Potty Training Pirates

January 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Jelly Mom Column


Today my three-year old is barefoot, wearing shorts, a
t-shirt and a necktie. It’s only fifty-four degrees.

Still, this is a vast improvement. His former attire
of choice was just a diaper and his Nemo sandals.

No matter what, though, he’s always a pirate in his
mind and heart and he always wears a necktie.

His sister asked him why he wears the necktie. He
said it’s because he’s ready to go to church. Now
what parent wouldn’t leap for joy at that
proclamation?

Me.

I told him he had to stop wetting his pants and start
using the bathroom like big boys (and pirates) do if
he wanted to join us at church. He’s not quite ready
to take the bait even though he really, really wants
to go.

I really, really don’t want to deal with a diaper
blowout in a solemn and sacred place…and I don’t
want to punctuate the service with his yowls as I
change him in the van outside.

So I’ve upped the ante. I let him know that he would
be able to go to church AND school (something he asks
about all the time) if he stopped wetting his pants.
I also told him he could even play in the front yard
with the other big kids.

I suspect that somewhere between me offering him a
pony and all the ice cream he can eat, he’ll see
things my way.

It’s not like there’s any rush. He’s the fifth child,
so we’re more lenient with him. The firstborn had to
be trained at two years of age. Within a week we were
accident free.

The next child took a bit longer. So now that we’ve
come to the last child our philosophy has become this:
He’ll stop going in his pants sometime before he
starts kindergarten. Right??

So how do YOU bribe your kids to stretch for that next
level of growth? How do you encourage them to try out
the next level of maturity?

It was the three-year old that came up with a
solution. He wants to play with his pirate ship in
the bathtub.

“You can’t do that if you’re not a big boy and use the
pot like you’re supposed to…ALL THE TIME.” I’m not
about to strain tub water for wayward misfired canon
balls.

“But I’m a pirate!”

“And I’m the British Navy. No potty and poop in the
pot, no sailing.” Tough ultimatum for a pirate, I
know.

I think we may have reached a compromise. He’s
stocking up supplies for his ship in anticipation of a
maiden voyage. We’ll see.

Even Captain Hook had to give up pull-ups for
underpants at some point. Arrr.

. . . . . . . . . . .
Jelly Mom™ is written by Lisa Barker, mother of five and author of

Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane…Doesn’t Mean You Are a Bad Parent!
and is syndicated through Martin-Ola Press/Parent To Parent.

Jelly Mom Column – Good Bye Mattel

March 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Jelly Mom Column

©Lisa Barker

Dear Mattel and Company,

Our Momma is going to give away all our toys. She means it. We don’t care a whit about all the cars, blocks, stuffed animals and battery operated noisemakers that we have. So Momma is giving them all away to charity and leaving only our favorite playthings around the house.

Things like:

Clean laundry. We love to strew it all over the floor and roll in it before Momma can fold it.

The television remote. This is so much more fun than any noisemaker because it changes the channel and makes Daddy make noise!

Momma’s glass of orange juice. Whee! The itsy bitsy spider went up the garden wall. Down came the OJ and washed the spider down.

The com*put3r k3yb0ar/d. It+s su/ch gr3at fu/n t0 h3lp m0mma typ3!

Dog food. Not only does dog food kibble instantly cover the maximum square footage of floor space, it’s fun to watch Momma fall on her behind as she comes running.

Sofa cushions. How inconvenient to have them tucked in properly. They are much more fun on the floor where we can hop from one to the other like frogs.

Throw rugs. There’s nothing like dragging each other through the house on Momma’s carefully placed throw rugs.

Pencils and crayons. The doors in our house used to be such a boring plain old white. Now they are much more colorful!

The mouse pad. Who’s ingenious idea was it to make such a fun and floppy Frisbee?

Toilet paper. Oh, the uses are endless! We are so good at grabbing the end and running through the house weaving a delicate pattern around the furniture.

It’s MUCH more fun to dump laundry detergent up and down the hall than it is to ride a tricycle.

It’s much more fun to flush items down the toilet than it is to put blocks in a talking container.

It’s so much more fun to mash banana on the laminate floor and slip around than to roller skate.

Thanks for all the time you have taken to research our age group and scientifically define our developmental stages and TRY to invent toys that will please and delight and even educate. But we have learned so much about gravity simply by dropping our food all over the floor. We have learned to count by watching Momma’s red face as she counts to ten. We already know how to do buttons, zippers and ties as we undress ourselves at least three times a day.

Now we need to close this letter and get busy taking all the folded sheets and towels out of the linen closet. SOMEBODY keeps folding them and putting them back. Our work is never done!

Best regards,

Becca (age 3) and Aiden (age 2)

LISA BARKER is a syndicated humor columnist and mom of five. Her latest book is “Before I Had Kids I Was A Size 9” See www.JellyMom.com for more information.

Jelly Mom Column – Antelopes in The Mail

January 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Jelly Mom Column

Front of an envelope mailed in the U.S.

Image via Wikipedia

©Lisa Barker – Used by Permission

It’s antelope season at my house again.  Another child has reached the age where he can print and sound out some words so writing letters to Grammy and Auntie are high on his list.  So are antelopes.

“Momma, I need an antelope for my letter.”

Aw.  It takes me back.  Little does he know that his older siblings needed antelopes as well or the even more rare ombilope a direct cousin of the antelope.

Antelopes are fascinating.  They have a strip of glue on them that, when wet, makes a perfect seal securing the letter safely inside.  Unless you’re a five-year old and drool like a Saint Bernard.

“Don’t worry.  Momma’s got a hair dryer and lots of tape.  It’ll dry completely before it reaches Grammy’s.”

The next step is to cover the back of the antelope with stickers.  It doesn’t matter if they are from the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes or if they are Mom’s special stationery stickers, each antelope needs at least three stickers.  The more stickers you find on the back of an antelope, the more love there is inside.

The card inside harkens back to caveman days.  There are hieroglyphics of square people with stick legs and a message written in a strange language that, if read from left to write reads:

I LOV
EYOU FROm
A TO GRAmmY
IDEN

The best part is running to the mailbox and stuffing your antelopes inside.  Now begins the slow agony.  Every day for the next week it will be, “Did I get an antelope?”

“No, not today.  Maybe by Friday.”

“What’s today?”

“Monday.”

“Is tomorrow Friday?”

Sigh.  Antelopes come and go.  Most of them are from Bill.  Why does he keep writing to Momma?  She doesn’t like his antelopes very much.

At last an antelope arrives with my son’s name on it.  But he doesn’t tear right in.  An antelope from Grammy or Auntie Jenny requires careful dissecting with mom’s antelope opener because we don’t want to accidentally tear any stickers.

Older Brother enters the room.  “What did you get?”

“I got an antelope from Grammy.  If you send antelopes to people, they send antelopes back!”

“It’s not ‘antelope.’  It’s ‘EMBALOPE.’  It’s the illiterate leading the illiterate.

Still this is all good practice.  In a few months children will be writing letters to Santa.  The older ones will ask for world peace, the middle ones will ask for every high priced item ever conceived by the elves and the youngest will still ask for a lollipop, some cake and a book.

“If you behave, Santa might send you a letter back.”

“Does Santa have antelopes?” I can just hear the youngest ask innocently only to be swiftly corrected by an older sibling:  “No, Santa has reindeer.”

LISA BARKER of Greenfield is a syndicated humor columnist and mom of five. Her latest book is “Before I Had Kids I Was A Size 9.”  See www.JellyMom.com for more information.

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Jelly Mom – It Gets Their Attention

October 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Jelly Mom Column

It Gets Their Attention
©Lisa Barker

I’ve said it before and I will say it again.  If you want your kids’ attention either sit down with a good book, make a phone call or put on some headphones. Sure enough, they’ll be at your elbow hollering at the top of their lungs in no time.

It never fails.  I’m on the phone and calamity strikes.

“Is this a good time for you to talk?” the caller asks, as what sounds like a stack of dishes dropped on the floor thunders through the house.

“Just as good as any,” I reply.  She proceeds while I interrupt several times asking her to repeat what she said.

Finally, I bark, “Go to your room now!” right into her ear.  I wonder why so many people hang up on me.

Recently I discovered a new way to get my kids’ attention.  Try sleeping in.  It’s still summer vacation so I don’t have to get up early and rouse everyone out of bed.  You would think they’d appreciate an extra hour in bed, but no.

From the first week or two the two boys were up at the crack of dawn, drawing swords and launching right into the battle they’d suspended the night before when I sent them to bed bickering and screaming at each other.

“QUIET!”  I yell down the hall.  I might as well be a substitute teacher in an band class.  It ain’t happening.

Finally, I trod down the hall and read them the riot act.  I go back to bed.  There is no way I am going to get up to that noise so I pray for just twenty minutes of quiet.  Five minutes later they’re at it again.

Did you know that cussing in children is proportionate to sleep deprivation for their parents?  I just don’t know where they get their potty mouths.

At last they learn what I mean by reading quietly until I tell them they can get up.  It’s a new morning and no one has uttered one word.  Then the door slams open and my oldest son screeches in his nasally high-pitched pre-pubescent voice, “Momma, am I doing a good job today?”

The odds in favor of spontaneous human combustion are directly related to the number of kids one has, especially if they have kids that are prime candidates for the Darwin award.  Even the teens have had enough.  What’s worse?  Hearing your little brothers shouting at each other like they’re in a wind tunnel or your mother going off like a sonic boom?

I’ll tell you what’s worse.  It’s finally getting that extra twenty minutes I wanted and the phone rings.  The bedroom door slams open again.  “Momma, it’s for you!”

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Jelly Mom™ is written by Lisa Barker, author of “Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane…Doesn’t Mean You Are A Bad Parent!” and syndicated through Martin-Ola Press/Parent To Parent. To publish Jelly Mom, buy the book or leave comments, please visit http://www.jellymom.com.

Jelly Mom Column – I’ve created a monster

October 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Jelly Mom Column

I’ve Created A Monster
©Lisa Barker

I have another theory about why my youngest is so brash and demanding.  He’s a celebrity.

I thought he couldn’t read, but he must have discovered his starring role in the Jelly Mom column and now he treats the whole family like we’re dim-witted assistants that he can just order around and fire at will.

“Here’s your breakfast, kiddo.”

“I said I want eggs!”

Oh, don’t worry.  I don’t fry him eggs.  I just take away his only option for breakfast.  It makes him a little more courteous at lunch.

“Here’s a tuna sandwich.”

“I said!”

“Yes?”

“That I want peanut butter.  Please.”

It’s a token please, tacked on the end after great personal struggle with himself, but now we’re finally getting somewhere.

Just about the time I think I’ve civilized him again and think he might actually ask for his snack in a more polite tone, his older brother comes home from summer school bearing gifts he earned for behaving all day.  I can just read the youngest one’s mind:  See ya, Mom, and all your stupid rules about courtesy. Big Brother brought me toys!

Well, soon enough the two boys are fighting.  Big Brother has repossessed Little Brother’s toys because he can.  He says Little Brother was rude to him, but I know that Big Brother giveth and Big Brother taketh.  (Sometimes I wish he wasn’t so generous in the first place.)

Yet I take Big Brother’s side when Little Brother pops off with rapid-fire demands:  You give me the toys!  You play with me out back!  You stupid idiot!!

He comes crying to me for justice.  “Momma, no one will play with me.”

It’s not easy being the youngest in the family.  All those promises about how great it is to be a big boy and you still don’t get your own way, still can’t make people do what you want them to do, still can’t do nothing!
He thought that when he turned five-years old he would start going to school the very next day.  He packed his backpack, carried a book and told me he needed a lunch to go.  But I said he had to wait until the fall, some mysterious other time that is still too difficult for him to fathom, sometime after an equally puzzling thing called ‘summer vacation.’

He gets up at the crack of dawn every day, just in case that’s the morning school starts.  He can’t be late for the bus!  He packs his backpack again and I tell him to wait some more.

I almost pity him.  But when I give him grapes for his snack and he screams at me, “I wanted apples!” I pity the kindergarten teacher he will get.

For now, someone needs a nap.

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Jelly Mom™ is written by Lisa Barker, author of “Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane…Doesn’t Mean You Are A Bad Parent!” and syndicated through Martin-Ola Press/Parent To Parent. To publish Jelly Mom, buy the book or leave comments, please visit www.jellymom.com.

Jelly Mom Column – Chores are a Chore

September 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Jelly Mom Column

Chores Are a Chore
©Lisa Barker

Does it make any sense to you why a child that’s been responsible for a certain chore for, say, seven years suddenly can’t remember how to do it?

Here and there I’d find a dirty dish in the cupboard, some crumbs on the floor or a cup on the breadboard that was forgotten.  No big deal.  Now, the garbage is overflowing and recyclable items are stacking up around the receptacle they go in which is also at maximum capacity.  The stove looks like something blew up and died on it.  Come on!

‘Doing the dishes’ mainly involves loading and unloading the dishwasher.  But I also expect the sink to be cleaned, the counters wiped down and the floor swept. That’s total child slavery, I know.

Does it get done?  No.  Not unless I tell them every single night that I expect these things to get done.

So now the kitchen and the rest of the house have this general ‘scuzziness’ feel to it because this laziness has bred and all chores by children have been infected.

‘Pick up after yourself when you get up from the table’ now means only pick up your plate, utensils and cup but go ahead and leave food and crumbs on the table and floor.  In fact, ground it in.  Then move one chair over for your next meal and repeat.

‘Tidy your room’ means create a large pile of dirty clothes and stuff the toys under the bed perhaps hoping that Momma will faint at the site of the laundry and not see the cat digging his way out from beneath the bed where you inadvertently buried him.

‘Clean the bathroom’ means….  I don’t know what it means anymore unless it’s code for go in there and stare at yourself in the mirror for thirty minutes, flush the toilet and then come out.

“You cleaned this?”

“Yes?” a forlorn child asks.

“With what?  A sweaty undershirt?”

And then, every single child when held accountable gives me this completely blank stare.  We just look at each other for a few moments not saying anything. And then I get, “Can I go now?”

“Newsflash!  You actually have to use cleaning products and water to clean things in here and toothpaste is not a sink cleanser even if you can make bubbles with it.  And you people out there rotating dirty dishes!  I want them cleaned or I will take every single dish out of every single cupboard and you will wash them all by hand.

“And you, Crumb Boy.  Here’s a broom and dustpan.  Get to it.”

“But it’s too hard!”

“So was giving birth to you.  Now get busy.”

Man, it’s a chore getting these kids to do their chores.

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Jelly Mom™ is written by Lisa Barker, author of “Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane…Doesn’t Mean You Are A Bad Parent!” and syndicated through Martin-Ola Press/Parent To Parent. To publish Jelly Mom, buy the book or leave comments, please visit http://www.jellymom.com.

No Pitter-Patter of Little Feet In This House

August 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Jelly Mom Column

No Pitter-Patter of Little Feet In This House
©Lisa Barker
Photobucket
Why is it that my sons can’t whisper when they wake up? Why must they leap from bed, yelling at the top of their lungs, bickering with each other? Isn’t that bad for them? Doesn’t it give them a headache? I know it gives me one.

The thing is, even if I am well rested and could get up, I can’t wake up and deal with this nonsense. So I have been training them to get up and read quietly in bed until I come to get them for breakfast. We’re making small progress. It sounds something like this.

“JOHN DANIEL, MOMMA SAYS WE HAVE TO STAY IN OUR ROOM!”

“I KNOW THAT!”

Then, my bedroom door bursts open. “MOMMA, ARE WE DOING A GOOD JOB? WE’RE STAYING IN OUR ROOM LIKE YOU ASKED US TO DO!”

Finally, they did it. Not a peep sounded in their room, but the phone had to ring every fifteen minutes before the alarm went off. Four calls in one hour. I think my brain is scared to slip into REM sleep. No wonder I lie awake at night, scared to drift off. Who knows what I might wake up to?

I thought I’d outsmart the boys one day and snooze on the sofa while they had breakfast. I thought I could wake up gradually…until the doorbell rang. It was a police officer with the five-year old. He’d been running down the middle of the street like an escaped dog.

It’s enough to make me want to get up early and bust into their room and start bickering and screaming to see how they like it.

Even the teens are sick of it and it takes a lot to wake up a teenager. Now I wake up to people shouting for the boys to SHUT UP.

Why do I bother? And when will I be completely deaf? I look forward to the day that I can turn off my hearing aid. What bliss.

My husband and I have been debating recently who has the harder day. Apparently, he does. With great effort he gets up every morning, slips into his car ALONE, drives to work ALONE, and works all day without children screaming at him in his office.

Man, I’d love to have it so rough.

He says I have it easy because I can sleep in. I’d like him to define ‘sleeping in’. If that means lying in bed while my temples throb and I envision the boys tearing down the house, oh, yeah. I’m in seventh heaven. Just like he is when he comes home from work and one hour later he’s pulling out his hair.

Forget the pitter-patter of little feet. You’ll never hear it over the dull roar.

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Jelly Mom™ is written by Lisa Barker, author of “Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane…Doesn’t Mean You Are A Bad Parent!” and syndicated through Martin-Ola Press/Parent To Parent. To publish Jelly Mom, buy the book or leave comments, please visit http://www.jellymom.com.

Jelly Mom Column – No Domestic Goddess Here

June 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Jelly Mom Column

No Domestic Goddess Here
©Lisa Barker

I was enjoying a cinnamon bun candle – one of my favorites. It looks and smells so real I couldn’t help myself and leaned in closer, taking a deep breath. Zzzt. Zzzt.

I didn’t know you could inhale a candle flame but apparently that’s what I did and now I have no hair in my left nostril. I know, because I checked, fascinated by my idiocy.

So if you start reading warning labels on candles that caution, “Inhaling flames can be hazardous to your health,” then you know who the fool was that did the unthinkable to warrant such a statement.

I’m a burn magnet. I have burn marks along my hairline beneath my bangs. No candles were used for that feat, just a hair iron on wet hair. The heat is so intense it makes the water sizzle right down to the root.

Even though I stay at home and have nowhere to go in a hurry each morning, I still can’t wait for my hair to dry first. And yet, I’m surprised each time I try to iron wet hair and it goes badly. I haven’t lost any hair yet, only a few layers of skin. I do this two or three times a week.

I am a magnet for domestic disasters. You should have seen the carpet in our living room before we tore it out and replaced it with laminate flooring. There were patches of melted carpet where the vacuum cleaner hovered too long while I used the attachment to pull threads on the sofa – I was trying to clean, really I was.

So naturally I chose motherhood as a fulltime career. There’s nothing more disastrous and death defying.

Each night I always manage to dip at least two fingers in boiling oil or water, steam my face while draining pasta or burn my wrist on the oven rack while preparing dinner.

I can’t imagine my high school calling me up to join them for career day.

I went to school with people who now work for the National Institute of Health or write books on the development of man’s collective religious conscience. I don’t think there’d be anyone lining up at my table to hear about the life of a homemaker. Not because there’s anything wrong with being a homemaker. But look who’s doing the job at my house.

Take that candle I was sniffing. It might have been accident, a mere ‘oopsie’ on my part. Everybody makes ‘oopsies.’ But who burns the hair out of one nostril and then immediately contemplates taking another deep whiff to burn out the other side and make it even?

I’m not a rocket scientist. I’m not a domestic goddess. I’m Slapstick Sally.

—————————————————
Jelly Mom™ is written by Lisa Barker, author of “Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane…Doesn’t Mean You Are A Bad Parent!” and syndicated through Martin-Ola Press/Parent To Parent. To publish Jelly Mom, buy the book or leave comments, please visit http://www.jellymom.com.

There’s No Place Like Home – Jelly Mom

June 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Jelly Mom Column

©Lisa Barker

I love being a stay at home mom. I can go to the bathroom whenever I want, I can drink water whenever I want and I never have to say ‘excuse me’ unless the children hear.

I haven’t let myself go. I just don’t have to answer to anyone and that’s a definite drawback especially when you return to the workforce.

Once I held an office job after having spent the previous five years alone with three little ones. I hadn’t realized how I’d morphed from a shy person to one who speaks her mind until I was hired as an administrative assistant.

My boss said, “Let’s do a little less talking and a little more work.”

I blurted out, “I can talk and work just fine.” Then realized what I’d said and recovered with, “But you’re the boss and what you say goes. Yes, sir!” It’s not easy being the boss at home and not being one at work.

The hardest thing about having kids and working outside the home is not having enough time to care for the house and my family the way I want to. I want to be there and be in charge. My hat is off to those women who are able to stay home, but choose to work outside the home. They do it all, but I can’t.

While I’m stuck at a desk hiding files of work I have done for the rest of the week (to slowly dole out to a boss that will hyperventilate if he sees me more than five minutes ahead of him with my work) I’m thinking of all the things I could be doing at home that are piling up while I pretend I’m working.

Laundry is multiplying by the nanosecond. Dishes are breeding in the sink and on the counters. Toothpaste is oozing down the bathroom cabinet. Dust bunnies are plotting a siege. Weeds are securing the perimeter of the garden and are poised for an all out war.

Worst of all I’m not there for my kids’ firsts or when they’re sick or when they need me around just so they can ignore me. It’s my job to be there and say, “I told you so,” or “Because I said so,” or “Don’t touch it, that’s gross!”

And then after adding it all up, I discovered that my entire job paid only for my work expenses (clothes and gas) and daycare for the children. In other words, I was working to afford to work. Does that make sense to you?

I’d rather be home where the kids can take me for granted in person. I’m there for them, they get the best care in the world (me) and it doesn’t cost me a dime, just my sanity.

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Jelly Mom™ is written by Lisa Barker, author of “Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane…Doesn’t Mean You Are A Bad Parent!” and syndicated through Martin-Ola Press/Parent To Parent. To publish Jelly Mom, buy the book or leave comments, please visit http://www.jellymom.com.

Survival of the Fittest Shopper – Jelly Mom Column

June 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Jelly Mom Column

Survival of The Fittest Shopper
©Lisa Barker

It happens all the time.  People speed and chat on the phone while they eat lunch—all behind the wheel.  They have no problem multi-tasking in the car.  But put them behind a shopping cart at Walmart and these same people can’t walk and browse at the same time.

You can see the drool dangling off their chins and the vacant look in their eyes and you’re stuck behind them as they feebly try to figure out how to put one foot in front of the other.

Oh, I love shopping in a packed store.  My rear end must look like a shopping cart receptacle because people repeatedly try to park theirs in it.  It must be an unwritten rule that states that fellow shoppers who stop to look at merchandise are targets.

And it’s not like I stopped suddenly or that I’m being rammed forcibly from behind.  I’m reading birthday cards and the next thing I know I’m being sodomized.  The corner of a shopping cart is pressed against me even though I’m standing to the side while there is this whole aisle this other shopper could use to get around me.

But, no, she’s looking at the same merchandise as if she can see right through me and continues to push her way to it.  At this point I can either start climbing the card racks or ask her kindly if she would like to remove her cart from my derriere.  I get that vacant look again.

What, am I shopping with the undead?

People who defy Darwin’s theory of evolution surround me.  They are neither stronger nor brighter than a cumquat and probably couldn’t cause any harm on their own, but once they group together, look out.

I am the fourth person in line at one of the crowded registers.  I’ve waited patiently for twenty minutes.  Suddenly there is a woman with five kids standing beside me edging closer to the front of my cart.  She refuses to look at me as if by not seeing me she’s doing no wrong.

Next, her kids start grabbing at candy and gum and she tries to use that to further claim a place ahead of me in line, little by little pressing ahead until I finally block her by shoving my cart directly into the man ahead of me.

I don’t know what planet she’s from, but here on earth line jumping is a universal no-no.  She slowly wanders back to the end of the line and I clamp down on my tongue before mocking her feigned mental disability.

Hey, I’ve got a screaming kid on my left and right and neither belongs to me.  I want out of there.

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Jelly Mom™ is written by Lisa Barker, author of “Just Because Your Kids Drive You Insane…Doesn’t Mean You Are A Bad Parent!” and syndicated through Martin-Ola Press/Parent To Parent. To publish Jelly Mom, buy the book or leave comments, please visit http://www.jellymom.com.

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