Blog Posts by FitsNGiggles

  • Parenting Guru: Minivans are the new black

    A couple of years ago when I was pregnant with our third son, it became clear that size-wise, our Jetta Wagon wasn't cutting it for us anymore. It was time to take the minivan plunge.

    I conducted weeks of informal market research about the best van for my family (i.e. accosting parents in the parking lot of the boys' day care center). I vividly recall a conversation I had with a woman driving a new Honda Odyssey where she used descriptive phrases like "so much room" and "tons of cool features" and "the kids love it," and I was just about sold. Encouraged by her hopeful optimism that the minivan might not take away what's left of my dignity, I was moments away from making peace with the idea when she blurted, "But you know, I hate driving a lame minivan. My last car was a Passat." "Mine was a Cabrio," I sighed. "A convertible."

    Despite the practicality of the minivan, I struggled with the idea that I used to be cool. I'm not saying this because I'm vain, but it's true. I was cool.

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  • Parenting Guru: Why we fell in love with Cape Cod, MA

    In a few short weeks we'll be taking our fourth annual trip to Cape Cod with the boys. We like to stay mid-Cape (particularly Orleans) because there's something magical about Skaket Beach at low tide that brings us back year after year. You can walk for hours and discover new warm tidal pools filled with hermit crabs. All you need is a bucket and a net and you're set for the day.

    As much as we like to discover new places to eat, we find ourselves returning to our favorites time and time again. So if you're heading to the Cape, be sure to check out a few of the places we love:

    Arnold's: Don't be intimidated by the long line to get into Arnold's. It's worth the wait for what we think are the best lobster rolls on the Cape. Our favorite thing to do is play a round a mini golf late in the morning so we're finished just in time for Arnold's to open at 11:30.

    We're also big fans of The Lobster Claw, where I got the best fried clam strip sandwich of my life and my seafood-fearing sons

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  • Parenting Guru: The great binky incident of 2010

    It all started out with the best of intentions. After a busy day of work for me and school/daycare for the kids, I decided that cooking was out of the question and we headed to McDonalds, just me and my three boys. My husband was working late that night, so it seemed like a perfectly reasonable excuse to indulge in some Mickey D's. I was feeling pretty good about my parenting skills as we got through the entire meal without an issue, which is no small feat when you're outnumbered three to one and your dinner companions range in age from 17 months to six years old.

    We were packing up to head out the door when my littlest dinner date threw his binky, which normally wouldn't be a problem except it had landed deep under a booth that was occupied by another family. Retrieving said binky would've involved me asking this family to get up from their seats so I could crawl under their table, which wasn't my idea of a good time for anyone.

    I quickly assessed the situation: The baby

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  • Parenting Guru: The first crush

    My 7-year-old son has his very first crush on a cute blonde girl in his class. He's being very secretive about the nature of their relationship, but he's told me that he can read her mind. With the exception of that little tidbit, mum's the word.

    I've tried all different kinds of interrogation techniques in my quest to find out more, all of them ultimately unsuccessful.

    Bribery: How about two desserts after dinner tonight?

    Indifference: It's totally cool if you don't want to tell me. I'm not that curious anyway.

    Empathy: Do you want to hear the story of my first crush? The year was 1980. The setting was St. Paul of the Cross School in Jersey City . . . (just when I thought he was joining me for a walk down memory lane, he was back on the couch watching Sponge Bob before I could continue).

    This kid is good. And as much as I'd love for him to tell me what's going on in every facet of his life, I admire his desire to keep his first crush to himself. He's a quiet and sensitive boy,

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  • Parenting Guru: 5 dreams for my future daughters-in-law

    I have three sons all under the age of 8, and my primary goal in life (besides making sure that they're happy and productive members of society, of course) is to provide my future daughters-in-law with amazing husbands. You know, husbands who never leave their socks in the middle of the living room. Husbands who know how to load the dishwasher. Husbands who give them a kiss when they walk through the door at the end of the day. Husbands who change poopy diapers and kiss boo boos.

    As their mom it falls on me to raise these little beings into respectful and loving men, and it isn't a job I take lightly. So in the spirit of my New Year's resolution to get myself organized, I've created a list of my five dreams for the women my sons will eventually marry.

    1. May they never know the feeling of sitting on a toilet with the seat left up. Manners are a big deal in this house, with the exception of burping on demand, which recognized for what it is--an impressive skill. However, we

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  • About a month ago I signed up to participate in Yahoo's "How Good Grows" Ripples of Kindness program and I received $100 to get me started. Since that check arrived I've gone through dozens of scenarios in my head. I considered paying for a stranger's groceries, buying books for my grandmother's former nursing home and loading up on toys to donate to a local children's hospital.

    Then it dawned on me that I truly wanted to use the money to help people in need, so I was about to pack up the boys and head to Costco to purchase as much food as $100 could buy to donate to our local food bank, The Community Food Bank of New Jersey (full disclosure--I work for the public relations agency that represents the Food Bank). Before heading out the door I check the website to find the nearest drop-off location when I read this:

    "For every dollar of our operating budget, the Community Food Bank of New Jersey is able to distribute $9.59 worth of food and groceries."

    Wait just one minute--so my $100

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  • Parenting Guru: Got Sanity? Me Neither.

    I take my new role as a Parenting Guru quite seriously and I want to give my readers the best possible advice I have to offer. However, when it comes to this month's topic-sanity-saving holiday tips-I'm a little rough around the edges, to say the least. Just ask my husband, who just yesterday fell victim to the wrath of a woman who lost her Christmas spirit while separating the branches on our lovely looking but skin-hating artificial tree.

    In spite of a brief fit of holiday-induced rage, I did manage to come up with tips I've put into place this year that have helped me keep what's left of my sanity, and here they are in order of what I remembered first:

    1. Make a list. Check it twice. I tend to be a sporadic shopper, picking up a few items here and there when I see a good sale. This year I started to keep a tally of the number of gifts per kid so no one ends up in therapy down the line because they got less presents than their siblings. For parents with younger kids who

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  • User post: Southern Apple Pecan Dressing from the Deen Brothers

    Orginally posted to Fits "N" Giggles.

    I was a fan of the Deen Family way before matriarch and goddess of all things delicious, Paula Deen, said she wanted to dip my baby in butter at BlogHer '09. Luckily for Paula I changed his stinky diaper while we were waiting on line to meet her or else she might have suggested I dip him in a soapy tub instead!

    Several weeks ago I was lucky enough to meet Paula's charming sons, Bobby and Jamie, at an event sponsored by the Grain Foods Foundation and I was blown away with what these guys could do with a simple sandwich . So it goes without saying that when the Deen brothers send me a recipe, I'm going to trust that it's amazing and share it with you.

    Seriously, this is the family responsible for making me a celebrity in the workplace, on play dates and during my brief stint as snack mom at the soccer game when I brought in Paula's famous Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes . If you haven't tried them, please do. They're easy to make and people will think

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  • Parenting Guru: Feeling thankful from the trenches of parenthood

    My life is pretty awesome. I'm not saying that to brag, but more as a reminder to myself. With the pressures of raising three boys, a full time job, a mountain of bills, and an even bigger mountain of dishes and laundry in need of my constant attention, more often than not I forget to be thankful for just how awesome my life really is.

    It's all too easy to get bogged down by the daily routine and fail to notice the moments of joy that sneak up when I'm not paying attention-the hugs when I walk through the door after a long day at work, the "hi mom" wave from across the soccer field, the squeal of delight from my 18-month-old when I pick him up from day care. These are the moments that fuel the bursts of energy needed to get through what can seem like an endless to-do list-the moments I daydreamed about all those years ago when I imagined what it would be like to be a mother surrounded by little people who think I'm amazing (cue Paul Simon's "She Loves Me Like a Rock").

    So

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  • My name is Melissa and I approve this message

    Confession time: I don't really follow politics, so you can imagine how much I was dreading this month's Yahoo! Motherboard topic. It's not that I don't care about the issues, because I do. However, I find myself so incredibly turned off by politicians that I can barely stomach this time of year. The mud-slinging campaign ads running on a constant loop are laughable at best, and while they make great fodder for SNL spoofs I can't switch the channel fast enough. These people should really be ashamed of themselves.

    So instead of attempting to pontificate on a topic I know close to nothing about, I'm going to offer some motherly advice to the candidates.

    1. Don't call my house. Ever. I mean it. Especially at 9:00 on a school night when all my kids are asleep. I know you're magically immune to the "Do Not Call List" rules, but throw me a bone, will you?

    2. If you can't resist the urge to disturb me in my home, have the decency to pick up the phone yourself instead of

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