Sunday, July 31, 2011

How to Dine Out With Small Children - Video

There's been a lot of talk in the news lately about the utility of being able to manage kids and their accompanying behavior.  Whether it's in a restaurant or airplane - there seems to be a growing contingent of the population that has determined, for whatever reasons, that kids are just not the best attendees at particular places. More specifically, the topic of whether or not kids should be in restaurants has been in the news a lot of late, likely because of a recent restaurant's decision to impose and outright ban on children under the age of six on its premises.

What gives? Or perhaps a better question is, how do we, as parents, show the naysayers that we can, indeed, be civilized with our kids in tow? That children present do not necessarily mean that the ambiance of a particular restaurant - or otherwise - has been compromised?

On the heels of one of my more popular posts - Sippy Cups and Sushi - Top 10 Tips For Dining Out With Small Children - I appeared on a local TV program to discuss how parents could indeed dine out with their small children - without bringing on the wrath of other diners.

Check it out:


So it can be done. I and many families like mine dine out often, with small kids in tow, without bothering anyone. The key is to plan in advance and to be prepared to leave - if calmer nerves won't prevail and the kids are melting down. Of course, there are the standard tools of bribery, negotiations and threats...but you knew that already, right? ;)

What other tips would you offer to parents who want to take the leap, get out of the house and dine out with their children?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

All Kinds of Wrong - Vintage Folger's Commercial Circa 1950's

Welcome to the first installment of "All Kinds of Wrong" on the Multiple Mayhem Mamma blog.


You may have surmised by now that I'm somewhat sarcastic and have low tolerance for nonsense. As well, I have a penchant for all things referencing to the past, my youth and prior as well.


The combination of these two facts has resulted in something that I've wanted to do for a long time: analyze vintage television. Commercials and TV shows from bygone eras have both entertained and equally annoyed beyond belief, when held up to the standards of the modern era. 


How far back shall we go? Well, I'm thinking that "The Golden Age of Television," better known as the 1950's is a good place to start. The era that brought us Lucy in the chocolate factory and June Cleaver in a crinoline skirt is ripe for criticism. Sorry in advance to all those who will be offended but I just can't help myself. I've wanted to do this for years.


And speaking of June Cleaver: who in the world wears pearls and heels to clean the house??
Image courtesy of http://wildasart.blogspot.com
Okay, sorry for the long preamble. Here we go with "All Kinds of Wrong, Volume 1: Folger's Commercial Circa 1950's"


Check this out:



This cringe-worthy relic from the past is just begging for dissection. Here we go:

Problem #1: "Harvey" wants nothing more than "a decent cup of coffee" for his birthday. Oh, really? he goes on to tell his wife (whom he clearly loves dearly and respects) that her coffee is "undrinkable" and that "the girls down at the office make better coffee on their hot plates."

FAIL!

Harvey is a Grade A jerk and needs to be read the riot act. First of all, what is with telling his wife that her coffee is "undrinkable?" I'll go out on a limb and make an assumption that, based on Harvey's male chauvinist demeanor, he has never even tried to make a cup of coffee for himself. Furthermore, if he did, he would probably do such a miserable job of it that he would quickly be longing for the supposed "undrinkable" coffee that his lovely wife made. Harvey needs to learn a thing or two, no?

Problem #2: Harvey needs to be educated that if the female contingent at his office are indeed working, they are likely over the age of 18, are able to support their families, and therefore are not at all girls, but women. In addition, it's probably a sad indication of the fact that it was the norm that Harvey was even asking these "girls" to make coffee for him in the first place. Even if it was on their "hot plates." Yikes!


Problem #3: Sorry, "wife," but you're not outside the line of fire, either. Why, oh, why are you allowing Harvey to speak to you this way? Why on earth did you not tell Harvey to make his own darn cup of coffee, rather than bemoaning to your friend that he "didn't even kiss [you] goodbye" when he left in the morning? Did you really want to kiss Harvey after his patently disrespectful treatment of you? If the answer is still yes, then bad-tasting coffee is the least of your problems.

Problem #4: The wife bemoans "If I could just make a decent cup of coffee, I could relax." Does anyone see the irony here? First off, she desperately needs a hobby if she's this worked up about making coffee. Someone needs to tell her that in the larger scheme of things, coffee is not that important. Secondly, coffee is not something that is known to make one relax. If anything, it's the opposite. Funny.

Problem #5: The so-called friend in this commercial should consider counseling her brow-beaten buddy and school her on what is and is not acceptable treatment from her spouse. Perhaps she could let the wife in this scenario know that Harvey is very capable of making his own cup of coffee in the mornings, thank-you very much. As well, perhaps she could help the wife along with some self-esteem-boosting affirmations and exercises, ya think?

I wanted to say "three strikes and you're out," but there were so many more than three problems with this commercial. I could go on and on, but the sufficient points have been made: being a housewife in the '50's doesn't appear to have been too much fun. Guess the "Good Old Days" weren't so good after all.


What do you think of this commercial?

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Top 10 Reasons Why Having Twins Rocks!

"Happily ever after" is not a reality when it comes to parenting twins, apparently. 


I just finished reading this article and boy, am I depressed. Sounds like I'm a prime candidate for not only the current depression but divorce and perpetual misery as well.


Unfortunately, I can vouch for the truth behind the basic theme of the article: that parenting twins - particularly infant twin babies - can put considerable stresses on a relationship and families in general that are not experienced when raising a single infant. Twins are hard, there's no doubt about it.


Frankly, the first year of having two babies crying constantly and not sleeping took a toll, and I honestly can't remember much of it. It's probably an adjustment that our bodies devised in order to keep us sane: blacking out, forgetting the torment and saving the already low resources of our over-taxed minds by eliminating both short and long-term memories. Good thing, as, from what I recall, it was not fun.


Image courtesy of www.spreadshirt.com
That said, life does go on and really, twins are not all doom and gloom, despite popular belief. If I had a penny for every time someone looked upon me and my family with pity in their eyes, or commented with something "witty" like "better you than me," I'd be a multi-millionaire. As with any situation with life, if it doesn't kill you, it does indeed make you stronger. Parenting two little ones from prematurity, through the infant stage to now - the supposed "Terrible Twos" - has been a challenge but one that has been relished by my immediate and extended family - and friends as well.


All this doom and gloom about how my life will never be the same (and the subtext that it will be worse than it ever was) is all a bunch of hooey, as far as I'm concerned. 


And so, for this reason, I will not allow the Negativity Train to stop at my door, and will promptly get back on my usual lighthearted and sarcastic soapbox about the inanities and humorous aspects of parenting. This time, my "top tips" will pertain specifically to twins.


The Top 10 Reasons Why Having Twins Rocks!

  1. They're an ego boost for the parents: proof that the mom is "super human" and is able to create "mini-clones" (in the case of identical twins)
  2. "Food Fights" take on a whole new meaning!
  3. Bulk food purchases NEVER go to waste.
  4. Twins ALWAYS have a playmate. Always (no need to worry about coordinating "playdates" with other kids).
  5. The parents of twins can take turns playing "good cop, bad cop" equally and more often.
  6. Volume discounts. Per kid.
  7. Twins often speak their own "twin language." Beats Pig Latin any day!
  8. Twins learn the meaning of "sharing" very early.
  9. There's nothing like having TWO sets of little arms and legs wrap themselves around you and hug you and kiss you like you are the greatest thing since sliced bread
  10. Because TWO huge smiles and TWO laughing, happy children always makes the day better

So in other words, having twins is not a problem!! 


Have I missed anything here? What do you think about twin parenting (whether you yourself have twins or not)? 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Travel Review: Darien Lake Theme Park

I always wanted to go to "Darien Lake, Fun Country" - That's what it was known when I was a kid.


The roller coasters, the rides, the water park - it all seemed so exciting. I never did make it to Darien Lake during my childhood, though.


I recently had the opportunity to visit the theme park with my family since I'd always wondered about it, we packed up the kids and headed to New York State on a road trip adventure. The park didn't disappoint and I wrote all about it over at Chic Savvy Travels. Check out the full review here.


Image courtesy of www.godarienlake.com









Friday, July 15, 2011

The Parent Police Proclaim: "No Kids Allowed"

Backlash or hogwash?


It depends who you ask.


A recent decision by Malaysia Air to ban babies from first class caused quite the uproar amongst family advocates everywhere. After all, is it fair that those who choose to procreate be relegated to the equivalent of "steerage" when traveling by air? Perhaps a tad sensitive because of this announcement, parents this past week went into overdrive upon hearing about a Pennsylvania restaurant's decision to ban all children under six from passing through its doors. The reason? The apparent disruption and contribution to an unpleasant eating experience for other patrons.


Image courtesy of http://commissionbased.wordpress.com
Okay, as a parent, I'm torn. I understand why people may want to get out for an afternoon or evening in a restaurant without having to worry about the meltdown going on at the next table. Who wants to listen to screaming or whining kids? On the other hand, we were all children once and having been through the rigors of parenting, heaven knows we moms and dads sometimes need a break, whether it comes from handing off the kids to the babysitter or from cooking lunch or dinner.


Kids throw tantrums. Kids melt down. Kids scream and cry. And parents are responsible for addressing each of these behaviors appropriately, whether or not they are inside their home or in a public place, like a restaurant. We've all seen kids running amok with their parents blissfully ignoring the mayhem that their children are causing, just so that they can continue on doing whatever they are doing, dare I say, selfishly. And as far as I am concerned it is a much greater reflection on the parents than on the children when the proverbial sky seems to be falling, in public, no less, and the parents do absolutely nothing about it.


I wrote about tips for dining out with small children in an effort to provide some realistic tactics for my fellow parents who are in the trenches and wanting an opportunity to get out, perhaps to a restaurant. Diversion tactics, a game plan and a clear view of the front entrance are just some of the tried and true strategies of making it from the appetizer to dessert without annoying other diners. Yet, even if these suggestions are followed, it appears that there is a large group of folks that don't want kids there, regardless of what efforts are made to keep them quiet. Between the Malaysia Air decision and the Pennsylvania restaurant edict, one may start to think that children are no longer in vogue.


Where is this backlash coming from, and is there more to come along the same lines?


I discussed this particular topic on CBC Radio's afternoon program, Here and Now, and have attached a link to the discussion below.




So what do you think? Is there a war on kids that's starting to brew? Or is the news coverage on these two items "much ado about nothing?" How do you feel about kids in restaurants and airplanes? Yay or nay?
I look forward to your feedback.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better....

Perhaps it started way back when in the prehistoric annals of domesticity, the 1950's. If one went by the media and popular accounts of daily life that were portrayed at the time, women wanted to do nothing more than to keep a beautiful home and cook a wonderful meal. The name of the game was perfection and the holy grail was a sparkling kitchen floor and a husband's shirt that was devoid of the feared "ring around the collar." Apparently women enjoyed just being able to please their husbands by having the floor swept and dinner ready when he came home from a long day at the office. If she had any type of personal stresses to contend with, e.g. demands from the children, a feeling of low self-esteem due to an unfulfilled existence or otherwise, she made sure that it didn't interfere with her partner's "more important" requirement that he have a scotch and soda and a steak upon walking through the threshold at the end of the work day. After all, he deserved it, didn't he? He was the primary breadwinner, after all.

Fast-forward to 2011.

We've come a long way, Baby, at least that's what we've been told. We can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. We have it all, apparently, yet, there is a pervasive insecurity that underlies many of us working moms' daily lives (myself included).
Image courtesy of http://turnofthecentury.tumblr.com
Case in point: the one-upmanship that is inherent in many schoolyard conversations between moms. What is it that compels us to try to make ourselves seem more together, smarter, more efficient...well...just better than other moms?

Listen closely at any morning drop-off or afternoon-pick up of kids from school or daycare, and you will likely hear anything from a smattering of one-off comments about recent personal or business-related "successes" to a full-blown roar of "Super Moms'" latest triumphs, often conveyed as they effortlessly snap their kids into their strollers while simultaneously checking messages on their smart phones. But don't think that boasting about babies and business deals exists only within the realm of work-outside-the-home moms. The stay-at-home mothers have their own corner of the bragging universe covered, with frequent updates about little Ethan's big score at the little league game, or of their daughter Emma being accepted to the best private school in the city. And don't get me started about home renovations. Apparently everyone in my neighborhood is updating their home, without any apparent concern about finances or costs. I'm jealous.


Despite whomever is the designated speaker at the moment and whichever mom or dad is on the listening end, there is an underlying sense of...well...competition. Not being the competitive type by any stretch, I find it very uncomfortable, to say the least.

More importantly, one has to wonder where this competitiveness comes from and why it prevails. Is it because, despite our chosen daily "lot" in life (stay-at-home mom or work-outside-the-home mom), we are not completely invested or sure about the choice that we have made? Is it because we didn't have a choice, really, and for whatever reason(s) (financial, personal or both) we either have to go drop off our kids and continue on to the boardroom, or schlep along with our many kids to drop one, two or three of them off at the daycare/babysitter, then go home and deal with the remaining kids and laundry??

Women in particular are very good at pitting ourselves against one another. Which begs the question: Why aren't we allies? Shouldn't we be supporting each other in our various ventures and lives with our kids and families, not setting up camps that are looking more and more like the haves and the have nots? So we can't reno our basement as nicely as you. Sorry. So our kids will have to go to public school while your child continues to excel in private. Good for you. We don't have a family cottage like you do, and we make do by taking our kids to the park on the weekends. Is that so bad?

Excuse the very apparent snarkiness of this post, but it is frustration borne of the inability to "keep up with the Joneses." Somethings gotta give.

I'm not sure what the root of this behavior is, but I suspect that it is a result of our inherent insecurities about our abilities to parent as well as we would like to. Society has set up unrealistic "norms" that, through media, movies and otherwise, has made many of us feel like we just can't compete. Hence the overcompensation via bragging to save face in the view of our peers who, ironically, are doing the exact same thing. All for appearances.

I think it's safe to say that it's okay to not have a perfect house. It's okay that your child is not top of his or her class at school or daycare. A simple day at the park is fine, even if you don't have a cottage or country home to visit to get away from the proletariat.

Perhaps I'm dreaming of a Utopia, but I think it would serve all of us moms better to treat each other as allies, not adversaries. Of course we have our friends who are in our camps, but in a larger sense, this issue of competitiveness and one-upmanship is very real - and very sad. It would be great to somehow join forces and have more supportive and collaborative ways of connecting with our kids' schoolyard friends and their parents instead of getting the feeling that we just can't measure up every time we drop our kids off for the day. Because, after all: can't we all just get along?

Do you feel like you don't measure up when you drop off the kids at school or daycare? Do you think that there is an underlying competitiveness with other parents when you run into them in your neighborhood? What do you think could be done to change this situation?

I look forward to your comments!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fashion Fridays With Melanie: The Shoe Paradox


Multiple Mayhem Mamma's resident fashion and style guru, Melanie from Style and Error is back to provide her always astute fashion and style advice.
This week she discusses "The Shoe Paradox" - How to deal with both function and fashion without compromising on either one.
The Shoe Paradox
Shoes really make or break an outfit. Picture a woman rushing to work downtown in a great black, sheath dress. She looks amazing right? Uh-oh, wait a second - you just saw her running shoes and now her look is completely destroyed.
While there are times where we choose function over fashion (and vice versa), for the most part, we don’t want to feel like we have to schlep around in runners in order to be comfortable.
And, if you’re running around after a toddler or small children, let’s face it, stilettos aren’t really an option, are they?
So what’s a Mom to do? Succumb to the (foot) pressure and wear ugly shoes?
Thankfully, no.
There are options for moms who want to be able to catch their kids and catch the eye of others with their style.
Here are a few options that will allow you to look good while keeping up with the kids:
Ballet Flats
Ballet flats come in a variety of colours, with or without embellishments and in every price range. I have some from Joe Fresh  and Target that I adore and others from Cole Haan that are on the pricier side.  They look better than sneakers are they are almost as comfortable. 
Image courtesy of www.mamazenblog.com
Strappy Sandals
In this case, you can choose flats, or a slight heel (no more than ½ inch) if you want something a little fancier when flats just won’t cut it.  In this case, I would invest a bit more…you want to make sure that they are leather, have a rubber sole and that the straps don’t dig in.  A good rule of thumb? If they hurt in the store, they will hurt forever.  Don’t throw your money away. Only buy them if they're comfortable from the start. You’re a Mom. You’re busy. Do you really think you have time to “break them in”?
Image courtesy of www.sears.ca
Wedges
Wedges are a girl’s best friend. They add height without the "ouch" factor. They are great option for times when you’d like to be wearing heels but need to be able to move around.  In some cases, a high wedge is often more comfortable than a flat shoe.  Like ballet flats, wedges come in all price ranges - perfect for the price-conscious parent.  When selecting a pair, choose a height you can function in and make sure the shoes don’t weigh too much. They should be a reasonable weight, otherwise they will be difficult to wear.

Image courtesy of www.catwalkfashion.co.uk



















So as you can see, there are footwear options for moms who want to be stylish as well as comfortable. Chasing after the kiddies never looked so good!

What are your footwear choices while out with the kids? What do you do to maintain style as well as function?