Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Prison of Urine: A Potty Training Guide

Today is an exciting day because I'm going to act like I am an authority on something. Which is ludicrous, but y'all know how I like to sound like I know things.

I have now officially helped TWO, count them: not ONE, but TWO people learn how to (semi) reliably go to the bathroom. I know this doesn't sound impressive, because's not really. There are many other people in the world that have done this countless times, but when you're desperate and searching the Internet at two AM on toddler potty training methods even a hair-brained amateur like myself looks like they really have their wig on straight. This is basically the first lesson we should all be teaching our children, that is after: Do not lick ranch off your toes at the dinner table. (Sadly, that phrase has come out of my mouth more than once.) Do not believe everything you read on the Internet...except me, you can totally believe me.

I have a four and half year old son, and a daughter that will be three in June. I have never been an overachieving mom. I was sort of hoping that they would learn to just figure things out on their own. But alas, that's not really how it works. So you can imagine my dismay when I realized that I would be the one to have to teach them how to not shit their pants.

The mind boggles.

As you can imagine, I put it off as long as possible. To be quite honest I would have paid Target for those diapers until Henry went to college if it meant I didn't have to potty train him. I'm fairly certain he would have picked it up by himself at some point, he's a smart kid. But he was two months shy of three and he had been taking off his wet diapers and handing them to me for a month. At one point I think he even looked at me, pointed at the potty, and said, "I can pee in the potty?"

I think I said, "Shhhh. Sweetheart don't look at that. A snake lives in there. Don't you like peeing in your nice comfy diaper."

While I wait for my Mom of the Year award to get engraved, I'll have you know I bucked up and we did the damn thing.

And here's how:

Let me just say there are hundreds of different ways to potty train. Whoa, back up Emily, you're already lying. That's probably an exaggeration. Let's say there are ten different ways to potty train a child. This is merely one way of doing it, and let's face it, it may not be the best for you. But it worked for us. It was relatively quick in the scheme of things. By things I mean life. It was quick when you compare it to your whole life. If you compare it to say, a shorter time span, like a week, than by that standard it took for fucking ever. I mean never ending.

Now that I've got you super amped up, lets get down to bizznass.

1. Don't start until your little human is ready. I know you, you Kate Spade diaper bag toting, fresh as hell mama. You want to be the first one on the play ground to boldly announce that you have potty trained your kid. But if you attempt this before your child is ready you will be fighting the most drawn out, miserable, Suicide Prevention Hotline-calling battle ever conceived.  Like ever.

Signs of readiness include:

*Child noticing when they are peeing and pooping.  The simple act of being aware that you are taking a dump while you are taking a dump is actually a skill. I just need to go back to being a toddler then I can start acing tests again.

*Voicing dismay over dirty diapers. Not wanting to sit in pee and poop is also a step in the right direction. I feel like we're in AA here: you have to SEE a problem before you WANT to change! Amen.

*Staying dry for longer stretches of time. Waking up from naps and bedtime with dry diapers is also a good sign. That means that Bill is developing the control in his little pee holding muscles to not let it all run out willy-nilly.

*An interest in potty goings-on, and an ability to pull up and push down pants independently. My daughter was very interested in watching us all go to the bathroom. This is just one small indignity that comes with parenthood. None of us want it, it just comes with the territory, like stale fortune cookies. Sometimes if you are open to it, which not everyone is and I get that, it can be helpful for your child to see you go to the bathroom.  The whole nine yards. Don't worry, hopefully at this point their verbal skills aren't on point enough that they could explain the whole sordid event in detail to a stranger...

Unless you are my son, and then your sweet voice never rang clearer than when you were exposing my bathroom habits to the grocery store checker. Thank you son.

These are a few signs that your child may be ready, you can also google "Potty training readiness" and get a much more dependable and thorough list, as I'm sure you already did five minutes ago when you realized I'm a hack.

I'll just continue.

2. Gather your supplies. Buy your oxen, load your wagons and let's get ready for this.

*A small toddler potty. You can let your child pick it out, that may help them get really excited about the whole process. I mean really, annoyingly excited.

*A separate potty seat that will fit on a standard toilet and a step stool. We have a love affair with anything princess related. And I always judge a toilet seat by its ability to inspire me.

*Your bribery of choice. This is a hotly debated topic. (I'm sure by mothers that hotly debate parenting topics, usually I just talk about Vanderpump Rules...). Some people go the non-treat route.  My sister in law potty trained by giving her son a marble every time he used the potty and when he had ten marbles he could select a hot wheel from a basket. This is stellar parenting work; that's Dr. Sears shit. However my kids didn't buy it. Like their mother they enjoy immediate gratification. So we stuck with candy. I know, the horror.

If you are a first time parent I know the thought of handing your vegan, non-dairy, non-soy preciously untainted child a non-organic seed of death and high fructose corn syrup, aka an M&M, without even a tooth brush standing by makes you have a moment.

But let's just chill the eff out.

The truth is the small treat, like picking out one fruit snack, or M&M, [insert weapon of choice] after a successful attempt (and some unsuccessful attempts) is FUN. They love it! It is great motivation to keep trying. I found that after they did successfully go on the potty and I made a big enough show of it (clapping, dancing, singing, high-fiving, generally acting like a fool) they were so excited that they would entirely forget about asking for the treat most of the time anyway.

In any case, if you do decide to offer treats, just know you are not a bad parent. And the simple fact that you are worried about it makes you a better parent than you realize. Cheers to that.

Back to the supply list:

*Your child's favorite drink. My kids drink very watered down apple juice, so I just made sure I had plenty of apple juice. If your child will drink plain water that is fine too. I must meet you and learn your witchcraft. At my house being told you have to drink plain water is tantamount to a death sentence.

*Carpet/upholstery cleaner and rags. I know, I know. I hate to break it to you, but even the best method of potty training will end up in a mess sometimes. And them's just the breaks.

*Notably ABSENT on my list of supplies are Pull Ups, or any manner of training pants. This is a bold move folks, and it takes time and a dedication to staying at home for about two days. But in this method we go straight into undies.

Straight. Into. Undies.

If you're anything like me that phrase just makes your butt hole shrivel up. It's terrifying, but I promise you, OH SO worth it in the end.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Pull Ups. Except I am a cheap ass mo' and did not want to give Pampers any of my money. Plus, I pondered it and realized it must be rather confusing for a child to be told, "Here is a Pull Up: it is not a diaper, but it looks like a diaper and feels like a diaper. You are not supposed to pee or poop in it like you do in your diaper. However, if you do pee or poop in it it will feel just like a diaper... and nothing will happen.  But I trust you'll make the right decision."

Let's sit in the safety circle, hold hands and repeat it once more, loud and proud: You have to SEE a problem before you WANT to change.

God, that makes me feel so good for some reason.

If there is no consequence, like pee dripping down their legs and getting them all wet then they really don't have much motivation to change the way they're operating. Catch my drift?  It makes sense in a kind of, that doesn't make sense kind of way.  Anyway...

Because we are really taking the bull by the horns in this scenario you also have to be prepared to camp out at home for a few days.


Was that your response? Because that is my response. Every. Time.

Getting out of the house is the only thing that keeps us all sane and alive. I understand. Totally. But this self imposed prison of urine will be short lived. And then you can put it behind you. And by behind you I just mean that you can get out of the house, but make sure you bring some extra undies...and pants...and socks....and the potty seat. And a lot of patience.

SO get yourself together and choose a stretch of days that you know you can stay home, preferably this is a stretch of days that someone else will be home as well. Potty training does not take two people. But it is convenient to double team the situation. I found it extremely helpful that my husband could take charge while I went up into my closet and practiced my noose making; it's a meditative exercise. The knots are a son of a gun.

3. The next step would be to get excited. GET EXCITED PEOPLE!

Get your child majorly excited about what is about to happen. With Addie I planned to start on a Friday morning. All week long we talked about it. On Friday we're going to wear big girl undies!! Tomorrow we are going to say bye bye to diapers and be a big girl!! On Friday we get to put our pee in the potty, YAY!! You get the drift. In the days before you can also take them to Target and let them pick out underwear. This is a highly exciting activity that actually resulted in wearing the pre-selected underwear on top of our pants for the two days prior to the actual event. I consider that one of those battles that just wasn't worth fighting.

4. The night before potty training is to begin set up your base camp. I would recommend this be somewhere where messes are easily cleaned up. Wood floor? Tile? A television handy, toys, books. The ideal situation is that your play room is not carpeted. We were not so lucky, but I just set the little potty in the play room on a big rug with a water proof pad underneath in case of dripage.  Have a roll of toilet paper and a package of wipes handy there as well. Some people like to potty train outside during the summer where messes are no big deal. I could see this working well if you have a fenced back yard, and no creepy neighbors. Just bring the potty out so it is very near where your child is playing. Have your cleaning supplies out and handy. Sad face. Also make sure you have some kind of a timer. We used the oven timer.

5. Have a large cocktail. Read the bible. Watch anything on Bravo. Do whatever you have to do to get in a good head space. Remind yourself this is worth it and the first day will be the hardest day. And the beginning of the second day when it feels like you're starting all over again. But don't worry, you're not.

6. When your child wakes up, sit on the potty and go straight into underwear.  Addie sat on the potty maybe three times total before we started potty training, so I don't think that is a prerequisite. But I would make sure that your child is not scared of sitting on the potty before you begin this whole endeavor. I imagine that could be quite traumatizing.

7. I read this tip on Pinterest about how to begin potty training and I did it with both kids, I think it sets the perfect tune for potty training. And that tune is progress, not perfection! (This was so long ago I don't have the original source of this tip). Get out your acting caps folks, 'cause we're gonna get theatrical up in here.

I found their favorite stuffed animal and held it up and pretended it was playing, and then I held up a little cup of water behind the stuffed animal and poured it on the floor, as if the animal had just had a little accident.  And then I make a big production of saying,

"OH NO! Blueberry just had a little accident, but that's no big deal and we run over and set Blueberry on the potty.  It's not a big deal if we have an accident, if we have to go potty we just try and get to the toilet! It's okay Blueberry! We'll keep working on it, good work Blueberry!"

We emphasized, that when Blueberry noticed he had started peeing he ran over to sit on the potty.  I really think this was a key step before we began because the kids got to see A. What it looks like when the floor gets wet, and what your reaction to that is. B. That it is okay if they have an accident. C. That this whole experience is positive.

Even when you feel like you are clinging to your last shred of sanity there is no shaming in this game. There is no, Why did that happen? Why didn't you make it to the potty? The whole experience is supportive.  So keep that in mind, and take some deep breathes.

Whooooo. Saaaawwww.

(If you have children, or know children, or have seen children on the street than you will never be this relaxed. But we can try.)

(I am chuckling to myself because apart from all the swearing this is sounding like I really know how to parent, like really well; if you only knew how much I would love for that to be the case. Just like dieting, I know the basic principles, it's the implementation that gets me every time. I guess the moral is, try and be a super rad parent during this because it will be worth it and when it's over you can go back to being your regular grumpy, stabby self.)

So I hope you're still with me, because this is getting long. And very boring.

8. Now set up shop at your base camp, watch cartoons, movies, read books, build legos, play with play dough. Just hang out. All the while you need to be offering your child drinks. Keep them drinking. More drinking=more peeing. When you start out I recommend setting the timer for every 10 minutes. This will be a long day. There is no sugar coating it. You are living in 10-15 minute increments. They will no sooner have gotten up from the potty and pulled up their underwear, then you will see a stream of pee running down their leg. Summon all your inner fortitude and don't freak out. It takes practice to make progress. That is the point of all the drinking. They are peeing frequently and getting used to what it feels like before they go and while they're going.

9. You will be cleaning up some messes, but stick with it and adjust your timer schedule accordingly. I found if Addie sucked down a cup of water, after about 10-15 minutes we would sit on the potty more frequently.

The urge to quit will be strong. Like last call to an alcoholic, you will be drawn to the beautiful nirvana of slipping on a diaper and saying, we'll try again next week. Don't do it!

10.  Keep drinking. Keep setting the timer. Try not to kill yourself.

You will notice that children learn quickly. You will see progress the first day. By late morning of the first day Addie would suddenly jump up and say, "I have to go pee!" And we would run to the potty and see what we could do. The first day requires the most rigid timer schedule, but I would say that we continued to use the timer on the second and third day, we just tailored it more to her particular bathroom patterns.  If she had not been drinking a lot, we would set it every 30 minutes. If she just finished a cup of water, we knew that we would set it every 10 minutes or so for a little while. By the third day we didn't use the timer that much, just reminded Addie to get on the potty.

11. Like the little brain training science project that this is, just remember to keep giving the mouse its cheese. Positive reinforcement works. I didn't drink my way through a B.S. in Psychology for nothing.

Just remember one step forward, two steps back. This will take a few days, and don't be disheartened. Your child will do great and go by themselves and then 15 minutes later they will have an accident. It is all progress towards the goal. I would say by the end of the weekend and definitely the fourth day, we had turned a solid corner. Did she have occasional accidents? Absolutely. Did she reliably sit on the potty and go by herself, yes.

Pull Ups are enticing because they lure you with the promise of potty training without the mess, which is unrealistic, in my untrained and uneducated opinion. Things that seem too good to be true generally are: Gwyneth Paltrow (who does that bitch think she is, BTW), low carb chocolate (otherwise known as, whoops I just sharted chocolate.)

At some point the underwear is going to have to go on and we're all going to have to just deal with it. (Man, I feel like potty training is like a metaphor for life or something. I am on my third cup of coffee so I probably just have K-Cup poisoning. Or possibly it's Addie's toilet seat making me have deep thoughts.)

When it's all said and done you won't remember exactly how you did it because you'll block it out. But you'll get through it, and just like every other person in the world will tell you, "You don't see any high schoolers in diapers!" (Ugh, if I hear that one more time, I swear.) So it will probably work itself out at some point.

Just remember when you hear someone talking about how they potty trained in one day and their child never has accidents, you can go ahead and say, "Congratulations!"

Two to one odds says their kid is the one shitting his pants in the ball pit.

Because shit happens to everyone.

{Poop pile emoticon.  #toiletseatdeepthoughts}

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ten Minute Tribute

I've got 10 minutes before I need to leave for work, my hair is still wet and my dinner isn't packed, but I had to take a moment to thank God for Michael.

(Wait, I just remembered it's taco salad day at work...WOOT.  Taco salad, Taco salad, Taco Salad DAY.)

It's the little things, I'm telling you.

Four years ago I married the best person on the face of the planet.  I know everyone thinks their spouse is the best person on the face of the planet, which is good.  They are the best person on the planet to YOU and YOU alone. 

They wouldn't be the best person on the face of the planet for someone else.  But they are to you.

Everyone has a person.  Michael is my person.

He is amazing and puts up with my shit, which is like crazy.

He knows when I'm starting to spin and he helps me find my way out.

He knows the words to every Raffi song ever recorded.

He loves me even though I have a super odd appreciation for Justin Timberlake (I'm sorry, but no one expected him to be anything.  And he's only AMAZING and totally legit.  Rant over.) and any power ballad on the radio.

Sometimes he helps me 'set fire to the rain' and it's freaking amazing.

He knows when I help him pick out clothes that I'm scheming to somehow make him look like Sherlock.

Michael:  I don't wear scarves, why do you want me to get this scarf?  You just want me to look like Benedict Cumberbatch?

Me:  That is false.  I want you to look like you.  But dressed like Benedict Sherlock Holmes.  There is a big difference.

I love that he doesn't mind.

The guy is pretty unflappable.

And he is graceful like a gazelle.  And handsome.

I just love him. 

And if you ever wanted to know what my blog posts would look like if I only spent 10 minutes on them.

This is it. 

Happy Anniversary Michael.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Panic at the Disco

Two days in a row!

Get a grip, Emily!

I don't even have anything good to say, but the kids are both sleeping at the same time.  So I figured I better not shut my eyes or the world may end. 

I thought I'd just write some nonsense on here instead of packing and having a panic attack. 

And seriously, yesterday got super weepy. And we just can't have that.

1.  We went to Target today. (What day don't we go to Target?) And I got a new planner!!!

(Yes, I am three exclamation points excited!!!)
It's the best day of the year!
Except I'll be really anal about writing in it at first, and I'll have to use white out if I mess up because I don't want to spoil my brand new pretty planner. 
While pulling out of Target we have to pass by Michael's...
Damn it all
And I saw these beauts on the sidewalk outside the store.  (Does anyone else ever wonder how they make sure people don't steal that stuff?)
These memory boxes were on sale...on the sidewalk.  Which would leave some to believe that they were crap (my husband), BUT I've been looking for just the thing! 
I needed something to put all of the kids' stuff in.  Things that I couldn't put in their baby book, but I can't throw away, like all of their birthday cards, candles and special things like that.  Hoarder stuff.
I picked out Addie's, obviously, it's adorable. 
And I let Henry pick out his. 
I was really pushing for a handsome navy stripe, with a herringbone lid, but let's be serious.  Giant Octopus is the trump card.
2.  I've been having a terrible time lately.  (duh.)
But it's not what you think. 
Addie is still a crawler.  (I didn't really have the highest hopes knowing our children's track record with walking.  I'll start to worry in nine months.) 
Having a crawler and going to the park sucks.  It really sucks. 
It's hot so you want to put them in shorts, but then their little knees get all scraped up by the cement and wood chips.  And then they eat the wood chips. 
It's a disaster.
But, mostly because I'm a cheapskate, I was trying to shoehorn Adeline into an old pair of pants, when I discovered something amazing.
All of her nine month pants will fit, except now they are adorable capri pants!!!  (Again, note my excitement!!!) 
(I know the high capri pant is a little dated, but we're going to cut her a break because she's one.  I have hopes that her twelve month stuff will be ankle length by the end of the summer.  Very chic and on trend.)
I got distracted.  My point is that the capris are cooler, but also protect her knees.  Sold.
3.  When we were at Target (see #1) I decided I really want a label maker.  I've wanted one for some time now, but it's always been something I never bought because well, who buys label makers. 
But now I need one.  I want one.  I must have one.
So when we move, and I have died from anxiety, everything will be exquisitely labeled for Michael.
4.  Addie is cutting her two front teeth and she's mean.  She whines.  She's not very fun to be around.  Even medicated.  But there is one thing that makes her happy.

This old, nasty ass washcloth. It is actually clean.  It's just that disgusting looking.
I can't pry it out of her hands.  I don't want to pry it out of her hands because if there's nothing in her mouth she's crying. 
So it travels. 
And I look like a negligent mother.  Letting my daughter chew on garbage. 
But, it makes her happy.  So what can you do.
5.  Trying to sell our house is making me an angry person.  (Angrier than normal.)
A very clean, angry person.
I have prayed.  I have buried statues.  I have sacrificed animals.
Not really.
Seriously.  Don't tell me how great my house is and then not buy it.  
You're like that dick in college, 
"I think you're really great, let's go out sometime!" 
"Just kidding, you're gross." 
I feel like I'm going to cut somebody.
6.  Addie's first birthday was last week!  Wheeee :)
She's one year closer to making her own sandwiches and hating six o'clock in the morning.
We ate cupcakes and opened presents.  And mommy took pictures.
And then mommy realized she took everything with the camera set on black and white.
And then mommy cried.  And we had to restage the birthday a few days later and get new pictures.
(Don't get me wrong, I love a black and white photo as much as the next guy.  But the best part was the pink frosting all over her face.  Total mom fuck up.)
So now her brother thinks she has two birthdays.
Birthday #1

Birthday #2
And mommy's nervous breakdown was postponed another week.
(She's totally cute enough to deserve two birthdays.)
7.  We bathe Henry and Addie at the same time. 
We used to bathe them separately but Henry always went first and then Addie had his left over bath water and it all felt a little, "poor Cinderella in her brother's dirty bathwater." So now we dump them in all at once and let them stew in each other's filth.
Addie is a curious one year old.  The other night she lunged over and grabbed Henry's wiener.
Henry:  NO SISSY!!  Mommy, Sissy Addie just grabbed my wiener!
Me:  I'm sorry Henry.  Addie didn't know what she was doing.  It's not okay for her to touch your wiener.  You are the only person that is supposed to touch your wiener. 
And then it felt like an after school special. 
When do you start bathing your boy and girl separately?
8.  Someone asked me if I'm nervous about what people think about me because of how I write.  Especially how I write about motherhood.
You know, sometimes I see someone with their new baby and I think to myself, "Now, there is a natural.  A born mommy." 
She doesn't mind being up at 11 pm, and then 1:30 am, and then 4 am.  And then up for good at 6.  You can tell it doesn't even phase her.  It's just more time to snuggle.

Well.  I hated being up at 11 pm, 1:30 am, and 4 am.  And I especially hated, and still do really, really hate 6:00 am.
But I still love being a mother. 
My kids are everything to me. 
I started this blog because I was spending inordinate amounts of time at home staring at a two month old and a breast pump.  And it sucked.  I would look around and think, "Is this supposed to get awesome soon?"  Because this isn't awesome.  I loved Henry more than anything in the world, but it was a gigantic change.  Life was suddenly completely different, and it was hard for me. 
I just felt like somehow I was missing something that other moms had.  I couldn't relate to these other perfect 'natural born mommies.'
I just wanted to talk about being a parent in a real way.  And I wouldn't have ever dreamed that people would respond the way they have.  When I get a comment and someone I don't even know says, "Wow, that is exactly how I feel.  Thank you so much!"  It makes me happy, not because I wrote it, but because someone read exactly what they needed to hear at exactly the right time, and hopefully it made them feel less alone.
I feel like there are plenty of people out there for whom parenthood was an...adjustment.  That doesn't mean they are bad parents.  It doesn't mean they love their babies less.  They are great parents. 
I'm sure there are tons, TONS of people that can't stand me.  And that is totally finePerfectly understandable.  There are some people I don't really like.  But that is what is so great about adulthood; I don't care anymore what people think about me. 
The people that matter to me know who I am. 
I write what I write because it's how I feel, and I hope that there is some mother out there in her sweatpants with a two week old that finds my blog just in time.  Just when she starts to feel really bad about herself because she is miserable and she thinks that makes her a bad mother.
You are a fantastic mother.  You are not the only person that has ever felt this way.  It will get better.  Being up in the middle of the night is terrible.  Cut yourself some slack.
So no, long story short, I don't feel nervous.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Thanks and love.

There are just some things that are hard to tell people.

Like, it's hard to complimentarily (look I made up a word) ask someone if they've lost weight, because no matter how you do it somehow it always sounds like you thought they looked like an obese freak before.  And sometimes that sucks, because you're really trying to say, "You look really awesome, great job!" 

But I feel like it must sound like, "You look great, thank looked hideous before."

I find you just can't win with that one.

(Maybe it's just in my mind.  I never over think things.)

Similarly, it is extremely difficult to tell people that you love, people that you are close to that you're moving.  No matter how you do it somehow it seems to sound like, "We're getting the hell outta Dodge!  It sucks ass here and your friendship wasn't enough to make us stay.  Deuces." 

When what you really want to say is, "We've made a really difficult decision to relocate so that we can be closer to our families, and so that the kids can grow up close to their grandparents and aunts and uncles."

And your friends are really supportive, but what you think they're really thinking is:

It's terrible.

It's been twelve years since I've lived in the city I grew up in.  All of my memories of that place are in the context of a completely different time in my life:  High School.  So, obviously I'm feeling a small bit of trepidation as to how it will feel living there again. 

In full-on adult mode.

This time I won't be trying to sneak downtown and scoop the loop with my friends.  I'll be taking my kids to preschool and racing to find a bathroom at the zoo while my son poops in his Cars undies. 

There are people I really didn't know when I did live at home, but now feel as though I do know them because I've seen pictures of their weddings and the births of their children.  Are we really friends?

If I see them in the grocery store do I say hi, ask about the kids I've never met and seem like a total creeper?

(Speaking of grocery stores, I'm sad to leave a state in which the grocery store chain is called Harris Teeter.  "The Teet"  "Harry Teets" "The Tit".  Telling Michael I'm running to the store will never be as much fun again.  Sad face.)

And then, unfortunately. there are those very, very few people that you did know like 1000 years ago, but since 2004 and the advent of the 'status update' you are totally comfortable being 1600 miles away from.

I can't be the only one that has suffered these feelings at the hands of Facebook. 

Tell me I'm not the only one.

And in the inevitable event that I run into them it'll be like:

This is new territory for me, and embarrassingly, these are the things that keep me up at night.  That and a host of other terrible made up scenarios. 

In all seriousness, making these decisions has been awful.  We are elated.  And we are devastated.

It would be so easy if we hated it here.  But we don't hate it here. 

We chose to start a life together in North Carolina.  We became a family in North Carolina. We were amazingly blessed to have been welcomed by people that made us Yankees feel like we belonged here.  People that made us feel like family.  Michael was incredibly lucky to have been united with a group here that is beyond wonderful; they too have shared in all of our joy from day one.  Deciding to leave his practice here was the most agonizing decision of our married life.  Not for one moment have we ever taken for granted the love and support everyone here has shown us.   We will miss everyone so much.  So much.

And here's where it gets hard for me.

Sometimes in life the trees seem really dense and it is tough to see the path God wants you on, 

And you feel a little lost. 

Thankfully I found my way here, and I am truly sad to leave the community of people that made me feel like I wasn't lost anymore. 

My nurses.

I wish I could explain just what they mean to me.  But I can't.  I can't come up with the words that do my heart justice. 

When I go to work I am surrounded by women that inspire me.  They are fearless.  They are so brave.  I watch them work and I feel like I will never be what they are.  They are the smartest, most compassionate, most incredible people.  Their hands are skilled and gentle, and in the face of what seems like chaos they come together as a team in the most beautiful way.  It looks choreographed; you wouldn't ever know they were struggling to save a life.  They make it look effortless and easy.  They aren't scared, and I'm terrified nearly every day.  They always have the answers, and I always have the questions. 

Instinct would have anyone do this job with a closed heart.  With armor, to protect themselves from the things they see.  But everyday their hearts are open.  More days than not they are called to do a job that requires a level of focus, concentration and composure that is exhausting.  I have seen them come in on their days off to say goodbye.  And I have seen them come in on their days off to celebrate tiny victories.  When I feel like I would have crumbled under the immense pressure a thousand times, their courage never fails.  They have hope when a situation feels hopeless, and they have humor when days feel really, really dark.  They have comforted me when I've cried and shared wisdom when my heart was hurting.  They are my mentors, they are my teachers, and I feel so incredibly lucky to call them friends.  They are my heroes.

I'm ecstatic to have been welcomed by another great children's hospital; I don't doubt I will make new friends, but I will never forget the old. One is silver and the other's gold. :) 

Flannery O'Connor wrote, "I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say."

I'm nervous to move.  I'm scared to start over in a place that should feel like home, but may not feel like home for a while.  I'm sad to move the kids from the only home they've ever known.

But.  I don't feel like we could ever make the wrong decision by choosing family.  So we chose our families. 

My dad can teach Henry and Addie about cars and Michael's dad can teach them how to fish.  Adeline's aunts can teach her how to accessorize, and that no matter what anyone says you can never have too many pairs of boots.

And in the midst of all this family.  I'll be able to do something amazing.


Just kidding.  Kind of.

Soon we will say goodbye to North Carolina and hello to Iowa to start a new chapter in our lives.  We just wanted everyone here to know how much they have meant to us. 

I'll leave it at that before I start quoting the lyrics to Jason Aldean's 'Fly Over States'.


Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone for making it so easy to fall in love with North Carolina.  

And to our friends and family at home, we can't wait.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Our Genetically Modified Catastrophe.

Well, Henry said 'shit' yesterday.

It was bound to happen.  With a mother like me.

Although I am very good about not swearing in front of my children, I was forced to do battle with a giant, mutant killer bee that was trying to sting me in my jugular in the middle of my kitchen.

I dare you to not say 'shit' when you are doing this.

I had tried to kill the bee/wasp/vampire yellow jacket (I'm not sure what it was, but I guarantee you, it was not natural) ten minutes prior.  But all I did was piss it off. 

I presume I unknowingly bred this beast-insect myself, by accident. 

Stupid me, trying to be a good mother (I always get myself in trouble when I try and do that) I buy fruits and vegetables for my children to snack on.

Come to find out, you're not actually a good mother unless you take label reading classes, (which I'm sure are offered at your local Whole Foods!) and do extensive research to make sure none of your produce is genetically modified and has never been touched by an errant chemical molecule other than pure spring-fed water and liquid love.

I guess that's a great lesson to learn early on;  Motherhood is a tricky bitch.  Just when you think you're really on a roll, someone is going to tell you you're killing your children by not buying organic apples or by giving your child a baby carrot.  I guess baby carrots are a big chemically leaden no-no.  Color me surprised to find out that if I feed Henry carrots in that form, I may as well just dump chlorine all over him and light him on fire. 

I suppose my only option is to hire live-in help so I can fly down to Guatemala and source my own produce, fresh from the jungle.  I'm sure I'll have to be quarantined for an unspecified amount of time and when I get back Addie will be starting Kindergarten, but it will still be cheaper than buying an organic orange at Fresh Market.

Sorry, I got side-tracked.  It's probably a mental defect because I just ate a strawberry from Walmart. 

Very likely the same strawberry that the mutant bee-wasp snacked on before he grew fangs, breathed fire and decided to try and kill me.

The mutant was seen and heard buzzing in the kitchen light fixture (As Henry reminded me on repeat for 10 solid minutes.)

Henry: "Mommy, there's a bee in the light.  Bzzzzzzz. Mommy there's a bee in the light. Bzzzzzzzzz. Mommy, there's a bee in the light. Bzzzzzzzzzzz.  Mommy, there's a bee in the light. Bzzzzzzz. Mommy there's a bee in the light. Bzzzzzz........x 5000."

Me:  "Okay, go stand over there, love.  I'm going to get it so it doesn't kill us all."  (I guarantee if he grows up with an irrational fear of bees, I had nothing to do with it.)

I had already managed to show it my cards by trying to beat it with a JC Penny coupon catalogue. (Which I think just angered it even more.  In retrospect, the mutant bee-wasp just wanted to die with some dignity;  at the hands of the J. Crew Spring Catalogue.  It's the way I would want to go.)

In flashbacks, I remember seeing a glimpse of the wasp-bat as it emerged from the fixture and flew straight at my head. 

I screamed and danced around swinging blindly.

I vaguely remember noticing that there was no more incessant buzzing.  Which I slowly realized meant that the wasp-bat-snake was no longer airborne. 

However, I circled slowly and couldn't see it anywhere...

And then in a very "the call is coming from inside the house" moment, I realized I couldn't find it because it was on me.

And then I blacked out.

Me:  "Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit, Shit."

Finally, after an undetermined amount of time, I bested the bee-spider and it lay twitching on the kitchen floor.

Staring down at it, Henry said the same thing we all do when we've witnessed something so horrific and or awesome that our brain is having trouble processing it:

Henry:  "Shit, mommy."

It was hard to argue with that assessment.

I guess the real irony is, I'm told the world will end when all the bees are gone.

Maybe the upside is, by that time the evil (but, conveniently inexpensive) genetically modified food we've been ingesting will have given us superpowers.  Like wings. 

Probaby wings and gills. 

So we will be able to escape into the sea and survive the beeless catastrophe that I, once again unknowingly, and with the best of intentions, created for myself.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Formula = Not Unicorn Tears

Brace yourselves.  Or as Samuel L. Jackson would say,

"Hold on to your butts."

(Sorry, am I the only one who quotes Jurassic Park!?)

I have a fan.

Now wipe that shocked look off your face and let's all give a round of applause to my one fan, "J."

She is a new mom, living in Florida.  And she looks like a freaking super model or really, really classy porn star. (By the way you should take that as a compliment.  Because that is totally how I meant it.)

Super, super beautiful. 

Her long blond locks are always styled to perfection and she has a gorg baby boy. 

Sounds like Ms. "J" has been having a rough time lately.

Because being a new mom can be hard on a gal.  And that's just the truth. 

This shit ain't for the weak.  (I apologize, I'm kind of stuck in Samuel L. Jackson mode now.  I'm trying to turn it off.)

SO, I have had a request to write a little something about formula. 

And, if there's anything I can do to help out a fellow mom in need, well I'm damn well gonna do it.

So if you don't give a toot about hearing about formula, then go on your merry way and we'll see ya when we see ya. 

I am going to preface this whole discussion with this:

If you find yourself looking for formula because you tried breastfeeding and it didn't work out, or you breastfed as long as you could and now you are weaning baby, or you breastfed and now baby is weaning him or herself, or you're going back to work, or you just don't want to breastfeed, etc;

First of all, STOP CRYING.

That is step one.

(Cause, Lawwd knows, it can be hard.)

Put the baby down.  Wipe your tears and have a cocktail, girl.

We are celebrating.  No matter what you did, you tried.  And now you're moving onwards and upwards and your baby is going to be fine.

Better than fine, in fact.

Your baby will be fat and happy and smart and healthy. 

So, relax. 

Now, I'll tell you what I know (which might not really be more than the average Joe, but I will open up the floor to comments at the end; so hopefully if we pool our brains (?) we can all get something out of this!)

There are many, many brands of formula.  This can be extremely overwhelming for the formula newbie.  Because as a new mom, you want to make sure you are buying "the best."  And you will find that no one is going to be able to tell you what is "the best."  Because they are all good, and they will all nourish your baby.  The government has regulated baby formula, so each kind has to meet specific standards.  We began using Enfamil with my son, solely because those were the samples they sent us home with from the hospital. 

It could have just as easily been Similac. 

People have asked me in the past what kind of formula we use in the intensive care nursery, so for what it's worth, we mostly use Enfamil products in my nursery.  But we do stock Similac.  So don't take that as one being better than the other.  We are also sending many babies home now on the Gerber Good Start formula.  This is the formula that WICC is now using, so that's one I'm seeing more and more of.  There are also specialized (read, very expensive) formulas out there for infants with milk allergies, etc.

Now that you've chosen which brand you prefer, there are ten different options within that brand... 


As always, first consult with your pediatrician and see if he or she has any specific recommendations that would be particularly good for your baby. 

(And if you have a premature infant, or received special dietary instructions for your infant when it was discharged from the hospital, ALWAYS follow those directions.)

Adeline uses the Target brand Gentlease.

She was a farty little thing in the beginning, so we opted to try out the Gentlease formula which claims to help with gas and be easier to digest.  Just like "Gripe water" or Mylicon drops whether it actually makes that much of a difference is debatable. 

But, you will find, as a new parent you will cling to any shred of hope.  And then you will convince yourself that it is getting better. 

It's a survival technique.

And no, you did not read that wrong.  I did say we used the Target brand. 

Many new parents find it economically easier to buy generic formula.  I know people that have used Costco's generic formula as well.


(Geez, I feel like I'm yelling at you guys a lot in this post.  Sorry, I guess I'm just super impassioned by this discussion.)

You may find that you are not in charge of what your little Duke or Duchess drinks, anyhow.  The little tots can be picky!  You may be forced to give them whatever they will deign to drink.  For this reason I do not recommend buying a specific kind in bulk until you are sure that your baby will drink it.

(Same goes for baby bottles and pacifiers.  But that's a whole different post.)

If you are really struggling to find a formula that your baby finds agreeable, because baby is used to your breastmilk, you may try mixing them together to ease them into the new menu.

Ex.  If you're making a four ounce bottle, mix three ounces breastmilk and one ounce formula.  Keep decreasing the amount of breastmilk and increasing the ratio of formula.  They just may need a little time to adjust.

(We had to do the same thing with Henry when it was time to switch from formula to whole milk.  And it did work.)

I would not use this mixing strategy if, by doctor's orders, you need to have your baby on higher calorie formula.  Breastmilk and standard formula are both 20 calories/ounce, so mixing them will not change the net caloric intake.  If you are mixing plain breastmilk with a higher calorie formula it will dilute the caloric value.  And for little teeny-weenies that is not what we want.

We want fat babies!

Many new parents also find that their baby's poop-a-dupe changes drastically with the switch to or addition of formula.

And this is not uncommon.

Addie's poops turned army green.  A little off-putting, but completely normal. 

You will find there is a vast, vast range of what is considered normal in baby poop.  The color or consistency may change, and the frequency may definitely change. 

As always, if you have any concern, call your pediatrician. 

Lord knows.  I make our pediatrician work.

(Bloody stools, or stool that looks like coffee grounds = never normal.  Get your ass to el doctor.)

Since babies don't just chew on the powder, we have to mix it with water.

(God, babies.  So high maintenance.)

We use the jugs of baby water from the store. 

Much of this depends on the water in your area and the age of your home.  There can be varying levels of different elements in tap water that you may not want your baby to have.

We used tap water with Henry. 

We use bottled water for the princess.

Both children are perfect.  (In my ever-so-humble opinion.)

If you do decide to use tap water, let the faucet run a bit before you fill up your bottle, just to flush out the water that was sitting in your pipes. 

(Be a good person and save it to water your plants or something.)

It is not advised to use warm tap water for bottle mixing.  Use cold water and then a bottle warmer if you must.

Sorry this is getting long and boring.  But you have a baby now.  So, I'm guessing your days of fast-living are over, anyhow. 

So I'll just go on.

Breastmilk, like unicorn tears, has special properties. 

Freshly pumped breastmilk can sit out unrefrigerated for a period of time.

Mixed formula can not.

The directions say to mix what is needed for the feeding and discard unused after feeding or within one hour.

You guys be good and read the directions. 

Sometimes.  When God has his back turned because he's busy dealing with Lindsey Lohan or comforting a brokenhearted Taylor Swift; I will put a full fresh four ounce bottle back in the refrigerator after Addie takes two pulls off it and then decides she's not interested. 

This is against the rules.  I'm probably going to Hell.  But I do not let it sit out and I do not keep it in the refrigerator for more than three hours.  I will rewarm it for her next feed.  (I would not do this for a premature infant, newborn or other baby that may be more sensitive.)

Addie's a hoss.

Someone can write me a comment telling me about how I'm going to give her dysentery or make her explode or something and I promise I'll stop.

I just die a little inside when I have to poor that much formula down the sink.  I just see the money slidin' down the drain.

[Goodbye nice things See ya never.]

So I've written you a book.  About formula.

And still not addressed many things. 

But that's life.

Please feel free to leave additional questions, or PLEASE leave comments if you feel you have further wisdom to share.  Or tell me that I'm a fucking wing-nut and I'm completely wrong.  I adore those comments. 

Thanks "J" for reading and making me feel like a celebrity.

Just keep on keepin' on.  You got this, girl.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Delightful DIYs

For the non-SAHMs and unPinterest addicted (I think those two are probaby synonymous), I thought I'd share what you've been missing on Pinterest, while you're off doing fabulous things, having a fabulous time.

I'm somewhat of a serial-crafter.  I love me a good DIY.

These are some of the beauts I've stumbled across lately:

1.  Your hallway looking a little drab?  Need a little lift?

Just break out the glue gun and some old Kenny G CDs.

Seriously y'all.

When you have people over you may need to break out the acid wash jeans and your banana clips to complete the trip back to 1990 though. 

(I don't even know the rules about reposting pictures from Pinterest on here and for some reason can't get the source of this.  But since this blog is not a money making venture and no one really cares, I don't think there's much to worry about.   If you are looking for it on Pinterest, just search "broken cd mirror".   And then automatically unfriend me.  I don't think we're right for eachother.)

2.  I think it needs to be said that a white flip flop is a white flip flop. 

There is no dressing up a white flip flop. 

Or is there!?

Make a 99 cent shoe...look like a $2.50 shoe.

(If you're going to do this please follow the directions and 'just add a pedicure'.  I'm hoping that the pedicure will distract from the greasy black foot stains on your bedazzled flops.)
3.   Don't throw away your old paper towel rolls.

Please make these:

And then send me some pictures.

(Again, trouble finding a source. I did manage to find one link that wouldn't fully load.  It looked like it was in Swedish.  Those crazy Sweds.  Just search 'cardboard tube cats.'  And then message me and I'll give you my phone number and we can be best friends.)


People will put anything in a mason jar.

Here's a turd in a mason jar.

Put it on your mantle.  Or possibily hang it from a tree in your yard.  Which I guess is something else people do with mason jars.

I'm baffled, but I'm pretty sure if I wrapped a burlap bow around the top, heads would be heard exploding 'round the world. Or maybe just around the contiguous United States... below the Mason-Dixon line... east of the Mississippi.  Add a monogram and you could take over the South.

(If you need directions for this:  it's lights...stuffed in a mason jar.)


The funny thing is, I'm sure I know plenty of actual people in my life that would do this.

Unfortunately, I am not one of them. 

Legos are expensive, yo.

(Damn, I thought I had that Mom of the Year award on lockdown.  For all of you still in the running, just search 'lego invitation'.  And don't worry about it; I'll just assume ours got lost in the mail.)


DIY drawstring pants

There has got to be someone in this girl's life that said, I think straight leg may be a better look.

I feel sure of it.

Coming next week:  The DIY Magic Carpet. 

7.  Your dog will hate you forever.

Unless your whole family was going as the Fruit of the Loom characters, and you needed the dog to finish it out.

Then I'm pretty sure the dog would just be happy to be a part of something so amazing.

9.  I had no idea that college freshman everywhere were so eager to figure out how to make a projector for their dorm room.

Of course there are days when I think I can still smell the Long Island Iced Tea coming out of my pores and I graduated in 2005. 

I bet if I would've went to more projector parties I wouldn't have changed my major five times.

10.  Formula-feeding moms get dogged on sometimes.

But I'd just like to point out that I can repurpose my formula containers.

You can't mod podge scrapbook paper on your boobs and store colored pencils in them, can you?

Can you?

That's what I thought. 

Point to the bottle feeders.