There Were Three In the Bed and Momma Bish Said… ROLL OVER!

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Daddy Bish and I have decided that we need a bigger bed. We have already established that co-sleeping means no sleeping… but when you add a furry critter to the mix (that would be the dog), finding a place to sleep is nearly impossible!

We are a “cry it out… within reason” family… which means Munchie ends up in our bed sometimes. If Daddy brings Munchie into bed before I am ready to go to sleep, I am likely to forfeit my “spot” for the night. Munchie likes to sleep with his head hanging off the bed… and sometimes after a LONG day… risking waking him up to slip back into bed is not something I am willing to attempt. So… off to the couch I go. (If roles are reversed between Daddy and I, Daddy gets the couch.)

Sometimes, I do risk moving Munchie to the middle of the bed. When this happens, he feels the need to practice his ninja training skills until the wee hours of the morning. Pretty sure every parent can relate… we are all raising sleeper cell ninjas that will one day fight off zombies, aliens, or some other terrifying creatures.

*** Yes, there are Thin Mints on my might stand. No, I do not share.

DIY Fine Motor Sensory Play – Without Spending a Dime!

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I’m not about to drop $20 on a toy to help teach my kid fine motor skills… and you shouldn’t either. Grab some small toys (like Legos, the tops of those baby food squeeze pouches) and a container with a hole in the lid (empty wipes containers, coffee canisters with a hole cut in the top, etc). Demonstrate how to drop the objects in, and then let your kiddo do it!

Munchie’s new favorite game? Clean up the Legos! We build crazy objects… and he rips them apart and shoves the pieces into the container(s) in front of him. It is freaking awesome, he loves it, and he is learning to clean up in a super fun way! (Oh, and also developing his fine motor skills… but Momma Bish is more excited that he is cleaning.)

Other objects you can drop in? Cotton balls, ping pong balls, pom poms, clothes pins, bottle caps, etc.

Other containers you can use? Literally anything with an opening large enough for the objects to fit through. Empty pasta sauce jar, bowl, wide mouthed bottle, etc.

Just look through your recycling bin and you are about to find something to use! Remember… kids have more fun playing with trash than most things you will spend a pretty penny on. So… why waste your pennies?

Holy Freaking Fudge Nun Fudge!!!

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I freaking love camp. I grew up going to camp. I was a junior counselor at camp. I spent a couple years “crashing” camp (I didn’t work there, but I stopped in every night to eat dinner and spend the rest of the night volunteering). Then, seven hours after my husband and I returned from our honeymoon, I moved to the woods for three months to work at camp. The last two summers, I have visited camp and the staff has seen me go from super pregnant… to mom… and then watched Munchie go from floppy newborn… to walking toddler. Get it? Other people like camp… I freaking love camp.

I have made some incredible friends at camp… and when you live in the woods with strangers for a summer, you all become a quirky family. You laugh together, cry together, but most importantly… you share each other’s care packages.

Insert Cheddar (everyone at camp has camp names). Cheddar’s mom sends the best care packages ever. Sometimes, there will be a giant box packed with crazy cheeses from her home state of Wisconsin. Other times, she gets things like… a new digital camera (that accidentally got put in the freezer, because her mom is known for sending food… so all of her packages go in the freezer). But, the BEST care package she gets is FUDGE NUN FUDGE!

Fudge Nun Fudge is literally made by nuns in their nun house (my only point of reference is Sister Act)… and it isn’t just limited to fudge. They make all kinds of confectionery delights. Well, a huge box of this shows up every summer… plenty to share… and I lose my mind. I always get sent home with a box, as a fond camp memory. This year, Munchie is all about Fudge Nun Fudge (because we gave him a lick) and is losing HIS mind, too!

So, I need to properly thank Cheddar’s mom…

Dear Mrs. Cheddar’s Mom,

Thank you so much for sending these holy sugary treats to camp each year. I promise, they don’t melt before they arrive (I know you are concerned about this) and are eaten with great haste. I am well aware that your daughter won’t always be able to travel to camp and spend her summers with us… so I want you to know… when that happens… she has my personal address… and you can still send me Fudge Nun love.

Love always, Pogo (my camp name)… and Munchie (since he is eating this stuff, too)

After googling to find the Fudge Nun’s website, I learned you should not EVER google fudge nun (you are going to do it… and I’m just telling you… I warned you).

These are the REAL Fudge Nuns!!!
^^^ Hint: This would make an awesome Christmas present for Momma Bish.

Kid Friendly Businesses

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BIG shout out to Ballenger Creek Chiropractic for having the most kid friendly waiting room I have ever stepped foot in (including our pediatrician’s office). With bright colors and plenty of books and toys, the kids can play quietly until it’s time to go home. The play area is clean, organized, and inviting. Oh, and they even have apples at the front desk… which are like icing on the cake (because they are a babysitter in and of themselves)!

I encourage other businesses to take note of this awesome feature and consider the following…

By law, parents are not allowed to abandon their children in order to come to your establishment. Finding a babysitter only adds to the financial obligation of our visit, not to mention the additional time that needs to be invested waiting for the sitter, or shuttling kids to and from the caretaker’s home. Simply put, there is a good chance we are just going to bring our kids with us.

The happier my kid(s) (please note, I still only have one, but sometimes haul around a second… so no need to Facebook stalk me and try to figure out when I had a second kid… because I didn’t) are in your place of business, the more likely I am to return. I want to feel welcome to bring my kid(s) with me if I need to. I’m pretty sure other parents feel the same way.

People are going to argue that, as the parent, it is my responsibility to entertain my children… but let me assure you, parents can load their bags with favorite toys, books, and snacks… but the moment a child walks in your front door, they are going to want to explore. You don’t need to invest in a jungle gym, or anything elaborate. You don’t even need adorable little chairs, or a play mat. I’m just asking for some children’s books in the lobby.

So, cheers to Ballenger Creek Chiropractic for being such an awesome example of a kid friendly business. Thanks for offering the kids a great space to play while Mommy gets “cracked”… and for baskets of delicious apples!

Up Up and Away! Tips and Tricks We Learned About Flying with a Wee One

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Last week, Munchie boarded his first plane. We flew from DC to JFK and then to Austin. Coming home, we flew from Austin to ATL, and then home to DC. (Only including these details for Munchie… when he one day reads my blogs to his therapist, he can stumble upon the occasional fascinating factoid.)

Even before I had kids, I knew that travel of any sort with a little kid could potentially be the equivalent of plummeting into the fiery pits of hell. I had pinned a zillion travel tips, especially for flying with toddlers. All of this being said, I opted to consult my fabulous group of trusted moms and dads to see what they had tried, what worked, and what proved to be a mid-air Pinterest fail (because 73% of the awesome ideas you see on Pinterest are nothing but broken hopes and dreams… and lies). I didn’t need this to happen to me… so by asking around and thoroughly researching our airline’s policy on infants, I learned a few incredibly awesome tricks and tips that I will now pass on to my lovely audience.

Young kids fly free… on your lap… which sounds great… but is a sh*t show. I mean, sure… those floppy little babies who aren’t mobile? It’s a great deal for them (and their parents). But mobile kids? Holy crap! We booked our flights last minute, so my husband and I were sitting across the aisle from each other on most of our flights. Keeping a squirming kid on your LAP during a flight is nearly impossible! We learned that even sitting next to each other provides little relief. For short flights, sure… skip the ticket for your kid… but if you are going to be in the air for an extended period of time… just drop the cash. Heck… take it out of the college fund… because if that kid doesn’t have his or her own seat for a long flight, chances are, they won’t make it to college.

Bring your car seat, even if your kid doesn’t have a ticket! Chances are, you are going to need your car seat when you get to your destination anyway. Plus, if there are extra seats on the plane, you can ask if your child can have one of the extra seats so they may use their car seat during take off and landing. Loosely translated, you are going to leave your kid in that seat the entire flight and no one is going to say a word… because they don’t want all hell breaking loose on the plane. You know what’s scarier than snakes on a freaking plane? Kids on a freaking plane. Make a movie about that.

If you opt to drug your child (in a kind and loving way) don’t use Benedryl! Some kids become total crackheads and get a maddening burst of energy. Instead, try a natural route (and you will feel better about a natural supplement than an OTC medication), and reach for the melatonin drops. Adult dose, four droppers full. Munchie dose? A couple drops. (I’m not a doctor, so talk to yours before your kid OD’s on melatonin.)

Bring a different toy and a different snack for every 30-60 minutes you will be in the air… base this upon your child’s attention span. This works like a charm for some people… but I was really excited about all the new toys I got for our flight and Munchie couldn’t have cared less. He liked Sky Mall, airplane snacks, and milk (don’t forget your sippy cup(s)/bottle(s).

Also, Yo Gabba freaking Gabba saved our tushies. We bought the whole first season and let him watch as much as he wanted. We just handed him the iPad and surrendered.

If you are traveling with extra people, make sure you are all on the same flight. Uncle Austen and Aunt Lizzie were total lifesavers. If you want to pay for them to go on vacation with you (highly recommend) I’m sure they would accept and help out with your kid(s) on the plane.

Tricks to Being Productive with a Toddler Around

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I have read books, blogs, and articles written by mothers who divulge their secret ways of managing to get work done. Some take their kids to fast food restaurants with big plastic play places… where $3 of overly processed fried food (Wait… McDonald’s has apples now.. so that’s good… right?) and germ infested equipment will entertain their offspring for hours, while Mom/Dad catch up on email, writing, paying bills, filling their Amazon carts, etc.

Other parents have admitted to ditching their kiddo(s) at IKEA’s Smaland for an hour of silence, while they hide out in the cafe and catch up on their reading, eat a hot meal in peace, or whatever child-free activity their heart desires. Downside? Spawn must be 4-10 years old and potty trained… also… we don’t have an IKEA that is close enough to justify 60 minutes of free “me” time.

In addition to IKEA, some grocery stores offer a free childcare service (genius)… but again, kids have to be potty trained and of a certain age to participate. Oh… and some gyms and fitness centers have childcare, too… but that would require me paying a membership fee and (even worse) going to the gym. No gracias.

Now people are dying to know, “So, Momma Bish… how do you get things done with Munchie trying to jump down the stairs, climb up your body, ride the dog, scream at the top of his lungs, and swing from the chandeliers, etc?” Well, usually… I don’t. Getting things done with a toddler around is nearly impossible, at best.

BUT, when I really really really need to get something done (like take a shower, make a phone call, or Facebook stalk my child-free and still single friends to live vicariously through them) I can pick from a list of options.

1. Self Play – Sometimes, Munchie is rather independent. Like, right now… he is throwing a ball around the house and chasing it. Fabulous. This only works until he figures out I’m doing something important and begins demanding my attention.

2. Apples – Yes, apples are my go-to distraction. If i need a minute, he is throwing a fit, etc… just hand him an apple. Generally, this tactic will keep him busy for a good 30 minutes. I just have to keep an eye out for him to get close to the seeds. Oh, how we LOVE apples.

3. Television – “OMG, she let’s her kid watch television! What a horrible mother! We must report her at once!” Holy apple turnovers… calm yourself down. First of all… my kid… not yours. Second of all… I swore I would NEVER use my television as a babysitter (but then I learned to never say never). Third… it’s (usually) educational television. Fourth… it’s on for like 30 minutes… so get over it.

4. Step Outside – The first floor is pretty well childproofed at this point (though children can always find a way to prove you wrong), so stepping outside to take an important call (like the doctor calling to tell me I need to reduce the amount of stress in my life, sleep more, and stop eating Goldfish I find on the floor) or talk to a neighbor for a moment is a safe option. This doesn’t eliminate the screaming toddler that is watching me through the glass door, freaking out… but it does reduce the noise.

5. Naptime – But hurry, because you never know how long that kid is going to sleep!

So, there you have it. Most of the day, I’m consumed… but if I need a moment to get things done… you now know my secret(s)!

Class Reunions – A Chance to Meet the Next Generation

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It blows my mind that I graduated from high school ten years ago. (Some people are like… she is so young… others are like… she is so old!) But, seriously… ten years? In school, it seemed like the days and years lasted for-e-ver. I guess my twenties have just been… well… busy. Work, college, more work, more college… dating… marriage, and… A KID! (Oh, and a dog… a fish… and a couple of reptiles.)

So, my high school reunion rolls around and I end up on the committee because it was super important to me that our reunion included some sort of family element. I really wanted Munchie to play with the spawn of my fellow graduates… the kids of the kids I grew up with. I wanted him to feed bubbles (okay… this wasn’t my original hope… but it happened) to kids he had only seen on Facebook.

I wanted to meet the kids who had been my inspiration via Facebook during my pregnancy… the adorable faces that kept me going when I was feeling like a nauseous cow on bed rest. I wanted to hold the babies I had prayed for and cheered on while they grew stronger in the NICU… and I did.

Our kids played together, our spouses made awkward small talk… and my fellow graduates and I had a chance to mingle. A few people came from out of town, but most who were in attendance still live close. We were able to make plans for future play dates, talk about meeting up at the parks of our youth… and just support each other in our new family roles.

Don’t worry… people without kids had fun, too… and we all met up for an adult event later. I enjoyed seeing everyone, getting a chance to reconnect, and see how we have transformed into the generation who will spawn a future generation. (A not so friendly hangover reminded me that I’m not in college anymore.)

Topping our level of awesomeness is going to be tough… but when awesome people breed… the result can only be super awesome… right? Cheers to future generations! We have big plans for you… please, don’t let us down. Good luck being more awesome than we are. (One day Munchie is going to read this and think, “OMG… my mom is so lame!)

No More Munchies Jumping on the Bed

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We have our first real injury! After three days of being told not to jump on the hotel bed (which is by far the most fun thing you can do in a hotel, but as a responsible adult, I must now put safety first) Munchie learned WHY Mommy and Daddy told him over and over not to jump on the bed.

He was jumping around, lost his balance, and dove toward the nightstand. He was just beyond my arm’s reach and smacked HARD flat on the bed, with his noggin smashing on the nightstand. Actually, he landed on my phone, which was charging on the night stand.

Instantly, his eye started to bruise, he had a slight abrasion from where my phone charger pulled out of the phone and scraped his delicate little face. I didn’t want to overreact and freak him out, so I kept my cool (Taking a moment to pat myself on the back). Honestly, there wasn’t nearly the amount of blood I had expected from such a blow.

He cried for about two minutes and then went back to his cheerful little self, frolicking around the room. As the day progressed, you could more definitively see the curved outline of the Samsung Galaxy Otterbox (I should get paid for saying that) that he landed on. Honestly, if my phone hadn’t been there, I think he would have busted his face open on the corner of the nightstand.

A bit later, I was telling someone what had happened and they looked at “Scarface” (Munchie earned a new nickname from Uncle Austen) and asked, “Did you scare Mommy and Daddy this morning?” Truthfully, no. It takes a lot more than a black eye and little scrape to scare Mommy and Daddy… now… had there been more blood… probably.

Ultimately, I know kids fall. They get bumps, bruises, and black eyes. Getting hurt is part of growing up and if we try to protect our kids from everything, they won’t have the freedom they need to explore, learn, and grow. Carry bandaids, take a deep breath, and let your kids play. Do your best to create a safe environment, but accept that accidents happen.

All of this being said, learn from those bumps and bruises. So… no more Munchies jumping on the bed.

I Almost Punched Her Through the Phone

This afternoon was filled with phone calls to airlines, hotels, and rental car companies. While I typically scour the internet to find amazing deals, our current situation warrants a phone calls to achieve circumstantial rates for our travel.

“Thank you for calling (blah, blah, blah). Can I help you today?”

“Yes, I would like to inquire about your bereavement rates.”

Over the last year (or at least 15 months), our family has endured the loss of (just recounted) SIX relatives. One great-grandmother. One great aunt. Two grandmothers. One father. And now, we grieve the loss of my uncle.

Pardon my language when I say… F***.

We have all read articles about what to say (or not to say) to our friends and family members as they grieve. Personally, I have already removed several comments from my Facebook page that people just didn’t really think through.

If you have missed these articles, I will sum them up. When someone dies, there is no RIGHT thing to say… but there are plenty of wrong things. Not saying anything is almost as bad as saying the wrong thing. Just say, “I’m sorry for your loss.” or “You are in our thoughts/prayers.” or “Let us know if you need anything.”

I need to point out that if you offer to help in any way, be prepared to do so. If you have extra rooms available in your home, offer them up. If you can pick relatives up from the airport, offer to shuttle people around. If your feel like you need to cook something, just do it.

People on the receiving end, be open to the gifts of others. They don’t know how to help you… and they are grasping for straws. Accept their gifts, take them up on their offers, and write their information down in case you need it later. Ultimately, most people are willing to lend a hand to their fellow human.

All of this being said, there are always those truly “special” people who don’t have a clue. Either they have never dealt with loss, or simply have no soul. Here is where I get to vent!

I called the airline and hotel yesterday for rates. Today, we called back to book everything. The lady from the airline was super helpful and truly respectful of our loss. (Also, Delta has a separate extension dedicated to bereavement air travel.) I suspect she may have even received special training in this area, due to her calming demeanor.

I only wish I could say the same for the crazy witch (with a capital B) who booked my hotel reservation.

Me: I am making a last minute reservation and requesting your bereavement rates.
Her: We don’t have special rates for that.
Me: Yes… yes, you do. I called yesterday. I need the discounted rates.
Her: I’m looking at a list of our discounts and it isn’t on here. Do you know the code?
Me: (Are you effing kidding me?) Look harder.
Her: Do you know what the rate was?
***Patrick was yelling, “Tell her $10!!! I think it was $10!!!”***
Me: Please get your manger.
Her: But, I need a code.
Me: (In my most calm voice… in a very angry and boiling hot tone…) Get your manager, NOW!!!

Still not sure I got the right rates, but I definitely got some sort of discount. Going to compare our rates to everyone else’s and make sure I didn’t get screwed.

Seriously though… you work in freaking customer service. As if my brain isn’t frazzled enough right now… as if our family isn’t dealing with enough stress and emotional turmoil. Be a little freaking nicer.

Please pray for our family, traveling mercies, and that I don’t run into the moron who booked our reservation… because I simply don’t have the patience.

How to Look Like You Have Your Sh*t Together in 3… 2… 1…

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Sometimes I post pictures of my kid (and his pre-approved friends) engaging in some form of sensory play that makes it look like I’m running a mother loving Montessori school up in this hiz-ouse. Other moms see my pictures and make comments like, “Oh my goodness,you do such fun stuff with Munchie!” and “How do you have the energy to put all of that together?”

First, let me accept your applause for a brief moment, before I burst your bubble. Your kid is already engaging in sensory play… the only difference is probably that I dump things into our “sensory bin” (a giant Rubbermaid tub) to look like I have my act together. If it’s hot outside, I dump a bucket of water in the bin. To make myself look fancy, I take about three seconds to add a squirt of food coloring to said water.

After that, I toss in a couple of wooded spoons, sand shovels, honestly… I toss in whatever I see laying around (I suggest avoiding knives, but to each his own) and then plop the kid(s) down.

So, do yourself a favor and spend about 8 bucks on a long, shallow Rubbermaid bin. Then, toss in whatever you have laying around. Depending on your child’s age, they might want to climb in the bin and explore with their entire body.

Here is a list of stuff you most likely have in your home that you can throw into your bin. (The bin will help to manage your mess, too.) Quantity is up to you, but keep in mind that more stuff equals more mess. I highly recommend taking pictures and posting them online so you can convince everyone you have your sh*t together.

1. Cotton balls
2. Leftover cooked noodles
3. Dry noodles
4. Dry rice/lentils/beans/etc
5. Water
6. Ketchup
7. Crumbled tissue paper/wrapping paper/printer paper
8. Sugar-free pudding/jello/cool whip (sugar free isn’t sticky!)
9. Toys of a like color/shape
10. Don’t be greedy, I already gave you nine ideas.

You don’t have to be a genius, spend lots of money, or have a bunch of spare time. If you want the truth, my deck is still covered in foam shapes from making “Shape Soup” two weeks ago. (Cut some shapes out of foam I had laying around, added a bucket of water, food coloring, and gave the kids spoons to mix it up.)

When you see people posting awesome pictures of the amazing things they do with their kids, keep a couple things in mind.

1. Any sleep deprived parent can throw together something simple, but impressive looking, with one hand (the other occupied by coffee, wine, etc) in a matter of seconds.
2. If someone posts pictures of their kid doing something really awesome, they either hired a nanny to watch their kid or plopped them in front of the TV while they put it together.
3. Don’t ever expect your kid(s) to play with something for longer than five minutes. If it takes longer than 5 minutes to put together, it probably isn’t worth your time. (Kids are a very often a buzz kill and don’t care how much effort you put into things. Think about pregnancy, labor and delivery… have they even thanked you for that? Exactly.)

So, there you go… have fun fooling your in laws and the rest of the world that you have your sh*t together. Now go make yourself a sensory bin… in a glass/mug/vessel… filled with wine/coffee/etc.

The Twists, turns, and true tales of a mom and her pint sized human

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