Creating A Visual Snack Menu

Creating A Visual Snack Menu

I want my son to be fully prepared for school every morning.

My three year old boy recently started public preschool. He goes there every morning from 7:30-11:00am and they have a snack time in the middle. I’ve been so anxious about sending my son off to school. I’m excited, yes, but also a bit nervous too.

You might think that creating a visual menu for packing snack is overkill but if it makes getting ready for school easier, I’m all in.

Continue reading “Creating A Visual Snack Menu”

The Night Before the Very First Day of School

After you fell asleep tonight, I peaked into your room. You lay with your arms spread wide across your bed, your body impossibly long and lean. Watching you lie there in the semi-darkness, all I could think is that you look like such a little kid.

You’re no longer a toddler and definitely not my baby anymore.

Continue reading “The Night Before the Very First Day of School”

A Survival Guide for Introverts Parenting Small Children

Recently I saw a thread on social media in which other introvert-parents were lamenting how they never get to be alone anymore. One of the people on the thread hadn’t been home alone for over a year. She said that since her baby was born, her only time to herself was during her commute to work. Ouch.

I just want to tell this woman and anyone else that never gets time to yourself: I’ve been there and it wasn’t healthy for me.

Continue reading “A Survival Guide for Introverts Parenting Small Children”

The Little Voice Inside My Son’s Head

Around the time my son, Wolfy turned three years old, he started saying something strange. “I’m not very good at that.” It’s not a very unusual thing to hear from an older kid, but coming from Wolfy, I was surprised.

The Little Voice

Where did he internalize the concept that he wasn’t good at something?

I am careful to never qualify his experiences or abilities for him. And I’ve even started to watch if I say things like that about myself and I don’t. So I don’t think he is getting this phrase from me. Continue reading “The Little Voice Inside My Son’s Head”

20 Questions 


Do you ever wonder what your child really thinks about you?  In graduate school, I had a class with a woman who had done a survey like this with her kids. In response to the question, “What does Mommy like to do best?” her son drew a picture of her washing the dishes. It ended up being the inspiration for her to go back to school and get her teaching certification!

Simple right? Now it’s your turn. Without any prompting, ask your child these 20 questions. Write down exactly what they say. If you feel like it, post your answers in the comments. Continue reading “20 Questions “

A Letter to My Purple-Loving Boy

IMG_2423

My Dear Little Boy,

As you go out into the world, I have one wish for you: I hope that you always love the color purple.  When people ask you which color you like best, I want you to always shout, “Purple is my favorite!” as loudly and proudly as you do now.  Because as you grow bigger and venture beyond our family to preschool and sports teams, some misguided folks might try to convince you that the things you love are actually off-limits to you. Continue reading “A Letter to My Purple-Loving Boy”

Saying It Out Loud (Guest Post)

saying it out loud

The first time I said “my child is autistic” I remember feeling as if I was in a movie where I could literally see the words floating in the air once they escaped my mouth…

And, God help me, I wanted to snatch them back. Continue reading “Saying It Out Loud (Guest Post)”

Super Sibling!

super siblingLast Saturday was cold, the kind of cold where you’re not sure if the car will start and you don’t want to leave the house. I certainly didn’t want to go anywhere because I was just getting over a terrible respiratory infection, complete with a wet, hacking cough that would put most cowboys to shame. But there we were at 8am- my husband, three-year-old son, and I trudging to the car and gearing up for the hour-long drive to Burlington so that Wolfy could attend a sibling preparation workshop. On the way up, we stopped so that I could use the bathroom. Yes, I had just peed when I left the house, but believe me, you do not want to negotiate with the bladder of a woman who is 37 weeks pregnant. Also, the car needed gas.

Our battered 2002 Subaru wagon is usually a trustworthy car.

It was a gift from my husband’s grandmother when she could no longer drive and it is the perfect beast for our life on the back roads of Vermont. But sometimes when it’s super cold outside, the automatic gas shut-off malfunctions and this causes gas to spew everywhere. This was one of those awesome occasions.

There we were- a half hour from home and my husband covered in gas and now we’re running late. But nothing was going to stop us from this very important endeavor of getting Wolfy to his sibling workshop, so we loaded back into the car and back onto the highway.

Five minutes later, my husband declares he needs to stop and wash his hands. He thinks all the gasoline smell is coming from his right index finger. So eventually we find a rest area and he charges inside holding his stinky finger out in the cold air in front of him.

Finally, we got to the hospital (where the class is happening), found a parking spot, and ushered Wolfy inside.

“This is the biggest elementary school ever!” Wolfy loudly declared. Oh right, you’re going to a class so you think this must be a school. Well, it’s not quite an elementary school, but we will still be sanitizing your hands every three seconds because like a school, this place is a germ factory and I’m not up for giving birth while having the flu.

We meet our class and our instructors. Of course, we are one of the last families to arrive. But what’s really annoying is that the instructors insist on referring to everyone as friends.

“Here are some new friends, just arrived! We only have a few more friends we’re waiting for!”

I try to suppress one of my hacking coughs so my new “friends” don’t think I’m getting everyone sick. And please, stop forcing the intimacy. I don’t know these families. I don’t want to know these families. They don’t want to know Mrs. Hacks and Mr. Gasoline either. We are certainly not my friends.

The only thing we have in common is that we want to do some kind of ridiculous so-called enriching thing for our young kids on a Saturday morning.

Oh yeah, and there’s one other thing we have in common: we’re terrified of bringing a new baby around these three-foot-tall monsters.

I look over at the instructors. Do they look capable of instilling a little last-minute sibling training into Wolfy’s brain? These poor little children. This is probably the last nice thing they will get to do with both their parent’s attention focused solely on them for a very long time.

Enjoy your sibling class, kid. Did you just notice how your father and I both raced over at the same time to help you take off your coat? That’s probably one of the last times that will ever happen. I hope you enjoyed it. You really don’t know how good you’ve had it these past few years.

The last straggling “friends” show up and all the families are herded on an incredibly long journey through the bowels of the hospital.

Wolfy races off ahead of everyone at top speed and the instructors start looking around with astonished, accusatory looks on their faces that say, “Whose child is that?” Oh, that little boy? He belongs to me. Well, actually me, the coughing waddling woman and this guy who is walking around in over-sized hip hop style clothes that are covered in gasoline.

The journey includes an awkward crowded trip in the elevator, which is mostly silent until one of the dads pipes up with, “When the doors open, you’ll be mimicking the birthing experience.” Wow, funny guy! You are so fucking funny. Oh my god, how did I survive without knowing you before? Thank you for that joke… now please refrain from ever opening your mouth again.

The class gets underway with the little kids having to perform such tasks as peeling the back off of their name tag sticker and getting measured to see how much they grew since they were born.

Wolfy is constantly standing up and getting right in the face of the instructors as they are talking. My husband and I shrink a little bit in our folding chairs. Wow, three years of constant adult attention has resulted in a kid who thinks someone should be paying attention to him all the time. Who would have thought?

Then my next thought: oh well, they’ll straighten Wolfy out next year when he goes into public school. Sharing one incredibly stressed out adult with fifteen other three -year-olds will certainly take him down a notch of two.

While all of this important learning is happening, I realize I’m lightheaded from the intense gasoline fumes radiating from my husband.

I lean over to him and whisper, “You reek. I don’t think this is good for all these pregnant women.”

“I know!” he whispers back and shrugs his shoulders. Then he tells me that he’s going to go try to wash his winter boots off in the bathroom sink because he thinks maybe he got some gas on them. All I can do start praying that no one walks into the bathroom and calls security on him.

Meanwhile, the instructor shows the children how to hold a baby. Soon, all of these toddlers will be responsible for “helping your grown-ups care for” real living, breathing tiny humans – but for now, they can practice on their stuffed animals and dolls.

Wolfy came prepared with his boy-doll, which my mother gave him last winter.

He named the doll, Vuffa. And Vuffa has a penis.

It’s actually a little nub that my mother sewed onto the doll with the idea that Wolfy would identify more with a doll if it looked like him. Except, my mother kind of put a little too much stuffing into Vuffa’s penis nub and it looks like he has a teeny-tiny half-erection.

Of course, Wolfy immediately takes off all of Vuffa’s clothes. So now I’m sitting powerless in the folding chair and there is Vuffa sprawled out on the floor in the middle of the circle with his penis exposed.

The instructor shows all the children how to hold “your baby” but Wolfy is just pinching Vuffa’s eyes together over and over again. Yes, he is totally ready for this sibling thing.

Please, pretty please, don’t call Child Protective Services on us.

Finally, my husband returns from the bathroom with a giant coffee for us to share and somehow the rest of the class pretty much went off without a hitch.

My personal favorite part of the whole experience was when the instructors taught all the kids the Super Sibling Handshake. Yes, this is real. It involves putting your hands over your heart and then extending them outward from your body in two thumbs up and saying, “Super Sibling!!!” Apparently having a secret or not-so-secret handshake is a very important part of being a big brother or sister.

A few hours later I asked Wolfy, “What do you think the word ‘sibling’ means?” Without hesitation he said, “It means thumbs up!” and showed me the handshake.

Oh yeah, we’re ready for this whole sibling thing. I see nothing to worry about here…

Super Sibling! Our Experience with a Sibling Preparation Workshop

super siblingLast Saturday was cold, the kind of cold where you’re not sure if the car will start and you don’t want to leave the house. I certainly didn’t want to go anywhere because I was just getting over a terrible respiratory infection, complete with a wet, hacking cough that would put most cowboys to shame. But there we were at 8am- my husband, three-year-old son, and I trudging to the car and gearing up for the hour-long drive to Burlington so that Wolfy could attend a sibling preparation workshop. On the way up, we stopped so that I could use the bathroom. Yes, I had just peed when I left the house, but believe me, you do not want to negotiate with the bladder of a woman who is 37 weeks pregnant. Also, the car needed gas.

Our battered 2002 Subaru wagon is usually a trustworthy car.

It was a gift from my husband’s grandmother when she could no longer drive and it is the perfect beast for our life on the back roads of Vermont. But sometimes when it’s super cold outside, the automatic gas shut-off malfunctions and this causes gas to spew everywhere. This was one of those awesome occasions.

There we were- a half hour from home and my husband covered in gas and now we’re running late. But nothing was going to stop us from this very important endeavor of getting Wolfy to his sibling workshop, so we loaded back into the car and back onto the highway.

Five minutes later, my husband declares he needs to stop and wash his hands. He thinks all the gasoline smell is coming from his right index finger. So eventually we find a rest area and he charges inside holding his stinky finger out in the cold air in front of him.

Finally, we got to the hospital (where the sibling preparation workshop is happening), found a parking spot, and ushered Wolfy inside.

“This is the biggest elementary school ever!” Wolfy loudly declared. Oh right, you’re going to a class so you think this must be a school. Well, it’s not quite an elementary school, but we will still be sanitizing your hands every three seconds because like a school, this place is a germ factory and I’m not up for giving birth while having the flu.

We meet our class and our instructors. Of course, we are one of the last families to arrive. But what’s really annoying is that the instructors insist on referring to everyone as friends.

“Here are some new friends, just arrived! We only have a few more friends we’re waiting for!”

I try to suppress one of my hacking coughs so my new “friends” don’t think I’m getting everyone sick. And please, stop forcing the intimacy. I don’t know these families. I don’t want to know these families. They don’t want to know Mrs. Hacks and Mr. Gasoline either. We are certainly not my friends.

The only thing we have in common is that we want to do some kind of ridiculous so-called enriching thing for our young kids on a Saturday morning.

Oh yeah, and there’s one other thing we have in common: we’re terrified of bringing a new baby around these three-foot-tall monsters.

I look over at the instructors. Do they look capable of instilling a little last-minute sibling training into Wolfy’s brain? These poor little children. This is probably the last nice thing they will get to do with both their parent’s attention focused solely on them for a very long time.

Enjoy your sibling preparation workshop, kid. Did you just notice how your father and I both raced over at the same time to help you take off your coat? That’s probably one of the last times that will ever happen. I hope you enjoyed it. You really don’t know how good you’ve had it these past few years.

The last straggling “friends” show up and all the families are herded on an incredibly long journey through the bowels of the hospital.

Wolfy races off ahead of everyone at top speed and the instructors start looking around with astonished, accusatory looks on their faces that say, “Whose child is that?” Oh, that little boy? He belongs to me. Well, actually me, the coughing waddling woman and this guy who is walking around in over-sized hip hop style clothes that are covered in gasoline.

The journey includes an awkward crowded trip in the elevator, which is mostly silent until one of the dads pipes up with, “When the doors open, you’ll be mimicking the birthing experience.” Wow, funny guy! You are so fucking funny. Oh my god, how did I survive without knowing you before? Thank you for that joke… now please refrain from ever opening your mouth again.

The sibling preparation workshop gets underway with the little kids having to perform such tasks as peeling the back off of their name tag sticker and getting measured to see how much they grew since they were born.

Wolfy is constantly standing up and getting right in the face of the instructors as they are talking. My husband and I shrink a little bit in our folding chairs. Wow, three years of constant adult attention has resulted in a kid who thinks someone should be paying attention to him all the time. Who would have thought?

Then my next thought: oh well, they’ll straighten Wolfy out next year when he goes into public school. Sharing one incredibly stressed out adult with fifteen other three-year-olds will certainly take him down a notch of two.

While all of this important learning is happening, I realize I’m lightheaded from the intense gasoline fumes radiating from my husband.

I lean over to him and whisper, “You reek. I don’t think this is good for all these pregnant women.”

“I know!” he whispers back and shrugs his shoulders. Then he tells me that he’s going to go try to wash his winter boots off in the bathroom sink because he thinks maybe he got some gas on them. All I can do start praying that no one walks into the bathroom and calls security on him.

Meanwhile, the instructor shows the children how to hold a baby. Soon, all of these toddlers will be responsible for “helping your grown-ups care for” real living, breathing tiny humans – but for now, they can practice on their stuffed animals and dolls.

Wolfy came prepared with his boy-doll, which my mother gave him last winter.

He named the doll, Vuffa. And Vuffa has a penis.

It’s actually a little nub that my mother sewed onto the doll with the idea that Wolfy would identify more with a doll if it looked like him. Except, my mother kind of put a little too much stuffing into Vuffa’s penis nub and it looks like he has a teeny-tiny half-erection.

Of course, Wolfy immediately takes off all of Vuffa’s clothes. So now I’m sitting powerless in the folding chair and there is Vuffa sprawled out on the floor in the middle of the circle with his penis exposed.

The instructor shows all the children how to hold “your baby” but Wolfy is just pinching Vuffa’s eyes together over and over again. Yes, he is totally ready for this sibling thing.

Please, pretty please, don’t call Child Protective Services on us.

Finally, my husband returns from the bathroom with a giant coffee for us to share and somehow the rest of the class pretty much went off without a hitch.

My personal favorite part of the whole experience was when the instructors taught all the kids the Super Sibling Handshake. Yes, this is real. It involves putting your hands over your heart and then extending them outward from your body in two thumbs up and saying, “Super Sibling!!!” Apparently having a secret or not-so-secret handshake is a very important part of being a big brother or sister.

A few hours later I asked Wolfy, “What do you think the word ‘sibling’ means?” Without hesitation he said, “It means thumbs up!” and showed me the handshake.

Oh yeah, we’re totally prepared for this whole sibling thing. I see nothing to worry about here…

Toddler’s Holiday To-Do List

snowflakes

Some people call the holidays the most wonderful time of the year. But for many of us adults, making the magic happen can just make us feel stressed out. We’re making our shopping lists and checking them twice. We’re planning menus and buying expensive plane tickets. Well rest assured fellow parents; our toddlers have a very busy agenda as well. Our sweet little elves are trying to accomplish a lot this holiday season.

Here is your toddler’s official holiday to-do list:

1. Play hide-n-seek in a store that is packed to the gills with last minute shoppers.  A super awesome trick is to disappear into the middle of a clothes rack and watch your parent frantically search for you.

2. Have a meltdown when you’re only allowed to open one door per day on the advent calendar. Repeat for all of December.

3. Insist on lighting the candles on the Hanukkah menorah all by yourself. While you are holding the flame, don’t squander this prime opportunity to attempt to light everything else on fire other than the candles.

4. Eat tinsel, mistletoe, raw cranberries, and pine needles.

5. Get hopelessly stuck in a snow bank. Holler as though you might be dying or being abused. It keeps the neighborhood interesting.

6. Pee in your snowsuit.

7. Take off your boots and socks every time you are in your car seat for more than five minutes.

8. Make your legs into limp noodles whenever someone attempts to put the boots back on.

9. Insist on putting your boots on all by yourself. Take approximately two hours to accomplish this task. End up putting them on the wrong feet. Insist that they are actually on the right feet and that feel completely fine.

10. Whenever it’s necessary to go past the Christmas tree, make sure you sideswipe the entire thing. The jingling sound of the ornaments all crashing together is a wonderful noise.

11. Throw a tantrum at least once per day because you really, really, REALLY need to open a present. Try to open at least one present every time your parents dare to take their eyes off of you.

12. When at a party: touch every cookie on the plate before making your selection. Always put your finger in a cake or pie.  And most importantly, never miss an opportunity to take a bite out of a slice of cheese or carrot stick and then sneak it back onto the snack tray.

Parenting: at least it’s never boring!
Happy Holidays!!!