Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mama's Best Friend - THE BEST DOG

One year ago today, we lost our furry four-legged baby. The first. The (one and ) only so far. I still think of him and am brought to tears by how much I miss him.

 I got Jack when I was in college. Even though I really had no business getting a dog, as I could barely take care of myself and it was an impulsive decision, he changed my life and perspective on the world the second I brought him home. He was always happy. Always ready for a walk, to play, to snuggle up with me on the couch. He deserved better then, and I can only hope I made up for it over the course of his life. He was such a special dog, and for some reason he chose me to care for him and love him and be part of his pack. 
For that, I am forever grateful.

Jack was seriously the best dog ever. Even people who had their own dogs would tell me he was the best dog ever. He was fun, and loving, and friendly, and my shadow for 14 years. He would stay with me in bed if I was having a bad day, and not nudge me to play or exercise him, he was intuitive to my needs as I was to his. I knew when there was something wrong with him, just by a look he would get, like when he was going to have a seizure or when he tried to tell us to finally let him go.

Jack would jump off the diving board to rescue his pack members when they were in the pool. He would race up and down the sides of the pool and then jump in enthusiastically to cool down. He loved to chase the seagulls on the beach and walked with me as though he never got tired.

He loved to visit different lakes, and would wade in to cool off or for a drink or just to swim around a little. He wholeheartedly accepted Scott as his "new alpha" and eventually would burrow under the covers on his side of the bed instead of snuggling up with me, and I affectionately called him a traitor. 

He was always happy. When the Midglet joined us, he would be his warm pillow for daytime naps. He was as protective of the littlest one as he was of the rest of us. He loved fiercely and loyally. When he passed, the outpouring of sympathy and kind words we received showed me how many lives he touched with his happy disposition, his howling on command, his antics and love. 

He is missed and loved and will forever stay in our hearts. He was THE BEST DOG.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

toddlers and the superpower of time management

So let me start by saying I have never been very punctual. To me, time has always seemed like a fluid thing, kind of an "on time is when I get there;" an abstract notion in the universe. The problem with that attitude is that everyone else expects you to be on time for ______ - appointments, school, work, special things like your wedding or your parent's 50th anniversary party. I do try to get ready and be to things on time, and sometimes I succeed, but not always. It's the cause of numerous fights with my husband, and I can probably count on one hand how often I was on time to work in the past month. 

I was not prepared, however, of the need to be super-time-manager (who knew it was a superpower?) when my son was born. I was OK at the beginning. I remember sitting on my bed, double breast pump action going while applying my makeup and petting the poor neglected dog with my foot. I prepared dinner while the Midglet rested comfortably in the Baby Bjorn. I cleaned and wrote thank you notes and even got out for lunches. I absorbed the superpower and was winning the battle!

Then he got a little older and then mobile and then was walking, and we needed to rethink our exit strategies. Somehow my super-time-manager power wore off and the super-late-for-everything power kicked back in. And then things kind of tapered off as we got into a routine. Mornings weren't so tough anymore, we were able to leave the house without SWAT intervention, and it seemed OK. Any parent reading this who still has an infant - be prepared. This is simply the calm before the storm. Because then your little one enters toddlerhood, and all bets are off. And I mean, off. You will sit and wonder how you were ever a self-sufficient, efficient, functional, contributing member of society. And how you ever were able to jump in the shower, get dressed and go somewhere in T-minus 12.4 minutes flat. You start believing you toddler is possessed by demons, because in a matter of 30 seconds the tornado of destruction that hit your living room, of course immediately after everything was put away and tidied, could certainly not be caused by your sweet, adorable little munchkin. 

You realize you may never be on time for anything ever again. You look around you and just gaze past the trucks strewn everywhere, the cat licking the cream cheese off the couch next to where a half-eaten bagel lays, the Play-doh stuck to the underside of your shoe. You can't think about it, because if you do your head might explode with the frustration. And then on the flip side of that, you come home immediately panic that someone broke in while you were away, never mind that you had to unlock the deadbolt coming in, and while they didn't take anything they sure made a huge mess!!

These are my mornings. This is my living room. It seems like it's every morning and that it's never going to be any different. I look at my son, and he's so sweet and delicious, and then his head spins around like Linda Blair and he's off on a path of mischief-making. While we don't know always what sets him off (that's another post, for another time), it's certain that whatever poor time management skills I had before he was born are just emphasized daily by him and the constant unpredictable nature that is toddlerhood. And every time (no pun intended) I think I've got a handle on it, I realize he's smarter than me and will always win. Always. 
Look at that sweet face - does he look like he could be the cause of so much chaos??

I call this "Reasons I'm late now that I'm a parent," or "It's because of the kid I'm always late."
  1. Poop. Always with the poop.
  2. “No I don't wanna wear that!"
  3. I forgot the stroller in the garage. I'm already driving and 10 minutes away from home.
  5. Potty. Potty. Potty.
  6. “Mommy, I want chocolate milk to bring."
  7. ME: "Did you get the diaper bag ready?" HIM: "No, I thought it was ready from yesterday." ME: SIGH (insert eye roll and inevitable argument here)
  8. I forgot my car keys.
  9. "Put your shoes on. Why are your shoes off? Didn't we just put them on?"
  10. “Mommy, my tummy hurts." Commence with the potty routine.
  11. I locked myself out. With the toddler screaming about juice or food or a toy I inevitably forgot to grab on my way out the door, only to leave my keys inside with said item.
  12. WTF is all over my shirt?
  13. "Mommy, I want juice to bring."
  14. "Oh no, my frozen yogurt is broken!!!"
  15. I can't find my shoes. Where are my shoes? Oh, there they are, shoved under the bookshelf. Because that's where they belong.
  16. "Mommy, I need to go potty!!!"
  17. "I didn't get to push Daddy out the door!!"
  18. Mommy just can't take it and needs to sit down for 2 minutes.
  19. "Put your jacket on. Why is your jacket off? Didn't we just put it on?"
  20. I dropped my car keys in the recycling bin in the garage. And then spent 20 minutes looking for my keys everywhere but the recycling bin.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Autumn baking with the Midglet! Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

I love these muffins - they are very easy to make, easy to substitute organic and alternative ingredients, and delicious to eat!! 

I got the recipe from several years ago and it's been a fall staple in our house since. I especially enjoy it now that I can bake with The Midglet! He loves cooking and baking activities and we are definitely a cook-together family.

You can substitute white flour for whole wheat flour, white sugar for raw sugar, and vegetable oil for olive oil. I prefer baking with white refined sugar, so I use non-organic if it's what's available. I also doubled the recipe for our baking day. For the chocolate, I use dark and semi-sweet chips. I will sometimes make a cream cheese frosting as a topping, but the muffins don't NEED them so we didn't this time. 

We had so much fun making these during our play date with Moxie! It was a little hectic in the kitchen with these two, I didn't have the opportunity to adequately photograph the ingredients. There's always next time! Maybe we'll make them again for Thanksgiving :)

I was so excited to find some ghost shaped baking cups in my baking cupboard! I completely forgot I had them, and since we made these before Halloween, it was perfect! They made HUGE muffins, so the doubled recipe = 16 of these baking cups.

And of course the best part of baking is the EATING!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Co-sleeping...and why I haven't slept in over 2 years

I remember when I was pregnant announcing "I'm never going to co-sleep. I value my own sleep too much." I didn't put a bassinet or small sleeper on the registry, even though I wanted to breast feed, because I was also going to pump and we were going to successfully use bottles and the breast. I was so idealistic throughout my pregnancy, and why wouldn't I be? I didn't know any differently. 

Then The Midglet arrived and I was over all that, given a shock of a lifetime. I never wanted to put him down nor did I want him out of my sight. I was in love. I was in shock. I was in for a rude awakening. 

Someone fell asleep during tummy time.
Fortunately there was a soft landing.

I became the queen of co-sleeping, and my husband, Scott, was the king. This kid was always asleep on me, on him, or even on the dog. I called Scott one day and said we NEEDED this so he picked up a Fisher Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper and I put it next to the bed. I brought it with me wherever we went; it was super convenient for travel and I always wanted the little bugger at least next to me (if not on me). 
Even though we were successful in the bottle/breast endeavors and my husband was able to participate in the feedings overnight so I could sleep, I was blessed with the child that wanted to have a full feeding every 3 hours. Despite the pediatrician's reassurances "He just wants comfort, he's not really hungry," I was deflated in the middle of the night either by The Midglet or by the breast pump because I was a milk cow and would become engorged by hour 4. 

This was just the beginning of my sleepless nights as a parent. The Midglet breast fed for the first year, when he weaned himself around 11.5 months. He didn't sleep through the night until after 10 months, and even then I still had to get up to pump sometimes. After that came the lull that made us believe co-sleeping was over and done and we may sleep through the night some day. 

Ahhh, the idealistic dreaming of parenthood. Fast forward and we have sick nights, nights where we all fall asleep watching movies, and just the random "Mommmmeeeeeee" wailing and climbing out of his bed and I'm too tired to even recognize that I picked him up and brought him back to bed with me. Unfortunately for us, The Guide to Baby Sleep Positions: Survival Tips for Co-Sleeping Parents came out 2 years too late, however it does read as a look-back on our first 2.5 years sleeping with The Midglet. 

We also have the refusals to nap, the falling asleep in the car and then not making it in the house without him waking up, and my personal favorite "NOOOOOOO, I don't want to sleep in my bed!!!!" Then come the sweet moments when I wake up in the middle of the night because a little hand is reaching out for me, putting his little hand on my shoulder to be closer, or even trying to wedge himself under me just to be close to me. 

Scott and I complain we're exhausted and he needs to sleep in his own bed, but there's something about that little face whispering at me in the morning, or grabbing my hands and making them clap because he's singing "Happy and you know it" and it's time to clap. These little sweet moments when he's wide eyed and his imagination is running wild thinking about what he's going to do that day. Even those moments when he climbs all over me in an effort to get at the cat so he can "ticky ticky ticky" her under the chin as she attempts to run away. 

I'm happy to be exhausted if it means I get to snuggle with my little man, this one tiny human, for just a minute or two longer. I understand the idioms - don't blink, growing like a weed - because they're true. He's so sweet and lovable and I can't imagine a time when he's not going to want to snuggle up on my lap or cuddle with me in bed. I don't want to. I want to see this sweet face sleeping and waking up in the morning, even if it means I have to survive on vitamins and caffeine in giant quantities for a few years. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Trucks and Tutus

This is my son, affectionately referred to as The Midglet. He's almost 3. He loves trucks, cars, tractors, construction equipment, and just about anything with wheels. He also loves tutus, tiaras, barrettes, makeup and nail polish.

 One day, picking him up from school, he refused to take off the "tutu" from the costume station (really, a pink skirt) until I reminded him he had this tutu at home. He relented and removed the school's costume in favor of immediately getting his tutu at home.

He then wore this tutu for days, over his clothes, pajamas, even on a 6 hour car ride to visit his Nani & Pops. He was so proud, spinning around and telling Daddy & Pops he was a ballerina or princess. 

My husband and his father were not the most supportive of these developments, my father-in-law even said to my son he didn't understand what the Midglet was talking about when he was wearing the tutu, and that lit a fire in me. I don't understand why or how it matters that a 2 year old boy shouldn't be allowed to dress up however he chooses. Fortunately the Midglet didn't catch on to the meaning under the words because he was too busy twirling. Later that same evening, my son got all dressed up as a princess when we were spending time with some other friends & their kids. Dress, barrettes, tiara, dress-up heels, jewelry - the works. He was so excited and all the other kids didn't say boo about it. My friends and I thought it was fabulous as he was so happy!

He is a boy - he loves all things "boy" and then some. He wants to help me with my makeup in the morning and loves going through my cases (as a makeup artist I have a lot of products) and there are even times I'll give him some foundation or BB cream or finishing powder to play with because as I see it, what's the harm? 

My husband worries - he doesn't want him to get made fun of or bullied for choosing to go outside the box. My response? He's 2. He spent most of his first 2.5 years surrounded by women and his little BFF is a girl 4 months younger. He doesn't see the stigmas associated with dressing up in "girl" clothes, and why should he?

He loves to run and play and pee in the bushes (a byproduct of potty training during the summer). 
He also loves cooking and "helping" in the kitchen. He loves race cars and pirates and big trucks and monsters. He also loves Tangled and The Little Mermaid. He might live outside if we let him, while getting dirty and learning about nature. 

I'm proud he doesn't have to worry about what other kids or parents think about his choice of play. He loves that tutu, thinks it's the best thing ever one day, then doesn't look at it for another month. If he wants to dress up as a princess, I'll be first in line to help him find the costume he wants. I tell my husband not to worry - "He's just 2," I say. "There's nothing wrong with it," I say. 

I worry, though, too. I worry the Midglet will lose his innocence and one day recognize the message of "boys don't dress up in tutus." I worry he'll come home crying and upset because a less tolerant child (or parent) makes a comment that wrecks his sense of self and independence. I worry that I won't be able to kiss it away and that he'll stuff that tutu in the corner of his closet. I can only hope that my drive to instill in him his individuality and self-protection is enough. That he responds to someone less tolerant with a simple "I like it, and that's what matters." That he encourages that other child, or parent, to think outside the box. That he keeps teaching me what it is to embrace the not-so-obvious needs of a well-rounded parent.