Entries from blogs tagged with “mommy”
Call me a giant hypocrite. I went out and paid money for the very thing I talked smack on just a few months earlier. I know. I'm shaking my head at myself. I promise that I had two very good reasons for this though.
- I get caught up in all things Christmas and get out of hand.
- HJ has hit the "terrible twos" and I thought the snitch would help.
Here she is:
Obviously, I chose her name. I know technically the kids are supposed to do it, but HJ just isn't quite there yet. I let her practice naming things before the elf arrived and it did not go well. I lined up four Barbies and had her pick a name for each. She chose: Pam (her Mimi's name), Ben, Ben, and Barbie. Yes, two Bens. She names almost everything Ben. We don't even know any Bens. I have no idea where this came from.
Anyways, I can't listen to anymore "Ben" and naming it after her Mimi is just confusing. So Eloise it is. The girls can pick a new name for a "new" elf next year. Pfft.
Right before Eloise made her big debut, thankfully, a seasoned parent on my Facebook feed delivered a word of advice to we Elf on the Shelf newbies: Set the bar low, especially if your children are young.
She said that it gets pretty hard to come up with new hi-jinks for the elf to get into and if you break out all the big guns too early, there'll be a lot of late nights trying to come up with new tricks. (Yes, that's just another way of saying "searching Pinterest for hours").
I'm not gonna lie, whenever anyone's advice consists of aiming low, I'm all OVER it. I've got enough crazy on my plate. Just adding a small dab of the next course is just fine by me.
So that rules out the following Elf on the Shelf ideas:
• Yeahhhhhh, NO. I have enough trouble keeping HJ's artwork on the correct surfaces. Eloise will NOT be showing her how to color on our photos. Granted, maybe we can bust this back out when Sharpies are not considered contraband.
• Seriously? Seriously. Why don't we just go ahead and serve a tray of crackers in the bathroom to go with the new toilet water dip? Because that's what my two-year-old and eight-month-old will do. They'll see those goldfish crackers floating around and think SNACKS!!!! I bet they wouldn't even see the elf.
Sooooo yeah. We are keeping Eloise pretty tame this year. Anyone got any good ideas for our toddler-friendly magic elf/snitch?
Ah. It’s here. The beginning of the craziest time of the year. Without taking a formal poll, I’m just going to assume that the holidays are pretty nuts for almost everyone. Between cooking, driving, flying, cleaning, wrapping, setting up, putting away, decorating, shopping and everything else you’re required to do to be a functioning person, it’s pure madness.
This is especially true if you also are in charge of keeping alive two tiny humans. Kids seem to up the ante. I used to stress about making delicious dishes that would make Martha proud, but now it’s all about survival. Like, what can I not screw up in the event that the children revolt and the world goes to hell that day?
I got to thinking today just how different my holiday planning is from what it was just three years ago. My, my, my.
Planning the food. What used to be decided just a few days before the holiday is now planned out about a month in advance. And I now only volunteer to make items that can be made ahead of time and can be served cold-ish: desserts and breads. I did the shopping for these items a week and a half ago. I’ve experienced too many panicked trips to the grocery store the day before a holiday to just wing it anymore. Plus, having two small children hasn’t made my brain any sharper. (Even after all of this careful planning, how many ingredients have I discovered to have forgotten for Thursday’s festivities? Two.)
Clothing. Remember the days of just dressing yourself in something cute that was clean? Unless I make a preconceived, conscious effort to plan what my kids are going to wear to an event, without fail, they will ALWAYS have nothing but pajamas clean. I started planning and hiding potential outfits in the back of their closets two weeks ago to ensure they’d be clean and ready to wear. They will not put them on until precisely two minutes before we walk out the door.
Altering the nap schedule. We have two places to visit for every major holiday: my family in Kansas City and my husband’s family in Topeka. The distance isn’t bad when we’re just visiting one side for occasional trips, but when you combine the two, it makes for a long day of visiting. Our kiddos still very much need a nap so we have to plan our day so that they can nap in the car. Sometimes this means leaving a little early and driving around like creepy people in random housing developments or parking in a random parking lot and playing on our phones while they sleep.
Synchronizing the meal dance. Once we’re at our destination and the food is served, it’s game on. My husband and I have to strategically plan this out so that we’re able to not only make sure HJ and B eat, but also get something to eat ourselves while simultaneously keeping up conversation with family. This doesn’t sound like a major feat, but imagine that HJ and B are tiny monkeys that are overstimulated by sugar that their aunt snuck them when we weren’t looking. They pull everything off the table, grab at drinks, sharp objects, and drop food all over the just cleaned floor. Head on a swivel...always.
Packing up. Good Lord. Does it not always feel as if you’ve moved into to someone’s house when you bring small children with you? I swear it takes us 30 minutes to pack up our belongings into the car and get out of there. And that’s only if we don’t have to deal with a meltdown when we pry them from the candy dish or toy stash to get out the door. That being said, we ALWAYS leave something behind.
How have you had to change your holiday habits after kids?
“Facebook is the worst thing that has ever happened.”
Those were the words out of my husband’s mouth this week. As much as it pains me to say it, he’s got a point. Facebook is the devil. It has given a megaphone to people who seem to have been born without a filter. I’m not necessarily talking about a cursing and dirty topics filter (although there are some that do need that), I’m talking about the normal social interaction filter that would usually keep people from talking about topics that other people don’t care about.
Think about it. Would you walk up to 90 of your friends in a room, hold up a photo of last night’s dinner, and then proceed to tell them all about it?
Exactly. But every evening, there it is on my friggin’ news feed.
You know who’s the worst on it? We are. Parents are some of the most complained about posters on Facebook. There’s even a website devoted to calling them out.
It’s hard though, right? Our children are the most adorable humans ever created. They are our favorite people in the world and therefore everything they do is amazing. Therefore, we SHARE IT ALL. Too much, in fact.
I surveyed some of my child-free friends as well as fellow parents to find out just which Facebook posts from parents are the most annoying to others. These are the winners:
• Potty training updates: No. Just no. The only people who care about whether or not little Suzy went poo poo or pee pee in the potty are you, her father, and maybe Grandma. Everyone else is pretty content missing out on those nuggets of info. Also, it is NEVER okay to post a picture of these events to Facebook. You would think this is something that wouldn’t need to be said. Again, Facebook removes filters.
• Naked photos after age 1: I’m with ya. I think there is nothing cuter in this world than a naked baby/toddler tush. In fact, almost every night I depants HJ and let her run a lap around the house just so I can giggle at her tiny baby butt. However, that’s where the buck stops. There are too many pervs online and future teenagers will have enough issues on their own without having to hate their parents for also posting naked photos of them online. Naked photos before age 1 though, all bets are off. Those little butter balls are still “baby cute” and rolls need to be seen.
Am I right?
• Monthly belly/baby updates: Recording monthly changes in your pregnancy and milestones in baby’s first year are important. They are wonderful memories and totally awesome… to you. Your basketball-sized belly is adorably huge. And little Joe looks precious in that onesie with a sticker declaring his age in months, but we ALL don’t need a new photo every month. You know what we would probably enjoy? A montage of all of these photos as one image at the end of the year/pregnancy so we can see the progression in one image. That would be fun for all.
• Pushy agendas: Cloth diapers are best! Vaccines are poison! This is why you shouldn’t feed your kids corn syrup! Seen any of these kinds of posts lately? Yeeeeeah. This kind of goes back to last week’s post about fueling the Mommy Wars. Facebook is a breeding ground for mommy battles and so many parents use the social network to continuously broadcast their reasons for their latest parenting choice. I’m totally guilty of this one. I get a little click-happy when I read an article or blog post that makes me say “Hell YES,” and then I share the bejesus out of it. I’m a pusher. Nobody likes a pusher, right Cady Heron?
• An update about everything, every minute: This was the number one answer across the board. Facebook baby/kid saturation was the biggest gripe from parents and non-parents alike. Yes, your kid is cute. Yes, your kid is hilarious. But we don’t need a play-by-play of Sammy’s life. Posting several photos a day, constantly updating the world on every cough, and announcing tonight’s bedtime story is just... stop. Stop right now. You’re done.
What Facebook parent updates drive you crazy?
I’m tapping out. I’m crying “Uncle”. I’m forfeiting. I am done and over the Mommy Wars. It seems a new battle breaks out over a new topic each day. And I’m throwing in the towel.
I got sucked in early as I read my pro-breastfeeding books and made my own pre-baby parenting decisions in the weeks leading up to HJ’s birth. Before I was pregnant, I was ignorant to the battles and nastiness between moms online, in person, and even the silent judgments passed back and forth. I just thought everyone was a part of this “Mom Club” and everyone was helpful and taught each other all the Mom tricks and Mom songs. I was sure it was rainbows and sunshine as they all adored each others’ offspring and shared cookies at playgroups.
And then I joined my birth month club on the expectant moms website. Wowza. The first battles I saw duked out were over inductions, VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean), and elective cesareans. It got vicious. The women were downright nasty to each other. I had my own opinions, of course, but I had no idea that people felt so strongly about certain topics that they’d be that mean to perfect strangers.
I saw the battles continue over blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, at playdates and so on. The eight most common “fights” I see are:
breastfeeding vs. formula
feeding kids organic vs. processed food
nursing in public vs. private
vaccinating vs. not vaccinating your children
working moms vs. stay-at-home moms
attachment parenting techniques vs. self-soothing techniques
cloth vs. disposable diapers
hospital vs. home births
There seems to be a battle over nearly every aspect of childrearing, which is crazy. People get incredibly riled up about each one of these topics too. Bringing them up is almost up there with discussing religion and politics in some circles: It just shouldn't happen.
I remember falling into this cycle just three months following HJ’s birth. I felt the judgments rising up in my head over another mom’s choice to not breastfeed. I spewed my negative comments to my husband behind closed doors, but I was still no better than the people who said them online or to another parent’s face. It was unnecessary and was none of my business. I needed a slap upside the head.
But there’s something that gets rooted in us when we become a parent. We want so badly to be the best parent we can possibly be to our children that when we make a finite decision on their upbringing, we feel the need to justify it...even if it’s only to ourselves. When someone puts down our way of parenting or a decision that we made, it’s personal. We feel personally attacked. And that need to strike back or explain why our way is the better way to go can be so overwhelming that we get pulled into the battle too.
It’s what fuels the Mommy Wars.
But isn’t it funny that the underlying cause of it all is the same? We all want to be the BEST parent that our kids can possibly have, a parent who makes all the best decisions and fights for their ability to do so.
So that’s what I’m going to do my best to remember the next time I find myself in the battle.
Everyone is doing what they know (or think) to be the best. And that makes them a pretty damn awesome parent.
It’s not the proudest day in a parent’s life. It’s also not one of the ones that make you want to call up Grandma and Grandpa to share. But it’s a day that happens to the best of us and is what keeps us humble when we think we have this parenting thing down.
I’m talking about the day you realize your child is paying waaay more attention to what’s going on around them than you thought. This can come in many forms (from stories I’ve heard) and each parent’s realization can be quite different.
Lucky for the not-so-observant folks at my house, our realization was as subtle as a Mack truck.
Aaron and I have struggled with the transition of shifting our conversations and television entertainment to more toddler-appropriate topics. After spending the last two years with a tiny person who couldn’t speak or understand most sentences, it’s hard to change your habits. I mean, her attention span is so short, is she REALLY paying that much attention?
OH yes. She is.
The other day we were having dinner. It was just a typical evening at our house. I set down HJ’s plate of food and her sippy cup of milk. As I was walking away, I heard a thud (obviously her milk tipping over) and her tiny voice say:
“Ahhh, damn it.”
If a tiny, two-year-old voice saying that phrase in correct context doesn’t move you to side-splitting, laughing tears, I just don’t even know how to relate to you. It was the funniest, most horrible thing to ever come out of my toddler’s mouth. And because I couldn’t laugh about it in front of her, it made it that much more hilarious.
So of course, I did what every responsible parent would do in that situation: I left the room with my shoulders shaking violently and tears rolling down my face as I tried to stifle my giggles.
She continued to go about her dinner as if nothing happened.
Once the humor subsided, the dread set in. We chose not to acknowledge what she said because she’s very much at a stage where she does many undesirable things solely for the attention. I totally stressed out that she’d be THAT kid at the next play date though. I didn’t say such things until I was in third grade and in the safety of the unsupervised part of the playground at recess! How will this child turn out if she’s saying it at two? TWO?!
We totally failed. This is what everyone was talking about when they warned us about them being tiny sponges.
Thankfully, our tactic of ignoring it has so far worked and since the incident, she’s never said it again. We’ve shifted our adult conversation to more kid-friendly vocabulary and are better at waiting to watch our TV shows after bedtime. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
But... is it bad that I’m kind of proud she used the word in the correct context, at least?
I’m in the Halloween sweet spot. Pun intended. These are the very limited years when my kids are at an adorable age in which people want to shower them with candy and yet they are too small to ingest certain kinds (which means it’s MINE). It’s also the age when they are too young to form educated opinions on what they want to dress as before they go around asking for said candy.
I get to dress them as dorky as I want AND eat their candy.
The downside? I have girls. You know what costumes are out there for non-creative people with girls? Princesses and witches. So lame.
Of course I could dress them in boy costumes, and I’d have no problem with that except that HJ is a girly girl and B still looks pretty gender neutral and it bothers me when people call my girl a boy. We dressed HJ as a cow last year and stuck a bow on her horn. It fell off as soon as we walked out the door.
She also went around saying "Neigh!" instead of "Moo." Fail.
So we’re stuck with the super cliche costumes.
If I had a boy I’d so go for one of these:
I’ve been scouring the web for costume ideas for two years now and have collected them on my Pinterest page (shocking, I know). What creative costumes have you seen out there? Help me out for next year.
I join a lot of parenting circles online. I do this so that I am exposed to a variety of parenting methods, ideas and support that comes from all over the world. I don’t have time to read full books, so this is my way to absorbing as much as I can to make better decisions about how to raise our children.
On one such Facebook Page last week, I came across something that I just can’t get out of my head. A woman was asking the other followers how she could respectfully ask family members not to show her son physical affection. Her reason?
He doesn’t like to be touched.
Ahem. Excuse me? Is this for real?
This child has no disabilities or special needs in the traditional sense. He is between the ages of 2 and 4. He simply just doesn’t like hugs, kisses, pats on the back, and the like. I was sure that people were going to chime in on the crazy in this request so I read the comments and was shocked.
Guys, this is a thing. In fact, it’s a whole movement. These parents claim that they are helping their toddlers claim ownership of their bodies and if they don’t like hugs (and the other touchy-feely stuff), the parent will step in and let the adult or child know (family or not) that the deal is off. They are encouraging their children to ward off physical affection if that is their choice.
I am out of my element here and just don’t understand it at all. Furthermore, it’s struck a major chord with me because my child has been bullied because of a parent who’s subscribed to this movement. And when anything is used to hurt my child, OH, you better BELIEVE I will speak up.
My child is a hugger. She was born a hugger. She gives approximately 500 hugs every single day. It’s who she is. She’s even been known to hug inanimate objects because the hugs just cannot be contained. She hugged a shoe yesterday, no joke. I absolutely adore this part of her personality.
When she was in full-time daycare, she would greet each child at the door with a hug and sometimes a quick kiss on the cheek. She was absolutely delighted to welcome her friends each day. There was one child though, who did not like hugs and whose parents worked very hard to make sure that she was never made to feel uncomfortable. When the mother witnessed HJ give her screaming toddler a hug, she lit into my child. She told her to stop instigating trouble and to knock it off or HJ would be disinvited to her child’s upcoming birthday party. FOR. HUGGING. HER. CHILD.
Seriously? HJ wasn’t even two years old at the time. Thankfully, the daycare provider went to bat for my child and she was so young, she forgot about it in five minutes.
Aside from the fact that this particular parent is off her rocker, this whole movement breaks my heart. I realize that I may just not understand the whole concept. I hope to talk to more people to better grasp it.
Everything I’ve been taught goes against the whole idea. Hasn’t research shown that human touch is an important part of our physical and emotional health? I get not allowing strangers to touch your child and I would never force my child to hug someone against her will, but to rule out touching altogether as a way of life? And to forbid family members and friends to touch or hug your child? Really?
Are you going to follow your kid to their first job and demand no one shake his or her hand because “THAT’S TOUCHING!” Will you also give all of his friends high fives for him when he scores his first goal or just leave them all out there awkwardly hanging with empty hands in the air? Can you stop for a second and imagine a whole world where no one touches?
It makes me so sad. It just seems kind of sterile and cold.
Like I’ve admitted before, perhaps I missed something. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been drop kicked off my soapbox.
Whenever I talk to a seasoned parent who raised their children in the 90s, 80s or before, I have a tendency to stare at them in awe. I just cannot even comprehend how they successfully parented children, let alone survived themselves in a time before the necessities we have as parents now. Yes, I said necessities. Because I would crawl into a hole and cry if I didn’t have the following parental aids:
1. Cell phones I simply CANNOT imagine having to wait by a phone for an important call. No leaving the house. No escape. You’re trapped with tiny people who are probably foaming at the mouth to see the sun. And once those tiny people turn into teenagers? How did you coordinate ANYTHING? I know how forgetful I was at 15. If it weren’t for my cell phone, my mom wouldn’t have known which practice, sporting event, or friend’s house I was at. I would be the one foaming at the mouth wondering where my teenagers were.
2. Tablets & Phone games On the same subject of phones, praise those super smart computery people for tablets and smartphones full of game apps to distract busy toddlers in public places. How did more buildings not burn down before this invention? My husband’s iPhone has saved us at the bank, the doctor’s office, at numerous restaurants, and at the houses of friends without children. What did parents do before these things? Carry around a library? A suitcase of puppets? A padded box?
3. Dr. Google So this one’s a blessing and a curse. While it’s nice to double check at what body temperature it’s advisable to take your toddler to the ER, it’s not so nice when Googling skin rash symptoms. Trust me. Don’t use it for this. You’ll probably think your baby has some obscure skin-eating bacteria when in fact, it’s a simple diaper rash. Dr. Google has a tendency to go to the extreme. But it is nice to double check dosing recommendations on medications when you accidentally throw away the instructions... not that that happens at our house EVERY time we get a prescription.
4. Kids Television I remember the days when kids programming only aired on Saturday mornings. I also remember when Nickelodeon came around. However, TV was still a crapshoot when I was a kid. Chances were that your favorite show was only on at a certain time, on a certain day. Now, kids have things like TiVo, DVR, Netflix, and On Demand. They can watch whatever they want, when they want. When I had my first baby, I swore we’d never watch more than 30 minutes of TV a week. HA! After baby number two, TV is the only way B would ever be able to breastfeed, laundry would get done, and dinner would get made without a kitchen fire.
5. Social Media When my kids are awake, I rarely have time to chat on the phone. Even when I do, it sounds like I’m refereeing a wrestling match or negotiating a cease fire. I would never talk to anyone or be able to keep up with friends’ lives if it weren’t for Facebook time on my phone during breastfeeding sessions. It’s a lot easier to send a message at 2 a.m. to congratulate a friend on an engagement than waiting weeks for a good time to call, which by that time is overdue and awkward.
So, to you moms who did it all without modern “luxuries”, I give you a slow hand clap. You ladies are amazing.
And I’m so glad I’m not you.
As we return from Munogate (thank you to my friend Emily for naming last week’s drama), I didn’t want to dismiss what was said in the comments because I think it’s something that should be addressed. Yes, my parenting style is different from most people's. My personality is different. I find the differences to be something to celebrate as it makes us each unique in our own way and as a result, raise unique children. Thankfully, I can brush myself off and let insensitive remarks and attacks on my character fizzle away.
A day or so after I wrote the post, I was reminded of something that happened recently at our house. It really helped me keep things in perspective and has continued to be my life raft when all hell broke loose this weekend after both girls came down with a cold.
B is currently going through a “I’d rather gouge my own eye out than take a nap” phase. Also, because she’s now very mobile, we’ve had to move her usual napping post in my husband and my bed to her own crib. Which as a baby who co-sleeps at night, she is obviously super thrilled about this change. (There is a great need for a sarcasm font.) Add in the changes with her diet, growth spurts, and her continued war on sleep in general, this has all been the perfect cocktail for creating a tiny, angry dictator.
One day in particular in the past two weeks, I was having an extraordinarily difficult time getting Stalin — er, B to sleep. AND OF COURSE this had to be the day that HJ also decides to dip her fingers in the Scentsy burner, poop in her third pair of big girl undies of the day, and give me a loud play-by-play of The Lion King as I’m trying to rock B to sleep. My patience was a thin, transparent sheet of ice. After I finally succeeded in getting B down after an hour of shooshing, bouncing, and rocking, I was tip-toeing out of her room and silently closing the door when HJ yells “I JUST CAN’T WAIT TO BE KING!”
This, of course, wakes up B who lets out a terrified and ear-piercing wail. I couldn’t even stop the anger as it bubbled over and spewed from my mouth. I lost it. I went off. I yelled. And I used words HJ is not allowed to say herself.
Obviously, it was my finest parenting moment. I felt like a troll and the worst mother ever.
I re-shoosed, bounced and rocked B to sleep as I listened to the silence in the other room. My heart was breaking for HJ and I was so ashamed for what I said and how I said it.
Once I made a clean escape from the again sleeping baby, I returned to where HJ was and sat down in front of her. I apologized. I hugged her and I kissed her wet cheeks. In addition to the I’m sorrys, I also made a promise to do better. Before I could continue, she did something that shocked me.
She climbed into my lap, grabbed my face in both hands and looked me straight in the eye. She said, “I forgive you.” Then she wrapped her arms around my neck and squeezed.
This two-year-old girl had never said those words before, nor did I even know that she understood what the phrase meant. But she did and she said it.
It was then that I realized that maybe I’m not screwing this up as bad as I thought. My children were turning out okay in spite of my bad days and shortcomings. I know I’m not a perfect mother. I don’t fit into the perfect mold of how probably anyone views what a mother should be.
But I am trying to do my best. And so far my best is turning out some pretty fabulous little people.
So there’s that.
We’ve established my love/hate relationship with the pin-filled social time suck, right? I hate the standards it sets in my head for how my life is supposed to look and operate, but I still find myself losing hours each week scouring the site for a pinned image of my perfect mantle...or the best dinner ever, or a DIY project that will save us thousands of dollars. How often does one of these things happen? That’s beside the point. I can, at least, pretend to plan to be productive.
When it comes to my kids, Pinterest has come in handy to cure the inevitable boredom that they’ll experience with a working from home mom. Most of the time, these projects fail miserably in the fact that they create more work for me when I have to dismantle whatever disaster it’s caused. Here’s our top three (so far):
1. Bath tub paint We tried out the bath tub paint Pinterest recipe on a rainy day when I wanted to punch Muno in the face if he sang another high pitched song about biting his friends (If you don’t know who that is, you are a lucky SOB). I had managed to twice keep HJ from rubbing finger paint on my white kitchen walls and B was FINALLY asleep for one hour of silence. So I pulled out this genius idea and mixed up a batch of blue and a batch of yellow. I took the already naked toddler (don’t ask) to the tub. Things were going well and I felt like Mom of the Year when the bowl of blue goo fell into the tub. It immediately turned the water into something you see at an outdated water ride at World’s of Fun (if you’ve been there, you know how scary that S is). HJ, of course, lost it. You’d have thought the water turned to boiling lava and she jumped out and into my arms in .3 seconds. In the process, my bathroom floor, rug, wall, pants and shirt were blue. It came only kind of clean.
2. Beans sensory activity I guess some people have those kind of children who color inside the lines and keep paint on the paper during craft time. I don’t know because I’ve yet to meet such people. I guessing that these people were also the ones who came up with the bean sensory activity. One day, I found that I had a random bag of beans in my pantry and thought “What the hell?”. So I set up this magical sensory play activity complete with bowls, measuring cups and spoons. Ha. That was one of the worst ideas ever. Within five seconds of setting down the tub of beans, HJ skipped right over all of the utensils I got out and instead dumped the entire thing on my kitchen floor. She then jumped in the bean pile and frantically swiped her hands around to see how far she could scatter them. Super duper. That was a month ago and I’m STILL finding those stupid beans hiding in various crevices of our house.
3. Kool-Aid Playdough You know what’s NOT a good idea? Giving a child who already eats regular playdough new playdough that smells like something delicious. We did the Kool-Aid Playdough activity with our Parents as Teachers educator (which is a fantastic program if you’ve never heard of it). I was excited because I had wanted to try this recipe because duh, it has Kool-Aid in it. Our PAT educator even brought the mystery Kool-Aid packet where you don’t know what color you’re going to get until water hits it. Pure awesome. You know what wasn’t awesome? The fact that half of that playdough is now gone because it smelled so good that HJ made it her lunch the next day. Thank goodness it’s non-toxic.
Now that it’s getting cold outside, I’m sure this list will continue to grow. I’ll be sure to dazzle you with the results over on the Larryville Mom Facebook and Twitter.
I have awesome friends who can out-hippie even the hippie-est of my hippie ways.
So remember my last post? The one where I go on and on about how much I dread baby food season. Yeah, forget all that. We’re going a different route.
After I wrote my last post, a friend of mine who I refer to as Super Mom (she has three kids under age four, two of which are twins) sent me some information about a different tactic that she took with her twins. This approach to baby feeding eliminated the need to spend hours preparing and dirtying dishes each week and it even helped to improve the babies’ dexterity, expose them to different food textures, and prepared the baby sooner for real food. She says they will now eat anything. The same cannot be said for her oldest who got the purées.
The method is called Baby-led Weaning. Or BLW. Or as I like to call it, Bee El Dub.
Despite what you may think, that doesn’t mean taking the baby off the boob. The name is misleading because this method was popularized in Britain where the term “wean” means to add complementary food to a baby’s diet of breast milk or formula. Tricky, I know.
The way to explain it to your mom or grandma is this: It’s a method that allows the baby to control their solid food intake by self-feeding from their first experiences with food. The way to explain it to your friends or your super confused husband is this: Instead of peeling, chopping, cooking, and pureeing a bunch of mush to spoon feed her, we give her larger soft pieces of food and let her figure it out with her own instincts.
If you’re anything like me when I first heard about this after I had HJ, you’re all “WAIT! THE BABY’S GOING TO CHOKE! TAKE AWAY THAT CARROT!!!” But seriously, it’s all good. Based on the research I’ve done on this topic, babies in the Bee El Dub club are less likely to choke on food than their purée eating counterparts. This is because babes don’t learn how to move food from the front part of their mouth to the back until they’ve learned how to chew and, they don’t learn to chew until they are able to grasp objects and place them in their mouth. Therefore, this method goes hand-in-hand with their development stages. Whenever something too big does occasionally make it back too far, they gag (their gagging reflex is super strong at the beginning) or cough the food out. Of course, it’s also smart to be close by and watching them in case they get carried away.
So you can imagine how excited I was about this and how annoying I was to my husband through all my research. It got especially bad when I found the video of the baby chowing down on steak. Oh yes. We dived in the next day… but not with steak. We gave B a peeled and steamed carrot. She gummed, sucked, and gnawed it to a slobbery death. Then on another day, we gave her a portion of a banana. She smooshed it, licked it, smeared it and eventually ate some pieces. SUCCESS.
She seems to really enjoy the exploration factor and to also join us during meal times with her own fare.
I really enjoy the freezer space I just saved.
It’s here, you guys. B turned six months old on Saturday. Not only is it the halfway point between sweet, snuggly baby and crazy, hide-the-valuables toddler, but its also the point when stuff gets real. It means we pack up the baby swing, papasan seats and Bobby pillows. It means we have to get out the obnoxiously large and noisy junk like Exersaucers and activity tables. Ew and boo.
While I’m pumped for certain milestones (e.g. sitting up alone, babbling and crawling soon), I’ve been dreading a big one: baby food.
If you’ve been reading my previous posts, you know I’m not really a “green” mom. In fact, other than the fact that I breastfeed and support women who do it, I’m a terrible hippie. Even as I live in Lawrence, I still use disposable diapers, shop at Aldi and secretly pound Coke Zero during nap time.
However, I rock the crunchy mom thing when it comes to baby food. This is both a blessing and a curse. When I had HJ, my mom friends (who are only slightly crunchier than I am) told me about their adventures in making their own baby food. And I told them it was a dumb idea. I swallowed those words when they told me just how much cheaper it was in addition to the fact that it was the healthier way to feed my innocent, pure breastmilk-fed child.
Hook. Line. And sinker.
When something is healthier and CHEAPER for my child, I’m all in (ahem, breastfeeding).
I got all the supplies (thanks to my husband’s awesome grandma and my brother’s wife) and spent my Sunday evenings cooking, boiling, steaming, chopping, peeling, pureeing and freezing her baby food. It was fun for about two weeks.
And then it sucked. I hated the extra dishes, the extra time, and the extra storage required in the freezer. But I just could not stop and instead pay three times more for chemically enhanced food for my tiny, growing, still-untainted-by-chemically-engineered-food baby. I trudged on. I made her food for six months (she didn't get her first tooth until she was almost a year old, hmph).
So of course, I’m going to do it all over again for this baby. Mommy guilt says that’s a given. Just like how B has a baby book that is just as not filled out as the one HJ has. I’m all for equality in this house, even if it’s in disappointment.
We started with the rice cereal already. She’s a huge fan. Big shocker there, right? Check out the rolls. This girl is not going to be a stranger to food.
Here goes nothing. Please give me a wave when you see me in the organic and natural food sections during this time. I’ll be the one sighing loudly as I look at the price tags and will most likely be covered in pureed something.
Yesterday, I took the girls to storytime at the local library for the first time. I had been avoiding it since B was born because well, B can be a B when we're in public. The last thing I wanted to have happen was for her to start screaming her head off as the librarian was reading and me have to leave HJ alone to inevitably melt down when she realized I was gone. I didn’t want to be “that mom.”
I got brave yesterday. Too brave.
I strapped B to my chest in a baby carrier and walked HJ in by the hand. We went to the storytime spot and made a nametag that she left on her shirt for a total of 30 seconds. I found a seat in the back of the room and encouraged HJ to sit with the 10 other toddlers at the front.
Ha! Yeah. Nice try, Mom. Miss Stranger Danger was NOT having that business. Apparently, those other tiny innocent children are absolutely terrifying and are not to be trusted. She insisted to sit on my already crowded lap.
Well, that lasted two books and a song in when she realized that I stupidly put on her sparkle shoes. The very shoes that encourage her to dance around like a cast member of Footloose.
Did you know that you could do "Gangnam Style" to "Old McDonald?" Yep, sure can. She was shuffling, twirling, jumping and shaking her tiny butt to that cow with a moo moo here and a moo moo there. Cute? Yes, but Miss HJ is still learning about personal space and awareness of others. She about took out a 1-year-old with an out of control pirouette and also shuffled into someone’s grandma. And when the song ended? Oh, you can totally dance to stories about ducks and chickens. TOTALLY.
How the heck do you respond in a situation like this? I don’t want to discourage how happy it all makes her and cause a major meltdown, but then again, she can’t act like a jerk to others in public. On top of that, I have the real atom bomb strapped to my chest while I’m trying to corral the “good” child.
I was “that mom.” But for very different reasons.
Every conflicting piece of parenting advice I’d ever heard was going through my mind: Don’t stifle her self-expression! Don’t let her run the show! Make her sit and be well-behaved! Let her explore! Let her be a kid! Get control of your child!
Ugh, 90 percent of the struggles I have as a mom is trying to figure out which one of those internal voices I should listen to. Do I need to be the strong disciplinarian or do I need to let go and let her learn on her own (obviously making sure that she and others are safe)?
Thankfully, storytime ended shortly after this and we were able to take this dance party home. But you know what happened when I queued up my Justin Timberlake Pandora station so she could dance in our kitchen?
She wanted to read a damn book.
To the people who had kids before me,
I had no idea just how much was going on in your life after you brought that baby home. My brain couldn’t even comprehend how things changed for you. I would never have guessed that you wouldn’t exactly be stoked to leave behind your sweet newborn to rejoin us for a late night. Or why you seemed to never be listening when we had a conversation. Or why you were so crazy about who you asked to watch your kid. I totally didn’t get it.
In fact, I didn’t get a lot about the things that happen after kids. Such as:
Going out on Saturday night will NEVER be the same
There is almost nothing worse than having to keep it together and care for helpless, tiny people the day after you forgot that you no longer have the alcohol tolerance of a 22-year-old. Reliving your carefree days is so not worth paying for it, times a hundred, the next day with a hangover. No. Not ever. Never again.
Just getting a sitter, isn’t “Just getting a sitter”
With all of the horrible stories of child care providers abusing children, neglecting them and kids getting kidnapped while in their care, finding a babysitter is the furthest thing from easy for a parent to do. Once you find one, add that cost to what you’re already spending for the evening and it’s quite an expensive outing. And that is why parents only go out when it’s super duper special...or they never leave the house.
Communication is spotty
Before kids — I won’t lie — I got annoyed when it took my friends and family hours or sometimes days to call me back or reply to Facebook messages. Now that I’m a mom, I consider it a good day if I EVER respond back to people. If I have free time once the kids are fed, bathed, changed, entertained, asleep, and all of my other obligations are done for the day, I’m doing nothing or going to sleep. It’s not you, it’s me. And me is too tired to put together any more coherent thoughts.
Being oblivious to pop culture
I’m not kidding, I had to Google Olivia Munn yesterday. I read two fashion magazines this month and wanted to yell at the writers for the things they were encouraging people to do and wear. I still am trying to understand men’s fashion in 2013. And don’t even get me starting on “twerking.” When did I become so lame? When did I get this old? Get off my lawn!
Kids aren’t as portable as they seem
The first time we took HJ to a family gathering, it took us an hour to pack the car. Then, when we added another kid to the mix, our prep time increased. If we take them to someone’s home who doesn’t already have little people, we almost need to travel in a bus to carry all supplies. We also have to plan around nap times (which don’t happen at strangers’ homes), little people meal times (They eat at 5 p.m.; NO LATER or bad things happen), and bed times.
So to everyone of you to whom I said stupid things or ignorantly planned something that directly caused a meltdown from hell, I sincerely apologize.
I get it now.
Larryville (Former Jerk) Mom
When I think back to my dating days, I still remember the anxiety and how much I hated my cell phone when it didn’t ring. In fact, the whole experience was stressful. Whether it was waiting for a guy to call, me obsessing over every word we exchanged or figuring out a way to talk through a meal without slurping food all over myself, dating sucked. You know what’s worse than dating? Mommy dating. It’s way worse. You’re probably asking yourself, “Is that a thing?”
Yes. Yes, it is. And it sucks.
Mommy dating is the extremely nerve-racking experience that new moms go through to find their own network of mom friends. This is extremely necessary for some women (whose regular friends don’t have children) so they don’t lose their EVER LOVING MIND. There’s a reason “It takes a village” is a popular saying in parenting circles. The village is needed to reassure moms that mac & cheese for two meals in a row won’t kill their child, that hiding in the bathroom to eat the last brownie without sharing is something we’ve all done, and that tomorrow will probably suck a little less. Moms need mom friends.
I had my first baby in May 2011. In that time, I have thrust myself into mommy groups, play groups, mommy/baby classes, and weekly trips to the park all in the name of finding some mom friends.
You know in which activity I found them? I didn’t.
My mom friends fell into my lap at all the places I wasn’t looking. You know why? Because women are women (you know what I mean). And because finding a mom whom you like will only work if she also carries the following attributes:
- Her kid is not a jerk.
- She’s okay with you giving your baby the binkie from the floor.
- You can both laugh at the fact your kid just pooped outside with the dog.
- You share the same stance on Miley Cyrus.
- She’s procreated roughly the same number of times as you.
Okay, so obviously, this is my specific checklist, but the general rules are there. Kids, sense of humor, parenting style, and so on. It’s important to be able to check the boxes. If not, then it just becomes an awkward Mom-petition that stresses everyone out.
Finding the perfect mom friend is like finding a Starbucks drive-thru when you’re running on fumes and have two sleeping kids in the back seat. It’s rare. So if you’re still in the thick of the mommy dating scene, hang in there. You’ll find your unicorn soon.
Between the all-nighters in the library and perfecting my skills at Flip Cup, I learned some really valuable lessons in my four years at college (okay, four and a half). I’m not talking about the things I learned inside a classroom. I’m referring to the invaluable life skills college taught me that would directly transfer to my job as a parent. From living in the dorms with hundreds of other selfish teenagers to basic survival skills, college is almost a crash course of parenting basics.
• Cleaning Up Gross Things
If you’ve ever had to clean up the aftermath from a weekend party in college, then you know the horror that may be hiding under that empty pizza box. It’s really no different than cleaning up after a toddler. I have found way worse things in her bed, toy box, and under her fingernails. Those weekend party clean-ups can’t hold a candle to cleaning up after a tiny person who doesn’t understand the concept of gross.
• Toddlers = Tiny Drunk People (not literally)
Have you seen the viral post out there that points out how kids are just like drunk adults? It’s so true. Kids lack the ability to control their volume. They fall asleep in positions like this:
They constantly want pizza and french fries. Puke happens A LOT. They’re emotional. And you can’t trust them with your phone. The only difference? I won't leave my tiny, drunk-like tyrant on the bathroom floor with a cup of water.
• You Can Survive on Almost Anything
In college, you eat junk because it’s all you can afford. As a parent you tend to eat the scraps off your kids’ plates because GOOD GOD, the thought of not sitting down for a second of peace sounds like torture. Fixing another meal is out of the question. For example, today I had four bites of mac and cheese, a cereal bar and a handful of trail mix for lunch. Yesterday it was the last chicken nugget and some peas. Would a full meal have been nice? Yes, but those five minutes on the couch were BEAUTIFUL.
• Sleep Isn’t Entirely Necessary
I was the irresponsible student who spent the night before every big final in the library pulling an all nighter. And if I hadn’t been such a poor planner of a student, I’d be in a world of pain these last two years as my spawn suck away my sweet, precious hours of sleep. College taught me that a large cup of coffee is a great Band-Aid and those next three hours of sleep tomorrow will be AMAZING. That’s not to say that I’m not still a huge jerk with little sleep, but I know I won’t die.
That’s saying something. Thanks, college.
Is it me or has parenting become exponentially more difficult in the last 10 years? When I was a kid, I remember spending my days eating Spaghetti-Os, watching marathons of Muppet Babies, and playing outside for hours and hours with no adult in sight. You know what that's considered now? Neglect.
Maybe this is always true of the current generation, but we seem to have deemed ourselves parenting experts and consider everything our parents did to be wrong. In some ways, this is a good thing (e.g. Riding in the backs of pick-up trucks). In other ways it's just absolutely ridiculous. For example:
1. Birthday Parties
What in the hell has happened here? I remember going to birthday parties as a kid. We simply played for a bit, sang "Happy Birthday", ate some friggin' cake, and watched our buddy open up some presents. Why on Earth have these things morphed into themed parties that take hours of planning, hundreds of dollars and are only appreciated by the people who aren't being celebrated? It's crazy! For HJ's first birthday, I fell victim to this whole fiasco. We had a Milk & Cookies theme and I stressed myself completely out as I accounted for food allergies, activities for older kids, balloons during a helium shortage, and the perfect shade of pink in every corner. I was still so stressed out by the experience that HJ had a grandparents only party the next year.
2. Elf on the Shelf
Simply singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" used to be enough to put kids in check. Now they have a snitch. Not just any snitch, but one in which Mom and Dad have to place in humorous and cutesy positions every night to entertain the kids and remind them to be good. Because completing Christmas shopping, baking for holiday parties, seeing family, going to light shows, and wrapping presents isn't enough to keep us busy during that month. We need to add a stupid elf to the list. (Full disclosure: HJ and B's elf is currently in my closet, ready to make her debut this Christmas.)
3. Organic EVERYTHING
Yes, organic is the best way to feed a family. Avoiding pesticides, GMOs, additives, and other preservatives is preferable, obviously. I get it. That being said, I still need to be able to afford to actually feed my family. Have you noticed how organic food is nearly double the price? AND everything can be organic these days. There's organic t-shirts, organic cleaners, and organic candy. There's even organic diaper bags. Seriously? We really need the bag that carries my kid's poopy diapers to be organic? Are we eating it later?
4. Kid's Sports
I played sports as a kid. I was in dance, gymnastics, tee ball, softball and volleyball. The difference between kids' sports back then and now is the fact that our sports didn't eat up every free friggin' moment of every day. Thankfully my kids aren't old enough for this yet, but I have seen it from family and friends. As soon as their kid starts a sporting activity, I NEVER see them again because it never seems to end. They are always at practice, a game, or a tournament. As soon as the summer league is over, then the fall league starts. Fall's over? Oh, great! The spring league is here! I don't blame parents. I blame the coaches and league organizers. Do these people even have kids?
As much as I love it, I have to admit: Pinterest is an a-hole. It further perpetuates the notion that parents must do everything perfectly and be the best at everything. Just the other day I saw a pin that taught parents how to apply tattoos to bananas for school lunches. Are you kidding me?! It's not enough to make lunch for your children, but now we have to decorate it? Ridiculous. Also, because of Pinterest, I am guilted into thinking I should have a water table, a colored rice sensory table, make my own finger paints, sew pillowcase dresses, put lunches artfully into cute little bento boxes, and that I should be setting up monthly photo shoots with my wiggly kids. No. No. And no. It's difficult enough to keep them alive, fed, clothed, bathed, and away from my secret candy stash.
Can we collectively agree to take it all down a notch?
I get asked all the time how my life has changed since Baby #2 joined our family. I usually follow this up with a laugh and some typical canned response that will keep people from calling social services on me.
The truth is: Baby #2 is a GAME CHANGER.
When you have just one kid, you have all the time in the world to pick out cute outfits every morning, fix them delicious and nutritious meals, practice shapes and colors, and be a good parent when said kid has a meltdown - OK, that may be an exaggeration. But that's how it feels like things used to be before the tornado that is B hit our house.
Those sleepless nights, round-the-clock feeding sessions and every two hour diaper changes? Yeah. Those are back. Only this time, I must do all of that while simultaneously stopping my toddler from accidentally killing herself. For example, I took the kids to the park the other day. B started screaming to eat (she only has one volume level) and as soon as I latch her on, OF COURSE HJ decides to swing her tiny toddler body over the edge of the playground platform (you know, the section made for big kids) and is just seconds from splitting open her pig-tailed head. I had to run to grab her with B still attached. You can imagine how awesome that sight was. It's not like I had time to unlatch B and put my boob back in before I ran to save her. I left my dignity back in that labor and delivery room.
This kind of stuff is the norm now. When out to eat, my head must be on a swivel. The second I turn my attention to the baby because she's sick of being in her car seat is always the same second HJ will grab someone's drink and dump it over her head. It's like I'm constantly juggling a wild pack of monkeys with lit matches.
Don't get me wrong. Being a mom to two is awesome. It's fun to see them begin to form the bond that will one day manifest into plans of covering each others' backs when they sneak out of the house or when B needs HJ to buy her beer at 18 (Karma says these things will happen).
But, having two under age 3 is absolutely exhausting. They rarely nap at the same time and I can't remember the last meal I ate with both hands free. All of this has forced me to mellow out though. I no longer freak out when the baby drops her binkie on the floor or when HJ licks the table at a restaurant. I don't put shoes on a baby who clearly cannot walk yet (seriously, what's the point?). There are way too many other things to stress about. My brain has no room for silly worries like that.
Really, I'd like to think I'm a better mother as a whole with two babies. But, I also require more wine. So, there's that.
It's National Breastfeeding Month. I'm sure you're already aware of it because every breastfeeder online is kind of shoving it down your throat about now.
I'm one of those people. I apologize.
I get really excited at the chance to talk about breastfeeding because I had a really hard time learning how to do it and very seriously considered giving up numerous times. It's by far the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life. SERIOUSLY.
That being said, I am insanely glad I did/am doing it.
However, I recognize that this month is a giant guilt trip for those moms out there who tried their hardest to nurse their babies and for whatever reason, couldn't. For that, I am very sorry. This month should not be a slap in the face to you ladies. You're doing what's right for your family and you're awesome.
I may not speak for all of us breastfeeding hippies, but I'm going to be honest with you: There are so many times that I am jealous of your bottles. And your freedom. And your pretty, normal bras.
And also these reasons:
Your significant other probably doesn't just shrug his or her shoulders and point to you when the baby is hungry. I firmly believe they should manufacture the man-boob from Meet the Fockers. I'm totally not kidding either.
People can come over to watch the baby and you can actually SLEEP. People offered to do this for me when both of my girls were born and it just made me laugh. Riiight. I'll sleep for 1 1/2 hour increments when you have to come wake me up to feed the baby again. No, thanks. That's the same as you not being here.
You don't have to rush home to change your shirt when someone else's child cries at the grocery store. Did you know this happens? Breastfeeding women often will experience "letdown" at the sound of a baby crying. Mother Nature was awesome in that she gave our breasts this trigger mechanism, however, I wish I could let her know that I don't plan to feed the entire community.
You are able to have help feeding the baby in the middle of the night. My husband doesn't even know when/if our girls wake up to eat. He gets long hours of uninterrupted sleep. After the previous nine months of discomfort CREATING A PERSON, I'm not bitter about this part at all.
It's okay for you to have more than one beer with friends at a barbecue. I made this very terrible decision recently and had too many beverages one night when my husband and I had an overnight sitter. I paid for it for three days after my breast milk upset B's stomach. Never again.
You will never have to milk yourself in a public bathroom. Obviously, this was a personal experience and it probably doesn't happen to everyone, but it was mentally scarring nonetheless. You see, a few months after I had my first girl, I forgot to pump before going out to celebrate a friend's birthday. Total rookie mistake. Three hours in to karaoke night, I was in pain and my boobs felt like they might explode. I had no pump to relieve the pressure so I had to resort to standing over a toilet and literally milking myself like a cow. It was equal parts embarrassing and fascinating to be perfectly honest. And something I never want to do again (I apologize to the childless guys out there for ruining boobs for you just now).
So yeah. I love breastfeeding my babes, but there are many times that I envy those with the rubber nipples.
After my last post, a friend of mine commented that my children are always dressed so nicely despite my claims to buy secondhand and cheap kids clothes.
So I feel I must come clean.
I am a Fakebooker.
What is a Fakebooker? A big, giant liar is what it is. That life that I put out there on Facebook? It's totally Mary Poppins' world. It doesn't exist in real life. My children do not smile for every photo op. They do not smell of roses and sunshine. We do not sit down and have craft time every day. That's way too exhausting. I'll be lucky if my kids ever learn what the word 'craft' means.
But what on Earth has happened to all of my Facebook friends? It's like Martha Stewart and Pinterest had a baby and that baby took over my friends like pod people. The girls I used to drunkenly sing "Pour Some Sugar on Me" with at The Ranch are now posting perfectly posed photos of cute babies at Deanna Rose Farmstead, their organic produce from the farmer's market and are recording their kids reciting friggin' Shakespeare — okay so that's an exaggeration, but you get my point.
Because of this, I can't possibly post the hilarious photo from this weekend of HJ with dirt covering her mouth because she thought the ground sprouted Oreo crumbs. Or that B cries to be held most of the day and I usually give in because I. JUST. CANNOT. TAKE. IT. ANYMORE.
No. I can't post any of that. PEOPLE WILL JUDGE ME.
Mommy guilt is a powerful thing and nothing brings it on faster than the unsolicited opinions of other people. You can say what you want about my hair, my clothes or even the color I painted my living room and I won't care, but the moment a word is spoken about the well-being of my children? That stuff cuts like a knife. It can even be something as mundane as "HJ is having a bad hair day, huh?" Immediately, I will be filled with immense guilt that I let my child leave the house to be mocked and ridiculed.
It's ridiculous, I know. Mommy guilt comes out of nowhere. It's so stupid and it needs to be stopped.
So today, I'm letting down my guard and un-Photoshopping our life. The madness must stop. Everyday is NOT perfect and we must admit that some of those photos were strategically taken to omit the giant pile of laundry on the floor. Right?
Here's what our everyday really looks like:
She refused to stay in her bed and I was so over scolding her to get back in. So she slept here.
She spent a good part of the morning like this because she liked it. I say if Beyonce doesn't have to wear pants, then Baby Girl, you rock what ya got.
B rarely smiles for photos. If she does it's a friggin' miracle. Most of our shots look similar to this.
Okay Facebook moms. Where are your un-Photoshopped life events?