Mommy Blog

Welcome to the Thunderdome: When The Bedroom Turns Into A Post-Apocalyptic War Zone

It had to happen. I knew at some point I’d break down and write about the “S” word, because the utter lack of it is a theme common to most (all?) new parents. It’s absence hovers over us, a constant grey cloud, reminding us of a time when things were much more simple, a time when it wasn’t so hard to obtain. For 16 months and 11 days I’ve waited patiently, obsessing over my desire for it. I’ve tried everything to bring it back into my life. I’ve read books, spent countless dollars on specialty clothing, purchased hours of tailor-made music designed to help set the mood. Recently I’ve taken to incorporating aromatherapy into the bedroom, out of sheer desperation to find something that works. Each night, I go through the same routine, hoping that this night, this one night, it will happen, because I need it. “Oh please, please little baby. Please just sleep.”

Truthfully, I’ve been on the fence about writing anything regarding sleep. When you are so sleep deprived it takes you 30 seconds to figure out which end of the shampoo bottle shampoo comes out of (true story), it is hard to put anything together that doesn’t just sound horribly whiny. Also, there are already people who have done it, and done it very well (for those of you who don’t already know the blog How To Survive A Sleep Thief, check out the post I’m referring to here; it is brilliantly funny, and perfectly sums up everything I wish I could say about living with a kid who doesn’t sleep, but can’t because it took me 30 seconds to figure out which end shampoo came out of).

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In case you were thinking, “maybe her shampoo bottle is confusing?” let me show you a picture of my shampoo. Not exactly a brain buster, under normal circumstances.

So what made me do it? Well, for starters, I’m delusional. With tiredness. Because the last time I slept through the night was back when the words “North West” and “One Direction” referred to parts of a map, rather than a bagillionaire toddler, and a handful of post-pubescent weasel boys ruining music. And lately, little Baby 1.0 has decided that getting up 2-3 times in the night wasn’t enough, and has increased it back up to 5 times. 5. Times. A. Night. Little reminder, she is 16 months. Being plunged back into the thick of what is essentially newborn level of sleep deprivation, I am reminded of a few things:

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Pick One Direction, and head that way, away from me, forever.

1. Removing regular sleep from your routine changes who you are on a fundamental level. For example, I turn into a crazy asshole when I don’t sleep. Like, seriously, a totally crazy asshole. Case and point? This morning, after another absolutely brutal night, I spent no less than 12 minutes hunting down a fruit fly who landed innocently on my arm, and when I finally got it, I smashed it with a smile on my face, like some kind of insect serial killer. Did I have to invest 12 minutes of time in hunting down a solitary fruit fly? No. Did I have to smile when I killed it? Big time no. But No-Sleep-Emily is currently the captain of this ship, and she is a scary asshole.

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This is me, the morning after another sleepless night.

2. When I don’t sleep, my mind turns into a garbage disposal of thoughts which A) immobilize me, preventing me from completing any kind of task,  further perpetuating my garbage disposal tendencies, and B) keeps me from falling back asleep. Usually, somewhere around 3am after Baby 1.0 wakes up for the umpteenth time, my mind does this: I need to go to the store and get dinner food. We need to eat healthier. I need to buy more vegetables. I need to buy organic. Organic is too expensive. I need to get a job. I don’t want to have someone raise Baby 1.0. I need to socialize Baby 1.0 more. I NEED TO STOP THIS. I will count until I fall asleep. 1, 2, 3, 13, purple, I need to email every single person I know, urgently. I need to clean out my email inbox. I need to vacuum. I need to clean out the litter box. I need to order cat litter. I need to order cat food… AND IT GOES ON AND ON.

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This is my brain at 3am.

3. Being horribly, hideously, sleep deprived makes me feel like I have the worst hangover of my life, but nothing makes it go away. Well I can’t say nothing, because I have a sneaking suspicion a couple of vodka tonics would do the trick, but I haven’t entered that territory since my bachelorette party where I peed (basically) in the doorway of a Walgreen’s, while leaning up against a newspaper box. My head aches, my eyes burn, my muscles are weak, my stomach hurts. I can’t help but wonder if hardcore sleep deprivation is used against spies and terrorists to break their spirit. Let me just say, I would tell someone anything they wanted to know if that meant I could start sleeping through the night again. Update: just this morning there was a news story about how the CIA used sleep deprivation against suspected terrorists. I’m not condoning torture in any way, even though I am being tortured, and misery loves company.

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This would work… but probably not a sustainable solution.

4. I hate nighttime. The more sleep deprived I get, the more I dread going to bed. It’s one thing to bump along during the day, feeling crappy, but having things to distract you from the crappiness, and another to be forced out of bed for hours of the night trying, in vain, to convince another human to do something they have no interest in doing. It is frustrating on a level I still can’t wrap my head around, and more depressing than watching one of those science programs that always shows the baby deer being hunted by a wolf. Stop with that. We get it. Wolves eat baby deer.

deer

Stupidly, very stupidly, I just googled “wolves hunting deer.” Bambi with a butterfly on his butt is better.

5. Lastly, this has served as a reminder that this is hard. This is hard, man. Not always, but sometimes, and sometimes for long chunks of time. It is hard to be patient and kind when you feel like a rabid raccoon. It is hard to be empathetic and understanding when all you can think about is the burning behind your eyes, and the heaviness in your limbs. Forget being the perfect mom. When you are bone tired, it’s all you can do to remember to put on two shoes that maybe match. So the next time some little turd kid rips a toy out of my little dumpling’s hand, and their mom just stares blankly ahead, I will try to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she’s just tired. I get that.


Image credits: Cover, ShampooOne Direction, Joker, List, DrunkBambi

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Milestones, Or Acceptable Ways To Publicly Declare Your Baby Is Superior

We’ve all been there. You’re at the park, quietly watching your little while they play calmly in the sandbox with a broken shovel and a pine cone. From the corner of your eye, you see her approach, her seasonally appropriate attire clean and cute, her hair in a suspiciously full, yet contained top knot. In a moment of panic, you look down at your own outfit, and discover a dried out macaroni noodle stuck to your sweater in the exact location of your nipple. You manage to remove it just before she gets there, and breathe a temporary sigh of relief, but dread washes over you as you see the bright yellow semi-circle the noodle has left behind, creating a rather convincing “friendly cyclops” effect on your right boob.

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It’s like this, but maybe just a few less noodles.

She delicately arranges herself on the edge of the sandbox, reusable coffee cup in one manicured hand, eco-friendly, gender neutral, Montessori toy in the other. And then, as if coming straight from a Hannah Andersson magazine shoot, in toddles the perfect toddler. This toddler is wearing matching everything, and unlike your child, they don’t have walrus-like tusks of snot hanging off their face. They enter the sandbox, and in the distance you hear the faint, but distinct, sound of bells signaling the start of round one.

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These guys rolling up to the sand box is (marginally) more terrifying than finding a clown in a dark alley.

For a few seconds, nothing happens, and you think “Maybe this is the nanny? Oh please be the nanny…” But this thought is interrupted by the seemingly innocent complement/question one-two punch, “She is so cute! How old is she?” And it begins. For those of you who don’t yet have kids, this seems so harmless. “She’s just being nice!” you may say. But really, like a raptor testing the fence, she’s just found her way in. “She’s 15 months,” you reply. And then because you don’t want to come off like the ogre you feel like, you reply with “I love your daughter’s shoes. How old is she?” Here’s where it gets serious. Secretly you are hoping and praying her kid is at least 6 months older. Look at the way she scoops the sand, and dumps it in to the bucket with such accuracy! And did she just speak in full sentences? She has to be at least 22 months. “My little angel is 14 months!” she says, confirming your worst fears.

From here it gets ugly quick. You discover that her little princess started sleeping through the night at 2 months, and continues to do so, in her own bed. She sat up at 3 months. She crawled at 5 months. She walked at 8 months. She is basically potty trained. She speaks three languages, not including sign language, which she can also do comfortably. It is after finding out she saved the preschool hamster by giving it the Heimlich that you look over at your own offspring, and discover they are currently chewing on a sand-covered apple core they’ve just unearthed.

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Sand. In your teeth. It hurts me to even type that.

Before you get too down on yourself, let’s pump the brakes on this train wreck and put things in perspective. It’s horribly cliché to say “every baby is different,” but it’s the most simple way to put something that is, quite simply, the truth.

I find myself getting caught up in this nonsense still, when some over-achieving wonder-tot spits some crazy toddler knowledge at Baby 1.0 and me. Just this weekend, we shared the sandbox with an 18 month old who could speak in full sentences (we actually witnessed it), and according to his mom, could read. Baby 1.0 doesn’t even really have a word yet, and while she knows what the word “nose” is, she can actually only locate it on my face maybe 60% of the time (for the record, my nose is in the standard location, midway between both ears, on the front of my face). But instead of (me) pooping in the sandbox and going home and ordering the entire Baby Einstein series off Amazon in a panic, which I considered, my husband and I just shrugged and told ourselves, “Every baby is different. She will get there.”

These comparisons are often not malicious, as I too, find myself wondering how Baby 1.0 stacks up against the average toddler. But sometimes they sure can feel that way. My guess is I’m not alone in feeling judged, or in all honesty, judging every once in a while (every day). Our babies are like our own little 4H projects, and just like when the judge comes to your stall and points out your cow has a googly eye, you feel like you need to compensate and tell him all about how, googly eye and all, your magnificent cow is able to sweep the barn if you attach the special sweeping mitts you made to her feet. Maybe this hasn’t happened to anybody else, but you get the point. Every baby has their downfalls, but I’ll be damned if there aren’t 10 things that make up for that downfall.

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This cow does not have a googly eye. It does, however, have what appears to be a case of cow narcolepsy.

I think for my own sanity, I need to replace the question “is my baby is better?” with the acknowledgement that “every baby is different” more readily. I should make it my mantra, and carry it with me, probably for the rest of my life. I can only imagine these comparisons continue, in some degree, forever.

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Image credits:

Mac and cheeseHannah AnderssonSand eaterCow

Random Review #4: Barnyard Bath

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf.

Today was a little tricky, because the first book Baby 1.0 picked off her bookshelf was The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. She loves this book. This is not a joke. When I picked it up to consider if I was cool enough to review a field guide in a children’s book review (I am not), she crashed to the floor with the force of a meteor, and threw her usual 3 minute and 17 second tantrum that ended in us brushing up on our local sea ducks. Feel free to quiz me on the preferred mating ground of the King Eider if you have any questions.

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Baby 1.0 just doing a little light reading from her favorite field guide

Her second choice came from neither of her two bookshelves, but instead from her stash of bath toys, where she selected Barnyard Bath, by Sandra Boynton. I’m not going to lie, I totally love Sandra, or Sandy as I like to call her. She is, to me, exactly what I want in a children’s author. She is funny. She rhymes. She is playful. She avoids trying to shove some super important message into a book using owls to illustrate the security one may feel in a traditional nuclear family. My only complaint is in Barnyard Bath, the nostrils on the cow look like an upside down pair of very large breasts.

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These nostrils look more like boobs than most boobs I’ve seen.

This is a pretty basic book. It’s rubber and came with a kid-friendly wash cloth so they can clean all of the animals. Not much to say about it, other than it’s a fun way to teach your kid that the purpose of a bath is to actually get clean. This idea of “getting clean” in the tub isn’t something Baby 1.0 is too keen on. In her beautiful blue eyes, the sole purpose of spending 15 minutes in the tub is to try and drink her weight in the body-flavored, luke-warm tea she is steeping in. She will stop at nothing to slurp down mouthful after mouthful of this sweet concoction that is usually 1 part pee to 10 parts tap water. This book provides at the very least a temporary reprieve from our nightly battle routine.

The only thing I don’t understand about the book, other than the giant, pink, breast-nostrils, is the book seems to be missing a page, or more accurately it seems like they printed the book a page short, and had to put the last page on the back of the book, along with all the other stuff that normally goes on the back of a book. What’s up with that, Sandy? Somebody get a little lazy in the publishing department, or are you trying to save a buck?

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How much does one extra page cost, Sandy?

 

Suspicious missing back page aside, we love this book. Major bonus points for being able to take it in the tub. I give it a 4/5.

On Being Thankful

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not exactly the sentimental type. It’s not to say I don’t appreciate things, but I’ve never really been the type to ooze emotion, even when the situation would call for it (like, say, at our wedding, or the birth of our baby). But today, when pondering what I would write for my next post, a really crazy idea came into my head. Maybe I should try to write about something I’m thankful for, but in a way that lacks the emotional ooze. So what am I thankful for? Baby naps popped into my head immediately, for without the blessed 45 minutes Baby 1.0 graces me with most days, I would not only lose my mind, but I also wouldn’t be able to write. Or shower, or do anything for myself in a semi-relaxed way. Squeezy food pouches were a close second, but it seemed like maybe I’d be a little light on material. It wasn’t until Baby 1.0 was dozing peacefully, and I was in the shower, that the idea to write about my parents came to mind.

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This is me, in classic form, being very unserious at my wedding.

Now this idea to write about my parents was a surprising enough revelation that it made me stand there, mouth slightly agape, left eyebrow arched suspiciously, head cocked to the side like a confused puppy. “The parents?! But they are divorced and there are many of them,” my brain said with dismay. “Yes. The parents,” repeated the heart, “all of them.” “But maybe we could just be thankful for cheese?” suggested my brain. “No cheese. Parents,” insisted the heart. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea, for however weird, different or challenging I perceived my childhood to be at times, it was actually pretty great, thanks in large part to my parents.

It wasn’t until I became a parent myself that my view on my childhood fully shifted, and allowed me to see my parents for what they are: People. People who love, and people who care. People who make mistakes, and people who struggle. Just your run-of-the-mill, everyday people, living their own lives while simultaneously trying to be responsible for somebody else’s. Reconciling this new title of “people” with their previous titles of “Mom” and “Dad” has been paramount in appreciating the incredible effort they put into raising good kids, and continue to put in as we ourselves become parents.

Of course nobody is perfect, and this is hardly meant to be some brag about how I came from a modern-day Donna Reed family. That wasn’t the case at all. But now that I am a parent, it is much easier to look back, and not only cut them some slack, but also feel appreciative for the lessons they taught us, even if they were tough lessons to learn.

Thanks to my parents, and their openness about their less than perfect relationship, I have been able to use their missteps as a guide, and their victories as goals. Use good communication. Work hard. Practice transparency and honesty. Be supportive, loyal and kind. These are all invaluable lessons I am thankful to have learned from people who I love and respect. Perhaps the best lesson of all, they have recently shown me the importance of forgiveness, as they embrace friendship once again, and relish in their roles as new grandparents. This, the forgiveness, has strengthened my own relationships, and also allowed me to permit myself the same courtesy as I stumble through new motherhood.

I am so thankful to have the parents I have. My mom, my dad, my step-mom, my in-laws. Every one of them brings something incredible to the table. I could go on and on about the individual traits each person shines with, but then I’d be oozing emotion, and that makes my skin a little itchy. So today, I say thanks. Thank you for your love, your support, and your kindness. Thank you for your mistakes and your quirks. Thank you for above all else, sharing your imperfection, and in your imperfection, being beautifully human.

Random Review #2: Tiny Tot’s Puppies and Kittens

Kids books. It blows my mind what people will publish, and it’s even more confusing what becomes popular. In this weekly segment, we will randomly review a book Baby 1.0 picks off her bookshelf.

This week Baby 1.0 picked yet another one of her go-to favorite reads: Tiny Tot’s Puppies and Kittens. You can say to her “Baby 1.0, go get Tiny Tot’s Puppies and Kittens” and she will drop whatever she is doing and find it. Part of me thinks this is a clear indication that she is a genius, but it could also be she just likes it that much.

This book doesn’t even have an author, presumably because all told it only has 44 words in it. I say more than 44 words to myself in the shower on days that I shower. The book does, however, have an illustrator named Kathy Wilburn, who absolutely nails the pictures, in a 70’s elementary school kind of way.

This book is another oldie but goody, first published in 1987. It’s a Golden book, and is part of a series that includes some other riveting reads such as Tiny Tot’s Busy Day and Tiny Tot’s Toys. I haven’t read the others, but feel strongly that this is the best this series has to offer.

The book opens with the observation that “puppies are soft and cuddly.” It follows that up with “so are kittens.” Being someone who has worked with puppies and kittens for nearly a decade, I feel it’s my civic duty to inform you this is not always true. I’ll give you soft, but cuddly? I have some scars on my arms that would beg to differ. But whatever, let’s just chalk that one up to more lies we tell our kids. It’s in good company with Santa, the Tooth Fairy and why Gary the goldfish had to be released into the wild via your toilet.

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The book goes on to show some mischievous kittens and puppies wrecking shop in someone’s house. Again, we have young animals playing with a ball of yarn, just like in Goodnight Moon. No yarn, people! I’ve seen those strings pulled from the intestines of your precious pets. It’s not a pretty sight!

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After causing an indoor ruckus, the puppy and kitten go outside to terrorize the insect world. The kitten sets its sights on a delicate butterfly while the puppy goes after a beetle. Probably a stink beetle. The kitten is prancing around with a blue ribbon around its neck, which makes me wonder, did our good friend Kathy the illustrator ever have a cat? You put anything around a kitten’s neck and they will turn into a tornado until they get it off.

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The book finishes up with an idyllic scene where four kittens are playing with one puppy. This is Baby 1.0’s favorite page because this is where I get to say “Yip! Yip! Mew! Mew!” which she thinks is the best thing in the whole world, which in turn makes me think this book is the best book in the whole world.

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So there you have it. I actually love this book. It’s simple as can be, with dorkus drawings but I guess that what makes it so endearing. I give it a 3.72/5.

The Parenting Olympics

Over the last 15 months, I’ve discovered a secret about parenting… nay… THE secret of parenting. Lean in close, so I can whisper it into your eyes: parenting is a competition, and it’s every soccer mom and super dad for themselves. I say we stop with the pseudo-compliments and just get right to it, Roman style, via a series of carefully curated events. Events that will weed out the willing from the weak, the powerful from the pathetic, the ingenuitive from the incapable. I present to you, The Parenting Olympics.

For our first event, please grab your stroller and line up at the starting line. A $1200 stroller does not a good parent make, but rather how you manage a stroller, one-handed (because you are obviously holding your child), while navigating through the crammed sale racks at your local discount retailer at Christmas time, 1 hour past your toddler’s nap time, while your blood sugar dips dangerously low, now THAT is worthy of praise. So line up, give your kid their least favorite sippy cup so they are agitated, and get from Housewares to Hosiery without knocking the faux fur sweater vest from the otherwise naked, severely emaciated mannequin. Extra points if you come out on the other side with both baby shoes and the paci.

racksHo ho ho. Now go go go.

Next up we have the Grab and Haul. As we all know, taking the babe out for even the simplest of errands requires no less than 16 things when it’s all said and done. So for our next event, we will give each toddler 30 seconds to collect as many things as they deem necessary for a jaunt out for milk, then you will have to pick them up, locate your car keys, wallet and phone, grab the diaper bag and the reusable grocery bag, exit the house, and get them into the car without forgetting anything, or letting anything hit the ground. Now, go get your milk, come home and bring everything back inside PLUS the box that showed up on your doorstep. Extra points if you don’t strain a muscle in your shoulder, or let the door slam on tiny fingers silently investigating the hinge. Extra extra points if you remember to put the milk in the fridge.

Naomi Watts And Son Out For A Walk In Los AngelesBinky? Check. Snuggly blanket? Yep. Snacks? You betcha. Flask? Don’t mind if I do.

Our third event is all about speed and dexterity. It’s a triathlon that will test your patience, persistence and ingenuity. On paper it’s a seemingly simple set of tasks, but in practice it can drive even the most patient of people to drivel and maybe even drink. For round three I will ask you to remove the laundry (you know, the load you washed last week?) from your dryer, fold it, put it away, and load the dishwasher. This all must be done while the child is awake, and free to roam. Because we aren’t famous rich people, the laundry folding station must be your couch, and because we aren’t famous rich people, and we rent, your kitchen can’t have a baby gate or effective child-proofing locks on your cabinetry. Points are docked for every time you raise your voice in frustration as the child knocks over a stack of folded clothes or rips a handful of folded clothes out of their drawer and spreads them willy-freaking-nilly around the house. Double points are docked for every time your child removes a dirty knife from the dishwasher and chases your cat.

pet-sematary-remake-1This is exactly what it looks like in our house when Baby 1.0 gets the dirty scalpel out of our dishwasher.

The fourth and final event of our series is a combination of our three previous events. It’s truly a measure of an Olympic Gold Medal Parent. For this event, I will ask that you take your child out for an outing that requires driving at least 15 minutes away from your house. The outing must be timed where, upon its termination, the child will need to go down for a nap in precisely 20 minutes, leaving you a generous 5 minutes of wiggle room. When the timer hits zero, you must extract your child from the outing of your choosing (read: the most fun your child has ever had, and whole-heartedly believes they will ever have again), navigate your way to the car, buckle them into their car seat while they do their best impersonation of a rodeo king/queen, exit the parking garage that was obviously built exclusively for smart cars without hitting anything, then make it home WITHOUT letting the exhausted child fall asleep. You will be disqualified for disobeying traffic laws, cussing out loud at the trash truck who is blocking THE WHOLE STREET, or getting into an accident. Extra points will be given if you turn this into a “teachable moment” by choosing to sing the ABC’s in a volume appropriate for a Death Metal concert, but a tone that would charm a little baby lamb.

Screen-Shot-2014-03-13-at-9.56.28-PM I have no words. Except I’d mop this chick in the Grab and Haul.

So there you have it. The Parenting Olympics. Got any ideas for next years events? I’d love to hear ’em!

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Image credits:

Cover: http://slimber.com/gallery/images2/21/216558/the-olympic-rings.jpg

Racks: http://www.buffalonews.com/storyimage/BN/20130127/LIFE02/130129435/EP/1/1/EP-130129435.jpg&maxW=960

Naomi Watts: http://cdn04.cdn.justjared.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/watts-hands/naomi-watts-has-her-hands-full-03.jpg

Pet Sematary: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_yzXc2oxZKh4/TU–WgrVIdI/AAAAAAAAAPY/038-Fq4TF4A/pet-sematary-remake-1.jpg

Car singing: http://rixbury.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Screen-Shot-2014-03-13-at-9.56.28-PM.png