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Super Sisters

About the Supersisters

Jen, Kristen, and Patience

Three real-life sisters sharing their kids' antics, milestones and adventures through this crazy journey called motherhood. Find out more »

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Supersisters

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Jen

Time to Say Goodbye

Posted by Jen on October 14, 2010 at 4:35 PM in PBS Values
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It's hard to believe our time at PBS is coming to a close. We'll always be thankful to Jean Crawford for inviting us to be a part of the PBS Parents line-up and believing that our stories, presence and tips on child development could make a real difference to everyday parents online.

Special thanks to Jeanine Harvey and Kevin Dando who brought the best of Supersisters to PBS Facebook fans and believed in us from the very beginning. We'd also like to extend a kind hand to Tracey Wynne for stepping in and providing leadership during an important time of transition for our team. We wish you all the very best.

And last but not least, thank you, our readers and friends who became part of our circle of supersisters. We wouldn't be where we are today without your kind comments and warm support. Like us, you believe in the values PBS represents, and we thank you for caring enough to read along over these last two years.

While we'll greatly miss our time here at PBS, we are excited to look toward the future as our children continue to develop and grow. If our writing here has been meaningful to you, we invite you to come say hello on our personal blogs.

You can find me at jenlemen.com.
You can find Kris at mommyneedsacocktail.com.
You can find Patience at kindnessgirl.com.

Thanks again. It's been a real honor to be here.

Kristen

I Feel Like a Von Trapp Family Singer, Belting "So Long, Farewell"

Posted by Kristen on October 10, 2010 at 9:45 PM in Raising Boys
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Two years ago, my first post for the Supersisters was a post about Ethan teaching Nathan how to climb out of his crib.

It will surprise no one who has followed our craziness over the last two years that just this morning I overheard Nathan trying to teach Mason how to climb out of his crib. Yes, my children are pretty much all the same. Ethan was too busy to teach Mason how to climb out of his crib because he's busy trying to figure out how to make this thing called a "ramp" that his friend Harrison brought to his attention. Apparently if you ride your bike over it really fast, you can go in the air a little. Yay....

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Midday brought us a trip to Lowe's where the boys used rebar as guns that they fired from their shoulders at each other between the piles of concrete. I got a double whammy of a self-righteous mother declaring she doesn't allow her children to play guns (I thought I got away with shoving the rebar in their hands and teaching them how to "reload" when no one was looking) and the incredible amount of filth that was everywhere, thanks to said rebar.

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So pretty much, the more things change, the more they stay the same. While we will no longer be regaling you with stories of emergency room visits and bike riding and crib breakouts here at PBS, you can be sure that wherever we are, those things are still happening.

I leave you with this video which debuted a mere two years ago. I think my favorite thing is either the fact that Nate has only one leg in his pants or the fact that he crosses in front of the video like an SNL skit gone bad. Either way, I'm really glad we didn't name Mason Flying Squirrel.

Patience

Lanterns of Hope

Posted by Patience on October 8, 2010 at 8:50 AM in Activism
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It is one of my most favorite art projects to do with kids. Old recycled jars with some colorful tissue paper glued on and sealed. They become the prettiest lanterns, each one so different and unique. When they are lit, they look like round stained glass windows.

The kids and moms from our street got together one afternoon to paint and chat. We each brought supplies and helped each other set it all up. I find that neighborhoods are so very often looking to belong, people want tribe when living side by side. Even the people that send the very opposite message sometimes are waiting to be cracked open by kindness.

It's amazing what one little light can do, even in a sea of darkness. It sometimes is just enough for someone to find their way. As we lit our lanterns that night, I thought of my friend Brea and her mom and the first time I saw her jars. She did the very same colorful project but used the jars to collect money for ALS research and funding. ALS is a very debilitating neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Fifty percent of patients die within three years. Brea's mom passed away over a year ago.

With a disease that has so little hope around it and so much dark, I was amazed by my friend's deep passion and desire to educate and fight for research. She is the kind of woman, probably much like her mom, whose strength is bringing light and color to a very dark situation. In the same way, just a little can do so much, I was wondering if our lanterns could hold our offerings of hope too.

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Our family is going to put our pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and bills till our lanterns are filled to the tippy top and join in the fight against ALS. My kids love couch digging and hunting under furniture for lost treasures. We all know the laundry produces some cash every now and then. Why not join us? Spend an afternoon with the kids in your neighborhood making your lanterns or jars and see what your street can come up with.
You can find out more about Brea's mom, ALS and how you can help here.

Looks like our time is ending here, thanks for joining us in all the Supersister goodness and friendship! You all have been so very super!

Jen

42 is a Magic Number

Posted by Jen on October 6, 2010 at 7:00 AM in Connecting with kids
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yes we can cupcake

There's nothing happier than waking up to your kids with a big present in tow. With the help of their dad, Madeleine and Carter bequeathed me with a shiny red tea kettle, yummy knee socks and a journal that made me smile. Today is my 42nd birthday, and I am so happy.

Birthdays are tender times for parents. You spend so much time worrying about your kids--from their own birth days (remember all those books you read and how much you wanted their entrance to the world to be just right?) to their actual parties year after year after year. There's not a mother in America who hasn't agonized over her kid's special day, hoping everything will be just right.

You spend so much time focused on your kids that by the time it is your birthday, it's hard to drum up the energy to make it matter for yourself. Don't get me anything, you want to say. Pleeeaase...do not go to any trouble. But these are requests we make out of the memory of our own effort. We don't want anyone to take on the burdens we take to let others know we love them and that they are special--especially when it comes to us.

But learning how to let the love in and making space for the extra trouble is as nourishing to our kids as all the parties we throw and the extreme measures we take to let them know we care. When we collapse down our opportunities to receive, we also fold up like an accordion their capacity to give. It's important for them to register and understand that they have a part to play in the acknowledgment of our efforts, but more importantly the ways we sacrificially love. They need a chance to say and show and display the ways they see us and recognize the gifts we always bring.

I am feeling blessed today that my kids have a dad who understands this and who is committed to helping them register their love in tangible, thoughtful ways. For those of you who don't, I say this is so important that it's worth teaming up with a friend who will help your kids while you in turn help hers, whenever there's a special day of yours that needs noting.

We need the love as much as our kids do, and when we can admit that and let it in, we're all the better for it.

How about you, Supersister? How do you feel when your birthday rolls around? Are you celebrated in your house? Do you care? Share your experience in the comments below.

Kristen

Raising Three Boys

Posted by Kristen on October 4, 2010 at 8:50 AM in Raising Boys
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As the three boys fell out of the car (literally), I glanced to the other side of the "parking lot" at the pumpkin field. A father was walking with three blond brothers down the road. They seemed to be ahead of us by a couple of years. The boys were maybe 3, 5 and 7. As my children screamed (apparently one had rolled under the car and his brothers weren't letting him out), the father with the three boys fielded three different conversations. I tried to get his attention to give him a conspiratorial nod, but he was too focused on maintaining three conversations at once.

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You see, when you have three boys that are relatively close in age, you always notice other people with the same. I imagine this happens with every family, grasping similarities and giving others with the same family make up some form of solitary sign. We don't see a lot of families of three boys, but it's not uncommon for me to have a mom come up to me in the store and say, "I have three boys too and now they are grown up. It's possible." This usually happens when I have kids climbing out of the cart on both sides and a less-than-cheery baby screaming because his method of escape is being hindered by the seat belt.

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I don't know why I am continually surprised by raising boys. Mason spent the better part of the afternoon at the field attempting to climb out the front of the wagon. This would make you believe that what he really wanted was to walk with his brothers. Not really. He really just wanted to continually climb in and out of the wagon. When he did walk, he was obsessed with the rotten apples that had fallen from the trees. He spent an hour trying to pick up all the rotten apples and put them in the basket. If only he felt such passion about toys in his room at clean up time.

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Things picked up for Mason considerably when his brothers graciously showed him that an even better option for rotten apples was to throw them at each other. I looked around the crowded fall locale and not one little girl was throwing apples. Come to think of it, no one else was throwing apples. I sighed and looked at their father. He looked back at me and laughed. I guess this is just the way it is when you have three boys.

Patience

Halloween Fun for Families

Posted by Patience on October 1, 2010 at 4:35 AM in Holidays
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It's October 1st, which officially means we can eat candy corn and watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Trying to do any of those things before October just isn't the same; the candy doesn't even taste right. While we have been talking costumes since July at my house, we decided to add some extra family fun this year. We thought we would share some ideas to get your Halloween creative ideas flowing.

Have a kid Halloween dinner party. The excitement is off the charts for our Harry Potter dinner party tonight. We invited just a few kids, got costumes and have been thrifting for all kinds of cool stuff to turn our dining room into a spooky castle. The kids are dressing up and sitting down for a real meal followed by a board game. It's a nice introduction into entertaining and feels grown-up yet still tons of fun. The literary slant doesn't hurt either; I've never seen kids so excited about books.

Have a family drawing night and make comic books. My kids love all the Ed Emberley drawing books, especially the Halloween one. Make little books out of any paper you have lying around or flip books from a pad of post-its. Sit around after dinner and unlock your family creativity together.

Recycle or make your own costumes. I only make one costume a year since I have four kids, the rest are bought, borrowed or recycled. I find that one costume is always my favorite. I think it is more about the planning, talking, connecting with my kid over something he or she is so excited about. You really don't have to know how to sew or be crazy crafty either. You would be amazed what you can come up with some glue and stuff you already have lying around.

Go pumpkin picking together. We have a local farm that lets you have a many pumpkins as you can hold for $20. The best fun is watching my husband and his gorilla arms try to top his number every year. I think his record is 18. The hayride, apple cider and homemade doughnuts are a huge hit too.

Consider alternatives to candy. Your kids are gonna get tons of candy, we already know this. Why not let your kids catalog shop and pick out a small toy or trinket to give out from your house. Who knows, it might be some other kid's favorite treat?

What Halloween family activities do you do at your house? How do you make the holiday special? Share with us in the comments.

Jen

Who's the Boss Around Here?

Posted by Jen on September 30, 2010 at 9:21 AM
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My friend Ria Sharon of Yoga Parenting recently told me about an element of her parenting course that cultivates critical thinking over obedience in our children.

"This is not the world where we grew up," she told me. "Kids are expected to think for themselves and to know how to make good decisions. Teaching them to blindly obey sets them up for all kinds of problems. It's actually more valuable for them long term to know how to form honest opinions and to know how to to trust their intuition than to go along with the program."

I was scandalized. What?? Teaching kids to speak up? What kind of chaos would ensue under such mandates? No more bedtime? Endless television? Sugar cereal?

But then my own parenting style came quickly into focus. I am holding the line daily on healthy and heartful behaviors, but I am also regularly building in room for dissent. My kids know they have the space they need to suggest other options, to give reasons for alternatives and to argue a good case for doing it exactly how I just asked it not to be done.

Defiance? Or just good solid freedom to act and think?

All parents, I believe, fall somewhere on the continuum. I, for one, was deeply schooled in the listen and obey program, and it has served me well. I know how to follow instructions without discussion. I don't have to understand or subscribe to your values or program in order to be able to implement your plan. This makes for good workers--of which the world needs many, but I'm not sure it's made me a clear thinker when it comes to executing my own values and plans.

On the other hand, I'm not sure my kids in their current incarnation have enough experience in compliance. They're on their own program in many ways, and I don't know if they'll be able to enter the work force and do someone else's bidding when the time comes. Or even if they'll want to. (Note to self: Work on this before the apartment above the garage is occupied forever.)

What say you, parents of the internet? Do you think mayhem happens if we forgo obedience training and hop on the free thinking caravan instead? Can our kids handle the task of thinking for themselves or are we unnecessarily burdening them with a responsibility that is too soon to bear?

I'd like to hear your two cents in the comments below.

Kristen

Sesame Street, Katy Perry and What's Appropriate

Posted by Kristen on September 27, 2010 at 6:47 AM in PBS Values
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One of my favorite things about Sesame Street is that it's relatively watchable by parents too. Sesame Street was one of the original shows to bring in the greats in a way that connects with children and parents alike. My rock-free childhood was saved by The Beetles "Letter B." So when I heard that Katy Perry's Hot N Cold duet with Elmo wasn't going to air because it was deemed too sexy, I was shocked. Okay, at first I laughed. I've met some of the Sesame Street people and the thought of them letting anything through that did not meet high standards was craziness. Craziness, I say.

According to US Magazine, a Sesame Street representative gave the following statement.

"Sesame Street has a long history of working with celebrities across all genres, including athletes, actors, musicians and artists. Sesame Street has always been written on two levels, for the child and adult. We use parodies and celebrity segments to interest adults in the show because we know that a child learns best when co-viewing with a parent or care-giver. We also value our viewer's opinions and particularly those of parents. In light of the feedback we've received on the Katy Perry music video which was released on You Tube only, we have decided we will not air the segment on the television broadcast of Sesame Street, which is aimed at preschoolers. Katy Perry fans will still be able to view the video on You Tube."

I'm torn. I think it was awesome that Sesame Street listened to their viewers, or should I say, their viewers' mothers. The thing is, I don't get what the big deal is. I watched the video. If I'm going to be honest, the first thing I thought when I saw the video was that I didn't think Katy's outfit was flattering for her. Cleavage? Hmm, not so much. Upon consultation with my better half, he agreed that our 1, 3 and 5 year olds would never have even noticed. Maybe it's the years of breast feeding that has reduced our children's focus on breasts as functional. What with the fact that they are functional.

One of my favorite comments was the author's comment about Katy Perry cleaning up her lyrics so they could be acceptable for Sesame Street. Um, that's how it works. The excitement as a parent is wondering how your favorite pop song is going to turn into something rated G by the great minds at Sesame Street.

So maybe Katy Perry shouldn't have been wearing an ice skating outfit with her duet with Elmo. Maybe her dress up outfit could have been less conical. I guess I'm just a little desensitized by all the elementary school dance teams on YouTube wearing tassel tube tops to trashy pop songs. I guess if you are a parent who doesn't take your child to the beach or the pool or out in public at all, you may have a point. But for the rest if us, maybe it's time to take ourselves a little less seriously.

I leave you now with my all-time favorite Sesame Street/Elmo song, accompanied by the Goo Goo Dolls. The song? Slide. For those of you who don't know, it's about a teenage girl who gets pregnant. After being Sesame Streeted, it's a song about Pride. It's one of the best Sesame Street songs ever. Hands down. I mean, other than Letter B.

Patience

Latino Food Lovin'

Posted by Patience on September 24, 2010 at 8:10 AM in Bicultural FamiliesEating
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My husband and his family are from Nicaragua. Growing up in Miami I was surrounded by various Latino cultures and amazing food. Beside morning trips to the Cuban bakery for pastelitos on the way to school, I didn't venture too far off my Americano roots.

Then enters my husband in to my life at the tender age of fifteen. I'll never forget a night I was invited to dinner, the meal being served was la lengua (cow tongue). While this was a special occasion and dish, the teenager in me was freaking out. I was polite and tried some, it wasn't bad but I couldn't wrap my mind around the visual. What I did gain over the years was a deep love for amazing food from all different cultures.

When we travel back to Miami, food is all I can think about. I can taste the Ropa Vieja with black beans and rice or Carne Asada. I dream of such meals, it is almost what I miss most of my old home. Fast forward sixteen years, dragging kids of my own to a new Cuban restaurant that opened in town. My mouth watering for croquetas and yuca frita, for a medianoche sandwich to follow.

"We are going where?" Jack says. His eyes are already making kid food judgments.
"We are going to the new Cuban place, KennTico. I think you'll like it!" I replied.

Pouting and sulking continued until the appetizer came out. His entire face changed when he tasted the ham croquetas.
"Mom, this is really good. I change my mind, this was a good idea." he said.
I realized consistent exposure to different foods helps tremendously. I so want to give in to the macaroni and cheese, chicken nugget lifestyle required and provided everywhere in kid world. It only takes one bite, one new taste to change it all, even for this fifteen year old french fry lovin' girl.


Check out the new Kitchen Explorers blog for more kid cooking goodness.

What do you do to get kids to try new foods? Share your tips and tricks in the comments.

Kristen

Traveling on a Plane Without Children

Posted by Kristen on September 20, 2010 at 7:06 AM in Traveling
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240.JPGI was one of the last to board the plane last night. Coming back from a business trip we had attended together, Derek was on the plane leaving after mine. I was all alone heading home to our kids after a glorious weekend. Parted from my roller carry-on bag due to space issues, I headed down the aisle toward my seat, past several overhead bins with available space which would have been perfectly acceptable for my bag. I'll admit now that may have soured my mood enough to contribute to what happened next.

I climbed into my window seat past a gentleman who was chatting with the woman in the row ahead. I contemplated offering to trade seats so they could be together but something told me she was glad to be seated away from him. As I sat down, I noticed a family of four I had seen in the waiting area just a few minutes before were now seated a few rows back. The three- and four-year-old's bags were loaded with toys and activities for the three hour ride. I was glad it wasn't me.

They were in the midst of deciding who would sit where when the little girl realized she would have to sit beside her father and across the aisle from her mother. At about this moment, the little brother realized he could sit by his mom but not by his sister too. The children began to alternate wailing and sobbing. The noise was deafening. The plane door had yet to be closed by a flight attendant.

The man beside me groaned out loud. My heart sank to my stomach for the parents behind me. I heard her negotiating ("I can hold your hand across the aisle, see?" "Your sister can come over here with us in 15 minutes." "The rules say you have to sit in your OWN seat now but you can sit on mom's lap in just a few minutes.")

"Screaming kids. Great." My seatmate seemed very thrown by this turn of events. His companion turned around to look (as did several other people) and my seatmate declared, "I may have to violate FAA rules and wear my earphones for the first 10 minutes of the flight." Other people started to complain.

The frazzled mother piped up above the hum of the dissent. "We understand, people. If we could, we would change places with you. They'll stop crying in a few minutes. They just both want to sit beside me. I'm really sorry." I saw at least 3 other motherly-looking women snap their heads back in her direction along with me to give their visual support. My seatmate was not impressed.

"I can't even believe this. I can't do this."

Really? You can't do this? I instantly thought about giving birth three times and was somewhat surprised that two despondent children on a plane ride for three hours would be "undoable." Trust me. The last time I said "I can't do this," I was giving birth to a 9 pound baby. I can understand if we are two hours into a screaming fit involving a child with an ear infection that is losing his mind with pain, but these are two tired children that just want to sit with their mom for takeoff and it's not possible.

"I know," I replied to his latest concerns. "If only she would stop poking them with a fork."

He looked at me in stunned silence. I looked at him with the look of a mother who has had screaming kids on a plane and suffered the disapproving looks for things beyond my control. I glanced down at my hand and proceeded to insert one of the $ .25 earplugs into my ear.

Two minutes later the kids were silent. Ten minutes after takeoff, I got up, went to that mom and told her she was a good mother.

It was the least I could do. We parents have to stick together.

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