Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How important is it to teach children about religion?

Yesterday, someone asked me a question about religion, and how it correlates with being a parent and raising children.
"How important is it to teach children about religion?"
Very important, but not yet.
I want my children to learn about religion; learn about ALL religions. I want to teach them about religion with an open mind. I don't believe in a God, and neither does my husband. We don't want to teach our children that there is some guy watching their every move, telling them they won't get into heaven if they mess up, or they have to pray to get what they want. There are so many different people in the world with so many different religious views. I want them to know they exist, and it's okay to be different. If they want to be religious, that is perfectly fine, but I will never tell them, "This is what we are, this is what you are, this is how it is, and this is the only way." Because that just isn't the case.
Kids are smart, but impressionable. Gullible. They're not ready to learn about any religion right now, because they will believe you.
They believe sensational stories. When people teach children about the bible, they tell them over-glorified fairy tales, then tell them the fairy tales are true. They build it up into the biggest and best thing, and then they grow up and build their lives around that. As an example, if I told my 3.5 year-old son that his Daddy is a secret superhero and goes out to fight bad guys every night, I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that he would absolutely believe every word I said. You don't need to lie to them about something that is going to affect the rest of their lives. It is entirely possible to be a good person, without being influenced by any form of religion, and that's why I refuse to teach them about religion until it can be discussed with an open mind.

Let me be clear, though. I have no problem with people raising their children with religion. I'm not here to change anyone's mind, or to tell them they are wrong. I won't tell my children not to play with your kids because you believe in God, and I certainly won't teach them that you're wrong because you believe in God. We just do not believe in any God, and raise our children accordingly.

  • I don't tell my children to pray to God to get what they want, I teach them they have to work for what they want.
  • I don't tell my children to pray to God for the health of them or anyone they know, I teach them that there are doctors and scientists who will do their very best to make them or their loved ones feel better.
  • I don't tell my children that God is watching them or watching out for them, I teach them that there are consequences for the things they do, whether that is immediate or further down the line, good or bad.
  • I don't tell them they won't get into heaven when they die because they committed a sin they didn't know was a sin, I teach them to learn right from wrong, and to apologize for what they did. I teach them to learn from their mistakes.
  • I don't tell them to thank God for all they have, I teach them that their Daddy works very, very hard to earn money to get us everything we have.
  • I don't tell them that God is the only way and anyone who doesn't believe in God is wrong, I teach them that everyone is different and everyone believes in different things, and that being different is good.
  • I don't tell them God loves them more than me or their father, I teach them and show them that we love them more than anything, and we want the absolute best for them.
I am a good mother, I care for my children immensely, and I do my absolutely best to do right by them.
I don't believe that telling them about God is beneficial to their well-being, and I don't think I'd be doing right by them if I told them there was a God.
I don't believe in God, your God, or any God.
I believe in communication, kindness, love, and honesty. If you disagree with me, that's fine!! But do not try to convince me or condemn me for what I believe or don't believe in.

I would love to hear from you! Please let me know what you think in the comments, but please, keep it civil!

Twitter: @itslikemusic

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I Love the Rain

If you know me at all, you know I love rain. It rained more today than it has in the last year, and I was SO happy!! While I was talking with my friend, I think I coined a phrase... after I googled it and nothing came up, I decided to make a meme :) Let me know what you think! Share it on pinterest, facebook, instagram, and twitter if you like it! @itslikemusic, #itslikemusic :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

The San Francisco Batkid!

Very rarely do I post about current events, mostly because I never know about them until they're past events. My TV is always on Netflix, Disney Junior, or Bravo (don't judge me, mommy needs her shows.). I'm on facebook plenty, but I tend to skim over news, because- let's face it- people are biased.

My husband and son are very much obsessed with Batman. Anything Batman. Seriously, my husband has a Batman wallet, multiple shirts, boxers, contact case, sunglasses.. and my son was Batman for Halloween this year. So, naturally, anytime I see anything Batman, I notice it. Well, I was skimming over my facebook last week when I saw a picture of an adorable little boy, Batkid. Here's a little information about Batkid, from an article this morning on KTVU.COM:
San Francisco has transformed into Gotham City Friday morning, fulfilling a special 5-year-old boy's wish as he comes to the city’s rescue as a tiny caped crusader.
5-year-old Miles, who lives with his parents in Tulelake in Siskiyou County, became Batkid as his adventures commenced at 10 a.m., but he’s already a superhero. The little boy has battled leukemia for most of his life and he’s winning. Miles is now in remission.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is making Miles’ dreams of becoming Batman, or Batkid, a reality.
"The wish he expressed carried so much in it. We are able to have fun with it, we'll be having a good time," said Eric Johnston of the Make-A-Wish foundation, who will be dressing up as Batman and accompanying Miles.
 I know it's somewhat difficult to wrap your head around the awesomeness of what actually happened. Let me lay it out for you.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation, along with the city of San Francisco, CA, has made his dream come true. No joke. "They" turned San Francisco into Gotham City today. Newspapers, news stations, people, banks, buildings... There was a Batman who needed Batkid's help to save the city from The Riddler and The Penguin. They saved a damsel in distress, tied to some train tracks (trolley tracks, I assume). They got to ride in the Batmobile. He got the key to "Gotham" City. Even President Obama was following Batkid's story, and congratulated him on his big save.

I am moved to tears by San Francisco and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

I've always had faith in humanity, but this just makes my heart explode with happy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tell That to the Penguins, Little Mix!

Little Mix - Wings <---click that to watch the music video on LittleMixVEVO, on YouTube. 

I have heard this anthem-like song at least 50 times in the last week, thank you Radio Disney. It's a catchy little tune, but I've felt the need to make this meme since the 5th time I heard it.

I hope you like it! :) Feel free to share it!!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Potato Chip Cokies

Okay, okay, before you question the title, me, or yourself for what you just read, YES! This does say potato chip cookies. I know! Don't say anything yet. Yes, they do go together. You know how you have those unlikely combination foods that just work? Usually it's a salty/sweet thing... French fries and milk shakes, salted caramel chocolate... and this is one of them.

My grandma used to make these when I was a kid, and from what she told me, her mom used to make these for her. They are delicious! Basically, they're like a thin butter cookie with a yummy little "something" that gives it a crunch.

I have seen a LOT of variations all over the place, but this is my grandma's recipe.

What you will need:

  • 4 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1~ish cups of coarsely crushed potato chips
  • 3 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract

First, cream your butter and sugar together.

It should look like soft and creamy mashed potatoes. Except it's butter and sugar.

Next! Add the vanilla.

And the flour. Slowly, or a little at a time. Because trying to mix that much flour with that much butter and sugar would end in a mushroom cloud and a kitchen covered in flour.

Once all that is mixed up, add the potato chips and fold them in.

Roll them in a 1 inch ball and place them on a cookie sheet, about 3 inches apart. I promise. 3 inches.

Then take the bottom of a glass, dip the glass in some granulated sugar, and smoosh the cookie ball until it's about 1/4 inch thick. After I did that, I dusted it with sugar sprinkles.

Put them in a 300 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, they should be golden around the edges, and light on top.

Use a spatula to remove them from the cookie sheet, and let them cool on a different surface. Most people use wire racks... but I'm not most people.

Let them cool, and enjoy!

This was my first time making them for my kids, and it was a hit! They love these cookies.

If you try this recipe, let me know in the comments below! Don't forget to pin this on Pinterest, post your pics to instagram, and tweet about it on twitter! @itslikemusic, #ILMpotatochipcookies!!!

ProTip: Use regular potato chips. No flavored chips. That's just wrong. Also, I highly recommend using Ruffles... I used Lays today, because that's what I happened to have on hand, but Ruffles break easier, but they also stay crunchy, where Lays tend to melt into the cookie a bit more.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Parking Lot Rage

Is there anything as dumb as Parking Lot Rage? I mean, we all have experienced, or have come in contact with someone experiencing Road Rage, but Parking Lot Rage? How is this even a thing?

I get my kids in the car and drive to the US Post Office a couple miles away from my house. I needed to mail a few photo CDs out to my clients. I get in the parking lot, it's full. (little did I know I'd be waiting for almost an hour inside! oh well!)

I see a lady get in her car near the front door of the post office, and naturally assume she's leaving. It was the first available spot, so I drove up to wait for it.

I knew it was near the exit, but it was the first spot, so I went for it. I put on my blinker and waited for a full 60 second count... she never even turned her car on, just sat there (annoying, much?!). As it turned out, there was another person leaving, two spots down from this one, so I had to back up maybe 2 feet. There was a guy in a very large truck behind me, waiting to leave.

Now, I understand wanting to leave, but if I have to back up to get out of your way, you might want to back up just a smidge to let me get by, right? Well not this guy!!

I put my car in reverse, and wait a second so he can see my reverse lights. I see him. I see him see the lights. I see him look at me, and stare at me blankly. We made eye contact, and he shrugged. Didn't move his truck an inch. So I just verbally say, "THANK YOU." and back up, best I can, so I can get out of his way. I came within inches of his truck, and he didn't care, didn't move.

When I get to where I need to be to park, my passenger window is even with the front driver's side of his truck. I said, "Sorry, THANK YOU." one more time, and he gave me the meanest look and flipped me off. He looked at my kids in the back seat, buckled safely in their car seats, and flipped me off even stronger, waving it around.

I found the image at DavisBodyShop.com via google image search.

His window was already down, so I rolled mine down and said, "Really? Flip me off in front of my kids, while I'm trying my best to move out of your way. THANK YOU!!!"

He responded with, "There is a whole fucking parking lot back there! Get the FUCK out of my WAY!" (There isn't. It's completely full.)

I was shocked, and said, "Woah, please don't talk like that--" at which point he cuts me off and starts blaring his horn at me while flipping me off, still.

It shocks me, it startled my children, and they both started sobbing in the back seat. Keep in mind, my window is still open, I'm in a tiny little Nissan Sentra, and he is in an enormous TRUCK. That horn is loud and scary, especially when it's less than 3 feet away from you!

As that happened, I said, "OK, I'M CALLING THE COPS!" and pulled out my cell phone. I enunciated it very clearly so he could read my lips, since I'm sure he couldn't hear me over the blare of his horn.

When I said that, he took off, still blaring his horn and giving me the bird. My one-year-old daughter had passed out from being scared and sobbing so hard. I parked in the spot, and just told my three-year-old son, "Everything is ok, that man was very mean. He's gone now, don't worry." He calmed down.

I could see people in the parking lot, laughing and pointing, telling other's about what had just happened. Pointing at me, making what appeared to be off-color remarks. What bothers me is that no one said or did anything to help. There were people watching this unfold.

Hey everyone, guess what? You can stick up for others. If you see something bad happening, do something about it! That was your PSA for the day.

It took me a good 10 minutes to gather myself. I was so shaken and rattled from what had just happened, but I was trying to hold it together for the kids. I really didn't want to break down in front of them, after I just told them it would be ok.

My son asked me if I was ready to go into the Post Office. I said, "No buddy, not yet. That guy was really mean, and I'm still a little sad about it. I just need to calm down a little more."

That's when my son said the sweetest, kindest, most caring and adorable thing he's ever said to me.

"It's ok, Mommy. That guy was really mean, but you're not mean. You just have to breathe. I will count to 5, ok? You take a big breath every time I say a number. Are you ready?" Then he started counting: 1... 2... 3... 4... 5... I took a breath after each number, just like he said to. Then he said, "Do you feel better now? Are we ready to go in to the post office?"

My little man... he gave me the strength and courage I needed to pull myself together. It's times like that... he reminded me that my husband and I are really doing a good job raising these babies!!

When we left the post office, he asked if that mean man was going to honk at us again. :( I told him no, and said he was all gone and far away now.

I just can't believe people can be that way to other people! To a mother in front of her children?! Why? And the saddest thing about all of this? This isn't even the first time it's happened. *sigh* Let's be good to each other! Life is too short, people!

Have you ever experienced parking lot rage? Tell me about it in the comments below! Or tweet about it, @itslikemusic, #ParkingLotRage.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The "Good Job!" Jar

Last Thursday was a 'last-straw' day. My sweet, adorable, caring, and kind three-year-old son had turned into a little monster.

As most three-year-old's do, he really loves his independence. Especially since he knows his little sister can't do half the things he can. He understands video games, knows how to turn Netflix on, he can navigate through the XBOX 360 dashboard with ease, he can go to the fridge to get his snacks, he gets dressed all by himself, and has his own thoughts and opinions. He's still testing his boundaries, of course, and is pushing them as far as they will go... which we found out on Thursday, was saying NO! for the thousandth time.

I had seen a few ideas on Pinterest to help guide a child's behavior. Honestly, I was thinking about making a behavior chart for quite a while, but I just didn't have the time. And after thinking about it, what good would a chart do if he couldn't read it yet? Then I remembered another pin I saw... a jar with cotton balls.

This jar idea seemed like the perfect alternative to a behavior chart, without the necessity to read it.

I went to Target, and bought a $1.50 mason jar, a bag of cotton balls for $1.19, and some scrapbooking stickers for $1 each (I got two packs). I used a sharpie I already had at home. When I got home, I wrote on the jar using the sharpie, then I decorated it with the stickers.

Some people were creating a fill-line as a goal... but cotton balls are a good size when you put them in a regular mason jar. I decided to just go straight for the top as the fill-line.

How it works for us:

For every acceptable* thing he does, he gets to put a cotton ball in the jar. For every unacceptable* thing he does, he gets to take a cotton ball out of the jar. When the jar is full, he gets to do an activity of his choice. He doesn't get a toy or money or anything like that for filling the jar. Thursday morning, his ability to play video games was taken away. He decided that his reward for filling up the jar would be an hour of video game play time. 
(Before you jump on my case for a three-year-old playing video games... he loves his Lego video games, he is great at them, and we still do a LOT of different activities throughout the day. This happens to be his favorite, so that's what I "took away" when he demonstrated the unacceptable behavior.)

At the beginning, I was acknowledging EVERY example of acceptable* behavior with a cotton ball in the jar, and every example of unacceptable* behavior with a cotton ball removed. This way, he learns what is acceptable* and what is not in a way in which he can control it. He is making the decisions himself and is learning what works. Also, by acknowledging every acceptable* behavior, and filling up the jar faster, he can see that his goal is attainable. Eventually, as time goes on, I will start acknowledging extraordinary and exemplary behavior instead of just everything acceptable*.

We started this jar on Thursday afternoon, and Saturday around noon, he got his hour of video game play. Today, he got one more hour.

He already is knowing when he does well and when he doesn't, and is more aware of how his decisions affect him, and us! He doesn't emotionally explode like he used to, and he is a lot quicker to recognize and remedy his poor behavior.

I can't say this is the easiest thing to maintain, because after 3 days, even though he's done well, we still have hiccups. But we are going to "stick to it!" It was, however, very inexpensive, and soooo worth the little peace it's already brought!

I definitely recommend trying this out with your toddler.

If you do, please let me know by commenting below! I'd love to see how your little one's jar turned out, and how it worked for you and your family! You can also post a picture of it on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter, all with: @itslikemusic & #goodjobjar!

*I use "acceptable/unacceptable" because it is a relative term. What may be considered acceptable to me might be considered unacceptable to others. You decide what is acceptable/unacceptable for your family, just as I do with mine. :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Scribble Monsters!

Here we are, October 1st! Did the year fly by for you like it did for me?

October is here, and it means I can start doing some fun and simple crafts with my little ones! My favorite of our Autumn crafts are what I like to call Scribble Monsters.

I started doing these a couple years ago. My oldest was just a year old, and I was pregnant with his little sister. I love decorating for Halloween, but I didn't want to do anything too scary, since he was so little. I also wanted to find something he could have a big part in, but that wasn't easy.

I started by drawing a pumpkin jack-o-lantern, then gave him all the orange-colored crayons from the box. He had a blast, colored everywhere, didn't matter if he colored outside the lines or not, because I was planning on cutting out the pumpkin and putting it in the window. Then I thought, how about monsters??

We had watched Disney/Pixar's Monsters Inc. already (he loved it, but what kid doesn't?!), and we had been on the rides and seen the attractions at Disney's California Adventure Park at The Disneyland Resort, so I knew some fun monsters wouldn't be too scary for him.

What you see below is the very first monster I drew for my son to scribble all over. He asked me to help, so I colored the horns; can you tell? :) He had SO. MUCH. FUN. with the monsters! We made and colored scribble monsters all day until our windows were full of them! We did them again the next year (which is the other photos you'll see in this post) with as much fun as before. This year, I thought I would share it with you, so you can make the Scribble Monsters with your children!

Scribble Monsters are SO easy. Anyone, any age, can make a Scribble Monster! Read on, and I will show you how! :)

What you will need:
I start by drawing a monster, using the black marker. Just use your imagination! It can be as silly or simple as you want it to be. Once you draw one, more will come to you. You can ask your kids for input, too. It is so much fun!

Next tape down the sides of your paper. This is so the paper doesn't move around, if you have little ones, it's difficult for them to hold the paper while they color.

Give your kids the crayons and let them go crazy (on the monster!). They can do anything they feel like and they don't even have to stay in the lines! Not gonna lie, it's fun for adults, too :)

Once they are done coloring, cut out the monster from the page! You can tape it to the window, hang it on the fridge, or tape it to a blank piece of paper and put it in a scrapbook.

That's it! Awesome craft, awesome Halloween decoration, and so much fun with the kids!

I would LOVE to see your Scribble Monsters, comment with them below, share them on facebook and repin them on pinterest, and #ScribbleMonsters on Instagramtwitter, @itslikemusic

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What A Stressful Day... (Has Taught Me)

I'm sitting here in front of the computer in a Melatonin-induced calm after vocally exploding for the (exaggerated) 100th time today. My 3-year-old told me no, again, whined and cried "for no reason," and my 1-year-old bit me while I was nursing her to sleep, after she tried to practically scalp me. After a day like the day I just had, these were the last straws. I freaked out. I cried. I lost my proverbial shit. I was done. Done with the Mommy-job, done with the kids, done with the day. Really, done with the last two weeks. I stormed out in a hot mess of angry tears, and ended up here. And here I go...

Who knew a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old could cause so much stress and frustration to a relatively patient and calm, 27-year-old woman? My babies, my hearts, my all and my everything... they're the source of my inevitable destruction.

I'm not a bad mom. I'm not a perfect mom, and I don't even think I'm a great mom... but I'm a good mom. My kids are taken care of. They are loved. They KNOW they are loved, and they love me. We smile, we laugh, we have tickle fights. We go to Disneyland pretty regularly. We really do have a good time together. I get to stay home with my babies, and I get to teach them and watch them grow every single day. Every single day they amaze me with something new. Even today, one of the worst days I've had in a while, I watched my 3-year-old play a game on my husband's phone that I'm pretty sure I couldn't figure out (and I'm pretty good with video games!). I saw my 1-year-old make up a new little dance sequence. They're adorable, and they're killing me.

I don't know where I went "wrong" in all this. Not a friggin' clue. Back when I said I'm a good mom, I meant it. That means I tell them "no" and I exercise patience, as well as teach it to them. There is discipline in this family. I'm not afraid of them hating me for 5 seconds when I tell them they can't have this or that. I love them and they are really good kids, but somewhere in the last, oh, I don't know... month or so? Somewhere they found a loophole and, together, have figured out how to walk all over me.

I don't want to have an explosive personality. I don't want to yell or scream. I don't want them to expect that from me. I don't want that at all. So how do I keep it from happening?

You know when you're out in a restaurant and that one kid just goes ballistic? Just completely inconsolable, and their parents are sitting there mortified, either paralyzed from embarrassment or doing everything they can to calm their kid down before inevitably making the rounds outside, leaving the other parent to sit there looking around, going, "I swear my kid has never done this before! S/he's usually so great, I have no idea what's going on!" While every other patron is sitting there thinking, "yeah, RIGHT." I totally get that. I completely, 100% understand that. I am that mom now. Me and my husband, we're those parents. That kid, those are my babies. It's literally like a switch just flipped, and I can't for the life of me figure out how to switch it back.

Since I'm with my babies 24/7, I've figured out a sequence in their learning. First, they learn to eat and then they learn very basic communication (waaaaahhh!). Then they learn that different sounds mean different things. Sounds get more complex. They learn to control their arms and legs and head, and they learn to get around. Wiggle, crawl, stand, walk, run... They push themselves past their boundaries to the next milestone. We, as parents, cheer them on, encourage them, teach them, and keep them moving forward. They hurl themselves to the next boundary, the next milestone... "Mama, Dada, Hi, ByeBye!" and we're there throwing mini parties. Then they locate their independence... "No, don't touch that." "No, put that back." "No, come over here." "No, don't do that." "Here, take this." "Look at this!" Distractions. Tell them no. Play keep away. They want to get to the next boundary and push past it. They don't understand limits. There are no limits. It is literally their job, their only job, to find their boundaries, push their boundaries, and discover their limits. And it is our job, as parents, to put those boundaries in place and be there to enforce the limits. It is our job to tell them no and point them, coach them, in the right direction. My kids might only be 1 and 3, but I *know* that this sequence and these jobs will really never stop. Ever. You don't ever stop being a parent. I'm a married, 27-year-old mother of two, homeowner, and I still get coached in the right direction by my parents. (Mom, Dad, I appreciate the hell out of you guys. Thank you for always being there for me.)

Here's the thing, I want my kids to WANT to do the right thing. I don't want to have to sit here going, no, no, no, No, NO, NO! That sucks. I just want them to know not to do whatever it is they are thinking of doing. How do I make that happen? I have to enforce rules and boundaries. I have to teach them. I have to coach them.

Everyone needs a reminder now and then. Even I need reminders... They don't know what I know. I can't expect them to know what I know. But I can teach them what I know, and I can be there when they don't listen. I will be there when they experience the things I know. I know what it's like to be told no. I know what it's like to get burnt by the stove. I know what it's like to taste cocoa powder (I really wish I listened to my mom when she told me not to taste it...). 

So, this stressful day of stress and frustration and stress and STRESS has actually been beneficial to my career choice, and I guess somewhat therapeutic for me. I need to remember that my babies are just that... my babies. I love them more than anything I have ever loved in my entire life. There are no words to describe the love I have for them. I want the best for them, and right now, I am the best for them. I need to keep being the best for them, so I need to be the best me I can be. I need to remember that they are little. They are learning. They are learning more now than they'll ever learn in the future. They can push my buttons and they can (try!) to walk all over me, so I have to get ready. And anyways, who am I trying to kid? If I can't handle them now, what the hell am I going to do when they're teenagers?! 

Babies, Mommy is back. With patience, kindness, and unwavering love.

Mommy is here. 

I'm ready.