Wednesday, November 19, 2014

To the Allergy Moms

I have a confession. I have judged (silently and not-so-silently) other moms. And one group that I am particularly ashamed to say I have judged are the allergy moms. You know these moms: their kids are allergic to normal stuff. (Sometimes it is scary, like peanuts. I don't judge those moms -- that peanut allergy thing is terrifying). But the "my kid is allergic to wheat" mom, or the "my kid is gluten-free" mom, or the "my kid is allergic to raspberries" mom... I have often found myself wondering if you were a bit hyper about your kid and maybe he's really fine? Until now.

Because karma has come along and given me a big ol' bite on the booty. My adorably fat, dimple-faced 1-year old is allergic... to lots of stuff. He has broken out in terrifying hives, his face has blown up, and his eyes have swollen shut in reaction to: wiping his face with a paper towel, feeding him foods with cow's milk, feeding him raspberries, blackberries, pasta sauce, Goldfish crackers... the list goes on. And he is allergic to grass. If he plays in the grass, he breaks out in horrible welts and spikes a fever. And all of these reactions usually spawn eczema patches that he scratches relentlessly. So now I am "that" mom, asking what ingredients are in foods, putting my kid in pants when it is 102 degrees outside, having Benadryl in my car at all times.

I never thought I would be an allergy mom. We try to eat healthy, but I'll be honest. A year ago, I was NOT on the non-processed food bandwagon. I have eaten either Cheezits or Doritos or one of their first cousins every single day of my life as far as I know. I love my coffee creamer. My kids eat (gasp!) fruit snacks. (And not organic ones. They eat the Ninja Turtle and Hello Kitty ones.) But we do eat lots of fruits and veggies and healthy proteins, I promise. I don't totally suck at feeding my kids good stuff. I make my own mac-and-cheese and my own chicken nuggets (to which my kids adoringly respond by saying, "Did you make the yummy kind out of the box or that other kind? And I respond, "No, I did not make the kind out of the box that takes 5 minutes. I made the homemade kind that takes 45 minutes of Mommy's time. But thanks for the love, kids.")

But now I am an allergy mom. And I am coming at you, fellow allergy moms, with my tail between my legs, and I am saying that I am so sorry. I had no idea. I had no idea how sick your kids could get if they ate stuff they aren't supposed to. I also had no idea how much extra work you put in to keeping them healthy.

So, I am asking you, non-allergy moms, who may be inclined to judge unfairly (as I did), to think first. Think about how easy it would be for that mom to give her kid the pasta or sandwich or orange or pizza or whatever normal food it is that he can't have. And guess what else? She probably has other kids who CAN have that stuff. So she has to either say no to all of her kids or, as is the case in my house (since my son cannot tolerate dairy), he has to watch while the other kids have something he can't. And he's 1. So he's totally rational and understanding and easy to communicate with. Or the big kids have to eat in another room or at another time. Or Mommy breaks and lets him have the thing he isn't supposed to have because he is soooo upset, and then we all deal with the effects: hives, eczema flare-ups, and/or vomit.

Fellow allergy moms, I'm so sorry. Can I still get in your circle? I'll bring some dairy-free dip and homemade oatmeal bars.

And hey, 3rd kid! You're supposed to be the low-maintenance one. WTF?


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Boys and guns

You know that moment when you look over and notice that your 5-year old son has drawn a picture of a monster holding 2 guns along with an army of "minions", also ready to shoot at any enemy in their path... and you are in CHURCH? And that he drew this masterpiece in the coloring book from one of the children's bags that belongs to CHURCH?

I have blogged several times about my fears and struggles with raising a girl in this princess-centered body-image warped world. But I also have 2 boys. Yikes! And I am constantly at war (pun intended) within myself with the whole boys-love-guns thing. I don't love guns. I don't even like them. At all. And I don't have a brother, so I did not grow up with "Hi-Ya! Pow! Pow!" screaming through the rooms of my house. But I live in that world now. For being quite a book nerd and computer lover, my kindergartener is a boy. And he is fascinated with guns, violence, swords, enemies, good guys, bad guys... the whole gamut. Usually my husband handles it better than I do. He grew up playing Mortal Combat and did not turn into an adult who beheads others, so chances are, if we are the best parents we can be, and instill proper morals and values in our boys, they will also grow up to be properly functioning adults. However, for all the times he tells me "not to worry about it" when my son attempts to chop down Darth Vader in his Wii game, even Daddy found it disturbing that our little guy drew this lovely image in the church's coloring book. I think his words were: "Ummm.... buddy? Not okay in church."

We do believe in the importance of discussing violence with our kids. We are proud of our soldiers and thankful for their service. We know that violence has served a purpose and will continue to serve a purpose in many corners of our world and in many circumstances. We also teach our kids to stick up for themselves. We do not want them initiating violence, but if someone pushes them down, or pushes one of their siblings down, we give them free reign to open up a can of their best whoop-ass on that kid. We also talk about guns. We talk about how guns kill people and are not funny. This is hard as many of my son's idols (Luke Skywalker, Han Solo) use guns. "But it is okay, because they are good guys, right Mommy?" Ummmm.... ???? Are guns okay? Sometimes.... I guess??

So for all of the battles I fight for my daughter, I fight twice as many for my 2 boys. Guns scare me. Violence scares me. Teenage boys shooting up classmates in the school cafeteria scare me. But, like my daughter's love for princesses, I guess there is a certain love for guns that I have to accept in my household.

But I think next Sunday morning we may just stick to the crossword puzzles, okay little guy?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Out of buckets

In many MANY ways, I was unprepared for parenthood. Oh sure, I knew good sleep was over. (I miss being able to take Nyquil when I am sick.) I knew happy hour was going to become very rare. And I knew my marathon gym afternoons would turn into quick when-I-have-time workouts.

But for all the stuff I thought I knew, there are 10 times as many aspects of parenthood that have thrown me curveballs throughout the past 6 years. (Holy crap. I have been a parent for 6 YEARS?!)

One thing that I did not know, but I know now: little girls collect little things. All things small and/or pink and/or glittery are coveted by little girls. Tiny seashells, miniature stamps, erasers, little shoes for little dolls, hair bows of various sizes, plastic rings, little tiny stones that fall out of plastic rings but must be saved because they're sooooo pretty, tiny purses and hats for the mommy who lives in the dollhouse (I wish I had that many purses and hats), and stickers... oh so many stickers. 

I used to painstakingly file all the tiny things away in specific buckets:

dollhouse items in the red bucket
kitchen food and utensils in the blue bucket
arts and craft supplies in the yellow bucket
jewelry in the pink bucket


But I ran out of buckets. And sanity. Cleaning her room today, I found, on her floor: a nailpolish, 2 necklaces, 5 crayons, a plastic tomato, 4 legos, and a rock. I put them all in one bucket (the green one), turned her light out, and left the room.

Moms: help a girlfriend out. If your friend is having a girl, please, warn her of the tiny things. Tell her the truth. Tell her that at some point, (in my case it was around year 3), she will give up and start throwing all of it into any bucket or bag in the room. (She need not worry -- her daughter will have 17 bags and backpacks and purses for carrying the tiny things). Sorting and organization will eventually serve no purpose. Play food will live alongside Elsa dolls and bracelets will be thrown together with seashells. 

Tell them, because that is the gloriously pink and glittered life of living with a 3-year old girl.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My favorite person

I have a friend about to have a baby. AT HOME. Like, in a pool. I sort of think she is a crazy person.

Me: Hospital. Drugs. Tubes. More drugs. 87 people traipsing in and out of my room every 11 minutes.

Her: Pool. No drugs. Midwife. Husband. That's it.


She and I obviously have a complete opposite mindset about birthing. Her favorite person through her birthing experience is probably her patient, soothing midwife who gives her the confidence and strength to make it to the finish line. Or maybe her husband is her favorite (or at least a close second). My favorite person during labor and delivery? Yes, I adore my nurses, and yes, my husband is an excellent coach. I also greatly appreciate my OB who usually appears for the last few minutes and endures my screaming and thrashing about. But my FAVORITE person is the epidural fairy. LOVE me some epidurals.

So yes, there is a huge range of "birth plans" women can choose or attempt to choose because sometimes things don't go as planned. So when I heard about her pool party birth, I think my reaction was something like "Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat??" And although I felt confusion about her choice and I worried for her, do you know what I also felt?

Proud of her. For doing HER thing HER way with HER body and HER baby.

Know who else I am proud of?

Myself. For doing MY thing MY way with MY body and MY baby.

And to the mom pushed into an unexpected c-section: I am proud of you and I admire you. That must have been scary, but you did it.

To the mom with the planned c-section? I applaud you for doing what YOU think is best.

To the mom who had a VBAC: I applaud you for doing what YOU think is best.

To the mom who labored at home until the last minute and pushed that baby out with 4 minutes to spare at the hospital: Holy crap, I admire you. I hope you are proud of yourself. You are incredible.

To the mom who could not conceive naturally and used fertility treatments: I admire your courage.

To the mom who could not have children and chose to adopt: I admire your strength. I am in awe of you.

To the mom who CAN have children and still chose to adopt: Thank you. You are truly amazing.

To the mom with 1 kid: You are doing an awesome job.

To the mom with 4 kids under 5: You are an inspiration. Have an extra glass of wine tonight.

To the newly pregnant first-time mom: You got this. Your body will know what to do.

To the post-partum mom who still looks pregnant: You look beautiful when you are staring at that little baby.

And to my friend about to birth a baby in a pool in her living room: You are an incredible mama!

To the epidural fairy: I love you.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A rant from an angry Christian liberal

By chance, I live in a very conservative, Christian state in the Midwest. I am a Christian, but I am not too conservative. I am what many call a "Christian liberal." (I can sense the eye rolls from some of you already.) Being more liberally-minded, while also a Christian, I am often caught between two worlds. I believe in a few basic tenets that I strive to impart unto my children: Jesus loved us. Jesus died for us. We should try really really hard to be like Jesus as best we can. For my kids (5 and under), that pretty much sums up our Christian philosophy. However, it is not this simple, and we do have to navigate through some choppy waters with our kids.

Last week, my 3-year old daughter asked, "Can girls marry girls and boys marry boys?" I paused for about 3 seconds... and then said, "Yes. People can marry any person they love." She seemed very content with my answer, even running to tell her older brother: "Girls can marry girls and boys can marry boys!" to which he responded, "Ok, cool" and returned to his Legos.

For us, the homosexuality debate within a Christian household, a Christian culture, is a personal issue. I don't feel overly inspired to argue my points into the ground. For those of who think homosexuality is a sin and feel that gay people should not be allowed to marry, I disagree with you. However, if you support your beliefs with biblical text and / or you appear to be a remotely kind, loving human being who just feels differently than I do, I don't disrespect you. I am saddened by this mindset because I do believe it discriminates against men and women who live and work alongside us, but I do actually see your side. I just don't agree. It is pretty black and white.

There was another conservative Christian argument I heard the other day, however, that I do not respect. I am fired up. I am ready to voice my very frustrated and frankly bewildered response. I was experiencing the very rare opportunity of driving alone in my car -- no kids -- while doing errands. Flipping through the radio, I heard a pastor preaching, and for some reason, felt compelled to stop and listen. I actually do listen to conservative Christian radio on occasion, mostly to really try to hear the other side. I want to educate myself and feel strong in my convictions about what I believe and what philosophies I am passing on to my children. So sometimes I do stop and listen to pastors who, I know, are going to ruffle my feathers and make blanket statements about Christianity that I think are flat wrong. But it is good to listen anyway.

This well-known pastor was from California, and started with his "homosexuality is a sin and is going to cause the demise of the human race" speech, which really did not present any new thoughts or ideas I had not heard before. But it was his next sermon that floored me. He asserted that women, if truly Christian and following the teachings of the Bible, should marry, obey their husbands, and stay in the home tending to their children. That is all they should do. That is all they were meant to do.

Well, as a woman, and a Christian, a CHRISTIAN WOMAN, who IS married AND a stay-at-home mom by choice, I felt a long list of emotions hearing this. First, I was offended at the value he was placing on all women. Nothing gets my face redder than hearing that women should "obey" their husbands. My husband I have a mutual level of respect, admiration, tolerance, patience, and support for each other. I don't "obey" him anymore than he "obeys" me because, frankly, we are not children. Or puppies. Also, the idea that ALL women should serve in this role and only this role is not only oppressive, but it honestly does not make any sense. So, Pastor, I have some response questions for you.

In your ideal "biblical" world, where NO women work outside of the home, how does society function? I don't have to guess -- I am pretty confident that you believe there should be no female police officers, doctors, lawyers, construction workers, soldiers, etc., so I will skip that debate. But, in your utopia, are there only men ringing up our groceries? Are there only male nurses caring for our children? Or the mothers bearing the children? Are there only male teachers? Are there only men working in offices or banks, managing crucial paperwork and transactions? I am honestly baffled by this concept. How does your visionary society function? Everywhere I go, there are women. Important women. Working.

And then the momma bear -- mother of a daughter -- comes raging out. You are passionately telling girls that their ONLY option, if they are true to Christ, is to get married, have babies, and not work. That girl who wants to be a nurse and care for sick babies. That girl who wants to teach, to inspire, to reach out and save the child ready to give up on life by giving him a book, touching his shoulder, and telling him he is worth something. That girl who wants to start a non-profit organization that will bring clean water and medicine to families -- CHRISTIAN families around the world. No, you are saying to them. You aren't meant for that. Our world does not need women doing wasteful non-Christlike things like saving people, teaching people, helping people. Heavens, no. Jesus would NOT approve of that work.

I try to see your perspective. Has having my children brought me closer to God? Yes. It is a miracle. All three of them are miracles, gifts from God, for which I am grateful. And I am thankful that I was granted the choice of whether to work or stay home with them. And I believe I made the right choice for my family. But there are devout, good Christian mothers who work and there are abusive, cruel mothers who don't. I ask you to simply look around your world as you walk through each day and notice all of the women in every building you enter, on every street you pass by, in every facet of our society. Excuse the cliche, Pastor, but women -- mothers -- CHRISTIAN wives and mothers -- are making the world go round.

Being a stay at home mom does not define how "good" of a Christian a woman is. Just as being a Christian does not define how "good" of a mother a woman is. Honestly, Pastor, when I hear these impassioned sermons, I have a hard time with the fact that we claim to follow the same Jesus.

My God loves my daughter and he sent Jesus down her for her. And when she is grown, if she works as an attorney like her daddy, he will love her. But if she quits the workforce and stays home with her kids, he will love her. And no sermon of yours is going to take that choice away from her.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Which mom are you at drop-off?

Now that I am several years into being a "school mom," I have observed that there are several categories (and subcategories) of moms who drop their kids off at school.

Category 1: The Working Mom

I envy her but I don't envy her. I envy how put together she looks in her Ann Taylor clothes. I envy that her hair is actually blow-dried. I don't envy that I know she has been up since 4:30 am. And not like I have often been "up" since 4:30 am, with a screaming teething baby, half asleep in the rocking chair with baby snoozing on my chest, a small spittle of drool dripping down my chin. I mean that mom has been UP since 4:30. Running around, getting herself ready, her kids ready, hopefully not also her husband ready. But she looks amazing and I... do not.

Categories 2 and 3 require, in my opinion, subcategories.

Category 2(a): The Gym Mom

This mom clearly goes directly to the gym after drop-off. EVERY SINGLE DAY. How do I know this? Because she is dressed in $85 Lululemon pants and matching work-out tank (also made of some sort of fancy lycra... something). Also, she is in phenomenal shape. She rocks those Lululemons and with good reason.

Although I have often dropped my kids off in work-out attire, I am in no position to join category 2(a). Hence, the need for category 2(b).

Category 2(b): The Other "Gym" Mom

This mom is making an effort. She is wearing her work-out clothes because she knows that the chances are greater that she WILL actually work out today if she starts the day dressed for exercise. However, she wears cotton running shorts that she has had since college. She graduated 12 years ago. She also wears a cotton top of some sort. It may be an old tank top from Walmart. It is likely stained. It may be the t-shirt she received as an "award" for running that 5k... that time. She does not own anything with a Lululemon label, nor can she pronounce that word. Mostly this is because she cannot justify buying new gym clothes. Her half-assed work out attempts 1) have not earned her a spandex-conducive backside and 2) she would rather spend that money on a big steak and bottle of wine at a kid-free restaurant with her hubs or girlfriends. But, she knows the importance of exercise, wants to exercise, and often(ish) DOES exercise. So bleached cotton running shorts circa 1998 it is.

Category 3(a): The Stay-at-Home-Mom Who Truly Cares What She Looks Like. For Real.

This mom, like the working mom, does her hair in the morning and wears jewelry and pretty scarves. Her jeans do not have holes in the knees. She must be going somewhere amazing after drop-off. No way is she going back home to scrub toilets with Kelly and Michael on in the background. Also, she is carrying Starbucks. She had time (after getting herself ready) to get Starbucks on the way to school. On the off chance that she did not have time to get it, she is going there next and then will continue on to other very cool places. I am this mom on average 1-2 times per month. I do enjoy being this mom. My children look at me aghast at how put together I am. The other day (when I was this mom), I was putting mascara on. My children were terrified and worried that I was going to pull my eyelids off. This is the effect of having a mommy who does not wear makeup.

Category 3(b): The Stay-at-Home-Mom Who Cares What She Looks Like the Bare Minimum Amount

This mom's goal is to not embarrass her children at drop off. 50% of the time she is showered. 100% of the time her hair is in a ponytail. 0% of the time she is wearing makeup. 30% of the time she is wearing the exact same outfit as she did yesterday because it did not get that dirty, it fits, and it was draped over the side of the pack and play in her bedroom. I am this mom the other 29 days of the month.

Category 3(c). The Stay-at-Home-Mom who DOES NOT GIVE A SHIT. And Owns It.

I am partly sad for her, partly scared of her, and partly very envious of her. She probably IS going home to scrub toilets with Kelly and Michael and knows it.

Whatever mom you are, I hope you are comfortable in your skin. I cannot speak for all of the moms out there, but I can say that the moms I see at drop-off truly love their kids. All of them. And their kids get smooches (despite Mommy's coffee breath) and hugs and love their mommies right back. And that's a good thing.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Mommy, I want to be a princess." Vomit.

When she was two, she wasn't yet entrenched into the princess world. And I naively thought, "my daughter really does not dig the whole princess thing." And I sighed with relief. Then she turned three. And like flipping on a switch, suddenly, princess world arrived in this house, and we were instantly schooled on Ariel, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Aurora... etc. Then Frozen happened.

I am not a tomboy by any means. I am pretty girly myself, so dresses and pink and tutus and glitter don't bother me. What bothers me is my daughter having a princess as her role model. I have asked adults, men and women, when they hear the word "princess", what comes to mind?


Nobody says "smart" or "capable" or "independent" or "strong." These are the things I want her to be. I also want her to feel beautiful, because every girl wants to feel beautiful. Growing up, I wasn't always beautiful. I had my cute moments and landed quite a good looking husband, but there were years in there that were not good. I've seen pictures. I rocked a fantastic mullet in 2nd grade. Not sure where my mother was going with that one.

However. The one thing I ALWAYS felt and ALWAYS believed about myself was that I was SMART. So now I have a little girl and thankfully, although she loves her princesses, she also loves Doc McStuffins (thank you Disney for that one!) But no matter how hard we push the importance of her intelligence and strength and courage, she comes prancing down the stairs every morning in a dress, does a twirl, and looks up at us with eager eyes, waiting to hear how beautiful she is. And we tell her because -- well, she IS beautiful -- and it makes her happy and feel good about herself. But we also tell her that she is smart and that she can do ANYTHING she wants to do.

So I will give kudos to Disney for its Frozen princesses. (If you are one of the 6 people left in the world who has not seen this movie, the "act of true love" that saves the princess is finally NOT a kiss from a valiant prince. The princess sisters, themselves, are pretty bad-ass tough girls and show their own strength by saving each other.) But, Disney, as a mother of a very impressionable 3-year old little girl, I still think you could have done better. Because guess who my daughter's favorite is? Elsa. And guess what her favorite Elsa scene is? Of course, the "Let It Go" scene where you successfully transformed demure Elsa into sexy hot Elsa. She starts in a conservative, yet beautiful dress and ends the song thrusting her hips from side to side with a slit almost up to her hoo-ha. Because that's what girls living alone in ice castles wear, apparently.

So here I am, fighting the good fight -- trying to instill confidence and self-worth into my little girl. She is amazing. She is brilliant and articulate and opinionated and holds her own quite well against two brothers. But she is a princess through and through. Who will she be for Halloween? Not Elsa with the hip-thrusting, you can be damn sure of that.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Packing the lunchbox

On the eve of my first born baby boy starting kindergarten...

This day seemed light years away for so long, and now it is here. The emotional roller coaster has had me on a high: my little boy is confident, ready, brilliantly inquisitive, and just a fun kid to hang out with. And a low: But he's my baby boy. And the world is taking him away from me. Tonight, as I navigate through the fog of nervousness, sadness, and joy, at a mere 10 hours away from kissing him goodbye at the kindergarten door, I am reminded of a night 14 years ago.

It was early October and I was 20 years old. I was leaving the following morning for a year abroad to study in England. I had never been out of the country before; this was the first time I had held a passport. I had never gone more than a few weeks without seeing my parents, having attended college only 90 minutes from home. But the following day I was getting on a plane, all by myself, and flying to Europe. I am reminded of this night because I clearly remember my mother packing my suitcases for me. Here I was, a junior in college, heading off to live in another country for 10 months, and my mom was packing my bags. But somehow it was right. I know now, why she did it. Why she needed to do it. I was thinking of this tonight, as I packed my little man's lunchbox and made sure his backpack was all set and ready to go. I had originally thought, "Okay, Mommy. Let's start on the right foot with responsibility! He should take care of his own things and help pack his own lunch!" But for some reason (I know the reason) I waited until he was asleep and I did it all for him. Because I am Mommy and I am having a hard time letting go. And whatever I need to do to hold on a little bit longer, well damn-it, I am going to.

I think about my mom that night in October. Her baby girl (all grown up, but still a kid at the same time) was leaving on a plane the next day without her. For the next year, that mother was not going to be able to run some chicken soup up to her daughter when she was sick. Or bring her home for the weekend for a properly cooked meal and some laundry assistance. Or just see her in person, and give her a hug, to make sure she was ok. Phone calls and emails were going to have to do for a long time. And I think that packing her daughter's bags let her be Mommy one more time before saying goodbye.

I am only in phase 1 of letting go: first kid off to kindergarten. (2 more to go.) I am so full of pride for my son and I know that it is time and that he is ready. One hand wants to hold on tight for just a little bit longer and the other wants to nudge him along and send him to fly. As I get my first glimpse into this heart-wrenching piece of motherhood, tonight, I say to my mom: Thank you for packing my suitcase. And thank you for letting me go.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The F-Word

If anything will break you of your type-A perfectionism control freak issues, it is parenthood. Because, inevitably, something will not go your way, or *gasp!* you will fail at something. For example, we are a bunch of annoying over-achievers in this household. My eldest son was reading at 2 1/2. TWO AND A HALF. My daughter is incredibly articulate and uses words like "improvise" and "sarcastic" properly in sentences. And what we aren't quite as good at, we work our tails off and we get better.

But then there is potty-training. And we SUCK at this. All of us. Me, them. Them, me. My first born took a year and a half to get there. Lots of failures all around. (And lots of drowning my tears in wine at night). I assumed that part of the problem was me starting too early with him. My daughter, however, was a completely different child: very focused, not easily distracted, mature. So I foolishly also started training her at 2 1/2. That was well over a year ago. And guess what? Mommy's a-drinkin'. My child still needs to change her underpants several times a day. She turned 3 1/2 two months ago. She is going to preschool in one month.

Mommy fail. TWICE.

Mommy DOES NOT FAIL. This has been a tremendous source of frustration, despair, and disappointment for me. We are the Johnsons! We kick ass at stuff! We do not accept failure well. We don't get sent home by the preschool in wet clothes because we "aren't quite ready." But here we are, pulling up the rear on the potty-training wagon. Again.

And trust me, I am not trying some new fangled potty-training method written by monks or something. I am using the same old, regular methods everyone else uses. I actually had a dad say to me recently (as I was lamenting my failures to his wife), "You know, we had to teach our kids how to do it. We had to put them on the potty so they learned." I almost punched him in the face. Are you kidding me?! Do you not think I tried that? A YEAR AGO??!!

And I still have kid #3 to train. However, I plan on having him skip preschool and get trained at 4 1/2 so he's ready for kindergarten.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Empty Sink Mystery

There is a phenomenon that I have seen evident in other mommies' homes: the empty sink. This does not exist in my house. EVER. At least not for more than 3 consecutive minutes. Why is this impossible? Because the dishes in the dishwasher are always clean, waiting to be put away. Always. (Well it seems that way.)

I have attended events -- either during the day with the kids or in the evening with just us moms -- at friends' houses. And the mommy hosting has usually cooked, baked, or at least prepared some snacks. Often, her counters are clean and her sink is empty. Not one dish. How in the...? This takes great skill and timing. A mommy who is hosting an event and making food must have her dishwasher empty, or at least semi-empty to allow space for the dirty dishes used in food prep. This means... turn back the clock.. that the previous load of dishes needed to have been run and emptied in enough time to load the new dirty dishes before company arrives. This means... keep turning back clock... that the morning load of dishes (which was dirty when Mom woke up because she could not wait to plop down onto the couch last night with her glass of wine after bedtime and she forgot to run it) needed to be run and emptied in time to do the mid-day load...

Laundry is the same way in my house. Please tell me that everyone else's husband and children live out of laundry baskets of folded clothes. They are constantly asking:
"Where is my pink skirt?" (daughter)
"Where is my Ironman sweatshirt?" (son)
"Where are ANY of my underwear? " (husband)

My answer: "Clean. Folded. Basket. Not the one at the top of the stairs. The one farther down the hall. No? It wasn't in there? Okay... try the one on the couch. Downstairs."

If your family does NOT live out of folded clothes baskets and the clothes actually make their way back into closets and drawers, please tell me how this works. Also, you are probably a person with an empty dishwasher. How?

Anatomy lessons with a 1-year old boy

Our pediatrician asked if we were working on identifying body parts with our 1-year old son. Here is how it goes in bath:

"Where is... your foot? No, that's your penis."

"Where is... your nose? No, that's your penis."

"Where is...  your tummy? Nope. Also your penis."


"Where is your penis? Yes, that's right."

Will try again tomorrow.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Summer camps: What the bleep??!!

I am often reminded about the many luxuries 21st century moms have that make our lives easier than the lives of our mothers and grandmothers. Like, for instance, my mother did not have a baby monitor -- not even one with JUST sound. A video monitor?! Not even fathomable. Also, and this one floors me, she did not have the luxury of baby wipes! What on earth did she use to wipe our butts? (Never mind our hands, faces, arms, church clothes, spills in the car...) I sort of don't want to know what she used / how she wiped our butts though, so let's move on.

Despite the fact that mommies of today have mini-vans with back-up cameras and doors that open automatically, what's inside those vans proves my next point. Although mommies of today have it a lot easier, things are a hell of a lot more complicated for us as well. Check out our car seats! They weigh 30 lbs, require a 2 hour training course on installation, and our kids need to be in them pretty much until they are in the driver's seat themselves. Compared to the 1980s... you know the scene: rolling around in the "way back" of the station wagon. Not buckled. Certainly NOT in a car seat unless you were a baby. Or you were in the front seat, where you were allowed to fiddle with the radio. (MAYBE your car had a cassette player. Fancy!)

Lives of mommies of decades past were harder, but they were also simpler. This has never been more apparent to me than in the past week as I finally began the arduous process of deciding on summer camps. Holy crap! People! Seriously with the summer camps??!!

Growing up, we went to summer camp. It was free. It was called: Go outside and play. Come back when hungry. Full? Good. Go back outside and play. And repeat.

Now don't get me wrong, as a mom, I am a fan of the summer camp. The idea of having a place to park my kids for a few hours every day for a week... sounds marvelous. So let's do this. I start with my town's Parks and Recreation camp catalogue. I am instantly overwhelmed. There are, of course, baseball camps, soccer camps, arts and crafts camps, and even the dreaded dodgeball camp. However, did you know that there are also camps like these?

Fencing Camp (like, the sport of fencing)
Tree Climbing Camp
Jedi Stunt Training Camp
Frozen Princess Camp
Taylor Swift Music Camp
Video Game Camp
Fiesta! Camp (a.k.a. foreign language camp)

I mean, are you kidding??!! Tree climbing CAMP?! 

Also, as I quickly learned, there are camps through my town's Parks and Rec department. There are also camps available to me through the neighboring 5 towns' Parks and Rec departments. And finally, and this is the fattest catalogue of them all, our entire county has its OWN Parks and Rec camps. And those are JUST those run through all of the Parks and Rec departments! It seems there are also 2,523 privately run camps within a 30 mile radius of my house.

I spent more time than I will admit agonizing over which camp to put my children in. My 5-year old son is ready for a camp, but my 3-year old daughter -- let's be honest -- is only doing one because her brother and friends are. When my son was 3, we never considered camp because he was our oldest, only 3, and still peeing his pants pretty regularly. Well now she is 3... and is also still peeing HER pants pretty regularly.  Nevertheless, summer camp, here we come! 

As I nostalgically think of my simple, happy, carefree childhood, I like to think of what summer camps for girls would have looked like in the 80s. Here is my list:

Jem and the MisFits Camp
Rainbow Bright Camp
Punky Brewster Camp
Proper French-rolling of Pants Camp
Hair Crimping Camp
Cabbage Patch Dolls Camp
Hungry Hungry Hippos Camp

I would have kicked ass at French-rolling of Pants Camp.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Hoping to get noticed by Huffington Post...

I recently read a hilarious article from Huff Post entitled "How to Put a Toddler to Bed in 100 Easy Steps." (See link below.) Tonight I find myself inspired to rip off this piece and create my own "How to put a 3-year old little girl to bed... in as many steps as it takes before you actually carry your beer into her room with you as you meet her demands."

Step 1: Help her brush her teeth. Because she insists on bring a "friend" (stuffed animal and/or doll) with her to every room to do anything and everything, her turtle (affectionately and adorably called "Pokey") falls into the tooth-paste covered sink.

Step 2: Wash Pokey and dry tears.

Step 3: Redo child's braids. Because it is bedtime and every girl needs beautiful braids... to sleep in.

Step 4: Help her change into pajamas. She can do it herself. Nope. She needs help. Nope. She can do it herself. Nope. She needs help.

Step 5: Allow her to spend 3 full minutes choosing which skirt to wear over her pajamas. TO BED.

Step 6: Read "Belle Book" (Beauty and the Beast) for the 985th time.

Step 7: Say prayers, including praying for "Baby, Pokey, Giraffe, Brown Bear, Baby Bear, Polar Bear, Baby Polar Bear, Bunny....

Step 8: Because she realized she was missing some friends during prayers, search for specific missing friends. Tonight they include 4 puppies (she owns about 12).

Step 9: After 4 puppies are found, head back upstairs. As you reach the very top stair, you hear "And Dragon!" Turn around and go back downstairs. Find Dragon.

Step 10: Deliver 4 puppies and a dragon.

Step 11: You are now told that Dragon needs her blanket. The specific blanket you are looking for is about 2 x 3 inches. Good luck.

Step 12: After miraculously finding the tiny blanket (because "Mommy, Dragon is sooooo cold"), and bringing it to your 3-year old, she responds: "All of my other friends need blankets too. Can you find each one their own little blanket?"

Step 13: Open beer. Write this blog.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Another body part is retiring. Well, 2 actually.

I have made no secret about the fact that I am in a state of simultaneous mourning / elation this year. 2014: the first time in 6 years that I will not be pregnant or nursing -- because we have decided to retire my uterus and declare that 3 kids in 5 years is probably enough kids.

Elation: No more babies!!! No more freakishly large body that does not fit into any maternity pants properly! No more pushing out the big fat babies we tend to create (although I love how fat and healthy they are, my lady parts sure don't). No more 9+ months without beer or wine!

Mourning: No more babies. No more positive pregnancy tests, no more ultrasound appointments, no more finding out the gender, no more baby name duels. No more amazing birthing experiences (and yes, I use the word amazing. I have truly loved the experience of giving birth -- grossness and all).

And now, as of today, before either of us were ready (who knows if I would have ever been ready), no more nursing. My youngest is almost 13 months. It was time to start weaning him. He is a big boy -- drinks milk from a cup, and only really nurses for comfort. But he does still nurse for comfort every night, and I was not ready to rip that away from him just yet. Unfortunately, however, I have been fighting a bout of pneumonia. (Who knew moms were allowed to get pneumonia? I sure didn't.) And the previous nursing-safe meds did not work. And I got sicker. So back to the doctor today, and she said what I was dreading: "You need to go on stronger medication. And you CANNOT nurse on this stuff." She could probably see the sadness in my face (or the Really? Not even a little? It is probably okay... look on my face) because on the bottle, written clearly are the words: "DO NOT BREASTFEED WHILE TAKING THIS MEDICATION."

I feel robbed of that special moment when you get to know it is the last time. Turns out the last time was at 5 am this morning and I did not know. With my eldest son, I had that special time. He was 14 months old, and although sad, I felt ready and I knew he was ready. I played with his hair and looked at him and talked to him and knew it was ok. My daughter did not grant me that opportunity. At 11 1/2 months, she bit me, bit me on the other side, and then later that night, bit me again. She finally looked up at me as if to say, "Mom! I don't want this anymore. Are you not getting it?" And while this was harsh, if you know her, you are probably saying, yep, that sounds about right. She runs her own show, always has. The boys took forever to come out and she came flying out as the doctor barely made it into the room. So as I look back, her end to nursing was very fitting. But with my little guy, this just doesn't seem fair. I can try to start again after 7 days when I should be done with the medication, but at this point, with him only really nursing for comfort and being over a year, I know that isn't going to happen.

So another chapter is closing. If you see me in public and my eyes are red and I look a little forlorn, feel free to hand me a beer or a glass of wine (if it is the morning, you can put in my travel coffee mug so we are not judged), and tell me to keep my chin up! Celebration! No more nursing bras, nursing pads, no more being unaware that you leaked through your shirt so you continue to have 20 minute conversations with people. No more dreaded breast pump!

Watch out summer! I might rock a tank top for the first time since 2007!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An "Open Letter"

Lately there have been lots of "open letters" in the media. I guess the idea is to write a letter and then post it to Twitter, Facebook, etc. so it is "open" to the general public. Well, here is my open letter.
To Costco.

Dear Powers That Be at Costco,

I frequent your establishment a couple of times per month. I have noticed that most of your clientele fall within one of two categories: moms and the elderly. What do moms and the elderly have in common? We are all up at 5 am. Therefore, on behalf of moms (and maybe the elderly -- I don't know their feelings on this subject) I would like to express my frustration at your 10:00 am opening time. By 10 am, I have been up for hours. One, if not two of my kids are already dropped off at school. My baby has probably already had a morning nap. 10 am is almost the middle of the day.

Kids are dropped off at school before the 9:00 hour, so by not opening until 10 am, moms are forced to wander aimlessly around town with our babies in the car or go home for 28 minutes and accomplish absolutely nothing before we can shop at your store. Since neither of these options are very appealing, moms like me have to wait until after picking the big kids up from school to enter your establishment. This is not what you want, Costco, trust me. You would rather I shop at your store with fewer kids and earlier in the morning when I am freshly caffeinated. Instead, I enter my local Costco at lunch time (school gets out at 11:30) with all 3 kids. My coffee has worn off. The kids are hungry for lunch so they insist on stopping at every single sampling station, even if it is beet jelly on pita bread. They will not like the beet jelly and will loudly state their opinions to anyone nearby.

I know your game. You are thinking, but Mommy! Stop at our cafe and treat your kids to a slice of pizza! Um, have you seen me? 3 kids. 5, 3, and 1. The 3-year old still pees and poops her pants on occasion. The 1-year old is 1. Enough said. Dining out is hazardous enough when my husband is with me. Do you really expect me to wait in line, order slices of pizza, and park it at one of your indoor picnic tables in a vain attempt at feeding all of my children without any of them dropping the entire slice of pizza on the floor, peeing on their chairs, or falling out of them?

In closing, please consider opening your doors at 9:00 am.



Friday, January 24, 2014

All because Mommy got a cold

Seriously, I cannot make this shit up. Pun intended for obvious forthcoming reasons.

So we all know Mommy cannot get sick. It one of the universal truths of life, in all cultures, in all corners of the world. I have come to realize this more and more with each illness I contract and with each new kid I birth.

My lovely kids shared their boogery cold with me, so I am congested and have almost no sense of smell.  Kid #3 was about to go into bath with his older brother. I had changed his diaper a few minutes earlier and smelled no sign of poop (or really anything else all day). So I haphazardly ripped off his diaper with him draped over my arm. Crap. For real. Poop falling out of diaper... now smearing all over Mommy's thigh and arm... dropping all over the floor... I rush him to his changing table, which is in his room, across hall from bathroom, dropping poop as I go and subsequently stepping in it in my favorite slippers, ensuring that it is truly ground into our carpet.

On changing table, poop is EVERYWHERE. Not only is it smeared all over various parts of my body, but also his. And he keeps putting his foot in more because it is all over the changing table pad. Oh, and he is screaming in anger because he was so excited to take a bath with his brother and instead was ripped from happy bathland to be de-poopified.

Where the hell do I begin? So I just started wiping and wiping and wiping and wiping and wiping. And oh, there is more. Yep, there too. Finally once he was clean, I put him in his crib to then take off my poop-covered clothes. And then on to the carpet...

20 minutes later, baby and I re-emerge in the bathroom where kid #1 has been taking a bath. My slippers are now in the trash, but my socks are suddenly soaked. There is a lake -- a sea I could call it -- of water on the bathroom floor. My son explains that he had created a "water machine" and did not realize the mess he had made. Are you kidding me?! So baby gets plopped into bath (now finally happy) and Mommy takes on the task of mopping up the effect of said "water machine."

So thank you, cold, for turning my one-beer night into a two-beer night.
Silver lining, people. It is all about the silver lining.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Great Equalizer

This holiday season, I drove over 2,000 miles with my 3 kids to celebrate with family. This means we experienced all of the joys of road trip travel, and I had an epiphany on the last day. We had stopped for  an ice cream / bathroom break in some middle of nowhere town. I usually take the kids to the bathroom in shifts -- in random order: baby gets new diaper, 3-year old pees and/or poops and changes possibly wet underpants or may get a pull-up, 5-year old pees and/or poops. Mommy gets to go somewhere in the shuffle if she's lucky. This routine is repeated approximately every 3 hours on a road trip, which means lots of public bathroom visits.

My epiphany was this: the public restroom is the great equalizer of all moms. I realized this at the middle of nowhere ice cream shop as I entered the bathroom with one of my kids (I forget which one). There was a mother changing her daughter on the changing table. Her little girl was at that oh-so-fun age -- probably over 1 -- you know, a little too big for the changing table but not quite old enough to stand to be changed? (Note to self: Invent changing station for toddlers. Make millions.) Two of my senses (sight and smell) told me immediately that the girl had pooped. There were other children in the restroom as well, running amuck through the stalls. She tried to control / reprimand them as she cleaned her child, speaking in Spanish.

I smiled at this mother. I wanted to help. I only had 1 child in the bathroom with me because I was lucky enough to have help watching the others. So many other times, however, I have been in her position -- with all of my kids, in a bathroom, trying to corral them, clean them, contain them. And it is a BATHROOM of all places. The only place where the thought of my kids touching stuff is grosser than changing the actual poopy diaper. I did not offer to help -- 1, because I don't speak fluent Spanish, and 2, because I am a random stranger. But I saw her and immediately empathized with her. And that is when I realized that the public bathroom is our great equalizer. Here was a woman who lives in a different part of the country than I do and speaks a different language than I do to her children, and I am just like her.

You can walk into a public bathroom with a Michael Kors bag on your shoulder or a purse you found at Good Will. Either way, there inevitably won't be a hook for it (Note to self: Campaign for all restroom doors to have hooks. Win award.)... And you will have to put your bag on the floor before pulling your toddler's pants down. Your 2-year old will sit on the potty for 5 minutes singing and touching way more of that toilet than you can stomach. No mom is better than the other in here. We are all saying, "Can you go? Are you done? Are you sure? Is there more? Don't touch it!"

To the mom in the random ice cream shop in the faraway town: We're all with you.