Category Archives: Mothering

Just Some More Sitcom Material

When I’m lying in bed at night trying to drift off to sleep I often go through the day’s experiences in my head and many times I laugh out loud and think, “Omigosh, that thing that happened today with Case and the farm and poop or  the butter and the mailman (or whatever the funny mishap/conversation may be) – that would really make for some good TV.”  So in honor of the imaginary sitcom I’m writing nightly in my head,  here’s a little tid bit from yesterday (and also a prime example of how men are really good listeners… (if a sarcasm font existed, that last phrase would have been written in it).)

I had just finished regaling Brian with our detailed plans for the morning (coincidently, I had just showered, which as we all know is a feat in and of itself) and I turn to him finally and say,

” So, what do you think?”

pause. pause. pause.

“You look great babe.  You don’t need to change,” he responds, looking me up and down.

To which I respond (looking puzzled), “Did you not hear anything I just said?”

To which he responds, “Uh, no.  But I figured my response would cover the bases…”

To which I respond before anything more is said –  “UGH.”

Brian is not the first or last man to dole out a go-to ‘can’t hurt?’ phrase when confronted with the fact that they’ve just been caught NOT LISTENING!

How to teach your man to listen – is anyone writing about that? Podcasting about it?  I’m going to google it.

Until then, Brian suggests I make more girlfriends.  They’re better listeners, he says.

He is so smart.

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Pooped

As many of you already know, I am not very shy when it comes to talking about anything involving bowels and their movements; my own and those belonging to my family/close friends (even sometimes acquaintances). And, because I laughed out loud (by myself) after today’s experience, I figured for those of you equally comfortable talking about poop (and dealing with it too – which is most moms, I’d venture to guess) well, you might find it funny too. Disclaimer: I am about to regale you all with story about poop – if that’s not something you can stomach (or frankly don’t want to!), stop reading as I do get a little graphic with my descriptions.

This tale is not about my own poop. Rather, it’s about the poop of my two sick bambinos. Last night was a bit of horror in that no one really got any quality sleep due to congestion, coughing (both Case and Claire) and diarrhea (on Claire’s part), so, like a good YMCA childcare user, I sacrificed my workout this morning for the better of everyone’s children and kept the kiddos at home. However, by 9:30 am, we were antsy, so I decided to take another trip to Blue Bird Gap Farm with the kids (we had just been there last night!). This is my new favorite spot to venture to, by the way, as its small enough to see a lot without having to trek too far to each section, but big enough to make if feel like its a special trip (oh and it’s FREE).

We were having a grand-old-time gawking at the noisy ducks and turkeys, feeding the goats and two lively alpacas (which Case kept referring to as ‘Elmos’ – not sure why!?) and reaching our hands over the fence (and then being hoisted by moi) to pet the horses and cows, when I realized that we were approaching the witching moment – the moment where the pleasant, idyllic morning turns into frenzied-must-get-home-to-feed-them-lunch-before-they-turn-into-crazy-people (also the exact moment that I curse myself for not restocking my diaper bag chock full of snacks to postpone inevitable ‘hanger’ (hunger and anger together – something we experience a lot in our house). But we hadn’t yet made it to the perfectly Case and Claire-sized-playground where I had planned to work play with Case on some stairs and try and squeeze in the morning PT (and let Claire do her thing). So I quickly herded the cats kids over to the playground and excitedly spoke of what fun it would be to climb up those stairs and slide down that slide (four or five times in row).

The two began climbing and Claire made it to the top first where I hurriedly ran over to make sure she was, in fact, going to go down the slide in a manner which didn’t involve her landing on her head (and good thing because she was preparing slidetakeoff in what I like to refer to (for Case) as “Superman style” (head first on belly)). [Side note: Sometimes we force him to go down that way so that when he gets to the bottom he has to use his arms and core to get himself off (arms are very weak and core the same).] I quickly repositioned her to go feet first on belly (I don’t have a fun name for that mode of slidetransport) and in the time it took me to do that, Case still hadn’t yet made it to the top. When I went back to coax him up the rest of the way I smelled why. Now, as another sidenote, we are doing VERY well potty-training (if I keep on top of it, which I’ve gotten accustomed to doing) and Case rarely poops anywhere but the toilet. Not today, people, not today. And this was not just any old poop. It was sick poop. The worst kind of smell, so terrible it makes me a little gaggy just thinking about it (and that’s saying nothing of it’s runny (yet sticky?) consistency). Ok, I’m getting a little graphic even for me. Anyway, it was bad. Luckily, I had had the presence of mind to bring the stroller with me, therefore I strapped Claire in and marched (well, he waddled) to the… we’ll call them facilities. Now mind you, this farm has no admission (it’s free, remember!) – it’s part of the Hampton Parks and Recreation commission, so while it is a really great local outing destination it does lack in the arena of amenities/facilities. The bathroom was not only very small, it was very hot and without any air conditioning. So, picture this: we’re now hangry, poop-covered (well, Case anyway), and hot. And, as I’m beginning to pull down his pants I realize that we are being swarmed by flies and I think, duh, we’re on a farm, of course there are flies swarming – I might as well be cleaning up manure in here. Anywho, I get Case out of his poop-covered shorts and undies and into an alternate pair (I always have one extra change for each of them – one extra change, that’s it. Keep that mind.) and then I promptly toss his soiled stuff in the ziploc that his change of clothes was in (handy dandy). I realize half-way through clean up that Claire is crying (not only because she’s hot and hangry) but because she too is being swarmed by flies because she too has done the deed in her own pants, well diaper. Thankfully, it was in a diaper.

So I get Case finished, plop him in the stroller (he considers this a treat) and then move on to what seemed like a whiz – a regular old diaper change – sans diarrhea, just a little turd (or I believe as I referred to it while chatting with them – a turdlet, “Ooo, thank goodness, Claire’s only got a turdlet!” (or something like that)).

Finally we finish and I wash everyone’s hands (again taking turns strapping them in the stroller to do so) in order to get off both poop and any extra animal saliva I inevitably missed after we’d fed our friends. The kids are relieved to be out of the bathroom and excited to head back to the playground, I decide (stupidly) that we’ll do one more trip up the stairs and down the slide and then we’ll skid addle. This time, Claire heads to slide (she often prefers – like many climbers do – to go up the slide and down the stairs) and Case heads to the stairs. I’m watching both and am relieved when I see both reach the top at the same time. Now to get Case down the slide and Claire perhaps to follow and we’ll leave. Nope. I smell it again. I check my hands thinking, how could I have possibly missed poop on my hands (I washed them three times!) and then I glance at poor Case. His eyes say, “Really sorry, Mom,” but his body is headed for the seated position to get down that slide (once and for all!). I grab him before he has the opportunity to sit in his mess and think to myself – I really should always bring two changes of clothes. I strap Claire back in the stroller while I try to make sure Case doesn’t sit in his mess and this time, I head straight for the car. Lucky for Case my new yoga mat was in the trunk so I pop open the trunk and lay it out. Claire is now crying in a fit of hanger so I attempt to divert her attention with her water bottle while I hoist Case into the trunk and as I’m doing that I realize this poop (poop number 2) has not been contained by his undies and shorts. Oh no. It is now down his legs and pooling in his little Keens. I gag. I’m usually pretty good, but this was just nasty. The poop smell coupled with Claire’s now screaming just about sent me over the edge until I realized this will be funny when I share it with others and you will laugh after its all over so suck-it-up-sista. Which I did.

Lucky for me, I had an old pull-up in the diaper bag so Case got to go home pantsless (and shoesless for that matter) but not before he stuck his hand onto his poop-ridden leg and wiped it on my new mat (my brand new mat!). Luckily the movement of the car lulled the two into a state of diarhea induced exhaustion (but not sleep, so naps were not compromised!) that is until I smelled the smell again as I was pulling into the driveway and realized Case had gone once more. The diaper did a much better job of containing than his other bottoms but not quite good enough so his carseat cover needed to be washed (little did I know I’d just be able pop it into the load I’d be doing later containing his poop-soiled bedsheets after his nap!) Thankfully, Brian was home when we arrived (again poop-covered) and was able to scoop up Case while I quickly got Claire something to eat and after one of the quickest lunches ever eaten, both kids went down for naps. Sweet relief cause I was pooped (pun intended).

In the event of your own pooptastrophe, repeat over and over in your head :

Someone will think this is funny.

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Our Top 6 Favorite Pieces of Baby Gear (Age: 0-6 mos.)

I decided to do a series of posts on gear because recently I’ve been trying to assess what products we’ve used most  (now after two very different babies), in hopes of helping my anticipatory momma-to-be friends who are trying to figure out what they ‘need’. There was so much stuff we’d heard we wouldn’t be able to ‘live without’ that we bought before Case and never used with either of them, that I wanted to sit down and really think of what it is we actually did use so others don’t waste their money like we did.   I’ve organized it by price and age here and limited  the list to our top six lower price-point items for the kids when they’re young (age 0-6 months).  The next post will  be mostly bigger ticket items (i.e. strollers and carseats) and then lastly a post on items we’re using for our toddler (think shoes, feeding items, and some must have toys).  I think I’ve narrowed it down and hopefully organized it in a way that makes sense for all you shopping mommas out there.  


Our Lower price-point necessities:

1. Hooter hider (we used the original Hooter Hider because we got it as a gift) but I’ve seen many a great-looking knock-off with lots of really fun prints.  I recommend getting two because if you’ve got a baby with reflux you know you’re going to be washing that thing like twice a day (and that’s if you don’t leave the house…)

2.  Bouncy seat.  I remember my mom calling these Sassy seats and that’s because Sassy made them back then, but now everyone makes them and ours is Fisher Price.  These are handy for having a place to put new baby wherever you are (ie, kitchen -cooking, laundry room – endlessly folding teeny tiny things, bathroom – you get the idea).  When they figure out they can bounce these things on their own (Case never figured it out, but Claire did) they become extra entertaining and you may even get 20 min. of uninterrupted time to complete something!

3. Receiving blankets.  Seems silly to include these here, but we used them for everything and always had at least one in the diaper bag and two in the car.  They’re light so you can really tuck them in places you might need.  From using them as changing pads to burp cloths to even wipes (ok, we were in a bind! – DON’T JUDGE) – they’re handy.  We got neutral colored ones with Case (tans and greens) and used them for Claire too (not the one we used to wipe his butt, I thought you might go there…).  Doesn’t matter what kind you buy, just make sure they’re all cotton and dont’ have embroidered designs on them (kids don’t like that stuff near their faces and you’ll inevitably always have to flip it if you do get an embroidered one ’cause it will always wind up near their face!).

4. Bumbo We used the Bumbo with Case A LOT but with Claire she never really wanted to stay in it (always arched her back and tried to slide out – she’s not really great when sedentary).  But we used it so much with Case that I felt like I had to include it.  They say not to put them on the counter but I did, especially during dinner prep and he’d watch me happily.  I also fed him quite a bit in it as it was much easier to clean than the highchair (which I will not be including in our gear list because we DON’T like it, but we’re cheap and didn’t buy a different one because they’re expensive – also, my mother-in-law got three at yard sales so now that we live with them we always try to put the kids in those).  Case had difficulty sitting up in highchairs (without the help of multiple towels), so the Bumbo was always a good option because he sat better in it.  (We did end up using a feeder chair with Case from especialneeds.com for a while which really helped too, we got in on loan from Early Intervention in NC).  And we even put the Bumbo in the bath, but after we did that it was pretty much used for only the bath because it never really dried out.  Needless to say at this point but the options for the Bumbo are endless!  Get the tray.

5.  Diaper Bag – Ok, here is where I feel like I can give a really great recommendation. For Case I had a really cute Kate Spade bag that I got on Ebay but I ended up stuffing it and never being able to find anything, but I used it because I’d spent more money on it than I should have and I did think it was cute.  When I got pregnant with Claire I knew that I needed to get something that would allow me to be more organized (plus, who am I kidding, I only wear nike shorts and tank tops or yoga pants half the time, so it doesn’t really need to be that cute!).  I ended up getting the Skip Hop Duo Double Deluxe (because my girlfriend, Kendra had one and it looked like it could hold EVERYTHING!) but as it turns out, if I’ve got the room I’m apt to stuff it full and because this bag is literally bigger than both my kids put together, I ended up lugging around way more than I should have.  But I did like certain aspects of it: like the zipper top pocket (good for snacks that you don’t want your kids to see or your cell phone so you know it’s not going anywhere).  I also like the side mesh pocket for drinks (inevitably drinks spill/leak and I hate cleaning up the insides of pockets!) and its all washable (as any diaper bag should be).  So instead of lugging around the big one I decided to buy the smaller one (the first link: Diaper Bag) called Skip Hop Duo Deluxe.  It’s got all the things I liked about the big double without being enormous! And although it’s not very glamorous it does come in a variety of colors (although I ended up getting it in black because black goes really well with nike shorts) and on the vast price spectrum of diaper bags it’s relatively low and still good quality.  Like most everything else I buy lately, I got in on Amazon.com.

6.Boppy – I almost forgot to include this which is crazy because we use it CONSTANTLY.  It comes in most handy at night when you’re nursing a baby and you’re dead tired and really all you want to do is put your baby on your boob and ‘forget about it’.  Boppy makes this possible.  Get two covers, trust me.

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How to get your kid to eat (in our case, drink) vegetables…

I’ve been giving out our smoothie recipe lately because, as it turns out, I’m friends with lots of women who have toddler-aged children and we’re all struggling with how to get our kids to eat the things we don’t even like to eat (sometimes).  I’m talking about vegetables.

Since I got pregnant with Case (almost 3 years ago) we’ve been making these smoothies and have tweaked and re-tweaked the ingredients until we’ve gotten it down to a recipe that we both (and now Case) can agree is both delicious and nutritious!  Case drinks about 12 oz. of it daily  and we both get about 8-10 oz each.

A couple of years ago, my parents gave us a Vitamix (actually, I believe the card was only addressed to Brian, but I digress), which has significantly expedited our morning smoothie-making.  If you have some extra change lying around and can afford a Vitamix, we highly recommend it as it’s pretty awesome.  The thing can make peanut butter from peanuts in seconds – neato, huh?

Ok, back to the SMOOTHIE INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups of baby spinach (we buy the big bags from Costco then transfer them into the boxes (plastic) from the grocery, as the spinach keeps longer in the boxes)

3 large carrots  – cleaned and chopped into manageable blending sizes (no real need to do this with the Vitamix, but for other regular blenders its key to have the carrots blended evenly so it’s not lumpy)

3 bananas

2 1/2 cups orange juice

After we add these top 3 ingredients, we blend until smooth and then add the following:

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries

1/2 cup of apple juice

Then we blend it again for  1 minute until smooth ,it should look a little ripply on top with some bubbles (similar to those that appear when making pancakes).

When I was pregnant with Case and Claire we added flax seed, but otherwise we’ve pretty much stayed true to this recipe as it’s consistency is pretty near perfect and it lasts in a nalgene for at least two days in the refrigerator.

Case slurps it right up and Claire (as of today, after she stole the straw cup from her brother and gulped it down) likes it too!

We do still try to get Case to eat vegetables (he doesn’t mind them if we put a pinch of sea salt on them!) and of course Claire eats mostly veggies as that’s all I’m really making for her (thanks to the Baby Bullet my MIL got for $15 at Big Lots!). But on the days that I don’t push the veggies, at least I know they’re getting something from our smoothie.

How do you get your kids to eat veggies?

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Working Weekend

Claire loving the splash park

Case avoiding the splash park

Sleepy Claire with Daddy at Walmart (no one really likes grocery shopping…)

For stay-at-home-moms with young children (my only experience is with children 2 1/2 and younger) Saturdays and Sundays are often very similar to the other days of the week.  We wake up, not when our alarm goes off, but when one of our children’s content babblings turn into full-blown screaming.  We put on our ‘work’ clothes or what I refer to as my uniform (also it’s not hot) – nike running shorts, a sports bra and a tank top.  And except for the presence of our significant other there  to <perhaps> participate in childrearing/keeping one eye on child while also browsing the internet while sitting on the couch, these days off are like most every other day.

Since Brian has been living in DC during the week however, our Saturdays and Sundays have definitely been more special and different.  The weekends have turned into a time for us to reconnect as a family unit and for Brian to get as much lovin’ in as he can on these kids before he leaves for five more days.  Also, I allow him to get as much lovin’ in on me as he can too.

The weekends have become more special and different, but also pretty trying too. Mostly because, and I feel bad even thinking this, let alone actually writing on here for the world to see (but I’m doing it anyway…)- I just want to be alone! I miss my husband and our family time, but  I don’t want to reconnect as a family unit for two days straight .  I want to disconnect (for at least two hours) and be alone.  Come Friday afternoon,  I ache for someone who shares (equally) the responsibiltiy for our children, so, for example, if I have to pee, I don’t have to leave the door open and hope that no one falls and gets a concussion or worse while I’m relieving myself!  Or, if I need to shower I don’t need to plan it days in advance and write it down on my to-do list (alright people, I can sense judgement brewing and yes, you’re right, hygiene should probably be higher on my priorities list – maybe when my husband lives with me it will be bumped up since, as many of you know personally, he does not have a filter and will certainly let me know if my odor or greasy hair is bothering him).

Brian, I have to admit, is very understanding of my need for alone time now (now that he’s moving home in less than two weeks!) and tries to offer it to me when he can.   He wakes up at 6 a.m. with Claire and offers to ‘babysit’ while I go run errands (by myself). [Side note – when you’re watching your OWN kids, it’s not called babysitting, it’s called parenting.] But, since he’s only home for a short time I feel guilty not being with him (also, I like hanging out with him ’cause I picked him to spend the rest of my life with, ya know). But I get overwhelmed when I layer in all that we try to accomplish with Case (while one of us is giving him our undivided attention) on the weekends and my accompanying mommy guilt about not working enough with him and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some prime self-loathing. This balancing act of trying to be a good wife, mother and oh, yeah, just be myself, you know, Caitlin? – It’s hard!

So, although my weekends are no longer a ‘real’ break from my ‘work week’, at least in the same way they were when I worked outside the home and didn’t have kids, they are special and they’re really good when I get both my alone time AND my family quality time.

Anyone else sympathize with the ‘working weekend’ rut?  What do you do to mix it up on the weekends and find balance?

<<P.S.  Yes, Brian is done with his work in DC and is moving back to Yorktown to work on his next steps for his entrepreneurial pursuits!  He will be home by the end of next week.  And just in the nick of time too as Case has taken to picking up anything that looks even remotely like a phone (like the TV remote), holding it up to his ear and saying, “Daddy”. I’m so looking forward to a time when Case doesn’t associate Daddy with phone calls!>>

He’s fine

We’ve had a lot of people concerned about Case given my second to last post that included all the gory photos of his head wound (I’ll stop wondering, now, why people perhaps may have been worried).

He’s fine.  Fine like when we tell him he’s fine when he accidentally trips in the grass and falls on his cushioned bum and doesn’t hurt himself, or wakes up in the middle of night for no reason and cries, or fine like when his sister takes whatever toy he has in the weak grip of his hands.  He is just fine.

He’s also handsome, as ever.

Image

Ok, so two things of note in the photo above:

1.  His wound is on the left side of his head (on the right in the photo) and is covered very well by his long hair, but it is small and has healed perfectly!

2.  He’s wearing big boy undies!  We’re in the midst of potty training.  Good news is I can’t remember the last time I changed one of his poopy diapers.  Bad news is I can very vividly remember (ahem, yesterday) when I took him upstairs to take off his wet undies and get on a new pair.  And since he’s not so great with  communicating, I’m doing a lot of just sitting him on the potty and….. waiting……….

Patience is one of the highest virtues.

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The Happiness Advantage

Lately I’ve found myself thinking like a glass-is-half-empty-kind-of-girl and that doesn’t really jive with my normally sunny disposition.

After all, friends (and my husband) are always telling me how much they miss my laugh (me too!).

Brian sent me the this link to a podcast: The Happy Secret to Better Work  a few days ago and not only did I laugh out loud while watching it (Shawn Anchor has some pretty good comedic timing for a Harvard guy!) but I found myself thinking about it afterwards and making yet another  fake-lent-resolution to practice at least one of his steps in creating lasting positive change.  Those steps are:

1.  Three gratitudes – At the end of the day writing down at least three things for which you’re grateful

2.  Journaling – spending time writing to yourself daily

3.  Exercise –  of the physical kind – enough to work up a sweat and feel like you’ve accomplished something

4. Meditation – having more than a moment when you’re disconnected (from everything!)

5.  Random acts of kindness – even if it’s writing a coworker an email on a job well done

The key to practicing these exercises is to do them every day for at least 21 days (you know, however long ‘they’ve’ found it takes to form a habit).  So my goal from this post forward is continue practicing the  physical exercise step (perhaps making it even more regular with doing something active EVERY day) but also adding another step (i.e. gratitudes, or random acts of kindness) to the mix.

As soon as this Shawn Anchor spoke of the random acts of kindness I immediately  thought of my good friend, Lea, who practices many of the steps already.

She’s been known to swing by my house (when we lived close (big sad face!)) and bring me a Starbucks (grande soy salted caramel mocha, no whip (ahem, there’s a reason my husband is concerned Claire might be high maintenance)) and a new pair of earrings, or I’d come out to my car from grocery shopping and there’d be a note on it saying she’d been at the bank and seen my car and just wanted to say hi or constantly paying for our big girl’s nights out (and not just me, but for all the girlfriends) and yes she’s got the bucks to do it, but she’s no millionaire and it’s that kind of random kindness that seems to give her her happiness advantage, but also makes the people around her happier too.

And I’d say, one of the biggest things I struggle with with my kids every day is trying to stay positive so that they’re positive.  If you’re a mom, you get it.  When I’m frustrated that Case is taking an inordinate amount of time to get out of his bed or get down the stairs, he senses my frustration and lack of patience and it makes it more difficult for him (not only is it hard to do that stuff but now Mom’s frustrated that I’m taking too long and I don’t want to do it anymore so I’m going to sit down and cry (I assume is what’s going on in his head)).

But I know that even if he were a normally developing kid I’d get frustrated with him (he is in his terrible twos!) and my lack of patience/frustration would have the same affect.  Both he and Claire are so attuned to my mood that it’s imperative I give myself the skills to not get so frustrated because at the end of the day I’m not the only one that’s affected by my unhappiness.  And especially for Case,  I believe when he feels like he’s got a momma who’s (more times than not) positively motivating him,  it really makes a difference is his progress.  For a kid who’s not self-motivating (yet!), my positive energy goes a long way.

So in order to ensure I keep this gig up (of being a positive force and source of motivation), I’m going to start writing down three things I’m grateful for each day (even if one of those things is my  grande soy salted caramel mocha, no whip) as well as practicing one random act of kindness (just like my friend, Lea) and emails to coworkers, as Shawn suggests, won’t do here as Case doesn’t check his email too frequently and Claire doesn’t even have a smart phone, pfff.

I’ll keep you posted.  Literally.

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