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Posts Tagged ‘Parents’

  1. Mocha Test

    August 11, 2015 by admin

    IMG_1498As you know, TRMom eased up dramatically on the vegan diet and now resides happily once again in a vegetarian space.  While vegan, TRMom couldn’t have the milk substitutes at most eateries due to a bad reaction with carrageenan.  This resulted in a gourmet coffee dry spell of over 6 months.  But now, TRMom is back in the espresso froo-froo drink saddle and living large!

    And her favorite drink is a hot Mocha, no whip.

    Tip1: It is not frugal to purchase coffee drinks rather than making them at home. There is really no way to argue out of this fact. But everyone needs a treat every now and then.  You can also save costs with coupons, membership clubs, etc.

    Here are our local determinations thus far:

    • Java Cat is the winner by far in the art of creating a Mocha. Whether serving up a hot or cold drink, they outdo their competition. You can actually savor the foam and there is no Mocha-sludge. It takes a bit of time to create this drink but the wait is worth it. Well done!
    • Moka is the runner up. They are about .50cents cheaper than Java Cat, but Moka struggles to deliver the same quality. Where they win over the competition is the incredibly friendly staff, the stickers on the lids, and the little candy treats.
    • Crema Cafe comes in third.  Honestly at times they seem just too busy to deliver a fantastic espresso drink.  It isn’t that their Mocha is terrible.  It just has no thought behind it.  It tastes fine, but more like a hot chocolate than a Mocha.  It isn’t memorable.
    • Starbucks trails well behind the pack.  The Mocha they deliver is sludgey and a little too sweet.  You don’t save on cost and there is no delightful staff interaction.  It is definitely a last choice destination.  Honestly, a Mocha from McDonalds is just as satisfying as the one you get at Starbucks but far cheaper.


    Tip2:  If frugality is key and you have access to a pod machine, you can find Mocha pods at any grocery.  The end product is quite satisfying and certainly cheaper than any coffee shop.  Of course, there is an environmental impact to pod usage.

    TRMom is looking forward to digging into the local coffee scene even deeper.  What’s your favorite coffee spot, either locally or nationwide?

  2. These Are A Few Of Our Favorite Reads

    May 1, 2015 by admin

    We love to read. And we love to read out loud to Bluey. Our evening culminates in reading before bed. And our day begins with reading while snuggled up on the couch.

    Bluey and TRMom have two favorite new series that we think you may like check out, too!

    IMG_3026Violet Mackerel is a series written by Anna Branford that follows an independent, quirky, and insightful young girl as she reacts to the world around her. The writer manages to capture the subtle genius of childhood thoughts and is never condescending towards her young characters. You can’t help but fall in love with Violet as she defends trees or attempts to save money to purchase a treasure.   The books are perfect for reading out loud to your youngster.

    Mighty Monty is another series but this one is written by Johanna Hurwitz. The books follow a young boy with asthma who is timid, intelligent, and thoughtful. His many adventures will have you cheering him on and wanting more. The writer’s style is simplistic without being patronizing to her young readers or exascerbating to read aloud for a parent.  Ms. Hurwitz also writes the Riverside Kids series, and we really enjoyed Super-Teddy which was our introduction to that series.IMG_3027

    What are your favorite books of late?

  3. Tired

    March 23, 2015 by admin

    sleep_18991_mdLet’s talk about exhaustion.

    Not the kind that occurs when you’ve gotten into a book and just couldn’t put it down, so you only got 5 hours of sleep before heading off to work.  Not even the kind that happens when your kid was sick all weekend and you’ve barely managed 4 hours of solid sleep before Monday makes an appearance.

    Instead, we’re discussing the sort of exhaustion that builds up over time.  This bone tiredness is an accumulation of years of parenting.  It began when that lovely little infant first made her/his appearance and magnified steadily over the years.  Even if you were lucky enough to get a full night’s sleep (more than 7 hours) here or there throughout your parenting life, it did not manage to push away the overpowering exhaustion.  Trying to rest up is like digging in sand.  And no one really seems to talk about this epidemic very much.  We feel as if we haven’t slept in 17 years and we know we can’t possibly be struggling alone!

    We beseech well rested parents to tell us their sleep secrets.  Do we really just continue to hold on by our fingernails until our kids leave home?  Are you taking vacations without your kids in tow?  If you feel rested, refreshed, and energized – how are you achieving this feat?  And if you are as tired as we are now, know that you are not alone.

    We have lived with under eye circles for so long now that we can’t remember what we looked like without the deep blue rings.  We have distant glorious memories of drowsy morning sex and then falling back to sleep for a few hours.  We think we remember naps.  And we’re pretty sure that we’ve slept passed 7am at some point in our lives.

    We love our kids but we’re damn tired of being tired.

  4. One Week

    February 13, 2015 by admin


    We’ve had a heck of a week.

    In the past seven days we have: recovered Bluey from a wicked illness, found out we need to find a new place to live, had TRDad go down with a serious knee injury (during a busy holiday week for his work), watched TRMom fighting off her own cold, found the shower drain needed a full replacement, brought Plum home from school sick, and dealt with a crazy email error from the school which set us on edge…

    All this while trying to plan for our family Valentine’s Day celebration and maintaining our usual work and family schedules…

    How do we hold it together?

    • Humor: We crack our jokes, get silly with each other, and remind one another what’s really important.
    • Music: Few things happen in our world that can’t be brought into focus with a good song.
    • Teamwork: We’re all in this together. We help each other out where we can but if necessary, we remember to call on others to lend a hand.


    Next week is coming- there’s no saying it won’t be as active and interesting as this one.  Bring it on!

  5. The Family Calendar Goes Digital

    February 6, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2801_2It’s no secret that this is one busy TR family.  We’ve always had lot going on from Day 1.  Doctor’s appointments, playdates, work events, club meetings, vacation days… it’s a lot to keep track of for any family.

    We’ve used a number of different schemes to help keep everyone on track.

    For a long time we had a standard bank wall calendar hanging in the kitchen.  And we’d scrawl notes on there as we remembered upcoming events.  And we’d try to check the wall each morning.  As events got cancelled and rescheduled, the calendar quickly became an overwhelmed scribble.

    We switched to a larger “Family” calendar we picked up in a bookstore.  It featured bigger notation spaces and cute stickers to help serve as reminders.  But as our family grew, and activities accumulated, this family calendar also became an over-worked mess.

    There was a period where TRMom would print out pages of Microsoft calendar months from her office.  So TRMom and TRDad would email and call each other to update the computer calendar, and TRMom would print out a new version weekly.  We’d tape it to the wall and write in additions for the next week’s printing.  Better, but not great.

    We continued to struggle with finding methods to keep appointments up-to-date, how to remember to look at them, and still have a serviceable method of figuring out what was going on in our active little group.

    And then we got smart phones.

    It took us a good minute to work out the kinks, but we soon found we could easily add or remove calendar items from our shared digital calendars with ease.  And by setting your personal preferences, you can receive reminder messages about all, or some of your events.  Now it is very easy for us to keep track of this crazy busy clan.

    Our good friend Siri can even add calendar events for us, making this the easiest system we’ve used to date.  And you can have your family’s Facebook events automatically populate your digital calendar as well.

    By setting up multiple color coded calendars, you can even make calendars that show your kiddos only the events or reminders that pertain to them, and leave the “Send In Car Payment” notes out of their line of vision.

    We are happy to be able to have synched calendars at a moment’s notice.  It helps keep us all on the same page and limits the surprises. We highly recommend that if available, you consider utilizing these digital calendars for your family.

  6. Two By Two

    January 28, 2015 by admin

    ccall_bi02_38892_md Kids from birth to around 16 years of age do a tremendous amount of growing. Recently our Bluey hopped from a size 5T to 6T within mere weeks. His PJ bottoms inched towards his knees and his jeans were way too tight.

    You can make yourself crazy trying to keep a stock of well fitted clothing and shoes.

    So what to do? Well, a lot is dependent on the age of your child. You can find many unique solutions to the constant need for clothing and shoes when your kids are under 10. But once they start to inch towards puberty, we have found that kids become a lot less flexible about exploring options.

    Our Bluey is six, so we’re enjoying his laissez faire attitude.   We’ve tried a couple of different things to keep ahead of the constant growth.

    Thrifting is a great resource if you have time and patience. Since the stock of clothing is constantly changing, you might not easily find that pair of size 4T pants. You then have to consider if the savings is worth the effort.

    Hand me downs are great- when your kids are the same gender and/or have the same taste in clothing. Our Bluey has inherited many an adored pink kitten shirt from his sister. But the dresses and nightgowns are summarily rejected. So we have an abundance of certain sizes and styles without actually filling the current needs.

    A whole new wardrobe every few months is fantastic. But our budget just can’t handle the turnover demand. We try to stock up, when funds allow, on sale/clearance clothing a few sizes up. But that strategy if very hit or miss. And again, we typically end up with more of one particular item rather than a well-balanced future wardrobe.

    76313_washer_mdOur tried and true problem solver has been to always have at least two pairs of pants and two shirts in the proper size. We have our own washer/dryer and we do a load of wash every day-with four people in the house, the dirty clothing adds up very quickly!  Bluey doesn’t really care what he’s wearing as long as it is comfortable and happens to mostly conform to his broad sense of style.

    Although his clothes wear out pretty fast under this system, they keep up with his knack for outgrowing them, so it all works out.

    We aren’t necessarily saving a boat load of money with this solution to the clothing crises, but we are sane and happy. And Bluey always has something that fits!

  7. Let The Games Begin

    January 14, 2015 by admin

    Pettsons-Inventions-Walkthrough-20We received a tablet computer as a gift some time ago.  We decided, after much discussion, to allow our youngest to use the tablet within certain time periods and in specific situations.  Bluey loves it and we were quite surprised at the amount of excellent apps available.

    Our top three apps for kids (available for iPhone and Android):

    1. Toca Builders – This game allows your child to build designs within a “toca” universe.  There is an amazing amount of manipulation in size, shape, and color available to your youngster.  It is always interesting to see Bluey’s creativity as he flexes his architectural skill.
    2. Pettson’s Inventions – Help Pettson create inventions and celebrate with the app characters when you succeed!
    3. Sprinkle – Indulge your young fire fighter and watch him/her work through logic problems and learn about water physics as your child attempts to put out fires in this adorable world called “Titan.”screen568x568


    We  like these games because they are:

    • Free or Inexpensive:  When you are not sure if a game will work well, or if it will be enjoyable, having a low price point is very important.
    • Challenging But Solvable:  One of the things we like about the tablet is that it puts Bluey in charge.  He figures out the rules and goals of the games, pretty much on his own.  We are always nearby to assist!  But knowing that he is solving these puzzles and designing these creations makes ‘computer time’ a valuable part of our home life.
    • Teaching Basic Computer Skills:  With each finger swipe and click, and every unfortunate crash of the tablet, our young Bluey is learning more about computer technology and systems.  In our increasingly connected world, our youngest knows about wi-fi, battery power, and rebooting games- all due to his time with his tablet.


    We practice a simple but clear system for finding new app.  When a new game is wanted, TRMom and TRDad do the searching and downloading after Bluey’s bedtime.  Each app is checked for appropriateness and functionality.  Does this game fit in with our family views on violence and rules about harsh language?  Are the goals of the game ones we support?  Does the game work?  Or does it require a wi-fi connection?

    It is our experience that if an adult keeps an eye on what games are being played, a tablet with monitored time can be a fun and educational addition to your child’s world.

    Try out these games and let us know what apps are your faves!

  8. Landspeed Record

    November 14, 2014 by admin

    TRMom and Dad can both run 20 yards in one second flat. You might not think we were so swift judging by our physiques/ interest in running. Yet there we are, challenging the Flash to a footrace.

    Bluey’s snoozing in bed, late into the night, and he starts crying out: “Daddy! Mommy!”

    We don’t know what’s the matter, but we know we’re needed.62590_boydad_sm

    Trust us, the high school track coach never saw us move that fast.

    Is he sick? Is it a bad dream? We’ll probably never know, he usually can’t tell us what happened. But Bluey knows that when he calls, we come running. We are there for him- unapologetically there for him- whenever he needs us.

    And should your kiddo jump into the deep end of the pool while you are standing in the shallows, you’ll find yourself putting Michael Phelps to shame as you race across the water.

    We’re all capable of amazing things when called upon.

  9. “I Know.”

    November 5, 2014 by admin

    IMG_7314Sample TR Household dialogue:

    “You’re a great kid.”

    — ‘I know.’

    There are few points in parenting more satisfying than hearing your child assert their own goodness.

    Our kids know they are good kids because we tell them.  We point out when they do the right thing, be it holding the door for someone, or saying they are sorry for something, or offering to help someone else.  They are good kids.

    This doesn’t mean they never do wrong.  Of course they do.  They make mistakes.  They get angry.  They say a hurtful thing.

    But nothing they do changes their basic nature-  they are good kids.  Good kids who make errors.  Who have lapses in judgment.

    So when Bluey or Plum make a mistake, we can address the error without questioning their goodness. Good people screw up on occasion.  Good people have bad moments and bad days.

    Our hope is two-fold:

    1. We hope when our kids are admitting to mistakes, or caught up in a mistake, they remember not to internalize it.

    2. We hope that when our kids find other people erring towards them, they remember that people are generally good and that our kids treat those around them with compassion and understanding.  Doing a bad thing doesn’t make you a bad person.

    You’re a good kid.


  10. Gender Frustration

    October 22, 2014 by admin


    This TRFamily doesn’t enforce gender roles.  We allow our son Bluey to pick out sparkly light-up shoes marketed to girls, if that is where his heart leads him.  And we encourage our daughter, Plum, to fight against gender stereotypes as well as embrace make-up, if that is her desire.  We have never instructed our kids to put back a toy because it is for the opposite gender.  Nor have we ever encouraged them to “be a man” or “act like a lady.”  The list of examples could go on and on and on.

    We think that this philosophy is a big part of what causes gender confusion for adults and children when first encountering Bluey.  Yes, Bluey has an incredible head of very curly hair.  But there are many hip young boys that have longer hair styles.  Yes, Bluey will occasionally choose to wear pink, or another clothing item that is seen by the masses as “girly.”  But many boys and men are breaking out of the stereotypical male color spectrum and clothing styles.

    So what causes so many people to question our son’s gender?  What is the reason that children constantly ask Bluey if he is a boy or a girl?  Bluey doesn’t have overtly feminine characteristics.  He doesn’t bring any beloved dolls, or other stereotypically female toys, on our outings.  Bluey doesn’t refer to himself as a girl.  He isn’t questioning his identity or declaring his gender to be female.

    Bluey does have a strong nurture trait.  He is incredibly talkative.  Bluey likes to engage with others while playing versus running amok destroying things and killing the enemy.  He will happily play with either gender that will accept his friendship- girls are not “gross” to Bluey.  He will admire a friend’s Barbie doll with as much attention as he will a friend’s brand new Transformer.  Bluey watches My Little Pony with as much enthusiasm as he has for the latest Lego Ninjago episode.  And did we mention that he likes to converse?

    It is sad that these characteristics in a young boy seem to throw off the population at large. Everyone seems to second guess their initial assumption that Bluey is a boy.  Shouldn’t a boy be much less interested in conversation?  Shouldn’t a boy want to only play with the other boys?  Why is this boy before me wearing pink?  He must really be a girl!

    We hear all the time, “She has such beautiful hair!”  On rare occasion, Bluey will reply “I’m a boy,” or “I’m a he.”  But usually Bluey ignores the pronoun directed toward him.  What weighs heavily on TRMom and TRDad is that there is any suggestion of confusion in the first place. Our Bluey is comfortable with himself- do these conversations make him question whether or not he is okay?

    Why is society so focused on boxing people up into neat little packages?  And why must our son, at five, have to deal with almost daily intrusions upon his gender identity?  What does it matter, people!  We rarely correct anyone when they identify Bluey as female.  It just doesn’t matter to us, and we don’t want Bluey to think that there is anything wrong with him.

    Recently, a little girl met Bluey at the park and they played happily for about 20 mintues.  The girl ran up to her mom and declared, “Bluey is my new friend. She’s awesome.”  The mother felt the need to correct her daughter, “I think Bluey is a little boy.”  And quick as that, the girl turned around to Bluey stating, “You’re a boy. I’m not playing with you.”

    It’s moments like these that stump us.  Why does the Mom need to correct this gender slip of her daughter’s?  And why is her daughter’s response OK?  Why do kids as young as four years old already believe that they can only play with friends of the same gender?

    Bluey’s long time friends constantly criticize Bluey’s choices by saying things like- “Oh. that’s a girl’s shirt.”  Or “That’s a girl’s TV show.”  No amount of discussion with the friends- “There’s no such thing as a girl’s shirt.  It’s just a shirt-” can penetrate the mountains of gender conformity pressure that kids experience today.

    It makes us very sad,  But we are incredibly grateful that our Bluey dares to do his own thing, in his own beautiful way.  Regardless of society’s loud suggestion that he should change.