Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pregnancy Insights: Friends with kids ROCK

My vision for this blog is to have posts about kids, and also to have posts about how the kids got here in the first place. Wait, nooooo, I am not about to start detailing what goes on behind closed doors with my husband. 

Uh, my apologies to those of you who thought I was and just became slightly excited (barf). 

Anyway... I am referring to pregnancy. I don't know about the rest of you, but when I learned of my first pregnancy, I didn't (and probably still don't) know shit about pregnancy and babies. Nope, I wasn't 16 and unmarried. I was in my mid-20s and married for over two years. 

And, not knowing anything about being pregnant, I was about to be surprised - a lot. And I was about to learn - a lot. If I could possibly spare someone else those surprises and give them a jump on what I had to figure out as I went along by sharing on my blog from time to time, then I'll feel good about that. So begins my little series about pregnancy. I truly hope some people benefit in some way from what I'll be sharing, because, well, that's my purpose here. 

And if you already know this stuff, then I hope you can laugh and reminisce as you read. I completely welcome comments, questions, and additional nuggets of wisdom if you want to share them. I would love that!

Back to finding out I was pregnant, a little background here: We weren't trying to become pregnant and had zero intentions of having a baby anytime soon when we found out that in fact, we were having one (what’s that saying? Make plans, God laughs?). In fact, upon hearing the news, my husband made some crack about breaking out the champagne. I was thinking more along the lines of a gun. Yes, I was stoked to become unexpectedly pregnant!

So anyway, I did what made sense to me: I called my gynecologist’s office. I figured they'd see me soon, confirm the pregnancy, and give me my list of dos and don'ts. (Yes, I can hear the snickers from the veteran moms, along with my own.)

Much to my surprise, they do not want to see you right away. Special circumstances aside, they want to wait until you are about 8-9 weeks along to see you, given the high chance of miscarriage in those first couple of months. 

I about died. I mean, here I am, freaking out, not sure what the hell is going on, needing to see a doctor and find out what in God’s name I am supposed to do next. I know there are things you are supposed to do (take prenatal vitamins) and things you are definitely NOT supposed to do (like drink copious amounts of alcohol) while pregnant, but what about those little things?

Can I clean the toilet with those harsh cleaning agents, or did I just get a free pass on that disgusting chore for the next nine months? What am I supposed to eat? What am I NOT supposed to eat? How strenuously may I exercise? Why am I so tired? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE???

So, this brings me to the primary point of this particular post: Do NOT be the first of your friends to have babies. Those friends with kids that you feel so sorry for and haven’t spoken to since the day they got pregnant because you couldn’t stand to hear the word “baby” one more time (or was that just me?) - they are now your New Best Friends. 

Those precious trailblazers are an INVALUABLE resource, a regular fount of information and you will be calling them 12 times a day. So don’t BE the trailblazer, as the only person you’ll be able to ask for any kind of information will be your mom, whose information is so outdated that it rarely applies, and who didn’t have the same resources we now have, like ultrasounds and prenatal testing, so in other words, she’ll have no idea what you are talking about (You will be educating her. Sorry, Mom. Love you!). 

Then you’ll be forced to befriend other pregnant women or new mommies in those horrifying mommy groups, and trust me, you have enough to deal with without that nightmare entering your life. (My apologies to those who actually enjoy their mommy group. I've never taken to them. Obviously.) 

So, I established an open connection to my good friend Mandibular, who was at the time mom of 2, now of 3. In case you didn't pick this up: I'm not using her real name. But that IS her real nickname. I'm a strange person. So is my dad, who actually gave her that nickname. Long story.

Anyway, Mandibular unfortunately lives in another state, but the phone worked just fine. It got to the point that I started calling her Doctor Dibs (another nickname- I won’t bother to explain) and I’m pretty sure she cowered in dread every time her phone rang. I’ve never asked her how many times she considered changing her phone number, but I’m sure it was A LOT. 

However, she toughed it out and was/is a fabulous source of information and for that, I am eternally grateful. I also glommed onto my bestie, A-dog (you guessed it, another nickname!), who had just had her first bundle of occasional joy (just teasing, Roo Roo, you’re the best and one of the few kids I like and I have three boys for you to chose from come getting married time). 

I am not kidding you, those friends with kids are more precious than gold. They're almost as good as someone who is willing to take your kids, for free, for the entire day. Unless they are that someone. Then, they are more than a friend. They are a saint.

So, friends with kids rock. They've kept me informed since before my very first prenatal appointment, and continue to be a valuable resource to this day. And we also serve as each others' therapists. We'll call each other after a particularly hard day or trip to the store with our kids, instead of driving the car off a ledge in some kid-induced insanity craze.

And I have great respect for those who were the first to have kids and didn't really have other friends or family to help them out. I don't know how you did it. Apparently, I'm a wuss.

Fortunately, I am comfortably ensconced in the middle, where I have trailblazer friends, and I still have friends who have yet to have babies, therefore allowing me to pass on my nuggets of wisdom (at least in my mind) as well as all the baby crap I have accrued. Win. 

So don't ditch your kid-less friends; you'll want someone to pass that stuff on to. And to pay it forward with in the helping-out department. I love being part of this Mama chain, in which I am reaching one hand up to those who have "been there", and one hand out to those who are "getting there". 

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kids can put my potty mouth to shame

Kids start out speaking with some pretty severe speech deficiencies, and they end up swearing like little truckers before they even know what a trucker is. Or should I say, "fwucker"? 

With a 3- and 1-year-old in our house, we are in the thick of this frustrating and embarrassing phase. If they're not inadvertently swearing, we're trying to decipher their foreign language like a couple of tourists in a strange land, except we're in our all-too familiar land of diapers, boogers, and weird skin rashes. 

Connor is getting significantly better in his language skills, but the poor guy was previously so hard to understand that his pediatrician actually sent him for a hearing test (which he passed) to see if he wasn't hearing well, and therefore wasn't hearing words correctly and then struggling with saying them correctly. Thankfully his older brother could somehow understand what he was saying and quite often had to interpret for us. But in the meantime, we got some pretty crazy mispronunciations out of him. 

So, I dug out the 12-year-old in me (it wasn't hard to find) and listed some of these delightfully inappropriate mispronunciations my little potty mouths have spewed out, plus I asked around and got mispronunciations from other moms, dads, and grandparents. Some are ones that probably every kid has mispronounced, but for the eternal sixth grader in me and perhaps some of you, they're still inappropriately and embarrassingly funny.

The faint of heart should probably stop reading here.

Correct Word/Phrase (CW) and Mispronunciation (MP):

CW: salt and pepper
MP: suck pecker
Connor rocked this one at dinnertime. It was so amazing to hear my just-turned three-year-old say "Mom, I want suck pecker". Every night.

CW: birdies
MP: boobies

CW: fish/fishes
MP: bitch/bitches

CW: peanuts
MP: penis
*This one was fun the time Connor was on an amusement park ride, I was sitting on a bench waiting for him and ate a couple of his peanuts. He saw me and started yelling, "Mom, stop eating my penis" not once, but over and over, at full volume.

CW: socks
MP: cocks

CW: sharks
MP: cocks
*Courtesy of a blog I came across and really like: 
CW: dwarfs
MP: Snow White and the Seven Whores

CW: shirt
MP: "Check out my shit"

CW: brother
MP: bra

CW: Victoria's Secret
MP: Porno Secret
*This little girl asked her Grandma, very loudly, while standing in the middle of the store if they were in Porno Secret. She isn't too far off the mark!

I've also noticed that there are many things that I have said to the boys lately that, if heard out of context, sound pretty bad. You know, the things you say then as soon as they're out of your mouth you're like, oh wait, that didn't sound very good....

Stop throwing your balls in my face!

Go play with your balls!

Please just eat your nuts.

To Brandon while playing outside: You like putting your stick in that hole? 

Hold still so I can stick it in! (Thermometer into an armpit)

Ethan: "I have a snake in my pants." (Errrr... yes. But in this particular instance, it was literally a toy snake.)

That's all that I could remember/squeeze out of others. Feel free to add yours to the list by commenting below!

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Brandon thinks tantrums will get him what he wants. He's wrong.

Brandon, at 16 months old, is learning the fine art of the temper tantrum. Such a delightful milestone. He's also learning pretty quickly that tantrums get him a first-class ticket on the train to Absolutely Nowhere. 

The other day he decided to throw one while leaving Ethan's school. Why, I couldn't possibly tell you, but I suspect it was because I didn't allow him to fall go down the 37 steps to the lower level area of the school, then cross over the sidewalk and run up the dirt path leading back up to the upper level. 

Anyway, once he realized that his dream of a concussion and broken arms was being thwarted by that fun-killing person he calls "daddy" (because that's the only word he knows how to say), It. Was. On.

You've all seen and heard it: the demonic screaming, followed by the arched back and kicking legs, then the sudden drop to the ground for more kicking and screaming, except that this time I was holding his hand, so he got a separated shoulder on his sudden drop to the ground (not really). He's still pretty young, so I helped him get settled on the ground and gently laid his head on the cement, then told him to be careful and looked around to find Connor. 

As if some tantrum fairy swooped in and waved her magical wand, he quickly stopped once he realized that not only had "daddy" helped him to the ground, she wasn't even looking at him. He laid on the ground for another 5 seconds or so, trying and failing to save some dignity by acting like he wanted to be laying on the filthy cement, then got up and we continued on our merry way. 

I really want to give thanks to all the people who have suggested ignoring tantrums. It works. 

At least, this time it did.

What else has worked for you?

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Remembrances of the Past: Episode 1

The other morning, I woke up all my own, a whopping three minutes before any of the boys did, instead of being ripped from sleep mid-dream, which is my daily morning start! After getting up and getting the boys settled with breakfast, I sat on the couch with my laptop and thought to myself, "What is this feeling?!? It's been so long since this has happened that I've completely forgotten what it feels like!"

What a difference it made to actually wake up on my own. Now this isn't to say that I hopped out of bed doing a happy jig, in a great mood and ready to start my day, but I wasn't immediately grumpy, tired and pissed off about it, while collapsing on the couch and doing my best to recapture sleep and pretending to live a different life while the boys watch a cartoon.

It even took a full 52 minutes before I got mad at one of them! Usually it's approximately 52 seconds since I'm not a morning person at all and my defenses and resiliency are especially low at that time. What a better start to a morning. Certainly better than the day before, when I was jerked out my dream by Connor and stumbled out of bed to the bathroom, where I sat down on a wet toilet seat. Not a good start to the day. Thanks boys, maybe someday your aim will improve.

Anyway, I remember the days of regularly and peacefully waking up on my own, relatively rested. They were nice. And something I definitely took for granted. One of many, many things I, when I was childless, took for granted.

If you now have children, what did you take for granted before you had kids? (I know the list can be endless.)

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Friday, January 6, 2012

The Honest Parent

I appreciate an honest parent. By "honest parent" I mean one who not only admits that they like "Yo Gabba Gabba" more than their kids do but who also is not afraid to admit that they struggle with some aspects of having kids. Some parents struggle more than others for various reasons, but I think it's safe to say that we ALL have challenging times, and we all have been driven to the edge of sanity by our kids, even if only for a moment. Or, in my case, on a regular basis. 

Either way, I can completely respect the fact that some people don't feel the need to share those moments, but what I can't stand is the parent who tries to make it sound like they love every little thing about being a parent, and their kids never drive them nuts, and gosh, isn't this just the best thing to ever happen to anyone? You know the type: "Little Mary just puked ALL OVER my car, and even managed to get some chunks in my face and mouth, which subsequently caused me to crash the car into a mini van, killing an entire family, and wow, this is amazing!" "Sweet Freddie just put a baseball through the neighbor's seven-thousand dollar picture window, what an ARM, and the baby hasn't slept longer than an hour at a time for two weeks, and man, I just LOVE this parenting thing! My kids are GREAT!" 

Those people freak me out, because I know they are lying. How do I know? Because I HAVE KIDS. While there are some totally awesome, heartwarming kid-raising times, there is the flip side, and nobody is fooling anybody when they try to make it sound like they don't experience the bad stuff. They're lying to themselves, and the rest of us, or they're even crazier than me. I seriously want to throw up in my mouth when I hear someone say that they love every second of being a parent.

I mean, let's get real. I have had perfect strangers (usually new parents) randomly tell me that they understand why people have killed their kids. This is always followed with the disclaimer that of course, they would never do it, but they understand the feeling of being driven to the brink of losing their self-control, whether from severe sleep deprivation, extreme stress, or a demon-child's devil antics, sometimes all at once. Even I admit that that's a pretty harsh thing to say, but if we're perfectly honest with ourselves, I think most of us recognize that we've been driven to the edge of the dark side. We're just lucky enough to have the filter that stops us, even if our hand does twitch slightly. 

Even worse is the parent who not only refuses to admit to the occasional struggle, but then judges others for having a hard time. This serves to make the judged parent feel even worse and like they are the only one when in fact, they are not. Not by a long shot. 

I prefer to be around the kind of parent who is okay with saying that they felt like dropping their kid off at the local adoption agency after a particularly rough week or day. Of course, they wouldn't actually do it, but I appreciate and respect the fact that they are willing to be honest (and make a joke) about the bad stuff. I have a clear memory (one of the few remaining after three pregnancies and kids) of my bestie's wedding dinner six years ago. Another friend just had her first baby and told us about, after a particularly hard day, telling her husband that if he didn't come get the baby from her, she was going to throw the baby out of the window. I didn't even have kids yet (I actually was newly pregnant and didn't yet know - or plan on - that, and was drinking... oopsie) but even I knew that was the true side of parenting and I appreciated and respected her honesty 100%. 

Let's be real. Let's be honest. I get that some people may not want to share their difficult times, but if someone expresses frustration or difficulty with their child, a simple, "I understand" is all that's required. And it can make a huge difference to the struggling parent. Please don't look at them like they're some kind of freak, especially if you secretly know exactly what they're saying.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fostering Independent Kids Part 2: My house the sweat shop

Recently, I posted part 1 of this series. Taking it a step further, I have no problem also putting my kids to work for me. Hence, my sweat shop. No not really, but basically, I don't have a problem asking the boys to help out every once in a while. They help put the laundry in the washer or dryer and help put it away, carry in grocery bags, and get me things like a diaper or whatever when I am too lazy to get up. We've even been asking Ethan to help change diapers since each of his brothers have come along, and he refuses. Damn it! And when I was hugely pregnant with his brothers, sometimes when I dropped something, he was asked to pick it up. Like hell if I was going to bend over any more than I absolutely had to. But I would thank him and tell him what a big help he was, and you could practically see him swell with pride. 

The one drawback to the practice of putting them to work is that I have to balance whether or not they are going to make more of a mess helping me out than if I just do it myself - like the time one of my besties said that her daughters put all the groceries away for her but now, every time she opened a cupboard door, stuff fell out. Talk about giving one a complex; I'd start getting anxiety every time I walked into the kitchen. I can't stand stuff flying at my face - freaks me the F out!

In my house, nobody is exempt from my sweat shop - even the 16-month-old helps out. He has helped me stock toilet paper by carrying rolls from where we store it in the garage into the bathrooms, and has grabbed towels from the drawer to clean up water that he spills. He's picking up very quickly that his free ride only goes so far. He also helps me "sweep" after he eats - I set him on the floor and he eats the food he dropped.

Gross? Sure. But considering that I have caught him sucking on filthy shoes, frankly I'm not really bothered by him eating food he drops on the floor. A floor that I mop "somewhat" regularly. And holy moly, look at how white his socks are! They must have been brand new.

So, moms and dads, don't miss out on this gem you have at the ready; put those kids to work! You'll thank yourself for it, and really, they'll love the sense of responsibility they feel. Little kids love to please and this is one awesome way to help them accomplish that. Besides, it's been repeatedly said that "it takes a village" to raise children. Well, Nate and I have a small village right here in our house (feels weird to say that given that we're not quite up to the Duggar family's numbers) and let me tell you, I understand that saying completely. Completely.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Holiday Recap

Salutations and welcome to 2012! I hope this year brings lots of fun and good craziness to your lives, because good craziness is really awesome. 

I was actually not being entirely accurate when I titled this post. It's not a "recap" because in this family, we don't celebrate most holidays on the actual holiday so get this, we still have two, yes TWO, Christmases to celebrate. So technically, it's not a recap. Not yet. But probably like the rest of you, I'm pretty much over the holidays and ready to welcome a great new year consisting of everyone's fear of world destruction, and Japan's earthquake on the very first day of the new year does NOT help. Man, I feel sorry for those guys. I don't really buy into the whole hoopla about the world ending this year but if I did, am I the only who thinks that that region will be the first to go? They've had some seriously bad luck lately with the natural disasters. 

Anyway, I'm speaking of the future and not the past like I am supposed to be. So back to the past. Essentially, aside from not feeling physically well for most of the month of December, it was a good holiday season. Here are the "highlights":

  • Brandon (1 y/o) got into the Christmas tree every day as expected. I knew he was going to and almost suggested not even bothering with the tree this year, but we got the tree and instead just didn't decorate the rest of the house. He only broke one ornament. A true Christmas miracle. 

  • I misaddressed my mom's Christmas card and present, so it came back in the mail, a week after Christmas. I remailed it (after triple-checking the correct house number) but she still doesn't have it. Man, I suck.

  • About 30% of the Christmas cards that I intend to mail out are still laying around my house. I am SO ON TOP of things!!

  • We still have two Christmases to go so I am positive that I am shooting myself in the foot here, but we managed to avoid receiving "the dreaded" kid toys this year! If you have kids, you know exactly what I am referring to: the ones with a thousand parts (the WORST), the ones that are capable of rendering you deaf, the ones you have to spend an arm and leg on buying the rest of the parts so they can actually use them, the ones that eat through eight batteries a week, and the ones that you know the kids are never going to play with. I have visions of the ones we've received in the past floating in my head as I write this, but since the gift-givers are probably going to read this at some point, I'll refrain from listing them. I want to, but I won't. Okay. An alphabet-block train (a thousand parts) and an art easel (spent more than the easel itself cost getting the paper, paints, brushes, etc.), for starters.

  • I abuse sugar like a drug addict abuses drugs. Sweets and baked goods are my crack cocaine. So I was in sugar and carbohydrate-induced heaven this past month, thanks to my mom's box of goodies that she mailed, and the couple of plates of assorted yummies that we received from Nate's mom and co-worker. Usually I pace myself and pass off the goods to the boys in no small effort to keep the extra pounds at bay, but this year I threw my skinny jeans to the wind and stuffed more cookies in my mouth as I stepped on the scale and inwardly cringed but outwardly shrugged as the sweet, sweet goodness went down the hatch. 

  • I picked up a new phrase from my brother-in-law over one of the Christmas celebrations. We were talking about how the boys get bored of/outgrow cartoons so I will randomly try new ones, and he referred to it as "time to change babysitters." Awesome. Purely awesome, and incredibly insightful for someone who does not yet have children. You will be reading that phrase on my blog in the future. Thanks, M.T.!! 

So Connor is sitting with me and took off his socks, and the awful smell of his feet is affecting my thinking ability. Consequently, I think I've covered the highlights but probably haven't, but I'm going to go ahead and post this anyway. And go bathe the boys, since I skipped that dreaded chore yesterday and Connor's feet are crying out for some soap.

What were your holiday highlights? Go ahead, get them off your chest and post them below!

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