Costco is good for cheap treats. Also, the kids never finish them so I get to munch on the leftovers during their naptimes. Score. Also we only go to Costco like twice a month so don’t think they live on a diet of churros and ice cream every day. Sometimes they have pizza too.
I used to like grocery shopping. I would spend more time than I should wandering the aisles, thinking up dozens of fancy, tasty plates to make for the week’s dinners and what new fancy coffee my husband and I should try for our special Saturday breakfasts.
Now, with two young, mobile children, going to the grocery store is basically the very last thing I ever want to do with kids in tow. However, and this is NOT to brag, I’ve had multiple people come up to me and congratulate me on how well-behaved my children are in the grocery store. This befuddles me every time, because these compliments usually come at the rare moments between the kids screaming to get down, or get up, or for juice or cookies, or “ICE CREAM NOW MOMMY NOW WAHHHH” and I’m always like, “Did you seriously not hear my kids five seconds ago, because I’m sure they could be heard in the next town over?” After some thought, I do realize that while I wouldn’t say every grocery trip comes smoothly, we’ve gotten to the point where I don’t feel like picking up a keg on the way out to self-medicate from the trauma. Here are a few tips that have worked for us.
I mean, not to brag or anything, but my daughter used to eat everything.
And do I mean EVERYTHING. Pickles? Steak? Mango? Yes. She’d eat half a bag of steamed green beans for dinner. Her favorite food for the longest time was pickled ginger, something that even me with my Asian taste buds could only eat in tiny bites, but she scarfed it down by the spoonful. I was super proud of my amazing kid. Chicken nuggets and French fries never saw the inside of our kitchen.
And then one day—she didn’t eat everything. It was like the universe knew how smug I secretly felt about my Kid Who Ate Everything, and overnight turned her into the pickiest eater on earth. Mealtimes started becoming battles, and I didn’t want to be battling with my toddler over food.
Enter: The snack tray.
Ok, we live in the Pacific Northwest. There are a lot of rainy days, and granted, our area has an amazing amount of toddler-friendly gyms, museums, and other indoor play places we often take advantage of. But sometimes we (ok, I) don’t feel like loading up the kids and trekking out. Sometimes it feels nice to have an in-home day where we can all lounge around with no shoes and sometimes no pants on…but the kids still want to play with water, maybe even channel summertime a bit. And it’s easy to do this with ice cube boats, and even better, you may even have all the supplies to do this already!
- Bendy straws
- Small, freezable cups
Fill your small, freezable cups with water. Disposable plastic or paper cups should work—we had actually just made cupcakes and I still had all my silicone cupcake cups out, so we used those! Cram the bendy straw into place. I had to trim mine a bit to make it fit.
Go down the swaddle aisle at any baby store, and there are countless styles and patterns to choose from—enough for stores to justify dedicating a whole aisle to swaddles. You never know what your baby will tolerate before they are born, and some kids love certain swaddles and totally hate others. After trying nearly everything on the market between my two kids, I came to the conclusion that the good ol’ fashioned simple square-piece-of-fabric swaddle is the most versatile and easiest to care for. Learning to swaddle the old fashioned way can be a bit tricky at first, especially when you are sleep deprived at 3am, but with a little practice you will be a swaddling pro in no time.
This swaddle is so big I couldn’t get it in the whole camera frame without becoming Spider-Woman and sticking myself to the ceiling. Just trust me that it’s diamond-shaped.
I defy stereotypes because I hate shoe shopping.
To be fair, I have good reason. How many other 5-foot-4-inch tall people do you know have a US size 11 wide foot? Women AND men a good 6 or more inches taller than me often have smaller feet. I live in the Pacific Northwest so I suppose there’s the potential for some literal Bigfoot genes floating around somewhere. Anyway, it’s a pain finding shoes that fit and are comfortable, and even harder to find shoes that are also somewhat stylish (come on, I’m still in my 20s, I don’t need ten slightly different pairs of loafers!). Basically, I’ve hated shoe shopping since I was about 14 years old.
And then I had kids, and after they started walking, I suddenly found myself needing to go shoe shopping for them. No more cute little stretchy booties or soft-soled leather moccasins. And I was annoyed.
At first I tried to make it easy on myself and picked up kid’s shoes at consignment and thrift stores. I figured they’d just grow out of the shoes quickly, so why pay full price? Sometimes I do find good deals, but some mornings I wake up and the $1.99 Goodwill Stride Rites that fit my kid just fine yesterday are suddenly two sizes too small, and of course the size I now need isn’t to be found at any secondhand store in a 50 mile radius.
My daughter wore these size 5 shoes for about two weeks before she grew out of them. I saved them for my son, who never wore them because he went straight from a size 4 to a 6.5. Of course.
Recently, I flew across the country with two kids for the first time. My husband was with me, but our kids are three and one and often after 8 hours with them I feel a bit insane—and that’s when I have an entire city at my disposal in which to drag them around. Spending several consecutive hours smushed between them, trapped in a narrow metal tube with 150 other people sounded like a very special punishment for all the stupid things I’ve ever done in my entire life.
I was so freaked out about the entire trip that a couple of weeks before I sat down and wrote an item-by-item list of things to pack for every person in our family. It was color coded by person and which piece of luggage each item would be packed in and everything, and if you knew how incredibly unorganized I usually am (once I lost the baby monitor and eventually found it in the refrigerator, because DUH, where else would it have been?), you’d appreciate how much I was stressing out to the point where I’d do something like that. Then I hit up the dollar section of Target and threw whatever looked semi-interesting into my cart. Usually I like quality toys, often wood, and carefully budget for them, and don’t (often) bribe my kids with junk food, but this time I strapped them into the front of the cart and shoved Icees into their hands to distract them from seeing the sheer amount of crap I was tossing in the basket. I am sure every other parent in the store was glaring judgmental daggers at me.
How is it that when you travel, you always feel like you’re bringing way too much and not enough at the same time?
“Come in,” said my neighbor, flashing me a shy smile as she held open the door with some hesitation. Her 9 month old and my then-2 year old and 6 month old were having a playdate. “And, um, I’m so sorry about the mess.”
I looked around as we entered. The floors were swept clean. Her kitchen counter sparkled. A small box of toys sat in the very corner of the room, behind a couch. All the toys were actually in the box. The 9 month old sat in a jumpy seat and looked up at me as she gnawed on a stuffed bunny. She grinned and the bunny fell onto the crumb-less carpet, followed by a trail of drool. My neighbor was in front of her daughter in a flash, wiping the drool up and tossing the bunny back into the toy box. “I didn’t really have time to clean up much this morning,” she apologized again as my two year old ran straight to the toybox, dumping everything out, and my 6 month old promptly spat up onto the floor.
“Play-based learning.” Also known as, “OMG, I was only in the bathroom for TWO MINUTES, where did that paint even come from?!”
Last week, I visited another neighbor, who has a 4 year old and a 20 month old. “Come in,” she said, opening the door, “and, um, I’m so sorry about the mess. We were doing our once-a-month cooking last night and didn’t get a chance to clean everything up and then the kids—well, anyway, you know.”
It’s no secret: I nursed both of my kids.
According to the Internet Moms of today, this is the Correct Way Of Doing Things. I don’t really care about the Correct Way Of Doing Things much (perhaps it’s the Catholic schoolgirl in me still being a bit rebellious), but I did find myself, over the past three years, having to defend my decision to nurse my kids. While I never got kicked off a plane or humiliated in public, I did have to deal with a family for whom breastfeeding was not “normal,” and the few disgusted looks occasionally thrown my way in public. Still, I nursed my eldest until she self-weaned at 19 months of age, and I intended to nurse my youngest until he weaned as well.
I was pretty certain he’d wean early. Already at 9 months he was an amazing eater of solid foods, cutting back on his milk feedings, and eating as much as his 2 year old sister at mealtimes (sometimes even more, if she were going through a spontaneous picky stage. Actually, he often finished her meals, too). What I wasn’t prepared for was for myself to be diagnosed with a condition for which medication was not nursing-safe when he was only 11 months old.
The first time I saw embroidery hoop art pop up on Pinterest or some other artsy site I was browsing instead of making dinner or doing other productive things, I thought, “What a great, cheap idea!” I have a billion scraps of fabric and just as much, if not more, empty space on the walls (coincidentally, I also have a stack of picture frames that “I’ll put up this weekend” shoved in a corner of the apartment somewhere), so I figured the next time I was at the store I’d just grab some embroidery hoops and then, voila, I’d be hip and modern with my super-trendy wall art.
One day I went to the craft store and looked at the embroidery hoops. I don’t remember what store I was in, but it must have been some upscale place because the price of the wooden embroidery hoops suggested they were made out of ancient, ten thousand year old rare trees. It was wood! Why was it so expensive? I picked up a plastic hoop and decided that it, too, must have been made out of ancient, ten thousand year old rare neon blue plastic for the price. Flabbergasted, I returned home and stuffed my fabric back into its bin. I wanted trendy art but not for that price!
I swung by Goodwill a few weeks ago to look for some cheap t-shirts for my kids. Way in the back of the store there was a little shelf marked “Crafts, Sewing, etc.” I hadn’t recalled seeing that before and wandered over. Immediately, wooden circles caught my eye—embroidery hoops! They must have been made out of normal, mortal-realm wood because the price was just as thrifty as I’d hoped. I brought them home, pleased that I would finally have something Pinterest-y in my home.
These are the softest, cutest Disana overalls ever (I mean, I’m sure the fact that my son is adorable helps). Like, I’d give up chocolate for a year to buy a million pairs of these in every color.
Wool is well-known as an (often pricey, but not always) alternative to standard PUL diaper covers that dominate today’s modern cloth diapering market. There’s plenty of resources about wool covers out there. One funny thing is that once you get addicted to wool covers, both long and short, you might start wondering what other wool is out there. Some people make ridiculously awesome wool pants or wool skirts that work great as diaper covers, but also as a cute piece of fashion in and of themselves. If you start thinking you might want some more wool in your child’s wardrobe, the good news is that there’s plenty out there to choose from! Read on to learn more.