Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category

Red-pop puke stains everything: And other observations on parenthood

Written by Jennifer Miller on Nov 24th, 2013 | Filed under: Lifestyle


A small child, when given the choice of A or B will invariably choose the square root of A divided by B.

An alternate definition of Boy: A loud noise covered in dirt.

By age three, “Why?” is not a question, it’s a fine art, a meditation, a merry-go-round you just can’t get off.

Utter the words, “My children will never…” is the very worst kind of karma.

You know life has changed forever when the best Christmas gift you get is your four year old’s commitment to wipe his own bum.

Red pop, hot dogs and a car sick kid are a deadly combination.

Red pop puke stains. Everything.

Even kids who have never seen Sponge Bob, Barney, The Wiggles or will magically know and sing the songs… over, and over, and over…

Bribery may be the moral low ground… but it sometimes works.

The combined evil genius of a four and two year old should not be underestimated.

Things no one tells you:

  • You will, at some point, find poop floating in your kid’s bath, and you will scoop it out in a plastic IKEA cup.
  • Boys sometimes dump lawnmower gas on the deck “just to see what happens.”
  • Your baby will puke in your mouth or hair.
  • Parenting books are 99% bullshit
  • Quiet is the loudest (and most dangerous) sound.
  • You will be brought to your knees by your own weakness and inadequacy
  • You will feel like super woman
  • You will negotiate with terrorists.
  • You’ll be able to recite “Goodnight Moon” in your sleep… trust me.

It is impossible to have only one child. Every kid is born with an invisible evil twin called, “Not me.”

Laughter is an art perfected in infancy

College is excellent preparation for parenthood: you learn to exist on little to no sleep, function with a hangover, and eat cold pizza or ramen noodles for breakfast.

Factory work is excellent preparation for parenthood: you learn to do the same tasks over, and over, and over, and over and no one says, “Thank you.”

Babies are as addictive as crack.

It is possible for two boys, working together, to completely dismantle and destroy a toilet with only two matchbox cars and their bare hands as tools.

There’s nothing funnier to parents (or more shocking to non parents) at a dinner party than a naked preschooler pressing himself against a sliding glass door and then smearing himself back and forth and around until his junk looks like something from a Salividor Dali painting.

With three boys, urination is a team sport: snapshot: big boy, belled up to the pot, tiny boy knees on one rim, hands on the other, carefully pointing “down”, middle boy aiming carefully under tiny boy’s armpit. Big boy shouting, “Ready guys, ONE, TWO, THREE, GO!”

Toddlers are easier than teens: if you cannot find them, they are generally just under the couch.

Teens are easier than toddlers: they never stick their fingers under the bathroom door while you’re showering to ask if you’re done yet or if they can have a cookie.

Putting snow suits on young children: an olympic sport I could medal in.

Everything: carpet, furniture, clothing, curtains, stuffed animals, EVERYTHING, should colour coordinate with peanut butter.

No matter what you do, someone will assure you that you’re doing it very, very wrong.

Do your best, every day. Your “best” will vary. That’s okay. Do your best.

Don’t be surprised if your daughter and her bestie cut their hair off and jam it into a heating register to hide the evidence.

When it comes down to laugh or cry: always laugh.

All those things your parents said that you swore you’d never say. You will say them. With pride.

The quality of a day is measured in dirt between little toes.

People to ignore:

  • The lady in the grocery store who feels the need to point out that your kids shoes are on the wrong feet.
  • The mother of one child who feels the need to point out what you’re messing up with your fourth.
  • The competition moms: it’s not a race to solid food, toilet training, sleeping through the night, letter recognition, violin virtuosity, all-star little league captain or Harvard admission. It’s just not.
  • The older mom who’s raised a tribe and thinks she knows better than you what’s good for your baby. She doesn’t. You’ll find your way.
  • Parents Magazine.
  • The activist parents.
  • The neighbour who gripes when your kids yell in their own backyard in the middle of the afternoon.
  • Your childless friends who don’t “get” the massive priority shift that comes with parenthood.
  • The “Just wait until they’re…. pick an age” naysaying parents.

Reading aloud to kids is time well spent. So is a bubble bath alone.

The best thing I can do for my kids today is to take care of myself.

Children do not appreciate the precarious nature of their existence.

Date night: When you get away from the kids long enough to talk about the kids and worry about the kids.

Quote from my cousin Griff: “Parenthood, where you allow your children to get your way.”

Having children is a form of enlightenment: it opens your eyes to entire worlds, both inner and outer, that you never knew were there.

I’ve been tired for 17 years. I will rest when I’m dead.

When toddlerhood passes, you stop hearing the music.

When a teenager asks for a snuggle, put down whatever you are doing and unfold your lap as big as you can.

“Just nufing!” is a worrisome answer to the question, “What are you doing in there?”

The days are long. The years are short.

Dads: Get Outdoors With Your Kids!

Written by theoutdoorsdad on Aug 22nd, 2013 | Filed under: Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis via Compfight cc

These days more Dads than ever before choose to get out and about with their kids. This is great news on a number of levels and something which I would encourage everyone to consider doing. Here are some of the main benefits to living a few outdoor adventures with your children.

Build a Strong Bond

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever read in a book was one that said that children and parents don’t automatically have a strong bond just because they have a blood link; that bond is something which is built up over time and through shared experiences. How you choose to share time together is clearly up to you but I can highly recommend having some outdoor adventures along the way. I know that some of my boys’ favourite memories are of us sitting around a campfire telling stories to each other and heating some food. Of course, these are some of my favourite moments as well, and it is great to sit there in the glow of the fire and know that we are all living a very special moment together. These times are when bonds are built and this much becomes even more obvious when you look back later on at the fun you have had together outdoors.

Encourage Good Communication

A lot of parents complain about the lack of proper communication between them and their children. In fact, from what I have heard from other Dads, this is the biggest problem of all in a lot of parent / child relationships. Encouraging good, open communication in the family is one of the biggest challenges for many people but I have always found that it comes naturally. I think that part of the secret lies in us spending a lot of time together in different places and becoming more comfortable in each other’s company. Some Dads I know think that the generation gap is just too big these days. You probably know people like this too; people who think that youngsters are only interested in computers and phones and other stuff which they aren’t interested in. If you think that you have nothing in common with your kids then how can you expect to enjoy good communication with them? I find that getting out of the house and doing things which are new to all of us is the best way of relaxing and talking about things which genuinely interest all of us.

Give Them Good Habits

Living an active, outdoor life is a fantastic way of giving your kids some healthy habits. During the summer holidays, for example, they don’t have any problems in getting up early and going out to do things instead of lying in bed like other children of their age do. I can still remember how I used to get a really early start with my Dad when we were going to play golf or go camping. There is something magical about the early morning air when you are a youngster and I feel that my boys have got the start of a lifelong love of getting up early and being active. We also take part in a lot of different sports while we are away and have learned how to make a lot of types of food, some of it healthier than the rest I must confess. I used to think that teaching children about good habits was all about sitting them down and lecturing them. Now I have discovered that getting out of the house together and getting exercise is a far better way of doing this.

Learn and Teach

I have to confess that I learn as much from most of our trip as my boys do. Sure, I am the person who drives to the destination and has most of an idea about what we are going to do there. However, I always make sure that there are also a number of tasks which the young ones are more comfortable doing that I am. This means that while I can teach them about driving and fishing and playing golf and all of other things I have a reasonable grasp of they can teach me other things at the same time. It is because of this that I like to take out some gadgets with us and get into situations in which the kids know more than me. This gives me a chance to learn and gives them a chance to teach, which I think is brilliant for helping all of us grow as people. It is important to give your children a chance to teach you things occasionally, rather than you being the one who is always giving out lessons to them.

Keep an Eye on Them

I have never been the type of father who is constantly looking over the shoulders of his kids to see what they are doing. However, I am aware that there are a lot of dangers out there these days. I have heard other parents complain about how difficult it is to keep an eye on their children now, with mobile phones, the internet and all sorts of other dangers. I worry about this kind of thing as well, but I know that when we are together out in the countryside or on the beach they aren’t in any danger. As far as I can see, the best way to keep an eye on your children is to spend time with them, so you might as well do something which you all enjoy instead of turning it into some form of torture for everyone concerned. When we go out on an adventurous trip we take about other things as well, so I get to find out about their other friends and what they do during the rest of their week. I can’t say that I am 100% sure that they don’t keep any secrets from me but I am a lot more comfortable about the direction their lives are going in than I would otherwise be.

What do you do to strengthen your relationship with your kids?


Life Books: Celebrating 13

Written by Jennifer Miller on Jul 1st, 2013 | Filed under: Lifestyle

This month is a busy month for our family.

July is “birthday season” at our house, with three of the four children leveling up within a three week period. How we managed to pop out four in that tight a window over a ten year period is a subject of great mystery and amusement in our family. The result? A non-stop parade of balloons and leftover cake that guarantees my desire for pie when my birthday rolls around, the first week of August.

This year is a special year because Elisha is turning 13, and turning 13 is kind of a big deal in our family. It’s the point at which we expect our kids to be ready to start taking the reins of their own lives. We consider them demi-dults (not dolts!) who can be relied upon to pull their own weight and some of someone else’s too. It’s the age at which we welcome them into the adult world and encourage them to step up to that very big plate, insofar as they are able. It’s not about the age, really, that’s just a convenient mile marker; it’s about celebrating the magical change that causes a little kid to all of a sudden fill very big shoes. It’s not like yesterday they were “little kids” that we were bossing around 24-7 and today they’re free wheeling adults. Very little changes on the outside, but we mark an external milestone on the inner journey. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the growth and maturity of a young person, the individuality and creative genius of one kid at a time, and to encourage the passions and dreams of each of our kids as they step over the threshold into a new and exciting phase of life.


Building Family Culture: The Arts

Written by Jennifer Miller on Jun 13th, 2013 | Filed under: Lifestyle

It is a great sadness to me that the Arts are being pulled from public schools.

With budget crunches, faced with the choice of fire a math teacher or let go an art teacher, when funding is dependent on test scores… tests in which art and music do not appear, it’s easy to understand why the choices are made. Still, it makes me sad, as a teacher, as a parent, and as a member of the larger community who believes that it’s the arts that give the sciences meaning, and form, much of the time.

As with most things, children pick up a love for the arts because it’s modeled for them. One of my husband’s most precious memories as a child was his Dad taking him to see the opera, Carmen. I’ve never been to an opera, but I remember my parents spending the big bucks to take us to see stage productions and ballets, and cultural dance performances in Mexico. I’ll never forget seeing Guys and Dolls, starring Liza Minelli, at the Pantageous Theater in Los Angeles. I felt so cosmopolitan. (more…)

8 Kids & a Farm: One family’s journey toward sustainability

Written by Janelle on Jun 6th, 2013 | Filed under: Lifestyle

I remember reading Pioneer woman’s blog several years ago and was fascinated by her husband’s family story. I realised that all it takes sometimes is one person/couple willing to venture out on their own and with the help of their children and they could do just about anything. Hard work and determination were a given, all we needed was a plan. It didn’t take long to realize that if we wanted to be able to feed our growing brood we needed to grow/raise our own food, and so the dream began.

Five years ago we moved to our little piece of ground with our five kids in tow, most were too little to help but that didn’t stop us from getting started. Each child was given an animal that they would receive any money that was made. Our oldest son, Andrew, has branched out from his first calf to adding some pigs to his holdings. Our second oldest daughter, Harley, has added meat birds this year in conjunction with our second oldest son, Scottie.

We have eight children now and the younger kids and our oldest daughter with down syndrome have stuck strictly to calves, this year we are raising bottle calves and they are loving being able to play and bond with their babies. In the past we would just assign them a calf as they were born, those calves were never as friendly. It is heartwarming to watch them prepare bottles and get out there every morning and evening to feed their babies.

Our 2yr old loves helping to water or feed or whatever we are doing. For our 4 youngest children this is the only life they have ever known and for the 4 oldest it is life they prefer. Whenever we get out to the city we are reminded of why we moved to the country, the traffic, noise and claustrophobically close houses are just not for us.

We are on a journey to sustainability, it isn’t easy work, the days are long, the losses are tough and the mistakes are often expensive. The trick is to diversify, and keep going. We had a small break last year and boy has our grocery budget taken a HUGE hit, that time away reinforced our determination to get back to work and make it happen. There is no get rich quick scheme to farming, we just have to keep working hard at it and learning from our mistakes.

Homeschooling makes this life far more manageable as we work on our schedule not someone elses. Every morning we get out to the animals, then we can settle to enjoy our breakfast, a quick clean up and then the school day begins. Sounds simple right? Not exactly, cows and pigs have a thing for testing fences and enjoy finding new and creative ways to get out. Since we live right on the highway that makes an animal escape a very dangerous problem. Thankfully we have gotten a lot better at putting up and fixing fences and generally don’t have many issues there anymore.

Of course the animals aren’t the only ones that can throw the proverbial monkey wrench into things, just having eight children can do that with the help of a freak change of weather and send us into cold and flu land. Or add a few new teeth for the baby and the day may need to begin and end a bit later if it is all to be done. There are no weekends as the work doesn’t end. That said we do get away from time to time but it takes a lot of careful planning to make sure all the animals have what they need. Bottle calves cannot be left so we have to wait until they are weaned.

Last night I watched my middle 3 children chase a few escapee hens and even as we lost daylight, they laughed and continued the chase. I turned on the van headlights and they cheered as the last hen was captured. We do our chores together as a family and it isn’t really such hard work anymore. They dream of more animals and their own personal ventures, Scottie hopes to have goats and sheep someday, so we’ll likely look into it next year as we continue to plan and grow.