Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Excuse Me While I Pat Myself on the Back

This is how I'm feeling lately when it comes to our preschool.

When we went in search of one, we were shocked when we visited what is considered one of the best schools in the area (http://snarkymommablog.blogspot.com/2013/06/more-like-prison.html) and felt it was more like a prison than a preschool.  

We eventually found our hidden gem of a preschool and fell in love with it, and its large wooden playground, open classrooms, philosophy of letting kids get dirty and messy, and lack of helicoptering over them.

My Big Guy fell in love with it too.  When the time comes for me to pick him he'll usually tell me that he wants to stay.  It's great.  I'd much rather have him want to stay there because he loves it - he has fun and feels safe there. He loves his teacher and his friends.

Recently two more issues have come up that have proven just how wisely we have chosen.

The first is hilariously adorable.  My Big Guy is way into NASCAR.  He loves it.  My husband and My Big Guy watch it on tv, and will go to the races when they're close.  As part of a NASCAR race, they sing the National Anthem.  My Big Guy loves this.  We bought him little American flags and he will routinely tell us to "put our hearts on" and we sing to the flag.  He has his own version of the National Anthem, which involves singing about how much he loves the flag and what colors it is.  Adorbs.  

Lately, when he tells me to put my heart on and stand up for the flag I noticed that he's trying to say the Pledge of Allegiance.  I helped him through it, and then asked him where he learned that.  He said school.  He said that they say it every day at school.  

Oh be still my cold Republican heart.

His class of three year olds says the Pledge of Allegiance every day?  I love it.  I almost cried when he told me.  This is in fact, the perfect school for us. 

It gets better.

The second issue stems from that most dreaded of days - Halloween.  Blech.

The kids have been working on a little Halloween show for the parents, and in return the parents have been asked to bring food to the show for a little party afterward.  There were sign up sheets in the classroom asking parents to bring in either something salty, something sweet, or fruit.  Nothing with peanuts or popcorn please.  I didn't think anything of it and signed up for something sweet.  It seemed completely normal to me.

I then turned to facebook to get suggestions from other parents about what I should bring.  The suggestions eventually evolved into a discussion about how the other parents were shocked that our school lets us bring in home made food because none of theirs do.  


I get that food allergies are an issue.  But c'mon, can't we trust other parents to you know, NOT poison our kids?  I know that our school takes food allergies seriously - we had a very detailed form to fill out and in every room there's a sign saying what kids can't have what foods.  Luckily in My Big Guy's room no one seems to have any food allergies and the only restrictions are of a religious/cultural nature.  But if there were some kid who was allergic to something I would make sure to make a treat that he/she could eat.  I don't want some little kid to end up in the hospital because they ate my brownies or whatever.  I don't want some kid to not be able to participate in the party cause I made a peanut-laden dessert.  Can't we trust other parents to feel the same way?  We're all in the same boat here - we want our kids to have fun and enjoy themselves.  Let the kids have some home made Rice Krispie treats to celebrate Halloween.  I can't imagine what asshole parent would decide, "Eh, little Tommy is allergic to bananas.  Fuck him, I'm making a banana dessert!"

As pointed out on my facebook post - home made stuff is probably a lot better for the kids than anything prepackaged might be.  Personally, I'm of the mindset that a little crap food here and there won't kill anyone, but I also agree that home made cookies beat out store bought ones taste-wise every day.  I want my kids to have yummy food.  I want them to have healthy food.  Turns out that home made checks both those boxes better than store bought food does.  

What happened that we can no longer trust parents to make food for our kids in a safe way?  When did it become better for the school to rule with an iron fist as to what can and cannot be brought in?  How did it become ok for the school to know better THAN THE PARENTS?  

I understand that childhood obesity is a problem.  I understand that food allergies are a problem.  But you know what?  As a parent, those are MY PROBLEMS.  I don't need the school, or anyone else telling me how to raise my kid, or in this case what to feed him.  

I'm glad we found our hidden gem of a preschool where I'm not only allowed, but encouraged to bring in stuff from home to help celebrate a (albeit awful) holiday.  Just proves to me once again, that we have chosen wisely.  And it makes me scared (like so many other things do) for when my kids start real school.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013


I am about to make what some will see as my most controversial and offensive statement yet.


I fucking hate Halloween.

There.  I said it.  I hate it.  I fucking hate it.

I hate costumes, I hate dressing up in them, I hate how pretending to like other people's costumes, I hate the constant barrage of people at my door (Introversion anyone?), I hate haunted houses... I hate it all.

I even thought it was stupid as a kid.  Growing up in our house we had free access to whatever crap food we wanted at any time.  I remember being like 10 and thinking, "This is dumb.  Why am I wearing this stupid outfit with my winter coat over it (Chicagoland, your Octobers are a cruel mistress) and trekking all over the place for candy I don't even like when I can stay here and eat all the candy I want?"

Apparently my introverted ways were well established even as a child.

Here in the CH we will get an insane amount of trick or treaters.

This is my candy supply.

No joke, I fully expect to go through most, if not all of that.  It's insane.  It's non-stop.  It's awful.

As much as I despise Halloween, I must say that having kids is making turn a corner on it a bit.  ONLY A BIT.  If I felt it was a legit option I wouldn't decorate, turn off all my lights and hide in the basement on Halloween.

But My Big Guy is three this year, and he gets it.  He knows what trick or treating is, he runs around the house yelling, "Happy Halloween Boo!" (the "boo" is part of it for him).  He got a giraffe costume the other day and loves wearing it.  He's super excited about ringing all the doorbells.

Damn childhood enthusiasm is contagious and I find myself ALMOST looking forward to Halloween.  I'll still sigh with relief when it's over, and be glad we can move on to far more civilized holidays (Christmas!), but I think as time goes on my hatred will somewhat dissipate as I enjoy watching how much my boys enjoy Halloween.

Here in the CH it is also standard practice for parents to pull a wagon of booze as they follow their kids through the neighborhood trick or treating.  That's something I can get behind, and perhaps make my Halloween more tolerable.

Only 59 more days until Christmas...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fit vs Fat

So there's this:

I have some mixed thoughts on it.

Let's call the mom on the left "Fit Mom" and the on the left "Fat Mom", just for purposes of distinction.  As someone who feels that the pale, flabby, white belly of Fat Mom looks eerily familiar, I am in no way trying to insult her.  But let's all be honest here, that's sort of the point of the pic isn't it?  "I'm kinda fat, and I'm ok with it".  So Fat Mom it is.

So Fit Mom.  First of all, good for you.  Good for you for making your health and fitness a priority.  It's important to be healthy to take care of your kids, and hell, just to feel good in general.  You probably have more energy and are better able to run after those 3 adorable boys.  Well done.  I salute you and your flat abs.  I admire you for your dedication to fitness.

I see your message of "What's your excuse?" and I get it.  You're trying to be motivational and get other moms into the gym so they too can be healthy.  Again, bravo for the thought.  Encouraging people to be healthy is a good thing.  

However.  Part of me is rubbed the wrong way by your statement and feels like you're just adding fuel to the fire of the Mommy Wars.  "Hey, I can have a six pack AND raise 3 boys - why can't you?"  Well, there are probably a millions reasons why.  If you want to focus on getting trim and lean and being super in shape that's great!  Doesn't mean that it's what I need to do.  That doesn't make you better than me, and it doesn't make me better than you.  You made a decision that being that in shape was important to you, and you did it.  Well done!  I have no idea what sort of time and energy that took for you, but I'm sure it was a lot.  Good job!  If I, and other moms, chose not to be that dedicated to losing the baby weight, or getting a six pack or whatever, that's NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.  You don't need to rub it in our fat bellies that you're all tan and toned, and make us feel shitty for not being able to be the same way.  You go work out and be skinny and that's awesome.  For you.  

If you want to motivate people to get to the gym maybe attempting to shame them into it isn't the best idea... I know when I saw the pic I personally thought, "Oh hellz no. That's just not going to happen for me.  I'm too old and too fat.  Damn her."  I didn't think, "Yes!  I too can have a six pack (excuse me while I regain my composure after my fit of hysterical laughter), off to the gym I go!"

You're adding to the Mommy Wars because your secondary message is, "I"m a better mom because I can be this skinny AND raise my kids!  Why can't you?"

Now.  Fat Mom.  First of all, way to be confident in your body.  The thought of donning a sports bra and kneeling (not even standing where I could possibly suck it in and appear slightly skinnier than I am!) for a public picture is horrifying to me.  Good for you for having the confidence to do that!  I really admire your confidence and hell, sense of humor about the whole thing.  

But you too are firing up the Mommy Wars.  

If Fit Mom wants to start shit, let her.  No need to fight back.  

I get where you're coming from, believe me I do.  And I'm sure a lot of other moms feel the same way - that this is what their bodies are like, and they're ok with it.  Being confident is always a good thing.  

But!  We already have so many different issues going on in the Mommy-verse.  Formula vs breastmilk, helicopter vs free range, cloth diapers vs disposables, co-sleeping vs cribs... Do we really need to add fit vs fat to that too?  Can't we just say, "Hey, way to be in shape!" and move on with our lives?  Do we really need to start judging?  We don't know what's going on in Fit Mom's life, let's give her the benefit of the doubt that she was just trying to get people to be in shape and move on. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Desperate Times?

So this has been circulating the internet - http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/21/is-breast-still-best-when-its-another-mothers-milk/?_r=1

Basically, (and being a formula family, this was completely news to me, I had no idea this sort of thing happened), there are moms out there who will sell their breast milk to a website, and that website will in turn sell the breast milk to moms with babies who feed their babies breast milk bought off the internet.


Now, I'm sure these parents buying milk off the internet think they're doing what's best for their babies.  I mean, really, who out there is thinking, "Hey, you know what sounds great?  Getting some contaminated breast milk that will make my baby sick!  I love projectile vomiting!"  No.  No one loves that.

Maybe it's just the control freak in me, or the fact that I'm a unashamed formula feeder (FF) but I can't even fathom letting a stranger's breast milk cross my baby's lips.  Never.  I don't know what that person has been eating, or drinking, or doing with their body.  I don't know how careful they were packaging and shipping it (I've ordered frozen pizza from Girodano's to be shipped to us and it was packed up like it was a precious organ or something, I can't imagine what sort of precautions shipping breast milk would entail).

I'm sure they 100% believe that this is a better alternative to feeding their babies formula.  That's what scares me.

We've come to the point where feeding your baby someone else's bodily fluid is considered more acceptable than feeding him formula.  Wtf?

There was another story out there (http://www.nbcnews.com/health/75-percent-breast-milk-bought-online-contaminated-analysis-shows-8C11421794?ocid=twitter) in which someone who created one of these websites said the following, "“A blatant attack on women attempting to feed their babies is cruel and you should feel ashamed of yourself for spreading misinformation,” Khadijah Cisse, a midwife who founded MilkShare, a portal for connecting women cited in the new research, said in an email to NBC News. “Anyone can type up any bit of lies they want and make claims. Breast milk is supposed to contain bacteria.”

Here's my question for Ms. Cisse - Does she feel the same way about formula feeding?  When there's some new article making the rounds claiming that formula will make your kids stupid and fat and ugly and lazy does she think those authors should be ashamed?  It's a two-way street Ms. Cisse.  This is how FF's feel pretty much all the damn time when we're attacked for giving our babies what you all deem to be the liquid of the devil on an almost daily basis.

I'm totally not anti-breastfeeding as I've stated before.  I know it's amazing for baby, it's just not for me.  If you want to breastfeed your kid til he's 12, great, I don't care.  That's what's working for you and your kid and that's great.  No one is in danger there.

This.  This puts your kid in danger.  Much more danger than just cracking open the can of formula.  And it scares me that people think it's a better option.

I don't know what the solution to all this is, other than to stop demonizing formula as  worse than feeding your baby motor oil so that other mom's see it as a legit option.  It's not poison, but someone else's breast milk MIGHT BE.  You're entering a world of unknowns with stranger milk, when you open a can of formula you know what you're getting.

I'm sad for these moms.  I'm sad that they feel this desperate, that they have to turn to the internet to get milk for their babies rather than feed them formula.

Again, maybe it's just something I don't understand at all.  Have you done this?  Would you do this?  Do you think it's a legit better option than formula (dude, if you do, I'm just interested in hearing WHY.  Seriously, curiosity, not judgement - you're doing what you think is best for your baby, that's a good thing)?

Monday, October 21, 2013


Recently I was contacted by a casting agent for a reality tv show.  They were looking for a Free Range Family to be a part of their "Extreme Parenting" show.  We went through a couple steps with them, giving basic information but eventually decided not to participate.

When we got the offer, I was really 50-50 on the whole thing.  Part of me thought it could be fun, and kinda cool to see ourselves on tv like that.  Plus, I figured if we could maybe reach a couple of people and show them that Free Ranging it with their kids is safe and ok and even good it might be worth it.  The other part of me recoiled at the thought of having our lives on display, and feared what sort of crazy editing might be done to make us look more "extreme".  

I honestly don't believe the way we're raising our kids is "extreme".  I think what we're doing is how kids should be raised.  We want them to be confident and independent, and we're raising them in a manner that we feel will best accomplish that.  I'm sure people out there disagree with what we do (or don't do), and that's fine.  To be honest, I wasn't that concerned with America hating us (if they did, I honestly don't think I'd really care or be that bothered by it), but the intrusion into our lives was what sent me over to the "no" side.

They wanted to come film us for 7-10 days, which would be a huge disruption to our lives.  Would My Big Guy be allowed to go to school on those days?  What about speech therapy?  While I am a Free Ranger, I'm also a stickler to routine for my kids.  Having people here filming us is definitely not part of our routine and Lord knows how that would affect my guys.  

I also feared how the editing of this whole thing would play out.  Personally, I am a reality tv fan (sort of).  I love me some Housewives of Wherever.  I have watched enough of them, and their reunion shows to know that the editing team can be a bunch of assholes.  They edit stuff to create drama and controversy and and it's not really "reality" anymore.  It's some weird created world that doesn't really accurately depict your life, and what you stand for.  I worried that they'd try to make it look like we put our kids in danger, which is NOT what Free Range Parenting is all about.  The safety of your kids comes first, always.  But it's closely followed by letting them try new things, challenge themselves and gain confidence and independence.  When hours of footage of that are edited who knows how it would turn out - we might look like we just let our young children wander the streets or something.

I 100% believe in raising my kids Free Range, but I don't want other people to get the wrong idea about it.  I can handle if people hate me, whatever, join the club.  What would bother me is if people decided Free Range Parenting was an even worse idea than they already thought, and I have a feeling that's how it would be portrayed on the show.

We're also pretty private people, and I just wouldn't want the intrusion into our lives.  Hell, I get mad if someone rings my doorbell and wants to interact with me - I'd probably go nuts with an entire film crew in my house.

I'm glad we decided against it, but it is one of those things I'll always wonder about - what would our reality show episode have looked like?

Would you let a film crew into your lives for "Extreme Parenting"?

Monday, October 14, 2013


I don't think I've written about it here, but My Big Guy is in speech therapy.  When he was 2.5 years old he was barely stringing two syllables together.  He had a couple words, nothing really understandable if you didn't know him, BUT he had developed his own little sign language.  A pat on his head?  That meant "yes". Shaking his hand in front of his face was "no", two fists banging together was "music" and his index finger bending up and down was "play on the driveway" (I never said they made sense).  There were a bunch more too which meant we had no issues communicating, we just weren't doing it through speech.

There was a time when we were super worried about him, fearing autism or some other developmental disability because his eye contact wasn't great and he obviously wasn't where he should be speech-wise.  I remember getting ready for his 1.5 year old checkup and crying the whole way there worried that the doctor might see something that he wanted to investigate further.  

My Big Guy also had/had a large head.  A giant Polish head as I like to call it.  As a parent one of the worst things you can do is Google some fairly innocuous trait.  Turns out rapid head growth (which My Big Guy had) has a link with autism.  Knowing this, and knowing he wasn't speaking normally I seriously almost threw up on my way to the doctor's office because I was so scared and nervous and worried.  

Luckily our pediatrician wasn't concerned, and told us to wait for My Big Guy's speech to come in on its own.  My husband was a late talker too, so maybe it was just a family thing.  No reason for concern.  Phew.  I thanked him, finished up the appointment and returned to my car and cried again - this time with relief.   

We eventually enrolled My Big Guy in Early Intervention.  We wanted to start him preschool, and we knew something wasn't right and that he needed help.  He started weekly sessions with a speech therapist.  I can't put into words how grateful I am to that woman for everything she did for him.  In less than six months he went from barely saying two syllables together to saying crazy things like, "That's a triceratops, he has big horns."  Granted, he has a lisp, but he's speaking in full sentences and using semi-correct grammar most of the time.  When we started him in therapy in April he couldn't even say "Thomas".  "Triceratops" wasn't even a remote possibility, forget the whole sentence.  I will be forever thankful to our therapist for not only getting My Big Guy to talk more, but for getting him to WANT to talk more.  Now he will ask me what something is called, and repeat it after me.  He never did that before.  He didn't want to talk, he was fine with his little sign language.  Our therapist helped him in so many ways more than just saying words.  She helped him WANT to learn more, which is an amazing thing.  She opened up the world to him in a way that we couldn't and I can't explain how much that means to us.  

Since he's turned three, My Big Guy is now enrolled in Special Education speech therapy through our school district.  He goes once a week to a local school for a half an hour session with a new therapist who's working on getting him to slow down when he speaks (he has too much to say - I never thought it'd be possible!), talking without a lisp (although on a 3 year old it's sort of adorable), and just generally enunciating and pronouncing things more correctly.  

During this whole process people have kept telling me not to worry about the stigma of speech therapy, or Early Intervention, or Special Education.  

The thought never even crossed my mind, or my husband's mind.  All we thought was that our son needed help and this was the best way to get it for him.  I didn't care if it was called "Get Your Weird-Ass Kid Talking!", it was what he needed and we were going to do it for him and I didn't care what anyone thought.  I never realized that people might be judging us, or that other parents might be NOT enrolling their kids because they were afraid of what people might think.  This is what we needed to do, so we did it.  If someone thinks less of My Big Guy because he needed help screw them.  

What the whole thing really made me think about is really how lucky we are.  Getting a little help to get My Big Guy talking is nothing compared to what so many other parents go through on a daily basis.  A slight speech delay is nothing when you think about all the kids who are severely ill or disabled or who will just never live a "normal" life.  It made me truly appreciate what a miracle it is that we have two healthy boys.  We are so lucky, so blessed, and it changed the way I look at a lot of every day things.

When one of my kids is having a complete and total meltdown over something stupid, I try to stop and remember that there are people in the world who would give their right arm to have their kid screaming at them over something stupid.  Their kid might have passed away, or be sick, or have austism or anything that might prevent that kid from screaming about something stupid. We are lucky that our kids are able to scream at us, as crazy as that sounds.

I know it's cliche, and it's something I have a hard time with (I'm Polish and OCD, it's a rough combo) but I try to remind myself that the mess will still be there after my kids are asking for my attention.  I struggle with that one a lot, but I'm working on it.  People out there would do anything to be able to watch their kid go down a slide, or stand on a chair, or color a picture or make a train go.  I'm lucky to be able to watch mine do it.

Going through speech therapy has really just changed the way I look at raising my kids, and made me have a new perspective on everything.  Just one more thing to be grateful to our speech therapist for.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Shut It Up Bitch

So for realz people, for realz.  We were at the zoo the other day, rocking it out in our double stroller, minding our damn business when some bitch felt the need to start shit.

First of all, yeah, I rock a double stroller with my two kids who are 3 and 1.5.  My Big Guy gets tired and likes to ride from time to time, and when I'm on the zone defense it makes it easier to have at least ONE of them strapped down and unable to run off.  My Little Guy is also my Little Daredevil and will totally attempt to climb into some animal's habitat place if left alone.  No fear in that one.  Plus it hauls all my crap so well.  We enjoyed a nice zoo picnic and the double stroller carried all the remnants of it, including the gross blankey we ate on (have you ever seen two small boys eat?  It ain't pretty).

Because it is October, and in theory it's fall (bless you global warming and your 80+ degree days in Chicagoland) the zoo wisely (*scoffing noises*) decided to close the majority of its food stands.  Because my weirdo kids won't drink anything but milk, this meant I had to brave the crowds at the main restaurant.  Have you ever stood in a line for 10 minutes just to get 4 tiny little containers of milk while your children are restrained in their double stroller 10 feet away with people gasping and glaring at you for NOT taking up the entire line area with the massive ride for the kids?  It's a wee bit stressful.  Let's just say I was a touch on edge there.

So then.  Oh then..

I'm filling up sippy cups with the nectar of the gods (2% milk), and some bitch walks by with her mom.  She's got like a 3 year old, and a baby who's maybe 5 months old.  She's also got grandma with her.  Grandma points out that hey, we have a double stroller and look how nice it is (Chicco Together in red, thank you very much).  Then, as mommy is walking past us, while glancing at us in disdain says, "Ugh.  I hate when people bring a double stroller to the zoo, it's so rude."


Oh yes.  She did.

I may or may not have slightly lost my cool and glared at her while saying, "Yeah, well, it's great that you have help but when you're on your own let's see what you do.  Fuck off."


Perhaps telling another mom to "fuck off" wasn't the best idea, I'll admit that.  But! BUT!  C'mon now.  If you really have a problem with strollers maybe you shouldn't go to THE ZOO.  It's not like I was the only "rude" one there disturbing her world with my massive stroller - I was merely one of many.  Lots of people have kids close in age and need to tie them down for everyone's safety.  Sure, I get annoyed when people demonstrate poor stroller etiquette (http://snarkymommablog.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-lesson-in-stroller-etiquette.html), but I don't HATE that they've decided to bring a stroller to the zoo.  I just wish they'd pull over to make sure precious is wearing the proper amount of layers for the 75 degree day rather than do it in the middle of the path.

It's the zoo bitch.  It's full of families, and kids, and strollers.  If they offend you THAT MUCH don't come.  And don't you dare pass judgement on me for doing what I think is best for my family when you have the luxury of being on the man defense.

At the end of the day that's what gets me - the judgement . Look, I don't care if you breastfeed your kid til he's in high school, wear him until he's 7, cloth diaper (I'm actually considering this for any future children - who am I???), or do any of that crunchy stuff that's just not for me.  Is your kid happy?  Is your kid healthy? Cool.  It's not for me, but clearly it's working for you and your family.  That doesn't make you better than me, and it doesn't make me better than you.  If you want to bring grandma to the zoo and schlep your crap all over more power to you - don't think it makes you better than me for pushing the equivalent of a stroller Hummer through the zoo.  You're doing what you gotta do, I'm doing what I gotta do.  My kids are happy, your kids are happy.  Let's move on with our lives.

The judgement just kills me.  There are few things you can do that will make me think I am legitimately better than you, otherwise I'm just guessing you're doing what you think is best for you and your family.  I don't know you, you don't know me, let's just assume we're all doing our best here.  More over, I don't CARE.  I don't CARE what you're doing until it affects me.  When you decide to walk by me and imply that I'm being rude by caring for my children in what I consider the best way for us, you're affecting me.  It's not only my parenting philosophy, but my general life one.  I won't get up all in your shit, stay out of mine.  And seriously, if you DO want to get up in my shit, do it for real - don't just make a comment as you walk by and expect nothing to happen.

I won't lie, I did love the look of shock on her face.  I think she thought I'd just hang my head in shame, feeling inadequate with my double stroller and maybe, just maybe think about somehow hauling all our crap and wrangling my children without it to the zoo.

She clearly didn't know who she was messing with, did she?