Blog Posts by Erin Zammett Ruddy

  • Do Kids Really Belong In Nice Restaurants?

    (Photo: Thinkstock)On Sunday night my sisters and I almost took five little kids out to dinner at a linen table-clothed restaurant. We had been at a parade all day so none of us felt like cooking but we were starving and figured it would be a nice treat to go out together.

    The place we were headed is around the corner from my house. They have a $7 children’s menu, coloring stuff and plenty of high chairs, but it is fairly upscale. And by the time we got our crew into the cars, it was nearly 7 p.m. (daylight savings threw us off). The whining and teasing began immediately and it hit me that this was a terrible idea that would result in a stressful eating experience—not just for us, but for the other restaurant patrons. And so I put the kibosh on the plan and we headed back into my house to order takeout.

    My sisters didn’t necessarily agree with me but they know I am hyper-aware of my kids (and by extension any kids at my table) annoying other people in restaurants. And given how late it was, they

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  • This A Capella Version of "Let It Go" Will Make You Want to Go to Prom

    We all remember how stressful the months leading up to high school prom can be. Will he ask, when will he ask, how will he ask? (Or: should I ask, when should I ask, how should I ask?) One Jacksonville, Florida, senior decided to go big and rather bold by enlisting the help of a cappella group Straight No Chaser to ask his friend Megan to prom.

    The backstory: Rafael is a big fan of Straight No Chaser, so he emailed their manager to see if they’d sing “Let it Go” to Megan (the two had seen "Frozen" together and she loved the song). The group gets a lot of fan requests, but this one struck a chord. “It wasn’t that long ago that we were in his shoes,” says Don Nottingham, of SNC (he’s the redhead on the top left of the video and, full disclosure, a friend). “OK, so it was actually a pretty long time ago but still, we thought it was cute and Rafael seemed like a great kid.” The group was home from their world tour at the time and just so happened to be doing a gig in Florida. “All the

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  • The Parenting Fail That Keeps Me Up at Night

    Photo: Erin Zammett RuddyOnce upon a time this closet was a neat, accessible, ode to organization. But over the past six months (a year if I’m being completely honest) it has devolved into the land of misfit toys. A dumping ground for the broken and battered, a bastion of cast-off doll parts, Nerf bullets and Lego men without heads. There are even snow pants in there. What you can’t see under the mound of crap: Six drawers that used to house particular categories of toys but now can’t even be opened. If they could, you’d find wooden play cupcakes in with the remote control cars and dried-up markers in the dress-up drawer and — the most frustrating of all — puzzles with missing pieces. I have to give everything a shove before closing the door but the crazy still seeps out. And, yes, this bothers me immensely.

    You see, deep down, I’m a neat freak. The rest of my house is pretty much always picked up. I can’t start my day until beds are made and counters wiped clean and you could eat off my kitchen floor. Of

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  • I Pulled My Kids Out of School for Vacation. So What?

    Photo: ThinkstockI’m writing this post from sunny Florida, where I escaped to with my three kids. It isn’t so much a vacation (did I mention I have three kids with me?), it’s more like parenting in a warmer climate. But I will take it. Normally I live in New York, where, like most of the country, we are in the midst of the never-ending, blizzard-a-week polar vortex. The snow stopped being fun about five storms ago. I am not a weather complainer but it officially got to me and I had to get out of dodge. My kids did, too. I’m incredibly lucky that my parents have a place in Florida and were happy to host my brood and airline tickets were dirt cheap (my husband is away on business, which was another reason to bolt). I'm also a freelance writer which means I can work from anywhere. The only problem: My oldest is in first-grade and I had to pull him out of school. Right after he was off for an entire week for winter break. (It didn’t work out for us to be away then, plus airline tickets during school

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  • Should You Care What Your Kid Says About You to Other People?

    Photo: ThinkstockMy 6-year-old’s religion teacher is one of my closest friends, which means I get all the behind-the-scenes dirt from their weekly classes. She tells me the truth when I ask if he behaves and she shares funny, first-grade-boys-being-boys anecdotes. The latest dish came from last week’s class when they were discussing the sacrament of reconciliation. She explained to the group that sometimes we make mistakes and then we have to ask for forgiveness. She asked the boys if anyone wanted to share a time when they had to say I'm sorry for a mistake they’d made. Apparently all the hands shot up except my son’s. When everyone got through sharing, my friend asked Alex if there was ever a time he made a mistake and had to say he was sorry. Here’s how it went down from there:

    Alex: “Um. I've never made any mistakes…but my DAD has.”

    Teacher: “I bet you've made a mistake sometime in your life and had to say sorry…”

    Alex: “Well, uh, maybe…but my Dad made a REALLY big mistake.”

    [Note: As my friend was

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  • Why the New Baby Selfie App Is Totally Depressing


    A screengrab from the new Baby Selfie app (Baby Selfie App/Google Play)File this one under “There is literally an app for everything” and/or “What is our parenting world coming to?!”: A Pittsburgh developer named Matthew Pegula has created Baby Selfie, a  99-cent app designed to help your infant take … selfies. I honestly can’t type this with a straight face. (Full disclosure: I couldn’t say “selfie” with a straight face until very recently.) Here’s the description from the Google Play store, where it was launched on Feb. 15: "Baby Selfie is peek-a-boo with a camera twist. Capture your baby's delighted expressions as colorful animals dance onto the screen. Baby Selfie uses custom drawings and fun sounds to grab your baby’s attention and surprise them. We capture your baby’s reaction in a unique, unexpected photo that you’ll love to share."

    Um, I’m all for sharing cute baby pictures, but can’t parents capture their baby's attention and get a "unique, unexpected photo” all by themselves? Are we stretched so thin these days that we don’t even have time to

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  • The Hidden Dangers of Eating Off Your Kid’s Plate

    Photo: Getty ImagesWe all know sneaking bites of our kids’ pancakes or sampling their macaroni or polishing off their PB&Js isn’t the best idea for our waistlines. I used to treat my kids’ dinner as my appetizer — not smart when you’re trying to lose the baby weight. But there’s another side effect of this mindless grazing that I hadn’t anticipated until now. I share it with all of you as a cautionary tale…

    Over the weekend my husband and I cooked a special dinner for his parents, who were visiting from Michigan. Salmon, steak, mashed potatoes, a big salad and roasted Brussels sprouts (with bacon and toasted pine nuts — yum!). My six-year-old eats really well and I was so proud when he asked for seconds on the Brussels (my daughter, who’s four, kept demanding mac and cheese, but that’s another story). As dinner was winding down I noticed Alex had left a few sprouts on his plate so I grabbed them (they had bacon in them, what can I say?). And that’s when it happened. I was chewing and felt something that

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  • What Happens to Parents When You Have Too Many Snow Days

    Photo: ThinkstockWhen your kids experience their first snow day, it’s pretty special. You hunker down and get pumped right along with them. No school! Let's start eating everything in sight! Where are the sleds?! Yay for cozy family time! It brings you back to when you were a kid and snow days were a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence, not part of the Common Core curriculum like they seem to be now. My kids are so used to school being cancelled that if there’s more than a dusting when they wake up they just assume — and start demanding hot cocoa. The novelty has completely worn off for all of us. And when you’re on your 18th snow day like we are here on Long Island (note: it’s not actually the 18th but it certainly feels like it) you go through what I like to call the five stages of a snow day…

    1. Denial. “They’re definitely going to have school tomorrow, right?” you ask your spouse the night before, even as the weather people use words like “nightmarish,” “treacherous,” and “do not go out unless you have

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  • 10 Things I Hate About Valentine’s Day as a Parent

    I’ve never been a big fan of February 14th. Even when I had a boyfriend, it just felt…forced. Now that I’m married to a totally-great-but-not-very-romantic-in-the-Hallmark-sense-of-the-word guy, we completely opt out. But with two of my three kids in school, Valentine’s Day is suddenly a really big deal. There are parties and crafts and special snacks and wardrobe requirements and love-themed homework and, of course, the great Valentine exchange. It’s not that I want to deprive my kids of this stuff (holidays—even made-up ones—are the best when you’re little!) but all these heart-shaped to-dos end up on my plate and my plate is already full. And so I’m annoyed. Here’s why…
    1. I went to Target to get valentines for my four- and six-year-olds to give out and all of the cards have Disney/Nick Jr./Barbie/Angry Birds characters on them, which I hate. I know, I know, but it just bothers me that everything has to be commercial. I thought I scored with super-cute plainish heart-shaped cards

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  • Is It Wrong to Call Daycare “School”?

    Photo: ThinkstockI had a controversial conversation with an older mother recently and it’s still kind of bothering me. I was chatting with her and another mom at a kid party and she told us that when her kids were young, she worked some nights but was always around when the kids were home (and awake). She admitted that she was lucky her schedule allowed this. We agreed. I didn’t think she was being holier than thou but then she told us how she recently started working in a daycare…and how sad she thinks it is that some kids are there all day long. And what really breaks her heart is that they call it school. “It’s not school, it’s daycare!” she declared. “School? Puh-lease!”

    The other woman talking with us works out of the house but her husband watches their daughter during the day. I think the offending mom assumed that because I have an unconventional job (i.e., I write magazine articles—and blog posts—from home while wearing sweats) that I also don’t require childcare. She thought she was talking to

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