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Why won’t they let me sleep?

I have a friend who did the family bed/co-sleeping thing. It worked out beautifully for them. I’m of the mindset that if you want to try out some parenting “technique” and it works out, you should do it. By the way, all those parenting techniques? The short-term for them is…parenting.

Anyway, I never did it. I was all, “Welcome to the world, baby. Two things: I love you more than anything else in the universe. Also, I really like to sleep, so we’re gonna work on that, k?”

I just like sleep. And I’m a terrible sleeper. I wake up anywhere from 5-dozens of times a night. I need to get to bed early if I actually want to rest enough to function the next day, because laying down and sleeping 6 straight hours will never happen.

Notice I said 6, because the idea of 8 is one held only by the science community and people without children. Or sleep disorders. Or insomnia. Actually, I’m pretty sure the only people getting 8 hours are college kids who can sleep until noon. Jerks.

That being said, I’m a sucker for night-time snuggles. Especially Smush. The Nerd and I are both hopelessly in love with her, and it’s a rare treat when she’ll actually just cuddle. Because of this, we were totally okay with her early morning snuggle routine that developed over the past couple months. She wakes up around 6:00, and then sneaks into our bed for snuggle time.

And by sneaks, I mean climbs over me with the enthusiasm and dedication of a climber conquering Everest for the first time.

First it was 6:00 AM. Then it was 5:30. We were still okay with that, because she fell back asleep between us and babies sleeping between you is wonderful for very brief periods of time.

Then it was 5:00 AM. Now you’re pushing it, kid.

Last night she crawled into bed with me before the Nerd had even made it to bed. It was probably 11:00. I make really bad decisions when I’m sleep-deprived, so I let her.

She proceeded to spend the remainder of the night kicking, pushing, and generally flailing with such force that I’m surprised I don’t have any contusions. By 4:30 AM, my pillow was hanging off the edge of the bed, along with most of me, as she assumed what I will lovingly refer to as, “the starfish,”  in the middle of the bed.

The Starfish.

The Starfish.

I put up with this for a while. By the time I bothered to check the time, it was 4:30 AM. I was rapidly running out of time for my sweet, sweet sleep. No matter, I could still get in a good hour before the day kicked off.

I focused. Yes, I have to focus to fall asleep because intently listening to the sound of my own breathing is the only way I can turn off Mom Brain. I relaxed. I pulled the covers up, and settled in. One hour, I can still get one good hour.

And as I slowly drifted off to sleep, Smush jolted and struck me with a force so powerful, I can only liken it to the strength of Thor’s hammer. In the face. With her hand clenched like a fist.

Needless to say, I did not sleep. Also needless to say, ninja snuggles are not going to be a thing. Nice try, Smush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A letter to new parents: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Part 2

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Love, and this. Pretty much all you need to parent.

In honor of friends that just had their first baby, and friends who are becoming part of a foster-to-adopt program, I wanted to share a little insight from a Mom who has learned that out of everything we have to worry about as parents, the most common ones don’t actually matter all that much. Having a young child with cancer really showed me that maybe I didn’t need to lose sleep over whether or not my infant was getting enough visual stimulation. Life lessons at their finest. You can read part 1 of this post here. In the meantime, here are other things that you *totally* don’t need to freak out over. Save that for first dates, mean girls in middle school, and knock-the-wind-out-of-you blows that life may deal along the way. You’re (almost) a parent. Get used to it.

Stuff to not worry about, cont’d.

  • Tummy time, skin to skin, and visual stimulation. You know what stimulates babies? YOU. If every child in the history of ever was shielded from black and white swirly mobiles, I’m pretty sure we would still have lots of functional, intelligent people on the earth. I remember stressing over how much visual stimulation I was giving Punkin. By the time Smush came around, I realized something invaluable: babies could care less about zebra stripes. They like the sound of your voice. Same for tummy time and skin-to-skin. Our skin time was nursing. After bath snuggles are also fantastic. My girls all hated tummy time, so I opted for on-your-side time to avoid that whole flat head thing. I know a mom who does a 3 hour rotating schedule of skin-to-skin, tummy time, eat, sleep. Schedules are awesome, but good Lord, do you hate yourself? Parenting is hard enough without giving yourself a report card. Feed your baby. Clean your baby. Love your baby. That about sums it up.
  • WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CHOICES? The Nerd and I researched every car seat readily available in America before Punkin was born. When we finally went to buy one at the store, it was discontinued. OMG. But we KNOW that the only one that could possibly keep her safe is the rear-facing to 40 lbs, front-facing to 65 lbs, cup-holder having, head support installing, burrows underground in case of nuclear attack Ultra Mega Seat Of The Gods. Or that other one we picked up that we still use 9 years later. Do some research. Pick a seat. Priority one: DO learn how to properly install it. That makes all the difference. Local police stations will help with that. Or local pits of wasted money baby mega stores.
  • Milestone schedules. Baby George rolled over at 4 months. Little Amy is already 4.5 months and still isn’t rolling over. She should probably be checked for spinal abnormalities. Please, for the love of your sanity and all that is good and holy, try really, really hard not to compare babies. They’re all so different. And for one very good reason: They were made that way. If God needed 7 billion Michael Jordans, or Billy Grahams, or George Bushes, or random kids down the street, He would have done that. But He didn’t. Because He knew that right now, the world needs that exact miracle you’re holding (or soon to hold) in your arms. Not the one your friend has. They have a different kid, with a different purpose. You don’t compare elephants and fish, because they’re two unique creatures, made with unique strengths and weaknesses. If God wanted you to have George who rolled over at 4 months, He would have given him to you. STOP COMPARING. Punkin took her first step at 10 months. She was running by 11. Smush didn’t even care about walking until 15 months. Punkin started talking at 9 months and was speaking in two-word phrases at 1 year. Smush barely even knew she could talk until she was 18 months old. They’re all different. Guidelines are important, but that’s what they are – guidelines – not absolutes. Punkin honestly never had a tantrum in her life. Goo met all the criteria for a few different psychological disorders because she was still having tantrums at 4. Then she stopped. Then she got cancer and started again. But guess what? I started having tantrums when she got cancer, too.

My final revelation for parents-to-be: If you’re worried about how good you’re going to be, it’s a really good indicator that you’ve got this in the bag. Because being a good parent starts with one thing: Love. If you already love your child – whom you haven’t even met – enough to be in the early stages of an anxiety disorder due to a desperation to be perfect, you’re already doing your job. Love them. Freak out sometimes. That’s parenting. There is absolutely no way to prepare for it. You just have to dive in head first, and pray. I recommend lots and lots of prayer. In my darkest hours as a mom, I found myself dropping the parenting books, and dropping to my knees to ask the ultimate Father what to do. Works like a charm.

That, and butt paste. Best diaper cream ever. Again, you’re welcome.

A letter to new parents: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Part 1

I have a friend who just gave birth to seriously one of the most perfect babies ever. Squee! Friends with babies are the best thing ever because you get to hold squishy balls of love and joy, and then give them back and go home and sleep.

I also have a few friends who are on the road to fostering-to-adopt, and during a heart-to-heart with one of them, I realized that parents waiting to adopt their first child are just like parents waiting for the birth of their first child in one particular way – they all freak out.

This is where I point and laugh.

Kidding. Sort of.

I’ve been around the block a few times with this parenting thing. I’m sitting from that place where I know better about some things, and I know absolutely nothing about the rest. But one thing I do know: there are so many, many things we freak out over that we don’t need to. So, in honor of my friends and parents-to-be, I give you:

The List of Things Not To Worry About

  • Bottle v. breast. Some experts may want to smack me right now, and I know several crunchy granola moms that are probably strangling me through the screen, but do you know what breastfeeding and/or formula are for? Feeding your baby. And do you know what they both do? Feed your baby. I breastfed all three of my girls, and I totally agree that if possible, it has benefits formula simply cannot offer. But. I have personally encountered far too many new moms, crying themselves to sleep because breastfeeding just isn’t working. Sweetie, you’re feeding your baby. YOU WIN. No matter how you do it, you’re taking care of your child, and that’s your job. They know you’re holding them and meeting their needs. That makes you their favorite. 

    In a few months, you won't be worrying about what brand of diapers to buy. You'll be trying to figure out how the heck this happened in the time it took to pee.

    In a few months, you won’t be worrying about what brand of diapers to buy. You’ll be trying to figure out how the heck this happened in the time it took to pee.

  • Which brand of diaper? Universal answer to this question: The one that holds the poop in. Super fancy brand with cartoon characters and lace trim? Rock on. I opted for the buy-in-bulk brand because we may or may not have gone through so many that Punkin’s very first nickname was Sergeant Poopy Pants. Just saying. Some people swear by Pampers. I hated them. I adored the Target brand. Others hated them. Find a pair that mostly holds the poop in, and you’re good. Disclaimer: No diaper always holds the poop in. I kind of see it as a milestone in parenting when you first have to cut a onesie off because it’s so full of poop. We had to do that with each of ours to avoid poop getting in their eyes/ears/every other orifice. So new parents: Try them out. See what you like. Always bring scissors and an extra onesie. You’re welcome.
  • Waking them up to feed them. There are absolutely situations where a baby’s weight is at a critical point and feeding them is basically all you think about. However, all three of my girls were healthy weights at birth. My skinny minnie Goo topped the charts at 8 lb 2 oz. She’s lucky I delivered her, since I told my children in utero that 8 lb was my limit. Anyway. The doctors all told me to wake them up every 2-3 hours to feed them. I did this exactly ZERO times. Punkin slept through the night from birth. (Don’t hate me, because I now have a kid with cancer, and I would totally rather have been extra tired and avoided this.) She slept 7-8 hours straight through the night from day one, and was consistently in the 95th percentile for height. I don’t think she was malnourished. And I wasn’t a zombie. Win win.

This is only the beginning. I mean that in every way possible – this is only the beginning of your parenting journey. It’s only the beginning of finding 482 million things to worry about. And it’s literally the beginning of this post. Part 2 comes soon. Try to contain yourself.

Parenting FAIL Friday: Why do I even bother?

As many of you know, we’re potty training Smush. I’m almost afraid to jinx it, but I think she finally got the hang of it! Not without many setbacks, mind you, but I see Dora underwear in her very near future. Thank God in heaven.

That being said, one of those setbacks happened this week. I don’t have any pictures this time. You’ll thank me later.

The Nerd really nailed the potty training thing when he brought home lollipops. I know, using food as a reward isn’t the best idea. I know, using candy is even worse.

I also know I needed her to poop on the freakin potty.

And she totally did. She carried around a lollipop all day, as a visual reminder, that if she just shimmied her little tush to the bathroom, she could open it up and devour it in all its sugary glory.

I was thrilled. I put on her big girl underpants and let her play. Once she pooped, I kind of figure I’m free for the rest of the day from accidents.

I was sorely mistaken.

In her defense, she tried. She just didn’t make it. Can’t fault the poor kid there. But I can absolutely fault her in what followed.

I took her to the bathroom to clean her up. This ended up being a level 4 quarantine situation, so I ran to get back-up wipes.

When I came back … the horror. It was … everywhere. Three huge smears on the bathtub. All over the toilet. Down her legs. On her feet.

How do you even do that? Seriously. I would like an explanation regarding the laws of physics as to how it is humanly possible to spread that much poop over that far an area in the time it takes to grab extra wipes.

I shudder. Anyway. I cleaned her. And everything in a 3 mile radius. Thoroughly. With bleach. And then I thought, “Well, look on the bright side. The bathroom is nice and clean now.”

How easily we forget.

In a house with rabid honey badgers children, nothing is ever truly clean for very long. 

I shouldn’t have been surprised. I should have been more on my game. I should have known. But I wasn’t. I didn’t. And God help me, I left the peanut butter jar on the counter while I was in the other room.

What ensued required a post-clean-up of at least 30 minutes. She dipped her little hands in. She licked it off. She dipped again.

And then she went to the bathroom. And she finger painted. Everything. The toilet and bathtub I had just sanitized. The mirror. The sink. The floor. The counter. Everything was covered in peanut butter.

Do you know how easily peanut butter wipes off porcelain and tile surfaces? No? That’s because it doesn’t. It kind of smears all over and you go through 1,200 Lysol wipes and then you maybe go a little crazy and think that padlocks and leashes sound like a fabulous idea.

Sigh.

Why do I even bother?

 

Top 9 Christmas presents for a pregnant woman.

It seems to be baby season right now. I currently know 4 pregnant women, 3 of whom are repeat offenders, but for the last one, it’s her first time.

Side note: So dang exciting! I kind of love watching other couples experience the joy/wonder/paralyzing fear that is first time parenthood.

Sadly, two of these ladies are experiencing pregnancy the way I did the first time: persistent, nearly relentless nausea, pain, and indescribable fatigue. Pregnancy is so magical.

In an attempt to be a wonderfully supportive, loving husband, future Daddy went out to buy his lady some bubbly beverages to tame her tumultuous tummy. (I like the alliteration there.) Seltzer is her thing, so he got a myriad of flavors: Boston cream pie, rum punch, and pomegranate.

As soon as he proudly listed off the things he bought his honey, I nearly gagged. Nothing related to Boston cream pie should be mentioned with severe nausea. I took a look at her, and she gazed ever so lovingly at him and said, “You’re joking, right?”

First time dads are the best. They have no idea what to do with the woman they love so much, carrying the baby they love so much, who now throws up as often as she pees. Sometimes simultaneously.

For all the soon-to-be dads, I’ve put together a handy list for you to abide by. It’s probably in your best interest not to venture outside this list.

Also, a disclaimer: pregnancy is different for everyone. You should probably check with your love before doing any of these. One woman’s craving is another woman’s uncontrollable vomiting.

  1. Ask her what she can eat/drink. Purchase only those things. If she says chicken flavored Ramen noodles, do not buy beef. She didn’t say beef, and it’s probably because beef makes her hurl. If she says blue Powerade (that was my only drinkable substance with Goo), don’t get any other color. You’ll thank me later.
  2. Understand when she’s tired. Every. single. time. She slept 16 hours yesterday and needs a nap? You bet your bippy she does. That little gumball-sized parasite miracle is sucking the life out of her right now so she can grow another one. Just get her a blanket, and let her sleep.
  3. Don’t say anything stupid.
  4. Take on the tasks she can’t handle right now. For nine months, your wife may experience unimaginable sickness, exhaustion, aching, insomnia, shortness of breath, and other crap. You can handle the dishes. When I was pregnant with Smush, I had hyperemsis. Puking 12 times a day was not unusual. I ended up at the hospital for dehydration after spending two straight days vomiting nothing but my own bile. Related, the smell of sponges made me vomit when I stepped into the kitchen. I threw them out after a couple uses. This irritated the Nerd. You know what irritated me? Crawling from room to room because I had to hold a bowl with me to puke in while I walked. Throw out the stupid sponge. Or whatever item your lady asks you to, regardless of how absurd it may seem.
  5. Buy her one slammin’ maternity shirt. Something that she’ll feel pretty in no matter how big she gets.
  6. Tell her she’s beautiful every single day. When we watch our bodies explode and morph like some alien has taken over – because it kind of has – we need to hear that you guys still think we’re the bee’s knees. Even if we say we don’t.
  7. Two words: back. rub.
  8. Watch the same chick flick 100 times if she wants to. I watched Nine Months like it was my job when I was pregnant the first time. This made absolutely no sense to the Nerd. Insider tip: Nothing about pregnancy makes sense except the actual baby.
  9. Buy her the good stuff, if you can. Pregnancy also induces rhinitis (runny noses), bleeding gums, and changes in hair consistency. Get her the lotion-y tissues so her nose doesn’t get sore, the soft tooth-brush so her mouth isn’t a bloody mess, and the fancy conditioner so she can relish in the fact that her hair is the thickest it will ever be in her life. If she’s miserable, the least she should get is hair that looks like it came off a salon poster.

Stocking stuffers on a budget.

Remember how our Christmas always tends to look a little…underfinanced? It looks like that again this year. So once again, I’m putting my thinking cap on and coming up with creative ways to make Christmas morning cheap magical. I always stress about the gifts under the tree, until I stop and realize how insanely expensive it can get to stuff 3 stockings (the Nerd and I generally only do something small for each other, if anything, and we never do stockings). This year, I am determined to make those stockings gloriously stuffed for a very, very low price tag. And because I’m putting off mopping the floors I like you guys so much, I’m sharing my ideas with you.

  • Two words: Dollar. Store. My favorites are the packs of multiples: bubbles, cars, other small toys – anything that can be divided up between the kids.
  • Favorite way-too-expensive-for-regular-grocery-runs items. My kids love pomegranate, but they aren’t a regular since they’re like $2 each and require a lot of prep work. I’m kind of a wash and eat girl when it comes to the girls’ snacks. Bonus: big pieces of fruit fill lots of empty stocking space for very little cash. (Alternative: junk food you don’t normally let them have. Punkin gets really excited about white bread. Weird.)
  • Stuff they need anyway: toothbrushes, socks, sparkle underpants, hair elastics, pencils, shampoo, you get the idea. My kids get excited over EVERYTHING, so I can totally get away with this. Going to the dentist is practically a holiday for them because they get new toothpaste and a bouncy ball.

    English: Lysol products on a Costco store shelf.

    Look! It’s a bottle of brightly colored, super fun cleaning solution! Merry Christmas! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Freebie coupons: family movie night, ice cream date with Daddy, play date with a friend of their choice, you pick what we eat for dinner, etc.
  • Discount bins: Please, for the love of your bank account, peruse discount bins everywhere. I hit up the back to school clearance at the end of September and snagged stocking stuffers for 50 cents a piece.
  • Homemade stuff: Pinterest has so. many. ideas for cheap homemade gifts. [This is where the Nerd rolls his eyes until he sees the finished product and eats the amazing recipe I just pinned.] I have lots of ideas for homemade/cheap gifts pinned already, including some I’m working on for Punkin. If you aren’t following me yet, you can by clicking the Pinterest link on the top of the column to the right.
  • Random things you need but they’ll get excited over anyway: I bought a packet of yellow sponges for Smush. She’s obsessed with the color yellow, and got so excited in the grocery store cleaning aisle the other day, I’m totally throwing in a package for her. Bonus: she actually cleans things with them. Because they’re yellow. Winning.

If you have other cheap – I mean frugal – holiday ideas, please share them with me! I’m lacking in the creativity department and I love recommendations from others. I’m kind of obsessed with Christmas so we tack on new traditions and ideas every year for our little family. Happy bargain hunting!

If moms wrote all the New Year’s resolutions.

I’ve never been one for big New Year’s celebrations. I think I’m so utterly drained after Christmas, I’m just kinda like, “Meh. It’s another day. There’s a big ball. Lots of people proving they can, indeed, count backwards. Whatever.”

New Year’s resolutions are kind of a joke, too. Moms frequently want to put “Make more time for myself,” on that list. You and I both know that ain’t happening until the pitter patter of little feet is made as they pack up the car to leave for college.

But I think the reason these resolutions are so often an epic FAIL is that there’s no genius behind them. Natural fix for that? Let the moms do the writing. Oh. heck. yes. Because we know what’s best for everyone, and if they would just listen to us we wouldn’t need so much wine coffee therapy alone time.

I came up with a brief list of mediocre resolutions for the family. Feel free to use these as you see fit.

And from my Mediocre family to yours, Happy New Year!