Three’s a Crowd

January 28, 2015 by Trina Bartlett
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Here’s a secret about being a parent: sometimes we say the most when we say nothing at all.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve recognized that what I value most wasn’t inspired by words but rather by unstated expectations.

For example, I don’t remember my parents ever telling me I should go to college. I just knew that’s what I should do after I graduated from high school. I also just knew that I shouldn’t get married until I was capable of supporting myself. I never believed I should define myself by a relationship or that money mattered more than kindness.

And I never, ever believed I should have more than two children.

My husband, Giles, thought otherwise.

Perhaps our difference stemmed from the fact that I grew up in a family of two children and he grew up in a family of three.

Whatever the reason, he thought we should have three children. Since I’m the one who got pregnant and gave birth, my opinion ruled.

Maybe that’s why he decided that, since I had put my foot down about the number of human children, he should have the final word about the number of furry children in our home.

He knows how much I love animals and about my desire to adopt any stray that shows up at our door…or in the neighborhood… or in the park… or on the side of the road.

And so, he made a rule that, unless we moved to a farm, we could never have more than two pets at one time.

Having grown up in a family that never had more than one furry child at a time, I thought his decree was more than fair  (even though I did attempt to circumvent it a time or two).

Ironically, Giles is the one who broke his own rule.

Initially, he was irritated when I called him before six in the morning. I was attempting to walk our German Shepherd Rodney when a black and white kitten approached. Unlike most cats, especially our fat, grey tortoiseshell cat Skitty, the little kitten actually seemed to like Rodney. And that was the problem.

It wouldn’t leave us alone, so I called Giles.

“Just walk away from it,” he said.

“I can’t,” I replied. It won’t let us. No matter where we go, it follows us.”

“Where are you now?” he asked.

“In our driveway,” I said.

When he said “O.K.,” I assumed that meant he was coming out to help.

I was wrong.

I called him again.

“Where are you now?” he asked.

“Still in the driveway,” I answered. I heard him sigh, but eventually the garage door opened.

If our lives were movies, romantic music would have swelled in the background when he first saw the kitten. It was love at first sight. He scooped her up in his arms and told me to walk Rodney.

By the time we got back from our walk, Giles was asking me to call the vet to make an appointment.

Several months have passed since Artemis joined our family. She’s still cute, she still loves Rodney and Rodney still loves her. He’s especially delighted that tiny Artemis not only acknowledges his presence (unlike her feline older sister Skitty), she is also willing to  roughhouse with him (completely unlike Skitty).

And therein lies the problem.threes a crowd

Before we adopted Artemis, Rodney and Skitty had come to understanding.

Skitty couldn’t stand Rodney, and Rodney knew it. Because of that, he didn’t bother her.

But now that one cat will play with him, our German Shepherd thinks the other one should too. He has become that annoying younger brother who constantly teases and provokes his older sister.

Giles and I are now breaking up fights between the fat grey cat and the large, overly enthusiastic dog several times a day. He pokes at her, she hisses back and chaos ensues.

At these times, I am reminded of my insistence to only have two human children. Maybe I was reacting to more than just an unstated expectation from my parents. Maybe, just maybe, I realized that life would be much more difficult if Giles and I were out-numbered.

In my family, sometimes three really can be a crowd.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering or writing, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

Starting baby on solid food: An unofficial guide

January 26, 2015 by Kelly Weikle
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Disclaimer: I feel like I must prequel this post by saying…This is NOT meant to be a real guide to starting your baby on solids! Consult your pediatrician for advice and instructions on solid foods.

Step 1: When baby is a few months old, read about when to start solid foods. Tell yourself you will stick strictly to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of exclusively breast-feeding for the first six months of life.

Avocado baby food...basically just boring guacamole.

Avocado baby food…basically just boring guacamole.

Step 2: Go to your baby’s four-month check up. Your pediatrician asks if you have started baby on solid foods (No, you have not told me to!). Listen to your pediatrician confirm the AAP’s recommendations – six months. Shake your head in agreement. Listen to recommendations on first foods and think to yourself, “I will definitely listen to my pediatrician.”

Step 3: After many a sleepless night, wonder if the rumors about babies sleeping once they start solids are true.

Step 4: Realize that your baby will be 24 weeks before the six-month anniversary of her birth. Decide that 24 weeks is close enough to start her on solids.

Step 5: Google the following: “Starting baby on solid foods,” and learn that everything you’ve heard is wrong! Become thoroughly confused.

Step 6: Notice baby is more hungry than usual. Decide that 22 weeks is close enough to 24 weeks. Try to convince husband that baby is ready to eat, and he gives in because he knows he is fighting a losing battle.

Step 7: Decide what food to give baby first. What a life-changing decision! Debate benefits of various “first foods.” Call friends for advice. Call mom for advice. Google for advice. Finally settle on oat cereal.

Step 8: Take your baby food blender out of the box to get a head start on making foods and find a recipe book and food guide. Realize you could have saved a lot of time if you had discovered this earlier.

Step 9: Wash baby spoons, baby bowls, baby-food-making accessories. Set baby in high chair; make sure she has on a large bib. Get out the camera. Make oat cereal exactly how the box instructs. Brace yourself for the big moment. Your child’s entire future depends on this first bite. If you mess it up, she will either never eat anything again or only like chicken nuggets for the rest of her life. You are sweating in anticipation.

Step 10: Give baby her first bite of solid food. None of it makes it in her mouth. Continue to “feed” her. The whole ordeal lasts about two minutes before she gets bored.

Step 11: Realize you may have thought about this too much.

Alone On the Curb

January 21, 2015 by Trina Bartlett
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I have no doubt that every child who went to elementary school during the 1970’s experienced the same trauma I did. Fortunately, I only experienced it once – or at least I only remember one incident. There may have been more, but none has stuck with me like the one that occurred that day in second grade.

I remember feeling completely lost and alone as I sat on the curb waiting for a mom who hadn’t arrived.

I don’t remember why I had stayed after school. I just remember that I did and was quite excited to do so. Bon the curback in those days, afterschool activities weren’t the norm for the under ten crowd. We had music lessons and 4-H and Scouts, but none of those activities were associated with school and there was no such thing as afterchool care.

Whatever the reason my friends and I had stayed late, it must have been  a special occasion. I still remember chatting with my friends as we stood on the sidewalk by the playground fence waiting for our moms to pick us up. (In those days, the moms were always the ones who picked up the kids.)

As other moms began to drive up to the curb and my friends climbed into their cars (usually into the front seat, generally without seat belts and always with absolutely no concept of contraptions called car seats), our group got smaller and smaller and smaller.

Eventually, I was the only one still standing on the sidewalk until I tired of that and sat on the curb.

I know anyone born after 1980 is wondering where the adult supervision and teachers were. My answer is “I don’t know.”

Back in those days, vigilance didn’t exist like it does today, and teachers usually went home when the students did. There was a sense of trust in the parents and a sense of safety in daylight – especially in small towns. There was also a belief that situations usually worked themselves out.

Except when they didn’t.

As the sun started making its journey behind the Juniper-covered hills that surrounded the town in which I lived, I sat on the curb and waited. And waited. And waited.

Eventually, a teacher who had stayed late happened upon me as she walked to her car. She didn’t, however, see the same gravity in the situation that I did.

“What’s the matter?” she asked. “You look as though you lost your best friend.”

I remember contemplating her words. My good friends had all left me, but I didn’t think I’d actually lost them. But I didn’t share those thoughts. Instead, I told her I was waiting for my mom.

“Oh, I know your mom,” the teacher said. “I know she’ll be here soon.”

And she was right. My mom did arrive…eventually,

In those days before Google calendars and other electronic reminders, she had simply forgotten that she was supposed to pick me up at school. And, in those days before cell phones, answering machines and vigilant school personnel, I was powerless to remind her. Those things just happened to those of us who grew up in the 1970’s.

Mom may have told me why she didn’t worry when the bus arrived without me. Or she may have told me that she had a meeting and she thought she had babysitting duties covered. I don’t remember because her words never registered. I was too relieved and grateful that I wasn’t going to have to spend the night on the curb and wear the same clothes to school the next day.

I was reminded of this incident a few weeks ago as a read a post that has been recycled through social media a few times. It is a reminder of what would now be considered parenting fails but  were acceptable when I was young. And my generation survived anyway.

We didn’t wear bike helmets (although I do remember the humiliation of swimming caps). We played outside with no supervision (unless you count our dogs which all ran free without any type of fence – even electric.) And we weren’t electronically connected to everyone we knew.

If we were out of our parents sight, they never knew where we were, if we were safe or when we would actually arrive home.

I can’t imagine being a parent during that time period, and I give my parents kudos for being so strong.

Apparently, I am much weaker.

Both of my children have cell phones with which they use to constantly communicate with me.

I know if their plans have changed and they are going home with a friend after school. And when they text me such information, I can immediately text the friend’s parents to confirm.

I know when the band bus is running late or early, so I can arrive at the school in a timely manner. I don’t have to sit in a parking lot for hours waiting for a bus to arrive and imagining all that could possibly have gone wrong.

And I know that the school has my cell phone number so I don’t have to be sitting at my office desk to get a notice that my child is sick or is in detention (yes I have experienced that parental fail.)

Those of us who had the true 1970’s childhood experience may laugh at how much we protect our children these days, but deep in our hearts, we are also extremely grateful. Changes in technology and society ensure that our children will never be sitting alone on a curb waiting for a ride home.

And if that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is.

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering or writing, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

On a quest for immunity

January 20, 2015 by Lauren McGill
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Oh, the lengths to which we will go to keep our children healthy.

I’ve tried potions, powders, vitamins, boosters — sometimes, to no avail (and instead, to the detriment of my checking account).
It’s easy to fall for the promises these products make, especially in times like these: the height of cold and flu season. It was summer when I first found myself on the quest for that magic bullet that would end our streak of once-a-month doctor visits to treat the runny nose that always, inevitably, turned into an ear infection.

I pumped all the doctors in our pediatrician’s office for advice, then messaged friends and family in the health care field — they all basically told me the same thing: the “immunity boosters” I was asking about might help, or they might not … it probably wouldn’t hurt to try them.

So then, like any other Dr. Mom would, I fell into the rabbit hole known as the Internet. Here are some of the things I emerged with:

Multivitamins: Maybe your tot eats three square meals a day, made up of rainbow-colored fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean proteins. Or maybe you’re living here in the real world with the rest of us and you’re lucky to get your busy preschooler to eat anything at all — let alone anything that can remotely be deemed “balanced.” A multivitamin is an easy extra step to provide some extra nutrients your child might not be getting naturally. Before our kiddo warmed up to the idea of chewable vitamins, we used a powdered blend mixed into his daily yogurt (bonus: probiotics!).

Just a few products in one mom's arsenal against seasonal illnesses.

Just a few products in one mom’s arsenal against seasonal illnesses.

Echinacea: A popular herb that could help lessen a cold or flu if taken at the onset of symptoms, echinacea falls very squarely in the category of “could help, can’t hurt.” In terms of keeping the whole family a little healthier, it’s a relatively cheap option to try, with capsules for adults costing a few bucks a bottle. My almost-3-year-old is skeptical when I try to mix the liquid form into his drink, so I drop his dose in a medicine cup and have him drink it straight. I prefer mine in tea form, with extra honey. 

Essential oils: These are still relatively new to me, but they have been the method with which I have been the most consistent. My daily go-to is a few drops of Young Living’s Thieves blend — a spicy-smelling oil designed to boost immunity and kill bacteria. The cons of this product are its price, and the fact that you can’t just go out and buy it in a store. The pros are that, in my experience, it truly works. I’ve “beaten back” a cold by upping my usage at the first sign of a tickle in the back of my throat. My son thinks it’s hilarious that I put drops of the oil on the bottoms of his feet in the morning and at night, so he excitedly brings me the bottles and never protests their application. And since it also happens to smell lovely, the fact that I diffuse it in the house the first 30 minutes we’re home each day just means our home also smells nice and inviting, without chemicals or smoky candles.

Immunity boosting powder: We’ve been using this seasonally, especially on days when the notices of contagious illnesses are posted around school. It has a better taste than the powdered vitamins so it’s easier to pass off to suspicious youngsters (it turns regular applesauce a great, bright pink color) and since the recommended dose is such a small amount, a single container goes a long way. 

Superfoods: My blender kicked the bucket this year, so we’re not sipping green smoothies in this house, but I do try to capitalize on the vitamin-packed fruits my son WILL eat. We’ve had success not just offering blueberries, but offering specific amounts (“Do you want three blueberries, or five?”) which is usually enough to get him started eating them, and he often finishes way more that the initially agreed upon serving. Oranges are a traditional kid-favorite, packed with Vitamin C. The 10-lb. bags of seedless naval oranges being sold at Sam’s Club right now are truly awesome because the sections separate beautifully, if your child (like me) hates the bits of white pith that are often left behind.

Proper hygieneThe simplest, the cheapest, and probably the most effective answer to the “how to stay healthy” question is to avoid germs in the first place, but even the most vigilant moms can find this hard to do 100 percent of the time. Have you tried to hold a squirmy toddler over a sink to wash their hands lately? Bring a raincoat. I, personally, hate waterless hand sanitizer, for all its many, convenient forms that all end up leaving my hands feeling both sticky AND dried out, and itchy to boot. Instead, I keep individually wrapped WetOnes Sensitive hand wipes in all my bags (bonus: they’re gentle enough to swipe over messy faces, too). But even if you are successful in cleaning hands and surfaces before every meal and snack, there’s still a very good chance your young child will run from you and lick the plastic play food at the library on the same day the flu is deemed an “epidemic” in your state. Not that I have any firsthand knowledge of such things …

However, for all my cursory research on matters of immunity, for all the times I’ve swiped my credit card at the pharmacy or the Healthy Life Market for THE product that I was sure would stop noses from dripping and fevers from spiking, I’ve learned that there is no magic potion, or combination of preventative measures that will end sick days once and for all.

But with each friend and fellow parent that reports an unstoppable stomach virus, another round of antibiotics, or even — heaven help us — the flu, I can’t help but ramp up my regimen of over-the-counter health aids.

And with every week ticked off the calendar that didn’t include a doctor’s visit, I catch a glimpse of that magic bullet as it whizzes by, maybe — just maybe — a little slower this time.

Lauren McGill is the city editor of the Charleston Daily Mail. She and her husband, Chuck, live in Charleston with their almost-3-year-old son and an aging house cat. Follow her on Twitter at

Life with a 5-month-old baby

January 19, 2015 by Kelly Weikle
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The great unknown – that’s what I considered my future when I was pregnant. I had no idea what life would be like with a baby. So, instead of consulting a psychic and a crystal ball, I read mommy blogs. My favorite? “Day in the life” posts. I read them all: stay-at-home moms, working moms, work-from-home moms and everything in between. For me, it’s reassuring to see that I’m not alone in having weeks of clean laundry living in a pile in my laundry room, or that in that “cooking dinner” is sometimes throwing in a frozen pizza. So here it is, your stereotypical “day in the life” post. If hearing about how long it takes me to get out of the house in the morning isn’t your cup of tea, then I suggest you stop reading now. I don’t pretend that my days are especially difficult or original; I would say they are pretty average (or below average!). Enjoy…

  • 3:00 a.m. Wake up to baby crying on the monitor. Change diaper, nurse baby. She luckily goes right back to sleep. Crawl back in bed.
  • 5:30 a.m. Wake up to baby crying on the monitor. Chris gets up, changes her diaper, and brings her to me to nurse. Then he takes her downstairs to eat breakfast and I get in the shower. The day has begun!
  • 6:05 a.m. Realize I am not in the shower but still in bed. Actually get up and get into the shower.
  • 6:30 a.m. Chris passes AJ on to me. Take her downstairs with me to eat breakfast (cereal) and make coffee.
  • 6:45 a.m. Back upstairs to finish getting ready. Put AJ in her bouncer chair and she watches me put on makeup and do my hair. Talk nonsense to keep AJ entertained, topics range from how to put on mascara to why I love Taylor Swift. Then Chris picks her up and changes her into her clothes for the day.
  • 7:15 a.m. Finished getting ready. Wonder how early I am going to have to get up once AJ is mobile and I have to chase her around all morning. Go downstairs and pack my pumping gear; Chris gets AJ’s bottles ready. Say goodbye to Chris and AJ (he takes her to daycare) and leave for work.
  • 7:34 a.m. Walk into work (thankful for a short commute).
  • 7:34 – 8:30 a.m. Emails, read news, to-do list, coffee.
  • 8:30 a.m. Pumping time. Bring computer into the motherhood room with me so I can continue working.
  • 9:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Work. Return phone calls, write emails, tackle to-do list.
  • 10:45 a.m. Pump again, earlier than normal because I have an off-site meeting during lunch.
  • 11:15 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Off-site lunch meeting.
  • 2:30 p.m. Pump.
  • 3:00 p.m. Work.
  • 4:30 p.m. Leave work to pick up AJ at daycare. Wonder if she will still be in the clothes she arrived in (it’s about a 50/50 chance). She is!
  • 5:15 p.m. Arrive home after a car ride of AJ crying. I think she prefers 102.7 to NPR. Lament that it takes me 10 minutes to get to work and 45 to get home. Throw on black yoga pants and a T-shirt and immediately change AJ and get her in the bath, something we’ve been doing to combat cold and flu season.
  • 5:45 p.m. AJ is out of the bath, toweled, diapered, lotioned and PJ’ed. Nurse her. Chris gets home around this time.
  • 6:15 p.m. Chris plays with AJ while I tackle dinner. Despite not having been to the grocery store in ages, decide that we absolutely cannot eat out and scrounge the fridge for something edible. Surprisingly come up with an egg, cheese and Quinoa combination with a side of green beans and a slice (or three) of bacon.
  • 7:15 p.m. Eat dinner, then play with AJ. Make lots of funny faces, help her sit up, and listen to the chirps and squeals of her toys. Chris cleans up and washes the dirty bottles and pumping accessories.
  • 7:40 p.m. AJ gets fussy and I know the reason. So it’s upstairs for bedtime, which involves nursing, lullabies and rocking.
  • 8:30 p.m. AJ decided to rally and is wide-awake. Give up on the rocking and take her into our bedroom, where she falls asleep to the sounds of the previous night’s episode of Modern Family.
  • 9:00 p.m. Put AJ in her crib and creep out as quietly as possible. Choose bill paying over laundry folding for my end-of-the-evening activity. Wish that a wiggle of my nose would transfer the two baskets of clean, unfolded clothes neatly into drawers.
  • 10:00 p.m. Wash face, brush teeth, and call it a night.

Sprinkle in a few meltdowns and a diaper run here and there, and this is my typical day with my 5-month-old. The weekdays go by incredibly fast, and the weekends even faster.


January 14, 2015 by Trina Bartlett
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Of my many flaws, believing that I only have a few isn’t one of them.

On the flip side, I’m very, very good finding fault in almost everything I do.

It’s a trait that I come by honestly – it was passed down by the maternal side of my family, but I’m not sure whether its longevity is linked more to nature or nurture. While my mother and grandmother excelled at identifying their own weaknesses, they were less successful at keeping those discoveries to themselves.

I am cursed by these same behaviors.

As a little girl, I  grew up hearing my mother talk about her mistakes, missteps and misfortunes. When I became a teenager, she no longer had to point them out because I did an outstanding job of doing that for her.  Now, I just point out my own.

And even though I’m well aware of the warnings from psychologists and child development experts that we can damage our children when we speak poorly of ourselves, I do it anyway.

And yes, my children picked up on my behavior. What they haven’t done is repeat it. Perhaps their father’s side of the family is more dominant than mine, because they haven’t even taken my concerns about my inadequacies very seriously.

Instead, they’ve turned them into a running joke

When I started saying “I’m a horrible mom,” to note that I had experienced a parenting fail, they quickly picked up on the phrase.

When I expressed dismay or worry about a decision, one of them would say “Hash Tag Horrible Mom.” They found it so amusing that they began using it as the punctuation mark to most of my sentences – almost as a sign of affection.

And while I may suffer from an intense need to openly identify all my faults, I don’t lack a sense of humor.

That means I can not only appreciate how ridiculous I can be, I can also have fun.

And so it was last Sunday night when my daughter and her BFF were trying to complete a display for their social studies fair project. I tried to assist as needed, but I was actually contributing to the silliness as much, if not more, than they were.

I was attempting to restore some order to the overly loud and raucous high -jinks, when my daughter  played the Celine Dion song “My Heart Will Go On.” Kendall knows none of us can be serious when that song plays – especially since her brother shared Matt Mulholland’s  You Tube video “My Heart Will Go On – By Candlelight.”  (My Heart Will Go On – By Candlelight)

As soon as the first sorrowful notes began to play, I stopped in mid reprimand to launch into song – complete with overly dramatic arm gestures and facial expressions. The girls joined in, and the social studies project was forgotten.

At least, it was forgotten until my husband marched into the family room to complain about the noise level, of which I was a primary contributor.

When he left the room, I muttered “what a grumpy dad” under my breath.

The girls picked up on my words immediately. “Hash Tag Horrible Mom Hash Tag Grumpy Dad,” they said. The line has stuck.

Ironically, I no longer consider their words to be a reminder of our faults.

Instead, they are a reminder that, even though we may do many things wrong, my husband and I have obviously done just as many things right.

We encourage our children to pursue their passions. We help with school projects.  And, perhaps most important, we have a home that promotes creativity and freedom of expression (within reason of course).

If the worst my children can say about us is “Hash Tag Horrible Mom and Hash Tag Grumpy Dad,” then I maybe I should start ending my sentences with “#notsohorribleofamomafterall.”

Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering or writing, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.

Why kids are so quick to fall for Frozen

January 13, 2015 by Lauren McGill
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Just a year ago, I couldn’t tell you what the plot of ‘Frozen’ was. I had been vaguely aware of two princesses, Elsa and Anna, and a snowman that somehow came into play. I hadn’t heard “Let it Go,” and was proud of that fact. I thought the movie would never be part of our home collection, because, frankly, we have a son and not a daughter.
I was wrong.
For parents of young children, there is no escaping “Frozen.” (Cue choruses of “Duh!” from those who have been stuck in the deep freeze grip of the movie since it hit theaters in 2013).
There’s just something about Disney movies in general that immediately grabs youngsters. Our boy was already fast friends with Lightning McQueen and Dusty Crophopper. Elsa, though, became a whole ‘nother animated obsession.

Dad thinks Olaf is pretty funny and Mom likes Anna's spunky nature, but it's Elsa who has captured this boy's heart.

Dad thinks Olaf is pretty funny and Mom likes Anna’s spunky nature, but it’s Elsa who has captured this boy’s heart.

Thanks to viewings with friends and on the occasional “Friday movie day” at day care, he caught the “Frozen” bug. We’d watch the music clips on YouTube until Christmas came, when finally, his very own copy of the movie landed, as promised, under the tree. The day after Christmas, we gathered to watch it — a first full viewing for parents, grandparents and our boy’s very patient, kid-less uncle.
Sure, the movie is great — it’s quick-paced with lots of heart and wit, the latter mostly thanks to the lovable snowman, Olaf. The music is catchy and brilliant.
But none of us adults really felt like we had gained an understanding of what made this film in particular so instantly intoxicating to young girls AND boys.
Then, an essay posted on last week helped to shed some light on the issue. The piece, “The Science of Why Your Kids Can’t Resist Frozen,” was written by two psychologists who also happen to be sisters, and moms. Their explanation for the widespread appeal of the movie really caused it to click for me. See what you think. Here’s an excerpt:


First, a preschooler’s emotional world is reminiscent of Frozen heroine Elsa’s internal struggle: Her emotions are strong, passionate — and seem uncontrollable. Preschoolers too, are driven by their impulses. When Elsa laments that she’s afraid that there’s “no escape from the storm inside of me,” it resonates with young children (and perhaps their patience-tested parents, as well).

Makes sense, especially when you consider that Elsa is the runaway fan favorite in this film.

Still, I tried to pump my small child for more insight. I wasn’t totally successful.

Me: Which character in ‘Frozen’ do you like the best? Olaf? Kristoff?
Boy: How about Elsa?
Me: Well what’s your favorite part of ‘Frozen’?
Boy: Elsa!

Our conversation continued, but you get the idea.

So as we continue to delve deeper into the world of Arendelle, learning ALL the words to the songs and waiting (hoping?) for a sequel, I’m curious: Why do you think all kids fall so quickly and easily in love with “Frozen”?


Lauren McGill is the city editor of the Charleston Daily Mail. She and her husband, Chuck, live in Charleston with their almost-3-year-old son. Follow her on Twitter at

Baby talk

January 12, 2015 by Kelly Weikle
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“Grab her Sophie,” I said, as my mother stared blankly back at me.

“Her what?”

“Her Sophie! …The giraffe toy.”

“Did you name her toy Sophie?”

“No, that’s her name,” I responded. Then it occurred to me that not everyone knows what a “Sophie” is. “The name of the toy is Sophie. Sophie the giraffe. She’s French.”

Sophie is the favorite chew toy of millions of babies, including AJ. A “must” on many registry lists. Mention “Sophie” to a mom with a baby and she most likely knows what you mean.

For my whole life, I was on the “what?” end when it came to conversations about babies or baby things. Now, bring up the brand Medela and I’ll jump in with a “mine is the double automatic” (Medela is a breast pump and breastfeeding accessory brand).

“Put her in her mamaRoo,” is another phrase I say often, and get blank stares in return except when I’m talking to my husband. AJ’s mamaRoo is a type of infant swing; it looks like a space ship and has five different swing settings, including ‘kangaroo’ and ‘car seat.’

“Rock n’ Play” is another type of infant sleeper swing that even doctors will refer to as common language. If you are expecting, it’s time to brush up on your infant swing brands. Us moms refer to our swings with the same affection we use when talking about a loved one. And for good reason, when all else fails, mamaRoo comes to the rescue.

I started to realize just how ingrained I was into parenting speak when I put together a Christmas list of items for AJ for the grandparents. I had to include web links of examples on almost all the items. If you would have shown me the list I created a year ago I would never have heard of anything on it.

There are countless other brands, words and phrases I never knew or used before I was a mom – bulb syringe, Boogie Wipes, tummy time, just to name a few. Not to the mention the subjects I never knew could be so interesting, like a discussion about sleep methods, introducing solid foods, or poop.

I’m sure a couple years from now, my parenting lingo will include the latest Disney princess movie, the sippy cup that AJ likes best, and maybe even some words she’ll make up on her own.

I knew motherhood would change me in many ways, but I didn’t know an increased vocabulary would be one of them.

The Pink Lady and the Microfilm Machine

January 7, 2015 by Trina Bartlett
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I am a more than three decades older than my daughter, and she reminds me of that on a daily basis.

She doesn’t actually say anything to me. She’s simply 13 and in the eighth grade while I am quickly closing in on a half century.

She can watch her favorite television series on Netflix. When I was her age, only very lucky kids, of which I was not one, had VCRs. If I missed an episode of my favorite show, I had to wait for a re-run and hope that my brother didn’t want to watch something that same night.

She has her own cell phone that tracks everyone who calls her (although she gets many more text messages than actual phone calls). When I was her age, my family had one land-line phone and no one had answering machines.  If we missed a call, we just missed a call.

She literally has a world of information at her fingertips, whether on her phone, a tablet or computer. When I was her age, I had no options but to go to the public library when I wanted to do research.

But sometimes, even in these high-tech days, 13-year-old girls still need to go to the public library to do research.

Such was the case this past weekend when I took Kendall and Bri, her BFF (best friend forever) to the local public library. They are doing their social studies fair project on the history of a local theater where they love to perform. During their interview with a long-time volunteer and default historian (an interview Bri recorded on her iphone instead of on a pad of paper or on a tape recorder), he gave them a list of resources in old newspapers dating back to 1912 that they could probably research at the local library.

That’s the reason I found myself giggling with two 13-year-old girls on a rainy Saturday afternoon as we browsed reels of microfilm from newspapers published more than a century before.

The content was both microfilmamusing and educational.

There was an three-column story about a “well-respected colored man” who had died after eating a large meal. The article described his last few minutes right down to the moment when he raised his hands above his head and proclaimed “Lord have mercy” before he collapsed.

There was a story about a “musical mule” that ate the keys off a piano.

And there were many, many articles about the day-to-day happenings of local residents who had gone on vacation, visited relatives or held parties. There was even an article about my daughter’s great-grandfather.

As we used the rather antiquated technology of microfilm to take a trip back in time, Kendall and Bri snapped photo after photo on their iphones as they giggled and sent text messages. I couldn’t help but note the paradox.

Then, a brief note about a lady dressed in pink who made male hearts flutter sent all of us into peals of laughter.the pink lady

When I finally caught my breath, I asked “Why would this be in the newspaper?”

Bri didn’t miss a beat.

“How is our news today any better? One-hundred years from now, people are going to laugh at us because we had headlines about Miley Cyrus twerking.”

She had a point – a really good point actually. And her words helped make our time together at the microfilm machine even more meaningful.

We left the library that afternoon with much more than a few pieces of copy paper for a social studies project. We left with a mutual understanding about life.

Times change. Attitudes change. Styles change. Even people change.

But the distance between generation shrinks when we realize our shared experiences, which we may document with different technology and with different language,  greatly outweigh our differences.

The pink lady – and the local public library – taught me that.

Moving on up

January 6, 2015 by Lauren McGill
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Monday was a big day.

Our not-quite-3-year-old “graduated” to a new classroom at day care. Typically, this would be an event that would have already happened to us two or three times, but we’re still fairly new to the day care scene.

Perhaps it was those memories, still fresh, of tearful goodbyes in the mornings, of sneaking away while teachers distracted him, that had me apprehensive for the start of this week.

My "big boy" and I discussed his new classroom and teachers Monday evening over a vanilla Frosty.

My “big boy” and I discussed his new classroom and teachers Monday evening over a vanilla Frosty.

See, fortunately for us, our little guy was cared for by a babysitter for the first two years of his life. When she decided to pursue work outside the home, we set off on a bit of a scramble to find a new sitter — an effort that largely proved fruitless.

So, we found ourselves at day care, touring the building as children rested peacefully on nap mats. “This will never work,” I thought to myself, thinking of my toddler who resists all sleep when other people are present in the room.
“No outside food or drink allowed.” Gulp. He’s not going to eat. Stairs? Nope. Potty training? Uhh…

I zeroed in on all the ways the transition would be “too difficult” for our son. A lump quickly formed in my throat. But after we left that day, we considered all the ways it might be really beneficial for our whole family.

So, we forged ahead. And yeah, there were tears — from me, from our son, who had his schedule adjusted, gained approximately a dozen new classmates all at once and was foisted into an entirely new environment. But those days were few, and it wasn’t long before he was bounding into the classroom each day, talking happily about his teachers and learning the names of all his friends.

I knew he had become the oldest 2-year-old in his room when fall rolled around. Just before the holidays, his lead teacher informed me that he’d be moving up to a new class, with a few others, at the first of the year. Cue the lump in my throat.

Though it was just down the hall, I worried about him leaving the teachers he’d grown to like so well — especially the one who helped usher him through those difficult first few days.

Turns out, I should have listened to our kiddo the countless times he told me that he’s ‘a big boy’ now. My husband and I both took him to “school” Monday to encourage him through the transition, but we were barely able to pull off his coat before he went running into his new room, ready to explore.

My husband, well versed in the world of sports, equated this move to a player’s advancement to AA baseball. Our son’s trip across the hall to the 4-year-old room will be his promotion to AAA, one measly step from “The Show” — the major leagues — Kindergarten.

It’s just another step that will come too quickly, in our minds, but that our son will be all too ready for.


Lauren McGill is the city editor of the Charleston Daily Mail. She and her husband, Chuck, live in Charleston with their almost-3-year-old son. Follow her on Twitter at