“Educational” Toys That FLIP Reluctant Mother OUT!

I’ve mentioned before we don’t go all hog-wild with Mac’s toy collection.  For one thing, he’s over the stuff before it practically leaves the packaging.  For another, we don’t have room in this house for too much ginormous plastic stuff.

We try to keep a well-edited selection favoring items with an educational or imaginative aspect to them – books, art supplies, blocks, instruments, and the like.

I realize when he gets a little older, we’ll probably have to switch up our tactics but so far, this has worked for us.

EXCEPT. . .

EXHIBIT A:  The Melissa and Doug shape sorter.  We’ve been using this little gem since Mac was old enough to grasp objects.  I’ve used it in a variety of ways to teach colors, to teach shapes, to teach counting. . .It’s never let me down.  Until now. . .

Now Mac is at a stage where he is able to understand the toy’s primary purpose – getting the blocks in their appropriately shaped holes.  He’s doing pretty well.  But some of them are a little tricky (vexing parallelogram!).

So when we are playing with the shape sorter, I go out of my way to explain the thought process behind getting the blocks in the correct hole.  “Look, this one has five sides.  It’s a PENTAGON!  Pentagons have five sides.  Let’s look for a hole that has five sides.  That’s where this block will fit.”

But then I’m faced with this shit:

Block Head Rectangles

Yes.  One of these is supposed to fit in the “square hole” and the other in the “rectangle.”

When viewed from one vantage point, the difference is subtle but discernible.  However, if viewed from other vantage points, both of these stupid blocks are indeed RECTANGLES.  Furthermore, they are the same damned color making it even more perplexing for little folks.

square block

For all the wood products Melissa and Doug offers, you mean to tell me a FUCKING cube is out of the question?  You couldn’t provide a block that was SQUARE ON ALL SIDES?!

Do you think my kid has the attention span necessary for me to explain this kind of crap?  Do you think I have the patience?

I’d leave the explanation up to his Father; however, that man has yet to successfully get the parallelogram block in the hole on the first try so clearly he has zero credibility.

EXHIBIT B:  Splashing Shapes Book

Stupid Book

This is just a simple little book Mac’s Mimi gave him the last time we visited.  How timely! We are currently LOVING us some shapes!  This book is called “Splashing Shapes” and touts itself as a “TEACHING TAB BOOK.”  Let’s have a look at the first page shall we?

Octopus

WHAT THE HELL?!

After I spent all that time with Mac using the shape sorter explaining “Octo” meant EIGHT, I asked him to count the tentacles on the octopus.  

How clever, Deni, another way to reinforce the concept of ‘octo’ plus he can practice counting and saying octopus!  SCORE.

“One, two, three. . .” He started in his sweet little voice.

“Yes, yes, that’s right,” I encouraged him.

“Four, five, six.”  Then he stopped.

Huh?

I started counting myself.  Sure enough this stupid octopus only has SIX tentacles!

WHAT?!  I furiously counted three more times.  I couldn’t locate any extra tentacles.  Son of a gun!

Why would these bastards make an octopus with only six tentacles and then suggest that children count them?  What a crock!

Don’t you dare give me some argument about aesthetics or artistic license.  You see the quality of the illustrations in this book.  They are cute.   They are not exactly fine art.

I stammer at Mac come convoluted explanation about how “octo” really means eight and octopus indeed have eight tentacles but when you draw things you can make them look however you like and that’s why drawing is fun. . .

And then he looked at me through squinty eyes. . .He clearly realized I was a woman on the edge of crazy. . .Then he forcefully turned the page.

I can’t imagine why he thinks I’m freaking crazy.

I’m A Worn Out Husk of a Reluctant Mother

I logged another night on Mac’s bedroom floor.  And while, it’s not exactly uncomfortable to  sit at the computer while I’m hunched over like Quasimodo, mentally, I’m just not functioning at even half capacity right now. . .I’ve tried three different drafts this morning – funny ideas – but I just can’t get it OUT right now.  So I’ll be back (hopefully later today) but until then, here’s some stuff you might like:

1.  Check out One Classy Motha’s Vacation Recap here.

2.  You MUST read Trashy Blog!  Read ANY post.  You’ll be snarfing your beverage everywhere!  My most recent fave is “Sweating It.”

3.  If you haven’t seen Vikki Claflin’s blog Laugh Lines yet, you are in for a huge treat.  She’s hilarious!  My favorite post: Good Morning, Mom.  Now For the Love of God, Put Some Clothes On.

4.  For you bird nerds, Rick has a funny story about “Closet Twitching” on his blog, RichardMax22.

5.  Looking for something thought-provoking?  See School of Smock’s post on why she hopes her son is sometimes bored.

6.  EASTER is fast approaching.  If you’re having trouble explaining the meaning of Easter to your little ones Danielle has you covered:  The Story of Easter.  It won’t disappoint.  Trust me!

7.  And of course, Jewish folks are observing Passover right now.  Jap Rap has that one covered. (I’m dying).

Other stuff you might have missed?

SCARY MOMMY featured (an edited version) of my post Reluctant Mother’s Performance review last week!  EEEEEEKKKKKK!!!  Very exciting!  If you’ve found your way here via Scary Mommy, thank you.  And I promise, I write new content almost every day.  Things have just been a little “off” the past few days.  Please come back!  🙂

WTF IS THIS?

Blue Jay somehow got stuck in a bird feeder.  WTF?  This photo was sourced from MD Birding Google Group.  If you know original source, let me know and I'll credit.

Blue Jay somehow got stuck in a bird feeder. WTF?
This photo was sourced from MD Birding Google Group. If you know original source, let me know and I’ll credit.

I’ll leave you with this:

I HELPZ YOUZ FEEL BETTER!

I HELPZ YOUZ FEEL BETTER!  STROKE MY VELVETY EARZ!

See you soon!  XOXO

Toddler Demands: What Gives?

Yesterday, like nearly every other morning, I brought Mac downstairs after he awoke.  Here’s what happened in the next 1 minute and 45 seconds:

The minute his little feet hit the floor, he raced to his Legos.  “Lego, Ego, Ego” he demanded forcefully while pulling the bin from the shelf.

I sat down on the floor and opened the tub of Legos for him.

“Fresh!” he said.

“Ok.  Let’s get that wet diaper off of you,” I say motioning towards him tugging on his pants.

“No!  Pants!  Pants!” he whined.

“Sure.  You can just wear your pants for a little while without the diaper.”

I pull up his pants and he shoves three Legos at me, “HELP!”

“Do you want the blue on top of the green?” I ask.

“CRACK!  CRACK!” he orders.

I put the Legos down and drag myself off the floor and head to the kitchen for crackers.

He follows hot on my heels “Help!  Help!” he exclaims, jamming the Legos into my thigh as I’m putting a couple of crackers in a bowl.

“Ok.  Mommy can help,” I sigh, sidestepping him, putting the bowl of crackers on his little table and clicking the Legos together quickly.

“GURT!! GRUT! GRRRRRRUUUUUUTTTTT!”  He wails while pulling on the freezer drawer (because for some sick and inexplicable reason he will only eat yogurt while standing in front of the open freezer).

I feel my eye start to twitch.

When I was working outside of the home, I used to dread getting to work early.  I’m not a morning person and EVERY TIME I’d walk in the front door early, there were two obnoxious Financial Advisors lying in wait.  They wouldn’t even say “Good Morning” before they started ranting and raving and whining about whatever their seemingly urgent issue was that day.  It was positively infuriating.

And NOW?  Now, my nearly two-year old is making them look like complete amateurs.

Is this normal?  Where did he learn to fire of 25 demands in 20 seconds?  I do not speak this way to other people.  (Well, not out loud at least).  Where did he learn this?!

I did a little reading.  Apparently, this sort of behavior is completely normal.  This is what kids his age do.

Oh well, at least he’s on track developmentally. . .Would someone please pass the prescription drugs and booze to Mommy?  NOW!!!!!

The Thorny Devil

Yesterday, I wasn’t feeling great.  In fact, I hadn’t been feeling great since Monday.  I had been managing to plow through, but yesterday, I asked my Husband to get home from work early since I just needed to SLEEP.  A lot.  And sleeping is rather difficult with a toddler.  

My Husband did come home.  He took excellent care of Mac.  He took care of dishes and toys and even went to the grocery.  

But when Moms “take a day off” – even with stellar help – stuff starts piling up.  And pile up it has:  laundry, cleaning, some of the groceries are still all over the kitchen counter. . .

I’m playing catch up this morning, at least.  But I didn’t want to leave you hanging so here’s something that makes me giggle that will hopefully make you smile too:

Mac gets Ranger Rick Jr. magazine.  It’s clearly not marketed to his 22-month old demographic, but my nephew was selling magazines and I felt like I had to purchase something.  So I Ranger Rick Jr. it was.

The magazine is full of vivid photos of interesting animals.  Often the photos include a brief blurb about what makes the animal unique.  Mac really loves looking at this pictures and we work on learning their names.  A few days after the magazine arrives, he’s typically able to accurately identify the animals.

(Which leads me to a suggestion for Ranger Rick:  KNOCK IT OFF WITH THE ZEBRAS ALREADY!  There are zebras in EVERY issue.  We get it, kids must like zebras. . .but I’m way over them.  How ’bout a manatee or a Capybara next month?  Switch it up a little?)

Anyway, this month’s magazine arrived about a week ago and contained a feature on “Weird Skin.”  It’s like the dermatological nightmare of the animal world.  There in graphic glory are caribou shedding disgusting antler “skin,” and magnificent frigatebirds with their lusty red throat pouches all puffed off (although the caption indicates they are just “showing off”).  There’s an admittedly adorable armadillo.  And a couple of freakish frogs. . .

And THIS:

AHHHHHH!!!!!

AHHHHHH!!!!!

This is apparently a THORNY DEVIL.

Except my son doesn’t really have the hang of properly enunciating the “T” sound yet. . .

So thanks to Ranger Rick, he’s running around screaming “HORNY DEVIL.”

I try so hard. . .why do I try so hard?!  

Reluctant Mother Is Tempted To Sleep With Another “Man”

Those eyes!  That hair!

My heart beats a little faster when I think about him.

He’s cute!

Charming.

Smart too.

Should I?

Should I give into my temptation and just do it?

It’s sooooooo tempting.

No one has to know.  

Maybe just once?

One time?

I could cuddle him so hard!

NO!  NO!  NO!!

What am I thinking?

STOP IT!

It could ruin your marriage.

Banish the thought!

DO NOT LET THE TODDLER GET IN BED WITH YOU!!!!

It’s so very tempting!

He’s adorable and snuggly.  He nestles himself into my arm and presses his chubby face into my shoulder and says “I love you” and then lifts his (momentarily) angelic face and puckers his lips anticipating a sweet little kiss.

For the past two nights, when I’ve put him in his crib he begins wailing, desperately clinging to me between the crib rails.  “No, no, no,” he protests mournfully.

My heart breaks and I wonder if perhaps he couldn’t just climb in bed with us for the night?  It would stop this terrible mommy guilt I’m feeling.  It would also allow me to get in bed (already!)

But I can’t.  I just cannot give in.

He’s not going to sleep when he gets in the bed.  He’s going to demand to see the blinking baby monitor, the phone, the TV ‘mote.  He’s going to bounce around and laugh and play and yank on the huge framed art hung above the bed.

When he does finally pass out from exhaustion, he’s going to squirm, and shift, and wiggle, wedging his little monkey toes under my ribs. . .Poke.  Poke.  Poke.  I’ll awake with a disgusting drool-covered Wubby over my eyes, head pounding, feeling nothing but regret for my poor decision.

Worst of all?  He’s going to expect it.  He’s going to want to sleep with us EVERY. NIGHT.  That prospect doesn’t bode well for my marriage.  I’ve noticed my Husband doesn’t function well when sleep (or sex) deprived.

I try explaining this to Mac as I pace with him in his Sleepy Wrap. . .and just before he drifts off to sleep, I hear him say in his sweet, sleepy little voice “Okay.”

And then I really want to cuddle him SO HARD!

Ahh. . .these were the days. . .

Aww. . .these were the days. . .

Can You Afford to Be a Stay At Home Mom or Dad?

Let’s say you are seriously considering becoming a Stay at Home Mom (or Dad) after the birth of your first child.  Certainly, doing what’s best for your child is your top priority.  However, like nearly every other parent faced with this decision, your mind quickly shifts to finances.

Can we afford it?

It’s a question you will fearfully ponder for months.  Perhaps you’ll make spreadsheets.  Perhaps you and your partner will decide what little luxuries or conveniences you are willing to sacrifice in order for one of you to stay home.

Maybe the numbers are so, so close but you aren’t quite there yet. . .Maybe you’re not even sure where to begin?

Good news, I’m here to help!

Here are a few of the MONEY SAVING STRATEGIES I’ve learned since becoming a SAHM:

1.  TOILETRIES:  You can save a mint on these pricey items!  Once you become a parent,  you will seldom have a free minute to shower and brush your teeth, let alone use deodorant, a razor, deep conditioning treatments, or even beauty balm.  You can count on using only about 1/8 of any personal hygiene products you used as a well-groomed, fully functional member of society once baby arrives – maybe even less if you have multiples.

EXCEPT toilet paper.  You’re going to be trapped at home all day swilling coffee and booze.  Expect the toilet paper budget to increase.  Of course, it won’t increase much as most times you’ll barely have time to take care of business let alone fully address the “follow up.”

2.  CLOTHING:  You can claim this will “never happen to me” but trust me, it will.  THE NEXT TIME YOU ACTUALLY NEED WELL-MADE, WELL-TAILORED CLOTHING WILL BE THE KID’S COLLEGE GRADUATION OR YOUR OWN FUNERAL  – whichever occurs first.

Until said time, you will rotate the same four pairs of yoga/sweat pants and six tee-shirts for EVERYTHING, EVERYDAY.  You will exercise in them.  You will spend the day in them.  At night you will put on a fresh set and sleep in them.

You will no longer have any need for dry-cleaners, tailors, or even accessories. (Um can someone please remind me where I put my wedding band three weeks ago?)

Sure, one day you new mommies might slip into a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans and a nice silk blouse in an attempt to pull yourself out of the emotionally draining, life-sucking vortex that is motherhood.  The kid WILL puke and you will NEVER make that mistake again.

Trust me, SAHM or SAHD, your clothing budget is going to be just a fraction of what it was.

Your Pre-Parenting Wardrobe. . .

Your Pre-Parenting Wardrobe. . .

Clothes You Actually Wear. . .

Clothes You Actually Wear. . .

3.  HOUSEHOLD MAINTENANCE AND DECOR:  Oh I know some of you blissfully pregnant couples are still operating under the false premise that your sofa will remain pristine; that you can child-proof around your favorite toss pillows, stereo components,  and knickknacks.

Listen to me: YOU ARE SCREWED!!

Your house WILL be TRASHED.  It doesn’t matter if you have one baby or triplets; if you have a boy or a girl.  Your house will look like shit by the time your little bundle of joy celebrates their first birthday:  baby gates, toys, yogurt splatters, vomit, poop on the baseboard moulding, fingerprints EVERYWHERE!

It’s amazing how quickly it comes to this.  It’s even more astounding to acknowledge you no longer give a flying flip about any of it.

You will no longer have the time or energy to trawl your favorite stores for charming household decor or fabulous surround sound system upgrades.   Resign yourself to the fact that you will likely just wait for the kid to turn 18, burn whatever is left, and start over.

*Bonus Tip:  You might want to start a separate savings account for this specific purpose.

We've trashed our 113-year old hardwood floors!

We’ve trashed our 113-year old hardwood floors. . .Sigh.

4.  SOCIAL – Pre-baby, did you have routine happy hours with friends or colleagues from work?  Did you have brunch and get a mani with a girlfriend every Sunday morning?  Did you play golf twice a week?  Did you enjoy movies or concerts with your partner?  Fancy dinners at the “hottest” restaurants?

DONE.  YOU’RE SO DONE!

Slash that healthy, happy, relaxing “me-time” shit from your budget.  It ain’t happenin.’

5.  ENTERTAINMENT & HOBBIES – Do you enjoy TV, using the phone, reading books or magazines?  Maybe you love watching movies in bed?  Embroidery?  Stamp Collecting?  Painting?  Baking?  Falconry?  (really, falconry?!  How are you still reading this post?)

Ummm. . .I’m sorry to break it to you but. . .

You might as well, just cut the budget for your personal entertainment and hobbies to damned near ZERO!

You’re not going to have ANY time to use the phone, watch TV, read magazines or books.  DO NOT KID YOURSELF.  Kiss your leisure time long and hard.  You won’t meet again until you are quite possibly too old to enjoy it.

Cancel your landline.  Cancel the premium cable package.  Cut your magazine subscriptions by three-quarters.

* Bonus Tip:  While you’re at it, convince yourself that your new exciting and rewarding hobbies include folding laundry, assembling bottles and sippy cups fresh from the dishwasher, and scraping dried banana off the floor with your unmanicured fingernails.

6. PERSONAL – Sex, sex, (NO MORE SEX IS LESS SEXPENSIVE!)  If prior to conceiving you were using birth control, don’t worry about spending money on it after the baby arrives.  THE BABY IS THE BIRTH CONTROL!  The crying, the feeding, the sleepless nights.  Heaven really help you if you choose to co-sleep!

Once the baby is older?  Their behavior should also serve as sufficient birth control.  No one feels amorous after the kid flushes 67 Legos down the toilet or demands 6 drinks of water during a 1 hour nap.

* Bonus Tip:  Be sure to also remove from your non-fixed expenditures anything related to intimacy. . .lingerie, flowers, chocolates, champagne, oysters. . .or um. . .whatever else floats your boat.

7.  FOOD & DINING –  Forget it.  For months you don’t want to take the newborn into a crummy restaurant where s/he could come in contact with the filthy public.  Shortly thereafter, you don’t want to subject the filthy public or crummy restaurant staff to your raging toddler.

But what about cooking fresh organic meals at home?  We want to serve our baby only the best quality food and that can be expensive, says you.

Trust me, after your kid goes on hunger strike and refuses to eat anything that IS NOT orange or heavily salted for 3 weeks straight, you won’t give a damn.  You’ll feed your kid ANYTHING.  ANYTHING s/he will swallow. . .Even if it’s canned soup and generic potato chips. . .

8.  TRAVEL –  BAH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!  It’s hard enough to get across town.  I DARE you to book a week-long vacation.  Good luck, sucka!  I hear Disney has great deals.  BLERGH.  Traveling with children sucks.  It’s a waste of money.  Trust me, stay home and be miserable.  It’s way more cost-effective.

9.  KID – If you’ve followed me this far, I can tell you’re committed.  So listen carefully:  KIDS DO NOT NEED A BUNCH OF STUPID TOYS!!  If you’re worried you cannot adequately provide stimulation and amusement for your child on your budget, rest assured you can.

Still not convinced?  Give a toddler a brand new toy in a box.  See what gets more action:  The Toy or The Box.

Cut out the middle man and toss the kid a new box every couple of days.  It’s environmentally friendly too.

When the box trick gets old, start making up games:  match the socks, pick up crumbs off the floor (count them), scrub the toilet while wearing something stupid on your head.

Kid’s are easily influenced by your enthusiasm and delusion.  Trust me.  I have experience.

All this fun stuff and he'd still rather beat together two muffin tins!

All this fun stuff and he’d still rather beat together two muffin tins!

10.  EXTRAS – Are you worried about “extras”?  Will you have the budget to get friends and family gifts and cards for special occasions?  Chances are you won’t always.  Equally certain?  You won’t remember the special occasions anyway due to the mental eraser that is parenting.

Who has time to worry about swapping $5.25 cards and $20 gift cards anyway?  Enact a “no gift policy” immediately.  (You’ll be happier, and so will everyone else.  Trust me.)

What about all the extras for the child?  You wonder.  What about birthday parties and extra curricular activities, etc.?    True.  These sorts of items can add up.  They not only cost money, they also cost parents a lot of time.

That is why your supreme parenting goal should be to raise a DORK.  Yes.  A dork.  A kid that far enjoys hanging out in his or her room alone reading.  Books are free to borrow from the library.  You avoid stupid soccer practices and birthday parties and the associated costs.  Plus, everyone knows dorks grow up to be the most successful folks on the planet.

Adorable Dork in Training.

Adorable Dork in Training.

There you have it. . .10 extremely useful cost cutting strategies for a Stay at Home Parent’s budget.  I hope you found it helpful!  Now, go edit your spreadsheets!  Maybe you’ll even find a few extra pennies for some cheap booze or a lottery ticket!