Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm in love. LOVE. And I want you to be, too.

For several months now, Brandon has decided that his bedtime needs to be around 9:30 p.m. Which does not work for me since by about 8 p.m., as a mom, I'm DONE. I'm off the clock. Over it. Had enough.

It was a MIRACLE if I got him to bed at 9. A JOKE if I put him to bed any earlier. He would hang out in his crib, make a ton of noise, climb out of it, cry. I tried everything. Well, almost everything. I adjusted his nap schedule, woke him up early, rocked him, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Nothing worked.

It was annoying. Frustrating. Maddening. It was getting to the point where I kinda wanted to choke him out - just to make him pass out, not to kill him - each night to get him to sleep earlier. While it's obvious that I wouldn't really do that, it speaks to my frustration level.

And then, after spending four nights in a row being woken up by one or the other younger two boys, my sleep-deprived self decided to finally listen to what my friends, family, and peeps on the Facebook page for this blog have been telling me for a while now.

I got some melatonin.

Melatonin is made naturally in the body and regulates sleep cycles. It's what makes you sleepy. So I got a 3mg bottle, and halved one of the pills and then halved it again, and gave each quarter (so .75 mgs - and I'm thinking of halving the quarter if I need to give it to them again) to Connor, age 4, and Brandon, age 2. Connor because he has trouble staying asleep and wakes up in the middle of the night and comes into our bed and proceeds to sweat and snore and flop around like a dead fish. While it's fun and super cozy to have that next to me, it disrupts my sleep just a tad. And I gave Brandon his dose at 7:30.

At 8:15, a FULL HOUR OR MORE before his normal bedtime, BRANDON HAPPILY WENT TO BED AND PASSED THE HELL OUT.

Did you catch that? At 8:15, a FULL HOUR OR MORE before his normal bedtime, BRANDON HAPPILY WENT TO BED AND PASSED THE HELL OUT.

Frankly, I was shocked. I honestly did not think it was going to work, especially that well. And they both slept all night and woke up at their regular time in the morning. And Brandon has gone to bed at around 8:15 every night since, with a little help from my new best friend melatonin.

So melatonin, I love you. Like, really, really love you. Let's do a little dance... Make a little love... Get down tonight! Get down tonight!

I might even love you more than cake. That's saying a lot.

There's also a melatonin spray, from what I understand.

Keep in mind that melatonin is a hormone and is not necessarily recommended for long-term use. Read more about it here

So, my friends, if you have a sleeping/bedtime problem with your kids, I suggest looking into getting some melatonin. And of course, be sure to talk to your child's doctor before giving them anything, especially on the advice of me, a stranger to most of you. No, I totally didn't talk to my kids' doctor. I just went for it. But I feel like if I'm going to be telling people to give stuff to their kids to make them pass out, I need to be responsible and put that disclaimer in there. 

AND this disclaimer: Please don't constantly dose up your kid with the melatonin to keep him/her out of your hair. It's tempting, I know, but probably not okay, on so many levels.




Aren't the moon and stars sooo comforting to see? 


Nighty-night, kiddos. Sleep well.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

A Common Myth Dispelled. Plus, A Car Sickness Remedy.

We've been dealing with the super fun problem of Brandon getting car sick and puking in the car. Yeah. It's pleasant. And smells good, too. So, even though I love a good time as much as the next guy, I figured that Brandon probably wasn't enjoying it so much and we should get right on doing something about it. I asked readers for tips and looked online as well.

Many people online said that children's Benadryl is the magic cure. I got great tips from readers, too, but many of them were things that would work on someone older than the about-to-be-two Brandon. I also get extremely car sick (and am going to try some of the readers' tips) and knew of things but they did not/would not work for Brandon.

Hey, Brandon, you attention-deficit two-year-old who has no idea what the hell I am talking about, just continually look straight ahead at the cars in front of us as if you were driving! Don't look away for forty-five minutes! Works for Mama!

So yeah, I'm pleased that we get to blame this nonsense on me. Sorry, dude, I tried to pass on my giant nose instead, because that would have been a better, cosmetic-surgery-fixable deal, but no, you got the car sickness. And you'll probably still get the giant nose. Anyway, I figured that going straight to Benadryl, since it received such rave reviews, was my best shot, as nothing else had worked. Because once your GREAT friend catches your kid's puke in a Ziploc bag while you're driving the car (yes, that actually happened) you realize that it's time to solve the problem at all costs.

So we Benadryled it up. And frankly, I was kind of excited. EVERYONE talks about how Benadryl knocks their kids the fuck out OUT. So I'm thinking that not only am I going to stop his puking, I'm ALSO going to get a niiiice long nap out of him.

NO.

This is what he did: NOT SLEEP.

Now. I will give the kid some credit. HE DIDN'T PUKE. Exact same trip back that he had just puked on, and he didn't puke. Then, we tried it a couple of times on another route that he had previously puked on and he still didn't puke. Didn't sleep, but didn't puke.

So there you have it. Benadryl does not knock every kid out. However, it seems to be a fantastic, fantastic, car sickness remedy. Yippity yee! 

A few other tips for car sickness:

1. A full stomach, while seemingly counter-intuitive because it leads to more puke, is a good thing to have before going on curvy roads. A belly full of carbs is a much more settled belly.

2. Ginger ale is amazing. Especially the straight up, 100% thick-as-molasses ginger ale, not the carbonated Vernon's and the like. But even the carbonated Vernon's helps in a pinch. Or ginger pops or snaps or whatever else they make with ginger. And peppermints. And Coca-Cola - the syrup was originally a stomach remedy. 

3. Fresh air helps. Roll down some windows. Colder air helps, too. Hot, stuffy cars breed car sickness like hot wet sponges breed bacteria.

3. If possible, put the puker in the front seat and have them look straight ahead as if they were driving the car. Or if they must remain in the back, try to have them looking straight ahead at the road (this obviously works best if they can be in the middle seat). It keeps their sensory processing on track since motion sickness is a conflict between the ears and eyes - the inner ear detects movement but the eyes (focused within the car) don't. This confuses the brain and when they look all around it SCREWS SHIT UP. This clearly only works for people who are capable of paying attention to the road for longer than two seconds. So not kids, in other words.

4. If the child is of reading age, don't let them read or play games in the car. I was on an airplane last year and even looking at my iPod for 6 seconds to find a song screwed up my stomach. Shuffle it was!

READER/INTERNET SUGGESTIONS:

1. The smell of fresh-cut lemons is apparently helpful. I've never tried so I can't vouch for it but it makes sense in the way that fresh air makes sense. Just bust the lemons out before the puking is imminent.

2. Dramamine for the older people. Not sure what age that is though.

3. Motion-sickness wrist bands. They never worked for me but I'm a freak. So go ahead and give them a try if you're opposed to medicating.

4. An ice pack applied to the back of the neck for 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off.

OTHER TIPS:

1. For the little guys, a giant bib with the pocket at the bottom helps catch vomit. 


2. Ziploc bags or large plastic food tubs to catch the puke in are ideal because you can seal it up after, containing the smell as much as possible.

3. Keep towels in the car, on the floor below the puker, in case it's a projectile situation.

4. Keep hand wipes and paper towels and other clean-up supplies in the car.

5. KEEP AIR FRESHENER IN THE CAR.

What else has worked for you?

Good luck, people with car-sick kids. I really, really feel your pain. And smell it, too.



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Friday, August 17, 2012

Fine. You win. And this is where you all stop following me.

So yesterday I wrote a post about a major event in our house: all three boys stayed the night elsewhere and Nate and I had an awesome night without them. The point of my post was to make my readers laugh at the shit we did, vicariously suck up the fun and freedom we had, and encourage everyone to go ahead and give away their kids for a night so they can connect as adults with their significant others. I thought it was going to be a meaningful post that inspired people everywhere to be awesome and remember to focus on their marriage/relationship from time to time.

No.

What people took away from the post was they wanted to see some fucking pictures we took in a crappy photo booth at an amusement park, while wasted. Seriously. Check out the comments on the previous post.

Good God, I love my readers! You don't take me seriously even when I want you to. But that's okay. You really are awesome!

I didn't initially post the photos because frankly, they're boring. At least, 3 out of 4 are. As you'll see. But because you all bullied me into posting them and I am a sucker for peer pressure (Really. Hand me a beer or some other alcoholic beverage and I'll drink it. Easy.) I have decided to post them. Ignore my bicycle-blown scraggly hair falling out of my ponytail, please. And my inabilty to open my eyes, apparently.

So here you go. Here are the first two. We smile. I make an inappropriate sexual gesture by sucking on his finger. Whatever. Totally normal for us.



Next one: We kiss. Whoopty do. I KNOW. We really are the first couple ever to do that in a photo booth. Ever. Yes, I have a grossly thick neck and large hands. No, I am not a football player. Or transgendered.




Are you regretting asking me to post these yet? OOH, yeah, I mentioned I looked like a hag in one of them (Wait, whaaat? Looking like a hag in a photo after drinking? NOT POSSIBLE.) and drew all over it to cover up my hag-ness, and that, I know, is what you beezies really want to see. So I'll show you. But get this. I made the decision to do that, then looked at the photos again just to be sure that I really wanted to bore you all to death....

And then I noticed the speech bubble Nate had written on the picture, after I drew shit all over my face and head:



YES. It says "I <3 cock!" <3 being the symbol for a heart. I heart cock. And frankly, the heart looks like a penis and balls. Fitting.

YES. That's how we roll. It's one of the reasons we get along so well. We are both 13-year-old boys inside. I laughed for several hours after noticing the speech bubble. Shit, I'm still laughing. 

Now you know what kind of people we really are. 

FUN people.

So there you go. And now you also know how to "fix" a bad photo of you. Just turn it into a comic by drawing all over it! 

Problem solved.


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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Go On A Date

Monday night, the boys stayed overnight at their Nana's house and that meant that Nate and I had the house to ourselves for twenty-four hours.

Twenty-four hours!! How incredible is that? It was like we won the lottery! We dropped the boys off and went ape-shit crazy! We went to a recycling place and dropped stuff off! We went to Toys R' Us and Best Buy! 

We went to the POST OFFICE!

And then, wore out and exhausted from all the errand fun, we went back home and that's when it got real. For real.

We walked to a local winery and did some wine tasting. We are so lucky; we live within a five-minute walk to not 1 but like 5 wineries and an organic brewing company. Oh yeah.

We stumbled walked back home, had some food, I made a stiff drink in a travel coffee mug, and then we hopped on our bikes and with my drink in my basket, rode down to our local amusement park, the boardwalk. Yep. We got rid of our kids and then went to a place for them. I know, that makes so much sense! 

But let me tell you, riding my bike along the cliffs above the ocean, hearing the waves crashing below, I was happy as a clam. Carefree. And when we approached the wharf and the boardwalk, it was dark and all of the lights were beautiful and the smells of greasy, garlicky food and sweet cotton candy and ice cream and elephant ears and the body odor of seven thousand people were like the best perfume and reminded me of pure, unadulterated youth. 

It was total happiness. I did not have a problem or a care in the world. We parked our bikes and walked along the boardwalk, then walked down to the beach and sat under the boardwalk and watched the waves. And the Drifters song and the movie Beaches better have just popped into your mind! Unless you're 12. Then you're excused.

We went back up to the boardwalk and rode some rides. My crowning moment was when I got the terrified-of-heights Nate up on the sky gliders. I'm sure he wanted to shit his pants being up that high and for so long (they run a big length of the boardwalk) but he held himself together and didn't act like a little bitch. (I'm proud of you, dude.)

Then we went to the arcade and played games and took pictures in the photo booth. The last time we took pictures in the photo booth, we weren't even married. Only one came out horribly; I looked like a total hag, but I solved that problem by drawing on it with a black permanent marker. I now have a beard, a 'stache, a crazy homeless person's 'fro, and some freckles in it. 

We rode home and the fun did not end there. We grabbed a blanket and a bottle of champagne and rode back down to the beach to sit on the cliffs and stare into the thick fog. Usually when we get to do that, we can see across the bay and have quite a view, but not that night. 

But who cared? We could hear the waves. We were alone. I was not sober. Not even close. 

The next morning, we slept until 11:30 and then had a leisurely brunch in our very quiet and very peaceful house. 

People. If you have kids with your significant other, I cannot stress enough how critical it is to get away as a couple. No kids. Have dates. Stay connected as a couple because one day, the kids are going to leave and you're going to look around your house and only see your significant other sitting there. And it would really suck if you were looking at a stranger. 

Atrocious divorce statistics aside, your spouse is the one who is going to be there with you and for you until the end, not your kids. Kids will grow up and move on and start their own lives, and that transition will go much easier if you've spent the last 18+ years taking care of yourself and your relationship. So go on dates. Remember that you're not just parents, you're a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend. We have many roles in our lives and that one is all-too-often the one that gets neglected and de-prioritized, to the detriment of not just you and your significant other, but the kids, too.

So go on a date. Punt the kids off on someone else for a night. Do it as often as you can. If you don't have family that can help, look into doing babysitting trades or swaps with other responsible couples who have kids. Keeps babysitting costs at bay and the kids will have fun hanging out with each other.

Just don't steal someone else's dinner reservation. 


Date Night


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Friday, August 3, 2012

Diary of a Camping Trip: Part Two

Part One can be read by clicking here

After packing and loading the car, we left for Lake Shasta. I don't remember much about the drive because I am probably trying to block it out. Road trips with small kids are annoying. Brandon, who will turn two at the end of this month, was the worst because he's not capable of understanding why he has to sit in a car for hours on end. And he screams and cries when he gets tired of being in the car.

He also threw up as we were pulling into the campground.

Yeah. This is a new phase. He apparently gets carsick now, and it sucks. Sucks for him, sucks for us, sucks for the car. The best part about this time is that we drove over the curvy, windy road five hours previously, and he waited until we were literally 2 minutes from stopping to vomit. It's kind of like, thanks for not puking hours before, and making us smell it for the rest of the trip, but on the other hand, ya couldn't have waited two more minutes??

Anyway, we got out of the car into the 100 degree weather for some immediate ass crack sweating. My mom took the boys to the pool, and Nate and I unloaded the car and set up the tents, which only made us sweat even more. I thought I was going to die. And looked like it, too. There were no tent parts missing, so that was great. When that was finally done, I jumped into the pool, and when I came up out of the water, I could feel a coating on my face from all the nastiness in the pool, and could see a grease slick all across it. 

Yum. But when it's 100 degrees, it's kind of a toss-up between dying from heat stroke or getting a combo fungal/bacterial infection in your eyes.

But that wasn't the worst part of the night. I mentioned in the previous post that a what-if scenario occurred that I know will haunt me for the rest of my life. Even knowing that everything is okay, it is still something that will haunt me. 

Everyone was back from the pool and tooling around. I was still setting up stuff and was in the boys' tent for a bit, getting them dry clothes, making their bed, and getting their pjs ready. I walked out of the tent and heard someone calling "Hey, isn't he yours?" or something like that. I tuned it out because I'm good at tuning shit out and didn't think he was talking to me anyway. He kept it up and I could tell he was getting closer, so I finally looked at him.

"Him" was some total fucking stranger walking with Brandon to our campsite. I see some strange dude with my kid and start running to him, totally confused The guy started telling me that he found Brandon wandering by himself in the upper level of the campground. Several hundred feet away and totally obscured by the terrain and a building.

Mmmm hmm. That's right. My kid totally disappeared, and I didn't even know he was gone. I was dying inside. The man explained that he had seen Brandon playing in the pool earlier with my mom and so he knew he belonged to us. I thanked him profusely, and the horror and magnitude of what had happened set in. I realized all that could have gone wrong, and that, my friends, is what will haunt me. The what-ifs. He could have been hit by a car. He could have gotten really, really lost - if he had gone in any of the other directions, he would have entered isolated, woodsy parts of the forest. He could have gotten hurt. The gate to the pool could have not been latched properly and he could have drowned. Someone could have taken him. Someone could have sexually assaulted him. Someone could have murdered him. We didn't even know he was gone.

It was one of those situations where there are too many people around, and everyone is thinking that someone else is watching the kids. I can't even imagine the crushing fear I would have felt if we had realized he was gone and had no idea which direction to start looking in. It will stay with me, the magnitude of what happened. And that's okay, because it will keep me diligent.

And that's not all. Later, at dinner, Brandon got a hold of a knife that someone who shall remain unnamed (it was not me) left out. Ethan, his savior brother, saw it and got it from him, cutting his finger in the process. Not badly, but he nicked a little vein so it bled like a bitch. But he was fine.

Save yourself the effort of calling Child Protective Services on me; I already have called them on myself.

In related news, three sweet little boys are up for foster care. Any takers?

Anyway, after those horrifying events, we got our shit together and figured out how to be parents. The rest of the days were filled with alternating between sweating our asses off and water fun. In case anyone is wondering, Lake Shasta's shores are not sandy beaches. It's rock-filled mud. But who cares. We all had fun.


Bears and mountain lions were not an issue. Flying bugs did scare the bejeezus out of Connor and I got to be a hero several times over by catching moths in my bare hands *shudder* and tossing them out of the tent, and fly-swatting some yellow jackets in the tent. Nobody got stung or went into anaphylactic shock. Ethan did get bit by a yellow jacket but was fine. The boys did NOT pass the fuck out by 7 p.m. after playing in the sun and water all day long. I swear, if that couldn't wear them the hell out, then I have no idea what could possibly tire them out. It's odd. And kind of creepy. I didn't die from lack of internet. I did email from my cell phone, which staved off the withdrawals. I mostly emailed with the awesome blogger of I Like Beer and Babies about future trips to Mexico and drinking and how we need to try to make the BlogHer conference next year but probably won't. She's not only funny on her blog but in "real life" too.

On Wednesday, we packed up and left. My mom and step dad stayed behind because my brother and his family were meeting them on Thursday for the weekend. We left around 11:15 a.m., and shortly after, my mom went to Redding (south of Shasta) to get more supplies for the next round of camping. We all went southbound on Interstate 5.

I don't know if you heard (I'm sure you didn't) but at approximately 1:38 p.m. that day, a vegetation fire broke out along the Lakehead/Shasta part of Interstate 5, closing it for the rest of the day and into the night because it has grown to an over 500 acre (at the time I write this) fire, with evacuations. The fire is a mile or two south of where we camped.

NEAT-O!! My mom and step dad were coming back from Redding with their supplies when I-5 was closed, and so after several hours of waiting for it to reopen, gave up, turned around, and went back to Redding to get a hotel room for the night. And hope that the fire didn't get blown northward too much and consume their camping trailer and other fun camping stuff. Then when they got back, they were getting smoked out, could actually see flames, and had to pack up camp and find another campground farther north.


So yep, how fun for them, and everyone else who has had to be evacuated and lose their homes. How fun for all the motorists who were stranded on I-5 for hours upon hours in the triple-digit heat.


We missed that dream by a mere 2.5 hours. It's kind of amazing how lucky we really were on this trip, what with Brandon not dying, either from an accident/abduction or by knifing himself, and then we just missed getting stranded on the highway for a half a day, in triple-digit heat, with three kids. 


And then when we were about 15 minutes away from home, Brandon puked. Again. Profusely. Toddler car sickness remedies, please.



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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Diary of a Camping Trip. Part 1

So we're going camping for 4 days. This post is the "before"; the preparations and anticipation. We're meeting my mom and stepdad at a large recreational lake in Northern California. Five bucks to the first person who guesses "Lake Shasta". 

You win.

Anyway, for most people, camping is no big deal.

If you've done it before.

Let me clarify. I've camped before; I grew up camping. Nate and I have camped together one time, and only because he was forced into it when he was out of state with me, visiting my family, and literally had nowhere else to go. He grew up camping too, but isn't really fond of it in his adult life. 

We've never camped with our three small boys before.

YEAH. So. Wish us luck. Except by the time you read this, we'll be back and your well-wishes will do us no good, but it's the thought that counts. 

I'm nervous, because I have no idea what to expect or how this will work out. I'm sure it will be fine, but children are not exactly the most predictable creatures on earth. I'll be much happier when we get there and get set up and I realize all that I forgot but probably don't need anyway.

So I've been prepping since I got back from Oregon on Sunday. First, I dug out our two tents. If you're wondering why we have tents when we've never been camping (except for the one time years ago), it's because my mom graciously brought us all of her camping gear when they bought a travel trailer or whatever it's called. Basically, the home-away-from-home kind of deal. And frankly, I would have rather been given the trailer but hey, who's complaining. 

Anyway, I took the tents out of their bags and spread them out to evaluate their condition and size. I figured the smaller one would be perfect for Nate and I, and the bigger one perfect for the boys. Then I got a whiff of the smaller one and it smelled like ASS. Wonderful. This made me re-evaluate its size, to see if it would be capable of fitting the boys instead, and Nate and I could take the bigger, non-smelly one (yes, I'm an asshole). 

No go. So I Febreezed the holy hell out of it, to the point that it was almost dripping, and left it outside to air out for a few days. 

Well. On Saturday morning, the day before we are to leave, the day I need to be packing up the tents to have them ready to go for the next morning, it fucking rained. For about an hour. All over the tents. 


I know. I'M FUCKING BRILLIANT.

Perhaps it would have been smart to check the weather or hey, even have packed the tents up after the smaller one no longer smelled (thank you, Febreeze, I LOVE you), but whatever. Thankfully, it got hot and sunny from mid-morning on, and after blotting the puddles of water up as best as I could and leaving the rest up to the sun, the tents dried pretty well. Then I got to fold them up and put them away. That was fun. And then, realize my next error... I left their various parts, like bags of stakes and rods, out in the yard, too, and so I'm left to sweat it out about whether or not the boys grabbed some critical component and dumped it somewhere out of sight. I guess we'll find out when we set them up.


The campground is also without internet access. So I'm pretty much going to die. I can access it on my cell phone, but since it's not a "smart" phone, it's a real bitch to do the most basic web browsing. But I'll be doing it here and there. And what really sucks is I won't be able to add to part two of this post as stuff happens, so I'll have to keep notes on the tent walls, all caveman style. Or just take a notepad and pen. Note to self: pack notepad and pen.
P.S. Words With Friends opponents, this is why I didn't play for most of the week. I'm sorry if you died from holding your breath, waiting for my next move.


Here's a list of things I'm looking forward to on this trip:


-Driving for five hours up, then five hours down. I looove road trips with small kids. Fan-motherfucking-tastic.


-Wiping Connor's butt in a public bathroom in the wilds over 4 days. No, more like, Connor crapping in a public toilet in the wilds for 4 days. He touches EVERYTHING. He braces himself by grabbing the toilet. He craps several times a day. Note to self: bring gloves.


-Changing Brandon's shitty diapers in a tent. Bring. It. On.


-Bees. None of the boys have been stung before, so hopefully none of them are allergic. Because I suspect that they'd die of anaphylactic shock before we could get them to a hospital/have an E.M.T. arrive. Note to self: Learn how to perform an emergency tracheotomy. I just cut somewhere on their throat, right?
Another P.S. Never mind. I did actually google it, because I'm a fucking freak. From the looks of it, I'd probably end up cutting them incorrectly and they'd bleed to death before dying from the anaphylactic shock. I'll take my chances with the shock, I guess.


-Bugs. They scare the bejeezus out of Connor. Like, basically incite panic. Especially flying things. And we're going to be SURROUNDED by them. This is going to be awesome.


-Bears and mountain lions. Fuck yeah. By the way, I love guns. Specifically, guns that can take down a bear or mountain lion.


Okay, no really, I know I'm going to love these things:


-Drinking


-The boys passing the fuuuuck out by (hopefully) 7 p.m., if not earlier, from being in the sun (100 degree weather, people) and playing in the water ALL DAY LONG.


-The boys roasting marshmallows. They love that shit.


-My mom helping us with the boys.


-Drinking. And playing cards.


-The boys having their first camping experience.


-Nate having to sleep in a tent and crap in a one-step-up-from-an-outhouse-toilet for 4 days.


-Drinking.


So I'll give you a little teaser for part 2. The trip was interesting, with a few stories, one of which has a "what-if" situation that will haunt me for the rest of my life. And the finale is really freaky. I'm looking forward to writing this one.





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