook you up with an elderly non-English speaker who puts your 5 month old down for nap in a pack and play that she filled with soft pillows because “she would be more comfortable.” This happened to “my friend.”  This one really kills two birds with one stone because you also get to throw out cash on a dinner and some drinks that you are too consumed with anxiety to enjoy, at jacked-up prices befitting a vacation destination. Expert level: prior to vacation, buy a new outfit and get a mani/pedi in anticipation of this dinner out with your husband.

8. Get two connecting rooms so you can spread out and the kids can nap and sleep easier. It will be a real knee-slapper when the kids refuse to sleep at all and you all end up in one room with your suitcases in the other for the majority of the time. But, hey, it’s only money!

9. Go on a cruise. Not only are you completely trapped on the ocean with your children for days straight with no respite (I am trembling even typing that) but you get to pay hand over fist for the privilege. Hopefully, you can spend some more money out of pocket for the top level psychiatrist you’ll need to prescribe you Xanax after you dock, more for the psychologist to treat your Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

10. If you still for some strange reason have a positive balance in your bank account, you have been slacking on the job. Stay focused, it is still within your power to drain every cent you have. You know what you have to do. One word, at a thousand bucks per syllable: Disney.

Related post: Murphy’s Laws of Family Vacations

The Girls’ Night Out: Pre and Post Children

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girls-night-out Image via Shutterstock

Everyone loves a girls’ night out. From popcorn and giggles at your first slumber party, to Grandmas with poodle hair, rocking it at the bingo hall. Getting together with the girls is something that we ladies have always loved, and always will.

I’ve recently noticed that although my love of ladies’ night hasn’t changed, I now have two kids under two years old and how I get myself ready for these rare nights out has changed dramatically.

Pre-children preparation for girls’ night out:

1. Put some ‘getting ready’ music on.

2. Pour myself a nice big glass of wine.

3. Browse through my closet and think about what I want to wear. Try a few things on.

4. Have a leisurely shower, taking time to exfoliate, shave my legs and wash my hair.

5. Moisturize my freshly-shaven legs, apply make-up, blow dry and straighten or curl my hair.

6. Refill wine glass and turn up the music.

7. Check in with my girlfriends to see what they’re doing and what they’re going to wear.

8. Revisit the closet, choosing the perfect outfit, shoe and accessory combo.

9. Paint my finger and toe nails, if for some strange reason I haven’t been for a mani/pedi.

10. Finish wine while listening to music and waiting for polish to dry.

11. Call a taxi and check email while I wait.

12. Grab my keys and walk out the door.

That all sounds like a treat in itself, doesn’t it? Who needs to go out after having such an amazing and relaxing time at home?

With young children in the house, here’s what getting ready for girl’s night looks like now:

1. Try and find the remote so I can have 20 minutes of peace while I get ready.

2. Get the kids a snack.

3. Search frantically for something that fits and doesn’t have a maternity panel in it.

4. No time to shower. Settle for deodorant and some dry shampoo.

5. Slap on some mascara and, even though I’m in my 30’s, cover up my zits.

6. Start making supper while wondering when my husband will be home from work.

7. Call husband at work and bug him to come home right now.

8. Feed children and tag husband as he walks through the front door. I’m now off duty.

9. Paint my nails as quick as I can and hope no one notices it’s all over my fingers and toes.

10. Turns out I’m not off duty because I’m still in the house. Do kid’s PJ’s, teeth and bottle.

11. Hugs goodbye, resulting in a bit of snot on my skirt and smudged nail polish.

12. Make a run for the door while I can, turning back to blow a kiss to the little faces pushed up against the window.

Related post: 5 Ways Date Night Changes With Kids

Nighttime

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nighttime

Nighttime used to be mine.

Then it was the struggle to turn over, your feet under my ribs.

Then it was a contraction and another and another and I think this is it.

Now it is being pulled, pulled from the depth of slumber by your tears.

Now it is up every two hours, the sweet smell of milk.

Now it is 12:45am and 3:20am and 5:30am, though some might call that morning.

Now it is waking in a panic, because you haven’t woken me.

Now it is your chest against mine, radiating heat like a flame, when did I give you the last dose of medicine?

Now it is a thump, a body on the floor not used to a bed.

Now it is your breath on my face, willing my eyes open with its rhythm.

Now it is whispers in the dark, a glass of water, please, just one.

Now it is changing the sheets, soaked with urine, and promises that it won’t happen again.

Now it is your own reading light, which you forget to turn off.

Now it is I’m worried, Mom, I can’t sleep.

Now it is footfalls on the stairs, I’m not tired, Mom, and maybe you aren’t.

Soon it will be your bedtime later than mine.

Soon it will be the party I’ll pick you up from at midnight.

Soon it will be a creak of the front door, the clock standing sentry, not me.

Always it gives way to light, with you one day older.

What Could Have Been

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It can hit you at the weirdest times. It just does. And when it does… it gives you an emotional chill like a shadow from your past.

I was driving my wife to work today as we often do in the morning and it hit me just then. She was going through Facebook scrolling by a picture of some old friends with their kids. I asked her, “don’t they have four kids now?” They do.

And it hit me. We could, too. Or could have. But don’t.

We’ve come such a long way… many years and thousands of miles from a phone call to my work one night. Something was wrong. My wife knew it. Through her tears she asked me to come get her. I left work right away. I found her in a stall in the women’s room at Boston University where she worked… crying.. her clothes soaked through with blood. I took her to the doctor but by then she knew… we knew… how could you not know… she had suffered a miscarriage.. what would have been our first baby as a newly married couple. Of course, my wife was physically OK and that was most important. We were assured we could try again at some point when the time was right. That was important too. In the meantime, we went home for a couple of days and hid ourselves in takeout and movies and self-pity. We told the few family members who already knew she was pregnant. But let’s face it.. There’s not a whole lot someone can say or do to make you feel any better. And all the good will can’t replace the fact that you were already secretly picking baby names and nursery colors and getting excited to be new parents. You compartmentalize that chapter of your life like an old photo in an album that you tuck away on a shelf and only glance at once in a long while.

Time passed. We went on to have a beautiful daughter Alicia.

We’d go on to have another miscarriage, too. By that time we felt like old pros at it. This time my wife was right in the doctor’s office at her pregnancy exam when the doctor informed her she was miscarrying. It didn’t make it any easier. We went home. We hardly told anyone. This time, we poured ourselves into caring for our young girl at home that we already had. And again we compartmentalized that chapter of our life like an old photo in an album that we tucked away on a shelf and only glance at once in a long while.

Time passed again. We went on to have another beautiful daughter Andreya.

We chose not to try for more children. Out of four pregnancies, two ended in miscarriage. I feel blessed to have two healthy kids. Why test the percentages again? Sure once in a while the thought of another baby creeps in… the idea of raising a new baby and having that excitement back in the family. For us, the time has passed. But yes I still think about it… sometimes… at the weirdest times… that our family might have been bigger… could have been bigger… but isn’t. And I know there are so many other couples just like us. This is my subtle nod to them.. we’ve been there too. I’m not going to tell you how to feel. I just want you to know you’re not alone. You’re not. Today I flipped through that old photo album in my mind and was taken right back there.

I dropped my wife off at work and returned home to make breakfast with the kids as one danced around with her panda stuffed animal… And the other drew one of her fantastic drawings. They really are the most incredible kids. Yes I still think about it… sometimes… at the weirdest times… that our family might have been bigger… could have been bigger… but isn’t.

It’s always going to be a page in that old photo album of our lives together. But my family is perfect the way it is and that’s just fine with me.

Related post: The Invisible Moms’ Club

12 Reasons I Wouldn’t Do Reality TV

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messy-boys-room Image via Shutterstock

Sometimes, I look around at the three ring circus that is my life and think, “This would be Reality TV gold.  Someone should offer us a show.”  Not that it would ever happen, but the short answer would be NO. Why?

1. My kids think that clothing is optional at home.

2. I have three boys. They spend a lot of their time thinking and talking about butts, and poop, and farts. For instance, the two big boys think it’s hysterical that when they question Little Kid, “What is half poodle and half poodle?” and he responds, “Poo Poo!”

3. Sometimes, I don’t know where my baby is. I’ll be washing dishes in the kitchen and the next thing I know, I have no idea the current whereabouts of our almost two year old. He’s usually putting dozens of wet wipes in the toilet or climbing on the top bunk. Putting that on tv would most likely land me a visit from CPS. (Normally, I keep the bathroom doors shut and I take the ladder down as soon as he wakes up to avoid an inevitable fall and broken arm.)

4. Sometimes, I do know where the baby is. He’s pushed a chair over to the tall counter in the kitchen and is standing on top. And, I’m taking his picture.

5. We have yet to master “volume control”. Our house is LOUD! One of the kids is particularly loud on occasion. If he is close enough, I can actually feel my ear drum vibrating. He also doesn’t go to sleep quietly. Sure, he may be lying in bed, but he’s not quiet. Last night, he was lying in bed and for two minutes, in a half-shout, repeated, “Mamamaaaamammmmaaaama, Mom, maaaamamaaaa!” But, when he follows that with an exchange like this, “Mom?”, “Yes, Bud?”, “I love you.”, “I love you, too, bud.”, what can you do?

6. My boys love to play with Legos. I love that they love to play with Legos. They are unplugged and using their brains, creatively and analytically. BUT. There are Legos everywhere. The formal dining room that I insisted we build in our house (pre-children), for all of the fancy dinner parties we were going to have, has been transformed into the “Lego room”. That would be great, if the Legos would stay in the Lego room. Instead, they are everywhere. I don’t want cameras rolling when I “accidentally” vacuum some of them up. (This is why I die laughing every time I see a “house hunting” type show and hear a young couple say, “Ooh, this would be great for entertaining! )

7. I take my oldest son to school in my pajamas. The little kids are usually in their pajamas, too. Last week, Middle Kid had on only underwear when we dropped Big Kid off at school. Remember, clothing is optional. And, I’m usually driving with one hand. My coffee is in the other hand.

8. The video cameras might pick up the sweet times in our house, like when Middle Kid pats his little brother’s face and whispers, “I love you.” Or when we “cuddle up” and say prayers at night. The editing room would more likely focus in on the not so sweet times, like when the two big boys are pounding each other or, in the morning rush, when I am barking, “Where are your shoes? Brush your teeth! Hurry! We have to go! Now!”

9. We eat weird stuff for breakfast, sometimes. Middle Kid is the usual suspect for strange breakfast requests, like popcorn or tilapia.

10. I have to use a plunger almost daily. If it’s not the dozens of wet wipes in the toilet, it’s the green lightsaber toothbrushes or small board books or… well, you don’t want to hear about that.

11. My house is “company clean” exactly four hours per month. I have a housekeeper who comes twice a month. Of course, you have to clean before the housekeeper cleans. It’s a lot of work to get ready for that. But, the work is rewarded with two hours, on two separate days, when the baby is napping and the big boys are at school and it’s SO CLEAN. It lasts for about five minutes after we get home from school pick-up. So, it’s rarely company clean and it’s never “countless strangers watching on tv clean”.

12. One time, I locked my oldest son and my cell phone in the car in a Kohl’s parking lot. Luckily, a sweet stranger saw what happened and called the fire department. It wasn’t too hot or too cold, he was a baby and slept through the whole 8 minutes it took for the fire truck to arrive and unlock the doors. This was right about the time that Britney Spears was shaving her head and generally “melting down”. Later that day, when my son was safely home, all I could think was, “I’m glad I’m not Britney Spears with photographers and cameramen following me everywhere I go.”

What would the world see if cameras were rolling in YOUR house?  

20 Pieces of Advice Moms Wish They’d Received

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1. It’s OK to admit motherhood isn’t fun, that you’re exhausted and that you resent your husband because he gets to go out into the world while you wipe noses and butts for a living.

2. Not breastfeeding will not kill your baby, regardless of whether your friends make you feel otherwise.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and unless your child has a serious illness, it’s all small stuff.

4. Take the time to shower. Every single day.

5. Remember: They will always stop crying… eventually.

6. You don’t need a Diaper Genie or a wipe warmer.

7. Sometimes you’ll feel like throwing them out of a window. And that’s ok… as long as you don’t actually do it.

8. Don’t compare yourself to others. All you can be is the best mother you can be.

9. Put the baby in his or her “nice clothes.” Who cares if they get dirty? Save your favorite outfits and your baby may grow too quickly to ever wear them.

10. Don’t judge other parents. They have no idea what they are doing either.

11. Take videos of your kids. Pictures are great, too, but video captures the moment in a way photos can’t.

12. Get out of the house while they’re in the infant seat. That’s the easiest it’s ever going to be.

13. Don’t take things too seriously. You won’t completely screw up your kids if they miss a vegetable, a bath, fall asleep in their clothes or get away with things once in a while.

14. Nobody else knows what’s best for your baby. 

15. Let them get messy. That’s what baths are for.

16. Take time to refuel… It’s not selfish to take care of yourself.

17. Pick your battles. Sometimes it’s not worth the fight.

18. Parenthood is defined by extremes: Extreme happiness, extreme frustration, extreme love, extreme guilt… Learn to let go, breathe, and try to find the happy in each day.

19. The parents who look like they have it all together are almost always a bigger mess than you.

20. You’re doing a great job. Relax.

Noah’s Name

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sunset

I named my son Noah because I loved the images it evoked. Imagine all the animal species of the world peacefully rocking side by side, two by two, in an ark made by  faithful hands from gopher wood. I loved the idea of a fresh start, of the planet covered in my favorite element, having lived my whole life cradled by salt water. I loved the image of that ancient Noah on the bow of his ark, extending his open hand to catch the dual symbols of peace—a dove and the simple olive branch she clutched in her beak. I named my son Noah because, given the choice, why not name your son after God’s chosen one?

On the day Noah was born, the sun came out after raining for 40 days and 40 nights. His birthplace was Oregon, after all. He had reddish blonde hair and a peaceful countenance. Noah was the first of my children to gaze back into my loving eyes with a curiosity that reflected the color with which I, too, see the world—blue. He was delivered into the happy seven-year-old hands of his sister, Hannah, and the capable arms of Christiana, who was four. His brother Micah, at three, was completely enraptured by him, inquisitive about each sound or movement Noah made. Noah Patrick, we named him, with his Dad’s middle name. Noah Patrick Moore, we added, with my maiden name. Noah Patrick Moore Kittel, we concluded with the final name of my husband that we all share. “Noah Moore,” some joked, but it would not turn out to be so funny.

Death stalked our happiness and Noah was not ours to love for very long. This is what I read at his funeral 15 months later. “Noah. He was ours for one long and lovely weekend of our lives. He began his journey into this world on a Friday night and arrived as an answer to our prayers on a Saturday morning in the wee hours as the world slept. We knew the wonder of him before the dawn while others only dreamt of such miracles. As Saturday progressed we knew him already and he was a part of us. We were fascinated by his hunger, we watched him lovingly as he slept, we giggled together, we fed him his first foods, we clapped as he crawled, we laughed when he danced, we tickled him, and we admired his ability to climb. By Saturday night he was permanently and forever coursing through our veins. He had eight teeth and an incredible smile. He clapped for himself proudly as he took his first steps. He screamed for what he wanted. He pointed at all he saw. He read books happily. He loved ice cream.

As Sunday dawned we dreamed of one another. We were a family of six. Noah was as much a part of our life as breathing. We played and already the memories were long and detailed. We started the day with his noises and we loved him all morning. We rejoiced at our blessings and admired his beauty. We gave thanks for the perfection of our little family and knew how to be content. We were happy and whole. By Sunday afternoon Noah had left us and the lovely weekend was over. There could never be another weekend so perfect again. Last to arrive but first to leave, we will forever follow his lead. We taught him all we knew and all we could. He now knows more than we can ever begin to comprehend. And we are only beginning to decipher the meaning of Noah and all he taught us. He gave gifts which can’t be bought and taught richly without words. We are forever grateful and will forever yearn for Sunday morning again.”

Twelve years later, we’d added two more children to our family and were living in Costa Rica with four of them, having left Hannah behind. Dropping her off at college was supposed to be a difficult milestone for us, her parents, and I won’t deny that the umbilical cord tugged at my belly. But when you’ve dropped your son off in a funeral home or left him behind in a cemetery, any place on Earth is an easier place for farewells. I had begun writing the story of Noah and the subsequent loss nine months later of his brother, Jonah. Jonah means “Noah’s dove” and off he flew to be with Noah sometime during his stillbirth, leaving us standing on the shore once more with empty arms extended and his name on our breath—Jonah Emmanuel Moore Kittel. For three years by then, I’d been trying to capture the story of our sons who were with us such a short, yet powerful, time. Many days I’d look up from my computer screen and expect to see them toddling towards me. It was magical time spent with my sons while their siblings were at school. We bereaved parents learn to take what we can get.

In the spring, our friends came to visit us with their three sons, the eldest of whom—Adam—is autistic. Adam’s parents were Noah’s Godparents and even though Adam had not seen Noah for many years, he spent the whole week calling Micah and our youngest son, Isaiah, by his name—Noah. Hearing that word was the sweetest music to my ears and my sons didn’t mind being called Noah one bit. For me, a self-proclaimed word lover, naming my babies was one of the most pleasurable parts of pregnancy and, as I said, I pondered the possibilities and chose them carefully. Indeed, one of the many ways I miss my sons was just this—the silence where their names used to be. When our week with Adam drew to an end, I told Noah’s Godfather how much I had enjoyed hearing Noah’s name spoken so many times by Adam. He exhaled a sigh of relief, saying, “I thought it would be painful for you to hear!” And that was yet one more reminder to me of how misunderstood our bereavement can be.

A few days later I was blessed to receive a digital story produced by a relative called, “The things that matter.” In the three minutes she was allotted to impart the most important things in her life, she chose to mention that Noah had taught her daughter how to climb stairs before he left his playmate behind. It was another incredible gift for me to hear Noah’s name spoken again in that story.

Even today, 16 and 17 years after they died, I miss my sons every minute of my life. I will go to my grave with their names on my lips. When nobody dares to speak our children’s names we wonder if they have been forgotten. I want to wake up every morning and shout my son’s names to the Universe. “Noah!” “Jonah!”

For bereaved parents these are, indeed, the things that matter.

12 Truths About Boys And Bathrooms

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boy-on-toilet

Whoever said that a man’s best friend is a dog lied. A man’s best friend is his penis, and that friendship goes all the way back to the first day someone tried to cover it up with a diaper.

In my house I have cleaned up enough messes in our family bathroom to know that boys are wild animals. I say that with love. They are compelled to heed the call of the wild with every urge to whiz. What most moms don’t know when they sign up for the motherhood gig is that potty training starts on day one and continues right on through adulthood.

Don’t believe me? In the spirit of honesty and unabashed sharing I will share a dozen dirty truths about boys and bathrooms. Grab your rubber gloves and a glass of wine, ladies … you’ll need them!

1. Potty training starts the day your son is born. It’s true. The day a nurse or midwife hands you your son you will immediately be thrown into potty training. It will start with being peed and pooped on while learning how to finagle a cloth diaper or how to fold a disposable diaper into a neat and trash-ready package.

2. Welcome to poop rodeo. I am almost certain that an infant boy trying to prevent his mother from changing his freshly filled diaper invented wrestling. The amount of wriggling, squirming, and whining that a child makes during a diaper change is like a demonstration for his right to be naked all the livelong day. In this process to be as free as a bird, your little wonder will get poop everywhere.

3. Boys LOVE to talk about their poop. Every single morning I hear at least one comment from my four-year-old about his poop. He wants to tell me everything about it from its size to its color to just how stinky it is. If that isn’t enough, the child wants to ask me questions bout my thoughts on his poop. I get it, already! You made poop! That’s great! Guess what?! I make stuff too! I made YOU! Imagine that.

4. Farting will become a full contact sport. The fastest way to make a boy laugh is to make flatulent sounds. By the time my oldest son had turned three he realized that he could make himself burb, and by extension he could also conjure up a fart in a dire moment of comedy. This hidden talent has morphed into a game of farting on people by running up to someone (me) and tooting followed by squeals of delight.

5. Houseplants that sit on the floor are potential targets for “pretending to pee outside. My poor rubber tree plant. The thing died one winter after we discovered that our son had been practicing how to pee in a bush outside. His imagination went wild when he was told that in the spring he could pee anywhere he wanted if he was in the woods.

6. Boys will discover their fun parts MUCH sooner than you think. Before their first birthdays both of my sons had firmly discovered that their most awesome body part was indeed their peen. Not a day goes by that either of them hasn’t grabbed, shaken, twisted, or pulled on their fun parts at least 100 times.

7. Peeing on the toilet seat, the floor, and possibly the bathtub will become a sport. I swear there is a secret point system to this game that no one is telling me. I find pee puddles everywhere in the bathroom and it drives me absolutely bonkers. Sometimes I wonder if the boys in this house are conspiring against me.

8. Putting the seat down will be a life long battle. My husband is 37 and still hasn’t mastered this feat of engineering: a toilet seat has a hinge on it, which makes it GO DOWN. I utter the phrase “put the seat down” about as often as my constant threat to put someone in timeout for jumping off the couch or trying to tie something to the dog’s tail.

9. Peeing outside will be the single most amazing thing in the world to a boy. The day my husband told our oldest son that he could pee outside was the same day that he realized what freedom is. The kid has peed on nearly every flowering plant in my garden beds. He has claimed more territory on our 3 acres than the family dog has.

10. Explaining why Mom doesn’t have a penis is awkwardEvery mother knows that peeing alone is something that will likely never happen in her house once she has kids. If those children are boys the inevitable observation will be made that Mom doesn’t possess a penis. Try explaining that to a two-year-old without incurring more awkward questions. Well, dear, I don’t have a penis because I have a vagina. No, I said vuh-gina. Yup, it’s what girls have. I don’t know, it just is. Because it just is. No, I can’t pee outside. Uh…go ask your father.

11. If a boy asks for privacy at the age of four, it is because he is trying flush toys down the toilet. There is a rule at my house that unless you are old enough to know why a person would need privacy in a bathroom then you don’t get to have it. Case in point: my kid keeps trying to flush stuff down the toilet. He totally fascinated by the whooshing sound and the fact that things seemingly disappear (like his dinner last Thursday).

12. The whole world will know when you son finally poops in the toilet. It will happen one day when you are grocery shopping that your son will tell the checkout girl that he made a giant poop in the toilet and that it stunk up the joint. And guess what? He flushed it all by himself too! And then later, he will retell this story to the neighbors. If you try to make a phone call he might be excited and ask to tell his story to whomever you are talking to…like the mortgage company.

Potty training isn’t just about teaching a child to do his business on a toilet without destroying the bathroom…or his pants. It is a learning process about how a body works, social boundaries, humility, humor, and a poor mother’s patience.

Related post: 10 Things Boys Should Know About Being Men

This Is Not A Test: Motherhood in Israel

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Israel-flag

It was one of those evenings when the biggest problems you face with your kids is whether there should be seconds on strawberry ice cream (there were), whether we had time to play one more round of Go Fish before bed (we did) and whether we would read King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub or Where the Wild Things Are (we went with both.)

Their hair was still wet from the shower, their eyes starting to droop when the siren wailed.

No. This is not a test. This is not a test. This is not a test.

We live in Israel, and our country is at war with a terrorist organization just an hour’s drive away; a terrorist organization committed to destroying Israel, a terrorist organization hurdling rockets at us for the last 10 years. And anyone living in this country – Muslim, Christian, or Jew – is a target.

And you know what’s crazy? Just like I learned STOP DROP AND ROLL as a kid growing up in LA smack dab in earthquake country, my kids knew exactly what to do when the sirens screech through the night. They ran to their flip flops lined up by the door – thank GOD for cheap slip-on shoe. My daughter struggled with hers, so I swooped her up in my arms while my son and I fled our home, past the purple scarecrow my children built “to keep the rockets away, Mama, so they don’t hurt us when we sleep,” over rough and rocky ground to a public bomb shelter.

Um, can I get a WTF? We have a public bomb shelter.

Like everyone else in Israel. Bomb shelters are all over this country.

Air raid sirens, Iron Dome – a system to take down rockets mid-air before they land on families like us – bomb shelters and safe rooms, they’re part of the rhythm of this place. And thank God for them, because just before we reached the shelter, the ground moved. Like literally moved.

STOP. DROP. AND ROLL.

No, keep running until we’re safe inside.

“Red Alert, Red Alert” my children sang. “Hurry hurry hurry because now it’s dangerous. Hurry hurry hurry, to a safe area.”

So basically, while I grew up on “The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round,” my kids know a song about what to do during a rocket attack.

“Breathe deep, it’s ok to laugh!” they sang as we reached the inside of the shelter with several other families.


We shook with the blast and my daughter screamed – the kind of horror movie scream you hear when the monster slithers out from under the bed, or a deranged clown crawls through the sewer – because these are our monsters, these rockets hurdling towards us, seeking to make a direct hit.

Inside the shelter, what can we do?

We ate Pringles and chocolate milk. We played Go Fish with our neighbors, and prayed.

In Judaism, we have an expression: When shit gets real, first you cry. Then you get angry. And finally you laugh. With your mouth wide open and all teeth showing, you laugh as your body reels.

And as the news broke on Whatsapp that the rocket landed less than a five minute walk from where we were eating strawberry ice cream only minutes before, we skipped the tears, hopped past the anger and went straight to laughing.

Really, there is no other choice.

7 Ways Moms Are Like Mother Teresa

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angel-mother Image via Shutterstock

Every time I demonstrate my superhuman ability to remain patient and calm in the midst of one of my kids’ shit-storm meltdowns of whining, complaining, crying, or general pain-in-the-assing, my husband tells me I’m Mother Teresa. In case you’re wondering, I’m not. Mother Teresa died in 1997, and anyway, she’s a lot shorter than me. I always just shake my head and mutter like a lunatic when my husband gives me this label, because he says it right as I’m about to blow my lid, and now I can’t blow my lid because then he won’t think I’m like Mother Teresa anymore. Damn him.

Lid-blowing tendencies or not, it must be said that in many ways, I do bear uncanny resemblances to MT. In fact, ALL mothers do. I’m over-exaggerating you say? Likening mothers to someone who’s nominated for sainthood is sacrilege you say? Are you calling me a heathen? If you knew my history, you’d know those are fightin’ words, and let’s not go there because I really hate violence (snorts in hysterical laughter). No, but seriously, here’s a better question. Do you even HAVE a mother? If so, then you should already see the following comparisons.

7. Mother Teresa tended to the sick.  Mothers are the sole caregivers, whether there is a father living in the same household or not, when one or all of their kids are sick. They are puked on, shit on, coughed on, drooled on, and cried on while dragging their unreasonable little sickos to the doctor, entertaining them whilst spending an infuriatingly long purgatory in the germ-infested waiting room, sitting on their squirming bodies when they fight to near death against getting a strep or any other kind of test, cart their miserable asses on over to the drug store where the kids make a sudden recovery and start going ape-shit in the toy aisle as the prescriptions are being prepared at a snail’s pace, and then, back at home, beg, plead, negotiate, bribe, and finally force the medicine down the sick child’s gullet to get him better ASAP. (By the way, that last part is called HEALING the sick. I don’t think MT has that one on her resume. BOOM, shawty)!

6. Mother Teresa fed the hungry. Mothers feed the hungry every 2 to 3 HOURS, and many of them produce the food from their very own unwieldy and leaky teats. Even beyond breastfeeding, Moms with older kids are required to serve them food on this very same demanding schedule. If it’s been 2 hours since breakfast, and the resident emaciated, ravenous 7-year-old doesn’t have a school of Goldfish in his snapping, salivating jaws, the apocalypse with its Four Hungry Horsemen will trample the pantry.

5. Mother Teresa took a vow of celibacy when she became a nun. Mothers take a vow of celibacy after they shoot a baby out of their hoo-ha. (Oh? You’re 10 cm dilated? Sweet! Well, FYI, you’re about to push a THIRTY-FIVE CENTIMETER HUMAN HEAD out of your vagina! To channel Austin Powers: Does that make you horny, baby? DOES IT)? Even after the six weeks of doctor-mandated abstinence, mothers stick loyally to their vow of celibacy, which is unofficially called I’m Too Tired From Being Pawed At By This Needy-Ass Kid All Day, So Get Your Damn Hands Off Me, You Sex-Crazed Caveman.

4. Mother Teresa gave all she had to the Needy. Please refer to #7, 6, and 5.

3. Mother Teresa helped to clothe the naked. Mothers have been diapering and clothing naked baby butts since the dawn of time. And come to think of it, there’s an awful lot of intentional streaking that goes on, way after infancy, possibly into the teenage years, requiring mothers to chase their children around with swaddling clothes, jock straps, or other modest garments meant to cover unsightly asses or genitalia.

2. Mother Teresa protected the children of Calcutta. If you mess with a mother’s children, she will CalCUTya.

1. Mother Teresa sacrificed her feminine vanity by becoming a nun. Mothers sacrifice their vanity as soon as a baby starts turning their body into an alien host. Furthermore, they spend the first year of the baby’s life in yoga pants or PJs, and forget about taking the time to apply make-up, because even if they had the energy, their new 2 ½ foot tall boss isn’t gonna let them take a 5-minute beautification break. “Where do you think YOU’RE goin,’ Mama?! Where? To the bathroom to apply some Maybelline Great Lash Mascara? Aww, HAIL naw – get your ass back here and make me some damn Goldfish!”