In Which Julie Locks Up the Bunny Crackers


Here’s how we eat in our house. When we feel like it, we eat something. Occasionally it looks like a meal, mostly it looks like snacks in the living room. Andrew’s work schedule is kind of random, so dinners are never a sure thing. We’re none of us hungry at the same time in the morning, and we are just not structured people, so…eh. So when Audrey starts her day saying, “Ea’? Ea’?” we give her something to eat and keep doing it every time she feels like food. Which is often. It never stops her from eating a respectable meal when they do come around, and she’s amazing at eating almost every kind of food put in front of her.

But I’m a person who never met a Not Broken I didn’t want to Fix.

It started with getting really annoyed at being harassed for food all day long. I couldn’t really make a case for arbitrarily saying no to the kid. I mean, there was no special time to wait for. So I would hop up a hundred times a day to grab crackers, or a banana, or a slice of roast beef. More and more it was just snack food from a box. Oops. Weren’t we all supposed to be eating things that were more…food? And again, super annoying to be her personal vending machine.

Then I started re-reading Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. It served as a good reminder of the many benefits of not getting what you want when you want it all day long. I started to fantasize about having a toddler I could happily take to a restaurant. Maybe I didn’t have to shovel my own food in as fast as possible so I’d be ready to chase her around the restaurant when she got antsy. Maybe I didn’t have to pack three emergency snacks to run an errand. Maybe my wee baby was actually a young person who could learn patience.

And, uh, maybe I could learn these things too.

So yesterday we became a house with mealtimes. We picked a time for dinner we thought Andy could be home for at least 2 or 3 times a week. Audrey got one little bowl of cereal to snack on when she got up in the morning while Andy and I drank coffee. At 9:00 we had breakfast. As soon as she starting asking for food – you know, two seconds later – I told her we would wait for lunch. I had to repeat it a lot but it was no big deal. When lunchtime arrived, she was “‘Cited!” (Excited!) She had a nap, we did our one official snack at 3:30 and dinner at 7 when Andy came home (“‘Cited!”). And I tell you, we were both so much more relaxed all day long. I was so happy I wasn’t her snack bitch, and she was so happy she didn’t have to be in charge of food anymore. We both ate actual food, and never touched the boxes upon boxes of snack food in this house.

I might have to start doing some more of this “parenting” thing.


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An Audrey Lexicon


In the interest of keeping friends, relatives, and caregivers up to date with the local dialect.



Baaa   Banana


Baw  granola bar, cereal bar, anything in bar form


Ceeyah   cereal


Cheeka Boom Boom? CHEEKA BOOM BOOM?!?!?  Would you be so kind as to read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to me?


Emmo?  Stop pretending the Elmo DVD doesn’t exist. I see it right there.


Gen?  Let’s do that again. Most charmingly used after kissing someone on the cheek.


I duck   I am stuck


Mewoh  I have no idea, but Audrey says it a lot lately.


Moo-ee/Tee   I would like to watch a motion picture./ I would like to watch TV.


Nigh-night?!  I don’t really want to go to bed; I just think it’s funny to hear you say “No” to it. Alternatively: Dear Lord, I’m exhausted. Why aren’t you putting me to bed?


NO WA TO! NO WA TO! NO WA TO!  I would not be interested in partaking of that particular activity, thank you very much.


Po-ee  I have to go potty. Alternatively: I just peed in the potty. Or: I just went potty; guess where.


Sauce   Applesauce, flavored applesauce, or any fruit/veggie puree in a pouch


Shek/Donkey   I would like to watch Shrek.


Soo? Yamas!  Remember, like, a month ago when we went to the children’s zoo and saw llamas? Seriously, you need to take me back there.


Supah Why?!?!   I would like to watch Super Why. Alternatively, I would like to eat Alpha Bits, as Super Why is on the box.


Uh-weah  underwear


Zhozh  I would like to watch/read Curious George













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Audrey at the Wedding


Am not validly sick anymore. Have no excuse not to tell stories!

We went to a wedding on Saturday. I had to wake the child from her nap to go and it was guilt-inducing. She complained, she rolled over and fought hard to go back to sleep but her evil mother just started taking her clothes off and re-dressing her. It felt so wrong. I’ve spent so much of my life trying desperately to preserve her sleep and to willingly wrench her from that sweet, much-needed slumber…

But it was for cake. One must make any moral sacrifice necessary for cake.

“Cake! Hooway!” the child would exclaim in the car later, now understanding her pain had purpose.

But first, the wedding. Audrey was still dazed enough to be totally cool through the ceremony. I, however, got misty. Nothing doesn’t make me tear up anymore, and I love me some holy wedlock. Kid only got antsy toward the end, and when I stood her up on the pew to see better, she took one look at the cross at the front of the church and yelled, “Coss!”

“Yes, baby, that’s a cross,” I tried to say very calmly and quietly.

She held her arms out to it. “Hode it?” she asked. Hahahaha. No, child, you cannot hold the giant cross affixed to the wall.

She was well rewarded for her patience at the reception. Two great friends to play with, six kinds of cake, and plenty of dancing. She could not resist the dance floor. And she could care less if any of us were there with her. She danced in her own world, with an intense focus. We had to pull her off the floor against her will at the end of the night. She had that haunted-exhausted look in her eyes and could barely hold herself up, but she did not want to stop dancing for anything in the world.

I wish I had a picture for you, but I was too busy falling in love with her some more.

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Non-Hippie Reasons to Be a Hippie Parent


I had never heard of “Attachment Parenting” until the first time I went to pick up my raw, grass-fed milk from the farm. Which is pretty funny for someone who just said, “pick up my raw, grass-fed milk from the farm.” The dairy farmer told me she taught Attachment Parenting classes and I could not fathom what that was. Who doesn’t attach to their children? I could only picture a group of students with children clinging to their bodies throughout the day like baboons or something. Which, again, isn’t that all of us?


Well, I eventually became pregnant and learned all about Attachment Parenting. People, it is ALL THE RAGE. And it all sounds so natural, and moral, and beautiful, getting all bonded to your child and making their world gentle and kind, and a little like you had better Sacrifice Yourself Completely for the Sake of the Children, won’t somebody think of the children???


The good news is that all this stuff the AP people and warm, fuzzy, natural, connected parents recommend, yes it’s all great for the world and the children and peace, love, and understanding, but I guarantee you don’t have to give a crap about any of that for this stuff to benefit YOU. Yes, actually YOU. There need be no martyrdom on this ship, people. Hmmm. I’m starting to notice a theme in my writing: how to be as self-serving a parent as possible while technically doing really great things for your children. I wonder how long I can make that work. Well. Let’s go:



There are about infinity number of reasons breastfeeding is great for your heath and your baby’s, and that if you don’t have too much working against you, it’s totally worth a damn fine effort to do it. BUT. One important thing often left out of the “pro” column  is that breastfeeding is really great for lazy people. Think about it. Do you really want to plod to the kitchen in the middle of the night to whip up a bottle of crazy expensive formula while a tiny person is screaming at you? Boobs: right there, right temperature, right price.



Sharing a bed with a kid sounds insane to a lot of people and there’s been plenty of propaganda against it, but we all kind of do it every now and again in some fashion, even if it’s just for a nap, or for that last hour in the morning. There is no reason, if you do it safely, that it can’t be common practice if it works for you. There were a couple of stretches of time in our kid’s life when we all slept better if we were in bed together. There were times we did better apart. Do yourself a favor and do whatever helps everyone sleep as painlessly as possible.



Literally attaching your child to your person, by way of wrap, sling, or other carrier does wonders. You can run around with free hands. You won’t kill yourself carrying an ever-heavier car seat. You can turn a cantankerous baby or toddler into a calm (or unconscious) one in no time flat. It’s like putting them back in the womb and it’s good for everyone.


Cloth Diapering

Enviornment Schmenviornment. My interested in cloth diapers started the first second pregnant me looked at the price of disposables. Go cloth and you can save a grand or two with one kid, no fooling. Also: surprisingly less gross. Look, you’re going to become good friends with your baby’s poop no matter what but at least cloth holds the sloppy ones in better. And paper diapers smell weird, and have a weird texture, and I hate them anytime I use them. Parents who go cloth weirdly enjoy diapering. It’s a thing. Course it could be because they are WICKED CUTE:


Water birth

I don’t even know but I think it’s a thing, with good, strong, natural reasons like it being an easier transition for the baby to be born underwater or something. Don’t know, don’t care. You know why I had a water birth? Cause that’s where I was. The Jacuzzi was COMFY, you guys, it made labor suck a little less. By the time my kid came out of me, I wouldn’t have been anywhere else. I’m sure there are a lot of benefits to being in certain positions you can better achieve on land, but it’s like sex, okay? I don’t always want to have to focus my strength and energy on extraneous stuff; sometimes I want to lie back and go along for the ride.


Follow Your Own Instincts

Don’t do anything I say. Who am I to tell you what to do? That has to be the ultimate hippie parenting answer, doesn’t it? I mean, really? Don’t let anyone bully you into any parenting choices, no matter what they are. No one on the planet knows how to parent your kid better than you.

But come to me anytime you think you need to justify doing what you want to do. I’m super good at it!

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Whining about a Cold


We’ve been sick for over a week. Just a cold we can’t kick, so we’re not desperately suffering, but we’re fairly annoyed and unhappy. No work for Andy, no preschool for the baby, no hanging at the coffee shop and writing for me. I don’t know how I managed to work my shift Saturday because today I finally had to go out into the world to scavenge for food and it made me angry. Couldn’t give you a good reason, other than I was exhausted and unfed and  HOW MANY BAGS OF CHICKEN NUGGETS DO I HAVE TO LOOK THROUGH BEFORE I FIND ONE MADE OF CHICKEN????

There have been some perks, though. All last week my husband was home with me! It was like a vacation, only where everybody’s miserable and watching non-stop TV. Also, the kid and I were trapped at my folks’ house in the very beginning because I jacked up some nerve in my neck and had to stay longer because I couldn’t drive the car home. I think that was too many “becauses.” But my mommy came home from work with drugs and treats and took care of me! I MISS THAT!

Good thing I’ve had TV to take care of my kid this week at home.



I don’t think the angle’s great from down there but whatever.

The poor baby keeps singing the “Friends” song from her school and asking about them. She talks about the zoo and her best friend she went there with. She looks out the window and talks about the little girl across the street. Poor little imprisoned baby. Don’t even let her see a picture of a swing: her agony is heartbreaking.

Me, I feel myself comfortably sinking into a permanent existence in my jammies on the couch clutching my Kindle. It’s only that child who actually wants to BE ALIVE ruining it for me.

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Home Economics and the Selfish Parent


I’ve been thinking about economics lately. No, really! Okay, sort of.


First, listen to this:


Are you done? No, you’re not. You didn’t listen. That’s okay. It took me a couple of toddler naptimes over a couple of days but it was totally worth it. It’s an hour-long podcast of a bunch of economists talking parenting. And a lot more fun than it sounds. The sum-up is thus (and here I’m also including stuff I read in a book by podcast contributor Bryan Caplan called Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun than You Think): Twin and adoption studies have shown us that the way we raise our kids has far less influence on who they are going to be than we wish it did. Health, level of education, income, general happiness, even how law-abiding they are – these things are going to be what they’re going to be regardless of how we parent them.


Wait, what? What we do doesn’t matter? Well, no, not completely. Parental influence is seen in behavior (at least temporarily), smoking and drinking, and general kindness. Kids remember absolutely forever how warm and kind their home life was (or wasn’t). Parents influence what religion their kids identify with (though not how much they partake of religious activities) and how soon their daughters have sex. Fascinating.


But that’s about it.


How we raise them doesn’t get them more education, doesn’t make them richer, doesn’t make them happier or healthier than they are going to be anyway.


Which, ach, frustrating, right? But these economists tell us that should actually make us happy. Think about it. We can relax. Our kids are whole, unique people from day one, and we can get out of their way a little more and let them be. Think of how crazy the lives are of kids who spend all day in school, only to come home to homework, piano lessons, soccer practice – weeknights and weekends. Maybe it’s okay to let them dink around, stare at the wall (or TV!), amuse themselves. Maybe it’s okay for us to stop driving around, losing hours of our own time to…well, not really benefit anyone.


So much easier said than done, though, right? My kid’s not even two years old, and a lot of this rubs me the wrong way. Of course she needs to play piano! And well! (Because I value it, and wish I had worked harder at it) Of course she will need dance lessons (because when she shakes her little toddler booty I am convinced she is gifted). Of course she needs to have fun! And experience different things! And get her energy out!


And of course I need to homeschool her, because she is obviously brilliant, because I’ve read up a lot on education, because I’ve worked in schools and I know I can do so much better by her, and it’s an area in which I can clearly make a difference. Clearly. Right?


Oh, homeschooling. I grow more passionate every day about homeschooling (that is to say: for me and my family, at this point in our lives, knowing full well that once I have a 6-year-old and possibly a younger child too, I could change my tune faster than a drunk chick in a karaoke bar). I have lots of good, solid reasons to want to be in charge of Audrey’s education. I even made a list! It’s sitting in a notebook at home. But while I’m sure I’ll tell you all those good reasons one day, the economists have inspired me to try to look at it differently today. Because, let’s be honest: what sounds like more work and personal sacrifice that homeschooling your kids? If the benefits are negligible, why do it? Well, there are some things on my pro-homeschooling list that are actually less than noble. So today I’d like to offer you my:


Completely Selfish Reasons I Want to Homeschool My Kids


Would you believe there are plenty of things I’m looking to get out of homeschooling?

1. We are not morning people. This is the big one here. Andrew and I would prefer to sit in our jammies with our coffee and our laptops for a least an hour before even thinking about showering. The two days a week we have to get our kid to preschool at 9am are hard work. Not sending our kids to school will mean we never have to move off that couch if we don’t want to.

2. Teenagers are even worse to get out of bed. Their melatonin production goes off by, like, two hours or something, and they are biologically just crappy at getting out of bed and functioning. I will never have to fight that battle!

3. We can go on vacation whenever we want to. We will be beholden to no one’s schedule but our own.

4. I get to engage with my kids at their peak time of day, instead of getting them when they’re already burned out from a day of work. (Note: I realize I still get the end-of-day kids either way, but at least they will have done fewer hours of school being at home.)

5. Anecdotal evidence suggests that spending a large chunk of their waking hours in a virtual society of their same-age peers will cause my kids to disproportionately absorb the values of that group, resulting in kids who suck more to be around.

6. Less sickness. Man, those kids like to share germs.

7. I want to learn too. I feel a gaping hole in my brain where more education should be, and I wonder if learning alongside my kids will open me up to a later-in-life career path I would not have discovered otherwise. Also, the already-planned-out-for-you-so-you-can-do-less-work curriculum I’m currently in love with has book lists that make me drool. I really, really, really can’t wait to explore this stuff.


So there you have it. I can be a lazy and happy parent without compromising my kid’s future. After all, I did all the hard work of molding her life when I picked my gorgeous and brilliant husband to mate with.


I feel so accomplished.


So, what do you wish you could relax about when it comes to parenting? And what will you NEVER LET GO OF EVER, studies be damned?

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Sheeses Christ


At Audrey’s baptism, the church gave her a Dutch Cradle Cross, a little wooden cross engraved with Matthew 19:14 – “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Apparently the Dutch traditionally hang these over their babies’ cribs so that the symbol becomes part of their, I don’t know, visual vocabulary, if you will.


A month or so ago, at bedtime, Audrey pointed at the cross above her bed. “Ssssss,” she said. Because it looks like a letter, you see, and the first letter sound she learned was for “S,” so sometimes all letters are “Ssss”…anyway. While that would be a perfect sound if you’re a vampire being burned by a cross, I decided to go with, “Actually, that’s a cross. The cross of Jesus.”






Audrey climbed off her bed and pointed to the top of her dresser, where a sweet little painting of Jesus was laying (Because where are the hammer and nails to put it up? I have no idea). Jesus is holding a little blond girl from the sixties, judging by her outfit. It’s charming with a smidgen of kitch.




I got the picture down for her and she walked around with it. She held it against the wall under the cross. “Wa’?” “Yeah, we should put it on the wall.” She went to hold it up next to the door. “Wa’?” “Yes, we’ll put it on the wall soon.” She carried it around a while longer until I rested it somewhere for her so she could go to sleep.


I find this whole thing incredibly sweet. And I find it incredibly weird. “Oh, how precious that the person of Jesus is a kind of presence in her mind already,” says the 30-something Christian me. “Oh, how creepy that it was so easy to indoctrinate her,” says the 20-something agnostic me.


That girl does not shut up.


There are religious people in my life – some conservative, some liberal; there are atheists and agnostics in my life – some cranky, some more Christ-like than I could hope to be…and not a one of them has given me any crap for believing or not believing anything.


That all comes from me. Or, you know, probably Facebook. But mostly me.


Now, on the whole, I don’t let 20-something me talk. She’s a bit of an idiot. Oh, she’s not a complete loss, but she’s done a lot of stupid things. In fact, 30-something me occasionally spends time berating her. And then trying really hard to forgive her. It’s a complicated relationship.


So why does she get to me on the topic of God?


I do read a lot of crazy talk both pro- and anti-religion on the interwebz. It’s sort of hard to avoid. But in real life, I’ve had maybe two annoying experiences on the topic of my faith (from Christians) and they were blips.


So when I feel defensive about Christianity, when I worry people assume I believe something I don’t, when I worry they think I’m an idiot for being a Christian, or when I’m sure I can see in their eyes they think I’m “not a real Christian” based on where I go to church, oh HEAVENS. That has so little to do with any actual, real-life person. That’s basically my imagination. It’s the younger, cynical-er, “smarter” me insulting me, mocking me, keeping me angry and on edge.


Which, you know, ain’t all bad. I want to be challenged, I want to keep thinking critically, I want to stay as “open-minded” as possible.


But, sheesh. I’d like to spend a LITTLE more time in wonder…awe…peace…grace…


And I’d sure like that to be Audrey’s experience of God.



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