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    30 minutes = evening sanity

    July 2nd, 2011

    I’ve decided that the difference between a “tear your hair out” evening as a single parent, and a “hey, I feel pretty good about my parenting (survival) skills” is 30 minutes. 30 minutes of child-free time. This isn’t “relax, zone out” time, mind you. It’s time to: get dressed from work clothes into evening home clothes; prep baby milk bottles for the following day; prep dinner and set the table. These tasks may not seem like much, but you’ll be surprised how long they take, and NOT having to worry about them when 2 kids are with you offloading emotionally from their day makes a big difference. I wish I can do them after G goes to bed, but being the late-bird he is, he’s not in bed before 9:30, and still insists you snuggle with him, meaning that I fall asleep right along side him at 10 and NOTHING gets done past that point.

    S has had a business conference since Wednesday. While it’s in the city and he’s been coming home every evening, by the time he comes in both kids are in bed, which is more or less the equivalent of being alone.

    So I’ve been bailing out of work 30 minutes earlier than usual. I come home, drop off my bags (because carrying a purse, pump, diaper bag, milk bottles bag, infant carrier AND toddler, all at the same time, is NOT fun, despite how amusing it appears), and do all the items I describe above. Then I turn around and grab the kids. We come home, wash hands and go straight to dinner. And you know what? By the time we’re done, I actually have 20 minutes to play with both of them AND rinse diapers, instead of scrambling to get those other chores done. Now… if I can only figure out how to actually “cook” with all this, I’d be set. I’ve been relying on take-out, or warming-up frozen foods. Not ideal, but again, survival mode here.

    I’ll say that these last 4 days haven’t been bad. G has really helped out by actually being in pretty good spirits and NOT throwing tantrums and testing me every five minutes. S2 has actually give me 2 good nights of only waking up once. It’s as if they got the memo that mommy’s needs them to cooperate at this time.

    So yeah, we made it through Saturday. I have about the same number of gray hairs, and am not ready to sell the kids off to the highest bidder. I’d say that’s a win 🙂

    You know you’re a parent when…

    January 17th, 2011

    There’s a list of skills I think every parent acquires. You kinda know you’ve “made” it when:

    1. You learn to go to the bathroom and take off/put on your pants only with one hand… because the other one is holding the baby. (For the ladies: maternity pants truly go INTO maternity, let me tell ya’ and extra points for mastering this skill on NON-maternity pants)
    2. You’ve dropped food on your child’s head on it’s way to your mouth, because again, you’re holding the baby while eating.
    3. You find yourself saying things like “Come here so I can smell your butt” to your child… and then doing it.
    4. Your kid spits up on their outfit, and instead of changing it, you smell it to decide if it still has life in it left.
    5. You become quite accustomed to sleeping sitting up from holding a baby in the middle of the night.
    6. You pick our furniture and carpeting based on stain resistance and not just aesthetic factors.
    7. You pause (and cringe) when you accidentally swear for fear that your 2-yr old heard you.
    8. You feel blessed to have a non-interrupted conversation with another adult in the presence of your child.
    9. You can’t have a conversation for more than 10 minutes with another parent (or soon-to-be parent) that is not about children.
    10. You find yourself wanting to do chores alone. These same chores pre-children you wanted to do in the company of others.
    11. You know all the lyrics to introductory songs of shows you would have previously never been caught sober, watching.

    My list goes to 11 🙂 Wanna add more?

    Honest G

    August 22nd, 2010

    You know what I like about G’s current age? He doesn’t know how to lie… yet. I know this too will come soon enough, but for the time being I find it useful (and amusing) that when I ask him a question about him being naughty, he doesn’t fib about it.

    Example 1: G wants a water bottle. (This is after it was taken away from him for spilling water all over his tray)

    Me: Are you going to drink it? Or spill it?

    G: Spill it!

    Me: Ok, I’m sorry. Not right now. How about you take this napkin and help me wipe down the table instead. Clean, clean!

    Example 2: G and L are throwing food on the floor after lunch. After everything in front of them has found a new home, floor-side…

    G: Mo’

    Ms. J: Are you guys going to eat it?

    G: No!

    Ms. J: Ok, no thank you!

    In a way, this is all pretty helpful. If I know his intentions, at least I know if I’m willing to deal with the reprocusions of his actions.

    Unfortunately, his honesty is cutting into his fun… but I’ll take it as long as I got it!

    Comparing kids. Or rather not.

    July 31st, 2010

    I am really struggling with avoiding comparisons between our two sons. I want to look at them and treat them as their own individuals (which they are), but it’s been hard not to compare these past 24 weeks (as a matter of fact I’ve already failed on this one), and I wonder how I’ll stop myself from doing it for the rest of their lives.

    I’ll admit, in many ways, I am going into parenting S2 and blind as I was with G. I had grand visions of things I would do (or wouldn’t do) with G that turned out to be flat opposites. NOW I take for granted the things that worked with G that I’m blindly thinking will also work for S2. Things like swaddling, liking the swing, the whitenoise, preferring nursing over formula … sleeping in the nursery early on. What if it’s the opposite? What if he hates swaddling and insists on sleeping with us? Some of these things, honestly scare the crap out of me. I felt like every time we got used to G’s routine something new came up to tackle. I fear having to re-learn how to be a mommy to a newborn, or a 3 month old, or a one year old all over again.

    Parenting styles aside, I still do feel guilty about comparing. I fear the phrase “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” escaping my lips more than you can imagine. I don’t want G to feel like he has to be a role model, any more than I feel that S2 has to follow in his brother’s footsteps. I want them to make the decisions that are right for them. If they happen to be similar: great. I just don’t want to push them in that direction. At the same time if they want to do things together as they grow older, I don’t want to stop them from it either. I just want them to feel in control. With our parental guidance that is.

    So this has been my latest irrational fear. I hope come November, this will be a distant and silly worry. Or maybe I’ll come to terms that comparison is a given and feel less guilty about it.

    Things I never thought I’d do

    June 9th, 2010

    Consider this my confessional post. This last week I comitted two parental offenses I never thought I would.

    Offense 1: taking a cab without a carseat for my kid. Yep, around the local 5m radius, I gave up the carseat while taking a taxi. Mostly because following those short trips we do a crapload of walking and lugging a convertible carseat (along with the other stuff we carry) hasn’t been too practical. I do insist we take it whenever we take a cab/car out of town though. While I don’t love being part of the polluting world I miss my own car and the ‘safe’ conveniences it comes with.

    Offense 2: I kept my kid up until 10pm at a restaurant. While G has adapted a bit more to local time, he’s off by 3 hours accros the board. He wakes up at 9:30, wants lunch no earlier than 2, and does his bedtime starting at 10:30. In a way it makes planning time with friends a bit easier since we don’t have to be confined to our apartment by 7 every night (like at home), but I am sure that people think I’m nuts.

    So ughmn, yeah. Bad Mamma.

    Surviving the 1st year: the baby gear

    July 26th, 2009

    I realize parenting is not about “stuff” and you can be a fantastic parent with nothing but some clothes and diapes, but here’s a list of items that S and I found extremely useful over the last year. Baby effectiveness will vary, but many of these with G have been a life-saver.

    • SwaddleMe’s: G’s your typical Happiest Baby On The Block kid. You do the 5 S’ with him, and he’s good. The SwaddleMe’s have been imperative to that end. We started off with the hospital receiving blankets, but he began to bust out of them. That and they are heavy, and it was darn hot that early fall.
    • Homemedics soundspa: S and I both agree that this is our de-facto baby shower gift from now on. Even if it’s not on your list, if we’re coming to your shower, you’ll get one. We believe in this THAT much. It has helped G fall asleep and more importantly stay asleep, by drowning out noise. We travelled with it — it’s that important to us.
    • Swing: Back to that 5 S’ thing. There were many a nap, and some night-time that this was the only way he’d sleep. I highly recommend the models that plug in (as opposed to battery operated). That way you never have to worry about running out of juice. We scored ours, for $60, used. Given that they are more than double that, I felt like it was an excellent deal. We didn’t use it much past 4-5 months (now not using it at all since he wants to lunge out of it), but it was awesome at the start.
    • Hairdryer: Yeah. Only way G would calm down for awhile. Some kids like the car, the laundry machine or the vacuum cleaner. G was a hairdryer child. He’d be screaming at the top of his lungs, but once the hairdryer went on, he started to calm down. Ours died and we replaced it the same day. I even travelled with sounds of a hair-dryer on my phone and put it in his carrier while driving during his “shriek while in the vehicle” phase. Aah, the good old days.
    • Bumkins bibs: these have been awesome once solids started. I like the cloth bibs for milk, but with solid foods, these rule — you just wipe them off and they’re good for the next eating session.
    • Gumdrop paci’s: G was never really a paci kid, so I feel like I’m cheating on this one, but he did like the Gumdrop best from all the paci’s we tried. S used it a lot as a proxy boob during nap-time. He was always so much better getting G to nap then I.
    • Lovies: we can’t live without our lovies. To this day, G will wake up in the middle of the night and seek out his lovie. If he can’t find it, he cries. As soon as he gets it back he puts himself back to sleep. My body thanx AngelDear from the bottom of my sleep-needing soul. Don’t forget to buy them in pairs, so you can keep them rotated.
    • Munchkin soft-tip spoons: these are awesome! They are deep, so with solid foods you actually get something in your kid’s mouth (as opposed to around it).
    • Trumpette socks: maybe I’m projecting here, but until about a month ago, I always put socks on G’s feet. Even if he was wearing footed sleepers. It just made me feel better knowing his feet were toasty. As far as socks go Trumpette has been awesome. We got ours as hand-me-downs and they ruled the sock drawer vs all the other booties/socks I got myself. They stay on, which is the point of socks. Granted once G got a bit older and stronger he can pull them off himself now (they apparently make excellent flags for waving), but it’s still takes some effort for him to remove. I also love the camo prints — they go with so many outfits.
    • Itzbeen timer: When you’re working off of 2-3 hours of sleep (at best) you can’t do math. You just can’t — trust me. Adding by two (the magical number of how often you’re supposed to nurse) just wasn’t working for us. This little timer was our remote brain. Although it became irrelevant for G once TrixieTracker came along, I still use it to this day. I use it for pumping. It’s great for that. Especially for my 2am pump. I’m known to fall asleep while pumping (wouldn’t you at 2am?) and at least when I wake up this tells me if I’m done.
    • Glider: I’ve slept in this thing (out of necessity), so having ours has been a blessing. We have a Dutaillier Matrix, which is super expensive, top of the line, but it was our baby splurge. I love it! It will move to our living room once it leaves G’s room.
    • Trixie Tracker.com: this is for the anal-retentive parents that like to keep track of their kid’s eating/sleeping/diaper changing/nursing/weight-gaining/med-taking habits. We are those parents, so this is awesome for us. It also keeps track of pumping, which I’ve been using religiously since my first days of pumping. You have to pay for it, but the fee is very reasonable and lasts a whole year. Plus now I have pretty charts of G’s first year of life. See our earlier post on Trixie Tracker.
    • Pre-folded diapers: although we cloth diaper, we just use these exclusively for burp clothes or changing-table saver. During changes, we slide one under his rump, over his clothing, so if he decides to spray (“fire-hose” us) it’s absorbed by the prefold. It equals one less clothing change, which is nice… especially in the middle of the night. At a $1.50 each, these are awesome. Find absorbant burp cloths for that amount!
    • Diaper sprayer: this is for the cloth diapering parents out there. Rinsing off poo is no big deal with one of these things. It attaches to our toilet and has been super easy to use. The only “issue” with it is that we’ve had some guests who thought it was a bidet. Uhmn… no!
    • Earplugs: This was more of an S item. G’s shrieking and crying never got to me, but S had a few brain-scramble episodes where he only survived the high-pitched shrieking (during the bad reflux days and nights) with these on. Many nights the earplugs went in before S even picked up G from the crib.
    • Webcam (or video monitor): We bought an inexpensive $60 webcam and hooked it up over his crib. It’s a cheaper solution than a video monitor if you have a laptop for the nursery, but just as effective. It was really helpful with figuring out how G sleeps, or soothes himself.
    • Hands-free Pumping Bra: this has been so awesome to have around. Both at home, and especially at work. It’s made a big impact in my productivity and ability to relax while pumping. It’s a must for pumping moms as far as I’m concerned.

    I promise no miracles that these items will be as good to you as they have been for us. Heck, if we’re ever lucky enough to be parents a second time around, these might not work for that child. You can be sure we’re gonna try them though!

    Aah, the joys of childproofing

    July 24th, 2009

    Let me tell you about G’s day the other day. We were up in his room, where I let him roam around. It’s his room, filled with baby items (with few exceptions). In the span of 30 minutes my monkey:

    1) pulled and ate on the power cord to the fan in his room. When that was taken away he protested and then moved on to pull (and eat) the power cord to his swing

    2) dug up a bottle of  lactation support supplements that I’d forgotten about (they tasted horrible, and I put them on the bottom shelf of my glider table, where they were consequently forgotten). Said  bottle was discovered entering G’s mouth and then promptly taken away (post-haste esp. since it didn’t have a childproof cap)

    3) found the batteries of the disconnected TiVo remote control and also decided to put them in his mouth.

    Notice an eating trend here?

    So yeah, electrical cords, meds and batteries: it’s as if someone had identified all the bad things in his room, given him a list and said “Go for it kid! Let’s give mommy a heart attack!”. No breaks in between for fluffy toys, or child-approved rattles. No. All the things that make me look like an awful parent.

    So guess what S and I are going this week-end? Childproofing like mad, running behind a 2 foot-tall trouble-maker and using the word “No!” a lot.

    Childproofing tips are welcome.

    Single parents: a new found appreciation

    July 24th, 2009

    As of yesterday afternoon my temporary reign as a single parent is over. Since S had to attend a conference in Florida for a few days, G and I were on our own. I will admit that although manageable, being alone with your kiddo isn’t easy, and most of all, it was lonely.

    I didn’t realize how much I appreciated knowing that S would be home at the end of the day, until Monday after work, while driving home I realized there would be no-one (well, other than Neko) waiting there for me. It made me feel sad.

    Then there were all the logistics of G care: morning/evening routines, baths, food and playtime. It’s tiring. My key to survival was being very regimented and having a plan of attack for everything that related to Neko and G. Who gets what and when was scheduled, in my head, every morning. I also learned that I couldn’t procrastinate as much as I’d like because stuff piles up; and if I can manage to do something ahead of schedule (like prep the bottles for the following day) I should — it only helped the unforeseeable stuff.

    I’d say I did pretty well and I’m proud of myself: G’s good, Neko still has all his limbs and the house didn’t look any worse for wear while S was away. I will be the first to admit it, though, that it doesn’t look any better 🙂 Cleaning was not on my to-do list. I have no idea how single parents manage to do it all: clean house, install carseats, all with a little monkey looking to make trouble.

    There was one victim of S’ four days away: my eating. I can’t say I made the healthiest of choices. I did have a night or two of decent eating, but I also broke out the Mac & Cheese and frozen pizza.  It’s not a great excuse, but it all came down to being tired: I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to spend an hour cooking a meal for myself.

    I also had to figure out different ways of doing things. Giving G a bath for example. S and I always do this together. I like our “together” routine. Alone is certainly doable, but it’s the little things: like scrubbing baby butt. I lift G, and S soaps down the goods. When I’m alone, it’s not the same. G sits in his tub, so I’ve had to figure out a way to lean him over my arm so he can present his rear for cleaning.

    Yeah, it’s the little things that make you realize a live-in partner is nice. It’s obviously doable alone, but not easy.

    So all you single parents, or moms/dads who deal with a spouse who has to travel for extended periods of time — my hat’s off to you. And those of you that do it with no-one close by to help — you’re my heroes!

    Mommy’s little helper: the laundry edition

    May 24th, 2009

    We spent the day yesterday cleaning up our home. We tidied up, vacuumed, and did laundry. Well, come laundry folding time (a task I HATE by the way), I was on the floor with G by my side making my piles of clothes. I was doing pretty well with the folding under I turned around to see this:

    Yes, mommy has a little helper — he wanted to fold the t-shirts himself. Doesn’t he look Oh so proud of himself? I’m excited at the prospect for someone else wanting to do folding. Child labor laws don’t apply when it’s your own kid, right?

    In other news, we’re moving forward with enclosing the patio off of our master bedroom. The cleaning of the house, believe it or not is because of our renovation. You see, because we live in a planned development we not only need to apply for a building permit, but we have to get our project be approved by the city planning commission first. This means a formal, public hearing where we have to notify our 300 ft radius worth neighbors. We needed to hold an open-house and give our neighbors an opportunity to come and talk to us about our project. Yes, all this to enclose a 11×12 ft existing patio, in the back of our house, not seen by anyone. No neighbors came, which is just fine by me. I got exactly what I wanted out of this week-end: no renovation complaints, with the added bonus of a clean house. Now wish us luck!

    What’s in my diaper bag, you ask?

    May 17th, 2009

    …Ok, or maybe you don’t, but I’ll tell you anyway.

    I’ll start off by saying that our diaper bag is the Lite Hobo bag by California Innovations. It retails at BRU for about $45. It’s nothing special to look at, but it’s big, priced right, and neutral enough for S to not mind wearing it (and believe me he does). I’ve come to the conclusion that as far as diaper bags go, you can never find anything too big. Now… in terms of the contents:

    • The obvious: diapers (about 1 for every 2 hours of outdoor fun)
    • A diaper bag for the dirties
    • A changing pad and bootie wipes
    • An extra outfit for G
    • A hooter hider for yours truly
    • Water bottle
    • A snack for me (it’s come in handy on more than one occasion)
    • Sunblock (yeah, G and I are whiter than white)
    • Rash creme
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Hand lotion (who’da thunk that baby care would be so brutal on the hands?)
    • Sunglasses for the little dude (yeah, he’s stylin’ in those)
    • Tissues (‘cuz my nose will cry you a river come allergy season)
    • A paci
    • A camera
    • While we’re out and about I also use the bag as my purse, so I carry my wallet, phone, keys, and sunglasses
    • Occasionally a toy or two
    • Sometimes a jar of food if we’re out around that time of day

    About a year ago I had posted this question to my mom’s group and my manager (whose wife is on the list) to this day won’t let me live it down. He swears I’m anally retentive, must-be-prepared-for-anything type of person. Ha, like it’s a bad thing ;p