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Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
When I was little, I desperately wanted to see Santa Claus with my own eyes. Every Christmas without fail, I’d wake up in the middle of the night and run downstairs to catch him in the act. (Naturally, I had always just missed him!)
Kids looking to stalk jolly old St. Nick this holiday will have it a little easier than I did, thanks to Google’s Santa Tracker. This year, the site features an interactive village full of games, videos, and educational trivia. Each day in December, more games and challenges are unlocked, making the site like a digital advent calendar. Your child can learn to say “Santa” in different languages, explore holiday traditions around the world, and more. Of course, when the big day arrives, the family can keep tabs on Santa’s location too.
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Monday, August 18th, 2014
From left, guest Castiglia with the Pump and Dump moms
Social media has made humor a constant undercurrent in the average mom’s day, but it can be beyond therapeutic to get together with real friends “IRL” as my kids would say and watch something funny happen right before your eyes. That’s the beauty of The Pump and Dump show, which a few of us from Parents caught in New York City not long ago. There is something about seeing other moms (and a few brave dads) laughing uncontrollably at the same crazy stuff that you’ve noticed happening in your own life that is very freeing–and more powerful than getting your laughs watching YouTube.
The PND team, Shayna Ferm, a comedian and mother of two, and MC Doula (aka Tracey Tee), mother of one, host an evening packed with inappropriate lyrics set to live music, games (such as a motherhood-themed version of “Never Have I Ever”) and other audience interaction, and often a local guest comic who is also a mom. In New York it was the hilarious Carolyn Castiglia, whose riff on dating as a single mom was upstaged only by her own freestyle rap to audience members’ anonymously contributed confessions of “The Most F—-d Up Thing My Kid Did This Week.” (See a sample of mom confessions here.)
Ferm and her “coach” MC Doula are on tour now, leaving their kids at home in Denver, so join their audience of “breeders” (their words) if you can. Songs include “Eat Your F—ing Food,” and “When I Die, I Want to Come Back as a Dad.” Yes, the F word features prominently here. I was counting the number of times it was used but was laughing so hard I lost track. Underlying the irreverent lyrics is a message of acceptance for all our many mommy shortcomings and an embrace of all kinds of mom. “We have placenta-eating moms and moms who’ve never even tried a cloth diaper. We just all have to remember that we are doing the best that we can,” Ferm said at one point. Or, to quote her lyrics: “You’re an awesome mom and you’re not alone. You’re doing fine. Just pour yourself a whiskey during bath time.”
Can’t get to Chicago, Mill Valley, or Denver, where the show is playing this fall? Download the tunes, gather a few friends, decide on a signature cocktail and have a listening party. Keep the tissues handy—you’ll laugh until you cry.
Here’s a video from another fun mom, Honest Toddler’s Bunmi Laditan:
What’s your parenting style? Take our quiz to find out!
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Monday, April 14th, 2014
In March, blogger Joe DeProspero shared his thoughts on things kids can get away with that adults never could, like refusing to change out of their PJs, for example. The story made me realize that I’m actually jealous that I can’t just go to work in my jammies when I feel like it (or refuse to go, period). In fact, I often find myself looking at pictures of my adorable three-year-old niece, Averie, on Facebook with envy. She’s got the entire world eating out of the palm of her hand and she doesn’t even know it.
1. She doesn’t know what her Christmas presents are.
As a three-years-old, opening presents is so exciting! Christmas comes and you can’t wait to see what Santa brings you. And the best part, Christmas morning is always a surprise. The toys she wants may be under the tree, but a three-year-old doesn’t expect them to be there. As I’ve gotten older, everybody texts me at the beginning of December, “Hey. What do you want?” Where’s the fun in that? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly appreciative that anybody would buy me a present. I just wish there wasn’t so much pressure for me to pick out my own gifts.
2. She doesn’t have to pay for anything.
Ah, to not have any financial responsibility. That’s the dream! Averie knows what money is, and she knows mom and dad are in charge of it, but that’s where her money issues end. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had somebody else pay our bills, even just for a day?
3. Everything is still magical to her.
Seeing a magic trick or special effects in a movie are not the same when you are old enough to understand that there is a logical explanation as to what just happened, even if you don’t know exactly how it was done. A three-year-old doesn’t think like that yet. To her, there is still magic in this universe and that’s a feeling my grumpy-old self wishes I still felt. When I was a tyke, I wanted to be Doctor Dolittle. I just knew I could understand animals. Well, that didn’t work out for me. For Averie, though, there are no limits to her dreams. Little ones still believe they can fly, run as fast as lightning, or, like me, talk to animals. It’s a sad day when you realize that’s not the case.
4. She can be whatever she wants.
Right now, Averie can aspire to any career. She can be an astronaut, teacher, president, or an actress. She can do it all at the same time if she feels like it. As she gets older, her dreams and goals will start to change and slowly become more “realistic” on their own. We adults suffer from this condition known as logic. I’ve heard there is no cure.
5. Her mom is always there to take care of her when she’s sick.
I’m a 27-year-old adult living on my own in New York City, but when I’m really sick, I still want my mom to take care of me. There is something so comforting in knowing she will go with me to the doctor’s office and buy me some chicken soup. I don’t need her around all the time, but when I’m vulnerable, it would be nice to have her nearby.
6. It’s OK for her to color outside the lines.
How old were you the first time somebody made fun of you for not staying inside the lines of your coloring book? As we get older, our culture leads us to conform and think inside the box or color inside the lines. What’s wrong with being on the “outside” of things?
7. She sees the world with rose-colored glasses.
Recently, Averie’s momma and one of her Facebook friends had a discussion on how to teach “stranger danger” to their kids. Now as an adult, I’ve seen enough crime stories on the news and violence in movies to know the world isn’t as safe as Averie thinks it is.
8. She gets to start school from the beginning.
If only I had realized how amazing school was when I was in it and how much I would miss it now. Especially the high school and college years. I miss going to class every day to learn, work on projects and mingle with friends. Plus, she’ll get to go through the process of picking a college and (potentially) living on her own for the first time in her life.
9. I don’t look nearly as good in a princess costume as she does.
I love princesses, just like Averie does. But would everybody think I was adorable if I walked through Disney World wearing a Tinker Bell costume? The answer is no. On a similar note, why are little girl clothes so much cuter than adult women’s? Averie’s clothes have playful colors in bright hues and patterns. Why don’t we get anything that adorable?
10. She can sing as loud as she wants without judgment.
I love to sing. It’s one of my favorite activities, but as I’ve gotten older, less and less people are willing to tolerate my constant Fa-La-La-ing. And like most kids, I’m totally obsessed with “Let It Go.” Unfortunately, my roommates are not.
Tell us: Have you ever been jealous of a child? What did they do (or get away with) that made you long for the days when you had no responsibility?
What career will your child have? Take our quiz to find out!
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Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
By Warren Hynes
Warren Hynes is a teacher and freelance writer. This post originally appeared on his blog, The Pitch: Baseball & Life.
For the past 12 years, I’ve found it fascinating to be a father to daughters. My two girls have brought me on an eye-opening cultural journey that has covered Elmo and Dora, Disney princess dresses, American Girl dolls, pretend-school lessons, pet guinea pigs, and performances of Wicked both on Broadway and in our living room. Lately, their activity has focused on some songs from the soundtrack to Disney’s latest animated feature, Frozen – the album that stands behind only Bruce Springsteen’s new record among the best-selling LPs in the nation. The songs, which sound more Broadway-ready than the typical multiplex fare, are bolstered by the voice of Idina Menzel, the actress who originated the role of Elphaba in Wicked and Maureen in Rent.
In our home, the girls have been blasting the Frozen songs from our little Bose speakers and lip-synching their way through the whole show. In the car, even with no music on, they’ll practice certain lines together. They’ve seen the movie twice, and are clamoring for thirds. When our youngest turned nine three weeks ago, she asked for a cake in the shape of the film’s snowman character.
Now I’m no cheerleader of Disney’s traditional portrayal of young female characters. The funny thing about this movie, though, is that even though all of the typical princess set pieces are there – the castle, the gowns, the big eyelashes, the handsome love interest – this film is ultimately about none of those things. It’s about two sisters, and their overriding love for each other. It’s about how far you’ll go to protect and save the best friend you have in the world. In our house, that’s a story worth some attention.
As my girls sing along to the film’s song “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” we hear the story of a younger sister who is being pushed away by her older sister, and can’t understand the reason for it: “We used to be best buddies / And now we’re not / I wish you would tell me why.” The younger sister asks once more for some play time, but after being told to go away, she hangs her head and sings, “Okay, bye.” As I hear my girls singing this together, I recognize that we’re getting close to the time when this exact scenario will play out in our home. Katie is 12, and she’s spending more and more time in her room trying on makeup, watching YouTube videos and, yes, texting. At nine, Chelsea is more interested in playing with her older sister than in spending time alone in her room. More often than not, Katie still plays with Chelsea. But those moments of rejection are nearing, like the gathering of dusk before night falls.
When it comes to music, I find it incredibly annoying to hear the same song over and over. But as my girls sing the Frozen tunes together countless times – and, to be honest, they’ve got a third singer in their group in the form of my wife – I can’t help but feel some relief amid the repetition. Because it seems that Katie and Chelsea have found something that transcends age differences and hormonal swings. They share a love for music and performance, and that love may connect them when other things do not. My brother and I are three years apart, just like my girls are. As kids, we had our stretch of time when I needed my space from him. But we always had our sports, be it a Yankees game on the TV or a 1-on-1 basketball game in the backyard. Even when we shared few words, there was still plenty of communication in the form of a last-second jumper on the patio, or a Dave Winfield home run on the basement TV.
My brother turns 40 in two weeks; I just turned 43. We talk about a lot of things now, as adult siblings do. But we still have a soft spot for the sports stuff. Years from now, I can see Katie and Chelsea spending an afternoon together, perhaps at one of their apartments, or maybe out shopping. There comes a point when they turn on some music. For fun, they click on the Frozen album. They smile, and start singing. Together.
We only have each other / It’s just you and me / What are we gonna do? / Do you wanna build a snowman?
Image courtesy of Disney.
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