and then this one time, I got my kid to T-ball practice

by renegademama

One of the reasons I started writing this blog is that simple, “normal” parenting tasks – ones that other people seem to complete with relative ease – completely overwhelm me. They floor me. I gotta have an outlet for this confusion, lest I finally determine that I am, in fact, fatally maladjusted and ill-equipped for life, and give up entirely.

For example: extracurricular activities. I don’t get those. I mean, I “get” them: it’s the stuff kids do outside of school.

But I don’t get them – like, how to DO THEM.

One, maybe. Extracurricular Activity. Not plural. No plural around here.

Each kid gets one.

Yeah, I know. Bad mother.

But you gotta understand the situation here. I am genuinely impressed with my parenting skills when each one of my kids is involved in a single extracurricular activity. Except Georgia. Georgia gets boob. That’s her activity.

And I’m not kidding. I feel like an over-achieving, June-Cleaver-emulating, Martha-Stewart-weeps-in-the-corner-when-she-sees-me-coming bad ass when I get Ava to softball practice. And if I’m on time? Whoa. Hold up. Somebody’s on FIRE.

I think about this sometimes when I see other people’s kids doing freaking everything. Tennis lessons, Girl Scouts, violin lessons, French lessons, karate, earth-appreciation camp, junior democrat camp, social justice grammar school league (okay I made those last two up). And I don’t get it. Do their parents have chauffeurs? Do they have house boys (I have no idea what that is, but I think I want one.). Have they discovered 5 additional hours in the day, perhaps hiding under the armoire? Are they self-employed? Are they independently wealthy? Is there something wrong with me? (well, yes, Janelle. We’ve been over that. Now move along).

I mean COME ON I can hardly get my kids to SCHOOL each day, let alone optional character-building activities.

I think it’s a bit unreasonable to set those kind of expectations.

I mean pretty much the only reason my kids make it to school every day is because I’ll get arrested if I don’t take them and I really need them to leave the premises for awhile, so I can gather my strength to face the upcoming after-school extracurricular. I can’t believe I just said that out loud.

These things sound okay on paper. Like T-ball for example. Sounds innocuous, right?. Little kids, uniforms, balls, dirt, tees. One practice on Thursdays. One game on Fridays. Yeah, alright. I’m in. It’ll be fun.

Oh NO it won’t.

They didn’t tell you that the practice is at 4pm on Thursdays, so unless you’re a stay-at-home-mom, it’s a virtual act of God to get a kid moved from school to the park at 4pm on a Thursday – which means you’ll spend every Wednesday (when it occurs to you with a pang of sorrow that tomorrow is Thursday and thus T-ball practice) calling grandparents and distant relatives and old friends who hate you, begging them to help. Games at 6pm on Fridays? Alright. Manageable. But it isn’t just a game. It’s a game that requires particular clothing, meaning you will first have to locate this clothing (“Rocket WHY are your baseball socks tied to the dog kennel in the neighbor’s yard?”) and quite possibly wash that clothing (which of course is optional. But locating them? Not optional.). And then there’s the gear. (“Where the F is the mit?”) AGAIN. And of course we’re trying to eat food before the game so nobody starves, in addition to trying to dress Rocket in a baseball uniform that doesn’t exist (while he’s rolling on the floor in hysterics after trying to lick his sister, who is now screaming because her privacy’s been violated and she has homework and doesn’t want to go the game at all and NOBODY EVER CARES ABOUT HER EVENTS!) and it’s cold on the field so dress appropriately (but “I HATE UNDERSHIRTS MAMA!”) and the baby went to the bathroom for the 3rd time today, right now, so I’m yelling at Mac to handle it but he’s making food and I’m wrestling kids. And everybody’s reeling and WHY? Why is my life sucking so badly at 5:45pm on a Friday?

Because of the damn extracurricular activity.

I know what you’re thinking. Plan better, Janelle. Make a schedule. Organize your life. Use a calendar for goodness sake. Act like a grown-up.

But the problem is, I can’t do that either.

I put things in my Blackberry calendar then never look at it again. Or I write things on the family calendar then fail to realize that today is the day indicated on the calendar. Yes, I do these things. This is me.

Hello. My name is Janelle and I am inept.

We don’t plan. We avert disaster.

Maybe my kids will resent me one day because they only got to do one thing at a time. And that’s okay. I do what I can. And once they have their own kids, suddenly facing their own limitations, they’ll realize with perfect clarity that I did the best I could, with the tools I had at the time.

Or didn’t have. As the case may be.


Hey kids! I have an idea. Let's watch T.V. in a cardboard box instead of doing extracurricular activities!

WTF? Wednesdays

by renegademama

I need a day each week to write the fancy things my kids say. That day shall be Wednesdays. I know everybody and their mother does this and I’m pretty much okay with that. And why am I okay with that? Because kids are smarter than adults.

Because they’re little Zen masters without even trying.

And because I couldn’t make this shit up.

I mean seriously, WTF?


Rocket, holding up a small white crystal, looking really annoyed: “Mama, the lady at the store said this crystal was magic, but I just asked it to turn me into a Transformer. And as you can see, I’m not a Transformer. Therefore, she lied.” Poor kid was conned.


After sending the kids to another room for a minute so we could finish an “adult” conversation, Rocket delivered me a note with a very serious face, penned by his sister: “Rocket and I do not like being discriminated against due to our age. Angrily yours, Queen Ava and Duke Rocket.”


Ava: “I know what I want to do for my science project next year.”

Me: “Really? What?”

Ava: “I’m going to test who can hold their breath the longest: adults or children.”

Me: “That’s cool, except it may be a foregone conclusion since adults are bigger than kids, they have larger lung capacity.”

Ava: “Oh, yeah. That’s alright. I’ll just use midgets.” (please forgive the politically incorrect term. I’m sure she meant to say…uh oh…wait a minute…what is the P.C. term?).


Rocket, explaining why he randomly and suddenly wet the bed after 3 years of not doing so once: “Well I thought about it and decided I was too tired to get up. Plus, it’s warm.”




so did I mention I have an infant…

by renegademama

It occurred to me that I spend a lot of time writing about Ava and Rocket and Mac and my domestic deficiencies and the laundry pile and mean people, but I rarely write anything about my 7-month-old, Georgia, other than passing mentions of her unceasing adorableness. Since I am motivated mainly by guilt and/or discomfort, I thought I’d better write one quickly before she starts getting hurt feelings through osmosis or something, as she gnaws on my laptop.

I wrote her birth story here, but there aren’t many posts devoted to her and my experience mothering her. I guess that’s kind of weird. Or maybe, since she’s my third child, it isn’t weird at all – because she’s the easy one. I know she’s just a baby, doing baby things, and really, babies are pretty simple.  Time-consuming, draining and insanely demanding? Yes. Complicated and confusing? Not so much. As long as it’s your third. With Ava, my first, I could have written 12,000 word daily blog posts about the myriad emotions, fears and anxieties I had swirling in my pretty little new mother head – but that was me struggling with becoming a mother. That was me navigating the whole thing. It had nothing to do with her. She was just being a baby, doing perfect baby things, just as she should.

And just as Georgia is doing now.

Georgia is endlessly lovely. She’s perfect. And I don’t mean that figuratively. I mean it literally – she is perfect as all babies are perfect. She isn’t old enough to irritate me with attitude or stubbornness or headstrong defiance like those two other short people in my house. She doesn’t lie or get dramatic or tie shit together or blatantly ignore me or hurt my feelings or say “whatever” when I say something I thought was pretty insightful.  She still thinks I’m funny and can’t escape when I snuggle her.  She’s a baby. She has needs and she’s vocal about it – but she doesn’t mess with my insides. Mothering her is simple: pick her up when she cries, let her nurse, change her diaper, set her down, hand her to somebody when I need a break, wash between the fat rolls. Kiss often. Smell head. Repeat.

But don’t get me wrong. She does stuff. She’s very busy.

For example, she nurses a lot. She sucks on my nose occasionally. She goes to the bathroom with startling regularity. She’s contemplating crawling but, like her siblings, is in no hurry there. She wakes up at inconvenient times, but does so smiling, delighted to see me, her face exploding with dimples and her sweet sweet breath revives me, her little legs kick in tune with her laughter and fat little hands hold my face when I get close and I’m glad she’s awake because she’s my baby. And she is perfect and that thing I was trying to do? Not important. In twelve seconds this baby will morph into a real kid and I’ll no longer be able to fix all her problems with my boob.

She has some favorite pastimes: watching her older siblings, attempting to grab sharp shiny objects with scandalous quickness, moving her tongue around her mouth. Probably her favorite game though is the “show mama’s nipple to strangers game,” where she nurses for a minute then flips her head the other way to see what her brother is up to.  If the timing is right, when she flips off, the milk will be coming down and will spray her on her cheek, and everybody at the Tee Ball game will see nipple.  It’s a win-win. This is also a favorite game of Rocket.

Rocket’s interest in my boobs and their accompanying milk is either cute or disturbing.

Let’s go with cute.

Georgia also likes saying “ra ra ra” and “bah bah bah” and “mamamamama” – but being that this is my third kid, I know those aren’t actual words. She smiles approximately 85% of the time she’s awake and that is not an exaggeration. In fact, at times it can get a little irritating. Once, when I was trying to get a good yell on with Mac and I was really pissed and trying to make a point (damnit!), she was in his arms and she was looking right into my eyes, with that locked-in, unswerving baby eye contact intensity,  just grinning grinning grinning and it took the power right out of my angry stance and attitude — frankly it made me just look like an idiot, standing there trying to be effective with a  little baby just totally not getting it, delighted by my over-dramatizations, smitten and joyful by my mere presence – smiling at her mother. Talk about putting shit into perspective.

We should do that with world leaders when they’re contemplating war. Put a few babies on the conference room table and see what they decide.

She also has some very clearly delineated likes and dislikes.

She likes being naked, taking baths, chewing on her feet and blowing raspberries. She likes her brother and sister a lot and she likes sleeping on her daddy’s chest. She likes finding things on the carpet that could choke her and lunging for them. She dislikes the most expensive baby toys in the basket. She dislikes the vacuum, which thankfully isn’t much of a problem.  She’d rather not ever have new clothes put on her, and occasionally the car seat is viewed as an unforgiving torture device, but most of the time this baby likes to smile and nurse. I don’t know why she’s so mellow. When you look at her she laughs. When anybody walks into the room she laughs. When you hold her spoon up or bring her her favorite toy she laughs. She grins so big her eyes nearly squint shut. She likes moving toys back and forth between her hands.

Oh, and she likes nursing. Did I mention that?

It’s strange, how this baby is such a wholly unique experience. If it wasn’t so damn hard, I’d recommend to all new mothers that they just quickly get babies 1 and 2 out of the way so they can get to the third, which they may actually enjoy. I cannot put into words how different it is, this third kid – because I don’t have postpartum depression and my life is more grounded and Mac and I have accepted each other’s defects and I know she’ll be okay.

And that I’ll be okay.

And that this is without a doubt the time I will reflect upon for the rest of my life when Georgia becomes Rocket, then Ava, and the baby stage? It’s alright.

It’s easy.

No, that’s the wrong word.

It’s perfect.

She’s Georgia, the baby, and I’m me, the mama.

And there’s joy in that simplicity.










19 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | March 29, 2011

what I learned this week: ducks, goldfish, and the new chef in town

by renegademama
  1. So I’m three for three when it comes to kids who prefer sitting and whining over crawling. And why do they do that? Because I hate listening to fussy baby speak and I’m in no rush to enter the crawling stage, so I pick ‘em up. When Georgia gets annoyed in a position, I move her. Or, more accurately, I yell for one of the older kids to pick her up and move her.
  2. Speaking of yelling, there’s a lot of it in my family. We are loud bunch of people. I don’t love this, but I’m probably the loudest, which makes it tough for me to propagate redwood-forest calm around here. Or even medium noise. It’s pretty much ear-piercing riotous racket, all the time, in every room of this house. If you stay here long enough, it kinda just becomes a background hum.
  3. Sometimes, when I drink too much coffee, I get all jittery and start speaking in weird choppy sentences. Totally worth it though.
  4. I don’t think there’s anything sweeter than listening to a 5-year-old play little imagination games, making up conversations between the Lego men, talking to himself, lost in his world, when he thinks nobody’s listening. I will MISS THAT when it’s gone.
  5. I don’t think there’s anything less sweet than competitive 3rd-grade science fairs. Competitiveness and worksheets are pushing me to the brink of pulling my kids out of school. For the duration. I’m not really the home school type, but I may become one quickly.
  6. From the bathtub, if you squirt water out of the rubber ducky really hard at the toilet paper, you can make the roll spin and the paper fall down. Then, you can shoot the paper with the water from the duck, which is really fun, because it makes little wet blobs of toilet paper stick to the wall behind it. (Thanks, Rocket, for this one.)
  7. On a similar note, goldfish can survive really extreme circumstances. I finally cleaned the fish bowl this week. There was only about 2 inches of water left in the bowl, all of which was green and seemingly uninhabitable. The fish though seemed fine.
  8. You’ve probably observed this by now, but I make fun of everybody, indiscriminately, including myself. For fun. I have a sneaking suspicion this is going to get me into trouble someday with somebody, or a lot of people. I try not to care, but there’s a piece of me seeking approval and acceptance from everybody, just a little, and no matter how hard I try to be grown-up and independent and shit, there’s a very quiet voice in my head that says “Oh no, Janelle, don’t say that, people may not like you. You shouldn’t write that.” But for some reason I say it and write it anyway, and I always have, but I still have that strange teenaged insecurity. It’d be great if that would go away.
  9. I think I underestimate the capability of my 9-year-old. For my birthday, she went to my mother-in-laws house and put together a birthday party for me (I’m 32 tomorrow). She cooked spaghetti & meatballs herself, set the table herself, and made the cake – all with minimal oversight and direction from her grandma. It may have been the loveliest birthday I’ve ever had.
  10. My daughter will be cooking more meals around this place.
  11. I absolutely love writing this blog. It’s been in me for a long, long time and I love you people for reading it and for “getting it,”…so #8 has a bit less power. So thanks.
12 Comments | Posted in weeks of mayhem | March 27, 2011

How to Get 86’d from a Waldorf Mother’s Group (in 10 minutes or less)

by renegademama

I don’t know how this information is helpful. Or useful at all, to anybody. But you never know.

At any rate, here is a fool proof plan for getting kicked out of a Waldorf mother’s group in 10 minutes or less. If you try it, please let me know what happens. Please. No really, don’t forget.

  1. Pull up to the play group with your baby in a giant Graco “travel system,” preferably in gender-appropriate colors and themes (e.g. blue with boats or pink with flowers).
  2. If your baby is a girl, make sure she has one of those huge fake flower bands on her head and a polyester zebra-print shirt.
  3. Obviously, use disposable diapers and wear a lot of make-up.
  4. Dress your toddler girl in a Dora the Explorer shirt, Barney pants and Disney Princess shoes (the ones that light up). Let her play with your cell phone.
  5. Dress your boy in G-I Joe gear and give him a metal light-up gun to play with. Instruct him to ask the other boys if they want to play “WWF wrestling” with him.
  6. Within 5 minutes, prop a bottle of formula up in the baby’s mouth, keeping her in the stroller.
  7. Place a piece of bark next to your toddler. When she picks it up, run over and declare “Honey! Yuck! Don’t play with that – dirty dirty!” Take it away from her and chuck it, then hand her a brightly-colored toy out of a McDonald’s happy meal.
  8. Make little gagging sounds and pretend to vomit a little when the other mothers bring out their kids’ gluten-free raw-goat-milk barley walnut muffin.
  9. Immediately after, eat the McDonald’s happy meal. Feed it to your kids.
  10. Bring Twinkies and Cheetos to share.
  11. As a conversation piece, invite the other mothers to join your Book Club, excitedly telling them you’ll be featuring the writings of John McCain, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Pailin. Then ask which local day care is the least expensive and open the longest, explaining that since you work full time for the NRA, you need a reliable and cheap babysitter.
  12. If your baby starts crying, leave her there for a few minutes. Or a long time. If she persists, give her a pacifier.
  13. When your kid misbehaves, tell him that if he doesn’t shape up you’re going to take away his Nintendo DS and limit his Playstation time to 5 hours a day.
  14. And finally, dump a giant bag of florescent noise-making T.V. character plastic crap toys – all Made in China and purchased from Walmart –in the center of the children’s drum circle, exclaiming “Wouldn’t you like to have one of these rather than that silly Amish Maplewood toy?” Watch the kids’ eyes light up.

Then run like hell. Cause they’re gonna slaughter you. Well, they would if they weren’t such pacifists.

To avoid pro-Waldorf backlash, I've included this picture of my baby playing with an over-priced Waldorf wooden teething ring, so you know I'm just PLAYIN. P.S. I hate Disney character items and light-up shoes and Cheetos. No, I don't hate Cheetos.