November 30, 2010

Who You Are

I've always been in a hurry.  Around age twelve, I created my life as some sort of giant "to-do" list.  And one by one, I checked off things. And I checked them off in a fantasic bloody hurry. 

Even still, I feel the urge to run around like crazy, with my invisible list....and I'm not sure why.  What's my hurry? And really, what in the world is left on this magical list?  I graduated (check check check). Got married (check). Got fatter (check). Got skinnier (check).  Got fatter again (check). Got lawyered (check). Had babies (check check).  Got fatter (check). Obtained mortgage debt (check).  Moved to city (check).  Now needs therapy (check).

Now, I'm thirty-one and I'm looking back on the last ten years (like all these other old folks I know), and saying "those were the best times of my life."  

Don't get me wrong.  My life is good. Life is very good.  But I wish I would have just slowed down, taken some time to look around and see what I see now.  Then again, hindsight....well, it's 20/20.  And so are my eyes.  LASIK (check).

So I write another letter to my baby monkeys.

Dear Babies -

Take your time. Just slow down. Figure out what makes you happy, not what makes everyone else proud.  Your life is yours. You have to live in your own skin, with your choice of career, love, and location.  Better take time to savor it all, and determine what will make you the best you possible.  

One of my favorite bloggers says the idea that you should "do what you love" is bad career advice;  rather, you should do what you are

The biggest challenge is to figure out who you are.  But do it.  Take the time. Don't make a checklist. Figure it out, and maybe the rest will fall in place.

Love,
Your Crazy (check) Mom

P.S. - You and your dad were the best three boxes ever checked off my list.

November 28, 2010

BlogVice: Travel Plans

The Expert and I piled the kids in the car and headed down to Savannah for Thanksgiving.  We swore we weren't travelling anywhere with these crazy monkeys until they were 11 and 12, but we always manage to think that we can handle it.  And off we go.  Hence, we usually return from trips so worn out and so tired, that either the Expert or I will post a divorce lawyer's number to the fridge - handwritten in crazy script, on a wrinkled piece of McDonald's trash from the car.  I jest.  But yes, it's bad.

This trip, while better than all of the previous trips, was still so hard. But to our credit, we were smarter this time.

Rule 1:
Break your rules. Travelling with kids means breaking all of one's own rules. Buy the DVD player. Feed them a steady diet of gummy worms, Toostie Roll pops, and crackers.  McDonald's.  Let them each hold their own happy meal box and dump the entire contents on their heads, the floor.  Take a McNugget to the back of the head if it means giggles. Who cares.  If a sucker buys twenty minutes of peace & quiet, do it.  Just don't forget the babywipes.  Stella used her sucker to "paint" her hands and face red.  This gave me mild hives, but I tried to just look away.

Rule 2:
Run them. Take a break and run them around a parking lot, a Wal-Mart.  We ran laps around Longhorn Steakhouse on a stop, which resulted in the kids being too tired and out of breath to scream for about thirty minutes.

Rule 3:
Promises. Make any promises necessary to achieve quiet.  Yes, you can have a pony.  Yes, you can drive the car. I promise, on the next stop, we can take a ride on that airplane. Usually, by the time you arrive, they have forgotten the promise anyway.  Although, James did ask about a pony this morning.  Might need to reconsider this one. Okay. This is not good advice.  It builds mistrust. Strike it.  We never did this one.

Rule 4:
Blame the grandparents you just visited for anything out of your control.
            James:   Mommy, I want to go the aquarium, noooooow!
            Me:       We can't go to the aquarium now.
           James:  [random screaming]
           Me:        Mia says you can't.

Take it easy, Mom. It's only a joke.  (Sort of).

Rule 5:
Stickers.  I never understood why I'd see minivans driving down the road with hoards of gross little stickers stuck to the inside of the car window.  Now, I know.  And totally worth it.  I have dinosaurs, baseballs and pirates now inside the Pilot.  Total quiet time: 20 minutes.  It will take me an hour too peel off those stickers tonight, but still worth it, I say.

Rule 6:
New toys.  Buy new ones and give to the kids when you are absolutely certain they are sitting behind you planning a mutiny.

I am not sure if travelling is in our future anytime soon.  But letting go and allowing the kids to be wild and crazy and pumped full of sugar seemed to work better than attempting to assert any real control.  Afterall, what adult likes to be strapped into a seat on an airplane for hours?  That's basically what we are asking of our toddlers. It makes them unhappy.  So attempting to curb their pain (and ours) with a little rule-breaking makes the time move slightly faster than usual.

And yes, we had a good time on our trip.  Always good to catch up on hugs from family. And the Expert and I had an added bonus: my parents watched the kids for an overnight when we arrived.  That was actually unplanned, but I dropped a hint when we arrived.  Mom said something like "sure," whereby the Expert and I pulled a ninja smoke bomb ...and disappeared until the next day around lunch time.  However, this move resulted in my mother making a next-day declaration about her unwillingness to watch two kids at a time in the future. 

This Thanksgiving, I am very thankful for such wonderful family and friends.  And for Tootsie Roll Pops. Hope you all had a relaxing break, full of good food and company.  Back to the grind tomorrow.

November 22, 2010

BlogVice: Happy Noodles

Hiding healthy food (veggies, fruits, wheat germ) in a typical kid food is not novel genius. I am sure mothers have been doing for years. I added jars of baby food peas and beans to spaghetti without thinking. Only Jessica Seinfeld was smart enough to put it down on paper and has made millions off the concept with her book.   Mrs. Seinfeld complicates things with her homemade purees.  I say insert organic baby food and what's the difference?

Anyway, our house has tried several of Seinfeld's kid recipes, courtesy of the Expert. The kids hate them.  The adults love them. 

As the Expert and I were snacking on muffins, I asked him:  So, we're actually eating squash puree, right?  And that grossed me out. Why would I need to hide vegetables from myself?  I eat vegetables.

Anyway, tonight I hit the jackpot.  Good ole boxed mac & cheese with a healthy kick.

Organic boxed mac & cheese
1/4 c frozen cauliflower
1/8 c frozen spinach
1 small jar squash baby food

Chopped everything up teeny tiny. Mixed it together with the baby food.  Ew.  But the kids liked it, and that's a pretty healthy little dinner. Take that Jessica Seinfeld and your 45 minute butternut squash puree.

November 21, 2010

R & R & R

Relaxing Sunday.  Happy babies.  The Expert making a curry.  Bring it on, Monday.  I'm ready for whatever you've got.

November 20, 2010

Step off my Stoop

I am on a one woman campaign to make soliciting illegal.  No, not solicitation - that's different, people. 

Showing up at a house, knocking on the door and attempting to sell stuff - what are you idiots thinking? Do you have a death wish?  I don't even want to see a kindergartener standing there with chocolate.  I don't want to see a Girl Scout (like I wouldn't buy your cookies anyway. Like I don't pre-order them in droves anyway).  And I especially don't want to see a male stranger, mid-thirties, no uniform, no name tag standing on my stoop after dark, offering me some sort of deal on a Saturday night while I am home alone with two children.  

I joke about living in Lawrenceville. Alot. But it really is the seventh circle of hell. Of all the suburbs of Atlanta, we really hit the jackpot with this one.  After living in Duluth for a year across from the rich folks of the Sugarloaf Country Club (we rented a 1200 square foot apartment from the poor side of the street), I got a little spoiled. After being semi-burgled once already, I hate this place.  I hate Lawrenceville for the commute. I hate that our one fine dining restaurant guarantees a cold piece of fish full of bones, a steak so rare it moos (no matter how you order it), and a $100 tab for your trouble. 

Just a few miles down the road, Snellville and Duluth manage to pull off some great things (at least we have choices). But Lawrenceville...I'm thinking you'll never get it together.

One bonus, Lawrenceville: you're cheap.  Yaaaay for you.  Our house cost about six dollars. So that's nice.

Irrespective of our fair town, our fair neighborhood is even worse.  We had an incident a while back where a guy showed up and asked if we had an alarm system.  I'm like, hell yeah, we do and get the hell off my street!  He was with no discernable company or business.  He was in a car from Mississippi parked down the street.  I knew this because I put my running shoes on and went for a casual jog afterwards, carrying a sharpie and scrap of paper to jot down the tag info.  Shut up, I am not crazy. This crappy neighborhood should make me president of our miserable homeowner's association.  At the bare minimum, the title of watchdog extraordinaire.

Another time, I pop out of the bedroom after a shower, to see the Expert standing in the doorway, chatting it up with some "alarm guy" and I hit the roof.  Why are you talking to this guy about an alarm? Did he have an ADT shirt? What company did he represent???  [Insert one of the top ten biggest fights of our marriage here]. 

Tonight, I'm playing with the kids in the playroom (a/k/a a dining room converted to junk hole) and I hear a friendly knock-knock.  Thinking it's the Expert with his arms full of presents for day three of my birthday celebration (ha!), I open the door. 

White male, mid-twenties, 6'3'ish, black fleece, carrying a two liter of Coke.  Not even Diet Coke. I am immediately suspicious.

Idiot:     "Hey there lady, I just wanted to tell you about a neighborhood special we----"
Me:        (glancing at his two liter of Coke) "A neighborhood special? You have to be kidding me."
Idiot:     "Yeah, we are running a special where-----"
Me:        "No thanks, I am too busy for this."  And I motion to shut the door.

This guy steps towards me.  I make a mental note that he's not with Pizza Hut.  A Pizza Hut guy with a two liter makes a little sense.  And he didn't smell like pizza. I also make some sort of sick mental note that I can "take him."

My dad taught me to be a tough girl.  My dad also scolds me constantly, telling me that I'm going to get myself killed being a tough girl.  Irrespective of the sorority girl at the Georgia Theater in Athens who had it coming to her, I've never actually been in a real fight.

Yes, I have officially lost my mind, I admit.  I'm tired. I'm over these idiots in Atlanta.  But I am often thankful that I am not 100 pounds.  I complain about my size. Alot.  But I also like feeling that I am a size enough to at least put up a fight to doorway intruders. Maybe.

So this guy steps towards me, and I swing the door wide open and move towards him saying, "Look, I'm making dinner for my kids" (a bloody lie) "and I don't need this."  He mutters something I don't hear, and I slam the door in his face.  And I slam it hard. 

I wasn't scared in that moment because I knew this guy wasn't going to do anything (in that moment).  Instead, he was casing our house for another time.

Then I got scared.

That's what's going on here in Atlanta.  People going door to door, checking out who is home, what they've got inside, the cars in the driveway.  And it's not just Lawrenceville.  So I shouldn't hate Lawrenceville for that.

But I hate people for that.  How dare you make me feel insecure in my house?  Makes me spit nails.

I called the Expert, who was on his way home, and I told him that I'm going to start answering the door with the gun.  That way, these jackasses know what's inside.  A little preview into this crazy woman isn't enough. They have no idea how crazy I am.  Velcro rollers, my fat buns in a bathrobe and a handgun might help clarify things.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

In other news, our big boy James has retired the sippy cup.  I am proud.  And I am even proud of him slipping milk to Stella via the "big boy cup", even if it resulted in a spill-a-palooza on the chairs I once loved.

And the Expert and I managed a date night last night and saw the movie "RED".  Hilarious.  Highly recommend.

Happy weekend, ya'll.  It's almost over.  Awesome.

November 18, 2010

Love Thyself

Today, I am thirty-one years old.

I stood in my kitchen and I counted to my son, I am 1-2-3-4-5... All the way up to 31 years old. Surprisingly long number to count. He grew bored during the process and walked off.

And our nanny's five year daughter wished me a happy birthday today and her eyes grew huge when I told her my age.

I have no wisdom in my old age. All I have learned over these past few years (and most strongly in the last few months) is that one must love thyself. I have people who love me. But lots of folks in this world either don't love me or only pretend to love me (even worse). So at the end of the day I am left with those few people who do love me...and me. If I can't give myself a break every once in a while and love me....what can I offer these kids of mine?

The Perfect Family

The family photograph.  Ah, the family photograph. 

Our little family has never had an official photo until last week. A local photographer teamed up with a local children's boutique for a mini-session offer I could not refuse.  I booked the appointment.  I orded the kids some clothes and literally, counted down the days with dread.

It's no secret that I have wild monkeys for children. Or at least, they act like animals around the Expert and me.  I could envision our family portrait:  Stella with a handful of James' hair.  James poking her in the eye.  Stella biting me.  Me biting the Expert.   

The day of the shoot, I am dressing James and he breaks his clip-on tie.  He pops off a button on his vest.  Stella drools on her dress, and tears through two pairs of tights.  My dress, oh my dress, (which was bought last year a/k/a twenty pounds ago) is riding up my rear end so high that I have to scrap the pantyhose and put on actual leggings.  (Of course, the Expert is sitting on the couch relaxed and looking sharp as ever.) 

Second shock of my life, the kids are amazing (!) and we wade through the shoot with absolutely no drama (and the photographer commenting on what precious well-behaved children we have (!)). 

A sneak preview of the pictures came in last night. And shows this perfect family of four. 

Who ARE these people???

When we saw the pictures, the Expert and I looked at each other and laughed... the drama behind those two sets of tired parenting eyes...that's the real story.  And the fact that my leggings were cutting into my extra belly fat while simultaneously giving me an enormous wedgie...another chapter entirely. 

Also, apparently it's a small miracle to have a photo of an entire smiling family. So how was it accomplished?  Welllll.... the photographer was saying "where's the kitty cat" over and over again in this voice which was cracking up the kids.  And me.  She was funny.  The invisible kitty cat almost made me pop the elastic on my leggings from the giggles. 

Family pictures are nice. And beautiful.  And I love love love ours.  Afterall, no one wants 8x10 immortalization of the day-to-day reality:  the sweatpants, boogies, the fights and stained t-shirts.  

The Perfect Family.  Yes, I've got it.  We are perfectly chaotic, messy and crazy, with a whole slew of internet-diagnosed issues.  And that's just fine with me.

November 16, 2010

Stealthy Poo Bombers

Today is a work from home day, which is always nice because:
1) I manage to accomplish more at home than I ever do at the office.  The early wake up, minus the time it takes to 'paint the barn door' as my dad says, minus commute time, minus long walk to bathroom, breakroom, etc.  I'm automatically working a hugely productive day;

2) I can wear my Pajama Jeans. Well, not really, because I don't have any. Yet.  But I am thinking of rush ordering along with my Snuggie; and

3) Avoiding the Poo Bomber at the office.  As previously posted, we have stealthy Poo Bomber in office. She hits the bathroom at 10:00 and 2:00, like clockwork. It's lethal.  Now, we have learned that her schedule does fluctuate, but there for a while, I could have set my clock by the smell.

So, I'm working this morning in my home office, which happens to be near my almost-two year old daughter's room. It's early, and our nanny hasn't woken her up yet.  I start to smell something.  Poo bomber baby!  She made a bomb so stinky that it filtered through the walls.  By text message, I confirmed with our nanny what I was smelling.  Yep, she replied, it was gigantic.  I could not escape.  Home or office or home office, I'm surrounded by it.  And really, I have been most of my adult life.

My first job out of undergraduate, I worked in an optical shop.  A customer would eat at McAlister's Deli next door and while eating his loaded baked potato and phily cheese steak, he would see our sign and decide, "hey, I need new glasses." So here he comes, sometimes with a nagging wife in tow, both rolling in all full from lunch and with their plastic McAlister's cups. Well, fifteen minutes after picking our his frames, I see a change in his demeanor, and he would ask for the bathroom.  I would point towards the back of the store and crumple my nose, knowing what was about to happen.  B-b-b-bomb.  And then I would be stuck with it.  New customers would come in and glare at me questioningly, like I made that stink.

At a summer clerkship, I worked in a closet near the bathroom.  Every morning, the same associate would arrive with his giant Starbucks.  Approximately twenty-five minutes later, he would bomb the bathroom right next to my "office."  He kept Car & Driver magazines under the sink in the bathroom, and I could hear everything.  Horrific.

And then another person  and yet another one of my jobs would bomb the teeny office... and then bomb it with air freshener.  The worst.  Poo scented fruit.

Today, someone from my current firm reported to me that we not only do we have Poo Bomber... but we also have Guest Poo Bombers (yes, plural!).

Apparently, three or four men from other floors in our building, now arrive like clockwork (one with a magazine(!)) to bomb our floor.   This is funny, because I always declared that our original Poo Bomber should simply go to another floor and take care of her business.  Then she would not screw up her co-workers' days. 

Well, these Guest Bomber dudes are doo-ing just that.  Only under this scenario, we are the "other" floor.

November 15, 2010

I Win

The Expert did not wear the molestachio to work.  I win that bet.  Much like the fried chicken bet.  Won that one also.  The Expert is not looking so smart these days!  Moo ha ha!

November 14, 2010

I Hate Experts

The Expert shaved his beard (which I love) into a mustache (which I hate).  He thinks it's hilarious.  Walked out of the bathroom, strutting and all, with this look on his face. Like, oh yes I did.

I've been in a bit of an emotional slump and he says the mustachio stays until I am happy again.  I tried to explain to him that the Charlie Chaplin isn't helping me to love him more.  And it certainly doesn't make me happy.

The Expert is a lot of things... but self-deprecating isn't one of them.  One hundred bucks says there's no way that Rollie Fingers is walking into his office tomorrow looking like that.

He's a funny know-it-all.  Oh, how I hate him.


November 13, 2010

In Line


How can a child manage to line up his toys, and simulataneously destroy the rest of the house? 

And look at the window.  No, we do not have a dog.  We have monkeys - two of them.  These are the marks of monkeys.

Oh my gosh, I need to clean my windows.  I knew they were bad, but this is embarassing.  An embarrassing fact that I was not forced to reveal.  But yet, like my stinky feet, here you see it on my blog. 

Child: Defined

CHILD: (n) \'chi(e)ld\:

(1) a young person between infancy and youth;
(2) the quickest way to ensure that you will never again do exactly what you want to do, when or how you want to do it;
(3) the most annoying little animal possible, yet the most awesome, all wrapped up in one little package;
(4) career-killer and life-saver;
(5) main source of frustration and laughter;
(6) all that really matters in this world, walking around outside one's body.

November 12, 2010

Big Red Man

I just found this Gingerbread Man that James made at school yesterday. I laughed so hard.  Look at the placement of the two bottom buttons.  Oh my goodness, this should go on my list: the fabulous art projects.



I asked James if he liked making the gingerbread man, and he said: "Yes, that's my Big Red Man."


The Things to Love

My style is to vent and rant about motherhood (especially about other idiotic parents), tell silly happenings with my two monkeys, and every once in a while post something that gets me several dozen angry messages, just for the hell of it.

Motherhood has a fair share of heartbreak (mostly sleepiness and monotony), but there are a million things to love about being a parent.  Today I am home with the kids and thinking about the things to love about being a mom
1)  Sesame Street.  Enough said. The shows are often ridiculous, but when James Blunt sings "My Triangle" to the tune of "You're Beautiful," who can resist?

2)  Biscuits for breakfast, anytime.  And squeals of excitement about biscuits to boot.

3) A refined sense of smell.  A decline in sense of style.  I'm headed straight for an express order of Pajama Jeans.

4) The humor.  The funny things kids say.  The Expert and I have struggled with appropriate names for private parts and what we should call them (for the kids, of course...I don't mean in life, in general).  We sort of settled on "pee pee" and "beans."  Not sure where that falls in the appropriate spectrum.  But we have always called Stella's girl parts "beans."  James apparently mistook beans for poop. For example, I change Stella's diaper and James will say: "Does Sissy got beans?" meaning, does she have a poopy diaper.  Funny. But now I think he has made the connection. While changing his diaper he said, "I no got beans. I got balls."  Now, where he heard that....I do not know. 

And right now, he was playing the basil garden and said to himself:  "Mr. James, how ya doing? Oh, oh, I just fine. Thank you!"   Funny stuff.

5) The snuggle factor.  With kids, you always have a warm little sack of thirty pound potatoes to hug. I guess the same is true for puppies.  Hmmm.  And puppies are cheaper, and arguably less messy.  Oh! But puppies don't grow up, leave the house and come home for clean laundry and Thanksgiving.

6) Learning more about myself.  I have learned that I am more patient, more forgiving and less selfish than I believed possible.  Having kids has brought out alot of good in me.  Motherhood may have brought out other undesirable traits, though: stretchmarks, bad hair, failure to keep up with the times.  But the overall benefits win.

7) I have a greater appreciation for my parents.  They are still crazy, yes. (Love you, Mom & Dad).  But now I understand why.  It's my fault.  I am now crazy.  Which is James and Stella's fault.  During childbirth, the unconditional love gene kicks in, and your brains are now toast. Or swiss cheese, as my friend says.  Brain loss, however is a thing "not to love" about motherhood.  Although it does create valid excuses for stupid things, like wearing sunglasses on top of my head while viciously searching for them.

8) The Expert and I are less likely to toss money out the car window since having kids. In the back of our minds, each finanical transaction can potentially effect their futures.  I worry about retirement and savings alot more now.

9) Lazy fall days. Although I am working a little today, I am able to work from the back porch while watching the kids play in the leaves and dump water from old pots on each other.

10) Children create an excuse to wear stickers and talk in weird voices. All day long.

11) Holidays are far more special.  "Oooh, that's a big turkey!" and "Oh, my goodness, a real jingle bell!"

12) Goldfish, animal crackers and teeny tiny snackfood in general.

Happy Friday, everyone!

November 11, 2010

A Bunch of Bunk

Attention: all you moms who have breastfed!

Read this ridiculous "study", and be prepared for simultaneous brain and eyeball explosions.   Apparently, moms who breastfeed "get as much sleep as those who bottle feed."  And I must give tribute to iVillage for the initial article that pointed out this ridiculous study and had the same reaction as I did. 

Breastfeeding is the most tedious, painstaking and stupidly slow exercise in all of womankind. Even if a breastfeeding mother pumps, she's looking at 20 minutes to fill bottles (plus the awful click-click-click-I'm-a-cow-getting-milked-sound), plus, actual feeding and burping time.  I'm sorry - does it take 20 minutes to shake some formula in a bottle?  So right from the get-go, bottle-feeding mothers are ahead 20 minutes (multiplied by 8 feedings a day = approximately 2.5 hours). 

I repeat: that's 2.5 hours a day that bottle-feeding mothers retain.   Okay, so say a mother doesn't pump, but actually breastfeeds?  Well, then you are in crazy land.  Kids suck down bottles like candy.  They nap and lay around like sloths for hours on a boob.

This is my favorite quote: "Maybe breast-feeding moms wake only to latch their babies on, then return to dreamland. I can certainly vouch for that happening. Or maybe formula-feeding moms catapult themselves into a more alert state as they pad downstairs, flip on the light to prepare a bottle and move around more than a breast-feeding mom."

I think I may have thrown up in my mouth.  I am quite certain while I had a baby mouth grinding on me, I was not anywhere near so-called dreamland.  You have to be kidding me. 

I am no scientist (but the Expert is).  This study fails in one huge aspect.  The simple fact that bottle-fed babies have a bigger knot in their bellies, and as such tend to sleep longer (and hence, so does Momma).  Have you looked at breastmilk (looks like watered down skim milk) and formula (a milkshake)?   Which one do you think holds the belly longer?

Now, there are studies out there to say this is not the case.  Perhaps, because it is in our best interests as a society to encourage breastfeeding.  We don't want to scare off the new mothers; we need to encourage their attempts to breastfeed. So we create faux studies to say breastfeeding mothers are well-rested, etc. etc.  And I support that.

While these people are a bunch of bloody liars, I think that mothers who choose to breastfeed also choose to lose a whole lotta sleep for the benefit of the baby.  Check out the studies on the lowered risk of ear infections, allergies, SIDS and overall increased baby health.  Read those.  And ignore the idiots who say you'll sleep.  Because here's the truth:  as a breastfeeding mother, you will not sleep.  But as a mother of a three year old who has never had an ear infection, you will sleep when other bottle-feeding mothers are now having tubes installed in their kids' ears.

And yes, I will say it.  You did not even attempt to breastfeed? Not once?  You didn't give it the good college try? That's just not okay. Not in 2010.  In 1970, sure. The research wasn't out there to support it.  Now?  Nope, you've got no case and certainly, no excuse.   Not in the world of Medela, Gerber, and Pump in Style.  I am as big of a feminist as exists and I believe in a right to choose what to do with your kids, to work, and all of that.  But to choose not to try to give your kid something that you can actually whip up yourself, in your sleep, and squirt out while watching Jerry Springer? In 2010?  I am revoking your motherhood card. 

I have a friend with triplets.  Yes, that's three babies.  And she gave her babies breastmilk until month NINE.  Oh, I'm sorry.... your one child was too hard to breastfeed?  Your milk just "never came in"?  Pumping hurt?  Or, you just didn't try?

Please turn in your motherhood card. 

My favorite?  The 2010 stay-at-home mom who doesn't breastfeed.  Nice!  I'm sorry.  You are "too busy?"  Try lugging a 15 pound breastpump to work.  You are not busy.  You are a selfish jackass.  Your motherhood card is officially revoked.

Perhaps I am so emotionally charged about this topic because I didn't sleep as well for two straight years.  I pumped behind doors at work.  I had a freezer full of the stuff.  For a total of sixteen months, I was breastfeeding/pumping, awake, attached to a child or machine (and often in my office), thus providing insurance to my future plastic surgeon that he/she will scoop up $6k for a "medically necessary" boob job in the year 2015. 

And trust me, I appreciate the fact that some of you will hate me for this.   Well, whatever.  Ask me if I care.  I'm a lawyer, I'm used to the hatred.  In fact, I think I went to law school for it!

Cheers!

November 10, 2010

BlogVice: Potty Training Boys (and the winner is...)

Congratulations to BlogVentures reader, Bonnie, for her sage advice on potty training boys! She is the winner of the AMEX Giftcard!  Bonnie is mom to (successfully potty trained) Andre and sweet baby girl, Selah.  She's beautiful, smart and talented...and her husband is an Ironman!  A wonderful family. Check our her blog at: http://www.thecrazyclarkcrew.blogspot.com/


Bonnie suggested Fisher Price's "Precious Planet Froggy Potty," saying it was the best $12 she ever spent for potty training her son. It's now about $13, but still, I bought two - one for upstairs and down. We haven't started the training yet, but already James is so excited about the potty. In talking about the potty training, he says "I go in my froggy potty." Bonnie recommended it especially for boys because of the cool look AND because of the high front part and easy empty feature ("There is no lid to open or “cup” to knock over. It’s GREAT!!")

In addition, Bonnie recommended the Potty Scotty doll, which is an anatomically correct boy doll that drinks and goes potty, complete with book and DVD.

I received some great advice. Thank you all!

Other honorable mention potty advice:

1) Simply waiting until the boy is ready and decides to potty train himself. One reader said that her son simply announced "ready" one day. She followed her same advice with her other two children, for a total of three successful (and stress-free) potty trainings. I believe I am going to use this idea along with the froggy potty. Will kee you all posted.

2) Letting the little boy pick out his "big boy" underwear and putting him in the underwear without a diaper. Apparently, the "wet" feeling doesn't go well for them, and they learn to use the potty quickly. Although the reader suggested that "in 3 weeks" he would be trained. This makes me wonder how wet my furniture and carpets would be with three weeks of accidents!

3) Buy a "potty toy" that he can play with on the potty only;

4) Rewards with stickers and M&Ms; and

5) Charting each potty with a sticker.
Thank you all for your helpful advice and funny stories! Stay tuned for our next contest.

November 9, 2010

Buzz Lightyear?

Yes, my son is obsessed with Toy Story. No surprises there. Last night while wearing his Buzz Lightyear costume, he came across a rogue piece of lint on his leg (my son is also scared of lint).

Oh, the fear of lint. It strikes in the bathtub, in the car. He saw this lint, and I knew it was an insta-issue.

He whined a little about it, pointing to his leg. I pretended to ignore him. He became more disturbed. Finally, I said, "no big deal, James. It's just some fuzz."

He whimpered a little in horror, and whispered, "Mommy, I no like Fuzz Lightyear."

November 8, 2010

Little Orphan Stella


With that mop of hair and raggity looking dress, she looks like a cast member from the original Annie movie.  And Stella?  Well, she's never fully dressed without her smile.

November 6, 2010

Escaped

Meet Stella.  Stella is almost two years old. 

Today, she learned how to climb out of her crib for the first time.  This is her, caught in the act.  

The Expert opened the door, and called down to me.  I scurried upstairs.  We were in the doorway. And there she stood. 

Out of her crib.  On her own.  Escaped.

And looking at us like we were the crazy ones.

But, I guess it's better than this morning.  When the Expert called down to me just now, I thought we were about to have another poop tale. 

Still, this was bad.  And the dangerous part about the escape? A future escape combined with the removal of clothes and diaper, could then result in a bona fide poop mural on her walls, Stella-style.


Princess Poop & Kid for Sale

I took off for a little 5k run this morning, which was fabulous. I returned from my lovely little morning with a detailed report from the Expert. It went something like this:

"So this morning, I went to wake up your daughter, and I smelled poo as I was walking up the stairs."

I laugh at this. Like I haven't been slapped by the poo curtain coming up the stairs before. I tell him this and he glares at me. Whatever. Go on, I urge him.

"Okay, when I walked into the room, I could tell that she had somehow wiggled out of her jammies - yes, the zip-up ones. And not only that, I could see that she had also wiggled out of her diaper."

I am laughing again. Yes, she has done this before too, I say. More glaring from the Expert.

"Oh yeah?" says the Expert. "Well, has she ever taken off all of her clothes, her diaper and then copped a squat and laid a poo in the corner of the crib?"

Nope, I tell him. That's a first!

Stella is awesome. That girl is turning into such a renegade, and a renegade who is turning two. We have our hands full with our terrible three year old, and now we have our terrible two girl coming up - making us proud. These kids are crazy. Oh, but we love them.

However, James (who is also awesome) is also officially for sale again.

I took him off the market for awhile, but he's back on the auction block. After four consecutive
nights of waking up to the tune of Twinkle,
Twinkle and loud squeals of "Mommmmmy!" My
Dinosauuuuurrrr!", we are taking offers again.

November 4, 2010

Three Years of Tears

I can't get my three year old kid to stop crying at bedtime. The screaming, the fussing into the wee morning hours. Yes, we are fresh off of puke-a-palooza part deux, and yes I understand he may be frightened. We are nice, sympathetic pushover parents. We have rocked and coddled, and now we are paying the price.

I don't really believe that, though. I have ex-friends who are pushover parents. Its not really our style. I think it more likely that monkey boy had a taste of the fun times co-sleeping during the puke-a-thon and now there shall be hell to pay. The Expert and I are now resigned to hiding in the bedroom at night, lights off, hoping the kid doesn't hear/see us, and perhaps this will reduce the screams.

What is this all about? I feel like am reliving a newborn. Does it mean he will grow up to be a brilliant person? Does that three year old understand ways of the world that we cannot understand...and he's tormented by all the beauty in the world like American Beauty? Or is he just a stinker out to get my goat?

He better watch it. He who gets mommy's goat....is bound to get kicked by said goat!

November 3, 2010

BlogVice: Stickers

Random stickers strewn about the house are quite handy at dinner time. 

Let the kids play with the stickers while they eat. Use the stickers to pick up the crumbs off the floor after the meal. Viola.

November 2, 2010

Quote

I've decided I'll never give up. No matter how many battles I lose; no matter how many tears I shed; no matter how many martinis I have to drink, I will continue to fight the good fight! I love to laugh, believe that every day is a new day, and thank God each morning that I am still here, and that my kids didn't sneak into my room in the middle of the night and kill me. 

- VodkaMom.com

One More Kid

I struggle with wanting more children.  Trust me when I say that I do not want one (or two or three) more babies.  But I want a household of angst ridden, disobedient teenagers.  I want lots of adult children and big family holidays, our own big holidays.  I told the Expert that I cannot bear the thought of another pregnancy, another breast-pump that I carry around like a ball and chain. 
But I can very much bear the thought of more laughter, more joy, more kids (and yes, more chaos) under this roof.   James and Stella can always use a little knocking down, a bit of humility, a reality check (who can't?).  I was (am) spoiled.  I try and prevent this in my own kids. Successfully?  To be determined.

So the question I pose:  what to do when one feels called to adopt or foster kids?  Do you embrace it? Just say, yep, we should do this and take the leap? Do you test it? Talk to people? Interview those who have done it?  Listen to all the negativity from the meddlers? Simply quiet the voices?

When I was four and a half months pregnant with my firstborn, James, I sent out a giant stack of resumes and cover letters.  I printed each page and peeled off each stamp simply because I could not bear to raise a baby under the regime  set forth by my chauvanistic and ridiculous shell of a boss (two weeks maternity leave, no pumping at work, general hatefulness and stupidity).  My belly was starting to stick out.  So what?  I sent out my resumes.  I interviewed several places.  I received three offers. Within two weeks I was hired, five months pregnant, by a fabulous group of people, who I still respect and work under today. 

I will never forget every detail of my interview with that firm.

First, I was sitting in a huge office on the thirty-second floor of a twin tower. I was in awe. What? No wood paneling???  In that interview, I talked about my experience, my qualifications.  I was asked "the" question: Why are you looking for a new job?  And with that question, I was one hundred thousand percent honest in my answer:  I was made promises that weren't kept, I work under a tyrant regime, and I need a new jobSimple as that.  My heart was racing and in that moment, I felt my baby boy kick for the first time.  Sitting in that beautiful office, with those nice people, baby James let himself be known.  Only to me.  Almost like a  You Go Mommy move. 

I had, in my cover letter, said I would be available to start in January 2008.  This interview was in June 2007.  They wanted to know why so long to start a job.  I took a deep breath and told them: I am pregnant, and I will be done with having the baby by January.  The managing partner did not even blink.  Instead, he said:  Can you come earlier?  If we give you the standard materity leave? I blinked.  What is the standard leave?  He looked and nonchalantly said, Oh about 12 weeks. 

This was a Thursday. By the following Tuesday, I was packing boxes and me and the Expert were moving to the city.

My whole point: I sent out those resumes based on heart, not on common sense.  My entire family declared me insane when I walked in for that interview.  Everyone tried to put me in the cuckoo's nest.  But I did what I knew, and what I felt.  My soul said go.  So I went.

That's the reason why, when I feel these little inner voices whispering with respect to more children, I pause for a second. And I listen.  I weigh each feeling and I evaluate.  I listen.  If I had quieted my voices back in 2007, I cannot imagine where we would be.  The case for finding more children to bring into the fold remains open. The case for childbirth?  Well, that case is an easy one, and it's officially closed. Banker's box, storage and shredder.

Adventures in NO!

You've heard of a Yes Man?  Well, Stella is a No Girl.   Her response to everything: No!  And she has this snotty little country accent to boot, which actually makes no sounds like new.

Her use of no is like a staccato note.  Ping!  No!  Stella come here.  No!   Let's brush our teeth.  No! 

Neither of my kids have issues with no.  The Terrible Twos and the Terrible Threes are running rampant with no.  Strangely, neither of my munchkins actually says yes.  When James wants something, he'll just repeat what you asked.  And as I said, Stella just says no.

Me:       Do you want some milk? 
James:  Want some milk.
Stella:   No!
Me:       Do you want cheese on your sandwich?
James:  Want some cheese.
Stella:   No!

And on it goes. Little two feet tall creatures telling me no no no, and then laughing about it.  What's a girl gotta do to get some respect around here?

Puke-a-palooza (Deux)

Sunday, 11:00 pm. 
The kids are in bed.  The Expert and I settle in to go to sleep.   This is good for a Sunday.  I am ready for some good sleep, an early morning spinning class, a good start to the week.  

11:25pm
Just as I start to drift off, I hear an old familiar rumbling sound over the monitor, and I brace myself for the horror.  James instantly begins to scream in decibels of terror, and I nearly kill myself scurrying up the stairs.  I was unprepared for the aftermath.

Puke-a-palooza, Part Deux. 

The smell hits me first and then I scan over the Big Boy Bed, which is covered in upchuck.  The mess was running down the wall near the bed.  James was sitting up, with a horrified look on his face, holding a puddle of goo in his trembling little paws.  The stuff was, literally, everywhere.  I call for the Expert (who, thankfully, appeared fully clothed to this emergency). We start the cleanup of the room, the kid, the doggy and dinosaur bedmates.  The kid is wiped down, re-jammied, and rocked.

Me:       Are you ok?
James:  I ok.
Me:       Tummy ok? Feel good?
James:  I feel good.

He says he feels good, and I trust him.  (Parenting rule of thumb: never trust a three year old.)  The Expert and I head back to bed. 

12:30am
The sound again.  Rumble rumble rumble, scream scream scream.  This time, the sound of both the Expert and I pounding up the stairs like a herd of elephants.  We open the door. 

James:   I burped.
Me:        Yes. Yes, you did. 
James:   I need tubby.
Me:        Yes. Yes, you do.

I scan the room, and see that the wall got it again.  And the sheets.  Well, basically everything that wasn't hit before, got hit this time.  We lather, rinse, repeat.  Sheets off, jammies off.  James is upset.  We put him in the tub, and he calms down.

1:05am
I throw the casualties of cloth into the washer, and we are back in the bed.

1:45am
Puke. Rinse. Repeat.

2:40am
Repeat.

By this time, I have managed to wash and dry the first round of dirty laundry.  I'm thinking, at least we have clean stuffed animals.  However, the washer is now full of odd puke balls.  Apparently, some of the puke failed to dissolve and was centrifuged into neat little pellets.   

3:25am
The Expert and I cannot bear the thought of leaving the baby monkey to puke again, alone.  So we put him our bed.  For the first time. Ever.  We are strong opposers to co-sleeping, the family bed, whatever you want to call it.  Not going to happen in this house.  But this is a special circumstance.  James curls up between us, and is laying there so sweet, and so quiet Oh my goodness, I'm thinking, so this is why people co-sleep. This is awesome.   I resist the idea of grabbing Stella from upstairs and pulling her into this blissful state too.



3:38am
The Expert is starting to doze.  James is wiggling a little bit, but so far, so good.  The Expert has his shirt off.  I see James roll over.  I hear teeny giggles.

James:     Nipples!  Nipples!  Daddy!  (hysterical laughter) 

The Expert and I start to giggle too.  I look at the clock.  Oy vey.  I'm starting to doubt the co-sleeping nirvana.

Me:         James, we have to calm down.  Time for night night.
James:    I see the moon!  The moon!  Oh!  What! I think I see jellyfish!
Me:         No, there's no jellyfish.
James:    And the jellyfish! I saw it.
Me:         No.
James:    And the puppy dog. And his tail. Oooh! I see my tail.
Me:         James, go to sleep.
James:    (singing) The wheels on the bus go round-a-round, round-a-round.....

4:05am
After countless rounds of "Wheels on the Bus," assorted gymnastic maneuvers across the bed, and a foot to my eyeball, I am cursing the co-sleeping.  Or co-playing.  Or whatever it is.  Either way, it has to go. 

Then James is very still, and I hear it.  The rumbles.  The Expert grabs James, and they head to the bathroom.  Kudos to the Expert, who managed to get that kid to the sink and not a drop of the icky stuff anywhere.  

4:15am
Child is back in bed with us.  Strangely, he's completely wired.  I can't believe the stomach bug has no effect on the energy level.  More singing, dancing and overall lunacy. The Expert and I are fading fast.  My dreams of my 4:45am wake-up call for spinning class are gone.

4:55am
Co-sleeping is for idiots.  Back upstairs with the monkey.  Into the Big Boy Bed.  Fingers crossed and rounds of night night.

5:13am
I hear the familiar screams.  This has passed the point of crazy, but upstairs the Expert and I go.  Turning on the hall light, I peer into the room, eyes darting about wildly for signs of puke.  I don't see anything.  We check out the bed, James, the walls.  Nothing.  Where is it?  Where is the puke?

I look at James, who is smiling.  

No way.  That kid pulled a faux puke?  For attention? Good grief.

5:25am
The Expert and I are back in the bed.  I'm not sure why.  Five minutes later, the sound of my alarm shakes me into action.  Sweet.