Life Family and the Pursuit of Sanity

or… adventures in infertility and babies and family drama!

How Much Is Too Much February 27, 2014

You remember a while back I was all “Ooh, mah parenting style is the suck. Must. Fix.” Well, I was. It was. Major changes were made. Major.


We are now an unschooling, peaceful parenting, anarchy leaning Libertarian family. For real. That means we learn, but don’t have a set curriculum. We don’t punish. At all. And, yeah, the political stuff. That’s mostly me. G is still a morality legislating right winger. We’re working on winning him over from the dark side.


Part of unschooling, at this age is exposing Lil G to a variety of experiences and subjects so that we can help direct his interests as he gets old enough to start career planning. Try as we might the boy has exactly one interest: the ocean, with several sub interests: Antarctica and the Arctic circle. Primarily, he’s interested in leopard seals. Orcas and sharks have their places. He can tell you a chromis from a tang from a parrot fish (those are all tropical fish, BTW, in case, like me, you have no clue what a chromis is). But, he loves. I mean loves leopard seals. A favorite game is pretending there are hundreds of “annoying penguins” hatching and he is the leopard seal that has to eat them all. Also, my three year old roots for the predators when watching Happy Feet (he also roots for Darth Vadar when watching Star Wars and Loki when watching the Avengers). So far, we’ve been rocking the Antarctic obsession for nearly two years. Pretty much since he first saw Happy Feet.


Recently, I was informed that he is going to get a wife when he grows up and they are going to have 3-4 children (this number changes) and he is going to move to Antarctica to “learn about leopard seals.” Daddy and I have to move with him, though, so I can help his wife “take care of all those babies.”


So, I did what any loving, unschooling mama would do. I took my kid to meet Paul Nicklen (he is a Nat Geo photog specializing in the poles with an affinity for leopard seals). During his presentation Mr. Nicklen mentioned that for $40k you too can swim with leopard seals. It was a joke. A. JOKE. A concept which my three year old does not get. The child is dead for real trying to save $40k in his piggy banks.


Obviously, we can’t take a small child to Antarctica. At least not on a swim with leopard seals expedition. Not least of all because Mommy is tropical. But also, he’s too small and would freeze to death and frankly I don’t trust the top predator of the south pole not to eat my child regardless of what “Nicklen says.” (Nicklen has been declared “cooler than Spiderman.”) But, a cruise is possible. We could probably all three do a cruise for $25k’ish. Why the hell am I even seriously considering this? I don’t have $25k for a vacation. I don’t have $25k period. If I did, we’d be a two car family.


But, if it’s his dream? If he wants to grow up to be the next highest regarded leopard seal expert in the world, I have to support that right? When is it too early to start?


Then again, he’s also pissed at polar bears for sometimes eating narwhals and wants to go to AK and “stop them from doing that.” And, AK is far more affordable.


I’m a crazy person, right? He’s three.


The Message March 20, 2013

“Even in the kindest and most loving families two year olds must be reminded a hundred times a day, perhaps by words and acts of their parents, perhaps by events, by Nature herself, that they are small, weak, clumsy, foolish, ignorant, untrustworthy, troublesome, destructive, dirty, smelly, even disgusting. They don’t like it! Neither would I. Neither would you.” John Holt


Life with a two year old is hard, friends. They are small, weak, clumsy, foolish, ignorant, untrustworthy, troublesome, destructive, dirty, smelly and even disgusting.  They wreck your house and demand unhealthy snacks. They are fiendish little tyrants. They are emotional and fearless (often the reason for being untrustworthy, troublesome, destructive and/or dirty). They soak up knowledge like sponges (even things you don’t want them to soak up). They are bold adventurers. They are… people. People who are still developing their sense of self worth. People who think YOU are the be all and end all of awesome (unless, you are denying them said unhealthy snack). People who take your opinion of them quite seriously, making it kind of important that you don’t let them know that you think they are small, weak, clumsy, foolish, ignorant, untrustworthy, troublesome, destructive, dirty, smelly and even disgusting. Even though they are.


Recently, I have been looking for more structured activities to do with the Little Twosome. Partially to help fill our days with more doing and less TV. Mostly to encourage the learning. And somewhat to help combat all of the “when are you going to send him to preschool? and get his hair cut? and good god, you’re doing it all wrong!” comments (fyi… I’m not, when he’s good and damned ready and eff you). The point… I’ve been researching different homeschooling methodologies, by accident, as I’ve been looking for more activities. The two that really seem to resonate with me (for this age group, anyway) are Unschooling and Montesorri. The main message they both present for educating this age group are: “Holy shit, they’re two, let them play!” The main message they both present for learning in general is: “If you take the fear of failure out of the equation, kids tend to learn better.” I think I would be afraid if the primary vibe I was catching from my main caregiver, and life in general, was “Wow, you’re a real pain in the ass!”


If your every effort to help around the house was met with an exasperated sigh and being told to go play somewhere else, you’d probably get tired of the rejection, right? If every activity you wanted to do was not a good one for “right now” you’d probably stop asking to do activities, huh? You’d probably start soaking up the message that you are inconvenient. I think I’d probably be scared to ask to do anything if I felt that I was viewed as an inconvenience to the people I loved most in the whole world. I think that would be a terrible feeling. So, why is it OK to make our little people feel this way? Yeah, because it’s not.


I am as guilty as anyone of needing to watch my tone and loosen up a little. I have to remind myself everyday that the world will not end if the toys stay on the floor for a couple of days. Nothing bad will happen if the laundry takes a long time to fold and not all of it is done “right.” Water can be mopped up when spilled, dishes can be rewashed if necessary. At two a child’s main learning takes place through play and play is usually pretending or imitating.


Let them help with the dishes. Let them fold the towels. Let them help out. There is no higher praise to a two year old than “Wow, you’re a great helper!” except, maybe “You sure are an excellent helper.” Let them make messes. Let them help clean up after they’ve made a mess. Let them have adventures. Let them explore daily life. It may seem boring to you, but they’ve only been here a couple of years and they’ve only been big enough to help for a few months. This is still all quite new and exciting to them. Tell them that they are big, strong, learning, trustworthy, helpful and loved (even if they are stinky and dirty, and then give them a sensory bath so they’ll be clean and smell nice). That is the best way to help them learn at this age. Plus, you know, it helps with their self esteem.


So, that’s what we’re working on around here, more daily life DOING. More letting them help. More showing them how capable they are. Well, and letting them make giant messes with sensory bins, ’cause that shit is fun.



Surprise! March 15, 2013

Filed under: Baby G,Expanding Their Minds,We're parents? — arminta @ 11:40 pm

Lil G is not always into the sensory play stuff I put together for him and Ladybug. Sometimes he surprises me, though…

There is a person selling this setup on Etsy (like exactly, same ice molds and everything) as a “Sensory activity for toddlers.” I didn’t think there was any kind of way stuffing puffballs into ice molds was going to be fun for a kid, so obviously I had to try it. Well, shockers! He flippin’ loved it.

Notice the dino dig and dragon taking a back seat to puff balls and ice molds? Cray-cray.

On the other hand I thought he would be all over gluing little tissue squares into pictures. He loves glue and he’s got a little OCD streak about making patterns (can’t imagine where that might have come from… la la la). This was the goal:

This is what happened…

So, that was time well spent cutting up tissue squares.

Anyhoo, my point? Little kids are fickle ass creatures and you never know what they’ll like and what they won’t, so try lots and lots of stuff 🙂 When all else fails, break out the Lincoln Logs

so they can do this


Rainbow Week March 6, 2013

I am totally in “preschool” mode here. Because? These kids gobble up learning like it’s going out of style. Also? It’s so much fun! This week I decided to theme the whole week and the theme is rainbows. It’s a lead in to spring. Next week will be St. Patty’s Day, then Easter. Even though they will think Easter is over because we are celebrating Easter with Nana this coming Sunday (note to self: buy a ham).

I started the rainbow festivities with yet another Pin: the squishy balloon. The idea was to make a rainbow of squishy balloons, then talk about rainbows while the littles played with their new toys. Ha! Ha-ha-ha! Here are some things I learned about shoving play dough into balloons:

  • It’s hard.
  • Really hard.
  • Especially when you’re trying to stuff more balloons with the kids watching you.

I tried several different methods for getting the play dough into the balloon. (By the way, the following things don’t work: dropping small bits of play dough into a slightly stretched balloon, using a wide mouth vinegar bottle as a funnel, using a baby food jar as a funnel or asking your husband to stop laughing and help photograph the process.) Eventually, I ended up doing a one person version of the method described by the original poster of the squishy balloon. Except, I couldn’t get a whole tub of play dough into each balloon. Other mishaps:

  • My “party pack” of balloons included 0 orange and 3 that were suspiciously condoms colored.
  • Of the six tubs of play dough I bought, 2 were dried out completely when I opened them.
  • My homemade play dough turned into mush at some point since Christmas.

Eventually, though, we ended up with six play dough filled balloons (well, seven if you count my naughty looking condom colored one) in something resembling a rainbow of colors. Of course, I did not get a picture of all of the balloons together, because “I want red!” “That one mine!” “No, Sissy!” I did get a pic of Ladybug lining up the cool end of the spectrum (aka the colors Lil G would let her play with).


And, the whole rainbow/squishy thing was fun for… three minutes? four? It wasn’t long before they started trying to make snowmen from the sacks. Then the snowmen needed snow to play in.


Enter Snow Dough. Snow Dough is baking soda and baby lotion (non-toxic, but not really “edible,” both toddlers declared it “nasty). I don’t really have measurements. Basically, I just squirted some lotion into a bowl then stirred in baking soda until it made a dough that would make a ball. Precise shit, right there.


The snow dough started out being a good idea. But, as they often do, things got really messy, really fast.


Also, it looked a lot like the kids were packing drugs.


It probably would have been easier to have just used condoms…


Oh, and if you decide to do this and you go to the bathroom, you may come back to find your children sledding on the table.


This was Monday morning. I have been asked for more snow dough, I have not been asked if we can get the squishy balloons back out. They did learn that “Red” starts the rainbow, though. So, mission accomplished!


Learning is Fun March 3, 2013

Filed under: Baby G,Big C,Expanding Their Minds,Family,Ladybug,We're parents? — arminta @ 1:48 am

Oh Pinterest! I love you, but I hate you, too. Your recipes are mostly conglomerations of canned/boxed/processed ingredients dumped together to make “the best thing ever.” Your fashion advise is questionable at best. Your memes used to be second to none, but they are lacking of late. Your ideas for creative shit to do with my kids, though? AWESOME! Left to my own devices I’d never have come up with all of these activities. The kids love them, and the Dollar Tree is raking in the dough now that I have talked G into giving me an “educational supplies” budget. Which is mostly spent on baking soda, vinegar and crap from the dollar store.


Our first forray into Pinterest inspired mayhem was “Snow Paint.” Don’t let the name deceive you, this is not paint. It is shaving cream and white glue (equal parts). It does dry puffy.

Snow Paint

The idea was to paint paper snowflakes with the snow paint, then tape them to our picture window. We ended up with four snowflakes taped to the window.

Somewhere along the way, I decided “Hey, let’s give two two-year old’s glitter!” because Am.Dumb.

The reality of snow paint and glitter with toddlers.


Next, we decided to do a baking soda and vinegar experiment. But, I didn’t get all fancy with it. Just bowls of each element for each kid. Obviously, any time they can make a mess and create a fizz, it’s a good time.


The boy even made it a real experiment by making it “rain” into his “science.”


She is skeptical as to whether or not this counts as “experimenting.”


Let’s see, also, we made Mardi Gras crowns (while listening to zydeco music, which Lil Miss loved).

The cuteness is too much!

Please ignore the janky dishwasher, being held together by packing tape. It does a fine job washing the dishes, but the metal piece that covers the front part got dented and now falls out anytime the door is opened. So, I took it off.

I promise everyone is wearing underwear, their t shirts are just too long to see them. Also, we don’t wear pants.


One day when it was just me and Lil G I actually did a full on “invitation” and everything for the baking soda and vinegar game.

He had more fun mixing the colors with the syringes. How sad is it that I had 5 extra medicine syringes, and only one kid…



You know how sensory bins are a huge thing now? Yeah, I didn’t either, but Pinterest informed me otherwise… I went shopping for my first sensory bin on Valentines Day, thinking I’d get cheap Valentine’s stuff. No. The Dollar Tree had that shit cleared out and the green was in full effect. So, we have a St. Patty’s tub. Because they are two and have no idea.

My mom’s friend said “So, a sensory tub is just a box full of random stuff?” Yes, sometimes it is…


Lil Miss played with it for an hour. She doesn’t do anything other than sleep for more than five minutes at a time.


The boy, on the other hand, lost interest after about 20 minutes.

The most recent activity was another bin. But, this time it smelled good and had dinosaurs buried in it. Lil G still lost interest after about 40 minutes. Ladybug would have played in it all day if we didn’t stop to Skype with Nana.


Even Big C liked this one. I wish Pinterest had been around when he was little.

A real smile on a nine year old boy?!


As you can see, this is not an activity for those who like clean…

So, that’s what we do during the day… I have tons more ideas to try based on stuff I found on actually creative mommy’s blogs! I even “lesson planned” next week. This whole “having fun with the kids” thing is getting out of hand 🙂


Lowered Messspectations October 30, 2012

Filed under: Baby G,Expanding Their Minds,Ladybug — arminta @ 1:42 pm

Recently the toddlers discovered the joys of finger paint. Of course, I know it was going to get messy. Here is the messpectation set by Crayola:

Unrealistically low, no? I knew it was going to be messier than that! But, we started off in pretty clean territory.
Then a certain little princess who shall remain nameless decided to take things up a notch…
Why, yes, she IS rubbing red pain into her hair like shampoo…
The boy? Not so much…
He thought he wanted to do a hand print, until the paint was on his hand, then he just wanted it off.
I talked him into doing a hand print anyway.

What was our little mess maker up to?

Her shoulders. She was up to her shoulders in paint.
Then she decided to make a hand print on the boy:
Game Over

And we had seconds to make it to the tub before reaching Defcon 4.