No More Baby Blankets: A Real Life Baby Shower Guide

Get the mom-to-be something she really wants and needs like batteries and booze. The decorations are Pinterest perfect. The snacks are being scarfed down. Games are being played and, at any given moment, at least four hands are on the mom-to-be’s uterus waiting for the baby inside her to kick.

It’s a baby shower!

The new mom may be giddy (“Look at all these people who love me!” or grumpy (“Who are all these people eating my cake?!”), but one thing all guests of honor have in common at these functions is the thought, “What did everyone get me? … I mean, get the baby?”

As a woman in her 30s and a mom of two toddlers, I’ve been to my share of these events and have seen more ruffles and tuxedo onesies than I ever thought possible. If I could go back in time, I’d tell my pregnant self about the real gifts she should register for. The gifts that will save her sanity. The gifts that will keep on giving for years to come. The gifts that will make all other moms think, “Dang! I wish I had thought of that!”

If you’re pregnant—congratulations!—or you’re headed to one of these hormone fests, heed my advice and choose a gift from this handy dandy gift guide I’ve prepared especially for you.

1. 3T Clothes. For the first couple months of a baby’s life, everyone the new parents have ever met buys the kid clothes. When the little baby becomes a big kid, no one’s buying them a new wardrobe. Also, when the child is this age, the mom is going to have her hands full as it is and a loving gesture would be to save them the hassle that is going clothes shopping with a toddler.

2. Costco-sized box of batteries. All different kinds, from AAA to D. Kids will want toys that sing songs, shake, rattle, roll, blink, put on a Broadway musical, and clean their rooms for them. These toys require batteries, and the last thing a mom needs is her kid freaking out because they can’t go to sleep without their Glo-Worm but their Glo-Worm’s batteries died and they are now considered the worst parent in the world.

3. A set of screwdrivers. Installing batteries in irritating toys also requires screwdrivers of all shapes and sizes. Save Mom and Dad a trip to the hardware store and purchase these instead of yet another baby blanket.

4. Coffee, beer, and booze. Because motherhood.

5. Subscription to a media streaming service. It’s not just the newborn stage during which kids don’t sleep. It’s toddlerhood, too. Teething, growth spurts, brains that are learning, skills that are developing—it all means kids will be up at all hours of the night and there’s not always a kid-friendly (or mom-friendly) show on at three in the morning. If she’s left watching infomercials in her sleep-deprived state, it’s quite possible the new mom will order the Chop-O-Matic, Blend-O-Rama and Bing! Bang! Boom! Dish Detergent that she doesn’t need.

6. 700 boxes of macaroni and cheese. Because toddlers.

7. Three months of a housecleaning service. Everything is overwhelming to a new mom. Her baby, her marriage, her armpit hair, her life. Don’t let her housework overwhelm her too.

8. Spa gift certificate. The trick with this one is to tell her that it expires within six months of the child’s birthday. This guarantees that she will get out of the house, get a break from her baby, and pamper herself, which is what every new mom needs.

Take my advice or don’t, but in the name of all that is holy, please heed this one warning: NO MORE BABY BLANKETS. She’s having a kid — not opening a Bed, Bath and Beyond.

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© 2015 Toni Hammer, as first published on Scary Mommy


9 Books Toddlers Would Write If They Could

Unless they’re a genius, most toddlers can’t read let alone write. I’m a master at getting into the mind of little ones, though, and I’ve compiled a list of nine books toddlers would write if they were able to. Most of these would be international bestsellers their first week.

1. Where Has All The Glitter Gone? by Spark Lee

If they could, here are 9 hilarious books toddlers would write. "Can I Pee On That?" would be a bestseller.

Synopsis: A coming-of-age tale documenting one girl’s journey from three to three-and-a-half. She must leave childish things behind in order to become the preschooler she longs to be.

Sample chapter titles: I Can’t Eat Play-Doh Anymore, I’m Too Old For My Binkie, Where Are the Real Scissors?

2. Brown Hair, Gray Hair by Vicktori Ismine

If they could, here are 9 hilarious books toddlers would write. "Can I Pee On That?" would be a bestseller.

Synopsis: Part how-to, part memoir, this title will make you laugh and cry. It follows Tyler, a two-year-old boy who is determined to drive his mother to the brink of insanity… or at least give her as much gray hair as possible before he begins kindergarten.

Sample Chapters: I Need A Drink of Water, Why Why Why, Loved It Yesterday, Hate It Today

3. Can I Pee On That? by Yorin Fortruble

If they could, here are 9 hilarious books toddlers would write. "Can I Pee On That?" would be a bestseller.

Synopsis: A compilation of stories from those as young as newborns to as old as five who tell of the equally dangerous and hilarious places and things they’ve peed on across the planet.

Sample Chapters: Leaning Tower of Peesa. I Wouldn’t Sit There If I Were You, Nice To Meet You, Mr. President

4. Cheese: A Love Story by Gouda Luck

If they could, here are 9 hilarious books toddlers would write. "Can I Pee On That?" would be a bestseller.

Synopsis: One little girl’s romance with a slice of cheese lasts way too long as the cheese begins to mold. Is there anything she can do to save it from the trash?

Sample Chapters: Love At First Bite, I’ll Never Brie You Nor Forsake You, Mold, You Munster

5. Making Insomnia Work For You by Snuzi TymeIf they could, here are 9 hilarious books toddlers would write. "Can I Pee On That?" would be a bestseller.

Synopsis: The Tony Robbins of toddlerhood, Snuzi Tyme will tell you the steps you need to take to get anything and everything you’ve ever wanted from your sleep-deprived parents. Funny, heartwarming, and guaranteed to get you all the candy you can put your hands on.

Sample Chapters; How To Wake Up Every Hour For Life, The Three Things Every Toddler Must Do Before Going To Sleep, Yawning Is Weakness: When To Strike

6. How To Be Independent In A “Because I said So” World by I. Ownyou

If they could, here are 9 hilarious books toddlers would write. "Can I Pee On That?" would be a bestseller.Synopsis: Just because you live in a world where you’re told you can’t do anything doesn’t mean you can’t actually do anything. This heartwarming memoir will teach toddlers by I. Ownyou’s example how to get the most enjoyment and glee from their daily lives without submitting to their parent’s authority.

Sample Chapters: Hiding Cookies In Your Bed, Racing The Clock, Clothes Are More Optional Than You Think

7. Run Until You Fall by Imma Klutz

If they could, here are 9 hilarious books toddlers would write. "Can I Pee On That?" would be a bestseller.

Synopsis: The story of one boy who learned to walk, and then run, and vowed to never stop until that damn crack in the sidewalk got in his way. Will he get back up or will he stay on the ground forever?

Sample Chapters: Sweet Victory, My First Skinned Knee, Carry Me

8. The Witching Hour War by Tan Trum

If they could, here are 9 hilarious books toddlers would write. "Can I Pee On That?" would be a bestseller.

Synopsis: The only historical novel to make the list, this is a no-nonsense, completely factual account about the first toddler to ever look at the clock, see it was 5:30 p/m., and declare war on his parents until he went to bed.

Sample Chapters: Dinner Was Awful, Everything Is Falling Apart, I Hate You, I Hate You, I Hate You

9. 101 Ways To Cook With Candy by S. Ugarrush

If they could, here are 9 hilarious books toddlers would write. "Can I Pee On That?" would be a bestseller.

Synopsis: The most well-loved cookbook in toddlerhood history, this book is chock full of recipes for everything from appetizers to midnight snacks — all made with a sweet candy touch. As a special bonus, it includes a list of optional activities to do while you’re twitching from all that high fructose corn syrup.

Sample Chapters: Cheerios With Sugar, Bacon-Wrapped Snickers, Gummy Bear Crusted Chicken Nuggets

 

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9 Jobs My Toddler Could Get Right Now

I see no reason why my kids can't go get any of these jobs TODAY. They shouldn't let age hold them back. My kids are two and three, respectively, and I think it’s about time they start pulling their own weight around here. They think that yogurt is a food group and mac and cheese grows on tress. They have the gall to keep growing which means I have to buy them clothes all the time. THEY ARE EXPENSIVE. And it’s time they head out and find work. Here are 9 jobs I”m positive they could get if they would just try.

Interrogator. “Why why why why why why?” Over and over again. They could crack the toughest criminal in an hour. Tops. And the criminal would confess to EVERYTHING they’ve ever done in their entire lives just to make it stop.

Interpreter. This has come in handy since my kids are so close in age. You know how toddlers sometimes emphatically tell you something but you have no idea what they’re saying? Enter my daughter. “Lily, do you know what brother said?” “He said he wants to watch Tiger.” Oh. Well that was easy.

Taste Tester. They do not have any problem telling you exactly they think about the meal you put in front of them. They will spit and gag and cry if it tastes bad. They could save company’s millions on focus groups if they would just hire one toddler to try their new products.

Fashion Model. The other day I told my kids we were going to check the mail. My daughter changed clothes four times and insisted I put her hair in two ponytails. TO CHECK THE MAIL. Either she’s a model in training or there’s something going on with the neighbor boy.

Actor. There is no way my son can go from happy to horrified as fast as he does unless he has some God-given acting talent. He also has comedic timing well beyond his years. He could be the next Jonathan Taylor Thomas or whoever’s hot right now. I don’t know anything about pop culture these days.

Lawyer. My daughter came out around midnight recently and explain to me, “Mom, my bed is too small. Me too big. Me not sleep in there. BUT. Mommy and Daddy’s bed, that’s perfect. It just right for Lily to sleep in.” Pretty intense logic and argumentative skills for a three-year-old.

Wrecking Ball Operator. They don’t even need the ball. Just tell my son to go knock down a building and he will be all over it in no time.

The next Jackson Pollock. This is the only way to explain why my children insist on coloring all over EVERYTHING.

Stuntman. I’m tired of getting my son off of the bathroom counter and the dresser and consoling him when he jumps off the couch and hurts his head. These powers of his must be used for good. And a paycheck.

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Lost In Translation: Communicating With Non-Mom Friends

I love my friends who don't have kids. They remind me that I'm so much more than a mom. But... they also don't always understand what I mean when I say certain things like, "I'm so tired today."

A mom’s best friend is a fellow mom. They know exactly what you’re going through. They can offer insight into situations you’re struggling with because they’ve been through it. They can offer a hug or reassurance or a good laugh. They even understand why you interrupt them all the time. (It’s because you’re just so excited to have an adult to talk to that you blurt out whatever comes into your head regardless of who’s talking.)

And while mom friends are super important, I also value my non-mom friends. They remind me that I’m more than “just a mom” as well as how truly blessed I am to have toddler hands tugging on me every minute of the day. They see things I don’t and encourage me as an individual.

But, see, if you don’t have kids, you don’t really “get it.” You can’t understand the struggle of motherhood until you’re in the midst of the battle. Of course they try to understand, they say they understand, but until it becomes a reality, they have no idea what’s really happening. For example:

I Say: I am so tired today.

They Hear: I could use a nice, long nap.

I Mean: I want a two-week long vacation in a hotel with just HBO and a Costco-sized box of cookies as company.

 

I Say: Junior’s finally slept through the night last night.

They Hear: Junior slept 9 hours straight.

I Mean: Junior slept for three hours, woke up to nurse for a half hour, then slept another four hours. It’s a miracle!

 

I Say: Can I get you something to eat?

They Hear: Should I whip something up really quick for us to nosh on?

I Mean: Would you like a graham cracker or some fruit snacks?

 

I Say: I cannot wait until my kids go to school.

They Hear: I’m looking forward to my kids learning and growing and becoming well-rounded members of society.

I Mean: I am so excited about a couple hours of silence five days a week.

 

I Say: My kids are starting to get picky about what they eat.

They Hear: My kids don’t always eat their vegetables.

I Mean: They have somehow survived the last three days on just bread and milk.

 

I Say: I’m sorry my house is a mess.

They Hear: I haven’t gotten around to cleaning today what with being an awesome mom and all.

I Mean: Can you get me a maid for my birthday?

 

I Say: Since we’re friends, I should let you know I haven’t showered yet today.

They Hear: I haven’t showered today but I will after the kids go to bed.

I Mean: I haven’t been able to do more than wash the poop off of my hands since last Friday.

It’s not their fault; they just haven’t lived through what I have. Maybe I should have them babysit one night so they get a better idea. Or a couple weeks. I think I saw a Groupon for a short term hotel…

© 2015 Toni Hammer, as first published on Scary Mommy

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Your Grown Son Won’t Poop His Pants (And Other Things To Stop Worrying About)

Hey parents - guess what? You're spending way too much time worrying about stuff that in the long run doesn't matter. Sit back, have a laugh, and RELAX!I’m the mom of two toddlers which means I spend a lot of time worrying that my kids will never grow up. I also spend a lot of time worrying that I’m screwing up my kids, but that’s a different post altogether.

Thanks to social media and the internet and celebrities and moms at the park, I spend a lot of time feeling insecure that my kids aren’t keeping up. They should be doing more, talking more, eating more, eating less, etc. And I’ve made a decision: I’m not going to worry anymore.

And I want you, fellow parents of toddlers, to stop worrying, too. One day soon, your baby is going to grow up and they will be completely normal contributing members of society. It’s going to happen so why not take a deep breath and—yes, you guessed it— let it go. Here are just a few things we should stop worrying about today:

1. Your kid will someday learn to use the potty and won’t poop his pants forever. I’m in the process of potty training my son. He sits on the potty roughly 112 times a day with zero success. He begins peeing all over Mr. Potato Head, I rush him to the $5 IKEA potty, he sits for a second, then stands, and proclaims, “All done!” with nary a drop of urine in there. It’s frustrating, annoying, and smelly. But it won’t always be like this. Aside from a shart gone wrong, I’ve never pooped my pants as an adult and I don’t know many that have. Eventually he’ll get it and eventually I’ll be done with diapers FOREVER.

2. Your kid will someday stop using a pacifier. How many juniors in high school do you know who use a binkie while they’re taking their SATs? My guess is not many—unless it’s a double dog dare in which case more power to them. I’m the only one who isn’t concerned that my 2.5 year old still chomps on a pacifier for most of the day and it’s because I know at some point she’ll give it up. Your child will, too.

3. Your kid will someday ask to eat something other than chicken nuggets (or frozen waffles or bananas or whatever). All of us have grown to enjoy certain foods as we, and our palettes, mature. Additionally, many of us eat our vegetables even if they’re not the tastiest simply because we know it’s the right thing and the healthy thing to do. Your child is just going through a phase and eventually the musical number you perform where the carrots and broccoli do a little dance will entice your children to eat them. There will come a day and it is coming sooner than you think.

4. Your kid will someday sleep through the night on a consistent basis. I know the hot button question at the forefront of every new parent’s mind is, “When will my baby sleep through the night?” As the mom of two toddlers I can tell you that time has not come yet. But it will for both you and me. Your kids will go to sleep at bedtime and you’ll actually have to drag them out of bed in the morning to get them ready for the day. It may not be today or tomorrow, but the day is near.

5. Your kid will someday stop wanting to sleep in your bed with you. I own a queen-sized bed and lately I get to sleep on three-inches of it a night because both kids feel it necessary to sleep as close to me as possible. Last night I woke up to my son sleeping on my head. ON MY HEAD. As exhausting as it is, though, one day I will blink and they will no longer want to share my pillow with me. I need not worry.

6. Your kid will someday learn to play by themselves. I know it’s hard to believe now, but as kids get older, they will not need you to play with them every second of every day. They will color and draw and utilize Play-Doh to make accidental phallic images. They will create stories with their dolls and make their cars crash into each other—all without your presence. Right now it feels like you can’t get anything done and you’ll never be able to get anything done, but it’s not true. Hang in there.

7. Your kid will someday keep their clothes on. Unless nudity becomes a lifestyle for them, your child will one day learn that clothes need to stay on when they’re in public or when other people are around. As parents of teenagers know, some kids even learn to like clothes. A lot. Let the kid be naked if they want to—it means less laundry.

8. Your kid will someday stop hating bath time. Alright, this one may not be a given. Maybe your son will always hate taking a shower, but every group of friends needs a stinky kid, right?

My point is this: There’s a million things us parents tend to worry about, and by worrying we’re wasting that mental energy which could better be used to remember this sweet—albeit loud and messy—stage of life we’re in. So don’t worry so much. Your kids will grow up, sleep on their own, give up the binkie, and maybe be the smelly kid. They’ll grow up to love you, though, and that’s what matters most.

© 2015 Toni Hammer, as first published on Scary Mommy

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55 Thoughts I Had During My First Face Mask

I’m almost 32 and I’ve never stepped into a spa. I’ve never had a manicure or a pedicure. My muscles have never been unknotted by a masseuse and my eyebrows vaguely resemble two caterpillars mating.

Part of it is because I don’t think I need it. Part of it is that I don’t actually need it. And part of it is that all those things scare the crap out of me.

Will it hurt? Is it supposed to hurt? What do I do to maintain these things? Will the masseuse judge me for my cellulite? What color nail polish does one put on their toes?

All the things.

I decided, though, that it’s not about necessities so much as it is doing something nice for myself. And, as a mom, I am in dire need of doing nice things for myself. Allowing myself to eat nachos for dinner every night for a week had the allure of treating myself, but the imprint of my jeans’ waistband on my belly says otherwise.

So I bought this stuff.

mask1

It had me at “anti-stress.” I don’t care if rat poop was an ingredient; if it was going to take my stress away then I would gladly slather it all over my face like mayo on a sandwich.

Below you’ll find 55 of the thoughts I had before, during, and after the process… because I’m a mom and I must write all the things down.

1. How much of this stuff do I put on?

2. Well that wasn’t enough. Now I have to wash my hands and get more.

3. Can it go on my eyebrows?

4. Well it is now.

5. And it’s in my hair.

6. Why am I supposed to put this stuff on my neck? What’s wrong with my neck?

7. I missed a spot. Does anything bad happen if some of it isn’t left on for the same amount of time? Will those pores remain gigantic?

8. Okay. I’m done. Now to wash my hands…

9. I look like a seasick smurf.

10. Is it working?

mask2

11. I don’t know if it’s working. Is something supposed to be happening?

12. Stop. I just need to relax. This is something for me. Just relax.

13. How long has it been?

14. Did Lily wake up?

15. What would I do if the kids did wake up and there was an emergency and I didn’t have time to wash this stuff off? Would it just become part of my face? Would I look like a seasick smurf forever?

16. Kids are asleep. Just breathe.

17. I’m bored.

18. Is anything happening?

19. Should I be doing something right now? Maybe I should shave my legs.

20. No. Just sit here and relax. Reflect on your life.

21. On second thought, look at your phone.

22. Nothing’s happening on Facebook or Twitter.

23. Maybe I should just delete all these apps off my phone. I should live in the now.

24. Oh. I think my skin is tingling. Is it supposed to tingle?

25. Now my face feels cold. Is the window open?

26. Okay. My face feels chilly. Either the mask is doing something or I’m going crazy.

27. What is the mask actually doing anyway? What is seeping into my giant, but soon to be microscopic, pores? What have I done to myself?!

28. Huh. The chillness feels kinda good. This is nice.

29. I wonder if my husband wants to see me like this.

30. Either he was making a joke or he has a thing for smurfs. I’ll assume the former.

31. Is it dry yet?

32. Lalalala….

33. Oh! I bought People magazine. I can flip through that.

34. Who are all these people in this magazine and why don’t I know anything?!

35. That’s it. I’m getting a subscription to People for my birthday. I should know these things. Blog fodder or something.

36. I wonder if I can write off that subscription on my taxes next year.

37. I wonder if I can write off this mask stuff.

38. Oh… my skin is feeling tighter. Does that mean it’s drying?

39. Is this what an eye lift feels like?

40. Yep. Definitely feels tighter. I hope there aren’t some sort of tiny aliens in there that are tightening my skin for scientific research.

41. I guess if there are tiny aliens tightening my skin they can use me for research but they better pay me.

42. Okay. It’s dry everywhere but my neck. Should I let the neck stuff dry?

43. Who cares about my neck? Let’s get this stuff off.

44. Why are the white washcloths the only clean ones in the house?

45. If this stuff stains my washcloth I will… do nothing at all about it.

46. Rinse rinse rinse rinse. Did I get it all?

47. Missed a spot.

48. And lightly pat my face dry…

49. Well I don’t know if anything is different. I couldn’t see my pores before so how would I know?

50. Oh… my skin is so soft… that feels nice.

51. Stop touching your face. Oils are bad or something.

52. Am I still stressed?

53. No. I don’t think so. I relaxed dangit. I have no reason to be stressed. I did something for me. Good for me!

54. Wait. Yeah. I’m still stressed. But at least my skin is soft.

55. STOP TOUCHING YOUR FACE.

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9 Items I Should Be Able to Write Off on My Taxes

photo credit: Numbers And Finance via photopin (license)
photo credit: Numbers And Finance via photopin (license)

It’s tax day here in the States. People all over this country are hurriedly gathering receipts from their couch cushions and car floorboards in hopes of getting just one more deduction.

Businesses can write off all sorts of things on their taxes and I think it’s time us parents are able to do the same. Here are a few things I think Moms and Dads should get to deduct on their taxes.

Coffee. If someone can deduct mileage driving from Point A to Point B then parents should get to write off coffee which gets us from breakfast to bedtime.

Fruit snacks and other treats. Since these aren’t mandatory for nourishing our children, these would fall under “charitable donations” on our tax forms.

Clothes. Our children are required to wear these in public despite their protests. Since they are necessary, they should be deductible.

Cold medicine & vitamins. My kids have been sick roughly 491 days this year so far and I have purchased enough remedies that guests should be required to show a prescription card before entering my home. These are health expenses and shouldn’t count on my taxes.

Markers, crayons, paint, glue, etc. These are kinda sorta necessities to get through the day with toddlers and should therefore be a business expense since they allow me to do my job.

Cleaning supplies. To aid in removing markers, crayons, and paint from the walls and carpet and sheets and pillows and….

Diapers. Without these, my kids can’t do their “business” thus they are a mandatory expense.

Toys. Alright, I won’t deduct those that are just for making noise, but things like puzzles, word games, learning tools? These are devices used to make my children productive, positive members of society. Anything good enough for society should be good enough to deduct.

Booze. If one can write off things like theft loss, I should be able to write off something that helps ease the sting of losing my sanity every single day.

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I’m Leaving on a Jetplane

photo credit: Hand in Hand via photopin (license)
photo credit: Hand in Hand via photopin (license)

Thanks to the generosity of my parents, I’ll be flying home to see them for the first time in 2.5 years on Thursday. Without my husband. Or kids.

You may now take a moment to be jealous.

As the day quickly approaches I’ve begun compiling a list of things I will be doing while hanging out with my folks and twin sister in the small California beach town where I grew up. This is what I got so far.

1. Sleep

2. Eat enough Mexican food to put me into a cilantro-induced coma. Twice.

3. Sit on the couch.

4. Lie down on the couch.

5. Watch TV shows which aren’t animated or have cutesy songs.

6. Poop by myself.

7. Nap.

8. Write in silence.

9. Read in silence.

10. Shower for as long as I want.

11. Walk around barefoot without fear of stepping in pee.

12. Take the time to do my hair and make-up.

13. Have adult conversations.

14. Laugh a lot.

15. Relax.

16. Drive around with my Sissie with the radio turned up super loud while singing off-key.

17. Have I mentioned sleep?

18. Quietly contemplate where I wanna be writing-wise in the next year,

19. Breathe.

20. Miss my husband and kids.