Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Polka-Dotted Children, Rattlesnakes, and Vaccines OH MY

When I was pregnant with my first baby, the doctor noted (with some alarm) that, for some reason, I wasn't vaccinated for rubella.

Getting the shot while you're pregnant can carry risks, so he marked my chart with all sorts of red pen arrow scribbles and neon yellow highlighter to GET VACCINATED IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING BIRTH.

"Until then," he advised, only half joking, "steer clear of any polka-dotted children."

As if you need another thing to worry about when you're carrying your first baby, right?

Note: This is a photo of me during my third pregnancy. There are exactly zero photos of me during my first two pregnancies, because this is what I look like when I'm pregnant and I was obviously far too large and tired to go find a camera until my third try.

I can't remember for sure, but I bet I had nightmares at least once a week about being surrounded by sick, bumpy kids, floating on a giant raft of NOPE through a sea of rubella germs. Of course, outside my weird pregnancy dreams, the odds were low I'd really come in contact with someone who was infected...but the price to pay if you are exposed to the disease while incubating your baby (birth defects, miscarriage, brain damage, etc.) are enough to keep you up at night, anyway.

You'd do anything to keep your kids safe, and that starts before they're born.

I didn't end up having to avoid any "polka-dotted children" during that pregnancy, but make no mistake — I would have skipped a birthday party for the Queen herself in a heartbeat if she'd so much as had the sniffles.

Because hey, you just don't take a chance on your baby's health. If there's something you can actively do to reduce the risk of them getting sick, you do it. Plus, frankly, I don't want to catch the sniffles either, even if they're some kind of fancy royal variety.

So when my son was born, tiny and vulnerable and thirteen weeks premature, I did everything in my power to protect him. I enforced hand washing rules until most of my family members barely had any skin left up to their elbows. For the first few months, I didn't take him out to the mall or a kindergarten classroom or anyplace else that tends to be filled with people who might carelessly cough in his general direction. And yup, I made sure he got every vaccine under the sun as soon as he was medically able to get them.

Here he is at 2 1/2 weeks old; he'd graduated from wearing surgical masks on his buns to actual preemie diapers, but his arm was still about the size of my thumb. Of course now he's fifteen and taller than me, but that's a different sad story!

For me, vaccinations are just another way to protect my kids' health and safety, the same way I protect them from germs by teaching them proper bathroom hand-washing hygiene, or protect them from danger by telling them they can't have a rattlesnake as a pet.

I mean, is there a chance they could have a pet rattlesnake and never get bitten? Sure.

But parenting is all about weighing risk versus benefit—and preventable disease, like a venomous rattler bite, is something I'm not willing to risk my kids going through. Not if I can help it. Luckily vaccines are basically 100% benefit with none of the risk, because they're safe...safer even, I'd wager, than the surface of my kids' (probably unwashed) bathroom hands.

This post was written in partnership with I Vaccinate, but all belief in medical science and junk is my own. I don't write about stuff like this very often, but when I found out that my state has one of the worst childhood and overall vaccination rates in the nation (only 54% of toddlers here are up to date on their shots, believe it or not) I wanted to speak up about how important I believe it is. Check out I Vaccinate for more details and facts, and then make sure your kids are covered (not to mention yourselves, parents—that rubella is no joke).

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I'll Take a Side of Athletics With My Kids' Academics, Please

The other day my mom referred to me as the “athletic one” in our family, which made me laugh so hard I almost pulled a muscle (something, incidentally, that probably wouldn’t happen to someone who was actually athletic).

As I tried to catch my breath, my mom had to agree that the standards for athleticism were pretty low at my house when I was growing up. “Well,” she explained, “my parents always emphasized academics over sports. Heck, my sister was considered the athletic one when we were kids, and that’s just because she liked horses! She didn’t even ride them, she just liked them!”

So, that’s how she raised us too, which meant that I was considered “sporty” based on the fact that I was slender and took an elective gym class once (which I dropped on the second day of the semester, by the way). My parents didn’t seem to care too much about what happened in gym; they did, however, have an elaborate cash-based reward system for classroom grades that ensured I always made the honor roll.

We had a good laugh, but I had to wonder: How many other households out there, either through example, their family reward system, or just with passing comments, tend to support academic fitness over physical fitness?

Well, this year I’ve spent a lot of time volunteering in my youngest kid’s kindergarten classroom, and let me tell you, it’s been a real eye-opener—and not just because of the shocking amount of nose picking that goes on.

Her teacher has the class do fifteen minutes of aerobics and stretches to prep their minds for learning at the start of each day. At the beginning of the year, I have to sheepishly admit I kind of saw that as a waste of valuable learning time (please don’t tell Mrs. Rose I said that, though). After all, they have gym class, don’t they? But I changed my tune in a hurry when I saw the difference in the kids on days when they didn’t have time to get their blood flowing—lethargic and distracted, to say the least. The same thing happens when bad weather keeps recess confined to the classroom, too.

And as for my question, “They have gym class, don’t they?” Yes, they have gym.

One day a week. For forty minutes.

When you add in twenty minutes for daily recess (or less, if they sit there and pick at their lunch instead of eating it, which OF COURSE THEY DO, because they’re kids), you’re looking at around two hours of PE-related activity total per week. And we aren’t alone at our school; only 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools, and 2% of high schools provide daily PE or its equivalent for the entire school year.

Many people, myself included (until this year), are unaware of how little physical activity today's learners are afforded.

Let’s face it, though we know that children need sixty minutes of physical activity a day, we mostly just tell ourselves that our kids go to the playground and chase the dog around the house plenty. But is it adding up to an hour of active play? What about when it’s rainy? What about all those months when it’s ALREADY DARK by the time you get home? What about kids who don’t have a safe place to play, or sixty minutes of outdoor supervision at home when their parents aren’t busy making dinner, helping with homework, or giving baths?

PE programs can help fill that gap.

Plus, PE class builds confidence and skills they can’t get in other learning environments. Seeing my own daughter's face light up in gym class when she finally managed to dribble a basketball properly was a game changer for me. It was the same look of pride and accomplishment that she gets when she finishes another sight word book, or gets a question right in class.

We can’t deprive our kids of these moments.

We have to show them that we value PE programs, or else our kids will grow up believing that it’s unimportant, compounding the problem for future generations. Now that I understand the connection, I’m stopping the “academics over athletics” mindset in my house.

Because PE doesn’t just help our kids feel better, it also helps our kids learn better.

Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, aims to foster a national conversation about the need to ensure quality PE as a part of every child’s education, because they understand that there’s a strong connection between physical education and academic performance. PE and classroom learning go hand in hand to address the whole child, mind and body.

The good news is that the federal education law, ESSA, now includes PE and health as part of what they describe as a “well-rounded curriculum,” meaning that these programs are eligible for federal funding. However, each state has to develop their own plan, and if PE isn’t included in a state’s plan, it won’t have access to that funding!

Do you know if your kids are getting enough PE? Join the PE Action Team at Voices For Healthy Kids to protect physical education. Then stop here to learn more about how you can work to increase PE in your community!

This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

Can you survive cold season with kids?

Cough and cold season is here, and I'm teaming up with Boogie Wipes and Saline Soothers to help you and your family feel better faster with a Cough & Cold Giveaway.

When Kids Get Sick

From the first sniffle to feeling downright sick, Boogie Wipes has tips, tricks and hacks to guide you through the entire cough and cold season (including great information on how to keep germs from spreading between siblings!)

Click here to read through their cough and cold survival guide and be prepared for the season.


When YOU Get Sick

It's bad enough when your kids aren't feeling well, but when you aren't feeling well, it's downright miserable. While there's no cure for the common cold, Saline Soothers Nose Wipes provide soothing comfort for sore noses with Natural Saline, Vitamin E, Aloe and Chamomile.

Click here to learn more about Saline Soothers and grab a coupon.


It All Comes Down to Saline

Whether you reach for Saline Soothers or grab your kids' Boogie Wipes, it all comes down to Natural Saline. The Natural Saline in both products dissolves mucus, while the Vitamin E, Aloe and Chamomile soothe and comfort even the most sensitive skin. Click here to learn more about the benefits of all-natural saline.

Enter to Win!

Stock up on your cough and cold supplies so you're ready when sickness strikes this season. Complete the form below to enter to win! (Click here to enter if you do not see the form.)

One winner will be randomly chosen to receive Boogie Wipes, Saline Soothers, Burt's Bees cough drops, Purell hand sanitizer, DavidsTea Cold 911 tea and color-changing mug, plus a $100 Target gift card.

Giveaway ends on Monday, November 21, 2016 at 11:59 pm ET. Giveaway is open to residents in US and Canada over the age of 18. If winner lives in Canada, alternate gift card will be provided of same value.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

20 Things You Never Want To Hear From Your Kids

Of course you want your kids to hit developmental speech and hearing milestones and openly communicate with you, but let’s face it—you don’t want them to communicate EVERYTHING, lol. Here’s a funny list of things you don’t ever want to hear your kids say, as well as some valuable information and resources for parents to help recognize signs of hearing loss in children and find ways to potentially help them hear better. | Cochlear | ad | IWantYouToHear

There are few things as important to parents as communication with our kids. From the time they’re born we can’t wait to hear what they’re thinking—like what’s going on in their heads when they spend 20 minutes laughing crazily at a beam of sunshine, and why do they insist on eating random things they find on the sidewalk?!? We want them to understand us when we say, “Don’t put your gum on the dinner table—this is why we can’t have nice things!” and for them to be able to just tell us what’s bothering them instead of screaming inconsolable toddler-babble about it for two hours straight.

Of course I’m kidding (sort of); what we’re really waiting for are the I-love-yous and the bedtime songs, we’re listening for coos and babbles to evolve into mama and dada. Eventually we hope to be lucky enough for them to grow into tweens and teens who continue to tell us what’s bothering them, and who understand us when we say, “Seriously, stop putting your gum on the table—this is why we STILL can’t have nice things!”

But with the good comes the not-so-good, and all too quickly we learn that every conversation isn’t going to be sunshine and rainbows. As much as we love the idea of communicating with our kids, there are some things we just never want to hear.


45-minute recaps of their favorite cartoons.
A request for you not to look in the toilet for...uh...no particular reason.
“My sock is lumpy.”
“I can’t find my shoe.”
“I don’t need to go potty, I just peed in the pool!”
A reminder it was your turn to bring a class snack...as you’re dropping them off at school.
Four-letter words they weren’t supposed to overhear.
In-depth descriptions of bodily functions.
Any confession involving permanent marker and a sibling’s face.
An honest opinion about your new haircut.
One of those knock knock jokes that never seem to end.
Racy lyrics to a song that, in your defense, they really should have edited for radio.
Any indication they’ve noticed that the store you’re in has a toy aisle.
News that the class pet is coming home with them over spring break.
“Mommy, I dropped my toy again” coming from the backseat, 372 times in a row.
An unsolicited reassurance that the cat is fine.
“Look, I cut my own hair!”
“Uh oh, I don’t feel so good…”
Unexplained silence.

The silence can be especially terrifying, since it tends to signal that your kid is off somewhere painting the dog purple or unloading the Tupperware drawer into the toilet. But it can be scary for another reason, too.

When my now 14-year-old was about six, he gradually stopped responding to me when I called his name. He was always a pretty studious kid, so at first I assumed he was so absorbed in what he was doing that he’d blocked everything else out. Okay, maybe I also wondered if he was just plain old ignoring my pleas to get him to eat dinner or get ready for bed.

Eventually I started to realize something was really wrong...and that’s when the unexplained silence that had become his usual response started getting scary. He didn’t seem to hear me at all if he wasn’t looking straight at me, and when I did get his attention he’d lean in closely and study my lips when I talked. I was afraid his hearing had been impacted by the fact that he was born three months premature; he’d already outgrown the few developmental delays he’d dealt with after birth, but occasionally some other complication would arise. What if hearing loss was one of them?

So I took him to the doctor, and (luckily) discovered the issue was caused by fluid trapped in his ears; after surgery and the insertion of tubes, his hearing returned to normal. His speech development was still impacted though, and he needed speech therapy for a few years in school. The influence hearing has on hitting communication milestones is no joke, people.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, notice language delays, or see any signs your kid might have trouble hearing, get to a doctor or hearing specialist (you can easily find one on Cochlear’s IWantYouToHear.com website) right away for a diagnosis. Even if you don’t have a relatively simple fix like ours, cochlear implants might be able to help improve your child’s hearing.

In operation for over 30 years, Cochlear is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, providing products (cochlear implants and bone conduction), and helping over 450,000 people worldwide have access to sound. They’re passionate about connecting parents to resources, support, and information on hearing loss—and if you decide cochlear implants are right for you and your child, they become a lifelong partner in finding and updating solutions that work for you.

As I experienced after my son’s surgery, there’s nothing on earth like the wide-eyed look you get from your child when they clearly hear your voice again for the first time in a long time (or for the first time ever). Just prepare yourself for the fact that opening up the lines of communication can mean I-love-yous and bedtime songs, but it also means opening yourself up to lengthy conversations about Pokemon.

It’s totally worth it, though.

Of course you want your kids to hit developmental speech and hearing milestones and openly communicate with you, but let’s face it—you don’t want them to communicate EVERYTHING, lol. Here’s a funny list of things you don’t ever want to hear your kids say, as well as some valuable information and resources for parents to help recognize signs of hearing loss in children and find ways to potentially help them hear better. | Cochlear | ad | IWantYouToHear

This post made possible through the support of Cochlear. All opinions and toilet-water-soaked Tupperware are my own.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!

37 Ways To Fail At Perfection

If you've spent much time on this planet, at some point or another you've felt pressure to be perfect. Maybe that pressure was coming from someone else, and maybe it was coming from within yourself—a little teenage-you voice inside your head telling you that a pimple on the end of your nose was the end of the world, or a mom-you voice saying that you should do more baking or crafting or that you should actually be able to remember all your kid's friends' moms' names, which frankly I don't even think is scientifically possible—but one way or another we've all felt the pressure to be more. Be better. Be perfect.

But nobody is perfect, so at some point we've also all failed miserably at trying.

Here are just a few examples of ways I might be failing at perfection on any given day of the week (most of them on days during this particular current week):
  1. Brought a class snack to school on the wrong day.
  2. Couldn't fight my way back out of my Spanx.
  3. Hemmed my daughter's pants, but somehow managed to sew the legs together instead.
  4. Asked my kid how to use Snapchat, which apparently is about as lame as you can possibly be while attempting to be cool.
  5. Then was reminded by my kid that he's not allowed to use Snapchat.
  6. Wore the perfect shade of lipstick...on my teeth.
  7. Made a beautiful, Pinterest-inspired dinner that tasted disgusting.
  8. Took 857 attempts to get one decent holiday family photo.
  9. Wore some sexy new jeans—then got home and realized there's a sparkly My Little Pony sticker on my butt.
  10. Told my husband a really funny story because I knew it would make him laugh. Which it did. The day before, when he'd told the story to me.
Okay, so if you're counting (and still remember the title of this post), you'll notice that I didn't actually list 37 ways to fail at perfection.

But I have a good reason for that.

YOU GUYS. If you've been here for a while, you're not going to believe this.

Remember how, a million years ago, I used to be a writer?

Well brace yourselves, because...I still am.

I KNOW. Based on the fact that I only put up a new post here once every eighteenth blue moon and I suck on ice about linking to articles I write on other sites, you probably thought I forgot how to computer.

But I do still write, and in fact, I'm in a new book that's being released today!!!

It's all about people's attempts to be perfect—and their hilariously spectacular failures.

Thirty seven of them, to be exact.

My essay in the book goes all the way back to when I was in my early twenties. It starts off like this:

We all feel pressure to be perfect from time to time—and we can all agree that our inevitable failure is hilarious. I Just Want to Be Perfect (the 4th book in the New York Times Bestselling I Just Want to Pee Alone series) is the funny book about learning to embrace our perfect imperfections. It's a PERFECT choice for your book club, LOL escape, or summer beach read!

And then it goes downhill from there. Or uphill, depending on how much you like stories about people who lose their eyebrows thanks to questionable dating choices.

I realize now that makes it sound like I ended up dating the nymphomaniac. Let me be very clear that I DID NOT DATE THE NYMPHOMANIAC. The nymphomaniac did, however, give me a very heartfelt and oddly religious Christmas card as I was moving out of that apartment, even though we had never spoken to each other before that moment and I'm pretty sure it wasn't near Christmas.

But that's a different story for another time. Back to the book!

If you've ever tried to be perfect and failed, you're not alone. In this humorous collection of stories, 37 women detail their misguided quest for perfection and the epic failures that result. Get your copy of I Just Want to Be Perfect (the fourth book in the best-selling series) today, and laugh along with us at the silly and impossible pursuit of perfection.

Yes, it's available RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE, so go pick up a copy (or several) right now! It'll probably be the most perfect thing you do all day.


Jen Mann - People I Want to Punch in the Throat / I Just Want to Pee Alone

Bethany Kriger Thies - Bad Parenting Moments

Deva Nicole Dalporto - MyLifeSuckers

Julianna Wesby Miner - Rants From Mommyland

Lola Lolita - SammichesPsychMeds / MockMom

Kim Bongiorno - Let Me Start By Saying

Alyson Herzig - The Shitastrophy

Kathryn Leehane - Foxy Wine Pocket

Harmony Hobbs - Modern Mommy Madness

Erin Dwyer Dymowski - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Tara Wood - Love Morning Wood

Kelcey Kintner - The Mama Bird Diaries

Lisa René LeClair - Sassypiehole

Joelle Wisler - Joelle Wisler, Writer

Christine McDevitt Burke - Keeper of The Fruit Loops

Meredith Spidel - The Mom of the Year

Meredith Gordon - Bad Sandy

Nicole Leigh Shaw - NicoleLeighShaw.com

Allison Hart - Motherhood, WTF?

Jennifer Lizza - Outsmarted Mommy

Suzanne Fleet - Toulouse and Tonic

AK Turner - Vagabonding with Kids

Robyn Welling - Hollow Tree Ventures

Ashley Fuchs - The Malleable Mom

Kim Forde - The Fordeville Diaries

E.R. Catalano - Zoe vs. the Universe

Chrissy Woj - Quirky Chrissy

Stacey Gill - One Funny Motha

Wendi Aarons - wendiaarons.com

Jen Simon – jensimonwriter.com

Janel Mills - 649.133: Girls, the Care and Maintenance Of.

Jessica Azar - Herd Management

Susanne Kerns -The Dusty Parachute

Audrey Hayworth - Sass Mouth

Hedia Anvar - Gunmetal Geisha

Christine Organ - christineorgan.com

Shya Gibbons - ShyaGibbons

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!