If Hell exists, then I’m almost positive it includes an eternity of eating dinner with a toddler.

Only a year ago the Muffin Man was eating everything I put in front of him except avocado. If you can make it in a home kitchen, there’s a good chance he ate it with gusto. The kid gobbled up Gumbo, binged on Bulgogi (the spicier the better), and scarfed down Shrimp Scampi. I prided myself on his advanced palate, and secretly gloated when other Moms would complain about their children only eating mac and cheese and toast. I thought for sure that Noah’s wide-ranging culinary tastes were due entirely to my having made all of his baby food and our feeding him a varied diet from a young age. I was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that my son would never become picky, and I refused to believe people when they told me that even the most adventurous child would stop eating everything.

In other words, I was a complete and utter idiot.

Based on my own experience, I can tell you that there is a unique food pyramid for toddlers, and it most definitely does not include leafy greens or legumes.

Pasta. Not just any pasta, mind you. It must be penne. Not fusilli, not spaghetti, not zitti, just penne. The penne must be served plain, with no sauce, no butter, and nothing green. Even a speck of green will throw the entire meal into a tail spin and ensure that your toddler jumps up from the table and runs away screaming as though he spotted the Loch Ness Monster in his pasta bowl. Sometimes, when the toddler diner is in an adventurous mood, he will want parmesan cheese on top of his pasta. If that’s the case it must be shredded, not grated, and certainly none of that crap in the green can passing itself off as cheese when it is really “cheese product.” Even picky toddlers have standards, woman.

Bread. They say that bread is the food of life, and toddlers 100% subscribe to this belief. Bread is delicious and should be served with every meal and, in many cases, instead of a meal. The less nutritional value the bread has, the better. Don’t try to serve any of that Ezekial bread that has seeds and other “weird” ingredients, because your toddler will go agro on your ass. Challah is preferable to anything else, but white trash Wonder Bread will be eaten in a pinch, as will any wheat bread containing sugar and other preservatives.

Dairy. Toddlers don’t care if you think it is unnatural for humans to eat the milk of other mammals, because dairy is freaking delicious. Cheese, yogurt, ice cream and cream cheese are the ingredients for a perfect meal. The more dairy, the better, especially if it comes in the form of butter that can be licked off of a perfectly good piece of healthy bread. In fact, butter eaten by the spoonful is the best breakfast when your parents attempt to feed you disgusting things like eggs or oatmeal.

Sugar. Anything that contains copious amounts of sugar must be consumed immediately. Your toddler thinks it is bullsh*t that you don’t have cookies and cupcakes in your home at all times, and he considers it a personal affront that his candy consumption is confined to Halloween and birthday parties thrown by parents who are irresponsible enough to stuff their pinatas full of M&M’s. Toddlers are genetically engineered to throw loud tantrums when denied a sugar-filled substance in public places, and they make it their personal mission to seek out processed food items filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup and other poisonous substances sure to stunt their growth. Don’t even bother to attempt to pass off a healthy cupcake/muffin/cookie as a treat, because your toddler knows the difference and does not accept substitutions.

Restaurant food. Food that your toddler refuses to eat at home is greeted excitedly when served to him at a restaurant. Meatballs? Chicken? Eggplant? Every single one of these items is scarfed down with relish when eating out. No plain penne pasta here – serve up a giant bowl of spaghetti with meatballs, and the kid is sure to lick the plate clean. Trying to get your kid to eat vegetables, and getting nowhere? Treat your offspring to dinner at the local sushi joint and look on in amazement as he ingests cucumbers, edamame, and avocado without complaint.

And that, my friends, is why the Food Pyramid for parents includes a significant portion of alcohol.

This post was originally featured on Anna Lane’s blog, Misadventures in Motherhood. Featured image via.

It seems to me that in life, a person should be able to count on a few things to be true: your mother and the deliciousness of a chocolate croissant.

Other than that, all bets are off.

The problem is that we all get caught-up in the mind-numbing illogic of rumors, advertising, old wives tales, people we want to impress, love, hatred, apathy… google search results. You get my drift.

Well, this is never more evident than when we are young. My youth was filled with bad information, some of which I even believed. Some of it I defended. Some of it I got employment from. Some of it took me out on the town.

Here is a list of out and out lies the 1970’s told us all:

That your grandmother’s cooking was too rich for good health. LIE. Turns out that Grandma was using fresh and whole foods. Grandma didn’t use any ingredients she couldn’t pronounce. Grandma was pretty smart.

That the USA would commit for now and all time to developing space exploration. LIE. Someone forgot to tell JFK about the future expense of a Global Economy, not to mention expanding social services, a weapons race, and the true desire of the population: an expansion of direct streaming cable networks because that’s what’s really important.

Going braless was liberating and beautiful. LIE. More like a idea that could have only come from the mouths of youthful perky boobs without a thought for the results at midlife. Dear God, Woodstock be damned.

Women could have it all. LIE. First of all, what did that mean? Certainly no one in their right mind was suggesting that women should be superhuman and that if they didn’t bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan while nursing a child with one hand and giving a hand*** with the other she wasn’t living up to her full and Universal potential? Nahhhh. No one did that.

Free Love was without consequences. LIE. Unless, of course, you value your health and actually toyed with the idea that you should at least know someones name before you received an STD.

All people are equal. LIE. They are not, but they should receive equal protection, equal initial advantage, equal Rights. What I want to yell at someone about is why I’m not aging like Heidi Klum? Who do I see about that?

Misunderstood, seemingly half-baked Medical advancements would lead to cloning. LIE. Remember that? When LIFE magazine did that article on Dolly the Sheep that said stem cell research would lead to a world full of human robots, because really, could any of us stand more Heidi Klum beauty in the world? (I’m on a Klum kick today).

Traveling was best when done on the cheap– more wholesome, more real. LIE. Book a room at a 5-star and call me.

Vitamin supplements could cure anything. LIE. And yet we still purchase them by the pound. We are a hopeful bunch.

Sun tanned skin was healthy and desirable. Even younger. LIE. Have you seen my skin?

Formal education was unnecessary. LIFE was the best teacher. LIE. This was espoused by young hippie parents who were on the dole from their hardworking parents. Come to think of it….

The Beatles would reunite. LIAR. LIAR. PANTS ON FIRE! But wouldn’t it have been loverly?


This post was originally featured on Cheryl Nicholl’s blog, A Pleasant House. Featured image via.

I realize not everyone has the distinct pleasure of living in a place where you get projectile vomited on with the white stuff before winter has barely started. But I do. Which gives me the qualifications to get my bitch on.

I have lived in the Northeast for about 40 of my nearly 48 years of life. Which is a strange choice seeing that I have no outdoor winter skills to speak of whatsoever. I don’t ski, I can’t stand up on a pair of ice skates, and snowboarding? The thought makes me hyperventilate and I’m not even claustrophobic. I used to be able to build a mean snowman, but I lost that skill somewhere around 1982.

With that being said, I usually don’t mind a good snowstorm. As long as I have a bottle of my favorite wine, some french fries and working WiFi. Which, by the way, can be touch and go if the storm is bad enough.

But something happened to me this year. I snapped. And I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m just about ready to join the Snowbirds in Florida. Hell, they have it right with their afternoon cocktails, early bird specials and bed by 8pm.

Also, I realized the other day that I was in dire need of some sunshine when, while watching television, I paused the TV on a commercial advertising an island vacation and I put my face up to the screen to get a dose of some Vitamin D. Just so you know, it didn’t work so don’t bother.

Anyway, I’ve devised a list of why I just can’t take it anymore. It wasn’t hard to come up with.

1. Static.

If I get shocked one more f***ing time when I touch anything, I will kill something. Same thing goes for my flying hair, sticking clothes and the blankets on my bed. Every time I move, I fear going up in flames. It’s a good thing I’ve got 911 on speed dial.

2. Slipping.

I wonder how many people wind up in the emergency room this time of year? I swear Mother Nature and the medical industry are in cahoots. It doesn’t matter how careful I am, it’s a constant struggle to keep myself in the upright position when I venture out-of-doors. It may look funny but it doesn’t feel funny because I’m not laughing.

3. Mud and slush.

It’s on my car. My coat. My shoes. The back of my pants, my butt (okay, so that’s when I do #3). There are footprints all over my house, and that’s after everyone has taken off their shoes at the door.

4. Piles of snow.

Every-freaking-where. The piles are so big, I can’t see around or over them. I run the risk of getting slammed by a car because I can’t see it coming. And space is running low. What I like the best is when you ricochet off of one of these guys. Last time I checked, I wasn’t living in a county fair on a bumper car ride. If I was, it’d be warm out. And I’d be happy.

5. Cold.

The cold is permeating through the windows and doors as if there are no windows and doors. Making my oil bill go through the roof. My house isn’t built like Alcatraz. Even if it was, I don’t think it would help.

6. No school.

Please. Just go to school. Enough said.

7. Dry everything.

The mucus in my nose has hardened up so bad from the dry air that I need a chisel to remove it. The skin on my heels so sharp, I’m afraid I’ll stab my husband to death in our sleep. The skin on my legs flaking so much that I can feed the entire population of bed bugs. Yeah, that was gross. The truth is ugly.

8. The prep.

It takes a half hour to get ready to go outside. And although you are wearing a t-shirt, a long sleeved shirt, a sweater, leggings, jeans, your parka, a hat, scarf, gloves, two pairs of socks and boots so big and heavy it’s almost impossible to walk, you still run the risk of hypothermia.

9. Shoveling.

Although shoveling does burn a lot of calories, the process is a major pain in the ass. After you get dressed (see #8) you have to fight to stay upright (see #3) and then have nowhere to put it (see #4).

10. Not enough sun.

Wait. What? What is the sun again and where does it come from?
So there you have it. I’m sure there is more but I’m too depressed to think any more. I’m going to go sit under my desk lamp and pretend I’m in Cancun. Or hibernate like a bear.

P.S. – After the writing of this post, our furnace died. I believe it tried to hibernate as well. What sucks worse than winter? Having no heat when it’s 7 degrees outside.

This post was originally featured on Maureen Morin’s blog, Momfield. Featured image via.

In what is the second part of a series by Life as a Rambling Redhead, we’re given highly scientific and world renown information regarding how to pair your various selections of high-class wine with the bad attitude of your child. 

This research speaks to our mom souls. It’s what we’ve been waiting for all of these years! For so long, we’ve had to bite our tongues and pray to the parent gods for patience and wisdom in those moments where our child was cursed with a wretched temper tantrum. We’ve suffered humiliation in the grocery store, airplane rides of pure hell, and peaceful family dinners interrupted by the beast that is a bad ‘tude. We are #blessed and #grateful for this post, which has nuggets of perfect pairings such as:

1. Pair Zinfandel with a hormonal preteen.

If you spent your entire day combating dramatic meltdowns and explaining to your moody middle schooler why life just isn’t fair, then we recommend throwing back a glass or four of Zinfandel. Studies show that the berry aroma and high tannins of this wine pair perfectly with the salty tears of hormonal children. This wine also has a very high alcohol content, which is an absolute must after the day you’ve had. Berries are delicious and heavenly, Madison’s hormones are repulsive and freakin’ dreadful.

2. Rose goes great with the human fecal matter that is stuck in your carpet.

If you spent a good portion of your day trying to convince a little human to excrete into a toilet or had to pick up poop-balls off of your used-to-be-clean carpet, then a Rose wine will taste amazing to you this evening. Rose has been described as delicate and refreshing, unlike potty-training which has been described as absolute tortuous hell on earth. This wine is said to be best chilled, but we recommend not wasting time with this extra step. Consume immediately whether warm or chilled, the professionals are certain that you won’t care either way.

3. Pair a Pinot Grigio with the excessive use of the word “No”.

If you have the word “NO” embedded in your brain due to your entire family’s over-use of the word, then Pinot Gris needs to be your wine of choice this evening and possibly the rest of the year. Pinot Gris primary fruit flavors tend to be pear, apple, and melon which are said to taste sweet and joyful on the tongue. The word “NO” that you and your small baby beasts throw at each other all day long tastes like irritating, repetitive poison when on your tongue. Sipping blissfully on a glass of Pinot will definitely help drown out this obnoxious word, at least until the next morning. Pinot Grigio? NO YES. (via).

Check out both lists at Jennifer Todryk’s hilarious blog.

Featured image via.

If we’re having a brutally honest conversation with ourselves, we’ll find that the women who are both mothers and successful professionals do not have a typical life. They seem to be either rich, superheroes, or business owners. 

In a recent essay, Anne-Marie Slaughter gives an extremely candid look at the idea of women “having it all.” Slaughter is the president of the New America Foundation and the Bert G.  Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. She was previously the director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department and the dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. (via)

She writes of her own struggles with balancing a top-level career, and having two sons.

I still strongly believe that women can ‘have it all'(and that men can too). I believe that we can ‘have it all at the same time.’ But not today, not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured. My experiences over the past three years have forced me to confront a number of uncomfortable facts that need to be widely acknowledged—and quickly changed. (via). 

The bottom line is change needs to be made. We can spout statistics and numbers all day long, swap horror stories about past experiences, and complain constantly, but true and lasting change only comes when we decide to do something about it. Anne-Marie Slaughter is paving the way by being brutally honest.

I realize that I am blessed to have been born in the late 1950s instead of the early 1930s, as my mother was, or the beginning of the 20th century, as my grandmothers were. My mother built a successful and rewarding career as a professional artist largely in the years after my brothers and I left home—and after being told in her 20s that she could not go to medical school, as her father had done and her brother would go on to do, because, of course, she was going to get married. I owe my own freedoms and opportunities to the pioneering generation of women ahead of me—the women now in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who faced overt sexism of a kind I see only when watching Mad Men, and who knew that the only way to make it as a woman was to act exactly like a man. To admit to, much less act on, maternal longings would have been fatal to their careers.

But precisely thanks to their progress, a different kind of conversation is now possible. It is time for women in leadership positions to recognize that although we are still blazing trails and breaking ceilings, many of us are also reinforcing a falsehood: that “having it all” is, more than anything, a function of personal determination. (via). 

For the full article, visit The Atlantic.com.

One show I love to watch is House Hunters. I’m not sure why I enjoy watching people searching for a new home. It could be my nosy-nature, wanting to see what other people have (and can afford). The other part is wanting to see what I like and don’t like in homes. Just watching the show clarifies what I want in our next home. Since we plan to buy a new home this fall, I find myself watching House Hunters a lot! Lucky for me, I can watch the show on Netflix. How handy is that?

The part of the show that annoys me most are the buyers themselves. They drive me nuts! So many of the buyers seem to want perfection. I have to wonder if the producers of the show ask the buyers to be hypercritical or are they really that way?

I guess I don’t see myself as that persnickety about a home. I realize that the only perfect home that will have everything you ever want is the one you custom design and build yourself. I wonder, at times, if any of the buyers on house hunters realize that themselves. After watching the show for years (and on Netflix), I’ve come up with a list of reasons why the buyers on House Hunters drive me nuts.

1. Unusual requests

I’m not sure how common this is, but I find it humorous when a buyer on the shows insists on finding a home with a very specific and “unusual” request. How many homes really have a wall of windows at the back of the home? How many people really want to have their homes facing a specific direction (and is it really that important)?

2. Stainless steel

I swear that House Hunters is driving the sales of stainless steel appliances. By watching the show, you would think that the only good appliance is a stainless steel appliance. I’ve actually seen couples say, “Oh, these appliances need to be updated because they aren’t stainless steel.” An assumption exists that all new appliances are stainless steel. Guess what? Not so much. You can buy appliances that are white, black, or stainless steel. Just because it isn’t stainless steel doesn’t mean it is an old appliance. (Oh, and it’s pretty easy to buy the appliances you want later.)

Also, for once, I’d love to see a couple walk into a kitchen filled with stainless steel and quip, “Ugh. Stainless steel? It’s so hard to keep clean and with our kids, it would become a full-time job. I wish the appliances were black (or white).”

3. The colors are awful!

Unless a home’s walls are nothing but wallpaper (a big fix, I’ll admit), I will never understand someone rejecting a home because of paint colors. The groans from buyers on the show, “Oh, I can’t stand the colors of the house,” leaves me wanting to slap them. Paint is a cosmetic issue. Just repaint the rooms in the colors you want.  Heck, even wallpaper is just cosmetic. It does need more work than repainting does, but I can’t imagine a simple cosmetic issue ever being a deal breaker.

4. Flooring

I’ll admit that I love wood floors! They are gorgeous! I just can’t see ruling out a home because they don’t have wood floors. While it’s expensive to add wood floors, the flooring is a cosmetic issue. It can be changed. Unless the buyers live in a community where most homes have wood flooring, I find this statement to be annoying. Oh, and this goes for someone who only wants carpet or tile (although, honestly, I hate tile and can’t understand wanting a home with floors made of only tile. Yuck!).

5. Granite counter tops

Most of the buyers on the show seem to turn their nose up on any home that does not have granite counter tops. Is granite nice? Sure. Is it the only counter top available? Nope. Counter tops are a cosmetic item that can be changed later.

6. Must be on the beach!

My husband’s biggest pet peeve is when a buyer is looking for a home in a coastal area and insists on living on the beach. Of course, these couples usually don’t have the budget for a view as well as their long wish list of must-haves (granite, stainless steel, wood floors, etc), and they get irritated when they aren’t shown the perfect home on the beach.

What I find amusing is when they are told it is a 5-minute walk to the beach and that isn’t good enough either. I always find myself asking, “Really? You need to be more realistic”

7. Man-cave

I talked about it once before, but I will never understand the obsession with man-caves. A male buyer, usually with his wife or girlfriend, will keep pestering the real estate agent saying, “Well, it needs to have a place for my man-cave.” I keep thinking to myself, “Get over yourself.”

8. Too close to the neighbors

Unless you live on a lot of acreage, you will be living next to your neighbors. I’ll admit to seeing some homes where it looks like the houses are only 50 feet away from each other and thinking, “hell, no!” Those homes are the exception on the show, though. Most buyers that complain about being too close to their neighbors do so when looking at homes in a suburb. Basically, all they can see is all their neighbors yards. If they want to be isolated from neighbors, perhaps they need to look at homes in a rural environment.  If you are looking in the suburbs (or city), you will see your neighbors. Duh!

9. No character or charm

I love older homes. I do. I’d love to live in an old Victorian home. However, when house hunting, I’ve never walked into a home thinking, “Oh there is no character to this home,” like you hear so often on House Hunters. You would think the buyers were looking for old homes. Nope. So many of them are looking for a move-in ready home, perfect in every way, that also has charm and character. I’d love to point out the them that how they decorate their home often adds more charm and character than the home itself (unless the home is an older home, of course).

10. Specific style homes

While I do love Victorian homes, I’ve never gone to a real estate agent demanding that he or she only show me Victorians. Yet, on House Hunters, you will hear the buyers say, “I really want a craftsman.” Then, when the agent shows them something other than a craftsman, the buyer will complain, “I wish I could like this but it isn’t a craftsman.” Really? Is this a thing? Do people really demand only one style home? I can understand preferring a look or even a floor plan but I can’t imagine ruling out a house because it isn’t a specific architecture style.

11. “This is slightly over your budget.”

Last, but not least comes from the real estate agents themselves. When looking at homes, I can see an agent showing a home slightly over your budget because the home price is often negotiable. Yet, time and again, real estate agents on the show will say, “This home is slightly over your budget,” then show a price substantially over the budget. This is particularly true with rental homes. The budget will be $1000/month. The agent will show them a rental costing $1400 (40% over the budget). It makes me think that these agents have no clue what the word “slighty” actually means.

While these statements and actions from the buyers (and real estate agents) drive me nuts when I watch House Hunters, I can’t help but continue to watch. Now that the show is on Netflix, I can watch even more. Yay, me!

This post was originally featured on Denise Geelhart’s blog. Featured photo via.