Saturday, December 28, 2013

Night #1

Christmas time in our household = travel. Every year. Unless I have just had a baby or am about to have a baby, which will never be the case again. So yep, travel. Every year. With 3 kids. Lots of Mommy-bloggers and Daddy-bloggers have written about this topic, so here is my latest tale to add to the pile.

We usually make our Kansas City - Chicago drive in one day, but with an impending KC ice storm, we needed to get on the road ASAP. This led to us splitting the drive and spending the night in St. Louis.

We arrived at the hotel at around 11 pm. All 3 kids were blessedly sound asleep, so my husband went in to check in and set up the room with bags, pack and play, etc. As it was late, dark, and a sketchy man was wandering the parking lot asking for change, I locked the doors while we waited in the car. About 3 minutes later, our 5-year old awoke screaming that he needed to go potty RIGHT NOW. Ummmm.... your sister and brother are still asleep and Daddy is somewhere in the hotel. It is almost the middle of the night, and freezing rain is pouring down. Options?? Not many. Not sure yet how I am going to manage this, I know that at least I need to get him out of the car. Maybe Daddy will come out to get him, maybe he will pee on the sidewalk, who knows. I hop out, run around to his side of the van, and.... oh crap, I had locked the doors. The keys are in the ignition because we are keeping the car running for the heat. So Mommy is standing outside in the rain yelling to my hysterical son through the window.

"Try to open the door! Can you open it? Try! Try again!"
Fail. Damn safety locks!

"Mommy!!! I reeeeeeeeeally need to go potty!"

Crap. I did happen to have my phone so I texted my husband: "Come outside. Now."

Next course of action -- I told him to climb over the seat (please don't pee on it!) into the driver seat to hit the unlock button.

"See the button with the lock on it? Hit the unlock button. No, not that one. That one. Not that one. That one. The one above it. The other one. No, the OTHER ONE."

Other people are entering the hotel watching this frantic mother standing outside her mini-van in the rain at 11 pm yelling "The UNLOCK button! UNLOCK!"

Finally, he gets it. Success!! No pee yet! As he emerges from the car, my terrified husband comes running out of the hotel thinking I am being car-jacked due to my frantic text. I push my son towards him and yell, "POTTY!!!"

15 minutes later, we are in the hotel room. Son has peed, other kids are wide awake. Over an hour later, however, everyone is settled and in bed. But baby is not happy. Baby wants Mommy, not this random pack and play in a strange hotel room. I warn everyone that he is going to cry for a bit, and we all need to deal and lay down quietly. The pack and play is RIGHT NEXT to our bed. I lay him down, climb into bed, and he screams. After a few minutes, he is quiet. But I have to pee. I slowly start to pull the covers back and WAAAA! again. SHIT. No pee for Mom. 5 minutes later, he is calm again. But now I have to cough (and still pee). I try like hell to hold it in (the cough, and well, also the pee). Tears are streaming down my face. After about 5 more minutes, I let out a quick cough as quietly as possible into a pillow.


This was night 1 of a 2-week trip.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Out with the old...

I was recently lamenting the dusty box in my basement full of my pre-child holiday decorations. Each year for the past 5 years, fewer and fewer items emerge from it. This year, I barely tried. I have 3 kids this Christmas -- one of whom wants to eat any and all objects he can get to, and the other two are bringing home lovely "creations" that usually resemble Christmas (well, at least they are green and red) on a weekly basis. Also, we are traveling this year and won't even be home for the week before or after the actual holiday. So, for all of these reasons, I did not put much effort into Christmas decorations. Where would I put anything anyway? Fancy Christmas towels? Ha! For sticky little syrupy hands to wipe on?? Linen napkins with Christmas napkin rings?? Haven't seen 'em in years. Santa candlesticks?? Right... for my dining room table -- which my son now officially calls the "Lego table"?? We did put up a tree, but even the ornaments are feeling abandoned. Nothing breakable down low, where little hands can reach them = lots of expensive ornaments staying in their boxes in recent years.

As I pine for years past when I used all of my beautiful decorations, and as I peruse Pinterest and pin (for some silly reason) decorating ideas that I will use who knows when, I look around my house. I realized something today. My house is more festive, more Christmas-y than ever before. There is a holiday decoration in every nook and cranny. Where there used to be a porcelain antique Santa, there is now this snowman:

To replace my lush green holly wreath, I now have this wreath:

On my mantle, there are no Santa candlesticks. They have been replaced with this Christmas tree masterpiece and the accompanying card we received:

And the window clings... This is what happened when my 3-year old got a hold of the individual pieces to make a snowman and Santa, after which she exclaimed, "What a beautiful job I did!"

I am not sure when the old box of decorations will get re-visited, if ever. But I think my house is plenty festive these days without them. And yes, kids, a beautiful job you did.

Monday, October 28, 2013


I have watched the entire first season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix over the past few weeks. Like many (real life) prisons, inmates are put into solitary confinement for violent or unacceptable behavior. It is called The SHU (Special Housing Units -- I googled it so you won't have to).

Lately I feel like I am running a correction center and my 2-year old daughter is what prison officials may call "a problem inmate." Last night I had to put her in The SHU. It was awful.

I have tried everything else I could think of prior to resorting to this method of discipline. When she has been defiant, I have taken away her favorite toy. She then went in her playroom and found another toy. I have then taken away a whole bucket of toys, dolls, stuffed animals, etc. This was upsetting, but there are always more toys somewhere. I have sent her to her room. Also upsetting, but once calmed down, she waltzed downstairs on her own terms and proudly declared, "I am happy now."

So last night when all else failed, after she literally LAUGHED through my other attempts at disciplining her unacceptable behavior, I put her in her room and locked the door. END OF THE WORLD. It was like prison (from what I have seen on TV). She was scared, angry, kicking, screaming, banging on the door, demanding to be let out, begging to be let out, going out of her mind. Only when she calmed down and apologized and promised to improve her behavior and act like a big girl did I open the door. She emerged quiet, subdued, and tired. It broke her.

I cried. I hate The SHU. But because it is the only thing that has worked for this kid, I told her frankly (like a prison guard would tell an inmate) that if this behavior continues, she will go back in her room again with the door closed. Or -- and here is a crazy notion -- she COULD just behave and not be defiant. Please oh please oh please do not make Mommy put you back in the SHU.

When your friends don't have kids

My husband and I have a some couple-friends who do not have kids. And we have 3. And they are small and loud. This past weekend, wonderfully kind friends of ours invited us (ALL of us) over to their kid-less house to watch some football on Sunday afternoon.

Here is the list of us vs. them:

Us: cul-de-sac in boring old suburbs
Them: adorable house in quaint part of town within walking distance to boutique shops and sushi bars
Us: 3 kids under 5 years old
Them: 1 tiny dog
Us: kid-destroyed house with pee stains on furniture and year-old Cheerios in the couch cushions
Them: designer area rugs and imported South American artwork

So we decide to take them up on their invitation and head over to their house with the monsters. What to bring... Well, I have broken down the list of items into the categories below.


For 4-year old son: Kindle Fire for video games and space books so he can educate us on the phases of the moon during half time

For 2-year old daughter: All of her princesses and their dresses (=6 princesses and 6 princess dresses) as well as all 4 of her Minnie Mouses and all of their dresses and accessories (each Minnie has 2 dresses, 2 bows and 1 pair of shoes = 4 Minnie Mouses, 8 dresses, 8 bows, 4 pairs of shoes)

For 8-month old: drooly toys, drooly books, and blanket to drool on.


Knowing our trendy friends will probably serve something like delicious kale-beet salad (to which my kids will make their "WTF is this??" face), we also bring:

For big kids: Sandwiches to eat in the car, as well as fruit snacks and Nutri Grain bars
For baby: Cheerios and fruit cup, baby spoon and bib
For all kids: Cups with lids. Kid-less grown ups will only own glasses (like non-plastic actual breakable glass cups in which a beverage is served). For my kids? Hell no.

Clothing and diapers:

3 pairs of extra pants and underwear for our 2-year old who is still potty training. (Please, please, please do NOT pee on their hand-woven rug made by Tibetan monks.)

diapers and wipes for baby
Pad on which to change baby (not be changed on Tibetan monk rug)


If we would like to stay anywhere for more than 11 minutes these days, we will need to put our 8-month old down for nap. So we also bring the pack & play and pack & play sheet. Also in this category: pacifier and back up pacifier.

Mommy's job: prepare all of the above.
Daddy's job: buy beer.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Don't poke the bear.

As all parents know, we must speak in code. We refer to our monster 2-year old daughter as M.C. ("Middle Child) and we have also introduced the concept of "Don't poke the bear" to our 4-year old son. Because of her unpredictable and very irrational mood swings and behavior, we are teaching him to avoid instigating a meltdown. If you sense that she is tired, hungry, cranky, frustrated, or really, just in the room... DON'T POKE THE BEAR.

This morning Mommy officially has caught the virus that is tearing through our household, so she was having a rest on the couch. Someone needed to wake up Daddy for work. I asked my 2-year old to do it, to which she replied, "Nope."

Great. Thanks.

"Can you please go wake up Daddy? He would love to see you."
"YOU go wake up Daddy."
Teasing her, "YOU go wake up Daddy."
"No, YOU."
Tickling her chin, "No, YOU."

She stops, turns, looks me deep in the eye and says coldly, "Don't poke the bear."

The superhero talk

While driving, I hear from the 3rd row back seat (from my 4-year old):

"Mom, are super heroes real guys or made up guys?" 
"Um.... what does Daddy say?"

Okay, not off to a very good start, Mommy. 

2 minutes later: "What if I am in trouble and need help and a super hero does not come in time?"

Opportunity for redemption! 

"You know what? I'll bet you would not need a super hero. You are so brave and strong."
"I am not big or strong enough to beat a villain, mom." (Not buying what I am selling.)
"I'll bet you are stronger than you think you are. I know I could count on you to help me if I was in trouble."
"But what if I really needed a super hero's help? What if Ironman or Spiderman did not come help me?"

What else you got, Mom? Oh! I know! Opportunity for Biblical reference!

"Do you remember David from the Bible? Remember how even though he was small, he was brave and fought Goliath the Giant and won? Because he believed in God?"

Look at you, Mommy! Pulling tricks like that out of your back pocket!

"Never mind Mom. I will ask Daddy later. Let's talk about something else."


Saturday, September 28, 2013

A compliment from Daddy

After a very long week, my kind husband was trying to give me a break this morning and allow me to work out in peace while he handled all 3 kids. While getting shredded with Jillian Michaels, I overhead the following:

Each kid needed something from Dad to which he admitted, "I cannot do 3 things at once. Only Mommy can do 3 things at once."

My son then asked, "How can Mommy do 3 things at once?"

Dad: "Because Mommy is amazing."

Aaaaawwww. So sweet.

Fast forward 3 hours. Daddy is out and Mommy is alone with all 3. It is the witching hour for the 7- month old who does not know if he is more tired or more hungry, so Mom is trying to get a few bites of food in him before a nap. And she has the big kids' dinner cooking on the stove. And the 2-year old needs help pulling up her pants in the bathroom.

Because of tasks #s 1 and 2, I told her that she is a big girl and could do it herself.

"But Mommy!!! I caaaaaaaan't!!! I need you!!!"

"Well Mommy is busy feeding your brother and cooking. I cannot help you right now."

And here it is: my clever 4-year old son pipes in: "But Daddy said you can do 3 things at once. So this should be easy for you, Mom."

Thanks for trying, Daddy. Love ya.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Motherhood is...

Sipping wine between folding towels and onesies at 9:00 at night.

Squatting on a public bathroom floor with a baby on your hip as you hoist a toddler onto the toilet.

Letting your child wear her shoes on the wrong feet to have one less battle to fight today.

Going to Target on a Friday night as your "Mom's Night Out."

Changing your sheets at midnight because your 4-year old had crept into your bed and then peed all over it in his sleep.

Then sleeping in his bed because he is taking up all of your side in your bed. (Daddy still manages to command his entire half.)

Desperately needing a break from your kids only to text babysitter in 30-minute intervals to find out every specific detail about feeding, bedtime, pooping, etc.

For dinner, eating 3 bites of macaroni and cheese, one half of a cold meatball and 6 carrot sticks (a.k.a. whatever was left on their plates).

Wearing a green macaroni necklace all day doing errands.

Pinning projects on Pinterest that will never get done. Spending hours creating different boards for said pins but never taking the time to actually do the projects.

Justifying going out without showering because you will "probably work out later." You won't.

Finding a Cheerio on the floor and eating it because that is easier than getting up and bringing it to the garbage.

Shutting your irrational and exhausting toddler in her room for bed after 8 tantrums since dinner. Then creeping back up there 20 minutes later hoping she is still awake so you can give her a kiss and tell her you love her. Then feeling horribly guilty because she is already asleep. Waiting for the morning to start fresh with positive love-filled parenting. In morning, fighting with her 12 times before 9 am. Wishing for bedtime. Repeating cycle.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mommy's echo

We all know that kids copy what we say. My son has been caught saying "crap", "shoot" & "dang-it" on a few occasions, all heard from Mommy or Daddy. These are easy situations to address. Mommy and Daddy are sorry. We should not say those words and neither should you. Done.

Well I am still waiting for my chapter of Parenting 101 to arrive in the mail regarding this next one. The following statements have been turned around on me and repeated VERBATIM by my 4-year old son:

"Mom, I shouldn't have to ask you several times to get me a snack." (Mommy often says, "I shouldn't have to ask you several times to get your shoes on, get dressed, brush your teeth", etc.)

"Mom, just once can you say 'ok' when I ask you to do something and just do it?" (He often hears Mommy say this when he is resisting doing a chore, etc. He used this statement to express his frustration that I was unavailable to play Legos with him because I was cooking dinner.)

And from my 2-year old daughter, whom I asked to keep an eye on her baby brother while I ran to the bathroom. Her response? "We'll see, Mom."

Worried about Mommy's wine

Earlier in the day, I had mentioned that I needed to buy a bottle of wine. It was MNO (Moms' Night Out) at a friend's house and I had offered to bring a beverage. Fast forward a few hours.

Sitting at the pediatrician's office pharmacy waiting for a prescription, my son notices a vending machine.

"Mom, do you want to get something out of that machine?"
"No, honey. I am ok. Thanks though."
"But it has bottles in it. See the picture on the front?"
"Um, ok....?? What do you think Mommy needs?"
"You need to get a bottle of wine for yourself. I bet they have them in that machine. You don't want to forget!"

Multiple heads turn (many belonging to doctors and nurses -- the rest belonging to other parents).

Thank you, son, for making everyone in this room think I am the kind of mother who would buy wine out of a vending machine. (How amazing would it be to be though to able to buy wine out of a vending machine?!)

I had already purchased said wine earlier in the day without him knowing (apparently) so I thanked him for his concern but informed him that Mommy was all set.

"Mommies don't work."

Working moms vs. Stay at home moms... Aaah, this old debate again? Working moms get to shop at Ann Taylor and experience something called a "lunch hour"! SAHMs get their own acronym and don't have to iron! Ever!

As a SAHM, I also enjoy the generally happy faces of approval that society grants me. I notice this particularly at the pediatrician's office, when the nurse asks if my child attends daycare. I reply "no" and usually I am met with a sigh of relief. One nurse even snuck in an "oh, good." What, I wonder, do you say to working moms who reply "yes" to that question?!

Well mommies, here's a doozy for you. Tonight at the dinner table, the following conversation happened:

My 4-year old son told my 2-year old daughter: "When you grow up, you will be a mommy."

Her reply: "I want to be a lawyer like daddy."

My son then said, "Only boys can be lawyers."

Punch. In. The. Gut.

To add salt to the wound, my daughter followed up with, "Yeah. Mommies don't work."

Double punch. I wanted to crawl under the table into a ball. But I didn't. I saw an opportunity here to educate both of my children about mommies and daddies and work and careers and equality and... and... And I think they eventually tuned me out.

My kids do not know that I earned both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, worked for 7 years, and supported my husband and paid the rent through his law school. Their Mommy wears a ponytail every day, buys animal crackers for this week's play date, and picks up Daddy's dry cleaning.

I do try very hard to set a good example for all of my children, but particularly for my daughter as I am her female role model. I tell her that Mommy exercises to get stronger, in order foster positive body image. She cheers me on during my work outs, saying "You are getting stronger, Mommy!" I tell her that she and I have girl power that helps us be brave and strong and fight our fears. I read with her, and each of us gets our own books at the library -- including "big grown up books" for Mommy. I know these are all good examples for her to see. But at 2 years old, all she knows is a daddy who wears nice clothes and goes to work, sometimes on "airplane trips" to be a lawyer. And Mommy stays home with her, brings her to the grocery store, cooks dinner, cleans the house, does the laundry... you know the list.

And I have told her many times that she can be anything she wants to be. Of course I would love for her to be a mommy, a SAHM if she chooses. But I DEFINITELY want her to have a career, a passion, something for herself that sucks us dry financially for 4-10 years of schooling.

Hearing these words hurt. A lot. However, I have to remind myself that I may not show her a mommy who goes off to work every day in an office like Daddy does, but I do show her a mommy who does her best. Who works hard. Who sacrifices. Who misses working but treasures her time at home. Who made a choice. And who should probably wear comfy pants less often.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The orange bird

I have 3 kids, and my 2-year old daughter is at the height (or what I pray is the height) of the terrible twos. She is irrational, emotional, defiant, and melts down over the most inane reasons. Over the course of today, there have been more tantrums than I can count, but here are a few highlights that culminate with the story of the orange bird.

Meltdown #1 this morning: Over her request to have a drink on the couch in a cup with no lid. Denied. This has never been allowed so I am not sure why she thought there was a chance. She is 2 years old.

Meltdown #2 later in the morning: One of the candles on her play cake is missing. No one knows where it is. This is the end of the world.

Meltdown #3 this afternoon: We are out of yellow popsicles. Also, the end of the world.

Meltdown #4 this evening: Mommy gave her the wrong Hello Kitty cup with dinner. Not the light pink Hello Kitty cup! The dark pink one!! Catastrophe!

Well you can imagine that bedtime could NOT come soon enough. The hubs had to work late so after this A+ day of parenting, Mommy was on her own at bedtime. Oldest kid: easy. 4 years old, totally gets that Mommy is on the brink of losing it, cooperates and pretty much puts himself to bed. Youngest kid is a 21 lb. 6-month old. Despite his size, he too is an easy kid these days -- especially compared to M.C. ("Middle Child" -- don't judge me). But by bedtime, the baby is tired and hungry.

Mommy desperately wants this day of horribleness to end and in order to do that, Miss Irrational needs me to meet her list of demands. They are as follows:
-Read story. One more. Just one more Mommy. NOOOO! One more!
-Water. More water. Just one more sip of water. MORE WATER!
-White bear. Not THAT white bear. The white bear with the pink ribbon!

Just when I think we are done, she then asks for orange bird. Orange bird is a 2-inch tall plastic bird. He is completely random and I have no idea where he came from. By this point in the night, my 6-month old is VERY tired and hungry and is clawing at my shirt trying desperately to find a nipple. I attempt to say, "No. You already have several friends in your bed. You can see orange bird in the morning." (Not only am I tired of giving in to her ridiculous demands, but also, I have NO IDEA where the frick orange bird is.) Obviously, this is received well.

Carrying my ginormous tired and hungry baby downstairs, I begin the search for orange bird. After scouring the disaster that is my playroom, I miraculously find it. (In a pot, in her play kitchen. Obviously.) Okay! This is it! I go all the way back upstairs, carting hulk-baby on my hip, and enter her room.

"Look who I found!" I put orange bird next to her in the bed.
"No, I don't want it in my bed. Orange bird needs to sleep over there. On the shelf."

(In my head): "Are you f-ing kidding me?" And good night.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The scariest spider ever

If you know me personally, you may know of my severe arachnophobia. An encounter with a spider = shaking, nausea, inability to concentrate on anything else, and likely nightmares for days. Especially the ginormous ones in the somewhat southern state in which I live. Upon moving into our house, I had signed up for pest control and pledged hundreds of dollars per year via my credit card before the 3rd box was unpacked.

Today while playing with the kids, I happened to glance into a vent in the floor and saw my worst fear. A huge hairy wolf spider just sitting there waiting to terrorize me. Fortunately, my 4 year old son is not afraid of any bugs and usually takes care of them for me. However, I did not want this thing in my kitchen so I would not let him take out the vent. I thought (prayed) it might be dead but to verify, I had him throw baseballs at the vent to see if it moved. This was exciting for him on multiple levels -- not only was he mommy's hero but he was allowed to throw a baseball! In the house?!

It did not move. Okay, must be dead. Now how to dispose of the carcass...

Pest control was already scheduled to come today to deal with the bees outside. (This would have been a much better story if they came out SOLELY to deal with the spider... You'll see why in a minute.) So after the technicican knocked down our nests and sprayed outside, I asked him to come inside, take out our vent, and dispose of the terrifying arachnid giving me an ulcer. So he put his paper shoe covers on and entered my living room. He lifted the vent while I stood 20 feet away in horror.

To my surprise, he said, "The spider must have gone back down the air duct."

What?! It was ALIVE?! I tiptoed closer to peer over his shoulder and saw it! It was right there in front of him!

"That right there! You don't see it?!"

He then proceeded to pick up the "spider", show it to me, and say, "Ma'am, this is a piece of lint."

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A familiar road

I began writing this blog when my eldest son was 2 and my daughter was an infant. I was adjusting to life with 2 kids as well as learning how to potty-train a toddler. Thus, many (most) of my posts were pee / poop related. There were just. so. many. stories to tell.

Well that little infant is a full blown 2-year old now in the throws of potty-training herself. (By the way, we DID finally get our son potty-trained. It only took a measly 15 months start to finish.) And we have a new infant in the house -- a 19 lb. 4-month old who loves to be held. A lot.

I don't have as much time to blog as I used to so there are a lot of new potty-training stories that will unfortunately have to be omitted. But this latest one is a real winner so I made myself find time to sit down and write.

My uterus is officially retiring so we are beginning the baby purge as our little (enormous) guy grows out of things and therefore held a baby stuff garage sale. I was outside manning the tables and money; the big kids were playing nicely inside. Not fighting, miraculously. I was thrilled. It was a nice break being outside in the fresh air without them pantsing me, fighting over the last red popsicle, or bringing me bugs. However, after not having any child visitors for a curious amount of time, I popped inside to check on them. They were both laying on the playroom floor -- one on the computer, the other on the LeapPad. I immediately noticed a large circular stain on my daughter's bottom (as she was laying on her stomach). She looked up and said, "I peed." Um, no. The stain was brown. Oh shit. Yes, pun intended.

I whisked her to the bathroom as quickly as possible. It was as a bad as I had prayed it wouldn't be. Worse.
Underwear: garbage.
Shorts: garbage.
After cleaning her up, as well as the floor and well, pretty much the entire bathroom, I headed back to the playroom to check on the status of the carpet in there. Walking through the kitchen, I slipped and almost fell on my butt.!! Yep, some diarrhea poop had fallen out of her clothes onto my kitchen floor, and yep, I just slipped in it.

Flip-flops: garbage.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

B.K. vs. A.K.

One of the best and truest quotes I have heard lately is "I was a really great parent before I had kids."
I was very quick to pass naive judgment in my energetic carefree kid-less 20s. 

"I will NEVER have a toddler running around in public with a pacifier in his mouth."
"I will NOT have a kid who only eats 4 things."
"Our kids will NOT play video games."
Blah blah blah.

Well, who has two thumbs and is guilty of letting her kids do all of the above? THIS MOMMY!

I recently stopped in at our local gymnastics facility to sign my daughter up for classes. There was a mother there watching her daughter practice while also trying to keep her other children entertained in the waiting area. She had brought a slew of books, toys, snacks, etc. to keep them occupied. She had 4 kids total (=3 "watching" sister in gymnastics). One of her kids looked to be between 1 1/2 and 2 and had a pacifier in his mouth. I realized while talking to this adorable little guy how much I had changed.

Old me -- B.K. (Before Kids) would have thought: "Oh my goodness. Get that thing out of his mouth so he can talk. Ridiculous. I will NEVER do that."

A.K. (After Kids): "Soldier on, Sister. Soldier on."

Sunday, May 5, 2013

1st child vs. 3rd child

It is not that we loved our first child more than the others. In fact, I feel a greater attachment to child #3 as a baby than I did to #1, likely due to the fact that I know what I am doing this time and am not terrified or overwhelmed to the point of tears. Also, I know how cool the future will be -- the other two have grown into such amazing humans that on my worst day with #3, I still find joy in imagining what he will become at 2, 3, and 4 years old.

However, life for this little guy is drastically different from the baby days of #1. There are quite a few major changes in our parenting as we have progressed from #1 to #3.

Feeding: every time I nursed #1 (at least for the first couple of months) I had to sit at my nursing station. I had a specific chair, a glass of water, multiple burp cloths, and of course my trusty Boppy. It was all essential for a successful feeding. Child #3 is usually fed on the Boppy, but gone are the glasses of water and I am usually scrambling for a burp cloth, or I just let him puke right onto my shirt. Also, many times he is NOT nursed on the Boppy, but rather, is fed on the floor of the playroom, at the kitchen table mid-Lego project, or in the car in the midst of multiple errands. Also, I kept a detailed chart of #1's feedings for weeks -- which side, how long, etc. When my pediatrician asked how often and for how long #3 eats, I had no idea. Um.... when he's hungry? Um.... until he's full?

Age: When asked how old child #1 was, I had very detailed answers at the ready: "4 weeks and 2 days." How old is child #3? "Ummm.... 2 months? Ish? When is his birthday.... oh the 25th! Whenever the 25th is, he will turn 3 months."

Music exposure: Child #1 was only exposed to either children's CDs or classical music in the car to stimulate brain development. If Mommy is out and about with only #3, the poor kid gets to rock out to Pit Bull.

Diapers: Child #1 wore the most expensive Pampers Mommy could find, since she whole heartedly believed they held in the poop better. #3 gets the biggest box of Kirkland diapers Costco sells.

Clothing: Child #1 had his clothes changed multiple times per day. Mommy had time to care about him wearing all of his cute clothes at least once. She also was willing to deal with jean overalls, Nikes and other completely impractical clothing items for infants. Child #3 does not wear overalls, shoes, or really anything except onesies and one-piece pj outfits. And he does not get changed unless he needs a bath or pukes or poops all over his clothes. This means that yes, he may wear the same outfit all day, all night, and into the next day. If it does not smell, it does not come off.

Naps: Life revolved around child #1's "nap schedule" even at 2 months old. Stay at a friend's house past 8 pm?! I need to get home to put him to bed! Meet up for coffee at 10 am? Cannot do it. Child #3 is dragged all over town every day, bringing his brother to and from school, running errands, going to play dates, and you better believe Mommy would not think twice about meeting a friend for drinks and letting him sleep in her lap while she has a glass of wine in her hand. "Schedule" for him = sleep when you can sleep, kid. If that means your morning nap is on the living room floor at a play date, or in your car seat at the park, you might as well take it because that is as good as it is going to get.

Laundry: Child #1's clothes were all washed separately in Dreft. Child #3's clothes are thrown in with his siblings', Mom's and Dad's and it all gets washed in Costco brand detergent.

Bedroom: #1's room was all set up weeks before his arrival. Crib set up, complete with fancy $200 bed set (matching sheets, bumper, curtains, wall hangings, and diaper hanging thing we never used). #3 is over 2 months old. He is sleeping in his own room. The crib is set up and the walls are painted. And that is about it. There is no matching bed set. He is getting hand-me-down sheets. The curtain has not been hung up and the walls are bare of any decoration.

Journals, albums, and picture frames: I kept a detailed pregnancy journal for #1 and all of his ultrasound pictures are in an album, which we brought to a family picnic while pregnant. We forced all of our family members to swoon over those alien-like ultrasound pictures that really show nothing of what the child will look like. We also spent hundreds of dollars on a 4-D ultrasound (did not even know there was a 4th "D") and framed the color photo. It is still on my dresser. #3's ultrasound pics are.... somewhere in this house. There was no pregnancy journal. There was no money spent on any D ultrasound -- only the freebies from insurance!

Don't worry kid -- we love you to pieces. You are going to be a better kid this way -- less high maintenance and more understanding that sometimes things around here are... well, mediocre at best.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When the car is quiet...

This is going to be my most serious post to date. There will probably not be one joke. It is taking quite a bit of courage for me to write this and include my own confessions, but having had these experiences compels me to share them and to help my fellow mommy and daddy friends learn about this problem and how to avoid it.

Years ago I saw an Oprah episode that included an interview with a mother who had forgotten that her daughter was in the car. She drove to work and got out of her car, leaving her daughter there asleep in her seat. Her daughter tragically died that day. It was horrific. How on earth does that happen, I wondered. The mother explained that it occurs too often when there is a break in routine. She almost never drove her daughter to day care in the morning -- her husband always did -- but he had a dentist appointment that day so it was her job. Despite the fact that she had loaded her daughter into her seat minutes earlier, she quickly forgot about her and drove straight to work as was her normal routine. It was impossible for me (on that day) to imagine that this could ever happen. And it didn't happen with my first child. 

There was no "routine" to break with baby #1. I was a typical first time parent -- my every thought, every breath was consumed with my new son. I would never forget he was in the car, even when he was sound asleep, as my "routine" was to coexist with a baby, whether it was in the car, house, etc. 

Two years later I had forgotten about this Oprah episode and now found myself with a chatty 2-year old and a newborn. It had been 2 years since I had driven around with a sleepy baby in the car. One day I was out doing errands with only the baby and had left my toddler at home with Daddy. This was a break in my "routine" as my car was never quiet anymore. I came home and entered the house, leaving her asleep in the car. I FORGOT she was in the car. After about 20 seconds of chatting with my husband in the kitchen, he asked if I was going to get her. My heart dropped into my stomach. What if I had forgotten while we were at the store? Thank goodness -- no THANK GOD -- I didn't. And THANK GOD it was winter and she would not have baked in the heat. And THANK GOD my husband was home, not out somewhere with our son, or when would I have realized? I believe I would have remembered within seconds, but I will never know.

That day shook me to my core. I left her alone in the car for no more than 20 seconds, in our garage. The point was that I had forgotten she was in the car. I was so used to a 2-year old voice and a 2-year old face looking back at me through the rearview mirror that without him there, the car seemed empty. I vowed to never forget again and I believed at the time that I never would.

Now that little girl is a talkative 2-year old herself and my son is 4. I now have 2 faces looking back at me through the mirror and 2 voices chatting my ear off in the car. And we have another newborn. Last week I went to a doctor's appointment with him and left the big kids home with Grandpa. On the way there, I recalled this exact incident and said to myself, "Of course I won't forget. I am heading to the OB -- the doctor who delivered him, whose office is in the same building as the hospital where was born." But not a few minutes later, my mind was onto other things and by the time I pulled in the parking lot, I had forgotten. Again. I took about 5 steps away from my car before remembering he was still in it. I frantically looked around as I turned around to go back for him -- was anyone watching this horrible unfit mother who FORGOT her kid go back to retrieve him? I could not believe it had happened again.

Again, the whole incident was seconds long. And thankfully I remembered on my own. But it could have been so much worse. I truly thank God for both of these minor but also terrifying incidents. I believe they are both gifts sent down to teach me a valuable lesson. It truly can happen to anyone.

To the handful of parents who I know are reading this, especially if you are having your second or third child and are used to loud kids in the car, KNOW your routine. KNOW how tired you can get, how distracted your mind can become thinking of a 100 things. I have taken a pledge to myself and to my kids. EVERY TIME I am driving alone with the baby, I am going to put my purse in the back with him. I would never leave my car without my purse, so this will force me to look for it and remember he is back there. I have also heard the suggestion of keeping a teddy bear in the front seat to remind the driver. There are already teddy bears and dolls all over my car, so this probably would not help me much. But find something that works for you. 

I feel sick telling this story but I am also incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share. If that mother, who accidentally caused the death of her daughter had the courage to go on national television and tell her story in order to educate others, I can at least share mine. Summer is coming and it is 106 degrees for 3 straight months where I live. It takes only a couple of minutes for a baby to die from the heat inside a parked car in the summer. 

I pledge to never text and drive.
And I pledge to keep my purse in the back when I am alone with the baby in the car.
What do you pledge?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Fun Mommy" pledge: Day 1

If you read yesterday's post, you know of my pledge to be more fun with my kids. Today, on a dreary, rainy day, despite sleeping about 18 minutes last night, I decided to kick off Fun Mommy Day 1 by... making cookies! I checked the pantry and figured out that I did have all the ingredients for basic oatmeal raisin cookies (basic being the operative word because this momma is NOT a baker).

This endeavor fell somewhere between "not very successful" and "epic failure" due to a variety of factors:

1. My 6-week old son, who has been constipated for days, decided to start pooping again today-- like every 12 minutes all morning long (and cry through all of it).

2. My older 2 kids had no interest in helping bake. This is because:
--My son never has interest in helping with any kitchen activity (or really any activity non-Lego-related these days)
--My daughter wants to do everything my son does.

So, despite the lack of enthusiasm, I remained optimistic. That's okay! Mommy will start the process, they will want to jump in and help, and we will all have fun! The baby will cooperate and let me put him down and the cookies will be delicious! Or at least edible!

Wrong. On all accounts.

Cookies burned. Even my 4-year old, who will eat anything in cookie or muffin form, gnawed through half of one and finally said, "I will finish this later, mom." Batch #2 was not quite burned, but is still dry and tasteless.

Well, as our gal-pal Scarlet O'Hara once said, "Tomorrow is another day!"

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The curse of the un-fun parent

Last night while giving my older two kids their baths, my son started kicking and splashing water everywhere. I, of course, flipped out on him, as splashing and making a mess everywhere is not allowed! I permit a very controlled "splash" at the end of bath, as the water is draining, with the curtain closed. They know the rules. And there are a lot of them. Because I am not very fun.

As my voice escalated and my head snapped around in my typical disciplinary fashion, my 4-year old son asked, despondently, "Can we play with Daddy when he gets home?" (Daddy is, in fact, quite fun. He is the anti-mommy in our household.)

Lately, as I am adjusting to life with 3 kids (my youngest is 6 weeks old), I am realizing more and more just how little fun I have with my kids. My days are spent doing laundry, washing dishes, feeding baby, cooking for the rest of us, cleaning, doing more laundry... feeding baby again... etc. And my brain is consumed with: Did they all take their vitamins? Which day am I signed up to bring snack to school? Did I send in the check to register our son for soccer? When is their next pediatrician appointment? Did I remember to make the pediatrician appointment? And the dentist appointment? And the eye doctor appointment? Did we do enough academic activities today? Is anyone developmentally behind on anything? Is everyone hitting their milestones? Did I put lotion on our daughter's rash? When did he/she poop last? Did he/she have enough fruit? Too much cheese? Do I have anything for dinner?... etc...etc...

And all day long, the words out of my mouth are one of the following two phrases:
1. "No! Stop doing that."
2. "In a minute. I will get it for you / be right there after I ______ (fill in blank)."

I fear that my kids hear "no" and "wait a minute" from Mommy ALL DAY LONG.

This is why, when I asked my son to put his socks and shoes on the other day (and we were obviously running late for something) and he instead made sock puppets, I was angry rather than amused. And he was sad. He had been excited to show me something funny and clever and I snapped at him rather than laughed with him.

The look on my son's face in bath last night almost brought me to tears. Why can't I be more fun like Daddy? Because too often "fun" for my kids = more work for Mommy. Who cleans up the water all over the bathroom after the splashing? Mommy. And Mommy is already so busy and her head is so full of serious stuff that there does not seem to be room or time for a whole lot of fun.

Well with my husband's 3 week long work trip looming in the near future, I am reflecting on the life I am providing for my kids. I am vowing to myself and to them to be more fun. They deserve laughter and giggles and the right to make messes and with Daddy gone, Mommy needs to buck up and allow a little splashing now and then. Even if it makes more work. Someday far too soon they won't be here all day to make sock puppets and play pirate ship in the bathtub.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Be careful Mommy!

It took my 2-year old daughter about 4 seconds to notice and develop a fascination with how Mommy feeds her new baby brother. My 4-year old son, however, did not notice until the baby was about 5 days old. One evening, while I was nursing our son, his older brother's eyes widened and:

"Mom! What are you doing?"
"I am feeding your brother. This is how he eats. His milk is inside Mommy."
"You need to be careful or he is going to eat parts of your body."

All in a night's work

As of 2 weeks ago, we now have 3 kids. 

Last night was a typical example of our new life with a 4-year old who still has occasional accidents in his sleep, an overly dramatic 2-year old still working on her molars, and a newborn who is... well, a newborn.

Between 7:30-8:45: 2-year old daughter (who is experiencing a "transition period" -- to put it mildly) cries on and off for Mama. No amount of snuggling and/or song-singing will suffice during this time.

9:00: Newborn son projectile poops mid-diaper change. Poop is all over Mommy and changing table. Simultaneous to this, he pees straight upward, then angles back to drench his face, hair, and the other end of the changing table. Mommy and baby get clean clothes.

9:30: Post-feeding, newborn son pukes everywhere. Clean clothes again.

11:00: 2-year old daughter falls out of bed. She does not calm down for 30 minutes.

12:00: 4-year old son awakes from nightmare and pee accident.

12:30: newborn son awakes for midnight feeding.

4:00: 2-year old daughter is awake crying with molar pain.

4:30: newborn son is awake for another feeding.

Daddy very kindly takes over morning duties at 6 am so Mommy can sleep in a bit. While this is much appreciated, it also results in Mommy waking up to two wet circles on her shirt at 7:30 am. Good times.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The birth story

Child #3 entered the world this past week! Here is the birth story...

Likely due to the fact that #1 and #2 were quite large, my body (namely my pelvic region and bladder) were VERY tired by week 36 of this pregnancy and our little man dropped down loooooow with no hesitation. I had a great pregnancy up this point (oddly this was my easiest of the 3) but the world turned upside down at around this point and on several days I truly wondered how I was going to survive to 40 weeks (or 41 as the other two were late).

My tremendously supportive husband (who bears the brunt of my ire between weeks 36-40) started casually mentioning an induction... at week 37. I was induced with the other 2, so this was not a topic of contention, but getting induced early was. I had made it to my due date + about a week the other two times, and felt like I would be failing this child somehow if I did not let him cook until at least a full 40 weeks. However, I was miserable. Downright beastly. The pressure was often unbearable to the point where I could not stand for more than 5 minutes at a time. Yet I continued to fight and refuse to request an early induction (which my doctor had offered to do at 39 weeks).

Then a blizzard hit. 14 inches of snow debilitated our lives and we were completely snowed in for over 24 hours -- no one could get it and no one could get out. I was terrified of going into labor and having my husband deliver our baby on our living room floor. We joked about getting bowls of warm water and me ripping towels ala the 1800s, but we were scared. Phew. No baby during storm.

Then... another blizzard was on its way. Okay, I hear you, Lord. Between the unending discomfort, complete lack of sleep, and sad excuse for a mommy that I was to my other two children, plus ANOTHER 14 inches of snow that would likely prevent me from getting to the hospital should I go into labor, I acquiesced and scheduled an induction for 4 days prior to my due date. I would be at the hospital before the snow hit and the kids would be safely at home with the grandparents.

The guilt I had felt for ripping this guy from his happy womb-home before he was ready was very quickly replaced with relief. Relief for knowing that I would not be birthing him in our bathtub (more power to the home-birthers -- rock on with your bad selves -- but I would like a hospital bed with a side of epidural please) and relief for knowing that I would no longer be pregnant in just 24 short hours.

I rocked my baby girl to sleep the night before and shed a few tears as I processed that she would not be my baby anymore. I then slept about 8 minutes that night as my mind raced -- what would the next day be like? How would the other kids do?  Was this really happening TOMORROW?

And it did happen that very next day. I was induced in the morning -- received meds at about 9 am. I was already dilated to a 2 and my contractions began almost immediately -- yay! This will be quick. A few hours and... baby!?


Hours later: "You are at a 3."
More hours after that: "Okay, now a 4."
Contractions every 90 minutes: "Ummmm... you are between a 4 and a 5."

Are you SERIOUS?

At 6 o'clock, I was at a 5. I had not eaten anything but ice chips in 12 hours. The nurses brought my husband his THIRD meal since we arrived that morning. He tried so hard to eat quietly in the corner and talk about how horrible the hospital food was. But at one point, he came to the bedside to hold my hand and coach me through a particularly difficult contraction and I smelled candy on his breath.

"Did you just eat CANDY???!!"
"No...." with a look of terror.

Okay, I had one more check -- if I had not progressed, they were moving on to Pitocin. But I was at a 6! Some progression!

And then all hell broke loose. It is a blur, and it seemed like hours, but my husband said in a matter of about 30 minutes, I went from a 6 to a 10. I was screaming. And writhing. And yelling about the epidural no longer working (which was what I requested -- I asked them to reduce it toward the end so I could feel the pressure to push -- but oh did I curse myself for that decision). Suddenly it was time. 3-4 pushes and our son was born.

At a healthy 9 lbs and 22 inches long, my doctor commented that thank goodness I was induced when I was or he may have been 10 lbs by the following week. Holy crap. You are welcome, pelvis.

And it was done. He was here and he was perfect and he and I were healthy.

And I was almost immediately sad. Was it really over? What a bizarrely emotional experience pregnancy and labor are. I had prayed for the end for weeks, and within hours, I wanted to turn back time, go back, and freeze myself in that place. It is partly selfish -- because now I have to share him with the world whereas before, he was all mine. It is partly sadness at knowing this is our last (4 kids is waaaaay too many kids for me!) And, let's be honest, it is partly complete irrational hormonal response. But I was, and am sad.  As he sits next to me post-feeding, at 5 days old, I am thankful and sad. A week ago I was huge, cranky, frustrated, exhausted, and nervous. Now we are home, and the ice-diapers are over and the scary early milk days are here. I am exhausted in a whole new way, but also proud, in love, and figuring out how to be mommy to 3 little people under the age of 5.

The world looks different these days. I am living in the land of 3:30 am TV -- Three's Company or Mork & Mindy? Hmmmm how do I decide? If I thought getting a shower was a rarity before... ha! And pretty much every time either child or my husband walks in the room, I have a boob out. I field endless questions from the little people all day long -- the most recent fascination is the breast pump -- you can imagine my 4-year old son's reaction to THAT contraption! And my husband has been amazing as we play "rotate the kid" dealing with diapers, feedings, wipings, bathings, and quality play time. So far it is crazy and stressful and tiring. And wonderful.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

38 weeks pregnant - new definitions of Mommyhood

At 38 weeks pregnant with my 3rd child (who will probably be over 9 lbs like his siblings and who recently dropped on top of my bladder and "pelvic region" with great gusto), I have redefined some Mommyhood terminology.

"The house is clean" = there is a clear and safe path for walking through rooms.

"Dinner is made" = there is PB&J and/or bread and cheese in the house.

"The kids are clean" = they sat in soapy water for 10 minutes and splashed all over the bathroom.

"The laundry is done" = we all have something to wear. For today.

"The kitchen is clean" = we all have a plate, cup, and fork to use. For today.

"The kids did something educational today" = they learned 3 new Spanish words from Dora the Explorer.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

36-week "baby doctor" appointment... with kids

Most aspects of life are adventurous when you add a 2 and a 4-year old into the mix. Taking them to the OBGYN while pregnant, however, is extra special.

My kids are fascinated with the concept of me peeing in a cup. My 4-year old son had 400 questions. Why do they want my pee? What do they do with it? How do they test it? Why pee and not poop? My 2-year old daughter wants to do everything Mommy does, so of course she took a cup off of the shelf in the bathroom and wanted to pee in her own cup. She was very upset when I said no. There is also a black permanent marker in the bathroom with which Mommy needs to write her name on the cup. This, too, is amazing. Can I write MY name on a cup? Can I write your name for you? And finally, this experience is made most enjoyable by my son who is obsessed with reading everything to me that he sees anywhere in the world. So of course while I am peeing in a cup and trying to calmly explain to my irrational 2-year old why she cannot, he is reading the step-by-step instructions to me posted on the wall for "how to collect a clean urine sample."

And my first internal exam was next.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Pregnancy... uncensored.

It is a miracle. It is a joyous experience. Birthing my 2 (soon to be 3) kids = my life's greatest achievements. However, there are many aspects to pregnancy and birth that no one talks about.
So I will.

1. Most of your maternity clothes will stop fitting comfortably around week 32. There are just no clothing manufacturers that can really figure out how to keep our pants up comfortably after this point.

2. You will stop looking at yourself in the mirror at around week 30. However, you will accidentally pass in front of a mirror at some point around week 32 and notice that your shirt does not cover your stomach. This will happen in a public bathroom. You will be away from home for the day and will not have another shirt with you.

3. No grown up in your life will have had the courage to tell you about #3 because they are all scared of you. Your kids would have told you if they had noticed.

4. Speaking of your other kids, they WILL tell you how it is. Your 4-year old will catch sight of your protruding stomach while you are getting dressed one day and say, "Whoa, Mom. Cover that up."

5. You will experience an exhaustion like never before, but somehow, you will have insomnia. You will lay awake at 2 a.m. having to pee (even though you will have peed twice in the last 20 minutes) wishing for sleep.

6. After 30 weeks, you will pee your pants a tiny bit if you sneeze.

7. You will get nosebleeds at unfortunate times -- like while you are getting your son ready for school. Therefore, you will drive him to school with tissues stuck up your nose. Your 2-year old will point at your face and say, "Boo-boos in Mama's nose?"

8. The bigger you get, the more people will tell you how "great" you look and how "small" you are. These people are lying because they are afraid of you.

9. You will hold on to your gym membership, despite the fact that you only walk at a 2.5 pace for 30 minutes on the treadmill, so you can have a place to put your kids. The gym employees clearly will not want you there anymore and will look at your stomach with horror when you walk in.

10. At some point in the last 6 weeks, you will abandon any and all attempts at normal "maintenance" like painting your toenails and shaving because these tasks are too painful and you cannot see what you are doing anymore. And really, what is the point?

11. You will feel an extreme loathing for your husband followed immediately by love and appreciation for him all within 90 seconds. He will start spending time in other rooms to protect himself from your wrath.

12. You will be pregnant for a really long time. 40 weeks is as close to an eternity as you can get, but it does end. Eventually.

Stay tuned for the 12 truths no one tells you about birth. Except me.