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Tuesday
Mar172015

Crabby Kids?

Crabby Kids?  by April Rowen

Like us, kids get AWFUL, TERRIBLE, CRABBY for no reason whatsoever.

And sometimes, they remain in an AWFUL, TERRIBLE, CRABBY mood for days. 

HEEEEEEEELP!

But before running for the hills (or in my case, the nearest room with a lockable door), here's a few ways to remove those pinchers. Or to take Toddler Hyde out of Toddler Jekyll.

Give a tablespoon of cod liver oil to your little angel. Every day. Forever. No, no, don't force it down them as retribution for all they've put you through (although it's tempting...) And don't sugar-coat it (thus canceling out it's health properties.) And don't verbally sugarcoat it (thus cancelling out the retribution part.) Tell your kids you'll now be eating monkey brains...snail snot...doggy slime...you get the idea...and that they get to eat it, too. EW! We have lots of fun giving it the worst possible names and making the worst possible faces. (Have a cup of orange juice or a strong food like sausage or banana ready to wash down that awful monkey brain fishy taste. 

Turn off the TV. It's making them cranky. Which is making you cranky.

Send them outside. Give them dirt, a pet, worms, bugs, birds, water, seeds, pails, balls, cardboard boxes, plants, germs, and doggy food to play with. They will be much happier. And so will you. Until...

It's time to give them a bath. Which always makes crabby kids happy. There's something about water...

Have them work. Seriously. We believe BIG TIME in child labor over here. Anytime there's a crabby kid, it usually means crabby kid has too much time to sit around and complain. They get their choice of time-out on a chair (or in their room), or to help Momma. Sometimes, like yesterday, they don't get a choice; Sometimes their crabbiness takes everyone out and the ONLY CURE is not a spoonful of medicine but a shovelful of work. That is, to 'play' by learning and helping and being with me.

Have them work more. I know, I know. Kids aren't helpers. In fact, they make work so.much.harder. They get in the way. They undo what you do. Boy have I pulled my hair out in attempted patience over this. BUT. We are either teaching to be entertained and lazy OR we are teaching to feel pride and satisfaction in a job well-done. It gives fierce independence (AKA growing up.) And it tires them out without their getting into trouble. Here's a few things we do around here...

  • Cook.
  • Clean-off/Set table (I put our utensils in a low cupboard just for this reason.)
  • Clean-out/Fill dishwasher. (1-yr-old Griffin stands on chair and splashes in sink as December and I work.)
  • Tidy rooms/Make beds/Open curtains.
  • Sweep/Wash floor/Vacuum.
  • Fold Laundry (mostly results in lots of jumping on the bed or couch and onto folded laundry.)
  • Wash door-frames and baseboards.
  • Garden/Water Plants/Compost/Home make stuffs, like medicated baby wipes and face cleansers.

Teach them something new. Encourage them to do it themselves when ready. How to draw another letter. Another number. Show them cheetahs on youtube. Draw cheetahs. Make and send a letter to someone about cheetahs. Bake something. "Drive" the big car. 

Go on a walk. Or a rain-walk. Have Toddler Hyde walk as much as possible.

Give Toddler Hyde a nap. Or two. Tell them ahead of time, "Uh-oh! It looks like you're sleepy. That's ok! You get to rest in five minutes. What do you want to do until then?" And if they argue... "Only four minutes left now. What do you want to do?".. And so on.

Quality time. Sometimes kids are crabby because we are too busy. Sometimes they just want us.

And, of course, food. Good food. Seriously, nothing takes us out faster than poo-food and stillness. Sugar and empty carbs make for crabby kids. Give Toddler Hyde something healthy (probably after a nap!) Something meaty, or with nuts, or avocado, or soup... Better yet, have a picnic outside. Let them clean-up.

Best for last...send them to boarding school Grandma's.

"One thing I do know about being a parent; you understand why your father was in a bad mood a lot."  --Adam Sandler

What do you do to tranquilize Toddler and Preschooler Hyde?

Tuesday
Mar102015

The Real Culprit Behind Mommywars

The Real Culprit Behind Mommy Wars    by April Rowen

Most of us are great parents.

Because most of us care if the car seat is 'current'. 

Most of us care that our kids are vaccinated (or 'not.') 

Most of us care what they eat.

Most of us care that they get enough sleep.

Most of us care that they aren't bullies.

Most of us care that they are brimming with health.

Most of us care about ALL OF THESE THINGS, and a lot more besides. 

And we are the ones who fight each other.

We ARE the MommyWars.

Because we are afraid. Deeply afraid. Afraid of each other (You'll get the government to force us to vaccinate.) and afraid of all the other unknowns. (You'll get my kids sick.) 

Afraid... (Am I bad for sending my kid to daycare?)

Afraid... (Am I bad for homeschooling?)

Afraid... (Am I bad for using formula?)

And so we operate out of fear on a daily basis. And when a person is afraid, anger isn't long behind. (READ: Momma-Bear). Anger is dangerous. It's rarely productive and mostly destructive.

Our Fear is the Culprit Behind Mommywars

In the meantime, hopitals are filled with 90% preemie druggy babies and absentee moms who walk out or try and stay and eventually leave anyway. These are the moms who (mostly) don't read our articles of love and hate, who (mostly) don't care one iota about who's vaccinated, who's not, and who-punched-who in the face at the park when your back was turned.

In the meantime, us caring parents are taking each other out. All that comes out of it is more laws restricting more freedom as our strife overflows into courthouses.

Go ahead and get upset at that terrible kid at the park. Get upset at the tweaker mom and ghetto dad. Sure. If it makes you feel better. Then get online and post what you just saw and spread the poison. Get a whole following of angry parents at these folks. Tear down walls and burn bridges. Change the world by painting with black.

Or

smile. Meet them. Hang out with them. Invite them over. Bring them dinner. Have playdates. Instruct your kid on how to be extra awesome around them. Become life-long family friends.

Because no matter what you say on facebook, no mater what you say behind their backs (or directly to them), no matter how many laws you make -- it still won't for one second change the life of that family who bullies. Who swears. Who abuses. Who's sickly. Who's all the things that stir up our Mommywars.

Being real, vulnerable and broken -- being their FAMILY will change the entire course of that child's life. And our society. If we can pull our heads out of the sand (fear) and give each other grace and encouragement (impart courage).

And if we put our hands to real work (and not our mouths to artifical work destruction.)

We might just stop the MommyWars. By painting with yellow. 

Friday
Mar062015

What To Say To Stupid Comments

What To Say To Stupid People Comments     by April Rowen

If you're a parent, or getting hitched, or just suffered a great loss, you're a walking target for criticism. Truly, you might as well wear a bullseye T-shirt every day.

Sometimes people just say really stupid stuff. (Especially to parents.)

Or maybe it’s that stupid people say stuff. (Especially to parents.)

Either way, when you walk outside the door, you’re going to hear something probably mean, probably hurtful, and definitely stupid.

And if you lock yourself indoors, media will flood you with the stupidity of humanity.

And EVEN if you turn off ALL media — phone, computer, TV, radio, smoke signal… you can be SURE that your kids, spouse, pet, or neighbor (waiting outside those drawn shades) are waiting with stupidity.

What’s a person to do?

Behind every stupid comment lies a beating, and probably bleeding, heart.

5 Ways to Understand Stupid.

  1. Every single person is broken.
  2. Every single person wants to give advice.
  3. Every single person needs to be needed, valued, and appreciated. (Loved.)
  4. Every single person needs to be heard.
  5. Every single person wants to help (and help you avoid something that really hurt them.)

Thing is, we don't always remember that when being ZINGED. And for those of us who've been hurt and been abandoned, we talk, talk, talk without really drawing each other out. We help give un-asked for advice and push people further away -- while desperately trying to draw them closer.

Most of us want to connect. Most of us are lonely, more lonely than ever. But we do the one thing we’re really good at — we say stupid things. (And thus, we stay lonely.) Stupidity generally comes from a bleeding heart. So instead of taking it personally (haha...I'm laughing at myself here...) instead of taking it personally, look beyond the comment and address that person's heart issue.

Because maybe it's not about you. Maybe it's about reaching out to them

The one way to reach out is through humility. And a genuine interest in the other person (yes, the stupid one.)

So ask them a question. And then another...

5 Responses to Stupid.

  1. “Thank you for your advice! Do you have experience with that?”
  2. “I can see you know more about this than I! Do you have kiddos?
  3. “Oops, looks like I've been doing it wrong. Tell me more.”
  4. “Shoot, I’m on a tight schedule, but thank you for noticing such and such.”
  5. “I gotta run, but if I run into you again I’d love to hear more.”

Turns out when hurtful people are listened to, they aren't hurtful anymore. And you feel like a million bucks for turning that terrible scowl and pointing finger into a hug. You might even become best friends. Seriously, this is potent stuff.

Umm...This is Crazy.

Yes. Yes it is. But if you belief in what Jesus did for us, it's our job to love on others and pull them out, not get all prickly and defensive. People can be awful. But they say awful things for a reason. 

"In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." -- Albert Schweitzer

The key is to realize most people are saying something because they are generally interested and kinda care. They are also usually terrified of making friends (because darn it, they keep sharing their stupid with people).  

5 Things to Say To Eradicate Stupid (and Make Friends.)

  1. I see you are interested in such and such. How did you get into that?”
  2. “Thank you for pointing out such and such to me. How do you have experience with that?”
  3. “Wow, you sound like an expert! Tell me more.”
  4. “I can see you really care. That’s rare!”
  5. “I am well-researched on this topic and I felt a made a good decision, but tell me, what do YOU think?"

The more open-ended questions you ask, the more you’ll find out about the stupid person and what led them to their stupid comment.

While you might not want their friendship, and might not even have a second, they are mostly CRAVING, FOAMING, DYING for your approval and appreciation. "Wow, thanks, I didn't know that! Hey, have a great day!" It might be the first time they’ve ever had someone listen -- and even thank them! And it might not. Either way, it's nice you aren't letting them smash you like a bug.

At the very least, taking the spotlight off you and putting it on them will help you wiggle out of a hurtful situation and possibly expose the why of the stupidity -- and help you forgive, forget, and flee with a smile. Remember…everybody loves to talk about themselves! And few of us get a good chance to do just that.

Tuesday
Mar032015

How to Prevent & Cure a Bladder Infection (Kids, Too!)

How to Prevent & Cure a Bladder Infection (Kids, Too!)  by April Rowen

Once Upon A TIME I suffered so many bladder infections I thought about about changing my name to "April Bladder Infection." I came down with one about every couple  months or so. And, of course, I went to the doctor.

Doctor said I needed antibiotics. So I'd take them. They usually didn't work the first time. So another round we'd go. I became an expert on antibiotics.

It became chronic.

Soon, I would just cry, head over, pay my $70 to pee in a cup, and ask Doc for the specific antibiotic that always seemed to work. This was getting expensive, and I was starting to become sickly and vulnerable to other diseases. And very, very discouraged.

Then, Glory-be, I became pregnant and a friend steered us towards midwifery. Becase I had such terrible experience with allopathic medicine, I grasped at homeopathy -- nay, I inhaled it. It was a lifeline; another option! A second-opinion!! HOPE!!! Boy, did I have questions for our midwives. And sometimes we even talked about labor.

I was SO MAD when our midwives nonchalantly told me these simple, GOLDEN ways to prevent Bladder Infections (that I payed hundreds of dollars to never hear from doctors!) I learned a woman can easily prevent bladder infections simply by...

  • Taking daily probiotics (so good bugs won't let bad bugs conquer.)
  • Using the restroom after whoopie.
  • Wiping front to back.
  • Taking real cranberry juice and/or cranberry pills and lots of water at the onset of one.

HOW TO NIP A BLADDER INFECTION IN THE BUD:

  • Overdose on Cranberry pills. (I like these.) Or straight cranberry juice, zero sugar. (I like this.) Better yet, overdose on BOTH.
  • Take extra Vitamin C, whether through a sports mix or home-made juice. Mix with the yucky cranberry juice to sweeten up the cranberry.
  • Drink fluids constantly throughout the day like you're a racehorse. Because you are!
  • Use the restroom as much as humanly possible.
  • BEST FOR LAST: Head for probiotics. Avoid antibiotics if at all possible! Don't worry about rushing to the doctor... it will take your body a little time to heal itself while you speed toward recovery. Antibiotics completely wipes-out all bacteria -- both the good AND the ugly. After antibiotics have eradicated the bad guys, there aren't any good guys left, and most of us don't eat a daily diet of fermented, probiotic foods to recover those good bugs. I wish instead of continually wiping out the bad bugs, I had simply strengthened the good bugs and given my body an ARMY of good bugs years ago. I'd head will-nilly down the pricey, time-consuming, nasty sick/antibiotic cycle, and I always became worse. Quick and pricey probiotics can be found in pill form in most pharmacies or online. Dirt-cheap, homemade versions (which are just as potent, if not more so) are kombucha, kefir, and fermented anything. 

For over three years I didn't once come down with a bladder infection. Wait, let me correct that... I did come down with a few, but I immediately blasted them to smithereens!  But just last week... due to neglecting probiotics, sitting writing too much, more sitting with my sweet, teething kiddos, and forgetting to drink a thing, Mr. Bladder Infection came-a-knocking. And trust me, this one was BAD -- it snuck up on me and had me in tears.

HOW TO CURE A NASTY BLADDER INFECTION:

Some or all of these might do the trick for you. I am including everything I tried that helped and I'm truly not sure if it was a grand combo or just a few that healed me up. It took about two weeks, and the pain was gone after two days (althouth I still had that heavy feeling and a little tenderness in mornings and late nights as I treated it for two weeks.

I believe it boiled down to five main things: Water, Cranberry, Garlic, Probiotics, Movement. Overdose as much as you'd like EXCEPT watch for tummy upset. Garlic and cranberry is best taken with food.

  • Overdose on Cranberry pills. Or straight cranberry juice, zero sugar. Or TAKE BOTH. WAY OVERDOSE as needed! (I take them every time I find myself in the kitchen.)
  • Overdose on Vitamin C. I make homemade orange juice (I mix local grapefruit, orange, and lemon with a bunch of local apples.) Or if in hurry, I use this. I mix it with about half cup of cranberry juice.
  • Take Alfalfa. Can find at any health food store or Farmer's Market in season. It takes like hay (because it is. See? Racehorse!) Or I use this. I add a tbsp to the last bit of my juice and gulp it down without tasting it, yuck! Or I steep it in tea. Can also find in pill form. 
  • Baked Garlic. Eat as much as possible (I can handle 2-3 baked cloves per meal without tummy upset.) Others prefer pill form. Ginger works well, too.  NOTE: It wasn't until I added probiotics and garlic to my diet three times a day that the bladder infection completely left!
  • Drink lots of tea -- NOT black tea, but herbal or 'medicinal' tea. I like this one. Adding grated ginger and/or peppermint can help. (Can find tinctures and/or these teas all at health store.)
  • If possible, sleep, sleep, sleep. (I begged Peter for a morning off and slept until noon! It helped!)
  • Wear loose clothing. Seriously, this seems silly, but tight clothing irritates that sad, enlarged bladder. This is when you get an excuse to wear dresses. Or nothing at all, if you're like my toddler!
  • Avoid sugar. (Whaa!) Sugar undoes all the work you're doing. (Sob!!)
  • Try to sit as LITTLE as possible. Try to move as MUCH as possible.
  • Use heat pack to ease pain when needed. I slept with mine against bladder...ahh! z-z-z-z-z.....
  • A few extra tips... Extra Alfalfa helps with pain. I also took Goldenseal and Echinacea in my tea to strengthen my immune system. 

FOR KIDS, TOO!

When learning how to wipe all by herself, December (age 2 at the time) came down with something that seemed like a bladder infection. I applied everything I shared above in the 'How to Nip a Bladder Infection in the Bud' section. She was a great sport and all signs of infection cleared up immediately.

"It's medicine to help your owie!"

  • If giving cranberry pills to children, buy the capsules that open (these) and dump content into banana, or into their favorite strong fruit. Or mush raw cranberries into strong fruit, or smoothie, or popsicle.
  • Combining straight cranberry juice into orange juice is a great way to 'sneak' in the terrible cranberry juice and up that Vitamin C. "It's medicine to help your owie!" Kids love medicine. (Toddler even wanted a band-aid over her bladder area. So cute.)
  • I upped her probiotics by adding  homemade kombucha to her cran-orange juice. She loved it!

Lastly, this is a great option in addition with everything else: Newton Homeopathics Bladder/Kidney. (Can get them at most health stores.) All of their products are kid-friendly! I didn't include it above as it's a pre-made homeopathic medicine (very potent herb tincture), but it helped and is MUCH CHEAPER, FASTER, and actually HEALTHY than a long, pricey doctor visit that results in death to good germs -- I'd say worth $18, wouldn't you? (And I didn't even use a quarter of the bottle!)

Here's to attacking Bladder Infections!

Wednesday
Feb252015

I Don't Like Today. I Like Tomorrow.

I Don't Like Today. I Like Tomorrow.   by April Rowen

Inspired by my Auntie and Sister (in-law) <3

Everyday I yearn for tomorrow. Because surely tomorrow will be better; easier. Tomorrow is unknown and filled with countless opportunities. Tomorrow could bring a life of ease; a life of great comfort; a life of prosperity.

But it's today.

Plain, 'ol boring today. And instead of ease or comfort, I'm busy and tired and bored and anxious.  Instead of opportunities, I'm weighed down under obligation and responsibility. Instead of prosperity, there's endless work stacked a mile-high, most of it finished unseen without praise or reward -- and finished only temporarily.

So I don't like today. I like tomorrow.

Why can't it be tomorrow? Why, oh why, can't it ever be tomorrow?

Today my kids are fussy. Today my kids are needy. Today I have to discipline and teach, over and over and over... Today I need infinite patience. Today I need to be fully present as my undivided attention is demanded. Today I need energy I can't find. Today I need abundant creativity when my well is bone-dry. Today I need positivity that I can only growl about. Today I need to be awesome when I'm barely functional.

And I wish it were tomorrow.

Until, suddenly -- it's tomorrow.

And I wish it were yesterday.

Because now I dearly miss those little arms wrapped around my neck, yes, even as I somehow cooked, even as I somehow cleaned, even as I somehow tried to use the restroom by myself. Now, I miss those slurpy kisses and endless questions and passionate tantrums. I miss the defiance and opportunities to teach and give of myself completely. I miss the purpose and the unabashed, violent, unquestioned love that I woke up to. I was a hero; I was unquestioned. I hadn't yet failed them; still had so much to build; in them and myself.

Now I live half in regret and half in profound bittersweet love as I watch them fly, or fall, and become the adults I formed them to be. Did I know of the responsibility I had? The life of joy that was daily at my fingertips? Did I realize how each moment counted -- and could I have done a better job even if I had? 

Tomorrow isn't as great as TODAY.

Now, today, my bones ache. I am old, I am tired. I miss yesterday and my crazy life that revolved around them and I'm lost... lost in wishing I could go back and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Not ache for it to be tomorrow and let today slip away unnoticed, unappreciated.

Because tomorrow is here, all to fast. 

And tomorrow isn't as great as TODAY.